Friday, December 3, 2010

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

    So, in my usual searching around the Internet, and sifting through all the articles I've found about Net Neutrality, the government trying to silence the whistle-blowers over at WikiLeaks.org (They are now hosted in Switzerland because the US Government doesn't want them talk freely - thus they pressured Amazon to stop hosting them), and all those domains that the US government seized at the request of the MPAA and RIAA... and I found this interesting writing by John P. Barlo titled A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace.  I like it primarily because I feel that it is the way the culture of the Internet needs to be treated.

     The Internet culture does not belong to any single country - although each individual on the Internet does reside in a country.  I don't believe it is right to allow any government to claim jurisdiction over the Internet, or even parts of the Internet.  The Internet should be an Anarchy- which is something that should only be allowed in a virtual world.  Anyone who publishes content on the Internet is creating an offering to the collective database;  it's not that publications are being given away, but it is the responsibility of the content owner to enforce their ownership rights...  even if that means taking the case to a court in the physical world. 

     Anyway, I recommend reading the declaration below.  It was originally written as a response to the Telecom Reform Act of 1996; I think it has some really good points, and it's surprisingly relevant today.

Later,

     SteveO
-------------------------------------------------------------
A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace
By John P. Barlo
February 8, 1996

It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.  
— Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia

     Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

     We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.

     Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions.

     You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions.

     You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts.  Many of these problems don’t exist.  Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means.  We are forming our own Social Contract.  This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours.  Our world is different.

     Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live. We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.

     We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.

     Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are based on matter, There is no matter here.

     Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.


     In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis.  These dreams must now be born anew in us.

     You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants.  Because you fear them, you entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.

     In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media.

     Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish.

     These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.

     We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace.  May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I got a hammock...

So, I still can't help but feel this is the wrong season to get a hammock.  I don't see myself setting it up for camping purposes in a little while, but I think it will be nice once the summer rolls around again.  I also have a hanging kit for it that can help get it up between two trees without tying any knots or anything.

So, now all I need is a nice summer-like day to put it up and spend some time relaxing between a couple of trees.

In other news, I've determined that getting a "Not-a-Snuggie" blanket with sleeves on it was a good idea.  The weather is getting colder, and it's really nice to have a warm blanket with sleeves to keep the cold away.  Jaani and I have been laying on the couch watching TV today, and the it just seems like as much as the heater runs, it just doesn't warm up very much in here.

Oh, on a note that isn't about me... apparently Eric is on a small island along the coast of Belize, where he had a front row seat to hurricane Richard (which is now a tropical depression.)  I am not sure what ended up happening because I haven't seen Eric online today, but he said the weather was pretty crazy the other day.  I'll get back to the updates about Eric as soon as I hear more, but I'm sure he will be fine.

anyway, that's all for now.

Later,

     SteveO

Friday, October 22, 2010

Getting my workstation back into place...

So, Eric went on his trip to Central America, which you can follow on his blog, and that means I get my office back.  So, I know what you're thinking... you're thinking "Hey Steve, isn't that a Windows computer on the left?"  Well, yea, it is... but I have an excuse!  You see, I took it out from the bowels of the black hole I call a closet so I could help a friend of mine test his software (which only runs in... or rather he only wants to provide support for Windows...) So, yea, I have a Windows PC hanging around... Actually, behind the laptop and netbook on the right, I have 4 more Windows PCs that I am currently working on for somebody...  So, Microsoft has managed to infiltrate my home... kinda.

That being said, I am happy to say that between my desktop, 2 laptops, netbook, cell phone, ipod, and Internet Tablet (all present in the picture) only one device runs an OS that is not deeply rooted in Unix.  (that being the Windows laptop...)

Soon, I'll actually make things a little more interesting when I put Android on my Ipod Touch, but that will come later.

Anyway, so, I've got a little more to get done as far as setting my workstation up.  I still have to wire the network for that room, because even though my computers all have wireless adapters in them, the computers I'm working on don't.  Which means I need to bridge my wireless network to make a local network for the repair portion of the work area.  I also need to work on my electronics area, and I think I will need to get another table for all that stuff.  Well... I'm sure I'll come up with something interesting.

