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February 2003
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02.27
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Sturgeon's Law.
03:21 in irk

One night, over in #~. ...


03:14 < solios> fagbot: doot for occult.
03:14 < fagbot> WHAT IF EVERYONE IN THE WORLD FLUSHED THE TOILET AT THE SAME TIME


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02.26
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On Pioneer Ten
03:43 in irk


03:21 < solios> http://amesnews.arc.nasa.gov/releases/2003/03_25HQ.html
03:21 < solios> Man.
03:21 < solios> I didn't cry this much when my great aunt died.
03:21 < phun> heh
03:21 < phun> that sucks
03:22 < phun> it's older than me
03:23 < phun> At last contact, Pioneer 10 was 7.6 billion miles from Earth, or
82 times the nominal distance between the Sun and the Earth. At
that distance, it takes more than 11 hours and 20 minutes for the
radio signal, traveling at the speed of light, to reach the Earth.
03:23 < phun> damn
03:23 < phun> it's awe inspiring
03:23 < phun> I was an astronomy major in college :)
03:27 < solios> :O
03:28 < solios> The first book I remember my father giving me to read was
Heinlein's "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel."
03:28 < solios> I'm pretty sure I was eight.
03:28 < solios> I only read it once.
03:28 < solios> And I remember every single detail, like it was yesterday.
03:30 < solios> Good shit.
03:31 < solios> I know next to nothing about the science, honestly. But the
fact we can GO THERE.
03:31 < solios> The fact that this little piece of components that WE BUILT is
OUT THERE.
03:33 < solios> That's just way the hell cooler than cool.
03:33 < solios> :)
03:34 < phun> I know
03:34 < phun> imagine what's surrounding it right now
03:34 < phun> probably absolutely nothing for millions of miles
03:34 < phun> but its relative position to us is fascinating
03:38 < solios> Dude. It's further out than the possibility of a black lesbian
phd Republican president of the united states.
03:40 < solios> Though the sociological change necissary for the latter to
occur would be just as significant as Sputnik, if you ask me. :D
03:40 <@solios> Pioneer 10 is further out than the furthest thing ever, and
then some.

I'm like a cheerleader in love with the high school quarterback when it comes to the space program. I'm a total fucking ditz and a raging fanboy, but if you stub your toe, I'm going to cry.

I'd trade my genitals for a week up there.


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02.24
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Fnord.
03:17 in irk


01:49 <@solios> fnord!
02:00 < necKro> fnordness.
02:10 <@solios> fnordical.
02:11 < necKro> fnordtastic.
02:13 <@solios> fnordilicious.
02:14 < necKro> fnorditamical.
02:15 <@solios> fnordanova.
02:15 < necKro> fnordigasmic.
02:23 <@solios> fnordiddlyumptious.
02:26 < necKro> fnordality.
02:27 <@solios> fnordapalooza.
02:28 < necKro> fnordskeezi.
02:31 <@solios> fnordfest.
02:35 < necKro> fnordnormous.
02:38 <@solios> fnordippotamous.
02:40 < necKro> fnordographic.
02:42 <@solios> fnordastrointestinal.
02:43 < necKro> fnordoxynol.
02:44 <@solios> fnordycetylene.
02:44 < necKro> fnordiceutical.
02:45 <@solios> fnordoleum.
02:49 < necKro> fnordagogic.
02:51 <@solios> fnordalumpagus.
02:54 < necKro> fnordalayas.
02:54 <@solios> fnord of seagulls.
02:55 < necKro> fnordeigner.
02:55 <@solios> fnordkern.
02:56 < necKro> (stromkern is playing here again in may!) new fnorder.
02:58 <@solios> (wouldn't that be fnord order?) fnordboy bebop.
02:59 < necKro> fnordarotti.
03:00 <@solios> fnord fighter plus ex alpha II turbo.
03:00 <@solios> special fnord edition.
03:03 < necKro> fnordal fury.
03:04 <@solios> fnord versus capcom.


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02.20
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Marching Orders: An Analysis of Motivation

SS Beehive, 1946, 19 Feb 2k3

"No more human sacrifice," she said, "I'll just have a dry martini."

Annoyance. The beehive goes in spurts, with longer and longer loops of absence and shorter and shorter loops of attendance. I'm here on business, so to speak- a friend of mine and I had made plans to hang out a long time ago and she dropped me an email this morning asking what I was up to this evening. The answer was either hammering on Fugu, my "new" OpenBSD box, fucking with my network, or not much of anything. There's about four gazillion things I should be doing- upkeep, lan layout, apache testing configurations, working on Fugu... and that's just the stuff that I would be doing if I wasn't sitting here- it's not even the To Do List.

The Beehive has outlived its usefulness- at least at this stage of the game, when everything that needs done involves pushing the metal into batch processing, or attacking one machine for serving and another for development- work that involves, in its entirety, at least two machines to be done optimally. Struggling with OpenBSD so I don't have to kill myself with it in July, when I'll be needing it. Configuring a home developmental webserver that walls off my file server from the hypothetical outside. Rebuilding a bitchbox.

In other words, Nerd Things.

I'm here because I agreed to meet here- or rather, postulated the notion. And I'm running ahead of schedule, so I have about thirty minutes to kill. This unfortunately involves being exposed to the populace, which is and is not a good thing. In lieu of my recent exposure to Paul Graham's essay (here), I'm seeing the beehive social dynamic in a new light. Additionally, after assimilating the essay and writing up my own response (filed in LOC), I got to thinking about the concept as a whole, and analyzing my own history with it.

I've never liked large groups of people- my lameness filter has a tendency to kick in and thrust me to the outside, where there's much less distraction and, hypothetically, fewer people that are going to bug me. This is an issue in the beehive, as I know so many patrons that coming here to Do Work is completely pointless anymore. Productivity- at least in a useful form- is difficult to attain when people are constantly stopping by your table and paying their regards. This is no fault of their own- I am, by all intents, misusing the coffee house these days. They're doing what you do in a place like this- meeting people and hanging out with them. I'm trying to avoid that- consequently, I've been avoiding the place.

