Saturday, November 1, 2003

Sample digits for decimal digits of π

e.p.c. posted this at 19:20 GMT on 1-Nov-2003 .

Marathon 2003

Went shopping at the local Costco today to pick up the supplies for this year's New York City marathon. This year we have three cases of tissues to hand out around mile 13.5 or so. We plan to get to our spot around 10:00, just before the start of the main race.

e.p.c. posted this at 23:59 GMT on 1-Nov-2003 .

Sunday, November 2, 2003

We happy few

We got up early and made our way to the Mile 14 marker on the Marathon route. It's around 45 Road and Vernon Boulevard. We arrived around 10:30, just after the women's elite group ran through. The women's elite started at 9:35 while the rest of the pack started at 10:06 (a bit early apparently).

I'd bought three cases of tissues yesterday, but given the warm weather today we didn't expect there to be much demand. In the end we handed out a case and a half, or about 45 boxes. We left around 2:30, after the police "sweeper" escort went by.

Frisket was very well behaved and received many compliments from the runners and passers by.

I'll post pix when I find the missing memorystick reader.

Now we are all crashed (we didn't run, but standing for four hours and keeping very alert so as not to collide with any of the runners can be very tiring). I'm speed watching Henry V on the tivo.

e.p.c. posted this at 17:00 GMT on 2-Nov-2003 .

Monday, November 3, 2003

On CSS

I think I've found the right layout balance for the site. I continue to find odd quirks with CSS and layout is inconsistent once you get away from Safari/MSIE/Opera but I also want to avoid hacking anything to be too specific to a browser's problems.

Leave a comment if there's a specific problem with the layout, otherwise this is the look for now (lh content column, right hand navigation and meta data).

e.p.c. posted this at 13:40 GMT on 3-Nov-2003 .

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Welcome to the Soviet Union

So, CBS developed a mini-series on Ronald Reagan. Said series doesn't kow-tow to the Republican Party Line about the legacy of Reagan. In what to me is a remarkable cave-in, CBS allegedly will bow to the GOP and not show the mini-series, perhaps shunting it off to Showtime. I'm not commenting on whether Reagan was good or bad, I'm just stunned that we are now at a point where the political party in power can control the media. Read: CBS Is Said to Cancel Reagan Mini-Series (NYTimes registration required).

e.p.c. posted this at 11:14 GMT on 4-Nov-2003 .

Thursday, November 6, 2003

The Matrix Revolutions

The Matrix Revolutions: eh.

It was ok, but not great. I mean, it just seemed off and it's hard to describe why. The special effects were great, and I thought flowed better than in Reloaded. But there was something wrong with the way the film played out, too much activity in too many places perhaps. In the first two movies, most of the activity takes place either in the matrix, or outside and the story flows along. In Revolutions the story is disjointed, with action occurring in 3-5 places concurrently. I don't know how I'd fix it either.

It's flawed but I'd see it again. Not over and over again (then again, I didn't see The Matrix over and over again either. I didn't see it until months after it came out when I was about to go to Sydney for the first time.).

e.p.c. posted this at 17:14 GMT on 6-Nov-2003 . , Comments [1]

Death by Optimism

In Death by optimism, NYT columnist Nicholas D. Kristof writes: … Ultimately, Saddam's rule collapsed in part because he couldn't read Iraq and made decisions based on hubris and bad information.
These days, President Bush and his aides are having the same problem. Critics complain that they lied to the American public about how difficult the war would be, but I fear the critics are wrong: they didn't just fool us ? they also fooled themselves.
Evidence suggests that Mr. Bush and Dick Cheney may have actually believed that our troops would be, as Mr. Cheney predicted, "greeted as liberators."

I wish administration officials were lying, because I would prefer hypocrisy to delusion ? at least hypocritical officials make decisions with accurate information.
Policy by wishful thinking is crippling our occupation. Initially, U.S. officials didn't restrain looting because they regarded it as celebratory high jinks. Then, confident that security was in hand, they disbanded the Iraqi Army. They didn't push hard to bring in international forces.

More...

e.p.c. posted this at 20:52 GMT on 6-Nov-2003 .

Friday, November 7, 2003

The Tonight Show: feh

So...my brother was in the audience for tonight's The Tonight Show taping. I decided to subject myself to watching and...I guess I'm not a Tonight Show fan. The monologue: eh. I didn't find the 92-year-old "fruitcake lady" segment funny (or interesting). The interview with Russell Crowe was ok. Steve Irwin...too annoying for words, mate.

e.p.c. posted this at 00:40 GMT on 7-Nov-2003 .

