Just to put things in perspective...

(Personal)

2005-10-20 22:49
Comments [3]

Dying young: Not as romantic as it sounds. save-allan.org.

Allan’s still dying. Ironically, although Medicaid turned him down because he “might” die in surgery, it turns out that he will die without it.

Against this backdrop, the crap we get from junk fax lawyers (forged documents, blowing off court orders, etcetera) has really started to fade into insignificance. I mean, it’s still funny, but nothing’s quite as funny when your friend is dying and there’s not much you can do about it.

I mean, hell, we all know he might not live through a lung transplant. But you gotta try. Giving up easily makes for a really short game that you always lose.

I know it’s easy, on the internet, to dismiss these things, because we all see so many of them. This one’s different for me. I’ve known Allan for years. Early on, all I knew was that he spent a lot of time commenting on how he was logged in “from the hospital”, and he spent a lot of time online because he couldn’t do much else. It wasn’t until a year or so back that I found out why he spends so much time in the hospital. Allan’s imminent death has been on the horizon for a long time. There was a brief spurt of hope when the UNC hospital expressed interest in trying to save him. They think they can do it; they have taken other cases like this. But while most insurance would think that “certain death without treatment” is a good basis for treatment, Medicaid apparently doesn’t, and if you have Cystic Fibrosis, it’s pretty hard to get any other health care.

Anyway… There you have it. A new banner to copy and put up all over the place.

Peter Seebach

Comments [3]

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Two steps forward, one step back.

(Personal)

2005-10-17 19:42
Comments [1]

Okay, so, I reorganized my office. (I’m still working on it, some, every day.)

I am ready to admit defeat. Every time I finally get a surface clear, THIS happens:

Cat on desk

No, really. It’s gotten ridiculous.

Cat on shelf

Okay, I sorta cheated; I put Maya up on the shelf, to see what she’d do. What she’d do is stay long enough for me to get a couple of pictures, and peer down curiously at the desk cat. The desk cat is naturally-occurring and bites me when I try to pet him.

Peter Seebach

Comments [1]

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Why a Greyhound bus is acceptable blues transportation

(Personal)

2005-10-13 21:56
Comments

As you may be aware, a Greyhound bus may be acceptable blues transportation.

Here’s why.

I think what got me was that the guy behind the counter apparently casually confirmed that probably someone at the depot stole the missing stuff. (No, it didn’t “fall out”; some of the stuff that was in a box was left, even though the box is gone.) The stuff covered with mold is hard to make sense of, and we’re talking con prep, supplies, and so on that cost many hundreds of dollars to make.

In short, the reason that a Greyhound bus is blues transportation is that they will give you the blues.

Take no Greyhound bus. Your sanity is worth more than that.

Peter Seebach

Comments

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Reorganizing my office

(Personal)

2005-10-13 01:28
Comments [1]

Okay, so, I just spent, get this, roughly a whole week cleaning my office.

The original occasion of this was a friend offering me a desk. The desk is wonderful for my purposes, but I had no room, so I said “sure”, and figured I’d use it as an excuse to do a little cleaning. A little. Hah!

Here’s the new desk: (each pic is a link to a larger pic)
my new desk

What you can’t quite see in this picture is that the desk has an odd quirk; the back corner is lopped off. It’s like a corner desk for rooms with no corners; oddly, my office is such a room, with a corner lopped off at nearly the same angle. Not quite the same angle, though, leaving me room for a floor lamp behind it. I added a fluorescent light fixture to the desk, which is why the monitor is so overexposed. Computers visible in this picture:

