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Monday, September 27, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

So in the true weblog spirit, I'll just dump my scrawled notes from today upon you, with a few redactions to avoid airing any Court or IBM laundry:

Gad, I hate being torn. So I'm on call for Jury Duty in September, and they haven't wanted me to come in until today. I was first called back in June or sometime, but it was really bad timing at work, and when I told them that they let me reschedule for Sept. It's been very nice not having to come in, but now here I am. I could (or could have, it's too late now I think) beg hardship at work again, and I think they'd probably defer me again, but that'd mean another month of (at least) uncertainty about whether or not I'd be around. Or I could (as I have done) just placidly turned in my forms, meaning that I'm okay to serve. Best case there is that I only have to come in today, and then they're done with the judicial month and I can go in the rest of the week. Worst likely case is that I have to come in today and the rest of September (and I of course don't get empanelled, because lawyers selecting for petit juries don't take people like me). That's actually pretty bad, because it means missing the [redacted] review day and the [redacted], sigh. But it also means that I don't have to worry about Jury Duty for another few years. Sigh. (The extreme case, of course, is that I get empanelled; not sure if that's "worst" or what; it'd be interesting if nothing else.)

This jury room is run SO badly! Or maybe I just have a different objective function. The guy with the microphone has to say the same thing over and over and over and over for the people who come in late or weren't listening the first time. They should just have it posted in huge letters behind him. In fact as I recall back in June or whenever, they DID have it posted on the wall behind him, in the form of a projection screen with a looping slideshow saying all the FAQs and instructions and stuff. Dunno why that's not there today; maybe Windows crashed, heh heh.


Some of the people in this room (the ones that got the unluckier telephone numbers, apparently) have been coming in before (all month?). The guy in the front is saying things in passing about his being "the last day" for "most of you". I wish they'd give us the details, how likely it is that it's the last day for each of us, for the newcomers who only came here for the first time on the 27th and are hoping that this is It for the month (the four years). But that'd make it too easy to game the system, by figuring out how little one can get away with serving, and deferring when that calculation suggest it's optimal. Whereas all of us sitting here are trying our bests to game the system (with all of our different objective functions). I wonder if the Court really benefits from making it harder for us to succeed, and if the Court knows that that's what it's doing (or if instead it just has a vague sense that you don't want to tell the jurors too much about what's going on for some reason), and in fact of course if that's actually what they're doing (intentionally or just in practice).


Well, that was entertaining! I went upstairs and was one of 35 folks voir dire'd for [redacted] v. [redacted]. I tentatively raised my hand at the penultimate question, when the judge talked about how we only get to try the fact, and she gets to feed us the law. She took down my name, but they never called me in to talk about it; I was just not one of the eight actually chosen. And now it looks like I'm all done! I think...


Yep, here I am back at work! And I have a little paper that should let me fend off jury summonses for like four years. Cool.

That was originally typed into my private notes to myself file (which very rarely gets added to these days what with the weblog and all). But I figured it was nearly presentable enough to expose. I'm sure there are some embarassing misuses of big words like "empanelled", but I'll live it down somehow. *8)

The reason I raised my hand for the judge's penultimate question (the ultimate question being "does anyone have anything else that concerns them" or equivalent) was of course that there's good reason to think that the judge is mistaken when she says we juries are only allowed to decide about the facts, not about the law; see our previous discussions and passing references to jury nullification (google can find it at least as well as I can).

It probably wouldn't have come up in this particular case (a civil suit about whether or not an auto insurance company has to pay a claim that was filed some time after the accident, and in which they apparently believe that the plaintiff wasn't seriously injured in the accident anyway), but I thought I should at least mention my opinions on the subject, since they're a matter of public record here in the ol' weblog. I composed all sortsa nice rational-sounding explanations for having raised my hand while we were waiting around out in the lobby, but I never had to use them.

Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet (link from gorjuss).

Opera 7 has these new "rewind" and "fast forward" buttons for viewing porn pages with multiple links to images, and sites that use the "link rel=next" tags. I'm thinking of adding rel-prev and rel-next link-tags to the log pages here, but I'm slightly confused about how they should run. Should "next" point forward in time, and "prev" backwards? That sounds right; on the other hand a weblog is canonically in reverse-chron order, which suggests that "next" should go backward in time.

So I must think on this.

Sunday, September 26, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

Heh, only two entries last week, I see. I should make a chart of entries per week versus time, to show how lazy and/or busy I've been getting. But of course I'm too lazy and/or busy. *8)

(Or maybe I'm just resting on my laurels after a lovely compliment from Caterina. I love weblogs, too.)

It was my birthday last week (I'm older now), and the big things I got were an Airport Express (so now we can stream music to the stereo from the iBooks wirelessly, which is cool) and a Gameboy Advance SP and a copy of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Those last two were the kids' suggestion (not that they were tired of my always borrowing theirs, like you smart-alecs out there invariably suggest at this point in the conversation, but just because they thought I'd like them).

