Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Let Your Google Calendar Evolve

I successfully added my Evolution (desktop-based) calendar events to my Google calendar with a few very easy steps (see below). To see how to view your Google Calendar from Evolution, check out Johnny Jacob's fantastic tutorial Johnny [Life & Code]: Google Calendar in Evolution. Got me fixin ta git me summa them screenshots an' purty up my page. Geez, Johnny. Make the rest of us look bad, why don't ya!


  1. Export Selected Evolution Calendar to Disk
    1. In Evolution, under the Calendars button in the left hand navigation frame, highlight and right-mouse click the the name of the calendar you wish to export to google.
    2. From the pop-up menu, select "Save to Disk".
    3. Within the Save dialog window, select the "iCalendar format (.ics)" from the list of file types at the bottom of the window.
    4. Enter a name for your calendar export file. **Be sure to append the file extension (.ics). Evolution will not add it automatically.
    5. Select filesystem location easy for you to remember and click Save As.
  2. Create and/or Select the Google Calendar to Receive Import
    1. In your Google Calendar account, if the calendar you wish to receive the import already exists, skip to the next numbered step. If you do not have a calendar to which you will import the new calendar file (see step 5), follow the appropriate links or help instructions on the Google Calendar site to create your receiving calendar.
    2. Click the "Manage Calendars" link at the bottom of the Calendars nav box in the left-hand navigation column.
    3. Click "Import Calendar" tab (link)under Calendar Settings.
    4. Click "Browse" button next to "Step 1: Select File" field and navigate to the calendar file you created in step 5.
    5. Use the select box in "Step 2: Choose Calendar" to select the Google calendar to which you will import the new file.
    6. Click "Import" button next to "Step 3: Complete Import". If successful, the page will refresh with a message saying "X events were imported into ______ Calendar". (not a direct transcription of actual message, but the gist of it nonetheless.)
  3. Check Your Work
    1. If successful, go to the Calendars box in the left nav and make sure that check box next to the calendar name is checked.
    2. Click the calendar's name and navigate through the calendar to make sure the new "events" have been added. **I've noticed it can take a minute or two for new entries to update. Refreshing the page or switching your calendar view seems to refresh the page and reveal the newly added data.
  4. Comments and Caveats
    • I noticed that the times in my entries shifted back 3 hours. I'm on EDT and the site is hosted in the Pacific timezone. Google's import code is probably adjusting the time displayed to the server's timezones. It's the same data, just assuing that you want to see it in California People Time - CPT ;-)
    • I haven't completely troubleshooted the transfers I've made so far, the items I have checked seem to have come over almost perfectly. There's some occasional wierdness in the formatting or character selection in the Comments section (e.g. a pair of TAB characters from Evolution were converted to lowercase letter "t" on import). Not sure if it's the Evolution export or the Google import that catches the blame for that one.
    • Several events on my exported calendar were recurring (repeating over a given date range daily or weekly). I'm happy to note that they carried over into Google as recurring events. In which case you are able to update or delete one and Google will ask if you wish to do the same for the repeats.
    • Finally, so far so good as far as all fields and event properties (e.g. location, show time as, privacy level...) appear to have carried over from Evolution to Google (individual and repeat events alike).
  5. Additional Testing and Follow-Up
    • Haven't tested this yet, but would really like to know what happens when you update your Evolution calendar, create a new export file, and import the newer file to Google. Does Google prevent double entries for the same event? Will it prompt you to overwrite (or not) the existing event with the event info from the latest copy?
    • I have successfully made changes (e.g. correcting the event times) in the imported events. However, I have not tested uploading an updated event from Evolution to Google. Will Google do a "diff" between the data file and the data on their site? If so, will it choose the authoritative version automatically (which one)? Will it prompt you to choose? Will they give you an option to merge the data from both where possible?
    • Finally, (as if you couldn't tell before) this is a workaround. Despite looking clunky and laborious in all its steps, I was surprised at how relatively quick, easy, and painfree the effort was. (For example: I still haven't managed to sync my WinCE smartphone to Evolution. <Wince!> indeed!).
      That said, the standard protocols and an API for Google Calendar already exist, putting the pieces in place for an update for Evolution popping up in our respective package managers in days, if not weeks. Should I be predicting wrong, then I challenge all the sharp hackers out there to turn away from Unreal Tournament and WoW for 10 minutes and bring your prodidgious grey-matter to bear on what would seem such an academic exercise in coding. Imagine, fifteen minutes of lightwork, and the love, admiration, cell numbers, IMs, MySpace pages... of the world will be yours. Think about it!

As always, Peace & Blessings.
(Now more than ever!)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Little Duck, Huge Flavor

Little Duck, Huge Flavor

Review of: Little Duck Thai Restaurant
By: Alozie Nwosu
Rating: 4
Read review on Judy's Book.

If you're sick of Applebees and Boston Market for dinner, try out Thai Little Duck over on Granite Ave. Small and inobtrusive almost to the point of being invisible, this tiny humble establishment hides a formidable menu of tasty healthy delights to any and every palate.

If this would be your first adventure into the land of Thai cooking, then their Pad Thai is a great introductory dish (unless you have a peanut or seafood allergy). If your feeling particularly adventurous, give their spicy Tom Yum Noodles a try. Available as a soup as well as "dry" (without broth). Both styles are out of site. The running favorite for all to whom I've recomended Thai Little Duck is the Basil Fried Rice.

Many veggie dishes to choose from that are more than satisfying to a voracious carnivore like myself. Large portions for short money. The value can't be beat. You can get it take out or have it delivered if you live nearby. Go on in though. Even though it's small, the friendly faces serving and cooking are as satisfying as the delicious meals they provide.

On days that I get out of work late and don't feel like cooking, I bypass Wendy's, keep heading down Newport all the way down to "The Duck". Eat in, take home, or delivered: anyway you choose to get it, do yourself a favor and grab a Little Duck.

Monday, May 22, 2006

ERROR: cannot find -ldb1

Caught the error above running 'make check' to install Glitter, a GTK+/Gnome news reader.

After some to-ing and fro-ing, I searched and found that this error referred to a missing "file" which in fact is a link file pointing to /usr/lib/ This file is installed with Berkeley Database. What I found was that I had the "DB1" package installed, but not the "DB1-devel" package.

