OK, I haven't updated this site for a really long time. My attempt to embrace CSS (style sheets) and dynamic fonts (the Netscape version) met with technical dificulties: specifically, browser bugs. So although I remain convinced that CSS is cool, I am starting to see why the entire world has not embraced all the new 4.0-level browser features. Don't even think that I am advocating IE, I'm not that short-sighted.
For now I have changed the look a bit and moved some sections around. Nothing major has changed. Lots of deep pages are missing and things don't all look uniform yet.
So anyway here is the latest update.
I am still playing the bass, at least an hour a day. I just got a new acoustic bass guitar (not a double bass like in an orchestra, it looks like an acoustic guitar but it is a 4 string bass) at Foxes Music in Falls Church, VA. I stopped playing in live bands a year and a half ago because the people I was playing with were pretty deeply into various forms of substance abuse and I was having trouble with the peer pressure / bad influences, so I had to remove myself from the social scene entirely.
I was also unsatisfied with the creative and performing role of the electric bass in folk-rock, which is what I was playing. It's compositionally simple and repetetive, certainly accessible for the audience, and open to lots of improvisational expression, but one can only play the same 25 songs for so long before all the variation disappears and it's the same every time. I have a lot of skill in terms of speed, accuracy, and music theory, and I have spent the past three years studying the art of improvisation, but the music I was playing was not interesting anymore. "Prog" (70's style progressive rock) and jazz fusion are my current interests and I don't know anyone who plays this stuff.
I have a lot to learn about the art of composition, and my current plan is to study it on my own with computer-based music software, and release whatever I come up with as freely downloadable songs. The eventual plan is to start a band of my own but I am far from ready, both confidence-wise and material-wise. In the mean time I may join a local pop band of some sort in order to get my live jollies, but to do that I have to manage my personal time better...
Most importantly I will never stop making music, it's not a hobby I will drop, it's part of my identity. I may not play bass forever but I will do something musical for the rest of my life. So not being in a band today doesn't really bug me.
I have a red 1995 Acura Integra, purchased used (last year) from Radley Acura. It's fast, but not too fast for my own good. I have wanted an Integra since 1989 and finally was able to afford one, but I didn't expect to spend more than $5,000. I didn't like any of the used ones I drove and went to Radley just for the heck of it, to see what they had. What they had in my price range was as tired as all the other 89-92 models I had driven, but on the way off the lot I asked to drive the bright red one which was parked in front of the dealership, which was (I thought) out of my price range even with financing. I was wrong, they took care of financing it within my budget requirements and I drove it home a couple of hours later.
I still live in Northern VA, in an apartment. I am looking at houses for rent in this area but none in our price range are really enticing -- they're acceptable but that's about it, and our current apartment is fairly nice, so it's not very enticing. Based on my income, I should theoretically be able to afford a higher rent payment than I'm looking at now, but for some reason :) it all disapears. So I'm working on controlling my finances more precisely, i.e. no more wasting money on things I don't really want, so I can afford more things I really want. My employer currently provides an investment plan and I expect to increase the amount of my income that goes into savings soon too, so my take-home pay will decrease for the immediate future. It will probably be a few months before everything is stabilized and I have an updated picture of what I can afford, so unless we find a real steal, we're staying put for a while.
Additional Computer - Running Linux
I just bought a used PC from work - a Dell Dimension XPS P166s - for the express purpose of running Linux. Man, is Linux cool. It has some catching up to do in the areas of business productivity software, and ease of use, but that is not to say that it lacks software (there is a HUUUUGE amount of software for Unix out there, and a lot specifically for Linux) and the included documentation is very nice, so even the complicated stuff is documented.
I have what I would describe as "intermediate" TCP/IP knowledge, based on some reading and lots of practice, and I was able to get the Linux machine at home installed with Red Hat 5.1, and to act as an ISDN router using PPP and IP masquerading in a few hours, within the space of a weekend. The IP masquerading part was the only difficult bit, that took several hours by itself because everything seemed to be configured correctly but it just didn't forward stuff. A bit of reading the IP Masquerading Home Page and in 5 minutes it was working. Woo hoo!
Still, I couldn't have asked my wife to get it working, although she can do Windows 95 and MacOS PPP configuration. Once the installers get a teensy bit more consumer-ized, and more programs like Star Division StarOffice are developed and gain acceptance, I think many offices may see Linux creep in through the back door and push out Windoze.
I should also note that Java works very well on Unix and Linux in particular, so developers who embrace 100% Pure Java also ride the tide of Linux...
I still use a Mac at home and at work, and I am substantially more Unix-aware now. I have spent the past 1 1/2 years working with Windows NT 4.0 in the roles of web application server, desktop OS, and file and print server, and it is poor at all three. As a file and print server it is expensive and has pointless complexity and limitations. As a desktop OS it is unstable both over time (it gets super slow, things stop working, and after a few weeks certain things become cursed and from then on will reliably produce the Blue Screen of Death, so you have to reboot) and when you install software (you have to reboot every time you install anything, and often installing a Microsoft product breaks the OS so it can't boot and you have to reinstall everything all over again). And as an application server, which is Where Microsoft Wants You To Go Today, it is terribly unstable and exhibits serious design flaws that interfere with performance and development efficiency.
Unix is better in every way including the less often considered areas of documentation, vendor choice, availability of experienced system administrators, and TCO. But Macs still make good desktops, and pretty good NC's (which is how I do most of my work). With luck, the current backlash called reality not matching up to Microsoft marketing claims will continue and people will stop believing that advertising claims = gospel truth.
I just got back from a week at Rehoboth Beach, DE. The company got a house for a week, and I was there the whole time. We saw the 4th of July fireworks display (in case you're from outside the US, that's the U.S. Independence Day holiday), although it was held on the 5th of July for some odd reason. I had a good time, did some partying, bodysurfing, got crushed at Stratego by Pax, found a kick-ass furniture store (the pictures do not do the furniture justice, it's awesome stuff), bought and read some books, drove Go-Karts aroud a track with some co-workers, and generally got to chill out for a few days.