Jacob's Chatter
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
  Adobe, There is a GIMP Knocking at Your Back Door

It comes to me as no surprise that Adobe Photoshop CS is riddled with ridiculous amounts of DRM and spyware. Why anyone in their right mind would spend upwards to $650.00 just to be treated like a common criminal is beyond me.

Fret not loyal readers, the remedy is well within your grasp. I speak of none other than The GIMP 2.0. For the price of zero dollars and zero cents (for those of you bad at math, that's $650.00 less than Photoshop) you not only get a full-featured image editor which feature for feature trumps Photoshop CS in every way, you can sleep at night knowing your application is not "phoning home" and monitoring you like a felon on house arrest.

I predict that this maneuver by Adobe is the final nail in their coffin. It's one thing to charge an arm and a leg for a simple image editor. It's another to punish your loyal users with unwarranted spyware and DRM that monitors their every step.

This is a HUGE boost for The GIMP. Huge.

Monday, March 29, 2004
  I, Prankster

Yesterday I was unfortunately placed in charge of watching my idiot 14-year-old cousin. He persuded me to take him to the horrible Hollywood bastardization of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Lucky for the both of us it was no longer playing at the mall. The other Sunday matinee shows were equally as bad, so it goes without saying movie-time was cancelled.

After much debate, we decided to purchase a DVD to make up for the lack of decent titles out in the theaters. This is where I decided to have some fun at the expense of the whipping boy lemmings (WBL) at my local Suncoast.

I asked Numb-Nuts (as I oh-so affectionately refer to my cousin) to keep his pie hole shut as I played my ultimate stunt. I was browsing the DVD section and noticed a WBL standing near the The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers display.

Me: "The Lord of the Rings? When did they make a film about Lord of the Rings?"

WBL: (looks at me funny but does not take the bait)

Me: (to WBL) "Excuse me sir, is this by chance the 1978 Ralph Bakshi cartoon?"

WBL: (uninterested) "No it's the new movie." (goes back to being a shelf-stocking lemming)

Me: "A new film you say? I have not heard of it."

WBL: "You never heard of The Lord of the Rings?"

Me: "I have indeed heard of 'The Lord of the Rings' sir. I have read the novels no less than twenty times each. It is this 'new movie' that I am unfamiliar with."

WBL: "Are you serious? Have you been living under a rock for the last five years? (to WBL2) Ed, this guy never heard of The Lord of the Rings."

The conversation went on for far too long after that but I never let the proverbial cat out of the proverbial bag, so to speak. Score one for Jacob's sense of humour, even if Numb-Nuts was too embarrassed to admit it was ingeniously funny.

Anyway, we purchased the second Matrix film which was utter crapola not to mention it was filled with numerous technical inaccuracies. What a joke. If only I could return it I would do so right this minute.

Hollywood is clueless when it comes to technology. If I were a sell-out, I would become a consultant to such films and make millions. Alas, I have chosen the road of the righteous and that is what allows me to sleep at night.

Saturday, March 27, 2004
  Ask Jacob

Taking a cue from the always excellent slashdot.org, I have decided to address some of the many emails I receive in this, a public forum. If you have a question for yours truly, please feel free to write askjacob@jacobschatter.com. Please keep your messages within the realm of computer science, Linux and open source in particular.

I will start off with an email I received just yesterday which gave me the idea for this column. I receive email like this all the time, so it goes without saying it is the perfect starting point for my "Ask Jacob" segment.


I run a small graphics design firm. We have just under 25 employees and have historically been a "Microsoft shop." We are coming up on our four-year hardware refresh and would love to know how Linux could fit into our equation. Our key apps are Microsoft Office and Photoshop. Our workstations are currently running Windows 2000 and our server (only one) is still on running NT 4.0.

Any recommendations on how to slowly introduce Linux into our environment?

Dave Parks, IT Director, Chicago IL

Great email David. I receive this very question quite often. The good news is now is the perfect time to jump into the wonderful world of Linux and open source. Using the data you provided, I was able to put together a detailed cost analysis of your situation. Here is a very conservative estimate of what you will be paying up front if you continue using a closed solution:

Windows 2003 Server Enterprise$3,999
Windows XP Pro (x25)7,475
Microsoft Office 2003 (x25)12,475
Adobe Photoshop CS (x25)14,975

That does not even take into account support costs and the cleanup of the viri which will inevitably strike your network numerous times over the next four years.

