Monday, December 31, 2007

Word of the Day

Intractable - Some questions cannot be answered simply without making a leap of faith, for example: what will this object be worth 10 years from now? These problems can be said to be intractable.

How much value is in a 10GB tract of disk space on a RAID with an interface to Subversion that is access-controlled? Does the value change depending on the particular data contained within? Are there conditions under which a lower "acreage" would actually have a higher value?

How much cost variation is introduced into the equation as disks fail and are replaced? Is it possible that a malicious user could introduce so much excess throughput into the system that this cost is increased? If a fault in security is experienced, what are the potential risks to data? (espionage, corruption)

What strategies can be used to minimize these risks without impacting well-intentioned users? Can these strategies be implemented without the necessity of employing any full-time personnel? What if the size of the user-base is especially small? Can a fair price for such a service be defined on a small scale, if there is no set billing cycle, and if billing does not recur?

This is also what I do.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Private E-mails

I'm actually still in decompression, the company is Thomson Legal and Regulatory (West) and I get the impression it's your standard Big IP Corporation.

I'm pretty sure there are actually a lot of lawyers in the company and I could probably get the advice I want, but if I start asking questions like those and demanding answers, they're going to think I'm looking for trouble.

Here's what I think: I'm going to keep a copy of EVERYTHING that I produce, and in case somebody asks, I'm going to claim it's my legal duty thanks to Sarbanes Oxley. They've shown me absolutely no evidence that anything I do is being backed up regularly.

I think that makes it my responsibility to keep an off-site backup. Of course it's not reasonable or necessary to assert ownership until "it" is worth money, and I'd better be fully disclosive and forthcoming about any associations I make outside of the company.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Another Critical Update = No Christmas

About these computers: I have to say I got fed the biggest line of manure about how and what these things are supposed to do for me!

Another critical update from Microsoft and now all I know is my software repository is down, until the administrator comes back to his desk and flips a switch in the right order. And when I sit in front of this machine processing my task list, with each day that passes I tend to wonder to myself: where are my six-packs of rock-hard abs and washboard stomachs?

That's it! Tomorrow is canceled, unschedule my appointments and disable my spell checkers! Take everything important, wrap it up and put it all up in the Internets, because someone has got to take control of it all before everything becomes completely out of hand.

All I can say is that machines in my day ran with half as much memory at twice the speed, and they didn't complain about it either! Of course I don't think they had this sweet radio to listen to while they did, anyway remember while you do, these radios are sweet, and you have to guard them and protect them from invaders...

if those people get their hands on these radios, you don't want to know what they're gonna do! i am serious, and with all that you may now receive your quote for the day: the going rate for a sandwich and chips is three and a half dollars.

Massalam
Kingdon

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Security < Performance

Desktop applications in the same running session often have necessity to pass messages back and forth, to provide for a smooth and cohesive end-user experience, as well as to gather enough information to effectively manage process life-cycles. This necessity frequently runs at odds with the goal of information security.

Code and data carried on a USB key is guaranteed not to be accessed by anybody else, so long as the key is in your possession and any computers you use to access the key are not attached to a network. Firewalls establish network boundaries and proxy servers serve as access points by which such measures can be bypassed.

Passwords and encryption are sometimes helpful for this reason as well. Other times, we developers just build APIs so complex that the required cost of investing oneself to understand the goal of a project is actually higher than the value which can be extracted from within the boundaries of the development process.

Blogged with Flock

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Gap

Currently spinning my wheels looking for the way to bridge the gap from software testing to increases in revenue. I'm not trying to say that there is no utility for software testers, or that software testers have no direct effect on revenue...

Actually this is exactly what I am saying. What is a software tester? If the software provided some benefit to the users that increased their bottom line, we would simply be called software users. If we were working on the API's and increasing the feature-completeness of our software, it would be called development. A software tester is something in the middle.

A person who doesn't know their software well enough to profit from use, or isn't smart enough to improve it directly... how discouraging that sounds! Rest assured, these jobs will still be here; software has faults just as people, and there must be someone underneath the productive developers to take the chopping block if the quality of released software is especially low! :-D

Anyway, we have got an especially low volume of distinct assignments from The Management since arrival and I'm taking this as a sign to mean that we testers had better know what to do with a code base. Word from full-time employees is that it can take as long as 3 months to get up to speed and really become a functioning member of a development team.

I can't stand the idea of spending 3 months as a useless living widget in a building full of widget makers, so I guess I'll have to work smarter and harder! The Blackjack project just got a new requirement for cross-platform execution, so I can continue development on my own time. That way I'll have something left to do when I run out of rooms to clean in my house.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

FolderShare

So my buddy Dan told me about this awesome program called FolderShare... and I don't know if I'll ever look at another Network File System again!

No seriously, that's how good this program is. You can build a network of your own computers that all replicate files back and forth automatically, you can set restrictive permissions for a user that allows addition but not deletion or editing of files, you can do everything remotely that you would do locally if you configure the app another way. Best of all, it seems to work seamlessly around NAT restrictions.

I doubt this will get past the Thomson corporate firewalls... and that's a damn shame, I sure hope the app works internally at least! It just does what it sounds like, share a folder, and it does it extremely well. Revision history is another thing, and I'm keeping Subversion around for this purpose... and the presentation layer is born! Sweet.

Download it here.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Blackjack Simulation

I'm working on a simulation of Blackjack to remind myself of how a program with business logic would be constructed. There are a couple of simple classes in package casino, including Dealer, Shoe, Card, Table, Player, Hand, Chips (aka Bank), Door, and optionally Cashier for converting from one type of currency to another.

Players enter the casino through the Door with a certain amount of money in their personal Bank, case the Tables which each have a single Dealer and Shoe, and a finite number of seats. Player joins a Table and places a bet. Each Player Hand is dealt from the Shoe, then a brief exchange between Player and Dealer decides whether any more cards are dealt into that Hand. The process is repeated with the next Player until the value of each Hand is determined.

The Dealer then completes the transaction by dealing out his own Hand, comparing the value of each other Hand on the Table to his own Hand, and making any necessary adjustments to each player's Bank. Players decide whether to play another Hand, either placing a new bet or leaving the Table, and for as long as this pattern continues another Hand is dealt for every bet. When a Player has had enough, he can proceed to the Cashier and/or leave out the Door with his money.

With the assumption that not every Player is smart, we can fairly assume that the casino will not run out of money and it is almost pointless to maintain a central bank; you can only watch as the balance increases, and as it rises, so does the number of Players who have been bankrupted by the house. This is not the goal of a good casino, and such a statistic would only serve to make the owner feel guilty! Adjust the scenario to allow smart players who can count cards, adjusting their bets based on the probability of winning each hand, and your casino owner may begin to feel compelled to introduce door guards and pit bosses.

The simulation results will tell us if the reasonable casino owner has real cause to be concerned.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Thoughts on Drugs

As long as drugs are here you better pay the electric bill!

I mean, there are two ends for a drug vendor, either dead or in jail. As for the rest of you...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Personal Area Networks

Going to invest a little time to learn a radical new network and the code that backs it: the BluetoothTransaction (or HiptopTransaction) is all about Personal Area Networks. The only connections that are established are between paired devices that are each zero hops remote, meaning the whole network generally has one hub (the computer or the phone) and connections are not usually routed from machine to machine, though data may be.

