Sunday, November 30, 2008

Election 2008:Postscript

Just under a month after America's most historic election since the Kenedys, it feels like the perfect time for bit of sober considered reflection.

At tmes throughout the general election, it felt as if we were all part of an old fashioned 80s style grand wager.

Randolf: Isn't it a wonderful time to still be alive, and wealthy, Mortimer?

Mortimer: We've certainly witnessed and profited on a chunk of history.

Randolf: Indeed, capitalizism defeating comunism, the dot com bubble over shadowed by the Internet, the triumph of equal rights over racism.

Mortimer: I think the latter may be a bit premature.

Randolf: Surely, with african americans, and other minorities in congress, on the supreme court, not to mention cabinet posts, America must be seen as an society of diverse equals.

Mortimer: But never the top post. I'd wager a well educated, articulate, fully qualified black candidate with a populist platform would lose to almost any rich white candidate no matter how incompetent a campaign he runs.

Randolf: Would you indeed, I agree to your terms sir, and I think I know just the two chaps for the job.

Daily, we watched McCain start and stumble through as Obama hardly missed a step, no matter the issue

On election night we all watched as the numbers rolled in. Taken as a whole there is a signifigant Obama margin. On a district basis however this was a lot closer race then I feel comfortable with.

Given the incomptence shown by the McCain campaign, it is startling to me how many americans were willing to give the reigns of American power over to him.

Just how close did Mortimer come to being a dollar richer?


Staggering, isn't it? 46% of Americans comprised of those who voted for McCain, combined wth those voting against Obama. My shock at this number is tempered by the majority of these voters seem genuinely supportive of the incoming administration and maybe even a little prouder of America.

Of course, the transition team's swift and confidence inspiring actions haven't hurt either. Weekly adresses, near daily economic press conferences are showing a clear purpose to action that is (sadly) refreshing.

Experts being appointed to advisory positions in the administration may seem like a no-brainer to most people, but it hasn't been seen in recent memory.

Cabinet members being appointed "early" gives us all some hope that there maybe some grown ups in the room during the remaining days of the current administration.

Spend a little time over at and you begin to realize this guy really does believe he is a representitive of the citizens. The general feel of interaction is "we may not always agree but we are here to listen, and welcome your help."
Which, again, is (sadly) refreshing. I get one other impression, this president has a firm grasp of the role technology can, should, and will ever more play in governance. Having Eric Schmidt as an advisor probably does not hurt.

Even that word, governance has meaning again.
Websters says:
The act of governing; specifically: authoritative direction or control.

Also, refreshing, and not scary.

In summation. I have to agree with Randolph on this one. It is indeed a wonderful time to be alive.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The End of the BSD?

Bracing myself for another ill conceived, passionate argument for the exaggerated, premature death of the BSD family of Operating Systems, I clicked the following link. The End of BSD

Instead I stumbled across a new definition of what I thought was a familiar acronym.

The term entered the lingua franca via Michael Lewis' Liar's Poker. (Relevant quote: "If he could make millions of dollars come out of those phones, he became that most revered of all species: a Big Swinging Dick.") BSDs are the perennial winners of the game of conspicuous earnings (giant bonuses), conspicuous consumption (giant co-ops and summer homes), and conspicuous philanthropy (giant plaques on public edifices).
Despite the all too appropriate vulgarity, the article does a fine job of trying to explain one small piece of the financial crisis. Making sure we know at least some of the guys responsible have lost a pretty chunk of change. I know I feel better.

Meanwhile, never fear, our government is on the case, even on the Sabbath. Announcing an agreement on details of the proposed plans.

While some lawmakers argued against Congress setting an artificial timetable, Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah) warned Saturday that delay would be deadly.

"What will they say come Monday if another major bank fails?" he said. "What will they say Monday if the international markets refuse to buy any American paper? One of the reasons you cry wolf is because there is a wolf actually at the sheepfold."

Yep sounds all wrapped up to me.

Details of the plan are:

  • The $700 billion would be disbursed in stages, with $250 billion made available immediately for the Treasury's use.
  • Curbs will be placed on the compensation of executives at companies that sell mortgage assets to Treasury. Among them, companies that participate will not be able to deduct the salary they pay to executives above $500,000.
  • An oversight board will be created. The board will include the Federal Reserve chairman, the Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, the Federal Home Finance Agency director and the Housing and Urban Development secretary.
  • Treasury is allowed the option to take ownership stakes in participating companies under certain circumstances.
  • Treasury may establish an insurance program - with risk-based premiums paid by the industry - to guarantee companies' troubled assets, including mortgage-backed securities, purchased before March 14, 2008.

    Source: CNN Money

See we'll all be fine. Continue shopping normally.


Friday, September 26, 2008

McCain Obama Debate #1


Debate 1 Foriegn Policy

Get out of Iraq, Get more into Afghanistan, and maybe a little into Pakistan (Couple of Predators don't really count, do they?) Reserves the right to talk to any one at the time and place of his choosing in order to keep America Safe.

Keep "winning" in Iraq, Keep losing in Afghanistan, Wouldn't threaten Pakistan,
Won't even look at Iranian President (he actually couldn't bring himself to say President) but will possibly invade his country with a Legion of Doom, sorry League of Democracies. Reserves the right to kick the crap out of Iran, Syria, and North Korea.

There were also some economic discussions about a financial crisis, but really, yawn, who cares about that.

What amazed me was how many times Henry Kissinger was mentioned. Giving his thoughts and opinions weight on both sides. I wasn't the only one.

