Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Why Are There No New Posts?

Because I'm sick, dammit!

Doubtless some disgruntled "scientist" peeved at my raising the level of vigilance vis-a-vis the "doing science: sitting on their fat arses talking about doing science" ratio has nobbled me with a blog-disabling virus of some sort.

Either that or that sniffling sod at the local deli who makes my morning coffee has infected me.

If this is the cost of doing my hard-hitting "take no prisoners" style of journalism then I for one am not going to do it any more for a bit.

I'll post tomorrow if I have less phlegm clogging up every orifice normally allocated to respiration.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Finally! Scientists Do Some Science

Today, in a landmark moment for science, US scientists from Texas and New York did some science and invented something 30 times blacker than the current intenational standard for blackness.

They haven't figured out what you can use it for yet, but you can't have everything. There was some talk of covering stuff like spy satelites with it, but then it was pointed out that we wouldn't be able to find the damn things in the blackness of space then either. Neither is there much point in having the perfect night fighter paint job if your pilots can't find their rides until daylight. Never mind. This all detracts from the splendid trend in which scientists shift to doing science instead of talking about how other people did it wrong.

Let there be rejoicing in the streets that scientists took time out from their busy schedules and broke off renaming things for a few minutes to make hypersoot.

More Corporate Waste

I see that Sun Microsystems has just paid one billion dollars for MySQL.

I thought that everyone knew you could get it for free off the internet.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Ents Are Revolting (As Far As The Stevieling Is Concerned)

Mrs Stevie and I have just finished a marathon session with Mr DVD player, and concluded our two-week Festival of Not Letting The Stevieling Watch Confusing Japanese Cartoons by Hogging the TV.

The program so far:
The Six Wives of Henry VIII
The Other Boleyn Girl
Elizabeth R
Easy Rider
Blade Runner, the Definitive and This Time I Really, Really Mean It I'm Not Kidding Edition.

I found it hard to believe, but Mrs Stevie had not seen any of these before. She had read "The Other Boleyn Girl" and so complained bitterly about the many changes the director had made to the story. The most damning in her eyes was the making of Mary the elder sister rather than a fouteen year-old younger sibling of Anne. I explained that having a 14 year old not only married, but then prostituted to the whims of Henry VII by her family only to become pregnant by him (and thence be discarded in favour of Anne) was so un-P.C. that it would never have gotten made in today's climate. She got thin lipped and said some harsh things about me. I tried explaining that I had nothing to do with the production, but it was very much a rearguard action in what was now a full-blown rout. I struck my colours and yeilded the field.

Next up on the agenda will probably be Othello and Hamlet, both Brannaugh productions that we've not seen. Then it will be a concerted Blade Runner retrospective, since the set I was given includes three release versions of the movie and a workprint. Interestingly, the three theatrical releases are on one disc. The different scenes are automagically interpolated according to the version selected for play (a feature I've wondered at the absence of on several other movies, notably LOTR). Ridley Scott has demonstrated it can be done. Now there is no excuse for other filmmakers to not include all the versions of their movies on one disc.

The Stevieling has taken to her room complaining of an Anti-Anime bias in the visual arts division of Chateau; Stevie Ents Incorporated, and she's right.

Friday, January 11, 2008

It's A Conspiracy

Last weekend, the Stevieling and her mother spent at some sort of girls-only sleepover and kafeeklatch, meaning I had the house to myself from about 4 pm Saturday to the early afternoon on Sunday.

I only mention this because the Stevieling, no doubt under the encouragement of her mother, decided to "warm" a chocolate chip cookie in the microwave on Friday, and after only five minutes or so had succeeded in flooding the house with the acrid stench of burning chocolate. Said stench persisted at eye-watering levels throughout the weekend, ruining what should have been the perfect occasion for a game of Laundry Hamper Fashion Model. Even though I spent large portions of Saturday evening and the early hours of Sunday with a "Wind Machine" fan sucking huge volumes of (freezing) air into the house through the bathroom window and exhausting it from every other window, the stench was overpowering until around Monday night. Seeing no reason to run the heat while performing the detox protocol, I almost froze my nuts off. I also got little sleep.

