fj: (Default)
Kinda enjoying my first OS X laptop. Big screen, big keyboard. Been a while.

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fj: (tech)
Look, it was either this or Vista )

And before that, [ profile] iejw and I met in Cambridge Circus and went to a hidden bar where they mixed outrageous cocktails, and ate at a tiny interesting Korean place where one of the dishes was raw shreds of beef over almost frozen pear mixed with a cracked raw egg, and then we had delicious gelato.
fj: (tech)
Glamour Shot of Sonu UX ultra-portlable

About time we got a new entry in the U line. Hopefully this will also make OQO try harder. And yes, I have seen the US product page on SonyStyle, but it hardly has any info yet.
fj: (tech)
Am I the only one who caught the Golden Girls reference in Desperate Housewives this week?

I finally saw it. I tried to download it from the TiVo at home over the public internet, but the connection is so bad the sustained FTP does not work. In frustration I downloaded a BitTorrent client and hit (thanks, [ profile] jpeace). This torrent thing is god slow, but it survives running on terrible flaky bursty connections for large files. Technically I only have the right to watch an NTSC copy with commercials, but I ended up selecting a version that had commercials edited out from a High Definition broadcast.

My god. The stereo sound. The picture clarity. Clearer, sharper, widescreen, fullscreen.

I am sold on downloading again. Not since the original Audiogalaxy have I felt like this. But I'll only download stuff that my TiVo recorded off TV. I think that is kind of fair.
fj: (tech)
I am in a train in the Netherlands to see my father, watching last night's Best Week Ever I downloaded over the Internet from my TiVo in Boston on my mini-tablet PC, while posting this during a commerial break using my BT phone.

It all just needs a little more affordable miniaturization to be more comfortable. And better MPEG2 drivers. Gawd these NVidia things suck. Sound doesn't sync until I move the slider just once, which can lead to random Windows Media Player lock-ups. Sure as hell not springing for those once the trial period is over.
fj: (tech)
Annoying. My new Apple Airport Express (AE) arrived today, and I can't really get it to work like I want to. Right out of the box, set to manage its own wireless network, it does just fine if I set my laptop to attach only to that network. My laptop can then stream music to the AE which pipes it to the speakers plugged into it, and I am sure Internet would work too if I attached the AE to the cable internet. But I do not want that, I want the AE to become part of my existing network so I can stream music to it while being on the internet normally through my home's wireless network. And it doesn't want to do that. Sure the green light flashes on when I set my home settings, and our wireless router even claims the AE attached itself properly, but my laptop can't stream music to it. Can't even administer it anymore.

Meanwhile it seems that the wired network card on this laptop was not installed properly. Susan, could you check your Fujitsu P1120 and tell me what driver I need to install from the list?
fj: (tech)
Ten years ago, Boston's Soc.Motts Head Muffin gave me his leftover Mac SE with external monitor and hard disk and modem when I left the house he had so graciously opened to me while I found a place of my own. I got an Unlimited Local Calling Plan (Unlimited! Just like free refills! Would these wonders of the American Way of Consuming ever cease?) and for the first time this lovechild of Gladys and the Internet could read Usenet at home by dialing in to his provider in Cambridge, SPDCC. I knew the owner.

Then [ profile] pinkfish came over and we moved in together and we bought this custom built tricked out PC. It's Intel chip ran over 200MHz, and we splurged on 128Mb of memory and Windows NT 4.0. I still used dial up to be on Usenet, IRC, and Telnet, and I still knew the owner of my dial up.

Then we bought a condo and we moved and we got DSL. Over the years the service was great, but dealing with Verizon was a nightmare. Still on the big computer, which our house guest exercised at night. I think he got the most keyboard time on it.

Then I started to work for Nokia and bought my Toshiba Libretto 110CT to take to work, with a dreadful CDPD card (11Kbps, effectively, bursty, lossy). I wanted wireless surfing at home, so I scored this set of wireless PCMCIA cards for 2Mbps wireless, bought a PCI-to-PCMCIA card so I could shove one of them into the big box that was on DSL, downloaded a program that made Windows 2000 (Windows 2000! It sucked but it rocked after NT 4.0) share the super fast DSL, and now I could surf in the living room. Somehwre in the comingt years I dropped the Libretto and then redecorated it.

