jc blog - tales of a modern-day nomadic hunter-gatherer

Follow jcomeau_ictx on Twitter This is the weblog of Intrepid Wanderer. You never know what you might find here; graphic descriptions of bodily functions, computer programming secrets, proselytizing for the antichrist, miscellaneous ranting and kvetching, valuable information on living off the land... if you don't share my rather weird interests you may want to try slashdot instead.

You can consider my Del.icio.us links an extension to my blog, as are my LifeTango goals and my other to-do items. My to-buy list is also public, but only for sharing any useful ideas that might be there; I'm not requesting charity, neither do I offer it.

You can find me easily in google searches, as jcomeau, jcomeau_ictx, or jcomeauictx. There are lots of other jcomeaus, but AFAIK I'm the only jcomeau_ictx out there so far.

If you want to comment on anything you see here, try the new Facebook comments, reachable by clicking the "[comment]" link at the end of each post. If for some reason that isn't working, go ahead and email me, jc.unternet.net. You know what to do with the first dot. Make the 'subject' line something reasonably intelligent-looking or it goes plunk! into the spambasket unread.

This RSS feed may or may not work. Haven't fiddled with it in forever. RSS Feed


I recently read Thomas Greco's The End of Money and the Future of Civilization. Totally fuckin' awesome. I can't say I understand all of it, but the guy knows his shit, doesn't pull any punches, and states the problems clearly and details a better way to approach things. I still want to design a ROCS, if only because apparently nobody else has, but Greco's "credit clearing" idea seems to be a strong contender.

His mention of Ralph Borsodi's Constant currency, with which I became familiar back in High School, made a favorable impression on me, in addition to the other subject matter. And he answers his email, too. The same day.

Jobs coming in fast and furious lately. Good, because there are some things I want and need, and cash is still king. [comment]


Don't know if I mentioned it, but I found out the Tea Room Cafe in Petaluma only charges $1 for coffee if you bring your own cup. And most of the day-old pastries are $1 as well, and better than Starbucks's any day. Drawback: no wifi. But sometimes one can pick up Jack and Jill's across the street. [comment]


Nanofabrics intrigue me with their waterproof and dirtproof qualities, but I'm having a helluva time trying to find a source for some experiments.

Went with the Petaluma Paddlers to Drake's Estero today. Buffleheads were there, a sure sign that winter is here. A seal watched us go by also, but overall the wildlife was laying relatively low. [comment]


Jogged about 5 miles of the Petaluma Turkey Trot yesterday morning. Meant to do the whole 6 miles this time, but got lost towards the end and inadvertently cut off one of the switchbacks. I'm calling that my 5K for the year.

There's another Petaluma Turkey Trot that really is a 5K, but I missed it. It was last Saturday. Maybe this blog post will help me remember it next year. [comment]


Drinking the peach wine I started a few weeks ago with a bag of frozen peach slices from Grocery Outlet. It came out good, but not as good as I remember that bottle I drank at Virginia Beach back in 1976 after bicycling down the coast. And this was $1.50 for about 6 ounces, not a very good deal.

Petaluma Turkey Trot tomorrow at 0800. Probably starts in McNear Park like last year, but I haven't seen this year's map. Gonna try to go the whole 6 miles this year. [comment]


When I did my 2-mile+ jog this morning I wore a pair of wool socks over my hands as mittens. They worked really well, and for once I didn't freeze my hands on a cold November morning.

I keep forgetting to pack some small but strong synthetic rope with me for use in tying things down and for possible emergency rappelling for short distances. Finally found some good quality small carabiners, the 'S-biner' by NiteIze. Not the plastic ones, but the metal. Thinking of making several loops of poly cord and clipping them into a necklace with one of the biners. Yes, I know about the survival bracelets, but who the hell wants to use one short of a life-and-death situation when you have to braid it all back together afterwards?

