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July 24th, 2002

I've come to the opinion that writers are exhibitionists. I'm not talking about those who write the occasional article or dabble now and again with thier idea for the great American novel. No, what I'm talking about are those people who write because they must.

These people are easy to spot because they typically take great pride in their addiction, and will explain at length how writing is their soul and if they couldn't do it they would die, or something of that sort.

I suspect that a lot of exibitionists feel the same way. They have this inward calling to show what they have and, should they be unable, they will experience genuine depression and distress. It's a bit wacky, I've got to say.

What I have to question is that before there was writing, surely there were people born with the calling. What did they do? Sit around the fire and share stories? I'm not so sure its the same thing. Telling a story directly to people is a more visual and audible activity. Arms are waving, sound effects are spewing, and there is audience feedback so that the story may be fine-tuned as it progresses.

Writing, on the other hand, is premeditated activity. The audience doesn't exist until the work is done. It's an alternate form of exhibitionism in this sense, I suppose; It would be like handing someone a package and walking away. When the packaged is opened, there you are, in a photograph, standing naked, with a rose (de-thorned, of course) between your lips, one hand placed on your hip, with elbow sticking out, and the other hand in the air above your head in an almost-wave. Let's ignore the tea-cup apperance.

And of course, once exposed in such a way, there's no covering up; the damage has been done.

July 23rd, 2002

The Ebay spy. I guess that's what I am from time to time. To ensure that I'm dealing with an upstanding seller, I will look at their feedback before I place a bid. While this isn't always a recipe for clear-cut success, it usually works.

The trouble is that I tend to get lost in the feedback. I first scan the list looking for complaints. I normally read each and every one. I will then go back to the beginning of the feedback list and see what the seller has recently bought himself or herself. A lot can be learned about the seller this way.

Finally, of of curiousity, I will look at some of the other purchases that buyers from the seller's previous auctions have bought. My reasoning for this is simple. The big sellers on Ebay typically sell the same sort of thing over and over, be it watches, cameras, slide rules, or whatever. People who won previous auctions, therefore, must have at least some tastes in common with me. Perhaps they have bought the coolest thing in the world and I haven't heard of it. By checking their feedback history, I am able to look at the various items they bid on and see if the are the sort of thing that I'd also like. Has never happened yet though.

I do the same for people who have bid on an auction that I'm currently bidding on. I look at the bid history for the auction and then the feedback for the bidders. Not always, mind you--depends on my mood and the uniqueness of the item. And again, I haven't found anything that make me take notice.

I do find it a bit unsettling that the ability to view other people's auctioning habits exists at all, since it would be an exceptional way to profile someone. Someone looking at my feedback and corresponding auctions would find that I like older things: children's books, Groucho Marx, nesting bowls, for example.

If auction descriptions hung around longer than the 2 or three months that they do, an observer would also be able to tell that I like older computers and Russian things.

From a privacy point of view, it almost makes sense to request that a seller leave no feedback.


The air is humid today. It's the sort of air you find when you go camping and wake up at 5am.

July 22nd, 2002

Got my watch. It's quite nice. In fact, it has already received a compliment.

I might have chili tonight. I like chili.

Or I might have pizza. I also like pizza.

Now that I have this new watch, I need to find myself a wallet card that has a calendar on it. Harder to find than one might think. I searched around the web a bit, but only found companies that make wallet cards for other companies to buy and hand out as freebies. I toyed around with the idea of getting the supplies necessary to many my own card, but for a nice looking plastic one, the amount of equipment, and therefore expense, was quickly getting out of hand. Of course, I could always just print one myself on some light cardstock. Not quite the same as plastic, but more than capable of doing the job.

July 19th, 2002

I ordered myself a WCT-5513 watch from Westcoastime. It has pretty much everything that I want in a watch, with the exception of a date window. There is a model that does indeed have a date window, but I don't care for the white border around it and the under-powered cyclops lens. If it were more like a Rolex Submariner, which has no border and a more powerful lens, or a Sea-Dweller, which has no border and does away with the lens entirely, I'd be much happier. But I'm still pleased.

Aside from the date, the watch does have the main features I'm looking for. It uses tritium to radioactively keep the luminescent hands and face markers glowing strong all night. For some reason, tritium is becoming very scarce in watches these days. Some of the Swiss Army branded watches still use it. And at least two manufacturers, Marathon and Luminox, place tritium-charged luminous gas inside very tiny vials. Unfortunately, neither of these companies offered what I wanted.

The watch also has sword hands, which are much more readable at night than those of the Rolex, or the skeleton hands of the older Omega Seamaster Professional. For some reason night-time legibility means a lot to me.

Finally, it is happy in the water to 200 meters. Though I never go this deep, it is good assurance that the watch won't spring a leak at lesser depths.

Now if it would just arrive. I hate waiting for stuff.

I'm probably going to do a full review on the watch once I receive it, and post it here, as well as on a couple of watch forums that I frequent.

July 17th, 2002

This is the sort of thing that makes me say "oh grow up."

July 16th, 2002

Another flash flood warning, they say.

Around three AM, I woke up to the sound of rain pounding on the roof and deck. To hear rain at all from the inside means it's very heavy. To hear it pounding means trouble.

Around 6:30 AM, my eyes flicked open and I shut off the alarm clock. The alarm is set for seven, as a backup system, but I normally wake up myself around 6:30. I think I do this because the sound the alarm clock makes is undesirable. Physically and mentally undersirable. Give me nails scratching across a black board and I'll be happier than having to listen to the sound the alarm clock makes. Sometimes, there will be an alarm clock noise on the television. Same reaction. It causes a wave of nausea to briefly pass through me. This isn't the sort of reaction I want when I first wake up, so I rely on my mental alarm clock.

My morning routine is very simplistic. Everything critical has been done the night before. I shower the night before. I shave the night before. I know exactly what I'm going to wear the night before. Seconds after I wake up, I'm in the bathroom. It's time for the morning pee.

I pee without thinking. I've done it so many times that there isn't much to think about really. Then I go to flush. Whoops. The water level in the bowl is nearly at the rim. The rain. The septic system. It all makes sense.

I dare not flush. Surely the water leaving that tank would instantly overflow the bowl. Onto the floor. With pee. That just isn't right.

So I close the lid, hoping when I come back home later the level will have gone down. If it doesn't, I may have to resort to using a small container to remove some of the water to make the toilet flushable. With pee. That doesn't seem right either.

This is why I'm not a plumber (well, this and my irrational fear of drains, but that's another story). I don't like mucking about in pee. Whether or not it's mine. Once it has left my body, that's it, game over. Nice to know you, but I have a book to read now.

Reminds me of a dare I once heard about.

For $10,000, would you drink a glass of diarrhea?

Most people say no, of course. $100,000? $1,000,000? That's a million bucks pal, just for drinking a glass of diarrhea. This seems to be the magic number for nearly everyone after some prodding and window-dressing of just how exciting that that million bucks can be, and their answer changes to a yes. Yes, they would in fact drink a glass of diarrhea.

Oh, but wait. It's someone else's diarrhea. Not yours. Someone else is the brewer of this fine beverage.

Their answer goes from a yes to a no. No way. Not for a million bucks would I drink someone else's diarrhea. That's just SICK!

People are so interesting.

Should there be more rain before I get home, I may be in trouble anyhow. The bowl may overflow without any help from me. Onto the floor. Finding its way into the Terro Liquid Ant Bait that I have on the floor. Soaking into the bath mat that I neglected to pick up the night before. Creeping closer to the bedroom carpeting. This also doesn't seem right. There are many scents that are acceptable and appropriate for a bedroom, but pee isn't one of them.

But I doubt it would come to that. This is just my imagination running wild.


Because I am handy, I built a pot rack. A pot rack, for those of you who don't know, is a rack, suspended from the ceiling by chains, from which you hang pots.

Why would you want to hang pots, instead of having them in a cabinet? For convenience, mostly, but it also attractive to look at, particularily if you hang stainless steel pans from it, which I have.

I built it from a twelve foot length of construction grade lumber. Countersunk the nails, filled the remaining holes with wood fill, sanded the whole thing really smooth, and stained it colonial pine. Applied some stainless steel hooks here and there, attached the chain, hung it from the ceiling (120 lbs max!) and boom, finished.

Of course, you can buy pot racks from the better kitchen stores. But they are typically all chrome and shiny, which can be ok, but I prefer the warmth of wood. There are a few wood ones to be bought, but they seem overpriced and hard to come by. And mine was cheaper too. A rack the same size as the one I built would cost about $150. My creation cost about $50. And that includes the price of an electric sander.

I'm so pleased with it that I'm thinking of building some other stuff. Perhaps a headboard. Or maybe a bookshelf.


It's raining again.

July 8th, 2002

The floods. Crazy and insane. I went to New Braunfels on Saturday. This is the area where the flood waters are the worst. The normally tame little river that cuts through it has taken over. Normally the river is maybe 100 feet or so wide, when I saw it, it was easily a quarter of a mile wide and flowing fast and hard. Pieces of people's lives floated by, being washed away to who knows where.

The river, when calm and at its normal level is used for tubing. Looking across the river, there was a tubing shop, half under water. All that was visible was a sign that proclaimed to offer riders that were either calm or wild. I suspect someone entering the river on a tube today would have a considerably wild ride.


I have a new favorite food. It is oeufs en cocotte, which Babelfish tells me translates into "eggs out of casserole," which makes sense because it is essentially baked eggs. But yes, it is excellent. It probably qualifies as breakfast food, but can probably be eaten any time without breaking the rules. Breakfast item notwithstanding, I have never seen it offered at Denny's or IHOP or any place of that sort. Probably have to go somewhere fancy for it. Perhaps somewhere french. The thing about Texas is that there aren't all that many french restaurants. Maybe a swanky hotel offers it. Maybe not. They'd probably charge too much anyhow.


Septic has just recently decided to not be backed up.

July 2nd, 2002

It's flooding, man. Several roads near where I live are impassable. Had the water risen only half an inch more, the inside of my house would have gotten wet.

June 25th, 2002

I'm thinking a color change is due for Geek Hideout.

June 24th, 2002

Are you ready for Freaky 4? Remember, I didn't do any of these, I just archive them because I find them amusing.

It seems to me that my menu to the left is starting to become way too long.


Websites that spawn a new browser that promptly sizes itself to fill my screen are evil. I usually immediately close such windows and go elsewhere. The site of the day that does this is Raymond Weil Geneve".

June 21st, 2002

It was more than ten years ago when I first encountered Poison for the Heart.


Slackware 8.1 has been downloading for 20 hours now. It says it has 20 hours to go.


Baby weight.

Baby length.

I ask you:


As long as the baby is healthy, are its weight and length even remotely significant?

Men don't care about weight and length.

This is the realm of women. Particularily mothers and grandmothers.

And they use the information as a bragging tool.


Oh. And how long labor was. Let's not forget that. Actually, let's. It's kind of off-topic.

But yes, weight and length. And bragging.

"Sue's baby was 23 1/2" long and weight 6 pounds and 11 ounces."

Man's reaction: <eyes glaze over>

Woman's reaction: <seventeen hour long conversation about every baby she has ever known, as well as speculation on how tall and heavy the kid will be when he's older.>

I want to know: why not talk about the baby's waistline?

And where did all this expertise on baby weight and length come from anyhow?


I'm thinking about lobster. I'm thinking about eating lobster. I'm trying not to think about the scream the lobster lets out as it boils to death. No, I'm not thinking about that, but I'm definitely thinking about tasty, succulent, lobster, served with melted butter. But not a bib; I'm not a messy eater.

Now, there is a place near me that serves lobster. It's probably near you too. The Red Lobster. They are reasonably enjoyable to the senses, if not the wallet. And cheddar bay biscuits. Yes. Yum.


The last time a dude approached my desk and told me something about my car, it turned out that it had a flat. Someone just approached my desk and told me something about my car. Well, not really about my car, but about what was about to happen around my car. A water main burst. City trucks were on the way. If I didn't want my car to get banged up, I'd have to move it. So I moved it.

If you want excitement, why are you reading this?


I dig Fridays. In particular, I like Friday evenings. It's not because I go out and do exciting things. No, it's because they seem so lazy and restful. After establishing a Monday to Friday pattern after years of school and work, my body has come to recognize Friday evening as being very relaxing.

I don't get the Monday morning blahs, though. I do, however, get the Sunday evening sighs. Sunday evening mark the end of the weekend. Depressing.


I ate a donut. My teeth are covered with grease.


