2008-11-02

NIN Concert

I attended the Nine Inch Nails Lights in the Sky concert in Greenville's Bi-Lo Center last night. This is an account of the event, and my view of it.

First, I attended it with my brother. In addition to suffering through yet another of the many bouts of sinusitis I face, I came to the concert in the midst of a very interesting point of my life (i.e., failing relationships, failing class performance, health issues, lifestyle changes, etc.). The combination of all this put me in the right frame of mind for the band I know and love.

Second, this is the second time I seen Trent and his gang live. The time before was back in '95 at the Carolina Coliseum. They were showing off The Downward Spiral that night. While I did have fun, the fact that five security fucktards pummeled me for crowd crawling left it with an overwhelming sense of anger.

I rode from the hometown of Charleston to Greenville in two parts. The first one was between Chas and Cola with a good friend of mine I saw for the first time in over four years. He too, was facing certain points of this life, so the drive gave us a wonderful chance to catch up and discuss life and its mishaps. I then switched to my brother's vehicle in Cola for the rest of the ride.

We got to the center by about four, so did some tailgating until we decided it was time to pickup our tickets and venture inside. There's nothing quite like the experience of lining up with other NIN fans trying to outdo each other with "how devoted of a fan I am" stories, so I walked around with my brother buying $7 24oz of Bud light.

The opening band was a group called Health, an experimental noise/disco band from LA. Their show consisted of the back screen being split down the half into a blue and pink video of 20-second delayed stage antics. I felt the band was trying to bring an Einst├╝rzende Neubauten feel to the land of techno. However, I could tell many members of the audience saw the jerky guitar rifts and dance steps as attempts of chaining together several short sessions of aggravation into one overall feel of annoyance.

Trent took the stage about 9PM, and followed the already posted set list.

While Nails put on a very elaborate show mixing their style of music to a truly impressive electronic visual display, the thing that really bothered me was the fact that there was very limited crowd involvement. For example, I was in the only mosh pit I saw during the whole show. It spun up throughout March of the Pigs, ended with that song, and thanks to much insistence with me spun up again (with very less intensity and numbers) to last throughout Gave Up. That was it...

Crowd crawling was pretty much non existent too. I saw three attempts. The first guy made it over two people and then was dropped. The second person was pushed over the front line, but it kinda had more of a "I need to GTFO of here" feel. The third person made it twice as far as the first....amazing. There was very little jumping up and down, and lots of the hand clapping was prompted. Trent...I'm sorry.

The songs I really liked were ones that really spoke to me during this part of my life and allowed me to reflect on what is going on. Most of them are old favorites too, so that might explain why I felt the way I did about their performance.

First up is The Wretched. Yeah, this little ditty always struck a cord with me cause I have felt the Hand of God pushing down. In addition, it never turns out the way that I wanted it to, and I do know exactly what it feels like.

Piggy came after a very impressive visual performance, and the blue flames behind the players was a very, very nice touch.

Hey pig
Nothing's turning out the way I planned
Hey pig
There's a lot of things I hoped you could help me understand
What am I supposed to do
I lost my shit because of you

Nothing [will] stop me now
Cause I don't care anymore


Wow...how else could I describe things right now?

Terrible Lie was the next impressionable one. This is cause it too is an old favorite and the fact that "I [seethe] with animosity," am going to end up "all alone in a world you must despise," and He's taking away the someone I need to hold onto, are all things I feel at this moment.

Only is probably the most recent song that got to me during the show. Dunno why, maybe the hope of believing that "I just made you up/To hurt myself" really helps right now. Oh yeah, Digital Domain did the video and deserves due credit for their work.

While those were the most notable ones for me, I will mention Hurt only because I feel Trent did it justice singing it Cash's way. In addition, that feels exactly like what I'm doing to everyone right now.

As I said the show was good, and I'm glad I threw down the money and the ride to see it. And while I doubt I was seen jumping up and down in my Ministry shirt, I do take solace in the fact I was probably pissing off the fans around me, but no where near as much as their apathy was doing the same to me.

2008-08-15

The Crap Wars

So, today I took Thing 1 to see the newly released "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." Here's my assessment of it:

It sucks. It has all the makings of what it truly is, an afterthought for a TV show pilot.

