g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Saturday, December 4, 2004
00:45 - Setting myself up for disappointment

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Okay, this is an open message directed to the dialogue writers currently supplying Hollywood and facsimiles thereof.

Henceforth, I wish never to hear any of the following phrases, ever again. Ever:

  • "That's gotta hurt!"
  • "That's gonna leave a mark!"
  • "That's not right!"

    Or its cousin...

  • "That's just wrong!"

    These are the writer's equivalent of saying "Uhhhhh...." and they invariably drag down the quality of any otherwise enjoyable work in which they appear. Each of these tells the audience that the writers don't respect them enough to bother to come up with an original line to use to punctuate some shocking, raucous, or lurid scene that demands some kind of pithy incisive observational comment before it's declared complete. Any writer using one of these phrases should be fined five comedy demerits and/or sent to Remedial One-liner School for three 8-hour evening courses.

    Thank you.

  • Friday, December 3, 2004
    13:33 - Mouse balls are not usually static sensitive. However, excessive handling can result in sudden discharge

    (top)
    Lately I've been having a resurgence of interest in one of my most long-running bugaboos: the Optical Mouse Freaky Tracking Problem. Have I talked about it here before? I don't remember. I'm too lazy to search my own site, and the tale is nicely bookended now anyway, so I guess I may as well start from the beginning.

    Ever since 2000 when I bought my old G4/450 (the one that's currently sitting in our garage acting as the house server running Panther Server, which rocks—it's so nice to be able to do GUI-driven Software Updates remotely), I've been using optical mice. That's about the time when Apple released its first optical mouse; but I was to have nothing to do with it: I wanted a nice multi-button mouse for my home machine, preferably with a scrollwheel. So I've been using the Macally iceMouse and its predecessor the iOptiNet. They're absolutely the perfect shape for my hand—they very closely approximate the shape of the factory Apple mouse, and Apple has always had an unerring sense for the perfect shape a mouse should (hey, shut up) —should be. Low in profile, symmetrical, the right length to run from just beyond the fingertips to about the middle of the hand so you don't even have to bend your wrist to rest your hand on it comfortably. We once had an ergonomics expert come in to our company to examine everyone's typing environment and scold us all for not having our monitors at the proper heights or holding our hands in the wrong position or not having at least $8000 worth of highly customized lumpy ergonomic keyboards and swivel-every-direction keyboard trays and monitors on stands that tilt in unnatural ways which they can conveniently recommend to us if we buy certain brands so they get a nice commission. She came to my cubicle and looked at me with my hands laying flat on my keyboard, my arm resting on my mouse with fingers coaxial to my forearm, and my adjustable-neck iMac defying any attempt by her to explain to me that I needed a form of monitor-adjustment equipment that cost me more than the energy it takes to reach out and turn the screen a little bit. She had a distinctly disappointed look on her face when she moved on to the next cubicle. I was clearly a hopeless case.

    But anyway—the Macally mouse has the perfect shape, and I like the action of the buttons and the scroll wheel. They're just the way I like them. The mouse is, for all intents and purposes (or, at least, mine), perfect. Except... except... for one teensy-tiny little problem that I noticed nearly three years ago.

    You see, under Mac OS 9, this optical mouse had no problems at all. You could swoosh the pointer back and forth across your 22-inch landscape-orientation Cinema Display to your heart's content and the pointer would faithfully track your every movement, no matter how quickly your hand moved. And Mac OS X, in its original form, was no different. True, like OS 9 (I believe), OS 10.0—"Cheetah"—had no native support for stuff like multiple buttons and scroll wheels, but those things were easily added by installing the manufacturer's mouse drivers. Easy as pie.