I like going to action movies. Particularily ones where there are car chases. When I get out of the theater and get into my car, suddenly I'm just as slick as the hero from the action movie. I'm driving a little too fast, taking sharp turns, and accelerating quickly, perhaps with some rubber left behind for good measure. As I'm doing all of this, I'm under the delusion that everyone is watching me and they are thinking to themselves, man, that guy must be a spy or soemthing.

You know you do this too.

Now the sad thing is, people never think this about someone they see driving like that.

If they think about the person at all, it is most likely in a negative way. Such as, "look at that jerk, he nearly took out that pile of kittens!"

And of course, it's dangerous to drive like that. If you ask people if they are an above-average driver, pretty much everyone will say yes. This, of course, makes no sense. Perhaps I am a below average driver. I would like to think I'm not, but who knows, I might be. Of course, I've never been the cause of any accidents, so just maybe I am above average.

But what I'm not is a stunt driver. I don't know for certain that as I'm rounding a corner at a high speed, with tires squealing, if my car will flip over. I hope it doesn't because it's a convertible and I would likely be decapitated. But does this stop me from driving like a fool? Nah. Not until I get it out of my system that I'm in fact not a spy and furthermore no one gives me or my agressive driving the time of day.

So there you go. Don't kill bugs.


Birthday. Woo.

Birthdays annoy me, not because they are a constant reminder that I'm getting older, but rather because of all the politics that surround them.

It is assumed that one has to do something on their birthday and that it should be fun. I don't know why this is.

It is also assumed that one should eat cake on their birthday. I don't know why this is either--I'll eat cake whenever I please; I don't need a digit-flip of age for this.

It is further assumed that gifts are required. Why? I own what I want. Everything else just piles up and goes untouched. This is worsened when people ask what you want for your birthday. I mean, what's the point? If I know exactly what I'm getting and when I'm getting it, why bother? Perhaps this works for children because they are unable to buy the things they want.

They say that the older you get, the grumpier you get. It's true.

For my birthday all I want is to be left in peace. No well wishes, no pats on the back, no parties, balloons, cakes, cookies, decorations, singing idiots, birthday wishes, well wishes, paper plates, small candles, birthday cards, witty jokes or anything of that sort. Just peace and quiet.

That is my birthday request. That is what I want.

Why is it that people have a hard time believing this?

I'm not special and neither are you. Leave me the hell alone.


Remember, only you can prevent wildflowers.

June 19th, 2002

About above across after along
around at before behind below
beside by down during except for from in
inside into near of off on. Out outside over past
through to under until up
with without we always scream and shout
as we sing our prepositions out!

(sung to the tune of If You're Happy and You Know it)

June 14th, 2002

Oh the woe. I misspelled Klik yestrday.

I'm going to east Texas this weekend. Where there are trees. Yay for trees.

June 13th, 2002

Klik, Kam, Prem, Spam, Spork, and sometimes Y.


Random Thursday goofiness:

Look, over there
It's a man
Is eating Cheerios
In a sweater

Look, over here
It's me
And I'm not
Eating Cheerios
In a sweater

Look, to your right
It's a mirror
And it it
You are eating Cheerios
In a sweater

And now look
At the TV
And you will see
No one
Eating Cheerios
In a sweater

June 12th, 2002

I took the What Kind of Villain are You? test. Turns out I'm a double agent:

June 11th, 2002

Dagnabbit. I just looked at the time and noticed that there's condenstation inside of my Poljot wristwatch. This isn't a good way to start the day.

And now I just noticed that my skunk picture doesn't look how it should. All I see is a black blob. I'll fix it later.

There. I fiddled around with the skunk's brightness and contrast and he (or she) is now visible. It's odd though; I'm not certain why the image was so dark to begin with. I processed the image using Apple's iPhoto software, which has generally served me well in the past.

June 7th, 2002

This is the skunk that has been living in my yard. I was 15 feet away from it when I took this picture. Encarta tells me that skunks can spray as far as 10 feet, so I was safe by a margin of 5 feet, which is fine. They give warning before they spray anyhow, so I didn't feel if I was in danger at any time. Neverthless, I was ready to bolt at the first noise it made or if it gave me an odd look. I hope it doesn't get hit by a car or poisoned; it is really quite cool.


It seems freaky-strange to me that just 10 years ago 5 1/4" floppy disks were still in use. You know, the large ones that were actually floppy. I have a bunch of these squirreled away somewhere and once told myself that I'd transfer the contents over to 3 1/2" disks. Of course, that would be silly now, with CD-Rs and such. And I'm thinking that since I haven't even thought about the disks in such a long time that I could probably live a happy and productive life without them.

Chili and toast for lunch today. I like chili and toast.

As it turns out, I didn't have chili. I had falafel.

June 6th, 2002

I never thought it would happen, but I've managed to fill up the 80GB drive on my main Windows machine. The 40GB one on my OpenBSD box is nearly full too. Looks like I am going to have to either order one online or go to Fry's. Fry's will provide immediate gratification while also providing something that resembles a warranty (though from what I have heard, it is a brave sole indeed who attempts to exercise a computer related item warranty at Fry's). If I order on online, I will get a better price, but have to wait a while for it to arrive. And online warranties are often problematic.

I'm bad with warranties anyhow. If something breaks I'm most likely to go get a new one while making myself a promise that I'll return the old one. Rarely happens except in the case of super-expensive items.

I almost ordered on online already. But they won't deliver to an address that is not the billing address unless you fax them a whole bunch of paperwork to prove you are who your credit card says you are. Too much of a bother. Life is too short for such hassles.


Twirling, always twirling.


Bean dip is a lot like nacho cheese dip, except with less cheese and more beans. It is also true that brown beans are much like lima beans except they taste good. With all those different jelly bean flavors out there, I'm surprised there isn't lima bean flavor, for those who enjoy being repulsed when it's in a sweet and chewy colorful package. What's with all the bean stuff? What's with all the questions, I ask of you! If I was meant to answer questions, I'd be listed in the Yellow Pages under answers. Or perhaps under cheese. Or maybe both. Or maybe something to do with answers that involve cheese. They could be called chawnsers, which sounds a lot like the name of a dog. Well, a small dog. Large dogs have large dog names, like tito. Yes. There we go. Are you feeling the funky groovy of cheese-lovin'? Do you seek the cheesy answers? The answers of the cheese? There's only one answer when it comes to cheese, and that is whiz.

But cheesy answers and Yellow Pages and dogs and birds that make a sound similar to that of a person imitating a bird are not what this is about. What it's really about is something quite different. Somthing amazing and spectacular that the kiddies will speak of when they're well into early teens. Something that will cause horses to kick and buck as if they had a burr under their saddle, or worse yet, in their ear. Something that will cause babies to sober up and take notice of. Something that will add years to the life of the elderly, unless it takes them away. Something that not even Danny Devito is capable of making a rational comment on. Something that Linda Lavin(!) would be unable to sing about on Alice. Something that Peter Falk would give up eating at the local Jason's deli for. What is this wonderful thing, you ask? Nay, you implore and beg of me to tell you?

Does it involve the stock market? No I say! I say no! Nor does it involve the petroleum industry to a very large extent. And it most certainlly does not contain the words strawberry spring volcanoes! (which oddly enough would make a tasty treat if someone was of the mind to manufacture them. I picture these to be large (because no one wants small) ice cream type treats. Strawberry ice cream on the outside with a strawberry syrup on the inside. And coated with a cruchy layer of something that resembles pudding. Yes.)

The thing of which I speak and rant and twirl in my chair over and under and around and through, on this fine spring day is Mr Bean, the animated series. There you go boys and girls, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers and everyone else who is taller than a loaf of bread but shorter than a giraffe.

And why do I care about this?

Well, I don't really.

June 5th, 2002

I remember when Iomega was a cool company and a Zip drive was the thing to have. At the time, 100MB of storage was actually quite a lot. There were problems though, not counting the click of death. The media was expensive; a zip disk ran $20, and never significantly dropped in price. Recordable CDs also started about $20 and can now be had for as little as 25 cents when bought in quantity. This combined with its inability to further innovate pretty much doomed Iomega. Sure, they're still around, but let's think about this. They're still focused on their removable magentic media such as Zip, Jazz, and PocketZip. In addition to being expensive ($17.95 for a zip disk), they require special hardware to be read. This means that, in all likelihood, you cannot send grandma a zip disk full of family photos and expect her to be able to access it. If you were to burn a CD-ROM for her, however, it's a green light since a computer without a CD-ROM drive has not shipped for years.

Recordable DVDs promise to replace CDs as the de facto standard, moving Iomega even further into the horizon. If they were smart, they'd embrace DVDs with the same enthusiasm that they had back in the zip days. They could be a major player again. Doubt it will happen, but we will see.

The skunk made another appearance last night. I was going to take a picture of it, but it decided to trot away into a field.

June 4th, 2002

There was a skunk running around in my yard last night. Several hours later there was a sudden skunk smell. I guess something scared it.

June 3rd, 2002

It's June. It's the month where I will turn the big three-two. I don't feel like I'm getting older; if anything, I feel like I'm getting younger. Perhaps this is because I've become more interested in learning things that I look at everything with a new understanding and wisdom. It's like I see things that I once took for granted in an entirely different way.

I had an excellent grasp of the electronics and computer field when I was quite young. Though I'm not one to dwell on my own self-pride, I did enjoy being able to wow everyone with my knowledge. I recall one job interview where the interviewer was astonished with my knowledge considering that I was in my early 20s. But then my mid-20s came and I started to get depressed because I felt that I was no longer unique. Hardly anyone would comment anymore because by the time you're 25, you should know a thing or two. This depression has long since passed and I no longer strive to impress others, but instead to impress myself.

Impressing yourself is rather easy. Of all the things in the world, a person knows a lot about a very small number of them, and hardly anything about most of them. This leaves a giant gap and a huge potential for learning. And learning is half of what life is about.

May 31th, 2002

I don't like the word angst. It's used far too much by people who think they are getting the short end of life's stick. Some people just need to get over it and grow up.

May 30th, 2002

I was just looking at the source code for my servo motor driver. This thing is pretty spiffy. It's a Windows 95/98 device driver written in 100% assembly language, and is capable of concurrently controlling eight individual servo motors. It does this by outputting the correct waveforms on the outputs of the parallel port. Not to toot my own horn or anything (toot toot), but to do this in realtime on a Windows box is quite amazing.

I've been considering doing a port to NT/2000/XP, but I worry that the internal overhead of these OSs will be to much to permit smooth operation of the motors. Anyhow, in case you were ever wondering, that's what the servo menu choice to the left is all about.

In other news, I just reinstalled Seti@home on my OpenBSD box. It's been chugging away on a lone Windows box for the past six months or so. Before that I had it running on about six computers, which I have since turned off.

I'd rather be doing something more useful towards mankind like finding a cure for cancer instead of hunting aliens, but the United Devices (yeah, it's a dumb name) people have not seen fit to provide any form of Unix client. Pity, because the Unix crowd is generally into this sort of thing in a big way.

May 28th, 2002

As I said would happen:
Eight people were killed in five Central Texas crashes late Friday and Saturday, including four people in a car hit by a suspected drunken driver, marking a deadly start to the long holiday weekend.
You will note that I was not one of these unfortunate people.


Oh the woe, the long weekend is over. It zipped by much faster than it should have.

Did a couple of geocaches, but only found one. Would have found the other one, I'm sure, if it wasn't for the huge animal that appeared to be eating something. Might have been a dog. Might have been something else. Didn't hang around long enough to find out. Oddly, the cache I wasn't able to do was found the same day by someone else. Perhaps the animal went away.

Since geocaching occupied so little of my weekend, the rest of it was spent doing this and that. Some light yard work. Washing my car. Playing Dungeon Siege.

To be honest, it was Dungeon Siege that sucked up most of my time. As I have noted here before, one I get started with a game I like, I am addicted to it until it has been completed. After about 12 hours, I'd estimate that I've completed about a quarter of the game. It pains me that with the weekend gone, I won't get to play much. Like I said, addicted.

I'm thankful that really good games don't come out that frequently, otherwise I'd never get anything done. And there's tons of things that I need to do. I have about half a dozen or so personal projects at any give moment. My next time-waster is destined to be No One Lives Forever 2, but I'm not sure when it will be released, so for now I'm safe.

Dungeon Siege is a pretty simple game really. There's a trace of a storyline, but not so much that it bogs down gameplay. Of course, this is also the biggest complaint that people have about the game. The premise behind that game is that you start out as a lowly farmer, and as the game progresses, you become stronger and stronger, to legendary extents. To make it even more interesting, you can acquire additional people to join you on your quest, and they too grow stronger throughout the game.