Though it has its benefits- a musician friend of mine just handed me a CDR of his latest to rip, which piles on with some material I have been sent from Germany to examine. You get to a certain point with being Known for whatever reasons, your skills and tastes become evident, and after awhile, you don't have to go looking- material falls in your lap. Same thing happens with operating systems, applications, video material, drinks, and so on and so forth.

But I digress. Also, my headphones suck.

The timefiller point I was building to is the personal analysis of Mr. Graham's essay and the things it got me thinking about. In one sense, it's all good- as any patterns or motivations that can be gleaned from hindsight analysis can be applied to the present and future. If anything, getting another piece of the puzzle is always interesting for its own value, especially when it's just stumbled across.

People keep piling into the place- happy hour and homework are finished, time to be social.

Digression for the sake of the obvious, a downside of working in total public. The point is the back analysis- I figured out something, at least a small piece of it. Back in high school- 11th and 12th grade- I was in great physical condition. Literally. Ripped, carved, whatever- I was in excellent shape and looked it. This is no longer the case, despite the subject coming up for review on occasion. I smoke, I drink, I eat right before bed and none of it's healthy. Cyberpunk lifestyle- fitness got dropped somewhere along the line.

Fitness is a matter of personal motivation- clearly under the present conditions, the motivation is lacking. I'm different now, but the same basic desire is there. The drive, however, is not. In retrospect, this deals largely with two factors. The first being that my father is in excellent physical condition- I conditioned myself with him, as he was an immediate resource of tips, suggestions, the routine, and would encourage me without driving me into the ground. It wasn't a keep up contest- I did it and asked if I could join, and he accomodated. I wanted to be in good shape, and look like it- but I also, at the time, had ulterior motives.

These became obvious at the beginning of my senior year. Gym class. 200 inverted crunches, batman style- the only guy that could pull it off. I remember clearly some kid from the peanut gallery as I stomped out of the lockerroom (I never "walked" in gym class- I stomped, stormed, or attacked)- "Holy SHIT! Hinder got RIPPED!"

Indeed. That was part of the point, really. It was obvious, totally, that I was in shape. You don't fuck with someone that looks like he's going to leave you sore for a week. The condition registers subconcsiously. I was no athelete, but that damned sure as shit didn't make any difference. I had something to prove, and I'd proven it. The benefits were great- being in shape makes you feel good, look good, and affects your body language, endurance, and stamina in positive ways.

Then art school happened, and I had other priorities. I had also lost my fitness peer, as my dad was three hundred and some odd miles away, still doing his thing- whereas I was learning the city, learning the applications, adapting to a new social situation. Emphasis on that last. Environment and expectations changed. There was no athletic base to prove against, no fitness impetus. The priority was delisted and filed in hibernation.

I've been taking issue with my noticeable reduction in lung capacity and my lack of being in shape lately- the essay, in combination with my present line of thought, clicked these things together and gave me an insight into the underlying reasons for the change in priorities and the fact that despite the topic being under consideration on a rather frequent basis, nothing has come of it. There's no outside pressure or motivation- there's nothing to prove. It's now a matter of personal impetus with no obvious goal or, ultimately, the punk rock smugness of knowing- and proving with your presence- that you're better than your surroundings, on sheer physical merit.

My history of self motivation is essentially negative in essence- there is a wealth of things that I do for sheer enjoyment, but progress- real progress- the DRIVE to get something done and do something that is incredibly difficult, time consuming, and otherwise annoying, is born out of a desire to not necessarily demean others, but establish beyond a shadow of a doubt that I'm Better. Better in the sense that I can set my goal and achieve it regardless of circumstances or distractions. I can, given the impetus, achieve my Will with a savage sort of self-determination. Define. Redefine. Clarify. Execute.

This falls down without a sense of urgency or need- laziness kicks in and it's easier to not do a thing than it is to exert effort. The logic behind this can be broken by applicaiton of Heinlein's World's Laziest Man- you do one thing extremely well and bust your fucking ass at it to get out of doing something that you really don't want to do. Memorize a few dozen mathematics tables to get out of physical condition. Develope autopilot to get out of the stress of flying. Build a network to learn the trade without paying for it and sharpen your job skills to the point where you've maximized the time you spend at work getting Better.

That sort of thing.

Reangle with an eye towards the discovery- motivation is most successful when there's more to gain than personal satisfaction. Motivation works best when it's external. When it's to prove a point, flex skills, or shut the peanut gallery the hell up. The upper tiers of the popularity structure in high school are the perfect motivation for developing artistic skills- I can do something you can't- and for physical conditioning- I'm in better shape than you and I don't play sports. The art has lived on and translated itself online. People consider me to be good at UI design. Why? I make pages I'm happy with and I have very high standards. Some people like my artwork. Why? Because it's different, and I intend to keep it that way. Now sit right back, as a matter of fact, and let me show you how it's done.

In the Real World, being Good at what you do- or being considered good- is slightly more detrimental than it is in high school. In HS, the upper tiers of the peer group have no choice but to admit to your skills in some fashion, even if it's trying to demean you so they can feel good about themselves. They're tools. The Real World brings peers, or people who think they're peers- and people who want to learn or get tips and/or instruction from you in the ways by which you do things. It's an annoyance and a distraction when you're not in the mood for it. Hence the lameness filter. New targets to acquire- a new situation to rise above and prove oneself in needs to be found, or presents itself in a different fashion, as the game has changed.

Sounds almost predatory, doesn't it? I suppose it is in a way- I have the skills I do through being exposed to the right software and the right media, having the necessary skills to actually prove to myself that my instinct of "fuck, I can do better than this." is actually correct. Follow through on the hunch, prove the point for self satisfaction. Eventually, the skills get to the point where your personal satisfaction is getting noticed and starts drawing a crowd, after a fashion. Filtering the glut of sand that comes your way at that point and learning to filter for the diamonds- the right opportunities, the things you want to do- is a philosophical tangent. Being able to figure out what's good for you and achieving it are two very different faces of the coin that seperates instinct, hunches and talent from the drive for success. The point here is looking at the drive- where it comes from, what causes it, and most importantly, how to focus these things into something of value.

