Older blog entries for decklin (starting at number 59)

My life just flashed before my eyes. I was about to go get something in the next room, and I knocked my laptop off the balcony. Luckily, it didn't fall 12 feet down the other side but only about 3 and onto my foot. the LCD assembly sort of popped apart, but I put it back together. The dongle for the network card is, however, kaput. I have a nasty feeling that when I get back on campus they are going to try to force me to buy a whole new card to get a dongle. Hello, eBay...

azz sent me Xft patches for aewm. The anti-aliased text doesn't look nearly as nice as I thought it would, though, because I can only get X to display it in one font, which appears to be Courier New on crack. The bizarre thing is XftFontOpen always returns sucessfully, giving me this particular face, no matter what sort of garbage name I give it. Maybe the calling conventions are messed up. It uses very weird semantics, like

  XftFontOpen(dpy, DefaultScreen(dpy),
    XFT_FAMILY, XftTypeString, foo,
    XFT_SIZE, XftTypeInteger, bar,

This is almost the same as XtVa*, but why in the world do we need to specify the type and the option name separately? Am I going to have a font family that's an integer? Who knows. Call me crazy, but I kinda like those hairy old X fontspecs.

Oh, and the aaronls of the world will probably have a field day with this (ahem):

          Stripped Bin /   RSS / Share
No Xft:          17k /  804k /  696k
With Xft:        69k / 1460k / 1108k

I have to admit the bin size is curious. It is, of course, dynamically linked, but I had to double-check just to be sure.

As I want to eventually release this thing at some point, I'm thoroughly self-LARTing myself for leaving my in- progress .deb work on my main computer (not on the network, as my dorm's power has been cut over break. Just when you thought these people couldn't be cheap enough... anyway...) I will have to remember what it was and reconstruct it if I want to be timely.

Since Iain did it (whoo, thanks for the excuse!), I might as well recap what I bought after meeting James for our keysigning yesterday.

  • Rinocerose: Installation Sonore (this is incredibly good; it even cheers me up, which is no small feat)
  • David Holmes: Bow Down To the Exit Sign
  • Spring Heel Jack: Disappeared
  • Medeski, Martin & Wood: The Dropper
  • Speedy J: A Shocking Hobby
  • PJ Harvey: Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea
  • Underworld: Everything, Everything (disappointing)
  • Reprazent: In The Mode (let's hear it for leaking MP3s before you finalize the track list...)
  • Philip Glass: Symphony No. 3
  • A Guy Called Gerald: Essence

And then I adopted the netcat Debian package. I'm pretty sure I've taken care of all the issues behind the 'normal' bugs with my upload, I'm just waiting on some responses from submitters. I'll get to the wishlist stuff pretty soon; it seems like a fun project. What I didn't realize when I started is that the last upstream release was in 1996, and I have my doubts that the author is going to reply to me. At any rate, the FTP site I supposedly downloaded the source from is down at the moment. I don't think I'd mind taking it over upstream if needed though. It's a cute little piece of software.

Finished housesitting this morning. I don't know why I find it surprising that I was asked, "could you upgrade AOL [motioning to CD, they even bundle them with the McNewspaper around here now...] while I'm gone? I don't know how to do it." Oh well.

20 Dec 2000 (updated 20 Dec 2000 at 06:43 UTC) »

Something old,
Something new,
Something borrowed,
Something blue...

Got back home last night; we're finally getting some snow as I speak. It's lovely. I suppose I just like snow in general. It gave me a name for my new mixtape, anyway.

Apparently I may be needed for a keysigning while I'm here, which will be nice. I currently have no sigs on my key, and identified for Debian through other means. Given recent rumblings about PKI and "unstable" people, (raise your hand if you have received inpatient treatment for depression... keep it up if it was not your idea.. ok) I'm not too happy that I went that route.

Since my last update most of my hacking has been small gaim tweaks. The code base is a bit tangled, but the progression from only-TOC to TOC-and-maybe-experimental-Oscar and then fully plugin-ified modular protocols seems to be shaking things out nicely. There's definitely a lesson here: I'm going to write up a design before starting any brand-new big projects.

Finals were, for the first time, not very stressful. Well, other academic things were stressful, but nothing collapsed. Bent maybe, but still intact.

