Just went through all my old Journal Entries, which I haven't done since moving most of my stuff into Multiply.com.
Looking at replacing the laptop I bought way back when... https://slashdot.org/journal/141816/new-laptop-and-laptops
I started here on April 1, 2004. I moved to Multiply on Feb 17, 2007. Figured After all this time, I might as well check in back here.
Road Runner is now Comcrapstick
I have had a cable Modem in suburban MN since 1999. Time Warner cable had only been offering cable-modem service for three weeks, and they hadn't started the TV ads for it yet. My family Email addresses were
Firstname@, Firstname@, Firstname@, FirstnameX@, FirstnameMiddlename@ ... no numbers, dashes, unmemorable components. Basically, the benefits of an early adopter.
Now Road Runner, Minnesota, was purchased by Comcast. So, we loose our great Email addresses... all of us. (Grr). Besides all the craptastic things Comcast has done to everyone I know who's been stuck with their service, I'm forced into loosing my Email addresses. Aw, hell!
Goodness... Sorry... just venting.
GoogTube and Chad Vader
Have you seen "Chad Vader, Day Shift Manager" yet?
It's really fresh, and quite hillarious. My kind of humor. There are four episodes of five minutes each.
Seach "Chad Vader" on youtube, or get info from the creator's official web-page
[Local] Music Night
I finally broke down and joined myspace. Mostly because I was looking for info about these bands.
Friday Night. Music. Live Music. I wasn't playing the music, I was listening. My wife and I. Went to see Action vs. Action, but was surprised by the first act. Carra Barratt, I shook her hand, and bought her CD, I said something Corny, and regretted it immediately.
After Carra, These Guys came out. My wife suggested they were "almost right". I hope it was a slightly off night for them. Oh, and the lead singer really looked like he could be related to John Malkovich. Sorry guys, I didn't buy your album. I'll probably end up seeing you again, though.
Next, was a group called International Espionage!. They had a decent sound, though the beat was a little monotonous, and band brought along an enthusiastic following. They are hard to take seriously in all-black costumes, and red head-lamps. The lighting during their show was also pointed more at the audience than at them. Hard on my eyes.
Finally Action vs Action. What can I say.. these guys Rock. I'm still not sure about the "rock stick" though. Just doesn't make a lot of sense, but the lead singer seems to like it, so whatever.
Alice Cooper - Welcome to My Nightmare
The height of Alice Cooper's career, and one of my favorite albums. Why do I mention it? I was reminded of the album from the title of another Journal entry, which - actually - recounted Beatles lyrics. Anyway, this is from the very odd, sad song, Steven.
I don't want to feel you die
But if that's the way that God has planned you
I'll put pennies on your eyes
And it will go away
New Laptop, and laptops
O.K. I haven't had a real PC upgrade in nearly four years. I cannot find affordable RAMBUS to upgrade the RAM [[the CPU is a 2GHz P4 (not "bad", even now), and it's had a Video Card upgrade, but it's stuck at 512MB of RAM]].
Last Sunday, there's a 24 Month same-as-cash advertisement, with a Laptop (plus rebate) on the same page. So, I say to my dearest, "Hey K2 is starting college and he needs a laptop, and I could use the same one, and - oh - we could probably finance it at zero interest on a two year plan.
Then I told her how the price dropped because the Core 2 Duo was out this week, and the prices on all of the other CPUs were dropping, and that this was the least expensive I've ever seen a Core Duo CPU in a decent laptop. I was basically talking her into something that I knew would be a good purchase, even though we realy don't have the money (see college above). Basically a win-win!
So, off we go to CompUSA. And I fill out the credit app, and they guy comes back with a number, and my wife says, "We could get away with getting one for K1 and K3, too!" Hrmph. Well, I've always been one for equity amongst the little ones. Even though K1 is long moved out, he's working, and struggling, and hell - he's in IT, and it's his Birthday. Yeah, and the Intel chipset IS DirectX 9.0c compatible, so it will run WoW without issue. So, now it's ME being talked into taking a leap.
