Sunday, April 27, 2008

Evil laughter fills the hollow where the little children love to play...

From the often excellent and easily quote mined: No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Reloaded)

Peter Watts agrees with me on a hypothetical audio book reader choice!!!

Keippernicus said...

This may put me in a bad light but whoever reads it will have a shining thread of evil woven into their voice to do justice to the awesome malevolence of Sarasti and Rorscach's readouts.

My first pick would be Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith, Elrond)

Man, Hugo Weaving might even work in the role of Sarasti, in some magical parallel universe where they turn Blindsight into a movie...

April 25, 2008 5:03 PM

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Take that, world!!!!

This is a repost from the usual blag but I wanted it to show up in google just in case anybody tries to come up with the idea while I am out of the country.

In case you are wondering 'cycrobe' is a portmanteau of cybernetic microbe. Ah, edification is glorious, is it not? It's like being given a blank history book and scrawling 'FIRST!' at the top of the page.

Kind of like this.

Behold the awesome power of google!!!

As you may or may not know from my last post there's a new blog on the tubes. Some might call it presumptive, some might call it lame.

Some might draw inferences about my mental state or sexual preferences but others will just experience the scrotum slapping awesomeness that is...

Brute Finesse

Now a curious component of the new blog was the adsense integration aspect. The actual setup was a snap, someone was kind enough to create a plugin for easy access to adsense and yahoo ads.

However the curious increase in web traffic via my grass roots campaign to tell everyone about the new blog must have trigged some alarms deep in the bowels of google's impressive computational infrastructure.

I logged into my ad account and noticed that in one weekend I had earned QUADRUPLE what this blog had earned in six months. I blame myself. Anyway what impressed me was one of google's identity verification systems.

Basically they had my phone number on file and needed me to dial in a verification code for them. They were even kind enough to provide an option for when to call. This was before work started on monday so I obliged and clicked 'now'

Boy did they mean it. No sooner had my right index finger popped off my mouse the phone rang. It wasn't instantaneous but that kind of response time is why I think robot customer service will put me out of the job someday soon.

Its good to know that at least one company, arguably THE company, is kicking ass and taking names with the kind of precision we should all expect out of our economy. When I read about the sheer magnitude of computation that google wields to such great effect i can only nod my head in approval.

If they ever merge with I suspect that the density of awesome would bring a swift end to the world. An awesome end, but a swift one.

Kudos google, and no I don't have a botnet to spam ad clicks or generate new traffic, just the interest and support of my family and friends. And one day, the world!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Lung cancer, I fart on you!!!

So brutefinesse is up and running though there are several changes I would like to make. Most of them are cosmetic in nature but I also need to get my adsense integrated. Anyway be sure to check it out.

Link follows.

The Blag

(I am really glad that I don't have lung cancer, especially mesothelioma) I say this only because today is the 11month mark for me. Also its wade's birthday but oh well.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

From the days of yore we recall a quiet sip of sophistication.

Let me tell you a little about my friend Tom.

Tom is the reason I started drinking alcohol in more than passing quantities. Tom taught me to play frisbee golf. Tom and I used to play the 'You sick fuck' game.' One time Tom and I got ripped off our asses and played racquetball.

Tom invented the best drink ever.

Though the original recipe may vary ever so slightly from its contemporary, I care not. For three years or more this has been the canonical "Naughty Brown Cow"

Its name and origin shrouded in mystery, the first recorded consumption of this beverage occurred in the summer of 2002 at an apartment in Raleigh, North Carolina. I remember my first taste being not so much a sensory experience as an epiphany in a glass. I was reticent I admit, something about milk and alcohol being mixed played about my predjudice. Yet I sipped, and I swallowed. It was like a pull from the teat of a holy mammary. Enough words, let me divulge the recipe.

5oz chocolate milk
1oz Silver Rum
1oz Kahlua

Combine milk, rum and kahlua. Shake and server over ice.

One glass of strong juju.

So enjoy this when you can, and tell your friends your mouth wants a ride on the naughty brown cow. It'll tip your opinion to udder delight. In fact it cud be the best liquid on planet earth.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Call me a one-trick pony if you must, I've got at least three talents and I can apply two of them while sitting down with a pc (or a Mac if you throw in a barfbag.)

