It’s currently butt-ugly, but Firefox users might be interested in weave.n1zyy.com and the Mozilla Weave plugin.

In a nutshell, Mozilla Weave as a plugin will periodically (and on demand) copy your data (bookmarks, cookies, history, etc.) to a server. The main audience is people who work on multiple computers: say a work machine and a home machine, or a laptop and a desktop, etc. Mozilla started offering this as a service, but its servers filled up. The server is basically just WebDAV + mod_auth, making it fairly easy to set up. So I set my own server up. (Of course, I currently only use one computer, but next time I boot into Linux, it’ll be nice…)

I have a page up on weave.n1zyy.com explaining how to set it up, but in a nutshell, you download and install the Weave plugin, but instead of letting it take you to the signup page, you hop into the Preferences panel and set it up to use weave.n1zyy.com instead of the default Mozilla one… And then you sign up for an account on weave.n1zyy.com and use those credentials to log in. (Even though I’ve never seen anyone have problems, it’s recommended that you back up your Firefox profile first.)

I do warn on the signup page that I make no warranties about service: I don’t expect there to be problems, and I expect the service to stay up a nice long time, but think it’s important to warn that things could stop working.

If I Made Software

If I ever start a software company, I’m going to have CD images of all of our products online. (Or just allow someone to download a little app that will install the whole thing over the Web.) You’ll have to enter your license key to get them, of course.

I’m trying to install a big application. I’m missing one of four disks, and thus can’t do it. I downloaded it from the web, actually (hey, it’s legal!), but it appears to be a cracked version, and thus the “legitimate” installer doesn’t recognize it as the right CD.


Daily Dose of Politics

Wow, a lot’s happened in the past 24 hours.

Vladimir Putin (President of Russia, not Germany) has accused the US of starting the war in Georgia, to benefit “a political candidate.” For once, I’m going to have to give the White House the benefit of the doubt on this: as crazy as George Bush is with starting wars, Vladimir Putin seems even more out of his mind these days. It seems as if Russia started the war with Georgia, not that the US got Georgia to start a war with Russia. (And besides, if it were done to “benefit a presidential candidate,” it seems to have backfired, as most of the US realized it wasn’t the US state of Georgia and immediately dismissed the news.)

Obama gave his acceptance speech last night. I haven’t watched it in full yet, but the consensus seems to be that it was a good speech, but that the rest of the event was a snooze. Many have reported that the convention turned Denver into a police state, apparently resulting in an ABC news anchor being arrested for… filming a news broadcast in public? Obama had an insanely huge crowd at Invesco.

The news of today, though, is that McCain has picked Sarah Palin, the current Arkansas Governor, as his running mate. As I referenced in my previous post, I don’t know her full background yet, but she strikes me as a good complement to McCain: she’s young (you might even call her good-looking), has a track record of exposing corruption in the Republican party. She’s married to an Eskimo, making her pick doubly not a “white boys club” pick. Her eldest son enlisted in the Marines last year at age 18, and her youngest son has Down Syndrome. (From Wikipedia: “Palin refused to let the results of prenatal genetic testing change her decision to have the baby. ‘I’m looking at him right now, and I see perfection,’ Palin said.”) She’s aggressive on fighting wasteful spending (my friend Chris says she’s the one that canned the Alaskan “Bridge to Nowhere“), but isn’t the sort of insane, “No taxes at all, close down everything” person that makes fiscal conservatism look bad. She’s opposed GOP porkbarrel spending, and pushed for ethics reform. Her most recent approval rating as Governor was 80%, which seems awfully high for any politician. She opposes gay marriage, and yet says she has homosexual friends and strongly opposes discrimination; her first veto killed a bill that would have banned the Alaskan government from providing benefits to same-sex partners of government employees.

I still want to look more into her stance on energy, as the Wikipedia page makes it sound like she’s gone out of her way to not become a Big Oil Crony, but I don’t see a lot about alternative energy; given her proximity to ANWR in particular, I’d like to know more.

But I still think the, “Oh crap” I got from a fellow Dem in a text message is exactly the right reply. I wasn’t enthused about Biden. He’s a good guy, with a good track record, but that’s about all I have to say about him. Not bad, but there’s nothing exciting. (I’ll call him “plain,” if only because I keep typo-ing “Palin” as “Plain,” which I think might better describe Biden than Palin.

Of course, we’re electing a President, not a VP, and I’m only growing more confident that Obama’s the best pick. I’m not even sure that running mates are normally that big a deal. But if I were an undecided voter? Palin, I think, is a superb answer to Obama. He’s new, he’s young, he’s bringing fresh change and excitement and a promise of a “clean” (as in, “Not insanely corrupt”) government. I don’t see any of that in McCain. Palin almost brings a lot of Obama’s qualities, but packaged as a Republican.

