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Just before we went to the beach for the Fourth of July, I splurged on
a toy for myself – iRiver’s
SlimX MP3/CD player
. I really, really, really
love this thing. It plays my old time radio MP3s, which can be all
over the map in bitrates, mono, and weird encodings. It has a remote
control with an LCD readout that tells me what MP3 is playing. It even
has an onboard FM receiver. Rechargeable batteries come with it, and
the menuing system allows you to explicitly discharge and recharge
them! How cool is that? I’ve had it a month and am really taken with
it. The OTR stuff meant that I couldn’t just grab any old $49 player
and use it the way I wanted but I never expected that I’d have a
player I liked this much. On top of everything, it is so small, light
and really cool looking. All around, this device is a thumbs up.

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My friend from Portland, Shannon, pointed out that the CSS was making
the page scroll way to the right on IE. That should be fixed now. I
only use IE when I absolutely have to, since I hate it. I’ve been
using Mozilla for 8 or 9 months
now, and I think it is the way to go. The tabbed browsing has altered
how I use browsers, and being able to bookmark a whole set of tabs and
load umpteen pages with a single menu action is awesome!

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Music TopicSo I need to clarify a little what I’m after with posting
these music links. This is really the thing that got me wanting to do
the weblog in the first place, so I should canonize the ground rules,
if for no reason other than to allow myself to focus on what I’m
doing.

Originally, I thought that I’d post links to musicians that:

  1. I am enthusiastic about
  2. Make their own MP3s available on the web (ie, they choose them to
    be there)

  3. Are NOT major label/RIAA artists (this webcasting
    fee business is abominable)

  4. Have some of that roguish air of independence about them

Now, today’s artists presents a little challenge under point #3
above. She is a major label artist, yet she also is the owner of a local
(to Atlanta) independent record
label
and the champion of many causes for the underdog. I’m talking about Amy Ray of the
Indigo Girls. I’ve always
loved the Indigo Girls. The night I turned 21 I celebrated by seeing
them play at the Little Five Points Pub – if that doesn’t date me
nothing will. Amy released a solo album, Stag that I
really like. Most people seemed lukewarm on it, but I welcomed the
departure from the standard Indigo type songs. One of them, Late
Bloom
I slipped into the automation rotation at WREK. The other
one she has in MP3 form, Lucy
Stoners
is fabulous and would be worth note for no other reason than the feminist
chorus “Lucy Stoners/don’t need boners/no man could/ever own her.”
Both songs are great. Listen to them.

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My coworker Darin sent me this link to
The Poetic Systems
website. How is that for a work environment? I
want one. We’ve got four guys in a not huge office, two of whom are
subject to fits of farting, giggling, whooping over naked women
pictures and other fratboy behavior. Maybe if I worked in
The Aura
this wouldn’t bother me.

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OK, I am definitely going with CSS for this site. Yesterday I decided
“I want all the timestamps to be bold, not italicized.” I’d rather
make one change in the CSS than rewrite all the damn tags, so thus it
goes. I’m going to alter the BlogMax templates to reference logical
names and move all formating to the stylesheet. That way, I can change
something in one second and have it apply to every page the next,
without regenerating anything.

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Music TopicToday’s band is linked to yesterday’s
band
, both musically and personally. Well, the “band” is actually
a person, Diana
Obscura
. She plays cello, amongst other instruments, and her music
is medieval, ambient, haunting and beautiful. I took some of her MP3s
and added them to WREK’s
Atmospherics rotation. I really like her music. Years ago I met her
when she was the one working the Changelings table at
Dragon*Con
and later when she was doing her Creepy Puppet
Theater. She’s very nice, cool and I love her music. Here is
her MP3.com download page.

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Technology TopicAt work one of the tools I’ve used recently is
the GMT – Generic Mapping Tools
. It is unbelievably cool! You can
generate practically any map you can think of via this tool. I
generated all kinds of maps with this, changing the colors, adding the
state or country borders, altering the projection type. If you wanted
to and you had an external data file relating population density to
coordinates, you could generate a 3-D topographic map where height
was related to population in a few command line
statements. Incroyable! I truly love this thing.

Changelings

Music TopicToday’s band is The
Changelings
. I’ve known them a while and I used to use their music
as bumpers for my radio show quite frequently. They have gothic,
ambient, Middle Eastern influences amongst others. I truly dig
them. You can download some of their music from their page at
MP3.com
. The only bummer is that my favorite song of theirs –
“Johnny Ether’s Great Escape” isn’t up there. Check them out, you will
like them.

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Got mail from Bill St. Clair, who added me to the BlogMax links page
today. Thanks, Bill!

I meant to do an entry or two during the day, but I didn’t. I was
planning to set up every computer that I use during the day with the
mode and my templates, but that didn’t work. I carried the stuff to
work with me on a Zip disk, and there isn’t a single Zip drive in my
office! If I had thought this through, I’d have set up my Linux box
first, and solely blogged from it. If I want to make an entry, I ssh
in and go for it. I still might do that. I’m also going to make some
shortcuts to icons. I was going to hunt some up, but I think instead
I’ll just steal them from the
Slashdot
topics page. Those already have the associations I want
to the demographic that reads weblogs anyway.

And, to add to my dumbass day, I locked myself out of the house
walking the dog. Wowza.

Why Evil Genius?

