Current Events: Playing catch up …

Okay, I haven’t posted in a very very long time. (My English teacher said never to use “very very”, choose extremely or some other word).  Not that I haven’t wanted to, but I don’t always have the time and I am easily distracted.  I get a topic in my head and decide that’s what I’m going to post, but I forget about it when I get home or whatever, it just never gets done.  So!  Here are the current events and hopefully I don’t forget anything.

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO): I went to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to do a New Year’s Eve show with Fosterchild.  This was to perform for the troops at GTMO, the world’s oldest Naval base …  It’s beautiful down there.  It was more like a vacation than a job.  What I bring back the most was snorkeling … I enjoyed that very much as I’d never done it before.  The water was so salty that it was effortless to float, but nearly impossible to dive.  Coral was very sharp, but I saw fishies!  We played two shows, one New Year’s Eve and another two days later … We toured the entire facility – yes, the entire facility and they were clear that they wanted the things we saw be shared with everyone when we came back.  They showed us “Camp X-ray” (which was only open for 70-90 days) where the detainees were held  in 2003 and all the media photographs depict when referring to GTMO.  This camp is grown over with grass and weeds and hasn’t been used since.  They showed us Camps 4, 5, and 6 which become more restrictive as you go.  We saw what the detainees were provided in the way of clothing and things to pass their time.  How theirs customs are respected and attended to.  It was certainly an experience all in itself.

Bo Bice: On a lighter note (whew!) … American Idol’s fourth season runner up to Carrie Underwood was also performing at Guantanamo Bay as well.  We even shared the 30 seat plane ride with him to the island.  There was a problem with his sound guy’s passport, so he was left at the airport in Florida.  Because of this fact, I performed double duty on New Year’s Eve day by sound checking Bo Bice at their venue and then going to the venue where Fosterchild was playing and complete that sound check.  Bo Bice played that night with Tony, the electrician who is assigned to setup and break down PA systems at GTMO and his crew.  I also had a monitor guy who worked with Tony’s department.  It was a Venue system, and the next day, New Year’s Day they moved that entire show to another part of the base that is their outdoor movie theater and I was able to sound check and come back and mix that show.  So, on New Year’s Day 2011 (1/1/11), I mixed Bo Bice in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – and I got his autograph.

I better get this posted now, more later …

Problems Update

Regarding Verizon.Net :: A change on the PF firewall’s rule set.  Forever the bridge was never in the ruleset and everything seemed to work just fine.  Finally, because of the proper testing environment, found out it was my own problem all along.  Added rules to address the bridge interface directly.  Those rules never seemed to have been needed before … or were they?

Regarding the Wireless Router :: I gave up on it as the MBP17 acted flaky since I unplugged the hard wire …  The MBP15 seemed okay with it and remained logged in to IRC room on #pf (which is where I was seeking firewall help) and I guessed at the bridge rule … It happened to work … Anyway, I plugged the cables back in and I think I’m going to try the router that I originally bought that fixed all the problems before …  Last resort is to buy Apple’s wireless router.

Now digging through all old email, etc and finding email addresses that I need to send an update to … It seems I haven’t sent a newsletter since 2007 .. Hmpf!  Well, no new is good news, right?

If you’re a Mac, you’re a PC …

A PC is defined literally as a Personal Computer.  If you’re using a Mac, you’re using a personal computer.  The Mac vs. PC commercials are obviously Microsoft vs. Apple commercials, and they’re spot on when put in that context.  But why confuse everyone thinking that “PC” is a bad thing?  Or “PC” is the derogatory term that has opposite connotations than “Mac” …  I mean, don’t get me wrong, as a computer professional since the mid eighties, I have found my place in the Mac world.  I find myself utterly and completely more productive and enjoying my environment and experience 100 times more.  I was in misery at the hands of Microsoft products.

Probably many people don’t know that before Microsoft, it was an IBM world and the PC had become known as an “IBM Compatible.”  At that time we also had the Commodore, Apple ][ and Franklin.  Franklin was an Apple ][ clone and were sued by Apple.  Result being, you don’t see any Franklins around, do you?

