Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Software installs for a fresh Mac

Here's a list of software I had to install to get closer to normal in the Mac:

  • Firefox (with NoScript, AdBlockPlus, Greasemonkey, Ubiquity, Firebug, and Vacuum Places)
  • Carbon Emacs
  • Xcode with developer tools
  • Quicksilver
  • X-Edit 2.0 (for my guitar pedal)
  • Nethack
  • Crossover Games (running Steam and thus, Team Fortress 2)
  • GarageBand extras
  • GrandPerspective (hard drive dissector)
The terminal situation on the Mac seems pretty hopeless. I could use a good recommendation. I'm looking for Command-means-meta and high color, tabs would be nice. At this point I'm just running M-x shell in Emacs, but Emacs has problems in the remote shell (in particular, I can't get remote completions to work because Emacs consumes the Tab).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Adventures in Media I

I'll try to put my adventures in media all in one place, so you can skip them if you like.

The Prisoner
Where have you been all my life? Seriously, I am glad I ran across this last weekend. I haven't finished them all, but this is my kind of show. It's creepy, surreal, inventive, epic.

It's strange because I recognize a fair portion of the motifs from a Simpsons episode where Homer is taken to a sinister island because, as Mr X, he publishes an internet rumor that shows that he knows too much. The constant drugging, the replacement of number 2, even a cameo by the star.

You can see it on demand if you have Comcast. They provided all the episodes as a teaser for the AMC remake miniseries (looks like 6 episodes, starring Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellen).

If you have been waiting for an excuse to buy a Blu-Ray player, it looks like they've remastered the entire series in surround sound, and since it was originally filmed in 35mm, in high-def as well. It's coming out tomorrow at my fair employer.

Anna Karenina
In the words of Apu, "Mmmm... that's some good adultery!"

I have been rereading the epic novels of my youth lately. Dune held up, no surprise there. The Belgariad actually suffered a bit on my reread, somewhat to my surprise. The Eye of the World, also surprisingly, remains pretty cracking good.

And then there's Anna. My copy is twelve years old now and it's a bit the worse for wear. I have to retape the preface again because the pages have ripped off and are falling away from the binding. The page edge is covered in transferred ink from fingers and hands that rested too long on the words. It's got six colors of ink on the pages. By any standards, I've defaced it beyond recognition.

What keeps me coming back? As I've grown, I've found this novel growing with me. Now that I'm a family man with a young son, the pressures and paradises of married life stand out more starkly to me in Anna. I continue to see myself in her and Levin.

Anna escapes from her bourgeois life into a more dangerous one. For that much, she has to be admired. The part of us that cries out for more than the world around us must be listened to. But what we escape into must be carefully decided. Anna's passion and lack of wisdom leads her down a dark road, but it could could have been otherwise.

Thom Yorke at the Orpheum
Thom Yorke, the lead singer/songwriter of Radiohead, has been touring with a rock band, including longtime producer Nigel Godrich on keyboards and Flea, the bassist from the Red Hot Chili Peppers on bass. They are performing Yorke's solo material, including The Eraser album in its entirety, Radiohead B-sides and some new songs.

The new stuff will require some more listening (read: it's difficult, live)... but what they are doing to The Eraser is really fascinating. A somewhat methodical, bleeping and blooping "apocalyptic dance" album is transformed into wild rock.

I picked up the mp3s for one of the shows, so if you have trouble finding them, let me know and I'll post them.

Meanwhile, here is a study in contrasts. This is "The Eraser", the first song on the solo album, from the album, from a solo performance, and from this latest one with the band.

Album version

Live at Latitude Festival, solo

Live at the Orpheum, with the new band

Back in Mac

I know it's time to buy Windows again or whatever, but... I got a Macbook. The year of Linux on the desktop is coming, maybe soon, but... I got a Macbook.

So that's that. I've joined the ranks of the smug, latte-drinking weenies. I'll spend my life looking down my nose at well-meaning gents and shatter their illusions of love.

One of the many consequences is that I now have a platform to establish my online identity from. Before, sharing my wife's iMac, it was hard to just take over. I'd want to blog something and be on it all night. Now that I have the laptop, the resource contention is over. So I friended 40+ people on Facebook, I'm blogging tonight, I have a place to get back into reading the internet one RSS feed at a time, I even got a Google Wave invite. Look out world, here I come.

Also, I have a mobile recording station. Along with a helpful tip from the makers of my multi-effects pedal and a shiny new vintage white solid-body electric SG, I've been making recordings in Garage Band. And they sound like real music! It's hard to try to fake that sound with a plugged-in acoustic guitar. Now it sounds pure and sharp.

I'm gaming with the details turned up. It turns out that Team Fortress 2 has a ton of shiny lighting effects that I never saw before. It has actually been hard to play because it's so cool looking...

The only feature I am really missing compared to my Amazon laptop is a number pad accessible under the uiojkl keys. As it is, I either have to accept the dangerous yubnhjkl (You have much trouble lifting a large box. Continue? [ynq] (q)) or the hard to reach 123456789 for moving around in Nethack.

This may not sound like much of a missing feature to you, but you don't play nearly as much Nethack as I do.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Inventions to improve car network behavior and communication

  • proximity warning and online driving safety tips delivered by The Computer (you're tailgating too closely for a construction zone, Dave)
  • a GPS with bird's eye display of nearby cars that broadcast their location
  • text nastygrams to bad drivers' license plate number
  • new codes for head and taillights ("preparing to change lanes" is only the tip of the iceberg)
  • gun to write messages on sticky notes or with dissolvable paint balls and shoot at doors of other cars
Please steal these ideas. Their time has come.