First off, if YOU are the poor schlep who called up, asking for them to hold one of these laptops until you could get there on Tuesday, I'm really sorry. I didn't know I was taking the last one, and that the last one was on hold for you (who only wanted one), so that I (my wife) could walk away with FOUR! Again, I'm sorry, but the Manager didn't tell us until he walked us out.
So, the laptop only comes with 512MB base, and that's not quite good enough, so - for four laptops - I bought 3 1GB sticks, and now two have 1.5GB, and two have 1GB (perfect). Also needed to put the three-year service plan on all of them. Hey, look, we got almost to that number, and my wife comes over with some back-pack style carrying cases. I say that I don't need one, and that I'm happy with my hard-shell case. So, add three of those. Yeah, honey, you'd probably better put a few of those bags on your checking...
Anyway, I ran an IT department for some time, and Toshibas have always treated me well (no brand has even a good service record, though, so I always get the extended warrantee, because there's only been two systems I've ever dealt with that didn't need the warrantee [ but their twin sisters always still did need that warrantee ]. My only issue with ANY Toshiba is that a few of them have been a little more fragile than I liked, and if you let them fall-asleep in certain ways, they are impossible to wake up without shutting them off, and rebooting - but that's easy enough to set-settings around*, and it won't happen to mine.
For the Geeks
Toshiba Satellite A105-S4074
Intel Centrino Duo:
Core Duo 1.60GHz
533MHz Front Side Bus (533 MHz DDR2-SDRAM)
Intel A/B/G Wireless
120GB SATA HDD
TruBrite 15.4" LCD 1280x800
Dual Layer -+ DVD/CD drive
Built-in Ethernet (100)
Built-in WinModem (probably will never use it)
And something that I've only seen on Satellites, that I really like... hard switch wireless on/off and a hardware volume dial for the built-in speakers and/or headphone jack.
It would be a little more perfect if:
...only it had an IR port
...only it had a built-in microphone
...only had a slightly higher resolution
* Wake on Keyboard Input in the BIOS.
Multi Medium Purchases Make Big Purchase
Bah, don't like the title. Perhaps I'll try again.
Bought something, which became a purchase four somethings, one for me, one for each of three kids.
Yeah, I'll try again on that title.
4 Months at Job
So, after 9 years out of programming, I've completed four (and a half) months of my new (aging) Perl programming job. What you may not know is I was brought on as a contractor, working for a local outsource company, who is loaning me to an outsourcing firm from India, who is loaning me to big-company (which may have been mentioned in a recent Slashback article) locally.
The bad news is, well - this is a stretch - but the bad news is that I haven't had paid vacation time in that time, and -- I took a vacation -- so I'm hurting a little.
The good news, is that they want to hire me. This means I've proven myself competent enough to be worth the risk. (I interviewed very poorly. I totally failed the Perl competency test they gave me, but I Aced the SQL competancy test they gave me. [Keep that in mind if you think I'm better at Perl than you.]) So, at five and a half months, I've been told to expect a formal job offer *kewl*.
This will soon be offset by them worshipping me, and giving me the CEO title. *Nudge* Oh, sorry, I must have been dreaming.
The Ikea Explanation
So, I took my son to Ikea while he was up for a visit. There are no such stores where I came from. So his Gramma asks me, "Isn't Ikea a some-assembly-required furniture store???"
This is about as incredulous as she'll get, and I felt like I had to explain myself. So, what I sent back reads more like ad-copy than an Email. Enjoy it, and feel free to ridicule me for it.