What I really like the most about this sort of game is getting into an impossible battle and emerging alive. Dungeon Siege focuses considerably on battle strategy. Each character can be doing differnt things during a battle, be it standing at a distance and magically healing other characters, whacking away with a sword directly in a baddie's face, or firing off and endless stream of arrows.

But anyhow, that's enough about my obsession of the week.

May 24th, 2002

Long weekend. Need I say more? Probably.

The area will be bustling with people coming and going. There will be deaths on the road, this is a certainty. I will be on the road. Will I be one of certain deaths? Probability says no, but it's interesting to think about, notwithstanding.

People who use cell phones on the road tend to massage the statistics in their own direction. Of course, they have to hit something, and that something could be me. I think using a cell phone while driving should be banned on a nation-wide basis, much like it is in New York.

I'm going to do some geocaches this weekend, weather permitting. And maybe some swimming. It does look like it's supposed to rain, however, at least tomorrow. Should that happen, I'll probably play Dungeon Siege for most of the day. Games such as this suck me in big time.

Moments ago, an apartment complex blew up in Encino. We shall see what becomes of it.

May 22nd, 2002

Saw Attack of the Clones last night, and surprise, I actually liked it! I even liked it more than the critics did. When Yoda did his thing, the whole crowd started cheering. It was weird.

May 16th, 2002

May 3rd, 2002

After a very long time, I have just finished the documentation to IO.DLL.

The president of the company just came over and told me my tire was flat. And it is flat. And there's a rusty jagged nail stuck into the side of it. Perhaps fix-a-flat will work. Perhaps it won't.

My wheel is now in the shop. I'm driving around on the spare. I'm also dirty and sweaty.

May 1st, 2002

From CNN:

Speaking to CNN's Richard Quest in London from the space station over Ukraine, he said he was conducting several experiments including growing crystals and taking stem cells into space for the first time. He is doing exercises while wired up to censors.
Wired up to censors, huh? Those must be quite explicit exercises.

April 29th, 2002

Saw The Kids in the Hall live on Saturday. It was ok, but sitting right behind me was one of those screamer guys. You know, one of those guys who has to laugh at every single thing, and when something is real funny, lets loose with yells, screams, double-fingered whistles, and a noise that can only be described as a yodeler on acid. And this was right behind me. In my right ear. Yeah, fun.

This chap did let loose with a boo on one occasion. In a skit, one of the characters made a comment to another ponytail-clad character that ponytails have been out of style for quite some time. This caused the guy behind me to start booing. Now he didn't have a ponytail, but he had a nice set of pigtails that extended well past his shoulders. I guess he was offended.

April 23rd, 2002

So my nose was just pressed firmly against a new calculator and I was breathing in that new calculator scent. It's odd how many people don't appreciate the smell of a freshly unpackaged calculator, or even realize that they have one for that matter. But they do.

I decided to purchase an HP 32SII scientific calculator because it was recently discontinued by HP. Not counting their high-end graphing calculator, this marks the end of an era for HP--the death of RPN.

RPN, or reverse polish notation requires that the user enter the problem to be calculated in a fashion completely different than what most people are accustomed to. For example, with a normal calculator to solve 2 + 4, you'd enter it exactly as shown, following it with an equals sign. With an RPN calculator, however, you'd type the two, press the enter key, type the four and then press the plus key. At first glance, this may seem pointless, but when are dealing with more complex equations, the elegence of RPN becomes apparent.

On a normal calculator to solve (2 + 4) / (8 - 2), you'd enter it exactly as shown, including parentheses, otherwise you'd get the wrong answer. The nature of an RPN calculator prevents you from having to deal with them at all. For the above problem, you'd enter 2, ENTER, 4, +, 8, ENTER, 2, -, /, and you'd get your answer. That's three less keypresses! Ok, so that might not seem all that impressive but there are other advantages too.

RPN calculators provide intermediate results that not only give you a sanity check as you're entering the problem, but also provide a way to easily make corrections should you make a mistake.

So, anyhow, I have a new calculator.

April 18th, 2002

I once owned one of these. I gutted it for parts. I really wish I would have hung on to it.

April 16th, 2002

I've been mostly better for a couple of days now. Some of the effects still linger, however, but not to the extent that they keep me from doing things.

Last night I installed and played around with Lycoris, for a while. It's a newish Linux distribution, with the tagline "Linux for everyone," and this mostly holds true. The install was a breeze, and it ran fine, with just the occasional graphical hiccup, which I blame more on the hardware I installed it on than Lycoris itself. In general, however, I'm underwhelmed. But then again, I've been underwhelmed with Linux in general lately. Mostly because of the GPL and the freak behind it. Also because of the Mickey Mouse style of development at its core. Feature after feature is thrown at the kernel, with very little foreplanning. This causes said features to be eventually fixed, removed, or reimplemented in order to get it right. What I'd like to see is a feature freeze and the code picked apart line by line for correctness and security. Maybe then I'll start to feel whelmed.


I find it quite ironic that a few hours after bashing Linux that my OpenBSD box decided to kernel panic on me. This is the first time it has ever done this. Hopefully the last.

April 12th, 2002

It's 11:41pm. I'm still sick. I'm sipping on one of these lemony medicine-laden beverages, which holds the promise of a sound sleep that is free of snot.

Got to get my car A/C fixed tomorrow. Getting too warm to let it slide anymore. Also got to go to Sears and get some replacement filters for the air purifier. The allergies demand it.

April 10th, 2002

I'm sick. Very sick. Not fatally so, but sick nevertheless. A flu, or something of that sort. It's not fun.

I've been playing Silent Hill 2 for the PS2. Everyone claims it is super scary, but I just don't see it. There are some tense moments, but not excessively. I don't really play games all that much, but when I do, I keep playing until it is done. If I get stuck, I proclaim the game to be a piece of crap and never touch it again.

I'm not playing now, though, I'm just too sick. I'm resting and drinking juice.


I'm truly dismayed by the number of uneducated people out there. I'm not speaking of people whom didn't go to school, but rather those whom choose not to employ their education in a meaningful way. As is usual with rants of this sort, I'm talking about mastery of the english language, both written and spoken. And this shouldn't even be a education issue. We are bombarded bye people speaking correct english ever single day--it should just be something that is picked up naturally.

Now I will admit that I make the occasional mistake. For example, I will often say (and alas, write) "that" instead of "who" when used in combination with a noun that refers to a person or people.

April 8th, 2002

The power went out for a second time last night. I really need a UPS, man. Well, not a UPS man--not one of those people who insist on breaking my packages prior to delivering them, but but an Uninterruptable Power Supply. Having my main server brought down so rudely is not a good thing. Even though soft updates are enabled on it, there's always the possibility of something BAD happening. With 60 GB of stuff on there, I'd rather not have that BAD thing happen anytime soon. This also reminds me that I want to get another hard drive to do backups on. Yeah, a tape backup would be nice, but tapes have their downsides too, particularily when it comes to backing up so much data.

The primary reason tape is out is because the only tape drives supported by OpenBSD are SCSI-based ones, which, alas, cannot fit into lister (my server). It has only one PCI slot, which I'm using for an additional ethernet port. Actually, if I did have another PCI slot, fibre channel would be way more likely than a tape backup. There may even be fibre channel tape drives, but I'm not sure about this.

One thought for an additional hard drive is to do RAID of some sort.


The lightning and thunder persisted until 4am or so. I wasn't out there taking pictures, but rather trying to sleep. I say trying because between the really loud bangs and the really bright flashes, it was next to impossible. I'd start to drift off and then it would either suddenly be daylight in my room (even with my eyes closed) or the whole place would be shaking from the boom.

I did eventually drift into a sound slumber, only to be awakened, what seemed like minutes later, by my alarm clock. Alarm clocks, by the way, are the world's most evil of noises. I know this is true because even when the alarm sound happens completely out of the in-the-bedroom-and-asleep context, the noise is such that it goes to my core, irritating the very fiber of my being.

And combined with the loss of one hour (thanks to our good friend, Captain Daylight Saving), I'm totally worn out and the morning has barely started. This is the worst thing possible. Why? I'll tell you why. Sleep is currently THE BIG THING that is on my mind. I look at all the stuff I have to do and I think to myself that I could be sleeping instead. I comfort myself with the promise that once I get home I will have a nap, or that failing that, I will go to bed early. Both sound real nice right now, but there's a ridiculously small chance that either will happen. In a couple of hours, my feeling of tiredness will have passed (even though I will still be tired), and when I get hope I just won't want to either nap or go to bed early. Which is a fatal mistake because being tired carries over to the next day! (at least for me).

This will repeat for the next four days, until the weekend shows itself, and then, maybe, just maybe, I'll get some decent refreshing sleep. It's also quite possible that I won't. We shall see.

April 7th, 2002

So, there is a big lightning storm tonight. Like the fool I am, I slapped on my overcoat, put my camera in a ziplock bag, and went outside to snap some pics.

I took about 60 pictures and of these, only one sort of turned out. My digital camera is really far too slow to take decent pictures. By the time I click the button and the picture is actually taken, the lightning is long gone. The camera's inability to focus to infinity is to blame for the bluriness of the image.

As I was uploading this image there was a big crash and the power went out briefly, as if nature was protesting having its picture taken.


I'm just sitting in a vacant lot with a bird sitting on my head.


I despise the bi-yearly daylight-saving-related time change. Just let time be is what I say.


I was going to install NetBSD on the Sparcstation 10 this weekend, but I ran into a hitch. Last year about this time, I bought a nice 4GB SCSI hard drive, just for the purpose of giving the SS10 a bit of elbow room. And now I finally get around to doing this. I pop in the drive, fire up the Sparcstation and I get an error.

Turns out the hard drive has the semi-weird configuration of 514 bytes per sector. NetBSD can't do anything with this. Oh well. Neither can RedHat. Oh well again. I suspect Solaris could, but an SS10 is kind of an under achiver for Solaris 8.

April 4th, 2002

Someone came across Geek Hideout by searching for "man sausage". I'm not sure I want to know.

April 3rd, 2002

No more Samba issues. Life is good.

I've been tinkering around with Lisp lately. I like it surprisingly much, even if it isn't a marketable skill.

April 1st, 2002

Samba. Oh the pain. It works and everything, well, almost. I can't browse its shares from any of my Windows computers, and I can't browse any Windows shares from it. In other words, browsing just doesn't work.

Samba normally is painless. I just don't get it.

Note: ifconfig rl0 inet netmask broadcast

Blargh. It had to do with my netmask. It was, which was set up that way so I could create an interface alias in order to access my old Linux box, which had its gateway set for By changing the netmask to, all is well. And about time. I have a bad headache.

The reason Windows was using the netmask is because the DHCP server told it to do so. I love things like this. In my mind I was calling Samba a piece of crap that could lick my hairy butt (not that it's particularily hairy, mind you). But it was ME! It's always me! When in doubt, blame yourself!

AND, for [homes] to work, guest ok should = no, otherwise when a user logs into their home directory, really the guest user will be logged in, making the directory non-writeable.

March 31st, 2002

Sucesss with getting Windows to print. Had to use a different printer driver.

March 30th, 2002

This printer has been nothing but bad luck. It started out with paper jams. Not a show-stopper, but annoying. I bought a kit to fix it, however. In the meantime, I've been using rubbing alcohol as a quick fix (to clean the rubber rollers and make them sticky).

Then there was the problem of the printer deciding not to accept any more jobs after it dealt with its first one. A handy-dandy input filter took care of this.

Then the real problem became showed itself: very slow printing. I am talking about dog slow here. And a particularily lazy dog to boot. One page per minute. Not the eight that the printer promised, but one. The set up here is that the printer is connected directly to my OpenBSD server, and in turn, my iBook connects to the OpenBSD box using LPR/IP.

At first I thought it was something to do with OpenBSD. It sort of was, but not really. I found that there are issues with using the lpt devices because of inefficient interrupt servicing. Switching over to the polled lpa device improves performance. But not in my case. At least not noticably so.

It wasn't the printer either. I tried connecting it to a W2K box. No problem printing. Fast fast fast.

What the problem turned out to be OS X. It generates very inefficient postscript. Not much I could do about that. Just have to wait for it to be fixed.

So, I decided that I would dink around with Samba, so that my Windows machines could talk to the printer. I've always had issues with Samba. Well, not Samba as much as the SMB protocol. But that's beside the point. What the point is is that although I was technically able to get Samba up and running and the printer to print when commanded to do so, there was a problem. A bonus job would be generated prior to the main job. This extra job is small and eats a page of paper every time I use the printer from Windows.

