Wednesday, November 15, 2006

PGP is 15 years old

Happy Birthday, PGP!

Wow! 15 years! It seems like only yesterday that I discovered PGP and spent countless hours pouring over the documentation to learn all of the command-line options that were required to get things going. At the time, I was totally amazed at how few of my fellow computer geeks could get a handle on using PGP. After all, Windows wasn't really that popular until 95 came out. Almost everyone who used IBM-compatible PCs used DOS, or at least had to know how to use DOS in order to set up their menu program of choice.

One thing I remember doing, probably not in '91 but certainly not many years later, was setting up batch files to use with my mail reader of choice at the time, OLX, so that I could set it to use these batch files as an external editor in order to either sign or encrypt messages for posting on the local BBSs. I'm sure that if I dig around enough, I'll be able to find the 3 1/2 inch floppy that contains my original public and private keyrings. I even remember my original passphrase! Not only that, but I remember what I changed the passphrase to the first time I ever changed it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Masi Oka

Even though I haven't blogged in quite some time, I have been keeping interesting articles in Bloglines to share with everyone later.

The first article that I'd like to share is a Wired piece on Masi Oka, who plays Hiro Nakamura on NBC's Heroes. So head on over and check it out, and I'll be posting more links that I think you might find interesting.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Blogging Update

It's been a little while since I've updated my blog, and even though it's old news by now, I thought I'd let everyone know that I'm no longer part of linuxworldnet.com. I enjoyed my time blogging there, but I'm sure everyone's noticed that I have a hard enough time keeping up with just this blog, let along three. But it's not all bad news. Martin, aka dadexter, has picked up Minimum Linux, and I'm excited to see where he takes it. And even though there is no official posting to introduce himself, Linux Security has a new contact listed in the "About" section. I'm excited to see where that one goes as well.

To Jon, I enjoyed it while it lasted! I wish I could have stayed longer, but the network deserves more than I felt I could give. By stepping aside, I feel like I'm giving the network a better chance than if I stuck around. Good luck with everything you do! And that goes for my former compatriots over on Linux World Net as well :)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Voice Within: A message from Kaye

Today, there's a new post on A Voice Within:

Kaye:
Hello to all. This message is from Kaye, Frank's wife. I am sorry to inform you that Frank passed away last night.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Waiting...

The other day, I ran across a blog by a gentleman named Frank, titled A Voice Within. It really struck a chord with me, because I hear the voice too, telling me to wait. I have offered Frank to wait with him until we are instructed otherwise, because I am waiting either way. But maybe the voice is more clear to him than it is to me, and he'll know what needs done before I do. In the meantime, I wait...

Monday, October 2, 2006

Thanks, Ohio LinuxFest!

I took the weekend off from cassieiswatching to spend some time with friends and attend the Ohio LinuxFest and just wanted to thank them for the great time they provided on Saturday. I also wanted to thank them for adding me to the blogroll on their blog. I didn't ask for them to do this, nor did they notify my. And all it cost me was doing what any Linux geek with a blog should have done: added a banner for the fest!

I'll be writing more about the fest over the next couple of weeks, I'm sure, but I'll be doing most of those posts over on Linux World Net.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

YouTube - CassieIsWatching

I apologize for not posting in awhile. I've been a bit busy, and in my spare time I've been caught up in the whole LonelyGirl15/CassieIsWatching thing on YouTube. I didn't really get caught up in it until CassieIsWatching, because that's when it started getting interesting. Not sure where it'll lead, but I'd like to think it's a huge Alternate Reality Game. Coincidentally, I just picked up a copy of Beyond Reality: A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming [affiliate link] when all of this started. Good book so far! And if you're watching, Cassie, I'm ready!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

More wiretapping goodness...

It's crap like this that really ticks me off, and prompts essays like my last one.

Monday, September 11, 2006

When did we lose the cold war?

When I was growing up during the 70's and 80's, we had one enemy: "The Soviets." It wasn't that we were at war with them, but we were taught to hate the enemy none-the-less. In a work of fiction, for instance televised wrestling, if you needed an enemy, you put a mask on him and wrote U.S.S.R. (or, for those who realized USSR was an English translation, CCCP) on his trunks. After all, everyone knew that the Soviets were evil. Even when we began to know better, we were still taught that their way of life was evil. This is what the cold war was about, as I'm sure that the children of the USSR were taught the same thing about us. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union collapsed is 1991, it appeared that our way of life had won. We would no longer have to worry about having to show our papers when traveling domestically.

One September morning 10 years later, with one terrorist act that was, statistically, an anomaly, and all of those cold war fears were realized. Our enemy is no longer the Soviet in the mask with USSR or CCCP on his wresting trunks, but the result is the same. As a result of the 9/11 attacks, we can no longer travel domestically, at least by air, without showing "our papers" in the form of a photo ID. We can no longer show up at an airport and pay cash for the next ticket to wherever our hearts desire. And even when we buy our tickets in advance, we are subjected to harassment by random KGB - err, TSA - agents.

Since these horrible events five years ago, our rights have been increasingly stripped. Once again, we are fighting a cold war, but this time it is with our own government. Our "official" stance is still that we do not negotiate with terrorists. Apparently, this is taken to mean, by the current administration at least, that we give them everything they want. By declaring "war on terror" and taking away our rights, our government has given the war to the terrorists. By invading Iraq and taking out the leader of a sovereign nation, our government has destabilized an entire region. This lack of stability plays into the hands of the terrorists because they can legitimately blame us for this problem and easily recruit new members.

Sadly, the cold war was lost five years ago, with the events following 9/11, ten years after it had ended. We have lost it as much to our own government as to the terrorists who have attacked us. Today, I mourn the loss of those who died, but I also mourn the loss of our freedoms.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

DVR software

I've recently written a couple of entries on Minimum Linux about my experiences with MythTV. You'll have to head over there to read about the troubles I ran into, and as I mention there, I've settled on GB-PVR under Windows XP for now. It seems to do most of what I wanted out of Myth, without too much hassle getting things going, so it'll do for now. One thing I do look forward to is getting some of the PC games set up on the home theater system. It could be lots of fun :)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sorry so quiet...

I realize that I've been a bit quiet on here lately. I've been suffering from a pretty severe cold, which I'm finally recovering from, and have two(!) exams in psychology class this week, the second of which is tonight. After that, summer session is out and I have a week before fall quarter starts, so hopefully I can get some serious blogging done (or at least, some of my projects worked on).

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

SAVE MALAK

I received the following email in my inbox overnight, and have posted it in as timely manner as I could.
As a Persian-American human rights lawyer and activist, I am writing to seek your support in the international campaign to save the life of Malak Ghorbany, a 34 year old mother of two, who has been sentenced to death by public stoning in Iran for committing "adultery." As you are aware, it is extremely important to generate as much publicity and awareness about Ms. Ghorbany's case, as well as those of other women who have been recently sentenced to death by stoning in Iran, including Ashraf Kahori.

Last Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors introduced a resolution to urge the U.S. State Dept. to officially condemn sentences of "sangsar" (death by stoning) in Iran. The resolution includes references to cases of Malak Ghorbany and Ashraf Kalhori, and the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on it on Tuesday, August 15, 2006. I am extremely optimistic about the adoption of this resolution, as it opens the path for other governmental bodies to take similar steps in condemning the barbaric and violent sentences of public stoning in Iran. You can read the full text of the proposed resolution at: http://www.stophonourkillings.com/index.php?name=News&file=print&sid=345

I would be enormously grateful if you would publish the information about Malak Ghorbany's case and death sentence, as well as about the pending resolution denouncing the inhumane and barbaric sentence to which Malak and other Iranian women have been condemned.