    But then Apple released Mac OS X 10.1, "Puma". As I ran the installer program from the CD, I noticed something was a little different about how my mouse behaved. The sensitivity was a little bit different, I could tell from how much the pointer's movements magnified those of my hand; so to test this, I clicked on the installation window, the file-writing process still underway within it, and started dragging it back and forth (dragging the window made it easier to see how the pointer was moving). I moved it rapidly left and right, holding to as horizontal a line as possible, getting to about 5-8 oscillations per second. And sure enough, my suspicions were correct: the pointer was freakishly losing tracking coherence with my hand movements. The faster I moved the mouse, the more erratic the pointer's motions became. It seemed that beyond a certain velocity along a certain axis (x or y), the pointer's movement would freeze along that axis, making the window jump crazily across the screen, hanging back when I expected it to move along with me, then rushing backwards as soon as I slowed it down or reversed direction. The window I was dragging flickered all over the screen as I kept up the test. (This isn't a very evocative way of describing what happens, I know; for a better one, picture that "obbidy-obbidy-obbidy" sound effect that Warner Brothers characters make when they're trying to shake off dizziness.) And later, as I ran the fully installed Puma, my illusions fell away: this was the way it was in the OS now. The native mouse drivers had been completely rewritten. Now they supported right-clicking and middle-clicking and scroll-wheeling, without the need for additional software, true... but now, every time I would move my mouse rapidly across the screen—like, for example, to zip up to the Apple menu to open the System Preferences—the pointer would flutter off into the weeds instead of unerringly leaping to my intended destination. I had to force my hand to move slowly if I wanted to cover large distances. Unacceptable.

    I took a video of this happening. I sent the URL to the handy-dandy Mac OS X Feedback Page that they used for collecting user reports for the first couple of years; true, nobody ever got a response from anything submitted there, but I know a lot of the things I reported using it were eventually fixed, so at least it's probably not just a honeypot for keeping malcontents busy and feeling useful.

    But this mouse issue was never fixed. I started buying new mice, trying one after another, like some kind of obsessive-compulsive fetish, filling a closet with a shelf full of mice, like Imelda Marcos' shoes. Many mice exhibited this same problem. Many did not. The factory Apple optical mouse didn't have the problem—no matter how fast I jiggled the mouse back and forth, the pointer would dutifully track my movements, never losing sync; it would get a little flickery as a matter of pure screen-refresh-rate limitations, but its motion never faltered, regardless of the mousing surface. Even a smooth white desk like the one I have at work didn't affect it. I thought for a time that my iMac at work was immune to the problem, and it was only my G4—but then I found that it happened with my iBook as well, and with my new G5. So I was wondering for a while whether it was just me: a piece of code somewhere in the mouse driver that said If owner is Brian, then drive him batty! But eventually I realized that the problem was showing up on my iMac too—it's just that the screen is too small for it really to manifest. If I do the drag-window-back-and-forth-really-fast test, it still fails. But I'm still using the factory one-button mouse at work, because I don't use any apps at work that really require a scrollwheel. I do at home: some apps still have that atrocious behavior where if you drag the scrollbar thumb, it simply "ghosts" to the new position in the scrollbar, and the display doesn't update until you let go of the button. ICQ is like that, and AppleWorks, and (I think) Office. A scrollwheel is required in such a case. But I don't use those apps at work, so I'm fine with the factory mouse.

