The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Friday, February 01, 2002

Computers … maps … computers … maps …

Oh no! There's an International Map Fair this weekend! Noooooo!

Spring and I are mappaphiles and the both of us would love to go to this, but unfortunately, we already have plans to go to the Miami HAMFest this weekend, which is something my friends and I do every year.

Sigh.

Saturday, February 02, 2002

Groundhog day

Yup, it's that time of year again, when Ashcroft pops out of his hole and if he sees his shadow we'll have six more weeks of terrorism.

More cheese than ham

We should have gone to the International Map Fair instead. If anything, this year's Miami HAMFest was smaller and less thrilling than last year and that's saying something!

Outside the world of PCs, there were very few Macs for sale (one, a Mac laptop, didn't work) and a Sun SPARCStation 2 (but for $100, no thank you). Even worse, we only saw two (2!) PS/2 keyboards, and only one for sale seperately from a computer and even then, it had key caps missing (Mark picked that one up).

The only interesting things I picked up this year were a slide ruler and a 24-hour analog clock for the Computer Room.

Overall, a very disappointing year

Sunday, February 03, 2002

Happy Birthday II

Fortunately, today I get to sing the song to Spring.

The Royal Tenenbaums

Spring and I decided to see The Royal Tenenbaums tonight. What an odd film. I had a hard time figuring out when exactly the film was supposed to take place—it seemed that the entire span of 17 years took place in the 70s, with only a few nodding glances towards the 80s (Ben Stiller's Nike sweat suits, or “Rock the Casbar” by the Clash in another scene).

The movie centered around Royal Tanenbaum and his attempts go get back into the life of his estranged family (they put the fun in disfunctional). His kids were child prodigies who as adults have problems coping with life and head back to their parents' home.

We found it entertaining, although I have to wonder how the film was being marketed since during the movie, we saw several people get up and leave the theater; about half remained for the entire film. Granted, the theater wasn't that packed to begin with, but still …

Monday, February 04, 2002

We're moving! (on my god)

We got the call! We were finally approved for the townhome.

I'm of mixed emotions about this. On the one hand, the Condo Commandos are making life more interesting than it needs to be, and there have been plenty of times I've looked around Condo Conner and thought, this place is getting a bit run down. I need a new place. On the other hand, I was half hoping we wouldn't get approved and we could stay here. It's comfortable, it's on a good location, the neighborhood (aside from the Condo Commandos) is nice and and for me, to sell this place just seems so wrong, as it belong to my Mom.

But we got the place.

Tomarrow: hand cramps as we sign all sorts of paper work.


Playing with TeX

To keep myself preoccupied, I spent way too many hours trying to get TeX to output a document in a very particular format.

My current ongoing project now involves generating a vast number of pages (around 1,400 or so) of summary information (one of the reports being summaried itself was nearly 400 pages in length). The amount of summary data per report is small enough that with a small enough font (around 7pt it seems like) we can fit four summaries per page, thus keeping the page count down to around 1,400 pages (there are a lot of reports). Each summary has a particular layout so I thought it should be relatively easy to get TeX to generate the output.

Eight hours later I realize that I don't know enough TeX to even begin to start this project. For instance, one example of getting two column output is:


\let\lr=L \newbox\leftcolumn
\output={\if L\lr
    \global\setbox\leftcolumn=\columnbox \global\let\lr=R
  \else \doubleformat \global\let\lr=L\fi
  \ifnum\outputpentalty>-20000 \else\dosupereject\fi}
\def\doubleformat{\shipout\vbox\{\makeheadline
    \fullline{\box\leftcolumn\hfil\columnbox}
    \makefootline}
  \advancepageno}
\def\columnbox{\leftline{\pagebody}}

Provided you set \hsize to the width you want a column (\hsize being the horizontal width you are pumping text into). Oh, and don't forget to change \makeheadline and \makefootline to expand across the entire page instead of using the current setting of \hsize.

I shouldn't really fault for TeX for this. It really is quite powerful, but the learning curve is somewhat (okay, overwhelmingly) steep. For basic jobs it's not that hard, and there are even preprogrammed macros to do academic papers (like LaTeX). But the example TeX code is very dense reading.

I'll have to play around with this more later.

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

Signing our lives away

Rob and I head over to the rental community to sign some twenty-two pages of rental agreements. The process is simple—they hand Rob the page and explain what this page is for. Rob scans it, then signs and dates it. He then hands it to me, I scan, sign and date it and place it to one side.

Page after page. Twenty-two pages. Listen, scan, sign, date, hand, scan, sign, date, place. The only real pause is Rob making sure he can park his hearse in the parking lot. Unlike the last time he asked, it was decided that he could park it in the rental office parking lot (which is across the street from our building, so it's not that far). Rob was satisfied with that, and we continued with signing.

We then did a tour of the actual unit, filling out “Move-in Inventory & Condition Form” (which we have three days to finish and turn in) and discussing ideas of where to set up the new Computer Room (I prefer a room dedicated for this, Spring wants to set it up in a more public area of the house. Rob doesn't care where it is).

I'm still overwhelmed at how fast things are moving.


Grinding away

So once again I threw myself into work trying not too hard to think about the impending move. I informed my contact that what I attempted didn't work, so the format was simplified—all I had to do was generate one summary per page, and he'll take care of formatting it four per page using a traditional word processor. Then it was a matter of formatting the output like he wanted, and making adjustments as I found shortcomings in certain reasonable assumptions I had made. Nothing horrible, or very difficult.

Pretty mindless, actually.

And as you might be picking up, I'm still a bit freaked about moving.


Tick-tock

[clock] It's taking some time to get used to the clock I purchased at the Miami HAMFest. It's a 24-hour analog clock so when it says 6:00 pm (okay, it really reads 1800) it looks like it's 9:00 pm (okay, 2100). It's still a very cool clock, with the current day (Tuesday), date (5) and a third smaller 12-hour clock (with hour hand only) that can be set for another time zone (currently set for Sweden).

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Fly the terror-filled skies

Luggage collected. Exodus. Migration from Gate B27 to B10. Another search (number five; J-E wondered if he could qualify for “Frequently Searched” miles). They examined the bags and told Mr. Moseler to open a wrapped present for a Moseler sibling in Milwaukee. It was a gift of marzipan candy that to the airport authorities—who had never heard of marzipan the same way they had never heard of a Palm Pilot—looked suspiciously like brightly colored C-4 explosive with sugar ribbons on top. Mr. Moseler was asked–we're not kidding—to take a bite out of each offending morsel right there on the spot, to prove that the stuff wouldn't blow his molars to Kingdom Come (like, if it did, they wanted to see him burst like a flaming pinata right there in the check-in line). He courageously refused, and they miraculously let him board without further incident. The new plane finally left at 10:30 a.m., two-and-a-half hours late, that is, if you disregard the twenty-or-so hours that they were already late.