You can find relevant information, along with the link to the petition that has been set up to protest Malak's stoning sentence at the link below.

SAVE MALAK: http://savemalak.googlepages.com/home


Should you have any questions or require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me via email at LMazahery@gmail.com


Sincerely,

Lily Mazahery, Esq.
President
Legal Rights Institute
Washington, DC

Monday, August 14, 2006

Great quote

It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.

-Ben Franklin

Saturday, August 12, 2006

What happened to the week?!?!

I'd like to apologize to everyone. Last time I looked at the calender, it was Monday. Now it's Saturday. Wow. I didn't mean to go all week without posting any updates, but time just got away from me and I didn't realize I hadn't posted anything here. On a positive note, I've finally been getting into a pretty good ryhtm over on Linux Security and Minimum Linux. I was also planning on submitting a segment for Security Monkey's podcast, but time got away from me and I missed his deadline. Maybe I'll prepare something anyhow so that I have it ready for next time.

Oh, since I've already mentioned my blogs over on Linux World Net, I thought I'd mention a couple of more things. First, Naked Linux, a Kubuntu blog, still needs a writer. Also, Ohio LinuxFest 2006 will be held on Saturday, September 30, and I plan on covering it for Linux News as well as my other blogs. If any readers (from any of the blogs) has plans to attend, let me know! It'd be great to meet some of you.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Upcoming projects

Just a quick note to let everyone know about some projects I'm working on.

First, I'm working on a page dedicated to my 1999 Jeep Wrangler. The page will be mostly static, so once it's complete it won't take a lot of time to keep up to date. Most updates will be projects and/or pictures as they come up.

Next, I plan on putting together a page about the Tandy CoCo. I've been meaning to do this for quite some time, and it's about time I got around to it. Again, it'll be mostly static, but not completely.

Finally, there's the BBS page. I've been wanting to set my board back up for quite some time, and I still plan on it. When I do, I'll work on a matching website for it. I'll probably write a program to take the last post in the "From the SysOp" sub and post it to the site, and maybe put some usage stats on the site as well.

Well, there you have it: the projects that I'll work on when I'm not at work or at school, or busy with "real life" or my other blogs.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Sorry 'bout the downtime

Sorry 'bout the downtime late last night/early this morning. We had a series of power outages that was just enough to make my cable modem decide to malfunction until I reset it. To make up for it, here's a random picture I found on the net that's absolutely hilarious:

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Usage Statistics for July 2006

Up until a few months ago, I used to post interesting information that I've seen in my log files on pretty much a monthly basis. Even though it's a couple of days late, I thought it might be kinda nice to formally make that a monthly feature. So, here's a quick rundown of from July 2006:

Outside of US .com and .net domains, Israel was the number one country represented in my logs for July. France surrenders (they were second. Go read Fark if you don't get it). Overall, thirty different domains are represented. Some other interesting tidbits:

My Arpanet visitor is back. I'm curious as to who is surfing the web from an old Arpanet address.

My .mil visitor is back as well. Yes, I bitch about Bush and the "war on terror." But if you're not fighting for my right to bitch, then you're in the wrong profession.

Hello NSA spooks! I know AT&T could just route my packets to you guys, so I appreciate that one of you took the time to visit my site legitimately ;) (No, I don't really know who visited, or from what branch. Just that it originated from a .gov address.)

I also had a visit or two from Saudi Arabia this month. Could it be one of my .mil friends visiting from off-base?

Other visits, aside from .net, .org, and .edu users, originated from the Netherlands, China, Italy, Japan, Hungary, Sweden, South Africa, Australia, Canada (one of my fellow Linux World Net bloggers?), Austria, Germany, the UK, Norway, New Zealand, Finland, Spain, Seychelles, Turkey, Belgium (can I get an award for the most gratuitous use of the word 'Belgium' in a blog post? UK DNA fans won't get it, but US ones should), and Brazil.

Hello to everyone from around the world who took the time to visit in July. I see ya lurking there ;)

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Productivity tip

I was surfing around a few weeks ago and discovered a productivity tip that I thought I'd try. Unfortunately, I've lost the source blog, so I can't credit where I found it. But it works great so I thought I'd share my modifications to it.

The tip itself it to simple drag your taskbar to the left side of your desktop and turn auto-hide on. By itself, this tip will drive you absolutely nuts. So what I did on my office machine was change my "theme" to classic Windows instead of Windows XP because the Start button is smaller. From there, I drug the taskbar to the left side of my desktop. However, I did not turn auto-hide on just yet. I spent a week or two getting used to the new location of the Start button (in the upper left) and taskbar. Once I was used to it being there instead of along the bottom, I turned auto-hide on. It works great, and gives me more desktop space. The only thing I miss is having an always-visible clock, but I could get a third-party utility for that :)

Friday, July 28, 2006

I survived Hell Week

There really was little doubt, but I survived my own personal "Hell Week" of working full-time, attending classes (and even taking an exam in psychology!), and working a couple of nights as a security officer for a local festival. I missed my goal of posting daily to all of my blogs, but every other day isn't too bad :) Now, I'm off to finish up my lunch break so that I can complete my 13-hour day. After tomorrow's all-day class, hell week is finally over :)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hell Week

Someone should have warned me that this week was going to be "Hell Week," but it's of my own making.

This week, several things have happened at once. First, I work my normal job (about 44 hours a week). On top of that, second summer session started at school. I'm only taking 6 credit hours (one 5 credit-hour class plus a workshop), but that's three nights a week. And to top it off, I'm working two night shifts of security detail for a local festival. And did I mention that my new goal is to post to all three of my blogs daily? I've obviously missed that target already, but every-other-day is still better than what I was doing :)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Comment Spam

Today I had my first case of comment spam :( Which isn't bad, considering how long the blog has been going. Plus, the spam was for vintage computer manuals, and was attached to a post on the Tandy CoCo, so it was just borderline spam. Perhaps someone genuinely thought that the link may have been useful, but they never commented on the post itself. So, if you posted the comment in question, just tie it in with the post itself and I'd let it stand :)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

U.K. Gambling CEO Arrested at U.S. Airport

There is an excellent post over on Cato@Liberty about the U.K. gambling CEO who was arrested at a U.S. airport. I have issues with the following:
The distressing part is just how far some in the U.S. government will go to impose their values on American citizens.

The really distressing part is just how far the US government will go to impose their values on NON-US citizens, much less their own. We have arrested the CEO of a UK company who has violated no law in his own country. His crime was of landing on US soil for a connecting flight, as the US wasn't even his destination. As a US citizen, I am ashamed of the actions of our government.

Monday, July 17, 2006

More proof that Bush is a douchebag

Someone please tell me he didn't just say that! Found on CNN:
"I talked about my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world, like Iraq where there's a free press and free religion, and I told him that a lot of people in our country would hope that Russia would do the same," Bush said.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Personal development and human consciousness

First, an apology. A strange issue with my cable modem knocked me offline yesterday. Sorry the site was unavailable for a good part of the day (part of the price you pay for hosting things at home). With that out of the way, on with the post...

Lately, I've been reading several blogs on "personal development" with great interest. One of the best is by Steve Pavlina because, regardless of what he's writing about, it is always extremely well articulated. While digging around his site (and, more specifically, his blog) I ran across an older entry he had posted on the Levels of Consciousness and just had to pass it on.

