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August 2003

brett's logjam

September 2003

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October 2003

2 September 2003

weekend roundup

No weekend - no matter how relaxing - would be complete without home improvement projects. Merrystar painted the doors in the upstairs hall while I touched up the stairwell, attached the tall bookcase to the wall, and hung new cellular shades in the living room. The shades look much better than the venetian blinds, especially on the double windows - can’t wait to put up curtains in that room.

I am so glad that those doors are painted! The old trim looked orangey-purple next to the solid white trim.

Let’s see… Watched Two Towers this weekend. Still has inexplicable logistics (elves at Helms Deep in four days???) but overall still quite good. Return of the King looks excellent - no surprise there.

Went to IKEA (listening to ABBA on the way) at Merrystar’s suggestion that we get a billy with doors for the bedroom stereo/CD collection - assembled and installed that on Sunday. Works very well, looks nice. Why is it we keep coming back to the billy? Oh yeah, that’s right, because they’ve changed everything to be funky and lime green. I put my foot down at anything larger than a lime-green breadbox. Even then, I think I’ll put my foot down.

Found the first couch we both liked at Ethan Allen - but it’s twice as expensive as it should be (and that’s on sale). Found another couch at IKEA - but it comes in dark brown leather only, other colors not likely to arrive before 2004-2005. Everything else is too deep for Merrystar. We just want a shallow couch, people! Argh!

Personal Log

3 September 2003

I spent part of last evening (the part where I wasn’t watching Queer Eye, of course) updating Al-Rassan with the Red Hat Network and getting familiar with GNU/Linux. I am enchanted with it - Merrystar asked me what specifically I liked about it, and I could not answer her. (The best I could come up with was “I like the filesystem,” which is pretty lame, even if it’s true. I like having the same drives mean the same things on different systems (Al-Rassan and Scandium, in this case). I like the Bluecurve interface, though I’m sure it draws flack from UNIX diehards. I like that the battery monitor works better than the Windows one - and that the battery seems to last longer, but that’s not been rigorously tested yet.

But all these things aren’t quite it - which is why I’m enchanted.

I’ll think about this some more today and see if I can explain it any better.

Al-Rassan Log | Computer Log

That’s it! I’ve had it with ZoneAlarm! It is so out of there!

It’s time to find a new personal firewall for Windows.

Computer Log

4 September 2003

I am not a fan of the Redskins...

… and I’m even less likely to become one after this afternoon:

Fans headed to the Washington Redskins’ season-opening game tonight will have to contend with more than just the traffic crush that comes with having a prime-time sporting event at FedEx Field and a star-studded concert on the Mall around the same time that thousands of rush-hour commuters are heading home.

At the 86,484-seat stadium in Landover, many will encounter new parking arrangements that confused and maddened some fans during the exhibition season.

Having lost 5,000 parking spaces at the former US Airways Arena, where a shopping center is under construction, the Redskins have rented about 5,800 spaces at a patchwork of office parks along McCormick and Apollo drives in Landover. Fans accustomed to paying for parking at the Jericho City of Praise church lot will also be redirected; those spots are reserved for season ticket holders.

That’s my parking lot they’re talking about - Inphonic is right off McCormick. At 4pm the place will turn into a zoo - there’s already talk that we won’t be able to come back after lunch.

Thank you, NFL.

Personal Log

5 September 2003

Whilst contemplating finding and installing a new firewall and then systematically rooting through the damn registry to remove all the ZoneAlarm keys, I thought I’d read a little jwz drama to cheer me up:

And — let me emphasize — I do not enjoy this! Oh sure, you say, why do you keep doing it? I don’t know. I think I still enjoy writing software, usually. But what I end up spending almost all of my time doing is sysadmin crap. I hate it. I have always hated it. Always. If you made a Venn diagram, there would be two non-overlapping circles, one of which was labeled, “Times when I am truly happy” and the other of which was labeled, “Times when I am logged in as root, holding a cable, or have the case open.”

And like all relationship-drama fuckups, I seem to be incapable of just walking away. I finally got it together to leave that cesspool we call the computer industry and what did I do? I filled my nightclub with computers, and with insufficient budget to make them be someone’s problem other than mine.

I’ll be standing over here in the column labeled “DON’T”.

Computer Log

8 September 2003

White Wolf sues Sony over upcoming Underworld:

White Wolf, Inc. and Nancy A. Collins yesterday filed suit in US District court in Atlanta, Georgia against defendants Sony Pictures, Screen Gems and Lakeshore Entertainment, alleging 17 counts of copyright infringement for the film Underworld, set for release on September 19. White Wolf alleges that Underworld characters, theme and setting are based on White Wolf’s award winning games Vampire: The Masquerade(r) and Werewolf: The Apocalypse(tm), both set in White Wolf’s fictional World of Darkness(r). Further, Collins alleges that Underworld’s script is based on her 1994 story Love of Monsters, published by White Wolf and also set in the World of Darkness.

