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lodragan

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Holy Smokes! [Mar. 29th, 2007|10:18 pm]
lodragan
[Tags|]
[Current Location |In my pod...]
[mood |goodBalanced]
[music |Breathless, Corinne Bailey Rae]

The 'lab' got a new addition this month - a shiny new MacBook Pro 15". This is the second apple I've owned, the fifth I've used, and the first I've bought brand new.

I learned basic programming on the Apple ][ in highschool. Later I used a friend's 'Laser' computer (an Apple ][ clone -- I was surprised to learn there were clones of Apples...who'd of thunk?) - I don't know if that really counts as an 'Apple' or not, then used the first Macs in college, and finally a (very) used Apple Powerbook 540

There are a number of reasons I decided to go with apple once again, after many years in hiatus. First the base operating system is FreeBSD Unix; extremely stable, and I am able to leverage my knowledge of Unix/Linux. Secondly, the system is Intel based - Core 2 Duo to be exact, the currently recommended best in class multiprocessor 64 bit for gaming (which also doesn't hurt when doing other computing), which also give it some 'legs' when it comes to its eventual demise - I can resurrect it as Linux machine easily. I got it pretty loaded, but I can extend the RAM from its current 2 Gigabytes to 3 GB (officially) and reports are you can extend it to 4 GB unofficially. It supports all the tools that I am used to using (emacs, python, etc) - and I've found Apple native versions of just about everything I use now on my Linux box at home and Sun box at work. Finally, it came with iLife - which includes everything you need to record and edit music and video, burn DVDs of your projects, and make picture albums - as well as interface all of those things with your other projects. Finally, I was just plain sick of using Microsoft Windows - I was more than ready to change.

Of course I loaded all my favorite tools, as well as some interesting ones I've bumped into - FireFox, NeoOffice (OpenOffice Apple-native build), Sidenote - a drawer-based notepad replacement (I like), CyberDuck (an FTP/SFTP client - a la 'WSFTP' on Windows), Sophie - a multimedia document project framework (still trying to figure out how to use it, good for tying together various resources into a common 'publishable' polished output - XML or other formats), and a more up-to-date Python (language de rigueur for me). Initially I also loaded 'Fink' which allowed me to download open source (mostly GNU and X11) software for use with DarwinX -- but I found most of my tools already have native Apple GUI interface binaries available - so I was able to avoid using DarwinX altogether now (required me to page between the Apple interface and X).

For fun I loaded WWIIonline (Battleground Europe - I am a subscriber to this MMOG battlefield simulation - switching to the Apple version of the game without a hiccup), FlightGear (a free flight simulator - very accurate terrain, navaids, flight physics models, and a large selection of aircraft and scenery), and TeamSpeex - a Apple version of the TeamSpeak voice coms program. I still have a pile of disk images I haven't loaded yet of various free games and tools.

I was tempted to go for the 17" screen, but found that it would not fit into my backpack for transport. It goes with me back and forth to work, like my previous 486 Acer laptop (which I shoehorned Linux onto its 500 MB drive - another long story). Additionally, I got a MacBook for my daughter (I set her's up to dual boot Mac OS and XP - so she could play her current stable of Windoze games), and so could not justify the additional expense for the 17" model.

The 15" grows on me more each day - I am finding it it 'just right' for the space I have in the 'lab' and at my day job. The interface is hazily familiar from working with the old Mac and PowerBook machines - but is jazzed up in the post-millennium. What I am finding most striking about working with the Mac is how easy most things are to figure out by yourself. On a Windows machine, or even in one of the various flavors of window managers under Linux, I expected to have to tweak something during a working session. With Apple, once I got all the interface controls set up the way I liked, the interface basically got out of my way. I find myself doing more actual 'work' with this machine. The only complaint I have is a very minor issue - I am used to hovering the mouse pointer over a window to make it active for input - I have to remember to click on a window to make it active, and many times I don't, typing into the bit bucket, or worse into the wrong application - most of my time I spend on the command line shell, in emacs, and the positive aspects of the system more than outweigh this one issue, so this is not a show stopper.

