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.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Simple amusements II

For those of you living outside the United States, today is 01/02/03.

Okay, so I still find that amusing …


If it's risk-free, it isn't glorious.

Broken up and vanished. In the sky over Nacogdoches County. And I'm sad all the way back to the little boy with his stiff black book and his Bonestell rockets.

But Willy was right, and nobody ever said it would be risk-free.

If it were, it wouldn't be glorious.

And it's only with these losses that we best know that it really is.

William Gibson

I remember being in school, watching Columbia on TV as it was either launching or landing on the first shuttle mission—STS-1 in April of 1981. It was the start of the modern space age; no longer did we have these one-shot rockets but a reusable spacecraft that looked like an airplane. The implication that Real Soon Now, Joe Sixpack would be able to walk up to the Pam-Am ticket booth, buy a ticket to the O'Neill Space Station and sit crammed in a small seat and eat small portioned luke-warm airline food without even the benefit of a window seat. We couldn't wait. I was in 6th grade at the time.

On Tuesday, January 28th, 1986 I arrived home from school (it was a half day due to mid-term exams) to the phone ringing. It was Mom calling urging me to turn on the TV because the shuttle exploded on lift-off. The hope of being able to take a weekend jaunt to the moon were dashed amid shock, denial and a string of tasteless jokes about NASA standing for “Need Another Seven Astronauts.” No excuse, other than we were still kids. I was in 11th grade for our generation's JFK moment.

I was in front of the computer when Gregory called with the news. I didn't even bother turning on the TV this time and any hopes of a continued American presense in space are now spread halfway across Texas. I hope I am wrong.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Not quite war driving

On Friday, through the generousity of a friend I was able to obtain an IBM ThinkPad laptop that is, sadly, more powerful than my main desktop system (more RAM, better CPU). I've spent the past two days compiling and installing software (of course it's a Linux box) which includes software to monitor wireless network activity.

Using Kismet to scan for WAPs (which seems to be very good software as it can also monitor a GPS to record the location of each WAP) I then took the laptop for a test by walking through the parking lot.

From previous experience I knew there were at least two other WAPs (excluding ours) in the imediate area but little did I expect five other WAPs just in the area around the parking lot here in the Facility in the Middle of Nowhere (near the number of access points we found by driving). I'm also amazed at the distance the signal can travel—I picked up our WAP halfway across the parking lot (a couple of buildings down), along with our neighbors (one of the two I originally picked up).

Monday, February 03, 2003

“And how does this save us money?”

Cross-range maneuvering is no longer possible by 50,000 feet. You're locked in, wherever you're going. Now you have company. Fighter planes—“chase planes”—have picked you up. They're swarming all around you, snooping around the hull for damage. Eighteen miles from the runway, you finally slow to subsonic speed. Now you really have some options. At this low speed and altitude, you could punch out safely.

At 12,000 feet, the plummeting begins. Nose down at 24 degrees to the horizon, 30 degrees in some flights. Feels like a dive bomber. That DC-9, the one that makes your knuckles white on commercial flights, comes in at three degrees. Thirty seconds out, you can raise the nose back up. Now you have one and only one chance to lower the landing gear. No time to cycle them. If the gear don't lock, that's it. The chase planes are coming right down to the strip with you, following your every move like baby ducks. They snoop around the landing gear. Locked? If not, the chase pilots have a couple seconds to tell you to bail out.

Via Scripting News, 5 … 5 … 3 … 2 … 1 … Goodbye, Columbia

The excerpt is talking about the landing of a shuttle. In fact, both the take-off and landing of a shuttle is pretty scary when you read about it. The article itself is from April of 1980 and goes into the cost overruns NASA incurred building the shuttles and how they aren't even that cost effective.

I remember hearing the arguments as a kid—especially the bit about the tiles, all 33,000 individually made and placed tiles per shuttle. So brittle that you could crush them in your hand. And the payload? Lucky to get a full 65,000 pounds into space. The Saturn V could lift 250,000 in a single shot (and in fact, the later stages of a Saturn V were used to construct Skylab in the mid-70s, which I suspect was bigger than the current Internation Space Station).

Sigh.

The shuttle is good at getting people to and from space (that is, when everything works correctly). I don't really see why we had to abandon the disposable rockets for those times when really large payloads have to go into space (like space station modules or even geosynchronous satellites) and leave the shuttle as a primary people mover.

