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The occasional personal note

Happy Birthday, iMac


My iMac is celebrating its 10th birthday today. Laura and I purchased the machine on 2/3/4 and were immediately enchanted. Here’s the launch video with Jonny Ives, Phil Schiller, Annie Leibovitz, Seal, Francis Ford Coppola and a great soundtrack:

That was great, and I loved the commercials, too:

While the iMac is no longer safe to keep attached to the internet (its Power PC CPU limits it to OS X 10.4), the machine still serves in a place of honor in the workout room, powering videos and music for our workouts and serving as a backup DVD burner.

Happy 64th birthday, Joe Walsh!

Chicago Stadium

Chicago Stadium

October 22, 1979 — Chicago, IL My fellow boot camp sailors Mike Dunning and Mike Seidler and I traveled from the Great Lakes Naval Recruit Training Center to Chicago to listen to the Eagles. We wore our dress blues (“crackerjacks”), with little decoration, as we were pretty raw recruits. The concert was amazing; we had a balcony view nearly over the stage. I don’t recall a lot of details of the venue, but the Internet sure does!. Here’s the setlist [Update: see below], the locale, details of Chicago Stadium, now demolished, and more links.

Update: the setlist disappears from the Eagles fan site, but fortunately, the Internet Archive Wayback Machine remembers;



  1. Hotel California
  2. Already Gone
  3. In the City
  4. Doolin-Dalton
  5. Doolin-Dalton/Desperado (Reprise)
  6. Lyin’ Eyes
  7. I Can’t Tell You Why
  8. Desperado
  9. Heartache Tonight
  10. One of These Nights
  11. Turn to Stone
  12. Life’s Been Good
  13. Life in the Fast Lane
  14. Rocky Mountain Way
  15. Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks

The Last of the Cockers of Contoocook

Picture of the late Max

Max supervising the office from his window bench

We said goodbye to an old friend this morning. Max lived to the grand old age of 15½, a hundred and eight in people years. He was the last of the Cockers of Contoocook:

In fifteen and a half years, Max accumulated a fair share of stories. He was a whiz at attention classes, getting clicker training almost immediately. In dog agility, he was wickedly fast on the ‘dogwalk’ but never got the weave poles. Ted mistakenly messed with his food one day and got a valuable lesson in dog handling, along with four stitches. Max was a regular at the veterinarian, where he more than once was the subject of back-office chatter. He survived and rebounded from a splenectomy, multiple lumpectomies, the mange, and an emergency surgery or two.

He was a character. He was always a wilful dog, but with a good heart. He stoutly defended his house, his yard and his people against all possible threats, be it the UPS man or the boy cutting through the backyard on his bicycle. He enjoyed his walks in the park.

Max lived well. We are better for having known him, and we shall miss him.

The Web is about People, if we let it be

I was recently contacted by a company interested in having me consult on their development efforts. As I usually do, I did some background research to figure out who they are and what they do. I was appalled: their web site is one of tens of thousands of generic business sites, pretty but empty. All the buzzterms were there, the generic stock photos of the properly demographically-disparate team meetings, leaning over shiny laptops not wired to anything and pointing to pie charts with no labels. The ‘About Us’ page is filled with slogans and buzz words on how awesome “the team” was, without the single mention of who the team is.  The “Contact Us” page is a generic web-based form, with direct links to “” or “” Want a job? or

What is it “About Us” you don’t understand? If you have a link saying “Who We Are,” you had better be ready to name names. Who are these people and what are they hiding? There’s no excuse for a web site like this. Are these people in the witness protection program? Do these people stand behind what they build? There’s no reputation to worry about losing because they never tell you who they are.

You can have the stiff corporate “Who We Are” of black and white pictures of the “Leadership Team” in suits, “Our Advisors” to name-drop your VCs or Directors, or a more playful site of caricatures and off-beat bios. Kudos go to the sites that include your Twitter and Github accounts, and let folks share their passion for mountain biking, marathons or matchbook collecting. But denying there are people behind your web storefront tells me you’re not proud of who you are, you’re uncomfortable putting yourself out there, or you’ve got something to hide.

And that’s the real problem with a “Who We Are” site like this: the publishers are telling us much more about themselves than they intend. In a customer-facing industry where personal service and attention is a key determinant in the success of the project, they’re stating they are not comfortable with that level of contact.

Food for thought.

[OT] Hitler, Apple, Gates and Godwin’s Law

Perhaps there is a corollary (if not, let’s coin Roche’s Rule) to Godwin’s Law — briefly, that any discussion is practically over when it degenerates to metaphors of Naziism — that those who call off Godwin are in turn berated as thread police, censors, infringers on some divine human right to drag threads off topic and, yes, with all the irony involved, Nazis. In this response, I make the foolish mistake of not ignoring the troll bait. I am as guilty of overreacting as the hyperbole used by the original poster to compare Apple with Hitler.

Hitler burned, gassed, tortured, shot seven million Jews in concentration camps. Millions more, of all faiths, died defeating him.

The late Steve Jobs charged premium dollars (and sometimes outrageous fees!) to keep his company out there and competing in the tough markets of computers and software. Apple makes beautiful industrial design, often as impractical as Lamborghinis. They sell DRM-crippled music. They have pushed the envelope of consumer computing, much as Microsoft “innovated” back in the days when they had competition. Apple has sold a billion songs. I admire and respect Jobs, as an empire builder, like Gates and Olsen and Carnegie before him, but I don’t spend the money to buy many of his products, as I’m cheap. I have philosophical differences with Apple, too, but I’d probably buy an iPhone if I hit the lottery. They’re shiny. But, unlike some, I’m not betting my business on them.

