LDAP and Thunderbird

I have an ongoing project dream. Someday, have a fully functional suite of opensource-driven services available to our community that gives, if not the full functionality of something like Exchange, but gives enough so that the users can interract and exchange information cleanly, without having to jump through hoops or pay ridiculous amounts of money or subscribe to proprietary, predatory application suites.

I made another step toward this lofty goal this week.

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primark

Travels

What is it about New Jersey? Here I am, back again, this time for more than just visiting a client. It’s been almost a week since I’ve been home, and it begins to wear. But enough of the that, let’s see what’s been going on.

Ubercon

First of all, there was Ubercon. This is the 8th event I’ve done for them, starting with our snowbound adventures in the beginning of 2003. Many of the original folks who were at that event still come to the con, both as staff and as attendees. It’s settled into a close community of gamers, focusing on what they love most – Gaming. Sure there’s the smattering of costuming, artists, and movies, but the vast majority of the people there are there to play games. Board games, card games, miniatures, LAN games… 24 hrs a day for 3 days, gaming gaming gaming. Ubercon was the first place I ever played Settlers of Catan and Icehouse, was my first exposure to Unreal Tournament, and was the place I first saw Guitar Hero.

All in all the event went fine. With help from blk, we worked all the hours necessary, got at least one nice dinner out, and generally had an enjoyable time. Once again the Myth box was on prominent display, and many games of DigDug, Contra and SmashTV were played. I think there’s a future in making the machine easier to work with – console buttons for coin drops, player starts, and an easier selection mechanism. I would have liked to have left the machine alone and had people come up to play it more often, but alas, it was too prone to twitchy behavior and random joystick resets.

More work

Of course, Ubercon came to an end, and I had to go on to the next reason I’m here. My work for this client is coming along fine, with development proceeding apace. Nothing really riveting to tell here, but when away from the convention and spending a lot of time on my own, I get a chance to think about being here, and to write down some of the things I see…

I present to you my NJ ponderings…

Pizza

What’s that you say? Pizza? Boston has plenty of pizza! What’s your problem? Hah, I say. Boston has a mere shadow of proper cheesey goodness. NJ is home to the thin-crust style pizza. None of the heavy crust, grease laden horrors that populate the Beantown. Here, any pizzaria has decent thincrust pizza. I frequent my favorite spot every day for lunch, trying to get my fill. In my youth, when I lived in Trenton, a certain pizzaria saw me every day or every other day for dinner. I was quite the regular, and gained a reputation for ‘4 slices!’ – after which I’d happily park myself in a booth and read half a book in the space of 2 hours. Such was my social life.

Oddly, when I brought up my pizza fascination with one of the fellows at my clients’ office, he pointed out that Boston does indeed have a source of thincrust pizza. Papa Gino’s. In the interest of full disclosure, I do in fact eat there on occasion, but sadly, it can’t compete with small-shop pizza in the garden state.

Fuddruckers

Only recently did I find out this chain is more widespread than I had realized. Around 1993 I found a Fuddruckers near Edison when I was working for Unipress Software as a sysadmin. We’d make regular forays out for half pound ground beef burgers. Not sure exactly what made them so tasty, but they were sure good eatins. This trip I scheduled my drive from Ubercon down to Princeton to give me time to stop by that particularly restaurant on Route 1, and it was as tasty as I remember it. Delish.

Dunkin Donuts or lack thereof

The great DunkinDonuts epidemic hasn’t quite reached New Jersey yet. This has thrown off much of my morning routine, as given any opportunity, I’ll happily get a DD coffee and a bagel for breakfast (or lunch, or dinner, or a snack or…). In Boston, DDs are like mileposts. You can actually navigate by them (“Yeah, go down 3 DD’s, turn right, up 4 DD’s, and we’re on the left.”) Here? Not so much. I’ve found only one within a 10 mile radius of my hotel, and alas, it’s on the opposite side of the office. Sad.

