“​‘I dwell in darkness without you,’ and it went away?!?”

— Sorsha, uttering what may be the only decent line in Willow

Epicenter imagery


Quote from someone who ran a business in the Paso Robles building that collapsed during the recent quake:

“My roof basically jumped onto the street and landed on cars with people in them.”

You’ve been in California too long when…


…your reaction to an earthquake is disappointment that the USGS Shake Map hasn’t been updated yet so you can submit a report on how it felt.

Biggest quake in the last four years, just in time for my sister’s birthday!

By golly, Linux still sucks!


Just tried to install nVidia’s Linux drivers for the onboard ethernet on my new Shuttle box. After transporting them on the only available media (USB keychain drive, which I had to mount by hand as root from the command line; love that user-friendly Gnome desktop!), I was greeted with a long string of syntax errors in the make output. Of course, I’d already had to abandon the build instructions provided by nVidia, because the version of rpm in Fedora doesn’t support the command-line options they used. It also apparently doesn’t support the C compiler they used.

So, to play with Linux on my shiny new PC, I once again have to play Goldilocks with multiple distributions, until I find the one that’s just right. Fuck that; it’s not worth the headache.

Update: Okay, I gave it another try. Seems I actually could get the network driver to install with Fedora, if I ignored the default OS install options and added the kernel sources. It seems they don’t expect ordinary users to own hardware they don’t provide drivers for. Still, after going through three or four “modern” Linux installers, my new slogan is “Desktop Linux: it’s like Windows without the QA”.

Dear Linux Community,


If you’re going to make Linux into Windows, could you please try to match the behavior, not just the window decorations?

Love, J

[translation: I just installed RedHat Fedora, and was astonished to discover that after it popped up a little dialog asking for disc #2, it didn’t detect the presence of the correct disc and continue on its own. It sat there for twenty minutes, patiently waiting for me to click ‘Ok’ to confirm that I had, in fact, inserted disc #2.]

Building a decent PC


There are still a few games that aren’t available for the Mac or the Xbox, so I finally broke down and cobbled together a new Windows PC. Here are the parts I used:

  • Shuttle SN41G2 --- This is my second Shuttle barebones box (the other runs OpenBSD), and I love them. Everything has to be arranged just so during assembly, but the layout is clean inside and out, the fan is fairly quiet, and the motherboard is chock full of first-rate features. I see no reason to buy a larger case for a home or office PC.
  • AMD Athlon XP 2800+ --- The 3200+ was too pricy, and I was persuaded to go with AMD over Intel this time. I'm mostly agnostic on the processor wars.
  • Kingston HyperX DDR400 DIMMs (2x 256MB) --- They recommend filling both memory slots on this motherboard for best performance, and 512MB is enough for gaming. Today.
  • TDK indiDVD 440N --- reads, writes, and rewrites CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, and DVD+RW, at 4x for DVDs and 16x for CDs. The software bundle seems reasonable, too.
  • Hitachi Deskstar 200GB hard drive --- (don't expect that URL to work for long; ick) This looked like a decent drive, especially with the very aggressive rebate currently being offered. ATA100, but I'm building a gaming box, not a video workstation (that's what Macs are for).
  • ATI Radeon 9600 XT --- I actually haven't installed this yet, because the builtin GeForce4 MX on the Shuttle is not only pretty good, it supports dual monitors. Hmmm, maybe I'll build another OpenBSD box soon...

Software is Windows XP Professional. I left an empty 4GB partition near the front of the disk in case I want to dual-boot, but like I said, it’s for games. The only real reason to install OpenBSD or Linux is to image the Windows partition for disaster recovery backups. I’ll probably start by using BitTorrent to grab the current Red Hat Fedora distribution.

Update: since a few folks have asked, I bought all this stuff at Fry’s for $1,194.83. The $100 in sales tax was offset by the $120 in mail-in rebates ($90 for the hard disk, $30 for the DVD burner).

John Rhys-Davies


I knew there was a reason I liked John Rhys-Davies. I mean, apart from the fact that he’s a damn good actor who livens up anything he chooses to appear in.

Quoting…

more...

Quick pantry meal


My recent bout with the flu has left the refrigerator a bit bare, and I haven’t restocked yet, so I needed to throw dinner together from what was left. This worked out nicely:

  • half a ham steak, cubed, from a Costco bulk pack
  • half an onion, chopped large
  • half a package of Simply Potatoes hash browns
  • a small can of diced green chiles
  • a fifteen-ounce can of diced tomatoes

I put three tablespoons of ghee in a 10” pan, put it over high heat, tossed in the ham steak, onion, hash browns, and chiles, seasoned liberally with my usual Lone Star Steak Rub, and cooked it all until the potatoes were nice and brown, stirring occasionally. Then I added the tomatoes and their juice, turned the heat down, put a lid on the pan, and let it all cook together for a while.

Pretty tasty, and quite filling. If I’d had some bacon, I’d have cut it up, fried it first, then used the grease to cook the rest (sprinkling the bacon bits on top at the end), but I was out. Next time.

No anti-gun bias here, nosirree!


Found this news story on Fark, with the coveted “dumbass” label. Intrigued, I read the whole thing. In order, the facts presented are:

  1. In a small Appalachian town,
  2. a dozen federal agents raided a local business,
  3. which had recently (2001) been declared "Business of the Year".
  4. They seized 170+ guns from the Army Surplus and Variety Store,
  5. and arrested the owner on charges of illegal gun sales in three states.
  6. They later raided his home, and seized another 30+ guns.
  7. They also charged someone else, who was already in custody for parole violations, as a conspirator.
  8. The other guy had prior arrests (but not, apparently, convictions) for allegedly operating a meth lab.
  9. Multiple "men on the street" are then quoted, carefully selected to give a mostly negative impression of the owner's character.
  10. Finally, it's mentioned that the store is a federally-licensed firearms dealer, and that the guns in question were prominently displayed, as one person puts it, "like a museum".

In other words, after carefully constructing the story to give the impression that more than 200 crime guns were seized from a dangerous lunatic with ties to illegal drug labs, the reporter ’fesses up that they were just grabbing his public inventory and personal collection. This is a legitimate action given the charges, but it’s not evidence of guilt.

Is he a criminal? I haven’t the slightest idea. That’s for the jury to decide, not some spin-happy hack journalist.

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”