Friday, April 30, 2004

Smokin', revised

The doctor told Jane it appears to be a viral infection, and that he's not doing as badly as we feared. We just need to keep hitting him with ibuprofen as needed and make sure he drinks plenty of fluid. David is eating in his good moments - he scarfed down a ton of Annie's Mac & Cheese at lunchtime. Right now, after resting most of the afternoon, he's hanging out with Jane downstairs - watching Dora and playing with his toy phone. We'll keep you all posted.

I installed the A/C unit in our bedroom today, and I took off the cover from our big hallway one. We're running them for a little while tonight to clear out some of the hot air upstairs and to clean 'em out. I need to find one we can fit in David's room. The challenge there is that his window is 42" wide but all the air conditioners out there are built to fit skinnier windows. So I'll have to rig up a board to seal it up after putting a smaller one in.

I also have to install our new blinds for the living room which arrived last night. I'll tackle that either tonight after David's bedtime or tomorrow.

Current events

Today, Gerald Amirault was released from prison, after 18 years. He, along with his mother and sister, were convicted of molesting and raping children under their care in the infamous Fells Acres scandal. Why am I writing about this today?

Well, I am of the firm belief that child abuse does, of course, happen in the world. It's a tragic, evil act when it happens, and as the parent of a young son, it's something I will always be worried about whenever he's out of the hands of his parents. But there was a junk science trend in the mid-1980s that still pops up sometimes today. It's called the "recovered memories" movement.

This was something that therapists and some psychologists back in those days believed was valid. But unfortunately, the techniques used to elicit these "memories" was so crude as to often have the effect of implanting the very memories they believed they were recovering. The other big trend back then was the "satanic ritual abuse" myth. A lot of folks believed that this sort of abuse was actually common. And working from the assumption that it was common, their therapy and questioning was designed to elicit the desired response. Thankfully, today this has been almost entirely discredited in the mainstream and only is practiced on the fringes. But back in the '80s, people really believed in this pap.

The Amiraults got caught up in this convergence of quackery, and in two separate trials were shipped off to jail. Gerald's mother and sister were freed in the mid-'90s, but Gerald himself was kept locked up until today. And dozens of kids who were little more than toddlers at the time have been given the curse of memories of horrific events that never happened. No evidence backing any of the claims made was ever found other than the testimony of the children.

The saddest thing about this can really be summed up by this quote from the article above:

"I think people look at us as if he's the innocent person and we're the evildoers," said Harriet Dell'Anno, whose daughter, Jaime, testified against Amirault.

No, Mrs. Dell'Anno, you aren't the evildoers. But neither were the Amiraults. In the end, you were all victims, and the real evildoers are still practicing their quackery that they call "therapy".

Relapse

Around 7:30 last night, we gave him some ibuprofen. It knocked his temperature almost all the way down, at which point he loaded up a diaper, ate some food, and generally returned to normal for a while. We put him to bed around 9:30.

He woke up upset at around 11, though, and we took him downstairs until he burned off the energy. Then he went back to bed.

Until about 4 or so.

At 4, he woke up screaming and feverish again, so we gave him some more ibuprofen and Jane stayed with him the rest of the night. He slept on and off, cuddled up on the sofa with his giant stuffed bear. This morning, though, he's in a horrible mood even though the temperature is back down. They're at the doctors' now - I have a service call to make in a little while otherwise I'd have gone, too.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Smokin'

That's what David's forehead is to the touch right now. He spiked at 104.2 - but he's back down under 102 after some Tylenol (on the advice of the duty nurse at our pediatrician's office). He's otherwise not showing too many signs of sickness.

He'll be going in for a look-see tomorrow, but they're not too worried about him so far. It just has to run its course, with Mom and Dad treating the symptoms as best as possible.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Interesting day

I played hooky today, kind of.

The problem I had with my minivan a few weeks ago reared it's ugly head again last night on my way to the BNUG board meeting. So I took it to the dealership first thing this morning (it turned out to be the hub bearing on the opposite side from the original problem), where it spent the day.

So instead of monopolizing Jane's car, we made alternate plans. Our friend Judy came over, and we all went to the mall to buy the iBook she wanted to get. On the way, I took the liberty of stopping at the office and forwarding my office phone to my cell. That way I could theoretically work.