The Moselers finally got to Milwaukee and had ten minutes to spend with their family.

Via InstaPundit.Com, John-Erik's Airborne Adventure

So let me get this straight—Bush signs an emergency bill giving the airline industry millions of dollars to keep them solvent in the wake of September 11th and service actually gets worse?

I've even heard they no longer serve food on flights anymore. Not that the food was anything to write home about, nor very satisfying as a meal, but what's the excuse? Afraid of a terrorist using a spork to take over the plane?

Oops, I think I should shut up now.


Programming contest

I see that Google is having a programming contest to see who can program a neat (and scalable) feature into their search engine. The introductory download is a bit steep at 54M, but hey, it might be something interesting to look into.

Facility in the Middle of Nowhere

When we moved here, we asked Lou what our address was. He said it was simple: “Mr. And Mrs. Planetmort, Facility in the Middle of Nowhere, CA 91023.” In fact, since we are our own zip code, you could actually address mail to me “Planetmort, 91023,” and I'd get it. (I know; I've tried it.)

Middle of Nowhere, 91023

It does seem to exist, according to MapQuest, and it's near or on, Mount Wilson in California.

What a cool name for a place to live. Heck, it sounds like a cool place to live, where you can basically make up any form of address. Hmmm, I wonder if a postcard were addressed to “Sean Conner, 33066-2408,” would it get to me?

Probably not.

But I think I have a name for our new place: Facility in the Middle of Nowhere. Has a nice ring to it.


Now, about that link …

Now, about that link to MapQuest

You may not realize it, but that thing is four hundred and seven characters long. Four hundred and seven! A bit silly if you ask me …


Be home, get home

It's funny the things that we worry about.

Most of my friends would have anxiety attacks over the threat of losing their job. Me? Not really. Been there, done that, still have the corporate golf shirts. Hey, I even lost my car and I didn't break a sweat.

But here it is, almost two years to the day I wrote this:

I've already lost a car and my job. What's next? My home? I'm not worried at all. Even if I do loose my home, it'll be less stuff I have to worry about. It's not like I'm actually going to loose my home. I'm not. It's just that over the years, I've learned not to worry about things. I have my health. I have my family. I have my friends. All else is icing.

So it's quite ironic to have found myself having a nervous breakdown over the impending move. It was quite bad. Very bad. Break down into uncontrollable sobbing bad. Fortunately, Spring was there to comfort me and help me through this anxiety attack.

I still can't quite pin down why I feel this way. As I wrote to my friend Hoade: “Yes, I've studied Buddhist thought and that I should let go of this place but it's proving harder than I thought and it's not entirely because I'm too sentimental; I'm too sentimental being completely overwhelmed in a situation that is fast turning into what looks like a money sink. So there you go.” The sentimental bit—I've lived here since August of 1988 (except for a period of time between August 1992 and October 1993 when I lived in Boca Raton, then moved back) and the place was once owned by my Mom, and I inherited this place when she died in early 1994. To give something up she worked for so hard for is not an easy thing for me.

The money sink bit has to do with a lot of repairs that have to be made. Individually they all quite small but it's just the number of them that is overwhelming. At least to me. Then there's the time it takes to get this place fixed enough to rent or sell (I'm leaning towards renting), during which time we have to pay for two places.

Spring did assure me that there are always options and that things will work out. Heh. A lesson I forgot somewhere in the past two years.

Thursday, February 07, 2002

Edgework

You can skip .NET or XML-RPC or any of the other alphabet soup technologies being touted as the next best thing on the web—the real innovative stuff is at the edge. Here, for instance, or try Shredder 1.0, a site that shreds other web pages to form art, or linguasso (my personal favorite), which creates random works of art out of text.

And then there is the work jwz has done, like the WebCollage, with its everchanging image of links.


All else is icing

I read in Stewart Brand's How Buildings Learn that the average American buys a new house every eight years. Eight years. My paternal grandparents have lived in their house for … oh … fourty years or so. I have two aunts that have lived in their homes for over twenty years. I've lived here in Condo Conner for close to 14 years (well, a bit less since I spent a year and a half in Boca but my Mom lived here at the time so it's been in the family).

To think that had Mom gotten a fifteen year mortgage, it would have been paid off in a year, and my living expenses (sans utilities) would have fallen to $200/month!

But as I look around, except for Kelly (who still lives in the house he grew up in, but is moving to his new home once it's finished Real Soon Now, oddly enough), I don't have a single friend that has lived in any one place for 14 years, much less eight years (since I inherited the place from Mom) in any one place.

Then I do the math, and I realized that I have moved, on average, once every three years. Now, by age five I was averaging once per year, and by age ten, it was almost averaging once every two years. My family moved a lot when I was younger.

It wasn't until I started visiting my paternal grandparents every summer did I get a feeling for a permanent home—some place that would always be there, no matter where we (my immediate family) lived. It was home away from home (and that probably did more to turn me off traveling than anything since September 11th since I associate visiting friends and family than I do places, but that's another story). It was stability in an ever changing world (and believe me, moving to South Florida showed me just how changing the world could be). It's a rock from which the universe revolves around. And now, Condo Conner has become that rock (since my paternal grandparents house is no longer in the family) and now I have to find a new rock from which my universe will revolve around. A new point of stability.

Yes. I'm moving. As I have said, I have my health. I have my family. I have my friends. All else is icing.


Secret code in Bible tells the future!

In packing, I found a copy of the Weekly World News with a headline (in what seems to be a 100pt font) screaming: SECRET CODE IN HOLY BIBLE TELLS THE FUTURE!

Lucky for us, this is from July 1st, 1997! The article says that a secret code has predicted the stock market crash of 1929, the Vietnam War, the AIDS epidemic and the first moon landing and then goes on with predictions for the future.

Shall we see how accurate they were?

Early 1998—A world leader will go insane and release a dealy nerve gas on his own people—killing more than 30 million people and nearly wiping out the entire country.

Late 1998—A sudden and complete breakdown of the ozone layer will allow too much sunlight to pass through our atmosphere and cause millions worldwide to go blind.

1999—A comet will pass so close to Earth that temperatures will hit 140 degrees in some countries. Millions will die. The even will cause panic among millions more who will think the world is about to end.

1999—Somewhere in America or Europe, a strange storm will bring a torrent of healing rain. Any ill or injured person who is touched by the drops will be cured. Even cancer patients will get well. After three days and nights, the rain will stop as suddenly as it started.

2007—All the countries of the world…

Um … eight year skip there. And nothing at all about events in the past year or so, which are some pretty significant events. Oh wait a second, that's right, these were predictions of another time line and not of this one.

Okay, I feel better now.

