You might be a Geek Fogie if…

30 12 2007

With a nod to Jeff Foxworthy, I hereby present a couple ideas on how to tell if you might be an old-fart geek fogie…

  • If everytime you hit CTRL-ALT-DELETE, you expect to see Sidekick pop up for a second.
  • If you ever owned a a paper punch specifically for double-siding your floppy disks.
  • If you remember your amazement at copying a diskette using ONLY four disk swaps.
  • If you find yourself thinking that a Telebit Trailblazer would really speed up your internet use.
  • If you ever rented a truck to get a computer that someone was ‘just giving away’.
  • If you have to fight the urge to make FWEEEEE SCHHRRKKKRRRK noises whenever you hear an ATM or a Fax machine in use.
  • If you have ever uttered the phrase “Yeah, but the Newton was better.”
  • If you refuse to throw out disks for machines that haven’t been manufactured in over two decades.
  • If you know what ^X^Cc means.
  • If you remember the first time you bought a color monitor. Double points if you’re still paying for it. Special bonus points if you still have it.
  • If you find yourself in the middle of a problem, and being tempted to type ‘S..TILTOWAIT’
  • If you have ever personally owned an entire DEC documentation set, and thought it was the coolest thing in the world.
  • If you remember getting your first hard drive, and amazing your friends with comments like “This thing can hold as much data as FIFTY floppy disks!”
  • If you remember when disks WERE floppy.

Feel free to contribute any additions you might think of…

Rockin in the Workshop

29 12 2007

So there’s this house we’re calling Interlude. It’s a rental, we’re living in it since we sold Homeport and is our home until Mosaic is ready for us, sometime late next year.
It has a usable basement, with a high ceiling and dry floors. Not particularly warm in the winter, but usable.
I’ve moved my workbench, my tool chest, all my tools and parts and other debris into a nice little work area, and have been slowly working on various projects (such as the Mame cabinet – see that post for a picture of my workshop space).
But something was missing.
Broken RokuThis past weekend, I finally gathered together all the pieces of the Roku Soundbridge M500 I won from Radio Paradise two and a half years ago. Not long after I got the Roku, it broke in a funky way – part of the LCD display went blank. I contacted Roku about getting it repaired, they said to send it in and they’d look at it, but I never got around to doing so. Ah well.
This past weekend I powered it up again, just to see if I could get it useable in the workshop. Oddly, it came up fine, even connected to our wireless network. With 3″ of the left side of the LCD out of action, I had a hard time navigating the menus until I found the ‘brightness’ function, cranked all the way up, gave a sort of ‘shadow’ on the LCD where the text was. A few updates later, and I was up and running with RadioParadise, listening through the old stereo I had installed a while back.
I really wish these devices (that stream audio either via wireless or network) were less expensive or easy to put together by hand. I could totally see having a bunch of these for Mosaic for public spaces around the community. “I’ll be out in the workshop, I’ll run up RP there.”


27 12 2007


Originally uploaded by eidolon

Today Zach and I spent all day at Wachusett Mountain near Princeton, MA. It was his first time back on skis after a 3 year hiatus. He did great, and a lesson early in the afternoon just made it all the better.

The weather was ‘wet’ – sort of between sleet and light snow all day.

Me? Did great. I love my new skis. Now, I fall over.

Dimmable Compact Flourescent (CF) bulb test

24 12 2007

IMG_2467.JPGThis past weekend I decided to take the plunge and replace the bulbs in our recessed lighting in the kitchen with dimmable CF bulbs. We had been using these huge honkin 150watt floodlamps, which were great for getting a tan, but didn’t handle the constant vibration of folks walking around upstairs very well, not to mention chewing up gobs of power when running.
I hadn’t actually seen dimmable CF bulbs in action, so I was curious how well they’d work. Flourescent lights can’t take the same electrical route that dimmable incandescents can (if you lower the voltage in a flourescent light, the ballast that regulates the power into the bulb can’t pass enough power to make the bulb actually light up.
I saw the dimmable bulbs in our of our regular visits to Target, and picked up a handful.
Our lightswitch has one of those little sliding tabs next to the switch that lets you adjust the brightness. I installed all the bulbs, flicked the switch on, and lo!
But would it dim?
The answer is… “Sorta”. The dimmer switch does in fact lower the light level coming from the bulbs, but not in the range the older bulbs could do. I’d say we can get a 25% reduction in light output from the bulbs before they go out.
All in all, this is just fine. We can’t have that sort of glowing nice ‘1/3rd’ light mode that is handy post-dinner (we can sort of do that by turning out most of the ceiling lights and just going with one lamp over the stove), but the dimmer is handy for taking the lights from “bright enough to do real kitchen work” down to “comfortable to live in day to day”.
So why is this relevant? Well, aside from the bit that the 5 bulbs now in the ceiling use as much power as only one of the old bulbs did, apparently the new energy bill that just came through congress is mandating that all incandescent bulbs be off the market by 2012. (If that link fails you, see the article on Slashdot and the same on Engadget).
According to the article:

The new energy bill signed this week makes it official. When 2012 hits, stores can no longer sell the cheap but inefficient incandescent light bulbs that are fixtures in most homes.

