dmuth's blog

Weekend, ConClave visit, and BBQ

Allow me to sum up my weekend with this picture:

Lasers

I flew up to Detroit for the weekend to briefly stop by ConClave 33 as well as hang out with the Michigan furries at Gir Tygrin and Nik Vulper's place.

The lasers above were courtesy of Skan, who brought by his laser equipment and smoke machine.

I flew into Detroit on Thursday night and was pleased to learn that the sh*tty Smith Terminal there (complete with torn seats and ratty carpeting) has since been closed down. Having been around since the 1940s, it definitely outlived its usefulness, and needs to be destroyed. Sticking out tongue

I stopped by ConClave briefly on Friday evening to visit some folks and then briefly on Saturday morning for the Big Argument Dorsai Irregulars business meeting. Somehow I wound up becoming responsible for the DI website during that meeting. Did I hear someone whisper, "Yet another Drupal installation"? That's what it sounded like to me!

Then it was off to Gir and Nik's place for cooking meat with fire, beer, and games. Ciaphas, Gen Talon, Ed Hyena, and AndrewNeo were all present, as were some local furs not all of who I know on LiveJournal. Sticking out tongue

BBQ Rockband 2

Chilling in the basement Gir BBQs

Later in the evening (read: after 1 AM), I played a little Dead Rising and had fun killing zombies. I hear the game is coming out for the Wii and can't wait for it.

Also, I need to never sing in Rockband 2 again. I completely failed at that.

As always, my full dump of pics can be found online at http://flickr.com/photos/dmuth/sets/72157607775873467/

Thanks for having me over, guys.

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KainCon Report

I drove down to Virginia for KainCon this past weekend and made a few side trips along the way.

On Friday night, I met up with Loki for dinner. It was the first time I really got to hang out with him since he got out of the military.

I made it down to Kain's place late Friday night and hung out through early Sunday afternoon. I got to see Creature, Davin, and Drakien again. Bill Cosby Stahi was around, too. Talyn was also there.

There was something about a pretty crazy game of Wii Tennis with Sir Kain, who totally stomped me in a Best 3 of 5 match.

On Saturday evening, we took a trip to the Todai sushi buffet, and I saw this on the way out:

Got soy sauce?

More pictures from KainCon:

Wii Sports kaincon Creature

The full archive of pics is at http://flickr.com/photos/dmuth/sets/72157607568251631/, for anyone who is interested. I also created a Flickr group for KainCon photos at http://flickr.com/groups/kaincon/.

On Sunday, I went a little out of my way to visit Reuven in Maryland. It was the first time I saw him in uh, about 3 years or so. We grabbed a late lunch and got to play catchup on recent events in our lives.

I finally got home just after 9 PM that night. It was a fun and busy weekend.

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Convention Meme / Convention Staff Meme

Since people seem to be posting what conventions they went to, I suppose I'll do the same.

Anthrocon: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
Camp Feral: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
ConClave: 2005, 2006, 2007
Confluence: 2006, 2007, 2008
DexCon: 2006
Eurofurence: 2004
FurFright: 2006, 2007
Furry Connection North: 2008
KainCon: 2006(?)
MagFest: 2007, 2008
MarCon: 2007, 2008
Midwest FurFest: 2002, 2003
Otakon: 2003

Years with links are where I have photos online. Bolded years are where I worked staff.

So that's 34 conventions in all. And I was staff at 22 of those conventions. Wow.

And there are still more conventions I'd like to add to that list. Megaplex, Confusion, and Penguincon, for starters. And FurCoNZ, too. (I've never been to New Zealand before!)

Oh, and the next couple of months will be busy for me, as I'll be attending the following cons:

KainCon - A gaming con run out of Sir Kain's house over a weekend.

ConClave 33 - A science fiction con in Michigan. This is considered the "home" con for the Dorsai Irregulars, so I'm looking forward to seeing many other DI there.

FurFright - A halloween-themed furry connection in Connecticut.

Midwest FurFest - The big furry convention held out in Chicago just before Thanksgiving. I'm pleased to be returning here after missing it for the last few years.

