Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Goodbye DirectTV

Finally shut off the DirecTV setup today with a switchover to Time-Warner HD Digital Cable. Was planning this for awhile but finally acted on it after our last windstorm which was pretty much straight out of TW's commercial knocking satellite TV.

Given that our dish had to site on a ten foot pole to get clearance over the roof next door, it's not quite the victory for cable that it might be. Generally we found the picture quality better on the satellite as compared with TW's digital cable. Most average storms had no effect on reception. Still, I didn't like the mounting on our roof (I half expect to find a square yard missing from the roof every time we have a heavy wind, at least until I get on the roof to take the disk down).

Since it cost nothing extra I went for the TW "High Definition" service. So far there's not much bang. With the exception of HBO, the other channels either broadcast loops or their standard 4:3 signal, except over HD. WNET (PBS) has a loop running all day. So, no loss by hooking this into the Tivo which doesn't support HD. Picture quality through the HD feed (R/G/B cables, not DVI) is nice, a bit clearer than the regular feed, even for non-HD channels.

e.p.c. posted this at 14:07 GMT on 2-Dec-2003 .

blah blah blah

This «Ideology and Technology: Mode of Information as Critical Theory» is an ancient essay I wrote in 1991 that for absolutely no particular reason I converted to HTML and posted in my essays & articles section this morning.

The context was something like this: I was the lone "professional" student in a course studying Rhetoric and Post Modern Ideology. It was the Spring of 1991 and I just wanted to finish, leave, graduate, and get back to work in lovely Myers Corners, NY.

The gist of the paper (no, I didn't even re-read it before posting, probably a dumb move) as I recall was that electronic communication was changing the things people communicate in much the same way that writing did. Furthermore, the marxist notion of "mode of production" didn't necessarily imply a "mode of information" or the creation of an all-seeing entity.

Whatever. It as fun to write but I think it had/has some severe flaws (partly because the weeks leading up to finishing it involved me lying in bed fending off Mono for 1/4 of the semester).

Enjoy, or not. Yet another amazing thing one can do when you keep transferring stuff from one digital format to another.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:26 GMT on 2-Dec-2003 .

Back to Iraq again

Christopher Allbritton is going back to Iraq. Earlier this year he raised money through his weblog to go to Iraq before/during the US invasion and posted articles without the aid of US censors or US media intermediaries. He's now planning to return in March 2004 for a longer stint covering the aftermath of the US invasion, again raising initial funds through his blog.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:47 GMT on 2-Dec-2003 .

Friday, December 5, 2003

It's snowing

I'm declaring a snow day and working from home. (Ok, I was already planning to work from home, but the removal of the satellite dish has to be postponed yet again as I will not get on the roof when it's snowing.)

e.p.c. posted this at 10:33 GMT on 5-Dec-2003 .

Saturday, December 6, 2003

Information Overload?

Something to read later when I have more time: Jonathon Delacour: Overloaded Self-employment, a constant Internet connection, a weblog, and a mildly addictive personality turn out to be a killer combination—even for someone who no longer feels compelled to post regularly, let alone every day.

e.p.c. posted this at 14:12 GMT on 6-Dec-2003 .

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Speaker recommendations?

I need recommendations on decent, not too expensive, but decent quality speakers for my office. I bought a GE "home theatre" speaker setup for the low, low price of $39.95 a couple months back and...well, they suck. The sound is very tinny and there's almost no bass (even with the subwoofer turned up all the way).

My office is a weird layout, so something or a pair of somethings that I can place around my monitors as well as focus in a separate location would do wonders.

No, this is not an oblique request for a holiday present.
Well, not really.

e.p.c. posted this at 19:10 GMT on 9-Dec-2003 .

Standing on Ceremony

The Village Voice: Features: Standing on Ceremony by Erik Baard One couple met in a lower Manhattan lounge and another at a college campus in California. Others met through work, activist gatherings in Massachusetts, and even at a wedding performed at a McDonald's in Minneapolis. An artist/webbie and a technology professional, a marketer and a student, a folk-singing peace activist and a professor, a sales executive and a corporate librarian, an NFL defensive tackle and a spa owner. These pairs fell in love, share homes, and plan to be together for life. But none of them are married couples, because U.S. law doesn't allow gays to legally wed. Surprisingly, however, all but the NFL tackle and his partner are straight.

e.p.c. posted this at 21:52 GMT on 9-Dec-2003 .