As I run SUSE 10.0, I ran my trusty dusty YaST2 Software Manager, installed the "devel" file (and the other DB packages - DB4, DB41, etc... for good measure). I made clean with "make clean" reran "configure", and "make check". Both worked smoothly. After that, "make install" installed Glitter to my system smooth as ever.

Hope this helps you if you ran into the same problem. Leave a note in the comments section if this helped your particular problem. Note what you were doing (e.g. installing program X) in case anyone else doing the same thing runs into this problem. Thx!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Save The Internet, Now!!!

Are our troops in Iraq getting wounded maimed and killed to protect our Democracy or a Kleptocracy? The cable and phone companies seem to subscribe to the latter. There are bills up for consideration in both houses of congress which will allow the big Internet service providers (the keepers of the trunk lines) to charge a premium for full bandwidth access to domains. Meaning?

The speed with which you get your websites, your email, browse your newsgroups, listen to iTunes, and watch YouTube videos? Forget it. Unless the hosts of the websites, email, newsgroups, etc. are willing to pay the premium, they will get a smaller bandwidth, therefore SLOWER access to the Internet. If you own a website. Guess what? Pay up or slow down.

We enjoy net neutrality. On the Internet, Fox News and Democracy Now! are at the same level as It's the last bastion of democracy. Not simply national democracy, but GLOBAL democracy* (*offer invalid in China, Iran, Turkmenistan, and Utah).

Please go to, sign the petition, get the details, contact your representatives and senators, and tell Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) to go suck an egg. Don't let Bush and his whoring-family-values-gestapo-cronies louse up yet another democracy, PLEASE!!!

Save The Internet, Now!!!

If You Wouldn't Hire a Fox to Guard Your Henhouse...

...would you hire a rat to inspect your cheese? I think no. But apparently that's exactly what we've done.

Consider reports that since 2001 President Bush has made signing statements on over 750 bills passed by congress, including language that effectively nullifies the very intent of said laws. Check out these reports and share my blistering outrage:

Examples of the president's signing statements - Boston Globe, April 30, 2006

Executive Authority: How Bush redefines the intent of the law... - San Francisco Chronicle, May 6, 2006

Slate's Jurisprudence: Presidential Signing Statements - NPR's Day to Day, January 24, 2006

Expanding Executive Power via Signing Statements - NPR's All Things Considered, January 11, 2006

P.S. For all you smart asses out there, it's only my outrage that's blistering. All else is tip top. You freaks!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

"The sleep of reason produces monsters"

~Francisco de Goya

But the ongoing life story chronicled at shows a rare instance where the monsters brought on by the sleep of reason (and very wakeful greed and neglect) failed to completely triumph.

Katie Dallam is a remarkable woman for whom tragedy struck in the boxing ring in her debut match. Through the utter callousness and neglect of the referee, fight doctor, and fight organizers that fateful night, Katie faced a much more experienced fighter who doled out punishment over 4 and a half brutal rounds (which included 141 blows to the head) that could easily have sent her to a much too early grave but for the grace of God. Though the ruptured cerebral artery that the beating and slow response of the ring doctor and staff on the scene left her with did not take her life, it certainly shattered it.

A born fighter, having fought all her life from troubled childhood until that fateful night, she fought through what was certain death, and awoke from her coma thus beginning a much tougher fight for recovery. From the resultant traumatic brain injury she had to relearn all aspects of her life, from who she was, to how to take care of herself. Her frustrating war with words and recovering her verbal expression turned her towards artistic expression, which prolific during her recovery and rehab eloquently describe her inner world.

I found Katie's site and her story completely by accident (started looking up information about an upcoming fight, and eventually ended up here) and it couldn't have been a happier one. I stumbled across this site from simply looking up the date and card information of a women's boxing match taking place in Providence later this month. Drawn by the sexy allure of tough women, brutal yet feminine tomboys, I kicked around Google and the pages of until I quite inadvertently stumbled across Katie's website and her story.

Thus what started as idle post-workday browsing the web for titillation in the end brought me to one of the most incredible stories I've ever read. It brought me tremendous inspiration and hope. Read her story, look through her tremendous artwork and be inspired yourselves.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Missed Appropriation

Note to Bravo Network:

It's not strong BLACK woman. It's strong black WOman.

Nuance and subtlety, my dears. Without it, what was elegant and clever becomes clumsy and just plain amateur.

In the latter, strong and black are peers. They accentuate the woman, the subject of the show, thereby driving home the irony and humor. In the former, the way your announcer says it, the woman, thus the person, is rendered moot. Black is now the subject. The show might as well have been titled Look at Me, I'm not really.

Let me say right now, it takes a brave comic, especially one who's not a Black Woman, to title her show Strong Black Woman. Complements to Kathy Griffin. I hope the special is as good as its title.

Bravo? Coach your announcer. Or better still, hire a strong Black fact, hire two. Then maybe you'd have understood the subtle genius in the setup and not flubbed it in the delivery.

Edgy humor done well is genius. Edgy humor done poorly is just fucking annoying.

In a word...

truthtastic! Thank you Mr. Colbert.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Proof of Life

When I saw the MTV news bulletin a week ago saying that Proof had been shot and killed the night before, I was struck dumb. I was just coming to learn how various friends from home were professionally, creatively, or socially connected to him. My first thought was on them and the loss of their friend, the loss of a cool person whom I might have had the opportunity to meet on my coming trip home. Juxtaposed to the cold passionless details of a news update, the sense of loss echoed. Then I thought of another news update I had heard not too long before.

When Jay Dee's passing due to kidney failure was announced, I was sad and hurt by life's seeming injustice. That a man my age would be taken down by an old man's disease. And the additional tragedy of a struggling community trying desperately to rebuild itself, losing such a talented member. But then I was oddly heartened. I dared to think that maybe a page has turned, and that Hip Hop's age of untimely deaths due to violence may have finally passed. That we would embrace the sadness and tragedy of Jay Dee's untimely passing and those who were otherwise inclined would come to value their lives and to value and respect the lives of others more. Maybe in the person of Jay Dee, God had sent Hip Hop a rainbow signifying the end of the violent flood.

