Part One | Part Two | Part Three

The image is focused onto a photoelectric chip then converted into a mass of ones and zeros. That glob of data is processed, formatted, and compressed, then transmitted over electrically charged wires and then converted again, this time to pulses of light, and then beamed half way across the continent where the process is reversed. The image is then displayed in all of its digital glory on a large wall-mounted screen among ten or so others that line the wall.

The screens showed various views. Some displayed vacant lifeless rooms, others were filled with crowds of people and still others moved through various locations. The main screen showed a room with a couch. The perspective appeared to be from where a video recorder or a game system might be placed next to the vidscreen. On the wall behind the couch there was a splotch of red liquid that fanned out in little rivulets. Like someone had sneezed their brains onto the wall.

"Did you see that?"

"Damn, yeah. Another one. We even had a unit in place."

Two technicians stood looking up at the scene displayed on the vidscreen. They were both sipping from cups of steaming coffee. One was tall and decidedly long-limbed, the other was short and rather round.

"Go get the supervisor, we need a deployment decision." Said the first tech. His voice had a drawn mechanical sound to it. He stood with his head perched on one arm and hugged himself with the other. His back curved into a hunch.

"This can't be good Jim." said the short man.

"Not good at all. Find out if we should send the Albert into combat mode" Albert was the nickname of the 4163-R7 model that was sending the images currently being projected on the main vidscreen. It wasn't the newest model they had out but it was an all-around good robot, excellent stealth capability and decent maneuverability. Most owners of the 4163-R7 have only an inkling of its entire array of functions. The lack of documentation however didn't hurt Mega Robot Corp. most people just used it to play video games. Mega Robot had no qualms with this, they didn't want to give away all of their trade secrets.

The other tech, the shorter round one, scuttled away to find the supervisor.

"This is a potential PR nightmare. You're telling me an owner of one of our robots was attacked in his own home by a Nano Ninja Monkey?" The supervisor was a squat man, almost as big around as he was tall. He was waving a thick cigar around in the air. Plumes of smoke haloed around his head as he gestured emphatically.

"Don't send that Albert into combat mode! Bring him home, I don't want anyone knowing that a Mega Robot was in the house and didn't stop that monkey." The supervisor waved off the short man with a dismissive gesture. Thin wisps of smoke followed him out the door.

The supervisor leaned back in his chair behind a large artificial mahogany desk. This meant big problems for Mega Robots. If the Nano Ninja Monkey had a new breed that was undetectable by the robots' current software then a massive update would have to be produced. They needed to get a hold of one of the new monkeys. He pushed a small square button on his desk.

"Yes?" Said a voice embodied by the desk.

"Have you heard about the situation?"


"We need to get that monkey- I don't think the Albert is equipped to handle it."

"I've already considered this...Two 1014's have been dispatched to contain the threat." The desk said.

The speaker clicked off and the supervisor wiped sweat from his brow. "A Lola," the supervisor mused. He'd never actually seen one of them; he'd only heard the stories. A large chunk of ash fell from his cigar onto his tie. "Shit."

The short round tech came scurrying back into the situation room.

"RECALL!" he shouted to Jim.

Jim punched a few keys on the keypad in front of him. The main vidscreen swung down and forward as the Albert transformed out of its cube form and became mobile. As the Albert was bounding out the door two streaks flashed across the vidscreen.

"What the heck? What were those, Mark?" Jim said turning to the short man.

"Do you ... Do you think they sent Lola's?" Mark said. A touch of wonderment making him sound breathless.


A white van driving off down the street was visible from the house. The door creaked as a slender metallic claw slowly pushed it open. Silence greeted the two slender linear forms that stood before the door. Through years of research and development, their bodies had been optimized and formed into thin skeletal frames. All of their internal components were ultra-miniaturized. Most of what was visible on the Lola frame was plastic piezoelectric muscle which covered a very thin tubular composite frame. They were both small, about at eye level with the door knob. Their size allowed them extremely fast ground speeds, and because of their extreme quickness, there was no need for extra armor over the layers of plastic muscle.

