Monday, December 31, 2007

Sansa e270 + Ubuntu Gutsy + libmtp 0.2.4

If you install libmtp on Ubuntu 7.10 you get libmtp6-0.2.1 which is sorely out of date and does not play well with my Sansa player. Strangely, MTP in Amarok worked fine in 7.04 but Ubuntu identified it as a digital camera. Since it worked I didn’t complain. No such luck on 7.10. I installed libmtp6-0.2.1 and mtp-detect would segfault about 50% of the time.

The instructions I provide worked well for me but they may destroy your system, make you sterile, catch your house on fire, or worse: accidently install a licensed copy of Windows Vista Home Basic Neutered Edition.

Shut down Amarok and any multimedia software you might be running. In your favorite terminal:

sudo apt-get install build-essential checkinstall
sudo apt-get build-dep libmtp

build-essential pulls in the tools you’ll need for compiling while checkinstall is a nifty tool to build a quasi-sane package for your system. The build-dep command fetches the dependencies required to build the currently available version of libmtp (0.2.1) which for our purposes is good enough. Grab the latest libmtp source from and save it to /tmp. Go into /tmp and do:

tar -xvzf libmtp-0.2.4.tar.gz
cd libmtp-0.2.4

This should hopefully produce the binaries you need. To make a package:

sudo checkinstall

You must answer questions. I elected yes until I got to editing specific fields. I changed summary and name to libmtp6. This is not technically correct as the proper version is libmtp7 but this makes it install as an upgrade rather than a separate package. I With those changes I hit ENTER to continue. The final step to make Amarok happy was to ln the library it was expecting to libmtp7:

sudo ln -s /usr/local/lib/ /usr/lib/

It should be noted that this is The Wrong Way and it will likely rupture the space-time continuum. That being said, Amarok doesn’t seem to need a stable space-time continuum and functions happily for me with this setup.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

VMWare Mailing List Signup

If you don’t want our junk mail, please refrain from not avoiding double negatives

Had to purchase some stuff from VMWare today and during the checkout process they have an empty checkbox with this next to it:

We’d like to keep you informed via email about product updates, upgrades, special offers and pricing. We will not pass your details onto third parties. If you do not wish to be contacted via email, please ensure that the box is not checked.

Really cute, guys.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wild Fires 2007

This is the second time around that I’ve experienced the wild fires in North County and it’s still surreal. The first was in 2003 and this time it’s much, much worse.

The sky is the same rusty metal color and the air is just as thick with soot and ash. I had to drive all around the county on an emergency errand so I got to see how things were all over and for the most part they were not good. When I first left Escondido there was a sharp line running East-West. On the northern side of the line the sky was that normal Southern California blue. On the southern side of the line the sky was red, orange, and gray. The 15 south was closed so I had to go all the way across the 78 to take the 5 south down to the 8. Look at a map and you can see that’s quite a hall. I stopped in Leucadia to get gas and the 60 seconds or so that I was out of my car left me smoke in my throat and ashes in my eyes.

I actually made it to my destination at the 8-5 intersection pretty quickly. It’s going back that I had problems. I heard on the radio that the 15 had been reopened so I drove the 8 to the 163 to the 15. I was diverted off the freeway at Ted Williams Parkway (the 56) to be diverted onto that road. I was hoping I could find my way around so I made my way up Poway and Rancho Bernardo. While in Rancho Bernardo I stopped to look in on my girlfriend’s parents’ house since the area had been evacuated: the house was fine.

I made my way onto the 15 south and then the 56 west, driving all the way back to the 5 north where traffic was steady at about 10 MPH all the way to the 78. At the 78 I cruised all the way back to Escondido.

In driving around like this I noticed a few things. First it was surprising how quickly you could go from an are of clear sky to an area of noxious smoke. Secondly, this whole thing was handled really well in my opinion. Evacuation notices seemed to go out in a timely fashion and people evacuating were being directed in an orderly way. All day the radio has been saying 250 thousand people evacuated and it’s probably more since I’ve been hearing that number for about five hours. Considering the scale of this the performance of our emergency services is absolutely stunning.

I’ve been listening to a local AM station, 760 KFMB with Rick Roberts. Rick normally does political talk which I’m not into and I almost never listen to AM radio. Today however Rick and that station did a stellar job of passing information onto us, getting people on the air who had pertinent questions, and getting people on the air who had pertinent information. I think their information dissemination probably helped keep a lot of people from panicking and probably saved a few lives. Kudos to them.