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

It's About Time

Internet Time Blog: Time Time is all we have. Most of us can feel time speeding up. Many of us are enslaved by time. But most of what we consider "time" is actually in our heads.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:13 GMT on 10-Dec-2003 .

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Oliver's Chelsea gallery is opening its new show on Saturday, running from December 13, 2003 — January 10, 2004.

Easy Riders takes inspiration from the fertile confluence of filmmaking and art in southern California in the 1970s and early 1980s. The visual vocabulary developed by a groundbreaking generation of Los Angeles-based artists, among them David Hockney, Ed Ruscha, and John Baldessari, informed art films, commercial films, even erotic films.

Easy Riders follows this language of desire in a small selection of artists from three decades, the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s.

David Hockney's photocollages establish a bodily presence in the midst of a dynamic, flitting visual field. His work has significantly informed the practice of many emerging and mid-career artists, such as Tina Barney, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Elizabeth Peyton, as well as the artists who accompany this exhibition.

Bruce and Norman Yonemoto's 1980 film, Garage Sale, features a number of L.A.-based artists of the time, including Tony Oursler, in a series of absurd vignettes about sex, desire, and anxiety.

Simon Leung's 1998 video, Surf Vietnam in three parts, employs surfing as a bridging metaphor between the United States' western shores and Vietnam. Leung invokes a landscape of memory and myth that is as uncertain as his newspaper surfboards riding the Pacific.

This exhibition has been organized in collaboration with Charles Scheips and Steve Henry, with special thanks to Gregory Evans.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:55 GMT on 11-Dec-2003 . , Comments [1]

Friday, December 12, 2003

Blog Pointer: Orcinus

I'm liking a new blog I found: Orcinus. It's center-left, focussing on news media and the Right's (ab)use of media.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:37 GMT on 12-Dec-2003 .

Harriet Evelyn Sian Lewis-Bowen

Congrats to my friends Abigail & Alister on the birth of their daughter Harriet Evelyn Sian, this morning around 4 a.m. I expect pictures to magically appear soon on the family website

e.p.c. posted this at 22:30 GMT on 12-Dec-2003 .

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Do not do this in visio

Selecting all of the objects on a page (say, maybe 20-30) and then defining a new custom field with the value "=pagenumber()" seems to cause Visio to crash in little bits of Microsoft gorp.

It's most unfortunate to do this after editing the diagram for an hour.

I am now going to walk the dog.

For the rest of the weekend.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:23 GMT on 13-Dec-2003 .

Monday, December 15, 2003

The Design Of Voting

Design Institute: project: The Design of Voting: One Year AfterAfter the November 2000 election, politicians, designers and public institutions began exploring the relationship between design and the election process in America. Never before has the entire election process received so much scrutiny and never before has the role of design as an agent of political change been so clearly defined. A number of voting design projects have been launched since the election; all trying to solve similar problems and asking the same question: How do we use conventional design practices and methodologies to improve the experience of voting in America?

e.p.c. posted this at 00:36 GMT on 15-Dec-2003 .

IBM to Export Highly Paid Jobs To India, China

WSJ.com - IBM to Export Highly Paid Jobs To India, China In one of the largest moves to "offshore" highly paid U.S. software jobs, International Business Machines Corp. has told its managers to plan on moving the work of as many as 4,730 programmers to India, China and elsewhere.
The unannounced plan, outlined in company documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal, would replace thousands of workers at IBM facilities in Southbury, Conn., Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Raleigh, N.C., Dallas, Boulder, Colo., and elsewhere in the U.S. Already, the managers have been told, IBM has hired 500 engineers in India to take on some of the work that will be moved.

IBM calls its plan, first presented internally to some midlevel managers in October, "Global Sourcing." It involves people in its Application Management Services group, a part of IBM's giant global-services operations, which comprise more than half IBM's 315,000 employees.

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

Bought a new stinkpad (in theory)

I bought a new IBM Thinkpad X31 today, in theory. I write in theory because I can't get any status on the order (the IBM order status page times out with a server error 400 after about 30 seconds). The receipt I received was misclassified as spam ('cause it looks like spam) so I didn't even see it initially, and it took me three tries to buy it in the first place.

Good thing IBM pushed a bunch of us through the paces in 1999 with the "bullseye" redesign.

