I'm not the best traveller in the world. I'm even worse at packing to go elsewhere (meaning anywhere but the U.S. and by that I really mean further away than a bus could take me in a single day; I'm a little phobic about leaving my comfort zone which really means leaving my dining room table where all of my stuff is) much less for more than a handful of days. I'm not exactly having a nervous breakdown but I don't really want to sleep either.
This is some really superior planning. The logic is relatively sound: stay up, keep moving, have bonus time to forget and then remember things that must be done, and so on including haircuts and doing some laundry. Then I forget that I have a really difficult time sleeping on airplanes so I'm likely to stay awake for more than twenty four hours. This is a kickass strategy because it not only assures that I will adapt to the time change rapidly but also that I will show up in another country babbling like a sleep deprived idiot in an American accent. What more could you really ask for?
Wow. When all you have is time the next logical step is large scale choreography I guess.
I've been working on some freelance type stuff for the past week or so and we leave for Yurp in less than two days so I've been spending very little of my time doing much of anything other than work. Periodically I take breaks from doing any kind of work with code (especially code that other people wrote and I have to modify) in order to keep my mind from shattering into little, useless pieces (some would refer to these as modules or plugins) I skim the news or open a feed reader. Here is what crossed my tired and cranky periphery that I think is worth sharing:
1. Apple bought out CUPS which has been rolled into OS X under a different license for a while now (since the beginning? I'm not sure about that) anyhow. I have no idea how this is going to work out for non-Apple users. Apple hasn't done the best job, historically, with handling FOSS inclusions. Jesus, the beginnings of the incorporation of khtml into Safari was a complete fiasco. They'll follow the license requirements to the letter but are super tight fisted about contributing back. I'm unwilling to either applaud or decide that the sky is falling right now based on an announcement from the lead developer lead.
2. Apparently Linspire sold their soul to MSFT for next to no benefit. The Groklaw run down is pretty detailed and offers the usual interpretation of legal language we've all come to know and love. Linspire really grabbed their ankles on this one and they're passing that federal level ass hurt on down to the customers. One of the prime pieces of interpretation is that basically by using the versions of Linspire covered by this agreement you have opened your computer up to potential inspection by the Business Software Alliance. I'm not sure that is the sort of value added indemnification that most people are looking for unless they've got some deep masochistic streak.
3. My new(er) band Warsaw Surrenders recorded some songs back in July. They're all available from the website in a couple of different formats. Recording was a little more smooth this time around and I'm pretty happy with the way things came out after having a little time to listen to the recording and dealing with the fact that part of the process of making recordings is to capture mistakes as well as the goodies. I'm just mentioning that in this list because I haven't before. We're still ridiculously loud, just more melodic.
4. Easy Eclipse is a wonderful piece of work that actually makes it possible to use Eclipse without wasting a lot of time that could be better spent cranking out code trying to find plugins for language support and things like that. I installed it (easy? yes.) and I've actually been using Eclipse for some PHP work. The key part here is that I actually used the application instead of getting frustrated three quarters of the way through a setup and abandoning it entirely.
5. The One Click Ruby Installer for OS X is also good stuff. It corrects the problems with the Apple distributed versions of some software that make running Rails a tedious process on the Apple platform. Rails is supposed to be included (presumably in the developers tools) in the next version of the OS but this is better than some promises and a video presentation to inflate investor interest, right? The really nice part about this package is that it does not whomp the version installed already so you could actually remove it without potentially trashing your install. Thanks.
This probably the funniest thing I've seen in a long while. Brush your teeth.
Just read another person's expression of distaste for having phone books delivered with no way to refuse them and I'm wondering if there isn't some legal way to combat this. You can't really classify phone book delivery as junk mail in the traditional sense as it isn't handled by the USPS or any other government or otherwise regulated service so formally complaining is an utter waste of time, as it is in most cases where no money has changed hands and the likelihood of money changing hands in the future is next to zero.
