Monthly Archives: August 2007

A major award!

Okay, not an award so much as a door prize, but still pretty cool. I’m the winner in a drawing I didn’t even know I was part of, and no, this wasn’t even a spam!

Hey Teri!

You are the winner of the latest DVD contest! Congratulations on winning the
cool horror movie, “Shadows of the Dead“! Look for it in the mail soon!

Thanks for being part of Goth Help Us and thanks for the support.

Have a blessed day,
Rebecca Hohm
GHU CEO & Founder

Goth Help Us is an organization dedicated to “Serving humanity from the underground up“: doing charity and volunteer work while trying to get rid of some of the negative stereotypes that most people seem to have about goths (e.g., that we are all depressed or suicidal, or that we like nothing more than to bring guns to school). In addition to the main international group, they also have regional chapters, a Street Team, and an Environmental activism division.

I signed up with them after learning of their existence back in June. Since then, I haven’t done much with them other than offer any long distance technological services I can provide (programming; support; collecting donated PCs, configuring them and mailing them where they are needed; etc.) and trying to get the word out about them and their related organizations on MySpace. The closest chapters to me are in NYC and Buffalo, so I can’t really do much else, unfortunately (though I do plan on donating money in their name from now on, as that also has the added benefit of keeping me off the radar of the hyper-annoying Red Cross).

Humans all look mostly the same.

I’ve always had problems recognizing people unless they have some really distinguishing characteristics (like being 12 feet tall, or 60 pounds, or having green hair) or I know them very well; especially if I see them in a different context than how I normally see them.

So it’s really no surprise to me that I did so poorly on this test that I found linked on Neatorama:

Out of 72 faces, you correctly identified 40.
In other words, you got 56% correct.

On our previous version of this test, the average person with normal face recognition was able to recognize about 80% of the faces. If you correctly identified less than 65% of the faces, this may indicate face recognition difficulties.

This test was really incredibly hard for me. I think I did well on the first section, but for the second section I was guessing on all the questions for all but two faces (that for some reason stood out to me) and on the third section I was guessing for all the faces. The thing with there being a 33% chance of guessing right is, there’s a pretty big margin for error. I think the results would be more interesting if they had a fourth option for “I don’t know”, just to cut back on the lucky hits.

Anyway, I know other people, particularly Marty, who seem to have a harder time with this stuff than I do (although, there is at least one person in Ithaca whom I should know but never recognize, and Marty always has to point them out to me when they are nearby, so maybe he’s exaggerating his difficulty with this stuff).

I find it ironic that I saw this test tonight, as just last night I was talking to someone at the meetup about face blindness, which he had confused with lack of depth perception. For all I know, the two could be related under certain circumstances (which could, I suppose, explain some of my problem) but I am pretty sure that most people who consider themselves face blind have perfectly functioning binocular vision (note: I have no evidence to support this theory).

On a related note, I found this site a few months back (also on Neatorama), which tries to explain facial recognition difficulties to someone who has none, by relating the differences in faces to the differences in stones. Sure, some stand out quite a bit on account of some distinctive features, but unless your brain is wired to take in the thing as a whole and note all the minuscule differences it may be very hard to tell one from another. And that’s pretty much exactly the way I feel when I meet a bunch of new people, or when I was taking this test.

Xfce4 is the prettiest piece of crap ever!

I use Xfce4, and I hate it. I used to use Fluxbox, which I liked quite a bit, but then I found out that Xfce was purportedly just as fast, nearly as stable, and full of much more eye-candy.

Being the superficial Teri that I am, I was intrigued.

So, several months ago, I started playing with Xfce. Problems abounded, including:

  • Every few days my computer does a massive processor and disk intensive backup process. Every time this process completes, Xfce becomes retarded: no items in the menu will illicit any reaction at all, save for the ‘Quit’ item, which pops up a “file not found; memory not allocated” error. Running the file it claims to have not found from the command line (‘xfce4-session-logout’) works just fine.
  • The compositor, while beautiful, has made my framerate in WoW terrible. I used to have all the graphical settings maxed out with a completely reasonable framerate; now I have all the graphical settings minned out with a mostly reasonable framerate. But as I do other stuff on my computer more often than I play WoW (yes, truly!), the eye candy has still generated a surplus of happiness, so I keep it (though I do like to complain).
  • On a similar note, I used to be able to switch virtual desktops without fear in and out of WoW when I used Fluxbox. Now, however, checking Thottbot or surfing the web while rebuilding my Auctioneer database is always a risk. Periodically I try to switch back to WoW only to have the game refuse to show anything other than a black screen, or to have 3D acceleration seem to completely disappear, causing my entire computer to freak out until I manage to kill WoW and restart X.

