My Infrequently Updated Blog. The web-based journal of M. Forde, computer nerd, endurance athlete, and DeLorean owner


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    26 Dec 2008

    An Awesome Christmas Present
    I waited until to today to verify that it wasn't just a random occurrence. I checked again this morning and it was the same as yesterday.

    I gave myself one of the best Christmas presents I've ever received. It took me about nine months to accomplish it, but I gave myself a new body, and more positive perspective on life.

    As of yesterday, I have lost 101 pounds (45.8Kg for those of you who prefer the metric system) and over nine inches (22.86 cm) from my waistline.

    A friend of mine told me tonight that, her doctor had told her recently that people can live much better lives, with fewer ailments, if they just made simple life changes. She said that having watched me over the last year transform my body, my mind, and my life, she found me to be a good model for positive changes people can make in their lives. As much as hitting the century mark meant to me, her words meant even more.

    I've been thinking about this for a while and I think I'm going to become a motivational speaker. I want to help people change their lives for the better.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    24 Dec 2008

    Season's Greetings
    To my Democrat friends:

    Please accept (with no obligation, implied or implicit) best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday,practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2009, with due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great (This is not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country, nor that America is the only country in the Western Hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishes. By accepting these greetings, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for himself, herself, or others. This greeting is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

    To my Republican friends:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    19 Dec 2008

    A Strange Encounter
    Yesterday morning at work I was walking back to my cubical from the cafeteria with a bottle of water in my hand and a woman from another department stopped me in the corridor.

    She said (roughly), "I've seen you over the last few months and you've lost a lot of weight and I just wanted to tell you you look great."

    To which I replied (roughly), "Thank you," and I smiled.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    It's snowing!
    Okay, it's not snowing right now, but it was earlier. I took some vacation time and cut out of work early today. I spent an hour and a half driving 11 miles home. By time I got home the snow was already 3 to 4 inches deep and still coming down.

    So what did I do? I put on my normal cold weather running gear, put on sweat pants and a sweat shirt over that, and took off running.

    After the first mile, I was a lot warmer than I thought I'd be. There was a big difference between running today at 28F and running last week at 20F. I took off the sweat shirt and continued running. Along the way I got a lot of strange looks from people shoveling their driveways, but I suppose that is to be expected.

    I ran about 6K and while it wasn't my best run, it was good fun.

    [/running] [permanent link]

    06 Dec 2008

    Coding Soundtrack
    Two albums that are great for background music while coding:

    • The Matrix Soundtrack
    • Spawn: The Album

    The industrial/metal/techno mix on these two just fades into the background. The music is repetitive enough to not require direct attention, but not so repetitive that it draws attention to itself.

    If anyone has any other good suggestions for background music while coding, I'd love to hear them.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    05 Nov 2008

    On Saturday I ran in the Beavertown 5K Fall Classic. The run took place in near my home, so I ran the two miles to the registration location. About a half hour after I signed in, the 5K started. Once I finished, I ran the I ran the (roughly) two and a half miles back home.

    I did much better than in my previous 5K runs this year. I took almost 12 and half minutes off my time from the Lincoln Tunnel 5K, and over 4 minutes from my previous best.

    I think a lot of the improvement in the shorter distances can be attributed to the fact that I've been training on longer distances lately. In the past two months I've been running about eight to ten miles each day.

    A few weeks ago I ran my first half marathon distance. About 10 days ago I ran 20 miles, and took 15 minutes off my time in the half marathon. I promptly fell apart after that and my pace slowed dramatically.

    Yesterday I attempted another 20 miles and did not fall apart completely after the first 13. I made it to the 15 mile mark before I had any problems. I managed to finish the run and take a half hour off my previous time.

    [/running] [permanent link]

    29 Oct 2008 27 Oct 2008

    BSD v. GPL
    Jason Dixon gave a talk at this year's NYCBSDCon entitled "BSD v. GPL (a.k.a. not the sequel to "BSD is Dying")." It's a humorous look at the differences between the licenses and their supporters. Despite the humor, he made some good points.

    You can find a copy of the presentation at The Dixon Group website.

    [/unix] [permanent link]

    13 Oct 2008

    Over the past few weeks, I've been running longer loops than I used to. While out and about on these loops, I often come across other runners. There are a few who I see frequently, and others I see not quite as often. Some have obviously been running for quite a long time while others seem to be just starting out.

    One thing I've noticed is that almost all of these people will wave to other runners as they pass each other. It's like when two motorcycles pass each other on the highway, or when a corvette driver sees another on the road.

    There's a feeling on camaraderie; a feeling that, despite having never spoken to any of these people, we share a bond.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    17 Sep 2008

    The other night I installed mailman on my server. I integrated it into the apache configuration and restarted that. The mailman web interface became available as expected.

    I used the web interface to subscribe to the one list I had set up and I received an email asking me to confirm my subscription. I went to the included link, and all seemed to be good.

    Another person joined the list successfully, then sent an email to the list. This email never arrived in her inbox. She told me about it, and I checked only to find I did not have a copy either. I sent a mail to the list and promptly received a message saying that [listname] was not a valid recipient at the domain.

    That's when I realized I had forgotten to tell the mail server (postfix) about mailman. I had told apache about mailman, and mailman about postfix, but not postfix about mailman.

    I used mailman to create an alias database for its single list, then updated postfix's configuration to use that as one of its alias maps. All seems to be working now.

    In conclusion, I learned two things. One is always test your configuration before telling people it's ready. The other is, "I'm an idiot."

    [/unix] [permanent link]

    31 Aug 2008


    "You need strong emotion, whether it's fiery or depressed, an extreme state of mind. I think in any art form it's the case." -- Daniel Ash

    Maybe it's my lack of experience. Maybe it's my lack of talent. I tried to sit down and write music for the song known as Ravage in the new naming scheme, but I failed miserably. When I try to force it, like I did tonight, nothing comes out right. I have ideas, I can hear them in my head, but without that inspiration, without that emotion, nothing I produce sounds right.

