I make blogging too hard. I always think I have to be writing something important and that’s just untrue. So here’s a small collection of thoughts since I last blogged.

Yaketystats 2.1 is out. I feel like we’re floundering exposure-wise. I really think we have the best product out there, but no one seems to care. We’ve talked about writing an article for a Linux mag and doing an OSCON presentation, so maybe that’ll help.

Firefox in Ubuntu has been driving me crazy for the last several months. My work machine is an 4CPU 8G atom-smasher and FF is still crazy slow. Like you’d laugh and ask “how is that possible?” slow. I don’t have many extensions, and it seems like my box should be able to handle tons of extensions, but I regularly find myself waiting several seconds for a new tab to be usable and I’m always waiting for text boxes to catch up to my typing. It sucks.

I’m also really frustrated with Ubuntu in general. Coming from Debian where in-place upgrades are the norm, it’s really weird and sad to read that reinstalling come upgrade time is the norm in Ubuntu culture. Sure you can upgrade in place, but it’s fraught with peril and things often don’t work right. For instance, I finally got my laptop wireless working in 8.04, but it didn’t survive the upgrade to 8.10 and I can’t make it work at all now, so I’m living in Vista. Don’t get me started on Vista.

There are a lot of cultural things about Ubuntu that just rub me the wrong way. I guess I’m getting old. As much as they do to make it all work together and feel cohesive, to me it feels very tenuous and fragile. If NetworkManager (for example) doesn’t work for you, well sorry, you’re just fucked because that’s the Ubuntu way to do it and you’ll be swimming upstream the rest of your Ubuntu-life if you try to do it another way. PulseAudio is another example of this.

BTW, when did “for example” cease to mean anything? It’s like banner-ad blindness; people don’t even hear it anymore and immediately start arguing the details of your example ignoring the point you were trying to make by using the example. It’s one thing to say “Well, I see the point you’re trying to make, but I don’t think your example supports your point and here’s why,” but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about “Oh, since you brought up X, let’s argue about that now and I’ll completely ignore any point you were trying to make when you brought X up.”

I started twittering but I don’t expect it to last. Having not grown up with Twitter, it seems like they make finding your friends overly difficult. Searching by invite/email address? Really?

I recently bought a Greg Bailey Custom guitar. The guitar used as his horrid background image, in fact. It plays and sounds great. It’s the second aluminum instrument I own and is very very different than my Travis Bean. Maybe I’ll put some experiments with my new ElectroHarmonix Hog on youtube sometime. The Hog is an extremely fun device.

I wish I could find an acoustic that’s as nice as my Travis Bean. I’ve got a $2k Taylor. After a few years it’s not holding up very well and my initial annoyances with it are only magnified now. I got really lucky in that I have a friend who owned a Bean enabling me to find out how fantastic they are. I lack friends with kickass acoustic guitars (vintage or otherwise) so it’s hard to even know what’s out there and what I’d like. Acoustic guitar shops are usually far too uptight for me. It’s almost as if you’re supposed to buy the guitars w/o playing them.

I’m reading Steve Pinker’s The Blank Slate and enjoying it very much. It’s one of those books that really makes you examine yourself and your dogma. In some ways, though, it’s a bit of a motivation killer. I have enough problems with motivation/feeling like part of the machine/etc without feeling like my identity isn’t even cohesive. :)

I guess that’s as good a thought as any to leave on. UNTIL NEXT TIME!


F and B

I do my best to leave politics out of my discussions with others, but I have to say that Ed found the perfect video. I’ve never been a big J. Stewart fan, but this is pretty great stuff.


Privatized Free Speech

For your information, lady the Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint!

What does the Supreme Court have to do with it, now that it’s privatized?


Various civic… uh…

Wouldn’t your life be better if you had audio CD’s of the full soundtrack to The Big Lebowski in your car? Of course it would!

These instructions assume Linux, mplayer and k3b and that you have the Universal edition of the disc. I don’t know the track count for the original Paramount disc.

Insert the disc.

for n in $(seq 1 22); do mplayer -vc null -ao pcm:fast:file=track${n}.wav -vo null dvd://1 -chapter ${n}-${n} ; done

However! For some weird reason, track12.wav will be in French if you do the above!