I may get some pictures of the sky on here but most likely mine will pale in comparison to what you can get on local news sites.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Press 1 If You're Not a Dinosaur

I called NewEgg today to resolve an order issue. As I’m navigating their phone maze they issue the imperative: “If you’re calling from a touch tone phone, please press 1”. I think what would be more appropriate would be to say: “If you’re not calling from a touch tone phone, please grunt into the receiver.” Perhaps even “If you’re not calling from a touch tone phone, please send a miniature pterodactyl to us with your message.”

Does anyone not have a touch tone phone anymore? Where are they getting orders, from, Guatemala? I’m old enough and from a backward enough place that I remember rotary phones and slow mechanical phone switches. That place has long since been touch tone. I’m thinking at this point not having a touch tone phone is equivalent to not having opposable thumbs.

Furthermore, how in the world can someone not have a touch tone phone but still need to order computer components?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Ronald Jenkees

Yesterday I stumbled onto the YouTube channel of Ronald Jenkees. The first thing you’ll notice is that this guy looks strange and acts strangely. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a better example of how deceptive appearance and demeanor can be deceiving. When he speaks he sounds incredibly square. When he does what he does though, he melts my fucking brain.

Ronald Jenkees is a musician unlike most you’ve ever witnessed. When he describes what he does he displays a level of sincerity and humility that implies that he might not have much to show off. When he performs though, it’s unreal. My favorite video of his so far is currently the newest, with the subject I’m on iTunes! Thanks for the reviews! +NEW BEAT & Impov Jam. I considered embedding this video in the blog page but decided that I’d rather people went to his YouTube channel and checked out a few of his videos.

He has individual mp3s, and album of mp3s, and a physical CD for sale on his website. While I plan on buying a CD I can’t consider that a proper showcase of his abilities (not that I’ve listened to the CD yet). When he plays he really seems to put his soul into what he’s doing and I suspect some of that will be lost in simply listening to the songs rather than seeing him performed. Seeing him perform makes me think of one of the greek philosopher’s (Aristotle? Plato?) guide to happiness: determine what it is that you truly are and be that. When he performs, he appears to be experiencing the music at a level that I could never understand or appreciate. That being said, if you read this Ronald, you should consider live performance or at least a DVD.

So, go to his YouTube channel and check out his videos. Particularly the one mentioned above, the Podcast Intro video, the Rocky video, and the “pretend guitar” video. After that, if you like it leave him some feedback and maybe buy some mp3s or the CD.

In my opinion, this kind of thing is the birthright of the Internet. In conventional media you are either unknown or known by everyone. On the Internet you can be famous by your own efforts provided you have something significant to share.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Avenue Q

Last night I saw the musical Avenue Q at Spreckles Theatre in San Diego.

The theater was interesting. I can’t imagine how this place passes code. It’s not dirty or anything like that but the balcony section was engineered for mountain goats. It sits at a severely steep angle and one of the ushers almost took a tumble but was caught by a guest. The seats were kind of constraining and it was hot. Aside from those relatively minor (albeit life-threatening) complaints it was a pretty nice place.

The show was great. The performers did an excellent job of conveying subtle body language in the puppets that those of us in the up on the cliff could easily pick up on. The singing was as wonderful as you’d hope to see in a Broadway musical which added a nice touch of surreality to the bawdy lyrics.

I think my favorite songs from the show were “The Internet Is For Porn”, “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist”, and one that I believe the title is “If You Were Gay”. As you might guess from the titles this is not a show for children or those who are easily offended. That being said I would still recommend it just about anyone over the age of 25.

Although the story is primarily about Princeton and Kate Monster, every character gets a share of the spotlight. I would like to have seen more of the Bad Idea Bears whose pure subscription to social disorder really speaks to the baser aspects of my personality.

If you’re the kind of red-blooded American who can enjoy crude humor this is for you. If you think you’re too mature for this sort of thing, have fun seeing Phantom again, I guess.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Aug 1, 4am. Sleepless

It’s 4:12 in the morning and I can’t sleep. I’m supposed to leave for work in less than four hours. I can’t sleep and I’m not sure why.

