victorthecook: (Default)
So I updated my Mac to Snow Leopard -- forgetting that I'd have to endure the forced change to the latest all-dancing iTunes. Every time this happens, the program forgets where all the music is stored (on a network server, as it happens), and wants to spend a half-hour or more updating its music list. Also it wants to show me album art it doesn't have. In fact, any time the network connection is interrupted, we go through some variation on this theme.

So I basically don't use my old iPod, I'm not picky about album art and don't want to sort by it, and I have about 3 songs from the iTunes store (maybe fewer). Is there a decent program for the Mac which will:

* auto-convert FLAC or Apple Lossless to MP3 for burning to disk
* Allow creation and export of playlists
* not choke at having the files on a non-local filesystem,
* not want to phone home my music preferences to Apple (or anyone)
* Play music without making me wait half an hour at random times?

Oh -- I do insist on having something other than a command-line interface. Though that interface could be in Emacs for all I care. [This statement subject to change, though an Emacs music player is sort of a cool idea...]

Also -- if Apple keeps insisting on calling its half-baked ideas 'genius', we're going to need a new word for intellectually innovative people and great artists -- and one for great ideas. Suggestions?
victorthecook: (Default)
We baked a bunch of cookies today, and took 'em to the release party for Seanan McGuire's new novel, _Rosemary and Rue_. Great music, a large crowd of people, and a chance to catch up with some folks. And a trip to Borderlands Books, of course. Also -- the falafel place down the street is really good. My apologies for bailing out early -- some allergy issues caught up with us.
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We will be at Baycon this year, which is no surprise. The other events we'd hoped to make it to this summer were YAPC and Concertino. Unfortunately, they overlap this year. Given that Lara and I are both looking for work, we'll be at YAPC in Pittsburgh, and not at Concertino. Sorry, gang.

For YAPC people -- we'll be there Friday night through Thursday afternoon. Drop us a note if you want to get together. Or if you have local advice on things to do & places to eat near the Carnegie Mellon campus.
victorthecook: (Default)
OK -- that's overly dramatic. However, I've informed my workplace that I'm moving -- so the move is public at last. After they've slept on it, we'll settle whether that means (a) I simply quit with 2 weeks notice, or (b) I stay of staff remotely for a while, or (c) I consult for them on projects they'd like done. Option (b) is desirable from my perspective, but improbable. Either way: we move by the end of the month. Any suggestions about the fun or otherwise of a cross-country adventure by car?

more details here. )
victorthecook: (Default)
Hi all -- We're trying to get rid of some stuff. Let us know if you care to give any of it a good home.

First: Electric Piano/Keyboard. This used to belong to Ed Stauff. I started to refurbish it and ran out of steam. It has 3 or 4 keys that stick because of worn bearing surfaces where the keys ride; otherwise, it's a fine instrument with a full 88 weighted keys and so on. Nonetheless, I haven't used it or finished fixing it, so out it goes.

Second: Soloflex. Back in the '90s, this was the big deal in home gyms. It's never been a big deal at my home, except as a conversation piece, since I joined a non-home gym. (Is that an away gym? Do I have to wear a different uniform?)

Third: Shirts for Portly Men. I used to weigh more than I do -- now I'm getting rid of a large bunch of men's dress shirts in approximately 16.5/32-33 and 17/32-33 sizes. There may also be trousers in a 42" or 44" waist, but darned if I can remember quite what's in the box. Nor am I opening it until the contents have a destination. Some of the shirts are quite nice, if you happen to wear these sizes.

There will be more stuff in the coming days and weeks, so watch this space if you need stuff.
victorthecook: (Default)
Skunks are our little fuzzy pals, and I love them dearly. I do kind of wish they wouldn't make out on the fire escape right next to our air conditioner intake, though.
victorthecook: (Default)
Once again, we've been convinced to go to Fire and Ice, the pseudo-(mongolian grill) in Harvard Square. Once again, we both have digestive problems the next day. This time, Lara is also running a fever, and had to delay necessary medical treatment as a result. This has been a problem for the last several visits. We're never eating there again; we don't care whose favorite restaurant this is, or what the occasion. That is all.
victorthecook: (Default)
Just to let people know: our 'home phone number' is attached to the phone that is currently in California with Lara. I realize that this is (deeply) counterintuitive. The other options were no better.

