“Do you see? Even I had trouble installing Linux, and I hung my machine about three times just because a standard install got confused.

“If I have trouble installing Linux, something is wrong. Very wrong.”

—Linus Torvalds on the state of the art

Tuesday, March 24 2015

How I feel…

With the number of servers that have caught fire or things that have needed sudden extra attention at work, I ask, in the words of Lyra Lackwit:

“Will things please stop happening now?”

Monday, March 23 2015

San Francisco 93.8% cis/het

…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Based on my experience of walking in SF, I suspect the actual percentages were 6.2% LGBT, 81.3% straight, and 12.5% “gimme a dollar!”.

Stone Clouds

So, the old Radioactive Panda site is mostly dead, but, as promised, Stone Clouds is back, this time on its own domain, starting with a re-release of the old material, with cleanup and color.

Friday, March 20 2015

Harry Potter takes over the world

No, not like this, although the title is certainly Potterish:

Genghis Khan and the Mongol War Machine

Instead, I’m referring to a rather long bit of alternate-canon fan-fiction in which young Harry Potter was raised, not by the Dursleys, but by a science professor at Oxford. As a result, he grew up reading science fiction and fantasy, and learned to apply the scientific method to the world around him. The quite long story has finally been completed:

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

The ending is less satisfying than the beginning, or even the middle, but it holds together surprisingly well. And the author was very careful to not only use real science, but to cross-reference each chapter so you can follow up on any concept that strikes your fancy.

Monday, March 16 2015


I think I can live with this performance on the new Comcast line.

57 Mbps down, 11 Mbps up, 15ms latency, 3ms jitter

[Bonus! My new static IP range is not blacklisted by Paypal. Both my old AT&T and Sonic.net ranges were for as long as I had them, and not only does Paypal silently treat it as “incorrect password”, their customer-service folks don’t even acknowledge that this is possible. For years, I’ve had to open a VPN connection to my office just to be able to log in to my account.]

Saturday, March 14 2015

Words that should never appear in the same question:

“auditors” and “Perl script”

Friday, March 13 2015

Good Robot lives!

Shamus Young’s Project Good Robot is now on Steam Greenlight.

Wednesday, March 11 2015

Bye-bye, DSL; it was nice

[Update: all switched over, and the only difficulty in the install was discovering that Comcast still ships routers that hang onto MAC addresses for dear life, preventing you from reusing an IP address on the LAN side unless you reboot the silly thing. This was dumb on a home line ten years ago, and inexcusably stupid on a business line today. On the bright side, it came with native IPv6, so I can get rid of my Hurricane Electric tunnel sometime soon.]

So on March 9th, I got email from sonic.net informing me that their current DSL service was going away on April 10th, and that I needed to call right away to upgrade to their new faster-cheaper-better service.

The person who answered the phone seemed surprised that I’d actually called right away. Then she put me on hold for several minutes while she looked at my account, then she said she’d call me back. She didn’t.

So I replied to the original email, which surprisingly actually went to someone, who answered and said someone would call me back. Today, I got a long, casual voicemail from someone who eventually got around to explaining that the new service isn’t offered in my area, and I’d need to find a new ISP. Yes, I was expecting this.

(short version: they had a contract with AT&T to use their lines for DSL, and that expired)

So now I’m waiting on a callback from Comcast Business to schedule an install. It will cost more, but even their cheapest plan is much faster than the 6000/768 I have now. Internet-only; I’ll keep the Dish for TV, and migrate the landline to an Ooma box.

(the only reason I still had the landline was that Sonic’s agreement with AT&T required it)

Monday, March 9 2015

…and so it begins

Refrigerator so “smart” it joined a spam botnet. When combined with the eavesdropping Samsung TVs, we face An Exciting Future.

(and, yes, if they ever roll out IPv6 in a significant way, that fridge will be serving up kiddie porn to the world, too, with no need for crude NAT redirects or UPnP automatic hole-poking)

Sunday, March 1 2015

Dog food

(via (generally NSFW))

Wednesday, February 25 2015

Dynamic pricing and demand

The almost-ready Shapeoko 3 CNC mill will come with mounts appropriate for the DeWalt DWP611 compact router ($119 on Amazon). Often discussed in the forums is the fact that you only actually need the motor, which is available separately as the DNP611 ($79).