Yes, mostly. The initial "draw" is the sheer size. Take the space of
four large Best-Buy stores, and add a little more, across two floors,
and several distinct phases. It's also not limited to what you'd
expect to get from Wal-Mart's furniture area. Add to the standard
assembly-furniture, things like modular kitchens, flooring, couches,
You start at an escalator to send you to the top floor. And you're
supposed to pick up a browsing bag. It's like being in a maze where
Rooms-To-Go style showrooms are all packed together. but it's many
more rooms. End-caps, and aisle-bins have small items that are meant
to be put into the browsing bag. Rooms are all made up of stuff
elsewhere in the store. There are rooms set up to various economic,
and style considerations, from natural woods, to industrial grays, to
bright colors, in collage-dorm, first apartment, and "I've got some
money" levels. When I say "rooms made up of" that includes modular
closets, kitchen sinks, pictures, lighting, floors, floor coverings.
Next section is dedicated to types of furniture, desks, desk chairs,
lounge chairs, dressers, couches, lounge chairs, kids stuff, and then
to the Sweedish cafeteria. Meatballs, of course, but also salads,
deserts, smallish sandwiches, and more kid-friendly stuff...
Down the stairs (the two landings are covered with different types of
their modular flooring. Time to turn in the browsing bag for a
They have a section dedicated to wall hangings, photos and paintings
in all sizes, and others dedicated to lighting, rugs, cook-ware,
bedding (sheets, bed-spreads). Again, the path is back and forth,
which just makes the place seem even bigger, then ... walk through the
doorway into the warehouse area. That cart can now be traded in for a
flat-bed. Anything you liked in the rooms upstairs is here, with
fully assembled samples in-case you forgot to write down the aisle and
Final transition is to the cash-register area, with lots, and lots of
bins .. batteries, light bulbs, throw-rugs, cups, back-scratchers...
just stuff. Past the checkout line, a snack area where you can get a
50 cent hot-dog, or a 1 dollar cinnamon roll.
The second "draw" is the European style. Little wonder, being the
place is European, but it's different. And different is good. The
furniture is strictly 'get what you pay for', but pretty much
everything is just a little better than you'd expect (just a little).
1 finger sliding drawers is the rule, not the exception - and the
instructions have no words - just numbers and pictures.
So, yeah, it's an assemble it yourself furniture store, on some
Been a while
I've been lurking on the boards, I've been following Sam (TheButcher's) programming stuff very closely, though it's probably not obvious. I haven't posted nearly as much as I've wanted to.
So, I'm going to write a few journals. Probably mostly useless.
All messaging options off.
I'm heading to
... where lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon.
his woman ran off with another guy...
I'll be back when I'm back. If you journal past now, I probably won't ever see it, but I might get a chance to check my Email while I'm gone.
Have a great Independant Holiday everyone. For those not in the U.S., well enjoy your regular old work-days.
[Movie] A Prairie Home Companion
" It was a dark night, in a city that knows how to keep it's secrets... "
The movie was necessary for me to see. Every weekday, my car is parked in the parking ramp attached to "the Fitz", I've only lived in Minnesota since 1999, and I'm keen to learn as much as possible about it's peculiarities. The radio show that this movie was written about (though fictionalized) is definately born from Minnesota.
Well, it wasn't that big on plot, though the setup had a lot of potential. However, doing what it could have done, given the elements available would have probably been too contrived. Lindsey Lohan was in it... a character re-written into the movie ...didn't have a purpose, except to be the only character in the movie under 35 years of age. If it weren't for John Reilly and Woody Harrelson, there'd have been nobody else under 50.
It's an old folks film about old folks doing things that old folks care about. There was a little too much about death, and not nearly enough about redemption. It was given high star marks because the characters were all believable in their roles, not because it was an important movie, or that the movie had an exciting plot.
As far as bringing the radio show characters to life... well - Guy Noir was dumber than I expected him to be. Dusty and Lefty were a bit smarter, but ultimately had far more depth than they warrant. There were no stories about Lake Wobegone - though there were stories.