    So lately I've been busying myself with passing eternal moral judgment upon the souls of various mice, elevating some to a plane of anointed glory and sentencing others to burn in mousey damnation. I'd determined that among the mice that exhibited the problem were the Kensington PocketMouse (with the retractable cord), various Logitech mice (even the newer ones), and, lamentably, my favorites: the Macally iOptiNet and iceMouse. Mice that did not exhibit the problem included the factory one-button mouse, Kensington's full-size models, and the cheapo entry-level $10 Logitech optical mouse. Unfortunately, it seemed that every mouse I found that worked okay had some fatal flaw that kept me from using it. The factory mouse has that one-button thing going on. The Kensington Studio Mouse has a track-pad instead of a scrollwheel, and one that's so unsensitive that you have to grind your finger along it to make it scroll; so that's out. The Kensington Pilot Mouse I tried had an infuriating little feature: the button surface wasn't connected to the lever underneath it, and was in fact separated from it by about a millimeter; you'd press down until it contacted the lever with a tap, then press down further until the button clicked. Tap-click. Tap-click. Drove me nuts, and I gave it away before the day was out. Most new mice that advertise "advanced optical sensors" have bizarre features I don't need or want, like dozens of buttons for me to accidentally press or congealed-looking asymmetrical bulbosities, or are inexplicably huge, with tall rounded middles that make my hand have to dome itself uncomfortably to reach the buttons. The new much-vaunted Logitech mouse with the laser sensor, like so many other mice these days that tout themselves as top-end, is wireless, which is an instant deal-killer: I'll be damned if I have to recharge my mouse, or worry about RF interference or Bluetooth connectivity, or have to sit it in a weirdo ID4-looking dock thingy when I'm not using it. And the cheapo Logitech mouse, like all mice designed for PC use as well as the Mac market, has a nine-hundred-foot cord that's designed to snake over the back of your desk, down the wall, around the corner, and into the inaccessible back of your PC. Mac mice have tiny little 18-inch cables intended to plug into your USB keyboard (in the good old ADB tradition), or your monitor. When I had a Windows PC in college, the biggest thing that bugged me about it was not Windows, believe it or not; it was the fact that the mouse cord hung over the back of my desk, and was weighty enough to constantly tug against the mouse and drag it upward and away from me. I'd wake up in the morning and find the mouse had travelled all the way up to the edge and was about to leap sullenly off into the chasm beyond. I had to tape the cord to the back of the desk or the adjacent windowsill to stop it from doing this, and over the course of the year the sun baked the tape onto the windowsill and ruined the paint job when I tried to remove it to go home for the summer. So now the Logitech mouse that I've been using for the past couple of days has this enormous cable coiled up behind my keyboard in the keyboard tray like a viper waiting to strike, and if I push the keyboard back on it so I can eat dinner or something, the coil falls off into my lap and drags the mouse with it onto the floor, and I have to crawl under the desk to fish it out and thread the mouse back up through the slot between the tray and they bottom of the desk, and I bang my head on the underside of the desk trying to get out, knocking over my glass of Diet Coke so it spills all over my chair and into my keyboard. One would think Logitech's designers might one day have some mercy on their hapless victim-customers, but I guess the Chespirito feature is just in too much demand these days.

    All I want is a nice, sane, restrained, entry-level two-button mouse with a scrollwheel and a short, Mac-style cord, like they knew how to make back in 1998. And if they would deign to give it an optical sensor that wouldn't completely go insane when I moved it rapidly, so much the better. In the meantime, I've been still doggedly using the trusty tragic iceMouse, willing myself to move it slowly to avoid provoking the Input Demon with its evil red LED eye. But when Kris was over playing Halo, he immediately noticed the shortcomings of such a mouse: rapid movements made his character jerk its aim around the screen, leading to imminent video death. This is why I occasionally still go back to my old heavy gunk-accumulating ball mouse, just to ease the pain for a brief evening or so.

    On Wednesday I eliminated the mousepad as the culprit, by buying a new mousepad identical to the ones in the Apple campus store, which exhibited mice happily working with no trace of the problem. It was a long and illogical shot, but it was all I had left. Not having had any indication to believe that Apple had seen fit to address the sudden software behavior change I'd noticed in 10.1, I was starting to despair. My working theory, by the way, is as follows: in the new generic mouse driver in OS X, there are vector counters for both the X and Y axes, which keep track of instantaneous velocity. However, for certain mice, when they're moving at the maximum velocity that the buffers can register, the driver is setting that value to zero instead of the max value; this causes the pointer to freeze in the axis of movement, even though you're moving it as quickly as you can in a straight line. This results in the pointer jumping all over the screen, or more accurately, staying behind your movements and failing to follow you during the fastest motions. Yet this worked fine in 10.0, and it works fine for some mice. Why? Do some mice have internal buffers that feed data more smoothly to the driver and prevent it from reaching that top value? Do some mice just not report a velocity value high enough to rail the driver's register and trigger the problem? Like, do newer mice only report the value on a 0-254 scale, where 255 is what gets slapped down to 0 in the driver? Either way, it's solvable in the operating system, and yesterday morning I stopped off at the Genius Bar at the Oakridge Apple Store to demonstrate it with a mouse that worked and one that didn't. The Genius in question had never seen the problem before and took some time to convince himself that it was legitimate, as previous Geniuses I'd shown the problem to in past months and years have done, with their investigations never leading anywhere beyond me buying yet another mouse to add to my dust-gathering collection. This guy, though, was convinced; he offered, quite gallantly, to escalate the issue to the engineers higher up the food chain, and to get back to me later in the week with the status once there was some to report. He had me write up the problem using one of the display Macs and print it for him to use as evidence; he'd seen it with his own eyes, so I had me a champion. I don't know where this will go, but we'll see.

