Here's a great explanation of why GUI's suck and should only be built on top of command-line interfaces.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Dan Savage has this to say about September 11th (while walking around Manhattan):
On some level I think social conservatives are angry that the terrorists attacked New York City and not Branson, Missouri. Al-Qaeda wanted to attack real America—and real Americans—and they knew that here is where you find both. So in addition to murdering 3,000 innocent people in New York City on September 11, 2001, the terrorists insulted the vanity of America's social conservatives and demonstrated that they shared their prejudices. They're still reeling from the blow.
Friday, September 10, 2010
It's my impression that most people, even those fully convinced by the science of global climate change, picture the changes that are coming as being pretty gradual, and being such that we (even if only the "we" in high-tech Western countries that don't share borders with low-lying poor countries) will be able to adapt to them to some degree, whatever (nasty) pain they inflict. I've pretty much been thinking that way.
That is: we'll see hotter summers, changing rainfall patterns, more and more powerful storms (Minnesota beat Texas this year in number of tornadoes), beach erosion, and so on. Not to mention the social and political and military implications of climate refugees (the Pentagon is taking this very seriously). But, we think, life will go on, and the human race will survive -- even if life is a lot harder and there's a lot of suffering.
I am no longer so sanguine.
This Scientific American article, How Acidification Threatens Oceans from the Inside Out, is one of the scariest things I've ever read. (The full article is not available online; it's in the August 2010 issue.)
The oceans are getting more acidic due to dissolved carbon dioxide, which forms carbonic acid. (Dissolved carbon dioxide one of the main reasons that Coca-Cola has a pH around 3 in the can.) Not coincidentally, the oceans have been absorbing huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the air -- keeping the atmospheric CO2 levels from increasing even faster than they already are.
Ocean acidification is seriously problematic because most plants and animals in the ocean have evolved to live in a given range of acidity -- and changing that acidity can seriously mess up body chemistry. We're already seeing corals damaged by it, and experiments have shown that small shifts in acidity levels can have big effects on ocean life — reducing reproduction rates, impairing immune system function, and so on: even before acidity gets to the point of simply destroying life, cells and systems in oceanic life forms have to work harder to maintain their internal acidity levels, which takes more resources and impairs their ability to reproduce and thrive.
We're nearing the acidity range where we'll see serious impairment for a large range of sea life — and it might happen quickly, rather than gradually.
The REALLY scary thing about this is that if the acidity messes with phytoplankton (the source of half our atmospheric oxygen), then it's quite simply game over. We're not just talking about a lot of pain and suffering. We're not talking about merely the end of human civilization, or even the end of the human species: we're talking about the end of the biosphere as we know it. Game over, we took off and nuked it from orbit — but we forgot to take off first.
The thing about ocean acidification is that there's no wiggle room at all for global warming denialists. We've got the data on ocean acidity. We've got the experiments on various sea life and the effects of acidity change. There's no remediation possible — no giant space mirror or sulfur in the stratosphere is going to help this. (Sorry, Space Cadets.)
We simply have to lower (or eliminate) our carbon dioxide output. End of story — or end of us.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
In what world is it a reasonable Sysadmin action to stop cron entirely, just to avoid an (otherwise-harmless) email alert from one cron job out of 30+ jobs on a host?
I am not sure why this particular insanity is boggling my mind so much today. (Perhaps some of it is due to the Sysadmin in question first trying to use 'svcadm diable cron' -- FOUR TIMES -- before realizing their typo.)
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
I love this kind of stuff!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I saw this bizarre and hilarious blog post about TV shows and, well, bizarrity linked last week from Facebook. It's well worth a read. (The author was a writer/producer for The Sarah Connor Chronicles amongst other things.)
Monday, July 12, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
(Emo Philips, that is.)
Emo Philips has posted a bunch of videos on his site, which were otherwise unavailable. This makes me very happy.
My favorite, I think, has to be the Golden Gate Bridge bit. (This is the "Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist, Great Lakes Region, Council of 1912" bit.) Absolutely brilliant.
Forbes has an interactive map that shows how many people moved from between US counties based on 2008 data from the IRS. This is very cool.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Bristol University researchers found that drinkers develop a tolerance to both the anxiety-producing and the stimulating effects of caffeine, meaning that it only brings them back to baseline levels of alertness, not above them.
