"That which is overdesigned, too highly specific, anticipates outcome; the anticipation of outcome guarantees, if not failure, the absence of grace."
-- William Gibson, All Tomorrow's Parties
August 2, 2004

If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don't you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can't think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all who claim it? Do you read everything you're supposed to read? Do you think everything you're supposed to think? Buy what you're told you should want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you're alive. If you don't claim you're humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned ....... Tyler.

12:37 AM | Tyler Says... | Comments (2)

Friday was interesting. Long day at work, dealing with recovering this hard drive (part of an array; we just sent it off to have the drive's platter swapped... hopefully that will work out). Went to Factory, eventually about a dozen people showed up: Akira came down from New York, picked up Alex (who I will refuse to refer to as "assrabbit", cDc nickname or no) in Jersey. Emmet Plant (from pobox) and his girlfriend, Steph, came out. Emmet seems pretty hardcore about joining Factory, and has some good ideas about it. Went to dinner at Nam Phoung, which everyone seemed to enjoy (lots of nerd humor, etc). They sat us away from everyone else, obviously detecting Akira's miscreant streak and the effect it would have on everyone else.

Hung out at Factory for a few hours after that, getting some work done. It's goddamn hot down there.

Saturday morning I went to dinner with Alex and Adam before Alex headed back home. Stopped by Showcase on South St. to pick up a couple books of The Authority and Y: The Last Man. Sat around for a few minutes before Andrew came over and we headed over to Home Depot to buy some fans and then swung down to my old apartment to get the last of my stuff. Jason tried to get me to clean "my" bathroom, but I refused, stating that he and his pothead friends have been pissing all over it for the last month and a half and I have no goddamn intention of cleaning it. I'm glad to be done with all that. Definitely appreciate Andrew's help in getting my shit out of there.

Back to Factory, then, to pick up some stuff Andrew wanted to take back to his apartment. He's still pretty reticent about letting anyone in there, and dropped me off at home before taking the junk back to his place. I imagine something like John Doe's apartment in se7en, only with computer manuals and boxes full of twenty year old computer gear.

This is the first day in a while where I've got to sit around doing nothing. Woke up, ate some cereal, watched some TV with Pete (we've been watching season one of Millennium. Read some comics once Pete left for his folks place.

Cleared the last of my shit Andrew and I went and picked up yesterday from the old apartment out of the middle of room . A bunch of stuff I don't need, except for my computer chair.

Nice, lazy day.

Got a headache around 1600, so I took a nap. Got up, watched more Millennium, made some dinner (PB&J, Easy Mac, pepperoncinis; I should have made a salad, but we're out of lettuce and I definitely didn't feel like trooping around anywhere).

And now it's time to watch a couple more eps of yet another show Fox cancelled and maybe read some Y, and then sleep.

It maybe isn't much of a life, but at least I've stopped bleeding out my ass.

Goddamn aliens.

12:54 AM | Life

It really annoys the hell out of me when an application has an "Import" function, but refuses to let you point it at an arbitrary directory.

Say if you're swapping machines for a user, and want to get them off Outlook.
You have to run Outlook first, copy the pst file to the correct location, and then have Thunderbird import. That's asinine.

I realize I could have just used some other tool to convert the pst to mbox and dump the files into the Thunderbird directory, but... why? Why not just let me say "Import THIS file"?


3:16 PM | Systems Administration
August 3, 2004

Has media so affected our perspective that we've lost the ability to live our own lives? When we fight with our loved ones, are we actually displaying true emotion, or acting out the script from last weeks teen angst drama? When we argue with our girlfriends ex-boyfriend, are our words our own or some self-righteous pretty boy so far removed from actual people he may as well be another species?

When we tell her we love her and that it will work out, is that us, or the lines of some craggy forty-something actor with his eyes slitted against a western sunset, grating out chosen words about love and life?

Have our relationships always been so convuluted, so intertwined and complex, or did we just soak it up while in the womb and become acclimated to the idea of it? When did straight-forwardness become rare?

