Saturday, December 29, 2007

testing testing 1-2-3

This is SparcIPX.
This is a test of the emergency blogcast system.
Testing to see if my post-by-email settings are in order.

Monday, October 15, 2007

On lifestyle changes and Blog Action Day

It's October Fifteenth, also known as Blog Action Day!

As mentioned yesterday, I've been working on changing certain aspects of my life. Throughout the course of the day, I'll be going over some of the changes, and why I've made them... depending on what my workload is like today! (Which, as I write this at 7pm, was bonecrushing.)

So, what have I done? How have I, in my own misguided little way, set out to become an environmentally sound and responsible citizen?

Originally intended as a plan to save myself some money (you didn't think I really cared at this point, did you?), I bought a manual push-mower this summer. I got tired of constantly fixing my gas powered mower (not to mention fuelling up) that I bought the push mower in protest of planned obsolescence and poor design... and to stick it to the money-grubbing, capitalist oil companies!

After a while, I really enjoyed using the push mower and preferred it to the noisy, smoke-belching machine it had replaced. Eventually, my lawncare routine became an excuse to be outside, and I'd mow every weekend, raking up the clippings, and generally taking care of my yard instead of having it look like the setting for Children of the Corn. The fact that I was getting exercise was the icing on the cake!

Exercise... something my routine had been lacking ever since I was promoted from Warehouse Manager to Inside Salesman at my job. I used to work a ton of overtime while in the warehouse, usually going full-tilt from 7am to 6pm (or later) with little rest, for six (sometimes seven) days a week. When I was promoted to Inside Sales, I was working what most would consider more "normal" hours (8 'til 5), and really did nothing but sit on my ass, answering the phones, and entering orders into the computer. I went from a slim-but-muscular 190 lbs to a hefty 210 lbs, replacing muscle tone with a beer gut... In other words, a little exercise couldn't hurt.

For that same reason, I reclaimed my old mountain bike from my parents' place. Hadn't rode it since I was sixteen years old (I'm thirty-four now). The poor thing was in such poor shape - someone had stolen one of the gear shifters, the chain was stiff, and the brake pads were dried out and crumbling. With a little chain oil here, a bolt there, a bike pump, and four brake pads bought entirely with Canadian Tire Money, my bike was back on the road! I use it mostly for riding through Kildonan Park on Sunday mornings, with a cup of coffee in my hand and a smile on my face!

It dawned on me a few weeks later that what I was doing was not only cost effective and healthy, it was also easier on the environment. "So", I thought, "what else could I do to help the environment? And how can I do it without becoming some tree-hugging fuckin' hippie and attracting "liberated" vegan feminist womyn who wear tank tops, army pants and combat boots and don't shave their pits?". The answer lay at my favourite bookstore - McNally Robinson at Portage Place. I discovered a book entitled "The Ten Minute Activist" by The Mission Collective, and it really, honestly changed my life.

Some of the changes I've made so far:

Transportation: I haven't owned a car in years, and as such I typically walk or take the bus. Now that my bike is in working order, I use it whenever possible, avoiding a bus trip or cutting down on walking time.

Household: I've cut down on the amount of waste I produce (both as a consumer and, er, metabolically), recycle anything remotely recycleable. I typically buy things in bulk wherever possible, and use cloth or canvas bags when I go to the supermarket or the LC. I've been buying what are billed as "environmentally friendly" household chemicals (or simply doing without in some cases). I'm very conscious of the electricity I use, and in this respect, I've switched over to Compact Fluorescent bulbs in all the outlets, I rarely watch TV (1-2hours per week tops), leave my computers off when not in use, and even ditched some of my appliances for manual versions - such as a manual coffee mill, milk frother (mmmm, homemade cappuccino!), hand-crank paper shredder, hand crank drill (old school, man!), and I've even invested in a few candles, solely to establish a mood or when I just want to relax on my couch, listening to music and having a few cocktails. I use (rechargeable) battery power whenever possible, and have been dutiful in recycling the dead ones wherever possible. I've stopped using paper wherever possible, opting to jot down notes, messages, and memos on my Palm Pilot as opposed to a regular ol' notepad... a practice I've carried over to my professional life! I'm also looking into the viability of solar power, whether or not it's feasible in Winnipeg's climate...

