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The Bursting Social Media Advertising Bubble

thoth Re:Are customer able to evaulate that objectively? (254 comments)

Which is why advertising is a poison to society and must be destroyed.

How does this square up with the U.S. Constitution's 1st Amendment, the part about freedom of speech?

about a month ago

House Majority Leader Defeated In Primary

thoth Re:hahaha! (932 comments)

BTW, I consider anybody who uses the "teabagger" name a dishonest broker and liberal robot.

And I find it hilarious that they originally called THEMSELVES that. Until folks hit them with a cluebat.

about a month and a half ago

House Majority Leader Defeated In Primary

thoth Re:Democrats voted (932 comments)

Alllowing democrats to vote in a republican primary - yeah, that's wrong.

Allowing independents, ie non-declared voters to vote in any primary - absolutely.

These two statements don't make sense together, why would anybody register an affiliation if independent lets them vote in every primary PLUS the general election?

Either restrict primaries to voters registered in that party (i.e. exclude independents from primaries) or no restrictions for anyone. This middle ground of affiliations are restricted by independents aren't is BS; might as well scrap affiliations and everybody is "independent".

about a month and a half ago

Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

thoth Re:You make it... (519 comments)

so the only way is to make the environment so miserable the person quits.

This already happens plenty - google "managing out". Tenure wouldn't magically make this spring into existence because its already here and widely practiced.

about a month and a half ago

The Ethics Cloud Over Ballmer's $2 Billion B-Ball Buy

thoth Re:pishaw (398 comments)

No one questions that someone was banned for life and was forced to forfeit his property because of something he said in a private conversation that was recorded and published without his permission

So? Isn't this just a bigger private corporation/business interest (the NBA) enforcing their rights to include/exclude whoever they damn well please? And in this case they decided to boot him from their little club? What property did he "forfeit" by the way? He didn't lose anything - he SOLD his property on the market for $2.2 billion.

If he's got a problem with his private conversation being recorded, then he needs to sue whoever recorded and leaked it.

If there is any outrage, it should be targeted at the hypocrisy of free market/libertarians/corporate apologists with BS like the above. The only coercive party in this situation is the NBA, which is not the government, so there isn't any problem under your own world view. So take your outrage and shove it. This is EXACTLY the situation people like you should applaud: larger corporation screwing over smaller corporation/private individual, under contracts mutually agreed upon.

about 2 months ago

Author Charles Stross: Is Amazon a Malignant Monopoly, Or Just Plain Evil?

thoth Re:Do we really need new books? (405 comments)

CR, you've turned this into a "paper vs ebook" argument, but I think you miss Strosss point: Amazon's monopolistic stranglehold on distribution forces the price down which puts publishers out of business. This results in Amazon being the dominant publisher, working directly with authors. But it also allows Amazon to dictate to authors what they will pay, just as they did with the traditional publishers. This is not "free market", it is a monopoly no less than Microsoft was, and it's not good for consumer choice.

But they "won" the free market; competed via the rules, undercut their competition, delivered more convenient products for their customers, etc.

Basically the free market tends to generate dominant winners, what's the solution? Gov't regulations? Clearly the free market itself isn't going to do it.

about 2 months ago

It's Time For the Descent Games Return

thoth Re:Hell Yes! (251 comments)

I think the only other true 6DF controller out there was some sphere something. You had to use both hands to move it around so it only had a couple of buttons.

I played Descent using that other controller - the Space Orb 360 ( It took a while to get use to and I was never proficient, but I got to the next level (among my friends that played) when I thought of the orb as a doorknob that directly controlled my ship, do drape my hand over the controller and pretend I was manipulating my ship: press down, move down; rotate forward, spin the ship along an axis, etc.

I bought Descent and sequels off GOG purely for nostalgia. I'd love to see a version like this article describes, procedurally generating tunnel mazes, etc.

about 2 months ago

Former NSA Director: 'We Kill People Based On Metadata'

thoth Re:Thanks for nothing. (155 comments)

Democrats have ruled for 14 of the past 22 years. How much time do they need?

I gather your definition of ruled is - have the White House? Are you aware that Congress actually passes the laws?

No, "ruled" is what the Republicans had for 6 years under Bush/Cheney. Control of the WH and both houses of Congress. We can see how awesome that turned out for the country.

about 3 months ago

Traffic Optimization: Cyclists Should Roll Past Stop Signs, Pause At Red Lights

thoth Re:enforce existing laws? (490 comments)

So legally, you can't pass them if you have a solid line, which especially sucks if they're ascending a long hill at 3mph in the middle of the lane... Because it's a hill, there's a solid center line the whole way and you're stuck there...

Oh please, this isn't any different than being stuck behind someone moving their farm equipment (tractor, giant shredder, whatever) or a mail delivery truck. If you have good visibility you can still pass even if there is a solid center line. I live a mile from a street exactly like that, 2 lanes, solid the entire way, with a ton of mailboxes on it. Cars move around the mailman just fine, or heaven forbid have to wait a few minutes to go around when it is safe.

And at least a bike could pull over in a driveway or wide spot. Mail won't, well they pull over all the time and try to hug the mailbox so they sort of do that.

about 3 months ago

Rand Paul Suggests Backing Bitcoin With Stocks

thoth Re:Breaking News: Rand Paul Invents... (404 comments)

Another person that doesn't understand Libertarian ideals.

To be fair, that's because the definition of Libertarianism changes depending on who you ask. As the old joke about economists goes, ask 10 Libertarians what Libertarianism is and you'll get 20 answers.

The one I've heard most often is basically the radical capitalism version from David Friedman, in his book The Machinery of Freedom. If you somehow have superior credentials to Mr. Friedman, well I'd ask what the hell you are doing arguing on Slashdot among many other things.

