The New Years Party was fun. I had about 25 people over. I made t-shirts for the occasion (with David's help) that I gave away just before midnight. Everyone kindly put them on, and I took some pictures. Chip is now 11 years old. Last week while Azul was closed for the holidays, I built him a new cat scratching post. Here's pictures of them all.
I fixed a bug on the Overview page. I found it when I generated the last entry, which was on the 31st of the month. The table was messed up for months that don't have 31 days. This is because I used the
java.util.Calendar class; when you get an instance of it, it is based upon 'today'. Then I was just changing the month, so it was eventually February 31st, which is in March, if you think about it, which is just how the table was messed up.
I've also done work to make the
CSS class names smaller by generating the
CSS file when the site is built. So now my
CSS class names are single characters long. Why did I do this? Because the average decrease in the size of each of my generated web site files was 9.9%! The largest decrease was 18.2%, the smallest 1.6%. This means my bandwidth goes down, and the files load faster in the browser. #
The big news in my life is that I'm changing jobs again. I'm going to be working at Blurb on the client application, BookSmart. It's used for people design their books that are then printed by Blurb into fine books. It's going to be fun to be back in the consumer space. It's a java client application, so I still get to use my Mac. A big bonus about the job is that it is in San Francisco, making my daily round trip commute a visually engaging 35 minutes (versus the nearly 3 hours! spend going to Mountain View). They are located downtown, near Chinatown and North Beach. By bike, it is about 2 miles from my house. I start at the end of the month. Fun fact about this job: I found it on Craigslist!
"The Killer Elite" is a Sam Peckinpah film filmed in the Bay Area. It's a pretty good movie. It's interesting because I hadn't ever heard of it as being shot in San Francisco. There's old shots of the Embarcadero Freeway (lost in 1989) and more ghost ships in Suisun Bay than I remember (Wikipedia says they were sold for scrap to Japan). There's also strange continuity problems, just like in 'Bullitt'. While driving they go from North Beach to somewhere around Potrero Hill in just moments. In another scene, one character is on the hill in Marin over looking the Golden Gate Bridge shooting a shotgun at clay pigeons. Somehow I doubt that was ever permitted. I've been watching lots of Pekinpah films lately and really liking them. I've been a on a big Pekinpah kick lately. Be sure to check out "Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia."
There was a problem with my program that calculated the number of days I took the train to work. It miscounted some vacation and work at home days. It seems that how well or just how iCal followed the vCalendar specification has changed while I've used it. Some 'all day' events had a
DTEND fields, while some have
DURATION instead of
DTEND. I've corrected the old listing. I'll be putting up a final Azul listing after my last day there.
I recently did a vanity Google search again, and found something I hadn't seen before. This one is interesting: Thelma Jean Bolsinga is buried in East Texas. She passed in 2003. I'm not sure if (or how) I'm related to her. I have to ask some family. #
I've never done this, but how about a best albums of 2006? I only got slightly more than 10 2006 albums in 2006, so this is a top 6 list. I like the rest, just not enough to list them.
This draws me in with every listen. It's so ambitious and it works. If you haven't heard this, listen to it. It seems to me that some things I read about it seem to indicate people are put off by things inconsequential to the music. Please give it a chance. She's only 24, so I can't wait to see what is to come. I still regularly get emotional when I hear parts of this record.
A huge rocking sound from The Flaming Lips
He writes great songs to match his unusual voice.
This once again gets two great song writers together with a great drummer. I wish they toured.
Yesterday was my last day at Azul. My plan for my time off is to do house stuff, hobby stuff, and perhaps more while I have some free time.
I just watched "Eraserhead" for the first time in probably around 20 years. It's so much better than I remember. On the DVD the interview with David Lynch was extremely entertaining as well. All of the sounds in the film reminded me of the soundtrack to the CD ROM game Myst. They both give this feeling of emptiness through sound. #
I went to New York City last weekend on the spur of the moment with my time off between jobs. I saw a few old friends and had a great time. I also went to a few museums. Somehow I had never made it to the Museum of Modern Art when I was there before! Much like The Art Institute of Chicago, it has many pieces you've seen before. At night they are showing about 5 films projected onto the outside of the museum itself in about 8 places, called "sleepwalkers" by Doug Aitken. This was one of those pretty damn cool seemingly only in New York type of things. I'll be putting up some pictures soon.
