Category Archives: Technology

Day after Xmas… at werk.

I came in today thinking i’d be feeling creative and write a post. Well, here I am at 12:30 EST with no such creativity, but at least I’m writing. I plan to blog more in 2009, but then again, I think “Write more” was my resolution for 2008, and that went basically nowhere.

there are three other people in my group here today with me. I think there are maybe another 5-10 people here in addition. Makes sense to open the office for alllllll of those people, eh?

i got a new flash for my camera for xmas … Nikon SB-600. i don’t know what i’m doing with it, yet. guess this also locks me into Nikon, not that it’s a bad thing. the grass is always greener over at Canon…

my girlfriend is out shopping for her family’s party tomorrow. i’m sitting in the office freezing with the other people, all of whom are wearing jackets or other heavy attire. it’s current 39 outside in NYC.

i plan to brew on Sunday – an imperial stout. my last porter didn’t come out so great. a bit lacking in body, a bit too much alcohol burn, not enough vanilla. still very drinkable, just not fantastic. 5/10.

my inbox is barren, facebook is dead, no one’s on twitter, and even my rss feeds aren’t entertaining me.

why is it that we’re here today? i guess this is the entitlement society i keep hearing about. even Hale and Hearty doesn’t have a full selection of soups today.

yes, i’m bitter. and cold.

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The Airing of the Grievances

Yea, it is time that we put up the Festivus Pole, engage in feats of strength, and air the year’s grievances. So we call upon Our Lord Frank Costanza, and shout Serenity Now! Here are my grievances for 2008:

  1. To unhelpful RSS feeds that don’t display the content of a post. A headline only is generally not enough information to make me want to click through to your site.
  2. To Adobe, for charging ridiculous upgrade fees. $499 to upgrade, when I just spent that much less than 18 months ago, on products that are mature and stable?
  3. To the GOP, for ignoring our environmental issues, screwing up government oversight, our worldwide status, the Iraq War, and everything else over the past eight years.
  4. To my current employer, for not giving us off the day after Thanksgiving and Xmas. This year both holidays fall on a Thursday, so wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy a long weekend? Nope, if you have vacation days left, you have to take them. if you don’t, guess where you’ll be? Here in the office, which leads me to…
  5. The building managment company, as well as my current employer, for turning the heat down enough on weekends that Mondays are freezing. I bought cashmere socks just for Monday mornings. If you walk around the office, you’ll see people wearing hats, scarves, and jackets. Winter jackets.
  6. To Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerry Forsythe, co-owners of the now defunct Champ Car World Series, which merged with the Indy Racing League (IRL) earlier this year. When I say merged, I mean sold the fuck up the river a few weeks before the season was due to start. This is a topic very dear to me, as I followed Indy/Champ Car since I was a wee high schooler, and the Meadowlands Grand Prix came to town in the mid-to-late-80s. I could take up six months’ worth of posts on this topic, so i’ll leave it at that.
  7. To Tony George, who fucked it all up to start with.

There are certainly more, but these are the ones that are nagging at me. Check back in case there are more grievances!

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Happy Little Errors

So I’m working on designing buttons, icons, and interface items for a new release. The buttons I’ve created looked… nice, but still not what I wanted them to look like.

Somehow along the process, I cropped the template file a little too judiciously in Photoshop. Buttons I created a week ago were taller by six pixels. I’m still not sure how I did this, as all the guides were in the same place, and making the button taller changed the alignment of text.

While playing around, trying to figure out WTF I did, I ended up using a clipping mask with an existing layer – and it looks great! The only downside, of course, is now I have to recreate approximately 50 buttons. But, I’m happy now they finally look good!

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My Ubuntu Experience

I recently bought a new computer, so I have my older one to play with. It’s still completely usable (or, was), and probably performs better than most people’s home PCs. This machine was my first (and last) experience putting my own PC together; it’s personally just not worth the time I spend researching, buying, and building, which is why my new machine is a Dell refurb.

I put the old machine together about three or four years ago from the following parts:

  • AMD Athlon64 2200 (approximate clock speed)
  • Gigabyte Socket 939 motherboard
  • 2GB Ram
  • Two hard drives: one 320GB, one 250GB. Each has two separate partitions, totalling four separate partitions.
  • ATI X800XL video card, 256MB RAM 
  • Trendnet 433-PI wireless network card
  • Separate CD and DVD burners.

The machine was dual-booting with XP Pro and Vista Ultimate from the original October 2006 OEM release (thank you, MSDN). Since I never really used the Vista install, as it would’ve been too much of a pain to install and configure everything, I decided to delete the Vista partition. I considered making this either a server or a media center PC, so I thought a dual-boot machine between the existing XP install and a flavor of Linux would be neat.

With that I researched the various flavors of Linux, and decided Ubuntu was easiest to just get up and running. I played with the Live CD before, with both 7.04 and 8.04, albeit on other computers. It was (and is) amazing that you can run a completely working operating system off of a CD. It seemed easy enough, so one Saturday I went at it.

