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the last 25 drops for scot hacker

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Note: This journal is no longer actively maintained. Please bookmark my MovableType weblog at instead.

tuesday, october 15th, 2002   ::   permafrost
10:22 am
shacker feed syndication
Thanks to grahams for pointing out that LJ now supports RDF feed syndication, and for setting up shacker2 as an LJ user. shacker2 automatically picks up and mirrors my MovableType blog. This means that LJ users can add shacker2 as a friend and read my birdhouse posts through their friends pages. Most righteous.
friday, september 27th, 2002   ::   permafrost
10:11 am
miles is born
(Cross-posting this here for anyone who didn't follow my journal over to

Amy Kubes and Scot Hacker are incredibly proud to announce the birth of a healthy baby boy -- Miles Gabriel Hacker touched down at 4:56 p.m. on Monday September 23, 2002. Mom had a super-fast (but also super-intense) labor and delivery, and is recovering well. Miles is doing what three-day olds do - eating and sleeping and pooping and reading underground comics.

Pictures from Miles' first 24 hours, and the hospital experience

Miles' birth story (all the details and fun bits)

Amy's pregnancy morph - weeks 13-40 in 56 seconds

An auspicious day to be born

Bookmark for updates.

Please leave comments at birdhouse, rather than here.

Love to all,
Scot, Amy, and Miles
wednesday, september 18th, 2002   ::   permafrost
10:23 pm
I am now very close to being able to post to MovableType and have an excerpt of my entry show up automatically on LJ. The cron business is all worked out* -- all that remains is to get the blagg author to work out a minor bug in his script. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, here is a poll I've created to tide you over until that time. Vote carefully - there is only one correct answer!

Poll #61318 fingers
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 15

How many fingers am I holding up?

View Answers
7 (46.7%)
2 (13.3%)
4 (26.7%)
1 (6.7%)
1 (6.7%)

* As suspected, the problem with the crontab was path-related. But all my attempts to hand the path to the cron entry, whether on the same line of the crontab or in a separate script run by the crontab, failed. I had been - duh - trying to pass it in with the $PATH environment variable. The problem is that cron is totally unaware of that particular var. The only solution was to echo my $PATH on the command line and hard-code it into the script being run by cron. I don't understand why this has never affected me before but does here - my only guess is that the perl scripts involved are calling external programs in ways that scripts I've cron'd in the past did not. I've never been so flummoxed by a crontab, quite agonizing. The question left hanging is, WHY would cron be so unaware of system basics like that?
tuesday, september 17th, 2002   ::   permafrost
10:34 am
crontab question
Trying to set up a system that will cause all my Movable Type posts to be mirrored here on LJ for friends lists. Have everything working from the command line just fine, but it just won't work from the crontab no matter what I do.

So. What are the factors that can contribute to a crontab not running a command or script that works fine from the CLI?

* * * * * /bin/sh /Users/shacker/bin/

- Full paths to everything involved are in
- Full permissions to everything involved
- Running it once a minute for testing purposes
- syslog shows nothing abnormal, says that it ran fine. But it doesn't.

What else is there to worry about?
thursday, september 12th, 2002   ::   permafrost
11:31 pm
moving on
After almost two years (whoa!) on LiveJournal, I've decided to switch to a MovableType blog. I have weird feelings about pulling away from the fantastic LJ community, but the more time I spend with MT at work, the more I find myself wanting to take advantage of its features and etc. The fact that I was able to find a script to convert LJ XML backups into MT database (supports Berkeley DB or MySQL) was the final push.

This move coalesces with something else I've been meaning to deal with for a long time - do something about I've barely touched the domain for years. I keep it around at this point because of its historical position and for the email address. It was one of the first arts sites on the web (launched 1994, in the Mosaic / Cello days). A lot of it looks dated and feels embarassing today, but was pioneering at the time (the very first animated GIF artwork I know of was first posted there, same with the first exploration of framesets for art, and some very early Java art.