Friday, February 08, 2002

A little over a day

On a lark, I decided to do a search on “Facility in the Middle of Nowhere” to see what else goes by that name. Imagine my surprise at being the number one link out of 46,700 pages. Funnier still, the page I linked to isn't even in the top 200 results.

I find that amazing. A domain that's been around a year longer than mine and yet I'm the one being spider. Fancy that.

Saturday, February 09, 2002

One hundred books on the shelf, one hundred books …

It's moving day.

See you later …


THERE IS NO DOG!

I answered the knock at the door expecting Kurt, who said he'd come over and help with the move (and a large truck). Instead, there was a postal carrier with a going away present from the Condo Commandos: yet another certified letter.

My expectations were reference to the unauthorized occupants living here, but no! Instead, the Vice President is insisting that we have a dog here and that if we don't get rid of it immediately, I'll be responsible for enriching the coffers of their lawyers.

EXCUSE ME?

I have to wonder who the Vice President thinks they saw walking a dog. The letter is (again) addressed to my Mom, who is no longer living. And as far as I know, neither me, nor Rob nor Spring own or have walked a dog recently.

Or it could be another manifestation of the passive-aggressive nature of the Condo Commandos in their seemingly ongoing campaign of harassement, if indeed that is what is going on.


Highlights of a moving experience

The move went fairly smooth. We didn't get everything out of Condo Conner (for instance, the Computer Room is still set up and functioning) but we got most of the furniture (two pieces didn't make it—a shelf unit and a large dresser that were in Rob's room) and everything left can be transported using the current vehicles we have.

Highlights of the move: the ceiling fan on the porch of Condo Conner being hit by Shane's head and almost killing Rob. Rob caught the fan and was holding it up until someone (me) got a chair and disconnected it from the electrical system. One more thing to fix up here.


Shane duck-walking the Comfy Chair (which he put on his back) into the Facility in the Middle of Nowhere.


“Did you put all those IBM manuals in here? This box is almost impossible to move!”

“Paul just picked it up and carried it out here.”

“I'm not here to think; I'm just hired muscle.”


Maneuvering the bookshelf out the Computer Room. To get it out, it needed to be on its side, only it was too tall to simply tip over on its side. So it ended up being tipped nearly on its back, then twisted to be on its side.

Fortunately, a passing time traveller opened up a doorway into a convenient wall that gave us the needed space to finish out the odd twists we needed to get the shelf out of the door.


I'm moving a matress from the master bedroom to the other bedroom and decide to use the balcony since it's a straight shot between the two rooms instead of apptempting to navigate the hallway. I start to move when the matress hits the screen. I stop. Rob, on the other side, thinks I'm having trouble and walks towards me, only to smack into the screen door himself.


Moving said bookshelf to the second floor of the Facility in the Middle of Nowhere. This time we couldn't count on a time traveller opening up a doorway on the landing in the stairs, so we found it easier to lift the unit straight up to the balcony on the second floor, and heave it over the railing and into the room.


Flipping some other, smaller bookshelves and mattresses up over the second story balcony railing and into the respective rooms.


Conversations with Kurt while riding in his truck between places. It was unnerving to learn just how easy it could be to introduce biological agents into the water supply.


Spring and I concerned that George (who is in South Florida visiting friends and family) would show up at Condo Conner and find no one there (not even the dog).


More packing, and unpacking for us for the next week or so.

Sigh.


Thanks

I would like to thank Gus, JeffC, Kim, Kurt, Lorie, Paul, Russ, Sarah and Shane for helping us with the move. If I left anyone out, please accept my apologies, write me so I can add you to this list.

Sunday, February 10, 2002

“I want to own nothing, but control everything.”

I'm back at Condo Conner, updating the journal here (since we don't have connectivity at the Facility in the Middle of Nowhere yet) and I read the latest certified letter to Spring (since she hasn't actually had a chance to see it yet). She then mentioned that in each letter, it refered to an “apartment” and not a “condominium.”

I went back and checked, and while it wasn't all three letters, it was listed as an apartment on the two letters about the non-existant dog we have here.

I'm beginning to see what might be happening here.

Last year a very vocal minority of owners here tried to get the Board to pass a regulation outlawing the renting of properties. There was a return volley by the opposition and the resulting vote reaffirmed that the owners could still rent their properties.

We (Spring, Rob and I) think that there may be a new board in place, due to the increase in Condo Commando activity.

I'm beginning to suspect that the Vice President of the Board is a member of the anti-renting faction and for units that are suspected as being rented are under more scrutiny than units who's owners live in them. The result: slowly drive out renters and owners who rent.

Or that this is, in fact, a clear sign that while we (in the collective, condo-owners-all-over sense) may think we own property (or more acurately, a volume of space) what with the mortgages and various association fees, we are in fact, nothing more than glorified renters who paid for the priviledge of living here (in fact, I'm beginning to think that the whole concept of private ownership is outmoded, since the insanely rich don't even own stuff—they either lease it, or “own” it through trusts or foundations that they in fact control. Heck, in some states when you buy property, unless you get the “mineral rights” (for an appreciable larger amount of money) you only own the “surface” of the land—and that's if you can actually buy mineral rights).

By the way, the title to this entry is a quote from John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

Monday, February 11, 2002

Can you apply RICO laws to associations?

On the way back to the Facility in the Middle of Nowhere, Spring and I stop off at the local Wal★Mart Superstore to pick up a shower curtain for the master bath (the master bath in Condo Conner is a shower stall). We enter the store and run into Mark, Gerald and a couple Gerald knew.

Turns out Gerald's friend is moving out of her condo because of the association there and if anything, makes our condo association look like it has a laissez-faire attitude.

I think she lives in one of those high-rise condo buildings since otherwise some of this doesn't make sense (not that it makes sense to begin with). One of the rules: you can't bring anything into the building past 4:30 pm. Tools, groceries, anything you don't normally carry on you is verboten. She got into trouble trying to bring home a toolbox someone borrowed. It was past 4:30 (something like 4:35) and nope. Couldn't bring the toolbox inside the building. Leave it outside, in the car, whatever. It's not going in the building.

She took it in anyway and got fined $250.00 for the priviledge of keeping her toolbox. $150 fine for bringing in items past 4:30 pm. Another $100 for making a public spectacle.

She she's moving.

To move, she has to pay $250.00 plus $25/hour to move out. That's not the price of the movers; that's the price she has to pay to the association to move. You know, moving is so unsightly, what with all the furniture and boxes and stuff. But for her money, she gets someone to monitor the move and make sure nothing goes amiss (and believe me, if something does, I'm sure they'll bill her plenty for it).

To me, that sounds like racketeering and should be prosecuted under the RICO laws. But these type of things take money, and the association has more money than any one person under the association, since any costs will be past on to the association members. Sigh.