Taught a friend a few things about CSS. I'll save the world from bad HTML yet... for some reason yesterday I was thinking about freshman English, and it occurs to me now that way back then I was posting like mad to ciwah and waiting for CSS to save the world. I think I've posted maybe one or two things to all the groups I read since taking a break from Usenet in September (real September, not, well, you know). In real life I think I've finally become somewhat more comfortable with my essentially quiet nature, instead of agonizing over it as a fault. I wonder if I was simply trying to make up for it back then, or if everyone just takes a while to find their own October.

I just found Avalon and read all the archives last night (I'm never going to kick the up-till-3AM habit). Definitely something which passes my "things which are so good, I feel compelled to pass them on to everyone on Advogato" criterion.

Must hit up Jackie for more literature reccomendations. She's just eerily spot-on. It always makes me grin when people ask what class I'm reading $THAT_BOOK for. Of course, the better stuff on these shelves tends to be pre- highlighted and margin-scribbled, that may have something to do with it...

There's a "quadruple-platinum selling" band on the TV in the next room which I have never ever heard of. This is also strangely satisfying.

I had forgotten that I put a "Kill Your TV" sticker my little brother made me on the printer here. There's a host on the internet called kill.your.tv, somewhere. Don't know who runs it, but I'm jealous.


It's been tough lately. Don't feel like writing much more about it. Instead of depressing everyone, I'd rather cheer you up: listen to this set on Groovetech.

Joe Marin - 45RPM Jam

Yes, I know it's icky RealAudio, but it's worth it.


Well, it was decent. But I definitely want to read the book now, as I feel that I'm missing something.

I have a new favorite kernel option: CONFIG_HAPPYMEAL. Now we just need CONFIG_MAKE_COFFEE and I'll be all set.

Aren't we all...

I've realized that I'm much younger than I thought. Not because of committing another stupid blunder, but because I've failed to fully grok something that I "knew" in an intellectual sense. And this is it: people will believe that any sort of metaphysical-sounding bullshit is intelligent.

Maybe a week or so ago, someone (I've forgotten the name, my apologies) posted a link to Peter Suber's Nomic page (as a snippy but well-deserved jab at the Debian voting process), which I read with great interest (unlike most of what happens on -vote, but back to the point). I wrote a paper for my economics course based on comparing a memetic view of economic modeling and Nomic. And it was complete bullocks. I made vague generalizations, swept theory under the rug, and filled up pages with "look at me, I'm smart" circumlocutions. The whole thing vaguely made me want to vomit, but I am cursed with a inability to fill blank space on a deadline and I tend to take what I can get. So I go to class today, and not only was the paper handed back to me with a perfect grade, but the majority of the lecture was based on stuff I said. It's depressing.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, a friend of mine wrote some very interesting literary stuff in her online diary (elsewhere). I hadn't had a real discussion with her in a while, and she's one of the few people left these days who seems to actually care about this stuff, so I just went off on how I saw A Clockwork Orange and associated things through Barth and Snow Crash and my own (lack of) religion and whatnot. I tried to be honest, because I rarely have the chance to, even (especially) to myself, but it still felt far too dense and wrapped up in metaphysical indirection (or perhaps $20 vocabulary). And in responding she flattered me just enough to really get my goat. She says I treat here like she's more intelligent than she is, but I feel like it's closer to treating her like she's dumb enough not to see through me.

The third thing that got me thinking about this topic was an article forwarded to alt.music.jungle by Lee Stoiser. I know, unfortunately, that there are very few if any people here who feel the same kind of connection to this culture that I do, so I can't imagine anyone will experience the same sort of disgust watching someone ripping into it for the sake of their own mental masturbation. But I read it and I said to myself, "This is what you are doing, however much it's exaggerated. And you should be ashamed." I know that it's the content pissing me off as much as the form, but still.

Maybe I'm developing an ____-complex? (oh, fill in the blank yourself, you know who I mean.)

Been listening to: Outkast, Pet Shop Boys, Seba. Some things are still good...


It was a day for clipping and saving. argent wrote:

The problem is: the Internet is overflowing like a septic tank full of rotting condoms, and every day more and more people standing there with their finger in the dike are realising that the thing on the other side isn't the sea.

