What's New? 2008-07-01

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What's New? 2008-07-01

 31 July 2008
  Quality Assurance and some of Development head on down to Apple's headquarters, 1 Infinite Loop, to use their networking test labs.

Apple, 1 Infinite Loop,
 30 July 2008
  Videoconferencing with the family (at home) while I'm at the office in Oakland:

videoconference with Rose, Lila, and Isaac
 23 July 2008
  After work I jump from BART to MUNI (instead of the canonical walk home) and pick up Isaac from his grandmother's.

San Francisco MUNI Castro Station

Tonight is another train club night, and Isaac is the senior member present. He takes command, makes sure the rails get cleaned, everyone has a chore, etc.

GGMRC: Isaac runs the place tonight

The view of downtown San Francisco from the Randall Museum.

The view of downtown San Francisco from the Randall Museum

For my LEAL duties during Burning Man 2008 I bought a Garmin eTrex Vista HCx, with which I'm playing. At night it switches the display colors to an easy-to-read colors-on-black. Nice.

Garmin eTrex Vista HCx
 22 July 2008
  The Teamsters protest in Old Oakland.

Teamsters' protest, Oakland
 20 July 2008
  It's the start of a busy weekend day, with Lila & Rose at Orphan Andy's, in the Castro. I think our booth got the giggle award, although I must mention that there were at least two other families with children.

Lila & Rose at Orphan Andy's
 19 July 2008
  Mindy, Rose's middle sister, with us at the Randall Museum. It was water day, or energy day, or something.

Mindy at the Randall Museum

One of the vexations about the Randall is the lack of reliable cellular service. I'm guessing the rocky hills behind filter out tower signals, and there aren't many towers on the Castro side. Luckily Marvin, a new GGMRC member, brought a USB Verizon dongle. I plug it in and it just works:

USB Verizon dongle

Here's the view from the north edge of the GGMRC, with the dongle at right. I'm doing Google Maps (for some reason). That's Marvin, strolling towards the valley control panel.

 18 July 2008
  Oakland Farmers' Market, every Friday. It's worth the few blocks walk for fresh fruit and tasty samosas and pakoras.

Oakland Farmers' Market
 17 July 2008
  True Stories (the movie) Following a conversation with a friend from long past I took the time to listen to the Talking Heads' album "True Stories" in its entirety (perhaps the first time in 22 years). I'd completely forgotten the power of David Byrne's compositions. (The movie is a favorite of mine, but it's perhaps eight years since I've seen that.)

What I love most about the songs - and film too - is how the talent of the effort is built upon the oh-so-human experiences of a fictional town in Texas. I'm impressed by how clear and uncluttered the songs are; nothing gimmicky. And I couldn't help but notice, for the first time, that the song Puzzling Evidence is certainly the father (or grand-father) of Chumbawamba's song Everything You Know Is Wrong, especially if you've seen video of the former.

For a while I was living back in 1982. Cool.


In an uncharacteristic post-work burst of organizational energy I smash through my home office mess. I can barely recognize it. Hopefully I can keep this going for a few more days and the place will be ready for a current photo-update. (I've been completely neglecting the office since starting a new job, two months ago. The kids are using that space as their computing center, and it needs to be terribly uncluttered.)


Speaking of housecleaning, for the first time since I started this blog, in 1993, one of the following graphics will not appear at the top of each page:

my browser window is at least this wide

Back in the day, when resolution was low and the user experience was much more varied, I had to give this hint to folks who had their browser window set much too narrowly (or didn't have enough screen real-estate, even at 640 by 350 pixels (!), the EGA standard).

my browser window is at least this wide

My MacBook Pro display is 1920 by 1200 pixels, and I'm sure I'll re-read this paragraph in a few years and be amazed that I was able to work with that.


Okay, a counterpoint to all the geek vibe today: I come home to this domestic scene: Lila, Isaac, and Rose making pumpkins-chocolate muffins. Not two flavors I'd usually put together, but Lila knows her sweets.

Lila, Isaac, and Rose make pumpkin-chocolate muffins
 16 July 2008
  Apple's iTunes has completely screwed up the Consolidate Library feature: instead of incorporating things downloaded during the workday (onto my internal hard drive) into my shared network Time Capsule drive, it's made duplicates of almost everything! Argh!

But, since Apple doesn't allow users to specify default a song filename template, so it'd automatically be named something useful, I have to manually see which are duplicates and which are unfortunately named with a trailing part number, to differentiate a duplicate:

01 There will be darkness on the world.mp3
01 There will be darkness on the world 1.mp3

from a file properly named with a trailing number:

2008-07-16 An Interesting Lecture part 1.mp3
2008-07-16 An Interesting Lecture part 2.mp3

See? Of course iTunes' View Duplicates feature would help, except that when "deleting" a song from iTunes I've found out that the corresponding file on the network drive isn't actually deleted or moved to the Trash. So that's completely useless.

