train travel

December 31, 2007

I posted the following as a comment to this blog entry.

I had an opportunity to travel to nyc around solstice this year. I got on the train in richmond, va and took it to penn station in new york. The train ride was peaceful, spacious (even in coach where I was for the trip up) and comfortable. It took 5 hours to get from richmond to nyc, but I was neither searched, scanned nor molested. I was able to take my pocketknife (The pocketknife is a tiny little thing no more dangerous to anyone than a sharpened pencil.), a bottle of shampoo big enough for my actual stay and whatever food I wanted. In my case 2 oranges, a bag of peanuts and an apple. I had a power outlet at my seat and I got to use my computer, talk on the phone and read on this trip. When I was feeling a bit cramped I got up, walked to the cafe car, got a drink, and stretched my legs.

The train was 100% full, not an empty seat in any class. I know it’s not an option in every case but if it is an option, take the train. It was the same cost or cheaper than flying. It was much more comfortable and you don’t have to put up with the privacy violations. Not to mention it’s a better use of energy. It ended up taking about 2 hours more to go by train than it would have to fly, once I factor in getting to the airport an hour early, fiddling around with getting on the plane, waiting to get off the plane and traveling from the airport to my actual destination. And since I could be on the phone while on the train I wasn’t disconnected from the world at all.

Take the train, and write your congress person about why we should support and rebuild our train infrastructure.

Let’s talk about Dec 30th a little bit:

1. wake up with a stomach ache

2. have the stomach ache turn into rather pronounced diarrhea.

3. find out that your hosting provider has suspended your domain for a rather spurious reason

4. drive 2.5 hours

5. get home to find the sink in your bathroom mounted a good half foot above where it should be.

6. also find your water not on due to the plumber working on the hot water heater.

7. get hot water heater working and water turned back on and attempt a normal evening

8. get up to go to the bathroom: drop phone in toilet

9. rescue phone, go to wash it and your hands in the kitchen sink b/c the bathroom sink is not yet hooked up.

10. Notice through the kitchen window that the new plumbing for the hot water heater has sprung a leak and is spraying newly sheetrocked walls with a fountain of water.

11. Turn off water, go to call the plumber and notice you have no way to do this b/c your cellphone has been drenched in water.

12. IM your mom and get her to call the plumber to tell him about what’s going on.

13. Go to bed and consider crying for quite some time.

Just so we’re clear, 2007 can kiss my arse.

My personal domain was disabled sunday with no other notice due to a terms of service violation. When I contacted them I was told copyrighted materials were found on my site. I asked where, thinking the site had been cracked b/c I don’t host anything on there at all. It’s just mail redirectors and a couple of imap accounts. I had performed a backup of my music directory. This is encoding to ogg that I had made of my music collections. It was available in a directory only to me and not available via the web at all. In order to access this directory a person would need to compromise my ssh key for the account and login. They were inspecting data on their servers, found the oggs, determined they were a copyright violation and suspended my account.

When I said I don’t understand what the copyright violation was, I made a backup of my files, I wasn’t distributing anything. They said that violating their terms of service was a copyright violation. Now, I’ve read their terms of service and that makes no sense whatsoever. I spoke with someone named ‘craig’. I have multiple backups of these files so I removed this backup and moved along.

However, it is not possible, according to bluehost for me to store legally purchased copies of any content on their site as a backup. Not even if the data is inaccessible to anyone other than the licensee.

I’ll be terminating my contract with them soon. I encourage everyone else to do the same.

I spent the weekend in NYC touring around with the girl and saying hi to her folks for the holiday. All well and good. However, weirdness struck heavily. We were going out to get some brunch/lunch. We walked down to this first place and found it was far too full and the menu didn’t look that great anyway. So, we walked on a little further and saw a place with a menu we liked. We go inside to ask what the wait was going to be, I open the door and coming out the door at the same time is Menno Smits. I say umm “Menno?”. To which he answers: “Seth?!”. Now, Menno has worked on yum, he’s contributed to all sorts of things that  people use, in addition he’s a great guy to hang out with. Having said the last time I saw him we were in dunedin, nz at lca 2006. Now, Menno is australian/dutch and currently lives in London. So, why was he happening to be in NYC coming out of the same restaurant I was going into? Well, he was off work for the holidays and he flew over to spend some time with his significant other’s friend whom happens to live in new york. The restaurant we decided to go into was the friend’s favorite.

So, we said hi, both baffled to see the other, exchanged holiday greetings and back to our normally scheduled routes. It was great to see him, as odd as it was. 🙂 Maybe next time I see him we’ll be somewhere in south america.