Then I realized we were a magnet for intrusions, or soon would be, and I scored off eBay -- I could now do eBay! And get bargains! -- an IBM Butterfly because it was cute with its folding keyboard, and I proceeded to put OpenBSD on it and configure firewall rules. This took 4 solid weeks of me sitting at a desk in the evenings trying to get it to work, mostly because until then I had only been a UNIX user and had no idea what was involved in being a super-user. I got all impressed by terms like hardening and rule-chains and got lost in contradicting HOW-TOs that weren't, because OpenBSD people were supposed to already know OpenBSD. This is where I learned JWZ's lesson the hard way, and that it applies to not just Linux: All open-source and free software is free if your time has no value. But by the end I understood firewalls a lot better and how NAT worked and the house was safe.

Then I bough a set of proper 802.11b cards, and suddenly my laptop, and [ profile] pinkfish's laptop, and the big box were all wireless. And so fast -- we could saturate the DSL! One day on the bus back from Burlington I installed the AOL thingie on the Libretto, called AOL and gave them my credit card, and from then on all 3 of us could make the AOL m4m chatrooms unsafe. The house guest still logged the most keyboard time, usually when Australians were awake. I still have an IRC acquaintance in Canberra from that.

Then I got tired of being a sysadm for the firewall and I bought, for a hundred bucks or so, an Linksys ethernet router with a built-in firewall. I knew what smurf-attacks and Stateful Packet Inspection were, so I could find a tiny consumer-electronics-like box that didn't say on the side that its apex of security was how it implemented NAT. I also scored, off eBay, a wireless access point for 68 bucks -- an eBay bargain! -- while Apple was still selling Airports for 200 or so and Nokia's access point was projected to cost a 1000 bucks, right before they woke up to Apple having changed the rules of the game and canning the whole division. My access point had no brand, came from Taiwan, needed to be configured with an arcane program I was always losing the disk of, but was tiny and just worked. Exit butterfly, and everyone including the TiVo had 802.11 and there were extra network jacks for when the page that purrs was still being served from our bedroom closet. [ profile] pinkfish can now do webcam shows from all over the house, like when he used to fold laundry. By now, the indestructable Butterfly had a completely busted hinge from being half-open all the time.

Then we got Comcast digital broadband, and we ditched the house guest and Verizon DSL. One could say telephony was out in our household. Now I have a phone plan that is unlimited everything, not just local, and I've been in the US long enough to not be impressed. And you only get free refills on sodas, which I no longer drink anyway because they either made me fat or tasted like aspartame, so who wants unlimited more of that? I repurposed a broken Sony laptop to run Fedora Core 2 -- you install that on a laptop with a broken screen -- and realized I still know crap all about how to maintain a UNIX box properly, but the installers are way prettier. This box ran an internal caching DNS and DHCP services so as to first of all deal with the fact that Comcast's shiny new digital cable infrastructure had DNS servers that fell over every 5 minutes, and so that the known machines in the house always got the same IP address and I could keep track where everything was. This install took a week or three as well.

Yesterday I got a box from Netgear. It has even faster wireless (B and G), an advanced firewall with the latest SPI rules, a built in DHCP server that also allows me to set fixed addresses for my known boxes, and does almost everything my Linksys box, my Taiwanese no-name access point, and my Sony VAIO DHCP server did, with a single interface that needs no wizards or crap installed. It doesn't cache DNS look-ups, I think, but Comcast has their act together now, so I do not need it. Time to set up, including shiny new 128bit WEP keys: one hour and a half because I was trying every options. Cost: 34 dollars, free Super Saver Shipping.
fj: (tech)
[ profile] pinkfish is out dancing in 1850 this weekend, so I am alone. I told him to be careful and please not take any of those dreadful diseases they had in 1850 home. I am sure I have an historian reading this who could tell me what things I should look for. Fortunately, he's going to be doing a book-planning retreat on Monday about advanced semantic-web technologies, so basically he'll be spending that day in the future. This antidote should get him in a reasonable state for when we live, as he comes home Monday night late.

80s and frickin humid. Still dealing with cable outages. Last noght was a bad one after the storm, the customer service rep told me he was getting calls from all over our neighbourhood. Well, he's been getting those for the last month now, but yesterday there wasn't even tiling and popping and intermitten internet, it was all just dead. I'm celebrating its return by listening to 80s music on a shoutcast stream, while I install Win2KSP4 on the new mini-laptop. Bought it 2nd hand off eBay, and it arrived 3 days before Fujitsu is to announce its sweet sweet successor for this 3 year old current configuration. Burglaries can really screw up your upgrade cycle.
fj: (angry)
Have just been broken into while we slept. Dean heard the slam of the front door as they left. All biological entities ok, but all work & personal laptops stolen save the printserver in the closet (currently being used for this), my mobile phone is gone too.