People also probably don’t know that the CPUs in the first IBM computers were AMDs.  Seems that AMD came late to the game to most people, but my IBM XT had a 4.77Mhz AMD chip installed in it, and I used the “Tiny Turbo” to up that baby to a whopping 8Mhz.  I imagine Intel struck a deal early on with IBM and that’s how they cornered the CPU market as well as Microsoft pushing IBM’s PC-DOS out of existence with MS-DOS.

But, is it just me?  Someone like me that knows all the history of the little boxes and where they all came from and how they started?  (Of course I skipped over the earlier Apples and Tandy’s attempt at PC greatness, the 5.25 floppies and 3.5s that don’t exist anymore, etc).  Is it just a simple fact that “PC” now means IBM Compatible running Microsoft Windows and “Mac” means awesome computer that puts PCs (in this context) to shame?

I write this post on my 800MHz PowerPC G4 iMac with 768MB SDRAM that I bought used off of eBay and received January 14th, 2004.  It’s running 10.4.11 Tiger Mac OS X … It shipped with Jaguar (10.2) but the previous owner gave me Panther (10.3) which I had also purchased separately.

I now run 2 MacBook Pros, a 17 and a 15 both with Snow Leopard (10.6) and a Dell Mini running Leopard (10.5).  I bought 10.5 for the Dell (Family version) and tried to install it on the G4 PPC and that was a no go for processors under 866MHz and Snow is Intel only.  It took the Intel version of the Mac (and OSX) before I was able to lose Microsoft completely.  Whatever the mixture of technologies came together, that’s the case for me.  The iMac didn’t get me there in 2004, it took the MacBook Pro in 2008, 4 and a half years later.

I don’t run any emulation software to run MS-Windows virtually, and I don’t utilize BootCamp.   There is absolutely nothing Microsoft on my Macs at all.  It’s wonderful.  The 15″ came with Microsoft Office and I figured I would check it out.  When I loaded Word, it said it wanted to update and I said sure.  The words “Running Microsoft Update” came up on my screen and I freaked, I blew away the HD and installed my purchased Leopard from DVD.  I wanted no remnant of a Microsoft product on my Mac.

So!  Once you go Mac, you never go back.  I think this is the case for anyone that seriously uses a computer for computing and not just web browsing and email.  What do you think?

I promise …

… if I ever get huge or I ever have any reason to have support people on staff, I will not out-source it to foreigners who take forever reciting their scripts over and over …  I don’t know if it’s by design or not to frustrate you into accepting the way it is or what, but I am happy just to be off the phone now …  Common sense?!  Be damned!

Snow Leopard Black Screen Fixed?

MacSnowLeopardBoxI ordered Snow Leopard from Amazon.Com and waited patiently for it to arrive.  I read up on some sites about things to watch for when I upgraded, etc., but nothing can prepare you for when you actually go and do it.

I opted to run Carbon Copy Cloner as suggested by one site found by Google to make a complete backup of the hard drive inside my MacBook Pro 17.  I tested by booting from the USB hard drive (hold down ALT at power up) to make sure I could “go back” if I had to by reversing the Carbon Copy Cloner step.

All of the FUD on the Internet was crap.  Everything just worked.  Until …

I had been working on my MacBook Pro 15 and the Snow Leopard blanked out (as my MBP17 normally does after about 20-30 minutes).  Working on another MacBook Pro is a suggested method for passing the time.  Yes, I suggest you have more than one Mac (if you’re cool enough).  As I do sometimes, I swipe my finger across the trackpad to bring back whatever is on the screen.  When I did this, the keyboard illuminated, but nothing shown on the screens (I have a 24″ external).  The screen was black!  I thought maybe the brightness went out of range and pressed the “f2″ key to bring it up.  I see the dialog for the brightness level, but there’s nothing on the screen.  I see the backlight getting brighter, but the screen is black … nothing there.  I try the volume and that shows on the 24” (which is set as the main display).  I Google on the MBP15 and find that people close their cover and open to a working Mac.  After I wake from sleep, moving the mouse I see it as the spinning beach ball that it is.  I hold down the power button to power off the Mac, there is no other choice.

