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Meanwhile…back at JJ’s

Dear Reader,

What is it about 5 chords strung together in an endless-loop guitar rift that speaks to the very soul of musicians? So it started last night at JJs when Alvin Draper hit the stage. I don’t want to give the impression that this was an orderly entrance or that things were organized. The rest of the musicians had completed their setup about 5 minutes before and were either at the bar talking to JoJo (/me waves at JoJo & Tracy) or outside grabbing that last smoke before the set.

Alvin finished his final setup, turned on his microphone and started picking. Just 5 chords strung together in the musical version of a doodle. Like farm hands hearing the far-off dinner bell, the players all perked up, finished their conversations, took that last drag and stomped the butt out; then slowly, each of wandered onto the stage.

Soon there was a drum thumping time as Pavlov called his dogs. Then the second guitar kicked in and filled in the melody line. The bass player eventually wandered onto the stage and filled in the missing pieces. Finally, the keyboardist jumped up from the side of the stage and sat down. With a fanfare of synthesized organ through Leslie speakers usually reserved for tent-revivals, he threw down and church was again in session.

Alvin and the boys did a wonderful job for the next hour and a half. Alvin himself made his guitar cry as he told us “I’ve Got An Angel”. He and the boys (listed on the program only as “and Friends”) tickled our funny-bones as they threw down “Twist and Shout” and brought the house down near the end of the first set with “Mustang Sally”.

All the while there was a steady stream of couples entering and leaving the small dance floor. “Mr. Strut” made an appearance. He’s an “oldish” gentleman who, for the life of me, reminded me of a caricature of an old man. He was quite entertaining with his unique take on interpretive dance that was somewhere between “The Robot” and “The Jerk”. Then there was a couple who made love on the floor like they were the only ones in the room. They were mesmerizing to watch. Their dance was mental, it was spiritual but to those of us watching, it was defiantly physical. (and quite entertaining in a “I need to go call my wife” kind of way)

All-in-all it was a great ending to a great week. If you haven’t made it by JJs, by all means do. If you are in the valley, there’s always something interesting going on. I’m usually there Sundays after 8:00. Drop by and give me a shout-out. (I’m the overweight white-guy with the silly grin on my face!)

Until next time, (l) (k) (bunny),
=C=

Scenes From My World

Dear Reader,

Note:This post is outdated. It is left here for archival purposes.

As I travel through the Valley, I keep seeing things and describing them to people and never doing them justice. Sometimes, it’s just the beauty of downtown San Jose, the colors of The Mercado or the geeky delights of seeing all the computer companies out here. So spent some time yesterday shooting pictures of places that are either meaningful or interesting to me. Because I can’t do anything normally, I decided to set them to music. I’ll warn you, this is a big (201MB) download and it’s really only of interest to those who know me. (I question whether it’s of interest to them) If you want to view it, download it here (link removed). If you are only mildly curious, visit my photos page (link removed) and just hum the tune Kodachrome my Paul Simon as you look at them.

Until next time, it’s getting harder and harder to fill my free time. Expect more silly projects.

=C=

Mac…one week later (Clues for Windows users switching to Mac.)

Dear Reader,

My new companion, my new life-long friend (her name is Squatty, inside joke, those who know it are already giggling) has survived her first week with me and has come through unscathed. She is in as good of condition as when I bought her. (I know that’s important to at least one of you.)

So here’s what I got working this week:

– Kensington Expert Mouse
Trackballs rock! I’ve used this particular brand of trackball on every computer I’ve had for the past 10 years. The one I had plugged into that OTHER computer plugged in and worked out of the box. A quick trip to www.kensington.com landed me the OS X drivers and now all the buttons and the scroll wheel work.

– Logitech Media Keyboards
Again, plugging it into the USB port of my baby and answering a couple of questions and I’m now free of the traditional (albeit pretty and functional) Mac laptop keyboard. Again, a trip to www.logitech.com scored me the OS X drivers and now all the media buttons control iTunes, etc. As with the trackball, this keyboard has been my companion through a couple of computers now and it makes switching to Mac much easier when I don’t have to lose my old friends.

– Logitech Premium USB Headset 350
This is the headset I used to use with Trillian to talk with my wife in TN. (Saves us a TON in long distance charges) As with the keyboard, it just worked. I didn’t even install drivers for this one. It worked out of the box.

– Logitech Quick Cam Pro 400
This little boy plugged in but was not a flawless install. You have to download a couple of different drivers and such. I’m still working to get this one installed. Once I get it working, I’ll let you know how well or how bad it is.

– LG 19″ Monitor Final piece of the hardware puzzle. I plugged in my LG 19″ flat panel display. Again, it recognized it without a problem and now I run a dual display system with the 19″ running as the primary when it’s plugged in and running at 1280×1024. (I think)

So now, my new friend feels like my old computer, at least to my hands and eyes. I am truly amazed at how easy it is to get things to work with the Mac. As someone who has made a good living over the years helping people get DOS and Windows working correctly on their hardware, it scares me to think what I’ll do if more people discover the Mac.

That’s all for today readers.

Until next time, have I mentioned the weather here is beautiful?

=C=

Ok, so MACs don’t suck

Dear Reader,

I know it will come as a shock to those of you who know me and know my deep loathing for McPeople but this weekend, I joined their ranks. Well not entirely, I’m still not smug and condescending…yet.