Plaintiffs claim over 60 points of unique similarity between Underworld and their work. “Ours is a huge fictional world, supported by over 200 volumes of fictional material,” asserts Mike Tinney, White Wolf’s President. “It’s infuriating to see Underworld’s script riddled with our property.” Plaintiffs also claim that Underworld’s entire plot is based on Collins’ short story Love of Monsters. “Apparently they are marketing this as a remake of Romeo and Juliet,” comments Collins. “What I think they really mean is that it’s an on-screen adaptation of my story.”

White Wolf and Collins are seeking immediate injunctive relief and damages. “The volume of confusion in our marketplace is amazing,” observes Tinney, “our fans think they’re going to be seeing our film. Of course, if the movie gets released, in a way they will be.”

Game Log

Tempting fate.

So, I just pulled up Task Manager on my computer at work and
realized I haven’t rebooted in 9 days, 19 hours, 24 minutes.

I wonder how long I can keep it going without major loss of data?

Must investigate further: MIT OpenCourseWare | History.


9 September 2003

One would expect that the wireless industry would not need CITA’s Code For Wireless Service.

One would be wrong.

Web Log

10 September 2003

I always worry when one of my hobbies winds up in the news.

Personal Log

11 September 2003

On the way into work today, I saw a jeep wrangler with the following sign upside down on its rear bumper:

if you can read this, ROLL ME OVER

Good advice.

In the spirit of the day, I began reading Bruce Schneier’s Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World last night. (Predictably, I stayed up far too late reading. What was that note to self again?)

Halfway through it, I think it’s fantastic - instead of focusing on one aspect or type of security, it’s concerned with how to think about and evaluate security, safety, and risk. Well done. Go read it now.

Personal Log

Things that will make you reboot your computer: Buffer Overrun In RPCSS Service Could Allow Code Execution (824146).

And I was almost to 14 days on my machine at work. Fiddlesticks.

Web Log

Ah, security: Generating a Revocation Certificate.

Computer Log

17 September 2003

My grandfather had an operation last weekend to remove more cancerous growths, and now my great-uncle Jimmy is in the ICU and being moved to the hospice. Grandma has been sick and isn’t sleeping well. Merrystar’s Nana has had several heart attacks and minor strokes. Dad just got back from Florida, Mom is on her way.

I can’t believe I’m crying at work.

I can be such a silly git at times.

Personal Log

18 September 2003

isabel cometh.

This morning in the Washington Post:

For ingenuity, simplicity, reliability, inexpensiveness — for grace, even, and for the ability to give comfort in a howling storm — it is hard to beat the humble sandbag.

It is an object of engineering haiku. It is perfectly designed to fulfill its large purpose with a minimum of resources. After the sandbag’s centuries of service in humanity’s stalemate against rising tides and apocalyptic deluges, no one has thought of anything better. A small amount of effort yields big dividends. Who could put a price on dry basements in Brookland and Capitol Hill, dry Smithsonian museums on the Mall, dry boutiques in Annapolis and Alexandria — all fortified against Isabel today with sandbags?

Isabel will be my 2nd direct hit by a hurricane - Gloria in 1985 was my first, and there was a spate of tropical storms in Texas. And then there was also the typhoon in ‘88 in southern China.


Sandbags ahoy.

Personal Log

22 September 2003

Made it through Isabel okay. Some seepage in the corner of the guestroom either due to saturated soil or horizontal rain coming through the hole where the cable runs into the house. Will have to investigate. Lost water on Friday, but got it back on Saturday. Still under boiling water edict. Ignoring boiling water edict, using bottled water.

Stress of last week led to bad head cold. Merrystar sent me to bed and I appear to be feeling somewhat better. Amazing miracle cure!

Uncle Jimmy passed away this weekend. Mom and Connie and Kelly were all there. His life was a good one. I just wish I’d known him better.

Personal Log


Watched the original Neverwhere on DVD this weekend. Surprisingly good - the book (which was written after the series) is surprisingly faithful and just expands a few scenes. Good show!


Happy birthday, Bilbo and Frodo!

24 September 2003

The Beltway is a Cruel Mistress

Yesterday’s morning commute: 2.5 hours.

This morning’s travel time: 1.25 hours.

Normal travel time: 25 minutes.

Distance travelled: 23.4 miles.

There are days I really hate this city.

Personal Log

25 September 2003

The greatest movie night, ever.