Now let's compare the figures above to that of an open solution:

Gentoo Linux 2004.0 (Server)FREE
Gentoo Linux 2004.0 (Workstation) (x25)FREE
Open Office 1.1.0 (x25)FREE
The Gimp 2.0 (x25)FREE

As you can clearly see, moving to a 100% Linux/open-source solution will save you nothing but money. But wait, that's not even the end. Due to Gentoo compiling its applications to your hardware, not the lowest common denominator like pre-compiled OS and applications, you can get away with cheaper hardware. My experience shows that a Xeon 3.2Ghz/1GB of RAM PC running Windoze is roughly equivalent to a Pentium 4 1.4Ghz with 256MB of RAM running Gentoo. It is my experience that other Linux distributions (Redhat in particular) offer less of a performance boost.

In my book that's a win-win situation for everyone, except of course M$. Thank you for writing David and good luck in your swapping of a monopolist for a community.

Thursday, March 25, 2004
  Dismissed, Sir

As expected, my formula for getting out of jury duty worked like a charm. I suggest anyone reading try the same if they are ever called to duty:

  1. Do not comb your hair. It's best if left sticking up in patches. A ripe pair of jeans from the laundry basket cannot hurt either. Although I chose not to go that route, your mileage may vary.

  2. Microsoft Monopoly T-Shirt. Fitting especially that M$ got hit with a $613 million dollar fine in Europe yesterday. Perfect timing I must admit.

  3. Bring a copy of The Catcher in the Rye and read it while waiting to be called in. It's actually a pretty good book. I can relate to a lot of what Holden Caulfield has to say, especially about the phonies.

  4. When asked a question, mutter an expletive to yourself before answering. It's best to honestly answer their question, but the cursing will make them think you are mentally unstable.

Total time it took before I was ruled unfit to perform jury duty: One minute, twenty-three seconds exactly. Now I have plenty of time for my latest secret project. Before that however, I shall indulge in a friendly game of UT2K4. I for one have mastered Onslaught, even if I learned from playing bots.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004
  Very Funny

I was awaken by a phone call at 3am this morning:

Me: Hello?

Voice: Is this Jacob _____?

Me: Yes. Who is this?

Voice: Never mind that. Shut down Jacob's Chatter immediately or they will be picking your bones out of the sand. *click*

While I suspect Microsoft is making subverted attempts to shut me down, they would never use such direct tactics as threatening phone calls. This leads me to believe it is one of my readers donning the role of a prankster. Let me assure you this, good sir. You may have tried to pull a fast one on me but the joke is on you. I will not rest until I have tracked you down. Although "*69" proved fruitless, let's just say I have my way of finding things out. You will be the one losing sleep next round, this I assure you.

With that said, yours truly has a date with jury duty today. Not to worry, I have a plan to get out of it. More on that tomorrow.

Sunday, March 21, 2004
  Et Tu, Google?

It seems the powers that be have lowered my Google relevance to below that of two sites run by the opposition. I do not see how this is possible, having extensively studied Google's PageRank Technology and dissected every aspect of it's innards for my open source research.

I have come to one conclusion and this conclusion breaks my heart to no end. Clearly there is someone at Google has joined the ranks of those who attempt to defile my good cause. Who this traitor in the midst is remains a mystery. I can only imagine it is someone at the very head of the technological chain, therefore I must consider Google itself to be in cahoots with the enemy. I believe it was Sun Tzu who said, "Those who are in cahoots with the enemy are also my enemy."

Google has been known to alter their searches in the past, but it was always to the benefit of The Cause. For instance, searching for Bill Gates would return a page about the anti-Christ. I would have never imagined that one day Google, one of the largest Linux proponents, would go turncoat.

I have no choice but to protest Google for this act of betrayal. It goes without saying that I will be using Inktomi's search engine from now on. At least they have the dignity not to alter their searches to fulfill their hidden agenda.

I bid thee good riddance traitors. Like Sauron (not the one from the horrible films), you too shall meet your end as a result of your lust for power.