Personally, I think I spend most of my time in "Pride," even though my state tends to fluctuate. I can feel myself standing on the edge of "Courage" (or higher) but sometimes sink as low as "Fear." I think these fluctuations are the norm for everyone until they truly reach "Enlightenment." Until then, the journey is what it's all about.

Monday, July 3, 2006

Vacation!

Finally, I get a week off from work. I have been coding in PHP for several months now, and sometimes you just need to step away from it. So, I'm taking this week so that when I get back, I'll be more productive than ever :) Everyone have a great week! And happy Independence Day! :)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

AT&T Privacy Policy

As I'm sure everyone's aware, AT&T has updated their privacy policy. User Friendly has a great take on it. Absolutely hilarious.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Not only smokin'...

...but actually on fire! Someone remind me to never, ever, place a notebook computer in my lap.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Summer quarter

Well, it was a nice break, but summer quarter starts this week. Since I'm a non-traditional student with a full-time job, I thought I'd take a few classes over the summer. If I didn't, I probably wouldn't be able to motivate myself to return in the fall.

One good thing about classes over the summer is that they tend to be a bit smaller: everyone else is enjoying their summer vacation. Plus, the quarter is broken up into two "sessions," each session being half the quarter. Some classes run the full quarter, but many run either first or second session. This allows me to get a couple of less-enjoyable classes out of the way pretty quickly, keeping them as painless as possible :)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Tandy CoCo

Over the coming weekend, I hope to get my computer room, which has increasingly become a storage room, cleaned up and organized. Once it's cleaned up, I'm going to reward myself by taking my Tandy CoCo3 out of the closet and get it running after way too many years in storage.

Of all the vintage 8-bit computers, Tandy's Color Computer line was my favorite. I've owned several, of which I can currently only locate two. One of them is a CoCo2 in unknown state, and the other is a functioning CoCo3. Also in my collection are two grey-case CoCo1's (one functioning, the other not), one CoCo3 which was in the middle of some hardware modifications (err... dead until I can figure out what I did to break it...), and about half a dozen CoCo2's in various states of repair. Unfortunately, that portion of my collection is missing - perhaps victim of overzealous cleaning the last time this room got this disorganized.

When I get everything set up, I'll post some pictures, as I promised Security Monkey I would :)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sometimes I pause...

Every now and then, I find myself without anything to say. It's not that I don't enjoy blogging, or don't have time, or anything like that. I can always squeeze a little time in before work, or during lunch, or several other times during the day. But once in awhile, my mind needs to rest. So I press pause and let my thoughts regroup for a day or two. That way when I press play, the creativity flows again and it doesn't feel forced.

Friday, June 9, 2006

Guests wanted

Are you considering starting a blog, but aren't sure? Maybe a guest post on someone else's blog would help you decide?

Do you already have a blog? Want to drive a little extra traffic your way? Maybe a guest post on someone else's blog with a link back to your own blog would help?

Would you like a post featured here for any other reason?

This is the final announcement that I had planned for this week - a little contest.

I am looking for people who would like to submit a guest post for consideration on this blog. This post can be about just about anything, so long as it's fairly family-friendly. By that I mean no excessive profanity. Basically, nothing that will get me banned from any affiliate programs.

The prize for this contest is to have your entry posted to my blog. If you currently have a blog, I will add you to my blogroll as well.

To submit an entry, email me (the link is found at the bottom of my sidebar). Include your name (as you want it to appear on the entry), your blog's URL and title (if you want included in my blogroll), and why you'd like an entry on my site. The subject of your email should be Blog contest:, followed by what you'd like to title the entry should it be chosen.

Some ideas for your entry are to include an introduction to yourself and include a link to your own blog. Be creative with your reason for wanting to be the winning entry. I won't post the reason (well, I might aggregate the most creative ones into an entry of it's own) but it will help decide the overall winner. Pick a subject loved by geeks everywhere. This isn't required, but it might help.

Judging will be based on both your reason and the entry itself. If I get a ton of submissions I might enlist the help of others to weed out the best submissions, but the final decision on the winner is mine. All submissions must be original, because that I ask that you give me 30-day exclusivity if your entry is picked. No contract, just a gentleman's agreement. All submissions should be received by June 28. The winning entry will be posted on or around July 2. If all goes well, I'll make this a monthly event, so any entries after the 28th will be considered for the following month.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Blogging for myself

My second announcement this week is that I've decided to do a little experiment. I've decided to take part in the 'Blogging Goals' group project over at ProBlogger.net. It's also high time that I define my blogging goals for the next 30 days or so. It should be interesting, at the very least.

The main reason I blog is because I really enjoy writing, so my goal over the next 30 days is blog for myself.

For some, especially the professional bloggers out there (I've just recently joined your ranks), this may seem counter-intuitive, but I believe my reasoning is sound. If I enjoy what I am doing, it really shows in my writing. This leads to both higher-quality content and increased posting frequency. This, in turn, leads to return visitors. These visitors may tell their friends, who might check me out. Some of them will also become regular readers, and the cycle continues.

This word-of-mouth drives traffic. Without traffic, no one clicks any ads. Without those clicks, we don't make money.

So, yeah, I'm going to be selfish this month; I am going to blog for myself and I hope it shows. If you do what you love, everything else will follow :)

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Linux Security blog

This is my first announcement I hinted at yesterday: After doing a couple guest posts for the Linux Security blog over on Linux World Net, I've decided to make that arrangement more permanent. Jon has graciously accepted my offer to become the permanent author in addition to my duties as author of Minimum Linux. It should be lots of fun! :)

Look for my next announcement tomorrow :)

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Finals Week!

Yes, it's that time of quarter that everyone loves so well... Finals Week! Longtime readers can probably figure out when the beginning and end of my quarters are because it causes a break in my posting rhythm. Hopefully it won't be too disruptive this time, because I have many things going on right now. I don't want to be premature in announcing anything, so I'll wait until each one is ready. If the first isn't ready by Thursday, it probably never will be. So look for my first announcement by then.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Boing Boing: Hideous company sends Boing Boing a pre-emptive nastygram

Because of the nastygram sent to BoingBoing, I urge everyone to boycott the FIFA World Cup. The good folks at Baker & McKenzie owe BoingBoing an apology, and anything short of such should have a negative impact on both them and their client. Law firms need to realize that they aren't allowed to indiscriminately harass others without repercussions.

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Behold the power of geek...

Yesterday, I blogged about fixing my water heater. Today, I'm happy to report that, after a couple of days of trying, turning off the water and electric to the heater as needed, I *finally* managed to wrench the old TPR valve off of the water heater. I put on the new valve, using Teflon tape around the threads, and turned the water on and... Viola! Success!

I attribute my successful repair to being a geek. (well... that, and I couldn't afford a plumber. Have you priced one lately?!) Being a geek, I knew that a little research into the symptoms I was having would turn up the problem. Once I knew the problem, the solution came quickly. Actually putting that solution to use was difficult (15 years of corrosion is hard to knock off the threads, ya know?), but persistence always wins. I now have a perfectly good water heater again. Yes, it's well past it's life expectancy. But I've probably just got several more years out of it by doing this $10 repair. And when it finally does die, it will cost me about $200 for a new heater because I now know how to replace it myself (it turned up during my research) instead of the $600+ it would cost me in parts and labor to have a plumber do it for me.

Friday, June 2, 2006

Water heaters...

When the water heater starts leaking, what's a geek to do? That's right! Learn everything he can about water heaters and fix it himself!