I’ve had a persistent sadness sticking with me for the last few days that I can’t seem to shake. This isn’t much of a surprise. It’s almost always been that I don’t shake these things, I just have to let them run their course.

Part of what has kept me up is having the song “Impossible Germany” by Wilco stuck in my head. It’s a wonderful, mellow, rainy-day song that’s kind of sad and pensive but still has an amazing guitar solo. I think the song is so sticky right now because of this sadness.

A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to see the fact that someone that I’ve cared deeply about cultivates the absolute worst aspects of my personality. Ten years ago I hung out with Julie and the Unhappy Club to feel a little less alone. I didn’t realize it at the time but if I had stopped imposing the belief on myself that I was alone I wouldn’t have needed the Unhappy Club. I had plenty of friends at arm’s reach and could have had as many as I wanted. I guess the self-isolation was a natural product of the depression I wasn’t dealing with. In that situation, clumping with like minded people is a survival instinct. I’m trying to figure out why things that happened ten years ago are bothering me so much. The best answer I can come up with is that it that the cognitive dissonance in overturning ten year old beliefs is pretty massive. It all makes me feel very stupid and small.

I spent a lot of effort as a teenager desensitizing myself to trivialities. Part of the depression is that even trivial things become huge and overwhelming if the timing is off. One thing I took away from reading some Zen writings as a teenager is that little things are little and ultimately the meanings and values of everything are only in your head. The clothes dryer chews a hole in your shirt: it’s just a piece of clothing and not worth getting upset over. Sadly, this way of thinking has gotten twisted around for me. For example, cleaning out the cat’s litter box is no big deal… not something to make a fuss about. However, for me the part that seems insignificant is the importance of doing it, not the labor. I have a hard time with simple things that don’t mean a great deal in the larger scheme of things. I need to find a way to get my priorities under control.

Hopefully David Allen is right and having captured these somewhat random thoughts in a trusted system will purge them from my mind. I have my own thoughts as to why this kind of thing works from reading GTD but that’s another topic.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Correspondent Inference Theory and Terrorism

Correspondent Inference Theory and Terrorism

Bruce Schneier has a wonderful article on a paper about the discrepancies between terrorists’ objectives and what the objectives are perceived to be and how that ultimately makes terrorism ineffective.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Transformers Was Awesome

You heard me: awesome. There are some mixed reviews floating around about the live action Transformers movie. My best guess as to why anyone would not like Transformers is that they went in expecting to see the cartoon with better animation. I can see this generating disappointment. However, looking back at other cartoons I enjoyed as a kid the trend that I’ve observed is that they aren’t nearly as good as I remember.


At any rate, I’ll start with the visual effects. There’s not really much to say about them because they were so clean you didn’t realize they were visual effects.

The story was definitely better than any of the episodes of the cartoon or the original animated movie. It was the black and white, good and evil kind of story that you might expect. I think I would have been annoyed if they tried to make it more complicated. They did add to the original setting in making the government frightened of and hostile toward these unknown entities. Hooray for common sense.


The characters were good. Although each character wasn’t exactly the same as in the show, I felt the characters were true in spirit. I also feel that the characters would have to be updated a bit to be accepted by people twenty years after they original show. Optimus Prime is a goodie two-shoes. Starscream is punk. Megatron is not a pistol. And yes, cry yourself to sleep fanboys, Bumblebee is a spunky Camaro. I could have done without the Camaro commercial and I felt the Autobots were a little too goofy in one scene were Sam is searching for a precious item. Given that these are my only complaints about the movie, I think it was done quite well.


I felt the overall presentation was very good. It was an updated story that took all of the best elements of the original show, gave nods to many of the good ones, and left behind most of the bad ones. Several times you hear an updated version of the original, famous transforming sound but you don’t hear it with every transformation. You get hints that Megatron and Starscream have a history of domestic violence but they manage to keep it together for the duration of the movie. In short, you’re given better flavors of the original series without attempts to show you the whole thing.

There is a significant computer/networking element in the movie. I give them credit for really trying to explain the computing issues in the movie. Overall, they did about as good as anyone can. To make the important facets of computer/network security clear to the audience you’d have to put them through a Survey of Computer Science course or something similar. They do a decent job of presenting the spirit of things. If you’re a computer geek, bite your tongue and be thankful that no one says they can “just see the code” or something similarly nonsensical.


