Monday, March 27, 2006

Blog has moved

I moved the blog onto www.donaldmarino.com.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

My worn out axe

Here's a few pics of my 1989 Palmer P39EC. It is distinctly possible that this instrument saved my life in the early 90's. I haven't played it in a while (I have others now), but a fresh set of strings, polish 'er up, and it sounds and plays great still. Here's the thing, though: this was a bargain-basement buy even in 1989. There's no real reason to have even expected this guitar to sound or play nicely even when new. $200 dollar guitars rarely do. This thing is an exception, though, because it's a player and it sounds great. Except for the pickup. That sounds terrible. I never plug it in. But the guitar has outperformed expectations by so far that it's amazing. I tried to find out some info about Palmer Guitars and utterly failed. There isn't one iota of evidence they exist on the internet. No customer service, no website, nothing. I did find two intances of internet merchants who claimed to have a few Palmer guitars for sale. Maybe they went out of business, maybe they just don't have a website. Dunno. I cannot ever remember seeing another Palmer, strangely. It's a really nice instrument for what it is. It it very close to the end of its useful life, though. It's cracked, beaten, bent, and broke. It wouldn't do for a daily player anymore, but it's still nice to take for a spin now and again. 15 years of memories is almost half my life. They're in that rosewood fretboard like ghosts.

Anyway, Here's what a cheap guitar looks like after you work out 15+ years of your feelings on it.







Thursday, March 23, 2006

Even a stopped clock is right sometimes.

I am heartened by a nice, momentary convergence of the fates. Apparently, beards have become fashionable for men to wear. Like, big time fashionable. Ralph Lauren runway models, style editors and hipster New Yorkers are sporting beards now. The New York Times even had a style piece on how cool beards are now. Big, bushy ones too, not just some token George Michael stubble, either. As a man who hasn't shaved in almost ten years now, it's amusing to me that this momentary fashion trend has arrived. I'm in style again, randomly!
I suspect that it's a huge backlash from the not-so-subtle not-quite-homo metrosexual thing that has been afflicted on men over the last few years. Gentlemen under a certain age have been expected to look pretty girly of late, and, well while the ladies may really like their men pretty as girls with fashion labels and lots of cologne, men won't stand for that forever. "Look! I am a man! With a big manly beard. And a Prada shirt!" We're men after all. Hopefully. So, I suppose to re-assert their manliness, the metros are growing beards. It smacks a bit of desperation. "You can make us wear gay clothes, but you can't make us shave!" I can't remember who said it, but it was true - If women decided they like men who walked upside-down, within a week half the earth would be walking on their hands. Funny, but true. If you need any more proof that it's true, go to LoDo (Denver) on a friday night. The poor gentlemen of today have been quite emasculated, becuase metro is a style the young ladies prefer. We'll see if beards are here to stay, but if not, look for this fashion trend to be short-lived. The chicks will have what they want in the end. Funny thing is I grew my beard years ago at the request of a girl I was dating. Men were still allowed to be men back then I guess. And women hadn't invented metrosexuality to doll up the young men yet. Here's to hippie beards (like mine) on fashion models :-)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The greatest songwriter of all time.

The late Elliott Smith.


My favorite musician of all time. Bar none.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Wha?

I just read a really dumb statement, and because I'm mean, I'm going to have to share it with you.

Apparently Windows Vista needs a lot of RAM to run. Like a whole lot. Official spec is min 512MB, but apparently thats only if you only run I.E. and don't like to multi-task.

But this takes the cake. In some talkback on a forum, this one bright spark announced that he was ok with that because his WinXP machine had never used more than 480MB of it's 1GB RAM. "Now, " he says "at least I'll be putting that extra RAM to use."

I don't even know which end of that statement to ridicule first, so I'll just leave it to the gentle reader to consider.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Laundry-Fu

The more I watch this, the cooler it gets.
Next time you fold your laundry, think about how bad you suck.

Laundry-Fu Video

Love it.

D

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Thanks RMS

Do you take it for granted?
If you don't prefer Windows, and you don't use Windows, you should thank Richard Stallman.
Even if you don't like him or what he says (he's like, kinda extreme, yo). Because it's not that likely you'd have much/any choice if it werent for him. Really, you might not, and it would really suck.
That's my thought for today.

D

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Baseball is broken.