A sensor array was mounted on top of the skeletal frame with full 360 horizontal rotational capability. The platform also allowed 270 degrees of vertical tilt freedom in any direction. Their tracking capabilities were unmatched. The two largest sensors on the array gave the Lola's a bug-eyed appearance, the large lenses allowed for maximum light capture. In other words, they can view the entire light spectrum. These dual sensors scanned the building through the doorway. No movement. Heat sensors reported a mammalian in the vicinity but there was no direct line of sight. The two identical robots looked at one another in a caricature of human non verbal agreement. Some of their radio transmission equipment was directional to allow for greater range. The two robots continued forward silently.

The Lolas were in constant communication, flocking algorithms encoding and decoding signals endlessly. They were Mega Robot's first synchronizing robots. They worked in concert, like a pair of hands molding a clay pot, or the hammer and anvil. Their first mission was to extract the Mega Robot Corp customer. Bad press was hard on the bottom line. Cleanup was necessary to keep a good public image and a good bottom line. The second mission was to capture the new Nano Ninja Monkey.

The two robots scanned the house again for heat signatures, then targeting the largest non-mobile signature moved down the hall way to the body lying in front of the box. Their movements were silent and quick. Metal and plastic polymer claws gripped the clothing of the young man and they hoisted the figure effortlessly above their bulbous heads. They ran out of the house; ants carrying a gift for the queen back to the hill.

A quick radio transmission was sent from the first Lola and received by an automated white van that had dropped them off. A mobile base, it was Mega Robot standard operating procedure for delicate missions. The white van that had been circling the block screeched to a halt in front of the house the rear doors flinging open on pneumatic actuators. The two robots deposited the young man in the back and the doors closed automatically as the van sped off.

The two Lolas turned back to the house and entered through the open doorway. They moved so fast that they were practically invisible. A brief screech was heard followed by the sound of breaking glass. The two robots emerged, moving slower now. One was dragging a limp monkey with a feathery red dart sticking out of its limp form. Another white van pulled up to the house, this one with a human driver, and the two robots jumped in the back along with the monkey. The van drove away slowly.



now: everybody who wants to tell me that Linux is mature enough for the average user is happily invited to eat my underwear. The last 24 hours have been extremely frustrating, for numerous reasons:

Last night I was quite happy seeing my new machine compiling first and second stage of Gentoo. At 02:30 it finally finished compiling, and I was finally allowed to reboot the machine, just to find out that there was a problem with the partitioning of the HD. With other words, 18 hours of compiling were all done for zilch.

That's it, I thought, and got out Suse 8.2, an OS I had successfully installed on one of my machines in Germany (quite easily, actually). So out came the CD's and hey presto, Suse installed quite beautifully, with a nice graphic user interface during installation. Fine, I thought, this seems to work! After 15 minutes of straightforward installing the machine rebooted, and: nil! Suse's installer, Yast2, seemed to have a problem with either my monitor or my (pretty old) graphic card. Ok, I admit, a PCI Trident TGUI 9680 chipset from 1994 is not the most common of cards, but Xfree has had a driver for it for years, and my monitor (a similarly ancient TVM AS4D) worked until days ago in my office.

So I tried to change the boot parameters of Suse, but to no avail: none of modifications seemed to work. Ok, I thought, let's try to configure XFree by hand (I always managed this on OpenBSD, so hey, why not on Suse), only to find out that Suse doesn't have a Xfree installation client. They have their own thing called sax2, but that insists on starting within an X-Window, so even on the lowest, most harmless specs the bloody thing didn't work.

Funnily enough, Knoppix 3.3 never has one problem with either Monitor or Graphic Card, so obviously Karl Knopper's hardware probing must be much better than Suse's.

So now I'm back with OpenBSD: I know that XF86config works with my hardware and it's much safer anyway. It's also less bloated: the amount of packages that Suse installs on your desktop is mindblowing. Even though OpenBSD's installation procedure is a bit tricky, at least the result is always reliable. And that from someone who doesn't know his Grep from his Grok. I am normally a happy Mac user, so this has taken me to new abysses of hardware/software recognition.

Linux on the desktop?

It's a loooong way away (if you have unusual hardware).

Previous Day

Next week

(This is the kind of bright ideas I wish I had a blog for.)

Google, Inc caught everyone by surprise with GMail. Announcing it on April's Fools didn't help for sure, but once the smoke cleared and everyone realised GMail was a reality, it was still a baffling move. 1000 MB of storage? Webmail from the we're-all-about-search Company?

