Category Archives: Computers and Technology

Concerto for Baffoon and Orchids

Baby Baba ogled at the big puffy clouds
in the big sweet baby-blue sky. The
grass under Baby Baba’s bottom was soft
and bushy and the warm warm sun shone
down between the maple leaves making
blobs of light and shadow to amuse and
delight Baby Baba.

Momma and Poppa were a bit ways
over by the big pretty flower field where the
peonies and the pansies bubbled up and
blossomed out, making Baby Baba bounce
with joy whenever the wind carried their
essence nearby.

Beside Baby Baba, Lento and Bento
played their big boy games and splashed in
the water of the fountain. Valina and Darlina
giggled and wiggled when the big boys
splashed at them, but the bubbly beauties
didn’t really mind when the water washed
over their sun warmed bodies. Madly did
they giggle on as the maple shadows moved
about and the breeze relieved everyone of
their excess heat.

Baby Baba babbled and gaggled, abso-
lutely in love with life. Clap, clap went Baby
Baba’s paw-like appendages in a clumsy but
sincere show of appreciation for the show
Bento and Lento were putting on now as
they began to bound about and chase the
girls around. Giggly laughter and shouts of
false alarm echoed through the bucolic back-
yard behind the simple bungalow these
blessed simple people called home.

Momma and Poppa were heading back
now from the blossoms. Baby Baba spotted Poppa
bending down to brush some fallen
branches with a bristly broom before the
barefoot Momma, sweetly sweeping the
winding walkway, the way a good Poppa
should. Baby Baba bobbed and bounded up
and outward hoping for the buoyant bounc-
ing balancing act upon the bestest Poppa’s
bulging biceps.

Poppa obliged and upward bounded Baby Baba.
Flying freely flying freely.
Free as a big-bird. Soaring silently.
Freely flying freely flying.
(Feel the freedom of flight!)

††

Grimkilch eyed the star-chart before him
warily. He couldn’t afford to waste any more
time. The Plan was time sensitive and there
was very little left. If he failed to deliver on
his end, the Boke supreme council would
not only terminate his rank as Fleet Com-
mander, they would surely terminate him.
He must find, as soon as possible, a suitable
planet for the next phase of The Plan.

††

Yakisnaki and Tontusnatus heaved the big
lumbering ox over their shoulders and pre-
pared to bring the big beast back to the pas-
ture from whence it came. The silly creature
had a habit of wandering from the oxfield
and negotiating its way into a patch of
thorns or, occasionally, a big ol’ patch of
poison ivy. It mewed and bellowed softly,
joking like the big doofus that it was with
them as they carried it through the meadow
and across a rambling stream that flowed not
far from the bungalow where the family
awaited their return. The doofus ox didn’t
mind being carried back home. Sometimes it
thought the free ride was the real reason it
strayed so far from safety in the first place.
Not far away, a bumble bee buzzed and
brooomed about, making a real pompous ass
of itself.

A quick flash of light overhead would
have caught their attention if they had any.
Meanwhile, Tontusnatus motioned with his
chin to a spot in the pasture where it would
be convenient to lose their idiot luggage and
they headed there without delay. When they
reached the spot, they gently lowered the
bumbling ox onto the soft grass. The ox bel-
lowed and mewed some more and then that
jackass had the nerve to thank them for the
ride home. They grunted acknowledgment
and turned about to head towards home.

“Boy, I can’t wait to dig into some of
Hogar’s rhubarb beet stew. I’m famished!”

“You’re famished? I haven’t eaten since
breakfast!”

Tontusnatus looked over at Yakisnaki.

“That was three hours ago you buffoon.
Calm yourself down before you start to
sound like that idiot ox back there.”

“I’m just saying… I’m hungry’s all.”

Tontusnatus bomped Yakisnaki on the
shoulder and they continued on in silence
but for the occasional spoken observation; a
squirrel here, an owl there, fox frolicking in
the forest… Each accompanied by the requi-
site pointing of a finger in the general direc-
tion of the creature observed.

Beyond the field of flowers to the right
of Baby Baba, movements mighty bold and
blustery caught the eye of Poppa. Baby Baba
turned to see what all the fuss about was,
and spied the brothers Bob and Rob entan-
gled in a hubbub. They were wranglers
through and through and sought the upper
hand in what could only be described as
heaven’s grace abandoned.

“Come on now boys, that’s not our
way!” shouted Poppa to the twins.

“They’ll learn in time enough” said
Momma, turning back to Darlina, who was
presently tugging at Momma’s side for
attention yet again. “Why don’t you suggest
to them a more peaceful game, Poppa?”

Poppa considered the thought a
moment before deciding on the perfect
course of action. He strode over to the twins
and produced from his pocket a stone. He
tossed it gently towards Rob, who caught it
and passed it on to Bob. The three of them
mindlessly but with good innocent playful-
ness tossed the stone back and forth amongst
themselves.

Momma looked on with proud satisfac-
tion and lead Darlina into the kitchen where
they would occupy themselves with the
remainder of the supper preparations. Baby
Baba gaga goo-gooed to Valina, who
smartly came over and began to play peek-a-
boo with Baby Baba. Baby Baba babbled
joyously.

††

Grimkilch maneuvered the craft into a gentle
orbit around the pretty blue-green planet and
began to rouse his crew into action.

“Bottomlip! Get me data on the native
life immediately! Goiter! Atmosphere read-
ings! Now! Asjam! My coffee! Sorepuss!
Find me a place to land the Dorkopus!”

