Trespassers Will Be Shot

I’m turning off comments and trackbacks for the moment. My apologies for the inconvenience to those of you who want to add your pithy thoughts to my brilliance, but this spam crap is ridiculous &mdash and it will stay so until the executions and public floggings begin.

If you need to reach me, or would like to comment on something I’ve written, you can write it up on your site and/or send me an e-mail or instant message. Writing something on your site without informing others is no more fruitful than shouting into the wind.

Uptime Interrupted

Power failed in Yorktown over the weekend. Among other side-effects, it hurt my uptime.

# last reboot
reboot   system boot  2.2.15-4mdksecur Sun Oct 16 14:41         (2+01:15)
reboot   system boot  2.2.15-4mdksecur Sun Oct 16 14:10         (2+01:46)
reboot   system boot  2.2.15-4mdksecur Wed Apr 25 16:03         (1636+23:53)
reboot   system boot  2.2.15-4mdksecur Wed Apr 25 15:41          (00:19)
reboot   system boot  2.2.15-4mdksecur Mon Mar 26 16:57         (29+21:57)
reboot   system boot  2.2.15-4mdksecur Mon Mar 26 16:21          (00:34)

The system had been up for 1,636 days, 23 hours, 53 minutes, since April 25th, 2001.

Nothing Constituting a Government

With a lot of talk on NPR recently about the proposed Iraqi Constitution, I figured I should have a look at it to see where they failed. At least it isn’t 485 pages like the European monstrousity. I might not kill a tree printing it.

But it doesn’t contain anything constituting an agreement to establish a government. Article 1 is a parenthetical statement, which does nothing to describe the actual shape of the government.

(The Republic of Iraq is a single, independent federal state with full sovereignty. Its system of government is republican, representative Parliamentary and democratic. This Constitution is the guarantor of its unity)

Yes, but what is it? What are its powers? What are its responsibilities? What may it do and not do?

Article 6 is circular.

Transfer of authority shall be made peacefully through democratic means as stipulated in this Constitution.

Fine, but no means are stipulated.

The remainder is no better. If I were an Iraqi, I’d vote against this tripe. The version of the Iraqi Constitution at the New York Times is incomplete. NPR has an analysis and the complete version, which I’ll need to read before forming a sound opinion.

Six Hours out of 13 Channels

Forgetting for the moment about the tiny screen and low resolutions even on the desktop, it seems somewhat crazy and counter-intuitive to give up several dozen channels of cable television for less than a couple-dozen hours of programming. But I’d bet we give a crap about less than a couple-dozen hours of content on cable anyway.

l. m. orchard observes something about the video iPod and Apple video store: we only care about six hours of the 13 channels of shit on the TV.

Yes. Specifically, we care about Lost, Desperate Housewives, The West Wing, Sopranos, Rome, and baseball season — and occassionally other stuff. The rest of the crap is just there for amusement when we’re bored and don’t have Internet access.

As for the resolution issues, you should move up to the front row. Update: apparently the resolution of the file is constrained: nevermind.

Our Philips television is 27″ diagonal. The 20″ iMac would make a good second television, and some might choose it as their main unit — particularly if you don’t care about broadcast fluff.

Happy 60th Birthday, IBM Research

Today’s the 60th anniversary of IBM Research. Fred Brooks and other luminaries are over at the T. J. Watson Research Center here in Yorktown.

IBM Research publishes a number of journals in addition to performing actual research work. Some are of more general interest than others, such as Think Research, which currently features articles on social network analysis, and on how layers of complexity destroy value. Both articles are valuable.

No Switching Cost

The cost of switching between Web services is very low, almost miniscule, so providers of Web applications must be constantly on their toes, and provide an excellent, superb, easy-to-use product.

It took me about two minutes to switch between Bloglines and Google Reader. Let’s see if who can keep me.

Since When Were the ’90s Retro?

Hey there, reference librarians
Hey there, rare book antiquarians
Hey there, octogenarians, answers, please
What will I do with these flowers and gems?
To whom will I recite these wretched poems?
How can I live in a world without them?
Where have the women all gone?

It’s music-from-my-college-years day here at the farm, sponsored by Gillen’s quiz, and I’ve just recalled Drink Me‘s eponymous debut from 1993. You can drink a couple on Amazon.

apt-get install Ubuntu

I’ve installed Ubuntu Breezy Badger on my desk. From a GUI perspective it’s just another GNOME. From a system administration perspective, it’s Debian. From an included packages perspective, it’s free software, which means you have to intentionally install unfree features.

I have a usability issue.

My issue is not with Linux but with X, though perhaps the proximate cause of the issue is the installer. During installation I selected the possible resolutions and refresh rates for my monitor. Since I have no clue what the monitor actually supports, and since I think it’s really the computer’s responsibility to figure this out, I chose the defaults. After all, I can change them later, right?

Not exactly.

The GNOME applet for changing the display settings doesn’t display any settings other than those I selected during the installation, instead of displaying all those possible. I suppose I could change the settings in /etc/X11/xorg.conf by hand, if I know WTF to change them to.

The Elektra project, in a post to LWN, linked from, asserts that the configuration file format needs to change because

The xorg.conf file (as most Unix configuration files) was designed for human beings.


Additional Sources

I’ve noticed over the past few days that traditional media outlets, such as Ziff-Davis c|net and other fine purveyors of re-written press releases, have begun to cite “bloggers” instead of “analysts.” Next thing you know The Associated Press will be calling me for my opinion on something. (That’s not a stretch: Ted Bridis did ask me a question once, but I think it was about Lotus Notes, and David E. Kalish asked my opinion of some industry players, but that was back when I was working down the hall.)

Anyway, now that journalists are citing bloggers, they have to watch out that they don’t suspend their cognitive faculties inadvertently cite analysts. Take, for example, the Jupiter Research blog, Microsoft Monitor. In reviewing the response to Sun’s distribution agreement with Google, c|net quotes this assessment of the situation.

A Google alliance with any competitor is probably going to cause ulcers over at Microsoft.

No, it won’t. Haven’t you been paying attention? The Nobel committee just awarded the prize in medicine to Barry J. Marshall and J. Robin Warren for the discovery that a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, causes ulcers.