log (2003/01/10 to 2003/01/16)

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Iris Chacon:

Thursday, January 16, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

So I called Apple Care about the iBook's DVD problem, and first they had me do some really neat but futile stuff involving holding down four-key combinations and typing commands into the Open Firmware console (which, from poking around the Web, is apparently a Forth interpreter, of all things!), but when the futile stuff turned out to be futile, he took my information and they're going to express me a box that I can use to express them the iBook to fix the drive.

I feel bad; not only will I we be without (and worrying about) the iBook for a week or whatever, but I've probably also chewed up most of Apple's profit margin on the thing. And I do want Apple to make money.

Sylloge's mention of this message about drawing inspired me to use the gift certificate that Dad got me for Christmas to buy myself The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (and the workbook), and The Zen of Seeing, all of which I think I don't currently have.

As though there was actually some chance I'll teach myself to draw in my copious free time sometime this decade! Well, one can dream.

Those didn't quite use up the gift certificate, so while I was there I also got Eno's Music for Airports to listen to while drawing (heh heh). Amazon must make a real pile off of gift certificates this way.

Multiply-amusing book title o' the day: Bad Girls of the Bible: Exploring Women of Questionable Virtue.

Blogspot considered harmful (to Communism):

BEIJING - China has blocked an Internet site used by more than one million people worldwide to post online diaries, known as blogs, both users and its developer said yesterday.

Following a chain of links, we find that despite their claims to the contrary, the Bush administration is actually very fond of cloning, at least in certain cases. (AOL Keyword: astroturf)

Is it really true that flourescent lamps are so hard to start that it's more energy efficient to just leave them on? Probably not.

On massless we find this rather cool weblog maintained by a primary Safari developer, about Safari development. Always neat to see real people doing interesting things talk about what they're doing. (That's this new OS X browser, not an expedition to kill large animals.)

And from there we find that jwz of ex-Netscape fame has a livejournal, and that he's still the same shy quiet guy that he always was. (I especially like "I'm not interested in your opinion. I'm not interested in explaining to you how you've completely missed the point of my post. I just don't care.")

Spam subject line o' the day:


Digital relatives; what will they think of next?

You won 1 Game Neverending.
xp +10000 Wow! It's over!
mood -200 Waah! It's over!
karma +200 WWW. It's over.

Yes, I won the Game Neverending the other night; not the first-order game (which doesn't have any win conditions), but the "GNE" that you can make (and win) within the GNE, once you have 10,000 making points and about nine million monetary units with which to buy the ingredients. Then I did it a couple more times, and then (figuring it was time for a change) I emptied all the items I'd accumulated in my house out into the street, announced a big "come and get it" potlach party, sold the house, and began wandering the virtual world as a propertyless (if not impoverished) wanderer.

It felt very liberating.

So (if I ever decide to give this log a different name, I think I'd call it "So") there are still a zillions pieces of reader input I want to post, and lots of books I want to talk about, and a few virus-donated image I want to show you, but they'll all have to wait.

Where does all the time go?

Wednesday, January 15, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

So this afternoon at work I was looking forward to a nice idle evening at home to write in the log, watch another episode of Bablyon 5, maybe do some email, cut some CDs, get to bed on time...

Then halfway through M and the little boy watching the Yellow Submarine DVD on the iBook, the system froze.

It was totally crashed; I had to force it to power off by holding down the power button for N seconds, something I don't think I've had to do before. And now it won't play DVDs usefully anymore.

Well, I won't trouble you with the whole story; you can read it here. Summary: looks like a hardware problem, sigh. So anyway now I've stayed up late trying to get some of those things that I was looking forward to done, despite having used up all the nice idle time struggling with the hardware.


You probably already know about the Supreme Court's sad mistake. Lessig's blog entry is very touching, and also contains useful links to his copies of the decision and the dissents (which I haven't had time to read yet myself).

Spam subject line o' the day: "Here's how you can be one in record time".

"Bush outlined his administration's plan for the crisis in North Korea, which includes maintaining an open dialogue with Pyongyang and deploying massive troops and materiel to the Gulf region."

Mac-related quote o' the day: "Apple's Pro Keyboard is like something out of Kubrick’s 2001: clean, sterile, futuristic. Every model but ours. Ours has a dead moth in it."

And I did update the list, so you can make up for the small size of today's entry here by going other places and reading their words there.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

So rather than pussy-footing about (isn't that great? "pussy-footing about"), let's get straight to the complaining about technical support.

Sometime over the weekend, the DSL line at home suddenly went out. The router reported, when I went and poked at its web interface, that it "could not connect to the PPPoE server". All the modem's normal lights were on, so (it claimed) it was having no trouble.