Yes, my water heater broke. I called around, and the cheapest model is about $200.00. They can be much, much, more expensive than that. And the minumum installation fee? About $250.00. Ouch! So I did a bit of research, and discovered that the part that's leaking is called a TPR (Temperature & Pressure Release) valve. They're *supposed* to be checked once or twice a year. I've lived here for 8 years, and never knew to check it once. I also discovered that they can go bad and start leaking after 4 or 5 years. The previous owners probably never knew to check it either, so I'm guessing that the thing is close to 15 years old. It would probably be close to the end of the water heater itself, but I've already had the element and thermostat replaced on it. So long as the tank itself doesn't spring a leak, I should be good for awhile.

The problem I'm having is that I cannot seem to get the old valve off. It's a simple screw-on part, but 15 years is a long time to be stuck in something without ever being unscrewed. Anyone out there have any suggestions?

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Blogtipping Day

The first of every month is Blogtipping Day. Here are my three victims:

Easton Ellsworth
1 - I love the Blogtipping idea!
2 - Your blog is genuinely enjoyable to read.
3 - You and Liz Strauss are really the same person, aren't you? I've never seen the two of you in the same room together.
Tip - I'm not a huge fan of your color scheme. The blue header and footer seem a bit bold in contrast with the rest of the colors you've selected. That's more of a personal preference thing, and I'm sure as many people will disagree with me as agree.

Liz Strauss
1 - Creating the Link Leak Virus.
2 - The SOB thing is a great idea. Thanks for honoring me with it.
3 - You and Easton Ellsworth are really the same person, aren't you? I've never seen the two of you in the same room together.
Tip - I just realized that you have no advertisements above the fold on your blog. That's not necessarily a bad thing though.

Jason Scott
1 - I really admire your work.
2 - I like your blog's design. I'm a huge fan of black backgrounds, so I'm a bit biased there, but it's a nice, simple, layout.
3 - In the few times I corresponded with you, you've seemed like a genuinely nice guy.
Tip - Even though I haven't seen you in the same room with either of them, I don't think you're the same person as Easton Ellsworth or Liz Strauss.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Blogtipping

Just a quick reminder that Thursday, June 1 (actually, the 1st of every month) is Blogtipping Day. My post is ready to go, it yours?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Guest blogging

Over on the Linux World Net blog network, we are in need of a writer for Linux Security. In the meantime, I've decided to provide a few guest entries. If you're interested, check out my first entry on establishing a baseline and let me know what you think.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Happy Towel Day!

Happy Towel Day, everyone! Due to continuing troubles with my firewall at home, I nearly forgot my towel today. I remembered it at the last minute, though! I did forget to wear my "42" shirt :(

Luckily, I have caught most of the crashes and rebooted fairly quickly. But I think I have a replacement ready to swap in. I apologize again for anyone who has had problems with the site. The troubles are nearly over :)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Save Nazanin

From the website Save Nazanin:
Save Nazanin According to the Iranian daily Etemaad, then 17-year-old Nazanin and her niece had been spending some time in a park west of Tehran with their boyfriends, when three men started harassing them.

The girls` boyfriends fled from the scene, leaving them helpless behind. The men pushed Nazanin and her niece down on the ground and tried to rape them, and to protect herself, she took out a knife from her pocket and stabbed one of the men in the hand.

The girls tried to escape, but the men overtook them, and at this point, Nazanin stabbed one of the other men in the chest, which eventually killed him. According to the newspaper, she broke down in tears when she told the court: "I wanted to defend myself and my niece. I did not want to kill that boy. At the heat of the moment I did not know what to do because no one came to our help." Nevertheless, the court sentenced her to death by hanging.

And a little further down:
Another point worth noticing, is that if Nazanin had let the men rape her, she could in the worst case have been arrested for extra-martial sex, which carries a maximum penalty of 100 lashes.

I understand that the culture is one that values men's lives more than it does women's. I have a separate issue with that. But this is clearly more than a culture difference. This is not only a miscarriage of justice, but a human-rights violation.

There is not much time before her execution is carried out. Please go to the page to see how you can help.

[Update - 06/01/2006] There are unconfirmed reports that Nazanin's execution may have been overturned. I'll update this entry as I find out more.

Found via SuicideGirls.com

Towel Day is the 25th!

That's right! Tomorrow is Towel Day 2006! And this year, I will *not* forget my towel!

My previous employer was big on sponsoring a lot of local teams and events. One of the teams that the company sponsored was a softball teams. When they had their shirts made up, they ran a few extra, which my boss gave some of us senior staffers.

What's that got to do with Towel Day? Everything! It has, in great big letters across the back, the number 42! So I will be wearing that shirt on Thursday and carrying my towel! :)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Firewall

Apparently, the firewall machine is suffering some hardware issue which causes it to lock. I will swap it out this evening, but in the meantime I apologize for the intermittent problems with the site.

Monday, May 22, 2006

We're back

The website is (obviously) back up after a brief outage. Sorry 'bout that. The firewall decided to take a brief vacation this morning.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Usage Statistics

Over at Successful Blog, Liz mentions "One truth about blogging is that you can never know for sure where a post might take you." I thought I'd comment here, because I recently discovered how true that is.

It all started not only with my May 10 entry on Links, but with the discovery of Successful Blog. When I discovered it, I did what I always do when I find something interesting; I added it to Bloglines. This, in turn, caused it to show up in my blogroll (which displays the 20 most recently updated blogs that I read through Bloglines via a PHP script I hacked together). Liz graciously acknowledged her addition to my blogroll and promptly heaped a ton of much-appreciated attention on that May 10 post.

In case you're wondering where I'm going with this ramble, I was starting to wonder too. But to get back on track, after the initial flury of hits to the site and everything has calmed back down (I was up to 10 times normal trafic for awhile!), it appears that my readership has doubled! Looks like I had excellent timing for the site redesign :)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Eternal Value of Privacy

Bruce Schneier has a great article over on Wired titled The Eternal Value of Privacy. It's an excellent read for all of you who strugle to articulate their answer to "If you aren't doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide?"

Thanks, Bruce, for putting it into words that I couldn't :)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Survivor

OK, I'll admit it. I'm addicted to reality TV, especially Survivor. This season's finale was a letdown - I was realy hoping Terry would win. But he didn't, and was gracious enough to vote for his biggest rival.

But, you might be saying, this isn't a TV blog. And you'd be right. The reason I bring this up is because I am seriously considering sending in a tape and seeing what happens. My wife planted the idea in my head, and then began encouraging me to go for it. And not for the money (who couldn't use a million? Minus taxes, of course.) but because she believes in me, and that I could do well at it. Having someone show that much confidence in you really inspires confidence in yourself :) So, when I get home tonight, it's time to make a three minute video and fill out some paperwork :)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Save The Internet

Save the Internet is a nationwide coalition of Internet users united together in the belief that the Net's phenomenal growth over the past decade stems from the ability of entrepreneurs to expand consumer choices and opportunities without worrying about bribing AT&T to carry their traffic. We believe consumers across America see the results of this "hands off" approach - through such benefits as expanded distance education opportunities, improved access and speed to almost any information, on-line commerce, and an easier and inexpensive way to communicate with family and colleagues.

"Hands Off the Internet" is a coalition of telecom companies who somehow don't get that Yahoo, Google, etc., have already paid for their bandwidth and shouldn't have to pay for it again. They think that content providers should have to pay more than content consumers and don't realize that the value of the service that they provide is in connecting the two ends, not one end to the middle. They think that Google and Yahoo are getting a free ride, even though they already pay substantial bandwidth fees. They're greedy bastards, and if it takes legislation to stop them, so be it.