Anyway, that version is all about a tiny government and replacing more services formerly provided by the government with competition, typically competing corporations. Through the magic of competition, according to him, all that other stuff just sorts out, since if you aren't happy with service X provided by contractor/corporation Y, then seek another bid/payment for services more to your liking. Fire protection, hospitals, national defense, schools, groceries, legal system, etc. all with no regulation or oversight, entirely existing on their reputations in the free market, competing with one another for your business with enlightened self-interest as the check.

Of course, this is totally unworkable in the real world and he admits as much in the closing chapters. Things like how impossible it would be to build national infrastructure without the eminent domain powers of government (e.g. somebody's property is getting "stolen" against their will), how lawsuit happy such a society would be (to people who counter that whatever contract you sign is binding... right, that's why ALL contracts in the business world are NEVER disputed, right?).

All your other variations seem like Libertarians realizing the pure form is BS and theoretical only.

about 3 months ago

Lessig Launches a Super PAC To End All Super PACs

thoth Re:elections are bought (465 comments)

You are basically advocating violent overthrown of the government, a.k.a. treason - "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them..." which is NOT going to convince a lot of people to join your side. Sure, you'll get the retards but having them in charge after the overthrow, assuming it all works out, would be even worse.

For all the flag-waving Constitution spouting anti-current-government rhetorical BS that gets thrown around here, you fundamentally can't have it both ways. You can't declare the Constitution perfect and the Founding Fathers all geniuses and things would be so much better if we'd just follow it to the letter, and ignore the fact that lobbyists and the money in politics and even political parties themselves were STUFF THEY DIDN'T FORSEE that is currently screwing things up. And the ugly truth is lobbyists have a first amendment right to advocate for their position - the fact they are better funded and more organized than a bunch of keyboard online ranting jihadists in their mom's basement isn't a fault of the system. The 1st Amendment says (paraphased) "Congress shall make no law abridging the right of the people to petition the government". Not "except the ones you don't agree with" or "except the ones with more money and organization" or "but not the people who do it professionally a.k.a. get paid a.k.a. lobbyists" or "not when their point of view makes me butthurt".

Think of it this way, gun nuts: what if lobbyists defended their right to petition the government as much as gun-tards defend their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms?

That is the ongoing clusterfuck of money in politics.

So man up and organize, exactly like Lessig is trying to do. That's working WITH the system, which again so many radical-Republitardian-free-market-gun-flag-waving-freedom-liberty-self-reliance-antitax ooze out of their pores constantly. Except when they don't agree, THEN its OK to throw the whole thing out amirite? You get everything you want OR violent overthrow? Democracy ONLY serves your interests? Fuck you.

about 3 months ago

NASA Honors William Shatner With Distinguished Public Service Medal

thoth Re:Get a life... (111 comments)

...I'm not a trekkie, but I can't forget when mr. Shatner told his fans to get a life ...yeah yeah...that's probably a humorous parody

Probably? Come on, that skit was from Saturday Night Live.

about 3 months ago

You Are What You're Tricked Into Eating

thoth salt, sugar, fat (499 comments)

There is an excellent book about this:

The modern processed food industry, OK the American processed food industry, works hard to make processed foods appetizing by tweaking formulations and experimenting with salt/sugar/fat ratios.

I think the book does a balanced job of presenting the info without blaming the industry (too much). They do make the point the food industry targets convenience and cost, which consumers respond to. It isn't all the food companies fault that their customer base is kinda lazy.

The food industry has tried a few times to make their stuff healthier by reducing additive amounts, trying new tech - one very interesting thing for example is trying to use a different salt crystal, one ground into a different shape that absorbs quicker. It gives the same "pop" with less, due to its different shape. That's pretty cool!

about 3 months ago

Mathematicians Push Back Against the NSA

thoth Re:NSA College Campus Recruiters (233 comments)

If we need to infringe upon our freedoms to freedoms in order to 'preserve' them or even gain them, then I'd rather go down fighting.

Fascinating concepts... tell me, how do you rationalize your stance with the fact the U.S. was founded by stealing the land from the previous occupants? Are you willing to declare the experiment over and return all lands that were seized by force (i.e. all of them) back to the Native Americans?

about 3 months ago

Not Just a Cleanup Any More: LibreSSL Project Announced

thoth Re:Or.. (360 comments)

I'd much rather see the OpenSSL project itself get cleaned up

That would be ideal, and there's nothing stopping the OpenSSL project from doing that.

OpenBSD is a group that says - we are relying on this code that is totally busted, let's fix it - and they prioritized their OS first. I don't see a problem with that. OpenBSD is already making their work publicly available for free, they don't have the onus to actually provide bullet-proof solid code for every platform on the planet. Turns out other OS hackers need to roll up their sleeves too, and fork over some cash to support the effort.

about 3 months ago

Not Just a Cleanup Any More: LibreSSL Project Announced

thoth Re:Graphic design geniuses too (360 comments)

I don't think they care about how their font is interpreted.

I think this is more like - we're busy actually fixing code and not going to hire a team of web designers to produce a web 2.0 dynamic social-media-hooked-into website with a few links and a bit of text.

about 3 months ago

Administration Ordered To Divulge Legal Basis For Killing Americans With Drones

thoth Re:No answer will be given (310 comments)

Please tell me you are not using the wrongs of the past to justify the wrongs of today? Come on now.

I'm not sure anybody is saying give Obama a free pass; some of us are just wondering where the FUCK all you constitutional-waving administration critics were during the Bush years... suddenly crawling out of the woodwork after hibernating 8 year I gather.

