Wil Wheaton’s Not Dead

I hap­pened accross Wil Wheaton’s site today and I can tell already, he and I are going to be good friends.

I hap­pened across Wil Wheaton’s site today and I can tell already, he and I are going to be good friends. No, Wil, I’m not going to be stalk­ing you. Plane tick­ets to L.A. are too expen­sive right now. How­ev­er, Wil has a cool site that is all his own. Yep, that’s right. A Hol­ly­wood type that does his own web site (down to the code). I sup­pose many peo­ple already knew all about his site, but hey, I can’t read the whole interenet. If you go to the site, you don’t have to read too many posts to learn that Wil is quite the good geek, and not just about cod­ing. He’s a fan of the dark beers, a good lib­er­al, and actu­al­ly gives a crap what peo­ple have to say. Oh, sure you can chock that up to the typ­i­cal vain, left-coast Hol­ly­wood stereo­types, but I did men­tion he likes dark beers. Explain that away eas­i­ly. Also, he’s host­ed a cou­ple of episodes of “The Screen Savers,” which is pret­ty sil­ver-back for geekdom.

The rea­son I came across Wil’s site in the first place was read­ing Gar­rick Van Buren’s “Wish List”, which cred­its Wil for. This is a great idea. I’m one who has on many occa­sions set out per­son­al life-long goals. Many of which were over a beer with friends, and have long since been for­got­ten. Here’s a list of such goals, out there for the world to see, that can eas­i­ly be re-vis­it­ed from time to time to (in Wil’s words) “see if you’re liv­ing your life, or just exist­ing.” Not a bad idea from some flaky L.A. guy. Okay, I hope you real­ize that I’m being face­tious now.

Any­way, Wil’s get­ting added to my “Else­where On The Web” sec­tion of links. I don’t know most of these peo­ple and they sure aren’t get­ting most of their traf­fic from me (if so, Kot­tke’s going to starve). How­ev­er, they’ve all got good sites with some­thing to say. So, if you get bored read­ing my site, you real­ly should click through to them. I know they’d appre­ci­ate you spend­ing some time on their sites as well. Angela will be hap­py at least. She can eas­i­ly go check up to see what Wes­ley Crush­er’s been doing since TNG. Oh, and I knew Wil was­n’t dead; that was just a joke. I know, it’s not fun­ny to joke about that sort of thing.

My Rental

Slushy Road
Orig­i­nal­ly uploaded by super_structure.

I took my truck in yes­ter­day to have some ser­vice done (minor recall crap). The deal­er­ship gave me a rental for the day, which turned out to be a Maz­da 3. Okay, it’s not Fer­rari or any­thing, but much nicer than the bro­ken down Ford Focus they gave me last time. Any­way, it’s a real­ly nice lit­tle car. Very sporty. It even has manu-mat­ic shift­ing (or what­ev­er Maz­da calls it) like my truck. Unlike my truck, it has red & black inte­ri­or with car­bon fiber trim. The dash is all sub­ma­rine-sytle red lights. Even thought it’s a small car, I thought it was very com­fort­able. It did feel like large bumps might make it take air pret­ty easy, though. Unset­tling for a guy who usu­al­ly dri­ves small sport util­i­ty vehichle.

Speak­ing of which, they had to replace the trim-work on the A‑pillars of my vehi­cle. Come to find out they did­n’t pro­vide a whole lot of padding in an acci­dent. Of course, isn’t that what seat­belts are for? Any­way, the prob­lem is, on a Free­lander, the A pil­lars are already pret­ty mas­sive and this did­n’t real­ly help. They now have a sort of aero­foil shape to them, which is larg­er and far more dan­ger­ous look­ing than the ori­gion­al trim. I did­n’t think to ask the deal­er if I could keep the old plas­tic… Oh well.

Everything That Was Old Is New Again

I’ve got the site, well, look­ing exact­ly like it did a cou­ple of days ago.

