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A Decade In Review

December 31, 2009 9:01 am Published by 2 Comments

Tomorrow, it will be 2010.

Ten years ago Now
I was a sophomore at RPI, considering a double-major in Computer Science and Management. I am a developer/manager for a small company.
I lived in a tiny dorm room in the crummiest suburb (Troy) of one of the crummiest capital cities in the country (Albany). I live in South Boston in a condo I own. I have a patio and a garden.
I was dating my High School sweetheart, who went to college almost five hours away. I saw her about once a month. I’m married to my High School sweetheart. I sleep in a bed with her every night.
I stayed in my old bedroom at my parents’ house every month or so. Someone else owns that house, and my parents live in an RV. They’re currently in the Florida Keys.
I hung out with college friends, and once a month saw friends from High School. I hang out with college and Boston-area friends. I don’t see my Philly-based and California-based High School friends often enough.
I’d had a handful of beers (sorry mom, it’s true) but was not legally able to purchase alcohol. I spent a Benjamin on a bunch of champagne for tonight’s New Year’s Eve party.
I was programming mostly in C++ (both for school work and working on Science and Industry) with a little bit of Perl. I’m programming mostly in Java (work and Android app development) with a little bit of Perl and Python.
I ran a community website called WSVW1U.com. I run a personal website called Plutor.org.
I was planning the third iteration of a holiday I invented, called National Vacuum Awareness Day. NVAD expired after 2001. I still have dozens of shirts in my basement. Buy one?
I frequented Slashdot, Ars Technica, and suck.com. I’m active on MetaFilter, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr.

The Anti-gift

November 30, 2009 11:45 am Published by 5 Comments

What I asked for for birthday/Hannukah/Christmas: Freedom from shoe shopping. I hate that all the shoes kinda look the same to me. And I feel like I’m inconveniencing the salesperson every time I want to try on a different style. (Plus my feet are wide, so it’s hard to get the best fit the first size I try.) And you only get like three minutes to decide on a pair of shoes. What I wanted was for someone to go to the store, pick out five or six styles of shoes, buy them in 10½, and bring them to me. I could wear them at home over a weekend, pick out the ones I like the most, and then the giver would bring the others back.

What I got: A ride to the mall to buy shoes. No, wait, I drove. I guess all I got was “Let’s go buy you new shoes”.

Non-fun with MySQL

November 23, 2009 2:00 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Some days, nothing goes right.

mysql> drop table node_details;
ERROR 1051 (42S02): Unknown table 'node_details'
mysql> create table node_details ( id integer );
ERROR 1050 (42S01): Table 'node_details' already exists
mysql> drop database local_nodes;
ERROR 1051 (42S02): Unknown table 'node_details'

This exercise in un-collapsed waveforms brought to you by this not-a-bug bug.

Why I use Windows

October 23, 2009 11:37 am Published by 2 Comments

If you’re lucky, this is the last time you’ll hear me mention Windows 7 for a while. But I’ve received a number of queries about my continued use of it for a while now. I have some very excellent reasons that I figured I should put in writing for easy reference.

  1. Proactive non-reason: I don’t hate Apple. I think their hardware is beautiful and I think Mac OS X is one of the most usable Operating Systems around (although it’s got a learning curve like any OS does). Their prices are on the high end of reasonable, considering the hardware is generally top-of-the-line and well-built.
  2. Proactive non-reason: I am pro-open-source. I think Linus’ Law is spot on, and I think that “Release Early, Release Often” is a faster way to quality software. But I’m not an ideologue. I run Linux exclusively at work, but also I use plenty of closed-source applications without complaining. I’ll even purchase DRM-ed media without much grumbling.
  3. I like to build my own computers. There’s something about the hundreds of interlocking details that appeals to my nature. The challenge of learning (or re-learning) interfaces and chipsets and how memory works is exciting. (Aside: I find the enjoyment that I get from following sports to be somewhat similar. They’re complex worlds with details that are almost entirely self-consistent. And its the exceptions and quirks that make them enticing.)
  4. Unfortunately, Mac OS X doesn’t work on non-Apple hardware, at least not officially. And I don’t feel comfortable applying a delicate hack that will make that work on my every-day machine.
  5. My wife needs Windows for phone syncing and work applications. As a doctor, there are a number of applications she runs on her phone and at home to access charts and medical databases. Some of them have iPhone options, and a couple have cripped web versions, but none of them that I know of yet have a full-featured client that will work under either Mac OS X or Linux client.
  6. I like to play games. I do it less than I did back in college, but I still spend five or six hours a week playing Team Fortress 2 or Trackmania or a number of other games. There are few Mac OS X or Linux versions of most games: Windows is by far the most popular gaming platform. (Gaming works well in Parallels within Mac OS X, but you still need a Windows install/license.)
  7. Dual booting is more trouble than it’s worth. I have no problem with Windows. In fact, so far, Windows 7 is really nice and stable and it plays nice with all of my hardware. I have several good reasons to use Windows, but no compelling reason to use something else. So I have no reason to go through the effort to set up a second OS.

Quick ACL reviews

October 6, 2009 7:42 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Here are some quick reviews of shows I saw at Austin City Limits.

Shows that were really great:

  • John Legend – He’s quite a showman. He made a comment about ACL not usually having much R&B, but I think he probably convinced them it was a smart move.
  • Kings of Leon – I only caught about the last 20 minutes of their show (I was at the Yeah Yeah Yeahs during most of it) but they were great.
  • Mute Math – I wasn’t expecting a lot from their show, but they’re way high energy. The lead singer finished off the show by playing something that looked like a guitar-shaped theramin.
  • Flogging Molly – In the rain. That was something special. They went long, though, which was surprisingly annoying.
  • STS9 – Missed half of their show (I was at John Vanderslice and The Scabs), but their electronica is just so fun.
  • Ghostland Observatory – I had never heard of them before, but they were recommended (and it was them or Dave Matthews at the end of day 2). Two guys and the most kickass light show I had ever seen. Possibly my favorite act of the weekend.
  • Ben Harper and Relentless7 – From what I hear, very different from Ben Harper’s solo stuff. Reminded me of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, which leads me to believe their non-live stuff might not be as exciting as the show was.
  • Girl Talk – This was the 25,000 person dance party near the end of day 3. An amazing way to end the weekend. A very close second for best act.

Shows that were disappointing:

  • The Walkmen – For certain types of music, yelling instead of singing is okay. This wasn’t one of them.
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Not terrible, I just had never realized how similar all their songs sounded. Wish I had gone to all of Kings of Leon’s show instead.
  • Mos Def – He came on 20 minutes late, played drums(!) for two great songs, and then bullshitted with the band for ten minutes before doing another song. Decided to bail in favor of John Vanderslice.
  • The B-52s – What was I even expecting?

I’ll have photos up as soon as CVS gets their act together and develops them. Maybe tonight.