Just a little crazy

So I’m sitting at the coffee shop, up since 4 AM, more than a little sleep deprived working on finishing my software engineering presentation for this morning.  And I’m listening to the Muriel’s Wedding soundtrack, and I have the uncontrollable urge to kick back my chair and do the swinging arm dance to ABBA’s Waterloo.  OK, I’m going just a little bit crazy.

date:2005-12-07 07:33:28
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Cold, Hard Cash

So I saw two movies over the past two days, both “bio-pics” and both quite good in their own way. It seems that Ray is what biographical films get compared to of late, probably due to Foxx’s Oscar win. I haven’t seen Ray, so I can’t make that comparison. What I can say of both Capote and Walk The Line is that it’s been a long time since I saw acting so compelling, so convincing in a film. Capote was incredibly good — Philip Seymour Hoffman does an amazing job with Capote’s voice, ticks and mannerisms, and as such I found him completely believable. I’ve loved Hoffman since his performance opposite De Niro in Flawless, and he did not disappoint.

But Walk The Line was an even more incredible movie experience. Maybe because of the memories associated with Johnny Cash that I brought to the movie. I grew up listening to The Man in Black on 8-Track, lying in front of my dad’s stereo wearing his oversized headphones, blissfully switching between “programs” (for those who never had the joy of a 8-Track, there are 8 audio tracks written to the medium — two tracks (for stereo sound) for 4 “programs”). Joaquin Phoenix doesn’t look much like Cash. There are a few scenes with young Cash and young Elvis touring together (“you want some chili fries?”), and I actually thought Phoenix looked more like I picture Elvis in my mind than the actor playing Elvis, but that’s neither here nor there. Despite the lack of physical similarity, Phoenix was Cash in my mind by the end of the film.

I knew going into the film that both Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, who plays June Carter[-Cash], had performed their own vocals for the film. From the first time she opened her mouth and sang, Witherspoon convinced me she was a member of the first family of country music. My family used to vacation in Gatlinburg, TN, and Witherspoon’s Carter was exactly how I remember those performers. I was initially disappointed by Phoenix’s vocals — “nice, I thought, but no Johnny.” But as the film progressed I found them more and more convincing. I’m not sure if it was an intentional decision on the part of the filmmakers — I guess it’s reasonable to assume that Cash’s voice and sound matured as his career progressed — or if it was simply due to being drawn in, but by the end of the film, I was convinced that Cash himself was singing.

So I love Johnny Cash, so either this film had a high bar or I was pre-disposed to like it (or perhaps both), but it was satisfying in every sense. It focuses on Johnny’s early career paying particular attention to the years immediately following his signing to Sun Records, through his prescription drug addiction, to his marriage to June Carter. As I said earlier, Witherspoon’s performance as June Carter completely changed my mind about her acting capabilities. It was refreshing to have the view that Witherspoon==Legally Blond challenged; I guess I never considered that she was acting for that film as well. Duh, Nathan.

I had the good fortune of catching the re-air of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash interviews on Fresh Air yesterday afternoon after seeing the film. I don’t much care for country music these days, but hearing his voice on the radio reminded me just how sad it was when he died in 2003. Hopefully Walk The Line will expose his life and especially his music to a whole new audience who hasn’t heard it before.

date:2005-11-25 08:13:04
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Custom Log Formats with Squid

[The first in a series of posts to help me (and hopefully others) remember how to get `Zope <http://zope.org>`_ running behind Squid.]

In a world where lots and lots of tools have been written to analyze Apache httpd logs, it’s a little annoying we can’t use the same tools for Squid, especially if we’re using it to accelerate our website. Luckily the kind folks at Zope Corp have written a handy patch for Squid to enable custom log formats. Unluckily the documentation is, well, a little terse. We wanted to generate Squid access logs in Apache’s “combined” format. So here’s what you do:

  1. Build a patched version of Squid 2.5. The patch is available at http://devel.squid-cache.org/customlog/

  2. Modify squid.conf. In our case we added two lines:

    logformat httpd %>a - %un [%{%d/%b/%Y:%H:%M:%S %z}tl] "%rm %ru" %Hs %&lt;st "%{Referer}>h" "%{User-agent}>h"
    access_log /usr/local/squid/var/logs/combined.log httpd
    
  3. Restart Squid.

For something so simple, its amazing how long you can flounder trying to figure out what needs to be quoted, which direction the greater than or less than signs need to go, etc. Note that in this case we’ve defined an entirely new access_log. Once you’re convinced that the new log is what you want, you can disable the standard one by setting cache_access_log none.