Mcain has experience, he has been a Senator during every military action since he belatedly got out of one. He has some wins and some losses. He has met leaders from around the globe. His only problem is his feverish desire to ensure the Iraq Veterans come home not like the Vietnam Vets. It is entirely possible in his mind that sets the bar for withdrawal so high we probably will be there for 100 years.

Obama did well, McCain, surprisingly (after the last 2 weeks) did the best he could. Almost a draw. Despite the pre-debate premonitions,I'm calling it for Obama, mostly for answers like these.


Friday, September 19, 2008

How Shiny is Chrome? Part 2, The Chromium Edition

Last week, I mentioned my disappointment concerning Google's Chrome beta for Windows. Mainly that it was an open source browser for Windows only.

Knowing the source is available, It was only a matter of time before we had a Linux and Mac version. Enter Crossover Chromium from Codeweavers 7 days later.

Codeweavers is a company that specializes in Wine development. Knowing Google itself admits Chromium (Chromium is the open source base for Chrome) only builds and works under windows, Codeweavers went to work on getting that build running under wine on Linux and Mac, releasing their modifications.

Kudos all around. It runs, It browses. It is free, and by free I mean free as in free.


It is not really a fair representative of the browser, taking one of Chrome's features and making it a huge drawback. Unlike Chrome, Codeweaver's Chromium takes an eternity to load a page.

Gmail is all but unusable.

FlashPlayer installs and just barely runs, crashing out more often than not.
Even they describes this release as a proof of concept.

  • Should I run CrossOver Chromium as my main browser?
  • Absolutely not! This is just a proof of concept, for fun, and to showcase what Wine can do. Chromium itself is just beginning. As the Chromium project progresses, they will be providing more compelling support for Mac OS and Linux, particularly with process security and memory management. Those future versions from Chromium will be better suited for daily use than this version

Yes it can be done, but should it?

This is an all too common occurrence.

I want to run the new open-source, cross-platform, next-generation browser from Google.

I do not want to run Chromium for Windows on my Linux machine. Thanks for trying.

Richard Stallman has shared a few thoughts on Chrome.

The license for those binaries is unacceptable for several reasons.
For instance, it says you give Google the right to change your software and requires you to accept whatever changes they decide to impose. It purports to forbid reverse engineering. It also uses the confusing and biased propaganda term “intellectual property”. (See for why this term should never be used.)
You should not agree to those terms.
Google is following the footsteps of Firefox. Firefox has done this since it first appeared: the source code is free, but the binaries released by the Mozilla Foundation carry an unacceptable

...I hope someone will distribute free binaries made from the Chrome sources. People have done that for Firefox for years. It doesn’t need to be the GNU Project.
GuiDoc Blog

Crossover Chromium technically fits that description, and yet, I would personally prefer to see GNU pickup the development and stewardship of the GNU/Linux* port of Chromium.
*See Richard, I do care.

So here is my verdict. For now, if you need to run Chrome on your Linux box, you are probably better off running it in a Virtual Machine. I run Chrome in VirtualBox seamless mode, the performance is faster, and the browser is fully featured. All right, it is not as free, but it does actually work.

If you are technically adept (I'm lookin at you Crossover) please dig back in to it's source and contribute to get Chromium running natively.


Monday, September 15, 2008

So who do ya think's gonna win?

So he says to me, he says, "So who do ya think's gonna win?", never having met the gentleman. Seen him around work a few times. As he put down his lunch at the table one up in front of mine, I was only slightly amazed that without any reference or implicit signals, I immediately understood the subject to which he was referring.

Not wanting to politically identify myself, I responded, "I think Obama will probably win", but not in an overly enthusiastic way. He said ,"I liked what I was hearing from Obama but, lately I'm not sure where he's coming from." I had finished my lunch and I left with "I haven't heard anything I didn't like from him, meanwhile I've heard almost nothing I like from the other side." All true and noncommital.

I found myself wondering all through the rest of the day, the purpose of the original question, as well as questioning my wariness to answer.

First, at some point in the American experience, we have switched from being interested in who you were supporting and why, to "Who you thinks gonna win?". It's fair I guess, we all want to pick a winner, and no one wants to be identified as a loser. Which leads to my second point.

Second. The question may have been asked for pure speculation, of no consequence whatsoever.


The Question could have been asked as an attempt to categorize/label/assess, which led to my general uneasiness to even answer. OK, so I'm a little paranoid. But it happens right. Like one of those questions, Like, "Don't ya just love Madonna* ? Right. Later.", But what the hell, What do I care if some Republican looks down or feels incompatible with me merely because I am sickened by what I see from what I believed was an Honorable man.
*or insert musician you personally can't stand, if you do happen to enjoy Madonna

Remember way back during the 2000 primary season? I do, at that time I declared, If John McCain were the nominee, I would vote for him over Kerry, maybe even Gore. People who knew me were shocked.

I realize now, just how much he really wants to be president. He wants it bad enough to find a anti-Hilary running mate. He wants it bad enough to change life long fundamental beliefs. He wants it bad enough to blatantly lie, and thats the one that gets me. McCain sold himself as the ultimate truth teller. The polar opposite of Bush.

If I remember correctly way back in 2000, lemme see, McCain lost. Beaten by a liar, someone who blatantly made stuff up, slapped it on the TV and generally ruined reputations. In the intervening 8 years, you can watch a little more of what made John McCain "the right guy for the job" fall away. With each visit to the White House, with each hug photo op with his new best friend his ideals were eroded a little more.

I suppose we should all understand why he feels he has no choice. We the people, taught him this lesson. This is the road that leads to the White House. He watched another guy go right by him at the exit of the Straight Talk Express.