On the road

Driving to Washington, DC for the weekend.

e.p.c. posted this at 17:06 GMT on 7-Nov-2003 .

Sunday, November 9, 2003

Ok, you have some skill

We arrived back from DC around 5:30. The drive was ok though the last thirty miles or so took forever.

On the drive back I decided that the Wachowski brothers should spin off the Merovingian into a separate film series, hence this entry's title.

e.p.c. posted this at 23:37 GMT on 9-Nov-2003 .

Monday, November 10, 2003

Ugh. CNNfn changed lineup

So...amongst the habits I've picked up over the past year is an addiction to watching CNNfn. Normally I watch it for 30-40 minutes in the morning, then again around lunch, then possibly later around market close. I don't watch it all day, mostly because I don't have a cable feed in my office. Anyway...this morning CNNfn premiered a new show Dolans Unscripted. I managed to watch almost, almost five minutes before fleeing to CNBC. Just can't watch fluff this early in the day.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:32 GMT on 10-Nov-2003 .

May be time for an rss feed of banned IPs

Blog spam is what happens when people post to weblog comments entries designed to hype a pagerank in Google (by including links to a specific page). It's easy to automate since most sites use the default installation for blog software (a pat on my shoulder for changing the movable type URLs on this site). From Ernie The Attorney: Peter with IP address 217.26.240.61 you are a spammer I got the idea that it may be time to set up an RSS feed of blocked IP addresses. Sure, an innocent user may get blocked but you know what? There's absolutely no obligation on my part to make my site freely available to one and all. I can be as arbitrary and capricious as I'd like. Most of my ~400 blocked IPs are from hosts trying various exploits on my sites. A couple are specific IPs (for example IBM's WebFountain crawler is explicitly blocked). At ibm.com we routinely blocked 100s of IP addresses for various reasons (they still might, I don't know).

e.p.c. posted this at 16:57 GMT on 10-Nov-2003 . , Comments [2]

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Hot Stuff

In Why Heat is the Enemy of Server Farms and Sometimes Less Power Means More, Cringely writes:
For a few years back in the early 1980s, I had in my cellar a Digital PDP-8 minicomputer. Didn't everyone? I bought the computer from a college for one dollar, and my labor to remove the thing from their computer room. Once set up in the cellar, I ran cable and put ADM-3A terminals in every room. This was years ago, but my clearest memories of that old PDP-8 were toggling-in the boot loader from memory IN THE DARK following several power outages and one earthquake. Oh, and the machine raised the ambient temperature in my house about five degrees. That box put out a LOT of heat, and heat is the topic of this column. It is the enemy of big server installations, the bane of blade servers, and there are times when heat turns computing economics on its head and makes it smart to use computers that are less powerful, not more.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:39 GMT on 11-Nov-2003 .

The Elements of Style ...now online

The Elements of Style is now online at bartleby.com. Note that this is the original 1918 edition, not one of the later editions by Strunk and White.

e.p.c. posted this at 20:10 GMT on 11-Nov-2003 .

Rejected by google

I applied for the Google adwords program...and was rejected!. Apparently my little site is not up to their standards.

e.p.c. posted this at 20:12 GMT on 11-Nov-2003 .

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Ohio Town Empties as Utility Buys It

The town of Cheshire, Ohio pretty much sold itself to a major utility, to end years of litigation between the people of the town and the utility: Ohio Town Empties as Utility Buys It (washingtonpost.com) One load at a time, one house at a time, this community is being dismantled. Dozens of houses, and a 100-year-old church -- which former occupants have stripped of doors and windows and fixtures -- are empty shells waiting to be toppled and carted away. Demolition began in the heat of summer and will not be completed until the snows of winter.
What had been the village of Cheshire will soon become open space, with only a handful of houses remaining, along with a pizza parlor, a hair salon and gas station.
American Electric Power Co. (AEP), the nation's largest electricity producer, has purchased Cheshire for $20 million after years of acrimony with residents over emissions at the coal-fired Gen. James M. Gavin Power Plant, whose towering smokestacks are just steps away from their homes.[...]

e.p.c. posted this at 11:48 GMT on 12-Nov-2003 .

Thursday, November 13, 2003

cmuSKY: realtime visualization of wifi users at CMU

I could have used WiFi when I was at CMU (instead I worked out of a pit of a grad student office in Baker 168). cmuSKY: A Wireless Andrew System is a graphical near-realtime presentation of CMU's wifi users and access points. It's just the main academic campus, none of the dorms are shown, nor the Mellon Institute.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:14 GMT on 13-Nov-2003 .

