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November 25 thru December 01, 2002

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Welcome to Orb Graffiti, a place for me to write daily about life and computers. Contrary to popular belief, the two are not interchangeable. EMAIL - I publish email sometimes. If you send me an email and you want privacy or anonymity, please say so clearly at the beginning of your message..

MONDAY    Tues    Wed    Thu    Fri    Sat    Sun   
November 25, 2002 -    Updates at 0700 EST

Good morning. I solved my Slackware problem. Or, rather, I solved the hardware problem that was preventing me from installing Slackware on Garcia. That's a better characterization. I popped down the road finally, to Best Buy, and picked up a floppy drive. Garcia needed a floppy because I can't update the BIOS without one. Well, I could, if I were running Windows on that box, but I'm not. So a floppy it was. I could have swapped one back from one of the other machines, but for even occasional use, I'd really rather do something right, you know?

Once the drive was in, I pulled down the BIOS update file from Intel. I extracted twice, to get to the base image file, and used dd to get that onto a floppy. Alternatively, I could have popped the file over onto Marcia's box and run their little utility that uses rawrite to accomplish the same task. Then into Garcia with the update, three minutes later and the process was complete. I rebooted with the Slackware disc in the cupholder and voila, I started installing. It is nice when a plan comes together.

Wooo. A nice little Beowulf cluster just came online recently at Los Alamos National Laboratory. I caught that link from Slashdot. And in various places, I hear rumors that KDE 3.1 is going to be released today, or soon. I'll give you this. The most recent Release Candidate has been rock solid for me. I'm quite impressed. Once it's out, I'm going to put it on Gryphon, and try some speed tweaks to get it into reasonable shape to run in that "limited environment" of 192M of RAM on a 600MHz P3.

I tried to read The Demon In The Freezer, a biowarfare book by Richard Preston. It starts by examining the sequence of events surrounding the anthrax attacks last year, then heads straight into the potential for weaponized small pox. I have a couple of picks to nit that together made me stop reading the book. First, I don't care for his writing style. He's got this habit ... "there as a woman, I'll call her Barbara Madeuphername." Then he goes on to give private and intimate details of events surrounding this person as though he were there. OK, so you got all that, but missed her name? Sigh. Maybe it's just me, but it reads like one of the tabloids that were targetted last year. Then, of course, there's always the problem of what does he know and how does he "know" it. He's not inside any of the black programs, or he wouldn't be able to write about it. There's a lot of speculation, and probably under-estimation of most of the capabilities represented. Besides, if I were a terrorist, wouldn't I just get a batch of people infected with something like a modified Ebola, and send them worldwide on planes? Forget small pox. An airborne contagious version of Ebola or Lassa could leave the world to another species to evolve and do a better job. Bah. So I leave the book unread.

Now it's time to head in to work. Have a lovely day. I know it is Monday, but a short week is in front of us, neh? Take it easy.

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Mon    TUESDAY    Wed    Thu    Fri    Sat    Sun   
November 26, 2002 -    Updates at 0830

And thus starts the first of several extremely lazy days. Good morning. As you may know, I work part time, so I don't get any paid holidays. But I'm taking the balance of the week off anyway. Part time work has really been pretty close to full time hours, perhaps 3/4 of the available working hours in each pay period, not counting some of the drive time, neh? Then I do stay busy around the home front, from cleaning and storm windows and yard and such. So it's time to relax for a bit.

And now a brief note about the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), holiday movies and you. As many of you know, I said on these pages a while back that I wasn't going to go to any movies, as that supported the people who pay Congress to abridge our constitutional freedoms that profits may be maintained. Since I wrote that here a year, perhaps 18 months ago, I have been to one film, which we were given tickets to by Marcia's employer.

It would appear that my boycott of movies isn't hurting Hollywood very much. It also appears that my support of the EFF does help the causes I care about in this venue. What I propose is that as/if I go to see the product of Hollywood, that I take note of the amounts spent in such frivolous activities, and contribute an amount equal to or greater than that to the EFF. I said this to Bob and to Greg several months ago, long before "Lessig's Challenge" showed up on the pages of Slashdot. But then, I didn't publicize my idea, did I? That's just dandy, as I'm not looking for credit, just another way to spread the word. Spend at least as much time and money fighting the bastards as you do relaxing with their products. That's fair, eh?