So, to say the least, I have a few things on my mind while I'm working on this, but with a little luck, I'll be up and running some time tomorrow before noon;  However, for the rest of the night, I have some updates that need to be run on that Windows PC, and my netbook is still running Ubuntu 10.04... so I'll have to update that to 10.10 tonight (which could take a couple hours because the network is currently running a little slow in this end of the house.

Oh yea, in other news, I also ordered my last dual band WiFi N adapter, which means that this is the weekend I make the switch from 2.4Ghz 802.11G networking to 5Ghz 802.11N networking... that will get me less interference from my neighbors' networks, a stronger signal in my office, and 300Mbps WiFi (rather than a mere 54Mbps...)

So, that's my plan.  I hope yours is just as exciting.

Later,

     SteveO

Sunday, October 17, 2010

One hell of a burger!

So, I stopped by the Lunch box Laboratory today in Ballard... oh boy, that was good food, but I don't think I'll need to eat again for a week.

The beautiful burger you are looking at there is the hothead. It's 1/2lb of super beef (prime rib, sirloin, and chuck beef), 1/2lb bacon, pepper jack cheese, and jalapeño ranch sauce. I got it with garlic fries and a chocolate covered strawberry shake.

I'll tell you, I've never had a burger quite like this. It cost me $21! I know, it sounds crazy, but they are only open for four hours a day, and they closed 2 hours early today because they sold out. When you get there, you have to wait in line, but once you order, they are quick to get your food out. Every day, 300 people have a chance to enjoy one of their sandwiches, and if you don't see one on the menu that has what you want, then you can make your own... just choose your meat (lamb, chicken, or beef), choose your toppings (and there are a ton), then if you want a side (which they have quite a few of those too) and a drink... if you want more than just water.

Normally, I wouldn't write about a stupid sandwich, but this one is really special. If you visit Seattle, it is something you need to try.

Anyway... I just had to share that.

Later,

SteveO

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Roku Player!

Roku XD|S (Left) and Original Roku Player (right)
So, in anticipation of Hulu Plus on Roku, I've gone ahead and purchased the latest and greatest Roku XD|S Player.  So, what is the difference?  Well, aside from the size and 3 extra buttons on the remote; it's capable of 1080p playback, supports 802.11N WiFi, and it has a USB port for music and video playback (with a firmware update coming in November 2010).  One other change they made was the removal of S-Video and Component plugs on the back, but apparently they have a component video adapter that is sold separately.

Besides, I found someone who is interested in purchasing my old one, so... why not?

If you didn't already know, I love my Roku Player, which is the best way to watch Netflix on your TV.  In addition to Netflix it has the ability to stream video from many independent video sources.  My favorites are YouTube, Revision 3, and Mediafly (which is an online podcast service... so you can basically create your own channels by combining podcasts you like.)  It also supports Amazon Video on Demand, but I really don't like paying per video.  I guess the content isn't really worth that much to me.  Besides, when I can watch unlimited Netflix for $21 (which also includes 3 DVD/Blu-Ray discs at a time)... and if Hulu Plus stacks up to be worth it's $10 monthly fee, then I'll be happy as can be.  And, I can get rid of my Cable bill... which I pay $10 a month for just to get HD...  Plus the Basic cable fee...

Anyway, I'm excited to really put this thing to the test.  I'll be running some side by side comparisons on my dual (1080p 24inch) PC monitors, which might be a waste of time, but I want to try it anyway!

The one thing that I am a little disappointed with though... no DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) support :(  For those of you don't know about DLNA, it's this standard which is pretty much being implemented by everything form your Network Attached Storage devices and home routers to gaming consoles and mobile phones... It lest you stream Video from one device to another.  The best part is that your computer already does it.  It doesn't matter if you use Windows or Linux or Mac.  I even have a router with a USB port for attaching a USB hard drive, and the router will stream video via DLNA to my Xbox or Cell Phone.  If Roku added DLNA support, I would have no complaints about the device.  My fingers are crossed that the November update will include DLNA support, but I haven't ready anything from Roku to confirmed that.

Until I really play with the devices a bit more, I'll leave you with this slideshow:


So, until I have more to say on this...

Later,

     SteveO

Friday, May 21, 2010

It Rose from the Grave!

 So, I guess the question you may be asking yourself is... who cares about this picture?  Well, it was exciting for me to take this particular picture because I took it with my Cannon... which was recently pronounced "dead" until further notice.  Well, so what happened?  I'll tell you, I decided to take a pair of pliers and rotated the lens (counter-clockwise.)