MAME Jump

An alternative video for Van Halen's Jump!: MAME Jump!.

e.p.c. posted this at 18:48 GMT on 13-Nov-2003 .

Gone with the wind

So, about a half hour ago, the scaffolding put up after this incident decided to part ways with the building it was protecting. It's amazing how loud a girder flying through the air into the street can sound when you're directly across the street. The FDNY is out now taking apart the scaffolding, at least the parts that are still hanging on and not blown down Hicks.

e.p.c. posted this at 23:01 GMT on 13-Nov-2003 .

Saturday, November 15, 2003

No Wiggle Room in a Window War

In the past year, New York State updated the state code governing buildings to require bedroom windows to be at least 5.7 square feet in size. This is causing conflict in the Amish communities in western NY, which have their own religious/cultural requirement that all windows be 5 square feet in size (ok, I'm not sure it's an area requirement as much as the dimensions of the windows are fixed). The local township has sided with the affected Amish while the state wants to haul everyone into court. Read: No Wiggle Room in a Window War.

e.p.c. posted this at 01:04 GMT on 15-Nov-2003 .

Ghost zip code 10048

Most large buildings and complexes get their own zip codes, so the World Trade Center was not unique in having its own zip code (I'm surprised it only had one actually). The zip code still gets a sizable amount of mail each day. In the weeks after the Saudi attack I read about the postal workers who used to deliver mail at the WTC, who were now virtually delivering the mail in an area of the GPO where they had recreated the various mail zones of the WTC. They'd sort the mail and "deliver" it to containers for the specific companies, who then may or may not have sent someone to pick up the mail. Anyway, according to NYC: Twilight Zone for ZIP Code at Ground Zero, there's still 3-4000 pieces of mail arriving today destined for seven buildings which don't exist.

e.p.c. posted this at 01:11 GMT on 15-Nov-2003 .

More CD shopping in Oz

Just received the last of another excellent CD shopping trip to hmv.com.au, The Power and The Passion, a collection of tribute covers of Midnight Oil tracks.

§

As far as I can tell it hasn't been released or even imported in the US yet. It's a mix of bands so you get a variety of interpretations of the Oil's music. You can order it from HMV Australia if interested (As an aside, I applied for the HMV affiliate program but I doubt I'll get accepted, besides I won't be ordering as much with the AUD/USD rate at .7 these days.)

Also picked up on this ordering binge: The WhitlamsTorch the Moon, Delta GoodremInnocent Eyes, and The WaifsUp All Night. These all arrived about a week after I ordered in October. The Power and The Passion was backordered and apparently shipped last week. Still not a bad way to buy CDs. With the exchange rate evening out it's not necessarily cheaper than Amazon however I don't think any of these CDs are available in the US yet.

Well, except for Brooklyn, NY of course.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:25 GMT on 15-Nov-2003 .

Sunday, November 16, 2003

kos: The battle for the soul of the Democratic Party

Good article in the Daily Kos about the growing split between Dean supporters and the so-called mainstream Democratic party: The battle for the soul of the Democratic Party.:
...the hatred the establishment feels against Dean has nothing to do with ideology. Dean hasn't paid his dues with the establishment. Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi has made his name working the campaigns of insurgent (hence anti-establishment) candidates like Jerry Brown. He is not part of the chummy inside-DC club of Democratic Party consultants.

If Dean wins the nominantion, he becomes the head of the Democratic Party. He gets to replace McAuliffe and fill the top ranks at the DNC. Suddenly, a "DNC Chairman Joe Trippi" is a real possibility, and for an establishment that has spent the better half of the last decade laughing at Trippi's antics and dismissing him as a kook are suddenly standing on shaky ground.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:34 GMT on 16-Nov-2003 .

Rant on blog spam

weblog spam:
Weblog spam is not the sort of thing that’s going to hit the front page of CNN anytime soon, but it has been a minor annoyance for some webloggers, and it has been my experience that these things can escalate from “minor annoyance” to “Usenet-level catastrophe” in record time. [...] The first thing that the anti-weblogging-spam advocates need to realize is that the spam landscape has changed. [...] Spam works and it is big business, and spammers are increasingly organized and increasingly business-savvy. [...] It’s organized crime rings who hire programmers to automate everything they possibly can (domain registration, ISP registration, free email account registration) and hire menial workers for pennies an hour halfway around the world to do all the manual things they can’t automate (like get past image-based login systems). They hire virus writers to write extremely sophisticated viruses that exploit all known holes in everything, install spyware, malware, adware, and remote control programs with which they can both send more spam and launch distributed denial-of-service attacks... against anti-spam advocates.