Turn the MacBook Pro 17 on again and I have a working Snow Leopard.  All the things that “they” said didn’t work work for me.  I installed the 10.6.1 update and iTunes 9.  So everything is up to date.  It happens again, same symptoms.  Black screens, can see volume and brightness dialogs when keys are hit, no mouse until after I sleep and wake to spinning beach ball mouse with black screens.

Google searching brings up black screen during the install, and some similar to my problem, but not all the same.  Some blame just on the install blanking and they can see images on their screen with no backlight.  I guess they’re fine after they upgrade cause I see no follow ups.  I see more and more people blaming things having to do with the video or their video card.  Some it’s playing games and some it’s running VLC …  So I decided, mine “hangs” when the computer screen sleeps (that’s SCREEN, my MacBook Pro never sleeps), so I think *screen saver!*

While the computer is running, I click on the Apple, go to System Preferences… into Desktop & Screen Saver.  Immediately, spinning beach ball.  Aha!  I can Force Quit System Preferences until I can get in there and click on the first screen saver I can click on to change it.  What was selected when it hung was a directory “Screen Savers” … I don’t know where it came from – only thing I can think of was a shareware copy of that Aqua Marine fish tank-like screen saver that I never ended up buying.  I’ve been using Flurry forever (and that was my first thought when I thought it might be OpenGL or something, which never worked on my KDE installs on cheap PC hardware) and thought that might have been hanging the computer’s video card or something.

So far so good, I will update if the longer the screen sleep gives different results.  Here’s hoping this helped someone.

Going Mac, one person at a time …

imacSo my brother Tom calls me one night frustrated as heck because he can’t make a copy of a DVD.  A simple thing, pop a DVD into the computer and click “Copy”.  It’s of his performance at a show, and he wants to make copies for himself and the rest of the members of the band.  He’s been trying Windows machines and utilizing Nero.  I think he had purchased a copy of Nero, but it wasn’t cooperating.  He then tried using a trial version from their web site that would be fully functional, just slow (write @ 1X or something).  It may be that he purchased Nero, and that was on his old PC which was in storage and he thought he might go get that to get the job done.  Regardless, no matter how far he got, the copy was not happening.

I told him to stop over, and I would make the copy no problem.  I have a Macbook Pro and a Windows PC where I was, so no matter what, we’d make a copy.  I ended up using a trial version of Toast I got with Cubase 5.  But even so, I would have tried the FREE Mac software Burn if Toast hadn’t stepped up.  It was a click, “Copy” and it asked how many copies you wanted.

While we waited for the process to complete, Tom reiterated his DVD copying experience and frustrations.  He was to the point where he was going to go out and buy a new computer to make this work!  He thought maybe his PC was too old for such a task as copying a DVD.  I said, “If you’re going to buy a new computer, you should buy a Mac.”  I think that was Monday, August 17th.  I saw Tom a week later, Monday, August 24th and he told me he bought an iMac.  He was going back to the store to have a one on one session with someone who knows Logic.  I told him Cubase 5 or Digital Performer 6 were good choices as well … and you can always play with GarageBand.

I hardly ever touch a Microsoft Windows machine anymore unless I have to.  All my servers are FreeBSD and the Mac software (OS X) is FreeBSD based.  The interface is so much more intuitive and I venture to say “cleaner” …  It’s much more of a pleasure to develop web sites and programs on and mix music as well … Come on Windows people, once you go Mac, you never go back!  Or so they say … but who are “they” actually?  Probably a bunch of satisfied Mac users! =)

Verizon Sucks

verizonI see I have a lot of Verizon visitors and I figured I would express my displeasure with Verizon just for you. You should be flattered.

#1 reason why Verizon sucks?  I can’t send “verizon.net” people email from my mail server.  I spent an entire day trying to communicate this to Verizon support and I got absolutely nowhere.  The people with the accents kept asking for my Verizon email address or my DSL phone number no matter how many times I told them I wasn’t a Verizon customer.  I asked for the phone number for their NOC who handled their mail server.  Confusion.