But I find it incredible that anyone would live under such idiocy. Paying money to move out? Oh, and it's the same cost to move in too (although when she moved in, it only cost $100.00 flat rate). Sad to say, but it is in her best interest not to mention that fee until after she sells the unit. I don't know of anyone that would voluntarily pay such a fee.

Extortion, I tell you! Extortion!


For the Nth time, THERE IS NO DOG!

I call the head Condo Commando about the non-existant dog that they think we have and like last time I called him, he again, was out of the office.

If I do get served, you can bet I'm going to raise holy Hell. This is harassement, pure and simple.


Themable websites

I found this to be quite cool—a website where you can select between themes. It's the same page being sent down, except the style sheets are different depending upon what you select. In theory, I can write my own style sheet for this site and have it displayed like I want it, but support would have to be in the browser to let the user override the stylesheets a site uses.

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Here, we do permalinks right.

Dave Winer is critisizing Cam about not having “permalinks.” First off, what right does Dave Winer have saying how Cam should or shouldn't run his website? Second, about those “permalinks” you have Dave … what purpose does a 33 character anchor have in making a permanent link? The permanent link I'm referencing here is:

http://scriptingnews.userland.com/backissues/2002/02/12#le4674e474d473132a28becd906a93d74

Meanwhile, here at The Boston Diaries, the permament link for this entry is:

http://boston.conman.org/2002/2/13.1

With the added bonus of not shoving you to some random spot in a much longer page. If you're going to bother doing “permalinks” at least make them short and intelligable.


He just doesn't get it

In addition to Dave Winer complaining about permalinks on CamWorld, Dave also complains about the design of CamWorld. This is funny, given that Dave's software still uses HTML tables for rendering. From reading, it seems that it's quite difficult to design your own templates for his software, in case you want to use something other than HTML tables (like, oh, CSS) and Dave just doesn't get why anyone would want to use anything other than tables for layout, which is funny because he's been pushing for this really funky way to do RPC when the old ways (oh, like CGI) work just as well (*cough* *cough*).

I guess he can't see the trees for the forest in the way.

Thursday, February 14, 2002

Oh, is it that holiday again?

Happy Valentine's Day ... Straight from the Heart!

Sorry for the inconvenience …

I finally got the head Condo Commando on the phone today, about our non-existant dog.

“Oh yea,” he said. “I was about to call you about that.” Uh huh … I thought. No, really. I believe you. “It turns out the Vice President of the Association made a mistake and had the wrong information. So don't worry about it.”

That's it? It was all a mistake? “Uh, okay,” I said, in shock. I got off the phone.

We moved, because of a mistake?

I am without speech …


Connectivity

Meanwhile, back at the Facility in the Middle of Nowhere, the Cable Company came out to install the cable modem (and cable TV while they were at it). Since our current firewall was still at Condo Conner, the cable modem was attached to Rob's computer.

Normally, this wouldn't be a problem, but this is a cable modem and they usually lock onto the MAC address of the network card they hook up to. But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

But for now, we have connectivity at the Facility in the Middle of Nowhere.

Oh, and cable TV. With about five zillion channels, including TechTV, which Spring is thrilled over.

Friday, February 15, 2002

O'dark-thirty

It's o'dark-thirty. I'm sitting outside in the court yard of the Facility in the Middle of Nowhere, sipping an ice cold Coca-Cola and typing away on my laptop.

I think I can get used to this.

It'll be even better once Rob starts playing around with wireless access here. Of course we'll be running IP-SEC, given the recent advances in mapping wireless networks.


“I've got those cable MAC blues … ”

I finally got the firewall from Condo Conner moved to the Facility in the Middle of Nowhere, and just as I had feared, our cable connection wasn't passing traffic to it since the network card in the firewall had a different MAC address.

I know that it is possible to change the MAC address on a NIC but not having done it before I had to do some research. I found out that under Unix, it's easily done with one command:

ifconfig interface hw ether MAC address

Spring and I had to leave to meet some friends, but I gave the information to Rob for him to play around with it. The idea was to change the MAC address on the firewall interface to match the NIC in Rob's machine, and then change the MAC address on Rob's machine, or swap out the NIC.

Upon returning home, Rob had some success with it. He was able to set the MAC address on the firewall to match his computer and get traffic through, but with a 60% packet loss. Looking into the problem it turned out to be that the cable modem was set for 100Base-T while the NIC in the firewall is a 10Base-T interface. The fix for that was to power cycle the cable modem and allow it to sync at 10Mbs instead of 100Mbs.

But Rob didn't want to play around with changing MAC addresses—he wanted to get the cable modem to use the firewall's MAC address. He had attempted to call the cable provider but the technician he got did not understand what Rob wanted. We'll be using his box for the gateway for the time being.

Saturday, February 16, 2002

Technical spying is more like it

Rob calls Tech Support in an attempt to solve our problem. He gets nowhere fast and stays nowhere for quite some time. It seems that the tech support rep he talked to had no idea what he was asking for. No resolution.

My friend Gerald, who has four years experience with cable modems from our provider, informed us that the best way to get in contact with Tech Support for our problem is with some software you download and run to chat online with them.

Of course it's Windows only.

And about a 20MB download.

For a proprietary IRC program most likely.

So I download the chat client and attempt to install it. It grinds away installing then attempts to run and errors out.

Nice, I thought. I then noticed that it started a background process that looks to be a webserver. Under Windows 98. This is not looking good.

I then relaunch the application. This time it seems to be working and I click on the “Connect with Tech Support” button. The system then grinds away for a bit. Then I'm presented with a window with all this information about my system—memory, disk size, what's running, etc. and the program is asking me if I want to send this information in to our provider.

Ah, no thank you!

Only the two choices I had were “Okay” (which would send the information) and “Cancel” (no! I want to connect! I don't want you sending this information!”). With no other option, I press “Cancel.” I'm also suspecting this software wouldn't run through our firewall, taking a look at the network ports its listening on.

I uninstall the crap. Still no resolution.

Sunday, February 17, 2002

The Plug-in Society

Spring and I were talking about moving. Okay, so we are still in the throes of a move so it's not a conversation about moving from were we just moved. No, we were talking about moving in general and why it seems that so many people we know just up and move to a new location, usually far away from where they currently are.

Me, I'm having trouble moving less than five miles away, and here I have friends that have moved cross country, some more than once! Then there's the paternal side of my family—I have three aunts (Dad's sisters) that all live within two miles of the home they grew up in, and the youngest sister lived in the same house with her husband and two kids for fifteen years, so staying in one place seems to run in the family as it were.

