Thursday, October 28, 2004

Umm...well...ah...wow...

What can I say, the Lyons household is in a state of shock. This is hard to absorb. The Red Sox have won the freak'n World Series.


I'll try and have something to say later.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

iPod revisited

I love my iPod. It's been a few weeks since I received my 20gig iPod for my Birthday and I now don't know how I lived without it. At the time I quipped that it would take me years to fill up the 20 gigs. I must humbly retract that remark. As I gathered my cds to rip, I kept finding more and more places in the house with stacks of cds. All these 'lost classics' quickly consumed those remaining gigs. I could keep going too. I still have a pretty big pile of not so great unripped cds and then there's my wife's rather large cd collection too. The new 60gig color iPod doesn't seem as crazy to me as it would have last month.


As for why I love the iPod, there are a few reasons. First off, my cd collection had become very scattered, at work I had instrumental and jam band cds (all ripped onto the work machines), at home by the stereo I had jazz and easy listening dinner music, in my car I had a lot of hard rock, and up on my home computer I had a small collection of random newish cds I had ripped soon after purchasing them. If I ever had a notion to listen to something not in character of the place I was, tough luck. The iPods changed that. I can now listen to all my music at any time.


The second reason I love my iPod is that it's reintroduced me to a whole ton of music that had fallen between the cracks of my life. I had a whole pile of old blues cds just were gathering dust, I also had a bunch of 80s and early 90s stuff that I just never bothered to play anymore (X, Pixies, Sugercubes, etc...) Now that all this stuff is ripped and on the iPod the shuffle play option picks this stuff up and mixes it in with all the rest of my music.


As for the other reasons I love the iPod, I now can listen to music in bed while Jayne is either watching TV or sleeping. I can fit a ton more music in my car (I have one of those FM broadcast dodads), I can listen to music while walking, jogging or mowing the lawn. All in all, it's opened up a bunch of new vistas in my enjoyment of music. Did I mention I love my iPod.






Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Girls Go Tech

Girls Go Tech is a Girl Scouts web site designed to get girls interested in science, math and technology.
It also has a couple of interactive flash 'games' that are fun for all ages and genders. I designed this mandala using their Mandala Maker. The Mixed Messages game is fun too.


via Tom O'Neil

Turtle Presents

Ned's post on Post Turtles reminded me of an old story a friend told me. His family had a gift giving tradition they called the 'turtle present'. A 'turtle present' is a gift you presented to someone else that you actually intend for yourself. It all started when my friend was young and had asked for a pet turtle and was told he couldn't get one. Rather than take no for an answer he rode his bike down to the local pet shop, bought a turtle with his own money and gave it to his mom as a present. The family thought it was such a funny ploy for a little kid to come up with they adopted the basic idea as a yearly tradition.

Bye Bye Orkut

I just deleted my Orkut account. To me the whole thing was an interesting but failed experiment in social linking. I like the idea of social networks and look forward to the emergence of a more open solution perhaps based on something like FOAF but have no interest in using Orkut again.



If you too want to delete your Orkut account here are the instructions:




1. Select the 'Home' link in the blue bar at the top of the page.
2. Click on the 'profile' button under your photo.
3. Click the 'edit profile' button that appears under your photo.
4. Click the 'terminate' option on the right-hand side of the page.
5. Select 'terminate account.' If you wish to remain a member,
choose 'i changed my mind.'


Given that once I deleted my account I couldn't log back in, I don't actually know if my account really went away or is just in some non active state. If someone could let me know what happened I would appreciate it.

The Decameron

Over the past ten years my reading habits have changed. Where as once I would force myself to finish every book I picked up before I started another, now I readily put down a book if I get bored with it. This means I tend to have multiple books on my night stand at the same time. I have one or two technical books, a light piece of fiction and then usually a couple pieces of more ambitious fiction.



One book that I've been reading on and off again over the last year is Giovanni Boccaccio’s collection of short stories called The Decameron. The stories are told by a group of ten young Florentines who have taken refuge from the black plague in a villa outside the city. There are one hundred stories in total with each story teller telling one story a day over ten consecutive days. So far I’ve only read the first twenty so I have a long way to go.



