Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Congrats Barak Obama!
And, thank you John McCain, your class showed tonight, even if your audience didn't share it.

I voted

I got to my polling place at about 6:50 or so, and waited until about 7:40 to vote. In the first 40 minutes, 240 people voted ahead of me! That's normally the count by mid-late afternoon!

It, without doubt, is going to be an interesting day.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Sony CDX-2180

Today's helpful random tidbit that Jeff couldn't find with Google:
I have a Sony CDX-2180 car radio (complete with its...get this... 1BIT-D/A converter!). Anyway, ever since I changed the battery in the car, the radio defaults to not show the clock (in case your car doesn't turn off the power to the radio with the key, apparently).

Anyway, the answer on how to fix this is to press and hold SOUND and then hit off. That toggles the display for me, anyway.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Palin only got her passport LAST YEAR?

From the NY Times:

Ms. Palin appears to have traveled very little outside the United States. In July 2007, she had to get a passport before she visited members of the Alaska National Guard stationed in Kuwait, according to her deputy communications director, Sharon Leighow. She also visited wounded troops in Germany during that trip.

You've got to be kidding me. Somehow she has foreign policy experience by just somehow being sorta close to Russia?

Its a big and diverse world out there. You can't learn that though a book or through the tee-vee. You've got to go out there and experience it. And guess what... the rest of the world isn't just like the USA, and that's a good thing. There are good things about differences. For instance, I like German beer. That's good.

But in other news of the day, she's also casually thrown out that we might have to go to war with Russia. Good grief. No wonder she's been kept from doing solo interviews.

I only pray that America doesn't accept their bold faced lies.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Concert in the Park

Concert in the Park 2008

Concert in the Park 2008 was a great time. I took the above panorama there.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Summer Driving

Summer Driving

Summer driving has side effects. Like bugs. As you can see, we've had a bumper crop of bumper bugs. I don't how two Asian Beetles hit the 2.

Too bad no photo really does justice to the spread of bugs. Or, wait, maybe thats really a good thing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

RIP George

George, if you're reading this and you haven't heard, you're dead. You didn't pass away.

The really funny bit comes in at 5:55 in this clip.

And then, with possibly one of the funniest bits ever:

...wait I gotta go out and get some more stuff.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The New Yorker: The Fall of Conservatism

The Fall of Conservatism

The era of American politics that has been dying before our eyes was born in 1966. That January, a twenty-seven-year-old editorial writer for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat named Patrick Buchanan went to work for Richard Nixon, who was just beginning the most improbable political comeback in American history. Having served as Vice-President in the Eisenhower Administration, Nixon had lost the Presidency by a whisker to John F. Kennedy, in 1960, and had been humiliated in a 1962 bid for the California governorship. But he saw that he could propel himself back to power on the strength of a new feeling among Americans who, appalled by the chaos of the cities, the moral heedlessness of the young, and the insults to national pride in Vietnam, were ready to blame it all on the liberalism of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Right-wing populism was bubbling up from below; it needed to be guided by a leader who understood its resentments because he felt them, too.


Wow. Quite a telling story, especially for those of us who are a little light on the details of how we got into this.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Wild Parrots of Brooklyn

What's amazing is that they don't freeze in the winter.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

At the Union

At the Memorial Union Terrace, taken yesterday, April 30, 2008.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Intel GM945 causes Gnome to choose the wrong monitor

So I recently upgraded to a new monitor ($318 on the Sun Matching Grant Program -- which really isn't a matching program anymore, but I digress).

The problem is that I now want to use that as my primary display, and my Dell monitor as my secondary display off my D620 laptop with the Intel 945GM display. That means I'll have a primary display DVI at 1920x1600 and my secondary VGA at 1680x1050. Unfortunately for whatever reason, the Intel 945GM lists the VGA first in xrandr, which is roughly the way the server sees it. This causes Gnome to choose that display as the primary place it shows the login screen, shows the menus, and so forth.

