Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Thanks, Mom!

My mother never knows what to get me for Christmas, so she always asks me what I want. This year, as usual, I said "nothing." And as usual, she insisted I give her a list of stuff. So I made a list of things from Amazon that I was probably going to buy at some point and sent it to her.

Just to be a smart-ass, I put a new 20" iMac in the list. Guess what she got me? That's right ... she got me the iMac.

So thanks, Mom. I can't really tell you how surprised and touched I am. It was a huge shock to see under the tree, and was really something else.

So there ... even grinches like me have moms who love them.

Monday, December 17, 2007

How To Unpack Your New Mac

Man, I knew there was something I was doing wrong: I skipped a bunch of intermediate steps.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rejected Christmas Characters

My, you're looking lovely today, Mrs. Claus. Have you lost weight?
-- Randolph the brown-nosed reindeer

Friday, December 14, 2007

I want one!

Flying Humans. Damn, that looks fun/cool/stupid crazy.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Snow Day

So I called my mom on the phone yesterday, because it's the weekend and that's when I telephone my extended family members to check in.
Mom: What are you doing?
Me: Sitting by the fire, watching the girls make snowmen. You?
Mom: Just got back from playing golf (it's 68 and sunny in SC, of course)

I'm still not adjusted to this whole "cold" winter idea. As far as I'm concerned, the proper way to see snow is to travel to the ski resort, where you attach skis or a snowboard to your feet for a day of amusement and exercise. Note that the snow stays on the mountain when you leave; it isn't actually hanging around the house when you get home.

Now with less suck!

Travis Barker makes "Crank That" less sucktastic.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


A fellow Microsoft-y came up with this: PixelWhimsy, a non-directed exploration toy for your PC.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I'm In The Wrong Line Of Work

Instead of writing messaging platform software, I should have stuck with robotics and feedback systems.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Yay! New Spanish Vocabulary!

I'm learning more and more Spanish every day, it seems. Today's phrase: "por que no te callas?"

I Need More Time

I have no idea who he is, but this does whet my appetite to read (yet another) person’s blog. He apparently did “Thing a Week” wherein he wrote and recorded an entirely new song each week for a year. I’m still very curious about the whole songwriting/composing process but I haven’t really pursued it because I’ve been concentrating on photography and the occasional super-short film (or screenplay thereof).

Anyway, Johnathan Coulton answers your questions.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Still Tastes Like Bleah

Coming up on a week in Shangri-La and so far it's working well for me. My biggest problem is trying to recalibrate my eyeballs; eating anywhere near as much food at one sitting as I did a week ago makes me feel bloated and overfull. It's obvious that I'm going to have to rethink my idea of what is a reasonable portion of food.

The amazing thing is how easily I've gotten to the point where I'm voluntarily eating less food, and eating it less often. I'm technically obese (BMI between 31 and 32, depending), but have always been unwilling to be hungry for long. The Zone diet worked well in terms of weight loss without hunger, but dag, there's a lot of measuring and other overhead there. Nowadays I just chug my olive oil and that's it.

So anyway, I'm currently working on taking less food so that I won't be wandering around an hour later holding my belly while saying "damn, I ate too much."

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Power of Miscellaneous

Information R/evolution

Note To Self

I haven't needed these directions for cleaning your camera sensor yet, but I'm sure I'm going to sooner or later, and this way I won't have to try to remember where I saw it. Yay for search engines!

Oh ... this too.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Four tablespoons doesn't sound like much, but it's just weird drinking straight extra-light olive oil. It doesn't taste so much like bleah as like ... nothing.

Anyway, 232 lbs as of 2007-10-18.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Driving Home

I've been trying to be more diligent about taking photographs regularly, and not just pictures of my kids. I walk around campus most days for exercise, and I've been carrying my camera with me in case I see anything interesting. Most days I don't find anything amazing, so I've not been posting them.

Yesterday I was driving home and saw the light on the houses across the lake and was irked that I had forgotten my camera because it was a great shot. I scouted a few places where I thought I could get a good picture and resolved not to forget my camera today.

Most of the places didn't work out too well, but two of them did and I got three shots that were okay enough to share:

Driving home 1.jpg

Driving home 2.jpg

Driving home 3.jpg


IED Near Miss

I'd just like to thank Dave in Texas from AOSHQ for finding this gem.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Short Course In Photography

I haven't had the time to go through all of this short course titled "Using Your Digital Camera: A Guide To Great Photographs" yet, but the parts I have been through look promising enough that I want to finish it out. Plus there are exercises I haven't tried yet.

It also reminds me that I need to get a pocket tripod.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Oooh! Shiny!

This sounds interesting: "Sapiens," a mouse-driven application launcher. Pretty pictures, too.

Cars? Seriously?

I didn't know we even had an actual auto division, but apparently we do. Today I saw a job posting where they're looking for senior developers. The posting included pointers to shipping products, too: Ford's Sync My Ride and Fiat's Blue & Me. So not only are we talking about putting our bits in cars, but we've done so a couple of times and are looking to do more of it.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Ha ha!

When you google for "IRequestChannel", the first two hits are our very own Nicholas Allen's "Dr.Nick" blog. The actual Microsoft MSDN documentation for the IRequestChannel interface is #3. Go Nick! Woo hoo!

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I've been lightly skimming over Photojojo and I have to say I've never seen such a density of excellent photo ideas. I can hardly resist rushing home and trying all of their suggestions. At once.

Yes, It's Old

But it's apropos again, now that CNN is trying to ding President Bush for calling the country "Burma": "The Onomastic Cringe," by John Derbyshire.

I'm Saving This

Yes, I know I'm overbooked in my personal time, but I'm getting the garage cleaned out so hopefully I'll be able to use these soon(ish):

That Is So Much Easier

This tutorial on dodging and burning in Photoshop is so much easier than the way I've been doing it that I must admit my wife is right: I am a maroon.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

In My Copious Spare Time

Hey look! Yet more things I have to find some cycles to keep up with: Photoshop TV.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

So Now I've Got Another Thing To Think About

His hit rate is higher than Bob Cringely's, so he's got that going for him. I wouldn't bet against this, because it sounds to me like an obvious sort of obviousness. Joel Spolsky says Ajax : character-mode :: Gmail : 1-2-3.

Mr. Spolsky is betting on something like gwt, but I'm not sure it isn't Flash.

Teh Fred!


Image Hosted by

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Who Knew?

"The Queen's English" means a particular accent, and not just grammatically correct English? I had no idea, but Wikipedia did.

Mark Your Calendar

Tomorrow is Talk Like A Pirate Day. Don't forget your eyepatch!

Friday, September 14, 2007

It's For My Health, Sweetie!

I'll grit my teeth and somehow force myself to endure this horrible, horrible, horrible daily health regimen.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Whole New Angle

I've read plenty of material about the war, much of which was perfectly predictable. Today, however, I read something along an entirely new angle (well, new to me anyway).
Seth Godin looks at the war as a marketing war, which is, as I said, a completely new tack to me.