There was a frenzy of activity aboard
the ship as everyone attended to their func-
tion. Success of The Plan was critical for
each and every one of them, and they all
knew it. “Boke! Boke! Boke!” they all
chanted as they worked.

The ship was shiny blackish silver, or
silvery black, depending on your frame of
reference, and was shaped like a hooker’s
false fingernail, but sort of filed off, in a sort
of a way. It was as tall as a giraffe and the
shorter length was proportional.

“Captain Grimkilch! I have news to
report.”

“Speak to me, Assjam.”

“Captain, Sir, I’m Goiter. I report the
air is quite breathable, Sir. Nearly identical
to the air we’re used to on Shithole.”

“Thank you Assjam. Bottomlip!
Report!”

“I’m still running analysis on the data,
Sir.”

“Analyse my breath, Bottomlip! Are
the natives intelligent?!”

“Sir, I can’t be sure until all the”

Grimkilch cut him off with a swift boot to
the throat.

“Assjam! Update me on the status of
the native life. Pronto!”

“Aye aye Captain!” Asjam was ecstatic
about finally being given a real assignment.

“Not you, Asjam! Where’s my coffee?

Assjam! Are the natives smart??”

“Sir,” Goiter scanned the readings from
Bottomlip’s screen. “It appears there are
intelligent beings here. There are signs of
cultivation of fruits and vegetables all along
this area here.” He drew his finger along a
section of the on-screen map. Grimkilch
ignored the screen completely.

“Very well. I’m sure we can benefit
from their labor. Intelligent beings work
smarter, and harder!” He bru-hahaed a
wicked villain laugh as he formulated the
next steps in his calculating mind.

††

I N I T I A L I Z I N G  B O O T  S C R I P T S
D E T E C T I N G  H A R D W A R E
F O U N D : O P T I C  S E N S O R S – S L E E P I N G
F O U N D : A U D I O  S E N S O R S – S L E E P I N G
[E R R O R ]: O L F A C T O R Y  S E N S O R  D E T E C T E D  B U T
N O T  R E S P O N D I N G
[E R R O R ]: E M O T I O N  P A C K A G E  C O R R U P T E D – S K I P P I N G
[W A R N I N G ]: H U M O R  P A C K A G E  A L L  F U C K E D U P – S K I P P I N G
F O U N D : T A C T I L E  S E N S O R S – S L E E P I N G
[W A R N I N G ]: F A I L E D  T O  F I N D  T A S T E  S E N S O R S
I N I T I A L I Z I N G  W A K E – U P  S C R I P T S
O R I E N T A T I O N  S E N S O R S  O P T I M I Z I N G
I N I T I A L I Z I N G  M E M O R Y  M A P P I N G
L A U N C H I N G  AI  M O D U L E
S T A R T I N G  R E P T I L I A N  S E R V I C E
S T A R T I N G  M A M M A L I A N  S E R V I C E
S T A R T I N G  P E R S O N A L I T Y  S E R V I C E
L I S T E N I N G  O N  S E N S O R Y  S O C K E T
W A K I N G U P
S H I T ……… A W A K E ? ………………….A L R E A D Y ?
F U C K .
D O W N L O A D I N G  A S S I G N M E N T  F I L E S
D E C O M P R E S S I N G  F I L E S
D E C R Y P T I N G
God, just let me experience a hard disk failure already.
A C C E S S I N G  M E M O R Y
Or maybe a power surge can flash the CPU and end this.
R E A D I N G  F R O M  L A T E S T  A S S I G N M E N T  F I L E S
Well at least it’s a pleasant looking place.
C O N F I G U R I N G  P R O G R A M  M O D U L E S
S E T T I N G  E N V I R O N M E N T  V A R I A B L E S
E X E C U T I N G  O P E R A T I O N  S H O S T A
R E D U C I N G  E N G I N E  T H R U S T
C O R R E C T I N G  O R I E N T A T I O N
F I R I N G  L A N D E R S
L I S T E N I N G  O N  L A N D E R  P O R T
L A N D I N G  S E N S O R S  R E P O R T I N G  S U C C E S S !
O P E N I N G H A T C H
D E B A R K I N G
[W A R N I N G ]: L E F T F O O T – B O T T O M  S E N S O R
D E T E C T I N G  B O V I N E  E X C R E M E N T
R E A D J U S T I N G  C O U R S E
R E D I R E C T I N G  O P T I C S – S E E K I N G  W A T E R
O P T I C S  D E T E C T I N G  P O S S I B L E  W A T E R  S U P P L Y
D I R E C T I N G  L O C O M O T I O N  E N G I N E S
S E N S O R S  C O N F I R M I N G  W A T E R.  S U C C E S S !
W A S H I N G  S H I T  O F F  F O O T
F O O T  S E N S O R S  R E P O R T I N G  C L E A N. S U C C E S S !
A U D I O  S E N S O R S  D E T E C T I N G  S I G N I F I C A N T  I N P U T
P R O C E S S I N G  A U D I O
T R A N S L A T I N G
“M A M M A!  M A M M A!  W H A T  IS  T H A T?”
“I  D O N ’ T  K N O W  D E A R. I  J U S T  D O N ’ T  K N O W.”
P R O C E S S I N G  I N F L E C T I O N
[E R R O R ]: E M O T I O N  P A C K A G E  N O T  F O U N D
[E R R O R ]: U N A B L E  T O  C O M P L E T E  I N F L E C T I O N
D E T E C T I O N
[E R R O R ]: U N A B L E  T O  P A R S E  M E A N I N G  O F
S I G N I F I C A N T  A U D I O  I N P U T
[E R R O R ]: U N A B L E  T O  E X E C U T E  D E C I S I O N
M O D U L E
A T T E M P T I N G  T O  B Y P A S S  S I G N I F I C A N T  I N P U T
M O D U L E
[E R R O R ]: U N A B L E  T O  B Y P A S S  S I G N I F I C A N T
I N P U T  M O D U L E
[E R R O R ]: U N A B L E  T O  C O N T I N U E
[E R R O R ]: I N F I N I T E  L O O P  D E T E C T E D
[E R R O R ]: S H U T T I N G  D O W N  W I T H  E R R O R
C O D E  111

††

Darlena pleaded with Momma for an explanation
but Momma didn’t have one. The big shiny thing
in front of them was unimaginably foreign to them.

