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The Life of Brian

Aug. 27th, 2013

11:36 pm - Political values

Seems about right...

Radicalism - 69.25
Socialism - 31.25
Tenderness - 68.75

These scores indicate that you are a tender-minded moderate progressive; this is the political profile one might associate with an animal rights activist. It appears that you are moderate towards religion, and have a balanced attitude towards humanity in general.

Your attitudes towards economics appear capitalist, and combined with your social attitudes this creates the picture of someone who would generally be described as libertarian.

To round out the picture you appear to be, political preference aside, an egalitarian with few strong opinions.

This concludes our analysis; we hope you found your results accurate, useful, and interesting.


Unlike many other political tests found on the Internet which base themselves on untested (and usually ideologically motivated) ideas, this inventory is adapted from Hans Eysenck's own political inventory which was developed after extensive empirical investigations in the 20th Century.

Jun. 6th, 2013

04:33 pm - More misplaced blame?

I don't blame Verizon for having to comply with the recently leaked FISA court order. There's no knowing if they objected to it or not, but in the end they had to comply.  I don't blame Obama, either, as the practice started before he became president.

I blame the so-called "Patriot" Act for allowing such an order to be created, the NSA for asking for it, and both the NSA and FISC for not limiting the scope of the call record request like they should have done (though, they kind of did, by only making phone numbers and timestamps part of the data). It also makes me wonder if either of them have heard of burner phones, which aren't limited to the world of fiction.

Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

Apr. 26th, 2013

07:10 pm - A year on shortwave

Celebrating the first anniversary of my first HF radio contact. It's actually 2 days from now, but who's counting?

I've made 172 HF contacts so far.  That number would likely be a lot more if I had done any contesting in that time, and likely a lot less if I hadn't gone digital late last year.

Other numbers:
- 48 countries worked, 33 confirmed (at least in a way that counts toward awards)
- 41 states worked, 38 confirmed
- Confirmed contacts on all 6 populated continents, but waiting on a few paper QSLs before I can get that award

Current Mood: contentcontent

Mar. 14th, 2013

06:59 pm - Transitions

Switched to Feedly, as Google Reader is going away. It's quite a bit of difference, but I'm liking it so far and slowly getting used to it. Their Android phone UI is... strange, compared to the one in Chrome, but it's usable.

Making the adjustment to Twitter's lobotomized version of TweetDeck will probably not go so well, but I'll have to do that soon as the one I'm using will soon stop working.

Current Mood: hopefulhopeful

Nov. 13th, 2012

01:44 pm - Once again, not gonna do it...

While I'm all about speaking with your wallet, I'm also aware that most businesses in a franchise are in fact locally owned and it would be local people being hurt most by a boycott. That's the main reason I didn't join in on the Chick-Fil-A boycott when its CEO proclaimed his bigotry.

In the case of the PPACA protests among franchise CEOs, depending on how the ownership share works out, the franchise locations owned by a particular franchisee are an individual business. How many locations a person actually owns and how many full-time employees there are among them is the factor that determines whether the PPACA mandate applies (based on my reading, anyway), not the total number of full-timers in all franchise locations nationwide.

Because of that, I likely won't be joining in on the boycott this time, either. If John Schnatter actually convinces franchisees to cut employee hours instead of bumping prices by a few cents per pizza, for example (something they have at least a year to hash out), I'll help compensate for their greed by increasing my tip to the driver.

Aug. 29th, 2012

10:57 am - Getting something off my chest...

If only the USA were a country where blatant voter suppression was illegal and propaganda machines couldn't masquerade as factual news reporting. Of course, then we'd have more voters making more informed decisions, and who wants that? Certainly not the GOP...

Meanwhile, millions of poor and middle-class voters are cheering for and plan to elect a group of people whose goals are the complete opposite of their best interests. A group of people who don't care if their efforts to continue to grow their own bank accounts result in The Great Depression 2.0, who have complete disregard for the US Constitution, and who have no problems at all with committing treason in order to (directly or indirectly) get rid of the current President.

It sickens me.

[Update @ 1:48pm]
Even a fictional news show has no problem telling it like it is...

Current Mood: angryangry

Nov. 27th, 2011

02:32 pm - Writer's Block: Background players

What is your computer wallpaper right now?

At this moment? An HDR photo of a pier, shot from the beach near it.

