Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Today's notes...

When I got home today and picked up the mail, here's what I found:

1 package from a Babies 'R' Us, for Jane's baby shower next month (I assume - I'll let her open it).

Issues of IEEE Spectrum, Network World, Infoworld, and Reason.

The Martha's Vineyard Gazette. One can fantasize...

Catalogs from some curtain company and LL Bean. And a card for Jane from some friend of hers.

Credit card bills from Amex and a Mastercard we have. Looks like we've been well-behaved in the last month. The Mastercard bill included "courtesy checks", just in case we wanted cash easy. How thoughtful.

A privacy notice from GMAC. Like they aren't going to just give my name away to all comers. Sheesh.

A solicitation from Capital One for a loan to pay off debt. Oops, other than the aforementioned car and our house we have none.

Three separate solicitations, otherwise identical, for MBNA pre-approved credit cards. The dumbasses don't even realize that we're already customers - I love what crappy CRM software can do for a company.

Basically, we get so much snail-mail spam that I was half scared to carry it all upstairs over the last month while I was restricted from heavy lifting. It's amazing. And you can't just throw away all the solicitations and credit-card checks - identity theft is easy enough without making it easier. Last year we bought a nice cross-cut shredder - all the credit card checks go through it, along with anything overly identifying in a solicitation.

I do something better with the rest of it, though. All the MBNA mail (and anything we get like it) gets identifying information torn out and shredded. Then I carefully tear up the rest of it, along with any extra inserts, and I put it back in the postage-paid envelope and send it off to the junk mailer.

I figure it's a win-win. I only spend a couple of minutes a day, and I get to vent my junkmail rage. The USPS, which has fallen on hard times recently, gets much-needed mail revenue from the junk mailer. And my actions cost the junk mailer money. And to quote Diamond Dallas Page: "That's not a bad thing - that's a Good Thing".

First day golfing tomorrow afternoon. Yippee!

Monday, April 22, 2002

Gibbs update

My blog was mentioned in Mark Gibbs' column about a month ago, and he mentioned that a prize would be forthcoming.

Nothing thus far. Just thought I'd mention that.

Friday, April 19, 2002

Golf season's almost here!

It would have been here already, actually, except I had that pesky umbilical hernia surgery two weeks ago. I had my follow-up appointment today, and the news is this:

- I can be a little more vigorous in my activities now. But not too much more. I can lift around 15-20 pounds at once instead of the 10 I was restricted to, but I should still kind of take that slow for a couple more weeks.

- I can start playing a little bit of golf (did I mention I love golfing?) - working on the short game and such for the next week or two. Then I can start swinging the bigger clubs.

- My navel will continue to look strange for another month or two. But it's healing fast. There's a bulge where the muscles were stitched together, and a couple of pinhole-looking things at the bottom where the scope went in. Boy it was a tiny pair of incisions.

- Unfortunately, I have no excuse to avoid a few of the things around the house I have dreaded. So I will be spending a decent chunk of tomorrow putting up "window treatments" in our second living room (we have two of them - it's a funky house design) and in the baby's room.

Baby's room update: a friend of Jane's painted Winnie-the-Pooh scenes on the wall in the baby's room. It looks great. Unfortunately, I'm sure he won't appreciate it until he's about 20.

Fun story of the week: last night, around midnight, we noticed police bubblegum lights flashing outside our bedroom window, on the side street. I looked out, and there was a car that had been pulled over with a patrolwoman at the car inspecting it, while her partner remained in the police car. A few minutes later, they let the car go and went off back on patrol.

This morning, I noticed a Budweiser box in my backyard. I thought nothing of it (though it's not recycle week), and went to work. When Jane went to work a little later, she noticed it too, and went over to prod the box. It was full of Bud bottles.

Apparently, I'm guessing the folks in the car probably were underage and ditched the case. I pitched it out - though I've been known to drink a beer or ten, I don't like regular Bud too much and lord knows where that case had been.

Come visit my friend Rob and I at the MIT Flea this Sunday!

Sunday, April 14, 2002

Yet another reason the RIAA sucks

Okay. This past Friday, I went and had the Combo Drive upgrade installed in my TiBook (amazingly, the Apple Store in Peabody had an extra when I dropped in there Thursday evening while running errands for my wife - they put it aside for me to pick up the next day). I've burned a couple of things that were waiting to be done - I'd accumulated some burn material over the last couple of months, and my Acomdata external Firewire drive didn't work right with MacOS X 10.1.3 (FYI, I plan to bring it to the MIT Flea next week if anyone is interested - other than the 10.1.3 issue, it's a good drive). So I burned a disc of packet traces I'd taken when I was at one of my sister companies last week (I'll Fedex it to them tomorrow), and then I started thinking about what else I needed to burn.

Then I remembered that I haven't been able to find my copy of "Mink Car" - the most recent TMBG album that I bought last fall. Well, since I'd ripped it right after buying it, I just went and burned myself another copy. Though I'd only encoded the album at 160k, that's fine for car use. So I un-ripped it back to audio format out of iTunes, and I'm going to put it in my car to replace the missing one - which I'm sure is just buried in a pile of junk somewhere here in the house.

Anyhow, the point here is that I went out and legally bought that disc last fall. I own it. I have the right to re-purpose it as I see fit, provided it's for my own use. Keeping a copy in my car is a very legitimate exercise of that right - provided I don't then turn around and give someone else my original (not a problem at the moment, since I can't find the darn original).

They want to take that right away, though - whether by copy-protecting my disc or by criminalizing the behavior. Either way, they want to take my fair use right and remove it.

And that's just wrong, folks. Do something about it. Let your Congresscritters know how you stand on these issues. Support politicians and organizations (like Digital Consumer) that will help you get your views across. Support the EFF - they help defend the groups, companies, and people who are being unfairly targeted by Big Media. Most of all, don't buy music that supports them. there are artists who are coming up with more consumer-friendly ways of doing business. Support them when you find them.

As a side note - the stereo in my car does damn near everything else - it's a shame that it doesn't support direct MP3 playback, too. And as I rip the rest of my album library to iTunes, I need to remember to rip it all at a minimum of 192k. The higher the bitrate, the better it'll sound if I have to un-rip it.

Saturday, April 06, 2002


Oof. I'm writing this little update note on a Saturday afternoon because I need to take it slow for a couple more days. I had an umbilical hernia repaired yesterday, which actually went very well, but it's kind of sore.

But hey - the bright side is that Percosets can be fun, especially when you take one every six hours like instructed. As a result, today is officially "lounge around in my bathrobe day".

Better to have dealt with it now than to either interrupt golf season or do it after the baby's born, I figure.