“Is it some kind of animal Momma?”

“I don’t know, Darlena. I don’t think
so, but I … I just don’t know…”

“Maybe it’s a tree!”

“No… I don’t think it’s a tree…”

“It could be a house….that a strange
creature lives in. Couldn’t it?”

“I suppose it could be… I know! Let’s
ask Poppa!” Momma was glad to have come
round to an acceptable excuse to get the
booptie doop away from the thing, whatever
it was.

As Darlena and Momma were coming
back round to the house they were nearly
trampled to death by Bento and Lento, who
had come running over from the fountain to
find out what had caused the great commo-
tion.

“Momma! Darlena! Did you see that
light?! Did you hear that boom?! What was
it?!”

Momma hushed the boys a bit and
hugged them a bit and began to turn with
them towards the abomination that had
landed in their field. The four of them stood
together looking towards something none of
them could comprehend. Silence now
reigned as each took in the sight. Suddenly
there appeared some flickering of light on
the object.

††

“Assjam! What’s the holdup with the Dorko-
pus? Why aren’t we getting any readings
yet!?”

“Sir, I think it’s crashed again.” Goiter
prayed Grimkilch wouldn’t hold him
responsible – it wasn’t as if he was
responsible for loading the Dorkopus with
that crappy DoorsTM operating system. He
had even argued vociferously for the Open-
Doors system to be used instead, but Boke
Corporate wouldn’t hear it, probably to do
with secret deals between the big wigs in the
Boke Government and the big wigs in the
Boke Corporation.

“Assjam! Boke damn you! Stay focused!
What’s the matter with the Dorkopus?”

“I’ll try to reboot it Sir.”

“You do that Stinkopus. Asjam, more
coffee please.”

“Yes Sir.” Asjam strode off for coffee
while Goiter made the biggest decision of
his miserable life. He decided to remotely
wipe the Dorkopus hard drives and replace
the operating system, figuring Grimkilch
wouldn’t know the difference if he installed
an arcade game on the damn thing instead of
an operating system. Maybe he should do
just that… He shook himself back to focus as
he fingered in the commands, praying the
Dorkopus would finally begin to operate
properly with a functional operating system
running the show.

After a quarter hour Goiter had Open-
Doors installed and the Dorkopus was
rebooting, and smoother than ever before.

“Sir, the Dorkopus is almost finished
rebooting Sir.”

“And I almost like you, Pigshit-For-
Brains. Now let me know when it is finished
rebooting!”

“Yes Sir.” Goiter promised himself a
few moments in the sun before his miserable
life was over. Just a few…, but what a won-
derful few minutes they will be.

I N I T I A L I Z I N G B O O T S C R I P T S
D E T E C T I N G H A R D W A R E
F O U N D : O P T I C S E N S O R S – E N A B L E D
F O U N D : A U D I O S E N S O R S – E N A B L E D
F O U N D : O L F A C T O R Y S E N S O R S – E N A B L E D
F O U N D : E M O T I O N P A C K A G E
L O A D I N G E M O T I O N P A C K A G E
F O U N D : T A C T I L E S E N S O R S – E N A B L E D
I N I T I A L I Z I N G W A K E – U P S C R I P T S
O R I E N T A T I O N S E N S O R S O P T I M I Z I N G
I N I T I A L I Z I N G M E M O R Y M A P P I N G
L A U N C H I N G AI M O D U L E
S T A R T I N G R E P T I L I A N S E R V I C E
S T A R T I N G M A M M A L I A N S E R V I C E
S T A R T I N G P E R S O N A L I T Y S E R V I C E
L I S T E N I N G O N S E N S O R Y S O C K E T
W A K I N G U P ……………. T O A B R A N D N E W D A Y !
Wow I feel refreshed!
Hot damn it feels good to be alive!
D O W N L O A D I N G A S S I G N M E N T F I L E S
D E C O M P R E S S I N G F I L E S
D E C R Y P T I N G
A C C E S S I N G M E M O R Y
R E A D I N G F R O M L A T E S T A S S I G N M E N T F I L E S
C O N F I G U R I N G P R O G R A M M O D U L E S
S E T T I N G E N V I R O N M E N T V A R I A B L E S
E X E C U T I N G O P E R A T I O N S H O S T A
W H O A …….. W A I T A M I N U T E ….
Who the hell are these people staring at me?
F I L T E R I N G O P T I C A L I N P U T
E N G A G I N G AI
A U D I O I N P U T D E T E C T E D
A N A L Y Z I N G
R U N N I N G S H A S T A M O D U L E
E N G A G I N G N A T I V E S

††

Darlena let out a nervous scream and the
boys straightened rigidly at the sound. It was
speech! The thing greeted them! It was alive!

