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mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

The big news: Friday Colleen went upstairs (supervised by two PTs -- they'd originally been planning to do car transfers but it was raining). They marked out where I should put grab bars; I got one of them in yesterday.

Lots of puttering, last weekend and this. Finally got new showerheads installed. The new hand shower has a vertical bar that can be used as a grab bar; it turns out that drilling tile is a bitch, so it's only held on by two screws at the moment. I'll work on that some more this afternoon. Brought up a box of cookbooks. Etc.

Friday came over yesterday (yes, Friday was here on Saturday) and made curried chicken. There are leftovers; not entirely sure what we're having for dinner tonight. We also had pizza (last Saturday) and Chinese (Friday).

I got some work done on the Steve.Savitzky.net and Rainbow's End Massage websites, though not all that much.

I had some notion last week of dropping the "Done" posts back to one per week, and doing occasional posts with real content in between. Well, I got halfway there...

Lots of links in the notes; you can read about the Autism Speaks kerfuffle, perfect forward secrecy and other security matters (Hi there, NSA), and Avengers AU fanfic with cats, among many others.

raw notes )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Much of the afternoon was eaten up by Colleen's phone. Yesterday evening it fell into her recliner and got pinched in the mechanism. It mostly worked, but a sensor was broken that caused it to turn the screen off when you made a call, and not turn it back on. We ordered a new one via insurance (which required a phone call -- the web interface didn't work), then proceeded to the AT&T store to get a GoPhone to tide us over in the interim. And back to the store, when we found out that her contacts hadn't gotten transfered. So I spent most of Earth Day making two trips in my car. Right.

The fact that smartphones and dumb phones use different size SIM cards is stupid and sucky. Also the fact that smartphones aren't available cheaply. *sigh*

When I first realized that the contacts hadn't transfered and that I was going to have to make a second trip, I had a brief screaming meltdown. Apparently I'm closer to the edge than I thought. I guess it's not surprising -- I am under a lot of perfectly understandable stress right now. I just hadn't realized it.

I need to pay more attention to self care, don't I? I always have a lot of trouble with that -- walks and music are about the only things I know of that I can do to relieve stress, and I never make the time for them when I have "important" things to do. :P

Silly old bear!

'One Day on Earth': The Most International Movie Premiere Ever looks pretty amazing; I hope it comes out on DVD sometime soon. FORTUNE Magazine's Top 100 Employers to Work For was interesting, but not as useful as one might hope -- there are only two or three with IT-type jobs in the Seattle area (though, oddly, Google's Seattle-area offices aren't mentioned).

raw notes )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Not a terribly productive day, but I got in quite a few phone calls, and a 2.7 mile walk. And got the year's non-tax receipts sorted out and put into envelopes for the annual file box.

And my medicare card arrived. That was a bit of a weird feeling.

So... Why Do Magazines Look So Terrible on the iPad 3? Because most of them are shipped as PNG images, rendered for the iPad 2, which has 1/4 as many pixels. That's why. Idiots! Didn't they learn about assuming a fixed screen size when the Mac II came out? Apparently not.

raw notes )
mdlbear: a locomotive engine dangling from a hole in a building (trainwreck)

It was a weird but basically good weekend. Basically, I hit the ground running after receiving my layoff notice on Thursday. Somebody at our party on Saturday (you probably missed it) asked me whether I was planning to take a couple of months off before I started job-hunting. My answer was a very cheerful "Hell no! Would you like a copy of my updated resume?" I can't afford to gather any moss.

Because of the combination of a rather large refinance and a serious drop in the housing market, I am no longer planning to stay in Grand Central Starport after I retire, whether that's six months or six years from now. That realization has been extremely liberating (can you say "albatross"?); I am now looking for work both in the South Bay and in the Seattle area. The ideal, of course, would be finding someplace near Seattle that's willing to pay for relocation expenses. Many thanks to my dear sister-of-choice, [personal profile] pocketnaomi, for the conversations that helped me realize what I had to do.

The selfsame moment I [let go]
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.

Link of the day: House of Cards - James Keelaghan - YouTube (via philkmills' comment on my S4S post).

raw notes )
mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

It's a bit of a grab-bag today. I found myself needing to finally learn the melody to a couple of songs that I'd so far only played guitar on, because I want to do them in my upcoming concert at Consonance. You know that thing about dominos? That.

So the only recordings I could find were back in 2009. And, for some unaccountable reason, I hadn't put up the audio for that concert. It soon became clear that one reason I hadn't was that the performer tags in the audio files were wrong...

... and once I'd fixed that, I decided to put my concert index into a sensible, most-recent-first format. (It had been most recent year first, but most recent last within each year.) So that's done now. And Baycon 2008 didn't have an index.html file. It does now.

So here you go:

... and if you're still with me, there's a somewhat off-the-wall bonus. You see, this week the R&D lab I work for publicly announced a subsidiary in India called Ricoh Innovations Private Limited (RIPL)

So what was the first song that popped into my head when first I heard about it? Right. The Grateful Dead - Ripple. I've been waiting five months to post that one...

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Pretty good week so far, actually. A lot of my mindspace early in the week was taken up by a River post on telling your friends what they need to hear, which replaced a previous post with, let's just say, more heat and much less light.

But I mostly kept up the momentum from the latter half of last week, and got quite a lot done. In particular, I managed to get some music-related work done every day, three walks and a drive with Colleen, and a lot of small but important tasks at work. Breaking things down into tiny steps really seems to work for me, and while there aren't all that many items here tagged with "15min", there probably should have been.

Sunday's drive was glorious. We reversed our usual route and drove up I280 to 92, then south along the coast via Highway 1 to Santa Cruz, and back by way of 17. This gave us a better view of the ocean than usual, and we saw a gorgeous effect that I'd never seen before -- bits of sunlight streaming through gaps in the clouds and making bright patches far out on the ocean, made more visible by the contrast. Just... wow.

