Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Hmm... Blogger doesn't seem to be able to tolerate a literal backslash... you have to use \


Some classic LOOT-related ASCII art by Big Don, and parodies by others.

      _ L-O-O-O-O-T...loot-loot...LOOOOOOOOO-O-O-O-O-T
  /              Tacomans HOOTin' YIPPin' SHUCKin' and JIVin'
o_II_-__-__-----____________ ----------------/========================\
 I_________I__I I  PS8Scum  I I  LOOTers  I I  Mobile Needle Exchange I

Only one day later, in the same thread, all-uppercase LOOT makes its appearance!

Re: The Death Spiral of Urban Transit: How to Avoid?

Nope, this one is even older. At this point they were still just quoting from magazine articles and "LOOT!!!" has yet to become a household phrase.
A new train stop tucked in the trees...would let Linthicum remain a small town while giving its people easy access to the shops, culture, and jobs of nearby Baltimore
Note that if you get all of your preconceptions about Baltimore from John Waters movies, that sentence alone is pretty hilarious.

Baltimore light rail -- does it serve BWI airport?

The oldest thread I could find in m.t.u-t that mentions "loot" (lower case).

Newbie asks, What is LOOT?

Discussion from m.t.u-t which is cited in the FAQ posted earlier.

Includes at least one non-native-English-speaker for whom "LOOT Rail" was the first time he found out that English had such a word as "loot". Someone looks up the word in a "Digital Webster" program and pastes in the definition. It appears that even as late as 1995 there weren't any good, free dictionary websites?

Sandy Smith's Home Page

This is the "Exile on Market Street" famous from newgroups such as misc.transport.road and misc.transport.urban-transit.


If you read misc.transport.urban-transit, you probably know all about "LOOT rail".

Monday, September 29, 2003

On Our Last Date (Lost His Love) - Floyd Cramer / Conway Twitty

Just one of a number of pages that have MIDI versions of this song. Warning: the MIDI is the "background" music for this page. If you hate pages with embedded music and would rather just download the MIDI file itself, here's a direct link. Because of Geocities no-offsite-media-linking policy, that link doesn't actually work unless you've already viewed the web page (at least for a second or two) and therefore have the MIDI file in your cache.

This page has lyrics, even though Floyd Cramer's famous version was an instrumental. It appears that several other artists have recorded it with vocals, including Conway Twitty (possibly who wrote the lyrics) and Emmylou Harris.

I also have no idea whether that is a picture of this page's author, or just some clip art.

Cross-Referenced Linux Source Code

Another link I'm always losing.

Nathaniel S. Borenstein

Personal website of the father of MIME.

Linux MAN Pages - Linux Documentation with Search

Blogging this because I'm always needing to know the syntax of *nix commands without having a system on which I can actually run man(1).

MAG tailcap switch

via Gammatron.

At first I read this as "Mailcap Tag Switch", and thought that it must have something to do with HTML email. Nope, this really is a page about making modifications to flashlights.

I heard Floyd Cramer's "Last Date" on the radio yesterday. I am convinced that this is as close as you can get to a musical source for Weird Al Kankovic's non-parody "One More Minute". The verse music is different, but the chorus is eerily similar. "Last Date" also sounds a lot like "You Can't Always Get What You Want". Lots of web sites have MIDI versions, some of which actually do a somewhat good job of capturing Cramer's piano technique.

Google Groups: View Thread "Al rules! (was Re: One More Minute, Tune?)"
A Usenet thread from 1990 about which Weird Al songs are parodies and which are originals. One of the interesting things about reading discussions this old is that there were no web sites for these folks to go look up information before posting. If you didn't know something, and didn't have time to leave your computer and go look it up in a book, you either had to admit your ignorance or show it by guessing.

Friday, September 19, 2003

The Airliner Gallery

"The World's Favourite Airliners"

This morning I heard a traffic reporter announce that an accident had occurred on "Donald Lee Hollwell Parkway also known as Bankhead Highway". Atlanta, this is why we shouldn't go so crazy with renaming the streets. They can't say "Bankhead Highway" because that's not what the street signs say now. They also can't just say "Hollowell Parkway" because too many people still don't know that the name has changed. I wonder why they didn't rename the Bankhead MARTA station too, like they did with Hightower (now Hamilton Holmes).

I also learned recently that the current mania for renaming Atlanta's airport is nothing new. Before it was renamed after William B. Hartsfield, it was called Candler Field after Asa Candler of Coca-Cola (and Candler Park) fame. Do we really have to rename the airport every time a new generation of local leaders comes and goes?

