Thursday, April 29, 2010

Knittin' Crap: Lemon Shark Errata

Last year, Howie Woo posted a proposed correction to the Wikipedia entry for lemon sharks.

Sadly, and as much as I love his work, it pains me to say this, but Howie got it wrong.

This is what a real lemon shark looks like:*
Lemon Shark  Lemon Shark

*Well, if you made one in inappropriate yarn because it was the only lemon-yellow yarn you had around, and that Wikipedia correction just could not wait!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Whiteboard Jungle: You Have Too Much Mail

I've given up on Mac Mail. It would just choke on the volume of messages I had. I could watch the wheels spinning in the activity monitor window, but nothing would actually be happening, and it was frequently freezing. I'd run tcpdump to watch the network traffic and Mail wasn't even actively communicating with the server. I'd have to kill it manually, and of course since it hadn't synced the changes, I would have to start all over again. Screw that. Now I'm trying Thunderbird (but still running iCal, which will work with DavMail for Exchange synchronization, which Thunderbird's Lightning plug-in won't do). Yes, it also has its annoyances, but it can keep up with the volume of mail. And at least I can dream that some of the more egregious deficiencies may eventually be either fixed or addressed by plug-ins. (Dude, why no regular expressions in filter definitions? Hello?)

I actually run Evolution at home for one of my personal accounts, which, of course, is virtually no-volume in comparison to work. Evolution apparently even has Exchange calendar support, but even with MacPorts, I can't see installing and running a heavy-weight Gnome application under OSuX. However, annoyance is the great motivator. Who knows. (On start up on my FreeBSD box, the thing is already sucking over 200Mb of RAM. I suppose I should look to see what Mail's and Thunderbird's footprints are like. (Dainty like Cinderella or more like a T Rex?))

Oooh, I've never done a heavy-duty filter in Evolution, but apparently it supports regular expressions! Hmmm... Ok, the next time Thunderbird annoys me, I'm installing Evolution on the MacBook.

Wait, noooooooo! There's no MacPort for Evolution!!!! Oh, wait, Novell offers their own installer directly! Wheee!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Why Don't They Just...?

As part of a new, intermittently-recurring series, I bring you...

Why Don't They Just....?

Because "common sense" is an oxymoron!

Yet again this week, airline passengers had to restrain a nut job using seatbelts and plastic handcuffs, and even then had difficulty keeping him in check. So, what I want to know is...

Why don't airliners just carry a roll of duct tape as a matter of course?

Friday, April 23, 2010

News: The Geek, The Bad, and The Dumbass

The Geek:

The Bad:

The Dumbass:

Whiteboard Jungle: More on Mail

At first I thought my work MacBook Pro had OSuX 10.5 (Leopard) on it because it was an older model. Someone else in my group had managed to get a brand-new model, which would have shipped with 10.6 (Snow Leopard), though, so I asked him how the Exchange integration in Mail and iCal was under 10.6 . We checked. He didn't have Snow Leopard. He had plain ol' Leopard. Turns out Snow Leopard hasn't been approved for internal use yet for some rather questionable reasons, so he got the official 10.5 image. (Word on the street is that a new image will be available next month. No, I am most definitely not going to shell out $29 to Apple to pay for the upgrade myself in the interim.)

You may ask, why is this mail issue so important? Well, because yesterday morning I woke up to a notice in my mailbox that I was close to my 2Gb mailbox limit. Did I mention I've been there 2 ½ weeks? Of course, it's not like I will need to read every single message, as the vast majority are automatically-generated notices, most of which can also be deleted immediately or need, at most, a retention period of a day or two, just in case. I am getting a better idea of which emails fall into which categories, but my rules and so forth are still requiring tuning. But anyway, yes, that adds up to probably about 5000+ emails a week. And that, dear readers, is why I am acutely sensitive to crappy mail programs.

Also this week, I had to fly to the Bay Area for the day. I learned that I am exquisitely allergic to Silicon Valley in the spring. My nose would not stop running. I thought I was going to drown.

