Mac::iTunes

Last night I got my own hand-rolled version of the same kind of script that Adam Curry did with his iPodder AppleScript. Here’s how mine is different – it is in Perl, and uses LWP::Simple, XML::Simple, and Mac::Applescript to get files, parse them, and then control iTunes. The biggest difference is that I keep a cache file that has a record of which enclosure URLs have been downloaded and when. That way, if you delete a file after having downloaded it and listened to, it will not be downloaded again. It also uses the LWP::Simple “mirror” function, so even if you delete your cache and rerun everything such that the cache file doesn’t exist but the data file does, it will not be redownloaded unless the timestamps or file size on the server is different that your copy. That solves the thing that bugs me most about iPodder – the fact that iTunes keeps being reset to an exact mirror of the RSS feed. Delete it all, and the next time the script runs it all comes back. I set my script up on cron, so we’ll see if I catch my audioblog post from a few minutes ago. The next run is at 6 PM, so it should automatically show up in my playlist then.

Last night as I was trying to hack this script together, I was installing a number of Perl modules with CPAN on this iBook. I installed a few myself, and maybe 30 or so that were prerequistes for other modules. One and only one had problems, and that was Mac::iTunes. This module is written by Brian D Foy, who is a fairly big name in the Perl community. He edits Perl writings and has a high profile. I’m surprised that the module he authored and is up on CPAN gaks so competely and totally on this system. A bunch of the tests failed – like 25% of them – and the module wouldn’t have installed except with the “ignore failed tests, force install anyway” option. You kind of expect better from the big names, especially considering that I had been installing modules all night and didn’t have failure one from any of them. As the kids say, “what’s up with that?”

Audioblog for August 22, 2004

Here’s the next installment of the audioblog. It was actually recorded late late Saturday night but not put together until Sunday afternoon. It includes a theme and even some production (!). Topics covered include the question of “Why audioblog at all?”, RSS infrastructure for enclosures, Cheap Trick, the Gentle Readers, and a special audio-only tidbit of information. I’m still looking for feedback on this whole experiment. In particular, what do you think about the theme and then using that music as a bed for the first few minutes?

Related links:
Cheap Trick – Elo Kiddies, southern girls got nothing to lose
The Gentle Readers – Indiana rock by way of Decatur GA
Audacity – free and good audio editing

RSS 2.0

Digging into this enclosure issue, I realized that they are only defined in RSS 2.0 and I only had 0.91 feed. At the moment, I have both of them defined so that you can syndicate either the 0.91 version or the 2.0 version. If you want enclosures, it will have to be the 2.0. Thanks to Mike Mason, who has RSS 2.0 blosxom flavours available for download on his blog. That saved me some time, rather than have to write those myself.

Anyone out there using aggregators that support enclosures, I ask a favor of you. Could you please subscribe to the 2.0 version and tell me if the enclosures for the audioblog are working on your aggregator? I have tried it out myself via the iPodder script and it is not working that way. However, the more I use iPodder, the more I find little things that are funky with it. I’m not going to get too excited until I find out this isn’t working in others like Radio, etc.

I opted for simplicity with my blosxom plugin. I originally started to get complex, like defining a data directory and if you had an MP3 with the same filename as your current text entry, then it would be an enclosure for that post, etc. However there is nothing that says that the file you want to have the enclosure for is a local file to the webserver running blosxom. It might be hosted elsewhere or it might not even be yours. To make it as absolutely simple as possible, I opted for adding an element into my link tags. If, prior to the href portion of a link there is defined the attribute enclosure=”true”, then the file pointed to by this link will have an enclosure tag written for it. That was the absolutely most simple thing I could think of. Now, any file inside any post can be marked as something that gets an enclosure, and you just do it by marking up the link. Browsers and everything else will ignore this. In fact, I could have all the flavours that don’t use this just strip that out of the final HTML if I was so inclined.

Since I wanted to allow for offsite links, the only real issue was getting the filesize, which is a required element of the enclosure tag. I opted for the same kind of caching mechanism that is common in many plugins. There is a cache file on disk that maps an URL to its MIME type and size. On startup, the cache is read in. When it presents an enclosure tag, if there is nothing in the cache for this URL it uses LWP::Simple to get that information from the URL and then writes it back out to the cache. Any given URL should only have to have the head lookup done one single time, so it shouldn’t be too big a hit from either side. The very first RSS 2.0 load after a new post arrives with an enclosure will be slightly delayed while this HTTP HEAD request goes out and finds that info but after that it will be in the cache.