So, what's on for this week? I dunno. Napping. Taking a walk or doing some sightseeing with my lovely Marcia. Reading. Play with the dog. Probably another nap or three. We have a bird in the fridge thawing, but we'll be having Thanksgiving supper with friends, and cook our own bird on the weekend, so that we have the advantage of leftovers and turkey soup, neh? I'll post here as interesting things come up, or not, as the case may be. Take it easy!

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Mon    Tues    WEDNESDAY    Thu    Fri    Sat    Sun   
November 27, 2002 -    Updates at 1000

Good morning. It would appear that I am having some system problems. I'm doing this update on Gryphon. Goldfinger isn't working properly, and I'm not sure why. It may be the odd load of extra crap I connected to him when I moved lots of peripherals over from Garcia last weekend. Sigh. I don't have time for this. So I'll ignore it for the time being. There's network weirdness, too, and it's not at the cable modem. Maybe I'm having oddness again with the Netgear. That's not a good thing. More when I know more. See y'all around.

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Mon    Tues    Wed    THURSDAY    Fri    Sat    Sun   
November 28, 2002 -    Updates at 0945

Happy Thanksgiving.

And I have a lot to give thanks for, from my lovely Marcia and our canine eating machine to a wonderful family, great friends and much more. I take all of this for granted most of the time, but thanks, everyone. Hey, yes, of course I count you among my blessings. I get fun and interesting email from many of you, and am honored by each and every visit you make to this place. Speaking of fun and interesting email, here's one, it'll set the tone for the day nicely...

From: "Peter Smith"
Subject: Automatic Actions
Date: Thu, 28 Nov 2002 09:45:00 +1000

Hi Brian,

I was just editing a Word document, and saved and exited.

Started to move on to the next job, and realised the document was still sitting there looking at me.

Hey, what's this ":qw" doing at the bottom?

Does this mean that I have graduated from being a Linus Newbie?

Regards, Peter Smith

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Mon    Tues    Wed    Thu    FRIDAY    Sat    Sun   
November 29, 2002 -    Updates at 1030

Good morning. After a full day of consuming mass quantities of turkey, mashed taters, pies, cakes, cookies and on and on and on, I'm still a bit tired and ready for another nap. There's projects on tap for today, and I still don't understand why the home network isn't networking properly. But honestly, from this vantage point, I just can't be bothered. It's working well enough to access the outside, and I can get my email and post this page. Good enough for a slow week. I'll come back to it tomorrow or the next day.

I'm also trying to coordinate things with someone who can help cut ETS (my old employer in California) over from one data hookup to another. It turns out not to be as cut-and-dried as I think it should be. Mind you this is one of those snail's pace projects, since their current setup is working. Many things are left to consider, and I might spend a few cycles on that issue today as well.

Marcia's out shopping with a friend, which I think is pretty gutsy on a day like today. I wouldn't want to brave those crowds. Instead, I think I'll go have a bit of a lie-down, then just maybe work on computers this afternoon.

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Mon    Tues    Wed    Thu    Fri    SATURDAY    Sun   
November 30, 2002 -    Updates at 1930.

Good evening. We're back from the Thompson's, where events of the past couple of days have been unfolding. Unfortunately, I really did have network problems here, which made some of the things I'd tried to do from the Thompson's harder than they should have been. More details and plenty of dog pictures tomorrow. Meantime, have a lovely evening.

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Mon    Tues    Wed    Thu    Fri    Sat    SUNDAY   
December 01, 2002 -    Updates in the morning.

Good morning to you! First off, I have some details to take care of. It's the first of the month, and so Mailman mailing list reminders fill my box. So do bounce messages from the various lists I administer, including my own. So here's the list of addresses that I've had to unsubscribe from my Talkabout mailing list because of problems with the receiving end.