When we walk down the street, watching the people around us, fragments of overheard conversation becoming a torrent of background gossip radiation, is this life? These dramatized overreactions, the thrill of thrusting intimacy into the ears of passing pedestrians; were we always like this, before someone sat down with a pen and thought to themselves, "How can I glamorize this emotion? How can I make this edgy and sexy and make people want to wear it or talk like it or pretend in their head that this is how the world is, just so they can get through their nothing day?"

Have we so lost our way through the maze of commercials and soft drinks and designer clothing that we have no concept of whatever true human interaction might have once meant?

Where do the lies end, and we begin?

How much more of this can I take?

11:40 PM | Life
August 4, 2004

< bda> alsdkjfla;sdjf;lajsdkf
< rjbs> I'm surprised they let that photo leak.
< rjbs> Usually, candidates don't like their secret identities to be known

[via adamk]

9:34 AM | Linkwhore
August 5, 2004

I'm sure Engler posted about this at some point (as he knew what I needed when I was bitching earlier), but: FileMon.

Useful for when you have an application that's writing temp data to some random directory, you have no idea where, but seems to require Admin group privs on the local box.

I hate Windows. But Windows with lsof is slightly less obnoxious.

Sort of.

Many other useful tools on sysinternals as well.

3:06 PM | Systems Administration
August 6, 2004

Sitting at home on a Friday night, coding and eating noodles.

Going to watch In the Mouth of Madness.

Adam is leading a Factory team-building exercise at Intermezzo at the moment, relying on alcohol I suspect to dull the pain.

I think I'll sit here with my Perl and my ramen and pretend I'd rather not be elsewhere.

7:45 PM | Life
August 9, 2004
August 10, 2004

I think I don't hate Will Ferrel any more.

[via themaxx]

9:32 PM | Linkwhore
August 11, 2004

Got bored today and decided to install Solaris 10 beta 5 on some boxes. Keeping in mind that my experiences with commercial UNIX has always left a sour taste in my mouth (IRIX, AIX), and that I have very specific ideas about what UNIX is, you greybeards may want to take this with a shot of J.D. or something. Also keep in mind that this is beta software.

1:19 AM | Systems Administration

Hadn't seen this before, and it reminds me why I love Vonnegut's books so much. (In fact, I have Bluebeard sitting on my To Read shelf still. After I re-read my Mieville books, and his new one, I'll get to that...)

[via panner]

3:36 AM | Linkwhore | Comments (1)
August 12, 2004

Yay for drinking alone.

Vodka out of a whiskey glass, not so awesome.

10:20 <@bda> 916 qtimageser 79.2% 0:23.08 1 36 104 344M+ 2.80M
189M- 1.94G
10:20 <@bda> wtf is that.
10:20 <@bda> Oh.
10:20 <@bda> Jesus fuck.
10:20 <@bda> I love how Mac OS will continue to thumbnail files even after
10:20 <@bda> So unmounting the volume is unpossible.
10:20 <@bda> This is such bullshit.
10:20 <@bda> Finder--
10:21 < mdxi> this is what happens when you put the user first
10:21 <@bda> Yes.
10:21 * bda kills it.

10:28 AM | Systems Administration
August 14, 2004

I keep waiting for FX to pull a Ma Bell and split off into various companies that focus on certain aspects of their original business.


Knowing that somewhere in the world, an episode of Law & Order is playing at any given time, makes the world a little brighter.

11:06 PM | Television
August 16, 2004

The thing about cyberpunk as a genre is that it isn't really about technology. It's about the consequences of technology. Beautifully illustrated in the first real cyberpunk novel, Neuromancer:

"The street finds its own use for things."

The problem with my writing is that while I can come up with some neat ideas, the consequences of those ideas always end up being the most banal, obvious, pathetic things to ever squirm, half-alive, out of someone's imagination.

I can come up with some really good lines, but no cohesive plot, characters that wouldn't know motivation if it shot them in the ass with a riot shotgun. And lately I haven't even been able to do that. I'll decide to practice, just re-write a scene from a movie or a book, take some already done idea and not even spin it, just re-write it in my own words... and I get nothing.

Empty pages.

I grow frustrated with my continued lack of progress on the only dream I've ever had. What's a writer that doesn't write?

Not a fucking writer.

6:47 PM | Writing | Comments (3)
August 17, 2004

So we're a pre-press shop. Everyone uses OS9 or Classic with OS X.