Don't bother sending me email or calling my cell, it'll be a while.
fj: (tech)
(And don't tell me The Right Thing is to ditch for Linux. I haven't enjoyed my Linux experiences much, and I have a GPRS card and random Firewire cards to run on this subnotebook.)

Coming from a technical UNIX background it seem intuitively obvious not to run as root in this dangerous world. This wasn't always an option on Windows at all, and not very practical on Win2K when it runs the personal machine with which you constantly explore new programs. Work machine, sure, you actually have to go through a special procedure at Nokia to get Administrator rights on the standard Win2K image on the desktops. And I fully understand why: keeping 40K users from corrupting the Intranet and taking everybody down is not just a matter of avoiding nuisances, it is vital to the company. I remember the pain we suffered when mail wasn't working for a day or two, and I understand that Nokia Business Infrastructure is in no mood to re-live those days just because somebody needs weatherbug in their task bar tray.

I am basically the sysadm at home. So I try to explore best practices some. And I don't click on received executables and I don't click "OK" on pop-up windows for a Bonzi Buddy -- if I even see them, I asked [ profile] pinkfish to switch to Firefox as soon as I had tested it out and knew it would do. You see, for me safe computing is about avoiding nuisances, but Dean makes money off our home network, and I always need to make sure that best practices don't get in his way.

So now that we are both on XP I am experimenting with having my daily account have Power User priviledges, and no more. To stay safe. SO nothing I may run or do can hose the machine, it just hoses the 'fj' account. I did make an Administrator account -- which I couldn't call 'Administrator', much to my chagrin, because XP says that account already exists eventhough I can't find it. And XP allows a user to easily switch accounts without having to shut down work like 2K made you do. And even as 'fj' I can run an install as Administrator by right-clicking and selecting 'Run As...' and entering the Administrator account credentials.

Actually, not quite. If I download a program I want to install under the 'fj' account, I first have to move it to the Shared Documents directory, and do 'Run As...' Administrator from there, because if I try to run it with Administrator priviledges from the 'fj' desktop, the execution will always fail because the Administrator account can't see 'fj''s files. Some root that is.

So I make the install work by running it from the right place with the right credentials -- most installations insists on being run with full Administrator powers -- and then most will leave program shortcuts on everyone's desktops. Which I can't remove from 'fj''s Desktop. Logged in as 'fj', I do not have the priviledges to remove a shortcut that an Administrator left. Logged in as an Administrator account, I cannot access 'fj''s Dektop. Obviously I have to give the Administrator account access to 'fj''s files, but I can't find the Properties tabs for that.

I am sure there is a way, but the second problem is that many applications are not happy being run by someone else than the account that installed them, and certainly not with fewer priviledges. I tried out Dean's new webcam and I installed the application software fine -- as Administrator -- but the shortcuts on 'fj''s Desktop simply would not run.

Doing The Right Thing is turning into a pain. I think I may delete the Administrator account soon after I add 'fj' back to the Administrator group. XP may be ready for lesser priviledged users running as default, but the vendors are not.
fj: (Default)
Funny thing is, she wonders whether she measures up to herself, having traded frenetic fashionable kitchens for a mom's life in the suburbs, now including a part time job cooking for a bagel place. All I could say after having sampled her roast whole pig and the chicken at this amazing busy and joyous party, as well as the canned jams and her homemade sauce she sent me home with, is that these bagel-buying people are getting some damned fine soup. I'll be lucky if I don't end up eating that barbeque sauce with a sppon right out of the jar. Damn good show, [ profile] tamidon. She and [ profile] feste_sylvain get 50 poly queer folk to hang out with many ending up in her warm hot tub in the freezing cold, and she wonders whether she is still hip. Geezus.

The new experience for me was having an almost-three-year-old use me as a jungle gym. I must be getting milder in my old age, because I thought it was fun. Usually kids those age are scared of me and hide behind their parents, and start to cry if I get too close (including actually this kid himself), so I didn't exactly expect MorganQuinn to keep climbing when he headbutted me -- much to his mother's horror, which amuses me to no end as she knows -- as he tried to make his way up the back of the couch I was sitting on. Well, this climb was going nowhere so he asked for some help, and he let me put my hands under his armpits so I could lift him off the ground and over the back. Somehow I forgot to put him down somewhere that wasn't on me, seeing as the couch was full, and he ended up standing on my chest while I was lying down, my arms stretched out still holding him under his armpits as he was not exactly on solid ground. When I tried to put him down he kept his feet on my chest so he basically ended up falling backwards on the couch in a very controlled fall as I was holding him all the way. This was too much fun and thus needed to be repeated ten times. Fine with me, MorganQuinn ain't heavy and I like it when these kids do something else towards me than wonder if I am going to eat or bore them. I think he felt comfortable being around me since there were so many people and children around already having fun with each other.

