new Elvira movie... Trailer (Real, QT)
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the walls are alive with the sound of insects

Extreme Urban Farming: Bees Gone Wild

Cool photos of the process of vacuuming 15,000 bees out of the walls of a house and relocating their hive!

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psytrance flyers: the ass-end of design

One of my jobs is updating the calendar. It is, of course, like pulling teeth to get the promoters to give us any information about their events, so usually all we have to go in is the flyer. That means I have to spend time staring at a what-happens-when-Teletubbies-explode mess like the flyer on the right, and try to figure out what it says so that I can transribe it onto the web site. It's going to make me go blind, I tell you.

Just now as I was typing this one in, I thought Dutch was the headliner, which seemed wrong. Because my brain just threw away the angry font salad on the top half of the flyer. "Nope, no signal there", said Mister Brain. "That's just clicks and pops, that is."

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oh, fucky.

After waiting five hours for tape #1 to be written and verified, I see:

    Total bytes written: 10723840000 (10GB, 991kB/s)
    dump started at Wed Sep 25 04:20:44 PDT 2002,
        finished at Wed Sep 25 07:18:23 PDT 2002

    verifying archive...
    tar -f /dev/tape --blocking-factor=200 --diff

    c/01/mp3/babes_in_toyland/spanking_machine/10-dust_cake_boy.mp3: Contents differ
    c/01/mp3/belly/star/06-witch.mp3: Contents differ
    c/01/mp3/coil/the_snow_ep/05-answers_come_in_dreams_ii.mp3: Contents differ

    verify finished at Wed Sep 25 10:16:32 PDT 2002

[ LJ Poll 62964 ]

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hard like a criminal

So here's my life for the last five days:

<LJ-CUT TEXT=" three fisted tales of how my computer hates me ">

I say to myself, "Self, you've been really slack about doing backups on the machine that has all your MP3s lately." I retorted that doing backups sucks, because I do it to 12G DATs, and each one takes about 3.5 hours to write, and the same to verify, so when I get it in my head to "do backups", that's an every-night-for-a-week job. Then I said to myself, "dude, here's a nickel, go get another disk drive and back them up to that instead!"

So I get this 120G drive, and I start copying my existing MP3s to it. God damn this machine is slow. I mean really slow. Wait, it shouldn't be that slow. This is crazy. Writing DATs is faster than this.

Shit, no wonder performance went to hell at around the time I upgraded to RH7.3: apparently, around that time, one of my three disks (the one my system is on, along with about 1/4th of my MP3s) decided to start running two orders of magnitude slower than it used to:

    /dev/hda:  64 MB in 526.75 seconds = 124.42 kB/sec
    /dev/hdb: 64 MB in 2.91 seconds = 21.99 MB/sec
    /dev/hdc: 64 MB in 3.29 seconds = 19.45 MB/sec
    /dev/hdd: 64 MB in 1.70 seconds = 37.65 MB/sec

Wow. Nice. So I tried a bunch of things -- checked jumper settings, bought new IDE cables, etc -- no luck. The next thing to try was to move it to another IDE controller and see if it still loses. Oh, but it's my system disk. So first I have to copy my system from this disk to a new one. I consolidate space so that I can overwrite one of my disks, and clone my system disk to it. Which takes forever, because note, I'm copying files off of my system disk at a whopping 125KB/s.

So I boot the new system disk, and yup, machine's a lot faster, and yup, the slow disk is still slow. I also attached the slow disk to a different computer, and it was also slow there. Great. So that disk is essentially dead, and now I'm down to only having room for one copy of my MP3s instead of two. So I need to buy another 120G disk. Except by now it's saturday night, and I can't get one until monday. Oh well, I'll spend the weekend copying the rest of the MP3s off of the slow disk. This is a lamentably manual process, because I don't trust the machine to, well, function, so I'm babysitting it a lot.

Somewhere in here I have a genuine premonition, and say to myself, "Self, you ought to make checksums of all the files on the slow disk, and compare them to the copies. Just in case." This makes everything take twice as long (since I'm reading each file twice.)

So on monday, it's almost done copying and summing, and I go get another 120G disk. To add insult to injury, the price of 120G disks has gone up by $30 over the weekend.

So now I've got a machine with three disks, a small-ish one for the system, a big one for MP3s, and a big one for a copy of the MP3s, under the assumption that both disks probably won't fail at the same time.

I take advantage of my premonition, and check the checksums of the files on the new disk. Gasp! Some of them (a few dozen files, out of the many thousands) don't match! How did that happen? Well, the "slow disk" is obviously failing, so maybe this is just another symptom. I re-copy those files over, and they match this time.

