This Space for Rent

May 31, 2008

Railroad picture of the day


The northbound Coast Starlight zooms towards the Bybee bridge at ~3:55 this afternoon in an attempt to make up some of the time lost to the now-vanished 3:40pm scheduled arrival at Portland Union Station.

Cute baby pictures of the day


Russell and Silas at the Llewellyn carnival last night.

1 comment

Now that’s an interesting development

The Linux distribution that runs on the TUX-shaped SBC is using postoffice for their SMTP server. I certainly approve of this new development in the Linux world, even if they did mysteriously depluralise my last name.

I wonder if they’d send me one of their little SBCs if I asked nicely enough?

May 30, 2008

YAFYE picture of the day


A pair of Yellow Menace Eng!s pull a freight towards the Toonerville bridge, where I was standing to take this picture (The Yellow Menace has put up “NO TRESPASSING” signs just west of the west side of the Toonerville bridge, so either there is some confusion about the whole idea of public right of ways or the Yellow Menace just picked a couple of convenient telephone poles to nail their warning signs to, not really caring where they are in relation to the property line.)

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite got a couple of ballons from the Llewellyn carnival, but, alas, they don’t generate enough lift to make a SuperMite.

May 29, 2008

Fun with telephoto lenses


Same train, different angle, and every bit of telephoto I can get out of the 100-500mm zoom lens.

YAFYE picture of the day


A trio of Yellow Menace GP38s pull a Brooklyn-Albina transfer towards the 11th/12th/Division crossing (lightly squashed and ghosted by my Promaster/Cosina 100-500mm zoom being pushed out to about 450mm.)

May 28, 2008

Pretty flower picture of the day


A blackberry blossom on one of the Himalayan blackberry bushes along the ex-SP ROW in Brooklyn. As an experiment, I opened the lens to f1.2 so I could coax as much bokeh as possible out of the picture. The Pentax 50mm f1.2 certainly blurs out nicely, doesn’t it?

1 comment

YAFYE picture of the day


A brace of Yellow Menace engines wait for a green light so they can block the crossings at 11th, 12th, and Division St.

May 27, 2008

Cute baby picture of the day


The bears were doing some sort of bowling game in the driveway this evening and did not notice that I was lurking around with a camera.

May 26, 2008

YAFYE picture of the day


An ex-SP mp15ac shuffles southwards (to do some switching in the Milwaukie industrial park?) after the northbound Coast Starlight passed through.

Shiny! railroad picture of the day


A freshly washed twinkie leads the (shockingly) on time northbound Coast Starlight under the Bybee bridge in SE Portland this afternoon.

May 25, 2008

Domestic vermin picture of the day


Mavis perches on the partition between the living and dining rooms so she can pass judgement on us all.

May 24, 2008

Springtime, when a middle-aged man’s thoughts turn to …


…More bee pictures!

This one was taken with my new used el-cheapo Promaster 100-500mm manual-focus zoom. All focussing difficulties are a relic of my not-so-great eyesight combined with the long dim viewfinder image.

New Code! (“lightning strikes twice” edition)

Levee has, amazingly enough, been pushed up to version 3.5a with the addition of another new feature – I’ve implemented the “0” command like all of the other higher-priced vi-clones have (“0” being, of course, a shorthand for “0|”.)

And why did I do this feature now? Well, it’s thanks to modern versions of Linux and Xcode, both of which have become even more gnu than they used to be and thus required some heroic tweaking so that configuration and compilation will continue to work (and, no, it’s going to stay void main(), so don’t even ask for that “bug” fix.) And if I’m going to release a new version, by g-d I’m going to put some new feature that I actually use into it.

So it’s New Code!, planted carefully in the middle of the smoking crater left by the last bolt of lightning from the clear blue sky.

May 23, 2008


Thanks to the B*sh economy!

I wonder if the B*sh junta will be able to get it up to US$10/gallon before they abandon the sinking hulk of the United States?

New Code! (“The sound of the other shoe dropping” edition)

I love love love love love my new macbook air, but it’s becoming apparent that, since it’s hardware, the motto of the monastery holds true. In this case, the other shoe is Xcode, which has been taken over by gnuophiles and is having all of the working bits of it slowly ripped out and replaced by lower-quality goods.