Khary Kimani Turner, also a Detroit emcee-poet and a contributor to the Detroit Metro Times, tells of a Proof in the midst of personal transformation. He had begun to restore control over his affairs, mending fences with well-known rivals, solidifying his business endeavors, and reconciling with his estranged wife and mother of his children. In effect, he, like so many of us in our generation, had tired of an over-extended adolescence, and was truly crossing the threshold to adulthood. A line in The Desiderata reads "Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth." It's the folly of youth, with envy, acrimony, and guns formed the brutal mixture that halted Proof's transition before it could truly begin.

The Hip Hop catalog is dotted with paeans to our better natures, to peace, respect, and community. But alongside the bevy of more visible, and more popular songs, nearly pornographic in their portrayal of sex violence and consumption, these embattled songs and artists of substance ring hollow, even disingenuous. Pleading "Stop the Violence" on one hand, many laugh their way to the bank on the tired worn out backs of "fuck that bitch" and "blast that nigga!" Ironic that a once guerrilla industry fueled by bravado, defiance, creativity, independence, originality and authenticity, now rests contentedly cowed and neutered under the wing of a corporate-controlled music industry that had written it off as a fad thirty years ago.

So before "Self-Destruction II, The Payback" gets underway, I hope folks will take a minute to think about Proof's life interrupted. A bright guy, funny and sharp-witted. Straddling two worlds, and trying to reconcile them within himself: what to leave behind and what to take from either. A guy who's own choices and the choices of those he was with, on a night of relaxation and leisure, left him with no further choices and took him from our world all too soon.

Thinking about this, maybe folks will finally figure out that it will take more than eulogizing songs, newspaper clippings, mural pieces, and blogs like this to honor him. That showing their love and respect requires a deeper and more personal commitment. Like accepting and undertaking the transition to adulthood that Proof didn't get to finish. Tending to family, working hard, making peace with estranged friends and rivals alike, developing and sharing talent, growing up, and being a man. Then, if you wonder whether you've honored him properly, and the many others so carelessly lost before him, look to the lives of those who follow us, and there's your Proof.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

error code -8075

Have you been getting this or a similar message when you try to visit secured (HTTPS) websites? I was having this problem with Mozilla Firefox. Here's how I fixed it:

  1. Select Preferences in the Edit menu.
  2. Select Advanced from the Preferences window navigation bar.
  3. Under the Security preferences group, select all the security protocols (SSL 2, SSL 3, and TLS 1).
  4. Under Certificates/Client Certificate Selection, choose Select Automatically.
  5. Under the Validation/OCSP section, select the Use OCSP to validate only certificates that specify an OCSP service option.
  6. Click OK to close and save your changes to the Preferences window.
  7. Close all of your browser instances (and quickstarter) and open a new instance.

I believe line item 5 above is what most directly affected the error message in question. The other settings that I think, but am not sure are associated to this problem. If you try this fix, leave a comment and let me know whether it works for you.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Recovered Some Much Needed Space

Last night, fed up with seeing the root partition of my laptop (OpenSUSE on HP Pavillion dv4150us) nearly full at 93%, I decided to take some drastic action. I had ~18 GB on a couple left over partitions I'd created for installing secondary and test operating systems. I never got around to installing said systems (was gonna have another OpenSUSE install for testing upgrades, and an OpenSolaris install just for laughs), so killing those partitions (/secos and /testos respectively) was no big deal. Now the question was: what could I move off of the root partition, and more importantly, how could I do it safely.

Who Gets the Axe?

Well, technically, no one was getting the axe. But I did want to move the directory that was the biggest memory hog on the root partition OFF the root partition. Here's my partition setup after freeing the 18 GB mentioned above:

Device              Mount Point           FS Type
/dev/hda2           /                      ext3
/dev/hda3           /data                   reiserfs
devpts           /dev/pts              devpts
/dev/cdrecorder   /media/cdrw         subfs
/dev/dvdrecorder /media/dvdrecorder subfs
proc             /proc                   proc
usbfs            /proc/bus/usb        usbfs
/dev/hda5           /rescue                ext3 (unused)
/dev/hda1           swap                   swap
/dev/hda6        /tmp                   reiserfs
/dev/hda7        /var                    reiserfs

Now I needed to create a new partition, /dev/hda8, but before doing that, I needed the target directory so that I could determine the size. So being lazy, I went to the GNOME File Browser and simply displayed the properties of the main directories residing on the root partition. I also did a df from the bash command line, but this only gave me info for the partitions and not the directories themselves. Anyhow, here were the directories I had to choose from:


It was no contest. /usr blew the others away by a mile at ~5 GB in size. Knowing this, I decided to create a new reiser partition at 8 GB and mount it to a new directory called /usr2.

The Old Bait and Switch

So now that I had the new partition mounted:

/dev/hda8        /usr2                   reiserfs

I needed to transfer the data from executing the following as root from the bash prompt:
/usr to /usr2.  cp -ax /usr/* /usr2

took care of that. Needless to say, 5.0G took a bit to copy, so I watched the progress in another terminal using:
watch df

Just a nifty way to refresh the view of the partitions about every 2 seconds to track the change in the new partition's size. Probably slowed the progress of the copy itself, but I'm an impatient masochist who insists upon watching pots boil. When the copy from /usr to /usr2 finished I did a diff -qr between the two:
diff -qr /usr /usr2

Any vet will tell you (as I quickly found out) a diff on two huge directories takes a buttload of time. In hindsight, I would instead select a few key subdirectories to compare unless I've really got a buncha time to waste.

A few minor differences between the directories (a handful of missing files and differing attributes), but otherwise, a-okay. Okay enough for me to risk the next step.

DDRR: Delete, Dismount, Remount, Reboot

Here's where I really got scared. Could I now unmount the new partition, copy /usr to yet another backup (like the now empty /usr2 directory), delete the contents of /usr, and mount the new partition to /usr? I wasn't sure, but I gritted my teeth and went for it, and...

...well? Here's the deal. All of the above worked fine. It was the rebooting that was the catch. I restarted my system and almost immediately got a fatal error. X couldn't start. Files missing. However, fear not! A login prompt requesting my root password was provided so that I could try to fix the problem and reboot. Beat that, Windo$e!!! Anywho, I logged in, checked out my /etc/fstab file and immediately saw the prob:

/dev/hda8         /usr2                   reiserfs ...