I actually have about a dozen wallpaper images that the computer cycles through, all HDR photos courtesy of Trey Ratcliff (www.stuckincustoms.com). I found out about him and his work on a photography podcast that I follow, and later started following him on Google+.

Jun. 9th, 2011

11:09 am - 27 Usenet groups. Ah, those were the days...

This won't interest all of you, but I know it'll interest at least some of you. If you'd like to take a look at what went across the internet as it was in 1981, check this out:


There are 2 options for accessing it, either a web-based command-line interface, or a client program that speaks NNTP (Thunderbird is a good one for that, and is what I'll be using). The "command-line" interface on the main site isn't very stable at all, but there are mirrors that are better.

You can't post anything, as it's a one-way tunnel through time, but there's plenty there to read. They'll be doing this for the next 10 years, so it'll be interesting to see it as it develops (er, developed).

Current Mood: geekygeeky

May. 24th, 2011

03:22 pm - Microsoft & Skype - The first casualty?

I've been using Skype for Asterisk (Digium's native Skype client for their PBX software) since it was in beta 2 years ago. Today, I received an email from Digium stating that Skype (read: Microsoft) has decided to end the agreement that made the integration possible, and Digium will stop selling the module on July 26th. Support for us existing users will be there for the next 2 years, with Skype's option to renew at that time, but I'll believe that when I see it.

So much for Microsoft's promise not to screw over the existing Skype user base.

Current Mood: disappointeddisappointed

Jan. 23rd, 2011

01:40 pm - A happy surprise, and a project (nearly) completed

I received the tuner card I was waiting for on Friday, and after installing it I called Comcast to get a CableCard for it. They gave me an appointment for the next day and, while I was hopeful, I wouldn't have been surprised if I were subjected to the same month-and-a-half wait that I had the last time I had this kind of thing done.

Imagine my surprise, then, when they actually showed up. An hour into the 3-hour window, but it could still be considered "on time". He didn't know anything about the tuner card, so he let me install the CableCard and take care of all of the other steps while he called in the numbers that Comcast needed. Once things were synced up, I was able to successfully tune a few channels, but not all that I expected to get (missing were mainly HD and premiums). He left, as we were both thinking that it might just take a bit of time for those to show up. They didn't, but a quick call to Comcast sorted things out and minutes later I had all of the channels that I was paying for.

My TiVo replacement is finally up and running!

Granted, a better choice for a screenshot might have been either X3 or The Two Towers, but I can't do a full-screen Windows Media Center screenshot and those channels won't display in a window... blasted DRM.

After getting that set up, I installed software for channel logos and web-based scheduling, neither of which would work without a TV tuner and guide data being set up first. The latter is currently disappointing in the fact that it doesn't honor WMC defaults for series recordings, but the developer is apparently looking into it.

If the next couple of weeks of testing go well, and at the moment I don't have any reason to believe they won't, I'll be wiping and deactivating the TiVo and returning the 2 CableCards currently in it. At that point, the HTPC upgrade should start paying for itself (aside from the part covered by my year-end bonus), to the tune of around $23/month in savings.

Having 4 tuners instead of 2? Icing on the cake :-)

Current Mood: happyhappy

Dec. 30th, 2010

05:40 pm - Gutting the HTPC

Last night, I started rebuilding my HTPC, almost from the ground up. One reason is to get some actual GPU acceleration involved, but another is to add DVR functionality to it.

The latter is prompted by my last couple of cable bills... I haven't cut the cable for a few reasons, but I can cut a little out of the bill by eliminating an "additional outlet" fee, which I still think is crazy. While my Tivo Series 3 requires 2 CableCards, they're both in the same box, so treating it as another box seems to be the result of greed on Comcast's part. I was debating getting one of the newer Tivo boxes, but after hearing reviews of a certain combination of hardware including a certain tuner card, I'm squarely in the DIY camp. Also, cutting out the Tivo service fee would help even more.

The tuner card in question is the Ceton InfiniTV 4. It takes 1 multi-stream CableCard, and gives the ability to tune up to 4(!) digital cable channels at once. That's one headache I've had occasionally with Tivo... only 2 tuners to go around, and sometimes that just wasn't enough, requiring a shuffling of priority in my series recordings. I'm in a waiting list at the moment for that part, as it's in such high demand right now, but I can continue with other parts of the project until it arrives.

