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dan rasmussen

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fun with printer displays Sep. 15th, 2008 @ 02:07 pm
I've been thinking Insert Coin, a script for changing the display on HP printers, since I saw it. The author used it initially for humorous effect, having the display say "Insert Coin" and encouraging others to share their best message. My favorite was "Please Remove Squirrel from Tray."

He then changed it to something "useful": a script that updates the display with the latest weather conditions every ten minutes.

I'm now in possession of a printer capable of this. The author's script was written to work with network printers. You give the script an IP address and a message, and that's it. My printer is connected via USB and managed with CUPS, and I don't know how to change the script to take advantage of that. The PERL script looks simple enough, yet...

I've spent over an hour looking for answers to this, and it's been a really boring hour that's gotten me nothing. I fiddled with CUPS and its command line utilities, looking for an easy command-line way to send HP PJL (Printer Job Language) scripts to the printer.

Here's what I would really like to do:
1) Find out how to update the display on a printer connected with CUPS
2) Write scripts for the music player programs I use, Amarok and MOC, to output the current artist and track for the song currently being played.
3) Turn on the printer.
4) Turn off the monitor.
5) Party!

I'll probably look into this again at a later point, when I feel like throwing a lot of time down the drain. In the meantime, I'd appreciate any tips that lead to this happening faster.

thinking up titles is hard. Feb. 17th, 2007 @ 12:22 am
today i attended the story county democrat's soup supper. went with andy h, and enjoyed soup and a whole bunch of sweets. joe biden, who's running for president, was the guest speaker. i had a chance to shake his hand, and he praised my healthy appetite for dessert. my kind of guy! he was a decent speaker, and spent most of his time talking about iraq and criticizing the president. his answers to everything seemed reasonable. i'm kind of bothered that he failed to remember Kucinich when he claimed to be the first person to be anti-war, but probably every candidate will do that. better get used to it. he wasn't quite as interesting a speaker as barak obama, who i saw last sunday, but he impressed me as a person who's well-intentioned, intelligent, and sane.

a very friendly woman at the supper told me i need to get out of iowa. "go to california or somewhere!" maybe i should think about doing something different. i wish i could pack up a few friends and take them with the rest of my belongings somewhere.

other news: i baked bread from scratch, alone, for the second time in my life today. wheat bread. the result of my efforts was not two bricks, in a pleasant contrast to the first time. it was still a bit harder on the outside than i think it should have been though. maybe need to check the oven temperature. also, become smart enough to not burn myself on the bread pan taking it out of the oven. how to take care of 2nd degree burns: soak burn in cold water for up to five minutes. apply some sort of burn creme, if you have it. cover it, if you can. don't pick at blisters.

there's a mouse somewhere in my apartment. small and cute, but unnerving, because it is inside. i hope it doesn't bother me with unpleasant noises when i try to sleep. need to find a way to get it outside tomorrow. tips and suggestions welcome.

snapshot: what i'm doing now Feb. 12th, 2007 @ 10:45 am
a to-do list of sorts. things i'm thinking of now. apparently these are "cool" to do occasionally.

take inventory of books, cds, movies
spend less time sitting on instant messaging programs
bake lemon-poppyseed muffins / orange-chocolate-chip scones
all-around cleaning
make some effort to be a little more social
free up some disk space somehow, or purchase a new hard drive
next, figure out how to back up video dvds
software: learn how to use blender, the gimp, and figure out some kind of digital photo management system
learn desktop publishing with scribus. make something that halfway doesn't suck
throw up a wiki on the public webspace. find some way of sharing decent websites i'm constantly running into
use php and mysql to do something halfway interesting with my media inventory
find a new job, or two
investigate thermometer/wind guage combinations for hard-core outdoor things
hook up the printer (need to make room for it somewhere first- the hard part)
get new CMOS batteries for two different laptops, and figure out how to install
finish watching commentary to UHF
organize/back up music collection

day off Jan. 25th, 2007 @ 12:43 am
it's been another good day for thinking. i had neither work to do, nor any social engagements.

my neck's still sore from the snowboarding accident sunday, or maybe monday. missed a jump and nailed my head. curious if that's the source of my knee being sore as well. i used to hate pain, but now it's a nice reminder of how good i have it most the time.