Before I get into it a word about the clones themselves. They seem to wage war like the French. Only they have about 50% the accuracy rate. They've also started taking liberties with hairstyles (and colors)...whooop de frigging dah! The main thing that saddens me the most is that they won't be able to truly show these things being blown into the bits of putrid waste they are.

The first impression that this whole thing is going to suck occurs as it opens. Like the original series, there is no John Williams score. Only this time it's war chaos (the "Fall Back" was fitting). There is also no Words-In-Space!!!! A Star Wars movie ... without them, think about that.

The animation is meh. There isn't texture to the flat planes, but I think that's "the style." When you look you see exactly what it is ... a television cartoon (which cost you a movie ticket).

The plot has been presented before. Anakin is now a Jedi Knight and is teamed with the blue girl tentacly thing that got mowed down in the funky mushroom patch as a Padawan. They have to defeat a whole slew of droids before they can rescue Jabba's son. The only new droids were the mine-bots actually guarding the shield generator so you can pretty much imagine how it plays out. Oh yeah, just for a twist they're led by Sean Connery and he manages to capture Obi-Waaa.

Dooku apparently rescued Asajj Ventress but neither this nor her becomings are explained. The two of them are using Jabba's Uncle Zero to help them kidnap his son Rotta, and are trying to blame it on the jedi. Even if I didn't know what happened to them, I still couldn't have guessed how this would end up.

There are continuity problems (big surprise) with the whole thing, but when he's already done so much to ruin our childhood movies, why stop now. All in all I'll say this whole thing is going to be as ghey as Jabba's Uncle Ziro. The sad part is that the fan base will still watch it, buy the stuff they offer, and pass this blind following gene onto the next generation. God knows I'm doing my part...

2008-08-10

Linux Tip o' the Day

Today was the monthly meeting of the Charleston SC, Linux User's Group. While people were talking, I took the initiative to configure something that's been bothering me for a while. Basically, I do not like the default settings for Gnome's clock applet. I want it to be displayed in YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS format. With thanks to Juhaz from Freenode.##Gnome, I was able to do this. Basically, it involves configuring:

~/.gconf/apps/panel/applets/clock_screen0/prefs/%gconf.xml


This is the XML configuration file for the clock. To change the way it appears, you need to adjust the following settings to the values listed below.


<entry name="format" mtime="1218398125" schema="/schemas/apps/clock_applet/prefs/format" type="string">
<stringvalue>custom</stringvalue>
</entry>
<entry name="custom_format" mtime="1218398125" schema="/schemas/apps/clock_applet/prefs/custom_format" type="string">
<stringvalue<%Y-%m-%d %T</stringvalue>
</entry>

2008-07-25

My Cells

I've been going to class and learning all sorts of wonderful things since the 14th. Today, we got to see the results of two days worth of immunocytochemistry work. It involved staining HeLa cells two different ways: with a fluorophor-conjugated secondary antibody and ToPro3 (to highlight the nuclei).

I've been told the picture is good, but must honestly admit that I'm very surprised. During the process, I switched well positioning, mixed the ToPro3 incorrectly the first time, and totally borked the nail polish application.

Here's how they appeared under the confocal microscope:

2008-07-11

An old friend revisited

It's weird the turn of events life brings you. My last post concerned a week-old auction of an old friend.

Well, it seems that transaction fell through and the old friend got put back on the block. So, I am happy to mention that today, my 32 birthday, I have just purchased the Cybermotion Navmaster Self-Guided Vehicle.

http://www.govdeals.com/eas/closeditems_sold.cfm?itemID=1010&acctID=685

Looks like I'll be putting up my sign soon :-)

2008-06-23

Old Friend

Talk about serendipity...

Today I presented a talk on PGP/GPG for the Charleston SC Linux Users Group. Later, I discovered a member was a robotics fan. It made me reminisce about my "days of olde" and I started googling things.

The first result took me here:

http://www.govdeals.com/eas/closedItems_sold.cfm?itemID=1010&acctID=685&CFID=7282408&CFTOKEN=65738827

I'm truly amazed. I'm also very disappointed that I didn't find it a week ago.

For those that don't know, I'll fill in with the back story. It'll also give you some insight into LabThug.

