Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Too much sun

Too Much Sun

Dwell: The long wait is over...

I truly have become addicted to Dwell, reading issues over and over again, trying to extract something new from them.

Yesterday, after a seemingly endless wait, March 2007 arrived.

Dwell -- March 2007


Call me in a month.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Kathy Sierra and the Serendipity Factor

I try and avoid the "me-too" factor that has dominated the land of blogs for most of the time I have been involved in it. Simply aping one persons comments with a slight variation, or personal interpretation doesn't add much to the initial thrill of finding the original germ of an idea.

Kathy Sierra, someone who has been quoted and analyzed multiple times in this blog, has hit another double to the wall. She talks about the value of serendipity, randomness, in exposing us to new ideas and concepts, ones that we would not have run across in our siloed, standardized lives.

Yesterday was a great example of this for me. Something I read a post on Notebookism that spoke of outsider art or Art Brut. I looked it up on Wikipedia, and spiralled into a 90-minute voyage of discovery into this genre of expression, fueled not by training and ideology, but by a raw, unchecked need to express the world in an artistic way.

I would have never gone down this path unless I had read the Notebookism post, and would have been hard-pressed to find structured explanations (whatever you may think of them) of the topics without Wikipedia.

As I explore myself, and examine the foundations that support my cracked mental structure, I find that I appreciate the random explorations far more than a formal education process. I don't learn the way that we have been taught.

I prefer to discover.

And when you get right down to the basics of Kathy's post, that's what she is saying. People are far more enthusiastic, receptive, and amazed when they discover something for themselves.

It may be an old idea to you. I may not interest you. But when a person gets that gleam in their eye, that rush in their mind, when they get the "WOW!", then they are committed.

Personally, I am finding that I am having a lot more WOW! moments lately. The combination of therapy, and my medications, has forced me to look at the world that I live in, and the world that I have created, substantially different than I have for the last 15 years.

I am re-discovering the joy and awe of discovery. There is so much out there that gets left behind when your mind is absorbed, consumed, by a single devouring purpose. I am awakening from that period, and finding that my mental indigestion requires the soothing relief of the new and unexpected.

Monday, January 29, 2007

She likes this one...

Samantha says this one is the best one so far.

Straining for the Light

What do you think?

Flickr and GIMP: Some mornings...

Some mornings, the world looks like this.

Radiating X-Rays

I love my medications.

GrabPERF Outage: 05:00 - 11:00 GMT, 30 January 2007

Our colocation facility will be undergoing a power outage tonight/tomorrow morning. I apologize for this, but I'm not the only one it's affecting, and no one is happy about it.

UPDATE: Power Outage has been re-scheduled. I will post another notice/banner when this date has been passed on to me.

Technorati tags:

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Is Latin finally a dead language?

Just read a story on the BBC site where the chief Latinist (new word to me) bemoans the death of Latin. [here]

Although I would be the first to admit that the teaching of Latin has little relevance in today's world, I found my lack of Latin a serious hindrance when I was considering the study of Medieval English History in graduate school.

It was offered as a course in high-school, by correspondence only. I often dreamed that I attended one of those brutal old English boarding schools, if only to receive some semblance of a highly impractical liberal and classical education.

I share Father Reginald Foster's despair over the loss of Latin to our culture. The foundations of who we are, our political and legal structures, are found in Latin (Roman and Medieval; and yes there is a difference), and in Classical Greek. And those items that the Catholic Church tried to hide or destroy, the cultures of the East, and Islam held on to.

Losing the base languages of our global cultures leaves us with poor translations, interpretations of what was said, filtered through the passage of time.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Photography: Need some help

I am starting to play with a variety of effects to manipulate some of the photographs I am taking with my new camera. I have created four modified versions of the original below. The modified pictures can be found here.

I would love to get comments from folks, either here, or on flickr, telling me which one they like best.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Mythbusters: Buster's Replacement?

For those of you who are addicted to the mayhem and destruction of Mythbusters, Buster is a beloved, if unfortunate, member of the cast.

Well, Buster may be out of a job.

Apparently, a guy in Minneapolis managed to prove not one, but two myths in a single 10-12 second period [here]. Namely:

  1. A person can break through a piece of tempered plate glass with a single impact, thereby exiting the building above ground-level
  2. An awning can slow a person's a 17-storey fall enough to prevent said individual from being killed after exiting the building through a broken window (See #1 above).

Mr. Savage and Mr. Hyneman, give this damn lucky person an award!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Flickr: My Photo Mods

I am starting to play with Gimp and some of the photos I have been taking with the new camera.

