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
Friday, April 29, 2005
16:17 - Mood: melancholy
http://darthside.blogspot.com/2005_04_01_darthside_archive.html

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Via Damien: Darth Vader's blog.

...You try to be an effective manager, you weed out the bad apples like the late Admiral Ozzel -- only to find that an insidious culture of incompetence has somehow transformed your deadly pan-galactic armada into a fleet of spaceballs.

It's alternately very silly and very good. Certainly a lot more entertaining than the last couple of movies have been, but maybe that's just because it actually pays attention to extant plot and makes some attempt to tie it all meaningfully together. There's even some perverse wisdom in it.

This'll be one to watch.

Thursday, April 28, 2005
18:11 - Secret launch codes
http://arstechnica.com/reviews/os/macosx-10.4.ars/1

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Here's a long technical review of Tiger by John Siracusa; this chunk in the middle (via Kris) might be of interest to any Mac geeks of a UNIX-y bent, as well as to anyone keen on finding examples of how Apple seems intent on making Mac OS X into not just a better Mac OS than the Mac OS, but a better UNIX than UNIX:

Apple went down the same path as Solaris 10, adding its own XML-driven mechanisms for startup and login. The Unix community mostly ignored these efforts. They had their shell scripts, super daemons, and elaborate /etc/rc.d/ scaffolding.

But Apple is not your typical Unix vendor. While the new XML-based systems were nice, they represented two more systems in an already crowded field. In Tiger, Apple decided to tackle the program launching problem again, this time wiping the slate clean.

For Tiger, Apple created launchd: one launch daemon to rule them all. Launchd does the job of all of the existing program launching mechanisms, and does it in a way that puts the least possible burden on the programs that it launches. Processes spawned by launchd don't have to worry about "daemonizing" themselves, checking for dependencies, or relaunching or keeping communication handles alive in the case of a crash.

Launchd can launch programs in response to any of the events listed earlier, and it can do so on behalf of the system or an individual user. It will discover dependencies on its own and launch programs in parallel when possible. This is essential for fast system startup. Mac OS X's older startup items system did the same thing, but it had to be explicitly told the dependencies.

Launchd supports a messaging protocol to answer questions like, "How many users are connected to this daemon?" and "Have you shut down yet?" Program shutdown is another example of an area where "The Unix Way" is usually deemed "good enough" despite obvious deficiencies. Traditionally, Unix services are shut down by sending a signal to the process, waiting a little while, and then sending a more harsh signal just in case the service refused to shut down. This is barbaric, but necessary because there's no standardized messaging system for Unix daemons. Launchd recognized the need and filled it.

Apple has developed launchd as an open source project that it hopes will be adopted by the wider Unix community. To the average Unix hacker, launchd probably looks like a reinvention of the wheel. I think it addresses a problem the Unix community doesn't even know that it has. In this way it's much like Mac OS X itself. There was "Unix on the desktop," and then there was Mac OS X. You'd think that alone would have been a big enough wake-up call.

If I were working on a Unix-based operating system, I'd be borrowing ideas and code from Apple like there's no tomorrow.

The boys been busy, in other words. There's lots more, too—sections on the newly tuned-up, finely-grained kernel interface (upshot:no more waiting for the Finder while it juggles simultaneous network and filesystem access, previously the only two pathways into the kernel), and a new look at the potential richness and new usefulness of metadata (remember, Siracusa was the guy who led the charge against Apple's seeming abandonment of Type and Creator codes back in the early days of OS X, back before we realized that individually hideable, user-immutable filename extensions for file-typing and user-mutable "opener app" settings with global and per-file scopes was a much more flexible and sensible way to go anyway). He's also not very sanguine toward the new look of Mail, though aside from the toolbar buttons I like the changes. But he has very good things to say about the new Universal Type Identifiers, even if they're far from being a sexy feature that Apple can even talk about in the regular marketing material.

And at 6PM tomorrow, assuming Tiger Direct doesn't manage to go booga-booga-booga loudly enough to get Apple to rename everything they way they've already renamed "Rendezvous" to "Bonjour", we get to experience it all for ourselves.