Monday, September 10, 2007


I set my TiVo to record the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards show. Kathy and I waited a while after the scheduled start, as is our habit, so we could fast-forward through the commercials. About 10-ish, we started watching.

We gave it up as a lost cause very quickly thereafter. Brittney looked like crap; she's a perfectly lovely girl, but she just looked completely embarassed to be out there on the stage. If she'd had even a smidge of self-confidence she might have pulled it off, but if she didn't think I should be wanting to look at her then she's probably right.

There was no energy in the main room there, even after Chris Brown's performance. He looked good, but if that couldn't wake up those people then there's no hope for them. All in all a complete waste of our time.

MTV => boring.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Upgrade Your Router Part 2

Oh! And how about some antenna lurv, while you're at it? I'll trade a little tinfoil for 10dB worth of antenna gain.

Upgrade Your Router

From the guys at Lifehacker comes this pointer at a process for upgrading your router. I'm looking at boosting the signal and saying "yeah, that's worth a bit of my time." At the moment, I'm looking at trying this over the weekend.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Maybe I've Been Doing This The Hard Way

How to use the Extract filter in Photoshop. I might have been working too hard.

I Nearly Peed Myself

I have rediscovered my love for the Dissident Frogman, solely because of one hilarious instructional video. I smiled from nearly the first frame, and laughed out loud (disturbing others around me, I'm sure) at several points along the way.

Two thumbs waaaay up, Dissident Frogman!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Note To Self

Don't reinstall Windows more than once. Ever again. Ever.

That Went By Quickly

Dr. Hans Rosling gave a presentation at TED 2006 concerning myths around the third world. Here's the link to his presentation. It runs about 20 minutes, and it was a very quick 20 minutes that I thoroughly enjoyed. Have a look.

Well Of Course She Was

Nicole Richie spends a whopping 82 minutes in jail. For her second DUI. Jebus farking crap, it really pays to be rich if you're otherwise worthless and a danger to those around you.

For the record, I've spent more time in jail awaiting bond hearings than did Nicole for DRIVING UNDER THE F@#@&#^ INFLUENCE. There ain't no justice.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ooooh! Shiny!

How about a little eye-candy? Check out the demos for Flipping Book, a page-fliping UI element. Click on either products "Try Demo" link, then click-n-drag the pages to turn them in the book. Neat!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Are You Kidding Me?!?

I think I have bought my last Chinese-made item. According to MSNBC, Chinese officials knew about the dangerous toys months ago. I will now be taking my consumer dollars elsewhere, and the Chinese economy can go right back into the tank, for all I care.

It was one thing when they allowed industrial waste into their pet food products, but to endanger our children? If there's one thing that Americans are incredibly sensitive to, it's child endangerment, and the Chinese have certainly stomped over that line with abandon here. I can only hope that it rebounds to their detriment.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Man, I Need More Hours In The Day

Holy crap! I'm going to be busy, it appears. That's a whole lot of drawing turorials, and I definitely need to upgrade from my current "stick people" level of ability.

More PS Trickery

I don't spend nearly enough time with Photoshop. I looked through this set of movie effect tutorials and only knew about the Cars one. I'll have to put down the Pokemon for a while, I guess.

Sweet Jebus

Is this for real? Jebus fargin christ, I'd like to shoot someone.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Online Backup

Looking for an online backup service? Me too. So far, I've gotten recommendations for I'll give it a shot and post my findings soon(ish).

Learn Something New Every Day

I had never heard of the Orton effect until today, when a post showed up on the MS Photo alias. I recognized the results, but didn't realize it had a name. Luckily for my education, my colleagues included a tutorial. Yay us!

Look for examples soon.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

I Want My Damned Glowball Worming!

So Kathy and I were watching the news last night, and the big story is about the "heat wave" that (apparently) some people are enjoying. It's all part of this "glowball worming" we keep hearing about, I guess.

It was 56 freakin' degrees when I left the house this morning. Kathy and I are seriously discussing if we ought to turn the heater on; we don't really want to because it seems ridiculous to have the heater running in August, but on the other hand it's cold. Al Gore promised me some global warming, and damn it if a little wouldn't be welcome right about now. Seriously ... how are my tomatoes supposed to ripen if it doesn't get above 70?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Ooooh! Shiny!

I have no shame ... I will cheerfully admit to mad lurv for the cheesy text effect. I will be diligently working my way through all of these 80 Photoshop text effects tutorials in my spare time.

Now I Need To Buy A Drive Enclosure

One of the things that I've wanted to accomplish for a while now is to rip all of my childrens' DVDs to disk, and then let the girls watch them over the house network instead of losing (or scratching) the media. Well, I'm going to have to go buy an external drive enclosure now because Flip4Mac has what looks to be exactly what I've been looking for with their Drive-in product. I might even spring for them to have their own Apple TV.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Not The Best Plan

"Apologize" by OneRepublic

This song was featured on "So You Think You Can Dance" earlier this season, and tonight OneRepublic performed it live on the result show. It's a super song, and Kathy and I both liked it the first time we heard it. So after watching the results (why oh why is Sara going home when it should have been Lauren?!?), I ran off to iTunes to buy the song.

Unfortunately, somebody failed to release the single on iTunes, so I couldn't buy it. I bought a remix of it from Timbaland, but I don't know if I'll remember to buy it again later this fall when their album comes out. Oh well. OneRepublic should find their promotions guy or A&R guy or whomever handles those things and punch him in the eyeball for letting this opportunity drop on the floor.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Not For Me, Thank You

Stuart Stevens is an amateur bicyclist. After reading and hearing so much about "performance enhancing drugs," he decided to perform a little experiment on himself and see what's the dilly, yo. I read it and got wigged out a smidge: I can barely stand to let Kathy inject me with the Enbrel I need to keep my back from freezing up. I can't imagine taking injections several times a week just to ride my bike better.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tastes Great! Less Filling!

It isn't the answer to everything, but I have to say that System.Transactions has to be one of Microsoft's best things ever. It continues to surprise me how often making something be a volatile resource manager (or more usually, making a whole bunch of things volatile resource managers) solves a thorny sequencing problem.

Yay for the Tx guys!

Maybe I'll have to scribble something down as far as making VRMs and how they acutally solve some otherwise interesting problems.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Why Isn't This On iTunes?

I love the Umbrella (Jody den Broeder Destructive Mix) that you can listen to on that page. What irks me, though, is that even though it's an official remix version, I can't buy it from iTunes. That sucks.

Come on, Steve ... take my $1.30 and sell me the track.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Internet Caucus on Youth Victimization Online

The Congressional Internet Caucus held a forum to discuss online youth victimization. The presentation included a panel of four social scientists who are studying online youth victimization followed by a Q&A session.

Here’s what danah boyd wrote about it. danah boyd is the panel presenter who gave the qualitative analysis portion of the presentation.

