Interesting contrast…

David DarlingI was just listening to a song from David Darling & The Wulu Bunun’s Mudanin Kata album, and it was then – as part of iTunes shuffle – succeeded by a Radiohead song.

Very similar sounds, but very different sources. Both atmospheric and lulling, but in different ways.

Darling, with his cello and local groups (in this case, the Wulu Bunun people of Taiwan), is very lush and real.

Radiohead is more stoner/techno.

Yet they are remarkably the same. Interesting. *shrug* To me…

Thanks, iTunes shuffle! One of the unknown (at launch) benefits of same.

Vapid HuffPo article


The death of Amy Winehouse over the weekend was, unfortunately, really no surprise. There’s an autopsy scheduled for today, and if the cause of death is not in some way drug-related, well, the Vegas oddsmakers just took a hit. (Update 8/23: Only alcohol in her system; that’s a surprise.)

This is not to make light of her life or death – rather, it’s just to set the stage for an odious article that ran in the Huffington Post about Winehouse. Posted Sunday, July 24, 2011, the article is titled “Amy Winehouse’s Untimely Death Is a Wake Up Call for Small Business Owners.”


The author, one Tricia Fox, is touted as an Award Winning Entrepreneur & Marketer. OK…and what does Ms. Fox have to say about Amy Winehouse?

It would be terribly remiss of me not to blog about the untimely death of the 27 year-old British singer Amy Winehouse today.

Unlike others, I won’t be picking apart her chosen lifestyle, nor will I be judging her.

The article then goes into detail about how the choices Winehouse made hurt her “brand” – in other word, Fox is judging her. Not as a person, but as a brand.

Again, WTF?

And performance artists and their brand are tightly intertwined the way other artists are not. Faulkner and Hemingway were famous drunks, but that was between them and their typewriters. The books stand alone.

And why would Fox be remiss if she didn’t blog about Winehouse’s death? I’m at a loss.

The Huffington Post gets a lot of flack for not paying for all of its articles, but I can only hope this is one that came without compensation. Just sleazy and self-serving. I am breathlessly awaiting Fox’s next article explaining the lessons for entrepreneurs from the recent bombings/shootings in Oslo.

Postscript: Someone sent me a link to the Gawker article that shows even more contempt for Fox’s article than I do. When is making fun of you, you’ve gone round the bend…

The Backup Plan

Starring: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh

With Church’s wedding coming up, the divorced Giamatti – a vinophile – decides to take the groom-to-be for a tour of the wine country in Southern California.

However, once the trip begins, it’s apparent that Church has a very different idea of what this last getaway will entail. He just wants to party; Giamatti just wants to drink.

Church is the guy who really doesn’t have a lot going for him – he’s an ex-soap actor who is now reduced to doing commercial voice-overs. Yet he always lands on his feet – he’s coated in Teflon.

Giamatti the the exact opposite: An English teacher pretending to be a writer (who can’t get his book published), divorced, he is really just a wine lover to give himself an excuse to drink. He stops by to visit his mother just so he can steal money from her.

I re-watched Sideways this weekend, and I remembered it as funnier. It does have some great comedic moments, but overall this is a very sad movie.

In one of the best scenes in the movies, Giamatti explains to Madsen why he loves pinot noir, and as he discusses the grape etc, you realize he’s not talking about the wine/grape, he’s talking about himself. Very poignant.

All movies

No, not the crappy Jennifer Lopez movie.

It’s about finally getting around to rewriting some backup scripts on my home boxes, so if a hard drive does go down, it’s only a little painful.

I have – mainly – two Linux boxes and a Windows machine. The latter is my primary box for work; the Linux boxes are servers and used to host local versions of my web sites (development environments), as well as a host of homegrown tools I’ve built over the years to help populate my web sites and so on.

I’ve had backup scripts in place for a decade, but I really haven’t revisited them for some time.