So now he has free reign, can say whatever he wants. Given this new freedom of not being bound by truth, the un-truths carefully chosen to be broadcast to the masses in the name of Senator John McCain, further erode any confidence you may have held on to in the honorable gentleman representing Arizona. He makes it very difficult to make a thinking person believe John McCain shares my views, will uphold my values.

Of particular annoyance, his choice of running mate. Make no mistake, I want a woman to be president. I wanted it to be Hillary. I voted for her. Mostly because I think Bill should be the First Man. But, She lost, no dice.

Grabbing the nearest conservative female in an attempt to appeal to the Hillary Vote was a stroke of political genius ... executed by morons. There must be 3 to 4 thousand female conservative lawmakers, leaders, judges, etc that would have been a perfect vice presidential candidate. Instead he chose Miss Alaska.

Everyone keeps asking what her experience is. I think John McCain had a very clear understanding of the qualifications he was seeking. I'm pretty sure they weren't policy related. I'm pretty sure they had nothing to do with foreign relations, economics, or ideology of any kind. She Wins. She has won Beauty Contests, Mayoral and Gubernatorial Races. The fact that she is a she, practically wraps up the vetting process. She's a winner.

Man, ain't she though.

MrsCopilot asked me if everyone can see the total transparency in the attempts of deception. I'm not sure everyone can. But I'm sure a lot of intelligent, good hearted Republicans can, and I feel for them. They deserve a better representative after the last 8 years.

But I digress, the point of this post is the question.

To the nameless co-worker and anyone else who is interested:

I think Barrack gonna win.

What y'all think?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

ScareFest 2008 Lexington

This tiny news advert caught my eye last week.

MrsCopilot is quite the Horror buff, with bookshelves stuffed and straining under the weight and bulk of the almighty Steven King and a DVD collection of blood, murder, mayhem and pychotics. ScareFest 2008, Seemed like just to thing to spring on her as a surprise. Stars of Rob Zombie's "The Devil's Rejects" (one of her favorite feel good flicks.) Sid Haig and Bill Mosely are scheduled to appear.

Off we go for a spooktacular Saturday afternoon. Lexington Convention center. Check.
Yep that's a Good sign,
this appears to be the place.

Inside was as advertised.
Creepy Artists and Collectible merchants crammed side by side with psychics and mystical crystal salesman,
With back area lined with genre celebrities available for autographs and pictures.

What better way to spend an afternoon than celebrity gawking and rampant discretionary spending. Admission, Tarot Reading, T Shirt, Autographed Photo, a few nick nacks, etc. There were also Panel Discussions and film Screenings in two other halls we did not attend.

Haunting the floor were the assorted monsters and ghouls only too happy to mug for the camera.

The weekend events included a costume contest and a Friday the 13th cast reunion and Screening.

Upon entry, a small reminder is posted informing you that entering the premises gives Paramount permission to use your likeness in an upcoming Anniversary DVD re-release of the classic.

The event was sponsored by Ghost Chasers International, but they were kind enough to invite the competition, Ghost Hunters International investigator an TV star Shannon Slyvia. Nice lady, sold me a shirt.

The guy who drew the longest line though was definitely Sid Haig. Small Children (under 6 admitted free) were in line to have their picture taken with him. Just down the Aisle his cast mate from Devils Rejects and House of 1000 corpses were also popular. CandyMan, One of the guys who wore the Jason mask, Tom Savini and Pluto from The Hills Have Eyes (Micheal Berryman) were talking with fans and signing autographs, showing little wear from the VIP party at the hotel the night before.

What frightened me more than the Zombies, Spirit Photographers or Mystical Crystal Vendors (I just love saying Mystical Crystals) was the line that did not exist in front of David Naugton. This guy transforms "in camera" into the baddest werewolf captured on film, while at the same time manging to make us laugh all through the movie. Here, see for yourself.

That deserves at least a 2 person deep que. All of the emo, goth and teens of the damned seemed more interested in mindless serial killers than one of the greatest wolfman thespians of all time. I would have asked him too, how he feels sitting across the room from the line formed in front of Captain Spaulding,
but I was too busy standing in that line to get Sid Haig's autograph.

I've been to my fair share of conventions, Comics, Star Trek, Sci-Fi, Electronics, Embedded, Microsoft, AMD, Linux etc.. but somehow I had never made one of these. I had no idea what to expect, but was eerily unsurprised by what I saw.

We skipped on a lot of what ScareFest had to offer, I hear there was even a UFO panel. Next time it comes around, maybe we'll attend the whole weekend, and catch a few panels.

All in all, a fun day, and it certainly surprised MrsCopilot, and in a good way.


Monday, September 8, 2008

How Shiny is Chrome?

Like everybody else, I was intrigued by Google's latest venture.

A new browser, promising to redesign the browsing experience. Introduced by the company who redesigned all of our browsing habits.

In their introductory press release, (already a plus to the Comic nerd in us all), the big G hit all the right notes.Read the Rest

New Javascript VM, Tab Centric, Open Source, sandboxed pages, process manager. Where do I sign up? Oh, here (and no sign up required.)

If you've been here before you know MrCopilot runs on Linux. Sure, occasionally a VM safely encompasses a Windows OS for testing. Imagine my surprise at discovering that in such an environment was the only place I could try Chrome.

Which brings me to the first dulling of the shine. Chrome's download page is a little different for us Linux Users, you'll notice right off that the download link is nowhere to be found. Instead you will see links to Chromium.
Chromium is the open source project Chrome is built from. Containing parts WebKit, V8 -the new JavaScript VM Engine and some other nifty bits.

