December 2005 Archives

time X place

The past is a comforting place. It is your old room; a box stuffed with boxes stuffed with memories. It is warm and cozy, everything in it's place; predictable, known. It is stuffy, the window hazed with condensation and outside, the sun has set long ago. The past is all memories, bound in and limited to them.

The future is an anxious place. It is a field stretching out; as far as the imagination that makes it. It is windy and agitated, in a constant flux of boundless possibilities and desires; unpredictable, unknowable. The future is all imagination, bound to and only limited to it.

If the present where a place, it would be the door between the Past and the Future. But there is no such place, just as there are no lines between colors on a canvas. The present is an infinitely small, non-existant point between memory and imagination. And on that point is where you are. The present is a transition.

Just as non-existant as the present, just as much an illusion as memory and imagination: I just am / not.

Couldn't resist the clever little punctuation trick there and the pedantic explanation for it. The slash between am / not is meant to signify this same concept of being / non-being, as expressed in the description of the present. The slash is also known as a "separatrix", which also has a meaning in mathematics. I had also heard the term applied in a presentation given by Greg Lynn in reference to a line created by the meeting of two bodies. There is also a term in art theory for this but I cannot recall it at the present. hah! Totally unintentional pun. Anyways, this is all intellectual diarrhea of course...


Remember I asked about "when was the last time you wrote out an entire webpage" a few weeks back?

Good lord that was still in this same month! So much has happened since then... I remember discussing this at Laika with Karl even! A lifetime ago...

Anyways, sort of lost in that entry was the point that I haven't built a whole website by hand in ages. For the last few years it's due to all these fancy CMS we now have, but even before that I had my own little PHP-based package which allowed me to build entire websites, navigation and infrastructure and plumbing and everything, in minutes. Set it up, put all the content in, move stuff around until "the client" is happy with the architecture.. then skin it. (Its predecessor was hacked together with xSSI variables!)

I have to put up a whole site pronto for something very important. I just tried setting up my little wonder on two different servers (one being "the client's") and it unceremoniously failed. These high-falutin' fancy hosting packages break when you ask for $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'], which means I seem to be shit outta luck.

I am faced with the prospect of a ... gulp... static website! Argh!! Over my dead body.

Adriaan, we gotta fix yer goddamn server. ;p

Just quickly, here are four totally different paths on the same system all supposedly poitning to the same "place". The first three are available to PHP and th efourth is what I see in my SFTP client:

  DOCUMENT_ROOT = /home/www/htdocs
SCRIPT_FILENAME = /home/www/vhosts/
       __FILE__ = /home/www/vhosts/
           SFTP = /home/name/web/www/
Obviously the next step is to actually try each one, but eh, I'm going to bed now. ;)

I have no mouse, and I must scream

(with apologies to Harlan Ellison)
My mouse died this week and it is causing me no end of distress. I am back to using the Apple "Pro" mouse, that pretty but useless transparent single-button-no-scroll-wheel piece of garbage.

I tried using my old Kensington TurboBall trackball thingy but that just made my nerves twitch. I need a simple 2 button and scroll wheel. Anyone have favorites?

If it looks like a basketball shoe, I'm not interested. ;)

There's nothing that is in between?

      Just on the border of your waking mind
      There lies... another time
      Where darkness & light are one
      And as you tread the halls of sanity
      You feel so glad to be
      Unable to go beyond
      I have a message
      From another time...

The visions dancing in my mind,
The early dawn the shades of time.
Twilight crawling through my window pane.
Am I awake or do I dream,
The strangest pictures I have seen,
Night is day and twilight's gone away.
With your head held high and your scarlet lies,
You came down to me from the open skies,
It's either real or it's a dream
There's nothing that is in between

      Twilight, I only meant to stay a while
      Twilight, I gave you time to steal my mind
      Away from me.

Across the night I saw your face
You disappeared without a trace
You brought me here but can you take me back.
Inside the image of your light
That now is day and once was night

You leave me here and then you go away.


You brought me here but can you take me back again.
With your head held high and your scarlet lies,
You came down to me from the open skies,
It's either real or it's a dream
There's nothing that is in between


- Electric Light Orchestra - Twilight Lyrics

This has been an entry about reality, screenology, cyberspace, immersion, externalization, cyborg tendencies, dreams... and the disjunction their intersection produces.

(Please do not flog me for also stating that my first exposure to this brilliant brilliant piece of prescient pseudo-romantic post-post-modernism came from it's use as the theme song for Densha Otoko.)

This sounds promising

From BBC News Health: "Dementia cases 'are set to soar'"

By 2040 there will be as many people with dementia in China alone as in the whole of the developed world put together.