13:42 - I bet they added "alright" to the OED too

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Has anybody else seen those late-night cable ads for "Bling It On!"? You know, the kit you can buy for $19.95 (a $49 value!™) from Department One, Richmond, VA, which contains patches and strips of little pieces of fake costume jewelry that you can stick on your iPod and cellphone while chanting the magic words Bling Bling?

It's simultaneously the saddest and most hilarious thing I've ever seen them try to sell. Sure, it's one thing to make up graphs demonstrating that the "% MVIC" of conventional ab-workout devices is a flat curve whereas the AbScissor™ has a % MVIC curve far surpassing it, meaning you'd better buy it or appear stupid for not knowing what "% MVIC" is. But this—who directed this ad? Does he dare put it on his demo reel? Ron Popeil surely has excommunicated him already from the rolls of the direct-sales insiders. Tacky is the bread and butter of the industry, but this is tack-kay.

It features a bunch of white-bread teens sticking these strips of baubles onto their phones and laptops, so carelessly they can't even fit them on in a straight line; the ad tries, freakishly, to demonstrate how alluring and classy it is to paste a 1-inch square of little bits of shiny plastic with a heart inscribed in it in red bits of plastic, onto the middle of the speaker/palmrest of your laptop. And then, the whitest of all white cubicle-worker women ever to bestride the earth shows off her horn-rimmed glasses bedecked with the little jewels, and with the most grotesquely forced smile on her face that I can remember seeing, she tells the camera: "It's not just a kid thing. I love to bling!"

Thus ensuring that street slang will never "verb" this particular noun, lest it appear to be following the lead of this ludicrous commercial.

It's about as painful as can be imagined—but in a pity-inspiring way, not the maddeningly condescending way that describes that weight-loss pill where the randomly interviewed woman on the street caws, "They let'cha try it free? ...It must be good!"

I know—if I step back a bit here, what I'm doing is demanding quality and respectful presentation from the depths of the squalid medium that's been ruining our lives for the past half-century. But it has its moments of pure inspired idiocy that far surpasses the general humdrum idiocy to which we've all become accustomed; and those moments just beg to be documented.


12:54 - I know! Let's commit corporate suicide!
http://osnews.com/story.php?news_id=10419

(top)
For some, the dream will never die:

So, let's immagine that...

April 29, 2005
Apple releases Tiger.
Apple releases Tiger for PC.

Nobody knows if this is going to happen with the Tiger announcement, but when a MacOS X release for PC does come, and I'm sure it will, it will be a surprise for everyone. We know that Steve Jobs likes secrets, and such an important move will be kept secret at any cost, even if it means moving the development labs to Mars. So let's proceed with our speculation...

I'll pass, thanks. Apple likes selling Macs and Mac hardware, not cheapo PC alternatives that won't respond to OS features designed for Macs' dedicated hardware functionality. Besides, if Apple decided to support PC hardware and all its myriad configuration options, they'd have to triple in size just to write and support all the drivers. Not a prospect Jobs relishes, I'm sure.

Naturally Apple's job is to make money for its investors. But with six billion in the bank, they can afford to keep from selling out everything that makes their business case what it is. Especially now that they're doing so well with that whole "profits" thing anyway.

BMW has no financial need to build Yugos, and Apple has no financial need to take OS X cross-platform. Somehow I suspect Jobs wouldn't do so even if it were the company's last desperate hope.

Via evariste.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005
18:29 - They do stuff™
http://www.huhcorp.com/index.htm

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I'm totally buying stock in these guys. As soon as they IPO.

Via Cold Fury.


18:26 - Longhorn phone home
http://junkyardblog.net/archives/week_2005_04_24.html#004241

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I'm sure this can't mean what it says it means.

According to CNet, Bill Gates also announced a plan to install a 'black box' recorder into Longhorn. When the operating system crashes it will send details to Microsoft. The black box will be built on the Watson error-reporting tool, but will provide Microsoft with much deeper information, and even the contents of documents that were being created.

There's no way Microsoft is that dumb, is it? I mean, it's run by geniuses.

Or are they that convinced that people like the NSA don't have any viable alternatives to Windows that they think they can get away with even proposing something like this? Even if they don't put such a feature into Longhorn, the inevitable security audits that the government will have to perform will be with this tiny persistent rumor of hidden, unannounced corporate back-doors piping up in the backs of their minds. They're going to have to see the code to satisfy themselves. And they won't be able to.

