Tuesday, August 01, 2000
Sometimes life interviens, sucking up time that would normally be used for something else, like, oh, this journal. Sorry about the lack of details, but things are already … wierd enough to warrent some comments about appearing on Jerry Springer (and yes, I do see the humor in the situation).
Things are slowly backing down to normalcy.
Well, as normal as they can be.
And you either know what's been going on, and if you don't don't worry about it.
But I found this to be oddly fitting even though it has nothing to do with what's been going on for the past month. Nothing at all.
Through Windows Darkly
But that doesn't mean I can't fill you in on some of what's happened in the past month. I now have a Windows system at home, only because of a project I'm working on. The machine was supplied by the client so it's not like I paid for it.
I did, however, have to install Windows 98 on the system. And incredibly, it took only four reboots to have a functioning Windows 98 system. I think the record (amongst friends) is about eighteen reboots to get a Windows system working. I count myself lucky.
Then I installed one of the software packages I needed, only to find it needed another package before I could continue.
I did end up at CompUSA to get some of what I needed for the project, but it wasn't as bad as some people have said it could be.
I'm still trying to get the stuff working though.
It's been only about three weeks or so.
We were also amused that Gates suggested that there would be meetings at which people would be pointing their tablet devices at each other and beaming contact information: he may not know that this infrared handshaking has been a reality with fanatical Palm owners for some time.
Gates & Co describe long, hard code to .NET
Then there was the business lunch to discuss issues pertaining to the project I'm running Windows for. What I found amusing was that out of six people at the table, five whipped out their Palm Pilots and started exchanging contact information and data between them all.
I was the only one there without a Palm Pilot.
But I did have my Newton.
Excuse me … phone call …
I answer the phone. “Hello?”
<click whirr> “Please don't hang up. This message could be very important to you. If you are a senior citizen … ”
I hung up.
Oh … where was I?
So that pretty much brings me up to date.
Okay, there are still large gaps but it's either stuff I can't or won't talk about, or don't remember.
But part of the reason for the lack of updates is that I still don't have an easy method to update the journal, unlike the software I did for my friend Spring Dew. And until I get the software done, updating here is still a semi-automatic process.
I really need to get back to work on this.
Wednesday, August 02, 2000
Restart, Reboot, thankfully, no Reinstall …
There was a big thunderstorm here this morning and I think it affected the network somewhat. I turned on the Windows box (what? You think I leave that thing running all night? With all the garbage Windows spews forth on the network?) and after it finishes booting, it can't see the network.
The hub shows a connection. I remove the termination from the 10Base2 connection and half the network goes down like it should, so the hub is fine. Okay, restart Windows.
monnet, and I see some wierd stuff—the Windows
box is sending out Ethernet packets with the broadcast address as the
source! That's not right.
I shutdown Windows and powercycle the machine.
Now it's okay.
Man, Windows is just sooooooo wierd.
One out of three visitors is a robot
I found out that about 30% of my webserver traffic are robots—programs that crawl the Internet indexing webpages. Why did I calculate that?
A question on the Robots Mailing List (dealing with programs that crawl the Internet and not mechanical devices that walk about going “R2-D2, where are you?”) asking if robots skew banner impressions and click throughs. An interesting question and while 30% might seem a bit high, that's only because my server isn't a heavily trafficked site at all, despite my good placement in the search engines.
Sysadmins. I can't shoot them as I would end up with their job.
I wonder how sysadmins get their jobs. Especially those that have to administrate UNIX and yet don't quite grasp UNIX. Or directories. Or shell scripts.
Then there are those UNIX sysadmins that love complexity. They write inscrutable scripts that work most of the time yet still require a degree of micromanagment usually reserved for taking care of babies. They relish in foot high piles of network cables none of which are labeled.
What prompted this? A particular clueless UNIX sysadmin I have to work with. The sysadmin in question is nice, but is not a UNIX sysadmin and I want to vent a bit.
Sysadmins. Can't shoot them as I would end up with their job.
Friday, August 04, 2000
Out of Print
Perhaps. Works out of print and not in circulation do present a vexation, and perhaps a wrong to be remedied. Protecting the creator's right to those works gives the creator little to nothing, and deprives the public of their use; this seems an odd allocation of the public resources needed to protect the rights. Clearly a matter for legal clarification.
Some cases, though, are clear: authors make more money if they, their agents, and their publishers, agree to let a work stay unavailable for a time then reissue it. This is not so much a phenomenon of the public as it is of the distribution system, but in any event, it does work, and your scheme would destroy that stratagem. Is this your intent? Is it your right?
Jerry Pournelle on Copyright and Napster
Ninety-nine percent of what I have created in the last fifteen years is in print and available. There hasn't been a month go by since 1979 that I haven't made money on the story in Cerebus #1. Cerebus is creator-owned, yes, but more important it is creator-controlled. The critical element of control is a work being in print and available. If it is not in print and available and you would like it to be, you do not have control over it.
This is the second time I've referenced Dave Sim, the comic book artist responsible for Cerebus, but it's interesting reading the two contrasting points of view here.
Saturday, August 05, 2000
What do you get a millionaire for his birthday?
Today was John the paper millionaire of a dotcom's birthday, and the usual suspects (Mark, Jeff K, Kelly and myself were all invited to John's house.
The backyard relandscaping was finished and it was an incredible job. Two small streams, each starting from a waterfall (on either end of the back yard) and heading toward the middle. Each had a natual bridge, made of rocks, and leading to the other side of the backyard. The streams met in the middle, just behind a covered patio with an Asian feel to it. The streams were filled with koi and other aquatic plant life. It has a very pleasant and relaxing feel to it.
His wife hired two girls to come out—the first one was Christine who came out for an hour and spent it swimming and playing pool basketball topless. The second one was Vicki who posed as a pizza delivery girl but ended up giving John a lap dance.
We spent entirely too much time swimming, with Mark, Jeff and I all getting sun burns. It's to be expected from pasty white computer guys who spend entirely too much time basking in the glow of CRT screens in the dead of night.
The hamburgers that John grilled came from Sam's Club and where multi-inch thick monstronsities. They were excellent but were nearly too large. I was only able to eat half of mine; Jeff ate only half of his and only Mark was able to polish off two of them. The hotdogs were some brand (I forget) only available from New York but they were excellent. Much better than the national brands.
After swiming for several hours, John broke out the croquette set and with the help of his brother-in-law, set up the course across the entire back yard (that is, the part not taken up with the koi streams).
Croquette is a long game and one I found entirely too annoying to play. The grass was too tall and the balls wouldn't exactly go in the direction you would expect them to go, nor as far as you would expect.
It also didn't help matters that I was running dead last in the game and by the time I made it to the other side I had basically given up and decided to go after John, who was leading the game.
In croquette, if you hit an opponent's ball, you get the option of “sending them,” which means you place your ball next to theirs, put your foot on your ball, and whack it as hard as you can, sending the their ball off to parts unknown.
it's legal for the loosing player(s) (of which I was) to abandon the stated goal of getting the balls through the wickets (small metal arches set into the ground) and go after the other players. But that ment getting my ball, which was on one side of the yard, to John's ball, which at the time I got fed up, was at the other end being manouvered through the final two wickets.
I never made it. John won the game.
Afterwards, we sat in the family room watching bad movies on TV and MST3King them merclessly.
Sunday, August 06, 2000
“I'm sorry. I'm going to have to kill you now.”
There's nothing like getting slapped on the back when you have a bad sunburn.
Monday, August 07, 2000
Amazon? Barnes & Noble? Why pick one?
I'm reading the Jakob Nielson's Alertbox and the corresponding User Comments when an idea hit.
To explain the idea, you first need to understand what the articles are talking about. Briefly, Doc Searls switched linking to Amazon to Wordsworth and their revenue dropped; most people know how Amazon works, and don't want to bother learning how Wordsworth works, or with setting up an account there.The User Comment from Glenn Fleishman backs that up. ISBN.nu, a price commparison of on-line booksellers. I came across the site quite a while ago and it's a neat service. But he has a similar problem as Doc Searls.
So I thought—what if a website gave the user a choice as to which on-line bookseller to use? If cookies are used, a site can store the user's preference for on-line bookseller to use and a link to a book points to some CGI script that determines which bookseller to redirect to.
It can't be that hard.
Still blogging along
Despite the prevalent definition of weblogs as “links” pages, if one actually looks around at what's being published on blogs, they will find not only links and commentary, but news, diaries, photos, poetry, mini-essays, project updates, even fiction. What's consistent—and unique to the format—is a simple, approachable, and—with tools such as Blogger, GrokSoup, Manila, and Pitas—extremely convenient way to publish information to one's own web space at the “chunk” or paragraph level, versus the page, which requires much more complexity and overhead.
I've got the creation and manipulation of “chunks” down, it's the presentation that I'm still working on and is proving to be a difficult problem.
I mean, how do you handle navigation when the user can select an arbitrary portion of text?
But I'm still working on it.
I know an author!
Some more updates from The Great Hiatus that was July.
My friend Hoade got his novel, Ain't That America published! He says that it should be available at Amazon Real Soon Now, but still, this is great news.
It's not his first novel he wrote (that would be The Act which I think is still publishable) but the first to be published.
The Electric King James in use
Also, I received email from Andrew Senger who asked if he could link to The Electric King James. He's doing a website for the Wilson Baptist Church in (or near) Rutherfordton, NC.
I'm actually thrilled that someone is putting The Electric King James to good use so of course I gave him permission.
I also used to live in the area (well, about an hour away) as a kid. It's a very beautiful part of North Carolina.
Tuesday, August 08, 2000
Do spiders feel pain when molting?
I wonder if a spider feels the same thing I'm feeling just before molting. It's painful to move my arms—the sunburn seems to have pulled the skin tight and the nerve endings are just screaming if I move them about too much.
I know spiders break their old skin and shed it, but I want to know if it's a painful process. I know sunburns are painful (ouch ouch ouch).
My nose and forhead (which aren't painful) are already peeling. I just can't wait for the pain across the shoulders to subside and I can get a good night's rest.
“I take it you're Captain Napalm?”
So, being a bit bored I'm randomly checking links in my bookmarks when I go to SexyChyck Dot Com (no, it's not a porn site) and right there on the front page:
I take it you're Captain Napalm?
