Just noticed an item on the Iraq situation over at Normblog.
While the Shi'ites are fired by blind vengeance, the Sunnis appear to
have a plan. They are trying to split Baghdad in half in advance of a
proposal to carve Iraq into three federal regions.
So... Iraq gets divided into three parts (Caesar, BTW, didn't claim to have done this to France; he said it was that way when he found it). In the north are the Kurds, who pretty much seem to have their act together, as long as they can avoid war with Turkey. In the south are the Shia, with oil and the one-each sea port. In the middle are the Sunni Arabs, with, er, with...
Help me out, here. This division benefits the Sunni Arabs how, exactly?
Well, I guess it benefits their warlords, if not having to share power is their only goal. The rest of 'em, though, would seem to be better off staying connected, if only they and the Shia would stop massacring each other.
If you're trying to run a bittorrent client on a FreeBSD machine - because, say, that's the one connected directly to the 'net, and you don't feel like playing with the firewall configuration to allow a torrent server on an inside machine - don't try to put downloaded files in a directory that's mounted via NFS from a Linux box.
You don't want to do it.
Ktorrent will fail with a weird message about not being able to preallocate the file.
Ctorrent, on the other hand, will appear to be working. For a while. Then the BSD machine will get royally wedged and require use of the reset button.
Put the downloaded files on a local drive. Your life will be much more pleasant.
The extra sleep does seem to have helped with whatever my problem is; at least I'm not feeling dizzy so far this morning (though I'm not trying chocolate, nor energy drinks, again any time soon).
The extra hour brought weird dreams....
First there was one of the ones where I'm back at college, only it's not any college I ever attended. Usually these are scary: I'm suddenly at college, it's halfway through the semester, and I haven't been attending classes, or I'd signed up for two humanities classes and then completely forgotten about them, or something like that. This time, I was surrounded by lovely, quietly dignified young women, and had somehow carried back to that time (freshman year, I think) the secret of being totally at ease with them. Not that I've learned that secret yet.
Then, suddenly, it was present time, give or take a few years, and I was at a small meeting (a half-dozen or so people) that was just wrapping up. Seemed to be a planning meeting for some informal social group. The only people I specifically recognized were Donald Rumsfeld (who was wearing one of his usual suits and roller skates), and a very senior Air Force NCO (in civilian attire and rollerblades, pushing an old, possibly military-issue, double-wide stroller containing twins) whom I knew slightly from some other context, possibly the rocket business.
All of which makes no sense, but if I go to the science-fiction club meeting tomorrow, and Rumsfeld shows up on roller skates, I'm gonna freak.
I guess it's a good thing that there wasn't a lot of work that needed doing this week....
What I'd thought was chocolate poisoning on Monday turns out to be something else, though I still don't know what. Jangly nerves, insomnia, general twitchiness, a vaguely stunned feeling... I figure it's got to be one of two things:
A: It's the lingering aftereffects of a severe psychological trauma. Whatever it is, it must have happened at lunchtime on Monday, and been so severe that I promptly forgot what it was, and even that it happened.
B: Some buzz-inducing ingredient in energy drinks accumulates in adipose tissue, and skipping meals (because my stomach has been a bit off, and besides I could stand to shed a few pounds) leads to energy-drink flashbacks.
Option B seems a little more likely, especially since the one distinctive symptom (tingly tip of the tongue) is the warning sign that I've had too much. On the other hand, I've never heard of such a thing.
And then, this morning, I awoke from a bizarre nightmare in which all three hard drives on my server (root, additional data, and the external drive for backups) were going flakey. I had replacements on hand for two of the three, but was trying to get the system to boot again so I could copy everything off the old drives, and it wouldn't boot, and was giving strange error messages. Looking in through the transparent cover of the root drive, I could see strange markings on the top platter, and also that mud had leaked in. (Why there was mud on the outside of the drive is another question entirely, as is where the drive had acquired a transparent cover.) As I tried to reboot, the mud kept building up in the drive, until finally instead of text error messages on the monitor, I had a mess that resembled a failed attempt at a pizza. (How a 2-D text console displayed a 3-D mess, with texture, is left as a question for any techno-psychiatrists in the audience.)
Mnfxt. Well, it's Friday morning, and there's a little work to be done pretty much immediately, so I suppose I should get to it. Whether I'll make it to a Halloween party tonight is another question entirely.
Update 1: The server might not be rotting, but the workstation had gone peculiar and needed a reboot... and I had to kick the server's NFS service to make the workstation finish coming back up. This leaves unanswered the question of why clicking any mouse button, on any of Patterico's links, in Firefox 2.0, causes immediate following of the link in addition to whatever the click was supposed to do (open in new tab, pop up context menu, etc).
