Sunday, December 31, 2006

The year in review

Our son grew up a lot. He also became a charming, energetic pain in the ass with a definite tendency towards pushing the limits until they break. He learned to be kind of nasty to his parents. On the other hand, he managed to potty train himself, developed some skill at drawing, and sticks up for his friends at school, even when other kids try and pick on them. He's one of the more popular boys in his pre-k classroom, and he does have an outsized personality to match. He grew - a lot - 5T clothes are often too short for him now.

My wife got her job well under control for the most part, putting up upper-tier numbers while still managing to be there for us.

My business has grown to the point where I no longer doubt my chances of a long-term career. I am paying myself a decent salary, have hired one full-time employee, recently added a part-timer, and hope to put on another full-time (specializing in the Windows side) come springtime. I plan to continue managing conservatively, paying myself modestly, and working my butt off to try and make the customers happy in 2007.

Life as a one-cat household suits us fine (Danny was dispatched in 2005). David would like us to add a dog because "Gracie would be friends with a dog", but that's not gonna happen.

Gadget lust in our household has slowed down a lot - the only gadget of note this past year (for the house) was a TiVo Series 3 that Jane and I jointly bought as our holiday gift to ourselves. We've had it for a day. It rocks. It would rock more if we could do multiroom transfers to it from the old one, though.

I did buy a pair of Intel Macs this year, though. Both were for work - not home (even though I'm typing this on one). I started out with a 15" MacBook Pro, then when I hired Joey I gave that one to her and bought a 17". Nice (though not a Core 2 Duo model).

We also finally erased the biggest error that loomed over my history of decision-making - I got rid of the minivan. Never should have bought it in the first place (I overestimated how long we would have to drive around with all the Baby Crap in the car, and I thought at the time it was likely we'd follow up David with an encore). The Kia Sorento we bought in its place is a nice small SUV with AWD that gets about the same mileage and is much nicer to drive (and can go on the beach when we go to Martha's Vineyard).

In related vein, we started taking family vacations again this year. I hope to continue the trend.

And we weaseled one final year out of our house's paint job. But that goes come springtime.

Of course there were a lot more things that happened to us, good and bad, and I've opined many an entry about the other things that have happened in life and the world, but that's a nice, stranger-friendly way to put my version of the "friends & family" letter that a lot of families now include in their holiday cards out for your reading enjoyment. If you're one of our friends reading this, I hope you're enjoying the sanitized update. If you're one of my customers - I hope you keep employing my firm to handle your work as we grow. We won't let you down (unless you're one of the deadbeats - you know who you are and in at least one case I won't forget the $200 you've owed us since February! - in that case please send the check and then lose our number). And if you're one of the total strangers who stumbles upon my blogsite, well, hope you enjoyed what you read, but not enough to stalk us. Happy New Year, and have a great 2007!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy whatever, 2006...

Santa brought a bunch of goodies to David (even though he really hasn't done much lately to deserve a visit). David is accordingly happy, if underappreciative. And that's about as much enthusiasm as I'll muster for that part of things for the moment. If he keeps it up, within a season or two we'll whack him upside the head with the Truth About Santa early!

As for us, Santa (in the form of my credit card) bought a single gift for Jane and I to share (with her full consent) - a TiVo Series 3 box. It'll be hooked up over the weekend (Comcast is coming with two CableCards for it on Saturday), and I am happily using TiVo Decode Manager (a wonderful free Mac utility) to download and archive the best stuff from our Series 2 before we replace it. The Series 2 will live on, though - with a year's subscription to continue on before we decide any further fate.

I do have some stuff archived on the horrid Comcast DVR that I will try and watch this week before I take it back to the local office. If Comcast didn't make such a horrid DVR I'd have kept it, but as far as I can tell the programmers responsible for this beast studied TiVo and then asked themselves: "How can we build a DVR that is completely unlike TiVo yet still can occasionally record television?" Once they had the answer coded, they issued forth the Comcast HD-DVR box. It sucks.

Having changed out original plans due to health problems, Jane is now going to visit her folks with David in tow for the rest of the week, leaving tomorrow. I will use the opportunity to work my butt off and end 2006 on a big note (by the way, check out my revised website - now with CSS!). Woodge owed me a favor and built it to update my look a tad.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

That'll teach me

We took David out to dinner tonight - we brought a book, which helped. But then he was troublesome again at mealtime, and capped it off when I got up to go to the bathroom. He tagged along, and spent way too much effort on figuring out how to close the stall door.

He succeeded beyond his wildest imagination. And locked himself in. After many attempts to get him out the easy way, I finally made him crawl out. Fortunately the floor was pretty clean right there.

And a happy festivus to you, too.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The rat finks

Announcement this morning - the station switch here from Progressive Talk to Latino is going to be tomorrow. Which really sucks.

The only mitigating factor at all is that Al is in reruns this week and next for his annual USO tour, and Steph is on vacation as well.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

More of my media, wrenched away

In other media news, the final airing of the WLVI (Channel 56) Ten o Clock News was last night - after which the entire station was laid off. They were bought by the parent company of WHDH (Channel 7), who will be replacing the show with a version using thier own staff, at the usual breakneck pace.

The Channel 56 newscast was our preferred one for many years - a little slower, more sober, and the staff consisted of primarily local people who had worked together for years. That's how I prefer my newscasts - not the usual MTV-paced stuff (Channel 7 was a pioneer in that regard, unfortunately). But my demographic isn't as relevant, and the trend is clear.

So I'm adding the new Channel 56 news at 10 to the list of shows to avoid - WBZ runs a news show at 9:30 on Channel 38 and I'll probably go there for the time being.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ticked off

Though no official announcement has been made, it is now a Generally Known Fact that the radio station I listen to most of the time (1200/1440 AM - broadcasting with less power than a typical hair dryer) is going to be dropping the "Progressive Talk" format sometime after the first of the year and going to a Spanish format called "Rumba".

Not that I'm a fan of the whole Air America lineup - the Young Turks do nothing for me, and I don't really like Randi Rhodes too much, but I did listen to Al Franken every day and I really am going to miss Stephanie Miller in the 9-noon slot.

It's going to be a difficult adjustment. I refuse to listen to the troglodytes in the morning on WEEI, Gary LaPierre is retiring in two weeks on WBZ (there's a familiarity factor here), and Imus jumped the shark years ago. I may have to get satellite or something - but after checking out the lineups I need Sirius to get Miller and she's on in the wee hours on that - and all the AA stuff is on XM. Which would give me a tough choice indeed.

I have a feeling I'll be listening to my iPod on the car mornings most of the time for a while to come...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Giving myself a holiday gift - and it's not free time

First of all, in honor of the Fox News War On Christmas, I am substituting the word "holiday" wherever possible. Apologies in advance.

That said, I treated myself to an early holiday gift that just arrived this week - a particularly slick Woot deal (a 19" LCD with good specs for $105 after a $100 rebate). It looks spiffy so far. That was my big indulgence.

That and the possibility of getting a TiVo Series 3 for the family as the "house" present. TiVo remains the only gadget I've imposed on the house that my wife endorses completely, and David has learned to operate our Series 2 even though he can't read yet. He also knows how to operate the DVD player and takes care of all the tech details for his babysitters.

The last couple of days have been tough - Jane had a corporate muckety-muck visit sprung on her literally at the last second, and she's had to spend her last three days (including today, normally her day off) making sure all the stores on the visit are spic-and-span so as to suck up properly. It's total BS - if these higher-ups would rather see tidy counters than big sales numbers then they're being irresponsible to the shareholders and should all be canned. And my poor wife is completely screwed by this whim since she has to deal with it all, miss her weekend days off (her usual days off are Sunday and Monday, and she's stuck for both of them). David's been more irritated than me over the whole thing - and Jane's so frantic over it that she's saving the irritation for later.

The kicker is that work at my place has gotten busy to the point that I'm routinely working most evenings just to play catch-up. But I try to put it aside as best as I can once I finally arrive home each day until David goes to bed. It doesn't always work out that way, but I try. And so does Jane.

This is the downside of being 2-career parents. The only thing I can say is that at least it's all mine in my case.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A sad day

Bucky's Burritos in Newburyport is no more. Suddenly, my lunches have even less meaning than they usually do...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A tale of two phone carriers

In the last couple of months both my wife's trusty cellphones (hers and her parents') went toes-up (well, Jane's was lost, her parents' phone was broken). So we re-upped both contracts and got replacement phones. Nothing fancy, just the cheap stuff.

Now, this past week she was out in New Jersey taking care of her dad. One day at the doctors office, the phone apparently fell off her wrist and was forgotten - only to be found later seemingly undamaged. The catch was that it had gotten some kind of wallop that left the outside fine, but the battery and screen both broken inside it. Cingular has been less than helpful, and directed me through some skullduggery involving insurance to try and replace it. Instead of a replacement, I am now awaiting a package in the mail consisting of an affidavit I have to notarize and send back with documentation, a bill copy, and a photocopy of my ID. Then, maybe, I will get a replacement phone.

Meanwhile, my Verizon Treo 700p also started having problems this week - turning off seemingly at random and requiring battery removal to reboot. It's battered, mind you - I wear it daily on a holster and go everywhere with it. But last night I called Verizon customer service. She sent me to wireless data support, where after a pleasant conversation I now have a replacement unit winging its way to me via two-day air. No muss, no fuss, no hassles, no deductibles.

I have to buy another phone in the next couple of weeks - a Treo for my employee. Guess which carrier I'm going to use?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

And so it begins...

I started my Thanksgiving turkey preliminary work tonight (making a brine) - in a couple of minutes after it's cooled a little more I'll put it in a container in the fridge until tomorrow, and then the 12 Hours of Brining begins!

I did this once before, in 2002. It was a yummy turkey.

(Recipe available on foodtv.com - "Good Eats Brined Turkey")

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Events continue

I've worked a zillion hours the last couple of weeks - minimal blogging time. We also had two birthday parties for David to go to, one last Sunday and one yesterday, and we all went down to Connecticut overnight a couple of weeks ago for a surprise birthday party. This weekend I've been pulling solo duty, because Jane had to go down to New Jersey (her dad's having some health problems again), so David and I are holding down the fort.