But politics and budgets won.


Just what constitutes an email address?

In my general following of links while reading an article, I come across one of those annoying banner ads made to look like a pop-up message from Windows (which stick out pretty badly, given that I'm not using Windows) that said my current session-id (my very own session-id) was picked as an hourly winner for some prize or other. Interested in what the punchline would be (and not fearful at all about unwanted pop-ups since I have that disabled in Mozilla, and since I'm not running Windows or IE I don't have to worry about my machine being taken over by rouge Active-X web applications) I started clicking.

Oh my, a form asking for personal information and an email address. Okay, fill in obviously bogus information and a dead email address, and keep on clicking. I pass up offers to win this or that or fill out this form giving some other marketing company my personal information to win something else until I come across the Publishers Clearinghouse $100,000 dollar online giveaway. On yet another whim I decide to check the “Official Rules:”

For this promotion, one online entry is allowed per e-mail address. Subsequent entries from a given e-mail address will not be eligible.

So, they only allow one entry per email address. Okay, but …

Write-In Entry Instructions You may write in as often as you like to enter our ongoing Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes at the address below. Sweepstakes eligibility will be based on date the write-in entry is received. Just mail each entry separately. We do not accept entries from a third party or entries sent in bulk.

I can understand their reasoning for this—it takes more effort to physically write in than it does with email, but it doesn't take that much more effort to obtain multiple email addresses—especially if you own your own domain (or control mail for multiple domains). I can easily cobble up a few thousand email addresses to spew their way. Heck, I can even automate the submission process.

But … could I legally win? By their own rules, it states that only one entry per email address—there isn't anything that says one entry per person.

“Why yes, your Honor, I do have 23,532 email addresses … spam you know … ”

Ah, but see, they have the money to take this to court if it doesn't go their way; I don't.

Which is probably keeping me from doing such a thing.

Upate later today

Reading further, not only is the end date for submissions December 31st but the odds of winning are 1 in 95,000,000.

The Florida State Lottery has better odds at 1 in 14,000,000.

But they do say you can enter as often as you like.

But not from the same email address ...

Hmmm ...


Well, it's the thought that counts …

Valuable lesson learned: check the box before you buy!

Saturday I went to CompUSA to buy Spring a digital camera for her birthday (which is today). Wrapped it up, and hid the package for her to find when she returned from work.

Only there was something missing: the camera!

Sigh …

Off to CompUSA later today …

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

A camera buying expedition

I was able to return the empty camera box to CompUSA in Deerfield yesturday. When asked about the availability of the Olympus D-550 Zoom they said that while they're still listed as being sold, they had none in stock but there was one at the CompUSA down in Plantation we could try.

Gregory mentioned wanting to go, since he had to pick up some equiptment for his job today we drove all the way to Plantation (or I should say, he drove all the way, I went along for the ride) to check out the store. Of course the one model they had was the display model; no other units in stock.

Not deterred, we decided to try next door at Circuit City. This time no Olympus D-550 Zoom cameras in sight. But that still left Best Buy across the street. Might as well try there.

And it was a good thing we did. Not only did they have one left (the display model) but they were willing to sell the unit for $50 off the price (making it only $250), although I did have to suffer through the hard sell (“Do you want the extra-extended-super-safe-warranty? How about software? Or batteries? Or memory?”). As an added bonus, not only did I get the 16MB smart-card that comes with the camera, but the 64MB card the store had put into the camera (and that goes for about $50). The camera, despite being a show model, is in great condition and Spring is very happy with it.

And so am I.


A random selection of pictures found in the digital camera I bought for Spring

[A Few Good Cameras] [Store] [Store II] [Store III] [Sony Cyber-shot] [What time is it?] [The Lamanites] [Oh My God!  Her Head Exploded!]

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Yet more preparations for war driving

Yet more wardriving equipment. I borrowed a GPS unit from Gregory to hook to the laptop. Yet after an hour of fooling around I could not get anything from the GPS unit. Not one byte of data.

Searching around for a possible answer, I read where you might need a NULL modem cable to talk successfully to a GPS unit. Great! While I have a NULL modem adaptor, it's buried with the rest of the computer equipment that I've yet to unpack. Even if I had that, the adaptor itself is a DB-25 form factor, while the cable (and serial port on the laptop) are both DE-9† form factors so that would require yet more adaptors.