I suspect that the cause of some people’s dislike for the new movie is how it deviates from the original show and possibly later shows and comics. I only watched the original show and the animated movie (and bought and played with the toys) so to some degree I don’t know what I’m missing. As I mentioned earlier, I suspect that if I went back and watched some episodes of the original show I would be disappointed. It’s also possible that if I watched the later shows and read the comics I’d see a depth of character and story that I’d feel the movie corrupts or contradicts. If that’s the case, I’d have to say “Oh well”. This isn’t a movie for Transformers historians, it’s a movie for the masses. If anything, I’m pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t really watered down. If you’re expecting to see the show, or the comics, or some amalgam thereof, you’ll probably be disappointed. If you just want to see an entertaining movie with good action, excellent effects, and a good story, pony up you $235 for the movie ticket.

Family Stickers

Some things that are fairly popular here in San Diego are what I think of as Family Roster Stickers. You may have seen them before on the rear window of a minivan. They’re usually white stickers of stick people that represent the family that normally rides in the vehicle.

Usually there’s a tall male and female for the mother and father, smaller males and/or females for the children, and sometimes there are pets and “props” like soccer balls to represent interests.

Is it just me, or is it a little scary that people put these things on their cars? Consider the following scenario. A man approaches a little girl at the playground who’s out of sight of her parents. He says to the little girl, “You’re Christy, right?” She replies that she is. The man continues, “I’m a friend of Travis, I mean, your dad, and he asked me to pick you up and take you home. Your brother Danny is already home from soccer practice. Alice will probably have dinner ready by the time you get there and she won’t want you to let it get cold.”

It’s not really that big of a stretch to see this happening. Of course, for it to work several things need to have failed. First, Christy should know never to talk to strangers, whoever they claim to be. Secondly, Christy shouldn’t be out of sight when away from home or neighbors. Thirdly is that the opportunity needs to have presented itself at all. These things aren’t really that far-fetched.

Having said all this, I don’t want to sound like all the other alarmists who say that every person you don’t know is waiting to kidnap your children. I do think that broadcasting this kind of information about your family is a bad idea. You wouldn’t go around telling people where you live and what times you’re not at home.

What might be a good idea would be to get these kinds of stickers on your car but with fake names. Her parents can tell Christy to ask anyone claiming to know her mother or father what their names are. If the person provides the name on the stickers, something is obviously up. This won’t stop people who actually know Christy and her family but it will thwart some people. It’s no substitute for teaching your child about strangers and keeping an eye on her when at the park and such.

One could also get some of these and just put something fun like The Ass Family. I’d kind of like to have a set for Cthulhu and family.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ridiculous Laundry Facilities Part 2 - The Tenant Strikes Back

Went to do laundry again yesterday. This time it appeared that there were still only two dryers that worked. Here’s the one I selected:

The duct tape is there to hold the dryer door closed. It supposedly worked provided the door was closed. Unfortunately, the door wasn’t motivated to do so unless forced.

I had a fairly large load of laundry so when it was still after the first run I wasn’t terribly surprised. After the second run I noticed it was just as damp but not hot. It then dawned on me that the dryer didn’t heat, it only tumbled.

I found the other working dryer and got my clothes dry after two runs. As I was retrieving my laundry I noticed a pair of undies hooked on the wall of the dryer. By the looks of them they got caught and dragged about quite a bit. As I was rummaging through the rest of my laundry I noticed several more articles of clothing with holes ripped in them. Here’s the product below:

With this in mind, I filed a complaint with The San Diego Better Business Bureau. Hopefully they can make something happen here.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

This is an image of Radar, our head of Software Development’s dog. Radar is a soft, fairly mellow dog with a nice disposition. Under the demur exterior is the heart of a true party animal. Radar rocks a mullet: not has a mullet, rocks a mullet. The head of development denies that this is a mullet but I think it’s because he doesn’t want to look square by contrast.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Load Average Explained (Sort of)

One day I was explaining load average over our internal instant messaging system to one of our newer tech support people. I felt that it might be worth sharing.

(02:28:37 PM) Technician: wat causes the load average on a sharedserver to be so high

(02:28:40 PM) Technician: ?