Office: As mentioned above, I've all but stopped using paper in both my home and professional lives. My Palm M105 serves as my notation device at home or on the go, whereas my laptops serve me at work or when I need something more while on the go. I'm also working on sharpening my memory more, so I don't need to rely on either electronic device!

The credo I've adopted is summed up as this: Muscle power and exercise instead of convenience and supposed time-savings. Natural methods and solutions for cleaning, yardwork, etc as opposed to using harsh/environmentally unsound chemicals and processes. I'm better for it in the long run, and it helps the Earth out a bit too.

I'm not so naive to think that any of this will make a huge difference, but what the Hell, it can't hurt!

So, that's my Blog Action Day post. Not much, but I feel I'm a better person for it... personality notwithstanding.

- Incidentally, as an aside, I've put together a plan with an acquaintance of mine to start our own non-profit group that will take donated computer equipment, rebuild and refurbish it, and give it away to those who truly need it. It stays out of the landfills, and might make a difference to someone who otherwise could not own one... More on this later.

- As a further postscript, I really have nothing against tree-huggers, hippies, vegans, feminists, liberated women/womyn, or anyone with poor hygiene and worse fashion sense. I just really and truly enjoy being a jerk.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

What kind of blogger am I?!

I was pissing around on the net at work on Thursday - mostly because it was a slow day - and so I decided to take the "What kind of Blogger are you?" viral quiz on the Blog Action Day site (see sidebar for link).

Despite my intense dislike of the arbitrary categorization and pigeonholing of society into neat little niches and minidemographics, I was bored, so I allowed myself to be arbitrarily categorized ;)

Apparently, I'm this kind of blogger:
What Kind of Blogger Are You?

Nice to know how I fit into the Blogosphere (Ugh, that word makes me retch).

Speaking of fitting into the Blogosph--(vomiting sound) -- I mean "Vast community of bloggers", it's time I re-examine the focus of my blog. Originally, Conceit and Sociopathy was meant to replace the Main and Commentary sections of my website, where I would write about whatever was going through my head at the moment - be it social commentary, weirdness, current events, my cats, my work day, anything. However, my blog seems (from its inception) to have taken on a computer-centric slant.

Don't get me wrong, I love computers (even those ever-present fucking Windows PCs that the vast majority of the Human/Ovine hybrids that make up Western society seem to love to use), but I already have another computer related blog, so from here on in, all computer related crap will be posted there.

Which leaves this blog free for its intended purpose - saying what's on my mind in my usual less-than-polite, cynical, unrepentant, and ill-informed way...

... and on the odd occasion, saying or doing something positive. Tune in tomorrow to find out what I've been doing over the course of the last month. America's Al Gore would be proud, while our own politicians couldn't care less - they're too busy fighting amongst each other...O Canada, we stand on guard for thee...

Monday, September 3, 2007

CJ has a conscience?

I don't know what triggered it - was it Rick Mercer touting The One-Tonne Challenge? Or was it my discovery of TRUWinnipeg?

Irregardless, I've developed a social conscience over the last two years. Which ultimately leads to a sort of paradox...

How the Hell can one have a social conscience when one doesn't particularily care for society?

I've been doing a lot of soul-searching lately, and I still haven't come up with an answer. I suppose I'm always angry at society because I DO care. I just wish people, even if only once in a while, would turn off their TVs, radios, and computers, toss their cellphones and Blackberries, stop worshipping at the retail altar, stop driving their vehicles, and start living for themselves and the community instead of merely existing to feed the corporate machines.

Do all our conveniences and technology empower us or enslave us? Do we own our possessions, or do they own us?

When this thought popped into my head two years ago, I already knew the answer. And I didn't like it. So, I decided right then-and-there to change my lifestyle.

The next few updates will detail the changes I've made, some gradual, some abrupt, but all worthwhile.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Greetings from Cinq!

Damn, I love Unix!

I spent the last 30 hours of my life pissing around with different flavours of Unix, most notably Debian Linux, Solaris 8, and Solaris 10. Originally, I tried to install Solaris 10 on my Sun Blade 100, but to no avail. It wouldn't format the 15Gb drive inside the machine. So, I tried Solaris 8 instead... same result.

