What's New? 2001-01-01

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What's New? 2001-01-01

 Monday 15 January 2001
  Last weekend I had a bit of a difficult time, which I share with you in a piece entitled Weaning Isaac. Actually, it was difficult only for a very short time (much less time than I expected to suffer while making my son suffer). We did the right thing (for us) by waiting until Isaac was two years old, old enough to understand what was going on. He adapted like a champ. Success came at a bit of an anticlimax, after all the worrying about it. (In a related vein, you may enjoy our Birth Plan, which we printed out and hung on the door of our hospital room. The staff said they thought it was helpful.)
 Sunday 14 January 2001
  DVD Player I spent much of my weekend post-family free time upgrading both of my PowerBook laptops from Mac OS 9.0.4 to 9.1. Things went smoothly, but of course there were hitches. The dumbest was a mistake by two separate groups of Apple engineers (three, if you count the quality assurance group): the 9.1 upgrade removes the ability of the FireWire PowerBooks to use their built-in DVD player (according to the Apple DVD Player 1.3). The 2.2 version refuses to install, complaining that one must use 9.0.4 or later (which 9.1 would seem to be to the sane eye). Hey, if Apple can't get their own version-checking code working in an open-ended generic way, how can we expect third parties to have a flying chance at success? I used TomeViewer to manually extract the 2.2 components; installing these restores my ability to view DVDs.

There are very many bug fixes in Mac OS 9.1, most of them intended to provide an even more rock-solid "Classic" OS 9 environment (for legacy applications) in Mac OS X (pronounced "ten"). I've been using the OS X Public Beta and have been impressed with both the UNIX/Mac OS melding in X and the Classic environment. It's not perfect, but I suspect it'll be even better once I install the OS X 1.0 release this March over OS 9.1. I'll let you know.

 Saturday 13 January 2001
Spinning Apple Á propos nothing at all, it's been far too long since we've had a spinning Apple on these web pages. When will the Portable Network Graphic (PNG) format have an animated component? That's the only reason there any GIFs on my web site any more.
 Friday 12 January 2001
  My father is on one of his frequent visits to a friend of his in Florida, a friend who has WebTV instead of a computer. Since I emailed him to check out our Rome 2000 travelogue, I thought I'd use the WebTV viewer software to see how these web pages look on a television screen. I'm quite impressed with how capable their rendering software is, with the choices it makes in translating web pages which are (generally) written for a much larger screen size. While I won't be writing web pages exclusively to WebTV users, I'm very happy to see that they can get most of what I've intended them to see. There are some things their software can't do, dumb things like not understanding the FONT FACE tag, but which I'm guessing their programmers will eventually fix.
 Thursday 11 January 2001
  Whew! It's been quite a week over at the Moscone Center. I've visited for several hours each day, checking out what's new. I replaced my somewhat dead Lantronix fast Ethernet switch with a new one from Asanté, upgraded the cheap 10-baseT cables with gigabit Ethernet cables from Asanté, oogled Formac's ProTV Stereo (TV on your Mac), and been completely baffled by the incredible range of prices for 512 MB RAM (144-pin, 3.3v, PC-100 SDRAM, SO-DIMM, 2-2-2 speed) for my PowerBook Pismo, memory which is offered at a $520 "show special" but appears to be available on the web for $379. This RAM seems to be used by the PowerBook G4 Titanium, which is surely my next purchase.
 Wednesday 10 January 2001
  There was another Michael 'Mickey' Sattler; born about 1495 in Germany. University-educated, he entered the clergy as a monk, advancing to the position of cloister prior. He left the monastery in 1523 and was married. He joined with the Swiss Brethren in Zurich, later presiding over a conference of held at Schleitheim. He was captured by Roman Catholic authorities, tried, and martyred five days later.

Since my web site went up in 1993 several people have come across my web site (presumably by searching for my name) and have sent me book excerpts and recomendations for further readings on this topic. Collected in one place for your perusal is a page entitled Michael Sattler, Anabaptist Martyr.

 Tuesday 9 January 2001

In April of 1996 I travelled to Minneapolis, Minnesota to attend a trade show which was showcasing several pieces of software which our San Francisco-based team had written for a bunch of neurosurgeons in Chicago. Talk about telecommuting before it was in vogue....