That item is MARVIN -- Mobile Autonomous Vehicle with Intelligent Navigation. He is a CyberMotion (now defunct?) NavMaster K2A mobile platform. That was the star of USC's (now defunct?) mobile robotics lab. That lab was the birthplace of LabThug. See back when I was a student there, I was lucky enough to work-study for that lab. I worked on MARVIN: reprogrammed him to navigate mazes, showed him off to visitors, assisted in hardware repairs, etc. I lived in that lab for 3-4 years. I made friends there. MARVIN was one of them. I wanted to take MARVIN with me when I left. I would have paid (and still will) more than $180 to do so.

LabThug was created because people/things in that lab were being bothered by freshmen (or was it sophomores). So, we decided that a friendly "leave us alone" message would assist in keeping things on the up-and-up. So we made a sign, a copy of which makes up my homepage. It was at moment, within that lab, with MARVIN at my side, that LabThug was born.

And, the rest they say, is history.

2008-06-19

Updating Firefox the other way

OK, I just got around to updating a PC to FF3. While they reached their total without my help, I had heard about problems.

Instead of doing the download thing, I tried the built-in update option. Actually, I tried the start-it-and-see-if-it-tells-you-a-new-one-is-available thing. I've gotten spoiled by that feature. Well, Firefox seemed to over look a few things for people trying to update this way.

It told me I was out of date, which was right; but told me to upgrade to 2.0.0.14. This was fine I thought, "Sometimes to jump major releases, you need to hop through the most recent point one." Of course, imagine my surprise when I restarted and got this:



Haha I thought, let's just try the update again. No dice!




So, apparently you can't update from 2 to 3 this way...at least yet.

Charleston Parks Conservancy

For those that didn't show ...

I attended a "bloggers event" today, at least that's what the computer printout said. It was in the upstairs of 39 Rue de Jean. Here's how it went down:

I could hear distant talking as I walked up the stairs. Suddenly a blonde in green came into view to welcome me. There were two others just like her. If they said names; I forgot, sorry. A quick scan of the crowd revealed some people I knew, which is always a good thing. Before I made it over to them, the host, Lyn Mettler introduced herself. She also pointed out the food and drinks.

The guy at the bar never told me his name; but when I told him I don't drink and asked for tea, he suggested water. I got a few lemons too, it helped to cover the Cl.

The spread was quite nice: grilled squash & zucchini with ranch, fried artichoke hearts stuffed with 3 types of cheese & marinara, fruits with chocolate sauce. Oh, and little bread chips. Those rocked.

From what I gathered, Lyn was introducing Jeff (or was it Jim...I'm really bad with names) from Charleston Parks Conservancy (CPC). This guy was teaming up with Paul (I'm pretty sure..that or Phil). There was also a guy from Brains on Fire. He was....damn, I have to start stocking up on that Ginkgo Bilbao stuff.

What CPC is trying to do is improve local awareness of the city's 120 parks. They are planning on doing this through their website and a host of other "grass-roots" efforts. In addition to picking 5 Park Angels, they want to create a wiki with each park in detail so users can share stories, etc. They are loosely affiliated with the City's Parks and Recreation Department. They also said they modeled themselves after the Central Park one.

There was also a small presentation hosted from a Mac. It had some sort of iPod hook-up to play relaxing Muzak.

There were questions, but I don't remember them now. Overall this project has a lot of potential, I hope it pans out -- we'll see what happens.

They gave out a copy of the press release, and had a few buttons (I kept the let's get dirty one). In addition, they gave away a crinum bulb. I'm thinking it would be fitting for me to plant it in the park across the street. We'll see how that goes.

Kyle and .... ooh, what was her name, were there handing out pins for thedigitel.com. From what I understand, it's a local news aggregator. Right now, they're just focusing on Charleston, although I'm sure their model could be extended to other cities quite easily.

And hey, guys and girls reading this. If you have the names straight, leave them in the comments :-$.