I made chicken soup with rice for dinner. From scratch, using the chicken bones I'd saved from Saturday's broccoli chicken. Yum.

Monday I finally put two and two together and realized that the fact that my (AT&T) cell phone signal at work had gone from unusable to 100% and the fact that a group from Apple had moved in next door might possibly be related. Ya think?

Tuesday morning I had a nice conversation with the YD -- every once in a while she gets up early. Later that evening, I worked on the blackout code for steve.savitzky.net, lookingglassfolk.com, tempered-glass.info, tres-qique.com, and pocketpoems.net, using code from SopaBlackout.org. (I understand that PIPA won't be brought to a cloture vote today as previously scheduled. The net can kick ass sometimes.)

Wednesday I woke up remembering a dream mostly about plumbing. No idea what that signifies. Thursday I finally got printing back online for the netbooks and the YD's laptop. The latter also required booting from the "startup repair" partition and waiting for an hour or so while it cranked away, fixing what appeared to be a corrupt filesystem. Pretty slick, actually. F12. It would be nice if the boot screen actually mentioned that feature, though.

Note to self: make a restore disk first thing when configuring a new Windows machine.

I don't know whether batching up my daily updates like this is a good idea or not, but I do seem to have a little more time on days when I forget. I thought briefly of doing a "Wednesday Wrap-up", but I'd forgotten by the time I got home. They say your memory is the second thing to go.

I've forgotten the first.

Quite a few links, on a wide range of topics. I'm going to signal-boost [livejournal.com profile] moon_fox's Character Art Jam, in part because I left a prompt there (and a tip).

raw notes )
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

I've made my decision: Most of my posts will start out posted on mdlbear.dreamwidth.org, and be automatically crossposted from there to mdlbear.livejournal.com. If LJ is flaky, I'll get them transfered as soon as I can.

The exceptions will be fluff like birthday posts, LJ's "writer's block" (which I do occasionally), and other memes, which will originate on LJ and get pulled back to DW somewhere between weekly and every couple of months. Weekly if I can figure out how to automate the import process.

I may stop doing the birthday posts altogether except on rare occasions; I seem to resent the time even though it's not very much. Possibly because it registers in my tiny bear-like brain as a break in my morning routine, coming well before the caffeine has hit. Let me know what you think about that.

I still want to have a "blog" on my main website, but that's still in the future. I have "blog" in quotes because it will just be for my longer articles and series like The River and Adventures in Family Computing.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

A rather unproductive day, especially at work, where everyone was recovering from the stress leading up to a major demo in Japan (which went off successfully).

A little more information on work's DNS fiasco: apparently this isn't the first time this particular ex-employee has gone about holding his employer's domain name for ransom. I suspect he's not going to enjoy the next several years.

I did manage to take a 3-mile walk, just before driving home from work (since I'd gone to a brown-bag talk on pricing at lunchtime). And had an interesting conversation via IM with Naomi and Ame.

OK, and did some work on Ame's web page, my IJ profile (which I don't use, but it's paid for), and my "quick reference home page" which is the page full of links I start my browsers on.

So... ok.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

A pretty good day; lots of puttering. Typed in Naomi's script for the Norwescon concert as the liner notes for the CD. Bid high in the Interfilk auction at Consonance -- it's worth it. Spent more time working on the website.

I also went to Southern Lumber for 1x12's, to become shelves in what once was the "sewing room". (Before that it was the kids' bedroom, and it still does double duty as a guest room.) Getting there. And I pulled down a goodly number of guided-imagery mp3's from Kaiser.

On the downside, I had a blood sugar crash on the way back from Southern, so stayed home rather than going out for a walk as originnally planned. And then cooked up some chili for dinner.

A reasonably good IM conversation and a nice drive with Colleen finished the day; I went splat somewhere around 11:30.

Lots of good links up there under the cut. I think my favorite is OpenMesh via Humans Are The Routers on TechCrunch.

mdlbear: (vixy-rose)

Now that she's made the public announcement, I can point you at my dear friend [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi's shiny new website, PocketPoems.net. As webmaster perpetrator, any gaffes in the layout or HTML coding are mine, as is any delay in getting it from a hastily-thrown-up single page to an intricate and beautiful site more worthy of her poetic talents.

Go and buy yourself or someone you love a poem. You'll be glad you did.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

When a post of mine contains a link whose text looks like a hostname or URL (with the "http://" omitted, usually) you can be pretty damned certain that it's the web site or web page itself that I'm trying to draw your attention to.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
Techdirt: What Does It Mean For The Christian Science Monitor To Go Web Only?
Early Tuesday, I saw the news that the venerable Christian Science Monitor newspaper was the first major mainstream daily newspaper to decide to shift away from print and focus mainly on the web. For the last few years there's been plenty of talk about how this day would come eventually, but it's still quite a surprise to see it actually happen. While I think it's the right move, I had expected most major newspapers to hang on until the bitter end. I didn't have a chance to write up a post on it immediately, so it gave me more of a chance to think through what this really means. The cost of producing, printing and distributing a physical newspaper each day is quite high. So, removing all of those costs is a big deal. The paper still is planning to do a print version weekly, which will function more as a weekly magazine, allowing the staff to dig deeper into various issues and provide a more complete summary reading for the week. Thus it will still need to do some printing and distribution, but at a vastly reduced rate and scale.

??

Oct. 3rd, 2008 07:01 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I didn't think I could get this drunk on one goddamned glass of gin.

The Cat is still seriously under the weather. I'm glad I went to work today (after an impromptu meeting I have considerably less to do for an impending demo). But she's doing a lot worse than she was this morning, and I don't like the look of it.

Meanwhile, the kids are off at Silicon. It seems I have one panel to give tomorrow afternoon, but apart from that I'm off the hook.

