Music for a Mood Change

31 01 2008

There are times when I get down, or quiet, or just generally “off”. I can almost always turn these moods around with a solid shot of loud intense music. Today it’s delivered while sitting at Panera and working on some server changes.
The track I’m listening to? “Spocks Beard“, doing “I Am The Doorway”. Never heard of ’em? Think a modern day Yes (in fact the bass player sounds almost identical to Chris Squire).
So what’s your “Go away world, I want to be in my head for a while” music?

The Photographers Rights

24 01 2008

P2250049.JPGI found this handy PDF while surfing around last night. It describes the rights a photographer has to take pictures out in the Real World. All too commonly, even the police don’t know the law.
In short, in most cases, “If you can see it, you can photograph it”. This rapidly approaches 100% if you are on public land. It is perfectly legal to take pictures of private land FROM public land. Under no circumstances is it legal for a private entity to demand your equipment or film.
If you take pictures out on the streets, print that PDF and keep it with you.

Things I Learned about CONGO at Arisia

23 01 2008

This year’s Arisia, as previously noted, was special in that while I wasn’t actively running registration, I was functioning as technical support and consultant for the process. There were a number of organizational, technical, and logistical challenges that came up, and I learned some interesting things.

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Wanted: Real Bluetooth Audio Management

21 01 2008

Okay folks, I’m looking for help here.

I’m looking for the Right Bluetooth Setup. It consists of two setups:

  • Bluetooth Headphones
    I had a set of Blueant X5 headphones for a while, trying to get them working with my Treo 650. While that experiment failed, it set the tone for what I was trying to do. So, first, I need a good set of BT headphones + unobtrusive mic. Stereo headphones with A2DP support to talk to whatever streaming device I have. Which brings me to:

  • Bluetooth source devices
    I’d like the headphones to be able to take multiple BT sources. For instance, allow me to listen to music streaming from my iPod, but interrupt the music stream to answer my cell phone call, listen to that, then go back to streaming from the ipod. If that’s not possible, I’ve come up with a sort of hybrid arrangement, that has a number of very strong advantages…

  • Bluetooth HFP for Laptops
    If I can’t necessarily switch between Bluetooth feeds, why can’t I have my laptop act as a ‘Bluetooth Audio Manager’? Install a bluetooth HFP profile into the bluetooth stack on the laptop, so the mic and headphones I attach to the laptop become my wireless headphones for my cell phone. Now, before you laugh too hard about this, think. When I’m sitting in Starbucks working away, listening to Radio Paradise via my laptop, what happens when my cell phone rings? A lot of times, I miss the call – even with vibrate. But if I do get a call, I have to take off my headphones, answer the phone, and try to be heard over the general clatter of the coffeehouse. Why not have the laptop pop up a “A call is coming in”, and then I tap [Answer], and the mic in my headset (or on the laptop) goes active, my audiostream switches to the phone call, and the music pauses. I can have my conversation, then ‘hang up’, and RadioParadise returns.

I’ve STFW’ed for this, and apparently there is no HFP profile for Windows or for Linux. I’m sorely tempted to finally break down and buy a Nokia N810, which has quite capable bluetooth support, and see about rigging up an HFP profile for it. Listening to music from the Nokia, and having it switch over to handle my phone calls, then switch back at the end of the call, would be just about perfect. In that case, I wouldn’t need the wireless headphones at all, the N810 would act as my ‘communications client’ to my audio devices.

Any suggestions? I just gotta geek more!

This morning I slept late

19 01 2008

Now, why is this remarkable?
Because I am at Arisia, and for the last 6 years or so, I’ve been running (or helping to run) registration. This means getting up very early Saturday morning to set up and run CONGO for the days registrations.
This year I’m not running reg. Oh, they’re still using CONGO, but a few weeks of tunning, fiddling, and refining, and the system is now startable by mere mortals. I was still ‘awake’ at 8:45 (registration opened at 9), and I was waiting for the phone to ring with a problem… but it didn’t ring. All went well, and I happily slept in until around 9:30.
In some ways, it’s awfully nice. In others, I’m sort of mystified. What am I supposed to do with my time now?

Dear FOSS Developers

14 01 2008

I’m speaking specifically to FOSS developers who are involved GUI / Human Interface type development and design.
There’s apparently a percentage of ya’ll who seem to think that the proper way to execute a program represented by an icon is to just click on it.
I have one thing to say to that. Or. Several things. With the same message…
Every once in a while someone seems to think that it’s proper to make it so if you click on, say, a Firefox icon, it means ‘Start Firefox RIGHT NOW’. This is ridiculously, painfully WRONG. A desktop contains objects. If you touch something, it doesn’t mean “EXECUTE THIS RIGHT NOW, NO MATTER WHAT IT IS”.
Imagine if this were taken on in the real world. Your car would start whenever you touched your keyring. If you touched the handle on your sink faucet, water would come gushing out immediately.
This pattern has been cropping up in KDE on occasion, though I’m assured it will not be the case in KDE4. Gnome is rife with it. And Puppy Linux, an OS that can run via LiveCD, will happily start up a 60meg program (Firefox) if you happen to touch the Firefox icon on the desktop. Just touch it. A process that can take 4-5 minutes in LiveCD mode.
So, in conclusion. No. For the love of all that is sane, do not do perpetuate this bad design.
Warm regards, me.

Snowy Porch

14 01 2008


Originally uploaded by eidolon

A quick pic before I go out and assault the walkway and the driveway. We’re in the middle of a January snowstorm here, and stuff is piling up outside. There’s been various forecasts of anything from 6″ to 14″. It keeps fluctuating. We’re at about 6″ now, and it’s still coming down.