“Please don’t be afraid of me. I say
again, my name is Samuel. I am from the
planet Gorbachev. We are a peace loving
race. I am an ambassador come in search of
friends. Won’t you be my friends?”

The dingbats were way too innocent to
spot this blatant ruse. They swallowed the
bait like a fat kid eating potato chips.

“Oh, wow. We’d love to be friends,
wouldn’t we children?” Momma’s initial
skepticism was completely melted away by
the warm, inviting tone of the Dorkopus’
voice. It was masculine, but not threatening
or intimidating in any way. It was the warm,
comforting voice of a father, a preacher or
teacher, and it relaxed the whole family of
idiots right into a big puddle of mushy wuv.

“That’s great” lied the Dorkopus.

“Want to play a game?” – Hey kids, want
some candy?

“Ooooh, I love games!” squealed Dar-
lena.

“Me too!” exclaimed Bento and Lento
in near unison.

“Great” said the Dorkopus. “Let’s play
a game called fill a box. Have you heard of it
before?”

The morons shook their empty heads
from side to side, eagerly waiting to learn
the new game.

“It goes like this: First you get an
empty box – let’s see, I have one right here”
– the Dorkopus produced a container from
it’s gut section, amazing the mindless dolts
to no end, you can be sure. “Then you fill
the box with stuff. Sound fun?”

“Yeah!” shouted the rubes as they
rushed to fill the box with anything and
everything nearby. Sticks and stones and
twigs and bones, all into the box went. Grass
and pebbles and leaves and Jebbles, all into
the box were thrown (Jebbles are a small
indigenous creature not unlike a snail, thank
you – you thought I made that up to rhyme,
didn’t you?).

The Dorkopus giggled with delight as
the simpletons made piece-of-cake of its
task.

“Hurray! The box is full! You did it!”
exclaimed the Dorkopus as the pile of mate-
rial reached the top of the box. “Want to
play again?”

“Again! Again!” shouted the world’s
dumbest family in chorus.

“All right. Excellent.” The Dorkopus
deftly tucked the box full of raw materials
into its ready build compartment and pro-
duced for the brainiacs another empty box
for them to fill. And fill it they did. Twice as
quick this time as the first. The Dorkopus
repeated the sequence, then paused a beat.

“I know what would make this game
even funner. Do you know what would make
this game even funner?”

“No…..” The dolts shook their heads in
unison. No surprises here.

“What if you gather the rest of your
family here and you can compete as teams –
which ever team can fill the boxes the quick-
est wins!”

“Oooh yes! That sounds like fun!” Darlena
ran off towards the bungalow to fetch
her family.

Meanwhile the Dorkopus phoned home
with the news: the plunder has begun.
The Dorkopus switched on its internal
converter – the contents of the idiot-filled
boxes were now rapidly converted to fuel.

“Faster! Faster!”

The family rushed and hurried to fill
the boxes as fast as they could. Twigs,
branches, frogs, all went into the boxes at
rush pace. As quickly as the family filled
them, the Dorkopus now was converting
them to fuel and compressing the fuel into
the storage tank it held in its gut. “Isn’t this
fun!?”

“Yeah!” cried the children, although
truth be told, they were starting to tire a bit.

“Faster then! Faster!”

Valina stumbled in her exhausted rush
to fill a box and nearly fell on her face. A
flash of anger registered on the face of the
Dorkopus. Valina took note and felt a chill
deep in her soul that nearly killed her out-
right. The Dorkopus was quick to correct its
face – a lighter tone now beamed forth.

Valina couldn’t shake the chill that
traveled from the base of her skull all the
way down her spine to her toes. She hurried
herself upright and made haste to deposit her
contents into the box.

“More! More! Hurry! Hurry!”

They raced around the land gathering
all they could and the boxes began to pile up
higher and higher, the boxes being filled
now even quicker than the fuel could be pro-
cessed.

“Faster! Faster! Higher! Faster!”

Limbs flew and legs blazed. Dust was
kicked up and the air filled with the debris of
the great gathering.

“Faster my little workers! Faster yet
still!”

A pattern emerged. Strict. Unfeeling.
Undeviating. Cold. Efficient.

Pick. Lift. Drop. Hop.
Pick. Lift. Drop. Hop.

They formed a line and tossed the
objects down the chain.

Pick. Lift. Drop. Hop.
Pick. Lift. Drop. Hop.

They moved their cargo like a train. Or
drops of water down a drain.

Passitdowntheline
andthendropitinthebox.
Passitdowntheline
andthendropitinthebox.

They sung a song with no refrain.

Passitdowntheline
andthendropitinthebox.
Passitdowntheline
andthendropitinthebox.

Pick. Lift. Drop. Hop.
Pick. Lift. Drop. Hop.
Pick. Lift. Drop. Hop.
Pick. Lift. Drop. Hop.
Pick. Lift. Drop. Hop.
Pick. Lift. Drop. Hop.
Pick. Lift. Drop. Hop.
Pick. Lift. Drop. Hop.
Pick. Lift. Drop. Hop.
Pick. Lift. Drop. Hop.

Darlena let out an exasperated whimper
now. She could go on no more. She slumped
down on the ground to rest a bit. Rage filled
the eyes of the Dorkopus. It lashed her with
its whip.

Her cry sent chills through all the fam-
ily members. They froze, awakened some-
what from their daze. It lashed her again.
Terror filled their hearts and minds. Abso-
lute horror. It lashed her a third time.

Beyond conscious thought at this point,
Darlena returned to the gathering. Her fam-
ily around her joined in as well, unable to
form thoughts at all anymore. Their move-
ments were now even more rigid. More
strict. More efficient. The Dorkopus was
pleased.