My biting atheistic tendencies are beginning to creep into other areas of my life and I find it worrisome. Seeing a picture of a terrible blister/tumor/pustule of some sort is disturbing but finding one sticking out of your own conscience...well that's different.

Something I have retained from my religious experience is a deep seated sense of worry that I am always just a few bad decisions away from that sinking realization that I have fucked up. It's an awful feeling when you realize that you've become guilty of a law you wrote *for yourself.*

Granted there is some redemption in the identification and correction of such missteps. However just assuming 'hey i am a good person so i'll do better' has proven demonstrably false. Enough caterwauling though, let me enumerate my sins most heinous.

It's so easy to forget that being right is ALWAYS a relative phenomenon. How often I have felt justified in some opinion or sentiment only to look back at a later date and realize how my opinion has drifted over time. Sadly my favorite example of this is a certain song from Warcraft II. You can listen to it here, its the second half (starts at 3:30)

If you know your history this game came out a long time ago. I mean like ten years ago or more. I remember playing it briefly at scott's house and thinking 'surely game graphics can't get much better' Starcraft two of course immolates that idea.

The point of this is that I really liked the music but I hadn't listened to it in years and I realized that my mental recording was WRONG, and not just a little wrong, not just 'oh i forgot that part of the riff' wrong but whole swaths of the piece were just missing. It's quite disconcerting that even our 'long term' storage is apparently volatile. Now I have known that memory is statistically terrible since high school psych but being surprised by it so bluntly still came as a shock.

I remember when I was 18 thinking 'yeah that was ten years ago...ten years, holy crap i am so old.' And kiddies I am not going to say enjoy it while you can because you'll probably be a douche during college but I'm not going to stop anyone from making their own mistakes.

So taking the music metaphor (ignoring all that other crap) we apply the volatility clause to morality and find what...DECADENCE!!!

More accurately as I introspected I discovered that I have a tendency to drift towards two of the most vile poisons to human progress (and I don't mean bacon) Let's call them 'vengeance' and 'the curse of being smart enough to see clearly but not so smart as to be unassailable in my position.' The second one needs work I am sure.

Regarding vengeance: I believe that every human gets squinty-eyed and mean over some commonplace facet of other people's lives. Indoctrinating children happens to be one of my hot buttons. Seriously watching 'Jesus Camp' brought tears to my eyes. Then again the scene where the fat shit preacher lady is praying over the FUCKING POWERPOINT setup I was reminded of why rage dwells at the heart of any geek.

It's really fucking scary in its own right but it also clashes with one of my childhood idealisms. Sadly I grew up thinking that people would hip to the benefits and wonder of technology and science. Now before someone pulls out the very obvious bias we all get from the fundamental attribution error I will 'pretort' by saying that statistics will bear out my assertion. People don't have a fucking clue about the universe and its unforgivable.

Consider the following examples (the first is mainly shock value but don't let that corrupt your indignation)

Immoral Nanotech
Public Understanding of Science

Whenever someone does a survey or something about the knowledge of the public I am invariably prone to negativity because people don't know a lot of stuff. It's a little offensive to me that stuff I consider near and dear (like how the earth revolves around the sun, or the relative size of the solar system/galaxy/universe) is totally lost on the common person.

Fuck the laity!!

Lazy bastards won't bother to read a book or learn something outside the minimal requirements. And when I say minimal I mean SCANT.

This is where I fall prey to thoughts of vengeance and begin to entertain somewhat insane ideas. The other day I was thinking about torture of prisoners and wondering if it might be better for the world to just show them Nova videos and then quiz them. We might not get the best intel but at least we'd be injecting something other than the Koran into their medieval world views (this is for the islamic militants only but we should be educating the world not pissing down its collar)

Sometimes when I get upset at myself I try to imagine the world if my conscious brain was copied and shunted instantly into everyone else's brain. The consequences would no doubt be fascinating as well as the scariest event to afflict the human race, sorry people. Anyway the real joys in life are invariably fleeting and so we must find ever bigger, badder and deeper ways to satisfy them. At least in education we are given a nearly limitless barrel of monkeys to delve into for entertainment, as well as enrichment, purposes.

When I get angry at humanity I try to calm down by thinking of my old haunt at the NCSU library. On the northwest corner of the stacks there is partially open air hallway from the stairwell to the main stacks. If you are holed up for a long day/night of studying its an excellent place for a smoke break.

