zen.org Communal Weblog

March 30, 2005

Intuit is forcing people to buy Quicken upgrades

Filed under: — brendan @ 03:29 GMT

Intuit is forcing people to buy new copies of their software, even though the existing copies work just fine. You won’t be able to download your statements from your bank, and you won’t be able to get the price history of various equities or bonds.

Lame.


Significant changes are being made to your Quicken software. Please read this to find out what to do.

Dear Brendan Kehoe,

As we notified you several weeks ago, on April 19, 2005 Online Services1 and live technical support2 will be discontinued for Quicken 2001 and 2002 users.

These services include online bill pay; downloading financial data from your bank, credit union, credit card, brokerage, 401(k), or mutual fund accounts; downloading stock quotes, news headlines, and other financial information into Quicken; uploading portfolio information from Quicken to Quicken.com; and access to the investing features on Quicken.com, including portfolio tracking, any watch lists you have created, One-Click Scorecard™, Stock Evaluator, and Mutual Fund Evaluator.

What you can do to maintain Online Services.
To continue using Online Services—and to regain access to live technical support from Intuit representatives—you will need to purchase Quicken 2005. …and here’s how to give us more money… —B

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March 29, 2005

Almost A Year

Filed under: — Sven @ 15:30 GMT

Last night I was sleeping when the baby monitor started beeping, it does that when it receives no signal. I turned it off and was about to go check on Zoë, then I noiced the LED clock, no time. So far one thunder storm in 2005 and one power out, not a good record. Less then a minute later the power was back on. Back to sleep went I.

Brendan noticed it first this morning, Rerun (aka zen.org) was down. The circuit breaker on the UPS turned off, never happened before. I guess there was a power surge too. What hurts is than Rerun was less then a month from being up for a year! I was already planning my blog entry in my mind, but no, no paper anniversary this year. I can only hope for next March.

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March 26, 2005

Wood Ducks

Filed under: — Sven @ 10:47 GMT

About once a week Zoë and I where taking a stroll along the Delaware Canal, usually the only waterfowl we see is Canadian geese and mallard ducks; all kinds of them all over the place. A couple of weeks ago I thought we saw a wood duck couple, but I was not quite sure. So, a week ago when Zoë and I went out I took the opera spectacles Brendan gave me for being in his wedding party. No duck, no luck.

This morning Zoë and I went out, while I forgot the spectacles, they remembered to come along as they where still on the perambulator. Before I reached the canal I saw the couple hiding in the trees, after using the spectacles I was sure. I tried to show Zoë, she didn’t notice. The couple flew away. A few hundrad yards down the canal, a lone male wood duck was swimming. What luck! Perhaps next time I will take the camera too.

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March 25, 2005

Funky Tut

Filed under: — daphne @ 21:14 GMT

I met this nice lady the other day. My guess, she must have been around 75 years old. The first thing that I noticed about her was that she had braces on…and I thought, she must have some tough, crooked, dentures. Braces! Who gets braces at 75 anyway! Teeth bondage is not exactly the way I’d like to enjoy my last food. Not that I’m saying she’s going anywhere soon, but hey, it can happen. Perhaps she has plans to be mummified and she wants to look her best…speaking of being mummified, some code that I wrote at work was used to produce the volume rendering of the CT scan of King Tut a while ago by our favorite Egyptian pyramid expert on TV, who else, Dr. Hawass

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March 20, 2005

Enough to mess with your mind

Filed under: — brendan @ 14:50 GMT

Dublin’s commuter rail, the DART, runs between Greystones south of Dublin up to Malahide north of the city. A few days ago I was riding the DART and listening to Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code podcast. The route stays uncovered, but often cuts its way through hills and sometimes just beneath street level. The train had just left the Blackrock station and I watched the scenery change out the window.

As we started to work up some speed (this isn’t the TGV), I looked across the other set of tracks and saw someone up on the grass at the top edge of the wall. He had a blue long-sleeve shirt and didn’t look much older than thirty. He was in a crouch position, his feet and hands on the grass with his knees bent. He kept leaning over enough so he could see ahead on the track—to where a train would be coming in the opposite direction. He sure didn’t look like he was there to watch it go by. Then in a blink we’d passed him.

I was hit with an awful dread of seeing a mash of green siding and passengers the image of ghosts go rushing by. Luckily nothing appeared on the other track and we made it to the next station. I was able to get out and run up to the front car, where the conductor’s head was leaning out of the window, watching for the last person to board the train. I told the him what I’d seen, and he said someone jumped on his route only a few weeks ago. Random thoughts ran through my head: I wonder what sort of counseling employees get when someone pulls such a stunt? What did he see when it happened?

He thanked me for the information and said he’d call it in. Did I know exactly where it was? Not really, but I could give a rough description of its position relative to the Blackrock station.

I got back on board and sat down; we started to move again. A couple of minutes later, there was an intermittent blaring of the horn and a train headed in the other direction slowly came to a stop alongside us. I was relieved to see its conductor lean out of his window to talk to the driver of my train for at least a couple of minutes. They said some closing comments, and both trains continued on their way. And maybe my hunch was wrong.

But I don’t think so. I do know my hesitation reporting what I’d seen weirded me out—all I kept thinking of was hearing of disruption (again) on the DART line because someone had committed suicide on the tracks. Seeing clear as day in my mind the person it would have involved. I hope they got to him—even more than hoping he changed his mind and disappeared; it would leave open the chance he’d give it another try.