Where I think this might make a huge difference is over the sizeable number of people in the center. They might be truly independent, or they might even be center-left Republicans. They’d fed up with George Bush and status quo. They think Obama can change that, but they don’t want to vote Democrat, or they’re scared about what they’ve been told (mostly lies, but I digress) about how Obama’s going to raise taxes, and so forth. McCain claims to be a maverick, but tends to vote in step with Bush. (And enjoyed a birthday party on the airport tarmac with him in the wake of Katrina.) They see a lot of hope and possibility in Obama, but still aren’t keen on voting blue. Palin, I think, can bring a lot of what those people like about Obama into a Republican. And with the two candidates neck-and-neck, it might be enough to let McCain pull ahead.

And then there’s the Hillary-for-McCain people. I really don’t believe that the “Hillary Supporters for McCain” camp is half as big as they make it out to be. And I do not mean to suggest that the average Hillary supporter was a crazy feminist who only supported her because of gender, though that’s kind of how these people are coming across today. But I’m quite sure that McCain’s campaign had these people (what’s the acronym they use again?) on their mind (at the very least, on the back burner) when picking Palin. Not only is she a woman, but she’s going to give them good justification: McCain and Hillary may be diametrically opposed on everything, but Hillary and Palin, while still taking opposite sides on most issues, are at least a little closer on the issues.

So I don’t know enough about Palin yet, but I have to admit that I’m kind of impressed with the little bit I’ve seen. As a Democrat, I’m kind of scared. But as an American, I’m kind of pleased: even if it’s McCain-Palin who take office in 2009, I think 2009-2012 might be better than 2000-2009. But do remember that we’re electing a President, not a VP: while Palin counters a lot of what gives me pause about McCain, I’d still take Obama over McCain.


I never signed up for Obama’s text message notifications, but found out about 8am the morning he picked Biden when I checked my e-mail and some ‘pseudospam’ had been sent to me selling Obama-Biden buttons.

I just got a text message that Sarah Palin is McCain’s pick. If I’m not on Obama’s text message roster, I’m definitely not on McCain’s. But I have something better: way too many political junkies as friends.

Much as the text message from a fellow Democrat friend reads, “Crap! That was a good choice.” Her Wikipedia page talks about her whistle-blowing on corrupt Democrats, has a photo of her visiting a wounded soldier in the hospital, and talks about how she’s conservative on issues like same-sex marriage, but doesn’t hate gays. (Which might cost her points with some uber-conservatives, but is probably exactly how a lot of the center-right feels.)

I can’t help but think that it’s no accident a woman was picked, either, given that ~20% of Hillary supporters that claim they’re going for McCain over Obama. Whether they’ll be foolish enough to think, “She’s the wrong party, but she’s a woman and Biden isn’t,” we’re yet to see.

I’ve said before that I thought this race was going to come down to the moderates, and I’m worried that Sarah Palin might just top Biden. But I haven’t read enough about either of them.

Something Delicious

In the midst of all sorts of crazy stuff, and with Obama set to take the stage in 15 minutes to give what some have already called an historic speech, I thought I would take this moment to post something equally as important.

Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce

Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce

You’ve almost assuredly had Tabasco sauce before. The distinctive red glass bottle with the distressingly-hot sauce inside. I think it was Andrew that suggested that it went well on otherwise-boring pizza. The stuff is good for giving kick to bland food.

But in terms of heat, regular Tabasco sauce is like reaching your head into the oven to try to fish your food out. There’s really nothing enjoyable about it, except that it adds a little excitement to something that was otherwise a dull experience. If you’re out to get the most heat possible, you can do better, yet it’s not terribly remarkable for anything besides the heat. Sort of the William Hung of sauces, if you will: only noted for one thing, and not even the best [warning: Youtube = video] at it.

Tabasco’s Green Pepper Sauce, though, has a heat that’s more like relaxing by the fireplace on a cold winter night: quite warm, but thoroughly enjoyable for more than its heat. Not only does does it add spiciness, but it adds deliciousness. It’s the Chuck Norris of sauces: awesome at everything it tries.

Whether you’re a gourmet chef, or whether you’re a college student starving at 11pm and conclude that a “Meat Sandwich” is a superb idea, Green Pepper Sauce is exactly what your dish is missing. Also, you can buy it by the gallon (in a stylish jug!), though it’s apparently not available that way on Amazon right now.


So I’ve mentioned many times before that more RAM is arguably1 the most important upgrade you could add to your computer.

I’m the type that likes to have lots of things up, like iTunes, Photoshop (which consumes a lot of RAM when you foolishly open 20 images at the same time, each 10 megapixels), and Firefox (web browsers are more RAM-hungry than you’d expect)… All at once.

Today, a new recommendation: Eclipse is RAM-hungry. (Perhaps because it’s a Java app. I’m unabashedly convinced that Java is the biggest drain on system resources ever.) But with 2GB of RAM, Eclipse’s thirst for 150MB isn’t a big deal.