Sure, maybe Obama hasn't done everything perfect, but I know one thing: throwing Obama under the bus for what clearly started under Bush/Cheney is 100% bullshit.
It gives the impression of really wanting to hide and/or distance one group of politicians from a lot of crap they don't want to own up to, prefer to ignore or forget.

You want to examine and investigate Obama? I say heck yes, I'd welcome that, as long as the previous administration is similarly cross-examined. Bush/Cheney housed goddamn war criminals by any reasonable measure, and no way in hell is there justice if that whole group walks free, after convincing legion of fucktards like yourself to shift the spotlight. This crap didn't appear out of thin air in Jan 2009.

about 3 months ago

Why Portland Should Have Kept Its Water, Urine and All

thoth Re:Guard (332 comments)

If I wanted to "easily poison" a water supply, I'd just form a corporation, say one that stores chemicals meant for coal mining, and build my facility near a river that supplies a small city's water supply.

That way, not only would I get limited liability if there was an "unforseen accident", my corporation could declare bankruptcy and dodge all lawsuits.

about 3 months ago

Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr Released

thoth Re:*Yawn* I'll Wait for the Mint Edition (179 comments)

What happened to Ubuntu was they decided to "differentiate" themselves more, dreaming of monetization and profits. I'm not sure it is working out the way they thought it would.

I like Mint - the version that tracks debian (Linux Mint Debian edition). They do a ~3 month rolling upgrade from debian testing. So I get something a little more current than debian stable on Mint's nice Cinnamon UI. It's ideal except for one little thing - no LVM install by default. For that you need to jump through some hoops but it can be done. Well maybe I'll grab the latest and see if that separation has gone away.

about 3 months ago


thoth hasn't submitted any stories.



Beyond Salvation

thoth thoth writes  |  about a month and a half ago

I've concluded that Slashdot is beyond salvation. Too many articles on politics with no tech content, e.g., and even the technology articles often get sidetracked into some political ranting, e.g.

Basically it has become some kind of tech-libertarian rant site and a waste of time. I get more actual tech info from links on Hacker News and Reddit than I do here, so the obvious thing to do is just bail. It was great in the heyday but those days are gone, and I see that now.


Why I Like Slashdot

thoth thoth writes  |  about 6 months ago

A followup to my previous entry...

I find time spent on Reddit to be reasonably efficient - I subscribe to topics that interest me and can quickly see what new posts there are. As for the discussion, the higher voted responses float to the top. It is easier to follow and participate on a topic even though it isn't the more recent.

However, Slashdot has value as well: the comments. Other posters have pointed this out, but every article I do read generally has a few very informative posts. Most of those are even moderated to +5 Insightful ;).

Politics, anything related to shall we say large computer companies *cough* Apple Microsoft Google *cough* tends to be dominated by fanboys on both sides, but by picking and filtering what articles to even bother looking at, I can honestly say I generally learn something from most posts.

The catch is since I can't follow Slashdot in "real time", I'm mostly left to pick over topics that are several hours or days old. That's fine, since it makes for even more efficient time usage - glance through and read the "best" posts, for topics I'm interested in - but it also means I'm more of an observer rather than direct participant. Again, that isn't bad but it does mean other people have the burden of making Slashdot worth visiting.

Anyway, ever since I excluded political articles, I'm a much happier Slashdot reader.


Why I like Reddit

thoth thoth writes  |  about 7 months ago

This is just personal opinion of course, but I've been logging in and checking things here a lot less frequently lately. Why is that?

It's easier to avoid hot/controversial topics, because Reddit is opt-in and Slashdot is opt-out. If I want to follow Politics on Reddit, I need to find the subreddit and subscribe. Here, I see all posts and have to go exclude tags I don't want to see. Granted, that isn't backbreaking but is a minor inconvenience.

I get more specific feeds by picking appropriate subreddits. I want to read stuff about programming, sports, and my favorite computer games. Yep, I can arrange for that to happen on reddit. This is more luck of the draw, er... whoever submits a story that might fit that.

There is more community. I think so at least, from the viewpoint that reddit users acknowledge others outside reddit or have helpful/interactive groups. This is most visible in MMOs, where the garden variety few I dabble in all have reddit guilds/clans/corporations/whatever with open recruitment. Another example is the DailyProgrammer reddit, which posts easy/medium/hard problems for everybody to solve in whatever language they want to use. There is the occasional helpful comment or pointer for the language newbie. The boardgames subreddit arranges occasional trades and also participates in the boardgamegeek math trades. None of that happens here. I'm not saying it's good or bad, but Slashdot users don't acknowledge they are users of Slashdot, outside Slashdot itself.

It is easier to follow. Back when I used Slashdot most, I had a job where I could keep it open and refresh constantly. I was able to participate on the hot/current topic. I can't do that anymore so Slashdot is more of a passive reading site these days. If you miss commenting on the most recent 5 or so stories, the crowd isn't there so there isn't much point - very few people will see or answer you. Reddit's way of handling replies has its quirks, but not being there within the first 3 hours of posting doesn't destroy your ability to participate.

Fundamentally, my Slashdot usage is shifting to checking it once a day, opening a handful of recent stories and sifting for the top replies. I only post if I just happen to catch something of interest that is very recent (and of course, I feel like I have something to add with a post). Reddit is the site I check for info I want to read, from Programming, Coding, Boardgaming, EVE, etc.

I have taken one step to making my newsfeed here more palatable. I excluded Politics and YourRightsOnline. I'm just tired of reading the same circle-jerk who-can-shit-the-biggest-pile-of-hate-on-the-current-administration-or-government. I originally came here in late 1997 or 1998 for the tech slant.


