Tyranny of Majority Rule

I have to say that as I look around the current political climate of the United States I see more things that I don’t like than I do like. The current attitude in most of the US is that “you’re either with us or your with the terrorists”. Any thoughts that deviate from the agenda are seen as unpatriotic and evil. Thomas Jefferson famously wrote about the tyranny of majority rule (the thought that 51% of the people could rule 49% of the people). It’s happening right now and I’m getting pretty depressed about it. People think that if 51% of the population doesn’t care about civil liberties then the rest of us should blindly follow. I guess those people have forgotten that the Constitution applies to people in singularity and not “the majority”. After all the great document starts with “We the people” and not “We the majority”.

Last time I checked it’s my right and, some would say, my obligation to question the government and the decisions it makes if I don’t agree with them. So, the next time you tell someone that what they’re doing is “unpatriotic” or “not right” or “against God’s will” think about this: who are you to decide what is right for that person? If what they are doing isn’t personally affecting you then why the hell do you care? And, for everyone else’s sake, please don’t envoke the “our Founding Fathers are rolling over in their graves” defense.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Let’s destruct this famous quote by Thomas Jefferson. First off he says “their Creator”, which oddly enough, isn’t “God”. Even over 200 years ago Jefferson was intelligent enough to recognize that not everone believed in a single creator. Also, note those two crazy words at the end of the quote: “Liberty” and “Happiness”. I really like those words. I particularily like “Happiness”. Jefferson, I think, is recognizing the fact that the world is full of all sorts of different people and that each one defines that word differently. Some people define happiness as a day at the park, others define it as hating a specific race and dressing up in white sheets. The point is that, no matter what makes you happy, you have a right to be happy, though I think we all understand that you can’t tread on other peoples’ “self-evident” and “unalienable” Rights.

My point? My point is, that if you don’t like my point you are free to click the Back button or close your browser window, or simply browse to google.com and look for something that defines happiness for you.

RPU – Random Personal Update

So, Joe, what have you been up to? Well, other than mourning the loss of my RAID array, I’ve been working some late hours. I’ve been working on a small side project, which has led to some late hours. I’m also working on preparing for a major site revamp at enotes.com. At this very moment I’m cleaning up an old web server in preparation of turning it into a replication server.

Lauren and I have decided to start taking Chinese this fall at one of the local community colleges. My motives for this differ from hers. We both want to learn Chinese before our anticipated trip to the 2008 Summer Olympics. I also want to learn Chinese because 20% of the world speaks Chinese and I fully expect that China will quickly join the ranks of “Super Power” along with the United States within the next 20 years or so.

We have also been looking into what it is involved with migrating to another country. I’m not sure it would be a permanent move, but both of us are extremely interested in living abroad for a few years. Top on our list is Australia, which would avoid the whole language barrier. It’s all very tentative and wouldn’t happen for another five years or so, but it’s exciting to think about.

Backups / Failed RAID Array

So, you’re really cool. You’ve set up a huge RAID1 array on your server. You sleep at night knowing that the chances of losing two disks before you can rebuild the array is pretty small. And then on a nice cool Monday morning your systems administrator tells you that a drive in the array has failed. You order a replacement and have it sent overnight. On Tuesday night the systems administrator calls you with the worst possible news; the second drive is failing and the array has not been rebuilt. You frantically try everything you can; upgrade the kernel, check for bad ram, fsck the hard drives. All provide no solution. Your data, it appears, is lost forever.

You assess the situation. You, personally, have lost 3 years of email. A client of yours has lost a database application with about 80GB of data. Other clients have lost various amounts of email as well. Sound like something that doesn’t happen? Think again. It happened to me this week. I’ve learned my lesson: never trust RAID. It doesn’t matter how many drives you have, never trust the array. So what are my options?

  1. Drink heavily to dull the pain.
  2. Contact a hard drive recover operation and find out what your options are.

It looks like it’s going to cost me $100 to get the drive evaluated. If they can recover any of the files off the drive they will send me a list of files and a solid quote (which will be between $500 and $2400). I should know by the end of next week as to what the outcome of the evaluation is. I can’t afford $2400, but I’d think long and hard about the $500. I didn’t even know that such places exist, but if it works it will be a total life saver.

93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster. 50% of businesses that found themselves without data management for this same time period filed for bankruptcy immediately.

Needless to say I’ve spent a lot of time over the last couple of days setting up rsync scripts to back up email, databases and web folders. I first rsync database dumps, mail and web folders into the user’s home directory. I then rsync my own directories and other important directories down to my 300GB firewire hard drive.

If I end up doing the disk recovery service I’ll post a review to the site and let everyone know how it goes.

Goodbye Anthony "hole in neck" Fedorov

Well, sanity has finally returned to American Idol. We are now down to the top three contestants after Anthony Fedorov was finally ousted. Looking back at who I chose to be American Idol finalists, I’d say I did pretty good in picking two out of three.