I get a call this morning from one of the operators who tells me that "Classic crashed, and won't start again."

So I go over there and mess with the machine for three or four hours. I copy System Folders from other boxes, none of them get recognized as being bootable.


16:15 < solios> copy FROM the running OS 9 box TO the share.
16:15 < solios> do it the other way around and you'll get Pain in your face.

And that works. OS9 and Classic are happy. Unfortunately all the prefs, serial numbers, etc, from the original System are angry.

So I start copying crap around, becoming more and more annoyed with the situation.

And then Mark, another operator comes back from a smoke and says:

"You know, this used to happen... and we would just copy System Folder:System from another machine and replace the local copy and it would be okay again."

So yeah. I hate computers.

(Also, Norton 7.0 will destroy symlinks in / for OS X. Just a heads up. Fixing them is easy enough: Just re-symlink them from /private. Annoying, but hey. How often do you get to see single-user mode, eh, Mac guy?)

5:18 PM | Systems Administration

I've been down-hearted, baby
Ever since the day we met

9:27 PM | Life
August 18, 2004

Why Specs Matter

[via ralfiboy]

09:38 < mdxi> i agree with the tutorials bit
09:38 < mdxi> the rest is clearly from some bizarro world where software is "finished" and "ships"
09:39 < mdxi> probably involving C++ and Windows

9:36 AM | Linkwhore
August 24, 2004

Mike and I sat down and discussed Archivist for a good four hours today. We nailed down topologies, messaging structure, client authentication methods, and various other things. Tomorrow I need to type it all up and make it understandable. We also came up with valid prototypes that will easily translate into core functionality for the application.

For instance, when you install a new Archivist node, all you copy over is a bootstrap daemon with a message queue. Once the bootstrapper is up, its controller registers its existance and pushes down its config. If this node is supposed to deal with tape control, you configure that via an admin interface, and it'll push the needed code to the node via the bootstrapper (which also deals with daemon management, upgrade/downgrade of code, etc). The bootstrapper forks a copy of itself and sends that child a message telling it what it's supposed to do. Bang, now you have a tape control daemon running.

We also discussed things like replicated read-only databases for public-facing clients, data caches for unreachable nodes (via restricted VPNs, etc), and a good deal of other stuff that we definitely won't need initially but will be easy to implement once the core is in place.

What we're really writing is an event-driven message framework that has the facility to make new functionality trivial to install. This is going to blossom out into a full network management tool.

The biggest problem we ran into was message routing, mainly because I was making it way more complex than it really needed to be. Finally we decided on two types of messaging: direct and policy-based. A direct message will follow a routing table (and isn't something that will ever originate on a client). A policy-based message is a request or status message that is destined for a specific controller that the end-point doesn't know about (for instance, when a client asks for a file to be restored, it doesn't need to know how to contact the tape controller directly: it just needs to know to pass the message to its configured local message exchange, which knows to pass it up based on a defined policy).

The wiggy stuff about messaging, though, is that sometimes you'll get a situation where you're replying to something that the end-point doesn't know about. A status update request from the primary controller to a specific node is a good example... we got around this by defining a message state table for the message exchangers.

All messages from a node are going to get passed to its local message exchange: the client is given a message ID which is passes as part of the message (probably as a REFERENCE declaration) and that MX keeps state for messages that pass through it, so it knows that message ID $x is supposed to get passed back up to MX2 (where it initially came from) as ID $y. (The message IDs should change as they pass through an MX to avoid collisions -- there is a VIA header that will log the route a message takes).

The message format looks unsurprisingly like SMTP, but what simple messaging protocol wouldn't? I could easily envision using something like Postfix with some transport hacks as the messaging system, in fact, but uhm, no. :)

All of the above, and plenty more, needs to be defined in a spec, which I'll hopefully start working on tomorrow. I also need to make the diagrams for the network topologies we came up with (I think there were three, ranging from very simple to pointlessly-complex-but-still-stupidly-doable).

Mike is going to start working on the messaging framework and bootstrap daemon code, and I'm going to re-write the junky web UI I sketched out a couple months ago. Probably I'll just end up re-writing it.

We also need to tack down database schema and some other stuff.