it's weird how energy levels ebb and flow throughout the day- i got out of bed around nine. spent the first couple hours of the day feeling terrific, the next several hours feeling nothing, had a couple more "power hours" until sometime around when the sun went down. some time after it got dark i became depressed and there wasn't a thing in the world that appealed to me at the time- besides food, which was in short supply. then around 9pm i went for a walk, just long enough to run into Nick W and freeze again, and came back inside to feel good again. fine since then, but with a feeling of general nervous unease, for some reason.

i wonder how consistent these patterns are through the days, and to what extent other people experience them. afternoons always seem to be a bit of a downer for me- around 2-4pm, to be general, i always get sleepy. lots of times i don't get the same feelings of wakefulness at night, because work and biking everywhere add up to be exhausting. usually the first hour or two after i wake up isn't so hot either.

the day was a cloudy one. the sky was, as far as i could tell without actually looking at it, uniformly gray, and produced some beautiful colors in collaboration with my snowy backyard. i admired these colors all the way to campustown, where the gray mixed with concrete and sand and became unbearably ugly.

everybody says you should back up important computer data. almost nobody does. today i attempted to become an exception to that, and set up some software- sbackup, an open-source program Google had some hand in producing - to back up various folders containing certain files, and nothing over a certain file size, etc. now i just need to get a system going for transferring the data off of the one computer they're on, and backing up all the photographs i've taken.

had a scare along the way, and for about 30 minutes i was pretty sure i'd erased all my application data- the latest address book, the email, chat logs, gnupg keys, careful firefox configuration, and everything. the problem was nautilus not telling me about hidden files i was deleting, and me being stupid about remembering where my home directory was symlinked to.

killradio.org is providing me with brain juice as i write. at the moment it happens to be kraftwerk. what happy, joyous music! i highly recommend checking it out, and giving them large donations.

january busyness Jan. 16th, 2007 @ 01:01 am
i was half an hour into the writing just a while ago and the computer decided to go haywire. here's my attempt to reconstruct my thoughts. but could it possibly be as good as before? ugh.

there's snow in ames again, and it is pretty. last night i walked outside of my apartment with carl and steve and we were treated to a site of a pickup truck pulling a sled. this would have been interesting enough, but the sled was actually a sofa, and three or four people were sitting on it!

been putting in a few more hours at work lately. it's been depressing. waking up and getting out of bed in time to be somewhere by 11 a.m. shouldn't be difficult. this would be excusable if i were staying up late doing anything halfway fun or worthwhile, aber leider ist das nicht der Fall. lying in bed an hour after waking up used to be enjoyable. now it's just a way to not think about the lack of things going on.

i don't even own a car, but i managed to get towed last week. i walked to where i'd last parked a friend's car, and found it gone. eventually (after making three phone calls) i learned where the car had been taken, and that the city requires every vehicle on a city street to be moved every 48 hours. this rule, which i managed to not know about after 4+ years of living in this town, probably wouldn't have gotten me if it hadn't snowed. still biking, running, and bumming the occasional ride.

i'm on another upswing on the cycle of intending to care about finding a different job. i've spent over twelve hours in the last couple days working on a long neglected webpage, and having just a little fun doing it.

another reason for the bad mood is the problem of my lease coming to and end with the month of february, and the increase in rent that would come with renewing it. a crazy idea has been thrust upon me via a family member: that of leaving the state of Iowa and starting over somewhere else. i consider my habits and the familiar places and think of how stale and unexciting they've become. perhaps leaving everything behind is a good solution to this. at the very least it's a good chance to give boredom a slip and have another chance at evading it for a while.

truth be told (in contrast to everywhere else, where i lie), i don't really know what 'starting over' would do for me that i couldn't do right here if i were smart enough.

things that've been different lately:
i've hardly been reading at all, other than the occasional blog post and newspaper.
still averaging a 3+ mile run every day (ok, not so new).
watching more movies: borat (liked), the prestige (liked but confused by).
managed to write a couple nice long letters/emails to various people. i did almost none of that in 2006, and still feel bad about it.
been listening to music much less. silence is the new music. it feels weird not having other people's emotions pumped into me all the time. neat to see it's not necessary.
my relationship with coffee is once again one that i would describe as healthy- i don't absolutely need it in the morning, though i often have some in the afternoon for fun and to lift the spirit a little.

