Ok. I wasn’t planning on doing it until next month, but the pricing and free shipping from Newegg were enough to get me to go ahead and do it today.
Bought myself a 46″ HDTV. Samsung LN46A650 to be exact. I was gonna get the 550, but the 650 was only a couple hundred more, and adds an additional HDMI connection.
Now I’ve got to move my 36″ Sony WEGA. 🙁
Not that I’m unhappy about getting a new HD set, just that the WEGA is a CRT and weighs about 230 pounds. It took two guys to get it in here, and I’ve only moved it once since then – moving it off of our old coffee table onto the stand I built for it. Not looking forward to that part. Good news is the new set weighs in at about 60 pounds.
The stand will house the new set, but the WEGA will for now, go into a corner, then eventually to the basement, one day to be joined by a pool table. ONE DAY!!!
Anyway, now I’ll have an actual VGA connection to my HTPC rather than using component, which should make reading text much easier.
Also, the HTPC’s limited to 1024*768 on the WEGA, but will do 1920*1080, so I’ll have much more screen real estate.
Of course now I’ll need to change a few other things to maximize the usage of the set.
Switch out the DirecTV box and Dish for the HD version.
Make a new Ethernet cable to connect the TV to the network –
Get an HDMI cable to connect that to the TV.
Adjust the cabling to my other peripherals – DVD/VCR combo, PlayStation2, SNES, & NES (yeah, those aren’t typos).
For about 4, maybe 5 years now, I’ve been looking for a way to fix the approximately 70 or so playlists I’d created before I reorganized my the folder I keep my ripped MP3’s in. Initially, I’d just had folders for each artist, with all their songs lumped into their respective folder. I also wasn’t using id2 or id3 tags either, so that quickly gets messy once you get past a few hundred CD’s. I’ve got closer to 700 now I think, nearly all of which are now ripped into folders for the artist, then the album with id2 and id3 tags. But I still had all those old (some really good) playlists to deal with. The shorter ones were not hard, but it quickly became clear this was a task better done by sofware.
Problem was, nobody seemed to make one.
I was one sad panda.
Yesterday I half heartedly updated another m3u manually, then decided to try looking again.
Apparently, my earlier search-fu was weak.
Enter listFix() a java based utility that does exactly what I need.
I’ve only used it for about 10 minutes, but it’s doing what I want, with minimal interaction from me.
If it handled batches of playlists, I’d be damned happy. Actually it might do that, but it’s 3:20am and I need sleep.
Little update to this one.
I’ve finished fixing my playlists, save for one egregiously convoluted one titled Long Play, which will take longer.
Whatever you celebrate, even if it’s just getting the day off from work, have a happy and safe one.
To anyone stuck somewhere they really don’t want to be but feel they have to be, hang in there! Hopefully you’ll get out and get back home soon, unharmed.
Oh, and that goes for all the troops stationed overseas, too. 😉 You at least get paid (not nearly enough) to get shot at and yelled at by people who don’t really want you there, but you are missing the joys of inlaws, crowded malls, lousy winter weather, and the lamest yule log shows in recent memory.
WPIX isn’t even showing it until 9am, and then only for 4 hours. That station in Chicago (WGN) is running the audio for “It’s a wonderful life,” and other “classic radio shows” as the soundtrack for it’s Yule Log show. The log doesn’t even look warm and inviting. I thought it was bad back in 2000 or 2001 when I had to watch Yule Log on the web because I was working. Now you can download it to your iPod. Sometimes technology goes too far.
So I reassembled an older machine of mine, with a new(ish) AGP video card (Radeon HD3650 for the curious), and 2GB of RAM.
I’ve installed XP SP3 on it, and was pondering browsers. Now that Google Chrome is an official release I may as well try it out, but that in an of itself is not insane.
So, I’ve decided to install Firefox, Safari, and Chrome along with IE6, but not IE7 since IE7 is a bucket full of uncustomizable failure, inadequacy, and blind paranoia. Aso, no Opera, since I just don’t like Opera. It works in ways that fail to make me go “F*ck yeah, Seaking!” or nod in sage (or even grudging) agreement. Perhaps once I get VMWare up and running on another machine I’ll try it, but for now, the for browsers of the apocalyse will be IE6, Firefox 3, Safari 3.21, and Chrome. I’ve got a set of bookmarks I’ll import into each; no formal testing, just seeing how pages I frequent look in each.