Yesterday, we went to the Aquarium with Greg and his three kids before driving up to the birthday party. That was entertaining, and amusingly we ran into Woodge and his two kids there. David's also done a bunch of work for me this weekend, stopping at Apple Friday, going to an account Saturday (in between the Aquarium and the birthday party) to install an antenna, dropping off a Mac this morning and picking up another one this afternoon. When Jane's not around, I tend to do work things on the weekend.

Finally for now, I'm not sure if the Pats have fixed their problems or if the NFC just sucks.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wwwwwipeout!

And it's now official - Republicans have been swept out of both the House and Senate, giving Democrats control of both houses for the first time since 1994 (they had the Senate for two years - 2000 through '02). I'm giddy.

It's about time the buggers got their comeuppance! On a more serious note, I was a Weld Republican back in 1990 (I haven't missed an election since I turned 18), and my preferred candidate has almost always been a liberal Republican - at least when I had a major party candidate worth voting for (otherwise I voted Libertarian). What I hope happens ultimately is that the more extreme religious elements in the Republican party get marginalized again, so that reasonable adults can take over and I can again vote for them someday.

Change number 1, my fear of any more retiring Supreme Court justices just eased a lot. No way will another Alito be forced down our throats with Democrats running the Senate. And that's a great place to start.

Memo to Deval Patrick from Massachusetts

We voted for you this year. Don't take it for granted. We were so sick of Republicans in this state taking the governorship and then forgetting us that we probably would have voted for damn near anyone. But we like you. You're a good, effective speaker, earnest, and charismatic. The un-Healy, if it were. We think you'll be a pretty good governor.

But if you screw us by running for Vice-President (or anything else) before your first term is even over, we'll turn on you like a pack of jackals. Don't make the mistake of every governor since Ed King and immediately start looking for a new job. The one we just gave you is not too bad.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Two weeks later

Here's what my old car had that I miss a little in the new one:

- Backup sensors (you get used to them)
- RDS support in the stereo
- A cassette player (I don't have any tapes, but it gives me more iPod playing options)
- Better cupholder locations up front
- A more useful sunglasses holder - the one in the Kia can't hold an oversize lens
- Four more gallons of fuel capacity (at roughly the same gas mileage, it was effectively another 90 or so miles of highway driving
- A more useful trip computer

What I have in the Kia that makes me not care about the Chevy:
- Much better visibility
- More useful storage in the front seats, and a better glove compartment
- Auto-dimming rear mirror, and heated side mirrors
- Foglights. They can really come in handy.
- Thermostat-based climate control
- Better ergonomics

Not to mention, of course, that the handling and pickup are way better. But that's almost a given. We took it down to Connecticut on Saturday for a surprise birthday party for my buddy Scott (making a work call for my wife on the way down), and everyone was most comfy. My only qualm at the moment is that I've racked up so many miles over the last few days that I'm pooped out. I could really use a week of local stops for work - but until at least tomorrow that's not going to happen (I'm headed down the the South Shore today).

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sold American

I made a major change this week - I am no longer a minivan driver (I really never was that fond of it). Buying a minivan was a knee-jerk reaction to a couple of things that, at the time, seemed compelling: first of all, we were contemplating the possibility of additional children (this now seems very unlikely), and also a panicked response to how much baby junk we traveled with. We didn't get out much in those days, but in the winter of 2003 when David was about 9 months old, we went away with a gigantic travel system stroller, a pack & play with a changing table accessory, milk & formula supplies, diaper bags, and so many toys that we didn't have room in our Olds Bravada SUV for luggage. So I traded in my 2-year-old Olds for a Chevy Venture (losing about $10000 in depreciation at the time), and bit the bullet. Jane kept her small sedan.

Well, after about 6 months we weren't carrying the travel system anymore (a small umbrella stroller did the trick), and by his second birthday we'd ditched the pack & play (he was sleeping in beds by then). And sometime over this past winter we dumped the diaper supplies, because David finally potty-trained himself (anyone notice I don't write about that stuff anymore?). When I combined that with the litany of things that, though not a lemon, just were sucky about the van (water in the left headlight that wouldn't go away, way too much rattling for my liking, inconvenient to reach and operate rear seats, only four people seated in the front two rows, a leak in the rear door that I've had on and off ever since being rear-ended last spring, etc.), we decided to unload it while it still had some value.

After shopping the Internet, I finally bought a new midsized SUV - a Kia Sorento. Sadly, this ends for now a 23-year tradition of buying American-made cars (since trading in the Saab 9000s I bought from my parents I've owned a Dodge Intrepid, a Chevy Blazer, an Olds Bravada, and finally a Chevy Venture). But nothing American could match the Kia for features or price - and that's a bad sign for American carmakers.

The good news is that Jane will probably be replacing her car within the next year, and several of the leading candidates for that role are American-made. She hasn't owned an American car since her 1981 Chevy Monte Carlo.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ask and ye shall receive...

So yesterday morning I whine about Xserve - later that day it goes online for ordering. But there's one catch, and it's a big one. The G5 Xserve had available hardware RAID. Sure it was just a MegaRAID controller wth no GUI and no monitoring/live rebuild, but it was still hardware RAID 5. The new Xeon Xserve has no such option. I'm not sure what crack they were smoking over in the hardware group on this one.

Granted, it's a cable-free design now (they attach to a backplane - on the G5 version the drive cages were cabled to the controller), but they could at least have done what Dell and Compaq did in their designs - use a daughtercard to add RAID to the on-board controller. That would have been a simple option to engineer in, and it's been done by countless vendors.

Other than that, the price is great, and the specs amazing. Tom Yager over at InfoWorld loves the design, which is a nice plus. But losing hardware RAID is a major problem, and I'm going to have to think of Plan B options for some of my clients who may otherwise be priced out because they can't afford an Xserve RAID.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

No Xserve for you. Not yours.

Apple finally released the Core 2 Duo MacBook Pros yesterday (a month after I needed it), which is good, but still no availability on the Xeon Xserve - and right now I have three clients anxiously awaiting their release (or at least an order date) so they can get their projects underway. Add that to the three Windows servers I'm working on (two new orders, and one I'm rebuilding), and that keeps us going on server projects through year-end.

I'm even happier I have help now than I was a week ago...

Also, I am no longer the owner of a poop-brown minivan - I picked up a Kia Sorento yesterday, which is much prettier and more useful overall than the minivan was, without any of the "bleh" that driving the Chevy induced. That's good. Other than that, I'd say more but I'm off to work already!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Synchronicity

Last weekend we went down to Allentown, PA (like Lawrence, MA with hills, and I dont' mean that in a good way) for a big family reunion on my mother-in-law's side of the family. Overall, things went well, even though we stayed at a hotel convenient to several pawn shops and a crackhouse. The only tough moment was at breakfast our first morning - I was still on my way down from the hotel room at the time, but while I was on my way down, David was clowning around too much with his cousins and, daredevil that he is, he managed to flip down off the back of his chair and whacked his head on something. He managed to give himself a big welt and cut on his forehead, over his left eye. I came down seconds after he did it - Jane had zipped off to get him ice, and I inherited cuddle duty until he settled down.

Anyhow, after a busy week this week and a weekend visit from his best friend Jonathan, he was finally settled down tonight and took his pre-bedtime bath. And after his bath, I dried him off and told him to go over to his room to put his pajamas on - Jane was waiting in there for him.

Well, he covered his head with the towel, took off sprinting, and almost made it. Except he managed to run straght into his doorframe. Head-first.

The resulting welt was in exactly the same spot as his one from a week ago. But at least there wasn't any blood!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Confounded by Apple

I'm usually pretty good at Apple tealeaf reading - I have a few sources who are good, combined with knowing what websites typically have better sources than me (most of 'em, which is why I don't spend my days running an Apple blog for profit). I also know enough industry background so I can usually predict what direction that Apple is likely to go in.

On the other hand, I've been caught by surprise many times. The switch to Intel was a gobsmacker. Releasing two systems (iMac Core Duo and MacBook Pro) at MWSF this year, only six months after the initial announcement was a big stunner.

And the fact that Apple has yet to release a Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro is a big surprise, too. All the other major manufacturers announced and are shipping their Merom notebooks (Merom is the original Core Duo with a larger cache and 64-bit X86 support - AKA the Core 2 Duo). Apple themselves stuck Merom into the iMac already. But Merom is a chip for portables. So why hasn't it made it to the Apple portables yet?

I'm going to speculate wildly here, but maybe they're waiting for the next forthcoming chipset from Intel before they release. Or they are redesigning the enclosure (the current MacBook Pro is basically stuffed into a modified PowerBook shell). Or maybe it's just because they can't get enough CPUs from Intel right now.

Either which way, the ramifications to me were that I had to cave and buy a current MacBook Pro while I was on vacation two weeks ago (we were down on the Vineyard the last week of September) - otherwise I wouldn't have had a computer for my employee I hired (I stole her from Apple). The upside is that the 17" MacBook Pro (which I bought) is a nice piece of hardware.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Memo to the Mouse

We enjoyed our trip to Disneyworld last year at Thanksgiving. Really, we did. We might even come back down there in the next year or so.

But we absolutely do not want your damned Disney Rewards credit card. Really, we don't. So please stop sending us 3 or so solicitations per week for it. You're not going to break down our resistance - the only thing in our house likely to break from these is our cross-cut shredder. We aren't getting any more credit cards. Honest.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A modest proposal

Here in Massachusetts, a panel just recommended that we raise our gas tax by 9¢ to pay for infrastructure, keep the Mass. Turnpike Authority around forever, and assign several more roads to them so that tolls can be added if need be.

