failing like never before


Best Burn Ever

One of my roommates likes to leave our door open all the time in hopes that random people will stop as they walk past, allowing to meet new people. So last night, we had the door open and were setting up the TV and DVD player to watch The Wizard of Oz, when some guy knocks on our door and asks, "hey, do you guys know where Elfusio [or something like that, I really don't remember that well] lives?" One of my roommates replys with "nope, sorry."

But another of my roommates gives the visitor a funny look and says, "Wait, its a person? Sounds like a Pokemon."

And the visitor walked away. I hope he told his friend, 'cause it was pretty damn funny I think.

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Enchanted – A Review

While I was home for Christmas break last year (2007), I went to the movies with my friends. The fact that I went to the movies is actually quite noteworthy since I generally go about once a year, if even that. (I find it much more enjoyable to watch a movie on a 22 inch computer monitor in the comfort of my own dorm room, rather then have to keep moving my head to see past some fatty behemoth in front of me while a dumb kid kicks my seat every ten seconds. But I digress...) I had no idea what movie we were going to be seeing, but I went to hang out with my friends.

We saw Enchanted, that happily stupid, Disney movie thats a weird parody of a bunch of old Disney movies. I don't generally keep up with all the new movies coming out, so I wasn't really sure what it was about at first, so my initial reactions were a little something like this:

(Opening credits and then the movie begins with a cartoon.)

Me: Really guys, a cartoon? I just paid money to see a Disney cartoon? OK, the Incredibles and Finding Nemo were pretty cool, but still, someone could have told me. 

(The cartoon continues, showing Giselle building her prince mannequin out of random crap scourged from the forest.)

Me: If this doesn't get any better, I think I may very well leave. Because this is just sad people. We're legal adults, we shouldn't be watching this. Its not like we're even babysitting someone's younger sibling. We're here, sitting in a crowd of little kids and parents watching a Disney cartoon.

(We see Giselle transported to a world without love. Shocker, its our world.)

Me: OK, well maybe its getting a little better.

(Watching Giselle traipse across New York City)

Me: OMFG, somebody fetch me a gun.

(Lemme guess, you're looking for your princess. No, I'm looking for my prince)

Me: OK, so maybe this movie does have some funny parts.

(A few minutes later.)

Me: Nevermind, the bad outweighs the good. WHERE IS THAT GUN?!?!?

(The evil stepmother turns into a giant laughing dragon.)

Me: This is worse then the Eragon movie. ARGHHHHHHHhhhh

So that was my Enchanted review. I hope you all had fun. I happened to just think of writing this because I saw Enchanted again a few days ago when I was on a bus.


Celebrating the Internet

Today I celebrate the 39th anniversary of the birth of the internet with a short blog post.

On September 29th of this year (2008), Leonard Kleinrock, a professor of computer science at UCLA received the National medal of Science at the White House for his work on the developing the basic principles of packet switching. It was because of Kleinrock's early work in packet switching, that his Network Measurement Center at UCLA was selected to be the first node on ARAPNET in 1969.

On October 29, 1969, the UCLA team sent, without any great public fanfare, the first ever host-to-host message to the Stanford Research Institute. The team meant to begin by sending the word "login" but only managed to send "log" before the network died. Nevertheless, the sending of the message was still a great success and a landmark in the development of the internet.

One would think that UCLA, or somebody, would maybe post a nice plaque commemorating what is essentially the birth of the internet. But the birthplace of the internet remains almost entirely uncelebrated. Almost.

Your brave and intrepid blogger, decided to venture out to UCLA's famous Boelter Hall to see the historic site, and found a little piece of paper tacked next to a room. It read:

1969-10-29 22:30
of the first ARPANET
message, sent to the
Stanford Research
Institue from 3420
Boelter Hall.
It marks the most
evident orign of
today's internet.

And just so everyone doesn't think I'm a big fat liar, I've taken a few pictures.

Its epic cool, I know.

I bet y'all are so jealous that I got to visit the birthplace of the internet...



I've always tried to keep some seperation between my internet and physical presence, especially when it comes to this blog. I don't want my roommates knowing that I write unflattering articles about them on my website, and nor do I want some random dude that lives in the middle of Montana (i.e. nowhere) knowing everything about my day to day life ('cause thats just kinda creapy).

Most personal blogs have a little "about the author" section, or something that describes the writer and their personality. But because of my desire to seperate my internet and physical self, I've never really written one, until now. So here's a suitably vague description of me.

I like computers, and reading, and mucking about with Linux. I tend to go through phases where I get obsessive about one single thing. Right now, its bikes, before it was watching old reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I often have trouble concentrating on anything; when I'm in class I'm thinking about fixing my bike, and when I'm watching TV with my roommate I'm thinking about my math homework.

I have an extremely active imagination and am capable of keeping myself amused for hours on end without moving an inch.

I often wish I were smarter.

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Weirdo Student

I'd like to describe a very brief dialogue that went on in my math lecture just this morning (about an hour ago). Mind you, my lecture has about 150 people in it, attendance is not taken and therefore not mandatory. For the sake of space, I shall refer to the weirdo student as WoS from this point forward. 