Undaunted, I threw the Solaris 8 CD into Cinq (my Sun Ultra 5)... and got the same result. It also wiped out the master boot record (or whatever it's called on Sun machines), essentially killing the install of Debian "etch" I had on there. So much for a dual-boot machine...

Remembering I had a brand-new, shrinkwrapped 80Gb drive sitting in the lab, I quickly instaled it into my Blade 100 and fired up Solaris 10. It took three hours to install, and runs slower than frozen shit, but once I'm through installing all the various updates, security fixes, and patches (e.t.a: 2 hours), I'll be able to tweak it a bit.

While waiting for Solaris 10 to finish updating itself, I decided to reinstall Debian "etch" on my Ultra 5 (as well as installing the brand-new 440MHz CPU I just acquired!). Took a simultaneous three hours to install, update, and tweak, but I've managed to get the machine to do almost everything I want it to do... such as interface with my digital camera, manipulate the pictures in The Gimp, and even morph them if I so desire. Once I can get Cinq to recognize my Palm m105, webcam, scanner, printer(s), and iPod, I think I'll be set.

Speaking of which, after playing around with The Gimp, I realized I finally have a suite of graphics utilities that compare favourably with the programs I use (and absolutely love) on my Amiga! And it's free (well, open-source) to boot!

So, I'm not far from reaching my goal of migrating completely to open-source Operating Systems and software. Well, Solaris isn't open source (far from it), but there are more than enough open-source apps available for it...

Anyhow, I'm rambling. I really only wrote this to test out the "Blog Entry Poster" app that came with Debian. Now that I know it works, I'm off to bed. I've been up for far too long and need a good nap.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

On computers: Hobby, obsession, or psychosis?

I've been pondering my hobby lately.

I've been re-prioritizing my projects, trying to eliminate those with no intrinsic value. You know, where there's no functional or practical reason to the upgrade, or no fun/fuck-up factor involved...

For those of you who don't know, I'm participating in the Retrochallenge this month. It's been an interesting but frustrating experience. I've had plans fail repeatedly, hardware literally catch fire, and STILL cannot dial into my UNIX shell account two weeks in. In order to do the things that I wanted, I had to buy a couple of upgrades for my 1986 vintage Tandy Colour Computer 3. I shelled out nearly a hundred bucks on a 512K RAM upgrade and monitor cable... and of course, the 512K upgrade card was damaged in transit. I COULD send it back for a replacement, but by the time I received the replacement, the Retrochallenge will be over. So I'm "stuck" using my stock 128K machine...

It's been a pain in the ass, and I've been questioning whether it's really worth the effort. I enjoy working with my old machines, and I love pushing them to do "modern" things, but when all is said and done, what have I done?

Have I shown the world what older hardware can do?
Have I shown the world what I can MAKE the hardware do?
Have I shown the world what others have made the hardware do, and that I'm an end-user of their work?

In a word, yes. But then "the world" really only refers to other retrocomputer enthusiasts. Frankly, I think the exercise would be lost on most people who only know how to point-and-click on their Windows machines. But I digress. People are sheep and only use what's put in front of them out of ignorance, laziness, or because they've been conditioned by the mass media and their brainwashed peers to believe there's only one true path and all others are laughably wrong and should be mocked at any given opportunity.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Well, I seem to have strayed from my original topic of reprioritizing my projects and allowed this post to denigrate into an attack on idiots, 'scuse me, society. I'm going to end this little tirade now while I'm still relatively calm and will try to get myself back on topic at a later date.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

No resurrection as yet!

I received my replacement logic board yesterday.

I was hoping to install it in Nadia, but as it turns out, I'm going to be busy all weekend. What a piss-off!

Ah well, I've lived several months now without my main Powerbook. I'm sure I can hold out for another couple of days. Besides, I'll probably use Amelie, my Powerbook 1400, in the interim. Likely be taking her with me to Radiant City at Cinematheque tonight so I can write notes before and after the show. I have a feeling it's gonna be a late night tonight, which is not good, since I had at most an hour's sleep last night. Spent much of the evening chatting (and drinking) with my friend Gail (who, incidentally, is in worse shape than I am today).

The New World Order: What you can do to help

Section Two: Entertainment
(coming soon)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

What's a day without a resurrection or two?

I have a package waiting for me at the Post Office.

It'll be one of three things. Either my newly acquired Sun Blade 100 workstation, my newly acquired Mac Powerbook Duo 280, or most importantly, the replacement logic board for my beloved Nadia.