I spent a great deal of time trying to figure this out, but to no avail. Everything is simple. It can't get much simpler, actually. I'm tempted to blame OpenBSD's Samba port. I will likely connect the printer to one of my Linux boxes and see if Samba behaves the same way.

This is all such a pain. The reason I got the printer was so that I'd have a single-printer solution. The reason it is PostScript is because PostScript is universal, meaning there should be no problems printing from anything. And yet there has been nothing but problems. Funny how life works out like that.

March 28th, 2002

This is all such a pain. The reason I got the printer was so that I'd have a single-printer solution. The reason it is PostScript is because PostScript is universal, meaning there should be no problems printing from anything. And yet there has been nothing but problems. Funny how life works out like that.

March 28th, 2002

Allergies, man. I have been waking up with a sinus headache all week long.

I have become increasingly annoyed with television lately. I have also become increasingly annoyed with people who have some sort of religious relationship with their television.

You would think these people have no lives other than what they see on the tube. They spend hours critiquing the various shows with their like, as if these shows were the most important thing on earth.

Like Greg the Bunny was the topic of today's conversation. This is a show that I absolutely refused to watch. They were going on and on about how dumb it was. Apparently there is some hope for humanity after all.


Additional note to self:

To get the HP 4M to work with OpenBSD, the printcap entry should look like this:

lp|local line printer:\
I don't think that I need the sh or ff= in there. I will experiment this weekend.

The if-simple file (the magic necessary to get the printer to print more than one job) is:

/bin/cat && print "\033%-12345X\n" && exit 0
exit 2
The \033%-12345X\n is responsible for resetting the printer after a job.

March 27th, 2002

Notes to self:

To build, I need to go to the /usr/share/sendmail/cf directory. Once there, I need to execute the following command:

m4 ../m4/cf.m4 > is derived from It has FEATURE(local_procmail, `/usr/local/bin/procmail') added to it in order to enable procmail.

The resulting file goes into /etc/mail, BUT, make sure to backup the current file.

(I always forget things like this)

March 25th, 2002

A wise man once said to look both ways before crossing the street. As a demonstration of his wisdom, he carefully looked to the left and then the right. Once he was certain that both directions were clear, he began to cross. Halfway out, a giant safe fell on him, killing him instantly.

A real wise man knows not to exclude even the improbable.


Drug Lord 3 is at a stand still. To me, the lack of registrations is the same as a lack of interest.

BTW, if you do register the game, you don't get a "registered" copy of the game. What you have now is all there is. It's not crippled in any way whatsoever. By registering, you provide support for the game, nothing more.


No source code for any of my shareware/freeware is available.


I'm going to be away for quite some time. Don't expect timely email replies.

March 21th, 2002

Not Dr. Who


I added thee more computers to my computer section.


Can't get enough of those Sugar Crisps. (If you're old enough, the appropriate music will accompany you when you say this).

So I got the digital cable. I was resistant for a long time and then a show I wanted to see came on a channel I didn't get, and couldn't get unless I upgraded to digital. Aside from the occasional irregularity, my television watching pretty much follows a pattern. Oddly, this pattern almost exclusively involves reruns. The reason for this is simple:

All new television programs are crap

Decades ago Newton Minnow (trivia: this is where the S.S. Minnow of Giligan's Island got its name from) had the gall to call television a vast wasteland. Perhaps it was, but at least most of the programs were original, creative, and entertaining.

Look at what we have today. It's not a vast wasteland. No, it's a vast crap pit. And just so you remember:

All new television programs are crap

Ok, so back to the digital cable thing. I now have this enormous box that can tune in well over 200 channels. Many of which, remember, are crap. This is more than one hundred channels of additional crap than I had before. And I'm paying for it. I'm paying for crap.

The cable company is so slick that they can make you pay for crap just because you want one additional channel

For an extra $12 a month.

I real life, you can't even give crap away:

"Hey man, here, take this."
"What is it?"
"Drink it man, it's free"
"Maybe so, but what is it?"
"it's a giant glass of frothing steaming crap. Drink up!"
"I think I'll pass dude."

See? No one wants crap.


It's a little later in the day and I have learned something. The channel I want isn't available with the fancy digital package I got. Nope. What I have to do is now pay an additional four dollars a month to get it. And of course, it isn't available unless you have digital cable. So now I'm at an extra sixteen dollars per month for one freaking channel that I want and a bazillion channels of crap.

And no, it's not the Playboy channel. It's the independent film channel.

March 20th, 2002

Whee. All is back to normal.

March 19th, 2002

Apparently a malevolent DreamHost user was (and still is at the time of this writing) responsible for the sorry state that Geek Hideout has been in for the past day or so. This wasn't an attack against Geek Hideout, but rather a misappropriation of DreamHost's bandwidth via a security hole in PHP. This caused DreamHost to scramble to patch the hole, upgrade PHP, and fix any damage that had been caused.

Right now, I'm left without server side includes, which Geek Hideout makes heavy use of. I sent them an email yesterday stating such. Let's see when they get back to me or repair the problem.

March 15th, 2002

I cannot stand Drew Barrymore.


This is a:


There are those people who think that life has dealt them a bad hand, when it's clearly not that bad at all. Generally the only thing that prevents their life from being how they want to be it is their own lack of desire to make it happen. These are the perpetual whiners.

Perpetual whiners are always going on and on about how if things were different they would be much happier. Yet they never take the steps necessary to make it happen. Instead they whine about it.

Perpetual whiners feel that other people get the breaks before they do. Yet they never attempt to take action on their own. Their own self-pity prevents them from progressing.

Perpetual whiners are never content with the life they have, even when their life isn't bad at all. There's nothing wrong for wishing for a better life, but there is definitely something wrong when it is constantly whined about.

Ok, all you perpetual whiners out there, I have to get this off of my chest. No one wants to hear it. No one cares about your self-pity. Even your dog doesn't want to be around you when you get started.

There are people in this world who have real problems, and you are whining about your job, your car, your husband, your wife, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, the pothole in your street, a neighbor, there being 19 balloons instead of 20 in the bag you just bought, gas prices going up, whatver. It doesn't really matter what you are whining about. It's annoying. It makes you less of a person. It makes you a less desirable person.

That is all.

March 14th, 2002

Oh man. Rosemary pork chops, risotto, and fried asparagus. It was great.

Italian food is my favorite.

March 13th, 2002

Another sunny day. Summer is approaching. I can tell. It's one of the two seasons here in Texas: summer and not summer. It reminds me that I really need to get the air conditioning in my car fixed.

Never did have the steak. Tonight my masterful cooking skills will be applied to porkchops. And perhaps some asparagus, depending on whether or not I want to brave the grocery store. Most of my groceries come from the Super Wal-Mart because it is the closest to where I live. They hold the honor of having the world's nastiest vegetables. Brown lettuce, tomatoes so soft that when you pick one up its skin ruptures, carrots that cannot support their own weight. That sort of thing. Sometimes I end up driving a good 30 miles (and then back) for decent vegetables.

Occasionally my reading habits shift from the world of adult literature to that of children's books. I just finished Henry Reed's Baby Sitting Service. My first encounter with Henry Reed was back in grade six. I didn't remember this until recently, however. I was able to remember the book, but not what it was called or who the author was. Then one day, out of the blue, the name Henry leapt from a dark corner of my mind. A quick search on Amazon revealed what I was looking for. Sort of. When I saw the name of the book, I didn't really believe it was correct. But it was. It's odd how the mind remembers some things and not only forgets others, but completely denies them. It was correct, however. I went to Half Price Books and slapped down my dollar fifty.

The book was written in the fifties, way before information technology became commonplace. Kids actually went outside back then. They had manners and treated their elders with respect. Thet knew how to work--and work hard--for a dollar, and how to save it.

I miss the innocence of the fifties and yet I was never even part of them.


Peeve of the moment: people who spell ridiculous with an e: rediculous.

March 12th, 2002

It's sunny and warm out. It's a nice change.

I'm also in a steak mood, which is rare (hah) for me.

Steak, medium rare, with fries and a salad. Oh yeah man, that would seriously hit the spot. Logan's Roadhouse, in San Marcos, makes a pretty mean steak. They have an assortment of meat behind a glass display case, allowing you to select what you want. They then cook it and serve it to you. Blood leaking out, mingling into the fries.

Makes me miss Orlando, where I had steak practically every night for two weeks. Yes, I know that a steak a day doesn't keep the doctor away, but when you have a generous food allowance, it's your duty to eat darn well.

I missed the space shuttle. At 3:30am, it rocketed overhead and was visible from horizon to horizon. I contemplated setting the alarm and watching the show, but then I forgot. Such is life. Perhaps next time.

I want some Tiki lights. I want to dangle them around the back patio and be doused in colorful plastic light.

Fun fact o' the moment: There is an honest to goodness tombstone in my back yard. I will take some photos of this soon.

Paint Shop Pro wants me to reboot in order to install it. This is one of the reasons I went over to the Mac world.

Visit my computers!

March 11th, 2002

The Piano Is Not A Gymnasium. I like the title.


So I'm sitting here, not doing much of anything and I look down at my fingers. It's that time already. Time to trim my nails. Actually, I was made conscious of this fact yesterday when, while handing money to the girl at Lowes, I felt one of my fingernails scrape against her hand. I once cut someone's hand doing the exact same thing. I really need to be more prompt on my self-manicuring practices.

The problem is that trimming my nails just plain feels weird. I mean, I do it and everything--I'm not that much of a freak, after all. There's perhaps only a 16th of an inch overhang, but it's enough to do damage for someone like me who isn't accustomed to having claws. Trimming the left hand is ok, but doing the right one feels awkward. I have pretty much given up on proper nail clippers because they are hard to hold and the design is stupid. Instead, I use my handy-dandy Leatherman Micra. It folds out into a pair of scissors, which are perfect for the task.

Several years back, I had a boss that would trim his fingernails with wire cutters. A little odd, but not overly. What was odd, however, is that he would do so while standing and talking to you. For example, say I was sitting in my office doing my thing. Now let's further say that he came to my door, and upon seeing the wire cutters, would pick them up and start to trim his nails. Yeah. Yuck. Nail clippings would go flying everywhere.

He was old, so he can be forgiven somewhat.

Nail clippings seem somewhat personal to me. Not the sort thing you should leave about for others to see.

In my wilder and younger days, my nail grooming habits left a lot to be desired. It was the bite and spit method. One by one, the overhang of each nail would be removed and then cleverly spit out onto the ground. Or floor. Or deep pile carpeting. A gross practice, for sure, but that's not what put me off of it. No, what changed my mind was the myriad of interesting things that were under my nails, some of which tasted very nasty. Yes, ew. Yes, I know; I was a disgusting lad. I don't do it anymore. Realy. Besides, if you think that was bad, I used to do the same to my toenails. I'm nowhere near that flexible anymore.

It is, however, important to keep toenails trim. Toenails that are out of control are excellent for cutting yourself or others when you sleep. Particularily in my case because I flip-flop all night long.


I think I have discovered one of the keys of great humor. You say something absurd and then apply it to a famous person. Consider this:

Cheese is great for curing baldness. Just ask Linda Lavin!
Immensely funny, don't you think? Well, the humor is contained within the absurdity, not so much the statement. The hilarity can be further escalated by transforming this into a run. What I mean is that after making the initial statement, several (many) more absurd statements can be made using the exact same famous person. For example:

I can't decide which pair of gloves to buy. In situations like these, I like to ask myself what Linda Lavin would do?
For the truly adventurous, this can be played out for years or a lifetime. After all, it would be a great life punchline to be on your deathbed, the end very near, and the last thing you say is something like:

I'm going now! I can feel it! I hear Linda Lavin singing and beckoning me! I'll tell her you say hello!
Ok, there are a couple of things to be aware of here. First, the famous person must already be dead. And second, you must actually really be dying when you say these things. You may think you can get away with just laying real still, keeping your eyes closed (perhaps with the occasional one-eye peek) until everyone leaves, but trust me, you can't. They tend to make sure you are really dead first.

March 8th, 2002

It's a rainy and gloomy day here in south Texas. I wanted to go and see the remake of The Time Machine, but it's getting crappy reviews, so I will forgo doing so. Instead I will eat some stew and biscuits. Not for the entire evening, of course, but rather for a small portion of it. I'm not sure what I will do with the remainder of the evening.

March 7th, 2002

VoiceStream screwed up yet again. My cell phone bill should be something like $20 per month. I was checking my bank statement today and lo-and-behold, they took it upon themselves to lighten my account by $119. I'm currently on hold trying to get this resolved. Apparently I've been double charged for a phone upgrade that I did a few months ago. Even so, that still doesn't account for the the abnormally high charge. Sigh. I hate having to deal with these guys. I hate it even more that I put my trust in them to do their accounting right and take only what they're supposed to take from my bank account, and then something like this happens.

