“What really bothered me is, the whole idea is that at a liberal arts college, we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion.”

— Erin Ching, jackbooted thug

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.

And people think Bush is a petty dictator?


He’s not even on the charts compared to local school boards enforcing zero-tolerance policies. My favorite part? If they had actually found the cigarettes that were the goal of their search, she’d have merely been suspended, but since they found Advil, a drug with no known recreational use, she was expelled for a year.

I hope the parents decide to sue. School board elections are a farce, and these clowns obviously have no shame, so the only alternatives are lawsuits and bullets.

Dark Grey Screen Of Death


Now here’s something I hadn’t seen before:

OS X Bomb Box

Fortunately I save early and often, and in the worst case I have a full backup that’s only a few days old (minutes, now!), but this was the first honest-to-gosh kernel panic I’ve had since I bought an OSX-equipped Mac. Quite a surprise.

/Library/Logs/panic.log seems to blame it on the Airport drivers. I can cope with that, as long as it doesn’t happen again. Then I’d have two reasons to send my shiny new PowerBook in for service (the first being the famous “white spot” problem that’s finally starting to become visible on my screen).

Bush’s Thanksgiving


This comment on Electrolite strikes me as the core of pretty much every left-leaning blogger’s response to what might be called Operation “Bite Me, Liberals”:

"I basically think that if someone else had done it, it would have been a great thing to do."

In other words, if someone you despise does an admirable thing, it not only ceases to be an admirable thing, it makes the person even more despicable.

As much as I disagree with many of the actions this administration has taken, it keeps getting harder for me to take Bush’s political opposition seriously. Certainly none of them are giving me any coherent reasons to vote him out.

Update: The folks at Snopes say this letter is legit. I think the Democrats are going to have some trouble winning the military vote…

OS X 10.3 downer


So I’ve been using the OS X Stickies app for a while. Its primary limit has always been scaling; it doesn’t track the z-axis ordering of notes from launch to launch, it doesn’t let you search notes, it doesn’t supply multiple note sets or 3M-style “noteboards”, etc.

With Panther, they added the title line of each window to both the Windows menu and the contextual menu on the Dock. This isn’t a bad thing, as such, but it definitely doesn’t scale! It also doesn’t work quite right, since it often inserts gratuitous whitespace in this menu (which will change every time you view it).

What I never noticed during any of the betas, and only spotted today because a third-party app managed to rearrange my Stickies so that some of them were offscreen, is that they’ve removed the “arrange windows” option in Panther. If it weren’t for Exposé, I’d have never been able to select them all to get them back on screen.

[I suspect Burning Monkey MahJong as the culprit; it insists on switching video resolutions on startup. blech.]

Another misfeature in Panther Stickies, which I did spot right away, is the use of tooltips to show you the creation date and time of each note when you hover the mouse over it. This frequently interferes with actually reading the note, and there’s no way to turn it off.

So, two steps forward, one step back, one step down.

[and before I forget, yes, the data format is still binary garbage]