Patrick's Rants



12/31/2006

Belief in Santa

Filed under: General — site admin @ 2:38 pm

Just before Christmas day, my stepson proclaimed a disbelief in Santa. I was curious, “do you believe in Jesus?”
“Yeah.”
“Really? Have you ever seen him?”
“No.”
“Have you seen Santa?”
“Yeah, but they’re all fake.”
“So you’ve never seen Jesus, yet you believe in him and you’ve seen Santa all over the place, yet you don’t believe in him?”
“Yeah.”
Faith is a strange thing.

Jack Balls

Filed under: It's funny — site admin @ 2:30 pm

As part of my trip from Florida to Arizona, mom decided that there would be hundreds of little Saturns and Budget Rental Trucks and that we should do something to differentiate the ones we were driving from all of the others on the road. I decided on the holiday antenna balls sold by Jack in the Box. So there we were, getting ready to head out of town, to drop my car off at my brother’s house and to get dinner. Not necessarily in that order.

My wife was sitting in the drive through at Jack in the Box. I parked my car and ran up to the fam-mobile so I could place my part of the order and pointed to the picture of the antenna balls and told her to order two. So she hesitantly ordered, “two Jack Balls”, all the while telling me how stupid it sounded.

Of course the Jack Ball story was enjoyed by my mom as well as my younger brother who couldn’t help himself, running around yelling, “Jack Balls! Jack Balls!” And he’s supposed to be 30.

As it turns out, I only saw one Saturn on the road, my mom’s. And we only saw a few Budget Rental trucks. We dragged Jack’s Balls from Miami to Sedona for no real reason, but if you get a Budget truck in Cottonwood and there is an antenna ball on it, know that he is well travelled.

12/29/2006

Poetic License

Filed under: General — site admin @ 6:10 pm

He walks along in the fading light of early evening. The snow is frozen in the shape of the tires that most recently rolled through here. The ice crunches underfoot echoing in his head like a freshly bitten apple. If you look closely into his eyes you might see a mild sadness buried underneath the concentration required by the slippery ground. He is in no hurry to return home with his small plastic bag full of tomatos, waxed to a bright red. The barely present wind manages to sneak into his thick jacket chilling him from outside as much as the hidden chill inside. It could be said that he hates this time of year with its cold, short days; if only he could care enough actually call it hate. Most days it is merely a mild indifference.

Book Reviews And Blatant Advertising

Filed under: General — site admin @ 5:57 pm

You may have noticed that I have added links in my recent book reviews to Amazon.com. I figured as long as I am “promoting” a book I should do it in such a way as to gain a little benefit from it – that is if my readers choose to purchase a given book, it might as well be credited to me :). Of course, I also wouldn’t mind you visiting netflix.com either.

1984

Filed under: Books,Reviews — site admin @ 12:01 pm

Although George Orwell’s “1984” has been out for some time I had not read it until recently. In junior high(1985), one of my elective classes worked on the radio play that was to be played on the PA system to the entire school. I don’t remember if it ever happened or not.
After having read “Animal Farm” a few years ago it seemed appropriate to go back and read “1984” for the first time. The basics of the novel were already in my psyche: telescreens that never turn off, shortage of essentials such as razor blades, helicopters that hover to get a closer look at what someone might be doing. The more sinister plot of the novel is not appreciated without a full reading, however. The government is in complete control, watching its citizens at all times, inspiring fear of foreigners, rewriting history to suit its needs, and running a war that will never end. It is at the same time a simple, yet tragic, love story.

Our protaganist, Winston Smith, finds himself questioning the very government that he works for. In his mental rebellion – illegal in itself as thought crime is punishable by death – he finds a beautiful co-conspirator, Julia, with whom he begins an illegal affair (for even non-procreational has been outlawed). One almost forgets that the threat of Big Brother looms over every moment as Winston and Julia pursue their illicit love, finding time to secretly spend time together despite the constant surveillance that permeates modern life.

1984 is a warning against Big Brother – a euphemism for Big Government. Revisionist history, listening in on every conversation of its citizens, creating fear of foreigners, keeping its citizens on edge constantly fearful of attacks to keep and maintain control is what 1984 warns us about. We were to heed these warnings in 1949 when Orwell first penned them. Instead it appears that 1984 has been used as a blueprint for modern times. I will leave it as an exercise for my readers to draw the obvious parallels to 2006.

Web Worker Wanted

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff,General — site admin @ 10:04 am

I don’t post many help wanteds on this site, but the following one was very refreshing to read in its honesty as far as requirements and has a practical screening process outlined at the end. I don’t know the company and don’t vouch for them, just thought that it was an interesting job posting. If you live in East Phoenix and have a reasonable understanding of web development send these guys an email:

Web-Op, a search engine optimization and web design firm located at Falcon Field in Mesa, is seeking a junior developer.

