Rest in peace, Sam Phillips

BBC: Elvis producer Phillips dies. One of those headlines you really wish you could rewrite. How about, “Sam Phillips, secret father of rock and roll, dies”? Because surely Phillips’ role in encouraging Elvis’ recording sessions away from bad ballads and towards “That’s All Right’ is among the founding moments in the creation of the music, as is his role in starting the careers of Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash.

When I toured Sun Studio back in 1997, on our pre-honeymoon in Memphis, I felt Sam’s presence around every corner of this unremarkable little building in a gravelly parking lot. The old recording equipment, shockingly primitive compared even to the tiny studios I’ve been in, and the unadorned plainness of the space told a different story than the pictures in the entranceway (also reproduced on the home page for Sun), showing Elvis at the piano and Jerry Lee, Johnny, and Carl Perkins (composer of “Blue Suede Shoes”) leaning over and singing along. The picture has the feeling of iconography, but the studio was set up for hard work and inspiration, the piece that Sam brought to the mix.

Sleep well, Sam.

QTN™: Baltika Russian Original Dark Beer

A local distributor just started carrying a couple kinds of beer from a St. Petersburg brewery, Baltika (Russian site here). The Original Dark beer is dark, but only the way an amber or Newcastle is dark. But the flavor is great—a touch of caramel balanced by some hops, with a dark malty undercurrent. I might have to get another. But I have all their other flavors to try, plus some Polish varieties.

Wild adventure kingdom in Seattle

me, the sweaty explorer

The word yesterday and today was get the heck out of the house. So we drove to Mt. Rainier, through construction around Tacoma (it has never taken two hours to get to the south of Tacoma before. Don’t want to go through that again). There were, naturally, some compensating factors, like driving through a gap and finding Riffe Lake spread before us like a far flung arm of the Mediterranean.

But finding parking at Paradise? For the birds. And finding out just how out of shape I was as I huffed and puffed my way up the hill was no picnic either. Two thoughts kept running through my head: “I’ve got to get out from behind that desk more often and exercise” and “Thank God that Jim Heaney is there to hike the Appalachian Trail for me so I can live vicariously through him.” But finding the world spread out below me and around me—ringed about by impossibly craggy peaks, a meadow at my feet for miles around filled with the most beautiful flowers…and that giant heaving glaciers into the sky until fully half my vision was blue ice and brown dirt… totally worth it.

Today we got up early and drove down to the Agua Verde Paddle Club in the U-District to meet Arvind and Kim. We kayaked down through the Cut, past the shores of the Arboretum, through the lily pads in bloom, past ducks, waterfowl, an elegant blue heron, and even a startled beaver, before returning back to the dock. A quick lunch at Mama’s (since Agua Verde’s café wasn’t open), a stroll through the Market for tomatoes, basil, a whole Alaskan salmon cut into steaks for us at $4.99 a pound, and an enormous bouquet of gladiolas and we were back home…napping. So much for adventures.

Anil Dash: “partying like it’s 1994”

Anil Dash lays into Microsoft (er, us) for the Add Font dialog box in Windows XP, which has not substantially changed since Windows 95. He has a complaint, and an offer we can’t refuse:

… you still can’t even get this one dialog box to look like every other one in the operating system, with a little My Computer over on the side. You’ve got the “Drives:” dropdown box still partying like it’s 1994. It doesn’t even let me type in a network path unless I map a drive letter. Sweet, that way I can easily connect to my Netware 3 server over Token Ring and install the font I downloaded on my 9600 baud modem! Kickass!…

Here’s my offer. For less than 10% of your outstanding cash on hand, a mere four billion dollars, I will personally create a working, usable, UI guidelines-compliant version of this dialog box. I’ll even create it in .NET managed code. I’ll make sure it’s compatible with all the apps out there and regression test it against even the most obscure configuration.

Then, I’ll fly myself to Redmond and smack the product manager for Windows on the ass on his way out the door.…

It gets better. Some of the funniest ranting I’ve seen in a long time. And embarrassing, if you’re one of the folks in Redmond like me.

