04 December 2007

You know it's been a long day at the office...

...when your Perforce client connection times out:

(as it does after 12 hours):

03 December 2007

"Investigating the difference between is and isn't."

Wonderful post by Annette Arrigucci on looking outside the bubbles many of us live in.

Found via the always excellent NewMexiKen.

Today's new term...

is dead cat bounce. It's best used in context of the recent market rebound.

Other terms to ponder:
- mortgage-backed-security (MBS)
- collateralized debt obligation (CDO)

08 November 2007

Three reasons to use Firefox on Windows

Above and beyond the extreme suckage that is Internet Explorer, of course.

[1] Flashblock. This plugin "blocks ALL Flash content from loading. It then leaves placeholders on the webpage that allow you to click to download and then view the Flash content." Since most of the ads these days use Flash, this is sublime.

[2] Better Gmail. Bundles a bunch of compiled Greasemonkey scripts to make Gmail clean and efficient.

[3] Better Gcal. Bundles a bunch of compiled Greasemonkey scripts to make Gcal clean and efficient.

Unfortunately, Firefox epitomizes extreme suckage on OS X, so I haven't found similar functionality for Safari or Camino yet. Stay tuned...

21 October 2007

On the road again...

The family just got back in town tonight from a short vacation up in Anniston, AL to see daughter Jennifer, son-in-law Jeremy, and the two dachshunds Oscar and Nacho.

Tomorrow evening, I fly out to Houston for three days at HP-Compaq, returning Thursday evening.

Well, it could be worse: it could be six months in Lynchburg, VA. That was... difficult.

I don't know that I'll be able to see the elementary schools I attended when I lived in Houston, which is kind of a drag. There are a couple of teachers - Mrs. Blankenship, in particular - I'd love to look up and say thanks to. Well, there's always mail or email, I suppose.

I'm also not keen on some Texans, especially the one in the White House, but hey, it's also the state that gave birth to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Freddy Fender, and Los Lonely Boys, so it has its plus side.

If only I were going a little further northwest... ah, someday.

04 October 2007

More Dilbert blog zingers

Okay, so perhaps I spam the Dilbert blog too much, but today's post has some zingers:

I think you can see many problems with this plan. But you have to compare it to the current political process where idiots elect liars to transfer wealth to crooks. How's that working out for you?
At the risk of oversimplifying, our current energy policy in The United States involves shooting bearded people.

Why is it that some of our sharpest and most honest political commentary comes from entertainers (Stewart, Colbert, etc.)?

Hmm, that's actually a good answer for the conservatives who always kvetch about people like Sean Penn (who actually put his butt in a boat in New Orleans and helped out after Katrina) who involve themselves in politics.

To boldly split infinitives...

Came across this, which had an interesting nugget:

The split infinitive has been present in English ever since the 14th century, but it was not until the 19th century that grammarians labeled and condemned the usage. The only rationale for condemning the construction is based on a false analogy with Latin. The thinking is that because the Latin infinitive is a single word, the equivalent English construction should be treated as if it were a single unit. But English is not Latin, and distinguished writers have split infinitives without giving it a thought. Noteworthy splitters include John Donne, Daniel Defoe, George Eliot, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, William Wordsworth, and Willa Cather.

They left out Shatner and Roddenberry: tsk, tsk, tsk...

27 September 2007

Kyl-Lieberman letter to my senators

Senator [Martinez|Nelson]:

I am deeply, *deeply* disappointed in your vote for the Kyl-Lieberman bill.

I do not support any resolution which brings us closer to attacking or invading Iran.

The invasion and occupation of Afghanistan had some dubious merit: we have yet to finish the job there, and the Taliban are returning.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq has turned into a disaster, both for us and especially for the Iraqi people, General Petraeus' wishful thinking notwithstanding.

An attack or invasion of Iran would just make things even worse.

Your actions contribute to the further erosion of all that is good about this nation, and I hope someday you come to see the folly of your ways.

Needless to say, you've lost my vote.

Your constituent,
Richard Albury

20 September 2007

Racism in Jena, Louisiana

Looking over the chronology of events in Jena, Louisiana, I'm struck by a few things:

  • you have to practically be from another planet if you think hanging nooses from a tree in the South is not a racist action

  • if they had expelled the students immediately as the principal recommended, this may not have grown into the media circus it now is

  • it's disgusting that prosecuting people for knocking someone unconscious and then kicking him and beating him is being construed as racist

18 September 2007

Takeshi Kovacs

I'm reading the third Takeshi Kovacs novel by Richard Morgan:

Good stuff, and I came across a quote from Morgan which resonates, unsurprisingly:

Society is, always has been and always will be a structure for the exploitation and oppression of the majority through systems of political force dictated by an élite, enforced by thugs, uniformed or not, and upheld by a willful ignorance and stupidity on the part of the very majority whom the system oppresses.

