"Ask Dr. LJ"

Does anyone know how to produce a local on-disk copy of a song that can be streamed, but not downloaded, from the Myspace music player? Besides some kind of external analog coupling, I mean.

It's almost New Years and I'm thinking about the two years I celebrated it at Toad in Cambridge where Guitarzan was playing. And I'd like to carry a couple of their songs around with me on my iPod.

  • Current Music
    Lay Lady Lay


I just got email from someone in a working group I'm on saying that the weekly conference call this Thursday is being canceled.

To me this is just cluttering my inbox.

Merry Christmas though!

Posted via



I tried to learn a little Hawaiian while in Kauai. The most interesting thing I've discovered so far about the language is that nouns are the same in both singular and plural. Instead, there are different forms of articles that convey the quantity of the associated noun.

  • Ke Honu - the sea turtle
  • Nā Honu - the sea turtles
  • Ke Pali - the cliff
  • Nā Pali - the cliffs

Hence the Nā Pali coast, you see.

ghost knife


I got a gratifyingly fast response from my Craigslist ad to sell the big fish tank. I think I probably underpriced it since I was including the pretty expensive canister filter, but oh well. I had an appointment with two grad students just after work yesterday, so I went home a little early to get things ready.

Hardest part was figuring out how to drain the tank. I could have done it the usual way, with the vacuum siphon into a large bucket, but that would have meant seven trips with 100 pounds of water to the front door. That didn't seem ideal for my back, plus it was very cold last night and all that water would have wound up on the front sidewalk and I didn't want it to freeze. I got a garden hose out of the garage and thought I could just siphon all the water out with that through a window into the side yard and away from the house, but I was a little stumped as to how to prime the siphon without risking a mouth full of nasty fish water. But by observing the end of the hose in the tank and listening carefully to the hose itself, I managed to suck long enough to start the siphon but also get enough advance warning to get the end out of my mouth before the water (and fish poop, and algae, and rotifers) arrived.

The tank took more than half an hour to empty, and since it has never been less than 75% full for over thirteen years, the stand and house made rather alarming popping and cracking noises as all that weight was removed.

I did a cursory cleaning of everything, piled all the miscellany into a bucket, and was done just in time for the buyer to arrive. Within half an hour, all trace of the tank was gone from the house. The living room looks WEIRD without that fixture; Ajay barked at the empty space because the tank has been there since before he was born.

I'm thinking this will hit me emotionally at some point, but so far I'm just pleased with how I managed to get rid of EVERYTHING related to the tank. A little floor cleaning is all that's needed now. To celebrate I now have a new fish-related LJ icon.

Working too hard

Is it a sign that I'm working too hard when I see this on failblog:

and it takes me a good, oh, ten to fifteen seconds to figure out what is so fail about it?

A small victory over spam

Giant "evil" hosting organization McColo was disconnected by both its network service providers yesterday. It's almost horrifying to imagine a hosting company that actively marketed itself as a safe haven for spammers, botnet command-and-control, malware distribution, and child pornography.

McColo used Hurricane Electric and Global Crossing as network providers, both of which responded to increasing pressure from the community and the press to act. Both did so on Tuesday, and this company is now off the net completely, at least for now.

The resulting impact on the amount of Internet-wide spam has been stunning. Some data shows that nearly HALF of ALL spam came from this company, either directly or as a result of command-and-control of botnets worldwide. The effect was obvious on our own spam control system, as demonstrated by these performance graphs.

We can certainly hope that this impact is at least semi-permanent, but this kind of illegal scam/spam/botnet stuff is just too lucrative for the people running them to just roll over and take this. But at least for now, it's fun to gloat over the demise of McColo.


"World's first personal winery"

This is the most hilarious thing I've seen in the domain of "expensive toys you can buy when you have too much money."

My favorite part is that it comes with integrated wireless Ethernet, to communicate with some winery management software on your PC. I wonder if Thinkgeek has heard about this.


There was a minor disaster in downtown Champaign Friday morning. An historic, 130-year-old building that was being renovated into lofts burned to the ground. Apparently it collapsed into the street just moments after the firefighters arrived, and then the massed pile of wood burned like a giant bonfire for an hour before they got it under control and extinguished.

Picture gallery here.

Flames roared a hundred feet into the air, the heat cracking windows in businesses nearby. Some ancillary fires got started from direct heat and hot embers, but apparently these all got extinguished before any kind of damage could be done.

The fire was immediately across the street from the building where our new home will be, so we are very concerned about this. The south side of the building has been mostly finished on the exterior, so the fire, just a few feet away, shattered glass and scorched and discolored brick. The whole area looks like it's been bombed out, and crews were still working this afternoon to clean up the street and sidewalk.

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What this is going to do to any move-in dates, nevermind the integrity of the building, is really worrying us. Thankfully, none of the building HVAC is functioning yet, or at least is not running, so no smoke got sucked into the interior like several other apartment buildings and businesses downtown. And our apartment is quite a ways away from the fire, so whatever damage occurred should not have affected us. But they will probably have to stall construction to do inspections for fire and heat damage.

I hope this whole move isn't, like, jinxed, or something. Having to move and sell a house in the middle of a nationwide economic crisis is bad enough.


Wait, what?

Michael Crichton died? I guess I missed that news among the din of the election results.

This makes me really sad. While his later stuff was kind of formulaic and crappy, much of his earlier medical fiction was quite relevant and gripping, including one of my very favorite cautionary tales of biology, The Andromeda Strain.


(no subject)

"Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much, and tonight, I remain her servant," McCain said.

That, I have to say, is pretty classy.