So for a long time I've wanted to take the domain down or reconstruct it because its just not what I'm doing these days and doesn't reflect me any more, but felt I couldn't because of its historical signficance. So the idea here is to redirect the main entrance to this new blog (soon) and link to the rest of birdhouse as an historical archive. It's kind of sad, but it's time. This way I'll get it out of the main view, but not break any of the incoming links (the site still does some pretty big traffic), and for the first time in years, there will be fresh content there.

Since I can use it to set up as many blogs as I want, I can use it to host blogs for birdhouse artists, friends, and family, etc. So the space may grow, we'll see.

I've always felt weird about having all my journal data hosted on someone else's server. And the more I look into RSS/RDF, the more I realize how important it's going to be - reading news via NetNewsWire over the past few days has been an eye-opener - RDF syndication is going to have a profound effect on the Internet. It's like having an LJ friends page, but Internet-wide. I can even pick up LJ RSS feeds through NNW. MT does dozens of things LJ doesn't do. I will miss the custom posting client and automatic music detection though. And the community most of all.

So I'm moving on from two things at once here -- two years of LJ and eight years of birdhouse. Very mixed feelings, but it's time.

So pick up my new blog in your aggregator (feed), stay in touch, and all that blah blah.

Love to all.
wednesday, september 11th, 2002   ::   permafrost
12:49 am
The Large Hot Pipe Organ is the world's only MIDI controlled, propane powered explosion organ. The LHPO's pyro-acoustic explodo-rhythmations will throbbatize your earholes and dance-ify your booty and make you realize what "Industrial Music REALLY means! ."

Get one of the MP3s playing and look through the picture galleries, or watch one of the movies. When is this coming to my town?
tuesday, september 10th, 2002   ::   permafrost
11:57 pm
ical, amphetadesk
Fairly impressed with the first release of iCal, but disappointed that you can't publish to a single calendar from more than one location. I would have expected a calendar to be attached to a single .mac account - instead it's attached to the computer you're on. That means you have to, say, publish your work calendar from work and subscribe to it from home, and vice versa. Amy and I are both publishing our own calendars and subscribing to each other's even though we'd rather just have a shared calendar (you can't edit a subscribed calendar). This is a possible disappointment for landwater, who I want to move off phpWebCal and onto iCal. I would expect Apple to figure out that this is badly designed for groups soon.

Now setting up for the next big J-School webcast, this time a week long panel on Food and the Environment. Will take place while I'm probably out for paternity leave, so teaching students to run the whole thing. This time will be using Apple's free broadcast software under OS X, rather than the pricier stuff we used under OS 9 last time around.

I'm becoming addicted to AmphetaDesk, but am open to suggestions on better RSS aggregators (besides Radio).
9:53 am
sherlock lies
Why does Sherlock include a button called "Yellow Pages" when this component actually functions like a white pages? If you type in "diaper," it will find all diaper services in your area with "diaper" in their names, but none that don't. In other words, it searches by business name, not by business category.

Ack packet via arakasi: Pill earrings for that special laaaa-deeeee....

Oh lord, those kittens (turn it up!)
monday, september 9th, 2002   ::   permafrost
10:41 pm
green hillbillies
Funny, I never figured out as a kid that Green Acres and The Beverly Hillbillies were inside out mirror images of each other -- rich folks move in with the country hicks, country hicks move to the posh hillsides. And how did I finally figure it out? From reading in the paper today that two new reality shows this season are going to make those two shows "real." Save us.