At any rate -- for the next two weeks, if you want to reach *me*, you'll need to dial my cell phone. If you need my cell number, comment here or drop me an email. If you want to reach Lara, she's carrying the home phone in her pocket. Isn't technology cool?
victorthecook: (Default)
So I can say with some confidence that [ profile] ocelotn is cruising over Nebraska at this moment, on her way to California at 387 knots. She'll be in San Francisco for the next three weeks, working remotely and dodging the pollens of Spring.

I'm feeling much better than I was earlier, thanks in large part to Allen and Lisa (and Barbara) driving well out of their way to have dinner with me. But it's really weird and rather lonely -- Lara and I haven't spent 3 weeks apart since 1992 or so. I'm glad that she'll be out of the allergy zone, but I miss her already.
victorthecook: (Default)
Do we have any left-handed guitar players in the house? I'm shopping for a guitar, and could use some advice. In particular:

* Are there stores in the extended Boston area (for this purpose, say the area bounded by New York, NY, York, ME, Concord, NH, and Albany, NY) with a good selection of left-handed acoustic guitars in stock?

* Would anybody like to get together for a shopping trip?

* Does anybody have suggestions for brands or models to look for (or avoid)?

More specifically, I'm looking for a left-handed, steel-stringed acoustic guitar. At this stage, budget is a secondary concern.

Beer Notes

Mar. 5th, 2008 09:35 pm
victorthecook: (Default)
Yep, it's a random assortment of posts today, as I avoid doing what I should. So: beer reviews.
capsule reviews after the cut, vodka drinkers... )
victorthecook: (Default)
In my 'spam' box today: something from "Justin Bimetallism". This name is wasted on spam. Consider -- and top it if you can:

At the Cow Palace -- It's Justin Bimetallism! With guests WJ-Bryan and Free Silver! Special Guests: Hard Currency!

Next up, Free Silver's biggest hit, 43-2-1(Cross of Gold)!
victorthecook: (Default) only gull the gullible. It's just evil.

In my mail today: something that looks like a bill for $75, mentioning one of my domain names. Odd -- nothing related to my domain renews for months yet, and I've never heard of these bozos: "". I smell a rat.
so I did some careful reading... this may get a bit long. )
victorthecook: (Default)
So I've settled (finally) the Thanksgiving menu for this year, with the exception that there's a potato option. I'd _like_ to have Pommes Anna, but I'll need a second 8-inch skillet, since we're having 8 to dine.

Yes, I'm nervous -- [ profile] ocelotn's family are coming, and I'd be hard-pressed to lay my mitts on a more sophisticated set of diners. I'm a bit better organized this year, but still...
<the menu and so on> )
victorthecook: (Default)
First, my apologies to MASSFILC'ers who were expecting us at today's meeting -- we've been having allergy problems all week, and our immune systems are just too active to make coping with cats an option right now.

Anyway -- I had these two left-over avocados. And I had my ice cream maker. And we'd just finished off a batch of banana ice cream, which basically involves pulping bananas and adding sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and cream.

Details after the cut... )
victorthecook: (Default)

If there is one stupid computer trick I hate more than another, it is when the computer yanks focus.

That is: you're typing along, getting down your guacamole recipe, or a regular expression, or your thoughts on computer quirks -- and half the line you were typing is lost because the system has pulled up a new window to ask if you want your nails buffed now, or has decided that the browser window you were loading in the background is now the most important thing in your life.

Microsoft holds the crown in this area -- their dialogs keep popping up again and again, and my typing goes out to them -- every damn time. On a Macintosh, it happens less, but a bunch of applications will do this to you. Camino has sinned most recently, so they get to hold the dead skunk in this post, but they're not alone. Linux/KDE has myriad annoyances, but they don't play this trick often, if at all.