I'll hope I'll get to see folks I know at at least one of those conventions! Sticking out tongue

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Our $20,000 Grant

So, on Friday night we at the Save Ardmore Coalition were officially presented with our $20,000 Grant from the State of Pennsylvania:

From left to right: Ken Haskin is in the white shirt, I'm in the green shirt (with the shaved head), Scott Mahan is in the black shirt, Si Simons is in the peach colored shirt, and Sharon Eckstein is immediately to his right. It was nice of everyone to wear different colored shirts!

I have no idea why the check is dated last December. Ah, Bureaucracy.

Also, some local folks swung by:

Omnibahumut, Me, Dolph, and Uncle Kage

Yes, that's a Dolph plushie I'm holding. It's a long story. (But thanks for the hookup, Wolfspawn3!)

Oh, the Philly Phanatic stopped by too:

The Philly Phanatic

Yes, he's standing in traffic on Lancaster Ave. Fursuiters, please do not do this at the next con. Sticking out tongue

If anyone would like to see the full set of my pictures, they're at: http://flickr.com/photos/dmuth/sets/72157607164585627/

The user Mainline Clicks also took a bunch of photos of the event: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mainlineclicks/sets/72157607160295075/

The Ardmore VFW was also selling "social memberships", which I took advantage of and purchased one. So if of you vets out there decide to visit me, I can take you to meet other vets and drink with them. Sticking out tongue

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So... we're getting $20,000...

And by "we", I mean The Save Ardmore Coalition. The state of Pennsylvania will be giving us a $20,000 grant in just over a week. I could talk about this more, but pasting in our press release is easier. Smiling

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 25, 2008
ARDMORE, PA
http://www.saveardmorecoalition.org/

SAVE ARDMORE COALIITION TO RECEIVE GRANT SEPTEMBER 5TH, 2008 IN ARDMORE, PA

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
The Save Ardmore Coalition is pleased to announce that we are to receive a grant in the amount of $20,000 from The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on Friday, September 5th, 2008 at 6:30 p.m. in front of the Ardmore VFW in Ardmore, PA during our First Friday Main Line event with the American Troop Support Team (ATST).

This grant has been awarded to the Save Ardmore Coalition by State Representative Daylin Leach (149th PA), and is via the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Community Revitalization Program. $10,000 of this grant will be used towards a Community Mural and other streetscape beautification efforts.

State Representative Leach has be very supportive of the efforts of Save Ardmore Coalition in the community, and through this grant the Save Ardmore Coalition will be able to further its efforts as a group.

So please join State Representative Daylin Leach and members of the Save Ardmore Coalition in the shadow of the buildings in Historic Ardmore that we fought successfully to save from Eminent Domain for Private Gain. Join us as we take yet another definitive step forward into the future.

For more information on First Friday Main Line, please visit their website at http://www.firstfridaymainline.com/
_____________________________________________________________________________________
Save Ardmore Coalition P.O. Box 453 Ardmore, PA 19003 www.saveardmorecoalition.org

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How to get custom ringtones on a Verizon Motorola Razr v3m phone

Getting new ringtones on your Razr without paying $1.99 or whatever Verizon charges is easy.

Send an email to yournumber@vzwpix.com, with the MP3 as an attachment.

When it arrives on your phone as a PIX message, the file has already been converted to the AAC format, and can be saved with the "Save Sound" choice under the Options menu.

It will now appear in your list of ringtones.

Thanks to this trick, my phone now has Dolph the Fascist Hippo ringtones on it. Guaranteed to confuse friends, co-workers, and family members alike!

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How to get rid of annoying plus-signs in Drupal under nginx

While using the nginx webserver with a Drupal installation I noticed something odd. Whenever I submitted a form (with the GET method) or clicked on a link that had a space in it, it would be converted to a plus sign in the URL. Actually, that's not the odd path--the web browser is doing proper URL encoding since spaces are not allowed in URLs.

The weird part is that after the request got to the webserver, and the server processed it and passed it to PHP, and PHP loaded Drupal and executed the PHP code, the plus sign failed to be turned back into a space when using the nginx webserver. Works fine in Apache, but not in nginx.