Offline NT Password & Registry Editor

(via Slashdot) I remember using this thing back in like 1998 when I was a desktop tech.

Newest Network Pack

I've been getting a lot of fake "Microsoft Security Update" trojan/virus/worm/spam email this morning. I bet they fool a lot of people with this stuff. With the HTML (which contains images stolen from Microsoft) removed, the emails say:
X-Apparently-To: jeff_robertson@yahoo.com via; Fri, 19 Sep 2003 00:28:50 -0700
Return-Path: <inekeoosterdijk@energieservice.nl>
Received: from (EHLO smtpzilla5.xs4all.nl) ( by mta157.mail.sc5.yahoo.com with SMTP; Fri, 19 Sep 2003 00:28:48 -0700
Received: from vhmsnxro (213-84-168-101.adsl.xs4all.nl []) by smtpzilla5.xs4all.nl (8.12.9/8.12.9) with SMTP id h8J7SWAA014314; Fri, 19 Sep 2003 09:28:32 +0200 (CEST)
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2003 09:28:32 +0200 (CEST)
Message-Id: <200309190728.h8J7SWAA014314@smtpzilla5.xs4all.nl>
From: "MS Technical Services" <fyfkgz_wmoxn@updates.ms.com
To: "Customer" <edwbhoj.wsoksjxt@updates.ms.com>
Subject: Newest Network Pack
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary="ietmntfcqbebyzp"
Content-Length: 80081

Microsoft Customer

this is the latest version of security update, the "September 2003, Cumulative Patch" update which fixes all known security vulnerabilities affecting MS Internet Explorer, MS Outlook and MS Outlook Express as well as three newly discovered vulnerabilities. Install now to protect your computer. This update includes the functionality of all previously released patches.

Microsoft Product Support Services and Knowledge Base articles can be found on the Microsoft Technical Support web site. http://support.microsoft.com/

For security-related information about Microsoft products, please visit the Microsoft Security Advisor web site http://www.microsoft.com/security/

Thank you for using Microsoft products.

Please do not reply to this message. It was sent from an unmonitored e-mail address and we are unable to respond to any replies.

The names of the actual companies and products mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.
Copyright 2003 Microsoft Corporation.
There is an attachment called "installXX.exe" where XX is a two-digit number. Notice the use of "ms.com" for the fake email addresses. This domain is actual registered by Morgan Stanley. I bet a lot of people whose computers are infected by this will (falsely) blame Morgan Stanley. OTOH not all of the messages use "ms.com", I've seen other domains too.

Thursday, September 18, 2003


Alton Brown actually has a rants page with some interesting political commentary. Curiously, in spite of being "Powered by Blogger" it has no permalinks. No visible, clickable, bookmarkable permalinks, anyway. It does still have named anchors for the individual postings but you have to view source to see them. I don't know how permanent they are, but in any case the title of this posting contains a link to one of them so you can try it out.
I have now come to fear people wearing TSA badges almost as much as the bullies who used to torture me in grade school. Why? Because they can do anything their small, mean minds want to and there’s nothing you or I can do about it.

Food Network: Plain Brown Popper

Alton Brown's fancy jalapeno version of do-it-yourself microwave popcorn.

Interesting URL:

Most blogs and other frequently updated sites use the date as part of the URL. Apparently this recipe has been online for 26 years.

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

I do this all the time. You always burn a few, and not all of them pop, but it does work.

Struts Workflow Extension

Warning: work-related content again!
  • prevent the user from accidental double-submits, when hitting the browser's reload button
  • prevent the user from entering a sequence of actions in the middle, while you expect him to execute them in a pre-defined order (e. g. because you need to rely on session data that has been stored in previous actions)
  • support the implementation of generic action sequences that can be reused in various contexts (e. g. a confirmation dialog that can be used when the user is about to delete something as well as when he requests some other irreversible action)
  • cleaning up session attributes (e. g. removing session scope forms), when the user finishes or breaks out of a sequence of actions
  • prevent the user from breaking out of a sequence of actions you don't want him to (e. g. if you want him to answer a confirmation dialog with either "yes" or "no" and not allow him to leave it in a different way)

ColdFusion Java CFX Reference

Can't they just provide this in standard Javadoc format?

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

The Heat Miser's Hot Spot

Now I finally know where the name of Elliot Smith's old band came from!

(see also this page, which compares the Heat Miser to Bill Clinton)

(and this, with Don King!)

I've found that the most visible way to tell that Google has crawled over his page is to watch for when the ads change to reflect recent topics.