    I've been too happy recently and it's destroyed my creativity. I get the urge, I have the inspiration, to write when I feel negative emotions. I need anger; I need depression. It is in dealing with these emotions that I am able to write.

    I have tried several times to force myself to feel this way. This usually buys me a few minutes in which I can write, but it often fails. Because the emotions are artificial, the results are mediocre at best.

    I find this situation to be quite frustrating. I want to move forward with this album, but without that inspiration I am unable to do anything.

    In the meantime, I'm slowly teaching myself to play guitar and, to a much lesser extent, a keyboard-style synthesizer. I've also been going through materials my music teacher friend gave me to learn some basic music theory. Hopefully once I find that needed inspiration, or find a way to work without being angry or depressed, this new knowledge will make things easier.

    [/album] [permanent link]

    29 Aug 2008

    On August 27th, I attended the Nine Inch Nails concert in East Rutherford, NJ held at the arena. I think I enjoyed it.

    I ordered a pair of tickets through nin.com during the presale. Tickets went on sale at 5:00PM, I managed to get through by 5:05 and ended up with two tickets for Section 121, Row 8, opting not to purchase floor seats. I went with a friend with whom I've attended a number of concerts, including the Bauhaus/NIN show at PNC Arts Center in 2006.

    As per the terms of the nin.com presale, we had to pick up the tickets at the venue. Because of this fact, and the massive amount of pointless and unnecessary construction at the Meadowlands, we decided it would be best to get there early.

    My friend took the night off from work and I picked him up at his apartment after I got out of work. We grabbed a quick meal at a nearby Wendy's (which I'm still paying for...) and then headed over to the arena.

    We arrived around 5:30PM, about two hours before the show. We asked one of the security staff if the box office was open because we had tickets waiting at Will Call. He informed us that the box office opened several hours prior and we could pick up our tickets.

    We headed toward the box office and found a long line. We waited for a few minutes and noticed that the line had not moved at all. Figuring that a line for Will Call would be moving slightly faster than not-at-all, I went to investigate while my friend saved our place in line.

    After a short walk I found another line marked by a sign reading "NIN.COM PRESALE TICKET HOLDERS." I asked the event staff member near the line if that was the line to pick up the tickets. He explained the procedure to me.

    I went and got my friend from the other line and explained to him what the staff had just told me. He then waited outside while I walked into the box office, passing event staff who asked if I was picking up the presale tickets. Inside, another staff member indicated I could pick up the tickets on line 13 or 14. I picked up the tickets, went back outside and we got on line. The staff member who had explained the procedure to me came over to us, checked our tickets, and gave us wrist bands.

    A little while later, just before the gates were set to open, another staff member came down the line checking people's tickets. He looked at ours, cut off our wrist bands, and told us to skip the line and enter the arena through the box office lobby. It seems people with lower section tickets were let in while people with General Admission floor tickets remained on the line.

    Once inside the door, we waited on another line for about 30 seconds to have our tickets scanned for entry into the arena. On the other side of the turnstile, an escalator brought us up to the main floor. We walked around realizing we came in almost directly opposite our section. We stopped at one of the entry ways to have a look at the stage. The staff member at the entry asked to see our tickets. We told him we were on the other side but just wanted to take a quick look at the stage. He had no problem with this. I asked him if he new what time the opening act would be start and he replied, "7:30." I then asked if he knew what time Nine Inch Nails would go on. He took a piece of paper from his pocket, unfolded it, then said, "They'll be on from 8:40 to 10:55." I thanked him and we moved on. We found our section and went down to our seats.

    It turns out that row 8 is actually row 3. We were at the level of the stage and about a hundred feet away. We were angled enough to have a view of almost the entire stage (the lights on the stage right we facing away from us).

    After that we then decided to walk around for a while since we had quite a while until the openers started.

    I stopped and purchased an overpriced souvenir t-shirt at one of the merchandise stands. I should have gotten it a size smaller than I did. I'm still not used to not being overweight. We stopped at a concession stand and payed way too much for water, then did a few more laps around the arena. Finally we went back to our seats.

    At 7:30 the opening act, Does it Offend You, Yeah?, took the stage. They were pretty good. I enjoyed their music despite having heard only one song prior to that evening. It was hard to hear their vocals because the gain on the microphones seemed to be a lot lower than it should have been, especially while they were playing. They thanked the crowd for not booing. When the announced that their next song would be their last for the evening, people cheered. The guitarist quickly replied, "Thank you to all the people who cheered because they like us."

    I was fairly impressed by their set and wish it had been a little bit longer, maybe another song or two.

    At 8:45 Nine Inch Nails took the stage as 999,999 played. As soon as it ended, 1,000,000 started. The continued with a few more songs from The Slip. After Discipline, the band tore into March of the Pigs. The crowd exploded.

    The band made extensive use of three screens, which could be raised and lowered, throughout the night. During The Warning and Vessel, the screen to the front of the stage obscured most of the stage as the instruments used for the almost-acoustic Ghosts set were set up. Justin Meldal-Johnsen played a bass violin during the Ghosts set, which included a new rendition of Piggy.

    After that part of the evening's set, the front screen was used again to hide the stage as the instruments were removed during the next song, which featured an animation set to the music and live video of Trent Reznor being processed on-the-fly to distort his image. I think the only way to describe the processed video is to say it looked like white noise in the shape of a person's face.

    At the end of that song the screen turned completely blue. As Pinion played, the screen's lights were turned off in a rather unique way until the screen did little to obscure the band. The screen was raised quickly as the band tore into Wish, followed quickly by the classic Terrible Lie.

    The entire 31 song set, including the five song obligatory encore was about 2 hours and 15 minutes. It was an amazing show. The set highlighted the musical ability and range of the performers and featured songs from all of NIN's major releases. The visual element of the show was well thought out and very well executed, adding to the music rather than distracting from it.

    I took a few pictures using the low-res camera built into my phone. There is one of the stage, the foremost screen, and Trent during Hurt.


