Saturday, December 31, 2005

My Wikipedia entry

Well, I don't have one (there is one for my last name), but if I did it would probably say something like this:

Josh Turiel (b. 1966) is a Boston-area IT consultant and general-purpose nerd. He currently operates a moderately successful Beverly, MA-based consulting firm (the eponymous JH Turiel & Associates, Inc.), serves on the board of the Greater Boston Network Users' Group, and generally has a far higher opinion of himself than he probably should. He has written a few technical articles for pay and lives in a big old house on Boston's north shore with his wife and 3 1/2 year old son. He weighs too much, plays far less golf than he would like, and drives a minivan.

I think that would sum it up pretty well... Happy New Year!

March of the Minivans

Last weekend, we went down to see my folks in Connecticut for Christmas (after an early unwrapping at our house first), and had a lovely time for the couple of days we got to spend there. Christmas night, I watched "March of the Penguins" with my parents (Jane and David watched intermittently with us). Interesting movie, not worth the hype though.

So this week, after returning I went straight back to work. On Thursday I went into Boston to take a new server live at one of my clients that is located right by North Station. So when I go there I usually park at the Garden (there's plenty of spots open during the day so long as you're out by 6) and walk over. This time, though, I didn't realize that "Disney on Ice" was doing two shows during the day.

I was in a long line going in - and looking at the crowd I realized that I was trapped in a March of the Minivans. Worse, though, was the departure. I left the client at 5:30, and made it to the Garden 10 minutes later. But there had been an afternoon show as well, and I was on the bottom level. It took me nearly half an hour to get out (trapped below the ice, essentially - like a penguin in the jaws of a seal). But the good news was finishing the year on a strong note.

I worked briefly Friday, then went with Jane (who had the day off) to meet all my ex-employees at a lunch for my former lieutenant - now joining the ranks of the laid-off from my old company. Bleh. Our staff of four IT people serving about 160 employees is now down to one person and a Illinois-based help desk for about 70 remaining employees.

On a better note, today we made a voyage to Ikea and bought David his Grownup Bed. It's a full-size bed that he should be able to hang on to until he's ready for college someday. And Ikea is an interesting experience. Everything's remarkably cheap, decent quality, and crowded. And the food in the cafeteria is surprisingly good, and also cheap. All in all a major success.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Whatever

As I mentioned earlier this month, the current Republican Christmas War is ludicrous. Period. Speaking from my perch as a total non-believer (I'm ecumenical - I believe all religions are equally wrong), I'm not in the slightest bit disturbed by being wished a merry Christmas (heck, I even usually spell the whole thing out instead of saying Xmas). Christmas doesn't bother me, I'm not threatened by it, and I couldn't care less if it's observed. We have a 3 1/2 year-old in this house - to us, Christmas is about Santa and how cool it is when a toddler magically gets presents that morning. I'm very excited about tomorrow.

But I know a lot of people out there don't like having Christian holidays thrust in their faces. Since the far-right lunatics are blowing smoke out their asses when they declare that we live in a fundamentally Christian nation (the Founding Fathers were, almost to a man, Deists, and deliberately erected the First Amendment as a wall along with not mentioning the word God anywhere in the Constitution), many people and businesses choose to be non-specific at holiday time. And that's fine.

I'm utterly convinced that Jesus had no divinity to him (I do believe he existed as a historical person). But I've read pretty much all the same stuff that the believers did, and were he around today he'd be deeply embarrassed by what these jackasses do in his name.

So have a happy holiday season, enjoy the moment, and try and do good towards your fellow man for a change.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Is it me, or was this truly stupid?

Today, I had to hang around the house for a little while this morning - my minivan was in the shop for routine service and a couple of minor problems. It was finished and ready by late morning. But I digress.

The reason for this entry is United Parcel Service. UPS is an important part of my wife's life - not because she's an eBay geek or anything, but because she works for A Giant Consumer Products Company from the Midwest, and she works out of a home office. They are constantly shipping huge quantities of product to her, and she, in turn, is regularly shipping products out to company reps in department stores across New England. In addition, she gets sales reports, marketing collateral, and all kinds of other stuff.

Yesterday, she shipped out 12 boxes of gratis product (freebies that reps can earn as incentives) that she re-packaged and shipped out in boxes re-used from other goods she's received. No problem, right? Well, while I was home this morning the local driver dumped one of the boxes back on our front porch - it had been rejected as "hazardous materials that were in discrepancy with the published description". Well, it's perfume. All 11 of the other boxes were perfume, too - and they got delivered, as do literally dozens of boxes per month. I was home, Jane was on the road, so she asked me to get to the bottom of it. I called UPS, and the initial agent was helpful - he told me that that was probably a mistake of sorts, and he'd get in touch with the right people to figure out exactly what went wrong. Meanwhile, he took my number for follow-up, and told me to go ahead and leave it on the back porch for re-pickup later in the day.

Fine, mistakes happen. So a little while later, I'm back in my car on the way to a client. And the phone rings, with a local phone number. It's someone in the local Lynnfield UPS office, calling to tell me that perfume most certainly is hazardous, and that if all the other boxes have gone without incident it must be because Jane wasn't shipping stuff properly. She'd have to declare all that going forward. I asked how it might be possible that Jane's employer, who was even farther up in the Fortune 500, could possibly be sending all this product out themselves without hazardous material declarations. And why hasn't a problem existed until now, anyways?

She told me that they'd have to discuss this with the company. Wonderful. I left the discussion by telling her that frankly I didn't care what their policy was, I wasn't interested in any follow-up, I simply wanted a reasonable answer as to why one package out of a dozen identical ones was rejected. She was unwilling to provide clarification any further. I told her that was fine - as far as I was concerned the two companies were more than welcome to have a pissing match over the issue - and if it resulted in (given the scale of this) thousands of shipments per day potentially going to another carrier I was going to put my money on the company shipping the products.

I considered telling her that the only way perfume bottles were hazardous was if they were shoved directly someone's ass, but I had positively admirable restraint. I hung up instead.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Reports out of New York...

According to reports tonight, Johnny Damon is signing a 4 year, $53 million contract with the Yankees. Bad move for Johnny, good move for Boston overall. Damon is a terrific ballplayer overall, with very good speed and a strong bat. He also covers a lot of outfield territory.

On the other hand, he's not a "true" leadoff hitter in many ways, isn't the base-stealing threat he once was, and has been very injury-prone the last couple of years, breaking down in the latter part of the season. He also has a horrible throwing arm, and in Fenway that's typically less of a problem than it is in Yankee Stadium. He's also now inked for a long-term deal as a center fielder in a game that rarely lets center fielders age gracefully (though he could always move to right in Yankee Stadium with the short porch).

Depending on what trade comes down the pike next for the Sox (the rumor is that we pick up either Coco Crisp from Cleveland or Jeremy Reed from Seattle in exchange for pitching), this could work out OK. It's too bad that Scott Boras simply guides his clients where the cash is highest - Damon's reputation and back story here would have easily made him a lot more long-term cash on endorsements and the like. In New York, he's just another ballplayer. Here, he was Caveman Johnny, the "idiot" who helped Boston win their first World Series in 86 years.

There's a definite difference in value between the two.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

One less reason to listen to the radio

Air America cancelled "Morning Sedition", which was, in my opinion, the best morning show left on radio. Growing up in the New York area, you were either a Stern guy or an Imus guy, and I was an Imus guy so Stern's never been an option for me. And Imus has lost his edge entirely, so I don't really listen to him anymore. All the other local morning folks are paleolithic right-wingers, so listening to them only pisses me off. Morning Sedition was perfect - the hosts played well off one another, the interviews were well-done, and the comedy bits were either funny funny or stupid funny - either way, I'd laugh at them.

Of course, since I like it the show had to go. Now the only things I have to listen to outside of sports talk are Stephanie Miller and Al Franken (and Franken isn't as good without Katherine Lanpher as his co-host). The only bright spot is that Mike Adams (who has deserved a full-time radio gig for years), finally got the nighttime spot vacated by the excruciating Ted Sarandis (good riddance!).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The warm orange glow, the BackUPS beeping...

As I sat in my chair, working on a minor issue for a customer, I suddenly noticed that the UPS units in my home office (I have three of 'em) started beeping like mad, and there was a bright orange light in my window. The lights in my room were flickering.

This couldn't be good.

I looked out the window, and burning like a flare was the top of the utility pole across the street. A distribution unit had blown out and was on fire, sparking and sputtering, lighting up the whole neighborhood. We were basically down half of our 200 amp service so far, with the remainder flickering on and off. I shut down the UPS units, calling 911 as I did so - they quickly got me to the fire department and as I reported it I heard them heading out already. Within a couple of minutes, a ladder truck, two police cruisers, and a National Grid (the electric utility) were already on my street. The firefighters just watched, and soon left - it was out of their area of expertise. The police blocked off the end of the street and let the lineman work.

First, he headed down to the other end of the street to cut power to the whole line. Then he cut it at my end as well. Meanwhile, the fire burned out and the failed unit (estimated by the lineman to be about 50 years old) fell to the ground in glowing pieces. He went up in his bucket truck and within 15 minutes had replaced the failed unit with a brand new one, and made all the cable repairs.

The entire incident, from the first flames to restored power, lasted less than an hour. In freezing weather on a Wednesday night. Those guys are good.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A sad day for overeaters

I just read in today's Globe that Jan Companies (the local franchiser) closed their Saugus and Medford Krispy Kreme locations for good yesterday. I know they closed their Prudential Center one earlier this year. So if you're a fan (I like them OK, but mainly I've bought them as gifts for the local Apple Store folks), you'll have to go to Dedham at the closest for your fix.

Meanwhile, Dunkin Donuts continues its reign over New England virtually unopposed...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Triumph at last!

Jane went out for dinner with a couple of friends tonight, so I'm home with David. After dinner, he walked into the other room, and then while I was on the phone with a customer who called, he called me into the bathroom for help - when I arrived, he had his pants and pull-up on the floor and he was climbing on the toilet...

And proceeded to drop a Nixon! Hooray!

