Computer


So the other day, I needed to drag a window from my secondary monitor to my primary monitor (tv)…

But the secondary was off, so I wouldn’t be able to put my mouse on the window (beucase I couldn’t see it)…

And I didn’t want to get up to turn it on….

So I used VNC to VNC to myself, and did it that way. This means I had a window on my desktop that was my entire computer. So there were 2 copies of everything. And if I moved my mouse pointer inside the VNC window, it would attempt to move my mouse pointer to the same place it was pointing to on the window within.

Sure, it was hard for awhile, fighting the fact that my mouse was trying to be in two places at once.

But in the end, I won.

I got that window dragged. w00t.

Daniel H adds: “I am both appalled and filled with admiration.” (more…)

2001 - computer - Fire - in it's heyday doing IRC

IRC downloading, 2001

Remember IRC? It was the first thing I did when I got on the internet in 1992 at Virginia Tech — and the first time I’d done it legally. Funny stuff you could do with the mIRC IRC client. You could have a custom quit message. For example, you could type:

/quit gotta go to work

and then it would say to everyone else in the channel:

ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (gotta go to work).

Wanting to out-do everyone else, I thought it would be funny to say something offensive to a lot of people. Especially since they can’t kick you from the channel — because you just quit! But I wanted my solution to be technically impressive too, so I scripted up random twisted sentences, by creating some text files that would be pieced together, almost like a Mad-Lib. That way, I could leave, and it would automatically come up with hilarious/crazy/sick/twisted things.

Here are some actual examples:

  1. ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (sold children to pimps (who will make whores out of them), while they slowly bled to death).ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (got a blow job from your fat mom while on the floor of congress).
  2. ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (sold children to cannabalistic African tribes, where they will slowly starve to death)
  3. ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (got a rim job from your fat mom in front of the Queen Of England).
  4. ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (smoked medical marijuana with The Taliban in front of 221 innocent children).
  5. ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (sold children to child pornographers, while they pleaded for their lives).
  6. ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (dropped acid with Ronald Reagan while in the White House).
  7. ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (sold children to black market organ harvesters, while onlookers laughed).
  8. ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (had an intense bondage session with your aunt while watching cartoons).
  9. ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (got a hand job from Mohammad Atta on national television).
  10. ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (sold children to black market organ harvesters, where their spirit will be broken).
  11. ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (spooged all over your raunchy mom in front of 566 innocent children).
  12. ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (sold children to medical laboratories for twisted genetic experiments, where their spirit will be broken).
  13. ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (snorted crystal meth with George Bush while going on a homocidal killing spree).
  14. ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (spanked Mohammad Atta in front of Mohammad Atta’s mother).
  15. ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (smoked P.C.P. with George W. Bush in front of 317 starving Afghan refugees).
  16. ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (took psychedelic mushrooms with Jesus Christ in front of 567 innocent children).
  17. ClintJCL (192.168.0.1) quit the channel (spanked your sister in front of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir).

The possibilities, while not endless, were pretty damn vast.

How did I do this?

I did this by piecing together sentence fragments from text files I created. Sentences followed one of these formats:

  1. sold children $read(thingstosellchidreninto.lst) $+ , $read(sadsentenceendings.lst)
  2. $read(drugtaking.lst) with $read(funnydrugcelebrities.lst) $read(funnysentenceendings.lst)
  3. $read(sexualthingstodowithpeople.lst) $read(funnypeopletohavesexwith.lst_ $read(funnysentenceendings.lst_)
  4. It was also set up so that about 5% of the time, it would make political statements, quote Sabbat lyrics, or Praise “Bob” …. but I’m not including those in this blogpost. This blogpost is about funny things I’ve said dynamically and programatically; not static things I’ve said. :)

I will include the actual contents of the files at the bottom of the post. But here is the list of the files themselves:

  • drugs.lst: a list of drugs (pot, acid, cocaine).
  • drugtaking.lst: a list of drugtaking phrases (injected heroin, dropped acid, smoked pot).
  • Ha! Ha! Overdosing on drugs and trying to kill yourself is funny!!

  • FunnyDrugCelebrities.lst: a list of people/entities that are amusing to think about doing drugs. (The Pope, Barbara Bush, Janet Reno, God).
  • Haha.. Celebrities are funny to do drugs with. Aren't Sid & Nancy funny? Ha ha.

  • FunnyPeopleToHaveSexWith.lst: it’s what the filename sounds like. (Your mom, your sister, your dead grandmother’s corpse, etc).

    Funny to have sex with

  • FunnySentenceEndings.lst: Tacked on to the ends of sentences to make them funnier. (while in the whitehouse, on national television, in front of 22 cops, in front of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir)

    everything's funnier in front of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!

  • SadSentenceEndings.lst: This could have been in the same file as FunnySentenceEndings, but I randomly decided whether it would be funny or sad. Sad ones included “while they begged for death’s sweet release”, “while they slowly bled to death”, “where they will spend the rest of their lives in misery”, and such.

    sentence endings so sad...they're funny

  • SexualThingsToDoWithPeople.lst: A list of sex acts (had anal sex with, had an intense bondage session with, etc)

    No... Really... Weird sex acts ARE FUNNY!!!

  • …And the most twisted filename of all: ThingsToSellChildrenInto.lst (sweatshops, sexual slavery, etc – check out the full file below)

    Postcard - 2 boys smoking

    Sell them into smoking advertising! HA HA!

  • HatedPeople.lst: Only used from within FunnyPeopleToHaveSexWith.lst (because it’s funny to have sex with hated people) and FunnySentenceEndings (because it’s funny to do things in front of the mom’s of hated people). Osama Bin Laden was in this list. I really could have made this a nice, long list if I’d really tried.

And now, past the jump, the contents of the files themselves… But first, a Sloth!

_Sloth_

This is actually related to the discussion. Back in the IRC days, my name was _Vengeance_. Needing to win wars against other people's scripts, I ended up running several other clients, including _Wrath_, _Sloth_, and _Avarice_. Well, someone sent this sloth.jpg file to me randomly once! Paranoid people will never experience the joys that can be had by automatically accepting unattended file transfers from strangers!

(more…)

Had a dream that re-visited a real-life problem I’d been trying to crack for a couple decades: Converting my Apple2 software/disks to PC format.

This was always impossible in real-life because PC drives were not capable of reading Apple2-format disks. But around 2004 or so, someone finally figured it out: You need a DOS box with *two* 5.25″ floppy drives (and a harddrive). The software splits the various signals between the two floppy drives, tricking the PC drive into using [incomplete?] signals to actually be able to read an Apple2 disc.

Again, this is all a real-life issue. I’d been grabbing dead computers from parents’ and such, but none tended to have 5.25″ drives anymore–everyone switched to 3.5″ drives in the early 1990s, and it’s 20 frickin’ years later.

So anyway, in the dream, I was trying to crack this problem again. I was home at my parents’ house… It felt like a college summer-vacation or something, and perhaps it was. Perhaps the dream-within-the-dream was in the mid-1990s. I’m unsure of the barrier between the two, other than that I knew it was a dream within a dream. Our Apple2 had a modem, and I decided to call some BBSes like I used to on college summer breaks in real-life.

This is the point that I should have realized this was a dream: Had I had a modem on my Apple2, I would have been able to, in theory, use 2 disk drives, imaging the 1st disk onto the 2nd drive, then uploading the image to a PC of mine, using 2 phone lines (which we had). This is actually something I asked my dad for in real-life many many times, and he always refused, thus me still having dreams about the prospect 20 years later.