But it's a specially constructed cable for the unit so you would think the wiring would be correct. So, using that logic (and not wanting to dig through boxes looking for adaptors) I tried hooking the GPS up to my older laptop.

It worked. I can see data spewing forth from the GPS unit.

But the serial port on the new laptop doesn't appear to work.

Bummer.

† Although commonly referred to as “DB-9,” DE-9 is the correct designation—the letters refer to the physical size of the connector while the number referrs to the number of pins. A VGA monitor cable uses a DE-15 connector, for instance.


Just how do you markup foreign words in HTML?

Jonathon Delacour wrote a response to my entry about semantically marking up foreign words in HTML (and why, when viewing that entry, certain browsers kept asking users to install Japanese Language support). The comments on that response spilled over to another entry Jonathon wrote about the problem.

Reading the comments is interesting as there doesn't seem to be a real consensus as towards The Right Thing to do, especially when using romanji to write Japanese words. Do you use <SPAN> like I do? Or is <I> with the LANG attribute correct? What about <CITE>?

I think we're still quite a bit away from the semantic web at this point.


To the land with the funny Ø

Spring is off to Sweden again and once again, this time for a week.

I can't wait for her to get back.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Of course the serial port doesn't work …

I mentioned to Mark the trouble I was having with the serial port on the laptop and he mentioned that most laptops have such ports normally turned off to save power.

Of course. My very first laptop was like that—you would have to enable the serial ports before using them. Forgot about that.

A quick Google search and I find:

The serial port is disabled by default in the TP600. The TP600 can only run one of the serial and infrared ports at a time. The easiest way to enable the serial port is to go into Windows 95 and use the config tool there.

Linux on IBM ThinkPad 600

(I also learned about potential battery problems but for me, that's par for course—this is the first laptop I've had that I could run for any amount of time off the battery)

Looks like I'll have to download tpctl to enable the serial port.

Friday, February 07, 2003

Wifi Maps

From: Drew from Zhrodague <XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX>
To: Sean Conner <sean@conman.org>
Subject: Wardriving
Date: Fri, 7 Feb 2003 17:32:38 -0500

Noticed from your blog, that you can almost wardrive. Check-out http://www.wifimaps.com , might get you just a little bit more interested. Hope it's warm where you are, Boston sucks.

Email from Drew

Quite pleasant where I am, and thanks for the link.

I checked out WiFiMaps and it is an incredible site, allowing you to select a city then zoom in on known WAPs. Very nice site. Very nice.

Saturday, February 08, 2003

Pop goes the car fuse

It doesn't look like I'll be able to use the laptop for wardriving.

Mark, Kelly and I decided on an impromptu war driving session tonight (this morning? Ah, the wonders of midnight) starting from Kelly's house. I had my laptop, Kelly had his (obviously, we were at his house); Mark didn't have his on hand since the war driving session was pretty much last minute. As Kelly was downloading yet another wireless monitoring package (for Windows) to try, we discussed who would drive. We settled on Mark driving this time, since there were only three of us, and this time I wanted to run a laptop.

Once Kelly finished installing the software, we arranged ourselves in Mark's car—Mark as driver, Kelly got shotgun, myself in the back. Mark plugged his inverter into the cigarette lighter; Kelly and I plugged our laptops into the inverter.

Which promptly died.

The fuse in the inverted was still good. After a few minutes of discussion about the situation, we came to the conclusion that we may have blown the fuse on the cigarette lighter. We then abandon Mark's Toyota Camry for my Chevy Lumina, which last time had no problem running two laptops off the cigarette lighter. Meant I wouldn't be able to run the laptop, but life is full of compromises.

We then arranged ourselves in my car—myself as driver, Mark got shotgun (and my laptop) and Kelly in the back. Mark plugged the inverter in the cigarette lighter, plugged in the laptops.

The inverter lasted maybe all of five seconds, then died.

More discussion. Since the fuse in the inverter is still good (it's rated at 30 amps) we must have blown the cigarette fuse in my car. Over to the Wal★Mart Supercenter. In the parking lot we check my car's fuse box and yup, the cigarette fuse is blown. In the store, fuses, out the store, replace fuse. Plug in inverter, plug in my laptop—

—and pop goes the car fuse.