Before I go too far with this, I should explain this “Evil Genius”
business. Does this mean that I think I’m a genius or that I think I’m
evil? Do I want to be in the axis of evil? Although I’m reasonably
bright, I’m not a genius. I’d even call myself pretty far from
evil. So why the name?

In actuality, it all comes
back to
Wile E. Coyote
. Since I was a kid, I’ve always loved the
character. Where the Roadrunner is the essence of smug superficiality,
the Coyote is plucky, indefatigable, continuously willing to keep
trying. Defeat doesn’t stop him. I like that. For 20 years, when I needed some name for some sort of business
venture, I would always use some variation on “Evil Genius” in homage
to Wile E. When I
did my radio show, I
referred to it as happening at “The Evil Genius studios” (my house)
and it was outro’d by a computer generated Macintosh voice saying
“This has been an Evil Genius Production.”

Early September of last year, I was considering getting some of those
free VistaPrint business cards for Evil Genius and I wanted a
slogan. I was considering things like “Ruling the world, one reader at
a time” or “Global domination at affordable rates.” Come the eleventh
of September, it didn’t seem so funny anymore. As part of the whole
“returning to normal life” process, I have decided that it remains
funny. So “Evil Genius” it is, remains and will be forever. So mote it
be. Besides, I already have the evilgeniuscorp.com domain name.

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Another modification to the timestamp – I’m having it put in an anchor
tag with the same name as the timestamp, so that you could link to
this entry as 020727.html#20:38. Of course, I’m not sure if a colon is
valid character so I might have to changed that.

TV TopicMy wife is watching Trading
Spaces
on
TLC
right now. I can’t stand that show. I find it more cruel than
Jerry Springer, harder to watch than the surgery shows. Yipes.

I looked at the web (access) logs, and I actually have had a visitor. As of
this afternoon, at least one person has actually read this log! It’s
official, I’m not talking to myself!

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Technology TopicOK, I sort of kind of figured out the timestamping. The above was done
by pressing Ctrl-Alt-t. I put this in my
XEmacs init.el file:

;; Insert time stamp
(defun insert-timestamp ()
  "Insert current timestamp."
  (interactive "*")
  (insert (concat "" (substring (current-time-string) 11 16) "
")) ) (define-key weblog-mode-map "C-M-t" 'insert-timestamp)

The only problem is that something about this current-time-string
doesn’t get loaded automatically. Until I actually evaluate the buffer
explicitly, none of this works right. I’ve used Emacs almost
exclusively as an editor since grad school (almost 7 years now) and
yet I still feel like I barely know it and am no good at it.

I’m e-mailing to get some permission to quote an SFF Net post. Someone
there posted a week or two ago about the state of current music, which
I’ve been thinking about ever since. I want to refute and rebut part
of what she said, but it would make more sense if I could quote her
post as context.

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Technology TopicSomething else this weblog-mode needs is a timestamper. Dear god, I
need to be learning better Lisp like I need a hole in the head! I
looked at Bill St. Clair’s page of other
Blog Max weblogs
. About half haven’t touched the template, leaving
it straight out of the box. Maybe I should just have the pages
reference a CSS style sheet, then I can edit that and have changes
happen immediately without having to do a lot of page regeneration.

I’m going to mail Bill. Maybe I can get on that list. I’m really happy
with BlogMax so far. I do think I want it to use scp rather than
ftp. Sigh, another to-do in a life full of them. The upload command
didn’t work for me anway, so I scp’d from the Cygwin bash shell.

Now that this log exists, I might as well link to it and include it in
my
MT-Newswatcher
rotating signatures.

Beginnings

Friends and neighbors, citizens of the cybersphere, I too am now a
blogger. I’ve been interested for some time in the phenomena but being
a selectively lazy man, I haven’t done it. Last week I listened to a
piece on
KPBS in San Diego
(via their audio stream) about blogging. Mitch
Wagner, who I know from online various places, was a guest and talked
about his blog, 24 hour
drive-thru
. I remained curious but yesterday found
Bill St. Clair’s
Emacs blog mode
BlogMax
and that was all it took. Barrier to entry now leaped.

In these first few days, I’ll tell you a little about me. I have been
doing something similar via my newsgroups on
SFF Net
and
Dueling Modems
with an itermittent diary. Perhaps once I get
rolling I’ll extend BlogMax to automatically post to those
groups. Wouldn’t that be something? This blog will probably be a
little less personal than those groups just because of the nature of
things. When you know you are addressing a crowd, things are
different.

Quick synopsis, and then we’ll call this entry good. I’m still working
with the key bindings right next to me – I haven’t entered the “Emacs
zen” of this mode yet. I am married to Darlene, a PhD student at
Georgia Tech. I’m a software engineer, working today for a
computer security firm in Atlanta. I got my BS in Chemistry at Georgia Tech and my MS in Computer
Science at The University of Louisiana
at Lafayette
(USL when I was there). I did a science fiction
interview program called
Reality Break
for many years. I’m currently collecting some of
those interviews into an
ebook series
for
Fictionwise
. I did a lot of work for
WREK 91.1 FM
, the Georgia Tech radio station. I’ll enumerate some
of it later (because it was very cool.) I did that work whilst
looking for a job after getting laid off by the evil bastards at
Intertrust
, even though we delivered them a Secure publishing system on time
and under budget. Oh well.

That’s enough for now. Can’t shoot the works with the first
entry. Maybe by the next entry I’ll edit the templates so this looks
not quite so identical to every other BlogMax site. L’chaim!