Back to QWERTY from DVORAK, and maybe trying something else...?

thoth thoth writes  |  about 9 months ago

A few months ago I switched from QWERTY to DVORAK. I was lured by a more efficient layout but the final shove was finding out a coworker used the layout.

I took some online lessons, and was shocked at how many words you can type just using the home row of DVORAK - especially compared to QWERTY. But then QWERTY only has one vowel on the home row... clearly not a well designed layout.

Getting used to the layout was another matter. My typing speed with DVORAK hovered around 25 words/minute (counting the time used to fix typos) and it was generally frustrating. Granted, I have 2 or 3 decades of muscle memory built up on QWERTY so overcoming that is a huge problem.

I decided to quit the experiment recently, while struggling to keep up typing with a friend in a chatroom at work. 3 months and I had plateaued - I was typing slower but not moving my fingers as much... still, I felt that DVORAK could be improved on.

Going back to QWERTY I noticed far more finger/hand movement than before. A LOT more. But I'm back to 50+ wpm typing again and I don't have to think and mentally remap letters before moving my fingers.

QWERTY is awful though, so much "prime real estate" devoted to bad letters - like the JKC, and so on. DVORAK is better, but isn't perfect - the placement of the L and S on the pinky is rough, the R is more common than other letters on the home row, plus I found myself stretching for the F (where the Y is on QWERTY) more than reasonable given how frequent it comes up. Also, the QWERTY E becomes . on DVORAK, giving prime placement to punctuation?!

Anyway, for me, too many letters and other keys changed. Only the A and M stay the same switching QWERTY to DVORAK, leaving the other 24 letters moved, plus basically all the common punctuation as well. I think that's a bad move - props to Dvorak for trying to design a better layout, because QWERTY is clearly just crap - but since QWERTY is so dominant, moving from it (how many people literally learn a keyboard layout starting from a blank slate?) require a near complete relearning of keys.

I'm going to "rest" back with QWERTY again, but the lure of a better key layout is still there. To that end, I've become interested in Colemak and Workman, both are recently designed alternate layouts. Colemak is especially interesting because only 17 keys change, instead of 31 for Dvorak.

The Colemak layout comes with OSX and Linux out of the box, making it super easy to try. For Windows, on machines I'm admin on, I can install an IME, not quite as good (availability wise) but decent enough. Workman is available on Linux as well.

Anyway, I'm interested but probably won't try learning a new layout for a little bit. I'll give Colemak a shot since it has better availability and looks easier to learn. I think the Workman layout is very interesting from the design perspective, but more keys move and I found that to be the problem with learning DVORAK. Workman tests better than Colemak, but are similar in efficiency and better thank DVORAK. Dragging in last place, far behind, is QWERTY.

I even bought a Colemak keyboard cover for my MBP (no Workman available), and an ergonomic Type Matrix keyboard (QWERTY but I also bought a Colemak skin - Workman is available as a skin for the Type Matrix).

Anyway, I'll see how this goes... in a little bit. ;)


Remapping Keys

thoth thoth writes  |  about a year ago

Recently my left pinky started to ache. I was at a loss until I reached for the CTRL key and felt a stabbing pain. It seems I have a bit of RSI.

So I thought, why not remap CTRL and CAPS LOCK? Try that for a while and see if it helps.

This is no problem on OSX. Keyboard Preferences -> Modified Keys; done.

This is no problem on Linux. Specifics vary, but it can also be done. (For me using Fedora, it involved installing the gnome tweak tool and using it).

This is a pain in the ass on Windows. There is no built in preference for it. Instead, you get to EDIT THE REGISTRY and REBOOT. WTF?

So at work, I have 5 computers. 3 are under my control, so I can do this operation. 2 are not, they are "corporate managed" systems, where I'm not administrator, and editing the registry is disabled as well via group policy (so no trying to use HKEY_CURRENT_USER). The SysInternals tool "Ctrl2Cap" is also blocked.

Fortunately, those 3 computers I control are also the ones I do most my typing on.

Gizmos in the control panel do let you turn on sticky keys, toggle keys, filter keys, all this great (?) stuff, but not swap CTRL and CAPS LOCK. Goddamn.



thoth thoth writes  |  about a year ago

This whole bitcoin client bug is fascinating to me. Not that I own any bitcoins or plan to buy any... I'm curious on how the currency will handle this bug. Specifically, in a currency whose express design goal is avoiding central authority and the imposition of arbitrary rules, how do you convince people to voluntarily upgrade/downgrade/whatever to a different client version, when such a change may not be in their best interests. How to force/incent everyone to run a client version - isn't doing that itself an imposition of an arbitrary rule?

I'm reading the thread over at bitcointalk, and let's just say there is a "gold mine" (har har) of info there. I'll need to study it at home.


Great Advice

thoth thoth writes  |  about a year ago

Many users have noted that for its flaws, Slashdot does have a great userbase that produces some excellent advice.

I was catching up on recent (ok, a day or two old) posts and came across this one:

There are some gems in the responses!

I'm gonna try to highlight posts like that - ones that contain really good discussion. That will exclude the OS/Politics flame wars that sometimes erupt ;) but I think if you read selectively you can learn a lot here.

As for me, I was enrolled in a PhD program once, in electrical engineering. Along the way I found that I enjoyed the CS side of things more, and before finishing my Masters in EE, I switched to CS and earned it there. By the time I finished all this, I was a bit burned out on grad school so continuing for a PhD was never the plan. Sometimes I think it would have been nice, but on the other hand, I did achieve a personal goal (Masters) and didn't really have the motivation to keep going. And I know that a PhD student in any field really needs to have a massive amount of internal motivation and drive to get that PhD.