I am seriously hoping it's the logic board. I have been without a modern laptop for months now, and I've been lazy as a result. No updates, no blurbs, no treatises, and no new pics on my main site. Or my alter-ego's site, but that's a moot point - not many people who truly know me would ever describe me as a bon vivant... in fact, most would use four-letter words when describing me ;)

It would have been nice to have had Nadia with me this evening to take notes and follow along wirelessly on the net... Why? Well, this leads me to my next bit of news and second potential resurrection of the day... my goal of being more civic-minded. I finally met two of the members of TRUWinnipeg, Jim and Jeff. We talked over coffee at my new favourite haunt, and I learned what the group is about, what they've done and plan to do. Mostly, I sat and listened, as a lot of what we talked about was new to me, but I'm eager to learn more, about what has to be done to make Winnipeg a better city, and how I can help. All in all, it was a great introduction to a new world for me... can't wait to learn more, and to meet the entire cast of characters!

In other news, I had to pay the Harper government $300 on my tax return. That hurt.

I also got to play office politics. Sort of. Not a game I like. Unfortunately, I have a feeling I'm going to be involved whether I like it or not.

C'est la vie.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

On Linux and Sparc: Is this goodbye, x86 and PPC?

So, here I am at the keyboard of a newly revamped Sun Ultra 5 (aka "Cinq").
Two weeks ago, I dragged Cinq up from the depths of the lab, and gave him a place of honour on my desk. Vier had just died, and I needed a new machine to piss around with. Solaris 8 was already installed, so I fired Cinq up and headed over to Sunfreeware to grab a few things I knew I'd need.

GTK, Emacs, Lynx, Pine, Python, and all their related dependencies. Man, it took forever!

I spent much of the following weekend installing yet more packages, trying to tweak the look and feel as well as improve Cinq's functionality. By the time Monday rolled around, I wasn't anywhere near done.

"No big deal", I told myself, "I'll bring him up to speed this weekend!"

And I did.

I gave up on Solaris 8 and installed Debian "etch", via the netinstall disk.

And I haven't looked back.

It took me nearly five non-consecutive days to bring Solaris 8 up to my minimum level of functionality. It took less than four hours on a Saturday afternoon to have Debian do nearly everything I want.

As much as I love Solaris (and I DO love it), as far as Cinq is concerned, Debian's the way to go.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Cutting-edge and Decadence part III: Enter the Grimaldis

I'm a happy man.

I'm posting this from my second Mac OS X machine, my 400MHz slot-loading Indigo iMac, aka "Monaco".

About a month ago, I realized how much I missed using Nadia and OS X, and started searching various sites on the net, trying to find a new logic board and CPU for my beloved Powerbook. When I couldn't find anything that was reasonably priced, I was about ready to consign myself to using my old 68K Macs or my Linux PC forever.

Then it hit me... didn't I just buy a "broken" $15 iMac for experimental purposes?

Just for grins, I hit eBay so I could price out iMac upgrades. Suddenly, my $15 eBay special became something more.
So, I shelled out $200 US (or thereabouts) for a gigabyte of RAM, a slot-loading DVDROM drive, an official "puck" mouse, and an adapter for the Airport card I'd bought for Nadia (not knowing it was incompatible with my Powerbook). The resulting transformation was astounding.

He went from a beat-up, "non-working" cast-off from a school district to my new "main machine", hereafter known as "Monaco". Arguably my most powerful home machine and also my first computer to reach a gig of RAM. Not to mention my first wireless machine.

I'm ecstatic that I can run OS X again. I can finally update my iPod, dump the pics from my digital camera, and blog with Ecto again.

Happy Easter, folks!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Cutting-edge and Decadence part II: Whys and Wherefores

Lately, I've been writing a lot about older computers. While originally not within the scope of this blog, they're an important part of my life.

I have three passions in life: computers, writing, and nonconformity (I am an Aquarius, after all!). I enjoy building, upgrading, and using computers, especially uncommon or outlandish ones. I find it to be somewhat of a challenge keeping them useful in this world of constant upgrading and planned obsolesence. I especially love portables, so I can write or take notes wherever I go, and I love watching people do a double-take when I'm sitting at a cafe or lounge working away on some ancient or bizarre laptop.