5 things you can do today to preserve internet freedom

The following list is available elsewhere, but it's worth sharing again:

  1. SIGN a petition to Congress

  2. CALL your member of Congress now

  3. WRITE your member of Congress

  4. BLOG or put the "Save the Internet" logo on your Web site

  5. MYSPACE add "Save the Internet" as a friend

Thursday, May 11, 2006

From the archives: Spam from Jesus

I may have mentioned this before, but I am somewhat of a digital pack-rat. This holds true for old data just as much as it does for old equipment. So when I was going through a bunch of files on the web server in preparation for a server project over on Minimum Linux, I was pleasantly suprised to discover that I still have all my old blog posts from when I started with Blogger, through my transition to Wordpress, and back to Blogger again. So I thought I'd repost some of the gems, such as the following (from November 1, 2004):
Take a look at this spam that I received today. Apparently, Jesus thinks that I need Norton Internet Security 2004. It also appears that Jesus prefers Yahoo! mail over Hotmail. Maybe someone should send Jesus a Gmail invite? But, being the Son of God, shouldn't he already have one?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Links

Over at ProBlogger.net, Darren Rowse has a post titled Link Lust which asks "Which 3 Blogs or Websites would you most love a link from?" [Update 05/11/2006]Credit should be given to the Link Leak Virus and to BlogTipping for the wonderful idea!

My answer, which you can also read in his comments, are as follows:
My top three picks aren’t so much for the traffic they’d generate, but because I really admire the people who run them:

ASCII by Jason Scott - Jason directed The BBS Documentary and runs Textfiles.com and a ton of other related sites. If I could relive one period of history, it would be the BBS era. Jason’s sites (and excellent documentary) help me do that.

A Day in the Life of an Information Security Investigator - This is a field that I am extremely interested in, and Security Monkey does an *excellent* job of entertaining as well as educating.

Wil Wheaton dot Net - Wil seems like such an average Joe for an actor who “used to be famous.”

So what would your three be?

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Vetoed: HB 1259

Just a quick note to let everyone know that Georgia's HD 1259 has been vetoed.

FireHatch.com

I've been posting so much on politics here lately, that I'm considering creating a seperate blog for those posts! Actually, I've got a WordPress.com blog that isn't really being used, plus my personal space over at Green Apple, so I'd probably use one of those before launching something new.

At any rate, here's another political post.

FireHatch.com is a site dedicated to the goal of unseating incument Orrin Hatch in November elections. From the site:
Hatch is as bad as it gets when it comes to shafting the public on copyright and technology policy. This is the guy who wants Hollywood's hackers to blow up computers that are used for unauthorized downloading. He championed a policy that authorizes jail time for sharing a single song on the Internet. Hatch also wrote 2004's ill-fated INDUCE Act. All of this support for Hollywood cartels might seem strange coming from a Utah Senator, but then you notice that entertainment companies have given Hatch hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Found via Boing Boing.

Monday, May 8, 2006

My new blog

OK. The time has come for me to announce the launch of my new blog, Minimum Linux - The Power of Skinny. The blog is part of the just-launched Linux World Net blog network. I'm very excited about the new blog and hope everyone else is too!

"Minimum Linux" is a play on the magazine title "Maximum Linux," while the term "The Power of Skinny" refers to the power of Linux on older machines with limited resources. Unfortunately, I can't take credit for that subtitle. The person who runs the network, Jon, threw it out while we were working on the details of the blog, and we both decided to run with it.

The new blog brings me into the ranks as a pro blogger. Here's hoping that today's launch is a huge success! ;)

You may also notice the redesign here as well. I got bored with "Minima Black" and found a theme out there called "Folio" that I liked just a little better. Any thoughts?

Friday, May 5, 2006

RIAA Petition

From the EFF:
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is on a rampage, launching legal attacks against average Americans from coast to coast. After over 18,000 lawsuits and counting against P2P users, file sharing has continued to increase rapidly. Meanwhile, music fans, like 12 year-old Brittany LaHara, college student Cassi Hunt, and parent of five Cecilia Gonzalez, are being forced to pay thousands of dollars they do not have to settle RIAA-member lawsuits, and many other innocent individuals are being caught in the crossfire.

This irrational crusade is not generating a single penny for the artists that the RIAA claims to protect. The RIAA should be working to create a rational, legal means by which its customers can take advantage of file sharing technology and pay a fair price for the music they love. With artists increasingly turning against the lawsuits, momentum may be shifting in favor of a better way forward.

Copyright law shouldn't make criminals out of more than 60 million Americans — tell Congress that it's time to stop the madness!

I just signed. Isn't it time that you signed, too?

Thursday, May 4, 2006

New blog

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I will be starting a new blog very soon. I will post more details once the blog is launched :)

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Save the Internet : Commerce Committee Map

If you are unsure of where your representative stands, Save the Internet.com has a wonderful map that can help you find out.
I urge everyone to sign petitions. Call your Senators and Representatives. Write them letters. Send them email. Blog about it. Send a letter to the editor at your local paper. Do anything and everything to make your voice heard!

Update: This map doesn't show where everyone stands. I decided to contact Congressman Hobson (7th District, Ohio) to find out where he stands. My message was simple: "I wish to find out where you stand on the Markey amendment to the COPE Act and to urge you to please keep the Internet free and open by voting for enforceable network neutrality requirements in the future. Thank you."

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Wired News: Feds Go All Out to Kill Spy Suit

According to Wired:
In this case, the government will be asking a federal judge in California to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against AT&T for its alleged complicity in warrantless government surveillance of its customer's internet and telephone communications. The EFF alleges that AT&T gave the government access to a massive phone billing database and helped the NSA spy on its customers' internet use.

The state was breaking the law. As such, they have no secrets to protect, other than the fact that it broke the law. Now, I'm no conspiricy nut, but nothing says "cover-up" any better than that.

Monday, May 1, 2006

ITtoolbox

Anyone know what's up with ITtoobox? The front page works, but I can't get to any individual entries to one of my favorite blogs, A Day in the Life of an Information Security Investigator. Hope it comes back up soon, because Security Monkey recently updated his latest case file.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Stop HB 1259 NOW!

OK. Everyone stop what you're doing and head over to Security Monkey's blog. If you're in Georgia, specifically, you need to help Stop HB 1259 NOW!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

MeWig

yclept's 'tweak':
I've played Strong Bad podcast .m4vs on TCMCP and they run horrendously choppy. Like several seconds' worth of delay. Unwatchable. Anyone else share the same experience?

So I found this freeware program called MeWiG (MEncoder GUI) that converts QT files (and others) into .avis. Definitely fewer problems now. Give it whirl.

Thanks. I just might. I've had a few issues with video using TCMCP as well. So far, my 'solution' has been to lower the framerates when converting the videos, but this may be a better idea :)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Save The Internet

When you have a moment, please sign the petition to save network neutrality:
Congress is now pushing a law that would end the free and open Internet as we know it. Internet providers like AT&T and Verizon are lobbying Congress hard to gut Network Neutrality, the Internet's First Amendment. Net Neutrality prevents AT&T from choosing which websites open most easily for you based on which site pays AT&T more. So Amazon doesn't have to outbid Barnes & Noble for the right to work more properly on your computer.