The style was interesting. Besides a few minutes before and after the middle of the movie... the whole movie was going on during one broadcast of the radio show. Most of it taking place back-stage, while the show itself was ever overheard during the scenes. Otherwise Tom O'Keiffe - the sound guy from the real show got to do sound-effects during the show - but Sue Scott - who does most of the female parts during the stories in the radio-show only got a small part as a makeup lady.
It was fun, in part, because of the elements that it had that are particularly local. I know people who are much like every character in the movie, though I may not have known most of them had I not lived in Minnesota. In that, I have a hard time recommending the movie. Yet, I'm glad I did see it.
My wife, who was born in Minnesota, thought that the movie was pointless, and boring. Me, I liked it, but didn't walk out of it thinking that it changed my life, or even my week. So, there you go. Probably the worst review you've ever read.
So, the kid graduated, and even got a real High School Diploma. He starts the local community collage in the fall.
Two more to go, then ... I'm DONE. Done FOREVER. No more kids.
No, my wife doesn't see it that way. A little, but not like I do.
Any new graduates in your families?
[Geek] VMWare Free - So Far
I decided to write about VMWare, and my short experience with it. Partly so that others who might be thinking about playing with vitualization might get a feel for what it takes.
I have this four year old - P4 @ 2GHz w/ 512MB (PC800 - impossible to find affordably) RAM. It runs Windows XP Pro... The processor is not-hyperthreading, and WAY before DualCore.
I registered and downloaded through a GMail account. It's VMWare Server, not Workstation, or Enterprise - those are Eval licenses. It's not "Player", as you can't create your own images. Server is "beta", and - at least for now - free if you give up an Email address to their marketing folks.
I installed the VMWare Server software directly onto the described computer (I didn't have to reboot). Start up the VMWare Server Console and click the friendly looking "New Virtual Machine" button. I chose Linux/Ubuntu (yes, you should have installation media handy - DVD is fine), and accepted most defaults (though I based the system on a 10GB space instead of 8GB). Insert the bootable CD or DVD (and kill any auto-play that occurs on your system), then hit the "Play" button. In the VMWare Server Console window... It starts a virtual PC, and boots off of the DVD. I note that I had to change which CD drive I had the DVD in before it worked.
Download took about an hour. VMWare Install took about 20 minutes. Make sure you get the activation key from your Email (they sent it in less than 5 minutes after I registered). Installing Ubuntu took about an hour and a half. This part was a little slow, and sometimes the graphics are PAINFULLY slow, but I had Ubuntu running in a virtual machine within about three and a half hours from starting the VMWare download. In between waiting for things, I cleaned the bathroom, and took a shower.
I note that at vmware.com there are a number of pre-configured/pre-installed virtual pcs available, too.
Once Ubuntu was installed, I was browsing the Internet inside Ubuntu-in a window in my XP system - and it wasn't really slow. Heavy graphics operations are slow, but applications run just fine.
I downloaded the ReactOS VM, but it wouldn't boot (it tried, but crashed fast). I'll probably download the FreeBSD image right after creating an XP Pro image.
Skyways and Masonic Rituals
It is possible, in either of the Twin Cities, to walk from building to building to building, to building without ever going outside or dealing with weather. Today, I left my office on the twenty-something-th floor of a St. Paul tower, took the elevator to the bottom. Walked through the lobby, up an escelator and into the skyway system - never leaving the climate controls of any building, crossed over several streets between the second-or-third floor of the next buildings past Dentist Offices, a Shoe store, a Jeweler, a whole slew of little places to eat, two McDonalds, countless coffee shops, multiple convienience stores, and I got a hair cut at "The Chair", a barber shop on the second floor of the U.S. Bank building.
I can describe all of this, but you'd never really, really understand unless you've been in a place like this. I say this - having not 'really' understood how vast - and foreign this is, until actually working in a "connected" building (and not growing up where it's just a local feature).
Minneapolis' skyway is far larger, more complex, and more places to shop. In fact - Minneapolis has a skyway connected Target and grociery - so it's actually possible to live, work and shop without EVER going outside. Unlike subway living in other cities - there's no fees involved - there's no need to get off to go to a destination - you just go inside, and could decide to never leave.
