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Archive August 2002
Friday 30 August 2002
Grargh. Programming should not be a chore. I would enjoy writing the webcam plugin for RavenGive, or some new quizzes, or various other projects of my own I could do which might even possibly make me some money, but writing other people's programs, to their design, is disheartening and annoying. Even more so when I'm stumped for a good way to do something; I know that if I just start doing it, I'll come up with a good way, but that'll mean the way I've been doing it is wrong, which will be annoying. But if I don't start doing it, I don't come up with a good way. I know that this means I should just start. I know this with my brain. My fingers and my time-usage, however, refuse to submit to such a ruling. Thus I spend the day becoming more and more annoyed, with the project, with myself, with everything else. Food becomes unappealing, music becomes irritating, TV becomes boring, the internet... well, the internet is always rubbish. And I glower. And I feel bad for not having done as much of the project as I told the paying customer I would have, this week. I still have a few hours, but to catch up on what I should have been able to do in a week, in hours, is borderline impossible. Ooh, but that declaration is a pretty incentive. Now I work. [09:01] [0 comments]
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: I hadn't seen this before; I wouldn't see it again. [08:17] [0 comments]

Thursday 29 August 2002
It's a day for thesaurus fun: nonsense, gibberish; jargon, jabber, mere words, hocus-pocus, fustian, rant, bombast, balderdash, palaver, flummery, verbiage, babble, baverdage, baragouin, platitude, niaiserie; inanity; flapdoodle; rigmarole, rodomontade; truism; nugae canorae; twaddle, twattle, fudge, trash; poppy-cock; stuff, stuff and nonsense; bosh, rubbish, moonshine, wish-wash, fiddle-faddle; absurdity; vagueness (unintelligibility). [08:58] [3 comments]
Queen of the Damned: Much like The Sum Of All Fears, this movie manages to make even a 'people exploding' scene into a tedious affair; it also portrays all goths as having the personality of, well, twelve-year-old goths - which is probably accurate enough, really. [08:55] [3 comments]

Monday 26 August 2002
A couple of amusing things for those of you with plenty of bandwidth or boredom; the Tenacious D video for Tribute, and the unusually splendid Nike ad featuring The Angry Chicken. [15:49] [5 comments]
The Quiet Earth: A rather splendid people-disappearing story, which was one third of the inspiration for my incomplete story Altergeist. [13:57] [0 comments]

Sunday 25 August 2002
I just approached my wife, in the kitchen. She has been playing Nethack for most of the day. As I approached, she jumped nervously. Reading her sheepish look, I inquired "what, did you think I was a kobold?" She explained herself, "no, I thought you were invisible Asmodeus." Nethack appears to have an uncanny ability to insinuate into people's psyches, as further demonstrated by this and this. [13:58] [4 comments]
My remote control is excellent. Almost worth having bought the TV that broke yesterday (one of the components that causes the vertical deflection of the electrons ceased functioning, which is to say, the image became one-dimensional, a single excessively bright horizontal line across the centre of the screen). Conveniently, the day before the TV broke, Jalen was grumbling about having nowhere useful to put her small TV; it was going to go into the attic. Now it has replaced the other, and a few experiments with the Zenith remote control codes gave me control over the new TV. Everything but switching between the Cable and VCR input. [13:22] [0 comments]
The Last Man On Earth: Said to be a more faithful adaptation of the novel I Am Legend than, based on same, The Omega Man; I must conclude that the novel wasn't very good. [13:22] [0 comments]

Friday 23 August 2002
A scary lump on my hand, helpfully diagnosed in under 30 seconds by webmd.com as a ganglion. "Smashing a ganglion with a heavy object is not recommended because it usually does not work and may cause injury." [14:00] [29 comments] Holly has an excellent nose. [09:52] [3 comments] Have you ever been a Pusher Robot? Do you miss pushing humans down the stairs? Relive the experience, with Stair Dismount, also known as Porrasturvat. [09:40] [0 comments]
Sliding Doors: Less clever than it could have been, but not bad for a soap-opera flavoured movie. [09:23] [0 comments]