What's also a consideration is that we, and I mean EE and CS types, are very lucky in that there are some great, interesting, well paying jobs available for all levels, including Bachelors and Masters. You don't NEED a PhD to get a pretty decent job (in the field), unlike many other areas of study.


SSD Update, Win8

thoth thoth writes  |  about a year and a half ago

I received the SSD and that night, had my screwdrivers out and replaced the drive in my Sager. I ended up installing Win8 after all, and then added Google Chrome (set as default browser), Steam, various Steam Games, and Guild Wars 2. That's it.

I have ~120 GB left free, so I could setup a VM... but for right now, I'm not adding anything extra. I want to be totally fascist about keeping this windows install as clean as possible, to the point of considering flash and acrobat as unwanted extras that go into a VM install, along with misc utilities and software development tools in general (compilers, editors, languages, debuggers, etc. - all in a VM). So essentially other than games, the only extra software that will go on is Virtual Box, which will possibly host a future Win 7 VM where all the uncontained stuff will go.

I use Win8 from the desktop mode, and it's fine. I have no Metro-style apps that didn't come with the install. I opted to use a local account and not tie a hotmail email address to this computer (I don't have another Win8 machine, don't plan on getting one, and don't use it as my main system so the auto-syncing and all that don't really interest me).

In related news, a friend's netbook died and they needed a computer. I offered over my System 76 (that had Qubes) after restalling the Win7 home premium 32 bit version I bought for it. I'll miss having that system around to play with linux distros on, but I went to help my friend. VM's are again the answer - unfortunately Qubes in particular won't run in one, since it is based on the Xen hypervisor.

Oh well, that's OK. I will potentially pickup my parent's old Mac Mini this Christmas, since I'm getting them a new one. They have a 2005-era system and its a PowerPC Mac Mini. Maybe I can turn it into a linux system. Or perhaps it won't be worth the trouble since I'm sort of trying to simplify my home computer inventory.


Computer Updates

thoth thoth writes  |  about a year and a half ago

More updates in the fascinating series, "thoth's home computers". ;)

My linux notebook (System76) is now running Qubes, Joanna Rutkowska's OS built on lightweight disposable VMs. It uses the Xen hypervisor with a template VM based on Fedora 17. I've had it working for about a months, and so far, I really like it, it works pretty well considering what's going on under the hood. I have some issues getting specific menu items to appear, but if I were handier with KDE that might not be a problem. I installed common software packages into the template VM and update about once a week.

My windows notebook (Sager Midern) is lumbering along. I've toyed with replacing it with a build-to-order system from Velocity Micro, but budgets being what they are, I decided instead to upgrade the hard drive to an SSD. I just now ordered a 256 GB SSD off NewEgg, and plan to do the swap as soon as it comes in and I have a few hours. I toyed with upgrading to Windows 8 at the same time, but decided instead to stick with Windows 7. This system is essentially for games, so I'm going to clean install it and put on Steam plus a handful of other software.

My mac notebook (17 inch MBP from 2009) is getting also getting along fine, even at its advanced age. ;) I've gone back and forth about replacing it, upgrading it and finally decided what do to: get an iMac. Yes, after 3.5+ years of no desktop computers (at home), I'm getting another one. I've loved the portability notebooks give me, but something quite surprising happened a few months ago that changes my need for notebooks. That event was: I bought a Google Nexus 7 and that thing is simply awesome.

Yes I know, you reading this HATE tablets and think they are a fad. Great for you. The thing is, when I travel, I'm generally not coding. I'm checking email, surfing the web, reading books, or playing simple games. The tablet is perfect and now it is what I take when I go somewhere for the weekend or overnight. Work issued me two notebook computers (a Dell E6420 windows notebook, and a 15" MBP with OSX), so if I travel for work, I'll take those (hopefully just one and not both!).

Anyway, I'm looking at the 27" iMac. It'll be nice to have a larger screen again, and my non-gaming windows needs can be solved with a VM. I'm excited that two of my favorite windows games are coming to OSX, so I may not "need" the windows notebook to play them (I'll reserve judgement until I get the iMac in and see how those games actually play).


Free Market Confusion

thoth thoth writes  |  more than 2 years ago

The comment here illustrates what I think is a pervasive confusion among commenters, and people in general for that matter. That is, the belief the free market is just *awesome* but the consumers are idiots.

That's just puzzling to me.. some folks (and extend that to politics) absolutely worship the free market. It is the saviour of mankind, it is better than omniscient, it always decides fairly, it can't be questioned, etc. But when consumers actually exercise their free market choice, they are called clueless, idiotic, etc. WTF?

The cognitive dissonance here is that consumers may make choices that conflict with some other belief (i.e. I don't like Apple for a zillion reasons I'll now bore you with ZZzzzzzz.... so therefore why doesn't everybody think like I do?????. OMG it can't be a problem with me, or the free market, therefore people are stupid sheep!)

I think these people are idiots. No, that is too kind. Raging dumbfucks is more like it, but that is perhaps not polite.

I'm by no means a free market disciple. It serves a purpose, can be studied and modeled and works pretty well at very specific things. But I do enjoy thinking about how a free market works, and how it also fails. Something I think more free market advocates need to spend serious time also doing.

Anyway, back to the quote. Some idiot anonymous coward is raging about how Apple is out to destroy computer utopia, because people are clueless you see... if only they would do whatever the idiot anonymous coward would do. As I posted in response, you can't have it both ways. More importantly, when people have choices THEY MAY NOT PICK THE ONE YOU WANT THEM TO. That doesn't make them clueless; as a economist would no doubt say, they just value various facets of the product differently.

The real clueless and stupid here is the anonymous coward.