But hey if we're all batshit-insane, and talk to our toasters, then that will be the new norm, won't it? ;)
and who's to say that isn't the case already... HEY! you're not my toaster! what did you do with my toaster!

sounds like a drug company's wet dream

No luck

Temperature Monitor

Yup. Again. The above is a graph of the temperature monitors (thermometers) in my new PowerBook. Obviously, something is totally out of whack. My Graphics Processor is no where near 100°C, and it's hardly possible for its, nor the Power Supply's temperature to shift so dramatically so quickly. I imagine the machine would have imploded by now if it were.

The upshot from this is not only are there faulty sensors inside this machine, but also the misreadings are causing the fans to go on and off erratically every couple of seconds when the (erroneous) temperature limits trigger them, thus causing more power usage/drain, thus upping the real temperature as well.

It's going to be fun explaining this one to Apple Support. :p

The irony here is that one of the reasons I got this new one was because the videocard on the old one, having not quite enough RAM to run the external monitor at full rez, actually was overheating. :p

At least there's a chance I can kill two birds with one stone here and get rid of the "whitelines issue" the screen is experiencing as well...

Oh wow. I just noticed that the upper edge of the display on the external monitor is jittering. The video card is definitely malfunctioning. Wun.Der.Bar.

Addendum 2
Just noticed something else. Check this out:
temperature monitor 2
That first drop and stabilization occured while I watched a video file. On a hunch--hunch being that any kind of onscreen movement affects the temperature reading-- I grabbed a window and dragged it around the screen for a bit. Sure enough. The second drop and stabilization occurred then, albeit briefly. The third is another video file (me going "this can't possibly be") and the fourth is from while a screen saver ("Flurry") is running. Sure enough, movement on-screen affects the Graphics Processor temperature sensor. ALSO, dragging a window around, scrolling and basically moving anything produces an audible electronic whine. Stunning!

While I'm at it I'll mention that I have already swapped out the 7200rpm 100Gig HD on this thing. It came with the Hitachi drive which sounded like a bowl of Rice Crispies with milk (snap crackle pop!) and now it has the Seagate which seems to howl like a wind-tunnel constantly.

And I am not alone it seems. Yay! A whole batch of lemons!

It slices, it dices...

This is getting kinda absurd...

Quitomzilla helps you quit smoking while you surf the web or wait for new emails, showing the cigarettes, money and time you have saved since you quitted.

Yes, a webbrowser extension, which aids you in quitting smoking... somehow... not sure how... oh right by constantly reminding you about cigarettes. I see. Brilliant.
(It also works out your subconscious greed muscle: "I saved sooo much money!")

Tim Berners-Lee's weblog

TBL created the web. Now Tim Berners-Lee has a weblog. Good first post too!

(I'd quote here but you really need to read the whole thing... to give you a little history lesson. ;)

What was I thinking?

Rough day. Long before the time I usually wake up at, I had taken my best friend to the airport as he moved to Tokyo, I dropped off some stuff at my mother's house, I drove by my old high school, got stuck in morning rush-hour traffic, had an allongé and a chocolate croissant (with no chocolate in it... a defect!), visited an office for rent on St-Laurent...

... fielded way too many work related issues, got one "so when are YOU coming?" message ...

... and decided to back out of the whole "new apartment on Esplanade" thing.

I may be sick of living in my current flat, but seriously... what the hell was I thinking? It's as if I had a short circuit and totally forgot a whole bunch of things; things that point me in the exact opposite direction of renting a pricey nice new apartment.

Sigh. Rough day. I haven't even had lunch yet and in one hour I am back in the dentist's chair to boot!

(Sorry Michael. I'm really, really sorry. I'll make it up to you.)

Not my father's encyclopaedia

What should I do with my complete edition Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1961, white leather bound, gold leaf trim, which I inherited?

Perhaps ship it off and donate it to Jimmy Wales... or Tim Berners-Lee... or Google... ;)

A funny thing happened on my way to...

I did a lot of walking yesterday.

At 1:15 I visited the apartment I mentioned here previously. Arriving at the address, one of my suspicions was confirmed: it was indeed the same building that an english professor of mine from over 10 years ago lives in. Matthew von Baeyer taught a course on essay writing at John Abbott College; I was not actually enrolled in the course but I became friends with him and sat in a few times. When I visited his apartment all those years ago, he showed me his grandfather's Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1905), which he had been awarded for synthesizing the color indigo for use in commercial dyes. He also showed me the small book of poetry he had self-published, all about indigo.

So I visit the place; classic Montreal apartment layout: off from the entrance are two large rooms with no wall between them (making it one big room but still considered separate), a central living room area (which is not much more than a widening or an outgrowth of the hallway, much the same way Lake St-Louis is just a widening of the St-Lawrence River), a tight washroom, a small kitchen (the stove was in a closet...) and a back room. It was... "ok". I went through the motions, filled out the application form, buying time to think about it.

This is where I spare you details about going back home and then returning to bring the landlord some contact info.

After dropping off the envelope with said details, I turn around, snap this pic, and head back home. Crossing Marie-Anne Street, I see a "À LOUER" ("FOR RENT") sign. I get closer to see the details. In shakey hand, a name (George), phone number and "4 1/2") are written lightly.

