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Archive February 2002
Wednesday 27 February 2002
More 'things my wife says based on things she does': "I threw my hand in it, and had to fish it out with an earring." [20:12] [0 comments]
I spent over an hour last night, moving a hard drive and a CD-writer from one machine to two other machines, and the (faster) CD-writer from one of the other machines to the other of the other machines. Why did it take so long? Because two of the three machines in question were in narrow gaps with no nearby space, requiring the magical skills of "opening a computer case while standing on one foot and bracing yourself with your head against a wall, while using only a makeshift screwdriver because a proper screwdriver is too long for the space available". The pelican method of hardware modification. And the other machine was in a place with no light sources. Which was convenient. [20:11] [4 comments]
Looking at the prices for buying houses vaguely in the area where we are now, for a change. I just found one that's $85K for a four-bedroom two-and-a-half bathroom place on a 15000 sq.ft. lot, in a probably-not-too-scummy neighbourhood. A fenced back garden. And, the thing that makes it worth mentioning, it has a fucking pool. Which is to say, with emphasis, that it has a pool - not to suggest that it has a pool whose purpose is fucking, which would actually be quite frightening. [02:33] [2 comments]
What Flavour Are You? I taste like Menthol.I taste like Menthol.

I am refreshingly different; some people don't appreciate that. My sharp honesty gets up some people's noses, while others really enjoy it. I am something of an acquired taste. What Flavour Are You?
[01:49] [17 comments]
The video game quiz has died down enough that I now summise that I can release the flavour quiz. So I do. Release it, that is. [01:47] [0 comments]

Tuesday 26 February 2002
A thought occurred to me today, also based on a thing my wife said; small 15-second bites of Flash animation, with sound, being tiny programming tutorials; "Fifteen seconds of C". eg. "Did you know that you can swap two integers by doing a^=b^=a^=b;? But you don't want to do that, because it actually compiles slower and larger than the usual method of using a temporary variable." With flying code-snippets in the background. [06:42] [2 comments] "Then I got pudding up my nose, and it was time to stop." Things my wife says, based on things she does. I really should note them more often. [06:39] [0 comments]

Monday 25 February 2002
In America, there used to be a thing called "Secretaries' Day" - this would be yet another cunning ploy on behalf of the people who brought us Valentine's Day, for the selling of cards, cakes and flowers. Now, however, that same day has apparently been renamed; we saw in a shop today cards for "Administrative Professionals' Day". When is there going to be a Sarcastic Bloggers' Day, eh? I suggest Wednesday. Send me Things. [02:59] [2 comments]
Yesterday, the lady was poisoned by some food from a local Popeyes. A place which smelled and looked really nasty, to me; I had gone in with her with the intent of getting a drink, and upon seeing and smelling the vast array of fried-in-advance vaguely-meat products, decided I didn't want a drink from there after all. 'Needing to Popeye' is now a colloquial way of implying that one needs to vomit and... er... otherwise excrete, simultaneously. The lady assures me that this is a nasty, nasty experience. Those who argue that 'health reasons' is not a valid reason to be vegan must now give me an example of someone getting that degree of food poisoning from products that are not in any way animal-based. (The lady didn't actually even eat the vague-meat products, but the fries and biscuits doubtless both used the greasy run-off from the stinky food as an ingredient.) [02:58] [7 comments]

Saturday 23 February 2002
I'm told someone is waiting with bated breath for me to see and review Queen Of The Damned. I must disappoint, because there's no way I'm going to see that. I have, however, seen the trailer, which ends with a melodramatic woman saying "I vont to drink yorr blahd", or something equally asinine and cliché. That moment, alone, constitutes my review of the movie. [21:18] [4 comments] The postage-printing program I'm using, when it displays the layout, shows "VOID - DO NOT MAIL" in the postage-space when you're doing the layout. Presumably the post office isn't very good at working the containment fields around voids, and all the other mail gets sucked in. Possibly into other dimensions, where it gets misinterpreted as a sci-fi story of some sort. [21:17] [1 comment]
Hooray - Revelations is printed, here, and ready to buy. It came out fairly spiffily - the fresh-printed-ness of it is actually slightly unnerving. I don't expect pulp paperbacks to have pages that aren't yellowed. Anyway, yes, buy it and I'll be all pleased-like. This is also encouraging me to get around to finishing writing G-Men and also writing the semi-untitled fantasy novel whose outline is fleshing out in my head as I write. [02:41] [4 comments]