  • A Dell Dimension 600 which I got free a while back. I put some parts in it so I can run it, but I’m not sure what to do with it.
  • A Sparc Ultra 10 (on the floor). There just because it can run Solaris 10.
  • Compaq iPAQ “network appliance” (the weird foldy white machine on the shelf), an AMD-based machine with 32 MB of memory, 16MB of flash, and a CF slot. Intended to run a crippled version of Windows CE, reloaded with NetBSD. The display is 800×600.
  • Compaq iPAQ hx4700, a handheld with more memory, more flash, CF and SD slots, wireless, and a 600Mhz processor. The display is only 640×480, though. I got this for a Linux on Board column.
  • Sharp Zaurus 5600 and C700 handhelds.
  • Kuro Box
  • TAMS 3011 single-board computer, in box with add-on hardware.
  • MediaMVP PPC-based Linux media player
  • Soekris net4801 embedded board, tricked out with extra com port, wireless card and antennae, and so on. Had to have the box custom-altered to do this. (I also have a net4521 somewhere around the house, but I can’t find it at the moment.)
  • Technologic TS5500, with TS9500 graphics card.

Under the desk are a number of banker’s boxes full of cables, computer parts, etcetera. Detangling the huge pile of cables and parts I had lying around took most of two days. It had gotten silly. I am convinced, by the way, that it would be for the best for our species if products that need USB cables would stop providing them; to make a long story short, I have about 60 unused USB and FireWire cables. Maybe more. Note also the bookshelf full of theology books (yes, those are all theology books in the bookshelf to the right of the desk), and the large wire shelf completely covered with tools and hardware. (In my defense, I successfully repaired a sink, a toilet, and two computers within the last day. These are real tools.)

Here’s one of my old desks, recently cleaned up:

my small old desk

The printer on top of the desk is my Canon i9900. It is the best printer ever. This printer kicks so much ass that no single land mammal can stand before it.

The visible computer is the Mac Mini (with the Tick toy on it). The monitor stand is a Tandy speaker thing with a primitive subwoofer I picked up something like ten years ago for my Amiga; it is now on a machine that is actually less than half its size by volume!

Below the desk you can also see bits of two machines; the frankenstein monster 3Ghz Pentium 4HT which used to be my Windows/Linux dual-boot machine (it’s currently in the doghouse for being loud), and a monstrous tower which is a dual-processor 1Ghz P3 box. The latter will probably be resurrected; it needs new CPU fans and a fast SCSI drive to be happy. Long ago, it was one of the Plethora servers, until it crashed a lot and we had to take it out. (Later, I found convincing evidence that the computer was stable, and the problem was that our laser-printer fax was overloading a UPS when it spun up; so, in fact, it was taken down by junk faxers. Can you believe these people?)

Off to the right is a bookshelf covered with CDs and DVDs. Computer ones only. I spent a great deal of time winnowing my collection, and threw out at least 100 irrelevant or obsolete CDs. That leaves me with probably 400-500 computer games, operating systems, applications, and so on, on original CDs. Below that are a few hundred blank CDs and DVDs. (No, not for warez. My car stereo plays MP3s, and I use DVDs for backups.)

We’re not done, of course.

my big old desk

Here you see the G5 tower, my eMachines box, and my laptop. The laptop lives its life as a desktop mostly; it lives in a docking station. The left monitor is a second display on the Mac, the right monitor is on the KVM switch. The cables under the desk include the wiring to hook up a fourth machine to the KVM. Also visible are some scanners, and the Wyse 160 terminal I use as a spare console. The really weird thing on the keyboard drawer is a DataHand keyboard. (Between its components is a Kensington ExpertMouse, the best pointing device in the world. In a world of $30 trackballs, I spent $100 on that and have no regrets at all. It is that good.)

The mixer over the stereo is used to let all my computers play audio at once; KVM switches that handle audio invariably switch it instead of mixing it, which is very stupid of them.

Also visible, my Palm T3, and a Nintendo DS. Which I guess are computers.

The loose cards on the desk are a Yamaha DS2416 (a 24-channel digital mixer, tragically unsupported in Mac OS X) and an expansion card for it.

So. Given that I had only TWO desks before, and I have been throwing stuff out all week, you can see why this took a week to do. I’ve been putting this off for years. It’s not quite all done; I have a LOT of knicknacks, and I really ought to do something about them. BTW, Mac fans may recognize the distinctive small dogs on my monitor. I have a bunch of others somewhere.