Uh … wow! How did that happen?
So I'm playing around with several complex senarios here (she saw my previous visit in her logs, decided to check out the Conman Site) when I decide to check the source code to the page in question.
Nothing quite that complex or time consuming. I told her who I was.
Visit her page for the first time and a dialog box will appear asking for your name. It's then stored in a cookie for later use.
Silly me. I'm easily amused.
Teen fasions: Straight Jackets
My roommate Rob and I went to the local T. B. O'McFlynagin's for dinner. One of the TVs hanging from the ceiling was tuned to the local Fox station and what was on but American High, a type of Real World for the high school set.
I found it amuzing at first, watching teenage angst from a decade (or so) down the road until the show focused on Morgan, who seemed to be in a straight jacket while talking about things.
It was hard to tell if he was upset or not, as the volume was turned off, but closed captions were turned on. But he seemed to be taking it all in stride, like wearing a straight jacket is normal for kids today, especially ones that take Ridalin, Prozac and other jagged little pills.
“My god,” I said. “I'm almost glad I'm not a kid today.”
“Me too,” said Rob.
Wednesday, August 09, 2000
The opposite of a misandrist is …
I'm catching up on Bruno, one of the on-line comics I follow, when I come across a series of strips about misogyny and the discussion that followed from those strips.
Any mention of mysogyny and comics in the same breath will eventually, if anyone close-by is a conneseur of comics, will lead to the infamous Issue #186 of Cerebus, created, written and drawn by Dave Sim.
I only bring this up because I've linked to Dave Sim before. Or rather, his 1993 Pro-Con Speech, which details self-publishing. He may be a mysogynist bastard, but he's a self-published artistic mysogynist bastard and while I may not agree with his views on women, he does have very good advice about self-publishing and maintaining artistic control over your own work, which is why I link to him. I also bring it up because earlier this day I was browsing some of the Cerebus related sites in a mood of just surfing around and wasn't expecting this topic to come up at all.
I've known about Issue #186 for some time, but that still hasn't decreased my interest in Cerebus. I was introduced to Cerebus by an old friend and roommate, Sean Williams, way back in 1990, nearly four years before Issue #186 hit the stands, and because of Sean Williams, I own (except for Issue #104) the complete run of “Church and State,” as individual issues, as well as “Swords of Cerebus” (which covers the first 25 issues of Cerebus) and a few other of the phone books that comprise the reprint history of the comic book. It's a phenomenal series and one that has influenced the comic book industry like none other.
You may be hearing of it for the first time, but trust me, Cerebus is to the comic book industry as Brian Eno is to recording—not many people outside the industry have heard of it (or him), but within the influences are tremendous.
It's just sad that Dave Sim comes across as such a jerk.
Then again, so does his creation, Cerebus …
Let me 'splain. [Pause] No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
Inigo Montoya, from The Princess Bride. (1987)
My friend AnnMarie and her husband are moving to Gainsville this week. A few months ago I said I would help her move. Kelly, also her friend, also agreed to help her move.
Well, it's time. Annmarie and her husband Marcus are moving.
I got a call from Annmarie around 6:00 pm. I was supposed to met her at 7:30 at her appartment to help her pack and move boxes into the moving truck. This was rather unexpected.
“Can you meet me at the U-Haul rental office?” she asked. “I need to meet Marcus there to rent the truck and I don't want to wait alone there.”
“Sure,” I said. The U-Haul office was close by—about fifteen minutes away from where I live. We hang up and I start preparing to leave. A few minutes later the phone rings. It's Annmarie, this time very frantic.
“I can't find the keys!” she said. “The guy at the U-Haul place is already waiting for us to show up! It's past closing time there. We won't make it!”
“Calm down,” I said. “Where was the last location you saw the keys?”
“Are they there now?”
“Have you tried your pockets? Purse? Living room? Bathroom? Office?” I rattle off other locations.
“I can't find them! What should I do?”
“First thing is call the guy at U-Haul. Explain the situation to him and see if he can wait a bit longer. Then call me back.”
“Okay,” she said and hung up. A minute or so later the phone rings. “Can you pick me up? I can't find the keys, and he's only going to stay there another fifteen or twenty minutes,” she said.
“Yes, but it will take me about twenty to thirty minutes to drive to your apartment,” I said. To get there, I have to drive north about eight miles, then east about seven miles. Going north is easy, it's going east that sucks up the time.
“Really?” she asked. Panic.
“I'll hurry as fast as possible, but yes, it'll take about that long.” We hang up and I drive over there as quickly as possible. I make it there in about twenty minutes or so; traffic was pretty good. I pick her up and I start driving back west and south to the U-Haul place.
“Marcus has the keys,” she said, in reference to their other car. “Kelly saw him pick them up last night.” So that explains why she couldn't find the keys.
The conversation over there consisted of her being upset over making the U-Haul guy wait, what was taking Marcus so long to drive to the U-Haul place from work and the somewhat poor planning that has been involved. For my part, I was trying to calm Annmarie down, telling her horror stories about past moves I've been involved with (“Yea, the last time I moved it was a last minute thing with me and my friend tossing my stuff in the back of a pickup truck. What a mess.”) and to try and accept the way things are and there is no use worrying about things.
We arrive at the U-Haul office to find their 32' truck sitting in front and Marcus' car there. We enter the office as Marcus is finishing out the rental paper work. He managed to finally arrive and start the paperwork before U-Haul guy left for the evening.
Once outside Annmarie and Marcus have a discussion about the recent events; I take an unnatural interest in the U-Haul truck in question. Thirty-two feet in length and fairly new in condition. Power everything (“for your driving ease”). Pretty nice. Instructions on how to drive it clearly visible to the driver and a lower bed than normal freight trucks for easier loading. Climate control. Automatic. Really just an oversized van with an advertisement for a mining museum in New Jersey.
After their discussion, arrangements are made to drive back to their appartment. Annmarie will drive in front, Marcus in the middle with the truck and I to follow. The drive back was for the most part uneventful even though we did get slightly off track (my fault—I thought the road the office was on went straight through to a major road, only it didn't. We ended up backtracking a bit).
Then it was time to park the truck.
Parking lot design in South Florida is an art. A black art to be precise. A black art that the practitioners take a delightful glee in pursuing it seems.
Most parking lots are designed with a fractal dimension close to two. But the designers of the parking lot where Annmarie live have manged to outdo even themselves and have managed a parking lot with a fractal dimension close to three.
Imagine if you will a hill. I know people here in Lower Sheol might have a hard concept of hill (seeing how Lower Sheol is flat. So flat it's nearly concave), but basically, picture a hill. Now, make a nice slice out through the hill, deep enough to cut below ground level. How hollow out the hill. The slice leads down and the parking spaces are beneath the hill. It gets better though. On top of both sides of the hill are more parking spaces, open to the elements. So there is parking below and on top of these hills.
Now, place these hills hapharzardly throughout the parking lot and cram as many spaces as you can between the score of parking hills. What you end up with is a masterful Byzantine labrynth of a parking lot with a fractal dimention close to three.
The sidewalks that meander throughout this mess approach a fractal dimenstion of two. And the placement of the apartment buildings is random; there is no logic at all to the placement.
The first time Mark and I went to her apartment, it took us ten minutes of navigation through the parking lot, and another twenty of walking around to find her building. The numbers on the reserved parking spots bear no relationship to the building number and the building number has no relation to the apartment number. The building numbers are not in a consipuous place like the side of the building, no. They're embedded in the sidewalk at the entrance to each building.
So you end up with Marcus and Annmarie having parking spots 639 and 640, building 604 and apartment 38.
Their apartment complex is a fractillian hell. And the upshot of all this is:
Marcus can't park the truck near his building. The closest is on the parking hill next to his building, but that would either mean the truck is angled front to back with items threatening to fall out the back (“Watch out! The entertainment center is slipping!”) or angled left to right with items piling along one side.
The closest flat spot is a guest spot off to the right of the building, but even if Marcus managed to park the truck there (and that's a big if), he would still manage to block off part of the parking lot.
Another spot, a few hundred feet in front of the building, is in front of another building on the grass, with a third location, between the two but you have to navigate around the parking hill.
A fourth spot would be to pull down into the parking hill, but that would mean going down yet another flight of stairs (did I mention they live on the third floor?) and blocking off a large number of cars from pulling out.
So Marcus parked in spot number three.
Not a friendly place to move into or out of it seems.
I should mention what a fractal dimention is before I go on, least I loose any more of my small audience.
Imagine a line. That is a one dimentional object—there's only two degrees of movement along a line. Now, square the line and you end up with a plane; a two dimentional object with four degrees of movement—left, right, forward and backwards. Square a plane and you get an object that is three dimentional with six degrees of movement—left, right, forward, backward, up and down.
Fractal dimentions are those that aren't whole numbers like one, two or three.
Now imagine a one dimentional object that curves about in a plane. Technically it's not a line, but something that is made up of segments of lines, all connected yet at no point does this object intersect itself. A straight line has a dimention of one. Put a curve into it, and the dimention goes up slightly, say 1.00000000000001 or so. The more curvy it is, the more it curves about and fills up the plane, the higher the dimention goes, towards two. But it doesn't quite become a plane.
An object with a dimention between two and three is a plane that curves and folds around to define a volume.
But the other kicker is that you can only follow along the line (or plane) and can't move outside it. A being who lives along such a line might not be aware that its universe is kinked that way—for all it knows it lives in a one dimentional universe unaware that it lives in something that is higher than one, but not quite two dimentions.
If not, don't worry about it. You don't need to really know about it.
Kelly was waiting for us at Annmarie's apartment and the between the four of us, found a place to park the truck in the Byzantine labrynth the builders jokingly call a parking lot. The four of us then went to the apartment.
Now, I've been over there before and if you were to ask me if they were packed and ready to load the truck, I would have to say no.
I was rather surprised. I could see them getting the truck tonight, loading some stuff on it now, then tomarrow loading the rest of the stuff and leaving Friday morning for the drive to Gainsville.
In fact, that's what I was rather expecting, because some travel plans I had made months ago were at hand. As I found out, they werent' expecting to leave until Saturday, which put a crimper on my travel plans. I could help them tomarrow, but I don't think I could wait around until Saturday to drive up to Gainsville.