The part that utterly slays me about the whole sick cycle is that advertising dollars are raked in for a completely worthless exchange. I'd almost be willing to bet that the use of phone books (much less ten different flavors of them) has declined exponentially as years go by and the internet becomes more of an appliance-like utility and less of a mysterious series of tubes that funnels pornography to children and is powered by a furnace shoveled full of human souls. Are advertisers conscious that they're basically advertising exclusively to old people and info-highway shut-ins? Should we expect full page 419 and V11agRrr4 advertisements in future editions? The notion that this may indeed be the case is more than enough to keep me from ever cracking one of those books again which is kind of hilarious since I'd guess that it has been the better part of a decade since I've actually used a phone book as anything other than a doorstop. The question, I guess if there is a question in all of this murk, is whether advertisers are actually cognizant of the limited audience of phone book advertising and coaxed into coughing up cold cash by deceptive charts n' graphs or is there some nebulous cloud of commercial activity lurking the WTF Pages that I'm just not privy to?
I suspect that the tactic comes from artificially inflated distribution numbers similar to the scam that newspapers pull on advertisers but I'm no wizard of advertising dollar bingo so what do I know. Anyone got a good answer or a better and more crazy conspiracy theory?
We're leaving for Yurp in a couple of weeks, specifically England, France, and Italy, and I've been procrastinating on doing any real research on what I'd like to visit while in any of those countries. I have to admit a complete and utter dearth of interest in travel destinations which was probably influenced by my inability to leave the continent of North America before I turned thirty. Anyway, I am more interested than I really know and this became apparent when I found out about the catacombs in Paris as the last person on Earth not to know at least something about them other than the parts Victor Hugo wrote about and started digging (ha!) into their history a bit. The fact that they exist in any state at all is pretty amazing to me especially given the circumstances that necessitated their use (churchyard overpopulation and the pollution and the seemingly inevitable spread of disease that follows) and how ridiculously huge the publicly accessible parts are. The majority of the tunnels are off limits and allegedly can run up some huge fines for their exploration which, as always, means that some vicarious exploration is in order.
The best documentation I found was over at Infiltration and was also very funny in parts:
For dinner, they warm tins of duck confit and break out the bread and wine. I offer water and Power Bars. They eye the latter curiously. Jean Baptiste: "Hashish?" I suggest saving them for dessert. And they are Frenchmen. As adamant as they were about pushing on, they savour their dinner and rest time.
and gives you some flavor for the local curiosity about the catacombs and how devoted (read: obsessed) some folks are with finding all of the secrets and mapping out as much of it as possible.
I also dug the virtual tour that another fellow put together. Granted, these are areas that are legal to access but I can't imagine myself getting spelunkered out in rubber gear and boots so this is probably as close to a preview as I'm going to get. Given some of the tight spaces the Infiltration guy had to squeeze through I'm not sure that this is necessarily a bad thing.
Today I had absolutely no agenda on my plate so I am being 100 percent unemployed today. I haven't been able to wander around during the daylight hours and actually have the pocket cash to do so in quite a few years. I'm not entirely sure that it is a completely comfortable feeling. Although I dissolved my previous employment with more than enough notice and did all of the expected checking out sort of hoop jumping I still feel like I'm playing hooky. Trying to dodge hundred degree heat makes it a little less guilty but I still feel like I'm fucking up something fierce. I'm hanging out in a coffee place right now, surrounded by other Tuesday afternoon slackers, and I feel bad. I'm not sure whether this says something creepy about American culture or something creepy about me. Anyway, I'm sitting here all nervous and uncomfortable and more than a little like an untied balloon, wooshing around and bumping into assorted surfaces because I'm not exactly sure where I should be. It runs sort of counter to the ideas that you nurse when you're caught in a job you dislike -- the old 'if only I had a week or so without this I would conquer the world' thinking. I wish there were a way to actually make this work.
Equally disorienting, Ditherati is back. Guess Web2.0 might be useful for something after all.