Okay, well… I think I’ve tak­en the 20-lb sledge to most of the look of the site, if only to get exact­ly back to where I was two days ago (before I upgrad­ed to WP1.5). How­ev­er, there’s some more pow­er under the hood now, and hope­ful­ly I know a lit­tle more about what’s going on behind the scenes around here. I have to say, it took me for­ev­er to fig­ure out how to tweak the HTML code of the link cat­e­gories in the side­bar. Man, is that buried in here!

I have a long list of things to get to, and I’m look­ing for­ward to hear­ing from every­body as to what they think. That reminds me, you can can­not leave com­ments again (I’m so jeal­ous of peo­ple who have blogs that work, right now). Let me know if you find any­thing bro­ken. I hope to get the RSS feeds back again, soon as well. There’s always e‑mail, although that’s so 1998.

Professional Amatuers

Blog­gers seem to be the sto­ry in the news late­ly. This all reminds me of Gomer Pyle shout­ing “Cit-i-zen’s Arrast, Cit-i-zen’s Arrast!”

After the cred­it for bring­ing down Sen. Trent Lott, Dan Rather, Eason Jor­dan, and Jeff Gan­non (aka J.D. Guck­ert), blog­gers seem to be the sto­ry in the news late­ly. By news, I mean the “main­stream media,” although blog­gers seem to be doing an awful lot of back-pat­ting of their own. It’s been said the medi­a’s favorite sub­ject is itself and it seems blog­gers are no dif­fer­ent in that regard. The sto­ry, it seems, is the ques­tion as to weblogs place in the media. Wired had a sto­ry yes­ter­day about the ques­tion of blog­gers hav­ing the same pro­tec­tion as main­stream jour­nal­ists. Polit­i­cal-mind­ed weblogs are argu­ing back and forth about which jour­nal­ists or media icon they brought down has the most polit­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance and who is respon­si­ble for their fall. I might ask here, has any­one read any­thing about a blog mak­ing some­one famous? I guess that’d just be dog-bit­ing-man stuff.

Press Hat

This all reminds me of Gomer Pyle shout­ing “Cit-i-zen’s Arrast, Cit-i-zen’s Arrast!” While I don’t think that too many places have licensed jour­nal­ists (unlike say, doc­tors, phar­ma­cists, engi­neers, or hair-dressers), I think that we all under­stand the idea of being a “mem­ber of the press.” Remem­ber those goofy white cards stick­ing out of the guys’ hats in all the 50’s & 60’s shows that read PRESS? That does­n’t make sense unless we all have some under­stand­ing of the con­cept of what the press is. Like the free­dom of the press in the 1st Amend­ment. This is also why blog­gers go by the very pop­ulist title of “cit­i­zen jour­nal­ists.” It sounds all so folksy and grass-roots does­n’t it? Well, I for one think it’s about as folksy as a case of rabies. When you have no rules or under­stood eth­i­cal guide­lines, it is amaz­ing what you can get done. How­ev­er, those rules and ethics are what make the news news and not sim­ple gos­sip. I’m not naive and I’m ful­ly aware that this does­n’t always hap­pen. I remem­ber Stephen Glass and Jayson Blaire, too. How­ev­er, we had a sort of mar­ket guar­an­tee that the evening news or the morn­ing paper were going to try and get it right (yes, the facts) and not take the insane­ly stu­pid risk of report­ing some­thing that just was­n’t true or that no one was will­ing to go on the record as say­ing. It seems Blog­gers some­time rel­ish in the fact that they don’t have to play by any cer­tain rules, just because of the excep­tions in the Main­stream media that broke said rules. This is just the lat­est devel­op­ment in what I think is a wor­ri­some trend.

Some­where along the way, we got Fox News for con­ser­v­a­tives and I guess CNN is for the rest of us who just don’t think Fox News is worth a damn. Any­way, we got these news chan­nels that sud­den­ly had demo­graph­ic audi­ences they seemed hell bent on pleas­ing to keep. The news was cus­tom tai­lored to what the audi­ence thought the truth ought to be, rather than what it might actu­al­ly be. Now, with blogs, it goes a giant leap beyond. Now, peo­ple are report­ing what they think the news should be. No longer do we just sub­scribe to our own lit­tle news fil­ters, we fil­ter it with our own lens for oth­ers! They dic­tate what the spin is and seem to have lit­tle trou­ble in push­ing it relent­less­ly until the Main­stream Media picks up on it. In this brave new world, your on the record 24-hours-a-day, 7‑days-a-week.