This introduces all kinds of new opportunities to obsolete protocols in small-scale networks where technologies are exploited to their fullest potentials, including potentially such notable protocols as DNS, DHCP, and even perhaps TCP. More reading is necessary to say whether I am talking out of my ass or saying something meaningful with this. The address space is seemingly more like MAC hardware addressing and IPX protocol, and less like IPv4 or IPv6.

Some links are included in my Del.icio.us feed and there is a lot of background information on the Danger Developer Zone. The first article in the series is going up here on the KPB Code blog. From the Danger docs, this one looks like the biggest mess of difficult information to process.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hello My Business Student

This is a note from a student who says he's working on some projects he intends to monetize. What should I tell him? I think it's OK to allow for-profit usages in academic contexts. He paid his tuition, so technically he has paid the bill for access to the software.

So is there line crossing that mandates another new purchase after graduation? I think that the answer is no, and I think that software licensing fees are enforced on developers through obsoleting libraries.

If that is so, then it's also true that a steady flow of sales for new computers running Vista is necessary to keep Microsoft in business. And yet adoption is not happening in academic Computer circles!

Upgrading a computer's operating system is expensive, and can result in the loss of your private data. The same student who hand-picks every component of his computer and purchases them unassembled is likely to run a pirated retail copy of Windows XP. Without purchasing a DVD Writer, he is unlikely to ever pirate Windows Vista of his own volition.

It's my passion in life to deliver a copy of Windows Vista to that wonderfully frugal, self-amused, possibly also piracy free, long-term Microsoft development technician, and show him how to use it. If he reads the license agreement like he's supposed to do, then I'm sure he'll know he's supposed to pay Microsoft some money.

Microsoft, are you as smart as Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com? When did we buy their software? Every time it didn't cost us anything but a click. How do we pay for that? This is another question altogether, and I'm still looking for a good answer myself.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Polish Ambassador!

I understand now! You have to be simultaneously hot and cool, and only through the wonders of Polish technology can that be accomplished successfully. Meet The Polish Ambassador, I can only hope to be as cool as this guy. The Polish Ambassador is the life of the party and he's wearing a track suit!

read more | digg story

Monday, October 15, 2007

Egg is Funny

The FBI, working with Homeland Security, raided Valve headquarters this morning, detaining developers who work with the popular Counterstrike mod. Authorities confiscated computers used to program the game. The developers are being held on charges of domestic terrorism at an undisclosed prison that may or may not be located in the United States.

read more | digg story

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Seeking Authors

I am currently seeking an additional author or editor for The Sixth Layer blog to help determine the direction of the establishment.  Please inquire within and we can discuss the arrangements between us in privacy.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Support for OSS Developers

Open Source code development and peer review methodologies necessitate a new understanding of the concept of product support. Rod Johnson knows Spring, but he's not the only guy who can support it. He argues that control over the central source repository puts his company in a unique position, but distributed version control tools like Monotone and Mercurial threaten his espoused concept of centralized ownership.

read more | digg story

Friday, October 12, 2007

Publishing Workflows

The goal is to keep information in the loop as much as possible, so I'll tell you when I'm making changes and you can review them. We're just dealing with a big bag of files here, so there's no requirement that we use a publishing workflow, but it's going to result in a higher quality result and more opportunities for collaboration and improvement. To enforce something like a publishing workflow on myself I use TortoiseSVN. This tool integrates with a public database that I run called Subversion, that's designed to facilitate collaboration over a set of code or data files or programs. This program will work on any Windows XP or greater PC.

Subversion is an important part of the publishing process. WebSVN exposes information as RSS data, which is easy to track using external tools like mail and news. I don't want to waste your time or mine with unnecessary steps, and I'm already in the market for a better tool, but I haven't found anything that competes in that space or anything that's so easy to use as Subversion. Files are organized into directories, and changes are implemented in the form of commits, which are like releases, or episodes in a show. It's simple to ask a file or a directory for a history of all the changes that it has been put through, and very helpful to browse the comments on a file's change-sets, or to subscribe to a part of the tree and watch as it evolves.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Friday Update

Working on a presentation on digital assets management so I can show some friends how to go about making web pages. Just made a DVD and there will be more information coming soon. The release ID is "RER-0 10-12-2007". Contents include Friday notes, some personality images, and a handful of websites.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ubuntu iFolder Server

Today's experiment: iFolder on Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon.

The result: a mixed success. The web service allows web users and I can create users, folders, and files, and retrieve them again. However, the iFolder clients of various versions for Windows (and presumably Mac, Linux also) report strange error messages, and so does the Apache log.

The client reports a bad username/password pair, when the same pair works perfectly from the web login. The server logs indicate a misconfigured mod_mono which points to the .exe assembly rather than a native binary. These may or may not be related; I read an article on this same procedure that says Ubuntu's mod_mono is broken, and this may all be symptoms of that problem.

I've downloaded a Novell NetWare 6.5SP6 installation CD, and I'm going to give it a go on some real iron and give my VMWare servers a break. Hopefully I can use blackruby to see how a properly configured iFolder server should behave, and perhaps I will be able to narrow down my own problems in this way.

Notes from the Gutsy Gibbon installation are included below:

Follow the instructions from Edgy Eft. Peruse the instructions for Dapper Drake also, as some steps have been omitted and may still be relevant. Compiling from the iFolder SVN Trunk was rife with issues on a vanilla Gutsy Gibbon.

First step is to install libflaim, seemingly the database manager of choice for Novell products, or at least iFolder. You will probably need to download the source, I haven't found any working binaries for Ubuntu. Remember to install flex, libncurses-dev, and pkg-config! This was not mentioned in the Edgy Eft installation guide.

Your iFolder compilation will probably fail if you neglect to update configure.in with the following change, something about the Stat namespace:

CSCFLAGS='/d:MONO /d:MONONATIVE /warn:4 /d:TRACE'

If you're installing into /usr/local don't forget to update your PKG_CONFIG_PATH and /etc/ld.so.conf with the appropriate directories. gSOAP will give you a hard time if you have very limited memory; 128MB was not enough for me, the compilation would hang indefinitely on the first large file until I increased the memory to 384MB.

Now I'm hung up on Apache configuration and mod_mono. One can only hope that the configuration is easier on Novell's own platform, NetWare Server. If not, I'll have to live without iFolder for a couple of weeks while I tie up some loose ends with RIT Administration.

Some relevant articles:

Also I should mention, I am in the market for an experienced Novell Linux OES system administrator with good oral and written communication skills. Contact me however you like, nowadays I'm mostly lurking on the RIT Facebook and Gmail.

Yours truly, Kingdon
(thursday.nerdland.org
RSA 0c:d9:e0:c1:8b:da:6d:62:06:ca:0a:3f:9d:85:23:4a)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Ambrosia's Andrew Welch and the iPhone

Andrew Welch discusses the state of the union with regard to Apple and Third Party Developers for the iPhone; this is a hot topic with today's software developers who are conscious of the issue of licensing. Watch as the famous DVD/CSS heist of American Digital Liberties returns in a new form to repeat itself, and see how the battle plays out when Apple is in the driver's seat.