    Why


Last week, my 1.5 year old Alienware that has been dying since the day I got it, finally gave up the ghost. After arguing with the idiots that Alienware hires for tech support for more than 2.5 hours, I finally convinced them that this is an EX-LAPTOP! They have graciously agreed to repair it according to the warrenty they provided when I purchased the machine. This of-course means that they will pull parts out of other dead-laptops in hopes of piecing together something that will limp along through the rest of the warranty. Sorry guys, I’m sure they build nice desktops but their laptops are crap.

Anyhow, since I do development I need a workspace; so this weekend I found myself in an Apple store in San Jose talking to a man in a Lime Green T-Shirt. (Seriously)


Me: Who do I need to see about purchasing a Mac?
Lime Green T-Shirt Man : Me.
Me: Ok, I'd like to buy a Mac.
LGTM: Ok.

And that was pretty much it. The entire transaction took less than 15 minutes and I was on my way with my Mac.

Now, before you ask, I didn’t buy another Windows box because my wife, (the lovely and talented Kathy Evans) is in the process of finishing her degree in design. Regardless of her portfolio, degree or beautiful smile, without knowledge of a Mac, she can’t get a job as a designer. So we needed a Mac so she can get used to the interface. So I needed a computer and she needs Mac experience. We now have a new addition to the Evans family, a beautiful 1.5 lb baby Mac named “Squatty”.

    Geek Stuff


Ok, so, how does a Windows lifer make the switch? Well, first off, I don’t do a LOT of gaming. I used to but these days, Warcraft is about it. (Warcraft, online, not Worlds of Warcraft) So I bought a copy of it when I bought the Mac. I figured I’d load it over the weekend. Turns out I was much busier this weekend than I thought…but that’s another story.

Mainly when I do with my computers is mail, surf and develop web applications and services. My tools of choice are Apache, PHP, MySQL. Some quick reading turned up XAMPP which is my favorite Windows AMP tool. It loads everything into an easily managable package. I use it at work as do most of my team mates. So I was elated to find that it was available for OS X.

Next, program editor. Now I was excited to find that my favorite commandline editor, nano, is included in OS X because that maked editing config files and such in the terminal window much easier. But for program editing, I need something a little mroe robust. My current favorite is Komodo and that’s what my teams uses for their development. A little poking around and I found the Beta for OS X for Komodo. (and a mighty w00t went up from the crowd)

For mail and surfing, the built-in Mail and Safari do just fine however I’ll probably switch to Thunderbird and FireFox because it’s what I know. (Mail is a bit slow when handing emails with large graphics attached but other than that it’s IMAP implementation beats Outlook hands down.)

For FTP, I downloaded a little command line ftp client ncftp since it’s what I use on Linux a lot. However, because OS X is FreeBSD based and so many of my Linux friends come pre-installed, ssh and scp were already there. This makes moving file to and from my production server ever so much easier.

So let’s recap, I use my computer for:
* Warcraft
* Development
* Mail
* Surfing

I found :
* Warcraft
* XAMPP/Komodo
* Mail
* Safari

Hmmmm….everything I do on Windows I can do on my Mac. So the question begs to be asked. If I can do everything on my Mac that I can do on Windows and the Mac is easier to use, why do I need Windows again?

Until next time, LyMy,

=C=

Blues

Dear Reader,

In my never ending quest to find things to fill my time, I have stumbled across a gold mine. Well, it’s dark and kinda dank but its not really a cave, more of a dive. I speak of a place called JJ’s which is right down the street from where I live. Awsome little dive where the blues rock every night of the week. This little hole-in-the-wall bar is located in a generic strip-mall on Stephens Creek Blvd in San Jose. Sandwiched between a matress store and a sporting goods shop is a blues emporium that will surprise you.

I hit it Sunday night for a couple of hours and was blown away. When I got there 5 old white guys (and that’s important only because you don’t normally think of 5 old white guys when you think of blues.) were turning up. Since the show hadn’t actually, started, I hit the free Sunday BBQ and sat down to wait. Soon enough, they started picking. They had a tight sound. (well, ok, as tight of a sound as you can get playing blues) To my untrained ear, they sounded like they were a bunch of guys that got together every week and picked for a while. Imagine my surprise when I asked the Sound Engineer what band this was and he replied that they were just 5 guys that showed up with instruments. (Yes, Love, like Amy and the Total Strangers but with facial hair)

They spent an hour running through some of the classics. At one point the guy playing lead actually looked at the others and said “let’s play something in G”. And with the practiced ease of national acts like “Stewie and the Cow Tones” the launched into a song that I assume was actually in G. Of course, they played one of the few blues songs I recognize, “Sweet Home Chicago”. (I sang along but now, reading the words, I butchered it. No wonder people were snickering.)

Long about 9:00 PM, Alvin Draper hit the stage. Alvin looks a lot like Morgan Freeman but sounds nothing like him. He and his band (at least one of the pickers from the Jam Session) let lose for a set that was pretty damn good. For an old guy, his boney old fingers can really pick.

So for the price of a couple of drinks, I was fed, entertained and left with a warm feeling in my stomach. (Which was either the alcohol kicking in or the polish sausage, not sure which)

If you are ever in San Jose and looking for some place nice and quiet to just kick back and relax, JJ’s is probably not the place you want to go. but if you are looking for dark and dank with killer blues and decent drink prices then yea, JJs is the place you want to hang.

Until next time, It’s lonely exploring out here by myself,
=C=