I guess the funniest part is that I went online, and I was reading all sorts of blog posts about the lens errors that cameras come up with, and I found out that manufacturers never cover lens errors.  They are almost always caused by either sand/dirt getting caught in the lens mechanism, or they are caused by the camera turning on while something is blocking the lens from extending.  In either case, costs a bit of money to deal with it.  So, after going to a number of blog posts, and reading the same instructions over and over... I decided to just see what would happen if I took out a large pair of pliers and rotated the lens a little.  At first, I kept trying to rotate clockwise, which pushes the lens in, but then I rotated a little bit counter-clockwise and heard a click... actually it was more like a snap, which I thought had broken the camera for sure!  Well, then I turned it on, and it worked!

Anyway, it was good news on an otherwise not-so-good day.

This might lead you to wonder what all that crap in the picture is.  Well, among the seven USB memory sticks there is a Muvo (2GB MP3 player), Bluetooth Adapter, WiFi A/B/G/N adapter, microSD to USB adapter, microSD to SD adapter, microSD to miniSD adapter, and my HTC Droid Incredible.  I guess there is also a SD card case and a clear case from my Ipod Touch that I store all of this stuff in (except the phone.)  I guess I just have way too many USB stick shaped devices.

Anyway... So on one final note.  What I had hoped would be the end of my annual job searching cycle didn't work out.  Which means that I am back on track for my annual contract cycle.  I had hoped to stay at one job for a few years, but it looks like that might not be happening yet.  So, worst case scenario, I can just go back to my usual client for the next year, but I'll keep you all posted on any more interesting developments.

So, that's all for now.

Later,
     SteveO

Monday, May 3, 2010

More about that phone I got... Apps edition.

This is the Web view of my history with Cardio Trainer
So, I've been playing with all sorts of apps today.  I must have downloaded a couple dozen games, and a few random apps that I didn't even think I would want.  So after scouring the Internet for blog posts and articles about the best ten apps, I have come up with a short list of apps that I am kinda impressed with.

The list is in no particular order... I just put them all in what ever order I wanted.



Cardio Trainer
by WorkSmart Labs

So, the idea of this app is to do a number of things: it tracks your path, gives you a running total of all your workouts, has leaderboards (to compare yourself with others - a meta-game if you will,) you can export your workouts to KML files (for use in Google Earth or Maps,)  and it tracks where you stop while working out.  So, in the picture above you can see the path I walk Jaani on the most often around the apartment complex.  I guess the reason I like this app more than something like My Tracks (which records your track and general statistics like speed and an elevation graph, then uploads it to Google Maps automatically), is because it tracks all your workouts and gives you a summary page to view everything, it tracks when/where you pause your workout,  and it displays an estimate for calories burned during your workout.  There are also two paid ($2.99 each) features that come with free 7 day trials: Race Yourself, and Weight Loss Trainer.  I haven't gotten a chance to play with those yet, but I'm pretty sure once the weather really starts to get nice, I'll want to take advantage of those too!  (I'll tell you about it when it happens... I'll also tell you if I think they are worth $3.)


Meebo
by Meebo, Inc.

Meebo is awesome.  Here is what you do: Go to Meebo.com and create a free account; then use that account to log into your AOL, MSN, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, MySpace, ... accounts; finally log into your Meebo account via the Meebo app for Android.  Why would you have your Meebo account log into all of them rather than add each individual account via your handset?  Well, because then your handset has to do all the heavy lifting of logging into the accounts, but when your Meebo account does it, I noticed a very clear performance increase.


Prey Phone Tracker
by Fork Ltd.

Prey Phone Tracker is a good solution for those people who don't use Google Latitude (because Latitude updates your phone's position every 5 minutes.)  Prey Phone Tracker only updates your position when it is turned on via text message, or the online web interface.  When your code word is sent to the phone, Prey immediately sounds an alarm for 30 seconds on your phone (in case you misplaced it somewhere nearby,) then it emails you a report every 5 minutes.  One problem though, on the Incredible, it only works once, then you have to manually stop the app and restart it (I use Free Advanced Task Manager for that... also a killer app I'll talk about some other time.)  The other issue is that when it sends you an email reporting the location of your phone, you phone displays a message with the subject "Sorry you lost your phone."  Which is a dead giveaway to a potential thief that you are tracking them.  I resolved this issue by creating a filter on my gmail account that takes all messages from Prey, applies a label to them, and then archives them in my gmail account (which prevents the phone from giving a notification that you got the message.)  The last thing you need to do is make sure that enable the unlock pattern (Settings -> Security -> Require patter should be checked.)