If you are having trouble reading the fine print in the Red Box let me clarify it.

Note: There is no working Chromium-based browser on Linux. Although many Chromium submodules build under Linux and a few unit tests pass, all that runs is a command-line "all tests pass" executable.

This may be the reason that Google has decided to call it Chrome for Windows "Beta" but considering every other Google product spends a lifetime (for software) in Beta it may not be as likely as first thought.

Undettered, having a Windows user send along the executable for Linux emulation testing, my attempts in Wine, and Cedega were unsuccessful.

This is a HUGE disappointment for us Linux users, and perhaps a missed opportunity for Google. A Linux port would give them a leg up in the mobile and netbook arena. Here's hoping that Google does the obvious and fixes this omission before Android's 1.0 release.

Now if you happen to be still in the clutches of Windows, Chrome is a breath of fresh air. Speedy and out of your way. Features, like the ability to get more of the user interface out of your way by creating an application shortcut for your favorite web sites, and the default new tab (no longer a blank page ala FireFox but an Opera like thumbnail collection of most visited pages), are welcome newcomers.

Also handy are the inclusions of the process manager, Most Visited button and the pop-up capture feature.

Only once in my testing did I have a tab crash, and that was using a shortcut provided by Google to do so. It had a strange effect on my system taking down TortoiseSVN with it, for reasons unknown, requiring a reboot to get it back.

More on Shortcuts

The usual problems did rear their ugly head in a few places, the "just released" security vulnerabilities, Sites refusing to run due to the unknown Browser ID. Virgin Radio UK's online player, for instance. Which brings up another point.

One of the many Firefox features that drew so many users to the fold, was its customization, through extensions, themes and add-ons. None of which is offered in Chrome (although a few careful inspectors did find an OS specific themes folder. untested Howto to create your own themes)

On the Whole, I give Google a thumbs up on their new browser for Windows, with a huge wag of the finger on it's lack of Linux support.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Sarah Palin Video Collection and SNL

For 30 more days the American Public can ponder their choice for President.
John McCain chose the Governor of Alaska as his Vice Presidential Nominee

If like me, you need to study Sarah Palin interviews and debate video, I am collecting them here.

Thursday October 2nd 2008 Vice Presidential Debate Video
Economic Bailout, Best or Worst of Congress.

Whose fault is the Financial Market Crisis?

David Letterman Top 10 things heard at Sarah Palin's Debate Camp

Katie Couric Sarah Palin Sept 30th - Where do you get your news?

Saturday Night Live Sept 26th Sarah Palin (Tina Fey) Hillary Clinton (Amy Poehler)

Palin's Response

Saturday Night Live Sept Sarah Palin (Tina Fey) Katie Couric (Amy Poehler)

Katie Couric Sarah Palin One on One

Sarah Palin, Joe Biden Roe V Wade CBS News

Sarah Palin, Joe Biden Seperation of Church and State. CBS News

Sarah Palin First Interview ABCNews Charlie Gibson

Sarah Palin America's Top Energy Expert?

Sarah Palin explains her Foriegn Policy Experience

More to come.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Turns out Resistance isn't futile


Microsoft has officially withdrawn the unsolicited buyout of Yahoo!

quoth the Ballmer:

"...I hereby formally withdraw Microsoft’s proposal to acquire Yahoo!."

and my favorite bit...

Also, after giving this week’s conversations further thought, it is clear to me that it is not sensible for Microsoft to take our offer directly to your shareholders. This approach would necessarily involve a protracted proxy contest and eventually an exchange offer. Our discussions with you have led us to conclude that, in the interim, you would take steps that would make Yahoo! undesirable as an acquisition for Microsoft.

What kind of steps? I just don't know what you are implying.

Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang responded with his own brand of Job'sian Optimism.

Yahoo! is profitable, growing, and executing well on its strategic plan to capture the large opportunities in the relatively young online advertising market. Our solid results for the first quarter of 2008 and increased full year 2008 operating cash flow outlook reflect the progress the company is making....

..."I am incredibly proud of the way our team has come together over the last three months. This process has underscored our unique and valuable strategic position. With the distraction of Microsoft's unsolicited proposal now behind us, we will be able to focus all of our energies on executing the most important transition in our history so that we can maximize our potential to the benefit of our shareholders, employees, partners and users."

I'm proud of you to Jerry. It cannot be easy turning down giant bucket loads of cash. But I'm glad you did.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Program Note: Everything has changed

I'm Sorry,

No really, I apologize.

I recently succumbed to the call of corporate America. I am now employed by an enormous company in a position that was tailor made for my talents, so much so that I had no choice but to accept their more than reasonable offer of employment.

There are benefits to being no longer only self employed. Chief among them is a regular bankable paycheck. Add to that a nice benefit package and a sane work environment and management style. It also doesn't hurt that I love the work and have an opportunity to shape the direction of new Linux products.

But there are also some disadvantages.

First off, my new employer is located in Lexington a good 3hrs and a time zone away from what I have affectionately started to call home. My residence is dead smack in the middle of nowhere. Way out in the country with horses, cows, trees, grass and cropland as far as the eye can see and beyond. It is quiet and friendly. My daughter attends a lovely little school with hometown pride and personal attention. She is just about to finish her first year there, meeting new friends, joining the band, academic and archery teams along the way. She is none too thrilled about moving again so soon. So we (Mom and I) have decided it would be best if we waited at least until the school year was over before undertaking the move.

This leaves me holed up in a, shall we say, less than reputable one room hotel in a questionable area of town during the week.