I feel like I'm just about done. Ho ho ho!

Because I was using three disks before and now I'm using one, the partition sizes aren't the same in the new world, so there are some partitions that aren't all the way full. So I start moving directories around to pack things in. It's going well, and I'm basking in the glorious speed of the new disks, compared to the broken one.

Then the machine crashes.

And when I boot up, all those directories I was moving around? They're gone.

All of them.

The ext3 file system decided it was going to roll back the journal by at least fifteen minutes -- FIFTEEN MINUTES -- on the destination partitions. The source partitions, it left alone. So it went ahead and let the deletions happen, but un-did all of the file creations.

I spend some time tracking down what went missing, and it's like 70+ albums.

I check the contents of the decomissioned disks -- nope, none of the files are there. It turns out that all of these files happened to originally live on the disk I reformatted to be my new system disk.

I found about 20 of them on my old DAT backups from two years ago, and was able to restore them. But the rest were all things I'd gotten more recently than that. So now I have to re-rip 50+ CDs. And I can't even find them all: since my Damned Shelves have been full for years, new acquisitions have been sitting scattered in piles on the floor, and apparently some of those piles have gone where the socks in the dryer go. Or something.

Oh but wait, there's more!

Remember that premonition about the checksums? Well guess what. When I copy files from the new "main" MP3 disk to the new "backup" MP3 disk, I find that some of the files don't match. This can't be blamed on the "slow" disk, because it's not even attached to the system at this point. What the hell? I pull both versions of one of the files into Emacs and compare them. They're the same length, but starting a few MB into the file, there are a few bytes that have been changed in non-obvious ways. Oddly, mp3_check reports no MP3 errors in either file, which I guess just means the bytes didn't happen to be diddled in an MPEG header.

So I re-copy them again, and again that works.

Since then, I've seen this same kind of file corruption when moving files from partition to partition within the same disk, on both of the new disks. Let's recap:

  • brand new disks, two different vendors (IBM, Western Digital)
  • brand new IDE cables
  • latest stable kernel, 2.4.19
  • recently ran "memtest86 3.0" to verify my RAM
  • failures seen between two partitions both on the IBM disk
  • failures seen between two partitions both on the WD disk

So that sounds like either: ext3 is a way flakier file system than it can believably be, given how widely deployed it is; or, my mobo's IDE controller has lost its mind; or, there's some mysterious white-hole source of cosmic rays under my desk, flipping bits willy-nilly.

Someone said they had seen this kind of thing when slow disks were being used on a fast bus, but I'm pretty sure these disks are way faster than my bus. And my bus may even be running slower than it should be. I don't remember what mobo is in this machine, and I don't want to take it apart again to look, but syslog says

    ide: Assuming 33MHz system bus speed for PIO modes; override with idebus=xx

So the disks are probably running at like, 1/4th the speed they're capable of? That sounds like it ought to be pretty fucking safe.

So, after all this, I've been disabused of the fantasy that I don't need to back up to DAT any more, and my machine is now sitting here making the harmonizing rackets of ripping CDs and writing DATs at the same time. I'm going to be doing this for at least another week.


I really fucking hate computers. I just want an appliance that works.

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why I still watch MTV

Three words: android goth chix!

They just played the video for So To Speak by Dj Acucrack, which is full of segmented-armor goth robo-babes, like in that Bjork les-bot video, but spookier.

Great song, too -- I thought it was Curve at first, because Toni Halliday does the vocals.

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I only got to see the first 10 minutes of the first episode Firefly because of some fatass cud-chewers hitting a ball with a stick and jogging in circles. And it apparently isn't going to be on again any time soon.

Anyone got a tape of it they can lend me?

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kitty wants to play "eat your head"

Tiger attacks kindergartner at Scotts Valley school

Michelle R. Smith

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A tiger attacked a kindergartner at a school assembly in Scotts Valley on Friday afternoon, sending the 6-year-old boy to a hospital.

The female tiger, called Sima, was being led on a leash out of an auditorium at Baymonte Christian School by her trainer when she leaped over a row of seats and grabbed the boy's head in her jaws, said Capt. Harry Bidleman, Scotts Valley Police.

Anita Jackson, an employee of the business that owns Sima, said the incident was not an attack, but simply a case of a playful tiger.

