The Dysmey Blog
The personal weblog of Andy West.

January 2009
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Big Snow 2009
Filed under: General, Politics, Work
Posted by: Andy @ 11:22 pm


I knew in my head that it would snow very heavily. I just did not conceive that it was snow so much. It has been a long time since we had so much snow. When I woke up this morning, I looked out the back door and realized that I was not going anywhere. There was a foot (⅓ meter) of snow all over the yard, all over the streets, and no doubt all the way to Muncie.

First, I called work to let them know that I was not coming in. Then I waited for the snowfall to subside, doing some work remotely from my main box. Then I dug myself out: Front sidewalk, deck, path to the basketball court where I park my car, around the car, and down the alley (about seven meters) to the street. I dug out the shed because I needed the cat carrier inside (I have that vet appointment on Friday). I also dug a path to my neighbor’s front porch to let the mail carrier get to it.

Over the next day I have widened the path from the court to the alley to give my car more manuvering room. But it has not been enough: I got stuck in the snow this evening trying to drive into the alley. I left my shovel next to the deck, so I dug myself out and made it to the court.

The snow will be with us for the next few days. The winds have picked up, so drifts appear on roads in the treeless areas. It makes the state roads and the main county roads slick and dangerous, and makes the others impassable. Wheeling Pike is out of the question, so I am compelled to travel by interstate to Muncie and back.


Last Saturday I was called by my boss (well, one of them) to investigate a problem at the main library where I work. All the public printers were not printing, and all the print-job release stations had error messages. I found that I could not access the print server remotely. So I drove down to the library, went to the server room, and walked right in. Whoomp! After driving and walking in the cold, the blast of hot air — and we are talking over 95°F (35°C) — smacked me in the face. The air-conditioning unit had shut down, and the equipment was roasting in its own heat. The print server itself, an HP server, was shut down by a temperature sensor that comes with those HP servers.

I called my boss (the other one), who in turn called the sysadmin, and between the three of us got the room cooled down enough to turn the print server back on. The A/C unit itself, we learned later, had shut down due to low water pressure from a water main break elsewhere on campus. It was already fixed, so all we had to do was turn the A/C back on.

I will be doing another Saturday trip. This time I have to install some software on the iMacs, as well as to carry out the new guest policy on computer use, under which the iMacs are now banned to guests. I cannot do this while getting under the students’ feet, so I will have to do this on Saturday morning.

home boxes

I found an old hard drive that used to be part of my last Gateway computer before I sold it to my sister the teacher. I wanted the hard drive (or at least its box) out of the way. So, I installed the hard drive on my main box, Madoka. I have just doubled the capacity of Madoka. But what I am going to do with all that space, except use it as virtual memory?

It would probably be more useful to just pull the hard disk out and install it inside Nabiki, the other computer downstairs. But, again, what would I do with all that space?

cheap lcd bulbs may be coming

The Brits have found a way to make cheap quality light-emitting diodes, paving the way for el-cheapo LED lightbulbs for much, much less than the thirty dollars I paid for my rather dim 36-LED light bulb.

compulsory national service — no, already!

The old man whose columns appear in the local paper is pushing for compulsory national service again, this time with a full article. I have already stated my reasons for rejecting compulsory national service. I do, however, want to touch on the guy’s claim that service would do wonders for the unemployment rate. Since when does slavery count as employment? Besides, this would not be an issue if American companies did not export all kinds of jobs overseas. Americans should be working on jobs making goods and services for Americans. Let companies create jobs for the young to work for good wages instead of having to forcibly conscript them for crap pay.

outsourcers getting what they deserve

Micron/Gateway, whose carcass the credit vultures are now picking apart, is one of those companies that put their faith in outsourcing manufacturing to China. Now it and other such companies, who made outsourcing a profit-saver, are caught between the high price of transport, the eventual lack of quality and (in the end) the lack of available credit. I am not at all sorry for what happened to them. I am sorry for those who lost their jobs.

whither olpc?

The founder of the project One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) laid off half his staff early this month and ditched its Sugar interface. Now he wants to begin again with what amounts to OLPC 2.0. The two articles (one and two) about this are overly long, so I present the Slashdot summary:

In early January, the One Laptop Per Child Foundation laid off half its staff and shed work on the Sugar graphical interface. Now, OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte and president Chuck Kane for the first time detail the foundation’s new plans, describe how the XO laptop will do what netbooks can’t do, and share their hope to keep working with Sugar developer Walter Bender, who left OLPC last year.

The responses are underwhelming, mostly along the lines of at this point, there will be no OLPC 2.0 because OLPC 1.0 is dead monkey meat. One figured that Walter Bender would tell Negroponte, à la his Futurama namesake, to bite his shiny metal ass. Others compare the XO-1 unfavorably to the Asus EEE netbook — never mind that if it were not the XO-1, the EEE and other netbooks would likely not have seen the light of day.

I myself applauded the concept of the XO-1 and its Sugar interface. It would have worked well in environments that would kill a laptop: Too hot, too wet or dry, little or no electrical grid, little or no telephony grid. And it was meant to be cheap to build and easy to use.