A quick side note about Google Latitude.  Latitude is designed to be a social app that gives you notifications when another person using Latitude is near by; it isn't intended to be a phone recovery tool, but it has gotten the job done in the past when people forget their phone somewhere.

GPS Status
by EclipSim

This is a neat little app that primarily functions as a compass and general utility to find out what GPS satellites you have reception from.  It also gives you your current Latitude, Longitude, Altitude, and Speed.  I guess it doesn't do a whole lot, but sometimes it's fun to know that kind of stuff.


FoxyRing: Smart Ringtone
by LevelUp Studio

So, this app allows you to set a "sleeping time" when only a small list of emergency contacts will trigger your phone to ring, disable your ringer by current location (so it doesn't ring at school or a movie theater, or you can set it to disable your ringer for a specified length of time.  It's kinda neat in that if you are like me, not allowed to take out a camera phone at work, so my phone just wouldn't ring when I'm at work.  It's also good for stoping those pesky people in the Eastern Time zone that call me at 4AM... because they forgot 7AM there is sleepy time here.


Google Goggles
by Google Inc.

This is a really good app too.  It doubles as a general purpose stuff finder and a bar code reader all in one.  If you take a picture of something like a restaurant sign or corporate logo, it will find a website or listing related to the sign.  It will also recognize business cards, and ask you if you want to add the contact information to your address book in your phone.  It works with a variety of things, but I've found that taking pictures of random stuff doesn't really work so well.  It will work for things like books, CD/DVD cases, and many famous landmarks, but your tickle me elmo will leave it stumped (Yea, I found an Elmo to take a picture of.  I also found that if you take a picture of your Bank's Logo, the picture is stored on your phone, so you can search for it later when you're walking around town, and it will tell you where the nearest branch is, but I think it's easier just to go to Google's main site on your phone, and click on "Near Me Now."




One last note on Google's web apps.  For those of you who don't know yet, most of Google's services like Gmail, Buzz, Calendar, Docs, Reader, Books, Tasks, and Fast Flip (News); actually work better in the browser than a native app.  With the one exception that you can't have your phone notify you without receiving an email or text message or something like that.


So that's about it.  There are so many cool apps that it's really hard to pick a few and stoop myself from going on and on about this stuff, plus I'm starting to think I might want to move App reviews to the Frizzlefry Tech blog anyway.  So, that's it for now.


Later,


     SteveO

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cannon Powershot broken... oops... And I got an HTC Incredible!

So, I was so excited about my new phone that I wanted to take a picture of it, but then I got a shock.  My totally awesome Cannon PowerShot is broken! Well, not permanently, but for the time being I'll just have to let it sit until I can pay to fix it. I guess what happened was I must have hit the power button while it was in the case... which is apparently a common problem with this camera.  You see, this particular model has a higher zoom than the standard powershot, and it turns out that because of the mechanics the motor has too much torque for the sensor that tells the camera to stop moving the lense.  So, it knocked the lens off the track;  The worst part is that this particular issue is very common, but not covered by the warranty.  So, I'll either have to actually pay money to get it fixed, or learn more about how these things are built so I can fix it myself.  I don't know which will become a viable option first.

Anyway... the phone!
I took this photo with one of my webcams... you may also notice I used a
solar powered light from Ikea to improve the light quality...

So I recently obtained a Droid Incredible (as a birthday gift!  Thanks Mom!), and now that I've had enough time to use everything that came with the phone and push all the buttons, I want to say a little bit about it.  I'm pretty much just going to talk about the turn by turn GPS, speech to text, and text to speech.

Before I had my Droid, I had a Nokia N770 and an Ipod Touch.  Both of my previous devices were great!  The Nokia was a quick Linux based device, however the capacitive touch screen severely limited it's awesomeness.  The Ipod touch is frustratingly closed and locked down to what Steve Jobs felt I should be able to do with my device.

