November 27, 2004

Have you seen me lately?

Just a "Hey, still thinking about my friends" to those I don't get to see as often since school started. I'm still here, at least physically.

Posted by Jeffrey at 8:54 PM | Comments (0)

November 24, 2004

And then there was one.

Some guy who got credit for stating the obvious once said something along the lines of "The only constant is change." And all through my 20's I've found countless examples of how this is true. Things about us, other people change, but what seems to get me is watching the mainstays in our life change. I always assumed E.C. would be a po-dunk town(still is, compartively, just bigger), Terry Zahn would come on at 6 p.m., Brokow at 6:30pm, and finally Dan Rather on the weekends and occasionally during the week.

With Terry gone, Brokaw to retire in 5 days and Rather to leave in March, two things occur to me.

1) I haven't watched the news regularly in ages. The local news in Greensboro just isn't even in the same broadcast medium as the Newport News area. The internet killed my nightly TV news ritual.

2) We have no one of their caliber to replace them(with the exception of Brian Williams[No relation]).

It's a sad thing to see many of these personality which we let into our lives go at such a rate. I think Williams will do a fine job and become a worthy successor to Brokaw. It's just a very trying time for journalism to lose so many of their mainstays.

Now all there's left is Ted Koppell and Andy Rooney.

Posted by Jeffrey at 12:39 AM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2004

A Fedora Laptop and MGS3

Fedora wins out on laptop installation

Don't get me wrong, I like the Red Hat distribution well enough, but I really wanted to try something other than RH on that little Amity CN to have another linux OS to compare.

But ultimately, Red Hat had the installer that would run an ftp install from floppies.

At Stephen's suggestion, I went back to FC1 and used their floppies to do an FC1 install(turns out you couldn't do FC3 because of a kernel change). The initial directory issues weren't because of the extra // going on(as mentioned in a previous post), but that I hadn't provided a full enough path to the install files.

Oops, my bad.

So I'm sitting happy with RHFC1 running a 2.4.22-1.2115.nptl kernel. I've already downloaded 2.6 to see if it has any added benefit, but I'm guessing I'm going to get more of a performance boost first by streamlining the boot process(bye bye sendmail!).

Tami bought a tiny optical mouse for her machine, which is small enough(1.5-2"x1.0" or so) that I may add it to mine to see if it is picked up. If so, I just may add a gui back to it. But for now, happy CLI-ness.

MGS3 Update(Spoilers)

I'm not sure how far into the game I am, but I've beaten back Ocelot, The Pain(Beekeeper gone horribly, horribly wrong), The Fear(circus freak gone freaky freaky wrong), The End (What do you mean, he's photosynthetic?!), and just last night, I made to and took out the Fury(Astronauts with jetpacks and flamethrowers don't mix).

I won't spoil the story for anyone, but I do want to talk about fighting The End, because I thought he defined what many people wanted in a major boss for many years. In many games, when you face a boss, you're in a rather cramped environment. For the end, the boss-field(the area where you square off), is a forest, foothill, and hilltop. Three areas as large as most board levels.

The End is well over a hundred years old and is considered to be the "Father of sniping". He is an expert at camoflague and even with the Thermal googles, he's hard to pickup because he has a below normal body temperature. There are probably at least 20 sniping locations he can be at and the only way you can find him is to follow his foot prints and use the thermal goggles, motion detector, anti-personell detector, and active sonar.

Sounds easy? Think again. He's a sniper folks... Luckily he's only shooting tranq darts at you, but that will kill you just as well. He can hit you from long off if you don't try to flank him real slowly, and even then that's no gurantee. When you hit him, he'll drop a flashbang and run off, leaving you blind and your ears ringing).

And the part about him being photosynthetic? I was close to killing him off, then he runs off somewhere and I hear him plead with the forest to give him strength, and I kid you not, he went from 5% health and stamina back to full bar. I thought I was going crazy. He didn't do it twice to me though.

I finally, through a war of attrition, blowing up his ammo dump with TNT and planting claymores at the sniper locations, I finally took him out. It was the longest I've ever sparred with a boss, running at an hour or more.

