Lightnin' Hopkins

I worked from home on Friday, so I had to VPN into the network and log onto my computer with Remote Desktop. A (at first) horrible downside to this is that I couldn't access my iTunes library on the Mac. My new $100 headphones' cord isn't long enough to reach my desk, and there's no room for it on the desk, and I sure as hell can't play music out of the tiny laptop speakers. So, I decided to log onto Pandora and listen to some of my "Bob Marley" radio station. After a little while, I wanted to change it up so I put on my "Cracker" radio, which yielded some interesting music. After that, I made a new radio station. I wanted to listen to some blues. I just typed in Robert Johnson and let Pandora handle the rest. Was that a great move.

I'm listening to some greats that I've heard before and like, but nothing's really blowing me away. So I'm getting lots of work done :) Next thing I know, this version of "Catfish Blues" comes on. All acoustic guitar, and the thing is distorting my speakers (or so I thought). It's slow, guitar and singer, and the guitar is just amazing. I flip over to my browser that's running Pandora, and see that it's a Texas bluesman named Lightnin' Hopkins. I mark him with a "thumbs up", and keep listening. A few songs pass, again, none blowing me away. Then this other song comes on and I have the same reaction... f$@#%ing awesome guitar. Flip over to Pandora... Lightnin' Hopkins again. This happened like 4 times. This is over 2 hours. So today I bought some Sam Hopkins.

The album that Catfish Blues is on is called "Blues in My Bottle". I'm on the 2nd song right now... so far awesome. There's quite a deal on iTunes if you're a fan of blues. Lightnin' Hopkins "The Complete Aladdin Recordings", 1946-1949, 43 songs, $10. "Blues in My Bottle" is all just guitar and singing. Amazing guitar. Buy it.

Laptop Configured

Sound works, development environment set up (including eclipse, java, tomcat, mysql, mysql dbs and users [tables and data are automagic]), can't disable the "tapping" on the touchpad yet.

I got the development environment set up after some troubles where I forgot that I depend on some JARs being in the tomcat/common/lib folder, and don't copy them over. Doh. This stuff is all manual.

I had to configure my /boot/loader.conf to load the driver for my sound card (snd_hda), I've been messing around in the same file to see if I can load a 'synaptics' touchpad driver, or enable support, but I don't think I have a synaptics touchpad driver. FreeBSD reports it as a Generic PS/2 mouse otherwise.

I need to disable tapping! When you go to edit a Java file and accidentally move your cursor to the spot where you didn't want to edit at, it's so annoying. However, I did notice that this touch pad IS freakin tiny, and I hardly touch it by accident. That's good.

Scrolling would be nice to have. That's a hardware issue though, no scroll "wheel". I looked around, and with moused options, you can emulate 3 buttons (I have two I think) and enable scroll with a combination of the middle mouse button (in my case both pressed) and moving on the mouse pad. This would be tough. Kinda like pressing CTRL +N+U+<+O+/ Good luck. I'm gonna write a program that says "To uninstall this software, press CTRL +N+U+<+O+/ within the next 2 seconds." Oh, you messed up. Try it for 1 minute and your hand will hurt :)

The ThinkPad T61 that I got comes with a fingerprint reader, and apparently someone made it work on Gentoo, of course, the OS I had on here for a while and couldn't do anything with. I betcha now I could though. I'm not retarded when it comes to setting up a Linux / Unix laptop anymore.

You'll notice I now have a cool "RSS" link in the address bar if you're using a modern browser, like FireFox or 3 beta 3 like I am.

I'm heading up the mountains tomorrow. Might go skiing, might just hang out and drink :) We'll see. I was asked to bring my guitar, but I only have my huge amp now! It's awesome though.

