It's rained in San Francisco for about 8 days straight now. So I haven't been biking to work. This has been OK, since the holiday week between Christmas and New Years is generally light traffic on US-101. I hope the rain eases up soon, now that traffic should be picking up.
The one nice thing about the rain is that it inspired me to finally have a fire in my fireplace. It's been great, and now there's an interesting slight smokey smell in my place. I've never have had a fireplace before (I decided that my senior year in college doesn't count), so I don't know if that is expected or not. #
A thoughtful review of two books about the torture American representatives have brought upon our enemies. This makes you wonder who is the enemy, and who the new enemy will be. "...the prevalence of brutality and inhumanity among American interrogators has robbed the United States of the high ground it desperately needs to maintain in order to win." One of the things I had admired about the United States in the past was the progressive (but admittedly slow) improvement of the lot in life of people here, and somewhat in turn, abroad. In many ways (with notable exceptional cases), the United States has maintained a moral high ground around the world. It is such an utter shame that the unfathomly horrible current "leadership" of this country has ruined this for this generation and more to come. A real leader would make right the wrongs that have occurred under his watch, and he wouldn't be rewarding fools and idiots with medals of honor. This whole debacle leaves me unbelievably sad. The president has squandered about 75 years of 'political capital'. What an utter waste. Has there been anything at all positive about the president's policies? History, even before we're dead, will reflect negatively on this travesty. I'm so ashamed of my country. #
I realized last night that one of the changes I had made to the web site generator had screwed up most of the music pages. I've fixed that and I've hopefully made the code a little better along the way.
Speaking of which, CalTrain is apparently cracking down on 10 Ride ticket holders that don't get their ticket validated by a machine before they board. They now state that if you don't go to a conductor as soon as you board telling them of your problem, they will issue you a citation. I overheard a sympathetic conductor who said that management apparently doesn't think the validator machines have as many problems as they do. This same conductor (from Santa Cruz) was quite impressed with my bicycle this morning. #
Who is running for election in Iraq? Where will people vote? No one is saying. In the United States we value secret ballots, apparently the precedent of valuing secret elections is beginning in Iraq. Iraq only just had election in October 2002, just before the U.S. invaded a sovereign nation for no justifiable reason. Saddam won by a landslide. Does anyone truly believe this upcoming election is more legitimate than the previous Iraqi election? Please tell me how you vote for someone you don't know, and you don't know what they stand for. What would be a candidate's platform in Iraq? Let's see, fighting terrorism has to be on the list, as one can't get elected without that feather in your hat. I am so ashamed of my country.
So I saw two billionaires in two days last week. I went to Google for lunch on Thursday, and saw Sergey Brin. On Friday I went to Apple for lunch, and I saw Steve Jobs. Pretty cool, actually. Are there more charismatic founders of more influential companies around the Silicon Valley right now? I don't think so. Plus they both have products with the word mini in them.
I fixed a couple more bugs in my web site generation program. For example, the diary entries that appear on the main page would have incorrect embedded links to the bands, venues, and albums when they appeared on the archive pages. You'll also see that the diary archive pages now have month headings. There also have been lots on internal improvements to the code. I've done a lot of 'professional polish' types of changes to the build system and how the program gets its data. They are the types of things that would be expected in a product, which haven't been in the program yet because it is only a hobby.
Wow. I guess you have to admire their doggedness. Laws that prevent CIA dirty tricks? Move the operations to the Pentagon, outside of the people's review. Laws that prohibit torture? Well, then, re-define torture. Repeatedly fail in vague goals for a preemptive war? Keep the Defense Secretary on another 4 years and give him even more powers to destroy our futures even further. Start a war and create another terrorist training ground beyond bin Laden's wildest dreams? Just do it. It sure shows their modus operandi; insist you are correct and damn the torpedoes, the law, common sense, and human dignity. This administration does what your stereotypical slimy lawyer does. They twist and maim a definition of the law beyond any reasonable person's recognition to reach definitions of the law as they see fit and to justify what they are already doing. It's illegal to torture? It's OK if you define torture as starting after the instant just before death. If these acts define my country and what it stands for, it seems to me that there is less worth defending. But I know that the U.S. is better than this. I am so ashamed of my country.
Jeff Wickenkamp figured out another unknown show date. It's been years since someone did that. His old band Pork Pie opened for some band called Smashing Pumpkins on April 29, 1990. He even has put up recordings, which he warns may taint your memories of this fine evening.
On the web site program update, you'll notice popup titles on the pictures, dates in the shows in the RSS feeds, and the last 20 most recent entries in the RSS feed (instead of splitting 50% between the shows and diary entries). #
Isn't it surreal that in the confirmation hearings going on for the presidential cabinet secretaries that all the Senators say that there is no doubt that the confirmation will take place? Even though several of the people are evasive and telling half-truths? It's illegal to lie to Congress. Isn't this a democracy, or is it all just a show? It seems to me to be nearly like the rubber-stamp Soviet Politurbo of the Soviet era. I am so ashamed of my country. #
On the CalTrain ride in the other morning, the guy sitting behind me was asked for his ticket. The conductor said that the ticket he was given was out of date. The passenger said something about how he must have grabbed the wrong one (out of his pocket, I guess). The conductor went on asking for others' tickets. The passenger behind me asked if he could use my ticket and show it to the conductor for his ticket. I answered no with a shake of my head. I was wondering for a moment if I should be cool to this kid, but I decided not to. You see, he gave the impression that he was a hard-ass. A hard-ass doesn't try to borrow someone else's ticket when it's obvious he got on the train hoping he wouldn't have to show a ticket. A real man fesses up to the conductor and takes the consequences. The end result would've been the same; the conductor would have lectured him, and asked him to get off the next stop. This is what happened anyways. While I was typing this, I noticed the same guy on the train again on the way up to San Francisco! He also has the absolutely most rusted out bike I've seen on two wheels, and a hip tan leather sportcoat jacket. A train ride like this sure is more excitement than I would've had driving on 101.
I just read a blurb in the New York Times about the upcoming Nirvana box set. The author, who says he was in high school when Cobain died, said that at the time you were either in the Pearl Jam or Nirvana camp. That's funny, because I saw it as you were either in the Mudhoney or Nirvana camp. I was on the Mudhoney side.
I went to the San Francisco Apple store on Saturday. The Mac mini is much lighter than I expected. After picking up and holding an iPod shuffle, I knew I had to have one. It has enough music for a cross country flight, so I think that's enough room, and I nearly always listen to my iPod on shuffle mode anyways. Too bad they were out of stock, or I'd have one right now. I did pick up the new iLife and iWork, however. The word processor, Pages, seems to load the MicroSoft Word documents I get from Azul employees properly. The new version of GarageBand has all sorts of fun audio effects in it. I think I want to dedicate some time to improving my musical ability. I haven't really delved into the new iPhoto features yet. And I was thinking about it. iLife and iWork are $80 a piece, and Mac OS X generally runs $130 retail. Add it up, and that means the Mac mini costs $209.
Together we can prevent earthquakes. I just saw this postcar/flyer in a local coffee house. I'll have to go the exhibit soon.
It pretty funny. The last couple of months I've noticed Chip watching T.V. It's hard to tell what he's most interested in. I think that some sound is what attracts him in the first place, and then he decides to watch.
So I'm still in the process of updating the code to develop this website. So I think I've made the
CSS look worse than before, but the markup I'm making is better in the end. It'll just have to remain in flux for now. #
A bus went out of service on Church Street today. It backed up 6 J-Church Muni trains behind it. The bus was an electric one. In San Francisco, these buses run by dragging electrical contact along power lines suspended above the road. Apparently these are 'trolley poles'. So it appeared that, as occasionally happens, the bus's trolley poles detached from the power lines, and the bus was dead. Usually the driver will get out and maneuver the trolley poles back onto the wires using these guy ropes. But the contacts that the trolley poles uses to connect to the power lines were somehow caught up in a location of the power lines that is exactly like a train track junction. About 3 crew pickup trucks came out to work on the bus. They pushed the bus out of harm's way with the rams on the front of the pickups. Lots of action on Church St. tonight. #
I had the Super Bowl on while spending some of the afternoon doing chores and reading. The Paul McCartney half-time show was so damn nostalgic. It was also good. The fire works during "Live and Let Die" were just like the ones at Soldier Field so many years ago. The guy's certainly accustomed to playing football fields. However, even I'm being nostalgic for a time I didn't live the first time. What about everyone else? #
(Update: I mistook February 7 for March 7. I have no idea how I did this. I'll update again in March about my two year anniversary. Does this make me a liar?)
It's tiring reading news articles about this administration. When this administration lies, which it seems pathologically inclined to do, the news articles couch their language about the lies. "Not entirely true", "Impugning their integrity", "Lack of respect for the truth", etc. I wish they'd call it like it is, and report that they are liars, The press simply doesn't call them on it. But maybe reporting "the administration lied today" wouldn't be news, almost as worthy as reporting the sun rose today. #
Could this be where my fingers are headed? Even if it might be a fake picture, it sure is nasty. I have to treat my nail biting like I did smoking. The thing is that I really have to want to do it. This unfortunately hasn't happened yet like it had for smoking.
As if it's necessary, but here's more proof that 1) our President is a liar and 2) the major media is emasculated by viperous right wing nut jobs who prefer to ignore this fact. This article still uses mushy terms such as "lack of integrity" and "dishonest." I wish they'd just cut to the chase. #
The other day I was listening to U2 - The Unforgettable Fire. It's been quite a while since I really listened to it. It's a great record. The band is amazing on this one. Great guitars going all over the place in that classic Edge style. The rhythm section is solid. Then Bono's vocals. They soar. This can be annoying for some singers, but it works. If he wasn't so over the top, I think this album would have been considered too radical due to the guitars. If he was a subdued singer, I'd probably not even be talking about this band right now.
It seems to me that everyone is going to have to watch their behavior nowadays. Of course a 19 year old going overseas is going to try some things they hadn't before. Maybe even take some pictures? But a female soldier mud wrestling in Iraq? Boy, you'll never live that one down. Google finds everything. #
The iPod shuffle is so cool. I picked one up while at an Apple store, and I knew I had to have one. The show stopper is that it doesn't track the last played time, which is probably my favorite feature of iTunes. I like to listen to music that I haven't heard in a year or 6 months or whatever. I'll just have to wait for the next release. They may be able to update iTunes so that is marks the last played time as the sync time, but then there'd be a group of tracks that were all listed as being played at once. Hopefully they'll just get a clock into the iPod Shuffle.
I think this writer has a great point. I believe it would be simple for the #1 music service (iTunes Music Store) to switch to a 'rental' plan. Normally I'm not on the side of proprietary software and solutions (despite my resume). However I think it's really really good that Apple is able to throw a huge monkey wrench into the "Microsoft everywhere" machine. I don't think Real Networks is capable, and there are no other players in this field. We have no idea how bad it could be if Microsoft ran all the media in the future. Because if you don't think that media is going to be coming through to you on some sort of a computer, which needs an operating system, a file format, and a delivery mechanism, well, you're wrong. Right now, anyone can make a TV. I don't believe you'd need to pay anyone to receive the signal and display it. This economic model is 100% out the window with the Internet and digital media. As expected, you must pay for the physical receiving device. But you already have to pay the people with the wires. You already have to pay for the service you get on the wires. Now, you have to pay to see the media. I personally believe that Microsoft would find a way to charge that would be unreasonable in some way, and would require a Microsoft TV package. The story goes that the Microsoft Windows license is the most expensive part of a P.C. This lock-in is sometimes known as the Microsoft Tax. More than likely, this is everyone's (including Apple's) goal. I just think that Microsoft would be one of the worst stewards for this increasingly important part of our lives. They have a horrendous track record, both in the business (i.e. the anti-trust suits, immensely predatory behavior) and technical (i.e. the endless security problems) aspects. Microsoft is not our friend here. Sony and Real Networks have no idea what to do. Sony is torn between being proprietary and free at the same time (due to being both a content and delivery device provider). Real Networks isn't an Apple, Microsoft, or Sony. They are doomed. Apple only might be our friend, only because they slow down the Microsoft machine. #
When I was a freshman in college (or maybe a senior in high school), a friend of mine was really into the band Psychick T.V. They are quite odd. They emerged from the band Throbbing Gristle. To give an example of their strangeness, the singer and his wife are currently in the process of slowly getting plastic surgery so that they look alike in the end. I'll speak no more of them; go look for it on Google. So this same friend was of course into William S. Burroughs. From him I learned of the Dreamachine, and he even gave me plans for one. The dimensions of the column were provided, and a scale template of the necessary holes. All you needed after this was a 78 RPM turntable. I built this and had it in my dorm. It was funny to have it running and the dorm room door open. People would walk by wondering what the hell was going on in there. I carried it around for years. I think I gave it up when I left Texas. It was pretty cool. Now I read in a New York Times article that there's a guy who started making Dreamachines about the same time I did. Only now he sells his for up to $3000 a pop! Now I wish I could try out my Dreamachine again.
So at work I was just doing work with pthread_once(). So it got me thinking about how weird the word 'once' is. If you look at it long enough, it starts to seem like you are pronouncing it incorrectly. The same word means 'eleven' in Spanish, and of course it is pronounced phonetically. English is so weird. I am so ashamed of my language. #
On Friday I was running late leaving for the CalTrain in the morning. However, I didn't have to stop at a single light (but I went through about 3 yellows) and I actually made it to the 4th & King station in 9 minutes. I asked if they could let me on the train, and I got on just before they closed the doors. Usually this bike ride takes approximately 15 minutes. I am the man.
So I went to Zeitgeist yesterday afternoon after a nice hike where I twisted my ankle. I was standing on the deck with my friend trying to find somewhere to sit. I see a totally recognizable face in the crowd. I turn to Mary, and I say, "I went to high school with her." Trust me, hers isn't a face you'd forget. So I walk over, and I say, "Aren't you Karen?" She looks at me incredulously and says, "Greg?". We figure we probably haven't seen each other in about 15 years. Karen's lived in San Francisco for about a year now; we exchanged numbers and promised to hang out.
So energy consumption, its sources, its problems, and potential solutions have been on my mind lately. I haven't quite gotten to the point where I feel I can articulate my views properly yet (especially since I'm no expert). However, I'm an engineer, and I think like an engineer. So when I see something that simply doesn't work and doesn't have legs like our current energy ideas, I want to kill it. I've talked about this in the past, check out what I wrote about 2 years ago, and what finally made it into the New York Times today. I particularly like where he suggests "making energy independence our generation's moon shot", since I like that idea the best of my previous post. We need to inspire people that the energy problems of the United States and elsewhere are a challenge to be met by all that will truly bring humanity to the next level of understanding. Or something. I see the journey to the moon as something on par with history's greatest art and writing. Just look at what man can accomplish. It was an amazing art project funded by Cold War fears and military dollars. There's no feeling more humbling than seeing the entire Earth and, by inference, everyone on it in a single glance! Such a shame that the vast majority of us will only experience it through a photo. Pictures of the Grand Canyon do it no justice. How can a picture of the entire Earth come close to the experience?. But I'm getting away from my point. Fixing the energy problems that we're all having on Earth will be an accomplishment that will have meaning and repercussions that should stand the test of time. I don't recall where I originally get my ideas anymore or if I even think of them uniquely. I'm sure that what I wrote then was just a summary of some things I had read.
So I finally got out and saw a show. It was part of the Noise Pop festival that goes on here every year. For those new frequent readers of my site, I have an example where they ripped me off a couple years ago. Check out the old Noise Pop logo, and check out my logo. I wrote them, and they just said it was a coincidence. They didn't even give me a free pass.