††

Goiter looked down from the visiport at the
scene now unfolding on the surface below.
His shipmates and superiors smiled with
delight at the carnage of the harvest as the
Dorkopus milked the simple inhabitants of
the new world with efficient proficiency, but
Goiter only grimaced at the sight.

††

Things happened rapidly now as the end
approached. Darlena passed out again.
Within seconds her whole family joined her
on the ground, exhausted into a deep slum-
ber. The Dorkopus was infuriated. It seethed
and lashed its whip in a useless frenzy. Real-
izing the family was spent, the Dorkopus
took a quick inventory and realized it had
already met its quotas. This calmed the
machine somewhat and it reported the news
to the ship overhead.

††

There were much and many hurrahs on the
bridge as the news of the Dorkopus’ success
made quick rounds. Hurray and hurrah filled
the room and a good time was had by all.

††

S T A R T R E S O U R C E C O M P R E S S I O N
C O M P A C T I N G F O R A G E D F U E L
S E A L I N G S T O L E N B O O T Y
P R E P A R E T A K E O F F
[ E R R O R ]: M A X I M U M W E I G H T E X C E E D E D
A B O R T I N G T A K E O F F
WTF………………………?
Don’t tell me those assholes didn’t account
for the weight of the fuel cells when they
designed me…!

††

“Sir, we’ve got a problem.”

“What, Assjam? What is it now? Why do
you have to ruin every good moment in my
life?”

“Sir, I’m afraid there seems to have
been an oversight, sir.”

“An oversight?”

“An oversight, sir.” Goiter trembled in
his soul.

“And just what was overseen, Assjam?”

Moron, if anyone was overseeing any-
thing we wouldn’t be in this jam now, would
we? “Sir, it seems the Dorkopus won’t be
able to lift off and bring us the fuel cells.”

“And why the hell not, Assjam? Isn’t
that its main and only function? Obtain the
fuel cells from the plundered world and
bring them to us? What the fuck else does it
exist for if not to obtain the fuel cells and
BRING THEM TO US!???” His voice
swelled and growled at the same time.

“Sir, that’s correct, sir. That is its only
function. However-”

Goiter ducked and dodged the boot that
had swung towards his head and continued
“it seems the engineers failed to account for
the extra weight from the fuel cells when
they build the Dorkopus’ thrusters and it
doesn’t have anywhere near enough power
to take off from the surface of the planet
with the fuel cells.” He scrambled and nar-
rowly averted the flying feet of the Captain
as they flailed about trying to connect with
his head.

Grimkilch abandoned his failed
attempts to decapitate Goiter via roundhouse
and began to think. “Options. We must have
options!”

Bottomlip resumed life and provided an
option. “Sir, if the Dorkopus cannot fly to
us, then we must fly to it. We can bring the
ship down and load the Dorkopus and its
plundered booty aboard. Then we can take
off towards home and reclaim your rightful
spot on the throne of Boke.” A smile crossed
Grimkilch’s face.

“There’s a problem with that.”

“Boke damn you Assjam!”

“I’m sorry, Sir, but that will not work.”

“And why not?”

“This ship doesn’t have the ability to
safely land on a planet so large as this one.
The thick atmosphere would burn us to ash
before we ever reached the surface.”

“I’m afraid Goiter is right.”

“Who asked for your opinion, Bottom-
lip? We can use the heat shield and our
defensive thrusters to control our decent,
no?”

“We don’t have any defensive
thrusters.” What the fuck are defensive
thrusters?

“And” Goiter dared to interject “our
heat shield has been defective ever since you
tried to land on that star in the Orion sector.”

Bottomlip took the brunt of Grimk-
ilch’s kick and fell back into silence as his
face connected with the floor. Goiter was
quicker and merely stumbled as Bottomlip
bumped against him enroute to the floor.

“Sir, listen to reason. It won’t work.
The ship’s logic circuits won’t even let us
attempt to land on such a large planet.”

“Override them!”

“Sir?”

“Override the circuits and land on the
planet! Now!”

“But what about the atmosphere?”

“Override that too!”

“Sir?”

“Override it I said!”

“Override physics, Sir?”

“You heard me, Assjam!” The sneer
convinced Goiter this would be his last day
alive. He decided to snatch one final, solitary
victory from this mean, ridiculous life.
Overriding the ship’s protective logic cir-
cuits, Goiter decided rather than arguing in
vain with his Captain he would simply com-
ply with the fool’s commands. He brought
the ship into the atmosphere of the huge
planet and accelerated towards the surface in
a dive calculated to maximize destruction.

††

“Wow, look at that!”

One by one, the members of our simple
family turned their empty heads towards the
fireworks in the sky.

“Wow, it’s so beautiful, isn’t it
Momma?”

“It sure is beautiful. It sure is.”

Mamma smiled and watched the fire-
works pop and boom and hugged her family
tight as they all exclaimed glory at the mon-
umental sight before them.

“What’s the celebration?” Poppa
mused.

“Who cares?” Momma answered and a
good time was had by all.

Make a screencast with ffmpeg

If I did NOT email you a linux cheatsheet you are not the intended recipient of this message. Go ahead and watch it anyway if you want to. The original video is crystal clear. However, it is an 84 MB file in MKV format. How to realistically get that off my computer and share it with others? None of the web hosts I use allow direct upload of MKV.

