Happy holidays

Hope everyone  has a great holiday season. Be Thankful for what you have. Strive to be more. Look beyond.

I’m also thankful. The last two years have taught me a lot. Don’t want to relive them but I’m glad to know what I know.

Take care all. This blog is gonna take a hiatus.

Happiness and Contentment

I had this discussion with my kids the other day. We were discussing whether we are happy or content and what the difference is. A member of my “in law” family once remarked she had never had a happy day in her life. Perhaps this shocked me; but in retrospect knowing what I know about the entire clan it doesn’t surprise me. When I look at the lesser family tree members, I can see that waiting for them too. The only thing for sure in this life is that you get older or as Pink Floyd remarked regarding time,

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

Thus it is and always shall be. But the real question is what the difference between mere contentment and happiness. An archeologist friend once remarked to me to take a look at cows in the field. That’s contentment. You don’t see them clicking their hooves, cracking jokes, running all around. But what is the sublime difference between the two things that makes us reach happiness? I’m not sure; but one thing I know is its pretty evident when we don’t have it. I have not been really happy since probably September 2009 although I have had moments where I think I got close. Leaving a work place behind that was bad for me this year had to rank high. It may have broken some things but it let me see pretty clearly that you are supposed to not just be content with work. You are supposed to enjoy it.

Relationships are another thing which interest me. Having been the product of a working slowly toward failure one and see my friend Ed travel his path to divorce; has let me see that when we really depend on another for happiness, when we believe that marriage can blend the two into one, when we believe the vows; we pretty much ignore the human element. We come with socially engaged ideas that we are supposed to find that other person, blend everything into a complete person, lives led joyfully holding the hand of the other and walking toward that sunset. Maybe a few dark clouds to stumble on your path; but in the happily idiotic method of all this; we all yield and become that true essence. I’ll just say that all that is “bullshit”. We will never be able to fit into another’s shoes much less our own. When we believe all the mumbo-jumbo we really are let down when the whole thing comes shaking down in an earthquake of accusation, infedelity, hatred, and finally separation. What happened to that great institution then? Not sure; but what I’ve learned is that its not all its cracked up to be.

We are weak clay. Made from imperfect ingredients and that’s okay. So to answer the question regarding happiness and contentment… We ain’t sure. What we do know is that we don’t know. Happiness is fleeting.

And we are one day closer to death.


Debian Less than Stable

Or testing for that matter.

I decided to go play with that dangerous boy that lives next door that breaks things. Its not so dangerous since I used to run this branch of things for years. There are bound to be new issues which arise. Things like before where suddenly one could not sudo because of a libpam issue. But this is all fun right?

It also means I get the full monte of the Gnome 3.2 experience and I started playing with the Extension Gnome website which lets you install Gnome Shell extensions from a compliant web browser. That would be any browser I am gathering besides Chrome. Firefox works just fine. Perhaps Iceweasel does too. I don’t particularly like the rebranded Firefox on Debian so I download the real thing and plop it into /opt each time. Mozilla is kind enough to compile a x64 version as well these days.

So, what’s next? Well there is the much anticipated Facebook Timelines thing which you cannot seem to opt out of no matter what you try. Facebook wants to show our development and evolution on their service no matter what we want. I’d like an option to go back to the other profile thing. Of course Facebook will not do this. They never really do what we all expect. Google+ of course is much better and there is a better clientele there like Linus, a lot of the Linux guys I know. It seems a better signal to noise ratio across the board. But of course we all stay with Facebook because they disappoint us.

Such is life on the internet meme.


[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaPTELylZ1s&ob=av2e”]

Always remembering Deanie the Weenie, Ernie the Burnie, Stan the Man and Andy the Dandy. Don’t know where you guys are, what you are doing,  I think you all remember this song from the nights spent partying in a dorm room. Dean’s favorite.

From Mike the Spike 🙂


A virtual potpourri of stuff…

Work. I will have two jobs come Monday. I have a part-time gig now doing some data center management which is nice. Come Monday, this rather nice Fortune 50 software company likes my style and will offer me a 4 to 6 month contract to do some project management for a group of projects they have. I get to go play again with Microsoft Project, Visio, and some other stuff. I’ll wait until Monday and then tell you all where I’m going. I was out of work this time since September 27th. That’s less than two months by my reckoning.

Travel. The 6 month contract means my trip to Japan and China is on for around June this next year. I’ll be working the next months to save up some cash for a month’s travels to Japan and China. Then when I get back, back to the job search thing again and another consulting gig.