Slashdot | College Freshman Builds Fusion Reactor

At this point I have acknowledge that the last five or six links were due to reading this article on Slashdot.

John Logie Baird

JJohn Logie Baird is remembered as the inventor of mechanical television, radar and fiber optics. Successfully tested in a laboratory in late 1925 and unveiled with much fanfare in London in early 1926, mechanical television technology was quickly usurped by electronic television, the basis of modern video technology. Nonetheless, Baird's achievements, including making the first trans-Atlantic television transmission, were singular and critical scientific accomplishments. Lonely, driven, tireless and often poor, the native Scot defined the pioneering spirit of scientific inquiry

What happens to a Futurama newsgroup when Futurama stops?
It will slowly wither away and fill with nothing but spam. And eventually Service Providers will start dropping it from their Usenet Servers. Then it will be gone.

Something about this article makes me very, very, depressed.

Futurama's Who's Who?

The same Futurma page, courtesy of the Internet Archive. I still think that USENET is a better choice for immortal information.

Who's Who? In Futurama

The webpage appears to have died, this is the newsgroup posting.

Todays lesson: If you have some information that you want to outlive your ability to pay for your domain and webhosting, post it to USENET!


Welcome to the new home of the 'Fusor Forums.' This site is dedicated to a global discussion of fusion energy, as achieved in a device called 'The Fusor' that was first developed by Philo T. Farnsworth in the 1960s.

Fun with fusion: Freshman's nuclear fusion reactor has USU physics faculty in awe

Fun with fusion: Freshman's nuclear fusion reactor has USU physics faculty in awe: "Wallace, a baby-faced tennis player fresh out of Spanish Fork High School, had almost the entire physics faculty of Utah State University hovering (and arguing) over an apparatus he had cobbled together from parts salvaged from junk yards and charity drops"

The Web Surfers URL List

Found a reference to myself on this page, which appears to be a fairly early webblog. The oldest entries on this page don't even have dates (which I think, technically, makes it not a blog yet), so all I can tell is that I was blogged sometime before 4/7/95.

I can tell that this blog was once run off of Amdahl.com, which is now apparently part of Fujitsu.

U.S. Highways: From US 1 to (US 830)

Welcome to route56.com

Ahh, good ole Route56. The website devoted to pictures of trains, highways, and.. cheerleaders!

Amoco-Standards 1

Amoco's version of the Standard Oil logo.

The History of Standard Oil

roamer1.org - Atlanta Area Exchange History

Index of /roads/pix/standard-12-2001
Pictures of one of the few Chevron stations whose sign says "Standard" instead of "Chevron". Otherwise it is the normal Chevron logo.

Apparently the "baby Standard" oil companies operate at least one Standard station in each state, for reasons of trademark protection.

Road Map Collectors Association

SPUI's SPUI list

Groceteria.net: Did You Bring Bottles?

A website for supermarket history buffs. The site's maintainer appears to be particularly obsessed with Safeway.

Cathy Woolard, Atlanta City Council President -- Belt Line Transit

I still haven't found a map, other than what is briefly shown in a movie at this site. Oh, wait, there are maps inside this PDF.

ajc.com | Business | Connecting the dots
The Belt Line, as the project has come to be known, could use electric trolleys or rubber-tired flex trolleys to run on what are currently abandoned or unused rail beds ringing the city's intown neighborhoods.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

"Reversible Lanes: where do they still exist?"

The notorious reversible lane has struck fear in motorists for several decades, but they are not completely gone.
I can think of at least one in Atlanta that isn't mentioned here. DeKalb avenue is reversible between downtown Atlanta and Decatur. Something also makes me think that parts of Memorial Drive are reversible, but I'd have to drive it again to be sure.

Highway Kick-Off Page @ AARoads: Your Link to the Best Highways on the Web

Arizona Ghost Towns

As is explained in several of the links under this page, most of the real "ghost towns" have been destroyed either by landowners or by all the people trying to explore them.

Highway History

Official history page of the Federal Highway Administration.

Open Directory - Recreation: Roads and Highways: North America: United States

Highways highways everwhere and not a drop to drink.

Kurumi's Field Guide to Interchanges

misc.transport.road FAQ

Kurumi's Humble House of Roadsdom

I am about to start blogging some major roadgeek sites that I've know about for years. Using the blog as bookmarks, and all that sort of thing.

Reason: St. Martha

: Why Martha Stewart should go to heaven and the SEC should go to hell.
Filing this to read later.

The Highway Code

Highway signs from the UK.