Peter Seebach

Comments [1]

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StarOffice 8 on NetBSD

(GeekStuff)

2005-10-11 18:43
Comments [1]

Yes, you can run Linux StarOffice 8 on NetBSD-current. (Tested only using the SuSE 9.1 emulation stuff.) These instructions are from memory.

1. The installer won’t run. It will unpack (by default into /var/tmp/unpack_staroffice), but the script it calls won’t run.
2. You could make that script run, but it won’t work.
3. So just install the rpm files by hand, in /var/tmp/unpack_staroffice/RPMS, as root: rpm -i —force —ignorearch —ignoreos —nodeps *.rpm
4. You will get a very cryptic error from staroffice-core05u*, which has to do with a script failing. After the rpms are done:

# echo Command after installing
	
  1. searching for the PRODUCTINSTALLLOCATION for the different platforms PRODUCTINSTALLLOCATION=”/opt/staroffice8” LIBTABNAME=“libtab.so.1”

X=`perl -e “print time()+7776000”`
X=`perl -e “printf qq/ORTRTA%c%03oB%c%03oI%c%03oN%c%03oD/, 0×5c, $X>>24&0xff, 0×5c, $X>>16&0xff, 0×5c, $X>>8&0xff, 0×5c, $X&0xff”`
cat $PRODUCTINSTALLLOCATION/program/$LIBTABNAME |\
perl -pe “s/ORTRTA.B.I.N.D/$X/” > $PRODUCTINSTALLLOCATION/program/tmptab.dat
mv $PRODUCTINSTALLLOCATION/program/tmptab.dat $PRODUCTINSTALLLOCATION/program/$LIBTABNAME
chmod 444 $PRODUCTINSTALLLOCATION/program/$LIBTABNAME

This is the relevant chunk of the script, modified to actually run.

Save that script, run it (as root).

StarOffice8 is now installed. Run /opt/staroffice8/program/soffice to bring it up, put in your registration key, and so on.

For $69, you can get a license to run a program so much better than Microsoft Office as to cause me physical pain. I spent $100 to get a really super-cheap version of MS Office with my ThinkPad. You know what? I have better luck exchanging files with other users of MS Office using StarOffice than I do with that shiny, fully updated and patched, copy of Office XP. When I open some documents made in Word for Mac using Office XP on Windows, I get 14” text columns; if I reset them to actually fit on an 8.5” page, the resulting document opens with about 1/4” text columns on Word for Mac.

When I use StarOffice, it just all works.

Peter Seebach

Comments [1]

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The more we owe you, the more you owe us

(Spam)

2005-10-11 17:33
Comments [3]

Forgot to mention this gem in Source Lending’s lawsuit against my lawyer.

The damages, as stated here and in the Complaint, stem from continued litigation expense and potential liability for Mr. Seebach’s attempted class action lawsuit against Source. Far from being ‘vague and illusory’ as stated by Mr. Appelget, the damages can be measured merely by calculating trial costs and damages awarded to Mr. Seebach. These damages cannot be known until the litigation with Mr. Seebach ends; Source’s damage claims cannot be more specific until that time.

Translation: If we are liable for damages, we demand that your lawyer personally pay them.

If you were legally allowed to do things like this, or if the professional ethics of the Bar allowed them, no lawyer could file suit without facing a frivolous countersuit by the Defendant, seeking to create a conflict of interest.

Honestly, IMHO, this isn’t a question of dismissing the case; this is a case where I think law licenses should be pulled. Think about it. “If you recover damages for your client, we will demand that the court award us those damages, plus our own fees, out of your personal bank account.”

The whole basis here (and it was not pled in their original complaint) is the ludicrous claim that I sued Source, not because they were assholes, but because Mr. Appelget somehow revealed to me that, at an unknown future time, they would settle with Bob ELIDE and pay him money.

The fact is, my decision to sue was made when I found out that we had identified the senders of at least two of my dozens of unsolicited mortgage faxes. The other fact is, when Source filed frivolous counterclaims against ELIDE and accused him of “extortion”, I became convinced that they were genuinely bad actors, willfully subverting the legal system to try to escape the liability they face for their unlawful actions. This has been confirmed by their latest gimmick.