My current solution is to login and then run this script:


xrandr --output TMDS-1 --off
xrandr --output VGA --off
xrandr --output TMDS-1 --auto
xrandr --output VGA --auto
xrandr --output VGA --pos 1920x0

This turns off both displays, and turns them both back on. This causes them to overlap at position 0x0 (meaning you'll see the displays mirrored). Then it slides the VGA display to the right, which is what I want. I'm not sure if it'd work the other way.

Monday, April 28, 2008

After Microsoft

After Microsoft

Taken from the same shot that the Windows XP "Bliss" image was taken, 10 years later.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tough DUI Test

Thankfully I don't think I'd fail. This guy came close to making it:

Dog vs. Screen Door

Growing up, we had a dog. He wasn't the smartest creature on the planet (heck, he ate a rock once -- I think my dad still has that little souvenir). Anyway, this dog is even dumber:

Monday, April 14, 2008

The case of the 500-mile email

Trey Harris should write a book. He's already got a great title: The case of the 500-mile email

Monday, April 07, 2008

My Next Car

If only I could have one of these as my next car:

I wonder if crushing the car in front of you incurs extra insurance costs...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Dog Named Lady

I'm pretty backlogged on my podcasts, so this one is from a while ago. If you've got about 5 minutes check out The Dog Named Lady. Its worth the trip...uh...I mean the listen.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Finally, work can resume

The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery building is going up. First, things must come down. Demolition is cool. Its also quite a distraction. Here's the view from our office:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Whats the Most Popular Date Easter Falls On?

I was born on Easter and have had my birthday on Easter twice in my life so far. It led me to wonder, whats the most common date that Easter will fall on between the earliest possible day (March 22) and the latest possible day (April 25). Here's the graph for the years 1583 through 4099:

The source data came from http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~gmarts/eastcalc.htm

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Iraq War gets better and betterer


Iraq war 'caused slowdown in the US' | The Australian:
"'When the Bush administration went to war in Iraq it obviously didn't focus very much on the cost. Larry Lindsey, the chief economic adviser, said the cost was going to be between $US100billion and $US200 billion - and for that slight moment of quasi-honesty he was fired.

'(Then defense secretary Donald) Rumsfeld responded and said 'baloney', and the number the administration came up with was $US50 to $US60 billion. We have calculated that the cost was more like $US3 trillion."

I'm still searching for the silver lining on the war in Iraq. 600,000 plus people dead. 100,000 US military suffering from post-war issues. US economy stifled. The Dollar is in a freefall. Iraq is now a terrorist haven. Security theater abounds at airports. Fear-mongering continues.

Of course its good that we have a barrel of oil going for more than $100... Where do you think the Sauds are getting the money to lend us? How much further in debt are we going to go?

Them's some dark clouds... and they aren't going away any time soon, no matter who is elected president. Remember: we brought this upon ourselves. We did not have to go into Iraq. Oh, and Afghanistan (remember that deal we didn't finish?) *sigh*

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Beltline Tops My Week

I've been having one of those weeks. Its been a week where everything is just a lot harder than it should have been.

For instance, yesterday a welding truck flipped over ahead of us on the beltline. We were trapped between Verona Road and Todd Drive -- for an hour and a half.

The best part was we did talk to the Sheriff's department guy. At one point he turned to a Dane County snowplow driver (who was helping out) and yelled over to him, "Where are you telling people to go???"

The plow driver yelled back: "I told them to go up to your fricking car and go down the offramp."

After spinning the car around we ended up going down the Verona Road onramp and then being directed up Midvale. We ended up going through downtown, which was an utter mess due to the extra traffic.

Oh hopefully next week won't be so hard.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Preach on Brother Schneier!