So, all the futzing is done with the infrastructure. When you are a geek, this is how you spend your Friday nights. From here on out, whenever I feel the mood I’ll make an audio post and everything will work just fine in the RSS world. I suppose there is no reason why I couldn’t alter it right now to make all my RSS feeds be 2.0. I don’t think that will break anything, but for the moment I think I’ll just stand pat while I experiment with all this. Again, if you have enclosure aggregators or scripts or the like, please try out my 2.0 feed with them and let me know if it works or not. Thank you.

The Fun Never Stops

A little quick experiment showed me that it was no problem for me to record a little bit of myself with Voice Recorder on my Zaurus, export that .wav file to the iBook and then import it into Audacity. Cool cool cool! That means that I have the potential to do mobile audioblogging. If I run into some celebrity on the street, I can do a quick interview with them or whatever. This would have been great back in the radio show days, particularly at the SF conventions I was covering as a journalist/radio personality.

I might even do some routine posts just out and about, getting a little local color in the audio. I am mindful that here, in this little southern coastal town, I am different than most of the people here. I look different, act different, talk different, have a different sort of career. Thus, I might want to be a little careful about becoming “the crazy guy who wanders the streets talking to himself.” Maybe if I am out and about recording stuff into the Zaurus, I should hold up my cell phone as a decoy.

The worst thing about recording the audio with both the iBook and Zaurus is that both have internal mics and neither has a line in or mic jack. I’m a radio guy, I miss having the mike staring me in the face. It was really weird recording today’s audio entry, just sort of talking towards the upper right hand of my iBook’s screen. I should research if there is some USB audio input gizwhickey for Macs. A little USB microphone would be nice, or even some gadget that connects to USB or Firewire and accepts mic-level or line in level inputs with mini-stereo plugs. Then we’d really be cooking with gas.

You can tell, if I am this interested in the toolset, that I’ll be continuing with the audio stuff. That’s always how you can tell when someone is passionate about a hobby or a total duffer. When the tools and the mundane, boring parts of a pastime still excite you, are are totally hooked.

Blog Silence from the Olympics

Yet another reason to hate the International Olympic Committee, a heavy handed group of corrupt plutocrats if ever there were. Loic Lemeur links to this article about how all participants of the Olympics are barred from weblogging about it. This includes not just athletes and coaches but support staff! Essentially, they want there to be no information flowing from the games not through one of their sanctioned information gateways. My friends, this is antiquated bullshit. I rage a lot on here about the fading days of Big Media. I am not any happier about the tactics of Big Sports. From the article:

.The Olympic guidelines threaten to yank credentials from athletes who are in violation as well as to impose other sanctions or take legal action for any monetary damages.

That’s right, if you are an Olympian and you blog about your experiences during the Olympics, you can be barred from the games and fined for it. This is completely absurd behavior, and yet another nail in the coffin of my Olympics experience. I already didn’t care much, now I’m going out of my way to see absolutely none of this Olympics and maybe no future ones either. If they want such absolute dictatorial control, they can have it but without me as a willing passive participant. They are worried about losing revenue – they’ve already lost it from me. I’m about one more straw away from assembling a list of all the Olympics sponsors – the ones in whose name the IOC does all their bullshit – and steering my business away from them and towards their competitors.

Audioblog

I’m following in footsteps, and have decided to try my hand at audioblogging. I present now my initial attempt at an audio post. I’m not doing this via Audioblog or anything like that, just recording on my iBook and posting it old school. I might try to take a few moments this weekend and put together a Blosxom plugin for doing RSS enclosure feeds of just the audio posts, or figure out how to add that to the regular one or something. The infrastructure might not be solid for a few days, but download and listen and leave a comment letting me know what you think. It’s kind of fun and kind of scary, like all audio and radio work I have ever done has been. It’s cool to hear yourself on the radio, but I can never shake the feeling that I sound far too stupid and goofy to be doing this. Audioblogging makes me feel exactly the same way.