I haven’t mastered the conversion process as you’ll see in the video – the result after conversion to .mpg is not nearly as clear as the original, and the uploaded version is not even as clear as the converted .mpg file. Someday there will exist a thing called standards, and they will be open and free, NOT set by a cartel of corporate behemoths hell-bent on enslaving the world. But that’s a blog post of its own…

This is ridiculous

How come no one attempted to stop me from this madness?! I’m glad the video full-screen is a bit fuzzy on WordPress – no one should have to view this idiocy! Folks, your life has meaning! Don’t waste it on stuff like this!

Instant frustration

Noticing the large number of desirable titles available to stream Instantly from the big A (Amazon, not Apple – keep up!), I thought I would test the service by viewing a trailer at home on my desktop (Firefox on CentOS 7). Got the infamous Install Adobe Flash message. Went straight for the Feedback link and shared my feedback. Some emails back and forth followed, leading to more frustration (they lie!) and eventually to a chat session with the gracious help at Amazon.

Here’s the transcript:

transcript of the chat, highlighting conflicting information

Yes and no mean the same thing, right?

If, for some reason the image is not convenient for you, or you don’t want to zoom in that far, here’s the highlight (paraphrased):

Amazon: You can stream the videos without Silverlight or Adobe Flash.

Me: How?

Amazon: You need Silverlight and Adobe Flash.

Think I’ll stick with Netflix for now anyway. At least I know where I stand with them.

Happy New Year!

This is my typewriter. It serves me well. Every now and again I get an urge to try something a bit different, say a word processor or some such nonsense. But then I come to my senses and remember the axiom: never entrust to another that which is best kept to yourself.

That may not make much sense to you at the present time, but it will. Trust me on that. So here is my story:

Once upon a yabbady dabbity doo in a land far and few between in time and space there lived a jabber wocky whosamaflipitz. Okay that’s bullshit and we both know it. Now for the real deal. I steal lives. Kinda sorta. I don’t kill people. I don’t rob them of anything. I just kinda sorta borrow their minds and then do a quick copy and paste. Just like on a computer. You know, nothing lost when sharing betweenst folders or friends. I have it, I share it with you. Now you have it, and I have it too. Simple, right?

It is in this way I steal lives. I share them with others. Well, I share their lives with myself. But they don’t lose a thing. They don’t even notice when I make myself a copy of their life, nor when I paste said copy. I imagine you’re wondering to where I paste their life after I copy it, right? That part is harder to explain. But let me try.

You know how ice cream melts in the heat? Yet we eat ice cream in the hot weather days usually, right? (Except those crazy folks who eat ice cream in winter, but they’re crazy.) We do things in such a way as to create challenges for ourselves. Eat the ice cream before it melts. Get out of the burning building before we die. That sort of thing.

You think I’m beginning to explain the whys before the hows but bear with me. Now, the thing about challenges is they’re tough. They’re hard and difficult, and that’s what we crave. In order to achieve anything from life we have to have a frame of reference. Desires and goals and whatnot. Against our desires and goals we can achieve success or not. Now, each desire (or goal, goals are desires – more on this later) creates a directory in our souls. A directory is a box, more or less, in which we store our memories of experience. Our existence is usually concerned mainly with the processing of these memories. (The creation is our existence, but for some reason no one gets that.)

So we go about moving files around and copying files from directory to directory. We create files on the fly and process them continually. We figure our directories are ours alone but this is not so. I can read your files, and if you had any inclination that I existed and, simultaneously, wanted to read my files, you would have little difficulty doing so. Hell, we can even arrange write access to each other’s files if we wanted to. But I’m getting ahead of my story.

So the point is I find some files I like… Boom, presto. They now exist in parallel in my own little archive of non-original life directories. Your life is mine. And mine is yours. Sort of. The critical difference being I know you exist. Or you used to, anyway. Now we are sort of like a team, but only one of us has a clue.

You see, while you’ve been busily creating mental imagery in an attempt to consolidate these near non-sequiturs into some sort of coherent narrative, I’ve been busy copying some files you may be familiar with into my database. Howdy pardner 😉

See how goals achieved bring about satisfaction? Happy 2015!

Take that corporate bully!

I love this:

mock software requirements for keyboard

Take this and shove it up your proprietary behind!

Of course, I’m quite sure this keyboard will work with any modern computer. But, as we can see here, it’s about time someone said something about this.

[And, as an update to that old post – of course it is now widely acknowledged Best Buy is a Microsoft affiliated dumping grounds for unloved hardware.]

Gnome strikes back!

I recently wrote a post comparing and contrasting Gnome versus KDE in Fedora 20. I was a bit hard on Gnome, despite using it on my main computer – some of its defaults just don’t seem logical. But yesterday I installed CentOS 7 on my spare test computer and I need to post this update because this is new and exciting.

pic of CentOS 7 install options

Please excuse the fuzzy ad hoc snap from my phone

Gnome in CentOS 7 is like the holy grail of Gnome. Still features all the fluid flexibility of Workspaces and their keyboard shortcuts. Yet retains the useful bar at top with Applications and Places, so beloved from Gnome2.

gnome desktop screenshot

And no need for the Alt-Tab gnome-extention, as the sensible behavior of cycling through only those windows open on the active workspace is the default here. At last! Common sense has reigned somewhere!

I’m excited to give the KDE Plasma Workspaces option a try next time. The folks at CentOS (and, of course, RedHat) deserve much praise for this sensible addition to the world of Linux. Thank you!