Personally, I’ve already switched all our bulbs to CFL’s, and we have a lot of them (an off the cuff count puts it at about 30 for our 4br house). We’ve been here 2.5 years, and I was just trying to think of the last time I had to replace a CFL that had gone out. I think it was once, using a very old bulb we had brought from the old house, but I hadn’t until now replaced the ceiling lights in the kitchen yet.

Apple continues to lose my respect.

23 12 2007

Update 15:23pm.. – THIS BLOG ENTRY IS REFERRING TO A FAKE POST ON THE FAKE STEVE JOBS BLOG. I was duped, hook line and sinker. I’m annoyed at being deliberately mislead, but relieved that my rabid furniture-chewing has no real basis. I’ll leave the post here as an example of my own duplicity.
It’s been a hard fight for me.
I’m completely taken by Apple’s designs, platform, and technology. They’re the only company to take Unix seriously enough to put a front end on it that WORKS. Their hardware is sexy as all git out, and for the most part, works very well.
I have considered seriously going the Apple route more than once. Ditching this Linux thing and embracing Cupertino.
There’s always been this nagging, though. Apple is very lawyer-heavy. They tolerate no smack-talk from the little guy, and have a tendency to go all Corleone on anyone who even HINTS at revealing their deep dark secrets.
But now I think they’ve overstepped their bounds.
In the past, when Apple threatens a writer or publisher, the contents of the negotiations are kept secret. A site disappears, the negotiations are private, and we assume they reached some amicable settlement.
One fellow isn’t going quietly into the night. Daniel Lyons, the author of the “Fake Steve Jobs” blog, which has been a satirical poke at the head of Apple, is being attacked by a pack of rabid lawyers. While there may be a small bit that they disagree with, Daniel has gone the unusual route of publishing exactly what the lawyers are saying to him. The most recent exchange has said lawyers saying, in essence, “You should play nice with us. Here’s a list of your assets you own. Here’s where your family and your home are. Would be a shame if something were to, like, you know, happen to any of them….

And then, I swear to friggin God, there’s a list of my assets with an estimated value for each and I suppose the implied threat that I stand to lose them. Which kinda scares the living shit out of me, to be honest, since they’ve got a pretty thorough list, which means they’ve been doing some research on this and the offer didn’t just come out of thin air. Their lists includes my home address, most recent assessed value of my house and all the information about my mortgage; a rental property that we own; my bank accounts and investment accounts, including the college funds for our kids, whose names are used; and our boat and two cars.

This is disgusting. The Fake Steve Jobs site is satire. It’s amusing, entertaining, and does nothing to harm Apple. But Apple is coming down on Lyons like a pack of wild dogs, and no ethical, moral, or financial boundary will stop them from destroying Lyons.
This is not a company I can, with any real conscience, support.

Well, Dang.

22 12 2007

We just got mail saying that the XO Laptop for Zach won’t arrive until at least January 15th. On the one hand, I’m glad they let us know so I can stop frantically hitting <refresh> on Fedex’s website, but I’m sad because he won’t have it for his vacation.
I am consolidated knowing that our contribution is still helping the OLPC project, and somewhere in central or southern America, a child -will- get a laptop because of our contribution, but I still wish Zach had his for the winter break.
He’s happily spending time working with Scratch on his desktop machine anyway, so at least when the XO does get here, there’ll be an environment he’s already familiar with on it.


21 12 2007

Extrapolating from a conversation on IRC today…
I swear OkCupid is the place budding ‘web 2.0’ programmers go to see how badly they can screw up a busy site, and still stay in business.
They’ve gone through a dozen site ‘overhauls’ in the last few years, rewriting the entire thing into some new funky dynamic design that not only fails to implement features they had working in the old design, but also tends to breaks most browsers. Then they spend the next few months ‘fixing’ problems with the new site, until most folks have forgotten about the missing features…
Dear OkCupid. We know you’re a site that caters to up and coming jetset socialites and the like, but please… Stabilize your site, lock down a feature set, and stick with it. When you roll a new site? Make sure all the features still work? It’s really not that hard.