Microsoft’s behavior has often been as outrageous as Apples, having been pulled into court a few times, regularly making their large corporate customers buy computers with Windows pre-installed and then pay again and again for licenses to run their OS, access their machines remotely, or run software on them, switching their license fees and terms and dropping products that are near and dear to all of our hearts. I’m not ABM as much as preferring what works best. Windows DirectX is supposed to be a good gaming platform. I hear XBoxes are great for Netflix. I use a Microsoft keyboard and mouse. I happen to think that Microsoft Windows on the desktop is here to stay, even with the incredible drag it puts on businesses with malware problems, poor performance and high cost. I do not, however, think that “the desktop” is here to stay, as a metaphor for people to do their business, and I look forward to Microsoft’s stranglehold on their clients breaking with some Next Big Thing. Off the desktop, I really don’t see Microsoft having contributed that much to the state of computing through their many (many, many) acquisitions. I prefer other brands for networking, server OSes, database servers, programming languages and technologies, not through some blind hatred as much as hard-earned experience. But that’s off-topic…

[The poster who tripped Godwin’s Law…] ‘s post doesn’t have much to do with the topic of the thread, Linux, and is a really offensive comparison to some of us. Hitler and Naziism was one of the most horrific incidents of modern history and to minimize it by comparing it to shiny overpriced phones dehumanizes us all. Gates is not Idi Amin. The cellphone landscape does not resemble Dafur. Let’s get some perspective here, people.

There’s a difference between policing a thread, trying to manage to stay on topic, and censorship. I invoked Godwin’s Law to point out that the thread has likely run its course. You’re free to say what you want. I’m free to point out you’re off-topic.

So, if you want to keep on-topic on the “Linux Desktop Thread” I have some insight and informed opinions on the matter, having run Linux as my desktop for six years now, supporting a half-dozen clients with LAMP boxes in their offices, and developed some dozen or more LAMP applications. If you want to go off-kilter onto iPhones and Google as “liars and thieves,” why don’t you go start your own thread?

(Full disclosure: as I’ve mentioned before [], I purchased a tiny bit of Apple stock a long time ago. It’s now worth a lot more than I paid for it, through no fault nor skill of mine. I also own tiny bits of Red Hat, HP and Microsoft. They’re still tiny. I don’t think this influences my opinion all that much, but I let my possible biases be known.)

Ideas worth repeating

“We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.”

President Barack Obama, 20 Jan 2009

“They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.”

Benjamin Franklin, 1775

Electrician’s Mate “A” School class 8017-B

U.S. Navy Electrician's Mate "A" School class 8017-BA fellow LinkedIn member asked me recently if we’d gone to Electrian’s school together, as we’d graduated in the same class from Naval Nuclear Power School. I didn’t recall his name, but it prompted me to dig around in the archives and pull up this photo. (clicking the picture will yield a 1.2 Mb PNG)

Getting Stuff Organized

This next month, I’ll be flipping the calendar page to 2009 to schedule the next month’s work. I’ve been using a “desk-size” Day Runner – 5½” x 8½”, conveniently half a US Letter sized sheet – for fifteen years. I’ve got one of the older 3-ring models, and lots of the cool accessories: zip pouches, business card holders, etc., but I’ve bought the calendar refills each year. I’ve also printed some pages for myself: some grid pages using DOS-characters and FoxPro/DOS, dumps of my contacts, etc. But I’ve kept DayTimer and other vendors busy printing.

This year, I came across a great site,, with some great templates to use. The host developed a set of templates, now up to version 3.0, released under Creative Commons, an nearly 80 pages of clever templates. Many other have contributed templates, graphics, word processing documents and executables to generate some really professionally-finished pages. Supporters of Getting Things Done, Hipster, the Covey plans and the other organizing techniques seem to be getting along pretty civilly, and have posted a number of interesting articles. If you’re a fan of systematic ways of doing things (and that seems to be a common trait amongst the computer nerds), check out

LifeHacker: Clutter: Celebrate Discardia Starting Today (3/19)

Here’s a holiday season I can get behind! Over at Lifehacker a few days ago, they posted: Clutter: Celebrate Discardia Starting Today

If you ve been putting off doing a good spring cleaning today s the day to bite the bullet March 19th marks the start of “Discardia ” the time of year for you to clean out the old to make room for the new. This five-year-old holiday occurs between the Solistices and Equinoxes today till April 5th this year and its creator describes it thusly:

It makes spring cleaning feel so much more… righteous.

Comment is free: Space cadets

Dan Kennedy writes in Comment is free: Space cadets, “Is seeing a UFO any more crazy than believing God created the universe in six days? It is if you are running to be president of the United States.” Go, Dan!

I have seen things in the skies I could not identify. I’ve seen meteors and comets and planets and even satellites I could identify, but I’m not an expert in astronomics nor aeronautics, so I have seen objects that may have been flying that I could not identify. I haven’t seen Elvis, and I haven’t communicated with little green men. That’s crazy talk. Which is crazier: Charles Darwin or X-Files? I’ve got that all sorted out, thanks.

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.