2008-06-10

Why I love Linux

"smb_fill_super: missing data argument"

and

"CIFS VFS: cifs_mount failed w/return code = -22"

apparently mean the same thing:

"you need to `apt-get install smbfs`"

2008-05-31

Gun Show

I've been told by others that I don't post enough. This is mostly because I'm a firm believer of not filling the Internet with worthless junk. I try to only post items that truly represent the essence/rage of LabThug. Today is a day for posting because it brought forth an item that is dear to LabThug's heart, this quarter's edition of The Land of The Sky Gun and Knife Show. To honor one of our nation's most fundamental rights, I spent way too much money to preserve your ability to "to keep and bear Arms."

For those that are curious, here is what was bought:



The First U.S. Navy Jack is the one thing that I am proud of purchasing most and it is dear to my heart for two reasons. First, I have family members that have served in the Navy. Second, it is a derivative of the Gadsden Flag, and bears the same motto, "Dont tread on me." While Mr. Gadsden was very much a true gentleman from the lovely state of South Carolina and one that is looked upon with honor by LabThug; it is this motto that is very much quintessential LabThug.

What you do is your right, and I really, truly, don't care what it is that you do. However, don't come into my Lab and tell me how I should do things, nor allow any of the stupid shit you do to override my own personal liberties. That is where I draw the line, and if I have to use what else is in that chair to redraw the line that existed, consider yourself warned.

2008-05-06

Random Update

Well, enough time has passed for me to get motivated to sit down and update this thing. A lot of things have happened since the last post. My replacement hard drives finally came in. My PC now has a new Power Supply (the predecessor of which I believe might have been causing my problems due to being underpowered). In addition, I upped the RAM to 4GB, added the new drives, and installed Hardy. So far it looks like everything is working. I even finally have my RAID5 back. It's nice to know I'm finally back to the point I was last July. Hopefully, everything will last longer...

Saw Iron Man Friday night with The Wife and enjoyed it. Got full on sushi first...yum. Unfortunately we came back to puking kids :-( They seem to be better now, which is good.

I joined twitter and jaiku, updated facebook a couple of times, and still did the things work needed done. So yeah, it's been a fun time...

2008-04-25

Pride

My eldest daughter had her first school ballet recital today. They did an interpretation of Alice In Wonderland. Here's the little sweetheart in action:



Enjoy!

2008-04-24

Stories from South Carolina

For those that don't know, I live in the greatest state of the union. There were two stories that came across the news tonight that proved once again just how great my state is.

First up is this little gem. For those that don't want to click the link, it shows our law-makers superior rational abilities in action. First, the background: a few weeks back, they busted up an illegal gambling operation using a law that makes "any game with cards or dice" subject to prosecution. The sponsor of the bill was concerned that similar rules would prohibit such items as Chuck-E-Cheese. However, this bill won't be making it into law due to the fact someone somewhere in our great state could instantiate a scenario that could bring back the most evil of all evils, video poker.

The second story discussed in this entry didn't earn a posting on wcbd's website, and I have to wonder why. It concerned a bill being discussed that would prevent commercial ads from being display on the insides of school buses. Regardless of how you feel about this, here's the point that I would like to make. First off, I ride CARTA to/from work and have for about two years. My employer pays the fare and today's gas prices motivate me to take advantage of this opportunity.

Now, CARTA does allow commercial ads on their buses, and I have no problem them doing this to make a buck. However, their ads only appear on the outside of the bus. True, there are some CARTA materials (including the outdated free-vet-ride one), and a few drug study recruitment posters; but there isn't anything from the .com side. I have often found this funny, because I know CARTA could (finally) make some good money allowing them on the inside.

This feeling has now been further amplified by this non-webpage worthy news, simply because I have to ask the question: Why is it when these ads can't get in front of adults, are we discussing having them in front of our children? What does this really tell us about my state's marketing priorities?

Come on down, move in today.

2008-04-20

Hardy Hardly

Looks like Hardy won't boot on my HTPC either. I'd log a bug, but I can't seem to login to launchpad.

2008-04-16

Things a fluttering...

The package from NewEgg arrived today. It was ordered three days ago. So far I've been happy with their service :-). They've even got a UPS Order tracker feature. What's nice about that is that you can use it for other UPS packages. The weirdest part is that it reports things *better* than the UPS one (IMO). It actually knows where the package is going while the UPS one only says where it departed from.

There's a lot of things going on for me right now. Work, School -- ending one, starting another. The daily should I do this, that, something else entirely. Home, family, all that good stuff.