Prof: (after having explained a new concept) Are there any questions?

WoS: (raises his hand and is called on by the professor) Its more of an aside really, are you going to be letting us out early on Friday? 'Cause I have some business to take care of.

(Seriously, who the hell says, "I have some business to take care of?" Is he referring to Flight of the Conchords? "Its Business time!"  Although I seriously doubt it, WoS doesn't seem to be that kind of a person. Or perhaps WoS just really had to go to the bathroom. Anyway, I digress...)

Prof: If you have to go, just get up and go.

WoS: Oh, but you're such a great professor, I don't want to just leave.

Prof: If you have to go, just go.

At this point the professor continues on with the regular lecture.

I should probably point out, that in these large lectures, it is quite common for students to leave before lecture is over. Professors generally don't mind as long the student is discrete about it.

I'm pretty sure someone whispered that WoS was an asshole, right after the little dialogue was over. I personally would have called him a dumbass, but thats just me. WoS ended up staying for the whole lecture (maybe he peed in a cup) and as people were filing out, he said "OK, who was it that called me an asshole?" and managed to make a complete ass out of himself.

So well done WoS, well done.


Linux and Me

I was first formally introduced to Linux during my junior year in high school by a friend who had seen someone else run it. At this in my life, I considered myself to be a geek and computer lover, but in reality I knew very little about computers; my experience was limited to some Microsoft Windows XP, C++ and HTML, and building my own computer. I became interested in this "new" operating system, entranced by the idea of free and open source software and jealous of the high geek status granted to Linux gurus, for it seemed as though all the "cool" people ran Linux.

I borrowed some Mandriva CDs from my friend, used Partition Magic to resize my Windows NTFS partition, and installed Mandriva Linux. The experience was nowhere as delightful as I would have liked; my ATI Radeon graphics card failed to mesh properly with Xorg and instead of booting into a cool new glossy interface, my computer dropped to a shell, spat cryptic error messages to the screen, and then calmly prompted me for a login name. I spent the next few days shifting from my parent's computer to my own, trying to find a way to fix X and boot into something that I might be able to understand. I typed into the shell dozens of commands, scrounged from various forums and install guides, hoping that one of the seemingly random strings of characters would be my savior. But my attempts were futile, I had no idea what I was doing, and didn't even bother to try to understand what was going wrong. Eventually, I got so fed up with Mandriva that I gave up and went back to using XP.

I spent the next few month with Windows, sometimes scrolling through random threads in Linux forums and reading little tidbits about the operating system that had failed me, when I decided that perhaps it was time to give Linux another chance. At that time, Fedora and Ubuntu were the user-friendly distributions of choice, and so I spent a few days debating between the two. I ended up downloading Fedora simply because at the time, I thought Fedora Core was a much cooler name then Ubuntu. Maybe it was because the version of Fedora I was using had a newer kernel then the Mandriva CDs my friend lent me, but Fedora installed and booted without a hitch. I was cruising the web and ripping music almost immediately, and it didn't take long for me to discover the wonders of Beryl and the spinning desktop cube. It was hard not to fall in love with Fedora. It was faster and lighter then Windows XP, could do things that Windows wouldn't even be able to compete with for a few more years, and it improved my geek cred immensely.

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HFS+ and Linux

In a talk that Linus Torvalds gave in February this year (2008), Torvalds claimed that Mac OS X's file system is "complete and utter crap, which is scary." That was the first time I ever heardabout Mac OS X's file system.

One of my roommates is a Mac user and is quite ignorant of almost all things technical. Recently, his hard drive crashed and he had to send his shiny Macbook Pro to a company that specialized in data recovery, and so he is currently without a computer. He does however still have a working external hard drive that contains a plethora of videos, and so yesterday I asked him if I could borrow his hard drive and look through some of his videos. He told me that I wouldn't be able to use his hard drive on my computer because one of his roommates last year, "reformatted it in a special way so that only Macs could read it."

Having read a little into Apple's file systems, after Torvald's comment earlier this year, I hypothesized that my roommate's hard drive was using Apple's HFS+ file system. Linux has surprisingly good support for various different file systems, even Microsoft's proprietary NTFS, so I knew that it was extremely likely that there existed a HFS+ driver for Linux.  So I told my roommate, "don't worry, I don't have a PC, I'll be able to read it just fine." It was a little presumptuous of me to think that I wouldn't encounter any issues with mounting a HFS+ drive, but I have great faith in the Linux community.

I plugged his hard drive into my laptop, turned it on, opened xterm and typed:

fdisk -l 

Fdisk listed his hard drive as /dev/sdb, but it also said that the drive's file system was unrecognizable, which I rather expected. A five-second Google search revealed that the modules for HFS and HFS+ are called "hfs" and "hfsplus." So I went into xterm again, and tried:

 modprobe hfsplus

mount -t  hfsplus /dev/sdb /media/hd

And the drive mounted without a problem.

According to SourceForge the hfsplus module offers full support for HFS+ file systems. So, yeah! Go Linux!

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