A collection of blogs/sites I sometimes find it difficult to NOT read:

The Oil Drum: an energy, energy policy and ultimately economy blog. Read it with care, it updates often and voluminously. News summary posts every day, at least once a day during the week. Editorials and analysis papers 1-3 times a week.

The Cost of  Energy:similar to the oil drum but just one guy posting and with more editorializing. He finds some real gems he quotes from, though. Publishes multiple times a day.

The Archdruid Report:  similar to the above but with less focus on the day-to-day specifics and more focus on writing and the zeitgeist of people interested in this sort of thing. He written some narratives about possible futures which are much more personal, filling in the background story a little bit at a time. His “Adam’s Story” series of short stories (start at the bottom of the link and go up) remind me to some extent of sections of a canticle for leibowitz. Speculative post-apocalyptic fiction has always been a bit of a soft spot for me, though. Publishes once or so a week.

Bull City Rising: Probably the best coverage of things going on in and around downtown durham, nc. Publishes multiple times a day.

Cyclelicious: This is probably everyone’s favorite bike blog. He covers all sorts of good things, not just racing and what not. Good for finding out where to find obscure items, too. Publishes multiple times a day.

Clusterfuck Nation:  James Howard Kunstler’s blog feed.  I don’t read it as closely as I used to. Recently his posts seem to be closer to “SEE SEE SEE! I TOLD YOU!” It’s not that he’s wrong, it’s just not as interesting. He may also be phoning them in a bit since he’s been working on a new book. Please don’t read the comments to that blog, don’t ever read the comments. Publishes every monday.

Anyway, this is the set of place I find bizarrely compelling to read daily. Most of them talk about energy concerns and the concomitant concerns on how we feed all these people if energy resources become more scarce.  Always subjects of fun.

score for fedora!

December 20, 2007

Sitting a coffee shop working on some stuff, I see this guy I know (almost exclusively from the coffee shop). He’s got a new (to him) laptop and he’s excited about it. The only problem is he’s fighting with the wireless and the brightness keys don’t work. He’s running debian etch and not having much fun. I say “you got a second to try something out for me?” He says “sure”. So, I pop in the usb live key and boot up the box. It boots really fast off of the key – about 30s total. It comes up, the brightness keys work immediately. I tell him, click on the applet for the network and see if we can find the wireless networks. He does, 5s later he’s attached to the wireless network and ready to go.

His response: “Wow, you may have just sold me on fedora”

Score for fedora just working.

Score for the live images kicking ass.

fudcon hackfests!

December 19, 2007

So, I drew the short straw and I get to help organize the hackfests. It looks like we’ll have 5 rooms and probably lots of miscellaneous hallway/lobby space.

We’ll call the rooms: ABCDE. If you have a hackfest you’d like to  start up, let me know, I’ll update the wiki and see about organizing the rooms/times.

What do folks think about 2 hackfest sessions per day one before lunch (caffeinated) and one after lunch (fed and maybe more caffeinated).

So sessions  in rooms can be:

1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E

2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E

on friday and sunday.

and then everything else that can’t get a room. I’m sure some hackfests will take longer than one session and I’m sure sunday afternoon a lot of people will be leaving to go home, but I’d like to fill things up as much as possible. So email your ideas and plans. skvidal at

This morning I checked in the rest of the code for yum-complete-transactions. For people running yum versions 3.2.7 and above you can use it pretty much as-is.

If you ever have a transaction abort in the middle b/c the power went out, rpm or yum fell over, your system locked up, your ssh connection died or any of a myriad of reasons then this may save your ass.

Grab it out of git here.

It takes the transaction-journaling I talked about back in august and makes it simple to use.

Just run yum-complete-transaction and it will attempt to finish out any transactions that were aborted in the middle.

of course, report bugs where appropriate.

I’ve been casting about a bit for things to get folks in my life for the holidays. I’ve bought some traditional presents (books, computer-y things, bike-stuff, etc) and I’ve also did some hunting and found some pretty good alternatives to more stuff.

Last night I purchased some oxfam unwrapped items for my family and I’ll also purchase a few of these good cards for a few people who I think would rather pick out their own charity rather than have me do it for them.

So all of the presents I send will be small but I think they’ll be cool, nevertheless.

Not that I’d vote for him anyway but what type of dope is Mitt Romney on:

“Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone,”

No, I really don’t think so and I think Thomas Jefferson agrees with me.

Massachusetts: You can keep your governor, kthxbai.