Caitlin Really REALLY wants to join the “John Burton League” on Facebook.


I’m the administrator (and one-seventh of the membership) of the John Burton League on Facebook.  The only rule (and single requirement) is that all members be named John Burton.   Caitlin wanted to join, ’cause that’s how she rolls, and I rejected her, and here’s what happens:

Allow me to plead my case:

Raised in the swinging 60’s by a pack of wild dingoes in the remote northwest of Queensland, I learnt early on the importance of self-sufficiency and also that, really, dingoes don’t taste THAT bad.

It was some point in my early teens that I noticed I was ‘different’. Firstly, I had a distinct lack of fur. Secondly, I felt quite comfortable spending long periods of time on my hind legs. Thirdly, I possessed what can now only be described as an ‘amoebic’ quality. And alas I can only describe it as such because my vocabulary is distinctly (some might even say devastatingly) lacking.

Please, a few moments more – I shall expound. This characteristic seemed unique to me. It was difficult to explain even to our family’s patriarch and my mentor, Papa Dingo. The poor fellow was mono-syllabic at best. His only real conversational pieces involved the prospect of ‘tucker’ and to a lesser extent, his unbelievably debilitating paw rash.

But back to my…uniqueness. What I’m talking of is the ability to change form constantly. And not only in the sense of the present world – I mean across time, space, etc. I possess the remarkable ability to become any type of entity, both living and…inanimate, I suppose? It sounds interesting and perhaps even a desirable gift to possess but at such a young age, John. Never knowing who you truly are. Your name. Your background. Your true self!

Such a burden upon such young and fur-less shoulders! A young lass forced to traipse the outback, vainly attempting to hide her depression at being misunderstood behind the face of a clown, John. (No, really. I found a clown mask on a dead man’s body that my good friend Willomina Dingo had savagely torn apart, and the mask became a part of me. So much so, that when I was shot in the face by a vacationing Dick Cheney several months later, Mr Cheney actually shot me in the face again, and then in the heart, because he was convinced I was ‘It’ from the Stephen King movie of the same name…Don’t worry, I publicly apologised afterwards for causing Mr Cheney so much pain and heartache…After I’d mastered the English language, of course.)

It was a tough time – and it still is. I get by with the help of my friends, and a chronic heroin addiction. I am telling you all of this (and leaving big, conspicuous blank spots) so as to let you know that I am worthy of your exclusive club.

Spike Lee, Moll Flanders, Spartacus, Jupiter – I’ve been them all. (I also spent a brief period as Che Guevara, although only in screenprint form – it made me feel terribly anarchic, and hackneyed also).

Am I making sense, John? I AM John Burton. That is to say, I have been before, and will be again.

Let me in please, sir. Or may God have mercy on your soul.

The *only* thing that’s stopping me from letting her in is the danger of her NOT sending more things like this.

Posted on July 8th 2007 in Friends, People

Podcast #9 – The June 07 Show (1 of 2)

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So yeah, so… yeah.

Song list coming shortly, but you’ll all be happy to know the categories are fixed, even though none of the OTHER podcasts MP3s are back online after our main drive exploded a few weeks back. The data’s all safe & sound, but still offline. It’ll be back up again soon, kay? Kay.

Not entirely safe for work, or the faint of heart, so grab some headphones and send the kids to bed.

So start listening by clicking the play button (if you see one), or clicking this.

  • Talkybit 1
  • Check The OR – Organized Rhyme
  • Pressure Drop – The Specials
  • Hey Ya – Mat Weedle
  • Talkybit 2
  • Everybody Wants To Rule The World – Patti Smith
  • Who Am I (Animatrix Edit) – Peace Orchestra
  • Sea Lion – Sage Francis
  • Talkybit 3
  • Xltronicradio 20060118 – Mike Paradinas U-ziq
  • Rainbowarriors – Cocorosie
  • Where’s Johnny Sabatino – Dzihan & Kamien
  • Talkybit 4
  • Icky Thump – White Stripes
  • Parting Of The Sensory – Modest Mouse
  • Perpetual Dawn – The Orb
  • Talkybit 5
  • So Much For Everyone – Dan Mangan
  • Body’s In Trouble – Mary Margaret O’Hara
  • Bonus song & Easter Egg

Try downloading the site from a much-faster (but might-not-be-there-any-more) mirror.