For some reason I leapt to the conclusion that this was probably a problem upstream (at, say, the PPPoE server). So I took the router out of the circuit and plugged the modem and the Win98 machine directly together (that being the only Supported Configuration), ran a quick pppdtect to make sure that that couldn't contact the server either (and it couldn't), and then I called technical support, expecting to be told that something was down, and that it would be up again sometime.

Much to my surprise, I was told that in fact there were no known network problems, and that I should start pushing certain buttons in Windows. So I quickly installed the PPPoE drivers into the Win98 machine (after admitting to the support guy that I hadn't done this), and we verified that it still didn't work.

He had me read him various Windows TCP/IP settings, and then turn on the (I think entirely irrelevant) "Compress packet headers" checky box and reboot. It still didn't work.

I told him that I thought it was unlikely to be a problem with the Windows box, since the router had had exactly the same problem. There was a bit of a pause.

"You could have a corrupted TCP/IP stack," he said.

There was a somewhat longer pause, this time at my end. Then I explained that the Windows box and the router were two physically distinct boxes, with two different TCP/IP implementations, and it would be quite a coincidence if both stacks had gone bad at the same time. There was a very long pause.

"The next thing to do," he said, "is to uninstall all of your Windows networking components, and then install them again. Do you have your Windows CD?"

Tempted as I was to explain about the router and the Windows box yet a third time, I instead said that I didn't think I exactly had a Windows CD, since this machine had come preloaded, and all the CABs were on the hard disk.

"Well, you really need that CD," he said.

"I'll look around for it and call you back," I said, jumping at the chance to get off the phone.

Rather than reinstalling Windows, I decided to see if it was perhaps the modem, so I got the spare DSL modem up from the basement (did I mention that after pushing them so hard back in March to replace the bad modem they'd sent me, they did in fact eventually send two?), unplugged the usual one, and plugged the new one in. And everything worked!

"Hm, wait a minute," I thought, and unplugged the new one and plugged the usual one in again, and everything still worked. So I called them back and told them they could close the ticket.

It's odd that they don't have "tell the customer to power their modem off and on again" somewhere above "tell the customer to reinstall big parts of the operating system" on their List of Things to Make the Customer Do.

(It's also odd that I didn't think to try that before I even called them, sheesh.)

Now you might wonder why a modem would need to be turned off and on again; fortunately, the experts have the answer. I found a page the other day (and, frustratingly, can't find it today) that explains that modern modems use error correction, and over time the errors build up.

(Presumably powering off the modem allows the errors to seep out; I'd think you'd have to be careful to hold the modem like over the sink or something afterwards, to avoid getting errors all over the floor.)

And no, the DSL problems aren't why I haven't posted for the last few days. I'm just lazy.

A spammer writes:

Could you please be so kind as to click on renew for information on renewing your listings in the TopSites-us directory listing by Monday, January 20, if you do not mind? If you cannot access the Internet, let me know and I will renew your listings for you. Your listings only cost US $5 a month.

Isn't that a great deal? Only US $5 a month! I'm not clear how people who cannot access the Internet are going to get the email, though.

X11 for OS X, from Apple itself. I should like install that or something.

And speaking of Apple,

Burton Snowboards and Apple today unveiled the limited-edition Burton Amp, the world's first and only wearable electronic jacket with an integrated "Pod" control system.

Spam subject line o' the day:

Number one FREE paysite...

From gorjuss, we have Rip, Mix, Burn: The Politics of Peer to Peer and Copyright Law, and a database of OS X applications, some of which I should probably also install.

(I notice that iTunes and the iPod now support audible.com audio files. But I don't think that's going to be enough to get me to buy an iPoD.)

More on the "fat's not bad for you" meme: Weighting Game (if it wants you to log in, try 'metababy' for both username and password):

While having a sedentary lifestyle or a lousy diet -- both factors, of course, that can contribute to being overweight -- do pose health risks, there's virtually no evidence that being fat, in and of itself, is at all bad for you.

From a BoingBoing guest bar, here's a weblog from deep in the heart of the porn biz. Worth reading if you're interested in that subculture at all.

Some good news: we were unknowingly wrong when we reported the other month that Avenue Victor Hugo Books was leaving Newbury Street in Boston; turns out that they're actually relocating to a different place on the same street. Which is good; we figured they were probably just Going Away Entirely.

Bush is not a Nazi, so stop saying that.

So, did the Chinese actually discover America before Columbus? Salon isn't convinced.

I need to update the list. I'm sure there are obsolete things on it that I don't actually read anymore, and I want to add William Gibson and the Jenn / amptoons / Kip Manley ontogroup, as well as at least one good philosophy-related blog that I've stumbled across from there.

Hm, maybe some of those law-related blogs that I found the other week also.


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