First Post (of the New Year)

Well, the first month and 7 days of 2012 have been alright for me, some ups and downs.  As for things I will discuss here, I will now offer the following list:

  • I have projects that I need to look at.
  • I am trying to brush up on Unix network programming.
  • Qt would also be good to know.
  • I was messing with my Web server a little, and due to permissions some images stopped showing up.  This should be fixed now.
  • The Raspberry Pi looks like an awesome idea, and at $25 or $35 each I recommend one for learning about Linux, programming, low-power computing, or just plain dicking around.  Also, buying it helps fund a good cause.
  • I need to start posting more stuff about music here.
  • Snow is nice in the winter (at least I think it is, in moderate amounts), but I’m fine with the current weather as long as the snow is not pushed up to May or June.

Well, if I think of more, you know where to find it.  Until then, enjoy the weather.

It’s Warm Out and other thoughts

Well, it was kind of warm today.  I’m not one to blame climate change, as this is a normal January thaw (so it would seem to me).  But it’s a lot like spring outside, and that’s something.  I mean, it’s certainly T-shirt weather, and almost shorts weather (depending on your definition of shorts weather).  Not a lot of snow is left, and it was raining last night.

This is weird, and short-lived, of course.  I mean, next week we could just as easily have a foot of snow here in the swamp.  But I will say it’s kind of enlightening.  I don’t like the overcast days but I do like feeling like spring is close.  In the midst of worrying about school and work and all that other stuff, I can now say The Future Looks Bright.

And that brings me to my next point.  While not one to pick favorites as far as the subject of music goes, if pushed I would say that Steely Dan is probably one of my favorite bands (or duos, or however you want to describe their operation).  By extension, I do enjoy Donald Fagen’s solo works as well (his earlier two in particular).  Recently I was listening to the song IGY from his album The Nightfly, and was reminded of the sophisticated lyrics of this piece.  The theme behind the album centers around the perspective of a teenager in the 1950’s, dealing with the fears and dreams of people at the time, including optimistic visions of the future.  Getting back to IGY, take a look at this lyric:

A just machine to make big decisions
Programmed by fellows with compassion and vision
We’ll be clean when their work is done
We’ll be eternally free yes and eternally young

I love this quote because it shows the optimism people had as technology progressed.  I mean, I guess nowadays we have computers that “make big decisions,” but then the idea of a big thing that did calculations was quite different.  It should be obvious, but as I sit at my laptop, which makes any room-sized computer from back then look like the crappy little calculator on a clipboard I can’t help but find it fascinating.  And to boot, it’s an ironic warning against Skynet!  (If it was a warning against Windows, Mr. Fagen has failed.)

Of course there are other references in the song too, like to Spandex and an underwater, transatlantic railroad.  I have to wonder how different the future will be than what my generation perceives…

Battery Life and Other Nonsense

As I mentioned before, I have switched my laptop to Gentoo again after getting a new battery for it.  When I first finished my Gentoo install there was this beautiful feeling of euphoria…  It was just a raw Linux system, somewhat optimised for my machine.  It could be a normal Gnome desktop, it could be a mobile server…  It could be a workstation with no GUI at all…  So much potential, so many things I could do without having a predetermined computing environment like what Ubuntu provided.

Yeah, I ended up putting Gnome on it, along with the other types of apps normal people tend to put on their laptops: OpenOffice, Firefox, Pidgin (thus completing the desktop publishing-Web browsing-instant messaging trifecta), etc.  And now I find myself trying to replicate a lot of the things Ubuntu did configure out of the box.  Things like PulseAudio, multimedia codecs, and power management settings.

Actually the power management was a bit of a sticking point with Ubuntu.  I mean, it did provide decent control over LCD backlight brightness, and it configured CPU frequency scaling out of the box.  But at the same time I still never got the battery life I got in Windows.  The same is true for Gentoo.  I can get maybe four hours of life, which is nice.  But the older, smaller battery was rated for about this also.  Yeah, I know that rating’s a bit optimistic, but I sitll got maybe three of those hours on XP.  I’d like to get about 5 or 6 with this battery.

So I have some tweaking to do, no matter which distro I use on here.  I really do like having a less-bloated system, and at the very least Gentoo is a little more encouraging of tweaking, and is more familiar to me, so I may as well try diferent power saving methods on here for a while.  (Yeah, compiling software takes a bit of juice, but I do that when I’m plugged in anyway.)  Ubuntu 9.04 is coming out soon, and I’m thinking I might go and try it on here.