However, I've come to the conclusion that life is passing me by, technologically speaking. While functional at a basic level, most of my older hardware is simply not capable of delivering the kind of functionality I'm going to need, at least without a whole lot of effort. Effort I'm not so sure I want to expend.

I acquired a taste for blogging-on-the-go when I started using OS X on my Lombard. I quickly discovered Ecto, a great blogging tool, as well as Shrook, a freeware RSS reader, both of which got me hooked on blogs, RSS feeds, and (indirectly) podcasts. Nadia may be dead and gone, but the desire to blog remains. And now, there's something new...

First the Transit Riders Union got me interested in civic planning/transit issues. The New Winnipeg community cemented that interest. Then, I discovered, which really clinched it for me.

I've said I wanted to be more civic-minded, so I've decided to become more involved. I want to write, to be able to contribute in a timely manner, in as few steps as possible. I want to be able to update my blogs or pages wherever I am, whenever I want.

But unfortunately, my older hardware won't cut it. It's time for something new.

On Cutting-edge and Decadence

Someone asked me the other day if I felt as though technology is passing me by, given my predilection for older computer hardware.

I answered him with a story.

Three years ago, I was a paid contributor to an internet-based "magazine" dedicated to older computers. I also had a fairly busy social life, and couldn't be at my desk in my home office at all times, so I bought a Powerbook 160 so I could write on the go. I paid $15 US for the thing, and brought it with me everywhere I went.

One particular lunch hour, one of the outside salespeople at work saw me with my "ancient piece of crap" (as he put it) and decided to show off his new PDA. "I can grab my email, surf the web with Avantgo, view JPEGs, and even play video clips!", and proceeded to show me a grainy b&w video clip downloaded from some porn site. I looked at him, smiled, and said "Well, I can get my email, usenet news, surf the web with iCab, view JPEGs, and even play that same grainy video clip (which I did - it was an old quicktime clip!). And I only paid fifteen bucks. How much did you pay?"

Needless to say, the exchange ended there.

Since then, I've been able find the things I need to make my older hardware somewhat capable of doing "modern" things. I've had my Powerbook 5300 online with a wifi card, I've edited and redesigned my website several times over, and even experienced "Web 2.0" on my older machines. And done it all inexpensively.

But really... is it worth the effort? Instead of all that aggravation, random/unexplained crashes, and incompatibilities, wouldn't I be better off with something newer, more contemporary? Something that works right out of the box?

In the long run, yes. In this respect, I really miss Nadia, my Powerbook G3 "Lombard". I had OS X running like a top, and was blogging, editing my page, and surfing wherever there was an internet connection/hot spot. Despite being a couple of generations out of date (as Macs go), using Nadia felt like I was on the cutting edge. It was hard going back to my older Macs... but I managed.

I'm in the process of upgrading my newly acquired slot-loading iMac (G3/400) so I can run OS X again, but this leaves me without a comparable Powerbook...

While I can use my older Powerbooks quite effectively, sooner rather than later I'm going to need something more. I'll most likely pick up a new(er) Powerbook, but there's a slim chance I may pick up a Sparc-based Tadpole laptop or a Linux-based laptop.

Death in Service 2: Goodbye, old friend.

I've lost another one.

This time around, my beloved Macintosh LC 475 ("Vier") has passed on. The on-board SCSI controller is dead. Throws a bit of a wrench in my Retrochallenge plans.

I'm a tad heartbroken. Vier was my first Mac, bought in 2000 at a garage sale. He started life as a Macintosh LC, but was upgraded with an LC475 logic board, full 68040 w/FPU, and Farallon Dual Ethernet card. I credit Vier with rekindling my waning interest in computers, as well as getting me hooked on Macs, and in a roundabout way, freed me from being shackled to Microsoft Windows (which, I am proud to say, I don't use outside of work).

Vier will be missed.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Elitists and Proles, or Changes in the works...

I don't ever want to be like you.

I don't ever want to buy my clothes from a high-end retailer. I don't want to drive. I don't want a home entertainment system, surround sound or Blu-ray. I don't even want a TV. I don't want the latest toys. I don't want an electronic leash like a cellphone or Blackberry. I don't want a condo. I don't want Ikea. I don't want to shop at a big-box retail giant.

