Let’s Call This a Hiatus

I did not get a news cast out this weekend, as much as I wanted to. Mostly I was robbed of about half a day by traffic on Saturday just trying to get to my social commitment for that day. I spent most of Sunday recuperating and catching up on some personal chores which I had allowed to lapse to an embarassing degree.

This week I hope to be able to get a little writing done each night this week. I have two goals. One is to get at least next week’s feature written though I’d also like to outline the feature after that if possible. The other is to do at least some of the preparation work for this weekend’s news cast during the week rather than waiting until Saturday to get started. This weekend is a holiday weekend and it is one of the few where I take part in plans with my wife’s family. If I can get the news cast notes pulled together by Saturday night, then I should be able to record at the usual time, after returning home from brunch.

I don’t seem to be doing so well on time management lately. It has nothing to do with the new day job as the commute and schedule are nearly identical to my old job. I certainly did overcommit to my brewing lately, induging in back-to-back batches that are more demanding than spacing them out a bit more. Skipping all but one con this year may also be a contributing factor. In years past I’ve done at least one or two conventions by now which usually afford me a nice break from the routine and allow me to capture some decent content for sharing that also essentially each give me a free week or two where I can take a break or get ahead.

So let’s call this past Sunday and this Wednesday a hiatus and I’ll warn that with the holiday and brunch plans, the hiatus might expand to include this weekend, too. I had a couple of ideas for next week’s feature and am pretty confident I can get back on track then. I even have an idea or two for the feature after, usually a pre-requisite to getting ahead, even a little. At the outside this spontaneous hiatus should only last until next Wednesday at the latest. I’d make a firmer commitment to a news cast this weekend but judging by my recent track record and how this past weekend played out, I think the safer bet is 50/50 odds.

Snow Induced Hiatus

I was just warming up to record the intro and other bits to finish off last night’s episode so I could post it on schedule when the power flickered three times and then cut out. As of late this morning when I left to brave the Metro to see if circumstances at the day job were any better, we still had no power. We had been listening to the local AM news station all morning for word of restoration but our pathologically incompetent power company has been conspicuously silent.

Roads were reasonably clear on the drive out of the neighborhood with only one traffic light out on my short trip to the nearby Metro station. There were however many trees and branches down in the area. I called our local power company before I left to report our outage. I was not greeted with any sort of information on the extent of the power losses or an ETA on restoration. Checking there site now from work, our area of the county was hit the worst with just about one out of every two customers served having no power. Pepco is still assessing the damage, having already reported what they describe as “major system-wide outages”, but still hasn’t posted any ETAs as of yet.

I can’t help but wonder at the quality of repairs after the major power loss this time last year. I know rationally that downed trees and branches pretty much trump anything they could have done in the way of making the system in the area more robust or in the preparations for the storm. All that being said, images of chewing gum and twist ties on the poles keep dancing through my head.

Unless we got extraordinarily lucky, this week’s feature cast will be postponed until next week. Apologies to Jill Reilly James and Sarah Stierch who spoke at Wiki X DC and I already told that I’d be releasing their talks as part of this Wednesday’s episode. It cannot be helped.

If the power outage continues into the weekend, it will also make missing my third news cast in a row pretty likely. That also cannot be helped as I cannot do the reading and research necessary to prepare for news shows without power and hence Internet access.

Unless power is miraculously restored before this evening, the outage will also jeopardize the release of episode six of my other podcast, too. If my co-host and producer, John Taylor Williams, still has power we may be able to make shift. I’ll coordinate with him as the day progress to see if at least one podcast can be salvaged this week.

I’ll post as I can with updates and I appreciated your patience with this act of nature.

Update: I should have made clear that we are all safe and warm despite the power loss.  We learned after the extended outage during last year’s blizzard and were well prepared.  We have a kerosene space heater with two tanks worth of fuel, various Coleman camping implements with fresh batteries and cooking fuel, and packed our perishables into coolers filled with snow out on the deck within thirty minutes of losing power.  We also have a power inverter for charging gadgets as a last resort, mostly for the benefit of the kids who aren’t nearly so accepting of enforced quiet reading time all day and night.