So anyway, in dreamland, I get on the Apple2 and call some BBSes and such. At some point, I wake up from the dream-within-a-dream, and am just in the dream, which is in the present (2012), and not in the mid-1990s. In the dream, I have woken up from the dream-within-the-dream, and realize I need to get cracking on making this conversion project finally happen.

So in this outer-layer dream, I realize that I need to research the software required to do that. On the software’s web-page, there are a few sample diskette images… Including one uploaded by my friend Angel, which had something to do with bypassing an interrupt on the Apple2. Despite the fact that I am using http:// to contact a webpage (still on an Apple, for some reason), a sysop breaks into sysop chat with me, just like in the BBS days. We talk about the problem, and I probably talk about the fact that I can only find one 5.25″ floppy drive, and haven’t been able to find another.

I wake up — this time, in real life. (The rest of this post is all in real life.)

I am quite agitated that this problem still has not been solved. I realize I can’t get back to sleep while thinking about this, and leave Carolyn in bed to go tinker with our old 486 DOS box that I have. It has a 5.25″ floppy drive and a 3.5″ floppy drive and a 1G harddrive. It has 8M (megs, not gigs) of RAM: 1/1000th of the ram of computers these days typically have. It has a turbo button. The harddrive has jumpers in THREE different places. I try to boot up, but it fails. We still have one “real” computer with a floppy drive: Carolyn’s 2004ish computer, which is still her primary computer. I download a bootable floppy image from http://bootdisk.com, and “burn” it to the disk. The 3.5″ drive still doesn’t boot. I go to our spare-hardware bookshelf, looking through my stack of 8 or so discarded 3.5″ floppy drives. Since computer fashion was white in the 1990s, and black in the late 2000s, I pick the only black drive, assuming that it’s newer. This one correctly boots up the floppy.

I still can’t access the harddrive. I take it out, and painstakingly write down the number of heads, cylinders, sector size, jumper configurations: Taking up a whole sheet of paper. I mess with a few configurations and can’t get the drive to be recognized. Finally, *while the computer is on*, I plug in the power to the harddrive, because I’ve passed the point of caring anymore. A big blue spark makes me jump, and shuts the power of the computer off: I overloaded the power supply, shutting everything down. This can be doom for a computer, but instead, I try booting up again, and for the first time, it works! IT’S ALIVE!

And it’s even been Clintified: It has a bootup 1-key menu to run cool programs like AcidWarp, Plaswave, and LSDino. I will use this to run a screen during parties!

So now all I need is a 2nd 5.25″ floppy drive. So I was going to a party the day I woke up with this dream… And decided to write on the wall of the party event, “If anyone has a 5.25″ floppy drive that they could give me… It would really make my day.”

And then…. a cool dude named Tom actually brought a drive, and gave it to Paul, who gave it to me!

So I got to go home with the drive I needed THAT DAY… Because of a fucking dream!

This is like the most productive dream I’ve ever had in my life!

''Dreams... They're the hurricanes that wash the soulfilth from the superdome of our nightminds.'' --Xavier:Renegade Angel

“Dreams… They’re the hurricanes that wash the soulfilth from the superdome of our nightminds.”
- Xavier:Renegade Angel (more…)

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] This post is both a movie review, and a review of a BBS I used to frequent. This is kind of a weird post.

HAIKU REVIEW: Where The Wild Things Are:
The BBS was better [*personal explanation at the bottom of the post]
than the dumb movie.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Doormat mom forces us all to sit through romp in brat’s imagination.

PEOPLE: Directed by Spike Jonze, writer of many Jackass episodes and movies, and director of Adaptation and Being John Malkovich. Starring an annoying kid, Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich), and various voices used for the creatures – Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under redhead daughter, Psycho Beach Party), James Gandolfini (The Sopranos)

QUIRKS: Based on a book. Which has like, no story. I got it around age 30 but have still never read it.

VISUALS: NOT the visual masterpiece you’d expect. I watched it in 1080p, but still.

The CGI faces were only because the puppets didn’t work right, but honestly, I’m having a hard problem imagining puppets looking as good. I saw hints of people in the characters — individual features that reminded me of actors, without me really knowing who. Kind of like the effect from the movie Beowulf. The goat really reminded me of Seth Green, too, for some reason. I’m not sure if puppets could really give the human realism to the expressions.

MORALS: 1) Hey brat: You should realize you’re a little brat. 2) Don’t have kids.

BAD STUFF: Watching a bratty kid for 2 hours. I was warned of this. I thought it was just the haters hatin’, as usual. But they were right.

Every adaptation of anything to a movie [including a previous movie] is hated on pretty badly. The haters would be much more persuasive if they only hated sometimes, instead of all of the time. Instead, I just kind of ignore it, unless a good reason or explanation is given. I didn’t listen to them, and for once, they were right and I agree with ‘em. I *wanted* to like this so much more than I did. I really wanted to give it 3 stars, just for sating my curiosity on what a Where The Wild Things Are movie might look like. Even Carolyn could only barely give it 3 stars, but alas, I could not. I’m not even sure what my specific problem was with it: It was just kind of dull and pointless, even with the fantasy elements.

CONCLUSION: Disappointment. Such disappointment.

RATINGS:
Clint: Netflix: 2/5 stars. IMDB: 5/10. Really wanted to rate it higher, but… Just couldn’t.
Carolyn: Netflix: 2.6/5 stars (lowest possible 3-star movie). IMDB: 6/10.

The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 7.5/10, Netflix: 3.8/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was also 3.8/5 stars–how wrong).

RECOMMENDATION: I have no recommendation. This movie seems to be hard to predict whether people will like or not.

SIMILAR MOVIES: Bridge To Terabithia. But Carolyn says it was a much better movie than this one… And I think I agree with that.

MOVIE QUOTE: Judith: “Happiness isn’t always the best way to be happy.”

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Ian loved it. Glen didn’t like it. For once, I agree with his hatin’.

PERSONAL ANECDOTES:

[*] I never heard of Where The Wild Things Are until I was online in the local BBS community in the late 1980s, and encountered a BBS of the same name, run by one Link The Triune. Carolyn was there the whole time, as was her sister, Jeremy Turner, and many other friends who I went on to know in person in college and afterward. It was definitely the best social BBS in Prince William County.

It was so popular that you would often have to auto-dial tons of times just to not get a busy signal. After all, it was one-at-a-time use back then. Imagine a webpage you can only go to if nobody else has it on their screen. And being restricted to connecting only to those pages in your county. [Unless you had ways around long distance fees. <sly grin>] The one good thing was that long distance rates meant you weren’t competing with everyone in the country; just those in your area code. Nonetheless, this BBS was a constant busy signal because of how good the messages and users were.

I eventually convinced everyone to adopt an offline reader so that less phone time was used per-user. Instead of being connected while you read and type all your messages, you simply connected for few minutes to upload the messages you wrote, and download new messages. Kinda analogous to POP email retrieval. This actually meant that 5 people could login in a row, download new messages, log off, and all be typing at once! Pretty soon, the BBS was getting messages at a faster rate than if someone was connected 100% of the time typing as fast as they could. It was tough to keep up!

I don’t really remember a lot of the specifics from back then; it was 20 years ago. I remember I’d have to catch up and reply to various things I wanted to reply to, so it basically meant that in every message section, I’d post about 3-10 times in a row each visit. Massively-deep quoting. Macros. QModem and then Telemate. Line noise. 16 colors of text. IBM extended ASCII characters. ANSI. So many things that just don’t come into play these days. Everything’s been normalized into this mundane interface. Facebook is like everyone having their own BBS, networked with everyone else’s BBS: But with no control, and absolute homogeny in interface. It’s a fascist dictator that gets things done efficiently. But BBSes were like cowboys in the wild west. Very good times.