The horrid thing is, it's true. Not necessarily of any specific place, even -- of everywhere. But I still feel guilty. At any rate, his presence will be missed.

Then I read the school's newspaper today and found out that someone I "knew", but didn't actually know, died. And I remembered when I was still in high school and he showed me around the place, and how impressed I was with the spirit and individuality that he was able to maintain. I said to myself, "there must be something good about this place if he can thrive like that, if it hasn't burned him out the way my milquetoast suburban town has done to me." I decided to come here, but I never found an excuse to talk to him, never went out to the place he lived off campus, or anything. I didn't see him around very often, but every time I felt that I should have thanked him. And I feel guilty.

It's funny how what you do, and what you don't do, are often flip sides of the same cowardice.

"Once you hear music, it's gone, in the air. You can never listen to it again."

I had this funny thought today. I said to myself, "you know, I bet that looking back, today will be seen as some sort of tuning point. Maybe people won't think of today's date, but they'll notice something." Then a little while later, I remembered that today was the .us election. "Hmm, I suppose that adds to it a bit, doesn't it?" I must be going a little loopy.

(I voted in absentia a couple weeks ago. Anyway...) Today I went on a quest to remove TO_ from my .procmailrc. The proliferation of different mailing list headers out there has restored my faith in rugged individualism somewhat. :-) I also decided that I have accumulated too many web comics, and went through that perennial rite of geek passage, Writing A Program To Download All Your Comics Before You Get Up. I'm suprised it took me so long to get to this point...

Did some boring software updates. Not too sure why I feel "bored", but I've resolved to pull Teach Yourself Scheme in Fixnum Days out of the dusty part of my bookmarks and actually read it. That and someone posted it Crackmonkey today, giving me a reminder that it actually existed. Should be good for some new ideas.

and finally, in the Scary Things department: I actually turned down an offer to see a movie at 2AM yesterday because I had to get up for class. I feel ooooold. The class was canceled.

27 Oct 2000 (updated 27 Oct 2000 at 22:34 UTC) »

Is it really Friday already? Can't be. Went home last weekend and finished some aterm work -- I actually thought about switching over for a minute but then I came to my senses. At least the people who have sent in bug reports against my code (ptooey!) will be happy.

Went down to the library yesterday and ended up getting engrossed in this silly little code-sharing problem for about 4 hours straight. I've got mostly everything worked out now except for an unrelated nasty race condition.

Got some email about Thinice... if anyone here is artistically inclined, throw some throbber ideas my way. My current one is the product of about 30 seconds with Script-Fu. It's very much a "look, we all know what a throbber is supposed to do, here's a suitable abstraction. Fill in the ephemera yourself." type thing. I tend to have this attitude in regards to most sorts of eye-candy for some reason. Hmm, postmodernism is out of fashion, isn't it...

In search of more Barth. I was even more impressed by the rest of the stories than I was last time. In other media, I downloaded Dylan's remix of "Go", and I had to pinch myself. Shirley you're not serious?

Finally finished my mixtape! (email me if interested). I need more free time or something. Time to smack the people who are supposed to be getting our station on the net.

Somebody needs to remind me to decide where I am going to apply to for next year before I start acting reckless and fatalistic regarding personal relationships and how much I really want people to know about myself. Or something.

Random Meta Note time: I see there's another big inter-diary thread going on today. I'd like to encourage people to make articles on the front page to hold this sort of discussion. While one can't go and move things after the fact, it's always a good option to keep in mind.

16 Oct 2000 (updated 16 Oct 2000 at 16:05 UTC) »
Re-Approaching Normalcy

Wget is evil. I mean eeeeevil. I woke up this morning and found out I had downloaded 3 gigabytes of data. Twitching nervously and looking over my shoulder.

Recent Gaim changes are quite nice. A few rough edges, but i've been getting very quick turnaround on sending in patches.

I'm still wondering what big site linked to x.themes.org. I noticed this week that my downloads shut up from maybe 1 or 2 hundred to 1000 in a single day. Scary. Copied over some rules to use my -moz-field color to Classic, since I was lucky enough to catch a bug filed on it. No response yet. I'll be glad when this shipping nonsense is over and done with. I feel slightly guilty for only caring about Mozilla and not the people funding it, but not much.