The question of the day is this: can we still send our pirate signals over their wireless links, using our FCC approved hardware that we bought and paid for?

Today the answer is a resounding "Absolutely Not," at least not without the involvement of a third party. Their name is Rogue Amoeba, and their product AirFoil enables the user to redirect input from any arbitrary sound source on a Windows or Macintosh computer (any program's audio output or device driver's software input) into an Airport Express. It's based on a software crack called JustePort that was produced by Norwegian DVD Jon Johansen.

Does the encryption layer that Jon has broken add anything to copyright controls? No. For that matter, neither does DVD-CSS. It merely adds an encrypted layer that system manufacturers can use to test for the presence of "approved hardware." What does that do? It enables device and system manufacturers to control the flow of bits, to restrict it to travel across only approved hardware devices, and to establish digital venues in which copyright controls can be enforced.

What does that mean? It means that, because of agreements Apple has made with the Recording Industry, you will have to pay a Rogue Amoeba some amount of money if you wish to use the digital audio output on your Airport Express with any audio source other than Apple's iTunes media player.

Why is that significant? To tell the absolute truth, I'm not sure, but it sounds like it might have something to do with terrorism. To read more about DVD Jon Lech Johansen and his interesting life, visit Wikipedia.

read more | digg story

Fall Reading List

I've got some reading to catch up on, so here comes a brief book-report style summary of my latest internet reading and software picks with a focus on manipulation of code and data, to provide support for a broadly capable spectrum of data publishing, access, sharing and retrieval across a variety of platforms.

I feel like mowing the lawn.

OK Apple friends, the first release of macsaq arrives tomorrow. There will be macsaq CD's weighing in at close to 700MB after bzip2 compression. I expect them to cost about $2000 apiece, signed sealed and delivered. I heard that MD5 has been broken, how come there's no SHA1 on my Leopard Client system?

Novell has released some pretty neat software that I want to try. My delicious feed is busting out at the seams with unfunded projects. Leopard has some neat protection against code invasion... try this, yar yon pirates!

I want to work on porting iFolder Server to Mac, but Novell hacked my Windows Server 2003/VMWare box, and as a computer is a prerequisite to using iFolder (preferably two computers, at least one non-mac) it's going to cost more than that to get started with development of iFolder.

Any chance you want to surprise me with a copy of OSX Leopard Server to review instead?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Nice Dreams

I had a dream about skiing last night.  I think I was skiing, I really don't remember that, really all I remember about the environment was that there was snow on the ground and we were all dressed for the winter.

The little girl wearing pink couldn't have been more than three or four years old.  She was carrying my father's wood-splitting axe, which is incredible—that axe is very heavy, and very sharp! Her mother didn't seem surprised or worried, even after the daughter had taken a swing at me!

I wasn't worried either, in fact the only reason she hit me was because I extended my hands in front of me to catch the swinging blade.  It was a violent and barbarous overhead downward swing, and my hands cupped like I was holding a water.

She hit me with quite a force, left a clear slice above the lifeline in my white leather glove.  Cows and bulls are cute, their hides make very strong organ protectors.

On another note, I heard Krypto is planning to buy a player piano and make it into taps.  Not just one beer tap, FIVE taps.  Talk about the life of the party!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Indi-go byebye

Well I like to play with computers, it's a habit that I cultivate so long as it's not too expensive, and I have to say this SGI Indigo will cost more to operate than it would take to get myself a brand new iPod Touch. Sorry SGI, I like your systems and even though you didn't sell me out like Apple does every day, today I can't afford to do business with your kind. The previous owner lost the root password for this Indigo2, and even cracking it wide open revealed no clues as to how to alter the system details or to set a default IPv4 route and get to the Internet.

It's no good to me without a new set of disks or an appropriate SCSI controller for one of my other computers, so I can set a new root password hash in /etc/passwd, and enable access to the command monitor as a prerequisite to the Debian network installation. If you send me one of these before I sign a contract with another company, I might just get lost in your systems forever! (They're nice machines.)

Still I wonder if this box can prom boot without a disk and bypass the passwords altogether... I might damage something if I start hot-swapping disks, better to throw it in a box and leave it for the spiders, or come back in 10 years when it's really worth something! I still haven't finished my blackjack simulation and determined the proof, that might be more valuable.

I'm interested to see if there's really any substance to this famous MIT blackjack team I've heard so much about; because of minimum and maximum table bets, I speculate that a group could do the most damage to the house bankroll if a player could somehow emit a signal encoding the most extreme counts, like a person at a table who says "it's payday, sit here now and bet big." My simulation will thus model telepathic Player objects who can wander from table to table, and see if this helps to cement the heist.

I think I might simulate a whole casino for that matter, rules like these would make for a much better immersing game than the Genesis Caesar's Palace game that I remember so fondly for the poorly animated horse races! Dubbed Virtual Pit Boss, the casino risk analysis application.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Life and Times

I've been slacking on my Word of the Day service, sorry. Life is fun, times are hard.

These are are two good ones to bring you up to speed:

Accordance - In accordance with the principal that the strength and viability of a software product must be proven before it is sold, and that the proof should be available to anyone regardless of execution platform or a background in any other kind of ware, applications produced as a part of the KPBCode project will be written using the C# language.

Conciliation - In a gesture of conciliation for the Mac developers who have endeavored to bring me the finest software at the lowest cost, and who have succeeded admirably by my esteemed judgement, the Interface Builder and Cocoa-Sharp libraries will be used for some user interface elements.

I am not a lawyer, but with words like these I could write a bullet-proof contract.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hardware Configuration Specialist

I'm defining a new market for my services, in serious hopes that someone will pick me up and pay for what I do. I've got a room full of computers that are all doing something or other, mostly different from each other in ways that I can substantiate to ordinary people who are not substantially technical in nature. This market is called hardware configuration.

Some companies expect an investment from you, to start working with them. Some companies invest themselves substantially in free and open software distribution models, like Red Hat and The Fedora Project, and Sun Corporation; these companies make their software available for no charge, in hopes that their market will grow faster if they place fewer obstacles between their customers and their software.

I'm giving Solaris 10 a shot on my desktop workstation, and it looks like a good system! There is a distinction that programmers make, between Free and Open Source Software, as compared to simply "free as in beer" software, and some would say that Solaris is not as free as Linux. This is not a distinction that is meaningful to non-programmers, as hard as we programmers may try to explain sometimes.

For Solaris 10, it took a small amount of googling around to make the NVidia video drivers operate properly. Aside from that, the updates have not all applied properly, and I can't find an easy way to add a new user for regular system login from the main login screen. But if you ignore these niggling details, there's nothing wrong! Log in as root, and use the system to produce documents and surf the web just like you use any computer.

I've also heard of a new piece of software called WUBI that should allow me to use the free space on my Windows installation to support an Ubuntu client OS. Slick! I think that both of these operating systems are on the same level of difficulty. More to come, it's late and I need rest so I can make it to my real job tomorrow.

;-)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Still Seeking Employment

In my search for employment I've found that there are some things that an interviewer for a computer science job generally wants, and today they are things that I don't have, to my satisfaction. First, they want to see an unofficial transcript; that is taken care of. I've got an official transcript and I can make as many unofficial copies as I want, so this is not a problem.

