Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Windows XP... still alien and hostile under the hood

Apparently, a Compaq Presario V6101US can't run MySQL next to both Symantec Internet Security and Windows Personal Firewall. I wrestled with this until 4 a.m. last night, and I'm still puzzled, especially since I know I've got port 3306 open. This stuff runs OUT OF THE BOX on Macintosh OS X 10.3.9 and any Linux distro you care to name!


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Essential Windows XP

Software I can't live without:
  • Open Office

  • The Gimp

  • Apache

  • Firefox

  • Outlook Express

  • PDFCreator

  • StickyPad

  • Werner Randelshofer's CubeTwister

  • WinFrotz

  • igowin

  • MultiGo 4

  • Kogo's Joseki Dictionary

  • GNU Go

  • Konfabulator (aka Yahoo! Widget Engine)

  • iTunes (if I must...)

  • JellyFish Lite 3.5


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (BBC)

What! What?! The grand old Douglas Adams website has mirrored the great man's online text adventure game at BBC 4, where it runs with some really nifty visual blandishment.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Lost in translation...

This is an automatic Google translation to English from a Chinese translation of Jack Williamson & James E. Gunn's Star Bridge (Chapter 13, evidently):

"Everyone changed. "Wu old man's voice in the ring for the quiet which was startling. "Only one way to allow the situation to remain static. North Korea then so it will not suffer any side in the direction of change. Let us choose export all people, In addition to the tests because, as we have every reason to believe that he will not hide behind the wall after gunmen unfavorable. In a signal, Let us move toward their chosen exports, we aim at the same time, our respect for the security and then leave the same time. "

The original text:

“NONE OF us wants to die.” Wu’s voice was shockingly loud in the silence. “There is only one way to keep the situation static until it can be altered without disadvantage to either side. Let us choose exits, all but Duchane. He, we hope, is in no danger from the gunmen behind the wall. At a signal, let us go to our chosen exits, keeping our worthy Security Director in aim, and leave simultaneously.”

Sunday, January 21, 2007

vcards rock

The transition from Macintosh to Compaq hasn't been effortless, but at least vcards work. The Mac address book exports a vcard file with DOS line endings, and the Outlook Express address book reads it just fine. By comparison, I had to import Safari bookmarks into Camino, export that from Camino to TextWrangler to DOS-ify the line ends, then sneakernet it to the Presario — where IE 7 does not read it, but at least I've got an html file with all the old links intact.

Also, I've learned that 3.5" floppy drives are obsolete, as well as archaic. If you're moving data by sneakernet, the vector of choice is a 1 gig thumb drive, $39.99 at Target.

That said, I have to say I'm bemused by this Presario V6101US notebook, and Windows XP. Just about every objection I had to Windows '95 has been answered. I'm even using a wireless optical USB 2.0 Microsoft mouse.

I'm going to put Ubuntu on the Mac, instead of OS X 10.4, and see what that's like before the hinge cable breaks.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

An experiment to see if black holes are recursive

My theory that the Universe is pretty strange is widely shared by a lot of theologians... err... natural philosophers... err... physicists, but my particular crackpot notion about black holes has a testable lemma:

To wit, if black holes are recursive (that is, the inside of a black hole in our universe is exactly like the outside), then you have two immediate consequences:

1) heavy elements like gold, uranium, etc. are formed INSIDE the event horizon, and

2) heavy elements are evenly distributed throughout the universe, not just in the vicinity of supernovae.

We'll see.



I should have done a little research, I guess. It turns out that HP computers, including the Compaq Presario V6101US, are sold jammed with "free trials" — the desktop clutter is almost unbelievable, once the glow is gone and the work is beginning. Plus, the crap takes up room. Two exasperations:

1) Vongo. Vongo sucks boogers. I can't imagine a use for it, even if you WANTED what it does, which, apparently, is nothing more than showing movies for a price. And, brother, does this software get up on its hind end if you try to delete it! There's a quick, nasty fix — run msconfig and turn off ISUSPM, an InstallShield automatic update service that finds an instruction buried DEEEEEEP in the system to RELOAD the Vongo crap you just wiped up and flushed. Not really InstallShield's fault, in the sense that you can use a Colt .45 in Texas, but using it in Windows XP to rob piggy banks is just as morally futzworthy as Enron, IMHO.

2) Well... The other exasperation was nowhere near as hard sell as Vongo, so I don't think I'll mention it just now.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Eheu fugaces, Mac

Well, technically, it ain't dead yet, but my patience for this old dual USB iBook (white, chiclet) has expired. We needed a computer that works exactly like the stuff at my daughter's middle school — so we bought a Compaq Presario this evening.

The Mac is too small, too slow and too old. The hinge is wearing out and the hard drive (I think?) whines like an asthmatic top. And there's no room...! When it wakes up from sleep, only the red pixels are warm — blues slide in later. I bought the Mac for work, and wound up feeling cornered by it. Seven years is enough.

I just paid $700 for a notebook that is 8 times bigger and 4 times faster than a Mac laptop that set me back about $1600 in 2000. The Compaq looks fairly rugged, too. We'll see.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

I'm still a fan, by the way

Seventeen is not as sweet as sixteen, is it? I'm still a Michelle Wie fan — she's my idea of the Kansas City Chiefs. But $10 million bucks can sure be a nasty bed of fish hooks if you're paid to be sexy and virginal and good at golf. Normal contracting is bad enough, but that kind of open-ended prom date must be hell. Which is where I'd tell 'em all to go, starting with the million-dollar swing doctors. Nobody was giving her lessons when nobody knew she was good.