Also in the news: I used IRC today for the first time since I was a frosh. It made me feel... dirty.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spoonerisms: The Furminator

Clump of Spoon Spoon sheds more than any cat I have ever known. It's crazy. Super-mega-fuzzy-50%-fur-by-volume Pandora didn't shed this much. I even asked the vet about it and she said it may be toward the edge of the bell curve, but it's not unheard of. It's not like he's going bald. Of course, because his fur is mostly white, and because there's also some quality to it that makes it stick to everything (it doesn't feel "sticky" -- it's actually quite satiny smooth to pet him), his fur is everywhere. I probably have a hairball stewing in my gut as I type, in fact.

A year or so ago, I bought a special brush called a Furminator, which is actually really good at grabbing all the loose fur from his coat before he leaves it elsewhere. Spoon doesn't exactly like it, though. In fact, he has a rather ambivalent reaction. He likes the attention and full-body rub aspect, but he doesn't actually like the feeling of the thing through his fur or across his skin. He doesn't fight it, but he'll generally end up standing up and walk a foot away from me or something like that.

Since I've gone back to work, though, he's willing to put up with a lot more just to get some snuggle time. And since it's also shedding season, I took the opportunity the other evening to do some major furminating when he got up on the couch with me and nestled in. That wad in the picture is from about 5 minutes of work (including short breaks while he re-arranged himself regularly, all while maintaining physical contact) and I didn't even get anywhere near his belly.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Other: Ditching Detourage

Of course, last week I bitched about what a piece of crap Microsoft Entourage is. Today I actually found something which might make it possible for me to get the full Exchange calendar functionality, including checking invitee availability, while still using Mac Mail and Ical. It is this absurdly-klugey-to-set-up app called DavMail, but after a couple hours tinkering with it, I think it actually works. At least part of the time anyway.

Now I just need to re-do all my rules in Mail, which actually kind of sucks since it doesn't look like its logic is any better than Entourage's. But at least it has real threading. Sort of. I just get far, far too much mail at work to deal with a half-assed mail client. Let alone a one-sixteenth-assed mail client like Entourage.

Friday, April 16, 2010

News: All in Fun

I've found a bunch of funny and cute things over the past few days and thought I'd make a warm'n'fuzzy news round-up.

Toaster & Waffles Wallpaper 1280x800 • First off, what killed me about this WooWork story about a waffle fire was the flying toaster screensaver homage. I had totally forgotten about it! That last Mac(Plus maybe?) I had in college as a desktop, that was the screensaver. But on my MacBook Pro, there are no airborne toasters to be found! But then I watched the post's making-of video. He used "stunt waffles!"

• XKCD nailed geek pain:

• Yes, the Library of Congress is going to keep an archive of every tweet ever sent on Twitter. (Ok, that's not very warm or fuzzy, is it? Sorry.) Well, to put it in a positive light, there's got to be at least one tweet with more literary value than anything Dan Brown ever wrote. Not saying much, is it?

• My new motto:
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

• Why haven't we found aliens yet, after years of scanning the skies? Why, because they're all too busy playing video games to try to contact us! If they only knew what a great game World of Warcraft is, they'd be here in a heartbeat! (Um, only a little sarcasm there, honestly. Seriously. Well, not really.)

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
• Crap, now I'm going to be wondering what the hell Spoon is chattering about at 3 in the morning.

• You probably don't want to click this link. (This is what a product marketed by Paris Hilton for pre-pubescent girls would look like, I swear.)

• This must be where the Man-Eating Cow went when she retired from battling The Tick! (She was my favorite character...)

"Mark Fiore can win a Pulitzer Prize, but he can’t get his iPhone cartoon app past Apple’s satire police"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Other: Why Microsoft Entourage Sucks Major Ass