I helped him clean up and told him how splendid he was. This was the first voluntary Nixon he'd ever done (the other two were through trickery on our part), and he was very pleased with the result. Maybe showing him last night how the toilet worked helped his decision today.

We'll be leaving the diaper bag home forever Real Soon Now!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Why I prefer arguing politics on my blog...

When you argue via a blog, you can actually use facts. It's nicer than simply working with dogma, which is what most right-wingers are doing. When I argue in person, my BS detectors get blown clean off by the lack of reality I'm typically countered with. And that just turns me, a normally articulate individual, into a stuttering fool.

This is how right-wingers argue so well on radio and television. Those of us who are in the "reality-based community" just have few effective counters for absolute howlers. We're better in print.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hello, Mouse


So Thanksgiving morning dawned, after three days of working nearly non-stop. I was up and showered by 5AM, so we could get the family assembled and on a handy JetBlue flight to Orlando - where we stayed until yesterday morning. The trip was the idea of Jane's folks, who assembled the entire extended family at Disney for the holidays.

Unfortunately, they did so without consulting me first - they originally booked us to go down there the Saturday before Thanksgiving and to spend the week. See the first sentence for the problem with that.

Once we straightened out that dilemma, the trip was nice. It was really our first vacation in almost two years. We arrived Thursday mid-day, and after picking up a rental car and checking into the hotel (the World Center Marriott), we joined her parents and her sister's family over at Disney-MGM that afternoon. Thanksgiving dinner was at one of the theme restaurants, and we stayed to do a few activities and see the evening show of Fantasmic. Which was spectacular, even if the middle part terrified David.

Friday morning we went onto the Disney grounds to go to Shades of Green - the military resort. Jane's dad (US Naval Reserve, Ret.) was able to get everyone heavily discounted Disney passes there, and we added one day to ours. After dropping them off, we went back and spent the afternoon at Epcot. Unfortunately for me, I was coming down with a cold by then that lasted the rest of the trip. But we had fun there, took lots of pictures, went on some rides, and David got to see the huge Finding Nemo-themed exhibit. That night we all ate together in the hotel, as her family was leaving the next morning.


So on Saturday we took Jane's parents to the airport (her sister's family had left a couple of hours earlier), and then continued on to see KSC over at Cape Canaveral. It was a pretty easy drive over, and David was fascinated by the tour. The KSC operation for tourists is now run by Delaware North (the company that owns the Boston Garden and Bruins), so it was all expensive and the food sucked. But we enjoyed the NASA parts and the bus tour. For the money, we should... We did a leisurely drive back that evening, and drove the International Drive "strip", to see all the neon.


And Sunday was dedicated to the Magic Kingdom. We were there from opening to nearly closing, David did plenty of rides, and we got to do a decent buffet breakfast that featured all the Pooh characters. Overall, the day was a hit. And we were back on the ground in Boston by 12:30 yesterday (and I was back in my office by 3).

Overall, it was a neat trip, though I learned a few lessons. First is to use a stroller every day. Carrying David on my shoulders got old real fast, especially with a cold. Each Disney park is pretty darned big. Also, take advantage of their Fastpass system when you want to do a ride. It really simplifies things. The rides themselves are actually pretty short - at least all the ones that queue up without taking passes. Allow at least a day per park if you're into rides.

And the biggest thing I learned is that going with a 3 1/2 year old is fun, but it'll be even better in a couple more years when he's less limited as to what rides he can go on and fully potty-trained. Carrying a diaper bag really slows things down.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Pseudo-random notes

First of all, there is no grand conspiracy to remove Christmas from our culture, despite what the Fox News jackasses would have you think. The linked article does a wonderful job of explaining why. And as somewhat of a secular humanist myself, let me go on record as saying no religious holidays bother me one bit. Don't make me celebrate them, but other than that I couldn't care less.

The simple reason that many stores and businesses advertise "holiday greetings" and the like? It's good for business and more inclusive - after all, most businesses don't just cater to evangelical Christians. They also sell to Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and members of all sorts of faiths (or none at all) who don't celebrate Christmas. It's really a no-brainer, which is exactly what most of the conspiracy theorists suffer from.

So after this week's Skins Game (one of the only two golf events I watch each year, including the Masters), there is officially no sporting event worth watching on TV other than football. The winter Olympics won't do too much for me, and given the disarray in Fenway, I'm not exactly waiting eagerly for Spring Training. Even NASCAR, my TV sport to watch when there's nothing else to watch, is now over for the year until Daytona - I think that's some time in February. By the way, Tony Stewart won the points title and the race today was pretty dull until the final two laps. Great finish, though, with Greg Biffle winning by a hood length over Mark Martin.

Actually, a slight addendum - I'll probably watch the BCS bowl games.

Day 2 A.N. (After Nixon) had some moments of promise, but was overall disappointing. I won't give details.

A new Treo firmware update is due RSN, according to the TreoCentral boards. I may not wait for the Cingular-sanctioned version and go straight to the ROW (Rest Of World) image when it's released - after unlocking my Treo a couple of weeks ago it shouldn't be an issue.

Finally for now - the new driveway was finished this morning and looks fantastic.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Were this baseball, he'd be an All-Star

This morning, after a 2-day-long battle, I tricked David into finally leaving a Nixon (apologies to Kinky Friedman) in the potty. He had made the mistake of telling us he'd gone in his diaper way too soon, so when I zipped into his room this morning to check he hadn't actually parted with said Nixon yet. I rushed him into the bathroom and, before he knew what was happening, he had dropped it into the correct place. Finally.

Of course, he made up for it by dropping two subsequent ones in his pull-ups as the day went on. So he only went 1-for-3, great baseball numbers but not so good for dropping deuces. It was One Of Those Days.

In work news, my bookkeeper began working on Friday - I was worse than I hoped, but not nearly as bad as I expected. I walked in to the office this morning to find things fairly organized and two bills waiting for me to print and mail the checks. And while I was there, a customer payment arrived so I could deposit it properly. I like being organized, and it's worth some money to do it right.

And finally, our newly rebuilt driveway is almost complete. We widened it slightly a couple of years after moving in - now it's being done right and re-graded as well. No more scraped doors, bottoming out, or muddy shoes from the puddles that used to form on the edges. It's all brick and really nice-looking.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

RIP, Eddie

"Eddie sucks!"

That chant in arenas around the land was the ultimate tribute to Eddie Guerrero, who passed away this morning in his hotel room in Minneapolis, four years into sobriety and one of the most consistently brilliant performers in the pro wrestling business. Eddie usually worked as a heel, but was so talented that the fans would never let him stay heel for long - and the "Eddie sucks" was how they'd respond to a particularly outrageous stunt - usually mixed in with a healthy dose of laughter. Eddie worked a lucha style, and though he was a smaller man (only about 5'8"), he could mix it up with the big men as well as the cruiserweights. Eddie even held WWE's Heavyweight title for four months last year - the first Latino to be given the ball like that in this era with one of the major companies. And he did a great job in the run as well.

This year, after a recent heel turn ended (a nearly 5-month feud with Rey Mysterio Jr.), he was working his way back to full babyface status in a main event feud with current champ Dave Batista. In fact, tonight he was supposed to be in a taping for SmackDown! (his show) with a three-way title match.

But after arriving last night with his nephew (and fellow performer) Chavo, he checked into his hotel and never left. Eddie left a wife and three daughters. He was only 38, and will be missed by his family, his friends, his peers in the industry, and his fans, of whom I was one. His final performance was on SmackDown! this past Friday night. Its on my TiVo - I haven't watched it yet.

Because when I do, it'll be like saying goodbye. Vaya con Dios, Eddie.

Friday, November 11, 2005

I need a nap

I just finished what was a pretty busy week, capped off with two days of heavy traveling and a lot of on-site hours. During the course of the week, I also removed three more Windows systems from the computing universe (two yesterday and one today), all replaced by Macs. Whoo! David's been nursing a cold, and with the holiday today neither he nor Jane left the house today. He skipped his nap but passed out for the evening a little after 7 today. That should let him catch up on his rest. I'm next.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

See what I meant?

Now, even the Colts finally won a game at Foxboro. The good news is that next year should be a major step back up.

Busy week yet again for me. I'm on the road every day this week, and a couple of those are quite long. This is being posted during a brief break before I head to Boston, where I'll spend the afternoon. Jane has been at a sales meeting in New York, and my folks were up here, helping with David. All has been mostly well, with the exception of David's terrifying plunge down the stairs yesterday - he was racing down too fast with Brown Bear in his hand and wound up sliding half the staircase down on his back. Thankfully he was fine afterwards - just terrified and now extra cautious on the stairs. The message we'd been pounding into him about being careful finally hit home.

On the bright side, potty training appears to have turned the corner. For two days in a row he's kept his pull-ups dry all day, even asking to go potty once while my folks had him yesterday afternoon. And he woke up dry yesterday (no such luck today, but it wasn't much). Those of you without kids: trust me, this is a Good Thing.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

News Update

The Pats won, 21-16. Good for them. But they're still not the team to beat this year. The one thing they have going for them, though, is that the AFC East is pretty weak. They may make the playoffs, even. But don't start looking for scalped Super Bowl tickets yet.

That's a long way off.

I've just puzzled something out...

I just realized that the Patriots are just not that good a team this year, and there's virtually no chance that they will repeat as Super Bowl winners. Now I can just relax for the rest of the season.

The old Patriots would have used Tedy Bruschi's return tonight as a reason to just steamroll the hapless Bills. Last years' team would have won by something like a 42-3 score and made it look even easier. Now, with the main offensive and defensive signal callers gone, it's a little more difficult to keep things in order. This year, the injury bug has finally caught up with them. Playing two rookies on Tom Brady's blind side is getting him sacked more, forcing fumbles more, and causing Brady to suffer the occasional burst of Happy Feet - the same affliction that bedeviled his predecessor. Losing the reliable David Patten to free agency and losing much of Troy Brown to age has hurt the receiving corps, Corey Dillon isn't as effective with the revamped line and the vaunted tight ends they have are ineffective as receivers because they've had to primarily worry about staying in to block.