Anyway....it's a Thinkpad X31 with 1024Mb of memory and 40Gb of dasd. Built in wifi and bluetooth. I should have seen if I could buy more mouse button thingamajigs since that's the major problem with my current stinkpad.

When I placed the order everything was listed as "in stock". The receipt I received in mail made it clear that in IBM lingo, "in stock" doesn't mean "in stock". I'm not sure what it means, however my system won't ship until January 2004. Funny thing is, if it doesn't ship before the end of the year I might as well cancel the order since the whole point was to get a tax writeoff this year (and based on past experience, IBM won't charge the card until they ship the system, which is the right thing to do, except not what I need).

e.p.c. posted this at 23:32 GMT on 15-Dec-2003 from Brooklyn, NY. , Comments [2]

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Lord of the Rings vs. Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Wicked mashup of the BTVS musical Once More With Feeling and The Lord of The Rings: A Lord of the Rings and Buffy the Vampire Slayer Musical Adventure: index.html

e.p.c. posted this at 18:39 GMT on 16-Dec-2003 .

Machine Politics in the Blog Age?

Interesting article on the effect of networked communications to diminish the value of large organizations, and in turn the effects on politics and large political parties like the Democrats: Q: What will happen when a national political machine can fit on a laptop? A: See below (washingtonpost.com)Back in 1937, an economist named Ronald Coase realized something that helped explain the rise of modern corporations [...] Coase's insight was this: The cost of gathering information determines the size of organizations. Size is now less of an advantage in organizations, and that means more competition in the global marketplace. For companies, it's either reorganize or die. Being a Democrat or a Republican isn't enough of an advantage anymore -- there are simply too many other places where people can get political information and find political bedfellows in an age of low information costs.

e.p.c. posted this at 19:36 GMT on 16-Dec-2003 .

Heromiles: put those frequent flyer miles to use

I haven't flown since 11/30/2001 and have no immediate plans to do so. Of course, this means that I have a mess of frequent flyer miles on United, American, and Delta from my days as an itinerant technology drone for IBM. I'd heard about a program to donate miles for use for returning or on-leave US troops to use but hadn't found any information about it until tonight: Operation Hero Miles - Official Website. Nothing fancy as site design or technology goes, but it does provide links or forms to donate miles for the airlines who are participating. So I plan to knock a chunk off my United and American accounts (keeping enough to fly if I absolutely need to).

e.p.c. posted this at 20:47 GMT on 16-Dec-2003 .

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Off to see LotR:RoTK

Catching the 1:45 show at Kip's Bay.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:29 GMT on 17-Dec-2003 .

Saturday, December 20, 2003

I think I'm cancelling my new Thinkpad

So...I went through the muck to configure and order a new IBM Thinkpad X31 earlier this week. During the ordering process everything was listed as shipping immediately.

The first email I received back with order status indicated a shipping date of January 15, 2004.

Since 2004 is not 2003, this has absolutely no tax benefit for me for this year. Plus, I know that IBM will introduce new systems in the first quarter that I'll covet.

Finally, the thing holding up shipping my system? The critical component? According to the last status I was able to pull up out of IBM's antiquated status system my order is hung up waiting for something called Microsoft Windows XP Professional.

I guess things have changed for the worse at IBM, since it used to be the operating system was one of the easy givens in building a new computer system. You just copy the install image, increment the license count in Microsoft's database, and ship the drive.

Perhaps outsourcing the data copying to India was not a good idea after all?

I'm giving IBM until Monday to report back a 12/2003 shipping date, otherwise I will cancel the order.

The funny thing is, I know that this isn't a computer systems problem. What I mean is that my experience with PSG while I was at IBM showed that it's not the computer systems at the source of IBM's problems selling on the Internet.

It's the people and organizations, and their complete and utter failure to work together to create a workable solution for customers. Now that I'm on the outside I've experienced the other side of this. I'm sure on Monday various execs and managers will present status for the previous week and all metrics and measurements will measure up, because they only measure the things they want to measure, or know how to measure. The intangible stuff (like, How many errors did we dump back on customers pulling up the order status screen?) aren't measured and hence aren't reported, and thus IBM management continues blindly onwards.

Maybe it's time for a Dell.

e.p.c. posted this at 13:02 GMT on 20-Dec-2003 from Brooklyn, NY.