Expected duties:

-Light (Linux) system administration
-Template-based development (we give you a PSD file, come back with nice modular PHP/HTML/CSS that resembles it as much as possible)
-Possible ‘theming’ of existing site (leave the content or backend in
place but restyle it)
-Possibly some hacking of existing (off-the-shelf FOSS usually)
components.
-Fill-in if other developers are indisposed.

Desired skill set:

Minimal understanding of at least one PHP/ASP/JSP
Good hand-written HTML/CSS
Good coding style
Reliable and communicative.
Fast worker
Knows why typing “rm -rf /*” at the root prompt is a bad thing

This is NOT the position for someone who has 40 years of experience and dreams in PDP-11 assembler. It will be boring for you. Honestly, it’s just we need another set of reliable, moderately-skilled hands. Talent and a willingness to learn/adapt are more important for this position than a list of skills. Recent graduates are strongly encouraged to apply.

Expected pay: Likely about 30,000 / year (or hourly equivalent)
depending on skill and talent demonstrated.

Hiring Process: Send a resume and some samples of work if available.

We can arrange an interview if you look promising. A successful
candidate will be given a few tasks on a ‘work from home/hourly pay’ basis to ensure you can deliver quality work in our time constraints before full hire-on.

Please send resumes to jack@web-op.com

12/27/2006

Filed under: Seen on a,T-Shirt — site admin @ 4:20 pm

Good Girls Go to Heaven
Bad Girls go to
Amsterdam

She was flying to Ft Lauderdale… dunno what that says

The True Cost Of Vista DRM

Filed under: Copyright,Geek News and Stuff,General,Politics — site admin @ 4:12 pm

In this rather long article, A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection, Peter Gutmann writes about the hazards of Windows Vista, the hidden costs of Digital Rights Management (or as Slashdotters refer to it Digital Restrictions Management since it’s designed to restrict our rights to view digital materials) and what it will do to our hardware. This is what happens when we let a company – Microsoft – get too big. Monopoly laws are supposed to protect us and haven’t.

This is why I try not to keep feeding the beast.

Yes, I’m Back – The Trip

Filed under: General — site admin @ 4:00 pm

Now moving might not be the most interesting thing to write about, but maybe there are a few things that can be added to your own check list when you decide to make that next big move yourself. My mom paid for me to fly back to Florida to help her load her stuff on a truck and drive it back here to (Sedona) Arizona. Mom assured me repeatedly that the packing was “almost done” and that we would only have to load the truck and drive.

And then I got there. (more…)

A Christmas Review

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff,General — site admin @ 9:28 am

It wasn’t a huge Christmas for us, things seem to be getting smaller as far as gifts go, and larger when it comes to family just hanging out. And that’s just fine with me.

The oldest girls got mp3 players made by SanDisk. These play music, video clips, FM radio, show photos in slide show fashion, record and playback voice using the integrated microphone, are expandable with a “microSD card slot” and even come preloaded with songs, photos and a video clip. This seemed like a great gift: mp3 is a highly available format and the video clips are mov format, also widely available. We were (er Santa was) really trying to steer away from locking technology like that provided by Apple – not to mention that these were a third of the price of an iPod.

And then, there on the box was the crippling phrase, “XP SP1”. Having not wanted to send any more money to “Uncle Bill” any faster than I have had to I have stuck to Win98 where possible. I mean, it works, it does what I want, why should I have to pay for “improvements” that don’t do anything for me? Well, the software that came with the players didn’t install on the laptop running Win98. It popped up a message that read, “You are using either Windows 95 or Windows 98. This software requires XP or higher.” and then it closed. And the SanDisk website? Yeah, no drivers available. I’m guessing that this uses the built in drivers in XP, so I couldn’t even use it like a flash drive.

I’ve had “helpful” suggestions from my wife that we could just go buy a computer to make these things work. Um, no. There’s a reason we got the $100.00 devices and not the $300.00 devices, right? I’ve also been offered XP – which would be doggy on these computers and would not be properly licensed. Yeah, um no. Despite the fact that I hate the direction that Uncle Bill has pushed the computing industry I can’t justify an unlicensed copy of Windows running on my computer – and phoning home to tell on me. 😉 Actually, I’ve read that it’s more likely that a valid install will be marked invalid and not get updated than for an invalid install to be marked invalid – but I digress.

Interestingly enough, the e250 does show up when I plug it into my Linux laptop – after downloading the additional drivers that I needed to see when a USB device was plugged in. My old laptop has too small of a hard drive to take care of putting music on these things, but there is another laptop that has been “sacrificed” to the Penguin and is updating as I write this. I have so far been able to play the songs that are on the e250 on the laptop, accessing them just like it was a drive. The next hurdle is to get songs onto the e250, and then to get it working so that the girls can do their own music.

I would have a completely up to date install of Fedora on the laptop except that the CD drive wasn’t reading the burned CDs all that well and I have had to resort to installing the entire operating system from the internet and then updating the really old version that had a net install available over the internet as well.

Updates to follow…

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