(02:28:48 PM) Technician: [root@sharedserver4121 root]# uptime

13:25:08 up 96 days, 12:01, 2 users, load average: 187.21, 185.44, 181.12

(02:28:59 PM) Jason: What is the meaning of load average?

(02:30:19 PM) Technician: The average load that the processor is under

(02:30:20 PM) Technician: ?

(02:30:44 PM) Jason: Okay, what does the number ‘187.21’ mean?

(02:31:21 PM) Technician: the present load or the load 5 min ago

(02:31:21 PM) Jason: asside from 100 + 80 + 7 + 2/10 + 1/100

(02:31:35 PM) Jason: but what is load? What is the unit of load?

(02:32:34 PM) Technician: a quantity that can be processed or transported at one time

(02:32:36 PM) Technician: ?

(02:34:25 PM) Jason: Good… you understand what a process is?

(02:36:51 PM) Technician: A process is a program that is running on the computer?

(02:36:53 PM) Technician: ?

(02:36:59 PM) Technician: :-/

(02:37:10 PM) Jason: ‘an instance of a program’, to be precise

(02:37:20 PM) Jason: what do you know about process status?

(02:39:15 PM) Technician: it tells you the status of the process that is currently running on the computer

(02:39:32 PM) Jason: what are the possible statuses?

(02:39:40 PM) Jason: or some of them, at least

(02:40:23 PM) Technician: cpu, memory uses

(02:40:27 PM) Jason: No

(02:40:52 PM) Jason: Do you know the difference between multiprocessing and multitasking?

(02:41:06 PM) Jason: (I’m not trying to give you a hard time, I just need to know where to start)

(02:41:50 PM) Technician: I know

(02:43:31 PM) Technician: multiprocessing is using more than one cpu on one computer and multitasking is sharings

(02:43:32 PM) Technician: ?

(02:43:40 PM) Jason: Correct

(02:44:45 PM) Jason: With multiprocessing you have multiple processors and can do more than one thing at a time. With multitasking (time sharing) the system simulates doing more than one thing at a time by switching between processes (or threads) very quickly.

(02:45:20 PM) Technician: ic

(02:45:25 PM) Jason: This is all managed by the process scheduler… part of the kernel

(02:50:58 PM) Jason: The scheduler keeps track how long the current process has been running, which tasks are eligible to be run, each processes priority, etc

(02:51:50 PM) Technician: so the sharedserver is using multitasking?

(02:52:04 PM) Jason: correct. sharedserveres with hyperthreading do some multiprocessing

(02:52:15 PM) Technician: ic

(02:52:33 PM) Jason: The scheduler is very concerned with a process’s status. The status is shown by the column in ‘ps’ that says S, R, D, etc

(02:52:55 PM) Technician: because is not jus his stuff (site & email) is on it..more than one client is using it as well

(02:53:17 PM) Technician: my English isn;t all that great

(02:53:32 PM) Jason: more than that… there’s apache running, there’s ftp running, there’s sendmail running, there’s system housekeeping tasks running, etc

(02:54:00 PM) Jason: So, the status is really whether or not a process can run and if not, why not.

(02:54:08 PM) Technician: a sh*t load of stuff…which can cause the load to be pretty high

(02:54:32 PM) Jason: a shit load of stuff doesn’t necessarily mean a high load though

(02:54:52 PM) Technician: so many thing is waiting to be process

(02:54:56 PM) Technician: in other words

(02:55:05 PM) Jason: Well, it’s like this

(02:55:38 PM) Jason: Most processes that you see will be in the S status, which means ‘sleeping’. When processes don’t need to do anything they go to sleep. When they are needed they get woken up

(02:56:05 PM) Jason: For example there’s cron which run processes at certain times. It doesn’t constantly run, checking the time…

(02:56:37 PM) Jason: What it does is tells the kernel to wake it up at such and such time, then it goes to sleep

(02:56:49 PM) Technician: ic

(03:00:56 PM) Jason: When the appropriate time comes around, the kernel wakes up the process and it does whatever it needs to do, schedules a wake up call, and goes back to sleep

(03:02:19 PM) Jason: There’s lots of reasons for a process to go to sleep. Perhaps it’s waiting on you to press a key or it’s waiting from someone to connect

(03:02:50 PM) Jason: When the process actually needs to do stuff, it’s Runnable ‘R’.

