Archive for the ‘Admin’ Category

Why I do this.

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Because, for all the stuff that I pitch up against the wall that doesn’t get a response, sometimes I get somebody like a favorite author or the guy who directed that movie I really really want to see dropping in and engaging in the comments.

I cannot lie: I live for those moments.

Tell me again about how blogging is dead.

(I know today’s posts have been mostly short throw aways. I’m working on what’s turned into a very long post that may actually have some original thought to it. That may go up tonight, or more likely tomorrow after I’ve had a chance to sleep on and proofread it.)

(My 11th grade English teacher told us we had to footnote everything in our term paper because, as 11th grade English students, we were incapable of original thought. Let’s see if I can do any better this many years later.)

Toes in the water.

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Sorry about the short blogging quasi-hiatus there.

After work on Friday, I drove down to San Antonio for LoneStarCon 3, the 71st World Science Fiction Convention. It was a swell time. I got to hang out with several friends, including Mike the Musicologist, Andrew the Colossus of Roads, RoadRich, and Lawrence, who was doing a land office business in books. (Who says people don’t read any more? I covered the table for him a little bit, and by Ghu the books were flying off the table like snow crab legs at an all you can eat Chinese buffet.)

I haven’t been down to San Antonio for reasons other than medical for years, and hadn’t been on the RiverWalk since LoneStarCon2. I’d forgotten how nice the RiverWalk is, even though the vendors make things a bit crowded. (I don’t remember there being as many sidewalk vendors there last time I was down. But I’m getting old, and memory fades.)

Mike the Musicologist did most of the meal planning. Breakfast for two out of three of the days we were there was in the Marriott Rivercenter, mostly for reasons of timing. However, it is a pretty good buffet; I’d go so far as to say, with the custom omelets and made-to-order waffles, it comes close to being worth $20+tax and tip. Especially since I really didn’t see any breakfast places near the hotels or along the Riverwalk. (McDonalds and Whataburger excepted. There was also a Denny’s across the street from the Rivercenter; but literally the first thing I heard when I got to the hotel was that a mutual acquaintance of ours got food poisoning from the Denny’s bacon.)

The one non-Marriott breakfast was at the Magnolia Pancake Haus on Embassy Oaks, which was packed to the gills. We waited 40 minutes for a table, but the Munchener Apfel Pfannekuchen was worth it. I’d love to go back (and maybe try the wild mushroom hash) but I’d make sure I brought a good book.

(At some point in the near future, I want to do a post on how tablets, and especially the iPad, are transforming the restaurant industry, with Magnolia being one of my examples.)

We also had an excellent meal at Moroccan Bites (I loved the lamb shank and the chicken bites) and a pretty good meal at a place called Charlie Wants a Burger. (I had the pulled pork sandwich. And wings.) Sunday night we went to Fogo de Chao…which, you know, is Fogo de Chao. If you want huge amounts of roasted meat, you know what you’re getting into. For reasons I won’t discuss here (think Tim Cahill’s rule #6, corollary 1), I just had the salad bar. Which is actually a reasonable thing to do at Fogo de Chao (especially since you also get to eat the fried polenta, bananas, and cheese rolls), and I didn’t feel ripped off at $22.50. (I did feel gouged by the $3.25 iced tea. Note to self: water next time.)

(If you think you detected a trend, you may be right: Moroccan Bites and Magnolia have both been on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Guy Fieri may have problems running a place of his own, but as far as recommendations go, he’s batting 100% with me.)

Oddly enough, I bought more t-shirts (three) than I did books (two). Of course, one of those shirts is a gift for my brother. And one of those shirts I don’t actually have yet (they’re shipping it). And one of those books I bought mostly so I could support my friends. (I would have bought more books, but nobody had any Robert Frezza. “The Whistling Pig” was the theme to my last few months at 4LCC.)

I do want to say a few words about the best thing that happened at the convention. I don’t like bragging about famous people I know, mostly because I’m always afraid someone will ask them about me and they’ll say “Dwight who?” (Or, if they’re talking to Gardner Dozois, “That a–hole Dwight?!”)

(If you’ve never met Gardner in person, let’s just say he has a puckish sense of humor.)