And if you’re one of us evil Facebookin’ types, you can join the FB group found here.

Or put the RSS feed URL into your iTunes/Podcast grabber, and get ’em that way.

Posted on June 20th 2007 in Friends, Music, People, Podcast

Might not beat a 5th grader, but maybe Microsoft’s stealth department’ll want me?


So Arwen and I were watching this year’s “I’m a big dope on National Television (With Tense Theme Music and Dramaaaaaaaatic Pauses)” because 30Rock (Go TIna Fey – Woot!) wasn’t on, and in this particular episode of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader (AYSTA5G), we both got a question wrong. (Go here for the breakdown of what we got wrong, and why).

Right. So we thought this was odd, and Arwen went off to figure out why we were wrong on something that seemed pretty straight-forward, and in the meantime I pulled up my recently tagged urls to see what I’ve flagged to remember, or just to read later. One of them was a partial list of Microsoft Interview Questions, and the raw list of riddles, algorithms, applications, and thinkers from Microsoft.

Most of them, we agreed almost immediately on how we would attack the problems, which is sorta neat, ’cause we don’t really think the same way, but we’d very quickly agree on the best way to figure out the answer (even if we were too Saturday Morning to *actually* see if we were correct in our hypothoses).

One of the questions under the Riddles was this:

  • There is a room with a door (closed) and three light bulbs. Outside the room there are three switches, connected to the bulbs. You may manipulate the switches as you wish, but once you open the door you can’t change them. Identify each switch with its bulb.

I’m sure I’m ignoring the “spirit” of the question here, but I came up with this, and I think it speaks to how I work with technology in general, and why (maybe) I’m interested in things like viruses, spyware, and security, but here’s my “solution,” and I came up with it about 10 seconds after Arwen asked the question:

  • Pull the plate off the switches, and rewire when together, so all three are turned on/off with one switch. My response to ‘Identify each switch with its bulb’ would be ‘all of them on this switch.’

No wonder I make suits nervous sometimes.

Posted on March 17th 2007 in People

If you like that, you’ll love this…

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via Arwen:

Check out Indexed

…and then check out this video, of roughly the same sorts of things…

Posted on February 12th 2007 in People

Wow, and I thought *I* could talk fast.

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…and to think I was going to go to bed at 9pm tonight… HA!

So, for no particularly good reason, I’m sitting here at 12:13am, listening to the Kern County, California Law and Fire Radio Scanner (open that with Winamp, MediaPlayer, or iTunes, I’m assuming).

It’s sort of amazing, that there’s so much going on, and yet the dispatchers (all women, it seems) are capable of instantly matching the speed, tone, and urgency of their “folks in the field.” There’s a tonality shift that happens whenever there’s a new hailing on the line, and it’s like they’ll chorus together so they know who they’re talking to when there’s four or five interspersed conversations going on at once.

It’s like there’s this constant flow from Control of “I know you’re in danger, I know maybe you’re scared, but we’re all back here, and we’ll send more to you if you need it, okay? Just keep breathing, stay calm, and watch for the signs.” That’s a lot of data to cram into 2.5 seconds, and 40 syllables.

There’s also all sorts of weirdness (beeps, bleeps, and bloopie noises), and my techie brain instantly jumps in an starts counting pulses to see if I can tell if there were 7/10 codes (a phone number?) or some data stream going on. I’ve listened to enough analog data streams in my time to be able to discern a mod-

OKAY, that was just MORSE CODE, I’m pretty sure.