The next thing they will ask to see is a code sample; what can you do, and what have you done? I'm pretty good at explaining the projects I've done, but I don't own the copyright to any of the more valuable ones! In fact the only projects of mine that have a concrete value in US Dollars were explicitly work for hire. I don't feel comfortable publishing a work for hire into the public domain, unless I have full ownership of the copyrights.

Consider my dilemma: if I do a good job and really capture the market, then that's one more free project to distract my potential customers and clients from their other needs. That means less time spent griping about things that don't work, and at least one less paying job for people with my particular skill set! What an awful predicament.

In response, the Metris project is born. Follow this code base and you can observe the changes in my coding style while I work with other developers. My goal is to generate a 3D-Accelerated Tetris clone that is both cross-platform and full of useful features.

The project repository is a Subversion hosted using Apache and ModDAV, enabled with WebSVN for your RSS viewing pleasure. I hope you'll consider joining the project, so feel free to e-mail me if you'd like write access to the repository and I will certainly grant your wish!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sharing Bandwidth and Disk

A short guide to the art of maintaining multiple copies of data using everyday Windows applications. All of the tools to keep yourself a-float in today's computing environment: more network storage than you need, smart backup choices for your disks and discs alike. Also a tool for compression and another for revision tracking in work-groups.

read more | digg story

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Value of a Word

If a person tells you he's going to be somewhere, or that he's going to call you at a particular time, usually I get in the habit of expecting that he's going to follow through with that commitment. In dealing with some people, in fact this is true for most every business person I have had association with recently, there is a gap. That's a gap between the explicit meaning of the words you choose to express yourself, and the reality of your actions.

This is not unusual, and I believe from a sales perspective it may actually be the norm in most businesses. When I am dealing with a web developer, I don't expect to hear this: "We're doing our best, however this or that feature will not work in Internet Explorer, Mozilla, or Opera," or "That sounds like something I should be able to do, but I'll have to check the API documentation for our particular framework." I have experience in the area of web development and software in general, and I understand that different platforms have different strengths and weaknesses.

Just as different implementations have different behaviors, to some extent different cultures have different interpretations of right and wrong, of good and bad, and so in your personal life as well as business, it is nearly impossible to please everybody all of the time. But from my perspective as a consumer, does that mean that I should lower my expectations? NO! Absolutely not. If your business model depends on lying to the customer, and if I catch you doing it, then you will receive a hard time from me, your humble customer.

However; if I'm at your door begging for a job, then it's a completely different story; you pay your employees because they are valuable to you. As a business, you have to consider the time and money that you spend to recruit your employees. Some people that you never hire will cost you money! This fact will influence your decision to either offer a job, or to circular file a paper application from a person who just spent 30 minutes of their own time in your business, perhaps even without contributing a single dime to the cost of rent!

Even so, we get experimental results like my experience earlier this week at the Verizon Wireless office. I walked in the front door and asked for what I thought I wanted (to buy a phone, and that's what I thought they were in the business of selling), and holding a contract in my name, it was perhaps an obligation on them as a good business to sell me what I really should have rather than what I think I want, or even what I say I need. So I walked right back out the front door, and no sales were made. Is that good business? Perhaps it is.

It's worth mentioning also that my visit to the Sprint store on the same day ended with a similar experience; these guys didn't seem to want my business as long as I had a contract with Verizon Wireless. They were aware that I might become unhappy with the Wireless Phone industry as a whole if I had a bad experience switching from Verizon to Sprint. Whether the experience is billed to Sprint or Verizon is immaterial to me, the disaffected wireless customer. They are in league together.

I haven't done the fact checking to support this, but I suspect that wire-line phones are still cheaper than wireless by at least a 2:1 ratio. If I spend my days in the office and my nights at home, and if I'm living in a relatively safe city where I can reasonably ask for the help of a stranger, for example, if I have a flat tire, then I can surely save money by dropping my cellular phone and living the hard-wired life. Fact!

Of course, I'm one of those who receives internet service at home as well as the office; the situation gets much more complicated when you consider Voice over IP as an alternative to traditional phone service. I'm still not completely sold on taking that route.

Also, If you're following my portfolio decisions in the Beat the Street stock market game, you will notice that I'm having a great week! Actually, I'm not any better off than last week. I won some, I lost some, but perhaps most important to note; Red Hat is still the biggest loser! I almost wish I had held on to my Sony stock, and sold Red Hat instead. Luke, I don't think you're a vampire... but the charts! Only kidding :) war is hell. By the way, did I pick up a subscriber somewhere?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lost my Phone! Help!

I haven't really lost my phone, it was hiding in the green bag, but for a day or two I thought I might have lost it forever. I've been visiting lots of friends recently, including camping out by Lake Ontario and digging in the gardens at Battle Green, you know my phone might be in the depths of the sea or buried neck deep in soil, if not for the notorious green bag!

While I thought my phone was gone, I spent some time looking for a new one. I checked out the Verizon website and was informed that my contract had a few months left before I could make a trade, but I spotted an option to upgrade early under the New-Every-Two program and so I checked it out. I'm a sucker for cool features, and I'm always looking to replace my other gadgets with more featureful, less expensive alternatives.

My old phone has a data cable that doesn't work, on account of proprietary software that wasn't included and can't be downloaded anymore. I was attracted to the Nokia 6315i for the GPS VNavigator service, EVDO data plan, and Bluetooth wireless connection; the cost was $29.99, and while I could have a phone for free, those extras were enough to seal the deal for me. I filled out the form and printed it out, then hopped in my car to go pick up my new phone at the local Verizon Wireless office... if only it were that easy.

David, the first sales rep to greet me when I came in the door, was quick to explain that I really didn't want a new phone if my contract was not up. I showed him my print of the deal from the website, and he told me he couldn't honor that price; he was also suspicious that if I had actually placed the order, I would have been billed the full retail price of the phone, costing me over $200. Great job sir, you know I'm definitely sold now!

I explained that my phone was lost and I was looking for work, and so I would really rather not leave the store without a phone. He told me my best bet was to order through the website, and I would only wait a couple of days for shipping. The model I wanted was not in stock here, and he couldn't help me anyway until July 22, on account of my contract. Needless to say, I had heard enough from David at this point.

I walked over to the customer service desk and explained my situation with the lost and found phone, to see if perhaps there was a data cable that I could purchase to back up my contacts in case it was lost for real; of course not, those are a special order, and of course you will need another different cable to load the numbers onto your new phone when you get it. The customer service rep explained, "Navigate through the Get-It-Now menus and find Backup Assistant, and for an additional $1.99/mo your contacts will automatically be stored daily on our servers." On their servers. Right... so much for data retention.

Might as well put the icing on the cake: I asked about the EVDO and Bluetooth support on the new phone that I was meaning to buy; well, that sounds like something you should be able to do, in fact the phone supports that, but you can't use it; we disable that functionality. The bluetooth is only for those headsets that our customers use so they can walk around looking like Borg drones. I think Verizon executives should own stock in AT&T/Apple. Can you hear me now?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tuesday Evening Update

What an awful day for my stock portfolio! Boy am I glad this is not real money. TNE (Tele Norte Leste) still carries the losers WMT, RHT, and ADBE, while IBM is just barely in a profitable position since I've bought it. EMC also not doing so poorly. What have we learned? Listen to The Motley Fool before you listen to Kingdon's natural instincts for a good stock pick.

