Airport Extreme Disappointment

My new Airport Extreme (the 802.11n model) is set up and humming, and everything looks good—better range, easier setup, better form factor. So why am I extremely disappointed?

Because it won’t share my RAID disk, and Apple won’t help me figure out how to make it happen. In fact, I had to go to their support forum to find out that the base station appears to have issues with RAID disks.

The good news is that I don’t have even 500 GB of content on the RAID disk, so theoretically I can back up the data, break the RAID set, and rebuild everything on the 500 GB volume.

The bad news: Back up the data to where? Hopefully I can find a way to move the music to a loaner disk or something.

And of course that’s just the first step. Next comes moving the iTunes library file off the old PowerBook, rebuilding it so that it points to the new disk—hopefully without losing all my playcount data this time! Then testing: synching the iPod, ripping a disc, copying music to the remote disk. The real question is, how many iTunes scenarios are bearable with a remote disk across an 802.11g network? And: will Apple or someone else come out with an 802.11n compatible card for the first generation MacBook Pro so that I can actually use the 802.11n features of the base station?

What blows me away, of course, is that this was a completely avoidable thing. The Mac has had support for software RAID for many years, and with a lot of people embracing digital lifestyles thanks to Apple, the likelihood that there are going to be a few people caught by this is pretty high.

Chicago, Chicago: that stop on the way home

I awake in the Windy City this morning, having arrived here late last night and checked into the Palmer House Hilton. It’s funny how a place like Vegas changes your perspective. Normally, I like the historical flavor of a place like the Palmer House, which is 135 years old and heavy on the scenery, particularly in the lobby. But after a few days at the Venetian, all I could think of when I stepped into my room was, This is tiny. In my defense, I think I was influenced primarily by my long ride in the middle seat and secondarily by the extensive plywood hiding the restoration work in the aforementioned lobby, which kind of cooled the impact.

So: down to breakfast, and then home. And then tomorrow: jury duty. Yay.

Zune Phone to suck just as hard as the Zune…

As someone who is counting the days until his current Cingular contract expires in June so that he can pick up an iPhone, I thought the rumor that Microsoft was planning a Zune branded phone was pretty funny. Because, of course, the Zune brand has shown such market power to date that it has completely destroyed the iPod’s hold on the market.

Oh, wait. It hasn’t? Um, never mind.

But the take of the Crazy Apple Rumors Site on this rumor is one of the funnier things I’ve read in a while:

Beyond just the name, however, sources indicate that the Zellular Phone Call will have certain limitations inherited from the Zune platform.

For example, all calls will be wrapped in Microsoft’s DRM and the end-user license agreement will state that the contents of each call will be the property of Microsoft in perpetuity. Also, the Zellular Phone Call will only allow you to call someone three times. After that, every time you try to call that person you will hear a recording of a representative of the Recording Industry Association of America calling you a thief and yelling obscenities and threats at you.


Waiting for American

Leaving Las Vegas today (and yes, that would probably have made a better blog post title). Just wrapped up two days at the Pink Elephant conference at the Venetian. It was an interesting time—a lighter crowd than in past years for this conference, and coming in on Sunday night while the crowd for the NBA All Star game was still in town was a little… chaotic.

Getting out of town has been a little worrisome, too. The rumor coming back to the Venetian was that Southwest had overbooked their outgoing flights by about 40%, resulting in 9-hour-long lines at the ticket counters and a general swamping of the airport on Monday. It was pretty straightforward today, though.

Alas, I’m not going straight home; one more business meeting in Chicago calls. But after that I am back to Boston. Thank goodness.

Oh, and the big disappointment of the conference? No Beatles karaoke.

A suspicious award

Chris Riggs, a former partner in crime in my days in the Suspicious Cheese Lords, emailed me and other former members tonight to announce that the group won a Wammie—a Washington Area Music Association award—for choral group, classical. Considering that past Wammie classical winners have included Hesperus, Leonard Slatkin, the National Symphony, and Denyce Graves, this is a Big Deal indeed. Many congrats to the guys; I only wish I could have been there to see the award.

Update: Here is the full list of 2006 winners from the WAMA site.