He was probably the most fun boss to play against, followed by the Fear, The Fury, and the Pain.

I know I still have to face the Shagohod, Col. Volgin, and Ocelot at least one more time in the game. If you haven't played this game yet, give it a rental. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Posted by Jeffrey at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2004

MGS 3 or "Jeff's return to crack"

It's been a long, long time since I hit the old PS2/PC Game crack pipe. However, addiction is something you face every day of your life and not something you get rid of like a cold.

This week I had a setback, MGS3: Snake Eater was its name.

I'm only several hours into the game now and I can say that the script/plot is better than most movies this year. The shots and cinematography are all top-notch(though there are some complaints about tine gameplay camera views). In comparison to the previous MGS games, this one left them in the dirt about 30 minutes in.

Here's a synopsis. At the end of WWII, the world is split between East and West. A top Russian scientist(Sokolov) has grown afraid of his own creations and wants to defect. He manages to sneak his family out, and a year later escape out of the Soviet Union over to West Germany. He moves to the US and is happy for a time, until....

The Cuban Missile Crisis. Kruschev offers Kennedy a deal. He would pull the missiles out of Cuba if Kennedy dismantles the missiles in Turkey. These missiles were old and outdated and offered the US the political cover for Kruschev's real deamand.

The return of Sokolov.

The US has no choice but to comply and Sokolov is returned to Russia, forced to resume work on his abmination called the Shagohod. A mobile nuclear-capable tank.

US: "Aww. Hell, no."

This is where you, "Naked Snake" enter. You're sent into enemy territory to retrieve Sokolov before he can finish his work. I'll spoil it by saying that you perform the first HALO jump into enemy territory, manage to rescue him and make it to the bridge your mentor, the woman who is single-handedly responsible for leading the US to victory in WWII, and your soul mate(I guess, it's really wierd folks) shows up with a shoulder-mounted nuclear missile with the intent on defecting to the Soviet Union with it and Sokolov as a gift. You get your ass handed to you and thrown down-river. This is how the game starts.

Very nice Bond-esque intro, complete with bond-esque style opening song. Some people might not like it, but it certainly fits with the theme and time.

I'll mention it again, this game probably has the best story and "real-time" graphics(same models used in cutscenes as in game) I've seen yet. Although GTA, Halo, and HL2 have garnered the limelight for the holiday season, if you have a PS2 and enjoy dextrous games, you should really give this one a go.

The song lryics? Worst I've ever heard, but they're funny as hell.

What a thrill....
With darkness and silence through the night
What a thrill...
I'm searching, and i'll melt into you
What a fear in my heart
But your so supreme

(horns, song begins)

I'd give my life not for honor but for you (Snake Eater)
In my time, They'll be no-one else
Crime, its the way I fly to you
Im still in a dream of the Snake Eater

Someday you go through the rain
And someday you'll feed on a treefrog
Its ordeal, the trial to survive
For today we seek new light

I give my life
Not for honor but for you (Snake Eater)
In my time, they'll be no-one else
Crime its the way I fly to you
I'm still in a dream...Snake Eater

...complete with the slo-mo liquid cloud dispersion shots, snake skeletons running all over the place, and main character shots. A little over-the-top? Maybe, and for once, I like it!

Posted by Jeffrey at 5:19 PM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2004

crap crap crap on a crap cracker

Why is it that when I boot off the FC1 boot disks for an ftp install I get something like this?

What is the site you wish to ftp to?

What is the directory on the remote server?

I'm sorry, but we cannot retrieve [file] from Please try again.

I go back a window and it PREPENDS MY DIR WITH A /!!!! ARGH!

UPDATE: Finally figured out I hadn't completely described the install dir(oops). I got right to the package screen as they were turning off the lights at work. So it looks like Fedora Core 1 will be the next OS on the ol' laptop.