Guillotine page1

Information about guillotines and how to build your own.

Monday, September 15, 2003

DRGs Available Free Online

This page was unlinked from the USGS DRG Web site on October 1, 2002 and is no longer maintained.

Federal Geographic Data Committee

The Geospatial Data Clearinghouse is a collection of over 250 spatial data servers, that have digital geographic data primarily for use in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), image processing systems, and other modelling software. These data collections can be searched through a single interface based on their descriptions, or "metadata."

Alabama Water Quality Information System - Digital Topo Maps

Scans of the USGS topographic maps for all the quads in Alabama.

The Mobile & Bay Shore RR HS

So much of this branch's history has been lost to the erosion of time, and this makes the task of documenting and organizing the remaining data so difficult. This is, after all, a railroad that has not seen activity for sixty years, longer than some of us in the society have been around. Few of us ever had the pleasure of seeing this road in operation, and most of us only know it by way of anecdotal memoirs of others -- it is, to us, more abstract than concrete.

The Online Lake Cryptid Directory

Sure, we've all heard of Nessie. But you didn't think she was the only one around, did you? Far from it! There are dozens and dozens of similar lake "monsters" around the world!

Chris Patriarca

More Tuscaloosa roadgeekery. Where were all these kinds of pages when I was in school at UA?

Two-Lane Roads Quarterly - Home Page

Two Lane Roads magazine features offbeat attractions, museums, funny signs, and other roadside delights, on America's backroads, recalling simpler days, when Burma Shave signs and steel diners lined our highways.

pictures from Maxwell Loop Road off of AL 69 South in Tuscaloosa County

I know, you're getting tired of these Beagle pages. I just can't stop! It rocks too much!

Psycho's Bridge?

Another Harv Beagle link. This one deserves its own blog entry. This is even better than the malfunction junction girl.

Pictures from and information on Alabama communities and highways

Digital video capture of highway signage, municipal and industrial water towers, urban decay, route terminii, maps, and unusual businesses, primarily in the American Southeast.
... and a whole lot in Tuscaloosa, Al.

This is one way into a collection of pages which apparently spans several different websites, all run by one Harv Beagle. Some other interesting pages which are (apparently) part of this same system:


(check out the picture at the bottom of that last page.. and what it links to!)

This is the kind of website that I can really get lost in. Literally. The navigation system (or lack thereof) leads you down lots of twisty passages. Every link on every page has the potential to take you someplace unexpected. If this was a serious website that I had to use for work, I would find all of this infuriating. But given the casual nature of my interest in this site, all of these "features" just make it feel big.. Like I'm only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Friday, September 12, 2003

CNN.com - 'Man in Black' Johnny Cash dead at 71 - Sep. 12, 2003

CNN.com - 'Man in Black' Johnny Cash dead at 71 - Sep. 12, 2003

Johnny Cash's music helped me for the first time to see value in a lot of things that I had previously rejected: Country music. Caring about the "poor and beaten down". Christianity.

The Register - Google to fix blog noise problem

It isn't clear if weblogs will be removed from the main search results, but precedent suggests they will be. After Google acquired Usenet groups from Deja.com, it developed a unique user interface and a refined search engine, and removed the groups from the main index. After a sticky start, Usenet veterans welcomed the new interface. Google recently acquired Blogger, and sources suggest this is the most likely option.

Resource Bundle Manager Tool

Another genuinely work-related entry.

OpenEJB -- Welcome

OpenEJB works like a big plug-in for middleware servers like Web servers, CORBA servers, and application servers. By plugging in OpenEJB these servers obtain instant EJB compliance for hosting Enterprise JavaBeans!

Apache Geronimo

Apache Geronimo is a new effort coordinated by the Apache Software Foundation to make a J2EE compatible container.

Aristotle's Error or Agile Smagile.

Going meta is the goal of any good scientist. The goal is to find the meta-rules that simplify the universe. Indeed, the fact that such meta-rules exist is one of the articles of scientific faith. However, there are disciplines to be followed. No meta-rule can stand simply on it's elegance. A meta-rule must be tested by experiment.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

FooWorks - Bill Joy's Resignation Letter


No, this isn't an animated image. The "spinning" wheels effect is visible even in this thumbnail and is actually painful to look at in the full-size version. I have no idea where Mike Ray got this thing.


a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to archive Web sites after their authors die and can no longer support them

AKMA - Mortal Musing

What happens if a blogger dies?