What I liked best about this hideout besides the nicotine reprieves was that at a certain time in the evening you could see the sunset through the gaps in the brick. Better yet if it was a still day you could build up enough smoke to capture an entire phalanx of light rays. Say what you will about lung cancer and fire hazards, it was a beautiful sight. Thus calmed I turn to my second vice.

As well-formed and logical as the internal network of my brain appears to me there is an obvious barrier to the outside world. It's a little heartbreaking going from ATM to token ring. How are we to remedy something like that? It's not that I am so smart that the English language cannot convey the nuance of being seth inside there's just too much overhead to channel it out in a valid and meaningful way.

I often joke about the USB plug into my head but its starting to look more and more like it will happen at some point in our lifetime. If nothing else maybe someone will develop 'ghetto telepathy' as described below.

If you're into wiki-based education consider this definition for telepathy: Telepathy, from the Greek τελε, tele meaning "distant" and πάθεια, patheia meaning "to be affected by",[2] describes the purported transfer of information on thoughts or feelings between individuals by means other than the five classical senses (See Psi). [3][1]

You usually see this in the context of someone who can read minds, have visions, predict the future and other ESP related shit-cock brain phlegm. However with a few handy devices we should be able to achieve transparent, non-vocal communication between two people over distances that are purely speculative. Here's what you'll need to complete the process.

1) Embedded human-nerve signal detector attached somewhere convenient (like the brainstem) plus power source.
1) Embedded nerve impulse hardware codec
1-2) Transmitters. (More on that soon)

The idea is that when we internalize vocal thoughts part of the brain is being activated to do this. By passively capturing the nerve signals controlling vocalization we can channel this information not towards the vocal cords but to the implanted hardware codec where they can be analyzed and transmitted via the electromagnetic spectrum.

Early models will probably be shortrange, hell they might even use bluetooth or something from the Personal Area Network clade to transmit raw signal to an external device. If the bandwidth isn't there see a future post about fiber augmented human nervous system. Anyway it can't take TOO much info or energy to wiggle out vocal cords to produce meaningful sound so if the body can do it you bet your sweet bipedal ass that a computer can do it.

Transmit via local signal or TOIP (Telepathy over IP, makes VOIP look totally GLame) and decode at the recipient.

If we can develop some sweet internal control interface for dialing up people or selecting strangers within...(mindshot?)... well then the possibilities are just fucking wild. Of course there's always TOIP spam and mental phishing but until Quantum Linux hits the market there's nothing that 4096 bit encryption can't keep secret.

And if all else fails maybe IPv8 will be able to address internal brain signal routing as well as interplanetary ansible communication. Buck up boys and girls, the future waits for no one!

Monday, April 7, 2008

The long-awaited SCSI Odyssey

What began as an amalgam of intention, performance lust and opportunity culminated this weekend in an electronic journey of mini-epic proportions.

To refresh: The conundrum so far was how to best utilize a pair of 74 gigabyte 10k SCSI drives. My former setup used a 160 and a 320 gig sata drive as system and storage respectively. Even with both drives at a full clip the capacity just wasn't there.

So I decided to favor speed instead.

Now I dare not try to educate anyone in the ways of SCSI and there are plenty of good damn reasons why this technology never took off. Allow me to briefly enumerate them here:

1) Cost - Going by the retail road would have made this project prohibitively expensive. The drives, card and cable would have been unaffordable. Even at newegg comparable equipment would total out at $400 for 1 cable ($35) 1 card ($155) and two drives ($210) At this rate the actual project would have cost far more than I would have been willing to spend. I make it a habit never to spend more on a single component than the rest of the build combined. Even the comparably cheap alternatives that I secured make duplication an ill-advised prospect.

2) Complexity - The card I ended up getting has its own BIOS which is neat. However there was already an array configured and I had to tinker with it to kill that. Once done it was pretty easy to set up the RAID 0 array that I wanted. The drivers proved difficult. More on that later.

3) The Bottom Line - Storage is cheap and marginal gains for hundreds of dollars don't make sense. The whole point of this adventure was to nudge along the slowest component for a few modest performance gains and to learn more about SCSI in the process. While I did learn about it the amount of money it would have required otherwise, the amount of time I spent reading up and searching for components that would mesh well and the pure frustration of the setup all sucked quite a bit of life out of me.