I have a better idea. Massachusetts gas prices are some of the lowest I've seen around in my travels. And the roads are used by nearly everyone. Our existing toll structure has some serious inequities (people like me who come from the North Shore, for instance, pay a whopping $3 toll, but people who come in from most of the northwest or the entire South Shore pay nothing - and folks who live to the west pay at most about $2). We have a big state agency (the Turnpike Authority) that is filled with redundant employees, we have hundreds of tolltakers, it's just a big mess and in this state, it's even more patronage-laden than most.

So what we do is this. First of all, we raise the gas tax by 20¢. Sounds bad, huh? But with that money, we eliminate all tolls everywhere on the Pike and related roads. Disband the Turnpike Authority and move all debt obligations to the general fund.

The catch is that in enabling the 20¢ increase, that entire sum must be assigned to a separate fund specifically for highway construction and maintenance - and not available to the general fund. And given our track record of the Legislature's obeying the law (how's that 5% income tax rate working out?), I'm not sure they can do it.

Plus it looks like a tax increase, even though it's approximately revenue-neutral. And voters are so stupid they probably wouldn't get it.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Guinea-pigging

As I sit here blogging while my wife and son nap in the bedrooms (I've been planning my appointments for next week and reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, one of the three books I brought with me and the second one I've gotten to while also downloading Mac OS X 10.4.8), it occurs to me that I'm something of a guinea pig when it comes to OS updates. I download and install them the second they're out so that I can support them when I get to work (if only Apple didn't release most of them on Fridays, while folks were still at work then I could take my time).

And I also was just reading some message board complaints about the current Red Sox team (folks see Theo's moves as dismantling a championship team). And I think they're wrong - we are essentially guinea pigs for a new way of managing a team. And I can see the logic in it. The Sox system is basically big-money Moneyball - the Moneyball philosophy but with big dollars available to fill the holes and complete the team. Long-term, it should work, but what happened is that they caught lightning in a bottle in 2003 when they started deploying a roster was supposed to be a stopgap, and wound up nearly winning the AL. Then, with a few changes, they won the whole darn thing in 2004 - a significant enough fact that I dragged my then 2-year-old son downstairs from a sound sleep to see it, because he might not ever get the chance again!

Back then, we figured that the Sox would get a mulligan for a few years after winning. Well, the mulligan lasted a year, as it turned out. This is basically the first team of the New Sox era - this is a transition year where injuries and issues forced them to play more of the kids than they expected to, and sooner than they should have. The real lightning in a bottle was the convergence of events that killed this team in August, and in hindsight it was sheer luck and a lot of guys playing over their heads that allowed them to stay in contention until then.

In another year or so, you should see a good core of home-grown players that can stick around for years to come, supplemented by just enough big-money veterans and role players to keep this team solidly in contention for a long time. I really think that.

The weather here, by the way, is now looking up for the remainder of the time until we head home Sunday, with the rain having passed around 1 today. We'll be heading back out to have more fun as soon as I can pry my two lazy travel companions out of their beds...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What? You mean they don't just leap out of the water?

Today was a formative moment in our David's young life. As promised, we took him fishing - heading down to the docks in Edgartown after breakfast. Originally, he was pretty arrogant about the whole endeavor - telling us he'd catch a fish this big (stretching his arms as far apart as he could), and that we'd be eating it for twenty-one days.

Twenty-one is about the biggest number he really understands fully.

The first crack in the armor came when we walked down to the docks after eating (the Main Street Diner's changed owners in the five years since our last visit, and though it's not bad it's not as good as it was, either, and the prices went up). The Derby is happening right now, and we walked by the shed where they do the scoring, and we saw both the big prizes (a Nissan pickup truck and a fishing boat). This rattled him, and when I asked him if he was going to catch a fish big enough to win the truck, he demurred. And then, inside, he saw a pretty big striper - probably about a 25-pounder. That gave him pause as well.

But he soldiered on. And after I cast a few for both him and myself (I gave myself a crash course in casting last night - did OK at it), he just couldn't comprehend the idea that the fish just might not want to grab the hook, and that you might have to wait a while and might not even get one. Well, that just threw him for a loop.

We held on there about an hour - longer than I expected he'd make it. Then, we took off (with some frozen squid in tow) for the bridge at the Edgartown/Oak Bluffs line on State Beach, where we searched fruitlessly for stripers.

The rest of the day was mundane, yet fun. Instead of the twenty-one days' worth of striper meat, though, we went out for Mexican at Sharky's Cantina - where they accidentally made a second burrito for our table instead of the one I'd ordered, and gave it to us for free (it's in the fridge now, along with all the other leftovers).

I'm not even sure what we're doing the next few days...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday came and went

And no MacBook Pros with Merom processors to be found. This is not good. I'm going to cross my fingers that they make it in tomorrow, but between availability figures again moving towards instant gratification on the Apple online store and the lack of mention at an obvious place (the Photokina event that wound up only introducing a new version of Aperture), the odds are looking poor.

Which sucks a little, because I pretty much have to order one this week so I can get it to my new person who starts next Monday.

For once, big wrestling news

As my readers know, I'm a pro wrestling fan. I make no apologies about it - I like watching the action, I appreciate the athleticism that goes into making a good match (even if the outcome is pre-determined and usually obvious), and I like the way it's, at heart, a soap opera for guys. That said, there's rarely any news out of the business worth treating as real, legitimate news...

Except this - at last night's PPV broadcast, TNA Wrestling (WWE's only national TV competition) announced two things: one, that in November they'd be moving to prime time. And two, they'd signed Kurt Angle to a contract. That's huge. Angle is, despite his physical issues (he was released from WWE in part due to a painkiller dependency) one of the true stars of the business. And working the part-time TNA schedule is the best way to preserve his fragile body. It makes sense, even if I never really thought it would happen. TNA tapes at most two days per month, with a PPV one Sunday per month and rare house shows. WWE runs four days per week, every week, with one and sometimes more PPVs per month. In schedule, it's no contest.

If Angle has, as he claims, been working diligently to heal his body and get himself back in order, this is one of the biggest signings in the recent history of the business.

In other news, I'm watching in a couple of hours to see what Apple's announcements are (MBP, I hope... I have to order one today one way or another), and other than that I'm just sitting here in Oak Bluffs, chillin'.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Barring a major upset

Unless something major changes, the long-awaited (well, for a few weeks, at least) Merom-based MacBook Pro will be announced at an Apple special event that coincides with the opening of Photokina on the 25th. There will also be a significant upgrade to Aperture along with it, and who knows - maybe something else, as well.

Unless, of course, they announce the MacBook Pro this week instead. But this is what I'm expecting.

I was moderately impressed with the iPod changes this past week - increases in capacity and battery life, price cuts, and the Shuffle is truly so small as to be lost frequently (so they'll sell more!). The movie service is about what I expected for starters, iTunes 7 looks neat, and increasing the resolution of TV downloads was a nice bonus. iTV will be darned slick, and pre-announcing it, though rare for Apple, has the effect of freezing the market for prospective competitors without costing Apple any real sales (after all, it's an additional product instead of a replacement for something they sell already).

What was really nice was how they snatched all the thunder from Microsoft's Zune announcement, and the price cuts caught Redmond by surprise. As of right now, I don't see any serious threat to Apple anytime soon.

One more NASCAR post

I had to post this, because it was just too much of a slap - from Boston Globe writer Fluto Shinzawa's NHIS blog:

* Jon Howland, DeWalt's director of marketing, calls Matt Kenseth the perfect driver to represent the power tools manufacturer. "If we wanted a spokesman, we would have hired Michael Waltrip," Howland said. "He's got a ton of time to talk about the Napa brand because he doesn't make a lot of races. That's why we align ourselves with Matt."

That's just cold...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Turnover

Drivers who were in the Chase last year who aren't in it this year (in order of their finishes last year):

• Tony Stewart
• Greg Biffle
• Carl Edwards
• Ryan Newman
• Rusty Wallace (but he retired)
• Jeremy Mayfield
• Kurt Busch

Drivers who are new to the Chase this year:

• Kevin Harvick
• Kyle Busch
• Denny Hamlin
• Dale Earnhardt Jr.
• Jeff Burton
• Jeff Gordon
• Kasey Kahne

Drivers who made the Chase in both '05 and '06:

• Matt Kenseth
• Jimmie Johnson
• Mark Martin

Those three are also the only drivers to make it in all three years of the Chase format.

And the most telling stat of all, the one that makes sure that next year will have a different points system:

Number of times in the three seasons of the Chase system that a driver has made it in by being within 400 points of the leader (instead of being in the top 10:

• Zero

I'm certain that, at least, we'll see an increased bonus for winning (maybe another 10-15 points). Maybe they'll change the points a little to put more emphasis on top-fives, and maybe for poles as well. And there will probably be a change to allow multiple winners in the Chase automatically. If the rule were to allow any race winners in, we'd have three more drivers in this year:

• Tony Stewart (2 races won)
• Greg Biffle (1 race)
• Kurt Busch (1 race)

So it's not like you're exactly letting in all the riffraff. One race would let all three in, multiple races would just have gotten Stewart in. Interestingly, if the rule were to require at least one race won to qualify, both Burton and Martin would be out (neither has won, they made it in on the strength of a lot of top-tens).

Then again, they haven't asked me. And I'm not even that huge a fan. I'm just a math geek when it comes to this kind of stuff.

Friday, September 08, 2006

As I understand it

From the symptoms, David apparently developed Fifth Disease this week. Jane is taking him to the doctor to confirm that, but it's a very minor ailment for an otherwise healthy boy, and he is probably already over the contagious part.

That said, he was kicked out of school late this morning once everyone realized that was likely his ailment (policy). No biggie. He should be back in Tuesday.

Week #1 of pre-K was quite the washout - he wasn't there for two full days this week (home early Tuesday with fever, out Wednesday, in Thursday, out after a couple of hours Friday)...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

One follow-up point

I blogged about the new iMac announcement earlier today. Now, for some serious analysis. It was no secret that Apple would upgrade to use the new Core 2 Duo chips (Merom). But everyone (myself included) thought the announcement would be as part of the Jobs presentation next week ("And besides just giving you movies, we've also got these gorgeous new iMacs to play them back on"). Since they were just dropped on a regular old weekday, this probably means there's an even bigger shoe than expected for Tuesday in conjunction with the iTunes Movie Store launch. I honestly have no idea what it is.

