Tuesday, May 31, 2005

It lives...

I survived the long weekend - went to the doctor on Friday and got drugs to kill off the nasties that were living in me and causing the fever bursts. Jane's folks arrived Saturday (along with her sister and all the cousins), and we had a great time throwing a birthday bash for David on Sunday. Jane's sister left yesterday morning - her folks headed back to New Jersey today. And David took the day off from school so he could go to the airport with them.

Meanwhile, I worked this afternoon on a job that I picked up by virtue of keeping my phone with me on the holiday. Good Mac work - this was a very good month for my business overall. I did work for three other accounts in the morning. Tomorrow is pretty much just as busy, plus I have the semi-monthly Apple meeting I need to head into Cambridge for. Last time I was going there was when I got rear-ended - I think I'll take a different route this time!

By the way, I watched both the Indy 500 (actually, just the last half of it after the birthday party) and the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday. That pretty much auto-sported me out for a while. The NASCAR race did have an exciting ending, though - Jimmy Johnson passed Bobby Labonte in the final straightaway to win by a hood length. And in Indy racing, Danica Patrick is the real deal. She's fast, she's got the right attitude, she's aggressive, and it certainly helps that she's just plain smokingly hot as well. She may just start getting Indy racing some attention again after many years of decline.

The George family (the folks behind the IRL), just better hope she doesn't get lured to NASCAR anytime soon.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Fever Pitch

I'm down in Norwood today, living with a fever that, though it is starting to fade, is still leaving me pretty bitter. But the bright side is that I've actually managed to pull off a lot of stuff today and solve some problems, which is good.

Today was the first day of the week that I didn't have big problems while dropping off David. He made up for it last night, however, by deciding to be terrified of the wind. Which resulted in repeated efforts to get him sleeping between about 9 and 10:30 before I just let it go (after he realized he was now being ignored, he passed out pretty quickly). I went to sleep really early, too, to make up for some of the lack of sleep I've had this week along with the illness.

Jane is home now - her flight got in a hair past noon and she's vegging at home before picking up David.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Interlude

I've got a couple of minutes here in the office, so given yesterday's occasion I figured I'd drop a note here.

As many of you will recall, yesterday was David's birthday. Grandma and Grandpa brought him to school with me in the morning (they're on their way home now as I type this), and we stopped to pick up a big box of cupcakes. As David requested, they were white with pink icing (and jimmies). He had a rough separation (and today as well), but then I went to work for a while at a client site (which is where I'm going back to as soon as I'm done here), while my folks went off to shop for a while.

After I wrapped up and went home for lunch, my folks joined me and then we picked up my car - which finally has all the work done now. We then picked David up a couple of hours early so we could spend more time with him. He requested the dinner last night (Chinese), and finally ran out of gas a little after 9. He slept until about 8:30 this morning.

I only have one more day thankfully until Jane gets home from her business trip. David definitely prefers having her around if he has to settle for just one parent. And I'm flat-out busy for the rest of this week onwards. I have to take care of work for two customers in Salem today, then tomorrow I'm in Norwood and Friday I'm in South Boston. I even have some work to do this weekend.

I like busy. And since I never know if things will cool down, now's the time to do all the work I can.

Monday, May 23, 2005

After two nights

Not too bad, so far. David's doing pretty well in Jane's absence, and has talked to her on the phone a couple of times. Tomorrow morning takes us past halfway, since she'll be back Thursday afternoon. Grandma and Grandpa are here helping me out until Wednesday (though they stay at the hotel instead of the house - we don't really have room for guests the way things are set up).

Unfortunately, the weather has royally sucked ever since mid-day Saturday. And shows no signs of changing for a few days yet. I was able to get a quick 17-mile bike ride in Saturday morning early - before the weather changed over and Jane went to work. But the chances of getting in my golf round are iffy at best, and I suspect I won't be riding again until the weekend (except maybe if I'm lucky I can hit the exercycle downstairs). It's been incredibly busy for me overall - I originally expected today to be downtime but I worked on accounts until almost 2 this afternoon, and Wednesday now looks pretty full as well. Business for me uses the cistern principle - you need to collect all the rain when it rains, because you never know when it'll rain again. I'll look at trends over the summer and see if by fall maybe a second person is warranted. My suspicion is that by at least years' end it could happen - and it's a problem I hope to face. Though I wouldn't mind staying at a level where I could pay myself well and keep busy.

By the way, I just finished Larry Flynt's book. He may be a redneck, trailer park, white trash pornographer, but he's a great American. Read it, and you'll understand what I mean.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Catching my breath

I just spent the last three days straight doing full days on-site for clients. One in Boston, and one on the South Shore (a company I used to work at way back when). And then, yesterday after spending a full day down south, I then went up and helped a customer out in Boxford with a Windows problem afterwards. I left the house at 7, and returned home just before 9.

