Monthly Archives: May 2007

Walking again

So I had my second appointment with the athletic therapist guy yesterday and he recommended that I get out walking again. I tried walking around at lunch last week, but ended up in pain the rest of the afternoon. But he did stuff to my back and that helped last time, so I decided to give it a try. So I walked to work today.

And, while I’m in a little bit of pain, I seem to be mostly okay. I’m debating going out for another walk at lunch. There’s a book I’d like to pick up. (I just did the smart thing and checked online with Chapters and the UW bookstore and neither have it in stock. So I’m better off staying here and ordering it online anyway. I’ll probably just walk up the street a bit for lunch).

I’m way behind on podcasts. I think I’ll just delete a bunch and start fresh. There are a few that I’d like to catch up on, like CBC’s Ideas. I added a few while I was laid up, too. CBC added a bunch, Paul Tevis has a new one that he’s doing about indie press games: The Voice of the Revolution, Penny Arcade started updating their “Downloadable Content” podcast again, which is hilarious, and I’m trying out a couple environmentalist things that may or may not stay in iTunes for long.

All in all, a good day so far. I feel like I’m finally getting things back on track.

Free Software!

A couple things appeared in my river of news this morning. I like to point out this sort of synchronicity when it happens.

First, Mike Gunderloy (who wrote Coder to Developer, which I liked despite it being somewhat Microsoft-centric), feels compelled to clarify his motivations for turning away from the Microsoft software ecosystem and start looking towards free and open software solutions for himself and his clients. He started a new blog (A Fresh Cup to do just that after years of writing The Daily Grind). I think I just made it sound boring, but honestly, it’s worth a read…

But it basically boils down to this: Microsoft itself is built on open intellectual property from the first three or four decades of computer science. The folks who invented computer programming for the most part didn’t worry about who owned what; algorithms and ideas and languages and interface improvements were freely shared, and everyone built on everyone else’s work. Now, if the Microsofts of the world have their way, we’ll end up with everything in fenced-off gardens: every piece of user interface, every algorithm, every data structure, will belong to someone, and will not be available for use unless you pay for it somehow. It will become literally impossible to legally write software without entering into a web of commercial cross-licensing agreements.

As if to prove his point, Steve Ballmer showed up on Boing Boing this morning to declare (without going into specifics) that Free and Open Software was in violation of some 235 Microsoft patents.

Microsoft depends on developers to, er, embrace and extend their platform. Microsoft may have thousands and thousands of developers working for them, but they can’t do everything. They need the goodwill of the people who are making the killer apps to do so on their platform. And these people aren’t stupid. They can see what’s coming.

But I see Microsoft leading the charge into a world where the independent software developer ceases to exist, because it will not be possible to develop software without an intellectual property lawyer at your elbow. And I don’t want to live in that world. As a result, I choose to cut off what tiny bit I can of the fuel that keeps Microsoft going: the licensing dollars I pay for Microsoft software, and those that my clients pay for deploying the software that I write, as well as my own implied moral support for the company’s policies. It’s not a whole lot, probably not more than a few million bucks over the remaining course of my career, but it’s something. [LINK]

Athletic therapy

I’ve been in varying amounts of pain since the fall. That was nearly two months ago now. Cracked ribs are meant to heal in 4-6 weeks.

And I think they did. The ribs themselves seem fine. It’s my back that’s the problem.

My sister’s some sort of athletic therapist or something. To be honest, I never figured out exactly what she does. She travels around with sports teams and tends to injured players, fits people for braces and that sort of thing. It’s all very mysterious. Anyway, she told me I should book an appointment for physiotherapy or something.

And then she remembered that one of her former classmates worked for a clinic in Kitchener. She started instant messaging him while she was talking to me and figured out a bunch of the details for me regarding insurance and whatnot. I called the next day and booked an appointment.

