Archive for May, 2011


Monday, May 30th, 2011

It has been a somewhat slow holiday weekend, and I’ve been spending a good-sized chunk of it messing with stuff.

I wanted to upgrade my existing wireless router to something that had dual-band (2.4GHz/5GHz) support, and would also run the dd-wrt firmware. So, thanks to the great Jeff Atwood, I went ahead and ordered a Netgear WNDR3700, got it on Friday, and started trying to get it set up on Saturday.

I like dd-wrt in principle, and I think if you’re willing to put up with it, the firmware offers a very rich feature set. But the documentation could use a lot of work. I bricked the router several times (though I was able to recover it): the instructions on this page work just fine for flashing the factory_NA.img file, but the router would lock up and require a tftp reflash as soon as I tried to flash any other version.

Once I got past that, it took a little more skull sweat (though not quite as much) to get my Maxtor EasyShare NAS working as a CIFS device, and to get a static IP assigned to it. (The dd-wrt docs on assigning a static IP even admit that the assignment process is buggy.)

A little more skull sweat after that and I was able to get the 1 TB drive I’d attached to the USB port on the router mounted using Samba and accessible from both the MacBook and Project e. So now I have about 1.3 TB of network accessible storage, which is nice. Transmit power seems reasonable: I can get a signal on my Evo well out into the parking lot of my complex. (I haven’t tried tweaking the transmit power or other settings for the radios in the router, which is one of the nice things dd-wrt lets you do.) I also like being able to put in three DNS servers; again, acting on a Jeff Atwood suggestion, I downloaded and ran namebench, and added a tertiary name server based on its recommendations.

Ah, but there’s a problem. I want to run a closed network using the 5 GHz radio only (for maximum speed) and an open network using the 2.4 GHz radio (isolated from the main network). It turns out that, while the netbook does support wireless N, the adapter only runs on the 2.4 GHz frequency. So if I want to get top speed on the netbook, I need to get a USB wireless N adapter that supports 5 GHz and is supported under Ubuntu. (I don’t want to go through the whole ndiswrapper thing.) And I haven’t been able to find that yet…

Oh, yeah: I also upgraded Microsoft Office to the 2011 version: prior to all of this, I upgraded the MacBook to 10.6.7, and Office 2011 seems to run much better under 10.6 than the Office 2004 I was using. And I can get rid of the file conversion utility.

Still on my list of things to do before school starts up again, besides updating the Saturday Dining Conspiracy pages:

  • root the Evo. But since 2.3 is rumored to be coming down the pike real soon now, I think I’ll wait for that update before rooting.
  • upgrade Project e to Ubuntu 11.04. But given the things I’m hearing about the Unity interface, I’m having second thoughts on that. Apparently, you can disable Unity on 11.04, but it’ll be the only interface in 11.10.
  • do a BIOS update on Project e. Which isn’t that big a deal, except for the part about preparing a DOS bootable USB disk under Linux or MacOS.
  • I still want to work on improving my photo setup so I can take better gun photos. Mostly, I think that’s a matter of building a light box, and perhaps purchasing some additional lights and a tripod.
  • I’d like to get part three of “Talkin’ GPS Blues” up before I go back to school.
  • I’d also like to get back into the MIT Open Courseware swing.
  • I’ve got most of the parts for a dedicated NAS box sitting under a desk, and should probably start trying to assemble that. Missing: RAM, storage space for the FreeNAS OS, and storage drives.

There’s travel in there as well. And somewhere, Mike the Musicologist is snickering at me…

Script Ohio.

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Jim Tressel out at Ohio State. The Columbus Dispatch says he resigned, but strongly suggests he was pushed.

Everyone was expecting this in light of Ohio State’s recent troubles, and I get the feeling someone thought it was good timing to do this over a holiday weekend.

Obit watch: May 30, 2011.

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Former Texas governor William P. Clements, Jr.

I always thought Clements was an interesting character. He was the first Republican governor elected since Reconstruction; as a matter of fact, his campaign was the first (and only) political campaign I recall any of my family members volunteering for.

On the other hand, I wasn’t aware until many years later that Clements was involved up to his ears in the SMU scandal. (A Payroll to Meet is the definitive book on the scandal and Clements’ involvement, but don’t pay $245 for it.) On the gripping hand, I’m not sure Clements and SMU did anything that UT and A&M were not also doing at the time; SMU was just unlucky to get caught, and unlucky enough to be the test case for the “death penalty”. (Notice how the NCAA hasn’t used the “death penalty” since then?)

Time to do the happy dance!

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

I received an email from the Texas State Rifle Association fairly late in the day yesterday.

Senate Bill 321, aka “the guns in parking lots” bill, has passed both houses of the Legislature, and is on the way to the Governor’s desk for signature.

I haven’t been able to find much press reporting about this. According to the TSRA email, there are some limited exemptions involving people servicing oil and gas wells on leased property, and school district employees. Also, according to TSRA, people in the petro-chemical industry have to have a CHL, but are allowed to keep rifles and shotguns, as well as handguns, in their vehicles.

Everyone else, including those employed by college campuses, can now keep a firearm and ammunition out of sight in a locked personal vehicle.

I am both delighted and eager to see how this plays out. Well done, TSRA. Well done.

Darn it.

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Apparently, I’m not getting invitations to the right kind of weddings.

(Seriously, I wanted to link to this post because it is excellent advice from Ken, and not the kind of advice that can be easily summarized as “Shut the hell up.“)

Books in brief: Boomtown DA

Friday, May 27th, 2011

The population of Houston, Texas in 1960 was 1,364,569. By 1980 the population was 2,754,304, or slightly more than doubled in twenty years.