Meanwhile, David's been a little hair-trigger for the last few days, with nasty diaper stuff and mood swings. Yep - it's time for molars. He was really tired all day, and about half an hour ago it finally reached a peak. Turns out he also had a fever of 102 and change going on top of the other teething symptoms. So we gave him a healthy slug of Tylenol and offered him a bath (which he declined vehemently) - after the Tylenol kicked in his mood has improved a lot. The lollipop helped, too.

I'm still setting up Judy's iBook, with a break to go to a chamber of commerce function late this afternoon. It was very productive - I picked up two appointments out of it. And I have some work to do Friday morning. It looks like the month will end on a pretty good note.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Random "Iron Chef America" thoughts

I've watched all but the Tag Team battle so far. I'm saving that one for tonight.

They made a big mistake not having an audience packed into the new Kitchen Stadium. It's kind of lifeless.

This "chairman" seems like a nice guy, but he's hideously wrong for the job. It requires pomposity, not seriousness. The ill-fated "Iron Chef USA" that was shot for UPN (I only saw one episode ever air, even though I know they shot a couple) had the right idea by using Shatner. He's the perfect American (well, actually Canadian) counterpart to Chairman Kaga.

Alton Brown is one of my all-time favorite TV people. I have all his books. I even have one of his salt cellars. But he's the victim of another mistake - they had Alton in the role of the Professor, but he had to do both play-by-play and color. As a color commentator, he's tremendously insightful, but I'd rather have Brent Musburger doing play-by-play. And that says a lot if you're ever been treated to Brent.

The floor reporter was awful. Bad questions, bad delivery. Yecch.

And the judges were kind of lame. Most of them weren't even real foodies.

The biggest consequence of that is that the Japanese chefs got screwed. As much as I like Mario Batali, there's just no way he beats Morimoto. No way at all. I can see how Puck beat Morimoto in the other battle, because Puck stayed closer to the theme (and the judges had no appreciation for Morimoto's creativity). And Flay/Sakai, I wasn't so sure about Flay beating Sakai, but reasonable people differ on things like that all the time. Trout was a little closer to Flay's specialties than Sakai's.

Mind you, "Iron Chef America" didn't suck, but it could have been so much better than it was.

Message to my parents...

I know I have occasionally been known to put fairly cryptic messages in here mainly for your benefit, but this time I'm going to write something, clear, unequivocal, and absolutely sincere, and it's really just intended for you two:

This week's Queer Eye is a rerun.

So if you haven't seen the one about the stand-up comic who lives like a true slob and has a Brat Pack and tiki lounge fixation, then go ahead and tune in, or let me know and I'll go ahead and TiVo it. It first aired about a month and a half ago, I think.

Oh yeah, one other message - we went to our friends' house for dinner last night. No pictures until today as a result.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Busy week

I was incommunicado most of this week because I was prepping for the Linux class. The class was yesterday, and it went pretty well - well enough that we're going to do it again in about a month. The format works, and we let the students help drive the agenda for us.

What I need to deal with this week is to get Ghost working properly, to make the destruction/construction of my training room computers go quicker. I bought the license a week ago, but haven't had time to get it set up. I used Ghost at my old company, but we were forced to give it up as the Mothership had standardized on the PowerQuest product suite.

Then, of course, Symantec bought PowerQuest, so nyah.

We're enjoying a couple of nice days, weather-wise, so other than a couple of minor errands early today we'll pretty much just head down to the Willows and play. David hasn't been down there yet as a full-fledged toddler; they just opened up for the season a week or so ago.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

VMware versus VirtualPC

I am using both on my Dell Inspiron 600m laptop. The copy of VirtualPC was obtained through my Microsoft Partner Pack subscription - and I've used the Mac version of the product for years. VMware is also a product I've used for a long time at Holyoke, but I just obtained a new copy through their user group program. After some experimentation with both Intel products, I have a few conclusions:

First, both VMware and VirtualPC have difficulties with the newest version (10) of Mandrake Linux - which is based on the 2.6 kernel. In my first try, I could not get VirtualPC to properly recognize either the network driver or the sound card - though it did find the emulated S3 video adapter properly. I had somewhat better luck with VMware's hardware support, but have not thus far been able to get X Windows to work. Although XFree86 does have direct VMware support, it has not worked thus far.

One difference between the two immediately - VMware has much faster disk support than VirtualPC. The comparable install of the operating system has taken less than half the time.

There have been successes: I was able to install both SuSE 9.0 and Mandrake 9.2 on both emulators, and though I was able to install the most recent Lindows (now called Linspire) on VMware boot attempts result in a kernel panic. Linspire is still 2.4 kernel-based.