But I digress. The best thing that happened at the convention is that one of my closest friends in the world won the Hugo Award for Best Novelette. That put the cap on a pretty swell weekend.

Congrats, again, Pat.

Don’t be evil. Again.

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

A while back, I wrote about the Knife Depot and their battle with Google’s Adwords people over selling “assisted opening” knives. The Knife Depot lost their Adwords account because they refused to cave in to Google’s demand that they stop selling (not just advertising, but selling) “assisted opening” knives, which are legal in every state of the Union.

Dan Lawton over at the Knife Depot was kind enough to share a couple of his followup posts with me. Adwords restored the Knife Depot’s account in May, but imposed a requirement that the Knife Depot couldn’t have “assisted opening” knives on any of the landing pages.

Then Google yanked the Adwords account again…this time, because Google has a problem with “throwing knives”.

Could you injure someone with a throwing knife? Sure, in the same way you could injure someone with a baseball, a frying pan, a brick, a bottle, a rabid cat or a slew of other projectiles that can become weapons if paired with malicious intent.
However, a throwing knife is poorly suited for criminal activity. These knives are generally large, making them hard to conceal; they have blunt edges and they’re damn hard to throw with fatal accuracy.

I have no joke here, I just wanted an excuse to post this:

But wait, there’s more! You know who else doesn’t like knives? Yes! Facebook!

But surely Google has learned their lesson, and these policies are being applied equally to all vendors? Unlike the “assisted opening” advertising ban, in which Google allowed big vendors like Amazon and Walmart to advertise those knives, while cutting off the Knife Depot and smaller vendors? Right?

Hahahahahahahaha. Nope. Google is still operating on the same double standard they had back in March – the same double standard that was openly called out by a Google employee in internal communication – and refuses to offer any explanation of why certain vendors are allowed to advertise “assisted opening” knives, “throwing knives”…or “herbal incense”, for that matter.

Thanks to Mr. Lawton for bringing my attention to these posts. And, as a side note to people who want me to write about their stuff, this is the way to do it: Mr. Lawton sent me a nice, personalized email summarizing his posts, politely suggesting that I might want to write about them based on my previous coverage, and even provided some evidence that he’s actually read more of the blog than just that one post. He had my curiosity when I saw the email; by the time I finished reading it, he had my attention.

(For the record, the Knife Depot hasn’t given me anything – money, knives, gift certificates, or anything of value – in exchange for this post. Nor have I asked for anything.)

Personal and administrative notes.

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Those of you who have been following this blog know that I have been unemployed since late last November.

I am pleased to announce that things have changed. I started working today (on a contract to hire basis) for the IronPort division of Cisco here in Austin. I will be doing support for their email security products.

I’m pretty happy about this. So far, the environment seems better, and this puts me closer to where I would like to be in terms of personal and professional goals.

What this means to the blog:

  1. There’s going to be a period of adjustment while I figure out my blogging schedule. I think I can blog in the morning before work, but we will have to see how things go.
  2. I won’t be discussing Cisco on this blog, per my policy of not discussing non-public matters involving my employers.
  3. This does mean that I will not be attending DEFCON 21. Sorry, Borepatch. (For some reason, I can’t post on his blog: neither Google nor OpenID work for me.) I am hoping to attend both next year’s DEFCON and the S&WCA convention, though.

My thanks to everyone for their support during this difficult time.

I went back to Ohio, but my city was gone.

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Well, not really “gone”. I hadn’t been back to Ohio for nine years, and it amazed me somewhat both how much and how little has changed.

For example, there’s an entire grocery chain that I don’t remember from my last trip…that takes the Discover card and cash. No Visa/AmEx/MasterCard/Diner’s Club, not even debt cards with a PIN, just cash and Discover. Who came up with this idea?

On the other hand, the tractor tire store that was a landmark on the way to Grandma’s place is still there, after 40 something years. And Grandma’s place still feels remote from everything, even though there’s major strip centers at the end of her road, and even though much of the land was sold off over the past few years (and now has houses sitting on it).