In April of 1996 we took a family ski trip to upstate New York, as we'd been doing for years. I don't remember exactly where this ski cabin was, but the properties we rented was usually in Fleishmanns, a few moments drive from the Bellayre ski area. (We spent most New Year celebrations while I was in middle- and high-school at a family friend's house in Woodstock.)

Just before going skiing we celebrated Pesach (Passover), first at my childhood home, the next time at Bob and Carol's house.

 Tuesday 9 January 2001
  If it's January then it's time for the Macworld Exposition in San Francisco. It's a great day to be a Macintosh user. The new PowerPC G4 models - the 733 MHz desktop and 500 MHz Titanium PowerBook - once again have Apple far ahead in terms of raw speed, and with iTunes and iDVD joining iMovie and OS X, in elegance and usability. I've been using iTunes all afternoon; it's just a better MP3 player, and I can hardly wait to see if the CD-burning and ripping features are as easy as advertised.

I nominate the Macworld Conference & Expo site for the Web Hall of Shame under the category of Completely Inappropriate Use of Technologies. What pea-brain decided that a web site devoted to telling us things like when the exhibit hall opens requires Macromedia Flash? Good Lord, people, I know you're trying to look busy, but really! The manager who bought this bill of goods ought to be flogged.

 Monday 8 January 2001
I lived in The Netherlands as a child. When I was four years old my family went on a trip through the Italian Alps - the Tyrolian Dolomites - and we stayed in the village of Cortina d'Ampezzo, where the Olympic games had been not too many years before. Here I first put on skis. According to my parents I was more interested in the cioccolato caldo con panna (hot chocolate with whipped cream) than the slopes.

Three decades later, in February of 1998, on another family ski vacation, I returned to Cortina d'Ampezzo. This time I was a newlywed; it was our first overseas adventure. I can't pretend to remember much about that first trip, but you can join me on the second. We visited the surrounding villages, take cable cars high into the alps, and venture into Venice in the days before the annual celebration of Carnival.

My sister, Felicia, and her boyfriend, Adam, would be coming along, as well as my Mom and her husband, Emil. (And all of us on the same airplane). Fel and Adam lived downstairs from where Rose and I did.)

 Sunday 7 January 2001
It was late February of 1998. My sister and her boyfriend, now husband, were returning from a trip. I had promised to pick them up at San Francisco International Airport. I was going to shave off my mustache and beard anyway (as I do from time to time), so why not dress up as a chauffeur and play with their minds? Rose, new wife, was the photographer for this jape. Come see my guise as The Airport Chauffeur. Would you let this man give you a ride home? I thought not.
 Saturday 6 January 2001
  We spent this evening singing sea chanteys onboard the 1895 schooner C.A. Thayer, berthed at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, at the west end of the Fisherman's Wharf.

In 1895, Danish-born Hans Bendixsen built her in a shipyard located across the narrows of Humboldt Bay from the city of Eureka. She was named for Clarence A. Thayer, a partner in a San Francisco-based lumber company. Plying the waters as a lumber schooner until 1912, as a salt-salmon carrier until 1924 (except during World War One, when she carried fir and redwood to Australia, 1915-1919), as a codfishing boat in the Bering Sea until 1930. Idle during the Depression, she was an ammunition barge for the Army during World War Two, after which she returned to codfishing. With her final voyage, in 1950, she entered the history books as the last commercial sailing vessel to operate on the West Coast.

The National Park Service sponsors these sing-alongs (and many other events) year-round. Reservations are required. Check out their web site for locations, times, appropriate ages, and other notes. For this they say "Sing traditional working songs aboard a floating vessel. Bring a cushion, a mug for hot cider, and join the fun!"

 Friday 5 January 2001
  While adding several new trip travelogues to my Travel section (you'll see them appear in a few days; I'll make specific mention of them on this What's New? page when they're done) I change the masthead ("The Geek Speaks") to a three-dimensional version and add a browser window-width hint. I create my web pages with a general sort of page size in mind and thought it would be nice to show readers what I expect. The pages are still viewable in a narrower window, but they lay out as I compose them if your window is about the size of the hint you see at the top of each of my web pages. Does this help you? Surprise you? Let me know.
 Thursday 4 January 2001
  Phil Hartman Phil Hartman, comic actor extraordinaire, is dead.

