planet, packages: small bugfixes

I took a few minutes today and cleaned up a few small bugs on Planet Larry and friends.

One thing I get asked for every now and then is if I have archives of past posts. Well, I do now. I just copy the HTML file of the last post to $date one each run. A simple and unelegant solution. I’ll be doing the same thing for Planet Gentoo soon.

Also, fixed the FeedBurner link on the main page — I didn’t even realize it was broken. While I was at it, I created one for Universe as well.

On the packages website, I finally fixed it so you can search against just packages again. That’s been annoying me for a while. By default the search is way too wide, I think. It will search the full atom, the package description and the package name. I have to do the package name twice because of regular expressions (starting with, ending with, exact matches, etc.). And there’s still no simple way to search for packages containing multiple words, which is also an annoying little bug. Advanced searches for GPNL and Packages has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but have been putting off since I started the projects. Sheesh. Every time I sit down and start to poke at it, though, I realize just how big a beast it is, based on what I’d like to accomplish. I really need something for the interim, though.

Anyway, I better quit before this post gets any more boring. One last thing — we can use more users who are Gentoo users and have a blog on Planet Larry. Just drop me an e-mail and I’ll get you setup.

cartoon covers: batman, the animated series, season two

I’ve been watching some Batman recently, and just barely ripped season two on my myth box. I made snapshots of the title screens of every one, and put them in the cartoon gallery.

I absolutely love all the artwork on all the original Batman cartoons. There’s actually a book dedicated to the artwork of the series, called Batman Animated. I’d love to get a copy someday.

I keep resizing these images to 360×270, which is 50% the original size, and of course is more than large enough for my TV, but on the website, it sure seems a bit lacking sometimes. Next time I think I’ll leave them at the original dimensions. I also think I should probably get a flickr account and put them up there, so that they just don’t sit on my obscure little website for people to randomly find.

Great stuff.

more stomach problems

I went to the doctor again a few days ago, this time just to a clinic, because I’d been having problems with my stomach since the past week. The whole scenario strikes me as really odd, since none of the symptoms that would cause problems have been present, which are usually stress and me eating crappy food. Ever since I was in the hospital three weeks ago for throwing up for four hours straight, I’ve been keeping a closer eye than ever on my intake. This just kind of came out of the blue, though, with some acid reflux showing up all of a sudden for a few days.

The only thing that I have any idea that might be causing it is that since it’s finally started to get warm over here, I’ve started up my nightly regimen of going skating every night that I can, usually for somewhere between 30 minutes to 3 hours. I imagine that the stress on my stomach muscles was probably unexpected and just kind of threw it for a loop.

It didn’t help much that the doctor at the clinic was pretty impatient, and I didn’t feel like he was really giving me proper attention. He gave me a prescription for Prilosec, which also kind of annoyed me since I could have gotten that myself. I tried it out and it made me really dizzy, so I’m not going with that one again.

I’m trying to setup an appointment with a specialist to figure out what the story is once and for all. I know that a few years ago I was diagnosed with *starting* to get a peptic ulcer, and in times of extreme stress and anxiety the same area in my stomach will start to flare up again and cause some general discomfort … or I’ll start throwing up. I haven’t had any major stress though, not since the hospital incident, but there is just some minor nagging down there. For now, I’ve just come to the conclusion that I have a sensitive stomach.

I’ve started looking at diets for people with acid reflux, and so far the lists seem kind of arbitrary of what you can and can’t eat, in the sense that none of them seem related. The idea of a restrictive diet always seemed normal to me, but I always assumed it would just be to stay away from anything strong or spicy. Not something random like mashed potatoes, butter cookies and ice cream. But, whatever. Hopefully I’ll get this thing figured out soon.

planet larry policy update

I’ve made an awkward and difficult decision that I hope doesn’t make anyone feel bad: effective immediately I’ve removed any feeds from Planet Larry / Larry the Universe that were from developers who have retired from the Gentoo project.

I setup the planet feeds mainly so that regular users of Gentoo Linux could talk about and share their experiences, and I want to get back to keeping it with them primarily in mind. I tend to think that ex-developers have more weight with their posts, which tends to cause some unbalance that I was never comfortable with.

Speaking of users, I am always looking for new bloggers to get added, so if you are a Gentoo user who blogs about computer experiences, be sure to sign up.

That’s all for now.

Edit: I originally took this post down, and am now restoring it. I still haven’t decided if this is a permanent change or not. I might create a planet just for ex-developers, or reintegrate them somehow. I dunno. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

video stores are deprecated

I really hate going to the video stores these days.  There’s a Hollywood Video a few blocks from my house that I go to anytime I get the urge to watch a movie *right now* that I don’t have at home.  There’s actually a long list of movies I like, but won’t buy for various reasons, which I won’t really get into.  Anyway, I always have these coupons so I go to Hollywood.  That, and I’m not a big fan of Blockbuster.  The problem is, every stinking time I go to the video store to rent something, I have about a 10% success rate.