We all remember why Google is so successful and Yahoo! stagnates, why google is a verb and yahoo isn't. They're the search company. Yahoo! got greedy, tried to turn into a multifaceted web portal service, and by trying to do too many things at once they ended up sucking at all of them. Meanwhile, Google did one thing, but they did it right. Google is about search, people! When they created Google Images, Google Groups, Google News, Froogle all of those were about the search of information, not email! And the Google Toolbar? That was a search tool, not some punch-the-monkey-send-email thingamajig! It's Google's Second Commandment :

It's best to do one thing really, really well. Google does search. Google does not do horoscopes, financial advice or chat.

Here you go! Search is their business, their moneymaker-- hang on a second, what's their moneymaker again? Have you ever paid for a Google search? Maybe if you bought Google-in-a-yellow-box. But I know I never paid for a Google search. You know how they make money :

Google is a business. The revenue the company generates is derived from offering its search technology to companies like America Online and the and from advertising sales based on keyword targeting.
- That's the Sixth Commandment

People who claim that Google have strayed from the Way have forgotten what Google's business is. Google's business isn't search. It's what they do, and it's what they do best, sure. But when it comes to business, Google do one thing, and they do it "really, really well" : their business is targeted advertising. The best search engine in the world is just a much-more refined version of the proverbial horse to provide that service.

Don't be fooled, Google are still doing the same thing they've been doing all along. And if their track record is any indication, they're going to be the best at it.

Note : By saying the obvious-yet-often-overlooked truth that Google is a business that provides targeted advertising, I'm not trying to paint them as an "evil" corporation, partly because I don't believe in such a notion -- a corporation is successful or it is not, but also because I really don't think they are "evil" in the sense that say Microsoft or Wal-Mart are. On the contrary, Google are a very smart company. They know that the best way to make a successful corporation is to please the user, and they provide a terrific service. However, Google aren't a philanthropic organization. They're a corporation.

I guess there has been a little bit of controversy on E2 recently regarding some people's views on the war in Iraq and its repercussions. I must say that the tenacity displayed by the opponents of the war and their ferocity in trying to essentially silence the anti-war E2 users (and one user in particular) was surprising, saddening and somewhat contradictory to me. Furthermore, I find the increasing homogeneity of views expressed by E2 users, and the insistence on these being the only correct views, to be rather distressing and detrimental to the overall quality of E2 (this refers to a somewhat broader scope of issues than only the recent mini-scandal).

Surprising, becasue I have always considered the vast majority of E2 users to be somewhat more open to dialogue than what I have perceived in the last few days. Surprising, because I have always considered that sharing opposing views in a civilised manner was a major advantage of E2 polemic as oppossed to many other public fora.

Saddenning, because the anger and ferocity displayed by supposedly intelligent and educated individuals does not bode well for similar discussions among the somewhat less intellectually gifted members of society at large. Saddenning, bacause reading a statement like: 'you are essentially not welcome here fucker' directed at an opponent are very reminiscent of relatively recent historical occurences where many 'fuckers' were also unwelcome because of their views.

Contradictory, because it seems strange to me that someone who is so idealistically oppossed to violence and war can be so aggressive and violent to another person holding an different view.

I would like to point out that the above is a result of my perception of some people's tactics and may not neccessarily be truthful. I am more of an E2 reader than a frequent catbox contributor or an active E2 community member, which is why I base myself only on some nodes that I have read as well as some homenodes. Maybe I am wrong, which in this case I wouldn't mind at all. I do have to admit that I have always been somewhat uncomfortable with the (in my view) very much leftist orientation of E2. Many users have views that go against my nature and that literally cause me physical discomfort. I was always able to handle these views, though, because, and I am repeating myself here, they were generally presented in a civil and courteous manner. I hope to see more of that in the future and hope that my perception of recent goings-on will turn out to be false.