I have set up a few of people’s “goodbye” messages that they wrote when the board shut down. They can be found at:
http://clint.sheer.us/bbs/wtwta.
They include goodbyes from sysop Link The Triune (Jerry H), Magic Mist (Carolyn), Satan (me), Trailblazer (Dave Pi), Stiletto (John Sch), The Screaming Ogre (Mike P), Stray Toaster, Jam Jobe (Jeff N), Punkin, and Ditto.

There is also a subfolder called “ANSIs“, for some of the ANSI art that I converted to PNG files. I’ve included these in this post, but they are slightly shrunken down here.

As for the book? I never did read it. Eventually, we were gifted some stuffed animals from it, and one came with a tiny (2-inch?) version of the book. I still never bothered to read it.

Maybe now I will… Because it probably won’t be nearly as annoying as the movie.

I think this ANSI captures the twisted mindset some of us had at the time (and still do):

OH HERE’S A GREAT STORY!

There was another BBS, run by a Dave Pi aka Trailblazer, named after the ALL (ex-Descendents) album, called The Paisley Underground:

It was one of the few 301 BBSes I called, since I couldn’t, technically, call 301 without incurring massive fees. [Special thanks to corporation-that-shall-not-be-named and Fenris Wolf, you know who you are.]

this ANSI has nothing to do with this

There was this user, Batman. He was a really immature kid. And considering most of us were in high school or college around then, it’s saying a lot if EVEN HIGHSCHOOLERS think you’re immature.

As a co-sysop with level 254 access, what did I do? I reduced his access from the standard level 20, to level 19. I created a message base that required level 20 access, where everyone could make fun of him. I then edited his account, to set all his colors to black on black. I then logged his keystrokes, and posted messages [in the message base he couldn't access] showing him hitting keys and trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

This was one of the awesomest ways I ever fucked with someone in my life. Oh, he could see his login prompt. But once he logged in, it was all black on black. And this was the DOS days. It’s not like you could highlight the text and paste it into notepad to read it, like you can nowadays. I don’t even think we had cut and paste back then.

An ANSI was even created in my honor — the only time this ever happened:

Carolyn’s first words to me ever? “Are you Satan?”

Batlamer: “But…But… I’m Batman! Umm… Master of Darkness! er… I’m cool! Honest!”
Me (Satan): “Heh! I’ll change all your colors to black on black and watch the fun!”
Batlamer: “What the?”

This ANSI appears to be about someone, too, but I have no recollection of the story behind it:

Everyone was always obsesses with spam — even before emails and spam emails existed:

In general, the socializing online was much more quaint, stylized, and personable. Nowadays, the giant borg of Facebook has swallowed us all, normalizing our experiences into one common experience with no real separate personality for people. The 2012 way definitely brings more people together in a more technologically efficient way, but the 1988 way was like living as a pioneer in the wild wild west.

Those days shall never be reclaimed, and only those of us that were there will know exactly what it was like. If you haven’t called a Commodore 64 BBS running at 300bps, you haven’t had the full online experience — and never will. If you haven’t  wardialed thousands of numbers looking for hidden BBSes and strange modems, well… I’ve seen a command and control system for a sattelite that I shouldn’t have. You just don’t get to do things like this nowadays. Sigh.

I should probably write more, but I don’t know what to add. Maybe some old members of the BBS will find this post and write some memories. If you do find this, don’t forget to read the goodbye messages everyone left.

(more…)

JOURNAL: Local Woman Applauds Husband’s Progress In Dwarf Fortress

John The Canadien’s blogpost about our long Friday hangout, which includes taco bell anecdotes, reviews of a shitload of cartoons we watched (6 hours), music, and spiel about Dwarf Fortress.

A little bit of everything!

LINK URL: http://igottarambleon.com/2012/03/21/local-woman-applauds-husbands-progress-in-dwarf-fortress

TAGS: personal, journal, hangingOut, JohnTheCanadien, MarkI, Clint, Carolyn, cartoons, reviews, AdultSwim, Fox, Bob’sBurgers, FamilyGuy, TheClevelandShow, Queen, AmericanDad, SouthPark, Unspervised, TheSimpsons, Simpsons, DwafFortress

Stomp on ducks and win a free penis, you say? What does that mean?

20090630 - Britt's birthday dinner - Sampan restaurant - rice soup with duck blood - (by Dad) - 3699514037_0de28cf25f_o

Duck blood soup that I ate after the Cave Duck episode of Food Party. No stomping and no peni were involved.

Well, it started as a BBS thing in high school, but it really blossomed as a college thing for me. I have multiple friends to thank for this phrase being etched in my mind.

BBS ANSI art - Link The Triune - mute duck - 19920722

The first is Link The Triune (Jerry H), who ran the BBS named Where The Wild Things Are.

BBS ANSI art - Where The Wild Things Are - Max - with crown - 19910917

This was the most intense and fun message-based BBS I was ever on in my life — my own BBS On Earth As It Is In Hell (which ran after WTWTA went down) finishes in 2nd place for me. And seemed to be the refuge for ex-WTWTA’ers.

On Earth As It Is In Hell - logon ANSI

opening ANSI art to my BBS

I’m not going to go into the whole “not the internet … busy signals … one person at a time” spiel about BBSes, but anyway, there were lots of message boards (forums), and in one of them, the topic of duck penises came up.

1980s - 0268 ducks

WHY AREN'T YOU STOMPING?!?

Apparently, according to this conversation, male ducks’ penises are retracted inside of their body.

But of course, the conversation took a turn for the worse, and ultimately, we realized that if you stomped a duck to death, its penis would come out.

20070408 - dead bird - Misfit's handywork - inverted welcome mat means YOU'RE NOT WELCOME HERE, bird! - 118-1837

Where the FUCK is my free penis?!?! I'm writing my congressman!

Thus, the phrase “Stomp On Ducks And Win A Free Penis” was born.

COLLEGE

The second person to help etch this into my mind was Arlo Guthrie, my dorm roommate for my 3rd semester in college.

Final Tour of Virginia Tech 199705 by Clint - 62 of 94

the door to our dorm room

Final Tour of Virginia Tech 199705 by Clint - 59 of 94

the interior of our dorm room

He had a performance of a piece he wrote, which was a collection of short stories.

He asked me for a title. I provided him with one. Of course I volunteered Stomp On Ducks And Win A Free Penis. It was too great a phrase to die; this meme had to reproduce.


Valerie instructs us on the proper way to stomp a duck penis.

I didn’t realize he was going to make me stand up and tell everyone its origin. I’m really bad a public speaking. I think I was full of adrenaline, and then pretty much shaking as I had to address everyone.

20100221 - Dirk's wake - GEDC1568 - Clint

NOOOOO!!!!!

And thus, another 50 people had that phrase stuck in their head for awhile.

Ultimately, I found it on my harddrive and emailed it to him. He had lost his files, and I had found mine. ARLO.DOC or somesuch thing. Opened it up, nice to see what it was.

When talking about it in email, he said: “I mentioned this to my wife recently. Her response was something to the effect of, “I wouldn’t have dated you in college.” She’s right.”

Postcard - Post Modern Parents - talking about all the drugs and sex their child is about to do

College.