For those who want a different format, the complete list of fields available to the logformat directive is available at http://devel.squid-cache.org/customlog/logformat.html.

date:2005-11-08 09:53:54
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A matter of perspective, I guess

Joel relates an interesting way to look at the big boys of tech:

A very senior Microsoft developer who moved to Google told me that Google works and thinks at a higher level of abstraction than Microsoft. “Google uses Bayesian filtering the way Microsoft uses the if statement,” he said. That’s true. Google also uses full-text-search-of-the-entire-Internet the way Microsoft uses little tables that list what error IDs correspond to which help text. Look at how Google does spell checking: it’s not based on dictionaries; it’s based on word usage statistics of the entire Internet, which is why Google knows how to correct my name, misspelled, and Microsoft Word doesn’t.
date:2005-10-17 19:55:24
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There goes my VC funding

So I just saw a story reporting that Palm is replacing the SIM tray for Treo 650 users. That totally ruins my VC opportunity. Garrett’s 650 had this problem — you bumped it or put it in your pocket and the phone portion turned off. Not exactly a desirable feature, huh? So I crafted the “SIM Shim”, which I figured was the perfect opportunity for a VC-funded startup I could ride into a firey crash. OK, so it was really just card stock cut to the shape of the SIM card, but it worked better than any solution Cingular had (“uh, just check it periodically, sir”). Damn you Palm!

date:2005-10-10 13:24:34
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Best. Man. Ever.

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I’ve already mentioned that yesterday’s PyCon seesions were a little long, not ending until after 7. What I failed to mention is that when I returned to my room, a dozen roses sat on my desk.

“Hope you have a great week… can’t wait till you get home! All my love, Garrett”

He is the best man ever.

date:2005-03-24 19:14:46
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The Palm

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So I just got back from surgery. The doctor removed a 3/8” splinter of some sort from the web space of my right hand. God knows how it got in there, but it had developed an “abcess-like granuloma” (his words). So I’m typing a little slow, with the Darvacet on standby.

date:2005-03-14 11:25:35
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Here Fishy, Fishy

Without a flash, and through a lousy disposable camera view finder, this is one of the better underwater photos from our snorkeling trip. Too bad the shark photo didn’t turn out better. And no, I’m not kidding.

date:2005-03-14 06:58:08
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Happy New Year (and once again, where have I been?)

I rang in the New Year with friends in Milwaukee. Garrett and I drove up the 30th, and stayed with our friend Jeanie. New Year’s Eve Jeanie and Rich showed us a slice of Milwaukee, starting with the amazing Alterra coffee shop and concluding with a tour of the Milwaukee Art Museam.

Alterra is located in the former Lake Michigan Pump Station, which the signage helpfully informs was used to pump raw sewage out of Lake Michigan. Whatever its former use, the atmosphere is amazing inside: exposed brick, huge windows, and an almost library-like feel (in the best way possible). It probably helped that it was a clear, Midwest winter day, but I still felt an immediate connection.

The Milwaukee Museum of Art was also a really nice surprise. Rich said they’d recently renovated it, and I was very impressed with the modern and contemporary art collections. Not that I’m an expert, it just was more than I expected (for whatever reason).

That evening watched Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Once again I’m apparently the last to know about something good (witness my ignorant disdain for REM’s Automatic for the People in high school, only to discover it a couple years ago). Suffice to say, Hedwig is an amazing film. Visually, musically, everything. I wish I had followed up on Mark’s recommendation of over a year ago and watched it then.

So that leads me to my single New Year’s resolution. This year, I will live more. I’ll stop waiting to feel comfortable before putting myself out there: I’ll do it just because it is uncomfortable. I’ll go to the Avante Garde gallery openings, not in spite of not knowing “the crowd” but because I don’t know them — and because I want to know them. I’ll let you know how it goes.

date:2005-01-02 21:46:35
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slug:happy-new-year-and-once-again-where-have-i-been
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