So, I got my hair cut, and then went to the next building and ate lunch. Then I walked a few more buildings and back into mine (through a different skyway). In St. Paul though, by 3:30 almost every business is closed. By 5:00, you'd think you were walking in a horror flick, where the whole world is dead.
I'm probably not describing it well enough, so if anybody's got questions... ask away!
As un-technical as I can explain the Masonic Rituals...
HTML::Mason - Yeah, it's yet another templating/CGI management embedded programming directly in HTML thingy. I've been dealing with it lately, except, I've been dealing with the limitations of a very, very old version of it. And the documentation is all for newer versions. So I have to do a little dance after every change, and hope it will still work. Yet, even the older version is pretty cool - once I figured out whice parts are available to me.
Anyway, I'm having fun but pulling out all my hair at the same time. And I work for a fairly big company, and I'm not used to that. I used to run a network and the systems. If I needed to upgrade, I could just do the upgrade. Here, there's a 3 month project to do any change. Quite obnoxious.
Free Market: Oil Illustrated
It's not necessarily evil, and probably
not a conspiracy.
But it could be, and there's no way to tell.
The fictional Oil company, AZoco, has just
posted record profits, and you are paying
more for gas. Simple logic is suggestive
that AZoco is making money because of
your suffering. If you did the
same thing, you'd be price gouging.
It's not price gouging, if it's traded on
the free markets, and the price is in-line
with what the market says.
If AZoco were only in the gas business,
and was suddenly pulling record profits
on the rise of Oil prices, then clearly
they are playing with the margins, and
doing something sneaky (the price of gas
would have to cost unexpectedly more
than the sum price of oil +
refinement + delivery).
For instance, 7-11, Holiday and
Stuckey's are in the Gas business...
they use Gas to attract customer's to
their retail businesses.
Imagine that I manage a gas station.
I've been struggling lately because my
customers don't buy as many pops, and -
frankly - the margin I pull off gas
sales is only a few pennies per gallon
(usually between 3 and 4 pennies).
My buddy who owns a franchise pays more
for his gas delivery service, thus pulling
only a penny and a half per gallon to compete
with me. He's probably going to close his
doors and beg for a manager job at the
The Oil companies are not profiting on
Gas, they are profiting on Oil.
...and Gas comes from Oil, but that is
Oil, a commodity
Like any thriving gas company, AZoco
has full or part ownership in a wide
array of Oil production facilities
(production varies from wells and
drilling to strip mining). Oil
is a complex and volitile business,
and Oil is a frequently traded
Since, AZoco produces oil, it shouldn't
surprise anybody that AZoco is making
money off of high oil prices. Afterall
AZoco still sold oil at market price
through the relatively low oil prices
of the 80's and 90's. ...You weren't
Refinement and delivery
Gas price is tied to the price of Oil,
but as I mentioned before, it's also
tied to refinement and delivery.
Refinement is also a low margin business,
and as such, there is only room for enough
refinery businesses to match current need.
Because of this, the gas refinery facilities
lost during hurricane Katrina also have
an impact on both the price and
availability of gas. However, the price
of Gas has not been greatly impacted
by the availability. There have simply
been some stations that have not been
able to get enough gas. In those
localized areas gas has been more
Delivery, well - it takes gas and oil
to deliver gas and oil, and the price of
delivery has gone up. This involves a
fraction of a penny per gallon,
but ultimately, this makes a difference as
to whether a station has to charge a
penny more on any given week.
Sorry, I mean taxes. Taxes are a constant
(as in constantly rising), but it takes
an act of your state's legislature, and/or
congress to raise the gas taxes. Federal
gas taxes per gallon are at 18.5 cents per
gallon. State gas taxes vary widely, but 35
cents per Gallon is typical. For some
reason, Gas taxes are not in percentages,
and as a result, the government
does not see more money with higher prices
(as opposed to retail inflation).