Reading about Hunter S. Thompson this week I found two interesting things. The first is a speech. given by his son several years ago. Another tidbit is that I guess Hunter ran for sheriff in Colorado in the early 1970s. His opponent had a buzz cut, so Hunter shaved his head and labeled his opponent a long-haired freak. Classic.
SF Gate always has funny headlines for their stories. The headline for a recent one was "Expedition Turns Into Blazer". It was about some 20 year old with a $30K Expedition. This idiot tossed his lit cigarette, it went back in his SUV, and his SUV was completely torched. Was it karma, car-ma, or SUV-ma? #
Last week when I was riding the CalTrain in the morning, we slowed down just before Hillsdale. An announcement came on that said the train in front of us was disabled, and that our train was going to couple with it and move it along. First everyone on that train had to get off the train at the Hillsdale station. Then our train coupled with that train. Then our train pulled up to the station to let everyone onto ours. In the end it was about a 12 to 15 car train, which is huge for CalTrain. However everything seemed to be fine inside. I get the feeling these engines are as big as a freight train engine, but I really have no idea.
I also had gone to see a movie over at Aram & Mary's large movie theatre in the last few weeks. They suggested "The Station Agent". I could barely remember a preview for this movie, and for some reason I was against it because of this preview. But they both said it was good, so I relented. Damn this is a great movie. Wow. I won't even tell you what happens because it was completely unexpected for me. The acting in it is wonderful as well. Speaking of which, Aram & Mary (and probably others) will see a movie multiple times. I don't really like to do that. There's so many others to watch, books to read, websites to program! I think that this subconsciously drives me to not want to watch movies more than once. #
So I went to see Slint last night. I'm also going to see them on Friday. I had originally bought tickets for Friday, and when the additional shows went on sale, Aram and I decided to go on Wednesday as well since it hadn't sold out yet. Nothing like seeing a great band only twice. I'll be writing the review today while it's fresh in my mind. I want to write it up before I see Friday's show, so that the two don't get mixed up in my head. I won't post it until after Friday's show, however. This way my readers here who will be going on Friday will have no spoilers. Suffice to say I'm looking forward to going on Friday as well. Today I'm proudly wearing my Slint t-shirt.
Darn. I've forgotten to mention in two posts that I went to go see the Mavericks big (actually huge-ass) wave surfing competition on March 2. It was a beautiful morning and Salim and I drove out to Half Moon Bay to watch the surfers. We started way out on the beach. However the big ass waves are about a half a mile off shore. We could tell they were huge ass waves because the surfers looks like tiny dots compared to the waves. Towards the end of the morning we hiked up to the cliff on shore to see from above. This gave a better perspective on things. For example, we could see that there were actually probably about 100 people (not all surfers) out there. We got into work at about noon. I'll try to post pictures later. Meanwhile you can check out the official Mavericks site and Salim's pictures as well.
Last Saturday Karen (my long lost high school friend) and I drove to Lake Tahoe. Karen skis, I do not. However she had a recent dislocated shoulder, so we just went to the top of Heavenly and had a burger and a beer. Then we drove back. It was a gorgeous day. I'll have to post those pictures along with the Mavericks ones soon.
The weather here has been beautiful, and it looks like it will last into next week. I actually rode my bike to the Slint show last night without a jacket. Incredible. California weather rules over all other places' weather. #
There's nothing like waking up on a Saturday morning to see that two good friends have already linked to my Slint show review. Salim has a nice picture that I wish I had taken, and Kevin created a list of why Slint rules.
The rest of my Saturday I spent with my cousin Brian who was visiting from Chicago for work. His wife, Edie, has a cousin, Ken, with a 41 foot sailboat in Sausalito. That Saturday was the only foggy day in a string of sunny days. But the sail across the Gate, into Aquatic Park (while under sail!) and back to Sausalito was fun nevertheless. Before we sailed we had fresh Dungeness Crab that Ken and his friends had trapped the day before.
Sheesh. The 7:37 AM CalTrain in this morning had so many bikes. For some reason the conductors weren't paying any attention and they let every single biker on. There were bikes 7 deep per rack, when it's supposed to be five. It was sheer and utter chaos. The conductor failed here.
I have music from every year back until 1936 (except for 1943 and 1938). I also have Jimmie Rodgers from 1927 and 1928. There's a playlist here somewhere.
This is what it is like at Google. I happen to know that Colin Powell isn't the only former Secretary of State to visit. Madeline Albright has been there too. I believe Google has also been visited by Mikhail Gorbachev, Jimmy Carter, and Queen Noor of Jordan. Gwyneth Paltrow and some Coldplay members added their star power one day. Not to be outdone, at Apple I once saw Robert Redford leaving the building. I saw Bjarne Stroustup out in Cafe Macs once too. I've seen James Gosling at Apple (and traded emails with him about an obscure Java font bug on Mac OS X). But like I told my friend at Google, don't these people understand that you don't have to visit Google HQ to actually 'search Google'?
I bought the Dinosaur Jr. re-releases this week. That's been a lot of fun. They're one of those bands which I've heard at many of my friends' places over the years, though I've never owned them, I know the songs. Unfortunately I never got to see them. They had played in Champaign at Trito's Uptown, but regrettably I didn't go to the show. It's somewhat legendary among my friends; apparently it was nothing but constant noise. The picture of Lou Barlow on the back of the first album is classic. I also picked up The Arcade Fire only based upon vague buzz. The vague buzz was correct; this is a great record. It's unique but it also has lots of references to music you've heard before.
On CalTrain last week I saw Frank Chu, aka the 12 Galaxies guy. I overheard someone talking loudly. I looked up and saw a familiar looking Chinese man talking to someone in the vestibule of the train. He seemed to be leaning on a stick. I was pretty sure that it was him. Once he got off at the Redwood City stop carrying one of his signs, I was certain.
While seeing a movie at Metreon the other night, we saw the line for the midnight sale of the new Sony toy. I've never understood standing in line for something like that. I've stood in line for a movie or a band, but never at midnight. #
I saw another incredible movie the other night called "Children of God." It's a Brazilian movie from a couple of years ago about the slums and the drug trade in Rio de Janeiro. The actors were amazing, and apparently most of them were first time actors. The filmmakers and the story arc were also wonderful. Please go see this movie.
The rumors are starting to pick up about the next version of Mac OS X, called Tiger. I had been working on Tiger while I was at Apple. While at Apple's Developer conference last summer, I went to plenty of the sessions put on by the other teams at Apple. I was so impressed with what is coming up in Tiger that it really got me thinking. I wanted to work on something there with more visibility and pizazz. This was the start of when I knew that I wanted to do something different than implementing Java AWT at Apple. I learned that it's hard to change responsibilities within Apple. This search is what wound up leading me to Azul Systems. Things are promising at Azul. I'll soon be really jumping into the code base there. I've basically have been working in parallel with the rest of the team during my time there.
I've been living in my condo for two years now. I got my cat Chip about 9 years ago tomorrow. I started at Apple (and therefore moved to California) 5 years ago late last week. I have been in my current job for 6 months. #
So today I did one of my periodic Google searches for my name. I found that Edith Frost herself linked to my post about her show. I thought that was a particularly funny post, so that's good. I also found one of my Daniel Johnston posts on a fansite. So then I looked at Yahoo, and something called Bloglines has my website there. It looks like they read my RSS feed. It says one person is subscribed, but I can't see who that is. It's pretty weird to see my content re-purposed there. Someone else also points to my Hickoids review. Unfortunately their link back to my site is broken. This exposes a bug with my program that generates the web site; my links aren't permanent. Well the links to anything I keep sorted alphabetically aren't permanent. Currently each item gets an ID based upon its index in a sorted list of the items. So the problem happens that if I see a show at a new venue or with a new band that is somewhere in the middle of this sorted list, everyone else's index after that increases by one. Actually if I change the date of any show, the show links aren't permanent either. This will all be fixed once building my site isn't a two step process. However this feature is on hold for the time being. Famous last words.
I found another fixable bug in my code today. Today is the first day of daylight savings time. When I entered this entry, it would show up in the web site as '4/2', not '4/3'. So I watched the date go through the program. The convoluted system I currently have reads a set of text files, generates two
XML files (one for the music and one for the diary), then reads in the
XML files to create the
HTML files. The proper date was being written to the
XML, but an improper date was being read out of them. So I looked directly at the
XML files. The human readable date did say '4/3', but the offset from GMT was different depending upon if the date was a PDT or PST timezone. In addition, there was no timezone information written out at all. So I looked at the XML Schema Datatype specification (my
XML is auto-generated from
XML Schema files). There's a more qualified date entity called dateTime. So I changed my Schema files, re-generated the
XML data files, and re-ran the program. Problem solved. However, I'm still not sure if it was truly a bug in my
XML Schema, even though tweaking that fixed the problem. From how I read the date entity, it should have timezone information in there. So it may be a bug in JAXB instead. #
Lately I've been chatting with my friend Kevin online more often. I'd heard from either him or Jeff Wagner (who come to think of it, I probably speak to less lately than Kevin who's in Ithaca, NY, not just 2 blocks away) that John Hastie had contacted them. John was in Jumpknuckle with Jeff & Rich Heid. Kevin was in Dissed Like A Roach, which preceded Jumpknuckle. So I looked up John on the web. He's in a new band now, Nonagon, along with someone from the J. Davis Trio. They've only had a few shows, but they have one of the very best live rock band pictures ever. Be sure to read the witty self deprecating commentary while you're at it.
About 20 years ago I first met Roger Luteyn. I can't remember if we were freshmen or sophomores in high school. I wish I did remember how I met him; I bet it was funny. We'd ride our bikes around Palatine before we could drive. We became punk rock together. I remember buying The Replacements' "Let It Be" with him. I think he bought it and I taped it. Hah! Anyways, he'd always draw great comics. Unfortunately, I've lost touch with him. I think the last time I saw him was an utterly frigid night where we went to a Hum show. We were both still in the suburbs then. I was back from college, but not living on my own yet. He's in Minneapolis now, still drawing comics as Roger Lootine, but doesn't have email apparently. So I am going to write him at his P.O. Box later this week. I wanted to put some links up to his latest stuff, called Residue. Based upon this flyer, I can tell he doesn't look too different than I remember. He's still on a bike. I can't tell if his hair is still crimped, however. Roger is the one with the chimp on his back. 20 years. Damn we're old. #
So Daniel Johnston used to work at McDonald's. Rik Didjit worked at Jewell in Champaign. Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips famously was an employee of Long John Silver's. Does anyone else know any unusual day jobs of rock stars?
I just got an email whose sender was upset about one of my posts. The sender demanded that I remove my posting. I declined to remove the post, but I've updated it. It's unusual to have had my observations of my life affect someone so strongly, but I understand not that every public action requires a public record.
So my fair weather fan days for the Illini are done. It was fun while it lasted, however. Those games, particularly the Arizona game were damn exciting. This team had more of my college friends excited than I could remember in a long time. Lots of other unexpected fair weather fans came out of the woodwork as well. At least I saw Illini basketball games (and football games) when I was a student. #
Wow. Salim with the post of the day. I live right near this mint as well. I'm going to take pictures of it this weekend. Here's Google's satellite view of the New Mint in San Francisco. It's the large building on the southwest corner of Hermann & Buchanan. I wonder if the satellite had to produce identification.
After reading a couple technical blogs lately, I wish I could write as eloquently about my career. This one is a very interesting one about how easy it is to ship new software when it's on the web. I imagine that you could beta test your new software with a small subset of IP addresses that access your site, or only use the new software for a period of time, or only for a given number of hits. It's pretty intriguing, especially in light of how complex Google's latest web based software offerings have been. I've linked to Daring Fireball before as well. I think this is a reasoned analysis of all the noise on the web about Apple's lawsuits about their private information being leaked. The trade secret law seems like the very narrow advantage that Apple's lawyers sought out. Apple's tough on leaks. Before I started working at Apple, it leaked like a sieve. This wasn't good for Apple's business. Everyone would hear the rumor about the next great powerful machine coming out, and wouldn't buy the current ones. This wasn't good for Apple's business, nor did it bode well for those like me who program Macintoshes for a living. Here's a scoop: Apple is always working on a better machine and operating system than the one you're currently using. This is a very good thing. I wouldn't want it any other way. There was recently a funny post on Macintouch, referencing a Mac rumor site about how Apple was already working on updates to the upcoming Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. What do they think the software engineers at Apple do after their component is complete for the current Mac OS X build train? Sit around and twiddle their fingers? Yes, it is when most vacations are taken, but once they are back, if they weren't working on an update to the OS that just shipped, they'd be fired. I'd post a link to the story, but as far as I can tell, Macintouch will expire old posts. At least I can't figure out how to get a link into their search result. #
Azul Systems has turned on the marketing machine on the company website today. I haven't read the new web site in much detail, but it certainly gives more detail than before. For those readers who aren't familiar with the enterprise technology market, Azul's top of the line 384 core, 256 GB RAM machine has an asking price of $799,000. So obviously this isn't a consumer level item. This is the first place I've worked that I'm working on something that I wouldn't have a possibility to buy for myself. Of course it would be fun to have one of these, but it would be fun to have a Lamborghini as well!
So I was up late on a Friday night and at home, so I watched Dinosaur Jr. on TV tonight. They played "Lung". According to Lou's website, they practiced as a full band beforehand for all of 2 days after 15 years hiatus. Before the set, there was a TV commercial with Jane's Addiction's "Mountain Size", showing the Coors mountain logo. Ugh. #
There are reports on the web that the Mac OS X 10.3.9 software update may have broken java. I ran the update, and my java still works fine. However, I have been able to confirm that it apparently does happen in some cases. Apple should have a fix for this soon. However, if the problem is occurring for you now, and you need to run java, the fix is to run the following command lines in Terminal.
sudo requires you to enter your administrator password. "cd /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.4.2/Libraries; sudo rm classes.jsa; sudo java -Xdump" then "cd /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.3.1/Libraries; sudo rm classes.jsa; sudo /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.3.1/Commands/java -Xdump:/System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.3.1/Libraries/classes.jsa -version". (I wish I could get that to format better.) You may read that some people say to re-install a previous security update. This voodoo works because that installed some java fixes (that actually won't be re-installed) but then the installer knows to make the above occur after the reboot of the system.
So why did this problem happen? The
classes.jsa files are pre-cooked parts of java. With the commands above, the Java Virtual Machine will load invariant class meta data and compile it for your platform (G3, G4, or G5 specific code). This is loaded into memory at a specific location in physical memory. This is because it's like a dynamically loaded shared library, like just about all of Mac OS X. These dynamically loaded shared libraries all load into a specific location in memory on demand. It's loaded into a known address. After installing Mac OS X software, you'll sometimes see a install phase that mentions it is updating pre-binding. In the non-pre-bound case, when an application calls into a dynamically loaded shared library, it will look up the pointer to a function each time and cache the location for subsequent calls in the lifetime of that application. This makes things slightly slower for the lookup, both the initial one, and even each subsequent one when it loads it from the cache. However in the aggregate it is much quicker than an unknown cold lookup each time. The architecture of Mac OS X up to Panther (this actually changed in one of the Panther dot releases, but pre-binding is still used) will pre-bind libraries and applications that indicate they are pre-bound. What occurs during pre-binding is that all of the dynamic function lookups in all the libraries and applications are resolved at that time instead of runtime and the real pointer to real memory is written into the binary. This way there is no dynamic look up at runtime, thus making the application faster at runtime. The reason that pre-binding needs to be re-run each time the parts of Mac OS X are updated is that some pre-bound libraries may have changed in size. If one in the 'middle' changes in size, all the libraries above (or below, depending on how you look at things) will have to shift location by that new size. So all of the pre-bound pointers into all of those shifted libraries have changed memory locations and need to be updated. Now in Tiger I understand that the dynamic loader has been made so much faster and smarter that pre-binding is no longer an issue. But I'm certain that some people will 'miss' this. It's become one of the rituals you read about on the web for 'fixing' Mac OS X. Another one of these is 'repairing permissions' or 'zapping the PRAM'. There will unfortunately always be voodoo in the computer world. Once someone says something has fixed a problem for them, others want and need to believe it. I think they are still intimidated by computers and are grasping at straws to try to make rules for a world they don't fully understand.