I have a blog. I’m not try­ing to fool you. This is all an exer­cise in van­i­ty, just like every oth­er blog is. Let’s just keep in mind that quit­ting our day jobs to sit around in our paja­mas and spew dig­i­tal bile on those we hate isn’t going to make the world bet­ter for any­one except paja­ma man­u­fac­tur­ers. I’ll let Chuck Olsen & Jon Stew­art have the last word. Thank’s Chuck for post­ing this video. (We all know what a true friend of the Main­stream Media that Jon is.)

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Not much going on today, oth­er than tons of work and still under the sick spell. I did want to point out a very short, but glow­ing review of the The Coal Men on the Ten­nessean web site post­ed yes­ter­day. Just in case you’re too lazy to click:

You won’t find a short­age of skilled roots-rock bands slin­gin’ chords around on any giv­en night in Nashville, sure, but real­ly, real­ly good ones still stand out.
And The Coal Men — singer Dave Cole­man and cohorts Dave Ray and Jason Hitch­cock — are real­ly, real­ly good, bash­ing out a col­lec­tion of expert­ly craft­ed songs that have as much bite as they do twang. Cole­man’s got a heck of a bari­tone and Ray and Hitch­cock­’s rhythms are spot-on, but their sets are still loose enough to feel lived in.

That’s about typ­i­cal for the Ten­nessean’s reviews of the band. They love the local guys, and they real­ly love The Coal Men. Oh yeah, about locals: If you read (in the Ten­nessean or else­where) last week about the 27 year old female school teacher who was bust­ed for mul­ti­ple counts of rape of a 13 year old boy, then you may have read on to learn that she’s from my home coun­ty. It’s always great to see some­one from a small town strik­ing it big in the news. I did­n’t know the woman back then, although I’m sure I saw her play some bas­ket­ball and rec­og­nized her maid­en name: Pamela Rogers.

Last­ly, on the sub­ject of famous peo­ple, be sure and read Wired’s arti­cle on celebri­ties that come into the Apple Store at The Grove Mall in Los Ange­les. Fun­ny stuff.

Twin Turkey Vultures

Twin Turkey Vul­tures
Orig­i­nal­ly uploaded bysuper_structure.

A cou­ple of turkey vul­tures land­ed out­side my office win­dow today dur­ing my lunch break. Appar­ent­ly, they come around every once in a while to prey on the dead geese and ducks around the small lakes in the imme­di­ate area. While quite pos­si­bly one of the ugli­est birds you can imag­ine, they’re actu­al­ly quite inter­est­ing to watch.

Any­way, I’m try­ing hard to ignore the sym­bol­ism of hav­ing a cou­ple of vul­tures hov­er­ing around just out­side my win­dow. I have a cou­ple of project dead­lines ear­ly next week and am strug­gling to stay on top of things. For­tu­nate­ly, I’m not alone in the office and on one’s going to leave my car­cass out for the birdies. Still, I think I’ll make sure they are no big birds of prey fly­ing around when I leave work today.

Coming Up For Air

My rea­son for not post­ing for the last week is that I’ve been very sick. Some sort of res­pi­ra­to­ry infec­tion. Noth­ing that would con­sti­tute an emer­gency, though.

