March 22, 2005

What a beautiful morning there is out there today. I got out of bed and pulled back the blinds in the living room and it is really a spectacular day. Yesterday we started the day with a solid covering of snow on the ground but it ended up being pretty nice all day. Today is looking like it might be even nicer. I think that the good weather is finally upon us. A few more weeks and I will have to get into the shop to get my low profile tires and larger wheels put back onto my car. The only downside is that I wore out two of the tires last season so I have to buy two more. Those things are not cheap.

On an even happier note, I think that Eric and I are planning on working on the RX-7 soon. I really want to get that on the road this summer and get some serious convertible action going. If I was smart, I would take the “6” off of the road and only use the RX-7 this summer. That would rock. I need to spend this summer tooling around in a little red convertible.

Norm got me out of bed this morning calling very early. He is supposed to be working at Wegmans with me tomorrow and next Wednesday but no one has called him about anything yet so he is really in the dark. So that is my project this morning. Getting everyone onto the same page. It is probably best, though, since it forced me to get up and to get moving today. My calendar was actually clear which can end up being encouragement to sleep in and get nothing done.

Before going to bed last night, Andy and I were discussing when we had gone with Blogging Eric to see Steve Wosniak speak at MCC. I thought that it was a seriously long time ago but Andy was convinced that it was soon after moving back here to Geneseo. So, we opened SGL’s Archives to summer 2003, hit F3 (we use Firefox) and type in Wosniak and instantly, there it was. September 10, 2003. It is so cool to be able to go back and find anything from anytime. I wish that I was writing more back then. As it was it seemed like I was writing a lot but the reality was that the posts were really short. Which is too bad because it really is a lot of fun to go back and see what I was doing and what I was thinking at different points. That was a really cool speach to get to go hear. Wosniak is a giant in technology history. He did so many amazing things during the 1970’s. I have a podcast of him speaking at last year’s GnomeDex and he gaves basically the same speach that he gave in Rochester so it is kind of cool to have a recording of what we had gone to hear. I think that he only does one presentation and he has it down to a science. But it is a really good one and not short at all. Very interesting – although I am sure that it is far more interesting for those of us who grew up around all of the equipment that he designed (and for those of us who can just look over our shoulders and see an original Apple ][ sitting on a shelf!)

I should just not get out of bed in the morning. No sooner do I get up and deal with getting Norm lined up for tomorrow night than I find out that there is no contract and that we haven’t actually been hired to do the work yet. Oh boy. Over the weekend we were thinking that work was lined up for the year and that it was going to be all nice and easy and I wouldn’t have to be thinking about keeping busy until October. The schedule was going to be great and Min and I were going to get to see each other a lot. But now, it turns out, was all smoke up the wazoo. There has been no contract and no equipment purchased for us to be working on. There isn’t even time left for them to do the job if they wanted to on their schedule since they are past the point where they would have to have had things in motion in order to do that. It isn’t the end of the world but it does mean, most likely, that I will have to take work with either RG&E or Corning (if they offer it to me.) I was really looking forward to a three day work week for six months. That was going to make things a whole lot easier around here. What a pain life can be some days.

A British television station today decided to start allowing people to download television shows from their website. However, instead of doing it in some logical way, they decided to charge almost $3 for some episodes of some silly car show that didn’t even end up making it onto the television (just great, $3 for a CUT television episode?) Now, $3 is pretty pricey and we can hope that that is for several episodes. But to make matters worse, they are only allowing the downloads in Version 10 of DRM protected Windows Media format (WMV). This is fine, more or less, except that only Windows XP and maybe 2000 support Windows Media Player 10 and only those machines that are kept completely up to date. And because the files are DRM protected, you are unable to share them with your friends or to move them around or make backups of them (for $3 for a crappy television show, I would expect things to be a LOT nicer than if I had just TiVo’d them myself!) So now we have recorded television that costs a lot of money and doesn’t let you use it in the same, simple, straight-forward way that you would use regular recorded television shows. And not only that, but only absolutely up to date Windows users get to partake? Who do they think is going to watch this stuff? This is an early test of downloadable television programming. I think that that is a great idea and that downloaded television will soon displace regular television because it is a better format and more convenient and does not rely on the cable, broadcast or satellite infrastructure to get the programming out to people. You will be able to get the television programming that you want, anywhere that you want. You can get the same programs when you are on vacation in Pakistan that you can get sitting at home. No one will be limited by the stations that their local cable company chooses to carry. What will actually happen is that BBC America will be the only channel left once everyone discovers how funny My Hero is.