Dynamist Blog: IT'S ALL ONE WAR

American political discourse has literaly lost the words to describe what the "civilized world" has in common. We think "liberal" means Hillary Clinton

Last year on this day, half of the people at my office came to work as if dressed for a funeral. This year it's business casual as usual.

Reason - The Day Nothing Changed

What's striking to me about the two years since that atrocious morning, in comparison to the lesser crises from 1968-2000, is how little we've been asked—or forced—to do or change.

The reason I was looking for information about Star Wars sound effects was to try to find out what they did to the voices heard over the "radios". Think of situations like the X-wing squadron at Yavin. Ring modulation perhaps?

(I allegedly have a degree in music, including "electronic music" which includes stuff like synthesizers and DSP, but this kind of thing is shoved into deep storage in my brain, somewhere between calculus and how to cite sources in a term paper)

Anyway, my Compaq EVO makes a similar sound when it is thrashing really hard. Something about the hard drive, the case, or both gives a ringy quality to the normal disk "grinding" sound that makes me think of the SW sound.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

A List Apart: Using XHTML/CSS for an Effective SEO Campaign

Everyone loves rollover effects. Even my completely dimwitted grandmother likes it when an e-mail link rotates every time she hovers over it.
Before I even read the "about the author" section, I could tell that this was written by some bratty teenager. Kids have no respect for their elders these days.

Debugging Java code running inside WebSphere

Finally found the debugging stuff straight from IBM's mouth. I was only able find this by Googling for "startServer jdwpPort", which I would never know to search for unless I'd already solved my problem.

Debugging WebSphere Single-Server Edition

This was an email I sent at work. I am blogging it because it took me way too long to find this information, and I don't want it to get lost.

Almost all of the official IBM documentation that you can find only tells you how to debug Websphere applications with the IBM "Distributed Debugger". I wanted to be able to use any standard JPDA-compliant tool. In my particular case, NetBeans.

Run startserver.bat like this:

startserver -debug -jdwpPort portnum

for instance:

startserver -debug -jdwpPort 99999

Then you can connect to this port and set breakpoints and watches using the your favorite IDE (which I am not going to explain how to use since I don't know what IDE you use or how to set it up).

Dynamic Proxy Classes

I am blogging this because I plan to use it soon.

What's New, August 1994

Senator Edward Kennedy is the first member of the United States Senate to put up a WWW page.

UserLand.Com: The history of weblogs


Weblogs - What's A Blog?

Another blog-history essay. Contains some fun links to very early pages that are historical for the WWW itself, not just blogs.

Attributes a lot of information to Dave Winer, but doesn't provide deep links (that I can find) to any references, just a top-level link to Scripting News.
Dave Winer claims that the first weblog appeared in 1992. It also happened to be the first website, which was built by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN. It was really just a pointer to new sites as they came online. The content of this first website has been archived at the World Wide Web Consortium. According to Winer, the other two very early weblogs were NCSA's What's New page, and Netscape's What's New page.

Bring Saturday Supercade back on Tv! Petition

I sincerely hope this is a joke.

Update on the Mystery Disks

I finally got around to checking out the red-label Novell floppies I found in the laptop bag on my way to Chicago. Unfortunately they appear to have reformatted and overwritten. My employer has never been a Novell shop, so either the disks were part of someone's personal scratch disk collection, or they came from a customer's IT department. Either way, I'd like to see what other ancient stuff they probably have.

Overheard: "Man! NASCAR's gettin' just like the WWE!"

I don't follow either closely enough to know what prompted this statement or how true it might be. It will be interesting to see how this affects the Google banner ads here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Sound Design of Star Wars

A List Apart: Forgiving Browsers Considered Harmful

This (somewhat old) article is mostly interesting for the point it makes about why Wheel of Fortune is an improvement on Hangman.


Oracle, NT and Linux command reference

Why extends is evil

The extends keyword is evil; maybe not at the Charles Manson level, but bad enough that it should be shunned whenever possible.

That this applies in all OO languages, not just Java. Most languages do not have an explicit "interface" keyword like Java, but the distinction between classes and interfaces is inherent in OO.


Apparently the U.S. government gave up trying to get an actual .kids TLD established and just set up kids.us as a kid-safe zone of the web. Almost a year since the bill creating this was signed into law, a directory of all .kids.us sites is available. So far the only site listed is the Smithsonian.

NTIA - US Frequency Allocation Chart

PDF shows radio frequencies from up to 3 GHz.

