Monday, June 30, 2008


Yesterday I finally got something done I had been wanting to do for a while. I went up to Lowe's and purchased some CAT5e cable and wall jacks. I then went home, drilled some holes in the floor, and ran cables under the house. Next to my DSL modem I have two network outlets that run to my bedroom and the other to the girl's bedroom.
I had previously been connecting wirelessly. Wireless support in Linux is not stellar, and the cards in our computers have gone from supported to not supported, which is kind of odd.
With my new wired connections I have a full 100M connection between the PCs, and no wireless headaches.
For the jack in the girl's room, Aurora punched down two wire pairs into the jack.
One thing I was worried about was if I made even one mistake, then the run wouldn't work. I don't have any tools for troubleshooting problems with network cables. If any wire was out of place, or wasn't punched down properly, the only indication I would have of a problem is that my computer wouldn't connect. I would have no idea why. Testers can tell you exactly which wire is having a problem, but without that it would be up to me to make sure all wires are in the proper place and try to punch them down a little harder. If that would have failed then I would have had to just restripped everything and started over again. Fortunately everything worked the first time and I didn't have to worry about any of that.
Now I can very easily pass music and videos around from computer to computer. My next step is to get a Gig switch so I can go from 100M between computers to 1,000M between computers. Sweet!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Firefox3 out

You can get it at once the site stops being hammered. Regardless of what browser or OS you are using, you should get this immediately.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Ever since I first heard Barack speak, I have been a fan of his. I am not a Democrat, and voted Nader the last two elections. The last two Democratic nominees sucked pretty badly, and it was an offense to think that I would just shut up and vote for them.
Every time I hear Obama speak I am reminded why people by the millions are clamoring behind him. Yesterday Obama spoke at a church. While most church's yesterday where talking about how awesome fathers are, Obama took advantage of the moment to highlight a real problem that is causing real problems in our society. This problem is even more pronounced in Black communities, and is probably one of the leading contributors to the problems blacks face every day. What he highlighted was the important roles fathers play in the lives of their children, and how the overwhelming failure of fathers is creating major social and economic problems. If you do not believe that Obama is real, and not just fluff you must watch this video.
One other issue this highlight is Obama and religion. There has been a real push by the right smear-mongers to paint Obama up as a Muslim in Christians clothing. Despite the lack of any facts to back this up, the rumor presses on. Obama came to know Jesus through his own searching. McCain on the other hand was raised a Christian but seems to be more of a "non-practicing Christian" than anything else. Those of faith, who find such things improtant when picking a president, should have no doubt who the clear leader is in the religious area.

The video:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

New music player

Since just about forever I have used Winamp for my media player. It remains one of the few things that AOL has purchased and not turned in to useless crap. Nonetheless, when I switched to Linux, Winamp was no longer an option. There is a Winamp clone for Linux, but it suffered as a cheap imitation.
Ubuntu comes with Rhythmbox, which is a good player, but after I discovered Amarok I have been using it. It is quite a nice player, but a bit slow to load.
One of the creators of Winamp has started a new media player named songbird. Songbird runs on Linux, Mac OSX, and Windows. This is important because I have to use Windows in many settings, such as work, and it is nice to use the same software regardless of your OS. It is also built on Gecko, Mozilla's development platform that they build Firefox and Thunderbird on. Any user of either Firefox or Thunderbird will immediately feel at home with the look and feel of this application.
The real power of this application is that it is integrated into the Internet. To explain how this works, let's look at how iTunes works.
iTunes is a media player that integrates heavily into Apples iTunes store. From within the player you can browse and purchase music from iTunes.
Songbird is similar, except that it is open. From within songbird you can browse and purchase music from any online store. It offers lots of developer APIs to allow online stores to easily integrate with Songbird. And even for stores that do not, songbird will try to integrate anyways. If you visit any site that offers music downloads, it will pick up on this and offer you quick links to download the music.
This open nature provides one thing important to a healthy market, competition. While iTunes locks you in to Apple's store, with Apple DRM, and restrictions with how you can synch your music with your iPod, Songbird allows the consumer to decide the store to purchase music from, and they are working with allowing seamless transfer with any music device without restriction. This is open competition, and this is good for you the consumer.
Songbird is still in beta, but the development is going very fast. They just released a new version that can handle libraries with over 10,000 songs in them, which is really good compared to Windows Media Player which chokes on just a few hundred. Some things can still be a little quirky while it awaits coming out of beta and in to final, but overall it is a nice application with lots of promise. It is awesome to see something as simple as a media player be so exciting and cutting edge.