    • 999,999
    • 1,000,000
    • Letting You
    • Discipline
    • March of the Pigs
    • Head Down
    • The Frail
    • Reptile
    • Closer
    • Gave Up
    • The Warning
    • Vessel
    • 5 Ghosts I
    • 17 Ghosts II
    • 19 Ghosts III
    • Ghosts Piggy
    • The Greater Good
    • Pinion
    • Wish
    • Terrible Lie
    • Survivalism
    • The Big Come Down
    • 31 Ghosts IV
    • Only
    • The Hand That Feeds
    • Head Like a Hole
    • - Encore -
    • Echoplex
    • God Given
    • The Good Soldier
    • Hurt
    • In This Twilight

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    26 Aug 2008


    There's nothing terribly wrong with feeling lost, so long as that feeling precedes some plan on your part to actually do something about it. Too often a person grows complacent with their disillusionment, perpetually wearing their "discomfort" like a favorite shirt. I can't say that I'm very pleased with where my life is just now... But I can't help but look forward to where it's going.

    -- Jhonen Vasquez, "Johnny the Homicidal Maniac: Director's Cut"

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    The DNC Hates Unix Users Pt 2
    Looking through this script, it appears that DNC is relying on Microsoft's Silverlight plugin. Currently, this browser plugin is supported for a limited selection of browsers on a limited selection of operating systems. A relatively complete list of supported platforms can be found here.

    Knowing full well how limited the support for this technology, the DNC still decided this was the best solution.

    I hope the RNC will use technologies that are more cross-platform than this. Currently the video available at their site is based on Flash. While Flash support is a bit shaky outside of Windows and Mac OS, it is supported in Unix.

    [/politics] [permanent link]

    25 Aug 2008

    The DNC Hates Unix Users
    Just confirming the Slashdot story (http://news.slashdot.org/news/08/08/25/229210.shtml):

    We're sorry, but the Democratic Convention video web site isn't compatible with your operating system and/or browser. Please try again on a computer with the following: Compatible operating systems: Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, or a Mac with Tiger (OS 10.4) or Leopard (OS 10.5). Compatible browsers: Internet Explorer (version 6 or later), Firefox (version 2), or, if you are on a Mac, Safari (version 3.1) also works.

    My User Agent string is currently "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; FreeBSD i386; en-US; rv: Gecko/20070527 Firefox/"

    So not only does the Vice Presidential nominee want to expand the powers of the DMCA, the entire party wants to prevent Unix users from obtaining information.

    [/politics] [permanent link]

    18 Aug 2008

    FreeBSD 7 SATA Weirdness
    Over the weekend I installed the x86-64 build of FreeBSD 7 on my workstation, dib. I haven't had time yet to configure everything to my liking yet, but almost everything works.

    The one really annoying issue centers around a SATA DVD burner. When this device is attached to the primary SATA controller (ICH7), the system refuses to boot from the hard drive. It reports that no system disk has been found. I've tried all of the SATA settings options in the BIOS and none work.

    If I connect the SATA burner to the secondary Marvell "RAID" controller the system boots from the hard drive without issue. In Windows, this requires another driver (which for some reason installed a copy of apache along with it). Under FreeBSD 7; however, this second controller seems to be currently unsupported, leaving me with only the IDE burner available.

    I may spend the $20 and get another IDE burner and just forget about the SATA issue, but I really would like to know what the problem is. If any one has any idea why the system would fail to boot from a SATA hard drive when a SATA optical drive is attached, please email me and give me some insight into this issue. Maybe the Unix category wasn't the best for this. I spent more time discussing the hardware/BIOS weirdness than the installation or configuration of FreeBSD7. In fact, FreeBSD 7 isn't a very good title for this either. I'm going to change that.

    [/unix] [permanent link]

    15 Aug 2008

    A little less evil
    Another posting on Slashdot reports that YouTube (owned by Google) contacted the IOC concerning the take down notice recently filed. After being contacted, the IOC backed down. YouTube (owned by Google) restored the video.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    12 Aug 2008

    Don't be evil?
    There's a story over on slashdot about the International Olympic Committee demanding YouTube (owned by Google) remove a video of a Free Tibet protest. Of course YouTube (owned by Google) removed the video immediately.

    The video of the protest was filmed in New York, because the protest was in New York near the Chinese Consulate. Last time I checked, which granted was a while ago, New York was in the United States. Also the last time I checked, we had the right to free speech in this country.

    Maybe I'm ignorant. Maybe I'm just dumb. To me, this sounds like the IOC and Google denying the protesters their freedom of speech.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    Cuban Pete's
    Last night I went to dinner with some friends. After debating for a while, we finally decided on Cuban Pete's on Bloomfield Ave. in Montclair.

    We arrived and the restaurant was a little crowded, but the three of us were seated in the outdoor dining area rather quickly. The weather at the time was nice, with clear skies and a comfortable temperature in the mid- to upper-seventies; beautiful Autumn weather.

    We looked over the menus and made our decisions and then waited. And waited. And waited a little more. Eventually our waiter, Miguel, came over to the table and took our order. My one friend attempted to order the breaded steak. Miguel quickly said, "You don't want that. It's not very good." My friend took his advise and ordered something else instead. After Miguel took our order he quickly came back with our drinks.

    We then waited. And waited. And waited some more. After about 25 minutes, the tapas we had ordered as appetizers finally came out. We split orders of chicken empanadas, beef empanadas, fish fritatas, and goat cheese fritters. All of these were quite tasty in my opinion and only to make us hungrier. At this point we had arrived at the restaurant a little over an hour prior.

    As we waited for our entrees, the sun set and the air became rather cold for August. Eventually our food arrived. We were all very hungry at this point and starting to run short on time as well.