This week, I spent some time deleting some scripts, modifying others and creating new scripts. All to reflect how my environments have changed over the years.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Windows box:

  • There are two areas of this box – photos and documents – that need backing up. Two scripts, each with the same basic algorithm:
    • FTP to backup folder on Linux box
    • FTP all appropriate files (i.e., for photos, .jpg, .jpeg, .gif, .png, .psd etc.) to this backup folder.
    • Using those same file-type params, zip into a file.
    • Delete all non-zip files.
    • Get list of all zip files, ordered by date descending. Keep first 10 zips; delete any others.
  • This could work for X areas; same concept, just change directories and and so on.

Linux boxes

  • On each Linux box, there are multiple directories and a mySql database to backup. The backups I perform use the first Linux box as backup for the second, and vice-versa: Data swap
  • mySql backup – Here my concern is just restoring the DB if the hard drive goes south. History is not an issue.
    • On first Linux box, hotcopy all files to a mysqlbak directory.
    • FTP into second Linux box; loop over databases and copy all files from mysqlbak to remote mysqlbak-firstbox directory.
  • Document directories – there are a handful of directories that I want backed up each day, including those directories that hold tools, web roots and so on. For each the process is the same:
    • Tar up given directory to YYYY-MM-DD-[backup name].tar
    • Gzip this tar
    • FTP this GZ to appropriate directory on Windows box (larger drive; also has RAID).
    • Loop over GZ files in this Windows directory, keep last X .gz files.

Is this a lot of work for something I might never need?


Will it be worth it if I have to recover something – even once?


One part of my backup scheme that I tested this time was something inspired by a guy named Boris whom I once worked with. He said something like, “You don’t need backup, you need recovery.” I.e., you can have all the backups in the world, but if you can’t recover them, well, what good are they? Sage advice; I’ve worked at more than one place with backups that…could not be recovered. Ouch.

So I wrote some test scripts to “recover” my data. (Docs and databases)

Damn. It all worked.

Perfect system? Nah.

But better than I had before: More robust, more redundant and I can now sleep knowing that what I have backed up can be recovered.

Hey, this internet thing might just catch on

Allthingsd had an interesting article recently detailing how big the internet is and how it’s growing: Cisco Reminds Us Once Again How Big the Internet Is, and How Big It’s Getting.

The article is based on an infographic produced by Cisco detailing some info about the internet past, present and future.

It’s worth looking at, but one nugget in the graphic – if true – just blows me away.

Cisco says that by the end of 2011 – this year – 20 average households will generate more internet traffic than the entire internet … in 2008.

That’s just frickin’ amazing. The internet was pretty robust in 2008 – 20 households = everyone’s traffic!?

Debt ceiling craziness

OK, there’s plenty of over-the-top rhetoric on both sides of the aisle with regard to raising the debt ceiling, what Democrats should/shouldn’t give up to get it raised and so on.

But today’s Erick Erickson’s column at is just blisteringly vile.

He’s advocating that Republicans don’t blink, to stay in the game to try to get as much as possible out of the negotiations. OK, that’s a valid point of view.

But his premise is just, well, partisan idiocy.

Now is a time for choosing. Now is your time for choosing. As I pointed out to John Boehner yesterday, despite what the pundits in Washington are telling you, it is you and not Obama who hold most of the cards. Obama has a legacy to worry about. Should the United States lose its bond rating, it will be called the “Obama Depression”. Congress does not get pinned with this stuff.

Dear House Republicans, This is Your “Time For Choosing”

He’s advocating playing a game of chicken with the economy – which he admits may send us into a depression – because Republicans won’t get blamed for the depression if that does occur.

How craven is that?

Sure, potentially crater the economy, have unemployment soar, risk a global meltdown, hurt untold millions of Amercians – no biggie, ’cause we won’t get blamed for it!


Update: Steve Benen weighs in:

But [Erickson’s assumption that the White House will get most of the blame is] not what’s important here. Indeed, the notion that elected officials should choose, or at least risk, a depression on purpose, based solely on their expectations about blame, is among the more offensive things I’ve seen from the right in this entire debate.

What actually matters is that Americans will suffer. The economy will get worse. The standing, credibility, and stability of the United States will be negatively affected immediately and for years to come. All of this can be easily avoided.