A few links for things mentioned in the audio post:
Audacity, Open Source Audio editing tool
Adam Curry – broadcasting Adonis
KRVS, Radio Acadie in Lafayette LA

Susi French Connection

Paul Melancon posts that he will be a special guest tomorrow, Saturday August 21 with the Susi French Connection at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur GA. This band is The Gentle Readers (one of my favorites) but undercover as a 70s cover band with special guests and copious fun to be had by all. I went to the SFC show last year and had a blast, singing along to ABBA and such. Maybe this year they’ll play “Chevy Van” or perhaps “The Night Chicago Died”. I wish I could be there, both for the fun itself and to harangue the members of the Gentle Readers to put out another CD since I love their first three so much.

The day after, his new band The Arts and Sciences will be playing at the 99x Unplugged in the Park series at the Park Tavern on the edge of Piedmont Park. Being the pop rebels that they are, they are going to plug their shit in anyway. Yeah! I haven’t had a chance to see this configuration, but if the move away from having Paul’s name be up front and center makes him more comfortable onstage and lets him loosen up and rock out, mores the better. For you folks still in and around Atlanta, check one or both of these events out. It’ll be good for your soul.

Scenes from an Office

On my last day at Orbitz, I was given this little figurine by the guy who was the in-house representative of the Indian based QA testing team. It surprised me a little, because although he’s a good guy and we got along cordially in our professional lives, it wasn’t like we were buddies or anything. He actually was very good at doing his role, and I tried to reciprocate for his professionalism by not doing the typical developer “can’t be my problem” ping-pong thing when he presented me with issues. On our way to my going away lunch, he gave me this thing, a statuette of the Indian god Ganesha. He tells me that Ganesha is the god that presides over new things. Thank you, Dheeraj. I am being watched over from my Mac monitor.

At the bottom of the monitor, we have something different. This guy has been my development mascot for about five years, since I found him in a bargain bin at a toy store. I call him “Senor Muerte, el Luchadore Famoso!” This is tangible evidence that the Chinese people who manufactured this have a very odd idea of what constitutes the anatomy of your typical masked Mexican wrestler. The giant muscle pits inside these thighs are particularly odd. Anyway, the office isn’t really official until Senor Muerte takes his position. Welcome back!

I realy do like working in this office. I used to have toys all over my office, but I didn’t have enough room to display all of them in the office in Atlanta. In Evanston, I never bothered unpacking most of them because I knew I’d probably be repacking them soon enough. After I get the unpacking done of the main stuff, I’m sure will be getting this place all knick-knacked up.

Anal Retention

One of my worse traits is my anal retentiveness. As I unpack, I am forced to admit this over and over. I threw away a whole lot of stuff before this move and yet I am continuously shocked at myself for what I have kept. I am like this with both physical goods and electronic data. I have 7 years of email on my computer, CD after CD burned of things that I’ll never look at again and so forth.

Thus, when I was having problems with my lone Windows machine throwing fatal exceptions and not running things I wanted to run, it was a big deal when I chose to reinstall without obsessively archiving. I did a cursory look through to see if I had anything irreplacable and then blew away my partitions and started over without archiving anything. This means that I will have some programs that I had installed on there that I’ll never be able to install again because I don’t have access to the disks anymore. Que sera, I’ll live. It helps a little that I was beset with this giant wave of apathy as I thought about archiving and I thought about the programs I might need to try to keep behind. “Why bother?” I thought, and went forward. That was kind of a freeing moment for me, and it felt good.

I’m the worst combination of anally retentive and disorganized when it comes to possessions. I think I need to keep everything, but I don’t file it findably. I know that somewhere in my possessions, I have all this stuff but I can never access it when I need it. Well, dude, that’s morally equivalent to not actually having it, wouldn’t you say? I really am trying to turn over a new leaf. I’m trying to make sure that everything that comes out of a box goes into a place just for things like that. When I have unpacked everything, there should be zero boxes of miscellaneous shit in my possession. I’m also trying to be ruthless as I unload them, pitching the stuff I know has no value.

