Yule persistent.

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

It’s a dark and rainy monday morning in the ATL, but our living room has a bit of warmth and a rich spruce-y smell that comes from, well, that tree in the corner, there.
Yes, we still have our tree up.
And your point is?
I guess it’s almost become a tradition of its own…we get our tree in the very last few days before Christmas, often from the Lutheran church up the street which sells trees and uses the proceeds to help needy folks in the neighborhood. Because it’s the last minute, the pickings are often slim, but there’s usually one tree that has that Charlie Brown unchosen quality that I’m always drawn to.
And so, late to show up, late to leave, I suppose…we usually don’t get around to disassembling the web of lights and ornaments until about the end of January…nowish. But it’s still doing its job…it brightened up my monday just fine, thank you. Our little hedge (well, not a hedge, exactly) against early January Seasonal Affective Disorder.
* * * * *
Elsewhere around here, it’s been a couple of weeks filled with PHP and database backup and terminal windows, and why exactly, hey, can no one FTP in, oh, wait, now they can. The assemblage of system software and open source code that brings this page (and those of several others I know) to the rest of the world is still settling in, and Bill and I are learning more than we ever wanted to know about the underpinnings of web technology. The technical details have moved in and have found space in my addled brain, right next to info on exactly how to load an Ampex ACR-25 quad videotape cartridge machine (circa 1980 technology) and how long to keep a black and white photo in the fixer before rinsing it off. You know, useful stuff.
* * * * *
Despite today’s rain, this has been a great month for walking, and Sammy and I have taken a number of fine strolls off in various directions in our neighborhood. Often, we head for Piedmont Park, which, on a nice day, is choked with dog owners and iPod listeners, all in worlds of their own. En route, we pass a large number of construction/renovation/expansion projects, as our neighborhood of bungalows becomes, one-by-one, a neighborhood of “starter McMansions”—that’s what the AJC called them when they reported Friday that Mayor Shirley Franklin had declared a moratorium on the lot-filling grotesqueries.
These new iterations of intown housing seem to be striving to sell, more or less uniformly, for $1.2 million.
Yes, dollars.
I suppose I should be sanguine about what that means for our little investment we call our home, but I also note that lots and lots (heh) of these are being built on spec, and they sure seem to stay empty, with fancy real estate signs out front, for a long, long time.

2 bit post.

Friday, January 13th, 2006

Okay, let me explain the joke right off. In the oldest days of computerdom, the dots on the screen were either on or off—there was no in between. It was a very black-on-white or white-on-black world. And one of the earliest computers that let you work with graphics—albeit in this very binary way—was the original Macintosh. It’s screen graphics were 2-bit—tiny black squares on white. And what’s amazing is that these early files (which yeah, of course, I’ve saved) can run on my most up-to-date, 21st century Macintosh. In some cases, they’ll run under Classic…but the most fun is to download and use an emulator called Mini VMac, which makes this little window into history, an original Mac running 1983-1984 vintage software, on my modern G5.

Why would I want to do this, you ask? Well, it’s usually when I’m in a mood to get back in touch with how far things digital have progressed. I’ve finished reading one of my Christmas books, Revolution in the Valley by Andy Hertzfeld, and my head’s filled with stories about getting this then-revolutionary software to work in the tiny memory space that the original Macs had (and yes, I purchased one of those in the very first days from a tiny computer store in Gainesville, Georgia.) Behold my ancient Mac, sitting next to a similarly ancient Apple //e and an IBM Selectric (actually, Electronic Selectric) typewriter. So now, here in my 21st century home, I need only click once to return to those thrilling days where everything was either a black square or a white one.

API fun and games.

Thursday, January 12th, 2006

You don’t need to know what API stands for in order to appreciate the power of some of these new Web 2.0 thingies. For my part, I’m just trying to make sure that this site has some basic functionality/usefulness.

To that end I’ve added a WordPress plugin that enables this fine photo page here. It does an amazing amount of stuff behind the scenes, making XML queries to Flickr and requesting photos, data, and so on. I’ve always heard PHP referred to as the ‘glue’ that holds all this disparate stuff together…now I have a little clearer idea how that actually works.

Some folks use these features to adroitly weave together stuff way more than just images…a visit to their weblog will tell you the books they read, the movies they’ve seen, the music they’re currently listening to, the temperature in their back yard…all in an attempt (I would say) to create a dynamic, interesting place for people to return to again and again. Can that go too far? Mmm, yeah, I think so.

But I might try a few more things until I’m done.

Or, I can just keep concentrating on creating entries folks might actually want to read.


Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

Well, I can see I’ve dropped back into a late-night pattern, at least for now, and here’s one more post just as I start to fade away after a long evening after the evening with Sammy. I loaded up the bread machine for a nice warm mornings’ loaf, I finished cleaning the kitchen, I made sure most of the machines in our house had been upgraded to Mac OS X 10.4.4, I collaborated with Bill over the internet to make sure the server had been similarly upgraded, I fixed a couple of problems on my sister’s blog, and well, now I should be dropping off.

But not quite yet.

I wanted to mention that since the beginning of the year, I’ve been back into the rhythm of walking…and I started out on New Years’ Day with a six mile ‘stroll’ over to James and Rebecca’s house in Avondale Estates, iPod in ears, GPS in hand. Since then, it’s been at least two miles a day, and several imes it’s been three, four and five miles at a stroll. And a good handful of those walks have been with Sammy, which is always a treat.

And yes, once back here, the GPS data is downloaded into my machine, converted to GPX and KML files, and displayed on the shiny new Google Earth application that Mac users (with fast video cards) can finally enjoy with the rest of the civilized world. (Although I’ve been playing with the illicit beta, the finished version has been released today on MacWorld day along with all this other hoo-hah.

Lotsa walking and lotsa cool use of technology. Not a bad way to start 2006.

(Word)pressed for time.

Friday, January 6th, 2006

It’s two am, here on the east coast, here on a winter’s night in Atlanta, and I’m awake and at the computer, which, of late, is unfamiliar to me…I’ve been making some effort to align what’s left of my circadian rhythms with Sammy’s.

But we’re making a bit of a transition here, bringing blogs and sites and mail and what have you over to a new machine running Mac OS X Server, and we’ve taken the opportunity for a long-delayed upgrade to a MySQL database and WordPress software? Why? Because of that feeling of power you get when a gazillion transactions occur at once and…well, it’s just way, way more flexible.

So that’s why I’m awake now, because, y’see, it has to happen sometime, and more or less all at once, and that sometime is finally…now.

But there may be a few bumps in the road, and I have a bunch of old content that has to get from the old machine to the new, so please bear with us. And now, I think I could use a bit of shut-eye.