What is a big deal, though, is HP’s Web JetAdmin. I installed it to see what information it was able to receive from our network printer, kind of hoping for help in my search for MIBs. It’s taking 145 MB of RAM.

But also, it uses an SQL Server backend, and SQL Server is using 120MB of RAM.

So the net effect is that, with only Eclipse running, I’m using over a gig of RAM. (And that’s “using,” not “having the OS cache components in unused portions of”). I think it’s time for an uninstall party. (The good news is that Vista’s actually handling it really well. The system’s snappy as ever, even with massive background processes running on a desktop machine.)

[1] I say “arguably” since it depends on your usage and what you already have: in some cases, your CPU may be the bottleneck, and sometimes the hard drive is the bottleneck. But in my experience, RAM is the bottleneck 95% of the time.


Mr. T’s recent “Would you like to…” post displayed terribly on the main page, but was properly-formatted on his page.

I’ve (*crosses fingers*) fixed it… For some reason, both Firefox and IE throw up an error ‘symbol’ when they encounter a character with an ASCII value over 128… They normally look better, except for when browsers don’t display them…

So I whipped this together:

        for($i=0; $i<strlen($text); $i++) {
                $val = ord($text[$i]);
                if ($val < 128) $return .= $text[$i];
                else $return .= ("&#" . $val . ";");

Essentially, if a character has an ASCII value over 128 (which means it’s one of the ‘weird ones’ that causes problems on some systems), it gets converted to the { syntax, which means it displays properly. And so far, so good!


Inspired by Kyle, I set up a Mozilla Weave server. (Link goes to directions, not my Weave server, since there’s absolutely nothing to link to or show about it…)

A quick bit of advice: Weave has a “password” (which is used to authenticate with the server) and a “passphrase” (which goes to the public/private key that’s generated). Not only is it important to understand which is which, but you also have to know that they can’t be the same.

A second bit of advice, to save you from pulling your hair out: “invalid password” seems to be its catch-all error message. Apache wasn’t able to create the directories Weave wanted due to a permissions error on my end at first, but I kept assuming Weave’s message about a bad password meant that… my password was wrong. But in actuality, it meant that I had to have Apache’s web user own the directory. (Which, in hindsight, makes sense…)

It’s currently highly beta, in that I just set it up and have no idea if it works… But if you’re interested in an account, let me know!


I’m probably one of very few (liberal) Democrats who is pro-gun. I’m not sure “pro-gun” is really the right term. Essentially, I think that the bad guys are always going to have access to guns, so I strongly oppose the notion that I shouldn’t be allowed to have one. “Gun control” is a really loaded (hi hi) phrase, but I’m not at all opposed to people being required to have a fairly clean background, or to demonstrate that they understand safe gun handling and whatnot. Because those things wouldn’t disqualify me, but would probably make society safer than issuing gun permits to felons, or allowing people to carry guns without them every demonstrating that they’re not going to put their sunglasses in their purse and accidentally press them into the trigger, accidentally shooting a baby in the head. I think it should be kind of like auto licensing.

But there are a few things that still don’t make sense to me. One is the type of people who carry guns with them everywhere. Honestly, this alone might make sense. If I lived in a bad neighborhood, I could see myself applying for a concealed carry permit, and keeping a small pistol tucked under my shirt. But to some people, a gun is just something else you put on in the morning, just like your shoes. And I always thought “open carry” was strange, too.

Today I was helping at my mom’s school, and ran down to the quaint little market down the street from her school to pick up lunch. You need to understand that, while I live in a town with very little crime, my mom’s school is in a place with astronomically less crime. I’m pretty sure that you could fill a wheelbarrow up with millions of dollars in cash, be a frail old lady, and push it around the town during the middle of night, and the only thing that might happen would be some people stopping to ask if you needed directions or wanted to borrow their flashlight.

When I was paying for my sub, the guy in line in front of me was well-dressed, but had an M1911 on his belt. He didn’t appear to be a cop (it was really way too “flashy” of a gun for a police department to issue, and I was once told that any plainclothes detective who’s openly carrying a gun will have their badge displayed right next to the gun), just a well-to-do business man who felt the need to bring his pistol with him as he went to grab lunch. It seemed a bit strange, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I thought it was kind of silly that he felt the need to do so.

It made me realize that I’d actually prefer that people who carried guns did so in a concealed fashion. The law tends to view concealed carry as something more “severe” than open-carry: in NH, you need a permit to carry a concealed weapon, but my interpretation of the law is that, if it’s in plain sight, no permit is needed to wear your pistol around in public. And honestly, if the purpose is safety, it’s probably an accurate assumption that those who carry a firearm in plain view are less likely to use it in a crime. But it just looks like the lawless west when people walk around with guns hanging off their belts, and it seems to creep lots of people out.