At the machine's core now sits a Zotac IONITX-F-E motherboard. GPU acceleration? Check! It also has the PCI Express slot that the tuner card needs.

For an operating system, I'm using Windows 7. It was a bit of a pain to have to buy a copy of Home Premium for this box, but Windows 7 Media Center is currently the ONLY thing that is supported by the (apparently) ONLY multi-tuner digital cable tuner card available outside of paid system builders. Certainly the best card of its type that I've seen. WMC's Netflix support also gives me one more reason to get rid of the Roku Netflix box.

I'm still using Boxee, currently as an option in WMC's menu. It better handles the way that I keep up with podcasts these days, and I prefer its method of handling TV series episodes (on my media server and via internet streaming) to WMC's.

To control everything, I've written a proxy to translate network commands to keyboard input, something similar to what I did when the machine was running Boxee on Linux. A bit of scripting on my Pronto remote sends those commands to it. It's a work in progress, but I'll likely be releasing it after I'm satisfied with it.

I'd like to get Amazon's video download service working with it, but for some reason WMC can't read their video files. A couple things I've read suggest that a Microsoft update is what broke things, but unfortunately I haven't been able to uninstall it (likely part of a cumulative update, which might break more than it would fix in its removal). At this point, I still have Amazon's software installed, in the hopes that one side or the other will find a fix for it.

[Update @ 01/01/11 1... er, 4:39pm]
Thanks to a little info from Microsoft, the Amazon VOD problem is apparently fixed. Now, to use the $5 credit I have lying around for that.

Current Mood: geekygeeky

Oct. 21st, 2010

11:13 am - The Redmond Hypocrite Society

Microsoft seems to be sending mixed messages about Windows Phone 7.

Out of one corner of the mouth, it's "Get in. Get out. Get on with life."

Out of the other corner, they're talking about video streaming deals with TV networks and other media-related things.

So, Steve... which is it? Set yourselves apart by being a utilitarian phone/PDA platform (which isn't changing a thing from previous versions, really), or become the very thing your ads are mocking?

Oct. 1st, 2010

11:02 am - In celebration of Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week 2010: 10 Graphic Novels And The Shocking Reasons They Frequently Come Under Fire

What I don't get is the "Unsuited to Age Group" reason for removal. What age group would that be? People who think that all comic books and graphic novels are targeted toward children are seriously kidding themselves. I haven't personally read any of those in this list (yet), but I have at least seen the movie version of Watchmen (which is reportedly quite faithful to the novel), and that is no kid's movie. Once that's understood, most (if not all) of the other objections in this list become irrelevant.

In any case, I wholeheartedly agree with the quote in the article.

Jun. 17th, 2010

11:33 pm - Just clearing something up...

The money that BP owes the people of the Gulf Coast is a "bailout"? Really??

Sorry, Rush, but the economic repair work that BP is being forced to do isn't even in the same ballpark as the repair work that the Obama administration had to do. BP is being made to pay for its own colossal blunder. The Obama administration is having to do damage control for its predecessor. If we had to depend on the GOP to fix its own mess, we might not have an economy... instead, we might have been left with the remnants of one.

Current Mood: annoyedannoyed

May. 23rd, 2010

07:56 pm - Interesting

It's interesting to see how tunes can change.

Economic meltdown:
"Government, stay out of it!"

Environmental meltdown:
"Why isn't the government doing anything?"

The truth is, they can't, at least not directly. A federal law was passed after the Exxon Valdez accident in 1989 which gave the owner of the equipment the sole responsibility of oil spill cleanup, penalties and everything. The government can't do anything except provide oversight, which they've done (via the Coast Guard) since the day that the drilling rig blew up in April.

Who was President when that law was passed? Shrub Sr.

While, yes, the blame for spills should be heaped on oil companies in spades, there should have been some sort of clause in there for more possible intervention from the government. Perhaps then, we could get these kind of things cleaned up quickly (as long as, based on historical evidence, one of the Bush clan isn't in office) instead of having to wait while the oil company at fault is putzing around.


Feb. 2nd, 2010

12:15 pm - On Groundhog Day

Did the groundhog actually see his shadow? How do you know? If the only evidence is that he ran back into his "burrow" (read: human-built stump with a door), then you shouldn't rule out alternate explanations.