More results later.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Random thoughts

- David suffered a wounded nose today. He toppled down a couple of steps while he was outside this morning, and bloodied his nose (and he got some scrapes, too). Jane said he refused to grab the rail that time, and learned his lesson. This is what happens with toddlers. They push their limits until the limits bite back, then they figure it out. Thankfully toddlers are durable.

- We went with Judy tonight to look at the new Apple stuff. She's leaning towards an iBook, but they don't actually hit the shelves until tomorrow. So she'll probably pick one up this weekend.

- In a major upset, a short Kenyan won the Boston Marathon.

- It was nice that the Sox both (a) won their Patriot's Day game for a change, and (b) took 3 out of 4 from the Yankees. But it's still only April. Don't print the playoff tickets yet.

- I was looking at a poster tonight when we were at the mall. In the battle of the teen queens, I have to say: Lindsay Lohan is way hotter than Hillary Duff. No contest. But I still haven't seen any more of either of them than movie posters and Letterman appearances. Nor do I particularly intend to.

- What's on your iPod? Mine has about 2600 songs on it. It would have more, but it's only a 10 GB model. I've already converted everything to AAC in order to cram that much stuff, anyhow.

Happy holidays

Today is Patriots Day here in Massachusetts. The Red Sox play at 11, which gets the game out just in time for folks to see the Boston Marathon runners come by Kenmore Square. That's always cool, and I enjoyed it in my Boston resident days.

This morning I'm at the office, but probably not for more than a few hours. The temperature is climbing fast, and is expected to hit the high 80s - since the building A/C isn't fully firing yet it's going to be a sweatbox soon. It's pretty deserted here today, anyways. I'm just doing some prepwork for the upcoming class. Fortunately, I packed shorts in my briefcase this morning "just in case", and I think I'll change into them soon.

Jane is watching Harry and Isabel this morning while their mom goes to an appointment. She and David went over to their house for it, since there's a backyard to play in there and we don't really have one. We don't have much to do today - when I leave here, I'll probably head over to join them.

In other news, Apple revamped their entire portable line today as expected. PowerBooks now top out at 1.5 GHz, and iBooks now top out at 1.2 GHz. With that, all Apple systems are finally over the 1 GHz mark. If I needed a PowerBook, now would be the time to get one. Expect iMac updates soon - Apple likes the iMac to be a little faster than the eMac, and now that the PowerBook is updated there's no reason to hold back the iMac speed anymore. Given apparent IBM constraints delivering the 90nm G5 chips, I don't expect a G5 iMac or PowerBook until fall. Any faster chips they get will go to Xserve backorders for now and then into the promised PowerMac refresh - when Jobs announced the G5 last year he vowed 3 GHz by this summer.

This means that the G4 will be around awhile longer, and so the current line (except for the iMac) will probably remain stable for some time. If I had to bet on it, I'd say the iMac update will be in the next week or two, but I very well could be wrong. When it comes, expect a switch from the GeForce 5200MX video processor to a Radeon 9100 or thereabouts, and the processor speed to hit either 1.42 GHz or an even 1.5 GHz.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Miscellaney

Today, Jane and I were watching TV this afternoon while David napped, when suddenly Jane spotted a mouse sauntering done the hall. I gave chase, but it escaped. Gracie continued sleeping.

So I went off to the local Home Depot to buy a whole mess of mouse assassination gear - I called home after completing the purchase, only to find that Gracie had awakened and caught the mouse. When I called, Jane had the mouse pinned under an empty litter jug. So I zipped back home, took a piece of cardboard and used it to slide under the jug's opening and trap the mouse inside, after which I put the top back on and dispatched the mouse as mercifully as I could. After Gracie had finished with it, there wasn't too much fight left in the mouse anyways.

Afterwads, I went down cellar and laid out baits and traps. I also vacuumed all the known mouse haunts and got all the debris they leave behind. Hopefully the one I killed was it - I really don't like killing things.

I'm currently reading two books - Love Me, by Garrison Keilor, and The Great Unravelling, a collection of Paul Krugman's economics columns for the New York Times. Krugman is brilliant (along with Maureen Dowd and Tom Friedman, Krugman is the columnist I simply refuse to ever miss each week) as always, but I'm not so impressed by Keilor's novel. It's well-written, but Larry Wyler is the least sympathetic protagonist I've seen from him yet, it's a little too autobiographical for my liking, and there's way too much literary inside baseball going on. I'll finish it, but I'm not that impressed.

