11 December 2007 - 18:02How to fix the permissions for wordpress

Go into the httpdocs directory as root and run: chgrp -R psaserv *

This will fix the permissions so apache can write to my files. The right way is to create a new wordpress group and put both me and apache in it but I need Russell to do it and he isn’t. Note to all and sundry: This is for kangry.com only, don’t take it is a way to fix things for you.

No Comments | Tags: meta, site admin

26 November 2007 - 14:42Goodbye, Si gone

Last tuesday night the guy came by with a bank check for the balance of the $8000 sale price of my Civic. The next day he was planning to register it and get plates, then take it away. While I was in the city getting my visa for India (at the not-at-all-ironically-named Indian visa outsourcing agency), he called and said there was a problem. The DMVneeded my signature on their official bill of sale rather than just the note I had written. I was sort of willing to come back to Westchester rather than hang around the city all day waiting for my visa to be ready, but he said he would drive to another DMV and see if they were more reasonable. Later I got a message saying that “he got it taken care of, don’t ask how.” Probably he just forged my signature. Though I may have suggested that myself, I intend to take him at his word and not ask.

It’s strange to come home and not see the car in my driveway. I hope his son enjoys it as much as I did.

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12 November 2007 - 0:50Just like learning to swim

The confirmation of Michael Mukasey as attorney general gave me an idea. I propose that waterboarding be used as a regular part of the senate confirmation process. Mukasey hardly answered any questions and waterboarding should remedy this situation in the future. Surely if it’s important to get information out of people who may be plotting to take over or destroy our country, it is just as important to get it out of those who already have are plotting to run it.

1 Comment | Tags: idea, politics

8 November 2007 - 15:27My old Civic Si is for sale

Civic SiI just listed my first ever item on Craigslist, my old Honda Civic Si. Check it out.

Update 4:43PM November 16: Tuesday evening a guy and his son came to look at the car. The kid took it for a drive while I shot the breeze with John and his business partner for a while. Yesterday they gave me a $500 check as a deposit on an $8000 offer. I should have tried Craigslist a full year ago.

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5 November 2007 - 12:47A little experiment

So after three weeks this blog still isn’t showing up when you google for “John A. Smolin blog.” If you search for that in quotes you get nothing. Without the quotes the top three links are http://golem.ph.utexas.edu/category/2007/02/this_weeks_finds_in_mathematic_7.html, http://www.stevens.edu/csw/cgi-bin/blogs/scientific_curmudgeon/ and http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=68, which are all blogs about Lee Smolin’s book, and which happen to mention someone named “John.”

So let’s see if adding links to those makes this site even harder to find or if it might accidentally show up despite Google’s best efforts to find those other blogs.

Update 10:47AM November 6: Now searching for the quoted string finds me. Does anybody know how to get WordPress to automatically date updates without making a whole new post?

No Comments | Tags: blogging, meta

3 November 2007 - 18:02It was Earth all along

The BE-2350 CPU turned out to be fine. I bought a new CPU which the MSI tech support guy said ought to work even with the oldest BIOS (AMD Ahlon 64 3200+ Orleans 2000 MHZ $46) and still nothing worked. Finally, I was going to try booting off the old IDE hard drive I had in an old computer (which I think is 9GB and has Windows 95 on it) and just listen to see if the drive spins or quits. I had the bright idea to test that machine first, which would also serve to retest the monitor. Sure enough, same strange clicking sound and no display. I tested the monitor with the thinkpad again and it still worked.

So I brought the old computer into the lab and plugged it into a different monitor. Booted up fine, displayed fine. Who knew a multisync monitor could work with some VGA cards and not others? In my garage I had Jim’s old computer and monitor dated 1999. I was sure it couldn’t be a VGA monitor, looked more like the machine was a 286 perhaps EGA era. But it was a VGA. Coincidentally, Jim came by yesterday (after four and a half years) to take all his stuff that was stored here. He ended up leaving the computer (Russell and I are charged with saving the data from it or chucking it, at our discretion). So today I tried the old monitor and the new machine boots up fine.

