Kindle-ing without the Kindle

I love to read. I tend to travel even here in the good ole US every month. In July I am heading up to Portland, Oregon on the AMTRAK. In August, I fly to Boston and then back on the train from Boston all the way to California with stops in Chicago, Denver, and Reno. By far the best time I spend is reading when I cannot judge the passing scenery. Reading is a escape for me; but carrying pounds of books is not. When I used to travel internationally, I would carry three books. Then I bought my 3g Kindle. The Kindle thing has changed my reading habits in so many ways. Truth be told there are choices. I could have done the Nook thing from Barnes and Noble or the Sony reader.

But all that has gotten to be less of an issue now with the release of the Kindle reader on Android. Now things like travel or tour books like Lonely Planet can be reviewed on my NexusOne or my Archos Android tablet. Its so easy and effortless now to travel and do the walking tours I love to do. Tokyo especially is my city of walking. I love seeing the places in that huge city of cities. Before though I lugged around the kindle and worried about it. Now I can download the tour guide I want and carry just my Archos tablet and have music, photos, books. Wow!

Reading has just become even easier. The android app also lets you buy books right from the phone or tablet. Very nice work.

We’ve all heard of convergence devices where a number of uses come together. Applications like Kindle for Android extend and enhance our use of the written word and make it extensible and worthy of use.

Thanks google for android and i mean it! You have upped the ante of my enjoyment of the entire phone thing to a level of hackery, kernel downloading, ROM installations, themes. Its all cool. Then when you add some good applications which may seem simple but that do the rest. Wow! You have this platform that is converging.

This makes tablet computers that much more useful be they iPad or my preferred green robot OS.

Powershell, CMD, Bash

You know how you get used to typing things in a certain way? Like if you are a Linux guy, you tend to use commands like “ls” or “df” or “free”. You also can do some nifty things like CTRL-R and get access to a bunch of the previous commands. Very helpful. Finally, the greatest one is command completions. This has to be a labor savings device but yet its so simple. On Windows 7, I have used the command shell or CMD. Then I used Powershell. CMD is too simple. Powershell is something else. I don’t understand actually why they wrote it when they could have just included BASH style support in Windows. Its a POSIX standard right? I would have bundled an RXVT like terminal much like what I get now.

I can hear folks. Why go to all the work to install cygwin, hack on an rxvt terminal when Windows 7 ships with Powershell? There are at least three reasons. One is familiarity. I grok the Bash thing much better and I can edit a simple file like .bashrc and make it do different things. Second is I get a few other tools by bending Cygwin to my will. Tools like ssh, rsync. These are significant to my everyday computing and makes this Windows 7 toy more like a grown up OS. Third is; lets face it. The Windows CMD terminal sucks. It always has. Then Monash or Powershell or whatever came along. I don’t get it. Back to number 1 I guess. Familiarity. Anyways, now on my Windows 7 laptop, I have access to these tools that I sorely miss on Windows and its easy to get things going. If you want to see how to bend RXVT to your every will and desire, check
this page out. It does it all and some more.

I also get a full-bodied terminal shell environment from which to manage/mangle directories and files, run windows programs, etc. You can type into rxvt names of Windows programs and they just launch. Very useful. I also don’t got to learn Powershell scripting which seems to take a lifetime of learning. Tell ya what. I’ll settle for BASH, BASH completions, RXVT on the Windows desktop. You can learn Powershell.


Yoyo Factors of Life

Life is like a yoyo. Up and down. The string jerks us around; makes us see incredible sights but then in a moment it takes it all away from us. Leaves us tightly bound in some alternate reality. Recently at work, I saw this happen with some colleagues that were let go. This is never a happy thing. In my Linuxcare days I survived 5 restructuring events. Finally the 6th one got me and almost on my birthday in December of 2001, I was termed. Flash forward to the days of Levanta. I lasted a year at Levanta basically when it was discovered that I was not a good fit there and never would be. Imagine lasting a year somewhere and then being told you are not a good fit. I’m convinced though that the entire management team(s) were reprobates at a few levels. Its that yoyo affect again. It grabs you sometimes around the neck and sometimes lower and hoists you all around.