Ahh, Video Game Addiction

AIM IM with Zatko Zatko: 25 hours
Zatko: won by space race
Zatko: it was total annilation though
Me: jesus
Me: year?
Zatko: like 2045
Me: my last big victory was a space race in 1957 on warlord
Zatko: nice
Me: 13000+ points, abraham lincoln
Zatko: how are points calculated
Me: no idea
Zatko: i annilated everyone but 2 countries
Zatko: i was at war most of the game
Zatko: which is why it took so long
Zatko: i found the option to turn off battle animations on hour 24
Me: but if you hover your mouse over your name, you can see how your points are broken down... population, technology, land, wonders
Me: yeah, i turned them off recently
Zatko: yea, big time saver
Zatko: every turn was taking like 15 minutes
Me: and it'll tell you what your score will be if you won on that turn
Zatko: i wonder if nuking people helps that score
Me: i don't think it hurts
Zatko: i nuked the shit out of the indians
Me: haha
Zatko: i was clearly winning, but my lead kept diminishing
Zatko: the indians were trending up on me
Zatko: apparently the nukes made them go broke
Zatko: what a game
Me: it's great huh
Zatko: that sins game is gonna be the same thing
Zatko: dude my whole 3 day weekend can be summararized by civ4
Me: haha
Me: addicted once again
Zatko: yea, majorly addicting
Zatko: i was dreaming about it at night
Me: yup, been there
Zatko: i'd wake up at 5 in the morning, clenching my fist and cursing the russians
Me: once i play Pain on the ps3 for a whole day, and i'd dream about throwing mimes into glass
Me: haha
Zatko: ha, the mime game
Zatko: well i'm out
Zatko: maybe for next weekend i'll get sins
Me: aight, i might start up a game
Me: k, i can get it
Me: i'll just get it like i did with gears of war and wait for you to get it 
Me: i bought that game months ago
Zatko: yea, that'll probably be some good coop action with that
Zatko: later
Me: later
Zatko: has gone offline.

Laptop Shopping...

Blows monkey snot (or insert your own, more vulgar version of "sucks" here). When you're going to look at a store instead of online, of course you have to deal with salespeople who know less about laptops than you do. You can't tell them exactly what you're going to be using it for, because it won't help them decide what model you need, and you already have in mind that you want a "business" laptop. Not something for games, or something with eighteen card readers on it. Definitely not something that comes preinstalled with Windows Vista.

I'm trying to tell the guy, "I don't need HDMI, card readers, Bluetooth, photo album software, MS Office, built in web cam... I have a Mac" :D I just need a good CPU, a fast hard drive, and decent amount of RAM. Wireless is optional. Before I let him in on the little secret that I know a slow mother f@#%@$ing hard drive when I see it, he was trying to push 4800 RPM drives on me.

When he was trying to sell me anti-virus software and MS Office, I sorta just smiled at him and said "I won't be running Windows", in a smart ass type of way that only a true geek can do.

What I ended up with was a Lenovo ThinkPad T61 (as "business" as it gets, and what I have been eyeing online for weeks), with a 14.1" screen (which is running at 1280x800 on Gnome on my FreeBSD, so I'm fine with it), 2.1 GHz Core 2 Duo, 1 GB RAM (but I put in another GB when I got it home), a 100GB 7200 RPM hard drive, and an NVidia basic video card, and tons of ThinkPad goodness (which means nothing!). Minimal but is absolutely awesome. It's 5.3 lbs. It kicks the f%#@ out of my previous laptop's ass. So fast.

Compare to my other laptop (which I'm fuzzy on now):
1.5 GHz single core Centrino, I upped it to 1GB ram, 4800 RPM 60GB hard drive, ATI video card.

A hard drive's speed will make or break productivity in programming. I also just needed an upgrade in CPU speed, and RAM never hurts :)

There's just one thing though that I wish I had noticed about this laptop before I bought it, but I think I can deal with it. Most laptops today have a touch version of a mouse's "scroll wheel" on their pads. My previous laptop has it. This one doesn't :( I can use page up / down, or go old school and use the scroll bar. I'm used to it though, since I had Gentoo Linux on my other laptop for so long, nothing f%@#$ing worked anyway :)

So, I'm installing FreeBSD, getting my development environment set up, and will be creating features for this website, and new websites and software in the near future.