Computers. I tried to use Windows 7 today on real hardware. There is something about it which I don’t like. I mean besides its networking kinda sucks. It seems slow on this rather old ThinkPad T60. It seems to light up the disk drive icon every so often for no real reason. Not quite sure what its doing. Debian is a lean, mean fighting machine! I built a Windows 7 VirtualBox guest with the applications I really need on that side. I’m pretty sure that new $COMPANY will provide me a new laptop. Unlike the last place which told me forever there was some laptop plan almost ready to be finalized. In the end, even a rather model contributor could not get the company to buy him a laptop. Its the only place I have ever been where I was not given a piece of equipment necessary to do my job. At Celestix, my boss got me a few laptops for testing and traveling.

Life. Life in general. I upgraded the WordPress thing to the newest one and had to fall back to a backup I had taken. Thank the Linux gods for command-line backup programs like backup-manager. A quick untar and replace and all was good again. I’m sitting here tonight with a fire going in the fireplace and my daughter is tapping and typing away in some social RPG thing with a bunch of virtual friends.

Its quiet here now. Fire is crackling away. Thinking about entering the whole work place thing again. Working with computers and technology is okay. When I did archeology if someone would have felt the bumps on my head and said, “you will spend your life editing a file with strange lines and graphs in it”, I would have said, “forget about it”. Who woulda known. But its okay. Relationships come and go. People come and go.I’ll tell you what’s forever.

Desert sand, snakes, and sunsets. Thanks for reminding me, Mr. Abbey.

Boots on the Ground

Way back when, an archeologist instructor/professor I had would get tired of classroom shenanigans. He would be staring out the window at the beautiful New Mexico springtime and then look around at the books and lecture materials. He’d jump up and tell us,

time for boots on the ground!

We all knew he wanted to hit the road, get the south central plains air flowing, see fields of grasses. During our summers there we had these field classes that took us to a relatively unknown location in New Mexico called the Chupadero Mesa. It was a wild and rugged area the way I remember it. We camped out for about 2 months there doing archeological field surveys of lands surveyed in the past at some point.

The sites were truly amazing and I remember working a few days with a geologist mapping strata, looking at aerial photography for locations of possible archeological sites, and traveling down many canyons validating earlier attempts at locating prehistoric archeological sites.

One evening we were sitting around when a bunch of cowboys pulled up and offered to share their liquor with us. We assumed this would be beer; but real cowboys don’t drink liquor which requires cooling. I mean how are they gonna cool the stuff when they’re bouncing around in trucks and on horseback. We all sat around a fire talking about the falling stars which arced the sky, a pale moon which seemed twice the size of normal, and, crisp cold air heavy with the promise of dew and perhaps even frost in the morning. They knew stories about lost mines, ghosts, and strange places where not even cows wanted to go.

After some hours of drinking they all piled into their trucks and left us after eating a dinner we all prepared. Venison, potatoes, green beans in a big pot. One of the guys called it “bullshit stew” because there was so much of it and the stories after it got even better 🙂

Now I sit here remembering that advice. Days roll by and I see a new light coming. Freedom is gonna knock at my door. I’ll take some of that stew again. Then I’ll yell much like before…

Its boots on the ground time

I got lucky with it this time. I got work times two it appears. I’ll be getting some new electronic gear very shortly that I want. I also will be departing in June for a month on the road to China and Japan.

Definitely boots on the ground time.

Reading News

News reading is a hobby of mine at Starbucks on my Motorola Xoom. I’ve found a few good free market applications which render news in bits and bytes one can easily peruse. Here is my synopsis and relevant information for each of the applications I use:

World Newspapers – This is the primary source for me. Not limited to this or that number and can be used to read google reader accounts if you want. The developer regularly updates the application and it works fine on my HTC Sensation phone or my Xoom. You can save articles, share and add your own sources as you want. The interface is kinda clunky at times but lets face it; you end up reading the news more than staring at the interface for the list of sources. Give it a shot.

Taptu – This one may come in a IOS version; not sure. I ain’t never touched an iPhone so don’t know. I seem to remember loading this on my iPod touch during the three days or so I had one. This one presents the news in a different format which I find rather innovative. Articles roll by from left to right. You can add sources up to 1000. Again, you can share, save, and also find new sources of your own or use one that is managed  by the Taptu team. Very cool! Give it a try to see news presented slightly differently.

Feedly – This is my newest one and the nice thing here is that there is a Google Chrome application for Feedly as well so you can see the same basic presentation on the Xoom, the phone, and in my browser. The graphical presentation in Feedly is really unique, themable, and you are able to add sections, link to your google reader account, and it shows everything in a visually pleasing UI which really makes it comfortable reading.

There is no one favorite application for me to reading news. I like all three and they all present. I argue to give them all a try. Here is what’s missing though from these that I can see. There is no way to sync the list of favorites to a website so when you add a new device or tablet, it will read the list you have maintained, added to, or removed from. I urge the developers to consider ways and means that the applications can sync to a central source. Feedly would benefit definitely by sync’ing to the sync’ed extensions and settings in Chrome. Lets face it, we all use Chrome these days. Faster, easier, nicer than Firefox and they’ve made a lot of inroads to centralizing data.

