Thursday, 23 August 2007

How to leave New Orleans 30 hours before a hurricane

If you’re as confused by the state’s evacuation map as I was when I first looked at it, this website is for you.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

OTB Radio tonight

I’m appearing on OTB Radio tonight in about 55 minutes, talking about Michael Vick, the latest electoral college shenanigans, and why Americans don’t read (or something like that); you can listen in here during the show or catch a replay any time at the same link.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Syllabus fun

Via Ralph Luker: a warning on plagiarism from Dan Todman that begins thusly:

In 1641, William Ward, a Catholic priest, was executed in London:

He hanged till he was dead for he was ript whilst he did hang & being cut downe his members being cut off & cast into the fire, the Executioner ript him up and tooke his heart & threwe it into the fire which lept out againe & no man toucht it till the Executioner a goodwhile after threwe it in againe, his head and quarters were brought backe to Newgate & boyled & are to be set upon 4 gates of the Citty. (1)

Anybody who could inflict this sort of suffering and despoliation on another human being was plainly motivated by enormous passion, anger and fear. Yet most historians would consider this too light a punishment for those found guilty of plagiarism.

It almost seems Old Testament enough to fit in my southern politics syllabus, the latest iteration of which is online here (how’s that for a segué?).

I’m still working on my Introduction to Politics syllabus, but finishing that—and all the rest of the ambitions I had for a productive day—went down the tubes when I got stuck trying to diagnose why my office computer keeps hanging up completely. What I’ve figured out so far:

  • It happens in both Windows and Linux, unpredictably.
  • The computer spits out a bunch of weird USB errors on startup in Linux.
  • I originally thought it had something to do with my USB KVM switch (how I switch my keyboard, mouse, and monitor between the Dell junker provided by Tulane and my computer that actually has the power to do anything beyond web browsing), but I didn’t hit the switch the last time it crashed.
  • I don’t think it’s the hard drives. Diagnostics on them have turned up nothing.
  • It only seems to crash in Windows or in X; I have yet to see it crash at a Linux console prompt (which would probably be the only way to diagnose the crash from error messages, alas).

I think it’s probably something hosed in the on-board USB controller, which probably means I’ll be investing in a new motherboard. Lucky me.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

debtorrent 0.1.4 is out

I’ve been trying out Cameron Dale’s debtorrent, a BitTorrent-based package distribution system for Debian packages, for the past few days, and while it’s been a bit rough around the edges it has worked quite well so far. Cameron has just made a new release which promises better performance all-around; I haven’t had a real opportunity to test the performance yet here, except I can say that apt-get update is markedly faster in this release.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Bridge drama

In the bad news department, the Hale Boggs Bridge on I-310 is falling apart faster than previously thought. In the good news department (sorta), LaDOTD has awarded contracts for widening the Huey P. Long Bridge, which has to be about the most terrifying bridge I’ve ever crossed as a driver in my life, not that I’m likely to be around here to see it finished.

Seeing more clearly with Clearview

While I was off the Internets, Simon Jackman took note of a New York Times Magazine article last Sunday on the typeface that’s sweeping the nation, Clearview, the replacement set of highway sign fonts which was authorized for widespread use a couple of years ago by the Federal Highway Administration after field experiments in Pennsylvania and Texas.

Clearview doesn’t seem to have caught on around these parts yet; the nearest installations I’m aware of are in Houston and a few sporadic signs in Arkansas, most notably at the rebuilt I-55/U.S. 63 interchange north of West Memphis.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Is this thing on?

I think we’re back up and running. We’ll see how this goes…

Update: Apparently, I originally spoke too soon. But now I've done what I should have done in the first place, and sprung to have Signifying Nothing hosted on a virtual private server; if the VPS seems to be working well, the rest of my web empire will follow soon enough.