As for the rest of my lab - the old game box with the honking big drive is going to find new life as an application server (probably with a zope3 frontend). I've finally brought forth the Sun Sparcstation 2 pizza box - that will become a dns/ntp server, provided I can get it running. Chicky gave me another old AMD motherboard - already loaded with RAM and CPU/fan assembly - so I now have 2 1+GHZ motherboards to load into cases, peripheralize and spin up (DB server and something else?). The current server will be offloaded to the new server, and probably turned into a firewall. Some of the boxes will also become nodes for my Beowulf experimentation - which dovetails nicely with progress I'm making at work to install a small Beowulf cluster as a proof of concept - it will be used to do forensics against raw data, and for research (directed and nondirected) in my line of work.

Things are busy - but I'm taking it easy.
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Nothing interesting... [Dec. 10th, 2006|10:36 pm]
lodragan
[Current Location |At my Console...]
[mood |calmcalm]
[music |Vivaldi - 4 Seasons]

Okay -- so nothing interesting has happened - just more of the grind - a la 'Office Space'.

Reading 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' - a book about all the things that they don't teach you in school about financial realities and work. Enlightening to say the least.

I have been remiss on my bass playing - no room and little interest; I need a permanent space where I can set it up and leave it.

Been mostly playing MMOG...little progress on other projects. All play and no work makes Jack a dull boy. Just shoot me.
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I Grok [May. 11th, 2005|07:33 pm]
lodragan
[mood |shockedgrokking]
[music |'Communication Breakdown' - Led Zeppelin]

I grok: Drink deeply, my water brother.
You grok! Yay!
A glass of water for you, my
brother.


Do you grok?
brought to you by Quizilla
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(no subject) [May. 5th, 2005|10:09 pm]
lodragan
[mood |drunkdrunk]
[music |"Big Lie" - Sting]

I guess this explains a thing or two:


Your Linguistic Profile:



80% General American English

10% Dixie

5% Upper Midwestern

5% Yankee

0% Midwestern


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Jam Session Report... [Apr. 25th, 2005|10:26 pm]
lodragan
[mood |ecstaticmusical]
[music |"I'm So Hungry For You" - The Police]

Jam session went semi-okay...

I was the first to show up at my bud's house. His dog definitely had a short term memory loss issue; I would leave the room and come back in and the barking would start all over. Luckily his other two mutts were out with his wife getting their monthly clipping/cleaning.

Somehow I managed to set up my gear without the dog embedding his canine teeth in my calf. I'm actually pretty good with all animals, so this was quite unusual. My host assured me that with enough visits the dog would eventually accept my presense and that her bark was worse than her bite. This turned out to be true - and the dog allowed me to pet her by the end of our session, growling the whole time.

Shortly after that two of the other guitarists showed up. I was still setting up my bass as they de-trucked their gear into the living room. The room itself was very good for practicing; vaulted ceilings provided enough space for some good accoustics, and there was plenty of space for us to stretch out. Our eventual full complement of 4 guitars, bass (me), and drums will fit in the area nicely.

We played for 3 hours. It was apparent that my partners had not been as studious as myself - we had to slowly work through our first song - which took up much of the time. We got most of the way through 'Godzilla', about halfway through 'Sweet Home Alabama', and did 1/3 of 'Cocaine' and a few bars of some of the other selections.

Practice would also degenerate into a rif-fest of other songs that were not on the list; I got some good practice playing by ear on the songs they played (all heavy metal - so I was not enthusiastic about it). The guitarists had some timing issues as we worked our way through the songs - so I kicked off the built-in drum machine on my effects pedal to assist. They liked this quite a bit.

As for my playing I did quite well - kept a steady beat and my riffs were spot-on (if not completely correct). I got the supreme compliment from the lead guitarist of 30 years exprience: "you held your own".

Everyone was happy about the experience; and everyone wants to continue the sessions. We just need to get the drummer to commit on a drum kit (he wants to go all-electronic for ease of transport, setup, and quiet practicing in his crowded home) and we will be set (the fourth guitarist was in Chicago for the wedding of his best friend - so he will definitely be there for the next iteration - particularly since he spent a mint on a new tube amp with built-in effects processor).