    Meanwhile, I was still curious about a few further variables. Not expecting anything, I plugged the two test-case mice into a Windows machine. And lo and behold, Windows exhibits the same problem. I verified this on a Windows 2000 machine and an XP machine: the two mice with the two different behaviors on the Mac showed exactly the same behaviors under Windows. Which means that whatever bug Apple introduced into their mouse driver in Puma, the very same bug has been present in Windows for at least that long. What does that mean? I have no idea. But I passed it on to the Genius as another data point, just the same. I still think this is something Apple can and should fix, and all the more so now that it means they can do something else better than Windows does, if they choose to address it.

    On the way home I bought a Kensington Mouse-In-A-Box Optical, the $14.99 model with the austere retro-looking metallic finish; I opted out of the $19.99 Mouse-In-A-Box Optical Elite, the one with the grippy rubberized coating and the extra Forward/Back buttons on the sides that I knew I'd be spending all my time trying to avoid pressing. And I knew that the newer a mouse I bought, the greater the chance that it would sport one of those boat-anchor PC-length cords. (At least they're not D-connectors anymore—better known as "grappling connectors". Just dip 'em behind your desk, fish around, and come up with shoes, tires, old sandwiches...) And this mouse is actually doing the job pretty nicely. A little oversensitive and lacking in acceleration variance (precision movements don't slow the cursor down much), and it has a long cable (not as long as the Logitech one, but long enough to be annoying—I just left the twist-tie on it to take up the slack), but its buttons are nice, the shape is nice, and—most importantly—it doesn't have The Problem. I think this one'll do me for a while.

    Of course, if they fix the problem, it's back to the Macally mouse for me. Unless, of course, this intriguing animal sees the light of day... I could get used to that. Imagine a scrollwheel you could scroll with continuously, round-and-round-and-round, without having to repeatedly roll and reposition and roll and reposition your finger.

    At any rate: now that I know this problem is not even limited to the Mac, I'm both relieved and bewildered: relieved because it's not a "weakness" per se, but bewildered that nobody seems to have noticed this problem before, let alone complained about it. Friends I've demonstrated it to, using their own mice on their own computers, simply say, "Huh"—never having noticed anything bothersome before. Does nobody ever move their mouse rapidly, or something? Surely there are millions of Windows users with some of these Mice of the Damned, which are never identified by any telltale numbers in the published specs, or even distinguished by a particular brand's internal consistency. Mouse manufacturers themselves seem unclear on the concepts I've tried to explain to them over the phone over the last three years. How can this be possible? It would be awfully weird if this tracking problem were to simply slip away silently into computing history as newer generations of optical sensors come onto the market and gradually displace whatever's wrong with the old ones, without anyone ever identifying this behavior as what it is: a bug, and a particularly egregious one at that, profoundly debilitating to the satisfactory use of a computer.

    Or maybe this is already a long-running and massive underground scandal that's been masterfully covered-up by the mouse makers.

    See, if I'm going to participate in a conspiracy theory, it's going to be a petty one, dammit.

    (Oh, and this is where the title comes from, if you're wondering.)