It looks like we only have one seat left open for next weekend's Linux class, so if you were considering going, e-mail me quickly.

Man - what a beautiful weekend!

Unfortunately, my wife is not enjoying it so far - she came down with a stomach bug of some sort and had a very tough day. I took David out to do things during the day so she could be alone. We picked up some new sleepers at the mall and went to my office to drop off some paper and pick up the mail. And I took care of feeding him, too. We had some quality time today, and Jane's feeling a little better as well.

Before today, there were a couple of other things worth noting. Thursday night, we went out walking since it was so nice. We took the stroller, but it was useless since David refuses to sit in it. We walked about two miles altogether, and he walked darn near all of it. And Friday night Jane and I got to go out without him - we went to my bowling league's season-ending banquet down at the wharf. Jane went in place of our friend Robert, who is out of town at the moment. We had a nice time there, and when we got home Judy was watching the Sox game with David. She taught him to say "cowboy up".

Here's a great example of the depths to which my former company has sunk. Traditionally, there's usually some sort of company-logoed goodie that the marketing department provides for the members of the league at the dinner. They do this for both the golf league and the bowling league. Well, this year there was a pen and pencil set with the company name. Or rather, I should say "Conpany", because that's what the typo on the pen set said instead of the generally used spelling. So the gift this year was a misprinted pen set.

I think that speaks to their state far more eloquently than anything I've said about them so far.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Down in the parking lot

Some idiots in a convertible have been there for about an hour now, fiddling with their car stereo. And they keep switching tunes. It's really annoying, even 3 stories up. I'm debating whether or not to toss something on them from up here - I have a banana peel in the trash that would be effective.

I probably won't bother, though - I'm going home soon.

I made what I expect will be the last purchase here for awhile today - a multiuser license of Norton Ghost Corporate Edition. I need it for the training PC's, but I've been ducking it as long as possible. With classes coming up, though, I just can't blow it off any further.

Under consideration down the road aways: the best way long-term to maintain the training room systems might be with virtual machines, using either Virtual PC or VMware. Set up a VM for each class type, that has an undo point. Depending on the volume, that could work well. If I use Virtual PC, I already have licenses, and I may get them from VMware as a consultant. I'm looking into their program.

However, I'll have to add RAM to the computers in the training room to do that, and though it's cheap to do I really don't feel like ripping them all apart. Lazy me.

I went leafleting in the other buildings last night, and my back doesn't hurt as much because there were fewer offices there. I did get one phone call out of it today, from a prospect wondering what I charged for desktop support and what I could do. We'll see if it amounts to anything. I also have an appointment to meet with a client I helped out last week this coming Tuesday. So there's a little bit of stuff going on.

And I will be putting flyers in the building for pickup, as well.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Today's business model

It is appearing that training will ultimately represent a significant portion of my business revenues - enough to make me a happy and prosperous business owner, I can't say for sure. We'll see about that part.

At the suggestion of a friend in the business, I am looking into teaching some more traditional training classes with a couple of the local colleges. I have a meeting in a couple of weeks with one of them. Every little bit helps. I'm also working on a custom Office class for a company as well.

Does this rainy weather suck or what? When I drove to and from the BNUG meeting yesterday, it was like a monsoon out there. Nasty conditions. And there was a Turnpike extension backup for the second time in a row - the last time was when I went to the BNUG board meeting two weeks ago, and last night's backup seems to have been caused by a tie-up on the ramp to I-93 south from the westbound Pike. Since I was continuing straight, I didn't see the cause, but it had things backed up right into the Williams Tunnel.

And finally for now, they are conducting a test here in Beverly today. To see what the impact would be of proposed federal regulations forcing trains to blow their whistles at street crossings, every train is blowing their whistles as they cross today. My complex is located between two crossings. I have heard a lot of train whistles today. I am not pleased.

The big deal here is that all the crossings in question are gated, with lights and bells to keep cars out. Anyone stupid enough to bypass those and go on the track anyway deserves to be smooshed by a train. Whistles be damned.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

How not to sell subscriptions

I've read the New Republic for years. Terrific writing, moderate politics, fascinating POV reports. And a great notes from the field section. But recently, I let my subscription lapse. Why? Was it a stand - did an article offend me? Nope.