Secondly, Did I mention there is NO INTERNET. I mean none. Being away from the wife and kid is one thing but the Internet too, this cannot stand.

I have been on a personal boycott of the cell phone industry since its inception because I refuse to be charged by the minute. The cost of maintaining the wireless network is exactly the same whether I am on the phone or not and I see no reason why I should pay for the privilege of using my phone on a metered basis. So for that reason I have been unreachable away from my desk for the last 10 years. Kind of nice, never being interrupted at the grocery store or while driving. Of course it was less than convenient when the car broke down or while traveling. Alright, alright, I bought a prepaid cell phone for a trip to Florida once, but that was it, I swear.

After being in this self imposed disconnected exile for 3 weeks, I could stand it no more. Walking in and around town I come across more than one billboard for an UNLIMITED cell phone plan. I make a note to check it out. During lunch at work I pop on over to their website. Hmmm, no contracts, Unlimited Voice, Text, Picture, Data and Web for $50/month. There must be a catch, right.

Yes, the catch is a limited selection of phones and a limited non-roaming coverage area. Roaming is not included in the Unlimited Minutes. However I only need the phone here and I have no immediate travel plans. So I stopped in one of their offices and picked up the cheapest phone and viola I'm reconnected. Web access (slightly painful, but considerably better than nothing) and more importantly access to my family as needed.

I had considered a mobile broadband solution from Sprint or Verizon but the costs including a ridiculous deposit seemed too high. $250 deposit + $60 a month and a 2 yr contract + the cost of the modem. Then of course I had to ensure it would be Linux compatible (Some are, some aren't.) Versus $115 for my shiny new phone and first months service. Only 50 bucks a month with no contract. No brainer.

Here endeth the Cricket wireless commercial.

So why am I apologizing?

For being a corporate whore?

Nah, lots of us are that and there is no reason to apologize. We all have to eat right.

For giving in to the wireless industry?

I have no regrets, I feel like I haven't compromised my ideals and in fact I am supporting a small newcomer who is actively promoting them. I wish them much success, and if you are in their coverage area check them out, tell em MrCopilot sent you. This will mean nothing to them, but it strokes my ego.

No, the real reason I am apologizing is that I have neglected you, dear readers. Not that I haven't had anything to say these last three weeks. I just feel strongly that my work should be completely separate from this particular web presence. Therefore using their resources to post here feels icky. Even if it is just an email. Plus I really have been very busy both getting up to speed on the various technology I'm now working with and arranging a new life here in the big city.

So you will find nothing here going forward regarding my new employer, it's products or practices.

However, through my job I will be exposed to new things relevant to this blog that I will time to time write about. I would like to point out the obligatory statement, that the opinions expressed here are my own and are in no way to be associated or affiliated with my employer.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

See ya Chuck, Moses dead at 83

Moses dead at 83, seems like only 40 years ago Charlton Heston was freeing his people from pharoah and laying down the law.

Sure he was Ben Hur, John the Baptist and Moses (IMDB) but Heston is most memorable to us geeks for his portrayal in 1968's Planet of the Apes.

Spoiler: This is the Ending.

A few words from an admirer of Chuck's

And finally you can watch for his appearance in Tim Burton's remake. The full movie is here, and I promise Chuck is in it ;)

How'd you like to be the coroner's assistant?

Bill, go in there and pry that gun out of his hands will you?

Too Soon?


Friday, April 4, 2008

Kubuntu Feisty to Gutsy Upgrade

Last week I did a house full of Kubuntu installs as recounted here.
I went back to check up on the tweens and see if they needed anything. Everything seemed to be going fine, although they needed a little help connecting to a USB drive shared over the network from a Vista machine.

Simple enough add network folder. Guess what, they needed write support and that is unsupported in network folders and Dolphin. Alrighty then. Add bookmark to smb://hostname/foldername. Asks for Username and password and all is good.

While setting this up for them I notice a little game one of the girls is playing. A cute little anime style mmorpg The Mana World. Hmm, I bet my daughter would enjoy that.

I finish up my work and spend the rest of the night playing with compiz on another machine. Wow, after you get it working (no small feat), so purty! But that is another story for another time.

When I arrive home, I "sudo apt-get install tmw" on my Debian machine. I call my daughter in and set her down and she is instantly mesmerized off in a land of maggot slaying, egg hunting stat increasing bliss. Good thing it's spring break, she was in here all night. Look for a full review in the OSGGFG coming soon

OK enough, lets go install it on your machine. I often make the mistake of saying things like just open a terminal and type "sudo apt-get install tmw" to her. You know to show her how easy linux is. So simple a child could do it.

After 2 spelling errors she comes back with "Package Not Found".

That's strange. I follow her in, type it and you know what she is right. Well maybe it is new, we haven't updated in while, so "sudo apt-get update" followed by "sudo apt-get install tmw" followed by hunh, package not found again.

Hold on a sec. Firefox, the Sure enough packages for:

Windows installer 0.0.24
Oh man, we have Feisty not Gutsy. She says what does that mean? I'll spare you the details of that conversation save for her insistence that she be able to name the next couple.

Now, our Internet connection is suboptimal. It is technically Broadband but not by any real definition of that word. If you go over 50meg in a half hour they throttle you way down to 30kb a second for 2 or 3 hours. Making the distribution upgrade a less than desirable choice for a tiny little rpg.

Turns out though, short of compiling it ourselves that was the only way. (I didn't try the windows package under wine, which probably would have worked.) Besides, any other workaround would not stop this from happening again. She knows these girls and if they have a game that she likes, it would be a lot easier if they shared the same repositories.