The Droid offers a good combination of the two with it's capacitive touch screen (Ipod), faster speed (N770), and open infrastructure (N770);  In case you didn't catch that, I just made the claim that a device manufactured in 2002 is faster than the Ipod/Iphone.  In addition to that, the Droid is an actual Cell phone, has GPS, and has a complete and rapidly growing default software repository.  I don't really want to talk too much about the whole data plan thing, because neither of my other devices could allow Internet access from anywhere, although for a short time I could use my Nokia to connect to the Internet through my phone via Bluetooth, but that was only at dial-up speeds and before Verizon started offering Data plans.

The first thing I wanted to play with was this new turn by turn navigation feature (I am just fascinated with GPS stuff.)  So, I got in my car and went to type my destination... then I stopped, and remembered I could just say "Jet City Espresso" and the speech to text function built into the keyboard knew what I said... I then pushed the go button, and it listed the Google Search results... the top one happened to by the destination I was looking for.  So, I started driving, and I didn't really know what to expect.  Then, my phone started telling me where to go!  It was awesome!   Then I wanted to know what happened when I went the wrong way, and it was pretty quick to pick up and adjust the directions.  Speaking of how it tracks you, I noticed it seems to use prediction to guess where you will be, and updates your real position every 5 seconds or so.  I noticed that because when I stopped at an intersection the arrow showing my car's position kept going, then corrected it's position a couple seconds later.

Anyway... so, the Speech to text keyboard rocks for text messages... buzz... email... translating to a variety of languages that use the English character sets out of the box... while other languages that use Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Indian character sets are available with an additional package.  The Text to Speech functionality works pretty well for a few languages as well, which could come in useful next time I need to talk to a Mexican resident that doesn't speak English... or if I go to Europe.

I have a ton of other stuff to talk about soon, I already put a giant wall of text on here, so until next time.

Later,

     SteveO

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Story of Jaani

     So, I was thinking that I don't say enough about my little buddy Jaani, and how he came to be my Pug.  When I found him, I was living in Michigan, and my girlfriend and I were staying with my parents.  She was really bored in Michigan, and said she wanted a dog.  So, we went to a few pet shops and saw all these $300+ dogs and I thought that was way too much money.  Plus I don't like the idea of supporting puppy mills either.  I suggested why don't we pay a visit to the Humane Society, and see what they have.

     We found the closest Humane Society and went over to to see what kinds of dogs they had.  We didn't find much in terms of dogs, but they had a ton of cats (I wasn't about to go down that road again.)  The lady there said they get most of their dogs from the Genesee County Animal Control.  The next day we set out to see what animals they had there, but none of the dogs they had up for adoption were right.  However, they had 7 other wards, where they put dogs for a week before they can put them up for adoption.  We took a stroll to see all the other dogs, but none of them seemed right either.

     We found that it was actually a lot of fun to go through and feed all the dogs treats, and play with the ones that weren't totally freaked out and scared (so they would probably bite.)  I figured that was probably all the excitement and joy those dogs would get in there.  My first choice was a dog that I never actually thought I would get.  I nick-named him grouch, because as soon as you entered the room he would start growling and snarling at you.  He was a German Shepherd, and he looked kinda old.  When he started to bark and growl at me, I just crouched down next to him and told him to be quiet.  It didn't work right away, but when he saw I was comfortable with him, I gave him a treat, and he never barked at me again.  I guess I formed a bond with him, and he would let me pet him through the cage and scratch behind his ears.  He seemed like he would be a great dog, but I knew he was probably destined to be put down.

    After going up there a few times, we saw a little black Pug in the new arrivals ward.  He looked so scared and lonely.  He was really thin and looked like he had been through some hard times.  At first, he was afraid to approach the door, and just curled up in a little ball with his head buried in the corner of the cage where there was a blanket for him to lay on.  Instantly I knew I wanted him, and it was easy for me to persuade my girlfriend to agree.

     After that, we went up there every day, and went directly to his cage.  Sometimes I got a little lost because they don't keep the dogs in the same cage for long, but I would always find him.  He quickly grew attached to me, and after the second day he started to cry every time I walked away from the cage.  I started to fear that someone might come and claim him before he went up for adoption.