The Guitar Player

I threw out any attempts to act like a musician on this latest song (and I got rid of most of the buzzing! Thanks Todd, I just moved the amp away from the laptop and network of wires by my bed and it took care of most of it... the ground trick will probably take care of the rest, so if it gets unbearable, that's what I'll do). Instead of being crafty, I just decided to wail on my Gretsch. The rhythm guitar is still top notch though :) It's a slow blues back beat with some hard clean soloing. You'll hear the Gretsch's signature piece of hardware, the Bigsby (TM) somewhere in there. Keep an ear open for it. I don't really put it at a hugely inventive or creative spot, I just throw it in there on a G chord :P (it's at 1:03).

It's here... the filename is "SoBad.mp3" but I didn't come up with the name of the song until after I uploaded it and my laziness rivals any in history. So after you download it, just rename the file to "TheGuitarPlayer.mp3", which of course is named that after I attempted to be a musician for a few songs, instead of a guitar player... being a musician is hard, but I've been playing guitar for almost 13 years now. Even though I still suck... :(

More upbeat stuff coming soon

I like rap and stuff with good beats that can make you dance. My next few songs will be like that. My favorite thing about guitar is its percussion. Particularly about my Gretsch going through the Blues Deluxe and my microphone to my computer etc. I love the sound of it. Before I start recording, I usually sit there for a good hour with my eyes closed just listening to the output of the microphone through my headphones. It just sounds so f#%@#$ing good. Compared to my old way of recording, you hardly got any percussive variations no matter how much you tried. Now, just hammer on that B and roll a bass line in E, and it just sounds incredible. No more old way for me!

Also a word on guitar. Again. I noticed that when someone who doesn't play guitar listens to my song from last week (here), they usually judge it based on my soloing ability. Whereas when I listen to it (over and over for hours), I listen to it for the rhythm guitar. Just a thing I noticed when my coworker, the smercenary, and I were on our way back to the office after a client meeting in Exton, and we had to take a back way because it was around 5pm and the Schuylkill Express was jam packed. I decided to put on Jimi Hendrix' "BBC Sessions", a two disk album, which got us through, and "Driving South" made me easily do 90. I didn't know the area that he was taking me, and we were coming up on a turn and he almost missed telling me to take it, and he said "I almost missed the turn there because Jimi's guitar playing is so f%@$ing good." It was just rhythm playing :P Scott's a musician too. But I typically love Jimi's rhythm playing too.

When I practice, lately, I'm practicing my rhythm, so my soloing skill has been declining. I don't wonder if it's because I'm getting better at rhythm that I tend to favorite it and practice it more, getting even better in the process. It's my favorite whether I suck at it or not.

In totally unrelated, totally geeky news, I saw an article about a moon on slashdot that was tagged with the most hilarious tag ever: thatsnomoonitsagasstation. Be sure to read the article.

New Song

I actually recorded this over the weekend. I wasn't going for a melody, since I really don't do that in most songs. I usually just try to screw around over the chord progression, oftentimes forgetting what chord I was playing at a certain part of the song. Especially when it gets a little complex like this song. It's called Sexy :) Happy Valentine's Day!

(I know, I have to fix that buzzing in the background...)

Firefox 3 beta 3 is top notch

I had beta 2 installed for a while, and scrolling certain websites was a bit slow. Today the update was released, and it's a whole new browser. It looks a lot different, it's fast, and the last thing I have to check is if it stops working after a while like beta 2 did. But I mean, a while as in a few days. Check out the release notes here.

Rocking It "Flat Style"

Means I went after work to the Flat Rock Saloon with my coworkers. I tried to sell the motto to the bouncer :D He liked it.

Finally, The Audio Interface Arrives

Hooked it up and played around with everything for a few hours last night. It's crazy how sensitive that mic is. I could play my guitar with my amp off and the mic picked it up a few feet away and facing the other direction (it's a flat mic where one side really has the recording capability).

The headphones I got are way better than the laptop speakers :P But I didn't want the output getting picked up again by the mic, so it was good that I got them, plus these are great headphones. Crazy thing about the mic sensitivity... I could hear clear as day when I used the computer, like clicking the button or typing. First I thought that it was a mouse clicking sound effect in Logic Express, until I clicked around outside of that program.

