Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Max Factor

When I was a young kid, in the 60's, we used to listen to Jayhawk's basketball on the radio. The announcer was Max Falkenstien. He'd already been at it for almost 20 years.

Last year, if you listened to KU basketball, the announcer was ... Max Falkenstien. He's been at it 59 years, and still going.

Persistence pays off. It also helps to be good. In September, Max will receive the 15th annual Curt Gowdy electronic media award from the Naismith Hall of Fame.

Previous winners include Gowdy, Chick Hearn, Marv Albert, Caywood Ledford, Bob Costas, and somebody named Vitale. Of them all, only Ledford and Falkenstien spent there entire careers associated with one school. (Oddly enough, both schools have the initials K and U, though not necessarily in that order.)

I can't find it anywhere on the web, but I seem to remember that Gowdy stopped doing college basketball after the 1971 NCAA semifinal between Kansas and UCLA, when he forgot the names of some Kansas players.

Sir: Keep Your Hands Away from the Cellphone

Starting one week from today, it will be illegal to drive in the District of Columbia with one hand attached to a cell phone. You are supposed to use a "hands free device", though you will be allowed to touch the phone "to dial a call or to power the phone on or off." You can use a headset, or a speaker phone. The fine for otherwise touching the phone in the sight of a police officer is $100.

Speaker phones will most likely pick up the sound of the next driver over's boombox stereo system, so I'd rather have the headset. Let's see how that works:

Old way (phone to ear):

  1. Phone rings
  2. Pick up phone
  3. Open/answer phone
  4. Place phone to ear
  5. Talk, keeping eyes on road

New way (headset):

  1. Phone Rings
  2. Reach for headset
  3. Drop headset between driver and passenger's seats
  4. Fetch headset
  5. Attach to ear
  6. Realize wire from headset to phone is disconnected
  7. Locate phone
  8. Pick it up
  9. Reach for wire with other hand (small problem here)
  10. Attach wire to phone
  11. Reach down to pick up headset, which you've accidentally ripped off your ear while attaching the wire
  12. Look up to make sure you are still on the road
  13. Reattach headset to ear
  14. Caller hung up. Look up phone number on speed-dial
  15. Place call (oddly enough, this is legal)
  16. Talk

Oh yeah, that's much better.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Nothing To Do With Linux

This one's Mac specific. Specifically Max OS X 10.3 and above:

When you log into a terminal window or (with X11) an xterm, you get your default shell, of course, and it defaults to /bin/bash. In 10.1 you could change this easily, but I had no idea how to do it in 10.3, until I read this macosxhints article. Basically:

  • In Finder, go to Applications/Utilities
  • Find Netinfo Manager
  • Click on Users
  • Click on the name of the account you want to change
  • Click on shell in the Properties window
  • First click on the lock below that and enter your password (administrative access required, I believe)
  • Now click on shell
  • Change the default shell. I use /bin/tcsh
  • Click on the lock again
  • Log out of the account and log in again.
  • The shell should be changed.

Note that there is a command line prompt to do this, but hey, this is a Mac. We don't need no stinkin' command lines.

According to comments to the article, you can now use the chsh command. Again: Hey!! This is a Mac!!

Civics Lessons

Over on there's an article about the Canadian Legal System, as we get closer to the Canadian National elections.

And as a comment to that, there's an excellent "quick and dirty" guide to the US political system. If you missed this stuff in high school, here's a good place to start.

Debbie Does ... Wichita???

Well, sort of: it's a stage version, keeping the dialog, and keeping everyone's clothing on.

Only in Kansas.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Another Reason Not to Use Internet Explorer

This just in via friends, and Slashdot, there's another hole in Internet Explorer. According to the article, it will "allow a complete bypass of security and provide system access to a computer," and it's already available in the wild.

Solutions are to either:

If you want to be supersafe, use lynx.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Would someone check Blogger's Clock?

Those last two posts were made just a couple of minutes apart, judging from the time I hit the "Publish" button, yet the log times are 18 minutes apart.

Forgot to mention Cicadas

this week. Don't worry, they're still here, though the volume has gone down considerably. Every once in a while, though, you see a cicada flying through the air, or dragging himself across the road. We're almost finished with this cycle.

Another Day, Another Claim

Once again, someone claims to have found Atlantis. This time it's in Spain, though not on the plain. At least that's reasonably close to Plato's location, the "Pillars of Hercules", aka the Gibraltar Straits.

Of course, this isn't the first time Atlantis has been "found", and it won't be the last. Recently, it was found near Cyprus. It's also been found further off Gibraltar, under the South China sea (along with Prester John, no doubt), and who knows where.

Of course, the is all just hype, a promotion. As we all know, the real location of Atlantis will be revealed on June 16, on a cable channel near you.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Sic Transit Gloria Venus

Twice every 130 or so years, Venus crosses the disk of the Sun, as seen from Earth. The nineteenth century transits of Venus helped astronomers determine the scale of the solar system. Transits still have scientific use. For one thing, the backside of Venus is black compared to the surface of the Sun, much blacker than sunspots, which would be blinding if they were anywhere but the surface of the Sun. This gives us a handle on the true brightness of the Sun.

Information on this year's transit, which takes place early Tuesday Morning, EDT, is available on the Sun-Earth Day 2004 web page. Some of the links include:

If you've just got to look at the transit directly, it's recommended that you use a welding hood with a #14 or darker filter. Otherwise, use one of these websites, or contact your local observatory.

Archive Update

If you look in the archives, you'll see some posts that look as though they were written in stream-of-conscience mode. Just where you think there should be a paragraph -- there is no paragraph. In fact, paragraph spaces that you might have seen before have vanished.

This blog is not possessed, it's just had a change of view. The default input mode to Blogger (adv.) interprets carriage returns as line breaks (<br /> in HTML) and double carriage returns as new paragraphs (<p>). That's fine for many things, but I found that it doesn't give adequate formatting control for my taste, so I set everything so that I have to specify line breaks and paragraphs.

Of course, this setting doesn't apply just to posts written after the change, it applies to everything to the blog. So some early posts are now missing paragraph markers.

I'm slowly editing the posts to correct this, but haven't caught up with everything. If you find something in the archive that looks run-on, let me know and I'll fix it. If it doesn't make any sense after that, well, that's not my problem...

June Linux Gazette (.net)

Linux Gazette (.net., accept no substitutions) is one of the more useful sites on the web. It only appears monthly, but just about every month there's an article worth reading. This month there are three of note:

  1. John Murray's Bare-Bones Guide to Firewalls tells you exactly what a firewall is and does, gives some hints on what settings to use in your distribution's GUI firewall.
    • In Fedora Core 1, the GUI firewall control is redhat-config-securitylevel. If you're not running any servers, providing printers for your local network, etc., then make sure all of the boxes are unchecked.
  2. Barry O'Donovan's Firewalling with netfilter/iptables tells you how to set up your own custom firewall. If you are running a mailserver, webserver, or an ftp or ssh daemon, and you want to make sure your site is secure, read here.
  3. Moving off of security issues, Ben Okopnik writes of Plots, Graphs, and Curves in the World of Linux, with emphasis on the features of gnuplot. He mentions several FAQs and tutorials, which I'll repeat here:
    Of course, for notes on compiling gnuplot 4.0 from scratch, see my experiences with gnuplot.