So basically, I did very well this week, but I'm exhausted now. Next week is almost as busy - the only day that has no activities scheduled as of right now is Wednesday. And the following week is filling up quickly, too. I will take a quick bike ride for sanity's sake in the morning tomorrow, then I'll spend the day with David and doing stuff, before we go to a friend's house to see their new baby after Jane gets home from work.

Sunday, Jane leaves for her sales meeting in Georgia (she'll be back Thursday) - so it's just the two guys here in the house for a while. I am going to be seriously frazzled by the end of next week, but it's all for a good cause.

By the way, I've come to the conclusion that even though it would be "wrong", I'd like to keep a fire extinguisher in the front seat with me. Then, whenever I happen to pull alongside someone discarding a cigarette butt out their car window, I could give 'em a blast. Then I can say "Oops! Sorry - I was just aiming for your improperly discarded combustibles!"

No judge would dare convict me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Updates a comin'

Apple released the first Tiger update last night. MacOS 10.4.1 fixes a number of bugs, including the one that caused really sluggish VPN performance, and the really nasty one that caused data corruption when working with sparse images. They also updated the video drivers, though Quartz 2D Extreme is not yet enabled by default. I expect that to come in another release or two (after all, it's a core feature of Tiger). I installed the update on my Powerbook guinea pig last night, and have no issues to report so far.

As I write this, the server version of 10.4.1 hasn't been posted yet, but I'll be trying that as well the minute it's available. There's enough bugs in the release's mail subsystem that I've gone back to the original SME box for the moment, though I do have the website up on Tiger now (it's serving the jhturiel.net domain for me). I'm slated to do my first Tiger Server setup tomorrow in Boston for a client who is going to be deploying it with a single processor Xserve G5 and an Xserve RAID. Fortunately, the major use of Tiger there will be as a simple AFP server and to run Retrospect, both of which are fine with Tiger now.

Monday, May 16, 2005

One year later

I live in a state where, one year ago tomorrow, gay people were allowed to marry for the first time in this particular nation. Massachusetts remains one of only a handful of places where this is legal, with the watered-down "civil unions" variant also legal in Vermont and Connecticut.

And you know what? It really does not seen to have been all that big a deal. Marriage is simply now a legal pair bonding between two consenting adults who can be of either gender. So what? Churches that don't believe in gay marriage don't have to perform the ceremonies - there's a difference between civil marriage and religious marriage. So life goes on, basically. Personally, I think stable pair-bonded relationships are a Good Thing for society, and gay marriage just lets society have more of them.

But as for the anniversary itself? Whoop-dee-doo. The only significance May 17th has as far as I can see is that it'll be a little harder to get a dinner reservation in some neighborhoods, since a lot of folks now have their anniversaries that day.

Minor glitches with the car

I've had my minivan back for 3 days now. Whoo! There are a few things to be dealt with, but only one of them is accident-related - the tailpipe is bent down and the body shop hadn't replaced it yet when I came to pick up the car due to a miscommunication between them and the service department. No biggie, and they'll coordinate that and give me a loaner while they replace the pipe. It doesn't affect driving, it's just cosmetic.

Meanwhile, while Jane was working Saturday I took David out, went to pick up my friend Greg and David's buddy Harry, and we went to the New England Aquarium for a few hours. That was a very pleasant way to spend some time - David loves sharks and was captivated. He kept blowing through exhibits in order to get right to the big tank where the sharks were, and then he stood up in the window and watched them. Harry wasn't quite as into it - I think they made him a little nervous. David probably would have gone swimming in there if he could have.

The only major thing we did yesterday was clean the house. We were having "behavior problems" with the little guy yesterday - he only went out once, in the morning, and when we were down to buy the paper he had such a tantrum in the parking lot that I took him straight home instead of going in the store.

Everybody's capable of having a bad day. Especially almost-three-year-olds.

Comics hot streak

My favorite comic strip is Darby Conley's Get Fuzzy. It's about a Boston advertising guy named Rob Wilco and his two pets - a pudgy, none-too-bright dog called Satchel, and a dimwitted, evil cat named Bucky. He basically lives a single, Gen-X version of my life, but funnier.

Anyhow, Friday's comic featured a nice dig at Boston sports institution Bob Lobel (he's been on the air here for almost thirty years), who's had some "issues" in recent months. The strip is here, even though the Globe changed "Lobel" to "him" in the newspaper.

But then, Sunday topped it with a return to the classic "make fun of the French" theme. I present the link for your viewing pleasure.

There's a lot of strips archived on comics.com, but you can poke around the rest for yourselves. I've got a busy week lined up and this is my little burst of leisure beforehand.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Dogfooding

I'm in the middle of transitioning over to use my newly set up MacOS X 10.4 Server system (a Mac mini with a 40GB hard drive and 1 GB of RAM) as my production server for the office. I'll rebuild the SME 6.01 box I currently use with a newer SME build later, so I can do some tinkering. But I thought that it was time to dogfood myself.