    After a week, it was confirmed that he was going up for adoption, and we waited until they closed that day to leave;  just in case someone would try and take him home.  That night was the longest night ever. At around 10PM we went back up to Animal Control, because they had a policy that the first person in the parking lot gets the first choice, and I wasn't about to risk it.  The thermometer in the car said it was -10 degrees on that cold January night.  It was hard to sleep in the car, and we were starting to think four blankets and the excess heat I generate wasn't enough.

     Around 4:30AM someone came up and knocked on the window.  I woke up and half expected to see a cop telling us we have to leave,  but it was an older lady who asked if we were there for the pug;  I replied yes.  She said it was amazing that we camped out all night for the dog, and she thought that he must be going to a good home.  I like to think she was right.

     Finally, 8AM came and we went up to the door and waited for the lady to come up and unlock it.  Several other people were there as well, and another person got angry because they were first through the door and really wanted that pug.  However, because we were the first in the parking lot, the dog was mine fair and square.  So, a few people left right away, and a couple people stuck around just to make sure we actually walked out the door with the dog.  There must have been over a dozen other people there who came for that dog, many of them got to the parking lot around 3 and 4 AM.

     The lady brought Jaani out.  He was soaking wet, cold, and developed kennel cough from the bath they gave him that morning.  He saw me right away, and as soon as the lady put him down, he ran right over.  He was so excited to leave that dingy old cage, and I was excited to have a new little buddy.

     As time went on, my girlfriend lost interest in the little guy.  He liked me too much, and was always sad until I came home.  Eventually, we moved back to Washington and broke up;  I didn't want to let him go, and when I told her that, she started hating him.  Everything he did was bad.  I have to admit, the little man is far from perfect, but I didn't adopt him to see if I would like him.  I adopted him to make him family (period.)

     Now, the little man can be a bit of a burden, and he required a significant amount of my time and attention.  He is like a half-child; in that he is like a baby that never grows up.  I have trouble going anywhere without him, and I can't sit down on my couch without him at least coming over to either lay next to me or on my lap.

     I guess I'm luck to have him.  He gets me out to exercise every day, and he is great with the ladies.  Actually, he is great with just about everyone, except people with work boots... skateboards... motorcycles... and a few other things that either show large amounts of aggression or make loud noises.  It's not his fault, he just gets scared.  I guess there was also that indecent with Mellow (my friend's cat,)  but I think with a little more work he won't chase cats anymore.

     So, for those of you who haven't heard, that's the story of Jaani.  My little buddy.

Later,

     SteveO

Monday, March 15, 2010

In memory of Uncle Don

Donald Courtois (1951 - 2010)
     So, I've been thinking of what to write; my uncle passed away nearly a week ago, and I haven't felt right posting something until I know what to write about it.  What significance does an uncle have to a niece or nephew?  How is this relationship defined between my aunts, uncles, and I?   How is this relationship defined between my nieces, nephews, and I?  Then, the hardest question: what is the difference between the way these relationships should be defined and the way I've chosen to let these relationships be defined?


     I think I'm beginning to realize that my own nieces and nephews may view me the same way I view my uncles Garth, Don, John, and aunt Suzi.  I know who they are;  I know I get along with them, but they aren't a large part of my life.  In fact, the role they play is so distant that one might go as far as to say the only connection I have is simply because they are family.


     I suppose if I were to have a regret about moving to Seattle, this concept would be the root cause for that regret.  However, it doesn't do anyone justice to dwell over the past.  What's done is done, and what's to come is... well, it's what I'm here for I guess (or as close to having a purpose as I'll probably get.)  


Monroe Newborn (Ostrich) vs Garth Courtois (ETAOIN SHRDLU)
at the 6th ACM North American Computer Chess Championship
in Minneapolis, Minnesota 1975.
Garth finishes in 3rd Place; Newborn places 8th. 
     At the same time, to fully understand, I feel the need to reflect on the past.  Let's start with my uncle Garth, who died in 1996;  I have no memory of ever meeting him.  I know that I did talk with him at my grandmother's funeral, even though I can't remember what he looked like, what we said, or anything.  What I do know about him is that he wrote the ETAOIN SHRDLU chess program, he earned a 1900+ rating in tournament chess, and he ran the Denver Scholastic Chess League for many years.  All of this information I learned from reading a newspaper clipping from coloradomasterchess.com and a page dedicated to him on chessprogramming.wikispaces.com.