There are three types of people in the world: People who don't like sports, sports fans, and baseball people. If, like myself, you find yourself in the last category, these days are tougher than ever. I have had to become a baseball apologist. It's almost embarrassing to admit that you love baseball anymore. I find myself yearning for the good old days when all you had to defend was the fact that baseball on television is actually fantastic entertainment. Now that's the least of our worries. Major League Baseball has become an embarrassment. It's phenomenally sad to see.
When the immigrant Jaques Barzun famously said "Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball", he made a deep and salient point. Well, Barzun would be glad to know that its never been more true than it is today. Americans, to a man, will say they love baseball. I mean like 90% of people. Two thirds of those people would follow up quickly with a "but I don't like watching it on T.V." Ball park attendance is around 50 Million a year, much of which is repeat business. So, really, Americans say they love baseball, but they don't like watching it on TV and most people can't or don't go to the park. But not many would ever tell you it'd be ok to stop playing baseball in the U.S.A.. Now, however, with a steroid scandal rolling full steam, playing itself out in the 24-hour newsmedia blaster, now that's something we can get into, there. Keep it coming, the more the better, the dirtier the better, the bigger the names, the better. It's depressing to see that overshadow anything like what's going on on the field. The Cubs beat the Mets, yawn, so did anybody get caught cheating? That's what we're interested in now. That's what's on the news and that's how we'll talk about baseball for a long time yet.
So, who's to blame? How can we fix it? Well, I blame the baseball owners and Major League Baseball. MLB has got to be the worst run professional sport in history. They have special laws that no one can compete with them and they still manage to suck it up horribly. This whole thing is their fault, and it's obvious why: the drugs that a lot of these players were taking were perfectly legal to use in the league at the time. You simply cannot blame the players for using them. There was a not-so-subtle suggestion that it was okay to use performance-enhancing drugs, and it isn't really gone yet, even in the wake of this scandal. Now, there's a not-so-well-known look the other way policy for player taking amphetamines to stay alert over the grinding of 160+ games. It's totally rampant and no one in MLB is going to stop it because it helps the on-field product look better. You have to blame the league. I think that it's time to let competition into Professional Baseball. Sure, we'd have to endure some XFL-style foolishness here and there, but you can't tell me there aren't some smarter businessmen out there who can leverage America's lip service to loving baseball and do a way better job than the clowns running MLB.
If people stand up and cheer when Barry Bonds breaks Babe Ruth's HR record in a few months, they should be ashamed. But they will and the new media circus will blather and blather. Just you wait. One thing they won't be talking about is the action on the field. Tigers played the Yankees, yawn, were there any good sound bites? Did a cameraman get punced out? So that's how we take our baseball now. Filtered through the never stopping tabloid media machines. Just like we do with everything. Barzun still has us pegged.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

FZ-1 Pics

After a few 70 degree days, the bike needed a bath and a serious chain & sprocket job.
Here's the clean baby!







Friday, February 24, 2006

I <heart> Sys Admins

I've worked with a lot of developers over the years who like UNIX & Gnu/Linux. To a man, if they had any skill at programming, they were excellent system administrators. Now, I'll be the last to bash SysAdmins, I love 'em. Some of them I've worked with could be stellar developers if they wanted to. But developers are often really, really good at this. I remember a situation at a startup photogrammetry firm I worked at where the lead developer finally lost patience with the somewhat inept sysadmin and took over. This developer had those system humming literally the next day after we had had problems for months. Developers and Admins both have great knowledge of what goes on in a linux host, but these groups do things differently. Very differently.
Developers want to do lots of stuff inside a system. They want to keep two versions of libraries laying around. They want to build their stuff from source, they want to use new versions of stuff all the time. They don't mind breaking stuff to see what happens. They hack configs, they do whatever. They have a high tolerance for instability. They want deep insight into why things are like they are in a system, and aren't afraid to try something tricky.
Admins want their systems to obey them and behave. They want each lib to be the stable one and everything nice and clean with a warranty and support. They don't really care about deep inner workings, they just want the boxes to run cleanly and efficiently all the time. They fear downtime and pagers going off at odd hours. They want predictable servers with the same configs and clean backups. It's a different perspective, to be sure.
I've been fighting with these two perspectives a lot lately because I have been doing a lot of sys admin work for both of my clients this week. I'm a hacker at heart, so I get a little rough with the sytems sometimes. We all know I'm not the best admin in the world, but these clients are small and, heck, somebody's got to do it. So, I've been fighting away inside RedHat machines of various stripe. The conclusion that I am coming to is that it is really hard to have it both ways. If you want to have a stable RPM based system, you have to decide that early and basically never screw with it. Then it'll happily run until the cows come home with nary a hiccup. if you start in even with one stinkin' lib upgrade or source install, you're on the path. You can alomst always get things to work, but it can be hard. Especially coming into legacy systems where developers have done god-knows-what. Still, there's some kind of perverse fun in it. It's like solving a mystery when things get futzed-up in a linux box. There's plenty of clues and friendly people to help. And of course you always learn a lot along the way that'll help you become a better developer. For me, the linux systems, software, and community are nearly endlessly fascinating. But still, I'd prefer to have a good sysadmin doing a lot of this stuff :-)