It also tells us that going forward, product refreshes like today's will probably be pretty nonchalant. Expect plenty of hype when there's a major product change, but when MacBook Pro (for instance) gets its inevitable Merom upgrade in the next few days, expect a similar fanfare-free announcement to today's.

This does make my prognosticating job a little harder, though...

Surprise, Surprise...

In keeping with the almost all-Apple trend of the last few posts, Apple threw a real curveball today - upgrading the mini line (each model gets a speedbump and the Core Solo passes into history), and completely re-doing the iMac to upgrade speeds, upgrade to Core 2 Duo, and to add a model with a 24" display. Oh, and they cut prices, too - and re-did the bottom 17" model to match the edu-only one and get an iMac under the all-important $1000 price point (by $1, but it still counts).

Now that Apple's done a product refresh on a day other than Tuesday, all bets are off for the future!

(Also, I was expecting the iMac to be announced next week and the MacBook Pro this week)

In other news, my father in-law was discharged from the hospital today, and David's health is much improved.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

False Alarm

Apple had their store offline at 10 this morning for about a half-hour - usually, when this happens on a Tuesday that means they've got new products to sell. But this time there was nothing - just a false alarm. Next week, though, they've scheduled a press event that pretty clearly telegraphs the new iTunes Movie Store (at the very least). And it's scheduled to be in San Francisco, on the first day of Apple Expo in Paris (Apple doesn't like France right now due to DRM legislation there - hence the dis on doing it here instead of a full-fledged Stevenote).

In other false alarm news, my in-laws came to visit last Tuesday and were supposed to head home today. Unfortunately, though, my father in-law had to be hospitalized over the weekend - but he is now the proud owner of a coronary artery stent and all should now be well. It's good that this happened here, where the medical care available is top-notch. And David came home from his first day of pre-K with a significant fever. Tylenol and rest seem to be helping a lot, though, and I think he'll be back in school Thursday.

And I'm working my butt off as usual.

Monday, August 28, 2006

This week in Apple

I am expecting Apple to announce Merom (Intel Core 2 Duo) - based systems within 3 weeks at maximum. Possibly as soon as tomorrow. Intel officially announced the chips today, and several manufacturers have already announced their Merom notebooks.

Why is there a windows of several weeks in my guess? Well, it's a balancing act. If Apple has enough chips on-hand to start launching systems (a week's delay or so at most), then they'll announce. They really don't like to have a dry product pipeline, so they probably won't announce anything early. Most of today's announcements quoted 2nd half of September ship times. Apple is probably still getting some preferential treatment from Intel, so we'll see. Apple launches are on Tuesdays, so if tomorrow morning the Apple Store has a "closed for renovations" page up then you know it's coming.

My guess: MacBook Pro updates either tomorrow or next Tuesday. Nothing major other than the chip upgrade and a Rev.B logic board. iMac updates follow within a week of the MacBook Pro, and maybe alongside it. The mini and MacBook stick with Core Duo (prices on the 32-bit chips have declined), but get speedbumped by Columbus Day. Sometime before Christmas Apple upgrades all Macs to 1GB minimum RAM.

A future revision to the MacBook and mini (probably not concurrent with the first speedbump) may add a separate graphics processor. I'm not certain of it, but as chip costs decline it's an obvious way to add performance without hurting margins.

Fiasco?

I'm a little torn about the current slate of battery recalls that Dell (and now Apple) have announced. Even though on the surface it looks like a QC issue for the companies themselves, I think it might be more of an opportunity - and so far Apple is doing a slightly better job of managing it.

Here's why. In the modern world, everything is made by a subcontractor - and Sony is the subcontractor that made the LiIon cells that turned out to have metal contamination (which is why they're being recalled - metal could lead to a short in the battery cell). Apple clearly stated that Sony made the batteries in question (passing the buck, but it works), and made a simple procedure for exchange. They are promising long delivery times, though, which could be a problem if they come true. When my MacBook Pro battery was recalled a month ago (not for safety, though), I had a replacement on-hand in two days. If they can come close to that on the new recall, it's probably a net win for Apple from a customer service perspective.

In Dell's case, they had their recall announced on the heels of a slew of bad news. It also took them a while to get the recall up to speed, though now they have a simpler method of determining whether a battery is affected - a basic chart of numbers and a picture guide of how to look it up on the battery pack. Dell sells many more models than Apple, so they have a much wider array of possibly affected models and don't bother looking for a Mac serial number to help determine whether a computer is affected.

Ultimately, if both companies (and any others who use Sony LiIon cells) can simply get the batteries replaced fast, it'll be no more than a minor bump on the road for them. Sony, on the other hand, really can't afford this embarassment right now (with the PS3 launch looming), and could be taking a big hit from this.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Fixing the Chase

NASCAR's Chase for the Cup is about to enter it's third year. The format is simple: the top ten in points, plus anyone within 400 points of the leader are in contention for the championship - everyone else is just racing (they reset the points with ten races to go to mathematically prevent anyone else from winning) for a paycheck. Well, in all three years we have some seeming injustices going into the Chase; it's obvious that the format needs tweaking to open it up a little, but how to keep it from being a free-for-all?

The Charlotte Observer's David Poole has been thinking about it, too, and today he wrote an interesting column about it. The basic conclusion: Stick with the top 10 after 26 races. But add anyone within 200 points of 10th place (making it likelier that folks can race their way in), and also allow anyone with 2 or more victories into the Chase. That would most likely expand the field to around 13-15 drivers most years at most, and make it less likely that a single bad day (a blown motor, or being caught up in someone else's wreck) would knock a driver out of contention. Right now, everyone from 4-11 in the standings is racing as conservatively as possible so as not to blow their chances of making the playoff - meanwhile beyond them only the drivers in 12th (Biffle) and 13th (Edwards) have even a dim chance of making it in. Under the changes Poole proposes (and I like), Kahne (11th, 90 points out) would be in right now, Biffle and Kurt Busch would be a win away from cliching a spot (each has one win), and Edwards and Biffle would both have a good chace to make it in on points (Biffle, in 12th, is 251 points out of 10th, Edwards only 10 points behind him). Only a minor tweak, for the most part.

I've only watched Cup racing for a few years, but I've noticed one thing. There are, according to the roster on Yahoo Sports, 69 drivers as of right now who have had at least one Cup start this season (there are 43 spots in each race - the top 35 cars in owner points make it in each week plus 8 cars out of the rest that can qualify on speed). 33 drivers have started every race - 4 more have started at least 20 of the 24 races to date (5 more are in double-digits - the rest are mainly scrubs, part-timers, or specialists in a particular course type). However, No driver farther back than 14th in the standings (Kurt Busch) has a win (Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, and Kasey Kahne have 4 wins each), and other than Kahne, Tony Stewart (in 8th right now) is the farthest back in the standings with multiple (2) wins. Two drivers currently in the Chase (Jeff Burton in 7th and Mark Martin in 10th) have no wins but have been consistent enough to stay near the top all season. In fact, other than Boris Said (44th in the standings, but he's only run 4 races so far, two of which are road races), no driver farther back than 21st (Elliott Sadler) even has a pole!

The point here is that the strong drivers don't go much farther back than 10 spots anyways, so changing the formula to potentially add a handful of drivers isn't likely to screw things up at all.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The test

Assume, for a moment, that you are a wrestling fan (since I am, that part is easy). For those of us who enjoy the sport, the most entertaining wrestlers in the last 20-odd years list would incude Ric Flair and Kurt Angle. They're up around the top of my list, but they'd be somewhere high up on almost any fans' lists. Now, assume you can travel through time and put together a triple-threat match (three wrestlers in the ring at once), and I got to pick the first two - and I picked Flair from around 1990 (he was about 40 then, and at his peak) and the Angle of 2001 - before his chronic injuries started to take a toll on his in-ring style.

Now, here's the test of how good a wrestler is. If you had the aforementioned triple-threat, and Wrestler X was the third man, would you:

(1) Travel to the arena to see it, no matter where?

(2) Go get a ticket if it were in your area?

(3) Order the pay-per-view eagerly?

(4) Order it reluctantly?

(5) Watch it if it were a free TV match?

(6) Watch it if you had nothing better to do?

(7) Change the channel because you can't stand the third guy?

(8) Or travel to the arena in the hopes you might be able to wing a bottle at the third guy?

To me, for instance, if Chris Benoit was in that match as the third man, I'd probably go get a ticket to see that show (2). Were it the Blackhole of Suck that is Randy Orton, it would be either (6) or (7), with an outside possibility of (8) if I'd had a bad week. Were Eddie Guererro still alive and at his best, it might be (1). Almost any wrestler's skill and charisma can be tested using this guide. I mean it.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sports Fest?

After a very good outing at the MIT Flea yesterday (I sold an old iPod and 4 of my 6 PDAs - the only things I have left now are my Treo and a Newton 2100 that you'll have to pry from my cold dead fingers), I returned home around noon with a wallet full of cash and time to kill before Jane and David return today from a visit to her parents in New Jersey.

So did I go out and buy a bunch of new gizmos? Nope.

Did I go out to a nudie bar? Heck, no! (I'm not even interested in that scene)

Did I buy the WWE Summerslam pay-per-view, or better still, go into Boston and pick up a ticket? Nope.

What I did was read the newspaper, watch the Cup race on TV, head out to look for a decent fan for downstairs at the end of summer (no luck, though), and go to bed before 9. No Summerslam. No Sox game (all for the better - they're cooked now. No chance left at all). Just more sleep than I've had in weeks. It was nice.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

What Mac would you buy right now?