As we talked about how to tackle the packing problem, we realized that several extra supplies were needed. The type that you can only get at Office Depot and Home Depot.
Kelly, Annmarie, Marcus and I piled into my car (being the biggest car) and drove across the street to Office Depot.
There we bought several boxes and bubble wrap. Hmmmmmmmm … bubble wrap. Three hundred feet of bubble wrap. Enough bubble wrap to—
Anyway, we didn't find any rope so then it was driving back across town (back towards the U-Haul office) for Home Depot.
Office Depot is bad enough, but Home Depot—three guys in a Home Depot. Those stores are dangerous if you aren't careful and even Annmarie was nearly carried away with all the stuff you can get there.
Both Kelly and I had to restrain Marcus and Annmarie from a spending spree and limit themselves to just rope. And some tape. Rope, tape and a tape dispenser. Rope, tape, tape dispenser and …
No body expects the Spanish—
Nope, wrong sketch.
Both Kelly and I had to restrain Marcus and Annmarie from a spending spree and limit themselves to rope, tape, tape dispenser and the Spanish Inquisition.
Both Kelly and I had to restrain Marcus and Annmarie from a spending spree and limit themselves to rope, tape, and tape dispenser.
We then ran for the parking lot, which fortunately had a fractal dimention below two.
Afterwards, we went to Burger King for dinner.
I find it rather disturbing that television is infiltrating our lives so much that you pretty much can't go anywhere and not find a television.
Most T. B. O' McFlynagin's have them. And it seems several fast food restaurants, like Burger King. I find them annoying, if only because since I watch so little television I get sucked right in.
That is, if I can see it. It's also bad if I can't but the other people with whom I'm eating with can.
Television is eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil. But you know that already.
Back at the apartment, Kelly and I help Marcus and Annmarie pack. I end up with the job of packing two rock water fountains, two modern lamps and a wok into their original boxes.
I was amazed that they kept the original boxes. Me, I toss the box pretty much immediately. But not Annmarie and Marcus. Much surprise there.
Kelly made runs to the truck, loading the area above the driver with light boxes, mostly clothes, which Annmarie was packing away.
On a return trip, Kelly informed the rest of us that the truck had a warning sticker slapped on it—it was illegally parked and action was immediately required.
And sure enough, on the driver side window of the truck was a towing sticker. Amusing since it would take an industrial sized towing truck to tow a 32 foot truck.
The sticker indicated the truck was illegally parked and the additional comment made it unclear if the truck was illegally parked because it spanned two parking spots and on the grass, or if the only questionable part was that it was parked on the grass.
This made Annmarie worried about the truck being towed so we spent the next half hour walking around the Byzantine labrynth jokingly called a parking lot trying to find a place we could park it.
We found none.
We then discussed where we could park it. Not much choices. We called Mark since he lives in an area with no association along a dead end street. He indicated that it might not be a good idea since one of his more surly neighbors was sure to call the police.
Marcus then said he would park it at his parents house as their driveway was big enough to hold the truck. We had no real choice but to do that. So he moved the truck, Annmarie drove their two cars into the guest spots the truck was parked over, and I followed Marcus to his parents house while Kelly and Annmarie stayed behind for more packing.
We dropped the truck off and drove back. Kelly and I spent another hour or so helping with the packing before leaving.
In the parking lot, Kelly and I hung out to talk for a bit. While out there, we could see Annmarie and Marcus through the sliding glass door on their porch, still packing and at one point from their third floor apartment we even heard them.
Kelly was so amused he called them on his cell phone.
A few minutes later we both left.
I got the feeling that that was the last time I would see Annmarie in South Florida.
Thursday, August 10, 2000
Artists CAN make money
The artist once again known as Prince was onto something when he sold his five-CD set “Crystal Ball” exclusively on the Web without the help of record companies, distributors, or record stores. On his website, he advertised the album and told his fans he would release not one song until he had 100,000 pre-orders for the entire record. He sold 250,000 copies and kept 95 percent of the revenue which industry experts estimate at $5 million.
Via Scripting News, Making money in a “copyright-free” world.
While I don't agree with the notion that copyrights should be abolished outright (anyone who thinks so should bone up on their history, especially France just after the French Revolution) but it is good to hear that several experiements of direct artist-consumer marketing are working and working well.
Granted, the examples are big name artists but someone has to take the risk, and these guys can afford to do that.
My friend Kurt, whom I'm travelling to North Florida with (more on this later) called. He wants to leave early Friday morning, no less than 6:00 am. Which means I won't be able to help Annmarie and Marcus move to Gainsville, which I half expected.
I talked to Annmarie about this and she understands.
I still feel a bit bad about it although there isn't much I can do, seeing how I planned this trip for several months in advance and helping Annmarie move came about only two months ago.
Friday, August 11, 2000
Last October several friends and I saw The Blair Witch Project (like who didn't?). Kurt, my erstwhile high school English teacher of a friend, got the idea to investigate haunted houses. As a high school teacher he has the summer off so tramping through the forest won't be unbearably cold; unbearably hot yes, but not unbearably cold. And as the only other person who can take off the time as required I volunteered to join in the project.
Hello. This is Agent Conner. My partner, Agent Johnsen and I are assigned to the Paranormal Investigation Foundation.
The PI Foundation.
Our mission: to investigate reported hauntings in the northern part of Florida and make a determination as to their validity. Out planned itinnerary includes:
- Dorr House
- Lear House
- Old Christ Church
- Lighthouse on Pensacola Bay
- Milton - Arcadia Archeology Project
- Amelia Island - Fort Clinch
- Fort George
- Tabby House
- Kingsley Plantation
- St. Augustine
- Castillo De San Marcos
- St. Francis Inn
- 46 Ave Menendez
- Light Keeper's House
- Gainsville - Devil's Mill Hopper
This is a recording of our journey into the unknown. Wish us luck. We may need it.
Proceed north along I-95 to Ft. Pierce. Cut across to the Florida Turnpike North to I-75 and pick up I-10 West to Pensacola. Attempt to make trip in less than twelve hours.
At 6:00 am I was in the Computer Room finishing up some last minute email when I heard what I took to be a knock on the front door. I walked to my roommate's (Rob) room.
“Rob, did you hear anything?”
Rob turned around. “No,” he said and went back to reading his book.
I could have sworn I heard something, after all, I was expecting Agent Johnsen to show up around this time. I walked to the front door and opened it just as Agent Johnsen was raising his hand to knock. “Oh,” he said. “You must have seen me.”
“Uh, no. I heard a knock,” I said.
“Now don't you get started with me! There is nothing strange going on here!” he said, pacing about the living room. “This is not the Blair Witch Project!”
I decided to leave it at that. “Can you wait a few moments? I need to finish up some email,” I said. Agent Johnsen nodded. I walked back into the Computer Room and finished up the email.
We then proceeded to transfer Agent Johnsen's luggage to my vehicle whereupon we proceeded north to Boca Raton and ate breakfast at Tom Swayer's. By 7:00 am we were on I-95 north.
The trip, other than being about ten hours long, meeting our objective time frame, was rather dull. The only glitch happened around Ft. Pierce were I managed to miss the exit and we ended up driving two miles north to the next exit, turned around, two miles south and caught the appropriate exit to catch the Florida Turnpike North.
By noon we were on I-10 West when we stopped off for lunch. Five hours later we arrived in Pensacola were Agent Johnsen picked up a map of the local area. We drove around for about twenty minutes before deciding to stay at the Hampton Inn just south of I-10 off of 291.
So far we have not encountered any paranormal phenomenon, but along the way I informed Agent Johnsen that Pensacola is also a known hot spot for UFO activity, given the proximity of the Eglin Air Force Base. Agent Johnsen was thrilled at the prospect of seeing possible UFO activity during our stay but it's unsure of we will see any.
“We have both types!”
After checking into the hotel and resting a bit, Kurt (Agent Johnsen for those following at home) and I then left for dinner. We drove south along 291 until it was apparent there were no eating establishments in the general vicinity. We then took a side street east then cut north along the next major road we found.
Eventually we found ourselves outside a Lone Star and a twenty minute wait.
Pensacola is basically a naval base. Pensacola is basically a rural town. Pensacola is basically in the Deep South. Therefore they listen to both types of music, Country and Western. And the Lone Star Restaurant is a hip hop happening place (but not as hip hop happening as the Olive Garden). It's so hip hop happening that every so often the wait staff break out into dance.
I'm serious. Twice while we were there, the entire wait staff broke out into a country line dance.
Stuff like that does not happen in Lower Sheol. Nor have I observed such behavior in Boston, Palm Springs or even South Bend. Then again, Lower Sheol, Boston, Palm Springs and South Bend do not have naval bases near by.
I also had the longest hair of any guy in the Lone Star. And I don't have what I consider long hair. Unlike Mark.
Saturday, August 12, 2000
- Dorr House
- Lear House
- Old Christ Church
- Lighthouse on Pensacola Bay
- Milton - Arcadia Archeology Project
And if possible, head along I-10 back east towards Jacksonville.
Check Out & Breakfast
I awoke this morning to Kurt watching old Thundercats cartoons on the Cartoon Network. This was a uniue episode—the Mutans had managed to nearly take out the Thundercats but due to the Thundercats superior intellect and physical prowness they were able to fend off the Mutants and restore peace back to their compound.
On second thought, that sounds like most Thundercat episodes.
After showering and packing, we checked out of the Hampton. Driving along the road looking for a restaurant for breakfast we found a place called the Golden Corral, a buffet style restaurant with a western theme to it. People pile in, pay their money and gorge out on a vast array of food, helping themselves to overly generous portions of food.
It certainly had an appropriate name: Corral everybody in and make the gold (a sentiment my Dad would probably make about the place). The food wasn't bad though; it certainly beat eating at McDonald's for breakfast.
Afterwards, he headed into downtown Pensacola for the first three of our objectives.
I drove us to the Pensacola Historic Village. It just so happened that the first parking space I found was in front of the main office of the Pensacola Historical Society. I loaded up with video camera, a digital camera and a more traditional 35mm camera, along with carrying cases. As Kurt quipped, I looked like quite the tourist.
We entered the office. There we met Bob, a tour guide. Medium hight with that slighty stocky middle-age build and an easy going personality, he welcomed us to the village. Kurt told him we were there to see the Dorr House, Lear House and the Old Christ Church. Bob informed us that those were on the tour he was giving in another hour. So Kurt and I bought the tickets.