My first problem is that I can never find what I want.  The organization there is completely outmoded.  In an online social world, thankfully things are easily tagged with multiple categories.  In the video store, there’s a few select genres you have to browse through, so you have to decide which genre most describes the movie you’re looking for.  It’s always rough when it’s a sci-fi / adventure / drama flick because it could be anywhere.

Not only that, but of course there’s only one copy of the movie.  And if you can’t find it on the shelf, you’re out of luck.  Why do they even store them on the shelves anymore?  If you go to a used CD store, what they will usually do is have a huge wall of all the discs behind the counter.  You can browse through the jewel cases and read the inline notes and stuff and when you’re ready to check out, you just take the empty case to the front and they find the disc for you.   That’s what we need at the video store.   Most of the time I know what I’m looking for, so I should just be able to ask them for it at the counter instead of digging through the miscategorized and unordered shelves of hundreds of cases crammed together.

Then of course it gets even worse, since they are sorted alphabetically somewhat, so you pretty much have to scan the entire section of the letter you’re looking for because it could literally be anywhere.

Another big beef I have is that these guys have obviously never heard of the concept of the Long Tail, because they never stack the sleepers anywhere.  I have really odd tastes, so I’m generally way off my rocker going to the video store anyway, because it’s an adventure in hopelessness finding something to watch if I don’t already have something in mind.  And since I usually can’t find the movie I was looking for in the first place, I’m stuck just aimlessly browsing.  Which brings me to the next point.

For those people looking for something to watch, you have only one option of browsing the possible titles, and that’s by visually examining the cover of every box.  Once you find one that looks like it might be interesting, then you can read the back cover and see if the movie sounds interesting.  This approach is completely missing out, because there are a lot of ways to browse movies.  You’re basically ignoring the two other ways that people can quickly perceive and gather information: audibly and literally.

One great thing I totally love about Netflix is that it’s simple to quickly browse a lot of movies by popping up a short description about what the movie is like.  I can just hover my mouse over the cover and it will display a little window with a summary in a few short paragraphs.  If it looks interesting, I’ll just add it to my queue.  And there’s another thing the stores are missing out on — let users have a freaking queue!  Or a list of movies they’d find interesting.  Setup little kiosks and let them create accounts (which they should already have if they are renting anyway) and they can add what they want.  It’d be just like the library (blimey!) you can put a movie on reserve and when they get it in, you can come pick it up.

As far as the other ways to browse movies, I have great ideas.  I love watching trailers because they give you a quick, entertaining three-minute glimpse at the synopsis of the movie.  You can quickly determine from watching a trailer if it’s something that would suit you or not.  Setup some computers in the store and have trailers from every freaking movie you can find, so that the people can find some suggestions.

As far as literally, I meant in the terms of reading what a movie is about.  Sure the store has these little booklets that they hand out for free, but they are always about the latest movie that came out.  It’s generally a step in the right direction, except for the fact that probably nobody cares about them.  Who wants to read about how some critic thought that “Snow Dogs 3” was greater than air freshener.

When I worked box office at the movie theater, one of my co-workers would print out weekly the summaries of each movie that was playing.  When we had someone come up that wasn’t sure what to watch, we would hand them that sheet so they could quickly look over what the movies were about.  Sometimes a short title just isn’t gonna give you enough insight into what the movie is about.

Anyway, I would rawk at running my own video store, I’d revolutionize the whole process.  Maybe I should.

mplayer + dvdnav svn ebuilds

There has been some recent activity again on the libdvdnav front, and so I’ve been playing around with it again.  I finally created an SVN ebuild for MPlayer which I can use myself instead of just manually updating and reconfiguring the repo myself.

Generally speaking, I don’t like the idea of ebuilds that hit upstream’s SVN servers directly, so please be kind and don’t do anything asinine like upgrade every single day or something.

So now I have live subversion ebuilds for both libdvdnav and mplayer.  This is the important thing to know about the libdvdnav ebuild: it has some changes to libdvdread so you will have to unmerge the one that is already uninstalled.  On top of that, since it is a new API version, everything you previously compiled against libdvdread (k3b, etc.) will have to be re-emerged … and even then, there are zero guarantees that it will work at all.

In short, these ebuilds are only designed for a select few: those people who are using mplayer exclusively and want to have dvdnav support at the risk of breaking anything else that needs DVD access.  Obviously, that scenario fits for someone with a media frontend, but doesn’t make sense for general desktop usage.

Also worth noting is that these are the only two ebuilds that will work together.  Previously, the mplayer in the tree would have detected and worked with the libdvdnav ebuild, but that’s not the case anymore.  It’s these two in the overlay, or the mplayer in the tree.  Pick one set and choose.

If you have problems with the ebuilds, let me know.  I’m still not an expert at layman so I can’t go about giving you instructions on how to install this stuff directly.  Have fun, though.

Oh, and last but not least — I tested them, and it works for me. :)  Just emerge libdvdread first, then mplayer.