Anyway, I recently realized that if you Googled the phrase, Google came up with nothing. I immediately tweeted it so that google would have it. And now I’m writing up the long explanation, for posterity. The End. (more…)

Another old computer story. During the 2 Virginia Tech years that I lived in Pritchard Hall, I ran a BBS on the data lines they provided to the dorm. (If you don’t know what a BBS is, click the word BBS for an explanation. This was how people socialized online before the internet came about.)

B&B - SubGeniuses - Bob Bob Bob

Sample BBS advertisement for a SubGenius BBS. Good luck finding a Flying Spaghetti Monster BBS ad. Haha.

My BBS‘s name was On Earth As It Is In Hell, named after a live Samhain bootleg 7-inch vinyl I bought at Smash Records, itself named after lyrics from The Misfits song Earth A.D.

On Earth As It Is In Hell - logon ANSI

On Earth As It Is In Hell login screen. No graphics here, this is all text with ANSI color codes.

It was the most popular message board in Virginia Tech during the 1st of the 2 years I ran it, though during the 2nd year, the internet began to really take off, and lowered my usage. I can’t imagine what the World Wide Web would have done to my BBS; that didn’t come about until I stopped running it.

On Earth As It Is In Hell - ASCII zip comment made from ANSI login screen

On Earth As It Is In Hell login screen, ZIP-file comment version

ANYWAY, the software was WWIV, which I had paid $50 to license and modify the C source code to. I’d spent my whole summer after graduationg high school modifying the BBS code, so that it would be ready for deployment when I got to college.

19930805 - Fish Tank BBS - Dave Nelson was the sysop

My friend Dave N's BBS's ad. He ran WWIV, and together we used obscure modem protocols that nobody else used to become the first gateway for outside messages to reach the Virginia Tech BBS scene. We had nationally syndicated message boards, with his BBS being my BBS's contact point. I was the only BBS in Virginia Tech to achieve this. We had WWIV "email addresses", where we could be contacted internationally -- long before we had real email addresses (which was 1992).

(side-note: It really didn’t help that my parents pulled the pointless bullshit of disallowing me from taking my own computer to college, citing that I “wouldn’t have enough time” to use it, which was very typical bullshit, and completely false. Of course they insisted on buying the $3,000 DEC Alpha station that I said was unnecessary…and that computer was more of a timewaster than anything. Four hours to figure out how to compile Nethack, when you could download it and run it on a PC without compilation? Funk dat!)

blacklights are cool .. so is nethack .. 106-0630_IMG

Nethack being properly played on Carolyn's PC -- no compiler-fu knowledge necessary! Unix is great, but I've got other things to do, like USING my computer instead of tinkering with it.

I was always a mischief maker online — and still am to this day.

I got my first death threats within a year of getting online, in 1988. I got assaulted several times, including while sleeping at my best friend’s house, and while waiting in line for a Testament concert in 1990. At least once, I couldn’t return to my own dorm room. But as the saying goes — “Though they paint the wall to stop my pen, the shithouse strikes again!”

20050723 - Clint cut himself shaving - 100-0005 - Clint bleeding, funny face

Fortunately, I was never assaulted THIS badly. But I do suck at shaving...

I had certainly pulled my share other mean tricks before, as depicted in this ANSI art about me, created by Where The Wild Things Are sysop Jerry Hinn:

This guy named Batman was so lame. My handle was Satan. I used my high access to change his colors to black on black, then created a message board he didn't have access to, and posted the logfiles of him flailing around the BBS, unable to access anything, typing in the darkness of black-on-black text. lulz!

FINALLY, I GET TO WHAT THE SUBJECT IS TALKING ABOUT

I’d pulled my share of mean tricks, and this was another. It was a code modification called DELAYED USER DELETION.

Rather than deleting a user, you simply set his access level to -1, or some other technical fudge. The modified code then checked the user’s access level when they logged on. If it was -1, it would display a message to them, and then delete their account. In this way, I had the technical assurance of getting THE LAST LAUGH.

20091231 - New Year's Eve Chili Cook-Off - Clint - lurking - (by Parthena) - 4236959431_56ce3968f6_b - 2 - original version

Beware--I always get the last laugh.

But that’s not enough. I had to add insult to injury. I used an ANSI art of a big middle finger as my closing message.

Mark + Mask + middle fingers 104-0456_IMG

...and the horse you rode in on!

I also tacked on 4,096 Control-G’s to the end.

Remember Control-G? It’s the beep character.

Back in the DOS days, beeps were loaded into some sort of buffer, and could not be stopped. You had to wait it out. And you could barely type or use your computer or get any responsiveness whatsoever when this happened.

1998ish - Clint's room - screens & clutter - 1

My equipment shall defeat yours!

By flooding their computer with literally thousands of beeps, I wasn’t just deleting them. I was filling their room with loud noises that would bother whoever else was around, AND I was forcing them to have to physically reach for their power switch and turn their computer off. It was my final FUCK YOU to anyone I deleted. Hopefully I woke up their roommates, and they had to get up out of their chair to turn their computer off. HA HA.

best...reboot...ever - A-Bit modified BIOS replaces EPA logo with pot leaf - 112-1288_IMG

Have fun rebooting, assholes!....... I bet you guys don't even know how to modify a BIOS logo...... pfft......

Years later, I ran into people at a party who had been deleted from my BBS. But they refused to tell me who they were. Hahaha.

I wonder if they got hit by the Control-G-bomb??

20070113 - Clint's 33rd Birthday party - 109-0974_Ben - after being forceably subdued

Most assholes I run into at parties do not come from my BBS past.

(more…)

Yup. I got kicked off a multi-line paid chat BBS around 1990. I was the first in the county, as this BBS was the first in the county. YAY NEW HORIZONS!

B&B - SubGeniuses - Bob Bob Bob

It's a rare thing to find a random picture containing 3 loves of my life: J.R. "Bob" Dobbs & The Church Of The SubGenius, BBSes, and Beavis & Butt-head.

Two things you need to know about for this story: 1) BBSes, 2) JIVE.com.

1) Back in the pre-internet days, there were these things called BBSes. I’m not going to explain it every time I post about it, but it was way more rewarding than the internet.

On Earth As It Is In Hell - logon ANSI

the opening ANSI to my BBS

It was, however, very sparse. There’s only so many people online in your calling area, and when you can only use a BBS one person at a time, it takes awhile for things to happen.

Imagine having to read a forum on a webpage where, 99% of the time, you would get a 404 NOT FOUND error — because someone else was reading it at the same time.

Imagine having to reload that webpage throughout the day, hoping to get a chance when the page will actually load, and give you a chance to read and write on it. That’s what BBSing was like, metaphorically.

Also, imagine the page loaded slower than how fast you could read. Furthermore, everyone you met was guaranteed to be local, so this made it “creepy” in ways the internet isn’t. I got to be assaulted multiple times in real life, at the mall, while sleeping at my best friends’ house, at a concert… I got death threats phoned in. I’ve called police both in Prince William County and at Virginia Tech. BBSes are nice and cozy — everyone is within a few miles of you.

Check out this scare piece on BBSes, probably written around 1990.

19930805 - Fish Tank BBS - Dave Nelson was the sysop

Dave N's old BBS add, GIF format - very advanced for the time :)

So anyway, the year was around 1989. The county was Prince William County, VA. The first multi-phoneline BBS, Info*Share (703-803-8000), emerged. It was a chat board. That’s all it was. Call, and go into channels in chat (there was usually only 1), like in IRC.