Here’s a YouTube playlist of video of the forum

And finally, here’s a PDF transcript of the forum

I haven’t watched the videos, and I only read the panel part of the transcript, but even in that sample there’s one part I found quite interesting:
Our research, actually looking at what puts kids at risk for receiving the most serious kinds of sexual solicitation online, suggests that it’s not giving out personal information that puts kid at risk. It’s not having a blog or a personal website that does that either. What puts kids in danger is being willing to talk about sex online with strangers or having a pattern of multiple risky activities on the web like going to sex sites and chat rooms, meeting lots of people there, kind of behaving in what we call like an internet daredevil.
Which, of course, I wouldn’t have thought to talk to the girls about (technically that should be "thought to talk to Kathy about HER talking to the girls about it"). So, now I’m marginally less ignorant. Yay me!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Is That Supposed To Be There?

This anti-piracy element is the subject of much emailing today.

As an employee of Microsoft, I'd just like to say "no comment" what with me not being a spokesperson or a lawyer or really anything other than a cog in the machine.

What Slippery Slope?

POUND (a short film by Evan Bernard)

Not that I fell out of my chair or anything, but it was pretty funny.


Oh dear, I'm going to have to buy a larger desk just so that I can display the flatbed scanner I'm going to have to buy/build.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I Cried, A Little

Paul Potts sings Nessun dorma

Now I know jack about opera. My expectations had been raised by reading what Seth Godin wrote about him, but the guy started off by saying he had confidence problems. When I heard that, I lowered my expectations because I figured the dude's got to know his own limitations.

But then he opened his mouth to sing. Once again, I know jack about opera but I got chills and my eyes got a bit moist. I'm a big pansy after all, I guess.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Blasphemously Good Fun

Bible Fight: It's like Mortal Kombat without the fatalities!

File Under Freaky-Slash-Cool

I don't know if it's art, but it's certainly cool.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I Has A Weakness

Apparently I have a weakness for steampunk-y things. The latest gewgaw to catch my attention? The Steampunk LCD monitor. I'm going to have to buy more power tools so that I can craft up things like this.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

We're made of AWSOME!

Why, even our warfare is artistic.

Cluefulness Dead Ahead, Sir

The National Space Society is publishing an open letter response to Gregg Easterbrook. That's easily the open-est open letter I've ever seen, in that not only can everybody read it, but interested parties can easily take part in the drafting of it. Plus I agree with it. Yay!

It's a pity that this is from the NSS and not NASA; it'd be nice if NASA was this on top of events.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nonrepresentational Art Is Lame

500 Years Of Female Portraits In Western Art

The good parts are the four hundred some odd years of representational art, and the bad parts are the non-representational bits at the end. But that's just my opinion.

It's Memetastic!

Everybody's doing it now:

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Amateur, by Lasse Gjertsen

I thought his first video, Hyperactive, was inventive and interesting. His new work is clearly a follow-up, showing a bit more reach to his technique than I initially gave him credit for. Good job, dude.

Ooooh! Shiny!

Weta, a special effects house in New Zealand, has been working on some very impressive movie titles, including "Lord of the Rings". They also sell collectible items, many of which are based on work done for those movies. Today, thanks to John Scalzi, I found out they sell amazing steampunk-y ray guns.

Sigh. I'd buy a whole set, if I could.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Not A Joiner

I've been reading Bill Whittle's essays for a while now. (There's a link to his page over in the sidebar). Like many other people, I would click over to his page every day, see that he hadn't written anything new, and then be on my way.

Then, not that long ago, there was something new on his page! Yay!

A bit of a tease, I'll admit, but I read it all and got ready for whatever his new thing was going to be.

It turned out to be YOU ARE NOT ALONE (Part 1). Yes, he is every bit as talented in the "what do I name this post" department as me. I started reading and felt "yes, an excellent analogy" and "good point" and "I see what you did there."

Then I get to the Remnant part, and wasn't quite so cheery anymore. He even wrote
Now you may be thinking that I am positioning this for you to consider yourself the Remnant and Your Humble Author the latest incarnation of their Prophet. I can assure you I mean no such thing. Because the maddening and magnificent thing about this quality of character is that it cannot be hustled, preached to, manipulated or organized
but I disbelieve ("disbelieved" also) his assurance.

I press on to YOU ARE NOT ALONE (Part 2) and was completely enervated on the spot. "Western Civilization is going to the stars" and so now we can all sign up to make a new Utopia, founded in our own Heinlein-educated images, out there among the stars.

Dang! I was so hoping for something useful. Instead I got a large pile of warm runny mush.

The first part of the first part of the essay (up to the Remnant bits) was super, and I'll be internalizing that for use elsewhere immediately. Thanks for that, Bill. The rest, though, I'll be setting aside. I'll be setting it aside because I don't buy into the notion that founding Ejectia! will actually improve our society here. And "here" is where my wife and children live, and "here" is where I live, and "here" is where we're all going to be for a while until space homesteading is a possibility instead of a dream.

I don't think that people are filled with evil. I think that people are almost always capable of running their own lives to suit their own ends. I think that people are not children. I think that other people, even Democrats, even religious fundamentalists, mean well in spite of the fact that they're often wrong about many things. I think that giving up and running away to found Utopia is wrong (but in a "sadly dismissing with a shake of the head" way more than a "pounding the table in angry denunciation" way).

Second, and I don't know that this isn't a sideline, although the sainted Robert Heinlein said that specialization is for insects, specialization is what has made and is making Western Civilization possible. If you're going to grow your own food and be your own doctor and smelt your own iron and forge your own tools and sew your own clothes, then you and your family are going to be really busy and really dirt poor. Ricardo's Law of Comparative Advantage is not going to be repealed any more than the Laws of Thermodynamics are.

I applaud the idea of self-improvement. I fully applaud and support the idea of making a change in yourself to engender change in the world. What I don't support is the idea that you can globally flip the bit from "betray" to "conspire" by convincing the people who see themselves as part of the "Remnant" to hold a quilting bee while talking about the best way to churn butter.

I'll turn in my membership card now, I think. But I wish you all well in your enclave.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Monday, May 14, 2007

I Don't Know What To Do With This Information

If you don't want to be hit by a car, take off your helmet while riding your bicycle. Seriously ... I don't let my kids ride their bikes without helmets because I don't want them getting concussed (or worse) from taking a fall off the bike. It's not an issue for them, I suppose, since they don't ride where cars are around, but still.

Things That Go "Pop"

How To Make A Tiny Potato Gun. Whee!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Holy crap!

I am completely boggled. Both of those guys (including the pilot) are clearly insane.


I guess if you stand in the right place and squint your eyes just right, it kind of sort of looks like something that could resemble a strategy: some loser company making crappy copy-protection software is sending cease-and-desist letters to Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, and Real Systems. "What did these companies do to run afoul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?" I'll pretend you asked. Why, they didn't buy some low-rent techie's copy-protection software, which some lawyer is going to claim is circumventing an access control mechanism.

Once again, Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Well played, sir

I'm glad to see that the Governator's office is treating the petition with all the seriousness it deserves.

So now both of you have come right out and said that?

11 House Republicans told President Bush that the war is bad for the GOP. Let me repeat that, in case the stupidity wasn't clear enough
They said the WAR is bad for the GOP.

Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick.

Who's making this crap?