Amy and I just digested all of season 3 of The Sopranos on DVD, in the course of two weeks. Not as violent as season 2, more character driven, but no less enthralling. Will 6 Feet Under make it to DVD I wonder?
10:38 pm
landwater conversion
No weekend. Spent almost every waking hour at landwater doing the Mac conversion. No matter what, you can never plan for all the unforseen details that come up in a job like this. Estimated 12 hours, put in almost 30, plus six more this afternoon. Machines that attach themselves mysteriously to the wrong DHCP server and drop off the network. Misplaced router password. PCL printer without Mac compatibility, which had to be replaced (gimp-print got us almost, but not quite there). What do about the fact that Office X doesn't ship with a WordPerfect converter while they still have a lot of old WP docs around? Envelope printing is misaligned, why? Why won't this AirPort base station let me configure it? Why isn't this shell script (backup) running via crontab? (Mac vs. Unix line endings).

And so on, and so on, and so on. It's always that way, always a million unforseen details. And then there's training. And documentation. And figuring out a replacement for myself in case Amy goes into labor during the conversion. And etc. We're mostly squared away now, just a few more bits and pieces. iChat is turning out to be a really great remote support tool, who woulda thunk.
friday, september 6th, 2002   ::   permafrost
2:25 pm
real ultimate power
C|Net reports on the rise of drive-by spam, wherein spammers drive up to an unprotected, Wi-Fi equipped building and join the company LAN. To the system, they're now a legit user of the company network, so they can use the SMTP server without hindrance, and send out 10 million spams. Unprotected Wi-Fi networks won't last long.

Who among us doesn't want to obtain Real Ultimate Power?

Some interesting etymological diversions.
1:34 am
Dinner and music with my date baald, then off to the Starry Plough with him and Roger to see The Mekons, still Mekons after 25 years, without fading and then re-appearing, or having to "get the band back together" or any of that nonsense, they've just always been, though I had never seen them .... raising the question, "What if Donovan and the Clash fell in love and got married and had a baby, would it be The Mekons?" ... Which raises the question, "What year will it be when you flip to the oldies station on the radio and hear punk rock?" And so a very worth-it night, shredding raw guitar with violin and accordion, sense of humor and also some shredding raw politics. Sally Tims, she has a strange allure.
thursday, september 5th, 2002   ::   permafrost
8:41 pm
imminence front
... and as I prattle on about irrational consumption and web technologies, Amy inches ever closer toward the big day. Sept. 17 is the "official" date, but she's full-term as of a few days ago - the baby could come at any time and be perfectly healthy.


We've scrambled the past few months to get everything in order - baby room put together, crib bought and built, little dresser, diaper service lined up, bottles and ointments and onesies and smoke alarm and all the million little details. Eight weeks of birthing classes and heads filled with a thousand factoids. Breathing practice and birth plan written and ready...

But it's all just logistics, nothing more. I don't feel ready. I don't know if you can ever be ready. It's all just a gigantic question mark. So many expectations, and yet no expectations. I lay awake at night wondering, a bit freaked out. Everyone warns us to get our sleep while we can, but I'm having trouble sleeping. There's too much big stuff around the corner.

Amy had her last day at work yesterday. She's now officially a stay-at-home mom. And yesterday she said that her lower spine felt wiggly, which made me remember something from our class - in the last few days or weeks, prostaglandin starts to flow into the bones and joints, softening them, and loosening the joints. A jelly-like feeling is common just before birth. We're almost there. Almost there. Any day now I'm going to get a call at work and that's going to be it. And everything changes.
wednesday, september 4th, 2002   ::   permafrost
8:46 pm
fake ticket
My post Live Larger, Drive Smaller from a few days ago has drawn some very thoughtful responses. An anonymous interlocutor charges me with inexcusable vandalism for advocating the bumper sticker idea, and I answer flippantly that SUV ownership is a far more destructive form of vandalism; the stickers are easily justified. However, s/he has a point that vandalism is vandalism and that two wrongs don't make a right.

arakasi makes the point that a discussion with the SUV-owning neighbor would be more fruitful than a bumper sticker, and he's probably right -- if it didn't turn into an argument.