Today, Xfce managed to piss me off more than usual. I updated Crossover Linux (which I use at work to test pages in IE on my Linux box) with the provided .deb and it decided it was a wonderful idea to replace my user menu with the new system default menu.

For those of you that don’t know, editing the xfce menu is a major ordeal. The interface to do so, while not difficult, is slow and tedious, and while it is theoretically possible to edit the menu.xml file by hand, it seems rather fragile and even more tedious than the terrible interface they have. (As an aside, the fluxbox menu file format is wonderful. I don’t know why people insist on using XML for everything when a normal text file will often suffice.)

During my googling into this terrible (for me, in my melodramatic computer-centric world) event, I found that the Xfce developers, in their infinite wisdom, decided that this wasn’t even a bug, or at least, that it wasn’t a bug that they will fix. Even that would have been fine, assuming that the offending update-menus command will run rarely and only with user prompting. But as that clearly isn’t always going to be the case, the very least they could have done is to have it do a cp menu.xml menu.xml.old before commencing to overwrite menu.xml. In that case, a user would have to run update-menus twice before losing data (which, while still possible to unknowingly do, is much less likely).

So, what have I learned from all this? Whenever I have to use some terrible interface in a painstaking process I do not wish to repeat, save the end results someplace safe. A cron job to cp menu.xml menu.xml.old once a week would have been a good thing to have last week.

Luckily, neops1 has a mostly similar menu file, so I won’t have to recreate everything, just the work and syncing menu items specific to this computer.

Unluckily, that computer is still behind the terrible network connection that until earlier this week my website was also behind. Hence, that file may as well not exist, for all the good it does me at this moment.

Highlander: the Source

Wow, this trailer makes Highlander: the Source look like it will be a terrible movie. Of course, that probably means I will like it all the more because I really quite enjoyed Highlander in my day, and I have always been a big fan of terrible B movies.

Anyway, check it out for a laff, if you are into that sort of thing. There are crummy monster effects with bad guys who speak in deep voices and say faux profound or mocking things, like a bad imitation of Hellraiser. Also, bullet-time!

I’ve seen all the Highlander movies, save for Endgame (I really enjoyed the anime movie with it’s Bloodlust-like animation), and the entire TV series, save for the last season. Maybe I should catch up on the material I’ve missed in order to prep myself for this terrible, terrible movie. I recognize several of the characters in the trailer from the TV series (I think)- it would probably be best to go into this monstrosity better knowing who they are beforehand, because somehow I doubt this will be big on useful exposition.

Via Skullring

The quotable me

Decaffeinated coffee is like dehydrated water
— me

I bet that’s been said before, but as far as I know, I just made it up.

UNG !geborken

Comments are not currently working in my installation of UNG. I’m aware of the problem, and as I’m the only active developer on the project, I’m working on fixing it. No worries.

As I see it, the problem likely comes from Dreamhost running PHP as a cgi and previously all my development and testing being with mod_php. Either that, or it’s a problem with the way I’m integrating WordPress into my site layout.

The symptom is that even though I’m setting the MySQL database with mysql_select_db(), it’s still trying to use the WordPress database. Setting the $link_identifier helps, but only sometimes.

Anyway, I’m working on it. There will be a new version of UNG once I fix it.

It’s fixed, so far as I can tell. Check it out, if you care.

Site move, changes

If you can read this, you are viewing my site at its new home on DreamHost‘s servers. Congratulations!

I debated switching my site off the server in my basement for a long time before finally getting fed up and doing it. The reliability was terrible, of course, but at least I was certain that things were relatively secure (as I was the one securing them). I know DreamHost has had their own security issues, but overall I don’t think the risk is too bad. Besides, knowing about the cleartext password thing doesn’t make it better, but at least I can plan around it to minimize my own risk.

In the end, I decided to go with DreamHost because despite their flaws, they seem like a genuinely cool company. They are employee-owned, green, run Linux, offer shell access, allow user configuration of .spamassassin and .procmail files (so my mail continues as always), have better service (from what I can tell) than other hosting companies I’ve been with, and are pretty inexpensive to boot.

So yeah, I guess we’ll see how this goes.

In related news, during the moving process I switched my blog from PSG (which I am a developer of), to WordPress (which I am not). I’ve been debating this for a while now, since being forced to play with WordPress at work, and all the community-supported and developed plugins and other eye-candies finally cinched it for me. I feel bad, and hope that I’ll still hack on PSG from time to time, but honestly don’t think that will happen too much. No need, and all, y’know?

Here’s the export script I used to get all my posts out of PSG. It’s highly tailored to my own needs, but as it’s conceivable that someone else will one day find a use for it, I’m keeping it available. I’d say, “Enjoy!”, but then I’d feel even more guilty, for not only dumping PSG on my own site but helping others do it, too.