I made the suggestion that those of us who were not prepared, (who shall remain nameless) practice the agreed-upon cover music before our next session. Not all was lost - we did start the process of learning to play together; the hardest part for me was to ignore variations of timing/syncopation in the lead guitars and just keep the groove rock steady - even as I threw in a few tasteful variations.
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(no subject) [Apr. 22nd, 2005|09:17 pm]
lodragan
[mood |productivephilosophical]
[music |"Cradle of Love" - Billy Idol]

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), "Hamlet", Act 1 scene 5


I've made a point of trying to not make blanket statements about anyone or anything - because blanket statements are not the truth - they only pander to our prejudices and weakly approximate the truth.

Truth is difficult. How do we reconcile contradictory information in our world, and maintain some semblence of continuity? At some level there is a killer and a saint in all of us. Yet we cling to the hypocricy of our own professed consistency - turning a blind eye to the truth.

Paradoxically if we embrace the recognition of the whole truth - rather than limiting us as we might expect, it provides the ammunition needed by our ego to move beyond the over simplistic prejudices and blanket statements that do not inform us about reality. In a way it is like a door opening to a new world. Once past the door we can become a more authentic personality guided by truth.

Everyone has thought, "what I wouldn't give to strangle my boss right now". But most of us never act upon that impulse. What holds us back? Before recognizing the truth I spoke of, we would attribute it to external controls (we don't want to pay the legal price for the murder, or we want to go to heaven so we follow God's rules etc...). After we step through the door and recognize the complexity inside of us that does not fit any one paradigm - we also begin to realize that everyone around us has that same complexity - has some redeeming quality that stays our hands. We realize the truth that we all have a responsibility to preserve what is good in all of us.

Once through the door you see the truth that you are ultimately responsible for your own life, thoughts and actions. This also leads to a realization that no one has all the answers. Not the clergy, the teachers, the business men, the scientists, the politicians, or you (or me).
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Wooohooo!!! I made it to 41! [Apr. 21st, 2005|10:55 pm]
lodragan
[mood |ecstaticecstatic]
[music |"Red Rain" - Peter Gabriel, "Heavy Metal" - Sammy Hagar]

I'm 41 as of a few days ago. I'm ecstatic. Can't you tell?

Fiesta is in full swing in San Antonio - Battle of Flowers Parade is tomorrow; kids are off from school. My wife's cousin owns a house at the end of the parade route - so they're going to get a frontrow seat to watch the fat marching band kids pass out prostrate on the ground in a lather. I must say that I was also a marching band kid, but skinny as a rail and all muscle, lean and bronzed in the sun, blond hair bleached a butter toffee gold.

Sadly I will have to miss the 'fun'. I am greedily hoarding my remaining vacation days for my parent's visit during my oldest daughter's graduation week. They are traversing the Eastern half of the continent to see their eldest grandchild graduate the abomination that is the public school system.

My poor darling (the eldest) is so very brainwashed. She wrote an excellent paper comparing and contrasting two poems on the subject of Helen of Troy. Her teacher struck out the word 'Nevertheless' and inserted 'However,' at the beginning of a sentence. I pointed out to her that she was correct and the teacher was wrong, "trust yourself" I said. She wanted to argue with me, defending her teachers to the end, "they have been teaching me this for years, they wouldn't teach us the wrong thing". This even after I pointed out to her the proper usage of 'however' in my Strunk & White 'Elements of Style'. Her retort: "that book is old - it doesn't have the latest usage". RIGHT - this from a girl who doesn't even own a book on usage and won't touch the many volumes I possess. I know I'm hard on her sometimes - but its what breathes life into her art. Who wants a vanilla personality at 17 anyway? I figure when she hits 30 she'll come around - of course I'll probably be dead by then.

I am the same fellow who said, at 21, that I didn't think I would live past 29, and continued variations of this treatise up to the present, incorporating all sorts of reasons why it was probable that I would not make it. I've been close to making it come true on several occasions (taking off downwind at an airport where the runway descended toward a ridge capped by high-tension power lines, doing a down-wind touch and go after mis-reading the windsock - with a King-Air in the opposing pattern on his downwind leg, almost running an m113 APC off a 50 foot cliff, stopping a combat engineer from inserting an un-shunted electrical blasting cap into a 30 lb shaped charge...etc...) but somehow manage to pull it out in the end. Of course the reaper will have his day one day.