short term goals:
find new sources of income (and a new place to live?)
visit Germany again soon.
find something worth caring about enough to focus on it.
get in touch with a certain 'young lass.'

managed to be a lot more positive in this post than in the doomed one from previously. maybe that's good?
Other entries
» 2007 first post
today i came up with a good way to respond to an oft-asked question - "got a light?" - "no," followed by a look of disgust, "i'm not one of *those* people."

it's been two days since my insane night-time run. thursday morning a little before 2am i hit the streets, thinking to have a pleasant run like the very long run i had last february. that one was motivated out of frustration, this one from disappointment at having spent wednesday doing nothing significant. that, and a little bit of a "why can't i do that" reaction to dean karnazes, the guy who ran 50 marathons in 50 days. there was a gorgeous full moon out, and it was cold but not extremely so - maybe 40 degrees F?

gear: me, nike pegasus shoes, wind pants, t-shirt, vest, track jacket, gloves, warm hat/neck warmer open-face combo. so i had the layer thing going. i'd have been screwed in the event of rain, but fortunately it didn't rain.

i ran from my place to dayton, north to dayton parkway, and then retraced my steps back to the road the quarry is on, and took that to Ada Hayden.

Ada Hayden's about where i crapped out. my legs simply shut down. it wasn't lack of willpower that slowed me, but that i couldn't move quickly without a substantial amount of pain. i'd made it about 11 miles. it felt pretty good up until the last bit, where i made intermittent attempts to start running again, but just couldn't. for a little while i wondered if i was going to even be able to walk the whole way home, it hurt so much at points. so i ended up running for about 2.5 hours (minus little breaks for stretching and other necessities), and limping home for another hour and a half.

i spent thursday limping around everywhere and being in pain. friday was a lot better, still rather stiff and can't sit on my knees without some hurt. had this funky thing happen a few times where my hip popped, or something. it hurt. also my lower back still feels tight.

need to figure out how people who know what they're doing do for long training runs. it felt good to run until i knew i was fully spent, but i wonder what i could have done to make things better. i drank a bunch of water at a gas station near dayton, but i didn't carry any extra on me and i didn't eat anything that whole time. about seven or eight miles out (i'm guessing here) i started getting extremely hungry. i'd had some sandwiches and black bean burgers and various bits of junk food shortly before i left, as well as plenty of water. i was reminded of my meal for the first six miles, when the food gave me the feeling that burping would be a total relief, except i couldn't manage to, because there was nothing to burp up except food.

so maybe i got dehydrated, or should have been smart enough to remember to take one or two of the Clif Bars i had sitting in the kitchen. or maybe i was just making unreasonable demands on my body, and should have known my legs can only take so much.

watched some more movies recently:
* About a Boy - one of my favorite movies ever. comedy. about the best soundtrack one could possibly wish for.
* Good Bye Lenin! - been meaning to watch this forever. no subtitles. understood everything except a tiny bit of the narration, and the doctor office scene. need to do some work here.

Andrew at work recommended A Scanner Darkly -- after approaching me and asking if i was "into weird movies." if the movie could be half as good as the book, it's definately worth it. borat (i can't even remember the full title without bumbling it) is now at the dollar theatre, which means i should be seeing that any day now...

the end. for now.
» another wednesday, off.
not working today, hoo-rah.

last friday i went to the des moines art center and checked out the Aisle 5 exhibit. specifically, the robot room Shih-Chieh Huang did. one walks into a room that feels like it's alive, like the room in Blade Runner full of the nerdy guy's creations, except in this museum, nothing had an organic feel to it at all. the exhibit will be up until january 14th, and i'm hoping to make it back for another visit before then.

there's a neat page (his homepage, i think) with photos and videos of his work at http://www.messymix.com .

i enjoyed taking a closer look at what everything was made of: computer fans, leds, plastic bags, plastic bottles full of glowy liquids, and power cables. the "brains" were some sort of weird rigging, about which i recognized/remember nothing except basic ii stamps. it reminded me of the capsula sets i had so much fun with in elementary school, or maybe early middle school. at the university of dortmund i did some lego mindstorm programming, also a lot of fun.