Mostly I'll be spending the weekend at home, taking care of my Cat and working on music and the Tres Gique website, which needs it. More precisely, I'll be working on our collaboration environment. More on that soon, I hope.

Chrome

Sep. 17th, 2008 03:32 pm
mdlbear: (hacker glider)
CrossOver Chromium
CrossOver Chromium is a Mac and Linux port of the open source Chromium web browser. CrossOver Chromium is available for download from CodeWeavers, free of charge.
It is also fast as a bat. A number of glitches that may be due to my window manager, or may be due to general flakiness in WINE. But overall very impressive. There are packages for both apt- and rpm-based distros, plus the Mac.
mdlbear: (hacker glider)
Don Marti www/google-chrome.html
The idea of tabs being first class citizens makes a lot of sense, but why have a sub-window-manager that just manages browser windows in tabs, when you could have a tabbed window manager that can manage everything? I might want a browser and a spreadsheet to share a tab.

So the right "browser" for a Linux environment might just be a really fast HTML/JavaScript viewer that talks to a separate HTTP client/cache, a Google Gears server, and a preferences/history server -- all of which are also available to the rest of the desktop. The browser isn't necessarily the only thing that wants to speak HTTP, use Gears, or store preferences. And the "browser" application could fit into a tabbed window or a standalone window, just as the window manager would let you do for anything else on the desktop.
I'm in complete agreement. I already have a tabbed window manager (the venerable CTWM). I want very much to have all the browsers operating out of my home directory, which is shared among half-a-dozen machines using NFS, to share the same flat file preference file, bookmarks, and history. I wouldn't mind throwing my shell and emacs windows into that mix as well. I already have a text box with command history and completion -- it's called xterm.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Music: Have spent most of the last hour and a half marking and splitting up Monday's and Wednesday's practice session. And I still need to move the DNS for tres-gique.* over to Dreamhost, and renew a couple of currently-little-used domains.

My idea for a single of Quiet Victories never materialized, obviously. But I noticed a rather inexpensive disk duplicator at Fry's... If I can find a printer with enough throughput it might be worthwhile. Otherwise, I'll have to settle for whipping the website into shape and printing booklets, which might be better anyway.

Health: The Ace ankle wrap seems to be working well; I think I can get through a weekend on just one pair of low shoes if I have to. Hopefully I won't have to in most cases, but it's good to know for air travel.

I seem to be getting enough sleep on a midnight-to-6am schedule, as long as Colleen isn't too restless.

For the last month or two my weight has been stuck stubbornly within a pound or so of 185, in spite of what I fondly hope has been a low-carb diet. May have to get more aggressive on that score. At least it's been on the low side of 185 for the last week, rather than on the high side.

Neighbors: Had a good talk with the next-door neighbors yesterday evening. They seem to be bearing up well under their losses, but between water and smoke damage they've apparently lost almost everything. The house appears to be structurally sound, though; repairs will be comparatively inexpensive in that direction. The fire was caused by an exploding part on the controller board in the washer; Belen had started a load just before she left. It's a good thing she did leave, though; apparently the next thing to catch was some plastic part in the washer, and the combustion products were highly toxic. PVC, probably. Maytag front-loader. Same kind that we have, though they've apparently been having lots of trouble with the controller, and we haven't. Knock wood.

mdlbear: (hurricane)

...gustavbloggers.com, live from the Zipa datacenter in New Orleans. Via [livejournal.com profile] interdictor, who was there blogging Katrina.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

At the museum yesterday we spotted a man on a nice little folding scooter: almost certainly this one. Either folds up or comes apart; the combination of small wheels, plastic seat, and small battery means that it's probably limited to light-duty, mainly indoor use, but it looks especially convenient for travel. A bit pricy, though.

From my Mom, a link to pomegranate.com, an art publishing house.

From [livejournal.com profile] gmcdavid, this post linking to an obituary for the last surviving member of Nicolas Bourbaki. I've read a couple of their books - crystal clear even with my rather limited high school French. Sad: another Great Old One gone.

As long as I'm clearing my tabs, here's a link to an article on organizing a web site with git, on linuxworld.com.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)
Internet Traffic Begins to Bypass the U.S. - NYTimes.com
“Since passage of the Patriot Act, many companies based outside of the United States have been reluctant to store client information in the U.S.,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. “There is an ongoing concern that U.S. intelligence agencies will gather this information without legal process. There is particular sensitivity about access to financial information as well as communications and Internet traffic that goes through U.S. switches.”

But economics also plays a role. Almost all nations see data networks as essential to economic development. “It’s no different than any other infrastructure that a country needs,” said K C Claffy, a research scientist at the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis in San Diego. “You wouldn’t want someone owning your roads either.”

Indeed, more countries are becoming aware of how their dependence on other countries for their Internet traffic makes them vulnerable. Because of tariffs, pricing anomalies and even corporate cultures, Internet providers will often not exchange data with their local competitors. They prefer instead to send and receive traffic with larger international Internet service providers.
(From [livejournal.com profile] cryptome.)

Not surprising.
mdlbear: (tsunami)
Reality Check | Ephraim Schwartz | InfoWorld | NBC doesn't own the Olympics, we do | August 9, 2008 06:46 AM | Ephraim Schwartz
To NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and other commercial broadcasters around the world I say, figure out another way to make money. The airwaves, the Internet airwaves at least, belong to us.

It wasn't the opening ceremonies at the Olympics that was thrilling but rather reading the accounts of the grass roots collaborative efforts of people around the world doing an end run around the commercial sites who claimed to own the rights to broadcast the event by sharing, often over YouTube, videos of the Games.

People were not content to watch a sanitized, tape delayed version of a major global event and when YouTube owners Google played the subservient pawn in NBC's commercial endeavors we witnessed new videos pop up just as fast as they could shut down the old. And when that didn’t work users were sharing links across Twitter and other collaborative sites.