Gruber on Licensing Mac OS

I saw this post in Cult of Mac that references John Gruber of Daring Fireball’s contrarian view that Apple didn’t really miss anything by not licensing their OS. A big chunk of Gruber’s post concerns the impossibilty of porting the 80’s style Mac OS to PC/Intel hardware. The only thing is, I’m pretty sure he is totally wrong on that point. A few years back I read a couple of books on the history of Apple, and I’m pretty certain I recall that there was an internal experimental version of just this port – the then current Mac OS and Toolbox ported to commodity PC hardware – circa 1988 or 1989. I recall the account saying that it was demonstrated to company bigwigs, who didn’t want to pursue it because they didn’t want to canibalize the sales of their own high-margin hardware. I’d be all pompous about the rectitude of this point – like any self-aggrandizing pundit should – except that I really ain’t that sure on the details. Of course, if I was a real pundit I wouldn’t let that stand in my way.

I know that I have some readers of this blog that worked in and around Apple back in the day. Can any of you guys confirm or deny if I’m on the right track here? I believe the conventional wisdom that if Apple had chosen to license their OS prior to Windows 3 that they could have prevented the Microsoft domination of the world. At least, suffering as I am with doing a reinstall on the one Windows machine in my office, I would like to believe that.

Update: People who have come here from MacSurfer have been leaving comments filling in the gaps of my sieve-like memory. I was incorrect to use the terminology “totally wrong” about Gruber’s post. He was right for the era in question as far as that goes. Read the comment thread for more, but please let’s keep this civil if you leave a comment. This place is the cyberspace equivalent of my home, and I don’t want ad hominen attacks here.

Update 2: I’ve now talked with some friends who were at Apple when all this went down and placed such that they had inside knowledge of the Star Trek project. They say that they agree with Gruber’s basic point that this wouldn’t have changed anything, that Microsoft would be in still about the same position regardless. They say that the real reason that Star Trek didn’t continue on into the marketplace is that the team was repurposed as the group that ported the Mac OS to the PowerPC architecture, which makes perfect sense. Once you’ve ported to one different architecture, the next one should be simpler. They also think that the folksy warm fuzzy feelings about this project, that it was about giving consumers a choice in hardware, are incorrect. The motivation was to give Apple a choice of hardware vendors and to let them bargain harder with Motorola by saying “Look guys, we can run this on Intel if we don’t get the terms we want.” So, it seems I’m all wet on this, and Gruber is correct after all.

iPodder Part 2

I fooled around with Adam Curry’s iPodder script last night with half my attention while I was watching Rescue Me. I find AppleScript so intensely annoying to work with that I might stop. After 20 minutes of looking, I still couldn’t figure out how to do the paradigm of “look for file, and create if it doesn’t already exist.” This is something I could do in my sleep in Perl, so I’m thinking that maybe I should replicate it that way. Perl has modules to generate AppleScript events, so perhaps the way to go would be to use Perl goodness to download the files and do all that handling (including the ability to avoid downloading files that have already been downloaded but deleted!) and then sending the iTunes playlist AppleScript events. That might really be the best of both worlds.

iPodder

I downloaded and installed the iPodder AppleScript that Adam Curry has written and been talking about in his blog. It is pretty durned good – I was going to qualify it with “for an MTV VJ” but there is no need for that kind of jokiness, it is good for anyone. I added the RSS feed with enclosures of the Lydon interviews even though it looks like that feed hasn’t been updated since January and none of his new interviews are in it.

I like the iPodder (I don’t have an iPod, I just listen to the stuff via iTunes on my iBook). Here is the one technical problem I ran into, followed by a feature request. While I was first farting around with it, I hit the “Cancel” button on some of the downloads to try to get the thing to stop. Every feed that I did that to never worked right again. Even removing the feeds from the list, deleting the playlist and the directory and starting all over from scratch, the feed would never download anything again. I don’t know why that is, but I humbly suggest that if hitting the cancel button screws things up irreparably, perhaps those quick status boxes shouldn’t have it in there, just an “OK” button.