Last night, Thursday, Mrs Stevie reminded me that the Stevieling was going to be absent at some sort of weekend Lutheran indoctrination camp, then made pea soup for dinner. It was a little watery, so she decided to "reduce" it a little. This is a technical cullinary term for boiling the living daylights out of whatever is judged in need of "reduction".

Sadly, the pea soup had been concocted with an ingredient list that, by design or by accident, caused the evolution of tear gas upon heating. The whole house was once again filled with a persistent stench that brought tears to the eyes, a tightness to the chest and, early this morning, a warrant from the EPA for search and seizure of toxic materials under the strictures of the Patriot Act. I'm lying about that last bit, but it was probably a near thing. Once again I was up until Azathoth knows when, windows wide open and my trusty indoor hurricane maker switched to Acceleration Rate 6.

Rising early in order to kiss the Stevieling goodbye (she'll be gone by the time I get home tonight) and hand out last minute emergency cash, I was greeted by the ghost of the pea soup reduction process, which whapped me in the face with its cricket bat as I stepped out of the bedroom.

Another weekend of miasmic sensory overload ahead then.

My spirits were raised when I stepped out of the house into a refreshing thundestorm. Gallons of water were sluicing off the house, car, trees and other scenic features every second or so, and didn't seem to be going anywhere drainage-wise. A nice flood in the basement will no doubt greet me tonight. If the fumes are soluble (the acridness might include a sulphur dioxide component and that is very soluble I seem to remember) the flood will remove some of the atmospheric problem within Chateaü Stevie. Of course, it will form dilute sulphuric acid as a result, which will attack all my metal tools. Every silver lining and all that.

Wading to the car I gained refuge from the deluge and drove to the station. The roads were crossed every so often by shallow fords and less-shallow rapids as the drains became blocked by the crap that accumulates as a result of the enlightened 1PBM1 street cleaning policy in play here. I swear that at the stop sign by the school I yeilded right of way to a large boat with a pair of giraffes poking their heads out of a hole in the wheelhouse roof. It was raining.

I parked the car and, during a lull in the downpour, raced for the aluminum shelter in the middle of the station platform at Wyandanch (Pearl of the East). The rain picked up again and an announcement was made of "mainline delays", which as we all know is LIRR code for "Mineola is flodded again". I wasn't too unhappy though. I was relatively dry, and I would catch a straight-through train to Flatbush Avenue which would mean I could get another hour's sleep.

Well, that was the plan, anyway.

I only had the choice of one of the "three-faces-three" bench seats in the middle of the train. These can get crowded and you have less leg room than a regular seat, but usually people sit two on one side, one on the other to give everyone lots of room so I wasn't really worried. This train isn't usually crowded. I was too tired to note that the train was short and I was in the head car rather than the car behind it, as I would be usually. The bonus of these seats is that, being in the middle of the car, you get thrown around a lot less than you do if you sit at one of the ends. Riding the newer cars on the LIRR is rather like being in an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, even after the "sway damper" refit the LIRR did the week after they bought the bloody things. I sat in the window seat and prepared to snooze.

At which point some idiot woman sat in the same "row", dumping her drenched canvas carry-all in the seat between us and soaking my leg with freezing cold water. I did something very uncharacteristic as a result. I grabbed the bag and threw it into the opposite seat and snarled "No! Your bag is soaking wet!"

"Is it?" trilled the woman, trying for the outrageous "didn't notice the rain" ploy.

I just snarled again and she got the point, but now I had a wet leg cooling nicely to contend with. We arrived in Farmingdale, and a guy got on who was indulging in an experiment to see if the rumours were true about earphones, volume and hearing loss. I clentched my teeth and ran my best relaxing sleep-inducer mantra. I was in the third stanza, and begining to zone out despite the morons around me when we ran into the approach for Bethpage, marked by a grade crossing, and I became aware that the airhorns for these new trains are mounted underneath the head car at somewhere around its midpoint2.