Yep. Can't say I disagree.

14 September 2007

Reason #127 I despise Vista

I have a shortcut on my desktop to the debug folder for my code - the folder with all the stuff generated by the debug build.

The shortcut is called "Debug - Shortcut"

When I double-click the shortcut, I get an Explorer view of the debug folder, which is actually in


However, Explorer thinks it's in

C:\Users\richard.albury\Desktop\Debug - Shortcut


I can't wait to get a 17" MacBook Pro running Parallels. Vista is an abomination.

10 September 2007

The Dis-Information Society

Good post today by Jim Kunstler. They're almost always good, but he dialed down the vitriol and bitterness on this one. Lack of leadership - and lack of consequences for one's actions - is indeed the root of the problems we face.

In a related topic, I was reading - of all things - a graphic novel version of Reagan's biography on Slate. I should have known things would turn out as bad as they are when - instead of being stood against a wall and given a cigarette and a blindfold - criminals like Oliver North went on to have book signings and talk shows.

I imagine when Rush finally takes one too many prescription drugs - or gets caught soliciting in a men's room somewhere - Karl Rove can fill in.

Is this country great, or what?

Carpe diem

Someone I worked with last week - via email and on the phone - lost his wife last night:

Her passing was not expected and Chris and his two sons were with her at the hospital when she passed... Please think of Kim, Chris and his boys in your prayers.

Damn. All we have is this moment: make it count, and make sure everyone you care about knows it.

03 July 2007

This kinda says it all...

War Criminal Commutes Sentence of Convicted Perjurer at Behest of Traitor

Of course, all this will be obscured once we invade Iran on some sufficiently trumped-up pretext.

The Republicans tried to impeach Clinton over an affair with a staffer - after failing to find sufficient dirt with Travelgate, Whitewater, etc. - but I don't think we'll see the Democrats grow the cojones to try to impeach Dubya, which is what they really should be doing now, what with it being the 4th of July and all...

21 June 2007

Unusual development methodologies

Asshole Driven Development and others from Scott Berkun.

Recollecting some projects in Hell:

Asshole Driven Development = Prizm Viewer (no surprise, given the abnormally high concentration of assholes on this project)

Cognitive Dissonance Development = PDFXpress

Development By Denial = PICTools

Get Me Promoted Methodology = ImagXpress testing: four machines and the involvement of a talented senior engineer later, and I tend to agree.

Those with talent in Hell apparently cope through Learned Helplessness Development, with some even exhibiting Stockholm Syndrome...

Finally, a big shout out to my man Casey: welcome back, and good luck, sir. You'll need it. Pearls before swine and all that.

18 May 2007

Best quote of the day

"The radio business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side."
— Hunter S. Thompson

17 May 2007

Best line of the day

"Program testing can be used to show the presence of bugs, but never to show their absence."
- Edsger Dijkstra, one of the great ones

16 May 2007

Best lines of the day

Linus Torvalds responds to Microsoft patent claims
Surprisingly, it takes him more than one finger.

- via the CodeProject Daily News


Using the GridView is like trying to explain to someone else how to move a third person's hands in order to tie your shoelaces for you.
- Chris Maunder

02 May 2007

28 April 2007

Bill Moyers talking with Jon Stewart

I missed the broadcast, unfortunately, but the transcript has some nuggets:

So, they have a really delicate balance to walk between keeping us relatively fearful, but not so fearful that we stop what we're doing and really examine how it is that they've been waging this.

...you've seen what happens when one of us ends up at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, it doesn't end well.

You know, I think this is gonna sound incredibly pat, but I think you lose your innocence when you have kids, because the world suddenly becomes a much more dangerous place. And you become much more — there are two things that happen. You recognize how fragile individuals are, and you recognize the strength of the general overall group, but you don't care anymore. You're just fighting for the one thing. See and then, you also recognize that everybody, then, is also somebody's child.

Best line of the day, so far*

From Hecate:

...clearly the World Bank still thinks that it can shame Wolfowitz into resigning. They can't; he's George Bush's man and Bush's men apparently are incapable of shame. See, e.g., Alberto Gonzales. You can have their jobs from them when you pry them from their cold, dead hands. An option which becomes more attractive by the minute.