"Although frequent consumers feel alerted by caffeine, especially by their morning tea, coffee, or other caffeine-containing drink, evidence suggests that this is actually merely the reversal of the fatiguing effects of acute caffeine withdrawal," wrote the scientists, led by Peter Rogers of Bristol's department of experimental psychology.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Monday, June 07, 2010
Saturday, June 05, 2010
What the fuck is going on in Arizona?
Meanwhile, in South Carolina, a State Senator describes an Indian-American candidate for governor (and President Obama) as a "raghead".
What the fuck is going on in South Carolina?
(I do realize that idiotic and appalling racism is not limited to Sunbelt states full of cranky white retirees and the state which was the epicenter of the Confederacy. I will not be surprised -- saddened, but not surprised -- if I have to ask what the fuck is going on in Massachusetts in the near future. My point is: what the fuck?)
This is the same Family Values candidate who appears to have had an affair with a political blogger. Yes, she's a Republican.
Monday, May 24, 2010
So I'm at our local Science Fiction/Fantasy Bookstore, and I'm asking the clerk about when a book is coming out, and in the course of the conversation he utters these words:
I don't really like SF that much. I don't really read.
I suppose it's possible that the owner is scraping the bottom of the barrel on clerks here, but still.
Thursday, May 06, 2010
Really? People who like Max Headroom want to order "Sleazy Stags from Dad's Secret Stash"???
Is this a small-sample-size effect or are people who like groundbreaking SF TV from the 1980s simply into bad porn? (Don't answer that.) Or is some search term I actually don't want to know getting hits on "Headroom"?
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Music industry spokesperson explains why they love child porn (because it gives them the wedge they want to filter the rest of the net).
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Monday, March 08, 2010
So I updated one of my servers to Ubuntu 9.10 recently (I like to stay back from the bleeding edge), and it took me a while to realize that somewhere in there — possibly in the recent kernel update — my system beep went away. A little searching showed that a lot of people hate the system beep and were looking ways to turn it off. Fair enough, but apparently Ubuntu thought that it was a good idea to turn off the system beep by default. Bad Ubuntu!
To fix this, I did
and to make this stick at reboot, I had to un-blacklist the 'pcspkr' module, which I did by removing the
line in /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf.
Monday, March 01, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Via BoingBoing, a video of a rocket breaking the sound barrier amidst a layer of ice crystal clouds. Pretty, and Scientific!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
SunOracle Solaris has Zones,
which are a light-weight virtual server platform that we use a
lot at work.
We're finally rebuilding our "chassis" servers -- the ones that host all of our virtual Solaris servers (mostly web and mail apps). Our normal zone creation script kept crapping out )at the point of first booting the new zone) with
zoneadm: zone 'ZONE': These file-systems are mounted on subdirectories of /fs/zones-1/ZONE/root: zoneadm: zone 'ZONE': /fs/zones-1/ZONE/root/var/sadm/install/.door zoneadm: zone 'ZONE': call to zoneadmd failed
(I've redacted the hostname to protect my company. :-))
The first boot of the zone happens — or rather, fails to happen — after zoneadm -z ZONE install and some file copies into the new zone directory tree.
Doing Internet searches for these strings doesn't really help much.
After many hours of digging, I discovered that I could run zoneadm -z ZONE boot and get the zone to boot — but only if I waited quite a while after doing the zoneadm -z ZONE install — at least ten minutes.
I was able to see that a pkgserv process was running:
root 23107 1 0 14:55:27 ? 0:02 pkgserv -d /fs/zones-1/ZONE/root/var/sadm/install -N pkgadd
— and that took between 3 and 4 minutes to quit out.
Now, pkgserv seems to be part of an effort to speed up building and patching zones, which can take a long time. The particular setup we're seeing appears to have shown up with the 2010-01-08 Recommended Patch Cluster (though it might have shown up earlier -- we stepped from the 2009-05-08 cluster to the 2010-01-08 cluster, so if it showed up earlier we wouldn't have seen it).
