Perhaps my all-time favorite movie monologue

Why shouldn’t I work for the NSA? That’s a tough one. But I’ll take a shot. Say I’m working at the NSA, and somebody puts a code on my desk, something no one else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it, and maybe I break it. And I’m real happy with myself, ’cause I did my job well.

But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East, and once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels are hiding. Fifteen hundred people that I never met, never had no problem with, get killed.

Now the politicians are saying, “Oh, send in the marines to secure the area,” ’cause they don’t give a shit. It won’t be their kid over there getting shot, just like it wasn’t them when their number got called, ’cause they were pulling a tour in the National Guard. It’ll be some kid from Southie over there taking shrapnel in the ass.

He comes back to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, ’cause he’ll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks.

Meanwhile, he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so that we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And of course the oil companies used the little skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices — a cute little ancillary benefit for them, but it ain’t helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon.

They’re taking their sweet time bringing the oil back, of course. Maybe they even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin’ play slalom with the icebergs. It ain’t too long ’till he hits one, spills the oil, and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic.

So now my buddy’s out of work. He can’t afford to drive, so he’s walking to the fuckin’ job interviews, which sucks because the shrapnel in his ass is giving him chronic hemorrhoids. And meanwhile he’s starving, ’cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat the only blue plate special they’re serving is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State.

So what did I think? I’m holding out for something better. I figure: fuck it, while I’m at it, why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe, and join the National Guard? I could be elected President.

On simple solutions

A few years ago I re-purposed an old desktop PC from uni as a media and file server. A design goal was having the machine be as close to silent as possible. Noisy stuff is annoying anyway, but doubly so in a living room where silence really is paramount. To achieve that goal I used my steadfast Antec Sonata case with rubber-washer HD trays, an old fanless video card, and a new power supply with a 120mm fan (let me know when they make fanless ones for AT motherboards). The only noisy component left was the stock CPU fan which I replaced with a Thermaltake ‘quiet’ model. The result was a success if I say so myself, especially considering the total cost.

Last week that Thermaltake CPU fan hit the dust. The bearings just gave up. Luckily, that failure didn’t cause any other damage and since the motherboard is a few years old the replacement Zalman model fan was cheap. Unluckily, this Zalman was significantly noisier than what it replaced, despite claims of silent operation.

The solution was wonderfully simple: I attached a resistor to the red wire connecting the CPU fan to motherboard for slower RPM.

For a project that has lasted for so long and been so affordable I’m stoked how cheap and easy the simple solution was. EE FTW.

Stream your iTunes from home

Want to listen to your iTunes music at home from work, a coffee shop, etc?

It takes two steps: setup an SSH tunnel and forward zeroconf (‘Bonjour‘) traffic.

If you do it my way everything is already installed on your Mac and, especially nice for you corporate folks, doesn’t require admin privileges.
Windows users, you’re not necessarily SOL but Windows doesn’t ship with what you’ll need.

I use this technique on Snow Leopard, but I think it will work on Tiger and higher.

  • Enable SSH on your home computer.
    System Preferences->Sharing->Remote Logon
  • Enable iTunes Sharing.
    Preferences->Sharing->Share my library on my local network
  • Still from your home computer, browse to 192.168.1.1 (or whatever your router runs on) and enable SSH port forwarding if you haven’t already. This technique definitely won’t work without this step.
  • Protip: Optionally, register your public IP with a free Dynamic DNS service so you only have to remember a single domain name.
  • At your work machine, go to a terminal and use the following two commands:
    dns-sd -P "myTunes" _daap._tcp. local 3689 localhost 127.0.0.1 &
    ssh -N -f homeComputer -L 3689:localhost:3689

    The -N means non-interactive, the -f means go to the background.
    The -L xxx:hostname:xxx enables a tunnel on the iTunes sharing port (3689).
    homeComputer is your router’s public IP address, or the domain name you hopefully setup earlier.

  • To clean up when you’re done, you can run a
    killall ssh dns-sd

Finally, if you’re cool enough to keep your music on a Linux machine, you can also use this technique with Firefly formerly (mt-daapd).