I've done some more tweaking to my web generating program. I've basically been doing the equivalent of rearranging the furniture. Everything should work the same, but it just does things differently. The idea is that I can get all of the layout code into one place, change it, and the whole website can look different. I've also eliminated a few instance variables, re-factoring them into local variables. This way more threads can operate on the same object instance safely without locks. This is still a work in progress. Also in the last release there was a bug where shows weren't sorted properly on the date pages. #
A few belated iPhone comments. There's been a lot of play on the Internet about how the iPhone is closed and won't have java. According to CEO Steve Jobs, "Java's not worth building in. Nobody uses Java anymore. It's this big heavyweight ball and chain." I think he's correct, and I've been working with java for about 10 years now. I believe he's talking about the iPhone here, not Mac OS X. If you need to write a cross platform GUI application, java is one way to go. If you need a league of programmers who already know java, since your server program is already written with it, stick with java. There is no lack of programmers who know some java.
Despite the java on the cellphone via J2ME from Sun, I've never installed a program (java or not) on my cellphone. I just want my cell phone to work. And every cell phone I've used has had software that sucked. I've never found my iPod lacking any software to make it a full product. I think Apple is hoping to replicate the iPod experience on the iPhone, meaning they control it. I think there's multiple reasons they want to do this. Number 1: there's nothing to mess up the 'perfect' phone. Number 2: Apple seems to own ALL of the software on the iPhone. They own OS X and WebKit. I'm going to presume playback is some Quicktime variant. If they also had Java, they'd have to pay a license. Flash, pay a license. Usually these fees are PER UNIT sold. Would java really be worth it to Apple as the most expensive software on the iPhone? As it seems to stand right now, Apple will make more in margins per phone without third party software than with it. If the iPhone proves to be the juggernaut it seems to be, then maybe the third party software can somehow get onto the iPhone, but only with Apple's blessing and approval, and a low ball price. Apple seems to already have a potential big hit here without Java and Flash. Why reduce Apple's profit and control by adding them in? Why possibly adversely affect an already 'hit' product?
As with the iPod, if you want to write software for the iPhone, it looks to be simple. Get a job at Apple. It's a fun place to work!
I'm also surprised that I haven't seen anyone mention that the iPhone may be the iPod killer. Remember how when the iPod nano came out that there were no more iPods minis? The iPod mini was a huge hit, and Apple got rid of it cold turkey as soon as the iPod nano came out. I know that if I had an iPhone now, I wouldn't use an iPod anymore. I don't need weeks upon weeks of songs in my pocket. Just days. #
Much of the huge re-factoring effort for the program that generates this site is complete. I'd estimate there's about 5% to go. I've also introduced much better error handling to the code. This makes this program almost professional grade! Strangely enough, the main page of the site is the most complex to generate, and that's where the 5% of work remains. After that is complete, I'm going to abstract away from the rest of the program the fact that the data currently comes from
XML files via
JAXB. This way if I ever have a different data store, the rest of the program won't have to know, nor will it be tied to
Great article about how an issue like diet is described can wind up affecting how it is shaped. It's written so well it also contains the line "silence of the yams." It's worth your time to read this one.
Van Halen is going to play the only way they ought to: with David Lee Roth. Unfortunately, I still won't get to see the real deal; bassist Michael Anthony is being replaced by Eddie Van Halen's 15 year old son. So if get to see them play, it still won't be the real deal, but it'll be fun.
I saw the Queen Mary 2 leave San Francisco the other day. I walked down to Pier 27 after work to check it out. It was gigantic. It was something to see an object so big move slowly out of dock. I wish I got a recording of its horn blast as it left. Interesting note: I saw a diver get out of the water at the bow before they cast off.
