Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Archive for October, 2003

Linux Is the Enterprise Operating System

Posted by shannonclark on October 28, 2003

Linux Is the Enterprise Operating System

Good news. Basically Linux is no longer just for “true believers” but for the real business. Which is good and in fact great news.

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“Stories for Men” by John Kessel

Posted by shannonclark on October 27, 2003

“Stories for Men” by John Kessel

Or if you want to print out the story, here is a better link. FictionWise is nice if you want to read the story on your laptop, but if you prefer to print out a copy to read on paper (and not drain your battery or strain your eyes) the versions available are not printable.

But this link from Asimov’s is.

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Fictionwise eBooks: Stories For Men [MultiFormat] by John Kessel

Posted by shannonclark on October 27, 2003

Fictionwise eBooks: Stories For Men [MultiFormat] by John Kessel

Looks like the Tiptree winning story by John Kessel is available for free from FictionWise. I am getting it at the moment and plan on reading it, been on my short list of stuff I wanted to read ever since WisCon.

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New system

Posted by shannonclark on October 24, 2003

or what’s a little new technology amongst friends…

So, having heard yesterday that my new laptop was being held at customs, having been built in China, I didn’t expect to get it until next week if I was lucky.

However, this morning when I went downstairs to pick up my mail, there was a nice little note from the package room for my building that I had a package, and sure enough, it was my new laptop.

I have been setting it up all afternoon, not difficult at all and very cool in many ways. Very light, long battery life, large screen.

The only problems, which are minor at the moment – are I need to get a copy of my invoice (which I thought would be with the shipped product but was not), I think they shipped the wrong battery type, and I may have been charged more than I should have been. (but not by all that much). The good news is that they have a price protection, but the bad news is that they appear to have changed the model from when I ordered it to now – and now it is configured with the smaller battery. So, they have my call logged and will call me back, probably on Monday.

But other than that, it appears to be a great system. Best case, I manage to talk them into giving me a 9 volt battery, and let me keep the 6 volt (I had planned in any case on eventually buying a new battery)

Or alternatively, they may give me the same discounts on the new price, which would mean a refund of essentially the cost of the bigger battery. We’ll see on Monday.

And I have to decide fairly soon whether to buy MS Office, or make due with the copy of Lotus SmartSuite that will be coming my way soon (included with the laptop).

But the big news is I now have a new laptop, with WIFI, and can start being productive outside of my house!

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Did I get a deal?

Posted by shannonclark on October 14, 2003

stay tuned, will know in a few weeks

So, since moving my office and starting to work virtually I have been shopping for a new laptop, one that will be lightweight, have a long battery life, ideally run Windows XP (possibly in as Virtual PC), and eventually likely will be running a UNIX OS to serve as a portable server.

In the course of this I have been looking at more configurations of laptops than is really reasonable, more brands, more options, more different approaches which I could take.

This afternoon I found a solution, then may have found an even better (actually possibly found two even better solutions).

The first solution that I found early this afternoon was a student at the University of Chicago who is selling a slightly (less than one year) used Sony ultraportable. It is not flawless, and would require some changes to make it work well for me (additional battery as it turns out – not cheap, and an OS upgrade which is a bit cheaper), but it would be a possible solution and would be less than $1000 which gives me some room for the rest of the items that I would need.

As I was learning just how much I would have to do to make that system work for me, I found a few options for refurbished or other special situation Mac Powerbooks. There the best I found from a dealership based on the East Coast is a system that was configured as a special system being offered at a discount of about $600 from the price of the system normally. It would have 1GB of memory, a very fast processor, a large hard disk, a writeable DVD drive (something I really don’t need) and in short would be a pretty potent and powerful system, but it is also even with the discount $2200 and to that figure I would have to add the cost of a MS Office suite + Virtual PC (and likely other additional software). So the price break not withstanding it would be a fairly expensive solution for me to consider, but it is tempting and on the more reasonable side the same store had other less costly options to consider and I have also found some used 12″ powerbooks here in Chicago (the system in question was a 15″ one).