March 6th, 2002

I'm looking for a good dictionary that will work with OS X. My rule of thumb for a good dictionary is that it must have the definition of infundibular.


Oh yeah!

March 4th, 2002

My Citizen Kane special edition DVD arrived today. Tomorrow I shall ingest it for the umpteenth time.

An owl is hooting outside.

February 28th, 2002

I think that childhood ceases once you learn to drive. Your neighborhood no longer plays an integral part in your life. It being your homebase and your kingdom. It becomes simply the place that you live and try on a daily basis to get away from.

February 26th, 2002

When I wrote my first book, the guideline provided by the good folks at M&T Books said that double-spacing after a sentence is a no-no. This was contrary to every typing class that I ever had taken, and my fingers just didn't want to obey their new rules.

I wrote the book with double spaces and searched and replaced them away as needed.

At the same time, I was getting into HTML. The curious thing about HTML is that even though you can double-space, the parser ignores such wackiness and shows only a single space. It was around this time that my fingers started to learn what they needed to know.

Now everything I type is single spaced. Accordingly, anytime that I see something double-spaced (outside of a typewritten document), it bugs me to no end.

February 25th, 2002

Fourth, eleventh, ninth, and sixth,
Thirty days to each affix,
Every other thirty-one
Except the second month alone.

February 22nd, 2002

I like old buildings. Consider the one to the right.

This interesting building (whose picture I snived from here) is fascinating. I have seen it perhaps a dozen times and yet I have no idea what its purpose is. I do know that it required water for some purpose because there are two massive inlets at the base of the building that allow water from the Comal river to enter. Now it's possible that it has something to do with the production of electricity because across the road is a building that appears to contain generators. But somehow I doubt it. There's no need for it to have so many stories just to generate electricity. So It's a mystery.

I have contacted the chamber of commerce for the city of New Braunfels with the hope that they can fill in some of the details. I also asked who the owner is because I'd really love to be able to get inside of this building, take some pictures and perhaps video, and build a web site for it.


Ok, so I did some exploration. I went to the factory in question and took some pictures. Unexciting external shots, but I'll post them later. I also discovered something. On top of the building are the letters LCRA. These stand for Lower Colorado River Authority. It was never a Hydroelectric generation station, but rather it used water from the Comal river to make steam by burning coal. This accounts for the massive smokestacks on top of the building.

And I also found this. Reading that suggested to me that they were planning on removing the building, but then I read this.

The second article refers to talks about turning it into a luxury hotel. It also states that there is on-going work towards removing lead-based paint and asbestos insulation. This doesn't sound like the sort of place they'd let me enter due to liability issues. And, to make matters worse, it appears to be nothing but a gutted frame now.

February 21st, 2002

My electric bill is $200 per month. It's due to the computers, of course. It's like having 24 one hundered watt light bulbs on all the time. So, I'm making the transistion from many computers to just two. My primary server and my main computer for day to day use. Amazing but true.

Neither one of these computers run Windows. My primary server runs OpenBSD, and my other computer, an iBook, runs the outrageously good Mac OS X.

Now hang on, you say, Drug Lord is a Windows program. Yeah. The rare time that I work on it means that I have to actually turn on a computer. I've been considering doing a Mac version.

The interesting thing about shutting down all these computers means that I can free up an entire room in my home for something else.

---- is quite the scam. It's difficult to put a price on memories, but they have managed it. For $36, you get the priviledge of talking to those whom you've forgotten, nearly forgotten, or have been desperately wanting to talk to.

The people I discovered fall somewhere between forgotten and nearly forgotten. I slapped down my $36 and sent a few short cryptic notes to people who have been out of my life for more than half of it. I'm sure I will be remembered, I was rather noticeable in my youth. Long hair, kind of weird, questionable friends. That sort of thing.

But anyhow, we'll see if anyone bites. And if they don't, well, to put it eloquently, they suck. And so does their little dog. I have a nagging doubt that one of the people I contacted isn't really someone whom I know.

The one chap that I'd love to talk to ended up in Germany prior to highschool. Back in the early days of the world wide web, I'd do an occasional search for him. A few hits would turn up, but none of them were him. Now, nearly ten years later, there is no shortage of occurrences of his name, which makes it difficult to sift through.


Oh dear, it has happened. I have lingered too long on looking up old names and old schools. I am now becoming nostalgiac. Perhaps a frothy coca-cola will help.

February 18th, 2002

As of right now, a European euro is worth $1.14 US.

I went to a jewelry store in Houston this weekend to check out the watches. I saw something that I didn't want to see, but I knew it existed. A quartz Omega Seamaster Professional. Tacky on paper; unbelievably tacky in real life.

Watch-wise, my heart is warming for Blancpain (which translates to white bread). But a warm heart is all I shall ever have because there is no way that I'd shell out $6,000 for a watch.

February 14th, 2002

People spend the early part of their lives trapped in the illusion of their own self-importance. The first mid-life crisis occurs when they come to realize that after many attempts to share this with others that no one really cares. Depression sets in and a good many of these people, unable to shake the feeling of their own self worth, discover therapists. They slap down their seventy bucks per session, not for the purpose of getting healed, but because it provides a captive audience that is forced to listen.

Most people, regardless of whether they have sought professional help, retain a sense of self importance. Those who have mastered the art of charisma are able to use this to their advantage. They are quick to find out why a person believes himself to be important, and uses this knowledge to manipulate the individual masterfully.

This is not to imply that such manipulations are malevolent in nature; indeed they can be honest, sincere and instinctual. But when applied surgically and with a purpose, they are powerful tools.

Every word a person utters has a motive; every silent pause, a reason. The charismatic individual is able to decipher these on the fly and provide a response that is flattering and encouraging.

Failure of the charismatic individual occurs when he encounters someone equally charismatic. Since they are both on autopilot, and each prefers to talk about the other person, the resulting conversation is shallow at best, full of complimentary obviousness that is woefully transparent to an observer. Such conversations are also generally brief because it is mentally demanding to have to constantly one-up a complement that was just received.

There are people who have the ability turn the charisma on and off as needed. They are not charismatic by nature, but by design. For the sake of keeping pronouns in order, I'll refer to these people as the manually charismatic. They work equally well against those who have a sense of self-importance, and those who are naturally charismatic. In the latter case, they flip the switch into reverse, allowing themselves to be submissive.

Manually charismatic people generally do not function well on a one-on-one basis. Conversations turn intense and threatening as each tries to out think the other, in a game that can't possibly be won. But, to some, it is exactly that--a game, and it is extremely enjoyable.

February 8th, 2002

Huzzah, I have found my illustrator!


To listen is to observe closely without staring. To speak is to stand in scrutiny.

January 21st, 2002

Yes, it's been months, hasn't it?

Drug Lord 3 is back on schedule. It has been in hiatus because I have been far too busy doing other things. World travel, deep sea exploration, mountaineering, antarctic expeditions, that sort of thing. But now I'm on it again and the game will be out soon (I keep saying this; interpret how you wish).

The game will be much darker than the previous versions. All (most) of the corniness will be gone. From everything I read, this is what people want, so they are getting it. And hell no, there won't be any pea shooters or banana-throwing monkeys in it!

There will be more ranks and more days of gameplay. You will be able to hire four different types of people: bodyguards, henchmen, agents, and snoops. You won't be able to board an airplane while armed to the teeth. You will be able to intercept drug shipments in the middle of the night, at the possible cost of your life. You will be able to hang out at bars and listen for rumors, buy drinks, and perhaps seek the company of a prostitute. You will be able to establish a world-wide presence and be declared Drug Lord. Oops, that's only if you're good.

Are you an illustrator? If so, check this out.

I'm in the process of reworking the sounds right now. No more woof woof and squeak squeak (which were actually my voice talents). Again, more realistic and darker.

The game is going to be renamed as well. When I first named it, I didn't realize that there used to be a game called Drug Lord. This has caused much confusion. I'm not sure what it's going to be called yet, but stay tuned to find out.

August 20th, 2001

I haven't touched the bulk of my computers lately. I should probably shut them off, but that seems obscene somehow. The only computer I've been using with any regularity is an iBook, and the machine I use at work, but I don't count that one.

I like the iBook because it has a wireless net connection, which means I can sit outside and check the world currencies markets or whatever. If I did either of those things, that is. But I can lounge on the couch and that's a good thing.

The whole computer thing, professionally and personally, is growing old and I would dearly love to not do it anymore. But there are bills and obligations to think of, so I can't. I'm stuck in a perpetual cycle of waking up at 5:30am, driving for an hour, giving eight hours of mind numbing mental labor, driving another hour, and then plopping and enjoying what is left of my day. My life. It's withering away. Being consumed.

Simplification is good.

I have learned several lessons in life. The most important of which is that no matter what you want, once you get it you will always want something else. The second most important is that once you get what you've been wanting, it doesn't make you a better person in anyone else's eyes other than your own--and that's an illusion at best. People embark on a continuous struggle to improve their lives. Except for the wretchedly poor, this involves aquiring property. A new gas barbecue, a shiny new car, a fur coat, a swimming pool, and so on. Symbols of status, I suppose. Status of what though? Certainally not degree of good personess.

I think that it's not completely about status. It's also about staving off boredom, and trying to make life seem worthwhile. Rosebud and all that.

Luxury is a perception of reality. It is not reality. Luxury does not exist without a human to interpret it as such.


Note to Floridiots: when there are shark sightings, stay out of the water! At very least, don't act like a pansy when your leg gets bitten off. I'm tired of reading about you people in the news.


As you have probably noticed, the high score board has gone away. There have been too many people cheating for me to keep up with it, and to be honest, I have ceased to care. The high score board will return when Drug Lord 3 is released.

August 8th, 2001

My favorite book of all time is Foucault's Pendulum. I've been wanting to reread it lately. This is one book that I'd like to be seen made into a motion picture.

I'd also like to see a sequel to The Zero Effect. I think it's my favorite movie, but I'm not sure. If I could rewatch all the movies I've ever seen in a couple of days, I'd know for sure, but I've seen far too many of them to do this. Books, however, stick with me and linger in the mind for years. I always know what book is my favorite and know when it's been outdone by a new book.


Good grammar is important to me. I do judge people based upon their ability to weave their native language in a meaningful way. What has really been grating on me lately is the use of "for free."

For example:

Buy one, get another for free.

Jason was going to buy a stapler, but he didn't have to because he bought some scissors and received one for free as part of a promotion.

Strictly speaking, "for free," is horrible grammar, and I have no choice but to question a person's education when I hear it.

So what is the proper expression? It's just "free." By having "for" in there, an exchange is implied. You cannot give someone a "free." You can give them a goat, or seven dollars, but not a free.


I was looking through some of my older writings and came across a few things that I like. I decided to make them available here.

Taco Man is absurdity wrapped in reality.

Human Limitations is an essay about how our acceptence of things prevents innovation.

The Story of the Big-Hearted Ant is a tale about an ant and his adventures.

Versatile Pork. Pork may be the other white meat, but have you considered alternative uses?

The Stooges is very brief but to the point.

Sausage Shoes is about a boy who is not happy with his shoes, and the milkman who tries to help.

August 6th, 2001

Study: Multitasking is counterproductive. I've been saying this for years. People who claim to be great multitaskers have always ticked me off and I have always considered them to be not the sort of person I want to work with. They get pulled in so many directions at once that they get absolutely nowhere, and often co-workers will have to lend a hand in order to get anything done.

August 4th, 2001

Wanted to say something. Nothing to say.

July 9th, 2001

The SS5 really doesn't want to have Solaris 8 on it. I spent hours trying to coax it to run but was never able to get it working. I'm thinking it may be a memory issue. I wasn't too keen on it anyhow once I realized that 512MB of hard disk space was required for the swap partition. With only a 1GB drive, that doesn't leave much for anything else. I briefly had NetBSD running on it, but it seemed kind of flakey, so I toasted it. In it's place I have RedHat 6.1 running, and it works like a charm. I have read about some performance issues with Linux on SparcStations, but I haven't seen any of it.

The RedHat experience went so well that I actually decided to install it on one of my SparcStation IPCs, and by gum, it worked surprisingly well. Since the IPC has only a floppy drive, I had to do a NFS install. I stuck the RedHat CD into a different box and exported the hard drive. The only trouble is that the hard drive on the IPC is a mere 190MB (yes, megabytes), 40 of which is for swap, leaving 150 for everything else. After a fairly minimal install I have a grand total of 12MB left to play in. Luckily I can mount some extra space from willy (Slackware box, 40GB hard drive).