I still say he’s been a remarkably good sport about the whole thing, and I still enjoy his music.
And if he can make some money off of it, why the hell not?
In other news, the W’s in the shop getting some dings fixed, so I got a rental from Enterprise.
It’s a 2009 Ford Escape. On the whole, it’s not bad, but there are some issues.
Now, I’ve not driven a Ford in a number of years, so I’d forgotten how, well… mushy the handling is from the driver’s perspective.
The steering is sluggish and loose. Fans of Top Gear may wish to refer to the review of Ford’s F-150 to get an idea of what I’m talking about.
In the W, you jiggle the steering wheel, the wheels jiggle too. In the Escape, you jiggle the wheel and the wheels continue following the last major input they were given. I suppose that’s good for drivers with shaky hands, but it is very disconcerting coming from a more responsive vehicle.
The other adjustment I’ve had to make is the throttle. The throttle response isn’t all that gradual, although that may just be the different pedal feel. Also, with the W, there is Turbo Lag, which basically means if you step on the gas, it’ll go, but then it’ll go harder once the turbocharger kicks in. On the Ford, there’s no turbo, and as such no lag, so there’s a bigger initial surge of power.
Other than that, it’s an ok vehicle. Fairly roomy, decent stereo, although the center console is cluttered with buttons, and it’s fairly quiet.
After years of waiting for the domain to expire, attempts to buy it outright, and seriously contemplating extreme methods to wrest control of trackfire.net from Gandi.net, the suckass French registrar that was pretty much squatting the domain since the unknown (presumably) French person that registered it for their crappy blog, probably after finding that trackfire.com was very much taken.
Anyway, after a couple (a few??) years of having the domain on backorder, Gandi.net finally left it lapse completely, and now it’s mine!
Just so you’re aware of who handled the backorder, not to mention diligently refunding my money each time I tried to buy the domain outright through them, look no further than GoDaddy.com!
Finding out I finally got the trackfire.net domain was a really good way to end what was a really lackluster day.
On Halloween, people are free to dress up however they want, walk about the city as if it were any other day where nobody pays them any mind except to compliment them on their outfit, and if they’re so inclined, act like the character they’re dressed up as. Well, within limits anyway.
No homicidal crime sprees or destroying the Tokyo Tower or fondling people without their permission. If, however you do get permission from someone to fondle them, and they are of legal age in your municipality, then I say to you lucky guys and gals, “Woohoo! and smoke ’em if you got ’em!”
Anyway, back to Halloween. It’s about as free and uninhibited as you can get these days. As I mentioned, you can be anything you want. And I mean Anything.
French Maid? Oui! Geisha? Hai! You and your crew want to go as the Justice League, Sand Ninjas, Pimps & Ho’s, Zombies, Pirates, Ninjas (regular), or just walk around as a giant penis in a forlorn search for a giant vagina, anus or mouth? Good on ya! Just don’t be surprised if people, including small children, come up to you and ask to pose for pictures. Anything you want to be or just look like, your imagination, budget, and how willing you are to go out in public in that outfit.
It’s the one day out of the year where spandex, used for good, evil or just wrong is ok with everybody. If, as apparently many out there are, into spandex, then Halloween is your night, be it as a Voyeur or a Participant.
To be honest, I see the allure. But then being out on the street with literally hundreds and hundreds of good looking women with really nice legs in tights, stockings and pantyhose of pretty much every color out there, combined with the many, many skimpy outfits that went with them, it’s pretty hard not to see the attraction.
Oh, and I have to take a moment to comment to the young lady that looked at me a bit funny last night as she walked past my car at a red light. Just to be clear, if you’re less than 5″5″, wearing what appeared to be a showgirl outfit (red with black trim I think) with what I can only describe as a rather aggressive bustier, and walk past someone with your… womanly charms propped up like a pastry shop display at their eye level, just take it as a compliment if said person doesn’t look you in your pretty blue eyes right away. It’s a base genetic response, so forgive us if we don’t feel as much of a need to suppress that reaction on Halloween, the night it’s ok to look. By the way, my inner caveman says, “Nice Rack.”
Anyway, let’s take a look at Christmas.