The Paul Maliszewski referenced in this story has written for The Baffler for years. He specializes in writing absurdities to people who believe him. I wonder if this is yet another misunderstood missive?
Hopefully that New York Times link won't rot as time goes on. I found a web page that hopefully generates permanent links to their web site. These links will also permit non-registered readers to view those pages. I've just updated all of my New York Times links, and I could see everything I linked to. Excellent. #
If you go to Software Update on Mac OS X now, you'll see that Apple has provided a fix to the java in Mac OS X 10.3.9 problem. I'm glad they were able to provide a simple solution to the problem so quickly. If you go the the explanatory web site about the software update, you'll see Apple actually provides some details about what the problem was. The readers of my last entry will be familiar with the problem.
Have you noticed now that Mac OS X Tiger has been announced, Microsoft is beefing up their ad campaign about the stale Windows XP, and that their main Windows executive is schlepping around previews of their next OS to reporters? I'm pretty surprised that Apple's small market share concerns them so much. It's probably all of the cool new features Apple will be providing (remember those when you read about Microsoft touting them in 2 years). In the Apple share holders meeting the other day, Steve Jobs (of course) said it best, "They can't even copy fast."
Lastly, I found a nice long interview with Neal Stephenson. He's the author of the last three fiction books I've been reading. The three are called "The Baroque Cycle", and total about 2500 pages. I have about 300 to go. #
So yesterday was the date that I saw my first show, Van Halen, in 1986. What does this mean? Two things: it's 20 years since David Lee Roth was their frontman (I saw the first Sammy Hagar tour), and that I'm old and I rock.
Otherwise I've felt myself in a playing video games mood (which happens about every 2 years). I bought Katamari Damacy, which is a wonderful, unique and playful idea for a video game. My description can do it no justice; check out the web site and then come on over to play the game. It has a two player mode. #
So I decided to cover this here, rather than in the review of the Gang Of Four show. They are the third reunion show I've seen in the last year. First I saw Pixies, then Slint, and now Gang Of Four. I'd seen Pixies when they were around the first time. Thinking about it now, without reading my review again, it was more of a novel nostalgia experience for me than anything else. I enjoyed it. With Slint, right now I remember liking to see how well and even how the band would do their songs. It now seems like I was wondering how they'd handle their delicate perfect songs. With Gang Of Four, I frankly only got turned onto them in the last couple years. A good portion of their set I didn't even know. But they were there to put on a rock show. No doubt about it. They weren't interested in their legacy; they wanted to rock hard. Along the way, they cemented their legacy in my mind. So I wonder what the next reunion show I see will be? It's interesting about these reunions. They've catered to such small audience that they can come back in a small form and totally affect those who really care. Pretty interesting.
I've installed Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger onto my PowerBook. It's been working nicely; it's much faster on the same hardware. It's funny; while working there, it was usually hard to tell if it was faster or not by feel. This is because you install a new revision of the operating system every few days. And usually, performance improvements aren't dramatic increases. They are slow in coming. So you wouldn't even notice when things speed up (or slow down). Before I had left Apple, I had done work for Tiger, and now that work has shipped. I had started the work to make java AWT have much more reliable behavior in edge cases that also just winds up making the whole thing work better. There was always one developer in particular who would focus upon these nit picking really hard to fix bugs. They all had an obscure root cause I had found, and the java team at Apple finished fixing it for Tiger. The other feature I worked on for Tiger was java 1.5 support. I was the first to get the jdk compiling on Mac OS X. So there's nothing coming down the pipe from Apple that I know anything about before anyone else anymore. But that's fun, I can be excited along with everyone else.
While biking from Golden Gate park to Hunters Point Naval Base a few weeks ago, we zipped through the Potrero Hill area of San Francisco and saw this $235K Lamborghini wrapped around a light post. Thankfully Aram took that picture. The police there said the driver was OK, and looked like he could afford a few more cars if he wanted. The area this happened in isn't too populated on the weekends, and the guy probably figured he could push it, and failed miserably and expensively.
I was happy to see that www.sfgate.com has an RSS feed. Now I do all my web surfing via RSS feeds.
I'm going to Austin, TX this weekend. My friends Ginger and Dan are getting married. I'll also get to see Marc & Ellen's daughter Lucy for the first time. I hope to get some swimming and BBQ in as well. #
I had a fun time in Austin. I'll put up some pictures soon. The weather wasn't really what I had expected. It was mild and cloudy. There was a great thunderstorm during Ginger & Dan's wedding. I got to see Lucy, and my friends Jon & Kim are pregnant for the first time after being together since 1988! Everyone there has nice houses with nice yards. I was a little jealous of the nice yards, but then I reminded myself that it should have been about 95 degrees and hotter than hell, and the yards may be less appealing then.
On my flight out there, I wound up sitting next to a really big guy. He had to lift the armrest to fit in the seat, and he asked for a seat belt extension. When he asked for an extension from the stewardess, the 6 and half foot guy that I saw sit behind us asked out loud, "What's an extension?" The woman with him answered under her breath, "It extends the seat belt so that it can fit around..." At the same time, the really big guy next to me says loudly, "It's because I'm fat, and the seat belt doesn't fit around my fat body!" This is well, unsettling social behavior. The tall guy perfectly diffused the situation by saying, "Oh! When I heard extension I thought it might be for more leg room!" Everyone laughed wildly.
I went to an engineering open house at Google last week. They had free tequila (it was Cinco de Mayo), beer, and food. They had some technical talks that included a fair amount of hand-waving. They were quite interesting hand-waves, however. The founders spoke to us quite a bit about compensation, and what their goals are in running Google. It sure would be an interesting place to work. However I still think it appeals more to someone fresh in the work world. With my 10 years (!) experience, I don't know if I could deal with the 25 year old multi-millionaire in the next cube. I also won an iPod as a door prize. #
So I ran the Bay To Breakers yesterday. I completed the race in about 1 hour 30 minutes. I thought that by biking more I'd be OK during the race. My stamina was fine, but my legs were not used to running. By the last mile, I was really looking forward to the end. The nice thing is that I'm certain my stamina was better than in my previous runs.
After the race I went to a fun party on the race route. The race's end had finally passed at about noon or so. The party was just about around the half way point of the race, and I had finished the whole thing about 2 hours before that, and they still had the whole race to go. But these people didn't mind. They were a part of the roving party that is what Bay To Breakers is to many people. I had no idea it lasted so long.
A notable thing happened at the party. I'm going to keep this short and sweet, just the facts. A guy hit me in the head with a bottle. He ran away, and the police found him, and there were several witnesses. I bled quite a bit, and the wound required seven stitches. Suffice to say, I and my friends are all surprised by this. #
I went to see The Flaming Lips documentary "The Fearless Freaks" tonight. The singer Wayne Coyne was there afterwards to answer questions and sign the DVDs along with the filmmaker Bradley Beesley. I can't remember if someone suggested it or if I thought of it myself, but I took the picture I had taken of myself bleeding and I printed it out. I had Wayne sign it. It says "Hey Greg- Nice Head Wound Love, Wayne" He also enjoyed my story, and really liked the positive attitude I had about it by bringing the picture there, and telling the story. He's such a really nice person in person. Afterwards Aram and I talked to their manager, Scott Booker, and I asked him if he remembered my friend Pari Ghorbani from Warner Brothers, and he remembered her.
I decided to go home then, since I found that getting enough sleep is good for my head wound. Aram was going to go to some show he heard about after the film. It's a crappy drizzly night. I know it's dangerous, but I quite often ride through red lights on my bike. So do about 80% of the bikers you see in town. I was doing it on the way home, especially since it was so crappy out. I'm slowly going through Market & Gough, and suddenly my front tire is perpendicularly grazing across the front fender and door of a moving car! It didn't even knock me over, and it felt like it was in slow motion. Utterly surprisingly, nothing happened to me, the bike, nor the car. I brushed death. Along with the head bashing on Sunday, this is the week of being closer to death than usual for me. So I was really thinking I need to take lyrics to The Flaming Lips "Do You Realize?" to mind.
On this note, I call Aram to tell him about my brush with death. And believe it or not he's getting a ride to the club with the filmmaker and other interesting folks. Total proof that you make interesting choices every day of the week. I made a choice that got me soaked, almost hit by a car, and home by 11 PM, and Aram is hanging out with interesting folks. When I first wrote this last night, I was under the impression that he was hanging out with Wayne. #
This morning I got up and soon thereafter I got a call from Alexandra suggesting we go get a bite at The Tartine Bakery. I've been told of this place for years, but I still hadn't made it there yet. And, get this, it is about a 5 minute walk from my house. Yum! The pastry and coffee were delicious, and we sat outside on the sidewalk and were treated to the sites of the most attractive people getting coffee and cakes on a sunny day.
So I got my stitches out on Friday afternoon. My head wound is looking better. Sometime my head feels numb above the wound, all of the way up to the crown. I'd now like to point out that I'm afraid I've been a numbskull for some of the last week.
I found this website with subversive anti fascist ribbon magnets. I guess the idea is that you'd swap these out for the real thing on cars that you find with ribbon magnets. It also contains notable information, such as the fact that magnetic sheets of paper have a tendency to stick together!
I saw a recent commercial for a huge sugared water marketer and manufacturer with a group of subversives going out in America to film what real kids are doing. There are several variants of this advertisement I've seen. There was a long one before the latest Star Wars installment I saw on Thursday. These kids make it to a line of people waiting to get onto a singing competition on television. Hmm, wonder what that is supposed to reference? So they find a beautiful black woman playing an acoustic guitar who sings a few lines. Then it cuts to a red curtain hanging in what appears to be a parking lot. There's a microphone standing in front of it. One of our intrepid traveling documentarians is trying to get up to it, but is being somehow blocked by some man. After a few quick cuts, we see that he gets to the mic, and while someone it pulling away, he says in his best skater boi voice, "punk rock's not dead!"
This is an interesting article about energy consumption in a data center. If you walk behind many big Sun servers in a data center, it's hot. And you are in a room that feels like a large walk in refrigerator. The costs of cooling the machines is now one of the big hurdles in enterprise level computing. Thankfully, Azul's boxes address this issue. It's a real issue that even Google runs into. For Google, a more significant bottleneck in their process is the amount of power and money it takes to run a server, NOT the amount of data that the server can process in a millisecond. This is most likely since Google's infrastructure is based on many servers, with strong software. They run so much in parallel, that the performance of an individual machine isn't as crucial. Their latency would most likely be found in network I/O rather than individual processing speed. You can see from a paper Google published that describes how their process works that all processing is split up across many computers. Sometimes in rumors you read that Google has nearly a quarter million computers (250,000). It seems they need to process so much data that it's done best while 250,000 computers are doing it. The speed of the individual computer is insignificant, when the program is written to solve a problem while running in parallel. #
There was an interesting article on The New York Times today. The basic premise is that the decoding of genome allows us to be able to determine genetic defects. These genetic defects will inevitably be determined to be pre-existing conditions by the private insurance companies. But due to nature, most likely a large proportion of the U.S population will have pre-existing conditions and will not be deemed insurable. This will cause problems. Therefore a solution is to aggregate this large proportion's health liability via a national insurance program. It's an interesting read.
I just right now saw the most incredible PBS documentary about Patty Hearst and the SLA. I was too young when this happened to know anything about it. Then I only knew about it through anecdotal jokes. But it was crazy. As I'm sure you know, she was kidnapped, and after about 100 days, became a member of the SLA. But before this her father conceded to the kidnappers demands and gave away $6 million of free food in the Bay Area! There were then riots, and he was criticized by the media and then her for botching up giving away free food! Then she robbed a bank, where it was caught on a famous video. Then they went to Los Angeles, and half of the gang (but not dear Patty) was killed live on TV. Then most of the rest were caught back in San Francisco, at 625 Morse St. Patty Hearst was sentenced to 7 years in prison, and President Carter commuted her sentence. Then in early 2001 she was pardoned by President Clinton. Then after 9/11, the last SLA fugitive was caught, and the remaining four were charged with a murder that happened during a bank robbery. The irony is that the SLA kidnapped Patty, and she joined her cause to fight the rich corporate types. Everyone in the SLA but Patty is either dead or in jail. Do you think any of them could have obtained a commutation or a pardon? In the documentary, they play the real SLA tapes. I had no idea that John Waters' "Pink Flamingos" influenced the SLA so much. It was uncanny to me how much the SLA tapes sounded like the movie, which actually came out before the kidnapping. #
I've finally finished Neal Stephenson's epic "The Baroque Cycle." It's a three volume 2700 page novel about the late 1600s and early 1700s. It traveled from Boston, England, France, Germany, Turkey, Algiers, Cairo, southern India, Japan, the Philippines, Mexico (aka Nuevo Spain) and Spain. It's about money, the enlightenment, alchemy, the fight about calculous between Newton & Leibniz, the start of 'credit', gold and the gold standard, and the succession of the monarchy in England, and counterfeiting. I loved it, but I'm ready to read something new!
I'm clearing out some links I've wanted to put up on my site for awhile. I can't recall where I first found about this site. It provides quite a sobering look at things that are happening lately. This series of quotations about Uzbekistan is the type of style that struck me the first time I read it.
So the administration is gung-ho on eviscerating government provided, expert guided, social security for all. They want to replace it with private accounts, where everyone can take advantage of the benefits of the stock market, instead of being taken advantage of by government. Despite this being what caused Social Security to come into being in the first place, many people are mistaken and actually believe that the purpose of the stock market is to make stock prices rise. That's what the sharks hope the suckers think. I am so ashamed of my country. #
I have a backup script on my PowerBook. While I'm at work every weekday it will back up to my network drive at work. Then once every week, it will copy the previous week's archive back to my PowerBook and send me an email reminding me to burn the archive to CD. The size of my backup has always stayed below the size of one CD, but recently (perhaps due to Tiger?) it has become bigger than one CD. Sure, I could burn it to a DVD, but I already have lots of blank CDs. I knew there had to be a way to break up the archive files so that I could split it across several CDs. My archive files are using Apple's .dmg format. My backup scripts use the commmand line tool
hdiutil to create the archives. They can also be created from the GUI tool Disk Utility. I usually use that tool to burn my CDs. The GUI tool has no way of segmenting the archives, but the command line tool does. However, when I'd try to burn the segmented archive parts to CD, it would still indicate that the CD wasn't big enough to hold all of the data. This was frustrating. Eventually I tried moving the two segments into separate directories. In normal usage, I knew that if I opened one of the segments, it acted like it wasn't segmented; the segmentation is handled transparently. It seems this was also automatically happening when I'd try to burn only one of the segments; to the burner it looked like one big archive again! When I tried to burn the separated into directories segments, the burner wouldn't proceed because it couldn't find the additional segment! This made me even more frustrated. It's too big, and when I use the provided software to try to split it up, it refuses to accept the separated segments for burning! Ugh. So I worked around this by archiving up the unique directories that contain the individual segments. This way the tool just treated the segment as a file in a directory instead of trying to find its other segments. What a hassle! #
I took a late CalTrain back today; I got home about 10 PM. So I treated myself to a cold beer for the ride up. I didn't have a bottle opener for me, and I had a hell of a time opening the damn bottle. I ripped up my knuckles pretty nasty. So I've added a new tool to the toolset I carry with me for bike emergencies; a bottle opener!
