so it goes…

I just finished “Slaughterhouse Five“. What a great book. The humor is dark, as promised, and the reading is fairly quick. The absurdity of the situations and the understated manner in which they are presented are the keys to the darkness of the humor.

I’ve really never read a book quite like this. I have to say, I’m hooked. I’m definitely going to pick up more Vonnegut now. I would recommend this book for those with an “off” sense of humor, or if you’re outright weird and twisted, this book is for you!

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sometimes it’s too easy

So I took the Quadra 700 home yesterday. I got NetBSD running pretty quickly. I even installed MacOS 8. Kudos to the NetBSD/mac68k port maintainers. The install was really, really easy. So easy, in fact, it’s not worthy of its own project page 🙁 Oh well. There are other platforms out there.

I also installed a bigger hard drive. I happened to have a 9GB SCSI disk lying around (actually, it was in the recycle pile). Anyway, I replaced the meager 90MB drive. The biggest downfall is that the 9GB drive is about 10X louder than the 90MB one.

Getting the drive in there was really simple, too. I removed the cover, the power supply and the drive cage with 2 screws. Mind you, this thing was made in 1991-1992, so if any of you remember PC cases back then(think 486), it often took 4-6 screws to get the cover off. The other nice thing about the 700 is the size of the case. It’s a tiny mini-tower design. The floppy mounts vertically.

So now what? Well, I’m thinking of getting an ethernet tranceiver for it. Small Dog Electronics has the Asante transceiver for $4 USD. Once this puppy’s on the ‘net, then it’ll be infinitely more useful. I’ve been looking for an old machine to use as a serial terminal for my other *nix boxes. However, I wanted a machine with no hard drive, boots up in a matter of seconds, and has a minimal GUI. Unfortunately, the Mac Plus that fit this role perfectly died. I’m still looking for a solution to that problem. The Q700 doesn’t fit the spec. For now, I just plug in my PowerBook to the serial switch via a USB->Serial adapter.

Another thing I was thinking was that the case for the Q700 screams to be turned into a mini-itx project. I’d just need to lengthen the floppy slot and mount a slot-loading DVD-ROM/CD-RW.

Anyway, just pipe dreaming for now. Lots of other things to tend to at the moment 🙂

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it’s like deja vu all over again

So my co-worker says to me, “Hey, you like Apple, right? Got any use for some older ones? I have one or two.”

“Sure”, I say. He shows up at the office with a Quadra 900 and a Quadra 700. The 900 is a honkin’ beast, so I probably won’t take it, especially since the specs are the same as the more petite 700. This thing is really cool!

So, what am I going to do with it? Run NetBSD, of course! It’s supported by the mac68k port. I’ll be sure to post something on my projects page when I get around to it. This little guy has 20MB RAM, a 90MB SCSI HDD, an external SCSI CDROM drive, and is really quiet. I may use this for my terminal server. If that’s the case, I may just run an old version of MacOS on it and use zTerm.

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stupid…

Uh, I guess Microsoft is just playing with me now. I get a notification that Windows Update is ready to download SP2. So, I click the dialog to go ahead and download it. It went away. No failure message, and certainly, no update. So then, I go to the update site to get the download. I used the “express install option”, which apparently means, “do nothing”.

That option scans for the most recent updates. When it returns, there are no updates to be found. Not only that, but there’s a message that says that Microsoft recommends updating to SP2 as soon as it’s released, and gives me links to find out more about the features of SP2. Okay, but can I install it? Apparently, it isn’t ready yet.

Okay, so then why was I notified that it was ready for download? What a load of crap.

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“Holy software glut, Batman!”

Has anyone noticed the plethora of software technologies surrounding Java? I mean, Sun is bad enough:

  • J2SE
  • J2RE
  • J2EE
  • J2ME(with multiple profiles. A few years ago, I couldn’t even figure out which parts to download!)

But now, there are IDEs, and all manner of creations for project building, build management, etc., etc, ad infinitum. On the Apache Jakarta Project’s web site, there are no fewer than 19 projects! Honestly, I can’t really figure out the difference between some of them. I’m evaluating tools for my company’s project, trying to get a feel for what’s out there. There’s a lot. But, can someone tell me what the core difference is between Jakarta Ant and Jakarta Maven? Maven claims to be a project oriented build tool, whereas Ant is a build tool that, uh, well, builds projects (furrows brow, scratches head).