    UPDATE: Thanks to those who have suggested USB Overdrive... while it does provide nice speed/acceleration control, unfortunately it does nothing to solve the Freaky Tracking Problem™, which suggests that all mouse drivers except the 10.0 and 9.x drivers have this same problem—or else I'm completely insane and it didn't work back then either. Also, USB Overdrive has some pretty irritating interface choices, like making you pick an acceleration percentage by number from a list, instead of using a slider with well-marked directions; and it doesn't have the one fine-tuning control I do need, which is per-application control of scrollwheel response speed.

    I installed Kensington MouseWorks, though, and it's actually much nicer than what I was expecting. Very smooth interface, with an interactive visual speed/acceleration graph that updates as you twiddle the sliders. Unfortunately it interferes badly with Exposé—I can no longer map modifier keys plus the middle mouse button to the various Exposé modes, and if I set one of the modes to the middle button, I have to do it as a "keystroke", which for some reason is a lot slower than having the mouse button directly trigger Exposé, with noticeable lag between click and response—but other than that it's a nice consolation prize.


    10:06 - Nice day for it

    (top)
    Everyone else seems to be falling into a bit of a lull in posting lately... and I guess it stands to reason why. I'm feeling the same urge. Or if it isn't the same urge, it's one with a similar result.

    Now that the election's over, I've found myself thinking back over these past three years (wow, my third blogiversary is coming up), and realizing how the tone and focus of what I've written about has changed. I started out primarily writing naïve and heartfelt tracts about Apple and screeds against Microsoft, with the occasional pointer to some silly thing or other found on the Web. Ever since about eighteen months ago, though, I found myself focusing on politics to a degree that would have horrified the me of the halcyon days, as halcyon as the weeks immediately following 9/11 can have been.

    It's because it all seemed so crucially important—there was always the feeling that it was leading up to something, to such an extent that I couldn't drop my guard or let up on the offensive for even a week's vacation. And it was. The election's over now, and it's let out all the stress. All of it. Far from taking months to cool down, it's like the overinflated balloon of desperate verbage has deflated in Internet time—less than a month on and the campaign and the election already feel as distant as Monicagate. So, frankly, does all the urgency of the need to post more political stuff. Now, it's like, the world can take care of itself... and now it's time to watch some movies and look for cool Mac gadgets and other techno-coolness.

    I don't imagine I'll be materially changing the content of what I write here, permanently, or very much... but I do imagine that at least for a couple of weeks there won't be a whole lot of big substantive juicy stuff. I need to rebuild my energy first.

    Of course, it could also be that I'm embroiled in the new book, which is already available at Amazon, rather laughably, since I've only written a quarter of it so far.

    But I guess that's Internet time for you.

    Thursday, December 2, 2004
    11:27 - iEh
    http://www.apple.com/ca/itunes/

    (top)
    At last! The engineers at Apple have finally perfected their extreme-cold-weather hardened software technology for use in the frozen North, and thus the iTunes Music Store is now open for business in Canada. Woo-hoo!

    Took 'em long enough. I wonder if it had anything to do with those taxes ('scuse me, levies) on recordable media and stuff...

    (Via JMH.)

    Wednesday, December 1, 2004
    00:20 - Modena, Sant'Agata, ...Casablanca?
    http://www.madle.org/efulgura.htm

    (top)
    Well, this is something I didn't expect: a supercar from Morocco. The Laraki Fulgura.



    Doesn't sound half bad, either. The effort and concept alone are admirable, but this looks like a real contendah. Who'da thunk?


    14:50 - This guy better not post his address

    (top)
    ...Or he'll have an angry pitchfork-wielding mob on his lawn come morning.



    Eeewww. Thanks a lot, Kris. Now I have to bleach my eyeballs.


    11:15 - That lava lamp should have come with a warning label. Oh, wait, it's already got about fifty
    http://edition.cnn.com/2004/US/11/30/lava.lamp.death.ap/index.html

    (top)
    I think I could probably deal with being the kind of person whose last words are "Oh, shit". But I don't think I'd be able to handle being the kind of person whose last words are "God, that was stupid of me."

    (Via JMH.)