Given that this IPC is so limited (it also has only 36MB of RAM, and the processing power of a 486-50), it runs amazingly well. I know that there are a few folks out there that are using such a box as a light weight web server (more HD space and more RAM, I'm sure), and I can totally see it. What I really want to do is run setiathome on it. It will take forever to get any results, but that's ok; at least it will be doing something meaningful (was presumably meaningful).

I'm still ticked about the SS5 and Solaris--I really wanted a Solaris box. I would do more tinkering, but it takes such a long time to install it that tinkering isn't really all that possible. Perhaps once I get the monitor for the thing I will tinker some more.

Things left to tinker with are another IPC, a SS10, and a HP9000 C180. The other IPC has a bad NVRAM and I either have to a) replace it, or b) cut into it ever so gently and bypass the defunct battery with a new one. I'm undecided which I'll do. I will however say that it was a stupid decision for Sun to use a part with an internal battery instead of having an external one that could be replaced as needed.

The SS10 boots but has a bad installation of either NetBSD or OpenBSD (I don't recall which). I'm going to try to put Solaris 8 on it because it has a whopping amount of RAM and HD space. Whether it will work is anyone's guess.

The HP9000 finally works. It arrived in bad shape (Ebay auction). With some careful bending of metal, I was able to get things to slide into place satisfactorily and it now powers up. Unfortunately, it is like a space heater. It pumps out 500 watts of heat which quickly turns the small room it's in very toasty. I'm not sure what to do about this, but chances are it will sit unloved on a shelf collectiong dust.

July 5th, 2001

Diablo II sucked much of my Independence day away. There were several things that I wanted to do, such as work on Drug Lord 3 (which is real close to being done). I also wanted to set up a web page that photo-documents all my weird computer equipment.

But none of this came to pass, and instead I sat in front of the computer playing a game that I knew I shouldn't buy because I knew this is exactly what would happen. But oh well.

July 3rd, 2001

Man alive, it's July already. Time is whizzing by.

June 11th, 2001

Yes, I know about the inventory bug that from time to time will sometimes let you find you hundreds or thousands of items on a body. The bug has been located and corrected, and the release of Drug Lord 3 won't contain it. This is sad for some people, I imagine because rather than actually being skilled at the game, they relied on this bug to achieve their high scores and then felt it was reasonable to post them on the high score board.

As odd and incredible as it may seem, I actually worked on Drug Lord 3 this weekend!. Yes, I know, I'm breaking a serious slack trend here.


Because I'm a self-confessed hardware addict, I bought yet another computer on Friday. The fellow from Ebay with the SparcStation 10 wrote back to tell me that either after or before he tried to install Solaris 8 (I'm not sure which) the machine would no longer boot and that he'd sell it to me for half of the auction price. Well, half for a non-functional machine with the specs that this machine has makes it a pretty good deal. (SS10 motherboards sell for like $10). I agreed to paying half price. Of course, just because I'm getting a box which I think can be easily fixed isn't a guarantee that it can be.

So, still wanting a SparcStation that works, I bid on an SS5 with 17" monitor. I was stupid and I bid an hour and a half before the auction ended, going against my Ebay strategy of swooping in at the last moment and thereby getting a better deal because the price wasn't inflated artificially. However, as luck would have it, my bid remained until the end and much to my surprise, I actually won the thing. Now I got to get it here. The shipping charges are going to be nasty--the monitor is super heavy. If UPS can get it here alive, I'll be impressed. So far they have a 2:3 failure rate when it comes to things that weigh more than a couple of poinds. We shall see.

Ebay frustrates me because I'm the sort of person that likes instant gratification, at least when it comes to making purchases. I have an incredible impatience because I want to "play with it now," not later when my interests may have shifted, or my available time may have disappeared.


Kylix. Bah humbug.

I haven't tried to do anything with Kylix yet, other than install it (oh man, what a nightmare that was), poke around with the components, and verify that basic functionality was more or less intact, which it was.

Despite the fact that it runs on Linux and could (or so I imagine) be ported to other Unicies without much difficulty (yes, I'm refering to Linux as Unix because it is operationally equivalent) it is not a Unix tool!. Huh? You ask. I shall explain. Kylix, like its Windows parent, Delphi, produce massive executables. There isn't necessarily anything wrong with this when they are used to create a nice vertical, perhaps with tendencies towards the horizontal, application. And indeed that's what's going to happen. Unfortuntately, what's also going to happen is that people are going to be using it to create small utilities. Small in the sense that what they do is straightforward. Such applications, however, won't be small in size. When you have a tool-oriented system such as Unix and all your tools are largish, you start to run into some real-world problems.

Like Microsoft Windows. Remember Windows 3.1? Sure, it wasn't really an operating system--it didn't multitask and it relied on DOS to run, but it was tiny, coming on a small handful of disks. It would run nicely on a 40Mhz system with a 100GB hard drive and 16MB RAM--I developed on such a system. All the software for it was small and fast. And then RAD tools started to appear. The size of software crept upwards, as did the power needed to run it. Today I have a 60GB hard drive, a 900Mhz box, and 192MB of RAM. Half of that hard drive is full of applications.

If this were to happen to Unix, the Unix philosophy would be destroyed. Applications like Vim would shift from a few hundred k-bytes to a couple of M-bytes. Hardware drivers would stop being tiny and responsive and become large and belabored because they would have to work through multiple APIs (RAD tools typically have their interfaces to make them portable). Tools would cease to be single-use also. With huge executable sizes already, the temptation to add more and more features would be hard to resist. Better to increase the size of a 3.5MB application by 100k than to create another 3.5MB application, right?

Anyhow, I'm ranting. I'll stop now.

June 8th, 2001

I have this need to see a movie. Not just any movie, but a good movie, the supply of which seems to have dried late last year. There have been a few interesting movies, but they are random at best and resulted in a movie theater trip maybe 4 times this year. Prior to the crap onslaught from Hollywood, I would go the the movies nearly every single week.

I was harboring some hope for Swordfish, but initial reviews suggest that it is so confusing that any summer-blockbuster-redeaming-qualities that it had are lost. But that's the review of the critics. I take the review of normal people much more seriously. I will wait to see what they have to say before I make any hasty decisions.

June 7th, 2001

Just so my SS10 won't feel lonely, I bought a HP 9000 C180 to keep it company. I have always found HP-UX to be a bit obscure and not used all that much, but a bit of research (at job hunting sites) has revealed that it is it isn't quite as obscure as I had thought. It's out there, but for some reason it keeps a low profile.

Anyhow, I snagged a box and am eager to get it up and running. It will be my first 64-bit machine, which has mucho drool factor. Not much drooling over the apearance of the beast though; it is way ugly. It looks more like a rather deep radio that a computer. Perhaps this is why HP-UX systems seem obscure--no one wants to show off their hardware and be ridiculed because it is ugly.

June 5th, 2001

I won an Ebay auction last night for a SparcStation 10. It's a nice little machine, with 2GB of hard drive space, 192MB of RAM and a single 40MHz processor. Not bad considering that this machine dates back to 1993. It's a bit slow on the megahertz side of things, but I plan on beefing that up considerably, provided I can find the hardware. The SS10 (as us oh-so-cool folks call the SparcStation 10) can sport up to four processors at one time. I'm thinking that 4 x 125 MHz ought to make this beast fly. Some extra hard drive space wouldn't hurt either; fortunately the SS10 comes with an external hard drive case in which I can put something larger and more exciting.

What I don't get with the SS10 is a monitor, a piece of hardware that typically has its own custom connector and must be a "Sun-original." Chances are that I can find one on Ebay, or perhaps I can find an adapter that will allow me to use a normal monitor.

From what I've read the keyboard and mouse that I'll be receiving aren't going to be all that great. The layout of the keyboard is somewhat funky and the mouse is an optical mouse, not to be confused with the modern optical mouse of today. This mouse requires a mirror-type surface to sit on, which most likely means some Windex is in my future unless I can get a replacement for it.

This purchase corresponds with my desire to run Solaris on something other than an x86. I had it running on an x86 (which is now running Slackware) and everything worked except for ethernet, which to me is kind of a big deal.

June 1st, 2001

It's June. Summer is nearly upon us with its promise of relentless sun, busy roads, high cooling and gas costs, and the consumption of corn dogs.

May 29th, 2001

There's been a change to the high score board. First, all the high scores have been deleted. The choice was between deleting or creating some extra work for myself. Not much of a choice really. You can, of course, resubmit your score.

The big change to the high score board is the addition of dates to the listing; you and others will be able to see exactly when you got that super high score now. Also, high scores are automatically removed after 30 days. This is to keep the board lively and to prevent me from getting bored seeing the same names over and over. Again, if your score gets deleted you can resubmit it if you wish.

May 15th, 2001

The dot com tech recession has hit Geek Hideout! The Coolboard people have informed me that their Express (aka, free) service is going away. Oh well. Maybe I'll be motived to finish the message board code that I started working on. Or maybe not. The current message board is for people to talk about Drug Lord, but all they do is ask for cheats.

April 24th, 2001

In Orlando. I have been for about 1 1/2 weeks. Did do Disney. Did do Universal Studios. Both rocked supremely. Disney moreso that Universal. We (Ralph and I--he's my coworker) did Universal first. He had seen it all before so was indifferent to where we went. I chose Universal because it seemed to me that it would be less kid-orientated and more geared towards adult pleasure.

It was. Most of it was pretty good. Terminator 2 3d was well worth the price of admission ($50) and the Back to the Future "ride" (it didn't really go anywhere, you were jolted around in eight seat Delorians to simulate movement) was a close runner up. We did these two first (according to the right hand rule which states that the best way through a maze is to keep turning right whenever you can) and then did some less exciting ones.

They were less exciting in terms of being shook about: Men in Black, Earthquake, Twister. I know I'm missing something here, but I don't know what. Men in Black stunk the kind of stink you get when you are sitting on the couch eating a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs with parmesan cheese and by the time you are done you are too bloated to move so you put the plate on the end table and continue to watch whatever movie you were watching. Eventually you start to feel better and move around in your seat a bit only to catch a wiff of what you can best describe as vomit. It's not widely know, but is a scientific fact nonetheless that spaghetti sauce and parmesan cheese, when left to their own devices, emulate the aroma of freshly launched vomit. This is how badly Men in Black stunk.

Earthquake and Twister were very realistic emulations of, well, earthquakes and twisters. There was too much pre-show self-congratulatory pats on the back, but given the nature of Universal Studios, I guess that's to be expected. Earthquake was far better than Twister. A subway station was transformed into flaming, sparking, and waterlogged rubble before our very eyes. It wasn't the effect of what an earhtquake can do that impressed me so much, but rather what people are capable of doing as far as effects go.

Twister was similar, but not as awe-inspiring. The required cow flew by and a few things blew apart and caught on fire. The winds were fierce and the stable-type area we were in was rocked around. But, the problem was, that just as you were expecting total destruction to occur, the show ends. Kind of a letdown really.

We didn't go on ET, or Jaws or King Kong. We contemplated ET for a while but decided that it was destined to be lame, so we refrained. Ralph told me that Jaws and King Kong were exceptionally lame, so we didn't bother with those either.

We hit a few gift shops (there are more shops than attractions) and then went to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe. The Hard Rock (to be cool you must always leave off the Cafe part) just didn't do it for me. Sorry. The food was good and that's about it. After examining the walls for a bit, eyes eventually settle on the rotating pink car that is above the bar).

Universal did whet my appetite for more rides though, so I suggested to Ralph that we should head to Disney the next day. He was cool with that (anything is cooler than an action-packed day spent in a hotel room).

Disney was good--better than Universal--and better than my expectations. Although it gets real crowded there real fast, it is able to retain a quaint (this is the best that I can describe it) feeling. I will elaborate on this shortly.

We experienced many rides and attractions. A Buzz Lightyear one that was very similar to the M.I.B. one from the day before but cooler for some reason. One where a teleportation experiment goes very wrong and you are submerged into complete darkness with a very nasty alien making his way towards you. (This one was intense and completely freaked out one child so much that her entire family was forced to leave). And Space Mountain.

Ah, Space Mountain. It's a roller coaster. For me, my first real roller coaster. It doesn't go upside down make you go in a big loop, but it does go 30mph in complete darkness. Well, not quite complete. Stars and space ships are projected onto the ceiling, but it is still so dark that you can't see your hand in front of your face. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. The darkness added a scary edge to it, but I also think it was pacifying because it kept visions of your certain death at bay. It was good though, I'd do it again.

