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Bumbershoot weekend

Filed in: lists, music, Tue, Sep 6 2005 07:46 PT

I spent the weekend at Seattle’s biggest music festival. All four days, I managed to find something to see. Plus, I managed to stay largely out of the rain on Sunday, which was a bonus. Here’s my Bumbershoot list:

  • Maktub
  • Citizen Cope
  • IQU
  • Lauren Weedman
  • Dave Eggers, Sarah Vowell, Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), Mike Doughty and the Transatlantic Orchestra in a Benefit for 826 Seattle (featuring a cover of Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” with Mike Doughty, Daniel Handler on accordion, and the Orchestra, aka Death Cab for Cutie)
  • Talib Kweli
  • Common
  • The Decemberists
  • The Be Good Tanyas
  • Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
  • Keren Ann
  • Michael Franti & Spearhead
  • Tegan and Sara

Believe it or not, this was my first Bumbershoot, despite having lived in Seattle for eight years. My first excuse was that I lived in Redmond, and was scared away by my Microsofty coworkers. The crowds, the noise, all that. Then, I took up with someone who sustained a catastrophic injury. She came back for the first time this year, too, and I don’t think she regretted it.

The Chez Mew mind this week

Filed in: lists, personal, Wed, Jan 19 2005 19:55 PT

Our household is undergoing some degree of obsessive-compulsive behavior this week. This post contrasts the mental imbalances that have appeared at home, and their various outward manifestations.

Current obsession
K: A new cat.
Matt: Hardware that functions.
Recent purchases:
K: Litter box, kitten food, jingly and crinkly cat toys, one of those grooming combs you stick on the wall.
Matt: Antec aluminum case, 6dB gain WiFi antenna
Objects of attention:
K: Cat breeder sites, Gmail (waiting impatiently for email from breeders)
Matt: Stupid-ass Vaio that bluescreens when he installs the goddamn Alps touchpad driver on XP, Google (hunting down any clue as to what’s going on)
Most frequently-used word, past 5 days:
K: Cat (and derivatives thereof)
Matt: Fuck (and derivatives thereof)
Places visited:
K: Cat show 100 miles south of town; breeder 15 miles north of town
Matt: Fry’s, Re-PC, massage therapist, breeder 15 miles north of town
Sample blog/LJ post from last week:

K: Kitty. Kitty! I like kitties. I especially like Bengals and pixie bobs. Kitties and kitties and oooh! Kitty! So cute! (yawns) I’m tired. Time to go to bed and dream about kitties. (Oh, and I have a new job.)
Matt: (didn’t blog)
Favorite football team
K: Bengals
Matt: Go Pats wooooooooooo

Installing Linux (again)

Filed in: Linux, lists, tech, Wed, Jun 23 2004 23:48 PT

Here’s how to tell if you’re a geek: you’ve run out of machines to run Linux on.

I’ve gone and catalogued, to the best of my recollection, the number of machines I have installed some flavor of Linux on since my first one, over 11 years ago. (I installed it using my old OS/2 Warp 3.0 beta floppies.) There may be some I’m missing, and I’ve made an educated guess at some of the dates based on which room I remember being in as I cursed the bloody machine in question.

  • 386DX-33 (SLS 1.02, kernel 0.94pl12, February 1993)
  • 486SX-25 (Slackware, late 1993)
  • 486DX2-66 (Slackware, late 1994)
  • Pentium-166 (Red Hat, 1995)
  • K6-2-450 (Red Hat, 1997; Debian, 1998)
  • IBM PS/2 90 (MCA Linux, 1997; also NetBSD)
  • Casio Cassiopeia A-11Plus Windows CE device (Linux/SH3, 1998)
  • IBM WorkPad z50 Windows CE device (Linux VR, 2000)
  • Siemens Scovery 110 (Debian, 2000)
  • Mac SE/30 (Linux-m68k, 2001; also NetBSD)
  • PowerMac G4 (LinuxPPC, 2001)
  • Sun Ultra 10 (Debian-SPARC, 2001)
  • PowerBook G3 (LinuxPPC, 2001; Gentoo-PPC, 2004, active install)
  • New Internet Computer (NIC OS, 2000; Tenhand, 2000; Feather Linux, dyne:bolic and Oralux, 2004, active install)
  • Athlon 950 (Red Hat, 2002; Debian, 2002; Gentoo, 2004, active install)
  • ConnecTV set-top box (Red Hat, 2003, active install)
  • Xbox (GentooX, 2004, active install)