But it is the fluttering in my chest that I'm focusing on the most...

2008-04-14

I help make magic happen

I am honored to have been a part of this:

http://xark.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/04/magic-doing-wha.html


Hmmmm, I need to figure out tracebacks...

2008-04-13

Bbbbbrrrrraaaaaiiiiinnnnnssssss

A friend of a friend is putting together a short independent movie called "Brunch of the Living Dead." He was filming the "brunch" scene today and needed extra zombies. Me and the eldest daughter decided to join and fill in some parts. Basically, it was us dragging up to the restaurant, sitting down, eating, attacking the waitresses, etc. It was a lot of fun. I'll have a post to the movie when it gets out of post-production.

Seagate Update

Got a response from Seagate a few days back. Here it is...

Response (Pranab TS200) 04/09/2008 02:25
Thank you for contacting Seagate Warranty Support.

With regards to your query, as you have mentioned that two more drive failed, we would request you to contact our online technical support team at 1-800-732-4283 from 7:00 AM - 9:00 PM (CST) Monday to Friday with option number 1 & 2 and initiate a discussion with them and if they say that the replacement drive sent from Seagate is faulty, kindly get back to us with the activity number so that we can assist you further.

However, if you are looking for the Advanced Replacement Option, we would like to inform you that you will be charged a non refundable fee of $19.99 per unit plus applicable taxes. The fee includes two days delivery service to your address depending on the availability from the time of allocation which will take approximately 24 to 48 hours, a prepaid return label to Seagate along with the appropriate packing for the return of your product.

To obtain this option kindly call us at 1-800-732-4283 Option 1, 3 & 1 (7:00 AM - 9:00 PM CST) Monday- Friday with the Visa or Master card details so that we can assist you further. Please do not provide the credit card details through email for security purpose.

We apologize for the inconvenience caused to you. Awaiting your response. For further assistance email us, we will be glad to help you.

Regards,
Justin
Seagate Warranty Support.


Of course, that justified this response:

First off, in regards to the need to contact tech support, I should inform you that I have an MS in Electrical Engineering. This means that when it comes to computers, you can trust my judgment. Both drives make a Kur-DUNK...click...click...Kur-DUNK (repeat) noise. Both of them fail the SHORT test from the "SeaTools for DOS" application. Both of them hang my system when I try to run that utility's LONG test. I feel these three items gave me enough evidence to correctly diagnosis the problem. If you really think there is something in the tech support script that I haven't already done, please let me know. However, I think I've already gone far enough in this process to know 100% that these drives have failed and need to be replaced while under warrantee.

Also, in regards to the Advance Replacement Option, I would like to inform you that I feel given my miserable experience with your company's products that Seagate should provide this service to me FREE-OF-CHARGE. Kindly write up the work order to allow this. If this is not an option that your company will utilize to keep a customer satisfied, just generate an RMA #, send me a prepaid shipping label, so I can get these drives back to you and have replacements sent out. Please know that the latter option will result in a terribly unhappy and very vocal customer.


"Justin" then coughed up a pre-paid shipping label. I guess this means Seagate is happy having terribly unhappy and vocal customers. Keep this in mind when you purchase your next hard drive.

2008-04-08

8 out of 5 Hard Drive Failures

Well, I finally got around to mailing Seagate a letter asking for my 7th and 8th replacements. This is out of the original 5 they've sent me.

Hello, it's me again. Two (2) more drives of yours have failed on me. I've been through this process several times, but it seems the only thing your company is able to do is send me drives that fail. If you'd like to try again and send me something that will last longer than a few months, please do so.

Usually, you'll send me a pre-paid shipping label to get this process rolling. Considering the history we've had, it would be really nice if you would throw in one of those advanced processing items.

The drives that have failed this time are:

ST3500630AS 9QG225BX
ST3750640AS 3QD132TE

2008-02-04

fsck hang

Well, three replacement drives are on their way from Seagate. But something hung the machine (feisty) solid. Now, it's sitting the same way its been for the last 2.5 hours @ 18.6%. How long should I leave it???? The weird part is that the link lights are blinking like crazy. I pretty strongly believe that fsck shouldn't be hitting the network.

Sigh...