Discount, which I had thought was stable enough to ignore for a while, is the latest to fall victim to the sucky new version of Xcode. First, and not unexpectedly, is the fun where echo spits out a ^? if I pass it an empty string, and second is the just as exciting feature that echo -n does not work if it’s called from inside a shell script with a #! /bin/sh header.

echo -n worked with the Xcode on MacOS 10.4, so I’m a little bit miffed that the Xcode development people should decide to fuck with the shell and echo for MacOS 10.5.

There’s also a small parser defect that I’ve corrected. The code that detects a footnote link was miscoded so a line of the form [link1][] text [link2][]: would be treated as a footnote link with the label link1][] text [link2][, which is not a particularly useful behavior in a markup language.

So, here’s version 1.2.6, which has been tweaked so that will configure on the more-broken-for-a-better-computing-experience™ Xcode that comes with MacOS 10.5, and which has the trivial fix that makes footnote links a little less surprising. Enjoy this New Code, and please ignore the bloodsplatters from where my BRAIN EXPLODED when I realized that Apple shipped a newly broken set of devtools just to fuck with the brains of the dozen or so MacOS programmers who still use a shell like G-d himself intended.

New Code!

Postoffice has been pushed up to version 1.4.8 with the addition of a couple of fixes for Xcode on MacOS 10.5 :

  1. On other systems, INT_MAX was defined somewhere else in my maze of #include files. 10.5 must have done a headerfile cleanup, because the old maze of headers just wasn’t doing it anymore. I fixed this by explicitly including limits.h in the modules where I needed INT_MAX.
  2. Also, and more mysteriously, in the AC_SUB function, the echononl() function (defined as $ac_echo "${@}$ac_echo_nonl") would, if $@ was nil, emit a ^?. No, I don’t know why, so I fixed it by having AC_SUB call a regular echo directly instead of echononling out a bunch of substrings.

It’s not tested (much) yet, because it’s just a header file and a configuration tweak that generates the same output as the previous version, but it’s still New Code! for those who might want it.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


A plate of tasty Dust Mites, photographed by Silas with his Kodak C763 point-and-shoot.

YAFYE picture of the day


Another Yellow Menace freight approaches the 11th/12th/Division crossing, but from the opposite direction as yesterday’s freight.

May 22, 2008

YAFYE picture of the day


A Yellow Menace freight train, about to block traffic at the 11th/12th/Division crossing.

Railroad picture of the day


A pair of Yellow Menace switchers head north at the Clay St. crossing in east Portland around 8pm yesterday evening.

New Code!

Cwatch has been pushed up to version 0.97 to release some tiny portability changes. I had built cwatch against the actual Unix lex and yacc programs, and it turns out that the gnuware equivalent of yacc is not completely compatable with yacc (I discovered this when my friend Lynn Dobbs wrote me a bug report, and then by pure coincidence found a test system when I put Xcode onto crepe last night and got to see that Apple (or the subset of Apple that makes the Xcode package) decided that they too wanted to be part of the gnu generation and replace yacc with the lower-priced spread.)

So I did a round of s/\$\([0-9][0-9]*\).\([a-z.][a-z.]*\)/$<\2\>\1/g, pruned a duplicate REGEX token, added a couple of #includes, and, lo and behold, New Code for my microscopically tiny user base!

It’s obvious that my idea of “slow” is unlike that of the rest of the Mac-using world.


It’s cheaper than a Macbook pro, it’s got a (no whiny transformer!) LED backlight, and it’s faster than my original Macbook. And it’s got 364 days of warranty left, so if it dies the True Death I can take advantage of one of the local dens of registered Mactribesmen for repairs. The only thing wrong with it is the clown-car feel that Macos 10.5 brings to the table, but fortunately there are already many suggestions for how to declownify the more obvious bits.

It does not suck, which is good because I’m going to be dumping a lot of otherwise valuable hardware on Ebay to pay for it.

May 21, 2008

Pretty flower picture of the day


Feral roses growing next to a burned out industrial building in East Portland.

A picture is worth 1000 words

We are *soooo* fucked

I wonder what those 1000 words would be? “We are so fucked!”, perhaps, or maybe “Buy gold now, fool!” repeated 250 times?

–via Corrente

May 20, 2008

Picture of the day


The Ross Island Sand & Gravel tugboat, looking as cute as a plastic toy in the bathtub.

This would count as a miracle, no?

A University of Melbourne team has broken new ground, extracting genes from the extinct tasmanian tiger and bringing them back to life in another living creature.