I drove down on Wednesday and sat on a bench and he asked me questions and stuff to ascertain how I was in pain. Not entirely easy to answer, though, because at that moment, I wasn’t, much. If I take it easy I’m fine. It’s only from sitting upright, standing or walking that I have problems. He checked out the ribs and they seemed okay, felt around for bad spine stuff, and that seemed generally to be in order as well. Then he worked out one of the muscles in my back. You know… massage.

Muscles spasm to protect a broken bone. I guess the stabilizer muscles in my back did that and have stayed tensed up. Or something. He didn’t give me that much of an explanation. Whatever he did to that side of my back, though, it seems to have worked. The other side is bothering me a lot more, where it wasn’t nearly as bad. So I’ll get him to work on that one next week.

I’m very glad that it wasn’t some horrible spine thing.

My back’s still pretty weak, so I’m not going to push anything too far. I did manage to mow the front lawn today, though, and I’m quite happy about that. Maybe next weekend I can sow some grass seed and get some gardening done.

Ubuntu switcher

Ubuntu Feisty Fawn came out last week and I finally decided to pick up another harddrive (they’re cheap, after all) and dual boot Ubuntu.

I’ve been pondering the switch for a while. I have to use Windows all day at work, and I’ve never been overly fond of it. Sure, it’s not quite as offensive as it once was, but my nonconformist tendencies kinda force me to look for alternatives wherever possible.

I bought my first PC in 1999 (I’d owned and used Amigas all through high school and university. I had to give it up in the end because, honestly, a 7 year old computer just isn’t useful no matter what sort of computer it is). When I got it, I’d fully intended to run Linux as my main operating system. Maybe I’d dual-boot Windows 98 for games or something, but I had no intention of staying there.

That didn’t last very long. Desktop Linux wasn’t anywhere near ready for prime time. It was just painful.

But here I am, 8 years later, trying it again.

I’ll switch to bullet mode to talk about specifics.

  • I’ve got the pptp client connecting to work. I had to flip the “Refuse EAP” switch in the settings because the debug log said the connection errors I was getting happened right after an EAP request. Huhn. I have no idea what that means either.
  • So I can log into work and log into my desktop with the default remote desktop client. Hurray, I can do work stuff.
  • I miss foobar2000 already. I haven’t exactly settled on a music player, but my favourite so far is Muine.
  • OpenOffice Spreadsheet kinda sucks. The graphing is pretty primitive. Gnumeric is quite a bit better, but it crashes when it tries to import my diet-related Excel spreadsheets. I’m thinking about writing something to accomplish the same task with Python, GTK and sqlite. That could be fun.
  • Gaim isn’t Trillian, but I guess it works all right.
  • I actually got my Dell 1110 printer sort of working. I was kinda annoyed after I got the thing that it was so resolutely Windows only. I hope Dell starts thinking about Linux drivers. They’re going to be selling Ubuntu machines, so getting their hardware to work with them would only seem sensible.
  • In some cases, hardware support is actually better than Windows. Probably because hardware manufacturers are shitty software developers. So having actual coders have a crack at the hardware yields better results. Sometimes. Except when shit doesn’t work. Like my Linksys USB wifi adapter.
  • I still hate The Gimp. At some point I’m going to want to edit images and I’m going to be forced to use it. I’m not looking forward to that day.

My poor tree

The tree in front of my house (a Norway Maple, I discovered today) is not a happy tree.

It had tar spots on the leaves last year, worse than the year before. Some of the bark started falling off over the winter. I noticed a woodpecker having at it in the early spring (I have pictures I should post…). Yesterday evening I noticed a whole bunch of little black caterpillars going at the wood beneath some of bark splitting wounds (again, pictures… I need to bring in a card reader). All in all, I’m pretty concerned for the health of my tree.

Norway maples aren’t native and are considered invasive further south. But it’s nice and shades the yard and front window in the summer and gives me privacy. So it’d be a shame to lose it.

It’s a foot from the road, though, so I suspected it might be a city tree. So I called up the city this morning and they’re going to have someone come look at it. I guess we’ll see what happens from there.