Where’s the Microphone?

So my wife uses her iPod Touch as a tuner/metronome. She had to buy a small microphone because her Touch didn’t have one, leading to the following conversation:

Kristen: Where’s my microphone?
Becca: I don’t know.
Kristen: Becca, you took it out. I told you to put it back.
Abby: It’s in the living room.
Kristen: Where is it in the living room?
Becca: I don’t know. I didn’t mean to throw it at Abby’s head!

We have not yet found the microphone.

Kentwood Water Tower Followup

So just for the record, some links about Ed’s experience photographing the Kentwood water tower.

The original Grand Rapids Press article about it.

Blog reactions:
Here’s my reaction.
Boy with Grenade
NYC Photo Rights
Stormy Webber
The Lonely Goth’s Guide to Independent Catholicism
US Message Board
Topsy’s Twitter Trackbacks
Canon Digital Photography Forums
Boing Boing
Reddit: 1 2, 3, 4
Also on Reddit, the picture that got Ed in trouble.
Flickr Group: Photography is Not a Crime
Slashdot: I submitted this one. Vote it up.
Mark Maynard: There’s a reference near the end of the post.
The Grand Rapids Flickr group

UPDATE 9/28/10: A couple more…
Urban Planet
Also mentioned in the show notes for No Agenda, the Adam Curry/John Dvorak podcast show, but not in the actual show.
Photography is Not a Crime
Bizarre Confessions

UPDATE 9/29/10:
Commonplace Book

UPDATE 9/30/10:
Todd Boss
What’s Pissed Me Off
Truth and Justice For All
: Warning–includes nudes.

UPDATE 10/9/10:
Network World

Personally, I think it’d be extremely funny if someone were to organize a group of people to photograph the water tower — say about 500 people, all of them wearing name tags.

That’s to make it convenient for the police who would presumably be coming to take their names.


So I don’t know if you keep track of this sort of thing, but there’s apparently some kind of hack that works on older WordPress installations that allows people to put whatever they want into the spot where Google reads the title from.

As such, for the last little while, my blog could be found under searches for phentermin and zoloft.

I have no idea what’s up with that.

Digital TV

So here’s something strange…

Today was the first day of all digital TV. No more analog TV. It’s gone.

I was at the local public access cable station last year and ended up talking to one of the employees about the upcoming switch and he pointed to an old black and white TV (that probably dated to the 1950’s) that they had in the office. He noted that it had been able to interpret TV signals from the beginning and would up until the switchover date and after that, never again.

For most people of course, the switchover doesn’t really matter. Most people have cable or satellite TV. For the other 13% of the country, it does.

I’m a member of that 13%.

Aside from a brief period in which I got 400+ channels for free as a result of trying AT&T U-verse, I’ve gone broadcast for my entire married life as well as a few months of my childhood.

Thus, when I heard about the digital switchover I was interested.

We got our digital converter box more or less immediately after receiving our government rebate on it. Full of anticipation, I tried it out as soon as I got it.

It worked, but I got a total of about two stations clearly and the rest were unwatchable.

That cooled my anticipation considerably.

I went back to analog, figuring that I’d enjoy it while it lasted.

Then came the first switchover date. Before Congress decided to move things back, I checked things out again.

It was worse. Almost nothing came through. I may have gotten one channel clearly enough to watch.

I changed back again, deciding to enjoy it while it lasted.

Thus, with no anticipation and a mental shrug of my shoulders, I switched yesterday, figuring that I might as well find out how bad it would be.

I was shocked.

I got eleven channels — all the local stations only now with multiple channels. Plus, I’ve always had rather static-filled TV reception in the past, but now I have pictures with no noticeable static at all.

The only station I appear to have lost completely is channel 54, and I don’t feel bad about that at all.

It’s bizarre. I’d never have expected it to result in anything resembling an improvement.

How Not to Rest on the Weekend…

It’s actually very simple to arrange. Sign up to do too much stuff.

On Saturday:
1. Kristen went to flute choir while I watched kids, wrote and tried to get them dressed to go pick up groceries.
2. By the time we finished with groceries, Kristen got back and I ran off to work on someones’ computer/dsl problem. Meanwhile Kristen attempted to clean up the house.
3. When I came back, I started supper for the seven people coming over that night.
4. Meanwhile Kristen brought kids to her mom’s.
5. When she came back, she cleaned some more…
6. And people arrived and then we actually had supper.
7. And then went to pick up kids from her mom’s.

On Sunday, we:
1. Went to church, trying (but failing) to arrive early because kids dance as part of the service.
2. Prepared food for a potluck for a church small group.
3. Kristen dropped off Becca at another kid’s birthday party…
4. And joined me (and Abby) at the potluck.
5. Except she ended up leaving early to pick Becca up from the party.
6. And I drove Abby back from the potluck…
7. Meeting at home to go to church for a visit with our church elder.
8. After that, we went home.


I wonder if we can do better next weekend?

The Computer is Dead, Long Live the Computer

So here’s how to waste time for a week…

On Monday we had a thunderstorm and we shut off our computers because we didn’t want them to get destroyed via electrical surges. All well and good, but my regular computer (it runs FreeBSD) didn’t come back on after the storm had past.

It hadn’t been destroyed by lightning. We’d actually been having trouble with it for a while. Basically the only way to get it to turn on after turning it off was to let it sit for bit after turning it on. Then after you rebooted it, it would spontaneously boot the operating system.

