Car Loan

So I finally saved enough money to put a good down payment on a new car. A new car, because I’m sick to death of buying old cars and then paying through the nose to keep them up. Right now, I know what I want, am approved for a loan, and then they pull some shit at the last second. Now I get to look for another loan, and it’s pissing me the fuck off.

Oh well, I’ll have my car in a few days regardless, but this financial crap is just a drag.

hardware personal

Lappie Upgrade

I just upgraded my Rev. A MacBook Pro’s stock 120GB hard drive to a Western Digital 320GB drive. It was a long time coming, but it was two issues that did it for me in the end. The first was that I was bouncing up against for about two weeks and was getting bored of having to swap things on and off a portable drive. The other was that the drive I wanted dropped to $109. I had been watching that drive for a few months, and that seemed like a good price to almost triple my drive space.

I just wish that Apple had designed the MBP so that they didn’t need surgery just to replace a hard drive. The good part is that it actually wasn’t that hard to do. Just take out the screws around the sides and battery bay, ease the keyboard out, unplug some cables, pop the drive out, and boom, its done.

Right now I’m wondering how long its going to take me to fill the drive, although I’ll probably be in the market for a whole new machine by then. Now, for a new backup system…

HDD Upgrade


Imperial Fleet Week

This video from Current TV is freaking awesome. That is all.


Safety Fail

I don’t know which is worse: the fact that the bar came loose in the first place, or the fact that that girl was hanging onto it for so long, knowing it was loose.

personal photography

Flickr Pro

Apparently I bumped up against Flickr’s ceiling of 200 photos for free accounts. While they said that they wouldn’t delete my old photos, they would be “unavailable” until or unless I went pro. I would cry extortion, but it is kind of a free service, and I was kinda-sorta meaning to go pro anyway, since it’s only $25/year for unlimited bandwidth and organizational control.

Typically, as soon as I did, I spent an hour uploading and making sets. Money well spent? I think so!

personal photography stoopid

SF MOMA and the War on Photography

Everyone’s been talking about Thomas Hawk’s misadventures at the SF MOMA, detailed here and here, and I just wanted to chime in.

My comment on TH’s Flickr post pretty much sums up my feelings.

I don’t always agree with Hawk’s actions or choice of friends (see: Scoble), but there’s no denying that he is one of the staunchest and most public defender or photographers’ rights on the net, and I think that that cause is always worth defending. I think its sad that predatory photography like celebrity-hounding paparazzi are allowed to harass people without consequence, while the rest of us who merely want to document the world around us, create art or enjoy their families risk arrest, harassment by authority figures, being labelled perverts, etc. Its got to stop.

Additionally, for someone of Blint’s position to act in such an unprofessional and hostile manner towards anyone, let alone a paying member of his museum is totally unacceptable. He represents the SF MOMA and his actions reflect the same. If I yelled at someone in the lobby of my institution the way Blint yelled at Hawk, I have no doubt I’d be shown the door that day, as would most people at virtually any place of work. If the MOMA doesn’t dismiss Blint, I know that I’ll never spend a single dime there, as they are an institution that simply doesn’t value their patrons.

personal stoopid


Holy crap! It’s been a long time between posts, too long, in fact. I’m really trying to keep this thing active, unlike my previous attempts. I DO have four posts languishing in the unpublished drafts limbo, but that for some reason or another, I just haven’t gotten around to finishing. Too much stuff, too much thinking, not enough follow-through. Whatever, shit WILL get done around here, even if I have to put myself on notice.

Wait, that’s not right…


LUG Spat

Originally, this was going to be a bitchfest about how I got kicked off the SF-LUG mailing list. The day after that incident, it became clear that I hadn’t been kicked off the list, although I haven’t bothered to find out if I’m still allowed to post. The whole thing was brought about over one of those “Linux devs should do X if they want more marketshare” conversations.

I wasn’t going to out the list maintainer at first, but I don’t think he really needs nor deserves the anonymity. (I also don’t get the sort of traffic that makes any kind of difference, but that’s a different story.) In short, the original topic had to do with high-level UI in and between various Linux distros. These consistency issues mostly stem from differences in philosophy between different projects like Gnome, KDE, Xfce, various upgrade managers like apt or package formats like .deb or .rpm.

Since it was just a friendly discussion lacking any trolls, the list owner, Rick Moen, apparently decided to step in and play the part of the troll himself. It started off fairly badly:

Quoting Paul Ward:

I think the problem is there’s no consistency for people used to the Windows or OS X experience.

You see a problem; I see something merely being itself. Ain’t
perspectives grand?

The big reason why I bought a Mac in 2002 was because OS X 10.2 on a powerbook was just that much of a better experience than I was having with either Linux or Windows on a series of PC laptops, plus it had the unix-y stuff that I had come to love!

Oddly enough, the big reason why I prefer to run Xubuntu rather than OS
X on my Macs is that OS X’s implementation of Unix sucks at nearly every
level. (I’ve used nearly every MacOS version going back to 1984, by the

What I’m trying to say is that for people who want to try linux, but are in between the levels of propellerhead and techtard, a lot of that low-level consistency has to make its way to the high level GUIs.

Funny thing: Just about every time someone says Linux “has to” do
something or other, he or she turns out to be factually mistaken. What
you appear to mean is: You would personally prefer that a vast
community of people whose paycheques you do not sign _change_ what they’re
doing at a very fundamental level, to do things in the way that you
imagine is best, probably (I would speculate) while having an at best
uncertain understanding of the details of what they do.