Friday 22 February 2002
A comment on Revelations today amused me. Suggesting that I should cut out some of the unnecessary description, and that I shouldn't try to be humorous. Maybe they mistook the intent, and thought I was writing a technical document. Humour is part of the content. I wonder if Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett were ever told they shouldn't try to be humorous. Finally, I'm told it reads like fanfic. Apart from not being based around characters of other people's conception, yes. Which is the fan part. So I'd say "it reads like fiction". Coincidentally, that's what it is. Hooray! [00:12] [5 comments]

Wednesday 20 February 2002
Jesse Ventura is the best. From http://www.jesseventura.org/, "If the bobblehead market stays hot, it is conceivable that Governor Ventura could fund his entire re-election campaign (if he decides to run) with bobblehead sales." [21:23] [2 comments]
I would like to retract my earlier recommendation of ZoneAlarm - it completely failed to function in a home-network-masquerading-and-odd-DNS environment, due to treating DNS like any other UDP. Which it is, but anyone who knows what they're doing will want to allow DNS and disallow most other UDP. For an amateur with a single machine, ZoneAlarm is good, I suppose. For anyone who knows what ipchains is, however, I far more strongly recommend Tiny Personal Firewall, which behaves far more like that. Which is to say, you have a lot of say in what happens. Though it does tend to still treat you like something of an amateur ("TCP in" and "TCP out" rather than actually treating individual packets), it's not nearly as soft as ZoneAlarm. It's smaller too. [00:32] [0 comments]

Sunday 17 February 2002
Chortle at this [04:57] [5 comments]

Friday 15 February 2002
I baked my wife an "it's no longer Valentine's Day" cake. Because it is. Apparently, it's now Lupercalia, whence Valentine's Day originated. Mmm, a feast of wolves, girl-trading, and blood. And hitting spectators with goatskin belts. Fantastic. [09:45] [4 comments]
Mmm, taxes. Those of you not American have probably seen American sitcoms featuring people bitching about taxes. You probably don't realise why - I didn't. In England, "doing your taxes" consisted of "doing absolutely nothing", as an employee, because all that stuff is dealt with quite efficiently and correctly on-the-fly.

In America, it's different. The tax-withheld-from-wages part is purely a clumsy guesstimate. And you have to do tax papers anyway, even if you somehow managed to pay exactly the right amount of tax. And you have to do the tax papers for two different places, because they can't just, say, have the state take both state and federal taxes and forward the federal ones appropriately, oh no, it has to come straight from the end-user, for maximum complete fucking waste of time and paper and maximum potential to fuck everything up.

If you're very lucky, you also get to have your tax withheld by Virginia when it's due in Maryland, to pick an example from, well, our taxes this year. Which means finding out about obscure forms with which to politely ask Virginia to "give me my fucking money back you useless tossers". If you're unwise, you might even only discover that at the last minute, which would leave you paying several thousand dollars to Maryland from a credit card or something, while you wait for the refund from Virginia which won't, of course, include interest. Conveniently, we are not so unwise.

