I’m annoyed with Red Hat. We run both Intel and Sun hardware and I like to use the same distribution of Linux on all of them to make things more consistent. We’re running Red Hat 6.2 now. There was no Red Hat 7.0 release for Sparc, which was not that surprising as they’ve skipped *.0 releases before for non-Intel platforms. And they assured me at the time that there would be a Sparc release of Red Hat 7.1 but now that it’s out, there isn’t one. When I called today they seemed to indicate that there probably wouldn’t be one (but there might). And they insisted that even if they didn’t release one they would continue to support the Sparc platform (apparently “support” doesn’t include actually having any software that runs on it). Oh well, looks like it’s time to try out some other distributions.
Good news and bad news. The bad news is that Joey Ramone of the Ramones died Sunday of cancer. He was buried Tuesday in Woodhurst, NJ as Deborah Harry, Cris Stein, Joan Jett and assorted other musicians looked on. A boom box in his hospital room was playing the newest U2 CD (delivered personally by Bono) when he died Sunday. Lots of fellow rockers issued statements about the loss of the man behind the band that invented Punk and inspired a lot of the 80’s music. But even though Joey’s gone, you can still Cube numbers along with the Ramones. Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!
I better post a news update while I’ve got a few minutes free or it’ll probably be another week before I get a chance! Let’s see, last friday night I stopped by a local Colter’s BBQ to hear some live R & B played by a group that included Kenny Stern on drums along with several of his friends. It’s probably the only place in Irving where you can hear a live band and not many people know about it (which is not suprising, who’d expect live music at a Colter’s!?). Anyway, if you’re in Irving some friday night and want hear some live music, check and see what’s happening at the Colter’s on MacArthur.
On Easter Sunday, we joined my sister’s family for a picnic in Lookout Park in Richardson, TX. A fun time was had by all. I brought along a couple of boxes of Peeps hoping the kids would eat them. Where did I get Peeps you ask? Well, with all the hype about Peeps on the web and Susan telling me of her childhood memories of Peeps, I was begining to feel like I’d missed out on something. So I went to the local grocery store and picked up one box of yellow Peeps and one box of pink Peeps. I ate one yellow Peep and decided that one enough for this lifetime. They are awful-tasting things that look and feel like small bits of foam-rubber coated with a large quantity of sugar. The first thing you notice about them is that they aren’t shaped at all like chicks (my niece and nephew thought they were seals). Anyway, having aquired an excess of Peeps, an Easter picnic seemed an ideal way to get rid of them. The kids ate some, we tried to feed one to a passing dog (and learned that even dogs won’t eat them), and we also tested the fire resistance of a Peep in one of the outdoor grills available in the park (they don’t so much burn as melt).
Hmmmm… what else is new? Jesika, a friend who used to work for one of NCC’s clients, is starting a new media production company called manipul8. Work on robots.net is still sucking up most of my free time. And I’ve been listening to a lot of Lalo Schifrin lately because Susan is on an eBay Lalo-buying-spree.
Last week was another busy week. Lots of Perl and a smaller amount of C programming. More progress on robots.net. The robomenu is now working. The robomenu is a database of robots with photos and descriptions. I’ve only managed to get about half the records into the database (they were originally static pages) but it is online and seems to be holding up okay so far. I’m using PostgreSQL as the database and a Perl DBI program to generate a set of static pages every night. I’m still working on the interface that will allow users to submit new robots but that should online within a week or so.
On Saturday Susan and I got to see Dmitry Sitkovetsky as guest conductor of the Dallas Symphony. He conducted the DSO in four pieces of Chamber music by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Shostakovich. The Shostakovich piece was a transcription for Chamber Orchestra of the String Quartet No. 8, Op. 110 and was particularly good. We tried unsuccessfully to find a CD of the piece Sunday. We’ll probably have to order it on Amazon or catch a used one on eBay sometime.
We spent a while at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival on Sunday. Lots of live music including a group from Central America playing some sort of traditional folk music with lots of curious instruments. There were some Celtic bands, some Jazz groups, and quite a selection of local rock groups – like Baby Jane Hudson and Eden Automatic. The weather was great for a day outside and most of the people had brought their dogs. I think we saw at least one of every possible kind of dog while we were there. It was an Art festival so there was quite a bit to see in the Arts and Crafts department as well, though the weirdest aspect of the whole thing was a collection of Art Cars from all over. There was a Van covered in bright orange stucko, a car decked out to look like the yellow submarine, and several cars that I guess you’d call debris cars. One was covered with plastic toys like Godzillas, Boba Fetts, and Mr T dolls. Another was completely covered by sea shells with a variety of rubber octopi and other sea creatures attached. One had a back seat uplostered in one and five dollar bills and an outside covered with quarters, nickels, dimes, and an assortment of jewlery. Weird stuff.
Susan and I took some time off today and didn’t do any work. After a late breakfast we walked down to the park and fed some bread to the ducks and turtles. There’s quite an assortment of ducks this year including the usual white park ducks (well, I call ’em park ducks but I think they’re really Pekin Ducks), Mallards, Muscovies, Northern Shoveler, American Widgeons, and Coots. It was warm enough that some of the turtles are begining to show themselves – mostly Red Eared Sliders. There were some assorted other things around like Egrets and Cormorants but they don’t eat bread so they just ignored us.
Afterwards we practiced our Tai Chi in the park – something I’ve never done before. We’re both able to get most of the way through the first sixteen positions though it gets a little tricky after the second set of brush-knees.
I’ve finished reading Jules Verne’s The Floating Island to Susan and now we’ve moved on to The Monk in the Garden by Robin Marantz Henig. It tells the story of Gregor Mendel and his experiments cross-breeding peas which allowed him to discover the principals of inheritance. So far the book is moderately interesting but the author feels if you can’t find enough facts to fill in the whole story, you should just make up something that sounds good so that the story flows along like a novel. So periodically, she will insert a paragraph or two of ridiculous speculation on what Mendel might have thought about or what he might have said to someone. Usually the made-up parts are about as historically believable as the dialog on the Hercules or Zena TV shows. Fortunately those portions of the book are infrequent and small enough they can be easily skipped.
Mozilla. 0.8.1 is out. My advice is to stick with 0.8. The new release is far less stable than 0.8 and is crashing several times a day (in fact it’s less stable the Netscape!). Also, it’s full of bugs that weren’t in 0.8. Yes, I’ve filed bugzilla reports on them, so I’m allowed to complain. :-) Hopefully they’ll get things back on track with the 0.9 release next month.
Meanwhile, robots.net is keeping me busy. Lots of Perl coding as well as lots of bugs fixes and changes to mod_virgule. One things that keeps amazing me about most of the web portal software like mod_virgule and slash and scoop is how primitive and slow they seem compared to the multi-user BBS software we used to have. It takes a fast Pentium II or III to do what your average BBS software could do back in the ’80s on a 20Mhz 80286. Mod_virgule seems a little better than the others (and has Raph’s cool trust metrics stuff – that’s something that does work better than what we had back in the good old days). I ran several of the old BBS packages for years and they were much more versatile in general. I’ll probably get all the features I need for robots.net hacked together out of mod_virgule and lots of Perl code but I think when I’m done I may just have to write an Apache module of my own that takes the best of modern web software and adds in the best features BBS software.