Archive for February, 2007

Jabbering

It’s starting to happen. When I first heard about Jabber years ago, I remember thinking, “An open instant messaging protocol, I bet people would come up with some interesting stuff if this got popular.”

I went off and made myself an account, but no one else used it, so I lost interest. Now, I’m willing to bet that 90% of the people reading this have a Jabber account. Of those, I bet 80% don’t even know it. ☺ Are you a livejournal user? If you have an IM client that isn’t crappy, it probably handles Jabber (GAIM, Trillian, iChat and Meebo all do). Just go in and put in your livejournal username and livejournal.com as the server.

That one isn’t all that interesting since no one is logged on. There’s a chatbot that lets you post to your journal (it’s how I’m posting this), but that’s about it.

A more interesting account is if you happen to have to use GMail. When you log in and see the little Contacts list in the sidebar, that is actually a little Jabber client. If you go in and add your GMail account info with talk.google.com as the server, you’ll see your contacts in your IM client and you’ll show up as avaialable for chat through GMail even when you’re not connected. It also logs any of your conversations under Chats which has come in handy for me a couple times already.

For me, my office also runs an in-house Jabber server. We use IM extensively to sort out little issues. It’s also available via the internet over SSL, so across the country lots of little things that would be handled with little phone calls are handled via IM.

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Stories

I almost got this done last night, but had to run off to see Rusted Root. The concert was awesome. The songs are a bit uniform, but they are uniformly kinetic and hypnotic. Especially at the volume right by the stage where I couldn’t understand most of the words, it all felt very primal.


I’m slacking again and not posting. It unfortunately generally happens when I have the most interesting things going on.

Like the hulking Cote d’Ivoiriene guy who, within minutes of me meeting him, told me to take my pants off. Not a doctor. Not a rapist. The masseuse who delivered the amazing present McK gave me for our one year anniversary. (Though realizing how good it felt to get a good rubbin’ left me reevaluating the value of the massages she gets from me at a minimum of twice weekly. I think maybe I should be getting some cash or something for that level of relaxation.) We also went to Georgia Brown’s and had a lovely evening eating very expensive southern food.

On Tuesday I had an amazing time. I’m pretty sure it is the first time I’ve ever been to a bar by myself as I went to see Speakeasy DC. I can’t believe there has been storytelling going on here the whole time I’ve been in DC and I haven’t known about it.

There were two featured tellers and then several “open-micers.” The open-mic people only got seven minutes for their stories, so they had to tell fast and tell well. There wasn’t a single teller that didn’t do a really solid job. The language was succinct but colorful; the tones warm and embracing.

I sent out text messages while I was watching because I really wanted to share the experience. My description at the time was, “imagine improv by poets with their lives as material.” The theme for the evening was “Hurts So Good: Stories About the Pain and Pleasure of Romance.” The stories ran the gamut. Ones that I remember are:

  • The girl whose love for her boyfriend drove her to help him achieve his dreams by enrolling them both in scuba diving lessons. Her passion having somehow blinded her to the fact that she neither swam nor enjoyed water at all. So excited was he to get into the dive that he was already under as she puked twice before following him down. Their relationship survived that bump only to come to an end when he enrolled them both in advanced lessons a couple months later.
  • A poetry slam performer who told the story of how he came to know his wife. One of the lines I enjoyed particularly was, “Her ass in that red dress was like the sun setting over the desert. I wanted so badly to ride off into that sunset.” I wish I could manage to suave and lewd simultaneously.
  • The City Paper has an “I Saw You” section where you can connect with people you’ve met at random, but didn’t get a number for. One girl told of helping a guy work out something with his cell phone while riding the bus. They meet with the aid of the City Paper, and during their date another girl comes storming in off the street demanding, “What was it? The L2? The B9? The 42?” and turning to the guy starts tearing into him about the bus being “their thing.” He turns to the teller and calmly says, “you don’t need to stay for this.” She didn’t.
  • The 30-year-old “love virgin” who, after a guy professed his love for her and persisted for a couple months, is convinced of her own love. Not too long thereafter though he retracted his profession, not to end the relationship, but just “to let her know.” Well, once she dumped him, she got a refund for his Christmas gift and spent the money on a spa. She now keeps a breakup fund that gets $100 every month she’s in a relationship.
  • There was one fellow who attempted to tell the story of his childhood camp love, but the sound system was going out. He still gave a good telling of one of the more touching stories, but he seemed a bit flustered.
  • There was even a traditional love tale from somewhere in Eastern Europe that told of a pair of rock formations and how they were placed there to immortalize a grandfather, granddaughter, and their love for each other.