Spring seems to think that most people (of our age, maybe a bit older) are of a “plug-in society,” which is a concept from John Brunner's book The Shockwave Rider (which incidently, is considered the first book in the cyberpunk genre of Science Fiction). Our culture is so homogenized that one can pick up and move from Seattle, Washington to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and not feel out of place. Even though Seattle and Ft. Lauderdale are over three thousand miles apart, they are very similar—similar stores, similar restaurants, similar weather.

Okay, so we don't have a billionaire software mogul living here in Lower Sheol, but we do have a billionaire garbage mogul with a taste in baseball teams and video store outlets in the form of Wayne Huizinga.

Okay, so maybe there is no difference there either.

It might very well be that since there is no difference between Seattle or Ft. Lauderdale or Los Angeles or Boston then does it really matter where one lives? Or perhaps it could be the perception that life would be better in New York or South Bend or Houston so why not give it a try since the three or four years we've been here has shown this city to be just another homogenized suburban sprawl or rural backwater town or faceless urban monster of a city. Or perhaps given the relative ease with which we can move gives rise to the “plug-in society.”

Or all the above.


Connectivity II

Since Rob called last time, this time it was my turn to listen to light jazz over the phone.

I call. I'm informed that for quality assurance this call might be monitored. I'm also informed that I'll be listening to the light jazz for twenty minutes while Technical Support busily ignores my call. So I wait.

Maybe fifteen minutes later I get Tech Rep #1. After getting the appropriate contact information Tech Rep #1 finally asks what the problem is.

“Yes, I just bought a new network card for my computer,” I said. “I think you setup is storing the MAC address of the old network card so I need for you to remove it and let me renew the DHCP lease with the new network card.”

“Okay, could you please repeat that again?”

Fifteen minutes and a dozen repeats of what I want done later, he gives me a case number and informs me that I'll be passed up the Tech Food Chain to Tech Rep #2. A few minutes of light jazz later, Tech Rep #2 picks up the phone. “What is your case number?”

I give Tech Rep #2 the case number and repeat the request. Twice. Then Tech Rep #2 has me rattle off the old MAC address. At this point, I'm pretending to be Rob, since his name is on the account, and I'm yelling at Rob to rattle off MAC addresses since the computers in question are in his room, and the phone is in my room. If Tech Rep #2 clued in to what was happening, Tech Rep #2 didn't say anything, which is a Good Thing. Then I have to rattle off the new MAC address. Reset the cable modem, grab a new IP address using DHCP and we're good to go.

Unfortunately, I think this means I'll be making the tech support calls from now on.

Monday, February 18, 2002

Persnicketty cameras

Burnett, 54, now has four of these plastic beauties—and he doubtless will buy more of them. Depending on modifications, made by seemingly obsessed Holgaholics offering them on the Internet, these cameras can go for as much as—you ready for this?—$30.95. (The regular price for a pristine, virginal, light-leaking Holga, is more like fifteen bucks.)

Consider that, when the average gun of your average photojournalist—say a Nikon D1—runs close to five grand, a plastic toy that I once mistook for a squirt gun can hold its own against it.

Via Squirrel Bait, Dr. Burnett's Magic Box

For a leaky, cheap knock off Chinese camera with a plastic lens and a fixed shutter rate, the pictures running with the above article are wonderful. Makes me almost wish I had one of these cameras. Then again, I do have a rather persnicketty digital camera that is probably just as difficult to use as the Holga.

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

She's a psychic! She should have seen this comming!

Via my dog wants to be on the radio, comes news that Miss Cleo of the late night psychic hotline infomercials fame, is being served as Broward County (where I live used to live) is going after her and the company she represents for fraud.

Nooooooooooo! Not Miss Cleo! Not the icon of cheesy late night psychic hotline informercials! First Dion Warrick fades from the scene. Then Kenny Kingston disappears! Now Miss Cleo? What will this do for the cheesy late night psychic hotline informercial scene? And does this mean we'll only get to date her in jail?

Oh the humanity!


Make money replying to email?

Last time I looked into making money with my website, the hot idea was text ads; small, unobtrusive advertising using text only. Nice idea, but I haven't heard much since November.

Now, via InstaPundit.com, comes An Entirely Serious Proposal Regarding Blogging, Payment, and E-Mail whereby a person running a weblog makes money by responding to email!

Nice, if you get tons of email. While I've received some email related to entries here (thanks! Sorry I haven't responded), I haven't been innundated with so many entries as to drown me. I don't think I've had enough to drown a hampster.

Ah well …


Everything's fine. Nothing to see. Move along.

The world—including even the previously sanguine Japanese—is now catching on to the fact that Japan's 12-year slump has deteriorated into a full-blown crisis, threatening a wild global ride. Falloffs in various indicators in the world's second-largest economy resemble the plunge of such countries as the U.S. into the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Via InstaPundit.Com, The Panic Spreads

If it's one thing that just plain defies common sense, it's economics. I consider inflation bad, as I can buy less stuff with my money. Yet economists like inflation. It's good for you, unless it's hyperinflation—then it's bad. But regular old inflation, that's good. I don't see the problem with deflation, as the money I have saved is now worth more, but to economists? Bad! Not good! Evil!

But I'm looking at it as a guy that doesn't buy stuff. Well, non-essential stuff anyway. The rich? They don't save money. Nope. They make money by making it move through the economy. They buy big stuff like real estate and then sell it back after inflation has driven up the price of stuff. When most of your liquid assets are not in a monetary liquid form then of course deflation is bad—your stuff is now worth less. And because the rich don't save money like we mere mortals do, deflation hits the rich rather harder than it does us. [actually, the super rich don't even buy stuff outright, they hand the money over to a foundation or trust they control (and take a nice write off on their personal taxes—heck, they may even make negative amounts of money that way and have the government owe them!) which then mortgages or leases the stuff the super rich desire, so the foundation or trust (which may or may not pay taxes—I'm not entirely sure of the law in this case) can then write it off as operating expenses. Any excess money is then invested and the rate of return on such actually covers the operating expenses generating a profit, which is usually handed back to the super rich as income (more operating expenses of course) or squirreled away in some offshore bank account hiding it from Uncle Sam. The money is always moving, never accumulating and most of it probably isn't in any monetary liquid form, which is why deflation is usually considered a Bad Thing.]

So now Japan is facing an economic crisis and economists here are all nervous because if Japan collapses economincally, it could affect us here. Economists are all worked up because Japan has a near zero interest rate and people over there are still saving! How dare them! They should be spending spending spending! Build up that debt! Grease those economic wheels!

Let's face it—no one really understands how the economy works anyway, and most of it appears to work off perception anyway so perhaps we should force all economists to say the economy is good no worry here and maybe once for a change get the rich folks to actually work for a living.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

All because I unplugged a network cable from a running Windows box.

I had a few entries on the laptop computer that I wanted to transfer. Not having an extra network cable I decided to use the one in my Windows box.

That was my mistake!