I threw together a quick test song for your listening pleasure. I used a total of one chord! It's all based around an E or somewhere in the vicinity. Check it out here. It's great that my guitar and amp sound so good through all the equipment I bought! Couldn't be happier. Can't wait to record more!

Open Source is so inexpensive

Keeping with my 'money' theme from the last few posts, here we have something on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. Not including donations, I've paid $0 for all of the software on my other laptop, and it does everything.

Now, I've been thinking about doing something drastic. Since I installed Ubuntu Linux, my development time on that laptop has actually diminished about 100%. I haven't done any development on it. This is because it's so f@#$@#ing slow. I do a lot of ANT builds and they just take forever. The drastic thing I've been thinking of is upgrading my laptop to a new one. Preferably a Lenovo ThinkPad or something. Customizing one of those for a Linux installation (everything except picking Linux, since they only offer Vista Home Basic) is a lot cheaper than configuring it for even Vista Home Basic. All I need is 2GHz Core 2 Duo (the minimum CPU option), 1GB RAM (although I've been bumping it up to 2GB in the "Customize" section), 1Gbps LAN, and integrated graphics. I could opt to have Wireless, but that's extra. It's not that expensive, although I can't afford it now.

So, instead of getting a beefier laptop to run a slow operating system (Gentoo ran super fast on the same exact old crappy laptop), I was looking into some other operating system that's just as powerful and fast as Gentoo, but not the hardest thing to set up. In my search, I decided to go with something that I've been eyeing ever since I got into free software. FreeBSD.

Having this Mac, and having nothing to work on when I got a side job doing .NET with SQL Server for one of the local schools (Episcopal Academy, which isn't exactly 'one of the local schools'), and the Mac being Intel, I found out about that program called "Parallels", which can run virtual machines of multiple operating systems. I have a Windows one installed for all of that development I did for EA, and I have an Ubuntu Linux one for when I tried it out (much like now) before I installed it on my laptop. So, I did the same thing with FreeBSD. I think I'm going to give it a shot on the laptop.

It's a lot easier than Gentoo, that's a plus. It's as well documented as Gentoo (just visit and see for yourself), it's *almost* as fast as Gentoo, and it runs Gnome. The only thing that I was wondering was "Will it run everything?" Yes it will.

FreeBSD is Unix, not Linux. While they are similar in some areas, there's others where they are just very very different. Like, FreeBSD and Linux use different threading models, which Sun depends on in its Linux implementation of Java and Sun does not provide a native implementation of Java for FreeBSD, yet. However, you can get "Linux compatibility mode" running on FreeBSD which will make the Linux implementation work on FreeBSD. The down side of that is that FreeBSD has to build the source for Java to install it, and the source is released under an incompatible license. So, when you install it, it fails, and asks you to download certain files before it can continue. And still, after you do that, you're contractually obligated (through the license) to NOT distribute the resulting built Java binaries. It's weird. There is hope, though, as most believe that Java 7 (it's at 6 right now) will be released under the GPL, since Sun completely open sourced Java recently.

So, I'll give FreeBSD a shot, and if it doesn't work out, then I'll download and try out another one!

Interesting side story. FreeBSD offers its ISOs in "torrent" format. I've known what BitTorrent was since about 7 years ago, but never got into it. It's a giant legal mess since it's also used to distribute "pirated" material. But there are very legal, morally good ways of using BitTorrent. Anyway, I downloaded it through that (a BitTorrent client called "Transmission" for Mac, also free open source software), and it's just neat seeing all the people you're downloading the same file from simultaneously. It's really brilliant software, BitTorrent is.

In light of the MS - Yahoo! News

Me: i'm gonna have to ditch my yahoo im account
Me: you have to get me on AIM or google talk
Jared (on AIM): hello
Me: for some reason i thought you only had a yahoo account
Jared: nope, i have gmail, yahoo, aim
Me: i have no one else on my friend's list in yahoo :P
Jared: hahaha
Jared: you're my only yahoo account too!!
Me: good, i can get rid of that account
Me: hahaahah
Me: man, we shoulda just said something years ago