But who's got the cojones to face what would probably turn out to be an ugly confrontation and one-way passport to a bad relationship with your neighbor? So maybe this fake ticket (PDF) you can put under someone's windshield is a better solution. It conveys the anti-SUV argument much more cogently than the bumper sticker, does a better job of making the recipient think, and is non-vandalistic.

I find myself becoming more vehemently anti-car with every passing day. In part, I'm sure it's because I see the way car drivers treat bicyclists every day, like they don't exist and don't matter -- a car will pull out in front of a bike without a 2nd glance just because they can, because we're not big enough to run them down. It's astounding. I find myself resenting cars for destroying the flow of the world, for clogging everything, everywhere. It's a bit of an overly emotional reaction, I know, but it's how I feel -- that cars are one of our culture's greatest problems, and I feel frustrated that there seems to be so little recognition of this fact, which seems plain and obvious. Just look around - cars own almost everything you see outdoors in the city.

I used to feel like over-population was the single largest threat to humanity, and that all of our other problems flow from overpopulation. I no longer feel quite that black and white about it - overconsumption and disregard for the shared property of the environment easily contribute as much toward our trajectory down the destructive spiral. Population issues are magnified and exacerbated by irrational consumption.

Switching from a car to an SUV for one year wastes as much energy as leaving your refrigerator door open for six years. As Americans / Westerners, we all consume much more than people in the 2nd and 3rd worlds, and Americans consume much more than Europeans. But what steams me the most is totally avoidable consumption - people who accept bags at the store even when they buy only a few items, people who don't recycle, people who own SUVs without justification, people who drive when their destination is less than a few miles and they don't have kids or other things to haul... so much consumption is irrational and totally avoidable.


Dutch archaeologists are uncovering many of the objects seen in Heironymus Bosch's surreal art.
tuesday, september 3rd, 2002   ::   permafrost
9:38 pm
Seems that permalinks are 'pert near a standard feature in every blogging system but LJ. Part of the reason for that is that LJ is day-based rather than post-based, so you can't have a permalink attached to each post. But you can hack in a link to your day pages fairly easily.
9:55 am
wooly mammoths on the comeback
CNN reports that a wildlife park in Siberia is planning to use DNA from wooly mammoths to artificially impregnate an Indian elephant, then repeat with its offspring. Within 50 years, they plan to have a living creature that is 88% wooly mammoth. There are estimated to be 10 million wooly mammoths buried beneath the Siberian permafrost.

Seems like everyone we know is on the brink of going into labor, and yesterday TLC was showing back-to-back labor and delivery and maternity ward shows, so we had a big old labor BBQ yesterday - couple dozen friends, grill full of rocky range chicken legs and free range quarter pounders, great weather, little Lila on the brink of full-fledged speech... very fun.

Broke down and replaced the wimpy, underpowered weed eater our (otherwise great) landlord left us to use - got frustrated halfway through the job yesterday and trotted down to Home Depot for a Black and Decker Grass Hog. Holy mother of pearl, that thing can rip through anything. Patch of grass that used to take 10 minutes now takes less than a minute. Wonder how much time I've wasted with the cheap trimmer over the past few years. Friends, let this be a lesson : don't skimp on the weed whacker!
monday, september 2nd, 2002   ::   permafrost
12:59 am
capiz shell console
A few weeks ago, went down to Morro Bay to pick up a 1950s capiz shell stereo console / cabinet I inherited from my grandmother, who recently went to live in a home. Forgot to write about that trip - went via Amtrak, enjoyable but slow, and also picked up a nursing rocker from my mother - her favorite one, she's sacrificing for the baba, so sweet. The console originally belonged to my dad, who bought it before he was married. I've always loved it, was fascinated by the shells as a child, and it was an honor to be asked to take it over. I also wanted to get all my stereo gear out of reach of the baba, and to (finally) get all of my records out of tacky wooden crates.

The built-in speakers sound pretty bad, not worth saving, wanted to use the cabinets to store LPs, so yesterday started ripping the old speakers out. Like opening King Tut's tomb - cracked open the wood and the "Hi Fi" lettering hit me square on from gold foil stickers. "Roger Charles III, Custom Construction."