But then, on a whim, I started looking at another alternative site for refurbished Apple laptops. As it turned out while it had a decent deal on a refurbished 17″ powerbook (nice but likley too heavy for me irregardless of how “cool” it is) on the whim I looked at what options the store had in PC laptops.

It had a Sony TR2A for pre-order, and so I did.

And there in is the possible deal, earlier today I described it to someone I love as “playing the high tech lottery a bit”. For $15 (with shipping) I may, emphasis on the may, have just bought myself a $2200+ geeks wet dream.

The TR2A is a 3.1 pound (with CDRW/DVD drive and battery) laptop capable of an estimated 7 hrs (tested at over 5hrs at least in a previous less powerful incarnation). It has a 40GB hard drive, 512MB of memory, built in wifi and even a builtin camera. In short it is a very small, very long running, and very cool laptop. Not the largest or the most powerful by any means (“only” a 1 Gig processer) but potent none-the-less. And if I do get it for $15 an absolute screaming bargain.

I do have the reciept from the online store confirming my order and the price, as well as their own email marketing (their “tell a friend”) advertising the price. A few hours after I ordered it they had corrected the listing, but as of yet I have not recieved any email from them other than the order confirmation.

The system does not get released until later this month (Oct 22nd I think) so I have a while to wait to see if I am going to get it for the unbelievable bargain. If I do, I will be buying a number of additional products – an extra battery, an upgrade to XP professional, MS Office 2003 (which will have just come out by then) and probably an extended warrentee from Sony.

But I am not going to count on it, though I suspect rather strongly that I have a case should they try to get out of delivering the goods, they sent me a confirmation email and rather clearly agreed to their price, so hopefully it will come down to them and Am Ex in the worst case.

On other news my books from Amazon arrived to today. Two that are for business and two for pleasure, adding to others I picked up already this month I have a net influx of books of over 7 and a net outflux (i.e. books I finished reading) of 1, at this rate I will have hundreds of unread books surrounding me on all sides in just a few months. So I have resolved to set aside some serious amounts of time in my schedule to start making a dent in the deep piles of books.

Next weekend, however, will not be such a time for the most part, it looks like I will have another (like this past weekend) weekend which I spend very happily with Julia. It is strange, on one level we did not do much at all this weekend, but on another that was the entire point of it, not doing much but not doing it together. A very cool and enjoyable feeling indeed.

At the moment I am listening to my birthday present from my sister a CD by the Flaming Lips, catching on some emails (a small email I sent off to a mailing list asking people’s opinions on laptops has turned into a partial Mac vs. PC debate), and contemplating pulling an all nighter to get cought up on a lot of life’s chores. Specifically I have books I want to read, a pile of laundry that needs to be done, and a house that still needs much cleaning – and the early morning hours such as now are a good time for all of the above. There are rarely many other people using the laundry room so I can take a lot of machines and use the one side loading double machine which I need to run two seperate loads of comforters through. And in between loads I can continue on my ongoing task of unboxing and cleaning up my house putting it back into some semblance of order. Especially now that the garbage strike here in Chicago has been resolved I should start throwing out a lot of random stuff (empty boxes for one starting point).

More like I think I will get a bit of reading in for a few hours the go to bed, laundry still waiting for me but much else accomplished.

All in all, a very good weekend (since Monday was a holiday, even though I did work much of the day, I am counting this morning as the beginning of the week).

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Sixth Level of Hell

Posted by shannonclark on October 13, 2003

Not that this is much of a surprise to those who know me… but amusing none the less.