Should aggregators strip style attributes?

Via Scripting News, Deane asks whether RSS aggregators should strip style attributes (presumably, this would also apply to aggregators of Atom/Echo/whatever the RSS successor format is called as well).

Count me in the minority that wants my feeds presented as the author provided, within limits (“I wants my funk uncut”). There is semantic meaning carried in tags like <strong>, <em>, and <pre> that would render some posts meaningless. That said, I hate feeds that render as white text but don’t have the dark background specified in their page’s body tag to make the post readable. Maybe if everyone moved to using CSS stylesheets and classes instead of local CSS styles or <font> tags, preserving styles would be OK.

In fact, let’s go a step further: CSS compliant styles should be rendered by aggregators; old-skool HTML styles should be stripped. How’s that for incentive to learn the new technology?

Making a move: more details

If I had realized MacNetJournal was going to point to my item about setting up my new Mac this morning, I would have added more detail to begin with. Here is a little bit of a deeper dive into how I made the transition.

Partitioning? Nah

My old G3 had a 30 GB drive partitioned into a 10GB chunk for Mac OS X and a 20 GB chunk for Classic. I had originally set it up this way in the fall of 2000, in anticipation of the OS X public beta, and had never had sufficient backup media to archive everything so I could change the partitions.

My $0.02 on partitioning Mac hard drives: I’m not sure it’s worth the bother any more. Sure, having Classic on a separate partition keeps extraneous junk out of your root directory, but unless you’re super vigilant, user data will get saved to the wrong OS partition or to an OS partition instead of a user data partition. And if, like me, you’re a music junkie, or consume a lot of any type of big files (movies, applications, games), you can exhaust the available free space on a partition quickly, leaving you to scramble to figure out how to move things around and keep your logical scheme consistent. Partitioning was clearly valuable in the days before HFS+, when partition size dictated block size and lots of small files could fill a large hard drive because they each consumed large blocks of space regardless of whether they filled the whole block or not. I don’t think it’s worth the hassle any more.

Accordingly, I left the 60GB drive on my PowerBook as it was set up: one partition, Classic and MacOSX on the same partition. I had about 50 GB of a total 55 GB formatted space available on the drive when I booted the first time.

System Update is your friend

The “one half hour from opening the box to video chat” that I talked about in the original article is more impressive when you realize I had to install a ton of software upgrades during that half hour. I downloaded the iChat AV beta, which wasn’t preinstalled, only to have the installer quit because I wasn’t running 10.2.6. The PowerBook had shipped with 10.2.3 preinstalled, which is a little surprising considering that 10.2.4 shipped sometime in February—I guess that gives a clue about why Apple dropped the price on the 15″ model. So I ran Software Update, installed about six updates including a 10.2.6 unified update, rebooted, ran the iChat AV install, rebooted, and then we had our nice chat with Lisa’s folks. Then I ran Software Update one more time to pick up the six updates that were there once I had 10.2.6 installed (including iSync 1.1, security updates, and a few other odds and ends) and rebooted one last time. I think this took less than an hour.

Not having to copy manually: Priceless

Some of my most crucial data I didn’t have to move at all. When I finished installing iSync, I ran it and it pulled down my address book data from .Mac as well as my Safari bookmarks and my calendars. How do I love thee, iSync? Let me count the ways.

Moving everything else

User data is fairly easy to move. I dumped the contents of my home directory (Mac OS X) and my Documents directory (Mac OS 9) onto a temporary folder on the new machine, then sorted obvious data into its new home (MP3s, movies, general documents). One nice side effect of the move: I was able to rationalize things like having two Documents folders, multiple places for music, etc.

I then copied selected Mac OS 9 applications into the dedicated Applications (Mac OS 9) directory, and cherry picked applications from my old Mac OS X Applications folder into the new machine’s Applications folder. I didn’t do a wholesale replacement because I didn’t want to overwrite anything that already existed on the new machine, and I didn’t want to bring over any useless applications that I hadn’t gotten around to deleting.