Here’s the feature request, one that I will probably fulfill myself and send back to Brother Curry (even though digging into AppleScript drives me completely insane with that weird tortured syntax.) He’s got the list of feeds as a variable inside the script, which requires you to edit the script itself to change your subscriptions. That’s a pain in the ass. What I want it to do is have a text file in the “iPodder” directory on the desktop that contains the subscriptions, such that adding a line with a new feed in there makes it effective. In the startup stuff where it sees if the directory exists or needs to be created, I want it to see if the subscription file exists. If not, it will write out a text file with the same feeds that he already has built in. If it does exist, then it reads that file in, one feed per line, and loads the variable with that. Without something like this, any time you install a new version it will be a big ol’ pain in the ass. You’ll have to be sure not to overwrite the old one, because you have to copy and paste your old subscription into the new file, etc. Better to have the subscriptions be separate from the code of the script itself. If I feel the spirit of Elvis move me, I might take a shot at writing that myself tonight.

There you go. Nice work, Eddum. I’m liking the daily source code audio, although the sidebar stream of consciousness parts with the dog and drivers and such are a little hard to take. Still, its your party so who am I to complain about the refreshments? It is inspiring me to maybe do one of those myself. As I unpack the house I’m running across all my old audio equipment from the Reality Break days. Maybe I’ll hook that up and record a post every day. Other than voicing and doing promos for WREK, I haven’t been involved in radio seriously for 6 years now and this might be enough to help me relive my heyday.

Working at Home

My workdays are now spent in this office at the house. This is the third major stint of me doing a fulltime telecommute. Each time I do this, while I enjoy and prefer this situation without reservation, I do get a little weird. One thing is the amount that I mutter to myself all day. It’s basically like an ongoing narrative of me talking to myself. I don’t sit in silence all day when I’m here by myself, I’m usually talking just to no one in particular.

I had been taking my MP3 radio programs that get recorded by RadioLover and burning them to CD to listen on the train and at work. Yesterday I just listened to some of those files directly on my iTunes. You can tell when I do, because the “Recently Played Songs” list fills up with radio station names. Because RadioLover saves the ID tags out of the stream, they are usually tagged with the station name. It looks like I’m listening live, but that’s just the canned tags. Yesterday I listend to “Zydeco Est Pas Sale”, the Saturday morning zydeco show from KRVS. I liked cruising around in my pickup, blasting that show from the radio, back when I lived in Lafayette. I’ll admit that while I like zydeco, I’m not the most informed fan of it. It can have a tendency to all sound alike, especially if you don’t speak French. It is fun to listen to, and it made great background for the workday. In previous telecommute stints I have sometimes found myself in the late afternoon, after having worked in silence all day, wondering “Why didn’t I turn any music on?” That shouldn’t be a problem now – I have a two month backlog of radio shows to listen to.

Making progress

After a weekend and a few evenings of intermittent work on the office, it is getting there. I’ve actually been doing my regular day job work in it the last two days and tonight I was motivated to make more room and to find my box with all the wires and cables in it so that I can have all the computers and the printer on at the same time. A little bit more work and it should be in pretty good shape.

As you can see on the left, I’ve got these cabinets on the wall which are over my desk. There are six cabinets, each with three shelves so I’ve got a total of eighteen shelves right there to put stuff with the added advantage of doors that can shut to hide it. I’m trying to use this as an aid to getting myself organized. The big problem with something like this is a basic taxonomy problem. Do you first get your system down and then begin putting the stuff in, or do you just kind of jam stuff in and let the categories become apparent afterward? The problem with arranging the system first is that it can take a long time to get it perfect, and then it might not match your stuff anyway. I’ve opted to go for a provisional system, which I’m now using to unload boxes into those boxes. After I get all the stuff in, I’ll reevaluate how it all is and go through each shelf one by one to organize the items well and possibly combine or split categories as needed.

To the upside, my bookcase arrangement idea has worked pretty well. It makes that corner the “library”, in which the books are arranged pretty densely in that one spot. Once the floor is clear of debris, our plan is to put the table that used to be in our breakfast nook in there. With the futon there, a little table and all this stuff it will be kind of like a studio apartment.

The Watercooler Gang

In my reasonably recent past, I had a job I hated. I was far from the only person who hated this job – pretty much every coworker did too. One of those people asked me today, “are we the watercooler gang?” Sadly, I think we were.

We spent a lot of time complaining about how bad things were, but we did better than that. We spent a fair amount of time – sometimes disobeying direct orders not to – building tools and infrastructure to not just stomp the fire but effect a lasting change that would solve this problem not once, but always forevermore. We create build automation when the situation presented to us was “If you want your stuff to go into this version of the product, move your compiled binaries to this folder.” We found we couldn’t live like that, and we pitched fits but more than that we built real solutions to those problems. Slowly, they moved the company from a garage operation to an actual business that could do things like match versions of the released product to the source that built it, standard everyday stuff that should be there in a grown up operation but wasn’t.