Much discussion ensues. Do I want to risk replacing the 15 amp fuse with a 20 amp fuse? 30 amp fuse? We're pretty sure the battery and alternator can handle the current (later on back at Kelly's Mark checks—yes, the battery and alternator can handle it) but can the wiring? I decide to risk a 20 amp fuse—

—and pop goes the car fuse.

After that, I decide not to take any further risks, which pretty much killed the night's war driving effort. The power brick for my laptop is just pulling too much power. About the only thing I can think of next to to remove the battery since the laptop can run while recharging the battery; not sure if that will work or not.


Supplies are limited! Call now!

I offered a cheap Nigerian scam knockoff letter, but no one wanted it. Mike Cohen did me one better by obtaining a Nigerian scam knockoff letter, but, coming from a GEORGE WALKER BUSH about oil investments in Iraq, was much better than the chap Nigerian scam knockoff I was pushing.

But now, I have a genuine, Nigerian scam letter! It's a bit on the low side though—US$3,825,000. But it is an authenic Nigerial letter! First come, first serve!

Come on, I know some of you out there have yet to receive one! First one to ask gets it!

Anyone?

Bueller? Bueller?


Of course, it's the sharks that win

So the situation is that they are suing me to force me to remove graphics that are already offline and which I have told them will remain offline. And they are suing me to recover money that they know does not exist. Taubman is wasting not only their own time and money blindly pursuing this meaningless charge, this waste of resources has a ripple effect:

In fact, oddly enough, the only people who appear to be benefiting from this absurd situation are the law firm of Gifford, Krass, Groh, Sprinkle, Anderson & Citkowski, P.C. – and, in particular, Ms. Julie A. Greenberg, the lead partner on this case, whose website bio proudly boasts of her “extensive experience in the field of pretrial injunctions involving infringement." (I had a comment prepared to insert here, but I'll let Ms. Greenberg's words speak for themselves … )

Via Techdirt, Taubman Sucks! Act 97: The Discovery Order

I used to wonder why law suits took so long to work their way through the court system. After reading this entire site (way over 120 pages of it, and it's still on-going!) I can see why they take as long as they do as each side jockeys to prove they're right and to prove the other side are incompetent to stand trial.

And this is a relatively small case over a fan site of a mall!

What, exactly, do the lawyers suing Hank Mishkoff, think they are going to accomplish? They first started off by threatening Mr. Mishkoff with legal action for making a fan site for the client's mall and saying it was doing irreprable harm (trademark dilution most likely). Mr. Mishkoff would have taken the site down if they actually responded kindly to him, but no, after some discussions he was sued. At first he made a valient effort to defend himself but the lawyers have the law so stacked against everybody that you need a lawyer just to make any headway (and now Mr. Mishkoff has a lawyer working pro bono on the case). And nearly a year later, was hit with copyright infringement.

Who exactly, besides the lawyers, is gaining from any of this?

Certainly not Taubman's client, who have to pay for what is fast looking like a lost cause on their part, and even if they do win, any financial retribution will not cover their lawyers' fees at all.

It's coming to the point where businesses are going to have to reign in their legal departments before they're bled dried trying to defend their businesses—some actions are just not worth the effort.

Monday, February 10, 2003

I like the idea, but not keen on the timing

WASHINGTON—President Bush, having already set off a firestorm over his proposals to cut taxes and revamp retirement accounts, suggested on Friday that the time might be near to drop the income tax and replace it with some form of consumption tax.

Via InstaPundit, Bush ponders radical move to consumption tax

I like the idea, since I'm not one that spends a lot of money, although I'm afraid that this will be a severe wake-up call to those that live off credit. Then again, maybe not—without an income tax you'll have more money to spend and we are a society that likes to spend. But on the other hand, this may give incentive to people to save and the economists don't like that at all—it doesn't provide much stimulus to the economy as more people save and purchasing slows up.

Much more likely is we'll get yet another round of unintended consequences that with 20/20 hindsight seem perfectly obvious. Such as high home prices in an uncertain state this may cause the economy to tank further, despite what Bush is hoping for.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

She's back!

Spring is back from Sweden! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

“It's the economy, stupid!”

