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January 2014

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After some brutal pain and soreness following a long couple of days of single track last weekend, I broke down and finally bought a decent mountain bike, the Fuji Diamond Comp. My ass and various other parts of my body are already thanking me for it. Sadly, my wallet is not. fuji

And yes, that's the same place I went to show off my Touring bike.

Fuji Diamond Comp, '05

This really toads the wet sprocket.

My company has such a stupid, broken system for on call. We actually have a NOC, and they actually work at the office all night. They watch the monitoring system for alerts.

See, this is where the stupid comes in. We also have one of the sysadmins - in this case, your's truly - "on call" as well. That makes some sense, right? The problem is that alerts flag periodically that are USUALLY benign, but they require human judgement to actually be sure.

So, the way the system works right now, the on call guy carries a pager and gets ALL OF THE SYSTEM ALERTS sent right to him, whenever they occur.

Why, you might be thinking, doesn't the NOC actually intercept these and make their own judgement on the validity of them, and THEN route the alert to the oncall person? That's MY question. The NOC basically serves no function - they aren't capable of making the judgement as to whether something is trivial or not, so they effectively have NO REASON to exist.

This is how it would work without the NOC:

Alarm flagged in system -> oncall pager -> oncall sysadmin determines what (if any) action should be taken

Here's how it works WITH the NOC:

Alarm flagged in system -> oncall pager -> oncall sysadmin determines what (if any) action should be taken -> NOC calls oncall sysadmin, interrupting whatever action he might have been doing, or forcing him to explain why no action needs to be taken

Here's how it SHOULD work with the NOC:

Alarm flagged in system -> NOC pager -> NOC determines alert severity and ignores or performs T1 support if required -> NOC calls oncall sysadmin ONLY if the problem is real and ONLY if it's not a known and easily resolved issue

Dammit, this really doesn't have to wang so much chung.

Doctor Drew

I'm now using Wordpress 2. It's better.

For some unknown reason, Debian thinks that my favorite browser (Links 2.x) can't be compiled with SSL support legally.

A side effect of this is that the downstream - Ubuntu - ends up with the same crippled version of links2. Not good.

Luckily, it's fairly easy to fix. You just need to run a few commands:

# sudo aptitude install devscripts build-essential fakeroot
# apt-get source links2
# sudo apt-get build-dep links2

You should end up with a links2-2.x/ directory in your current working directory. You need to edit the links2-2.x/debian/rules file and change "--without-ssl" to "--with-ssl"

Once you do that, you just need to rebuild and install the package. From the source directory, do:

# debuild -i -us -uc -b

After which you should have created an SSL-enabled links2, which you can install with dpkg -i

Now since this is a locally created file, aptitude/synaptic/whatever would rather pull in the one from whatever repository you're using. You don't want that - your best option is to use aptitude in interactive mode and flag links2 as "hold" by selecting it and pressing the '=' key.

Alternately, you might find it useful to increment the version number prior to building your package by running "debchange --increment." This will prevent your package from being "upgraded" until the package is updated upstream - when that happens, an update will override your local package. This is actually somewhat useful behavior, since that lets you know that it's going to be time to update your local package to the new version.

Why links2? Well, it has a nifty graphical mode that even renders things such as gmail pretty well. It's also about the fastest browser I've seen.

A sacred cow to many otakus, "Neon Genesis Evangelion" has been oft hyped as a must-see event and some sort of seminal work of anime.

Don't buy it for a second.

Perhaps you could consider this a seminal work of anime, though not in any sort of positive way - it utilizes (or maybe establishes?) several of the frustrating formulae that bog countless other anime down. Whiney, weak protagonist dragged into things against his will? Check. Emotional and generally ineffectual female characters who serve no real function but to be saved by the male characters? Double check. Static and utterly unconvincing archetypical characters all around? Triple check. Barely coherent ramblings and various tidbits thrown around to create the illusion of some deeper meaning? Oh yeah... it's got that in spades.

The anime has some impressive visuals and some really visceral moments, but it's weighed down by so much baggage that it's ultimately frustrating more than entertaining. In all liklihood you'll end up hating every single character, as there's nothing to like about any of them. That particular sin can be forgiven if the plot is captivating enough to pull the weight of the show alone (or if the characters are deep enough that we don't need to like them to be interested in them), but Evangelion tries very hard to be character driven without any particular character capable of driving it.

Could anybody be as annoyingly self-absorbed as Asuka? Could anybody be as weak-willed as Shenji? Could anybody be as cold as the commander? The only character that really seems to be believable at all is Misato (sp?), if only because she seems to in some ways resemble an actual human being with a normal range of emotions.

Probably the most frustrating thing about the series is the way people jump on its mish-mash of religious references and random postmodern crap. The pseudo-intellectual crowd eats this stuff up - "hey, a Christian reference, it's DEEP! I'm SMART for spotting it!" - and they grab onto this jumble of allusions as a convenient way to brush off any critics as "not getting it."

See, there's something you should stop to consider - maybe there isn't actually anything to get in the first place.

Evangelion starts slow, ramps up a bit, and collapses and dies in the home stretch. The primary story arc is never resolved in a satisfying manner and the backstory is left with huge voids. Had these elements been executed properly, the series could've perhaps been salvaged on some level, as it would have at least been satisfying from a plot perspective. But the pacing of the series is so incredibly slow at times that you feel like you're never getting anywhere, and just when you start to think you might be the final episodes of the series step in to ruin it.

The heavy-handed postmodernist conclusion of the series, where we take an incoherent stroll through the main character's shattered psyche, reminds us that we all define our own realities. If that's the case, pardon me while I go define a reality where this series never even existed.

EDIT: bah, Billy West was confused. This is not true.

Futurama is coming back.

This is the best TV show ever created. Hell, maybe it's the best work of fiction ever created.

I am pleased.

Some sad news this week - Mike Wallace is retiring from 60 Minutes at the age of 87.

Wallace is one hell of a reporter, and quite possibly the greatest interviewers working during my lifetime. Although he's been appearing less and less on 60 Minutes recently, if anything he has become even more relentless in his pursuit of the truth - he asks the questions that no CNN "journalist" would dream of asking, and he has an uncanny way of making people answer them.

Thanks, Mike - you've earned your time off. And thanks to 60 Minutes for continuing his standard of journalistic excellence.

Single women between the ages of 22 and 32 who live near Raleigh, NC, I have great news - I'm available for dating!

Please submit all applications via e-mail.