This time that didn’t work.

So, on Friday I bought a new computer.

Friday night turned out to be a hellish experience. Here’s why: I intended to install either Linux or FreeBSD on the computer. Neither worked.

It took me several attempts to realize that the DVD writer on our other (Windows XP) computer had issues. After that, I installed XP temporarily on the new computer, used it’s DVD writer to burn DVD’s of Ubuntu and PC-BSD (a user oriented distribution of FreeBSD), and decided to keep whichever of the two installed most easily.

PC-BSD gave me a workable resolution for my video, detected the sound card, and failed to detect the network adapter.

Ubuntu Linux gave me an unworkable resolution (800 x 600), failed to detect the sound card, and inconsistently detected the network adapter. It also didn’t allow me to install the Nvidia drivers that would probably have allowed me to use the video card effectively.

I ended up sticking with PC-BSD and scavenging the network adapter from the dead computer.

Now everything works.

Well, sort of. I’m still tempted to buy a separate video card for the computer, allowing me a better resolution and the use of Google Earth (a package for PC-BSD…).

Next up, I plan to install all the applications that make me comfortable on a computer.


So for the last while, I’ve essentially had two jobs. First of all, I worked for GRACE, a non-profit devoted to bringing the faith community together to work on social problems. Second, I’ve been self-employed.

Honestly, I’ve thought of myself as self-employed first of all for a while now. My income from self-employment has regularly equaled or exceeded my income from GRACE. Also, I’ve sometimes found that my employment at GRACE has interfered with my ability to respond to my clients as quickly as I want to. Thus, for the last few months, I’ve been wondering when or if I should quit GRACE and concentrate on technical support and web development (programming and web hosting) full time.

I’ve had a little hesitation about doing so, however. Largely it’s because being fully self-employed scares me a little. I’ve enjoyed knowing that I would get paid for something even if my business work wasn’t coming through.

Here’s the thing though… My self-employed work has never slowed down. At the moment, I have projects lined up for at least two weeks worth of work (full time) and that doesn’t include the unanticipated random emergency interruptions that typically occur.

Thus, two weeks ago I ended up leaving GRACE.

I wish I could say that it was due to my own choice. As things happened, I was laid off. GRACE just became smaller by one person with an idea towards saving money. It’s a good thing for the organization, but a little frightening for me. I wouldn’t have chosen this moment to go because my wife left her job in December and just started a new one. Also, of course, we’re currently in the middle of the worst economy in years.

I like security, I guess.

Well, it’s a moot point now. I’m fully self-employed.

Now to start seriously thinking about how to build a business.

Back from the Dead

Recently my wife told me that I “never write in my blog.”

She’s right about that. Mostly. I have written stuff sort of recently. Well, I wrote something in November of last year. That was only um… three months or so ago. That’s recent. More recent than my last dentist appointment anyway.

Most of my “writing for the internet” time has been spent with my fiction blog which is currently being using to tell the story of Nick, a teenager who ends up being a superhero more because of peer pressure than any other reason.

I’ve also ended up using twitter and Facebook more than I’d thought possible.

I originally started using twitter purely for the purpose of posting when my story got updated. I’d seen a number of webcomic and web serial writers using them for that reason and it seemed to work pretty well. Then something changed. A number of web serial writers connected with Web Fiction Guide started using it for personal purposes. Now I use it to let people know about updates, but also to comment on my life.

Facebook: I got into Facebook largely because it seemed like everyone I knew suddenly had a Facebook account. I’m still not completely sure what to think about it. It’s been very cool in that I’ve suddenly become aware of the lives of people I hadn’t seen in years. Many of them are from high school. Surprisingly few of my friends from college are on Facebook.

So far though, it seems as though I’m meeting a bunch of people I hadn’t known before through Twitter and reconnecting with people I already knew through Facebook.

I’m not sure if that’s most people’s experience, but that’s how things have happened for me.

In the meantime, I’m tempted to refocus this blog. I’m not sure what I’d refocus it to, but I’m tempted to do it anyway.

It may be that I’ll focus it on whatever happens to appear once I actually start writing regularly in it again.

That sounds like a good idea.

Life, the Universe and Everything

This blog has been highly neglected lately. That’s unfortunate because I really do enjoy writing in it and have things to say.

If you’ve been wondering waiting for me to update and wondering why, the primary reason is my story blog (link to to be found along the side). Secondarily, you can also blame my related duties as an editor of Web Fiction Guide, a website that lists and reviews free online novels and serials.

Between the two of them, they take up the time that I would ordinarily use to write blog entries.

Which sucks.

On the bright side, I’m producing 2000+ words of fiction on a regular basis on the story blog so I am happy about that.

Outside of that, I’m looking for interesting programming projects (as in not work related, ones that I’d find fun for their own sake) to improve that area of knowledge.

Also, Kristen (my wife) is looking for a new job. If you want to hear more about that, I’d talk to her (or to me by email), but I’m not going to write too much about that here. If you want to help, let us know if you know of a place that’s looking for a social worker.

Umm… What else to say? Here’s one: Even though Obama wasn’t my first choice during the primaries, I was quite happy to vote for the guy and am happily surprised to watch how he’s handling the transition so far. Hopefully, that’ll carry over to the actual presidency.