Also fun is when you finish filling all the tax forms, and sealing them in envelopes, and then a W-2 from an old job arrives, meaning you have to start all over again. I have nothing against bureaucracy. I just loathe bureaucracy that could be managed several hundred times more efficiently by implementing the most pathetically obvious of modifications. [01:39] [0 comments]
All phones should have two microphones and an explosive device or pneumatic blade. One microphone measures the ambient volume, one measures the volume of the person speaking. Also, people with hearing problems should register their phones as such. If the volume of the person speaking is unnecessarily loud, as compared to the ambient volume and the hearing ability of the person at the other end, the phone gives them a warning "Pipe down or I'll kill you". If, thirty seconds later, the person is still unnecessarily loud, the blade springs out into their ear and/or the phone explodes, thus enforcing the law that there unfortunately isn't, of "shut the fuck up there are other people in the room/building/street/town who don't want to hear your conversation". [01:37] [5 comments]

Thursday 14 February 2002
Someone's been modifying the ATMs around here; they speak. It is quite annoying, but does create the game of 'select your choices as quickly as possible to make the voice go away'. "Welcome to Ch... Enter your pi... Is this a... Please sel... Please ch... Please... Please... Oh just take your money and go. Sigh." [11:27] [4 comments]

Wednesday 13 February 2002
I had strange inspirational dreams, today. Thus, I have written a new UpsideClone which I'll link to when it lives, and scrawled a fairly surreal comic strip entitled Sticks and Carrots. [23:24] [3 comments] Benevolent/Malevolent. Benign/Malign. What happened to Benodorous? Benignant? Maleficial? I demand these words. [23:23] [5 comments]

Tuesday 12 February 2002
Revelations is all ordered and in the print shop. Thus, any more ever-so-helpful design advice from friends or from blind forkheaded morons is undesirable. Not to suggest that it was desirable in the first place. Not to suggest that I don't like feedback from those few people whose opinions I care about, either. Anger and bile in this post brought to you by morons, and by the disgusting slobbery snoring of the roommate who likes to leave used tissues on every available surface. [13:02] [4 comments]

Monday 11 February 2002
Finished making the cover for Revelations - depicted right. Differing from my mental image due to my realising just in time that the original idea would have looked tacky. I'd have sent it to print, if the printy-people website weren't down. Tsk. [10:29] [12 comments] Revelations front cover
[10:26] [2 comments]
Strange coincidence or something more sinister? Microwaving microwavable corn for the lady; after 30 seconds, the fusebox kicks out the kitchen. Not knowing where the fusebox is, I go to use the microwave in our bedroom instead. After 2 minutes, the fusebox kicks out the bedroom. Conspiracy? Special corn of death? Incredibly unlikely coincidence? You decide. You decide wrong. You die. [08:51] [3 comments]

Sunday 10 February 2002
Time for a succinct review. Rollerball. It's everything you would expect. Which is to say, it's not very good, and even Jean Reno playing an evil character or the lass with the nice scar can't save it. Also, the main character isn't played by Keanu Reeves, but might as well be, since the guy who plays him looks and acts the same. Watch it when it's on TV, when the alternatives are a repeat of Absolutely Fabulous or having your face eaten. [13:29] [7 comments]
Hoorah for being dropped off at a place, and discovering it to be closed just in time to see the ride drive away. Then spending ten minutes looking for a payphone. Then finding that the cellphone of the driver is magically in a no-reception area and is likely to remain so. Add to that the lovely feeling of not knowing where the hell you are, and you have the high point of my day. I have hence resolved that I'm never going out ever again. At least if I stay at home, I know where I am, and don't need to hunt for my ride home. Not moving is by far the best means of transport. [00:32] [7 comments]

Saturday 9 February 2002
We just dined out at an expensive restaurant (accidentally, having gone somewhere else and been taken onwards by another person who neglected to mention that this was an expensive restaurant). Those of you who know me perhaps know my feelings about expensive restaurants.
"How did you find your meal?"
(Other people answer positively while I seethe. Waiter goes away.)
"Do you think they'd be offended if I had answered 'very expensive and very small'?"
"Yes, and they'd think you a cretin."
"Funny. It's cretinous to not enjoy paying excessively for an average product?"
"The point is supposed to be one of quality rather than quantity."
"Well, if that were the case..."
"But I cook better food than this..."
"It's called Ramen."
Cue wife looking horrified at my villainousness. It's moments like that which render posh restaurants almost worthwhile. [08:53] [12 comments]