Thursday, March 18, 2004
  Do Not Disturb

I have been playing the excellent Unreal Tournament 2004 for almost the past 48 hours straight. This is further proof that Linux gaming on the rise (as if we needed anymore proof). Here we have a triple-A, #1 selling game with our beloved Tux right on the box. The future is looking nothing but bright for Linux (Gentoo in particular).

I was up until 4:00am last night fighting another Jacob, except this one spells his name "Jakob". We went at it for almost 30 rounds of deathmatch, being the only ones on the server at the time. My advice to "Jakob" is this, if he is reading -- You may have won the majority of the matches, but trust me on this sir, I will be back tonight to finish you off. Get a headset too, I am tired of doing all the talking.

Back to the game. Jacob out.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004
  Wauwatosa, We Have a Problem

It seems the so-called "free" image hosting site I have been using has decided to go the way of Redhat and others by taking away their "free" service. This explains the "bad referer link" graphic you see in liue of my pictures. I am working on getting some dedicated web hosting. Until then, I am sorry to say we must live with the "bad referer link" graphic.

Perhaps now I can offer a proper jacobschatter.com.

Monday, March 15, 2004
  Gentoo Users are Superior Because Gentoo is Superior

I grow tired of whiners nagging me for running Gentoo over more "mainstream" distributions like DeadHat, SuSE, or Debian. I won't even acknowledge utter crapola such as Lindows or Mandrake.

Just because I choose to compile my applications with full optimization settings does not mean I want to hear commentary from every "Johnny Come Lately" who picked up his first distro last week. I would wager that the majority of the complainers have never touched gcc or a makefile in their lives. Who are they to judge me?

Gentoo is the Linux distribution. All others are bloated, un-optimized wastes of my time. While I am more tolerant of my Linux brethren over say, Windoze lemmings and Apple cultists, I must make it abundantly clear that Gentoo is the superior distro and in turn, Gentoo users are the superior users.

I sat up many hours last night thinking this out. If I may, I would now like to present my chart of Linux distro and operating system superiority:


Undoubtedly many will not concur with my research. So be it. Whitehat hackers like myself must learn to be tolerant of others in order to fully appreciate the excellence of our chosen OS.

Saturday, March 13, 2004
  Quiz the Luddite: Redux

Unfortunately, I had to go to CompUSA this morning to pick up a few feet of Ethernet cable. While there I decided to peruse their crappy selection of software, just for the fun of it. Windoze lemmings are more than willing to shell out hundreds of dollars on utilities such as Norton Antivirus and Systemworks because M$ cannot create an operation system that is not riddled with viri and architectural flaws. Anyway, I digress.

While walking the aisles I was as surprised as anyone to see a Linux section. Granted it consisted of about four boxes, two of which being DeadHat, none-the-less the presence was there. What angered me however, was they had the audacity to charge $85 for a copy of SuSE Linux. That was it, someone had to answer for this atrocity.

Lucky for me a red-shirted KompUSSR whipping boy was busy organizing the shelves in the next aisle. When he came to my aisle is when I ambushed him:

Me: "Excuse me sir, is this copy of SuSE Linux really $85?"

Him: (looks a price on shelf) "I... believe so sir, you can take it to the register and have it scanned to verify."

Me:  "No thank you. Am I to assume that this copy of SuSE Linux costs some amount of money? Be it one-dollar or eighty-five, it still costs something, right?"

Him: (smiles nervously) "Well, yes sir. Of course... Everything in the store costs something."

Me:  "Are you aware that I can download a copy of Gentoo Linux, a superior distribution, free of charge and it will include everything in this $85 box and more? In light of this, I must ask, why would anyone pay a red cent for this copy of SuSE Linux?"

Him: "I... I don't know si..."

Me:  (cutting him off mid-sentence) "Just as I suspected. Good day, sir." (I turn my back on the idiot and head for the accessories section to pick up my cables).

On the way out my bag was searched thoroughly. It goes without saying I struck a chord that has not yet been struck at that establishment. I made a promise to myself not to insult the staff before I went in. Oh my, it looks like I failed. It seems I owe myself one Milky Way bar as punishment. Time to pay up. Jacob out.