Power Outage

It has been a crazy year for weather in my county, just a few miles outside the nation’s capital–the DC snowpocalypse, a heat wave, a minor earthquake and the most devastating twenty minute storm I’ve ever seen. While some of our neighbors suffered damage, mostly to their parked cars, due to the intense but short lived wind, we managed to squeak by with just a bunch of detritus all over our yard. Unfortunately, power also went out pretty much clear across the county. Our immediate concern is keeping everyone fed without spoilage and to keep the kids distracted.

I had just posted the 2nd weekly update after finishing my notes for last night’s show when the power went out. The browser was literally still spinning on the form submission for the post when my UPS started its plaintive song. I was able to cleanly shutdown my system but clearly was unable to record last night. I am not sure when I will be able to record next, either. Preliminary comments from the power company range between two days and at least a week though the Post this morning said Pepco doesn’t even have an estimate yet.

Thankfully the metro trains were running this morning and downtown DC seems little the worse for wear. I’ll try to keep up blogging for the duration and have posted my notes from the news cast I missed. Until power is restored, I don’t have anyway to fully produce the audio of the show so will be on hiatus until power at the house is restored.

Thankfully having power at work means I can carry in all of the portable entertainment devices for my family and charge them up while I work. Unlike the power loss during the snow storm, the family can also get out of the house and see what in the county gets power back first in the coming days. Only a few blocks from my home, the traffic lights were back on so perhaps communal areas like the library and movie theater will be with power shortly if not already. The temperature has also obligingly dropped a few degrees so the kids can be kicked out into the yard before the cabin fever completely sets in.

Lab Move Complete

My Heirloom Desk – 1

Originally uploaded by cmdln

I got a hustle on this morning and carted in the rest of my books and odd bits. As you can see in the pictures, everything is back in place. I actually still have to go through my desk once more to junk old cables and loose ends I don’t need. But the space is definitely livable once again.

It is an unimaginable relief to have my workspace back. I have been listening to Pandora non-stop, in celebration, as I have been puttering around the last few days in here. I have missed my old JBL Creature speakers.

I will do some test recording either today or definitely tomorrow. I expect that to go well but I’m sure with the change of space, layout, and the new machine, I may have a few minor kinks to iron out. I already tested the mixer driver with the new Mac and the new version of GarageBand. I just need to make sure I didn’t make an error in re-connecting everything since then or that I am getting any odd echoes in the new space.

Oh, yeah, this of course means my semi-hiatus from podcasting is officially over.

Moved into the New Lab, Mostly

I am moved into the new lab, mostly. The carpet went in, as scheduled, and we caught a piece of luck in swinging the furniture move, today, too. I had to do the finally moving to get the shelves and desk where I planned, but that was thankfully much easier than getting everything up the stairs. My new computer is also in place and I’d say I am a little over halfway complete with re-shelving my books.

I need to do some cable management, too, and finalize the placement of peripherals on my desk. Those two are somewhat related and getting the cables tidy and exactly how much wiggle room I have to shift my monitor, mixer, etc. depend on each other. I’ll take another round of photos once the shelving and desk arrangement is complete.

Regardless, all of my necessary gear is installed and running so I can return to regular product as planned. I also should be able to try out my new scheme for improved baffling. I’ll probably do some audio tests before the full show recording on Sunday just to see what still may need tweaking and to give everything a proper shakedown before sitting down for an actual show.

It feels good to have my lab back, all the more so in a new location with fresh paint, new carpet and a much more comfortable and convenient furniture layout. Still, if everything was the same, it would be just as much a relief merely having my dedicated hacking and recording space back. The fact that it is substantially improved across the board is gravy.

And Now for the Lab, Carpet

As promised, here’s another weekly update. Week two of my semi-hiatus should see new carpet and the furniture moved. I should be back to regular production next Sunday. I especially appreciate the new listeners who are checking the show out as a result of hearing my promo on Linux Outlaws. Hopefully you are checking out some of the archived shows in the meantime.

The other news of the week is that I received the new computer I ordered, a Mac Pro. I believe I may have gotten the last Harpertown eight core system Apple assembled. Unfortunately, the price point for Apple’s least expensive eight core is now higher. That system ships with more memory and storage than the one I ordered. Compared to my G5, though, this new system is a rocket and I am happier with my budgeting choice. 8GB of after market RAM also helps smooth out the difference between the 5400 and 5500 based system.

I spent yesterday afternoon configuring a dual boot for Linux. It went smoothly and I am happy to have a native Linux system, again, for working from home and testing my personal projects. Since the new system is a desktop, Linux recognized all of the hardware with no trouble at all. I may experiment with Audacity, just to see how it compares, now that I can do so easily.