Once pkgserv finally quit, if I immediately tried zoneadm -z ZONE boot or zoneadm -z ZONE ready, it would give me the same "call to zoneadmd failed". truss showed me that a call to zone_create() was failing with EBUSY, and that was propagating up the stack. The thing that's bizarre is that it never seemed to clear. (If I left it alone, it would eventually clear [as I saw empirically] but I never actually managed to pin down how long the error would take to clear — the loop time was way too long.) I think that running zoneadm -z ZONE ready actually prolongs the error.
I finally gave up and tried
umount -f /fs/zones-1/ZONE/root/var/sadm/install/.door
(plain umount didn't work), and that magically cleared the problem. Both umount and umount -f threw errors, too:
umount: warning: /fs/zones-1/ZONE/root/var/sadm/install/.door not in mnttab umount: /fs/zones-1/ZONE/root/var/sadm/install/.door not mounted
(The door file was never showing in /etc/mnttab or in mount output. I could never find a clean way to find the mount.
I think it's clear that the pkgserv setup is a bit buggy and needs to be fixed.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Interesting article from a Sun employee laid off in Germany, and how the Sun-Oracle merger and resulting
layoffsreductions in force illuminate the political landscape in the US.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
If you were going to install a new version of, say, apache, and saw
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 13 Jan 9 2009 apache -> apache-1.3.29/ drwxr-sr-x 9 root root 512 May 10 2001 apache-1.3.26/ drwxr-sr-x 9 root root 512 Jan 27 2004 apache-1.3.29/
in /usr/local, how would you install your new version of apache? I would hope that you wouldn't just install it into an "apache" directory like this:
drwxr-sr-x 10 root root 512 Feb 9 09:38 apache/ drwxr-sr-x 9 root root 512 May 10 2001 apache-1.3.26/ drwxr-sr-x 9 root root 512 Jan 27 2004 apache-1.3.29/
I swear, this needs to be an interview question with a hard FAIL mode (as in "Sorry, we're done. Goodbye."). If you can't figure out to preserve the existing pattern, you shouldn't be a sysadmin.
Monday, February 08, 2010
Please don't suddenly and randomly flip the value of the "Always use the cursor keys to navigate within pages" option. Having the down-arrow key change from "scroll the window down a few pixels" to "jump to the next link" is brain-shearingly annoying.
Dear Web Application Programmers,
If your web page presents a very complex form to fill out, which can take up to 20 minutes to do correctly, PLEASE program it so that if the user hits Backspace when not actually clicked into a form entry field, it doesn't just happily do the equivalent of hitting the Back button. I.e. ask me if I really want to navigate away from the form I just spent 20 minutes filling in and let me click "no" so I don't scream "NO!" and want to poke out my own eye.
A Nearly One-Eyed Ranting Nerd
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
The conclusion is not surprising, but is well put:
Of course, we live in an age when our most powerful people - they tend to also have lots of money - are also the most isolated. They live in gated communities with private drivers. They eat at different restaurants and stay at different resorts. They wear different clothes and skip the security lines at airports, before sitting at the front of the plane. We shouldn't be surprised that they're also assholes.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
The Spouse and I saw Avatar yesterday. We enjoyed it. It's spectacular (in the sense of being a spectacle). Pity about the script, though.
ETA: The Spouse and I both think that the movie would have been much more interesting if Sigourney Weaver had played Colonel Quaritch.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Favorite quote from the story:
A more straight-faced spin-off of "Doctor Who," "Torchwood" is about a covert group that investigates and fights alien activity.
("straight-faced"? Have they watched this show?)
(Thanks to Wilmar for the heads-up.)
Monday, January 18, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
(And I count myself as one....)
Complaining about the Youth Of Today is far from new:
An Assyrian clay tablet dating to around 2800 B.C. bears the inscription: “Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.”
(Via Making Light.)
Up, while technically brilliant and often gorgeous to look at, is one of the bleakest movies we've ever seen. The first 10 minutes of the movie are fascinating to watch, but veer into serious tear-jerk territory fairly quickly. The rest is just bleak and weird, with a few minutes of heartwarming content at the end. The dogs are cute, though.
Up in the Air is also bleak -- but it's supposed to be. It's a very sardonic, and an actual adult comedy (R-rated, even), and has some real bite. It also has George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick (who is (a) young and (b) very good). It may not make cinematic history, but it's a solid couple of hours of film, and I strongly wish there were more movies like it.