Once the mail spool is moved (about 6k messages in all), I get to head out to pick up my minivan, which is FINALLY ready!

A long way to go

Well, I shot a 56 yesterday. Lame. It would have been truly awful, except for a string of three bogies in the second half of the round (5,6, and 8). I had a handful of bad shots, but the big problem was a near total inability to putt.

The good news is that putting will come, and generally speaking I was striking the ball fairly well otherwise. Each year so far I've been able to lower my average by around half a stroke - if I can get the putting thing down I have a decent shot to get my 9-hole average down under 50 this season.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Whoosh

I rode about 12 miles this morning - I felt good enough to go farther, but I got sick of fighting the wind. It was gusting pretty hard in my face the whole way back up the coast from Swampscott. Other than that, nice morning for a ride - it was the first time so far that I didn't have numb hands from the cold and an extra vest on for warmth.

And then I put in a couple of hours for assorted clients once I made it into work. Making this a double athletic day, it's also going to be the opener of my golf season. I have a tee time right after 5 this afternoon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

This week's WWE mistake

I just saw that WWE released Luther Reigns (better known as Horshu to all you old WCW fans). Dumb move. He was a big guy with a good look, decent ring skills, and he was really good on the mic. A solid upper-midcard heel who was being wasted in a feud with ex-partner Mark Jindrak.

If WWE creative had any sense whatsoever (but they suck), they would have moved him to Raw in the upcoming draft lottery, then gotten him into the Intercontinental Title picture. There's a lot of midcard faces he could have worked well with - and with the lack of strong heels on Raw they could have even gotten him into a short program with Batista. Dumbasses.

I am working a lot.

Ergo, not much time for the handful of members of my fan club. Sorry, y'all. I'll have time for some inanities by the weekend.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Oops.

Due to a typo in my SpamAssassin auto-blacklist, my home e-mail server just spent the last 24 hours or so black-holing all inbound e-mail. So if you sent me anything in the last day, I didn't get it. Sorry.

This is why I don't do anything risky on production servers, including those I'm paid to deal with.

In other news, I read Jeff Hammond's autobiography over the last few days. Who's that, you might ask? Well Jeff Hammond is a former NASCAR crew chief (mainly working for Cale Yarborough and then Darryl Waltrip) and currently a commentator for Fox Sports' NASCAR coverage team. I first heard of him when he started doing some commentary work for TNA Wrestling's FSN show, Impact!, culminating in a feud where he teamed up with 3 Live Kru at a PPV last winter. So when I saw it on the library shelf, I decided "what the heck". Hammond does talk about a few interesting things, but overall I came to this conclusion:

What a goober!

The book reminds me of why I'm not really a racing fan. Yes, I've learned a lot about it, and I can be entertained by it on a Sunday afternoon if there's nothing better on TV, and I had a blast the one time I went to a race. But these people are just too different from me - it's a completely different world and culture, and these are the sort of people who go to nudie bars and raise hell all week, then go to church on Sunday and vote for Shrub. Some of them are simply hypocrites, but some are just too danged stupid to realize it.

I'll stick with baseball and football, thank you very much.

Some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug.

This morning I felt like the bug - I slogged through a 12-mile morning ride that felt like pedaling through quicksand. Sometimes you get on the bike and realize that you just don't have anything in the tank. But you ride anyways. I looped through Swampscott and Marblehead before heading back, and I avoided most of the big hills. That helped me cope.

And then when I bought my morning coffee today, I made it a latte and I put an extra expresso shot in it. That helped, too.

Today I have a possible meeting (supposed to happen but unconfirmed) with Apple and a client of theirs, and a couple of things I have to do for clients from here in the comfort of my office. And I'm burning my copy of the Tiger Server DVD right now so I can set it up on a spare Mac and start testing. Drop off today wasn't too great - David got upset at home when we turned off the TV to go to school, and he's been moody ever since.

(after I turned off the TV and left to go get his jacket, he turned it back on, too)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Can you say, "value"?

Sure enough, the new iMacs were announced today. And a minor eMac refresh, to boot. First, the new eMac info (since it's pretty minor):

Speed: upgraded one clock multiplier, from 1.25 GHz to 1.42 GHz.
Video: improved to ATI Radeon 9600 with 64MB VRAM. Now it's OK for low-end gaming, plus it has full Core Graphics support.
The high-end ($999) model now includes 512MB RAM standard, and includes a 160GB hard drive and a dual-layer SuperDrive.

