A bit of dark humor on the situation

29 09 2008

Because you have to have something to lighten the mood.

(Thanks to ThreePanelSoul)

House Defeats Bailout Bill – And now it begins

29 09 2008

As I’m sure folks know by now, the US House of Representatives has defeated the bailout bill.
What follows is my own personal opinion. Disclaimers are put forth – I am not an economist, a financial investor, or particularly savvy in us world markets. I have, however, spent a lot of time reading, listening to level-headed reporting and commentary.
I think we’re in deep doodoo.
My opinion is that the US lawmakers just took the side of localized petty politics, instead of doing what is right for the nation. And we’re not talking about this whole “main street vs wall street” BS that’s been bandied about. To me that’s a distraction away from the real issues.
Most people don’t understand how the larger financial markets work. They think ‘credit’ is a bank loan to buy a car. It isn’t. The global credit market is about the hundreds of billions of dollars that are exchanged every night in short term credit between banks and businesses. This is about a production plant in Wisconsin that normally needs $1,000,000 a day to operate. The night before, the bookmakers say “We’re short $100k. We need a loan”. They call up their broker, say “Gimme $1,000,000, I’ll pay you back on Thursday”. They get the loan, the plant functions another day, they bring in $1.1million on Thursday, and pay off the loan. Done.
That is how industrial and business credit works. It is the lifeblood of our economy.
If that loan can’t happen, that plant either operates at a loss, or they shut down for the day. That daily shutdown means instead of making $900,000 that day, they make zero.
Which is worse?
This credit cycle is what this bill is… er… was… designed to protect. It was to keep the markets alive and ease the credit tensions so the banks wouldn’t continue jacking up the interest rates on those short-term loans, thereby making it very difficult for a business to make money on a day to day basis. There’s already stress on this market, already ‘credit freezes’ going on. Businesses unable to get the short term loans necessary to function. Now it’ll just get worse.
Unfortunately, the politicians and the general US population doesn’t understand this. They just see fat cat Wall street folks getting zillion dollar paychecks, and other people getting foreclosed on houses. They vote down what might have been the only thing that could have kept the banks in business, and the credit flowing.
IMHO, we are now in serious danger of a depression. And frankly, I’m scared.
Thank you Washington. You may have killed us all.

Nobody Cares about your Build

25 09 2008

My pal Owen (who, incidentally, is doing some wonderful work on CONGO) has just written an excellent high level of of build system philosophy entitled Nobody Cares about your Build. If you’re a developer or release engineer, or are just plain curious about build systems, check it out – here’s a sample:

A reliable, comfortable build system has measurable benefits for software development. Being able to build a testable, deployable system at any point during development lets the team test more frequently. Frequent testing isolates bugs and integration problems earlier, reducing their impact. Simple, working builds allow new team members to ramp up more quickly on a project: once they understand how one piece of the system is constructed, they can apply that knowledge to the entire system and move on to doing useful work. If releases, the points where code is made available outside the development team, are done using the same build system that developers use in daily life, there will be fewer surprises during releases as the ‚Äúrelease‚Ä? build process will be well-understood from development.

Not what I wanted to see tonight

18 09 2008

I knew something looked fishy when I looked at this drive and only saw half the volume size I thought was there….

/dev/sdd             240365240 206665208  21490104  91% /media/usb3
dbs@yawl:~$ sudo umount /media/usb3
dbs@yawl:~$ sudo fsck /dev/sdd
fsck 1.40.8 (13-Mar-2008)
e2fsck 1.40.8 (13-Mar-2008)
The filesystem size (according to the superblock) is 61049646 blocks
The physical size of the device is 33554431 blocks
Either the superblock or the partition table is likely to be corrupt!

This is the 500gig external USB drive I’ve been carting around. In reality, there’s nothing particularly critical on it, some, er, backed up music files which I’m loathe to part with, but at least it’s not irreplaceable data.

Pandora-related Amusement.

17 09 2008

I’m really getting into Pandora lately. One of the channels I’ve set up is stuff I consider ‘Progressive’. I initially seeded it with Spocks Beard and Yes, and Pandora happily ran with it, adding in Alan Parsons, Styx, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, and Genesis.
It’s also added in groups I hadn’t ever heard of, such as Dream Theater, Marillion, and Flower Kings. Today I was bopping along listening, and a track came on that I really liked – turns out it was “Suite Charlotte Pike” by the band “Transatlantic”.
Huh, sez I. I like these guys. They remind me of Spocks beard and Dream Theater. Off I go to Wikipedia, and, right there at the top of the page about Transatlantic, I see:

Transatlantic was a progressive rock supergroup formed in 1999 by vocalist/keyboardist Neal Morse of Spock’s Beard and drummer Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater.

Guess I was on the right track.

iPhone mobility

13 09 2008

I type this sitting in the bay of my local super-quicky-lube place while happy drones in red swaarm around my vehicle. I’m torn between the image of a formula car driver making a pit stop (the minivan sort of clashes here) and some sort of starcraftian crossover – where one of the drones would suddenly stop in their tracks and go ‘Work complete!’
Regardless, I’m able to do all this insightful commentary due to the ‘internet? We got yer internet right here, buddy’ utility of my iPhone.
I love technology.

Pandora – Try It. Really.

9 09 2008

If you haven’t tried Pandora, you should. So far, it’s the only thing that has attracted me away from listening to Radio Paradise.

Here’s how it works.

You create a ‘radio station’ (basically a ‘channel’). In that, you hand it a few songs, or bands that you like – best if you choose a specific genre. For instance, I created a ‘progressive rock’ channel, and seeded it with Spocks Beard. Pandora will start playing songs it thinks are similar. From what it plays, you can say “Yep, that’s great!” or “No, I don’t like that at all.” If you find the station is drifting, or is not including other similar styles, you can seed in new band names or tracks.

So far I’ve set up a couple channels:

  • Progressive
    Spocks Beard, ELO, Alan Parsons Project, Yes

  • Modern Folk?
    The Duhks, Nickle Creek

  • 80’s Mix
    Tears for Fears

  • Live Blues / Jazz
    Les McCann, BB King

If you’d like to listen to any of these tracks, they should be available on my profile page, just click on the feeds (they’re named after the first band or song you add to them).

These channels have netted new bands I’d never heard of, and songs that were new, but, 8 times out of 10, they were songs and artists I liked. So I tell Pandora “Yes, please, more like that!” When I find a band I’d like to really find out more about, I ‘bookmark’ them. I have a list of new bands I hadn’t heard of before, but now I’ll look for more of their music:

  • The Flower Kings
  • Tim O’Brien
  • The Green Cards
  • The David Grisman Quartet
  • Pete Murray

It would be unlikely that I’d run across these folks listening to broadcast radio, though RP might play them. Both sources (RP and Pandora) are opening me up to wonderful new music. I love technology.