3:2 is the iPod to Human Ratio

April 4, 2007 Update: I really have no idea why this post was dugg. I’m not the responsible party.

Original Post:
I bought the black 30-gig back in April. Yesterday, the missus and I ran over to the Apple store. I got her the red nano (baby’s first iPod), and scored a Shuffle for me to use in the car.

I prefer to buy music from the iTMS instead of buying the CDs at the local mega-huge retailer. Until now, I’d burn them to CDs so I could listen to them in the car; those CDs would remain in the car a lot longer than necessary, and I’d eventually get sick of my selection… but replacing them required me to find and burn a whole new series of albums to discs. For longer trips, I’d bring along the 30-gig and hook it in via the tape adapter. Going to and from work, however, it’s fairly cumbersome to dig the big one out of my backpack, plug it in, boot it up and start the music for the 5-10 minute drive.

Now, I’ll simply load up the Shuffle, plug it into the tape adapter and leave it be. Turn it on for the trip, turn it off after arrival. Its home is my car. The only reason to remove it will be to recharge it when necessary, or to swap out the music selection.

Blickity-blam. Convenience!

Why I Hate the Flyers

In my “Bet of the Week” post about video hockey and a real-life Caps/Flyers game, The Foof comments:

You don’t even have a good reason to hate the Flyers anymore. Move on. Why you gotta be a hater?

I don’t have a good reason to hate the Flyers anymore?

Well, allow me to retort; in chronological order even.

1. Number Eighty-Eight
Eric Lindros was one of the dirtiest, cry-baby players in NHL history. His presence—alone—was enough to spawn my hatred of the Flyers. He was the seed. Nowadays? He’s a journeyman; no team wants to keep him. Why would they? I mean, shit man, he’s one hard hit away from a sippy-cup and bib.

2. Playoffs #1
At the end of the 95-96 season—their 4th in the league—the Tampa Bay Lightning made the playoffs for the first time in team history. Their first round opponents? The Flyers. The Lightning were up 2 games to 1 before being outright bitchslapped three games in a row to lose the series at the Thunderdome in St. Pete in front of me, my brother, and 28,181 other fans (an NHL attendance record at the time). Growing hatred; no longer tepid.

3. Just the Fax
A couple of years later, right before the 97-98 season began, the Flyers swiped the “cornerstone” of the Lightning franchise in Chris Gratton. They offered him $23 million over five years with a $9 million signing bonus. At the time, Phil Esposito claimed that the faxed offer from Philly was smudged to the point of illegibility, and was therefore not a binding contract. That made all the papers in Tampa, as did the Flyers’ active avoidance of contact with the Lightning’s front office. They were trying to steal our star player, and at all costs. After league arbitration, they got him. Hatred glowing red.

(Two months later, I moved from Tampa to suburban Washington, DC)

4. Relocation Ennui
While actively hating the Flyers, I attended my first game at the old Caps Center on Halloween 1997, just three weeks after my move. The Caps and Flyers tied after regulation and overtime, and I left with that “well that was a waste of three hours” feeling that most hockey fans experience after a tie. While it didn’t specifically add to my ongoing Flyer hatred, it certainly didn’t bode well for my hockey fandom in my new environment.

5. Playoffs #2
In the magical 03-04 season, the Lightning again faced the Flyers in the post-season, this time in the Eastern Conference finals. The stakes were much higher this time around; the only thing that kept the Lightning from their first ever Stanley Cup Final was the fuckin’ Flyers. The series went back-and-forth for seven games, and was one of the most stress-inducing series I’ve ever seen. For much of the Eastern finals, the Flyers outplayed the Lightning, which only made me hate them more and more. Was it envy, jealousy, pride? Don’t know, don’t care; white-hot-hatred… and the Lightning ultimately prevailed. Suck it.

6. Dickhead Fans
Finally, fans of Philadelphia sports teams are notoriously die-hard and loyal. More times than not, with the introduction of beers, this turns them into complete assholes (except for The Foof and her sister). They are some of the rudest motherfuckers on this side of the glass, although snotty, holier-than-vouz fans visiting from Canada are a close second. Asshole fans make the game worse for everyone; when they come out en masse (read: at Flyers’ away games in DC) that only helps peg the gauge of hatred.