Although completely suppressed in the U.S. media, the answer to the Iraq enigma is simple yet shocking—it is an oil currency war. The real reason for this upcoming war is this administration's goal of preventing further Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) momentum towards the euro as an oil transaction currency standard. However, in order to pre-empt OPEC, they need to gain geo-strategic control of Iraq along with its 2nd largest proven oil reserves. This lengthy essay will discuss the macroeconomics of the “petro-dollar” and the unpublicized but real threat to U.S. economic hegemony from the euro as an alternative oil transaction currency.

Via Robot Wisdom, The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War With Iraq: A Macroeconomic and Geostrategic Analysis of the Unspoken Truth

Interesting take on the reasons we're so gung-ho to go into Iraq. It seems that the Caspian Sea oil fields aren't quite as big or as pure as first thought so the oil pipe through Afghanistan isn't economically viable at this time. And the Iraqi switching from dollars to the euro in November of 2000 is certainly interesting (I suppose to piss off the newly (non?) elected President). So our little excursion into Iraq may not only be for the oil, but to save our economy as we know it.

Nice …


What do you mean turning students into inmates? They already are!

A simple solution would avert the budget disaster facing California's schools: We should declare every public school to be a prison. The kids would understand.

Details need to be worked out, but I want every child in California to be given a 13-year prison sentence at age 5, with the possibility of a four-year extension.

That way, the $7,000 the state spends per student each year could immediately be raised to $27,000—what the state spends on each inmate annually. And our criminally under-funded schools would qualify for the only category in the governor's proposed budget that's slated to get more money this year.

Via Flutterby, Raising the Bars Complete sentences: Turning students into prison inmates

And why not? My old highschool looked and felt like a minimum-security facility when I was attending, and now it looks more like your standard prison, what with the concentric rings of fencing around it and what look to be guard towers along the building. Schools are already prisons of a sort, so this is just calling a spade a spade.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Two unknown spiders found lurking about the Facility in the Middle of Nowhere

[Spider 1-Profile 1] [Spider 1-Profile 2] [Spider 1-Profile 3] [Spider 2-Profile 1] [Spider 2-Profile 2] [Spider 2-Profile 3]

What's with everybody looking at Andrew Jackson?

I don't have an explanation for this.

This month alone, I've received over 1,400 image search requests (from Google Images) for Andrew Jackson. Going over the logs, I've see I also received over 1,400 requests for images of Andrew Jackson last month, but about an average of 30 or so from April through December, and over 200 in March, but that's when I first placed the image up.

Weird.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Query Redirects in HTTP, or rather, the lack of documentation thereof

Over the past few days, Mark and I have been going back and forth about implementation details in Seminole. It started out with a question about encoding URLs—when do you convert a space to %20 and when do you covert it to + (answer: you can always use %20 but you can only convert a space to a + in the query portion of a URL) but eventually got around to a point not covered in RFC-2616.

I like your idea of storing the query separate in the HttpdRequest object. It's a good idea, and I think may fix a problem where we do redirects and forget to tack on the query string. For example:

Redirecting http://server/some/directory?stuff
-to-
http://server/some/directory/index.html?stuff

Probably doesn't work now.

Email from Mark

Only thing is, RFC-2616 doesn't cover this situation. Sure, it covers what to do when redirecting a POST (and even goes into mind-numbing detail about when and when not to convert a POST to a GET when redirecting, and how that interacts with proxy and caching servers) but not what to do when redirecting a GET with a query.

I did some tests with Apache, and from what I can see, if Apache generates the redirect (for example, http://www.example.net/path to http://www.example.net/path/) it passes along the query string (http://www.example.net/path?a=1&b=2 is redirected to http://www.example.net/path/?a=1&b=2) but if the redirect comes from the Redirect directive (for example, http://www.example.net/p.cgi to http://server.example.org/q.cgi), then the query portion of the URL is dropped entirely (http://www.example.net/p.cgi?a=1&b=2 is redirected to http://server.example.org/q.cgi—note the missing query string) and since the RFC is quite mum on what the correct behavior is, we're having to wing it for now.


Don't shoot, we're Republicans!