Here's how it happened, starting from after Zaps came to life and demolished every crash test I could devise. I woke up early on Saturday, watched Battlestar (hey it'd been a year) and then got to work. I hauled old Rorschach out of my desk and disconnected all (kb, mouse, vga, dvi, printer usb, backup usb, sound x3, ethernet and power) 11 cables. I haven't gutted the main system in months so there was some requisite dust removal to be done.

Opening the case revealed, once again, what I consider the only true flaw in my PC case.


Notice anything ugly right off the bat? At the bottom of the case there is a HUGE honkin' video card that extends to within just a few inches of the front cages (where the hard drives live) A myriad of cables form an ugly clot right at that spot because of the bottleneck. I have developed great respect for single slot video cards and intend to get one next time around.

Here's Beebe interior for comparison:

Anyway. So when I began there were three drives installed. 160 Sata, 320 Sata and a 300 IDE drive. In case anyone cares that's .78 terabytes total. However this exercise pays homage to speed not storage so I ganked the IDE drive to make room for SCSI 1 and SCSI 2. This was touchy because of the bottleneck and the certain reluctance to remote everything out of the case for a few new parts. (The two drives on top are the SCSI drives, they are noticeably different in weight and heft than their SATA brethren.)

I struggled, I won. Connecting the drives was easy. I had to remove a capture card (mostly just a space filler) to make room for the raid card. This dropped in with no problems.

I turned her on and was immediately able to access the Raid BIOS. As I said before I had to kill off the old settings, demolish the mirrored array that was set up and create a new RAID 0 array. All told this took about 10 minutes. So far so good.

Not like Zaps with the fucking busted cable!! Click on the picture to see why the cable didn't work.

I kept my fingers crossed that the embedded drivers in XP would allow me to install without need for a floppy. Just to be clear I haven't willingly used a floppy since I was a freshman in college way back when. And with good reason!!!! How pathetic is this: In order to scrounge up a useable floppy I had to dig around and actually dug up one of my freshman papers. I'll post it later for a laugh.

Anyway, I rescued the disk and added the data cable for my unused and untested floppy drive when I hit a wall. There was no power! Worse as I examined my various modular power cables I could not find a mini-molex connector to save my life.

Drat! Needless to say I found a way around this hurdle by pulling the mini-molex out of Beebe, across into space and into the main case of Rorschach. I know its pretty ghetto but we does what we must.

So diskette in hand I was able to do my fresh install of XP with minimal difficulty. I had to restart once because I didn't set the boot order correctly in the BIOS but once done it was a snap. After that the total time between selecting the partition to install on and the first boot was only about 14 minutes.

Success! I was thrilled. Of course since I had chipped away at this on and off and had to pick up Alex I began the data transfer from the former system drive and went to bed. Sunday came and I was able to reinstall all the drivers, recover all my pics and music and generally return things to a state of normalcy once again.

And then. Benchmarking!!

So before I did the switchover I ran few HD benchmarks on HD tune for reference.

However I am starting to be a little skeptical about the first test because I have not been able to duplicate the access time. Anyway. Those are the benchies from the pre-SCSI setup.

Here are the SCSI ones.

Here's the more consistent 160 gig sata benchmark.
Basically, the Sata drive claims to have a much higher burst rate and and average data transfer rate of 60-70 mb/sec. The SCSI drive had a higher average minimum, maximum and average data transfer rate though the burst rate remained far below. Out of 6 trials only once did the SCSI burst rate break 100mb/sec.

So objectively, to use diablo terms, the SATA drive is lightning damage (IE a wide scope that ranges from really high to really low) and the SCSI setup is a more solid fire damage (average is higher but so are both ends of the spectrum)

Subjectively the system feels snappier and the install FLEW by compared to the original setup. While most of my work relates to online stuff I have noticed that transferring big chunks of data around on the hard drive seems to occur significantly faster. The biggest area of improvement is the virtual PC performance. Shutting down and starting these up goes by in about a third of the time (subjectively, I forgot to stopwatch it beforehand)

Closing thoughts: There is something to be said about character building exercises and this was one of those things. Quote me on that: SCSI builds character.

It's been such a long time...

I really need to get my own digital camera so I won't have my pc projects bottlenecked by the presence of wedding paraphenalia on nat's camera.