So I'm watching American Idol last night, and was once again completely apoplectic at the obvious incompetence of the sound engineer(s) on this show. How are they not getting fired? They don't seem to be getting any better, so clearly their on-the-job training isn't working out so well. I've lost count of the number of times I've complained to Kathy that the background singers or the band is too hot for the lead vocal mike. Does the sound engineer not listen to the mix during the show? Seriously?

The director and/or D.P. sucks too, but at least he's/they're sucking less than he/they did at the first part of the season. Yes, dude, we know you have a crane; that doesn't mean you need to make Every! Single! Cut! a crane shot. I understand that the contestants don't necessarily know how to be visually interesting while singing just yet, and so you have to help them out, but howzabout you learn another couple of techniques? Plzkthxbai!

I'm also pretty much over the "SteadiCam-enabled circular dolly around the vocalist" trick. There's a reason why three-camera setups are so common, and it's because they don't make the audience motion sick. Also they provide plenty of visual interest without drawing attention to the fact that a camera is involved.

When Gwen Stefani was performing a few weeks ago, her natural visual-intensive performance was completely ruined by the director's insistence on trying to gin up visual interest via pull-zoom and crane shots. Ms. Stefani just needed close-up, medium, and establishing shots. The rest of it was irritating and distracting.

Ooooh! Shiny!

I need one of these, don't you think?

Maybe I don't miss shopping at "Best Buy" after all

I swear "Best Buy" didn't used to suck, but that was before they "merged" with "Media Play". Now, they suck.

more plzkthxbai

An essay on lolcatz etymology? "Not pedantic enough," he says.

We were warned!

Brave prescient activists warned us that if George W. Bush was re-elected, we'd see professors fired over trumped-up charges of ideological nonconformity. THEY WERE RIGHT!!!!!

Thank you to Professor Reynolds for this incredibly timely find.

Take that, AACS

Heh heh ... "redacted," it says. I'll have to order one of these, I think.

David Brin was right

The NSA has been watching all (or a significant portion of) Internet traffic sans warrant for years, according to a former AT&T network technician.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

How the mouse works

Takes a moment to load up, but it's worth it.

It's like mechanical steroids

Not that I exercise or anything, but still ... this might convince me to start.

Wow. Just ... wow

An actual essay on the origins of locatz, from one of the geniuses at I Can Has Cheezburger. I'm floored.

And another thing

The Tennessean ignited a small storm when they published an online database of concealed carry permit holders. The implication was that gun owners need to be tracked like sex offenders. points out the absurdity of that comparison including reference to studies showing the lawfulness of CCW holders as compared to the general population.

Lovely essay, that

Fred Thompson, writing about George Tenet's appearance on Meet The Press.

Something's wrong with the world

Something is seriously up when I find myself expressing admiration for a French politician, which I did just yesterday to my buddy Krish. I'll pretend you asked why, and point to this quick hit from Jules Crittendon in response.

Want to edit a film?

Want to edit a film? I'll just quote from their page:
OpenSourceCinema is a collaborative documentary project to create a feature film about copyright in the digital age. We want you to create parts of the film.
Sound like fun? I think so, too.

Melancholy Elephants

Spider Robinson has posted a short story, Melancholy Elephants, on his web site. This story explores what it means to continue extending copyright on artistic works for longer and longer periods. It's short, as I mentioned, and well worth your time to read.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Pluto Tells All

Never mind the Geico cavemen; recently-demoted dwarf planet Pluto airs it all out.

Sure, we printed a retraction

The NYT has now admitted that President Bush did not call himself "the Commander Guy". Roughly 1.2M other websites now have to be similarly retracted. I'm holding my breath.

And thank you to Neptunus Lex for finding this and writing the joke.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Friday, May 04, 2007

So now I have to budget how much?

I might have to spring for the new Photoshop CS3 (I've been putting it off and sticking with my old copy of Photoshop) since Photoshop lets you do this. Very nice.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

What he said

I sent a copy of the now-famous "09 F9" number in various forms to a handful of people. The whole AACS thing irked me, but I couldn't easily explain why. Now I don't have to, thanks to Ed Felten.

Do people still say that?

I was listening to the Adam Carolla show while driving in this morning. Today's in-studio guest was Ted Nugent, well-known bowhunting advocate. They took a phone call from a listener who had a question for Ted. The caller, J. Random Listener, started out claiming to be a fellow sportsman and hunter, presumably to establish his Man Club bona fides or something, but rapidly escalated into calling Ted a punk and ... a "chickenhawk."

I was astounded. Here, live, in person (sort of), an actual human being (henceforth "Person A") called another human being (henceforth "Person B") a "chickenhawk" because Person B didn't join the military. What year is it again? Is it possible to have been online-aware enough to get the "call Republicans 'chickenhawks'" memo but not actually clued in sufficiently to realize that the whole "chickenhawk" argument has been laid to rest rather forcefully? Even the normally anti-Republican Wikipedia has an entry for "chickenhawk" that lists a whole slew of reasons why "chickenhawk" is passe.

Or is it still alive elsewhere, and I'm not looking in the correct fever swamps?

It's just bizarre.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Get Some Nuts!

Quit yo' jibber-jabber, foo!

I don't think that means what you think it means

I'm driving in to work today listening to the radio when I heard a commercial from the State of Washington trying to get people not to speed. First, I'm not sure why they bother since everybody in this place drives like old women; if you transport anybody from here to Atlanta, they'd be a road hazard akin to a rock slowly rolling down the middle of the highway. Anyway ... the commercial makes a big point of saying that 1 in 3 fatal accidents involve speed, so slow down.

Wouldn't that mean that you'd rather be speeding than not? If only 1 in 3 people killed in accidents are speeding, then 2 in 3 are not speeding, so not speeding appears to be less safe. Way to go, State of Washington!

Numbers sure are hard, aren't they?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Unpacking the Wii

So I got a Wii, finally. Let me start by saying that scoring one was made much easier with the services of iTrackr. iTrackr, as you might guess from the name, tracks the availability of various consumer goods and tells you when it looks like you can find one. In my case, I just configured it to tell me when any of ten local retailers (I picked them from a list) had Wii consoles in stock, and that I wanted to be notified by getting a text message to my phone. It cost me all of two (2) U.S. dollars for this service.

The first message I got from iTrackr sadly arrived while I was at the airport on the way back East to visit family. Before I got back to Seattle, I got a message that the Wii was out of stock again. This past Saturday night, I got a message that the Target in Redmond had consoles. I phoned them mid-morning on Sunday, confirmed they had them in-stock, and drove over and picked one up. Almost as simple as having a personal assistant. iTrackr is now highly recommended.

So snyway, I got home with the Wii and started unpacking everything.

Step 1: Admire the box
Ooh ... shiny.
The fun can now begin

Step 2: Open the box
See the boxes inside the outside box. Notice how they're labeled so you don't turn the outside box upside down and drop stuff. Thanks, Nintendo.
Boxes in boxes

Step 3: Remove the inner boxes
Gaze in wonder at the amount of plastic bags and twist ties holding things.