What happened is this: I just couldn't justify in my mind paying $80 per year for it. So I let the sub expire. Well, yesterday I got a letter from them pleading with me to re-up. They even offered me a special rate to re-subscribe...

$79.95. The exact same rate I rejected before. Maybe at some point I'll get another new subscriber-type offer from them, with a _real_ reasonable rate of, say, $30 or so. If that happens, I'll subscribe again, but I sure as heck am not paying that kind of money for a semi-weekly newsmagazine. They obviously Do Not Get It.

Not only that, but since the downtown newsstand by the train station has been offering the Boston Globe for $.25 lately (as opposed to the regular $.50) I even go out of my way if need be to save the daily quarter. And I'm going to drop $80 on TNR? Sheesh.

Bargain hunting

I needed to get a separate keyboard for my Dell notebook. I find myself using it a lot, but full-time typing on any laptop-style keyboard is a tedious chore. So, since I had a few Staples coupons, I went there last night in search of one.

After looking at some wired keyboards, I decided to go wireless. There was a shelf talker advertising the Logitech Cordless MX Duo (keyboard and mouse set) for $59 - regular price $99, sale price $79, plus a $20 rebate. I had a coupon for an extra $10, so I picked that set. Turned out the rebate had ended, but since the talker was still out there they just marked it down and gave me the price anyways. With the coupon, the Staples business rewards card, and the business Amex I paid it cost less than $50 - more than half off. A very good value, indeed.

Apple updated the eMac this morning. Now, for $999, you can get a CRT-based Mac that has almost the same specs as the $1799 LCD iMac - the only difference is that the iMac includes nicer speakers and a video card with more VRAM on it. You get the same sized hard drive(80GB), the same speed processor (1.25GHz), the same amount of DDR333 memory (256MB), and the same DVD/CD recording drive. And expansion is easier, because both memory slots are accessible on the eMac whereas only one slot is accessible on the iMac - and the user slot on the iMac uses pricier laptop SO-DIMMs. There's also a $799 eMac config that subs a Combo drive and cuts the 80GB HD down to 40GB.

Given how the eMac now stacks up, I suspect that means the long-awaited iMac refresh is almost upon us. I would expect a moderately changed form factor, and either a faster G4 (models are available up to 1.5 GHz now) or a low-end G5 from IBM's new 90nm fab line. Probably at best 1.8 GHz if that's the case. That indicates that the other long-awaited refresh should be here shortly as well - the PowerMac G5 speedbump. Depending on IBM's chip yields, expect the top-end dually to be between 2.5 GHz and 3 GHz. Once Apple starts the refresh engine going like they did today, the rest of the shoe drops over the next month or so. Figure all the current announcements will be done by late May.

I won't prognosticate on the topic of laptops yet - too many questions in the low-power chip area. I counldn't guess when , but I think we'll see at best some minor G4 speed boosts to tide folks over until the G5 is running at a high enough speed with a low enough power draw.

Monday, April 12, 2004

That's a lot of miles

I completed another lap around the Sun yesterday - my 38th. Between the loops around the Sun, the rotation of Earth, and the distance our little solar system has travelled itself during that time, I've logged some serious miles. Way more than the 14,500 on my minivan.

The birthday itself was about as low-key as it gets. We actually went out Saturday night with Jane's folks and our friend Judy for dinner, and yesterday the only thing I did that was even vaguely celebratory was sleep a little late. Which I made up for today by sleeping poorly. We went to a brunch at the Lyceum (geek value: it's the place where Alexander Graham Bell did his first public demo of the telephone), and lounged around for much of the day - only leaving to take David over to a friend's house for an Easter egg hunt.

He wasn't too into it - he vastly preferred sitting in the kiddie car. Every time I opened the door to help him out he grabbed it away and slammed it shut. Once we got him inside, he demanded to play with Greg's Nextel phone. Which Greg didn't mind, because the keylock was on and he didn't like that work phone anyways. However, neither David nor Greg's son Harry was able to break it. Nextel could use that as a slogan - "phones tough enough for toddlers".

And then this morning, we got up early and drove Jane's parents into Boston to catch the train home. David enjoyed the ride, despite getting up early, because we went by the airport twice. That way he could look out the windows at all the airplanes. When he sees one, he yells "abie!" and watches it fly past.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

On FairPlay

As many geeks know, an application was released last week on SourceForge called "Playfair". Playfair used a couple of the VLC project libraries to read a protected iTunes Music Store .m4p protected AAC file and rewrite it as a regular .m4a file with the FairPlay DRM stripped from the file. It uses a users' legitimate key to do the conversion, and can only work on music for which it has the key.