Posted by Jeffrey at 2:56 PM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2004

Operation: "Resultant Fury"

from CNN

With the sublety and finesse of a jackhammer at a bake-off, our Naval forces are conducting target practice "somewhere in the Pacific." Which has North Korea barking yet again.

On one hand "resultant fury", even if it has nothing to do with the exercise, is still a poor choice of nomenclature and can be interpreted by some(read: North Korea) as a prod to NK's testicles. Given the state of affairs between North Korea and, well, everyone right now, this kind of thing isn't going to make anything better for anyone, especially South Korea(who's actually going to move their capital further away from the DMZ just because NK is so unstable at times).

On the other hand, "somewhere in the Pacific" is not really an exact location. Anyone checked out the Pacific lately? it's pretty large, considering the items one would try to locate in this instance. There's nothing in the article that mentions a location in the pacific where the operation is taking place. It could be a couple of miles off of Oahu, in the Yellow sea, or off the coast of Cali. We can justify it by saying that any operation in the pacific is going to rile-up the N. Koreans if we didn't disclose the location along with the press release(which we're not. pshah). They should just lighten up a little and not give in to the spook games the US may or may not be playing.

How many operations do we make public like this anyway?

Ultimately, however, North Korea should just lighten the f*** up, mentally and politically. 97 times out of 100, it's just an exercise with a little political payload. I mean, it's not like the US is going to attack without provocation, right?

Posted by Jeffrey at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2004

Linux and my old laptop

I have this "old" laptop I purchased from e-bay a while back for travel work and such. A Mitsubishi Amity CN2. I love this thing. It's only about 2.6 times bigger than my Palm about as heavy, but it was made in 1997-98, has an USB port(which was the poo in the day), a whopping 2.0GB drive, P166MMX, with 64MB EDO RAM, IR port, serial, parallel, PCMCIA, no internal CDROM or floppy, and weighed about 2.6 lbs. I slap the ubiquitous Linksys EC2T for the NIC. The tip pointer is busted, but other than that, everything is fanriffic.

It originally came with 95, which sucked juice like no one's business. 98SE was probably the best windows for it, or windows 2K if you didn't mind waiting a bit during startup. After a while, though, work was providing me with laptops or pfft I stopped doing work while on vacation, and the laptop sat in its case.

A couple of years ago, I did an ftp install of RH8, just to see how that install worked, how linux ran on laptops, and to use it as a terminal for my other RH desktop. I had to do a FTP install because the laptop will not boot off of a CDROM, so most live CD's and bootable CD's aren't feasible unless I use a boot manager that will detect and use the Backpack I have for it. After this ordeal, I might look further into this.

I kept it to a minimal installation. No gui, developer packages, SSH, and postgres, and it was good. I grew tired of lugging cable with it whereever I went and it being such an old laptop, I didn't want to shell out the buckage for a wireless NIC and transmitter just so I can SSH into my p200. So I downloaded a crapload of books from Project Gutenberg and it became my e-book for toting to coffeehouses and such. Just ran vi on the the files and *boom* instant Island of Dr. Moreau. I was suprised how easy to read and use vi was for just reading text for extended periods of time.

And it's been a happy little bugger for that until I started working on compiling more machine-specific kernels for my linux box at work and at home. I picked it up one day and thought, "Hm... I bet this would be fun to compile for." Plus I wanted an excuse to just blow away RH8 and put a new distro on there that I hadn't tried before.

So I started looking around. Most of the bigger distributions these days still support ftp install, but I was disappointed to see RH's Fedora doesn't officially offers this. I'm sure I could monkey another installer to use Fedora's packages and an updated kernel, but at that point, I'm afraid I would be missing out on the ease of use fedora has over the other distros.

So I moved on to Slackware, a very stable and robust distribution that I've been happy with on most of the machines I've put it on, with the exception of the laptop. For some reason, the kernel that slackware boots off of(bare.i, bareacpi.i, ppide.i, whatever) panicks and quits before I can even get to a command prompt. I might try a slightly older kernel, but I want to try other distros before I head down that road.