Friday, March 12, 2004
  Reader Mail

Despite what the opposition claims, it seems I have a wide audience of supporters. Just dipping randomly into my mailbag yeilds:

Jenz from Germany writes:


Great site. As a user of Linux (Gentoo in particular) It's good to know a guy like you is on the front line. Great site, I check it everyday.

John from Texas writes:


Great idea for a MAME cabinet. I was thinking of building one myself. Would you really recommend Linux over Windows for the emulator? I was considering using MAME32 as the front end. Is Linux really much faster as you claim?

Ed from New Jersey writes:


You rock dude. That time you embarrassed the dork at the Apple Store was so funny I was LMAOROTF for a day. I went to [the] Apple Store in NYC last weekend and replaced the homepage of the machine I was using [to] Jacob's Chatter. I should have took a picture LOL.

Thank you all for writing in. I appreciate the support.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

The anti-Linux, pro-M$ opposition have gotten out of hand. I have had a person (who shall remain nameless) challenge me to gain the administrator password to his Windoze box via SSH. I have to laugh because not only does Windoze not ship with SSH, if he did set it up via cygwin or the commercial SSH implementation it's probably installed incorrectly. This person is undoubtedly not using a public/private key scheme for authentication. I would wager his administrator password is "administrator" or even worse, it's blank. Windoze allows blank administrator passwords, Gentoo does not.

I apologize, sir, but I have to turn the challenge down. I would rather shoot monkeys in a barrel than waste my time hacking Windoze. It goes without saying that shooting monkeys would be more fun. It also goes without saying that the monkeys I would be shooting would be smarter than the average MCSE.

Even crappy MacOS X ships with a fully compliant SSH server and client. I gather M$ was too reluctant to embrace an open standard so they turned their backs on SSH entirely. What did they replace it with? A half-hearted remote GUI called Remote Desktop. Most MCSEs are probably too stupid to figure out a CLI, so M$ has push an entire GUI over the network just so the CHIMPs can click on their little icons -- most likely to apply the security patch of the day. I wouldn't expect someone who applied to a school which advertises on matchbook covers to understand bash or csh anyway.

Never before have I had the displeasure of associating myself with a more vehement group as Windoze zealots. I suppose when your career is in jeopardy because of the impending onslaught of Linux I would be angry as well. Oh well, time to compile 2.6.4. Jacob out.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004
  The gPod

I have grown sick of seeing lemmings walking around my town with white earphones, undoubtedly connected to the yuppie scum toy known as the iPod. Today, I saw a woman in the park with a pink iPod. That was it for me, I knew at that very second it was time do something about the situation.

Normally I port my Zaurus around to listen to music on the go. It's a good player even though it is memory-based and limited in capacity. The real problem is the Zaurus does not shout "Look at me, I am a Linux user," as the iPod shouts "Look at me, I am a Mac loser user." Then, suddenly, the solution sprang into my head.

I took my trusty 600E and loaded my entire Ogg collection on to it then installed Blackbox and XMMS 1.2.10. I designed a very stylish logo in The Gimp that shouted "Linux Power" and taped it the top of the Thinkpad. I will be having the logo silk-screened once I can finalize the design. I strapped the resulting device on to my waist with an old belt. At first glance it was clear that it not really stylish enough to be an iPod killer. I wanted it to shout, "lookout crApple lemming!" Scrounging through my mountain of wires found a stylish purple cable which was perfect for the task. The result:

I dub it the "gPod" -- The "g" is of course for Gentoo. While a tad larger than the iPod, the point was not form factor.

Tomorrow I take it to the park to show "pinky" a thing or two about Linux and style. Unfortunately the batteries are no longer operational in the unit so I cannot actually use it to play music outside of the house. None-the-less people will never know it's non-functional. I am out to make a point, not listen to music. That's two great ideas in a week, I am certainly on a roll.

UPDATE: Because most of my clientele are too slow to catch on to my subtle brand of humour, the gPod is supposed to be an over-the-top jab at Apple and their overpriced "stylish" devices. Sigh, I really hate having to spell things out to people.

