Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   Windex and ribbons
Saturday, January 28 2012
I'd had an elaborate plan for the vent hole connecting the upstairs bedroom to a high place on the wall above the living room. I was going to maybe build a drawbridge-style hatch supported by cables that I was going to have to somehow winch in to close. In the end, though, I just installed a conventional door (made of two one-by planks glued together) on two hinges on the bedroom side of the hole. To close the hole, you just close that door. Today I painted that door, the hole, and the wood framework around it so that they matched the white paint of the living room on one side and the dark eggplant color of the bedroom on the other. With the door closed in the bedroom, the hole almost disappears. If anything, it looks like the place where a panel of circuit breakers might be hidden. But then you open it up and are given a surprisingly-remote bird's-eye view of the living room.

This evening, Gretchen and I loaded all the dogs (including Bruce) into our car and drove to the Kingston Indian Restaurant in Uptown. Leaving the dogs in the car, we found the restaurant's dining room filled nearly to capacity. The reason was the Saturday night buffet. We'd known it was relatively popular, but not quite this popular. The staff were running around from table to table to kitchen, barely able to keep up despite the self-service nature of the food. I started with two bowls of the mulligatawny, which I never normally seem to get quite enough of. And at the end of the meal, I cracked open a room-temperature Sierra Nevada Torpedo Imperial IPA I'd brought in my coat pocket.
Soon after we began eating, the restaurant began emptying out. The clearing tables came in a wave starting near the front and working its way back towards us, a ghostly artifact of the order in which people had been seated. The ambiance in the Kingston Indian Restaurant is not great, but it would be a lot better if the staff didn't use two or three squirts of WindexTM to wipe down every table. The smell of WindexTM is just not something you want to be experiencing while you're eating any food, especially Indian food. I'd see people at a table nearby getting up to go and I'd warn Gretchen, "Oh no, there's another one!" And then the guy with the WindexTM would come.

I've long complained about the nefarious method Microsoft uses to force us to "buy" their latest products. Their Office suite saves files in a proprietary format that they control, and with every new version of Office, the file formats change, rendering them unreadable on old versions of Office. When your friends and colleagues "upgrade," they start sending you files you cannot read, because they are too lazy to save in the older, more-compatible formats. So you find yourself "upgrading" not because you want new features (word processors are an old technology that has not advanced since 1991) but because you want to be able to read files without difficulty. Indeed, due to feature churn and faddish interface decisions, each new version of Office brings with it an annoying and completely unnecessary learning curve.
Still, today Gretchen found herself lobbying me to install the latest version of the Office suite on Badger, the computer she uses. She'd been having too much trouble reading documents being sent to her. So tonight I found myself searching (one of the "foreign sites" SOPA & PIPA were designed to prevent access to) for the version of Office that has the idiotic ribbon interface and saves files in the .docx format (oh, so now Windows is into four-character file extensions?). It's risky downloading software with Bittorrent; sometimes files obtained this way contain trojans or viruses, things that must be scanned for. Generally, though, the greater the number of seeders and leechers, the higher the quality and the lower the likelihood of infection. An even better indication of file quality is that Microsoft had issued a DMCA take-down notice to Google for searches for "Microsoft OFFICE 2010 Pro Plus PRECRACKED," the name of the torrent I'd found on thePirateBay.
The knife in my heart came later, after the new version of Office had been installed (and I might have actually paid for it for all you know). Gretchen said she actually likes the new ribbon interface. And she's also finding a new sidebar showing a list of a document's headings super convenient. But she also thinks Empire State Plaza in Albany is beautiful; I'm with James Howard Kunstler — it looks like something designed by a despotic Aztec.

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