A reading from the book of Schneier, Feb 15 Crypto-Gram:

"Since 9/11, approximately three things have potentially improved airline security: reinforcing the cockpit doors, passengers realizing they have to fight back, and -- possibly -- sky marshals. Everything else -- all the security measures that affect privacy -- is just security theater and a waste of effort."

"By the same token, many of the anti-privacy "security" measures we're seeing -- national ID cards, warrantless eavesdropping, massive data mining, and so on -- do little to improve, and in some cases harm, security. And government claims of their success are either wrong, or against fake threats."

"The debate isn't security versus privacy. It's liberty versus control."

If only the public-at-large could understand even these three paragraphs...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Yes we can.

I saw Barack Obama speak at the Kohl Center this evening.


He spoke to things I find very important. They include:

  • Getting us out of Iraq.
  • Iraq was a distraction from the real work in Afghanistan.
  • Hope is not unobtainable.
  • Having the same cast of characters in Washington won't produce different results.

In terms of the event itself it was amazing. I will probably never in my life see as many people in the Kohl Center as there were tonight. The entire upper deck was (probably illegally) full... every square foot had a person... stairs, hallways, etc.

It's official: Madison sees snowiest winter ever

It's official: Madison sees snowiest winter ever

So they're going to make shirts that say "I plowed through the winter of 07-08" for the staff? How long do you think it is before people add the word "was" between the first two words?

Oh well... off to start up the snowblower again...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Winter strikes again

For those of you missing out on all the Winter fun in Wisconsin:


That's a shot of Campus Drive @ Randall Ave in Madison.

Friday, February 01, 2008

My Grandmother

My grandmother died today.

I am, of course, sad she is gone. However, my focus is on how happy I am that she was in my life. She wasn't an ordinary grandmother.

She was extraordinary in many, many ways.

Lets look at a few:

The first way my Grandmother was extraordinary was her fondness of Mountain Dew. When I was in high school, my grandmother asked for a sip of the soda I was drinking. Since I started my Caffeine addiction early, the soda was Mountain Dew. After taking a sip, Grandma said, "MMm..." Somewhat surprised, my mother asked if Grandma would like one, which she accepted.

That was the first sip of what turned out to be a long run.

It progressed to the point that if you'd go over to her apartment, and the soda machine on the first floor was out of Mountain Dew, you'd know. Grandma would be grumpy, upset and needing her Dew! How many people have Grandmas hooked on Mountain Dew?

Upon reflection, it was probably a really good thing that I didn't play any of my music for her... The neighbors at her retirement home probably wouldn't have liked that much.

At our wedding, Grandma was a star. She danced the night away -- even keeping up with a professional dancer! At one point, she went up to the DJ and said, "I don't mean to be rude, but could you play something with a little more pep?"

In her later years, she had a problem keeping weight on. One Christmas morning a few years ago, my mother told me, "Give Grandma that gift there." I went, picked it up, and heard a clank of bottles.

"What is this, a 12 pack of beer?" I asked sarcastically.

"SSSSShhhh!!" my mother exclaimed.

My shock at my mother's statement was quickly overshadowed by the next, larger shock.

This wasn't just beer, it was Spaten Optimator.

Floored, I immediately wanted to make some T-shirts saying:

Apparently my Grandmother's doctor had suggested she drink this before going to bed to help her sleep, and to put some weight on. Grandma added in a whisper, "and it keeps you regular, too."

Grandma was Grandma until the very end, including some of the words of wisdom I've shared so far. I plan to answer "How do you feel?" as Grandma did ("With your fingers.")