SUSE Linux is one of the more popular commercialized distros out there that isn't Red Hat. They also were big supporters of the FTP install compared to others. Even their floppy boot image had a nice GUI splash screen and UI to it. However, and theirs is the most frutstrating, the loader locks up during the swap initialization. I've repartitioned the drive, upped the swap space to 512MB and even put Pikachu on it for good luck. But each time, it'd lockup right at the same place. Here again, if I can find a Linux Boot that will give me access to my backpack on either parallel, USB or the PCMCIA connector, I'll probably go that route.

But where's the challenge in that?

On to Debian, another popular distro that's more in the public sector like Slackware. It decides to crap out during the HW detection and say it can't find the HD(although Pocket Linux and ever other one didn't have a problem with it). Peh.
So for those of you scoring at home:

Distro. Outcome reason
Fedora Core 2 UNSUPPORTED! No FTP support
Slackware FAILED! Kernel Panic!
SUSE FAILED! Install Crash
Debian FAILED! HD no detecto
Pocket Linux Success! But no internal floppy

Some people may hawk for Gentoo, but they also do not have an official FTP install method. However, if I can find a boot manager that will let me run off of their live CD, I may give them a go. At this point, however, I'm going to focus my efforts on a boot disk that will give me CD-ROM access.

The fun continues!

Posted by Jeffrey at 10:55 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2004

Benoit Mandelbrot and MGS3:SE

New Scientist has a fun article on Benoit Mandelbrot, the Yale professor most famous for discovering fractals. The article covers his discovery of fractals. his early years, his newfound research interest in the financial world, mathematics in general and his current work.

How did you feel when you discovered it?

Its astounding complication was completely out of proportion with what I was expecting. Here is the curious thing: the first night I saw the set, it was just wild. The second night, I became used to it. After a few nights, I became familiar with it. It was as if somehow I had seen it before. Of course I hadn't. No one had seen it. No one had described it. The fact that a certain aspect of its mathematical nature remains mysterious, despite hundreds of brilliant people working on it, is the icing on the cake to me.


Your uncle Szolem Mandelbrojt was also a mathematician. How has he influenced your life and work?

In every way imaginable. I was 13 when my uncle became professor at Collège de France in Paris. I learned early on that mathematics is an honourable profession from which you can make a living. My uncle was a pure mathematician on weekdays and a painter and fanatic museum visitor on Sundays. He had a gifted eye. But he felt that beauty and mathematics were completely separate. These two gifts probably existed in the family and I put them together, which made a big difference to my work. I could relate mathematical formulae to pictures.

Is that where the Mandelbrot set came from?

The Mandelbrot set is the modern development of a theory developed independently in 1918 by Gaston Julia and Pierre Fatou. Julia wrote an enormous book - several hundred pages long - and was very hostile to his rival Fatou. That killed the subject for 60 years because nobody had a clue how to go beyond them. My uncle didn't know either, but he said it was the most beautiful problem imaginable and that it was a shame to neglect it. He insisted that it was important to learn Julia's work and he pushed me hard to understand how equations behave when you iterate them rather than solve them. At first, I couldn't find anything to say. But later, I decided a computer could take over where Julia had stopped 60 years previously.


How did the war affect your thinking about maths?

Until mid-1942, my education was only a little disrupted. After that, until early 1944, it was very disrupted and life was very dangerous. The winter of 1944 was awful and at the same time one of the high points of my life. During that time, it became clear that I had a peculiar gift of being able to almost instantaneously transform into geometry everything that I could handle in my head.

Has this been your prime motivation?

What motivates me now are ideas I developed 10, 20 or 30 years ago, and the feeling that these ideas may be lost if I don't push them a little bit further. Does that matter? Most ideas in science that are abandoned are picked up by someone else later, but not all. I have reflected on this issue a great deal. Perhaps I would like to finish my ideas for aesthetic reasons - a feeling of closure.


In your book, you challenge Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, and other financiers to set aside $ 20 million for fundamental research into market dynamics. Why do you feel this is necessary?