The defense has been shredded by injury. Ty Law is gone, a Jet now, Ty Poole is lost to an ankle injury, and Rodney Harrison was more important than anyone even realized. Besides that, both Richard Seymour and Jarvis Green have been hampered by injuries. Bruschi may be back, but that doesn't go far enough to patch the holes. And so far, the new faces on the defense have been a major disappointment. I thought Starks was supposed to be a shut-down cornerback?

Special teams has also been mistake-prone, giving up way too many big gains on returns, and the whole team has been penalty-prone. Just an off-year. As I type this (with about 6 minutes left), The Pats are making a run at things. Rosey Colvin just made a big play on defense, The Pats now just took the lead back on 2 plays after the turnover, and they may actually beat the Bills today. Good for them. But they should have decimated them - and this is a bad Bills team. They're still my beloved Pats, but if I'm right and they don't win their third in a row, I sure as heck won't be bitter about it.

Just make the right moves for next year, and all will be well...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Wild, The Innocent, and the iPod Shuffle

I just bought an iPod Shuffle tonight - we had to go down to Staples this evening for a couple of things Jane needed for work. Well, I had in my pocket a $12 rewards check, plus I had a 12% off anything (but computers and phone cards) coupon that they'd e-mailed me. Combine that with spotting a sign on the counter advertising HP iPod Shuffles (1GB) for $99, and I figured I'd be silly not to snag it. My net price for what is essentially a 1 GB flash drive that just happens to play music as well - $76. Way better than the $129 it normally sells for. I don't need another iPod (my 40GB 4th gen. iPod is just fine, plus it still has a Firewire interface, which the new ones lack), but I can always use another flash drive - they come in handy. And $76 is a pretty good price for one. I feel clever, indeed.

Besides that, today was fairly relaxing for the most part. We took David in to Boston in a driving snow (in October?) to go to the New England Aquarium (we're members), and had a nice lunch at the nearby Legal first. Yum. There's nothing better than eating fish right before you go see them. Anyhow, his favorite part (besides the jellyfish), was seeing a penguin poop in the water as it swam away from one of the trainers.

Nothing like being three.

On a related note, he was able to go potty four times, with only one wet pull-up. That may be a record. He tried to imitate the penguin on the potty (this is a euphemism - he actually did this before we went out today), but was unsuccessful. However, he was able to fill the pull-up nicely about 1/2 hour later and told me so.

So the overall success/failure ratio for the day was 4/2. but the 2 was a 2. We're on the right track, though. The evening was fairly trying - napless boys tend to cause trouble.

At work I'm in the middle of yet another extremely busy period. I've picked up a few new clients, mostly smaller ones, and I have three confirmed Xserve deployments between now and Thanksgiving. With one more likely in both December and January, minimum. With that I've made the tentative decision to go ahead and outsource my bookkeeping, probably around mid-month when I start my next billing cycle. It's just become too complex for me to handle solo, and since I'll be in a tax-positive situation along with preparing to (hopefully) expand, I need to make sure it's done right - and I don't trust myself to handle that.

Back around the beginning of this year, I was offered the opportunity to buy a competitor's business, and I walked away when it became obvious to me that my picture of the business's value would be far from what the other person thought it should be. With the passing of time, I'm even happier I made that decision, because I would not have been able to handle that volume at the time. Now that I'm growing there on my own, I feel a lot more comfortable.

There you go - a fourfer to finish the week. Tech toys, family fun, potty talk, and business development. I may not have to post for another week!

Friday, October 28, 2005

The good, the bad, and the potty

Here's the interesting thing about David's budding potty habits: he will typically go without complaint - but many mornings when he gets up he refuses to go and has a huge tantrum over it. Other than in the morning it's not typically a problem, and he's getting better at it as well. Our one friend is lobbying heavily for us to just go straight to regular underwear (and stop using pull-ups), but we're very reluctant to take that risk in our house. So far it hasn't really motivated him and just creates more mess.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Spam tales

Due to a convergence of factors, my home e-mail account has been rendered nearly useless by spam. I came up with a (more or less) solution, and I'm posting it later today over on The LANtern, which is BNUG's technical newsletter/blog that we started back up this past spring after a long hiatus from the print days. Look for it by this evening.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Weekend anecdote

As mentioned a couple of posts ago, we went to Rochester last weekend. What I forgot to tell folks was my goof associated with it - it's kind of inevitable that something always gets forgotten when packing. Well, this time it was two things. First, we forgot to pack any extra wet wipes, so we ran out Saturday morning and Jane picked up some more. But that's not the major one.

Saturday morning, I woke up, showered, and got dressed - only to find out that I'd packed everything but underwear. So after reluctantly recycling, we looked for a store I could get a pack at on the way over to my sister-in-law's house - no luck, so after dropping Jane and David off I zoomed off in the opposite direction towards where I knew there were a lot of big box stores. The only problem was the first one I found was a Wal-Mart, which I despise. But I sucked it up and picked up a pack of good old briefs.

I needed some new ones anyhow. But it was one of those goofy things.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

This week's Apple goodies

I didn't watch video from the announcement today, but here's my initial take on the upgrades:

- PowerBook G4: Nice, but obvious. Better resolution is pretty spiffy, faster drives and DDR2 support nice, and the claimed battery life improvement will be slick as well. Unfortunately there's no speedbump - I was hoping for another minor clockspeed improvement (to, say, 1.8 GHz or so). And that will be the end of the G4-based PowerBook line forever (most likely) - they're pretty much the first systems slated for an Extreme Intel Makeover.

-PowerMac G5 (Dually). OK - by switching to the dual-core G5 chip they can get a more powerful box with less cost. Nice. The PCI Express makeover is slick, too. But the new dual processor, dual-core version at the high end is pretty danged sweet - dually duallies are going to rock, even at the slightly reduced clock speed. I'm liking that a lot.

- Aperture: This week's "One More Thing(tm)", Aperture sounds like a nice addition to the pro photography toolset - but not a true Photoshop competitor. Which is good for now - pissing off Adobe is not a bright idea in the middle of a delicate processor transition. It's definitely a shot across their bow, though, and a warning to not drop the ball over the next year or so.

So now since July the whole Apple line has been refreshed - unless Apple drops a bombshell at January MacWorld Expo and announces Intel machines early, there will be at best minor tweaks to the line over the next 6-8 months. Maybe the duallies will find their way into Xserve soon, but I wouldn't bank on it. Enjoy!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Minor drawbacks

I've seen some more info on the new iMac models - there are two drawbacks to the design as far as I can see. Not issues for the average consumer, but some folks will be bumming.

1 - The display stand can no longer be removed and replaced with a VESA wall mount.

2 - Most of the iMac's insides are no longer designed to be user-serviceable. There's only one memory slot, though there is 512MB built-in (I'm not sure if it's soldered on or if it's just a hidden DIMM slot inside). However, I don't think it has an effect on the G5's ability to run a wide memory pipeline because the new iMac uses DDR2 memory instead of regular PC3200.

Side note: I think Apple's using a new chipset on this iMac (I haven't seen the developer note yet, but since it supports both DDR2 and PCI Express, that is almost certainly the case). If so, that means this Wednesday's Apple announcement will all but definitely feature a new G5 tower with the same capabilities. I'm also expecting the PowerBook upgrades to be announced either this week or right afterwards. Mac OS X 10.4.3 should also be released shortly as well.

Travel week

I took off most of Friday - we had to drive out to Rochester for the 1st communion of my sister-in-law's middle child (Jane's his godmother). So we hit the road around 10, and drove through pretty steady rain the whole way. Bleh. Traffic wasn't too bad, though, except for a 1/2 hour backup coming out of the Berkshires - a truck had augured in to the hillside near Exit 2 and was being hauled out, blocking a lane off. It was pretty spectacular.

As for the weekend itself, it was something of a blur. We were able to get adjoining rooms at the local Courtyard hotel - David had his first solo king-size bed. And it was affordable because we got an employee discount through our friend. Friday night we unpacked at the hotel, then arrived at our sister-in-law's around 5:30-ish, just in time for the pizza that was ordered for everyone. And David played until the wee hours with his cousins, who all collectively have a mutual admiration society when they're together - especially David and his slightly older cousin Caitlin. We made it back to the hotel around 10 and David was quick to sleep. Jane went and hung out with him for a while that night.

I got to skip much of the Saturday fun - thanks to my brother-in-law. He had a tee time at his club, and I went for my final round of golf for the year (only three times out after June 20th, which is just sad). Penfield Country Club is a nice place to play a round. I won't get into my score, other than to say that I had three bogeys and otherwise hope Chris managed to lose the scorecard. That night was another late one - we all made it back to the hotel well after 10.

Finally, Sunday came and we made it to the church on time. The whole event went off well (I think - being that I'm not even vaguely Catholic I'm not sure on the details), and David behaved better than Jane and I expected. I still had to take him out a couple of times, but since one of those was to go potty it's not bad.

(Potty training has been a two steps forward - one step back kind of deal so far. Right now we're in one of the steps back...)

We went back to the house for a while, and were on the road again in our travel clothes by 3. The drive back was lightning-fast - I only stopped twice briefly (once for gas, once for munchies), and other than a little rain near Syracuse and more going over the Berkshires the weather was cooperative. We made it home around 9:45 that night.

Of course after that I had a real busy work day, and I'm utterly exhausted, but that's besides the point.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

More goodies from Apple

So I spend a couple of days debilitated by a nasty GI bug, only to wake up today all bright-eyed and back to normal, and with an Apple product announcement awaiting me. Cool. Because I was so busy traveling across the globe today (Beverly-Cambridge-Saugus-Peabody-Essex-Gloucester-Gloucester-Essex-Beverly-home), I only read the recaps and spec info - I'm going to watch the stream later. A Steve presentation is always a trip. But here's the basic gist of things, followed by my take:

- iPod: gone. Replaced by a newer, thinner iPod in two capacities (30GB and 60GB), with longer battery life, a bigger screen, thinner size, and - oh yeah - video playback capability along with an Apple-provided remote. Now in either black or white (like the nano) New prices: $299 and $399.