Their web interface doesn’t work either.  I am not using my mail server to browse web sites and use their white-listing page.  My mail server is in a dark server room dutifully sending and receiving email 24 hours a day.  Fighting SPAM and Viruses and doing a damn good job of it, but Verizon won’t accept my email.  I receive the email from the nice web interface telling me that everything is okay, and when I reply to that email, my email is returned 7 days later never being able to make an SMTP connection with Verizon.Net’s servers.

I resorted to opening a ticket with my upstream provider, and they had no luck in helping me.  They suggested I reach out to Verizon customers and have them complain that they can’t receive email from me.  Can’t say as I know any Verizon.Net customers, nor could I email them asking them such a favor.  They were able to telnet to Verizon’s listed MX and issue simple telnet commands, so they assume that any of their IPs would be able to do the same.  Well I try from my mail server and other machines, and all I do is time out.  I just sent anther letter to my provider, but it’s Verizon that needs to provide me support.

Anyone from Verizon, please respond to this post and help me deliver mail to your customers from my customers.  Thanks.

#2 reason why Verizon sucks?  They advertise FIOS constantly on my TV, but it isn’t available in my area.  Comcast dominates the Philadelphia area and Verizon finally won against the powers that be to start installing FIOS in the Philadelphia area.  Where do they start?  In the suburbs.  If I could get FIOS to my location, my connection speed will increase 100 times and I will pay absolutely no more money per month for my connection.  That’s substantial for me.

I just got Comcast Internet installed at a new location and it blows away my high priced connection.  It is an eye opener, but Verizon has been teasing me for so long.  I need new copper run for my local loop, but an insider told me that they won’t run new copper, they want to install FIOS – well it’s not available in my area, and I have to deal with outages and bounces … That makes Verizon suck!

Bottom line, hey – Verizon, install me some FIOS and let me deliver email to your mail server, and we’re golden!  Thanks again …

Two out of Three ain’t bad; 10.5.7 Mac OS X Update Failed

mbp10-5-7mbp15-10-5-7mini9-10-5-7 Out of the MBP17, MBP15 and the Dell Mini 9, the MBP15 wins with no issue, but I’ll tell you about the others.

By the way, if you didn’t know, “MBP” is short for MacBook Pro. I have the silvers w/matte displays. Bring back the matte and firewire Apple! =)

Let’s start off with a complaint, cause that’s what I do. I use MenuMeters for the Mac. I was made aware of its existence by it being on one of the OSX386 Project distributions. Anyway, because I’m running it, I see activity on my Mac that others are oblivious to … I like to know why something is taking so long, or if there might be a problem. So the complaint is, it takes me a while to figure out that the Mac is downloading updates. 10.5.7 was a kinda big one, and when the Mac is downloading that long and I didn’t initiate it, I’d kinda like to know about it. I think Apple should notify you it’s doing so, that’s all.

Pictured is the 3 About This Mac windows after I was all done. They all made it without any serious perspiration. I started on the MBP17. After the update, the 17″ screen remained gray. It did automatically boot twice, but after the second boot went nowhere. I waited an ample amount of time while I saw nothing happening. You know, I’m used to having to wait when I don’t have my meters. So then I started Googling on the Mini 9 while it downloaded its update. After reading a bunch of the obvious posts from people that shouldn’t be allowed access to computers, I decided to unplug everything from the MBP17. External screen, external hard drives, external keyboard and mouse. Lo and behold, MBP17 solved, and the screen hopped right over when I plugged the 24″ back in.

I let the Mini 9 run its own update and it did a fine job, although on the final boot, the graphics were horrible. The screen could not be seen at all. So, I fired up the MBP15 so it could download its update and I could Google what was up with the Mini 9. I was expecting something might have happened to it since I read what the update did and there was something in there for video. I just figured I would boot via CD and reinstall the kext files, etc, but I skipped Google entirely and went straight to the MyDellMini.Com Forums … There was a forum about the 10.5.7 update and apparently it’s been out for a while. I just got it this morning, weird … One thing in the forum was the noticing that although we were all there discussing something that shouldn’t work anyway, regular Mac users all over the place were having 10.5.7 update problems … same as I described above with the MBP17. There’s articles from Macworld and Computerworld out there about using the Mac as a firewire device, etc. Work arounds for the update problems. Anyway, I digress.