(found via performancing.com)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Network outage

Yesterday, my cable went out. Because I host the blog at home, this made the website unavailable during the outage. Well, things are back up and running now, and should be working fine. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. It couldn't have happened at a worse time because the traffic is finally starting to pick up. Hopefully no one got scared off :)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Friday, April 21, 2006

Warm fuzzies

Over at Ars Technica:
It appears that the Bush administration has taken a step to mollify critics who claim that its policies toward law enforcement and intelligence gathering are likely to result in a trampling of privacy and civil liberties. Alex Joel, an attorney who has worked for the CIA, Marriott, and the Army Judge Advocate General's Corps, has been hired to take the post of "civil-liberties protection officer for the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence."

Why doesn't this make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Worst. President. Ever.

I've been ranting about GW so much lately that I think maybe I should start a political blog ("Observations from a Raving Lunatic" has a certain ring to it). Or not. But it is nice to know that there are some out there who agree with my views. From Rolling Stone:
George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace. Barring a cataclysmic event on the order of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, after which the public might rally around the White House once again, there seems to be little the administration can do to avoid being ranked on the lowest tier of U.S. presidents. And that may be the best-case scenario. Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.

Head on over there to read the complete article.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Viva la revolution!

The time for revolution is now!

I suppose I should explain. I do not advocate violence. I advocate that we change our way of thinking.

For so long, we have lived in fear of another 9/11. We have been taught to by the politicians who are currently in power. It is in their best interest to scare us into giving up our rights so that they can stay in power.

I say that the best way to stop this is at the ballot box. We have been brainwashed into believing that voting for an alternate party is throwing away our vote. While it is true that our system favors two parties, it is not a wasted vote. If enough people vote for alternate parties, we will send the message that we are fed up with the way things are, and we aren't going to take it anymore.

While my party of choice, when they have the right candidate, is the Libertarian Party, I urge everyone to vote for the candidate, not the party. If you happen to agree with one of the major candidates, then by all means vote for them. Otherwise, find someone you do agree with and vote for them.

Say "No more!" to the lesser of two evils. Viva la revolution!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Mr Prez, music pirate...

Awhile back, I posted a bit about our president, the war criminal. Now, it appears that he is also a music pirate because his I-Pod contains Beatles music, and Apple (the music label) and Apple (iTunes) are still working on making the music available. Currently, it is not available (legally) online, therefore, G.W. Bush is a music pirate. I wonder if the RIAA will sue, or just look the other way? Being the hypocrites that they are, I'm guessing that, while they have no problems going after single mothers, 12 year olds, college students, and others who can't afford to fight, they won't go after anyone who can (or who holds a position of political authority, even if he is an asshat).

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Old school blogger...

I went looking for an old site at the Wayback Machine, but didn't find what I was looking for. Sometimes you find something even more surprising:

wintermute -- Thursday, May 31 2001, 08:28 am:
Hi! Welcome to my page! Right at the moment, I have a fairly simple weblog set as the main page. The weblog is basically just a journal that is published to a web page. I've also been tinkering with PHP and wanted to see if I could get something like this working. Be sure to check out the guestbook if you'd like to post something yourself.

Hehe. Guess I'm a bit more old-school than I thought.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

BBSmates - dialing up the past

I'm sure I've written about this site in the past, but I know that at least a couple of people from the local BBS scene drop in here from time to time, so I thought I'd mention it again. BBSmates.com is a website similar to ClassMates.com (which is having temporary server issues as I write this) but for the BBS scene instead. According to their stats page, there are over 11,000 registered members and 78,000 BBSes. Everyone who BBSed in the 740 (or 614, before the split) area code that's reading this, get over there and get registered! We need better representation, because the scene here was huge for awhile.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Phone Call

It's been a long time since I've written any fiction, and even longer since I've put any of it online. At any rate, here goes some short fiction...

 

I hung up the phone with disgust. The call had not gone well, and I wasn't in a good mood to begin with. I was pissed off that they'd screwed up again. I was pissed off that I had to make the call because of the screw up. Mostly, now that the call was done, I was pissed off at cell phones.

There was something satisfying about slamming an old-fashioned receiver down into its cradle at the end of an argument, just as your adversary was about to hang up. It had always made me feel better. Now that Ma Bell had eaten her children and suddenly died of indigestion, that was no longer an option.

Cell phones. Everyone had to use these cheap-ass cell phones. I was really starting to loath them. What were you going to do? Dramatically slam the "Off" button?

After a quick trip through a local store, I flipped open my phone and calmly pressed redial. As soon as Alan answered, I let off the air horn I had just purchased and then calmly pressed the "Off" button.
Now that I was satisfied that there would be no mistaking my feelings on the matter, I smiled inwardly. It wasn't quite the same satisfaction, but it still felt good.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Bloglines

Just a quick note to mention that Bloglines appears to be having some serious issues right now. I didn't realize how much I use it to keep on top of things until I took a quick break from coding and realize it wasn't working.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

BBS Software

I've been moving a little closer to getting the BBS up and running. I've got a spare computer to install everything on, and I've downloaded a bunch of stuff to check out. I've gotta decide on software, though. I'm leaning mostly towards WWiV, but I haven't totally ruled out VBBS. I know I'm not going to set it up for general access, but I also discovered that DLX is now freeware.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Towel Day 2006

You sass that hoopy Douglas Adams? Now there's a frood who knew where his towel was. You are invited to join your fellow hitchhikers in mourning the loss of the late great one. Join in on Towel Day to show your appreciation for the humor and insight that Douglas Adams brought to all our lives.

That's right, it's time to start thinking about Towel Day again! Mark your calenders, grab your towels, and help us celebrate the life (and mourn the loss) of Douglas Adams on May 25th!

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

And now for something completely different...

Sometimes you come across a website that's just too good not to share. Such is the case with The Dialectizer. The description on the site is The Dialectizer takes text or other web pages and instantly creates parodies of them! Some of them can be pretty funny.

Monday, April 3, 2006

Ask a glass of water...

"It's unpleasantly like being drunk."
"What's so unpleasant about being drunk?"
"Go ask a glass of water."

This is one of my favorite exchanges from the entire Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, and until recently I didn't really appreciate it. For the past couple of weeks, I have been suffering from dizzy spells. The kind like you get when you're really drunk and go to lie down, and the room starts spinning. Only I haven't been drunk in an extremely long time, which made the entire experience extremely unpleasant. Sorta like a glass of water must feel when being drunk.

At any rate, I think I have finally figured out what is causing the dizziness. I have been getting way too little sleep because of the course load in school along with my work schedule, so I think I have been suffering from exhaustion. I came to realize this when I got a couple of good nights of sleep (without sleeping too much) and the dizziness when away. Once the sleep patterns got screwed up again, the dizziness came back. So, in the fall, I don't think I am going to return to school. An associates degree isn't going to really help me much because I've got the experience, and a bachelors is not available without transferring to a different school. Instead, I am going to study for the CCSP, and possibly grab the Network+ and Security+ certificates while on my way to the CISSP. InfoSec is where it's at these days, and I've always been interested. I'd just about give up management for an entry-level position if the pay was right.

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Hello Netherlands!

I just checked my March logs, and the number one non-US tld appears to be for the Netherlands, followed not-so closely with India. Norway and Taiwan tie for third. The US Government is again represented, as is the US military. However, my Arpanet visitor did not return this month.