I cannot stop myself from adding a quick personal note on Iraq. I will limit it to a short personal observation since all that can be objectively said about the topic has most likely been covered in a node or 10,000. I am from a country that has been invaded several times in the last century. No, I have not experienced it first hand but have heard a lot of stories and accounts from people who did experience it all first hand. All of them to the person, wished that the Allied/Western countries gave more than only moral and ideological support during the early stages of WW2 and soon after. Maybe a proper and earlier use of force would have spared many lives and would have prevented the enforced spread of the Socialist ideal on major parts of Europe and outside...just maybe. I am absolutely convinced that the majority of Iraqis do welcome the expulsion of Saddam Hussein, no matter what other ulterior motives the coalition forces may have had. I am therefore proud that my country too, is involved in the operation.

Relax Davi, take a deep breath. You know you had very little to do with this. You did nothing but write a rant on a webpage. This isn't like five dollar poker where you kept winning hand after hand. This streak will not keep going...

Something worked. I don't know exactly what it was, but something worked. And I hate to say it, I hate it more than anything, but THANK YOU NEW YORK YANKEES!

Anyone from Boston reading this, I didn't actually mean that

But I did. Like my rant yesterday, the Spankees put up a stink about webbing on their bases and pitching rubber. They told baseball they'd put the base coverings on for warmups and batting practice, and that's it. They would not have them on during the game, which would be watched by millions of eyes, which kinda made the movie company lose all the gains from its 3.6 million. This, combined with poor fan reaction made MLB decide, "Hey, maybe this isn't such a good idea after all." All I can say is, "Well, DUH."

To make this somewhat interesting, here are some good ideas for baseball:

  • Bring back the stolen base! Rickey was the greatest lead off hitter of all time. He could make contact, but more than that, he was faster than greased poop! He pilfered well over a hundred bases several times in his career. The major league leader in steals last season had a measly 55. That's one every three games! Pathetic! Barry Bonds is receiving so much hype cuz he hits the ball far. That's nice Barry, get off the juice. Human growth hormone won't help you steal third base.
  • Fire Bud Selig. There are several issues as to why Bud Selig is ruining the game of baseball. I will only list a few here. First off, he was an owner. He used to own the Milwaukee Brewers before he became commissioner of Baseball. Basketball, OTOH, picked David Stern, a lawyer and basketball fan as their commissioner. Stern went after money and TV time. Selig gave his daughter the Brewers as he couldn't run the team and commission at the same time. If that's not a conflict of interest, I dunno what is. *his daughter, BTW, is making approximately one ass-ton of money off of revenue sharing and putting a cheap, crappy team out season after season. This should be stopped at all costs, as she's not the only one doing it*
  • Have a drug testing program/drug treatment program. Give them to everyone, or make sure no one has them. Nuff said
  • Find a home for the Montreal Expos, please.
  • After the season, pick a dome and do a US vs The Dominican Republic game. That would kick ass. Or atleast a 4 team World Cup with USA, The Dominican, Japan and Mexico (if not other Latin nations)
  • Did I mention fire Bud Selig? Oh I did? Just checking.
  • Make every ballpark have something unique. Fenway has the Green Monster. Wrigley has the ivy. PVC/SBC/whatever park it is in San Francisco has McCovey's cove. Make people from out of town want to go to your ballpark. And, this goes for all sports here: STOP NAMING THE STADIUMS AFTER COMPANIES!!!!!!!!!! for the sweet love of Jebus
    • Damn Davi, You need to relax.

My place of employment's phone number is one digit away from the city health department

Apparently, due to some whimsy of Fate, our phone number here at the office very closely resembles the number of the city's health department; in fact, the last four digits are exactly the same and the first three digits of our number is 621 and the first three digits of the health department is 612. So one can easily see how careless dialing could get you a hold of us instead of the health department (or, "rat department," or "bad sandwich department," or "rat people" - various other monikers it is identified with by the lesser-educated folk).

Sometimes amusing, sometimes annoying, these calls come in numerous times a day: I'll change my company name to something different here

"Coolpages, can I help you?"
"Yeah, ah need t' speak to yo rat department, I got some rats in mah basement."
"I'm sorry, this is Coolpages, we design web sites."
"These rats, they gettin' big, and we need you guys to come down here and--"
"No, sir, this is not the health department, you have dialed 621-XXXX, you need to dial 612."
"I dialed 612!!"
"Uuh, no you didn't. We're not the health department. We design web sites. You need to dial 612. We don't take care of rats."
"Listen here, these rats--"
"Have a good day, sir!" CLICK.