Fifty years ago today, the Willie D as the Porter was nicknamed, accidentally fired a live torpedo at the battleship Iowa during a practice exercise. As if this wern't bad enough, the Iowa was carrying President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the time, along with Secretary of State, Cordell Hull and all of the country's WWII military brass. They were headed for the Big Three Conference in Tehran, where Roosevelt was to meet Stalin and Churchill. Had the Porter's torpedo struck the Iowa at the aiming pointy, the last 50 years of world history might have been quite different.

Via Jerry Pournelle, Don't shoot, we're Republicans!

Nothing much to add here, other than it's an amusing story and I'm finding it fun to think about what would have happened had the torpedo actually struck the Iowa. I don't think much would have happened in the long run—FDR would have most likely survived, been transported to another ship and still made Tehran, but still, there was that slight chance he would have been killed.

Even so, I don't think the outcome of the war would have been that much different; Truman still had to take over from FDR before the war was over.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Guess who? Not me …

From: xgrwAlyse <qydonancey10p@yahoo.com>
To: You@conman.org (fake To: address, by the way)
Subject: Guess who? khvqs
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2003 11:43:12 -0800

This is our second attempt at contacting you. We have been hired to contact you because someone you know is interested in you. Please follow the link below to find out who.

http://fff49857548.com/mwc19/

I figured Why not?

It piqued my curiousity and what with other services like it I've seen it is conceivable that someone I know may have indeed gone to the site and registered a crush. Such sites are annoying, wanting you to register to see who has the crush on you, but hey, why not try?

So, I hit the site (don't bother yourself though). Page comes up, pictures of cute corporate women, a progress bar stating that it's loading up my crush's profile and then hey! Click here to continue.

So I click and then my browser (Mozilla) pops up a dialog box asking me where I want to save an executable.

An executable?

Ooookay …

I save it, and since my curiosity is really piqued now, I even consent to running it (and have probably damned myself to a computer virus from Hell, but why not?). A window pops up, with the EULA and being one of the few people who bother to read such things (to find out just how hideously one-sided these things usually are) I start seeing what I'm about to agree to.

Warning: By using this software, your modem will dial a 900 telephone number. The number your modem will dial is 1-900-288-1109. You will be charged $34.99 on your telephone bill for the call and will be issued a username and password that will give you unlimited access for 30 days. No credit card is required to access this service. There is no minimum charge for this call. Scroll down for further instructions.

End User License Agreement for Workplace Crush

Not a problem, I think. I don't have a modem installed on this machine. Good thing too:

That's some pretty expensive porn there, given that you can plug just about any sex related term into your search engine of choice and get all the free porn you could possibly handle.

And then some.

So now, because I'm more amused than curious at this point, I click that “Accept” button. Not too worried since 1) I don't have a modem installed and 2) I haven't typed in a credit card number or bank account number.

I was rather impressed that the program didn't crash.

Instead it said it couldn't find the dialing unit and prompted me for some additional phone numbers it might need to dial out on.

<SIMPSONS CHARACTER="Nelson">Hah hah!</SIMPSONS>

Reading the EULA is rather amusing and I especially like the following bit:

Once connected, your computer modem will terminate this 900 telephone call automatically once a username and password have been obtained. You disconnect manually using one of the methods described below:

Yes, that is exactly how I disconnect manually—I take other, drastic and unusual acts to terminate the telephone connection.

Sheesh!

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

My Kit Porsche

Parking Spots (found via Jason Kottke) is an interesting photographic site where you take a picture of a toy car in such a way as to make it appear the site of a real car. Since I didn't have a matchbox car, I decided to use one of the Lego cars I had sitting around.

So there I am, outside, holding the car out at arms length and taking photos of it against the other cars in the parking lot at the Facility in the Middle of Nowhere and getting some rather strange looks from the kids running around while I attempt to work my way around focal length problems.

It's not easy getting keeping an object in the near foreground and an object in the far background both in focus—unless you have can have a high f/stop (an f/stop is a ratio of the diameter of the apature to the focal length and a stop is defined as the iris (or apature) opening which will allow twice or half the light as the previous or next stop) you are going to have a problem with the focus, and in order to get a small opening, you either need a lot of light or a long exposure. But the problem with a long exposure is that any movement of the camera will generate ghost images or an exremely blurry picture.