The New York Times quoted Gary Zenkel, the president of NBC Olympics, as saying "we have a billion dollars worth of revenue at stake here, so that means we're not public television, for better or worse."

Well it is going to be worse.
mdlbear: (flamethrower)

From this post by [livejournal.com profile] tagryn, a cautionary tale of the of relying on third-parties to store your important files and email: When Google Owns You.

One of my coworkers had an equally bad experience with Netscape Calendar: one day it was just gone. Not only had they cancelled the service, but they'd deleted all the user data. They had been careful not to tell their customers of this plan, because they "didn't want anyone to complain."

I'd been contemplating switching some of my domains over to Google for email -- Dreamhost makes it easy to set that up. Maybe not.

Yeah, almost all of my websites are third-party-hosted now. But the hosts are nothing but a mirror for the various internal working directories. And they're going to stay that way. If I can figure out how to do that with some Google's services, I may consider using a few of them.

mdlbear: (hacker traveling)

In about three hours I'll be on a plane waiting to take off for Portland, to attend OSCon. From there I'll be going to Seattle on Friday and meeting the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat in the airport for a weekend at the Big Green Monster. My luggage is piled by the door, with my little plush Cthulhu situated where he can greet anyone who opens my suitcase with appropriately unspeakable plushie horror.

My itinerary is under the cut tag )

Normally I would be calm and happy, but with the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat in the hospital I'm stressed and grumpy. Knowing that Colleen is safe at home, it turns out, has a big effect on my mood when I'm traveling. I'm going to miss that -- as well as her -- terribly. (09:44 The Cat's getting sprung this morning!!!! So that's a huge load off my mind. Happy Bear!

Keep in touch! My LJ username at gmail.com works, as does the email address in my profile -- I'll have good net access at the con, and expect to be blogging most of my trip report.

Almost forgot -- Kat's new version of the Tres-Gique.com website is live. Still have to move it to my hosting service at DreamHost, and it could stand some tweaking, but it's up.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

There are three projects needing work at the moment: the wheelchair ramp, which is high priority but very short term, my next CD, which is medium priority but longer-term, and the ongoing website reorganization. Guess which one is on my mind right now.

My song directory has gotten unwieldy, to say the least. With over 100 songs in it, both mine and other people's, and with HTML, Postscript, PDF, and two kinds of audio files, there are well over 500 files in there. Linux has no problem with this, nor do the Perl scripts I use to generate index files, but I do -- the directory listing is huge.

In addition, there are more things I'd like to do, for example have multiple versions of some songs, discographies, illustrations, more extensive notes, separate performance notes, transposed versions for performers, sheet music, ... You get the idea.

The obvious thing is to make a directory for each song. This worked well for keeping multiple tracks straight during my recent recording projects, and has the additional desirable side effect of making the songs' URLs shorter. There are, of course, zillions of links out there with the old URLs in them, but that's what redirects are for.

Since everything right now is driven by the lyrics files, which are in a local dialect of LaTeX, I'm going to move those to a Lyrics directory. I'll also put the Postscript files there, because it's very convenient for printing.

Everything else will go into Songs, in a subdirectory whose name is the song's shortname. The only real question at this point is whether the filenames in each song directory should be generic (e.g., lyrics.html, lyrics.pdf) or specific (songname.html, songname.pdf). The former makes more sense if I want to have multiple performances present, and will probably simplify scripts and Makefiles down the road.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled LJ soap opera.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

This post is an attempt to get my thoughts in order about how the household web space is evolving. Mostly cut-tagged, because it's mainly of interest only to household members working on websites (waves at [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf) and to that subset of my readers who are working on websites and/or have a home fileserver.

How things used to work ) How things work now ) How things need to work )

I still have to work out how web-based collaboration will happen; that will be of interest to members of Tres Gique, as well as anyone else thinking of collaborating with me on a website, CD, cookbook, or any other project. Clearly, simple uploading isn't enough at that point. More on that further upwhen.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Stayed home from work yesterday because we had our annual termite inspection scheduled for sometime in the 11am-1pm, and because it seemed as though there was some serious puttering catching up to do. Good call -- it turned out to be a pretty productive day.

Spent much of the day working on uploading the Tres Gique Concert from Baycon. This was a lot more work than I expected; since the last time I did it, I've made major changes in both the organization of the various websites, and the way uploading is done. (I'll get into that sometime upwhen.)

Squeezed in a trip to Fry's with [livejournal.com profile] selkit to investigate trading in the Fujitsu laptop that he bought back in March, and which has been giving him considerable trouble. That will work; we'll go in again today sometime with laptop and paperwork in hand.

Took a walk (Rose Garden) between the Fry's trip and dinner; cool and pleasant.

There were two background tasks: ripping CDs and uploading. At some point this week, the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat decided that we really needed to not only get the entire CD collection ripped to disk, but correctly organized; she's started listening to the entire collection, starting with the A's, and handing them off to me for ripping. I got a package of little sticky dots a couple of weeks ago and have been putting them on the jewelcase spine to mark the ones that have been ripped. We're somewhere in the middle of Joan Baez (filed under B) now, plus a bunch ripped from before. (Last week she listened through, and I ripped, all of the piles of unsorted CDs in the living room.) There are 281 CDs ripped at this point.

The other background task is uploading. I believe I mentioned that I have less upstream bandwidth than a carrier pigeon, but I have rsync and nobody needs much bandwidth late at night.

I also finally got the KDE desktop installed on Colleen's EeePC. She'd been finding the dumbed-down desktop extremely limiting. I did the one I was borrowing from work first; using the manual method in the instructions on the wiki. Then I discovered that Asus has taken KDE out of the repository for the 900! !@#$% Idiots!!!@#$ But I found a review article that said that the "easy way" (installing via a Debian package from an alternate repository) worked, and indeed it did. Still have to get mail working for her, which will involve making sure IMAP works on the server and that she has spamassassin properly set up.