Saturday afternoon misc

Am watching Tampa Bay lose to Atlanta on Fox. On minor difference is that I'm watching it on Fox's HDTV simulcast. Back in November I'd read that Time Warner will upgrade you to HDTV for free if you have digital service and an HD-capable TV. I did a quick look at the TV and noticed that it has RGB (component?) video input and verified that it indeed can display HD signals. Around the same time we picked up a Panasonic Combination DVD Recorder-Tivo Series 2. Since it's a DVD recorder/player it has component video out as well. Hmm. I ordered the upgrade from TWC and spent a Saturday afternoon rewiring the TV cabinet. We had a net loss of one box (since the new Tivo replaced both a Tivo and DVD player), which was good since the TW digital cable box is twice the size of the DirecTv box I'd pulled out. So, now we can watch Tivo either through the standard S-Video input direct to the TV, or component video (routed through a receiver). There's only seven or eight HD channels on cable, and of those only HBO and Discovery are broadcasting anything appearing to be true HD. Fox is broadcasting the NFL game in what I'm guessing is EDTV format (instead of 16:9 it appears to be 15:9 or 14:9. At this point the Bucs just scored a 76 yard touchdown. Maybe the won't lose just yet. Anyway...the picture quality is quite nice. I don't know if it's the HDTV signal though or the effect of using component video (another two points on the conversion here).

e.p.c. posted this at 16:27 GMT on 20-Dec-2003 .

Tampa game

I'm most definitely not a major football fan, but Tampa seems to have decided to get back into the game (I have no idea if this game even matters or not but it's turning into a decent game to watch).

e.p.c. posted this at 16:30 GMT on 20-Dec-2003 .

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

An I/A disaster

I am neither an I/A nor a designer. In some states it's even illegal for me to even attempt graphic design. This website is a demonstration of my design techniques.

In that context and with those caveats, will someone who is an I/A please pound down the doors at Hold Everything? Their site uses Flash to present their products. Not an evil thing of itself, but their Flash application? A presentation of their print catalogue complete with animated page flips. It just oozes "Please don't order from us online", and indeed, you can't order online from Hold Everything...you're directed to their phone number or to their stores.

e.p.c. posted this at 00:09 GMT on 23-Dec-2003 .

Politically Significant Cluelessness

Pointer to both an article and a new (to me) blog:PressThink: Politically Significant Cluelessness.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:39 GMT on 23-Dec-2003 .

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Happy Holidays

We're in Amagansett for the weekend. Was an easy drive out. Frisket has spent the afternoon chasing Coco and frolicking in the water on the top of the pool cover.

e.p.c. posted this at 17:38 GMT on 25-Dec-2003 .

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Can't figure out where I am

I have a doohickey over there ⇒ which attempts to show where I am, what the weather is like, etc.

I've had something like that off and on on "personal" pages over the years (I think my WHOSWHO FORUM entry probably had one, my .plan had one at CMU, etc). One twist with this current incarnation is using latitude and longitude to hook up with Mapquest and recently, Terraserver to plot on a map and optionally display on a satellite shot.

On changing it this weekend to reflect going to or from Amagansett I played around with the links and discovered they were broken. On trying to figure out why they were broken I noticed this: you can't pull up a high resolution satellite shot from either Mapquest or Terraserver any more. Now, Terraserver sells them so it just may be a marketing move, but Mapquest...used to have an alternate view of whatever you'd plotted on a map that showed an aerial shot. Not great detail but, in my utter inability to remember addresses, enough detail to help figure out the location of a house if I'd been there before.

No more. I was trying to figure out which address was right for some friends (was it 17 Woodland or 71 Woodland?) and tried to pull it up using Mapquest...figuring that if the X marked the right spot I'd be able to tell by looking at the house. Nope.

So...if you don't get a card from me this week, don't blame me, blame the terrorists since I probably sent it to one of your neighbors up or down the street.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:06 GMT on 30-Dec-2003 .

Once you sign up, you can't leave

Army Stops Many Soldiers From Quitting (washingtonpost.com) According to their contracts, expectations and desires, all three soldiers should have been civilians by now. But Fontaine and Costas are currently serving in Iraq, and Eagle has just been deployed. On their Army paychecks, the expiration date of their military service is now listed sometime after 2030 -- the payroll computer's way of saying, "Who knows?" The three are among thousands of soldiers forbidden to leave military service under the Army's "stop-loss" orders, intended to stanch the seepage of troops, through retirement and discharge, from a military stretched thin by its burgeoning overseas missions.

e.p.c. posted this at 12:40 GMT on 30-Dec-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.