Ex-Linux Notebook

thoth thoth writes  |  more than 2 years ago

I've decided to wipe out my linux notebook (a System 76) and install... wait for it... Windows 7. Sorry.

The reason why comes down to 3 things:
1) The system would be more useful to me as a backup/spare game machine. I play games (now and then) and would like to have an extra system for a few Windows-only games I have, another system for Steam, etc. It'll be handy for the occasional dual-box scenario (rare for me but I'd like that option), and for travel situations.
2) The system would be more useful to me with wireless. It's frustrating, and I just feel that in 2012 a notebook or any portable system should have the wireless option. I could not get my wireless going on the system. Yes, I googled a lot. I downloaded wireless driver source, built it, tried to load it, etc and on and on and fiddled endlessly and I couldn't get it working. It was fine since I kept my system connected via cable, but recently I've been wanting to move that system to another floor... basically I want wireless now.
3) I want to run at least 2 linux distributions (Fedora and Debian), and tend to experiment with others a lot. If I were running N linux distros, N-1 would have to be in a virtual machine anyway, since I don't want to partition and reboot constantly.

So, I dug up a spare Windows 7 DVD I had and installed it. Once all the patching is complete and I'm done installing "base" software (OpenOffice, VLC, Virtual Box, Steam, some other games, etc.) I'll install Fedora 17 (beta), and Debian Wheezy (testing) for starters, and configure those just like they were installed directly. Previously that system had run Ubuntu (what it came with), Mint, Debian, Fedora, and Qubes for a bit (it error'ed during the install so I didn't do much with it).

I plan to use Fedora and Debian, so I'll be installing software from languages to libraries to databases and all sorts of stuff. In fact, even though the host system will be Windows 7, I'll probably have that system largely running virtual machines in full screen mode. I do have a primary Windows 7 notebook for gaming and development; this configuration will let me fiddle with linux all I want and be more useful due to #1 and #2 above.


Tablet Haters

thoth thoth writes  |  more than 2 years ago

I don't get the tablet hate. I'd think tech enthusiasts would welcome them. They represent another step towards ubiquitous computing, and may even shake up the desktop dominance of Microsoft, shifting towards Apple (iOS) and Google (Android) who are also the major players in cell phone computing.

Yes, they aren't suitable for many tasks, but they don't need to be in order to be successful. Convenience, ease of use, accessibility (by that I mean Wifi AND cell-network enabled), cost, and most importantly, being more than adequate (arguably nearly ideal) for the typical tasks of an average person - which would be web browsing, chat, social networking, light gaming, email, not whatever various power users have convinced themselves is typical usage - will win the future.

As far as cost, Apple currently charges a premium over other similar devices, but when the iPad was introduced, tech pundits were shocked at how "low" a price it was: $500 for the base model. I can't imagine Apple can retain their high profit margin in the face of intense competition from Andoid tablet makers, and eventually Microsoft Metro/Windows 8 devices, but the future market is enormous... Apple will sacrifice some profit margin to remain competitive.

But ultimately, I think tablets (and mobile computing in general) have a huge future, surpassing desktops, for the reasons I listed above. There will always be a need for desktops, and servers, and even bigger systems, but I can easily see a world where a significant portion of the world's population can get by with either a tablet or phone as their primary computing device. Seriously. The upside here is literally 3+ billion devices, that will drown out the current installed base of desktops. It'll take some time but that's where this is headed.


Tablet Haters

thoth thoth writes  |  more than 2 years ago

I don't get the tablet hate. I'd think tech enthusiasts would welcome them. They represent another step towards ubiquitous computing, and may even shake up the desktop dominance of Microsoft, shifting towards Apple (iOS) and Google (Android) who are also the major players in cell phone computing.

Yes, they aren't suitable for many tasks, but they don't need to be in order to be successful. Convenience, ease of use, accessibility (by that I mean Wifi AND cell-network enabled), cost, and most importantly, being more than adequate (arguably nearly ideal) for the typical tasks of an average person - which would be web browsing, chat, social networking, light gaming, email, not whatever various power users have convinced themselves is typical usage - will win the future.

As far as cost, Apple currently charges a premium over other similar devices, but when the iPad was introduced, tech pundits were shocked at how "low" a price it was: $500 for the base model. I can't imagine Apple can retain their high profit margin in the face of intense competition from Andoid tablet makers, and eventually Microsoft Metro/Windows 8 devices, but the future market is enormous... Apple will sacrifice some profit margin to remain competitive.

But ultimately, I think tablets (and mobile computing in general) have a huge future, surpassing desktops, for the reasons I listed above. There will always be a need for desktops, and servers, and even bigger systems, but I can easily see a world where a significant portion of the world's population can get by with either a tablet or phone as their primary computing device. Seriously. The upside here is literally 3+ billion devices, that will drown out the current installed base of desktops. It'll take some time but that's where this is headed.


Choosing a Linode distro

thoth thoth writes  |  more than 2 years ago

I've been thinking about setting up a VPS system, through Linode. I figure it would be fun to have an actual server on the net, rather than just a webpage/homepage like I have had so many years. It would host a new homepage for me, and be "live" for fiddling around with other projects.

Since this is just for fun, I would start out with the Linode 512, the smallest VPS available. For $20 a month, I'll get 512 MB of memory and 20 GB of storage. Perfect! After viewing the list of available distributions, I pared it down to Debian or CentOS, since those are the two I am most familiar with.

Before opening an account, I decided to "simulate" my future Linode with VirtualBox. So I created two VMs of 512 MB and 20 GB disk. The Debian install went smoothly - I unselected windowing, and selected web server and ssh server, since that's how I'd start. Soon enough the system was ready, and I was able to pull up the "yes it's here" default web page. Cool!

