Memorial Day

Even if you don’t agree with the current war in Iraq, don’t forget to stop for a moment today and remember those who served and gave their lives so that you could live in the United States of America.

Finally got Open Genera running

Symbolics OpenGenera

The Open Genera LISP development environment by Symbolics. It’s Brad Parker’s x86-64 port, running in a 64-bit Ubuntu 7.10 VM under VMWare Fusion on my Mac Mini.

For instructions on how to get it running, see here, here, or here.

I still pine after a real Symbolics Lisp Machine. Unfortunately, I can’t justify $1500 for a MacIvory board, an old 68K Mac to run it in, and the Symbolics keyboard with ADB adapter.

Score at Goodwill Computerworks

Houston recently opened a Goodwill Computerworks location. I was very happy to see this because I missed my weekly Saturday browsing sessions at the Austin location.

Last week, I picked up a great load of books:

– Murphy’s Law
– The Elements of Programming Style (both editions)
– COBOL With Style
– FORTRAN With Style
– Programming Proverbs for FORTRAN
– Programming in VAX-11 C
– Software Tools
– The C Programming Language (first edition, two copies)
– UNIX System Administration Handbook (first edition, yellow cover)

Today, i went back to pick up a book about BCPL for $2, and while walking towards the cash register, looked down at the tub of PS/2 mice.

Sitting there on top of the pile like the king of the hill, was a Logitech Trackman Marble FX trackball!

I grabbed it, hurried to the register, paid the $8, and brought it home. “Hey honey! I have a surprise for you!” Amy turned around, and I handed it to her. “OOH! It’s so.. shiny…. I told you flowers were overrated!”

Only in a nerd household could a ten-year-old trackball be worth more in karma points than a dozen roses.

The Ten Dollar Digital TV

I recently got my $40 digital TV transition coupons, and found that the local H.E.B. grocery chain was selling a digital-to-analog TV “converter” (it’s a tuner with RF and AV output) for $40 + tax.

A few days later, I came home with a pair of the converters for a grand total of $6.60. On my way home, I stopped by Electronic Parts Outlet and picked up a couple pairs of “rabbit ears” antennas and a matching adapter (spade lugs to F-Male).

Tonight I unpacked it all to try things out. I’d first thought about running the AV output into a box I have that takes composite video and gives VGA out, but that would leave me with no audio.

Digging through my junk box, I found a little 3.5″ LCD display that takes AV in and has a speaker. Bingo!

I present the Ten Dollar Digital TV:

Philco TB100HH9 Converter Box: $3.30
Antenna and adapter: $6.70
Junky LCD Display: Free

Ten Dollar Digital TV

A decision..

Warning: Political opinions ahead.

I had $29 bouncing around in PayPal, and for a week or so had been debating what to buy.. Gun stuff, books, etc. – but hadn’t been able to decide on what to spend it on. Last night I finally spent it on stuff from store.barackobama.com.

This year is the first time that I’ve ever donated money or contributed to a political party, because this is the first year that I’ve seen a candidate that actually offers hope for the future. I’d previously donated $10.01 to his campaign back in February, and will be donating more before November.

In 2004, I switched parties and voted for Kerry simply because he was running against Bush. In 2008, I’m voting for the candidate that can pull us out of this mess.

Thoughts on Growing Old and Growing Up

I sit and think about getting older.

I turn 34 later this year. Everything between age 21 now has just been a blur. Too much of being a workaholic. Too much waking up on a Thursday and thinking “The week’s gone by already?” Too much time spent not accomplishing anything that really matters in the long run other than paying bills and getting by.

I’m seven years older than my parents were when they had me.
I never thought that I would own a house – but now I’m in my *second* home.
I’m making four times what I did in my first “real job” at ioNET in 1995.

I never thought that I would find someone to spend my life with who could put up with my quirks, hobbies, and tendency to be a workaholic. I’ve been with Amy for TEN YEARS now – a third of my life – and we’ve been married for seven of those years.

I don’t “feel” like an adult. I still feel like a kid who is “managing to get by”.
Does this ever change? Do you ever grow older and finally feel “grown up” and mature?

I need a jeweler/watch repair recommendation in Houston

I’m having a heck of a time finding a jeweler or watch repair place to do a simple bezel insert replacement on a pair of Invicta 8926 watches (Rolex Submariner clones). I’ve got the replacement parts, I just need someone with steadier hands to do the actual work of popping off the old insert and gluing the new one in.

When the inserts arrived in the mail last weekend, I took everything to my normal jeweler, the Jared location at Gessner and I-10. Their watch repair person said “Sorry, we’re not an Invicta dealer, I won’t work on them.” I’ve done thousands of dollars of business with them at that location, but their refusal to do a 5-minute job on a $100 watch (when they know I’ve been considering the eventual purchase of a $6K watch from them) made me REALLY frustrated.

I then headed home, and realized that Houston Jewelry was in a strip mall a couple of blocks from the house. I stopped in, explained the situation, and that I just needed a simple part replacement done. The lady I spoke to said “Sure, we’ll work on anything – leave it with us and we’ll call you on Monday with an estimate, this shouldnt take them long at all.” I just got off the phone after they called (note that it’s now Tuesday) and they said “Sorry, we don’t work on Invicta watches.”

Why is it so hard to find someone in west Houston that’s willing to take my money and do this simple 5-minutes-per-watch part replacement?

Heck, I’ll even provide illustrated instructions!

August 2008 Update: Although I ended up fixing one of the watches myself, Rex Solomon (owner of Houston Jewelry) has contacted me and offered to have his watchmaker do a bezel swap if I still need it.