I will smack you like a bad bad donkey, ok?

Archive for May, 2006

What Good is Freedom if You Can’t Enjoy It?

Posted by pete on 28th May 2006

This morning Lis and G headed down south for their annual family trip to the OBX. I bid them goodbye last night. I’ve always been various degrees of miserable while there, but this year is the first since 1999 that I haven’t gone. I like to say that it’s because of the new job and not having accrued enough time off yet, but, truth be told, I think that even if I had, I’d still be staying here.

I’ve been looking forward to my week of bachelorhood. In the preceding couple weeks, I’ve been thinking of things I can do either by myself or to reconnect with some “long lost” friends. Now that it’s here, though, I can only see that my family’s not here and that I miss them terribly.
Hopefully, as the week goes on, I’ll enjoy things more. As I was telling Gracie yesterday, “You can miss someone and still have fun.” I guess I’ve gotta starting taking some of my own advice.

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Mac Abuse

Posted by pete on 26th May 2006

This is hi-larious. Great use of the motion sensor, though you’ll only catch me beating my MBP when frustrated, but I’m not the boss of you, so go right ahead and abuse your MBP, I don’t care.

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Early Father’s Day

Posted by pete on 26th May 2006

Karen, my oh-so-wonderful sister-in-law, has access to tickets to the Yankees-Nationals game
on Father’s day. I had forgotten to check if my Yankees are playing in D.C. this year and by the time I found out, I assumed that they were sold out. Now, it turns out, I’ll be going to the game on Father’s Day. Woot! (To show what a good son I am, I’ll think about my Yankee-loving father while I’m at the game. It’s only right, you know.  Maybe I’ll send him a snapshot.)

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Posted by pete on 26th May 2006

A couple days ago, I found this Ars article on eMusic. I had seen their ads recently, but wrote them off as just another DRM-laden peddler. Turns out I was wrong. They offer DRM-free tunes from many different indie lables. While they don’t have many (any?) acts from major labels, they have a very deep and wide catalog: the long tail. A lot of jazz, classical, world, and root music too.
They offer a 25-song free trial. I was a bit annoyed by having to sign up for an account before getting this, but it makes sense as a method to avoid abuse. I signed up for their lowest-level account: $9.99/mo for 40 songs/mo. After I download my 25 songs, they gave me the chance to drop out or continue. I think there’s also a 14 day limit, but little over 24 hours after I signed up, I’ve used up my free songs and mostly used up my 40 songs for the month. (You can get “booster packs” to suppliment your monthly allotment.)

This could be what I’ve been looking for for quite a while. It’s easy to use (4 out of 5 stars), integrates decently with iTunes (2.5/5), has a pretty good catalog (3/5), and the price seems reasonable ($0.25/song and less — 4/5). I think I could spend a lot of time here (like with the iTunes Music Store, before I swore off DRM) and get a lot of music (unlike the ITMS, where tracks are $0.99/ea).

If you’re at all interested in signing up, please drop me a note either via email or in the comments and I’ll send you an invite. For every person who signs up through me, I get 50 free songs. :)

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Whatcha’ Doin’?

Posted by pete on 21st May 2006

I’ve always had a hard time explaining why this stepped up government surveillance is bad and wrong. When it became known that Bush directed the NSA to snoop on domestic calls, I was really surprised that a lot of people (initially about 67%, but now more around 50%) mostly thought the trade off of privacy for security was worth it. “I have nothing to hide.”

I’ve never been good at debating and persuasive writing, but I like how Bruce Schneier puts it. Maybe, with time, most people will see the problem with what Bush is doing. Maybe they’ll see that the damage he’s doing to our country, our way of life, our standing in the world, and our freedoms is much greater than what any terrorist attack can directly hope accomplish.

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Emacs Keybindings for Thunderbird

Posted by pete on 10th May 2006

To continue my previous post, here’s the jar file for Thunderbird In OS X, replace the tookit.jar file in /Applications/ with this one. In contains the changes from here. Or don’t. I’m not the boss of you.

Posted in Geekery | 1 Comment »

Emacs Bindings for Firefox

Posted by pete on 3rd May 2006

I read Dave’s post about getting Emacs bindings in Firefox With the new Firefix update to, I went and created a new version for OS X 10.4.6. Seems to work nicely. Sweet.

Posted in Geekery | 2 Comments »

Making the Switch

Posted by pete on 3rd May 2006

I’ve had a MacBook Pro since the day I was laid off from VeriSign. Over time, I’ve slowly adapted to its little sharp corners that made the Apple OS X platform not as attractive to me as it has my wife. Now, I can easily say that I like it.

At work, I’ve got a wimpy Dell that I run Fedora Core 5 on. It’s good for most people, but fairly under-powered for my needs. I finally got annoyed enough with its wimpiness that I started talking loudly about replacing it with my MBP.

Mistake. I think I hurt its feelings as soon after that, it lost power, then wouldn’t start X when it came back up. Taking this as the final kick in the pants, I went with working on doing the switch instead of fixing what I think is the problem with X.

I have never used a Mac on the desktop for anything longer than five minutes, so it was a bit bumpy, especially with my PC keyboard. Not only did I have to start figuring out a new keyboard layout (Macs and PCs swap the ALT(?) and Win keys), I had to contend with not having a “c” key.

A few weeks ago, I spilled a diet Coke on my nice Microsoft keyboard. (I’m not a big fan of their OS, but I do love their split keyboards.) I cleaned it right up and everything mostly worked except for the “c”. After a more thorough cleaning, it all did work then, but it still flakes out every-so-often. On the MBP, pressing the “c” key tends to trigger the Exposé “show windows” action. This is not really the best key to have that function mapped to. I gave the keyboard another thorough cleaning, but nothing seemed to help.

The next-door crackhouse Best Buy is where I got the keyboard last time, so I went back there soon after they opened. Sold out. Dang. I played with a cow-orker’s Apple keyboard for a couple hours (hated it), then went off to get Stick Meat with some of my ex-cow-orkers.

After a tasty lunch and some catching up, Grumpy and I went to our neighborhood crack house Apple Store. I needed to get a USB hub and wanted to look at other possibilities for a keyboard. It was there that I found the Logitech S 530 Laser, specifically for the Mac.

While it’s not a split keyboard, it is a very nice, low profile keyboard. The key action is nice to me, but they might be placed just a bit too closely for my big fingers.

I also picked up an iSight for Deadli’s Powerbook. She and G seemed to enjoy using Photo Booth and the iSight built into my MBP. The Apple crackhead I talked with said that Photo Booth was included in the iSight package, so I thought, “What the heck? Why not?” Well, the Photo Booth software I was told was in the box was not, but it’s still fun to play with and I think Deadli and G will have a good time with it anyway.

So, finally, we got back to the office and I started to integrate it all and settle in. I’m still not comfortable, but things are starting to fall into place and I can see myself into this new workflow very shortly.

I liked the fact that each of my three main computers — home, office, and laptop — ran a different OS. I felt that it gave me a good overview of and experience with the main OSes out there. Now, I’m a bit sad that I’m mostly using just the two consumer OSes. It’s not because I got disenchanted with Fedora Core or Linux. I got disenchanted with the hardware it was running (well, “walking quickly”) on. I don’t think OS X or Windows would do any better while doing the same tasks on that hardware. (If I could even get Windows to do the same tasks.)

Overall, I’m pretty happy about it. I’m looking forward to getting back into the office now and getting back to “the struggle.” Additionally, having my work computer with me all the time might open the door to other usage possibilities.

Posted in Geekery | No Comments »

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