The good news is that I can post a few screenies of my hard drive bench marks as this weekend conclude the long, drawn out SCSI odyssey which began way back in January.

Once I can get the camera out to upload pics for the actual installation I will indeed but until then content yourself with the following.

For reference the two systems affected by the SCSI Odyssey are my main PC 'Rorschach' and the new only recently completed 'Zaps' Sadly HD TUNE will not recognize the system drive for Zaps to bench mark so no screenies will follow. Instead I will recount the unusual tale of how Zaps came together out of scraps.

Life came to this unique little box from a myriad of sources. The case and mobo were gathering dust in an attic, the RAM tucked neatly away near a burgeoning gunsafe and the CPU/Video card were altogether somewhere else.

So these parts were culled into a seemingly impressive system. Intel server board, 3.2 ghz P4 chip, 2 gigs ram, 128 mb agp card (admittedly weak but better than onboard) all tucked away nicely in a sleek black mid-tower case.

Now there was work to be done aplenty, some retro junk had to be pulled out, screws tightened, fans taken out entirely (the noise was awful) and after much scraping, tooling and cleaning Zaps was coming together nicely. The only problem is that windows would NOT install no matter what I did.

Like any enterprising IT guy I did the obvious. I installed Linux. Kubuntu to be exact, its all there in the last post (look across the months long void to find it) and so it slept happily as I explored the bouncier and bluer world of the KDE.

However not long ago after offloading a surplus pc for a tidy profit I decided to revisit that box and attempt to resolve. However after three different hard drives failed to accept a fresh copy of XP I decided to give up and just use Linux.

However, in a cruel twist of fate, this option no longer presented itself. For in my haste and greed the system had fallen to the wiles of time and my daunting linux box became an omni-amputee. Lamentations fell and scattered. All seemed lost.

And then, what luck! Upon the acquisition of some SCSI drives a la Chad and the Adaptec controller card I was able to finally score some cables and begin the odyssey.

What began proved the strangest twist of all. There was no room in Beebe, the main system was wrapped up with work use and I didn't want pc guts strung out all over my office (any more so than usual!) so I did what I had to do. I dusted off Zaps, slapped in the card, terminated my drives and set them gently inside their cages.

My intention was to play with the RAID setup so that it would be breezy once the time came to migrate to Rorschach. How I was disappointed to learn that raid would be unavailable. Now when faced with a crucial decision I opted to spend my profits from the recent sale to procure some decent hardware. Approximately 100 bucks on ebay afforded me the following.

5x Amphenol Ultra 320 SCSI cables (4 devices per cable, terminator block included) ~20bucks
3x 36 gigabyte Ultra 320 SCSI drives (all working, rails attached)~40 bucks
1x Adaptec Raid card (o and 1 only, but thats all I wanted) ~40bucks

Granted this crushed my profits over the sale but I felt that it would be worth it. Also it allows me to sell the extra cables (possibly) and as you'll discover to offload Zaps onto some lucky soul.

So going back to discovering that the adaptec card Dom gave me was just a controller card I attempted to install windows and IT WORKED!!

I could not believe it. The crazy thing is that I installed XP on a 160 gigabyte IDE drive and not either of the SCSI drives. What luck, I thought. It worked and if I could just do a burn in then I wouldn't have to worry.

Of course removing the two 73 gig SCSI drives crashed the system and no amount of coaxing or prodding would bring windows back. To quote Neal Stephenson: Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.

So the whole point of the ebay stuff was to acquire a working card for Rorscach and a dinky little drive to use with the original card so that Zaps could...zap stuff.

Once I went through the painfully tedious task of lowballing some bids for the necessary hardware setting up windows was pretty straightforward. There was a minor glitch because the raid card came with a 2 device cable. I tried unsuccessfully to use it with Zaps but nothing I did could get the drive to recognize. After a half hour of heart ache I made ready to chuck out the whole works when I noticed a potential source of failure. The two-device cable had a single wire broken off from the main strand.

Using a healthy cable instantly solved the first problem. After that the only real issue was fairly trivial. Drivers caused more issues than anything else. Once done XP installed and has gone through the 30 boot run and a few other torture tests (prime 95, 6 units of F@home)

So now my dead system is up and ready for resale once I find a willing bidder.

Pics to follow.