The team put the thylacine DNA into a mouse embryo in what the university’s Dr Andrew Pask says is the first time DNA from an extinct species has been used “to induce a functional response in another living organism.”

The thylacine DNA reproduced in the mouse’s body and showed biological function, reviving hopes that the tiger may one day be successfully cloned.

ABC news, via

I’ve been interested in the thylacine ever since I saw that (too heartbreakingly short) movie clip showing the very last one pacing restlessly around his cage at the Hobart Zoo (and how did I come across the movie clip? Well, that’s easy; I was looking for photos of K-1 (gloriously *not* extinct, even thought it’s become a sort of unnatural fusion of K-1 and K-2,) but that’s not important now.) I knew that there’s a considerable movement that believes that there still are marsupial wolves in the wilds of Tasmania, but I didn’t know about this wonderful bit of research.

Even if this line of research works it won’t tip the scales, but it’s really nice to see any sort of reversal of the increasing torrent of extinctions as humanity drives the earth into yet another extinction event.

May 19, 2008

Pretty flower picture of the day


A California Poppy curls up for a long springtime nap.

May 18, 2008

Domestic vermin, lensbaby style


Leo naps while we play Empire Builder.

Picture of the day


Commuter traffic on the ramp from Naito Pkwy to the Ross Island Bridge.

May 17, 2008

Supertrivial carpentry project of the day


One of the perennial heat and coolth eaters in our house is the attic. Particularly in the summer, because the summer sun bakes the singled roof, the heat radiates down into the attic, and then the attic acts like a honking big radiator blasting heat down into the house. And if we open the (outward swinging) casement windows, well, there are no screens, so the escaping hot air will be replaced with wasps, hornets, and the occasional pair of newlywed pigeons looking for a cozy starter home.

So the windows stayed closed and the attic stayed sweltering for 9 long summers. But this spring I bought a reprint of Earnest Flagg’s Small Houses: Their Economic Design and Construction. Mr. Flagg studied in Paris, and picked up quite a liking for French vernacular architecture. Including casement windows. But what Small Houses talks about are casement windows that open inward, and, to keep the bugs out, they have screening semi-permanently fixed to the outside of the window.

Now I’d spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to redo the attic windows so that they could be useful in the summer and in the winter, but I’d never thought of doing it that way. So this morning I walked down to the hardware store, bought a roll of fiberglass window screen and 20 feet of 1x2 pine firring, and came back and (with a slight recess when I managed to use one of my pullsaws to bark a knuckle in a manner that Bert Fegg would have been proud of) made up a prototype screen unit to see how it would look.

The big honking hooks and eyes are a paranoid response to our cats, who will no doubt be attempting to break their way through so they can tumble 25 feet to the pavement below (the actual production windows will be fastened in in a somewhat more permanent manner.) The rest of the screen is, pleasingly, almost invisible (and it would be invisible from the outside if I’d bothered to build the prototype screen out of a good hardwood instead of soft cheap pine) and will work very nicely after I pull the existing windows off and refit them so they open inwards instead of out.

Who knows, with good windows the attic might actually start to be useful, and then we can consider making it into living space (provided, of course, that the property market implodes and keeps us from a reassessment that would make the yearly property tax more than we paid for the stupid house in the first place.)

New Code!

Discount is now at version 1.2.5 with the addition of one tiny bug fix; I’d miswritten the code that handles <url> expansion and had it reparse the url as text in the text part of <a href=url>url</a>. This small patch simply writes the url out as a url both times around, so no fancy expansions or translations will spoil the broth.

This New Code! is brought to you courtesy of my friend Francois Souchay, who inadvertantly discovered the bug when commenting on a post a couple of days ago.

May 16, 2008

Railroad picture of the day

The ride home, interrupted by a slow freight

A bicylist waits for a southbound Yellow Menace train to clear the 9th & Division St. crossing.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite gazes skeptically at the remains of my Macbook, which suffered the True Death tonight when I gave it an overly enthusiastic twist in an attempt to quiet the whining of the hideous backlight.

Well, shit, that’s not particularly useful.