This morning here was an interesting article about discontinuing the manufacture and processing of Kodachrome Super 8 film. The quote that struck me was right at the end, "When people started using synthesizers, we didn't throw out our pianos." I'm pretty much fully living in the digital age. I have a stack of old photos I want to scan into my computer. I've ripped a miniscule portion of my vinyl to mp3. I can't wait to get them all digitized. But I wouldn't give up the originals at all. There's still something nice about having them, to touch and look at. Making sure all of your digital life is backed up is a big hassle and worry. My grandfather wants to convert his 50 years of Super 8 and SVHS video to digital. But it is all so expensive; either in time and / or money. I found a link to some products that purport to assist converting Super 8 to a DV stream. This would be really fun, and so time consuming!
I've been reading "Revolution in the Valley" by Andy Hertzfeld. He was on the original Macintosh team. It's a book about the bring up of the Macintosh hardware and software, as written by him and some of the other engineers behind it. So it's interesting to have the engineer's perspective on things. It's also interesting to see how the guys on the original Mac team invented the way that I see nearly all of my coworkers over the years work, act, have fun, and think. Either that or they and my coworkers are all cut from the same stereotypical mold. I really like how much the team really felt that what they were doing was important. It would be great to be able to have this feeling about your work at all times. For me it has also ebbed and flowed. It really isn't that easy to keep up the energy and the pace! Since I've been a Mac programmer for nearly all of my professional life, you keep the Mac folklore in mind. I think one thing that my coworkers would say about me over the years is that I have been quite stubborn about doing things the right way. I like to think this is my Mac aesthetic showing through.
When I was in high school, maybe my junior year, I went to the Amnesty International club after school a few times. I know the club's existence is probably due to U2, and my joining was due to a cute girl named Beth. But I digress. I remember really being against torture (go ahead and call me an idealistic 16 year old). I also recall how it was clear that Amnesty International groups could only criticize countries other than the one you lived in. I agree with the high moral stance of this group, which I truly believed was the same ideal of the United States. The fact that we couldn't criticize the U.S. made sense to me, especially since I believed there was little to criticize. The current administration has turned this on its head. It's utterly horrific how they are twisting legal definitions to allow my country bring itself to pathetic new lows. President Bush says those who wrote the report condemning the U.S. human rights record "hate America." I do not hate America, and I agree with the report and most all of the other reports that have come out about this matter. I believe the acts of this administration will harm the U.S. for many years to come. The U.S. can no longer take a higher moral ground. The line has been crossed, and the problem isn't fixable. I truly believe one learns by example, and the U.S. has been setting a record number of bad examples lately. I am so ashamed of my country. #
Sometimes you wonder what your cat does when you are away from the house all day. I'm not. I'm certain Chip sleeps following the sunny parts of the house all day. In the morning the sun only comes into my place via the skylights, so he sits there. Later in the morning it will come through the sliding glass door. The middle of the afternoon is best because the sun can shine right through the front windows.
I've now put up recent pictures from Austin when I visited for Ginger & Dan's wedding. I've also posted the pictures I took during Bay To Breakers. I'm going to save the most striking photo of that day (the one with my bloody head) for when that ordeal is over. Lastly, Aram decided to make a Potato Gun yesterday. #
It looks like Apple's World Wide Developer Conference will be interesting tomorrow. The Apple web sphere is wild with reports that Apple may switch to Intel processors. I'm going to miss the excitement, no matter what pans out, which bothers me a little bit. WWDC has been a yearly milestone of my Mac programming career since about 1996. When I was at Metrowerks, I did a presentation in the big room in front of more people than I've ever spoke to at once. The tools I was demonstrating (the Java RAD [Rapid Application Development] tools) have since been unceremoniously cancelled by Metrowerks. I'd always happily work the Metrowerks booth, answering developer's questions as an official Metrowerks engineer. It was fun because you would wind up feeling like a rock-star. People would come up who would recognize my name from Apple Java mailing lists. I think these types of interactions may be how I wound up getting the job offer from Apple. It was also fun to come visit the Bay Area whenever I got the chance. Once I was on the java team at Apple, we'd be cramming to get the next developer release ready for WWDC, and work on presentations about it at the same time. I've been to other developer conferences, like Sun's JavaOne, but WWDC is heads and shoulders above the rest. The presenters are required to attend a week's worth of speaker training. There is nothing worse than spending time in a technical presentation by an engineer who has the speaking skills of a troll. I've found Apple's (and I know I sound biased, but you can ask anyone in the know) to be the most professional and informative 'presos' I've attended. They were so good last year at WWDC that I wound up wanting to change what I was doing!
I only have once comment about the Apple Intel rumor. "If they actually do that, I will be surprised, amazed and concerned," said Insight 64 analyst Nathan Brookwood. "I don't know that Apple's market share can survive another architecture shift. Every time they do this, they lose more customers" and more software partners, he said. This guy is an idiot. For the non Macintosh historians, Apple had switched from using Motorola's 68040 to using PowerPC 601 about 10 years ago. I believe this is what he's referring to. I'd like to know what this 'analyst' thinks Apple should have done then, should they have stayed with the 68K (as it's known), which was a dead architecture that wasn't keeping up with what Apple demanded of their hardware? Saying the changing of the chip is what affected Apple's changing market share is disingenuous, to say the least. The changing of the chip was the least of Apple's problems, and frankly it probably helped them out! They proved to others and themselves that they could dramatically change computer architectures through smarts and emulation and that 3rd party developers and then customers would follow. It also allowed Apple to toss all sorts of the legacy stuff in the Mac OS and look towards the future in their design. This is how Apple knew they could pull off Mac OS X. This is why Apple absolutely is an innovator, and many other companies just seem to pale in comparison. #
I wrote the following before any official Apple announcement. After this change the only upset people should be PowerPC compiler writers and direct assembly writers. For the typical Mac OS user and developer, nothing should change. This shows once again why using the Apple supported development toolset has always been the correct move. The Metrowerks customer is even further out in the cold now. Mac OS X on Intel behaves exactly the same way as Mac OS X on PowerPC. This is why it's so wonderful. It's been working for years; while at Apple I personally used a version of Mac OS X on Intel since the Jaguar release. The PowerPC and Intel versions of Mac OS X have been built in tandem since I started at Apple. What's nice is that this finally levels the playing field. Mac OS X can compete against Microsoft while running on the same hardware. Apple gets a partner in Intel, who is interested in and focusing on selling more PCs. A problem with PowerPC is that the chip suppliers were focused on many other things besides delivering CPUs. I believe (without ever looking at its source code) that WINE could be brought up on Mac OS X on Intel without too much trouble. WINE is an open source program that runs Windows programs under Linux. My professional guess is that most of the lower level stuff would be straight UNIX code that would also work on Mac OS X. With a little work, the user interface could be brought up under X11 running on Mac OS X. With some more work, perhaps the user interface could be done using the Mac OS X Aqua interface. This would provide a way for the user who is hesitant to switch because of a crucial application or two hasn't been ported to Mac OS X. I have been surprised over the weekend that I haven't read too much about people worrying about how they will run their existing PowerPC 3rd party applications on Intel. Maybe this is because Apple has successfully done the emulation trick twice; once for running old 68K applications on PPC, and again for running classic Macintosh applications in Mac OS X. I think it's reasonable to believe that Apple is doing this because the notebook segment is where the growth in computer sales is. However their PowerPC manufacturing partners haven't been able to provide fast enough chips that can run in the notebook form factor. Intel has been able to provide this to their customers. I also assume that Apple will be an all 64-bit Intel OS all of the time. They also now have two potential chip suppliers who are both competing strongly. The rate of multi core chip introduction and 64 bit support in the Intel space has been impressive recently. I'd like to think that Steve Jobs will do the entire Keynote Presentation without mentioning it until the end. Then he'll say "One more thing. The entire presentation you saw today, all of the demos, even Adobe's, and the Keynote program that is running the slides were running on Intel. Apple creates and innovates with the best software and hardware. The problem has been that not all of our parters have been able to keep up all of the time. Fortunately the talented engineers at Apple haven't been hampered by that, and now neither will you. When you leave today, you'll get Tiger Intel Preview. Go home, try it out, and bring your application up on it, and I'm sure you'll be as happy as we at Apple are with this. Thanks." Now I have some pure idle speculation on this. Intel is upset that Microsoft went to IBM for the next generation XBox. Microsoft is already positioning the new XBox as a digital hub that will play games, get HD broadband movies, and be the overall digital hub in the living room. Intel wants that business. Apple is upset that IBM is paying so much attention to Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. They will all be using PowerPC variants, and at faster speeds than Apple is currently able to use or obtain. Apple has already been successful in bringing digital music over the Internet to people in a fashion amenable to the music industry. It wants to do the same with movies. Steve Jobs is also the CEO of Pixar, a wildly successful movie company who has just had a very public divorce with Disney for their distribution. There has been no new distributor picked up for Pixar films. How about if Pixar distributes it's first movie without Disney itself using QuickTime and HD (via the pretty H.264 codec)? The movie would be played using Mac OS X Intel boxes projecting in movie theaters. Then wouldn't it be interesting if Apple and Intel teamed up their marketing teams to sell a box running Mac OS X on Intel chips that has an amazing movie download and viewing store? "As seen in the theatre with the last Pixar release." Pixar and Apple would be historic in breaking down the movie studio system. Also, do you think there is any way in hell Steve Jobs will allow and "Intel Inside" sticker on a Mac?
Now that I've read the coverage of the event (and even watched the event via QuickTime) it looks like I was pretty close in guessing how Steve Jobs would announce it! Oh in old my entry about the original release of Tiger I said I didn't know about anything else in the Apple pipeline. Obviously I knew about this, but I had no idea if it would ever ship! It was kept extra secret at Apple. In fact, I had to sign an extra non disclosure form about it, despite non disclosure being a part of my employment agreement. The articles about the the news have been good. A nice thing is that Mac OS X Intel won't have to work on every damn hand built PC out there. That would be a support nightmare. I'm certain that some freaks will complain about this, but when Apple controls the hardware, they control the experience. The control of the experience allows them to provide simplicity and that 'it just works' factor that seems to be lacking in other platforms. It's great that Apple will have developer kit computers for Intel in just two weeks, and that the PowerPC based Intel targeting tools are already available for download. I'm telling you, Mac OS X on Intel totally works, and has for some time. I had fixed java AWT bugs for java 1.4.2 using the Intel build of Mac OS X over a year ago! Most programs do not need to delve down and 'know' what processor or hardware they are running on. And for the few that do, they will have been designed (if they are well written) to know when they are doing this. This way the programmer can handle it cleanly. How do you think all of Linux works on Intel, PowerPC, Sparc and other chips? As for the big 3rd party developers (Adobe, Microsoft, Macromedia, etc) their core code is already cross platform. If their code bases are in good shape, I would suspect that Apple's change will be little work for them. The only issue that comes up is if they are not already using Xcode, they will have to convert to using XCode to support Mac OS X Intel. It's been confirmed; Metrowerks will not support Mac OS X Intel. Seriously, any Metrowerks user that didn't see the day coming where their tools don't provide what they need to support new directions in Mac OS X hasn't even attempted to do 64-bit G5 work. They haven't been thinking too hard either. I guess this also means the end of PEF/CFM applications. Since XCode doesn't build PEF/CFM, I assume PEF/CFM won't be on Intel. As I've said on usenet countless times, Mach-O is the way to go. I have to also point out that the Intel project was so secret that I never really heard a managerial or marketing 'pitch' about it. As a software engineer at Apple, it was just a cool challenge to see that the code I wrote for Mac OS X worked great on a completely different architecture. It was also fun to wonder and talk (with disclosed people) about what the heck Apple would do with this kick ass OS that can be ported so damn easily. These are exciting times. If I know developers, I think most Mac OS X developers think so too. I think that many developers and people commenting out on the web are simply scared of this change. It really isn't that hard to do this. This is because the excellent team at Apple has been pulling this off for years. This isn't something new except outside of Apple. I'm really looking forward to the cool things Apple will be providing for developers and customers. #
I've made a couple tweaks to the program that makes my web site. First off, it displays the processor architecture in the 'Generator' meta tag in the
HTML headers. This is very important, as then you'll be able to know what kind of Mac OS X machine I'm running on. I've also added the RSS Item Author tag to my RSS feed. I did this because Safari RSS will show it, and I missed seeing my name in yet another fashion. I've also fixed a bug. You can't tell, but until now the page for shows I saw in 1986 wasn't generated since about January 2005. How this bug escaped me is a mystery. How I noticed is a conundrum. Nevertheless it happened because I saw a show in April 1986, and the next show I saw was in April 1987. Because the months were the same, my program messed up. It didn't 'know' to start creating a new page.
The woman from So So Many White White Tigers sent me an email correcting my recent review of The Coachwhips. She wanted me to know that she doesn't wear 'faux fur', only real furs. I welcome all corrections, and thank you for your time. #
My friend Graham Stewart recently posted twice about how George Lucas has had a sustained vision of Star Wars for 28 years, thus making him a great artist. I always enjoy Graham's supremely unique take on the world.
Today I was listening to Zen Arcade. Whenever I hear the song "Masochism World", I think about the cassette tape Kevin made me years ago. It had a recording of a big skip that happens right at one of the great air guitar moments in the song. I like to think of Kev jumping around his house while that was being taped, most likely with a cigarette hanging out of this mouth. (Side note, my program is at its wits end. I can't enter Husker Du with the umlauts in place in these comments. Bummer.)
I rode my bike to my dentist appointment on Friday morning. On the way back, it suddenly sounds like my bike was caught up in a plastic bag. But as I slowed down to pull over I realized I had a blow out. I picked at the tire for a bit to get the glass pebble out and it stopped hissing. I was able to make it the rest of the way home on my bike. I then patched up the rear inner tube and I replaced the tire with my last blue one as well since the tube was poking out of one of the many cuts in the tire. Then I rode my bike to lunch to meet Aram. Just as I got to Fritj, I had a big blow out on my front tire! It was immediately flat. I hadn't brought my bag with my patch kit to lunch, so I had to walk the bike all of the way home. This blowout was bad enough that some of the inner tube was missing. The front tire and about a quarter inch cut in it which the new tube found and filled quickly. I was now out of spare tires so I used the dollar bill trick to get over the Valencia Cyclery to get cool blue and black striped tires. Then I read that Salim had the same type of day. Who knew that it was Flat-Tire Friday?
Tim Bray has written about multiple core chips before, and has an interesting read today. He works for Sun, so he has a Sun-centric view on the industry. The Azul Vega chip is already shipping, and has 24 cores per chip vs. 8 cores per chip of the not yet shipping Niagara chip. Besides this nit picking on my part, the article provides good and valuable insight to what will be the next fun stuff in computing. The thing is that you can get it today with Azul! #
Ugh. I rushed to catch the Baby Bullet this morning and I realized that I had a flat tire again! The new tires I got are tighter on my rims. It takes a hell of a lot more muscle to get them on than the previous tires. Then once I got the brand new tube pumped up (I didn't patch the old one to save time) I proceeded to somehow break of the damn Presta valve tip. I missed the Baby Bullet this morning.