Even though Boccaccio was writing in the mid 14th century the stories are wonderfully accessible for a modern reader. The stories I’ve read so far center on love, fortune and twists of fate; all very timeless themes. Part of the wonder of the book is the empathy you feel with these people who lived over five hundred years ago. Their lives may have been very different from ours but they are unmistakably human.



If you are interested in pre Renaissance Italy or just reading some great stories I highly recommend the book. You can explore more about the book and the period at this great web site from Brown University.



Monday, October 25, 2004

ALCS Game 7 memories

I can't get enough of game 7 of the ALCS. If you're like me, you may enjoy this slide show of the game and post game celebrations. There are some great photos.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Porcine

I was looking for a review I had read on Fahrenheit 9/11 that had referred to Michael Moore as being 'porcine'. The word has suck in my mind since I originally read that article. I know it's meant as an insult, but I think it's a cool sounding word. Anyway, instead of finding the article I was looking for I got distracted by this interesting web site Porcine Myology. The best part of the site is this page that allows you to view all the different cross sections of a pig. It's kinda gross, but it's cool too.

If you prefer bovine myology, UNL has a site for that too. The bovine page includes a 3D rotatable cow carcass. Reminds me of a scene from Doom.

Stand Your Ground

I found this article titled Stand Your Ground over on Gamelan. It talks about not giving in when being pressured to do things in a way that's inconsistent with what you think is correct. I don't think the article is great but I thought it was worth pointing out for a couple of reasons. First, you seldom see articles on the soft side of the profession like this. Second, while I don't think you can simply 'stand your ground' to resolve contentions during the development process, the topic of how to deal with contention is worthy of some thought, both from the perspective of the developer and the development leader



The author approaches the issue as a developer, but exclusively from his area of experience which is consulting. While it may be pretty simple to just turn down a consulting project because you don't like the direction it's going, you seldom can do the same when working in house for a software developer. You can certainly vote with your feet and leave the company but that's a pretty drastic move. You can also just suck it up and do what you're told. Neither of those approaches is very palatable. The unfortunate tactic I see used most frequently is a variation on the all or nothing - take my ball and go home - strategy. Once someone makes their best case for why something should be done their way and it's rejected, they do their job but then distance themselves as far as possible from the project and those that made the decision.



The going dark strategy may be a fine solution from the developer's perspective but it's horrible for the development organization. Once it starts it's both difficult to cure and highly contagious. I think the onus is really on the development leaders to make sure it doesn't happen. As a leader, if people are 'standing their ground' against your decisions you really need to step back and understand what's going on and work to find a solution. If you can't convince people you need to at least make them understand your approach and why you're making the decision. If you have developed any level of trust with your developers that will often be enough.



I've done this long enough to have seen plenty of good leaders and bad. A couple of my 'favorite' examples of what not to do are as follows. When presented with the fact many developers don't agree with your decision, declare 'this is not a democracy!' or when asked how to deal with the dissension among the developers suggest sarcastically: 'how about some candy.'

Thursday, October 21, 2004

2004 Red Sox

What can I say about that ALCS? To have suffered at the hand of Yankees for so many years and to finally have a big game turn out our way is crazy, amazing, unbelievable, and just plain beyond words. After the first three games I was starting to believe in curses but now I believe in miracles. Win or loose in the World Series this will be a Red Sox season to remember for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

William Shatner - Has Been


Scene: The Bridge of the Starship Enterprise. The Enterprise has used the slingshot manuaver around the Sun to travel back in time to the year 2004.



Uhura: Captain, we're picking up strange acoustic signals from Earth. They are somewhat rythmic but they're lacking the standard qualities of human music.



Kirk: Uhura can you pipe it through to intercom (if you have sound enabled, click this link). (turning to Spock) Spock, what do you make of it.



Spock: (pauses to listen) Fascinating.