- iTMS: Now supports video - music videos, Pixar shorts, and plenty off ABC/Disney TV shows, all for $1.99. Standard FairPlay restrictions apply. Also a few new features to the iTMS as well.

- iMac G5: Now thinner, with slightly higher speeds (1.9 and 2.1 GHz), DDR2 RAM support, PCI Express video via ATI chipsets, Bluetooth 2.0 (I forget, but 2.0 might also be in the last generation of them, too - I'll check mine at some point), and both a clip-on Apple Remote (see the iPod stuff above) and an integrated iSight camera with some new software. They removed the modem and made it a USB add-on. Same price for the 17" model ($1299), but $1699 for the new 20" model is a little cheaper.

- eMac: Dead. Still available for the short term, but only to educational institutions.

What's slick about these announcements? Apple increased the value of the "classic" iPod, lowered the effective price, and made the video functionality a neat add-on rather than the only reason to own it. If anything, it should build upon the old version's sales. The iTMS video store is obviously a work in progress, with only Disney on-board (and you know the reason they signed was to try and sweet-talk Jobs into a new distribution deal for Pixar - big bucks are at stake). But it's a great way for Apple to dip their toes in the video market, a good starting point to determine if digital movie distribution is viable, and it's at virtually zero risk. The iPod will sell like hotcakes, regardless, and if the videos don't sell Apple can just de-emphasize them. The new iMac G5 was a surprise, but a nice one. It replaces a version that was a pretty good value already, and only four months old to boot (I've only had mine about a month). It's an even better buy - especially the 20" model. The eMac won't be too missed - not many folks have been interested in them of late anyways, and the mini is a better value with a third-party LCD for most users who want a budget Mac. The eMac was originally developed for the EDU market, and it returns there for now.

The only major negative I see in the new iPod is for the diehard Mac user - the iPod no longer includes FireWire support. Only USB 2.0. Which makes no difference for the typical user, especially a Windows one. But FireWire hard drives have one handy capability you don't get in a USB 2.0 drive on the Mac - you can boot from a FireWire hard drive. My existing 40GB iPod, for instance, has about 12GB of music on it, plus a fully bootable copy of Mac OS X and the install image to reinstall to any Mac if needed. It was a great tool to have. While far smaller and cooler, the new iPods won't be able to do that kind of double-duty anymore. So sad.

Still to come from Cupertino? Sometime real soon there should be one final PowerBook revision as the pre-Intel speedbump. I was kind of expecting it today - instead look for a quiet announcement in the next couple of weeks as likely. PowerMacs will also get another rev pretty soon. That one may be played up a little more, depending on what Apple is going to put under the hoods. I figure if they haven't announced it by the first week of November it won't be out until 2006. They aren't nuts about any product updates in the November-December timeframe.

Friday, October 07, 2005

One of these days...

Eventually I am going to re-do this blogsite with a new template and heavy customizations.

Right after the MacArthur committee shows up with the grant money. That could buy me the time.

Oh well.

I'm going to be a typical provincial New Englander (credit to the departed Ted Sarandis for the concept - even though I couldn't stand him and I'm glad he's off the air) and say that I no longer have any rooting interest in the playoffs. Other than to see the Yankees lose too, I hope.

This team simply was not built to win in the playoffs. It's a credit to Terry Francona that they were able to hold together well enough to tie in the East and make it in the first place, but you don't win in the postseason without big studs in the rotation. And we lacked them this year. Maybe Schilling is back at 100% next season - that'll go a long way towards helping. But with Matt (Young) Clement as an anchor they aren't going too far. David Wells was effective, but he'll be 43 next year, and unless you're Roger Clemens time eventually wears you out. Wells showed signs of that this year.

On the bright side - Jonathan Papelbon is the real deal. I expect him in the rotation. Craig Hansen may well make us not miss Keith Foulke (look for him to go away somehow next year), but may also need a little more minor league time first. Manny Delcarmen should stay as a reliable setup man, and Lenny DeNardo showed signs of making The Leap. He could be pretty versatile, too. Add a solid starter in free agency, and we should be OK in the pitching department.

On the field is another story. Kevin Millar is almost certainly gone. Edgar Renteria was OK (despite the 30 errors), but not worth the $10 million he's getting. Please don't trade Manny in the offseason, re-sign Damon, and keep Mueller if you can sign him for fairly short money. Put Youkilis at first, and hang on to Tony Graffanino (I'm not sure what his contract status is). Offense wasn't the team's weak point this year, pitching was. Losing Millar's $3 million and replacing it with the short money Youkilis gets frees up some money for pitching (or re-signing Damon).

The Sox were playing with house money this year, and they still made it to the playoffs despite a ravaged rotation and no bullpen. Not bad for a year's work.

Monday, October 03, 2005

How to be a moderate success in the tech biz

1: Do what you say you're going to do.
2: Keep your enemies close - keep your friends closer.
3: Don't make excuses.
4: Not every thing you try works - be prepared to do a full post-mortem on the things that fail.
4 (a): the experience will help you figure out what you did wrong in the first place.
4 (b): And hopefully you won't make the same mistake again.
5: Love what you do. It helps.
6: Fish where the fish aren't - because in the IT consulting business there's a lot more mediocre consultants competing with you in most markets. I do a lot of Apple work - there's not that many fish, but even fewer fishermen chasing them.
7: Learn, learn, learn!
8: In a related vein, try and dogfood as much as you can in your practice. It's a lot easier for you to support it if you use it yourself.
9: Remember, 99% of your clients don't speak your tech language - nor do they want to. Speak to them in English, even if you have to over-simplify. If they want more detail, they'll let you know.
10: Customers are customers. Computers are computers. Both big words that start with "C", but you can bend a computer to your will if you want to. You can't do that with a customer, nor should you. Keep that in mind.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Things

I hope I'm wrong, but I think the Sox are done. Like I said a few days ago, they may hold off the Yankees (I won't count on it), but they just plain don't have the horses right now to get it done. Nixon, Damon, and Varitek are hurting, Kapler is out, Renteria has fallen apart both in the field and at the plate, and their pitching is a wreck. Tim Wakefield and Bronson Arroyo are pitching great, but otherwise you have no idea what you'll get from a starter, Miller was a bust and will be going back under the knife, and Foulke is probably done. On the bright side, Manny has been solid, Ortiz amazing, and Timlin has been a rock in the bullpen - and the two kids (Papelbon and Delcarmen) have shown signs of being the future. I'll be happy if we get anything more from this team, but I'm looking forward to seeing them next year.

The Pats finally lost a game. Go figure. I commented a little yesterday, but the shock is still fresh.

In a non-sports note, if you happened to watch SmackDown by accident this past Friday (they changed the night), Ken Kennedy is going to be the next huge star if they handle him right. He's got ring skill, intensity, he's brilliant on the mic, and he just oozes charisma. Kennedy and John Cena can be the future of the company if they do it right - but Cena needs to step down from the top spot for a few months and work on his ring skills. He can still have a good match with the right opponent (which is probably why he's working a program with Kurt Angle - Angle could make me look good in the ring), but his matches have become way too predictable and the crowd backlash is starting to mount.

Completely unrelated - my favorite webcomic (MegaTokyo) has finally started to advance the plotline after meandering for about a year. This is good. Even when it sucks, MegaTokyo is still a terrific piece of work, but right now it's getting good again.

I have a fairly busy week through Thursday, then a possible all-day job on Friday that I'll need to confirm in a couple of days. If all goes well, I can take a couple of days off next week.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

If an office supply chain falls down

...and nobody cares, does it matter?

Seriously, I'm jotting this quickie just before going to bed because I just read that Office Depot announced they were going to close 27 stores (16 here, 11 overseas). The announcement was made five days ago, but hardly anyone noticed. Basically, ever since the aborted merger quite a few years ago, they've been Staples' bitch, anyways. They already pulled out of the northeast once, realized it was a mistake, and then got back in too expensively by buying a bunch of Toys R Us' locations. They bought a bunch of low-end Internet retailers to get into tech sales. They're wasting money on NASCAR sponsorship when the target audience doesn't really match up (though Office Depot is strongest in the South).

Basically, they haven't got a clue, and are a weak #3 in a market where Staples has busted it open and OfficeMax is picking up the scraps.

Scratch one reader...

As of today, I will no longer be making sure to check the New York Times' website every morning. They have now taken all their op-ed content and locked it behind a $50/year gateway called Times Select - although they've added some incentives I don't find them valuable enough to justify $50 just to see the op-ed and sports columns. I fully expect readership to decline somewhat as a result, even if revenue starts to go up. The shame of it is that most columns are about a paper's trying to extend their voice and influence to a wider sphere - the nitty-gritty of news coverage is what I think would drive subscriptions.

If anything, going to this model is likely to weaken the Times' voice right when it needs to be heard loudest. The paper of record may not be such much longer.

Sports report

What a day. I've obviously lost all my ability to pick NFL games - had I gone the exact reverse of all my picks I might have won the Newsguy pool this week. It was that bad. Then the Sox got slaughtered (at least the Yankees lost too), and the immensely annoying Ryan Newman won the NASCAR race up in Loudon today. At least the race had some entertaining moments and temper flare-ups - the baseball game lacked any excitement and the Pats game only had the Vrabel interception return as a highlight moment. Belichick was curiously sloppy, failing to challenge on the 1st quarter Davis touchdown that was actually a fumble, and the Brady fumble that might have been an incompletion. Surprising. Even the Pats have to be human on occasion, though.

Busy week coming up, in week 1 of "no minivan warranty" world (I hit the magic number on the way to brunch at Flynnie's today). I will be doing some local stops during the week, along with trips to Boston, Norwood, and Stoneham before the week is up. If all is well, I should be able to take a day or two off the following week (I was originally planning to go on vacation then), but who knows at this point?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Torn

Under the original plan, I should have been asleep by now. However, for the second year in a row there's a tropical storm passing by the area as our bikes are supposed to be heading towards P-town. This year, though, we have a rain date scheduled - in the event of rain Saturday the event is supposed to be held Sunday.