So the new partition was still mounting to /usr2, hence empty useless /usr directory hosing up the works. Simple fix in vi changed /usr2 to /usr. Reboot, and what the hell!?!? It actually worked!!!


Archimedes couldn't have been happier than I am. I'm now sittin' pretty with an extra 5 fat Gigs on my root partition, and /usr sitting in it's own 8 Gig partition. If I feel like it, I can even expand /usr to 10 Gig or more should the mood grab me. Yea!! I can start installing all kinds of Beta-ware again!!! The villagers rejoice, the kingdom is happy, and all is right with the world once more :-)

Upon Further Reflection...

Was this in fact the best way to go about this change? I really dunno. As you can tell from the story, I more or less winged it, and ultimately got lucky. If you are in a similar bind and see this as your only way out, I accept no responsibility for what may or may not happen. This would truly be an instance of the blind leading the blind. If there was a better way to have gone about the changes above, or at least some refinements you could recommend for the process I described, please leave them in the comments section. I thank you, and the hapless souls stumbling upon this site seeking guidence from my fumbling-stumbling-SysAdministrations thank you! Thanks and best of luck to all.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Judging a Film by Its Book Cover

I wonder if studios know how tough they make it for themselves when their reps give you a survey before you walk into a theater. As soon as I get one of those creamy, would-be soothing sheets, my senses go on alert. My skin draws into goosebumps. The hair on the my nape goes on end. It asks me my sex. A woman yammering behind me distracts me for a second and I check female (MISTAKENLY). It asks me my age. Range. Ever since I was 3 I've been thinking of my age as a precise crisp number, not a range! What's with the trick questions!?! Race. Of course. Hollywood bastards. That way they know which opinions to put in the throwaway pile. Well at least they put "Black/African-descent", and not "African-American" like some stupid forms.

[Imagine the indignity of a Nigerian or Kenyan, just visiting the country and deciding he wanted to check out a movie, only to have a form shoved in his face that tells him he's "African-American." Who pulled the switch on my passport? Or think of the Brit or Italian national for that matter (yes, there are Black Europeans! Even a few whose forebears went there voluntarily!!)? Or how's this for mindbending: you're an Indian from Uganda. What do you say then? Huh? Or how pray tell should Theresa Heinz-Kerry answer on such a form? Didin't think of that one now, did ya??? Silly surveys, trix are for kids.]

But even this little entreaty cannot thwart the coming of my hypercritical self. Like some angry green giant of a movie critic lurking in my subconscious. Mild mannered Bruce Banner that I am would normally be amused momentarily with ridiculously huge mustard yellow polarized glasses. Even the stubby little pencil that comes with the form hearkens back to simpler days when there was nothing one couldn't do with a pencil. No stray mark was indelible. No mistake permanent. Alas, such bliss was only momentary. A palliative, soothing the conscious self to relinquish its hold as monster beneath secured glasses to their perch whilst thumbing the top of his ballpoint like some terrible inky detonator. This friends, was my tenuous grip on reality as I sat down to see the long awaited "V for Vendetta".

For me, two books-made-film have been the standard bearers for said genre: "Lord of the Flies" (the original black and white version), and "Fahrenheit 451". One could argue "Grapes of Wrath" or "The Godfather", and I know the Frodo for President crowd is out there gnashing its teeth in anticipation of locking down on my throat, lithe and tender like a goose. Sorry, Charlie. Get in line behind the "Bridges of Madison County" fans. This is my inch, and I ain't givin' it. Okay. One exception. "High Fidelity". But only 'cause it's John Cusack.

Needless to say, this raises the bar damn high. And 9 times out of 10, even the best (adapted) movies, are mediocre in comparison to the novel. Perhaps even more so with a graphic novel, because unlike a text novel where one must completely imagine settings, and faces, and actions, a graphic novel lays all these out with precision that defies the sharpest camera lenses. Hell, why even make a graphic novel into a movie? Good question.

Well, having eagerly anticipated and now seen "V for Vendetta", I can say why the adaptation is worth the effort.

1) Living parable. Science fiction stories are our modern-day parables. It draws together magic and wonder to warn us of our very mundane human frailties. The story of V is about creating freedom in a society that out of fear has forsaken it in deference to "security". And this was written in the 80's??? Taken as is, the story in its original form is as timely as ever. Well worth a (re)read, even after seeing the movie. However, there is something quite jarring when one sees news footage of the day, OUR day, cut into this fictional cautionary tale. And such a skillfully executed update infuses the parable with new lifeblood. Making a powerful message even more potent by connecting to the accepted and turning it on its head.

2) Flesh, blood, and tears. I don't go in much for movies with a lot of crying. I'll admit it. It scares me. I don't like to cry, and I find the weepy tearjerkers totally manipulative, and I leave them feeling violated. That being said, the most powerful scene in the movie and graphic novel involves Evey Hammond (played by Natalie Portman, "the actress that defines our age" said one WAY too enthusiastic moviegoer walking out behind me when the movie ended) reading a letter she finds in her cell and sobbing and kissing it when she finishes it. These were tears of tremendous sadness and an eternity of pain, but also of defiant and unconquerable love. Her tears are painful, wrenching, triumphant, and joyful. And to have such a scene played by a tremendous actress like Portman (yes, MagnoliaFan walking out behind me was right, but he should have come to that conclusion after seeing "The Professional", as any TRUE Portman fan would have...hah!) is like having a chiropractic adjustment administered to your heart. A visceral moment on paper given bone, flesh, and tears on an IMAX screen no less. My eyes mist and my heart swells simply thinking about it.

3) The Boom Bip. A dark mysterious figure emerges from the shadows. In an elegant frenzy of motion the villain and his henchmen lay thwarted in broken messy piles. We all derive a satisfaction from seeing the truly wicked get their comeuppance. Better still when this vengeance is served in digital surround sound stereo. The snapping of long bones, the swift cuts of the blade, the resonant thud of boot heel to sternum, a triumphant symphony of justice being dealt. One can always imagine using the freeze-frame images a graphic novel provides. But the wonder and magic of the samurai is in that split second pause between his killing stroke and his victims collapse where you can study his face transformed by anger, fear, determination, and possible death. Swiftness of motion, or the illusion thereof, and the power and fury of the bone-crunching deathblow are what make any action comic fan yearn for his favorite books to be made into films. Besides, what's an homage to Guy Fawkes without the thunderous, seat-rumbling, Parliament-leveling fireworks?

