March 4th, 2004


Sand-cracked buildings

The bathroom, the halls, sand has somehow crept into the floor, withcracked islands of normalcy and sand flowing around it. People try togo about their days as normal, desperately ignoring the pulse of theland, sitting on the back of something that wakes.

Over the last few days, a small problem with my laptop has come to ahead. My Inspiron 8500 (hey, search engines) has a little peg to detectwhen the lid is open, but it eventually began to get stuck down. No problem(yet), as Linux doesn't know how to suspend on my laptop, and I wouldn't wantit to anyhow because I like using my laptop as a MP3/OGG player while Ibike to/from work, and it's closed in my bag while I do so.The problem is, while the peg is stuck down, all the special keys on mykeyboard, being part of the same 'flap' on the keyboard, stop working.Earlier, you'll recall I mapped the volumeup/volumedown/mute keys to F-keysmy laptop doesn't have (F13-F15), and then told windowmaker to run aumixto appropriately adjust the volume for each keybinding.So, with the peg getting stuck down recently in a way I can no longer pry itup, I pulled up the flap (probably should've turned off the laptop first, buteh...) and removed the peg. I can now adjust the sound anytime, without pryingat the peg if I've closed the laptop recently. Downside: I learn why Dell hadthe peg also disable all those keys -- with the laptop shut, any jostling caneasily cause the keys to accidentally be pushed, so now while I bike, the volumegoes up and down randomly, and occasionally mutes. I thought I'd write a scriptto unmap those keys that I'd run before I close the laptop, and another toremap them when opening it. Unfortunately, I found that that doesn't work --Windowmaker (my window manager) gets the KEYCODE and not the KEY EVENTS when itstarts up, so removing the keymaps (which map keycodes to key events) doesn'thelp. No problem, says I, and I write a wrapper for aumix that only runs aumixif /tmp/laptop_is_closed does not exist, and some scripts to easily create andremove that file. I tell wmaker to call the wrapper instead of aumix, andeverything's good.

I had my midterm in Cognitive Neuropsych yesterday.. I hope I did well.. andeither way it's nice to not be cramming anymore. We were all nervous becauseit's one of those classes with no assignments, so it was hard to know whatshe'd ask.. I think I had a satisfactory answer for all the questions, althoughthe quantity of what she wanted was very vague. Now that that's out of the way,I can start aiming my non-work-related attention back to getting my laptopready for a reformat and install of Fedora2test1 (or maybe test2 if I take toolong to get ready).

From a recent conversation on IM:

(10:07:26) Improv: Personally, I find it to be irritatingly fluffy that the artcommunity decides that the definition of art has to have so much mythos aroundthe term 'art', and systematically rejects any definition that comes about.I mean, yeah, it's a kind of hard term to define, but I get the feeling thatpeople don't really even WANT it to be definable(10:08:02) Improv: Kind of like how people don't want the concept of 'soul' tobe nailed down, because they feel it somehow diminishes them


A tale of two sysadmins

But first,I'm still chewing on the idea of server colocation. I definitely like myvirtual colocation arrangement with Rimuhosting.It's cheap, and I do get a system that's more or less real. However, and thisis a problem intrinsic to UML systems, you get very little disk, and moreproblematic, even less RAM. I have 4G disk and 128M RAM on mine, and frequentlyam pushing the limits of my swap. The cost difference between the $40/monthI pay for it and colocation ($80+/month) isn't that huge, and if I were to usereal hardware, I could actually have a decent amount of RAM/disk in the thing.

Also, next weekend, Debb and I are making a trip to Cincinnati to see asoccer game. Fun!

And now... the tale of .. actually, a few sysadmins.Sysadmin A customizes the hell out of Linux, bypassing the package managerfor most things, adding its own, ill-behaved replacement package managerthat happens to enjoy removing(!) files that it doesn't know about. SysadminA also frequently breaks things, and because all of its strange additions toLinux are undocumented, and a fair number of them are unique to its organization,users, even quite sophisticated ones, are generally helpless to fix problems orinstall additional things they need, and when they do get involved, becausethe system is already poorly documented, they tend to add their own, even morefragile hacks on top of the hacks sysadmin A uses.

Sysadmin B doesn't customizes the system as much, but all the critical partsof the system are wrong, more appropriate for an experimental 'toy' systemwhere the bleeding edge is danced upon.

Sysadmin C is conservative, dislikes software that hasn't been around forseveral years, and follows a very traditional way of how systems should beorganized, deviating from 'vanilla' configurations only after a lot ofpushing.

I'm sad to see that the effort by some to be able to own more types ofinformation in the United States is moving forwardI only hope that the Information Hoarders' efforts continue to be thwartedby Information Liberators :)

Similarly, the prudes are almost done with their push to make obscenitymore finable on radio and TV. Very frustrating.