2001 - computer - Fire - in it's heyday doing IRC

IRC was around, but I never did it at home until over 10 years later

You paid per the minute, too. But I believe I got a 1 year, or maybe lifetime membership for $30. That’s how much I wanted to use the computer to talk to interesting people. The people I met in meatspace weren’t nearly as interesting as the people I met in cyberspace. And the best part is, I got all that money refunded to me in the end!

1993 - Jeremy's Party - 02

BBS gathering in 1993

2) JIVE.COM. The other component to this story is JIVE.COM. (No, jive.com is not a website. In 1988, .COM was an executable extension, like .EXE. JIVE.COM and JIVE.EXE would mean the same thing).

So anyway, there was this program called JIVE.COM. It was, basically, a racist comedy program to convert text to “jive”, like the “jive” language featured in the movie Airplane.

If you want to try it out, download it here. The file’s date is 10/25/1986. My computer won’t run it anymore, unless I use DosBox, which doesn’t support copy and paste, so I can’t provide a sample of the output. The closest thing I could find on the web is the Dialectizer, but you need to change the dropdown from “Redneck” to “Jive”. It’s NOT the same conversion algorithm, though. Jive.com would chainge every exclaimation mark to “Slap mah fro!”. It was ridiculous.
20100807 1404 - Cape Cod - on plane - cockpit - IMG_2206

Airplane is a hilarious, 5-star comedy. AND DON'T CALL ME SHIRLEY.

So anyway, I happened to have a good understanding (for a kid my age) of input/output redirection, and I knew my modem was on the COM2: port. So I had the brilliant idea of piping the entire chat room through jive.com, by using the command:

JIVE <com2: >com2:

Of course, I had to drop to DOS from my BBS program, because you could only run one program at a time back then. So I didn’t get the luxury of seeing what happened during those 5 minutes that Jive redirected all of Info*Share’s output back into Info*Share, converted into Jive.

20090118 - cleaning house - 174-7497 - computer cards

these huge outdated cards I threw away in 2009 were obsolete by the late 1990s, and probably not even manufactured yet at the time of this story

I didn’t get to see the flooding of the channel I caused. One of Prince William County‘s first denial of service attacks. Nobody could chat for those 5 minutes, because anything typed would cycle through my computer, come out as jive, go to the channel, come back to me, get converted to jive again, creating an infinite loop.

I stopped after 5 minutes. Some people thought it was funny. A few people were pissed. I got kicked off, and refunded my money, which meant that I spent a whole summer having more fun than I otherwise would have had for free.

And became the first user in Prince William County to be kicked off a pay BBS. This was before the internet or AOL was available to people. This was back in the CompuServe days… I like to think I’m a pioneer in techno-anarchy :)

20070909 - just got Beavis - IMG_3554 - Clint, Beavis, computing

NO MICE BACK THEN. So much easier nowadays.

(more…)

Moving files-that-I-wouldn’t-mind-losing to new drive as we speak. New total stats (less 80G from 1999 computer in bedroom that is only turned on a couple days a year):

    Total Usable Space:  12,177,246,543,872  11340.9G   11.08T
    Total  Used  Space:   9,678,221,062,144   9013.5G    8.80T
    Total  Free  Space:   2,499,025,481,728   2327.4G    2.27T
Percentage Free (Full):                        20.52%  (79.48% full)

^ Generated using the “free” command (“free c: d: e: f: g: h: etc”), piped through “frpost.pl”, a perl script that I use to postprocess the free command, giving gigabyte/terabyte conversions, and a multi-drive total at the bottom. Go past the jump for the code to that perl script, it’s quite useful for prettying up the output of the “free” command. (more…)

I seem to have invented a new kind of trolling. It’s called winning.

Dominion is won by whoever has the most victory points (estates, duchys, provinces, and colonies) when the game ends. The game ends when either all the colonies or provinces are gone, or when 3 different cards in the game are completely gone.

Board Game Meetup 6 year anniversary cake

Dominion Province card cake

 

So yea. This guy got mad at me for buying the provinces so quickly, and also mad at me for buying 3 different cards out while I was ahead and winning. It wasn’t til the 3rd game that we had a full, long game. He beat me by 1 point because I lost track and ended the game a turn too early. But it was funny — he still got all mad at me for winning! Here’s the log: (more…)

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 160,000 times in 2010. If it were an exhibit at The Louvre Museum, it would take 7 days for that many people to see it.

 

In 2010, there were 542 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 2668 posts. There were 17 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 1mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was December 4th with 928 views. The most popular post that day was MEDIA: AUDIO: Windows custom sounds I chose.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were flickr.com, facebook.com, en.wikipedia.org, Google Reader, and google.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for james hetfield, garfield, celtic frost, pubic hair, and celtic.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

MEDIA: AUDIO: Windows custom sounds I chose December 2009
4 comments

2

COMEDY: MUSIC: Metallica: More James Hetfield bashing! September 2008
10 comments

3

CONCERTS: Two I never thought I’d see in my life: CARNIVORE & CELTIC FROST September 2006
7 comments

4

COMEDY: Pubic Hair August 2008
27 comments

5

LINKS: Garfield comedy, RIAA lawsuits help musicians about as much as prozac helps depressed people, overly-harsh punishments February 2008
2 comments

I hit 800,000 views today. (23 days after my predicted 30-day window).
I hit 700,000 on 1/21/2010
. (17 days before my predicted 30-day window).
I hit 600,000 on 7/7/2009. (within 1 week of vague “June” prediction).
I hit 500,000 on 12/4/2008. (no prediction)
I hit 400,000 on 5/24/2008. (27 days past prediction)
I hit 300,000 on 2/13/2008. (1 day before prediction)

So:
300K-400K took 3.5 months,
400K-500K took 6 months,
500K-600K  took 7 months,
600K-700K took 6 months.
700K-800K took 7.5 months.

Slowest 100,000 in awhile; I’m only getting ~450 hits a day. Things are slowing down a bit — people don’t like movie reviews mixed in with political links. The big decline started around when I started reviewing every movie I watched. Or maybe Google lowered my rank. At this rate of decline, maybe 800K-900K will take a good 8 months? That would put my prediction for hit #900,000 at around 4/28/2011 plus or minus 15 days. We’ll see what happens. I’ve been playing this game for awhile, but it’s getting harder to predict the future!

Monthly blog stats
^older snapshot of monthly blog stats – 15,836 is for  Jan, 2009
newer 8/2010 snapshot below:

remember when my blog was more popular? ;)

Moving files-that-I-wouldn’t-mind-losing to new drive as we speak. New total stats (less 80G from 1999 computer in bedroom that is usually turned off):

    Total Usable Space: 10,655,142,125,568   9923.4G    9.69T
    Total  Used  Space:   7,471,858,606,080  6958.7G    6.80T
    Total  Free  Space:   3,183,283,519,488  2964.7G    2.90T
Percentage Free (Full):                        29.88%  (70.12% full)

^ Generated using the “Free” command (“free c: d: e: f: g: h: etc”, I have a “fr.bat’ that is basically free followed by every valid drive letter), and then passed through to “frpost.pl”, a perl script that I use to postprocess the free command, giving gigabyte/terabyte conversions, and a multi-drive total at the bottom. Go past the jump for the code to that perl script, it’s quite useful for prettying up windows output to get a nice total like this.

(more…)

Ohhh NetHack… One of the most important and influential (it inspired Diablo, and countless spin offs) PC games of all time. It is basically Dungeons & Dragons for the PC. Yet despite being so influential, it is itself a variant of Hack, which is a variant of Rogue. But it was the variant that kicked ass enough to stick around for over 20 years.