The last step was probably the trickiest: the global and user Library folders on the old Mac OS X machine (paths: /Library and ~/Library). I definitely didn’t want to just overwrite everything that was in the new machine’s libraries already, so I manually moved over all the folders that didn’t already exist, then selectively moved other folders and files from Application Support and Preferences, moving those that belonged to third party applications and leaving most of the Apple ones behind. The exceptions were my iPhoto and iTunes data. My previous post talked about the one hassle I had with moving the iTunes library over. I haven’t looked at iPhoto yet, but everything should be pretty solid there.

I still haven’t looked at the old system’s Classic System Folder. There probably isn’t a lot of anything that matters in there any more, since the last time I started a Classic app was about six months ago, but I’ll do a final scrub for any legacy data that may have gotten in there.

Conclusion: As easy as it could be

The MacNetJournal pointer to my previous article calling my move “easy” is a little ironic, considering how involved the full details of the move are. But I think this was about as easy as it could have been. I couldn’t use a utility like CarbonCopyCloner, since I was changing my partition definitions and wanted to be selective about what I brought over. And really, since I had to move files, fonts, and applications that dated back to my first Mac (my faithful SE/30, 1990 – 1995: fare well, wherever you are), the process wasn’t really so bad.

Making a move

Things that were easy about getting the new Powerbook set up:

  1. Getting it out of the box and turning it on.
  2. Getting iChat AV working with our camera. We had my in-laws seeing our moving, smiling faces about half an hour after we brought the laptop out of the box. Also, we bought them an iSight and got a tripod for our Sony camera, so we should be able to do full duplex video conferencing after Lisa’s next trip.
  3. Moving files off my old laptop. I shut the G3 down, started it in FireWire Target mode by holding the T key down immediately after powering it back on, connected it to the G4, and dragged all the stuff over that I wanted.

Things that were more difficult:

  1. Figuring out the power brick. The G4 comes with a much cooler power supply that includes an optional extension cord that plugs into the modular power brick. It took a few minutes to figure out how the built in electrical prongs slid off and the extension slid on.
  2. Recovering from our dropped connection when I clicked our pictures to full screen. When we reconnected (audio only), Lisa’s parents told us they still saw a frozen still image.
  3. Sifting through my old /Library directory to find the right preferences, license files, and support files to make sure I wouldn’t have to re-enter license numbers.
  4. Moving iTunes over. I had previously discovered where the library files lived, so I was able to copy those over without losing my playlists. I was also able, amusingly, to use the library files and play music directly off the G3’s hard drive while I still had it connected. But I’m going to have to either manually review over 3000 songs and tell iTunes where they live on the G4’s hard drive, or write a script to fix all the locations.

Still, this has been one of the fastest cutovers ever. And I still have almost 30 GB of hard disk space left over.

Summer is passing

Last night we visited a new wine bar in town, the Purple Café, and then put ourselves to bed early. Coming back to bed from brushing my teeth, lights out, I could still see a yellow and blue corona around the trees through our north window, the remnants of the sunset on Lake Washington. Summer is passing and our days are growing shorter.

Moxie’s post about summer with her folks and picking gooseberries made me think about my own summers, often spent with one grandmother or the other. With my Grandmother Brackbill, picking peas, stringing beans, and shucking corn. Or with my Grandmother Jarrett learning to appreciate the mountains and slowly coming to understand my family connections in that strange to me place. I remember more summers in Pennsylvania, as we generally saved trips to North Carolina for less-hot times of the year.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Funkenstein

George Clinton turns 62 today. And he’s still funkier than almost anybody else alive. I saw the P-Funk All-Stars in DC a few years back with Craig and it was a mind-blowing show. If you’ve never heard it, it’s definitely worth your time to check out “Mothership Connection,” and “Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome.” And remember, if you fake the funk your nose will grow…