Fix for Mini 9 was what I expected and even easier than I had thought it would be … I went to the trouble of hooking up the external CD/DVD drive, etc, but all I needed to do was start in Safe Mode and rerun the Dell EFI proggy … I got the latest (1.2a5 I think), popped it on a USB stick and shoved it into the Mini 9. Let Finder unzip it, ran the program and off to the races. Mini 9 is fine, and that rhymes three times. Whoops! Four.

Leaving the MBP15 for last, it gave no problems what-so-ever … Nothing external about it, and nothing weird going on with it …

From what I heard (read) while surfing around, this is the last release before Snow Leopard. How anyone would know that, I don’t have a clue.

So there you have it, Meatloaf would be proud. “Baby we can talk all night, but that ain’t gettin’ us nowhere.” (or maybe Utopia would be proud, the band on Bat Out of Hell, Todd Rundgren, Kasim Sulton, Roger Powell, Wee Willie Wilcox). I always say Bat Out of Hell is Utopia with Meatloaf fronting. Good luck on your own 10.5.7 update!

System Fonts?

Way back in the day, when someone said “system font” what came to mind was a mono spaced font used to display information of and relating to the system, hence “system” font.

The reason was obvious to us old-heads, before there were screen fonts for editing, there were punched cards. Each punched card had 80 columns, as did the screen — everyone was happy. Continuation to another card? Put an “X” in column 72. I can’t imagine what these kids today would do if they had to sit down at a keypunch and type in all their code. Wrong key? Whoops! Gotta get a new card … Hunting down bugs? Nowadays syntax highlighting makes errors hop off the screen …

Anyway, my torturous past has nothing to do with the real reason for this post, it has to do with “System Fonts” …

Do you think the system font has anything to do these days with the site design of the operating system manufacturer? I think it probably does. Now, a system font seems to be a font that came with the system. So, Verdana was a Microsoft system font, and Lucida Grande is a Mac system font. I say Verdana was because it seems to be readily available on all systems now, but initially it wasn’t and you will not find Lucida Grande on a MS Windows based machine. MS Windows Vista introduced Segoe UI as its font.

Being that these systems (companies) like to make their web sites in the default font of their operating system, things don’t look the same on all platforms. What I think is strange is that Microsoft totally changed their web site, so it’s back to the ol’ fonts, but how much more does Microsoft look like it wants to be Apple anymore? Frankly, it’s embarrassing … but that’s another topic that will only be mentioned in passing in this post.

This WordPress theme that I’m using while this post was made (don’t know if I will or won’t change it) is made to resemble a Mac type interface. In doing this, the Lucida Grande font is selected to be displayed to visitors. If, however, you’re not a Mac visitor, you’re not going to see the Lucida Grande font just as if you went to http://www.apple.com … So what is the fall back? I chose Tahoma for my MS Windows brethren … I will also look into putting in Segoe UI so that Vista peeps will have a better experience in their viewing pleasure.

So there you have it, a system font is no longer a mono-spaced font used for interfacing with the intricacies of an operating system and its code, it’s now all about style

Web 2.0 and oh, nice to see you …

Web 2.0: Gaetan sent an invite to my email address to follow him on twitter, so I signed up finally.  Honestly, I had actually been meaning to sign up with twitter and facebook … My older brother is terrified of facebook, he thinks Rupert Murdoch is after him … I’m particular in the information I share but let’s be honest, if someone like Rupert Murdoch wanted the goods on you, guess what?  He’s going to get you …

There are so many times that I think of something to blog, but I never get around to it.  I think of the situation, the story and everything, but then I don’t get to it.  Or, maybe the paranoia of what I would be posting and the opinion that may come of it, or too much information shared …  Blah, tough living in this day and age, isn’t it?  The age of immediate consequences from something you may post online.  The Internet is everywhere and immediate.  Anyway, here are the current events:

Hosting: There have been several instances in the hosting area that have devastated me. One, I had a disk crash on a machine that I never thought the disk would crash.  Like, I had it in my mind that that was a pristine machine and I didn’t have to worry about it.  It’s where all my stuff was and where I could just ssh in or sit at its console and update code on the fly … No backups.  Gone. Now I have everything important on RAID5 and my personal machines have Time Machine running.

