Anti-SPAM! or How I secured NousEssence

SPAM! Why should I have to worry about spam, right? This is a pretty low traffic site (sigh) and who's going to spam on me? I had a post a bit ago about passing a spam right of passage and enabling a bit of security to get around it. Well, the spam dude was not done with me yet! No sir, I kept getting hit, kept having traffic eaten by spam-spewing robo-jerks, and it was getting pretty tiring having to isolate every ip, and then ban them one...at...a...time. So, I overhauled my security and thought I would actually spell out here exactly how I set it up...

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The Most Important Factor...(Free Culture and the Body of Politics Pt.2)

So, remembering my previous post about the need to inform a democratic people before they vote I went to YouTube to resurrect a piece I found about why we need to teach civics to the masses. This falls in line with the notion that if you want your Democracy to exist AT ALL, there is an absolute necessity to make certain that the people are well educated, well informed, and an active part of the system.

The thing about this clip I appreciate the most is how it points out at the very beginning that dissent is required in any Democracy. That dissent can be nurtured and actually taught to people. Proper dissent that provokes new ideas and fresh perspectives within a properly functioning democracy. In light of this concept, one can reach the conclusion that those who would silence dissent within a democracy, are actually not in favor of that democracy. Now, ask yourself, who, in American politics has shown intolerance against dissent of any sort at any time in the past? Please keep that in mind at all times.

Anyway, the video...

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p90x Round two....NAILED IT! What about you?

Well, three months later and I can say...round two...I nailed it! That's right, I finished another round of p90x! HA! The measurements and statistics are not in yet (haven't taken them yet) but I can say that I am comfortably wearing jeans that are 8 inches less round than when I started! HA! Take that, fat! So what does this mean? It means...on to round three. Already started it, considering doing the "doubles routine" (adding a whole world of cardio to month's two and three ON TOP OF the regular work-outs).This was a rough round, though. I injured my right shoulder pretty badly the very first day of this round...but I DID NOT STOP! You don't stop, you modify (Than You Tony Horton). I persevered, and it payed off.

So, I have been actually thinking about becoming an official P90X coach, I have been getting people into this thing (this weird...fitness thing) and that might even be more satisfying that the workouts themselves. Accomplishing something great for yourself is one thing, but being able to share that with someone else, enabling someone else to partake in something that has added to your immediate quality of life SO MUCH, well..that is another thing all together.

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Free Culture and The Body of Politics - Micheal Moore's "Slacker Uprising"

26 Days to go until election day here in the US, and I thought I should admit a cynical fear. To express this fear, it is necessary to remember that in the year 2000, Al Gore was told that, even though he had more votes than the other guy, that he still lost the election. ??? When this happened I really began to wonder just what was going on in America. At the time nobody really saw any difference between the candidates, and not too much was done to correct the voter fraud and questions surrounding the election. 8 years later and there is no doubt that the entire world would be a different place if (Nobel Prize winner) Al Gore would have been in the Oval Office instead of (can barely speak a sentence-stomp out the evil-doers) George "Dubbya" Bush.

The fear is that we may see a smiler event take place in less than a month. I believe that America wants a real change from the last 8 years of insanity and failure, I believe that only one of the two candidates is capable of making that change and that the other is just a cronie of the current administration. No one in this election year can say that there is little difference between the two candidates, and no one in America can ever again say that an election doesn't really matter. I am not trying to sway opinions here on which candidate is better, but I am saying that, never again, should we be lulled into inaction and complacency. Never again should we, as a nation, allow ourselves to be swayed by misinformation, patronizing politicians, or dirty politics. We cannot afford to be fooled by dirty tricks, slander or lies. Now, I am not trying to say that any one of the current candidates is engaged in this stuff, but I am saying that we need to make sure our votes get counted. That is what this process is all about.

Thomas Jefferson said that he had great faith in the people to lead and govern themselves. To vote for their future. AS LONG AS they were INFORMED CITIZENS. We cannot direct ourselves, cannot govern ourselves, cannot make a wise decision if we are not well informed, if we are mislead by mischaracterizations, lies, slander, spin media, or any of the like. Biased media is fine, as long as it admits it is biased, but this is another issue entirely. The point here is that we need to be well informed to make intelligent choices. Another way to say this is that stupid people should not be allowed to vote. Now the problem is that we cannot take away anyone's right to vote, so the only thing left to do to make sure that no stupid people are voting is to EDUCATE AND INFORM THEM. Lead a horse to water...hope it drinks.
The question here is, how do we inform everyone, if the media required to facilitate that education is not FREE?

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PSPP - Open Source Statistics (Moving Towards an Open Educational Experience)

Anybody out there who has ever had to analyze any statistical data in any serious way or take a class on stats has been introduced to the mighty SPSS , or Statistical Package for the Social Sciences in long form. This is software which was designed for, is standardized by, and expected for your use by the scientific community at large for statistical data analysis. It is required for use at many universities at both the undergraduate (poor college kid) level and the graduate (even poorer college young adult) level, and is not cheap in any way. There is, however, a slightly crippled down version of the software offered to students, which is quite a bit cheaper than it's "full" version counterpart, and can typically be found for about $80 or $90. This can be a serious crunch to the hungry students budget, at least it is for mine. So I looked, and I found the wonderful PSPP, a very functional free and open source alternative for SPSS. It is good to see that the good people over at the Free Software Foundation understand that scientific knowledge should be free and open, and that educational tools should be as well. (Knowledge cannot be licensed out, nor can it be owned...ever.)