Awhile ago I found out that the New York Public Library has digital scans of so many wonderful pieces of art online. Since libraries already lend out records, CDs, and DVDs, I wonder how long until I can check those items out online? #
Something on my mind is the lack of imagination on the part of the U.S. government and corporations about what to do about oil. The U.S. depends upon oil so much that it has gotten into more than one war over it. In addition, its unchecked use certainly seems to be damaging the environment. Meanwhile our wise business and government leaders continue to sell and not regulate oil guzzling machines that are bad for our economy, bad for our environment, and bad for our security. This will affect our freedom and liberty. Our president and his administration are neglecting our freedom and liberty. And as if this were not enough, the U.S. is so dependent upon oil that if anything were to interrupt this supply, once again our freedom and liberty would be at risk. And there are other large developing countries who are clamoring for the same oil resources, thus risking our dependent supply, which can also risk our freedom and liberty. I don't know the solutions to these problems. I'm a computer programmer. But I haven't bought gasoline for my car since sometime in April. I've driven it twice since mid-May. There's only so much I can do alone. There's a list of links about 'peak oil' on Boing Boing, and Salim sent along a nice angry rant today by one of the authors mentioned on Boing Boing. Yes, I'm looking towards a site called Boing Boing for solutions! #
My CalTrain broke down in the California Avenue station this morning. We had to meet up with the train behind us. I got some pictures as the engine behind us coupled with the bike car. The headlight of the engine behind us was so bright that I could feel its heat from within the car in front of it! I was about 3 to 4 feet away from it and through the glass window of the door.
About two months ago there was a long article in the New York Time Magazine about how there are a group of people who actually believe that most of the New Deal is unconstitutional. The lengths that the current administration and their allies are going to discredit every good value of my country is simply astonishing. I really just have to think that they are hoping that they can grab as much as they can now, and when the inevitable defeats come they hope to come out ahead in the end. #
Believe it or not, but the recent television commercial for a burger joint with a certain billionaire heiress dancing around a car in a thong has none other than the wonderful Eleni Mandell singing "I Love Paris"! Will wonders ever cease?
There was also a ridiculous article in the New York Times Magazine about 2 weeks ago that generated some discussion in the office. The premise of the article is that everyone in Silicon Valley are multi-millionaires who do nothing but found wildly successful businesses and drive very expensive cars. This was absurd to the point of comedy. #
So every time I listen to The Arcade Fire I am blown away by how amazing this record is. It's the kind of music that if I were to make it, the first time I heard myself and my band play these songs I'd look at them all and say "Holy shit! That was incredible!"
Today Salim filed a feature request of sorts. When viewing the
HTML pages of my diary entries, there's now a link that gives a permanent link to the entry for those who want to link to my entries directly. RSS users can already get a direct link to the entry via standard RSS means.
On Friday most of my recent ordeal came to a close. The guy who hit me pleaded guilty and got 6 months in prison. The other guy got probation. Both had been in jail since the incident in mid-May. Both had priors, most notably the guy who hit me had a crystal-meth conviction. Both of these guys were 22. They also have to stay away from me for 3 years. A hard part was that the father of the guy who hit me apologized to me. In the end, I'm satisfied that they will have to live with the consequences of their choices, just as I must. #
Somehow I updated this same entry twice (and now three times) in the same day! I guess I didn't sleep too well last night.
A strange thing happened to my PowerBook Sunday. I had been using it, and then I was away from it for about a half hour. This is enough time for the screen saver to kick in and for the PowerBook to go to sleep. I woke it up and then I needed to enter my password. It wouldn't accept my password, and I'm certain I had it correct. I was able to login from another Mac. I killed LoginWindow, so that my session would end. This also causes LoginWindow to restart, which brings you to the LoginWindow. But my password still wasn't accepted! I didn't try restarting it then; I just booted from the Tiger DVD and used the Reset Password Utility. This was super strange.
I never should have written about the Bible late last night. It's a slippery slope I started down. I say this because as an engineer, I can't stand it when things don't follow the rules. That's absolute. But I'm usually working within a closed system of some design. I expect the rules to work, and I mostly know the parameters of how they can fail, and my design could recover gracefully. However the rest of the world wasn't designed, so expecting it to follow every rule laid down is futile. I see science as the continued updating of the rules of the universe along the way, refining them as the inevitable problems are found. Since the universe wasn't designed, it's rules can only be inferred.
Here's more widespread information about how messed up the Bush energy policy is. Man this should be my generation's moon shot. I'm so ashamed of my country.
Now I finally understand why people seriously believe gay marriage means the institution of marriage is 'under attack'. Since some people literally interpret the Bible as saying that homosexuality is bad, this implies that if gay marriage was allowed then part of the Bible would be false. This is a problem for the belief systems of some. Aha, now I understand why I've always had doubts with religion; its absolutism just doesn't work for me. As an engineer, you learn to be able to make the rules 'fault tolerant'. Actually, as an engineer you might believe that fundamentally, things will definitely negate your assumptions! Because of this, I truly think that everyone should be able to deal with things like this. As much as it's hard to deal with, there will always be exceptions to a rule you create. #
I'm old enough to remember the last time flag burning was an issue. I remembering thinking that it was pretty odd; I threw out a copy of the American flag every single day when I was done with my Chicago Tribune. Wouldn't that be an objectionable action? I found a article where the writer points out all sorts of ridiculous ways this amendment would be worthless. I like the idea of retiring a worn out flag in the proper way (via burning) while giving political speech. A nice twist. What are they going to bust you for with that action? Ignore the comments on that page, by the way. Lots of vitriol. Except for one that mentions the flag on the cover of the Chicago Tribune. Go figure! #
We have an oil problem, and these people are publicly admitting they are trying to sell more SUVs, thus wasting more oil. I think there is a special place in hell for these advertisers, especially now that clean and efficient energy is attracting venture capital. If only these advertisers would put their skills into saving the planet, our liberty, and our security instead of destroying it.
Richard Stallman wrote an interesting article on software patents. For those of you not in the know, Stallman founded the Free Software Foundation. Most of my day is spent using software tools Stallman originated or copyrighted by the FSF. His point is that because the patent offices of the world are not staffed by working engineers, they allow patents that are obvious through the system. In this article, I like how he draws an analogy between writing code and writing prose. He points out that things as fundamental as standard plot lines are being patented in the software world. I think that software and even software build systems require a good amount of creativity. In addition, when you see well written creative code you can really appreciate it. There is a creative interaction between the creator and the audience. The size of the creator and the audience in this case is quite small. Just because it's technical and practical doesn't make it any less beautiful. Let's think of it as outsider art.
As a recent example, check out this article about how to properly handle multi-threaded code. In a multi-threaded program, it's as if there is more than one thing going on in your computer at once. I say 'as if' because the majority of us have single CPU boxes. In the cases of Hyper-Threaded Intel CPUs, or Dual G5s, or 48-way Sun boxes there really truly is more than one thing going on at once. In the case of the 384 processor Azul box, there's always a lot going on at once. The multi-threading problem comes in with programs that have one thread reading data, and another one writing data. Suppose that the reader always wants to get accurate data, so that the writer doesn't change the data it's reading while it is using it. They would have to have a scheme to handle this data synchronization, which is calling locking. When one thread has a lock, no other threads can get the lock, and hence the data that the lock protects. This sounds simple, but it hasn't proven to be. Coders have troubles with this all of the time. They forget to add a lock, or they go overboard and add too many locks. The best problem is called 'lock inversion'. This is where you have two locks, and one may wrap the use of another. Lock inversion occurs when the locks are acquired in one order by one thread, and another thread acquires them in the opposite order. There's a chance that the first thread won't be able to get the 2nd lock because the 2nd thread has the 2nd lock, but is waiting to get the 1st lock which is held by the 1st thread. This program is dead locked; nothing is going to happen in those two threads anymore. It requires intense studying of the problem at hand. A fun problem that shows up once you get to having lots of threads going at once is that for awhile your box can handle the load. But as the number of threads running reaches a certain point, the box spends more time managing the threads instead of letting the threads do their work. This is one of the many problems an Azul box solves, as there is so much computing power, it takes quite a bit for an Azul box to start to 'fall over', as we say. Another problem that can also occur is that as your program scales out to many threads running at once, it becomes apparent that there is a portion of your program that doesn't run in a multi-threaded manner. What starts to happen is that all the threads you have running to scale out your program all start to have to wait for this one thread. In effect your program becomes limited again, in that adding more threads doesn't allow it to do more at once.
There's plenty of technical arguments in the software world. There's arguments about algorithms, what computer language you ought to use, what CPU is faster and better, big endian or little endian data. There's even arguments about the way the text representation of the code is formatted! Every day is a battle. It was interesting to read that there's been fallout in the world of my favorite publisher. One of the earliest stars of the McSweeney's web site, Neal Pollack, had published a book as the persona of the greatest writer of all time. A large part of this persona was being obnoxious. He and my fellow Illini Dave Eggers apparently ended their professional relationship, and even did so in a public manner. Neal wrote an article for the New York Times Book Review about the break up, and Dave responded on the web with his side of the story. #
I wonder why these soldiers are never spoken to by the generals who talk to the administration. The military is having troubles recruiting since the current war was started with lies, was executed with too few troops, and continues to be run with lies. The potential recruits see this as a bad deal. The officers see this as a bad deal. This administration's actions are risking our liberty and our security. Our esteemed president said, "To complete the mission, we will prevent Al Qaida and other foreign terrorists from turning Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban: a safe haven from which they could launch attacks on America and our friends." This is patently absurd. If the United States never lied about going to war and went to war in Iraq, the problem the mission still must solve would never had happened. Has there ever been a more incompetent leader?
A friend of mine who I used to work with in Texas, who now lives in Canada and works for Apple (but we didn't work for Apple at the same time) came to town last weekend. Dieter and I hung out, ate good food and drank beer. Once while we were talking, he brought up pollution credits. This is where one can buy credits to continue to pollute. There are a limited number of credits, so this will theoretically reduce pollution. I was completely cynical about it. I'm convinced that this system can be gamed by those with more power. I mean our country went to war with no facts behind it. Look where we're at now. Enron was a successful company in the stock market. Look at where they are now. I have my doubts this can work. I mean people are trading 'use less pollution' cards. There's nothing real about it, and if you pay the fines, well there's still pollution. I'm also disappointed I'm so cynical about it. I used to think I was quite idealistic. Now I just think that everyone with an SUV should have to turn it in immediately. It's wrong, it must end. This is an engineer style look at the world, one that simply can't pass in the real world. #
I went to Chicago over the Fourth of July. I had a full weekend. I got to see lots of old friends from back in the day. I hadn't been there for over a year. That's the longest I've gone without Chicago since I was born. I met some new friends of friends. Even though it's obvious if you think about it, I like that friends of friends mostly seem like the kind of people you'd like to be friends with too. I was also lucky since I brought San Francisco (well, maybe Bay Area) weather with me. The few days before I arrived there were in the upper 90s, a temperature I'm proud to say I'm no longer familiar with. Instead it was pleasant in the mid 70s with a slight breeze!
I got back to San Francisco in the late afternoon after my flight on the Fourth. I rode down to Fisherman's Wharf to see the fireworks over the Bay. The fireworks were fine. One thing that I did notice, however, was that I was slightly uncomfortable in the crowd. I felt a little worried that there were the types of people who would hit me with bottles in the throng.
I found an interesting article about the art of programming. I liked how this tied in nicely with my previous entry about the creativity of programming. It dovetails nicely with a post from Kevin (look at this cool mother fucker) where he relates writing with 'crafting', which I gather is making physical things. Software is like craft in the virtual space, and you get there by writing code.
I just picked up a Nitty Gritty Record Cleaner, so I'll be digging plenty of my old vinyl now. I eventually plan to record all these clean records to CD, and then rip them to my computer for my iPod. My Dad has some great old records (which I currently possess), including the amazing Perez Prado. Huh! Ha! #
My Mom is in Chicago helping my grandparents move. They have lived in their home for 40 years. Therefore my Dad is driving down to San Francisco from Oregon today. I hope to be able to go hiking on Angel Island with him tomorrow.
I can't believe I slept through what happened last night! About a block from my house the biggest fire in San Francisco for a few years was blazing about 2 AM. After riding by on my bicycle this morning, it looks like 4 buildings are damaged, two without any roof anymore. These buildings are dense along this street.
It's pretty funny that this article / advertisement for an automatic pet dish showed up after the 4th of July. When I'm out of town, I use a battery clock driven dish that pops open based upon a mechanical timer. Chip doesn't need me to call him for him to find the food. Apparently he will toss around the automatic dish, knocking out the battery if they aren't taped in. Talk about over-engineered!
I just had to point to an interesting article by an economist who breaks down how our esteemed President's (and, it must be noted, Congress') tax cuts for the ultra-rich do nothing good for the economy. But our President has been a successful business man who works from the gut, so the advice of experts probably isn't too important to him. Much as he took expert's advice on stem cell research, Iraq, evolution, global warming, etc. #
I had a great time when my dad visited. After he got in we went to go see the incredibly intense "War Of The Worlds" (highly recommended). Then we went to dinner at House of Nanking, and we just happened to run into my friends Ted & Alexandra who were also going to dinner there. So we joined each other for dinner and had a nice time. Then we went for a drink or two at Tosca. The next morning, we went to the Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building to have some breakfast and grab some fruit for a hike on Angel Island. We took the early ferry, and we hiked the island for about 5 hours. As you would expect, it has amazing views of the Bay. The Island has housed both military and immigration offices over the last 100 years. Its last function was as a Nike missile site during the Cold War. Apparently they had leveled the top of the mountain at the time to build a radar site, and have since replaced the top. But you can still see gouges in the island that apparently were created to provide site lines from the top to the launch site. They look like giant claw marks. After taking the ferry back and realizing I got too much sun, we went to Vesuvio for a couple of beers. Then Aram called. We decided to meet up for Sushi in the Mission at Minako Organic Sushi. This is surprising because sushi with Aram & Mary has always only meant Wayo on Van Ness. Period. I can now understand why they wanted to switch because the meal we had was simply one of the best I've had. So many new flavors, and the flavors I knew were all better than I've known. The absolute best looking (and tasting) tuna and salmon. Tasty light tempura with a Japanese squash. Hand made tofu. And to top it off, they brought out home made sorbet for everyone at the end of the meal. Everyone was in bliss once they tasted their celery sorbet. A taste you'd never even consider, until you've tasted it. Since this is on one of the most scenic blocks on Mission Street (between 16th and 18th), we got to see about 7 drug deals on the walk home. The next day I showed my Dad how to use my old iPod that I gave him, and he drove back to Oregon. We both had a really good time, and not because of the drug deals.
It's now been over 3 months (that's a quarter year!) since I've bought gasoline for my car. I have Quicken, so I also know that my auto expenses this year are half of what they were this time last year. If I make it to 6 months, I don't know what I'll do. If I can go half a year without a car (or even if there were a couple drives in that period), do I really need to have a car? It's very tempting to think of not having a car. On the other hand I do get a good feeling from the convenience that I have at my disposal. In other words, I like that I don't need it, but I'm content knowing I have the option available. #
With Apple's transition from PowerPC to Intel in full effect, and the lack of Metrowerks response for the last couple of technology developments from Apple, there has been quite a bit of noise on Usenet (particularly comp.sys.mac.programmer.codewarrior) about the transition. As you would expect with Usenet, there's quite a bit of misconceptions out there. I have a unique perspective on the issue; I worked at Metrowerks and Apple, both while the Mac OS X transition was on going.