I called Bo Brice and Carrie Underwood as possible finalists. Luckily, I was totally wrong about Mikalah Gordon. I underestimated America’s willpower to vote against her. Also, after watching Anwar I’m not surprised he was voted off. Despite having an amazing voice, which I still think was one of the best voices in the competition, his performances were a complete snoozefest.

Out of the three finalists we now have I could care less who wins. I think they are all great. Bo doesn’t have the strongest voice out of the three, but he’s clearly the best performer. Carrie and Vonzell have amazing voices, but I expect Vonzell will edge Carrie out if it were to come down to those two.

Real ID Act

The federal government is going to be voting on emergency funding for the troops, which is a good thing. I’m sure they could use the money. The real concern I have is the Real ID Act that has been added as a rider to this bill. This bill would require the following information to be present on your drivers license and available via a “common machine-readable technology” (most likely RFID tags that allow scanners to read such information wirelessly from up to 30 feet away):

  1. The person’s full legal name.
  2. The person’s date of birth.
  3. The person’s gender.
  4. The person’s driver’s license or identification card number.
  5. A digital photograph of the person.
  6. The person’s address of principle residence.
  7. The person’s signature.
  8. Physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes.
  9. A common machine-readable technology, with defined minimum data elements.

This is a complete victory for identification thieves who will now be able to glean such information with a quick scan of your drivers license. Everything they need to assume your identity is stored, digitally, on a little piece of plastic that thousands of people lose daily and everyone hands over to a total stranger at least once a day. It’s not too late to fight this bill. You can fax your Senators at UnRealID.com and you can also mail Congressment Sensenbrenner at sensenbrenner@mail.house.gov. Below is my email to him (feel free to copy and paste and send this to your senators).

Dear Congressmen Sensenbrenner,

I’m emailing from the state of Washington with my concerns over your Real ID Act. The bill states that a drivers license must contain my full legal name, date of birth, gender, license number, digital photo of myself, my principle address (not a PO BOX or work address) and my signature. This means anyone with a camera phone will have more than enough information with a quick click of the shutter. It makes me quite uneasy to know that many judges, cops and women could have such information readily available to stalkers, rapists and other criminals.

To make matters worse you have required a common machine-readable technology, which would be decided upon by the Dept. of Homeland Security. From what I have read they are leaning towards the use of RFID technology, which would make such identification cards easily readable with the proper equipment (which is quite affordable) from anyone within 30 feet of my person.

The centralized database also concerns me. This would, essentially, give the darker element of the internet a single point of access to enough personal information to wreak total havoc in the area of identification theft.

Please, reconsider this disastrous piece of legislation.


Joseph C. Stump

The worst part is they plan on linking all of the state databases together into a centralized location. I give it a year, maybe two, before some hacker/cracker hacks his/her way into the database and hase enough information to, literally, hold the public hostage.

UPDATE: I just got an email back from a good friend who works on The Hill with regards to the Real ID Act.

It will be law sometime in the near future. The Senate is considering the supplemental appropriations conference report that contains Real ID. It’s a conference report, so it cannot be amended in any way. It will likely be on the president’s desk sometime in a the next week or

Sounds rather bleak, but it shouldn’t stop you from faxing/emailing/calling your Senators.

Vegas or Bust (Mostly Bust)

Let me first say that Vegas pretty much rules. Where else can you go and eat all the shrimp and New York steak you can handle for $10.99? Where else can you play 25 cent hands of video poker and get fed free drinks all night? I had a great time playing craps with Julia and Garren and video poker with Keith. However, travel to and from on this trip has stunk.

On the flight out here I was delayed two hours. Not a big deal since it was a direct fligh. However, on the way back it has been a totally different story. I sit here writing this post in the D terminal while waiting for a flight back to Seattle. If this story had happened to anyone else I’d be laughing, so feel free.

1:30PM – Having a 5:00 fligh and having heard that security and lines at Las Vegas can be a horrific experience, I decide to leave the Monte Carlo early for the airport.

1:45PM – I arrive at the airport to find out that my cab does not, for some reason, accept credit cards. After a frantic search for an ATM I get some cash and find my cabby, thankfully, waiting for his fare.

1:55PM – After a few failed attempts at the automated check-in station I am forced to wait in a long line for a real person to check me into my flight.

2:20PM – Arrive in security line and manage to get through security without any difficulties. I’ve learned to: a.) not wear a belt to the airport, b.) wear flip-flops and c.) stow my cell phone, wallet, watch, etc. in my carry one BEFORE getting in the security line.

2:40PM – Sit down to read my magazines, check email and call my Mom to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day.

4:40PM – On the way back from the bathroom I notice my plane is delayed an hour, which means I’ll be missing my connection flight from Phoenix to Seattle.

4:50PM – Stand in line at the courtesy desk and find out that I’ve been booked on an Alaskan Airlines direct flight (yay!) that leaves from Las Vegas at 11:10PM (boo!). It gets better, I’m only “booked” and have yet to get a “seat assignment”, which means I must leave the secured area to go to Alaskan Airlines’ ticket counter to get a seat assignment. This, of course, means I have to go BACK through security.