Not a good computing weekend: last week I dropped the Fujitsu P1120. Alas, I did that while it was open, so the hard drive head wasn't safely parked. The hard drive has been deteriorating all this week, now it bluescreens in 30 minutes. Time to talk to the support lines again. And still nobody makes an affordable subnotebook like it, unless I want to buy direct from Japan. No data will be lost, I have learned my lesson: the network has been mirroring all my data since the last hard disk replacement.
fj: (talking)
So now I am handy Finnish phrases for my trip tomorrow, but there's no pronunciation guide. I have been told people mostly grunt anyway.

I am also witnessing for the first time [ profile] pinkfish taking apart his laptop, which he does every two days or so now. I find it inmensly scary to watch him remove all those parts and screws. I can't wait for his new IBM Thinkpad to arrive. Those are solid.
fj: (tech)
Well, my habit of dragging my laptop everywhere has worked its magic again: this laptop's disk is lsowly dying. Well, two years of filling up an NTFS disk with MP3 without ever defragging is not a good idea to begin with; you end up with too little space to do the defragmentation and an $Mft catalog file that is too big to manage, and won't shink anyway because these catalog files are not designed to shrink. BUt once the harddisk is that b0rked, writing errors do not allow you to use any tool long enough to fix anything.

I had to make an emergency floppy to use the image on the hidden partition to start over on my harddisk. Twice, because the SP1 update and lingering file system problems made my machine unable to boot. I have just installed the 40 critical updates Microsoft recommends for my two year old version of XP on that image.

Still, XP is reporting "write delay" failures. One every 3 hours or so. This system is dying.
fj: (Default)
My laptop is refusing to boot, it will go in for service tomorrow (thanks as always for helping me out, [ profile] pinkfish). The result is that I can't get to some email that was already downloaded. So, I owe some people some responses.

(BTW, AFAIK and my lawyers have told me, no RIRs are being done anymore because there have been too many lay-offs in the economy. It is all LCA processes now. Will reply more later when I can get your email again.)
fj: (tech)
Ugh. Picturebook needs new OS to become fileserver. Tried to re-install Win2K, made the mistake of converting disk to NTFS, forgetting that Picturebooks have problems with that. Picturebook will not boot from USB floppy, will not boot from firewire CD, will only boot from harddisk which loads firewire driver and then expects Win2K disk to finish installation, which will fail at the "Installing Devices" screen, which will then reboot and try again in endless loop.

This model can only boot from the special PCMCIA CD-Rom drive I do not posess. I am close to trying to find an OS I can put on a memory stick to see if it will boot from that. I may have to give this thing up as unrecoverable.
fj: (angry)
The Picturebook's screen now totally died. I did the smart thing and ordered a Fujitsu Lifebook 1120. Sony Picturebooks are no longer available in the US. I resisted temptation to buy an overpriced Sony U101 on eBay, or inconveniencing somebody in Japan (Hi [ profile] nexxcat!) to send it to me, just to get a tiny cute laptop I can't get serviced here. For the money I saved I got the extended battery, extended warranty, and an extra AC, and still have money left over instead of getting a bare machine for which I would have to purchase Windows XP Home English since it comes preloaded with XP Japanese. For stupid, useless, vanity, materialistic tech-toy expense, I did the sensible thing.

(Gawd, I so wanted the U101).

BTW, I am checking my email on my phone now. It is all I have.


Oct. 14th, 2002 10:49 pm
fj: (Default)
So the new laptop came in from the insurance for the break in. Of course, the BestBuy claims handling dept.'s best match for our decrepit box comes in with a 30 gig disk, a 1400x1035 screen, and a 1.1 GHz chip. It's just a little overspecified to be our print server. A tad. I think [ profile] pinkfish should migrate to it. Only problem is that this low-end Compaq laptop weighs plenty much.

Have to say that it was a joy to set up. Bright screen, and XP grew on me fast, actually. There's a very designed balance about its sensibilities: still cartoony like all WIMP environments are, but less superfluous 3D, less un-necessary constricting little black lines around everything, more letting solid colors function as boundaries. (In fact, it looks like [ profile] pinkfish is migrating to it. The screen just renders text beautifully.) Tufte once wrote a tract for IBM of how he thought a WIMP environment should look. I think I could pummel XP into actually coming damn close to his vision.