Friday 8 February 2002
Did I promise a set of Icehouse Pieces to you? Tell me. Of course, I'll recognise if I didn't and you say I did - I'm just calling for reminder, here. [20:39] [2 comments] I overestimated the abilities of my digital camera - it couldn't focus at a distance as short as a foot and a half. The webcam on the other hand, could focus even as close as half an inch, but had insufficient resolution to take an adequate shot. Conveniently, I am all about makeshift solutions; somewhere between 7 and 10 pictures taken with the webcam of small parts of the tree, joined together in Photoshop, and I at last have a picture in the 1200x1200 pixel sort of size range. [20:34] [0 comments]
The wire mesh I've been waiting for arrived yesterday. The metal tree I was going to make from it is now made. The other two photographs for the cover of Revelations should follow shortly, then some skillful Photoshopping and the cover will be done. Estimating 10 days 'til Revelations is up for sale. [06:35] [0 comments]
Jalen bought me vast quantities of sugar-based products; smarties, sour smarties, and a bloody huge box of Pez. As a birthday present. It's not my birthday yet, mind. Also, when it is, don't say "happy birthday" to me, or I may have to sever your spine. Well-wishes are poor, cards are poor unless they are art drawn specifically for the purpose of my birthday. However, gifts are always welcome, birthday or not. [06:26] [2 comments]

Wednesday 6 February 2002
It is simultaneously entertaining and horrific to attempt to cook in a kitchen where you wish neither yourself nor your food to touch any of the major surfaces, while also striving to use the minimum possible of materials, to save on having to wash many things in the equally disgusting sink. To stave off such comments as "well clean the fucking kitchen then", I am obliged to point out that less than 24 hours after the kitchen is made spotless, it's made clean-spot-less once more. Resistance is futile. [22:43] [8 comments]
The other night, I had the most deeply nested set of dreams I've had (at least with remembering detail). The first involved a person squawking inane argument at my wife, in a supermarket-like place, while I was in a nearby room. The sheer volume and stupidness of the argument enraged me, such that I charged at the offending person with intent to appear to be going to be violent (ie. to be scary). She ran away, screeching, and people started accusing me of wife-beating. Pointing out that this nasty person wasn't my wife didn't help matters.

And then I woke up, because there was a spider crawling on me; a spindly thin-legged white spider with a huge translucent abdomen. I shook it off. Another spider, alike, dropped down from the ceiling, towards my torso; I caught it, and threw it down beside the first. Then I noticed there were two more, one on my arm and one on my leg, their steps doing that annoying tickling-itching thing that insect and spider steps do.

And then I woke up. My wife was next to me in bed, and I started telling her about the spider dream (which had taken place in that same room). On the door of the room, now, however, were five cartons of orange-juice-powder, in exquisite detail. If I'd been asked when I woke, I could have drawn the logo, though I couldn't now. Half way through telling the dream...

I was woken by the bedroom door opening. It was my wife, returning from her trip to San Francisco. I was disoriented; the room was different, lighter, and the bed was further from the wall on my side. This, however, was no longer a dream. Unless I'm the butterfly. [19:44] [5 comments]

Tuesday 5 February 2002
I didn't think it was possible, but I just saw an ad for Hooked on Phonics that was even worse than the previous ads. It goes something like this:
What inspired me to get Hooked on Phonics was that my son couldn't read. When he finally got it, we just said "Austin! Austin! You did it! You're a reader! You did it!"
And then he said "Yeah, mom, and you're a breeder. You see what I did there? Humour based on phonetics. Aha, ahaha!". And then I killed him.

Seriously, though, what a bloody awful thing to say to a kid. "You're a reader"? What the hell does that mean? I'm sure a kid who's just read something knows that they are capable of reading. Does that define them? Is that all they are now? "You are no longer a player, now you can only read, muahaha. Enjoy your stay in Readertown. FOREVER!"