(Click for larger)

The speakers hadn't seen the light of day for 50 years, and were perfectly preserved. What really amazed me was that the wood inside the cabinets was finished to a polish just like the outside, even though it was never meant to be seen by anyone. They don't do things like that anymore.

Also had to remove the turntable from the center section (not original), then scour all - starting to smell musty. Let the whole thing dry in the sun all day today - hot. This afternoon, extra long bike ride through Oakland hills, then came back to finish the job as the sun set.

(Click for larger)

The inside height of the cabinets was 24.5", barely enough room for two layers of LPs, so will have to use a plexiglass separator between layers rather than real shelf, as planned. Also didn't count on the fact that two of my components have rack mount face plates, which makes them too wide for the center area. They had to go on top for now - will probably just run them faceless eventually and put all inside. Also had to take one of the speakers off its stand and put on top of the console, which sucks, since it'll send vibrations right into the turntable. Argh. Only one solution - buy a house. But no room to do it any other way for now.

(Click for larger)

My grandfather cracked the marble in the 60s by dropping a hammer on it after hanging a picture. Shame about that. Anyway, this looks so much better than it did with the wooden crates and all the components all over the damn place. Amy's psyched about it too, and it's one tiny corner of the house that's now partially childproofed - just need some of those inside-door latches.

Also this weekend : chewed up more than half of yesterday fixing a stupid stuck roller railing on the drawer beneath the crib. Wrestling with pliers and hammer to straighten it out, then off to hardware store to just replace it, then to two other stores to find the right part, returning to find the replacement didn't fit properly and hacking it into place, finally finding that the hack worked perfectly... drawer glides, but there goes Saturday. Also got plexi for picture frames for baby's room, took forever to get help at OSH, finally found someone totally incompetent, who grunted one word answers to everything, wanted to cut everything an inch too long or too short, pants around the knees (I DETEST that look), a life of total apathy, the process took forever and a day, finally got home to find both pieces miscut, now need to go back... lame-ass employees, litterbugs, and apathy get me so steamed, and I see it everywhere, the care structure of the world dissolving before our eyes.

Got Roger and Paula's iMac all set up today, they're using the multi-user capabilities the way they're meant to be used, both of them very excited, and gotta say, I was too.

saturday, august 31st, 2002   ::   permafrost
10:19 am
So everything has arrived from Apple for the big landwater changeover - 2 iMacs, AirPort cards, Office X boxes, external FireWire Orb drive, Quicken, AppleCare packets, StudioDisplay. The dual G4 is in shipment now.

That means the only piece that hasn't shipped is the AirPort base station. I just found a box under the chair in the living room that looked like it might be the right size.

Me to wife: "What's in this box under the chair?"

Wife to me: "That antique human skull we were going to give to Mike."

Me to wife: "I wonder if I could substitute it for an AirPort base station."
friday, august 30th, 2002   ::   permafrost
8:52 am
live larger, drive smaller
Cat amusement by laser has been patented since 1995 (thanks baald).

I'm changing the planet, ask me how! (thanks mrgrape).

Which reminds me, I heard on Click and Clack (The Tappet Brothers) last Sunday that they're running an anti-SUV info campaign. I respect that they have the cajones to take a stand from their position of respect and authority and media prominence. Way too rare. What rocks even more is that rather than just pointing to problems, they're suggesting genuine, practical alternatives.

