Nook SimpleTouch eInk Tablet v2

I recently got the nook 1.2.1 firmware and it locks down the device (again). I knew I was likely to lose all my tablet-y stuff but frankly it wasn’t doing what I wanted it to and at the battery life I might as well have a new tablet. I blame the gapps, which never close and sync in the background nonstop. To add insult to injury, nook apps tend to assume you have colors. No colors makes for a very confusing experience. Also the eInk display tended to be hacky with special secret handshakes to activate fast mode, etc. Turns out someone else got really fed up with it also and decided to write a launcher and android ROM which was based on the official 1.2.1 and also knew someone might actually want to use the nook as a nook! WOW! So the smart guys over at XDA put together NookManager which does all this good stuff and still keeps the B&N official applications so you can read their books for free in the store. It even does the right things with the buttons which is really sweet.

That being said, Amazon seems to know something is up because the kindle app isn’t available in this ROM (although I suspect it’s because it upgrades the android core OS on the device) nor through the store. You have to sideload it from here, which is as simple as using dropbox to grap the APK and then opening it on the device. It does have the google RSS feed cacher, which I have desperately wanted and would crash immediately on the old ROM. The browser is still nothing special and will “forget” to update the page if you throw too much JS at it.

The only real rub is that I have to reseat my SD card for the nook to see it if the Nook completely runs out of battery. A small annoyance since I have 30 microUSB plugs next to my bed but still requires fingernails.

The Case of the Mysterious Missing MAC Address

Coriander is dead. Turmeric is alive. What does this mean? All the content on sftp.knarrnia.com went away except for the PDFs and various other ebook formats which I was smart enough to grab off the RAID before it entirely keeled over. The uptime for coriander was ultimately 20 minutes tops before it keeled over. Not bad for a computer I built in 2003 and then rebuilt when Drexel had the Heat Wave of Death which caused me to request an extension on the finals. The box was two RAIDed 80GB IDE drives, running OpenSuSE I had installed as a desktop and later simply retired to serving up content to my Nook and XBOX.

Turmeric, however, is a first gen nVidia motherboard. And if this is people’s experience with nVidia, I am entirely, absolutely done with them as a motherboard maker. My network is pretty standard for home use. I have an honest to god Cisco router, a Cisco WAP, a comcast bullshit cable modem which is probably going to have a terrible accident so I can get one that works, and all the devices meander through those. The XBOX is UPnP permissions, nothing else does. Turmeric/Coriander had a MAC address reservation so they would come up, get the right IP, and then the cisco firewalls would pass traffic to them as needed. It worked swimmingly well until Turmeric refused to get the IP I had reserved for it. It would always get a different IP than reserved, but it would get the IP consistently. I racked my brain on this problem for a few hours and finally broke out ettercap to see WTF it was doing.

Turns out the first gen nVidia motherboards do something really stupid with DHCP. Actually lets rewind for a minute – they generally do really stupid stuff. This motherboard has hardware RAID also, but it only works for the SATA drives. IDE? Shit out of luck. To further add insult to injury, the bootp stuff for jumpstarting a box? Doesn’t work. Never figured that one out. Finally there’s only two default devices you get set in the BIOS. For the moment it’s CDROM and then the first drive in the RAID, but to actually do the install I had to change CDROM to USB after burning out an image to it. What the heck guys?

Now, I’ll save you the boring TCP spec – When the nVidia board comes up it actually sends a DHCP packet on its own which is nice. The problem here is the HLEN of the packet is… 0. Yup. Someone didn’t know what to put in the field, so they send 0. This causes the router (thank god) to respond to FF:FF:FF:FF:FF:FF, which while it’s not correct, works because it’s a broadcast packet. The adaptor (seems) to configure itself, then Linux does something goofy where it sees the adapter is configured, so it sends out a release/renew, which the router, apparently knowing the MAC address but having an entry for a bogus MAC, sends out a different IP (next in pool) for the correct MAC address.

The BIOS, of course, doesn’t have a way to disable this “convenience feature” and to add insult to injury, dmesg doesn’t work in Linux because the BIOS is doing something funky by itself. For right now I’m just ignoring it. But seriously nVidia, fix your shit.

Georges Reserve Cigars

Working from home today while my wife gears up for her job interviews as a result of some successful sorcery, I decided to have a cigar on the deck and take in the nice weather. With a high of 40F out here, it’s practically spring in Pennsylvania. I threw my laptop on the deck and got connected and then went to grab a cigar.

Figuring I would get roped into hanging out with the kids at some points today, I wanted a cigar I could put down and not feel too terribly bad when/if it went out. Opening up the humidor I found a Georges Reserve Churchhill. Looking at the label and remembering I got it from Famous Smoke in a bundle, I figured it was probably a generic stick. I grabbed it, used my trusty knife and lighter to cap it and took a draw. It tasted like tea. Hmmm, the generic crap usually doesn’t taste like tea or have such a nice draw…

The smoke itself was easy, creamy, and had a wonderful depth of flavor. Unlike other cigars in the generic category, it left a bit of spice in my mouth and really had no offensive taste. Dare I say, it was downright good. In fact, it was so good I decided to look it up to see if I could get more.