But the biggest problem with this British television station’s plan is that they aren’t targetting early adopters with this fledgling technology. Wingows users, while there are many of them, are not the bleeding edge kind of crowd, generally, that the Linux, BSD and Mac people often are (ok, Mac is often not bleeding edge but there are many BE’ers on Mac too.) These are the folks that you need to tarket with a service like this. MPEG1 or MPEG4 (a.k.a. DivX) make much better formats for downloaded video. Anyone can play them. No spyware or expensive software necessary. If you don’t make early technology available to these users, you will never know if anyone will use it because those who lead with cool, new technologies won’t be there using them.

I moved some stuff out to the archives today (BTW: This quarter has already DOUBLED the total content from any other single quarter and we still have more than a week left to go!) I did an update to the navigation system and, for some reason, now the archives are being shown in a really weird, narrow column. So anyone reading the archives today might have an issue until I get that resolved. Oops. Sorry about that.

I had two yogurts for breakfast (yeah, another $.80) and now I am having some cottage cheese for lunch. I know you are all excited. Wegmans still has yogurt super cheap so be sure to stock up while you have the chance.

Ok, I got the archive issue fixed. That was pretty simple. I also removed the Technorati link on the nav bar because I think that it was pretty useless and didn’t look very good. While I was working on the old archives, I also did a little bit of code clean-up. Some of those old pages are pretty rough. I also downloaded tons of new stuff from IT Conversations. It is unbelievable how much content they have there!

While I was working on the archives I noticed how long ago I was talking about the RX-7. I have had that car for four years now. Four years! I have owned that car about as long as any other car I have ever had. That is a really weird feeling. I got my first car, a 1981 Chevy Monte Carlo in 1992. It had about 110,000 miles on it when I first bought it at age 16. $450 and it ran great. And it had a V-8 as well. That was cool. It was baby blue, that wasn’t so hot. But take some, lose some. That car was really good and it lasted me for a long time. I drove absolutely everywhere in that car. It was huge and seated six adults comfortably – or as comfortably as any car can. Wide bench seats made the middle seats almost usable. It wasn’t uncommon to have five or six people crammed in there. It was so cool.

When I first went to college in Michigan in 1994, I didn’t take my car with me. I can’t remember why, but there was some reason like the cost of parking or something. But when I switched to going to MCC in Rochester I started driving it all of the time again. Somewhere around 1997 I decided to sell the car and use the money to put towards a newer vehicle. By this point the car was seventeen years old and had 200,000 miles on it. It was still running pretty well but it was starting to not look so hot and it was only going to last so much longer. Considering the bad gas mileage that it got, it was time for an upgrade. I sold the car for $500 to Seth Webster who went to MCC with me. The car didn’t last long with him. His friends were really hard on it and it was falling apart in no time. I miss that car. I had that car from the summer of 1992 until fall 1997. Five whole years. At the time that I had this car, Arti was driving his 1972 Ford Maverick Grabber. What a beast that was. And Phil was driving a Ford LTD – what a boat. And Josh, I think, was mostly driving his dad’s pickup. Big monster of a thing. Really old with like a Dodge 383 in it or something like that.

In late 1997 I bought my first Buick. It was a blue 1991 Regal. That was a nice car, quite the upgrade for me (1981 to 1991!!) It had the awesome Buick 3.8L V6 engine. I didn’t like that it was front wheel drive but I knew that I would have to get used to that one way or another. That car was awesome until, suddenly, one day in the winter of 1999 it just decided to incinerate itself (a Viking funeral, as Min would say.) I was driving south on 390 heading to work at the Wellesley Inn in Brighton, right across from MCC. Andy was working the shift before me and I was on my way in to relieve him. I must have been covering for someone that day because I was an auditor and didn’t normally work at all during the day. As I was coming south on 390, I was talking on the phone with Andy at the time, the car starting shaking and having all kinds of issues shifting. I wanted to pull over but traffic was really heavy and no one was going to let me get close to the side of the road. So I was stuck in the center of the highway. The car started going slower and slower as it locked itself into lower and lower gears. Then, suddenly, I started to see a little smoke start coming out from under the hood. I told Andy that I saw smoke and what was happening and he was yelling into the phone “Get out of there man!!” Once the smoke started to billow someone let me over to the shoulder. But until I was stuck on a bridge. So, on 390 South in Gates on the bridge going over either Lee or Lexington, I jumped out of my car and stood on the side of the road watching it burn up. The smoke became black and thick and made it almost impossible for people to drive across the bridge. I tried throwing snow under the hood but that wasn’t about to do anything. Andy had called emergency services from the hotel to get the police and fire department out to help me. A nice truck driver stopped and came over with a fire extinguisher to help me out but that didn’t do much either. There just wasn’t anything to be done. The car was toast.