How I love you, NetHack. How I hate you, NetHack. The only PC game from the 1980s that I still occasionally play today, over 22 years later. The only game I ever played where every letter of the alphabet did something different — for both capital and lowercase. And then some.

blacklights are cool .. so is nethack 106-0629_IMG
Carolyn
plays Nethack in 2002 (VGA tile style).

The only game I ever opened the EXE file up with with a hex editor and manually paged through the entire binary, reading all the strings of game events, and realizing that I would never, ever experience everything the game had to offer. It was just too much.

You may change your appearance — from ASCII, to extended 8-bit ASCII, to VGA tiles, to isometric 3-D to proper 3-D renderings — but you are still the same Nethack. The same damned, frustratingly impossible-for-me-to-win Nethack.


ASCII Nethack.

Now, beyond the fact that NetHack is an incredibly complex that fills one with a sense of wonder, one has to also consider that this game came to its existence in the great information blackout known as “BEFORE THE INTERNET”.

Well, there was an internet back then, but the common man did not use it, or even have access to it. I began playing in 1987 or 1988, when the 600K binary file – smaller than a 1 megapixel camera image – took up 6% of the family’s 20-meg harddrive. There was NO INFORMATION back then. You heard things from TV (and they didn’t talk about computer games), word of mouth (nobody cared about computers back then), or BBSes. And BBSes were, of course, a wild west for information seekers. The internet is tame by comparison. You’d fight to get a tiny bit of information, then you’d hold onto it as tight as you can.

So Nethack was quite mysterious. There were no forums. There was no way to reach the internet. And calling local BBSes, one at a time, dealing with busy signals, leaving messages for the next caller — didn’t exactly yield a lot of info.

So it was this mysterious game. I never knew that you COULD win until the internet came along. I never really ran into other people who knew about it, or played. Not unless I talked to someone who was as similarly ahead of the tech curve as I was, and those people were few, far between, and had a wide array of interests. Even today, according to WikiPedia, “fans of NetHack consider an ascension without having read spoilers very prestigious; the achievement is so difficult that some question whether it has been or can be accomplished.”


Extended 8-bit ASCII Nethack.

When I finally got on the internet, I was the only human being I personally knew to use it until I went to Virginia Tech to study Computer Science. (And no, I wont say how. There weren’t ISPs back then, and I used a modem. People back then used programs to call WarDialers to call every phone number sequentially. I WarDialed for an hour a night some months.)

I looked hard for the “net” in nethack. I poured over newsgroups, but there still wasn’t much talk about the NET in it. I knew what networking was, and wanted to play a networked D&D game with someone. Obviously NetHack had to be multi-player — it has the word NET in it, for chrissakes!


VGA tile Nethack.

I eventually found out there were telnet servers that hosted NetHack. You could telnet to an address (this was way before the web was invented) and play Nethack there. I must have telnet’ed to every NetHack server on the planet. I was positive I would find another person in one of them. It had NET in the fucking name!


Early GL “barely 3-D” 3-D implementation. More like VGA tiles, but with fancier tiles.

Even once the web came around, I would, every few years, google around to see if anyone had perhaps developed a port that would let multiple people play at once. I’d think the game much more winnable if Carolyn could be at my side, instead of my cat. But still… IT NEVER EXISTS! NO MATTER HOW MUCH I WANT IT TO EXIST, IT NEVER WOULD!!!! GODDAMNIT I WANT TO PLAY!!!


3-D isometric Nethack (Vulture’s Eye). 3-D, but stuck at the same angle, causing things to be blocked from view, even though they wouldn’t be blocked from view in the original version.

Oh, if only I could go back, and tell young Clint, “This is Future Clint! Don’t look for the ‘net’ in NetHack! It’s a waste of your time!” Or if only I could go back and encourage some of the hardcore developers in the 1980s and 1990s to actually make a multi-player version of this!

Alas, I doubt this will ever happen. But at least Nethack continues to be played, even today. There’s Android and iPhone versions, but the Android has got to be better. Since every letter capital and lower does something different, it simply would be faster to play it with a real phone.

Anyway, that’s my sad childhood computer game fantasy story :) It was a FAIL.



“Proper” (rotatable, can see everything properly) 3-D Noegnut Nethack.

You can also read people’s Nethack experiences in the Nethack newsgroup, rec.games.roguelike.nethack — especially the official faq. Even today, people will post about seeing things they’ve never seen in the game. That’s just how awesome Nethack is!

Download NetHack at the official page.

For more pictures, check out the Nethack tag and Nethack photopool on Flickr, or do a Google Images search for Nethack.



Very large Nethack – “I said wallet sized, not wall-sized!”


Very small NethackiPhone.


Very small Nethack – Better phone implementation.

20101002 - too many NethacksToo many Nethacks!


Nethack humor.


Harder-to-read Nethack humor (click for larger image).


Nethack humor more people can understand than usual.


More humor.

For more pictures, check out the Nethack tag and Nethack photopool on Flickr, or do a Google Images search for Nethack.
(more…)

OPENING BRAG

I was always one who did things first on their computer.

I was the first human being I knew to get online via BBSes (using a dumb terminal, not a computer), AND on the internet (via illegal hacking; special thanks to local wardialers).

I was the first human being I knew to have his computer talk, or store music digitally (VOC file of 16 second Descendents song in ~1990, baby! MP3 wasn’t invented yet!);

I was the first human being I knew to use a social networking site (SixDegrees–not ONE person answered my friend requests. People didn’t understand the potential of the concept, and now almost every one of them is on Facebook);

I’also m pretty sure I was the first human being I knew to use Google (at least, I remember emailing my whole addressbook to tell them about this new search engine that beat the pants off of Altavista and Lycos. But perhaps I heard about it from one of my colleagues).

I was also the first human being I know to have any semblance of a buddy list — because Windows chat programs hasn’t been invented yet. Not to my knowledge. I did it by cobbling together the unix finger command via a cron job with it’s output filtered by grep.

HOW? Step 1: Know the unix ‘talk’ command

Unixphiles probably remember the Unix talk command. Before Facebook chat, before Yahoo Chat, before AOL chat, before ICQ, even before BBS sysop chat — there was the unix talk command:

^ Kinda like that. But without the Windows around it, as you were probably on a dumb terminal connected to a unix server

It allowed you to talk to an email address — since back then, the majority of email addresses were tied to a unix shell account.

Besides IRC and BBSes, this was really the only way to talk to someone else online. And I’ve always been interested in the extra reach online provides; I’m an eccentric person and it’s always been hard to find people like me.

In fact, I met Carolyn on a BBS in 1991 — and it just so happened that she went to my high school. Thus, when we first met over 18 years ago, her first words to me were, “Are you Satan?”, and my first words to her were, “Are you Magic Mist?”

HOW? Step 2: Know the unix ‘finger’ command

finger.jpg

Perverted jokes aside, the unix finger command let you ‘finger’ an account, to see some basic information about it. A very basic finger would, at a minimum, give you a set of information like this:

(I've redacted my IP address from these screenshots.)

And if you edited a local file called “.plan”, you could insert extra information here. Of course I did this, so my finger output was actually longer (insert Futurama finglonger joke here):

(Click any of these images to see them in full size.)

Notice the line that says “On since Wed Dec 23″? That is crucial for step 3.

HOW? Step 3: Know the unix ‘grep‘ command

Grep is one of the single most useful unix commands in existence. I use it EVERY day. It basically returns lines that match what you’re looking for.