I started at Metrowerks in July 1996. I was very happy to get a job there. I wanted to be a Mac programmer at a time where things didn't seem too good for the Macintosh market. I had worked at two small multimedia CD-ROM shops that didn't really have a big impact. I knew that if the Mac market was shrinking and I still wanted to be a Mac programmer that I'd have to get some bigger projects under my belt as well as work at a higher profile company. The ultimate in that regard would be to work for Apple. The penultimate would be to work for Metrowerks. Since just about every commercial application for the Mac was created using Metrowerks' tools at that time, everyone who may interview me in the future would know where I had worked and already would be familiar with the product I worked on.
I started working on the java team. CodeWarrior was only hosted on Mac OS at the time. I was placed in a cube outside of Cam's office. Cam was porting the CodeWarrior IDE to Windows using Altura. Altura was a nasty mess that attempted to implement every Mac OS toolbox call on top of the Win32 APIs. This is what gave the early releases of the Metrowerks IDE on Windows UI so many of its quirks.
The development process was unusual when I first got to Metrowerks. I didn't work with the IDE code when I got there, but when I arrived the IDE (and the compilers') source was kept in a .sit file (equivalent to a .zip) file that the engineers passed around to each other. One person would have the blessed archive of the tool set that everyone else would build from. If someone changed a file, they'd have to coordinate to get it into the blessed archive. They didn't use any source control system! I was shocked as I had just come from a two engineer operation where even our smallest of all possible teams used a source control system. Metrowerks wound up solving this problem by eating their own dog food and using the doomed Metrowerks Sourcesafe, licensed from Microsoft. As this soon became absolutely untenable, Metrowerks moved to using CVS. They continued to sell Metrowerks Sourcesafe to unwitting customers after they had switched over internally.
Nevertheless one of the great things about Metrowerks was its looseness. I was the sole engineer on a product called Class Wrangler. I was really happy the first time I got a bug report on Class Wrangler. It was the first piece of software I had worked on that people actually used. In addition, they used it and they actually cared about how it worked! They cared so much that they took the time to file a bug report about the problem. I loved getting bug reports on Class Wrangler. I created the first pass of this product during my two week 'trial period'. When I went to Texas from Chicago the first time, I stayed for 2 weeks in corporate housing (with a rental car) all paid for by Metrowerks. I would also get paid for the 2 weeks. If they decided they liked me, I'd be hired. Otherwise I'd go back to Chicago with my 2 weeks payment for my work. I knew that I could pass the test, but it was still one of the strangest hirings I've heard about.
Meanwhile, CodeWarrior for Palm was going to be released soon. How I had originally heard the inside story was that someone from Palm told Metrowerks that they had already used the Metrowerks Mac OS 68K compiler and then post-processed the result (using MPW) to create a PalmOS application. They were wondering if Metrowerks would be interested in selling this toolset. This product requirement is where the notion of the Post Linker came from. The original Post Linker in the PalmOS tools would take the Mac OS 68K binary and process it into a proper PalmOS executable so that using MPW was not needed. So to the best of my knowledge, Palm came to Metrowerks with the idea of using their tools, not the other way around.
Around this time is where the compilers and debuggers became plugins into the CodeWarrior IDE. For the CodeWarrior old-timers out there, you may remember that there were different IDEs used to build either 68K or PPC. This was a great idea as theoretically any compiler could be plugged into any host IDE since they all shared the same interface to the IDE's build system.
At the same time there were about 4 guys working on CodeWarrior for Be. They had their cool blue BeBoxen with the vertical array of LEDs indicating the CPU load. The Be IDE shared no code with the Mac (or Windows) IDE that I know of. All I ever saw were bouncing balls demos on a BeBox, no applications of substance. I assume the compiler was built on the same code base as the other compilers with a few modifications. Many of these engineers moved on after Be stopped using CodeWarrior (BeOS moved to the GCC compiler and Intel chips from the CodeWarrior compiler and PPC chips, does that sound familiar?).
The Be engineers who stayed at Metrowerks worked with the acquired company of Latitude (which to my knowledge was one person) to port the CodeWarrior IDE to Motif, I don't think it used X11 directly. The UNIX IDE was hosted on Linux and Solaris. From how I understood it, Latitude was like Altura, but with a better implementation. For example, instead of emulating a Mac OS button entirely, there was a real Motif button behind the Mac OS button. This provided a more host platform like experience. The UNIX team (as they were then known) were able to create a standard CodeWarrior API using compiler plugin to the IDE that could run GCC in a separate process from the IDE. They also had a simple Makefile converter that would read simple UNIX makefiles and create an IDE project. I had always suggested these tools would be useful on Mac OS (let alone Mac OS X). I've never understood why they didn't make it there. Since they were just plugins, using the same plugin API, there was no technical reason for it not to work.
I worked at Metrowerks from 1996 until 2000. I never once saw a copy of Copland running in the office. The sole engineer working with Copland was a 'virtual' engineer (an engineer who didn't live in Austin). He had gotten the CodeWarrior debugger (the Debugger was a separate program from the IDE at the time) working on Copland. From my recollection, the IDE just worked (perhaps in emulation?). The engineer liked to joke that the Metrowerks Copland debugger was the only third party application to ever ship for Copland. My take on it then was that Metrowerks was waiting to see if this Copland thing would take off. The Metrowerks' Mac team's regular day to day work wasn't affected by Copland; all the focus was on the currently shipping version of Mac OS.
Metrowerks was one of the original JavaSoft licensees. They created a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) that had a java byte-code interpreter and a JIT compiler for both 68K and PPC Mac OS. Since Microsoft needed to get into the browser business, they had to have a JVM in their browser on Mac OS. They licensed the JVM from Metrowerks, which was able to bring in some cash to the company. In a way Metrowerks was a consulting firm for Microsoft. They were creating a product whose main purpose was to be licensed out. The fact that it allowed Metrowerks to wrap java development tools on Mac OS around it wound up seeming like a bonus. Apple of course wanted to do their own JVM for Mac OS. After awhile Microsoft chose Apple's JVM (called MRJ at the time) for Microsoft Internet Explorer on Mac OS. I wound up covering a lot of the work to get the Metrowerks java tools to work well with MRJ and the Metrowerks JVM. In general MRJ worked differently with 'other' native code than other java JVMs (both on Mac OS and across platforms), so this was a hassle.
In order to better integrate with the Metrowerks IDE, the Metrowerks java compiler was heavily modified. In fact it used some aborted internal-only Metrowerks technology. This technology compiled java code directly to native code at compile-time, not run-time. It also had enough of the surrounding java libraries ported to it that were necessary to support the compiler. Since this code was fairly intricate and the engineers responsible had moved onto other things, the Metrowerks java compiler wasn't updated past version 1.1. Unfortunately once I had left Metrowerks I never got a chance to verify it myself, but I believe they were able to use the Sun java compiler to compile java until the java tools were cancelled.
At this time Metrowerks knew they had to get serious about their Windows hosted tools. They needed to do this to continue to expand their business to grow. Mac tools had a limited market potential. The Windows tools used Altura, and frankly they looked terrible because of it. If Metrowerks was going to sell the IDE and compliers to embedded, game, and Windows developers, something had to be done to improve it. They hired consultants who created PowerPlant for Windows. This was a smart approach; they ported PowerPlant to sit on top of MFC, much like how I believe Latitude worked. This meant that parts of the IDE that were only going to be on Windows could be written with MFC, making life easier for the Windows programmers that Metrowerks had started to hire. As a benefit to the Windows hosted Metrowerks developers, it also made their IDE experience on Windows much better. I'll be the first to say that Windows' user interfaces are usually horrible, but the Metrowerks IDE behavior while running on Windows using the Altura porting library was schizophrenic. The Windows product was much improved by this state of affairs, and the IDE team could still work in their preferred Mac OS and PowerPlant environment.
Since I had become intimate with getting MRJ to work within PowerPlant, I was moved over to the IDE team to help out with the java RAD tools, which had stalled. The general basis of the RAD tools was a technology Microsoft graced the world with called COM. There is no COM implementation built into Mac OS. So this technology had to be implemented from scratch, and the original engineer creating this COM implementation had made many mistakes I had to remedy. This was one of the first times that I can recall that an engineering decision was made that would require more work on Mac OS than Windows. The UNIX IDE's in many ways were just the Mac OS IDE ported onto UNIX via Latitude.
During the dot com boom, the Metrowerks stock price didn't boom. I can distinctly remember (pre-President) David Perkins saying he wished there was some way it could be Metrowerks.com, so the company could see the boom as well. This was before the buyout; he was just a regular management guy at the time.
I saw NeXtStep running on an old PC in the Metrowerks office once the Apple NeXt buyout was announced. I remember that one of the IDE engineers decided he like the look of FileMerge, and copied it for the Metrowerks IDE. In my recollection, it was quite early still. It really wasn't known what Apple or Metrowerks would do about this development. I believe that Metrowerks' management was trying to pitch Latitude to Apple or Metrowerks' Apple customers as a solution for getting the Mac OS Toolbox running on Rhapsody. To the best of my knowledge nothing more came of this, especially once Carbon was announced.
Things were then pretty quiet on the Metrowerks front with respect to Rhapsody. As Rhapsody evolved and PEF and CFM were going to be supported in Mac OS X, Metrowerks seemed to take that level as what they were going to target, seeming (in Metrowerks at least) to leave Mach-O as a perceived legacy format. Metrowerks was banking on what Apple told everyone about Carbon; that with a little porting effort, your application would work fine on Mac OS X. Metrowerks was hoping that this strategy would work for them as well. I think Apple hoped for more effort from Metrowerks, but Metrowerks was quite distracted once Mac OS X got going, for reasons to be explained below.
I didn't know about the Motorola buyout until it was announced. Afterwards some of the employees said they had previously heard rumors. We were told that not too much would change. It was said that Motorola was interested in Metrowerks because they wanted to be able to provide complete software platforms to their customers. With the Metrowerks toolset they'd be able to provide more than reference compilers and would be able to ship along integrated tools and libraries as well. Another goal of the buyout was that Motorola could get all of their own software operations across their entire organization under one umbrella. At first the Motorola software folks moved into the Metrowerks building. After I had left, Metrowerks moved down to the Motorola Parmer location in Austin.
During my last year or two, Metrowerks moved into this boondoggle of a building. It was a concrete warehouse that Metrowerks moved into when it was brand new. Half of the company was in cubicles under 40 foot ceilings with stadium lighting. The other half was behind a 40 foot wall that bisected the building and their offices had 8 foot walls, doors, windows, and no ceiling. So the employees in offices were also blessed with the noise of 40 foot ceilings and the buzz and the glare of stadium lighting. There were also habi-trail like constructions hanging about 20 feet up that ran throughout the building which contained black and yellow cabling (one color for telephone, one color for ethernet). There was also a totally decked out gym, laundry, showers, large screen TV, forklift(!), pool table, ping pong table, and shuffleboard. It was dot-com era extravagance galore. The story went that the CEO's wife was hired to design the building. So nothing could change (no matter how much everyone complained) until Motorola bought Metrowerks out. I think while I was still there they wound up hanging suspended ceilings on some of the offices (at least the ones they converted into meeting rooms).
One thing that was nice about the new building was that it had access passes to get in. So when someone was fired or left Metrowerks (both which happened quite regularly) they would just have to take their access card away. In the previous building there was an access code that had to be entered onto a keypad to enter the building. So when someone was gone, it was usually the receptionist who walked around to each desk to tell everyone the new access code. It felt like a Monty Python sketch. "Bring out your dead!" "The code has changed!"
When I worked for Metrowerks, I had only about 3 years experience. As I took on more responsibilities and met more goals there, getting paid more in accordance to my abilities was actually hard to do. I think I had to ask for a raise, which in my current experience doesn't happen as reviews are regularly scheduled. We also had Metrowerks options, but the stock price had peaked at about $12 when I got there. Therefore my options were always underwater. A part of the Motorola buyout was that they'd pay $6.25 for all outstanding options, even for those below water, but only after a certain amount of time. I believe they did it this way so that they could get employees to stay. When I finally left, at the time Motorola stock was at $150 (pre 3-way split). When I started at Apple it was also $150 (pre 2-way split). The Metrowerks CEO and President were rumored to get double digit millions out of the sale. In all seriousness, I don't think I ever saw the CEO after it was announced. I think I saw the President one more time. I believe they both went into the Motorola portion of the business, and eventually left there without much fanfare. I also had heard rumors that prior to the buyout, Metrowerks was having to work really hard to make payroll. Metrowerks needed to get bought out; they weren't making money with all of the Developer tools they were selling.
Once I got to Apple through skill and luck in March 2000, my eyes were opened. Just about everything new was Mach-O based, and those applications that weren't needed to get there. Nothing on the Mac OS X team was built using CodeWarrior. It was very clear that Apple wasn't focused upon Metrowerks' success. This wasn't out of anger, it was out of survival. The classic Mac OS was not an OS that could bring Apple through the next 20 years. Mac OS X, which it is based upon tried and true UNIX underpinnings, had to be the vehicle to carry the company forward.
When I got to Apple, I wound up doing quite a bit of work with the java build system on Mac OS X. It was an interesting mix of Makefiles and Project Builder projects. While cleaning it up, I realized that java was building FAT. What this meant was that java was building both Intel and PowerPC builds. This was in 2000. I had asked my teammates why, and I was told that the build was just done that way for legacy reasons. The team I was on also had Objective-C runtime work to do, and I can recall an email from just after I got there where one of the engineers removed HPUX parisc and Solaris sparc support from the Objective-C runtime. He didn't remove the Intel support. Externally Apple has since renamed this to be Universal builds, perhaps because in the past the PPC / 68K mix binaries were also known as FAT binaries. Incidentally, the 64-bit support for the G5 is added to the executable much like Intel support is. The Mach-O binary format of the executable file is highly extensible.
A few years later I was extra-disclosed and had to sign a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) on the Intel builds. This is when I learned that the Intel builds didn't just compile and link. They actually ran, and they ran fast! I hadn't seen java run so fast on Mac OS X before, on any hardware. Because using Mac OS X on Intel was such a joy, there was a time that I tried to do all of my work on Intel. I succeeded for a bit, but it was hard. Whenever you used the Mac OS X on Intel machine, you had to close your door and your blinds since not everyone was disclosed. It wasn't always so easy to be shut off from the rest of the team that way.
I was aware of the G5 prior to its release. A part of the java runtime is to compile java byte code on the fly into machine code, so the java complier engineers are always privy to new chips. This is to verify that they don't generate bad code for a new chip, and also so they can add appropriate enhancements and improvements for the code generation for the new chip. Apple engineering works such that everything is on a need to know basis. So as a member of the java AWT team, I didn't need to know about a new chip. At the same time it's clear when your coworker is working behind closed doors most of the time that one knows something must be up. The G5 came along, and with its faster main bus, it was faster than the Intel box I had in my office. When I brought this up to an engineer on the Mac OS X on Intel team, we talked and figured out that my box was already 'old', and didn't have a lot of RAM to boot. He assured me that Mac OS X was still faster on a new Intel box than the G5. Of course, I can write a benchmark to prove just about any point I'd want to make. So at the time Apple said the G5 is faster, and had some tests to prove it. And it was certainly true for those tests. But overall Mac OS X on Intel simply feels zippier. I know that full builds of the entire java software system were much faster on Intel than on PPC. Big software builds really stress the I/O system, so in my experience that is the bottleneck.