So, poke around, look at the changes, and let me know what you think! Especially let me know of any bugs you find.

I am sooooo not cute right now! Gahd!

Via Cute Overload, another installment in my doubleplusuncute exercise: exhibiting other people’s broken aesthetics. (As opposed to my broken aesthetics, which I parade in every other post on this site. :) )

Squishy kitty

Look at all of the hideous goop leaking out of the poor things face, staining its fur! It’s like someone stepped on its head whilst wearing combat boots.

It wasn’t me, I swear!

Or maybe it’s just crying on account of being bred to have a deformed face, dooming it to a life of persistent health difficulties.

“Beauty and the beast”, or, “Hideous, but buoyant!”

Via ectomo, a strange photographic timeline of one woman’s evolution into a repulsive doll-beast that human males apparently find attractive.

beauty and the beast

Truly, this is one nightmare that Brownlee and I share: a pixie-headed girleen, gracile of limb and sleek of shape, decides to undergo a series of twenty surgeries that turn her into a putty-colored, basketball-breasted, fish-lipped hag.

The infinite tragedy of such a decision, undoubtedly backed with heaping doses of body dysmorphia, depression, and just plain bad taste, is that her career didn’t take off until she did it.

I wish broken aesthetic glands were easier to ignore.

In a similar vein, the realization that the hideous turkey-flesh that the yellow hurty thing in the sky turned the skin on my left arm into during my long drive back from Blacksun this Monday is something that certain humans do to themselves on purpose both saddens and sickens me.

Blacksun Festival III

This weekend Peter and I went over to New Haven, CT for Blacksun Festival. I have lots of pictures, many of which involve me being wrangled into modeling (I showed up to photograph, and to meet people, but at first no models showed up and I was the best they had).

Overall the convention was a ton of fun. I’m already looking forward to going to next year’s! New Haven is a great city, and after visiting it I can see why they chose it as the annual Blacksun location. Never have I seen so much beautiful neo-gothic architecture as on the Yale campus. It really makes me feel like a second class citizen for being affiliated with ugly old Cornell. Over the course of the weekend I had to continually charge my camera, and by the end I had completely filled my memory card (one of the reasons I skipped the cemetery this year :( ). Also, New Haven is home to the lovely Variant 13 shop, where I found several pleasant accoutrements and developed a bit of disdain for Ithaca’s Evolution 102, which is the closest thing we have to such a shop locally. Though I admit it IS nice to have a local place to buy stripey tights and fishnets year round, now that I’ve seen how great alternative fashion stores can be, I’ll never be able to look back. Luckily, Variant 13 also has an online store, though it’s really not the same, is it?

The performers were great, for the most part. Voltaire and Anders Manga were as entertaining as I expected, and I was pleasantly surprised by Gothminister, The Birthday Massacre, Decoded Feedback and The Gothsicles (despite any technical difficulties they suffered). Though the performers were mostly of the “00ntZ, 00ntZ”, metal, or projekt varieties, the DJs did a pretty good job of spinning a variety of stuff between sets; especially on Sunday night when quite a bit of old school gothic rock was played.

Throughout the course of the weekend they really packed in all the events very tightly- we were always running from one thing to the next, and sometimes had to choose between events, or between events and necessities (like food or sleep). For instance, I only got a chance to check out one of the panels (“Promotion in the age of the subgenre”), before having to run over to Projektfest (the panel was amazingly insightful, btw, and I think I might have retained some information that the local promoters up in Syracuse might find useful).

My main problem with the convention is that parts of it seemed to either be poorly planned or forgotten about. The photo sessions, for instance, were listed in the schedule as meeting in one place, but in the program description as meeting in an entirely different place. And the art show and survivor’s breakfast both started late and found a handful of us standing around in the diner looking confused. Even worse, the picnic was a complete no-show; plenty of goths showed up, but with no one to lead or organize us (or to provide us with the promised music, kites, or frisbees!) we started to disperse after about a half hour of waiting. As we milled about, one goth lamented, “This is just like the mall, only everyone is older and can drive,” which I thought was wonderfully ironically apropos.

Still, as a mostly volunteer event still going through growing pains, I think everything went over pretty smoothly. Better than I could do, certainly! And the really important stuff- the musical performances and such, seemed to go on without major or enduring issue.

In the future, I think the convention would benefit from more hands-on stuff; panels and workshops and the like. I don’t really have an easy time meeting new people, and all of the people I met at Blacksun were either through a friend from college I randomly met there (probably not that random actually, we seem to run into each other out of the blue every few years), or at the photo safari and survivor’s breakfast. That left a whole lot of other convention with Peter and I feeling a bit lonely, but hopefully next year we’ll be less so- I really want to head over there with a whole contingent of people!