November 10, 2007

Eye Candy

Filed under: Linux, Tech — Chris @ 11:24 pm

The difference between “Desktop Plane” and “Desktop Wall” in the Ubuntu “Visual Effects” options (aka CompizConfig Settings) is that the latter allows windows to overlap a viewport* and the former does not. (Along with this comes a lot of incidental options and visual fillips, like the ability to drag a window entirely from one viewport to another.) Although this does not sound like a big productivity booster, I’m going to give the Wall a chance.

I’m not going to give the “Desktop Cube” a chance, because it won’t let me place viewports above and below, as well as left and right, seemingly out of some wrong-headed sense of pseudo-three-dimensional literalism (although your “cube” can have an arbitrary number of faces, they must be arranged linearly from left to right: Euclidian topologies only).

* For some reason the “Desktop Plane,” “Desktop Wall,” and “Desktop Cube” options all use viewports and not workspaces**, so they don’t work well with the Gnome Workspace Switcher.

** For some other reason, Gnome has two distinct ways of implementing virtual desktops (viewports and workspaces) even though theres no discernible advantage to one over the other (except for compatibility with this application or that).

[UPDATE] Visual Effects lead to intermittent system freezes. Fun! Going back to boring old workspaces.

Problems, I’ve Had A Few (Fresh Pasta Edition)

Filed under: Food, Not Tech — Chris @ 10:45 pm

The problem with making fresh pasta dough by the well method is that, if your eggs should overtop their flour walls, they will move quite rapidly towards the edge of the counter and, from there, to the floor. In my case, I actually managed to let a significant quantity of egg matter seep into the dishwasher.*

The problem with making fresh ravioli is that it’s actually quite tricky and you’re bound to screw it up the first time, especially if you’d like to stuff them with a mash of fresh pumpkins that is unexpectedly wet. (You’ve got to walk before you run, kids.)

The problem with Mario Batali is he doesn’t say any of this in his recipes.

* Bonus tip: there’s no way to save a pasta dough once you’ve incorporated too much flour (e.g., because you started desperately flinging it at a rapidly advancing torrent of eggs). The dough quite decidely “locks” and won’t react to additional liquid/eggs in any useful way.

November 9, 2007

Fun with Keyword Analysis

Filed under: Not Tech, Waste of Time — Chris @ 6:42 pm

Noted without comment: as of now, this blog is the #5 result (of “about 1,040”) for the Google search “irresponsible assface”.

November 6, 2007

Updating for Daylight Savings Time on Ubuntu

Filed under: Linux, Tech — Chris @ 9:28 pm

My system clock has been all wiggy since Daylight Savings Time ended (or started?) (it’s ended) on Sunday. Believe it or not, it was actually flipping back and forth between correct and one hour ahead for no apparent reason. I did two things which together seem to have fixed things.

First, via Fast Track Sites, I found that my system timezone information was out of date. The test for this is:

% sudo zdump -v /etc/localtime | grep 2007
/etc/localtime Sun Mar 11 07:59:59 2007 UTC = Sun Mar 11 01:59:59 2007 CST isdst=0 gmtoff=-21600
/etc/localtime Sun Mar 11 08:00:00 2007 UTC = Sun Mar 11 03:00:00 2007 CDT isdst=1 gmtoff=-18000
/etc/localtime Sun Nov 4 06:59:59 2007 UTC = Sun Nov 4 01:59:59 2007 CDT isdst=1 gmtoff=-18000
/etc/localtime Sun Nov 4 07:00:00 2007 UTC = Sun Nov 4 01:00:00 2007 CST isdst=0 gmtoff=-21600

If the output doesn’t exactly match the above, you have a problem. Download the latest tzdata2007X.tgz file (where X is a lowercase letter) from the National Cancer Institute (seriously). For gorey details, see the Fast Track Sites post cited above. (I don’t think you really have to do the ln step, which sets your timezone to EST5EDT instead of, e.g., America/New_York. I skipped it.)

Now your system ought to know the right start/end dates for Daylight Savings Time. But your clock is probably still out of whack.

Now, via Ubuntu Forums and Stephen Sykes, use ntpdate to reset the clock. The trick(s) here are: (a) you have to shut down ntpd first, (b) setting the clock back an hour will convince sudo that you’re trying to do something nefarious (“timestamp too far in the future”), and (c) I had to give ntpdate the -u option to get past some unseen firewall.

% sudo /etc/init.d/ntp-server stop
 * Stopping NTP server ntpd                                 [ OK ]
% sudo ntpdate-debian -u
 6 Nov 17:00:00 ntpdate[13693]: step time server offset -3598.042737 sec
% sudo /etc/init.d/ restart
sudo: timestamp too far in the future: Nov  6 17:59:56 2007

Oops. Using the “Adjust Date & Time” applet, manually set the clock one hour forward. Now, run sudo -k. Now, set the clock back to the correct time (again using “Adjust Date & Time”). Starting over:

% sudo ntpdate-debian -u
 6 Nov 17:00:00 ntpdate[13693]: step time server offset -3598.042737 sec
% sudo /etc/init.d/ restart
 * Saving the system clock
% sudo /etc/init.d/ntp start
 * Starting NTP server ntpd                                [ OK ]

All done. Enjoy.

[UPDATE 3/12/2008] It looks like this might be a semi-annual ritual: my system pulled the same schizo act when DST started this week. On Gutsy, ntp-server has become ntp. It’s easier springing forward than falling back, because sudo just times out when you set the clock forward.

[UPDATE 3/9/2009] A fall back and a spring forward with no problems. Whoopee.

Heckuva Job, Bernie

Filed under: Not Tech, Politics — Chris @ 12:19 am

Rudy Giuliani on Bernard Kerrick, the mobbed-up, bribe-taking, tax-evading, mistress stalking, ex-personal driver, ex-police commissioner, ex-Iraq occupation official, and ex-failed nominee to a George Bush’s cabinet*:

If I have the same degree of success and failure as president of the United States, this country will be in great shape.

He continued, “My shit tastes like lollipops, 9/11, 9/11.”

* And remember: you can personally authorize torture and still be confirmed to George Bush’s cabinet.

November 3, 2007

For Want of Hobo Jokes

Filed under: Not Tech, Waste of Time, YouTube — Chris @ 4:24 pm

Hey, look, official Funniest Man Alive John Hodgman has a blog:

I actually admire the sheer, misanthropic brio of those Lockhorns. After all, it can’t be easy to distill all the drunken, marital loathing of WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? and pour it all into a single, hate-filled funny pages panel day after day after day.

November 2, 2007

Alternative Status Hierarchies

Filed under: Not Tech, Politics — Chris @ 2:13 pm

Joel Stein, everybody’s least favorite ex-Entertainment Weekly columnist, covering the Republican fringes:

Representative Tom Tancredo … tells me after a debate in New Hampshire, one of his staffers walked up to a guy in a shark costume and asked him if he was a Ron Paul supporter. “No. They’re all nuts,” replied the shark. “I’m just a guy in a shark suit.”

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