(03:03:20 PM) Jason: Runnable is not the same as Running. Runnable means that the process wants to use the processor but it doesn’t necessarily get to

(03:04:13 PM) Jason: If there’s only one processor and multiple runnable processes, they have to share. The scheduler takes care of the sharing. Whoever isn’t currently using the processor has to wait.

(03:05:14 PM) Jason: Another status is ‘D’ which means (for some reason) waiting on IO. That process has asked for some data and it hasn’t arrived yet or it’s asked for data to be written and the kernel hasn’t confirmed that the data has been written.

(03:05:51 PM) Jason: The D status is similar to runnable in that it has stuff to do, but in this case it’s being forced to wait on something other than the processor

(03:06:19 PM) Jason: …which finally brings us to load average

(03:06:28 PM) Jason: still with me? :)

(03:06:36 PM) Technician: you should write a book

(03:06:44 PM) Technician: :-D..but yeah

(03:06:46 PM) Technician: go on

(03:06:47 PM) Jason: I’ve thought about it, but there’s already tons of books.

(03:07:45 PM) Jason: Many times a second (usually a hundred, but it’s configurable) the scheduler is woken up. It takes a survey of the status of various processes to find out who wants processor time

(03:08:31 PM) Jason: Every time it does, it makes a note of how many processes want processor time. The average of this is the load average

(03:08:55 PM) Jason: So, if my load average is 2.0, on average there have been two processes that want processor time

(03:09:07 PM) Jason: If I only have one processor, this means one running and one waiting

(03:09:16 PM) Technician: ic

(03:09:17 PM) Jason: If I have two processors, this means they each get to run

(03:09:39 PM) Jason: If I have four processors, this means two processors have (on average) been idle and two have been utilized

(03:09:54 PM) Technician: so in this case we have at lease three right…… 0.24, 0.32, 0.34

(03:10:06 PM) Technician: oh„,

(03:10:07 PM) Technician: okay

(03:10:08 PM) Jason: those are the averages over 5, 10, and 15 minutes

(03:10:12 PM) Technician: ic

(03:10:17 PM) Technician: coming back now

(03:10:36 PM) Jason: Although it’s a weighted average… older numbers have less weight. That part’s not so important though

(03:10:37 PM) Technician: okay

(03:11:18 PM) Jason: So, what does a load of 184 mean?

(03:12:26 PM) Technician: there are 184 processors and 182 is being idle and two is being utilized

(03:12:52 PM) Jason: do you think that server you were asking about had 184 processors?

(03:13:01 PM) Technician: no

(03:13:11 PM) Technician: that sounds like to much

(03:13:35 PM) Jason: It wouldn’t be for a supercomputer but that’s not what we run for webservers ;)

(03:13:54 PM) Jason: The load average is related to processes not processors

(03:14:15 PM) Jason: It’s only a person interpretting the number that takes processors into account

(03:14:33 PM) Jason: So try again about what a load of 184 means

(03:15:34 PM) Jason: actually, not what it means, what it indicates. What is it a measure of?

(03:16:03 PM) Technician: 184 processes waiting

(03:16:03 PM) Technician: ?

(03:16:57 PM) Jason: Very, very close

(03:17:11 PM) Jason: It means 184 processes have wanted to run

(03:17:32 PM) Jason: Subtract the number of processors you have and that’s usually how many you have waiting

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Ridiculous Laundry Facilities

According to the literature, my apartment complex Summit Rose has convenient laundry facilities. There are laundry facilities, but convenient is quite inaccurate (as an aside, the sauna mentioned on the website is a work of fiction). Two weeks ago I was going to put my clean, wet clothes in the dryer. I put in my money and it won’t start. I try this in another dryer, same thing. Same for a third. After careful examination, I determined that of the ten dryers in the facility, four of them actually worked. Those that didn’t work weren’t labeled so the machines would happily eat your money.

This kind of thing is fairly common in this complex and never seems to get resolved so I decided to take the issue up with Trilar, the property management group. I called that same day (May 6th) and spoke with a young woman. I noted that four out of the ten dryers worked and that this sort of thing was fairly common. She said that someone would be notified the next day and then hung up before I could get her name.

Now, it’s the 20th and I’m doing laundry again. When it’s time to dry the clothes, the question arises, “Did they fix the dryers?”. Quite the contrary. Now there are only two dryers that work out of ten. I called Trilar again and spoke with a gentleman named Larry who was very courteous. Larry assured me that someone would be notified on Monday.