The symptom is that if I tried to perform a search or edit my user profile, or anything else that involved a plus sign in the GET data, when that data was processed by PHP, the plus sign was still there. i.e., I would see "term1+term2" in the search box, instead of "term1 term2".

So, how to fix this? I could have spent some time reading RFCs, and looking through the source from PHP and nginx, or I could have my site working again. I opted for the latter, and found that this line of code at the very beginning of Drupal's index.php seems to do the trick:

$_GET["q"] = strtr($_GET["q"], "+", " ");

It's silly, and may even be a bit stupid, but it sure does the trick.

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Confluence 2008 Con Report

I haven't written here lately because I've been very busy at work, and taking care of some real life stuff that came up. As they say, "stuff happens".

I did however get to travel out to Pittsburgh last weekend to work Confluence with the Dorsai Irregulars. It was a smallish science fiction con, with about 300 people in attendance. The shifts I work consisted of an occasional rove through the hotel and badge checking at the door to the Dealers Room.

The DI working the contract were Rene, Steve Simmons, Mark Bernstein, and a few other folks whose names I can't remember right now. Sticking out tongue Also in attendance from the furry community were T'Chall, Swift Fox, Mrianti, Xander, and Uncle Kage. At any rate, it was great to see all of those folks again!

I didn't take many pictures at this convention, since I spent most of the time either working of socializing with folks. The full archive is at http://flickr.com/photos/dmuth/sets/72157606428079650/ for those who are interested. What follows are a few choice shots.

Mrianti and Uncle Kage

I had to work a shift with these guys.

One of these things is not like the others...

One of these things is not like the others... anyone who got caught drinking the "odd one out" was cut off from drinking the rest of the evening.

 "The Doctor's Sarcophagus"

The highlight of the con was a play that is put on no Saturday evening. A different script is written every year, usually involving parody of current events. This year's play was called "The Doctor's Sarcophagus". I did not get to watch it, as I had roving duty at the time. Smiling

The party, as seen through my scotch glass

After finishing off the scotch that was in this glass, I pretty much called it a night. My room was right next door to the Dorsai Room, so I could hear them singing through the wall. It didn't keep me awake, but it was kinda funny drifting off to sleep hearing filk music being sung.

Oh, and thanks for singing The Dorsai Cadet Song, guys. Can we just induct somebody newer already? Sticking out tongue

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Installing Duplicity on OS/X 10.5 (Leopard)

Having recently upgraded my machines to OS/X Leopard (which will be the subject of another post), I decided to try installing the program Duplicity onto my G4/G5 Mac so that I could use it in conjunction with rsync.net. Duplicity is a wrapper for rsync and rdiffdir that can be used to perform both full and incremental backups of your filesystem. It also supports many transfer methods including FTP, scp, rsync, WebDEV, and Amazon S3. In short, it's a pretty badass backup system.

While there don't seem to be any major issues when trying to install it under Linux, installing it under OS/X Leopard is a bit... interesting. The purpose of this post is to more clearly define "interesting" and document how to actually get Duplicity working, and to save others the same issues that I had deal with earlier in the afternoon.

First things first, make sure you've downloaded and installed Fink. Fink provides apt-get functionality to OS/X and gives you access to a whole bunch of UNIX software.

After downloading and untarring the package from the Duplicity website, try building the software with:


python ./setup.py build

If you're a lucky winner, you'll see a bunch of errors starting with this:


_librsyncmodule.c:25:23: error: librsync.h: No such file or directory

This means that librsync hasn't been installed. So go do that:


apt-get install librsync

Since the library will be installed in /sw (used by Fink to keep its stuff separate), you'll need to build Duplicity as follows:


python ./setup.py --librsync-dir=/sw build

Now install Duplicity:


sudo python ./setup.py install

Now try running it. Duplicity should promptly complain in the form of a traceback that ends with:


ImportError: dlopen(/Library/Python/2.5/site-packages/duplicity/_librsync.so, 2): Library not loaded: /sw/lib/libintl.1.dylib
Referenced from: /sw/lib/librsync.1.dylib
Reason: image not found

Some quick checking revealed that version 3 of libintl was installed by the libgettext3-shlibs package. Why was version 1 not installed? I don't know. Why does librsync require version 1? No idea.