I did the same with CentOS. Or I should say, tried to do the same. No matter what I did, the installer wouldn't run. Double-clicking led to no response. I thought to myself "perhaps 512 MB isn't enough for the installer to run", so I shutdown the VM, bumped it up to 1024 MB, and tried again. Sure enough, the installer started right up when I double clicked.

I'm not sure how the Linode folks actually provision their machines - do you essentially receive an empty VM with an attached ISO for you to start up and install? If that's the case, it appears I can't have CentOS on the Linode 512 because the installer won't run!

That's OK, my home server is Debian and it would probably be best if I match, so I can test things out at home (twice, once in the VM I made to simulate the Linode 512, and once on my actual physical server) before rsycing files to the live Linode.



thoth thoth writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Ok not much exciting stuff going on with my home infrastructure.

One thing I finally did do is get a better (more comprehensive) backup system in place. I've been using Time Machine on my Mac Book Pro, since it is easy to setup and works like a champ. But I like to keep my files centralized, because I want to essentially mirror my documents to my linux notebook.

After fiddling around with Backup PC, I realized that was overkill for my extremely modest needs. I wound up just making some quick-and-dirty rsync scripts, and have those execute once a day via cron. So now my fileserver grabs from the Mac Book Pro, and my linux notebook grabs from my fileserver. I essentially have 3 backups of my files: the master copy on my Mac (which I consider my main system), a copy on a USB drive via Time Machine, a copy on my file server, and copy on my linux notebook.

Actually that isn't all... some files are copied one more time: I subscribe to JungleDisk and sync my photos to "the cloud". It costs between $3.00 and $4.00 a month, which I feel is well worth it considering my photos are the data I basically cannot reconstruct at all. Sure I'd be bummed if I lost other files, but I literally cannot retake trips/vacations and reshoot pictures/movies, recontact people I've lost touch with, etc. The pictures are "priceless" enough for me to spend a whopping $50 a year backing up offsite.

On the OS front, I downloaded the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, and installed it into a Virtual Box VM. I grabbed Arch Linux and set that up in Virtual Box as well. More later after I fiddle around with both.


Why the Gnome 3 hate?

thoth thoth writes  |  more than 2 years ago

One thing I don't get about various posters is the Gnome 3 hate. On the one hand people scream that desktops are just ripping off other well-known UIs and that there is no innovation and that's just tragic. On the other hand, people (hopefully different ones) scream whenever anything changes.

I recently switched my linux notebook from debian to fedora 16, for several reasons:

  • I'm a RHCSA (yeah yeah spare me the drivel about how certifications are worthless; this one was paid for by work and I seized the opportunity) so running fedora helps me keep those skills up, since fedora (and centos) are closer to rhel than other distros, for obvious reasons.
  • I want to become knowledgeable (and eventually proficient) with selinux, and that's already baked in. Yes I know you can aptitude install selinuxstuff but I'd rather stick closer to the source.
  • I'd like to get LDAP going and all the instructions I found for debian on this were out of date; meanwhile the 389 project appears up-to-date and maintained, and that's closely aligned with fedora

A side-effect of this upgrade is now I'm running Gnome 3 as my desktop. And you know, it's just fine. Really. All the people finding it too difficult to switch need to HTFU as Chopper Reid would say. I expect that kind of whining from some end users, not IT types. Seriously, man up and deal.

Basically, instead of minimizing windows onto some taskbar, I just zoom to the upper left to invoke expose-ish mode, where I can scroll to a new virtual desktop, launch a new app, whatever. It works great and isn't as bad as you'd think from all the crying going on.

Fedora 16 works great for me, and Gnome 3 is just fine. I have two minor warts:

  • I can't seem to get IBUS working for Simplified Chinese input. I have that installed, but the language selector won't toggle to "ch". I'll fiddle around more. I'm learning Chinese and having the ability for Chinese input (via typing pinyin on an American keyboard) would be great.
  • VirtualBox messes things up... after installing vbox and vbox kernel modules, my system won't start X after a reboot. It just hangs there in text mode. I can log in, or boot runlevel 3, but no graphics. The error messages refer to problem probing the video capabilities of "virtual box something-or-other" so I had the idea of uninstalling vbox and the vbox kernel modules, and that work - next reboot and graphics could start. Basically it looks like whatever probes video for X is choking on the vbox video module. This didn't happen on debian, and I'm kinda bummed not to have virtual box on my fedora system (but then I have my other two notebooks I can run virtual machines on). If I were better at X I could probably find a config file somewhere to lock or set the video device to X doesn't have to probe; maybe this will let me have virtual box and also a graphical shell. I'll put that on my to-do list for later.

What I'd really like to work on next, as a hobbyist linux enthusiast, is either more knowledge/proficiency with selinux, or setting up the 389 Project LDAP server. If I get the LDAP server going, I'd consider migrating my debian file server over to fedora and setting up LDAP there, and eventually centralizing accounts on my various computers.


home server

thoth thoth writes  |  more than 3 years ago

I decided to get fancy with my small home network and get a server. My goal is to make it a file server and then eventually configure other services such as web server, backup server, and perhaps others. If I really get fancy and figure out how to do it, I'd like to make this system an LDAP server and have network logins for my computers. I'll chip away at this piece by piece over the upcoming months.

I bought a mini server, an HP N36L, and two 2 TB drives to go with it. It came with a 250 GB drive, so I bought the two 2 TB drives to setup a mirror. Great little box at a good price, but it didn't come with an optical drive so I install Debian Squeeze 64 bit via USB memstick.