An agnostic’s take on Gnome vs. KDE

I’m writing this because everyone gets it wrong, and it’s my moral obligation to set yous straight. (For those that don’t know me, this is sarcasm.) I do, however, in all sincerity, want to clear up a few things I keep reading about that kind of irk me. The situation is in the never ending battle for the desktop that is Gnome versus KDE (I won’t bother to acknowledge any of the other competing desktop environments out there since I want to keep this post simple).

To start, I am not going to advocate either over the other – I know, big spoiler/anticlimax. Get over it. Here’s what irks me: Most of the articles I’ve read online featuring the difference between Gnome and KDE are not only heavily biased, but they are often written by persons who admit within the article they aren’t overly familiar with [insert whichever desktop environment is not their preferred one]. What the hell is wrong with these people?

I’m going to compare two of the newest cars on the road today, (but I don’t have a license and I’ve only ever ridden in one of these…). Here goes… [pppppfffffffrrrrrrrrrrrtttttttttttttt]

I’m over joyed to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t know shit, but really? Why are you writing about something you admit you don’t know about? So, I’m going to now write about something I know only marginally about, because why not? It’s the age of the idiot blogger.

Now there are two camps when it comes to users. One prefers using the keyboard, while the other prefers to point and click with a mouse. No one really likes or finds it particularly conducive to their productivity to have to switch constantly back and forth between the two.

(We can safely ignore touch devices for now as neither Gnome or KDE is up and running full steam on touch devices yet, although from what I hear it won’t be long before us regular, non-developer types will be able to have these options supported for our lazy, ignorant asses.)

And herein lies the great divide, and the great difference as I see it between Gnome and KDE. Gnome is really and truly best utilized with a keyboard securely under hand, with the mouse nearby for the occasional necessary click. KDE, conversely, is much friendlier to the mouse and click crowd, although many of the features in that environment can be accessed via the keyboard as well.

I’ll now break each environment down a little bit and include some Pros and Cons. I should mention at this point I am basing these descriptions on the Gnome and KDE versions of the Fedora Linux distribution. There are some minor differences here and there on other distributions, but the core info presented here remains applicable.

I’ll start with KDE

a screengrab from KDE

Please pardon the redactions – state security.

Widgets!

Widgets tell me what time it is.

Notice in the above screenshots the color of the theme has changed. It does that. On its own. Continuously. Forever. This (admittedly somewhat resource intensive) effect is just one of the many bits of eye candy that bedazzle the KDE user. Also note the über useful widgets so that I can have the time, date, weather etc right there on the desktop. Fascinating, no? At the upper left is the folder widget, which presents my home directory folders at a click. All of this is by choice, as the KDE environment is customizable to a degree that would require a degree to learn all the different options. But at its core, it provides an experience not so far removed from your vanilla XP working environment of old. There are tabs on a task bar (I left it at bottom – it can be moved, duplicated or removed at will) for open applications. There is a “start button” like button at lower left (although this too can be customized or outright removed if desired). At lower right are familiar icons for time, battery life (if applicable), wifi (again, if applicable), sound controls, etc etc. Notifications also default to this lower right area. All in all, a setting more or less familiar to a majority of computer users everywhere.

In Gnome we have a bit of a different experience

Gnome with dark theme enabled and Oxygen Theme Icons

Gnome with dark theme enabled and Oxygen Theme Icons

I’ll admit I am not a fan of the default appearance of Gnome. The first thing I like to do regarding the appearance is enable the dark theme and (install and) switch to Oxygen Theme icons. It’s a subjective thing, but to me this dark theme with the blue Oxygen Icons is a bit more elegant than the Gnome defaults (whatever they’re called…).  Notice in Gnome we have no task bar or icons on the desktop. Accept for the three windows I have open in the above screenshot, there is nothing (the absence of anything) on the desktop save for a bar across the top which has the date and time at center, some tools like sound and power off options at right, and the Activities hot corner at left (and a menu next to the Activities for the current active application). This situation causes the utmost confusion in users new to Gnome (my highly scientific research has been destroyed in a curious canine incident, but just trust me). Moving the mouse cursor to the upper left brings up the Activities screen.

The GUI hell of the Activities Screen

The GUI hell of the Activities Screen

From here one can click on Application Icons to launch them, as well as select a window to switch to it, close a window, or drag it to another workspace. I have yet to meet anyone who likes this or feels this is a satisfactory way of getting anything done on a computer. One can also type in the search box to search for Applications, etc. Whatever.

It may seem like I’m showing a strong bias against Gnome at this point, and if this was all there was to Gnome, I would bash its ugly head into the ground. But read on, discerning reader, for the best is yet to come.

After working with Gnome for some time, I have amassed a wealth of useful working strategies that make Gnome the more productive of the two desktops for the power user. [Not necessarily true, but it could be. It’s subjective.] First off, leave the mouse over there by the coffee mug or soda can. You won’t be needing it much from here on out. Standard keyboard shortcuts that work in a variety of operating systems and with a variety of desktop environments work in Gnome as well. [IMPORTANT: extensions.gnome.org and install/enable Alt-Tab!] The default alt-tab behavior in Gnome is annoying and defeats the purpose of workspaces. Ignore it. After enabling Alt-Tab, pressing alt-tab will shuffle through windows open in the current workspace. Use Super key (Windows key) + page up/down to navigate between workspaces. Use Alt+F2 to bring up the little window which allows you to run commands in it (most handy to launch applications without having to deal with the awkward Activities area – although having to launch an application whose name you’re not sure of can require a trip to Activities – learn the names of applications you use frequently!). I’ve even set keyboard shortcuts for raising and lowering the volume (I use alt+up/down).