Update 2: Chocolate poisoning is a factor. Not long after breakfast (so, not on an empty stomach), I nibbled on a little bit of Trader Joe's Bittersweet Chocolate With Almonds. Whooooo! My head is still spinning. It's like I drank a mug of Klatchian coffee. This suggests that I'm knurd (is autoextoxication a factor here?), and that alcohol is needed. However, I tried alcohol earlier in the week (yuck, ptooey), and it didn't help perceptibly.
Update 3: Well, there's a record for you. A bit over 2 hours since rebooting the workstation, and I had to kick famd already, as it had gone to 99% CPU usage.
Strange... I check my referrer log while waiting for lunch to heat up, and I find four hits in a row, just past 9:30 this morning, from someone googling me by name.
I didn't do it! I was completely somewhere else! I was nowhere near the cottage! Not that there was a cottage.
And remember, everything you read on this blog is the product of a diseased imagination, including this disclaimer. All opinions are those of Great Cthulhu. Voiding where prohibited may lead to arrest for indecent exposure. Eating chocolate for lunch may lead to strange postings.
Time to see if that real lunch is ready yet... proper food is, if not the only known cure for chocolate poisoning, at least the most pleasant one.
Update: pork-filled steam buns do not, in fact, cure chocolate poisoning. Whoooo... and I'm trying to shuffle important papers while under the influence of chocolate. I've got to stop keeping that stuff around....
I've decided to discombobulate, as recycle as scrap metal, the rusty old 6-foot-tall, 19" equipment rack that's dominated my patio since... well, since I moved here.
Once upon a time, it was in my bedroom (then in my apartment during my college days, then in my bedroom again), organizing my computer(s), stereo, and whatnot.
When I moved here, the stereo got its own nice wood-veneer cabinet, the computers went under my new desk, and the rack was banished to the patio, where it's seldom served any purpose.
It was a boring old rack of no significance, so letting it get rusty and then scrapping it isn't a crime against humanity like scrapping a classic battleship or something.
Anyway, I'd unbolted and unpinned most of the things that were bolted or pinned in place; this afternoon, it was time to start cutting up the long sections (sides and door).
Out to the shed; fetch grinder. Check.
Look in garage cupboard for orange extension cord. Uh....
Look in shed. Look all around garage floor, behind toolbox, ....
No orange extension cord. Fifty feet of orange air hose, but it's an electric grinder, so that's not much help.
Now, I figure one of three things happened:
I took all my extension cords to Humball, and never got around to retrieving them. Plausible, except that I'm pretty sure I used one within the last few months - like, the last time the Jeep's battery needed a little help.
I put the extension cords away someplace neat and logical. Preposterous!
Larry Warner's "tiny little elven sprites" have made it to California. Panic!
Yes, when all impossible explanations have been eliminated, the "Houseguests" explanation is one that remains. (My apologies to those who haven't heard the song; I think it may still be available on one CD or another.)
Anyway, not having time to chase down the pesky elveses, I went out and bought a replacement extension cord, thereby guaranteeing that when I put it away I'll find the three that I already had.
Using the grinder produced quite a shower of sparks - ouchouchouch! - and the occasional overload trip on the grinder (so now I've learned where the reset button is). But, the long pieces of the rack are now reduced to manageable length!
A little more disassembly, and it'll be time to move on to the next most conspicuous bit of worthless clutter out there....
OK, so it's sort of an interesting concept. I set out to watch the video.
The animatronic clothing? Slightly amusing. Looks barely practical enough to wear at a science-fiction convention, and not entertaining enough for that, so I really don't see the point.
The time before the animatronic stuff showed up? Minutes and minutes of strange attire being paraded by what must be zombies of girls who starved to death. There was a suggestion in the comments that they were animatronic, but good animatronic characters have more expression than that. When I was doing some work at a government facility some years back, I encountered Marine Security Guards who had more expression than that. (And they were cuter, too. The female MSGs, that is.) These chicks are obviously dead and zombified.
Yeah, there are those who blame the stick-figure ideal on men - but, as (I think) Mallard Fillmore has pointed out, this sort of model appears in women's magazines; the models in men's magazines have more curves and less clothing. And as for the dead faces... well, that appeals to a very select group....
Continuing to develop some proficiency in Scheme; learning how to code GUIs, and how to use Scheme objects and such....