*Post title shamelessly stolen from NewMexiKen.

21 April 2007

Metastable systems

Pound by Pound, Dollar for Dollar, The Complicated Equation for Going Green, via NewMexiKen

I'll regurgitate my comment:

Good article, and it's a good start, but we have a long, long way to go to sustainability, and peak oil and a shift in geopolitical dominance from the US to China are going to complicate things further.

There is a strong likelihood that in some ways it's too late, that a century and a half of large-scale, world-wide anthropogenic change has already set things in motion that will take a century or more to arrest, let alone reverse.

I hope I'm wrong.

In completely unrelated news, I get my first Moleskine today: w00t!

Now all I need is that 17" MacBook Pro and, um, a job, and I'm set!

20 April 2007

Today, we are all Hokies

I've seen a lot of this stuff today.

For some reason, it really pisses me off.

Big surprise, I know: Mr. Angry Used-to-be-young-but-now-middle-aged Man. And ironic, for someone who finds Buddhism so compelling. But I digress...

Maybe I'm pissed because I see it as a way for them to capitalize on the tragedy to sear the Virginia Tech logo into the national consciousness.

Maybe I'm pissed because once people read it, a few of them will be curious enough to go "WTF is a Hokie?" and thereby deeply embed the meme.

Psst, here's a clue: it's an angry turkey. Profound, huh? Yeah, I thought so too.

Maybe I'm pissed because as bad and terrible as the Virginia Tech massacre is, there's some really serious shit going on in the world, much more serious than a mentally ill kid with easy access to weapons taking out 0.128% of the student body (32 / 25,000 as a percentage).

3,300 American servicemen and tens - possibly hundreds - of thousands of Iraqis dead, a war started on lies, the suspension of habeas corpus, warrantless wiretaps, nothing still being done to help the tens of thousands of Americans whose lives were devastated by Katrina and the flooding in New Orleans, etc., and no reaction from the masses, but a good, juicy tragedy that the media can feed on, regurgitate, and feed some more, now that gets people talking.

Throw in Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck and maybe some Anderson Cooper to cleanse the palate and we've got a party.

Maybe I'm pissed because we have to go through this circus of having Gonzo testify in front of a bunch of senators who approved the idiot in the first place. What, did they not realize what an apparatchnik he was then?

Maybe I'm pissed because it's too late to do anything significant to affect the events we've set in motion with respect to global warming and other anthropogenic world-wide ecological calamities, but that's okay, fucking Wal-Mart is only going to sell CFLs now, so that makes it all better, right?

There; I feel better already. I think I'll do what Worst. President. Ever. recommended after 9/11 and go out shopping.

Life goes on, the roads must roll...

PS - this post is caustic, even for me, and I mean no disrespect for Virginia Tech and its alumni, and I certainly mean no disrespect for the victims and their families and friends. The graphic just triggered some profound frustration at people in general missing the forest for the trees.

Marketing gone awry

This is amusing, but I also get a kick out of a couple of the comments:

This is London. Not Boston. I have never met people more grounded in reality and less likely to panic for no reason. You know what most people did during the 7/7 bombings? They went to the pub because they couldn't get to work. The only people that are going to panic about some willy nilly biohazard signs are tourists.

Which is a big part of the reason I love this town.

I lived in London during the IRA bombing campaigns. I expected to be locked out of an underground station at least once every few days because of a bomb scare, and about once every couple of weeks there would be roadblocks stopping me from getting back to my house (I lived in the very center of town). Once , there were two car bombs within a half mile of my house in a period of a few weeks.

Most people were just irritated at the inconvenience of it all, quite sensibly realising that their chances of being run over by a car were enormously much higher than their chances of being bombed.

I don't think you'll see Boston style hysteria about this.

At LIPSinc, we went to a SIGGRAPH in New Orleans and one of our marketing critters got the bright idea to put stickers with our URL everywhere.

This same individual got the bright idea to write our URL on a bathroom mirror in lipstick at a Durham Bulls game and - IIRC - was ejected from the stadium.

Needless to say, I don't miss those days.

15 March 2007

Cool stuff of the last day or so

Rather than inundating my family with stuff I find interesting, I'll just stick it up here.

First up, an interesting post tying eye motion over an image to the task/inclination/psychology of the observer:

[Cognitive Daily] Artists Look Different

David Brin used this in his novel Sun Diver when the crew was trying to identify which one of them was a criminal.