In the meantime I will continue to learn the Bass, write computer programs, blog, walk, eat, love, sing, fly kites, cut the grass, write, compose, get speeding tickets (but only one every 5 years or so), read books (working on 'The Scarlet Pimpernel' atm), piss off the salesman at the Sam Ash music store, sleep, train the dog, meditate, and teach my children as best I can. I guess that is living.

Okay - enough BS.
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LJ Haiku ... [Apr. 18th, 2005|05:50 pm]
lodragan
[mood |jubilantflap harder!!!]
[music |"Brand New Day" - Sting]

LiveJournal Haiku!
Your name:lodragan
Your haiku:going to blow i have
been a headache lately
now my mind is clear
Username:
Created by Grahame
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My oldest takes home a medal from the state finals. [Apr. 17th, 2005|10:20 pm]
lodragan
[mood |happyhappy]

My Daughter won a medal at the state competition Saturday!

Of the 1300+ entries at state, she won one of 136 'Superior' ratings. They also selected about 30 or so 'Gold' ratings out of that group to go on to represent the state's very best. Sadly she did not win Gold - but being picked as the top 136 out of 20,000+ entries (from all the entries at regionals all over the state) is nothing to sneeze at either.

She is the only person who won a medal at state from her school this year. In the next few weeks she will be presented to our district's school board during their next meeting.

The state competition was also an opportunity for the students to attend various workshops, as well as make contacts with art professors from various universities. She also met some new friends who share her own passion for art in neighboring schools (we want her to expand her horizons more).
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Operation 'SAM ASH'... [Apr. 14th, 2005|10:38 pm]
lodragan
[mood |surprisedEnergized]
[music |"Spirits in the Material World" - The Police]

Most of the guys in my cover band/jam group did a field trip to the local Sam Ash music store during lunch today.

I was pleasantly astonished at the sheer amount of musical equipment under one roof! Guitars as far as the eye could see (I would conservatively estimate at least 200 guitars alone).

Sadly, the bass section was squirreled away in the back by the store-room entrance - although they did have a pretty good selection of basses (probably 50) including an 8 string 'extreme' bass (the fingerboard was at least 4" wide where the neck attaches to the body). They had some Mexican Fender Jazz basses that looked sweet. I got the guy at the counter to power up an amp for me and I ran a few bass lines through the Fender...nice sound - but I could get the same basic sound out of my present bass...no hurry to buy anything now. The amp I was using boomed out the bass and had a very solid low-end (it had a 15" speaker like my combo at home).

Afterwards I asked one of the guys (who was a newb on guitar himself) how he liked my playing. He said, "I liked it, but it sounded like alot of repetition..." Well - DUH - someone has to keep the groove going while you thrash around out of time and out of tune...hehehe. Of course I didn't say that. But then, when I complained about the small selection of basses in comparison to the stable of guitars, I got a "nobody plays bass anyway..." from the veteran players. I warned them that there was a good reason the bass guitar is called an axe - and I wouldn't be adverse to making mine live up to its name during rehearsal next time... ;)

Some of the guys are excellent guitarists (I'm a newb in comparison) - and did some amazing things with a Marshall 15 watt combo amp and a Fender Telecaster/ Gretsch(sic) hollowbody...I've never heard 'Crazy Train' from a hollowbody before - or a raggae version for that matter!!

Some of the guys were looking for specific guitars, and others were just there to try out as many as they could. The store owner made a flippant remark about a 'convention being in town'...another guy said 'its amazing what music comes out of some people - you wouldn't know it by looking at them'...in reference to my clean-cut pardner and his love of heavy-metal.

After awhile they put up some velvet ropes infront of the 'expensive' guitars. That didn't stop the guys from grabbing a few more to 'test' by reaching over the ropes...lol Some of the group were a bit put-off by it - but they remained civil; we were not thrown out of the place, at least.

I'm itching to jam with live human beings...I almost had a session for this weekend with one of the guys - but had to drop due to my daughter's art show - in Houston this Saturday (he was available Saturday - but not Sunday - and me visa-versa). Ostensibly we will have our first session with the full group the following Saturday (23rd April). There is nothing like playing with others to polish your playing imho.

I played my bass an 1 1/2 hours tonight - scales and finger excersizes out the wazoo - as well as a run of our cover songs. Fingers ache good.
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