I have to pay for school, and then the wildly overpriced books (that the authors make very little on, despite the high price), and then again a piece of closed source software (the actual opposite to the ideal of the sharing of knowledge) as well. The educational experience needs to be based on the basic principal that knowledge is beyond ownership, that it is the right and requirement of every individual in a functioning society to have free and open access to the accumulated wisdom of the human race, and that any restriction in that based off of economic standing is simply saying that the poor of wallet are not worthy of this knowledge, that only the opulent or affluent are worthy or capable of doing anything worthwhile with this knowledge (to humanities benefit) in any way. This is not the case, we know this on an intuitive level, yet we cling to forced payment for knowledge, culture, paying for and restricting the use of basic scientific tools, and the tools used to manage knowledge and information. This seems backwards to me in the most fundamental way.

So, we have the organizations like the Free Software Foundation promoting and creating free and open software, like PSPP, and the good folks over at Creative Commons (hi Greg) fighting for, developing and promoting the use of a sane copyright culture, and the good people at FreeCulture.org - Students For For Free Culture and on and on. Please pay attention to, and support these movement, they are the flagships of sanity in an insane copyright and restriction based culture.

Now...back to PSPP...Briefly, it works very well, handling SPSS's native .sav files, and it does all you need to do for your familiar SPSS data analysis. It can be installed in Linux (I am currently running it on my Ubuntu machines, even on the tiny EeePc), on MacOS, and on Windows (from what I gather, anyway). One limitation I have found, it doesn't seem to put out the nice graphs that the latest SPSS version does, but it spits out all of the information you need quite nicely none the less. It also requires a little bit more to get installed, so...if you are running Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron, and would like a nice SPSS replacement WITH A GRAPHICAL INTERFACE, then read on. If you want command line only, just install through apt or synaptic.

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I DID IT!!! what? p90x BABY!!!

Two days ago I spent an hour doing a series of relaxing, rejuvenating stretches. Over the course of the last three months I have gotten to set aside on hour per week to doing that, one of the things that keep me looking forward each week. After spending an hour to an hour and a half each of the other six days of the week grinding my way through grueling and vigorous work out programs, that stretch comes with a real sigh of relief. Not only is it a great relaxation, but it is a great moment of pride and accomplishments, since it means I have put one of the 13 weeks of the work-out cycle behind me. But the stretch I did two days ago came with even a greater sense of relief and pride, since it marked the FINAL DAY, and hence completion of a full round of the P90X workout program!!!

I DID IT!!!

Yes, I know what you're thinking..."Is he, then, now ripped?" Well...I can say I lost (at last count over a week ago) 3 inches, and about 20 pounds, have gained A LOT of muscle mass, am stronger and more flexible now than I ever have been...and it feels GREAT! I am going to do another round...another 90 days, and this time I am going to post before and after pics at the end, along with detailed measurements. To be honest, I was too ashamed of myself to take the obligatory "before" pics 3 months ago, but now I really wish I had, because I know that the change is phenomenal just from the way that I feel when I wake up every day! THANK YOU Tony Horton!

One last thing that I want to say about this. I have struggled with weight since I was in the 4th grade. Going through periods of excessive gain, to periods of profound skinniness...the unhealthy toothpick variety, and back again. Like a pendulum. But I have never been strong like this. I have never before 1) been more confident in my ability to keep the inches off 2) been more confident in my ability to become stronger, leaner, and healthier, and 3) been more confident of the fact that, while I am not in absolute, optimal fitness and shape, I am EXACTLY where I aught to be, and I am pretty damn proud of myself.

See you in 90 days.

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Ubuntu 8.04 - Hardy Heron (with Netbook remix) on the EeePC 701 4G Surf (with touch screen)

So, as promised, here are the steps I took to get Ubuntu 8.04 - hardy Heron installed on my Asus EeePc 701 4G Surf. I will include BOTH the steps I took and, when applicable, popular alternate steps available. Also, I will include the steps required to get the "Kiddshop touchscreen (from Kiddshopp on ebay) working.

This is not a definitive How-To, it is just what I did, what I found to work. I encourage anyone who finds better ways, or finds a glaring mistake in to PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!!
The contents of this post are pretty long, so use the "read more" link to go to the instructions.
That said...Here we go!

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Touchscreen, Ubuntu, The EeePC, and me...

Tonight I write from a stance of (near) total victory. This post is to mark the fact that I have accomplished installing and 'properly' configuring Ubuntu 8.04, code named Hardy Heron, on my EeePC with a fully functional, self installed touchscreen. I am using the Ubuntu "Netbook Remix", and it ROCKS the Touchscreen!!

Next, to install internal bluetooth and GPS (and hopefully a nice 16G usbflash!). These potenitial future mods are the reason for the "near" in "near victory".

I plan on writing up the steps I took, and comparing them against some of the (terrible) info out there after the 4th, which is today. Please check back for more!

Yay me.

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The return and conclusion of Avatar: The Last Airbender

I just read that Nick's great cartoon 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' is coming back on Monday, July 14th for the season and series conclusion! See this awesome trailer, and be amazed...



Yes...I hope that the good folks at AvatarSpirit.net got their news right!

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My Entire Body Is Sore

Well, here I am, on the 16th day of training on the p90x fitness program (which I mentioned here a few weeks ago), and I still have not 1) died from exhaustion or 2) simply given up! That's right kiddies, I am working on my 3rd week of this pretty INTENSE fitness program, and even though my body is stiff and pained EVERY DAY, I am plodding along (even dieting to go with it). I am proud of my once chronically unfit self.

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