I really love Mozilla 1.1 and switched to it as a default browser the other day. But no matter what I do, it won't seem to remember that I'm logged into LiveJournal, which makes commenting on other journals a big pain. It drops cookies all over the place. This is almost but not quite a showstopper. Next morning... scratch that, just switched back to IE. One more rev and Mozilla should be there. I like a lot of other things about it - tabbed browsing is wonderful once you get the hang of it.
thursday, august 29th, 2002   ::   permafrost
9:42 am
itunes needs ogg
Caught this at /. yesterday : Fraunhoffer and co. have always charged for MP3 encoders, but have now changed their licensing terms so that MP3 decoders will now cost implementers .75 each. Red Hat has already pulled all MP3 decoders from their distro. This is going to be a big boost to Ogg-Vorbis. But does iTunes support OGG? Nooo... I suggest that people who care about this drop a note to Apple letting them know you want OGG support in iTunes.

Emmett Plant of the Ogg-Vorbis team has written a letter to Fraunhoffer thanking them for boosting the Ogg technology's chances of wider adoption.

And what can we learn from this? Nets made by spiders fed on drug-dosed flies
wednesday, august 28th, 2002   ::   permafrost
12:27 pm
jedi ozzies
Australians skew census by naming Jedi as their religion. has posted a rumor that Apple may be working on their own Rendezvous-based MP3 home stereo device. If this turns out to be true, I may be glad I didn't pounce on the SliMP3 a while ago.

ORA blog: Choosing the Right Blogging Package for Students
tuesday, august 27th, 2002   ::   permafrost
12:02 am
What is it about the word "kernel" that tempts people to spell it "kernal?" This seems to be one of the most commonly misspelled words I've seen in the past few years. It's so common in fact that sometimes it seems like it's misspelled more often than it's spelled correctly. But why just this word? Why isn't "computor" also a common misspelling, or "memary" or "motherbored" or anything else? Why just "kernal?"


A P.S. to a piece of old email I just happened on:

BTW, the Command, clover, or splat key was originally called the "feature" key. The symbol is used on European maps to denote features, except in Finland where it means "campground".
monday, august 26th, 2002   ::   permafrost
9:58 am
monterey, santa cruz
Amy and I took a weekend off, decided to have a fling before the baba comes, spent the weekend at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and in Santa Cruz. Some pix:

Needed a weekend like that so badly. Felt fantastic to wake up and just chill, nothing particular to do, nowhere in particular to go. Still, we crammed in a lot of activity, but nothing felt rushed, like everything has for the past six months.


Also: Thank you for supporting global terrorism
saturday, august 24th, 2002   ::   permafrost
12:28 am
Since about the day the web stood still I've been hooked up with Mal through antiweb, a ragtag group of developers and artists, a mailing list which had become my personal proof that online friends could become real friends even without meeting them in meatspace. Sort of my livejournal from before there were blogs. In fact, one of our projects, posi-web, was sort of an art-blogging system, but more infrequently updated. antiweb was Mal's brainchild and came about through his generosity, and he's probably had a more catalyzing influence in my life than he knows, although I know he knows that people's journeys tend to coalesce around him in unpredictable ways. Anyway, welcome malium to LiveJournal. Read him well.

You always know when it's fund-raising time on public television because all you see is Joseph Campbell's "Power of Myth" and Simon and Garfunkel's Concert in Central Park for about a week running.

Occassionally one finds a really fine use of Flash. And speaking of which, is the creation of another antiweb person. Easter eggs.

It's lame to scoop ice cream with a tea-spoon that bends backwards. Everyone should have a proper ice cream scoop.

How many planets does your present lifestyle require?
friday, august 23rd, 2002   ::   permafrost
12:04 pm
rocky horror
Tried to go to bed early last night, but Rocky Horror Picture Show was on TV, and it had been ages since I'd seen it. Watched it / did it about 10 times in the late 70s/ early 80s, and used to listen to the soundtrack all the time. Funny how I remember the lyrics to all those songs even though I haven't heard them for 15 years or so. The things we keep in our heads without using...

Dammit, Janet, I love you!


Had some credit at Amoeba and recently came home with White Stripes, Hives, Vines, and, what the hell, some Richard Hell and the Voidoids. Guess which one totally eclipses the others? Always return to the roots, always return.


Weird to see Be's name in the news after all this time.

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