While it’s supposed to be a religious event to celebrate the birth of Christ, in reality, what it winds up is 30 days of shopping and hoping you know the people you’ve been shopping for as well as you think you do, and that they’ll like the gift you got them. One of the worst feelings one can have is seeing someone open your very thoughtful gift that you stood in line for hours to get, and see, if only for a split second, that look of disappointment on their face as they realize it wasn’t what they wanted, or it’s something they have already, or worst of all, exactly what they never ever wanted to get. Now the recipient doesn’t mean to make you feel bad, and will usually try to mask the reaction to avoid doing so. However, they don’t always succeed. I think I’ve managed to avoid that on both sides, although I know I’ve done the expression thing myself before. All the while, everybody’s supposed to seem cheerful, even if they’re not. As for costumes, on the adult side you’ve got Santa, Mrs. Claus, Elves, Angels and reindeer I suppose, but that’s pretty much it outside the characters from the Nativity plays have, and those are just for children. Pretty limited selection there, and totally ignores everybody who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Then there’s all the culturally sensitive crap that’s cropped up like stinkweed over the last few years where people want to make things super generic by making everyone simplify their greeting and well wishes down to “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays.” If I know which holidays my friends and coworkers celebrate, I’m going to wish them a good one. If they don’t celebrate any of them, I wish ’em a Happy Festivus, we laugh and move on.
Sebastian Vettel, a 21 year old German Driver, just won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
What’s significant about this? Well, let’s go down the list.
He became the youngest Pole Sitter in Formula One history on Saturday.
He then became the youngest Race Winner in Formula One history by winning Sunday’s race.
His team, Scuderia Torro Rosso Ferrari, employs about 160 people.
McLaren International, the team that finished second, currently employs about 1000 people.
Not only did he beat McLaren, he also beat Scuderia Ferrari, the oldest and most successful race team in history. All four of McLaren and Ferrari’s cars were running in the race at the end.
His margin of victory (how far ahead he was of the other cars at the end of the race) was 12.5 seconds.
He did all this in very wet conditions which are challenging for road cars, much less F1 cars.
His win for Torro Rosso is the first for an Italian based team that wasn’t Ferrari since 1956.
Now just those stats alone should be impressive, but to those who’ve followed Formula One for a while, the accomplishment should have even more significance. Basically, he had the race well in hand from start to finish, and was only challenged briefly by McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, who had stormed through the field from his uncharacteristic 15th place start to come within 2 seconds of Vettel. His one stop strategy looked set to pull off an amazing come from behind victory that would leave the Italian fans at Monza heartbroken that McLaren won, yet, being the truly rabid race fans they are, appreciative of the accomplishment and still cheering wildly at the end. However, the weather, wet to begin with and looking to stay that way, didn’t cooperate. Everyone started the race on the full wet weather tires, which like the all season tire you may have on your car, has grooves to channel the water away from the tire for maximum grip. The track kept getting dryer, but not to the point where the cars could even think about using their dry weather tires. Instead, teams opted, one after another to try the Intermediate tires, which have a less aggressive tread pattern, and are made of more durable compounds that don’t wear out as quickly. Anyway, Hamilton’s race plan only required one pit stop to change tires and add fuel, so the 2nd stop for him (3rd for most of the field) relegated him to a 7th place finish. Vettel goes on to score his maiden victory at what is probably my favorite Formula One track, and one steeped in history like few others, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Now, about his tiny little team. Scuderia Torro Rosso is currently the “Junior Team” to Red Bull Racing, which in itself is a team that in prior incarnations was Jaguar and Stewart F1. They’re basically owned and sponsored by the same group, and as such are part of the Red Bull empire. Torro Rosso = Italian for Red Bull. They use the same car design, but different engine packages – Red Bull use Renault engines, while Torro Rosso use Ferrari engines. Basically, the Renault is noticeably less powerful than the Ferrari engine, but the Renault may be the more drivable combination with the car design. At least that’s the case in dry conditions on tracks slower than Monza and last weeks race at Spa Francorchamps – another old school track that ties the past, present and Future of F1 together.
Before being bought out, the tiny 160 person Italian squad was known as Minardi Formula One, a team that had thrown everything they had into competing on the grand stage of F1 for 20 years without winning, a total of 38 championship points, and generally being on their best days a mid pack team, but more often than not just trying not to be last every week. That unrelenting passion for the racing and refusal to quit, despite the down right silly odds against them, plus their willingness to give young drivers a shot in F1, if only for a race or two, earned them a lot of respect, and a very loyal fanbase – people love an underdog, and teams like Arrows and Minardi defined it for Formula 1. So loyal in fact, that they protested long and loud against changing the name from Minardi to Torro Rosso. I myself admit that I still refer to the team as Minardi – it fits the teams style more than Torro Rosso does.