For me, discomfort is the drive. Sick of machines crashing? Get six and a switch, task each one with one of the things that you do. Problem solved. Sick of the high school gym class making you its bitch? Rip yourself into shape and go juggernaut. A computer animation major with a severe distaste for CAM software? Learn motion graphics and pass on merit of doing something totally unexpected- hone and perfect your skills later, after the school puts the application into the course curriculum. Unconventional and extreme solutions to annoying problems that aren't going away- the extremity being part of the joy of the solution- "Hey, I pulled 47 1/2 hours straight to get this thing done, so stop with this 'coming in late' stuff." Not proving myself just to prove myself- proving myself because I know I can do it. The situation provides the motivation. Scrap those factors that result in the push, scrap the urge.

Which brings me back to the fitness thing, and the new challenge- deliberately generating a situation in which it's condusive to get back in shape. Personal merit will work for a period of time, but there's a push that's needed to keep the concept running in the long term in order for it to pay off and become as habitual as email. Life after high school and college becomes a life of self motivation- something many people aren't big on unless their survival instinct kicks in. Training and certification to keep your job, drug testing, things like that- guidance from outside the situation. The carrot on a stick that keeps you in line.

So how does this work when you're passionately set on living by your own rules, and you're getting along just fine bending the situation to fit your needs without breaking yourself or the machine in the process, with all parties coming out on top? Where's the New Enemy when you have pretty much everything you want, or are slowly working on achieving it? Where's the kick in the face to get back in shape? The kick in the face to start the web comic? Who has the cattle prod?

At one point, the cattle prod was the popular kids in high school. I used them for exactly what they were good for, though it took me a few years to realize that my punk rock defiant approach to the situation actually catapaulted me into making the right connections and decisions to get out of the situation without causing more of a scene than I may have wanted to at the time. At the AI, the cattle prod was the 24 month deadline- graduate by 8th quarter or die. AI produced one of the first motion graphics demo reels (that I'm aware of) and a 400 meg in depth multimedia cd that blew the doors off the instructor ("You could get a job with this!" - Mr. Simpson)- a 20+ file assignment for a third level multimedia class that mandated something like fifteen screens. Overkill. 70 page documented self analysis, comparison contrast of first and eighth quarter mentalities with documentation and commentary from a psychologist for a three page comparison/contrast essay. Total, unreasoning overkill. The results? People know what you're capable of when you get your ass in gear. They look at the extremity compared to the baseline and either think you're nuts or see where you're coming from. Frequently both, which is fine by me.

Sounds like a lot of back-patting, but all of the above can be substantiated. I sucked at CG modeling, so I lit and texured well. I hated my graphics abilities for being so limited (re: experienced) at the time, so I poured a campaign world I had been developing for years into a disk, figuring the completion of the presentation would be weighed favorably over the quality of the aesthetic execution. In other words, I used what I was really, really good at or had already accomplished to cover up the areas in which I was defficient.

Same thing with physical conditioning- yeah, I could barely bench 120 and could do, at best, 3 pullups. But I could do 200 inverted crunches and leg press 450 without blinking an eye. Extremes in one or two categories belie the weakenesses or defficiencies in others- and I am not, by design, the master of any single discipline. There's too many of them and not enough time in the day. If I'm the master of anything, it's assembling my mediocre skills to work together as something that's far greater than the sum of the parts. World building, if you will- the world in question could just as easily be a web site or a DVD as a campaign setting for an RPG.

So. We have what I'm good at, and my penchant for going totally over the top. If not to prove a point, than to get the thing done- I do my best work under intense stress. Throughput is increased, the distractions drop off, and I'm getting a massive self-education in how to optimize workflow in order to accomplish the task. This works fucking fantastic in high school, in college, and in certain field jobs such as game programming- to paraphrase one of my AI instructors who had worked in the industry: "Three month deadline? Hah. You play Quake for 12 weeks and don't sleep for two."

This is, for many of us, exactly how it works. Urgency is the incentive. Obey the Fist- you either get it done or you get the hell out and look worse because of it. Constant urgency, on the other hand, will burn your ass out like a sparkler and you'll be sitting at home under your blankets watching Cowboy Bebop DIVX on your laptop and wondering why the hell you haven't finished your personal project yet. This line of reasoning could branch into analysis of doing what you Will against doing what you're good at, which is something all creative people have to deal with- but I'm getting closer to the point, or the question- how to create that sense of urgency.

How do you kick yourself into getting in shape when there's no incentive? How do you kick yourself into doing a web comic when there are no deadlines, no profit, none of the little motivation incentives that come with deadlines at work, high school bullies, or your TI screaming in your ear at five in the morning?

The immediate answer is to Redefine The Enemy.

How's that? Good question. The postulate being to develope, find, invoke or bring down some serious smack upon yourself, by your own hand- kick your environment into kicking you into doing what you want to get done. Give the situation the tools to give you the incentive. Stick your own damned foot in the bear trap and fire the Remington 700 at the jaws. Hope you don't miss.

Self Improvement isn't masturbation- depending on how you define it. Ikea furniture, khakis, cel phones and that nice care? Wanktastic. Being in good shape, being artistically productive, and doing what you want to get done? Spot on. An easy approach to this is to remove all distraction- get rid of everything else until all that's left is you and the resources you need to do the Thing. Self Destruction in the eyes of a consumer society- you don't need a DVD player to draw a web comic. You don't need a cel phone to composite video. Socially implied conveniences do nothing to get this sort of work accomplished. What are the distractions? What are the opiates? Why are you fucking around with OpenBSD when you could be sketching characters? Simple- you're avoiding the task in favor of something just as satisfying, but ultimately, of much less consequence and impact on your life and hopefully, the lives of others. You're productive, but it's a false productivity- it's an active distraction. You're being productively lazy.