Also spent some time just talking and snuggling with Colleen. Somehow sitting in separate chairs with separate laptops didn't seem sufficient, and we discovered last night that a drive wasn't really sufficient either. The living-room couch, which I made years ago, isn't really comfortable and in any case is covered with stuff, so we ended up on our bed, fully-clothed but with the door closed. (Not that the closed door stopped the Younger Daughter from coming in for hugs.) Have to do that more often. (Content also upwhen, under the River filter.)

Sometime in the evening I also pulled out one of the 400GB SATA drives, stuck it in a USB enclosure, and started formatting it with low-level checking. It's about half done now. The plan is to use it for data transfer between home and work, where I have a lot more upload bandwidth.

mdlbear: (audacity)

The Tres Gique concert from last Friday at Baycon can be found, in a rather unsatisfactory and preliminary form, here. It has ogg and mp3 files, but essentially nothing else. More this evening after I've had a few more hours to jump up and down on it.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

The title comes from "Gin, Television, and Social Surplus" by Clay Shirky. Somebody asked him "where do people find the time?" to create something like Wikipedia. Wikipedia -- the whole thing, articles and edits and talk pages and translations -- represents some 100 million hours of human thought. TV watching, in the US alone, amounts to some 200 billion hours every year. That's 2,000 Wikipedia projects every year.

Shirky points out that, in the years spanned by the Industrial Revolution, "The transformation from rural to urban life was so sudden, and so wrenching, that the only thing society could do to manage was to drink itself into a stupor for a generation." Gin, and more gin. "And it wasn't until society woke up from that collective bender that we actually started to get the institutional structures that we associate with the industrial revolution today."

The equivalent, in the latter half of the 20th Century, was television. Society is only now waking up from that collective bender. What are you doing with your free time?

I'm not watching TV much these days. Nor movies. Nor listening to radio, even during my commute. Nor even reading books and magazines. I am still drugging myself -- I'm a product of my generation, not yet completely adapted to life in the 21st Century -- but my drug of choice these days is mostly LJ. A decade ago it was Usenet. At least my current drugs are interactive.

Sometimes, my current drugs create things that last. Some of my LJ content finds its way onto my website; my songs and essays are already there. I'm working on it. I came out with a CD over the course of two or three years in, basically, the time I saved by not watching TV. I ought to try not reading LJ so much.

(First brought to my attention in this post by [livejournal.com profile] catsittingstill; recently seen on techdirt as well.)

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
Blogging and Newspapers, a Lesson in How Not to Brand and Market - Blog Maverick
Never, ever, ever consider something that any literate human being with Internet access can create in under 5 minutes to be a product or service that can in any way differentiate your business.
(from Don Marti)

The actual post is about why newspapers shouldn't have blogs, but it applies even more to things like web services. If somebody can duplicate your service on their own website in a couple of minutes (for example, by installing an open-source package), what makes you think you can make money selling it?

Yes, I know that I'm posting this on LJ. Ad-supported websites are another matter, but they're still vulnerable: a suddenly-popular open-source package could still make a deep hole in their user base.
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Got up at some ungodly hour with a brain that wouldn't shut up about my financial problems -- I'll get to that somewhere downwhen. Spent a moderately productive morning troubleshooting the subdomains of savitzky.net, finally resolved by moving my DNS hosting from GoDaddy to DreamHost (where the actual HTML resides). Subdomains for Kat and Colleen are up, but currently content-free. steve.savitzky.net is, of course, alive and well.

Spent some time last night setting up rsyncd on my fileserver and poking a tunnel through the firewall so I could upload from DH via a CGI script without requiring an ssh connection. That's essential if I want other people besides me to work on websites. The CGI remains to be written but should be straightforward.

Dreamhost's DNS control panel isn't as good as GoDaddy's: no AAAA records for one thing, and not as much control generally. Plus it's tied to their hosting, so it does clever things like make a web directory when you add a subdomain. And the main entry for the zone is always one of their servers, so I had to move savitzky.net off the DSL line and make an A record for dsl.savitzky.net. Darn. Needed doing anyway. It's just a lot less hassle when you can set up the web server configuration at the same time as the DNS; well worth it for a domain that really isn't going to be used for anything but web and eventually email.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)
Getting a static web site organized with git | LinuxWorld Community
Yes, I still end up maintaining some static web sites. I've started doing them under git revision control, just to be safe, and because "git push origin" is just as easy as rsync anyway. Here's a rough cut at a system for keeping these things organized.
Not as directly useful to me as it would be if I wasn't already syncing my entire web-related directory tree up to a large external hosting site for backup.
mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

Spent some time last night finally re-arranging the recording directory: it now looks like yyyy/mm-event/ where "event" is either a convention, a day or day range, or something like that. If I'm going to be recording practice sessions I should get in the habit of using day ranges -- and perhaps make each month a subdirectory -- for conventions just so things will be chronological.

scripting geekery )

Naturally, having done this, I had to test it, so when I came out to the living room to do some practicing I set the H2 on the music stand and recorded it. Very rough, and I haven't even listened to it let alone tried to do a normalize-and-split. But I will, because I want to have it done by Thursday. It was all stuff that I need for the album. Added a little more this morning.

I also need to get this onto the web, as the start of the collaboration area. In particular, this session has "The Toolmakers" and "The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of" in their correct keys.

web geekery )

I'm going to be a busy bear this week.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Excellent post by [livejournal.com profile] don_marti on becoming more productive by going offline. Git (distributed version control, basically syncing on steroids), ikiwiki (offline-rendered wiki), blosxom (offline-rendered blog), and more. It's related to a lot of what I've been saying about keeping control of your own data. In essence, what you want to do is to separate writing from publishing.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

This afternoon I had the opportunity to sit in on a technical presentation by Peter Thoeny of TWiki.net. Their product is an enterprise (i.e. supported) version of TWiki, a flat-file-based, structured wiki. Had some interesting conversations afterward.