My solution was:

mplayer -vc null -ao pcm:fast:file=track12.wav -alang en -vo null dvd://1 -chapter 12-12

Since I already had the other ones ripped I just ripped the one track with the language set. You can probably just add -alang en to the first loop and you’ll be fine.

The .wav files will be at 48kHz which is above the RedBook standard of 44.1kHz, so you’ll have to resample them. There’s probably a way to do that while ripping, but I’m too lazy and let k3b do it for me. I’d also suggest you let k3b (or whatever) normalize the tracks because as ripped, they’re very quiet. I used “normalize-audio” before I saw that k3b could do it for me.

You really should do this. You’ll thank me.


Amazing Savants

Even though no one posted that they watch the videos (thanks!) I’m posting these anyway. So screw you!

We’ll start out easy. This one is only 5 minutes and it will blow your mind.

Derek is a musical genius. There are 5 parts to this story, each about 10 minutes. If you start, you won’t stop. It’s astounding.

Daniel Tammet has an amazing brain. He can learn languages to fluency in a week, do insane math. He can recite Pi to 22,500 decimal places. It’s another 5 part series with each part being around 10 minutes.

I almost hesitate to post this one, but it’s a great story too. I hesitate because this is the story that inspired the movie Rain Man. Why does that make me hesitate? Because every one of these stories is worth your time, not just the one that’s the least fearful because of its familiarity.

Don’t watch the first one of each and say “oh that looked interesting, but I need to go watch that movie that looks like it’s going to suck but I’m going to watch it anyway” or “I would have watched those, but I had to listen to another song with the word ‘baby’ in it” or whatever lame excuse you’ll come up with. Watch them all. You’ll be glad you did.


So yea… new blog

I finally switched away from my home-grown blog software. It lived for over 5 years, I’m proud to say. Nothing about it was failing, I just got tired of extending it and if you’re not growing you’re dying.

My plan is to migrate the old stuff that wasn’t just crap filler over to this blog if I can pre-date entries. I guess I should have tested that before I went “production.” Being the curmudgeon that I am, I have plenty to complain about in the WordPress department, but I’ll spare you. I’m trying new things and I guess that’s what matters.

Speaking of new things, I’ve started using Ubuntu on my new work machine and my new personal laptop. It’s a painful switch away from Debian and I’m not sure how long it’ll last. Quite sadly my main reason for switching is font rendering quality. That’s right. I have two machines that actually have stuff like Evolution installed because I like how fonts look in Ubuntu and I can’t get them to look that nice in Debian.

While I’m going crazy with new things, I’m also trying new window managers. I tried E17 the other day and remembered why I quit using E back in the E14 days. Just not for me. I also tried KDE4 which is very very much not for me.

I am using Compiz-fusion on both my laptop and work desktop. I doubt very much it’ll last though because it’s very slow (for some reason it makes Google Reader insanely slow on my work machine which is 4cpu/8G, with a real graphics card: an nVidia Corporation Quadro FX 1700 so no excuses) and doesn’t have my precious ctrl-; which I map to a middle-click style paste.

For you non X11 users out there, prior to stupid window environments like GNOME and KDE, X11 used a simple text-buffer for selections. All you had to do was select text and it was automatically copied into the copy buffer; middle click pastes. No pesky keystrokes just for copy and paste. G&K added their own copy buffer that allows for the more windows/mac style copy and paste (meaning more than just text.) I never ever ever use that though, so it’s just a nuisance for me. It’s especially awful because the paste keyboard shortcut differs from application to application and I spend a ton of time in terminals.

So a long time ago I tricked some lisp-er in #sawfish into writing me a universal paste that the windowmanager itself handled and it worked mostly great. Great enough that I’m going to probably go back to sawfish on both machines because the eye-candy just isn’t worth having to use a mouse.

As if that weren’t enough new, I’ve been writing some comics about work and my life. It’s entirely probable that you had to be there and it’s just not funny to anyone else. I’ve also been co-writing some comics with my friend Ed Kelly. And if you act now, I’ll double your order!

Oh and did I mention that I’ve got a couple of youtube videos up? They aren’t great, so please be kind.


Top Ten TED Talks

I realize I’m way late on getting this published, but it’s just so good I don’t mind being late.

I saw this on Boing Boing and I don’t really have time to add a lot to it right now, so this one goes out to the folks who can’t handle the traffic of megablogs like BB. Every one of these is simply great. Well worth your time.