The Dysmey Blog
The personal weblog of Andy West.

June 2009
« May   Jul »
Jury Duty II
Filed under: General, Politics, Work
Posted by: Andy @ 8:06 pm

laptop printing

First off, I want to report the success of setting up the new Laptop Printing Service. Unlike the old service with its remote server, the LPS server is local and on-campus. In fact it is so local that you must log on to use it, and you can’t do that unless you have a University account. Only one public printer uses it right now, but if it works as we want it, all five public printers will convert to the new system by the start of the fall semester in late August.


Our Cardinal Scholar institutional repository had been getting between one and three spam user accounts every week. By “spam account” I mean those created under the same nonsense word in the title, personal and family names. After exhausting technical fixes to block this, and getting nowhere asking the EPrints tech forum for help, I got leave to fix the repository, so as to remove the new account form and to pass e-mail requests for user accounts to the archivists for their approval.

jury duty

Today I had to take another day off to go to jury duty at Grant County Superior Court #2.

It was serious this time: Judge, bailiff, recorder, county prosecutor (with detective), defense attorney and defendant, all in back of a long room in front of rows of chairs, mostly plastic. The front two rows of six chairs were hard wood: They are for the jury when the final twelve were picked out of the thirty-odd people who showed up.

I am not at liberty to discuss the trial. I can say that one of the pertinent questions asked to the potential jurors was, If a woman stopped at an auto-teller machine in a dimly lit quarter during the night, is she asking to be robbed? The answer is obvious — No — even if it were foolish to do so (by anyone). The charges were more serious, but the point was the same. And the defendant is deemed innocent by law until proven guilty by the State beyond all reasonable doubt.

Out of the first set of twelve potential jurors, who were asked questions by the prosecutor and defense attorney, half of them were dismissed, probably due to their reaction to the nature of the charges. I was among the six that filled their seats, after which was a fifteen minute break.

The Grant County Office Complex is the most boring place that you could ever hope to find yourself in. After getting a drink of water and finding myself with nothing to do, I returned to my assigned seat and stared at the microphone perched on a stand a meter in front of me. I will tell more on the relevance of this in a moment.

When the break was over, the two attorneys, assuming we had listened to the longer discourses and questions to the first set of potential jurors, gave us a summary and questions only, as well as asking us about our occupations and hobbies. After that, another six potential jurors were excused — including me!

I thought at first that I had managed to creep out the defendant, who may have been watching me stare at the microphone without blinking during the whole break. I tend to do things like that. Madre, however, gave me an alternative explanation: The attorneys concluded that, as a computer guy, I think too much. They may have feared that I might want to ponder over the evidence too long, bringing about a hung jury.

So much for my civic duty. They will not call me back again until the cycle of jurors is run again in two years time.

I remarked in a previous entry about the downtown having abandonned buildings. After leaving the Complex, I have driven around the downtown to reach Washington Street. I admit that I was premature in saying that. The buildings around the Courthouse have been repainted and remodelled, so that they make the downtown look vibrant. Now the city pillars need to do some work south of Fifth Street, the blocks of which look like a ruin and which is the first thing I and others see when they drive up Adams Street. And I am still right about the south of the city.

Comments Off
Wirework Part I
Filed under: General
Posted by: Andy @ 11:21 am

The combination of weed-and-feed chemicals and my semi-persistent weeding have brought the dandelion and timothy weed population under control. The grass I rake up after using the new mower nicely fills a 50-gallon yard bag.

I bring this up because, in my enthusiasm to clear out the grass along the west side of the house with my grass shears, I cut the telephone cable that serves the living room. I did not find this out until I investigated why the upstairs phone was ringing and the downstairs one was not, or why the answering machine would not kick in.

The upstairs cable is undamaged, so I still have Internet access for my main box. Nor is my downstairs box affected, because it communicates with my router via wireless modem. With that in view, I reconnected my answering machine upstairs.

Still, I will have to repair the downstairs cable. This will be a tough task, because it winds behind and underneath the faux chemney before it enters the house. Also, I will need to find a metal or tough plastic conduit to sheave any new cable, so that I do not sever the cable again.

This affords me an opportunity to wire a network cable from the upper room to the living room, laying conduit down from the upper room to protect the cabling. Then I can connect the downstairs box directly to the network and dispense with the wireless stuff. Why? It is not because my wireless network is insecure, not after the work I did to make it secure. It is because wireless networks are a constant target for all those think-of-the-children whackos in legislatures, including Congress itself, which cooked up such a bill last March.

Anyway, I drove to Lowe’s on Saturday to look at sheathing for the new wires. The best I could find was the Carlon Carflex ½-inch conduit, which is flexible, waterproof, and capable of withstanding nicks and cuts (as I found when I tried to cut a sample). It is not that expensive provided you buy a 100-foot roll for $41.

Next I will look for a couple of outlet plates with both RJ-11 (telephone) and RJ-45 (network) outlets. If the plates have an outlet for coax for cable/antenna, that would be a plus.