Works in the workplace, and my knowledge of computers - expansive for my age (23) and exposure time (5 years)- sure as hell wouldn't be what it is if I didn't dedicate so much of my time to slacking off in the name of research. In the meantime, however, I'm out of shape and I've been meaning to do that comic since 1994. The capacity is there, in terms of talent, knowledge, and capability- yet the incentive has given way to distraction. This is ultimately unproductive when it comes to the stated goal- that being getting what's in my head out.

To that end, thanks to the essay that inspired this and the output contained herein, I have some ideas that merit exploring- the beginnings of a way to beat the situation into kicking my ass into getting this done.

I'll keep you posted.


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02.19
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Happens to the best of us.
14:33 in irk


14:22 <@rjbs> solios: you run info?
14:22 * rjbs builds a new NT server at work. :-(
14:23 < solios> rjbs: I did.
14:23 < solios> rjbs: it hurt my face.
14:23 * solios is reading an article on the history of NT.
14:24 <@rjbs> blech
14:24 <@rjbs> i hate you
14:24 <@rjbs> talkin' to myself
14:24 <@rjbs> everybody starin' at me
14:24 <@rjbs> i'm only bleedin'. yeaaaah.
14:25 < solios> o_O
14:26 < bda> ...
14:28 < solios> bda: I think NT has made rjbs' brain squishy.
14:28 <@rjbs> I love this show.
14:28 < ejp> I work with NT and my brain's ok.
14:29 < solios> his has obviously gone out to lunch.
14:29 < solios> ejp: what were you like BEFORE NT ?
14:29 <@rjbs> WOAH! Tainted love.
14:29 <@rjbs> blargh. this sucks.
14:30 < bda> rjbs: Less crazy.
14:31 < solios> rjbs: MOVE TOWARDS THE BASH!
14:32 <@rjbs> the bash?
14:32 * rjbs is bourne again!
14:33 * rjbs gets headphones, enmusics. all better.


Gimp useability.

Posted as "Make the GIMP useable, PLEASE!" on Macslash.

==

I make pretty stuff for a living. So I use what's best, not what's current. Unfortunately, what's best for my needs at work - and for web- is definitely NOT what's current. Right now, I've completely given up on Adobe and am pinning my hopes on the GIMP.

My problem with the Gimp is that it's graphic software built by geeks who need to occassionally work with graphics- not graphics software built by geeks for totally, start raving NON geek artists.

I gave the REAL gimp (run through Apple's X11 release) a spin a few weeks ago and saw a lot of the potential immediately. The biggest problems were that the graphical interface was anus and the keyboard shortcuts were far worse. The control key on a Mac keyboard is in the least convenient place- I hit Apple/Command with my thumb and control with my pinky, which is a pain on a powerbook and just as annoying on an extended keyboard- this is a serious issue for me, as I use the keyboard quite a bit in photoshop. Ten minutes in the GIMP and my pinky was sore. :P The biggest advantage was that GIMP running in X11 was just as fast as Photoshop 5 running in Classic... both of which are faster on my hardware (G4/733 with 1.25 gigs of ram) than Photoshop 7 running natively. Oh, and both GIMP and Photoshop 5 bring up the SPOD almost never, whereas PS 7 has a sick habit of SPODding like a mother and stealing focus like it's going out of style.

So the GIMP needs a more "professional" interface, which is basically just fine tuning what's there now... and it needs to be highly configurable from inside the app- NOT by editing text files. Widget clicking sort of things like "rulers off by default" kind of things.

The one thing GIMP really, really, REALLY needs- more so than my gripes listed above- is to have a completely customizeable keyboard layout. Like Quake. Photoshop doesn't have it- going from 5 to 7 means you spend a month cursing and praying you'll meet an Adobe developer in a dark alley so you can beat the shit out of him, as many of the heavily used keyboard shortcuts have changed.... when they quite clearly had no reason for doing so.

If the GIMP key bindings can be changed inside the app- meaning blipping through pref panes, not whacking a text file- then it's a simple matter for someone like me, who's practically hard coded for Photoshop 5 to install the GIMP, map all of the tools to all of the Photoshop 5 keyboard shortcuts, and.- BLAMMO! - drastically lower the learning curve.

If the GIMP project implemented exactly that, I'd wipe photoshop 7 off of my workstation in a heartbeat. I'm keeping 5, though- type tool handling is just the thing for after effects open captioning. :-)

Commercial software houses are hooked on the revenue stream like a junky on heroine- unfortunately, their apps have all but peaked and recent releases have been nothing but ass in terms of performance and useability. Adobe is starting to go downhill rapidly... and the GIMP has nowhere to go but up. :-D

(If you think I'm talking out my ass, feel free to tell me. If you think my ranting makes sense, I rant some more here.)

==

In closing, the state of commercial software could be described in four words:

It's the economy, stupid.


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02.18
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Whiteout.

The Killing Joke track, actually- though it's an apt description of exterior conditions. It's all wet and chunky outside, like the ground developed a really terminal case of a yeast infection that came from the sky.

Want an update? I knew you would....

My watch battery died after 7 years of hard labor and excellent service. I need to get it replaced with something that will probably last less than a third that amount of time ASAP. I successfully dropped Open BSD 3.2 onto my Quadra 650- it reads both ethernet cards and boots successfully into single user mode. Now I just need to configure the danged thing, which is going to involve learning unix. At least, more unix than I currently know.

I also threatened the Quadra with A/UX, which seemed to smack it around into getting the BSD onto the system correctly, which got me to thinking. The 650 is beefed- 88 ram, two nics, maxed VRAM, and presently two 2 gig drives. Given just how flakey the Hawk is, I'm probably going to reformat the IBM and try another install of obsd onto it. If it can take base32.tgz, it'll take the whole thing- and I know the IBM drive will boot... because, uh.. that's where the MacOS that's running things at the moment is located.

Yay technogeek stuff. IRC seems to be amazed at the fact I have A/UX 3.0 media and update packages. I only know one other guy who has it, and I'll probably end up talking to him about system enablers for bootstrapping A/UX onto the machine.