    The food was all quite good. One friend had a Cuban burger made from beef and pork served with potato sticks. He said he liked the burger a lot, but the roll left a lot to be desired. My other friend and I both ordered the marinated skirt steak. The steaks were served with rice, black beans, and fried plantains. All of the side dishes were good. I was less than thrilled with the plantains, but then again, I've never really liked plantains. My friend liked her plantains even less than I did. The steak was quite good and the best I've had in a very long time; however, it was the first steak I've had in several months.

    As we were finishing our meals, it began to rain. Apparently some clouds rolled in as the sun was setting. We quickly finished the last few bites and we ran inside. We got our bill from Miguel, paid, and headed back to the car while the rain was still just a drizzle.

    Overall, I enjoyed the evening. The food was good. Miguel was friendly. The service was a little slow. We were there for a good two hours, an hour and a half of that waiting for our meals. On yelp.com there's more details of other people's experiences at Cuban Pete's; a lot of them more opinionated than mine. Some people loved it, others hated it. I thought it was okay. I'd like to go there again, when I have three or four hours to sit and wait for food. I've heard good things about the paella there and I'd like to try it.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    09 Aug 2008

    Revision Control
    One could argue that this should be filed under the Unix category, but this post is more about the album than it is about the Concurrent Versions System.

    Friday night I created a CVS repository on this server to manage album related files. After discussing it with rskutins, we agreed on several key points.

    First, with changes being made a little more frequently than before, it would be best to have some way to track what was going on, and to be able to roll back to a previous version if the changes don't quite work out. Second, we wanted to have a way to organize several files for each song, for instance, lyrics, notes, bass tabs, drum tabs, etc. Last, and maybe the most important reason for the reorganization, we wanted to move away from the numbering scheme that was in place. Each song was numbered from 0 to 17. This was fine until we realized 11 was likely to be the first track on the album.

    Now the album is stored in a CVS repository. This will keep a version history of each file, allow us to simultaneously work on parts of the album, and merge our changes.

    Within this repository we now have a tree structure where each song has its own directory. The directory will hold any and all files related to that song. In an effort to move away from the numbering scheme, an arbitrary naming convention was mutually agreed upon. The songs are now known by names such as Soundwave, Ravage, Frenzy, and Rumble.

    The album is starting to come together. I feel motivated to work on it and recently I've found myself inspired to write. Now if only I had time.

    Omlette listened to the Accidental Mix I posted (of the song now known as Soundwave) and gave me some feedback.

    It sounded ominous. I don't know how else to describe it since I'm not familiar w/ either artist. Oh wait. Were you mixing your own stuff?
    Ominous seems like it could be a good thing given the current direction of the album.

    If anyone else takes the time to listen to it, I'd appreciate any comments or suggestions. If you don't have it, my contact information is on this page.

    [/album] [permanent link]

    08 Aug 2008

    Another Demo Update
    Two weeks! Ha! It's been closer to two months.

    A few days ago I had some time so I sat down with the ProTools set up again. After considering some advice from jlight, I decided to record a second track of the bass line. I decided to use my Yamaha for the second track, as I had used my Fender for the original recording back in June. The two instruments have different characteristics in their sounds and the two playing together seems to add a "fullness" to the sound.

    So all I had to do was record 24 seconds of bass and put together a mix. This should take, what, 15 minutes? It took 45 just to record. Once again ProTools repeatedly crashed. When it wasn't crashing, it would report an error and stop recording. Does anyone know if there are updates for ProTools LE 7.1 that will fix this issue? As it stands now, I can't run ProTools for more than a few seconds without disabling multi-core support on my CPU. I have multiple processors. It is a multi-threaded application. It should run better... But I'll save this for that upcoming ProTools rant I keep promising.

    Anyway, after about an hour and fifteen minutes, I got two mixes complete. One of them was accidental and sounds, "interesting." The other is closer to what I had in mind. While I wait for feedback on the actual mix from certain people, everyone is free to enjoy the accidental mix found here.

    If anyone actually listens to it, I'd be happy to accept any comments and criticism.

    [/album] [permanent link]

    06 Aug 2008

    A number of years ago, Stephen Bloom taught CS115 at Stevens Institute of Technology. Any one familiar with his teaching style is well aware of how "animated" he can be in class. In this particular course, one student made some recordings of the lectures.

    Copies circulated around campus, but over time these recordings became harder to find. In an effort to preserve a piece of history, I present to you The Bloom MP3s.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    18 Jul 2008

    Yet Another Charity 5K
    On August 4th I will be participating in Hoboken's 17th Annual 5K Run/Walk Against Crime & Drugs.

    Some police officers told me about the run on Tuesday after I finished the Party With Purpose run. They said the money raised would be donated to various Veterans' organizations.

    This run in August will be the same course as this week's, a map of which can be found here. I enjoyed the course. It was rather flat (especially compared to the Lincoln Tunnel Run) and there was a nice breeze coming off the Hudson.

    I urge any and all of you who will be in the area to participate in the event. More information can be found at Active.com.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    15 Jul 2008

    5K Run for Charity
    I have entered a 5K run sponsored by Party With Purpose. The run is tonight in Hoboken and all donations are going to the Hoboken Boys and Girls Club.

    Registration starts at 5:30PM and the run begins at 7:00PM on Pier A.

    For more information, including info about making donations, please visit www.partywithpurpose.org.

    Thank you.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    29 Jun 2008

    Happy Birthday

    Friday night was the Birthday Massacre/Mindless Self Indulgence show. Due to various circumstances and events, my friends and I made it to the venue just in time to see the last 3 minutes of TBM's set.

    I made an attempt to see The Birthday Massacre last August in new York but that attempt failed due to prior commitments. So for two years in a row I tried to see them, and for two years in a row I failed. Sorta.

    After seeing the last 3 minutes of the set and being very disappointed, I went over to the merchandise booth to buy a souvenir T-shirt. My friend James joined me and we, mostly James because of his gregarious nature, started a conversation with the guy at the counter, whose name was Zimmy. We told him what had happened and asked if there was any chance of catching the band as their equipment was being packed up.

    He told us their gear had already be packed, but if we hung out after the show they'd be coming out to meet the fans. So we hung out after the show.