Alternate 1 - The observer effect

It's a fact. Sometimes, the thing being observed will change its behavior due to the fact that it's being observed. If you woke up and stepped outside to see a crowd of 40,000 people staring at you, you'd run back inside too.

Alternate 2 - It's cooooooooold outside

'Nuff said.

In conclusion...

Critter shadow or not, we in the northern hemisphere still have around 6 weeks until winter officially ends. How cold it will be depends on where you live and which way the air is flowing.

Current Mood: amusedamused

Dec. 31st, 2009

08:53 pm - The decade in review

It seems like the travel bug was doing more biting in the last 10 years, but it wasn't until 2000 that I really had the means for a lot of it. My life is certainly all the richer for it, though. Some sad things happened as well, but overall the last 10 years were good for me.

2000 - Spent a summer week in Finland; Lost 2 grandparents, one on each side of the family

2001 - Made the move from renter to homeowner status; Started writing and selling Palm OS software; My half-sister was born; First trip to see NM family after they moved there, and some friends in southern California

2002 - Another trip to NM and SoCal

2003 - The geocaching and video editing bugs started biting me; Ordered a One Ring replica, received 2 swords (oops!)

2004 - Corporate buyout #1; Another trip to the American Southwest (NM/CA); Ordered my first new car ('05 Escape Hybrid), and paid off what it replaced shortly after

2005 - Received the new vehicle, ended up being on the evening news in the process, and broke it in with a road trip to FL

2006 - Corporate buyout #2; Spent St. Paddy's Day in Boston (only place to do it, really) with a couple of good friends, then moved to Georgia

2007 - Flew to Toronto, and covered most of the southernmost part of Ontario by car; Paid off the car and zeroed out my credit card balances

2008 - Corporate buyout #3, which left me working at home full-time; Spent Memorial Day weekend in NM with the family there; Upgraded to the '08 Escape Hybrid, which I'll be keeping for a while; Made my side business an official company

2009 - Memorial Day weekend in Seattle, visiting a number of old friends; Saw my brother tie the knot

2010 will be the year that I eliminate my consumer debt for a second time, a little more permanently this time around, and hopefully spend Memorial Day weekend in NM again with my family. I'm looking forward to all of that :-)

Current Mood: contentcontent

Dec. 28th, 2009

07:52 am - What's next? Strip searches?

Apparently, the new rules are only for flights coming into the US from another country. Still... 1) That's a hell of a first impression for visitors to the country, and 2) it does a lot to deter US citizens from international travel, if they're going to be treated like criminals on the way back. Hopefully, these will be relaxed sometime soon, as (like half of the other terrorism-related TSA regulations) their effectiveness at anything other than pissing people off will likely be marginal at best.


[Update @ 12/30]

Looks like the overly restrictive restrictions were only temporary. Good.


Current Mood: annoyedannoyed

Sep. 22nd, 2009

08:41 am - What's old is new again

When I dropped traditional phone service (and even Vonage) for a more DIY phone system, there was a sharp decrease in the number of fees added to the bill. I'm still paying monthly for E911, but that's only for one line... the PBX rewrites caller ID for the different lines in the house to one number for 911 calls, which works because they're all at the same physical location.

I always assumed that the others were covered somehow in the normal charges from my VoIP providers, or that they just didn't apply anymore. Well, I wasn't quite correct in that assumption.

My main VoIP provider, Vitelity, is starting to charge for the Universal Service Fund, and is doing it at payment time when people refill their prepaid balances with them. I pay enough to cover 3 months at a time, so that means I still have one more tax-free month. They're doing a credit for those with non-voice services on their account, but I don't know if I'll see any of that, as they give things like dedicated servers as examples. I do have a fax-to-email number on mine, though, so we shall see.

At the very least, it 1) is less than $40/year at the moment and 2) can be partially expensed as 2 of the lines are business related. It'll certainly make calculating those expenses more interesting, though.

Now I'm left wondering if the other provider I use, Gafachi, will be doing something similar at some point.

Aug. 4th, 2009

02:08 pm - ...

This week is not starting out well. In the span of 2 days, I've lost not only a great uncle (at least I think that's how we were related), but also one of my best friends from high school. If there's a bright side, it's that they're both at peace now, after having been in pain for a while.

My heart goes out to Carl's family, as well as my own.

Current Mood: sadsad

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