Final verdict. Go see it. Then I strongly recommend reading it. Both experiences will change the way you look at your surroundings, the way you breath the air around you, the way you share your life with others (or begin to if you haven't yet started). I have my gripes, of course, having read the book first. And having heard the author's (Alan Moore) own infamous misgivings about the production I didn't want to let Hollywood off too easy. But even in its shortcomings, the filmmakers succeeded where so many others have failed, and attempted and succeeded at things that neither directors, actors, artists, nor writers have dared try. And it's about fucking time.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Dog Eat Dog - Followup

About a year ago I did some pretty exhaustive research on pet foods, their processing and how that effects what products one should choose for their pets. Since then, I've searched around and tried out a few, and here is a short list of some foods that your local pet suppliers or veterinarian may carry:

I had her on Natural Balance when she was a kitten (under a year; though they're always kittens to their daddys). Not too long after she turned a year old, my local PetCo started carrying Pet Promise, and at the sales person's recommendation (on natural/organic pet foods) I got some for 'Boo to give a try. Well, she's taken to it like a fly to honey, a wolf to bunny, and a golddigger to money. I've even munched a few pieces myself and found it oddly tasty (not nearly enough dried meat nuggets made for human consumption). Since I'd seen Castor & Pollux Organix, I'd wanted to give it a try, but being the most expensive of the three (~$18 for 6lbs) I figured I'd stick with the Pet Promise and DVP (both roughly six-dollars cheaper).

I've found all the products above at my local PetCo store. I'm sure any other well stocked pet shops would carry at least one or two of these as well. And of course, don't forget your local organic pet suppliers.

Friday, March 17, 2006

See V for Yourself

The following are a set of links I passed along to a friend of mine about the movie V for Vendetta released today, to convince her and her husband to join me in catching it on IMAX tomorrow night. Hope it works on them. Give 'em a look and/or listen and let them work on you!

V For Vendetta movie site:

More on Moore:

Not So Comics

Moore Interviews

V for Vendetta graphic novel

UnRule Britannia: Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot,6729,588198,00.html

P.S. Here's my synopsis of my own reading, prior knowledge, and research on V as well as on Alan Moore (the orginal creator of V), his other works, and their adaptations:

V for Vendetta was originally a graphic novel by Allen Moore, famed for "From Hell" (an epic tracing his exhaustively researched history of Jack the Ripper and his links with the crown and the Masons), League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (two volumes of a Victorian-era superhero team action. Move over Ben Grimm and Mr. Fantastic. Here come Alan Quartermain, Dr. Jekyll, and Captain Nemo!), and The Watchmen (probably one of the earliest comics to call into question the superhero archetype and deconstruct the genre as we, then, knew it).

V for Vendetta is the story of a dystopian futuristic England (circa 1993-1997) ruled by a fascist regime inspired by England's Thatcher/Torrie(sp) administration of the time. V is a vigillante with a mysterious past, most likely associated with human subject experiments in the concentration camps established by the ruling regime during its rise to power. His aim is to, a la Guy Fawkes' infamous gunpowder plot ("Remember, remember, the 5th of November), to usurp the iron-clad rule of the Norsefire Party ("Strength through Purity. Purity through Faith.") and its shadowy Leader.

The story was outright blasphemy written then during the height of ThatcheReagan Conservativism and has powerful echoes today for the BlaireBush NeoReligious-Conservative cabal. The tagline of the film is "People Shouldn't Fear Their Governments. Governments Should Fear Their People!"

It's directed by the Wachovski brothers, and rightfully so, as one of the sub-plots of the story was most definitely the inspiration for the story of The Matrix and the character Morpheus, shadowy avenging abolitionist angel of the first film.

Alan Moore, as with the other films based on his work, angrily recused himself from the production process. Though I thought the Hughes brothers did a fantastic job with From Hell, the same couldn't be said for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, tagged "LXG" by the studio and DC Comics. [*NOTE: I have not yet seen LXG, despite my sister's endorsement of it. She's a picky movie-goer too, but she hadn't read the comics. Once I can put my anger aside at its inclusion of a "grown-up" Tom Sawyer, I'll drag myself to the video store to rent it. Until such time I shall remain the angry impotently fuming little man that I am.] But being that it's the Wachovski brothers, I'm banking on Moore's frustrations coming moreso from what had to be excluded in the interest of running time, as opposed to overzealous studio editing rendering the story and its message into milquetoast pap. I for one, am keeping my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dear Senator Feingold...

I salute you for standing up for the rights of Americans and opposing the culture of fear being cultivated by our executive branch and your Republican colleagues in our Congress. I am tremendously disappointed in my own representatives and your other Democratic colleagues who could have made this brave stand with you but kept silent.

I have a quote from Benjamin Franklin on my refrigerator in honor of his 300th birthday:

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

I hope and pray that all serving the people in our government will emulate the courage, sense of duty, and honor of our service men and women - who are risking or have sacrificed life and limb overseas - before they squander our liberty and ultimately our safety.

God speed Mr. Senator.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Listening to...

Habeas Schmabeas. This American Life episode featuring Jack Hitt examining the suspension of one of the bedrock principles of our American judicial system, habeas corpus - writ requiring the government to explain why it is keeping an individual in its custody (habeas corpus - Latin. having the body).

Hitt interviews lawyers, professors, journalists, military officers and two former Guantanamo Bay detainees to explore what the suspension of 350-year old doctrine means for the prisoners, our soldiers, our democracy, and ourselves.

In the intro, Ira Glass mentions that since some 200+ Guantanamo detainees none have not been interviewed in any American publications or other media. Way to go,!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Music Is Fundamental?