Okami: How to Ring the Epicurean Bell

This is a maddening little puzzle which the cheatsheets refuse to solve, so...


Don't try to Power Slash the epicurean bell in Moon Cave, you're just wasting time and ink. Instead...


... hit it with your head. Eight times.

I owe my thirteen-year-old a day of uninterrupted play at the videogame of her choice for solving that. Whoa. Feeling old and inflexible, here. I laughed when I saw her beat the bell like that. Maybe the torch has passed... Heh.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

pastormelissascott dot com?

This kid shows up on Channel 15 in Cedar Rapids, every so often. She has phenomenal media savvy... I can't decide if she's a con artist or not. The message seems on task, but what is all this arm-waving and bedazzle-icious symbolism about? (Yes, it's Greek to me, too ;-)

It must be a fun religion, though. If you listen long enough, and watch the whiteboard heiroglyphics fly, you come away with the solid impression that everything YOU don't understand — i.e, all the gnarly theological stuff — SHE gets just fine. Nothing for YOU to worry about, It's All In Good Hands.

She has one tiny flaw, if that's possible — viz., she tends to elide opposing viewpoints slightly, summarizing them as "Blah, blah, blah."



Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Army Powers Vested in the U.S. Congress

Speaking of history, I'd like to remind the crackerjack tinhorn Napoleons passing themselves off as conservatives these days that the Continental Congress raised the army that defeated George III, the Continental Congress hired the general who won the war, and THAT man — one George Washington by name — demurred to the Continental Congress and the American people by declining the laurels of dictatorship and retiring to Virginia, like a new Cincinnatus, thereby enobling himself to posterity forever.

In deference to these powerful precedents, the Founding Fathers vested in the United States Congress the self-same powers to raise an army, raise taxes, and most importantly TO WAGE WAR, giving only George Washington's modest styling Commander in Chief, to the U. S. President, subject to Congressional oversight.

Furthermore, the Founding Fathers recognized the dangers of an unfettered rogue mutinous dog President — the awful spectacle of Oliver Cromwell then being in their eyes, confirmed somewhat later by the even worse excesses of Napolean Bonaparte — by giving to the U. S. Congress the authority to impeach and remove from office the Self-Anointed Chief Deciders grasping authority run amok.

So, yes! The Congress has a great deal of Constitutional authority vested in itself, vastly more than simple powers of oversight. And if George W. Bush doesn't come soon to heel, the scholars of arcane Constitutional law will soon begin appearing from the woodwork, as they did in the weeks before Nixon resigned.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Okami Amaterasu

It's funny that the village swordsman is a clown named Susano, and that there are a lot of straw donkeys cluttering up the landscape. Of course, you have to be familiar with the mythology of Amaterasu, the ancient Nipponese sun goddess, to know why that's funny... Enough, I'll just suggest you look it up. And Amaterasu as a wolf? Astonishing!

I had this game for about 2 hours before my wolf-loving daughter took it over. She solved the puzzles I solved in half the time, and has loped far ahead of me in the game.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

iPod shuffle (2nd Gen) erases content

There doesn't seem to be a setting to force manual content management on those tiny new iPod shuffles. No matter how you check dem marks, if it ain't in iTunes when you plug your iPod back in, it ain't in your iPod ... automatically. That's $80 bucks of aggravation I wouldn't buy twice.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Meeting Buddhas on the road...

There was on the news the other evening (possibly one of CNN's After Jesus angst-fests) the story about a woman whose house was blown away in three successive years by hurricanes or tornadoes, or whatever — so she took her collection of Blessed Virgin Mary statues and buried them in a field.

If I ever win the lottery, maybe I'll buy that field. It reminds me of the old Zen story, the admonition about meeting Buddha on the road, to wit: "Kill him."

This is the kind of thing about Zen that never makes sense. Killing the Buddha, of course, is the crime which landed one of Buddha's disciples in The Hell Called The Unending. In all my scraping through mystical nonsense, the only one who's ever got it right is Thich Nhat Han, or at least he's invariably the one I call as witness to a realization I had myself, personally, a few years ago.

That is, "Mind is No Mind" is not properly translated. It is simply an abstract logical formula, an assertion that X is inseparable from whatever is not X (the irreducible axiom in Buddhist thought, the inescapable illogic demanded by Gödel's Theorem, that makes this worldview work is Mind Only). In other words, a cat is not a cat — but by this (thanks, Master Hanh) is meant that a cat is NOT JUST a cat — it is also everywhere a cat goes, everything a cat does, even everything you think about a cat or cats or Catness. Inside and outside are permeable. Stuff the cat (the taxidermist's art, or the Victorians') and place it under glass, and there you go, not a cat!

There's no Buddha in the news these days. So... If you meet the Buddha on the road, you, my friend, are hallucinating and your best course is to just stop it. You're projecting your buddha-fantasies onto thin air. Actually, since the world is Mind Only, you're POPULATING the world reflection with unnecessary fantasias about yourself. Don't do that.

This is why the Bardo is so terrible, I think. When you die, you no longer participate in the mutual world co-implicate (that reflection of other minds whose other eyes once viewed this world at least as well as yours did), at least for awhile. If you have connections (friends, lovers, family, relations... anybody?), you plug in again, maybe on a higher plane. If you don't... Well... You tell yourself stories until you can't stand it. It's solitary, and they don't call it Stir for nothing. Then it comes...

Monday, January 01, 2007

Monday, Monday...

Changed the water in the fish tank. Guppy nirvana strikes again...