The DNP611 sold out at that price, came back into stock at $99, sold out at that price, came back into stock at $109, sold out at that price, and is now back in stock at $129. So it’s now cheaper to buy the standard router package and throw away everything but the motor.

(I haven’t bought one yet, since I’m waiting for a confirmed ship date before I buy router, bits, etc)

[Update! Today the circle is complete, as the full kit is now $99, a full $30 cheaper than the motor-only SKU. Perhaps I’ll buy mine now…]

[Update: speaking of almost-ready, today’s email says “Batch #1 will begin shipping in a few weeks!”, and I’m in batch 1. A quiet “woo-hoo” is in order, I think.]

I’m all for “expanding your mind”, but…

this novel’s blurb makes my head hurt:

Space travel has always come with risks. But hyperspace travel comes with one particularly frightening risk, namely, the non-corporeal dark energy-based macrobiotic entities that inhabit the void and are drawn to the presence of human minds. Once penetrated by a macrobe, the infected human mind rapidly devolves into raving insanity, which usually presents in a homicidal manner. Fortunately, hyperspace-capable ships are protected by a dark energy resonator that keeps the macrobes away and thereby permits safe interstellar travel.

I think I’ve read enough.

Tuesday, February 17 2015

Virtualizing my dead MacBook Pro

My laptop died recently after 5+ years of loyal service, and between the fact that pretty much all the Macs are due for a refresh soon, that I only reluctantly upgraded to Mountain Lion a while back and have no desire to migrate my very stable environment to the iPad-and-Helvetica beta known as Yosemite, and that I just don’t want to spend $3-4K right now, I had the office buy me one instead. My official work laptop had just turned 8 years old, so it seemed a reasonable request.

They didn’t want to spend $3-4K either, so now I’ve got a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro with a Core i5 and 512GB of SSD rather than the i7 with 1TB that I wanted. Got the 16GB of RAM, at least, which makes it possible to allocate 6-8GB for a VMware session containing my old hard drive. This allows me to split off my work and personal environments (which wasn’t a problem when I owned the hardware…). I’m waiting on a new USB3 enclosure for my old 1TB SSD, so at the moment I’m running the virtual on a Western Digital 2TB USB3 drive, and the spinning disk makes things take a bit longer than I’d like. Fully functional, though.

I have only a few things to complain about migrating my old environment into VMware Fusion:

  1. Added: vmware-vmx can take several minutes to exit after suspending the virtual machine and completely exiting VMware Fusion; this prevents me from ejecting the external drive. Specifically, the logs show that “pagefile sync to disk” starts running after the GUI shows the virtual as suspended, and doesn’t finish until 2-3 minutes later; the GUI doesn’t seem to know about this, and cheerfully exits.
  2. random resolution changes every time I switched between fullscreen and windowed (fixed by manually editing the preferences file to include pref.autoFitGuestToWindow = “FALSE” and pref.autoFitFullScreen = “stretchGuestToHost” and then forcing it to use the non-Retina screen resolution).
  3. iTunes crashes immediately (known problem with workaround: sudo nvram boot-args=’vmw_gfx_caps=0’).
  4. Photoshop CS5.5 doesn’t seem to be working correctly; the most obvious flaw is the lack of item highlighting in menus. Illustrator seems to be fine, though. (update: the iTunes workaround also fixes Photoshop)
  5. Aperture doesn’t work, because it spits on the emulated graphics card.
  6. collision between real and virtual Mission Control hot corners in fullscreen; not much I can do about that one, it seems.
  7. installation hell: I needed a Mac virtual to bootstrap the copy of my old drive into VMware container format, and every single one of the painstakingly-saved installers I have for Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, and Yosemite failed at the end of the install. Re-downloading Mountain Lion fixed that, “somehow”, which led to the next problem, which was incredibly slow copy speeds in SuperDuper. The trial copy of Carbon Copy Cloner worked, although it was originally going to take forever, too, because of a Yosemite bug that I had to work around.
  8. The Yosemite bug: if you create your user account as part of the Yosemite installation, and link it with iCloud, then a mandatory security policy is set that forces screen-locking after five minutes of idle time. This cannot be disabled, even by shutting off iCloud and breaking the link to the account. Performance of your VMware session goes to hell when the screen is locked, which I consider another OS bug. There are only two fixes: create a new user account that has never known the whip-hand of iCloud, or install Caffeine from the app store to fake out the idle timer.
  9. General Mac cruftiness: far too many preferences are tied to your hardware ID. Some of the stuff I had to reconfigure was just stupid.