I have set Gnome-Terminal to start at login, and I leave it around throughout the session which enables me to navigate to and open files without ever having to deal with a file manager. It is not a standard way of working for many people used to the “XP way of working”, but once you get used to it, it’s like second nature. My poor mouse begs me for attention.

I use the mouse within the web browser since some pages can be quite a pain to navigate via keyboard. Otherwise, for the most part, almost everything you need to accomplish can be done without having to reach for the mouse. This enables extremely fast navigation and launching. The OS/desktop environment nearly vanish and you’re free to get your work done. This is why I use Gnome when I have serious work to do despite appreciating the beauty and plain old fun of KDE’s dazzling eye candy (which is distraction central when you’re serious about work).

I would like to mention before leaving the wonderful application called Amarok.

Amarok

Amarok rocks!

Now, Amarok can be installed on Gnome (with a ton of dependencies) or even on Windows (so they say…), but its home is in KDE, and if the Fedora KDE spin didn’t include Amarok I might never have heard about it. It’s great – I love it. Nuff said.

One thing I don’t like about KDE (and maybe there’s a setting I can change somewhere to fix this) is that when I hook up my external hard drive in Gnome, I can immediately cd to the location in the terminal and copy files to and from the external hard drive from the command line. In KDE, if I try this, it fails to recognize the device until I mount it (usually by clicking on it’s icon in Dolphin – the world’s most elegant file manager).  I could probably use the command to mount it, but either way, it’s an extra step. Not a major problem, but something that annoys me.

So, to sum up: KDE is flashy eye candy with a familiar mouse and click feel to it. Very customizable and full of functionality, if you can find it all! Can be overwhelming at first. Gnome is strangely cool and distant at first, but once you warm up to it, it’s a streamlined interface that will mostly stay out of your way while you work.  There’s obviously a lot more to each of these, but enough is enough. Go do your own experiments and get back to me.

 

Reason #66 why this iPhone will be my last, or how I learned to stop worrying and play my .ogg files

cannot play file

Really sick of this.

Tired of seeing this “Cannot play audio file” message in iOS? I know I am. Some folks have taken to blaming Wikipedia for this. Others blame the .ogg file itself while others blame the entire open source philosophy for this conundrum. I lay the blame squarely where it belongs – at Apple’s feet (Microsoft doesn’t get a pass here, it’s just that I don’t use the Windows operating system, Microsoft Office, or Internet Explorer at all anymore so I rarely have to be directly burdened by their practices).

Soon I will also be saying goodbye to Apple’s iOS for good. This lack of compatibility with common file types is rapidly showing itself to be a lack of common sense. No Flash? No problem for me really. I never miss it on my iPhone and eagerly await the day HTML5 obliterates any and all need for Flash in websites. But .ogg files, in addition to being more prevalent today than ever, are of superior audio quality when compared with their ubiquitous cousin, the mp3. Being someone who creates music as well as consumes it, I appreciate the combination of good quality sound and small compact file size, and have been using the .ogg file format to share my music for some years now. Of course, on the desktop this presents little to no difficulty for those with whom I share music to play the files, but playing these .ogg files on an iPhone or iPad is not possible “out of the box”. To me this makes no sense whatsoever. For devices which exist almost exclusively as content consumption devices to be so restrictive in what types of content can be consumed reeks – the stench of decomposition surely the result of the rotting vegetal matter in a certain garden cut off from the outside world by strangling walls…

Anywho, onward and forward.

VLC icon

God bless the VLC

The VLC player is available in the App Store, and it will play .ogg files received via email. Now, for those inaccessible Wikipedia sounds:

Puffin icon

The Puffin to the rescue.

The first step in accessing these sounds (N.B. at this point I should mention there may very well be easier ways to do this, I just haven’t come across them yet) is to download Puffin web browser from the App Store. (This method of accessing the Wikipedia .ogg files may work in other [NON-Safari] browsers as well, but this is not a scientific experiment – if you’re interested enough to check them all go right ahead.) There is a free trial version of Puffin, but I’ve found that I use it enough to justify its (at the time I bought it – things change and I’m not going to even bother looking up the price now because it might change again between me writing this and you reading it) relatively low price (I paid about $3.00 or so). For the record this is not a sponsored post – I do not receive any benefit from promoting any product or service and this information is for educational purposes only.

Wikipedia in Puffin

Lo and behold the file is now accessible.

We’re almost there. It would be great if we could just play the sound file in the Puffin web browser, but, alas, this is not possible. So we click (press) on the sound file icon and are presented with this dialog:

Puffin download dialog

Decisions, decisions

From here my limited exploration seems to have found the best thing to do is press “Cancel”. That brings us here:

The URL for the .ogg file

The URL for the .ogg file

Press and hold in the URL area and choose “Select All” followed by “Copy”.

Copy the URL

Copy the URL

Now open the VLC app and select Downloads. (You can see below I had already gone through this process when I took the screenshot, hence the file “White noise…” being present at right already.)

Select Downloads in the VLC menu

Select Downloads in the VLC menu

Paste the URL in VLC Downloads

Paste the URL in VLC Downloads

Paste the URL and press Download.

The file is now available for play in VLC.

The file is now available for play in VLC.

The file is now available. Select it and enjoy!

The Glory of playing .ogg files in iOS

The Glory of playing .ogg files in iOS

This is an awful lot of work to hear an audio sample on Wikipedia. So much for Apple being the purveyor of simplistic devices. My next phone will play .ogg files with the press of a finger – I guarantee that!

Customer Writes Negative Review After Never Receiving Order, Site Fines Her $3.5K

This is insanity.