I’m giving them another two weeks to do something about this. If there’s not at least eight out of ten dryers working I’m going to assume that Trilar isn’t going to do anything about it. At that point I’ll call the BBB, city housing, and possibly the North County Times.

Anyone else have to deal with crap like this?

Friday, May 18, 2007

We have this box of cracker snacks at work. Someone (more observant and/or perverted than myself) took a close look at it and discovered a disturbing revelation. When a cracker has some cheese, it really knows how to get down.

I would have expected this kind of crass behavior from Keebler Club crackers, but not from Ritz. Shame on you.

Friday, April 20, 2007

In the Event of Rapture

Today I say a license plate frame today that said, “In the event of Rapture this car will be unmanned.” I’ve seen that before and as a bumper sticker as well. Those of you who have cars that will be unmanned in the event of Rapture, do me a favor: leave the keys in the car and the doors unlocked.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Sally's 12: Time for Lingerie!

Something “a little more comfortable” a little too close for comfort

Myself and some friends are all at JC Penny’s in the mall on Saturday because I need a suit. We got the suit issue taken care of in short order but with my receipt was a ticket for a drawing for some free lingerie. This went to one of the lady friends and we went to the lingerie section to fill it out and drop it off. We get to the lingerie section and I can’t help but notice a weird juxtaposition. Squished next to lingerie is the young girls clothing section.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into this but I can’t help but think that this is intentional. I can see two motivations for this:

  1. The Impulse Buy: Mother and daughter come into the store for little girl’s clothes. Whilst browsing through the little girls clothes, mother sees something she likes in the conveniently close lingerie department.

  2. Conditioning: Mother and daughter come into the store for little girl’s clothes. Whilst browsing through the little girls clothes, daughter sees lots of things that shape her perception as to what a real woman is supposed to look like.

If only #1 is the case, I’m fairly cool with that. The store is in the business of making money and if they can cause a responsible person to purchase something they’re doing well. If #2 is the case, I have issue.

I’m comfortable enough with my masculinity to walk through the lingerie department and actually look around. For those of you that aren’t (or haven’t taken a good look around) I’ll share something with you: conservative and functional drawers are in the back, away from the customer walk ways. What are exposed to those not in the cottony jungle that is the lingerie department are the things that are for when a mommy and daddy really love each other… and not the things that are meant to actually cover something up.

So, it seems to me that the items the store wishes passersby to see are those related to sexual intimacy. Who sees them? A fair amount of the time its people looking for it, people passing through, and preadolescent girls. Is seeing this going to make a slew of young girls prematurely sexual? Probably not most of the time. Will it subconciously tell the girl that she’s supposed to be size negative two and half-naked? That seems a little more realistic.

I must not really think this is a big deal because I didn’t do anything to correct what I thought wasn’t quite right. What does that say?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mail Queue Recipient Distribution

This pipeline will parse the output of sendmail’s mailq command to determine who’s getting the mail in the queue. I regularly work with a shared hosting environment. When a queue on one of our mail servers suddenly shoots up, I need to know why and fast. I use this to see which domain is receiving the mail. If it’s a domain on that server I look to see if a spam probing bot has found an account with a “catchall” alias. This will tell you how many messages each domain has currently in the queue. Using the same pipeline but removing the -v will show you the distribution for senders. This is helpful to know if one domain is launching a large volley of mail which could mean an abusive customer. Also note that the ^l is time-dependent. This is the first letter of your message ID’s and the proper letter can be found by doing a mailq or mailq -OMaxQueueRunSize=1.

mailq | grep -v ^l | awk -F@ '{print $2}' | sort | uniq -c | sort -n


The following script will wait for the exit of a certain process (by pid) and will run a command after the exit of the watched process. It works by polling for the existence of the directory in /proc representing the given pid. After that directory is gone it runs the supplied command. It checks every 10 seconds. It exits returning an error if the pid doesn’t already exist.

## doafter - by Jason Mansfield -

if [ "${2}" = "" ]
echo "Usage: doafter "
exit -1


if [ ! -d /proc/${WATCHPID} ]
echo "No such process: ${1}"
exit -1


while [ -d /proc/${WATCHPID} ]
sleep 10s