I also found this stuff too:

  • http://main.uschess.org/assets/msa_joomla/XtblMain.php?199701192290-12059800
    - this page lists the wrong date of his death.
  • http://chessprogramming.wikispaces.com/page/code/ICGA+Journal
    - this page only lists Garth as a participant in the 1986 & 1987 chess tournaments.
  • I updated the Wikipedia article about "ETAOIN SHRDLU" to include the chess program Garth wrote...
  • Plus I found out that if someone (mainly the youngest of my three sisters) needs sign up for a free trial to Ancestry.com so she can link the 2 public records linking Garth to Colorado, and the public member tree that includes him as well... 
  • and some random stuff about Garth Sr too... I still haven't found military records documenting when he was on the hornet, but there is plenty about the infamous 1989 Florida Supreme Court case with Mr. Gibson... apparently Mr. Gibson didn't want to purchase the house and requested a refund for his escrow deposit...  He got it BTW.
I don't think I'll ever forget the day he died.  I went to Cedar Point that day with my childhood best friend, and when I got home from what seemed like the best day ever... yea.  I guess when I picture Garth, I see chess pieces, but I guess that it's good to remember someone by the legacy they left behind.  The code from his chess program pops up here and there when you search hard enough for it.  I found several research papers quoting the documentation from it, but I guess the name is fairly common... so it could always be a different program.

     I guess what I'm trying to get across here is I can Google everything.  The part that really... makes me feel weird... is that I think Google knows more about my family members than I do.  Like in 1997 when Uncle Don when to the US appeals court... I never knew any of that was going on when it happened... and I'm not sure how I feel about that.  Now I'm finding out he has profiles on classmates.comLinkdIn, Elance.com and corporationwiki.com...  none of which appear to be fully set up.  I also learned he started a company called ______ in 2004... which is somehow related to Summit Inn in Franklin, NC.  I also found a receipt from a real estate license that Don purchased from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation... which means the State of Florida is apparently publishing receipts?  At least the credit card number isn't showing...  however that is still a really big security hole.

   I also determined that Don Courtois is a some-what common name. I found a different Donald Courtois that signed a petition to deport all illegal immigrants now...  judging by the comment, this other guy is a hate filled person.  Plus, I'm sure it's not the Don Courtois and Wife Ann from Arkansas...  nor could he be this other Don Courtois from the 2000/2001Varsity wrestling results Then I thought Don holds a patent on some sort of portable X-ray machine, but it turns out it's Donald A Courtois... who apparently lived in Ann Arbor, MI.

At the same time, I can't tell if this Don Courtois, who opposes Stem Cell Research, is really my uncle Don...

This last one is the key.  You see, I can search day and night, and I'll find information about what my uncles did;  I can't search for who they were.  I guess the only real resource I have for that is my family; who is 2500 miles away (by car.)    So, what am I saying?  Do I want to go back to Michigan? No.  Not really.  I want to be around my family, but I don't want to be in Michigan.  Funny thing... can't get it all I guess.  So, I chose the path closest to the one Garth chose.  I moved across country, and I'll probably stay here.


This brings me to the main point of this whole post.  What I actually remember about uncle Don.  My memory does not do me justice for this.  I can picture his face, and I always see him kinda skipping along with a guitar.  Kinda like the scarecrow from The Wizard of OZ.  That image seems to embody the essence of Don.  Which by the way, he is doing Champion (or so he said once.)  In fact, I'm not surprised to hear that he hid how bad his condition was from the family, because he wouldn't want to bring anybody down.  I remember him as a happy man, and a happy man he will always be.


    So, that's really all I have to say about that.  I'll go on, searching for pieces of information that pop up on miscellaneous blogs and forums... I'm sure more will be said and uncovered over time.  Heck, soon enough more public records will start to appear, and I'll continue to collect everything I can find  in the family tree I've been maintaining... which I hope the youngest of my three sisters will get a free trial so she can add all those public records and links to other family trees and stuff like that.  


    So, at that, I'll let this be a post; until next time.


 Later,


     SteveO

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What the heck is this thing?

So, I was down at Jet City today, and my friend told me about this thing he found. He said he couldn't tell what it was when he found it, and he wanted to see if I would know what it was when I saw it.