It happened that the new CPU was in the motherboard when I began today, so I updated the BIOS on the board without bothering to see if it would have worked with the BE-2350 and the old BIOS. The only other trouble I had was that the machine wouldn’t boot with both memory slots full (with either set of RAM) until I put back the 3200+ CPU, then switched them again. I don’t know why that worked, perhaps I just got lucky reseating the RAM enough times.

No Comments | Tags: Computers

29 October 2007 - 0:42Bad AMD BE-2350 processor?

I’m currently building a computer: Parts list:

  • MSI K9AGM2-L motherboard ($51)
  • AMD BE-2350 CPU (45 watts dual processor) ($86)
  • 2 Samsung 500GB drives ($110 each)
  • ANTEC NSK-2480 case with 380 watt 80+ certified power supply ($83)
  • 2 GB DDR800 A-DATA RAM (2 sticks so the double data rate can go full speed) ($61)
  • Lite-On 20X DVD burner ($35)
  • Gigabyte 7200GS PCI-E ($29) video card (fastest one with no fan I could find)
  • Scythe CPU Mini Ninja cooler (huge, may work with no fan since the CPU will be next to a case fan) ($30)
  • BTC 9019URFIII wireless keyboard ($43)

The problem is the thing just won’t boot. I get either one long or two short beeps (it’s hard to tell) and the monitor makes a bad clicking noise not sinking up. First I thought it was a bad monitor–I borrowed it from work and had no evidence it was working. So I checked it with a laptop and it works fine. Next I called MSI and they said the memory I have might be wrong. It is the right type but not tested with that motherboard. I took some RAM that is known to be good and to be compatible from my computer at work. I was sure that would fix it but still nothing. Next I ordered another motherboard. Still no good. New power supply–nothing. Tomorrow I will see about RMAing the CPU. That’s all that’s left. I am still worried that the motherboard is simply not compatible with the CPU even though the MSI website says it is. It only claims it will work with the latest version of their BIOS. I have no way to determine the BIOS version or update it without a CPU that works. Plus, the time is running out on various parts’ 30 day return policies. I consider it all a learning experience.

No Comments | Tags: Computers

22 October 2007 - 12:05Thomas Friedman and Cliff Clavin–Separated at Birth?

Thomas FriedmanCliff Clavin

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20 October 2007 - 13:48Randomized reassignment of children

… and no parent is to know his own child, nor any child his parent. — Plato, 360 B.C.

Ok, when someone pointed out this idea of mine goes back 2400 years to Plato I felt a bit late to the party, but in good company. I had the thought when I had heard one too many times the “conservative” (feel the air quotes) idea that everyone stars off equal and the best rise to the top, while the same people push for elimination of the inheritance tax (the so-call “death tax”).

Obviously in our society (and probably all societies) children born into rich families have a huge leg up on those that aren’t. The true conservative ideal would be for everyone to start out really equal–i.e. a 100% inheritance tax. Thinking further, I had the idea of random reassignment of babies. All babies born in a certain period are simply given to other parents who also had babies during the same period. This has several good effects, to which no conservative should object, and which are universally appealing liberal values:

First, it serves to remove the inherent inequity of the correlation between genetics and inherited wealth. Secondly, it will reduce racist tendencies–any parent can end up with children of any race. Finally, imagine parents who for whatever reason are more interested in the well-being of their genetic offspring than of the children they are charged with raising. Since they cannot find their biological children, all they can do to improve their lot is to promote the general welfare, making sure there are things like good public education and health care.

A modification of this plan could also include parents unable to have children. The randomization also in effect isolating the chance of not having children from the biological inability to produce them. And unwanted children can be placed into the pool as well, automatically taking care of adoption.

I have found, despite the Platonic pedigree of this idea, that it is unpopular among those with children, and that it is quite unwise to try to discuss it with expectant mothers. But then, I am perhaps not wise.

No Comments | Tags: idea, politics

17 October 2007 - 11:45Migraine

Took my car in to be serviced–inspection and some recall work. Mazda arranged for a rental car which sounded convenient. Not so much. The guy from Enterprise took forever to show up, then drove me back to the Enterprise place, did some paperwork, inspected the car. Then had to go back and get the right keys. Then went to put some gas in it, which turned out to be a quarter of a tank. If he was going to waste my time filling it up at least fill the thing up. Developed a migraine driving to work. Perhaps keeping track of them will prove useful. Ugh.

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