Instead, what I had to do was open up Terminal.app and type

find . -name "* 1.mp3" -exec open "{}/.." ;

to get every folder with a file ending in " 1.mp3" to open up in the Finder. I've never had so many folders open, nor seen such a black cumulative shadow.

That way I can (1) ensure that I'm looking at duplicate files and (2) move them to that volume's trash for later deletion (rather than facing the "This item will be deleted immediately. Okay?" dialog box again and again).

On this particular aspect of empowering the road warrior with is 'tunes: Apple = Fail.

 14 July 2008
  La Cucina Italiana, Oakland La Cucina Italiana, Oakland. Just around the corner from my office. Not a daily happening, but as the occasion calls for it.

I love the color palette they've used, from the saffron in the sign to the very Gypsy darker reds and green, with darker orange highlighting. It catches my eye every time I stroll on past.

I've just noticed that these thumbnails retain the geotagging that the iPhone 2.0 operating system places into pictures.

It's not exact, but I just used GraphicConverter (which puts a geotag icon into the browser) to trigger flying to the restaurant's approximate location in Google Earth. Cool.

[Update: when I'm underground, on BART, or in any other radio-opaque spot, like the basement train layout, the iPhone can't determine its location and omits the geotagging. Just works.]

 13 July 2008
  Here's Isaac looking out of a staged condominium at Corona Heights Park, where we go bicycle riding frequently. It's just below the Randall Museum. There's a community garden, much like the Victory Gardens in Boston, but I'm not sure what the requirements are to participate.

Corona Heights Park

Luckily we have our own gardens, which we attacked this weekend. Rose went all-out, thinning out the ginger. The kids picked the last of the plums from the tree. I did the more pedestrian chores involving paperwork.

 12 July 2008
  Oy! A day running around town. Here's Woody with Lila at Orphan Andy's. Her choice for breakfast.

Orphan Andy's: Woody & Lila

As we were eating, balloons passed on by. The Merchants of Market Street and Upper Castro were decorating the place. Before they were done we had green balloons tied to every stationary object in two blocks in every direction, with a few balloons flying skyward.

Castro: green balloons

Later I get to see three ages of train geeks. Isaac is explaining the current status of some malfunctioning switches to Jim, a long-ago member of the GGMRC. Amusingly, Isaac isn't even near the youngest of the train-heads: we have several 4-7-year-old regulars.


Just as Lila dragged me out of bed this morning for her favorite breakfast, Isaac had opinions as to what would constitute a perfect way to end a train day. I was hoping for something Italian, but here we are at In-and-Out Burgers, in near-by Daly City. (Isaac has been grooving on driving in the convertible in the warm weather.)

In-and-Out Burgers, Daly City
 7 July 2008
  My co-worker James' birthday cake. It was the most moist, chocolatey cake I've had the pleasure to eat in a long, long while.

James' birthday cake

As we're heading home from a late-evening visit to Mitchell's Ice Cream (homemade macapuno, mmmmm), as we're driving through the intersection of Market and Noe Streets, Lila shouts out "Papa, it's The Man, up there!"

The Burning Man atop Cafe Flore, the Castro

I tap the brakes, slide into the first parking spot, and we stroll in the warm nighttime air to check things out. She's absolutely right, there's a smaller version of the Burning Man perched atop Cafe Floré. It seems they're promoting the première of the film Burning Man: Voyage in Utopia at the Castro Theater, in our neighborhood. whatsNewDateEnd()}

 4 - 6 July 2008
  Less than 50 days away from Burning Man, the annual Ranger Orientation Meeting (ROM) held on the event site (in the arid Nevada Black Rock Desert) takes place.

Burning Man 2008 Playa ROM

This year was a wonderful mix of old friends, hot coffee, bacon, conversation, hot springs, bangstix, barbque, and some training for Ranger veterans and alphas (candidates.)

 3 July 2008
  Lila's been really interested in beads lately, so General Bead has seen more of us :-) This afternoon big brother Isaac decided to come along, less for the beads than for the wind through his hair. Luckily they've got a pinball machine, so he's quite happy.

Isaac, pinball, General Bead
 2 July 2008
  Uneventful day at work; working on a scaling infrastructure to Amazon's EC2 virtual computing cloud. It's too bleeding-edge to escape getting cut, so I'm talking to the developers about gaping spaces in the necessary documentation. It's a short week; we're off tomorrow and Friday. I'll be celebrating Independence Day by heading out to the Black Rock Desert with the Burning Man Rangers for training and after-hours shooting with the bangstix crowd.
 1 July 2008
  Woo hoo! Welcome to a new month! The summer is here, what with sun and fog. Lots of interesting things planned for this month: all four digital cameras working again, three video cameras attached to computers, and some minor travel in the works.

Oakland City Center

This is Oakland City Center, where I now work. This week it's unseasonably hot and dry, and though you can't see it in this photo, the smoke from the fires north and south can sometimes be seen and smelled.

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