One time on an Apple mailing list for a java developer preview (aka pre-release) I let the Intel build leak in a minor and non-obvious way. There unfortunately aren't archives of this list kept by Apple, and I no longer have my copy of the message. I believe I was explaining how to determine what libraries your library needed, or perhaps to determine if your JNI library was pre-bound. This is done with 'otool'. I usually provide options to have 'otool' give lots of data about the library being inspected. This includes its FAT header information. I provided an example in my email, and I was working on my Mac OS X Intel build machine. I copy and pasted the information into my email, and I snipped all of the Intel information. However (and memory escapes me) I had somehow left something funky in there. I believe it may be the dependent libraries are listed twice, once for each architecture. I don't have a Universal Binary to examine at the moment, so I can't be sure. Someone reading the list noticed this oddity, and pointed it out on the list. I was mortified, and I explained it as a copy and paste error. Someone out there with the java-seed archives should be able to find that one.
Metrowerks made several mistakes. They believed that the Apple compatibility story applied equally to all Mac OS applications. As a development tool, they should have taken a lead on new Mac OS technologies instead of remaining in what was now obviously compatibility mode. They also never treated Mac OS X like it was a UNIX platform, despite already having experience with their IDE and compilers on a UNIX platform. If they wanted to remain competitive, they should have allowed executing the gcc compiler as an option in their IDE. In addition, they should have tried to get Apple to better support the Metrowerks command line compilers from within Project Builder / Xcode. It was supported in a way, since Xcode can run any command line tool easily. However I don't believe the compiler options were gcc compatible. Metrowerks also didn't try for any interoperability. They never created a Project Builder / Xcode importer nor a Makefile importer. Unbelievably they already possessed the code to a trivial Makefile importer. They also never handled multithreaded compiling. This didn't allow developers to take advantage of all of the big dual processor machines that had come out in the last 10 years. They should also have had a goal to get the Metrowerks command line compiler to be able to build Darwin (which is all Makefile based and open source) to be able to demonstrate competitively that they created faster code and built faster. In addition, once the G5 was announced, Metrowerks never supported its instruction set nor compiling 64 bit code. I believe that any one of these actions would have demonstrated that they were more engaged with Apple and their third party Apple customers.
My postings to comp.sys.mac.programmer.codewarrior over the last several years have been intended to get Mac developers to think about the gcc compiler and what it provides. In general, compiling your code with more than one compiler is always a good idea. It makes your code more robust. It will also make it easier to bring the same code to another compiler, which is advantageous when you want or need to support additional platforms. It tends to rub off all of the rough edges in your code and in the design of your program. The Metrowerks users who never gave Project Builder / Xcode with gcc a look have now brought more work upon themselves in a shorter amount of time (of course granting that they want to move their code to Mac OS X on Intel). I've also always suggested that the users on csmp.codewarrior try out the Mach-O format. This is because it's the preferred format from Apple. Some there suggested that they not follow everything that Apple suggests, as Apple has historically dropped technologies. I'm not too sure I understand this train of thought, as since you are developing for Apple, you need to keep up in some way with what Apple is doing. If you don't, then you and your code could be left behind. I would also posit that Apple dropping technologies willy nilly may be a thing of the past. Apple is fairly well focused since Mac OS X came out in 2001.
I think what everyone should take away from this great Mac OS programming adventure is to keep up good software engineering practices. Try compiling and linking your code under different compilers. You never know where your code may wind up building and running. You don't know if a different compiler may find problems that you didn't know about. Factor out the odd stuff, for example, where you do something operating system specific in the middle of a bunch of straight standard C or C++ code. Absolutely separate out the user interface code from the processing code. Most likely if your code is already cross platform you've already done this valuable work. If you are using a language that may be on the wane or on the edge you should consider porting portions of your program on an as needed basis to the new language du jour. C language bindings are the lingua franca of ABI's across Mac OS X, UNIX and even Windows (I believe), so a good C interface to the separate portions of your program will help as well. Once there is a C interface, any language ought to be able to call the underlying functionality, no matter what language and runtime it is using.
Another take home point is that there's simply not a good way to make money selling Developer tools. Platform vendors want to be able to drive development to new versions and new features. Since a third party tool developer supplier most likely doesn't have the same release schedule nor priorities as the platform developer, inevitable schedule and priority conflicts arise. I think that every major software platform supplies their own developer tool set. This allows the platform developer to drive their third party developers forward with less effort. I think Metrowerks had a moment from about 1994 until 1998 or so that they could make money from their Mac OS tools. It's a shame they are as good as gone from Mac OS now, as it was a fun and exciting ride. Now Apple has been able to step in and provide tools that provide plenty of functionality and can also drive Apple and its third party developers where the Mac OS X platform needs to go. #
There was recently an article that indicates that Portland, Oregon has followed the basis of the Kyoto Protocol and reduced its emissions to below 1990 levels. And contrary to our oilman President's expert opinion, it has not affected their economy negatively, in fact Portland's economy has boomed. I believe that if our President didn't pander to the oil industry and he treated the energy crisis as an opportunity for progressive new technologies (by which I mean incremental change) instead of more oil exploration, then the economy and security of our country would improve. This would more likely be a better place than spending billions of dollars and thousands of lives on a unprovoked war in Iraq to improve our energy and security needs.
I have an idea. Maintaining cheap access to oil has figured into American interests aligning with horrific regimes like Saudi Arabia and the Shah of Iran. These same despotic regimes are those who the terrorists are ultimately against. But since these regimes are despotic, the terrorists attack America by proxy since America's might allows these regimes to stand. Since it's the access to the oil that America is interested in (because it certainly isn't shared cultural or democratic ideals) I think that the war in Iraq (and the war against terrorism) should be paid for exclusively by a variable tax on gasoline. In this way Americans would be able to deeply understand the cost of their addiction to oil. Perhaps this would cause a change in their behavior. Less oil being purchased by America would lower the demand, and lower the prices that the oil regimes receive that allows them to remain in power. Then a main argument of the terrorists is defused. I'm still always confused that our President claims we are at war (without a declaration by Congress, mind you), and yet asks for no sacrifices from the public. In fact he lowers taxes for the richest instead. While reading an article about how the slight increases in today's oil prices haven't affected consumer behavior very much, I learned that oil prices are actually still less than they were 25 years ago (adjusted for inflation). The oilman President needs to step up and lead. He can no longer continue to be a leader and pander to his oilmen cronies.
I have a question. There's been a lot of noise about leaks, protected sources, and war justification lately. Which is all important. (Side note: when I read the transcript of the White House briefings regarding Karl Rove this week on Salon, at first I thought that it was a spoof, as I couldn't believe that the press were actually challenging the administration's lies.) As an engineer I look at a problem, and I ask myself "What is the root cause? I am only seeing lots of problems that wouldn't have happened if there wasn't a root problem?" I still don't see anyone asking who forged the documents that said that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger, and why did they forge them? Why was their goal? Did they want the U.S. to have a flimsy reason to go to war with Iraq? Why would they want this?
Isn't amazing to think that our esteemed President gave a medal to the man who dismantled the same Iraqi army that the United States is now desperately trying to put back together? Let alone the man who said that absolutely were Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq? #
I decided to buy gasoline last weekend. I was invited to a party in southern San Jose (about 50 miles from my house) and quite a few of my former coworkers at Apple were going to be there. So I wanted to go, so I broke down and bought gas for my car for the first time in about 3 and a half months. But I did only drive a little more than halfway. I stopped in Menlo Park and grabbed a ride with Ivan & Brigitte. Here's hoping I can make it another 3 months!
I was walking to my bike after The Alkali Flats show. I get across the street and some guy yells, "Hey Greg!". I turn and I don't recognize anyone. So the guy says it again. So I see him now, but I don't know him at all. "I'm Greg, but I'm afraid I don't recognize you." He says "It's Dan. I used to be married to Mark Scheitler's sister." I went to high school with Mark. I was surprised since for all I know its been 10 years since I've seen Dan just a handful of times. Dan said I saw your sweatshirt and figured it had to be you.
My post about Apple and Metrowerks made it onto the computer hardware discussion site AnandTech. Unfortunately, they got the URL wrong for my site. You have to be a member to correct it. If you're a member, you can point them to ../apple_mw.html.
The New York Times had an unbelievable article about people tossing their PCs when they get too many viruses! One of the people apparently has a PhD in Computer Science and is a V.P. at salesforce.com. Does this make you trust this person's technical skills, in that number one, they get computer viruses, and number two he can't figure out how to remedy the problem? Sheesh. What a waste of resources. If these people would just buy an Mac, they wouldn't have these problems. It's worth the extra $100, wouldn't you think?
The original policeman from The Village People was arrested for drug possession in Daly City, just outside of San Francisco. The funny part was that the original A.P. article mentioned that he was arrested by the "real police". I guess they figured readers may have thought he was arrested by the new policeman in The Village People? #
There was a worrisome article about hybrid cars on The New York Times. Apparently people are buying hybrids to take advantage of the electric engine's acceleration power. The end result is that the hybrid engines are being put into bigger cars but they wind up getting about the same mileage as before, since people are gunning their cars. I really think that sometimes the market doesn't work. The car buyers in this case are being driven by short term goals, namely the quick pick up an electric engine provides (think of BART). The long term goals of reducing fuel use, reducing pollution, reducing the U.S. addiction to oil, and in turn increasing our security by no longer relying upon sketchy foreign governments who are so powerful and so hated by their people that terrorists lash out at the U.S. instead of their real targets. I mean the market sells Hummers, for crying out loud. Continuing to buy large inefficient cars that get the auto makers large short term profits isn't beneficial to the long term security of the U.S. When does it become treason? Automakers' interests in this case do not seem to lie with the long term interests of the security of the U.S. #
I went to a San Francisco Giants game on Sunday afternoon with a former coworker from Apple, Mikey McDougall. It was a beautiful day. We also had what where were probably the best seats I've ever had at a ball game. But the game was pretty lame on the Giants' part. They left so many men on base, and wound up losing 4 to 1.
A few days ago, I mentioned how I was confused that the U.S. is at war, and yet our President (and Congress) ask for absolutely no sacrifices from civilians. Apparently I'm not the only one wondering why this is. I read four different articles in The New York Times in the last two days that seem to say what I'm thinking in so many better ways than I can. I really don't know what the solution to this is. Shouldn't we all be making sacrifices? If so, how far should these sacrifices go? No matter what, the U.S. is at war, and no one at home seems to be making a sacrifice except for those who have signed up for the military. Somehow this doesn't seem fair for anyone involved, and I don't know how it can possibly last. How can I sacrifice to support a war I do not support? Even if I know that it's now a mistake we'll all have to live with, there must be a way. All I know to do is to drive less, and use less oil. That doesn't seem like enough. #
I love the fact that Apple announces that it is selling a multiple button mouse, which every computer but the Macintosh has always had, and they get tons of press about it. It was everywhere on the web today. You think Apple invented the multiple button mouse or something. Apple really seems to be at the point that they can sneeze now and everyone will notice. #
I'll always link to a Theremin article. The man's story is so interesting. He was a Russian, Lenin said his instrument was the music of the revolution, came to America, lived in Harlem, where they made large Theremin's which were designed for ballet dancers to dance on (they'd both create and react to the music at the same time!), married a black woman, was whisked away back to Soviet Russia, imprisoned, and then made electronic devices for the KGB. Then after the fall of the Soviet Union, he lived very modestly as a 97 year old. Rent the movie. #
My commuting karma has been taking some hits this week. First I got a flat tire on my bike I couldn't fix (the trifecta of a bad patch job, no more patches, and no spare tube!), so I worked from home when the train I was trying to fix it on never even left the train station. Today (the very next day) there was track work that made my ride to work into 2 hours. I took the Baby Bullet home, and it proceeded to take about one and a half hours to get back due to a disabled train ahead of ours.
I've been to New Orleans twice in my life. When I was sober, I always marveled at how you'd walk up to the levee to the river. I used to buy the Cafe du Monde coffee (with chicory) religiously when I used my coffee press at Metrowerks. My heart goes out to New Orleans and the people there. #
Who's buying extra gasoline? Apparently our esteemed President believes people may be doing that. In response to hurricane Katrina, he said "Don't buy gas if you don't need it." Couldn't he have put this request into a law or a regulation when his administration recently changed the auto emissions standards and opened more loop holes for the automobile companies to sell more inefficient cars? Mr. President, EVERYONE with a gas guzzling SUV is buying too much gasoline! They were doing it before and they will continue to do it unless someone makes them stop. Your administration's policies ENCOURAGE them to do this! Do you actually think the poor people of New Orleans in the Superdome are buying too much gasoline? Because my guess would be that they haven't in quite awhile, because then they'd probably have left the city when the hurricane warnings were issued, and everyone else with a car got out! This disaster really displays the utter emptiness of the administration's policy of 'homeland security.' We had a warning, about a week in advance, that this hurricane was a big one. But not until today, several days after the storm hits, does ANYONE find the time and effort to get some buses to get the poor people of New Orleans out of harms way! They are actually evacuating the evacuation center! Can you see how this is a complete and utter failure? Society is hanging on by threads there. Please tell me how differently prepared the administration would have shown itself if this were one of the big terrorist attacks they like to scare us with? And with one of those, we wouldn't have had a week's warning! This disaster has shown convincingly that the administration's security policy is completely bankrupt. #
9/6/2005 was the seven year anniversary of my first entry. The site is perhaps only a few months older than that. All it had at first was hand edited
HTML, and the generated shows pages. I recall talking with Graham Stewart at the time about how we should make a website like suck.com. I just looked, and I realized that suck.com is about 10 years old now.
This is an excellent Mac piece, funny, obsessive, and spot on. The iTunes 5 Announcement From the Perspective of an Anthropomorphized Brushed Metal User Interface Theme. If this were Windows, no one would even care!
At Azul, my sole task so far has been to get our software code working in more places than it does already. This is because Azul sells the box with the idea that you can drop it into any old enterprise network, no matter what java you are already running. The code is fairly portable and standard, but there are still many unusual gotchas. I use five operating systems a day: Linux (currently 32 bit x86), Solaris (32 and 64 bit SPARC), Mac OS X (currently 32 bit PowerPC), AIX (currently 32 bit PowerPC), and HP-UX (currently 32 bit PA-RISC). And there's more operating systems and architectures to come. Creating code that can run the same way in such disparate environments is both challenge and a skill. There are lots of ways to make it overly complicated. The number one easiest way to make it complicated is to use C++. This language was specified long before it was fully implemented, so many compilers only support a subset of the language. If you are going to use C++, you have to limit yourself to the intersection of the language features of all of the compilers you may use. Some would say to just use gcc, since it is already ported everywhere. The problem comes that perhaps gcc isn't as well supported on some implementations, so you must go to another compiler, each which has its own idiosyncrasies. C++ linking (where you bring all the parts of a program together into the actual program) is a traditional nightmare. This is because the first C++ implementations would parse C++ and just make it into plain C code. This way they could continue to use the linkers and other tools that already worked for C programs for C++ programs. However the C++ function names are mangled, meaning they are turned into gobbledy gook. C++ also has a syntactic abomination called templates. They make the code hard to read, and the error messages impossible to decipher. Because this was one of the parts of C++ that was specified before anyone knew how to actually implement it, some C++ compilers implementations are horrible. There are some vendors that supply giant boxes with multiple CPUs, where lots of things can all happen at the same time. However because their template support is so horrible, only one CPU can be compiling & linking C++ templatized code at a time! C++ also has the notion of static initializers. This is code that magically will execute. Sometimes it happens when the library is first loaded, sometimes when the object file (this is the binary code representation of a source file that gets linked into a program) is first used, sometimes it's when the data is first accessed. This ambiguousness isn't portable. If you want to write code that will run on different platforms with different compilers, do not go anywhere near C++. It is a mistake. Java, every other scripting language, and straight C will always work.