Not for nothing, but if I were in the market for a Mac, I would buy a Mac Pro without hesitation (if I ran a lot of stuff in Rosetta, I might even spring for the $800 processor upgrade), I'd buy a MacBook if I needed a low-end portable, and if I needed an entry-level desktop I'd buy any Mac mini above the bottom one (the Core Solo chip is mediocre). And I can't speak for Apple, but I think I might be inclined to wait a few weeks to buy either an iMac or a MacBook Pro... Intel's Conroe (64-bit Core2 Duo) is shipping now, and pretty much any good "Yonah"-based (the original Core Duo) computer will upgrade to Core2 Duo by around Labor Day.

Coincidentally, Yonah is in all the Intel Macs (except for Mac Pro) so far...

I have no inside info, but this is kind of a no-brainer. The Mac updates next month will offer slightly more performance (both in raw clock speed and in performance per watt), and 64-bit computing. I'd wait if I were you.

Toast

Ladies and gentlemen, the 2006 Boston Red Sox season ended today. Losing three in a row by lopsided scores will do that to you. The Sox are now 3.5 games out and have a very good chance of being swept. As I mentioned a few posts ago, it's just that they've lost too many players to stay afloat. So let's start thinking ahead to 2007 - and see who is likely to be vanishing this offseason:

Mark Loretta: Gone. He's a very talented player, providing solid defense and better-than-expected offense, but he's a free agent and the Sox have the highly regarded Dustin Pedroia coming up to fill the roster spot.

Trot Nixon: Also a free agent, he's got talent and he's a fan favorite, but he's going to be too pricey and he breaks down every year. Unless he takes a steep discount, to stay here, he's gone. Wily Mo Peña is the right fielder of the future (with possible help from Eric Hinske).

Matt Clement: He won't walk away and retire - there's too much money on the table (2 more years) for that. But he's toast. Too much of a headcase to pitch here, and damaged goods now on top of it. He'll be shipped with cash to the National League where he can pitch to Triple-A batters. The worst free agent signing of the Theo Era.

Keith Foulke: He's lost his arm, the fans can't stand him, and he's only got an option year left on his contract. I think he'll quietly go away after the season. He may come back to finish his deal if he pitches well over the next month, though.

The two Alexes (Cora and Gonzalez): One of them will leave in the offseason - probably Gonzalez. He's played well enough to earn a multi-year deal, and probably won't get it here.

Gabe Kapler: He'll be back, I think. He's a great team guy, a decent defensive player, he's fairly cheap, and he's a fan favorite. I think he's in the Tim Wakefield "as long as he wants to play here, and he's got the skills to do it, he can stay" category.

Tim Wakefield: He'll return, if only because he doesn't want to go out this way. I think he'll play two more years.

Curt Schilling: If he can get to 20 wins this season, and pitch two more quality years, he goes into the borderline Hall category. He'll keep playing, and he'll do it here. One year left on his current deal, I think.

Julian Tavarez: Gone. Don't let the door hit you in the kiester on the way out, either.

Mike Timlin: His mouth still writes checks his arm can't cash anymore. I think he's done.

David Wells: Done. Retirement time.

The biggest off-season needs? Pitching, of course (we need a starter and lots of bullpen help), and a reliable 5 hitter. There should be enough cash freed up with some of these departures to make some medium-impact signings in the free agent market. Between that and the continued maturation of the rookie pitchers, the team should contend next year as well. My major hope is that Jonathan Papelbon can move back into the starting rotation where, long-term, he belongs. Papelbon can be the anchor of the rotation for the next ten years if all goes well.

Waiting for Godot

When I'm on the road, I mainly listen to the local Air America affiliate (they run the AA schedule, except for the syndicated Stephanie Miller and Ed Schultz shows). As fits their lower position in the ratings (and radio in general), they run a lot of ads from slightly shady outfits. One of the latest techniques I've seen has been used with several different products and services (real estate, family history, etc.). During the ad, they phrase it to seem that it's a new news release, and then they say that "if your name starts with A-N (or another mid-pack letter), call today. If your name starts with O-Z, you can call tomorrow".

I know that's supposed to create a sense of urgency, but what if you're really dumb and want to buy their product - and your name is something like Wyman Zelkowitz? (I know, if he were real dumb he wouldn't be listening to AAR) Do you wait forever? Since the next morning you'll hear the same ad again, does the clock reset at that point?

Not that I'd ever buy what they sell, but my last name starts with T. Obviously, they don't want me as a customer!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Conceding one point

As much as I utterly detest GWB and the entire administration, I'm going to concede them one point on one subject. Unlike virtually the entire civilized world, Bush understands on a gut level why there is no real political solution to the current Israel-Hezbollah conflict. Unfortunately, I think he understands it because of his own millennial worldview - when you think the book of Revelations is literal, you recognize other fanatics.

The fundamental problem is this: Hezbollah (and Hamas, down on the southern frontier) don't believe Israel has a right to exist. Period. So for them, any truce, any cease-fire, is simply a temporary bump in the road towards their overall goal. Israel's main objective is to simply exist. Sure, more territory would have been nice, but secure, defensible borders is more important to them as a political reality. And that's the problem in a nutshell.

Sure, Israel has done a lot of not-nice things over the years. And will continue to do so. But people who claim legitimacy for the terrorist organizations at their frontiers, or expect truces to hold should remember - despite their sins, the Israeli government is a democratically elected government that represents a plurality of the voters in a nation-state that was created as a result of an act of the United Nations, granting it legitimacy. Hamas and Hezbollah are organizations who are devoted to using terror techniques to try and meet their perceived religious mandate to make Israel vanish.

As a result, there is no conventional solution. Eventually, either one side has to win definitively (and even though it means killing thousands upon thousands of people, I think it's likelier that Israel will eventually prevail that way), or the Arab and Islamic states that host the terror groups will someday grow a pair and destroy these groups themselves. If the shell of a Lebanese Army had pushed Hezbollah away from the border years ago then their entire nation wouldn't have been bombed back into the Stone Age over the last several weeks.

And that's the reality that, shockingly, GWB seems to understand.

(or else he has some actual smart people explaining it to him using small words)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Not good

I won't say to stick a fork in them yet, but I think the Red Sox may have lost one too many players to injury this season to win. As tough a time as the Yankees had without Sheffield and Matsui, and as inconsistent as Johnson has been, they still have had a generally solid rotation and bullpen. The Sox, on the other hand, have had 60% of their projected starting rotation on the DL (Wells, Clement, and Wakefield), and they've lost 4 of their position players for extended periods (Crisp, Peña, Nixon, and Varitek). And both Foulke and Timlin have spent time on the DL - two people who are bullpen mainstays. I think that's just too many. Jonathan Papelbon has been lights-out as a closer (despite blowing his last two saves), but he was expected to be a part of the rotation.

Remember, during spring training the Sox had so much starting pitching available that they shipped Arroyo to Cincinnati to get Wily Mo Peña in the first place. They had no idea there would be this many injuries, of course. Nobody did.

The bright side is that they've managed to develop 4 players who were not figured to be significant factors this year - all of whom are good young pitchers: Papelbon, Manny Delcarmen, Craig Hansen, and Jon Lester. That helps a lot, and there are some position players in the pipeline for next year as well.

They still have a chance - if they can stay close for the next week or two, they get some players back soon (Wakefield and Nixon are hopefully going to be back in about 2 weeks, and a couple more project to return soon), which helps. But right now they've lost 4 in a row for what I think is the first time this year (and to Tampa and KC, of all teams!). This has to get fixed first.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Announcement Summary

No big surprises from Apple today - they did, as I expected, add built-in video to the Xserve. Good move - that frees up both slots for cards (for instance, a SCSI card to run a tape drive and an FC card for your Xserve RAID). It also has 750 GB drives as an option, and either SAS or SATA attachment. And PCI Express is now the standard as well. Most importantly, there's now an option for redundant power supplies. The only disappointment to Xserve is that we can't get them until October - I believe it's due to timing issues in porting Tiger Server's tools over. The hardware is ready.

Mac Pro is pretty much all that is expected. No surprises, other than that it's a little cheaper than I figured that they'd skew. Leopard Server will be the shiznitz (more importantly, it adds a calendar server). And in the third-party arena, VMware announced their port to Intel Macs, Microsoft confirmed the death of Virtual PC (why bother porting it, when Parallels is shipping and VMware is on the way?), and playing the role of Adobe (see my prediction post) was Quark, announcing the shipment of version 6.01 as a Universal Binary (and giving them a golden opportunity to knock out InDesign).

Look for Core 2 Duo product upgrades across the rest of the Mac line over the next month. I wouldn't hold off purchases for the most part, though. If you're looking for a PowerMac G5, you can still get them for now as well.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Neville Chamberlain

My wife means well, but she's an appeaser of the worst sort (I engage in hyperbole here). Our son has developed an annoying habit of late - crawling into our bed sometime around 5AM or so most mornings and bunking down with his bear in between us. He sleeps at first - so quietly that we don't even notice his arrival most of the time.

Then he starts getting restless. He squirms. He shoves. He burrows. And we wake up and try and figure out what to do. The last few nights, Jane's had a plan that she thought would help: she told David that if he wouldn't make room in our bed, she'd go sleep in his bed. Which she then does.

And about 30 seconds later, he takes off and follows her. Which gets him what he wanted all along - mommy sleeping in his bed. It gets me something I don't mind, at that (a queen bed all to myself for an hour or so), but it's still appeasement...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

One WWDC followup

Just one minor addition - this is Things I Want To See At WWDC but probably won't.