So we bit the bullet. Now there are walkthroughs and howtos for this type of thing. Always doing my best to be educational, I send her off in search of a couple and we settled on this one.

Which is a fine article. Even links to a nice screenshot howto for Kubuntu,Of course it doesn't take into account our dreadful download speeds and therefore says nothing about going to bed in the middle but otherwise is a fairly accurate description of how it should work.

Here are the instructions.

Network upgrade for Kubuntu desktops (recommended)

You can easily upgrade over the network with the following procedure.

Follow the pictures at

  1. Open the Adept Manager by going to KMenu -> System -> Adept Manager (Manage Packages).

  2. In Adept -> Manage Repositories enable "Recommended updates", close and reload.

  3. If your system is up to date, the upgrade wizard will be offered it via the Version Upgrade button. Otherwise:
    1. Press the Full Upgrade button.

    2. Press the Apply Changes button.

    3. Once the packages are installed, exit the Adept Manager (Adept -> Quit).

    4. Repeat the initial steps (1-3).

Steps 1 and 2 go off without a hitch. Even step 3 eventually reveals the normally hidden Version Upgrade button.

When you click that button a new program is downloaded to a temp directory very quickly gotta watch for it if you wanna know where. Afterwards you are presented with this screen.

Self explanatory right. Click Finish and Adept will close and your newly downloaded Upgrade tool will start. Okeydokey. Click Finish. Window closes Adept stays open and nothing else happens no matter how long we wait.

Well maybe I missed something, I was only monitoring her following the directions after all, lemme in there. I follow the instructions again. I get to the same point and same result. I hear a cute little "HaHa" from over my shoulder.

At this point I have once again shown her how easy this all is. But nevermind I sally forth.
Tell you what, lets open Adept from a terminal instead, that way we can see the output and see where it fails.

Where it fails is some strange looking Python error. Hmmm, further investigation (ie running the script directly from the terminal after running through the above process a few more times to get said script's location.) reveals that it can't connect to the Xserver.

You see the above instructions are assuming that you are running on the root account, using the root's X server. Normally when doing major upgrades of this magnitude this is the preferred method. The fairly simple fix was to type "xhost +" which allows any client to connect to the X server. But she would have NEVER found that. Never.Probably running adept through the run command with kdesu would work as well, but the above instructions were specific. Notice that the newest upgrade instructions for going from Gutsy to Hardy (in Beta currently) are given this way.

After that the upgrade went rather smoothly. Sort of.

At some point there were dpkg errors. Similar to the ones described in the initial Kubuntu upgrade article, with the same fixes run "dpkg -a" and try again. And it happened again. and again.

When all was said and done, we ran adept and were pleased to see the Gutsy indication in the update package listings. clicked tmw and she was happily playing. And it only took 2 days.

As an aside, her copy is a version behind my straight debian copy, meaning her character can't have the same haircut. But that is just plain nitpicking, and I said too bad, go play.

Now I tell this story not to bash Ubuntu, Kubuntu, blahbuntu or any other Linux. Just as a general observation. As far as we've come, we still have a ways to go. Lucky for her, she has me around to figure out these minor inconveniences.

Since the instructions are not in a wiki, it is now recorded here, for anyone stuck.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

It is Official, Microsoft wins, Again

In a triumph of marketing and (alright, alleged) ballot stuffing, Microsoft's OOXML has garnered enough votes to be approved as an ISO standard.

Bringing with it all the benefits therein. Mainly, conforming to the various government agencies around the world who have enacted the sensible regulations requiring their documents to be in a format that is vendor neutral and have meaningful archival lifetimes.

Now the fun really begins. Watching Microsoft try to implement the augmented standard in Office. While simultaneously implementing it in Open Source Software, Koffice, OpenOffice. I've argued in the past that Microsoft has a format they call OOXML right now shipping in Office 2007, and the new standard with the changes made to get it past ISO are going to cause us and Microsoft difficulties. I hope I am wrong on this.

OpenOffice has already begun that work, with limited success in the upcoming version 3 now in alpha scheduled for September.

KOffice, has been pretty critical of OOXML in the past and there has been no announcement from them as of yet.

If OfficeOpen XML becomes an ISO standard, we will, in all likely hood, still not spend time on supporting it. The standard is enormous, very complex and to a large extent so badly specified that a full implementation is probably even harder than implementing the old Microsoft binary file formats. Add to that patent encumbrances and problems with copyrighted elements -- and our conclusion is that we prefer to concentrate on making KOffice a great set of applications that are satisfying to use and satisfying to develop. 11/2007

I wonder whether IBM Symphony will reverse their decision to not support OOXML in light of the ISO decision. Given Bob Sutor's latest post, I'm guessing not.

On a purely personal level, I'm sticking with ODF. I can only hope that OOXML will continue to be as marginal as it currently is.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Microsoft Announces Open Halo

After conquering the Console space on the industry leader XBox and XBox360 Microsoft has finally decided to throw their hat into the Linux Gaming space in a big way.

Microsoft thinks its high time some quality open source games are released in the Linux market.

Okay, you got me, it's is April 1st after all.

Microsoft has no interest whatsoever in open sourcing Halo. Does that mean us Linux users are left Master Chiefless forever?

Nope. Not at all.

Halo does in fact run in wine and quite well.

For more info on how to set it up see:
How I got Halo: Combat evolved working on wine 0.9.39


The other method, my preferred method actually, is through a native Linux game. Unreal Tournament 2004. In the now defunct Mod Project Torlan. Halo "feels" a lot better in the UT engine and running natively.