I don't want to be a couch potato. I don't want to sit on my ass, staring at a television or computer screen for hours. I don't want to live my life online. I don't want to chat for hours on MSN. I don't want YouTube. I don't want your online social networks. I don't want to "share" files, music, or pictures.


I realized last night (03/22/07), after half a bottle of navy rum and a few hours of screaming along with my favourite CDs, that I need to make a few changes in my life. I'm trapped in an endless cycle of debt and depression. Of computer parts and eBay. Of video games I never play and music I rarely hear. Of self-improvement and self-destruction. Of poor diet and worse health. Of creativity and broken deadlines. Of caffeine and sugar. And of course, of Conceit and Sociopathy.

In my half-drunken state last night, I told myself to get my act together. "How?", I asked, "What should I do?", to which I replied "Sheejay, wat you gotta do is get rid of all yer ol' computer crap, shell it all on eeebay... mebbe keep the onesh you really like, and f*cking do shomethin' with 'em..."

"Like what, ashhole?", I asked, mystified. "You alwaysh act like you f*cking know everything..."

"Now calm down, matey:, I told myself, "You jus' gotta calm down. Wat I'm gettin' at in my roundabout way ish to get rid of all the onesh you don't use, dat you bought to pissh around wit' but never really used. And get ridda da onesh dat are too exshpenshive to upgrade an' sell 'em for big bucksh to some nerd"

Astonished at my own genius, I replied, "Sheejay, man, you're a f*cking geniush! Lemme get you a drink!"

The rest of the evening is a blur, somehow I ended up with a black eye and my shoes were on the wrong feet. Nevertheless, I was on to something. I need to make a number of lifestyle changes, and selling off the computers I don't (and likely won't) use is a good start. That way, I'll never feel the urge to upgrade them, or spend money on other frivolous hardware & software. But that's just a start.

Next on the chopping block will be most of my video game collection...


The intro rant was originally directed at a particular group of people who frequent a couple of the web forums I'm on, but once I got going, it turned into an attack on society itself.

In my drunken evening of defiance and self-reflection, I realized while the bulk of my "problems" are financial in nature, I also need to make changes in my personal life as well. I'm never going to be a condo-livin' well-to-do member of the elite. My attempts at being a dapper, sophisticated bon vivant have been laughable at best. I just can't hide all the "North End" in me... that said, I'm also not a low-brow, poorly educated labourer, and my attempts at humility have been equally laughable. I just can't hide my intellect no matter how hard I try. What's left? A Costco-shopping, TV-ingesting, SUV-driving, Middle-class suburbanite with 1.5 obese kids? I'll never let that happen. So where does that leave me?

After all these years, I'm still a misfit with a disdain for both our materialistic society and this culture of convenience. And that'll never change. So why not channel that disdain into something positive? Something creative? Or something truly nasty?

At any rate, whether good or bad, I've decided to take up writing again.

Friday, March 16, 2007

First steps towards the Retrochallenge

I've started preparing for the Retrochallenge!

I've decided upon Vier as my "main" retrochallenge system, but I can't seem to decide on a tag-team partner for him...

Vier's partner will be a Powerbook, to be sure. I just need to figure out which one. I have three 68K Powerbooks to choose from, with a possible fourth 'book (a Duo 210) from eBay on which I'm bidding.

I have a flaky Powerbook 145b, an equally flaky Powerbook 170, and my Powerbook 540c (which I've nicknamed Sayaka, after Sayaka Yumi from Mazinger-Z).

Originally, I wanted to use Sayaka, however she'll be the most expensive to upgrade. I need to pick up a battery and a PRAM battery (total cost: $150 USD) in order to use her on the go. Not exactly cheap.

The 145b and 170 are decent options. Both would require me to pick up an AC adapter, PRAM battery and power battery, which would likely cost me around $100 USD. Again, not cheap.

The Duo 210 would be an attractive option, but also expensive. I'd need to track down a battery, likely a PRAM battery, a DuoDock and/or external Duo floppy drive. Not cheap, but the Duo's tiny size makes for easier portability, which would be well worth the cost.

I'm still not sure what I'm going to do, but I will have made a decision around this time tomorrow.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The 68K Mac's place in the "modern world"

Stubborn determination, or exercise in masochism? Perhaps a hobby taken to a ludicrous extreme?