Earlier this year, the team formerly known as Sauber F1, a perennial mid pack team, now known as BMW Sauber, scored it’s maiden victory at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. That win was less surprising, as BMW has been the 3rd best team behind Ferrari and McLaren for a couple of years now. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, the top 3 finishers were all first time winners this year. Vettel of course, followed by Heikke Kovalainen for McLaren, and Robert Kubica for BMW Sauber, who won the race in Canada.
Honestly, if you told me last week, or even last Thursday, that Torro Rosso would win at Monza, and 17 of the other 18 cars would be running at the end of the race, I’d have called you a damned liar, crazy, and laughed at you. Pole? Sure. Weird stuff happens in Qualifying, especially when it rains, but the race? No way. The big teams will crush that dream by the first pit stop. Only they didn’t and even better, they couldn’t, though Hamilton came close.
The only scenario less likely would have been Honda and Force India battling for the win.
To be fair, I picked Vettel’s teammate, former CHAMPCAR Champion Sebastian Bourdais (yeah, their drivers are both named Sebastian, must make for fun team meetings) in my Pick 6 pool (where you actually pick 8 now, but whatever) and I think that would have payed off had he not stalled the car at the start of the race. I knew the Ferrari motors would pay off at Monza, and I was right. Just picked the wrong Sebastian… Ah well.
Anyway, congratulations to Vettel and his team, they spanked the field fair and square, on the most intense stage of them all.
So I’m lying here, tired, wanting to fall asleep, but unable to.
Instead I’m thinking about school and how I hated having to hold back so the other kids could have their turn to answer questions. Looking back, I really resent having to do that. Not that I wanted to deprive my classmates the chance to learn and show what they knew, but most of the time, it seemed to me they didn’t want to answer the questions. I did, so why not just let me answer them? It was probably at it’s worst in grade school and junior high, but I don’t think it ever stopped.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t the master of all subjects, far from it. But for those classes where I enjoyed the subject or was just plain good at it without even really trying, it was so annoying to have to hold back.
It was better in college I think, but I think that was mainly because it was less of a question and answer type environment.
Now that I’ve been in the workforce for several years, I’m feeling that way again, only it’s a bit different.
Half the time I’m annoyed that some people at work just expect me to have the answers for everything, simply because I have a good memory and am familiar with the patterns of problems that keep happening with slight variations over and over again. Actually, I’m think it might bother me more that people who’ve been there as long or longer don’t recognize and remember these things. At times I want to ask them how they can’t remember, “You were there! We worked on fixing it together. Did you block it out or something? I mean it wasn’t the greatest day ever, but still…”
Feh. Maybe my memory is just freakish. By extension I suppose that makes me (more of) a freak. Yay.
Anyway, the other half of the time I’m just ticked off that people do things so haphazardly, and without hashing out what could go wrong with something before they do it. They’re so focused on getting something out there by a certain date that they wind out forcing people that are capable of putting out truly kick ass work to constantly churn out rush jobs to meet the deadlines set by people that couldn’t do the work if they tried. The end result is more stuff for me and the folks I work with to clean up after. Almost every single time.
If they’d just ask the people who actually have to deal with the stuff on a daily basis, we could tell them the pitfalls beforehand. Granted, that probably wouldn’t stop the litany of insane deadlines and half-assed end results, but it might slow it down and maybe get rid of some of the more obvious screwups.
So after that chunk of venting, I should be ready to sleep now. But I’m not. Because those were just second and third level thoughts my mind tried turning to in order to stop thinking about the one thing that’s really keeping me awake.
A few posts ago I mentioned going after what you want or risk losing it forever. I’m still ‘there’ as it were.
What I want isn’t a thing, it’s a person. All I have to do is ask a question. I should have asked a year ago. But I can’t do it. I’m terrified that it’ll come out weird or creepy or just sound totally inept. I’m more terrified they’ll say no. It always comes down to that.
Right now, right this minute, I think I could do it, but of course it’s 4am on a Sunday, which would totally fulfill the weird, creepy, and inept fears all in one fell swoop.