After space mountain we headed over the the Haunted Mansion and got hold of some express thingies that allow for a no-wait later return. This gave us half an hour to kill, which we managed to slay on a river boat ride around Tom Sawyer's island. Indians, pirates and animatronic animals littered the opposite shores. It was relaxing, and where the feeling of quaintness comes it. Here we were in the middle of a massive amusement part but it felt small and peaceful. There was a half painted fence on the island that stated "TOM {hearts} BECKY." It did feel like we had zipped back in time.

The Haunted Mansion was reasonably lame. You don't spend much time in the mansion itself, but are instead taken underground to where you enter a car and go for a ride on a track. Various effects happen, doors rattling, ghosts appearing, things jumping out and so forth. Would have scared me to death when I was a kid, but had little effect on me as an adult.

While waiting for our express passes to Splash Mountain, we explored Tom Sawyer's Island. We had planned to eat at Aunt Polly's Restaurant, visible from across the water, but it turned out to be more of a snack bar than a restaurant. Oh well.

Splash Mountain was good. The line was long even with our express pass, however, if we didn't have it we would have had to stand in line for 90 minutes! There were only three or four big drops, and I like a big baby closed my eyes tight and held on for dear life during the biggest one, and the one where they take your picture. Ralph is a hands-in-the-air sort of guy. The sign warned us that we may get wet. May indeed. We got soaked.

We were going to do Thunder Mountain (do you notice a pattern here?) but I was pooped and suggested we call it a day. We explored the gift shop for a bit and then took the half an hour trip back to the car.


And no, Drug Lord 3 isn't ready yet.

April 11th, 2001

Going to Orlando next week. I like the word "Orlando." I have the overwhelming desire to stretch it out when I speak it:


Not Disney, no, nothing that exciting. I'm going to be working at a client's site learning how they install their software, so that I can do an install of the migrated software. This isn't as simple as it sounds. It's not like a Windows install where you one run program and *boom* you're done. No no. It's not even like a typical Unix install from source where you un-tgz a file, configure it, make it, and make install it. No no. What we're talking about is the installation and configuration of 20 or so third party tools, in addition to the installation and configuration of the 100 or so modules that were ported.

The good news about the Orlando trip is that I am going to have a lot of hotel time in which I can work on Drug Lord 3. Chances are very good that during those two weeks worth of evenings that I will finish it.

April 5th, 2001

It's April. I don't really have anything to say, but I felt that I was overdue saying something at all, so here I am.

Nothing much has been going on in my world of development; too lazy, too sleepy, too involved in watching tv. The Drug Lord plan has been cemented though and it's just a matter of writing some code.

I bought Grand Theft Auto from FunCo Land for $14.00. It's the sort of edgy game that I like where the player is on the wrong side of the law. The idea is that you drive around town doing various tasks for the mob, such as stealing cars, rubbing people out, and delivering packages. Fun, but frustrating due to how the controls work. I spend more time [driving] on the sidewalks than the streets because of the sloppy controls. It's worth the fourteen bucks though. Something to do on those rainy Sundays when a book isn't attractive.


And he crept up the stairs, hand clenched to the railing, fingernails biting into the wood. He froze to the sound of a momentary soft brushing coming from an upstairs room. A room that he was only feet away from. He pushed himself up the stairs, senses heightened for whatever noise may be ahead, and whatever noise may be coming from his own feet. Stealth was necessary. The advantage had to be his.

He reached the top of the stairs and listened into the darkness. At first he could hear nothing but as layers of silence peeled away he became aware of the buzz of an outside lamp and the gentle rumble of the air conditioning fan in the basement; sounds normally masked out by practice but unsually loud as his ears strained to hear anything that didn't belong.

The door of the room was to his right and open a couple of inches. Touching the door in any way would create a squeak that wouldn't be any less revealing than a fog horn. Carefully he angled his head so that his eye could survey what was in the room. It was darker in there than in the hallway and it required a few nervous seconds to accommodate the difference.

Everything seemed in order. The bed, the desk and chair, the bookcase. The window looked odd--he wasn't quite sure how. Then he saw the carpet and the stain on it. Dark, with a surface that reflected the moonlight. Blood? His pulse quickened. Whose blood? He was alone here. Escape. He must leave now.

He cautiously backed up from the door. Soundless. Purposeful. Just as he was turning his head to look down the staircase the door opened quickly. The mini-vacuum tugged at the hair on his bare arms, giving him a chill of terror.

His head continued its motion, but his feet were already moving down the stairs, away from whatever had opened the door. Halfway down his foot landed wrong and the toes were jabbed firmly perpendicular to the stair. He lost his balance and stumbled the rest of the way down.

Unhurt but confused, it took him a moment to recall his terror. He lost a further moment analyzing the comedy in his forgetfulness. He tried to scramble to to his feet, but the foot he landed on incorrectly wasn't obeying. He fell again and saw that a figure was making its way down the stairs.


I think it's a good day for a sushi lunch.

March 27th, 2001

I toasted my QNX installation in favor of Windows 2000. QNX is great, but it sucks as a desktop. Of course, I didn't strictly need to have another machine for desktop purposes--I have two Windows 2000 machines already for this purposes in two different rooms--but you know how it goes: I might not want to be in one of those rooms.

It's a piddly 233 Mhz box with only 64MB of RAM, but it runs W2K like a charm and, I hate to admit this, but it seems faster than QNX was. But this is most likely an illusion; a result of optimized drivers and such.

March 23rd, 2001

So it seems some children have been reeking havoc on the high score board. They managed to post ten or so scores before I noticed what was going on and deleted the offending scores.

It's really sad when people, who are obviously unskilled with the game, resort to trying to cheat in order to poof up their own egos.

March 21st, 2001

After doing some playability testing on what is to be Drug Lord 3, I have determined that it is too complex. The complexity reduces the fun, and that's not what I want. So, I've spent the last couple of days rethinking things, and believe that I have come up with something that adds just as much depth, but will be easier on the player. It will also integrate much nicer with the forthcoming multiplayer version.

Simple is good.

Instead of having to micro-manage hirelings, they will just "exist" and do what you need them to do. Right now there are four different classes of hirelings, each good at a specific task, but nothing else. The more you have, the easier the game becomes and the more profit you will be able to make. Some travel with you, and others are stationed in cities, acting on your behalf there.

No details on this right now because eyes are everywhere.

Well, not everywhere--there aren't any eyes in my desk drawer because that would be plain weird. You know what I mean though.

I might also add some new ranks to the game in order to allow gameplay to extend beyond 55 days. What I need, however, are some good rank titles.

March 19th, 2001

Woo! Went to Houston for the weekend, and also went to Fry's Electronics for the first time ever. I've always wanted to go to a Fry's, but I never had the opportunity given that I've never really had anything that resembled leisure time in California.

I was completely blown away by the size of the store (decorated with faux oil-rig stuff). There were aisles upon aisles of cool things and I could have spent many hours looking at it all, but I made a quick pass (quick as in one hour) through the store and emerged empty-handed. There was one snazzy Vaio laptop in particular that I drooled over for some time before walking on. Perhaps after tax time I will return and snatch it up.

A novel I've been wanting to read has finally paperbooked (verb creation ahoy). Sick Puppy is great read and I've already plowed through 200 of its 500 odd pages. For me a book is good when I'd rather read it than watch TV, the such book being, "The Second Coming of Steve Jobs." Geeky, true, but a fascinating read nonetheless.

March 9th, 2001

Some of the most recent scores on the high score board have been lost. This was due to my own clumsiness while working on the high score cgi script.


Links, is a text-based web browser based on the ever popular Lynx browser, except Links is vastly superior.

It renders tables and frames correctly, has pop-up menus for when you don't remember that obscure key combination to press, and is blazingly fast. I can say absolutely nothing bad about this product.

March 8th, 2001

Yeah, the high score board. No longer is it the top 50, now it's the top 100.

People keep asking me to spill the beans about Drug Lord 3, so here it is. The big feature of the game is the inclusion of hirelings, aquired in cities, which stay in that city to do trade on your behalf. A hireling will send you any profit made that is over a limit you define. For example, if you set the limit to $10,000 and the hireling has $12,473, the next day you find that $2,473 has been wired to your bank. If the hireling is honest, that is.

Being the sort of shady characters they are, a hireling can turn on you and skim money. He can also disappear entirely, taking whatever he has with him. There may be rumors that he went to such-and-such a city, in which case you may want to take a flight there to teach the guy a lesson.

Make no mistake though, hirelings don't take such lessons lightly and will defend themselves, attacking you--perhaps killing you in the process. Such is what you get for dealing with shady characters.

The world drug prices are going to work differently. You will be able to view the prices in a city if you are represented in that city, meaning you have a hireling there. Part of the hirelings daily job is to email this information to you.

March 2nd, 2001

Work on Drug Lord 3 has begun! I started last night and the work is progressing very quickly. Details on what's new will be posted here soon.

I kind of lost interest in the curses version for now, but maybe I will pick it up again later on.

February 28th, 2001

Black trucks.

There are black non-descript trucks roaming the streets of Austin. If you break the law in some way, they suddenly become very descript: sirens and flashing lights.

At first I thought it was just some fool who was pretending to be "the man," but no, they are for real. Of course, they could have been here forever and I just noticed them now.

February 25th, 2001

I haven't had much time recently to work on Parallel Port Monitor, so I have decided to release what I do have. The only change is that it no longer requires you to reboot your Windows NT or 2K system. I figure that's good enough for now.

I do have many exciting things planned for it in the future, which you can read about down below somewhere. When I have enough time, I will actually finish the enhancements.


Yesterday I once again made the voyage into Austin to go to the Goodwill store. A short time after arriving, I had in my hand a small collection of socket 7 motherboards. It was my intent to salvage the Compaq that I previously talked about so that I could get QNX up and running.

After carrying around the motherboards for a bit (with the gouges from component pins and leads on the solder side of the board becoming deeper and deeper) I walked over to the area where they sold complete systems. The past two weekends in a row I have bought such a system, and I was determined not to buy another one. All I needed was a motherboard and a case. That's all. Nothing more. But then I saw the price of a Sony VAIO PCV-100. I asked myself if it was worth the time to assemble a computer from questionable motherboard (which is why I had several) or to buy a new computer for a ridiculously low price. So I ended up buying a nother computer. The price turned out to be even cheaper because seeing as how I didn't need a monitor, keyboard, or mouse, they knocked of the price of them for me--I didn't think they would do this or I would have had them do it with other systems I bought. I have so many keyboards that I need a separate room for the all.

Unlike the Compaq, the VAIO loved QNX when I installed it, save for the Yamaha sound hardware. But that's ok--QSSL (whenever I hear their name, I think "Q-silly") has committed itself to releasing drivers. We shall see. Everything else just worked, which is how life is supposed to be in the 21st century.

Or at least things worked for awhile. The environment was very stable. Rock stable. But the network setup (which attempts to be very automatic and if it worked would have had a wowee factor of 10) gave--and continues to give--me hardships.

The default QNX installation looks for a DHCP server. Great, I have one of those; it is how most of the machines on my home network get internet acces. The installation found the server just fine. It even found the domain name that the router uses. QNX gathers all this information and plugs it into the appropriate places. My problem is that whever I have an outgoing host name, QNX appends my local domain name to it. So, for example, becomes, which results in not being found. The only way I have been able to resolve this is by using a nonsense value for the domain name. This is not something that I want to to.

I went over to QSSL's newsgroups and posted a message. To the wrong group. But not on purpose. It was late. I was looking for something with "network' in it and chose the first one I came to. Without reading really. I posted my message. Later on, as I was lounging on the couch and browsing newsgroups from the QNX box, I noticed that I was unable to find my mosting. So I dug a bit more. Oh, there it was under DDK. Oh.

This morning I checked the group for fun to see if I had been flamed for posting in the wrong place or if someone had responded with something helpful. An employee from QSSL, Chris McKillop, replied. He essentially said that yes, he could help me, but I would have to repost to the installation group. Uh huh. I felt codescended to.

But I am an adult and I can overlook such things. I posted my question to the isntallation group as he suggested and I am now waiting for a reply.

Aside from this one issue, which at this point is mostly cosmetic, QNX is up and running. Like I said before it is visually stunning. I will now add that it doesn't work as a desktop environment, or even a very good Unix environment for that matter.