So, that’s that.  On an lighter note, the sun is coming out more and more here in Rochester.  We’re finally starting to get some Spring weather, even though we also just got some snow.  (I woke up one morning and it looked like it was winter outside.  It didn’t last long, but it was still weird.)  Though I do enjoy winter I am looking forward to the warmer weather a lot.  Soon it will be summer, and I will (hopefully) be working.  Getting away from class will be nice.

Winter Without Christmas

I believe that today is the Nativity, or the last day of Christmas or whatever.  It is also the day I am heading back to school, back to the daily grind…  Actually, I shouldn’t complain.  My quarter is relatively light, and I’m used to the schedule and the campus.  All and all it will be great, even if I do have to get up and think each day of the week.  (Well, think about school, not that I don’t think otherwise…  You get the idea.)

Well, as anyone who reads this blog regularly has probably figured out I like to talk about the weather.  And I must say it is looking great outside, snowy, and sunny.  Not too snowy, but it looks like winter.  Now that the first set of Winter holidays are wrapping up it is becoming quite clear that it is really only the beginning of winter.  Yes, we’ve got a ways to go, at least up here.

Now, the funny thing is, a lot of people complain about winter.  And rightfully so; I hate digging my car out and the like.  But I also love the snow, and I think more appreciation needs to be paid to it.  I mean, if you live in an are in which a huge snow storm is pretty much the worst disaster you would expect to occur somewhat regularly, consider yourself lucky, I say!  Because after all is said and done, it melts.

So I am looking forward to some nice days this winter.  The sun is there; the days have been getting longer since the Solstice, and they will continue to get longer until the summer.  Admittedly it’s harder to like winter without Christmas (at least I could see that), but it’s another season, and I say that as long as there’s sun out to keep the spirits high be happy.  Gray days suck, but they don’t last forever.

Well, on a different note I would just like to point out that this place actually gets a ton of comment spam.  You wouldn’t notice it thanks to the Askimet plugin I installed, which intelligently detects spam and marks it for me to look at and delete en masse.  Now, it’s not perfect, so I do check it over, but I will appologize now if I missed a legit comment.  If it was something basic, like “Thanks, great post” then it may get marked as spam and I might very well just delete it.  But I will do my best to look for intelligent thoughts.

End of the Quarter

It snowed this morning.  Not hard, just a few flakes here and there.  Luckily though I got to sleep in, until about 11 am or so.  No classes today; it’s exam week now.  Just studying.

Well, I mostly studied.  The temptation to slack off is high, and I’m giving in a little right now sitting in the coffee shop.  I keep telling myself that come Wednesday afternoon I can forget about classes for the next couple weeks.  Yes, after Thanksgiving, while most other college students are thinking about upcoming finals and winter break, I start a new quarter.  It’s not as bad as it seems; I’ve gotten used to it.

It’s Over

Simply put, it’s over.  Tension has subsided.  America has picked anothe president.  Now we don’t have to listen to campaign adds and the like.

I hope things will change.  Maybe the will, maybe not; out of all the factors that can screw our country over I doubt that the president is the biggest one we have to worry about at the moment.  I like Obama, and think he might just make a difference.  Let’s see what happens.

On another note, it’s been pretty warm around here.  It’s actually about 70 degrees, and I’m wearing shorts.  Two years ago around this time we were getting over a blizzard.  Back in 2000 I can remember a snow storm of epic proportions.

Snow

The other day (two days ago technically, since it’s after midnight right now), we got snow.  It wasn’t really that much, just a few little specs that melted on contact with the ground.  My roommate says it was sleet, but I believe sleet means rain and snow, and at that moment I think it was just snow.  So that was the first snow of the season.

Today we actually got some respectable amount of snow.  Rain too later on, but there was definitely some snow.  It didn’t accumulate much, but it was decent.  It’s funny, as two years (and a week or so) ago my hometown of Buffalo got hit with a storm of apocalyptic proportions.  It knocked out the poiwer to my house for a week, but luckilly my parents had a generator.  The trees along my street had their branches decimated too.  It really wasn’t a lot of snow, but it came fast.

Who knows how this winter will be.  But this fall is looking pretty good.  It’s cold out, which is nice, and the trees are looking really beautiful.  My only gripe is that it’s a little cloudy.  Even that’s not so bad, at least not until late winter when it seems like it’s always dark.

I’m still working on my light flicker circuit, which I hope to have described in more detail here by Halloween, but I’m not sure if that’ll happen.  Well, whatever.  It’s a neat circuit, and really makes a light bulb flash like a candle convincingly.  Problem is, when I put it together on a project board I found that it shorts somewhere.  Oh well.