In the interest of a planned future project, I'm learning to build complex widgets atop MrEd... and maybe I'll come up with an abstraction layer to hide the MrEd specificity, though one of the reasons for using MrEd in the first place is that it's nicely multiplatform (UN*X, Win32, OS X).
For a learning project... well, there are various DVD-ripping programs for Linux, but so far I've never gotten one to configure, compile, and run on any of my platforms.
So, I'm hacking up a front-end to lsdvd and mencoder, to handle the details of identifying tracks and constructing a useful series of mencoder command lines, one per track.
I'm also tossing in a couple of handy features: first, the program pre-selects all tracks that are at least 75% the length of the longest track (thereby handling both feature films and TV show collections). Second, it'll offer the option of splitting tracks into chapter subranges. I wouldn't ordinarily have thought of this, but the disc I'm using as a test subject (DVD #1 of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) has two fiddly little tracks, and one big track containing the overture, Act I, and Act II, and, were I actually ripping this, I'd probably want to split it into overture/Act I and Act II.
The source code will turn up on Gumbyware when it's ready for public consumption....
Well, I already knew there was at least one Eric Wilner in Canada, one in South America, one in, IIRC, Texas, and one somewhere in the midwest.
I, however, am the definitive one.
Apparently there are 2100 people in the U.S. who share my last name. Most, however, are not related to me, as the name has only been in my family since my great-grandfather adopted it when he came over from Sweden.
There are 818,914 who share my first name. Several have mustaches and mangle UNIX.
Insty links to this item at Nanodot regarding a new position taken by the World Council of Churches:
The international community must create a new United Nations body with the mandate to track, evaluate and accept or reject new technologies
and their products through an International Convention on the
Evaluation of New Technologies (ICENT).
Um. Must? Can we have a must-not instead?
Yeah, I know... they're church types. They believe in Supreme Authority, and Central Planning or Intelligent Design or whatever you call it.
If only we'd had central control of science and technology all along! Then we wouldn't have nuclear weapons. Or gunpowder. Or swords, or plowshares. Or modern agriculture, or any of this modern medical technology which defies God's will that we should suffer.
And the Earth would still be in its rightful place at the center of the Universe! Down with the Copernican heresy!
It seems the FDA is contemplating allowing the sale for human consumption of milk and meat from cloned cattle.
Unsurprisingly, the bio-Luddites are out in force, proclaiming that It's Not Safe, and we can't prove that there's no harm in consuming milk or meat from a cow that's genetically identical to another cow. (This is of course the opposite of the argument against transgenic foods, but who cares?)
Now, there may be legitimate arguments about the long-term wisdom of using cloned livestock and thereby losing genetic diversity, but claiming it's dangerous? C'mon, what's the worst that could happen?
For many years now, I've been active in a local group that features sundry activities. An event basically involves a member who is a leader deciding to lead an event and getting it listed in the group's newsletter, and other people reading about it and showing up.
Now, once upon a time, Back In The Old Days, there was a procedure for leaders to send in events: they'd type them up and mail them in. As I understand it, there was (before my time) a tradition of having a planning night just before the deadline for next month's newsletter, and leaders could show up and hand in events to fill in gaps.
There were two club officers involved in the process: the newsletter editor and the activity coordinator. It was more or less customary, if the schedule was sparse, for the coordinator to call around to leaders and solicit events (preferably ones for which the writeups were on hand and could be easily recycled).
Eventually, I started leading events, and then got talked into becoming activities coordinator when the previous coordinator took over the post of newsletter editor. This was about the time that email was becoming common, and we phased in a standard format for writeups-by-email. I also revived, for a time, the monthly scheduling party, though that proved to have limited utility, and eventually reverted to a meeting between myself and the editor, and any leaders who felt like stopping by; this meeting frequently generated phone calls to leaders to resolve conflicts, or to solicit extra events. Then the editor would take the collected material home and spend a few hours in front of his Mac, fitting everything to the template.
After a while, the editor left, and, following what had become tradition, I stepped into his place. By this time, we'd got the process pretty well sorted out, though I had to translate his template from Mac to a cheap desktop-publishing package (Expert Personal Publisher, if memory serves) under Windows 3.1. (I had grandiose notions of using TeX under Linux, but never did make the transition.)
The scheduling process went something like this: leaders would send their writeups (almost always by email by this time), and, as they trickled in, I would update two documents. One was the chronological collection of writeups, with preliminary formatting applied (30 seconds or so of work per writeup); the other was a summary list of event titles and times, which I sent out periodically to the leaders as the deadline approached. After the deadline, I just had to import the writeup collection, and any other material that had come in, into the template; fill in the calendar page by hand; make any necessary formatting tweaks; print and check proofs; print high-quality masters; and drop the masters off at the print shop, whence the guy who ran the mailing party would pick up the printed newsletters a couple of days later.