TWiki is a good match for a lot of what I'm looking for in a collaboration environment: flat files, efficient, highly configurable, written in Perl... The support for forms and page templates is surperb. The latest version has a WYSIWYG editor, too, based on TinyMCE. On the other hand it doesn't match my existing directory structure or preferred version control system (it uses its own, based on RCS -- for excellent reasons, I might add, but RCS is lousy at handling large binary files, and I have lots of 'em). Ikiwiki's a better match for those, but has far fewer plugins and isn't so good at templating. Neither can handle publishing to multiple blog sites or compiling a frozen version onto CD or paper.

So I'm definitely going to deploy it internally -- it's a good enough database replacement to work for my minimal business bookkeeping and contact-management needs. It will make a good household phonebook, calendar, and message center, too. The page templates make it a shoe-in for the cookbook project, except that the WYSIWYG editor isn't in Debian or Ubuntu yet.

Meanwhile, I'll continue to evolve my own system aimed at mixed electronic and hard-copy media, multi-site publishing (including multi-platform blogging), and collaborative recording projects. While using it on my next album. Right. That one might very well start with Ikiwiki as it's web front-end.

Scrobbled!

Jan. 17th, 2008 08:26 am
mdlbear: (ccs-cover)

Thanks to a post by [livejournal.com profile] singingpatient, I now know that I have a page on last.fm. Who knew? It has 30-second clips, so I'm guessing it came from iTunes or something else that CD-Baby put into digital distribution. Anyone out there using last.fm? Tips? Advice?

Any suggestions about Facebook or Myspace? (The subject of social websites has come up at work, too. More about that later, perhaps.)

Security?

Jan. 16th, 2008 03:42 pm
mdlbear: (distress)
Techdirt: TSA Staffer Hires Buddies To Build Insecure Website For Folks Falsely On Watch List
We've had so many stories of government computer systems or websites that have terrible security or are just useless (but expensive!) that it shouldn't surprise us to hear of another one. Yet, there's always someone who can go a step further. Witness the news that the TSA's website for individuals who find themselves incorrectly on the security watchlist has been found to be insecure, with hundreds of falsely accused travelers exposing personal details by using the site. Even better, it turns out that the company that was hired to build the site got the job in a no-bid contract (meaning there wasn't any competition -- it was just chosen) and the guy responsible for figuring out who to hire just so happened to have been a former employee at that company. So, basically, what happened was that a guy who had taken a job at the TSA hired his former coworkers, with no competition for the job and apparently little oversight, to just build a website that turned out to be insecure. And, of course, without any oversight, it took months before anyone even noticed the site was insecure. And, remember, that this is the TSA we're talking about here -- an organization who's main concern is supposed to be security. I feel safer already.
Why am I not surprised by this? The original article is on InformationWeek.

Do you feel safer?

So far...

Jan. 15th, 2008 10:15 am
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Nova was down again when I got up this morning; I took it as an excuse to disconnect the SATA drives (which I should have done yesterday, but it was getting late). If that fixes it, it's probably a controller issue. If not, it's probably memory. Worst case, I can replace it with Harmony (my current workstation), which has been absolutely solid since I bought it. In fact, that MB/CPU used to be in Nova. Would use more power, but a faster CPU would help for printing and some file operations.

Spent some good time this morning talking with the [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf about upcoming web projects and setting her up with an Ubuntu box. We'll use her old HP Windows box with the new 320GB IDE drive that I originally intended for a USB drive.

Making it

Jan. 8th, 2008 11:01 pm
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

"If you want something to get done, ask a busy person to do it."

I haven't been accomplishing much lately, so obviously I'm not busy enough.

There are several seemingly-unrelated projects going on in the household at the moment: I'm starting my next album, the [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf is starting an HTML class, the servers are getting re-organized, and people have been after the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat to write a cookbook. Meanwhile I've been thinking about writing my blog locally and mirroring it up to LJ.

They're all more closely related than one might think.

You see, I'm a geek. I think nothing of writing a big pile of Makefile templates and Perl scripts to cobble an album, a songbook, and multiple websites together from the same set of sources. The Cat is emphatically not a geek, she wants to be able to type recipes in, maybe to a text editor or a blog client, and have them magically assembled into a cookbook. And a website, of course. Hmmm.

some geeky details )

... So that's the plan: to refactor my CD, concert, and web tools so that they work for assembling books and blogs as well, publish to hardcopy as well as on multiple websites, and do it in a way that's extensible (with plug-ins), collaborative, and simple enough to be used by non-geeks.

I'm probably going to need a lot of help with that last part.

mdlbear: (netscape)

It seems that somebody at AOL has finally noticed that Netscape is dead; they're pulling the plug in February. BoingBoing asks for memories, and points to the BBC's article.

I remember switching from Chimera to Netscape; I'd started using Chimera (the first one, not the one on the Mac) because it was lean and fast and took its style parameters from the X defaults like a well-behaved Xtk app ought to. Before that there was Mosaic, the ancestor of both Netscape and IE; it killed off a lot of innovative browsers in the early days of the web, and Netscape finished the job. I don't miss it much.

mdlbear: (spoiler)

From this post by [livejournal.com profile] technoshaman comes a link to a New Yorker article titled "Twilight of the Books" that asks "What will life be like if people stop reading?"

Like [livejournal.com profile] technoshaman and unlike Caleb Crain, the article's author, I'm rather more optimistic. I think that, with the rise of the web, we're well on our way out of the decline of literacy caused by television. Of course Crain's measure of literacy, reading "a work of creative literature", may well continue to decline. I know I don't read nearly as many novels as I once did. But I think nothing of devouring a 100-page legal document over on Groklaw -- it doesn't look nearly that big when it's all in one big, scrollable, HTML page. And my kids happily spend their bookstore gift cards on rollplaying game books. And read them.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

I spent much of last night and this morning cleaning up my directory tree, mostly building the working directories for the new albums and fixing up the build scripts to make them more generic. And the whole tree is mirrored up to dreamhost for offsite backups. So it probably shouldn't have been surprising that I was able to replace the tree for steve.savitzky.net, formerly ganked with rsync from thestarport.com/Steve_Savitzky/, with a simple symlink into the archive tree.