5:00PM – Make my way to the Alaskan Airlines ticket counter and get a seating assignment. As I’m grabbing the ticket from the counter person’s hand, her manager comes over and announces “Do NOT sell any more to America West.” Thankfully, I had already gotten my ticket, but if I had shown up 2 minutes later I’d have been out of luck.

5:10PM – Get back into the security line and find out that I’ve been marked for “special screening” and directed to another line. Am I fuming at this point? You bet. I get in the “special screening” line and check out my fellow terrorists: two small girls and their mom, a middle aged couple and me. Damn, and I left my turbin at home.

5:40PM – After going through not one, but two different scanners and having my bags completely searched, I finally start making my way to my gate. Oh joy, I get to take a tram over to the other side of the airport.

6:00PM – Hunker down for what will be about a five hour delay. The only bright spot being that there is free WiFi at my gate.

9:00PM – Find out my 11:10PM flight has been delayed until 1:15AM.

5:21AM – Finally arrive home and promptly pass out.

I wouldn’t be so pissed if America West had made some token gesture. Maybe a food coupon for a free dinner? Anything to at least attempt to make up for having me go through the security line twice, barely get a ticket on the next flight and then wait six hours in all to get back home. The best part? You guessed it, I have to pay a cab to get home as my wife will be sound asleep by the time I get home, which I’m hoping will be around 3:00AM Monday morning.


Let me be the first to say that Tiger isn’t as great as everyone is saying it is. In fact, the only reason to upgrade that I can see is Spotlight and the new Mail.app. Supposedly it’s supposed to be faster, but I haven’t noticed any increase in speed on my 1GHz/768MB PowerBook. This could be due to me merely upgrading instead of doing a clean install. So what have I noticed that doesn’t have me roaring over Tiger? (C’mon, an entire review without using a tiger cliche?)

  1. If you have lots of email in Mail.app currently, watch out. The import into the new version of Mail.app barfed on one of my folders, which I had to delete in order for it to finish importing my email (about 25,000 emails). After that was over the fun had just begun. Every time I clicked on a message Mail crashed. After a reboot and some tinkering I finally got it working, but this left a really bad taste in my mouth.
  2. If you’ve been mucking around the UNIX settings then you need to watch out. The upgrade process appears to have modified, updated or simply deleted many of my changes from files such as /etc/profile and some of my VIM syntax files. Quite annoying.
  3. Spotlight is slow. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with me not doing a clean install or not, but it’s not the “lightning fast” that Apple purports it to be. Also, unless I’m a retard (which is likely) it matches “any” of the search terms and doesn’t allow you to specify that documents must match “all” of the search terms. Quite annoying. Also, while at the BASH prompt I can’t cd into a Smart Folder. This, simply, sucks. If I created a Smart Folder for “Word Documents” it should act like a regular folder, which would allow me to create intelligent backups and use rsync to back them up. This definitely sucks for people like me who use scp to move files from computer to computer.

So are there any things that I do like? Yeah, there are a few. I don’t think Apple touted the new Mail application enough. It’s, quite simply, a great upgrade. How did I live without Smart Folders before? I’ve added Smart Folders for “Today”, “Yesterday”, “Flagged” and “Pictures”,
which let me quickly find emails matching those criteria.

Also, Dashboard is a welcome addition for me. A lot of people, including me, ranted about it being a rip-off of Konfabulator. The thing I like about Dashboard is that a quick keystroke lets me see time, AirPort status, a dictionary, Wikipedia, etc. I’m totally addicted to browsing Wikipedia articles in this fashion. Could someone please offer a PHP/MySQL lookup module?

I think Apple would have gotten a LOT more fanfare if they had waited a few months and released the new version of iLife with Tiger. As it stands, the two major upgrades (Spotlight and Dashboard) are great additions, but probably shouldn’t have stood on their own as the main reason to upgrade.

Call from mom in Iraq nets a 10 day suspension

In celebration of my new category, “Stupid Schools”, I have a story about a student who was suspended for 10 days for refusing to hang up a call from his mom in Iraq. Granted it was during school hours, but give me a break. They say they suspended him because he used profanities and became beligerant when asked to end the phone call.

“When a kid becomes out of control like that they can either be arrested or suspended for 10 days. Now being that his mother is in Iraq, we’re not trying to cause her any undue hardship; he was suspended for 10 days.”

They act like they did him a favor. The real travesty would be if his parents grounded him over getting suspended (or would that be irony?).

Restarting the Dock in OS X

The problem is that when your Dock freezes in OS X it can be difficult to get to programs to restart it or anything pretty much. Luckily, when mine froze today I had a Term open and this is how I restarted it without having to power down my damn computer.

jstump$ ps auxw | grep Dock
jstump  3231   0.0  0.5   169272   4204  ??  S     9:48AM
 0:04.75 /System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/MacOS/Dock -psn_0
jstump  6868   0.0  0.0    18644     92 std  R+   11:45AM
0:00.00 grep Dock
jstump$ kill -HUP 3231

The second field in ps‘s output is the pid for that process (Process ID). Using kill we can restart the Dock without crashing everything. You’ll see your Dock disappear for a second and reappear in working form a second later.