    Tuesday, November 30, 2004
    14:56 - Best Interface EVAR!!!!!111!1``
    http://betanews.ord.cachenetworks.com/betanews/articles/1101831853/netscape.png

    (top)
    Wheee! It's the New Netscape™!



    Based on Firefox. But with a cool new feature: the ability to swap out Gecko in favor of the IE rendering engine.

    So let me get this straight: the one technological trump card that Netscape/Mozilla ever had, and they're tossing it away and disclaiming its importance. What sense does that make?

    Surely they're not going to try to claim that this interface is the Next Big Thing in web browsing. Aside from the wanna-be Safari-esque oval address and search bars, um... whose shroom fantasy was this? Someone whose dreams seem to be stuck wandering through the later levels of Lemmings, apparently.

    My kingdom for some real alpha-blending.


    13:51 - Jerry Lives
    http://www.pvponline.com/archive.php3?archive=20041130

    (top)
    My my. Do I espy me a flip-take?



    That does my heart good somehow. (But then, PVP usually does.)

    11:53 - New improved Junkion planet is sleek sexy import, with turbo handling!
    http://mhking.mu.nu/archives/056614.php

    (top)

    Egad!

    I saw an earlier attempt at this kind of thing a few years ago, in an amateur video made by some random wielder of Lightwave or Maya, featuring the New Beetle... but this really takes it to the next level.

    I'm surprised they didn't have to add a disclaimer explaining that the car doesn't actually transform and dance like Travolta. (If it were sold here, they probably would have.)

    Via JMH.


    11:45 - "Ottawa communists? I hate these guys."
    http://www.amalgamatedlampblack.com/

    (top)
    Paul Denton is doing a heroic job of photoblogging the citywide anti-Bush demonstrations in Ottawa today.

    Fortunately, the subjects of the photos pretty much fisk themselves. It's pretty benign to peruse, now that nothing really hinges on it.

    Still disappointing, though.


    11:23 - Wrong place at the wrong time
    http://weblog.karelia.com/MacOSX/WatsonStatus.html

    (top)
    Marcus spotted this. Apparently Dan Wood's Karelia, the company that brought us Watson (which predated the current incarnation of Sherlock in vision and functionality), has followed very much the same path over the past few years as Panic has, as the maker of a popular and visionary third-party Mac app that was then steamrolled by Apple's own products. Many details of the two companies' stories occurred in parallel. Yet Panic remains one of the best-loved cottage companies in the Mac world, and Karelia has become little more than a bitter footnote, with Watson having been sold off to Sun and its original developer now barred from even distributing it or owning the source code. Why the difference?

    I think a lot of it is attitude. Panic's Cabel Sasser and his partners have maintained a nigh-superhuman level of optimism and vigor throughout their adventure; they're in it for the love of the craft, and the notoriety they've achieved and the (modest) commercial success of their products pales for them in comparison to the satisfaction of having spread universally-loved memes that show up in unexpected places. Karelia, on the other hand, responded to the previews in early Jaguar betas of Sherlock 3, which was pretty much a functional clone of Watson, with no small amount of protest. Sure, it was justified. I'd have probably done the same. But the bitterness with which Dan Wood handled the development, and his downer of a prospect of taking Watson to Windows in protest, left a sour taste in the mouths of much of the community. Watson still has some die-hard adherents, and Karelia's boards are still fairly active, but it looks like it's grinding to a halt at last—and Karelia's name will never be as revered as Panic's, even as both companies' flagship products enter the same silent retirement.

    Is the lesson here to be that if you're a third-party Mac developer, you have to have the ability to just suck up punishment with a sunny smile, make grateful obeisance even to the most backhanded of rebuffs from Apple, and respond by being even more ingenious with your next offering, knowing full well that it'll probably meet the same fate? Is the lesson that if you stand up for yourself and do the "right" thing, you should expect to lose all the goodwill you'd built up among your fans, along with the benefits of your creations? Maybe... or else maybe it's just a matter of having a good ear for business in the Big Boardroom style, of knowing how to play the big dogs' game. Neither of these companies seems to have been quick enough on their feet to really come out on top... but in the end it's attitude that rules whose name survives the winnowing of history.