I know I haven’t been post­ing any­thing for over a week now. Of course, if you’re not a per­son inter­est­ed in TiVo, then you prob­a­bly haven’t been read­ing my posts for longer than that. Sor­ry about that. What can I say, I got a new toy and I’ve been play­ing with it. Actu­al­ly, the rea­son for not post­ing for the last week is that I’ve been very sick. Some sort of res­pi­ra­to­ry infec­tion. Well, 3 OTC’s, 4 pre­scrip­tions, and 2 trips to the doc­tor’s office lat­er, and I’m begin­ning to feel a lit­tle bet­ter. I promise nev­er to make fun of Rich­mond’s Doc-In-A-Box again. I’m so glad there here and can help me on a Sun­day after­noon! Okay, I’m not going to make them into some­thing they’re not. How­ev­er, I’m not going to bust their chops either. They do good work over there. Not to men­tion, they keep a lot of peo­ple out of the emer­gency room. We can all be thank­ful for that.

Well, oth­er than a less-than-rous­ing State of the Union address, there’s not been too much goings on to write about. I won’t go into here, oth­er than to say that the “own­er­ship soci­ety” rhetoric is get­ting a lit­tle old for me. Have we all for­got­ten Enron & World­com? Who the hell wants this to be the future of Social Secu­ri­ty? For all the talk of social secu­ri­ty being bro­ken and in need of imme­di­ate repair, what we real­ly need is to under­stand that it’s not pro­ject­ed to run out of mon­ey until 2042, even by con­ser­v­a­tive esti­mates. That’s if it’s left alone right now. There is no emer­gency and we don’t need to go blow­ing tril­lions (yep, that’s a T) by pri­va­tiz­ing any of this. Not yet at least. Let the gov­ern­ment take some time and use some lever­age to get pri­vate com­pa­nies and invest­ment firms to go along with­out that mas­sive cost. That’s some­thing of an over-sim­pli­fi­ca­tion, but not unrea­son­able. I under­stand some impor­tant peo­ple won’t make as much mon­ey in the short term, but this is Social Secu­ri­ty and was nev­er about mak­ing any­body mon­ey. It was about ensu­ing we’ll all have some help after retire­ment… to ensure that Amer­i­cans could even con­sid­er retire­ment. I’m not Social Secu­ri­ty expert, and I’m cer­tain­ly not invest­ing Guru. How­ev­er, I can spot a bleed­ing emer­gency when I see one, and this folks, isn’t such a thing. Hav­ing the com­mon sense not to rush into fix­ing this pro­gram that is cur­rent­ly work­ing rea­son­ably well (I have fam­i­ly mem­bers that get their checks) is the same com­mon sense that kept me out of the emer­gency room for a bad cough.

Is Wired Getting Tired?

I’m loath to admit it, but I’m afraid that this mon­th’s Wired mag­a­zine that came sneak­ing through my mail slot this after­noon is not their best work.

Wired Magazine, Feburary 2005

I’m loath to admit it, but I’m afraid that this mon­th’s Wired mag­a­zine that came sneak­ing through my mail slot this after­noon is not their best work. The cov­er arti­cle is on Fire­fox, and it’s ear­ly begin­nings with Blake Ross & Ben Goodger. I enjoyed get­ting to read about the two of them and the his­to­ry on my favorite open source soft­ware. How­ev­er, 1.0 came out in the Fall of last year. No one was stay­ing up late to get this sto­ry done for print. To point, the arti­cle clos­es with the “where are they now” bit on Ross and Goodger, explain­ing that Goodger plans to stay at the Mozil­la Foun­da­tion. Of course, this evening Slash­dot reports that Goodger plans to go work for Google, effec­tive two weeks ago.

In anoth­er arti­cle, the pro­lif­ic Lawrence Lessig writes how Wilco is the new mod­el for a rock band of the future. You should read his arti­cle (and pret­ty much any­thing else he writes), but again we’re not talk­ing about any recent hap­pen­ings here. Wilco broke record com­pa­ny hearts with Yan­kee Fox­trot Hotel way back in April of 2002. I was a new­ly-wed back then! And even then, they were about as big as bands get in the alt-coun­try scene. Just ask my broth­er, Dave. I enjoyed the piece none-the-less, but Jeff Tweedy must be just as oblique in per­son as he is as a songwriter.

