Wow, it has been about 6 weeks since my last update. So much has happened since them. I'll try to hit the high points.
Most notably, I got a new job back in early September, working for NetResponse. Almost immediately thereafter, NetResponse was acquired by iXL. I had no idea that the acquisition was almost a done deal when I interviewed... it'll take some time to see what all the effects are, but without a doubt, things are changing fast.
I bought a DigiTech RP7 effects processor. It was pretty cheap (under $300 if I remember correctly) and sounds great. There are some limitations - specifically, you can't use two different modulation effects at the same time. So that means, no chorus + octave combination is possible, and that's the sound I wanted in the first place. Still, it sounds great, has just about every major and minor effect (phaser, volume pedal, wah, in addition to the usual reverb, distortion, delay, etc), and it's small and simple, so there's not a giant rack to lug around nor a bunch of little cables that can pick up hum or wear out causing iffy connections. It is not entirely solid-state; there is a tube inside for "that tube distortion sound" which some (including me) really prefer over solid-state distortion circuitry.
I have been playing guitar at Fiid's house lately. In fact, it's Fiid's guitar and amp I have been playing through. That's right, I have a $1000 bass rig, a $300 effects pedal, 4 basses and an acoustic guitar (about $3500 new all together, including the Rickenbacker which was free), and I still go over to somebody else's house to play. It's because I don't have an electric guitar right now. I think I may end up selling off some instruments soon... there are reasons I hang on to all of them, but I'd like to thin the herd down to 2 or 3 well rounded, kick-ass instruments, instead of a bunch of nice but not-too-versatile ones.
I've purchased a new PC system (for Linux of course) from NetRam. It's decent, although I am told I could have built up the machine myself for about 20% less. Since it was just over $500 and I don't really care much about following the PC hardware market, I think I did all right.
I have my home network set up a bit better than before. Specifically, there is a cable modem from Cable TV Arlington in the living room (that's the most convenient place to plug anything into the cable-TV cable) and then Ethernet runs throughout the apartment. I considered running a cable from a splitter in the living room to the office, but this way I get to have Ethernet in the living room (there's a hub there too).
I have recently started on a couple of development projects in my Copious Free Time, which are progressing at a predictably glacial pace. More news about those when they actually do something.
I also rewrote my web site mirroring script, which is responsible for copying the White Mountain web site from my Linux machine at home (where it is built by Kim and me) to the machine it is hosted on, at Heller Information Services. It originally was based on tar and diff, but that worked so poorly (different versions of diff here and at Heller, and I couldn't get them in sync well enough to work) that I gave up on it.
Instead, it now is a perl script which uses find to get a list of changed files since the most recent upload; it then tars them together (gzipping it in the process, since I have GNU tar at home as a part of the standard Red Hat distribution), uses scp to securely login to the remote server and copy the file, and ssh to execute a remote gzip -d and ytar piped command line that unpacks it. I copied the public encryption key from the local machine up to the server, so it never even asks for a password. (No I would never give all this info away for a commercial site, yes I know this is a minor risk but who would bother to hack my site knowing that I always use SSH and there's nothing of value to steal anyway?)
There is still a flaw in this scheme, in that it doesn't notice if you delete files from the local server (it ought to see this and remove the corresponding file from the remote server). I will take care of this eventually but it's not a big priority.
Thanksgiving was a lot of fun. I went to Richmond, VA (as always) and had dinner with my parents and their extended family. This time it was at my uncle Dave Stovall's house, which is immense. It's a 6 bedroom house with a 4-tier backyard... I didn't get to see it in daylight so I couldn't see all the way back to the end of the yard but it looked cool. I still like modern architecture but this was a very nice place.
I visited with my friend George Greaney. He is doing well, and has just bought a house. Unfortunately my lack of prior notice meant that he had other plans and couldn't come and goof around with us in Richmond. :(
So Kim and I went to the Science Museum of Virginia, which I haven't been to since sometime in the 80's. It's not all that different, although the exhibits have changed. It was a ton of fun, not just from nostalgia. There was an aerodynamics exhibit which was interesting, because it was almost exactly the same as what I did in middle school for a science fair - a demonstration of lift on the curved wing we all know and love. There was also an electricity exhibit, which was cool because the phenomena it demonstrated were the same ones I was learning the mathematics of while studying electrical engineering at GWU. There was a physics exhibit demonstrating things like inertia and conservation of momentum. There was a chemistry exhibit upstairs with an explanation of the effects of hydrocarbon molecule structure on material stiffness, which was really cool. And there was an optics exhibit upstairs with lasers, fluorescence, diffraction, and all that stuff illustrated so that the average joe could get the idea. They closed right as we got to the optics stuff so we had to go.