so the other day i started browsing around the internet, wondering how a person makes fancy, fun things. i came across this Arduino , "an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple i/o board, and a development environment for writing Arduino software." This site brought the Arduino to my attention, and showed a code snippet, and i thought, "i can do that!" if i can find some way to work it into the budget, and learn a bit about electronics (free online ebook about it) and probably some soldering knowledge/equipment is necessary, too. what would be a good initial project, after learning how to make lights flash? using flashing lights and randomly generated screeches as an alarm clock, i suppose.

that's it for now. for the rest of the day:
finish watching Citizen Kane?
do some cooking?
go for a nice, long run (if it doesn't rain)?
pay my web hosting bill, and do some internet work?
work on my php e-book reading/manipulation interface?
job-hunt/research?
go to the design college reading room and spend two hours reading about architect Paolo Soleri and his work, like i did yesterday?

endless possibilities, limited time.
» Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they've stol
i had today off from work, and managed to squander it engaging in the following activities: making hummus from scratch, baking buttermilk scones with currant raisins, avacado shakes and coffee with mark, dishwashing, FlyOverLand, and Flying Burritos.

hummus appears to be a good fix to yesterday's problem. it took some time to make, just because i'm slow, but it's a terribly convenient snack food on bread. it's like a peanut butter sandwich, but without the problem of association with high school.

the one thing i meant to do today, putting together a web portfolio, didn't happen. ugh.

i've managed to spend time sketching both of the last two days. progress.

became interested in Timothy Leary again after a conversation at the Boheme. to do: find a copy of his test people were given in prison.

movie to watch: "Aria", some art film recommended by Kevin. haven't seen it yet, and want to.
» (No Subject)
still around and kicking. turned 24 one week ago today. nice breakfast, nice day, and an evening full of pizza and beer with friends.

since then, not much. trying to figure out a way to live that will seem fulfilling. still at the restaurant, which isn't horrible, but i need some travel money, and, it gets hard being on my feet so much of the day.

web hosting expired the other day, so for the time being anybody wanting to reach me can use my gmail address, dan (dot)rasmussen@gmail(dot)com (good for GoogleTalk as well).

two problems i'm hoping to find the answer to. any help from my highly esteemed readership is much welcome.

#1 (technical): i finally set up IceCast yesterday so every sound from my main desktop system can be broadcast into the other room. so using alsa input, re-encoding it as an ogg stream. fine, fine. it's super quiet on the receiving end. i crank the software volume all the way up, as well as the volume nob on the speakers, and even then it's not at a comfortable loud listening volume. any tricks here?

#2 (culinary): i'm so bored of the diet i've been on. there must be something i can eat that's healthy, not extremely messy to make, and delicious. need a change from the banana/apple/bread/peanut butter/english muffin thing i've been doing. some sort of vegetable would be good. recipes? might swing by the library sometime to pick up some cookbooks, but checking something out and actually having the motivation to walk to the store, buy something new, and find enough time to make it in can be killer.
» abusing the postings
i've waited so long to write this that i might as well do two in a row.

i feel bad for not writing more often. i have the worst memory ever, and someday i'll look back- if i haven't found something better to do by that time- and wonder what i was up to when i was 23.

once again, ragbrai came and went, and i had nothing to do with it. i've always thought it'd be fun, but the silly ride always clashes with my inability to plan more than a short time into the future. probably very few people ever plan to do it alone, and i never seem to bump into anybody who's going to get me excited about it.

from the looks of it, though, i have a pretty neat pattern of doing something physically crazy once about every two months. several months ago i went for the very late night run in which i ran continuously for a good pace for over two hours. i've ran about three miles since then. a couple months after that (in late may), i rode to Cambridge, Iowa, a town google maps tells me is 17 miles away. because i was a blockhead, i spent about ten of those miles on a gravel road instead of a paved one, which is pretty much the most unenjoyable thing ever, coming in behind only removing burs from one's socks, and extricating bits of corn from one's teeth.