Frankly, I am shocked that such an argument could have made it into any document signed by a lawyer. This is a threat, pure and simple, and it is a personal threat made by a defendant against a plaintiff’s counsel; it can have no purpose but an attempt to create pressure to settle.

Well, fuck you, Source Lending. I work for a living, and if the cost of making you stop faxing is twenty thousand dollars in legal expenses to defend against your frivolous suits, I’ll pay it, and if the cost of dealing with this is appealing all the way up to the Supreme Court of the US, then I’ll pay that too. You can threaten all you want, and I will speak truth to your power, and we shall see what happens.

RULE 8.4 MISCONDUCT

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

(a) violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;

[…]

© engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;

(d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice;

A threat, however vaguely worded, attempting to coerce my lawyer into failing to represent me in accord with his duties under the Rules of Professional Conduct, certainly counts as “inducing” another to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct.

A lawsuit based on simply false claims about what I was told and when it was told to me, which presents baseless speculation as factual claims without even asking so much as a single question in discovery in either case, is “dishonesty”, “deceit”, and “misrepresentation”. (I do not believe it is fraud.)

A lawsuit against my lawyer clearly tying the damages sought to any liability or damages justly and lawfully awarded to me by another court can hardly be seen as anything but “conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

And just think. I have over a thousand junk faxes, and all this over two of them!

Peter Seebach

Comments [3]

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Dice again: Are they just trying to be stupid?

(GeekStuff)

2005-10-11 01:13
Comments [2]

Followup to this previous entry:

Another Dice ad

This ad’s pseudocode is:

if (threshold = salary_sucks) {
 goto = dice.com();
      } else {
         suck_it_up;
      }
end

Never mind the atrocious formatting. WTF is the end doing there? They started out using {} pairs, then suddenly an end token, after properly balanced braces?

This was written by someone who can’t code, and I think even less of these people now than I used to.

Peter Seebach

Comments [2]

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Source Lending sues my lawyer!

(Spam)

2005-10-10 21:24
Comments [1]

Okay, I admit, at first I didn’t really think this happened. I mean, hey. Once or twice, Steve’s called up with some silly or hilarious story. Like the time he said that a defendant, get this, wanted me to provide blanket indemnity against all future liability. Oh, wait. That actually happened too. Same folks, even.

But when I heard Source was suing him, I honestly couldn’t make sense of it. What possible point is there? The naive answer is obvious; I am given to understand that, if I settle my case with them on favorable terms, that their suit against him, seeking damages “in excess of $10,000” and further punitive damages “in excess of $10,000”, will probably be dismissed. So you could theorize they’re trying to put some pressure on my lawyer to make me settle.

But come on, no one would do that, right? I mean, that’s not in one of the grey areas for modern legal ethics; it’s just plain illegal.

Anyway, let’s talk about the substance of the case. This will be hard, because it hasn’t got any, and furthermore, their story has changed between the initial filing and the current paperwork.

The essence of the claim is this. Bob ELIDE (the guy from whom I found out that two of my faxes came from Source Lending) settled his lawsuit with Source Lending. That much is a matter of public record, as is the curious five month delay between the date of his signature on the settlement agreement and Source’s signature. (This involves a judge, Hon. Isabel Gomez, having to issue a court order requiring Source to sign the settlement.) The details of the settlement are, or were, confidential.

In one of their filings in Seebach v. Source Lending, Source represented that they had settled all their claims with Bob ELIDE for the sum of $2,500. (I do not know this to be correct, because I have not read the settlement, but given their actions since, I assume it is.) In response to this filing, Mr. Appelget attached the settlement to Plaintiff’s memorandum in opposition to Defendant’s motion to dismiss, as an exhibit.

Here is where it gets funny. At the next court occasion we had (shortly after Source Lending gets wacky was written), in addition to the hilarious “lark” speech, they announced that they were going to sue Mr. Appelget for breach of confidentiality.