I unplugged the network cable while the machine was still running. Now, I've done this before and never had a problem. But the major difference between here and now over there and before is that I was unplugging Unix workstations and not a Windows workstation.

I didn't realize I had a big problem until after I plugged the network cable back into the Windows box. I had a small problem in that I couldn't get the laptop onto the network, but that I attributed to a bad PCMCIA adaptor cable. That was bad enough.

The five hours of getting the Windows box working was horrible.

At first, the Windows box (named KILLJOY) wasn't responding to the network. Okay, I thought, Windows can't deal with the network suddenly disappearing on it. Reboot time. Only it wouldn't shut down. It wouldn't even respond to the Vulcan nerve pinch. Sigh. Power off. Reboot.

RAM Error! NMI happened on block F000. Press F1 to ignore NMI F2 to reboot,” said the computer. Well, as much as a computer can say by printing stuff to the screen.

I said some pretty nasty things towards the computer and Bill Gates' lineage. Power down and reboot. Same error. Power down, open case, reseat everything, swap the two memory sims. Close case. Power up. Same error. More swearing at Bill Gates. Talk things over with Rob. Take out network card. No error. Still more swearing. I had fried the network card.

In my sixteens years of poking about computers I've never once fried anything. I've plugged in serial cables, monitor cables, keyboard cables, printer cables, what have you, into live systems and never had a problem even though you are told, “Never plug a cable into a live system!” I've never had a modem fried and I live in a state that is the number one state for deaths by lightening strikes.

I go to pick up Spring from work and in talking with one of the NT admins over there, learned that when something like that happens, just reboot Windows a bunch of times and the problem will be fixed.

We get home and I get back to work on the Windows box. Put the network card back in, power up. No error. This is good. Only it doesn't see the network. This is bad. I check the settings. Okay, I see the network driver and the IP stack listed twice. I delete the spurious entries and of course Windows has to reboot.

Upon rebooting, it finds the network card and wants to install it. Only I can't find the drivers for it, nor can I find the Windows 98 CD-ROM. At this point, I'm thinking to myself, People actually want Windows XP where they don't get a CD-ROM in case something happens? I tell Windows to skip files it most likely already has installed. And again I find the double interfaces and IP stacks.

I think I went through the same thing twice more (and believe me, it gets worse) before clueing in. I delete all things network related and reboot. Scramble through an attempted install of the drivers (okay, this file is here … this file is here … this file … I don't know where that file is so we'll skip it … this file is here … ) and finally I have one network interface and one IP stack. Configure those, and reboot and finally I'm back on the air.

Only with no sound.

By this time Spring is slowing inching away from me, with a look of concern on her face as I'm swearing up and down, wishing vile and evil things to happen to William Henry Gates, III. I never swear unless I'm really upset at something.

Windows doesn't see the sound card. It doesn't show up on the system devices list. I then try to add hardware. Windows still doesn't see it. I tell it “You have a sound card! It's a such-n-such.” It dutifully tells me it wants the drivers disk.

Of course I can't find that either. Remember, we just moved so things are still a bit crazy around here. I do the same trick I did with the network card, point Windows to where the drivers have already been installed so it can copy over the files in place.

And of course I reboot.

And of course it still doesn't work.

But I have net access! I find current drivers for my sound card, and install those. And reboot. And it still doesn't work because Windows just can't seem to find the sound card.

Power down unplug all cables open case remove sound card plug in cables power up shut down unplug all cables insert sound card plug in cables power up Windows finally sees new hardware install drivers reboot and …

It works.

All because I unplugged a network cable from a running Windows box.

Thursday, February 21, 2002

Bad Hair Day

I drove to Jupiter today to meet a client. For all that happened to me, it would have been better had I driven to the planet Jupiter instead.

Leaving the house I was already in precarious mood—I had just told Spring something she suspected about her job but didn't want to hear and for that I was feeling a bit bummed out as I left to meet the client (who happens to be a friend of mine). I'm even more bummed out when I find that I have no map of Palm Beach County in the car. I have one of Dade County (Miami). I have one of Broward County. But my Palm Beach County map must still be at Condo Conner (since I obviously didn't return the map from the last time I scanned it). But the directions were simple enough that I thought I could do without.

Now Jupiter is an hours drive north but since it was still the early afternoon I expected the traffic along I-95 to be rather smooth sailing.

About five miles up, I-95 turned into a parking lot. As I was inching my way over to get off I was seriously thinking about heading back home and from there, calling my client and cancelling. Other than computers not working as they should, traffic is the one thing that angers me the fastest.

I managed to get off at the next available exit (Atlantic Avenue for those of you who might know the area) headed east. My thought was to take this to the next major north/south road and take that for a while, but as I drove east the neighborhoods turned more towards the economically challenged and I figured I'd be better taking a north/south road further west.

Having made my U-turn, going back under I-95 (and seeing more people pour onto the north bound parking lot) I finally found another north/south road to take (Congress Blvd for those that care). I drove along this for quite a few miles, trying to route around whatever damage was blocking up I-95.

By the time I eventually returned back to I-95 the traffic northbound was flowing freely again thankfully, but the detour meant I was already going to be about half an hour late. Thankfully, the client (my friend) would be understanding.

Now, I need to get off at a particular exit (Indiantown Road). It's not an area I'm familiar with so I have to pay close attention. As I'm driving, I see two signs: “Indiantown Road: 2” and “Jupiter: Next 2 exits.” About two miles down the road I see: “Exit 59A: Jupiter” and “Exit 59B: Okachobee.” Nothing at all about Indiantown Road.

Of course, once I pass those two exits, I get this rather bad feeling. Sure enough, about another mile down the road I see: “Welcome to Martin County!” Indiantown Road, and Jupiter, the town the road runs through, are in Palm Beach County, not Martin County.

Bad enough.

But at this part of I-95, the exits are significally far apart. “Next Exit: You did fill up the tank, right?” apart. I've had this feeling before and it's not pleasant. So now I find myself headed towards Ft. Pierce, another hour north. I should have turned around when I had the chance, I think to myself.

Ten miles later, I get a chance to make a U-turn at Hobe Sound, Florida. Ten miles later I'm getting off at the exit I should have.

So I'm an hour late to my meeting, but hey, no problem; these things happen. So I'm there to help my client (and friend) with his website.

Only my client forgot that I don't do Windows.

And he's running IIS under Windows 2000 and using Windows XP for a workstation.

And he doesn't have administrative rights to his router.

So there's not a whole lot I can do.

But we do have a nice lunch and discuss some of the things he's working on, and I do help him a bit with the layout of his network, and he does pay me for at least making the trip so it isn't a total loss.

So we're done by 5:00 pm.

5:00 pm.

And at a minimum, I have an hour's drive home.

Under good conditions.