[*picture to follow*]

Whatever the explanation, I find myself at the keyboard of my 25MHz Macintosh LC475 (aka "Vier"), slowly yet happily plugging away on Blogger. Experiencing Web 2.0 as no one should.

I don't know why I do it. I have this insatiable need to push "Vier" to the brink, to wring every ounce of performance I can from the machine. And you know, I've never been disappointed! Vier is robust, and very resilient, and has handled everything I've thrown at it and come back wanting more. Which drives me to find new, more modern challenges...

I've been a member (recruit?) of the 68K Mac Liberation Army for about a year now. I enjoy reading the forums, and in that year I've learned a lot about the hardware and applications. It was through the 68KMLA that I learned about the Retrochallenge.

I won't go into detail about the Retrochallenge (look it up!), but members of the 68KMLA's Retrochallenge forum have inspired me. I absolutely HAVE to do something creative with Vier, but what?

As usual, the answer was staring me in the face all along... Regular Podcast! I've been wanting to do a "low end" podcast for a year now, but never really followed through with it. Now that I've been suitably inspired, it should prove to be a challenge both in terms of writing AND production. Can I create interesting and entertaining content consistantly? Can I produce it exclusively on Vier?

Sure. But will it be enough to satisfy me? Or will I put Vier through the grinder on an even bigger project after that?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Believe it or not...

I'm writing this post on my old Macintosh LC475, a 25MHz machine.

Unfortunately, the 68K version of iCab (the browser I'm using) doesn't render css well, and as such, most pages on Blogger are a bit jumbled. I had a tough time logging in, and had to do a little bit of cutting and pasting of URLs before Blogger would let me in. Maybe if I tried to log in via Google?

The editing page is a right mess... nothing is rendered properly, and I don't see the toolbar anywhere. So, I have absolutely NO idea how this is going to look on other systems.

But at least I can say I edited my blog, via Blogger's web interface, on my LC475.

I have experienced Web 2.0 on a 25MHz computer from 1993.

Civic-mindedness part three: The Pot and The Kettle

A bad case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Two minutes after my last post, I started reading some of my older posts. Sure enough, I got to my "No, it's MY Downtown" article.

The article (not my finest hour) was an almost militant swipe at suburbanites. I derided all the people who complain about our downtown: the panhandlers, lack of free parking, lack of big box retail, and so on; telling them they weren't wanted downtown, to stay home and leave downtown to us, the people who enjoy and appreciate it.

Not exactly civic minded. Or even friendly.

So, in the interest of "making nice" and scrubbing off the residue of hypocracy, I've deleted it.
Won't happen again.

Civic-mindedness part two

*** This article was removed 03/11/07. I have to learn not to jump to conclusions or judge people before I've met them in person. ***

Thursday, February 15, 2007

On forums and Civic-mindedness

I did something yesterday I didn't think I'd ever do. I joined an online forum about Winnipeg.

At first glance, all I found was the kind of juvenile behaviour (arche/stereo)typical of online forums in general. People sniping at each other, flame wars, hyperdefensiveness over the slightest questioning or criticism of one's point of view, you know... that sort of thing.  The sort of thing I thought I left behind when I left the Usenet.

Well, I persevered. I read through a few more articles and posts, and it dawned on me... there are actual INTELLIGENT conversations and discussions going on, and most people DO seem to care about the subjects at hand.

I may have found my element. But what does it take to become more civic-minded?

...guess I'm gonna find out...

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Double heartbreak...

Ever get the feeling the universe has a sick sense of humour?

Today, the day after my beloved Nadia died, Low End Mac's "Mac of the Day" is the Powerbook G3 "Lombard".

Ain't that a kick in the nuts?!

And to make matters worse, it had to happen today, my 34th birthday...


Saturday, February 3, 2007

Death in service... Rest in Peace, Nadia.

Nadia, my dear, thank you for a wonderful year...

Nadia, my Macintosh Powerbook G3 "Lombard", died today after a year of faithful service. My first "modern" Powerbook, Nadia took over for my ailing Powerbook 5300 (aka Raven) as my mobile office and website maintenance machine.

Nadia was also the first Mac I had that was able to run OS X. In the three months I used OS X, I became enamoured... OS X is so easy to use, and it introduced me to the "modern" internet. I created my first blog using Nadia (first through Blogger's web interface, then through Ecto) and had fun using Shrook to catch all my favourite RSS feeds.