Had a dream this morning watching a stream of characters zoom past me in an infinite train. At least some of them were Chinese ideograms, maybe all of them. I woke up remembering that, but not what I was doing to them; I was stopping the stream, analyzing bits of it, and letting it go again, but can't remember for what purpose. It may have had something to do with the new bioinformatics project I'm working on. [comment]


Finally got both my servers and my laptop upgraded. It took a little back-and-forth with Tektonic before they agreed to provide a kernel new enough to run the latest libc6, but I got it this morning and just completed the upgrade a few minutes ago. Note: make_chroot_jail.sh requires bash: dash doesn't interpret variable names in curly braces.

Things seem to be working all right, but I haven't tested very well. If your website is on my servers and it's not working correctly, let me know. [comment]


Every now and then lately I've been nmapping my servers and finding ports 513 and 514 open, but when I login and lsof, nothing is there. It finally spooked me enough the other night that I used Tektonic's live chat, and a guy named Jason assured me he couldn't see it from where he was, outside the data center. So then I suspected Comcast. But it turns out it was only happening while in coLinux, not when booted directly into Linux. Something to do with Slirp, I guess.

Doesn't mean my servers haven't been rooted, but at least they weren't cracked by some careless fool who leaves ports open. [comment]


I'd never really taken the time before to learn how to scale an image in Java. In fact, I didn't know what to put for the ImageObserver argument and always used this. But my scaled images would flicker.

So, since my customer wanted it done, I looked some things up, and found that you can pass null for the ImageObserver. And you can use an extended form of graphics.drawImage() and avoid having to specify a filter. In fact, to draw an image that fits the size you allocated to an applet, all you really need to do is to replace

 public void paint(Graphics graphics) {
  if (fingerprint != null) {
   graphics.drawImage(fingerprint, 0, 0, null);


 public void paint(Graphics graphics) {
  if (fingerprint != null) {
   double ratio = (double)this.getWidth() / fingerprint.getWidth(null);
   int targetHeight = (int)(ratio * fingerprint.getHeight(null));
   graphics.drawImage(fingerprint, 0, 0, this.getWidth(), targetHeight, null);

This particular example might truncate the height, which doesn't matter to me. If you want to make sure you get the whole thing, you'll have to determine which applet dimension is smaller, use that as the basis for the ratio, and then center the image accordingly. [comment]


At Payne's Creek Sportsmen's Club, hiked all day, took a wrong turn, but got back before dark. Had a 28 ounce bottle of Alaskan Amber to celebrate. Doesn't take much for me to want to celebrate when I've got good beer around.

DigitalPersona's OneTouch SDK for Windows has at least one glaring bug, in which DPFPEnrollment.addFeatures() both throws a DPFPImageQualityException and corrupts the growing template, making it worthless. Found a workaround by storing each DPFPFeatureSet from the fingerprint scans and building a throwaway DPFPEnrollment on which to add the next scan. If it fails, it doesn't corrupt the "real" one needed for the template. I looked at the code for their java Console sample; they check for the image quality exception during feature extraction: lose.

Poison oak itch just about gone, unless I picked up some new urushiol today. [comment]


How about requiring the county in which you reside to buy your house on demand for the amount they appraised it for tax purposes? That ought to put a damper on overly high appraisals. [comment]


It crossed my mind the other day that using names of gods and emperors for our days and weeks must have some insidious effect, no matter how small, on our thought patterns. How about agreeing to change the names to commemorate people and things of a more positive nature? Say, for the weekdays: Martin, Teresa, Wonder, Thrive, Freedom, Sadat, Sunshine. OK, some of those are pretty lame... I'm open to suggestions. [comment]


Forget Django, my vhost doesn't have the resources for that bloated behemoth. Back to rolling my own (sigh)...

My last two kraut experiments, 2 tsp and 3 tsp salt per quart respectively, seem to be working. Trying to salt-brine whole Brussels sprouts, on the other hand, was a dismal stinking failure.