William Shatner sings again - well sort of. See and hear it at shatnerhasbeen.com


Monday, October 18, 2004

Any Team but the Yankees

any team but the yankees



I'm not ready to throw in the towel on the Red Sox yet, but they have certainly dug themselves a deep hole that will be hard to climb out of. If the Red Sox do lose and the Yankees go to the World Series that means I will instantly become a National League fan, regardless of who's playing. I am certain this is true for all other die hard Red Sox fans as well. Given that, I was greatly dismayed by an article titled Red Sox Nation Still Believes published on theBostonChannel.com. The article ends with this disturbingly out of touch remark:



But if the Red Sox don't come through this year, fans say they are keeping their options open.



"If they lose, we do, of course, have the option of rooting for someone else," said another fan.



But fans say they aren't quite ready to say they will cheer on the Yankees in the World Series.




The absolute last 'someone else' a Red Sox fan would root for is the Yankees. How any Boston sports writer could say this is beyond me, unless they were making a sick joke. As a baseball fan we may respect the Yankees, but root for them, never.



Saturday, October 16, 2004

Linking Netiquette

According to linking etiquette you're not supposed to link to images on another persons server. The explanation is that you're stealing their bandwidth. If you want to show one of their pictures, host it yourself. I myself have been violating this policy lately with some one my posting images. I've gone back a few months and corrected those posts.


Why bring this up? I've noticed a couple of people linking to images on my site. If it's in the context of a link to a blog entry I wouldn't mind at all but in one case the images is just being used as a background for their web page. I can't really get too mad however. The young person has used the image to such good effect and is obviously a Red Sox fan. Given the outcome of the first couple games of the ALCS I feel the same way.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Sim City Classic

Electronic Arts has made available a version of Sim City Classic free on their web site. It only works with IE and registration is required. Regardless it's a pretty faithful reproduction of the classic.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Balls to the wall

A recent lunch conversation regarding the appropriateness of using the phrase 'balls to the wall' at work prompted me to research its source. According to wordorigins.org the phrase originated with military pilots and indicated the throttles (ball topped) had been pushed forward to their maximum position.

Sorry about the downtime

I figured the nameserver change would bubble through before the old hosting company yanked my site, given I paid for it through Dec. I'm liking them less and less.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Yet another hosting company

I've decided to change hosting companies again. The latest hosting company had very slow servers and horrible FTP access. Not once since I got the account has Blogger successfully uploaded my entire blog. I reported the problem to support but they closed the ticket saying general FTP access had been improved. I didn't notice any difference so I suspected Blogger might be having issues. As an experiment I found a new hosting company and bought a one month inexpensive hosting account for $4.95 and attempted to upload my blog. It worked perfectly. So I canceled the old service and changed the name servers and here we are now. The price is good and so far so is the performance. I hope it stays this way.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Anticipanic

Noun: Pleasurable expectation wrapped in fear and dread (such as the feeling a Red Sox fan has waiting to play the Yankees in a ALCS game).



Heard on New England Cable News.

Monday, October 11, 2004

The Hudsucker Proxy

I'm a big fan of the Coen brothers but for some reason I had never seen their film The Hudsucker Proxy. (I think it may have been that name. What a horrible name for a film.) Well, I finally saw it tonight and I belly laughed through most of it. Stylistically it's a cross between Terry Gilliam's Brazil and a Frank Kapra movie. I'm one of the rare movie buffs that didn't love Brazil, so don't let the comparison scare you away. Hudsucker has all the visuals with more heart.


The entire cast is great. I especially like Jennifer Jason Leigh's 'girl-friday' character. Her fast staccato dialog delivery is perfectly retro. My favorite line in the whole film is her pumping up Tim Robbins character by extolling the virtues of his recent invention, the hula-hoop.

Finally there would be a thingamajig that would bring everyone together, even if it kept them apart spatially.
It may not be funny in print but she delivers it very humorously.

Modern Military Systems

I was reading an article on the $420 billion dollar defense budget and noticed references to some military systems I hadn't heard of before. I did some web searches looking for more data and found the Military Analysis Network from the Federation of American Scientists. It contains a great deal of information on systems as different as the DD-21 Zumwalt, the HyperSoar and the FOL.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Supermarionation

I never would have guessed someone would make another Supermarionation movie but the guys behind South Park are. It's called Team America: World Police. I just saw a trailer for it tonight. It looks pretty funny and while it probably wont be a smash hit, it looks crazy enough to be a cult favorite.