Tonight on SciFi:

  1. Highlander 2: The Quickening
  2. Highlander: Endgame
There can be only one (worst Highlander movie).

For later:

Web Log

26 September 2003

Cables, more cables, and no cables.

Well, that’s quite a difference.

Spent tonight setting up cable modem and wireless network. I’ve been grouchy about the whole project for some time - I didn’t want to spend additional money on something that only I’d really use - so finally I cut my cell phone bills by $20/month and will cancel the dialup account (also $20/month), which gave my conscience the permission it somehow needed to get a high-speed wireless connection.

I have strange hangups. I admit it.

My biggest concern was with the cable company - I don’t trust them, even though they’ve been less apt to price gouge than, say, my cell phone company. I really hate dealing with my cell phone company, and can’t wait until LWNP (local wireless number portability) goes into effect this November. But, overall, it was much more pleasant dealing with the cable company.

Did I just say that? Someone please hit me.

Right. So. I drag my tower (Sarantium) downstairs to where the live cable outlet is early this evening and hook up the cable modem. I do this because I’m not letting the cable company’s software anywhere near Merrystar’s laptop, Tigana. You will in fact have to shoot me before I let them mess with her internet settings litke that. But, and this is wonderful, there’s software that you need to run once to register, and it only runs on Windows - actuallly, I could have said I have a game box or something like that, or pressed the point about a non-Windows solution, but I didn’t - well, I thought it only ran on Windows, so I drag the tower and monitor downstairs to watch Merrystar play Atari whilst I get the cable modem working. Soon it is, and then it’s the wireless router’s turn.

Nothing worked. Absolutely nothing! Argh! Then I had a flash, put the install CD back in the drive, and reinstalled the router software. I had to reset the router twice and get rid of all the stupid changes I’d made before, but eventually everything was conifgured. I got Sarantium’s firewall set up to handle the new configuration, and then - as I’d just reinstalled the operating system(s) last night in a sucessful attempt to get the computer to recognize itself on the network - proceeded to do the Windows Update dance. So much faster now! I can almost remember what it was like to just have a list of software sites and download whatever the latest versions were. (Almost.)

While Sarantium was patching, I got Al-Rassan out and ran up2date on her. Then I browsed the web until Sarantium finished and I rebooted her into Linux, where she got the up2date treatment, too. I then disconnected everybody from the network and dragged them upstairs again, reassuring a somewhat concerned Merrystar that Sarantium wasn’t going to live permanently in our kitchen.


I’m in bed, a floor away from the router, typing away. I’m not so grouchy anymore about high-speed access.

Just don’t ask me about my cell service provider.

Al-Rassan Log | Computer Log | Sarantium Log | Tigana Log

Really quite charming: Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country.


Web Log

From the St. Petersburg Times:

MARKEY, JAMES F., 83, of Brooksville, died Saturday (Sept. 20, 2003) in Brooksville under the care of Hernando-Pasco Hospice. Born in Lansing, Mich., he came here 19 years ago. He was a retired electrical engineer and served in the Signal Corps of Engineers during World War II. He was a columnist with the Clover Leaf News. He was a member and player with the Organ and Music Club of Clover Leaf. He was a longtime member of the Motor City Chapter of the American Theater Organ Society. Survivors include a sister, Katherine Skala, Grand Junction, Colo.; two nieces, Lu Peters and Connie Breckel; and four nephews, Ted Breckel, Ralph Skala, Everett Skala and Ed Skala. National Cremation Society, Brooksville.

Also at Hernando Today.

Personal Log

27 September 2003

Nothing like a refresher on Norse mythology to make your Saturday morning go well.

Now I must go cut the lawn.

Web Log

The lawn has been cut.

Personal Log

I’d forgotten how absolutely hypnotic jwz’s WebCollage can be.

Web Log

29 September 2003

Yet another unpatched IE vulnerability. I’m a little surprised it hasn’t gotten more coverage, what with all the other important things going on in the world.

Interesting: To Fix Software Flaws, Microsoft Invites Attack.

Related: Reasons to avoid Microsoft.

Web Log

30 September 2003

Finally got WebCollage working - from Bug 76244 - XScreensaver WebCollage doesn’t work, I went:

[brett@al-rassan ~]$ su
[root@al-rassan brett]# mv /usr/X11R6/lib/xscreensaver/webcollage-helper /usr/X11R6/lib/xscreensaver/X-webcollage-helper

And there you have it.

I have to admit, the vidwhacked version really does look cool.

Al-Rassan Log | Computer Log

The previous month is:
August 2003


This is: brett's logjam → September 2003.

The next month is:
October 2003