- Xserve in a more SOHO-friendly form factor: 20%. Unfortunately, Apple seems to see Xserve as a "enterprise-only" product. If they could produce a tabletop version that's big enough to have these (or equivalent) specs:

• Single Core 2 Duo processor (no Xeon needed)
• Built-in SATA RAID support (for striping or mirroring)
• 2 hot-swappable drives, using the ADM form factor from the bigger Xserve (it holds 3 drives)
• Built-in video
• 1 expansion slot - PCI Express
• 2 USB ports, 1 FW400, and 1 FW 800 port

Apple can price it a little below the Xserve price point (but not too far below) and sell them like hotcakes to small businesses. Right now the options are G5 tower or Xserve - a G5 tower has plenty of muscle and doesn't require a rack, but no RAID or hotplug drives. PowerPC Mac minis used to make good low-end servers (if you didn't mind software RAID with the Firewire drives), but they're gone now. Plenty of 5-10 person companies could use a Apple server but have no need for all the infrastructure that goes with an Xserve, and lack the space for a rack system. Think about it, Steve...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Rubbing the genie's lamp

A week an a half from now is one of the favorite things an Apple watcher can experience - a Stevenote (tm). This Stevenote will be to kick off Apple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), and Apple has some neat things on the agenda. With the demise of MacWorld Boston (RIP), WWDC now represents one of only two in-country regularly scheduled Stevenotes - the other one, of course, is at MacWorld San Francisco in January. At last years' WWDC, Jobs announced the migration to Intel chips. At last January's Macworld, he announced the first two shipping Intel-based Mac systems (the iMac and MacBook Pro). WWDC will mark about 7 full months since Intel initial shipments, and there's still some pieces of the puzzle left to fill. Here's my prognostication about what is likely to be announced at WWDC, and the odds I'd attach to each of them.

By the way, clients of mine pay for more nuanced versions of this. Enjoy the freebie!

- A Mac Pro (or similarly named PowerMac G5 replacement): 99.5%. The only thing that can derail this announcement is a last-minute manufacturing problem. Look for the Mac Pro to be equipped with 1 or 2 dual-core Xeon processors (preserving the 64-bit goodness of the G5), but otherwise to be close in specifications to the current G5 towers. A new enclosure is likely - Apple always changes the tower design with new processor families.

- New Intel Xeon-based Xserve: 80%. It may be skipped if they don't want to steal any thunder from the desktop announcement. No idea on specs, other than that it'll stay at 1u height. I hope to see onboard video and built-in hardware RAID, thus saving both PCI-X slots for expansion (it may move to PCI Express at the same time). If Apple skips this, look for a low-key announcement a few weeks later.

- iTunes movie download service: 30%. Apple doesn't usually announce this kind of stuff at WWDC - they usually either hold separate press events or do it at MacWorld.

- Speedbumps for existing Intel Macs: 60%. They may do that for a model or two, but for the most part they'll be done in passing, like they normally are in the Windows world. Expect a clock increase on the MacBook Pro by September, and maybe a move to the new Core 2 Duo (pin-compatible with the original Core Duo) for iMac before fall, as well.

- Death of the G5: 100%. Even if Apple doesn't dump them on announcement day, they will drive the final stake in the G5's heart that day. Expect Power Mac G5s to be available for a couple more months, and Xserve G5s to be available for about the same time - maybe a little less.

- Adobe coming out on stage to suck up: 75%. I think they'll be out there to demo CS3, and to say that it's ahead of schedule (even if they have to lie and/or eat crow to do so). Adobe pissed off Apple when they weren't at least partway done at the Intel Mac launch. They're going to have to pay tribute, or Apple may...

- Apple adds to their Pro software line with Photoshop killer: 40%. If Jobs isn't happy with Adobe he may pull this out of the skunkworks and fire a major shot across Adobe's bow.

I have other guesses as well - but that's the batch I'm sharing pre-WWDC.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Still alive...

Just because I haven't posted in two weeks-plus doesn't mean I've died. Really. After vacation I had a few days of solo childcare (followed by several more days of recovery and a trip to Storyland last weekend), and a huge amount of work.

David loved the roller coaster.

More eventually.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Midweek thoughts

I've got a little downtime today due to cloudiness - so I'm catching up while the sisters hang out with their folks downstairs and the kids are all watching Nickelodeon together (my brother-in-law left this morning to head home for a golf tournament):

- We managed to mangle a batch o' lobsters last night for supper. Though this house is enormous, the kitchen is woefully equipped and the stovetop puts out about 5 BTUs, so it was a bit of a scramble. The lobsters didn't enjoy their fate, by the way.

- I thought the fireworks here might be cancelled (we had a huge thunderstorm coming through right around dusk), but we had just enough clearing to get them in before a second, smaller wave came through. We didn't go all the way into town, though - everyone else stayed on the front steps of the house while David and I went across the street to the beach for a better view.

- The lightning show may have been more spectacular, though. Lots of cloud-to-cloud strikes.

- Monday night we all went up to Wildwood and did rides on the pier. David had a major-league meltdown when we got on the bumper cars and he couldn't drive the one he was in with Jane (he couldn't reach the pedal). His cousin Caitlin was OK with just riding along, but not our little control freak.

- So after Sherry plucked him out of the bumper car we let him go on the kiddy bumper car next door. He wound up spinning in circles and banging the wall a bunch.

- Yesterday at mid-day we went to the zoo. Always a great trip. He got to see a real-life brown bear, and decided that he'd stick with his stuffed one.

- With my brother-in-law gone, I now have the responsibility of making the morning trip to Wawa to get the Atlantic City paper (I get the Philly paper, too, so I can get a less parochial view of the world). The bright side of that is that it's really close by, and I get a few minutes of solitude and good coffee in the deal.

- The kids are doing a matinee of Cars this afternoon.

- Here's the view out my window:

Complete with a moiré from the screen door. But I was too lazy to open it, or to take the shot with anything other than my built-in iSight.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Notes from Beachside...

We arrived here in Cape May around 4:30. Just to give you an idea, we hit our first traffic of the day at the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York at 10:15 - we got on the highway initially at 7. So the first half of the trip took 3 hours and 15 minutes. The second half took 6 hours and 15 minutes. I hate this drive.

The nice part is that once we get here, it's fun. Last night we didn't do much - Jane and I made a run to the grocery store in the evening (leaving David at the house), but we were all too pooped to do much else. Today has been different. We were all up at a decent hour - instead of going to the beach, though, we went into town and picked her folks up after church, then we all did lunch and headed to the Coast Guard PX to buy an extra set of sheets and some toys. I've been sitting around with a book and planning a hot tub run soon.

Tonight is yet another grand family picture (Jane's folks like to do these every couple of years), and tomorrow we'll get into the serious recreation part of the trip.

Watched the end of second Daytona last night before bed. Interesting race, though it's nowhere near as much fun to watch in regular NTSC TV. I'd say Tony Stewart is healed from his broken shoulder now, Boris Said is for real, and Jeff Gordon got screwed badly. The lack of a Big One early in the race (which usually happens in a plate race) meant that the wreck that finally did happen knocked Gordon down to 40th.

The good news is that Jimmy Johnson got knocked way back due to a wreck as well, which I like for two reasons. One is because I'm not a fan of his at all, and two is because it now starts to bunch up the standings more. It'd be nice to see more than 10 drivers in the Chase.

More reports from the beach as the week goes on...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bonus round

I played my first round of golf this year in the local Chamber of Commerce tournament this past Monday. It turned out to be a nice day, and though our group was darned competitive at 9 under par, I had to leave the event before dinner was served to get home (since I was headed to the Vineyard in the morning, I wanted to have dinner with my family). I left thinking we were fourth, behind the first-pace team at -13, a group at -12, and another at -10.

Well, one of my teammates called me this afternoon with the news that we had been third after all - turns out I misread the scoreboard and the -12 was actually a +12. Sweet! He dropped off the gift certificate at my office this afternoon. It was a pretty fun group, too, which made winning a prize more fun. In a scramble, most of the teams are in it for laughs and the competitive groups are too serious about their golf. Scoring well and having a laugh - that's a win/win inn my book.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Distance blogging

Tonight is the first time since November of 1992 that I have spent a night staying away from my family (Jane's gone away a couple of times with and without David, but I haven't). I'm spending the night at my favorite place on earth (Martha's Vineyard), I'm doing work, having fun, and making money, but frankly I'd rather be home with my wife and kid.

However, it was cool to come back down here - I haven't been to the Vineyard since late September of '01, which was also the last time Jane and I took a week's vacation solo anywhere. I do love the ferry ride, and it was also nice to not have to deal with my car this time - I left it up at a SSA parking lot and was picked up on the island. The project I'm working on is pretty cool. My job out here was to set up all the technology. Wireless Internet service, a new iMac for use, and soem other goodies.

On a nicer note, apparently the new Novatel Wireless EVDO ExpressCards will be available in a week. Thank goodness. That was the only thing left for my MacBook Pro to be fully useful, and I'm glad I held off buying a regular cellphone for tethering.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Why I hate the NBA

I shouldn't hate the NBA, really. I played a lot of basketball in my youth, played pick-up ball for years afterward, and learned the game from a dad who was a center way back in the day when a 6'2" white guy could play that position. I watched it a lot when I was younger, but here's the top 5 reasons why I think pro basketball now simply sucks:

5: The players are kids. Having teenagers play in the league is something I don't like. When you can't get acquainted with the stars of tomorrow during their college career it makes you relate less.

4: The average NBA player now comes from a world that I don't connect with. I'm not a hip-hop kind of guy - I'm a 40-year old with a wife, a kid, a minivan, and a mortgage. It's not really a white/black thing, more of an old/young thing. I know the lingo but I don't have the moves. Players in my day didn't have tattoos everywhere, they mainly had modest haircuts (except for a few afros and mullets), and they weren't wearing more jewelry than my wife out on the court.

3: NBA referees suck. They have the worst officiating of any major national sport, even worse than football's part-time refs. The officiating in the NBA finals was the main reason why there isn't a game 7, and why the Heat are already champs.

2: The games are more about the "experience" nowadays than the game. I loved the game. I don't need laser shows, cheerleaders, and arena rock.

1: Back as late as the early '90s, basketball had flow. Scores were high, defense was aggressive but reasonable, and 120-115 scores were normal. Then came the Pistons, and after them the Riley Knicks, and the game slowed down to a crawl. Now you have more 1-on-1 play and less movement - it's all about the hard foul on the rare trip to the basket, and I think the 3-point shot is terrible for the game. Boo hiss.