Next, an interesting post on the Cuban educational system:

Vamos A Cuba

Although I know he's the sort of guy who tortures prisoners and executes his enemies - not that we would ever torture prisoners or execute enemies of the state - I have a certain admiration for Castro, because he is also a patriot, and I'll assert the average Cuban has a better life in many ways under him than they did under puppet dictators like Batista. He and Cuba have prevailed in spite of the US embargo, and in spite of the USSR (and its aid) disappearing. It will be, um, interesting when he dies and idiot wanna-bes return to try to take over.

Anyway, enough politics: back to science. Robert Ballard is truly doing some interesting things these days:

[Deepsea News] Webcasting Exploration

Maybe it's just because I'm such a science geek, but this is seriously cool. Finally, a compelling reason for HDTV beyond sports and porn.

Finally, my former employer got the tap on the shoulder to work on the HD Photo format for Microsoft; kudos for that. Of course, their top competitor is kicking their butt with a new product release at AIIM. That's what comes of having your act together in product development, one would conclude. My prediction is that Atalasoft will wind up buying Pegasus one day, but only for the technology. Maybe.

12 March 2007

Clever, he is

You have to love the singlemindedness of 10-year-old boys... voicemail from my son.

I also have to add a plug for the excellent - and free! - WavePad and Switch tools from NCH Swift Sound. I used them to edit and convert the cellphone audio I recorded on the Mac (long story involving a cheap but capable Dell Inspiron 1501 notebook without a built-in microphone).

Sadly, the excellent Syntrillium CoolEdit Pro is no longer around, having been folded into Adobe Audition.

09 March 2007


I saw Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the author of Infidel, on Bill Maher's show some time back, and I was struck by her quiet strength and intelligence. I was looking for something on amazon today and came across her book, and the section on the page with the Washington Post review is well worth reading, even if you never read the book.

While I'm tilting more toward Sam Harris these days with respect to religion - a lot more, in fact, since I've been in Lynchburg - I've always been offended to see Muslim families in the west where the males dress in Western clothes and the females dress in burqas, because this is a clear example of a religion making women inferior.

So, while all religion sucks - except for pastafarianism, of course - Islam, even the "progressive" versions, sucks worse.

25 February 2007

Random thought

I'm watching a History Channel show on the samurai, and they just went over the beautiful armor. The swords are beautiful as well, especially when you see the details of the surface finish. All of which got me to thinking about the general reputation the Japanese have for appreciating subtlety, and I wonder if this is because in a culture where there was a great uniformity of appearance and behavior, the subtle distinctions are not so subtle any more...

DWI, mobile emergency numbers

I came across an article on how New Mexico is setting up a #DWI cell number so people can call in drunk drivers.

I like the idea, so I wrote FHP and asked them if they had something similar in the works.

They don't - write your state representative and senator, and Charlie, too! - but they sent along a couple of useful links.

Florida has *FHP (*347).

There's also a national list of mobile emergency numbers.

Now, if only they'd actually permanently take away licenses, at least on the second conviction. If nothing else, you'd have a growing group of people keenly interested in improving mass transportation...

Tree of Life web project

Another great science site: http://tolweb.org/tree/

Random humorous sayings

God loves you just the way you are... but that doesn't mean he wants you to stay like that.

It's best to keep your troubles pretty much to yourself, 'cause half the people you tell 'em to won't give a damn, and the other half will be glad to hear you've got 'em.

Ain't never seen a wild critter feelin' sorry for itself.

Never lie unless you have to, and if you don't have a damn good lie, stick to the truth.

Cool site: travel videos, aural vacations

Travelistic. Some of the videos are done by tourism agencies, but some are done by amateurs. My favorite, even though it lacks a soundtrack and the video quality is fair, is Canyon de Chelly. I'd love to visit there and Hovenweep and Mesa Verde and about a hundred other spots in the Southwest.

quiet american's one minute vacation Audio recordings from all over the world. Great with headphones.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention John Farr's live recordings, and be sure to check out FarrFeed as well.

Autism, colossal squid

Subjects are entirely unrelated. ;-)

I read the autism post and watched the video after coming across a mention on Ottmar Leibert's blog, and then saw the squid story on a most-emailed list on the same site (which I've now added to Google Reader).

The autism story is one of those things that jarred me. Her commentary in the video made some good points.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Indeed. I of all people should know that.

On to large cephalapods. The colossal squid story is fascinating. The comments are interesting, especially the "killjoy" one.