Within Your Reach

Artist: The Replacements
Album: Hootenanny

I could live without so much
I can die without a clue
Sun keeps risin’ in the west
I keep on wakin’ fully confused

I never seen no mountain
Never swam no sea
City got me drownin’
I guess it’s up to me

I can’t live without your touch (2x)

Cold without so much
Can die without a dream
Live without your touch
I’ll die within your reach


I never seen no mountain
Never swam no sea
Drownin’ in this city
Well, it’s really up to me

I can’t live without your touch (3x)

Die within your reach
Die within your reach
Die within your reach
Die within your reach

Die within your
Die within your

Bruno, Farewell

I found Bruno in the first semester of my business school program, about a month into my first serious depression, during which I was confronting all my deepest fears about having uprooted my life and put myself into debt. It was good to find Bruno and realize that all the suffering had happened, much more definitively, before.

This was about six or seven years ago, a little over a third of the way through her absolutely ingenious run, during which she railed against the dying of the light, the conventional discomforts of life, and went through to reinvent everything in her life from first principles. Her end today has me feeling bittersweet. Yes, she appears to have finally accepted that she is worthy of happiness, that the love of her friends can be accepted without guilt, that life is sweet amidst the bitterness.

Or, as only Bruno could say, after her distant inamorata of many years proposes finding a place to live together,

Because, really, that’s the only way to get through life.

I couldn’t be happier to have been able to be a patron to Chris during the latter years of the strip. I also couldn’t be happier that he will focus his energies going forward on Little Dee, which already has some of the loony greatness of Pogo about it. Can you imagine a world where Chris Baldwin is in your morning paper? I for one can’t imagine a world without his work. As sad as I am to bid farewell to Bruno’s story, I look forward to the next chapter from Chris with eagerness.

Icy irony

This morning my coworker and I chipped a half-inch of ice off the rental car and trundled over to our prospective customer’s offices. By mid-afternoon most of the roads were clear, the ice and snow had stopped, the sun was shining, and flights were proceeding out of Columbus.

Except, of course, those flights in the direction of Boston.

Yes, my flight was canceled. Though the weather is OK in Columbus, it’s crappy in Boston so those flights were delayed and canceled. At least I got an early morning flight back, so I can get the driveway shoveled out before business gets started.

I did get lucky in one respect. One of our customers suggested that Easton Town Center was a pretty good place near the airport to stay if I needed to get a hotel room. That tip put me in walking distance of a half dozen places to eat and a bookstore—much better than the airport food options. I even found Leffe Blonde on tap (though admittedly that’s easier than it once was—kudos to their distribution people).

Wikipedia, Google News Archives, and the Good Old Song

I’ve tagged this as being about Virginia because the subject matter is probably most interesting to those interested in UVA, my alma mater, but some of it is probably of more general interest. So, first things first: the Virginia Glee Club has a stub of a Wikipedia page that needs some help. So I went about to help it. I added a brief paragraph about the origins of the Club as a student group called the Cabell House Men, then went in search of documentation. As it turns out, the Cabell House Men are scarce fellows indeed.

But in digging through Google’s various features, I found the news archives, a front end to the paywalled deep content of a bunch of newspapers that featured some really interesting paydirt on the Club that I called home and that formed me in some significant ways. Among the findings, as gleaned from article summaries since I didn’t feel like spending $30 or $40 in reprints tonight, I learned that the Glee Club

So much, and so little, has changed.

Interestingly, I also found reference in Google Books that the Club seemingly disappeared for a few years prior to 1910-1911, which I hadn’t heard before.

And of course, there was that Washington appearance in which Bill Clinton himself gave us a shoutout, on Thomas Jefferson’s 250th anniversary: “I want to begin by offering my compliments to the United States Marine Band and the Virginia Glee Club, who have entertained us so well today…” Read that speech; it’s almost unimaginable coming from the current sitting president, but back then it was so routine as to be almost unnoticed.

Oh yeah, and the Good Old Song? Turns out it’s a meta-alma mater, a song in memory of the real Song of Wa-Hoo-Wah, long vanished, and at least according to this author a racist imitation of a Native American chant that originated at Dartmouth of all places.

Lessons? There’s more online than lives in Google’s main index…

Just don’t call him Katie

One day a New York Giant, the next day a Today show correspondent: Virginia star Tiki Barber made a big jump this week into the wacky world of broadcasting. His new position on the Today show as a news correspondent makes him the second high-profile Virginia alum there in recent memory and the first since Katie Couric left to become CBS’s anchor. Which, of course, means that Matt Lauer needs to watch his ass.

The icing on the cake

I’m back in sunny Columbus, Ohio for a few days—just in time for a nice winter storm. It snowed all night, fortunately only about a foot accumulation, but it turned into ice about noon today.