OK, now that we have that ugly business out of the way: Wednesday Eve Landscape and Taxi is also making some progress. This evening I will transplant the remaining Zucchini plants to the flower boxes in the back yard, and hopefully they live. We need some weed killers to spray into the crevices, and it's also time to get out the edger and clean up the lawn. The roof also needs work, and I'll probably have to farm out to a local company with insurance for that.

I'm writing up some job descriptions to help form a model of my activities, and to help quantify sources of work and my expenditures of labor time within a day. As much as I would like to immediately in-source a project and charge a fee to carry it through to completion, it is not easy to do this completely independently, and even harder to keep things straight without writing job descriptions. Hopefully my work scales well and I will find myself managing a team as I run short on my own time.

I'm also working with the people from ArabicPod trying to diagnose their podcast feed issues—for some reason there are serious problems with iTunes and even worse with Safari. Internet Explorer 7 and Google Reader work just as expected, but neither of these viewers are intended for audio podcasts. I would love to have a look at the source and spend a couple of minutes fixing it up, as Feed Validator indicates there are some problems in the proper formatting of the RSS, apparently generated with a buggy PHP script.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Revenue Units

Earlier this week I sold my Sony stock. Today it gained over $1k. Figures! Now I'm selling WDC for my first profit, and buying EMC and TNE, on the Motley Fool's advice. I'm optimistic, but we'll see how this works out in a few days when I come back here to read the charts again.

What else is new: today I'm drawing up some marketing information and invoices for services that I perform regularly (I fix computers), and making a chart of my real expenses. Expenses are how you (the competition) get my money out of my hands, and that includes everything from the food that I eat to the rental costs for an apartment, office space, a car, gasoline, food, and yes: even entertainment. I think the average college newbie who probably doesn't track his expenses spends 30-50% of their money on what you could call simple entertainment.

Bearing this in mind, I've shifted most of my entertainment to the sorts of things that are free, or that help build value. Going over to a friend's house is building value in the form of a relationship. On that same vein, playing a video game is like getting to know the developers. You can either pirate these (bad, how will these poor artists eat) or you can play the freely available demos (this is good, for all parties involved). It's almost like going to a friend's house and taking a tour of the grounds. I've been visiting EA Games lately to play the Command and Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars demo in skirmish mode (GDI vs NOD). I look at it as building value in that I am honing my skills, so I don't get owned completely when one day my friends decide to pirate this game, leaving me with no choice but to play!

Building relationships on shared entertainment is very fulfilling, but it does not usually generate positive revenue for those involved. There are only a few different ways to generate revenue, if you don't count lottery winnings and similar techniques. (Don't laugh, paying diligent attention to your stock portfolio is just like playing the lottery, and it can really pay! Ask your grandparents.) So buying a computer is like buying a stock, in that you don't really need a computer to live, and also in that it's easily transferable. If you work diligently at a computer, you can make it more useful (valuable) over time, through manipulation of data bits in various ways. That's really why they're so popular, and this is exactly how Ken Kutaragi (formerly of Sony) described his vision for the PS3.

Step beyond entertainment and lotteries, into the realm of tangible services. You can receive payment for a one-time simple labor service without any property of your own. Make a capital improvement to a rental property, document your labor and make an appraisal of the value. Negotiate your way through the billing with the owner, and hopefully cash your paycheck. The value of your services (it's called making money for a reason) is a product of your investment of sweat and time, as well as the cost of materials and expenses. Don't shortchange yourself on labor: if your rates seem high and difficult to justify, consider the time that it took you to learn your skill. This is a part of your investment.

Here's my story: I fix computers. When they're not working how they should, my skill is to quickly identify the source of the problem and to fix it. That is certainly one way to make an honest buck. But remember: work smarter, not harder... big earners will set up a reliable delivery system for a valuable service and charge a recurring fee for access. Time Warner Cable and Internet, health insurance providers, and even Microsoft all work like this. If you can make a good one-time investment like one of these companies, then you are justified in charging a recurring fee for your services. If you manage to paint yourself into a heavy maintenance niche, then the service you're providing had better be worth your repeated time investment.

Meet the Wednesday Eve Landscape and Taxi Company: lawns in suburban neighborhoods usually require weekly maintenance in the warm Spring and Summer months, or the community of property owners will risk devaluing their investments as the area begins to look less suburban and more rural. A landscaping company should provide simple weekly maintenance as well as value-add services like building a garden. The difference between planting annuals and perennials is the difference between a yearly recurring revenue stream and a one time capital improvement. Of course that's assuming they hire you again next year!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Recipe for a Wireless ISP

Using commodity hardware, it is possible to set up a wireless ISP and put yourself in competition with the big boys like Time Warner and Verizon. It will certainly take some wheeling and dealing as well as technical knowledge to start doling out public addresses to your customers, but for a simple neighborhood network this is really all you need!

read more | digg story

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Economics of Bandwidth and Disk: Part One

While there is something to be said for Net Neutrality and the battles that can be waged between the famous Google and the other Yahoos out there, it's really one of the biggest distractions on the market, diverting much needed attention from where it belongs: the movies.

I saw 300 again this weekend, and I had a second chance to pay close attention to some of the symbolism. The military commanders are represented as very proud, and their people follow them unquestioningly. An emissary from the Persian force comes seeking a token of earth and water, and it is said to represent the submission of the Greeks. Needless to say for anyone who has seen the film, his message is not well-received by the Spartan commander.

Fast-forward to this day: I have an apartment at Community Manor. There is no monthly water bill, and Kim from the main office says that I can put a garden anywhere I like—it only improves the property value. I pay $25-35 a month for electricity, which accounts for a computer and monitor, a refrigerator and an electric stove, complete with oven. I spend almost as much on food as I do on rent.

Entertainment means Road Runner, the Time Warner internet service, which starts at $30 monthly. I have heard rumors that the price increases at least once, a year after the start of service. Compare to Verizon FiOS, the Next Generation fiber-to-the-premises service that is now offered in some areas; here basic service is priced competitively against cable, at $40-50 monthly, and the high-end service (30Mbit down/5Mbit up) is priced at $180 monthly.

Why in the world would I pay $180 monthly for internet service? There's only one reason: it has a bigger number than my current service, and I know that I have below-average patience. If there is one thing in the world that I hate more than waiting for the commercials to get over with, it's waiting for my pirated movie download to finish. At least a commercial gives me something to watch; those progress bars are so incredibly dull!

Now consider: as long as I can keep a copy of the movie that I just downloaded in my local library, I will never have to watch that progress bar again. If the download was legal (the MPAA would say, if you paid for the disc) then according to copyright law this is your fair use right, to make a copy and keep it for personal use.

If I haven't lost you and you're still following, then it's really no wonder that we continue to wage a meta-cultural battle with DRM restrictions. As I check my investment portfolio day by day, Sony stock is consistently losing money, and Western Digital stock persists in making gains. In these days of unbounded pirate media, statistics prove that an entertainment company really can't beat a hard-drive manufacturer!