With about an hour to kill, we decided to walk around the Historic District. Looking at the map I found the three sites we were interested in, less than a block away and grouped together. We approached the Dorr House and took a look from the sidewalk, as a wooden fence blocked access to the house. The gate was closed but not locked. Across the street was a woman dressed in period clothes sitting on the porch of another old house. Kurt introduced himself and asked if we could walk through the gate. She said that if we had purchased tickets to the tour we were free to walk anywhere on the grounds but not to enter any building as they were locked.
We then spent the next hour exploring the outside of each site, then went back to the main office to start the tour with Bob.
To Build a Fire
We started the tour with Bob telling us that Pensacola is the oldest placed city in the United States, unlike St. Augustine which is the oldest continuous city in the United States, but both were started by the Spanish.
Pensacola is also the only city to fly under five flags, the Spanish, French, Brittish, Confederate and American, since the bay was very important strategically. Bob also stated that the waterfront has been expanded outward by all the ships dumping their ballast overboard when being loaded.
But our tour started with the oldest house in the Historical District—a simple box structure with a few windows owned by a freed slave woman in the late 1700s/early 1800s.
Next up was a facinating demonstration of fire building. In Florida, most of the cooking was done outside, it being way to hot to actually cook indoors for most of the year. One of the employees, dressed in period, demonstrated how they used to light fires. A patch of flax, a dry stringy material, is placed on a flat surface. On top a small piece of charred cloth is added. Then a rod of iron, curled at the ends would be placed across the top of the fingers and struck with flint. The sparks are caught by the charred cloth and the person would blow on it, catching the flax. Once the flax is burning, the bundle is then placed under the kindling of the cooking fire. The demonstration had a fire going in under two minutes, albeit with lots of smoke from the burning flax.
“Two handles to serve soup.”
Next on the tour was a duplex built in the early 1800s. The ground floor had four rooms total, two for each family living in the building. Both rooms weren't much larger than 15' by 15' and both rooms were more or less used for bedrooms (remember, all the cooking was done outside in Florida).
He also showed us the bathroom. A small stand in the corner with a pitcher, a bowl and a chamber pot. “One tourist told me,” he said, “that his grandmother used to serve soup in such a pot. I told him he should ask his grandmother how many handles were on the pot. Two handles to serve soup.”
He then showed us a bar of soap. “Made of ash and animal fat. And smells just as good too.” He handed it around the room and everybody took a whiff. Yup, smells about as good as you would think it would.
It's amazing how far we've progressed in the past two hundred years. Especially in waffle iron technology.
Tour guides have reported moving items only to find them moved back to their original location when they return. It is speculated that it might be one of several Dorr children, some of whom died at a young age. It might also be Clara Dorr, who had the house built. It has also been reported that people have seen a woman like figure sitting in the chair at the top of the stairs and it's speculated that the figure is Clara Dorr.
We eventually made it to the Dorr House where Bob lead us inside. Normally he isn't allowed to tell the tour group about the ghost stories in the Historical District, but since Kurt and I brought it up earlier before the tour, he threw all caution to the wind and brought up all the ghost stories.
Ms. Dorr is said to appear in the fainting chair at the top of the stairs. The fainting chair is named because at the time, women would wear corsettes and walking up a flight of stairs would leave them a bit short of breath, hence a chair for the lady to resume breathing. I took several pictures of it using both the 35mm and digital camera. I'll see if anything shows up.
It was upstairs in the daughter's room that an odd event happened. On the bed was an old book opened to this incredibly detailed illustration. I decided to take a picture of the illustration using the 35mm camera. I adjusted the camera and pressed the button, but the shutter snapped open and remained that way for nearly a minute; nothing I did would cause it to close.
I suppose it could have been a malfunction. Normally the shutter speed is adjusted automatically depending upon the apature, but quite possibly the apature was such that the shutter speed fluctuated between two choices and the electronics messed up.
Yea, that's what happened.
Old Christ Church
Three rectors (reverends) of the Church were buried beneath the church during the 1800s. During later renovation work, their graves were dug up and the three were hastily reburied just outside the church in unmarked graves. Even later, an extention of the church was built over their graves and it was only in 1988 during an archeological dig to find the missing bodies were they found.
The three bodies were then reburied beneath the church in an elaborate ceremony. There are two accounts of three men wearing white robes, carrying a black book and were barefoot also attending the ceremony.
The three rectors were buried in white robes, barefoot and each had a Bible placed with them in their grave.
We then went across the street to Old Christ Church. We couldn't go inside as there was a wedding in progress (it seems that the church is rather popular for weddings). Bob told us that the church, throughout its history, has been a church, hospital, abandoned, a library and finally a church again. Both the State of Florida and the City of Pensacola funded a restoration effort a few years ago and it was re-dedicated as a church.
Bob, again against the regulations of his post, told us about the story behind the ghosts but it wasn't much we didn't already know about and furthermore, since a wedding was in progress we couldn't investigate the inside of the building.
The reports are mostly items being moved about with no explanation and an unknown female apparition has been sighted. No one knows who or what could be responsible for the odd occurences.
Located behind the Old Christ Church, the Lear-Rocheblave House was the last stop on the tour. It was also the last site to visit in the Pensacola Historical Village. The Pensacola Historical Society has just recently come into ownership of the house and the upstairs, where all the paranormal manifestations occur, was off limits due to restoration work. We were, however, shown about the ground floor, showing us the most modern house on the tour as of yet—around the turn of the century.
As soon as the tour was over, Kurt and I left the Historic Pensacola Village for our next planned site, the Lighthouse at Pensacola Bay.
The next site is located on the Pensacola Naval Air Station, south of Pensacola along the coastline. We arrived at the front gate but Kurt felt that it might be better to arrive via the Back Gate as per the instructions we had to the lighthouse. That meant turning around and driving several miles around to the west and south.
We arrived at the Back Gate were we checked in, the Pensacola Naval Air Station being an open base we were allowed in with no problems. Within a few minutes we were at the Lighthouse but tours are only given on Sundays. It was quickly decided to inquire at the Naval Aviation Museum just down the road.
This museum gives the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum a run for its money. Mounted outside the front entrance is an F-14 Tomcat. Not a model mind you, a real F-14 Tomcat. Walk inside and hanging from the ceiling are four Blue Angel jet aircraft. Model aircraft carriers, several feet long, dot the front entrance hall. Walk into the main exhibit hall and you'll see various forms of prop and jet airplanes, along with helicopters. The first airplane to cross the Atlantic is housed here. A hideously ugly bi-plane, with a wingspan of 120' commands center stage.
Kurt made the inquiry and its okay to walk around the grounds of the Lighthouse but not to enter it. We decided to spend a few minutes looking around the museum and noting how several of our friends would really enjoy visiting it.
Unfortunately, not being an aviation nut like my friend Greg, I can't even remember what we saw, other than the displays being impressive.
Lighthouse at Pensacola Bay
The original lighthouse keeper, Jeremiah Ingraham (who may have been killed by his wife), is said to haunt the place. There are also reports of mysterious blood stains that can't be removed, and unexplained items being moved without cause have also been reported.
There are also locals who state that three separate ghosts haunt the lighthouse, one being Jeremiah Ingraham, and the other two being lighthouse keepers who died a normal death.
The Lighthouse at Pensacola Bay is an imposing structure, painted for the most part black. Attached to the structure on the side opposite the ocean is the keeper's house, a wooden two story structure. The Lighthouse is now fully automated so the keeper's house is no longer in use.
Kurt and I walked around the structure for a few minutes but because we could not enter the structure, we did not stay for very long.
Nor did we see any paranormal activity to investigate.
The Arcadia Project
Unexplained noises and two ghosts, possibly the orginal partners of the saw mill built on the site.
“Two men. One video camera. No map. No compass. Welcome to the Arcadia Project.”
Me, on video tape at the start of our visit to the Arcadia Archeological Project.
Several miles east of Pensacola is Milton, the location of the next site, the Arcadia Archeological Project. Looking at a local map we were able to make sense of the directions given and in the late afternoon found ourselves driving through an upscale neighborhood to a deadend.
The information given stated that appointments were required before visiting the site but both Kurt and I laughed—nothing could keep us from our appointed rounds, neither rain, nor sleet nor dark of night (well, actually, dark of night might have kept us from our appointed rounds). I parked the car next to two others there.
We walked down a trail to a T-intersection. Off to the left we could hear several people so we did something you're never supposed to do in such situations—we split the group. Kurt headed off towards the left down the path, and I headed down a boardwalk towards the right.
The boardwalk appeared to be more of a nature trail than something that leads off to an acheological dig of a potentially haunted site. Several hundred yards later the boardwalk ended, but a trail carried on. I stepped off the boardwalk, stepped around the barricade at the end and carried on. A dozen yards later I came to a set of wooden stairs, obviously older than the boardwalk behind me. I carefully made my way down the stairs, along a short walk and up some stairs leading to a ridge. From the ridge two trails snaked off through the woods and I started walking down the one to the right for a few yards before thinking better of it.
Walking back I ran into Kurt. He talked to the other people down his path and they informed him that the mill we were seeking was the other direction; the direction I picked. So we crossed back to the ridge and picked one of the paths. Each time I mentioned the current situation is similar to the Blair Witch Project Kurt would have nothing of it. Eventually we ended up on the street we came in on. Instead of walking back through the forest we walked down the street back to my car.
At the car we finally noticed a mill-like structure off to one side. Upon investigation it seemed too new—too recent to be the actual mill. We figured it must be a recreation of the mill. We then went back along the nature path to see if we could find the archeological site. We were headed towards the end of the boardwalk.
“Wait a second!” Kurt said.
“We're looking for a mill! It won't be back in the forest. It'll be along the creek here.” He slapped his forhead. “I should have realized that.”
“Oh,” I said. “You're right.” I didn't think of that either.
Then we examined the ridge just past the end of the boardwalk. There were several stone formations that looked manmade but weathered, and covered in dirt and moss. Kurt was certain we found the foundation of the mill and the evidence was pretty compelling.
I took extensive photographs of the rock formations to bring back to our friend Tom the architect. We'll see what he has to say about them.