Looks like I'm going to spend all day tomorrow eating, drinking wine, and watching a bunch of kayakers practice rolls in 50-degree water. [comment]


Did a server upgrade today, and got an error that had me googling for an answer, and didn't like what I found: "you shouldn't do that, it's not supported", meaning skipping a release. In my case, I was probably going from etch to squeeze. Shoot, I may still have had sarge packages on there. Anyway all it took was: apt-get install util-linux, and then I was able to complete the upgrade.

Then my DKIM was broken. So I had to install the unstable version of exim4, add some lines to my /etc/exim4/conf.d/main/000_localmacros, and that was fixed. On to the next adventure: Django. Yep, I'm finally going to try someone else's framework instead of always attempting to roll my own. Maybe I can get the unternet off the ground. Or under the ground. Something. [comment]


A guy who ran across my blog after getting a tract mailed to him by Peter Koska did some calling around, and gave me permission to share this:

I just had a conversation with the county Sheriff where Koska resides. Evidently he's a nut case born of a nut case... a perfect example of the abused becoming an abuser. His father is a wicked man who is currently in a facility for the insane.

The secret service has investigated him for threatening the president. So there's a pretty extensive dossier on the guy.

The local authority is keeping an on-going eye on him... evidently he does this sort of thing every so often and scattershots letters with his particular brand of religious zealotry across the country.

Anyway, the Sheriff tells me that the guy hardly ever leaves his property in Wisconsin (though your mention of his hitchhiking in California seems to indicate differently) and he has several arrests on his record for assaulting women (probably upstart women who think they should wear pants and drive cars).

I'm giving a talk at Ignite Petaluma this evening. And one of my articles will soon be featured at WikiHow. [comment]


My latest batch of sprouts has mustard seeds in it, and has a rotten-egg smell as it grows. My farts have a strong sulfur component tonight, too. Made two one-quart batches of kraut tonight, one with 2 tsp of salt and another with 3. We'll see how much salt is necessary to get the wanted acidophilus bacteria to thrive in this climate.

Jonathon Stalls came through Petaluma tonight on his Kiva walk. I plan to accompany him on his way to Novato tomorrow. He's had an amazing experience with people similar to my own. [comment]


In one of my dream worlds, I have a consolidation loan that I keep forgetting to make payments on. It's at a little bank in downtown Skowhegan. I don't know why this keeps popping up in my dreams. [comment]


One of the real pissers of having to use Windows was, for me, loss of the ability to cut-and-paste between windows. I just couldn't get Xming to let me paste into an urxvt xterm. Finally RTFMd and found Xming's -emulate3buttons switch. It fucking worked. [comment]


Poison oak itch only needed one shower yesterday; no longer necessary at night, since scratching no longer makes it worse.

Caught a wild yeast about two weeks ago, leaving uncovered thawed concentrate outside for about a week. Didn't have any indication that I'd caught anything, but brought it inside, skimmed off the mold that had started forming, and poured the two cans into a Carlo Rossi jug I'd saved. Added water to fill, capped with a #6.5 bung and airlock, and left it alone. It started bubbling within two or 3 days, and has been going strong for about a week now. It's slowing down, though. I'll probably siphon some off for a taste in another few days.

Since some seeds are mucilaginous, and a single type of sprout can be pretty boring, I'm going to try mixing it up. Bought some lentils, mung beans, wild rice, and forbidden rice at Andy's and put a little of each into a glass. We'll see what sprouts and what doesn't.

Sprouting seeds is like a 72-hour garden, requiring only about 15 minutes of actual care over that period. Truly a lazy man's way of gardening. If I could find some combination of sprouts that don't make me gag, and provides most of my nutritional needs, it could be the end of my bad eating habits; and it's eminently affordable. Then to complete the cycle, I could maybe grow some things to seed in a floating garden in the Petaluma marsh. [comment]

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