But we are now in the world of digital photography where we can now compensate fairly easily this problem. After reviewing the pictures I had (most with slightly blurry backgrounds) I decided to take two pictures—one with the toy car (and a blurry background) and one without the toy car (of just the background, but a sharper background) and do some post processing later—namely, cutting my hand with the car out of the first photo and pasting it into the second photo, with some cropping (since I didn't bother cutting my entire hand out).

The results weren't bad—a little jagged along the thumb side of my hand, but I'm still getting used to doing the image cut-n-paste thing. I then sent the resulting image off to Parking Spots so it should show up in a day or so.

Update later today

The entry I made bounced back since their mailbox had overfloweth. I'll have to submit the entry later …

Thursday, February 20, 2003

A parking spot for my Kit Porsche

From: <cars@dubster.com>
To: <sean@conman.org>
Subject: parking spot entry
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2003 21:18:50 -0500

Hi sean

I found your site via http://blogdex.media.mit.edu looks like you had problems sending a picture in. please send it again. don't worry about the depth of field.

sincerely Dubi Kaufmann

Wow. This I didn't expect at all, but I guess memes now travel fast in this Internet-enabled age of ours. So I resubmitted my entry and this morning received the following:

From: <cars@dubster.com>
To: Sean “Captain Napalm” Conner <sean@conman.org>
Subject: Re: A picture of my Porsche
Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 10:05:01 -0500

Hello Sean
you are in!
check it out at
http://www.dubster.com/cars/index.asp?id=100
thank you for taking part in parking spots.
Sincerely Dubi Kaufmann

Neat!


1000 Blank White Cards

Spring, Gregory and I played our very first game of 1000 Blank White Cards today. I've been interested in the game for quite some time, but it wasn't until Spring found a reference to the game and bought a box of 1000 blank white cards that we got a chance to try out this game.

I suspect that not only is this the first deck in South Florida, but the first deck to actually use official 1000 Blank White Cards, at a very narrow dimension of 3½″×1½″.

[Surf ARKANSAS / +100 points (GP)] [This is the title / your arms are wavy +200 (SLS)] [STEAL THIS CARD / +100 FOR PLAYING CARD / +200 FOR STEALING FROM DISCARD PILE (SPC)]

There are no real “official” rules to 1000 Blank White Cards (1KBWC); in fact, Spring and I have found three different sets of rules, so we adapted what we liked, and discarded what we didn't like. We played by the following rules (more or less):

The game is actually fun, despite how it might sound in the rules presented above. And now I need to scan cards and create webpages for the “Blank Cards—1000-Count Deck” (although naming it the “Surf Arkansas Deck” is appealing to me … )

Friday, February 21, 2003

“Davos? Didn't he create the Daleks?”

The world isn't run by a clever cabal. It's run by about 5,000 bickering, sometimes charming, usually arrogant, mostly male people who are accustomed to living in either phenomenal wealth, or great personal power. A few have both. Many of them turn out to be remarkably naive—especially about science and technology. All of them are financially wise, though their ranks have thinned due to unwise tech-stock investing. They pay close heed to politics, though most would be happy if the global political system behaved far more rationally—better for the bottom line. They work very hard, attending sessions from dawn to nearly midnight, but expect the standards of intelligence and analysis to be the best available in the entire world. They are impatient. They have a hard time reconciling long term issues (global wearming, AIDS pandemic, resource scarcity) with their daily bottomline foci. They are comfortable working across languages, cultures and gender, though white caucasian males still outnumber all other categories. They adore hi-tech gadgets and are glued to their cell phones.

Welcome to Earth: meet the leaders.

Via Flutterby, Memo from Laurie Garrett

The big brou-haha over this is that Laurie Garrett never intended her email to reach a global audience and is quite upset over it. But the letter itself is that rare glimpse into the upper eschelons of world power and since the traditional news media (at least here in the United States) does not cover such events (really, how many here have even heard of the World Economic Forum? Or of Davos?) that this was a natural thing to forward on to friends and friends of friends and so on, because news of this world is so hard to come by.

Perhaps if the traditional media had done their job and covered such unsexy (and even downright scary) stories like this (and the fact that even our ruling jaunta is afraid of a global enomonic meltdown) then Ms. Garrett's email might never had made the rounds to global conversation.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

… and the ThinkPad stands alone …

Last night (this morning), Kelly, Mark, JeffK and I got together for yet another impromptu war driving session, only this time we all had laptops, and we all ran off batteries. Through the good graces of a friend, I was able to replace the defective battery in my ThinkPad 600 with a not-so-defective battery and since I hadn't really tested the new battery, I figured this would be as good a test as any.