Step 4: Gawk at the actual pieces-parts
Here's the sensor bar that you have to attach to your television, plus the two controller bits that came with the console.
Accessories Needed

Step 5: Open the other game
Target didn't have any (?!?) extra controllers, so I had to buy this second "game" to get a second controller.
Wii Play

Step 5b: Look at Zelda
Haven't even put the disk in yet, but I've got it ready to go.
The Legend of Zelda

Step 6: It's smaller than it looks
Here's the console itself. The console is tiny; barely larger than a CD. You can see the slot, which is where the CD is inserted. From that you can judge that any randomly-selected technical book is way bigger than this electronic marvel.
The Wii

I installed the console in landscape mode, so it sits flat on its tiny little feet (you can barely see them in the photo as a darker shadow on the broad side of the console) underneath the television. Sadly, I didn't take a picture of the completed installation, so you'll just have to use your imagination for that part.

Step 7: Have super fun
As soon as I got it all hooked up, the girls were clamoring to make their own Miis. To be honest, Kathy and I were excited too. We spent quite a while making our little avatars, and tweaking their clothes, and grabbing them by their heads out of the Mii parade so we could watch them shaking their tiny limbs. Seriously. I'll have to tape that so you can all see how stupidly amusing it is.

We then chose "bowling" as our first game. Selected our Miis in order, distributed the controllers, and off we went. It took a few tries for Kyra to get the whole "swing your arm like you're actually bowling" motion, but she's only five so it's okay. She picked it up, though, and we all had great fun.

Everybody and their mother has written about how approachable this gaming system is, but I'm going to pile in anyway. It was surprising to me how much like "real" bowling this turned out; while sitting on the couch watching the bowler we were all cheering and clapping, just like we tend to do at the bowling alley. While the ball's on its way down the alley, I was completely unable to resist gesturing madly and almost-dancing in my efforts to impart some "body english" to the ball. When I missed picking up the spare, I was just as quick to childishly turn away so as not to see my failure. It was weird.

So, I'll just go along with everybody else and say "go get one." It's $400 well spent.

I'm also going to repeat my appreciation for iTrackr and tell you that that was $2 well spent.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I got a Wii

I scored a Wii! Woo hoo!

Pictures of the unpacking will follow shortly. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Switzerland in a fighter jet

Bullets in slow-mo? Faugh!

Bullets in slow-mo is SO 1999. How 'bout some razor-sharp swords?

Sword v. egg

Sword v. plastic bottle

Sword v. tomato

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wait ... what?

MSNBC just posted a story about terrorists attacking a government building with chlorine gas bombs.

And how did they title the web page? "Iraqi police go on killing spree; 45 killed". What?

Turns out that, in a completely unrelated incident, a Shiite militia which included some off-duty Iraqi Police officers went on a rampage in a Sunni town and shot a bunch of people. A Major-General from the Iraqi Army division that put a halt to it observed that "army interference" prevented a larger carnage. Can somebody please 'splain to retarded little me how "terrorists using chemical weapons" gets essentially ignored, while "Iraqi army does their job and puts down militia attacks" gets spun as if the Iraqi Police forces conducted an official operation of murdering?


Monday, March 26, 2007

HamNation: Better living through activism.

Whoosh! Boom! Splat!

I'll be ordering one, thank you

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I'm not a photographer

I look at a work of genius like this and realize I'm not really a photographer; I'm just a guy who takes snapshots of stuff. It's inspiring, though. Go and see.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Yet another "300" review

Neal Stephenson reviews "300" which I haven't yet seen. I will be seeing it, but likely without the company of my wife or my best friend. They probably won't see it until it comes out on DVD, and perhaps not even then.

But I will.



First up, "Naturally 7" performing on the Metro:

"Naturally 7"s actual video for this arrangement

Here's a beatboxer trying out for French "Pop Idol". Good job, dude.

Roxorloops (a Belgian dude) showing off

I'm noticing a pattern here.

Beatboxer at an "Australian Idol" try-out (this dude's seriously working it)

SHLOMO throwin' it down

Beardyman in the kitchen! Woo hoo for Beardyman!

Beardyman on his own page

And now you can buy DVDs to learn how to beatbox.

(Most of this lifted straight from bOing bOing)

Friday, March 09, 2007

BSG mash-ups

I still haven't actually seen an episode of "Battlestar Galactica," but Lee assures me it's good. I might have to watch it once or twice, since they're apparently pomo enough to have a BSG mash-up toolkit with an associated contest.

I might have to put "MOTORMOUTH" on hold and see what I can do with these high-production-quality bits of stuff.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Calyx and Corolla are the best.

I ordered some flowers for my sweetie last week, and they arrived today. They were from Calyx & Corolla, whom I highly recommend for all flower purchases. We have never had any problems with them, and the flowers look super spectacular, and they last approximately eleventeen hundred billion times longer than grocery store flowers.

The new flowers arrived today and, as usual, they look staggeringly gorgeous (I'll take a photo when I get home tonight and post it). Unfortunately the vase got broken during shipment. So I called their customer service number and told the lady who answered the phone that the flowers looked great but the vase was broken. I said I needed to arrange to send back the broken vase and get a replacement out. She said "never mind ... just throw away the old vase. We'll send you a new one out."

She didn't ask me my sooper-seekrit customer number. She didn't ask me my order number. She repeated my name, asked my ZIP Code, and verified that this was about the tulips I sent to Kathy. Now THAT'S customer service.

Now go buy some flowers.

Parrot tulips #3

Parrot tulips

Friday, March 02, 2007

Econ 101 in 5 minutes

10 Principles of Economics, Translated

So there you go ... he just saved you two whole semesters of your life.

Nobody ever tells me nothin'

Charlie the Unicorn.

How come nobody ever tells me about these things, huh?

P.S. Shuuuuuunn the non-believer! Shuuuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnn

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Social networking ftw

Don't have enough hawt chyx as friends on your MySpace page? Feel like it might keep you from looking like a playa? can fix that for you for a small fee.

BWA ha ha ha ha!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Net Neutrality redux

Let me state right up front that I'm in favor of Net Neutrality. I believe strongly that my contract with my ISP is for delivery of bits, and I really don't want them trying to shape my traffic based on the source for those bits. I paid for bit delivery, and I've asked for those particular bits, and I expect my ISP to send me those bits at the agreed-upon terms for speed and bandwidth. If they didn't like that contract, they should have tried to negotiate different terms beforehand.

My friend Dan has argued the other side of this on several occasions. I suspect he's doing it just for the fun of arguing (I'm guilty of that myself quite often). I'll have to ask him to remind me of his most compelling argument so that I can write it down and demolish it with vim and vitriol.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Fair Use insurance for documentary film makers

Lawrence Lessig announces legal support for documentary film makers who abide by a few guidelines for ensuring they're not running afoul of "Fair Use" of copyrighted materials.

Someday I hope to have need of this service.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

If the robots win ...