    After the crowd dissipated, we went back into the venue's main room. Sure enough, several members of The Birthday Massacre were standing around, signing autographs, and talking to the fans. James and I went up to O-En first. He was very friendly and talked with us for ten or fifteen minutes. I told him about missing the show two years running and he gave me his sympathies and thanked me for trying to get to the shows. I asked him if he had any idea when they'd be in the area again and he gave me a general idea of when to expect them to be back. He was nice enough to sign my copy of Violet and let us take a photograph.

    Next we went over and talked with Chibi. She was also very friendly although we didn't speak to her for quite as long as we did O-En. She signed Violet and took a photo with me and thanked us for coming to see them, even though we missed the set.

    The last member of the band I got to see was Rainbow. Like O-En and Chibi, he too was very friendly. We talked to him for several minutes and I collected another autograph and photo.

    All three of them were very friendly with every one and they all seemed to genuinely care about their fans. I had heard from some one who had met them before that they were some of the nicest people you could ever meet. O-En, Chibi, and Rainbow confirmed that on Friday night. Now that I've met them, I can't wait for the next opportunity to finally catch their set.

    Not that anyone really cares, but these are the photos James took. If you view the full version, be warned that I'm in the photos too.

    O-En Chibi Rainbow

    [/tbm] [permanent link]

    Happy Birthday

    Friday night was the Birthday Massacre/Mindless Self Indulgence show. Due to various circumstances and events, my friends and I made it to the venue just in time to see the last 3 minutes of TBM's set.

    I made an attempt to see The Birthday Massacre last August in new York but that attempt failed due to prior commitments. So for two years in a row I tried to see them, and for two years in a row I failed. Sorta.

    After seeing the last 3 minutes of the set and being very disappointed, I went over to the merchandise booth to buy a souvenir T-shirt. My friend James joined me and we, mostly James because of his gregarious nature, started a conversation with the guy at the counter, whose name was Zimmy. We told him what had happened and asked if there was any chance of catching the band as their equipment was being packed up.

    He told us their gear had already be packed, but if we hung out after the show they'd be coming out to meet the fans. So we hung out after the show.

    After the crowd dissipated, we went back into the venue's main room. Sure enough, several members of The Birthday Massacre were standing around, signing autographs, and talking to the fans. James and I went up to O-En first. He was very friendly and talked with us for ten or fifteen minutes. I told him about missing the show two years running and he gave me his sympathies and thanked me for trying to get to the shows. I asked him if he had any idea when they'd be in the area again and he gave me a general idea of when to expect them to be back. He was nice enough to sign my copy of Violet and let us take a photograph.

    Next we went over and talked with Chibi. She was also very friendly although we didn't speak to her for quite as long as we did O-En. She signed Violet and took a photo with me and thanked us for coming to see them, even though we missed the set.

    The last member of the band I got to see was Rainbow. Like O-En and Chibi, he too was very friendly. We talked to him for several minutes and I collected another autograph and photo.

    All three of them were very friendly with every one and they all seemed to genuinely care about their fans. I had heard from some one who had met them before that they were some of the nicest people you could ever meet. O-En, Chibi, and Rainbow confirmed that on Friday night. Now that I've met them, I can't wait for the next opportunity to finally catch their set.

    Not that anyone really cares, but these are the photos James took. If you view the full version, be warned that I'm in the photos too.

    O-En Chibi Rainbow

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    23 Jun 2008

    Demo -- Update
    Rskutins recorded his drum part and sent it to me via the wonders of TCP/IP netowrking. On Friday night I finally had enough time (and motivation) to start recording.

    I spent a lot of time fighting with ProTools. It repeatedly crashed. Often, when it didn't crash, it simply stopped recording and reported that an error had occurred. I'm remembering this for the ProTools rant that will be coming in the future.

    After 45 minutes I had recorded about 6 seconds of vocals and the 24 second bass line. The next block of Copious Free Time(TM) I have, I'll begin the rough mix of the three parts. Hopefully ProTools won't crash as often during that phase.

    With any luck, it'll be mixed in the next week or two.

    [/album] [permanent link]

    03 Jun 2008

    In the next few weeks we are going to attempt to record and roughly mix a demo of a short track which will serve as an introduction to the album.

    Currently known as 11, it is a very short piece in 4/4 time at 80bpm. It is in the key of B minor and the spoken words are taken from a quote attributed to Nietzsche.

    What upsets me is not that you lied to me, but that from now on I can no longer believe you.
    This short demo will hopefully get me motivated enough to put more time into the album.

    More information will be posted when it becomes available.

    [/album] [permanent link]

    29 May 2008

    A Brief History
    Last Summer, my friend, rskutins, and I decided we were going to write an album. He got out his drum machine, being smaller and easier to store and carry than a full kit, and I got out my bass and we started putting together some pieces that were... not good.

    We had little direction, I was afraid to play things outside of my comfort zone, and we had some problems communicating. This project quickly fell apart, but we never completely gave up the idea.

    In March I found the inspiration I needed. I talked to rskutins and we started working on an album again. This time, fueled by strong emotion, both fiery and depressed, I started by writing lyrics.

    Not all are complete, but there are about 15 sets of lyrics for us to use as a starting point. Rskutins has tweaked the lyrics in some places to make them fit a better rhythm while still maintaining the intent of the words. I am quite pleased by what he has done.

    Based on these lyrics we have begun writing short pieces here and there when we feel inspired. Rskutins has laid down some pretty good beats to start with. I've been attempting to learn some basic music theory and trying to apply those ideas to the layers on top of what rskutins has written already.

    And that's where we are now. Still learning, still writing. Our day jobs have slowed down our progress considerably so it could very well take until the Autumn before we're ready to record and mix the album.

    [/album] [permanent link]

    19 May 2008

    New Addiction
    After many months of speaking with coworkers and friends, I gave in to peer pressure and purchased an Nintendo DS. My decision was based on more than just the games available, as I've considered myself to be only a casual gamer.

