Notes on a New World Order

Would you like fries with your Universe?

We have collectively decided we don't want to decide…2008-05-06 00:00

Blogging, the nihilist impulse

A nice long essay on the philosophical interpretations of Blogging phenomena. This is pretty much the sort of thing (though I found this quite some time after) that I started this site to aggregate, and hopefully produce.

The essay is a bit negative, from my perspective, but any time philosopher's are faced with the idea that the only course of action left is to give in to unreason, or to live a vapid empty lie of a life...well, you can see where they get it. The point is, the Internet is a cynical, nihilistic place, and this essay may help you to understand that you'll never understand why. I certainly can't follow even most of the references, but I'd say I understand enough of it to know that we're either pretty screwed, or philosopher's are going to have a hell of a time figuring out what to do when things really get going.

Guess who's back?2008-01-17 00:00

So my site is finally accessible from the general Internet again. Hopefully that'll motivate me to update and write some more things for publication here. For now, feel free to tell me how much stuff isn't here and how much better it would all be if I actually wrote some more articles.

Polycom 500 VoIP on the Cheap2007-11-29 00:00

Background

I'll start this story at the beginning, because there's no other place really to start a story, and get to the fun tech stuff later.

I worked over the summer and into the fall of this year (2007) at a small local company that provides call center, call recording, and CRM software solutions for a variety of businesses across the world. A big part of the business was VoIP solutions, both hosted and deployed at customer sites, and I spent some time working with Polycom 500/501 VoIP phone configuration files (dynamically generated over HTTP for the 501's).

At some point at work it was mentioned that the rather expensive Polycom phones could be had on eBay for a steal, and since I was curious I decided to take a look. One week later I ended up with a Polycom 500CS phone for a total of $17.50 including shipping. More after the break... The Problem The reason I was able to get the quite nice phone so cheaply was that it came without a power adapter. Usually that's not too much of a problem, because you can just pick one up at the local$hack. Complication #1: Polycom IP phones don't use a separate power supply, they take power over the ethernet cable. Complication #2: The Polycom power over ethernet isn't documented anywhere I could find on the internet.

Now, I could just go and buy an adaptor/special cable for the phone, but that would probably cost me as much as I paid for the phone, which is no good. I'm a cheapass student, I'm not going to pay more than I paid for the device to turn it on...

The Solution

So, the obvious solution, I think, is to just make my own damn cable / power supply. Unfortunately, I'm not an electronics guy really, and while I'm not a complete neophyte when it comes to soldering and wires, I really haven't physically done very much of this sort of hacking.

The first challenge, figuring out what power (voltage, which wires) wan't too difficult, because I was still working at the time and had easy access to take a look at a real polycom power supply. 12V, and on some pins I couldn't figure out.

The unused pins for 100Base ethernet are 4,5,7, and 8, so I just took an ethernet cable I didn't mind accidentally ruining and stripped out those wires. I took a multimeter to them and found out that 4,5 and 7,8 were connected.

I've got an old computer power supply (who doesn't?) that I've used for random tinkering before, so I twisted 4,5 and 7,8 wires together and hooked up the 12V from the power supply with some alligator clips and bits of wire™, and the multimeter for good measure just to see what voltages were where. I turned on the power supply and...blinking red light and bootup!

(Alright, there were a few hiccoughs and trials along the way, but I've outlined how I would do it if I knew what I was doing from the begining.)

So now all I've got to do is get a less bulky power brick that'll power the phone, solder it all up and start setting up the phone and software to connect up with Gizmo and FWD and so on. That's slightly complicated by the fact that the phone is a CS phone, meaning it's a MGCP protocol phone, but I'm fairly certain I can just flash the SIP firmware onto it, as SIP is much more widely used and there's more open source / free software that uses it.

The attached bad cell phone camera photos are hopefully illustrative of the setup and what I did. If not, sorry.