Last­ly, one of the lit­tle tid­bits in Wired I always look for­ward to, oth­er than their FOUND: Arti­facts From the Future clos­er each month, is the Jar­gon Watch. This month, they gave me:

But­tnum­bat­hon — A painful­ly long and bor­ing movie. See: Oliv­er Stone’s Alexan­der. (Bet­ter yet, don’t.) Also the name of review­er Har­ry Knowles’ annu­al film marathon and birth­day bash.

Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News has been throw­ing these things togeth­er for the last six years run­ning! This is not the lat­est in jar­gon my friends.

I’m look­ing for­ward to next mon­th’s Wired. They’ve got two months now to find some new stuff. Since Mac­Ex­po S.F. and CES L.V., maybe they’ll have at least plen­ty of gad­gets to write about.

Fast-Paced First Week

I can hard­ly believe that five whole days have gone by since I start­ed my new job. I have to say that I’m feel­ing a great deal more opti­mistic since my last post, too.

My Office View

Look­ing out the win­dow at my new office onto the snow from the last two days in Richmond.

I can hard­ly believe that five whole days have gone by since I start­ed my new job. I think that even after psych­ing my self up for a month, I was­n’t pre­pared for the quick pace of work here. I got on a project first thing on Mon­day morn­ing, and I’ve been busy with it pret­ty much the entire time since (well, at work any­way). I have to say that I’m feel­ing a great deal more opti­mistic since my last post, too. It’s not that I thought I’d made a mis­take, it was just that sink­ing feel­ing of real­iz­ing just how much I was step­ping back­ward, in a career sense.

My boss and I did get to make a site vis­it down­town Rich­mond on Tues­day, though. It was about 20º F, in the sun with 15–20 mph winds. I have a whole new lev­el of respect for those con­struc­tion guys out grout­ing lin­tel seats and hang­ing struc­tur­al steel. Insane. We’ve had snow the last cou­ple of days here in Rich­mond, so I doubt they’ve had much of a chance to con­tin­ue. This pho­to is look­ing out my new office win­dow. I took it around lunch on Fri­day. I real­ize it’s not a spec­tac­u­lar view, but since I could­n’t see any day­light from the desk at my old job, I feel as though I’ve moved up in the world.

I’ve spent the week learn­ing all about RAM Inter­na­tion­al’s Struc­tur­al Sys­tem design soft­ware pack­age. I have to say, I’m pret­ty impressed thus far. I’ve used a num­ber of soft­ware solu­tions for struc­tur­al analy­sis and design, and RAM has lived up to its billing as a one of the best. It is very much geared to the build­ing indus­try, and there­fore can tai­lor its solu­tions accord­ing­ly. I miss some of the open end­ed-ness of some of the oth­er pack­ages I’ve used (STAAD, GTSTRUDL) or even the more straight for­ward frame input of oth­er build­ing design soft­ware (RISA 3D). How­ev­er, you trade all that for the speed and com­plete-ness that RAM offers. Sure, I can’t cus­tom edit ele­ments to cre­ate out-of-plan beams, for exam­ple. What I can do, though, is enter in and design an entire two-sto­ry school build­ing in a man­ner of hours. Pret­ty slick.

The oth­er task this week was learn­ing a lit­tle more about build­ing con­struc­tion. For­tu­nate­ly, the edu­ca­tion sys­tem for the struc­tures por­tion of civ­il engi­neer­ing is catered to the build­ing indus­try. I got to spend the last 3 years learn­ing a good bit about bridge design (albeit, only steel bridges). Now, I get to actu­al­ly use some of the things I learned in school towards design. Now, if only I could start using LRFD steel design.

Just as an aside, I’m using a new util­i­ty for Word­Press called Flick­It. It sim­ply adds a quick­tag to your edi­tor allow­ing to eas­i­ly insert a hyper­linked Flickr image. It’s not per­fect, but works does exact­ly what it claims to and is free (after they got into a lit­tle trou­ble with the com­pa­ny that owns Flickr for charg­ing). Any­way, I men­tion it because I know a lot of my friends use both Word­Press and Flickr and might want an eas­i­er way of get­ting them to play together.