Check out the Phoenix article Pop Fundamentalism by Josh Kun. A fantastic read. Unfortunately my comment to the author/fellow-readers didn't keep its formatting so it came out as an illegible screed. So here's my comment with formatting:

[start comment]

I miss the days when religious or spiritually-driven songs spoke to power ("If you are a big tree, we are a small axe!", or "It's been a long, long time coming, but a change is gonna come. Oh yes it will."). Nowadays, with overt religiosity being the order of the day in circles of power, I hear someone outside the synagogue/mosque/pulpit invoking God's name, I check to make sure my wallet hasn't disappeared.

For my money, one of the best religious pop songs ever made was Black Sabbath's "War Pigs". Yeah, I said it! Check it out:

Now in darkness world stops turning, ashes where the bodies burning. No more War Pigs have the power, Hand of God has struck the hour. Day of judgement, God is calling, on their knees the war pigs crawling. Begging mercies for their sins, Satan, laughing, spreads his wings. Oh lord, yeah!

Who'd a thunk? The Right Reverend Ozzie nailed it! Of course this was before he developed the penchant for chewing heads of bats and pigeons. Nevertheless, "War Pigs" brings on the fire and brimstone a la Revelations, but points the flamethrowers at the true halls of power and the sentiments that fill them. And the lyrical gasoline burns as hot now as it did when they first wrote it.

Unfortunately, with Matisyahu and Madonna, they've taken on the soft targets (the consumeristic culture that butters their bread) and instead, fallen in lock-step or at least pander to those against whom their righteous pop fury should be unleashed.

Great article! You hit the nail on the head. When folks are so quick to point the fundamentalism finger at Islam, your article's an apt reminder that to see the mote in another's eye we must first remove the plank from our own. Thanks again.

[end comment]

Monday, March 06, 2006

iPod w/Linux: Woes and Triumphs

As a Linux user who only recently hopped onto the iPod bandwagon, I've come to see us (Linux users) as the red-headed-step-children of the iPod community. In no way let this sound like whining. I was not only fortunate enough to get an iPod, but a VIDEO iPod and for FREE!!! Thanks to my brother's extravagant Christmas-time generosity, I can count myself among the iPod/MP3-player generation 2-3 years sooner than I would have on my own coin. A wise man would quit while he's ahead, but no one's ever accused me of being wise before, so why start now?

In my haste to get started, I downloaded just about every tool Google scraped up for me to use with the new technical wonder. From JPodder to iPodderX to Juice to gtkPod to Banshee to amaroK. And that's only about half of them. Long story short, some were vapor-ware, some were duds, and some actually kinda worked.

After some to-ing and fro-ing I settled on the combination of gtkPod and amaroK for my basic iPodding needs - moving existing music (cd's, gnutella, and other sources that shall remain nameless) to my iPod.

gtkPod cleanly and quickly synced the local audio files it could find to my iPod. The only catch was that it only found about 3/4 of my total music collection. Still not sure why. There are also some niggling little quirks in the interface that I won't get into now, but that frustrate the usability purist in me.

amaroK provides a very clean and professional looking interface with a wide variety of tools and options for syncing and playing and managing local audio files. My biggest complaint is that the syncing process requires a great deal of babysitting which is a pain when you're trying to sync most of your 1000+ CD collection. I'm still working on getting the remainder synced over and it's been a little tiresome. If anyone out there has advice, give me a shout.

Now when my iPod crashed a while back after all the experimentation I mentioned earlier, my iTunesDB got corrupted in the process. I believe it might have been jPodder that I used to build a new iTunesDB and start the recovery. I'll have to look back to make sure, as I might have just recovered an uncorrupted backup file, but I somehow remember having none, and nearly falling back to my roommate's PC as a last resort for salvation. In any case, neither of the other two mentioned could resolve this problem for me: yet another drawback of being held at arms length it seems, by the rest of the iPodding community.

Finally, I come to the iPod's most recent triumph, the video podcast. At Christmas time, the word was "Linux user? Sucks to be you!!" Now, I've found a client that for me, works for watching vid-podcasts locally. PenguinTV is a pretty sweet Python-based video-blog/vid-pod client for Morgan Freeman...sike! I mean for Linux. Once I installed PyCurl via YaST (OpenSUSE on my laptop) the PenguinTV setup ran without a hitch. Actually, just one hitch. You had to be logged in as or 'su' to root for the install to finish (directory permissions issue). But once I got past that, I was able to grab my favorite web shows, TikiBarTV and the This or That! Gameshow (starring my elementary school chum Julie Atlas Muz), and watch them on my laptop in no time. Can't wait to get home and try out Happy Tree Friends!!! Sadly, no word yet from the developers on iPod integration (synchronization in particular).

As I find new stuff or as new releases of the products mentioned above change significantly and overcome any of the headaches I'm still having (sync management, ltms support, video podcasts, etc.), I'll keep you posted...right here! Also if you've found something that works for you, feel free to contribute it to the discussion.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Passing of the Sower

I'm extremely sad to report that on February 27th, Octavia Butler passed on due to a brain hemorrhage, secondary to a fall.

Octavia Butler was one of America's pre-eminant writers, a Nubella and Hugo Award winning science-fiction/fantasy writer, a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient (the only science-fiction author to receive the award thus far), a pioneer in her field as a woman an African-American and a lesbian, and she was and always will be my hero.

I had secretly reserved hope that I would meet her in my lifetime.

I first encountered her work when an undergraduate on a particularly distracted evening of study. Sitting opposite the science-fiction shelves at the now defunct Hilles Library the spine of one book caught my eye in particular. It included a picture of a woman's face that also seemed part bird, part fish, and part cheetah. Opening the book and flipping through, the word "Agu" caught my eye. I recognized it immediately as an Igbo (West African language) name. I read on and saw more Igbo names and, and being that part of my heritage is Igbo, I was hooked. It was the first sci-fi I'd ever read that I felt included me.

It turned out to be Octavia Butler's Wildseed. I'd been in love and inspired with her words ever since.