Oh, and if you have highspeed internet at home, and have one of those little network switches/hubs, (or even a router, probably), stick an AM radio on top of it some time and listen to the distortion that comes out of the network traffic you generate. I did this a few years back with a hub (not a switch) and it was sorta cool. If you like glitch.

Back to the radio…

…oh yeah, and there’s also all kinds of silliness that may or may not be random commentary from the peanut gallery. F’rinstance, there was a notice that went out to let everyone know that something was going to be announced to the entire shift, and after the codes were sent out (I’ve also got a page open with the codes so I can tell what SOME of this stuff is) letting everyone know there’d be a “real” announcement shortly… I heard someone say something to the effect of:

“Neepie heep kebooie – yip yip.”

I’m not kidding. It was pretty clear, and that’s what it sounded like.

There’s even the odd cop who’s voice, tempo, and tone all say “I’m too old for this shit.”

Oh, and it’s true: You really can hear people smile on the radio.

Someone keeps talking about “Ginger Snap” calling (to other units/groups). As if it was a person. I’m looking through the codes, and G-Unit (oh, HEY!) is the Gang Enforcement people.

Posted on February 10th 2007 in General, Hardware, People, Software

It’s like I’m wired on coffee, only less useful.

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misplacedfunkI wonder if this means I’m getting a cold or something. All evening, I’ve been feeling like I’ve got the attention span of a hummingbird watching blipverts on fast-forward.

Drinking too much coffee, and not eating enough food during the day leads me to this state, I think.

Work? Tried to get ODBC for a SQL 2000 server running on Vista 64bit. Oogly. Thanks to Somechick for the tips, but I still couldn’t get it goin’.

Surfing tonight? Weak.


I can’t upgrade to the latest & greatest WordPress 2.1 (the software that’s showing you this page right here), ’cause my installed verison of MySQL is ancient. Poop.

So… I looked around at some movies I might like to see in the near future (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Prestige, Russel Peters, Children of Men), tried to figure out how I could listen to the fantastic James Brown Respect show done at SolidSteel (but it’s now an “Archived Show” at TotallyRadio. Bombed around looking for old computer emulators (C128 running GEOS, anyone?). Ran through some of my links saved at and then just sorta… flailed around.

Watched some Mythbusters. Ate some yummy Rice Crispy Squares that Arwen made. Narmo

…oh, and that new Sam Rami film, “The Messengers” gives me the major heebie jeebies, even though I’m sure the scariest stuff is in the ad (much like “The Grudge”).

I haven’t done the “What I Got For Xmas” post that everyone else did, but Arwen got me some really squippy shirts, and here’s one of ’em: thisshirt

which is from (probably the only thing from that site I could actually WEAR TO WORK without having something really really bad happen to me).

I also go three really awesome shirts from Threadless, which does some really neat stuff.

and then I uh… some stuff.

Nope, no drive. I’m tired, I think. Maybe.

Next shirt I need to get myself, (’cause it’ll go with my “ObeyTheTube” shirt, and my “Obey Gravity, It’s The Law shirt,”) is one of these, even though I really don’t understand what it is exactly these folks are up to, really:


Maybe I’ll be less… lossy tomorrow, and I’ll do a *real* post one of these days.

Posted on January 22nd 2007 in General, People

I don’t think I wanna play in the big leagues…

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Over at XSCargo, they seem to be having a bit of a database woo.

For $9.99, you can buy yourself World Series of Poke.

Which of course, brings out the Marx brother in me, who says:

Do they have “Strip Poke” too?

Posted on December 15th 2006 in People

Sharpening the blades, geeking out, and the Force.


Hello everyone.

Another long rambly thing from me. Feel free to skip. I won’t be hurt. Heck, *I* probably won’t read this thing again after tonight.