I use it to search my phone numbers, as well as to search my filelists so I know where files are. It employs regular expressions, which are a powerful way of matching text. (Ask Vicky about her regular expression skirt…)

Basically, if you grep for something that isn’t there, it will return nothing, like so:

Yes: The finger output above did not contain the word "snuffleupagus", so there was no output.

But if you grep for something that IS there, like “On since”, it will return the line that matches that:

"On since" appears in my unix finger output, so that line is displayed.

So now we have a command that:

  • Displays a line of text if an account is online (because finger returns a line saying “on since”)
    - or -
  • Displays nothing if an account is offline (because finger does not return a line saying “on since”)

It looks like we have a way of spitting a line out to the screen if someone is online. But how do we automate this?

HOW? Step 4: Know unix cron jobs

Cron jobs are simply unix’s way of scheduling tasks. I wont go into the details, as they are quite fugly.

But basically, you can run programs at any interval you want. I used to use it to send emails to myself every hour during business hours reminding me to do my anti-carpal tunnel hand exercises. It’s well known enough that there are shirts of it available at Zazzle.com:

free advertising

So, I simply set up a cron job to finger specific email addresses and grep them for “on since” every minute. If the person was online, the text would simply appear on your screen — wherever your cursor was:

Sample line of output.

This could mess up what you were doing — displaying a line of text over your email inbox, or over a file you were editing; so you would just hit Control-L (the refresh key) to erase the text and fix the screen. It was an ugly kludge, but it worked. And obviously you might want to grep the line containing their username out as well, so you know who is online.

In my case, I was only monitoring ONE person, so I didn’t need to know who it was.

She eventually sent me photographs of her boobs in the postal mail, so I’d say this system was a success.

boobs-as-motivation.jpg

They say all significant hardware advances are due to war, while all significant software advances are due to porn.

I eventually found her on Facebook, but I’m honestly not sure if she remembers me. And before anyone asks, she was, and is, quite attractive. In fact, between this girl’s photographs, and 18 years and counting with Carolyn, I’d say most of the sex I’ve gotten in my life has been a direct result of my technical prowess. Rowwwr…. Am I sexy yet?

WHAT WAS THE POINT OF ALL THAT?

No point. (Made you read! Haha!)

I just thought it would be neat to document something unique that I did in the early 1990s. I’m sure other people had this idea and implemented it too — but *I* didn’t know these people. Back then, people weren’t generally connected online — the world wide web didn’t exist yet. People had to come up with innovations on their own. So if anyone else ever did this as well — or something similar — I’d love to hear about it.

Old school computing had so much charm compared to nowadays. Nowadays, everything has been done. I just spend time talking about politics, blogging, and uploading photos. Back then? It was big a challenge just to get your words to reach ONE person, let alone millions of readers.

THE END. (more…)

I always liked this one… (more…)

I hit 700,000 blog views today (1/21/2010) (17 days before my predicted 30-day window).
I hit 600,000 on 7/7/2009. (within 1 week of vague “June” prediction).
I hit 500,000 on 12/4/2008. (no prediction)
I hit 400,000 on 5/24/2008. (27 days past prediction)
I hit 300,000 on 2/13/2008. (1 day before prediction)

So, 300K-400K took 3.5 months, 400K-500K took 6 months, 500K-600K  took 7 months, and 600K-700K took 6 months. Maybe things are picking up agian? Maybe 700K-800K will only take 6 months as well? That would put my prediction for hit #800,000 at around 7/21/2010 plus or minus 15 days. We’ll see what happens. I’ve been playing this game for awhile.

Monthly blog stats
Monthly blog stats – 15,836 is for  Jan, 2009

I still miss my popular period in 2007, before google (at least, that’s who I’m going to blame) started lowering me in search results…

It seems my blog isn’t very *personal* lately … so here’s some life-life-life stuff:

So lately.. Lots of things broke (totaled car, RAM fried, 1500G harddrive crashed, wireless keyboard broke)… Slowly it is time to rebuild them. I’m a bit slow, because I’m still doing picture photoshopping, movie reviews, dealing with files, dealing with music, and all the other crap I’ve been doing for the past 2 years while not working. And holidays got in the way too….

I finally got my car back today. Carolyn took me yesterday, but it wouldn’t start. On the way, we also returned my keyboard (props to Logitech for giving me FREE RETURN SHIPPING for the whole 5 year warranty period–they gave me a label, I printed it out, bam, free UPS!), and my RAM (which cost $9 to return).

RAMNT

In hindsight, I never should have gotten my ram. I never noticed my computer actually get noticeably faster — RAM doesn’t give you more CPU, it just reduces swap time. Most things that you wait for are either CPU intensive — can’t be sped up by RAM — or I/O intensive (and it’s usually the harddrive, which also isn’t sped up by ram). I definitely noticed 768M vs 256M on my old computer, but 4G vs 2G just isn’t noticable. There’s no way that having 4G of ram ever cumulatively saved me even the time it took to deal with the complications of returning the defective RAM. I’m not sure if it’s the new RAM that went bad, or if it’s the old RAM. If it was the old RAM, I at least have the cold comfort that the new stick saved me downtime. 2G is certainly infinitely faster than a computer with 0G of ram :)

CAR

So day 2, we came back to the body shop and successfully retrieved my car. The thing drives fine. I get $2940 for it. $2191 is for the value of the car, $750 is for rental [which I get to legally keep regardless of whether I get a rental]. They pay me $140 less if I keep it instead of salvage it. The repairs were estimated at about $100 more than my car. But the repairs included door: My door needs no fix! It opens and closes with only minor difficulty. The repairs included hood: I don’t care if my hood has dents! I can hammer them out myself. The repairs include paint: FUCK PAINT, that’s for superficial people who waste their money on bullshit.

All I really need repaired are my bumper. I don’t even want a new one, I just want the old one affixed back on my car. One headlight is hanging out and doesn’t work — and it’s on the FAR side from the impact. It’s likely just disconnected. I doubt I need a replacement headlight.

I’m thinking that getting this car legally driveable is going to be significantly cheaper than a full repair, or even than buying a $3000 used car that may be of questionable quality.

Sure, I don’t have air conditioning. Sure, I have moisture leakage that sucks in the winter [but great heat!]. Sure, my alternator may just be going for the 5th time — but that may have simply been the cold. But in the end, this car goes.

I think I’m going to drive it around and get some estimates on “crap repair jobs”. If I can get it legal for $1000, I’m keeping the thing. If the insurance wont cover it because its worthless, then my insurance will just be that much cheaper. I’ll have to call the insurance company and ask about such legal issues. I will of course record my call for legal purposes! have a device that runs my phone through a micro-cassette recorder. [Can cellphone people do that?] Even if my alternator goes bad and I pay $400 for freon, in this scenario that would only be $1900, meaning I end up with an extra $1000 profit AND cheaper car insurance.

I’m thinking this is the way to go. I really don’t want to have to look at other peoples’ shitty cars. My car is only shitty due to my own neglect; the engine is fucking awesome, the remote start still works even if the alarm has died since the accident, and having 2 12-inch subwoofers is really nice, even if one is burnt out. The thing is fast and handles well; I once outran a … well, nevermind. Better not admit such things publicly. Suffice to say it goes over 100mph with no problem and accelerates really well.

