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August 29, 2002

Yay! We have DSL at home again. It's amazing what a difference it makes. I'm still sick but I managed to get some more unpacking done. Now our new apartment is just a big fat mess instead of total chaos. It's livable, though.

I recently ordered a Korg PX4B bass multi-effects unit, to use as a practice metronome / tuner / clip-slowing-down combination gizmo. It hasn't shown up yet but I'm eagerly awaiting its arrival.

August 26, 2002

I'm sick today. It sux being sick in the summer. Fortunately it's not that hot today (well it is San Francisco after all) and DayQuil is keeping the headache at bay.

I still don't have DSL but it should be working in another day or so. In the meantime I'm using my Apple AirPort Base Station (an 802.11b wireless access point) which has a 56K modem built-in as my gateway. I was previously using the built-in modem on my Power Mac G4, which works but doesn't allow me to read work e-mail (which requires Win2K, don't ask...). I had wanted to use the AirPort but the FreeBase configuration program for Windows wouldn't allow me to type in my whole PPP user name (which is about 25 characters long). I didn't check if this was an AirPort problem or a FreeBase bug and just set up dialup on the G4. As it turns out it is a FreeBase bug... I was able to use the "proper" admin utility from Apple and enter the whole thing. So now I can surf from any home machine including my laptop which has a wireless card. However the AirPort I have (the original Graphite one) doesn't know how to do PPTP so I still can't use the VPN at work. Bummer. The new AirPort does but I ain't buying a new access point just to get it... DSL should be working shortly so that problem will go away. Either way, it's cool to have all my home computers on the net, even if it is hella slow. :)

I am increasingly impressed with Mac OS X. Maybe I'm just getting used to it... that's part of it. It's just not quite as slick and refined in the usability department as Mac OS 9, but it's still pretty darn good. I spent a lot of time learning all the keyboard shortcuts and tweaks and such with the classic Mac OS, and a lot of that stuff is just gone in OS X. But there are some new tricks, and I'm starting to find out about the fun little apps that you can add to make things nicer, like TinkerTool and WindowShade X. I hear that Mac OS X 10.2 has some pretty cool new features.

I think that the coolest thing about OS X is that I still haven't had to get my hands dirty from a system administration point of view yet. I use the Terminal app for SSH and that's about it. Everything else I've done, I've done through the GUI, and it Just Works. Any problems I've had were fixed by updating to the latest version of the OS. I'm very used to having to really reallly understand how the system works in order to use it but in the case of OS X I kinda don't want to have to mess with that. So far, I haven't had to.

August 24, 2002

Kim and I spent most of last night unpacking stuff and putting various things into the attic. It's so cool to have an attic! Anyway, the dining room and kitchen look great now that they're not completely full of boxes. I unpacked some stuff in the office so that I could find my music notebook & get some serious bass practice in. I practiced for about 2 hours last night and 1 hour today. This is all in preparation for my first lesson in a while which is later this afternoon.

I've switched my work schedule from full-time to 20 hours a week. It was not easy to pull this off but fortunately I was able to do so. Now I have 3 days a week off to concentrate on music and getting personal projects done. So far all this extra time has been absorbed by moving or unpacking after the move but I'm very optimistic about having time to practice, re-learn old songs I used to know how to play, compose some new material, join or start a band, and study music theory. It will take a few weeks to get past all the pent-up personal tasks I have but I'm still going to force myself to keep to a schedule that includes a large chunk of music stuff every day that I'm not working. The days that I am working, I'm trying to work 10 hours so I can just work 2 solid days a week, being focused and productive, and spend the rest of time time not thinking about work at all.

August 22, 2002

Here's an entry from the "I don't wanna know" department. Seen on the side of a tanker truck on the Long Island Expressway about a month ago:

MOPAC Rendering Division
Technical Animal Fat
Not Intended for Human Food

Gross, gross, gross, gross. Fuckin' nasty. Eww. Also, poor critters.

August 19, 2002

Norton Ghost is a very useful tool. However, the fact that it relies upon MS-DOS in order to work is decidedly not cool. It's a pain in the butt in an all-Win2K office to have to dig up / create an MS-DOS 6.22 boot disk! Fortunately there is this site full of boot disk makers. Rob had created a Ghost boot disk but (a) the batch file didn't quite work 100% as cleverly as he had intended and (b) there was a media error on the floppy itself. Problem (a) was probably because Win2K's cmd.exe doesn't work in quite the same way that MS-DOS 6.22's command.exe does, so the ERRORLEVEL value that you can test with IF ERRORLEVEL == 1 GOTO FOO doesn't work in DOS so you have to use IF ERRORLEVEL 1 GOTO FOO. This is because ERRORLEVEL is a magic value in DOS that only in MS-DOS 7 and later is copied into the ERRORLEVEL environment variable. In MS-DOS 6.22 you have to test for it in that IF ERRORLEVEL syntax instead. A subtle difference, but one that I figured out and fixed today with some testing. And then there was the media error that forced me to make a new floppy.