A reasonable argument can be made that the period from 1960 to 1980 marks the end of the Texas frontier era, and the beginning of the modern Texas era. My family moved to the Houston area fairly late in that period. I remember reading the daily newspaper (we were a Chron family), and it seemed that there were giants in the earth in those days. Carol Vance was one of them. Boomtown DA is his story.


Public service announcement.

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Since this weekend is a national drinking holiday, the Austin Police Department would like for you to know that it’s perfectly okay for you to get totally trashed on booze and then drive and/or boat.

Can someone explain to me why you’d ever purchase a personal watercraft, at least if you live in Austin? It seems that personal watercraft are banned on the lakes every single damn holiday: if you do own one, when can you use it?

Ah, what the heck, I’ve been meaning to link this for a while, and the national drinking holiday makes it relevant: bonus Negroni related content just for Glen. I may have to pick up a bottle of Campari and some sweet vermouth this weekend.

Your May 25, 2011 bulletin from the Department of WTF?!

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

This by way of FARK: I’m breaking with policy because…it’s just so mind-croggling.

Since 2006, Alvarado’s supervisors at the Northside Independent School District Police Department had reprimanded or counseled him on at least 12 occasions — six for not following orders. In other cases, Alvarado failed to show up for assignments, and his bosses appeared to suspect him of lying.

Alvarado was suspended at least four times, and his supervisors warned of impending termination four times — once even recommending it.

Four suspensions. Six incidents of insubordination.

In two separate cases, Alvarado was suspended for collecting evidence that disappeared, including an MP3 player and fingerprint cards.

Where is this going? Back in November, Officer Alvarado once again disregarded the orders of a supervisor and went chasing after a suspect: a 14-year old boy who punched a classmate in the face. Officer Alvarado ended up shooting the unarmed 14-year old.

The San Antonio Police Department has ruled the case a justified shooting. The Bexar County district attorney’s office still is investigating.

And there are parts of his story that don’t add up:

“The suspect bull rushed his way out of the shed and lunged right at me,” Alvarado wrote. “The suspect was literally inches away from me, and I feared for my safety.”

Tracing the bullet’s path into the boy’s chest as it ricocheted off the pancreas, colon, right liver and left kidney and exited the stomach, an autopsy report notes a lack of gunpowder on Lopez’s bloodstained T-shirt.

“There is no evidence of close range firing of the wound,” the report concludes.

Quotes of the day.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

One serious, one not so serious, both from Boomtown DA by Carol S. Vance.

(Background for young people and non-Texans: Vance was the District Attorney for Harris County from 1966 – 1979. More than likely, there will be a longer post about this book once I finish it.)

It is the duty of the district attorney in Harris County, Texas (Houston included) to represent the State of Texas in all serious criminal cases. That includes the misdemeanors carrying jail time which are tried in our County Criminal Courts at Law and the felonies tried in our District Courts.

It is the duty of the district attorney not just to convict but to see that justice is done. [Emphasis added. -DB]

The “Cladue” in the next quote is Claude Langston, who was an investigator for the D.A.’s office. As Vance puts it, “Thirty years in the homicide division gave Claude a nose for finding witnesses and good barbecue.” (“Orange” refers to the glass bottled soda, not the fruit itself.)

Claude often said, “You know, even sittin’ outside in August in ninety-nine degrees isn’t so bad if a man has some good barbecue and a large orange. That’s just part of a good homicide case.”

Obit watch: May 25, 2011.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Huguette Clark, “antisocial socialite”.

I recommend clicking through and reading the entire NYT obit. Ms. Clark was 104 when she died, and her story is one of the saddest things I’ve read recently.

In addition to the Astor comparison, I’m reminded somewhat of the Green family, particularly Sylvia Green.

On a totally unrelated note, I think I’m going to have to pre-order the Blu-Ray edition of Citizen Kane.

(Hattip: I actually saw the obit skimming over the NYT site this morning, but thanks to Althouse for providing the link.)

Blue Blazers.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Sorry: I intended to link to this yesterday, but got distracted.

Rich Cho out as GM of the Portland Trail Blazers after 10 months on the job.

Art, damn it, art! watch. (#22 in a series)

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Rachel Owens is looking for money to purchase wrecked Hummers.

Placed in Manhattan’s Dag Hammarskjold Park — Gateway to the UN and designated site for international protests — the piece will be composed of the crashed hummers piled atop one another in a junk-yard heap. Welded together in a monumental pyramid-shaped stack and sprayed with opalescent icy-white auto body paint, the piece will also evoke the form of an iceberg.

But wait, there’s more! She also plans to install a stereo system!

…instead of the hip-hop as heard in the city or the heavy metal soundtrack many soldiers use as a way to “psych” themselves up, the moody songs of whales and crashes of calving glaciers will emanate from the speakers – the haunting sounds acting as a cry for everyone. In accordance with this soundtrack, the headlights of the cars will be set to dim and brighten.

If you’d like to help Ms. Owens out, her Kickstarter project has five days to go. However, she’s raised (as of this writing) $17,111, and only needed $15,000 for the project, so don’t feel obligated.

How can you resist this offer at the $5,000 level, though? Pledge that much money and you’ll get

a large original piece from my series, “Skulls” (retail value $6,000) that are represented in many major collections world-round. The piece is made of a real cow skull encrusted in broken glass.