Thursday 22 August 2002
Tsk, silly connection-selling people don't allow the making of money while using their connection. I don't understand this; surely, usually, their customers earning money means that their customers can continue to pay them? In this instance, because it's a line belonging to someone else, that's not the case, but still, it seems strange. Anyway, all money-making aspects have been temporarily removed from service, to return shortly when I move those parts of my site that can afford it to a paid-for host. Any recommendations, bearing in mind I want mysql, Perl, the plugin that runs CGI scripts as the user they belong to, and mod_rewrite? [22:38] [5 comments]
Top quality spam last night, attempting to steal people's Paypal accounts, from Paypal Customer Support.
Dear Paypal Customer,

Due to an increased amount of members to our site, we are transferring our site to new servers. Due to this problem, we will need all of our members to re-activate their PayPal account onto our new servers. To re-active your account, please click here. You will need to login to your account as you would normally do by using the link provided above. Once you login to your account, your total funds will be available to you once again. We are very sorry for the inconvenience that this may bring to you. Please re-activate your account as soon as possible, as this will make the process quicker for you and other members..

To Re-Activate You Account, Please Click Here.

The Paypal Team

Note - Our site will be unavailable as of September 1, 2002 from 8:00 A.M. EST - 5:00 P.M. EST due to the server transfer process.
Rather a good mimickry of the style of a genuine Paypal support email, overall. I would bet this has fooled 90% of the people it was sent to. I don't see how the person hopes to get at the money without being caught or having it all retroactively cancelled, though. [20:00] [0 comments]
Bulletproof: A poor movie, rendered entertaining by TV's dubbing over the swearing; "I'm gonna kick your filthy heinie!" [19:45] [0 comments]

Wednesday 21 August 2002
A rather nice statistical spam filter, which gave me other ideas. Once you've trained the filter to recognise spam, why not try training it to recognise other things? Filter your non-spam email into 'interesting' or 'boring' categories. Ask it to tell you what gender the writer is. Getting to look at the statistics later would be interesting, even if it was unable to make correct judgements. [22:46] [4 comments]
War of the Worlds: The movie was mediocre, but the spinoff series was excellent - I hope they cancel the 2004 Tom Cruise remake. [22:23] [7 comments]
A new quiz (and without ads, for now): What sort of hat are you?
What Sort of Hat Are You? I am a Top-hat.I am a Top-hat.

I'm a bit of a jack-of-all-trades; creative, in a stylistic sort of way, a little vain, a little dark, perhaps a little archaic. I get on alright with people, but I can take them or leave them. What Sort of Hat Are You?
[02:01] [10 comments]
Operation Pink Squad: Poorly filmed, but occasionally funny kung-fu cop thing that doesn't seem to be sure whether it should be funny or not. [01:51] [0 comments]

Monday 19 August 2002
I want a bumper sticker that says "everybody's child is a bloody honor student, it's not a sign that your child is good, it's a sign of the progressing decay of the education standards in this country". It should be a sticker the width of a standard SUV. [03:18] [5 comments]

Sunday 18 August 2002
I have succumbed to the lure of financial reward, and allowed advertisements to taint my wares. My quizzes and games now have popup ads, thanks to popupsponsor.com offering me $3 for every thousand unique visitors in a day. It's not a lot of money, but it's more than I was getting without popups. [20:54] [4 comments]
Gen-X Cops: Amusing, somewhat formulaic kung-fu-cop thing, with an endorsing cameo from Jackie Chan. [20:44] [0 comments]
The Faculty: It's got tentacles, and isn't hentai; thus, it is good. [07:29] [0 comments]

Saturday 17 August 2002
Nightshade sent me pants. They fit, as no other pants do, to my long skinny frame. I was going to do something in return, but I forget what. [04:54] [2 comments] Buy me one of these. Cheers. [04:14] [0 comments]
Planet of the Apes: Oh Tim Burton, all respect is now lost. [04:12] [1 comment]