There is a problem that is specific to financial markets. In most fields of research, when someone makes an important finding, they publish it. In the case of prices, they set up a firm and sell advice about their discovery. If they can make money from it, they will. So the research into market dynamics is a closed field.

Another reason is that the research carried out so far has proved ineffective because so many fixes and twiddles are added to a theory until it works. That leaves you with a theory that is out of shape. You don't know which is more important - the thing you started with or all the fixes and twiddles. The level of theory in finance has been disappointing.

Do better theories really matter, though?

Financial risks are much underestimated. The effects of wrong business decisions are global. Nobody takes realistic measurements of risk and we should. I think we should take a strongly conservative attitude towards evaluating risks. I have lived all my life skating on thin ice, which does make you conservative. I've met stockbrokers who say that they are perfectly happy that they have judged the financial risks correctly in 95 per cent of their cases. They wonder why they should bother about a few cases that turned out wrong. Well, those are the ones that matter most - such as the Russian market crash of 1998.

I would like scientists, engineers and the whole of society to understand the true meaning of statistics. People have generally been indoctrinated to believe that the world is simpler than it is. I'd like people to understand the difference between what I call mild randomness and wild randomness. Mild randomness is the thing that everyone thinks about where things go up and down a little bit in the financial market. Wild randomness is where one bad event in the stockmarket wipes out a long period of favourable events. "
End Quote------------------------------------------------------

The rest of the article is quite good and well worth the read.

ION, I placed my pre-order for Metal Gear Solid 3 today and purchased Ronin for $7.

Kinda sad. Ronin was a great movie with a superior cast and the longest car chase in a feature film. I think it clocks in at 15 minutes or something like that. A steal at twice the price.

As for Metal Gear, the reviews look very promising, but I think it's been eclipsed by GTA:San Andreas, Halo 2, Sims 2, and the upcoming Gran Turismo 4. Much like Ronin, which was eclipsed by Saving Private Ryan, Godzilla, Armageddon, and Rush Hour.

Posted by Jeffrey at 1:00 AM | Comments (0)

November 8, 2004

Farm Aid DVD release

Farm Aid. According to Bob Geldof(organizer for Farm Aid), there are just so many people snagging bootlegs of the concert, he had to release the DVD, even though it went against his promise not to release a recording...

I filed this under rants because, while it certainly could be his reasoning based on upon presented data, I just haven't heard people buzzing about grabbing Farm Aid from "the Net"(the Azas, online MP3 stores, torrents, IRC, etc). Maybe I just don't hang around the 30-40 somethings that would go grape nuts over having it. Maybe Geldof is painting the net a shade of grey to justify and promote his new product("It's that FA is hurting or I'm cashing in on the 80's like every other icon of the era, it's them pirates! Arrrgh!").

Who knows? WHO CARES!!!! It's just one more step to "We are the World" coming back. And when that happens, folks, I'm going Lou Ferrigno on someone. I'm adding Geldof to the list if it does.

The world needs Dennis Miller back on SNL or HBO. Now, more than ever.

Posted by Jeffrey at 11:13 PM | Comments (0)

November 5, 2004

Retro war-time posters

courtesy of A Perfect Circle





Additionally, they did a remake of Lennon's "Imagine" in complete 80's stock war footage, "Man-in-the-mirror" zaniness.

I will personally hold W responsible if they do a remake of "We are the world". I'm trying to forget how many times I had to sing that as a child.

Posted by Jeffrey at 2:10 PM | Comments (0)

November 3, 2004

Hell, I'll call it early.(Bush)

I'm going to go with my gut feeling 30 minutes ago and call the election for Bush. It looks he'll take Ohio and Florida, which will push him over 270.

Unless there's some democratic honeypot in Ohio, we'll have 4 more years of Bush. Not my choice, but my gut instinct.

Posted by Jeffrey at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

November 1, 2004

Happy Halloween!

caption me!

Tami and I as Nick and Nora Charles from The Thin Man

I brought drinks, Tami brought the pain.

Stephen, host extraordinare, snapping shots of the party.

Posted by Jeffrey at 12:35 AM | Comments (0)