Archive for July, 2008

Raisin

I wrote a short story almost 15 years ago that I’ve never submitted anywhere, and that I haven’t even really thought that much about since committing my braindead scribblings to paper so long ago.

Today I found a short introduction I wrote for it a while ago, apparently thinking a particular magazine would pick it up, and it makes me want to pull out the original and rework it into something I can sell for $20. At least I could say I’d been published then.

God is God. As such, He requires nothing of the usual middle-management or bureaucratic nonsense, and prefers the roll-up-your-sleeves-and-knuckle-on-up variety of interaction over the human delegation style currently favored by the trendiest of the false gods, earth spirits and pet rocks. Because this is true—as it must be since I, your omniscient narrator, have never been asked to advise the Almighty—the story that follows must then be patently false. The more clever of this magazine’s readership will recognize the lack of value afforded such a work, and will discontinue consumption immediately. For those intrepid few low-brows who remain, however, what follows is a none-too-good example of what might have happened had God, tiring of the whimperings and supplicant fartings of the angelic host, turned ownership of a few minor details of the universe over to the wisdom of various panels, focus groups and bureaucratic committees. In this poor illustration, we consider life.

Raisin is a very special girl who figured out how to cheat the system and endow herself with various superhuman abilities before her birth. She gets these abilities, but a series of horrible miscalculations on her part whilst pursuing perfection makes life… well… not what she expected. I won’t give away the biggest plot twist, even though it’s revealed in the first paragraph, but I assure you it’s a doozie. And sort of stupid.

Maybe I’ll work on this soon. I think it’d be a quick and easy one to knock out, and it’d give me a much-needed sense of accomplishment after my mounting feelings of inadequacy over the past several months. I’ll let you know how that goes. :)

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Smooth / Not Smooth

  1. I lost my TiVo remote this morning. Not smooth. Ifound it wrapped up in the bedsheets I threw into the laundry earlier. Good thing it didn’t get washed, because whatever would I have done then?
  2. The transition to GMail is done. Smooth. Apple cider diarrhea smooth. There were some issues with it not correctly filing some of my sent mail, but overall I’m very pleased. Now if Google would add a “download as archive/mbox/whatever” option, I wouldn’t be so paranoid about leaving all my junk dangling out there. Maybe it’s time to download more than just headers…

Update: See the first comment on this post for a method of backing up Google mail. That definitely looks like something worth setting up. Also, I was able to move around all my mis-filed sent mail with Thunderbird. Thank gootness GMail exposes their special folders (archive, spam, sent) through IMAP – that’s mui handy. Also, each label shows up as its own virtual IMAP folder, with multi-tagged messages properly duplicated across folders. That’s two extra thumbs up from me. :cool:

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Wordless

I haven’t worked on my crappy sci-fi novel in months, not one crappy bit, and I’m kind of depressed about that. I’ve got more important worries right now, of course, which is fine for the time being, but the person I am and the person I tell people I am are diverging by the day. Am I a writer, or am I not?

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Changing the circumference of my webisphere

My hobby sites make me sad. They’re a lot of fun and give me a good place to dig around in my PHP and Ruby sandboxes, but they’re a tremendous amount of effort to maintain. They were well worth it to me 14 years ago, when not many people in my little set of concentric circles had the hutzpa to register, set up and administer their own domains. Network Solutions charged about $75 per year then, too, and that was just for the registry. The hosting fees and all the other constant nibbles at my wallet kept me motivitated to stay active with it and do good enough stuff to justify all the various expenses and aggravations involved.

These days things are a ton cheaper. I moved to PairLite last December, and that costs about half of what I was paying each month for my regular Pair account. Plus, since I made the switch not long after they began the new service, I was able to take advantage of the two-for-one offer they had at the time and wound up getting two years of service for $99. Plus, domain registrations at PairNIC are only $16 or $17 per year, and they often have $10 specials for long-term pricing. I bought a 4 year renewal on two of my domains not too long ago for that price. I know there are cut-rate places like GoDaddy that always have the cheaper rates, but saving a couple of dollars isn’t worth what I’d be giving up with PairNIC (yes, I’m quite pleased with Pair and all their offerings… how could you tell?). Anyway, there are so many crappy little cheap hosting providers around now that, coupled with the current bottom-drawer domain pricing and the trend toward effortless (but crummy) website-in-a-box templates that providers supply, there’s really no reason why a person of mediocre intelligence and disposable income couldn’t have his own site, complete with vanity email address. And from some of the stuff out there, it’s apparent that the intelligence level need not even rank as high as mediocre.