So I've been immersed in FFTA some, and I've also started FFX-2, which despite being in basically the same world as FFX and with basically the same characters, has (at least so far) a very different feel. Sort of like FFX crossed with Sailor Moon; an all-girl main party, and lots of dancing and mid-battle changes of clothing and so on. Silly, but colorful.

What else? I tried out Opera 7 again. The last time I tried it, two years ago, I gave up when I couldn't get mousescrolling to work on the Thinkpad here. I downloaded the latest, and it still didn't work, but this time I was more persistent (Opera 6's CSS support is really showing its age), and I found the answer. Here's what I did, for all you Google searchers:

  • Installed the utterly latest UltraNav TrackPoint driver from ibm.com (look it up in Google); I don't actually know if this was required.
  • In "\program files\synaptics\synTP\tp4table.dat", I added
    ; Opera 7
    at the start of the data section, before the first existing similar paragraph. (I think this was the key step; lots of Web pages advertise this as the solution, although they say that the tp4table.dat file will be in the System32 directory, which it isn't.)
  • In "\program files\synaptics\synTP\syntpenh.ini", I added
    WT = "*opera*"
    SF = 0x10000000
    SF ¦= 0x00004000
    above the existing section that starts with [opera Browser]. This may not have been necessary either, or it may only have been necessary to enable scrolling with the touchpad (which I never use), or whatever. (Note added 2005/04/05: anyone using this advice should be careful not to get the wrong vertical bar in the "¦=" above. It should be the not-very-broken bar, as in the other similar lines in the file, not the quite-broken bar that you're likely to get if you simply cut and paste from this page. Using the wrong bar can cause mousescrolling to fail entirely without any sort of error message or other hint!)
  • Rebooted (or, as they say these days "shut down and restarted").

And then I fiddled around extensively with the skinning and the toolbars and stuff to get it to look at much like my Opera 6 setup as reasonable, and now I'm happily using it as my primary browser without having to apologize to myself about the formatting on various modern pages. (I also added a note as to where I'd found the magical tp4table.dat file to the Tips page on, what else, the Opera 7 Wiki.)

So that was fun. (Fiddling with random bits of tech is always fun when it works; folding the Airport Express into the existing house network also went marvelously easily.)

I was getting complacent about the court not wanting me to come down for my Jury Duty all month so far; but on Friday afternoon the message said that all jurors have to come in Monday (that's tomorrow) morning. No cellphones or cameras, but computers are apparently okay.

I'm hoping that just one case has shown up, and either it'll settle by lunchtime, or they'll empanel one jury without me on it and send the rest of us home. Next week would not be a wonderful week to be out, work-wise.

Subject: Don't pass on this, ok? nosebag

Who you callin' "nosebag", hackamore?

Speaking of loving weblogs, I will forward along the praise. Fafblog (the whole worlds only source for fafblog) is not only a great political satirist (or whatever that is), but also an expert on just random luncay. Ref noontime in the desert of things:

"Greetings, Kings!" says Giblets. "Giblets raises this cactus to you in toast to Giblets!" "I need peanuts," says the tuba.

So there was this big froo-faw about how certain popular bicycle locks could be opened with the twist of a Bic pen, and there have been wise words written about the public disclosure issues and all, but I haven't seen any actual explanation.

How can it be possible to open a fancy expensive lock with the twist of a Bic pen? What interesting thing about lock design and function could we learn if only we knew how that mistake was made? Did two halves of the design team each think that the other was in charge of making sure that Cylinder Q couldn't be turned from the outside? Or...?

On SlashDot the other day or week or whatever, Libertarian Presidential Candidate Michael Badnarik Answers some questions written down for him by some slashdotters. He sounds pretty rational, too. I wish I were voting for him in the usual way; but this year it looks like every vote might matter ("matter"), even in New York.

On a lighter note a neighbor who has a small retail business in town wants to know how she goes about building a website for it. I can give her a little tutorial about how the Web actually works, and show her how to do it if she wants to use enter the HTML by hand and FTP it to a raw web-hosting service, but I think she's probably a bit saner than that. I can give her pointers to some Web design software or services, but I've never used any of them myself.

So can any of y'all readers recommend a good value-added web-hosting service and/or software tool that can help a smart but non-geeky person put up a nice website about her business (probably just informational to start with, but maybe with online reservations and ordering sorts of things later), for a relatively small amount of money? Write me or just type in the input box over to the left-top of the page there, if you have any good advice...

And that's all, really. Crickets outside, the coolnesses and smells of Autumn gradually showing up among the grass and the twilights, the soft feeping of computer games from other parts of the house, and somewhere out there an elderly scientist has just endowed a planet-sized collection of circular mirrors on springs with the first glimmerings of self-awareness. Happy Cosmas and Damian Day, and a big shout-out to all you physicians, apothecaries, hairdressers, and what-not.


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