(Plus, most of what I’ve heard is that the “I want everyone to know I’m packing heat” school of thought is actually flawed. While you’re probably less likely to be attacked, the type of people who would still attack you are exactly the type of people that you carry a gun to protect against, and now they know what you’re carrying and where. Keep it concealed, and you have a nice element of surprise.)

I’ve also found that NH has a sizable contingent of the “free state” people, who seem to border on lunacy when it comes to guns. There was a video on Youtube a while back of a guy in NH who had a pistol strapped to his leg while walking around downtown Manchester, and he was seemingly marching around like a madman with it on display. A police officer happened to be in the area, and stopped to ask him what was going on. He started screaming about how it was turning into a police state, and how the police were trampling his constitutional rights.

The video was accompanied by a bunch of text about how it’s imperitive that people ‘defend’ their Second Amendment rights by doing things like that. And all I could think is that he’s really making a great case for stricter gun control. Legal arguments aside, if you take a random sampling of people and ask them how they feel knowing that thousands of NH residents choose to go about their daily lives with a concealed pistol, I bet the majority would say that it doesn’t bother them at all. But if you asked that same random sampling of people how they felt knowing that people were marching around the city with firearms strapped to their leg, screaming about how we live in a police state, I bet an overwhelming majority would agree that gun laws are too lax. The guy, at least to me, seemed to do a good job of showing exactly the opposite of what he was trying to prove.

Which leads into my next point: I never thought of the Second Amendment as a reason to carry a gun. You might carry a gun because you enjoy target shooting, because you’re concerned for your safety, or because you’re a hunter. And you might become a big supporter of the Constitutional Amendment allowing you to do so. But I’ve never understood the people who cite the Second Amendment as a reason for gun ownership. To me, it would be like burning crosses* on my front lawn because of the First Amendment, or me joining the Church of Satan because of the Free Exercise clause.

I suppose this is really just meandering diatribe. But my point is that a lot of what goes on with gun ownership just seems weird to me. Even though I don’t think we live in an area where it’s really “necessary” to carry a gun, it’s certainly something I can understand. (If I were to work again in a place that sometimes had be closing a big cash-centric business, and walking out of the building at 1am by myself, I might give it some thought.) But I’m struggling to think of a reason I’d want it on display, other than to show off: I think it would freak out “innocent” people, get drunkards to lunge for it as a joke… But more importantly, if I carried a gun, I wouldn’t want anyone who might do me harm to know anything about it. And the Second Amendment doesn’t make me ‘want’ to go buy a gun in any way.

* I don’t know the citations off the top of my head, but I should point out that case law on cross-burning is stacked against what’s probably the most common use of cross-burning. Burning crosses, in and of itself, is legally permissible (as long as you get a fire permit?). But when it’s used as a threat (as the KKK seems fond of doing to black people), it’s quite clearly illegal. It’s really no different than arguing with your neighbor and saying, “I’m going to go back to my house, get my axe, and come murder you and your family.” Freedom of speech doesn’t protect against threats, and it makes no difference if the threat is implicit or explicit.

Breaking News

Has anyone else found “Breaking news” to be way out of hand? To me, “breaking news” is something major that’s just happened. When you hear breaking news, your jaw drops and you run into the next room and tell everyone. 9/11 was breaking news. A major earthquake is breaking news nearby, but not overall. (I have friends and family in California, but I don’t think many of the wildfires or earthquakes there are breaking news. Cause for concern to me, yes. But I wouldn’t call it breaking news on the East Coast.)

In addition to being major, it has to be, well, breaking news. What was breaking news on the noon broadcast of your news show isn’t breaking news when the news comes on at 5.

But the bar keeps getting lower and lower for “breaking news.” A car chase in the next state over? Breaking news. The weird Rockefeller guy? That was breaking news for days, if not weeks. So wasn’t the polygamist sect in Texas. None of it really seemed like “breaking news” to me, as much as fairly interesting stories.

So today, the bar got even lower with this:

Breaking News: CBSNews.com – Who Is Michelle Obama? – 1 hour ago

I suppose it could be breaking news if, for example, Michelle Obama had just been outed as the guy that Barack Obama had secretly fathered two children with, or if McCain had criticized Obama for suspiciously buying his (only) house with a mysterious “Michelle Obama” entity. But anyone who’s ever watched the news will recognize that Michelle Obama is Barack Obama’s wife. She’s been on the campaign trail. She’s been on the news. In fact, unless you get your news from far-right attack machines, she’s not even a controversial figure. (And actually, none of those examples are really breaking news.)

The thing is, in addition to making me roll my eyes, and maybe discrediting the news a little further, I really think this type of thing, in the long run, is just going to make “Breaking News” lose its meaning. Breaking News isn’t something that happens every day.