Shack update

The new “shack” setup is in progress.  The main radios are up in the office/shack room, and I’ve got a new PC built for ham use.  I used mostly leftover parts from either older computers or projects that just didn’t work out, like the media center PC.  In the progress I’ve gotten much further with MythTV and some other stuff than ever before, but that’s a different story.

I have the wire cut for the Loop Skywire antenna, but it’s not up yet.  I may need to beg or borrow a HyperHanger from a buddy to get the thing up in the trees.  Right now I have a random length of wire out the window, which hears a little and causes massive RFI in the house when I try to transmit even with low power, so I haven’t made any contacts yet.  I really need to get that loop up before winter!

I’ve been playing with some ham radio apps for Linux.  The biggest problem so far has been the plethora of sound card mixers and management apps on the PC.  OSS, ALSA, and half a dozen others sometimes appear to compete for control.  I am going to try to remove some, but I suspect that dependencies will keep me from doing so.  I think one of the biggest challenges Linux faces is a complete lack of agreement, discipline or even half-hearted effort by app developers to standardize on ANYTHING.  If you want to run six different apps, chances are you’re going to have six completely different sets of dependencies that will cause problems with everything you try to do.

But that’s a rant.  The station is coming along, slowly but surely.  I figure by Thanksgiving I should be back on the air.

Going forward

I think one of my least favorite little bits of corporate doublespeak is “going forward“.  We no longer plan for the future, do things from now on, or talk about beginning now or starting tomorrow.  “Go-forward” seems to have also replaced most adjectives.  Nothing is new, it’s “go-forward” – likewise, nothing is old, it’s “legacy”.

I’m in a meeting this morning.  12 minutes in I had already lost count of the number of times the speaker mentioned the “go-forward solution“, the “go-forward organization“, “go-forward method“, or the apparent favorite du jour -  “from a go-forward perspective” and “on a go-forward basis“.

I can only hope this particularly insipid bit of drek falls out of fashion soon, though I suspect it will be replaced by something equally stupid.

Oh, how wonderful our new regime is!

So now we have our freshly appointed Attorney General telling the entire world that the United States is a “nation of cowards”.  How wonderful! It’s always nice to hear top government officials disparaging the entire country.

According to Holder, since the average American — in his estimation — doesn’t hang out with a racially mixed crown on weekends, we’re all just a bunch of cowards for candidly discussing racial issues.  Excuse me?  The last time I was tempted candidly discuss a racial issue, I was reminded that it would probably result in my being labeled (by people like Holder and his soulmates, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Ernie Chambers) a racist, right-wing thug just trying to keep my brother down.

Could Saint Barack have possibly chosen a more unrealistic jackass for this job?  It’s bad enough that this guy apparently wants to completely disarm the entire civilian population.  Now he apparently thinks forced integration of our weekends would be a good idea as well.  What would he like to see?  Government mandated EEOC oversight of family picnics and golf outings?

How ironic that Holder seems to have borrowed his comment from the title of a book written by someone who seems to be from as far as possible from him in the political spectrum.  It’s interesting to see the Ministry of Truth in full swing.  Orwell seems to have been a couple of decades off the mark, but we’re getting there.

I win!

I moderate every comment posted to this blog. All one of them, so far. I don’t do that to censor viewpoints with which I don’t agree (though I could). I do it to keep the spammers and other jackasses from polluting the pond here. Every once in a while I get a dozen or so bogus comments posted by lame-ass criminals trying to spread viruses, Trojan programs or porno ads. I just delete their sorry crap and go on with my life.

The Internet as we know it is under constant siege. Unfortunately most of the attacks come from outside the US, places where the local governments are unable or unwilling to do anything about it. Even more disturbing, I suspect the majority of these attacks are perpetrated by US residents, using crappy computers in crappy, backwards or unfriendly countries to avoid prosecution in the US.

The answer to this problem as it stands today is not more laws. The laws we have are easily (and universally) circumvented or ignored. The only answer I can offer up is frontier justice. In the mean time, I just play Whack-A-Mole with the spammers, thieves and other low-life scum. So far I win.

Are we having fun yet?

Oh, how I do love remodeling…  we’ve got the downstairs bathroom torn pretty much apart, working on getting the last of it ripped out now.  When it’s done it will be all new from the drywall inward.  New vanity, counter, sink, mirror, lights, fan, toilet, the works.  It’s not without challenges, from the inadequate (for what we wanted to do, anyway) wiring to the lack of water shutoff valves under the sink.  Seriously, who does that??