"What the heck", I think as I key in the number.

A cheerful, elderly woman's voice, heavy with foreign accent answers.
- "Oh you want to see? Come, come see!"
- "Yes, thank you. I am outside! Which apartment is it?"
- "Oh you are outside?! I come out. It is upstairs!"

Upstairs, I meet George. Mid to late 60's greek man. If it weren't so close to Christmas, I wouldn't hesitate to say he was jolly (I find out later what makes him so jolly and his nose so red... deadly homemade greek wine! hah!)

I am showed into the apartent, I remove my shoes and... I look down the hallway... and it seems to stretch from here to Papineau! "Jeebus, how big is this place?" I think to myself.

The first room, off to the left (they are all on the left), is e-nor-mous. Thanks to a large window (sadly all the windows face Marie-Anne and not the Mountain... small price), it is very bright. The following room is a bit smaller but also larger than I oculd hope for and bright. "Bedroom!" I immediately think. ;)

The third room is a tad smaller again, and it connects to a perfectly respectable kitchen, which opens out to the balcony, which runs the length of the apartment. Oh and the ceilings are all about 14". Oh and the floors have just finished drying after being sanded and re-finished. Oh and the previous tenant stripped and sanded all the moldings down to bare wood, including the antique cupboards in the kitchen which have glass doors and little latches. What a treat.

I could live without the stucco in the hallway but eh. C'est la vie.

"Dammit, let's do this." I say to myself.
"What do you need from me to make this mine?" I ask George.
"Ohhh, a small deposit, maybe $100, just to say, and come back tomorrow to meet my son who will take care of the paper stuff."
I had shown up at the first apartment with $400 cash in my pocket in case I needed to grease a palm. But I had since gone back home and left the money on my shelf. Drat I hafta go back!

So back I go, and back I drive (getting tired here...). I ring the doorbell, George greets me, I quickly try to spit out the "thank you very much" in greek my mother had just taught me over the phone from Florida. (something something para poly... :p ) Come in! Have a glass of wine with me! Let's talk a bit!


Plate of smoked pork, some bread, olives... and a glass of 1 year old home made greek red turpentine, I mean wine!

This all goes very well. Everyone is jovial everyone is happy, I am just the kind of guy they are lookign for as a tenant; I know it and they know it. The question of money and where and how I get it barely comes up.
- "Where do you work? What do you do?"
- "I work for myself, at home mostly. Iiiiiii... um... computars!"
- "Ah! Ok! ... I come here in 1954 with five dollars and not speak english!"

(Forgive me if that sounded bad. I in no way intend to portray George in any kind of joking or deprecating or disrespectful way. It was really that kind of heartwarming conversation.)

- "Ah! My father too! He came from germany. He told me that for the first month he ate apple pie everyday at the same diner because he couldn't read the menu and would just point at the pie in the glass dome on the counter..."

After having brunch (our last Sunday brunch together for probably a long time), I returned to see George and meet his son, Spiro; a hip and with it and super nice guy. They had me fill out an application form quickly, a formality.

- "Great, just come back on Tuesday, is Tuesday ok?, I'll give you the keys!"
- "And I guess I'll sign the lease then and give you first month's rent..."
- "Yeah, heh, that too."

Here I am. :D


For some, if not many of you reading this, the answer to the following question is "never." But I pose it anyways, really addressing the rest of you.

When was the last time you wrote out an entire webpage, in HTML, by hand, to be displayed as is, no scripting or templating involved?

I've been doing this for 10 years, and I can honestly not remember the last time I did.

This is very, very telling. (And I use a text editor to do my work, without any "macros" of any kind.)


Now Thats What I Call Blogging

terrible.... terribly funny... ;)

via Stevey

Getting my hopes up

On saturday early afternoon I have an appointment to visit what could very well be my dream apartment.

I was not actively searching for a new place, but I came across its listing online and though "this I cannot not pursue!" I hesitate to give to much details here now, lest somehow someone beats me to it because my mentioning it here, but yeah... 5 1/2 (Montreal real-estate-speak for 4 rooms, kitchen and washroom), balconies front and back, second floor, on my dream street facing a huge park and The Mountain.

I'm worried about getting my hopes up for a number of reasons: at the price they are asking, it may possibly be a dump, which would really be a shame because it is where I want to be, but no way am I living in a dump. Then again, the price may be low because who the hell wants to move in the winter. Also, I am "scheduled" to visit. This means there's a queue of people before me and after me. It is entirely possible that anyone of the people scheduled before me hands the landlord a roll of bills (as I plan to do if the place is choice) and then I am shit out of luck (as will be the people after me if the place is choice... ;)

In any event, it is entirely possible that Saturday afternoon I have the keys to the ultimate dream Montreal apartment, further reinforcing what seems to be the fact that I am one of the luckiest bastards alive.

That or I will be inconsolably pissed.