Microsoft (and Intel) have traditionally backed off of previous scandalizing initiatives like this in the past (remember WMP's "Microsoft knows what you watched last summer" ID code thing? Remember the Pentium III with its built-in fingerprint that had everyone so steamed?); but what will become of this? On one hand they're trying to convince everyone that Windows is secure, with schemes like Palladium; and on the other they're trying to convince everyone that Windows is stable and Microsoft is on top of things. Trouble is, while to many these sound like complementary (even indistinguishable) ideals, the big-iron purchasers recognize that they're mutually exclusive.

Via David F.

UPDATE: Oh, and via Bryan Preston, where the above link is from: pure distilled vileness that inspires endless one-liners, most of which are right there on the page. Particularly the post's very title.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005
17:26 - I'll fire your whole family.... and your ancestors
http://www.backuptrauma.com/video/default2.aspx

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Oh, my.



You know, there's something just unbearably heartening about seeing John Cleese in action again, in classical style—hawking RAID backup solutions for a company that couldn't have picked a better way to demonstrate that it's run by the very geekiest of geeks.

He's craggier now, and not quite as frenetic as he was thirty years ago—but he's still got it. Holy hell, has he ever still got it.

Oh, and whatever you do, don't click the third button.

(Via Kris.)

UPDATE: Lileks points out that the boss is quite possibly Michael Dorn (aka Worf). I didn't know he could make his voice sound that human, but it sure does look like him...

UPDATE: Okay, yeah, that's Dorn. A couple more times through and there's no doubt.


13:57 - NEW POPE IS NAZI LOL WTF!!1!1
http://www.somethingawful.com/articles.php?a=2822

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It's always refreshing when one of the lone voices of sanity on the Internet comes from Something Awful.

I’m going to build a time machine. What I’m going to do is take old Bill here back in time to 1941 Germany. We’re going to sit there and wait for the Nazis to find him and say, “Join us or die.” Bill Berkowitz (Uhm, we’ll have to change that last name for this to work) is going say, “Sorry folks, but I humbly oppose the Nazi regime and I don’t wish to join your organization.” and we’ll see what happens.

George Washington owned slaves during his lifetime. He didn’t want to and in his heart he knew it was wrong but he did anyway. It was the cool thing to do at the time. Slavery was just another fad like pogs or Pokemon. But in 1976 he was posthumously appointed the grade of General of the Armies of the United States, the highest ranking military position the U.S. has to offer. The fact that he owned slaves didn’t seem to bother anyone. The fact that Joseph Ratzinger involuntarily joined the Hitler Youth shouldn’t bother anyone either.

But it will, as long as some people can use it to fuel the storybook image they have of the world in which WWII was that far-off time when good and evil existed, people who committed atrocities were otherworldly beings in man-suits (certainly, anything but human), and the human race was absolved of having to base their decisions in this gray modern world on any sort of moral clarity as long as you say enough things like "How many Nazi salutes did he give? How many times did "Sieg Heil" come out of his mouth?" when you think the right people are listening.

UPDATE: Brummbar has more.

Monday, April 25, 2005
17:44 - But that's not fair

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CapLion has a few things to say on the subject of socialized medicine. Money quote:

To address this properly, I really need to start off with a fairly macroscopic view of the issue. It's one that many, many Americans understand, and just about all Canadians, Europeans, and Liberals in general do not: It is not okay to be poor.

Perhaps harsh, but as Cap says, read the rest of it before you start smashing things. And I've gotta say, it comes at a pretty opportune time for me to read it. See, here I am pulling in no fewer than four incomes from two full-time jobs and change (as well as a lot of completely self-driven work over the past several years that's now trickling dividends my way), in which number I count this current breakneck writing project on which I'm working harder and faster than I ever have before in my life (including college), with visions of hazard pay and an impeccable Guy Who Gets Things Done aura shining around me when they think of who'll be able to take on future emergency projects. Sleep? Who needs it? Alaska beckons. Or, failing that, the mortgage payment, which plus expenses adds up to within hundreds of my after-taxes take-home pay.