However, the idea of all those poor kiddies with cheap and easy laptops caused a lot of soiled pants at Microsoft, Intel, AMD and the other big computer/software giants. That was expected. What was unexpected was Negroponte caving in like a shack built on beach sand in a storm. The programming folks watched in horror as the project was subverted from within. In the face of what they saw as the treachery of its leader, those programmers turned its back on the project.

Negroponte expressed hope for the future of his project. The people he would need to rely on to make that hope real see it otherwise, as express by this Slashdotter:

For me the complete 180[°] they’ve done has made me write them off completely as a useless relic of what happens when you completely lose sight of your goal to the point you start to believe the ends justify the means. RIP OLPC.

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January Jumble
Filed under: General
Posted by: Andy @ 10:19 pm

achey kitty

I have been giving medication to my cat Isis. It had allowed her to be her normal self. After the meds ran out, however, Isis’ back became achey again. The bitter cold did not help. Isis made it onto the bed at first, but now she is under the bottom stair all day because that stair affords back support. I had no choice but to call the vet to arrange a visit to some other vet in Anderson who specializes in small-animal backs.

I, family tech support

I got the folks’ wireless and Internet connections fixed in the end. Basically, I had to reset the router to its factory default settings, then to reconfigure the router. And I got my sister Vickie’s laptop connectable to my folks’ wireless. At least I thought I did. Anyway, it was too late to make any difference to Vickie, who found the driver for her laptop’s Ethernet port, which was enough to give the laptop fast enough Internet access to quickly download the remaining drivers.

All this trouble for Vickie came about because she insisted on Windows XP in place of Vista that came with the laptop. I don’t blame for not wanting Vista. Vista is the type of crap you use because you have to, not because you want to. I have already pondered over Vista’s unwieldiness, its paranoid security, and its Hollywood-mandated digital rights management. Vickie tried out Vista for an hour or two before deciding to switch over to Windows XP.

I think it is ironic of her choosing for her laptop a version of Windows (XP) that she had been avoiding like a disease. She had hung on to Windows 2000 on her main box for soooo long because she does not trust XP and its authentication scheme. Maybe she will give XP a shot on the main box when the unavoidable comes when she needs to reinstall Windows.

pitch black on sci-fi

I watched as much as I could of Pitch Black on the Sci-Fi channel. I watched it because Vickie plans to watch it herself just to see how scary it is. I say as much as I could not out of fright (although the movie did have its moments) but because of time: Sci-Fi would splice those stupid Battlestar Galactica webisodes throughout the film, making it much longer than is. I had to miss the ending of the film because I needed to break off an hour before midnight to go to bed. I do work, you know. It looks I will have to rent the DVD to see how it ended.

adding to the bioshock wiki

For a comprehensive wiki on the video game Bioshock, the Bioshock Wiki is bare of some aspects of the game, like the maps for the last two levels. Either gamers never reached those levels, or got tired of them early and bugged out, or rushed through them too fast to think of copying maps and images of the levels. So I made an account on the wiki and uploaded a map of the Museum Gauntlet (also called the Proving Grounds).

In that level you play a heavily armed and armored Big Daddy to a Little Sister. The little girl leads you through the ruined museum, unlocking heavy metal doors as she goes. Along the way are three test subjects — corpses of businessmen — from which the Little Sister is compelled by operant conditioning to stop and extract a stem-cell slurry called Adam. In doing so she attracts splicers — insane citizens who need Adam to survive. And without the Adam-pumping slug inside her, the Little Sister is mortal. That is where you come in, Big Daddy: You protect her by beating the bejezus out of the splicers while she works. You also rig or blow up the security to keep it from attacking her. At the end of the level, near the elevator that takes you to your final enemy, the Little Sister crawls up into an air vent and hands you her syringe. You need that to defeat your enemy: He will be loaded with Adam, and you must drain him of it to defeat him.

they want to kill google

You know, for all its faults and delusions of non-evil, Google is the best thing that ever happened to the Internet. Without Google and its ability to make searching the Web such an ease, the Internet would not have growth as much as it has, and the business monkeys would not have felt the least bit of interest in it. Yet the ungrateful apelings are trying to kill Google, at least according to this Wired article reported in Slashdot.


I have never watched inaugurations: not for Bush the Elder, not for the Glorified Redneck, not for Bush the Younger, and not for Barack Obama. Just be glad I did not think of an insulting epithet for Obama like I have the others. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, even if his underlings will make a fool of him as underlings usually do.

let digital television be

It is evil to use the poor as a tool for one’s own selfish interest. The left has been doing it for a long time in pushing policies of ressentiment. Now the broadcasters are using the poor as an excuse to delay the transition to digital television less than a month from now. They have even gotten the new president and powerful congressmen on their side. But this pressure must not delay the transition to digital television and the freeing of valuable spectrum for wireless uses, just because the broadcasters do not want to give it up.

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Andy’s Birthday 2009
Filed under: General, Work
Posted by: Andy @ 12:47 am


It’s my birthday today, and let’s just say that I am one year away from being old enough to apply for membership in the AARP. It is not something to look forward to for someone of my generation. But at least I get a pork roast dinner on Sunday.