The dichotomy of the state

New Jersey is a study in contrasts in many ways. Noting that I did in fact grow up here, my view of the state has always been somewhat bucolic. I grew up on a horse farm in a very rural area. Cows, horses, etc were the normal views, and getting around on trailbikes and snowmobiles was the norm. We could wander for miles in streams and woods exploring in any direction, just avoiding houses every once in a while. The first leg of this trip was spent in Secaucus, near Giants Stadium. There are fewer places displaying a harsher contrast against the locale of my youth than Secaucus. Perhaps Elizabeth (those who are familiar with the area will know Elizabeth by it’s high refinery – to – human ratio). After 4 days there, coming down to the Princeton area was a rather dramatic change. Here in Princeton, fall is in full swing. It is cool, breezy, the leaves are bright yellows and oranges, and there’s just a hint of winter coming. Such a contrast to the industrial squalor of Secaucus.

ETS

My arrangements in the Princeton area are usually set up for the Chauncey Conference Center, part of the Educational Testing Service, or ETS. I’m sure not a few readers frowned at the mention of ETS, as this company is the originator of the SATs, the bane of many a high school college-student-hopeful. At the moment, I’m sitting in the Chauncey Conference Center lounge, in front of a lovely fire in a natural stone fireplace, in a large comfortable leather chair. Over the fireplace is a portrait of man in his early 60s, holding a pipe, with a loose, comfortable smile. This man is Henry Chauncey, the founder of ETS way back in the day.

Why is this of note? When my family moved from Long Island to New Jersey when I was about 6, we rented a house in Ringoes, NJ, about 8 miles from here, for a little over a year. During that time, I got to be friends with our neighbor and his family. He had a daughter named Sarah who was just my age, and another daughter. His wife I remember only fleetingly – I know she died around that time from cancer, but I don’t know if it was during the time I was around. The fathers picture now is in front of me above the fireplace.

I spent a lot of time in the Chauncey household – Sarah and I had a lot of fun playing and just enjoying having a friend right next door. Mr. Chauncey (as I knew him) was always kind and had a lovely rolling voice. My memories of him were of a quiet, gentle man with a strong voice and the omnipresent smell of pipesmoke. His office was the epitomal intellectual / businessman’s home office. Heavy panelling, books books books in floor to ceiling shelves, a huge desk with a fantastic leather chair behind it, and of course, his pipes.

One particular memory I have of being at his house was spending time in the fields around the house, riding on this wonderful machine he had. A late 1940’s Ford 8N tractor. My first experience with these wonderful machines was sitting in his lap as he taught me to drive, and told me that keeping my foot on the clutch pedal was a bad idea “Nope, don’t do that, that’s called riding the clutch.”

It’s odd now sitting in front of his painting, enjoying some of what he helped build. I kept in touch with his daughter Sarah off and on over the years, and as I understand it, Mr. Chauncey lived late into his 90s, still active and travelling around the world with his daughter. I understand he finally passed away sometime around 1995.

Computer ads through the ages.

This has been linked to from everywhere, everywhen, but here it is incase you’ve been under a tech-media rock for the last couple days.
PCWorld has put together a great Youtube collection of television computer ads. Some are hysterical, some are pitiful, some are sad. I’m particularly mournful of the loss of the Apple Newton, one of the finest pieces of technology ever designed, IMNSHO.
See the collection…

Join my BOINC team!

I nudge about this occasionally, but here’s a quick reminder.
I have an active team using the BOINC distributed computing system called the Stonekeep General Computing Facilities. It’s a conglomeration of a dozen or so users with a few dozen machines running BOINC. These machines run distributed tasks that range from searching for extraterrestrial signals to analyzing protein structures. Cumulative computation statistics from all the team members are collected by BOINCstats and displayed against other teams around the world.
We’re trying to break into the top 1000 teams among the 52,000 currently registered with BOINCstats. Right now we’re hovering around the 1020-1025 mark:

If you’d like to join, download the BOINC client and join one of the active projects (I recommend Seti@Home (Listen for alien signals!) or Folding@Home (Analyze protein folding to help understand various diseases), or Rosetta@Home, a similar protein analysis project).
Do some good research -and- join a global project, and all you have to do is have a computer turned on.