Though she's a self-described "former Baptist" I wish Ms. Butler all of God's blessings, because indeed her courage, her creativity, and her work has been a blessing to me. God speed, Ms. Butler. Perhaps we'll meet in the next life.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Without K.oS., there is only Chaos

He who knows himself knows God
[Traditional saying of The Prophet Muhammad]

At exactly which point do you start to realize That life without knowledge is, death in disguise? That's why, Knowledge Of Self is like life after death Apply it to your life, let destiny manifest
[from Knowledge of Self (Determination) by Black Star]

Check out the fantastic work of Irshad Manji at
Peace and God's blessings to Irshad and to all who humbly seek peace, knowledge, and truth.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Note-Taker Zim

Taking notes is second only to reading writing and simple 'rithmatic, in the skills one should master before finishing high school. Yet after 12 years of grade school, four years of college, 800 hours of professional development/continuing education, and a semester and a half of graduate school, I can think of only two lessons I had in note-taking: outlines and "bubble maps". So two fifty minute class periods to learn what two decades of academic life would ultimately hinge upon. Even the most callous and cold-hearted parent will check and make sure their kids figured out how to doggy-paddle after tossing them into the deep end of the swimming pool!

What's more, note-taking is a very personal process. It requires trial and error with different note-taking strategies and tools, and may eventually require some reflection on how you process best information (visually, spatially, rhythmically, etc.). Well, 20 years too late as I limp my way to the grad school finish line, I finally discovered the tool for me. Meet Zim.

Zim is a Perl-based "desktop wiki", a WYSIWYG tool that allows you to create a local set of wiki pages. If you're like most of the population and don't yet understand Nerdinese, check out Wikipedia and learn first hand the beauty and magic that is Wiki.

The hallmarks of wiki pages which Zim implements with tremendous simplicity are:

  • ease of editing
  • hierarchical organization
  • intelligent linking
The interface is as familiar as any other graphical text editor you've used, be it Text Edit on Windows, or GEdit or Kate on Linux. And it's even simpler than Microsoft Word or Writer. It's two-framed interface allows you to see both the information and structure of the present document in one pane and the information and macro-structure of the wiki in the other frame. Don't take my word for it. Seeing is believing.

Zim's maintainer(s) describes it as a tool "intended to keep track of TODO lists or to serve as a personal scratch book." And I guess oxygen is just a gas that helps make breathing a little more comfortable. In my previous life, I used the computer to take notes for more conference calls and meetings than I care to remember. I've dabbled with a variety of desktop tools for note-taking, from Microsoft Word to Lotus Notes to Cold Fusion Studio in WYSIWYG mode. What sticks out most through these experiences is that they all SUCKED!!!

In this age where our browser bookmarks have supplanted our scrapbooks, and email and MySpace/Friendster/Blogger accounts our diaries, Zim is note-taking, reviewing, and archiving platform for the hyperlinked generation. It's by no means perfect, but even at humble version 0.11, Zim has transformed reading and note-taking from grueling chores, engaging and meaningful learning experiences. I feel like I read faster and more deeply with Zim open alongside my textbook than I did before whether taking notes or not.

Will Zim work for you? Maybe. It's more important that you take time to think about how you think, how you record information for later use, and simply what draws you to information (format, color, spatial arrangement...) then consider the tools available to you (analog and digital) from that standpoint.

The good thing about Zim is that you're not constrained to the linear constraints of a word processor, nor the physical constraints of pen and paper. As it becomes more important whether in class or at work to take notes that are meaningful, organized, easy to access and distribute, it's even more important to have a tool that suits your preferred note taking style.

Zim isn't the only such tool out there, nor is the wiki style the only alternative to vanilla-text editor note-taking or even the outline-friendly presentation tools. Freemind, and kdissert are Graphical Mind Mapping tools (think "bubble maps" or "concept maps") that are also excellent for recording and organizing notes and ideas. Consider these particularly if you find you are more visually or spatially oriented. Zim, Freemind, and kdissert are all free (as in "free beer" AND as in "free speech") but there are commercial tools available as well (see Microsoft OneNote, or Inspiration). There are also a number of note-taking strategies in addition to the ones mentioned above which you should peruse, especially if like me, you only got 100 minutes of note-taking lessons for twelve years of grade school.

Just remember, it's not about the money you spend, the quantity of information captured, or the who's who in using one system or another. It's about taking the time to find out what works best for you. I lucked out and found Zim. Take a look and see what you find.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Colds Are &#@%ing Useless

All they do is make you tired and uncomfortable. Not bad enough to cause explosive diarrhea, febrile delirium, or other conditions both fun and useful. They are debilitating enough, however, to make going to work a living hell. Not so much, though, that you'll garner any sympathy from your boss and co-workers if you DO stay home. "Oh, he has a 'cold'" they'll sneer, as though you're actually at the Ritz Carlton penthouse suite, throwing a crazy swingers party with Burt Bachrach doing his thing on a revolving grand piano. Meanwhile you're busy judging the international all-nude tiddlywinks tournament with returning champions 3rd year running, the 1976 Playboy Bunnies. They might be a bit older but damn if they can't still tiddly them winks!

But God forbid that the cold hit you on the weekend. All that means is the day you woke up and decided to tough it out at the office, only to have your coworkers giving you mean looks, covering their noses, and spraying their desks with Flu-B-Gone when you walk by, you should've been home in bed watching reruns of "Love Connection." Makes you wish you did infect those co-workers, all healthy and smug with their strings of garlic and rosaries on their office doors to keep you at bay. Lick the rim of their coffee mugs when their not looking, I say.

That's why, this year I'm boycotting colds. "Snuff out the Sniffles in 2000-Sissle!" And as soon as I get over this damn cold, I'm sucking down all the garlic soup and echinacea I can get my grubby mitts on. Speaking of grubby mitts, my secret weapon: bright yellow rubber gloves. Pink-eye on subway poles be damned!!! You may get past the anti-bacterial hand gel and the infrared-motion-detecting Lysol Mist Master 3000, but the yellow rubber gloves will be your doom!!! You'll spot me from a mile away as only the foolhardiest among you will attempt to withstand my rubbery saffron might.