Overall, nothing too strange in the logs. Just a minor drop in traffic from February, but traffic ebbs and flows.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Day 3

Third day of classes was boring! It was the same classes that I had on Monday, but I submitted my homework electronically for Programming & Design II so that I could skip the open lab. However, Network Concepts II just about put me to sleep. I don't know why Dr. Zhang puts me to sleep every time he teaches. He has a very good grasp of English, and one of my best friends is Chinese (OK. Indonesian. But of Chinese heritage) so the accent isn't even something I notice. I don't even think it's his teaching style. I think that, because it's still a fairly intro-level course, I am just plain bored with it. I've already covered the material through the Cisco Academy program. Plus I've been doing networking from the time two of my friends brought and I crammed all of our PCs into my tiny bedroom and hooked 'em up to play a little Doom when it first came out. I've actually been doing networking in one form or other even longer than that, but you get the idea. It's old hat to me. When we get into the hands-on stuff, it might not be quite as bad. It's still mostly stuff I've been doing for years, but it looks like we'll be doing a couple of group projects, so I'll at least get to interact with my classmates.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Day 2

Yesterday was the second day of class. The only class I had was on Visual Basic. The class actually looks like it might be useful in getting a grip on some OO concepts that I've struggled a bit with when trying to learn them on my own. We're going to go behind the visual environment and actually code, which is as it should be. However, I'm not so sure it should be in BASIC ;)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

First Day

Yesterday was the first day of Spring Quarter 2006, and it doesn't look like it's going to be quite as bad as I thought it was going to be. All of my classes are smaller than they were last quarter, with only a handful of people in each. Two of my classes are the second part of classes from last quarter, and are required for the CTCH degree. Makes me wonder - did a ton of people do that poorly in those classes? I could see it, because it was mostly theory. This quarter is mostly application.

At any rate, my first class is Network Concepts II, which looks like it's going to be a very abbreviated version of the Cisco CCNA classes, but without IOS. The text is "Network+ Guide to Networks," if that tells you anything. There's no homework in the class other than reading (I'm not even wasting money on the text) and a class project. I must have impressed someone last quarter by winging my class presentation, because I've already got a partner for the project even though it won't be assigned for a couple of weeks. It also looks like we're going to have a field trip to my server room. Should be interesting.

My second class is Programming & Design II, which basically covers ANSI C. We spent last quarter learning the language. This quarter looks a lot more fun. After all, I knew the language already. Plus, a different instructor took this portion of the class. Dr. Zhang is a pretty brilliant guy, but there's something lacking in his teaching style. He does better teaching the networking classes than the programming ones.

Finally, tonight I have a class called Visual Programming. Yup. Visual Basic. IMHO, anything with "Visual" in the title isn't a real programming language. Same goes for anything with "Basic" in the title. Visual Basic is the double-whammy. If it weren't for the instructor being the same as the ANSI C class - and the fact that it's a required course for CTCH - I would probably drop it.

Both of my programming classes are 5:10 - 7:45. One is Monday & Wednesday, while the other is Tuesday & Thursday. The good thing is, in the C class at least, that we don't have to attend lab sessions if we understand the material and do our homework at home. The instructor is either going to do half sessions with the second half being lab, or make Wednesdays lab nights. I hope the latter, because that puts me in class one less night a week. I hope she does the Visual class the same way. Guess I'll find out tonight.

Friday, March 24, 2006

On Writing

I absolutely love to write. My biggest problem - the one that's kept me from starting on that novel that's been floating around my head for over 15 years now - is that I sometimes lack confidence in my writing ability. In order to overcome this issue, I continuously collect tips on writing from various sources. Some of these tips come from books on writing. Others come from different websites that I have come across over the years. In this series of posts, I plan to pass on some of the tips I have learned while trying to make myself a better writer. Hopefully this series of posts helps me as much as it helps you.

The first tip that I would like to share, probably the most important, comes from a post over at lifehack.org: Just do it. Yes, it does seem to be a bit cheesy, but it is the most important tip I've seen. If you are going to write, you have to begin somewhere. The best place that I've found to begin is to just start writing. If you don't like how it turns out, you can always edit it when you're finished. Or you can scrap it and start completely over (which is rare for me).

Now that you're (hopefully) writing, I'll follow up in a future post with other tips that I've discovered along the way. I'm by no means an expert on the subject, but I hope these tips help.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

4.0

After a long quarter at school of not really trying, I finally got my grades. 4.0 for the term, 3.970 accumulative. That's what happens when they're intro courses (but required) on a subject that you've been making a living at for over a decade. That little piece of paper will look really good on the resume, though.

Unfortunately, spring break has been way too short. Classes start back up on Monday, and while the course load is roughly the same, none of the classes are online. This means I've gotta spend two additional evenings a week in class. All the classes are again computer-related, so it will not interfere with anything else in my life.

What I really can't wait for is summer, because I'll only have work and home to deal with, not school. This will leave me time to hopefully take care of a few of the projects that I've got on the back burner (some for awhile now). I also have to get ready to renew my CCNA, which expires in September.

All that said, I plan to continue blogging as regularly as I can. I absolutely love writing, and I have too many good ideas to let fall by the wayside. Look for all of my plans to come to fruition over the summer :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

War Pigs

Yesterday, I posted a rant about the oppressive regime that has power in the US. Many may have labeled me as a raving conspiracy nut as a result, but such is life. That post was prompted, in part by a bill which could restrict freedom of the press.

As an aside, look at the original lyrics to War Pigs, and you'll see why I chose that as the title of my post.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

War Pigs

I feel oppressed. I feel like we are living in pre-WWII Germany, where a fascist regime has taken power. Yes, I just called George W Bush a fascist. I'll go one better and call him a war criminal, too.

Everyone remembers Abu Ghraib, right? How about the lack of due process afforded to those at Guantanamo Bay? As President, Bush is also Command-in-Chief. As such, he is responsible for these war crimes.

Now let's looks at my other charge: fascism. We'll start with a dictionary definition of the word. From dictionary.com:
A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism. (emphasis mine)

Anyone who says that the current administration hasn't used fear of another terrorist attack to push their own agenda is living in an alternate reality. What else is the "War on Terror" for? We're certainly no safer for it.

Benjamin Franklin said it best when he said "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." I guess we, as a society, deserve neither. And because we have given up so much already, the terrorists have won.

Monday, March 20, 2006

It's not that kind of blog...

My wife recently asked me why I don't have any entries about her on the blog. I replied that it's not that kind of blog. What I meant by that wasn't just that I intended this to be a technology blog - which it's been slowly evolving away from - but that I like to keep some aspects of my life private.

But then I thought, why the hell isn't it that kind of blog? It's supposed to be "A day in the life of a computer geek." My day always includes my wife. Always. By not including her here, I am not being true to the goal of this blog. Not only that, but I'm also setting up artificial limitations to my creativity. That's not something I intend to let happen, because I am feeling more creative than I have in awhile.

Look for more entries about me, my life (including my wife), technology, and random ramblings. I'm still working on launching several topic-specific blogs that I will restrict to just the topics they cover, but this little corner of cyberspace was set up for me. The fact that others might read it (and hopefully enjoy it) is just a side-effect of blogging.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Feedback (Please)

I find it a little strange. I mean, I know that by writing a blog, people are going to read it. After all, that's kinda the point. But recently, I've had people I know telling me that they read my blog, and I don't know how to react. I suppose I should start by asking for a little constructive criticism.

The comments I've gotten so far have been positive. My wife, of course, enjoys my writing. My sister says that it gives her insight into her little brother. A classmate from my programming class finds it "interesting."

Now that you know what these three think, what's your opinion? Am I good enough to start additional, topic-specific, blog(s)? Or should I stop while I'm ahead? Please leave your feedback and let me know!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Starting Multiple Blogs

Talk about timely! A day after I do a bit of name-dropping, Darren Rowse has an article up on Problogger about starting multiple blogs. Yesterday, I posed some of the very question that Darren covers in his most recent entry in his blogging for beginners series.