Downloads are still up, even if the site is in a state of disrepair. You'll need the following files
HaloUT P1.75 ZIP Install First
HaloUT P1.751 Update
HaloUT P1.7511 Second Update

and you'll need the ability to install Mods under linux. A bit tricky but not to difficult to figure out and well worth doing. What you end up with is a very fast, very satisfying Halo experience.

For more info, surrounded by php database errors see Project Torlan

All joking aside, anyone wanting to contribute to a real openhalo GPL3 project drop me a line.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

QOTD, Scientist RE: Doomsday, There (may) be Dragons

Perhaps you have heard of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operated by European Center for Nuclear Research or NAMBLA, err I mean CERN.

For those of you who haven't. Its a monstrous 8 Billion dollar machine outside Geneva, constructed for the purpose of smashing tiny particles into each other at unbelievable levels of energy and speed to recreate conditions a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang.

Why, well to do science requires observation. We cannot exactly observe that instant back in time, so why not recreate it.

The problem is, a couple of people think its a really, really bad idea. The kind of idea that could end life as we know it on earth, either through the production of stranglets or a micro black hole that could swallow us all. Walter L. Wagner and Luis Sancho feel so strongly that they are suing CERN in Hawaii asking for "a temporary restraining order prohibiting CERN from proceeding with the accelerator until it has produced a safety report and an environmental assessment."

Why Hawaii has any jurisdiction over an international science organization in Switzerland, is anybody's guess.

All of this is reported in today's NYTimes and covered by Slashdot and various Tech rags. And leads us directly to The QUOTE OF THE DAY:

Dr. Arkani-Hamed said concerning worries about the death of the Earth or universe, “Neither has any merit.” He pointed out that because of the dice-throwing nature of quantum physics, there was some probability of almost anything happening. There is some minuscule probability, he said, “the Large Hadron Collider might make dragons that might eat us up.”

When are they planning on firing this thing up? I want to be ready, my suit of armor is still out being repaired.

Strip courtesy of

CERN has a page dedicated to these concerns. They get second place for Quote of the Day with this.

Microscopic black holes will not eat you...


Friday, March 28, 2008

Why Miguel, Why?

Dear Miguel,

Read your post. One question immediately springs to mind.


You said:

I have been reading the OOXML storm in a teacup for more than a year now. Am looking forward to the approval of OOXML as an ISO standard and to be able to move the discussion back to the things that actually matter: free and open source software.
I think we all agree that what matters is Free and Open Source software. Where we differ is in the looking forward to the ISO approval of OOXML.

How would this be beneficial to FLOSS? The implication is that the long string of "countless bytes" being "wasted" on this subject would be over, and we will all get back to writing about more important matters.

The problem with this way of thinking is not to hard understand. Most of the Free Software community is strongly opposed to OOXML as an ISO standard, either because of the FACT that it is a horribly incomplete and unimplementable document format or the FACT that OOXML is redundant. ISO already approved a document standard, ODF.

Punditry and lobbying will not get us very far, real work will.

Surely, you don't honestly think the pundits do that work, do you? I'm a pundit and sure I submit bug reports (not as often as I should), I write software (not as much as I'd like), but my real contribution is as an advocate, to my customers and to my visitors. (and pretty much anybody else who doesn't run screaming from the room)

So I ask you again, how will ISO approval of a proprietary, incomplete, Microsoft format, benefit the Free Desktop, or Open Source office applications?

In short Why Miguel? Why are you looking forward to it?

We have about 24hrs left for the decisions of member countries to be tallied. I for one, am looking forward to Monday, when we (hopefully) will have a single open and implementable document format. I look forward to Microsoft supporting that format in order to meet the requirements of government agencies the world over who mandate their data be Vendor Neutral and long lived.

Looking forward to Microsoft subverting an International Standards Organizations submission process, and beginning a new era of vendor lock-in and monopolistic office suites seems to be antithetical to Free and Open Source philosophy.

Of course there is another possibility. Perhaps, and this pure speculation of the wildest kind, but perhaps, you care less about the philosophy of open source and Free Software than you would have us believe. Perhaps you speak publicly from the same script as Patrick Durusau, mainly that ISO approval of OOXML is good for ODF. I am as persuaded by your argument as I am by his. You seem completely unfazed by the questionable tactics Microsoft has employed to try to ram this spec down the ISO's throat.

Maybe it is time for you to get back to your roots. Your entanglement in Microsoft technology has become more troubling every year. It is as if, you cannot see the thorns of the brambles you are wading through. It troubles me personally, the free desktop world needs good coders and if nothing else you certainly are that.

What happened to you Miguel, you used to be cool?


This is a verbatim copy of an email sent to Miguel, No comment section on his blog.

For more coverage of the ISO approval process of OOXML:
Last Minute Vote Switching in OOXML Decision
Continuing Coverage of the process at
Vote Tallies as we learn them @ OpenMalaysia

Update: Unofficial reports indicate Approval. By one vote. How depressing! We must wait until Wednesday for the official announcement according to Roger Frost @ ISO a press release will be issued.

Update#2 - 3/31/2008: Miguel has responded by email. First I must thank him (again) for his time. Second he has asked that I keep our conversation private. Rest assured he answered my Why question and made a vigorous defense of his position. He has done so in such a way that was, frankly, reassuring about his commitments to Free Software despite the allusions and appearances otherwise. I still disagree with him, but I understand his reasoning a little better now.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Craigslist Bringing Looters Together at Robert Salisbury Home

Often the Internet is touted as a worldwide communication medium that brings people together. Well in Jacksonville, Oregon this week, the Internet certainly brought quite few people together.

They were responding to a Craigslist posting about a man forced to leave his home in a hurry and abandon his property including his Horse and all needed new homes.