Makes me want a big screen to work on too. The picturebook travels so well, but feels ... restricting. I can drive an external screen up 1600x1200 with it. Maybe I should get an LCD I ca attach to an arm on the wall in my little office corner in the room, so it can be swung out of the way when I am not working. Need more money. Then again LCDs be attached to standard VGA connectors?

New digicam came in too, the best they coukd patch my DSC-P1 with was a DSC-P7. O-kay!

Been reading Life of Riley, a webcomic influenced by Penny Arcade, but still finding its form. About as bad at gags as Penny A -- which is saying something -- but great mythical storyline. The kids in it make me want to partially dye my hair again. Feels ridiculois because a) my hairs is currently too short for foils, and foild is the only way to go for a good-looking partial job b) I am so past the station of a gaming kid starting out in adulthood that I think I'll end up looking like I am trying too hard c) can a lead integrator for a Nokia product group look like a gaming kid and still get people to take him seriously?

Christ, I need to be a researcher again. Industry is limiting my fashion choices.


Sep. 19th, 2002 08:17 pm
fj: (Default)
Harry Ugol introduced me to Gladys, Godess of Parking Spaces, in 1992. Before we knew it we were attributing every piece of synchronicity in our lives to Gladys.

I haven't though about her in years. It is sympromatic of the loss of magic in my life. Say what you want about (leather)faeries, but the right dosage of belief in magic, purpose, or meaning, can lighten any load. Well, in my life at least.

Anyway, in the midst of the throes of a friend being contacted strangely by a company, I get mail from another friend whom I haven't emailed with in months. Works for the same company. I put them in touch.

I have been thinking about getting the quad-capacity battery for my VAIO Picturebook. 15.5 hours of juice on it, max -- yeah right, if all you do is look at your background picture or something. Still, it is nothing to sneeze at. Now my existing and ever punier-getting battery on the Picturebook refuses to charge. At all. If I disconnect from power, my machine dies on the spot. I'd better get a new battery.

So Gladys, what are you telling me, and are you here to stay for a while?
fj: (Default)
Oooh, nice weekend. First I installed Win2K on the VAIO picturebook, which works really well and even looks better than WIndows ME thanks to the new drivers, but all the already installed programs no longer work. Darn. Guess I'll have to blow them away when I uninstall ME. Wonder how to do that.

Then [ profile] pinkfish and me went to the cape. We took the ferry to Ptown where the lovely and talented [ profile] bubblebabble was ready to take us to his ancestral home where the lovely and talented [ profile] bitty awaited us with assembelable burritos. I, fortunatly, had brough the picturebook becasue oh boy, did these two need a fix. We spent a lovely evening in the scenic middle of nowehere, which made me feel like I was in an Enid Blyton. (Who else here read Enid Blytons? Who else will admit their addiction? And I even had to read them translated into Dutch.)

We slept naked, barely coved in sheets, witha fan running air from outside over us, playing with our fur. I was awakened way to early to be sociable -- this was the first night I slept really well -- and [ profile] pinkfish had of course already run to the beach and back. As we went for brunch, ok, breakfast, in a de ad Provincetown at 10 AM or so, poor Bitty kept asking me if something was wrong. I wish Dino had really impressed on her how little I do mornings.

The couple went to Bitty's parents, Dino and me took a little shuttle to the beach. We walked, we lay down, we sunned, we each took an unsatisfying jaunt into the dunes, we cooled off in the water, we hurt our legs on the pebbles walking back, and in the shuttle back we noticed a new trend in gay men accessorizing: I Am Butch, Just Check My Dog.

Perhaps it is as an anti-reaction to the stereotype of the fluffy poddle, but good god, there was just a plethora of boxers and dobbermans and pitbulls and Big Ugly Dogs with lowhanging balls. And I am not saying that every dog was purchased as an accessory or unloved, but there sure was a trend there.

We're back, happy to read [ profile] slinkr and Kelly are home safe, and sad to read about [ profile] thaaang's troubles.


Aug. 15th, 2002 08:49 pm
fj: (Default)
Sony sent me back the Vaio Picturebook, but when I start it up, after introducing Windows ME, it turns into a white screen with an hourglass cursor and a small red x in the corner. There's some intermittent disk activity, like it was setting up something, but now it is just sitting there like that. I wonder what to do. Perhaps I should go on the net and find out.

So on the eve of their move [ profile] drevilmoo's partner broke breaks his finger. Bummer.

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