Not included: HP 9000/340 running NetBSD, 1998

Note to Vaio PCG-SR17: Never send to ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

The modern geek’s travel kit

Filed in: lists, tech, travel, Wed, Dec 31 2003 02:00 PT

I have mad kit. This is all of the techie junk I’ll be traveling with in 2004:

  • PowerBook (800MHz, 512MB RAM, 40GB disk, combo drive), AC adapter and spare battery
  • Nokia 3650 phone
  • Cisco ATA 186 Voice over IP box, Radio Shack mini-phone and Plantronics in-ear headset (hopefully, Vonage will support USB-based VoIP in 2004, and I can replace all this with a single USB VoIP handset)
  • iPod (40GB)
  • Palm Tungsten T
  • iConcepts USB HotSync and Charger cable
  • SanDisk 256MB SD card (only $45 at Costco. Woohoo!)
  • Sony DSC-P7 3.2MPix camera
  • Belkin F8T001 USB Bluetooth adapter
  • Lexar Media JumpDrive Trio USB Memory Stick/SD/MMC reader
  • Apple iPod Dock Connector to USB 2.0 + FireWire (allows me to use my iPod storage with any device that supports USB or FireWire)
  • (2) Super-thin Ethernet cables
  • Ethernet crossover adapter
  • (2) CD-RW discs

I find myself wishing for an AC/car/airplane power adapter with ports for my laptop and phone, but that’s not likely to be purchased until the second half. I also suspect I’ll buy a SD-based 802.11b adapter for the Tungsten, since that would make it a handy-dandy remote control device at home.

So, here’s what I can do with all of this junk. I can read all of my media without carrying around cables. (I do keep two I otherwise don’t need in exchange for speed and recharging.) I can transfer small amounts of data (<256MB) via my SD card to any device with USB. I can transfer large amounts of data (up to 8 gigs) via my iPod. I can access the Internet over GPRS from any Bluetooth-aware device. I can access the Internet on any Bluetooth device via a wired or wireless connection on my PowerBook. I can connect to any wired Ethernet port, anywhere. I can sync all of my Bluetooth devices over the air. I can save TV shows I’ve recorded on my home PC to my iPod for convenience. (Or, I can burn them to DVD.) And, I can have a phone number in Cambridge, Mass., anywhere in the world that has broadband connectivity. (Helpful hint: If you do this, and you go to Japan, unplug the terminal adapter while you sleep. I once got a wrong-number call at 2am from a car mechanic. It’s really hard to explain why you sound like you just woke up in this situation.)

I suppose the most difficult concept to swallow is that I am not the alpha geek of W3C. That title is shared by Masayasu Ishikawa, who wears a utility belt that would put Batman to shame, and Ralph Swick, our one-man audiovisual department, telco, and Semantic Web guru. I am at best a distant third. This is why I love my job.

Throwing down

Filed in: lists, personal, Mon, Aug 18 2003 05:01 PT

Saturday night, I accidentally stopped being A Guy With DJ Gear, and became a DJ. (I also drank about a half-gallon of a nice raspberry hefeweizen, but that was more purposeful.) So, to commemorate the event, I present my first set list:

  • Björk, “There’s More to Life than This”
  • Jason Nevins vs. Ivy Queen f/Wyclef Jean, “In the Zone”
  • N-Trance, “Stayin Alive”
  • Basement Jaxx, “Razocaine”
  • Tru Faith f/Dub Conspiracy, “Freak Like Me”
  • Bedrock, “Heaven Scent (John Johnson mix)”
  • Rank 1, “Airwave (Rank 1 vs. Dutch Force remix)”
  • Serge Gainsbourg, “Marabout (Bob Sinclair remix)”
  • Björk, “Big Time Sensuality”
  • Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, “Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury”

How I spent my Wednesday

Filed in: lists, personal, Thu, Jul 10 2003 05:50 PT

This is not a typical workday. But this is also summer, which means All Units Are In Proper Working Order. I will read this list in February when “got out of bed” will be something I use to pad lists like this.