I don’t have a good reason to hate the Flyers anymore? Sorry, Foof… you’re a very good friend of mine, but apparently I have five good reasons… #4 above doesn’t really count. And before you tell me “the past is the past, let it go”… you must realize that hockey fans have memories like elephants (or so the saying goes), and we are not at all forgiving.

Hockey is the one thing I deem grudge-worthy.

Overheard in iChat: Part 2

Me: Ooh… Neko Case released a live album.

Me: Now all the hot hipsters will have something to spooge over.

Gregg: I don’t know who that is.

Me: Neither do I.

Me: Hip people love him/her.

Me: Hip people who rank The Decemberists albums at the top of their yearly lists – every year.

Gregg: Oh, the ones I want to kill?

Me: Precisely.

Former Coworker, Alleged Kid-Toucher

Innocent until proven guilty and all that, but the following news (forwarded by my brother) shocked the hell out of me. (Link)

Tampa Man Accused Of Molesting Ohio Teen

TAMPA – A Tampa man was arrested here Tuesday, accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy while on a Christmas vacation in Ohio, police said.

Scott Anthony Ronan, 43, of 3813 W. El Prado Blvd., was being held at Orient Road Jail without bail on an Ohio arrest warrant.

Tampa detectives arrested Ronan at his job at GunnAllen Financial, a brokerage and investment banking company at 5002 W. Waters Ave., according to jail records. He is charged with gross sexual imposition, which is comparable to a lewd and lascivious charge in Florida, Tampa police said.

I used to work with Tony back when I lived in Tampa. He joined our crew at countless hockey games at the old Thunderdome, as well as the Ice Palace, and we all shared many Halloween parties together. If I was asked to be a character witness—after not having regular contact with him for over nine years—I’d have to testify that there’s no way I could imagine him doing anything like this.

On the other hand… you never know…

I removed Tony’s booking photo from this post; I thought it was in bad taste.

Bet of the Week

With the 41-14 drubbing issued by the national champion Florida Gators, yours truly will enjoy unlimited control of the 42” plasma for the purposes of NHL ‘07 on the Playstation2 until midnight on Friday… with no spousal retribution or repercussions.

For those of you playing along at home, the Washington Capitals are currently undefeated 13-0 in an abbreviated 29-game season with penalties and offsides turned on. Don’t be a hater, or I will score all over your shit and have your starting goalie pulled in the 1st. Trust.

The ongoing fantasy will have to wait, however, as tonight represents the resurrection of a long-lost tradition: The Foof and I are going into the city to see the Flyers (who suck) take on the real-life Caps… who aren’t sucking as badly as everyone thought they would.

The Flyers, however, are in the process of redefining the word suck, as they are the worst team in the NHL.

It’s about goddamned time.

Overheard in iChat

Gregg: I thought the bulk [of Hispanic immigrants] around NoVA was Salvadoran (hence the MS-13 hysteria).

Me: (shrugging) I suppose.

Me: But you don’t hear about MH-13 from Honduras because it doesn’t exist, and is therefore useless in the main stream media / Bush Administration plot to scare the living shit out of white America.

Gregg: I’m keeping my eye on you for the good of the country. You might try that reconquista shit at any moment.

Me: Good tack.

Me: You never know when I’m gonna’ snap and start channeling the Pancho Villa action.

Gregg: One minute you’re watching hockey, and the next thing you know, boom.

Me: Beans everywhere.

Minor liberties were taken with the actual iChat transcript for presentation purposes.

Profoundly Mystified (or WTF?)

Last night… ten minutes before 6pm… ten minutes before quittin’ time… on a Friday before a 3-day weekend… on the Friday before New Year’s…

The router died.

A quick primer on our network… in layman’s terms.

We have three separate internal networks, with varying degrees of access to the Internet. In the middle of all this—the most critical computer in our office—is the router. Take a look:
I say it’s the most important piece of equipment on our network, because without the router, none of the computers on separate Nets would be able to communicate with each other, and nobody would have Internet access.