The worst part of the story is that my dad was on his way to work at Kodak in Greece and had passed going north on 390 and had noticed me with the burning car but didn’t know that it was me because of the smoke and because the car looked black. So he didn’t circle around to help and I had no one else to get me to work. And it was rather cold out too. So a friendly policeman (actually the term nice might be better since he helped me out but he definitely wasn’t happy about doing it) drove me up to Kodak and dropped me at the “Theater on the Ridge” where I was able to contact dad and he drove me down to work. What a day that was. Since that time, Dominica (whom I didn’t know until years later) has had her old K-car die in the same way and so has Nate with his more recent late 90’s Buick. Luckily, I was insured through Progressive who took care of the whole thing without any hassle at all. I actually got more money that I figured the car was worth out of it.

So I bought another Regal to replace it because I had been so happy with the last car. This one was a 1992 Regal GS. The GS is the sport wheels and suspension package that they had back then. Same engine but the car rode and handled better. That car did much better and lasted until I bought the RX-7 in 2001. But I didn’t get rid of the Regal then, I had both. The Regal wasn’t replaced until I got the 2002 Mazda PR5. And even then I kept three cars until I sold the Regal the following spring because I got the PR5 just as winter was coming on so I garaged it until the weather was nice. So the second Regal lasted, for me, from 1999 until 2002. Almost three years but with overlap with the PR5. I sold the Regal to a girl from York High School as her first car. She was sixteen at the time, I believe. I think that she is in college now and I know that she still has the car and drives it around York from time to time. It appears to still be running well. It had almost 200,000 miles on it when I sold it.

I kept the PR5 only until the middle of 2003 when I traded it up for the Mazda 6 that I am driving now. My car seems so new but I have actually had it was a while now. About a year and a half. Although out of that time, to be fair, one month was spent without a car and one month was spent driving John’s Camaro. So really, the RX-7 only has the Monte Carlo to compete with in terms of longetivity. And the RX-7 is way cooler.

Min got her car in December, 2001. So we have had that for almost three and a half years. That has been a great little car for us. It has really treated us well. Even though it has been a major expense for us, I am glad that we have had it. It has been important to have reliable vehicles all of this time. And it should be paid off in just a year and a half from now. That will be a nice feeling. My car still has a while to go. But the loan is at 0%, so that isn’t such a big deal.

I went outside to get the mail this afternoon and realized that it is totally amazing out there. I really wish that the courses were open, I would call Josh and see if he wanted to get a round of golf in. The sun is shining and it is warm and there isn’t a lot of wind. So I decided that I needed to get outside and get that excercise that my doctor keeps talking about. I loaded up Andy’s iRiver MP3 player with some good content and headed on out the door for some fun in the sun. Well, at least a nice walk.

Okay, before I left I managed to discover one of the weirdest ideas for a website ever. It is not necessarily appropriate because it is just people calling in to a publicly available audio blogging telephone number. But it is really hilarious. For those of you who can get to it, you have to check out this site. Maybe I will start compiling the funniest parts because it is REALLY funny. The info about them is over at SGL2. I did some searching and discovered a really cool site called which has a directory of podcast “stations” where you can get tons of cool stuff. I am sure that if we all dig through there that we can find some really amazing stuff. And tons of crap. I already found a really cool podcast called “Teachnology :: Technology with an ‘A'” I am going to be trying that one out.