We then walked back along the boardwalk and took the path Kurt took earlier. This was a path, not a boardwalk but it lead to a suspention bridge made of wood planks suspended by rope strung across the creek. There were three people, two men and one girl, swimming in the stream. We exchanged hellos as we crossed and it became apparent that this was simply a nature walk as the trail lead away from the creek into the forest. We doubled back, crossed the bridge, took a side path that parelleled the creek for a score of yards then turned back towards the car.
Again, no paranormal phenomenon manefested itself in the area.
Since it was still fairly early, we decided to drive to Jacksonville on the east coast of Florida that night.
For dinner we stopped off at the Cracker Barrel, a predominately eastern chain of restaurants with a country theme to both the architecture and style of food and found mostly along interstates (and featured in my friend Hoade's book Ain't That America). The food is very good, if you like heavy southern cooking, which I do.
Anyway, while waiting for our food we played with the small puzzle that every table has—the Jump All Till One puzzle. A triangular piece of wood with fifteen holes drilled into it. It is populated with fourteen golf tees, leaving one hole empty. The puzzle is to leave one golf tee in the puzzle. To remove a tee you jump over it with another tee, removing the tee just jumped. I can usually get two tees left, although by “cheating” I was able to solve the puzzle. By “cheating” I started with one tee, then jumped holes and filled the puzzle in backwards.
I did that technique as well, and usually ended up with two tees I can't place.
Kurt did not fare any better.
One of these days I'll get around to writing a program to solve the puzzle once and for all.
Drivers and Computers
Kurt's driving the car and I'm in the passenger seat (weird feeling, being a passenger in my own car) typing away on the laptop, which is getting power from a transformer plugged into the cigarette lighter. It feels weird.
Just a few minutes ago we came across a small traffic jam—and it's nearly 11:30 pm. Rubberneckers, have to check out anything involving cars and flashing lights. Kurt almost ran into the car in front of us.
Our plan for tonight is to make it to Jacksonville, which is only about half an hour away.
Sunday, August 13, 2000
- Amelia Island - Fort Clinch
- Fort George
- Tabby House
- Kingsley Plantation
I still had not managed to write about the previous day's activities and at the hotel (a Holiday Inn) the lines were busy for the BellSouth dialup lines so I couldn't update what I had to the journal. By 2:00 I still hadn't finished updating the journal but I decided I should head off to bed anyway.
In the morning we packed, checked out and after breakfast at the buffet at the hotel, we headed off towards Amelia Island.
The fort, used by both Union and Confederate soldiers, is said to be haunted by ghosts of soldiers who haven't left the fort. There is also a report of a woman ghost who may have been a nurse at the fort. And reports of the wailings of a baby who died at the fort in the 1920s.
We drive along A1A through Fernandina Beach to the 14th St. North Extention which looks like it leads into Ft. Clinch State Park, but it turns out to be the back entrance to the park and is closed to traffic. We turn around, head back through Fernandina Beach to Ft. Clinch Road which is the main entrance.
Once through the gate, we drive along the road, lined along both sides by a deep forest of towering trees. It goes back about two miles, a dark road where one can easily imagine being chased by the Headless Horseman. It then opens up into a parking lot for the fort. I park the car and again, load up on the camera equipment and we head off towards the fort.
The fort was never finished—you can still see the foundation for the officer quarters, although the other buildings, enlisted quarters, main office, jail and guard houses, were finished, along with the outside walls and bastions. One of the bastions still had access to the top via a small twisty staircase in the wall. If you aren't careful it's easy to stumble and that's one staircase you don't want to tumble down—all stone and brick work.
Nearby the stairwell ws a window opening, a web spanning the space with a large spider sitting in the middle. I think they're known as banana spiders, a large arachnid some five inches across. Not something you want to meet in a dark alley, much less in bright daylight.
Walking around the fort we encountered, get this, no paranormal manefestations of any form.
Tabby House was under contruction by a local planter when he died a violent and unexpected death. His ghost is still said to haunt the house, which is just a shell. Accounts of the haunting go back to 1877.
South of Jacksonville is Ft. George, the location of the next two sites. We took A1A south, over Little Talbot Island, acorss Ft. George Inlet to Ft. George Road, just up the road from the Mayport Ferry (which crosses the St. Johns River were you pick up A1A south). A short drive up Ft. George Rd is Tabby House.
The house gets its name from the construction method. Tabby is a mixture of lime, made by burning oyster shells, sand and water. It is mixed with whole shells and poured into forms, much like concrete.
Tabby House is about 15' by 30', with two rooms, a larger room which would probably be the main living area and a smaller area that looks to be a cooking area. Throughout the walls are small holes which is a rement of the construction method—a form in which the tabby is poured and when dried, the form is extended up another foot or so and the next layer is poured. The holes are part of the frame for the forms.
We spend about half an hour investigating the site but again, no paranormal manefestations appeared.
But I guess you could guess that by now.
Strange feelings, poltergeist and actual sightings have been reported on the plantation. One of the apparitions appears to be the wife of the owner of the plantation, Anna Jai Kingsley, an African princess.
If I thought that the road to Ft. Clinch was looming with dark trees, then that was nothing compared to the road from Tabby House to the Kingsley Plantation. The Ft. Clinch road was paved, this wasn't; I swear the car nearly shook itself apart on the road. It was also longer than the Ft. Clinch access road. On the rare breaks in the dense forest you could see wetlands and swamp. It then finally breaks and you end up at the slave quarters.
The two dozen ruins are arranged in a semcircle. One building has been restored, but the rest are in various states of ruin, from full height to about a foot high. Each building is not much larger than 15' x 15' and most are constructed of two rooms each. The buildings themselves were all made of tabby.
While walking around the slave quarters I came across another banana spider in a web spanning two trees some ten feet apart. In my twenty years of living in South Florida I've only seen one, yet in North Florida I've seen two so far. I guess they're more common up here.
Up the road another hundred yards or so was the main plantation house, a large imposing wooden structure. It used to be two buildings, the main house and behind it a smaller kitchen house but now there was a covered walkway between the two, home to yet another banana spider. That made three.
But yet again, no paranormal manefestations.
After leaving the Kingsley Plantation we then drove about an hour south to St. Augustine. We checked into the hotel (a Quality Inn this time) and then had dinner at a local restaurant, Schooner's. The food was good but the man at the table next to us was very annoying, mainly complaining and presenting a poor role model to his son as Kurt mentioned afterwards.
We then retired to our room to catch up on our respective journals.
This was the first time I saw the Sci-Fi Channel. Kurt wanted to watch a particular show, Exposure. He thought the show was the one honoring George Lucas, but that was still over a week away.
But the shorts we did see where intriging, including a ten minute Die Hard in a car trunk.
Monday, August 14, 2000
- St. Augustine
- Castillo De San Marcos
- St. Francis Inn
- 46 Ave Menendez
- Light Keeper's House
And if possible, head over to Gainsville for the last scheduled site.
A change of plans
“We made a mistake!” Kurt yelled this morning.
“What?” I was still slightly groggy from just being awakened.
“We made a mistake! One of the sites we're visiting is an inn! We should have stayed there last night,” he said.
“What do you say we stay one more night in St. Augustine. We stay at the St. Francis Inn. What do you think?” Kurt asked.
We were doing well time wise; it wasn't taking the week I expected it to take. One more day wouldn't hurt us. “Why not? But better call first to see if they have any rooms available,” I said.
Kurt picked up the phone and called. He talked to the owner, Tom, for a few minutes then asked about the rooms. Then he turned to me. “They only have two rooms available,” he said to me. “But the two rooms are the haunted ones!”
“Get them,” I said, getting interested.
“Okay.” He then made arrangements for one of the rooms. I guess we'll be staying another night in St. Augustine.
We then made plans for the day. Check out of the hotel, then hit Castillo De San Marcos, the main fort in St. Augustine. Then lunch at 46 Ave Menendez, which is also known locally as Harry's Seafood Bar Grille. After lunch, check into the St. Francis Inn, then hit the Light Keeper's House.
Then, off to Castillo De San Marcos.
Castillo De San Marcos
In 1833 a sealed off section of the fort was opened up and two skeletons were found, as well as the smell of perfume. It was thought that the skeletons were the wife of one of the commanders of the fort from the 18th century and the other was her illicit lover.
Since then, reports of a glowing and the smell of perfume from that part of the fort have been numerous.
Castillo De San Marcos was easy to find—off the main street in St. Augustine; you can't miss it. It was interesting going back to the fort, for I had been there once before twelve years earlier. I remember not paying to enter the fort, nor were all the exhibits there twelve years ago.
We paid our money, and entered the fort. Kurt was worried that we might not see the part of the fort where the paranormal manefestations occured but in going through the fort we came across the site.
You enter a room from the outside, enter another room and through a doorway is a long room that was used to store munitions—this was the room, barely lit by the light of a low-wattage bulb (of course, such luxuries didn't exist back in the 1700 or 1800s). I recorded the room, but I won't know the results until I get back to Lower Sheol for a thoural examination, but while we were there, we didn't notice any paranormal manefestations.
We spent some more time examing the fort but we got what we came for.
46 Avenida Menendez
One story is that the ghost, known as Bridgette, was a victim of an earlier fire. Another story is that Bridgette hung herself in her room, years before it was a restaurant. She still manefests at times in her room, which is upstairs.
Kurt and I arrived for lunch. Seated, we discussed when we should ask the staff about the ghost; after some discussion it was felt we should order and pay for lunch first, then ask in case we were escourted off the premises.
After lunch, we approached the bar tender and Kurt asked about the haunting. We were then informed that indeed there were stories and that the ghost was floating around upstairs in her old room.
Of course, Bridgette's room is now the ladies room for the upstairs portion of the restaurant.
Kurt asked if we could check it out, and the bartender said we were free to check it out, provided we knocked on the door first. We headed up stairs and made our way back to the restrooms. Kurt knocked on the door and asked if anyone was inside. A voice from inside indicated it was being used so we backed off and waited a few minutes.
Once the restroom was vacated, we entered. It was easy to see it as a bedroom; it was big enough to be a room. But I did not bring any photographic equipment with me, and again, there were no paranormal manefestations to be seen or felt. A minute later we left.