"Frznnl mrvzzzz snzzzzzzzzzzzz"
"Aaaaaaaarrrrghwasssaaaaat!" it went.

I managed to get my heart to resume its normal sinus rhythm after only about five minutes, which was just long enough for us to stop at Hicksville and board the Lumpen Masses, one of which wanted to sit opposite me. Au revoir legroom then. Folding myself into a tired, angry ball I attempted to get back to sleep. I might have made it into the currents of Lethe too, if not for the young child who had boarded sometime earlier into the seat directly behind mine and who chose this time to issue a number of pointed questions concerning the location of Flatbush Avenue Station and the time yet to elapse before we arrived there3 to its parents at volume number 11. Those questions deferred or answered, the little darling embarked on a five minute (or so) experiment in improvised jazz percussion using the seat back and the window we shared. I grimly clamped my eyes shut and attempted to develop prehensile earlobes so I could stuff them into my ears. I finally managed to get to sleep.

About three feet from the platform at Flatbush Avenue, my destination.

  1. Once Per Blue Moon
  2. LIRR operating rules call for much blowing of the horn at grade crossings because stupid people keep getting run over by trains at them
  3. A question now somewhat on my mind too as it happened

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Inappropriate Places To Answer Text Messages #1

Today, I was returning from lunch and stepped up to the revolving door serving the building only to observe a woman attempting and failing to negotiate the door while answering a text message on her handheld computer and while holding her open clamshell phone in the same hand as the handheld!

Needless to say, the door became hopelessly jammed as a result.

As a result of me collapsing in it in fits of helpless laughter at the sight.

2008 Continues To Go Down The Drain

Warning. the following post contains large amounts of stuff about computers, messing around with computers or dealing with people involved with the technical support or sales aspects of the computer industry. Expect tedium.

It has been a week of intense annoyance and zero moving forward at work.

Today I am supposed to be watching a streaming slide show from Brocade under pain of a visit from Le Boss.

This was a tortuous process involving a voyage of website discovery. Brocade's educational website has a generic sign-up page where you can set up an account with them, which is required to see their training. It turned out that the courses I was being asked to look at had a slightly different sign up process, using what was in hindsight obviously a second database of information, forming a de-facto second account for me. It took me a remarkably long time to figure that out and get registered for the courses.

Then came reconfiguring my computer from a boring Cobol-programming workstation to a state of the art telelearning center. The required browser applet installed seemingly perfectly last night, but this morning everyone else in the department is avidly watching a gripping tale of optical fabric switching in a World Gone Mad and I'm getting the audio only, and that is echoing like allgitout.

I've tried following along using a pdf of the slideshow but have finally quit in disgust on the grounds it says nowhere in my employment contract that I have to work in a Laurel and Hardy movie.

Yesterday the Sunsolve website1 kept refusing to recognise my account password. I would ask it to send me a new one it would recognise, then alter the ransom note gibberish password2 it sent back to a more friendly one, which it would then promptly forget again. At one point it refused to recognise a password it had just emailed me not two minutes before. Sun's "solution"? Open a ticket on my sunsolve account.

Which I only need to chase an open ticket on a bloody server.

With which they didn't send the "tools" CD containing the software they insist will "fix" the outstanding raid array issue and must therefore download for the sunsolve site.

Which won't respond, forcing plan "B" - intel's version of the tool (also Sun recommended).

Which downloads fine but the package it comes in won't go through the package installation utility without wittering about magic numbers and problems with them.

I tried to go with plan "C" which involves tossing the bleeding computer out of the window and calling it a day, but said computer weighs more than tha Stevieling does and the windows in the computer center do not open, probably because Sun were consulted on the design and had a desire to reduce the incidence of gravity-induced server failure.

It's all very discouraging.

  1. Sun's version of MSDN - a techie forum for clever people to tell each other about boring and confusing computer stuff
  2. e.g. BhGF8J7ms5To

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

So Much For 2008

Only eight days into it and already I've fbleeped up two important pieces of paperwork beyond recall by leaving them "for later" until expiration dates are long gone.

Rounds one and two to Mr Brain.