My rant about the economy

I’ve been harping on this for years. What we are seeing is the exact same thing that happened over 30 years ago. The economy was good, so we (collectively, the American public) got lazy and stupid. Cars got bigger and bigger, because that’s what was selling. To hell with gas mileage! I’ve got money, so that 10 MPG monstrosity (3-ton sedan then, 3-ton SUV now) isn’t a big deal. Make my car bigger, faster and louder; I want to see horsepower numbers, not fuel economy. So the auto makers follow the money, and for some unfathomable reason think it will last forever. Short-term thinking sets in, no one looks past the next quarter or two, and they keep churning out F-150s and Escalades instead of looking to improve the smaller, cheaper, more efficient vehicles. That market is left (now as it was then) to the Japanese, only now the Koreans are in the game as well.

So, our Arab brothers decide to jack up the price of oil — why? Well, because they can! If you see that your biggest customer will buy whatever you offer, at whatever price you demand, it follows that you’re able to do whatever you want with the prices. Besides, we’re just a bunch of filthy infidel that will eventually be converted or killed anyway (in case you missed it, these people are not our friends). Throw into the mix that China is finally waking up from a 60-year sleep and starting to rub its eyes, look around and see that there is business to be done and money to be had. The cheap labor market has shifted from the Japan of the 50s and 60s to China (along with other places like India), and the standard of living in those places is rising. As a result, their demand for oil, steel, and other commodities is rising sharply.

All the while we’re blissfully cruising along at 80 MPH in a 4-wheel-drive pickup or SUV sucking down gas like there will never be an empty tank. Wind power? Too expensive to develop, coal is cheap (never mind those nuke plants starting to age out). Hydroelectric? God forbid we build any more dams! Solar? Again, why bother when gas and oil and coal are so cheap. Oh, hey, wait. Now they’re not, and now we’re 30 years behind where we should be. We wasted three entire decades when we could have been weaning ourselves off of foreign oil, because we were too short-sighted to see that the oil problems of the early 1970s would be back, without fail. Why? Well, for pretty much the exact same reasons there were back then, I guess.

And where was our government during all of this? Well, I guess we get the government we deserve. Don’t try to lay the blame at the feet of any one administration or political party; not a damn one of them did anything significant to help move us in the right direction. It’s not politically wise to tell people during good times that there will be bad times at some future date, and to prepare for them. We could have had strong leadership pointing the way to energy independence and the use of renewable, ecologically sound fuels and energy sources, but we didn’t. We could have had policies that encouraged American businesses and consumers to think long term instead of short term, globally instead of locally, but we didn’t. We still don’t. I don’t know that we ever will.

I have very little sympathy for American car manufacturers, or for Harley-Davidson for that matter. It should have been blindingly obvious all along that the ride couldn’t last forever, yet all of them have been pretending that it would. Now, when things are looking a little bleak as they were bound to, they act like it’s a huge surprise. Gee, they say, why aren’t people buying our behemoths any more? Must be that pesky ol’ economy, we’ll just make some more Yukons for when things turn around. Yeah, that will work.

And the Harley crew… my God. Did they learn nothing from watching the cigar boom of the last decade? Dealers building new, huge showrooms well after the market peaks and starts to decline? How incredibly obtuse can you be, to not see what is so obvious to even a casual observer? I watched American Chopper last night; the Teutels are building a new plant and expanding their operations. I wish them luck, but my prediction is that in a few years you’ll be able to rent space in that place for indoor tennis courts.

Don’t get me wrong; I think the economy will pick back up. Historically, it always has. I’m not frantically selling off stock right now, I’m buying at cut-rate prices (just not Ford, GM, or Harley). But I do wish that some day we might collectively, as a nation, wake up and remember that we’ve been here before, and maybe figure out that we might want to address some of these problems before the next crisis. If we don’t, these recessions will just continue to get worse.

DC vs Heller

Today I was reading the latest news in the DC vs. Heller case, which promises to be one of the more eagerly anticipated and discussed Supreme Court opinions of the decade. DC vs Heller is a suit brought by a group of District of Columbia residents in an effort to overturn a set of laws that outright bans the ownership or possession of all handguns,and very severely limits the ability to own and use long guns as well. In one of the news articles linked from Wikipedia, I read the following quote:

“If the Supreme Court lifts the gun ban, you are going to have a serious war,” [Smith] says. “Everybody will think they can defend themselves. There will be more shootings, more killings.”

Oh, my. Now, here I am, forty-something years old, and all this time I have labored under the misconception that an individual has the right to defend himself (or herself), and that said right predated the US Constitution by, well, as long as there have been living creatures on the Earth. Apparently, though, plenty of people feel that you and I — meaning normal, law-abiding citizens attempting to live our lives in peace — have no right to defend ourselves, our families or our property, even though all will readily admit that there is no shortage of armed criminals intent on robbery, rape, murder and various other forms of mayhem.