In a recent article on KPB Code, please find and read a short listing of networking equipment that has strong potential to impact the market share of companies like Cisco, whose equipment helps to form the underpinnings of the Internet. In the next installment of The Sixth Layer miniseries on bandwidth and disk, we will consider the possible effects of mixing this information with that hardware. I call it community-sponsored manipulation of competing industries, for fun and profit!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

No TV, Yes Remote Access

I finally got my hands on all of the connectors needed to hook up my SGI monitor to a modern VGA output, and it still doesn't work. I'm unbearably disappointed about this. I'll have to try again when I have more time to devote to television. But on a more positive note, I was able to connect to Grandma's computer remotely using OpenVPN and make my second support call since Friday by means of VNC. I will save so much on gasoline!

Also a stock update; Red Hat and WD stock both did very well today, but unfortunately both combined did not gain as much as Sony lost! I'm selling both to free up some capital and cut down on my debt margins, hopefully Sony stock goes up again tomorrow while I'm out mowing the lawn. Wal-mart and Adobe are both losers on the week but winners on the day, still only counting for a fraction of Sony's total losses.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Stocks Update

It has not been a good week for my portfolio! The 5 stocks I bought for Beat The Street have lost almost $1000 (-0.85%). Red Hat stock is leading the pack, with a gain of $550 (2.36%) -- not bad at all for 4 days! IBM stock has also increased in value by half a percent. Losses of Sony and Wal-Mart have more than compensated for these gains.

Of course in the game I have a finite amount of money to play with... the stocks I didn't buy, but chose to track anyway have all lost money, with losses from Yahoo, Cisco, and Staples being the least costly. Apple stock is not doing badly either, down only 1/3 of a percentage point. I think this might be more fun and rewarding than fantasy football. I'm still not watching CNBC or Finance news programs.

I think Adobe is on the upturn, so I'm going to go a little deeper into the margins while I play with AIR (formerly Apollo) and Flex trial versions. I've always been a fan of Adobe software, it tends to work reliably across the usual popular platforms, and they certainly know how to play the game. I'm quite confident that this company is not going South any time soon.

Still, The Motley Fool makes for pretty interesting reading. I advise you to take their stock picks over mine; there's a box on the front page that shows market beating performance across the board. My Techno-Business picks are not doing as well, 4 days in. Today looks like a good day to get my car inspected and read a book.

But here I am 20 minutes later still playing the stock market like a video game. Between the awful downward trending Sony stock chart, news about Ken Kutaragi and BD+ DRM news, I have a feeling that Sony can't go any lower. *Buys another 500 shares*

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Beat The Street: Day Two

No more trading today, on account of I'm not a day trader or planning to be. But that doesn't mean I can't track my progress! In short, today was a much better day than yesterday, but not better enough that it wipes out the damage done from yesterday and before. It was a bad day for Wal-Mart and Fedex-Kinkos, maybe something to do with the hyphenation.

Everything else is looking up, with IBM leading the pack. Anyway, people waiting on me to do things, I'll be right with you! The network is almost back to normal.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Beat The Street: Trading Day One

I'm not sure I really have an interest in the stock market, as these people are talking about $100k to get started plus $100k on margin. Plus, we haven't reached the closing bell of my first day as a trader yet, but in the hours since the opening bell and my trades, the 5 picks that I actually bought have lost more in total, than the 3 picks I considered and nixed have gained.

So who are these companies that are doing so well in the market, these companies that I would follow with my eyes and not with my wallet?

  • AAPL: Apple Inc. - Picked this one but held on to my money, as there's a lot of buzz around Apple TV and the iPhone right now. Sorry Steve, nothing personal; I just don't believe in your techno-unitarianism.
  • SPLS: Staples, Inc. - My experience with Staples shows strong support for the well-meaning underdog. Some students just don't know what to do when they don't fit the curriculum, and teachers can't help it if the curriculum doesn't make sense in the context of their prior learning. Does that mean it's wrong, or bad for business? NO!
  • MSFT: Microsoft is trading only slightly higher than Staples. I don't know if this means anything to anyone, but I see these companies as having more in common than differentiates them from each other. (Same goes for Kinkos FDX, Office Max OMX, and to a lesser extent Adobe ADBE).
Cheers to Staples, for embracing technologies like XML. Creative uses of this stuff will take the human element right out of b2b-type sales. My first exposure to this practice was at Financial Institutions in Warsaw. Anything that my vendors can do to help me with a) maintaining my own inventory, and b) saving time on the phone, I think those are both positive things.

Unfortunately I never found free implementations of these ideas; the only documentation available was related to protocol specs, and I wound up writing a lot of code myself, toward the end of my employment. As a consequence I was only involved in very early stages of the project, and years later, I don't know if it went anywhere. I'm almost afraid to call up Linda, who was hired to replace me, for the whole story!

Anyway, enough about Staples. More and more of my money (both real and imaginary) is spent on hard drives and storage media. I maintain that the disks are a good investment. I'm still on the fence about the stocks. But the extended warranty plan (CompUSA CPU, last trade $10.10 during the Buyout of Y2K)... well what was I thinking? The salesman told me it was a good deal, and a pretty girl agreed with him. Me, I still feel like I'm playing the lottery.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Beat The Street!

For anyone interested in the stock market, here is my informed decision. Got $100k? Wondering what to do with it? Son, get yourself some stocks!

My picks, and these trades should go through Monday morning:

  • Wal-Mart Stores: 500 Shares
  • Sony Corp: 500 Shares
  • Western Digital Corp: 1000 Shares
  • IBM Corp: 200 Shares
  • Red Hat, Inc: 1000 Shares
How did I decide? Most obvious was Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is enormous. I shop at Wal-Mart. I have worked (indirectly) for Wal-Mart, and I was impressed by the power of their organization. I've learned about the long tail and the related money and influence, and without the economic big stick that is Wal-Mart I suspect that most of us Americans couldn't afford to have a soul.

Then there's Sony Corporation. While I am impressed by their size and long-time command of such a large chunk of the entertainment market, mostly I enjoy the idea of the PS3 and their expressed vision for the future of gaming. Sounds like it will sell lots of game consoles to parents who want to instill their children with Japanese discipline. I'm not buying one, but I can't get Nintendo stock without trading on the Tokyo exchange.

Reasons for Red Hat should be obvious -- there's about a billion believing geeks out there (some of them hate Microsoft) and Red Hat is the only company that is really giving them exactly what they want; by ironing out the kinks in free software, and building an infrastructure for giving out lots of homework assignments. Luke, this one's for you!

IBM stock I have purchased for a similarly selfish reason; in my experience IBM support is second to none. The website is the most friendly to developers and system maintainers. As I come from the school of thought that you too can be replaced by a small shell script (and should be), this is a big indicator of which company really shares my interests.

Second runner up in this market segment is Dell, and to tell the truth I think this should be my first choice -- my server room is full of Dell equipment. Still I am struggling to bridge the gap between my affinity for Dell and my Irish identity. And it doesn't help that Dell Enterprise sales staff still don't return my messages.