There was actual Thunder! in San Francisco tonight! This happens so rarely that I thought I had to mention it here.
So Blurb has been great so far. I feel like my life is about 90% full nowadays, and it sure didn't feel that way before. I also find that I need to find new interesting things to fill that extra time. I'm soon going to be completing a bike that I got from Aram. It needs some more work, which will all be new to me. Also on the Blurb front, I've taken the Cable Car to work and lunch already. I'm pretty sure not many other people can say that.
I have some very belated thoughts on "Thoughts on Music." As usual, Daring Fireball has a nice piece about it. I particularly like when he mentions "a vested interest in the status quo". This is spot-on. It would be somewhat interesting if Microsoft or Sony said this, but they don't really carry much weight with online media nowadays. The fact that the dominant and profitable market leader is saying that how things stand isn't great, is unusual, to say the least. It wasn't but about 8 years ago that the consensus was that Microsoft was going to control everything digital. Sony was delivering their always hated Memory Sticks to try to counter the 800 pound gorilla. Then Apple came along and soon had the dominant market position. Apple makes more with the iPod than the online music store. It seems to me that Apple is basically indicating that they believe they can continue to win on an even playing field. I can see no scenario where Microsoft or Sony would ever even consider such an idea. I don't know how it will play out, but the act of saying this is a very good first step. The only valid criticism I have read is that Apple sells movies on iTunes, and that isn't mentioned in the article.
Also check out the very cool iConcertCal. It looks at the artists in your iTunes, and displays a calendar of when they are playing in your city! I wish I had more time to implement something like that for my web site! #
I've made two cool improvements to this program. First off, I'll explain some background. This program evolves organically, like most software does. By this I mean that you have a good idea going, and then something else comes along that you want to add. In my case, I had a list of shows I've seen, and then I realized that iTunes has all the data about all the music I've ripped. I've since ripped every CD I have to get even more data. The problem is that it was pretty much shoe-horned into my site program. I think it wound up working quite well, but there were two holes. First, my site program has the concept of related items. For example, Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr. are related. Because I have never seen Lou Barlow play live solo, I couldn't add Lou Barlow to this list due to the constraints of my site program. I've removed this constraint. You'll see more relations here as I find and add them. Secondly, for shows I've seen, David Byrne would sort under the letter 'B'. However, because I have never seen Brian Eno live, he would sort under 'B' as well. Apple added the 'Sort Name' key to iTunes 7.1. As I add this data to my iTunes, now my site program will use it. This may find some cool linkages. #
Aram put up a post on his blog (complete with a real link! Kudos, Aram!) about our bike ride last Sunday. Aram mostly built out yet another bike for me from his multitudes of bike parts. I had fun and finished it up in my basement. It's a Trek carbon and aluminum framed bike with 12 gears. We went on a 45 mile bike ride in the Marin headlands, just east of Point Reyes. It was a beautiful day and a great ride. I wish that I could have made it without too much pain, but since it was my first long ride in years, I'm OK with that.
I have lots of pictures yet to put up from the last couple of months. However for today I will show you small pictures of myself conquering all my co-workers who dared at Guitar Hero from the Blurb blog. That was the party for the 'Black Sabbath' release of BookSmart, aka version 1.7.0, 1.7.1, and 1.7.2. Speaking of Blurb, my friend Rebekah was just hired by Blurb as a designer. Dyno-mite!
Here's an awesome article about the Google shuttle. You see these things all the time in San Francisco, and when I worked at Azul, I WAS SO JEALOUS. But now my commute takes me 13 minutes by bike, so forget about it. Nice buses, see you at home.