So, I picked it up and played with it. It's a wire brush with a wooden cylinder on it. The small metal pin sticks out, and you can spin the metal cylinder around on the handle.

My first guess was a self cleaning pipe brush, but some how (even as I was saying it) I absolutely knew that wasn't what this thing is. So, do you have a guess?



If you want another hint, I have a second picture that includes an additional clue:

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/t0nP8vNk3o0s5gf2tnwvww?feat=directlink

Later,

SteveO

Friday, March 5, 2010

A New Season Unfolds with Diddly Squat!

So, I guess a couple things happened today.  I didn't get to do what I had originally intended for one.  I wanted to make a bunch of phone calls and get more job interviews lined up, but in stead, I just kinda took the dog to the vet and dog park... then came back home to do some cleaning and cleared off a work space for me to concentrate a little better when I'm working.

I have a couple projects in mind for this 100 day break.  1st - get a job!  2nd - scan my photos to complete my digital photo collection 3rd - work more with my touch screen and I'm sure more will come along.

Anyway, I've been keeping pretty busy today.  I heard that the lab was a hectic place today, and a few of my co-workers were there pretty late just to get everything done.  I guess I must have done something while I was there.

So, other than taking care of Jaani and talking to old co-workers I also applied for unemployment, which should help get me through until I find a better income source.

So, on that note, I'll try to post an update every day to at least one of my blogs, even though I probably won't post anything until closer to the end of the day... oh well, I guess that's the way I'll make things be.

So, on that note, I'm going to work on creating some content so you don't just have to read about my dog's skin infections and other lame stuff you don't care about, and if you bear with me on this one, you might just read something you care about.

Later,

     SteveO

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

One Week to go

     So, I guess I have really been neglecting my blogs too much.  Blogger in draft seems to have been updated with new buttons like insert video, define/translate, and insert jump break.  For those of you who are interested, my page visits have gone down by 59%.... also, my bounce rate has increased by 6%.  It really is a shame when I stop updating by blog, but I think this year I might be able to get through to more people with the addition to Buzz as a medium to read my blog through.  At least I assume Buzz will post my blog posts automatically... oh well... 2010 is an interesting year.  It got off to a good start, and I have a job now... but that's where that whole one week to go title came from.

   As it turns out, I loose my job next week.  That silly 1 year maximum contract length rule that Microsoft unfortunately enforces has struck again!  I guess I can't really blame Microsoft though.  After all, it was the disgruntled contract workers from that class action lawsuit that are to blame for the troublesome policy.  Because those guys were bitter about having the same job for years (and getting paid half of what the full time employees they work with get) every contractor must suffer both getting paid even less and then we all have to lose our job for 100 days every year.  It really sucks.

     So, what will I do this year?  I don't really know that kind of stuff.  I suppose I'll find out next Friday.  I'm sure this will kinda start the blogging season for me again.  After all, I do typically update once or twice a day when I am not working at the good old MS.

     So, what can I blog about this year?  oh god... so much.  like that sunny weekend I just had, or the fact that the rain came back.  I guess have some of the usual content for this blog, but I really want to develop my tech blog to actually talk about cool tech... like Linux stuff: virtualization, VM managers, other cloud computing stuff... I might even start my webcam back up.  I know it's been down for so long now.  I guess I just got tired of having a camera pointed at me all the time... even though it's still not like I'm famous.

   Other than that stuff, I guess I am looking for ideas of what people want to hear about from me.

So, if you have any ideas, I guess blogging season will begin next Friday.

Later,

     SteveO

Monday, January 11, 2010

Life goes on in washington


So, I guess I'll start with this video that I think is just great!  Although, I guess that due to the fowl language might not be best for the wee little ones.

Anyway, Jaani was happy to see me when I picked him up on Monday night.  Everything around the apartment was in order, although I could have sworn I turned the heat down lower than it was set to when I got back.  The past two days I took Jaani to the dog park.  Yesterday I did a ton of chores that I was putting off (like laundry and dishes...) then today I finally got around to going grocery shopping.  Other than that, I guess I've been playing video games a lot, which I like more than TV... and everything has been going smoothly around work.

So, that being said, I hope everyone enjoys the video, and I should get around to posting more pictures up on Picasa soon.

Later,

     SteveO