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1 comment
Yesterday, Eric Idle passed up a life-changing experience: rather than riding the bus with his fellow performers, he chose a different route to Edmondton AB.

Had he remained on the bus, he'd be here in Fargo. How could a man of his stature pass up a day in Fargo? He wouldn't have to stay long -- they're en route to another venue, not performing here -- but he's missing out.

Fargo isn't all about some Cohen Brother's movie (which, incidentally, didn't occur in Fargo). Fargo has got lots of things, plenty to entertain Mr Idle. We've got snow! More snow than Chicago, and we know how to DO snow around here. Chicago is way south, barely far enough north to even get snow. Up here in the northlands, snow is a part of life, not some periodic inconvenience. And ice, too. Snow and ice. The cold barely even registers when you're so focused on the snow and ice.

He and his ilk could be resting themselves on the 13th floor of the Radisson Hotel, gazing lazily out of the windows, wondering what's up with the Pioneer Mutual Life sign. 'That's my office', I'd telepathically note to Eric if he were here. I could watch right back, staring at the angular, monolithic hotel riverwards from my location.

Downtown Fargo is getting to be a pleasant place, abandoning it's ragtag leftover character and becoming a bit more upscale. The HoDo (a name which much amused Miss GlamKitty, shortened for Hotel Donaldson) is just down the street, a fine cuisine cafe prime for the entertainment of locals and travelling Monty Python alumni alike.

I could meet Mr. Idle there, we could exchange witty banter over our obscure cheesecakes, while staring at the snow blow down icy 1st Avenue.

Unfortunately, Eric Idle didn't come. I hope he regrets his choices once he realizes what he has missed.

These sorts of websites have pretty much gone to the wayside these days -- back in the old days, servers were shared by a couple people because nobody could really afford to run one all by themselves. Today, anyone can put up a website and make it act like they're the only website there.

Once in a while, like the Wisconsin users I noted a couple weeks ago, I randomly run across lists of people sharing a server. Today's list comes all the way from Xerox PARC, in Palo Alto CA. 'Sandbox' is the name of the server, and some very smart people share it's server space for their personal sites. Xerox PARC, like MIT's Media Lab, is a computery place that I worship: Everything that comes out of the PARC is future-oriented, not simply 'make now work'. It's always nice to remember, thanks to, that even brainy people have quaint little personal websites out there. Some even use ugly animated GIFs, and others link to the paradigm-changing work they've done. Some even do both.

I just gotta brag; this is so darn cool for me, having been merely a User all these years.

The servers, which I've been rambling about recently are online now.

Several years ago, I set up my first server, in my apartment, to serve files and test webpages before putting them online. I marveled at the server -- it had no keyboard, no monitor, no disk drives, and only two cables (power and network). Lights blinked and hard drives was doing things, but you couldn't see what it was doing.

Last Tuesday I hauled the servers down to Multiband's Fargo offices, plugged them in, and locked them in a cage. I sat on the floor, configuring them remotely from my laptop, right next to a guy doing exactly the same thing for his enormous rackmount server array. When I got back to work, I pinged my servers...and they responded.

These are MY COMPUTERS. And they're SERVING THINGS. As promised, Apathy Industries is the first domain to move. When you click that link, your computer goes out and asks one of my servers (a computer assembled from a case pulled from a dumpster, drives & fans cut from an old Macintosh, and a network card from god-knows-where) for the IP address. That server, a machine I've held in my hands and have the right to go down and flip it's switch to the off position whenever I like, responds. It responds by telling you that is mapped to the IP address of my OTHER server down there, a Dell-designed genuine server with multiple processors and lots of RAM. Your computer then goes over to the Dell and says, "send me the webpage."

The Dell does as you ask.

Is that cool or what? This isn't some toy, it's not something that you have to stop by my house to see. It's out there, for everyone to touch, and I can do anything I want to it. It's mine, it's free to roam the internet, and it's begging for work to do.

Talk about preying on innocent geek's self-confidence. I recieved this email just now:

From: ""
Subject: Someone likes you and we'll tell you who it is!

On June 28, 2001 someone told us they like you and we told you that special someone is out there. You still don't know who it is so now we're just going to tell you!

Click here to find out who likes you

Have fun and write to us with your success stories!

Best wishes,

The CrushLink Team

Problem is -- check out that email address. didn't EXIST in 2001, which is when Crushlink says they got this address. Second of all, that domain name has one email address in it, which hasn't been given to the public, and misleading_angel ain't it. So, watch yourselves, oh nerds and geeks of the internet -- Crushlink wants to make money off your inability to find a significant other. They tease
you with the prospect of true love, then trick you into jumping through their spammy hoops.

I've been flexing my graphicilational artisticitorian muscles lately. And, happily, these graphics are ending up on t-shirts! My business connection with Madame GlamKitty is a design one, and until things pick up and I can work on her website, we've been tossing shirt ideas back and forth.

First is the basic Glamkitty logo -- you can see from her site, the kitty is a free-floating head...a very nice head, tho (the logo ranks VERY high in customer opinions), but it doesn't have a good background or shape for print use. So, I cleaned it up and added a few bits to make it look nicer, without losing the kittyhead. Buy a shirt with the tagline logo, or just the glamkitty dot. If you're a bad girl, we've got one for you, too!