Truthfully, I have no such plans. Just wishful thinking. Or maybe it IS febrile delirium, in which case I've got dreams of giant marshmallows the size of my pillow to look forward to tonight, woo-hoo!!! No, instead, like every other poor sap out there with a scratchy throat, I will be grabbing my ankles and taking it from these microscopic cell-mates named Bubba-Joe. No recourse but hot tea and double-doses of vitamin C. But when did hot tea and vitamin C ever keep you from getting cornholed? I digress. Worse than anything, however, it's the weekend, so not even the "Price is Right" is on to lull me into a catatonic stupor leaving me to be painfully aware of the dry eyes, dripping faucet nose, and the mountain gorilla building its summer condo in my head. Take the weekend off will you? Spay this Barker!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Playing with Blog Entry Poster for GNOME

About two weeks ago I upgraded my purchased SUSE 9.3 Professional system to OpenSUSE/SUSE 10.0.

First of all, huge props to Novell/SUSE for turning their distro into a community-supported project. Having known Novell since my dad used their network in his office back in the '80s, it's great to see them restoring their former glory via the Open Source game. And SUSE being the first distro I purchased and actually got working on one of my own PCs (back in '99) I feel confident that this move will take what was a strong distro and make it stronger. Sure, Red Hat blazed the Corporate-cum-Community trail with their release of Fedora Core, but SUSE's not only stepped up but come up strong.

Case in point. I type this post on my OpenSUSE upgraded HP Pavillion dv4150 laptop(!!!) and will be posting it via the Wireless G connex I'm using here at boloco's inspired burritos (pretty damn inspiring, I might add). The upgrade was ridiculously easy. Far better than when I upgraded my roomies older HP and my sister's Dell with WinXP. Yisch!!! Terrible memories.

Anyhow, since the upgrade, I've been playing with different tools that came with the distribution. Having generally stuck to my workhorse tools (OpenOffice, Mozilla, Kaffiene, Thunderbird...) I've gotten more and more interested in pushing the system and software to its limits.

Which brings me to this Blog Entry Poster tool. I found it in the Applications > System > Configuration > Desktop Applet menu. Kind of a wierd spot for it, especially since I didn't see a second icon for it under the Internet or Office menus. It was about as hard to pinpoint on the web as it was (would have been) to find it on the desktop (had I actually been looking for it). But now that I've found it, it's a gem that I'll be keeping close going forward.

Setup was stupid easy. Select your Blog Site from the drop down list. Enter your blog account ID and Password. Hit the Lookup Blogs button and it pulls up a list of your blogs from the given account. Hit Close (wish it had the usual OK and Cancel buttons - but that's minor) and the Post Blog Entry screen pops up. Type as you would with any word processor and when you're done click Post Entry. After that, your ramblings are up for everyone to see!

I'm damn impressed. From my Googling, it looks like SUSE and Ubuntu Gnome install with the tool. If your distro doesn't have it, just go to:

and click Download in the upper right.

I'm diggin' it. The AFroNaut will definitely Bloggeth much more often. Check it out and enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Lo! Tolerants.

Tolerance can mean all sorts of things. People develop tolerances to noxious compounds. Exposed to poisons in a diluted form over time, one's body can learn to handle these potentially lethal substances enough so a serious exposure will not result in death or permanent damage. The same goes for diseases, hence vaccinations. Yesterday we conquored polio, today we conquor...erectile dysfunction, and tomorrow, ...err...uh...polio? Of course there are some poisons, heavy metals for examples, that will screw you whether they get into your system all at once or gradually. Is that Flipper's menacing chuckle I hear?

Psychologically, those who dare may learn to withstand the minor irritants facing those living in proximity to other sentiant beings: the smokers who dare foul the air whilst relaxing your sandal-clad tootsies on a park bench; the oncoming ambulance making you pull over to the right even though you're 2 minutes late for bikram yoga; or the guy standing behind you in line with the crusty booger up his nose that makes a high-pitched whistle right in your ear each time he breathes in. With maturity we learn to foster the Zen mind towards these petty annoyances bringing us in harmony with our environment, our neighbors and ourselves. Om that, mother-$#@%&*!

In mechanical systems, high tolerance means that for a given variable, temperature, torque, friction, or other, the system continues to function even when the variable deviates greatly from a given standard. Hence the AK-47s ability to fire as reliably as it did when they first came off the line even after being buried in sand for five years. I guess that would make body armor a pretty sound investment, eh?

So I love it that on a day like today, the day we remember the life and sacrifices of Dr. King, so many folks audaciously proclaim the gospel of racial tolerance. It reminds us that we need not wax nostalgic for the days of bitter acrimony and misunderstanding that was crucible and backdrop for Dr. King's lifelong struggle, nor that we consider such struggle a relic of days gone by. After all, political correctness, our modern day guide to manners and civility, dictates that folks like me are to be tolerated. Poisonous and infectious are we, yet regular incremental exposure to us will bring the sanctity of immunity to John and Jane Q. Public. Deviants (from the standard) that we are, rest assured that our existence warrants little more attention than a petty, fleeting annoyance.

So to all of you tolerants out there who, today parade your true nature for all to see, I thank you for your honesty and courage. May pride and contentment fill your heart, may tuna fill your dinner plate, and may second-hand smoke fill your nose perpetual. From the other end of the park bench, this is TheAphro.

Note: Had you read this before, you may have noticed that I changed the last line. When I originally typed this, I was groping for a third metaphor for the last line (above). Suffice it to say that the metaphor I chose (sand and a certain type of weapon) didn't sit well with me. No one's commented to me or complained about it, so my decision to modify the line was all my own. I was seriously reaching as far as metaphors go, but more importantly I felt it implied a sentiment I simply do not hold, and wouldn't even want suggested. Having considered (and sometimes still considering) serving our nation's military the last thing I'd wish on any of our soldiers (yep, even the dickheads) is for their weapon to jam. The thought makes my heart stop. My views about our leadership and its chosen misadventures overseas are largely shaped by my feelings for our soldiers. The fact that current policies and their execution is at the expense of too many young men and women simply galls me. A friend of mine, my age, joined up recently, and has been training for the past year. Far from being a neo-con or a friend-of-W, his words to me before heading to basic were "folks like us have gotta be represented in the service. And those kids going in are just too young not to have folks our age helping them out." God bless you and all there with you G. Keep your head down, your clip full, and your chamber clean.

So, long story short, that's why I changed the last line. You gotta admit your mistakes to correct them. My apologies to you if you did read it in its original form and thought I might have meant something I didn't. Peace and blessings.