Some people just plain befuddle me. It seems that many of those most in favor of gun bans and confiscation are those who would most immediately and directly benefit from an increase in the number of armed, law abiding citizens in close proximity. I’ll be the first to say that the chances of my house getting robbed, or of me getting mugged, are far lower than those of someone living in a rough part of town. It’s not directly related to the fact that I am able to defend myself and my home; it’s more because we’re simply out of harm’s way for the most part. It takes effort to come out to this end of town to rob and kill, and criminals are inherently lazy to begin with. But there’s also the fact that out here, people will watch out for their neighbors; they will get involved; they will get descriptions of cars and people; they will talk to and cooperate with police. That fact that they may also shoot back is secondary.

Imagine the impact on the crime rate in some of the rough neighborhoods of (for example) the District of Columbia if the criminals knew there was a good chance their next intended victim might well be armed and ready to (gasp) defend themselves. It doesn’t take a lot of deep thinking to figure it out. Ms. Smith might possibly be right about one thing; there might be a very short-term increase in the number of shootings, but the majority of those shot would be the ones who, as they say, need shootin’.

Don’t buy oil from Joe’s!

I got an email forwarded to me today suggesting that we all quit buying gas from Exxon Mobil in an attempt to “show them that the consumer sets the price, not the seller” and get the price of gas back down to $2 a gallon. Of course the way to this Nirvana is, as always, to forward the email to everyone you know… sigh.

Let’s assume for a moment that for some reason a few million people decide they will no longer buy gas from Exxon or Mobil (though it’s really not likely to begin with). That means they’re all buying from, say, BP or Phillips or wherever. Great, so their stations now either run out of gasoline and diesel, or Continue reading “Don’t buy oil from Joe’s!”

Tech “support” can be SO annoying.

So yesterday, for the second day in a row, our Cox internet connection goes away.  Poof…  the network is still there, but there’s no DHCP server responding, so the router is off line, for all practical purposes.  Connected the incoming cable to the Linux box and I can see traffic with tcpdump; mostly ARP requests from other systems.  I reset the interface for DHCP and could see my own DHCP requests going out, but nothing coming back from Cox.

So, time to call and let them know they’ve screwed the pooch again.  Tech support droid wants me to reboot my Linux machine to pick up a new IP address…  this despite the fact that he knows absolutely nothing about Linux, specifically that the networking actually works, and can be restarted without rebooting the box.  Sigh.  Why do they hire these morons, and then KEEP them stupid and completely in the dark?  God only knows.

Apparently they lost their DHCP server, or it had some severe screwup, since we now have a new IP address for the first time since we connected here in 2001.

Thieves, scumbags and vermin

Some people just need to be hunted down and beaten.

Take, for example, the vermin behind a company doing business in the Atlanta area. They’re variously known as VersaDebt, Warranty Activation Center, Debt Freedom, Debt Safe, Card Services, Client Services and probably dozens of other aliases. The current address I have for them is 4501 Circle 75 Parkway Suite A-1225 (Upper Level) Atlanta, GA 30339. Then there’s PO Box 674406, Marietta, GA 30006-0074. The domain registration s for and some of the others indicate a couple of other suspects:O’Donald, Burt (
Innovative Business Marketing, Inc.
10021 SW 142 Street
Miami, Florida 33176
(305) 253-9977

Autenrieth, Joshua (
Two J Consulting Group Inc.
108 N. Wymore Rd.
winter park, Florida 32789
(407) 758-3728

Oh, what a surprise!!! Florida, the home of an incredibly large number of thieves, cheats, liars, con men, murderers, drug dealers, and petty criminals of all descriptions. Apparently you can pretty much do as you please in Florida without the inconvenience of any semblance of law enforcement.

We have been getting telemarketing calls from these scumbags for a couple of years now. It’s always the same thing: forged caller ID with a fake phone number, a recorded pitch trying to sucker you into some scam – it used to be “debt and interest reduction for your credit card accounts”. Now it’s “Activate the extended warranty on your car”. All of it bullshit. We’re on the Do Not Call list, have been since it came on line. They don’t care. They know they can operate with impunity, because apparently the FCC and FTC are toothless old women, unwilling or unable to do anything. The GA Attorney General doesn’t care. I would be tempted to think these jackasses are paying people off for protection from prosecution, but I think the sad fact is you can get away with damn near anything illegal in this country any more, without any fear of having some government regulatory or law enforcement agency actually enforcing the bazillion laws we already have.

Like I said… some people just need an old fashioned beat down. Whatever you do, DON’T start prank calling (877) 680-3328 or (866) 620-3350 or (800) 350-3046, or FAX-bombing 678-238-0625, or hacking,, or Just don’t.

Unless maybe you live in Florida or Georgia, then you can probably get away with it. Everyone else does.