At least it is a short list, neh? This is in comparision to another list where I am box admin, so getting all the reminder bounce messages. There I had some 30 or more where the delivery failed entirely, not counting those recipients who had challenges with over-quota,

If you'd like to join (or rejoin) this very low traffic mailing list (I hope to move that to simply "low", soon), please point your browser to the Talkabout page in my site, or click this mailto link, and hit send, as-is. I also recently modified the privacy rules for the list so that only I can see the list of subscribers. It previously was configured to allow list members to see the subscription list, but there is no way for me to prevent someone with a lower ethical boundary from subscribing in order to manually harvest the list. So be it.

Sally and MalcomSally and DuncanThere's no doubt about it. Thanksgiving at the Thompson's is really going to the dogs. While we weren't outnumbered (that was a tie), it seems clear that the phrase "it's a dog's life" reflects how good the canines really have it. They get leftover turkey and ham, walks and play at their convenience, a bit of fresh nose to nibble on when they want. And our quiet little Sally wasn't sitting out of the action, oh no! She'd relax with Duncan after going tooth-to-tooth for a toy with Malcom. Amazing, that's what I call it.

We had a nice trip. Marcia, Sally and I drove down on Tuesday, arriving in time for a relaxed supper with Bob and Barbara. On Wednesday, Marcia and Barbara went shopping, while Bob and I did... very little. We reclined, talking about computers, politics, Iraq, oil, economics, and anything else that bubbled to the surface. In the evening, all four of us humans visited Bob's mom. On Thanksgiving morning, Bob and I made the run to Lenore's with Sally. The border collies are a little rambunctious and big, methinks, for the purpose that Sally served, which was to lay quietly on the bed beside Lenore and accept homage. Every time that Lenore stopped petting Sally, the paw came up to pull her hand back down for some more attention. So Sally came back for every visit thereafter during our trip.

Thanksgiving day, Barbara's parents came over for the day. Very pleasant people, although they were slightly disturbed when Malcom decided to forego the traditional day's fare and take a nip from Bob's nose. As Bob noted, though, it was a stressful crowded day for a fairly high-strung dog, and Bob took the heat for it. All was well, in the end, and everyone had a good time. I spent a not-insignificant amount of time watching the Buffy marathon with Bob. He's right, you know. That's not a bad show. He thinks it's the best show on television. While that may be the equivalent of saying "that's the prettiest weed on that thar vacant lot", I might consider watching more of it in the future. And I don't watch much TV these days.

Friday was another shopping day for Marcia and Barbara. Marcia's gating function by this point was this: How much can we fit in the truck and still get Sally home? heh. Meantime, Bob and I built him a Linux gateway box to replace the NT/Wingate/MercuryMail box that sat between his network and cable modem. It took some doing because we had driver problems with network cards. Ah, well. In the end, it came up nicely, and we've got him setup with a nice clean set of IPTables rules to lock things down well. The drive home yesterday was relatively event-free, with the exception of a bit of traffic. Wow, we sure are glad that we aren't caught up in the probable joys of today's road melee.

On tap for today, we're doing laundry, cooking our own turkey, picking up a Christmas tree, and other such fun stuff. Yes, our own turkey! we don't have any leftovers, neh? So this way we can have bird, sandwiches and soup of our own for the next week or so. And on the Christmas tree front, I've finally convinced Marcia to let us get a real dead tree, rather than one made of aluminum and plastic. I love the smell of real tree. I guess I'd better get that second load in the washer and hop into the shower in preparation for the day's events. You can probably find more dog and people pictures from our holiday weekend on Barbara's site, and/or Marcia's.

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Visit the rest of the DAYNOTES GANG, a collection of bright minds and sharp wits. Really, I don't know why they tolerate me <grin>. My personal inspiration for these pages is Dr. Jerry Pournelle. I am also indebted to Bob Thompson and Tom Syroid for their patience, guidance and feedback. Of course, I am sustained by and beholden to my lovely wife, Marcia. You can find her online too, at http://www.dutchgirl.net/. Thanks for dropping by.

All Content Copyright © 1999-2002 Brian P. Bilbrey.