This trip has been a lot of work, but so far the actual travel experience has been easier. I got to the hotel about 11 pm, got a good night’s sleep, will get to nap for a bit before dinner… all sorts of good stuff.

My only weather related worry, in fact, is that I have my very nicest wingtips and no other shoes. It’s a good thing Ohio doesn’t salt roads the way Massachusetts does, or the leather would already be totally destroyed.

The other Cleveland

What can be said about Cleveland, Tennessee? Perhaps its ambassador, the Diplomat Motel, a sagging fleabag of odd smells and rusty plumbing, sitting as it does at the fringe of a used car lot, tells part of the story. But then, any $35 hotel room is probably an unfair representation of the city in which it sits. How about this: less than a mile up the road from the Diplomat is a shopping center with a brand new Starbucks, with wifi and high school kids who joke that slinging coffee for the rest of their lives would be a desirable career—a joke because they know they can and will do much more.

Actually, the above probably says as much about Starbucks as anything else.

Night flight

There is something melancholic about waiting around the ass end of Logan—the AirTran gate known as 1C—for the last flight to Atlanta. There is something even more melancholic in knowing that when I land, I’ll have to make my way across the airport to the rental cars and drive another two hours into the heart of Tennessee. Ah well. It beats waiting for a flight to Chattanooga.

IKEA Hack finished: Värde Doggie Housebench

As detailed on these pages back in October, I started our first real IKEA Hack project at the tail end of the kitchen renovation. We wanted a bench for the dining room and a place for our Bichons to sit while we ate. In October, I did the first part of the project—building the carcass of the bench from two 27 inch Värde wall cabinets, fastened side by side, and six Capita legs. And there the project sat while we finished the kitchen and took care of some other work around Christmas. I did manage to trim down a section of a Pronomen countertop, which had been in temporary use in our kitchen before we started the project

This weekend I finally got around to finishing the project, which entailed fastening the countertop to the bench base with 1 3/4 inch #10 Phillips screws. If I had to do it over again, I would have laid some felt down between the countertop and the bench carcass, because I notice an occasional squeak from the bench. But overall it’s a pretty functional unit, and it’s rock solid. And the dogs love it—we put in 24″ dog beds and now if we’re in the dining room, they’re in the bench. If they’re not begging, that is.

Photos from both stages of the project, now including the finished bench top, are on Flickr.

A new Nick Drake tape

Since Nick Drake is basically the patron saint of obscure, beautiful, depressive singer-songwriters—the proto-Elliott Smith, if you will—hearing that a new album of Nick Drake rarities, none of which have ever been heard before, is a little like hearing that the Police are going to reunite: one is both excited and a little afraid to hear what is coming. The late Mr. Drake will be playing SXSW—or so it would seem, with a documentary, panel discussion, and set of tribute acts scheduled to show up.

All of the above is not bad for a guy who was legendary unknown even to his record company: in the press release for Drake’s final album Pink Moon, the Island Records guys said:

The second time [we saw Nick Drake recently] was a week or so ago, when he came in, smiling that weird little smile, half-mocking, half-bewildered, and handed over this, his new album. He’d just gone into the studios and recorded it without telling a soul except the engineer. And we haven’t seen him since.

The point of this, is this: Nobody at Island is really sure where Nick lives these days. We’re pretty sure he left his flat in Hampstead quite a while ago…

But all of this bull is just the hype machine turning for an artist 35 years dead, right? Well, except for the music. And if you listen to the unreleased track on Stereogum, “To the Garden,”, do you begin to understand why people are willing to mount (parts of) festivals in this guy’s honor so many years later? Er, with some difficulty. The sound quality is poor, the speed of the tape seems too slow (or else Drake’s voice changed radically during his career)… And yet, it’s quintessential Nick Drake, that mix of melancholy and lyrical melody that is at the core of his latest recordings. Makes me wish he had recorded a clean take, and makes me very curious to hear what else he has up his mouldering sleeves.

Obligatory Nick Drake cross-reference #1: The title of this post is from a Clem Snide song, “Nick Drake Tape”: That Nick Drake tape you love/Tonight it sounds so good/As brown as leaves can get/And sleep is what you should.

Obligatory Nick Drake cross-reference #2: Christopher O’Riley, previously having released two albums of classical piano Radiohead covers and one of Elliott Smith tunes, has been doing Nick Drake songs in concert. I look forward to reviewing that disc when it comes out….