I suppose I can always repurpose the carcass as a server (I can still telnet into the box, so I didn’t manage to kill the cpu or disk) but I am now without a desktop machine except for this horrid windows box I’m typing at right now. But for desktop purposes, I could replace the carcass with…

  1. A Macbook Pro
    • lcd backlight, so (hopefully) no hideous backlight whining.
    • bigger hard drive.
    • US$1839
    • Leopard (the clown car of macosx)
  2. A Macbook Air
    • lcd backlight.
    • sexier than computerly possible.
    • US$1691
    • Leopard
  3. An iMac.
    • cheaper than a macbook air or a macbook pro
    • sturdier than a macbook
    • slightly bigger screen
    • Ugly ugly ugly
    • not a notebook, so it probably does not do suspend but will just sit there sucking up power unless I remember to shut it off.
    • doesn’t have an LCD backlight, so may develop the hideous whine.
    • Leopard.
  4. An external monitor for the existing Macbook
    • fairly cheap
    • don’t have to migrate things off the macbook
    • With an external monitor and keyboard, all of the lovely power-saving features of the macbook go right out the window.
    • See my previous commentary about the hideous whine.
    • fairly ugly.
    • Oh, and it would bite the wax tadpole in the portability department.
  5. Scrap the macbook (I guess I could drop a vanilla Darwin onto the box and just use the open source components of MacOS) and install the OS on this Toshiba Tecra.
    • All I need to buy is a DVD burner and some DVD blanks
    • No guarantees that it would work
    • a lot of the hardware in the Toshiba may not work correctly.
    • the Toshiba doesn’t have the same fit and feel as a macbook (a con that’s made up by the hideous whine and the mouse button not sticking, so it probably doesn’t count.)
  6. Give up on MacOS and go back to Microsoft Windows.
    • I hear that they are very very nice in the local insane asylum.
    • I’m sure that Microsoft Windows is a lovely operating system, but it’s not Unix and it would drive me insane.
  7. Use Linux! And Gnome! Or KDE!
    • No. Just no. If I wanted to use a clown-car GUI, I’d use Windows and theme the fuck out of it.

UPDATE: Oh, to devil with it, I bought a new Mac. I’ll sell the pile of laptops, windows software, and unused K-mount lenses I’ve got lying around here to pay for it.


Picture of the day


The Grover St pedestrian tunnel, seen through my Zenitar fisheye.

May 15, 2008

Waiting for the bus


The #19 and #70 bus routes cross each other at Bybee & 17th, and the northbound #70 stop is right across the street from the westbound #19 stop. There are almost always one or two college students waiting to catch the westbound #19 when I’m waiting for the #70 after lunch, and this sunny afternoon was not an exception.

Railroad picture(s) of the day



Two of three engines on the northbound Coast Starlight this afternoon; the lead twinkie and a F69phi following along for the ride.

Pretty flower picture of the day


A single poppy flower in the middle of a field of fennel.

This is a good start to a thursday

The California Supreme Court has overturned a gay marriage ban in a ruling that would make the nation’s largest state the second one to allow gay and lesbian weddings.

The justices' 4-3 decision Thursday says domestic partnerships are not a good enough substitute for marriage. Chief Justice Ron George wrote the opinion.

via The SF Chronicle

That makes two states in this godforsaken country that have redeemed themselves in the eyes of G-d.

Congratulations, California. If you don’t pass a hate amendment, I take back most of the mean things I’ve said about you.


May 14, 2008

Railroad picture of the day


A mobile love-letter passes through Brooklyn Yard.


May 13, 2008

Domestic vermin picture of the day


Leo uses the dropped-on-the-floor coat that one of my children left in the middle of the hall as a comfy place to take a little nap.

May 12, 2008

My view of the macbook


My non-traditional view of the important parts of a Macbook.

life on the river (#26)


It’s been a slow lazy day, but that doesn’t stop the Ross Island Sand & Gravel tugboat from charging up the river as fast as its stubby little propellers will go.

May 11, 2008

Not leaving well enough alone


A couple of months ago, I made the Owl Building – a two-story Romanesque pile to anchor the downtown of a hypothetical lego village. The village remains hypothetical, but the Owl Building survived the creation (and destruction) of buildings around it. But, when you compare it to actual lego buildings, it was kind of short and stubby.


So I fixed it. I built a new second story to wedge under the existing one, then extended the buttresses up to the third story and reworked the facade above the entryway to better reflect the new height of the building.


I have yet to fully populate the inside of the building. I was going to put a restaurant on the ground floor, but the bears put one on the second floor, so it would be kind of silly to have stacked restaurants. Perhaps I’ll put a Kodos for President field office into the ground floor. This would give an excuse to have spaceships parked out front, as well as a reason for the pile of dismantled storm troopers that litter the sidestreets of Our Town.