I suppose it was only a matter of time, but a few years ago my boss - an avid fan of crank calling fiends like the Jerky Boys and Touchtone Terrorists - decided he was going to have a little fun with these callers. He invented a "character" he called "Slick Willy" (it not-so-coincidentally resembled the deep, gravely-voiced Touchtone Terrorist character that's always saying "Ah've been workin' all day..."). In fact he started recording them with the help of a former sales rep. Whenever this sales rep would get a health department call, he'd put them on hold and yell to the bossman: "Health department, line two!" And then my boss would generously put the call on speaker phone so we could all share in the joy!

"Yeah, I gots rats in mah basement..."
"You got rats in yo basement?"
"Yeah, reeeeel big ones, they's--"
"How big ah they?"
"Well, ah dunno, maybe 'bout two, three feet long?"
"Damn, yo, those are some big rats there, ma'am!"
"Yeah, can you send somebody out hur to take care o' these suckas?"
"Lemme acks you a question: have you named yo rats?"
"Name them?! Why the hell would ah name them rats?!"
"Ah like to name 'em sometimes. Like Blinky, or Spot..."
"Listen hur, I want you to come out and take care o' those lil' bastards, OK? I ain't givin' them no names, OK!"
"OK, where do you live?"
"I live at (XXX X)Street..."
"There?! Oh, no, ma'am, I ain't goin' down there!"
"Well, why not?!"
"Ah got cah-jacked down there last week! They even took mah pants!"
"Yo pants?! They even took yo pants?!"
"Yeah, took 'em clean off! So I ain't goin down there!"
"Well now who is gonna come ovah and take care o' mah rats?"
"Well, ma'am, you need to dial our uthu department, 612-XXXX." CLICK.

Not all calls are about rats, though. We got a call once, some guy complaining about a bad sandwich he got at a restaurant. "Slick Willy" asked him what he put on his sandwich and then proceeded to tell the caller what he liked to put on his sandwich and what he liked on them, which of course mystified the man. None of the other calls were quite as humorous as the one above, though (it's not an exact quote, but pieced together from my oft-inaccurate recollections).

Update: May 13, 2004:
Somebody just called asking about a "Food Permit." No, they were not messed with, but boy we were tempted!!

Culture shock to be back in Germany after nearly two months in Thailand and Laos:

The weather was nice those first few days but now the rain and cold has returned and that means no more frisbee. Fuck Germany.

Now that Im unemployed I no longer have an internwet conection so I either have to go to an internet cafe and pay 2.50 euro an hour or come to the WeinLander in Wiesbaden (a styly wine bar with an internet terminal) and drink chianti as I type. Could be worse.

I have a bunch of plans to hit the fleamarkets in the coming weeks to sell some of the Thai goods (fisherman pants, tribal items, bags, handmade books, paper lanterns, etc). Also selling some of it on ebay, like the Tin Tin t-shirts.

Im living with Dirk again in Wiesbaden... this is working well. I have two rooms and only pay 200 euro rent. So far so goof.

Im collecting German unemployment to the tune of 820 Euros a month. Very good. Quinn is coming on the 8th of June and in the 11th we are going to Venice. Then on the 29th we're going to Greece or Spain for 10 days. Monday I have to go to Frankfurt to get a new passport as I have run out of pages in mine.

Borrowing a slide projector for 2 weeks so I can run some slide shows of my Thailand photos. Got lots of nice stuff, think its some of the best work of my life. Dont know what to do with it. Want to do something commercial, maybe write up a proposal for some travel magazines and try to sell it as an article or photo essay.

What elks? No I mean what else... not much, smoking pot, wanna go and see some concerts... haven't been to one all year... not normal for me. Still we got Tortoise, Cowboy Junkies, Stockholm Syndrom and DJ Krush coming up. That'S it... and June 4, 2004 is the 100th anniversary of James Joyce's Bloomsday. Yay!

Today, I secured my role in society as a failure.

Had I been a good lad and done what I was supposed to, today would have been my last day of compulsory education. But I am not a good lad, I am a lazy-fucking-ass. Today was the last day of school for the senior class. Because I am a lazy-fucking-ass, I am classified as a junior and have about two and a half weeks left this year, and one semester next year.