In discussion of this, the following paragraphs from the confidential settlement were disclosed:

i. If there is a breach of this agreement, the nonbreaching party shall at her [sic] option, disclose any of the terms of this Agreement and Litigation …

So. The terms of the agreement are confidential. Source puts them in a public record (the filing). This is a breach, and Ms. [sic] ELIDE is then entitled to disclose any of the terms. In this case, they were disclosed by Mr. ELIDE’s attorney in the matter, Mr. Appelget.

Well, that’s nice. So where’s the wacky part?

Part 2: You have ilk!

In their Memorandum in opposition to Defendant Appelget’s motion to dismiss, Source begins:

On May 27, 2005, A. Peter Seebach…

Let’s stop right there. Am I a party to the suit? No. And yet, they are using my actions as the basis for it, apparently.

Here’s my favorite part:

Some persons, Mr. Seebach included, publish and collect the names of companies willing to settle junk fax cases, suing those that seem least likely to struggle. The disclosure of the terms of the agreement to Mr. Seebach and the submission of the document which makes it a public record exposed Source to the potential of an endless series of litigation.

Well, first off, the series of lawsuits (you can’t have a series of a mass noun) is presumably endable, if Source simply refrains from sending faxes; the statute of limitations will then end it in due course.

However, this paragraph has other flaws. The first, and most blindingly obvious, is that the relevant terms were disclosed to me by Source Lending. I did not know the amount of ELIDE’s settlement; at the time that he settled, all I found was that they had settled with him, but that to settle with me, they wanted me to indemnify them against all possible other junk fax suits.

Oops.

This is where the speculation-as-substitute-for-fact thing sort of breaks down; since in fact the terms of the ELIDE settlement were not previously disclosed to me, the entire chain of reasoning falls apart. What I found out from Bob was who had sent these two faxes, and that Source Lending were the sorts of people who accuse law enforcement actions of being “extortion”. I had a stack of perhaps 700 junk faxes to sort through; any that could be identified were likely candidates for pursuit. I assure you, after hearing that Source simply refused to show up for depositions, called names, and so on, I had no impression that they were “least likely to struggle”. I did, however, form the impression that they were essentially crooked and slimy; an impression I confess has not much changed in over a year of litigation.

I would not recommend that anyone sue Source on the grounds that they are “least likely to struggle”. The “least likely to struggle” theory, of course, marks something of a return to their earlier theory that I am in this for the money. C’mon, guys. You know already that I give the money away, and furthermore, as my bitching about accounts receivable suggests, I earn more in a week of work than I collect in a year of junk fax suits.

But nevermind. Source’s whole theory here is that confidential information was given to me, and that I sued based on it. They say:

Persons who, like Mr. Seebach, repeatedly bring lawsuits against alleged junk faxers do not choose their targets at random. Litigation is not cheap. Mr. Seebach’s decision to pursue litigation over an alleged two (2) junk faxes he received was aided by information to which he had no right. The later submission of not only the full text of the confidentiality agreement but the entire process of negotiation alerts those of Mr. Seebach’s ilk to the presence of a profitable opportunity, and exposes Source to repetitive litigation.

(Emphasis added. I just love the word “ilk”.)

This is a thing of beauty. What is the word “alleged” doing here? In their response to Plaintiff’s Interrogatory #14, Source admitted to having hired a third party to send junk faxes. They are indeed senders of junk faxes.

Now, once again, it is crucial to remember that Source knows that I don’t make any money at this; their key argument at our hearing back in June was that, since I don’t keep the money, I am unable to competently represent a class. I respectfully disagree, having been the class representative in a previous junk fax case. However, their claim that my decision was based on confidential information is not only wrong, but flatly impossible! Without foreknowledge of future events, it would be impossible sue them in September of 2003 on the basis of a settlement agreement that they did not reach until December of 2003, and which Source refused to sign until a judge ordered them to in the middle of 2004. Believe me, if I could predict events that far in advance, and wished to make money, there would be better ways than this.