St. Francis Inn I
At least one ghost, Lilly, possibly a young black girl dressed in white, is said to haunt room 3-A of the Inn. Multiple people have claimed to have seen a female presence in the room. There are also reports of poltergeist activity, as well as unexplained noises and voices throughout the building.
And guess what room we're staying in tonight?
When we arrived right after lunch, Tom, the current owner/manager, said the room wasn't quite ready for us but if we were to come back an hour or so later, it should be ready. We thanked him and decided to check out the last site on our list, the Lightkeeper's House.
Many bizarre and unexplained accidents have happened around the lighthouse. Also a ghost has been reported by several people but it's unclear if it's a man who hanged himself in the lighthouse in the 1930s or one of the earlier lighthouse keepers who died while painting the lighthouse in the 1850s.
The lighthouse can be seen from quite a distance away, but actually finding it was a bit tricky. Parking was also a bit difficult, the parking lot in front of the lighthouse being way too small.
We arrived and purchased the tickets required to climb up the lighthouse—219 steps up 165 feet. Kurt and I then started the climb. There are eight landings within the lighthouse, the stairs making a half-circle to the landing, which almost fills half the width of the lighthouse. I video taped our ascent up the stairs, pausing on each landing to take a picture downward, marking our progress upwards.
But I have a fear of hights, and at the last landing before the top had to stop. I could not make the final ascent, my vertigo nearly overtaking me. I gave Kurt the digital camera and spend the next few hellish eternities making the descent down the stairs and rushing out the entrance to sit down and spend another few hellish minutes calming down.
Ghosts, I can handle. Heights—that got to me.
I didn't stick around to experience any paranormal manefestations, but given the number of people around, I doubt there would be any and as usual at all the sites, the staff are relunctant or not allowed to talk about the hauntings unless asked first.
On the ground, I listened to a small girl, under age seven, ask her mother repeatedly why she couldn't climb the lighthouse. The mother kept telling her that she was too young to climb the stairs, seven years being the minimum age. A few minutes later her son, not much older than seven, appeared at the entrance, sweating. Like myself, he was named Sean, and he too, didn't make it to the top, it being way to high for him.
Several minutes after that, Kurt walked out, having made it to the top and taken several pictures from there that I've yet to see.
We then headed back to the St. Francis Inn.
St. Francis Inn II
We arrived back at the St. Francis Inn and were able to check in. Tom informed us that the price of the room included breakfast in the dining room, breakfast being served from 7:30 to 10:00 am. He also held a informal gathering in the dining room between 5:30 and 6:30 pm for guests to meet each other and converse. Also available to the guests are complementary coffee, tea (both hot and iced) and water. Guests can simply walk downstairs and partake of any aformentioned beverage anytime, provided they are available.
He then showed us to room 3-A, Lilly's Room.
We walked up two flights of stairs. The stairs have this odd perspective that is best not dwelled upon least you miss a step. It's more noticible going downstairs than up. Our room is at the top of the stairs.
One of the first impressions of the room is the lack of square corners. In fact, looking at the building as a whole you realize there is not one right angle corner in the building at all. Even the doors are trapezoidal in shape, but not enough to give it a true Alice in Wonderland appearence, but enough to give it an odd feeling. The room itself is trapezoidal in shape, white walls with green trim and deep red carpeting.
Kurt and I spend an hour or so relaxing in the room before going downstairs for the social.
Around 6:00 pm Kurt and I walk downstairs and enter the dining room for the social gathering. Provided for the guests are orderves and beer (American). There were two couples already in conversation; Kurt grabbed a bear, I an iced tea and we sit down at a nearby table to listen in.
Perhaps fifteen minutes later, the younger of the two couples excuse themselves and leave for dinner. Kurt then engages in conversation with the remaining couple, a pair of retirees on their second visit to St. Augustine from their home in Jupiter, Florida. The gentleman used to work in a television studio but it's never made clear in what capacity. I think his wife was a teacher and the talk soon turned to our themed vacation of haunted house hunting and later, to Kurt's career as a high school English Teacher.
Perhaps a half our later the older couple decided it was time for dinner and we left for dinner.
Kurt and I went to the Columbia, a Spanish restaurant that is a central/northern Florida chain of about six restaurants, headquartered in Ybor, Florida. The food is excellent, abundant and a bit pricey but well worth it. The restaurant in St. Augustine is in the Spanish Quarter, several blocks long running parellel to the ocean, one end starting across the street from the Castillo De San Marcos.
I had trouble finding a close parking spot so we ended up parked on a residential street several blocks west of the Spanish Quarter. A fifteen minute walk brought us to the restaurant. Afterwards, we walked back to the car, finding it quite easily, but I got turned around driving back to the Inn, finding myself driving south along US-1 for about five minutes before getting my bearings and turning around.
Fifteen minutes later we were back at the Inn.
An American Experiment
While catching up with documenting the trip, Kurt and I came across an episode of Behind the Music on VH1 about the Monkeys. “Stop it here,” I told Kurt so we left it there. Afterwards was a VH1 movie about the Monkeys and we figured it was as good as anything and watched that as well.
After the segment were the Monkeys meet the Beatles in London, Kurt turned to me. “The Beatles invited the Monkeys in order to feel them out,” he said.
“The Beatles biggest competition at the time were the Monkeys. So they invited them to feel them out, see what their strengths and weaknesses are. If they come across as unsure of themselves, then there is no competition.” Made sense, even if the Monkeys themselves didn't see that.
Later on when the segment about the Monkeys' movie Head and how Jack Nicholson was involved, Kurt turned to me again. “They were an experiment.”
“In what way?”
“To see how far they could go in making a psychadelic movie. How far they can go, to see what the limites are. Later on, Easy Rider comes out,” he said.
“Ah,” I said. “So that explains why Jack Nicholson was there.”
Tuesday, August 15, 2000
- Gainsville - Devil's Mill Hopper
Afterwards, head back to South Florida for analysis of accumulated data.
Before going to bed, I set up the video camera to record the room in case any manefestations happened. I had three extra tapes, each two hours so we could have a potential of six hours of recorded material but we both neglected to change the tapes after the first one so we only have two hours, between 1:30 and 3:30 am. But I didn't experience any paranormal manefestations. I asked Kurt.
“Sleeplessness. People were banging doors, opening and closing them. I didn't investigate though,” he said. But other than that, he didn't experience any paranormal manefestations either.
We checked out and headed back to Gainsville for our last site.
Cracker's Swamp Dirt Road
From St. Augustine we drove south alone I-95 to State 207 west, a two lane rural highway that lead us through such metropolitan areas like Elkton, Armstrong, Spuds and Palatka. And roads such as Cracker Swamp Dirt Road, not to be confused with Cracker Swamp Road.
Kurt has an account with BellSouth.Net, an ISP. In Jacksonville all the lines were busy and in St. Augustine … well … BellSouth has no point of presence in St. Augustine.
But Palatka! There's a POP in Palatka of all places. Spuds! You could hook up to the Internet in Spuds! Downtown Spuds consists of a gas station. I think. I don't know, we passed through Spuds in under a minute.
We also passed through Putnam Hall, where there is neither a hall, nor a putnam. Orange Hights was a busling megaopolis of a town—several buildings making up an obvious downtown area.
But no Internet service from BellSouth.Net in St. Augustine. Kurt's theory: “They're trying to preserve their heritage.”
The Devil's Millhopper is a large sinkhole, 117 feet deep and about 500 feet across. The name comes from the shape of the hole, resembling the funnels used in mills to feed the grain into the millstone, and the fact that numermous bones and skeletons of animals have been found along the sides and bottom, leading many people to think that the Devil opened up a hole to suck all down to Hell.
Other than that, that's it.
The Devil's Millhopper is located in northern Gainsville and as haunts go, there are none. But as a nature walk, it's impressive. There's a boardwalk leading down about 100 feet to the bottom and halfway across. It's a large deep bowl like formation.
Sinkholes are caused by rainwater seeping through the ground, where it filters through old rotten vegetation where it turns into a very weak acid. The bedrock of Florida is primarily limestone, a rather porus rock that reacts with acid readily. The limestone is eaten away, leaving a large cavity underground that will eventually collapse under the weight of the ground above.
And that's what happened with the Devil's Millhopper. The primary sink hole was made approximately 15,000 years ago, but recent openings have happened in the last millenium, one possibly a hundred years ago.
After lunch at a nearby cafe (The Millhopper Cafe) we started on our way home, with Kurt driving the first leg. So I'm currently updating the journal on my laptop as we drive along Florida's Turnpike.
We're about three to four hours from home at this point.
Thursday, August 17, 2000
405 The Movie
So how did two filmmakers manage to land a DC-10 on a busy LA freeway?
How did they put their 89 year-old actress in the driver's seat when she had never driven before?
And how did they create this entire piece on desktop computers in just three months of their spare time?
405 The Movie. The story of the wrong guy—in the wrong place—at the wrong time.
Incredible. Just goes to show you what two guys, three months and several computers are capable of doing.
Saturday, August 19, 2000
An Early Call
Something. There's something going on.
It's slowly percolating through my head that something is going on.
I realize it's the phone. I roll over, nearly out of bed, reach for the phone on the floor and answer it.
“Get up!” my friend Greg said. “It's noon! Time to get up!” I mumble something incoherent even to myself. “Get up! Meet me at my office at 1:00,” he said. I mumble something incoherent to myself, hang up and wonder why I even agreed to meet him for lunch at such an unreasonable hour.
It's a quarter to one and I'm just about ready to leave when the phone rings again. It's Greg. “Change two to plan B,” he said. Of course, plans change. “I'll meet you outside.”
“Where?” I said. “Here? My house?”
“Yup. Be ready.” And with that he hung up.
A few minutes later he's honking the horn and I'm stumbling out the door. “I figured it would be easier if we carpooled,” he said. So we drove off to his office to meet the rest of our group. We're late arriving to his office, but we were still the first ones to show up. I've known Greg since high school and right now he works for IBM as a system administrator. Martin shows up next. I've known Martin since high school as well, and he works for the Coast Guard as a tactical instructor. It's always fun to listen to his stories. Then Tom and his fiancé show up. And I've known Tom since elementary school. He's currently an architect but he eventually wants to enter the FBI. Kurt then showed up.
We head over to the Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport to eat at the diner there (good food). Afterwards we head up north to Boca Raton to play miniature golf at Boomers, an arcade next to FAU.