Its just like some work colleagues I have either had the pleasure or extreme frustration to work with. Some of the Linux guys I have worked with are just brilliant and I learned so much from them. I count myself very lucky to have had the association. Then the yoyo pulls again and there are the reprobates which seem to think more of themselves than anyone else does. I’ve had the displeasure and angst at working around a few of these in the past and even now. Why is it that people act a certain way in a work relationship that they never replicate in other social, life, marital, or other relationships? Why is work an okay yoyo to make people ride along in your stupid orbits? I imagine if a life partner happened to see that other yoyo’s affects they would probably beg off. Yet people feel justified to simply act like assholes at work. I’ve seen this way too many times with people I otherwise would respect and enjoy working with. As someone at Linuxcare once remarked about this strange sensation… “Why can’t people treat us with professionalism, respect, and dignity?”. I know why. Because they are f**king assholes. But their extreme assholedness only comes out in the work thing. Then its okay. If you are one of them, shame on you. If you are the yoyo in one of their orbits; I feel sorry for you. Hopefully your wife, significant other, lifelong pet; or whatever never sees that side of you. Even a dog would have its day with the way some people I have seen get jerked around.

Anyways, I feel badly for the folks let go now. I’ve reached out to a few and will try to help my friend Rajesh who was treated really badly.

Here is the moral for the story. If you think its okay to act like an asshole always remember that its my right to also act that way. That’s the entire 360 of the yoyo factor of life. So many times in the past, I got to see these guys who made others sink down to their up and down.

Linuxcon Boston and then some

I just finished building my itinerary for my most ambitious train journey yet. I’m flying back to Boston on 9 August to attend the Linuxcon event for a few days. On 13 August, I’ll depart Boston on Amtrak for Chicago. Then from Chicago to Denver. Denver to Reno. Reno to Emeryville, CA. All of the return trip is courtesy of my USA Railpass on Amtrak. From Chicago onward, I am on the California Zephyr; but I’ve built delays for each segment. Here it is in a nutshell..

Pretty cool! I’ll basically see all of the US from east to west coast. Something I have never done on the ground before besides as a child when my mom and I drove from Florida to California. Each of the segments I chose takes about 15 to 17 hours so after that I have a hotel room rented at a place close to the Amtrak station in Chicago, Denver, and Reno.

The whole thing is all setup. Life is waiting. I hear a knock on the door. Sorry its not time yet. But soon I will do my own particular and unique “into the wild”.

All aboard! Life is leaving. You ready?

Android Rocks the World!

I simply love the new Froyo release. All of the usual places like MoDaCo and XDA have new ROMs which capitalize on different features or themes that the phone can be exploited with. My take is that Android is simply a lot of fun and takes collaboration and use to new levels. I’ve enjoyed following the leaked releases up to FRF83. This has been almost as much fun as following Ubuntu from a pre-release beta to the final shipping release by simple commands. By comparison and contrast, I’ve watched the entirely closed way that Apple releases the only game in town for its new operating system releases and phones. Why would I choose a single phone when I could have a pick of up to perhaps 20 different phones, all with different capabilities, able to root and install completely different themes and mods?

Answer is: I wouldn’t. The truth is that with each new release of Apple’s OS, the more competition happens with the features it announces. The more open source developers can hack new features, open up things to legions of developers, and learn how to compete at the healthiest of levels. A level Apple will never be able to compete with.

Have fun with Froyo if you use Android phones. If not, sorry for you. You and ATT deserve each other.

End of the Trip

Seems as I go back through each of the blogposts I do, I almost always do one the day I am leaving to go home. In Singapore, I often catch an early morning flight which precludes breakfast at the hotel I stay at. In India, I leave early morning most times. This time I re-arranged flights to leave earlier and be back at work tomorrow. As it turns out, the time I wanted to spend with my friend RWR really did not happen because of a personal injury he had which precluded us from doing much. That’s okay because Lancaster and Palmdale are only a few hours away in flight time and I can get back over a weekend very easily.

I have an airport shuttle to catch back to LAX around 9am which will get me to the United terminal at LAX around 11 or so. I’ll do lunch there and hang at the red carpet club for awhile. Membership has its benefits. Being a Premiere Executive on Star Alliance gives me exit row seats when I want them, no bumping, early boarding on international flights. Well worth it. I used some miles for the first time in a long time for this trip.

Anyways, watch me leave at 130pm on a 50 minute flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Then about 45 minutes of a drive to home. Its Father’s day; whatever that means these days.

Trip Shortened

I’ll only be on vacation through Saturday and heading back home on Sunday now. Not sure if I will get to see my friend Roger at all. He does not seem to answer his phone so I suspect he is out of town for Dad’s day. Had to change flights. Thanks to United and being a Premiere Executive its all pretty smooth and with no real hassles. Arranged a shuttle from Palmdale back down to LAX for Sunday. I’m staying at a great hotel here in Palmdale though and they treat me good every time I stay here. If you are visiting the Antelope Valley, consider staying at the Palmdale Marriott Courtyard right by Highway 14.

I’m thinking of attending the 2010 Linuxcon conference in Boston in August of this year. Seems there is a dearth of Linux shows since Linuxworld Expo stopped. I’ll have to make the reservations soon since the airline fees are slowly inching up. I really enjoy Boston and the food, tourist type places, and history of the place.