Whee network.


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02.17
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Boobies.
22:05 in irk


22:02 < bda> There were some nice boobies in that movie, considering it was
filmed in 1977.
22:02 < solios> bda: so if it predates you it's ghey?
22:02 <@rjbs> The nice boobie was invented prior to 1977, contrary to popular
opinion.
22:02 < solios> Indeed.
22:02 < bda> Eh.
22:03 < solios> They were invented with whuzzername.
22:03 < bda> I have seen little evidence to confirm that.
22:03 < solios> bda: that's because you were too busy SUCKING ON THEM in the
late 70s to NOTICE.
22:03 < bda> Only for a few months.
22:03 < bda> ;alksjdfal;sdkf
22:04 * bda punches his skull
22:04 * solios wins.
22:04 < bda> >:|


Identity Crisis.

I'm an artist. At least I think I am. Even if I have shit for self esteem when it comes to the medium, think most other artists are assholes, would rather soak my head in a septic tank than go to an opening, and am much more versed in, say, SCSI than Impressionism.

I also vowed almost a year ago to start a web comic during my 23rd year.

...and I'm installing Open BSD 3.2 onto a Quadra 650. I have been, all day. Off and on. Strange install process and definitely not for newbies. Somewhere between AIP and this morning, I picked up a few dozen computers, hewed them down to ten, acquired more OS Install media than I have comic book pages, and generally gone completely fucking bugshit in computers. I'm putting together what I'd like to be a firewall because I have time to kill and am going to need one in six months. Well, firewall and router. Hypothetically, anyway.

I'm in a somewhat unique position of knowing how to make pretty things Right, rather than being sucked into the bullshit designer jingoism of Macromedia products- I laugh in my roommates face when she gets that misty look in her eyes about Flash, tell her I don't have the OS X version of Director because we're done with using it at the Museum (nevermind that I'm the one who's really pushing the Mac software end of things), and I've generally come to favor free as in speech, Apache, PHP, SQL, and laughed my ass off when Macromedia figured out a way to turn a CMS into a product... all of my designer friends thinking this kicked ass and the pleasure I got from informing them just how snowed they were by the Macromedia hype machine underscored something interesting- I'm not your typical web designer.

I'm also not your typical "artist with a web site", either. Fortunately, in both cases- a statement that might piss some people off, but hey. I've never been one to take complements and I've never been one to lie out my ass when my lameness filter is blowing steam out the redline. I do, however, try to be professional and refrain from letting friends and associates who are looking to show off their work know exactly what I think of it- unless that opinion is complementary. It's such a pain in the fucking ass to find artistic peers in meatspace. Most of the ones I've met through the AI or through the Beehive are victims of the media culture- sucked up into fan art and easily inspired and influenced by games, movies, television. Art as the icing on the escapist cake. Engaged in subject matter I'm not the least bit interested in- or was at one time, only to have set it down or lost interest in it for any of a myriad of reasons.

The icing of the escapist cake is the issue here- more importantly, the escapist cake itself: a cake many people either don't realize they're eating, or relish as a gourmand- the latter either incapable of realizing that there is, in fact, more to life or worse, realizing and choosing not to partake. The internet and the endless obsession with computers- macintosh, interface architectures, device architectures, expansion architectures, operating systems- is analagous to television, pop music, movies. My mind lets the tech fixation off the hook under the aegis that it's productive, and ultimately useful, even if it's answering someone else's questions. I take pride in not going to movies, not watching TV, not caring about politics, not being addicted to the things I hate. It disgusts me to see these fixations in others. What do they do? What are their ambitions, and why in the flaming shit aren't they busting their ass working towards them right fucking NOW GODDAMNIT instead of wasting their lives discussing just how funny they think Kung Pow: Enter the Fist really is?

Yeah. I'm an artist and I'm blowing a day dropping BSD on an old box. And you know what? At the end of the day, I'll have BSD on an old box! Web development. Fucking with AFS on BSD. Learning things. Routing and firewalling. DHCP service. Something useful - ultimately in the job setting, if not on a personal level.

Obviously people get something out of the experience, or they wouldn't be doing it- entertainment is a vice, and for me, my entertainment involves keeping my mind occupied- not lulling it into being passively glutted by NTSC. I'm more about being occupied than dulled, getting bang for my buck than just zoning out in front of the idiot box. I used to be a hardcore TV junky, stuck on movies and games- having my own machine and net access allowed me to shift my addictive personality off of an inherently unproductive medium and onto one that has proven to be vastly educational and interactive.

I've learned a great deal from the "swtich" from TV to internet as a means of entertainment, and if anything, I use it in much the same fashion as I used other media before I had a computer- tons of information assimilation and the occasional round of entertainment. The web just makes it easier on both counts- a reference in a webcomic becomes a google search in another Mozilla tab while I continue to assimilate the totality of creative output.

And yet- despite weening myself off of passive entertainment, bottling it down to literally a "no other options" standpoint of recovering from hangovers or being stuck at work waiting for the bus for a few hours... active entertainment is just as seductive, just as ultimately unproductive, and if anything, far more deceptive. It all boils down to motivation, distraction, and just how easily accessable that distraction is.

Naturally, the more available it is, the more likely it is to be used- witness the number of smokers and drinkers against the number of pot smokers and coke snorters. Trust me- it ain't legality. It's moral inclination and availability of resources. The alcoholic and the cokehead are one and the same- two different buzzes; one a matter of resources and some "luck", the other a matter of the state saying you're old enough. Neither are better or worse on a base level- it's not the resources or the taste, it's the application... too often being one of escapism on some level. Life sucks, get a fucking helmet.

Drugs are a vehicle, not a parking lot.

Drugs are whatever you define them to be. The way I see it, a drug is anything that makes you feel better about life. Uppers make you feel good about it. Downers make you forget about it. The internet is a downer- submerse in access and suck up information. Communication. Oh, hey- I spent ten hours online. Neat. Bills? Food? Oh, shit.

