About Me, Mac OS X, News and Reaction, Sundry, Technical, Technology

Goodbye, Bill Gates!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/01/08/bill-gates-last-day/

I was startled by this YouTube video, where we discover that Bill Gates can make fun of himself. Or, at least, his people can assemble a video where Bill Gates makes fun of himself. Good for Bill! I was then reassured at the consistency of the universe, when it was revealed that Bill really can’t make fun of himself without at least a dozen star cameos to reassure us that it is not so much that he is poking fun at himself, but that he is “acting”.

It is telling that Al Gore has the funniest line.

I hope Bill’s foundation does much good in the world. I almost feel sorry for Microsoft that after all the effort, Vista has proven to be a cold turkey. For what its worth, from a UI and performance perspective, I prefer Windows XP to Mac OS X. Though I’m not sure that this is praise for Microsoft as much as it is an aversion to the Smug Cult of Apple.

(Yes, I am a contrarian. People hate contrarians. Especially Mac people, who think they have the contrarian cred: the last thing a contrarian wants to encounter is a contradicting contrarian!)

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News and Reaction, Politics

New Hampshire Numbers

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/01/09/nh-primary-results/

I have been Googling for numbers from New Hampshire. I favor Obama, and I’m curious what the GOP is up to. I finally found actual numbers, for the Democrats and and the Hephalumps:

With 96% of precincts reporting, Clinton beat Obama, 39%-36% — followed by Edwards at 17%, Richardson at 5%, and Kucinich at 1%.

With 96% of precincts reporting, McCain got 37% of the vote, Romney 32%, Huckabee 11%, Giuliani 9%, and Paul 8%.

So, my man Obama, arguably the underdog, is still giving Clinton a run for her money. And even if he doesn’t make it, I am content to vote for Clinton.

(I’d just like, after two decades, to put the Clinton-Bush dynasty behind us.)

And, I admire John McCain. If there’s going to be a Republican in the White House . . . my Googling turned up this gem from Tom DeLay:

“There’s nothing redeeming about John McCain.”

As I recall, Tom DeLay is a massive sleazeball. If a massive sleazeball finds nothing redeeming in you, that means that either you are a more massive sleazeball, or, perhaps a decent human being.

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About Me, Politics


Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/01/10/ron-paul-is-a-choad/

Some months back, I was visited by a well-meaning relative, who cheerfully informed me that “Ron Paul is the only candidate who wants to abolish the IRS!” I gritted my teeth, and declined to take the bait. Arguing with Libertarians is kind of like bragging about that awesome dump you took: it is just way too easy and you really aren’t going to impress anybody. That, and it is impolite to shit all over family.

I got some positive feedback, though, for my brief contribution to a “Ron Paul” thread:

Libertarians are no different from anyone else who figures the government ought to address only their needs, and neglect all others. The generic term for this is “asshole.”

Just like Religious people who want their point-of-view enforced to the exclusion of others. “Gays can’t marry! That violates my beliefs!” Or, for that matter, uhhh, Liberals, who are somehow oppressing people in ways I can not presently fathom.


About Me, FreeBSD, Linux, Mac OS X, Technical

SysAdmin OpEd: Where to Keep the Crons

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/01/11/etc-crontab-or-die/

This is just a note which I contributed to a thread on sage-members, to get something off my chest, as to where people should maintain their crontab entries. I sincerely doubt that reading what I have to say will bring you any great illumination.

I’d say, any reasonable SysAdmin should default to /etc/crontab because every other reasonable SysAdmin already knows where it is. If anything is used in addition to /etc/crontab, leave a note in /etc/crontab advising the new guy who just got paged at 3:45am where else to look for crons.

For production systems, I strongly object to the use of per-user crontabs. I’m glad to hear I’m not alone. One thing I have to do in a new environment tends to be to write a script that will sniff out all the cron entries.

And then there was the shop that used /etc/crontab, user crons, and fcron to keep crons from running over each other. This frustrated me enough that I did a poor job of explaining that job concurrency could easily be ensured by executing a command through (something like) the lockf utility, instead of adding a new layer of system complexity.

Yes, I am a cranky old SysAdmin.


Technical, Technology

NAQ: Tellme Application Advice

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/01/17/tellme-get-hired/

So, in the unlikely event that you are reading this, and trying to score a job at Tellme, I stumbled upon a little tip while trying to debug something else: check out their HTTP headers, particularly the X-Great-Jobs: header.