2008-01-13

Seagate can no longer make quality drives

Dear Seagate Warranty Representative:

Three in-warranty drives have failed in my system, two of which were replacements for previous failures. These are the fourth, fifth, and sixth drives to have failed for me out of a five drive order. That's right, I have had more drives fail on me than I have bought. This is beyond unacceptable to me, and I am at the point where I believe any further drives you send will also be faulty. Aside from the loss of my RAID array and its data, I have lost faith in your company's ability to meet its own quality standards.

The drives that have failed are:

9QG5W15M (In Warranty Expiration 17-Jun-2012) (Previous RMA 1000499189)
9QG21T6X (In Warranty Expiration 01-Jun-2012)
9QG165FJ (In Warranty Expiration 12-Jun-2012) (Replacement provided by reseller)

I have determined these drives have failed through the use of SeaTools for DOS (v1.09PH). When performing the LONG test, each drive began clicking and hung the SeaTools session. In addition, my Linux kernel generates errors similar to the following:

ata4.00: exception Emask 0x10 SAct 0x0 SErr 0x1950000 action 0x2 frozen
ata4.00: cmd c8/00:01:01:00:00/00:00:00:00:00/e0 tag 0 cdb 0x0 data 512 in
res 40/00:00:00:00:00/00:00:00:00:00/00 Emask 0x14 (ATA bus error)
ata4: hard resetting port

I am beyond disbelief at the abysmal product you have given me and past the point where I can be appeased by a pre-paid shipping label. If you want to keep me as a good faith customer, you will replace each of the above drives through your advanced replacement program free of cost. You can ship the replacement drives to:

<Censored/>

2008-01-08

Candidates: Now that you're focusing on SC, do us a favor and ignore the flag

I live in CNN's next political "State to watch". These upcoming days are going to be a real joy for me.... The one thing that I'm most looking forward to is the mentioning of "an old piece of cloth that means so many different things." However, there is one thing I wish all the candidates would do when it's mentioned, ignore it.

Yep, ignore it. Ignore it simply for the fact that this is truly an issue that doesn't matter. Not only that, but you aren't going to understand enough about the core of this issue to make a statement that means anything of subsistence. Ignore it, it doesn't matter.

First off, I should point out that I prefer this flag way more than the one that's this post's topic. Also, living where I do, and being the person that I am, I am familiar with a majority of the issues and can see this flag as others do.

As I mentioned, this flag doesn't matter. Hell, it's no longer the same flag most people think it is. Yeah, when it was flying above our statehouse, it was the First Confederate Navy Jack. This is the same flag that was flown by the members of the KKK, and has become mired between Pride and Prejudice. However, when it was removed from the statehouse, our legislators changed the flag that could be flown to The "Battle Flag" of the Confederacy. This is the flag that still flies today on a confederate monument detached from the statehouse. It is also the only confederate flag that is allowed to legally fly on our statehouse grounds. Yep, it doesn't matter.

Now, I'm am not saying that it doesn't matter to the people that feel the way they do towards it. I'm not even trying to convenience any of them to change the way they feel. I'm just saying that for the candidates of this race, "it does not matter to you, ignore it." The only candidate that can tie any claim to being concerned about this flag is Seneca's own John Edwards. Sorry Johnny, but once you joined "the folks on top," you lost your voice on this issue. So for you and all the other players, "ignore it."

Ignore it simply for the reason that you should be focusing on the things that do matter to our NATION: such as the Ira[q|n], health care, our economy, and yes indeed, maps for our schools.

I'm sure someone's going to pull Obama into this claiming that there is some "special reason" why he should be allowed to say something. I'm sorry but there really isn't. Being the way you are makes you just as different as the rest of us. Pointing out differences to override someone else is the reason this flag got into trouble to begin with. It's time for him above all the candidates to ignore it, admit it doesn't matter, and move on.

Finally, there is the fundamental reason why the candidates should ignore it. They should ignore it quite simply because there is only one flag they should focus on. This is the flag they are running for. This is the flag they want to fly. It is quite different from the flag that flies down here. Those differences are what they should be focusing on. This was a state's issue, and we have dealt with it already. Wasting their air will never turn it into a federal case. Ignore it, it doesn't matter. Please, for the love of all that is great about our nation: IGNORE IT.