Turns out they’re made by Olivia and sell for $5 a stick. Oops. That’s why I like them. Cameroon wrapper is almost always a win for me, even if I don’t always like Connecticut filler. That particular filler usually errs on the side of cigarette to me, Virginia especially. I am not huge on American (colonial) tobacco, but this one was really good and has me thinking I might be missing something.

That being said, I smoked it straight through the nub, and the thing just kept getting better. If you can find one for under $5 (or even $7) a stick, give it a smoke.

I Killed K5 – an Obituary

I did it. And now apparently I’m internet famous. What sort of interests me, aside of the fact that Rusty’s wife still tolerates the continued existence of Kuro5hin, is that the news handles internet pranks the way it should handle school shootings.

Of course, this is absolutely the wrong way to act.

In a school shooting, the shooter is just guaranteed his 10 minutes of fame. The media fawns over him, the guys face is all over the news, and everyone wants to know what would compel someone to do such a thing. In this prank, my name doesn’t come up once. Even more interesting, Rusty’s blog – kuro5hin.org – suspiciously doesn’t come up either. It’s no real surprise, google doesn’t index it anymore and it has a total readership of six. Sye has been pushing content to it via some sort of bizarre perl script, if he’s even a person. I think I doubled the readership alone posting a diary. I don’t really want the attention, I just want K5 to die. Oh and I enjoy a good prank, I really do.

Kuro5hin, for those not in the know, used to be glorious. A fork from slashdot back in the Web 1.0 days back when pictures of cats were expensive modem time, the text only essayist site provided not only interesting content but it was cheap. It filled a niche slashdot couldn’t, which was actual content on the site by people who knew what was actually happening. It was sort of a punk rock wikipedia if wikipedia were actually successful because it required peer review. Slashdot, reddit, twitter, and other small blurby social media sites were the future, but K5 was the here and now and it was great.

Rusty set the tone for the site fairly quickly, a site named Kuro5hin with a broken bridge was just flat out a bad meme. It would prove to be like finding out the guy who owned GrumpyCat was actually really grumpy in real life. A combination of lassie faire attitude towards moderation along with the general abuse of the userbase at the hands of the staff meant the best posters were quickly driven off, and as the trolls figured out they could set up fights between the staff and the well meaning users, it quickly frayed. This is really the same problems that the progeny of the site face – DailyKos has their “content” paid for and written by professional poltical hacks and digg accepts money for promotion. The former runs the code base (scoop) and the latter used the K5 look and feel up until recently. While these do actually spawn legitimate content, the reason why they work and K5 didn’t was because K5 never got the sponsorships enjoyed by slashdot, etc. In some ways it was a testament to integrity, and in the same way it was a harbinger of what was to come.

I submitted content and made friends, then I succumbed to the zeitgeist. Rusty, completely failing to secure any sort of nominal success in the media and walking off with $40k in donations from his own users, just stopped caring. The rest of the staff soon followed, and then the users, and then me. I became a troll. At one point I even offered to help Rusty, who had offered to make the last three users into admins. That never materialized and the shambling corpse continued on. It was actually sort of a pariah. Unlike Adequacy.org, it refused to die. At least Adequacy had the decency to clean up the worst of the off topic crap, set the database to read only and leave the lights on. K5 continues on as an insult to the content it hosted.

This blog post wouldn’t even be so rambling if I actually thought anyone knew was K5 was at this point. My facebook is filled with “lolwut?” messages. Social media is done, and now I blog.

When I bought a house, the remaining K5 Kamradery helpfully told facebook (and K5) I had died. It was actually fairly lulzy, and a plot point from the movie Hackers. Not one to pass up a hilarious opportunity, when Rusty proudly proclaimed he was turning off the internet and going to Mexico, I paid it forward.

I reported his facebook profile (log out if you’re from “the K5 crowd” and can’t see it – he keeps it public and your dupe account on facebook will work) as deceased with some random strangers obituary. As of right now, that obituary is the most popular link on google for “rusty foster obituary”. Poor guys family has no idea who he is. Facebook, employing people who live in third world shitholes, bought it. With no reply to the email they send, they did what any morally responsible social media company not stealing $40k would do – they turned off his account.

Rusty’s twitter predictably filled with butthurt, and I let it stew for a few days while I enjoyed confused family members, two people who were friendly enough with him to ask what happened, and the general confusion and bemusement. After a few days I decided to let him in on the prank and at least sent him a link to the obituary so he could get his facebook back. It still took facebook four days to actually sort it out. Four, lulzy days.

Rusty responded by editing my “I killed K5” post on Kuro5hin.org and killing the account, and AnilDash declined to run the story after I sent him a link to K5. The NBC community blogger was a bit of a surprise, but I like the tone of the story. For what it’s worth. All six users of K5 responded by goading Rusty, and he deleted just as many more commented, cutting the K5 user base fully in half (six users to three). Oh, and those vacation pictures of his trip to Mexico? Still public.

Update: Slashdot brings up the rear as usual.