Death of Community Predicted, Film at Eleven

Today I noticed that if you go and try to certify someone as "Observer" it doesn't actually decrease their certification. "Well, shit," I elaborated.

I apologize for not having the time to make this shorter; it's stolen from an email (hi craigbro). I always plan to do far too much... Skip to the end, if you don't like hearing people whine about their personal lives.

How To Dissapear Completely

Well, I have my computer back. Here's the whole story...

Apparently last week some senior was working on a project and needed a DHCP server. So he started it up, but didn't configure it properly. Suddenly, the whole network grinds to a halt as people plugging their Win98 laptops in get DHCPOFFERS back from him with already-assigned IPs and non-existing DNS servers.

Here's where the bogons suddenly align themselves and impact into some administrator's skull. "Oh no, what do we do? Quick, scan the network for anything odd and cut it off!" Well, I had rather stupidly decided to expiriment with Samba that week, because the "domain controller"[1] wouldn't recognize me and set up an entry in DNS like it would for everyone else's Win98 setup. (I was trying to get this because (a) it was a pain changing my IP with NickServ and eggdrops all the time on various IRC networks, and (b) master(.debian.org) wouldn't let me log in unless I connected indirectly through some less-strictly-configured machine.)

So there the clueless-administrator-monkeys are, sweeping through our whole subnet. They hit on my machine and notice that the "windows version" is being reported as 4.2. "Oh my God! That's not possible!" (from what I was told, apparently no one knows about Samba.) Obviously whoever set this thing up is Evil and Must Be Stopped. Fortunately for them, I made a rather stupid mistake setting samba up, and put "Decklin" in the comment field. Phone calls ensue. "Do you have a student, named, uh, *squint* Decklin?" "Yes..." A few hours later I find security guards at my door.

Now, you would think that *someone* involved might have had the intelligence to contact me, ask me if I knew anything, ask me to disconnect until they figured it out, something. Fat chance. As far as they were concerned, it was perfectly acceptable to barge in and forcibly seize my equipment. I was at least handed a "warrant", which turned out to be completely full of false information. I am still trying to track down the legality of that with some other college people.

In Limbo

Naturally, the first thing I ask is when I can even find out what the hell I'm being subjected to this confiscation of property for. I'm told that I will have to wait until Monday to even make an appointment, and that the dean is out until Tuesday. Keep in mind this is Friday evening. So I run up to Res Life and find the assistant dean, who is still there but packing up to go home. "Ah *yessss*, the computer. You'll have to call me on Monday. Here's my card."

Two days pass... I get homework done far into the future and make my way through an entire Sunday Times for the first time in the semester.


So I make my appointment, finally see Assistant-Dean-guy, and get sent back to Network-Wonk-guy ("this is technical stuff, I don't understand it."). It takes quite a bit of waiting to actually *find* him. Now things get interesting. I should point out that this guy is not simply an underpaid MCSE but a senior CS professor. I hear the whole story about what happened just before I was raided. He goes on to ask me why I'm running Linux, as that's a "server" operating system, and running "servers" is specifically[2] prohibited.

I give him the 60-second version of why I will not allow any closed-source software to touch my desktop, ever. I list every open port on my box from memory and explain what they do (and don't do, without my password). This is pretty much like talking to a wall. Yeah, that's all well and nice, but it's a *server*! It could do *bad things*! I at least get him to admit it was wrong to take my property without even figuring out if I was behind the disruption or not. It's not like it takes a genius to read an IP off of DHCP packets.

Perhaps the worst part was telling him that the computer science department should be *encouraging* students to run a free operating system. He said, roughly, "well, that's probably true, but it should be disconnected from the network or behind a firewall or something." I let him know that I was very offended. Open source is not some toy or something I occasionally dabble in; it's what runs my network-life 24/7.

At this point I am offered a "deal". If I, or anyone else, wants to run Linux or *BSD or whatever, we will have to sign up, get a static IP, list exactly what daemons will be running, and leave our phone number and physical location. Of course, I thought this was completely absurd. So I said, "Fine. Just give me my property back" -- I wasn't really in a position to argue with them keeping my hardware. "Oh no, I think we'll keep your computer locked up until we have this policy written." Here I just blew up and told him in no uncertain terms that there was no fscking way that they could keep my property when I wasn't responsible for the offense on my "warrant". He gave in pretty easily. I still can't connect to the network, though.