HARDDRIVE

Meanwhile we’re trying to get my harddrive out of the enclosure (which was utterly useless for harddrive-recovery-using-1999-computer purposes) and into Carolyn’s computer. This is proving to be challenging for Carolyn. Her computer now has SEVEN harddrives and THREE SATA controllers. Ridiculous. Her computer is basically where we shove all harddrives from crashed computers. It reminds me of Invader Zim from the Dark Harvest episode, where Zim says, “More organs means more human!” In this case, “more harddrives means more computer!”. My RMA period is going to expire, but I figure I might be able to restore some files from Carolyn’s computer during the day when she’s at work. If it was any other situation, I’d have sent it back yesterday with the keyboard and RAM. She is currently playing the “try different controller cards and find one that recognizes” it game. If I can get an other 10G off of it, it will all be worth it. It’s not like the data is really *lost*. Everything is burned twice. It’s just that backups are a LAST LAST resort.

STEREO

The freecycle stereo I got for $0, to replace my $1000-in-1997 120W-per-channel * 5 channels stereo — is working quite well. I got to ditch the pre-amp I was using (as the 1997 stereo died, things got quieter and quieter). No more amping the signal to 10 through TWO amps just to have it be moderatley loud. Surpringly, this 40W stereo is way louder than my 120W was. (And yes, I checked the speaker impedance.) So that was one thing that I got to restore to BETTER than status quo for free. I lose a fancy $100 clunky remote control, but I gain a quaint 3-disc CD player — CDs haven’t been played in Casa Clarolyntopiastan in like ~7 years.

JOB

Yea. I need to get a car first. Update my resume. Refresh it out there. Get some leads. Talk to recruiters. Talk to my ex-co-workers. Get my references in order. It’s really the last priority. I’ve been putting it off because it’s kind of inevitable. And I’m not looking forward to it. And I’d really like to get this computer crap in order first.

COMPRESSED AIR

Also… running low on compressed air. Quite honestly, I’d be willing to hand-pump a re-usable compressed air container. Having to pay $3-$8 for a can of air is ridiculous, especially when you wonder what kind of chemicals they use, and what kind of environmental damage there is in compressing, packaging, and transporting air. I only use 2-10 cubic liters of air at a time. If I had to hand pump first, whoop-de-do. Does anyone know of such a thing? It seems like it would be a hot product for the environmentally conscious computer geek.

SUMMARY

So yeah…. Stuff is pretty lame right now, but it can only go up from here… I suppose. We still got more savings than most single people I know — probably back into the 5-digit levels after I cash my insurance check. We have no kids dragging us down. We have a mere $1400 mortgage that is voluntarily $100 more than necessary that we will reduce it back to $1300 this week to stretch things out a bit. Our combined health insurance only takes $75 out of a month’s worth of pay, and has low deductibles (but $25 copays, grrr). And if all else fails, we have a year of [Carolyn's] salary in 401(k) savings (now almost back to pre-economic crash levels), and an $80,000 credit line tied to the house. We could theoretically both quit our jobs, slack off, and live on the credit for 10+ yrs. Or It would probably get revoked at some point… But at the moment it seems like we’re “too big to fail”.

Overconfidence?

Hubris?

Or am I just less stressed out than a lot of people? Even if our house collapsed and the insurance company paid us $0, our land is still worth more than the money remaining on the mortgage! It seems impossible to lose. Or at least, improbable enough to not worry.

So no, I still don’t feel super rushed about this job thing. And in case anyone asks if Carolyn is pisseds that I’m a bum — I’ve still made more money than her since we moved in, and have still footed more than half of all expenses up to the point that I stopped working. And where I lack now will be retroactively paid off, as it has been in the past. So no, I don’t really feel any guilt, other than the fact that it’s a cryin’ shame that Carolyn can’t take a long break. Her work is pays less, but is more constant… While mine pays more, but is less constant. It’s a really good combination, actually.

So yea… if this is life sucking… I don’t have many complaints, really. I look forward to emerging from my coccoon sometime in 2010, and returning to corporate hell for another spell of 4-6 years. And then taking another year off :D (more…)

I gave up on chkdsk every finishing… I have to reboot every 3-7 days, and chkdsk is never going to finish in that timespan. And all 3 of our computers can’t be tied up with anything that requires a you to boot to a repair disc.

I got my new 1.5TB drive installed. Mad that it’s a Western Digital Caviar Green, and thus only has a 3yr warranty. But the Caviar Black apparently only comes in 1.0TB. And the 2TB Black is 3X more expensive than the 1.5TB Green. Sigh.

So now I’m just moving the files off at the command-line with a BAT file I run. A lot of smaller files are 100% intact. Take an anime series with 26 episodes — I’m getting maybe 23 of them. That still means having to get those 3 off disc, so I see a lot of disc-fetching in our future. (1.5TB = 333 DVD-Rs.)

Once moving things normally runs its course, I’ll try recovernig the files that wouldn’t move with R-Studio.

This whole process is probably going to take weeks. I just hope R-Studio doesn’t make my computer unusable. If it does… I’m not really sure where to go. The downstairs computer is in charge of downloading/burning; stopping that stops everything. Carolyn’s computer is used by Carolyn — would kind of suck for her to give that up for a week+. And my computer runs our music/TV. Nor would I want to give it up.

What I need is a 4th, spare computer… That has a SATA drive. Or maybe a USB enclosure that lets a SATA drive be used by a non-SATA computer? Is there such a thing? We do have a spare computer. A Pentium III built in 1999 (“Mist”) that’s still alive and kicking in our bedroom. I guess I need to investigate. If anybody knows, lemme know :) (more…)

Jesus, that was a pain. I noticed a bunch of my wordpress flickr-embedded videos were no longer working — such as my awesome post of my college video experiments — despite me following embed instructions.

1) I sent notes to WordPress support, who basically told me it was Flickr‘s problem. I was pretty damn convinced they were wrong, as I had changed nothing on my side. They kindly investigated further at my behest, and it turns out that Flickr had set my account to not be in public searches — which had the undocumented side-effect of making my embedded videos no longer worked.

2) I had to send a note to Flickr‘s help. I then waited 5 business days after they said to wait 3 business days — they had escalated my issue up the chain, according to them — and sent another email, which was also ignored. Finally on day 6 I opened up a 2nd ticket with reference to my 1st ticket, and was rewarded with a prompt response a couple hours later:

[Flickr Case 1368805] Other issues
Hello,
I have classified your account as “public”/”safe”.
Regards,
-Terrence

What?!?! My account wasn’t “public”/”safe”???? Greeeeat.

By examining random photos from my FlickR, I see that most do not have the “hide from public searches” checkbox checked anymore! Yay! But does this mean that the pictures *I really want hidden* are no longer checked? I don’t know! I had tried to avoid the wrath of various corporate entities by hiding selected photos that are otherwise public.

Anyway, I always thought my stats were pretty good… But I had noticed a dropoff to about 2500-5000 views a day, whereas in the past I got closer to 7500. However, despite being hidden from public searches, I still got a lot of referral traffic from both Flickr and Yahoo Photos [Yahoo owns flickr], so it seems like “hide from public seraches” still leaves you open to plenty of other referral methods. Anyway, hopefully these stats improve now that my account is no longer censored:

And yes, it bugs me to be a paying user and to be censored. But if I were to make my own photo album off of flickr, nobody would view it. Sort of how my blog gets read through Facebook a lot, but hardly anyone actually goes to it directly. People need to get over their technical laziness. Our technical laziness funnels us into social sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr — thereby putting us under the umbrella of corporate and community censorship. If only we could all just run our own stuff on our own hardware, nobody could censor us! But it would be much harder for us to all stay together. Maybe that is an issue that Web 3.0 will address. . .
(more…)

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