I was really late getting my check out to our disposal company again. They know who I am when I call. I have to tape the check to the door tomorrow for the guys to get when they get the trash. How lazy am I? Like I couldn’t have gotten that in the mail over the weekend.

While I was out walking I ran into my neighbor Linda. She owns the townhouse that shares the wall with mine. She said that she was down in her basement this morning and discovered a crack in the foundation that we can only imagine is from all of the blasting that Walmart has been doing. Now we all have to check our basements really closely to see if we are having issues as well. What a pain this is going to be. Who knows how we deal with something like this. Is it just an insurance issue? Is it the builder’s problem because the house is only two years old? Is it Walmart’s problem because they are damaging houses? I hate having to deal with this kind of stuff.

I ended up walking around town for about an hour. I went straight down Highland to Oak and around the block that way. The weather is really, really nice. It must be awesome for all of the Yorkers who just got out of school and our now on Easter Break.

Today is the first day that I have ever been sitting in my office in the basement and suddenly heard my own voice coming from the room above me. I guess Min is taking the initiative to read SGL. Maybe the audio posts are peaking her interest. She woke up while I was out walking and was already out of the shower by the time that I got back.

I have to stay up late tonight because we are beginning work tomorrow at Wegmans and I want to shift my schedule a little bit before I go in. So I am planning on sleeping in in the morning (that means don’t call me first thing in the morning, Eric.) So I called Jeremy to see if he wanted to come over and hang out tonight (officially to study for his A+ exam but can I help it if some AoE2 gets played?)

I have a pretty bad cold today. Really congested. Min said yesterday that I had a cold but I didn’t have on yet. I think that she cursed me. Min started blogging today with her very own site Mad Knitter. Welcome to the Blogosphere honey.

Dad came over at 5:00 and the three of us went out to Denny’s for dinner. I think that every single waiter, waitress and manager there knows who we are. We eat there SO often and we are about the only vegetarians in town so they really remember us (I almost always get the mini-burgers with the meat replaced with boca burgers.)

After dinner, Min and I watched What To Do In Case of Fire, a German film about a group of friends who build a bomb in 1988 that doesn’t go off until 2002 and then blows up a building in Berlin. Now they are hunted by the police and they have to figure out what they are going to do. It was an interesting drama. Very different than most films but isn’t that what I always say about German films? It was good; we both liked it.

I got Jeremy at 10:00 and he came over to hang out. I am planning on staying up pretty late tonight because I have to work the overnight tomorrow night and I want to shift my schedule as much as possible. While he was here he managed to discover the Llama Song that I have posted at the top which is one of the funniest and most apropos things that I can imagine for this site so I put the link at the very top of the page and plan to leave it there, at least for a long time. It is from Albino Blacksheep which is a really cool site.

Jeremy and I decided that we could not resist playing a round of AoE2. It has been a month, I think, since we last got a chance to play.

We managed to get in two games before the night was through. Actually, we managed to get two games in before 2:00am! I won, of course, I am the master. The first game went really well and Jeremy did really well. The second one I got the jump on him and that was the end of that.

Jeremy posted his first audio post tonight to his (or is it) website. His posted immediately but both Eric and I had to wait an entire day before our first audioposts came through.

I found a new, free RSS feed aggregator for Windows tonight and I am trying it out. I also got Feedburner set up for SGL2 so you can use that to easily link to there. Eventually there will be an RSS feed for SGL as well, but that might be some time in the future yet. I am not ready to put that kind of work into modifying this page. I have all those back years of dailies that would need to be converted over to XML. Oh, the horror! [Everyone say it with me: SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!!] I would have to come up with some storage format for the site as well. There is just too much work involved for me to be thinking about doing it now. And I am just learning a lot of the cool features that I would want to have incorporated into the site when I redo it.

I tasked Jeremy this evening with copying down all of the lyrics to the Llama Llama song. We had that song playing over and over again for the longest time. That is definitely one of the funniest things that I have ever heard. I am going to save the lyrics for tomorrow – but I expect everyone to learn how to sing the song. Eventually we will record a bunch of our own readers singing the song and make that version available on the site. That might be even funnier than the original song.

Everyone needs to check out the new website dedicated just to talking about Blogging Eric: Eric Is An Even More Giant Poop Head!

I think that if I was to write anything else to the site, things would just start to get silly. So I am going to go retire and become a duck.

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