Thursday 15 August 2002
There should be a box on IRS forms for "deliberate overpayment" or "error insurance", into which I could put $25 and save myself eight hours of work four months later. Alternatively, they should just fuck off and bloody try to get tax money out of people who are really scamming them for a lot, rather than hassling people who've made tiny omissions. Pop-quiz: Which is a better use of IRS auditors; attempting to get $3.3bn from Worldcom (to pick one example), or attempting to get $0.000000025bn from me? Not that the IRS asked for their $25; of course not. They were going to wait a few years before bringing it up, so they could charge ridiculous interest and extortionate fees. [02:13] [2 comments]
Charlie's Angels: Surprising goodness, and not just because of having supposedly attractive people in it. [02:07] [0 comments]

Tuesday 13 August 2002
Following on from the research I had to do to complete tax forms nearly three years out of date, I decided to poke around and see what sort of things are deductible, and to what degrees. Actually, I started out reading about tax scams, which led to some examples of the results of fraud tax preparation. From there I went on to tax avoidance schemes, which again provided me with information different from the intended. In attempting to confirm what seems to be the case about hiring tax preparers I found lengthy publications about deductions you can genuinely claim, and there are a lot of them, even if you're not self-employed. Perhaps I shall be a tax professional - I've had plenty of experience of the forms, now, with all this arguing. [08:13] [5 comments]
Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai: Moderately entertaining; a bit too slow for a gun-ridden movie. [08:10] [0 comments]
Total Due: $1235.08... No, wait, $-76.32After several hours of digging up convoluted 1999 tax forms from the Virginia tax-bastards' website, filling them out with lots of calculations and table-cross-references, the result is that we don't, in fact, owe them over a thousand dollars, but rather they owe us $76. The only notice we got from them had no papers with which to contest their claim, but I figure the notation I used, displayed here, would be clear enough even for government people. The temptation is to also append 'Ha!'. [02:41] [4 comments]

Monday 12 August 2002
And now for the post-work slacking; reading comedy things, and finding such horrors as this article about a book entitled The Rules For Online Dating. Hooray for the snide remarks of SomethingAwful. [12:30] [2 comments] I'm impressed by how much more I got done by keeping track of my hours; easy to waste hours watching TV or reading websites, but much less easy to accept when you're writing it down. I still lost over an hour into a void, though. ("18:30 - start work. 19:45 - really start work." - I don't know what I was doing between these two times. Probably staring blankly. Perhaps drooling a bit. Maybe making a graaaughghrrgh noise.) [11:55] [0 comments]
Quills: I hated this before we even got past the DVD menu - falling silk and whingy music - and it didn't get much better. [11:52] [0 comments]

Sunday 11 August 2002
On a related note, I enjoy the ominous ellipsis and the choice of dramatic wording in the online Encyclopaedia Britannica's entry for passeriform. [19:07] [0 comments] A certain article - or set of articles based on it - about crows' intelligence appears to be doing the rounds at the moment. At least the one I link there gives a passing nod to the fact that they're confirming old information, not producing new. [19:05] [0 comments]
As a ploy to persuade myself to do more constructive things, I've decided to keep a timesheet of my behaviour, listing anything I do that takes more than a couple of minutes. If this doesn't help, I may have to allow it to cover brief interruptions, too (8:55am-8:56am; blogged about idea to keep a timesheet). An apparent side-effect of this decision has been to wake up in the morning, though that may instead be a side-effect of the fridge containing soda, as it hasn't for so very long. [17:06] [2 comments]
For the first time in quite a while, we went shopping for food. For the first time ever, I went to a wholesale club, thanks to Rogue. The closest such thing to us bears the unfortunate name BJ's. The $40 yearly membership thing is well worth it; under $200 purchased significantly more food than we'd usually get for $300. Admittedly, much of the food in question is a bit frivolous; such necessities as a five pound bag of smarties. Some unfortunate omissions mean I'll still need to go to the normal shop, though; difficulty resulting from veganity. [11:20] [1 comment]
Soylent Green: A lovely concept with quotable quotes, but with unfortunately unpleasant production even for its time. [11:08] [0 comments]