    DSLinux has a set up for running GNU/Linux on the DS hardware, which includes support for the touch screen and the 802.11b wireless network. If it hasn't been done already, I'd like to port the drivers and the on-screen keyboard application from Linux to NetBSD and run that on the DS.

    But before that happens, I'm going to have to complete the game I'm currently playing. As a result of giving in to peer pressure, the first game I purchased for the DS was Pokemon Pearl. It is very addictive. So far I've logged about 31 hours, obtained 7 of 8 gym badges, traded pokemon with and battled against friends and coworkers.

    I am eagerly awaiting the Nintendo event at Toys R Us at the end of the month which will unlock Darkrai.

    Yes, I am a loser. I never said I wasn't.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    15 Mar 2008

    5K Run for Charity
    I have entered the 2008 Lincoln Tunnel Challenge to help raise money for the Special Olympics. I would appreciate it if every one could make a donation, no matter the amount.

    You can make a donation by visiting http://www.kintera.org/faf/r.asp?t=4&i=259467&u=259467-208197882&e=1594945751. Any and every donation is appreciated.

    Thank you.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    23 Jan 2008

    Best Buy Capitalizes on Actor's Death
    I stumbled upon this information today. The Best Buy in Mission Valley San Diego attempted to cash in on Heath Ledger's death mere hours after his passing. You can read all about it here.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    22 Jan 2008

    Best Buy Charges Customers for Exchanges
    This weekend I witnessed a friend try to exchange an item at Best Buy. He had mistakenly purchased the full-screen version and wanted to exchange it for the wide-screen version. While he did not have his receipt, it still had the Best Buy sticker on the shrink wrap as well as the $19.99 price tag.

    The signs on the shelf indicated that the wide-screen version was also $19.99 and as of January 22, both versions are $19.99 on the Best Buy website.

    My friend waited online patiently for about 15 minutes to make his exchange. He handed the Blue Shirt both the full-screen version he had purchased and the wide-screen copy he picked up before going to the customer service line. The Blue Shirt asked if he had paid cash or credit and when my friend said credit, the Blue Shirt asked for his card.

    The Blue Shirt swiped the card and pushed a bunch of buttons then told my friend he'd have to pay $5.35 ($5 plus 7% sales tax) due to a "difference in price."

    When we questioned this "difference in price" we were told, "Wide-screen always costs more than full-screen."

    I am boycotting Best Buy and I urge others to do the same. This company has a long history of using underhanded tactics to increase profitability at the expense of its employees and its customers.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    05 Jan 2008

    Google blocks browsers
    Netmeister has an interesting blurb about experience with Google blocking various UserAgents.

    From the posting:

    For example, perl's LWP::UserAgent sets the agent string per default to
    "libwww-perl/#.#". Google apparently doesn't like that and will not
    return results to you. Setting it to something like "Mozilla/5.0 (X11;
    U; NetBSD i386; en-US; rv:" would work.
    Interestingly, they appear to whitelist agents, rather than blacklisting

    What was that about not being evil?

    [/musings] [permanent link]


    My Infrequently Updated Blog. The web-based journal of M. Forde, computer nerd, endurance athlete, and DeLorean owner


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    15 Dec 2023




    One last try
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    Content-Disposition: inline; filename=tmobilespace.gif

    Content-Type: image/gif; name=dottedline600.gif
    Content-Disposition: inline; filename=dottedline600.gif

    Content-Disposition:inline; filename=footer.gif


    [/mobile] [permanent link]

    07 Oct 2022

    I'm looking California and feeling Minnesota

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    29 Dec 2021

    Fireside Chat

    Tonight I signed up for the Fireside beta. They asked for all my social media accounts to prove I'm a human. The problem is, I don't have a twitter account, a facebook account, instagram, etc. Years ago I took the advice of numerous psychology studies and my own therapist's advice and got off the social media platforms. It was one of the best things I've ever done for my mental health.

    So hopefully this blog, though infrequently updated (and slightly broken since the last major perl update), will serve as proof to the people at Fireside that I am human and not a bot.

    It was the Astonishing Legends Podcast that led me to Fireside. It would be nice to use it for one of their interactive live chats sometime.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    07 May 2020

    Bill Gates is Satan's Minion
    Bill Gates was Satan's minion, is Satan's minion, and always will be Satan's minion.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    13 Mar 2018

    Tenth Runniversary
    Today is my tenth runniversary. It's been a decade since I first stepped on that treadmill. Like my first day running, I ran on the treadmill while listening to br\oken. I've had some set backs in my recovery. Not properly rehabilitating the atrophy in the left leg has caused some problems with the muscles around my hip. Listening to my trainer only made it worse. But now I'm taking care of it properly. Like that first day ten years ago, I have a goal I am working toward. This time it is the Dublin Marathon in October. This will be marathon number 13. I don't expect to PR. I think 10 minute miles are a much more reasonable goal at this point, but frankly I'll be happy just to cross that finish line. It's been a long, hard road out of Hell, but God has been by my side and put some amazing people in my life to help me along the way. I have to thank the Giraffes for today. I have to thank the Giraffes for much of my life this last decade. I was heading for an early grave, and they changed that. Giraffes, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I look forward to running the LTC and many other races with you in the next decade.

    [/running] [permanent link]

    12 Mar 2018

    Take back your privacy
    Recent surveys have found that 76% of [the most visited] websites in the world cotain trackers from google and 24% contain trackers from facebook. This has been reported by CNBC, PC World, The Verge, Fortune, and Breitbart.

    Almost anywhere you go on the internet, they are following you, building a profile on you, and selling that information, your information, to the highest bidder. Even if you don't have a user account for google or facebook "services," they've built a profile of you using this surreptitiously collected data.

    It turns out there are some steps one can take to prevent these companies from following you wherever you go. It's not perfect, but it helps a lot. First, don't use Chrome. Second, install ad-blocker plugins for your browser. Third, use your firewall.