    11:05 - Time to tolerate a little diversity of opinion
    http://www.chivalrytoday.com/Essays/Schaeffer/Heart-On-The-Line.html

    (top)
    In response to this, Chris M. sends this essay by Frank Schaeffer, a musing from last year from the perspective of a Bostonian intellectual novelist whose son joined the Marines.

    “But aren't the Marines terribly Southern?” asked one perplexed mother while standing next to me at the brunch following graduation. “What a waste, he was such a good student,” said another parent. One parent (a professor at a nearby and rather famous university) spoke up at a school meeting and suggested that the school should “carefully evaluate what went wrong.”

    Do read it all. It's short but important.

    Monday, November 29, 2004
    23:33 - What is that, pimento cheese...? What are you eating? ...What is that? Sir? What is that? ...No eating in the pool!

    (top)
    It's "Old-School Bumps Week" on Adult Swim.

    The old original ones, with the wrinkled old folks in the pool and the show names called out over the megaphone. (They recorded new intros for the current shows.) And the intermediate ones with the "safety cards".

    Just because fans mused on the message boards that they wanted to see 'em again. Just for nostalgia's sake.

    Is this a great network or what?

    23:09 - Second time's the charm
    http://www.codepoetry.net/archives/2004/11/03/doubledip_dns.php

    (top)
    Having problems with your Mac giving you "Host not found" errors every time you try to open a new site in Safari—only to be able to reload the page and have it go through just fine? Why, so was I, until this evening! That's when I found this site, with an explanation for why it's happening, and a solution that may work.

    There is a long standing bug in BSD, or i should say, so I am told, that of course is also in OS X, that causes problems with name resolution under IPv6.

    OS X also seems to have a hard time turning off IPv6, I did some googling on it and found reference in some of Apple's open source mail lists where people were complaining that even though they disable it, that the resolver still sends back a IPv6 address.

    . . .

    In my specific case of being behind an ABS this worked for me: I went into /etc/hostconfig and changed IPV6 to -NO- and rebooted. Delay-free browsing to new domains for me. Huzzah. (Screw that recompiling stuff in the linked page; who uses IPv6 anyway? :) )

    It's done the trick for me thus far. Excellent!

    UPDATE: Further investigation by myself and Chris suggests that this is probably actually two or maybe three different problems layered on top of each other. First there's the BSD DNS issue, where IPv6 name lookups don't work right, or take too long, or are issued when they're not supposed to. And then there's the Mac OS X DNS framework, which has a daft 2-second timeout that overrides the natural (longer) timeout in the BSD resolver. On top of that, or perhaps related, is that simply turning off IPv6 in the Network Preferences doesn't actually affect the IPv6=-YES- setting in /etc/hostconfig, and doesn't seem to get noticed by whatever in BSD is asking for IPv6 name resolution either.

    So the solution of editing /etc/hostconfig and disabling IPv6 there will work, but (possibly) only because it reduces the wait time on the lookups to less than the 2-second timeout imposed by OS X. Or possibly it suppresses the BSD IPv6 lookup altogether; I don't know. Either way, this is just a patchy workaround, one that might fail under certain circumstances, and they'd better be addressing it formally.


    21:33 - The horror

    (top)
    There was just an ad for NBC's 11:00 news, which would be headlined by a report on the U.S. Marines, who are recruiting... (pregnant pause) ...in high schools!

    The narrator then recites a series of breathless lines, in that tone that makes you think they're scandalous: The Marines are recruiting at a high school in your neighborhood! These kids are ... eager to fight on the front lines! Why are these recruiters welcome at Bay Area schools? And why is it working? —Interspersed with shots of kids shaking hands with recruiters and emitting cries of enthusiasm, against nervous twitchy music.

    Oh my. I had no idea. Someone do something about those awful men!