I don't think I have to explain the Western Digital pick if you've been paying attention to my train of thought regarding data retention on KPB Code in the slightest. Optical storage is "not there yet," and tapes are the way of the past. Any organization with the slightest internal storage requirement is going to spend a considerable amount of money on disk. Anyone smart enough to outsource their storage needs to Google... well, WD drives are quiet and cheap -- I bet Google buys these too, but maybe Maxtor or Samsung.

So far I haven't found an organization that doesn't maintain any information memory. Microsoft fronts this appearance the best out of any company, but I'm not convinced that's a good reason to take stock in your company. Hook me up with a manager who blogs like I do and we'll talk more! Otherwise I'm taking up real estate.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Two Zen Koans

63 Killing

Gasan instructed his adherents one day: "Those who speak against killing and who desire to spare the lives of all conscious beings are right. It is good to protect even animals and insects. But what about those persons who kill time, what about those who are destroying wealth, and those who destroy political economy? We should not overlook them. Furthermore, what of the one who preaches without enlightenment? He is killing Buddhism."

93 Storyteller's Zen

Encho was a famous storyteller. His tales of love stirred the hearts of his listeners. When he narrated a story of war, it was as if the listeners themselves were on the field of battle.
One day Encho met Yamaoka Tesshu, a layman who had almost embraced masterhood in Zen. "I understand," said Yamaoka, "you are the best storyteller in our land and that you make people cry or laugh at will. Tell me my favorite story of the Peach Boy. When I was a little tot I used to sleep beside my mother, and she often related this legend. In the middle of the story I would fall asleep. Tell it to me just as my mother did."
Encho dared not attempt to do this. He requested time to study. Several months later he went to Yamaoka and said: "Please give me the opportunity to tell you the story."
"Some other day," answered Yamaoka.
Encho was keenly disappointed. He studied further and tried again. Yamaoka rejected him many times. When Encho would start to talk Yamaoka would stop him, saying: "You are not yet like my mother."
It took Encho five years to be able to tell Yamaoka the legend as his mother had told it to him.
In this way, Yamaoka imparted Zen to Encho.

Friday, June 8, 2007

International Diplomacy

Since moving from using AOL Instant Messenger to a combination of MSN and Skype, I have greatly broadened my horizons; I don't know what I've done exactly but I am receiving lots of contact from China, South America, and Italy. Needless to say I am delighted! For most of these people, English is not their primary language, and so it's very common to find myself in the middle of conversation in a completely unfamiliar language.

Anyway this is great fun, but it doesn't pay the bills yet. I would like to write a web application that integrates Google Translator and instant messaging platforms, so I can chat easily in other languages. Ideally this would display the text of each message side by side in each language, so that I can make some effort myself to translate and learn, while still communicating naturally in an unfamiliar language.

That sounds like an awesome product, and I think it would be easy to build. But first I need a Jabber server to integrate with my MSN account... I don't think there are easy API hooks in the standard Microsoft client. I'll have to set that up myself, I think there are probably Jabber libraries for Python, and the slickest client will probably be TurboGears with persistent server sessions. Maybe I can finally ditch this awful collection of instant messaging clients that I keep accumulating!

But FIRST I have to get basic services up and running for my English language clients. They exist, as much as I tend to ignore them sometimes. Sorry, don't take it personally, I don't mean to ignore you really! I'm trying to make us more extroverted as a nation, in fact this is my way of fighting terrorism... you have to win the hearts and minds of the people! This way I save on gasoline, no expensive airplanes or automobiles are involved in communcation on the Internet :-)

Monday, June 4, 2007

News You Can Use

I'm in the job market! That is to say, I mean to start an accounting process of jobs, and I hope to process some of the jobs accounted for into a revenue stream! But it would be better for me if I could just make a commodity of a human and trade these with other businesses!

That's right folks, I'm not just talking about Globalization, I'm also describing the breakdown of atomic families in today's consumer society! There are many worthy causes that are most deserving of our attention as a nation, and I am proud to see from our Fearless Leader George W. Bush that we have doubled our budget commitment to fighting AIDS in Africa.

What does this mean? More international jobs for ambitious students that want to save the world! (Hopefully some saving the world does happens. ان شىء الله!) I think I'm past the cynical stage, where I should believe that all 30 billion of those dollars will find their way into the pockets of executives in obscenely large pharmaceutical companies; of course I'm certainly not above questioning ethics and motives in any industry.

Still, some of this money will undoubtedly be used to fund technological development and expansion of commodity server resources. Anyone who is savvy enough to wield the full flexibility of an optimally configured best-practices rack full o' servers these days is in a good position to direct these expenditures, which makes a commodity in and of ones self!

The combined research efforts of Tuesday Studios are a product of Kingdon Barrett and Juozas Gaigalas, in cooperation with the Rochester Institute of Technology's Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences and Venture Creations Student Business Development Lab. Waiting for the punchline? It's about scalable infrastructure... sounds like a smart buy to us!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Intolerable Dilemma

So I've got myself an intolerable dilemma, now that I am a principled man with a code of ethics and a reasoning process for my decisions. I've gone ahead and ordered a pair of shoes over Skype, which seems slightly unreasonable at first. For a pair of shoes it may be unreasonable. I'm a guy who likes to try on his shoes before he buys them. It's got to be a rough market, selling shoes on the Internet. But really, I'm not sure I understand why it must be so?

This way I save on gasoline, the shoes will be delivered via Post and I will have them in no time flat. I was able to pick from a short list and ask for the size I wanted, granted I have a wide foot and it will be tough luck if the shoe does not fit properly. But for any other item besides shoes, I think internet commerce is probably the way of the future!

Anyway I made a new friend this way, even though the banks are closed I can say proudly, "my shoe store was still doing business on Memorial Day." You know I'm not particularly proud of that fact. In fact it's almost downright offensive, except I can't really expect a reasonable 中国生意人 to study our most bizarre holiday calendar.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Weeds?

"this is for you snowflake. It's my special blend. I call this here Clarke Kent. You smoke this shit and you just wanna rip your clothes off in a phone booth and fight crime"

Do you think he's talking about that chronic shit?

I want a printed copy of my facebook profile. It should fit on one page. If I need legal paper, I can handle that. I want to hand these out like a c.v. or a business card. It should look nice on paper just how it is right now. Extra-weight is probably unnecessary, but might be nice.

First bidder who delivers a quote to me by hand wins the contract! (Probably. The quote should look good too. That's why it's called a proof.)

Friday, May 25, 2007

TV Links for Arabic Learners

Hey everybody, lets have a podcast that includes clips and reviews of Arabic TV programs, written with clear and eloquent forms like those you would hear from a University professor (اللغة العربية الفصحى)targeted for the intermediate to advanced Arabic Language Learner.

Something I already have: lots of English TV programs. And they're available to me for zero cost, of questionably legal origins. Any Arabic bloggers out there want to clue me in where you keep your pirate libraries? I have no intent to steal anything from anyone.

I know it's not kosher (or halal either... مشبوحة على الأقل) to accept stolen property in the real world, but does the same rule apply to audio and video content that may have been hijacked by pirates on the internet? It's not feasible to comply with a law like that, I would need some kind of intelligent filters for my eyes and ears, and a new pair of running shoes.