Not to suggest that reading is bad, of course. I read a lot. I'm not, however, a reader. [21:46] [10 comments]
On a related note, I'm also looking at Virtual Network Computing - a thing for remotely controlling your computer over a network. Why do I want that? Well, I prefer to program in bed, where it's warm, but my laptop computer lacks the capability to do decent 3D behaviour. I'm hoping I can code and compile on my desktop computer, from bed, using the laptop as an interface. I'm so lazy, I'll work at it. Blame Eperdu for this. [20:44] [3 comments] In a random flurry of insane ultra-paranoia, I've just installed ZoneAlarm, despite being already behind a firewall, and AdAware. On the up-side, AdAware didn't find anything running, and found only spyware that I knew I had had; still, it removed the files and registry keys that were still floating around. I recommend its use. The purpose of adding ZoneAlarm is that my wife is wanting to make a hole through the firewall, which should terminate safely at a secure point, but I am paranoid, and my part of the network has previously been assuming all inside traffic can be trusted. No more. Thus ends today's slather of geek-speak. [20:36] [0 comments]

Sunday 3 February 2002
Ears are great. I removed the floppy drive from my laptop, in order to insert the CD drive in its place, to retrieve the aforementioned backup, and I heard something rattle. Paranoia piqued, I closely examined the floppy drive, then tipped the laptop; out came a screw. I can't imagine that putting the CD drive in with the screw loose in the bay would have been a good idea. If only I kept hackers out by regularly tightening the screws, it would never have happened. But who needs to tighten screws, when ears are there to save the day? Makeshift tools are great too. [20:02] [4 comments] My thanks to ktabic; I mentioned that I was going to restart a project that I had foolishly deleted. He tutted at me for not making backups, which reminded me that I did have some ancient backups. Five minutes of CD-digging and a couple of hours of code-patching and code-relearning rather than a week or two of coding. Excellent. [20:01] [1 comment]

Saturday 2 February 2002
Lovely programming horrors! Ways to reduce the file size of programs in Linux, to what would nowadays be considered absurdity, and in the days of the Atari ST would be more like 'reasonable'. I started my path with Binary Size Reduction, and went from there through a broken link to A Whirlwind Tutorial on Creating Really Teensy ELF Executables for Linux, which led to Tiny Programs. That led to the brainfuck language via its 171-byte compiler. And that... That went to the beauty that is a program written in Brainfuck. I wonder if I can find a page that deconstructs Windows binaries that way. [09:47] [6 comments]

Friday 1 February 2002
Woohoo - another INS interview notice arrived today, this one with over a month's notice, rather than under a day's. Fantastic. Time to start gathering the diverse and strange papers they request. Still, thus far they've demonstrated lots of reasonableness once there's an in-person presence to deal with - it's their mailroom that spends its time murdering and eating the hopes of the innocent. [22:39] [0 comments]
I am today's UpsideClone, with The Perfect Job. [20:00] [2 comments] If you use any of AIM, ICQ, Microsoft-messagey-thing, Yahoo-messagey-thing, or possibly IRC, I recommend Trillian, perhaps with the kimae Ultraminimalistic Black skin. Mmm, Terminal font. [12:19] [3 comments] So, January as a novel-writing month was a resounding failure. None of the three participants even got half way. I could make excuses, but really only lack of impetus (ie. myself) is to blame. I shall continue to write the story in question, though, regardless of arbitrary self-imposed time limitations. [09:38] [1 comment]
Game rules. Spirit or letter? In my opinion, the two should be the same. I objected to a player abusing the spirit of the rules of Warlocks by beginning many simultaneous games against newbies, as a way of gaining many undeserved points. The letter of the rules was that you can only start games against people within 5 points of yourself. The spirit was clearly that this was intended to prevent you scoring highly without having to play any experienced opponents. Incompatible letter and spirit. The abusing player seemed offended when I asked them to stop doing that. At first this irked me, then I realised that that's unfair - he was in breach of no rules, and I hadn't even included that abuse (though I was aware of it while coding) in the Code Of Conduct page. As with my variants of Cheat and Splat, I realised I should fix the loopholes rather than complaining about their use. And so I have, after only 3 hours of coding, modifying a live server with no testing period for the new code. Hm, I probably shouldn't do it that way. [09:01] [0 comments]