Like 1:00 am.

Not 5:00 pm.

It looks like the best bet would be to take the Florida Turnpike home.

I look in my wallet: a lone dollar bill is sitting there.

My client gives me a handfull of change to cover the tolls. And fortunately, Indiantown Road has a exit on the Turnpike. And this far north, I-95 and the Turnpike are very close to each other.

I say goodbye to my client, and head west.

By the time I notice that I'm on the southbound exit to I-95 it's too late—I can't get over. So I find myself heading south on I-95 at 5:10 pm.

I have no map of Palm Beach County. Which means I don't know where the next exit to the Turnpike is. I figure I'm screwed anyway, so I'll take I-95 until it turns into a parking lot and take it from there.

I'm still north of West Palm Beach when I-95 turns into a parking lot. I take the next exit which is some random numbered street, and head west. My thought is to go as west as possible, maybe out to US-441 where the traffic shouldn't be that great, and take that south.

But as I cross a north/south road I'm only vaugly familiar with (Haverhill Road) and continue west, I realize that US-441 doesn't actually make it this far north—it turns west a few miles south of me somewhere. Another problem: the road turns rather rural and I'm the only person travelling west at this point. All the traffic I see is headed back east. Great, I thought. I'm going to end up at Lake Okeechobee at this rate. Lake Okeechobee being that large lake in the middle of Florida you see on maps. That large lake in the middle of Florida you see is also one hour west of where I'm at.

And it doesn't look like there's anyplace to turn around any time soon. So I keep going. Resigned to my fate of ending up at Lake Okeechobee.

Only I don't get to Lake Okeechobee. The road turns north (into Jog Road, which is odd, because it doesn't turn south, even though in Boca Raton this far west there is a Jog Road) and leads straight into a garbage processing plant.

I'm saved!

I turn around, head back east and at the first north/south road (Haverhill Road) I turn south.

And hit stop and go traffic.

This continues until I find a road that's far enough south that I know US-441 hits, and turn west again (Forest Hill Blvd), and finally hit US-441 about an hour and a half after I left Jupiter.

I'm headed through Green Acres (which is not the place I want to be) and marvelling at all the contruction on US-441 and on both sides. Commercial properties, planned communities, apartment blocks, road construction. And it's not just Green Acres—it's all along US-441 as I'm headed south back towards Boca Raton. It's rather disquieting actually. I remember, perhaps ten years ago, maybe as much as fifteen, that US-441 along here was very rural. Drive half an hour to an hour north of the Broward/Palm Beach County line and you're driving along farming country. Now it's all in the hands of developers.

By the time I got home (two hours after I left Jupiter) I was all bent out of shape. Way out of shape.

… What I saw was the majority of property owned not by humans but by corporations. Sure, I saw homes, but the majority were in “communities” like Coral Applebay or Banyan Creeks or Mons Olympus (“if you have to ask, you can't afford it”) where nominally you own the home but more likely than not you own a volume of space and property values uberalles prevails. You are paying for the priviledge of essentially renting.

Then there were the apartments I saw—endless runs of apartment buildings between Jupiter and Boca Raton. And Century Village, the paragon of Condo Commandos. What must it be like to buy a place there where most residents leave in hand carved pine boxes priced at $20,000?

I finally snapped I think. I got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on I-95 at 1:30 in the afternoon! Last I heard (and this was probably a good five years ago now) there were 5,000 people moving to Florida either daily or weekly and today it felt as if all 5,000 hit South Florida. Insane.

I found myself driving on 441 south. I seem to remember years ago that 441 was a two lane road in rural South Florida by the time you hit Palm Beach County but today I found it under heavy construction from Forest Hill (just south of West Palm Beach) southward. Housing communitities, apartments and commercial properties where sprouting along both sides of the road under the hands of speculatively greedy developers no doubt.

I want nothing better than to get the hell out of here.

Only I don't know where to get the hell to….

I want the flying cars, damnit! I want the 20 hour work weeks. I want giant wheel shaped space stations! I want a Gernsbackian future! Is that asking too much? Especially in the light of barely drivable cars, 80 hour work weeks (“and you'll like it too, god damn you!”), small soda-can shaped space station (note! singular!) and a Gibsonian future looming over all of us.

From email I sent to Hoade.

I'm feeling better now …


“Next exit: you did fill up the tank, right?”

This must have happened in 1990, 1991 thereabouts. The huge interchange between I-75, I-595 and the Sawgrass Expressway was still under construction, or finished enough to be used for traffic. I was rode with Bill to a friend's house in central Broward County and now we were headed home at around one in the morning. I suggested we take I-595 west and pick up the Sawgrass Expressway north; Bill lived only a mile or so from a Sawgrass exit, so we would get home rather quickly.

Or so we thought.

Since the massive interchange was still being finished, the exit we needed wasn't well marked and we sailed right past it. We also sailed right past US-27 without notice. About fifteen minutes and we had yet to find the exit which should have been maybe five, ten minutes away. Bill was getting nervous too—thoughts of being eaten by grues or even canibalistic humanoid underground dwellers attacking us.

The next exit came up and we made a decision—to take whatever road that was north. We drive off the Sawgrass only to find a short segment of a north/south road that goes underneath the expressway. We're rather surprised by this, so we end up on the onramp where we see a sign: “Next exit: 87 miles.”

We stopped the car.

No matter that we're on the onramp of an expressway.

We stare at the sign. “Next exit: 87 miles.”

We look at each other.

Bill throws the car into reverse and we drive backwards down the onramp, go underneath the expressway, and get back on going east.


Profitability trumps legality

Twenty years ago, writing about antitrust crimes in the Michigan Law Review, Easterbrook and Fischel, then both professors at the University of Chicago, wrote that managers not only may, but should, violate the rules when it is profitable to do so. And it is clear that they believed that this rule should apply beyond just antitrust.

In a nutshell, this is the Chicago School view of corporate law that has taken hold over the past 20 years.

Via InstaPundit.Com, Rotten to the Core

So, this explains crap like Microsoft and Enron and the RIAA and the MPAA over the past twenty years.

That's the bad news.

The good news?

According to the article, there is a rise of law professors from outside the Chicago School who are questioning this, and saying that corporations should actually follow the law! The horror!

Friday, February 22, 2002

Help these days …

tower, my colocated server, wasn't responding. Sure, it responded to pings, but not to any higher level protocol. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I didn't want to drive all the way down to Davie to reboot my server—not after yesterday and not at 4:00 in the morning.

So I call down there and tell them which server to reboot. Now, one of my friends (who is also a client) graciously allowed me to colocate my system with his since he's not using all his allocated bandwidth, and what bandwidth I use isn't even a drop in the bucket compared to what he uses (obligatory commercial plug: Live monarch butterflies!), so I stressed to the technician there to reboot the smaller server, the one sitting on top of the larger, rack mounted one.