This is my favourite mod so far. I call it Altar of the Everyday.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Technorati: Some days you get the bear...

Dave Sifry and his team have been very good to me. You know, bite the hand, etc.

But I got up from my afternoon siesta, and found this,

GrabPERF Technorati Borked Jan 19 2007

And when I finally did get a copy of the page...

Technorati Borked -- Jan 19 2007


Wonder what a Technorati Monster looks like....

UPDATE, 17:19 Jan 19 2007: Technorati sites are back up. Good to see it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

My code is like a tank

Chatting with a friend in Australia, and I came up with this gem: "my code is like a tank".

It's slow, but built to withstand any sort of shit and abuse. I was describing the code that underlies GrabPERF. It was built to be ignored for long periods of time, performing a lot of self-maintenance.

Kodak Z612: The first picture

I am no photo geek, but we finally buckled down and bought a real digital camera: the Kodak Z612.

And here is the first picture out of the camera.

Kodak z612 -- The First Picture

Technorati tags: , , ,

Telecommuting and Career Advancement

The Network World article on telecommuting appears to be getting a lot of play this morning on the RSS feeds.

I agree with Daemon at the Web Worker Daily: Yeah, and your point?

I learned a long time ago that I would NEVER be happy as a do-nothing management hack (whoops! did I say that out loud?). Career advancement to me is an out-dated way of life, and those that are desperately hanging on to this ideal are this generation's answer to The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit or The Organization Man.

What does career advancement mean in a world that is mobile, engagement-based, driven by accomplishment, not by success? Career advancement is a growth in the respect in which you and your skills are held. Titles become meaningless; generating buzz and delivering on it are what define your success.

Time to raise the controversy element: The people who see telecommuting as a career negative are those that can only survive in a herd. Those who cannot generate their own motivation. Those who need to be away from themselves, to not hear the voices in their heads.

[Cartoon: Hugh MacLeod]

Some of the people I hold in highest regard have no title, and would be seen by corporate types as "drop-outs".

Guess that makes me a drop-out. Bully for me.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

GrabPERF: Digg Measurements Disabled due to Firewall

I have had to disable the Digg measurements in GrabPERF as a number of the monitoring locations have been blocked by the Digg firewall.

Technorati tags: , , ,

Flickr: Escaping Golden BC

I spent my entire life escaping from Golden. It's a much different place, 20 years and one massive ski resort development later.

But, as you got on the Trans-Canada Highway to leave, hopefully for the last time as a 25 year-old grad school dropout, you looked over your left shoulder, and saw this.

[Photo: raarky]

An eerie beauty...the sterotypical vanishing point, where man gives up control to the wilderness he has carved a town from, where the land rises, and swallows your ego.

Technorati tags: , , ,

Flickr: When the cable breaks...

When I lived in Victoria, BC, there was always a ship idling in the harbour, engine turning over, a low steady hum that was always there when you went to the water.

Well, they have built an on-shore power plant for that ship, and it looks like they may have brought in a new one, but the vessel is always there...waiting.

[Photo: Alistair Howard]

When a cable breaks out in the North Pacific, this ship is gone in an hour. Apparently there are cable repair ships stationed all over the world...waiting.

Here's Neal Stephenson's article on the first segment of FLAG, and the whole submarine cable business.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

TechCrunch: Ever heard of HTTP Compression?

It's always funny when somewhat tech-savvy folks purposely make their bandwidth bills higher than they need to be.

Here's TechCrunch's HTTP header response.

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2007 16:02:23 GMT
Server: Apache/2.2.3 (Debian) DAV/2 SVN/1.4.2 PHP/5.2.0-8 mod_ssl/2.2.3 OpenSSL/0.9.8c
X-Powered-By: PHP/5.2.0-8
Status: 200 OK
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
Content-Type: text/html; charset="UTF-8"

Compression Gains

Port80 Software's Compression Checker gives us some idea how much bandwidth Mr. Arrington, et al. could save just by activating this little feature, which comes baked into Apache 2.2.x.

Turn. On. Mod_deflate.

Nissan: RFID Helps Pedophiles

Ok, now that I have your attention...

Nissan has a test program in Japan that is placing receivers in cars to alert drivers when children wearing special RFID/WiFi bracelets are in the area. This is supposedly for the protection of the children. [here]

Do you see a few problems with this, mainly due to the naivete of the implementation?