Dumb bear. How long did it take me to figure that out?

Eventually they'll want to diverge -- I have a lot more space on dreamhost than I do at rahul.net, so I can keep all my tracks up there for collaboration, but all I'll have to do on the dreamhost side is move a symlink.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
Freedom to Tinker » Blog Archive » Lessons from Facebook’s Beacon Misstep
Facebook recently beat a humiliating retreat from Beacon, its new system for peer-based advertising, in the face of users’ outrage about the system’s privacy implications. (When you bought or browsed products on certain third-party sites, Beacon would show your Facebook friends what you had done.)

Beacon was a clever use of technology and might have brought Facebook significant ad revenue, but it seemed a pretty obvious nonstarter from users’ point of view. Trying to deploy it, especially without a strong opt-out capability, was a mistake. On the theory that mistakes are often instructive, let’s take a few minutes to work through possible lessons from the Beacon incident.

To start, note that this wasn’t a privacy accident, where user data is leaked because of a bug, procedural breakdown, or treacherous employee. Facebook knew exactly what it was doing, and thought it was making a good business decision. Facebook obviously didn’t foresee their users’ response to Beacon.
Techdirt offers some additional analysis in an article titled Learning Good Privacy Rules Requires Experimentation.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Not my most productive day ever, I'm afraid, but I've gotten a few things done. Mainly, I've updated my personal business cards and my album mini-fliers, which were last printed before CC&S came out and so had the pre-order URL on them.

I took the opportunity to start copying things over to steve.savitzky.net, which will eventually become my main site, over on dreamhost.com. At the moment it's just a mirror of theStarport.com/Steve_Savitzky/, and there are a number of broken links. It's mostly useable, though. Hopefully I can get it totally up-to-date and functional by OVFF.

I also wasted some time partially disassembling the old panel PC I rescued from the discard pile at work. The plan was to see whether it could be silenced by replacing its noisy fans; the answer is a definite maybe. I couldn't get it apart far enough to replace the power supply fan, but I figured out how to disconnect it. Maybe I can add a large enough case fan to compensate for its absence. The CPU fan might be replaceable, but it might be better just to replace the heatsink with a fanless one.

Time for a bath, and then to bed.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)
Plain Old Webserver
Plain Old Webserver (POW) is a fully-functional open source (GPL) webserver that works inside your browser. It uses Server Side Javascript (SJS) to deliver dynamic content.
(It also runs stand-alone on XULRunner, which is how I ran across it.)

This basically lets you take a dynamic website and run it offline. It's a lot like Google Gears, except that instead of being just an API meant to make it easy to take a web application temporarily offline, it's actually a full-bore web server. There are some intriguing possibilities.
mdlbear: (kill bill)
Five Reasons Google Docs Beats Office Live Workspace - Software - IT Channel News by CRN and VARBusiness
Just like all things related to Microsoft's Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) strategy, Office Live Workspace is a patched together, too little, too late offering compared to Google Docs. Question for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer: when will Microsoft deliver a SaaS offering that the channel can take advantage of that beats Google hands down?
mdlbear: (flamethrower)
Free Speech Hosting: 11 Web Hosts That Won’t Dump You at the First Sign of Controversy | Dedicated Hosting Guide
The Internet, once the last bastion of truly free speech, is slowly being overrun by lawyers and government officials the world over. Certainly, there are criminals who need to be apprehended for their online exploits, but those of us who are merely exercising our first amendment right should feel protected. Sadly, many mainstream Web hosts will drop your site as soon as you attract the smallest amount of opposition. They are, after all, intimidated by the threat of losing money in a lawsuit. Luckily, there are still a few brave Web hosting companies that cherish free speech and that will stand behind your site. Below, we have listed 11 hosts that won’t dump you at the first sign of controversy.
(From the EFF.)

Not for everybody -- they tend to run a little on the expensive side compared to others I've seen. But if you're controversial...
mdlbear: (fandom)

I've already mentioned the concesrt, which I think (after listening to the recording this morning) nwent fairly well -- only two or three major flubs. Moving on to the panels.

I misremembered on Saturday -- I only had three panels. They originally had me down for moderating all of them, but I insisted on no more than one per day. Next tine I'll also remember to make sure I don't have anything that starts after 4pm. It's hard enough squeezing in dinner.

Saturday's panels were, in order, "Open Source" [unremarkable], "Are You Secure?" [which I moderated -- tips on securing your PC; also unremarkable], and "Blogging" [Yeah, I do that. The latest LJ kerfuffle got a mention].

The really fun one was yesterday's panel on DRM [which I moderated]. I also proved to be the panel's resident expert on DRM technology, which I guess isn't too surprising considering what I've been working on recently. [No, not DRM, but secure docunent transmission.] The discussion quickly shifted into the economics of free media distribution, since everybody in the room agreed that the proponents of DRM are fighting a rearguard action against the inevitable. Some interesting input from Scott Sigler, a panelist who's making a living off Creative Commons licensed books, and AJA in the audience.

The most interesting thing to me was the fact that many people who download free copies of a book or song go on to order everything by that artist/author. Shouldn't have been surprising -- I've done it myself. AJA is now thinking about selling boxed sets of Heather Alexander's CDs. I think my idea about selling unmixed Audacity projects as "super singles" interested him as well. That one panel was worth the whole con for me.

The other panel yesterday was the one on History of Filk. Unremarkable, and rather thinly attended.

I wasn't on any panels today, but enjoyed the one on songwriting. And I've been enjoying the concerts, of course. Kat and Kendra's was particularly impressive -- these are kids I've known since they were little; they've become young women with excellent voices. I'm looking forward to hearing more from them.

