zen.org Communal Weblog

December 19, 2004

Social (In)Security

Filed under: — brendan @ 14:58 IST

Dear Shirley,

There’s a great article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel (in California) about the current attempts in the US government to convince us how privatizing the Social Security system is its only chance for survival. The article offers a great explanation for the claim “Social Security is a pyramid scheme, not a pension program.”

I know the money being consistently deducted from the paychecks in my life isn’t being tucked away for me. Somewhere in East Bumf****, New Jersey there’s a chain smoker who never leaves his home and gets his cases of Old Milwaukee delivered using money from a monthly direct-deposit—one made up in part from my earnings.

Hoping for an actually helpful fix to this growing cancer of a problem has to be high on the current government’s list of priorities—well, right after paying public school teachers a fair salary or helping single parents.

Surely my hopes aren’t too high. Surely.

Sincerely,
Your Conscience

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December 17, 2004

Doogle

Filed under: — brendan @ 16:54 IST

Without a doubt, Doogle has got to be the best example of Irish creativity after a lengthy spell at the pub. Absolutely awesome.

Thanks to our friend Jason for the pointer.

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Best Subject Line For A Spam

Filed under: — elana @ 14:20 IST

This has to be the best subject line I’ve seen in a long time. Not only is it not deceptive (the email was about the same thing), but it certainly gives the impression of how easy it is to earn money using this system:

“Even my idiot Cousin makes $2000/month from this business”

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LAMP Development

Filed under: — Sven @ 09:24 IST

I haven’t done full time web development since I worked for Wired magazine in the 1990s, but both at jobs and at home I’ve been doing it here and there since. A little PHP here, a little Perl there. A little MySQL here, a littel PostgreSQL there. A little Apache here, a little Boa there.

The other week I discovered a new arnonym: “LAMP.” I’ve seen references to LAMP developement before but I guess I’m just so out of it I had no idea what it meant. I snuffed it off as some proprietary alternative to, um, well, LAMP. In case you are like me, it means: Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP. I found one place that says the “P” stands for PHP/Perl/Python. I’ve been doing this for years! I must be too engrossed in my work or something.

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Last minute gift ideas

Filed under: — elana @ 05:02 IST

Pretty much everyone who reads this blog would like this site. I know a few off the top of my head…who knows, some of you might be getting this stuff for your birthday!

Local Geographic

Edit:
My mother pointed out how much she likes the USB Christmas tree. I personally think the USB Aquarium is pretty fun.

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December 15, 2004

Last book you read?

Filed under: — Sven @ 14:26 IST

The current /. poll asks Last book you read? I had to pick “Other non-fiction” as it was a cook book. I’m not mad that cooking was not an option, I a little bumbed that nobody in the comments has talked about cooking books. I guess not too many people read cook books from cover to cover, skipping a recipe here and there.

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December 14, 2004

Brows'o'rama

Filed under: — brendan @ 17:21 IST

Discoveries tonight as I sit over-tired but not willing to go to sleep, partially from perusing the 2004 Weblog Awards:

  • ScrappleFace, hilarious news stories so closely resembling current headlines so as to make you really wonder if they’re made up
  • IMAO, also looks at headlines but it points out the flaws in the real thing
  • cartoon characters redrawn just as their skeletons (this from weirdassshit.com)
  • Iraq the Model, not humor but instead a fascinating blog about the real life in Iraq and their real hopes as it tries to reshape itself

Ni-ni.

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Our TV hack isn't there yet

Filed under: — brendan @ 13:06 IST

I succeeded in getting the (better) ivtv framebuffer driver working, but my previous impressions of the mpeg were wrong. Still looking choppy, and to top it all off I wasn’t getting any frequencies to work. Harrumph. This has taken way, way too long. I should stop using such old stuff, depending on my further research to progressively move things slowly forward to more stable and reliable versions.

I found a cool writeup by Jarod Wilson of how to set up MythTV on a system running Fedora. I’ve already got Fedora Core 2 on CD on the shelf in the office, so I think I’ll bail on the KnoppMyth idea for now and give those instructions a run with a fresh install. I’d even been considering doing Win98 + the software bundled with the card to qualify the card as functioning correctly, but then as I was passing the Wasters in the Fourth Great Circle of Hell I pulled myself out and came up with an alternative that I can live with.

Next update will be the initial results of doing everything under Fedora, based initially on Jarod’s notes. Fingers crossed.

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newer ivtv driver, new DVR hope

Filed under: — brendan @ 05:25 IST

Only by reading thru some messages in the forum on SourceForge did I discover that the 0.1.9 version released January 13 2004 isn’t the actual stopping point in development. Over at ivtv.no-ip.com are the real ongoing copies, including 0.2.0-rc3 from December 12th and an alpha-level (I presume) version 0.3.0. WOW. Its install.txt file even concurred with something I’ve read elsewhere: ivtv shouldn’t need any special parameters for its module anymore. It should figure out my system’s PAL nature, among other things.

