Friday, June 30, 14:33 CDT
Well, that was simple enough to fix. I had diald, a demand dialing package, installed. Apparently what it does is act as a pseudo-network connection until something tries to send data over the network, when it dials in and grabs a PPP connection. So if you started Netscape and tried to load this page, it'd automatically dial in and send your request. Actually seems pretty useful, but it was conflicting weirdly with my current setup, and uninstalling it seemed easier than messing around with it.

I've been playing a little with the GIMP lately... I'm rediscovering that the mouse doesn't make a very good drawing tool. Or possibly I just suck at using it.

There's a bunch of pen and ink stuff I'd like to put on my non art page, but I don't have access to a scanner. Sure, they're probably not that expensive at the moment, but for some reason I'm broke. Probably has something to do with being a jobless slacker.
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Friday, June 30, 1:13 CDT
Ok, so I was wrong. Looks like I'll be flying in to Washington (well, BWI) on Friday the 7th, and coming home the following Monday. Cool. :)

My dialup connection has gotten flaky (flakier than usual). I suppose this means things are now set up differently than they were before, and I should start messing around with config files. Think I'm just going to be lazy and put up with it for tonight.

Ahh, a pointless random poll.

Thursday, June 29, 11:08 CDT (posted later)
I'm nearly finished downloading 120 megs or so of Debian packages from the unstable tree... Installing this stuff should be fun.

And here we go... Package configuration. Maybe if I knew something, I wouldn't blindly go with the default choices on all of these. OTOH, I guess it hasn't caused any major problems yet.

Is there anything that makes it necessary for me to have newer versions of all this software? Of course not. But I feel compelled to get it anyway...

Wednesday, June 28, 16:18 CDT
Well, I posted what I wrote Sunday (see below) before spending hours talking to Brent/Gurney and Eric/Saalon, and really getting all nice and sleep deprived. We talked seriously about getting together on the 7th, but it looks like that's not going to happen. One of these days, though...

I finished reading Litany of the Long Sun, but I kind of hesitate to say much about it since I get the feeling there's a lot I'm missing, not having read Book of the New Sun. Then again, it could just be because both books that make up this volume are intentionally utterly confusing. They're good enough, at any rate, that I think I'm going to track down Book of the New Sun, and start there. Then come back and read the last two in this series. Assuming they're not out of print and impossible to find.

I'm pretty sure there's something I should be doing, other than sitting here. Guess I'll go try to figure out what that might be.

Sunday, June 25 (posted later)
Must. Have. Sleep.

Oh well, maybe I can get this written before crashing. I did say I'd update yesterday. There was all sorts of stuff I was going to write about too, but most of it's sort of slipped away.

I went to Minneapolis Thursday afternoon with my dad (it's a 6 hour drive, and I didn't really have anything better to do than help drive it). Wandered around the Mall of America for an hour that night. (Build it the size of a small town, name the parking garages after states, put an amusement park in the middle of it, and you've got... A bigass mall. What the success of this thing says about American culture I prefer not to dwell on.) Came home Friday afternoon after sitting around an office reading a novel all morning while my dad was in a meeting.

Along with that novel (a copy of The Litany of the Long Sun, by Gene Wolfe), I got the latest issue of PC Gamer, which I haven't read in ages. I was pleasantly surprised. The ad count seems to have gone down to something tolerable, and it's still a decent mag. The really impressive thing, though, was the cover disc - they managed to get permission to distribute a dozen old but undeniably classic games. Stuff like the original X-COM, Wing Commander tweaked to run at normal speed and sound better, and Ultima Underworld.

I've been playing Ultima Underworld, one of those classics I missed the first time around. I'm impressed. This is a game that featured a 3D world with slopes, stairs, swimming, jumping, dynamic lighting, and a mouse based interface that actually doesn't suck, all of it integrated with the standard trappings of an RPG. In 1992.

There was a big (well, big is a relative term) celebration in Laurel over the weekend for the school's hundredth something or another (100th graduating class, I think, which would've been us - what I can't figure out is did they graduate a class the first year there was a school here? And does anyone actually care? Right, that's what I thought).

There were a bunch of alumni in town, the usual small town celebration kind of thing. Complete with a parade consisting of old cars and tractors, and all that crap. They dedicated the new football field / track, which I have to admit is pretty nice. There were fireworks afterwards, which were actually remarkably good, probably the best I've seen short of the time I was in Washington on the 4th. Then there was a dance, which was remarkably bad. The kind of thing where you have a mediocre band who're wasting what little talent they might have playing bad early 80's pop, and some distance away you have large clusters of people standing around with beer and talking about how much the dance sucks...

Which just about brings things up to the present.
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Thursday, June 22, 11:13 CDT

Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed be doing at that moment. - Robert Benchley

Ok, real update tomorrow or Saturday. Meanwhile, have a big list of links culled from recent additions to my bookmarks:

Oh yeah, and Points of View is coming along nicely. Still some minor bugs to work out, but there's some actual content there now.