The funny thing is, once one stumbles into IRC, there's really little need to go to coffee houses or any place physical in order to socialize. This is mixed, in that on irk, you're online, so you're still easily distracted- yet you don't have to worry about assholes, the pissed off, kids, the genetically decrepit, or any of the other bullshit annoyances of being out in public. You're still not getting anything done- just like television, just like sitting in a coffeehouse getting hassled by the underaged about whatever bullshit they're incapable of dealing with rationally this week.

Yay rants.

This started off as me being mildly disgruntled about being, allegedly, an artist- and finding myself sucked into tech. Back on subject, please, as I'm digging myself a bit of a hole on the above tangent- one that I can't decisively conclude without pissing off other people, namely myself! :-P

Tech is another outlet for the addictive personality- escapism. We've covered this. This mindset is best defined, in my experience, by mindless consumption. I've tried to spin it positively by restricting the urge to things that are useful or truely interesting, but at the bottom line, a huge amount of input does not automatically engender a huge amount of output.

That's the problem.

I'm not as productive as I want to be. This could be explained from any number of directions, and boils down to the fact that there's less urge and vision to output creatively than there is to research and assimilate. At some point the "shit or get off the pot" impulse kicks in, and it's tempting to just sit there, read the newspaper, and hope your roommate remembers it's been her turn to buy toilet paper for the last two weeks.

Explains things pretty clearly, actually. What I'd like to be the bsd box is low level formatting for its third installation attempt- I've had a photoshop file open on my workstation for the last two weeks, and I've been half contemplating reorganizing my CDRs again, just for efficiency. Fortunately I have a site design built that I'm proud of, even if I'm slacking on implementation, and things seem to be getting themselves under control. I know I'm missing something or forgetting something, though- and that's what's eating me. >:-|


-

-
02.14
-

-
#Karaoke
14:20 in irk


14:07 <@solios> This is overload.
14:14 < Xenothaulus> Sometimes I feel I've got to
14:14 < Xenothaulus> run away i've got to
14:14 <@solios> GET AWAY
14:14 < Xenothaulus> get away
14:14 < Xenothaulus> from the pain you drive into the heart of me
14:14 < Xenothaulus> the love we share
14:14 <@solios> Seems to go no where.
14:14 < Xenothaulus> and i've lost my light
14:15 < Xenothaulus> for I toss and turn I can't sleep at night
14:15 < Xenothaulus> once I ran to you
14:15 < Xenothaulus> now I'll run from you
14:15 < Xenothaulus> this tainted love you've given
14:15 < Xenothaulus> i give you all a boy could give you
14:15 < Xenothaulus> take my tears and that's not nearly all
14:15 < Xenothaulus> tainted love
14:15 < Xenothaulus> tainted love
14:15 <@solios> TAINTED
14:15 <@solios> LUBB
14:15 < Xenothaulus> !
14:15 * Xenothaulus falls over


-

-
02.13
-

-
Are you threatening me?!
01:08 in irk

In the /away log while I was out:


23:16 < Xenothaulus> you assgrabber
23:17 < Xenothaulus> in your nifty little blurb on teh mercury blog, you
included me saying I was listening to Depeche Mode.
23:17 < Xenothaulus> I hope that fucking vodka makes your poophole fall off.
23:17 < Xenothaulus> bunghole Bunghole BUNGHOLE!

I need TP. TP for my BUNGHOLE!


-

-
02.12
-

-
I want my MTV.


22:14 <@solios> whoah.
22:14 <@solios> I got an email from some clients who dicked me.
22:14 < homeslice> ?
22:14 < homeslice> No lube?
22:14 <@solios> They want me to finish the site and finally gave me the
information I'd been waiting for for the last four months.
22:15 <@solios> In the meantime, they've cancelled the only two nights at that
bar that I bothered with.
22:15 < homeslice> Charge them triple.
22:15 <@solios> Fortunately, I was flagged as spam.
22:15 <@solios> So I'm going to leave it there. :D
22:15 <@solios> Fuck 'em.
22:15 < homeslice> Is it money?
22:15 <@solios> No.
22:15 < homeslice> ok
22:15 <@solios> So it's a major waste of my time.
22:15 <@solios> :D
22:15 < homeslice> Then fuck 'em.
22:15 <@solios> I think I will do just that.
22:16 <@solios> They dropped the only reasons I was there at all, scared off
the cool people and replaced them with asswipes, and now they
want the site finished for "free".
22:17 <@solios> They haven't seen me in four months. I think that's Clue
enough.
22:17 < homeslice> Reply with a kiddie porn site in the body of the email.
22:17 < homeslice> Nothing else.
22:18 * Xenothaulus listens to Depeche Mode
22:19 <@solios> I think I'll take a pass on that one.
22:20 <@solios> Mainly because if I replied, it would imply that I put some
value in talking to them.
22:20 <@solios> Which is most assuredly not the case.

A good lesson in business practice is to not expect a guy who's doing your site for free drinks to finish the site after you've ignored him for four months and cancelled both of the nights that he attends. No nights, no incentive to come and drink. No incentive to come and drink, no incentive to webmaster. No money? Even less incentive.

Now then.

Why would I want to waste my time doing work in exchange for drinks at a bar filled with hostile patrons and staff with business savvy weaker than the drinks?

I can't think of an answer for that one, either.

I swore off clients awhile ago, and I'm still working off the short list of people that haven't dicked me over. I'm done with freelance for bartering or for "a good cause"- unless I've known you for years and trust you implicitly, it's about money or nothing.

Friends are, of course, exempt- mainly because they're very patient people who ask little of me. :)


Ach! Oi! My colon!

Shit.

Literally. Some combination of undercooked pizza, ramen for dinner (I have an intolerance to MSG, but economics dictate my food intake), or standing in negative abagazillion wind chill for the inevitably late bus has made my butt grumpy. Whoo.