Litigation is indeed not cheap. It is not cheap because Source Lending refused to answer even simple questions about their junk faxing until the judge ordered them to. In their defense, they may really have not known; the sum total of information they’ve been able to offer is that the owner of Source Lending paid some entity called “JDS” by personal check for a marketing campaign that was to include some junk faxes, which they claim they believed were legal. (Given the ties between Source Lending and Northern Lights Mortgage, another local junk faxer real-estate company, I am skeptical. By the way, for those who keep track, Northern Lights Mortgage isn’t just a junk faxer, but a predatory lender as well. It’s almost as if a willingness for dishonest gains is itself some kind of pattern.)

If they want to imagine that this is a “profitable opportunity”, I guess I’m not inclined to argue with them. However, it does seem we’ve actually reached some form of agreement; they are very concerned about the risk of repetitive litigation. Perhaps, noticing that this case was pled as a class-action suit, instead of opposing this on the frivolous grounds that they refuse to discuss the number of faxes they sent, they should stipulate to the class allegations, thus shielding themselves from further lawsuits! It is, of course, just a suggestion.

In conclusion…

So that’s where we stand. If I settle with them on terms they find favorable, this lawsuit goes away too. Of course, they’ve been trying to argue that any money they have to pay is necessarily damages; this is a ludicrous attempt to get away from the clear liability they have for their unlawful faxing. But hey; they can just make stuff up. It’s okay. I don’t think my lawyer will be swayed by their threats, and it’s not as though I have high professional-ethics expectations of junk-fax defendants or their lawyers.

Peter Seebach

Comments [1]

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So, about this whole "pro-life" thing.

(Personal)

2005-10-09 22:53
Comments [3]

I’ve heard it said that “pro-life” tends to pretty much cover people only before they’re born or once they’re actually dying. I’m not that cynical, although I’ve seen it in action. But I’d like to explore this thought a bit.

One of the cases people like to argue about is kids with birth defects. Say, cystic fibrosis. If a woman is pregnant, and the child will have cystic fibrosis, is it ethical for her to get an abortion instead of subjecting a child to a short life of pain? Some people think it is. Some say it isn’t. I think it’s a tough choice, but I feel that my authority to tell people what to do is pretty much limited by how much I’m willing to accept the consequences of the policies I promote.

Lemme talk to you about Allan. Allan got born with cystic fibrosis, as did all three of his older siblings (all three are now all dead from it). Now, some people think you should abort babies who will be born with CF. In morbid moods, Allan does not always disagree. His life has not always been an easy or pleasant one, and it doesn’t look like being a long one. These days, if he isn’t coughing up blood, it’s a good day.

The only chance he has of living more than, oh, say, a year or two, is to get new lungs. You can get new lungs. The operation’s expensive, but it can be done. Allan’s even sort of on a waiting list. Only he can’t afford an operation. He’s got no health insurance, except Medicaid, and Medicaid would rather save lungs for people who have that kind of money available, or are healthy enough to work regular full-time jobs and get insurance.

That’s where the question comes in. We’ve got people who say no price is too high to ensure that Allan is born. So he’s born. Are we willing to pay the price now, or is it someone else’s problem?

So, let’s try a little experiment. Are we really talking about pro-life? If so, let’s see some donations. If I ever get paid (more on that in a future article), I’ll chip in a thousand bucks. Surely, there are two hundred and fifty pro-life people out there who are at least as committed to trying to preserve human life as I am? Come on, folks. Get with the program!

You can find out more about the project to save allan at:

http://www.save-allan.org/

(Note: If you get “host not found” or something, try again in a day or something; there’s been some weirdness with the server.)

Peter Seebach

Comments [3]

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Why I will not apply for a job through Dice.com.

(GeekStuff)

2005-10-08 01:51
Comments [3]

I saw this on Slashdot:
Dice ad

(It’s animated, so give it a while.)

Hmm.

goto = dice.com();

Does there exist any language anywhere which has goto statements at all, in which they are done with an equals sign? I don’t think so. It’s not correct for any of the languages I know which use that kind of if structure, curly braces, and semicolons.

With all these programmers that are apparently looking to them for work, shouldn’t they have asked one to review their copy?

Peter Seebach

Comments [3]

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