    It turns out Google and Facebook are large enough that they have their own Autonomous Systems (AS) composed of numerous subnets. Google owns AS 15169, while Facebook owns AS 32934. Using a little bit of shell, it's relatively easy to look up all the subnets owned by these companies.

    whois -h whois.radb.net -- '-i origin AS32934' | grep "^route:" | awk '{print $2;}'
    whois -h whois.radb.net -- '-i origin AS15169' | grep "^route:" | awk '{print $2;}'

    That's a lot of subnets. Because I have different operating systems on different computers and still want to block traffic to and from all those IP addresses, I've written some simple scripts to add rules to various firewalls. I have scripts for IPFW on FreeBSD, IPTables on Linux, and the Windows Firewall that should work from XP SP3 through Windows 10. I've only tested it on Windows 7 and Windows 10, and it worked in those.

    All of these scripts can be found in this directory. The IPFW and IPTables scripts are self-contained. For the Windows command shell batch files, the *ips.txt files are also needed.

    I have to say, the internet looks very different with these firewall rules in place. There are noticeably fewer advertisements and pages load faster. Embedded YouTube videos and Instagram photos don't appear. Sometimes the frame disappears, sometimes you get a "failed to connect" page appearing in a frame in the middle of a page. (Yes, these rules block YouTube and Instagram; they are owned by google and facebook and reside in the subnets owned by those companies.) On a relatively rare occasion, I come across a site using some sort of javascript or css or something hosted by a machine in one of those ASs and that will be blocked. Sometimes the site handles that gracefully, sometimes it stops being functional. A small price to take back your life.

    Update: Twitter has trackers on a decent amount of sites out there too, so I've added scripts to block Twitter's AS 13414 as well. Those scripts are in the same directories as the others.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    17 Oct 2017

    St Michael, defend us in battle
    Crisis Magazine has a great piece about St Michael and the ongoing spiritual warfare in the world.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    12 Oct 2017

    New PGP Key!
    So apparently Evil32 happened. Approximately 24,000 PGP keys were generated that had collisions with the 32-bit short IDs of existing keys. Then someone decided to use those conflicting keys to generate revocation certificates and upload them to the keyservers. Joy.

    Though my old keys still work, they were affected by this mass revocation of collsions. I have created a new key which can be found at http://skinnymf.com/~mforde/mforde.asc.

    On a related note, if anyone is interested in Key Signing Party, shoot me an email. I haven't been to one of those since college.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    30 Sep 2017

    Time Travel?
    A few months ago I happened to snap a photo of the DeLorean on Main Street in Boonton near the Darress Theatre. It's probably one of my favorite photographs of the car and certainly one of the best I've ever taken.
    The theatre was built in 1919 and has remained largely unchanged since then. A lot of Boonton still has a very old "look and feel" to it, and this section of Main Street served as a perfect backdrop for the DeLorean.

    DeLorean DMC-12 Darress
Theatre Boonton

    [/dmc] [permanent link]

    24 Aug 2017

    How to Drive a Classic Rolls-Royce, or a DeLorean, Any Time You Want
    Bloomberg has posted an article entitled How to Drive a Classic Rolls-Royce, or a DeLorean, Any Time You Want. It's really quite simple, actually. You take your keys, go out the the garage, and you drive the DeLorean any time you want.

    [/dmc] [permanent link]

    16 Aug 2017

    Sometimes it's dificult to find a reason to continue.

    [/musings/self] [permanent link]

    14 Mar 2017

    Ninth Runniversary
    Yesterday was my ninth runniversary. Like my first day running, I ran on the treadmill while listening to Broken. Unlike the first time, I only listened to it once, and covered 4.48 miles during the duration of the EP, thanking God every step of the way.

    I'm confident in knowing that the bone in my ankle has healed completely now; however, I'm still rebuilding the muscle in that ankle and the rest of that leg. There was significant atrophy during the early phases of recovery. Slowly as it may be, I am making progress, and I am thankful for that.

    [/running] [permanent link]

    24 Dec 2016

    Merry Christmas
    While the holidays are supposed to be a joyous time, I know and understand how hard they can be for some people. If you're having a rough time over the next week or so and need someone to talk to, feel free to message me. If you're reading this blog, you likely know my email address or phone number.

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    28 Oct 2016

    Aisling at 35
    She's still looking good at 35....
    DeLorean DMC-12 with
gullwing doors open

    [/dmc] [permanent link]

    02 Oct 2016

    Happy Birthday Aisling!!!!
    My DeLorean, #5333, was built in October of 1981. This month, the car will be 35 years old and she looks and handles like the day she came off the assembly line.

    [/dmc] [permanent link]

    26 Sep 2016

    Don't Call it a Comeback
    On June fourth, I was running in the Tourne on a trail I first ran twenty years ago, a trail I've run hundreds if not thousands of times before. On that morning, my foot came down on a wet rock at just the wrong angle, slipped just enough and I rolled my ankle. Not only did I roll the joint, I came down on it with enough force to break it; a fact I would learn when I final saw a doctor about it on June ninth.

    No surgery was required, but I was unable to run for three months. I was finally cleared to run. The plan was to start with short distances, about a quarter mile, on a rubberized track then build up from there, moving on to treadmills and eventually roads and trails. I was instructed to spend six months rebuilding my 60 mile per week base.

    On the morning of September 11 (a day I will never forget and a morning that will always make me feel a bit uneasy), I took to the track for the first time. I started by walking a mile. As I finished the fourth lap, I said a prayer, asking God to give me the run I needed and the wisdom to know when to stop. I queued up my playlist: AC\DC's "Back in Black" and LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out." I took my first stride.

    I've been progressing well in the last two weeks; pushing it on some days, resting when necessary. Though the short, slow distances have been frustrating, it feel good to be running again. Every stride I take I'm reminded of everything I love about the sport.

    It's good to be back.