  • Wrote a proposal for a section on what conformance (a solid, normative term) means in the context of accessibility (a squishy, variable-ridden, subjective arena) to go into WCAG 2
  • Started a white paper on alternatives to visual verification techniques that still allow blind users to access Hotmail, Ticketmaster, Slashdot, etc.
  • Arranged for meeting space for one of my working groups at the some of the coolest office space in Fremont, Center of the Universe
  • Commented on why the object element isn’t so bad in XHTML 2, after all
  • Attended and scribed a 90-minute meeting
  • Taught a coworker how to make slides in the standard way, both in HTML and SVG
  • Signed up for a photo site, which will give me unlimited storage, absurd data transfer allowances, referenceable URIs, and alt text. (If it’s any good, you’ll be sure to hear about it from me.)
  • Finished The Nudist on the Late Shift, which I started reading recently enough not to have had it on my reading list. (I finished Silent Poetry two nights ago.)
  • Deleted over 800 messages from my inbox.
  • Set myself up for social interaction on Friday night (Thursday through Sunday are now covered)

University Life in Japan

Filed in: lists, travel, Thu, Apr 24 2003 15:47 PT

From: Shonan Fujisawa, Japan

The Shonan Fujisawa campus of Keio University is two trains and a bus ride away from Tokyo (This passes for “remote” in Japan.) I’ve been here for two days, and I’m taken with the design of the buildings on campus. Clearly, many of these angular modernist creations were designed in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and at times, they provide dramatic contrasts: namely, against the verdant landscape during the day, and in the interplay of light and shadows in the evening. I’m in the Keio Guest House, which doesn’t disappoint in this department: it’s a two-story box with features that suggest to me that it was built more recently than many of the other buildings.

I’m in a double room, which is only a touch larger than my room at home, and I feel like a man of infinite space. My room in Tokyo tomorrow night will be a quarter the size of this one, and twice the price.

I’ve kept myself entertained. Today, I went to the golf driving range. For 2100 yen, you buy a smart card which gets you 120 balls, automatically teed up as the target of your 300 yen rental club. I wrote a paper in high school 13 years ago(!) about the phenomenon of the city driving range in Japan, so I feel like I can finally check that off my to-do list. It’s good to close action items every so often. If at all possible, I’d like to watch a baseball game in the 60 hours I have before flying home.

The lessons I’ve learned so far while in Japan:

  • If you take the train from Narita, don’t buy anything but the trip to Tokyo Station. I bought a connection to Shinagawa for 1400 yen which wasn’t worth more than 230.
  • Do not pour your own beer or sake. It makes you look impatient. Wait for someone traveling with you to pour it for you. (You can speed up this process by pouring a drink for someone else.)
  • Some restaurants will serve you a seafood salad or something like it when you ask for an alcoholic beverage. It costs between 300 and 500 yen. Think of it as sin tax. Or Pay-Per-Tapas.
  • Japan is by and large a cash economy. Do not expect to pay for any given meal or hotel bill with a credit card. Check for the logo first.
  • Even if the ATM has your card’s logo, it may not work with your foreign card. Try the ones at the post office, or any machine that speaks English.
  • If you’re worried about whether the cashier will let you pay with a 10000 yen bill, and you’re used to getting hassled if you use anything bigger than $20 at home, don’t sweat it. Just about anywhere you go, they’ll take it.
  • Do not try to outwait a Japanese person as you come to a door. It will not happen. Thank them, and pass through.
  • If your shower won’t get warm, look for a switch somewhere in your room to turn the water heater on.
  • The stores in Ginza don’t open until 11am on Sunday.
  • The stores in Akihabara close by 9pm.
  • The masks people wear in the city are to protect against hay fever. The masks they wear in the airport are to protect against SARS.
  • Natto, which are fermented soybeans, can actually taste good.

Google: “9/11 showed…”

Filed in: Iraq, lists, Fri, Mar 28 2003 19:56 PT

One of my least favorite lines of argument in recent times is “September 11th showed…”. It sounds to me like a trump card when it’s used, a shallow attempt at co-opting the meaning of the events of that day, a boatload of fallacies (bandwagon, appeal to consequences, post hoc, hasty generalization, wishful thinking) wrapped up in an easy-to-carry bundle. I found it most recently in a treatise advocating American aggression in hawk-friendly Foreign Policy magazine.

So I wanted to see how many people have tried this approach, and the top 4 permutations total over 3600 hits on Google, or just under seven new things 9/11 has shown us per day. If you throw in what 9/11 “taught” us, the figure jumps to over 5000, or around nine lessons per day. And you pesky foreign types say we Americans never learn stuff!

  • “September 11th showed”: 545 hits
  • “September 11th taught”: 332 hits
  • “September 11 showed”: 1810 hits
  • “September 11 taught”: 635 hits
  • “9/11 showed”: 805 hits
  • “9/11 taught”: 390 hits
  • “11 September showed”: 478 hits
  • “11 September taught”: 48 hits

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