The cold this week is painful. We are talking -10°C to -20°C. I marvel that my car starts in it. The cold keeps the roads icy, so I have to drive slowly to stay out of the ditches. For that reason I have been coming in late in the morning and working late in the evening to compensate.


Work is sluggish because I have either completed projects or because projects are stymied due to odd details. In one, I would like to set up SSL for the Apache Web server that underlies an important piece of software; but I want to test this first and I cannot get the appropriate certificates for this. In another, people keep losing the ability to log on the campus network from the Macs because the Active Directory recycles its accounts fortnightly, knocking the Macs off the network and forcing me to rebind them.


My cat Isis is off the medicine now. She looked like she was doing fine at first. Now it appears that her back is achey again. She’s down under the bottom stair, where she gets back support. It is disappointing. Of course, it is possible that the cold is aggrevating her back. I will talk with the vet Monday, when I have my day off.


Last night the Grant County Council had reappointed me to the Fairmount Library Board for a term of four years. The Library Board itself could not meet last night because the library had to close early due to the blizzardy weather. By the time it will meet next Wednesday I hope to get the appointment document signed and notarized.

It is time for me to make myself familiar with Robert’s Rules of Order and to improve my handwriting for the new minutes book this year.

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Farewell, LiveJournal
Filed under: General
Posted by: Andy @ 4:30 pm

I got an e-mail from LiveJournal this afternoon.

As has been reported, we had staff cuts at LiveJournal Inc. this week. … The cuts were part of a restructuring that shifted global design and product development to the LiveJournal office in Moscow. Product decisions for the English-language site will still be made in the U.S., and LiveJournal Inc. remains headquartered in San Francisco. You can read more about the reasoning behind the restructuring here.

Here are the as has been reporteds.

I have had enough of this. I had hoped the purchase could be reversed by some other, non-Russian company buying out LiveJournal. But the current depression means that nobody has the capital to make such a purchase even if they wanted to. And now only the financial and technical folks remain in the States; all the Web talent for LiveJournal resides in bugger-all-the-world Russia.

After reading this, I closed my account this afternoon. I will have to pull out all the links to the dead blog in my Web pages. I am getting on with my life, and let Живой Журнал rot.

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New Workstation
Filed under: General, Work
Posted by: Andy @ 10:25 pm

A new server is ready for Cardinal Scholar, the university’s repository. I have been working out a way to build a new foundation, on which I can transfer the repository to the new server. I want the latest versions for Apache, Perl, and the connecting mod_perl module because they are more secure and more functional than the versions recommended on the EPrints/Win install page.

However, now that the installation disk is ready, I had to put it aside to prepare my own new workstation. We have been getting Dells for awhile until the University signed a deal with Lenovo. No: I do not do Lenovo. You do not know what might be lurking in the firmware. Thankfully I got one of the Dells that are going to staff workstations.

The mini-ITX form of computer motherboards has become widespread now. The Dell I got obviously has one such board to fit inside a case that is the size of a large textbook. I can put it on my desk, making room underneath for my feet for the first time in years. I had to clear off my desk of papers and disks, then bind the cables in black flexible tubing to keep them from entangling each other and everything else. It looks very neat and tidy at my desk.

With the Dell I have had to inherit Windows Vista, Microsoft’s dope-induced attempt at imitating Mac OS X. Kirk (my boss) has worked out the more obnoxious kinks out of the hard disk image used to load Vista on the Dell, so the security boxes come up only rarely. Only a minimum set of applications — enough to let the staff do their tasks — have been installed on the workstation, so I have had to install the stuff I need to work: TextPad (editor), WinZip (archiver), FileZilla (FTP client), Pidgin (chat client), and Spybot (anti-malware).

All in all, it was a fun day adapting my new workstation to my needs and transfering my stuff off the old workstation.

The ice is coming back to the roads, and I just barely made it back home with enough time to feed the child (and discover she has readopted her old habit of hurling) before walking to the library for the first Friends of the Library meeting of the year. It was a quiet meeting mostly devoted to the old building and how we could come up with the matching funds for a grant to renovate it.

After the meeting I had an amiable chat over the phone with the guy who managed the financial services arm of the Bank when I was working there. He resigned from the Bank three years after I was given the boot. Mostly he talked about how the current depression (it’s a little too severe to call it a recession, folks) and how it came about. I already knew about the slack regulation and human greed that brought this depression about. Anyway, it was nice to talk to him and to see that he is doing okay.

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A Look Back at 2008
Filed under: General, Politics
Posted by: Andy @ 2:20 pm






Come on, folks, there are wars all over the world, some of which have gotten a lot of attention over the years, as I have listed here. Yet, when the Israelis bombard Gaza with rocket fire in retaliation to Gazan rocket attacks on Israel, the rest of the world squeals like a stuck pig, even though it does not have any invested interest in the Palestine region. I can think of only one reason for all this morbid, neurotic interest in that land: Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around. (Zechariah 12:2 NASB) Drink up, world! See what it gets you, you race of sots!

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