I got hired there back when it was in stealth mode, and they left a “secret” message as an HTML comment on the front page of the web site. It is nice to see an old tradition is still around. It is also weird to see that their present “cover image” is an intersection on the same street my grammar school was on, back in Chicago.

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TIP: Vim can add and subtract!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/01/23/vim-increment-decrement-integers/

I have been using Vim for years, and have any number of times (say, when dealing with DNS configuration) had to edit many lines, changing integers by a constant value, and it was always a hassle to repeatedly switch modes and type in a new number. “There must be some macro or other special mojo,” I thought, “and sometime, I will figure this out.”

Well, there is special mojo, and the figuring it out is so dead simple I kick myself for not knowing this years ago:

Vim Tip 287: Cool trick to change numbers

Yes, I rated that tip as “life changing”!

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About Me, Excerpts, Featured, Good Reads, News and Reaction, Sundry, Technology

$20,000 “Siphon Coffee”

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/01/24/20000-siphon-coffee/

From the New York Times:

“If you just want equipment you’re not ready,” Mr. Egami said in an interview. But, he added, James Freeman, the owner of the cafe, is different: “He’s invested time. He’s invested interest. He is ready.”

It looks a bit overly-involved to me, but whatever floats your boat.

“Siphon coffee is very delicate,” [James Freeman] said. “It’s sweeter and juicier, and the flavors change as the temperature changes. Sometimes it has a texture so light it’s almost moussey.”

I have long preferred brewed coffee to espresso. That is a combination of my proletarian roots and my experience as a barista: I have a strong sense of what I want from a dry cappuccino or dry cafe-au-lait, but this sense is not easily found in a cafe, and I lack the technology to do it myself, so let us keep it simple, right?

(In Japan, siphon coffee masters carve their own paddles to fit the shape of their palms.)

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Featured, News and Reaction, Technical, Testimonials

NotchUp? Not so much . . .

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/01/26/notchup-launch-interview/

I just got an invitation to join NotchUp. Wary of the latest craze in data mining masked as social networking I did a quick Google search. TechCrunch had the best summary.

We’re basically looking at LinkedIn (they even import your LinkedIn profile) except that you can set a price at which you would be willing to interview with a prospective employer. The idea being, maybe you are happy where you are but you’d be happy to talk about being somewhere else, though your time is valuable. (Employers, of course, already know that recruiting is an expensive undertaking . . . it is not hard to see them pony up . . .)


Apparently this is from “Peerflix refugees” so I’d peg it as “an interesting innovation that rips off an existing proven idea that is probably ahead of their ability to execute.”

I accepted the invite, to check it out but mainly so I could invite a friend who is job hunting. I figured if Powerset and Yahoo giving it a go . . .

First Impressions:

Actually, now I feel dirty. I’m changing my LinkedIn password . . .


Featured, Free Style, FreeBSD, Linux, Mac OS X, Sundry, Technical, Technology

Trendspotting: “The Amiga Line”

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/01/26/deader-than-amiga/

I have been playing with Google Trends, which will be happy to generate a pretty graph of keyword frequency over time. A rough gauge to the relative popularity of various things. This evening, I was riffing off a post from the Royal Pingdom, regarding the relative popularity of Ubuntu and Vista, among other things.

I got started graphing various Linux distributions against each other, XP versus Vista, and trying to figure out the best keyword for OS X. Then, I wondered about FreeBSD. Against Ubuntu, it was a flatline. So, I asked myself: what is the threshold for a dead or dying Operating System?

Amiga vs FreeBSD:
Google Trends: Amiga versus FreeBSD

Ouch! Can we get deader?

Amiga vs FreeBSD vs BeOS:
Google Trends: Amiga versus FreeBSD versus BeOS

To be fair, the cult of Amiga is still strong . . . BeOS is well and truly dead. But how do the BSDs fare?

Amiga vs FreeBSD vs BeOS vs NetBSD vs OpenBSD:
Google Trends: *BSD versus Amiga, BeOS

NetBSD has been sleeping with the BeOS fishes for a while, and OpenBSD is on its way. And that’s a league below Amiga!

In Red Hat land, only Fedora beats “the Amiga Line”. For Unix in general, nothing stops the Ubuntu juggernaut. But there’s a long way to go to catch up with Uncle Bill.

(Yes, it is a rainy night and the girlfriend is out of town.)

Postscript: Ubuntu versus Obama


About Me, Featured, Politics, Sundry, Testimonials

XKCD Guy Endorses Barack Obama

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/01/30/xkcd-guy-endorses-barack-obama/

I have been less the NPR / Politics junkie than I have in the past. And in the February 5 primary, it doesn’t take much thought for a Democrat from Chicago to prefer Barack Obama. I have already had the privilege of voting for him twice to get him in to the Senate. I just really like the guy: he is eloquent and he seems like and honest, good-hearted, hard-working guy who can pull things off.