Of course they reboot the wrong machine.

Sigh.

Another call down there. This time they hit the right server.

Now, my colocated server is a 486, so it's not the fastest thing in the world. And it does take quite a while for it to check the 17G drive when it doesn't shut down cleanly.

Half an hour later, it's back up and everything is fine.

Until the technician reboots my machine.

Fortunately, it's a clean shutdown, but why the second reboot? Especially when I didn't ask for it.

Sheesh!

Saturday, February 23, 2002

That old time relgion

I recently asked Barrett what he has learned about religious change in his decades of working on the encyclopedia. “The main thing we've discovered,” he said, “is that there is enormous religious change going on across the world, all the time. It's massive, it's complex, and it's continual. We have identified nine thousand and nine hundred distinct and separate religions in the world, increasing by two or three new religions every day. What this means is that new religious movements are not just a curiosity, which is what people in the older denominations usually think they are. They are a very serious subject.”

Via InstaPundit.Com, Oh, Gods!

A very long, but very interesting, article on religion in our modern world.

Me? I find it fascinating that people feel compelled to believe in something; there's a compulsion towards a spirituality that we humans seem to crave. Spring, for instance, found a comfort in the rituals and ceremonies of Judaism even though she cares not one whit for the politics of Israel. My best friend Hoade has become a Budhist. Even my Dad follows some Eastern thought (and plays golf religiously but that's another thing … I think) and he's about as cynical as you can get.


A Deadhead is gonna save the world

That's just it: We don't know. We've reached a point where the media are so owned by the large corporations and they live in this tight loop where practically all they can convey is what is already believed. I believe that mass media exists to confirm the hallucinations of the masses. If you want to get a story through that doesn't sync up with the dominant belief system, it's just not going to happen. So who the hell knows what else is going on out there?

Via Slashdot, Trouble ahead, trouble behind

An interview with Grateful Dead lyricist (and now String Cheese Incident lyricist) John Perry Barlow, where he echos some of my sentiments towards large corporations.

I also liked the following quote:

The Grateful Dead invented viral marketing without really meaning to…We gave our music away. At the time, we did it because we felt there was no way to stop Deadheads from taping it, and besides, we weren't in it for the money, because we weren't making any. But those tapes became the androgen of our success. They spread that virus all over the damn place, and by the time we died, we were the largest-grossing entertainment act in the business because of performances, but not exclusively.

Put that in your bong and smoke it, RIAA.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

The town that Walt built

EPCOT will be an experimental city that would incorporate the best ideas of industry, government, and academia worldwide, a city that caters to the people as a service function. It will be a planned, controlled community, a showcase for American industry and research, schools, cultural and educational opportunities. In EPCOT there will be no slum areas because we won't let them develop. There will be no landowners and therefore no voting control. People will rent houses instead of buying them, and at modest rentals. There will be no retirees; everyone must be employed. One of the requirements is that people live in EPCOT must keep it alive.

Walt Disney's original plans for EPCOT

It's scary to me that Walt Disney's vision of living is actually comming true in this day and age. While his actual vision wasn't implemented, most of it has, in fact, come around to being true. And not just in Celebration, Florida. Now, I thought this condo association was tough—it's nothing compared to what Walt Disney wanted:

Because EPCOT, like Disneyland, was to be open to paying visitors, however, Disney intended to regulate the lives of the city's residents almost as thoroughly as the climate in the dome. Representative local government was ruled out. No residents were to be permanent. Pets would be forbidden, dress codes would be enforced, and residents would be expelled for unbecoming conduct ranging from drunkenness to unmarried cohabitation.

Disney is showing us the future all right: The future of government. They already have their own currency, their own cruise line and islands and they even have passports (although they're not quite like passports as the U. S. Government issues, they're still called passports).

I wonder if one can seek political asylum at Disney? Perhaps if you work for Six Flags you could swing it.

Reading through the site, I'm awed at the vision, yet repelled by the control Disney wanted over the people living there; this is worse than any condo association I've ever heard of. Everyone must be employed? By whom? I'm guessing Disney (or the city, but is there any difference?) What about artists? Free lancers? The idle rich?

That's one hellacious company town to me.

Clean streets? Low crime rate?

I think I'll take my chances on the outside.


Utopic distopia

I'm intrigued by the work of Paolo Soleri, a big proponent of arcology. An arcology is generally a huge building that can house an entire community of 20,000 or more and includes work and living space. A city in a box, if you will. I also have an interest in Buckminster Fuller, who has also done work in large scale construction for housing communities.

Yet the planned communities by Walt Disney scares me. And yet, is there any real difference between the work of all three? All three center their ideas around “planned communities,” where everything is executed to a script set down by these visionary geniuses—yet in my experience (and well documented by Stewart Brand in How Buildings Learn) the more detailed the planning, the less flexible the result will be. Frank Lloyd Wright's homes are static and unlivable (they leak water like you wouldn't believe). As art, they're genius. As homes—they're failures.

As are utopias. If they worked, there'd be more of them around.

My Dad lives in Palm Springs, California and each time I visit him, the town is exactly the same, only completely different. The physical structures remain static—that's because Palm Springs has legislated development in Palm Springs to such a degree that nothing can change physically. Yet stores come and go and come and go and come and go because Palm Springs can't grow! The city government wants to plan the look and feel of Palm Springs and by doing so, is strangling it of all possible life.

Then again, the unrestricted growth of South Florida is alarming me and that is anything but controlled (well, for the meaning of controlled as I'm using it right now).

There has to be some happy medium in here somewhere.

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

For Lorie

My friend Lorie is a fan of Blue's Clues so when I found the Official (Post-Blue's Clues) Steve Burns Web Site I knew I just had to send it to her.

He's not a half-bad musician either.

Obligatory Picture

[Don't hate me for my sock monkey headphones.]

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

You have my permission to link freely to any entry here. Go ahead, I won't bite. I promise.

The dates are the permanent links to that day's entries (or entry, if there is only one entry). The titles are the permanent links to that entry only. The format for the links are simple: Start with the base link for this site: http://boston.conman.org/, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

http://boston.conman.org/2000/08/01

You can also specify the entire month by leaving off the day portion. You can even select an arbitrary portion of time.

You may also note subtle shading of the links and that's intentional: the “closer” the link is (relative to the page) the “brighter” it appears. It's an experiment in using color shading to denote the distance a link is from here. If you don't notice it, don't worry; it's not all that important.

It is assumed that every brand name, slogan, corporate name, symbol, design element, et cetera mentioned in these pages is a protected and/or trademarked entity, the sole property of its owner(s), and acknowledgement of this status is implied.

Copyright © 1999-2017 by Sean Conner. All Rights Reserved.