Typical elapsed time from deadline to mailing party was a week, though if memory serves it was sometimes as little as three days.
Anyway, I passed the torch, the template, and the process along to my successor, who made some tweaks before passing everything along to his successor, who made tweaks....
Then, a few years ago, we got a brand-new executive committee - a Slate organized by a Candidate with Ideas, and made up largely of people with little connection to the group. Only one old-timer was carried over.
The new committee made a lot of abrupt, and often ill-considered, changes. Among them was the replacement of the planning/scheduling process which had evolved over the years with a new, Designed process.
The Leader got someone (an outsider) to throw together a webapp for scheduling. Now, a webapp for scheduling is conceptually a great idea; in fact, I'd been working on one myself, but it was a ways from being ready. Unfortunately, what was got was something that wasn't ready either, but It Had Been Decreed that this was the replacement for the old process that worked.
Well, over the years since then, it's sort of worked, though the newfangled labor-saving system doesn't seem to save labor; elapsed time from deadline to finished newsletter in electronic form (no printing) runs 10-15 days. Thing is, the old process has gotten entirely lost, and now the webapp is suffering from software rot, and frequently just doesn't work at all (as, e.g., today, the deadline for November events). With the wonderful Designed process busted, and the old-fashioned manual process forgotten, we seem to have a problem here.
So what's the point here? Evolution is conservative and decentralized, and this is frequently a Good Thing. Intelligent Design is radical and centralized, and you'd better hope the Designer is omniscient, omniprescient, and omnibenevolent, 'cause otherwise you're SOL.
Now, potential terrorists can go to the website to learn how to build different types of lethal and destructive devices. For
example, one can find out how to make a fuel-fertilizer bomb, the same
explosive device used by Timothy McVeigh to blow up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. One can also learn how to make a drano bomb which can be placed in gas tanks to blowup cars, or a Molotov cocktail.
As for Molotov cocktails... well, anyone who needs a web site to tell him what this one tells is too stupid to drive a web browser.
But it sure sounds scary!
Maybe we need "Munitions 101" as a mandatory class in high school, to inoculate the public against this sort of scaremongering. (Could also give the guys a chance to blow stuff up under responsible supervision, and avoid the usual out-of-school stupidity, though I guess a hands-on munitions class might be too much to hope for.)
for future applications in which there might be bidirectional communication. Seems to work fine on Linux, but then so would just opening the port once for input and once for output.
On Windows? Oops. The first (as far as I can tell) time I try (read-bytes 1 inport), the whole freakin' Scheme interpreter gets wedged, and takes several iterations of "End now" to make it stop.
Opening the port twice doesn't work on Windows, because opening a port gets exclusive access, even from yourself.
Interestingly, the Scheme interpreter also sometimes gets wedged when I open the port only for input, though at least it doesn't do so instantly the way it does when there are both input and output ports opened.
It's not a right-now-urgent kind of thing, but I figure someday I'll want to communicate both ways over a serial port, and to deliver the program to a Windows-only client.
Another thing to try to sort out in background mode, and try to figure out whose bug it is....
Further: Task Manager reports DrScheme using 0% CPU time in its wedged state. This makes sense, if it's wedged waiting for a character to arrive on the serial port. On the other hand, since it's doing the read in a background task, the foreground ought to be alive, and it isn't.
Update: By George, I think I've got it! Using open-input-output-file appears to be mandatory for serial ports under Windows; otherwise you get nothing but EOFs. Reading the input side of a pair will also return EOF most of the time, even if you'd just issued a MODE command that turned timeouts off. On receiving the EOF, it's necessary to sleep/yield for some fraction of a second and try again. This appears to do what I want.
(define (read-serial-port n p) (let ((c (read-bytes n p) )) (if (eof-object? c) (begin (sleep/yield 0.01) (read-serial-port n p) ) c )))
"If it were easy, it wouldn't be Windows, would it?"
Update, later: Nope, that doesn't work on the client's machine. Now it doesn't work on my lab machine, either, following the Patch Tuesday reboot. In fact, the read-bytes appears to be blocking rather than returning EOF for a non-ready port... and, while it's blocked, the Scheme interpreter is completely wedged. Blocking is fine; blocking is what I expect... but for the interpreter to get wedged is just not useful.