Not politically correct, technically correct.

There are some issues that I take a stance on that would, at the surface, appear to be me trying to be PC. In reality, I just want to be TC, technically correct.

Issue 1: Indians and Native Americans.
This one has bugged me for a long time. Why do we still call Native Americans Indians? We figured out a long, long time ago that Christopher Columbus landed in America, not in India. So why do we still call the natives here Indians? It makes referring to either the Native Americans or Indians very ambiguous. I also say Native American, and teach my kids to do the same, not because I am scared of offending anyone, but because I want to be clear in my meaning of who I am speaking about.

Issue 2: African Americans.
This is the stupidest term we could have come up with to define people with who descended from African aborigines.
The term itself is rather confusing. It is suppose to imply Americans who came from Africa. But that doesn't really stand up very well. Would a white person who becomes a naturalized citizen, and their children, be African Americans? What about a black person from Europe, Jamaica, or any other country who has moved to this country and become a citizen. They don't see themselves as Africans, so they aren't really African Americans, and neither are their children.
The other problem is that we are distancing blacks from other races. A person who comes from a long line of Europeans, Australians, or any other country, but born in the United States would simply be called Caucasians, or Americans. Are blacks a special bread of Americans that we need to define them differently?
A third issue is the difference between nationality and race. Nationality refers to the country you are born in, and has nothing to do with your ancestry. Race has to do with your ancestry, but not with your country of origin. All people born in Africa are Africans. When an "African American" moves to another country, are their children in that new country African American's? No. They are neither African nor American, either by race or nationality. To say someone is an African American is reference to their nationality, so why do we refer to that as a race? It is a technically incorrect way to refer to people who have black skin.
I suggest we call all people with black skin Negroes, and all people with white skin Caucasians, but really I just don't care, as long as the term is consistent and relevant.

On both of these issues, I don't take a stance because I am worried about offending anyone, I just want to use language that is clear and meaningful.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wedding Weekend

