The week before last (before my job started) I spent the whole week on a quest for religious knowledge, starting from a post syndicated to Indyblogs (the Indymedia site) about Wicca, describing the “debate” between those who choose that religion after seeing The Craft or Charmed reruns on TBS, and those who actually research the stuff. The most hilarious was Why Wiccans Suck, which reminded me of some old comic strippage on s*p [insert secret-identity conspiracy theory here]. The bent of the pages on that site seems to be that most people who claim to be witches aren’t really witches, they’re just doing it to piss off Significant OthersTM and/or other Authority FiguresTM, don’t know much about the religion itself, it’s history, traditions, and most importantly, it’s RulesTM.
Of course, I’ve heard all this before, from fundamentalist/conservative Christian preachers and radio/televangelists, talking about the modernist/liberal groups (Methodists, Unitarians, the Jesus Seminar). My main problem with Christianity is that the whole religion seems to be overrun with fundamentalist wackos like an army of Taliban enforcers, albeit cloaked in suits and part-on-the-left Aryan master(bater) blonde hair. Thus, it’s hiliarious to me that some Pagans believe their religion isn’t fundamentalist enough, and is overrun by those who don’t take it seriously. To be fair to the WWS site, I don’t think that blending religion and politics is ever a good idea, no matter what the religion and/or politics is, and it does irritate me that people whom I would otherwise respect say things and use terminology they don’t understand or haven’t fully thought through, particularly terms that I happen to have an affinity for (like “Freedom” and “Anarchy“).
Nevertheless, “There aren’t enough people who take it seriously” is about as close to a ringing endorsement of a religion as I’ve ever found.
Then last week, it was on to the new job. I spent the first day helping my boss piddling around with a broken wireless setup out on a farm, ultimately determining that the problem was an embedded Linux/wireless thing — somehow the box managed to delete it’s firmware. Ugh. When the start of the day came around, I thought it would be a quick, uneventful trip to watch the stuff in action, followed by some faint web design/PHP back at work. Silly rabbit, it’s a 6-hour (including the drive) wrangle with a network in the middle of nowhere strung together by a third party, who shall henseforth be know as the Mad Tin-Foil Hatter. I mean, come on, what’s the point of locking down the AP with a MAC-address list when:
- It is already using WEP.
- You’re in the middle of Farm Country, USA, and the closest thing to “civilization” is a small state-college (town) a dozen miles away.
- The network isn’t complete (like every other network, ever).
- You aren’t going to document that fact in your notes.
Anyhow, after trying to figure out why the Windows laptop wouldn’t connect for about an hour, I got mine (in OS X, because “Broadcom built a software radio rather than just a wireless card. FCC regulations stop them releasing the source in case people use it as a software radio” — which is the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard), which actually gives useful error messages (e.g. “This wireless access point has an ACL, which you aren’t on”) instead of the utterly useless crap Windows spews — for the NetworkManager crowd, please do make the wireless error messages meaningful. Aaanyways, after adding a second AP to see if it was simply some screwy compatibility problem with the AP, it turns out that the wireless stuff we had Just Wasn’t WorkingTM.
The rest of the week was spent on designing/implementing a PHP web-app for accessing a whole slew of PDF-format documentation. Previously, if someone from the company went out to a site they needed to bring the docs for everything they needed to work on, often stuff that my employer didn’t sell them or install. If there was something there that wasn’t notified, it required a cell-phone call to the office where someone would go sloughing through a huge physical 3-ring binder to find the appropriate document. The end goal is to have it accessible via a website or an XML-RPC interface from the PDAs the on-site people slog around with them.
The main goal was to get it (barely) functional so I could worry about the design (and teach myself how to actually do a web-app stuff in the meantime). The major hurdle in doing a web app is recognizing that it is not a native app, and cannot ever totally be a native app. A web app (from the server side) is effectively an application which must do everything in one procedural shot, and then must start over from scratch for the next page. About the only ray of sunshine is that the languages for web-apps (ASP, PHP, Perl) eliminate much of the bullshit (read: manual memory management) for languages typically used for native apps (C/C++).
Anyways, this coming week I get to rework that thingie to not be a hack, and work on a SQL-to-PDF thing for the ISO-9000 wankers, who are demanding that the same document (content) printed years from now must look the same as though it were printed today, regardless of the fact that there is no “document” per-se, just a bunch of fields in a database that get collated into an HTML page, which makes printouts subject to the whims of the browser coders. That insanity requires PDFs, and since it’s possible for people to want to print out and/or upload hundreds of these “documents” at once, generation on-the-fly (either at INSERT or SELECT time) is impractical, requiring a cron job to periodically poll the database for new entries and start generating/caching PDFs for them in the background.
You may remember ISO-9000 from the late-night “Bureaucrats Gone Wild” video series.
Lastly, while taking the Debian Quiz (scored a 48%, though Question #24, on the number of times Braden “Cup of Shut the Fuck Up” Robinson ran for DPL is actually scored incorrectly — he ran five times, and lost four of the five, but they make “4” the right answer), I found hot-babe. Why was I not informed that a pixie-ish naked blonde hottie could show up on my desktop when something is eating it’s young/infinite looping/frying my CPU? Where are all the demands for accountability? Why is there no investigation as to why I was not informed of this purple-bra-clad activity monitor?