This week has been a good one, even though the (sudden. actual.) snow here in Raincouver has been messing with my commute. I’ve been playing with the “real” version of Vista (downloaded legitimately, via the Microsoft Developers Network), and now that I know a few of the keyboard shortcuts, I’m starting to feel like it’s not ALL bad. Of course, there’s still a lot of “I could do that before, using free utilities” feelings, but for the most part, I’m somewhat amazed at how many devices and things work just fine, with drivers installing on the first plug. Perhaps the term “Plug and Pray” will revert to what it was supposed to be “Plug and Play.”

F’rinstance, I plugged a PCMCIA Adaptec Firewire card into this laptop in order to attach my Western Digital external drive *AND* my Maxtor external at the same time. Hear that, world? I’ve currently got 750GB of drive space attached to this little laptop here. When you start thinking of available drive space in terms of “Three Quarters of a Terabyte,” you start to get a little wobbly remembering that first PC I had with the whopping 110MB of space. These days I carry ten times that in my pocket in the form of a USB drive.

…and don’t get me started on the Commodore 64 my mom bought us back in the day, when she splurged the extra $400 (or was it $600?) for the 5.25″ floppy drive (as opposed to the current-gen standard of the TAPE DRIVE) that was single sided, single density. That’s 180K, if I recall correctly.

Yeah, so, I’ve been more of a techie this week, and less of a manager, which is good. What’s funny is that feeling of getting back to where I’m comfortable in my imaginary stealth chopper. I’m better at figuring out how to deal with some of the more… Office Political… parts of my job. The problems and people I have to deal with that are “less tech / more talk” are easier to work with/around if I’ve had my daily dose of geekery, first (or know that I can geek out later in the day).

Something comes back to me while I transfer the 232GB of Shitoshi’s recovered drive image, and download the squippy-lookin’ build of Linux that looks like it could probably be the Vista/OSX-For-Linux-Users (Kororaa). This was said to me while I was sheepishly talking about some of the software (some data-recovery and forensics applications) I’d acquired via, let’s say “unconventional” means, and what I was learning to do with said software (and I’m paraphrasing):

“As a samurai, you must keep your blades sharp and practice your craft, in the event that you may be called upon to ‘Save The Day,’ so that you may have no fear in your heart as you descend into battle.” (The Electric Gumshoe put it better, but I’ve forgotten it now).

and I think about that idea of sharpening my blades, and it makes me think of something I call the Intruder Complex, which is that feeling one has in a job where they don’t feel totally comfortable, and they’re not really sure what they’re doing just yet. The feeling is that any moment now your boss/co-workers/girlfriend/child will figure out that you don’t know what you’re doing, and blow you out of the water right there and then. y I remember quite well the sensation that Cam (my first boss in my first techie job, where I learned my way around 386 PCs, Windows 3.1, and Novell servers) was going to haul off and punch me in the face because I had screwed something up on An Important Machine. It would never have happened, of course, ’cause Cam was probably feeling not much different than I was – he was a techie who started a company on the top floor of his father-in-law’s machining shop, and mostly he assembled computers and servers for small companies of about 10-20 users. I was his second employee, ever.

So I learned my craft, and every time I *didn’t* screw things up, I felt a little better, and the better I got at troubleshooting (and/or recovering from my own mistakes so fast nobody noticed I didn’t know it the first time), the less and less I felt like I was going to be fired on the spot. That complex goes away after a while. But it sure comes back every time you get moved on to something new.

And then you move up and up in the ladder of technicians, across the line into guru or mad scientist land. You start pulling craziness from the magician’s hat, only it’s not always a cute little bunny you pulled out of that hat, like people might have expected you to. It’s this horrifying multi-legged gibbering *thing* that came from the deep blackness of the net, and it might eat every machine in a 50-foot radius if you don’t handle it properly. And nobody knows how to handle it properly, and everyone who knows enough about such things knows enough to be a little scared.