In case you don't already know, I'm cool (or old, however you look at it). I confidently state this because I've listened to The Stooges since about 1987, when they were only about 14 years gone. I actually think I found them because Sisters of Mercy did a cover of "1969" too. So I'm a cool dork. I think it was pre-Bowie infatuation as well, but really close. Anyways, right now it's 20 years away again. Anyways they are also having a reunion (I know I'm old when I care about reunion tours, in spite of Genesis). This article about them is incredible, but not as incredible as the accompaning video. You can see Steve Albini and Iggy while working in a hilarious off the cuff conversation. I just bought the new record last night. I'm prepared to say it's fine, and even has some great songs. Iggy actually swears on the record, which sounds strange since in The Stooges he'd usually just make a swallowing the microphone sound when he wanted to swear. But contrary to the Pitchfork review (which I won't link to since it sucks), I find the subject matter to be typical Stooges. Tell me that "Search and Destroy" isn't about the Vietnam War and veterans. Fools. I wrote a freaking paper in college about that song (and got a 'C'). I also took bowling in college. Yet more proof I'm a dork.
Remember how I've mentioned here that my neighbor doesn't like Chip? Now it stinks more, literally. Since then the neighbor has threatened to sue me. Then the other night he comes over to tell me he'll trap Chip if Chip is on his property. Then just before the bike ride I mention above, after Chip was out on my property for a bit, I find some stinky substance on my back stairs, more likely than not courtesy of my neighbor. I believe this because as I was examining the substance after I had just brought Chip in, I heard a cellphone from around the neighbor's corner, as well as a quick peek from there while I was cleaning up the mess. Here's to the urban environment! #
Here's how life in the Lower Haight can be. This morning I woke up, went downstairs, and opened the living room window shutter. I see some dirt on the sidewalk by our tree cutouts. I lean forward to see what's up, and I see many of our plants scattered about. So I step out front to see what is up. Just about all the planters up and down Laussat have been 'weeded'; the problems is that they weren't weeds. David & Brandi said they were only gone about an hour the evening before when they came back and saw it. It must have happened after I got back around 7:30. The nut pulled up some jade plants down the street too. Reminds me of a story that David tells. He was down the street on Webster, and some guy is ripping a small tree out of the ground. David asks what he's doing, and the guy says "I'm a horticulturist".
I read the web less often lately, so by the time I've read something, I don't really have much to add. I think that's both good and bad. #
Yesterday and today were warm ones here in San Francisco. It was so warm last night that I slept: with the windows open, with no blanket, and with the ceiling fan going. I can safely say that's probably the third time in 7 years here that's happened. With the nice weather on Sunday, I went on a nice roughly 32 mile round trip bike ride to Tiburon and back. I did it in about 3 hours. It felt great. #
Dennis Waldvogel visited for a long weekend from Brooklyn.
On Friday we hiked the Estero Trail in Point Reyes to Drake's Head. A part of the trail was a bridge over what I'll call a slough. We looked down, not for a minute, and saw a leopard shark swim right underneath us! It was about 4 feet long. Once we got to the cliff by we saw countless sharks (both leopard sharks and one that was all gray with a wider head about the same size) and countless bat rays. After being amazed with this for awhile a large group of harbor seals swam by us and around the cliff. We ran down to a lower part to get a closer look at them, and they were looking right back at us. Reading about the trail online now, I see that these are the expected highlights of the hike. However Dennis picked this one randomly while we were driving in, so we were both pleasantly surprised. This was one of the better hikes I think I've taken!
On Saturday we played Disc Golf at the new course in Golden Gate Park with my neighbor David. It's apparently a new course, and I actually had a good time, no matter how terrible I was. It's 18 baskets, and they are all about a hilly forest in the park. Later that night we went to see a great The Arcade Fire show at the Greek Theatre.