The problem seems to be logistics, though. If it were me running the ride, it would be a no-brainer - cancel Saturday and ride Sunday. Simple enough. But there's also a whole bunch of festivities planned for Provincetown Saturday night and Sunday morning, plus many of the riders have rooms rented for the night out there. So they've come up with a mediocre solution: unless the weather is truly horrid, they plan to ride anyway in the morning, and just ride to the foot of the Cape (about 60 miles), then bus out to Provincetown and have the festivities on schedule. If the weather is still bad in the morning, that will be cancelled and replaced with a ride from Provincetown back to Bourne (68 miles) on Sunday morning at 11. I don't like it when people start tinkering with contingency plans. If it's raining Saturday you ride Sunday. Period. That's why you call it a "rain date".

I don't think it's especially safe or smart to try riding in marginal conditions, and since Jane has to work regardless of whether I go or not, we need a babysitter if I go. If I go and the ride is cancelled until Sunday, then we still have a babysitter all day Saturday. I'm not planning on overnighting at any point, so I'm not going to gain any benefit by going to P-town to wait for Sunday.

So here's the call I made: I'm not riding tomorrow (as mentioned above) no matter what happens with the weather. If the ride is cancelled tomorrow, I will go out to Provincetown on the first Sunday morning ferry and ride back. If the ride isn't cancelled tomorrow, I just won't go. AIDS education, treatment, and prevention is a cause that is important to me, but my family comes first.

Besides that, it's been a heck of a busy week for me. I put in a full week at Adlife, took care of a few of my other customers during the week as well, and filled up my calendar for next week. Business is very good right now, and I'm very grateful for it.

When Gabe Kapler went down with his Achilles' injury a couple of nights ago, I mentally gave up on 2005 for the Sox. So I'm not bugged too much by their problems right now. There's just too many people hurt and just plain sub-par on that team for them to win another title, I think, even if they hold off the Yankees (who are winning with smoke and mirrors right now). 2005 is playing with house money right now, anyways. I think the likeliest outcome is that the Sox hold on to win the East, and go down in the ALCS.

Next year should be better regardless of what happens in the next few weeks - we will likely have a fully healed Schilling back, a (hopefully) re-signed Damon, and a healthy Miller (who has showed signs of getting his stuff back). The sticking point is Keith Foulke - part of me thinks that he basically used up his body last year and then used up his mind this year. And we're on the hook for two more years with him as well (or one and a buyout).

Monday, September 12, 2005

Busy me

I'm typing this as I prepare to go get lunch - I'm down in Norwood right now, on Day 2 of a stint that will take me through the entire week. I'm the fill-in sysadmin at the ad agency I used to work for, and I'm doing a lot of break-fix work. Tomorrow, though, I start my day at another client at 6:30 in the morning to help debug a NetWare backup issue before driving here, and then Wednesday afternoon I have to go to Boston to do a Mac install. Besides that, I have a BNUG meeting tomorrow night, and an orientation meeting Friday evening in Boston before Harbor to the Bay on Saturday.

But other than that, not too much... I got in a good training ride yesterday - about 56 miles or so (to Newburyport and back). And David is getting interested in potty use. So that's good, too. I'm pretty well booked through the end of the month for the most part, and that is the best part of all right now!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Nice Kit

iPod Nano - wicked freakin' cool. It'd be nice if it came in 4GB and 8GB versions instead of 2 and 4, but it's still a pretty darn good value despite that.

iTunes 5 - new skin. Meh. It's OK, I guess, but not as exciting as I would have liked in a full point release. I think the biggest argument for calling it iTunes 5 is that the previous version was 4.9.

Motorola ROKR phone. Nice. I'll stick with my Treo, though.

The Nano will sell like hotcakes and destroy what little part of the flash-based player market wasn't already owned by Apple with the Shuffle. My only disappointment is that there was no Shuffle upgrade as part of the announcements today - I was hoping to see a 2GB Shuffle hit the market. But that would have overlapped the low end of the Nano line, so I expect no upgraded Shuffle until bigger Nano models come out.

The interesting thing will be to see what Apple Expo Paris in two weeks brings (if anything) - Steve cancelled his planned keynote, so I think that there won't be any major hardware announcements. Maybe a PowerMac speedbump, or possibly the final PowerBook update before Intel models start shipping next year.

Or maybe nothing minor, either.

Monday, September 05, 2005

More milestones

Today was a big one - for the first time, David asked to go to the potty, and after a while he peed in it.

Better still - he wanted his seat put on the toilet instead of using the little potty - so I didn't have to clean up afterwards! A definite bright spot in a weekend otherwise filled with bad behavior. Maybe potty is the light at the end of the tunnel...

Saturday, September 03, 2005

A new era begins

With Chief Justice Rehnquist's passing, we enter a difficult time on the Supreme Court. Now a hard-right President gets to replace two justices in a span of only a few months - the key question here is whether he tacks a little towards the center with his next pick. If he announces a centrist appointment this week, it makes it all the more likely that Roberts sails through.

The big question is this: Sandra Day O'Connor turned into a pretty centrist justice during her 24 years on the Court. Slighly right-of-center, but generally supportive of precedent, supportive of individual rights, and supportive of privacy rights. Roberts is generally seen as more conservative than O'Connor was (based on what's known about him so far), but may not quite be the reliable right-wing vote that Rehnquist was. A Rehnquist court with Roberts on it probably breaks 5-4 in the other direction more often than it has, but if Rehnquist's replacement is more centrist than who knows?

Of course, knowing Bush, he'll probably appoint one of the far-right judges that didn't make the cut for the first vacancy. Or he'll hold off on an appointment until after the Roberts hearings are over. Because our President is not exactly known for making conciliatory centrist gestures now, is he?

On that note, it's sleep time - I've got a 40 mile bike ride waiting for me in the morning...

Friday, September 02, 2005

Waxing Philosophical

I'm personally pretty conservative in many of my views, though I refuse to impose them on others (which makes me a liberal by today's standards). I'm a capitalist through and through, despite realizing that supply side is a bunch of bunko. I'm an entrepreneur trying to build a company, and if it succeeds (so far, so good) I fully deserve all the rewards I earn. I believe in limited government, but I'm also a Democrat.

And watching New Orleans descend into "Lord of the Flies"-hood over the last few days has really made me think a lot about it all. The bottom line is this: I don't believe in socialism. I think government shouldn't be in the business of redistributing wealth. But I also think that the consequences of simply looking out for yourself are crystal-clear: when civilization goes away, the haves will inevitably get destroyed by the have-nots who resent and detest them.

Heck, in New Orleans the haves made it out of town for the most part. The ones who were foolish enough to stay are paying the price - when everyone else got flooded out of their homes and destroyed everything left standing.

I'm not saying that you should all go out and tithe your money to charity. But remember. What you do with your money, your life, and your planet just may come back and bite you in the ass if you don't keep your fellow humans and this planet in mind.

Just a thought.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

New Orleans

This week's disaster in New Orleans shows what can happen when you build a city below water level, add poorly maintained infrastructure, an indifferent federal government, insufficient resources and preparation, and a "party it out" mentality that arises in folks who are regularly threatened by major storms.

The solution? I'm not sure, but I think the smartest thing they could do is simply level the city and start over somewhere nearby that's above-grade. Call it "Newer Orleans" and let the original city's ruins stand as a monument to human hubris.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Weekend update

I wound up getting to take my day off on Friday for golf, which was nice. Since my team won the outing with a (for the outing) record 8 under score (59 on a par 67 course) it was even better. We had a nice evening out afterwards to boot, punctuated with a visit after dinner to my customer up in Manchester who had an iBook problem. I took it home with me, corrected it, and she came by Saturday afternoon to pick it up.

Saturday I had a nice 30 mile bike ride with Robert and one of his friends to prepare for Harbor to the Bay in three weeks, and yesterday the family went and played at the park for quite a while before the blah weather started to arrive. I'm stag most of this week - Jane and David left to head to New Jersey for a couple of days this morning, and I'm booked up most of the week while they're gone.

Mainly I expect to do some maintenance stuff while they're gone around the house. Last night the garbage disposal in our kitchen suffered a catastrophic failure, so the plumber is coming over at 1 to replace it and I have to finish cleaning up after it. Ah, glamour.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Chasing the little white ball

Whoo-hoo! I'm off tomorrow for a golf outing with my old co-workers!

Due to being wicked busy, I haven't played since the end of June, but no matter - it'll still be a lot of fun. Jane will be joining me tomorrow evening for the dinner afterwards, and thus is likely to end my golf season (I may get out a couple of times in September, but I'm not banking on it).

The four days I did work this week were very eventful. And I'm fully booked for three days already next week so far. I love my job!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Salmon Day

Today was one of those days. It started when I was on my bike ride this morning, and I broke a spoke out at the end of the Nahant causeway. I borrowed a passer-by's cell phone, and called Jane for a ride, but spent plenty of time waiting (like a schmuck, I neglected to bring money or my own phone along today - just my keys and some water). So that hosed much of my morning. Other than a nice interval doing some client work from around noon to 2, it was mainly "blah" all day. My highlight for today was getting a cable at Radio Shack tonight to re-feed my DVD input into the TV - I had to cannibalize my existing one yesterday to feed the new HDTV DVR box we got from the local cable monopoly. It's cool to finally see programming in 1080i, after having the HD set for nearly three years.

On the bright side, though, I got a copy of NASCAR 2003 Season for my Mac directly from Aspyr for only $10, and installed it over the weekend. Add one Logitech Momo Racing Wheel and it's a pretty darned cool game. The iMac G4 can easily keep up with the game even at full resolution - If I ever go to a G5 I can probably crank out sweet detail in the game. Cool stuff. I don't have the force feedback stuff quite worked out yet, though. And I didn't have time to play it at all tonight before David went to bed. It's way too loud for bedtime play.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Whizzing through life

David went potty at school yesterday. He's done it a few times (he refuses at home), but this is the usual pattern when I ask him:

Me: "David, did you go potty at school today?"

David (grinning): "Yeah"

Me: "Are you lying?"

David (grinning even bigger): "Yeah..."

But last night it was: "No! Miss Lindsay said she was very proud of me! I peed!"