So on monday evening I finally have my computer back. I floppy whatever's important back and forth. The ridiculous part is that my school-issue laptop has been online all weekend. No one could possible tell the difference from outside, except perhaps that port 7101 is open (and useless) on the laptop since I haven't installed XF4 yet. However, I'm not about to assume the Gestapo won't barge in at random.

Now that they couldn't twist my arm with the locked-up computer, I wrote a very strongly-worded email to Network-guy (CCing my professor, who seems to be the only one on my side, but doesn't have final word in the department). The gist of it was that I am being unfairly discriminated against, and there is no such thing as a "server" operating system -- I know exactly what I'm running and I could easily download a Win32 proxy/DHCP server/whatever and wreak just as much havoc as any Linux user.

Wednesday (the next day after), I was able to catch up with my professor, and explain myself further. He calls the other professor and I finally

get permission to connect to the network. I spent a really long time going over why I feel that having to do *anything* special just because I'm running a different OS is unfair. I'm told that the line from those who want to set up this new policy is that a "large" proportion of students and admins have screwed the network over using non-Windows operatings systems, but relatively no Windows users have done so. (Well, no shit, 90% of the people with Win98 laptops don't install software themselves).

Oh, and I forgot to mention, the kid who installed the DHCP server has had network access the whole time. And didn't have his computer stolen.


So now I'm just waiting for the policy so I can formally complain and/or threaten to sue. I'm composing a message to go out on the school spam-list in the hopes of organizing some of the people running other servers. And regardless of what happens, I will not be paying this school tuition any longer. (Yes, looking for a school the first time sucked, and I wasn't even happy with my results at the time. Looking for a place to transfer to still sucks, and I have my horrid first-semester grades hanging over me.)

[1] See, I know this is the real MS phrase, but it helps a lot if you do it like Dr. Evil says "la-ser"... ;-)

[2] Read: vaguely. In a section of policy with the heading "Web Servers".

Everything In Its Right Place

In software news, I have become extremely frustrated with the amount of important Moz chrome stuff that lives inside packages (which I don't want to rewrite or try to work on in the tree, until I dust off the minimal-browser project again) and skins (which I can muck around with). Just reorganizing files is driving me up the wall. Also started a few more aewm fixes including (finally) forking properly. The amount of bad WM_SIZE hints out there is staggering. I have actually considered adding something like -DSTUPID_TOOLKIT_KLUDGE that ignores any PSize of 200x200.

Trying to think up of a clever and/or bizarre way to implement wc for class.

The National Anthem

I still think it's incredibly amusing that I had 4 people sent into my dorm for computer-related "offenses" and not one of them recognized the DeCSS source code printed out on my door.

Just Like Rage

Well, there's not much to say really. The administration has seized my computer. This is apparently how they are now dealing with any suspicious network activity -- forget about being contacted or even merely losing network access. Never mind that I am here to learn and not be terrorized. Talk to someone about it? Sorry, we arranged to take your computer on Friday afternoon and the dean will be gone until Tuesday. I wish I was at a state school so that due process and the 4th amendment actually meant something. I will not continue to pay these people (and fund this sort of fascism) any longer than I need to. Hopefully I will not need another semester before transferring.

Of course, I know that everyone has heard this story a zillion times and doesn't particularly give a fsck about some kid getting his MP3s, so what can you do? I never paid much attention when it happened to someone else. I say "I am sick with this" to myself all the time, but it usually doesn't concern concrete events. And so I'm left with just sucking it up.

'Round Your Skull...

Started "Lost in the Funhouse" by Barth. Very good.

Kid A is still in the mail. Someone took the promo already so I haven't heard it. Stereolab and Photek are good though. Did some calculations and figured I have spent $100 on music in the past 3 weeks. $12 for Love is Not a Game alone... sending vinyl overseas is not something I can pay for frequently.

Sometimes I wonder if I come off the wrong way. Certain exchanges are so mired in the the usual "relationship" cliche that they seem to obliterate whatever used to be there. No, I'm not making any sense.

Spot the connection between my headlines and I'll give you a cookie. Make that a cookie and a deleted MyPlay locker, because the sample won't be getting cleared...

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