I hope that works for you, but I’ve honestly never seen it work for
anyone else, in the entire history of software.

And just degenerated from that point. I ended up getting this:

Anyhow, sorry, but I’m a bit busy today to even spend time reading OS-advocacy essays, which among other problems have nothing whatever to do with what I posted about before Bruce Coston suddenly gave the topic a huge yank in some random direction and then you appear to have done likewise. (No offence intended, but I have absolutely no reason to care what operating systems you or pretty nearly anyone else like and why.)

And then get get to this point:

The point is that it would be very nice if there was (a lot) more unity in the way that distros, particularly ones that purport to be mainstream products, like Ubuntu.

Actually, I think that’s quite obviously false — your “unity” is my my
“dumb inflexibility solely to cater to people unwilling to learn
anything new” — but good luck with that. (I remember the sheer
irritation value of dealing with visiting Apple “Human Interface Guidelines”
inspectors, when I worked at a cross-platform development house, back in
the day.

Which finally ends after I call his last comment an ass-tastic response to which Rick responds:

OK, we’re done. You’ll need to talk to procmail, going forward

I fully admit to being baited and not rising above it, but give me a fucking break. If Rick didn’t have time to get involved, why the fuck did he feel the need to not only get involved, but take over the entire conversation, act like a 13 year old troll, and then unilaterally shut down the conversation? What’s clear to me is that not only is Rick a fully ordained member of the Holy Fraternity of IT Douchebags, but he feels as if his tools should not be sullied by the unworthy members of the public.

I mean, is it really that big of a deal to ask the major distros that are trying to get mainstream marketshare right now to cooperate with each other, at least a little bit? I’m not suggesting that they all decide on single standards (OMFG, the horror), but to at least support each other’s standards, so you don’t need to worry if you can run an rpm on your system or not. There are those who, like Rick, have absolutely nothing to do but play with their machines, and then there’s everyone else, for whom their computer(s) are tools for getting other work done.

Computers are tools, nothing more. Yes, I’m aware of what a general-purpose device is, but that doesn’t change the fact that you shouldn’t need to know how to write a config file in /etc to use a computer. Should you know how to do that and why you should? Hell yeah! But that goes in the list of things you should know as a member of US society, like changing a tire, how an engine works, fixing a bike, growing vegetables, etc. These are all things you should know, but don’t really need to know. Rick’s attitude that people who are too stupid to use computers like he does simply shouldn’t is itself one of the most stupid comments I’ve read. And I’ve recently read a couple of Rob Enderle columns.

Rick’s shitty attitude towards differing opinions on virtually any subject makes the list a pain sometimes, and is the reason why I stopped participating. Its just not worth dealing with such an immature and hostile person, especially when the subject is just not that important.

iPhone personal

First iPhone Post

I just set up the native WordPress app for iPhone and wanted to take it for a spin. This might be very useful for me, as I don’t have to wait for time to sit down with my laptop and remember what I wanted to write about. I’m still waiting with baited breath for mobile MarsEdit, but this will do very nicely for now.

MS Office science stoopid

Office 2k8 is teh Suck

Originally, I was planning on writing this screed lambasting teh suck that is Office 2008. Its not that I’ve changed my mind since the idea came to me, its just that I’ve had a week to calm down. In my line of work, which is of the scientific persuasion, we deal with lots of data. In an average experiment, we’ll have around 90-100 test subjects that give us double that number in useful data points, plus metadata. Yes, metadata in meatspace. And of course, we use Excel to handle all that.

Our main template has 15 tabs to separate out all the stuff that we need to keep track of. Scientific excel sheets are a big reason why I can justify running multiple monitors. Anyway, we usually have fewer than nine categories, like so:


This usually works pretty well, even when its filled:


The graphs that these generate are usually fairly readable, but its was a real PITA for experiment #664, which had 11 categories instead of the usual nine. Adding those categories required a lot of manual editing of complex formulas that really should be called incantations. That took me a little over an hour and way too much coffee. Then when I tried to get my charts to look like this:


I was introduced to the steaming turd that is Excel 08. In order to get those last two bars to look like the others required eight edits, plus one to change the scale. That’s nine edits, per graph, of which there are four.

Not a problem, you say? Well, that’s because you’ve clearly never had to make any change in an Excel 08 graph. The problem is that Excel crashed every single time I made an edit. For the math impaired, that’s 36 crashes. Once Excel crashed, I could make my edit, but when I got to the next one, FATALITY! The real bitch of it is, I had to make the edit, then when I hit the OK button, it would crash. So I actually ended up making 72 edits, only half of which kept.

I don’t particularly enjoy wasting my time, especially on something as stupid as that. Office 04 didn’t do that, but when I downgraded from 08, it picked up the habit somewhere. I guess if I reinstall OS X, I could use Office 04 and it would work properly, but fuck that! Office 2008 is so poorly written that it can barely handle basic functionality. Office 2007 works well. So well in fact that I’ll actually boot Windows to use it. But it still doesn’t play nice with the Mac versions, and since my lab is all Mac, that’s that.

All I want is an office suite that works and works well. iWork is nice, but doesn’t (yet) do all of the stuff that I need it to. Microsoft really needs to get their shit together before someone one-ups them. Office is a bitch to use, but is still the only suite with all of the features I need. As soon as I can get my hands on a suite that meets my needs, I’ll drop Office so fast, it’ll make Ballmer’s hair grow back.

BTW, I used the full sized images to show the real scale of what I had to deal with.