So we praised the heck out of him, and this morning when I dropped him off his teacher confirmed it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Nice evenings defined

When I picked up David (a little late, around 5:20), we headed home and met up with Jane, who'd been home about an hour working down in her office. We all collectively decided to get out of the house. So we packed up and started the evening by going to the park with all our stale bread and the like (including some old cereal), and fed the ducks through a fence. They recently had babies. Cool.

That was followed up by some nice beach walking - Jane and David went wading in the surf looking for clams and hermit crabs while I went to find a new knuckle bandage (I'd chopped it open at the office today by accident and it popped again tonight - now I have to get the blood out of my shorts pocket. Yuck). We had to go down to the drugstore for more bandages, so as long as we were there we decided to skip dinner at home and head over to Whole Foods for supper instead. Jane had pizza - David and I had sushi. He loves it - ate almost an entire tuna roll and a piece of the California-style (inside-out, with avocado and sesame seeds) tuna roll that came with my sashimi plate. He even managed to pick up a couple of the pieces with his chopsticks.

We followed that up with a trip to the driving range for the whole family and we all hit golf balls. I haven't played since the end of June, but I was hitting pretty well. There's hope yet for me. When we got home, David took a shower, and then Jane went out to the car and got him his surprise - a huge pile of bubble wrap! There's nothing better when you're three - and we all got to pop some. It'll last a few days. There was that much.

I'll be heading to bed in a few minutes, because tomorrow will be a minimum of a three-stop day. Possibly even four. But tonight did a great job of charging my mental batteries to get ready for it.

Not a trouble-free day

I wound up spending the whole day in the office - the machines are kicking my butt today (it happens, though not often). I've been fighting with a spyware-infested Win2K PC that a person got to keep from his old employer a couple of years ago - except it still has corporate security policies applied, which keeps me from the easy fixes now. I have it flushed, but it won't load the desktop. I can launch any program through Task Manager, except IE - so I can't go out to the Net to do the repair. After trying everything else, now I'm building a custom install of IE6 through IEAK on my Mac (with Virtual PC), and I will copy the resulting install to a USB drive and then bring it over to try rebuilding IE.

Then, more importantly, one of my major accounts had a crisis this morning - yesterday's MS patches (the second Tuesday of the month is Patch Tuesday for Microsoft) broke their Win 2003 SBS server. I think it was the APC agent software that hung it - I worked around the problem today for them and prepped the fix for tomorrow, when their office will be pretty much down for vacations.

Meanwhile, tomorrow I need to arrange a memory purchase for one customer, install Office Pro for another, and set up a wireless printer for a workgroup up at a third. And finish both today's projects. Somehow, among all this I found the time to process two payments I got and write out four of my bills. I have a few more but I need to deal with some other things first. I believe my first company hire will be a good, reliable bookkeeping service - it's taking up way too much of my time nowadays to keep up on billing, collections, and paying the bills.

It's easy when you have few expenses and no customers, but that isn't my problem anymore. Thank goodness.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Look for a rule change next season

With only a few races to go until the "Chase for the Cup" begins in NASCARland, I'm expecting a change in the rules next year. Given that some of their most popular drivers (Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne) are out of contention under the current rules, NASCAR is faced with a potential lack of fan interest in the final 10-race run to the points championship.

The current rules say that the top 10 drivers plus anyone within 400 points of the leader qualify (everybody else keeps racing, but they aren't eligible for the overall championship). The rule was made after Matt Kenseth won in 2003, with the goal of making the race tighter. Unfortunately, it penalizes drivers who have a few bad races, or get knocked out by no fault of their own. It also takes away some incentive to try and win races for drivers in the front, because they get rewarded just for finishing.

SoI think next season the new rule will be: the top 10 in points, anyone within 400 points, and any driver who wins a race will be in the Chase. Interestingly, I picked the four drivers above as examples of popular drivers who are out of contention right now without looking at the standings or results for the year. Then, just for the heck of it I looked up the season results to-date - and all four of those drivers have won races and would be in the Chase under the rule change I just suggested (Gordon's won three races, the others one each). Consider this rule change a sure thing for 2006.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Career choices

David announced yesterday that he plans to be a doctor. This morning, I asked him whether he wanted to be a "kittycat doctor" (because he can't pronounce veterinarian) or a "people doctor", and he told me he wanted to be a people doctor.

So that's settled.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Mixed bag

First of all, let's hit Apple's product announcements from earlier today:

The Mac Mini and iBook lines both received upgrades today. There are now three base models of Mini - priced at $499, $599, and $699. The $499 model is unchanged, except for an upgrade to 512MB of RAM as standard. The $599 also gets the extra RAM, plus AirPort and Bluetooth are now standard as well. And the $699 model adds a SuperDrive to the mix. Nice incremental upgrade, but nothing major. I was kind of hoping Apple would also bump up the VRAM on the Mini series to 64MB, which would have made it a little better for low-to-mid level gaming. I don't think we'll see an explosion in Mini sales as a result of the upgrade, but it will improve the user experience for buyers. 256MB was woefully inadequate for running Mac OS X. And the low-end model includes a modem - but it is now an option on the two fancier models. So basically a modem was swapped for AirPort and Bluetooth.

The iBook now just consists of two base models. a 1.33 GHz 12" model, and a 1.42 GHz 14" model. AirPort and Bluetooth 2.0 are now standard, as are the scrolling trackpad and shock sensors from the PowerBook line. 512MB RAM is also standard across the line (the eMac is the only Mac left that ships with 256MB in any configuration), and the hard drive on the low-end iBook is now 40GB - an upgrade from 30GB. At $999 with all those features, the 12" iBook is now a pretty sweet value.

I think we'll see one more revision to each of those product lines along with the PowerBooks before the first Intel Macs start shipping next year. Expect a PowerBook tweak in a couple of months.

Now, for a quick visit to our home life, David is going through the "one step forward, two steps back" phase of development. On the plus side of the ledger, he's been learning to swim, and has gotten progressively braver in the water most days. He also is capable of drinking well from a normal cup, and we usually give him one at dinner. His tendency to destroy things is also down. And he now is getting to wear pull-ups ("underwear") during the day if he wants to. On the minus side, his table habits have gotten generally worse to the point where we have to threaten him with the baby seatbelt to get him to sit, he can be downright nasty verbally at times, and last night he pooped in the tub (which resulted in a one-day revocation of the underwear privilege).

It's called "being three", and he will outgrow it in a year or so. But it can be maddening at times.

In other home news, Gracie lost her final fang last week - she tried to follow Jane into the cellar, wandered up onto a ledge, and fell down, knocking it out. So she's going to have to rely on her claws to take out any mice that might come around. Our vet pulled the tooth Friday night - assuming it heals right it will be no biggie, but if it gets infected he'll have to go in for the root. It looks OK so far.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Also living in the "piece of crap" world

(a "Republicans suck" rant)

Welcome, Mitt Romney, to Craphood! Why? To commemorate your rushing down from vacation in New Hampshire to veto the "morning-after pill" law. Sure, the bill passed with a veto-proof majority. And sure, you let your lapdog of a Lt. Governor say that she'd sign it if it came up while she was watching the state for you. So the only reason you vetoed the bill was to make even more of a show come Republican primary season in 2008. Because it's going to pass with or without you - and you need to try and make a strong showing with the hard right because you'll probably get tossed out of office as a one-termer here. And losing a re-election bid doesn't look too good on the old Republican resume, bucko.

I've been asked to say something about the other crapmeister in the news, Karl Rove. I'm declining that one - partly because I don't want to get too worked up about that pasty bag of human garbage, and partly because so many others have ripped into him better than I ever could.

I've been a Libertarian for a number of years, and I still believe in libertarianism as my basic worldview. But the Republicans have led me to walk out of the only party I've ever bothered to belong to, and re-register as a Democrat. I may have to hold my nose a tad to do so, but though I'm not a huge fan of Democrats I despise the Republican Party, and I want to contribute what little I can to throwing as many of the bastards out of office as possible. Starting here, and hopefully eventually across the nation. In the spring of 2000, the right-wing activists that run the Republican Party made a choice in South Carolina that threw this country on a fast track to irrelevance. Between the Democrats and hopefully a few reasonable Republicans with cojones, maybe someday we can fix that.

ESPN sucks donkey 8@!!$

I was just getting ready to go home today (reasonably busy morning, and I booked some work for later in the week, too), and I decided to go to ESPN.com to see if the latest Peter Gammons report was online yet. It is, but only if you pay for their "Insider" subscription. Screw that. I'll even stop reading Simmons if they make it Insider content (the Simmons archive already is). Just for giggles, I reported it as a bug.

If you like to read sports columnists, Yahoo's Sports page has most of the good national non-ESPN columnists available online.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Busyness defined

Just to show you all how busy I have been:

Just a few minutes ago I changed my wall calendar's month page over to July. The date today is July 20th.

I should have waited another week and a half - then I could have skipped straight to August.

Keeping on clicking

I've added several new clients this week so far, which is terrific. I am also working on some issues with existing ones, and generally trying to keep all the balls in the air. So far, so good.

Last weekend I taught the first session at BNUG's Networking Fundamentals class, unfortunately I couldn't hang out for the whole day as David needed watching while Jane worked. On Sunday we had a bit of a neighborhood barbecue (us, and both families in the house next door), which David took as a major showing-off opportunity. He's been seriously testing the limits lately, and we've had some major behavior problems associated with it. We're starting to get into Iron Hand Of Discipline mode with him now, and are making some headway.

A "for instance": He was starting to really get impossible at the dinner table - refusing to eat or sit in his chair, insisting on having toys at the table, and throwing stuff. So one night after several warnings, I picked him up and strapped him into a baby seat that we had attached to another chair, then I put that at the table with him in it. After the screaming stopped, he then proceeded to actually eat his dinner. Now, he will usually sit through the meal, and ask to be excused when he finishes. He doesn't want to be back in the baby chair again - it wounds his pride too much to be in there.