And the old NASA hanger is still visible from the airport. That was another landmark for us kids. (My dad worked there, back when it was still the Lewis Research Center, before it was renamed “NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field“. Which is a mouthful. Not that I’m bitter or anything over the renaming; by gosh, if anyone deserved to have a NASA facility named after him, it was John Glenn.)

This is shaping up to be a long post, and sort of “stream of consciousness”, so I’m going to put the rest of it behind a jump. Before I do, here’s Grandma’s obituary, just for the record.


Back on the chain gang.

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Sorry about the radio silence for the past few days. I’ve been spending a lot of time with family, and kicking around the Cleveland area.

Our flight got in around 7 PM last night, and it was 10 PM by the time I got home. I’m trying to get caught up, and hope to have more substantial reports and some photos up over the weekend.

In the meantime, have some music.

(Man, wasn’t Learning to Crawl a great album? “Back On the Chain Gang”, “My City Was Gone”, “Middle of the Road”…)

Travel day.

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

Blogging will be airplane and rental car bound until the late afternoon.

At least the Motel 6 has free wifi.

Administrative note.

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

I’m going through a little bit of personal agita right now. The next few days leading up to, and during, the holiday, are shaping up to be kind of busy. Mostly the fun kind of busy (some of us are trying to plan a range trip; plus, fireworks), but with some work involved.

This coming Saturday, I will be flying out to Cleveland. My maternal grandmother passed away on Saturday, and her funeral is scheduled for a week from today. I plan to take a laptop with me and blog as much as I can from the road, but be prepared for a bit of a slowdown.

(I know there’s been a bit of a slowdown already. Mostly, that’s because there hasn’t been a lot going on that I’ve found worthy of blogging. I think we’re into the summer slowdown season; things are so hot that everyone is acting like giant lizards, conserving energy as much as they possibly can. Which is great for keeping cool, but not so great for providing blog fodder.)

(Is it just me, or is Houston experiencing a rash of motel fires?)

Thus concludes our broadcast day.

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Lawrence sent me an email earlier today noting that I had a 1970s TV show theme going, and asking

How long can you keep it up?


Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Just busier than a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest.

I did get to shake Larry Wall’s hand and say thanks to him. (For those of you who are not Perl people, this is like an observant Jew meeting Moses.)

I also got to spend some time with Bill “whump” Humphries, who was in town presenting “Perl Meets Modern Web UI”. I thought it was a great talk, but I’m biased: I’ve known Bill since our days in the CIA spying on student organizations at the University of Texas, though I haven’t seen as much of him as I’d like in the past few years.

More as time permits. The “Hack Your Mac With Perl” talk is about to start.

SDC updates.

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

New posts over at the SDC site: a review of Pinthouse Pizza (updates to come) and a post about America’s favorite British chef and the latest episode of his TV show. (Can you say, “batshit crazy”, boys and girls?)

On a semi-unrelated note, I have an account now. I will try to start sending out notifications of new and updated posts here and on the SDC site.

Obit watch, random notes, and open thread: April 20, 2013.

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Al Neuharth, creator of USA Today. USA Today obit.

In 1984, in an effort to push USA Today executives to cut costs, he invited them to a dinner near his home in Cocoa Beach. They arrived to see a long table set with matzo and Manischewitz wine in a mock tableau of the Last Supper and a Passover Seder. At the center sat Mr. Neuharth, a crown of thorns on his head and a huge wooden cross behind him.
“I am the crucified one,” he told the stunned executives, and warned them that they would be “passed over” if the newspaper foundered.


Rutgers Men’s Coach Suspended With Pay Amid Investigation

This is not a repeat from two weeks ago.

Today is my birthday. I’m going to be out of pocket most of the day: going to the gun shop, then over to the capitol to take pictures, then on a tour of the UT Tower, and then to dinner. In my absence, consider this an open thread to talk about things you want to talk about: Boston, West, Michael Morton and Ken Anderson, the Astros, the vertical integration of the broiler industry, etc.

(As always, if this is your first time posting, I have to approve your comment. Once you’ve been approved, additional comments should go through without requiring moderation. Comment approval is one blog function I can do fairly easily from my phone, so you should not have to wait too long. Unless I’m driving.)