Stupid computers.

I spent a solid four days trying to upgrade the kiosks from Red Hat 9 + LTSP 4.3 (vintage 2003) to... something newer. In this case, Ubuntu 7.10 + LTSP 5, since it seems like that's what the cool kids are running these days. Why would I do such a thing? Well, one reason is that the Firefox 3 beta would neither install nor compile on RH9 (missing libraries), and another was that the kiosks are a little crashy (they reboot themselves pretty regularly for no adequately explored reason), and also, it's "just kinda old", which some people will tell you might mean, maybe, kinda, less secure. So I figured I'd give it a shot.

Well, since this is not my first rodeo, when I say "upgrade" what I really mean is "do a fresh install on a spare drive."

So, after four days of this nonsense, I gave up, and just put the old drive back in. "Nonsense" in this case is defined as: the upgrade made the machines be even crashier than before (they can barely stay up for an hour) and it's a far worse kind of crashy: it's the kind of crashy where you have to press the shiny red button to make them come back to life, instead of them being able to do that themselves.

So, fuck it. They'll be running a 2003 version of Linux forever, because I frankly have better things to do with my time (what, do you think this television is going to watch itself?)

To paraphrase Homer Simpson, "Let that be a lesson to you, son: never upgrade."

10-Mar-2008 (Mon)
Wherein I plug the absinthe.

After being banned for most of a century, there are some varieties of absinthe that are again legal in the US, so we now have an absinthe bar! Come give it a try.

The new bar is under the main stairs, and open most nights. We have a few varieties of absinthe, and also use that bar to stock the various other strange and higher-end liquors that we occasionally get in.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that there are photo galleries up now of the Informatik show and Dirty party last month.





Photos! We got photos.

Since it was the Hubba Hubba spy show, we got matching jumpsuits made for most of the staff and crew. The awesome thing about them, which unfortunately doesn't show up in the photos, is that they all had this image stenciled on the back:

VOLCANO FORTRESS
LOCAL 404
"Your 1st Choice in Henching!"

Now if only my minions could manage to get my hover-hive off the ground...

Also, our kitchen menu has changed slightly. Check it out. We've also been trying something new: we've been running food specials at the bar, so you can get certain items from the bartenders instead of having to go up to the kitchen window.

Every few years, I read another article about solar power, and how there's been some new technological breathrough in efficiency, or some new incentive program, and soon all the buildings will have solar panels on their roofs and everything will be sweetness and light. Well, a few times now, we've actually investigated installing solar at DNA, and each time it has gone exactly like it went this last time. It's pretty comical, so I'll share it with you now. We've had this same exact conversation three times over the last eight years:

    We contact someone who has a business installing solar panels. We tell them, "It would be nice if we could do this for emotional or environmental reasons, but environmental reasons don't pay the bills, so we're not doing it for that reason. We're only going to do this if it saves us money."

    They say, "Oh, it will totally save you money! Since you use power at night, you'll be feeding power into the grid during the day, and buying it back more cheaply off-peak! It makes so much sense for you. It's like you're the optimal case. Now, if you'll just write me a check for $20,000..."

    "Whoa, hold up there, Sparky. How does me writing you a check for $20k save me money?", I ask.

    "Well, it will pay for itself in only 20 to 25 years! Then you'll be totally in the black."

    "Wow, you must be an investment banker, with a pitch like that."

    "Oh, and also there are all these rebates and incentive programs. The Government will pay you to install the system! Also, you can do an operating lease with no money up front, or a Power Purchase Agreement, or this, or that, and it doesn't cost a thing!"

    "Zero? Zero sounds great! Get back to us with some options."

    "Ok, so the installation will cost $100,000 before incentives, and after the tax credit and five years of depreciation, the hardware only ends up costing you $13,000!"

    "Is yours a hearing problem, or an understanding problem?"

    "But it will pay for itself in only 25 years! Maybe 30."

    "You are such a tool. Goodbye."

Honestly, I can't tell if the problem with the people pushing solar is that they are earnest-but-incompetent hippies, or are just straight-up scam-artists. Either way, it seems like it'd be more efficient to actually set paper money on fire and use that heat to drive a turbine.