UPDATE: Well, having done some work to get the phone powered, I've run across a new problem. The phone seems broken, i.e. it won't pull DHCP, or even light up the port on the switch. I hope it's not something I did to it, but I can't be too upset, the thing was practically free.

So for now, it goes in the bin with all my other semi-broken electronics, waiting for me to have the time and skill to fix or cannibalize for other projects.

More updates when I have them...

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New Theme, Various and Sundry Updates2007-11-26 00:00

Well, changed the theme for the site, because I didn't really like the previous theme. Trying out some different content/view/publishing stuff for organizing the site, to hopefully make it less blog-like, for one, as, while there's nothing wrong with blogs, I'm not looking to be a blogger, and two, I'm trying to make the site useful as a resource and something to point people at for anything that I've written/done/wish I'd done.

Feedback is welcome, as always, and again, apologies to anyone with links to the old wordpress site.

$e^i\pi + 1 = 0$

Punctuality Problems2007-11-26 00:00

"The important thing is the educational experience itself — how to survive it." — Donald Barthelme

Cori woke up to a high and whiny sound filling her cluttered dormitory room. She rolled out of bed and grabbed her Student Information Device (SID). A sort of planner, organizer, and alarm clock economically packaged into a hand-held device the size of a small novel; University standard issue.

"Ugh," she said. Today is not a day I want to be woken up early by imminent annoyance, she thought, Starting the week exhausted is not the way to go.

Cori hit a button on the side of the device; the sound ceased. The SID display read, "WARNING: Temporal Disturbance. Local time altered. Low battery: change soon." She turned off the SID and quickly glanced at her clock: "1:20 PM." Her heart nearly skipped a beat. Her only Monday class, Genetic Engineering 253 Making Friends: Technique & Practice, started in ten minutes — on the other side of campus. Cori snatched up her things and started sprinting.

It's trouble if students are late for afternoon classes because morning didn't happen, thought Cori. One day isn't enough time to recover from Saturday's Fiasco Science Fair. I'm certainly not, and yesterday, people were still picking shrapnel out of their clothing.

Cori absently dodged through the normal campus hazards: High Energy & Entropy lab exhaust pipes, ambulatory vending machines, and the occasional crater. She vaguely remembered some of the new ones as she crossed the quad— it was all a bit foggy, she had awakened quite confused in the Student Health Center late Saturday afternoon.

What kind of sick person skips over Monday morning? she thought, There's nothing inherently bad about it. It's just unpopular because it comes after Sunday night.

Quickly glancing up at the University clock, Cori noticed the clock read Sunday, not Monday. Double-checking against her SID, she sighed. She was about twenty-four hours early.

"Not again," moaned Cori. Still, she couldn't remember what was the official policy for repeated days?

Movie Operating System2007-08-08 00:00

The Movie Operating System (MOS) is that operating system seen in the movies, the one with all the pretty graphics, weird displays, and magical powers. The one that doesn't have users, only passwords, and only one password. The one that can't be hacked from the outside, and runs on a mainframe in a vault underneath the volcano.

Yeah, right.

This document aims to outline how, in our very non-cinematic universe we could emulate the movie operating system, or at least fake it well enough that one could then film it as if it were real™.

First of all, I'd like to say this was my idea, but it's not. (See HollywoodOS for example.) I was introduced to it by a friend. I'm just writing this down here because I think it'd be a fun project, and, while I do work far too much right now, I do have the capability to do it. More or less.

My plan is to make a 'Linux flavor' that has basic functionality for the MOS, and work towards something usable as a 'software prop,' and eventually, perhaps as an actual computer (like, web browsing and email). Unfortunately, this plan will most likely require graphic design skills beyond my own, and creativity greater than what I can currently muster. Plus, I'm not much of a movie-goer, so I probably require inspiration from those who are to really do this idea any justice.

Planned features:

• After selecting what you want to do, you can hit any number of keys while the operation is being preformed, to pretend like you're controlling it.