All network traffic travels through the router. When the router dies, everything on the network “is broken” (for the most part).

As important as it is, however, the router itself is really a quite simple machine. It’s a regular computer with no hard drive; it boots from a Linux CD-ROM; it loads its configuration from a floppy disk; it runs by itself until something goes wrong. It should be noted at this point that I neither built nor configured the router.

Last night… wouldn’t boot. I wondered what the problem could be. The CD-ROM disc is quite scratched… could that be it? Maybe it’s a hardware failure… is the CD-ROM drive flaking out?

Today, the CD-ROM loads up fine on any other machine, so I crack open the router in order to test (and possibly swap) the CD-ROM drive. Lo and fucking behold:
See that writing? Here’s a close-up:
Why in the hell would anyone put a possibly-dead-or-dying CD-ROM drive… that obviously began acting in a suspect manner in November, 2004… into a machine this critical?

Sure, it was an easy fix… but fuck me sideways… I’m baffled.

A Provisional Anti-Apple Rant

What the fuck is going on with Apple’s aluminum-case G4 Powerbooks? I’ll tell you what: they’re dropping like flies, and it’s pissing me off.

Work bought a slew of them back in ‘03 for our project engineers; this was after the “Massive Mac Migration ™” whereby the majority of the Windows and Next machines were purged from the network in deference to Apple products, much to my delight.

Over a recent ten-day time-span, five of these Powerbooks had complete, utter, and fatal hard disk failures. All names have been changed to protect my co-workers’ identities.

The OfficeCrackwhore was first; his shit took a header, but—fortuitously—after letting it cool down, he was able to mount the dying HDD and transfer all of his shit to an emergency Powerbook that I gave him. There were horrible noises coming from the disk drive.

Next, was NewKid; he came to my office asking “What does the blue screen of death mean when it happens on a Mac?”. His Powerbook was completely fucked. It wouldn’t even make the startup chime. Also, constant “clicks of death” from the HDD.

Then came HungarianNavyGuy; his Powerbook was just as fucked as NewKid’s. At that point, I put out the A.P.B. to all at work who had these devil-spawn laptops saying “backup everything, backup now, backup ASAFP… and, by the way, you’re pretty much screwed if you never had me install the email backup script on your shit like I offered”.

Fourth came PoshSpice; he approached me in the common area near the couches at the same time I was discussing the burgeoning Mac plague with one of the owners. “Hey Gary, my laptop won’t start up.” Fuck! Luckily, he had the good backup action.

Finally, having spoken with PoshSpice about his dismal situation last Friday, GolfFreak was good and paranoid about the data on his POS-G4-PB and started backing up all his shit on Saturday. During the backup process… guess what happened? Yup. His shit self-destructed; luckily (again) he was one of the Blessed who had let me install my kickass backup script on his machine.

There haven’t been any new deaths since Monday. I have an idea why this is happening.

Apple conducted (is conducting?) a laptop battery replacement program because some of the batteries shipped with Powerbooks of this very model have a tendency to run too hot, and—yes—have a risk of catching fire. I wasn’t in town when the announcement came out (either honeymoon or grandmother’s funeral), so communicated back to the office that people would be responsible for checking the status of their own shit and sending things back to Apple as required. This is why I cannot be certain that all five of these boat anchors had overheating batteries.

But what I know for sure is that these Powerbook G4s run hotter than Satan’s cock. I cannot bear to touch the aluminum case directly to the left of the touch-pad (directly over the power supply) during my resuscitation efforts. Hot hot hot. New battery or not, Apple made a critical design flaw by putting the battery and power supply so close to the disk drive, and making the aluminum case of these laptops part of the heat-sink.

Due to the mass extinction currently in progress, I can only conclude that the perpetual high-temp environment that the cheap-ass HDDs that Apple installed in this particular model—while possibly not exceeding the operational temperature tolerance of the drive—has had an ongoing deleterious effect on the drive assembly itself. Shits run hot, hard disks fail en masse.

I know for a fact that OfficeCrackwhore exchanged his battery for a new (flame-retardant?) one. Free new battery? Sweet! How’d that work? Fucked laptop!