Despite that limitation, Apple came down on it using the force of the DMCA behind it, and SourceForge took the site down. It is now hosted offshore by Sarovar.org. Well, I'm going to use Playfair on all my iTMS content, but not so I can share it illegally. I really don't believe in that, surprisingly.

The reason I'll strip the DRM from my purchased music files is different. I believe I should be able to stream my music to non-Apple devices, and Apple only allows their AAC variation to work with iPods and computers that run iTunes. This leaves out standalone devices that otherwise support AAC, and Linux computers. So by stripping the DRM out I can eventually rig up a streaming audio converter to my home theater downstairs, and read audio off a Mac upstairs. There are several devices on the market, mainly cheap, that can do this today with regular old open AAC but since Apple doesn't license FairPlay they can't support the music I buy online.

So this gives me the best of both worlds. I can support legal downloads of music, and use it any way I want.

I've already converted my Nellie McKay album - it sounds the same (duh - no recompression was performed), and took about 25 seconds to do.

Friday, April 09, 2004

180 degrees

That's the turn from yesterday. The training class is starting to fill up just based on the website advertising, last night's C of C event was interesting, fun, and possibly productive as well, and my flyers from earlier this week helped get me a new customer this morning - one of my Mac-using neighbors down the hall. I fixed a problem they were having that their existing person had been stumped by in about five minutes.

And it's gorgeous outside, whereas it was supposed to rain today originally. The storm appears to have missed us. The only cloud in my day today is that I'm currently splattered with hives. I think I must have ingested something with mold in it - usually I only get this from penicillin and its cousins. It started last night, was really bad when I woke up this morning, and is already starting to fade, but it's annoying and it makes me look funnier than usual until it goes away.

Wah.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Today's mantra is...

I am tired. Hear me snore.

I have a Chamber of Commerce function to attend this evening with Jane. We'll schmooze. She's going because she's the naturally outgoing salesman of the two of us. Her folks will be watching David - it goes a couple of hours.

As I'd mentioned, Tuesday night I went around the building, stuffing promotional flyers under doors. That seems to have worked just as well as my newspaper ad did (in other words, not at all), but for a lot less money.

The only thing that's depressing about that sort of flop is that I figured I'd at least get a call or two from people angry I stuffed things under their doors. But not even that. The only thing worse than being hated is being ignored.

It's not all depressing, mind you. I've done a couple of customer jobs, and they're happy thus far. In that sense, I continue to have potential. But to try three different marketing activities (mailing, stuffing, and a print ad) with no response from any of them kind of sucks. Grumble.

I will be mailing another batch of prospects soon, and Jane will be back on the road next week after her parents return home. And hopefully our training program will work well. It's the first of what I expect will be several planned full-day boot camp-type classes. Mark is teaching this Linux class with me. For any of my regular viewers in this area - feel free to sign up. We'll be guiding you through your very own Linux install in one day, and teaching you the essentials of maintenance and administration.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Visibility

It turns out, upon studying my site statistics, that I have more readers than I thought I did. I seem to get about 150 or so per week, on average, and most of them come back a couple of times. Which probably puts me solidly in the middle of blog views overall. Nowhere near the big guys, but more visible than some.

Which basically reinforces my decision not to always name names and be specific – you never know who is going to read this. Blogging isn’t edited, but a good blogger should edit his or herself. And I don’t mean edit as in the kind of editing my Mom, the Grammar Fiend would do, but the kind where you actually think for a minute about what you type before you press the “Publish” button. I rarely revise a post here (and when I do, it’s almost always for an obvious typo that I just missed), and that’s why.

On the other hand, when I write a post that is intentionally vague (like when I rant about certain businesses), if you know me at all or read back posts, my FAQ, or my bio information (all readily available), it's pretty easy to make the connection and figure out who I'm talking about at a given time. Especially if you're an interested party. I like doing that - it's just enough obfuscation for the casual reader but the real audience knows exactly what I'm referring to.

All in all, a splendid game to play.

Fading Beneath the Waves

That's what I should call my initial attempt at newspaper advertising. I ran a 3x2 ad once per week for three consecutive weeks. It did not generate a single phone call. It was worth a try, though useless. I've had better success politicking around, having Jane making calls and dropping in at businesses, and trying to schmooze.