That’s what matters. Not polls, not spin, not which soundbite resonates. The principal concern should be over whether the public is forced to endure pain in order to satisfy the ideological whims of madmen who don’t belong in public office, but who nevertheless yield enormous power over our collective future.

In 18 days, blame will be the least of our troubles


OK, Google+ is the shiny new tech tool out there that all the kids are talking about.

I finally got an invite (thanks A.B!), and last night was the first time I fired it up.

I understand that the Google+ of today is probably a work in progress – so is Facebook, but Google+ in a different way. They’re just rolling it out; some missing features are probably already written and are just waiting for complaints/comments to roll in and stress testing to complete.

That said, first impressions are important; here are my first impressions of Google+:

  • This is not a different type of social media (as is the case with Facebook and Twitter). This is pretty much a Facebook clone. Don’t believe me? See the screenshots below – just different skins and some rearranging, for the most part. If you are familiar with Facebook, you can easily use Google+.
  • Dueling media

  • Right now, there are not a lot of people on Google+ – Google’s doing the slow roll out so there are as few “Fail Whale” Twitter outages as possible. Good idea. But since there aren’t many people on the service – and so few of my friends – it’s tough to get a real feel for the flexibility and robustness of the site. Yeah, I know, be patient.
  • The Circle feature is brilliant. Basically, a circle is a bucket into which you add a friend. Relatives, Friends, Workmates – build your own buckets, and put people in one (or more). In that way, when you post/share, you can target only people in whatever bucket(s) you want. People at work might want to know that I’m messing with Google+; relatives won’t. Relatives would want to hear about the niece’s birthday party; workmates won’t. It’s brilliant. And the drag-and-drop interface to adding friends is HTML5 sexy. Very slick.
  • Hangouts is another outstanding feature that kicks Facebook’s ass all over the place. It allow video chat (via your webcam) with more than one person right in your browser. It’s free video conferencing. I believe the Facebook/Skype agreement allows video chat, but only one-on-one. Very interesting feature – but, from the little I’ve played with it, the least polished.
  • On Facebook, it’s the News Feed (the Wall on your profile); on Google+ it’s the Stream. And on Google+, you can switch between viewing everyone’s posts in the stream or filter to view only posts for one Circle. Currently, you can only filter by one Circle – you can’t view College Friends and Workmates at the same time. I expect this to change moving forward.
  • Sparks are areas of interest (movies, cycling and so on). They are populated with articles, but it’s unclear to me how that data gets there. For example, I selected the Movie area in Sparks, and there are headlines/blurbs with links to, YouTube and so on. Who’s curating these areas? It’s really not spelled out here. I’m guessing it keys off the (fairly) recent “+1” button from Google, which mimics Facebook’s “Like” button. But if that’s the case, how does Google classify a +1 click? How does it know it’s a tech or movie article/YouTube clip? Some of it could be site-specific, such as all articles from TechCruch are tech, but what about movie reviews from CNN? I just don’t know. Oddly, I don’t see the +1 button in the wild right now. I wonder if it’s overwhelming Google, or they’re doing something with it so they have just turned it off. Hmm…
  • I really don’t have anything of interest with regard to Google+’s privacy. Seems to be structured a little better than Facebook’s, but I didn’t pay that much attention to it. Could suck; could be pretty damn good (feels like the latter).

OK, that’s my initial reactions. It’s a very well made site, very intuitive, and the Circles concept it so obvious it’s a wonder it’s never been used before in a social networking site (or has it?).

I guess the real question is the following: Will people use it?

I don’t see Google+ as a threat to Twitter at all, but it’s a full-on salvo at Facebook.

But Facebook has 700 million+ users. Are these users going to throw away years of postings on Facebook to jump to Google+? Doubtful. Will many users maintain both accounts? Sure. But at the end of the day, both sites are so similar that one will, inevitably, be posting – for the most part – on just one.

Which one will that be?

I guess we’ll have to see how Google+ evolves and if it gives users a compelling reason to make Google’s offering a user’s primary social media site (for this type of social media).

At the same time, this’ll keep up the heat on Facebook to continue to evolve and give its millions of users a compelling reason to stay put for the most part.