Wednesday 7 August 2002
The best Icehouse game ever - Spicklehead. Not that I would play it. [23:29] [0 comments]
Twelve Monkeys: It's like Brazil for dummies. [22:59] [2 comments]

Tuesday 6 August 2002
It's time for another Programmer Babble. Trying to make non-blocking networking things work alike on both Lunix and Windows. It rather seems to me that Lunix has only a very clumsy and horrible mechanism for doing non-blocking things. Sure, it has a mediocre method that uses signals, that's only half implemented and isn't shared by other unix variants, making it about as useful as using the MFC, dynamically linking it, and not distributing the DLL. Windows, on the other hand, has had relatively nice message-based sockets for nigh on 7 years. After spending some time trying to get decent asynchronous sockets behaving reasonably in Lunix, I suddenly understand why Squid was doing a horrendous CPU-eating thing a while back, why Apache starts up a billion and five threads when you run it, why SQL implementations are clumpy - it's because Lunix sucks. What I'd really like to see is an asynchronous sockets implementation that goes one step beyond Windows' - instead of handing you a note saying "hey, I've got data when you want it", I want the OS to hand me the data straight off the bat. That said, at least with Windows it's fairly easy to wrap the "hey, I've got data" sockets in an extra layer of fluff that will behave pretty much like a "here's your data" implementation. As, indeed, I have done. It's a pain to do the same for Lunix, since message queues are not the norm there. Trying to make something that will work with both Lunix and Windows is another layer of awkwardness altogether, with uncertainty as to how each one will behave given unusual and unexpected input. Gngh. [18:39] [0 comments]
The Raven: A delightfully buffoonish comedy, as all Poe's works should be when translated to the screen. [18:00] [1 comment]

Sunday 4 August 2002
Speaking of end-of-the-world, it's doing a good job of resembling that, here. Thirty minutes of booming almost-perpetual thunder, with no lightning or rain or darkening of the sky. And last night, there was near-perpetual lightning, with no thunder or rain; there may have been darkening of the sky, it's hard to tell in the dark. It's all terribly dramatic. [00:24] [4 comments]
Omega Man: I have a soft spot for post-end-of-the-world movies, and this one is better than most. [00:20] [0 comments]

Friday 2 August 2002
My digital video camera, I have just discovered, is bloody marvellous. It functions as a webcam better than my webcam, because it can function in my natural environment; darkness. Its "Super Nightshot" capability really is super. It can see better than I can, using it. It has only two flaws I've noticed for the webcam purpose; its cable is too short, and it doesn't have a very wide zoom-out capability (about the same as the webcam's, but the webcam has a longer cable). Still, the night-vision is completely excellent. [11:09] [1 comment]
The Birds: Excellent to see the birds essentially winning, but still not as good as mine. [11:03] [3 comments]
Existing on only very cheap food has an interesting side-effect; one bag of trash in a week rather than three. Tentative conclusion: cheap food comes in packets, expensive food comes in boxes. [07:00] [0 comments]
Freaked: Best summarised by the phrase "Mr T as a bearded lady". [06:58] [5 comments]

Thursday 1 August 2002
In time for her visit to DefCon, I've made my wife a less gothy-looking online resumé, and a set of lovely business cards. If anyone local wants me to make them some lovely business cards too, all they have to do is ask. [04:54] [2 comments]
I was amused by the envelope the post-office gave us as a stamps container. It reads:
  THEY'RE AMERICA [04:37] [0 comments]
Godzilla: Crap. [04:35] [0 comments]

Wednesday 31 July 2002
All The President's Men: Like watching the news, only slower and less topical. [03:59] [0 comments]