Comments Off
Jury Duty
Filed under: General, Politics
Posted by: Andy @ 10:06 pm

jury duty

Today I had to take the day off because I was called to jury duty at Grant County Superior Court #2.

The courtroom was in the highest floor of the County Office Building because the judge mandated thus until the Courthouse itself be cleansed of the mold and mildew that was making everyone there sick, including the judge himself. The County is in dire financial straits; but the expense of cleaning out the Courthouse beats having an abandoned building in the center of a downtown that already has enough abandoned buildings.

So, at noon I drove to Marion north from Fairmount. I drove up Adams Street,

— past the abandoned RCA/Thompson plant with its plain of concrete parking lot riddled with grassy cracks,

— past the water park where a United Technologies Essex plant once stood,

— past residences in various states of repair and habitation,

— and finally into the forlorn downtown itself.

I parked the car and entered the building, joining a half-dozen other potential jurors in front of two elevators. The elevators are very tiny, having room for only three people at a time. (The complex was built in the days before high-fructose corn syrup.) At the sixth floor was the big hall, in front of which was this metal detector next to a faux-wood and metal table. The woman sitting there signed us up, then told us that there was a continuance, meaning the trial was postponed. We were given a receipt proving that we showed up, and told we could go.

t-mobile cracked

I discovered thru Slashdot that T-Mobile, my cellphone provider, may have been cracked in a very bad way this weekend. We are talking proprietary operating data, customer databases and financial records, which the crackers stupidly tried to sell to T-Mobile’s competitors. What makes them think a competitor would want to get in trouble with the FBI for buying stolen property?

Here is another take on the T-Mobile crack. T-Mobile itself is quiet about the crack, especially as the news has bubbled up into the mainstream press.

state budget cracked

Well, the budget for the State of Indiana is cracked in the collective head. One side accuses the other (and the governor) of chicanery. The other side accuses its opponents of grandstanding. This is the ethos of Indiana’s legislature going into a special session this coming Wednesday.

A budget has to be agreed to by July 1, or the State government will shut down. This includes Ball State, my employer; at worst, I may end up with an unpaid vacation. Needless to say, there will be no new car to be bought right now, since my savings may be required as backup support while I wait for … those people … to quit bitching at each other and write up a budget for … that person … to sign into law.

note to self: do not use chrome

There are people who believed that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) had forsaken any development on the tags that underlie all Web pages. These people founded the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG) to carry one that development with the goal of a new standard, HTML5. After apparent neglect of its XHTML2 project, an uproar on its latest accessibility standard and the emergence of microformats, the W3C conceded its neglect and agreed in 2007 to join with the WHATWG to help it work on HTML5.

The problem is that in doing so, WHATWG exposed itself to the corporate meddling that had brought about the neglect in the W3C. This is especially evident in the way that HTML5’s <video> tag is supposed to work. The WHATWG wanted to use the open-source video codec Ogg Theora; but a patent FUD campaign from Apple and Nokia forced WHATWG to scuttle the codec. That brought about an uproar that has hardly cooled down. The Mozilla Foundation has ignored it, incorporating Ogg Theora in its upcoming Firefox 3.5 release.

Now we have Google, which is incorporating the <video></video> tag in its Chrome browser. To make the tag work better, Google is using a codec called FFmpeg. FFmpeg is available under LGPL. The problem? Google obtained a patent license to use FFmpeg. Under LGPL, if a patent license does not allow royalty-free redistribution of the FFmpeg library, then FFmpeg must be dropped. Google does not see why it should drop the codec, nor does it see why it should consult the Free Software Foundation (FSF) (the authors of LGPL) on this matter. This is causing another uproar; and it is likely that the FSF will look into the matter, whether Google likes it or not.

As for myself, I will not put up with this nonsense. I will not install Chrome on my home box, and will remove it from my work box. Firefox 3.5 will not be out until the end of the year. And, frankly, I am not all that excited about the <video> tag, anyway. Why isn’t <object> enough?

Comments Off
Omedetô gozaimasu, Mink-san!
Filed under: General
Posted by: Andy @ 12:17 pm

I would like to extended belated congratulations to Maiko ‘Mink’ Covington on her wedding and on her new and happy life.

The wedding of the Mink was on 8 May 2009 in a park near the University of Illinois Champlain-Urbana campus where she works. But I only now discovered on a rare revisit to her blog.

I doubt she would remember me, as it has been years since I translated her ‘ideal society’ stuff into a Web page (still reachable, but as a text file, at here). But I do remember her from her remembrances of life in high school in Japan.

I would visit her Web site (when it was on the fondly remembered TCP.COM, also known as Venice) and then blog (on LiveJournal) frequently until several years ago. Now I visit every couple of months or so, as her entries became less frequent. That was why the wedding caught me by surprise. It caught a lot of other people off guard, too, judging from some of the comments.

But that does not stop me from wishing the Mink the best in her future life. :)

(I would have liked to do the congratulations on her blog; but it only allows LJ users to do that; and I ditched LJ, objecting to its current overlords.)

Comments Off