...And then, as I did a few weekends ago, I go to visit some acquaintances on a bright Saturday in San Francisco. Four of them, living in an absolute pit of an apartment in the middle of the city. Oh, it's a beautiful apartment complex—perched on a high hill, full of gorgeous landscaping—but their unit itself was packed from floor to ceiling with books, used food, knickknacks, and piles of cat crap. Of the four renters, not one had a job. One apparently did some kind of contract work once in a great while, but that hadn't happened in a long time; and so one of them, who told me this with great pride, was the "main breadwinner" by virtue of his skulking down to the bus station to pick up garbage every few days, which he smugly said qualified as enough "community service" to make him eligible for General Assistance, which he was able to convince his worried mother was a "job". Meaning one of my incomes—I don't know, pick one—was being diverted to pay his and his friends' rent.

Boy, what a sucker I am, huh? You work harder than the average, you make more money—but you get taxed harder, like the evil rich person you obviously are. Don't wanna work, and don't mind living in a litterbox? We'll find some bozo with an extra income or so he doesn't need and make him sponsor you.

Oh yeah, and then the guy asked me to "lend" him money, or else they'd get kicked out of the apartment. Like I'd done once before, never to see the money again, needless to say. I tell you, it was all I could do to get to my car before I started yelling and hitting things.

And get a load of this little gem from my Correspondent that I read this morning:

There are also circular problems. Let's say I'm having trouble getting work because of my weight (companies don't want to co-pay my high insurance costs). Losing weight is best with the right foods, which cost too much, which I can't afford, because I don't have the job. Or I need the medical assistance to lose this much weight, and I don't have the health insurance because I don't have the job (and the Republicans have made this one of only two industrial countries which has no national health plan). Or, because I don't have a job, I try to survive on government assistance, but I don't qualify because my car is worth too much money, unless I try to sell it in which case I get only a fraction of its value, and then the government doesn't pay enough to live on, and I can't get work because I don't have a car to get there (and I live in a big city whose public transportation system is both too expensive and unreliable), so I get stuck on government assistance, not being able to eat, so I find a local part-time job that I can walk to, and then they cut back the government assistance, and the combination is even less than what I was making before, so...

Where to begin? Perhaps with the thing about how losing weight requires expensive food. Huh? Funny, everyone I've always talked to seemed to be convinced that losing weight involved buying less food. Or jogging around the block once in a while, which is free. Jared became a matinee idol on six-inch Subways, right? "Results not typical", I know, but give me a break. If only there were magical weight-loss pills slipped into every mailbox by the USPS, like in Canada or Cuba, eh? But of course it's the Republicans' fault that this guy is too fat to work. Do I have that right? God, I'm stupid.

I know, I know—part of being one of those people who takes on way too many projects at once and always seems to come through in a way that makes people applaud and throw money my way is also being the kind of person to never complain or even make any public spectacle of how much work it all involves. You can't be an uncomplaining martyr if you complain. I know I don't have any real problems, and being successful insulates me from even being able to empathize properly with people who do. But you know, sometimes you just read or experience too many things in a day that make you so mad you want to wrench your own head off.

And sometimes you're tempted, because you live in a country where the evil capitalist hospitals would probably be able to sew the damn thing back on for you.


12:57 - A cup of Gatorade

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Four chapters in five days. Whoo.

At this pace, though, I'll come in well under the deadline. I just hope they don't want me to do this again anytime soon.

Anyway, last night as I was taking out the garbage, I heard the whine of what sounded like struggling jet engines directly above; very loud, enough to make normal speech difficult, and changing in pitch suggesting that the pilot was making some pretty significant power adjustments. The next-door neighbor came running out to see what it was, just as the plane passed overhead; there was a choppy cloud cover at about 1000 feet, and the plane was barely above it, or so it seemed. Judging by the way the lights were arranged it looked to have long swept-back wings-- a C-5 or something, aimed in the direction of Moffett.

But there's no way it should have been that low. The neighbor and I stood there watching and listening for a long time[md]we could hear those engines whining after it had been gone over the horizon five minutes. We never did hear a big "boom", but it wouldn't have surprised us at all. Pretty unnerving.

Anyway, that's enough of the outside world.

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© Brian Tiemann