Okay, I know that choice in software is a Good Thing®, but really, as a potential user, it’s nice to be clear on what my choices are. If I can’t figure out what a product is and what it does and why I should use it after reading the homepage (I mean like 5 paragraphs), then I get really frustrated. I’ve had to do this many times with many different products, and quite frankly, I’m sick of it.

Okay, feel better now.

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Might They Be Giants?

So, A2C and I were guitar window shopping in NYC. We were near Sam Ash, when I recognized this guy on his cell phone. First, I saw the glasses, then the hair, then the smile. “Hmmm…”, I thought, “That guy looks like John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants.” The more I looked at him, the more I was convinced. So, I stealthily stalled at the Sam Ash window to wait for him to get off the phone.

Well, A2C, being the modest one, was like, “you’re not going to bother him, are you?”, not really asking a question. I was like, “but it’s John Flansburgh. I’ve been listening to hi stuff since 1990! He’re right here! He’s only in one of the most important bands in the 20th and 21st century! He… Okay, I guess not.” We walked on.

I’m so sure it was him. I can’t believe I saw John Flansburgh!!

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great quote…

I found this quote in several places, and I think it’s great. So often, as developers, we try to be clever. I think we should focus on correctness and reducing errors.

“Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it.”

-Brian Kernighan

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puff the magic dragon

I’m a TV addict. Sit me in front of a set, and you’ve lost me. I’m in my own world: just me and whatever is on. Time freezes for me, and easily an entire day can pass without my even noticing, until late in the night when my stomach is growling, and there’s a cold sweat beading on my brow.

This is one of the main reasons I don’t have a TV today. I’d spend all my time in front of it. So instead, I spend all my time in front of the computer. I’ve rationalized this since I feel that the online medium is what McLuhan would call a “cool” medium, one in which the viewer is a participant. So this is better than merely being spoon-fed on a “hot” medium like broadcast television.

Ahem. Every once in a while, I’d catch a “Puff the Magic Dragon” TV special, and I was hooked. Man, the very idea of a dragon being your friend was the coolest thing since preformatted floppies. I also got (and still have) a Puff story book. I think it’s based on the first cartoon. It’s got images and music from the cartoon.

As I’m sure you’ve all heard, the song for which Puff is named has always been under fire for being a “drug song”. Well, apparently, that just isn’t so. Okay, now you might say, “Riiiight!, as if the songwriter is gonna ‘fess up to writing a drug song.” The article points out that Mary, of “Peter, Paul and Mary”, said that if Yarrow had wanted to write a drug song, he would’ve written a drug song. Yarrow’s quote is the best:

When ‘Puff’ was written, I was too innocent to know about drugs. What kind of a meanspirited SOB would write a children’s song with a covert drug message?

I managed to find a few of the cartoons on DVD, but it’s out of stock, or unavailable in many places. Too bad 🙁

Anyone else old enough to remember this, or am I *that* old?

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D’Nealian

Once, I was trying to describe the handwriting method I learned in gradeschool. I don’t know how the conversation started, but I’m sure it was somehow related to my completely crappy handwriting.

Anyway, when I was growing up in IL, we were taught the D’Nealian handwriting method. No one had ever heard of it, and I was starting to think I made it up. Well, thanks to Google, I’ve found a few things about it. Here’s a link to a school’s page that is using the system. Be sure to check out the image of the sample script.

What did you learn as a kid?

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strange feeling

So, we finally got the development kit for the system I’m working on at work. Previously, I was coding in Windows. Now, since the compiler only runs on one machine (thanks to a stupid dongle), we have the compiler on the test box (a Windows PC), and run a VNC server.

The upside is now that the Win32-only compiler is isolated to one machine, we can access that machine via any platform that has a VNC client. Like, say, oh, I dunno, my PowerBook. Haha! It’s the weirdest thing seeing the Windows desktop on my PB. There are a few drawbacks however.

“Chicken of the VNC”, the VNC client I’m using, logs out the current user on the remote machine if you quit it. Odd. This isn’t a problem for our setup, though.

It’s really nice. I can use XCode, which is pretty handy, though I haven’t found all the features I need, or gvim on my Mac to edit the code via a samba share. I then run the DOS command line version of the compiler on the build/test machine, and away I go. *sigh* this is the life.

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