If you are one of the miserable collections of flesh and hair still unfortunate enough to be in middle/high school, I have a message for you:


*Or Chemistry, or World History, or Physical Education, or whatever class you try to squirm out of working in.

I know failing one class, one quarter/semester may not seem like too much, but if you let that attitude fester they all add up very quickly. I am two credits short of getting my high school diploma when the senior class walks, after having made up about 8 credits I had failed before. Highschool is torture, yes, but one day you will find yourself at the end, and it will come much sooner than you think. It seems just like it was just last week that I was groaning about having to go to Mr. Silvius'** class, but it was really a year ago.

**Name not changed to protect the innocent. If you live in Jacksonville Beaches area of Florida and have this guy, then get a schedule change, he's a total dick.

So please, for the love of the diploma fairy, do your work. You will regret it, otherwise.

Sales Order Processing; or, the empty mug of the coffee drunk aforethewhile (part one: to form the constrained, disordered thoughts into coherent text rather than scattered light)

I now turn myself to my mug, my coffee mug, although it is really more of a cup than a mug, and it is not exclusively used to port coffee. Indeed, the cup seems designed for hot chocolate rather than tea or coffee, for it has 'Maltesers(r)' emblazoned on the side. The humble cup is an interesting vehicle for creative expression, closely related to the urns and pots with which the ancient Greek whiled away his time. The circular design of the pot lends itself to linear storytelling, in either a clockwise or widdershins rotation. Furthermore, the cyclic nature of the unbroken ring - punctuated only by the handle - is ideal for portraying recurrent events. And, as students of history would no doubt agree, all events recur, eventually. History itself is not so much a study as an act, an act of recurrence, of repeating the past. An event or thought which is unique cannot be remembered without destroying its uniqueness, for remembrance is repetition. TANGERINE DREAM.

Maltesers are a British chocolate sweet. They are spherical pellets of roughly the bore diameter of a 16 gauge shotgun. They consist of a honeycomb interior covered in a layer of chocolate, and have been around forever and will continue thus. I have no idea if they are actually a British invention, or if they are a successful American import, or whether they are sold outside the United Kingdom, and I do not care to find out. I believe they involve some kind of malt - I have not yet received a satisfactory explanation as to the definition of 'malt' - and might once have been sold as a laxative, hence the name. Many of the sweets and soft drinks which we consume as entertainment nowadays were once sold as an aid to digestion, or as a cure for all kinds of ailments. I conclude this paragraph by speculating that, in the future, people might quaff Benelyn and other cough medicines for recreational purposes, perhaps even morphine and cannabis and so forth. It might happen.

The Malteser mug is also blessed with a drawing of a frog, a drawing of a bear, and a drawing of some Maltesers. Turning the mug counter-clockwise, the frog sits on the 'left', the bear sits on the 'right' (only his head and neck are visible) whilst Maltesers float between the two creatures. Both the frog and the bear have their mouths open, the bear's tongue lolling out; they are both looking at me. The story these pictures tell is ambiguous. It appears as if the frog and the bear have been caught in the act of eating the Maltesers, the frog in particular looking very worried. Alternatively, they could be waiting for me to approve that they eat the Maltesers.

Looked at in another way, it seems as if the bear is cascading Maltesers out of his mouth, into the mouth of the frog, and that they have been interrupted in this intimate exchange. Both bear and frog are sufficiently cartoonish, sufficiently Hana-Barbera-ish, to obviate sexual connotations, although one struggles to imagine how a frog and a bear could have a sexual life in any case. Although the animal kingdom does not generally require the duration or intensity of stimulation with which humankind goes about the business of reproduction - four thrusts, a yelp, and that's it for most creatures - it seems unlikely that the bear and the frog could find happiness together.

Perhaps the Maltesers will make them happy. I do not know why the company behind Maltesers - probably Mars - think that a frog and a bear are likely to instill brand loyalty into the kind of people who take hot drinks. More likely the presence of the frog will remind people of Monty Python's classic 'crunchy frog' sketch, mention of which inevitably, hypnotically leads to mention of lark's vomit, a substance which one could imagine inside Maltesers, and which the creators of Maltesers would no doubt wish to un-imagine from our minds.

When I think of bears I think of bears, nothing else. They bring forth no allusion in my brainitalia. I cease.

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