Refinement and new EPA rules
Yet another thing that has affected the
price of gasoline is the additives
that the EPA has forced into all gasoline.
late last year (in northern climates,
the gas is only mandated during
daylight savings, because the new
mix won't work well in low temperatures).
As usual, California is one step ahead of
the EPA on these things, making their
prices even higher. For this
portion of the price (which is near
10 cents per gallon in some states)
the government feels it is responsible.
and this little portion is why
some folks in the government are
thinking that they can help ellivate the
problem on the other end through
rebates or tax cuts.
The issue is far more complex than we are comfortable admitting to.
I hope to have brought a common-sense
view of gasoline prices and I hope you've
found this useful. If you have anything
further to add, please do.
Unfortunate Turn of Word
When I say YOU, especially in a MEME-like setting, it means the average, not necessarily, "you", the writer of the Meme. Either way, it's all part of why I suck.
Just saw an AT&T Commercial
Techno-Geek Rant. Sorry...
It was a whole bunch of stuff about AT&T working with synthesized voice, and they are clearly talking themselves up. No surprise. But what bothered me is they were showing all of these popular-entertainment computer voices (from War Games, etc.) No big deal, but then they start playing digitized voice (recorded voice played by computers... as if it's the same), K.I.T.T. (William Daniels) and finally a modern GPS/Talking mapper.
Jumping subjects, and assuming people are stupid. Why is it that Chatty Kathy dolls had much better voices than anything AT&T could do back in 1965? Because they used RECORDINGS.
Voice digitizing is easy. Voice synthesis is very hard.
GMail Oddity -and- My Last Journals -and- Work
There are occasionally SPAM messages in GMail that I can't delete without opening them first. My immediate thought is conspiracy, but I'm hoping it's just a bug, or some sort of weakness that is being exploited until the GMail folks find it and fix it.
-- Any of you seen this, or am I alone with this issue?
My Previous Journals
They are sequential (in that they were submitted close enough together, that the journalid is only off by one). Also, and this was not on purpose, they are two years to the day from when I created this account (Allen Zadr), and the second of those Journal Entries has almost the same subject line (A Fresh Start vs. A Fresh Slate).
I'm starting to actually do important work. Stuff that actually matters. I've created several patches (one of them to a core module), and I'm expecting acceptance next week. I've got a queue of work to complete.
Also, I have to run Cygwin there. We are not allowed to run "Linux" on our desktops, but we need to do all of our work on UNIX boxes... thus, the need for X... thus Cygwin. I've never used it so extensively before. My goodness it's got a lot of stability issues (of course, could be because I've installed a whole bunch of gnome tool ports, gah.) Anyway, strange way to work... on a pretend-X over an XP desktop.
-- Any experiences/tips with Cygwin XWin that anyone would care to share? Things to avoid?
A Fresh Start
This is the second of two journal
entries about my transition from
one job to another.
The first one is
Well, I've completed my first week of
the new job. I'm now, again, a
Software Engineer, and no longer
a Director of Information Technology.
I'm now reporting to a really huge
company. My employee number is in
the hundreds of thousands. Seven
out of ten people who I talk to,
know at least one of their
business units. I'm working in a
department of nearly 50 developers
in a sub-department of nearly
twelve collegues. I have no clue
as to what folks on the other
side of the world are doing.
The new job is 32 miles from my
far-suburban home, to my
center-of-St. Paul work and it takes me
about 50 minutes to get to the lot.
Parking costs $150 per month and it
takes 10 minutes to park,
take the elevator
in the parking ramp, walk the skyway
to my building, and another elevator ride
to my floor.
I'm a bit of a fish out of water.
I haven't been a Software Engineer
for nine years. I haven't been
in a huge company for a long time
(and even then, it was short
lived - only 6 months - contract).
I've already gotten one thing done
(it's only my first week, I'm
actually proud of myself).