Now, this end is R rated, and we're checking IDs kiddies. The first shirt was purely nuts-n-bolts, scaling and adding text -- Who will ride to my orgasm?. The other shirt? That couch was done completely by me -- and I won't make you go home and dry-hump it.

1 comment
The November National Geographic has been sitting in my livingroom for probably a week now, and I know I've flipped through it. I must not have gotten to the end before -- their ZIPcode of the month is none other than 58102, the code of my childhood. Right now, I live on the South half of town, assigned 58103, but I work in 58102, much of my family is in 58102, and I hope to move back to the North end of town eventually. 58101 doesn't exist, except for internal USPS use (their website search doesn't acknowledge it's existence, but the Fargo postmaster uses it), which makes 58102 the first in the 58100 series...quite a feat, if you really cared. I care, because that's just the way it is. I think we've got up to 58109 for Fargo itself. Everything started at 58102.

Of course, National Geographic focused on the infamous movie named after our fine city, they talk a LOT about the ungodly cold, they emphasize the understated modesty of our local culture. Part of me rolls my eyes, considering the stereotypes they're promoting.

One time I got a call at work from a woman out on the east coast. She had a pretty standard southern accent. In smalltalk, she commented how I was from Fargo; like the movie, right? Yeah, I said -- but do I really sound like that? No, she replied, "but some of the women over at Blue Cross, they've got it."

Unfortunately, they're pretty much right on the money. You can't visit Fargo without experiencing most of the above. Winters are long, the culture is the way it is, and Marge Gunderson from the film is immortalized in a life-sized statue downtown. You come visitin', boy, we'll take good care of you, ya betcha.

Derek Is Reading:

John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids. Better than I expected; I knew a movie had been made about it back in the olden days, so I mostly expected a campy 1950s scifi movie feel to it. Not so; humanity is blinded, beaten, confused, ravaged by disease, and killed & eaten by ambulatory carnivorous plants -- leaving the survivors to figure out how to keep what's left going. Good book, from a scifi and a social point of view.

Here's a cop-out post, just as boring as the last one, on server status. At 12:30 on Veteran's Day, in theory I'll carry my servers into a hermetically-controlled room, plug 'em in, and turn them on, ushering in a new age of Black Sunn Enterprises. The new servers will fall under the domain name. Further updates on migration will be available at that web address. Gone will be my content-distribution thingy; in it's place will be a temporary weblog of which sites are moving, have been moved, etc. Why you want to read this, I have no idea, but it'll make me happy.

Did you know that most webdesigners don't have their own servers? Even some big internet companies, with billboards and pretty tradeshow booths don't own any of the services you rely on from them day-to-day. They design your site, then slap it up on some generic webhosting service that anyone can rent, marking up their hosting costs and passing the expense on to you.

If you've got a website designed & hosted for you by someone else, do a WHOIS search for your own domain name. Look at the DNS settings -- there's IP addresses there. Put those IP addresses into a reverse DNS lookup and see what you get. Does that IP address belong to you (a reverse lookup has your domain name)? Does that IP address belong to a hosting company, or directly to your webdesigner? More than likely, you'll be given the domain name of a webhosting farm. Go look at what they cost for a website. I've seen companies charge big bucks each month to host websites, then turn around and stick your site on a $5/mo shared server. If you wonder why your site's down, that's probably why. MY hosting will be on MY servers. I used to rent space from a mediocre company called ProHosting, but no more. These are my servers, and what I charge you for hosting is the actual cost to host it, not some marked-up webhosting service that you could buy yourself.

Here's an update for y'all on the server conversion I mentioned a few days ago. I've decided, now that DNS, the webserver, the SMTP server, and script execution all work reliably well (almost 30 days uptime without any significant crashes), I'm going to colocate the servers soon. First up will be a move of the smaller sites (Books of Dog, Fivespot Project, Apathy Industries, etc) to the server to test and fine-tune the site. As features are added and perfected, various other websites will be moved over, hopefully without any of you ever noticing. will be the last domain to move, due to my current hosting structure, but once that goes all will be running on a Dell dual 350Mhz server and a frankenstein 475Mhz server.

You guys may ask, "why are you doing this?" Well, it comes down to efficiency. Hosting services cost money for services I don't use, they're don't always offer the services I want or need, they're ultimately more expensive given the quality of service, and colocation allows me to expand services as they're needed. Even the best of the hosting solution is still mucky if you want to set up email aliases across domains, SSL certificates, interlaced domains (domains point to the same directories in some cases but not others), and CGI execution. Plus, I know that if something crashes the server, it's something I did. If I'm running out of filespace (although with 36GB in each server, it's not gonna happen soon) I just add a hard drive. Things moving slow, upgrade processors and RAM. Should I be paying a hundred-something each month to various hosting services (not all the same, due to different features), or pay a hundred-something for my own servers that are infinitely expandable? There's new business on the way, things you readers know nothing about...the cost of implementing those sites will be nothing more than the domain name registration and our own time and sweat. Over the years, that's a nice chunk of financial savings, especially if I'm billing someone else to host their site on my servers.

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