How bad have I got it? I found myself wanting to get stuck in an elevator, and I despise elevators. Also, I do believe I’d take a bullet or knife for this person if it would keep them from harm. Worse yet, I actually care what this person thinks.
And now it’s 5:15am.
To quote South Park, “That’s pretty fucked up right there.”
I still have to remind myself that some people don’t like finding out that they’re very predictable.
However, it’s still fun doing it, and I am a Professional Bastard, so I do it anyway.
Sometimes I do wonder though if I’m actually that fast to recognize people’s patterns of behavior, or if it’s just that I just accept it right away and move on from there. Meanwhile, (at least from my perspective), other people see the pattern, but it either doesn’t register, or they’re consciously or subconsciously ignoring it, often to their own detriment.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that people, possibly myself included, are often oblivious to how busy they actually are at work. Actually, I’m usually painfully aware of how busy I am, but don’t have time to do more than grumble about it and press on until the work gets done.
A few months ago, (or was it last year?), I was trying to explain to someone that they didn’t see the same thing on one device as they saw on their own because they were always doing something. The person thought I was kidding, but I told him I wasn’t. He then actually looked at his calendar and had to go a few weeks before finding a day with nothing scheduled. There was a third person in the room and we had a little chuckle about it, but I was a little concerned that this was really a revelation to this person, and a felt a little bad about it. I still wonder if that’s the first time in a while he’d actually looked at it that way. Hopefully he’ll take it as an impetus to slow down a bit and not be booked so solidly.
This came up the other day when I told someone I wanted to see when they’d be free for lunch because they were always busy. Again the initial denial, but then they had to reschedule because they realized they were in fact very busy. I was too busy myself to do anything worse than a mild I told you so.
As for myself, again, I tend to be painfully aware of how busy I am, but some days the hours slip by like seconds. But they keep paying me, so I keep going back. Still it’s a bad day when I can’t even find time to pass by my one calming influence there. I would like to bottle that and carry it around with me, but they’d quickly suffocate if I closed it, and dragging a person sized bottle around all day would be inconvenient and highly conspicuous, which is a no-no on a team that’s supposed to slip in, fix what’s broken and get out.
Ok. Got pretty much everything that was on the old version added as entries here. Check the Archives for brand new old posts. Now I can decide if I just want to direct the domain here. Actually, I think I’ll just redo the main page as an entry point.
Oh, and the lack of mustache is still weired, but I’m trying to give it a fair shake. So far I don’t like it, although the responses I got at work were that I looked younger without it. Given the amount of gray I’d begun to have in my beard, that’s not surprising, but I suspect the comments will keep coming for a few days. It think I would have gotten fewer reactions if I’d just had the gray hairs dyed blue…
Shaved the beard and for the first time ever, the mustache.
So I thought back, looked at some old pictures, and the rough estimate on the last time I was without a mustache is sometime in 1989 or early 1990. I’m not one for changing my appearance all that often, but that’s pretty damned long.
I’ve shaved the beard a couple of times, but never the mustache.
It feels a little odd, and I’m still attempting to get used to how I look.
It feels cold when I exhale through my nose, but it’s been ridiculously hot this weekend, so it’s been sweating whenever I’m not in a room with Air Conditioning.
I suspect the reactions of my coworkers will be either “Whoa” ala Bill & Ted, or stunned silence followed by inquiries of who I am and what did I do with the real me. I’m still the evil twin, so don’t expect a kinder, gentler me anytime soon.
As to why the hell I did this, well, I’ve been considering it for a while now and finally decided to just suck it up and do it.
One bit of advice I received from a friend is that it’ll grow back. Hearing that from someone else (again) was enough to kick me out of the waffling funk I was in about it. She is right, it’ll grow back, but I did counter that if she recoils in horror, it’s a pretty good sign that it was a bad idea.
However, I can’t blame her. 1) She’s too beautiful to blame, and 2) It’s not like she handed me the razor and a can of Edge gel and said, “Go. Shave!” That might have been interesting… 🙂 Ah well.
Check the blogroll for links to Devin’s blog site, which you should check out for the really cool work he does with resin, tiny sailors and swingline staplers.
Also, CK’s blog. He’s a programmer. I have no such skill, but I do understand the process for the most part. If they ever release a pseudo-code IDE and compiler, watch out!
And then there’s Carol’s blog. I would fear for her sanity if I thought it would do any good. However, she is one of a very few people I know that is actually more anti-morning than I am. That alone is link worthy.