Read the complete article.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:42 GMT on 16-Nov-2003 .

Sunday

Brunched at Noho Star with Misha followed by an aborted shopping excursion around NoLita. Frisket is at Monster Mutt for the day.

§

I'm looking for a new pair of casual-but-dressy shoes and think I found them in a pair of Rockports but I want to do a little more comparison shopping.

My current pair of Eccoes are DOA, they wore rather unevenly and the left shoe cracked across the ball. Since my left arch is (and probably will forever be) sensitive, I've learned to get picky about my shoes.

We also dropped into Kamrooz Aram's workshop/studio via Oliver and Oliver Kamm/5BE Gallery.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:00 GMT on 16-Nov-2003 .

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Interactive Web Annoyances

I have been comparing web hosting plans for a client today and came across an incredibly annoying feature on several of the sites: immediate interaction with a sales person. At first I thought my goofy mouse button had secretly hit "Chat with our sales vermin" link, but then I ran into it again on a site where I hadn't clicked anything and there was no "chat" buttong to click.

This may well be a great thing for the sales droids, but it makes a difficult task (comparing and contrasting web hosting platforms) even more annoying and painfully slow.

For anyone wondering, the hosting setup at Pair is coming out ahead. I'm looking at base features (PHP, database, CGI, disk space allotment, bandwidth allotment) and ease of extensibility.

e.p.c. posted this at 13:30 GMT on 18-Nov-2003 .

Web Hosting cont'd

Continuing my research, I delved into the ibm.com website, the structure of which I'm vaguely familiar.

I surfed and I surfed through ibm.com/services and it appears that the prices-on-the-web wienies finally one, at least in web hosting. See, no where could I find a listing of features and costs. I'm certain the information is there, but I'm on a hit-and-run surf and turf sort of thing, not a "where or where could they possibly hide web site hosting information" task.

I'm sure it's there, I mean, IBM hosts web sites. It's called "e-business hosting" this week, but good luck finding a price and features sheet for the US market.

e.p.c. posted this at 18:32 GMT on 18-Nov-2003 .

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

The Marketing of a President

The Marketing of a President:
Zephyr Teachout sits at her computer in a dimly lit nook of the Dean for America headquarters in South Burlington, VT, and dreams of the real world. "I'm obsessed with offline,'' says the director of Internet organizing for the Howard Dean presidential campaign. Teachout is a key architect of one of the most effective marketing efforts in the history of national politics, and the most sophisticated online campaign to date. Using a variety of Internet tools, from the electronic journals known as weblogs to social networking sites, the Dean campaign has propelled the Vermont doctor from near-anonymity to the front of the Democratic pack aiming to replace George W. Bush as chief executive of the United States.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:43 GMT on 19-Nov-2003 .

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Hackers Live by Own Code

Hackers Live by Own Code
The confrontational style of Davidson's hacker isn't unusual. As they troll through other people's computer networks, hackers abide by their own quirky rules of etiquette. What would strike most folks in corporate America as bad manners or worse may be considered the height of courtesy in hackerdom.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:10 GMT on 20-Nov-2003 .

The penguin is mightier than the sword

Berke Breathed is about to resurrect Opus from Bloom County as the lead of a new Sunday strip called Opus: Salon.com Arts & Entertainment | The penguin is mightier than the sword:
> Last we heard from you, via the Onion interview a few years back,
> the odds of you ever doing a strip again seemed pretty slim
> (to put it mildly). What changed?

The world went and got silly again. I left in 1995 with things properly, safely dull, and couldn't imagine why anyone would feel it necessary again to start behaving ridiculously. It would have been at least courteous of the Republicans to warn a few of us inclined to retire our ink-swords that they had King George waiting in his zoom-zoom jetsuit aching to start the Crusades again.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:15 GMT on 20-Nov-2003 .

Deconstructing OS X reviews

Daring Fireball has an excellent deconstruction of an excellent review of Mac OS X: What Siracusa does so well ? year after year, with each review ? is to examine nearly everything that?s most notable about the latest version. He writes about what deserves to be written about, both good and bad. So many times with reviews of any nature, one gets the sense that the reviewer is following a formula: spend the first two-thirds of the review saying what?s good, then sprinkle in a few negative points to make it seem ?balanced?..

e.p.c. posted this at 15:33 GMT on 20-Nov-2003 .