I grew up a Knicks fan - and I remember the early '70s teams they had, the great Celtics/Lakers battles, the Sixers with Erving, and all the play from that era fondly. If I had time, I'd only watch ESPN Classic to see that stuff. That's the basketball I grew up trying to play, the basketball that means something to me. Not the crap that I see nowadays.

You kids, get outta my yard!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Big bad boom

I'm going to bed now, but a little while ago there was a major wreck in front of our house - as best as I can tell from the sound and debris the initial impact was just by the pizza place across the street and the impact was so fast that the two cars involved careened about 40-50 meters down from there. The first car was t-boned by a much faster-moving sedan, which was a total wreck with severe injuries. The driver was hurt and I suspect drunk as well. His passenger was not as lucky. I believe she is alive as I type this, but there was a big head-shaped hole in the windshield where she was catapulted into it. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised to read in tomorrow's paper that she didn't make it. I hope I'm wrong.

When we heard the boom, I was upstairs getting ready for bed, and Jane was watching the news downstairs. I jumped into a pair of shorts as she called 911 - fast as she was she wasn't even the first caller. I ran out in case I could be useful, and much of the neighborhood had the same idea. I had to go about three houses down to get there and there was already a crowd, with the cops arriving at record speed. Also, one of the utility poles got taken partially out, complicating things. When I saw that I decided it was time to head back.

As a side note, ever since one crash I saw back in my Norwood commuting days, I've always carried an extinguisher in my car.

Anyhow, the sad thing here is that a person may well be dead, and if that's the case it was because of the lack of a seat belt. If people would be smart enough to drive sober, wear seat belts, and not drive too damn fast in the first place the roads would be a much safer place. And since both Jane and I are people who spend a lot of time in cars for a living, I really don't think that's too much to ask of society.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Also noteworthy

I added a few links on the nav side today, besides writing a real post. One blog, one software package, and one online column. I feel so productive now...

Physician, Google Thyself

As most of you who read my rambles regularly may have realized, I try and write a title for each blog post that gives a simple summary of the entry's main point, along with (hopefully) a nice pun of sorts.

I also am a firm believer that you should periodically Google yourself to see what/if people might be saying about you, or what writings of yours come up first. I, for one, have a Google trail that goes back to the early '90s (both on USENET and the web) - I've been online a long time and have said a lot. My practice here (believe it or not) is to avoid being too specific about some things (read the archives, you'll get an idea) and never say anything that I wouldn't say to someone I've known about 5 minutes. A lot of people are just waking up to the idea that most everything they've ever said in public is cached in all the major search engines - I've known it for years.

Anyhow, the most interesting thing I turned up this time was an entry about 4 pages in. Some guy who has a Wordpress blog on music took exception to the entry I wrote back in October when I picked up a cheap iPod Shuffle. Why? Because after using the title I used, I didn't write about Springsteen, or even about music.

Wah. By the way, I don't write much about potty training anymore because he's done with it.
(though once in a while there is an accident)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Screw with the planet long enough

And sooner or later, the planet will start screwing with you. A month of rain? Record-setting hurricane season? Blizzards? scorching hot summer days? Yep.

When you increase the amount of heat in the system, it's not just that the average temperature gets warmer. It's that there's more energy in the global feedback loop. Storms become more frequent and more violent. Cold days get colder, hot days get hotter. As we melt more ice from the poles and lower the salinity of the oceans, the current loops that steer weather around the globe will slow or cease entirely. Europe's going to freeze at some point.

Basically, we're screwed. I suspect we've passed the point of no return on climate - 5-10 years ago we might have been able to change things but not anymore. Humans will survive, of course, but the world we're giving our children is not going to be nearly as nice a place as the one we had. Way to go, humanity!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

MacBook - surprisingly suh-weet!

I set up my first MacBook (the $1299 middle configuration) for a client yesterday, and it was much nicer than I feared it would be. Heat is warmer than an iBook, but cooler than the MacBook Pro (or maybe that's because mine is a little faster, with a higher-speed drive). The reflective screen is pretty nice - I expected a worse mirror effect - the screen is very sharp, and the chipset-based acceleration is fine for routine business and recreational use. It doesn't ship with enough RAM, though. Rosetta (as I've mentioned before) introduces roughly a 30% memory hit over a native PPC Mac per application - a small price to pay for the compatibility and (typically) performance you get from it. But with only 512MB of RAM standard and provided as a pair of pre-connected SO-DIMMs, you have to scrap all the existing RAM to get up to a usable gigabyte. Which is a shame, not to mention priced poorly.

Were I designing the MacBook, I would have tried to incorporate 512MB right on the system board, leaving the DIMM sockets open for expansion. Other than that quibble, it's a well-engineered system, the size factor is really good, and I'd say overall it makes both iBook models and the 12" PowerBook G4 its beeyotch. The only thing you give up compared to a PowerBook 12" is the metal case, ATI video (and slightly smaller size), because the 12" was always just an iBook with a shiny aluminum skin. The backlit keyboard that the MacBook Pro (and bigger PowerBooks) had isn't on the 12" or either iBook anyhow, and you also get the built-in camera, 802.11a capability, and the multi-display support the iBooks lacked.

It's basically a worthy ride, and had I not bought my wife a 12" iBook back in December as a birthday gift I'd be looking at these. My only advice to the prospective buyer - skip the black color. True, you get an 80GB drive instead of a 60GB, but other than that it's the exact same machine for an extra $200. If you really want the 80GB drive, add it as a BTO option on Apple's website - that way it only costs $50.

Also, with virtualization all the rage I'm expecting to have a review of Parallels Desktop in a few days - I'll post it on the BNUG site as well as here.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Racin' thought

Because there aren't many...

After my annual two-race day (I've liked watching both the Indy 500 and the evening NASCAR race on Memorial Day weekend for years - even since before I learned anything about it), I had a thought on how to make the NASCAR points system more competitive. Right now, the rules say that the top 10 in points, plus anyone within 400 points of the leader are the ones to make the 10-race "Chase for the Cup" that they finish the season with. This is the third year of the system, and in both the prior years it's been just the 10 drivers to make the playoff.

The reason for this seems to be the points system itself. So long as the leader manages to stay catastrophe-free, it's almost inevitable that he will add to his lead weekly before the points reset for the playoff race. With the leading team playing pretty safe, they can still wind up with top-10 or top-15 finishes that just don't really hurt too much in the overall standings. So, for instance, unless Jimmie Johnson has an early DNF in one race between now and September, he'll do no worse than maintain the spread for the rest of the "regular season".

My idea is simple: stretch the points gap allowable out to 500 instead of 400 (as of right now, that would allow 2 extra people into the Chase, with 2 more on the bubble), and also increase the points for a win (right now, you get 15 points over 2nd place) to 20 or even 25 - giving more of an incentive to go for a win instead of playing it safe. Maybe even get rid of the "5 points for leading a lap" bonus - all that does is let the multi-car teams make deals with each other to allow each driver to lead and pick up a few points (the Roush drivers do this every race). Make sure incentives (and points) drop off sharply after the top 10 at most.

What should result is a more competitive sport and a more inclusive playoff - which can only help make the sport more watchable. Besides, it's in my interest to have a better sport - my kid likes it so I'd have to watch it anyways!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The terrible twos (continued)

When do the Terrible Twos end, anyways? David turned four this week (on Wednesday), and with the exception of a few moments of nice, he's been a walking disaster for a while now. Yikes. Today, we had to take the step of marching him out of the bakery this morning when he simply wouldn't behave - leaving his cookie behind. A terrible waste of a cookie, but oh well.

Yesterday we went to Ikea and bought a hew home office rig for me - a wraparound table that I am using to properly move things around in there - it's a fairly small bedroom that I work out of, with limited storage. I have two regular desktop computers (a Windows box and an iMac G5) that I need to accommodate, plus I need a place for my work laptop (a MacBook Pro) when I'm in the house instead of at the "real" office. I had an old particleboard desk that I'd owned for around 13-14 years or so, and a newer rig that is kind of an avant-garde setup designed for one small PC. So now I have both my desktops and the laser printer on the new desk (with plenty of room for my other stuff), and I can reserve the small desk for the MacBook - which lets me keep my work life separate. I need a new chair, too (the old one is really battered and broken in a couple of spots), but I couldn't find anything compelling there.

Ikea trips are kinda fun (despite having to drive about 45 minutes to get there) - we get a nice lunch, the stuff is cheap and pretty good quality, and David can go play in the supervised play area while we keep shopping. Swedish furniture rules, though assembling it isn't always a joy.

Tomorrow, I get to take the holiday off - we're going to head down to the Willows and try to both have family fun and keep our boy from misbehaving too much. Wish me luck!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Grim Determination

Today, we had David's 4th birthday party (he actually turns 4 on Wednesday, but Mom's going away for her annual sales meeting tomorrow morning - so we had the party this weekend). This year we kept the group size down some, compared to the previous three, which worked out well. And unlike years past, this time he managed to not cry when everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to him (he'd promised me he wouldn't).

But the really notable thing was that he ate a second piece of cake - even after everyone else finished and went back out to play, he kept at it. Here's proof:



See? That look on his face gave me a good title for the post...

Other than that, I'm pretty busy (as usual), but I deliberately booked a slightly less intense schedule than usual for this week so that I could have more time for David while Jane's away. And on an unrelated note, I'm looking forward to the D-X reunion (if it happens as the WWE has been teasing for the last couple of months). In other sporting news, I did not watch any of NASCAR's all-star race last night. Yes, I've come to like stock car racing somewhat, but not enough to watch it when it's not on Hi-Def. I will, however, be watching both races next weekend - I've always enjoyed the Indy 500 (I like the signature events in most sports - even ones I don't normally follow) and I plan to stick around for the later NASCAR event as well.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

It's launch Tuesday...

The Apple Store online just went dark. Expect MacBooks (the iBook/PowerBook 12" successor) to be launched today - maybe some other goodie or another, but probably nothing major other than that.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Glub...