Ubercon Time!

It’s that time of year again. Next week I’ll be heading down to Ubercon for our bi-yearly gaming geekfest.
I’ve been doing this event from the beginning, and have had a ball every time. Lots of great gaming (card, board, and LAN), and great folks to hang out with. If you like tabletop gaming, LAN gaming, console gaming, or just geek-gaming-hangingout, this is the place to be.
I credit Ubercon for getting me into DDR, Unreal Tournament, and Settlers. It was the first (and in reality only) place I’ve played Guitar Hero.
Hope to see folks there!

How is it possible this man is still trusted?

Congress passed a recent law that stated it was important that whomever gets put into the job administering FEMA had better know what the hell he was doing. To wit:

(Courtesy of ThinkProgress)
Sounds great, right? Nope, says Bush. I disagree, so I’m going to ignore you. From the signing statement :

Section 503(c)(2) vests in the President authority to appoint the Administrator, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, but purports to limit the qualifications of the pool of persons from whom the President may select the appointee in a manner that rules out a large portion of those persons best qualified by experience and knowledge to fill the office. The executive branch shall construe section 503(c)(2) in a manner consistent with the Appointments Clause of the Constitution.

Bush has said, flat out, that laws made by Congress need never be adhered to, need never be followed by the executive branch. In essence, Congress has lost control of the president. This man has to be removed from office. There’s simply no two ways about it. If even the Congress cannot make laws to oversee and limit bad decisions by the commander in chief, then the basics tenets of our government structure have already been destroyed.
The office of the president has only one tool it can use to moderate laws passed by Congress. He can pass them in full, or he can veto them. That is how our constitution is written. He cannot choose to ‘pass them into law’ but choose not to obey them.
Per Article 1 of the Constitution:

Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it.

I am at a loss how to accomplish this removal. Moreover, I am at a loss to understand why any member of our government still supports this man and his actions.

More gloom for Palm, and the X5 Bluetooth Headphones

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I have been looking for writing this review for quite some time. A grand triumph in geeky innovation, platform utilization, and clever use of available technologies. A step forward in mobile communications, entertainment, and convergence in the media, communications, and personal networking space.
Unfortunately, that’s not how it turned out.

Continue reading “More gloom for Palm, and the X5 Bluetooth Headphones”

Gigs.

I’m sore. I hurt. Ow.
Last night the band played a 3 1/2 hour gig in Marlboro. I’m beginning to understand why a lot of musicians, particularly folks who haul their own gear, are in reasonable physical shape.
For my part, I just have my smallish amp, my guitar, and a parts / stuff bag (music, eq pedal, cables, water, etc), so I can pretty much just carry in things in one go. Such is not the case for my bandmates.
Drummer? My gosh. Someone has to come up with a cost effective way of setting up a drum kit at a gig. He had at least a pickup truck full of equipment. Stands, the drums themselves, cymbal cases etc etc. Had to be 300lbs of stuff.
Our keyboardist? 2 keyboards, stand, amp, speaker cabinet, and assorted hardware. Another 250lbs.
And you’d think guitar players would be on the lightweight side. Nope! 2-3 guitars each, pedal layouts, amps, and assorted hardware.
This is leaving aside the PA speakers (60lbs each), monitors (30lbs), amp + monitor amp + 24channel mixer (something ungodly).
Loadin and setup took about 2 hours, teardown and packup took about an hour. Which makes a single gig a good 7 hour affair, not including unpacking the vehicles at home and putting things away until the next event.
And on top of this, I’ve decided I need a bigger bass amp. My little Behringer is just not cutting it for gigs (30w Just Aint Enough). Several people said I was distorting last night (overdriving the amp), but if I backed off, I simply could not be heard. This is with a pre-amping EQ pedal. This of course will mean additional hardware and weight to bring to gigs.
We need a roadie.
(Sideline – in reality, we’re looking for a lead guitarist. Interested in playing lead on classic rock and blues tunes? Think early Clapton, SRV, CCR, Beatles and Stones.) If so, drop me a line.