Anymore it seems harder and harder to justify the effort of keeping all my webtoys active. The cost isn’t a big factor anymore, like I said, but I currently have neither the time or patience to develop and maintain all the tools and sites and whatnot that have been occupying the bulk of my mental wishlist for many years now. And right now, with my little son demanding as much attention as he does, even having to maintain the simple stuff keeps me peeved most of the time.

I’m working on some things right now that should help reduce some frustrations, and also give me a sense of accomplishment. Big Carter probably thinks there should be ten of them so it’d be a proper list, but unfortunately there are only two. I should probably make the numbers really big so the list will appear longer, but I think I’ll just handle it the way I do everything else: talk about it for a while and not actually do it.

  1. Move all mail handling for thetucker.com from PairLite to GMail.
    Mail storage is eating up two-thirds of my disk quota at PairLite, plus I’m just about sick to pieces of struggling with spam. Switching to GMail will help tremendously on both counts, plus our email addresses won’t have to change.
  2. Use this guy’s thing to merge the file structures of the four WordPress blogs I maintain.
    I almost deleted the word “maintain” there, because what I mostly do is stress about how out-of-date most of them are all the time. With the low traffic they all have, in terms of viewers and active posting, it never really seems worth my time to meddle with them.

And, hey, if these things don’t work out, they’ll probably at least give me something good to bitch about here.

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Whipping Vista, sorta…

Vista is crap. Let me just lead with that. I got all excited about the possibility of downgrading to XP, but my hopes were dashed like so many Hobbits on the rocks after reading that Home Premium wasn’t one of the versions included in the offer.

So I’ll have to move my expensive-as-crap XP Pro license from my desktop to my laptop, and I guess just be happy with a KDE desktop downstairs or something. I don’t delude myself that I’ll have time to do that anytime soon, though, so in the meantime I’ll have to be stuck with Microsoft’s most miserable excuse for an OS yet.

Today I learned something new about the crappy thing, though, that brings it a bug’s hair closer to the pathetic/miserable threshold (it still has miles to go before I’ll consider it good enough to be a pathetic OS): how to permanently unblock an application Vista won’t stop bitching about, no matter how many times you uncheck the “always annoy me about this” checkbox or click the “freaking unblock this application” button. It’s a simple fix, really, but to a problem that (in Microsoft’s typical fashion) is remarkably stupid.

http://www.robertwoodward.com/index.php/5.html

This example is a discussion of unblocking the excellent PuTTY SSH/Telnet client, but it should work in most similar situations.

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Optimal LAMEEnc compression settings?

I use CDEx to rip all my audio CDs, and up until now have been using 192Kbit CBR to encode everything via LAME. Of course, all my idiot friends (hi, idiot friends!!) have always made fun of me for using such an “overkill” bitrate. They tell me 128K is plenty, but they must be deaf or summin’, cause those extra 64 Ks make a huge difference to my poorly trained ear.

So I’ve always just ignored them (as I tend to do ’bout most things) and continued to rip at 192/CBR.

But then today I stumbled across an elderly but very interesting blawg posting about one guy’s thoroughly unscientific experimentation with various encode parameters with CDEx/LAMEEnc. He now uses VBR from 192K to 320K because, although he admits it results in even bigger’n’fatter output than CBR at the lower extent of that range, he thinks it’s much closer to the original source. That source, incidentally, is some old Breeders stuff I wish I owned. I used to have a big crush on Kim Deal, even though I thought she was sort of ugly. Weird, eh?

The guy went on to talk about his sensitivity to higher registers, and how that affected his final decision. That’s always been one of my problems, too, even though I suspect I’m starting to develop midrange deafness. I can still always tell when a CRT TV is on, though, because I can hear it whine. I’ll definitely have to play with these settings a little and see if they make a difference to me.

http://weblogs.asp.net/erobillard/archive/2005/03/27/396015.aspx

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Devil Muzaak

Little Carter, my little son who just turned two months old, already has a favorite CD. The group is Dogwood, and we’ve been listening to Down the Road over and over and over and over and… well… it calms him down but good, and is a really excellent album to boot. I listened to some old Black Sabbath stuff earlier today, but now I feel all clean again after coming home and listening to some good old accoustic gospel with the boy.

Incidentally, I know I asked for some used Ozzy Osbourne stuff for my birthday, but I feel like I should add restrictions to that request: no Black Sabbath, please. I’m done with it, and have no more need. I guess what I’m looking for is happy 80’s Ozzy. Back when he was singing about fluffy bunnies and not actually consuming them on-stage and whatnot.

Right?

Right.

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