I missed the final concert yesterday, and will probably miss the last one tonight -- I have to take the Y.D. home at 10:30 so I can get her out of bed in time for summer school. Grumf. And then there's that little matter of our new garbage collection service, which requires us to have the bins out on the curb by 6am in the goddamn morning on Monday! What corrupt political appointee had that brilliant idea?

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

This blog post was written after an inquiry about Amazon's EC2 and S3 services, but it applies much more generally to anyone trying to run a business and depending on an outside service provider. LJ comes to mind, for example. Amazon's terms and conditions include the following disturbing paragraph, which I suspect is not at all unusual in such places:

We further reserve the right to discontinue Amazon Web Services, any Services, or any portion or feature thereof for any reason and at any time in our sole discretion. Upon any termination or notice of any discontinuance, you must immediately stop your use of the applicable Service(s), and delete all Amazon Properties in your possession or control (including from your Application and your servers). Sections 3, 5, 8 - 12, any definitions that are necessary to give effect to the foregoing provisions, and any payment obligations will survive any termination of this Agreement and will continue to bind you and us in accordance with their terms.

In other words, we can pull the plug on you at any time, on no notice at all, but you still have to pay us if you owe us any money.

Think about your web hosting service, your ISP, your online banking, web email provider, your web storefront provider, your blogging service (gestures toward SixApart),... Which of them have real SLA's (that's Service Level Agreements for us Luddites) and which have terms like Amazon's?

Now: which of them is your business depending on, and what are your disaster plans if they suddenly go belly-up, get taken out by the local flavor of natural disaster, or simply get distracted by the next shiny bubble-of-the-year and decide they don't want to play anymore?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to do some serious planning.

mdlbear: (flamethrower)

This article by Don Marti includes a useful list of tools for working offline -- without a net connection.

It's not just for working on airplanes -- we've all been in hotels with flaky or expensive connections. And it ties right in to what I've been saying about owning your own content.

mdlbear: (abt)

So 6A finally apologizes for their screw-up, and I've been seeing "get both sides... it's only 500 out of X million... tempest in a teapot..." all over my flist. That's not the point, folks!

The real lesson from this is that a service provider's loyalty is not to their users or their customers, but to their shareholders.

You don't count. Period. They don't have to listen to you, they don't have to please you, and they can screw you over any time they want. They can even change their business model and drop all your data down the memory hole. You want a service that does have your interests at heart? Do it yourself, or join a partnership, co-op, or closely-held corporation. And keep backups anyway.

LJ is a useful tool, but it's just like your computer, your car, or your dishwasher. It's going to break, dribble bits all over the floor, and leave you cursing as you mop up and try to find a replacement.

mdlbear: (flamethrower)

In previous post I described the recent unpleasantness and suggested that I had the beginnings of an answer. This article gives a little more information, and notes that many are jumping ship to LJ clones like JournalFen and GreatestJournal. But I don't think that's the answer.

As I said before, we need to take back our content.

There are some details I haven't worked out -- I'd like to have a simple, complete out-of-the-box package, but all I have are pieces. Here are the basics, though, and a few tools to get you started:

You need a place on the web where you can host static web pages, preferably in a domain that you own and without anyone else's advertising. But your ISP will do to get started. You do not need to be able to run scripts or a database. If you have a DSL or cable connection you could even host it at home -- I think that's where we're heading, but we're not there yet.

You do that, if you want to, on your computer at home. A program like Blosxom or ikiwiki will let you format and organize your own web pages offline, and construct the RSS and HTML summary pages you need to make a proper blog. I'm working on a more geekish solution based on the Unix utility make. You don't really need either. Just make a subdirectory of your main web page called "blog", and make entries with paths like "/blog/2007/0530/2150.html" or maybe ".../2150/title.html".

In other words, every entry is either a web page or a directory (which lets you put any images the page uses together with the text). Now all you have to do is run a little script to generate the RSS and HTML summaries and upload any new pages to your public website using a program like rsync or a web-based version-control system like Subversion or git.

Now, here's the part that will require a little more hacking on my part: there needs to be a script that parses the page for tags, builds the tag indices, and cross-posts to LJ or some other blogging site -- or sites -- based on the tags. That way, you can use LJ as your comment aggregator. The other missing piece is the little script that screen-scrapes LJ's email comment notifications and puts them back into your working directory. (You could run your own comment CGI script, but it seems like a lot of hassle. I stole this idea from [livejournal.com profile] ohiblather, by the way -- she has multiple blogs elsewhere on the web, and posts pointers to them in her LJ, which is also where she directs most of the comments.)

That takes care of the mechanics of blogging. I like the way Blosxom and ikiwiki let you integrate blogs and comments seamlessly into a website that might have much more in it. There's no reason, for example, why you can't allow comments on every page, or make a "changeblog" out of your version-control changelog entries to point your readers to new or revised pages.

The next thing you need is a "friends" page. Probably the easiest thing to use for that is Planet, a simple feed aggregator that generates a web page. Check out their list of planet-powered sites. But you don't have to publish your friends page at all if you don't want to; you can keep it on your own computer at home. And you'd better not if it has private or friends-locked posts on it, like you might acquire by reading your LJ friends page.

The thing I really don't have a good handle on is the community-building aspect of LJ. The rest of the blogosphere does this using things like trackbacks, pings, and blogrolls. I suspect that the FOAF project may be a large part of the answer: you put a machine-readable profile on your home page, and let FOAF-aware search engines do the rest.

What I'm really advocating is a move away from centralized services controlled by faceless corporations, back to a world where everyone (oops! ETA: runs their own node in the peer-to-peer network that is the Internet. Remember that TCP/IP is a peer-to-peer protocol -- which machine is the client and which the server depends entirely on what they're doing at any given moment.)

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