It should be understood that they are not Unix. That was never really their goal. There are so many similarities that it is a surprise when something is missingor different that what you're used to. Take adding a new user, for example. I have grown accustomed to using the "adduser" command. I tried the same on QNX, but that command doesnt exist. I tried "man" on QNX, but tha doesn't exist either. I went to the web and searched for information on how to do this. It turned out that you add a new user using the passwd command by specifiying the name of a user that doesn't exist. But watch out! If you choose a non-existing group, you must manually add it because QNX won't add it for you.

Some simple tools appear to be missing or broken too. Like "host," which was either hiding in some non-pathed directory, or was just not there.

inetd isn't started by default either. I at first found this to be a bit strange, but after some thought delegated it to being a good practice. What is strange is that telnetd produces an error when running--an error that says a standard TCP/IP function call is missing. QSSL addresses this on their website, where they say to let inetd start it for you. Fine fine, for now. Tomorrow I might not want inetd running--then what?

The weakest part of their desktop environment--and I don't know why I keep setting myself up for a good experience when it comes to these things--is their web browser, Voyager. It is--and this is a technical term--half-assed. At times it has cosmetic issues with tables. Other times, especially when you have too many Voyager windows open, it will stop responding entirely. The only way thus far that I have been able to relieve myself of this error is to reboot. I am certain there is just some hung process that has to be killed, but I haven't figured out which one yet.

Rebooting is so Windows 95. And Windows ME (oh, man, I dislike ME so much). Reboots should never be necessary, especially for a modular real-time operating system like QNX, where you can swap functionality in and out as needed.

Using Photon gives me the same feeling as using X. It's awful pretty, but it doesn't really do much for me. I will stick to my Windows 2000 desktop which does everything I could ever possibly want to do. Everything, that is, except for customized its look (yes, I know about Stardock's WindowBlinds, and they suck).

February 24th, 2001

Bug alert! A bug in Drug Lord 2 was uncovered! If you completely delete the contents of the high score box where you enter your name, the box becomes disabled and you aren't allowed to do anything other than click on OK. I have fixed this and if you download Drug Lord 2 again, the error will be gone.

I really must start keeping a revision history. Right now though it seems to be more trouble than it's worth. Soon. Maybe.

February 21st, 2001

Ah, the great tech-recession is starting to gain momentum.

It was no great surprise when dot-com failures began to trickle out of the IT faucet. After all, how could they seriously expect to make money? I don't know of any internet users that are willing to pay for content that they can get a couple of clicks elsewhere free. I also don't know anyone that routinely clicks on banner advertisments--most people learned with in a few days of being wired that they are normally a waste of time. There have been three occasions that I can recall that I 1) actually noticed the ad and 2) was interested enough to click on it. Despite fulfilling the advertisers expectations of 1 and 2, I did not purchase anything.

Aside from pornography, and a few successful online businesses like EBay, the only real revenue being generates is through search engines. Many of them have banner advertisments, but like I said, these have been proved not to work. What does work, however, is very subtle to the end user, but provides massive profit to the companies that run the search engines. In Infoseek, for example, when you type in the keyword "hamburger," the very first item in the list is McDonald's. Chances are very good that McDonald's that it cost McDonalds more than a Happy Meal to get this premium placement.

So, the dot-coms make sense, but what about the other non-dot-com companies that are also failing? Blame the dot-coms for this also! The rise of the dot-coms attracted a lot of investers, which made some people very rich very fast. Some of this money was invested in other more traditional companies, such as hardware and software vendors. These vendors, in turn, hired more, did more research, and because of the vast number of consumers who bought or were buying computers, increased manufacturing output.

When the dot-coms did start to fail and industry lay-offs began, the affected people began to cash their stocks in order to compensate for the salary they were no longer earning. When people start to do this, stock prices fall. When stock prices fall, companies begin to panic and start to lay off people. Remember, these are non-dot-com companies, like Dell, HP, Motorola, VA Linux, Future Network, and CNBC. But also remember, these companies hired all these people when the dot-com boom began.

This being the case, the question of a tech-recession isn't a question at all. The recession is an illusion; the industry is going back to where it was--if anything, it's a little better off than before.

This does leave me somewhat scared. Is the company I work for safe? If I get layed off, will I be able to find another job, or will I just be another arm waving in a crowd of thousands? When will the next big thing come along that will create a financial burp? Will there be another big thing?

In the same vein, this has already happened to so-called web developers a year or so ago. Somewhere around 1996 there was a big rush to learn HTML. After all, people were making $70/hr doing it professionally and it was easy. Yeah, no kidding. My cat can write HTML. Seriously. It is not that grand of a talent to possess. Even less so when unecessary tools such as Dreamweaver and FrontPage are used. It doesn't warrant that kind of salary. Which is exactly what companies started decided on there own.

Many of the web developers from two years ago are no longer web developers at all any more--there's simply no market for their skills. Many of the ones that remain have experienced pay cuts that have reduced their income to 1/3 of what it was before. Some who knew a little Java and CGI strengthened these talents enough to become software developers.

February 20th, 2001

I've been a long time QNX fan. Before it was freely available, my only taste came from a friends home where he was gracious enough to let me hack (in the traditional sense) on it. I wrote some programs, did some porting, and even wrote a driver for an A/D board, which, I have to add, was amazingly simple to do so. My friend used QNX to do data acquisition for oil rigs. One 486 (then impressive) QNX box was able to accommodate 32 sensors and perform calculations on them in real time. The calculations were extremely complex, so this was an impressive feat.

Last night, I tried to put QNX on an old Compaq box I have. Up until recently, it had been running Linux, but when the hard drive died (in truth, it didn't die, it just started to work very slowly--instead of delivering transfer rates of about 5MB/S, it was giving them at 30KB/S. Kilobytes!) I went down to Goodwill and bought a nice K6-300/128MB system for a couple hundred bucks.

The Compaq box is flakey. Very flakey. It doesn't have a traditional BIOS setup; instead, you have to boot it with a diagnostic disk and do setup through a tool. Not too convienient. The setup application is remarkable in what it doesn't let you do. You can't disable the keyboard. You can't disable the built-in IDE controller. You can't boot from CD. And you can't have hard drives bigger than 8GB (I had a 20GB hard drive on it when it was running Linux. Linux seemed to understand that the BIOS sucked and handled the drive accordingly.

When it came to installing QNX on it, everything worked fine. All the hardware was found, including my weirdo network card. When it came to booting, however, things didn't work so great. The first time around, everything halted shortly after the OS began to load. I reinstalled QNX with a different hard drive configuration--and it booted! Within seconds, I was emerged in the exciting world of Photon, with its blazing speed and oh-so-sexy good looks. My amusment ceased when I tried to launch Voyager, QSS's web browser. A portion of the screen became decorated with randomly colored pixels and the box froze up tight. So much for fault-tolerance.

I did a reinstall six or seven times and still encountered various problems. I thought I might have some bad memory, so I swapped it--still no go. Maybe it's the video card. Maybe. I don't have a spare PCI video card floating around, so I don't really know. I'm more inclined to go back to Goodwill and by another more modern system than I am to buy a video card that may not cure my woes.

But, man, it's sexy. I'd love to put it on a laptop and lug it around here and there. People would undoubtedly stop and stare and ask what it is.

The real problem with QNX--and this isn't a problem at all given that it was never intended to be a consumer OS--is that it lacks applications. No Adobe acrobat. No word processor or spreadsheet of any real power. No... well, it's a long list, I'll stop here. Maybe with enough advocation these things will slowly emerge, especially now that QNX is free for non-commercial use.

My main problem now is figuring out what to do with the Compaq box. It's only P166/64MB. This is enough to run Windows 2000 reasonably well, but I already have two boxes with W2K on them, I don't think I really need another--slower--one. It also resists the installation of FreeBSD, so I can't do that either. BeOS? No. No way. Ever since they gave up doing hardware, I've lost all iterest in them. Besides, it seems obvious to me that BeOS is going absolutely nowhere very fast. FreeDOS? Interesting thought, but what would I do with a DOS system? Oh well, I'll figure out something.


I'll admit it--I've been shirking off my psuedo-responsibilities of updating Parallel Port Monitor and Drug Lord. Too many things to do and not enough time to do them all. I tend to shift gears into maintaining these things when I get feedback from people. Just haven't been getting much of it lately.


So I have decided that there was indeed some cheating going on with the Drug Lord High Scores. A weird score led me to this conclusion: 250,000,000,000. Seems a little unlikely in both size and the fact that it's so nice and round. So I deleted it, and the other ones that were from the same person.

February 13th, 2001

At the risk of offending oodles of people, I will reveal a secret: I hate Perl!. Well, maybe not hate--that might be a tad too strong of a word--but I strongly dislike it.

Now I don't dislike it because it's difficult--it's really not that difficult to learn and use, and I do use it from time to time when it looks like Perl is the best solution for the problem at hand. What I don't like is that Perl is infrequently the best solution for the problem at hand..

The real problem is that many people simply don't get the Unix concept. When they encounter something that requires a bit of programming, the first thing that comes to their mind is "how can this be done in Perl." That's simply the wrong approach--the first thing that should come to their mind is: "can the solution be realized using the rich toolset that comes with Unix?" We're talking shell scripts here.

Unix has at its disposal a vast assortment of tools that nicely plug together in this way and that via pipes, directing the output of one command to the input of another. String several of these together and very sophisticated results can be achieved. This is really the philosophy behind Unix; many little tools that do one job and do it well can be used together to accomplish more advanced tasks.

The typical Perl programmer seems to bypass this world of versitility and proceeds to write a tool in Perl. This is the behavior I dislike. Not only because of what I just said, but also because it is contagious. When a novice hears a expert mutter something about doing it in Perl, the novice will start to think that Perl is the best--and only--answer available.

The reason that this is on my mind is because the other day I was reading a Linux Users Group posting, and someone was asking how to change the permissions of all files in a directiory, including subdirectories. Someone else replied back with a short Perl script to do the task. Now, it doesn't matter that the script was flawed, but it does matter that there is a native Unix command for doing this very thing.

This is sort of like a doctor who knows how to use very advanced equipment, but doesn't understand human anatomy. Not really a doctor that I would want.

I also have very similar issues with using RAD tools. But I will save those for another day.

February 12th, 2001

Oh, yay! Drug Lord 2 finally made it to It only took two months!.

At least they finally took it; most of the big download places out there wouldn't even touch it due to its seedy nature.

February 6th, 2001

My "What's new" page has kind of diverted from its original purpose. I'm more likely to just blabber in here about whatever is in my mind than to describe something that is new, exciting, and fun (oh, yes, fun) on my site. This isn't because I'm ignoring my duty of reporting the NEF stuff (that's New, Exciting, and Fun), but rather because it is so infrequent and my need to blabber just can't be controlled.

What I should probably do is create a separate section for this sort of thing. I had one, you know, but it's now hiding.

The next version of Parallel Port Monitor is still being worked on--I haven't had much time at all lately. It will be released "real soon now."

January 26th, 2001

I bought a new used car the other day from my good friend Johnny. A '96 Mustang convertible. It's blue. It's fast. It gets too many looks. I still want a 1976 BMW 2002 though. Call me crazy.

I have been working on an upgrade of my Parallel Port Monitor. The big improvement (at least to me) is that it doesn't require NT/2000 users to do the big reboot just to run it. Feature-wise, it has the ability to output timed counts, shifts and rotates on ports. For the seven and a half million people who asked for it, it will also have the ability to log data, to both a file, and on the screen in a logic-analyzer type fashion. Expect it to be released soon with much fanfare. As always, it will be 100% freeware.

Speaking of free, there have been more than 10,000 downloads of Drug Lord 2. I have gotten many positive emails about it, and no complaints (beyond a small bug report). Despite the kudos, I have not received a single dime from anyone. This really surprised me, after all, I'm only asking for $3. Three bucks! Yes, I'm disillusioned. And yes, I'm going to be doing something about it.

I have many great ideas for the next release, but some of them, as well as some existing features, aren't going to be available unless you register. Let's hope I don't have to resort to banner ads, like that other game.

I keep a close eye on the high scores and I notice that there are a few really large ones. I have been tempted to delete these because my first thought was that someone is cheating somehow (my code is hard, but not impossible to crack). After some further thought, I decided that wit a lot of luck (and skill) such scores are really possible. So they stay.

January 12th, 2001

The entire site is now generated from CGI scripts. Can you tell? No. Do you care? Probably not.

December 31th, 2000

Make your MessageBoxes silent with my QuietMessageBox function.

December 28th, 2000

The high score page for Drug Lord 1 and Drug Lord 2 is now ready!

December 20th, 2000

Drug Lord 2.0 is now available!

December 12th, 2000

Drug Lord 1.0 is released.

October 1st, 2000

Site redesign. Groovy yellow and orange abounds.