In the last month I've seen two interesting movies in the theatre. Both were evenly paced contemplative movies. There was lots of breathing room in each of them, which seemed to be a good way to get you to think about the movie. The first was "Me and You and Everyone We Know", written by, starring, and directed by Miranda July. I guess I'd summarize it as a movie about relationships and how and why do people get into them and keep them? Oh, that and it's also about
))<>(( forever. The other movie I saw which dwelled on the similar relationships question was Jim Jarmusch's "Broken Flowers". It had a similar contemplative pacing. This one was good because via the directing you really felt that a sense of how lost Bill Murray's character is. It also gave a sense that he was reliving the same relationship cycle repeatedly, and his quest in the movie recycled through these relationships again. The shot at the end of the movie was nice too. The folks sitting next to me in the theatre were looking for more of a guffaw Bill Murray comedy; they seemed quite perplexed by the end. And of course, both of the movies have excellent scores.
I also saw an old samurai movie recently that I loved, and it wasn't directed by Akira Kurosawa. It is "Hara Kiri". It is about the honor of samurai in a corrupt world. I know why I like samurai movies. The samurai are a group of people with a code that must be followed. The code determines how the world works. When the world doesn't agree with their code, they struggle to fit the new world into their code. It's always someone battling with a world they don't understand, and the world no longer understands them. #
In case you needed it, here's some proof that I'm a cheap bachelor. I still use the same blue bath towels I got when I moved out of my parents house in 1988. Somehow in about 1999 I gained a new maroon towel, and I have no idea where it came from. I have and I still use the same plates and silverware my Mom gave me in about 1993. They were the plates she had from their wedding, which was in 1967. I did spiffy up and buy pint and wine and tumbler glasses at Ikea in about 2001. Before that I used free plastic cups from ball games and restaurants. My leather belt I've been wearing since the mid-1980s is wearing thin. It's the only belt I've worn (except for the one for when I wear a suit) since then. Strangely enough, I do buy new clothes and shoes regularly. Oh, my refrigerator is usually empty. This amuses many of my friends.
Here's a public service announcement. Since I have both a mortgage and two kinds of insurance, I get offers to switch them about 4 times a week. Most aggravatingly, I sometimes get them from my current providers! Thank goodness for the "Do Not Call" database, or I'd still get calls about it too. It's not a "Do Not Mail" database, but there is a website run by some big credit agencies that allows you to opt out of their mail solicitations. I found the
URL as I was tossing yet another piece of junk mail away last week. It says it will take some time to take hold; I sure hope it works for the trees' sake. #
It's been awhile. My life has been firing on all cylinders lately. It's all been good too. Work is looking up, my social life is unbelievably good, and my living situation is up as well. Details to come.
Critical Mass has hit the New York Times. I like to think of Critical Mass as a nice bike ride through the city instead of a political protest. Some people can get pretty angry, both car drivers and bicyclists.
Dell is going to do an Apple and sell high-end, more-expensive computers. They hope to bring up their margins. I'm not sure that it will work. Dell has succeeded by driving the margins down. Now they are having trouble growing at a sustained rate by doing that. But Dell's DJ doesn't seem to be flying off shelves like the iPod is. I don't know if style is Dell's strong suit. #
My CalTrain today wasn't permitted go all the way to San Jose. They were going to stop it in Santa Clara. Thankfully I always get off before that in Mountain View. Apparently there was a disturbance that caused the police to close the station. The conductor didn't give the reason why when we were on the train.
I'm still not ready to give out the details of what's changing here. It should be soon. #
So the news I've been holding back is that I'm moving! I'm moving a few blocks away to a great condo in the Lower Haight. I'll be neighbors with my friend David Holloway and his girlfriend Brandi. It's a two unit condo. The building was built about 100 years ago. It has wood floors, a deck, two floors and a basement! I'm going to have to start some projects to do down there. Basically it's the kind of place I've wanted in San Francisco for awhile. It's located directly between my old apartment and my current condo, just a block and a half from the new Mint on Mint Hill. I'll put up pictures after I move in this Saturday. #
I got all my stuff moved into my new home with the help of a fine tuned moving army. Many thanks to David, Dave, Kate, Elowyn, Aram, Mary, Ted, and Alexandra. Afterwards we had tasty Indian pizza. The next day I spent some time just making the place livable. My parents arrived later that afternoon, and they stayed in the second bedroom. They came to town to help me out by painting my old home. They finished it up in 2 days flat, and it looks great. I'm so grateful for all of the wonderful help I've been given over the last week.
This weekend Elowyn and I are going to go hiking and pick out some pumpkins from Half Moon Bay to carve and decorate. On Sunday I'm going to start looking at a bed box spring (my double sized one cannot fit up the stairs!), some dining room furniture, and a spare bed / sofa for the second bedroom.
I just got back from a screening of a great documentary called "Favela Rising." It was about Grupo Cultural AfroReggae, and their spiritual leader Anderson Sa. They are a positive force for change in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. I heard about this because a friend of mine was one of the producers. They kindly will give all the profits from the picture to the AfroReggae association in Rio. Go see this film if it makes it to your town. #
I'm 35 now. Now I can be president. Donations are now being accepted. If I run, I want to have the attitude of this guy. I like that while I don't agree with everything he says, I know that he's working from the gut and it's telling him the right things.
So I've been unpacking. I hope to have pictures of my new place up after there are less boxes around (which is really soon, really!). My old place has its first open house on Sunday. Wish me luck.
The other day I fell asleep on the CalTrain (like I typically do in the evening). However this time when I woke up, the train was pitch black and no one was around. I got my bike, got off, and it was completely empty (for those who don't know, I get off at the last stop at the end of the line). So I walked out into the station in the dark (damn winter lighting), and if the train arrived right on time, I only got off the train 5 minutes after it arrived! Yet there was absolutely no one around. So odd. I'm guessing it's because I'm now old enough to be president.
I've been really liking my new home. It's quiet, the wood floors are nice, and Chip really likes to go out in the small garden. We also got the full benefits of Chip going outside yesterday. He threw up, but outside, so all I had to do was hose it down.
I've decided that I'm going to cook. It's been so long it doesn't feel right to say 'again'. Last Saturday I made Elowyn dinner (she made lime tart for dessert). I made everything from scratch. I made fresh pesto, which I added to a green bean and cherry tomato risotto. I also made a sweet potato tomato soup with miso stock. I got that recipe from my new neighbor David. Elowyn and I agreed that it was an excellent meal. I hope that I can keep it up.
I haven't taken pictures of the new place yet; I want to get a few more things done beforehand. I will have a house warming party. However it may be after Thanksgiving (we're having it at my house, and my parents are going to come), but I don't want it to be a Christmas party. It's complicated to throw a party at this time of year.
I've put up pictures of my new condominium. I moved in on October 22, so it only took me a month. I had promised pictures of 345 Church since I had moved in. I guess I'm liking this one more. I'm going to have people over for Thanksgiving. My parents are going to be here, and we're going to share dinner with David & Brandi from next door. We'll be eating at my new dining room table. #
I think Thanksgiving dinner was a big success. I had 10 people over. David's turkey tasted great and so did all of the other food. On Friday my parents and I went to the new De Young Museum. This is a beautiful building with an awesome view. On Saturday I made Elowyn dinner at her place while she worked. I made more risotto, which now seems to be my forte. I hope to expand my repertoire soon. #
It looks like there is a book out about hipsters in Wicker Park in the time that I was living there. (Technically I lived in Bucktown and then Ukrainian Village. The real one. Not Western East Village.) I'll have to check "Neo-Bohemia: Art and Commerce in the Postindustrial City" out. The summary on the Quimby's page is succinct and hilarious. "Sociologist spends years studying Wicker Park, its hipsters, gentrifiers, and agitators. Conclusion: Urge Overkill still sucks." It sounds like the author was living there when I was as well. And I'm actually related to one of the older Polish Americans in the neighborhood. And I never saw Urge Overkill. #
Well I missed seeing a show in both January and November this year. This year it looks like I'll see the fewest shows I've seen in a year since 1991. And I wasn't keeping concise track` of 'local' shows back then. No matter what, it's the slowest year since college. Bummer.
Elowyn had told me that she's in every single Apple store. She showed me on Sunday. She and some friends had gone up in the Sierras. They snow-shoed (and some snowboarded). One of the guys was a friend of a friend of hers, who worked at Apple. If you go to any computer in an Apple store, and open iPhoto, and select the "Snowboarding" album, she's the cute one. After she showed me that, we were checking out the new iPod Video, and she gasped. She's in all of those demoes as well! Unfortunately for you (is it fortunately for her?) if you get a Mac or an iPod, you don't get a picture of Elowyn.
The Sunday New York Times had an article about how sales of Viagra are down. They titled it "Sales of Impotence Drugs Fall, Defying Expectations". In the real paper I had on Sunday it was titled "Sales of Drug For Impotence Are Declining". I wish they had titled it "Sales of Viagra Soften".
Aram has already mentioned this on his site, but The New York Times also had an article about how all guys in Silicon Valley are into extreme sports and cycling. That this is where all the deals are struck. I'm the only guy in my start up who bikes to work regularly. One of the executives apparently is a surfer from Santa Cruz. A few guys just sent around diving pictures today. Maybe this can possibly be true, but it still sounded like one of those "everyone is a multi-millionaire in Silicon Valley" stories that the NYT has from time to time.
I've seen the graffiti that this article mentions. When I saw it, I immediately thought that it was 1) lame and 2) probably a fake backlash as well. Why would anyone care? I'm surprised I haven't read that take on it. In addition, tonight I noticed that there are fresh posters back up at Zeitgeist without the additional graffiti backlash. Maybe it will change tonight? In order that this post doesn't help the advertiser, I haven't mentioned who they are.
So I regularly get emails about my web site. I just got one that I'd like to point out. Steve Smith did the paintings that I saw at the last Shellac shows I saw. I had gotten his first name incorrect and he sent me an email correcting me. This way I also get to link to his terribly unique art.
I've seen graffiti tracing shadows a couple years ago from my last house. For example, there's some tracing a parking sign right in front of the John Muir School on Church Street a block from my old place. This article makes it seem like this NY dude invented it, but I'm certain he hasn't. Soon there will be an article about some artist covering abandoned bicycles in yarn in NYC, I'm sure.
The NYT also mentions the corporate graffiti I saw at Zeitgeist. Ugh. I really think a lot of news isn't really news. This article _totally_ plays into the hands of the corporation in question. This is exactly what they wanted when they started this campaign. Ugh.
Caltrain has put up holiday decorations in the 4th and King Station. What's hilarious is that over a few days, they have surrounded them by yellow and black tape, orange cones, and 'Do Not Touch' signs. Whoever has put them up is just plain paranoid. #
I've been holding back on writing about the latest revealed action by our esteemed President. It's quite apparent that he hates America. How can I make such an extreme statement? Here's how.
Our esteemed President appoints people to government positions that utterly despise the department they are assigned to. (See John Bolton in the United Nations for just one example. Also see anyone in the 'Justice' Department.) The party line is that these types will improve the institution, but when have you ever seen someone who hates something improve it? In my experience, that person is put there to end it.
Our esteemed President is starving the government of the funds that is needed to run government. He lowers taxes on the ultra-rich, which are paid for by reductions in services to the vast majority of Americans. (See Hurricane Katrina, U.S. troops armor in Iraq, etc.) This weakens the people, which weakens the government, which weakens America.
Our esteemed President appoints lawyers to the 'Justice' Department who are adept at explaining away the laws they are sworn to uphold to the point of meaninglessness (See the original memos about torture being defined to up to, but not including death. See also the memos about torture and the Geneva Conventions on War being 'quaint'. See also naming U.S. citizens enemy combatants, thus depriving them of their constitutionally guaranteed right to due process under the law. See whatever other yet-to-be-disclosed travesties they have brought upon the Constitution.)
Our esteemed President continues to listen to the same 'Justice' Department lawyers who say it's the President's prerogative to ignore the Congress and the Courts whenever he deems necessary and search any American whenever he pleases without a warrant. It has been said that the Congress has been briefed about the program. However, there is nothing in the Constitution saying that violating the Constitution and Congress' laws is allowed after a simple briefing.
Our esteemed President ignored or was ignorant of the fact that that intelligence comes with differing levels of confidence. He and his staff ran with shaky intelligence that supported their preconceived plan to go to war in Iraq. By ignoring or lacking common sense, he has put our relationships with allies and enemies alike at risk. By going to war unnecessarily, he has stretched the defenses of the country to the extreme. By putting our country into a seemingly inextricable position, he has continued to weaken rather than strengthen the country.
Our esteemed President was going to 'bring honesty and integrity back to the White House'. Was he doing this when he lied and said that wire taps were only done with warrants during the past election?
Our esteemed President thought the poor brain dead woman in Florida was not brain dead. He also thought that 'the controversy' of Intelligent Design should be taught in public schools. In both of these cases, he was completely and utterly wrong. He also says that Tom DeLay is innocent. The charges have only been filed, how could he know the evidence? We are a nation of laws, not men. As it can be seen, men, and particularly this President, can be wrong. A law that is wrong can be stopped in multiple ways. It will not be passed by Congress: it will not be signed by the President: it will be struck down by the Judiciary. A man exercising power outside of this structure simply cannot coexist with this structure.
Our esteemed President likes to say that the terrorists we are fighting hate our freedom. As can be seen, he knows this because he hates our freedom just as much as they do. However only he has actually succeeded at limiting and eroding our freedoms.
Our esteemed President has no respect for the law, only respect for the power he wields. In my reading of the Constitution, there are not conditions on when the Constitution applies; it always applies. Our esteemed President is not protecting America, he is putting it at great risk, both internally and externally. The mendacity of the current administration simply cannot stand.
In the end, our esteemed President has made our country weaker in multiple ways than before, yet only he has become stronger. #
It's really looking like I won't see any shows for December. That makes two months in a row. It's also the lowest yearly total for shows since 1991. That was a good 15 year run, however.
Whenever I go through airport security, I'm always struck by how backwards thinking it is. So much money and time being spent on trying to catch bad guys when 99.9999% of the people are innocent. My biggest pet peeve is taking off my shoes. Mostly it's because I tie my shoes with a double knot, so it takes awhile. Over the holiday I found myself wondering, "What if Richard Reid had put a bomb in his pants instead of his shoes? Would everyone have to take their pants off to board an airplane?" The answer, of course, is no. But the reason it's done now is that it is easy to ask, people are compliant, and it makes people think that they are safer. They really aren't any safer. What if someone does have a bomb in their pants? Oh, it will be caught by that detector thing you say. Well, why can't the detector thing find a bomb in shoes then? Why is it trusted to do one, but not the other? It's complete security by inconvenience. Don't even get me started on taking my computer out of my carry on bag and placing it onto the conveyor belt separately. More feel good security for sure. It doesn't make me feel good. It upsets me because it's such a waste of time and resources that can be much better spent elsewhere. Please see any Bruce Schneier column for details.
Related to the current administration destroying the U.S. Constitution, there was recently a NYT story about the NYPD. They were secretly infiltrating protests, and they were caught on video tape. One quote in particular struck me as very appropriate. "The police departments screw up and we go to extremes to fix it," Chief Timoney said. "In going to extremes, we leave ourselves vulnerable." If only our current administration was so self contemplative. #