There were some others, but those are the ones I remember the best. The also had an audience participation bit where people wrote down their stories on note cards and competed for “best deal-breaker,” “most romantic” and “most pathetic.” My favorite was the deal-breaker winner. A fellow is on a first date in New Orleans and Dan Akroyd is in the restaurant. His date was a fan and went over to talk to Dan, sat down at the table, and before the guy leaves, his date is making out with Dan. Ouch.

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Sweet and Sour

You know how you have different types of taste buds with different sensitivities? Well, doctor link my salt buds work really well. 17 packets of sugar did nothing to mask the half teaspoon of salt I accidentally put in my coffee. I could hardly drink it…

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Rep. Bill Jenkins

I was heating up my lunch in the kitchen at work today and noticed a copy of CQ’s Politics in America: The 108th Congress. As I was flipping through, I happened upon the entry for Tennessee’s First District Representative: Bill Jenkins.

His two pages don’t delve much into his political career as a congressman. His record seems pretty much in tune with the party line. The bulk of the text is concerned with his political history. The paragraph I found the most interesting was:

“In 1996, Quillen’s retirement after 17 terms unleashed a lot of pent-up political ambition in northeastern Tennessee. Jenkins touted his status as the only farmer among the leading candidates in the huge Republican field, and he claimed to be the only “dyed-in-the-wool, card-carrying, bona fide hillbilly” in the race. Thanks to his many years of political involvement, Jenkins proved to have friends spread across the district. He bested conservative state Senator Jim Holcomb by a narrow 331 votes [out of 80,000+ cast] for the nomination.”

I still remember losing that election as one of the most emotionally painful events in my life. You spend months devoting yourself daily to trying to make something happen and then to fail by so small a margin is devastating.

My dad and I don’t see eye to eye on many political issues. I still wish he had won that race. Part of it is because he is my dad, but it is moreso because he really is one of the best politicians that I know. I’ve never really been around him when he’s doing schmoozing, but I have been around him when you drop him into roomful of strangers. He just talks to people; most of the time he makes friends. It is a characteristic I really admire in him and it would be amazing if I could learn it one day.

I think it would have been interesting to see how he would have done in this fast-paced political world. I bet his entry in the 108th Congress wouldn’t have been 3/4 about how he got in office.

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Damned Circuits

I may have figured out why the hell my simple microcontroller project won’t work.

If you look at this schematic, the one provided by the project, you’ll note that the serial port driver (the smaller chip) is a MAX232. The capacitors connected to it are 100 nF = 100×10-9 F = 10-7F = .1µF. .1µF capacitors are what are used by the MAX232A. The MAX232 uses 1µF capacitors. I’ve spent many hours trying to get this damn thing to work. If this turns out to be the issue, I don’t know if I am going to be more irritated of relieved. I definitely want to try and replace the existing project because it has repeatedly not shown the sort of meticulousness I would expect from someone working with electronics.

On a related note, I’ve been reminded of a project I have wanted to do for a long time which is take the IC Masturbator and do a semantic capture of the information.

The Masturbator is the pin outs of hundreds of chips, but it is all little ascii diagrams. I’d like to design an XML chip description language which could be used to drive a better site and generate prettier diagrams and truth tables:

versus

I think the popularity of sites like instructables.com show a base of interest that would make it worthwhile. The next step would be to use the SVGs in a schematic design program because I’ve not used one yet that isn’t crap.

As always, the issue is time… Never enough time.

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