Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   supplemental broadband
Saturday, December 4 2004
You've probably already seen this, but in case you haven't, here's a link to a hilarious heavy metal Flash-video called "America: Fuck Yeah." Look about halfway through for an American cat kicking a terrorist cat's ass. The American cat looks and behaves exactly like Clarence, whereas the terrorist cat looks and behaves exactly like Julius. Actually, though, those two get along rather well, as demonstrated in this photo taken by Gretchen several weeks ago:

Julius (left) and Clarence. In the foreground are Sally's paws.

This evening Gretchen and I drove to Rosendale for a low-key dinner engagement at the house of our friends Brian and Tara, whom we've known only for the past half year or so. We originally met them through our friends at the top of Eagle's Nest; Tara has lived in the area all her life and used to babysit the Eagles Nests' daughter, also named Tara, many years ago. (At this point it's impossible to deny the intense effect of Eagle's Nest Road on our social life.) Anyway, Tara and Brian live up on a hill with a good view of Rondout Creek, Rosendale's signature railroad trestle (now abandoned), and a number of other things not so picturesque. Their house is an older three story building situated on a remarkably small footprint. Having bought it not too long ago for a mere $39,000, they've subsequently done a lot of work restoring and fixing it. In today's market it might be worth upwards of $200,000. Glasses of wine in hand, we got the complete tour. The most interesting stuff was up on the second floor, where the bathroom's shitty drywall had been resurfaced using a mixture of drywall joint compound and straw, giving it the rough look of old plaster. The shower area had been tiled in square-cut slate with numerous tiny river stones glued around the margin, and this kind of resembled Brian's paintings, which ranged from meditative doodles to two-dimensional microbial landscapes.
The meal itself navigated a mindfield of foods to be avoided by the various people present. For temporary health-related reasons, Tara must avoid food containing wheat, sugar, soy, or yeast. And Gretchen is a vegetarian who hates eggplant, cucumbers, and avocados and dislikes squash. So our main course was this savory pie Brian had cooked featuring a crust made of mashed potatoes and a filling consisting of beets and mushrooms. I dislike beets and don't like mashed potatoes much more, but in concert these elements were harmonious enough for me to find a way to enjoy them and even go back for seconds.
We drank a remarkable amount of wine, the three of us (Tara can't drink wine either), as we discussed things such as experiences in high school, religious identity. Brian and Tara are non-theist Buddhists, Gretchen and I are atheists, though Gretchen is, for cultural purposes, a Jew. {I don't identify with the sorts of cultures that are handed down through the generations; my parents saw to that. I identify with interesting people who generally share my outlook on life, and they can be found everywhere, in some places at greater density than others.)
Being a local, Tara has stories about the area dating back to the 1970s. Having only lived in the area for two years, it's strangely difficult to imagine that this place even existed back then, even though there's abundant evidence of white people living here in the 1600s. On the way home I explained my strange cognitive misalignment to Gretchen and she knew exactly what I was talking about.

This evening I was experimenting with a Dlink DWL-800AP+ Wireless Range Extender. These devices can supposedly receive and transmit 802.11b signals entirely wirelessly and act as a disconnected wireless stepping stone to further the reach of an existing wireless network. Think of it behaving essentially as a short-range satellite. I could put one up in a tree and power it with solar energy and it would extend the range of my wireless network, perhaps to another such device in a tree much further away. I've been wanting a device like this ever since I lived in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, though, this particular model of range extender doesn't automatically extend the range of just any wireless network. You have to provide it with the MAC LAN address of the device whose range is to be extended, and even then it only works with a small set of Dlink products, none of which I happen to have. (I have lots of Dlink products, but none of these are the right ones.) So I gave up on using the Range Extender functionality and reflashed its embedded operating system to turn it into a wireless bridge, another sort of functionality I've long sought. A wireless bridge allows a whole network of computers to communicate with some other network over a wireless link. In the past I've been able to make a specific computer communicate with a wireless access point, but this is whole new breed of functionality, as I soon discovered. I was making the bridge perform a site survey for wireless access points to attach to and saw one I didn't recognize called "linksys," the default name for a lot of access points made by the Linksys corporation. Linksys is perhaps the most popular brand in access points, though I don't happen to have any in operation. Besides, mine never have default names and instead bear the names of types of insects. So this Linksys router must have been communicating from some place outside my control. I soon determined that it was coming from the house across the street, the new folks who moved in this summer. I was suprised it was such a strong connection considering the fact that the signal had to pass through at least two exterior walls and across about 200 feet of outdoors. On a whim, I used the bridge to replace the house's DSL internet connection with this new connection I was getting through the air. It was coming through a Westell device, so it was obviously a DSL connection. Some testing proved that its upload speed was the same as ours (160 kbs) and its download speed was less than half ours (700 kbs).
There are several things I could do with this discovery. I could replace our internet connection with this one and save more than $30/month. Or I could use it as an emergency backup (though since it comes up the hill on the same poles as our internet connection, its utility here is dubious). The best use would as a supplemental internet connection, where it could prove especially handy in cases where I need to do massive uploading. Since its upload speed is the same as ours, this would give us twice the upload bandwidth. Then, of course, there's the advantage of having an untraceable internet connection for situations where you need to, you know, cover your tracks.

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