Now blogging at diego's weblog. See you over there!

brian eno on the long now

A fantastic article by Brian Eno on The Long Now project:

an we grasp this sense of ourselves as existing in time, part of the beautiful continuum of life? Can we become inspired by the prospect of contributing to the future? Can we shame ourselves into thinking that we really do owe those who follow us some sort of consideration just as the people of the nineteenth century shamed themselves out of slavery? Can we extend our empathy to the lives beyond ours?

I think we can.

Yep. I think so too.

Categories: science
Posted by diego on November 18, 2003 at 4:17 PM

back to windows (for now) part deux

It's now about 6 hours or so since I began the reinstall. Seeing the install/update/patch process all at once is quite an experience. I've spent now close to two hours downloading updates and patches (at 50 KBytes/sec!). First, there was a batch of about five "critical" updates (10 MB). Warning! Your PC may do bad things if you don't install it! and so on. Then Windows Update suggested Service Pack 4. 50 MB. Right after SP4 installed, another check (this time thinking that was it), and now there were twenty (TWENTY!) Critical-install-this-right-now-or-it's-the-end-of-the-world-as-you-know-it patches. Another 50 MB. Plus, I'm not even done with the "recommended" patches (rather than those that are "critical"), which also fix problems for various calamities that might visit you or your loved ones if you don't apply them.

Can anyone in their right mind think that this is normal? We have gotten used to this whole patching idea, but it's ludicruous. By now, every security warning, every patch, elicits a "oh, another one of those...". Mind you, lots of those patches are not just security problems, many are bugfixes that apparently have various disastrous consequences under different circumstances.

Windows is not going away. Would it be much to ask of Microsoft that instead of drooling all over XAML or whatever new thing they are planning to conquer the world with, they would put their considerable resources and smarts to find a solution? You know, I think that Longhorn would be fantastic if instead of all the thingamagic promiseware that it will supposedly have, it was simply Windows XP (or even 2000) and it just worked. Who cares about 3D icons if I'll probably need to find a new "3D Icon critical patch" every fifteen seconds?

Sorry, I know that this has been discussed to death, everyone knows this, Microsoft knows this... but the experience of seeing this whole process in the space of a couple of hours has activated my gripe-cells. We now return to our original programming.

Posted by diego on November 18, 2003 at 4:13 PM

back to windows (for now)

I've been a happy camper since I switched back to Linux (Red Hat 9) on my Thinkpad T21 laptop about three months ago. Everything worked fine. And aside from some annoyances, such as the tendency of Gnome to crash a few times a day, it was great.

But yesterday I needed to test some of the sound features in clevercactus and Linux bailed. For some time I thought this was a Linux problem, after all, the Gnome sound recorder crashed when I recorded more than once and didn't record anything at all. Then (this morning) I realized that the problem was in the internal microphone (not supported) and using an external mike worked ok. The sound recorder still crashed, but at least it worked. Once.

Problem is, I need Java to work with it, not just a native Linux app. And Java sound support has been spotty outside of Windows and the Mac (Sun is devoting basically no resources to it). Even though output worked ok, microphone input did not. LineUnavailableException.

At the moment I really don't have time to spend two days fixing whatever the problem is. I think that with enough tweaking it should end up working (that's the Linux way after all) but that's not an option right now.

Back to Windows it is, at least for the moment. I dusted off the original Windows 2000 Pro installation disk that came with the notebook (after I found it :)) and I am now in the middle of the install. Disgusting experience. FDISK. FORMAT. Abort, Retry, Fail? messages. I'm now doing the recovery of the install (the IBM recovery disk creates its own partition setup, one more reason to wince) and the file copy is in progress.

*Sigh*. I hope to be able to go back to Linux soon in the machine. Running cygwin is a poor excuse for it.

Update: Linux doesn't want to let go. After reformatting, Fdisk, and such, the Linux boot loader is still there, except that now it just hangs. Damn. Trying again...

Update 2: running "fdisk /mbr" took care of the problem.

Posted by diego on November 18, 2003 at 12:29 PM

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