Which is fine by us. It's non-violent, but it worked.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Vacation Summary

I'm posting all my material in stages, as time permits. First of all, as for the vacation: we had a lot of fun as usual. This time, David slept in the downstairs bedroom with his cousins the whole 4 nights we were in Cape May - and that represents the first time he has ever slept with anyone other than himself. He had a blast 3 of the 4 nights - on night 2, he woke up around 3AM kind of upset, and came up to stay with us. Which was OK since we had a king bed. The last two nights his cousin Caitlin (who is closest to his own age - 5 months older) stayed with them, too, which marked a similar milestone for her as well. Nice.

The fireworks were somewhat of a dud due to fog, but we made up for it with other activities. David spent 2 days at the beach, and the second day we got him into the water just a little bit. And then I put him up on my arm to carry out into the waves some distance. He thought it was cool until one nailed him in the head without warning, and then I had to take the crying boy back to shore. But he was wading again by the time we were ready to head back. And we also went to the Cape May County Zoo with him one afternoon (which, by the way, is a very good zoo), and he really liked it. Seeing a tiger close-up was very impressive.

Driving back in midweek was remarkably easy, which almost made up for the hellish drive down that Saturday. I hate the Garden State Parkway. With a passion. The drive down took nearly six hours, compared with just under 4 hours on the way back. And had I not detoured through Staten Island on the way down, it most likely would have been even longer.

If we go back next year, it will not be July 4th weekend anymore. Everybody agreed with that conclusion.

I haven't forgotten you all

I've just been pretty busy. If time permits, I'll post my promised stuff plus a MacWorld narrative later today or maybe tomorrow morning. For now, I'm on my way out to a client.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Redacted

In light of this morning's events, I've changed the title of my previous post (even though there's no chronological overlap). George Bush may be a war criminal, but that doesn't make the Bad Guys right. They all need to have intimate discussions with very large axes.

We still need to get out of Iraq - but as soon as we can find and kill every single would-be terrorist in there. Then let all the other parties fight it out.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The purge continues

The second wave of WWE releases hit today, and it's so ugly I'm not sure how much more I want to watch the product. Today's dumps were:

Joy Giovanni (generic "Diva", she mainly was noted for an overdeveloped pectoral region)
Kenzo Suzuki (and his "manager", Hiroko - a midcarder and comedy act)
Marty Jannetty (he was a big star in the early '90s with Shawn Michaels, and was recently re-signed)

Those weren't a big deal, but these were the ones that really grabbed me the wrong way:
Charlie Haas and Jackie Gayda - Haas was a gifted wrestler, and he and Gayda were recently married in real life.
Dawn Marie (yes, she's been off-air for a while, but she's pregnant, for crying out loud!)
Matt Morgan (one of the most promising big men they've had in a long time, saddled with a horrible stuttering gimmick)

And worst of all, they announced that the Dudleys would not be re-signed. And they're apparently bringing back Brock Lesnar on top of it. Horrible, horrible moves, besides the obvious knock of firing a pregnant woman (which, given the nature of a WWE performers' contract, is probably not cause for legal action, unfortunately). By dumping a total of 18 performers (and one announcer, Marc Lloyd, last week), they've made an emphatic statement about what direction they want to go in, and I don't like it one bit.

I may prattle on a little bit more later on about them, but for now I'll wrap up the vacation saga. We made it home about 5:45 today, after a little trouble due to weather at the end. I'll write up a little vacation highlight reel tomorrow or Friday, and hopefully post photos on my website over the weekend. We shot a lot of them.

The annual purge has begun

WWE dumped 8 wrestlers yesterday - it was a cruiserweight-happy purge, as Shannon Moore, Spike Dudley, Akio, and Billy Kidman were dropped along with Kevin Fertig, David Heath, Maven Huffman, and Mark Jindrak.

Just for historical purposes, Heath used the Gangrel vampire gimmick, and turned up for a couple of weeks as part of a storyline. I hadn't even realized he was still on the roster. Fertig made a brief appearance in the disastrous "Mordecai" gimmick (it was kind of a crusader deal), was sent back down to Ohio Valley, and never heard from again. Jindrak and Maven until recently were regulars on TV - Jindrak was just in the trade storyline, moving from Smackdown to Raw last week, and Maven was the first winner of WWE's Tough Enough competition (a legit reality battle for a contract), and had just had a pretty good heel turn earlier in the year before being dropped in the midcard.

As for the four smaller guys, Kidman's major distinction was being from my mother-in-law's hometown (Allentown, PA), and being Torrie Wilson's husband. He was a really good athlete who had no real personality and kept getting hurt. Losing Spike is a surprise - my guess is that he must have wanted to quit. He had a great gimmick, was incredibly popular with the fans, and probably wasn't making huge money. Moore was a FOM (Friend Of Matt), and since he had no real role other than jobbing, I'm guessing this means that Matt Hardy won't be back after all. And finally, dumping Akio was a big loss - he was a spectacular gymnast in the ring.

In real-world news, we're about to drive back from the Jersey shore, where we've been since last weekend. Traffic should be a tad better on this leg of the trip...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Minor mechanical issues

David went to our friend Lori's house after school today to play (her daughter is David's age). Jane dropped him off, then went to a hair appointment and came home - and once she got here we headed out to do a couple of errands and then pick him up.

So the main stop was the Liberty Tree Mall, where I had to go return a headset at Best Buy and Jane went to get some plastic travel bottles at Target. When we started the car up again, though, the headlights were dead. First "real" problem I've had with this car. After some fiddling, I found that the high beams still worked fine, so I switched them on for the remainder of the drive tonight. And now instead of getting up early for a bike ride, I have to get up early for a trip to the dealership. Hopefully it's just either the fuse or the switch (I checked the fuse, which appeared fine, but I couldn't tell for sure given the limited light). The parking lights and all the interior lamps are fine. Lacking sufficient outside lighting, I couldn't tell if the DRLs work or not, but I suspect not.

Fortunately the dealership has free WiFi, so I can at least be productive while I wait. They open at 7:30.

You Da Man!

This Monday, I played in the Beverly Chamber of Commerce's golf tournament, held at the Ferncroft Country Club in Middleton (before that, though, I had to make an emergency run to Gloucester to help a customer). It took me a while to get comfortable with my driver, but by the back nine, I was booming the drives way out there and helping the team make a brief run. I even reached the 500+ yard 18th green in two shots (305 drive, 205 from the fairway), and then sank the birdie putt as well. It was nice to play well for a change.

Yesterday I worked with a client I handle on a subcontract from another vendor, and did some planning for them. Today I head to Boston shortly, for an afternoon follow-up with another client, and then tomorrow I'm pretty busy before starting a brief vacation wrapped around the 4th.

Quick thoughts on other topics: George Bush is a pathetic clown - an absolute asshat of a human being who is trying every trick in the book to make his pet war seem like a good idea - now he's recasting it as part of the war on terror when he originally sold it as a project to disarm Hussein. Yeah, Iraq's full of terrorists. Now that you basically invited them in. Freakin' war criminal.

And as for his sycophants on Fox News, Sean Hannity is a brownout stain on the tighty-whities of this nation. Even just hearing soundbites of him makes me feel ill. Bill O'Reilly is just a vile blowhard who couldn't use all his Factor money to buy a clue if he tried, and Geraldo has descended somewhere into that netherworld of mental illness that Tom Cruise seems to be veering towards, too.

On a more mundane note, I've had my Treo 650 for about two weeks now, and overall I like it. It does have it's share of quirks, though, most notably absolutely abysmal Bluetooth headset support. Though I get very good sound quality, upon connecting the headset the connection drops within 5 seconds - you can still use it but you have to manually wake the headset as soon as you dial. Hopefully it'll be addressed in the overdue Cingular firmware update - so far Palm has released the updates for unlocked GSM phones, Sprint, and Rogers. We're still waiting on the 650 updates for Cingular and Verizon - but Verizon only shipped them in the first place about a month ago.

There's an elaborate procedure I can use to manually re-flash the phone with the unlocked GSM update, but there's enough of a risk of Bad Things happening that I'm not going there.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I never thought I'd agree with Scalia

Generally, where I'd stand on a Supreme Court decision is on the opposite side of whatever side Scalia is on. This time, I'm right there with him. Private property is private, and not there for the government to reallocate to other private developers. Eminent domain should only be used sparingly, and is only for the public's direct benefit. Enabling a big private downtown development is not an appropriate use, and ergo the Supreme Court has issued its most inane decision since Bush v. Gore.

Sandra Day O'Connor's dissent was terrific, by the way, and someday when the decision is justly set aside by a later Court, it'll be referred to extensively.

By the way, tonight we took David to his first baseball game (the North Shore Spirit independent minor league team in Lynn). He loved it. But I think mostly he loved the playground they had, the popcorn, the peanuts, the mascot, and seeing his friend Ciera there. The baseball, while fun, was strictly secondary.

Memo to Verizon

I'm not using your DSL. I'm not going to use your DSL if I can help it. Not at home, and not at the office. I will never use PPPoE. I will never use a service that doesn't allow servers as part of their ToS. I don't hate you - I use your mobile data service with my PowerBook, and I use you as our local carrier at home for all 3 lines we have, as well as for both of my office lines. I have Centrex, even. You're a decent phone provider and if your family plan pricing had been better a couple of years ago I'd be using you for our cell phones, too.

So stop sending us DSL promotional mailings. Please. Between work and home, you must be wasting between $5 and $10 per month trying to pimp DSL to me. I'm not going to buy it. Period. Give up, save some money, and lower my frigging rates instead!

(However, when you start offering me FiOS at home I may change my mind - provided you let me run my web and e-mail server)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Where do I begin?

How about with chronological order. Thursday, I got a call from David's school just before 3 - he was running a low fever and was felling awful. He perked up when I arrived to pick him up, but otherwise was felling blah. Unfortunately, the fever meant he had to stay home Friday, so Jane and I both scrambled to rearrange our schedules. I was only able to spend about an hour and a half with customers because I watched him most of the day.

He got better quickly, though, and was pretty much his old self by Saturday. Jane worked a pretty long day that day, so he and I had quality time.