It happened eighteen months ago, but I never made a note of it here until today. (I've mentioned the passing of others, such as DeForest Kelley and Bruddah Israel Kamakawiwo`ole, on these pages, so Phil is in good company.)

On 28 May 1999 Phil Hartman was shot to death by his wife, who the committed suicide. She was under the influence of alcohol, cocaine, and an anti-depressant, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Chief Investigator Craig Harvey. She had a blood-alcohol level of .12 percent, well above the .08 percent legal limit for California drivers. The alcohol and the drugs amplified each other's effects, authorities said. (Phil had an over-the-counter cold medicine in his system.)

I enjoyed seeing Phil on Saturday Night Live, 1986-1994, where he played (among others) Sergi Akmudov, steroid-using weightlifter; Beev Algar, in Wayne's World; The Anal Retentive (Chef, Sportsman, Carpenter, and more); Wilford Brimley; Barbara Bush; Russell Clark, senior editor of Sassy magazine; Bill Clinton; Phil Donahue; Michael Eisner; Frankenstein; Helmut, model girly-man in Hans and Franz; Charlton Heston; Saddam Hussein; Jimmy Swaggart; Jesus; Liberace; Mace; Ed McMahon; Ronald Reagan; Frank Sinatra; Susan, the She-Male, in Sprockets; Donald Trump; Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer; the Narrator, Daily Affirmations with Stewart Smalley; and Ed McMahon ("Yesss! You are correct, sir!").

Phil's did voice work on the The Simpsons, doing Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Police Chief Wiggums, famous actor Troy McLure, attorney Lionel Hutz, Judas Ben-Hur, Lyle Lanley, Moses, Mr. Mundt, Smooth Jimmy Apollo, and the Voice of Heaven.

Newsradio group hug

But it was as narcisstic new anchorman Bill McNeal on NewsRadio that Phil made me laugh the most. He will be missed. And of course, all the best to Phil's children; Sean, 9, and Birgen, 6. Your dad was amazing.

 Wednesday 3 January 2001
  SF from space The weather has been magnificent here for the holiday season, and it just gets better and better. Yesterday I took Isaac to the Mission Playground, where it was hotter than in the summertime. Today the blazing sun is streaming in through the windows, enticing me away from contract-hunting.
 Tuesday 2 January 2001
  Roma It's not the easiest thing to write a travelogue during the holidays, but with a bit of late-night work I was able to finally finish the notes and commentary of our autumn 2000 Rome trip. It was my first visit to Rome, although not my first to Italy. We got lucky with the weather; it was November but we had May temperatures. Our motley crew - I'm sure you don't know all of us - had a great time with the tasty food, fortifying drink, great sites, and wonderful people. The Italians were really magnificent to us. Isaac learned a few words and phrases; he still greets people with a hearty "buono giorno" and asks for "pane e burro" at the restaurant table.
 Monday 1 January 2001 - The twenty-first century begins! Good luck to us all.
  It's 01/01/01, a numerically alliterative way to start the twenty-first century (and the third millennium). We continue our New Year's celebrations with our traditional family crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge

This warm day we had an unusually hazy view of San Francisco. A strong breeze made the crossing brisk, but we enjoyed a warm pocket in the north parking lot, where we exchanged cookies and drinks.

Golden Gate Bridge Golden Gate Bridge Our entire family was wearing yellow GoreTex mountaineering jackets; the traveller's friend. Isaac was also wearing his new fluorescent lime green fleece, so he was a toasty warm (and visible) boy. After the 3.5 mile round-trip walk the group made a sort of car caravan to Clement Street for some dim sum. Mmmm. Rose, Isaac, and I drove to West Portal for another traditional of ours, a New Years Day party at a neighbor. By the time dusk settled all of us were tired; returning to our cozy little house and playing on the warm flannel sheets was a great way to end our day.

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