The first thing I want to do, after getting the server up and running basic services, is to consolidate files (music, videos). After that, get my notebook computers backing up using backuppc ( But before all that, I need to create a mirror using those two 2TB drives. That means using mdadm for RAID, then creating an LVM volume on top of that space.

Create a RAID mirror:
sudo /sbin/mdadm --create /dev/md0 --level=mirror --raid-devices=2 /dev/sdb /dev/sdc

Check on it:
sudo /sbin/mdadm --detail /dev/md0
cat /proc/mdstat

Create the logical volume:
sudo /sbin/pvcreate /dev/md0
sudo /sbin/vgcreate lvm-mirror /dev/md0
sudo /sbin/vgdisplay lvm-mirror
sudo /sbin/lvcreate -l 476931 lvm-mirror -n mirror

Note: the 476931 came from the total number of PE's available in the volume group.

The mirror resync was crunching along fine, so I formatted the logical volume:
sudo mkfs.ext4 /dev/lvm-mirror/mirror

I mounted this, then unmounted and added a line into /etc/fstab, double checking it mounted with "mount -a". So far so good!


Debian Squeeze

thoth thoth writes  |  more than 3 years ago

I decided to redo my linux notebook and install either Debian or Fedora. Both Debian and Fedora have great communities and great support, so either would be fine. My notebook previously ran Ubuntu 9, Mint, and Ubuntu 10, so I cut out the middle man (so to speak) and went with the underlying distro for Ubuntu and Mint: Debian!

I downloaded and burned the Debian Squeeze netinst CD, and started the install. It went smoothly and the only thing I did differently was to opt for LVM instead of straight partitioning - I ended up choosing LVM with a separate /home, /usr, /var, /tmp. I also picked a few software packages: file server, web server, notebook, etc. I didn't choose everything, for instance I'm not interested in DNS, mail, or print server, and didn't select SQL/database since I wasn't sure what that would install (MySql? Nah, I rather take PostgreSQL) so I'll add what I want later.

Once the install was finished, I added a few more: VirtualBox, Videolan, Chromium browser, Eclipse, and a few other misc packages.

I went to test the sound, and hear nothing. After trying the volume settings and getting nowhere, I googled for help and found a suggestion that ended up working:

alsactl init

After this, I had sound. I'm not sure if that need to be done every boot, but if so I'll figure out what script I can add it to for that to occur automatically.

While fiddling with the system I noticed that "su" worked, but "sudo" didn't. It seems Debian doesn't enable sudo usage for the account created during install. After looking at the /etc/sudoers file, I saw it is configured to allow members of the "sudo" group to use sudo. So a quick:

usermod username -aG sudo

and that was fixed (I logged out and back in so the system would pick up my new group membership).



thoth thoth writes  |  more than 4 years ago

I thought I would expand on my recent comment if anybody happens to look at my journal.

I was laid off in Nov 2008. Typical story, company had up and down quarters, and held small layoffs every year since 2005. I survived three or four rounds, but was finally caught up in it. I received 14 weeks of severance, plus my unused vacation time. I had 6+ months of living expenses in addition to what I received from my former employer, and I would have been in major trouble without that cushion. My mortgage was $2000/month and COBRA was $350, so with utilities and food I was definitely spending above $3000 a month, probably around $3200 to $3300. You can cut back the obvious stuff but you still need a phone, gas, my car insurance payment came up, etc. I can now see how people that are laid off can get into mortgage trouble, and how easily you can go to affording your home to defaulting on it. Unemployment added $250 a week, which sounds small, but it REALLY helped out.

The layoff was right before Thanksgiving, so I took a few days to de-stress, and then started the job search. I looked through,,, reached out to local contacts, updated my LinkedIn profile, and so on.

I also heard from recruiters that got my info from the job boards (, I was moderately bummed most of those listings seemed to funnel into recruiters but I guess that is the reality.
The job I wound up getting was the gov't job I applied for via their website fairly early in the process. It took months of back and forth, interviews and paperwork, but I got a phone call and job offer in June 2009, after being unemployed for 7 months.

About recruiters - it is inevitable you have to deal with them, since they do have job leads. But only one of the six different ones I dealt with seemed interested in matching me with a reasonable fit, and most importantly, keeping me on the radar of the prospective company. Recruiters get paid by placement fees from companies, so that is who they really work for. Most probably want to do the least work for the most payoff - fill interviews at companies that pay them the highest fee, and deal with candidates most likely to get a job within a few interviews. My experience was literally "two and out" - you didn't hear from the recruiter again if two interviews didn't work out. When a recruiter talks about how many companies they work with and how many "opportunities" they have, none of that matters. You'll get two or three interviews, then you become too much effort to deal with.


Two notebooks

thoth thoth writes  |  more than 4 years ago

My reorganization of my home computers is partway done.

I opted for a Sager Notebook (NP9280) with 64 bit Windows 7, since that meets my gaming needs well enough. My MacBook Pro continues to be my main machine. My old desktop, currently running 64 bit Ubuntu (karmic koala) is chugging along, but I am looking at replacing it with another notebook, possibly a System 76 linux notebook. I've come to value the portability and low-noise of notebooks versus desktop computers, and am willing to pay a bit more for the same functionality to get it in a notebook.

I've installed as little as possibly on the Windows 7 box. Besides games, I have: Dropbox, Eclipse, Firefox, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Handbrake,, Picasa, Stellarium, Truecrypt, VirtualBox, VLC. All of those are open source, and cross platform (Windows, Mac, Linux) and I am quite pleased with the great quality of open source projects! Rather than install Adobe's PDF reader, I went with Sumatra, hoping it has fewer bugs and/or security problems. ;)

When I get the new linux notebook I'll install all this same stuff too.

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