Most of all, thanks to the enterprising devleopers on Android for making it the nicest mobile operating system out there. And the most popular! I mean the thanks to the widest possible group of folks including developers like Cyanogen, the XDA forums people, the folks that build ROMs and maintain them, people that document things and make Android an online phenomena.

Great job everyone and thanks from a regular user.

This is Post 1000

I’ve reached a new plateau of the not required and never necessary. This blog has reached 1000 posts. Another milestone in years, posts. This blog focuses on a few things which you probably have all guessed by now. Its all about me! Hence the name “Mikes Thoughts”. It runs on the open source wordpress solution on a Debian Testing AMD64 system. The blog has focused on open source, android, anthropology and archeology, business stuff, technology, and most of all… my thoughts. My thoughts on this and that. My beliefs, hatreds, dys-functional businesses I have been associated with. Startups and spindowns here and there I have worked at or left.

The blog never has been about a set topic. I stopped caring about so-called blog authority some years ago when it dawned on me that blogging is no panacea, social instrument for change, or institution. Its a reflection, a philosophy and it obeys what Einstein once said,

Never Stop Questioning

So I don’t. I ask the questions and you read along. That’s the way it all works. You may not agree or even wish to read but you visit and leave spam sometimes and Akismet eats it up for dinner. You comment or reply with thoughtful ideas and we may even know each other.

Here is the primary purpose of writing a weblog and have it reach 1000 posts. Don’t say anything that makes sense day after day. Fill your weblog with stifling stupidity on occasion and focus on personal tribulations as well as social phenomena. Give it a cup of Linux and open source. Touch it up with ideas on Android. Maybe mix in some of the grand-daddy of all scientific endeavor – Anthropology.

Most of all, if you want a weblog; don’t do it. It takes this and that. Mostly that.

Its the Linux Man

I’ve been interviewing for work of late. Asked to write up this statement and that reason why I am the best fit for some job. Today I got a call from a recruiter who asked what I knew about Linux. Man. What a hard question to answer. He asked me to write up a few bullet points about what it is I know that would make me a good employee fit. So I came up with some stuff:

First off lets focus on what I know. I know Linux is cool. Whole bunches of people use it that I know here and there. They seem happy using it on desktops, laptops, and servers. I never hear one of them complain about the W32 blaster worm or malware or other bad things. I think Linux is the perfect choice for a traveler’s OS. I’ve stretched my boundaries at places like Japan, Singapore, India. Wifi is wifi folks. If a hotel does wifi in Hanoi it will work most times. I’ve run into some web sign-up pages that don’t work with one browser like Chrome but that will work with Firefox. I also know what devices work with Linux. I’ve become pretty much assured that my rather ancient Thinkpad T60s just will plain work and be decent at working. I can smash Debian Testing on one and run a single bash shell script I wrote which grabs things from a certain file server I own, does magic with apt-get, runs the rsync command this way or that. When Its done and I walk away, I have a nicely customized Debian testing system. I also know that Linux forgives me certain errors but i have to know what the hell I am doing with certain files like “/etc/fstab” and other system configuration files. So I am careful there. No sense tempting fate folks. I also know that there are these command-line tools which rule for me like ssh, rsync, screen. These little gems make using da Linux simpler. Finally, I know what i don’t know. Now that’s power!!

Now on to what I don’t know. I don’t know massive things about Linux. I am not terribly good at shell scripting but I can write them when pressed into it. I don’t really know how to use vim all that well and often use another editor (gasp). I am not always sure how libraries work or why they have such cryptic names like libglib-dev- But I do know if i don’t have a required library I am not happy and the application I want to compile ain’t too happy either. I also don’t really understand grub2 to tell the truth. It seems very complex yet when I need to edit some value I have found some illumination. I must edit /etc/default/grub2 and then rerun grub-install or whatever. That makes it re-read its configurations. I don’t really get how sudo works all that well. I just know I need to use it to make my life simpler. I want to be root for some things. This ain’t no super computer for the NY Stock Exchange boys and girls. This is a personal desktop. Finally, I don’t grok XWindows any more. It used to have this file called /etc/X11/XF86Config which was cryptic and would cause the X server to become unhappy at any moment and die.

Now the real power of it all is knowing what you don’t know and knowing where to go to find the truth. That’s where buddies and colleagues come in handy and essential things like websites with forums, example pages for how to do things which seem rife on the lazy net. Linux is an online collaborative experience. Its a living thing so someone needs to live to use it. It ain’t your dad’s OS. It lives and breathes and makes mistakes. Libraries come and go. Killer applications live on it.

The biggest thing is that it makes me happy when I use it. Can you say that about your choice?