Archive for June, 2004

trait tracked

The latest idea thats been swimming around in my head remind me of the early Lazarus Long novels. This one family had been tracking its most long-lived members, and was trying to get certain of them to breed to continue those traits, often seeking out specific other families or particular individuals to reinforce those traits in their children and future generations.

The idea I’ve been having is similar in nature. I wanted the initial … hmm … maybe even significant portion of the book to be flashbacks to earlier days. In each case, a particular character would be highlighted and focused on, with the eventual end of the chapter focusing on a particular character trait that they have, and also some insinuation that some mysterious party has made a note of that trait.

In the early chapters where all this is happening, I’m looking the mysterious party to take on a sort of illuminati type feel to it, or close to it.


feel the love

I love technology. I really do. I think its one of the core things about me that just drives my being. Its a difficult field, constantly in motion and driven by a strange set of forces. On one side of the rolling ball, there are the monolith companies driving billions of dollars into research to come up with “the next big thing”. On the other side are the small companies, even sometimes single people … who hit it big with an amazing idea, new invention, or new use for some existing thing. Either way, there is this momentum of progress that keeps the geeks of the world slathering through their webpages, tech news sites and magazines to see what toy they get to play with next.

I’ve had discussions with folks in the past who think we should still be swinging around in the trees by our tails, happily spending our days with simple thoughts. There’s something to be said for that, I agree. Simplicity has its rewards … life remains predictable, stable and comfortable. On the other hand, there’s an inate curiosity in me that has to know what the framerate I can push is using the latest video card with Far Cry, or what improvements I can get in my rendering projects by switching to a 3GHz processor instead of a 2GHz one. I mean, I really want to know. Y’know? No? Oh well.

This is also a pretty complex general topic. There’s all kinds of mini-asides that can be made about technology … our dependence on it, research driving its advancement, controls on it, and so on, so I fully expect to address many more of those topics at some later time. For now, though … I just wanted to be clear about my fascination with it, and leave it at that.


SUN + blogs

I currently work for SUN Microsystems as a Data Center Architect. Or a Systems Administrator. Or as a generalist of one sort or another. It seems to vary depending on what day of the week it is and how many conference calls are scheduled.

I expect I’m going to probably have quite a bit to say about my employer in the near future, but for now, I just wanted to comment on one trend going on internally. There is a current push trying to get the employees to blog, and if/when they do, to adhere to certain guidelines about what they say about SUN and so on. I’m not precisely sure what started that idea, or why they felt the need to respond to it, but they’ve provided a portal for SUN employees who wish to blog on SUN’s dime (hardware and bandwidth) . For the record, this is not one of those.

Immediately after making this resource available, there was another flurry of notices about what they felt folks should and should not say about the company in these blogs. Hmm… I’m still formulating my thoughts on that. There seems to be a conflicting principle present in those statements.

Blogs seem to be, at their very core nature, sort of free-flowing streams of consciousness expressing the feelings of a particular individual (or perhaps a group) on a loosely defined set of topics. It seems reasonable to me that if one of those topics might be employment, or someone’s relationship to their employer, that those streams of consciousness may very well, at times, express some elements of discontent. This is a nice, flowery pleasant way of saying that if someone isn’t HAPPY with their job, their blog is going to reflect those feelings. So, enter SUN and its desire to have the public opinion of the company be a good one.

They want people who work for them, who also happen to blog, to not disparage the company in their remarks and comments. Suddenly, this mechanism for expression has a filter, or watchdog. That seems to defeat the very purpose.

That having been said… I’ll go a bit further on the topic. If I, as a loyal employee of said company, want to do my best to have the public (and oh … say … the financial analyst community) view of the company be a favorable one, since it also benefits me personally when that is true, isn’t it in my best interest to not disparage them as well? I’d think so.

Finally, my own stance I think… I do want SUN to succeed. I want to see the analyst view of the company improve, their stock prices go up, my own vested interest in the company to benefit from those events. So no… I won’t say bad things about the company that might influence those elements in a negative way. What I will go on to talk about, though, is how some of the internal machinations of the company impact my life, and how the changes they go through internally impact me. Issues of morale, RIFs (reductions in force), management movement, company strategy, product placement, marketing and publicly issued statements all seem to be fair game and topics for discussion.

If you also happen to work for SUN, and find something I say in here objectionable, please feel free to let me know so we can discuss it further, and assess the impact of those statements.



Every year I do this exercise to see whats needed to fill out a “well-rounded” bar that can suit most needs for the folks that come over and want to mix drinks. Most of the books for bartenders list way too much, or are so outdated that they still think drinks from the 60’s are en vogue. Since we generally don’t drink too much hard liquor at home, this is, to some extent, an attempt to match our bar up to the tastes of the people who will visit.

I do enjoy Scotch (single malt), and good tequila, so there are several types of each. Beyond that, its mostly an attempt to have a good solid set of mixers so people can play around and try something new if they want.