If I had it to do all over again, I’m not sure I would. We did an awful lot of complaining, spent a lot of time and energy and emotion raging against the machine. Demonstrably, the company was better off for us having done it but were we? I don’t know. Neither I nor any of my coworkers feel like we ever were or ever will be paid back for the pieces of ourselves that we put into that place. I think my heuristic moving forward is that when presented with thse sorts of problems and after proposing solutions, does the management and structure of the company fight the solution? If so, maybe you shouldn’t put a lot of yourself into this fight. The failure of the joint is a done deal, and you are merely prolonging the inevitable by helping them limp along better. Perhaps it is better to let the situation get worse, such that either they don’t fight your solution or the people fighting it get fired (as did happen at this company eventually.) It is hard, though, for motivated people who want to make things better to sit by and allow them to fester. I do know that the complaining didn’t really help, even though it seemed like a necessary thing to do or else suffering an embolism every day. I wish I had taken all that fire and energy and turned it into something that mattered, though.

We still talk about writing a business book based on the amazing example in how to do nearly everything wrong in an organization. It really was quite amazing. When the VCs gave the company money, I was surprised and frankly disappointed in their shoddy due diligence. My recommendation would have been to keep their cash in their pockets, because this bet ain’t ever paying off. Said book would be a case study for how to take a good idea in a business space with a booming market and a group of smart, motivated developers and parlay that into nothing. My proposed title: “How to Fuck Up a Wet Dream Without Hardly Trying: Case Studies in Destroying Start Ups ”

Pirates as Market Researchers?

David Rothman makes a point that I once got shouted down for making. When I dared suggest to a group of writer/publisher types that they had two irreconcilable ideas as their opposition to ebooks, that:

  1. There is no demand for etext
  2. Illegal downloading is rampant, so if we offer it electronically then people will just steal it left and right

I suggested that savvy publishers could look at the books that were traded illegally as an indicator for titles for which there already existed a market demand. I mean, people care enough to trade it, right? It’s not perfect, but as a first approximation I’d make the assumption that this would correspond to a willingness of people to download it for pay.

It’s also worth noting that the files that I’ve seen most often in newsgroups and the like are almost always books for which no legitimate etext exists – Harry Potters and the like. It seems simple enough to me – if people are willing to trade things, that implies an energized fanbase. Even if the people trading wouldn’t be potential customers, I would treat them as the tip of the iceberg that points to a potential paying market lurking under the surface. The only reason you see the one activity is that it is physically possible – people do have the ability to illegally trade the files. The legitimate market will never be visible until you give the people something to buy. Really, when the files are already being traded, what to publishers have to lose? All typesetting is electronic nowadays, so the cost of getting into the etext is low, the cost of selling it is low, the file is already out there illegally so the risk is low. Go for it and try to make extra cash down the higher margin pathway, for pete’s sake! These are the kinds of experiments that change industries.

Rescue Me

I’ve been watching the new Dennis Leary show Rescue Me. I’ve always liked Leary, but I think this is the best dramatic work I’ve ever seen from him. He’s the co-creator, co-writer of several episodes and the star. This show is simultaneously funny, poignant, sarcastic and rude. Leary’s character, Tommy Gavin, sees dead people – primarily his firefighting cousin who died on 9/11. I like the way that you can’t tell whether this is magical realism or whether Gavin is losing his mind. His life is falling apart in many ways as he is getting a divorce, dumping AA and returning to drinking, and engaging in all kinds of self-destructive behavior. It’s a testament to Leary’s charisma that he can make this guy, who is in most ways an unlikable son of a bitch, a sympathetic character. He’s a tough guy with a tough job, and just this side of completely losing control of it all.