Thursday, June 8, 11:46 CDT
It's hot. Hot and windy. Thermometer hit 97° (F) yesterday, 100° today... Summer has arrived.

I just watched one of my sister's 4H lambs jump several feet straight upwards, into the ceiling of the shelter it was standing under. Loud *clonk*, lamb drops like rock. Sheep can be amusing.

Need to find a word definition? Or are you just one of those weird people who occasionally enjoys paging through dictionaries? Either way, dict is cool. Oh yeah, and so is A.Word.A.Day.

The ongoing search for a really good web browser: Konqueror, the KDE project's file manager/browser looks promising.

The obligatory Microsoft commentary: The more analytical side of me says that there is some real possibility that an MS breakup is, in the grand scheme of things, not the best possible outcome for the world. Maybe this sets a bad precedent, and it's probably wise to consider that MS is far from the only "evil corporate empire" in the world... Who really stands to benefit most from this? The average computer user, or, say, the minions of darkness at AOL/Time Warner? What, in the long run, is really going to change about the software most people are running? And in the end, what good can come out of something involving so many lawyers? I don't claim to be terribly clueful here, but there are some nagging little doubts...

The rest of me is saying something along the lines of "MUAHAHAHA! VENGEANCE AT LAST! YOU'RE GOING DOWN IN FLAMES, YOU ARROGANT BASTARDS!"

You may get the impression that I feel no great love for Microsoft. While I am not a foaming-at-the-mouth MS basher, this would be correct. Sure, I'll freely acknowledge that MS played a huge role in creating the world of personal computing as it is today, good as well as bad. And sure, if it weren't for MS or someone like them, the conditions that gave birth to Linux and a host of other cool things would probably never have arisen. But you can only take so much frustration, so much dealing with mediocre, just-good-enough software, so much arrogant BS, before you begin to develop a little resentment.

On the balance, this should at least make things a little more interesting for the next couple of years.

Tuesday, June 6, 23:47 CDT
Do Islamic lepidoptera worship in mothques?

Monday, June 5, 21:43 CDT
Well, I just got done registering for classes at Wayne State College. Much excitement. (Just sort of coasted into going to Wayne for lack of any real decision about what I was going to do.)

The site is kind of rough, there's a definite shortage of content for the time being, and the URL is too long, but check out Points of View. I suppose it counts as shameless self promotion since I'm involved, but I'll say it anyway: This has the potential to be cool.

Ok, so maybe there're already way too many opinionated review sites out there. But we're different. No, really. We don't suck. Honest.

You might notice that POV's layout is reminiscent of mozilla.org's, for the pretty good reason that that's where we stole it. Ok, so maybe it's not *that* similar, but it's got little tables with heavy black borders. ;)

I finally got around to trying a recent build of Mozilla, both on Windows and Linux. I have to say it looks pretty spiffy, and it seems pretty cool as browsers go, but... Well, on a Pentium 75, it runs like a crippled turtle wading through molasses. This is not especially surprising. This is, after all, a 5 year old machine that wasn't exactly top-of-the-line when new. On the other hand, it's still kind of disappointing.

Ok, I realize Mozilla isn't "just" a browser. It's a whole bunch of stuff. I've seen it compared to the Java virtual machine, discussed as a way to build cross-platform applications. And I realize that the demands on a browser these days are pretty heavy. And yet...

Why is it that something like Opera can do almost anything that I want a browser for, on this machine, and we don't have a Free Software equivalent? Why is it that all of the really cool features that I want to see in a browser are just a pipe dream, while people spend massive effort on new ways to make text look flashy?

I'm not knocking Mozilla. Give it a little more time, it looks like we'll have a cool, open, multiplatform alternative to IE, with all sorts of capabilities. That's great.

But what I'd really like, right now, is just a web browser. Something more like a graphical Lynx than a new and improved version of the Big Two web browsers. Something small and fast that does the job of displaying web pages, and does it well. Without worrying about all the extra crap, or trying to compete to have the most bells and whistles.

Time to go hunting software.

Thursday, June 1, 0:29 CDT
Well, I sort of have an excuse for not updating lately (aside from nothing happening). Most of the time I've spent on the computer has been writing other stuff, some of which I should be able to link to fairly soon.

I picked up a copy of Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, the other day, along with a copy of Linux Journal. LJ turned out to be a pretty cool mag.

Good Omens was excellent. It's the kind of book that gets a lot of comparisons to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and actually deserves them just in terms of sheer weird Brit flavored laugh value. It's about the apocalypse, main characters including an angel/bookseller, a demon, the Antichrist, a psychic witch, and a couple of witchfinders... Actually, it's not really quite the same sort of book as the Guide, and in some ways I think it's a better one. Both Pratchett and Gaiman are definitely on the list of People I Wish I Could Write Like.

Stephen picked up a domain name. Cool.

I've been trying to think of a good name, domains being reasonably priced these days. The obvious choices appear to have been taken. Something short and distinctive would be nice... Any suggestions?