Invariably, the things we end up using the most of are shots (tequila, jaeger, rumple, goldschlagger, etc) and the ingredients in the most common party drinks, like margueritas. There is usually a least one instance of scotch tasting for the expert and uninitiated. After reading this, it sounds like we’re a bunch of alcoholics. That isn’t really accurate. There are a few people who maybe go a bit too far, and they are invariably labelled as the year’s party victims (there’s always at least one), but most people keep it under control.

I don’t consider myself a heavy drinker. I drink socially (never alone), and usually about once or twice a week. I occasionally have a beer with a meal as well, but not normally. For all that though, when I do drink, I’m sort of a snob about it, and want very fine tasting stuff. Single malt scotches, never blends. Anejo tequilas, small batch beers that tend towards the very hoppy (IPA, ESB, etc). I’d sooner die than have to stomach a mass produced beer (the Bud, Coors and Millers of the world). I’d rather spend that very small amount of time I am drinking enjoying it. Just like life.


And there you have it…

The quiet before the storm. I’m home from work. Took Friday and Monday off, so I don’t have to think about any of that again (with any luck) until Monday evening or Tuesday morning. There’s a ton of stuff to do, cleaning-wise, preparation-wise and all that, to prepare, but for now, I’m just sitting, not thinking, in the dark basement. Kind of a nice quiet feeling.

I may take a nap until my better half gets home. That would be nice. Today was actually productive, despite all the work related nonsense. I managed to get them to come get the garbage canister thinger, so its gone. I managed to get a hold of the guy who will weed the back porch, and he promises me they’ll put at least two hours in before tomorrow evening. Also setup an appointment for the week of the 4th for the eye doctor.

Speaking of, the week of the fourth should be tremendous. No work for 9 days in a row. OMG. An extended break is just exactly what I need on the menu right now. That should do nicely for catching me back up on sleep, and giving me some liesure time to play and whatever else I wanna do. Praise the gods.


Conference Calls

The last two days have been concall hell. Yesterday was 6:30am, 8, 10, 11, 2pm and 4. Today was 8am, 10, 11, 1pm and 2. Wow, look at all the work I got done!

You know, from the design and architecture perspective, I understand that this role is important. I need to be able to help other groups understand what it is we’re implementing, and assist with their using my environment as a useful tool, and get the best use out of it possible. On the other hand, I haven’t actually set foot in my own data center in over a week.

I like it down there. Its nice and cool, constant thrum of the A/C, surrounded by the latest in server and grid technologies. A geek’s wet dream, really. So why can’t I be down there! Instead, I sit on the phone call day, headset glued to my face, not getting enough time to eat lunch, and sipping down can after can of Mt.Dew.

<mantra>I love my job, I love my job, I love my job.</mantra>


Rants and more conversion notes

I was originally thinking I was going to take my old site and just basically convert it over full bore. Take all the old rant posts, the content from the pages, etc, and just put them in as new posts, etc.

As I’m reading through alot of my old stuff, I’m realizing that its alot of crap. Or, at a minimum, I’d like to see the content of it updated and revised before I re-express those opinions and talk about those topics. Life changes, and rather than start the chronology here with a point-in-time snapshot from years ago, and then suddenly dive into new topics, I think I’m going to just spend some time thinking about those old topics, and then write about them anew. Seems to make more sense that way.

Another thought, just to keep things clean… I’m going to stick with a flat organization on the categories. I am, however, going to have to rethink how links work. Its taking up WAY too much space on the menu, and I’m not sure yet how to manipulate the way the links are displayed well enough to customize that. I’ll work it out.


Layout final v1.0

Ok, I went a bit template happy, and Dar pointed me to this site for some good styles to use with wp. I ended up picking the Mars Spirit one, and then modifying as I saw fit. So consider this post the credit to the author over there. In addition, I went and played with PSP and made the header image up there. Its a pretty serious composite of a bunch of different things, and I’m very very pleased with it. Thanks to Cesium for his help when I was throwing the various images around and compositing.

So … I’m going to leave things like this for awhile, and see if I get bored, or stick with it.



As a general rule, I’m a mostly non-confrontational sort of person, so its actually pretty rare that I feel the need to get up on the box and start yelling and screaming about something. But when I do, its because I really feel like its important. So maybe thats a decent window into who I am and what I care about. I don’t know. It does seem like you’ll miss out on things that fall below that ‘anger threshhold’ though, so don’t think I’m all piss and vinegar just because thats all you see here.



I’ve been playing the World of Warcraft beta for about 2 months now, and I figured I’d post a few thoughts about that. The first though is: THANK YOU FOR GIVING MY WIFE HER OWN ACCOUNT.

There, now that I have that out of my system.

Its fun. It still has the level churn and burn. The quest system is one of the best developed I’ve seen. They can also thank AO for instanced dungeons in their design. They took it a little further, especially with the group play and how death affects it, but its there. Loot gradiation based on level. YAY! No more power levelling folks with tremendous loot they could not have gotten themselves, since its level restricted. Graphically excellent. Combat is easy to manage, but with quite a bit of depth, especially in group play. A well tuned group can complement each other class-wise by using their abilities to the group’s best advantage. Nicely done, Blizzard. Player economy is very rich, and the soon-to-come ingame auction system should only further that end. I’ll probably add more comments as I continue to play.