Got the forebearance forms, which are very picky and exact. I need to call the lady at the office when she's in tomorrow and ask her some pointed questions- fact of the matter is that I honestly don't have some of the information- loan numbers for my Stafford loans aren't on the Sally Mae site and I've lost my situation data in the basement somewhere, if I even have it at all. Then there's also the fact that my current monetary situation of needing to defer and/or forebare is due to a MASSIVE negative spike in my income in late 2003, during which my supervisor decided, in his infinite benevolence, to give his part time, paid hourly, employees a week and a half off, enforced. A week and a half without pay at the ass end of the year. THANKS.

This hit at, as usual, the worst possible time- combine scheduling of bills and rent against the fixed scheduling of pay periods, a fucked up ebay transaction, and severely reduced hours at the end of the year and I find myself dealing with cancellation notices on two bills (total owed: 96.75$ and 380$ respectively)- bills that are utilities, so they're never going away- being forced into paying rent late, and a host of other minor annoyances including clothing replacement (several shirts bleach stained), hardware replacement (dead monitor) and the usual monthly living expenses and transportation on top of that and I'm fighting out of a really nasty hole.

I can be out of this hole by the end of March on the Ramen Diet, assuming a certain raging slacktard pays the 140$ he owes me for paying his share of his rent so his roommate could keep the mortgage on the house. White Knight Fever doesn't impress the loan companies, unfortunately- I'm sure they'd be about as pleased with it as I am. >:|

So. There's being out of the hole, then there's being able to afford to move OUT so I can STAY out of the hole. The only way this is happening is by moving in with a friend, which has been discussed at great length since the beginning of the year. That timeline coincides with the forebearance form time bomb, on the assumption I can actually meet the requirements. Which is the ethical dillemma. My income fluctuates a lot- you can't see it looking at my W2, unfortunately- I have good months, and I have shitty months, it's a downside of being paid hourly. So a bad streak of the past four months and my current utilities situation make for one statement of income, when paperwork is going to say something differently. This is icky. As usual, it's a few months of temporary pants-shitting that gums up the works and results in all kinds of panic and grumpiness.

If I can get the forebearance, despite the funkiness of my living expenses when listed out on paper (there's some large amount unaccounted for- I should hypothetically have 30$ in my pocket when it's more like 10$), I'll be happy. Hell, I'd be ultra mega happy if they'd just cut me a break in general, call the last six months a forebearance and bill me normally starting in March, because I can afford that. I just cant' afford a 300$ bill with a minimum payment of 300$, when I'm dealing with rent (360) and electric (390 and climbing) at the same time.... all with the same due dates, which is what got me into the mess to begin with.

THEN there's the fact that the washing machine is broken, not covered by the lease, and will have to be fixed out of pocket. This can't happen until I either talk to the landlord and convince him to let me expense it somehow, or until I get a spare couple of hundred. Because I'm NOT fixing it myself- dealing with 15+ gallons of freezing, rust-filled water next to live electrical lines and bad drainage is not my idea of a fun time. More expenses, less conveneince. Yee haw.

Yay money. I hate the stuff. It's a good thing I don't have a car, or a family, or credit cards, or a bank account, or any of that other stupidass American Dream suburbanite landfill bullshit.

In other news.

G6 UI is aesthetically complete, minus a little bit of refinement. I'm pretty sure I can start slicing and assembly tonight or tomorrow, depending. Whoo.


-

-
02.11
-

-
Can I get fries with that?
03:17 in irk


03:05 < solios> I hate fonts.
03:05 * solios has been trying to decide on a title font for his pr0n site for,
like, all night.
03:05 < solios> I have, like 750 fonts.
03:06 < solios> And they all SUK when you've been staring at 'em for hours. :|
03:08 < bda> Do you have a font that has a big greasy vagina for "O"?
03:10 < solios> Dude.
03:10 < solios> I deleted that one back in art skool.
03:10 < solios> I'm trying to be !pr0ntastic here. o_O
03:10 < bda> Too bad cos that'd be PERFECT for your classy porn site.
03:10 < bda> :D
03:10 < solios> Also, presenting girl parts that don't look like something
you'd find under a bun at Arbies.
03:11 < bda> Arby's++
03:11 < solios> Raost Beef Girl Bits --
03:11 < bda> Fuggdat. Just pour some Arby's Sauce on dat shee.
03:11 < bda> Then it be smooth sailin' to TastyLand, yo.
03:12 < bda> Man. I could totally go for some cheesey thingers.
03:12 < bda> sigh.
03:12 < bda> Damn you.
03:12 < solios> Dude.
03:12 < solios> I think you just killed my apetite for a week.
03:13 < solios> Or gave me an eating disorder.
03:14 < bda> You just keep my little bit of advice in mind the next time you're
driving a girl to O-Town through the Cunnilingus Tunnel, aight?
03:14 < solios> uh.
03:14 < solios> dude.
03:14 < bda> < solios> This could be tangier.
03:15 < solios> skdjhfklsdhj!
03:15 < bda> cn't breathe
03:15 < bda> so funny


-

-
02.10
-

-
Liquid Separation

There's something about Front Line Assembly's Millennium album that makes life all warm and fuzzy in that "everything's cool." sort of way. Not the groove of Soul Coughing, but more the sort of cathartic satisfaction attained only through acts of extreme violence committed upon undeserving inanimate objects. Or Quake. Basically, it produces, when used timely, an endorphin rush that is simply much cheaper and less annoying than scheduled stimulants.

If I was still working revision as a "site" as opposed to a professional bin o stuff, I'd be blowing this out there.... but mercury is here for just this kind of generally aimless blowing-off of steam and/or irrelevant bullshit. Also makes for the appearance of something accessable going on in that thing people call life.

Wake up to RSI chewing my left wrist and my back deciding to scream at me for sleeping just wrong on a futon. The door frame ambushes me on the way down the stairs, and the day is off to a livid start. Storm through the grocery store, an ocean of geriatric genetic refuse- yes, I'm waiting in the lottery line, you shetwahn- not much point in waiting at the stock customer service counter when nobody's there, dig? Bus pass. 25 minutes of snow and cigarettes. Bus. Update. Work.

