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Letter to the Editor

In response to the Seattle Times article Who’ll be to blame if viaduct, 520 bridge collapse?.

I agree that 520 and the viaduct need to be rebuilt. However, there is an straightforward and fair solution to the problem of crumbling infrastructure that doesn’t require an unpopular statewide gas tax.

The solution is tolls. Tolls are fair because they place the costs of building infrastructure directly on those that use the infrastructure, instead of forcing residents of Spokane and Walla-Walla to pay for improvements in Seattle that they will likely never see or benefit from. Setting up tolling systems is also straightforward – it has been done many times before and the process is well understood.

Furthermore, tolls can help solve traffic problems as well. By changing the amount of the toll by the time of day, free-flowing traffic can always be ensured. While I do not often use the viaduct myself, I would gladly pay a toll to cross the 520 bridge, if it meant I didn’t have to wait in traffic for hours.

Finally, if government balks at the price of rebuilding these important roadways, then we can always follow the example of the French when the private construction group Eiffage financed the building of the world’s tallest bridge in exchange for the right to collect the toll for 75 years.

The Big Move

I have been on a upgrading streak as of late, and my Blog was the most recent target. I have now officially – and finally – upgraded to WordPress 1.5.

Upgrading while maintaining the same look took a little bit of work, but it was not over the top. My favorite new feature is the paging system, which replaces my partial post hack.

Of course, this means that my other main WordPress hack – the “I am Human” comment checkbox – is also gone. We shall see if the auto-whitelisting system works out. If not, you may see me hacking away once again. In fact, I already hacked WP 1.5 once already – to remove the annoying <h2>’s surrounding the link categories.

If anyone discovers any strangeness after this move, please let me know and I’ll see what I can do to fix it.

Future plans include an upgrade to Gallery2 along with the WPG2 plugin which combines WordPress and Gallery 2. However, so far, my experiences with Gallery 2 have been less than stellar. For example, I hate the sidebar and want it to die, but haven’t found that option yet, if it exists. Also, I have been unable to find where to change the name of the main Gallery. Stupid, but vastly annoying. If anyone can point me in the right direction, that would be great.

Mailman Templates

Today, I worked on a very long overdue exploration of the Mailman Templating system. I had poked around before, but this time I actually got around to changing and testing some things. My initial conclusion is that while there are some faults, overall the system makes it well within the realm of possiiblity to integrate Mailman into a website quite well.

You can take a look at my progress so far by heading over the the TRC Mailing Lists server. Particuarly, check out the “list info” pages of a specific list. Whereas earlier today, those pages looked like the ugly default mailman pages, now they fit in perfectly with the rest of the site, while maintaining all functionality.

Gigabit

I returned a 19″ LCD screen to Fry’s today and ended up picking up a gigabit Ethernet PCI card and a gigabit Cardbus card. The PCI card is now in oasis, so now I can load silverfir.net really really really fast. Actually, the reason behind the move is primarily that I moved my 100gb hard drive from an external enclosure connected by firewire (which enclosure I believe was beginning to fail) to an internal slot in oasis. So now the data is always available 24/7 and I don’t have any of the annoying startup issues I as seeing where the drive wouldn’t be recognized for several minutes. And its super duper faaaast.

Primary Voting Recommendations

The Primary Election is on the 20th. However, since I vote by absentee ballot (a habit I began while at school out-of-state), I usually do my research and make my decisions a week or so in advance. Today was that day. I will share my decisions and my reasons below.
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Upgrades

SilverFir.net now run on oasis.

This means:

  • Intel Pentium III 500 MHz -> AMD Athlon 600 MHz
  • 128 MB RAM -> 640 MB RAM
  • CD-ROM drive -> DVD-ROM drive
  • 43 GB total storage -> 143 GB total storage

Among other things. Long live the new host of Silverfir.net!

Appropriate pages will eventually be updated. This project took most of my weekend, due to technical difficulties that I might get around to describing some day.

Communications Breakdown in New Orleans

My cousin Kevin, who is in the Navy, wrote this insightful email about the communications breakdown that hampered early rescue efforts in New Orleans:
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