Posts tagged #from-blosxom

These posts are from version 1.0 of, when the site’s blog was powered by Blosxom. Everything here dates to 2010 and earlier. Expect broken links, and in a few cases, broken/missing site functionality.

I’m Listening

Every now and again I find an old eighties album in the used bin that I’ve never gotten around to buying a copy of. And I snag it. The most recent is INXS’s Kick. Man, what an album. How many of y’all remember “Mediate,” the trippy coda for “Need You Tonight”? It consists mostly of nonsense along with a few great bits of advice, all in phrases ending in -ate — not unlike when Joyce fills a page with -ation words in Finnegans Wake. The “Need You Tonight” video included “Mediate,” which got a treatment that ripped off Bob Dylan’s promo for “Subterranean Homesick Blues”: As each line was sung, a card with the lyric was held up and then tossed to the ground.

I thought it was pretty common knowledge that INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence died of autoerotic asphyxiation, but Google’s results seem to indicate … read full post »

Even Trees Change

Last night as I was preparing dinner, there was a strange and alarming noise outside. It sounded sort of like someone setting off some firecrackers in the nearby parking lot, but I took a look out there and saw nothing. Today I discovered the source: The large tree outside our apartment lost one of its main branches.

Last week there were some birds beginning to nest in that tree. They chirped nearly constantly in the morning and at twilight. Today there was no sign of them.

Happy June, readers!

Why the DVD Case Matters to Everyone

It’s taken four years, but the California DVD case will finally reach the state Supreme Court on Thursday. (From there, it will probably head to the U.S. Supreme Court.) And yet, the media is still getting the story completely wrong: DeCSS was not created to copy DVDs (though its code can be used in that fashion), but rather to make DVDs viewable with Free Software.

See, you may think you “own” those shiny silver discs you’ve bought. You may think you can play your DVDs on whatever damn hardware you like. But the movie industry says you’re wrong. Moving overseas? Your American DVDs won’t play on European or Asian players. Run Linux instead of Windows or the Mac OS? Too bad: There is no sanctioned player software for that platform. Free Software projects don’t pay ransoms to gain the “secret recipes” needed to access closed data formats—instead, … read full post »

Holding Patterns

Are you like me? Are you a wannabe, self-taught coder who understands the concept of regular expressions, but hasn’t mastered them yet? Or are you a Real Coder who needs a tool to help churn out particularly nasty regexes? The Regex Coach is your salvation. Look at that screenshot! Wow! And the sucker runs in Windows or Linux! If only it were Free

[found on]

What to Do With The Simpsons

We all worry about the folks who create The Simpsons running out of ideas. (Well, those of us who do not believe that’s already happened worry about it.) If truth be told, the series is just not as consistently funny as it used to be. How much longer can it possibly go on?

Last night as I was watching the show, a solution struck me. What if all the characters changed? I mean, what if they shook up the show with some season-ender that just changed everything, and then picked up from there the following season, and stuck with the changes? It would be sort of like that trick they pulled on you in the original Legend of Zelda, where, at game’s end, you were suddenly told there was a second quest to fulfill. And in that second quest, all the locations were the same, and yet different; all … read full post »


When I was little, I saw the moon in the sky one afternoon. My four- or five-year-old mind was encountering data that violated a pattern I thought I understood. The moon was out, and yet it was not nighttime. So I asked my dad why the moon was out.

Dad looked up at the moon and said, “Well, I guess the guys who take it down in the morning forgot, and left it up there.”

I cannot remember how long I believed that there were in fact men responsible for putting the moon up and taking it down. But I know I believed it that afternoon.

At some point during my teenage years, I came down with the idea that when lonely people look up at a full moon, the mates they have yet to discover look up at the same moment; that connections are strengthened in these instants; and … read full post »


I never much liked The Matrix overall. Two stars. Great look, but weak characters spouting horrible dialog. Nifty Philip K. Dickian concept, but poorly executed. Still, there was enough in it that I liked to make me hope that the sequel would be an improvement.

The Matrix Reloaded gets three stars on your standard Ebertlike scale, and has me rooting for the forthcoming third and final chapter, Revolutions. The acting is still mostly flat, but what are you going to do when Keanu is the star? The man has a not-quite-there look that is apparently contagious. We’re not here for the acting, anyway; we’re here for the look, which is mostly great, the special effects, which are mostly fantastic, and the trippy what-is-reality theme, which gets a few new layers added to it this time around.

The characters in Reloaded spout fewer sentences that sound high-minded but are ultimately … read full post »

We Don’t Need No Steenking Driver CD

My new Pentax Optio S — a super-nifty digital camera that fits in an Altoids tin — is the coolest toy I’ve treated myself to in a long time. I bought it thinking that I would not be able to get it to work directly with Linux, but this weekend things turned out better than I expected. To get an Optio S talking to Linux via USB, add the following lines to your /usr/src/linux/drivers/usb/storage/unusual_devs.h file:

UNUSUAL_DEV(  0x0a17, 0x0006, 0x0000, 0xffff, 


		"OPTIO S", 


Now recompile your kernel. After a reboot, your Optio will act like any other usb-storage device, fully browsable from any mount point you set up.

Ain’t Linux a hoot? Ah, but someday this foolishness will not be necessary. There is already less and less of it all the time.

The Magic of The City

I generally skip Mark Morford’s columns on SFGate. I find his writing shrill. He’s especially over-the-top as he sings the praises of San Francisco (“perfectly climated”? come on!) but it is still a good read that captures a lot of what I love about living in the Bay Area.

A lot of what Morford has to say about SF is also true for the more dynamic and spirited parts of the East Bay. Let’s not forget that Oakland beats the pants off the City in terms of diversity, and that Berkeleyans can wonderfully outweird their peninsular cousins any day of the week. We have better movie theaters and better pizza over here, too. And much less of that damned fog.

I See No Spam Here

Jon Udell is right on: SpamBayes absolutely rocks. Until recently, my spam level was very low, so I didn’t depend on a spam filter. But since February, I’ve been trapped in a massive spamstorm. Nowadays, I need a filter.

I only have two criteria for a spam filter. First, of course, it’s gotta catch an overwelming majority of the spam that comes in. Duh. But secondly, and even more importantly, it should never classify “ham” (real e-mail) as spam. Not ever. (I should not have to check my “spam” folder every now and again to make sure that a letter from my stepgrandmother in Illinois didn’t end up in the spam basket.)

SpamBayes has caught nearly 700 spams for me since February, when I started using it. And in that time, it has never — not once — flagged ham as spam.

Udell sez there is an Outlook … read full post »

You Cannot Conceive How Tiny You Are

The latest pictures from Hubble astound me. I do not understand how professional astronomers keep from breaking down from time to time, just plain weeping over the sheer vastness of that which they study. It’s staggering how much is out there, and how far away it is, and how old it is. And how small we are in relation to it all (in this life, anyway).

Like a Latrine on a Hot, Muggy Summer Day

If I may borrow a line from Get Your War On, “Do you ever get the feeling that a secret game is being played in America, and nobody will tell you the rules?”

All sorts of media outlets are reporting that Halliburton, Dick Cheney’s old company, is actually taking a far larger, more lucrative role in the rebuilding of Iraq than previously disclosed. Did Halliburton have to bid for this opportunity? Hell no. Is Cheney still on their payroll? Hell yes. (To the tune of up to a million dollars a year.)

If Bill Clinton had tried anything even remotely as inbred as this, can you imagine what would have happened? Several top Republican heads would have simply exploded in sheer outrage. Or perhaps not: Right-wingers tend to have no problem looking the other way when money and greed are involved. But receive a blow job where you’re … read full post »