The big changes were with the iMac G5. The speed bump itself was minor, from speeds of 1.6 and 1.8 GHz to 1.8 and 2.0 GHz. The displays are the same size (17" and 20"). Prices are unchanged, as well. The big changes were in the component specs:

First of all, the standard hard drive size has gone up to 160GB in the two 17" models. That's double the size on the previous version. On the 20" iMac, the drive is now a 250GB.

They've put the dual-layer SuperDrive (SuperDuperDrive) in the DVD burner models. Nice.

Base RAM is now 512MB, in a single slot. So you can now upgrade to 1GB of RAM pretty cheaply, and I suggest doing so (Apple charges $125 for the upgrade - Crucial will sell it for about $40 less).

The video subsystem's been upgraded, too - from the nVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 to the ATI Radeon 9600 (like the eMac now has), but with 128MB of VRAM (the old iMac had 64MB). I just put an ATI 9600 card in my Dell at home, and it's a nice ride for gaming.

But here's the big news with these iMacs: Bluetooth 2.0 is now standard, as it AirPort Extreme. In the old model, these were $130-ish worth of upgrades, and the Bluetooth option could only be added at build time - not aftermarket. And even more importantly, Gigabit Ethernet is now standard on all iMacs! This is important - until now, all "consumer" Macs had 10/100 Ethernet standard, and only "pro" Macs (the PowerBook and Power Mac G5) included GigE. Now all Apple G5 desktops include GigE (Power Mac and iMac) - the only systems still with only 10/100 are the eMac, mini, and iBook.

So the basic iMac price points remain the same, but they've upgraded the speed, video, and wired networking, upped the base memory, and added options (disk size and wireless) that previously would have added about $250 in cost to each system as BTO upgrades. I'd say that's a good deal, indeed.

Speaking of which...

It's 8:11 AM as I type this (I'm waiting for the laundry to finish, and for David to wake up - he didn't take a real nap yesterday so he's sleeping in). The Apple Store online is down for updating - most likely for the sake of the rumored new iMac G5 and eMac models. I'll be at a client most of the day today, but after I see the new configs I'll comment later on.

Both models are due for a refresh. If Apple's really smart, they'll take advantage of this to update the mini and iBook to include 512MB standard, as well.

Bill Gates on Tiger:

As quoted in this Business Week article:

"You can always tell if you're working on a Mac or a PC. Just take your applications and stick them in there and see if they run,"

You're a hoot, Bill. All those copies of Sobig I get in my e-mail inbox every day? Let me expand them and run them on my Mac...

Oh, wait. They didn't work. You're right, Bill. All my Windows viruses are not, in fact, compatible with my Mac. Darn it. And you can't get programs like Spybot S&D, Ad-Aware, or even Microsoft Anti-Spyware for the Mac, either. How unfair!

Of course, that may be because there's no such thing as Mac spyware, but why confuse things with facts?

To be slightly serious, there are a few places where Mac software selection is an issue. Besides gaming. And there are legitimate uses for ActiveX applications (though they should all be written in Java instead). But for the most part, the Mac platform has at least 2-3 high-quality products in most software categories. Windows typically has more - but you aren't going to install every competitive office suite on the market - you are going to buy and use one of them. And the best ones are typically cross-platform, taking advantage of the features available on the OS you use. Microsoft, ironically, is a big practitioner of that with Office. Which is available on the Mac, and excellent as well.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Burnt

My legs are en fuego - I got up at 6 this morning and went for a bike ride. Only 13 miles, but I did a lot of climbing on the route I took today (down to Swampscott, and back up the Marblehead coast around Marblehead Neck), and I was moving at a pretty good clip. It was a good way to start the week off.

Maybe one morning my riding partner will show up... in his defense, though, I called his cell around 7 last night to let him know I'd be heading out today (Robert's one of those folks who it's easier to get on his cell than his home phone). And golf season has begun as of this week - our shrunken league now plays bi-weekly, but that's still enough to play a decent number of matches. And bi-weekly doesn't mean I can't golf more than that - it just means only one score counts.

One glitch has been reported in Tiger that will keep me off it for a little while - Apparently there's a cosmetic bug with QuickBooks 6.0 that prevents new entries from being processed the normal way. I'll see if it's still there with 10.4.1 before deciding how to proceed (one option is to upgrade QuickBooks).

David woke up way too early today. He got up as I was leaving the house on my bike. Jane blamed me initially for waking him up, but I'm convinced that if he heard me tiptoeing in my slippers, then he was already awake in bed.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Update-O-Rama

I just posted a new picture page of David in the usual place - one change in the routine is that I posted all the pics in full-resolution this time (you can do that when you have your own server...) as an experiment, since this particular batch bridges my old and new cameras.

I also finally posted the MCE review on the BNUG site just before midnight, squeezing it in right before my self-imposed April deadline.

In a week or so I will probably take the plunge and upgrade my home Mac (the iMac G4) to Tiger - for the most part, I've had only minor issues with it on my PowerBook.

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