New Stinkpad: X31

I'm considering buying a new stinkpad, a model x31. I know there's at least two readers of this site from ibm.com, if either is using an X31 could you please drop a note or comment and let me know if it's worth buying?. My X21 is holding up more or less ok but the mouse button's worn out and if I'm going to upgrade I might as well do it this tax year.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:44 GMT on 20-Nov-2003 .

Friday, November 21, 2003

Wells Fargo Client Data Theft

A simple theft nets Wells a world of woe Break-in behind bar puts clients' data at risk.

Apparently Wells Fargo outsourced some customer related activity to a consultant. This task included handing over customer data like account numbers, social security numbers, etc. The computer containing this data was stolen from the consultant's office! This is bad enough, except that we're customers of Wells Fargo. Well, for now. Yet another reason to drop them.

e.p.c. posted this at 13:02 GMT on 21-Nov-2003 .

(!@*$(*%#(* patents

In 1991 Ken Zuroski, myself, and...a third student at CMU demonstrated a UI for direct manipulation of menus using a cube...basically a Rubik's cube. We demo'd it, got our grades, and then shelved it. I couldn't do anything with it since I was at IBM, and at IBM in 1991 Junior Associates did not file for patents. Since I was but a lowly Information Developer, and not a Researcher, there was even less chance to do anything with this. And, our demo proved, computers couldn't do the rendering necessary to make such a technique remotely useful. Thus ended my days as a UI designer.

Cube to offer UI to kill for tells about a company which is filing for patents on this technology, which,although I have yet to see, sounds remarkably like what we demoed in 1991. Argh. Double argh.

I'm angry less that I'm not getting credit (which I gotten used to over the years), but that someone could likely get a patent on this. Wonder if I can file for prior art.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:14 GMT on 21-Nov-2003 .

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Interesting piece on a performance problem

In Teal Sunglasses, Chuq von Rospach writes of a performance problem encountered when upgrading a system. See, the code didn't change, but it did change what it was doing, and as a result performance dropped like a rock:

First bottleneck was fairly easy, some relatively CPU-intense code in a key loop that happened to be invariant. Moving it out of the loop got us back to only 80% slower. what was nasty was the second bottleneck. It was in a piece of code that didn't change between releases. It was a series of regexes in perl that were doing find/replace on tokens in hunks of text.

So, how can something that doesn't change change?

The code didn't change. The assumptions around the code did. This project was about internationalization, which means unicode, utf, multi-byte characters. Perl knows about these things, and tries to make sure the right thing happens. here's the key: If input data comes from a Unicode source--for example, if a character encoding layer is added to a filehandle or a literal Unicode string constant appears in a program--character semantics apply.

Since we're now feeding UTF-8 and converting to an appropriate character set, perl is using the character-based regexes for unicode instead of the previous byte-based ones when everything was 8 bit. And they're slower. Much slower. So while the code didn't change, the data did. And that changed the performance metric of the code.

And of course, since the code changed, that was the last place we thought to look. Profiling and some panic-laden debugging helped us find the code block in question, and about three hours of serious rewriting turned it from ten global search/replace operations to a single pass tokenized find and replace.

e.p.c. posted this at 12:27 GMT on 22-Nov-2003 .

Sunday, November 23, 2003

On this date in 2003

We slept in a bit this morning and then took Miss Frisket to Monster Mutt for the day. Lisa and I drove Todd to SoHo for brunch at Mercer Kitchen.

Todd cabbed to LGA while Lisa and I tried another round of "Let's buy some decent shoes for Ed" since my Eccoes have worn themselves out. I didn't think it would be difficult but this is the second weekend of looking and failing to find a decent pair. I think I'm going to go back to the place we found last weekend on 1st Avenue and buy the Rockports.

Dinner last night was at Joya with Todd and some friends of his. The King Massaman Beef Curry is excellent there, almost as good as I remember the dish at Malaya on George being in Sydney.

Otherwise not much is new, we're both catching up on work. We're driving up to Boston for T-day, staying at the Hotel Marlowe and doing T-day dinner with the Lewis-Bowenses.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:00 GMT on 23-Nov-2003 from Brooklyn, NY.

100th Anniversary of Flight

So, this year is the 100th anniversary of flight. Well, controlled flight. Many others tried, but the Wright Brothers actually managed to take off and land. And survive. On December 17, 1903, the two guys brought their contraption to the beach at Kitty Hawk, NC and flew it (100ft I believe, maybe 200).