Last weekend Kim's cousin, Brent got married to his fiance, Brooke. The wedding was in Ft. Meyers.
Kim picked me up from work on Friday a little after 4:30pm and we left straight from there.
As a rule Kim always drives the first half of the trip. The reason for this is that by the second half she is exhausted and will go crazy, literally. So she drives first and then I drive second.
This time the kids where being causing all sorts of trouble, and Arianna just could not be made happy. I was having a hard time dealing with it, so we pulled over and I drove the rest of the trip.
We had to make lots of stops on the way down and arrived about 12:30 at night. We where set to stay at Donna and Mark's house. When we got there we banged on the door, rang the doorbell, on all of the windows, and called their phones with no luck. They where dead asleep. After about thirty minutes of this we decided to find a hotel room. After passing on some seedy looking places, one with cops interrogating someone, we picked a hotel right off the interstate. We didn't really pay attention to the price that night, but the room was $100. This was pretty absurd as it was just an average hotel, nothing special.
Mark and Donna called the next day to find out where we where, and Kim gave them the full story. They where pretty upset with themselves about not waking up. We drove to their house, and their kids where excited about seeing ours. They played a lot.
Ernie came over without Donna. Not having Donna around makes a big difference. She is always very loud and does what she needs to to be the center of attention. The problem is that she doesn't understand normal etiquette and says all sorts of offensive things frequently. She is also always on Ernie's case, so he was more relaxed too.
The wedding was at some brand new high-class golf resort. The ceremony was outside, where it was burning hot form the Southern Florida sun. The breeze kept things somewhat manageable. They must have foreseen this as the ceremony was only about thirty minutes long, and then it was a break for the reception hall.
It started with appetizers of fruits, vegetables, and cheese and crackers. When we sat down, all of the girls where fussing a lot. Kim noted how she was looking forward to the wedding, but was now just looking forward to getting home. She was holding the baby up on the table as she ate crackers, so I slipped in to her stead and held up the baby and shooed her away. She was hesitant but finally I convinced her to go and have fun. She kept coming back to us, but I kept reassuring her that she was free to do whatever she wanted.
After appetizer time we where seated at our assigned tables. At our table was us and Kim's sisters, Ernie, April, and April's boyfriend. With Kim so close to the kids she had to care for them again as they would go between me and her, but by this time they where all on good behavior, but I made sure Kim new she could go mingle as she pleased.
Athena wanted to go out on the dance floor and dance with me, so we did. It basically consisted of my crouching down, watching her as she ran around in a circle. She had a really good time.
It took a while, but they finally served the salads. After an even longer time, they served the main dish, which was a sliced chicken breast stuffed with some sort of cream and spinach thing, I think. It also had some orange sauce on top of it. It was okay, but the food wasn't hot, and I think I could get better chicken at Lindy's.
After the meal they did the traditional stuff where the mother and fathers of the bride and groom do their talk and the last dance, and all that other stuff. Then it was dance time. You don't have to beg the Newman's to get out and dance. They just do it. The music was good to. It was primarily oldies like Twist & Shout, Mustang Sally, etc. Lots of good music to dance to. None of that slow crap. I staid up to the Cha-Cha slide.
Not longer after we sat down for the meal, Aurora said her stomach hurt, and she just kept feeling worse as the night wore on. Athena had was having a great time, but by the end of the Cha-Cha slide she was beat. The DJ did over six minutes of the Cha-Cha Slide. She started it laughing and ended it whining. Arianna was on her last wind as well. So I went home with our kids, Mark, and his kids Marcus and Harrison.
Back at the house Kim, Arianna, Athena and I where set to sleep in Harrison's room, and Harrison, Marcus, and Aurora where set to sleep in Marcus' room. When Aurora laid down she said she felt like she might throw up. Marcus got a a trash can and told Aurora to throw up in there if she couldn't make it to the bathroom, which was just outside the door.
After the kids went to bed I played the Wii. In the middle of the game Aurroa came out to the living room. In stead of throwing up in the trash or the bathroom, she went in Harrison's room and thew up all over some of our stuff and then puked in the hall on the way to the living room.
I set her in the bathroom and then in the bath tub and went back out and cleaned up the throw up. I then washed her in full and set her back in bed. She said she felt better, but I made sure the understood that there was a trash can right next to her bed she needed to use if she coulnd't make it to the bathroom, and that her first priority needed to be throwing up in one of these two places before she tried to find me.
After that she went back to sleep.
The next day I didn't feel well. I didn't throw up or anything, but my body felt week. I laid around the house practically all day. The kids played a lot and where very well behaved. In fact, the whole trip only Aurora went to time out, and that was once for burping at the dinner table. We the kids where really well behaved while we where away.
We left Fort Meyers around 5:30. Because of my sickness, Kim drove the whole way back. The kids slept the whole way too. We only had to stop once, and that was for bathroom and gas.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Miro love

I have set up a program called Miro on my girl's computer and am loving it. The simplest explanation of what Miro does is that it is like podcasting for videos. In stead of downloading updated podcast (i.e. audio casts) it downloads updated video casts, or video feeds. There isn't much ground breaking about that, but the way Miro does it is really cool. It tries to make itself out more like an online video programmer than a simple video feed reader.
When you first start it up it has a search engine to find different feeds based on topic. So for my girls I browsed the education and kids section and found video feeds from all sorts of places. For example, They Might Be Giants releases a new videocast every Friday featuring to kids music videos. National Geographic has videocasts they release periodically.
We do not have cable at our house, and I prefer to keep it that way. So now my kids have only the TV that I have selected for them without any commercials chanting "consume, consume, consume" at them. The latter being why I don't like having cable TV.
Miro is available for Linux, OSX, and Windows at It is also open source software.