If The Robots Win We'll Have To Listen To Techno

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Oh, that Tim Blair

Tim Blair talks about his nation's efforts to enable lightbulb-smuggling criminals, including this choice quote
Australia’s output of greenhouse gases amounts to 1.6% of the global total. A reduction of 4 million tonnes in one year will cut that output to ... 1.58%. Not a bad trade in exchange for becoming a half-illuminated nation of squinty mole-people.

Hot Air edits Hillary's latest speechification

+1 on continuing the conversation

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

See. Listen. Understand.

A message to the Republican party from the modern world.

To be honest, I'm of two minds about this. First, the message is a bit dilute because I could easily see it being a message to the DNC from the modern world; there's nothing inherently conservative or small-government here. It isn't even strongly individualistic, although it at least suggests that individual people can matter through its repeated use of "I" and "me" rather than "we" and "us".

Second, the message doesn't seem to have much message to it. What exactly do you want the RNC to take away from viewing this?

Maybe I'm just a moron; that interpretation is always present and you could probably get at least some of my friends to agree with you on that topic.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Graphics tablets RAWK!!!

I've got this old Wacom graphics tablet. (It isn't actually that one, it's the model before that one; the Sapphire CTE-430 but, as I said, it's old). I hadn't actually used it much until recently, when I decided I was going to use it enough to form an actual opinion.

I have now decided that this thing is the bee's knees. It's amazing the difference it makes in Photoshop. Go buy one now and start using it.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Bonus style points

I think beatboxing is kind of interesting, but a little goes a long way. I'm awarding 100 bonus style points to this guy, though, for creativity plus mugging.

Dixie Chicks? Rly?

My beloved wife TiVo'd a bit of the Grammys for me to share, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers performance (woo hoo!). She told me about the Dixie Chicks "wins", to which I replied "fark them ... that was nothing but cheap political posturing on the part of the Grammy voters, whomever they may be." Looks like other people have the same dim view of Grammy voters.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Bruce Eckel says Java is dead

Bruce Eckel says Java is dead. He says Ajax is a dead-end too. Fire, meet accelerant. Accelerant, meet fire.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Embarassing, right up until the end

I love TiVo. TiVo makes watching television something not entirely unpleasant. Why just last year, when we were in our temporary housing, we had to suffer without even a single-tuner TiVo unit and it was just horrible. I hardly ever (by which I mean "never at all if I can help it") watch things "live," but almost always watch them later on when it's more convenient for me.

So, I just got around to watching "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" last night. It was an embarassing slobbery L&O blowjob for Hillary Rodham Clinton. A wonderful, saintly, compassionate, much-loved womyn pol in NYC was running for President^H^H^H^H^HMayor but was being held back by her adulterous famous criminal husband, who always seemed to get himself indicted or something whenever she was about to get elevated to the throne she so richly deserved. Bleah.

At the first commercial break, I yelled at the teevee "but I don't like Hillary!" Took my wife a minute to figure out what I was on about, but as soon as she clued in she too was amazed at how openly the L&O folk were sucking up to Marie Antoinette.

So I was a bit puzzled when they wrapped up the ep by having HRH Whatshername guilty of a crime. L&O did go out of their way to make her crime rather weak: not stopping an assassination attempt on her husband because she didn't know how to avoid implicating that she knew it was going to happen. Bah. I bet when Bill takes a 7.62mm kiss to the head that HRC will have spat on the bullet before delivering it to the shooter.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Steve Jobs on DRM

I found more people discussing Steve Jobs' writing about DRM, which I posted as an update to my original post

Lebanon is a farking mess

Michael J. Totten interviews Eli Khoury, a Lebanese mover-and-shaker, about how the Cedar Revolution is going.

Shorter Khoury: not very well.

He does single out James Baker as a Syrian shill, which point I think bears repeating until people remember that James Baker, like much of the State Department, is not on our side.

Tim Blair 'splains Murricans

Tim Blair 'splains Murrican belief systems as only he is able to do.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

What is the Web 2.0?

Professor Michael Wesch, at Kansas State University, produced this video describing what Web 2.0 is about. It's super. I even got a little misty there at the end, but I might be a pansy. (via boing boing)

Prepare to repel boarders!

Steve Jobs, the real one, not FSJ, has something to say to the EU about opening up FairPlay: how 'bout you tell your music-distributing monopolies to get their sh*t in gear.

You tell 'em, Steve. Unencumbered MP3s > DRM.

UPDATE: Brian Tiemann provides one analysis and John Gruber provides another

Monday, February 05, 2007

How to make a trebuchet out of paperclips.

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - I declare an artillery war!

A handy primer

A handy primer to the military sign language used by Special Forces units, which you'll want to keep handy for the next time you're watching "Navy Seals".

Happy Birthday, Kathy!

Today is my sweetheart's birthday. I made her a DVD wherein I sang "Happy Birthday" to her and cried a bit while telling her how much I love her.

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday, dear Kathy
Happy birthday to you
I'll leave out the blubbering, for now.

Friday, February 02, 2007


On the matter of IATF RFC #1 I'll have to say I'm for it.

First, I believe that "rough concensus and running code" is an incredible organizing principle. In the spirit of that, I'm willing to join in the discussion and knock together some designs and implementations.

+1 for listing the rule of law first. Special interests chap my butt, as is evidenced by the amount of invective I heap upon the people who decide they're super-important enough not to have to find a parking spot but can just abandon their SUV right in front of the door to the school. Kathy can attest to the number of times I've wanted to get back out of the car and go share some pointed feelings with self-selecting aristocracy.

+1 for getting "not waiting for the gummint" up high on the list. Yes, I understand Hurricane Katrina was devastating. So was Hurricane Hugo, but I'm pretty sure that Mcclellanville rebuilt themselves rather than waiting for FEMA to dole out debit cards. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure Homestead did mostly the same thing when Andrew waded ashore there. "What's the difference" I pretend to hear you ask? South Carolinians and Floridans went about rebuilding their stuff because they didn't believe that all goodness flows from the government, while an awful lot of NOLA residents seem to believe it; this belief seems to be reinforced by the MSM in their quest to prove that President Bush "doesn't like black people".

I'm actually +1 on all the statements of principles here in the document. The only place I have serious complaints about is
The unsuccessful nation-building exercise in Iraq has debilitated our spirit. It would be wonderful if the new strategy in Iraq succeeds, so that the President's enemies, foreign and domestic, are confounded. But I question whether the various religious and secular leaders in Iraq have what it takes to live in an open society. In any case, I would like to see this issue raised before we undertake nation-building exercises in the future.

I note that, right here in the USA, people are killing each other all over the place. For example, Chicago, Illinois. They're shooting at the police! They're shooting at each other! It's a quaqmire! We should withdraw immediately and apologize to the UN! Let the Indians ("Native Americans"? "Amerinds"? insert whatever PC term you'd like here) sort out their own problems!

Sectarian violence is in Los Angeles, too! They're shooting each other! Shooting at the police! We should withdraw immediately and let the Mexicans ("Hispanics"? "Spanish-Americans"? "Little brown people"?) sort out their own problems! Beg the UN to send some scathing memos and blue-helmeted pedophilic panderers!