Anyway...it also happens to be two years since I've been on a plane, which is kind of weird if you know anything about me in the preceding few years.

I think I figured in 2000 I flew around 75,000 miles, and close to 30,000 in 2001 (when I didn't even work most of the year). In the preceding years I flew a more sane 15-20,000 miles.

In 2002 I flew 0 miles.

So far in 2003 I've flown 0 miles.

The reason why has somewhat to do with 9/11. Not because of the actual events, but because of my belief that the airlines could have done better with security. No guarantees that the hijackings could have been prevented, but the airlines could have done more than the bare minimum they were doing.

§

Post 9/11, I flew perhaps another 10-12 round trips. Mostly up and down the East Coast (I even flew in to DCA on the day after it reopened). I wasn't afraid, tense perhaps but having been addicted to the science of flight since I was a kid, I knew how planes worked and knew what "normal" conditions could cause problems. I thought I knew what to expect.

One flight had an "incident" where a passenger acted weird. In the emotional and paranoid climate of the day, it did not help matters that this passenger appeared to be of "middle eastern" background. Instead of landing at LGA, we landed at IAD and the passenger was escorted off. But, showing how little the airlines had learned, the crew managed to make a bad situation worse by telling the remaining freaked-out passengers that the person who had been escorted off did not have any carry-on luggage, nor had he checked any bags.

So, would you like to continue on to New York now?

We did, because again I knew how these things worked and in my own head had written off the passenger as an older guy with a gimpy leg who was having a bad day and just happened to have such bad day in the post-9/11 era.

We arrived home late and went to bed. I managed to fire off a note to the consulting people I was working with in Columbus, OH that I would come out on Tuesday instead of Monday due to our little "incident".

Oh, yes, this was the brief period of time where I worked as a "consultant" for IBM's Business Innovation Services. I still have no idea what I was supposed to be doing other than show up so they could bill customers for my time. My first project consisted of confirming the systems architecture of the lead consultant, who also happened to be the person evaluating my report.

My second (and last) consisted of reviewing I/T materials for a ...company based in Columbus.

Seemed they had a severe problem rolling out a new software environment and had called in IBM to review the situation and make recommendations. What a complete and utter mess we found. But, my role was to ...I have no idea. My background then and now is mainly with networked applications and networked systems operations. This situation was first and foremost a business management problem that compounded various I/T related problems.

So, I hated that job and it all but convinced me to quit IBM. I mean, after my brief but somewhat illustrious career, I was a bit put-off to be shuttling around the country doing what can only be called look-busy work.

So, in a sour mood, I woke up the following morning to watch David Haffenreffer on CNNfn again announce a plane crash in New York (this was like 60 days after 9/11 where he had been the reporter we'd watched at 8:50 a.m. report about a small plane crash in WTC 1).

Bleah.

I flew to Columbus the next day and did my bit as a consultant but since air travel was a critical component of being a "Senior Consulting I/T Architect" I began making other plans.

Eventually I got offered a job in a CIO/CTO/something role at a startup in Manhattan and made my plans to leave IBM.

It's pretty telling that when you send in a resignation letter you get no response from your alleged managers (in those days at BIS one had a personnel and a project manager, both of whom had some role in deciding what you did). Neither of my managers blinked. I offered to complete a final week of work, returning to NYC for my last day at IBM on November 30th.

So, I did the flight thing, put in my final four days in Columbus, playing Snood and clearing up various close-out issues (making sure, for instance, that various registrations I'd done for IBM when I was the Corporate Webmaster didn't unexpectedly expire).

I left for the airport nice and early on Thursday the 29th. I'd already had missed a flight earlier in the month due to some bozo in Atlanta who carried a gun past security. Kind of wish they'd bill these people for the lost business and time and whatnot. It was raining but nothing major.

We board the plane, a little commuter jet thing. It's a quick 90 minute flight to LGA so I settle in. It's raining a bit more. After everyone is seated, an airline representative gets on the plane and announces two things: This plane is overloaded so we are removing all of the luggage, followed by: ...we are looking for two to three passengers who will volunteer to take another flight, you will arrive at LaGuardia about twenty minutes after this flight.

I do a quick mental calculation: 1) overloaded plane in degrading weather conditions == not good and 2) Did he say free travel voucher?. I get off the flight, walk literally up the gangway to another counter and back down a gangway to another plane.