Verizon is a huge thorn in my side.  My last mile is Verizon.  Verizon is copper.  Verizon wants to run FIOS (fiber) in Philadelphia.  Comcast rules the video market in Philadelphia.  Seems contacting politicians is the only way Verizon FIOS will come to Philadelphia.  There is nothing more than I want right now is FIOS to be in Philadelphia because my connection speed would greatly increase immediately.  How this affects me now is that Verizon doesn’t want to run any new copper, they only want to run FIOS.  I have had a terrible time as of late with my connection and this is the problem.  It happened the first time in May and was dormant until Christmas Eve, from then on it was daily bouncing until the last copper pair change.  Verizon has been on site over 3 times.  It’s too late, the customers that this affected the worst have already found other solutions.  Not cool Verizon, not cool at all.

Octane: Sound for Octane continues, but with almost every venue having house sound installed, I can’t rememer the last time I needed my PA.  For that matter, the last time I had the PA in the trailer, the trailer was burglarized for one bass bin and one monitor.  They took nothing else although much was in there as well as all the band’s gear that was strewn to just the outside of the trailer.  Makes absolutely no sense.  I still haven’t been able to sell the truck since replacing it with the van and trailer.  I should try that on eBay again.  While Octane remains booked fairly steady for a band in their position, there are weekend nights that I am sitting home.

Fosterchild: I have mixed Fosterchild a couple times since the lineup change and circumstances warranted it.  It was a welcome change from the norm.  Apparently we’re going on tour soon!

Out On the Town: I have started working with the paper again. This time I am doing the layout on the computer.  Another reason for my Mac purchase. (Still steamed about that one [previous entry], but I will survive.  I have rationalized some things away.)  Hopefully this will help with the ultimate goal of sitting on my ass the rest of my life.

Windows: I found out that MS Access doesn’t scale, or self sustain.  Don’t know how to put it, but left to its devices, a web site utilizing an MS Access database will cause ASP to hang on a Windows Server.  The database needs to be regularly reorganized.  I can tell you for a fact that this will not happen on any other platform.  Thanks again Windows!  Way to mess up everyone’s life on your server cause you can’t handle something and don’t report on it either.

Health: My health is getting better. I had my last cigarette September 27th, 2008 at 10:45pm.  This was right before Octane’s first set (acoustic) outside at The Whiskey Tango.  During the set, pressure mounted in the center of me chest and by the end of the set I was getting sharp pains.  I didn’t go out for a smoke after the set, I took it easy but sharp pains came and went and I generally didn’t feel right.  I was getting scared and I decided that I thought I should go to the hospital.  I spent the weekend in the hospital while they did all sorts of fun tests.  All tests were okay.  I then went back to have a camera shoved down my throat and that turned up acid damage in my esophagus, stomach and duodenum.  I was told to take 4 Prilosec daily.  The anesthetic for the tube test was wild, like snapping your fingers, test done and two and a half hours went by.  I haven’t smoked since and have started dieting and exercising.  I may get a Brazilian and wear a bikini or thong to the beach this summer?  … and everyone knows how I love the beach.

The Whiskey Tango: I went back to work at The Whiskey Tango May 20th 2008 to fill in the open nights with Octane and to do the off nights.  Ronnie quit to go work for Spellcaster down the shore for the summer with more nights.  Since then The Whiskey Tango changed ownership and management and those off nights aren’t happening anymore.  Status there is up in the air right now.

Coding: I recently updated some old ASP pages I did way back in the day for the Bigg Romeo site.  That was fun.  I am progressing on new web development projects and I am very excited about that.  Also thinking of ways to further promote the hosting through a better interface.  The new trickles in slowly anymore and Verizon isn’t helping with the departed.  Here’s hoping FIOS comes through.  They are sure to support that endeavor more than they’ve helped me now, right?

OH! and the biggest thing about all of this is that anything new will be in a new location!  All the servers, routers, switches, computers, etc. will be moved to a brand new location.  We will be moving but still don’t know when yet.  I am hoping for A.S.A.P., but that’s me.

That’s all I can think of right now.  Any questions?