the newest feat was pretty good, too: on saturday, i got up and took off east on the lincoln highway for what was to be about 80 miles of biking on the hottest day ever. naturally, i didn't know it'd be the hottest day ever, because i still never check the forecasts. "it didn't feel too bad at 10 a.m," i thought as i left. i had no idea that around 6:30p.m. i'd be heading east up a gravel road looking into the sun, face and arms burning, trying to keep sweat out of my eyes with a bandana that was soaked with the stuff, resolving to make it up the hill if it was the last thing i did. ten seconds later i was walking, telling myself it didn't matter much. so much for that.

i had a very nice stop in State Center, a town about 30 miles from where i live. there was a nice park right inside of town. then i rode around for a while and hung out in a cemetary for an hour or so. cemetaries and coffee shops are the two places i feel most at home in, which is kind of weird because they're such different environments. one is loud, indoors (if it's in the u.s. of a, at least), full of lively sounds and lively people. the other is- see if you can beat me to it- quiet, outdoors, and full of the dead. cemetaries are one of the few remaining places that haven't been disgustingly marred by commercialism and marketing. sure, lots of times newer graves all have the same shape and cut of stone, but a grave is a grave. people haven't moved from stone to plastic or metal or origami headstones, trying to secure themselves a bit higher on the totem pole. pile a bunch of graves up in the same place with a few trees and a bench and maybe a flag or two flapping around, and you've got a nice place to hang out and escape the craziness of life and fantasize about where your enemies are going to end up. hooray!

next i backtracked to check out an old Victorian-style ("Queen Anne," you can also call it) home to take a picture. if you're a person standing in front of a house wearing a face mask and somebody takes a picture of you fixing up your newly-acquired broken-down beautiful old house, you're not going to let them get away with just that picture. you're going to spend an hour talking with that genious photographer, just like Richard did. he explained how he was fixing it up, and then got to talking about how we was in the military for years, and how the world is maintained by force, and why does he have to subsidize everybody's college education to turn them into some wacko liberal idealist atheist nutcases, anyways? i wasn't able to give him a good explanation of what a college education does for a person and why they should spend such a huge sum of money getting one. Richard noted it's weird that colleges turn out so many idealist "let's just make the world live in peace" types when the reason everybody goes to college is so they can make more money. he took a few college classes but now does heating and air conditioning work, makes his own schedule, and makes enough money to get by. i couldn't argue with the sense of that. so many classes i took in college (well, babysitting, er, um, high school) just left me bored and feeling i was wasting my time. then i graduate, and don't even care about money enough to get a real job.

if i made Richard sound like a nut, he wasn't really, not any more than you or i. just a guy who'd chosen to live a certain way and gotten his convictions to swing in line with the way he picked, just like psychology says we all do. he was a total blast and i could have spent the whole day conversing with him. as it was, i got a tour of his house, during which he pointed out all the tiniest details and let me take pictures. i left with an invitation to come back and visit once he gets it more fixed up, or help him with it in the meantime.

after leaving Richard i went to the grocery museum he recommended. it's a grocery from the early half of the 20th century. looking at old cans and barely recognizable kitchen objects was fine, but i've come to think that most of the fun in museums lies in talking with the people who staff them, not in spending five hours reading all the little placques and looking at diagrams and pressing buttons- not that this grocery museum was *that* type of museum. i had fun, and the woman told me about a "fireman's convention" that i now plan on checking out, where firemen from all over the state go to a different city every year and do a big parade. it's full of fire engines, and State Center has an old engine the firefighters load up with kegs to enjoy after the parade is over. if only they were daft enough to buy an, "i'm a firefighter at heart..."

the rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. it was mainly biking from there on out, with frequent brakes for water and to snack on things. the Lemon Poppyseed Clif Bar is my new favorite energy food to eat in the whole world, but fortunately it's a good sport and always up for challenges against old rivals such as peanut butter cookies, bananas, and ice cream cones. i took a number of pictures, one or two of which is bound to be good, and got back into Ames shortly after 11, thirteen hours after i left. drinking tons of water is actually much more tiring than biking is. my legs could probably pump all day long, no problem, but my mouth longs for some more substantial beverage, which i may have to go on the lookout for on the next ride. the goal would be something like a neverending flow of milkshake that somehow stays cold, and doesn't clog up all the arteries. how about it, science?

time for this tough guy to get to bed. god, writing this felt good. how come i haven't done it for months now? oh yes, of course, same reason i haven't done anything else.
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