I guess that’s the thing: In order to be really good at your job, you’ve got to be crazy enough to handle the dangerous stuff, but strong enough to get yourself out of the bad stuff if the fur starts to fly. If you never do the dangerous/scary stuff, what you do won’t show up easily on the radar (your boss’, your partner’s, your co-worker’s, your kid’s, your own). Even if it’s not in a good light all the time, at least you’re being noticed. I’ve screwed things up before, and come clean most of the time. Fail faster, I’ve been saying over the last few months. If you’re not going to make it out of a technical/political brawl you got into, let the others around you know as soon as possible. If they’re really on your side, they’ll slam their back against yours and start fighting too.

Always have a backup piece. A good backup. It helps to have a bigger and scarier friend you can turn to if things get really out of control, too.

What I sometimes forget is that some of the techies I work with don’t like the scary stuff. It scares them. Scares them back to that horrible “I’m gonna get punched/fired” feeling. I want to be brave for them, but that doesn’t work. My only advice for them is “You have to enjoy the sensation of not knowing. This job is too difficult to do if it isn’t fun. Even if it’s kinda demented that you find the difficult stuff *fun.*”

So what the heck am I talking about again?

I’ll sum up, and since I’m not even making sense to *myself* any more, so I’ll do it in StarWars-ese:

1. Be brave. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
2. Keep your lightsaber nearby (and know how to use it, even with the blast shield down).
3. Find yourself an Old Ben Kenobi (from Episode Four, not One).
3a. and a Yoda (from Episode Five, not One).
3b. and the odd Han and Chewie, just in case.
4. Know what the Empire is building, just don’t mess with it until you know how.
5. Stay on target… STAY ON TARGET…
6. The Force might always be with you, but it won’t help if you’ve got it pointed the wrong way.

That’s all from me for tonight, ’cause my brain’s full of stuff that’s even hokier than that was.

Next post will probably be about my new super-reinforced-stitching button-fly jeans. (I kid you not).

and now, since this post is all about hired assassins and royal bodyguards (what? it wasn’t?), here’s a quote from the film GhostDog, in which a great big black man (Forrest Whittaker) becomes the most believable samurai an American film has ever produced:

There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.

Posted on December 1st 2006 in Friends, General, Hardware, People, Software

Omigod! Made it to round two!

1 Comment »

I don’t know how the heck it happened, but I made it through round one of the Canadian Blog Awards in the Sci/Tech category.

Canadian Blog Awards

Well, that’s not an entirely true statement. I *DO* know how the heck that happened: I have some wonderful friends and readers who were kind enough to go and vote (every day!) and I ended up with enough votes to place third. How Canadian can one get? If I’d come in first, I’d be embarassed that someone somewhere was doing something they weren’t supposed to be doing, but luckily the contest only allows one vote per day per person, so I can’t just let my devious mind sit there and hammer on the Vote/Back buttons. Second would have felt sorta like I was a poser or someth-

That’s it: #3 is the “kitchen party” of any contest.

But no! I really didn’t harness my techie skills for evil! Not that I’ve ever done that in the past on slightly less… stringent… online sweepstakes? (Seriously folks: I think gone are the days when we can sit at our desks and alternate clicks between the “See if you’ve won” and “Back” buttons for hours on end. If they hadn’t, I’d have a truckload of iPods in my storage locker right about now.

Oh, and Happy Birthday to SomeChick, even though she did end up at home with a Snuffleuppagus (is that how that’s spelled, or am I now going to get hits from other typo-addled muppetfans?)

Posted on November 22nd 2006 in General, People, Places

Not sure which is more muppet-like (youtube videos)

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Remember the video I posted a while back that contained the Hurratorpedo cover of Total Eclipse of the Heart, with the three guys destroying a bunch of kitchen equipment?

Well here’s another song by them. “All the Things (S)he Said

This is probably the closest thing out there to a Stomp “Band” (but I’ve seen Stomp, and dude, I would’ve danced if there was room). Check out video of Stomp in performance here.

…and then there’s the lead singer acoustically ranting about spraypaint “tagging,” I think.

Posted on November 18th 2006 in People
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