I also sent out a mailing to 30 targeted businesses last Friday that may, if all goes well, generate a call or two. And last night I spent an hour and a half sliding flyers underneath every door in my building (except the bigger companies and the other IT shops). I hope that one pays off, because my back is paying the price otherwise.

In other news, my car broke on Monday. I was driving home when all of a sudden the "AWD DISABLE" warning went up on my information console, and the ABS warning light lit up. It got fixed pretty quickly yesterday, but I wound up renting a little Ford Focus for $26 so I could go to my Microsoft class yesterday morning. I would have taken Jane's car, but she has her parents in town visiting and needed it more.

The problem turned out to be due to a leak in a seal at the right front wheel - the speed sensor had gotten damaged. And a hub bearing pack needed to be replaced as well. All under warranty, of course. Which is good. One less expensive thing to deal with.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Small boy update

Amusing anecdote from yesterday: First off, Jane's parents are visiting us this week. So yesterday, I made a batch of brownies for everyone in the afternoon, while David was napping. And I rearranged the entire living room as well during that time, with the help of my next-door neighbor Michael. We all snacked on the freshly-baked brownies and Jane wrapped a big pile of them up and put them on a paper plate. Around 4 or so, David woke up, and right afterwards Jane headed out with her folks for a while.

So I had to keep David amused, which was do-able with the new layout to explore. But eventually he got bored and wandered off while I looked at the newspaper. A few minutes later he wandered back in. With a brownie in his hand.

Since I hadn't given said brownie to him, this was disconcerting. I went into the kitchen, where I found...

The whole plate of brownies on the floor. They'd been left too close to the edge. So I cleaned up. Of course I let David finish the brownie he'd already poached - it didn't hurt his appetite because when we went out an hour or so later to Bertucci's for dinner, he ate about half his big plate of macaroni (gemelli, actually) & cheese, some bread, about two lobster claws' worth of lobster meat from my dinner, and a Hoodsie for dessert. I'm not sure where he puts it. We also let him use a normal fork (under close supervision), and he did OK with it.

Also interesting from last night, we crossed another minor milestone. Jane had been brushing his teeth with a little rubber finger brush that she'd slip on her finger. But Saturday night, het bit down and, though there was no blood or anything (he bit the rubber), she decided it was time to switch to the real baby toothbrush. So we did that yesterday, and he wanted to hold it and brush himself. He did. For about five seconds.

Then he did the other thing he knows brushes are for - he started to brush his hair with it. It could have been worse, though. At least he didn't brush Gracie with it.

Jane and I both have families with ample quirks. Here's one from her family (they're here, so I get to pick on them) - Jane's mom likes to drink tea. Which is fine. So do Jane and I. But if you don't stop her, Jane's mom will use the same teabag over and over again - up to five times for a single teabag. It's not that she's being cheap or anything, it's just an odd habit she has. But's it's a pretty funny habit and it has now been appropriately highlighted here on this page.

Friday, April 02, 2004

A decent start

After closing the books on my first month, I didn't do too badly. I'm not making money, but I didn't lose a bunch, either. And given that I was all but out of service for a week-plus with a cold, I can live with that for now.

This month is off to a reasonably promising start, though. I have a customer coming in at the beginning of the week for a project, and I'm trying some extra marketing stuff - I put out a targeted mailing today, and I'm going to be spreading special flyers around the building on Tuesday night. Jane's generated some interest in her sales efforts, and I'm starting to meet some people that are helping out, too. I need to print up another run of brochures soon (more than half of my original order have gone out), and I have to do a special mailer piece that the folks at Essex Office are going to insert with their bills this month for me.

The only real marketing disappointment so far has been my run of newspaper ads. I ran three weeks in the biggest local paper - two have already run and I've gotten zero response from it. The ad didn't cost that much, and it was a worthy experiment, but if I still have no ad calls at the end of next week then I'll be forgetting about print ads for a long time to come. Like maybe forever. But it was worth at least one try.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Just in case

If you can't get Air America Radio where you live (like we can't in Boston), they stream it with Real. I'm listening to the O'Franken Factor right now.

Liberal talk radio might not be the market juggernaut that conservative talk is, but there's a market. I generally prefer the diversity of views you see on liberal and moderate shows to hard conservative dittohead radio. But that's me. Most conservatives like to have their own views reinforced nonstop - hence the dominance of conservative radio in the talk market.

The rest (including me most of the time) listen to music or sports talk.

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