Domestic vermin picture of the day


Mavis peers out the back window at some unattainable food/plaything.

Cute(?) baby picture of the day


It’s the picture of the day, if you don’t mind “the day” being sometime in the summer of ‘62. My grandfather Turner took this slide with his camera, put it into magazine #4, and there it sat until today, when I pulled it out and scanned it (along with the other 35 images on the magazine) into my Macbook.

There are /many/ more pictures where this came from, too; my mother has dozens of slide magazines in storage, and I want to get the things scanned in so that we have a portable and easily duplicatable backup of them.

I was not the world’s most photogenic child. Thank goodness that Cute Baby syndrome is able to make a silk purse out of my squinting nearsighted face.

May 10, 2008

Cute baby picture of the day


The bears do a surgery demonstration at the stuffed-animal zoo they set up in the living room this afternoon.

May 09, 2008

It has my pictures of the day, but it’s not giving them up

Voightlander Vito BL

I took my grandfather’s Voigtländer out as my runaround camera this afternoon, and because it’s a film camera this means that any picture I managed to successfully take will be kept hidden away until I’ve finished with the roll of film and have sent the thing off to be developed.

It’s going to be interesting to see if any of the pictures turn out; the Vito BL is an all manual camera, so I have to have the diaphragm, range (and, since it’s a viewfinder, I have to either use an auxilary rangefinder or eyeball the range,) and exposure all properly set before anything actually turns out. But it’s very quiet compared to a SLR (even my teeny little Pentax 110 is louder) and it’s much lighter than my *istDS.

I have *got* to make a digital back for this camera. Perhaps I should do a startup that makes digital backs for old film cameras; not everyone would want a camera back that just takes pictures and has a review screen, but there are plenty of old film cameras out there that are still used by people who don’t feel deprived if they don’t get the huge stack of presets and features that any f the modern SLRs have got.

And, shoot, a Leica M8 costs US$5500; if I had a M6 lying around, I’d think that spending anything under US$4000 would be a pretty good price for a digital back for an existing better-than-sex™ camera.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


When a Dust Mite gets hungry, it is a terrifying sight to watch it dine.

May 08, 2008

Trolley picture of the day


Blue/Red trundles up Bond Street towards the OHSU vanity medical center in this telephoto-mashed view from a #19 bus on the Ross Island Bridge.

Picture of the day


A #43 bus pops into sight at the end of the Grover St pedestrian tunnel under SW Naito Parkway. Irridescent shininess brought to you courtesy of my old 2x Takumar-A teleconverter.

I. Must. Have. This. Set.

Sharks with lasers!

It’s a real lego kit. That contains a shark. With a laser attached to its head.

flickr photoset (by no_onions) via brickset

May 07, 2008

YAFYE picture of the day


The lead engine of a Yellow Menace freight crosses over at 9th and Division on its way north towards the Yellow Menace’s Albina yard.

Domestic vermin picture of the day


Leo, wondering why I’m not paying enough attention to him.

1 comment

27 days until recovery

I wonder how long it will take me to get over loathing programming this time around?


May 06, 2008

It’s magic!

If you’re running a modern web browser (firefox,safari,IE), you’ve got javascript turned on, and you’re a teacher in Florida, for the love of g-d do not attempt to move the mouse over the image!

Domestic vermin picture of the day

Dorrie in her basket

A couple of years ago we started using a little wicker basket as our ragbasket, and had it nice and full of soft fabric scraps. We thought that they’d be useful for sewing projects, but Tandoori Chicken had a slightly different plan, and the small stupid domestic cat always wins this sort of argument.

May 05, 2008


Mildred Loving 1939-2008

“The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness […]”

Thank you, Ms. Loving, and may you rest in peace. If there’s a afterlife, I hope you get to spend forever with your sweetie.

Cute baby picture of the day


The bears discuss drawing techniques over dinner.


The United States has been such a spectacularly efficient nexus of aggressive stupidity since the B*sh coup that I tend to forget that other allegedly first-world countries are capable of being equally stupid as this godforsaken wasteland is.

Case in point: Canada. Yes, it’s the True North Strong and Free, but it appears to also be the land where copyright is eternal unless your corpse deposits a notarized “I’m dead now, so you can drop the copyright in 5070 years, thnx!” letter into the hands of the copyright office.