We're now a one-cat home again. Danny made his final trip to the vet last night - he was about 14 and just generally miserable and full of hate for all of us. He had arthritis, and towards the end wouldn't even let us close enough to him to groom him or cut his nails. Rather than spend oodles of money on him with no real likelihood of success (and the probability of still having a cat who hated us), we did the expedient thing. However, we ducked the issue entirely with David and told him that Danny left us and moved away. He even said goodbye (from a distance - he was afraid of Danny).

On a more pedestrian note, I got a Treo 650 yesterday. I got it directly from Palm for less than Cingular wanted to sell it for, and with no contract extensions required. Nice. It's bigger than my old T637, but not ridiculously so. And after a little funkiness, everything works fine. iSync picked it up with no problem, but I did have one issue with it - since I already had a prior Palm, on my first hotsync I wound up with lots of junk I didn't need - including a system patch for my old Tungsten that screwed up a lot of things. So I had to learn how to do a warm reset so I could remove it (page 168 of the manual). THen it behaved fine after rebooting. I've set them up for customers, so I knew what to expect. The only catch is that Palm's released Treo firmware upgrades for all but the Cingular and Verizon models so far that fix a lot of bugs. There's no ETA for the Cingular version.

I may be something of a tech whiz, but last night I almost ruined my e-mail system. Duh. I was trying the migration from the old SME server to the Tiger-running mini that I already serve my website from. And I managed to flush my Inbox completely - 2600+ messages worth. So at a quarter of 11, I was on my way to the office so I could recover the message IMAP cache from my iMac (successful), after which I ran an Applescript-based utility to extract the IMAP cache to MBOX files, then I moved it all into new accounts on the Tiger server. Once I did that and verified that all the mail had moved (counting mailing list archives and sent mail, it came out to over 6000 messages since last April), I then went to the trouble of setting up some root-level folders so I could sort it easier, and keep the Inbox itself from getting too big. I broke it down by quarter - now I'm down to 197 in the Inbox itself (I only kept from 6/1 onward right there). Much more manageable.

The suck part was that I got home at 1 from all this. The good part is that I fixed a PC that I had there gathering dust I'd picked up from a customer while I was waiting on the e-mail move, so I made money while I was there.

Which is good, because I may spent it on coffee today. It's going to be a long day...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Idle thoughts du jour

When I read the description of Terri Schiavo's brain from today's released autopsy report, for a moment I thought it was a description of Shrub's instead.

My mom tells me the falcons are going to fledge soon. That means we're going to get her back from Bird Nerd land any day now...

As predicted, it's been a busy but not insanely so week so far. Which is good. And the receivables are starting to come in, too - I may even pay myself by week's end.

Interesting book - The Secret Life of Lobsters, by Trevor Corson. Not the most socially significant book I've ever read, but it's making my favorite meal look like a lot more than just a big aquatic cockroach.

I'm doing research for a possible project for one of my clients on SANs - really cool high-tech stuff. I'm looking primarily at Xiotech, with the possibility of overlaying a SAN filesystem on Apple's Xserve RAID chassis as another option.

Sadly, I did not golf last week due to extreme busyness. That marks the first league week I've missed without a medical reason in several years. The sad part is that I've sucked so badly the first couple of times out that the penalty really didn't hurt my average at all - it's early enough in the season that I'm still working off last years' average. I had originally planned to golf today, but the weather is not cooperating. And I had to ride the bike inside, too. Summer was here for about a week, and then was cruelly snatched away by the jetstream.

After I post this, I need to go pick up David - Jane's winding her way back from Maine right now. Then we have split duties - I have to go restock the diapers while Jane and David take Gracie to the doctor's for her annual exam.

I'd take David with me, but I'm third on his list of favorites - behind Jane and Gracie. He's just a real ladies' man.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Relief

Things worked out OK. I wound up showing up at my first site at 7:30 in the morning, before anyone arrived as it turned out. So I sat in front of the door, fired up my PowerBook, logged on their server with ARD and started working. By the time I left around 3, I had everything important working and finished - there's just some follow-up issues and training to do and that's not as urgent (though I will be doing some of it tomorrow). I didn't have to go to Norwood, and I made it back to my office in time to take care of cleaning up one of the two PCs I planned for tomorrow.

Which is good, because I added one client visit to my afternoon tomorrow. It's a relatively rare four-client day Friday - I start by dropping off David at school and seeing one client in my building, followed by a trip to Salem, lunch (if there's time), a drive to a Mac client in Manchester, and then a Windows client in Wenham before heading home. But it's a manageable schedule, and none of it is high-pressure stuff.

Unless I get up at the crack of dawn Sunday and walk on the course, there is no way I'll be getting my round of league golf in this week. First time in years I've missed a week. That kind of sucks. I do plan to ride my bike early Saturday, before Jane goes to work. Maybe about 15 miles or so - I haven't been riding much at all this month.

Next week looks to be a little bit of a respite, but the following week already has three days booked - each job taking a half-day or more. One of them is a prepaid contract job, though, but that lets me recognize the quarterly revenue. Which I don't fully understand, so it's a good thing I have Quickbooks and a good accountant.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Out of gas

Monday, I worked pretty much the whole day solid. Tuesday, I was at multiple sites during the day, worked until 8PM, and did a product demo. Today, I worked for two different clients and met with another in the evening - another night home at 8ish.

For Thursday, I have to spend the morning wrapping up the server install I've been doing the previous two days, then potentially head down to Norwood to work the afternoon. Friday I have to fix two spyware-infested PCs that have been gathering dust in my office since I picked them up from two different clients. Next week and the week after are already booking up quickly, and I have several new clients who have projects for me to tackle over the next month or so. My beginning-of-July vacation down at the Jersey Shore is looking like it might not happen - I will probably be working while Jane and David head south to cavort.

Yes, I'm totally overextended now, and I will find some sort of solution before I start messing things up for customers. I will not allow that to happen. Period. But I'm still working on the details part.

For now, I'll go to bed. I have to be on-site at 8 tomorrow.

Monday, June 06, 2005

They went the whole hog...

It turns out Apple is going for it big-time, and transitioning to Intel. Big risk - even bigger payoff if it works. The challenge will be to keep the pipeline flowing during that transition period. It'll be the better part of a year until the first x86 Macs ship, and in the meantime they need to keep users buying PPC systems. Hmm.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Wild Speculation

Unless you're been living in a cave, you've probably heard that Steve Jobs is expected to announce Apple's move to Intel processors at tomorrow's WWDC keynote. I've been wrong before, but I don't think that's going to be the story.

What I suspect is this: Apple will continue to sell PowerPC-based desktop computers, just like they do now. But the current Apple server offerings (Xserve) are limited - the max configuration only offers 2 processors in a 1U chassis. So Apple will keep on selling Xserves, but they will start offering OS X Server for Intel processors. That solves about 99% of the application compatibility issues that you'd have with a desktop move, opens up the server market to new vendors, and potentially gives Apple more of a toehold in the enterprise market. Maybe Apple brands Intel-based servers themselves, or maybe they license OS X Server for x86 to OEM vendors. Either way, it opens up the market, gives Microsoft a little more competition, and paves the way for Apple to have the option of a desktop switch as well down the road (get ISVs used to producing PPC/x86 fat binaries).

Whatever it is, we'll find out tomorrow.

As for the vacuum question, David and I went to several places yesterday afternoon to try and test-drive some models. We wound up settling on the Dyson DC14 - the base model was about $420 and a lot more palatable price-wise than the fancier Animal models or the DC15 "Ball" version (that one, though real neat, was $600!). After doing a little bit of cleaning with it, it is an impressive little device, and I now understand why the owners have spoken so highly of it. I'm still a little put off by the "yuppie toy" image, but given the performance I think I'll get over it.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Suck

We're shopping for a new vacuum right now. Our 13-year-old Oreck has already had one servicing a couple of years ago, and we don't want to sink more money into it. Plus the canister vac that came with it had a bag failure a month or so ago (my fault - I let it get overloaded), and now the insides of it look like a fragmentation grenade went off in there. It's seriously busted up. As great as our Roomba is, you need a real vac for heavy-duty cleaning, corners, stairs, and spot work.

So we're pretty much decided on a new one. A month or so ago, I borrowed the January Consumer Reports from my folks - it had vacuum reviews galore. We know we want another upright. So that's all I've looked at. Here's the dilemma. The top-rated vac is a Hoover - the WindTunnel Self-Propelled Ultra. I'd buy the bagless version if I bought it. It can be had for around $300. So I went to Amazon to look further at it and read reviews.

It's thoroughly hated by almost everyone - though it cleans well, it's apparently unreliable as all-get-out. Average rating - two stars. Second on the list is the Eureka Boss Smart Ultra 4870. It's only $140 (and their CR Best Buy), but it's not self-propelled. Which means that I'd have to do 100% of the vacuuming. I'd rather share. It also gets mixed reviews on Amazon.

I won't buy Kenmore after the fiasco with the TV a year or so ago (see old posts for details - basically I had to haul a 36", 250lb TV to the local Sears and then back again after they decided not to let us exchange it). The high-rated Kirby costs $1330 - for that, I'd buy a used Segway instead. The only other vacuums high-rated on the list are another Oreck and the Dyson DC07.

I don't want the Oreck, especially since it's $700. And I really don't want a separate canister vac anymore. This leaves Dyson, and I'd probably go with the newer DC14 model. But here's the dichotomy. CR thought the DC07 was discernibly worse than the Hoover and Eureka. But, if you go on Amazon, you'll see testimony after testimony as to how wonderful the Dysons are. So, just by real-world consumer ratings, I should buy the Dyson. It's just a little tough to justify a spendy kind of vacuum like that, plus they're the latest yuppie thing so I'm turned off by that, too. Grumble.

Now that I just wasted 5 paragraphs on vacuum talk, on to reality. Jane's on her way to Portland right now for a trade show (she said she'd wave on her way through Newburyport, Woodge). She'll be home pretty late. I've got David today, and we've got a birthday party to go to at noon. And the week was absolutely nutty - several new clients and a scad of billable time in only a 4-day week. Next week is like that, too. Time is starting to become a commodity that I'm short of.

A good problem indeed.
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