In the end I'm reminded of words from a friend that passed a way a few years ago. He was writing about a piece of music (the Andante from the Piano Concerto No. 2 by Johannes
Brahms). He wrote:
"What a composer! What sublime and gorgeous music! But it also reminded me of a parallel with Life. In both, you follow along the progress, enjoying every moment, and when the end comes, it's so gracious and inevitable and fulfilling that one doesn't fret that it's over but rather rejoice that it happened." John Peter Gesinski, August 28, 2004

Grandmother, thank you for being in my life.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Random SSL problem of the day

So I get the following trying to connect to a sendmail SMTPS port:

2008.01.29 19:41:14 LOG5[8849:3083409072]: stunnel 4.21 on i486-pc-linux-gnu with OpenSSL 0.9.8g 19 Oct 2007
2008.01.29 19:41:14 LOG5[8849:3083409072]: Threading:PTHREAD SSL:ENGINE Sockets:POLL,IPv6 Auth:LIBWRAP
2008.01.29 19:41:14 LOG5[8849:3083409072]: stunnel connected remote server from
2008.01.29 19:41:15 LOG3[8849:3083409072]: SSL_connect: 1408F10B: error:1408F10B:SSL routines:SSL3_GET_RECORD:wrong version number
2008.01.29 19:41:15 LOG5[8849:3083409072]: Connection reset: 0 bytes sent to SSL, 0 bytes sent to socket

The answer was check to see that the other end really is running SSL. In my case it wasn't. It was amazing how many people were searching the Internet and only after not seeing anything I tried the port... *sigh*

Monday, January 28, 2008

Jalopy, RIP

Just before applying DBAN, uptime on jalopy showed:
15:12:57 up 1063 days,  3:06,  1 user,  load average: 0.02, 0.01, 0.00

Grandma's Words of Wisdom, part 3

I offered the water to Grandma. She refused it.

I said, "I could add some Vodka to it."

She replied, "AH! Then you'd have something!"

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Grandma's Words of Wisdom, part 2

Visiting my Grandmother yesterday, when asked what she would like to do:
"I'm just sitting here listing to all this bullcrap."

The great fiscal stimulus package ... of 1929

*sigh* I hope history doesn't repeat itself.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Nort's words of Wisdom

SMS from Lambeau Field 1/20/08 7:22 pm:

Its f'n cold!!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

This can't end well...

In an epic combination of Passive Aggressiveness combined with Complaining about Neighbors combined with being anonymous comes together in the Web 2.0/Google Maps Mashup RottenNeighbor.com.

Basically you can say whatever you want about anyone you want while being anonymous as you attach it to the map.

Grab the popcorn. This could get entertaining.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Grandma's Words of Wisdom

My 89 year old grandmother was checked into a Nursing home last week. In spite of all her problems, while she was being checked in she was asked:

"How do you feel?"

And she answered:

"With my fingers."

ifconfig vs arping

Todays technical oddity comes to us as part of the Solaris Zones cluster system that I wrote. Its hardcore and I rolled it myself.

We use service IP addresses (i.e. one IP address for each service we provide) and when we move the service IP address we need to have the router find out that it has moved. That's easy with arping. We just send out an unsolicited ARP reply to the router to update the ARP table entry for the service IP address.

Each Zone is doing a particular service and we programmatically create and destroy zones as we move them around to particular cluster nodes.

Anyway, with the latest patches an odd thing started happening: when my script would ifconfig an IP address directly into a zone and then arping that address to the router, it would get removed from the arp table on the Solaris machine! To make matters worse, when I would do it by hand it would always work.

After some dinking around with it, Matt and I figured out that somehow the Solaris machine itself must be listening to the unsolicited ARP reply and it must have occurred in a race condition with the ifconfig command. My current theory is that the ARP table has only resolution down to a second, and things are recorded with the Epoch time.

The solution?



Maybe I should look in the source...

Friday, January 04, 2008

Real-time work clock

Where I work it is very important to know the right time. As a service to the larger community, here is a real-time picture of the current time:

Maybe I need to adjust my work schedule so I go home at 1:59...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Accidental Wood Poisoning Prevention Week

Do your part, participate in the annual Accidental Wood Poisoning Prevention Week.

Don't be be caught off guard. Make sure your wood delivery system is properly stowed to prevent accidential administration.

Do your part!