I put the new 0.2.0-rc3 stuff in place, and a test of

cat /dev/video0 > /tmp/my.mpg

resulted in about 6 seconds of snow when I watched it on another machine. No sound yet either. However, it had consistent snow, no frame loss that I could see. Oh, hope of hopes. I’ll add a channel, give it a try, and report back. Later today I’ll try to write up the details of exactly what I’ve done and how I put the new version in place on top of the KnoppMyth I’m running. But I wanted to at least share this positive news, and the detail that isn’t yet appearing on the SourceForge project page or even on the ivtv parent page. A real shame when you figure there have to be plenty of other people suffering the way I am—including one person who wrote me just this morning.

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December 13, 2004

The brain's parental lobe

Filed under: — brendan @ 17:04 IST

Today our son Patrick and I went out to do a bunch of errands. Drop clothes off at the laundromat (our washing machine is broken), drop off lots of recycling, and do a follow up supermarket run for the pieces we need for this week’s recipes.

Just after leaving the recycling center, a cool new place that just opened, from behind me P said, “Dad” with a bit of desperation in his voice. As I looked in the rear-view mirror he coughed a couple of times, then suddenly started barfing. I’m driving at 30 miles an hour on a fairly thin road (Ireland isn’t known for its huge thoroughfares) and suddenly he’s freaking out and exploding, launching his breakfast over his legs. That’s only happened a few times in his little life in very different settings, but each one is pretty concrete in my memory.

Anyway, I entered this funky crisis mode that freaks me out a little when I look at it in retrospect. Normally in any day-to-day thing actions involve some level of forethought. You think for even half a second about what you’re going to do with lots of random actions. But not when a kid is in trouble. Jesus. As soon as he started to be sick, I saw that a bus was just pulling out of a spot where the road widens a bit, and pulled right over. An old guy with a cane looked at our car with some worry as it flew over to the side of the road, came to a screeching halt as I put on the hazard lights, and I jumped out of the car. There was traffic coming from both directions, and as a collective group they all got pissed off at me at the same time. My car was still covering half of the left lane turning it into an alternating one-way route, but I didn’t really care. For all I knew Patrick was going to choke to death. The only fair description of the emotions was fuck the world. Nothing else was important.

I ran to the other side and threw open the door. I got Patrick out of his seat and stood him next to the car. Off came his jacket and pants, now unwearable. I grabbed cloths and some moist towelettes out of the glove box to clean him up and try to get his seat back into a usable condition for the return home. I had to let him hug my shoulder when he started sobbing in response to the shock of what just happened. His boots and the bottom of his shirt were awful, but eventually his clothes and his seat were finally clean. He was lifted back into his seat, tucking my jacket around his now-bear legs as I strapped him in. I left messages at home and on Elana’s mobile phone to let her know that we weren’t going food shopping and would return home.

On the way back he said from behind, “I’m sorry I choked Dad. I cried after. I’m sorry I was sick Dad.” Heartbreaking. I offered some consolation, emphasizing how important it was that he was feeling better and anything that happened didn’t matter a bit.

I got a brief call on the way from Elana where I could tell her that he was okay and coming home. By the time we got home (half an hour later: cardboard isn’t recycled here without individual effort but we’ll talk about that another time), I think I figured out what had happened. He had a big breakfast, followed by a few bits of chocolate (for pooping in the toilet entirely on his own, a big step), then a 30-minute drive in a warm car to the recycling center next to some plastic bins with wine bottles, beer cans, and juice bottles still with the smallest hints of unpleasant smells. All the ingredients to a good old hit of car sickness. (I’ll try my best to not read too much into the fact that both Elana and Patrick are now on record as having gotten motion sickness from being passengers in a car I was driving…I like to believe I’m a decent driver, even if I’ve got a funky car accident in my past.)

After he was home for about half an hour, we gave him a little apple juice which stayed down, then a light lunch of chicken sandwiches made using the rest of what we had for dinner the night before. (Definitely something for The Accidental Cook.) The lunch went well, with Patrick back in his usual (amazing) good spirits. The rest of the day progressed without any further drama.

I realized at lunch how the human brain seems to enter a completely alternate state when your child is in trouble. I didn’t actively think about the right thing to do. I just acted. Similar in sensation to sheer panic but with apparently coherent thought, my emotions and impulses focused on making Patrick feel better, now. Find out what was wrong, and make it right. No choice in the matter.

It’s kind of frightening how this mode of thought completely overpowers you. I couldn’t have done anything else if I wanted to. Only when he was back in his seat, calm, and ready to continue home did I really feel my brain thinking clearly again. I’m looking forward to further long periods of clear thought, thank you very much.

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