Someone I know: actually a number of people with video editing skills. I'm not an artistic person outside of linguistic domain, but lots of people in Rochester are producing film and animation for classes, and certainly one of you would collaborate with a producer such as myself, with aspirations to see a successful director emerge.

Just thinking out loud.

Kingdon in Politics

I hope everyone understands why I will not enter politics. And this is nothing against George W. Bush, it's actually funny when you do this type of thing. I just don't think I could live with myself if I ever had to pay an editor to make this correction.

We're not using humans, or parts of humans directly as fuel. today, are we?

Do you see what kind of a disaster could result from weak or poor intelligence?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Two Zen Koans

Steal The Moon

Renegade Zen

29 - No Water No Moon

When the nun Chiyono studied Zen under Bukko of Engaku she was unable to attain the fruits of meditation for a long time.

At last one moonlit night she was carrying water in an old pail bound with bamboo. The bamboo broke and the bottom fell out of the pail, and at that moment Chiyono was set free!

In commemoration, she wrote a poem:

In this way and that I tried to save the old pail
Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break
Until at last the bottom fell out.
No more water in the pail!
No more moon in the water!

What is a Kingdon?

Urban Dictionary defies Kingdon something like this:

He'll go all the way to Egypt in search of the most ridiculous law that is written, only to break it, because he heard somewhere that they write backwards in those parts of Africa and he's pretty sure that means something special.

My grandfather صلى الله عليه وسلم was another Kingdon. He was the only other Kingdon that I ever knew, and I know him well, though I'm not sure if we actually ever met more than once. Anyway, it's because of him that I may need to consult with an International lawyer before we can see the pyramids together.

It's a very long story, and I'm not sure if I heard it completely accurately myself. However; I believe that we can reconstruct it with a little help from my friends and family! Also, Canada is still cool in my book. Rush Phi Delt!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Your Ass Better Call Somebody

I once found myself in an interview for a job with someone close to me. He asked a question and I found myself with absolutely no good answers, which is not a position I find myself in very often. Or even once that I can remember, for such a simple question. It's got an even simpler answer, but you know it sure took a lot of calculating to find it.

The question, paraphrased as I did not have a recording device:
"You're going to throw a party, and there's one person in particular that you want to be sure they are present. How do you ensure that they attend?"

Now if I was a statistician or a marketing executive, or perhaps a business analyst by trade, I wouldn't have to spend months of time analyzing my life, and I would have answered with something smart and snappy like this:

"Well, you advertise the party in all of the social circles that this person frequents, and you should also be sure to indicate quite clearly that this party is unique, and make efforts to raise it above the other parties this person might choose to attend. They have to know that their presence is essential because otherwise they might even choose to stay in for the night! And then where will you both be, somewhere other than The Most Happenin Party, and in particular you will definitely not be Hangin Out Together."

And I believe that during the interview my response was along these lines, although not quite so eloquently phrased. To be sure I think I actually said, "uhh, I don't know... should we get two kegs?"

However if I was any other career path with the possible exception of Zen Buddhist Monk, the correct answer is quite simple:

"Send an invitation!"

Anybody out there who thinks they are smart, got any further questions?

"Send it in triplicate! Write RSVP on the envelope, in fact my recommendation is to spell it out Respondez Si Vous Plez. That way if someone in the room speaks French, they will know what it says, and of course they will oblige with a phone call or some other means of contact. And if nobody in the room speaks French, well then they will certainly all wonder what does RSVP stand for? Then of course your friend will probably call to find out, and you will surely have got em by then!"

Decidedly not a random thought. For your amusement!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Updates

Maybe a better question than what am I doing...

what's left undone?

Going to spend the next week filing paperwork and figuring out what it is that I meant to build over the last year and a half, that hasn't been built or obsoleted already. The most obvious, authentication and access control, has been neatly sidetracked thanks to creative use of VMWare Server. Unfortunately that means we're not really unified at all, just well-fragmented.

Central file storage is also a mess. We've got a mess of samba servers and hard drives lying around. I suppose first on the agenda would be some project to aggregate them and salvage any leftover data that might be of interest to future generations. If I can clear enough room to dump the central Wednesday share, then I can clear up the horrible mess I left with Gentoo.

Meant to build a second firewall for extra clarity, as I've also sidestepped the intelligent security systems yet again. I figure any service that is transmitted through two firewalls must really have been intended to be public. I think I'll put Sheng behind the second firewall, and hook up Akhira with Windows like it's never seen before.

For anyone who is not fluent in both Arabic and Chinese, the names are symbolic: sheng is mandarin for life, and akhira is "other" in arabic. Slightly more meaningful to me than www vs. dev, anyway. But one of these machines will have to be an Access Grid node so I can join in on the fun and help keep Gurcharan and his crew honest; I'd really like to see that kind of video conferencing technology take flight.

The plan at this point is for a Tuesday Studios diaspora within 5 years, with me and my cohorts spread across the globe. Destinations are to be no less exotic than Cairo, Kaunas, and Kingston. If we have to scale back from that, I will be incredibly disappointed; I would have taken Japanese and joined the fun in Tokyo if I knew I was destined to be trapped in this blasted state of New York for the rest of my life!

That's all for now, and it's zzz-time for me. I hope to catch myself in the next few days working in these places:

1) Fixing the server room at Tuesday Studios, trying to track down someone who can at least insinuate with authority that I will keep my office for longer than a week. After the servers are better, it'll be time to work on the books and start coding expenses.

2) Meeting up with Gurcharan and the CASCI crew at the regular Thursday 4:00PM meeting. I'm still on the mailing list, I might as well stop in and say hi. Maybe there's a job for me here?

3) At my house, or on the road, studying for my Arabic final. If I get especially diverted but still remain at my house, I might spend some time to figure out how to get native Windows sound support piped into my Airport Express. That thing is really cool. There must be a way to do it!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Death of an Irish Bear Salesman

Building 0 ruined drinking for me. It's going to be a while before we share another drink, I think.

>>>
So I stepped into MacGregor's last night to celebrate the founding of a new Labatt Blue plant and the creation of more jobs that I know we need in Buffalo. Mind you this is already not my favorite bar, with two strikes aggin it: no Miller High Life, no Crown Royal. Then I find out there's also no Labatt Blue on tap.

Last three times at least that I've been to this place, the conversation has centered around economies of scale, tell me we should all share a pitcher because 3.5 full mugs of beer are cheaper than 3 if you go that way. But I'm celebrating, so I say fine, no big deal, I order a bottle and continue with my night.

Next thing I know my brother in Islam, Osama (yes just like the bad guy), he walks into the bar and orders a ginger ale. My table of friends is momentarily confounded, and the topic of conversation shifts to the disgusting taste of alcohol and just how much we can't stand it, even in someone else's mouth. He pounds no less than 3 glasses of ginger ale to his face before closing time. I wonder why he didn't get a pitcher?
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Monday, April 30, 2007

Updates

What am I doing?

Think Daniel Jackson. It's like programming for your day job, but way more intense. It's programming with Arabic! It's not just collecting a paycheck and paying the bills, they're more than creditors to me. We're family!

What am I doing?

Think Swedish Rock-Star, but not Axl Rose. Wait, strike that, think Norwegian Dance-Music Icon instead. Think Polish Ambassador, Earth versus the World.

One foot follows the other!