Interview with Bill Joy

via Slashdot. From April 1984.
We went from printing terminals to dumb CRTs to smart CRTs, with tangents off toward storage display tube displays and black and white bitmaps. I think the days of even black and white bitmaps are very numbered. Color will take care of that. And then, with the demise of the last vacuum tube, which is the CRT, and with the advent of thin film transistors, which will be flat displays, it will all be color.

CIFS: Common Internet File System

(samba.org) Mostly interesting for the mailing list archives.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Fixed (I think) something in the stylesheet that made the main content inaccessible in IE6 except for the above-the-fold portion. IE would let you scroll as far down as there were archive links in the sidebar, but if the main content continued past that (it usually does) there was no way to read it. I recieved no complaints about this, which could mean any of the following:
  1. nobody's reading
  2. only Mozilla users are reading (AC-style comment: is that statistically different from #1? (this is why I failed to notice it.))
  3. nobody needs to read below the fold, because they've already read everything but the last two or so posts
  4. nobody wants to read below the fold because the recent few posts aren't interesting enough to make anybody want to read the older ones
  5. it wasn't broken long enough for anyone to notice
  6. people noticed but decided to give up rather than email me about it

On Friday, I went out walking in downtown Chicago during rush hour. I criss-crossed the Chicago river several times, using several of those little bridges like the ones in the opening credits of The Bob Newhart Show.

I saw Union Station, which is used by Metra commuter rail as well as Amtrak. Hordes of people were streaming out if it and across the bridges. Trains were backing into it on a very frequent basis. I've never seen so many passenger trains in my life.

On the flight back to Atlanta, I sat behind a couple of guys who seemed to know the area well enough to identify various industries from the air. "Look, there's the old electric motor factory". They also identified "the largest open quarry in the world".

When the drink cart came around, they ordered shots of bourbon and vodka but had to settle for gin because that's all that was in stock.

Friday, September 05, 2003

United States Transit Systems

I may or may not have blogged this before. Rivet-counting fun on 30 systems.

The Chicago "El" really is as cool as people say it is.

One reason it is cool is because it is old. We have elevated tracks in Atlanta, too, but they are modern concrete structures. The El is made of steel. Rusty old steel, too, in some places. The platforms and the steep stairs that lead up to them are wooden. The exits have those kind of turnstyles with lots of rotating metal bars that mesh together. I'm not going to waste your time or mine by trying to take pictures of this stuff with my dinky 320x200 camera phone. Go find yourself some decent railfan sites about the El.

I really need to come back here sometime when I have more time to explore.

And speaking of railfans, are there people who are "fans" of the financial industry in the same sense as railfans and roadgeeks? If there are, then downtown Chicago would be one of their main haunts. You can't walk a block without passing the offices of some major bank, stock broker, or something like that.

Chicago seems to have a neat solution to the problem of renaming major streets. Below the normal green street signs with the real street names, you see brown "honorary" signs.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

I lived in Kansas and Missouri for 2 years, and I can now say that Indiana and Illinois really are as flat as everybody thinks Kansas is. Kansas actually is a rolling hillscape. What I saw from the plane this morning truly was as flat as a... well, flatter than a pancake... as flat as a table top.

By and large, the rural landscape is no less manmade than the urban. Perfectly rectangular farms stretch out as far as the eye can see. Most roads are located exactly along section lines. You can even see the occasional trapezoid and wedge shaped sections that had to be inserted to make up for the fact that the earth isn't really flat.

Highways, railroads, and what looked like canals cut across the grid at non-right angles, but even these were mostly straight. Only lakes and rivers inject any chaos into the otherwise orderly picture.


I am currently in Chicago on a last-minute business trip. The rest of this entry was actually written his morning at the airport in Atlanta.

I have really got to stop listening to people who tell me to "get to the airport 2 hours before your flight". Every time I do this, I end up sitting around at the gate for over an hour with nothing to do.

In the company-issued carrying case for this company-issued laptop, I found two floppies labeled:

Netware v3.11 Help-1
Netware Print Services and Utilities-2

Both say "(c) 1983-1992 Novell Inc". They are recongnizably the same shade of red/orange as the big red books that used to grace every Novell shop. I have no idea what is on them, as this laptop lacks a floppy drive!

This laptop also has a joystick-in-the-middle-of-the-keyboard type mouse, which is very hard to adjust to after getting used to the touchpad on my own laptop.

The boarding pass that I printed out from the airlines website doesn't say which gate the flight departs from. And now that I am here at the airport, my flight number is actually posted up on signs at two different gates. Which is it? I asked an employee at a completely different gate (neither of "my" gates is manned this far ahead of departure time), and after fumbling around in the computer and battling with poor eyesight, they gave me a definate number.