One final thought: If Google were to buy Twitter and somehow embed that in Google+, that would be compelling. Google’s got the money, but Twitter doesn’t seem too interested in selling.

Still, that would be a juggernaut!

Microsoft – Still evil after all these years

Windows 7So, I have a backup box running Microsoft (MS) Windows 7. Yesterday, I installed the first service pack for the OS. No biggie.

The first time I fired up the Windows Media Player, however, things got odd.

The service pack must have updated the player (I can’t find the version – there is no “about” link), so I had to again agree to use this as default for videos/music etc.

*Sigh* – but, again, no biggie.

But the default option – selected – included sending song/music info to Microsoft. FAIL!The custom setup (that I chose, of course), had sending music/video to Microsoft checked as default. The notes said the info would not be associated with me blah blah (wish I had taken a screen shot; I can’t replicate the preferences), but yeah. Want to bet?

You think at some point MS will get a subpena from the RIAA, the MPAA or the police, and suddenly what I’ve listened to/watch will go through this filter, and I might get nailed. And I could get nailed by mistake – the checksum of some video/song I played matches that of a piece that is, in some way, illegal (pirated, for example). If that happens, at the end of a legal battle I can’t win, the worse-case scenario for the subpena wielders is they go, “Whoops. Our bad.”

But my reputation and bank account will have been trashed at that point.

I don’t pirate music/video, and I understand MS’s reason for wanting to collect this info – to see how the player is being used so they can put their efforts for the next version in the places it will matter.

But make that data collection opt-in, not opt-out.

That’s just evil.

Evil Deux: Let’s gaze upon these nuggets from an MG Siegler techcrunch article: Microsoft’s Android Plan: Evil Genius Or Just Evil?

Buried in all the intrigue surrounding the Nortel patent auction was an interesting tidbit: Microsoft did not have to bid on the patents, but they did anyway. Why? As far as I can tell, it’s one of two reasons. One is evil. The other is evil genius. Either Microsoft really wants to kill Android. Or, if Android continues to thrive, Microsoft wants to be the ones that make billions of dollars off of its success.

Microsoft’s intent here is pure evil genius. “It’s not like Android’s free. Android has a patent fee. You do have to license patents,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said last year. What he didn’t explicitly say is that you’d have to pay Microsoft and not Google for those patents. Think about this for a second: it’s entirely possible that Microsoft is going to end up making more money — perhaps significantly more — from Android than Google will. A year ago, such a statement would have seemed like a joke. But now it’s becoming reality. And it must be the ultimate nightmare for Google.

This is another reason for cleaning up the patent system.

And another reason to call MS evil. I know it’s just business and maximizing revenue for your stockholders, but geez.

Innovate. Don’t litigate.

WordPress updates

Black Swan
Starring: Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis

Wow. One weird little film.

Natalie Portman is the ballerina who wants perfection. Her mom – Barbara Hersey – is living her life through Portman’s. Very unconventional mother/daughter relationship.

What is real – and what is not real – both in the movie and to viewer is essential to the film. At end, what really happened?

Portman gives an Oscar-worthy performance as the woman-child who slowly dissolves under the pressure of the “White/Black Swan.”

All movies

For reasons that need not be explained, I was making some updates to this WordPress install (that powers this blog) this week.

And I broke, well, something

It took some work to figure out what I had done (and to script periodic backups), but the end story is this: While WordPress is, in some ways, an arcane CMS, it’s an awesome CMS.

This is the first time in a year or so that I really got my hands dirty with WordPress code, and – knowing more about CSS/PHP than I did a year ago – I’m impressed.

I have an older version (v2.x) of WordPress, and I’m sure some of the arcane issues have been resolved, but – overall, once you wrap your head around it, it’s infinitely flexible and extensible. I’m a PHP programmer, so I disagree with some of the design decisions (example: non-standard installs assign the main stylesheet to a weird area), but that’s probably just my ignorance. Good stuff here.

I’m no fanboy or WordPress flack. Just a user of a great, free product that I use for blogging.

Did I mention that it’s free?????