The question remains: subdomain or separate domain (or hosted solution)? My thinking is maybe a subdomain of nitemarecafe.com. Why? Because Nitemare Cafe was my BBS, which had many "subs" (or sub-boards) covering different topics. How fitting is it that nitemarecafe.com should develop many "subs" (in this case, sub-domains) covering many topics?

Many of Darren's points against using subdomains are related to SEO, AdSense, and selling the domains later. First, I could care less about SEO or AdSense revenue (yes, I use AdSense advertising on the site; but it's more of an experiment than a revenue stream). Second, Nitemare Cafe is such an inherent part of me that I do not think I could ever part with any piece of it. And should I ever spin a blog off and sell it to someone else, it is trivial to point a subdomain to a different machine on a different network.

The moral of the story? Look for clie.nitemarecafe.com to open soon. When it does, I will post a message here. It will also be all new content - I may link back to some of my original posts, but I don't want to duplicate content across multiple blogs.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Finding the niche

Ask any "expert" on blogging, especially professionally, and they will always tell you the same thing: find your niche. Darren Rowes has said it many times over at Problogger, and I've seen it repeated many times in many other places. This is something I have struggled to find, as my interests are pretty varied, even if most of them are pretty geeky.

When I first got my Clie, I thought about turning completely to mobile blogging. While I may create a post or two from the Clie itself (or even all posts. Where I post from is irrelevent), I think I have found my niche: the Clie itself.

Sure, while there are several blogs on mobile computing in general, or even Palm/Palm OS more specifically, I do not think I've seen one covering only the Clie. There may be some out there that I haven't stumbled upon yet, and they may be touched on in more general blogs, but after the trouble I've had with audio and multimedia, the idea hit. I'm sure I've got several posts in me about the Palm programs that I find useful on the Clie, so I am going to move more towards Clie-related content.

I'm not sure how exclusive I should be to that subject though. Should I create a new blog for the Clie only? Should I just stop posting non-Clie stuff altogether? Should I build a network of blogs, one of which (this one) is general content, while the others help fill a niche?

If I go the network of blogs route, most individual blogs will probably start their lives here until they are generating enough content on their own to warrant their own blog. For example, I have been meaning to set my BBS back up, at least telnetable (and possibly dialup via VoIP). I'm sure this will inspire a ton of BBS-related content on the blog, which may grow enough to warrant a blog of it's own.

So, what does everyone else think? Going the network route definitely provides the greatest earnings potential, as there are several niches that I can fill via separate blogs. But my posting output will have to increase in both quality and quantity in order to fulfill that potential. As much as I enjoy writing, that's not a bad thing :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Core Pocket Media Player

Yesterday, I posted about my trouble with the Clie audio, but failed to mention the program that I'm using for multimedia playback. I'm a big fan of open source, and have discovered The Core Pocket Media Player. TCPMP is an open-source media player for Palm OS and Windows CE/Windows Mobile devices. It works well on the Clie once you've installed MCA2 to fix the lack of audio playback. I may check out one of the non-free programs, such as MMPlayer to see how it compares, because I'm not 100% satisfied with my frame rates. At 29.97 frames per second, it drops about a third of the frames and causes the audio to skip a little. Since I have to convert video down to fit on the smaller screen anyway (if I don't convert, the video still plays. It just takes up a lot more space on the memory stick) I may play around with the frame rates a little bit to see if I can smooth things out a little bit. Ideally, I'd like to get at least 24fps. I'd imagine anything over 15fps will be watchable, though. Anyone out there have any suggestions? Is adjusting frame-rates the way to go? Or is one of the non-free solutions going to make a huge difference?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Clie Audio

I've been playing around with my Clie a bit, and got a little frustrated because many of my MP3s and none of my videos had any audio on playback. A little bit of searching later, and I've discovered that the NZ (and prior) models had not-so-standard audio components, but audio is standardized in Palm OS 5.2. A little more digging turned up a great little gem called MCA2, or "Modern Clie Audio." This gives the Palm OS 5.0 models most of the functionality of the later Palm OS 5.2 models. A note on the website says that it is only for the NX, NZ, and TG models, so if you have something even older, you're out of luck unless your searching turns up something mine did not. If you have a solution that works better, leave a comment and let me know.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Balancing act

I have been doing a major balancing act between blogging, work, school, and home life, and I have a ton of stuff clipped to my Bloglines clip blog that I've been meaning to add commentary to and post here. But I've always had a poor sense of balance and I haven't gotten to it yet. But many things are coming to a close for me: classes are over for the quarter except for exams. My online application successfully launched on Friday of last week - all that is left is a little bit of tweaking here and there and then working on feature requests (development is never really done). So with all of these things winding down, I should find myself with enough time to dedicate a little bit of it to blogging again. I feel like it's time to start getting serious about blogging. Maybe I should try the 10-minute experiment that Wil Wheaton tried awhile back and see what happens.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

More from the Clie

I have been entirely too busy between work and school to worry about the blog much lately. I've also been trying to find some decent blogging software for PalmOS5. In the future, I hope to do the majority of my blogging from my Sony Clie.

At work I have been busy with a fairly large programing project, the biggest project I've worked on. Granted, the project is in PHP, so it was easy for the number of files to quickly grow out of control. But the project went into production on Friday without any problems, so I'm pretty happy.

At school, the quarter is winding down. This means a bunch of larger assignments are coming due. It also means getting ready for finals! Ugh! But after they are done, Sring Break! Until then, don't expect much blogging from me.

(This entry was completely entered from my Clie using Graffiti mode for input.)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Something strange in the logs...

I use Webalizer to kinda keep an eye on my logs, and while it's neat to see the non-US sources in the logs, it just re-enforces the fact that the Internet is truly global. However, every once in awhile, something in the logs still surprises me. For instance, when I got my first hits from .gov and .mil sources. Imagine when I checked the report and saw "Old style Arpanet (arpa)." That's gotta be the most unusual event for my blog yet.

Friday, February 24, 2006

USPS

I ordered an item from someone's Amazon store, and they promptly shipped it via US Mail, providing me with a tracking number. It took two days to get halfway across the country into Ohio, and has been hung up for a week within the same state. So, I did what anyone would do, and used the email form on the USPS website to inquire why the package was shown as leaving Cincinnati last Friday evening, but hasn't been scanned anywhere since. Their response? They updated the status of the package. It now shows as having left Cincinnati last Friday, and a second time yesterday. What did they do, put it on a truck to the wrong location, which simply sent it back without scanning it? So I wrote again, this time specifically asking for a reply (because they did not reply to my first email other than the strange status update on their website) to explain how it has left the same place twice, and where in the world it is and when I can expect to receive it. I'd go to my local post office and inquire instead of using email, but it is staffed by a bunch of asses. Complaining to them would probably result in "accidental" damage to the package.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Go Go Gadget, Flashdrive.

I'm starting to feel a bit like Inspector Gadget. My wife recently picked up a flash wristband for me. It's gotta be one of the best flash drive ideas ever. I was constantly either forgetting or fidgeting with my swivel flash drive (which is also a great drive) when it was on its lanyard. I'm not sure which was worse: forgetting it defeated the purpose of having one, and fidgeting placed undue wear on it. This wrist one solves both problems. At 256MB, it's not huge. But it is extremely convenient, and big enough for a few portable apps along with some important data that I'd rather not be without, should I need it. It also solves the problem of where to keep my PGP keyrings because I use so many different computers throughout any given day. The only problem I can find with the drive is that I now try to answer my shoe whenever I hear a phone ring ;)