But I'm hopeful. Mike has a lot of experience (ten years of C), and doesn't seem to think anything we're trying to do is all that complicated. I tend to agree, from a philosophical standpoint, as most of it is currently far beyond my skill as a programmer. Apparently that will be changing, at least to some extent.

1:41 AM | Programming | Comments (2)
August 25, 2004


Been waiting AGES for this, it seems.


Oct. 17th!

August 27, 2004

Today has been incredibly awful so far, and shows no sign of letting up. I got into work at 0715 and had run completely out of patience by 0900.

  • The primary fileserver is full. The secondary fileserver started doing this awesome thing where if you tried to get a shared volume list on an OS9 machine, the client would lock. OS X, Finder would freeze. So I poke screw around with netatalk, and determine it's only this one share that's causing the problems. The production share. Of course. Quickly ascertain that there's some filesystem corruption going on and that I'm going to have to rebuild the journal trees. Doing this with reiserfs has always freaked me out so I'm copying all the data (170G) to the tertiary fileserver, which is actually a backup staging box. It has 600G on it, however, so it's doable. So I install netalk on it, and recompile the kernel... and wait. And wait. For this data to copy. This is awesome.
  • About a half hour before I started dealing with that, the billing server blew its root drive. This is a 15 year old machine running UnixWare 3.0. Great.
  • We're moving the rest of the accounting system and apparatus today. This primarily consists of a ten year old DOS/NetWare box and a Linux backup machine which mirrors it. The problem is that accounting is on its own physical network, which is where it should be. But as the new building doesn't have multiple networks in it (ha), I have to run several hundred feet of cable through the ceiling, which is a good twelve feet high. Lovely.

There is more to complain about, but Adam is insisting we go to lunch now.

11:10 AM | Work

I've always wondered about this, and I needed to know this morning.

mount -u -rw /

Muchos gracias to ejp for taking five minutes to read the man page while I was putting out local fires.

11:13 AM | Systems Administration
August 29, 2004

Just got back from the last party at MIchelle's old place. Still drunk. Typing with eyes closeed, head won. Somehow managed to get upstairs. Have hiccips. Bad. Major hippcups.

Apogolize in advance for anything I may have said, or did not say, tonight.

Recall everyone leaving as soon as The Drunkfuck Drexel-related crew entered a room.

Recall sitting on porch with Michelle gods know what sort of nonsense.

Good thing I'm okay with making an ass of myself, yeah?

No idea what idioicy I was spouting. Excellent.

Sat downstairs for twenty minutes after Pete gave me a glass of water before he went to bed and sang along to Everclear.

There is something wrong with me. My life.

The tracks are broken.

The train has fallen.

Why the fuck do I have the death hiccups.

Note: Eric Gallo is funny as shit when plastered.

Note: Michelle is hot.

End transmission.

3:16 AM | Life

Showered. Teeth brushed. Hydrated.

I feel almost human again.


The obnoxious thing is that I really didn't want to drink last night. But something cracked, and I gave up. Not gave in, just up. Internalized nonsense leaking out and infecting my better judgement. Typical.

I suppose, as Eric said earlier this afternoon, we just needed to learn a little more respect for Jeremiah. If merz actually drinks that garbage on a regular basis, he's more insane than he looks. Just looking at a picture of the bottle makes me want to go stick my head in the toilet for another eight hours.

One of the more amusing things about last night is how segregated the party was. All the loud, faced, academic nerds making asses of themselves and talking about feces on one side, with everyone else vacating the premises when we wandered towards them.

I vaguely recall stumbling into a conversation with Nick, Mihai and Pete, where Nick was explaining his research. Christ knows what nonsense I spouted.

I'm really not a fan of drinking. I know this, I knew it last night. I just need to remember, regardless of internal conflicts, what a fucking awful idea it is.

If nothing else, at least I apparently amused the hell out of Pete. That counts for something.

(Also: Eric, you ate chicken, you drunk homo vegan!)

August 30, 2004

Two years ago: "We should replace this. The machine is non-portable, the application does a lot of weird voodoo and we have no good options if it crashes and burns."

One year ago: "Well, it seems to run okay on a local box thanks to compatibilty stuff in Windows, but this is still not good."

Friday: "I hate all of you."

5:12 PM | Work