You thought commercial airlines were cramped …
While driving to Boomers we saw an odd looking plane land at the Boca Raton Executive Airport. Greg was excited. “That's my Dad's plane,” he said, point to the landing aircraft.
“Your Dad is flying that airplane?” asked Tom.
“No, but that's his plane. Or rather, a plane he flies,” said Greg. Greg's Dad is a licenced pilot (and even flew helecopter missions in Vietnam) and now works for AvWeb, a avionics centered website. The plane we saw landing is used often by his Dad. “But it looks bigger flying than on the ground,” said Greg, refering to the plane.
After spending some time at Boomers we headed over to the Boca Raton Executive Airport just down the street. He stopped at one of the offices, got the keys to the plane, then drove out on the tarmac over to the plane.
It's not a big plane at all. A large bulb comprises the cockpit and it narrows down to a slender pipe perhaps two feet across to form the rest of the plane. The wings are below the cockpit and the plane was tied down to the tarmac, like the rest of the small planes parked there.
There are two seats in the cockpit, but its like backseats in sports cars. Yes, you technically can fit two people in there, but unless you're a horse jockey, you aren't going to be very comfortable. The cargo space consisted of a small cavity behind the two seats.
Did I mention the plane was rather small?
Tom and Kurt crammed into the cockpit for a few minutes, then Greg and I crammed in, closed the cockpit and Greg spent the next several minutes trying to get the plane started.
He got it started only to have this horrible flapping sound emenate from the plane. Outside Tom, Keller and Kurt were trying to get our attention—it seems my seatbelt was hanging outside the cockpit, flapping against the side of the plane in the backwash of the propeller. Greg stopped the engine, we opened the cockpit, I pulled the seatbelt in, and we repeated the procedure.
Not only is it cramped, but loud. Greg said the plane is used for training, which explains the two sets of pedals and joysticks and possibly the cramped conditions.
I'll fly the commercial A320s over this anyday (last year I had the opportunity to fly an A320 simulator used to train pilots. It's amazing how simple modern commercial airplanes are to take off, fly and land—something I've never been able to do on PC flight simulators).
Ceol agus craic
Later in the evening Tom, Keller, Greg, Martin and I headed down to Beach Place, a shopping center in Ft. Lauderdale located across A1A from the beach to eat at the Irish Pub there (I've forgotten the name, but it's the only Irish Pub at Beach Place). We arrived just in time for the Irish band “Fire in the Kitchen” to start playing.
Even though by that time I had a headache and wanted nothing more to do than go home and sleep, as the band started playing my spririts lifted and we had a good time. One of the waitresses there gave a demonstration of Irish Dancing, which she made seem easy but don't let that fool you—it's got to be harder than it looks.
During the band's break, a couple came up and played a few songs on bagpipes, which I think were inventedin Irland and imported over to Scotland (as a joke they haven't gotten yet, said the leader of the Irish Band). The man was wearing a kilt, and the woman was wearing jeans (I'm not sure if that's ironic or not, but it was amusing).
Bagpipes are loud. Very loud. Perhaps it's loud in order for the sound to carry across moors but in an enclosed space, and being at a table next to the couple playing the bagpipes, it was very loud.
Asault on a Federal Officer
Keller accidentally spilled some salt on Martin. He replied “You know that's a salt on a Federal Officer.”
Okay, so maybe you had to be there …
By 11:30 pm we left the Irish Pub and drove back to Greg's office where we met earlier in the day. Tom and Keller left for home. Martin, Greg and I then went to pick up our friend Larry and we spent the next several hours playing Quake till the wee morning hours.
Monday, August 21, 2000
I learned last week that my connection to the Internet, my dedicated and I don't pay for it connection to the Internet, may be going away soon.
Currently, it's a sweet deal—my provider, Atlantic Internet, is kind enough to pay for my ISDN connection, 32 static IP addresses and a colocated server at their facility, and in return I help out occasionally, fixing the occasional network problem (routing, DNS, etc) and general consulting when they need it.
I use half the addresses here at my home location, and the other half are used by Mark on his home network; our two networks are connected via a dedicated PPP link. As it is, I'm the only one locally among my friends (well, except Mark) with a WAN.
But all that may change. When, I don't exactly know, but at the outside I'm looking at two months, maximum. Mark just called and said he's been looking into getting DSL. And fortunately, he just found a company that will provide him with a connection via Boca Teeca.
The problem Mark has is that while Boca Teeca is across the street (more or less) from Mark, that is not a CO. Mark's CO is Boca Main, over four miles away. A border issue, you know, the so close yet so far type thing.
So finding a company that will hook him up to Boca Teeca is real good. Yet trying to get static IPs are impossible, or very expensive. But it's not like I don't have resources available. There exists the very real possibility of us getting an entire C-block of IP addresses for our own use. A portable (i.e. one that can be rerouted and is not tied to any one provider) C-block.
Talk about rare.
Connectivity Blues II
Mark has been calling around and it seems that if we were to provide our own network block, it costs more. One place quoted him $350 a month if we provided our own IP addresses.
I can see something like $350 to set up the routers to route the block, but once it's set that's it. It's not like it's that much overhead but since such a request falls outside the standard template that most of these companies seem to use, they probably feel they can charge outrageous fees.
And then there are the various DSL horror stories I've heard of, where it takes months to get DSL installed.
Months ago Mark and I had a conversation about ISPs and the services they offer. At the time, Atlantic Internet, my current provider, was not pursuing the home dialup market and I could understand why. While it's a steady revenue stream, it's the tech support that eats into any profit the company might get (and the tech stories that you hear about—they're true). But get mostly corporate customers, you can really charge and then the tech support doesn't eat into the profits.
But Mark kept arguing that Atlantic Internet shouldn't give up the home dialup market. But another argument against the small ISP are the likes of BellSouth.Net and Adelphia Cable. The former is a subsidiary of BellSouth, one of the BabyBells so they pretty much own the phone lines down here, and Adelphia, well, a cable company has pretty much the same coverage (more or less) as the BabyBells, and how can you compete with cable modems?
Mark and I seem to have a difference of opinion in the area of ISP profitability. I don't think they are, and Mark does.
00:31:02 [Mark]: So I don't think the ISP makes that much off you by the time they are done.
00:32:49 [Sean]: But it's not much better with regular dialup lines, what with paying the phone company and the equipment needed (not to mention the upgrades—I remember [ISP] customers screaming for 28.8 even before 28.8 was standardized between modems)
00:34:34 [Mark]: Exactly. That's what I'm talking about. So that's why there is about as much incentive to sell DSL as there is dialup lines. Which is why I never liked the “we don't do dialup” attitude. The reason being that if everybody hosts web pages it won't do much good if nobody can browse them.
01:24:16 [Sean]: Perhaps I am. But I'm still not entirely convinced a local ISP can be profitable.
01:25:31 [Mark]: My argument is that a local ISP, run with the correct know-how can be. The problem is that tech guys don't know about the know-how. That is something you need to find customer service reps for.
Something neither company probably has. Sales, Marketing and Tech aren't the only things.
01:26:25 [Mark]: I would be more tempted to hire a Wal*Mart employee for ISP tech support than a person with a clue. The person with the clue may know more than the Wal*Mart person, but the Wal*Mart person will make an angry customer a happy customer.
I don't think anybody at either company got that.
Tuesday, August 22, 2000
Connectivity Blues III
It's depressing. The more Mark and I look into DSL and/or ISDB providers, the worse it looks. I started looking for companies that service the 954 and 561 area codes, but most of them seem to be large companies with entrenched bureaucracies that charge exhorbatent fees for anything out of the ordinary, or virtual ISPs which don't exactly exist anywhere but are run by a guy out of a closet in Saranac, Michigan.
I did find one company that seemed promising, Flips.Net, out of West Palm Beach, Florida. I called, but had to leave a voice mail message. I even filled out the web form for DSL and have yet to hear back from them.
“I'm suing myself because I sued myself.”
MP3Board is currently getting sued by the RIAA for copyright infringement by distributing MP3s. MP3Board has turned around and sued AOL because their subsidiary, Nullsoft created Gnutella. MP3Board wants AOL to share some of the liability for music piracy if MP3Board is found guilty. MP3Board's reasoning is that piracy wouldn't be happening as much if AOL's subsidiary hadn't created Gnutella.
Clarification on Slashdot story about the ongoing shenanegans about MP3.
Need I say more?
Spring reported a problem with the CGI scripts I wrote for her oneline journal. It seemed that the email interface somehow failed and bounced her entry back to her.
Upon investigation (and clarification) it seems that email sent from her job bounces back, but not from her Yahoo account. Her job uses Microsoft Exchange and for the life of me, I can't replicate the exact error.
I did update the code I wrote to strip out signatures from email (like the type that Yahoo always add to the bottom of messages) so they don't show up in the journal. Easy enough to add.
Wednesday, August 23, 2000
Exchange Blows, and here's why
I found out the problem Spring was experiencing with Exchange. Here's the email I sent her describing the problem:
It was thus said that the Great Spring Dew once stated:
Did the copy of the message that I forwarded you have the full headers on it? In case not, here it is. Maybe this will help.
Got it! I figured out what Exchange is doing that is causing this. Leave it to Microsoft to break SMTP this badly. Grab some popcorn and watch (lines with “>” are what I type, and lines with “<” are the computer's response):> telnet tower.conman.org smtp < Trying 220.127.116.11... < Connected to tower.conman.org. < Escape character is '^]'. < 220 conman.org ESMTP Sendmail 8.8.7/8.8.7; Wed, 23 Aug 2000 15:05:58 -0400
Okay, here I connected (manually) to my mailserver. After a quick> helo linus.slab.conman.org < 250 conman.org Hello firstname.lastname@example.org [18.104.22.168], pleased to meet you
To initialize the connection, I then did:> expn ------@conman.org < 250 <|/email@example.com>
Then, I did the following:> mail from:<------@conman.org> < 250 <------@conman.org>... Sender ok > rcpt to:<------@conman.org> < 250 <------@conman.org>... Recipient ok
Okay, this tells the mailserver who the mail is from, and where it's going to. Then the actual message itself:> data < 354 Enter mail, end with "." on a line by itself > From: ------@conman.org > To: |/home/spring/bin/connected
Notice the To: line. I think what Exchange is doing is substituting the given address (——) with the expanded address (/home/spring/bin/connected), trying to be “helpful” but blowing the entire process up.> Subject: This is a test > > This is a test. It won't go through. > . < 250 PAA03898 Message accepted for delivery > quit < 221 conman.org closing connection < Connection closed by foreign host.