Think I’m kidding? Um, no. For only CA$15/year, the copyright board of Canada will grant you the right to make jokes based on the story of the Princess and the Frog. And they’ll be keeping this money, because – gosh! – they just can’t contact the 900-odd years dead anonymous author of the story.

It’s not the same as lobbing cruise missiles into the Sudan under the hope that the house they blow up will contain someone who doesn’t like the United States, but it’s pretty impressively stupid nevertheless. I’d make a crack about how this shows how Mini-Me is making Canada respected again, but I have no doubt that the official opposition would climb all over themselves to be the first to plant their flag at the summit of Mount Stupid.

via pogge

May 04, 2008

Gathering around the table for Sunday brunch

Duck<- ->Goose<- ->Seagull<- ->Nutria

After poking around to find a place to eat lunch today, me+my parents+the bears went to a diner in the Milwaukie “marketplace” (aka mall) for a quick brunch. There’s a small decorative lake outside the restaurant; a lake that contains approximately 100 well fed allegedly-wild animals who know that if they hang around and look relentlessly cute enough they will get bread crusts from departing diners.

We didn’t disillusion them.

Keeping up with the Jones


Bottom row
Jonathan (Scarecrow) Jones, Irina Jones, Indiana Bones, Thog Jones, R2 Jones.
Top row
Marion Jones.

Now this is not a good sound for a Macbook to be making

It is a modern computer, and modern computers can sense unemployment, so I start to fret when the light bulb in the thing starts making unhappy buzzing noises the day after I walk past an Apple Store that has a Macbook air prominently displayed in the front window.

I wonder if it’s possible to configure the MacOS 10.5 gui so it looks less like GNOME and more like a Macintosh?


Three generations, camera-style


My mother gave me her father’s Voigtlander cameras this afternoon, and it’s kind of interesting (in a horrifying way) to see the evolution from a Voigtlander Vito BL (from 1958) through a Pentax Auto 110 (from 1979) to my *istDS (from 2004.)

The *istDS, which I used to think was a nice tiny camera, is really huge when it’s compared to the Auto 110, and it’s kind of hideous when compared to the big chunks of machined metal that make up the Voigtlanders.

Pity I can’t get an affordable digital back for the more modern of the two Voigtlanders (I can’t cheat and use a 4/3rds sensor like I could for the Auto 110; no, I’d have to get a full 35mm frame sensor, which would be more money than I care to think about.)

When compared to the *istDS, the Vito BL is amazingly primitive; there’s no rangefinder focus on the thing, so I need to use the shoe-mounted external focus to find the range, manually key that range into the lens, then hand-calculate the appropriate f stop and exposure before firing the camera. I remember my grandfather using this camera almost every Christmas when we were dismantling the presents, and I’m *amazed* at just how much manual work he must have needed to do on the run to keep the pictures from containing anything other than blurry humanoid streaks.

(and, speaking of blurry streaks, the blurriness in this photo is because I was using a little Kodak point and shoot which /ran out of battery/ when I was taking the picture. And now the poor Kodak is lying there, lens half retracted, waiting for the battery to get enough of a charge to be able to finish collapsing the lens.)

1 comment

May 03, 2008

An unexpected benefit of having my children staying over at their grandparents

I can play our Mekons and Two Nice Girls albums very loudly, dance around the house, and not end up being the butt of jokes about dorky parents attempting to be cool for the rest of my natural life.

As it is, I have a reprieve until they figure out how to use search engines and are able to find my postings to (ahem) certain usenet newsgroups in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Cute baby picture of the day


Silas in mid-conversation with my brother Stephen.

1 comment

May 02, 2008

It is indeed convenient that I am thundering towards recovery

… because, at the very least, my big pile of bookmarks on the right (at least on the right while I write this. CSS is very bad in that it lets me move content around with only a little bit of headbanging, as opposed to the traditional method of going into every single page and tweaking the format by hand) has reached such a state of disarray that I’m going to have to sit down and write a mass of javascript so I can set up a point and drool-style AJAX bookmark organizer. There’s no way I’d have the energy to do that if I’m spending 8 hours a day beating my head against the nonstop fuckwittery that makes up a modern Linux distribution.

The “starvation” and “dying of trivially curable diseases that I can’t affort to pay for treatment of” items are BAD, but if I can get at least six months of good creative work wedged around baby-herding, well, that certainly sounds like a fair trade to me.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite has discovered the copier.