Dupe some DVDs on assigment and call the loan company about the accelleration notice my roommate had pointed out to me a few days late- something to the tune of "you owe us 2400$. Now, k? k.". Fifteen minutes of "saint elmo's fire", muzak edition. Yes, I fucked up. Oh, I have to tell AIP this? Phoner? ktks.

Call AIP. "Hey, I've been a bad monkey about my student loans." Literally. Handle it as smoothly as possible- admit I'm a fucktard about money, and oh yeah, my income and expenses minus this little student loan bill are still grossly disproportionate. Oh, you'll put me on forebearance retroactive to September when I started having other bills ream me in the ass? For a year, so I start getting this just when I'm resettled somewhere cheaper? Sweet.

Fucking finances. I suppose it beats asking my parental units if they'll make an icky blob on my credit report disappear- better to let my sister handle those sorts of requests. That phone call and the pending paperwork- which, if I'm lucky, I'll actually get, seeing as how my mail has a sick habit of disappearing- will get rid of one annoyance, just in time for me to kick a friend of mine in the ass about 140$ he owes so I can pay my electric bill.

Yay daily bullshit of money. Hate that shit. Makes me offensive.

In other news, I got sick to death of my lack of a satisfying layout for G6 and kicked it oldskool and fullbore- foresaking things like minimal layout and slim table design in favor of a totally over-the-top UI along the lines of the original ATC and AD4k layouts. It's BIG, but it looks nice and that's the only thing I give a shit about with this project. Fuck load time. The page layout will be modular anyway, so if the thing gets creamed by bad layout decisions or some such shit, I can bottle it up in a different interface without changing content- one of the reasons why PHP kicks all of the ass.

The layout looks decent, and does what I want it to do. I just need to look into css image rollovers, which are hypothetically possible, and finalize the base, tier one data structure. Whee. The project is at the point where I basically have to shit or get off the pot- time to build the site, decide on implementation (plain vanilla homebrew or MT), and get all that shit in, then start building it up to the project expectations.


Thassa BAD Xacto.
13:56 in irk


13:51 <@solios> my coworker needs stitches.
13:51 <@_Lasar> Did he run from one of your cartoons?
13:51 <@solios> He got ambushed by an Xacto knife.
13:51 <@_Lasar> Heh.
13:51 <@_Lasar> Evil little motherfuckers.
13:52 * _Lasar tapes a simple AI and wings to an Xacto knife and sells it as
the security system of the future.


-

-
02.09
-

-
Well, the phone's back on...
05:31 in irk


05:16 <@_Lasar> Slow sunday.
05:16 <@_Lasar> <-- still in bed
05:16 <@_Lasar> Alone, too.
05:17 <@solios> me too.
05:17 <@solios> O_O
05:18 <@solios> tho bed smell like gurl.
05:18 <@solios> so.
05:18 <@solios> :D
05:18 * bda shoots solios.
05:21 <@solios> dude.
05:21 <@solios> just because my bed smells way better than your pants doesn't
mean you should, you know, be violent.
05:24 <@bda> I'll put holes in your face if I want to.
05:25 <@solios> sounds like you have issues, mister smellypants.
05:25 <@bda> I'm not wearing pants, traitorous dog.
05:27 <@solios> I'll bet that's because they SMELL.
05:27 * solios isn't wearing pants either.
05:28 <@bda> The pants don't generate the smell.
05:28 <@bda> It's my... DEATHLOINS!
05:29 <@solios> That explains why your bead don't smell like gurl.
05:29 <@bda> That was a JtHM quote.
05:29 <@bda> Well.. I Feel Sick.
05:30 <@solios> I would to, if I had deathloins.

I'm not sure which is more bothersome- that the phone is back on, that I've been in the same room as the deathloins, or that typos and IRC go hand in hand.


-

-
02.06
-

-
Rock over, London.
13:57 in irk


13:52 < Xenothaulus> VAMPIRE
13:52 < Xenothaulus> VIXENS!
13:52 < Xenothaulus> VENUS!!!
13:52 < Xenothaulus> See?
13:52 <@solios> VAMPIRE BAT!
13:52 <@stevers> No.
13:52 <@solios> Yes.
13:53 <@solios> He stabbed me in my ass, killing me.
13:53 < Xenothaulus> And vampireaokjfds;lakj
13:53 * solios wins.
13:53 < Xenothaulus> no, you lost
13:53 < Xenothaulus> And then the vampire bat stabbed me in the ass, sucking the blood out of me killing me
13:53 < Xenothaulus> VAMPIRE BAT!

Randomly yelling "VAMPIRE BAT!" (preferably while breaking your voice) is probably the longest running joke of my life, after high school and that whole being born thing. I started a cult with that song at Allegheny Center and swapped the CD that it's on for my Coat of Evil Niftiness. If you don't know what's being referred to, you really, really don't want to. Trust me on this one.


-

-
02.03
-

-
So. How was YOUR weekend?

Strange, thanks for asking. My phone has been disabled. This in and of itself would have been sufficient reason to spend the weekend at work. Around the same time I discovered this fact, however, Stuff happened. This would include but is not limited to a family member of a friend being murdered; my house becoming clean; sex, drugs, rock and roll; and getting scored an 8.something on the sex scale with a deduction for using sound effects. I can't complain. Minus the usual flaming death and tragedy and drama, I had a good time, even without the webernet.

Also, I suck at blogging when I'm trying to be even moderately serious. So blah.

And.

NASA is handling this better than the media, I'd wager. I'd bore you with anecdotes, but that would be trendy, and a waste of everyone's time. It's their job, the risk comes with the territory, and they get all of the cool points for dying in the course of doing one of the very, very few things we're doing for the benefit of the race, rather than the detriment of others and/or personal gain.

I think about the only way this weekend could have been any more extreme would have been if midgets were involved at some point.

Fortunately, no midgets.

The rest of this month will hopefully pale in comparison.