On Sunday at Michelle's great suggestion, we hiked Muir Woods to then hang out in the woods and drink beer. We got home and decided to make ourselves comatose by eating a Little Star Pizza. We had a great weekend. #
Apple announced this week that the iPhone 'SDK' will be Web 2.0 applications. It seems that some developers are disappointed with this news. All I can do is point them to my earlier entry about the iPhone, in particular the third paragraph. All of that was pure speculation. #
So my big news is that I'm going to go back to work at Apple. I'm going to work on software for a consumer electronics device you may have heard of recently. My guess is that I won't be able to talk about many details once I know them, so please don't ask. I start on June 25th. I think it's going to be a big opportunity for my career. It was a hard decision to make, but the right one for me. Blurb is a fun and great place to work that more people are using every day to create great books. My new job by all accounts will let me take my technical experience and knowledge to more devices and more people than before. #
I put new speakers into my 1993 Ford Escort Wagon. The original speaker cones were ripped to shreds, so it's surprising they made recognizable sounds at all. The commute to Cupertino is better than the one to Mountain View. This is because you generally keep moving, and it's scenic. Ideally I'd like to get a car pool going again, and having a pleasant listening experience will help. My car has 187,000 miles on it and still runs well. My hope is to drive it into the ground; it will be cheaper and more environmentally friendly than buying a whole new car. I'll mix it up with the classic CalTrain experience as well.
I've been busy. I still haven't found the perfect commute time to get down to Apple. This has been messing up my days, but I will get it straightened out. I found out my neighbor 2 doors down also commutes to Apple in Cupertino, so I will have a close-by car pool starting this week. My work has been interesting is about all I can say. The iPhone sure looks like a success, however!
Graham visited from Austin, TX over the 4th of July weekend. I had told him to bring warm clothes, and then the weather wasn't too cold. It has been cold in the city since he's left, however. We hiked in Marin, and ate & drank well.
Since my last post, I went on the Tour de Krispy Kreme to celebrate Salim moving from San Francisco to Manhattan. He combined two of his favorites, donuts and bicycling. We rode 71 miles total from Krispy Kreme to Krispy Kreme. We started in San Francisco, headed to Daly City, along the Bay to Mountain View, and lastly over the Dumbarton Bridge to Union City. At each stop, we had donuts and coffee. We BART'd home, and I felt great physically except for the sunburn I'm still nursing two weeks later. My excuse is we started in fog, but 10 hours outdoors will get anyone without sunblock. #
Damn, it's been awhile since I've updated. I think it's because I'm interested in work lately, and I can't write about that, except what has already happened. So the iPhone update that came out recently has a very small amount of my work in it. Enjoy!
What else do I usually write about? I think I'm numb to the travesty that is our current government. It seems that those involved are more interested in jockeying for position than fixing the problems we all have now. It's such a shame and a waste. #
My parents visited last weekend. We went down to Half Moon Bay, and on Sunday we saw the last performance in Stern Grove for the season. It was the San Francisco Opera playing selections. It was a beautiful day for it as well.
My brother Mike worked on a mural on a viaduct in Chicago. You can see a photo of his work, which used images from some of my favorite of my brother's pieces. I think the originals are on cardboard that would back Ikea-like shelving!
I like writing here, but I usually feel rushed. It's a self-imposed rush. This bugs me. I really have to make my program 'simpler' to update the site.
In other program news, Smog is related to (Smog) is related to Bill Callahan. My program had a hell of a time with (Smog). In addition, items whose name start with diacritical marks will sort in the same location as the word with the diacritical mark stripped. Today's contest is for you to find that single artist on my site who was affected by this bug. #
Hah! I looked back at old entries, and I've been saying I want to get the program that generates my web site into a 1 stage process, and to have a UI for editing it from the very beginning of having this program written in java, nearly 4 years ago. Too bad I don't have a schedule, or I'd be done by now. #
I switched my computer over to Leopard. It sure seems snappier to me. I like the FrontRow on it. I like QuickLooks in the Finder (when I need to use them). I'm sure I'll find more things as I live on it longer.
Apple now provides a shuttle bus that drives me to and from work. It has wireless as well. I walk about 10 minutes from my house to pick it up. This makes me a much happier person. I know this because while working at Azul and Blurb, I drove infrequently (well not at all with Blurb), but even carpooling to Apple made me tense and angry.