Since this is just a two-day trip and I wanted to have no checked baggage and only one carry-on item to fool with, I have packed my clothes and other belongings in with the laptop. I will be going straight to work when I get to Chicago, with no chance to go the hotel and unpack until later. Boy am I going to look like a dork when people see me pull this laptop out of a bag also containing underwear.

The restaurants at Hartsfield, or at least the ones in this particular concourse, serve only breakfast at this hour. Airports, of all places, seem like they should operate on their own time where all food items are available 24 hours a day. I mean, they have people coming off of flights from timezones where it is *is* dinner time right now, and these folks have to be content with breakfast?

At least the airline (AirTran) provides free coffee.

Speaking of "Hartsfield", by the next time I use this airport it might well have been renamed "Maynard Jackson Memorial Airport" or something. Atlanta is crazy for renaming pretty important things after the recently deceased. So many of the major downtown streets have been renamed in the last decade that its probably doing a lot to drive sales of new maps. (Although I'm sure the great interstate-exit renumbering of 2001 didn't hurt.)

I agree that Atlanta, of all places, has to have a Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. And it was good that they renamed "Boulevard Drive" (yes, non-Atlantans, that's really what it was called) after Hosea Williams, because that was a really dumb name to begin with. Just plain Boulevard (yes, its a completely different road from the former Boulevard Drive) could use a renaming too. They could rename Boulevard, Monroe Drive, Piedmont Circle, Cheshire Bridge Road, and the northern part of Lenox Road to all the same name, since they are all continuous with each other in a loopy kind of way. (It would ruin the point of Lenox Square Mall, though. And also mess up that art-frame store on Monroe that has a giant Warhol Marilyn Monroe in the front window. And several Cheshire Bridge establishments use the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland as a mascot.) As far as I know, they haven't renamed any street with "Peachtree" in its name to anything not containing "Peachtree".

The muzak is playing a continuous medley which so far has included, among other things:

Can You Feel the Love Tonight?
The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music
Don't Cry for Me, Argentina
I can't Help Falling in Love with You
Hey Jude

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Chicago Transit Authority

After all of these CIFS, SMB, and NetBIOS links, I once again feel the need to mention my own little Win32::NBTStat Perl module. Also see the entry from 5/5/03 for more info.

Implementing CIFS

Online version of a book on the subject. I'll have to read this later.

CIFS: A Common Internet File System

From the mouth of Microsoft.
CIFS defines a standard remote file-system access protocol for use over the Internet, enabling groups of users to work together and share documents across the Internet or within corporate intranets. CIFS is an open, cross-platform technology based on the native file-sharing protocols built into Microsoft® Windows® and other popular PC operating systems, and supported on dozens of other platforms. With CIFS, millions of computer users can open and share remote files on the Internet without having to install new software or change the way they work.



Includes a PDF of the CIFS Technical Reference 1.0.0.

SNIA - Storage Network Industry Association

Our members are dedicated to "ensuring that storage networks become complete and trusted solutions across the IT community".

Timothy Evans NetBios NetBEUI NBF networking links page

Getting more and more techy.

CIFS Explained

Another CIFS explanation, this time slightly more technical. A little outdated.

Linux Magazine | Understanding the Network Neighborhood

How Linux Works With Microsoft Networking Protocols.

A Conversation with James Gosling (May 2001)

Java's Creator Speaks on Inheritance and Composition, JSPs and Servlets, Community Design Processes, and more
by Bill Venners

This is a very long article that I will have to read later.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Classic Jeff: Yet Another DSL Rant

Wed Jan 22 08:35:02 2003

After my experiences, I recommend that you keep a special, clean Windows
installation (either dual-boot, or on a spare machine) just for dealing with
DSL problems. If you try to have them troubleshoot a machine that you
actually use on a regular basis, they'll invariably mess it up, or try blame
the problem on some software that installed, or both. And make sure its
Win98, they don't know jack about any other version of windows (my
experiences were before XP came out, so maybe its changed. They sure didn't
know much about Win2K though).

Classic Jeff: Another DSL Rant

Fri Nov 8 07:33:02 2002
> > firewall. In any case we only had DSL for a few months before we
> cancelled it
> > in disgust, so its a moot point now.
> Details?

Well, I would dig up my previous rant about this from the archive, except

Anyway, we had Earthlink DSL. We deliberately avoided BellSouth because
Veronica had recently been employed as a first-line support person for their
DSL service, and she had seen so much incompetence in her co-workers that she
really didn't want to end up in the position of having to call them for help.