And the message is accepted, but during processing will be rejected and a message bounced back.
-spc (Bloody Exchange … )
Informing Mark about it, he thinks (much to his regret) that Exchange might be allowed to do that as part of the SMTP protocol. I'll have to check up on that and see.
Sendmail Blows, and here's why
My my my … it looks like sendmail might be the culprit here, not Exchange. As per RFC-821:
"User name" is a fuzzy term and used purposely. If a host implements the VRFY or EXPN commands then at least local mailboxes must be recognized as "user names". If a host chooses to recognize other strings as "user names" that is allowed. In some hosts the distinction between a mailing list and an alias for a single mailbox is a bit fuzzy, since a common data structure may hold both types of entries, and it is possible to have mailing lists of one mailbox. If a request is made to verify a mailing list a positive response can be given if on receipt of a message so addressed it will be delivered to everyone on the list, otherwise an error should be reported (e.g., "550 That is a mailing list, not a user"). If a request is made to expand a user name a positive response can be formed by returning a list containing one name, or an error can be reported (e.g., "550 That is a user name, not a mailing list").
RFC-821, § 3.3. VERIFYING AND EXPANDING
EXPAND (EXPN) This command asks the receiver to confirm that the argument identifies a mailing list, and if so, to return the membership of that list. The full name of the users (if known) and the fully specified mailboxes are returned in a multiline reply. This command has no effect on any of the reverse-path buffer, the forward-path buffer, or the mail data buffer.
RFC-821, § 4.1.1. COMMAND SEMANTICS
From my reading, it seems that
sendmail should not be
sending back the program name, but rather, it should just return the email
address passed in.
This is not good …
Thursday, August 24, 2000
During our weekly business dinner meeting (there's a group of us working on a website) Paul (one of the partners in the venture) mentioned one of his other websites that pulls in $1,500 a month revenue and he does absolutely nothing at all.
There are other people providing the content, other companies handling the billing; all he does is collect monthly checks. Mark and I pressed for details. Heck, I could stand to use an extra $1,500 a month for doing absolutely nothing.
It all derives from generating traffic through his site from your site. The more traffic you generate towards his, the more money you make. Granted, the sites are porn related, but really, the porn companies are the only ones that make any money. Sad, but true.
After the weekly business dinner meeting, we gathered outside the restaurant (in Mizner Park in Boca Raton, Florida) on a bench next to the valet parking, found a power outlet and plugged in Rob's laptop so he could show us some Flash-5 work he's been doing for the website we're working on.
Fairly impressive stuff and as we discussed things, Rob, Mark and I hung around working on adding some functionality to the demo. This was Mark and I's first real look at the scripting language behind Flash-5 and in the two hours we were sitting on the bench Mark managed to implement an idea that Rob wanted.
We also attracted a rather large crowd of people watching us hack away on Flash. Throughout the evening, Mark was pestered by a guy from secretSeal, trying to hire him and offering him stock options in the company.
It was only afterwards did I realize we should have placed a hat down in front of us to collect tips.
Maybe next time we do the Street Programmer thang …
Friday, August 25, 2000
Up is down, and black is a lighter shade of white
I'm trying to find out what exactly is going on with my provider, Atlantic Internet. So that end, Rob and I had lunch with Shane, a friend that still works there. I also talked to my friend Chuck (who is Shane's boss at Atlantic Internet).
After talking to the both of them (separately) I have no idea what's going on. The stories don't mesh and I'm very pessimistic about the whole thing.
Monday, August 28, 2000
“We're the phone company. We don't have to care.”
In my quest to find another provider in case I loose my current one, I finally found out who my cable company is: AT&T Cable Services.
I checked their webpage and even if I agreed with their Terms of Service, service isn't even available where I'm living.
Velotel.com is looking better and better all the time …
Miscellaneous events at a mansion
I finally heard from John, the paper millionaire of a dotcom. I haven't seen or talked to him since his birthday (in fact, no one really heard from him since—he seemed to have just fallen off the face of the planet). I had sent him an email asking if he could host DNS for conman.org and earlier in the day finally got email from him.
He had no problem hosting DNS for me (well, me and Mark). So this evening I headed over to his house.
The re-landscaping of the backyard is done. And his 8,000 gallon salt water aquarium is nearly finished and the sound system throughout the house is nearly done—the last of the installation is scheduled for tomarrow.
Mark and I worked on setting up DNS and the plan is for me to change the nameserver records for conman.org to point to his server for primary, and kill9.org for secondary (which is my roommate's colocated server).
He also handed me and Mark a Belkin Omni View Pro 8-Port switch. It allows you to connect a single keyboard, monitor and mouse to eight PCs. To use it, I'll need to rearrange the entire Computer Room but it will shut up Mark. He's been on my case for using the Windows box to browse the web using Internet Explorer. But the monitor on my Linux box is junk and IE on the Windows box is faster and I like the way it handles bookmarks over Netscape. Besides, the monitor on the Windows box is better (and I can't move it to the Linux box because of a project I'm working on under Windows would be painful on a smaller monitor).
But now I'll have no excuses.
Tuesday, August 29, 2000
The Video Switch Yard
I spent the better part of the day reorganizing the Computer Room so I could use the Belkin Omni View Pro John the paper millionaire of a dotcom gave me yesturday. Heck, I'm still cleaning up.
So far I have three machines hooked up to it—my primary Linux
linus, the network monitor
area51 and the
killjoy. It works great but there are a few
gotchas I've come across.
The first is that it will work without being plugged in, but to actually drive the monitor you need the Belkin unit plugged in. Makes sense, in that there is probably a simple embeded system in it to generate the menus and allow you to switch consoles via the keyboard.
The other glitch involves the Logitech trackball I use. With it plugged into the Belkin, the Windows box works fine, but the Linux system doesn't see the mouse at all. Annoying but everything else works wonderfully.
So I have two mice next to the keyboard—the Logitech plugged directly into the Linux system, and a regular mouse plugged into the Belkin (for the Windows system right now).
My roommate Rob is seriously considering getting one. I think he's jealous.
Wednesday, August 30, 2000
“Like, is this a trick question or what?”
I'm in the Computer Room when the phone rings. “Hello?” I answered.
“Dude,” said Jeff C, a client of mine. “Where are you?”
“I assume this is one of those rhetorical questions, right? I mean, we're talking, aren't we?”
It's nice that I have clients whose sarcasm hasn't atrophied.
My client Jeff C invited me out to a dinner meeting at a Japanese restaurant, Ichiban's. I normally don't care for Japanese food but as long as there's something besides miso soup and sushi (which I affectionally called “bait”) I'll go.
Especially if I'm not the one paying for it.
So we're sitting at the table, type type of table where they cook the food for you right there and the cook is standing on the other side when he tosses this egg up in the air and catches it with a spatula. It's not broken mind you. He then flicks the egg in the air and catches it again with the spatula. He does this about a dozen times, working up speed when snick the spatula goes vertically through the egg cleaving it in half and spilling the contents onto the cooking surface sending the shell to either side.
I wonder how many eggs one has to break to perform that particular cooking maneuver?
At dinner, my client's boss is telling us various stories about being a doctor. He goes on to relate that one time while eating at a similar Japanese restaurant with table top grills that a gentleman sitting across the table from him suddenly knelled over and whap! his face hits the cooking surface. The doctor leaps up to help the man who's face is now cooking only to encounter some difficulty in getting the gentleman up as his face is stuck to the table.
Thursday, August 31, 2000
Greece in three lines or less
Last month (July 21st to be precise) I received an email from my cousin from Michigan wanting to know if he got the right Sean Conner. He did and I immediately wrote back to him.
Today he replies back with a three line reply informing me of his three week vacation in Greece.
Not that I expected him to respond to email while on vacation, but during the week prior to leaving I would expect someone to check their email at least once a week. Especially since he's been using computers about as long as I have.
Over fifteen million pages right here …
The publicly indexable web contains an estimated 800 million pages as of February 1999, encompassing about 15 terabytes of information or about 6 terabytes of text after removing HTML tags, comments, and extra whitespace.
Accessibility and Distribution of Information on the Web [Steve Lawrence, Lee Giles, NEC Research Institute]
I've been thinking recently about the definition of a webpage (only because the work I've done may redefine what people consider a webpage. Maybe. We'll see). A quick scan of Conman Laboratories revealed 234 files that constitute what is commonly called a webpage. 234 pages is something like 0.0000003% of the indexed web (as of February 1999). Not a significant portion.
But that's only the part you see under www.conman.org. It took awhile to calculate, but bible.conman.org has 15,620,753 pages. Yup. A lowly 486SX-33 is serving up over fifteen million pages, which works out to be almost 2% of the indexed web.
That is, if it was indexed.
But still, fifteen million pages isn't anything to sneeze at. Even more amazing is that these fifteen million pages only consume something like 5M of disk space. Uncompressed. Not bad for a bunch of two bit pages, eh? (That's a joke. A rather bad joke based upon simple math but anyway … )
Basically, those 15,620,753 pages are nothing more than 15,620,753 partial ways of viewing one single work, the King James Bible. There isn't anything else comparable to it on the web.
Sure, there are online bibles were you can pull out a verse, chapter or book, but none that I know of allow you to arbitrarily select which portions to read , which starts to stretch the definition of what a webpage actually is.
And for the record, one of the “pages” is a file telling the various search engine indexers not to index these pages.
But it could be more …
Technically, I don't allow any arbitrary portion of the King James Bible, otherwise I would be serving up 483,682,754 pages (which, if it was completely indexed, would constitute over 50% of the indexed web). There are reasons, mostly pragmatic reasons (it is a 486SX-33 after all) why I disallow purely arbitrary sections.
Just for old times sakes
Mark, Kelly and I, along with JeffC (a client of mine) and John the paper millionaire of a dotcom, ended up seeing Crazy Fingers for the first time since John quit the band.
It wasn't nearly as crowded as the last few times I've seem him play. And the band just sounded different, even though the only lineup difference was the keyboardist.