This week I received a bit of feedback. I have one questions for Vaskin and I to dig into in the planned show on license choices for hackers. Paul Fischer also sent a bit of audio feedback asking after location capabilities for flashbake. He suggests that I ought to be able to code something up similar to the iPod Touch which doesn’t have a GPS chip but can still approximate location. It turns out he is right and there are plenty of tools for doing location based on public IP address. I expect to have something hacked together in the next week or two.

I have been hesitant about location services as part of my own lifestream, just because of the privacy risk. But for a private, local-only git repository, I think it would make sense for users who travel a lot, as a more fine grained bit of context than the city used for the time zone module. I have to say that on the whole, flashbake has me thinking a bit more about the various social services and pieces of other information I publish as more of a cohesive whole, as the term life stream suggests.

The next update on the lab will be on the log Wednesday night. I may post another update Thursday for with photos of the furniture on place. If I still have a good number of books and other material to move in, I may wait for a final update when everything is in place.

Once again, thanks for your patience.


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The Lab is Getting Paint!

We have firmed up the details with our contractor. We agreed on an the estimate, the color has been selected and the date has been set. They start work Thursday morning, they’ll need to do a bit of spackle and sanding before they get to paint. Thankfully our contractor gets that I need this done quickly as I use that space to work from home not just for my home studio.

We’ll call the carpet folks, tomorrow, and they should be able to come out for the estimate that day or the next. They should be able to install as soon as the paint is dry, early next week.

Lastly, our contractor was agreeable to adding a couple of hours for moving the furniture which is a relief. I should be all settled in by the middle to the end of next week. Should be in time for an interview I’d like to schedule for another podcast next week. It will definitely be in time for my interview with Zittrain at the end of the month.

That also means I should be back to my full production schedule by the 22nd, if all goes well. I’ll try to remember to take some pictures, tomorrow, of the room before any work starts and grab some snaps as progress is made.

Lab Move Status and Show Hiatus

As I mentioned in the last two shows, I am in the process of moving my lab to a different room in my home. I call it my lab because it is both a home office and a studio. That and I have the domain name, bitbucketlabs.net.

Today we cleared one of the major hurdles in this process. I completely emptied the old room. We moved my younger son’s bedroom into the old room and cleared the room into which my lab will be moved in the process. The room into which I am moving my lab was our original nursery for the boys and has been hard used as such, then a shared bedroom, and then just a bedroom for the younger of the two. It needs paint, carpeting, and several small repairs.

Now that it is empty, we can schedule the painting. We have a contractor that we’ve used for some other serious home improvement work who coincidentally called the other day offering a discount on painting for the rest of this month. Hopefully once we have the estimate and date, then everything else should go quickly. We’ve used a national carpet retailer who does installation before with good results so are confident we can have that done within days of the paint being dry.

I have my great grandfather’s large, nara wood desk which is the last obstacle. I love this desk since it is simply huge so affords plenty of space for my mixer, mics, monitor, mouse, keyboard, etc. It has several slide out panels, too, for temporary, additional workspace. It is, however, quite huge. I cannot move it myself up two flights of tight stairs and I am thinking it is probably worth the price to pay for a few hours of some professional movers time to move it. I also have my father-in-law’s tall, teak book shelves which will line one wall of the new lab. If we are getting pro movers, they can take care of those, too.

Painting, carpeting, and moving will probably take a couple of weeks. I am optimistic I can have it all done by the end of the month, before I am scheduled to interview Jonathan Zittrain.

In the meantime, I’ll experiment with trying to get one or the other computer setup in a temporary space for recording in the meantime. I am less optimistic about that working so well. I get the house to myself on Sundays, which may be workable, but the only space I can use is adjacent to our living room, which simply may not work for weeknight recording.

I will post some audio tonight with this same explanation and to announce that the show will be on semi-hiatus for the next couple of weeks. I will post regular updates, both on the blog and will try to get corresponding audio out for those who do not subscribe to the blog. If I can, I’ll try to get a few episodes out during this transition but realistically, it just may not happen until my new computer is hooked up to the new FIOS router in the new lab. Regardless of my audio production, I have a couple of ideas for the next features so may just be able to get a bit ahead of writing for the show if I don’t get any episodes out.


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