Round one found the first few configuration screens easy to understand, until I got to the disk partitioning screen. I didn’t want it to automatically wipe and combine the partitions, so after playing a bit, I managed to install Linux without losing any data. Or so I thought, as during reboot, I was greeted with “grub error 18”, and an unusable PC.

And this is yet another reason why, folks, Linux will never become mainstream. Thankfully I had the new PC up and running, so I could find exactly what grub error 18 is. Clearly, this was not the problem, so I went back into the Ubuntu installation sequence. This time, i fiddled more with the partition options, and managed to not only install Linux, but maintain a dual-boot system with the current XP installation. This was an exciting development.

I rebooted, chose Ubuntu from the Linux boot manager, and started Ubuntu. Only to find I couldn’t access my wireless network.

Back to the new PC. Seems a lot of Trendnet‘s stuff isn’t supported by Linux. Awesome. I even had a new Trendnet USB wireless adapter… that also wasn’t supported. More research. Turns out they may be supported by using either Ndiswrapper or madwifi (or its somewhat newer but less-supportive relative, ath5k), neither of which I had any clue about, nor seemed to be particularly easy to configure. Also, since I didn’t have a network connection, it would’ve entailed downloading the software, and either burning to a CD or hoping Ubuntu supported my USB thumbdrive. Not worth it to me. At this point, tired, frustrated, and just wanting to be done, I deleted Ubuntu from its partition.

This was my final mistake in the big Ubuntu Experiment: Deleting Ubuntu also removed the information to boot into XP, leaving me with an unbootable system.

And that’s where I am now: it seems the only data I managed to delete was my old Outlook file, which contained about a year and a half of email. I bought a 1TB drive and external enclosure, and moved all of my data (mp3s, videos, pr0n) to either it or the new machine.

At some point, I’ll reinstall XP on the old machine, and never look back.

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Why Linux will never be mainstream

Digg is one of the sites I check several times daily, using the wonderful Klipfolio software. Once again, a top-Digged discussion arose about Linux. And once again, Linux folks don’t get it. I’ve tried Ubuntu, and found it neat. I’m even considering using it for a home file server. But here’s why I think Linux will never achieve the success they hope for:

Linux? Huh?

Despite the fact that IT (Information Technology) folk talk about Linux like it’s the greatest thing since GREP, most people don’t have a clue. They know Mac, they know PC. They don’t have the time to learn about anything else.

Distributions, Anyone?

Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Debian, Slackware, Red Hat? C’mon! People are confused when you ask them if they have XP Home or Professional, and you want them to choose from “flavors” of an operating system? I’ve had people ask me if they can run Office XP on Vista. And even the community shows snobbery: I just read someone referring to “Ubuntards”.

The Command Line

I have a friend who considers himself an intermediate user of Windows and computers. However, when trying to help him with a problem, I told him to open Windows Explorer. I was met with a blank stare.

Sure, geeks know to type cmd and use DOS. In XP, Microsoft hides the command prompt all the way under the Accessories menu. And Linux expects people to compile their applications from it? I know that there are programs to do this for you the majority of the time, but the point remains, most people aren’t going to sudo anything.

The Apps Ain’t Pretty

In general, open-source software is created by programmers for programmers. Making the software look pretty is secondary. No matter how much people say it, the GIMP is not Photoshop, Inkscape is not Illustrator, and OpenOffice is not MS Office (Yes, I’ve tried them all). Designers use Macs because they’re sexy, not because they’re utilitarian. People use iTunes because it’s pretty and simple to use.

The “Community”

Linux advocates will tell anyone who listens that any Linux problem can be solved easily by the oh-so-supportive community of users. However, not everyone has access to either a second computer at home, or a work computer where they can spend idle time interacting with the community to find answers. It’s kind of hard to look up the answer online when your computer can’t connect to your wireless network.

People Don’t Like Change

There’s a reason IE is still a huge part of the browser market: people are scared of “breaking their computer”. Most people can’t fix computer problems themselves, and everyone knows that support these days consists of either “This isn’t our problem, it’s a problem with [insert application here]”, or “reformat and reinstall”. Sure, give someone Firefox and they generally like it more than IE, but most people will use IE because it’s what they’re used to.

People Just Want Their Computer To “Work”

This is why the Mac is making inroads lately. Most people don’t want to know how their computer works, don’t want to tweak settings, they just want to check their email and surf the web, and maybe use Word to type something up. My same “intermediate” Windows user friend recently bought a Mac, and just gushed how nice it is and easy to use.

You Get What You Pay For

You’d think that since Linux is free, people would flock to it. But they’re not. Instead, they’re buying overpriced Macs, and never looking back. Even with all the publicity that Vista is a horrible operating system, Linux’s market share is below even the Mac.


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