Anyways, will be staying two more nights here and then relocating back home. Home is not a clear winner in this contest though. Primarily I go on vacations to get away from home and not really to go somewhere. Sad to say.

Down to the Antelope Valley

Next few days I am on vacation from work, from home, from “things”. I’m flying down to visit an old friend, archeologist, and beer buddy in Lancaster/Palmdale. The desert holds a very special place for me. I practiced archeology there, traveled up and down the landscape with biologists, botanists, geologists. Hell; a bunch of “ologists”. But most of all I get to see Rog again. I’m thankful for being able to ‘break away” and do this trip. This time I’m flying down from San Francisco Airport, then taking a light rail service from Los Angeles up to Palmdale. I’ll get to see Rog for a day on Saturday and Monday. Saturday we’ll head out like we used to. Perhaps drink that elusive beer. I’ve blogged a lot about going out to do archeology with RWR. We would walk all day long, the desert heat, cold, rain, wind would burn into us. After 8 to 10 hours of walking; often we would end up at some isolated campground. We’d build that perfect fire from Juniper tree limbs that were down and dead. There were only the two of us. We’d drink and finally start talking. We’d grill some cheap burger and beans. Drink a few more beers. Usually by some point like 11pm or a bit later we’d spread out the bags and sleep under the stars. The wind would roam around us.

The next morning would come and coffee was in order. Then the whole pattern would start again.

It was probably the most interesting, intense, and retrospective moments I ever had. Archeologists are the most interesting people you could ask for to spend an evening at a Pizza Parlor. But try doing actual fieldwork. You get it all.

I can’t wait!

Five Years of Blogging here abouts

Its been 5 years and over 750 posts with 113 comments on this blog. I’ve moved this thing around a few times. It was over on for a long time and now it lives courtesy of my ISP in a smallish shuttle box under my desk running Ubuntu server edition AMD64. The software only changed from to the open source version. I’ve run the same theme, tarski, for a long time now. I wrote one blog post on the exiting of Levanta which was probably the most popular. Check it out here. Its interesting to point out that I still feel the same way. Levanta is a thing I will never miss; but Linuxcare I still think about quite often. Seeing linuxcare resolve makes it all worthwhile. Thanks AFT!

Prior to blogging here I used to write stuff on advogato here. Read it if you are brave :-). This was written during the Linuxcare days and shortly thereafter.

What have I learned from all this? I learned to be careful sometimes writing things here because I lost a friend with some content once. I have also learned that blogging is not some super fantastical community thing and we don’t need large cultural or social institutions like technorati or others to make us better. What we need is the desire to communicate, dialogue, and always find new (or old) things to write about. If you are in doubt about starting a weblog, simply don’t. They are a hard mistress and after awhile its like social constipation if you don’t blog.

Thanks to the few readers from work and other places who happen to stop by, comment, and let me know either their pleasure or unhappiness with some of the crap I have posted here. If you don’t like what I say; remember who owns this space.

Best of the ESXi Form Factor Lab Systems

I have had a AMD64 Shuttle for quite some time and always wanted to get VMware ESXi installed on it. My take is that its the perfect small form factor lab system. The ESXi before the current 4.0 release would never install correctly and it could not find the network card or the SATA controller. For home though, it always seemed a great size, great power, and if I could only get ESXi on it, it would truly be the bees knees. So, in waning hope, I downloaded the latest ISO image and booted it. If you have never booted ESXi before, it goes through this check of all the components and then installs support for them. In the past, it failed at storage each time. Now it loads the SATA controller right off the bat! One down; one to go. Next I see the forcedeth network controller loaded!! Yay!! My little Shuttle now can be my home ESXi box like I’ve always wanted. It has a 750gb drive in it which is plenty for this boy but I bet I could use USB storage too and it also has external SATA controllers on it so I could conceivably plug in an external SATA enclosure like from here.

Honestly though, I don’t need to worry about all that now. My desire to have a small form factor ESXi server is here!! It answers on its IP address. Lets me download the viClient software. I have a number of virtuals I want to run now including wiki software, an internal web server that I can use for stuff at a personal level. Perhaps a Windows Server 2008 r2 client without Hyper-V. The doors open a bit wider now for me and my shuttle now gets some use in its new role.

I also redid some systems here and built a new Windows 7 box for family use since my wife needs to have Office applications and its difficult explaining to her about VMware or VirtualBox. Now she has a Windows 7 toy running the x64 version to play with.

I’m very happy at this point! Got one of my longest waiting personal projects done. Now I just need to build on it.