Pedophiles can't live near schools or parks, or other places where children gather. Now they will not be able to buy Nissan vehicles, for it could be used as a hunting rather than tracking tool.

The tracking bracelet idea sounds good on paper, but it is extremely naive, and likely will never appear in the US, or any other half-sane nation.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Crowsnest Pass: Memories in my blood

It's the places that you go when you're a child that stay with you for your whole life.

My grandparents lived their entire lives in the Crowsnest Pass. This narrow, sometimes forgotten section of the Rockies emptied itself of its coal to feed the engines of Canada and the world for more than a hundred years.

My grandfathers, and my great-grandfathers, all gave their lives to the dirty work of ripping this black gold from the bowels of the earth. Their bodies showed the scars of a life lived in darkness, straining to pull themselves through another day.

When it got to much, they drank. They fought. They dreamed. Some escaped, some took their own lives, many just survived.

The Alberta side of the Pass -- no one who has spent any time in the area ever uses "Crowsnest Pass" -- is slowly dying. The generation who mined underground is dying away. The next generation, and the one after them, has taken to tearing the tops off mountains in BC.

Or they just left, like my parents did. They empty carcasses of a life abandoned for economics are still there.

I was back there this summer for the first time since 1999. It has come a long way, but their is an aura, a feeling that the end is near. All the money from Calgary can't save them. The old, independent life, the hardened bitterness, the brutal economics of coal that bred a people that accepted all into the brotherhood of the black gold, is gone.

There was a bluff outside the Pass community of Coleman, full of what the locals called "black diamonds". I'm not sure if it was jet (made from extra compression on some of the coal deposits), or obsidian (from the volcanic activity that dominated the area in previous epochs). Sometimes, if the light was right, you could see the light reflecting off the pieces showing through the bluff.

Then, about 15 years ago, in order to straighten the highway and let more huge trailer trucks roar through Coleman on their way to the rest of the world, the bluff was blown away.

Sometimes, in the rush of time, the memories in our blood get blown away, each individual event glistening in the sun one last time, before being scooped up and swept away.

Flickr: Dead Tourist Attractions

In Victoria, BC, double-decker buses have been used as tourist icons of a faux-english heritage for many years.

Here is what happens when these wonderful old beasts outlive their usefulness.

They deserve a better fate than this.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Flickr: HDR and Victoria, BC

I have recently discovered the amazing beauty of HDR (High Dynamic Range) images. The amazing vibrancy of the colours seems to fire of the neurons deep in my brain.

And tonight, I found a photographer who is experimenting with HDR pictures of Victoria, BC [here]. The places I know, exploding my crazy mind, reminding me of the vivid way I see the world.

Check it out. See Victoria the way my mind sees it.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

GrabPERF: Digg needs a new search engine

Every day, the Digg search measurement times explode.

Digg Search Performance -- Jan 12 2007

Maybe they need to look at that code again...

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Thursday, January 11, 2007

GrabPERF and Technorati

You may have noticed some subtle changes in the GrabPERF interface over the last few days. I have been tweaking the layout, of only beause I have a weird screen size (1280X800) and some of the text was falling off the bottom of the short screen.

One part of the update you may miss if you aren't looking is in the top right-hand corner: I have changed the copyright statement to reflect the new owners of GrabPERF

In April 2006, Dave Sifry and the team at Technorati, who have been hosting the service and supplying the hardware since November 2005, bought the service.

I want to thank Dave and his team for putting up with me (I can be a real pain in the ass, especially from 3,500 miles away) and supporting GrabPERF in such a positive way.

Technorati Tags: ,

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Monday, January 8, 2007

Quiet now....

I have been very quiet lately, simply because I haven't had much to say.

As well, I have been in the middle of a post-holiday depression. I love bipolar.

Tags: ,

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

My Personal Logo

Everyone should have a personal logo.

Here's mine.

SMP Personal Logo

Technorati Tags: , ,

Buildings that suck

I have been watching Sketches of Frank Gehry in a piecemeal fashion over the last two weeks (kids, in-laws, Christmas, etc.). Despite what you think of Gehry or his buildings, you have to admire the process that a true architect goes through to create a new building idea.

As Bob Geldof says in the film, quoting Auberon Waugh: "If you ever meet an architect at a party, you should punch him in the face".

I work in a building that sucks. As Kathy Sierra states: "I want a space that matches my enthusiasm". This space drains me. And when I look around me, I have no hope for any of the other buildings out here in suburban hell.

How can an architect reach the point where generic is good enough? Where looking the same is the best that can be done?