When I decided to buy a new MP3 player, I went with an iPod, because I knew it would work well with my Powerbook. It didn't disappoint! iTunes is so easy to use, it's unreal... seamless updating of my iPod.

Life was grand for the month after my iPod arrived... until today. At 7pm today, Nadia died. Victim of CPU failure.

She will be missed.

As will all the songs I imported from my CDs, my serial number for Ecto (which I forgot to write down), pictures from my digital camera, and a few web-related projects I was working on. Wish I'd bought that CDRW drive when I had the money...

Looks like I'm in the market for a new Powerbook. And an external drive enclosure, so I can salvage what I can from Nadia's hard drive.

I'm leaning towards buying the Lombard's successor, the Pismo... likely a 500MHz model. Why? Because I have three batteries for Nadia, and they'll work on a Pismo... not to mention a CD/DVDROM drive, spare PRAM battery, and a few other accessories, too...

That, and a Pismo is much more inexpensive than, say, a new Macbook.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Triple Whammy...?

Ended up going back to Misericordia Hospital again Friday after work.

I've steadily been getting better, most of my symptoms have gone, and my medication has run out. However, last Tuesday I started coughing up blood...

I haven't been hemorrhaging or anything, just had small amounts of blood in my sputum any time I had a coughing fit. The boss got worried and took me to the hospital himself.

So, after the super-cute nurse examined me, she handed me a magazine, smiled at me, and said "There are a few charts ahead of you...", which apparently means "Hope you didn't have any plans tonight..."

An hour and a bit later, an obviously overworked doctor came in. She listened to my breathing and heart, examined my ears, nose, and throat, and said "You're fine. You likely ruptured a few capillaries when you were coughing, which led to blood in your sputum. So go home!".

Ended up meeting my new friend Karen at a cafe near the hospital (we'd had plans to meet earlier, but being at the hospital sort of killed that...). We had a few coffees and some pastries (both of which were great) and shared an interesting conversation.

All in all, it wasn't a bad evening. Apart from being late for a date 'cause I was in the hospital.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bronchitis and Sinusitis: The double whammy


I've been laid up in bed since last Friday.

I had a number of sinus headaches pretty much all last week, but I ignored them. Foolish human.

I was feeling particularily bad Friday at work, and by the time I got home, I was ready to drop. Headache, fever, chills, and a nasty cough.

I stayed home Saturday (apart from a quick trip to 7-Eleven), which was a good idea. The headaches had gotten worse, the chills and fever got much worse, and I couldn't stop coughing.

By Saturday evening, I was hallucinating. Nothing tangible, just white blobs of light, and a few spots thrown in for good measure. My mind started going weeeiiird, I mean weirder than usual...

If it weren't for the pain and risk of permanent damage, it would have been a blast! I only wish I'd started a tape recorder or video camera up, because I'm sure I said some interesting things.

Sunday was a bit better, the fever let up a bit, and I was able to get up to change my sweat-soaked bedsheets and have a good shower. But I still had that nagging cough, chills, and wicked headache.,.

Got no sleep Sunday night, which prompted me to call in sick Monday. Boss wasn't happy, but oh well, I was sick. Monday night wasn't much better... every time I coughed, my head would POUND with sinus pressure... and as such, I got NO sleep.

I got up at 6am yesterday, and hopped the bus to the 24-hour urgent care ward at Misericordia Hospital. Didn't have to wait long to see a doctor, as the chronic visitors (both legitimately sick and those who just need social contact) don't normally start showing up until 9am or so.

Several hours of gowns, xrays, and radiologists later, I was given the news... bronchitis and sinusitis. Got a doctor's
note excusing me from work for both yesterday and today, along with a prescription for nasal spray and some antibiotics. Boss wasn't happy when I told him I'd be out of action until tomorrow (Thursday), but, well, I'm sick.

Man, six days cooped up at home. If it weren"t for the CBC, I woulda went stir-crazy. I had the TV in my bedroom tuned permanently on CBC Newsworld for the entire duration (well, when I was awake).

So, thanks to Heather Hiscox, Sarika Sehgal, Peter Mansbridge, and all the rest for keeping me sane during my illness.