I have to use Microsoft Entourage at work for my email. Well, strictly speaking, I don't have to. But while Mac's Mail and Mozilla's Thunderbird are options, neither can talk to the Exchange server to get calendar data for my co-workers so I can see their schedules when trying to fit stuff in. (I'd love it if someone told me I was wrong.) And it's not worth having Entourage open for calendar stuff but reading all my emails in another app. So, here's my list of why Entourage is crap:
  • Threading. It says it has threading, but bunching messages together by Subject is NOT threading! True threading would be to read the In-Reply-To: message header to find parent-child relationships. That's what the header is there for and why it's in the 28-whopping-year-old RFC 822. Then again, Microsoft has proven again and again that they're just too special (and I mean rides-the-short-bus special) to adhere to Internet standards. Dumbasses.
  • Rules. Don't get me started on Rules. Ok, yes, I need these two conditions always to be true, but in addition, I only need one of these two conditions here to be true. Nope, can't group that way for logic. That would require to much programming on their end. And I would really like to flag all messages with a calendar invite. That seems like a logical condition for a client meant to be used with Microsoft Exchange. Nope. The best I could come up with was to search for the Content-class header and see if it had a calendaritem. I'm not even sure that's bullet-proof.
  • The spam filter is moronic. Um, Microsoft, you do realize that it's really easy for spammers to plagiarize the From address? (I won't even bother asking if they can check the Received: header for the "from" host.) Look, I don't know what the hell they use to check for spam, but since they don't seem to be querying spam blacklists from the Internet, it's just useless. I spent forever marking spam in my good folders and unmarking legitimate messages in the Spam folder.
Ok, those are the main three, the ones that just scream "stupid, lame, and lazy." But they're also annoying and time-wasting, and other mail clients have gotten it right, or at least significantly better, so Microsoft has no excuse.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

News: Facepalm Headache

Car stuff:

This is too true:

Fakebook crap:


Awesome of the Week:

Dumbass of the Week!
  • A modern-day snake oil informercial "star" was thrown in jail on contempt charges after telling his fans (morons, all, I'm sure) to email the judge in his current (and there have been many) civil case. Now, who hasn't wished they could throw a spammer in the slammer? And this guy is as slimy as can be. Snake oil will do that do you.

Just plain sad:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Whiteboard Jungle: My Week

I just finished my first week at my new job. Yes, I am once again gainfully employed. This time I'm at a large Internet company. Of course, they tend to take it easy on you the first week, and you're mostly dealing with new hire bureaucracy, but I'm feeling good about it so far.
  • Commute is easy, less than an hour each way by bus.
  • Fridays are generally telecommuted.
  • The things I'll be doing are somewhat different from my past jobs, even though some of the skill set is the same. I'd been getting bored with the same-old systems stuff after all those years. While there were always new technologies to learn, and I liked that, it was also a lot of monotony.
  • The engineers actually seem to get respect, rather than being treated like interchangeable automatons. (Not that I'm, uh, saying things weren't that way, at, oh, a place I may have fled in recent memory.)
So, I'm pretty excited. There is one thing that bothers me, though. My laptop is a MacBook Pro. While many people are envious, I had barely touched a Mac (at least not for more than 2 minutes) in, oh, almost 20 years.1 "But Karen, Mac OSuX is based on Unix!" "Yeah, then I'd rather just be running real FreeBSD. No self-respecting OS builds in a GUI!"

Yeah, the multimedia stuff is nice, but I'm not a computer illiterate and I actually like being able to go in and tweak low-level things by hand, without a GUI dictating what I can and cannot do. At least we do have VMware Fusion, so I can and will have some Linux and FreeBSD virtual machines as those are the main platforms I'll need for development and testing, but they're still limited by what is my biggest complaint about Macs: Why the hell haven't they built in the second (let alone third) mouse button????2

P.S. And I had to turn off those damned bouncing icons. The Yahoo! Messenger smiley face kept looking like it was mocking me somehow.

1The only real exception being at my job at a computer animation company about 10 years ago. Mac OSuX was in, well, basically alpha, but as they were porting animation software to it, we were "testing" it. I'm not even going to go into the brokenness of the most basic things. (Ok, for starters, the loopback network interface was broken. Alpha-release or not, how the hell do you show a Unix-like OS to anyone without the loopback interface working? (For computer illiterates, you don't unless you don't expect the computer to do, well, anything, even if you don't expect it to talk to other computers.)) Um, yeah. What a headache.
2Yes, I know there are ways to simulate a right-button click on the touchpad, but that's a pain in the ass. Many Apple cultists refuse to admit it, but Steve Jobs is as dictatorial about how we will use his computers/phones/toys as Microsoft. If not moreso.