But I don’t know much for him on the substance, so I have kept kind of quiet on the matter.

But, well, the XKCD guy, who is really bright, endorses Obama. He gives as good an explanation as any:

I want, for once, someone I can vote for not because I dislike the other candidate, but because I’m proud of mine. Obama is the real thing.

Obama has shown a real commitment to open government. When putting together tech policy (to take an example close to home for xkcd) others might have gone to industry lobbyists. Obama went to Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons (under which xkcd is published) and longtime white knight in the struggle with a broken system over internet and copyright policy. Lessig was impressed by Obama’s commitment to open systems — for example, his support of machine-readable government information standards that allow citizens’ groups to monitor what our government is up to. Right now, the only group that can effectively police the government is the government itself, and as a result, it’s corrupt to the core. Through these excellent and long-overdue measures, Obama is working to fight this corruption.

Obama stands against bad governing not only in his support of specific practices like open data standards and basic network neutrality, but in his work against corruption from day one. He’s sponsored legislation to restrict gifts to Congress by industry representatives (which also carried a whole slew of anti-corruption measures that were a breath of fresh air). He’s fought against vote fraud. He’s been pushing for election and lobbying reform from the start, and in his campaign he’s refused to take lobbyist money.


The Democratic party has a long, painful history of nominating unlikable, uncharismatic ‘default’ establishment candidates who are eventually swatted aside by the voters. Nominating Clinton would be continuing that tradition at the very time when we have a chance to do so much better. Let’s not let that chance slip by.

I like Hillary Clinton, as well. Don’t know much about her, but the thing is we have had “Clinton” or “Bush” in the White House for two decades now, and it is time to do something different. I liked the Clinton years, but they could have been . . . more inspired.

I can’t say that the system won’t grind Barack down in his first year in office, but you gotta dream, right? And Barack Obama is the candidate who inspires me most.

Update: Lessig has a compelling 20-minute video as to why he supports Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton.

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News and Reaction, Sundry, Technical, Technology, Testimonials

Why I Hope Yahoo! Says No

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/02/01/please-stay-yahoo/

Much buzz about Microsoft’s offer to buy Yahoo!

I am a big fan of Google and their myriad products, but sometimes they get on my nerves. I like having Yahoo! as an alternative. I love Flickr. I would hate to see Yahoo! swallowed up my Microsoft, leaving the biggest players on the Internet being a choice between the Google and the Microsoft.

I prefer an online world that isn’t simply black and white, but which also has a weird shade of purple to it.

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Sundry, Technical, Testimonials

“Focus Follows Mouse!!”

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/02/12/geek/

Walking down the hall at work, I hear an engineer lament.

“Click to focus? Arr!!”

And of course, I shout:

“Focus follows mouse!!”

I hear, beyond cubicle walls, a chorus of agreement.

Back at my desk, which I have recently switched from XP to Ubuntu, I note that I’m clicking to focus. Fortunately, I spent the morning tweaking mutt, which I started using again, after many years, because it deletes e-mail faster than Thunderbird does.

I like this place.

I hear muffled discussions of multiple desktops. I think I’ll figure out how to FocusFollowsMouse in this Gnome stuff real quick before I return my attention to work-work.

ObSolution: In Ubuntu / Gnome, go to System > Preferences > Windows and enable “Select windows when the mouse moves over them”

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Alien Lady

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/02/28/alien-lady/

Alien Lady

I just scanned a series of 23 sketches that I made while traveling in 2002. Some I really like, others are just somewhat interesting. I am thinking to present these, one per week, on Thursdays. For lack of imagination, I’ll take it in alphabetical order.

This one I call “Alien Lady” and it was probably sketched in Hat Yai, Thailand. There was a gal around who had a neat forehead decoration.

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Oh! February 29!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/02/29/leap-day-duh/

I see that I sent in the rent check a day early.

Like the American electorate, my trusty little watch is wrong every fourth year.

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Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/03/06/amman/


In 2002, I spent five days in Jordan between Europe and Thailand. I was there during Ramadan, which made the experience more alien. I had spent two months in Europe but this was the first time I could not read the alphabet.

Amman is a city built on several hills. A lot of the housing is small, concrete, and beige. This is the sort of drawing I’d make as a kid, and here you see small buildings climbing up the hills, traffic, bazaars, and shops.

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