How did it get to be a good idea to have my computer interrupt me constantly with little annoyances? Do any UI designers out there want to explain -- or refute me?

victorthecook: (Default)

The Wind at Pooh Corner: Having been evicted from Toad Hall, the weasels try to take over Christopher Robin's house.

Frog and Toad Hall are Friends: A new amphibian arrives, like Fortinbras, to take posession of the vacant manor.

The Road to Middlemarch: Bing Crosby and Bob Hope are itinerant physicians who intend to bring sleepy, rural Middlemarch into the modern age.

New Socks

Jun. 30th, 2007 03:39 pm
victorthecook: (Default)
Cotton socks.

Yeah, I can see you runners out there wincing and feeling your blisters. The fact remains that for light exertion, I haven't found anything more comfortable than cotton socks. Not wool (*really* not wool), not exotic two-layer technical confections (great for actual running, but not for everyday use), and certainly not soft polyester. But there are a lot of "cotton" socks out there made of something like 70% cotton, 20% polyester, and 10% something stretchy. I've never been happy with these -- they don't absorb sweat properly; they don't dry gracefully, and the cotton leaves them before the other ingredients, so over the life of the sock the polyester content keeps going up. Finally, you have a very sheer polyester sock with a few cotton bits stuck in it. Not good. You do need a bit of something stretchy in them, but in general, I can gauge my reaction to a sock by reading the fiber content.

Over the years, I've found a number of good cotton socks, and lost them again -- they keep going out of production. JCPenney for years made cotton work socks that were inexpensive, reasonably durable, and came in an amusing kraft-paper package with stencil-style lettering on them. Butch socks. They stopped selling these around 1986. More recently, the Gold Toe people had acceptable socks, but sold them under the same name as a high-polyester "cotton" thing, and packaged all of the above in plastic. I like the (now really worn-out) socks that I have, but I can't find more.

If there's anybody else out there who likes cotton socks with lots of cotton in them: Wigwam brand #F1055 "King Cotton" socks are the real thing: 95% cotton. And they come in sizes that fit feet from size (EU sizing) 37 to 51. My size is 'large', though 'medium' would probably work fine too.

And -- I'll be able to find this post the next time I need socks...

If you've stuck it out this long on footgear, I might as well switch gears and talk about where search engines fail. There are lots of common tasks, many of them related to housewares. Want a towel? Easy. A cotton towel? Simple. An all-cotton towel? Harder, but still pretty easy. A towel that's at least 50 inches by 32 inches, but could be larger in either dimension? Nope. Search engines don't tokenize numbers as numbers well or often, and don't do comparisons.

Similarly, a search string for socks of at least, say, 94% cotton content looks like (94% OR 95% OR 96% OR 97% OR 98% OR 99% OR 100%) AND "cotton socks". What you want is a search for cotton socks that's ranked by cotton content. Possibly with "unknown" as an option. What you get is... less useful.

And all this is much deeper below the CompSci radar than, say, image recognition and categorization.

W3C standards for product descriptions, anybody?
victorthecook: (Default)
A note in the mail today:

"Since you were summonsed, the needs of the court have changed and you are no longer required to appear for juror service as scheduled. Your service under this summons has been canceled."

Wow. My first ever call to jury duty -- cancelled. Or canceled, as they have it. Will it be another 17 years before I get another? What are the lifetime odds of my being called?
What's the preferred spelling of the past tense of 'cancel', anyway?

Oh, well -- there's plenty to do at work Tuesday.


Jun. 28th, 2007 12:46 am
victorthecook: (Default)
If you can't sleep, get up and do something quiet. So I'm installing TeX, LaTeX, and AucTeX. So far, only a path problem, and the fact that the TeX package for OSX is 750Mb, and therefore quite a download. So it's quiet enough to qualify.

Of course, learning to properly use all this is another, larger task. Ah, well... life is learning. Put it on the stack with Javascript, Emacs Lisp, Scheme, Ruby, and Rails. Oh, and Lua. Meanwhile, I'm going to try to sleep again. G'night.


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