    [/running] [permanent link]

    18 Sep 2016

    Fun Conversations
    The DeLorean often leads to conversations one wouldn't normally expect. Case in point: today I had to call my auto insurance provider for an issue with my daily driver. After taking some info to pull up my account the conversation went something like this:

    Agent: Which car is this?
    Me: The Pontiac.
    Agent: Am I reading this right?
    Me: Reading what?
    Agent: I'm sorry, do you have a DeLorean?
    Me: Yes.
    Agent: I never thought I'd see someone with a policy on a DeLorean.
    Me: Well, you've insured both of mine...
    Agent: You've had two DeLoreans?
    Me: Yes.

    At that point there were a few more questions and then we got back to the issue which my phone call had been about originally.

    [/dmc] [permanent link]

    24 Aug 2016

    An Observation
    There is something satisfying about driving in a DeLorean while listening to The Clash's Live: From Here to Eternity.

    [/dmc] [permanent link]

    13 Aug 2016

    What Year is This?!
    So this was my Saturday night....
    A bottle of Crystal Pepsi with Metallica's Ride the Lightning and
Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures vinyl records sitting on the hood of a
DeLorean Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures on a record player

    [/musings] [permanent link]

    09 Aug 2016

    He's Not Wrong...
    Over at Net Meister there's a nice peice entitled Things They Don't Teach You in School". A lot of what Jan has to say is spot-on observation and good advice.

    It's definitely worth a read.

    [/code] [permanent link]

    20 Jul 2016 08 Jul 2016

    X11 Mouse Cursor Themes
    Starting after installimg the binary nvidia drivers on both my laptop (Quadro K1100M) and my workstation (GeForce GT 630) Blackbox was defaulting to a mouse cursor that was suboptimal, a black, notched triangle.

    The settings in the Xresources for the mouse cursor theme are honored by XDM at the graphical log in, but when Blackbox or Fluxbox start, the cursor would change to the black notched triangle. TWM honors the settings in Xresources, but TWM is just a little too minimalist, even for me.

    But there's a simple fix!

    Create a file in your home directory (if it doesn't already exist) .icons/default/index.theme. In this file, add the following lines:

    [Icon Theme]
    Inherits = polarblue

    where polarblue is the name of the X11 mouse cursor theme you wish to use. FreeBSD installs many of the X11 cursor sets into /usr/local/lib/X11/icons/, your Unix flavor may be different. In theory, you can also install new themes of your choosing into ~/.icons/ and use those without the need for any elevated privileges.

    Additionally, there's the option of creating a .Xdefaults file in the home directory and adding the line
    Xcursor.theme: polarblue

    Again, where polarblue is the name of theme you want to use.

    [/unix] [permanent link]

    18 Jun 2016

    FreeBSD Unix on Dell Precision M4800
    I installed FreeBSD 10.3 on the laptop I recently acquired and almost eveything worked out of the box. The gigabit ethernet and wi-fi coards worked fine and by setting the BIOS to discrete graphics only, the nVidia Quadro was recognized.

    I installed the binary driver from nVidia, because they support FreeBSD because they're awesome like that. The nvidia-xconfig(1) program was useful to streamline the process of getting X.org to use the Quadro.

    There were a few things that did need some tewaking though. First there's the sound card. Because the quadro supports HDMI (in addition to VGA and DisplayPort), it includes an HDA-compliant sound card. This card is recognized before the primary HDA-compliant sound card in the machine, the one that's actually connected to the speakers.

    I did some research and there were some suggestions about using sysctl(8) to control soundcard GPIO pins to connect the nVidia sound device to the speackers but what ultimately worked was using sysctl(8) to change the default primary sound device to the dedicated card. There were a few ways to make this happen but the one I found that actually worked was to place sysctl(8) command lines in /etc/rc.local.

    First I found the device I wanted as the default:

    mforde@gaz:~> cat /dev/sndstat 
    Installed devices:
    pcm0:  (play) default
    pcm1:  (play)
    pcm2:  (play) 
    pcm3:  (play)

    Device pcm2 was the one I wanted so I added the following lines to /etc/rc.local
    sysctl hw.snd.default_unit=2
    sysctl hw.snd.default_auto=2

    Now when boot completes pcm2 is set to my default and sound "just works" and sndstat shows pcm2 as the default.

    I found ACPI support has some weirdness as ACPI support often does. What I found was that Suspend works from console, but resume doesn't... HOWEVER After I start X ACPI suspend and resume work just fine. Normally I prefer to boot into a console and only start X if I really need it, but because I want suspend and resume to work "by default" I've enabled X to start at boot by allowing the xdm console in /etc/ttys.

    But this had one last issue. See, when manually starting X, I added the -dpi 143 option to get graphics and text to be appropriately sized for my screen. XDM needed to know about this.

    This probably wasn't the best place to do it, but I edited /usr/local/lib/X11/xdm/XServers and modified the call to X(7) to add the -dpi 143 option. Now when Xdm loads at start up, the DPI is set correctly.

    The function keys for adjusting the screen brightness don't work; however, xbacklight(1) works just fine. Similarly the volume keys don't work but I can adjust the volume quite easily with aumix(1).

    I've submitted my dmesg output to NYCBUG's dmesgd repository.

    I suppose I've posted this for two reasons. The first is so I have a record of how I eventually got these little things working in case I have to do it again. The second is in case anyone has similar issues with their hardware; if they happen to stumble upon this, it might give them some hints.

    [/unix] [permanent link]

    08 Jun 2016

    Megapath sucks
    Speakeasy was by far the best ISP I ever dealt with. Freindly, and above all, knowledgeable. Since they have been purchased by Megapath then merged into Global Capacity, their tech support has been, frankly a bunch of idiots. Furthermore, their website routinely has "Service failed" errors that prevent you from logging in, changing passwords, and viewing account information.

    Today, after being unable to log in to the website due to "service failed" the tech support rep on the phoned didn't understand what a subnet mask or gateway address were. Eventually I just got her to read me "all three IP addresses" on the screen in front of her.

    But at this point my only other option is Verizon. So I'm sticking with Megapath.

    [/musings] [permanent link]