the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

Grump. Grump, Grump, Grump.

So I've got pretty much all of my photos from the past seven years imported into iPhoto now (yay) with the eventual goal of uploading the better stuff to Flickr... Unfortunately, my old Kodak DC280 had a tendency to crash if it didn't like the particular variety of double-A batteries we put into it. Double-unfortunately, this causes the camera to reset the date to 5/31/1999 and not tell you about it. Thus I have about 1100 photos that have bogus EXIF dates that'll want to get fixed up, meaning (to be done right) I get to export them all, fix the EXIF data in an external program (painstakingly trying to figure out exactly which day I shot what, argh!), and then re-importing them into iPhoto.

Have I mentioned how much I love my new cameras that don't misbehave like that?

([info]reasie and [info]oogby, be sure you keep an eye out for this.)

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All Your Personal Data Are Belong to AT&T;

Pursuant to this article about AT&T;'s new privacy policies, it may be in your best interests to watch whatever you say if over the phone, or in fact to not have phone service of any kind.

From the article:

The new policy says that AT&T; -- not customers -- owns customers' confidential info and can use it "to protect its legitimate business interests, safeguard others, or respond to legal process."

The policy also indicates that AT&T; will track the viewing habits of customers of its new video service -- something that cable and satellite providers are prohibited from doing.

Moreover, AT&T; (formerly known as SBC) is requiring customers to agree to its updated privacy policy as a condition for service -- a new move that legal experts say will reduce customers' recourse for any future data sharing with government authorities or others.


AT&T;'s new and former privacy policies both state that "conducting business ethically and ensuring privacy is critical to maintaining the public's trust and achieving success in a dynamic and competitive business climate."

Both also state that "privacy responsibility" extends "to the privacy of conversations and to the flow of information in data form." As such, both say that "the trust of our customers necessitates vigilant, responsible privacy protections."

The 2004 policy, though, went one step further. It said AT&T; realizes "that privacy is an important issue for our customers and members."

The new policy makes no such acknowledgment.

I for one welcome our new Orwellian older sibling overlords! USA! USA!

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Reboot Trauma

Like a lot of folks who run Linux, I often go months between reboots. Usually, that makes me feel all spiffy and great, but sometimes it means that I've forgotten something important along the way that will bite me when I least expect it to. Today, as you have probably guessed by now, was one of the latter sort.

I use Synergy pretty heavily here at work to share one keyboard and mouse between my Gentoo and WIn2k machines; I absolutely adore it, and it's been a huge productivity booster for me. At this point, with my current setup, I don't think I could live without it. However, it does have a small tendency to freak out every now and then, causing your mouse pointer to get lost in the cold, dark ether, and not to reappear without restarting X. Generally it's not a big deal to fix--I just switch over to a text console and do /etc/init.d/xdm restart and I'm back in business (minus the state of my workspace). Today, though, trying to switch over into console land locked up the whole machine; based on the graphical noise that got introduced to the display when it died, I think the framebuffer may have been upset about things, causing the kernel to disappear in a puff of unhappiness.

I couldn't ssh into it from Win2k, so my only recourse left was a hard reset. Everything was going swimmingly until I saw this unlikely and ominous message during startup:

/dev/eth0 does not exist!

Now, this Linux box is a P3 450, almost six years old, so at this point I'm starting to be a little concerned about hardware starting to fail, which is something I just don't have time for this week. Panic started to sink in as I ran down the options of what might be wrong; obviously, the kernel wasn't seeing my card, but I hadn't touched the kernel in six months or more. How could it have been working all that time if it wasn't "right"? What could possibly have changed since my last reboot?

It dawned on me finally that I'd recently gotten the 2005.1 baselayout update. Which had overwritten my /etc/modules.autoload.d/kernel-2.6 file. Which I hadn't thought was an issue, because I usually compile in everything that I will need on a daily basis. Except, apparently, for my NIC, which for some inexplicable reason had been compiled as a module. I'm sure that, back in February or whenever I rolled it that it seemed like a brilliant idea, but it's pretty freaking daft in retrospect.

A one-line change later, I am back in business and feeling pretty dumb about the entire thing.

So, kids, today's lessons are:

  • Be extra careful when you apply a baselayout update
  • If you need a driver all the time, compile it straight into the kernel so that you don't forget it later on
  • /dev/eth0 does not exist? Check out your /etc/modules.autoload.d/kernel-2.6 file!
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Potentially Important Things to Remember

If you use Apple's for your email, and you are in the process of switching accounts around (because, for example, Case disables your wife's POP/IMAP access), do not under any circumstances remove the account from Mail!

It very cheerfully removes not only your login information and account settings (not so bad), it also whacks all folders that belong to that account (inbox, sent messages, and so forth). Without even mentioning to you that, "Oh, hey, it looks like you have 600+ messages that you're about to delete as a side effect, are you sure you're down with that?" That is what I will politely refer to as "poor user experience." I have some really fun impolite things to call it too, but relatively few of them are printable.

Luckily, Symantec's Norton Utilities for Mac OS X managed to recover what looks like everything from a message standpoint, though it looks like attached documents are pretty much hosed. They are also good sports and have a very generous "previous customer" discount (I call saving 50% to be pretty decent) that I will be sending off for.

At least I got Liz's email (pretty much) back.

Let this be a lesson to thee, O users and designers of software!

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