Spoonerisms: More Siamese Tails

Tiger, patriarch of several generations of my family's cats
Earlier I wrote about the genetics of Siamese cats. While I certainly should have known if I'd spent more time thinking about it, I'd always seen the Siamese breed as, well, existing because of one gene. Which is absurd thinking, even if I was a biology major for only 5 minutes, give or take a year. I'd grown up with Siamese cats, and I think it's probably one of those ideas from childhood, beliefs that you acquire while young and never really give much thought to later, even though you subconsciously know it's false. They have a set of traits, but of course those traits are spread across multiple genes, and, particularly if there's even one non-Siamese cat in their recent ancestry, they may lack that trait.

My mother's Siamese is a standard apple-headed seal-point Siamese in almost all respects, except he has the wimpiest voice. Siamese tend to have a lower, throatier voice. Now, maybe his voice was, at least as much as cats are conscious of their behavior, a conscious decision made because that's the voice that gets him the most attention. Who knows?

On the other hand, while Dipity with her tabby stripes is far from being a pure Siamese, she has most of the standard traits, including the voice. Spoon is about 50% larger than she is and he has this completely wimpy, high voice. However, as I noted, while her head is vaguely apple-shaped, it's just not quite there. She does have the lanky oriental body type, though, with the very long, thin tail.

Anyway, I keep thinking back to the bit about a standard seal-point Siamese is really just a green-eyed, solid black cat. A single gene just keeps the color from developing normally. And Dipity, well, (to the old Transformers cartoon theme):
Dip'ty kitty
Tabby in disguise...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Knittin' Crap: Sharin' With Karen

MST3k Lives! Ravelry recently added a feature where project pages could be viewed by non-members. Up until now, you needed an account to browse other Ravelers' stuff, but now users have the option of allowing anyone to view a project with a special link or of making the page completely public and crawlable.

I'm starting with baby steps, though. You can give it a test run by checking out the project information for Brad's birthday present.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

News: A Few Items

Not as much has caught my eye in the past couple of weeks, but here are a few things:

It's All Facebook's Fault (Still):

Spoonerisms: Siamese Tails

Dipity Discovers Spoon's Chair While I knew Siamese cats get their coloration pattern from a mutation of melanin (actually, as I found out, it's tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in melanin production), I decided to do some more digging to find out about lynx-points like my Dipity. The short-lived biology major in me got excited about some of the things I found.

Basically, Siamese have partial albinism because of an ancestral recessive mutation in tyrosinase. The enzyme breaks down at higher body temperature, so areas like the belly don't produce melanin while cooler areas (the "points") do. A seal-point (the darkest coloring) is just a solid black cat, as far as the color genes are concerned. The black is incompletely expressed because of the broken pigmentation production. Furthermore, all Siamese have the partial-albino blue eyes because of the same mutation. Judging from the other oriental breeds which probably have a common ancestor, pure Siamese probably have genes for green eyes.

Now to the lynx-point. Tabbies aren't a breed, per se, although what constitutes a breed can be rather arbitrary. Their markings come from the combination of two genes. The first is an autosomal-dominant gene which alternates pigment production at various points of a hair's growth, resulting in the striped single hairs Dipity sheds on me. Solid-colored cats actually arose from a recessive mutation in the ticking gene. After all, domestic cats descend from striped and spotted wild cats. The tabby gene mixes these ticked hairs with solid hairs in the classic tabby patterns. These genes were bred into the Siamese line to produce lynx-points. Lynx-points would have to be at least 3/4 Siamese by breeding if bred from pure Siamese, though, since the Siamese melanin-deficiency comes from a recessive gene.

So that explains a lot. Dipity definitely has the partial albinism of a Siamese. She also has the voice and even slightly-crossed eyes. She, uh, seems to lack the typical Siamese intelligence, though, although she does have the sociable disposition. She's already occasionally attempting to be a lap cat, which usually starts in older cats in my experience. I'm not sure if her tendency to get into everything is due to Siamese curiosity as much as her youth. Her head isn't really either of the standard Siamese shapes (the "traditional" apple or the "modern" pointy triangle), though, more like a slightly flattened apple. But she's still super-cute!