I don’t think I have the pocket scratch to pay for a class-action against Apple… but keep your eyes open and let me know if some other rich motherfucker has the balls to stick it to Steve and the boys…

I’ll get us on board.

An Actual Victory Lap

After I finished the previously-lamented server and code migration, there remained a couple of applications that I didn’t bother to transfer, because I’m the only one that uses them. Plus, it would have delayed “going live” with the new server, and prolonged my co-workers’ collective suffering.

One of these apps was a news feed generator for work’s press releases. If you’re not familiar with RSS or XML or news feeds, I’ve written about them extensively in the past; maybe those will help?

Anyway, that app was a quick-and-dirty effort that served only to cut in half the amount of copying/pasting I had to do. Instead of copying/pasting the individual pieces of text (the article’s title, its URL on the web, etc.) into the proper locations between the XML tags in the text file, I only had to copy/paste the relevant chunks of text into a web-form. The app would spit out a little snippet of XML text and display it on my browser, which I’d then copy/paste into the text file, and upload it to our web server.

It was convenient for a while… but it really didn’t automate anything. So it quickly earned the reviled “This Really Sucks!” badge.

I previously wrote some code that would build news feeds from the content of various websites. The Feeds of Fury—which list upcoming concerts in the D.C. area—are just the latest examples. The process is simple enough:

  1. Go get the HTML text used to build a web page.
  2. Analyze the structure of that text.
  3. Pick out the relevant bits.
  4. Drop them in the appropriate places inside an XML text document.

So, I wondered, why wasn’t I doing the same thing for the work press release news feeds? All the necessary information already exists on the web, so why couldn’t I just build a couple of tidy XML text files from it? Sick of myself whining and bitching about it, I sac’d up and finally wrote the fuckin’ code.

Using Leonard Richardson’s spiffy “Beautiful Soup” Python module to help with the HTML parsing, here’s what my new shit does:

  1. It snags the HTML text of the web page where I list all of work’s press releases.
  2. From that, it gleans the dates, titles, and web URLs of the latest 12 press releases.
  3. Then, it snags the HTML text of each of the 12 web pages which contain the full content of the press releases.
  4. From those, it gets the first paragraph of each article and strips out all the HTML markup code; this will serve as the “summary” for the news feed.
  5. Then, it extracts the full text of the press releases—complete with HTML—which it then modifies slightly to make sure everything is valid XML.
  6. Next, it constructs each story’s entry using all the previously-extracted chunks of text.
  7. Finally, it spits out the two XML news feeds (both of which validate against the standard) to the proper place on my machine, which I then synchronize with our public web server.

Bickity-bam; fully automated without a single copy/paste operation.

Four Reasons why the Bolts Ultimately Sucked Ass Tonight

The Washington Capitals beat the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 5-2 tonight.

Here’s what happened:

1. The Lightning were dominant for the overwhelming majority of the game.
At times, they looked like the goddamned Keystone Kops, but they spent a hell of a lot more time in the attacking zone than on defense. But they just couldn’t get shit done.

2. Olie Kolzig saved 48 out of 50.
This proved to be the game-winning element for the Caps. I mean… c’mon… your goaltender makes 48 saves in a single game and you don’t win?

3. The Bolts went jackshit-for-seven on the powerplay.
This proved to be the 2nd most important game-winning element for the Caps. Normally… when the Caps are sucking taint on the powerplay, I’m yelling, “COME ON GUYS, THIS ISN’T A TAMPA BAY FLOWERPLAY!”… and this is exactly why.

4. The Caps played sporadically, but scored when it counted.
This proves that the Caps got lucky on some crazy Lightning fuck-ups. “Lightning fuck-ups” are the operative words here. Aside from Kolzig’s outplaying [name your favorite Lightning goalie], the Bolts just weren’t clearing the crease or kicking any ass like the Caps were tonight.

As a Caps fan, I’m thrilled they got out of their slump. Semin’s goal was phenomenal… better than anything Ovechkin did on the ice tonight, IMHO.

As a Lightning fan, I’m ashamed for my brethren.