[...] in a televised interview Friday evening in San Jose next to an open van with the tiger inside, the company's supervisor of animal care and training said Sima had not attacked the boy, but was just playing. Anita Jackson said the children had been asked to sit down as Sima left the room but several jumped up, attracting the tiger's attention.


better than The Running Man

A New Political Reality Comes to TV

By Melissa Grego and Josef Adalian

HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Entertainment and politics are about to collide as never before via a sure-to-be provocative new reality series from FX.

The News Corp.-owned cable channel has pacted with documentary veteran R.J. Cutler ("The War Room"), director Jay Roach ("Austin Powers") and producer Tom Lassally ("Totally Hidden Video") to mount an ambitious two-year endeavor that will culminate in the American public choosing a "people's candidate" to run for president of the United States in 2004.

"It's like a cross between 'The War Room' and 'American Idol,"' Cutler told Daily Variety. "We will be making available to every American who is qualified, by virtue of the Constitution, the opportunity to run for president."

Just as "American Idol" went searching for undiscovered musical talent, Cutler said "American Candidate" will be on the hunt for untapped political and leadership skill.

<LJ-CUT text=" --More--(19%) ">

"We're trying to see if there's a young Abe Lincoln out there, somebody whose vision could turn on the public in an exciting way," he said.

The series will be seeking "the Jesse Venturas of the world, finding messages people want to hear," added Kevin Reilly, FX's president of entertainment. "Hopefully, we'll find some very qualified civil servant who lacks a power base and maybe also a plumber from Detroit who (tells) it like it is."

To land a slot on the show, applicants will have to fill out questionnaires, provide videotapes in which they explain why they would make a great president and put together a group of 50 supporters from their community who will serve as sponsors.

The process likely will get under way in January 2003, with the first of a minimum 13 episodes likely to air starting in January 2004.

A panel of yet-to-be-determined experts will assess the applicant pool and choose about 100 candidates for the start of the series. During subsequent episodes, candidates will square off in numerous competitions, from debates to deciding whether to use opposition research to slam other contestants.

The number of semifinalists will be whittled down each week, based on a point system that will factor in competition results, live audience response and telephone/Internet voting. Each episode will originate from all-American locales such as Mount Rushmore or the Statue of Liberty.

The final episode will be an "American Candidate" convention, held on the National Mall in Washington around July 4, 2004 -- about the same time the Republicans and Democrats will be prepping their conventions. In a live episode, viewers will then determine the winning candidate from among three finalists.

The winner will then decide whether to launch an official campaign. If he or she decides to make a run, a series of "War Room"-like specials will be produced following the candidate through Election Day.

The candidate will have to meet the standards for election set forth in the U.S. Constitution, which means each will have to be a natural-born American citizen who's at least 35 years old as of Jan. 20, 2005 and has lived in the States for the last seven years.

Cutler said the series will test the openness of U.S. democracy.

"We're (taught) that every young boy or girl can grow up to be president, but we all know that's not really true," he said, noting that the two major party candidates in the 2000 election came from political dynasties. "This show is going to ask whether or not anyone really can become president."

Cutler, Lassally and Roach previously developed a similar concept at HBO called "Candidate 2012," which did not go forward. That project was conceived much differently, as a straight documentary about one young political wannabe on a quest for the presidency in 2012.

FX's Reilly said his network and Cutler already were at work developing a documentary franchise when the idea of "American Candidate" came up.

"The intention is not to do a political gong show," he said. "We think we can get the audience to connect to politics, issues and the democratic process in a way they haven't been. It's a lofty goal, and we hope we can do it."

While "American Candidate" will be a reality show at heart, Cutler and FX hope the show ends up something more than just another big nonfiction hit.

"We expect it to be entertaining and engaging and provocative in the way that all good television is," Cutler said. "But it's also a show about something."

Beltway skeptics will no doubt scoff at the idea that a complete nobody could end up a serious candidate for president. Cutler, however, believes those pundits would be underestimating the power of television.

After all, Kelly Clarkson was a complete unknown until "American Idol" turned her into a household name. And Ventura became governor of Minnesota on the strength of his TV and wrestling fame.

"The winner of 'American Candidate' will be a TV star with (high name recognition)," Cutler said. "Like America itself, this project is a great experiment. We'll see how America responds."

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hey kids, what day is it?

Apparently today is "Bad Facial Tattoo Day." Riding around downtown, I saw no less than four instances of this. All the guys fit the same mold, though they weren't near each other: they had that "when I was 20 I was a gutterpunk, but now I'm almost 40 so I'm just a dirtbag" look about them, and super-classy "someone scribbled all over my face with light blue magic marker" tattoos. Truly fine specimens, I must say.
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Current Music: none, because my computer hates me