Update: more on Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni here on the BBC website.

The BBC also have a related story with video about how another large squid species - Taningia danae - flashes light when it attacks. Amazing stuff.

Finally, the premier online reference for all things cephalopod seems to be TONMO.

Calimari will never be the same...

29 January 2007

Ottmar in Tibet

Lovely video slideshow from Ottmar Liebert of his trip to Tibet.

28 January 2007

Carter at Brandeis

I'm watching President Carter's speech/Q&A session at Brandeis on C-SPAN; it'll be followed by <sigh> Alan Dershowitz's rebuttal, which I'll probably skip. Carter's amazing: he's done more good in the world and shown more courage and leadership since his presidency than Shrub and his daddy - and the Gipper, for that matter - did in their entire lives. Sadly, I don't see anyone in the running for 2008 who has that potential, although Bill Richardson is kinda interesting: NewMexiKen gives some good reasons why. I had hopes for McCain until he began courting Bush's wingnut Christian fundamentalist base, and I have no real interest in Clinton or Edwards. Maybe this time I'll just write in a vote for Edward Abbey instead of wasting a vote on Ralph Nader. ;-)

27 January 2007

Been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time

Time to get back in the saddle.

Pegasus Imaging is history and ended not with a bang but with a whimper. After putting in four years of dedicated service, not once - not once! - did they either try to get me to stay or (more importantly) ask what went wrong. Being part of the "management team" - sort of; I was kept away from staff meetings - was kinda like seeing how laws or sausage are made: you can no longer make excuses for people after you start to realize how inept and arrogant they are. The straw, though, came when I wanted to do a performance review for my sole employee and my boss decided to sit on it and hope she'd leave. Of course, when she did leave - without notice, heh; she was smart enough to use up her vacation before leaving, unlike me - she became another traitor/scapegoat, as I'm sure I now am. Whatever... I wish them well, and the only thing I regret is losing respect for the people who run the place.

Oh, and I also regret being screwed out of 9 days of vacation. Not that I'm bitter...

So, I'm now in Lynchburg, VA working at Tyco Electronics on management software for private land mobile radio networks. The work is great - all C#, .NET 2.0/3.0, custom user controls, web services, integration with SharePoint, etc., all good stuff - the people are very good, they have a good process and toolset, and the work environment is good, so I'm quite happy with work.

Lynchburg, though... I like the countryside, the rolling hills and these little things they call mountains here, and I can be on the AT or the Blue Ridge Parkway in 30 minutes. The weather is mild and the cost of living is good: you can get a pretty nice house for $200K, while they're still $275K on up back in Valrico. The schools are decent, and the people are friendly enough, but you have to go quite a ways to get away from the podunk parts: Barbara was alarmed to see a girl at a register counting on her fingers to calculate change. And then there is the religious conservatism...

I try really hard to overlook the presence and influence of Jerry Falwell and Tim Lahaye and their ilk. I try not to start looking for bolts of lightning whenever I drive by Liberty University. I try not to freak when someone tells me they homeschool their kids and I eventually come to understand it's not to provide a better education but rather an alternate, sanitized Christian education, one as free of secular humanist influences as possible. I'm glad I was careful about the stickers I put on my car; this one would not go over well. They're not bad people - well, Falwell and Lahaye are - but they're not our kind of people, and this is not our kind of town. Charlottesville was an option, possibly working at VGT, but the cost of living there is as ridiculous as it is in Valrico, and at least in Valrico we can have a pool and use it most of the year.

So, when this contract ends, it's back in the job pool for me. In my usual conflicted style, I'm working my way through MCPD certification while simultaneously spending evenings poring over Cocoa books and working on a plan to start living the life. For the .NET stuff, though, I'm definitely staying in contracting: no more being an "exempt" employee.

In totally unrelated news, the next G3 tour will be Joe Satriani, John Petrucci, and - yay!- Paul Gilbert. I've really gotten into Gilbert the last month or so, and he's funny as hell and quite unassuming (unlike that Malmsteen blowhard). Check out his website; he does it himself. It'll be a shame not to see Steve Vai, but Barbara and I saw him at the Tampa Theater a couple of years ago and it was magnificent. Well, I dug on Steve and she dug on Eric Sardinas, but let's not go into that right now... ;-)

Paul Gilbert kinda breaks the pattern for American guitar gods being from Long Island (Vai, Satriani, and Petrucci), by the way. Look up some videos on Youtube; the guy's a riot.