Howdy - I've been meaning to post, but we're underwater. Glub glub.

Actually, our house isn't too badly off. We've had enough rain that our roof's been leaking some, and the front window in our bedroom is having some issues (when we get a hard, persistent rain out of the due east, it's prone to leakage in the frame), but overall our 100-year-old house is holding up well. The basement is fine, unlike some of our friends in town.

However, getting in and out of town is another story. Neighboring Peabody's entire downtown is underwater, and one of the main roads through our town is seriously underwater as well - the local McDonalds is flooded to the counters as of right now. Several of the secondary roads are having some issues as well. I went out for a little while this afternoon to do errands and navigating wasn't easy at all.

As for everything else, David's been sick since Thursday night, when he got home and started running a fever. He's been ill since, though his temperature is mainly down and his spirits have been pretty decent the last couple of days. I took him out for a while yesterday in the rain and he bought Jane a card, flowers, and a bag of Trader Joe's corn puffs for Mothers' Day. We were slated to go out this morning for brunch but he really wasn't up to it.

Given the current weather, we're pretty lucky we even have a house to hang around in right now! The forecasts say that after tomorrow we'll be drying out for a few days some. I'll believe it when I see it.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Memo to Barry Bonds

On the eve of tying Babe Ruth for the all-time #2 spot in career homers, I just wanted to tell you something important. You've misunderstood us, the American sports-watching public - I would like to set the record straight.

Yes, many of us (not me - I was a child of a more progressive era) in this country hated Hank Aaron because he was black. As a nation, most of us got over that as we adapted to changed times. It was shameful, though. But that said, virtually nobody hates you because you're black.

We hate you because, in the single-minded pursuit of baseball's loftiest record, you went from being possibly the greatest all-around player in the history of the game, a feared slugger in your own right, and a guaranteed first-ballot Hall of Famer to a bloated human lab rat. Between the steroids and the HGH, you now are a joke in the outfield, you've got a head the size of a small sedan, and your muscles look like they popped out of a Popeye cartoon. It's obvious, what you did to yourself to hit more home runs, and it's a waste of one of the all-time best players.

We also hate you because you've demonstrated that you can't look in the mirror. You refuse to acknowledge that we, the public, are on to you, and you insist on passing the buck and trying to blame things like racial tension. Racial problems exist in this nation, but that's not the problem with you.

And most importantly, the reason we hate you, Barry, is because you're an asshole with a 20+ year track records of being one of the most miserable, arrogant pricks in the sporting universe.

Nothing personal. But I hope you get indicted on the same day you hit number 714.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Underwater

I'm in the middle of a weekend project - one of my biggest clients is moving from their office on one side of town to a gorgeous new space across town (only about a mile away - it's a small town). Today was the longest day - I brought my friend Greg out to help me and we took down the servers and moved them to the new site (updating DNS for the new IP addresses). Tomorrow I'll be heading back up solo to help get workstations online - I'd have done it today but the desks are still being built!

Beautiful place, though, and it's coming along well. I may even post (or link) a picture once it's all finished.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Solution

I read a very clear editorial in today's Salem Gazette (a free weekly that is part of the Boston Herald's group of papers) that surprised me - given the parent company's uber-conservative views.

The basic premise was this: government has no real business being in the marriage business. Marriage was historically something provided by religious institutions. It's in recent centuries that this became governmental prerogative. So the ideal solution to the gay marriage issue is simple - take government out the equation. Let marriage again be the province of religion - so if you want to get married, you do so (or have it denied) within your church. And no special societal privileges go along with it.

On the other hand, any couple who wants one can get a civil union at their local town hall. And that's how a legal partnership is formed. It's perfect - civil unions aren't "marriage", so the foaming-at-the-mouth crowd gets to crow about how they can keep gays from marrying. And couples, gay and straight, can continue to get all the benefits of marriage today, but under a different title. Some gays would be able to get married - if they belong to denominations that allow it. Simplicity indeed.

Of course, this would result in duplication (people who get married and then get a civil union to make it legal) - but then again, since we have to take out marriage licenses in the first place isn't it pretty much the same thing?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Stages

They've been gone for almost 36 hours now. It's not as bad as I just tried to sound, though. Jane and David took off yesterday morning to go visit her parents for a couple of days - they'll be back late Saturday afternoon (it's about a 6-7 hour drive). I had too much work on the docket, so I had to stay behind - and her folks were unable to make the Easter week trip they normally do, so it's nice. David is very lucky to have all four of his grandparents still - I figure it's good to enjoy it while he can.

It's a little rough on me, though (not that I need any pity), because to me there's nothing more important than having my family near. Even on the days where David, being mercurial, wants nothing to do with me - heck, even on the days that my wife wants nothing to do with me! So my substitute for them is extra work, for the most part. I'll also be getting some cleaning done tomorrow (after a long day on the South Shore), and besides that I at least still have my cat handy. Which helps.

I'm trying to develop some new business possibilities that, if it goes well, will finally let me expand the business safely. That's been a priority for some time now to me - I've developed things to the point where I feel I can make a good, reliable living from my work but I don't have the flexibility to be able to walk away for a week or so (that thing called "vacation") and know that things are taken care of. I haven't had a week-long vacation in over 4 years - came close a couple of times but not exactly. And I've come around to the idea that "making it" requires the ability to have more than one person working for you when you're in a service business like this. I work for several advertising companies right now, and one thing I've noticed is that the freelancers who contract to them may indeed be "Type A" personalities but they still can take themselves out of the game for a week or so. Thus far I can't, and I've got to change it one way or another. Hopefully I'm on to something, though.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Slowing the pace

I've been flat-out for about three weeks now. Feels good, even if I am driving too much. However, next week I'm expecting a bit of a slowdown - I'm still mainly booked, but with fewer activities per day. Plus, I picked up a few new clients that have some good potential.

On the home front, David's been a little less maddening the last few days, put really clingy in the mornings. And yes, he's potty trained. He even wears regular underwear to bed and has for a week now. Of course, by saying this I've just guaranteed that I will be getting up at 4AM to change his sheets - so I better go to sleep now and rest up.

Final notes for today - I'll be writing up a short review of Parallels Workstation for Intel-based Macs in the next few days. You'll find it on the LANtern, BNUG's blog. And I will be doing a huge update to David's photo pages on my home server sometime soon. I've got about 6 months of catching up to do. After that, there will be another update of it sometime in June or so, and then it'll officially go to updates about twice per year. I just don't have the time to make photo pages regularly anymore, even though my site stats on the home server tell me that the pages are popular.

Monday, April 10, 2006

I'm not cutting back on purpose

Really, I'm not. I'm just pretty busy as usual. I may slow down enough to enjoy turing 40 (this week), but I'm not counting on it.

In other news, last night David wore his underwear to bed for the first time. And woke up dry. I think we just might be there...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Prizes galore!

I came home a little early today from work - when I picked up the mail, I found that Jane had won a prize in some goofy-ass contest that I suspect she entered online. It was a pair of $10 gift cards for the Olive Garden.

Apparently that was first prize. Second prize must have been four cards.

We spent the weekend in Connecticut, visiting my family and friends of ours in a nearby town. Missed the Hell's Angels shooting by happenstance - we often go that way and it was at the time we would have been going that way. Traffic in southern CT is bad enough without dodging bullets.

Mac OS X 10.4.6 was released today - my MacBook Pro is busily updating itself. Hopefully it fixes the VPN problem with the 10.4.5 client (when talking to a 10.4.5 (PPC) VPN server, it disconnects after a minute). The third-party Digitunnel VPN client has no such problems, so it's something Apple. About 80MB to go - it's a biggun'!

I believe I can count David as fully potty trained now. Of course, that means he'll whiz himself tonight.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

MacBook Pro, day 1

My MacBook Pro arrived yesterday morning - 2 days earlier than I expected (a nice surprise - when I left for the office Fedex's website was saying that it was in Indy, on-track for a Friday delivery. Then I got the knock on the door about an hour afterwards...). I had too much work to do to deal with it right away, so I set it up last night.

The configuration is a pimped-out MacBook Pro, with the 2.16 GHz preocessor upgrade, 2GB of RAM, and the optional 7200RPM 100GB hard drive. The setup was, for the most part, vary simple - I just copied my older PowerBook over using the Migration Assistant and let the transfer (about 60GB of data) roll while I had dinner and went out for a couple of errands. The only three things of note from using Migration Assistant: It was unable to copy over Missing Sync (my third-party Palm sync software) properly, but I just had to re-serialize it to solve that, it does not copy over the serial number from Apple Remote Desktop Admin (again, re-entered), and all my VPN configurations were left behind. To fix that last glitch I simply exported my VPN configs from the old PowerBook, then re-attached all the passwords. Not a big deal for most, but since I have about a dozen VPN configs loaded (I use VPNs to manage most of my clients' networks) it was a little painstaking.

That done, here's my early thoughts. I love MagSafe (the new connector scheme for the power adapter), though the brick is a tad bulky. It provides 85w of power, though, instead of the 65w older PowerBooks drew. Rosetta poses virtually no issues, and performance is pretty good on emulated code, too. My only real loss for now to Rosetta's limitations (no mixed mode operation) is the Flip4Mac WMV codecs - the Universal version hasn't shipped yet. Some people have noted a whine coming from the transformer on-board on MacBooks - I may have heard it (not sure), but one of the first things I did was back down the backlight a notch (reduces power use notably, and it's still brighter than my Rev. B Aluminum PowerBook G4 was). No noise issues at all accordingly.

Also? This sucker is fast. I mean, boot in 1/2 the time, launch apps that are native instantly instead of waiting, and super-quick program switches with native code. Just to give you an idea - I went from the PPC version of Missing Sync on the old PowerBook to the Universal build on the MacBook, and the first time I synced my Treo this morning I thought it had failed - because the entire sync took only about 10 seconds.

Nope. It went perfectly. It just worked about 5-6 times faster than I'm used to. I think I'm going to like this MacBook a lot.
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