Boot modes like:

• l33t-mode, where everything is text, but all flashy and neon-like

• 'Tron'-mode where everything is graphical and wireframed.

• SuperFuture-mode where there are no words, only strange graphical icons and 3d shapes that somehow have meaning. (Basically, this is an interactive screen-saver.)

• Computer-mode where the screen looks fairly normal, but behaves in a dramatically appropriate way. e.g. Progress bars move until 90% complete and then stay there for about 50% of the time before completing.

...more to come when I have time.

Updates / This Old Blog2007-07-19 00:00

I managed to figure out how to some of my older posts from "Conveniently Insane" (the blog that existed here before a harddrive crash wiped out somethings) because Facebook caches feeds you import for their Notes application. It's not quite as good as having a real backup, but it at least means I don't loose all that...uh...crap, really. But at least it's somewhere, as there are bits that I do want to keep around.

And for the record, I'm still not looking to be a blogger or maintain a blog, so that this happens to be blog-like is due to the fact that it was imported from a blog. Maybe I'll reformat the stuff that's worth it later, but for now, it's there. Uncategorized and unfiltered.

Notes on a New World Order is a collection of articles, essays, fiction, non-fiction, and other digital artifacts, as available. The content is written by Enimihil (aka Greg S.) and varies in scope, seriousness, and quality.

Browse around, comment, nag. Enjoy yourself. There's nothing worse than taking the world too seriously.

See Possibly Asked Questions for some more description.

Contact Info

Email: enimihil SHIFT-2 enimihil DOT net

I'm back...ish.2007-07-15 00:00

Alright, back to square one with this website thing again. No RSS subscribers, nobody has any permalinks to anything, no content, nothing.

Yeah, it sucks. Reason for my sudden reorganization is that the harddrive in this server unexpectedly decided enough was enough. And being the broke college student that I am, I didn't have backups or redundancy or anything useful to deal with that. And of course it happens within my first week or two of starting co-op job, meaning I'd have had money to setup and do a backup system only after this harddrive died. Ah, irony. Or just frustrating coincidence. In any case, I do think there were some things worth saving on the old site (Conveniently Insane, if you care) so I'm going to try some harddrive voodoo and grab what I can, but I'm none too hopeful, as the harddrive died from end-of-life issues (14,000 operational hours is quite enough).

In any case, I should probably point out the new name and tagline. Notes on a New World Order just popped into my head, not sure where from, when I was setting this up. So if I've shamelessly stolen it from somewhere, let me know. The tagline, is just me being less than serious, as it seems our world is becoming more custom by the minute. And of course, it plays off the idea of a "new world order." They screwed up the old order; they gave you this big blue marble with no robots or zombies or anything fun to do on Saturday.

Birthday Parties: Not mine, but I live here, so…2007-06-17 00:00

So we had a birthday party/June party for my sister and our exchange student Camila yesterday. There were lots of people, mostly foreign, because exchange students all know each other. Some people I knew were there, but mostly just my sister's friends and the exchange students. I was in charge of the campfire and tents and all sorts of outdoor things, and had a bit of an adventure, that, for posterity, I feel as though I should document... While preparing the fire, there was the idea to disassemble the fort/cabin/ground-house thing we had built a few summers ago and never really used. The wood was mostly rotten, as expected, and I stepped up onto the roof (which supported me just fine). In smashing bits off the roof and trying to break the boards off so that we could disassemble the rest of the thing, I managed to collapse most of the roof into the cabin. (No one was inside, thankfully) However, the part of the roof I was standing on also moved. This was not so good for my balance and I feel on top of the, now three feet lower, roof. Aside from being incredibly dirty and having a bruised ego, I was (and am) fine. I kinda wish I had it on tape, or something. It was pretty funny. And not at all dangerous or scary. Honest.

Note: This entry imported via Facebook's Note feature from my old website, much is expected to be broken.