This delighted the surrounding community and surprised Robert Salisbury, the owner. Salisbury came home to find around 30 people rummaging through his property. En route he passed a truck filled with his lawn equipment and cars loaded with his belongings.

"I informed them I was the owner, but they refused to give the stuff back," Salisbury said. "They showed me the Craigslist printout and told me they had the right to do what they did."

"They honestly thought that because it appeared on the Internet it was true," Salisbury said. "It boggles the mind."
It certainly does. Police are promising to prosecute anyone found with Mr Salisbury's property, while at the same time promising amnesty to anyone who returns their ill gotten goods "no questions asked." Check out the AP Video for more.

This is not the first time a Craigslist hoax has resulted in disaster. Last year in April a Tacoma Washington woman had a rental property basically gutted by scores of people responding to an unknown hoaxer's ad on the popular service.
Home trashed after cruel Craigslist hoax @ WKGW

Horrible! I wonder though, did there used to be a Mrs. Salisbury?


iPhone SDK updated

Apple was kind enough to let me know a new updated iPhone SDK has been released.

The second beta version of the iPhone SDK is now available and includes Interface Builder, a powerful tool that allows you to visually build your interface and makes creating a UI as simple as drag and drop.

We've also added new sample code and updated documentation to the rich set of resources available to you in the iPhone Dev Center.

Log in to the iPhone Dev Center today and download the new version of the iPhone SDK.
Too bad I can't use it. No Mac, No way to check out what sounds like a nifty Gui Builder.
Leaving us Linux (and Windows) using devs out in the cold. Par for the course I suppose. Could this be the must have thing to get me to take the plunge? A Mac Mini wouldn't be so bad would it? Still torn.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Ancient" Audio and the Phonautograph

You may remember an April Fools hoax a few years ago about audio captured on clay pottery that made its way around the net. Or you may remember the Mythbusters covering the possibility (Busted, If I remember correctly).

Leaving Edison as the first able to "record" audio for future playback. Well, not exactly. According to the NYTimes, that honor goes to a Frenchman named Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, who "recorded" a 10 second clip of “Au Clair de la Lune” on of all things PAPER almost 20 years before Edison and his tin foil and nearly 30 years before the wax cylinder.

Scott’s device had a barrel-shaped horn attached to a stylus, which etched sound waves onto sheets of paper blackened by smoke from an oil lamp. The recordings were not intended for listening; the idea of audio playback had not been conceived. Rather, Scott sought to create a paper record of human speech that could later be deciphered.
The NYTimes article has even included the clip in MP3 format. Holy Digital Conversion, Batman. Apparently it took almost 150 years, a few engineers and the assistance of computers and scanners to be able to playback any of his recordings. But hey, first is First right. It goes on to state how excited a group of audiophiles and historians are that this important piece of history has been uncovered and will be presented at the annual conference of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif on Friday. But then again these guys are an excitable bunch anyway.

Read the full article here.

OK, sure the guy "recorded" sound, he apparently was very upset that Edison beat him to the patent office and generally received all the glory. Somehow though, I think recording 10 seconds on 2 sheets of paper would make an LP sized recording equivalent to an encyclopedia and thus slightly impractical.

What do you think? has a rather lengthy piece on the Scott and his curious phonautograph device, including some lovely photos.


TeeWars becomes TeeWorlds, Stays Fun

A game I reviewed a while back, TeeWars has updated to a newer version 0.40 along with the updated weapons physics and gameplay comes a new name, TeeWorlds, and a new License. This was followed quickly by a bugfix release 0.4.1 a few days later.

I applaud the developers for all their hard work. TeeWorlds is a worthy upgrade and still way too much fun. A new weapon, the Laser Gun, was added. The physics tweaked and a double jump indicator has been added. Also included is a much needed map autodownloader. Gameplay balance has also been tweaked, although I didn't notice the changes in my testing. The game runs fine under Windows and Linux without hassle on my setups.

The laser seems a bit odd, kind of laggy. Could be just me though, as opponents seem to have no trouble hitting me with it.

A map editor is also included, Press Ctrl-Shift E to start it. Good luck figuring it out though as it is not supported by the developer as of yet.

Most interesting to me was the license change. I received many comments about the old license and the fact that it was not Open Source. Mattricks, the lead developer, reassured me that the new license would be.

Here is the text of the new license for TeeWorlds.

Copyright (C) 2007-2008 Magnus Auvinen

This software is provided 'as-is', without any express or implied
warranty. In no event will the authors be held liable for any damages
arising from the use of this software.

Permission is granted to anyone to use this software for any purpose,
including commercial applications, and to alter it and redistribute it
freely, subject to the following restrictions:

1. The origin of this software must not be misrepresented; you must not
claim that you wrote the original software. If you use this software
in a product, an acknowledgment in the product documentation would be
appreciated but is not required.
2. Altered source versions must be plainly marked as such, and must not be
misrepresented as being the original software.
3. This notice may not be removed or altered from any source distribution.
4. Neither this software nor any of its individual components, in original
or modified versions, may be sold by itself.


IMPORTANT NOTE! The source under src/engine/external are stripped
libraries with their own licenses. Mostly BSD or zlib/libpng license but
check the individual libraries.


With that being said, contact us if there is anything you want to do
that the license does not premit.

#4 is a little troublesome, but according to the OSI's Open Source Definition, it qualifies.

1. Free Redistribution

The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale.

In the final analysis, I highly recommend TeeWorlds. A cute, fun, multiplayer online platform shooter.

For a more in depth look, see our previous review.


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