Red Echo

December 31, 2012

End of year

It wasn’t a particularly great year, but it wasn’t bad, either.

I have some challenges to deal with in 2013, but I have the resources I need to tackle them.

I have what I think will turn out to be a very good job. It will never make me a rock star, but it’s interesting work with smart, talented people, and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot. It’s a good place to be.

ALTSpace is running smoothly. It isn’t exactly what I had hoped for, but in some ways it’s better. It’s a great shared workshop: in 2013 I hope to make it a good community gathering place, too.

I don’t really know where I want my life to go. I knew exactly what I wanted when I left Real Software in 2008, but that dream is dead and I’m not sure where the pieces went. I know what I want to do in 2013, more or less, but beyond that I have no idea. I’ll spend some time thinking about this over the next couple of months.

December 28, 2012

Cabin relaxin’

December 27, 2012

Playing in the snow

December 26, 2012

Christmas dinner

Christmas morning

December 25, 2012

Hanging out at the cabin

Driving up to Tahoe

December 23, 2012


We have done no Christmas-season decorating here at the House of Saxman and it feels a little weird that the Big Holiday itself is just a couple days away. Still, yesterday was the burner-triangle neighborhood Christmas Crawl, and we’re driving down to California tomorrow, so holiday-time it must be.

My unusually large immediate family have all rented a cabin together up near Lake Tahoe. We’ll be piling in for three days with all of our significant others. Since many of us now have second families to celebrate with, the big family gathering is rolled back a day late.

We’re all chipping in one dish or another for the various meals. I just finished stemming and stuffing five and a half pounds of mushrooms – one batch with crab and green onion, the other with spinach and herbs. Such an amazing pile of food! It’d keep Ava and me satisfied for a week, but it’s just one side dish for one dinner for the whole group.

Well, I’ve done this drive more times than I can remember, so I’m sure it’ll go by quickly. I probably won’t post much until New Year’s, so… hope you’re all having a good holiday yourselves, and I’ll see you in 2013.

December 18, 2012

Mumford & Sons – White Blank Page

Chills. The ache in his throat, the climbing roar of the mixed voices…

December 17, 2012

Grr Facebook

My social life has been a bit thin of late. To some degree I think this is just the usual thing that happens to people in the full swing of adulthood – my friends are mostly all paired up now and a surprising number are having kids. That’s been going on for years but it seems to have become more the norm than the exception, and perhaps the critical mass necessary to sustain a lively communal culture has been lost as people dig in to their more private family activities.

But I have also developed an increasing suspicion that blame for the apparent social silence can be laid at the feet of Facebook. I suspect that it has reached its own critical mass, where people are now so used to using it, and so used to finding all or nearly all of their friends there, that they have to some degree forgotten that there are people Facebook cannot reach. Perhaps us non-Facebookers are now such a small minority that one really can get away with forgetting to keep us in the loop.

How can you measure the number of parties or dinners or random let’s-go-to-the-arboretum-for-a-picnic events that you haven’t been invited to? How do I know whether they’re not happening, or they’re happening, and I’m not being invited because I’m not on facebook, or they’re happening, and I’m not being invited because nobody likes me anymore? Do I need to find new friends, or do I just need to poke the ones I already have and remind them to tell me what’s going on?

Ava learned today that one of her best friends is getting married in a few weeks and had neglected to invite her. Why? Because they sent the invitations out on Facebook, and Ava doesn’t have an account. Yes, yes, there was apparently a postscript offering to send out paper invitations to anyone who wanted one, but… you still had to be on Facebook to notice it. All the planning, all the messages, all the conversation has apparently been happening on Facebook. Ava didn’t know it was going on, so she didn’t ask about it, and everyone else was so used to everyone being on Facebook that they didn’t notice she wasn’t on the list.

I don’t like this. One company should not own the infrastructure for our social lives – especially not a company as greedy, intrusive, and all-around antidemocratic as Facebook. But who’s going to stop them now? Replacing Facebook with G+ would be just as bad, really: the problem is not Facebook itself, but the fact that we’ve lost the old, open, interactive web as everyone has piled into Facebook’s walled garden. Everyone used to complain about evite, but at least you could see an evite invitation when someone mailed it to you! With Facebook, you can either join up and sign your life story over to Mark Zuckerberg, or you get nothing. This is not okay.

It’s hard to imagine a way to solve this problem. When will we reach the point that not having a facebook account makes you an unreachable crank? Imagine how we’d feel about someone under the age of 40 with no cell phone in 2012 – when will society at large feel that way about people with no facebook account? Have we already reached that point? I certainly hope not, but the trends I see are curving toward that future and not away from it.

December 14, 2012

So cold this morning. I rode in wearing a fleece jacket under my thinsulate-lined leather bike jacket and I still felt the cold air trickling in any time I didn’t hold my chest just right so the collar line was pressed against my neck. Wow.

The pair of Headway cells I ordered showed up yesterday, and test-fitting them in the electric motorcycle frame shows that the layout will work pretty much exactly as I hoped. Some time in another couple of months I’ll make a bracket which will place the motor right about where the old gas engine’s transmission used to sit, then I’ll fill the rest of the engine bay with stacks of these batteries.

Maybe I’ll spend a couple of hours working on the polartec lining for my ski jacket tomorrow. It’d be nice to have my ski gear all set and ready for whenever I get a chance to hit the slopes.

December 4, 2012

Running Ubuntu on a Chromebook

The Samsung Chromebook is a full-sized, ARM-based laptop with 2GB RAM and 16GB flash storage, which costs only $249. A cheap, power-efficient netbook with a big screen? Cool! Now if only there were some way to run a normal operating system on it

I got Ubuntu installed on my ARM Chromebook tonight. Here’s a messy brain dump of what I did. The system was already in devmode when I started (see for info on how to achieve that). I also already had a tarball of an Ubuntu filesystem, created with the “rootstock” tool. [edit: you can use the distributed ubuntu-core tarball directly from ubuntu as well, and then install additional packages on top]

Get an SD card, insert it in a reader on your Ubuntu PC…