The intent is that I'll fly to CVG, spend about thirty minutes on the ground, and then on to LGA.

The flight CVG is quick, maybe twenty minutes. We land and I discover that my LGA flight has been delayed an hour or so, so I set up shop in the Crown Club and relax.

At 7:00 we board the flight. It's a bit crowded, actually every seat is taken. There are three other cancelled flights which have been collected together onto this flight.

They close the door and back away the required minimum distance from the gate. Once the plane has safely travelled the ten or so feet, the pilot gets on and announces that we're to be held on the ground indefinitely due to weather at LGA. But hey, we managed to keep that "on-time" departure.

Around 8:30 we finally take off from CVG, for an expected landing around 10:00 p.m.

Around 10:30 I notice that we're still flying. Somehow I'd managed to sleep most of the flight and woke up with a bit of a start. We were circling somewhere over Connecticut. Around 11:00 the pilot gets on and asks passengers and crew to prepare for landing again.

I think to myself: again?

Apparently we had already tried landing once while I was sleeping. Now we had to land because they'd only fueled the plane for the 90 minute flight to LGA. Not an hour of idling on a tarmac followed by the flight followed by an hour of circling.

We descend over Brooklyn. You can tell we're over Brooklyn because to the west you can see the very bright lights of the WTC site.

Descending.

Descending.

Descending.

Hey, there's the Grand Central Parkway. Almost there.

DeeeeASCENDING.

CLIMBING VERY QUICKLY.

We pull away from LGA and the pilot announces he could not see the runway. Now, if you've ever flown into LGA you know that at the point you're over the GCP you pretty much are over the airport. Unfortunately the runway ends abruptly in water, so it's also not the sort of thing you want the pilot to screw up.

We ascend and fly west over New Jersey. The pilot announces we are to make an emergency landing at EWR. They call it an emergency landing because 1) we're supposed to land at LGA and 2) we're running out of fuel.

For a plane that's allegedly running out of fuel, we fly what seems like a long time, perhaps another forty minutes, before landing at EWR.

And here's where the story gets fun.

We taxi to the gate but have to wait to pull up because there are so many planes unexpectedly landing at EWR that there's no free gates.

After about 30 minutes (easily past midnight) we taxi up to a gate.

And sit. An attendant announces that we're to wait until a gate agent could come to the gate.

The gate agent person comes onto the plane and announces: We apologize for the inconvenience, however we intend to wait until the weather clears and then fly you to LaGuardia. You will have to remain on the plane until you reach LaGuardia.

Um.

At this poin I've been sitting in this plane for over five hours, and have been "travelling" for over nine hours. Another couple of hours and I should be able to see the East Coast of Queensland.

Well, if I was flying to Sydney that is.

But now, I was flying from CMH to LGA via CVG and EWR. And here, we were to wait patiently to fly from EWR to LGA (which I could likely walk faster).

I was not alone in being displeased and several of my co-detainees made their displeasure known to the flight staff.

Finally the gate agent announces that we are free to get off the plane, however they will not remove our luggage and we're responsible for getting our luggage from LGA in the morning.

Since I have no idea where my luggage is, I exit pretty much immediately. I know that I could get from EWR to home via trains. Maybe four other people get off with me and join me at the phones in the terminal. I called Lisa and told her the latest (though I'd been SMSing her with updates when possible).

While on the phone with Lisa I heard a steady but growing roar.

I'm not sure what they'd announced on the plane, but the entire remaining crowd of passengers marched up the gangway to the gate desk and started screaming at the gate agent.

I departed and after an hour managed to get home just past 1:30 a.m. November 30th.

Since it was to be my last day at IBM I spent the next hour doing clean up on my Thinkpad and my various accounts on IBM's systems. I sent the last of my "good bye" notes and went to bed.

In the morning I showed up at 590 Madison, IBM's main office in New York City. I fill out the necessary paperwork, sign the forms, and formally exit with a manager I'd never met before that day.

I'd never expected to leave IBM. But the previous months had filled me with a sense of disgust. I expected more from a company I'd given so much of my time and talent to and was just utterly disappointed at the treatment I'd received.

But, we're not done with the airline story. See, at this point I still don't have my luggage.

That day, the 30th, I decide I don't have the energy to deal with cabbing to LGA, dealing with a surly luggage desk, and cabbing back home. All at my expense of course. So I return home and get a decent nap in.