It worked fine for a while, but then one day they modem just died. Appeared
to be some kind of hardware failure. We sent it back to them in the mail and
got another one pretty quickly. That second modem NEVER worked. At all. We
spent hours on the phone with their technicians, all of whom tried the same
things over and over as if they didn't know the last guy had already done

Their first guess was that the new modem's firmware was programmed with
different virtual circuit numbers (or whatever the hell you call it... I've
forgotten all the DSL jargon since then), and it didn't work because the
equipment at the CO was still using the old settings. For some reason it was
a major, major pain to try to get this changed. One guy had me telnet into
the modem (it automatically gave itself an IP address on the local network)
and fiddle with some settings in there. The next guy told me that doing that
was totally forbidden, and that if I now sent the modem back to them they
would be able to tell that I had messed with the sacred firmware settings and
would charge me the full price of the modem.

They then went through a long series of trying to get the machine at the CO
changed to match the new modem, which was complicated of course by having to
deal with BellSouth as the actual telephone company. They finally concluded
that the "port" (or some other such undefined technical-sounding term) that
my phone line was connected to was simply defective in some way. This seems
like a huge coincedence to me, that there would be hardware failures at the
same time at both ends of the line. I could see lightning or something
getting my modem, but presumably the phone company's equipment should be more
robost, right?

Anyway, there apparently was no deterministic way of switching me to a
different "port" (or "card", or whatever it was that was supposed to be
causing the problem). Their suggestion was that I cancel my service and and
then start over from scratch, and cross my fingers and hope that this time
whatever random process (whether human or machine) that assigned the "ports"
would give me different one this time.

This process took weeks, and didn't solve anything, mostly because I suspect
it wasn't really the problem anyway. It think they just never could get the
settings right, and would never allow me to talk to anybody who actually knew
what the magic numbers were supposed to be.

At that point we just made sure we got our money back for the Internet
service we had been paying for and not able to use, and switched back to
dialup (not with Earthlink, either). They were supposed to send out a box and
some paperwork with which to send the modem back. Its been over a year, and
no such thing has ever arrived. We also haven't been charged for the modem,
so we really don't care. I suspect it is a perfectly good modem, hardware
wise, and would just need proper configuration to work. I could probably sell
it on E-bay or something.

If we ever get DSL again it probably will be BellSouth, because then at least
there's just one company to deal with. At this point its really not an
expense that we can justify. We don't really do anything with the internet
that would require DSL. The main thing it seemed to be good for was
downloading gigs worth of pirated music, which was fun but not neccessarily a
requirement for our lifestyle.

Classic Jeff: DSL Rant

Fri Nov 9 08:30:02 2001
--- Paul Victor Novarese <novarese@novarese.net> wrote:
> The only time I ever noticed the netgear box is when AT&T decided
> to blame it for my inability to get a signal from their crappy
> cable modem. It was quite possibly the worst customer service
> experience *ever* in the recorded history of mankind. "Fucking
> morons" is way too nice for these mouth-breathers. They never did
> fix the problem.

>From the way I understand it, cable modem and consumer-level DSL just doesn't
make enough money for the ISPs to care enough to train and keep competent
people at the help desk.

When Veronica worked for BellSouth.net, they promoted her up to only serving
business customers the instant she showed any signs of familiarity with the

I suspect it is the same everywhere.

For my part, I recently learned the hard way that:

a) Some of the DSL devices that Earthlink sends out to its customers are
actually capable of doing PPPOE, DHCP, and basic firewalling.

b) Earthlink does not "support" the use of these features. They still want
you to use PPPOE on computer instead.

c) The employees are actually *forbidden* from attempting to help you
configure the firmware settings of the modem, primarily because they're
afraid they might mess something up but also probably because they're
afraid that they might turn on the verboten networking capabilities.

d) As a result of (c), few people at the helpdesk are willing or able to
discuss possible technical issues such as the VCI/VPI settings in the
modem not agreeing with what has been set up by the phone company.
If they suspect that this is the problem, they would rather change it at
their end (which takes DAYS) than attempt to walk you through changing it
on the modem.

e) Any attempt by the customer to mess with the aforementioned settings will
violate some kind of agreement and result in Earthlink no longer being
obligated to provide you with a modem.

f) If any of this ever stops working, you may as well cancel the service
because the helpdesk will never figure it out.

Boundless VT 510

This is the current, legitimate successor to the VT100. Boundless Technologies acquired the "VT" line from DEC in 1995.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Milhouse Van Houten -- LEGO

Guide to Springfield