I’ve migrated most of the work stuff over to the physical machine already, and with Homebrew and Perlbrew I’m almost fully functional again, and no longer need to carry a Mac Mini back and forth every day. I need to carry an external drive now, though, along with Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet and Thunderbolt-to-Firewire adapters. And a USB optical drive for those Special Occasions…

Monday, February 16 2015

How Hajime defeated Katze

I vaguely remember hearing something about this “coming soon”, but I happened to be browsing torrents and they’ve released an extended cut of the last episode of Gatchaman Crowds, which ties up all the loose ends.

The episode title is “Embrace”. The rest of the series is still on Crunchyroll, but it doesn’t look like they’ve licensed this, and of course the US box set was released a long time ago, so there’s no alternative to torrenting it.

Thursday, February 12 2015

Imminent Death of Net Predicted, Webcomics Edition

Outsider and Stone Clouds are both promising to resume Real Soon Now.

Wednesday, February 4 2015

No, your other left!

Dear DeWalt,

The instruction manual for the DWP611 compact router is quite clear and straightforward, with one slight exception:

Dewalt: your other left

Monday, February 2 2015

Stairway to heaven…


Wednesday, January 28 2015

An amusing scam from safewise.com

[Update: he tried again, and when I asked if the scam actually worked on anyone, he responded with a butthurt message insisting he was a real person offering honest assistance, and calling this post “cyber-bullying”. Best laugh I’ve had all week.]

Obviously machine-generated spam based on scraping search engines, since the suggested replacement has absolutely nothing to do with the original link. Never mind the fact that it was sent from a site hosted in Amazon’s cloud (rickgrimes.asoshared.com, which identified itself as www.buzzstream.com to the next hop), or that it was sent with JavaMail and includes a List-Unsubscribe header. Those just ice the spam-cake.

To: jgreely+temp201501@dotclue.org
Subject: Found an error to fix on your website
Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2015 14:55:14 -0800 (PST)
Good Afternoon,
I'm a criminal justice student and I recently visited your site while
researching for a paper I'm working on... This is a note for your
webmaster, as I found a dead resource link on your site that visitors
like me might be trying to access.
It's on this page: 
I got an error message when I tried to click on the link to this site: 
It looks like that website no longer exists... anyhow, I found another
link that might be useful in its place so your visitors can still find
some helpful information:
Thanks for your help and for providing great information!

Distilled Truths

From the comments over at According to Hoyt, a simple, elegant statement about Our Would-Be Overlords:

“A multiculturist would bring bring marshmallows to a suttee.”

Tuesday, January 27 2015


Not to be confused with siscon, lolicon, or any of the other fetish-con constructs in Japanese (in which case it would be “tiger complex”, which could get messy fast). No, I was suddenly curious to see if the original Dirty Pair novels used a kanji compound for the “Trouble Consultant” job title used by Our Heroines. Nope, it’s トラブル・コンサルタント, or トラコン for short.

Update: scrolling through the vocabulary list generated by my scripts, I was amused to discover that the words ホットパンツ and ジェノサイド appear exactly the same number of times. In fact, you could pretty much subtitle any discussion of the Lovely Angels with the phrase “hotpants and genocide”.

“Need a clue, take a clue; got a clue, leave a clue.”