The Dante’s Inferno Test has banished you to the Sixth Level of Hell – The City of Dis!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Level Score
Purgatory (Repenting Believers) Very Low
Level 1 – Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers) Very High
Level 2 (Lustful) High
Level 3 (Gluttonous) High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious) Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy) Moderate
Level 6 – The City of Dis (Heretics) Very High
Level 7 (Violent) Low
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers) Moderate
Level 9 – Cocytus (Treacherous) Low

Take the Dante Inferno Hell Test

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The Singing Detective

Posted by shannonclark on October 7, 2003

or why I really love pulp noir surrealism, but know I’m probably a minority

Tonight I saw the screening of “The Singing Detective” at the Chicago International Film Festival. The screening was sold out, but Julia and I went hoping to get tickets and lucked out by finding someone with an extra pair (thanks to the help of the staff of the film festival who kindly pointed the man out at the front of the line who had the extra pair). Tickets in hand, we proceeded to wait an hour in line for the film. Did I mention that both Robert Downey Jr. (the star of the film) and Keith Gordon the director were on hand and that before tonights screening was an interview by Richard Roeper with Robert Downey Jr., and a presentation of an award from the Film Festival to him?

I personally cannot recommend this film highly enough – I loved it.

But, I should make it clear, it is a Pulp Noir, Surrealist, Musical, Tragedy – so may not be the cup of tea for many people. Reading some reviews after seeing the film I see that critics are divided, some hating the film, many loving it, few (at least whom I have read as of yet) recognizing the Surrealist elements to the film.

Personally I thought it was pretty obvious, there were entire scenes that appeared almost lifted from “Waiting for Godot” (En Attendant pour Godot). Of course, I am a huge fan of that play and have read it in both French and English many times (one of the few, “Le Petite Prince” and Rinoceros being the others). For me, what is appealing about the film is the very interesting, visually compelling, and intellectually interesting ways in which it plays with perspective, point of view, actors, the screen, and movies and writing – all while rapped around some of my favorite framing devices, the pulp noir detective story.

The visuals are quite amazing in my opinion, sometimes graphic but also full of reoccuring importance and echoes from scene to scene. If I have any complaint about the film it is that at times it was a tad too transparent, not living up to one of the great lines of the film “I want to write stories full of clues instead of stories full of solutions” (I’m probably paraphrasing but you get the picture, the quote is in the context of writing).

While clearly Robert Downey Jr.’s performance will be the one that most people will rightfully comment on (it is quite amazing as most of his tend to be) I think that Mel Gibson’s performance is perhaps the biggest surprise for me – unlike most of the films I have seen with him in them here he plays a role into which he has both immersed himself and disguised his famous features. I truly enjoyed his performance (and unlike one critic who thought it was hard to shake the fact that it was “Mel Gibson in a bald cap”, I thought he lost himself in the role very well indeed.

This is a long film that is well worth seeking out, one I am very happy to have seen!

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Posted by shannonclark on October 1, 2003

or what you find when you start opening things

So far, a pair of slippers I had completely forgotten I owned, and mounds of trash the day that the Teamsters go on strike and cease garbage collection service for my building. What fun! 🙂

But seriously I have finished the move from hell, during which time I literally got called by an elevator repairman who had trapped himself in the elevator I needed working to complete my move! And during which time over 5 different repairpeople from that same elevator company, over the course of many days would visit the building trying mostly in vain to fix the elevator from hell.

I now have a living room full of boxes which I have begun to go through, slowly but I am making decent progress in figuring out what needs to go where and in identifying large sections of stuff which I no longer need, when this is all completed, hopefully by the end of this weekend, I will have my home in the best shape that it will ever have been in! So that is one very positive effect of all of this effort.

Tomorrow I will be mostly dealing with getting my webserver back from the dead, somehow the move crashed my system very hard, so we will have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what went wrong and fix it, I’m most seriously worried that it may have been a hacker attack of some form, which would really and truely suck.

In any case, for today I am going to nap a bit, then get back to the task on hand of going through boxes and closets and piles until I have made room for all of the new items from my office which I now have to keep here at home (and/or have found and identified items which I can either sell, donate or throw completely away. Lots of work but very satisifying as well.

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