There are lots of points of discussion about our strategy and tactics in Iraq, but "failed nation building"? I'm lumping this in with all the other goalpost-moving vis-a-vis Iraq that's taking place in current political discussion. "It's been six years," you say? "We've still got troops in Germany, and it's been sixty years since we 'won the war' there," I reply.

In short, I don't think this belongs in the document at all since it will, sooner or later, be an outdated appendix of a reference.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Windows on iMac update

Windows on iMac update
After much jiggery-pokery, I finally got everything configured to have a Windows XP partition on the iMac. It actually works, which is just a freaky thing. It ain't right to see the Windows desktop running up there. It just ain't!!!

Anyway, I have to mark the whole experiment as a learning experience.

Lessons learned
It all works as advertised.
By "all", I mean FreeNAS and BootCamp. Aside from my own towering ignorance, it all installed and executed just fine. Two thumbs up for these products.
Wireless networking is noticably too slow for some apps
Although I have a proof-of-concept NAS to which I fully intend to rip all my DVD movies for streaming through the AppleTV adapter I fully intend to buy, 801.11g just isn't fast enough to host all my iPhoto work over it. I ought to take a look at Aperture, since I know there's a trial version available, to see if it's a little more NAS-friendly, but iPhoto is just dog-slow to start up, import, and shut down when the library is hosted over a wireless link.
Sims 2 still doesn't work right
It seems that nothing that I do is going to make it possible for my sweetie to play her "Sims 2" on the iMac. I instralled the game plus all the expansions and applied all the patches, and still get weird display artifacts under Windows-on-iMac. The "native" Mac version still isn't a universal binary and plays dog-slow under emulation, plus which all the expansion sets are for Windows, not Mac, so it doesn't have all the base content. Bleah.

So, I conclude by saying it sort-of worked, and I might leave my iTunes hosted on the NAS for when I finish ripping the DVDs and want to stream them to the teevee. But clearly the iPhoto library has to come back to local storage. I might keep the NAS online and run backups to it periodically, now that I think about it.

I will mention that Civ4 works fine on Windows-on-iMac, so Kathy and I will be able to play without hotseat! Yay! AOE3 is next on the install list.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Apple wins! Apple wins!

I saw an article on Ars Technica today about how two very large lobbying groups in France and Germany have joined with a few E.U. nations in pressuring Apple to "open up" FairPlay, their DRM scheme. Apple is, predictably, telling them to pound sand.

I'm just this guy, right? But I'm going to say that if this actually happens, the DRM wars are basically over and Apple won. Other music player manufacturers might or might not license FairPlay, and other content creators might or might not embrace FairPlay, but that would pretty much be the end of other DRM schemes. The music world would be split into FairPlay v. unencumbered without any real space for third alternatives. If you can get your music onto iPods, wouldn't you? If you're telling yourself that the only reason people are buying iPods instead of your player is because they're locked into iTunes but you could get around that legally, wouldn't you? And once you've made that jump, whichever camp you were previously in, why would you absorb the expense in time and money of maintaining whatever the other DRM scheme was?

That's just my take on it, you know. I'm not an MBA or anything.

Fun with networked storage

So Kathy's been playing "Sims 2" and "Ceasar IV" on the Windows computer, which is now an old and creaky 2.0GHz P4 instead of a shiny new multi-core box. Stuff breaks and so forth, and I'm no more fond of dorking about with hardware and screwdrivers than I've ever been. After much hemming and hawing, I broke down and embraced the heresy that is running Windows XP on the iMac. Part of this catalyst was stumbling across FreeNAS(pops) and reading its feature list.

Step 1: free up a bunch of disk space

Apple's BootCamp will cheerfully repartition the drive to allow Windows XP and OS X to coexist, but disk space must be available. A quick check showed we had about 35GB in iTunes, iPhoto, and iMovie/iDvd/.dmg movies. "I know ... I'll set up a network attached storage (NAS) box", which immediately gave me two problems (thanks, JWZ!)

I dug into the box of not-yet-discarded computer-y bits to see what I had handy. I had an AMD computer, which was Kathy's gaming rig before the iMac arrived, and found a 300GB hard drive. I burned the latest FreeNAS drop to bootable CD and fired it up.

For reasons known only to them, the FreeNAS authors decided that "install this product" would be choice #7 in the menu. Hmph. Anyway, I told it to install onto the hard drive in two partitions: one smaller bootable partition with the freenas bits on it, and put the rest of the drive in a second partition for use. It installed and then wanted to reboot.

It didn't reboot. "DISK BOOT FAILURE INSERT SYSTEM DISK" it said. Grr. After much whacking the machine with sticks and such, I finally guessed that the system was old enough that it didn't want to boot from a hard drive that was bigger than 127GB (that being the new limit of "big drives", I guess). I dug back into the box o' parts and found an 80GB drive. Set up the 80GB drive as the IDE 1 master and the 300GB drive as IDE 1 slave and powered up.

Nothing. Grr. I hate hardware. This is why I'm in software development and not IT; poking about inside the computer innards is evil. I cursed a bit more, then threw away the 80GB drive and found a 13GB drive instead. Set up that as the master and powered up. It booted to CD! Yay me!

Chose option #7 again to install to the 13GB drive, then rebooted. This time it actually booted from the hard drive and was working. I set it to get an address via DHCP, which it did, then all was wonderful and I could remove the keyboard, mouse, and monitor and shove the thing under the table and forget all about it.

Step 2: Set up the connections

FreeNAS supports SMB/CIFS (just like everybody else in the world), but it also support AFP, which the iMac likes better. FreeNAS also speaks Rendezvous/Bonjour, so it was a piece of cake to mount the volume so the iMac could see it. A little more search-fu and I found how to tell the iMac to mount the share whenever Kathy logs in, so she won't have to remember (or even know how) to mount the thing. Yay FreeNAS!

Step 3: Move the data

As I mentioned, we have about 35GB of music, movies, and pictures. I applied my previously-mentioned search-fu and found how to move the iTunes music folder and how to move the iPhoto library. (As an aside, if you hold down "option" while starting iPhoto, it will ask you where the library is so you can repoint iPhoto before deleting your library). The iMovie/iDvd/.dmg files I just dragged to the new location.

Step 4: Take a backup

This might should have been step 3, but since I didn't delete anything from the local hard drive yet it works out about the same.

Step 4.1: Backup iTunes

Backing up your stuff in iTunes is really pretty simple since there's a menu option to do backups. I set the checkboxes to do a full backup to DVDs and then just switched disks when told to.

Step 4.2: Fail to backup iPhoto

I was already in the habit of burning a copy of all my pictures to CDs at the end of the year, so I just needed to do the 2006 pics. I fired up iPhoto, selected those pictures, and clicked "Share | Burn". It asked for a blank disk, so I put in a blank CD. It said there was like 5GB of pics for 2006 and refused to burn the album.

WTF? Just split the files across two DVDs, you piece of crap! How hard is this going to be? "Impossible," it turns out. "You're the first person EVAR!!!! to want to do that," iPhoto continued. Jeebus farking christ on a pogo stick. Really? First person ever? That's seriously f*cked up, Apple.