At this point, we do the computer equivalent of a "Hail Mary" pass:


ln -s /sw/lib/libintl.3.4.3.dylib /sw/lib/libintl.1.dylib

Yes, I really did just tell my system that version 3 of that library can be used as version 1. Amazingly enough, it actually worked! In general, doing this sort of thing is not a good idea, since we're expecting a library that is 2 major revisions older than what is actually installed. The fact that it does work however, does speak good about the programmer who wrote the library.

So, let's try and run Duplicity again:


File "/Library/Python/2.5/site-packages/duplicity/gpg.py", line 22, in <module>
import GnuPGInterface, misc, log, path
ImportError: No module named GnuPGInterface

...somebody shoot me.

So anyway, now we have to go to the GnuPGInterface page and download that module. Assuming you downloaded and untarred it, here's how to install it:


python ./setup.py build
python ./setup.py install

Amazing. That was actually painless.

Let's try running Duplicity again:


[pardine:~/tmp/duplicity ] $ duplicity
Command line error: Expected 2 args, got 0
Enter 'duplicity --help' for help screen.

Success! Well, sorta. At least the program runs now. Documentation is is here and the manpage is over here. I can also offer some advice that I learned:

- The first backup is a full backup. Subsequent backups are automatically incremental backups.

- Want to list files in the backup? Use the list-current-files command.

- If you don't want to use encrpytion, try the --no-encryption option. Personally, I'm not a big fan of encrypting backups, because if you lose your key, all your backups go poof.

- If you are using SSH/scp to back up and you don't have an ssh key set up, be sure to tell Duplicity to ask for your password with --ssh-askpass. Even if you set the environment variable FTP_PASSWORD with your passphrase, you'll need to leave this switch in.

Happy backups!

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Beach trip to Seaside Park

I took a trip to the New Jersey beach last weekend, along with Omnibahumut and Ferian. Most of the time was spent hanging out, at the beach itself, or on the Boardwalk checking out the shops, and some of the uh... interesting... things in the shops:

More dayglo posters

No, I did not purchase any of those posters.

The beach itself was okay, but the undertow was up a bit thanks to Hurricane Bertha out in the Atlantic. The lifeguards only let us go in waist high and wouldn't let us use bodyboards. Naturally, I returned to the beach after they went off duty at 5:30 PM and used my bodyboard. Smiling I didn't get much wave action though, since the hurricane also caused some sandbars to form about 30 feet from shore. It was my first time on a sandbar however, so that wasn't a bad consolation prize.

I also purchased a "shorty" wetsuit before the trip. It helped with the slightly cold (65 degree) water temperatures and protected me from some nasty sunburn and from getting my back and chest shredded when bodysurfing. Not bad for $40.

Besides playing in the water, we also decided to dig on the beach a little. Actually, we dug on the beach a lot. Before the tide came in and destroyed our hard work, we had dug a hole that was about 4 feet deep and 6 feet wide. We also attracted an army of 6-year olds who were willing to help:

The Giant Hole
(pic by Omnibahumut)

Talking to the 6-year olds was probably the most interesting part. They kept saying "OMG", and one made some offhand comment about sushi. It blows my mind that kids are eating sushi these days.

Among the other things of interest I found was in an arcade called "Lucky Leo's"... remember the machine "Zoltar" from the movie "Big"? Well, here it is!

Zoltar Zoltar Zoltar

No, I did not ask him for my fortune. Smiling

As usual, I made use of PhillyCarShare to get to the beach and back. And hey, we even have our own group on Flickr now! It's at:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/phillycarshare/

On the beach

If you made it this far, then I might as well point anyone who's interested to the full set of my pictures:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmuth/sets/72157606168492404/

In summary, I came back slightly sunburned and very sore, but it was an otherwise awesome trip to the beach. I can't wait to go back next year!

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