Omelette making, digicam style


We used to have a couple of Canon point-and-shoot cameras, but they died mysteriously and forced me to go out and buy a Pentax to replace them. But, since we’d spent over US$500 for the two of them (not, of course, that I’m bitter; the *istDS has lasted 4 years now, which is thrice the lifespan of the A70 and almost that much more than the A60) we couldn’t bring ourselves to throw them out or otherwise mangle them.

Until today, when I finally found a reason to gut out a camera and see whether it would be feasable to use a point-and-shoot camera as the basis for a digital camera back for an Auto 110. It’s probably not possible to do it with the A70 (but I *did* find out why it had just stopped working; the power zoom in the camera was driven by plastic gearing, and the crown gear on the lens barrel had lost several teeth and thus its will to live) but that’s more an issue of the 3/8th inch (diagonal) sensor in the camera (and the resulting 2x crop factor on an already highly cropped film) than the size of the parts.

The really funny thing about dismantling the A70 is the processor board, which is an 80186-clone, running some sort of DOS. I wonder if I could find one of the old versions of Interactive Unix and load it on this system; it would be a shame to not fully use a super-tiny PC as a Unix machine.

Riddle me this

If I want to buy a digital camera with, say, 2500x2000 resolution, I can trot over to a camera store and pick up a point-and-drool for about US$200. But if I want to buy the image sensor from a camera like this, it would cost me (ahem) somewhat more than US$200.

I’ve got a little film slr sitting on my desk glaring at me because it wants to become the worlds smallest dslr, but I’m not at all pleased with the idea of spending several thousand dollars buying discrete components (particularly since as of 13-June-2008 I will be unemployed and, I hope, out of the computer programming business for good) while those same components are packed into a US$200 camera, laughing mockingly at me.

I wonder what it would take to reprogram a point and drool Nikon to act like a manual-focus bulb camera? If I shredded a cheap point and shoot and made a hunchback of Notre Dame (de Paris)-style digital camera back, it would be a much cheaper route to the nirvana of having a dslr so small I could lose it in my pocket.

May 01, 2008

The dubious benefit of a full-time job

the extent of my life over the past few weeks

If it wasn’t for the occasional trip down to Milwaukie to visit my parents and/or look at the Eng!s in the Portland Traction yard my life would be constrained to within about 8 blocks of the nice blue line shown on this map.

I have *got* to start getting out more. Perhaps I’ll even make the supreme sacrifice and get a drivers license and a(n electric) car.

Political public service announcement!

A few weeks back, I said that I wasn’t planning on voting for either of the center-right Democratic candidates for the presidency. This wasn’t hyperbole – the unrelenting sexism from one side and some of the more unhinged people on the other side is part of it, but I’m *sick and tired* of voting for center-right candidates under the hope that the bastards (and I mean this in a strictly gender-neutral manner) won’t turn around and stab me in the back as soon as they get into power.

  • The Democratic caucus could have stopped Alito.
  • The Democratic caucus could have stopped Roberts.
  • The Democratic caucus could have put monkeywrenches into Maximum Leader Genius’s atrocity exhibition and money laundering campaign in Iraq.
  • The Democratic caucus could have done a filibuster or two.
  • The Democratic caucus could have forced the Republican caucus to actually do a filibuster or two instead of folding like a paper plate.

They didn’t.

And I should vote for one of the members of the Senate caucus that let this shit happen?

*No, I don’t think so*

If the Democrats are capable of fixing this train wreck, they need to prove that they will do it BEFORE I will begin to care about helping them. I don’t like to be treated as a fool, and it seems that every time I vote for a Democrat I am treated as a fool.

Start fixing the country, Democrats, and my wallet will pop open like a jack in the box. But start without me; I’ll catch up if you mean it.

This rant brought to you courtesy of Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo, the Huffington Post, Open Left, the anti-islamic bigot commenters who drove me away from Reclusive Leftist, and all of the weblogs that have enbraced the Scaife-style “The KKKKKKkkklintons are EVIL” meme. Thanks, everyone, for making this election season a complete living hell!

New weblog feature!

When I redid the css for tsfr, I didn’t actually check all the world’s browsers against it. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that nothing but firefox rendered it properly (and, of course, Internet Explorer rendered it worst of all.)

So I’ve “fixed” it. the formatting is still a little bit wonky with IE, but at least the people who use IE can now tell that multiple sidebars exist.


Railroad picture of the day


Another day and another Cascades; this one is at the north throat of Brooklyn Yard while I waited for a much-delayed #70 bus.