And there wouldn’t be such a time gap between passing trains.

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Hassles doing a network Fedora Core 3 install

Filed under: — brendan @ 14:02 GMT

The January 2005 of Linux Format magazine included a DVD with a full copy of the Fedora Core 3 Linux distribution on it. (And Ubuntu Linux, which I’m going to check out separately for something else.) Today I figured I’d try using it to take a shot at Jarod Wilson’s great HOWTO on how to use MythTV under Fedora. However, after four different tries, I was never able to do a network install. (The DVD drive is on my desktop system, and I have a CD I burned a while ago with the first CD image.) After the first attempt failed, I worked my way through the candidates…the wireless bridge used to network it, then the wireless access point it talked to, then rule out wireless completely. Nothing. It just stalls during a random download. I go to the other virtual terminal (Ctl-Alt-F2) and I can ping the system involved, or even wget the very file it’s hung downloading before. Hmm.

I’m now using the Distros/FedoraCore/mkiso script to create the four CD images; it did them in less than five minutes. Instead of actually burning anything, I’ll put those on my external drive and see if I’m able to successfully use it via firewire or USB as the “local disk” for the various images used to install it.

The inclusion of mkiso and every little piece you need for a proper install of Core 3 is really cool. Kudos to the folks at Linux Format for another great DVD to avoid wasting broadband bandwidth. 🙂

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March 19, 2005

Queer Eye sells out?

Filed under: — brendan @ 15:11 GMT

Watching a random episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, we saw what Elana says they’ve done before. At the end, they all get together to watch their style-deficient and culture-deprived straight man try to apply all of their advice. The guys sit down with a nice glass of wine and offer commentary that always reminds me of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Anyway, this time they all grab a glass of wine and set the bottle down on the table—where it’s positioned so the camera can focus on the wine’s label, advertising for the viewer what choice they (their producer) made to enjoy this time around.

Gahhhh. After seeing “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” in the US do ridiculous product placement for AT&T, this was nauseating. What will really happen when the American public is able to realize, for real, just how much time is wasted programming them to buy products from specific companies? Too many commercials, and even during the shows you get Coke placed in front of the judges of “American Idol”. Google it a bit and you’ll really see what’s being pushed down everyone’s throats.

In Ireland, if we go to see a movie what started as one blatant commercial before the (more interesting) movie (commercial) previews has grown to be nearly 15 minutes of nothing but ads. Make a point of arriving about 15-20 minutes late for the start of your movie, and you’ll in fact be there just before the film actually begins.

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March 17, 2005

Finally surrounded by sound…

Filed under: — brendan @ 11:18 GMT

Nearly four years ago, we got a bunch of stuff from someone who was moving from Ireland back to the US. Part of it was a Cambridge Sound Works DTT3500 speaker system, but it’s sat untouched ever since.

Today is St Patrick’s Day, a national (“bank”) holiday in Ireland. We took advantage of the gorgeous weather to do tons of stuff in the back yard, and I spent some time hooking up the speakers. The cables aren’t actually long enough for the rear surround speakers, but that’s okay—our livingroom isn’t arranged in a way that we could put the speakers behind us anyway. All of the speakers are hooked up, the DVD player’s optical feed is plugged in, and I was able to hook the cable TV up as well. (I used a SCART splitter to take the audio signal from the NTL digital cable TV box and feed it into the DTT3500’s audio inputs; I chose Analog Front, whatever that means.)

The end result sounds great! Fellowship of the Ring on DVD sounds amazing. An episode of The Outer Limits on the SciFi channel sounded really cool and well distributed around the room. Music from the various radio stations carried as part of the digital cable package also sounded great. Granted, it’s not a multiple-$$$ Bose system or the like, nor do we (yet) have a good receiver to handle multiple audio inputs really intelligently. We also need to get some longer cables and secure and paint all of them so they’re less obvious.

But I’m certainly happy for something that took about half an hour from start to finish and was originally purchased second-hand in 2001. 🙂

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March 15, 2005

Using reiserfs under WindowsXP

Filed under: — brendan @ 16:26 GMT

I reformatted my Seagate 200Gb external disk to use reiserfs. Don’t remember why, but it hasn’t really mattered. Recently I had a situation where I needed to copy multiple gigabytes from the disk onto a system running Windows XP. Try as I might, the Windows system was saying it saw my USB Storage Device, but it never actually showed up anywhere on the system. No drive to be seen. Then I remembered my move from NTFS to reiserfs. Fudge!

The answer to the seemingly impossible task was to use rfstool, a really cool hack by Gerson Kurz. His page includes some docs on the first steps you take to find the correct device, and then explain how I could copy an entire tree from the external drive onto the local system with the single command

rfstool cp /src d:\work\src

That was so quick and easy! And much, much faster than my first attempt: plug it into my Linux laptop, mount the disk, set up Samba to share it, and then make the Windows machine copy it all over the (really slow for reasons you’ll never want to know) network using Samba. Bleah.

Thanks, Gerson!

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March 12, 2005

Mashed Rutabaga and Succotash

Filed under: — Sven @ 19:19 GMT

余艾蕾 is at a bachelorette party tonight, so it’s Zoë and I. For dinner I’m making myself mashed rutabaga and succotash. Mashing root vegetables while holding a baby is difficult. Any suggestions? She refuses te be put down.

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