    18:41 - Right place at the right time
    http://www.thinksecret.com/news/0411blackfriday2.html

    (top)

    At last: Apple's in the middle of a perfect storm. They've got the right products, the right retail avenues, the right marketing, and the right prices. And now they're getting the right results:

    Black Friday proved to be every bit as successful for Apple as the company was expecting, retail store insiders tell Think Secret.

    Several stores report moving at least four times the average Friday volume on the day after Thanksgiving, when shoppers flocked to the malls and Apple offered discounts on iPods, iMacs, and AirPort Express to convince shoppers that now was the time to buy.

    Not surprisingly, iPods proved to be the most popular item, with many stores exhausting or practically exhausting their supply, despite stocking up extra head of the date.

    They all said I was mad—mad!—when I bought AAPL at $60. Well, who's mad now? Bwa ha ha haaaah!


    10:55 - Now you are the one who is "it"

    (top)
    Over the weekend, one of the users on my site—a teenager from Britain—made mention of the fact that over there, either this week or last week was apparently "National Anti-Bullying Week" on school campuses.

    He was as surprised to hear that there was no such event here, as I was to hear of its existence.

    I mean, what the hell? National Anti-Bullying Week? A week in which, what, all bullies are identified, tied up in the quad, and pelted with eggs? Or is it just a time to hang meaningless banners and feel all self-righteous? What exactly is this supposed to accomplish? What message is it supposed to send? What—it's okay for fifty-one weeks a year to be a bully, but just not this one week? Is this supposed to be some kind of "empowering" thing for non-bully kids—to feel like they have the administration's power on their side for one week out of the year, after which it's back to business as usual?

    So much for the "code of the schoolyard". This kind of thing can only give kids the message that all your problems will eventually be solved by Someone With Authority coming in and stopping the big bad booger men. What are these kids going to grow up to think—"Well, my asshole neighbor keeps throwing his trash over into my backyard, but it's okay! One week a year, the State will step in and make him be nice to me!"

    The world doesn't work like that. No matter how many rough edges we file off the environment our kids carom around in, all we do is delay and magnify the eventual shock when they have to learn how to stand up for themselves and earn the respect of their peers. I'm speaking as someone who was often the target of "bullies" as a kid, such as they were, and the thing I regret most about those years is never having learned to throw a punch.

    Maybe "they" should institute "National Don't Commit Crimes Week" or "International Anti-Iranian-Nukes Day" or "Ukrainian Election Fraud Awareness Week." That'll show 'em.

    UPDATE: Naturally, Tim Blair's commenters have gone to town on the subject of precious childhood memories...


    10:41 - Wouldn't want to get on his bad side
    http://powerlineblog.com/archives/008751.php

    (top)
    Good God. This is what happens if you're a Swift Vet whom the Kerry campaign decides has cost him the Presidency?

    Unfortunately, as the Chicago Sun-Times reports, Gardner seems to have paid a heavy price for contradicting the official line on Kerry's Vietnam service. According to Gardner, shortly after he told his story to local radio stations and a local paper, he received a call from John Hurley, the veterans organizer for Kerry's campaign (and probably the least effective person ever to advocate a position on cable news). Gardner says that Hurley threatened him, stating "you better watch your step; we can look into your finances." Next Gardner heard from Douglas Brinkley author of Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War (arguably the most counter-productive campaign biography ever published). According to Gardner, Brinkley claimed he was "fact-checking" his book, which already was in print. In fact, Brinkley used the call to create an article critical of Gardner. Gardner says that Brinkley called him again, warning him to expect some calls.

    Twenty-four hours later, Gardner's employer, Millennium Information Services, informed him via email that his posiiton with the company was being eliminated and that his services were no longer required. Gardner says that he has since seen the company advertising for his old position.

    Gardner, the father of three, now is broke and unemployed. Nonetheless, he says he'd speak against Kerry all over again because "I couldn't ever see [Kerry] as commander in chief -- not after what I saw in Vietnam, not after the lies I heard him tell about what he says he did and what he says others did."

    I'm gonna whip this out any time someone ever talks about "dissent being crushed" again. Unbelievable.

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    © Brian Tiemann