It was a Good Thing™ that I had just finished fully charging the battery.

Mark ended up driving, with JeffK, Kelly and I scanning the area for WAPs. We wasted about 15 minutes with JeffK trying to get his scanning software working, and Kelly attempting to get the GPS hooked up to his laptop and talking to the WAP scanning software. It slowly became apparent that we wouldn't have GPS for this drive.

We ended up driving around residential neighborhoods, which seem to have a higher concentration of WAPs than the commercial zones. I'm not sure if it was the card I was using (a Cisco Airo 340), the software I was using (Linux running Kismet) or that Kelly and JeffK were using the same type of card (and my system kept picking their cards up) but I had better luck in finding WAPs than they did. And the battery lasted the entire trip and then some (over two hours total).

We did, however, confirm that Mark's house (and the homes around him) were not condusive to wireless network propagation, possibly due to their heavy concrete and steel construction (the neighborhood dates from the late 60s/early 70s and homes here in South Florida were solidly constructed).

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

How not to do a wireless caravan

When it rains, it pours, and this was no exception. Hindsight is always 20/20, so maybe if I explain how I XXXXXX up everything this trip it will save some other poor soul in the future the same character building experience …

“How I XXXXXX up the Wifi Caravan and CodeCon 03,” a short story of caution by coderman

A rather good primer on planning a wireless caravan and what could possibly go wrong. They, like us, had power problems due to inverters and well, then some …


Transcluding images

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this.

As I'm wont to do from time to time, I check the log files to see who may be linking to my site here and I see a bunch of references from MixedFolks.com; one of their forums.

Interesting, I think. I need to check this out.

Only you have to be a member of the site to read the forum.

Okay.

I then check to see what entry they're pointing to, only they aren't linking to an entry, but directly to one of my images (well, technically, not mine but an image stored on my server).

On the one hand, the image is there on my server and anyone can link to it (or rather, include it in their page with a bit of HTML—it's not hard at all). That is, after all, one of the points of the web.

On the other hand, someone is using a image (I really can't say it's mine) directly from my server, which consumes bandwidth that I'm liable for. And for a page that I can't even look at!

On the gripping hand, it's not like this image is being sucked down thousands of times (it's only about 60 requests so far this month).

So while it may be well within my right to replace the image with something that says:

This pathetic wanker is stealing bandwidth and still has trouble tying their shoes.

That may be a bit harsh of a punishment for what, really, isn't all that much. And besides, I'm more curious as to what use the image was being used for, than upset over the use of the image itself.

But the site is (indirectly, and through no fault of the people who own the site) using bandwidth from my server, and it's to a page I don't have access to.

I wrote to the webmaster of the site about this, asking how the image was being used and not upset over its use (I was, to tell the truth, more interested in seeing the page in question). I received the following back:

From: <webmaster@mixedfolks.com>
To: “Sean Conner” <sean@conman.org>
Subject: RE: A link to an image
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2003 23:03:31 -0500

OK, I found the post on my message board that contained the picture you mentioned and deleted the link to the picture. There was a Happy Valentines Day thread going and someone had linked to your pic.

Not exactly what I was asking for, and i do feel a bit bad (I certainly hope the person who linked to the picture didn't loose access for what was intended as something harmless in their eyes).

But they did use my bandwidth for a page I couldn't see …

And that's not the only instance I found—this post-it note (from an entry about missing a delivery) was linked directly. I'm not as upset over this (as there were fewer hits on this image and I could view the page to see it in context of that page) but still, it would have been nice to have some attribution …

Update

From: <webmaster@mixedfolks.com>
To: “Sean Conner” <sean@conman.org>
Subject: RE: A link to an image
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2003 23:03:31 -0500

Nah, no one got in trouble. There are lots of linked images on the boards. I was having the same problem with images being linked from my website til I turned on hotlink protection.

I don't feel quite as bad now ...

Friday, February 28, 2003

Dog, with kids

whimper

Obligatory Picture

[Here I am, enjoying my vacaton in a rain forest.]

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.