Step 4.2.1: Look for a better backup program

Since I have such faith in my search-fu skills, I'm forced to believe there isn't a backup program that will do what I want (burn the pictures from 2006 to a set of disks). Apple's own "Backup" program only works if you have a .Mac account. Silverkeeper won't write to DVDs (as far as I can tell). Toast might work, but I wasn't going to spend $80 to find out it wouldn't. I tried Disco (cool smoke, by the way), but it created six coasters for me and no backups, so I quit trying.

Step 4.3: Find a work-around

So, back to iPhoto and its stupid stupid "Share | Burn" choice. I inserted a blank DVD and starting selecting chunks of my 2006 pics to see when I got close to the disk capacity. Finally, that worked. I got my backup onto two disks which I promptly put into the fire-resistant safe with the other disks.

After the backup finished, I looked at the disks and saw that iPhoto stored not just the pictures themselves, but their original selves (before any Photoshopping) plus all its directory structure guff. If my time had been completely worthless, I probably could have dorked around another six or ten hours and gotten just the "after" pictures themselves and saved a whole blank DVD.

Step 5: Lose power

Our neighborhood lost power last night. This morning Kathy powers up her iMac and the NAS doesn't mount. She doesn't particularly care because she just wanted to check her email, but my obsessive-compulsive disorder kicks in and I have to know RIGHT KNOW why it didn't work. It turns out that it didn't work because I'm two kinds of idiot: (1) I'm the kind of idiot who didn't set the NAS to turn itself back on after a power failure, so I had to go push the power button myself, and (2) I'm the kind of idiot who sets a network resource to get its IP address via DHCP so, unless I get luckier than I have any right to expect, when it comes back up it won't have the same IP address as it used to have.

Right. So I go back and correctly configure the NAS to have a fixed IP address. Since I'm not completely disfunctional, I had set aside an address range from the DHCP server so I actually had an IP address available for the NAS. Little "yay" for me. One more reboot, and the NAS is up with a fixed IP address. Reconfigure the iMac to mount that share instead of the other one, and I'm good until the next crisis.


FreeNAS is working well so far, and plays well with the iMac. Most of my problems arose from trying to do all of this without spending any money at all, and from not being a computer gearhead in the first place.

Future Directions

Anyway, my next planned adventure will be actually installing Windows onto the iMac so Kathy will finally have a smooth gaming experience uninterrupted by pointless crashes.

For my adventure-after-next (or possibly the one after that), I'm looking around for a box that will boot from USB (so I can boot from a USB thumbdrive thereby freeing all four internal IDE channels to hang big honking disks) at a low low (low) price, plus a bunch of 500GB drives so I can build this out into a more permanent network fixture.

I will also be purchasing an AppleTV box at some point, at which time I'll probably rip all the DVDs to disk so I can stream them onto my teevee without having to touch the DVDs themselves. I'll definitely do that with the kids disks as they otherwise abuse the media so badly I have to replace the movies far more often than necessary.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Freakin' snow

Snowed again yesterday, but worse this time. I went out to my car at 4:45. Traffic didn't move enough to let me get out of my parking space until after 5:00. I didn't get out of the parking lot until about 6:00. I finally just parked my car again and called my friend Dan. Dan works at MSFT also, lives not far from us, and has a hybrid SUV with all-wheel drive. He was stuck in the same traffic about thirty cars in front of me, so it took me nearly two whole minutes to walk the distance it took him an hour or more to drive.

We rode together and talked about lots of things, mostly work-related, while waiting to get out onto the road to see how things were going. As it turns out, most of the trouble was people driving little lightweight front wheel drive cars. Those vehicles are just not the right gear to drive uphill in icy conditions. Once we got enough room to maneuver around them, we just drove right on home.

If this FREAKING GLOBAL WARMING THAT AL GORE KEEPS PROMISING ME keeps up, I'm going to have to trade in my Audi A4 for a hybrid SUV myself. Not because I'm all green and saving the planet and what-not, but so I'll have a super-heavy all-wheel drive vehicle for making my way home through all the snow.

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Today we're still snowed in, so I'm having to work from home. That, working from home, was an entirely unforseen benefit of working at MSFT. When AL GORE'S LONG-PROMISED GLOBAL WARMING gets you snowed in at home, you can still get some work done instead of having to take valuable vacation days. Woo hoo!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Curse you Al Gore!

It snowed again last night. This is Seattle, where it's supposed to be a Zone 7. Where the f#$*&^ is all that global warming you promised me? How come there's snow on the freakin' ground? WTF happened to Denver? "Global" my rosy red butt. Freakin' New York takin' all the global warming.

The iPhone

I read several different people's liveblogging of Steve Jobs' keynote at MacWorld yesterday. (I thought Engadget's write-up was well-done.) I have already begun setting aside money to purchase two iPhones, one for me and one for Kathy, somewhere in the vicinity of the instant they're made available.

Ooooooo shiny. I must have one.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Lunchtime oddity

I went to lunch yesterday, as I nearly always do, in a Microsoft cafe. I decided to get some salad from the salad bar, and noticed something ... odd.

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Umm ... what? Is this something I should be concerned about? Surely it's the work of an attorney, what with it being a pre-printed label and all. Somebody somewhere sued somebody somewhere else over "potentially hazardous food" and this is one of the results of that mysterious event in our shared past.

And what exactly would be a "potentially hazardous food"? Does it asplode when shaken? Can you crochet it into a vest? I'm awash with curiosity now.


I'm driving home tonight, minding my own business, listening to the radio and cursing the SLOW-ASS SEATTLE DRIVERS in front of me. The radio is tuned to C89.5, an all-electronica station run by a local high school1.

A new song starts up:
City rooftop
Summer night
In your tank-top
rainbow stylin'


1 C89.5 Worldwide

[insert spit-take here]

My current priority work is a piece of technical writing required under the DOJ consent decree. As you might imagine from that lead-in, it really is first priority, and e'body is serious about having my (and the other people writing other docs) attention focused on it.

I finished up my first draft and sent it off to the appropriate Architect for review. From now until the document is due, I'll be in draft-review-edit cycles. I know that my v-team 1 is above the glide path with open bugs we're trying to resolve before beta 3 escrow. I know the dev lead is busting his ass trying to resolve his bugs plus get some of the SWI bugs punted to a later release. I know the other guys on the v-team are overbooked and working hard to get the bugs resolved.

So, I decided, in a fit of rampant stupidity, to volunteer to take a bug or two to work on during my spare cycles. "Hey," I said to myself, "I'm just being a good team member."

I came in this morning to find myself the proud new owner of 47 bugs. 47 BUGS. (Update: A handful got reassigned so now I only have 19 bugs. Yay me! Woo hoo! Looks like I'll be going home early after all.)

No good deed goes unpunished, right?

At least I'll get a "Ship It!" award this time.

1 A v-team, or virtual team, is a team drawn from the pool of personnel to work on a particular project but not permanently re-organized into a group. My v-team dev lead won't conduct my HR review, for example, but my "real" dev lead will.