Of course, once I made a DOS floppy I had to delete a bunch of stuff to make room for the network drivers so that Ghost could work. Whee. Not something I want to repeat. Image, copy files, test, repeat.

I'm playing with various disk-image-makers now so I don't have to do this whole process again. I just want a GhostBootDisk.exe that will re-create my working Ghost boot floppy. It looks like UnDisker is a decent tool for this, and DiskWrite is a good free tool for writing the images back to floppy.

Still, it's lame that I have to go to all this trouble to make a DOS disk just to image and clone Win2K machines. There has to be a less sucky way...?

Jim Comer has moved to California and on Sunday he and Kim and I went to Comedy Day. It was OK but there were entirely too many jokes about Viagra, the Anna Nicole Smith show, hair loss and penis size, etc. Only a few comics made us laugh very much. I guess you get what you pay for... anyway, it was pretty nice to get to sit in the park and hang out with Jim for a while.

The apartment is still pretty cluttered after the move last weekend but we have made a dent. Some stuff is in the attic; computers are basically hooked up and working; we have the entertainment stuff set up and have watched some TV and movies. So, we're past the camping-out-in-our-own-home stage. But there's still a heck of a lot of stuff to put away.

I'm working 20 hours a week at now (a voluntary change, by the way) and it's pretty nice, although all the free time is being absorbed by post-move housework. Hopefully over the next week or so I'll start to feel like I have some free time to spend on music, which was the original idea. No, I'm not in a band. That's part of the problem - working 60 hours a week doesn't leave a lot of time for composition and rehearsal, as I learned this spring while in the now-defunct project called Axis of Evil. Basicallynone of us had any time for the band so after we made the demo we gave up. It's sad but it was obvious that we didn't have any time for it.

Hopefully with 20-40 hours a week freed up, I can make some progress on studying music theory, practicing to get my technique back to where it was 7 years ago (and hopefully better than that), and composing and rehearsing new music. I have access to some really phenomenal teachers and I feel like it'd be a terrible shame not to make the most of that opportunity, even if it cuts into my disposable income.

August 13, 2002

We're mostly moved! There is no DSL at the new place yet, so I'm using 56k dialup (aaaaaieeee!). I bought over $300 in electrical tools at Fry's and managed to get the phone connected despite some antique wiring with lots of cables-to-nowhere last night. Woo hah.

Getting cable set up today was a similar adventure. The cable installer had to resort to his tone and probe kit (just like I did for the phone) and his super fancy meter to make sure he had the right cable. Apparently there are several jacks in the apartment that go to... somewhere... but not the cable box. Maybe I can fix that sometime later.

It is so much fun making order out of chaos when it's not an uphill battle. Basically we have enough space for all our stuff; all we have to do is unpack it. But we still have 2 or 3 carloads of stuff at the old place, and some details (like DSL!!!) to work out before it's just down to unpacking.

Ash and Turbo are adjusting well. Ash especially seems to like the wide variety of very high places that he can climb up to and look down from. He has pulled several acrobatic stunts just today:

  • 4.5' leap to windowsill

  • Climb up 4 boxes, leap onto 6.5' high shelf in closet, leap down to box and onto top of door/doorsill (which moved, resulting in a 7' jump down)

  • Jump up onto kitty tree, 5' leap across to side of bookshelf, grabbing the top and scrambling up, then leaping back 5' straight onto the top of the kitty tree

  • Leap from kitchen counter to side of cabinets above the counter, scrambling onto top and slinking around in the 6" space between the top of the counter and the ceiling

It's pretty fun to watch. :)

August 8, 2002

We're moving this weekend. So excited! Only 4 blocks away.

Speaking of which, SBC PacBell wanted to take 2 1/2 weeks and charge me $400 to move my DSL. I briefly considered breaking into the central office and switching the wires myself. Anytime any telco whines about deregulation making their life so hard, remember that they are inept, slow, price-gouging bastards, and deserve a shakeup. Only their lobbyists have kept them from being eaten alive for so long.

August 6, 2002

News flash: SBC hires Betty White for their automated phone menus! No, not really. But call 1-800-310-2355 and tell me it doesn't sound like Betty White!