Saturday the 1st of December I get a call at home. It's a guy with the luggage desk at Delta Newark. He tells me he has my bag (so the plane never made it to LGA) and tells me he'll ship it over to me that day but asks: before I ship it though, can you tell me how a bag with CMH to LGA tags on it arrived on a plane from CVG here in EWR?. So, I relate the preceding story. My bag arrived that afternoon.

The whole experience left me with a profound distaste for flying. It wasn't the worry about hijacking, or the fact that the airline could not do anything about the weather. It was the contempt shown by the staff over and over again in all of the flights taken since 9/11 that just turned me off.

So, now I'm thinking I should get back in the air and am contemplating a junk, throw-away flight. What would be a good destination for a good 90-120 minute flight?

e.p.c. posted this at 21:50 GMT on 23-Nov-2003 .

Monday, November 24, 2003

blog migration

I finally figured out how to migrate the older Radio Userland entries into Movable Type. I'll have to write up what I did since there seems to be little information on the net about it. The net effect is that this blog now has over 800 entries dating back to 2001.
2001 and earlier is rather sparse until I migrate in some other content I maintained in a simpler, non-blog, journal.

I reserve the right to revise, edit, and delete earlier entries.

There's content from my earthlink.net site which didn't migrate well, I'm not sure what I'll do with it yet.

e.p.c. posted this at 03:13 GMT on 24-Nov-2003 .

Mapping Votes by County

I thought this was pretty interesting: style.org > Mapping Votes by County County maps and the 2003 California Statewide Special Election. Some of the work I'm doing for my current client involves trying to visualize various bits of electoral data on the cheap.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:48 GMT on 24-Nov-2003 .

Thursday, November 27, 2003

T-day 2003

So, for this weekend we drove up to Boston. Along the way we stopped off at Grenadier Golden Retrievers, Frisket's birthplace.

We're staying at the Hotel Marlowe, in Cambridge, MA.

I'll hold my comments on the hotel for now, though I'll note it's kitty-corner from the Sonesta.

The drive up was pretty easy. I slept in the back for the first hour while Lisa drove. Then we switched and I drove the remainder to Worcester and Cambridge.

§

I just returned from an evening walk with Frisket. We walked up to Binney and walked maybe 200ft on Binney before Frisket stated that she wished to return to the hotel.

I've been here before, Lotus Development Corporation was at Rogers and Land (Street? Boulevard?), and I was an occasional visitor to the LDB.

The thing that struck me then was how empty the neighborhood is at night. Granted, it was after 11:00 when I was walking Frisket, and it's not exactly a warm evening here in Cambridge, but it's a weird contrast to downtown Manhattan.

Downtown Manhattan can also be quite empty, but it doesn't feel as empty as this part of Cambridge does. Here it looks and feels like someone took an office park or industrial estate and plopped it down in a city. There's lots of space between the buildings and the streets are wide and clean and...empty.

Give me New York any day.

e.p.c. posted this at 00:52 GMT on 27-Nov-2003 .

Friday, November 28, 2003

Haggis: vicious fox-like creature of Scotland

Tourists dream of hunting haggis: A third of US tourists who were quizzed about their trip to Scotland said they believed the haggis was a creature.

The survey also revealed that almost a quarter of those questioned thought that they could hunt and catch the country's most famous dish.

e.p.c. posted this at 14:14 GMT on 28-Nov-2003 .

Yahoo! Sets Up Christmas Tree With Internet Receiver

Yahoo! Sets Up Christmas Tree With Internet Receiver: Yahoo.com has set up a Christmas tree in Herald Square with a wireless Internet receiver on top.

New Yorkers walking by with a laptop can set it down and log on via the tree's receiver. Or they can use one of the computers set up next to the tree. It's meant to help holiday shoppers compare prices.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:50 GMT on 28-Nov-2003 .

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Archive of 1980s era computer books

Found AtariArchives.org - archiving vintage computer books, information, and software via /.. Even has The Best of Creative Computing volumes 1-3 (I have the print versions of 1 and 2).

e.p.c. posted this at 15:17 GMT on 30-Nov-2003 .

11/30/04

Drove back from Boston this morning, amazingly it only took four hours (3 1/2 if you deduct the time we spent at a rest area).

Over the weekend we caught dinner at Redbones in Sommerville and watched The Great Lebowski at the Lewis-Bowen mediaplex.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:02 GMT on 30-Nov-2003 .

Slightly acerbic and eccentric dog walker who masquerades as a web developer and occasional CTO.

Spent five years running the technology side of the circus known as www.ibm.com.

More about me here.

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