Sunday, March 07, 2004
  Watching You Watching Me

I would like to take this opportunity to say hello to my new friends at none other than microsoft.com. I have logged no less than 300 requests from Microsoft internal domains in the past two weeks alone, with more coming in every day. It is clear to me that word has spread right to Redmond that a loud voice of Linux (Gentoo in particular) has been causing quite a stir on "the net."

Sigh. Monitor me all you want, good sirs. It is abundantly clear from the now infamous Halloween Documents that there is an entire department at M$ devoted to monitoring and attempting to discredit the Linux community and its proponents. It goes without saying that I am the project of the month.

I would consider it an honor of sorts, yet, I cannot help but feel violated. It's not every day that a corrupt corporation run by villainous scum makes you their pet project.

How you employees of M$ accept your paychecks with a clear conscience is beyond me. In my opinion you are worse than baby killers. I will be among the first to laugh when your coveted stock options are no longer worth the paper they are printed on. That time is coming and there is nothing you can do about. Nothing can stop the juggernaut that is Linux. Not Windoze. Not Bill Gate$ billions. Nothing.

I bid thee good night and happy monitoring.

Saturday, March 06, 2004
  The Operation Was a Mild-Success

Well, I started off at 8pm last night on Project: Wake Up. I brought my Thinkpad 600E with me along with the best investment I ever made -- my universal car adapter. It goes without saying that many a night I have wardriven my neighborhood. It also goes without saying that I have it well mapped out and shall always have an unfettered connection at the ready.

Regardless, I was only able to drive around for a half an hour being I was extremely low on gasoline and I wanted to keep a low profile. NOT using my credit card was top priority being the Gestapo have undoubtedly been monitoring my activities as of late. I registered three successful hits but unfortunately I also registered over fifty unsuccessful attempts. It did not occur to me at the time of the plan's inception that most WI-FI routers block all ports by default. It seems I put the proverbial trees before the forest.

I think it is, as they say where I hail from, time to go back to formula. One of my readers has suggested I organize a grass roots Linux-awareness campaign. While the passive approach is really not my forte, I suppose I can devise some way to "spice it up." More on that topic later.

Friday, March 05, 2004
  Project: Wake Up

I have spent the last day crafting a program which scans for Wireless Access Points with the Microsoft Messenger Service running and the correct ports open. My program then sends the following text to that WAP as a Messenger notification:

If you are reading this you are currently living like a lemming. Please consider installing a REAL operating system such as Linux (Gentoo in particular) to escape the shackles of M$. Thank you in advance for your cooperation. I apologize for the interruption.

-- The enlightened one

Tonight I am going to drive around my neighborhood and unleash the first wave. It goes without saying that I will undoubtedly be stirring up a media frenzy, which will in turn draw attention The Cause. I will walk around my block tomorrow to get a feel for the "buzz" generated. This is the best idea I have had in years.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004
  Hello From LemmingLand

I am posting this entry live from the Apple Store. It seems my favorite manager is out today so I took it upon myself to come in and browse the crappy Apple computers. I am posting this from a dual-G5 tower. Not only is it bigger than a house, it seems to be blowing out more hot air than the majority of my comment posters.

The web browser in OS X is a piece of rubbish. Not only does it look like a bad Amiga app with its metal skin, it runs like a wet dog in the mud. Resizing the window is extremely sloppy and slow, and that's on a 2.0Ghz machine. Who in their right mind would pay $3000 (USD) for something that runs slower than my 266Mhz Thinkpad? Perhaps if I could get Yellow Dog Linux or even better Gentoo on here I could make a fair assessment of the hardware. As it stands, this OS is utter crapola.

Well, I am getting looks from both the staff and clientele. Obviously I am not "artsy" enough to fit in here. Or perhaps is it my "Got Root?" t-shirt that is drawing their attention? It goes without saying I would never buy anything from this store anyway. Time to hit Gamestop. Jacob out.

Monday, March 01, 2004
  Gentoo 2004.0

It goes without saying that I am as excited as the proverbial pig in slop that Gentoo 2004.0 has been released. I suggest everyone head over to the Gentoo Store and buy a copy, or at least donate to the cause. I for one will be donating a pretty penny, for Gentoo has helped me in more ways than I can put into words.

Free as in beer and speech.

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