FreeRIDE 0.8

FreeRIDE is an open source IDE for Ruby, written mostly in Ruby. I've been following its progress for some months now and was pretty excited to see the latest version appear only a month an half after its predecessor. I wish I could report that it's an awesome product, because I want it to succeed, but at this point it still has too many rough edges. If you just want an editor that highlights Ruby's somewhat bizarre syntax it does a great job, but when it comes time to execute or debug code it still has some issues. I found that the running on the Windows platform (XP) was less stable than on Linux but I've found issues with both. I've reported some bugs and the lead developers have been extremely responsive. I don't think the issues are from lack of trying, more perhaps from the lack of a big community behind the product. As much as I love Eclipse I don't think a Ruby plugin for Eclipse is the right IDE solution for Ruby. Much like Smalltalk, Ruby deserves a 'pure' Ruby IDE. I hope FreeRIDE can become that

Thursday, October 07, 2004

UFO

Bob Congdon's recent post about the Invaders reminded me of one of my favorite TV shows of the 70s, UFO. I found this great fan site on the show with a series guide and tons of pictures and movie clips.


One of the best clips is of the show's opening sequence and highlights all the cool spaceships and advanced computer technology they employed. The show was made in 1970 but the action takes place in the then futuristic 1980s so we get to see some cool teletypes and lots of tape drives and blinking lights.


The show was produced by Gerry Anderson who also produced the Thunderbirds.
I don't think the show really hung together too well as a complete series but the spaceships and mysterious aliens kept my interest. I've always been curious however as to why all the women on the moon had purple hair - SHADO regulation I guess.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Horse Feet

The web is really an amazing place; you never know what you will stumble across. I just found barefoothorse.com, a site that evangelizes not shoeing horses. I never knew this was an issue.

Yummy Rat

I'm pretty adventurous with what I'll eat, but the idea of eating rats just doesn't seem very appealing. If however, I ever find myself in dire straights and rat's all there is, I can turn to this wonderful resource: Bert Christensen's Weird & Different Recipes.
The kids will love this one:

Mice in Cream (Souris à la crème)

Skin, gut and wash some fat mice without removing their heads. Cover them in a pot with ethyl alcohol and marinate 2 hours. Cut a piece of salt pork or sowbelly into small dice and cook it slowly to extract the fat. Drain the mice, dredge them thoroughly in a mixture of flour, pepper, and salt, and fry slowly in the rendered fat for about 5 minutes. Add a cup of alcohol and 6 to 8 cloves, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Prepare a cream sauce, transfer the sautéed mice to it, and warm them in it for about 10 minutes before serving.



Saturday, October 02, 2004

Age of the iPod

My big present this birthday (besides the concession from my wife Jayne to watch Dead Man, my favorite movie, on DVD last night) is my new 20gig 3rd generation iPod. It's pretty darn cool. I already had about 6gigs of music ripped from my CD collection but this has forced me to spend the afternoon ripping even more. I think I should get to around 10gigs before I'm done. By the time I need more than 20 I will be able to stream all my music via WiMax from my google byte personal identity server.

October 2nd 1961

I was born on this day 43 years ago. I don't feel much different at 43 than I did at 33 or even 25. During one of the last conversations I had with my father, he mentioned he didn't feel much different at 76 than he did at 36. I've thought about that old conversation with my dad a lot over my last few birthdays. It's both comforting and disturbing in some respects. I like the idea of maintaining a continuity of mind across many years, but I also dislike the idea that I've somehow reached some sort of plateau that will extend until old age. Does this mean I need to go out and buy a Harley or a Porsche?

Friday, October 01, 2004

Pentium Architecture Articles

I've recently really got into reading the articles at Arstechnica. A couple in particular I really enjoyed related to the architecture of the Pentium processor and Intel's future processor direction. I'd just been lamenting the fact that over the past few years I'd totally stopped paying attention to the evolution of PC processor architectures. I was aware of the rise of AMD and it's 64 bit extensions and the current top of the line clock speeds but not much more. These articles really filled in some gaps.

 
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