I also like the complexity of the characters and the moral ambiguity of the show. In one storyline, the chief of the house beats up a gay retired fireman for saying publicly that dozens of the firefighters killed on 9/11 were gay. From the confrontation scene, we get the inkling that while the charge may or may not be true, the gay firefighter might also be a self-aggrandizing liar. Then, in the fight the chief is actually getting his ass kicked until he hits the other guy from behind in a sucker punch. This is not simple black and white stuff. Bad people can be on the right side of an issue, good people can be completely in the wrong, everyone can be making a terrible mistake at any time. In the last few years, almost entirely from cable channels, we have seen a renaissance of TV shows that continue a more complex view of humanity than the simple good guy/bad guy stuff of the last 50 years. I think this a highly positive trend. Even as the proportion of offerings tilt ever more towards schlocky bullshit reality programming, the scripted shows we are left with are inching up in quality.

I recommend this show highly. It shouldn’t be hard to find, because FX is showing it at least three different nights a week.

Olympics

So I have been distracted with other stuff this time out, but I have never ever been so uninterested in an Olympics as this year. Usually I have at least some interest and follow some of the events. I just couldn’t care less now. I don’t know why this is. Part of it might be the disillusionment of watching what hosting the games did to Atlanta. I see the Olympics as this corrupt and malign force, one that gets cities to compete for the privilege of being ruined by them. Whatever the cause of my indifference, it is real and as far as I’m concerned, they might as well not be happening.

Update: Via Boing Boing comes this story about how spectators being denied access to the events for having items of non-sponsor brands. This is the kind of thing that dispells for me the quaint illusion of the Olympics as this pure bastion of sport done for love. That may exist at the individual competitor level, but at the organizational level it’s all about the cash. Do what brings the most in, and kiss the ass of the folks who pony up.

The Last Moving Post

I’m getting bored writing about it, so I can only assume everyone else is getting bored reading about this move. The way the dog looks in this picture of our empty living room prior to the stuff arriving, that’s how I feel about these moving posts. I promise after this post to move on, subject matter wise. Now that the big dramatic questions like “will the moving truck catch on fire and incinerate all my possessions?” are settled, we are on to more prosaic questions like “which of these 150 boxes contains the toenail clippers?” We’re under no particular time constraint to get unpacked, so as far as I’m concerned it can take as long as it does. Of course, there are always the spot-unpacking concerns when you absolutely have to have the blender right now and of course you don’t think to look in the box with the hedge clippers.

In a comment, Troy asked for photos of the house. This is what my office looked like a few minutes ago. Kind of a relaxing space one can sit in and concentrate no? I’ll post another one after this has been made habitable, as kind of a before and after. Note that although this room is an explosion of boxes and crap, the computers are set up. Of course only the Linux server is on the network because I can’t find the box with the power cords and ethernet cables. You can barely make out off to the right in this photo that I’m attempting a wacky bookcase layout. Although this is a really big room for an office, with the built in cabinets on one wall, the bay window on another and lots of outlets and a window unit airconditioner on another there isn’t a lot of wallspace to set the bookcases against. I can use some of those cabinets to hold books, but what I’m trying to do is set up the four bookcases back to back so that I can get them in a smaller space. This might be an experiment that fails – until the room is more cleared out it will be hard to tell, and I can’t clear out the room until I start putting books on shelves. Still, I’m going to give it a shot. If it works out, then it will be really cool.

I sort of hate to pitch all these boxes, most of which are in fine shape. There isn’t any conway.craigslist.org nor even a myrtlebeach.craigslist.org so I’m not sure how to find someone who might could use these things. I guess we’ll break them down and set them aside and hope that we can find someone who needs them. Failing that we’ll try to recycle them, and only in desperation will we send them to the landfill. Between the giant piles of newsprint paper and the boxes, we have a huge amount of easily recyclable stuff that we hope can be reclaimed.

There you have it, the last post on moving. I’ll perhaps put up another photo or three of things after they get straightened up but for now that’s it. On to the future!

Shelter from the Storm

Well, now we’ve been through our first hurricane and it wasn’t that bad. Shortly after the previous post we began to get a lot of rain and then strong winds that looked like they could blow down trees. Our patio completely filled up with several inches of water, and one of our shutters blew off the house. We lost first our cable, followed a few minutes later by our power, and those were off for a few hours. They are all back now, our patio is drained and is in fact completely dry now. The sun has even been peeking out here and there. Everything is now fine. I’ve been celebrating our good fortune by wiping out the kitchen cabinets with Lysol wipes.