I've been making some good progress on simplifying how I run this program, but it isn't in this build yet. I'm sure you're all on the edge of your seats. #
I know it's cliche, but old movies are better than new movies. I just watched "The Hustler." It's stellar, and George C. Scott, who I didn't even know was in this movie, was awesome. I absolutely loved the music in this film as well. I can't believe it took me so long to see such a great film. I don't think it helps that the previous movie I watched was "Talladega Nights." Ugh. #
Last weekend I went to Rockridge in Oakland to see my friend Bek. We went to dinner at Zachary's Pizza. I can unequivocally say that Little Star Pizza is better than Zachary's. If you're not from the area, both of these places have Chicago-style deep dish pizza. However they both have a California twist, in that the ingredients are super fresh, just like all food out here. Zachary's crust really disappointed me. Zachary's is also a mad-house. Little Star can be a mad-house too, but it's better at it somehow. You know, when I grew up in Chicago I think I hardly had deep dish pizza. We'd get Jake's thin crust delivered. It's greasy, covered with cheese, and cut into 2 inch squares. I don't think I appreciated Chicago style deep dish until I got to Champaign, where I enjoyed Papa Del's and Garcia's. Of course I also really dug Grog's Pizza. First off you could get two 10 inch cheese pizzas delivered to your door for $3.99. Second I was a delivery guy for them for a bit during school. #
I've been meaning to write about this for some time. The McSweeney's folks now put out a regular DVD release called Wholphin. It is quite good. As a bonus for a few releases they added a three part BBC series called "The Power of Nightmares." I wholeheartedly recommend that everyone reading this go watch this series. I'll lend you the DVDs if you want. What I took away is that the principals involved in the big conflagration of our day are each making their point and gaining backing only by saying how evil the other side is. They both aren't saying "we will make the world a better place," they are saying "they will make the world a worse place." They are using the power of nightmares, instead of the power of dreams. During the time I was watching this at home, this article was published in the New York Times that dovetails with this premise. #
Work has been busy as hell lately, but also fun and challenging as hell. It feels really good to be back in this place, not just at Apple, but a place where I feel I have a challenge and a direction to set. I had left Apple in 2004 because I was tired of the challenges I had to face then. Lots of petty stuff had built up, not anything related to actual technology. So I looked elsewhere, and in the end, I didn't really find anything that struck me. In fact, there were times I was bored out of my skull, wondering why I was even showing up. This time around at Apple it seems that the types of challenges I'm having are the good kinds. I'll have to tell you about them once they ship!
One thing I'm concerned about with enjoying my work (and there's lots of work to enjoy) is that I'm going to skew my life again. So I have to get a hobby that doesn't involve programming my web site. I haven't been inspired to go in the basement and build anything lately. Perhaps I haven't needed anything built in the last year. (Notice how that hobby coincided with a certain job in Mountain View?) So I'm thinking of new hobbies, especially ones that involve meeting new people here in San Francisco. I want to make things, be it food, stuff, or music. I have to narrow it down.
Apple was nice and gave us all of Thanksgiving week off. So I hopped on a plane to Chicago. Besides the Touch and Go Anniversary show late last year, I hadn't been back in just about 2 years. So I hadn't seen anyone since I was drunk at a rock show! And the only family there was Mike. So I booked my time while there solid, staying up too late with cousins, friends, and family, and getting up early to do some more. I had a blast. My friend Dennis had a party where I think about 40 or so people I know and love from Chicago were there. Damn I miss those people, but I just do not miss Chicago. I used to, but not anymore.
However with all this work and a solid vacation and the damn plane rides, I now have a nasty cold. I'm stuck inside on what looks like a gorgeous winter in San Francisco day. This means it is blue sky bright as can be and 52 degrees. This is a large reason why I can't miss Chicago. #
I've updated the program that creates this web site. Instead of reading strangely delimited text files, converting them to well-formed
XML files, and then running again, reading the
XML files and writing out the
HTML files, it now will just read the oddly delimited text files and create the
HTML files in one run. It can still read and write the
XML files, but it doesn't have to anymore. This allows me to add different backing stores for the data, such as databases or JSON files.
I went to back up my computer today, and I realized it was the first time I had done it with Leopard. Here's the differences I found:
ps -wwwauxdoesn't like the
launchdis preferred over