Okay, first and foremost, I happen to believe I live in one of the greatest countries in the world. I enjoy freedoms that many are denied because of the particular style of gov’t they live under. I can’t argue that. However, I also believe that for a gov’t to remain static in some of its principles for over 200 years is not going to work in the long run. Yes, our forefathers were literal geniuses to have come up with a document that was adaptable enough to handle as much as it has up to now. Astounding really, when you think about it.

I’ve put some thought into it, and tried to think of ways we could put more control back into the hands of the common citizen, as opposed to the way things currently are. I’m fiercly opposed to lobbyists, and the level of control that money has in the top line gov’t thinking. It seem ridiculous to me (for instance) that just because the cigarette manufacturer’s of this country have such a huge amount of money, that legislation restricting the use of such a poison is so slow in coming.

Another example of the this. Whether or not you realize, the largest lobby in the country is the aged. The largest single contributer of campaign monies is still people over 60. I actually remember a commercial during the last campaign which at the very end proclaimed in large text “Vote for <x>, and put money back in the hands of the elderly”. Astonishing. Now, I’m not saying that the aged don’t have a right to be represented in the election process… what I *am* saying is why should they have more say than the geeks, or the homeless, or those attracted to poodles?

I’m also not saying I have all the answers, but here’s one idea.

First, get rid of campaign commercials, and all the campaigning monies needed to run for high office. If we need to see our soon to be elected officials in debates, then sure, let’s get them up there on publicly broadcasted, and heavily mediated and controlled questioned environments by a third, and hopefully objective party. Maybe even base all questions on input from a user community that has decided on a set number of questions they want to hear the answers to. Also, no going back and forth, dragging each other through the mud. Each person gets one chance to say how he feels on the subject asked about.

Second, it would be nice if we could vote on ‘topics’, instead of people. If we could have electronic forums (newsgroups, if you will) in a heirarchical format, divided by region (federal, state, and local) and topic, where people who were interested could go to discuss, and then finally vote on particular issues, we would see several results. First of all, only people who were informed enough about a particular topic would typically vote on them. Sure, you’d still get people heading to particular areas of the heirarchy, and just randomly voting on things, or voting based on relatively uninformed opinions. But hey, I still see that as better than the MASS MAJORITY voting on issues they only know about because of some biased tv ad they just saw. We’d see important issues being resolved by people who were seriously interested in the results of the issues.

It seriously bothers me that the ‘popular vote’ is so swayed by money and media. Those are two things that should have absolutely NOTHING to do with decision making on serious issues.



So this will at least be an experiment in conversion from the old format of this page to this style. I will be incorporating graphics back into this, despite the urging of most other people who blog to keep the formats as simple (and image-free) as possible.

I’m a visually oriented person. So sue me. On second thought, don’t.


Man + Guard

A gentleman approaches the White House gate one day, and tells the guard, “I’m here to see President Bush”. The guard replies, “I’m sorry, sir … but he no longer works here. He’s no longer President.” The man thanks him, and goes on his way.

The following day, the same man approaches the same guard, and once again asks to see President Bush. The guard, now a bit confused says “Sir, I’m sorry, but you can’t … he’s not the President anymore, and isn’t here”. Once again, the man thanks the guard, and goes on his way.

So on the third day, when the same man once again approaches the same guard again, the guard questions a bit more. When the man asks to see President Bush again, the guard says, “Look, I’m not sure what your problem is, but as I’ve told you the past few days, you can’t see him!”.

The man smiles, and quietly says, “Oh yes, I know … I just really like hearing it”.

The guard salutes the man, “See you tomorrow”.


Preparations continue

This time of year always feels like you can never quite do enough to get everything in place before the people begin to arrive. Cesium was first this year, but only because he’s moving out here. Everyone else is being good and checking in around Friday.

I need to try and reach Tooker/Danno to see if they want to take crash space in les Casa des Hombres to save themselves a bit of cash. I seem to recall something being said about cutting the trip short due principally to hotel bills, etc … so that might very well help out.

Lots left to do. 6:30am concall at work, 8am all hands (CJ), 9am meet with Morris(server at the ok prompt) and 10am normal staff meeting with people who could care less. Hopefully, after all that, I’ll have put in sufficiently much time to release me from duties for the day. At least, assuming I can get Susan over into the lab with a good list of stuff. We’ll see.

On the list for today at home? Call eye doctor (thanks Sasha … my glasses really did need replacing anyway), call Western to remove the big ass garbage bin, dig out second horseshoe pit, clean desk, NOT play WoW. Yeah, right.

I will say, though, thats its really great to have Cesium out here. Its about damn time. Hmm, let’s see…. who can I convert next.

Due to extenuating circumstances, the Church of Potts will not be in session this week. It seems the worshiping is taking a field trip to a remote location. The king is dead, long live the King.

– g



Templates. Fun to play in, but you can tinker forever. So is the nature of all such things. Whoosh.

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