My Blogs


Book Reviews

Candy, or How My Mind Was Turned to Mush by a Dangerous Book

candyWhen I was 12 years old, I was curious about a lot of things. In junior high school, in the locker room and other bastions of “maleness,” I often heard discussion of this mythical book, Candy, by satirist Terry Southern (also author of the Magic Christian, and many others) and Mason Hoffenberg, that it was supposed to be the dirtiest (and therefore, most exciting) book around; worthy of the prurient attention of typical preteen and early teenaged boys. [Read more…]

August 19, 2014


Music

Musical Education & Sage Advice

I recently found a great site containing quotes from many fine jazz and studio players. I’d heard many of them before, but it was nice to find many of them in one place. To these quotes, I added some of my own observations, coming from a lifelong love of music and deep admiration for musicians.

jpLearn tunes – Joe Pass

The late Joe Pass was a brilliant soloist, and a very humble man, who spent a lifetime honing his craft. At the same time, he often admitted to being somewhat lazy. He didn’t practice a great deal, and really disliked doing scales, feeling it was a mind-numbing activity. He claimed to know the barest minimum of music theory. He told his students to back off with their “brilliant” improvisations, and learn the melody inside and out before attempting to be a “big time soloist.” Like he said, “learn tunes.” His sometimes playing partner Herb Ellis took this concept one step further, advising his students to quietly (or silently) sing the tune as they’re playing. There’s no better way to get inside a melody than to sing it. [Read more…]

June 11, 2013


Transportation

Roadtrip Misery in the Red Bug, or Why I Reenlisted

1927 VW Superbeetle

1927 VW Superbeetle

I was the proud owner of a bright red 1972 VW Super Beetle, which replaced my beloved 1968 Plymouth valiantValiant Signet. The Bug had dealer-installed air conditioning (I lived in South Florida), but from what I could tell, the electrical system was not beefed up to deal with this additional load. I was used to replacing voltage regulators every few months, as the contacts kept pitting and welding themselves shut. I also added a CB radio (oh, did I mention this was about 1976?). To keep the electrical noise to a minimum (moving the antenna as far away from the engine as possible), I attached a long whip antenna to my front bumper, which meant the optimum radiation pattern was behind me. Appropriately, my handle was Redbug. The “Redbug”  got a lot of unwanted attention, as it had one of those extractor exhaust systems, from which the fiberglass packing had long since blown out. It was loud. Amazingly, I was never stopped for noise pollution. [Read more…]

August 31, 2015


Tech and General Computing

Physician, Heal Thyself

Web server. Head Crash. No Backup. Doh!

You’d think I’d learned my lesson about backing up critical data, but nope, not me. In an extreme case of overconfidence and hubris, I let a Mac mini that I had set up in my house as a web server for a genealogically oriented family association go without a full backup … for almost seven years! Yeah, yeah… I had planned on doing something when I had a little free time on my hands, but that time never came.

This server was running several specialized web applications, including the genealogy of the Grinnell family, configured in such a fashion that it is very difficult to start over from scratch. Oh, and did I mention the main membership database? Yup. Also gone. At least for that one, I think I’ve got a backup of that file somewhere, and because it’s membership renewal time, the membership chair had just made printouts of critical member information. Not that this should in anyway excuse what has happened. [Read more…]

May 4, 2012


Print and Publishing

I Learned About Desktop Publishing From That

How I wound up as a professional technogeek is a long and semi-interesting tale. It involves multiple computing platforms, multiple job shifts, and a whole lotta dumb luck.

After getting out of the US Air Force in 1982 after a nine year stint as a radio technician, I immediately began working for a huge Midwest-based communications equipment manufacturer, at their paging and commercial two-way radio manufacturing and R&D facility in south Florida. I worked in the manufacturing engineering organization as a bench technician, but had many of the responsibilities of a full-fledged engineer but for a whole lot less money (it was, however, double what I was making in the Air Force). I began playing with HP desktop computers and calculators writing simple programs in HPL (high-performance language) and HP Basic, controlling arrays of test equipment over their GPIB (general purpose interface bus). [Read more…]

May 4, 2012


Home Theater Technology

Wi-Fi Audio Frustrations

I’ve got a large music collection, much of which is stored on my media server in MP3 format. It comes from my collection of about 1,300 CDs, and a long-term membership with eMusic.com, which has served admirably as a great platform for identifying new and sometimes obscure jazz artists from around the world.

B001F7AHOG-1While I do have a treasured if elderly Apple iPod Classic (160 GB), that iPod is a mechanical device, with a hard disk drive that is sure to expire someday. I figured that I had this great media server with all these great tunes, how hard could it be to pump that music over Wi-Fi into my bedroom? Turns out that it was harder than I thought.

Bluetooth was no good because the source (my living room media server) was too far away from the master bedroom. There is a limit of about 15 meters from source to receiver for Bluetooth. [Read more…]

November 30, 2015


Apple/Mac Musings

History of the Palm Beach Macintosh User Group

The Good, Bad, and the Ugly (with certain names omitted for my protection)

The history of the Palm Beach Macintosh User Group was never boring. It ran the gamut from election rigging, screaming in the aisles, police interference, to the highest standards of community service, training and education. I know most of the names, but in order to protect myself from potential libel, the most controversial of those names have been redacted.

The Players

  • [Name removed 1] : PBMUG president in the early 1980s–up until about 1987 or 1988 when the PBMUG suffered its first schism.
  • [Name removed 2]: Controversial president in 1990s, who was removed by recall election.
  • [Name removed 3]: Riviera Beach police sergeant and PBMUG board member. Used police state tactics to prevent recall election from taking place. Later filled for in the remainder of [Name removed 3]’s term.
  • [Name removed 4]: Next-to-last president of PBMUG, who was a polarizing influence in those last heady years of the club’s existence.
  • [Name removed 5]: Last (as far as I know) and longest serving president/czar of the South Florida Macintosh User Group

My history with the original PBMUG goes back to about 1986 or 1987, when they were meeting at one of the outbuildings owned by Palm Beach Atlantic College. The group, which started as a user group supporting Apple II users, was a lively group of 40-50 people who were trying to learn more about their newfangled Macintosh computers, which, at that time, consisted of the 512KE and the Macintosh Plus, and followed soon after by the SE and beyond. [Read more…]

November 28, 2013


Genealogy

Genealogy on the Macintosh Computer

Try as I might, I just can’t be 100% business on my Mac—either at work, or in this column (not that my media center articles had a whole lot to do with business….). Like many of us, I have a number of hobbies. Some (especially members of my family) say I have too many, but today I’ll focus on just one of them: genealogy. [Read more…]

May 4, 2012


Larry Rants

The Long-Term Consequences of Skipping a Grade in School, Bullying, and How I Survived…Sort Of

This is going to be another long and rambling discourse for which I apologize in advance, but hey, I’m spilling out my guts here. If you don’t want to read about it, click the Back button and go somewhere else. That’s the beauty of having your own website — you can publish whatever you want to publish and be as self-indulgent as you want, and hang the consequences. That said, here’s my story…

If I hadn’t been so young, I probably would have understood what was about to happen a lot more. My parents knew I was a handful from the get-go. At two, I discovered how much fun it was to dump my parents’ ashtrays on the floor (both were heavy smokers). My father had to build small shelves all over the house for their ashtrays, forcing them to smoke while standing, at least when I was up and about. [Read more…]

August 1, 2012


Air Force Days

Air Force Days, Part 6: Life as a Combat Communicator in the First Combat Communications Squadron

1stcomm [printready]

My time in the 1st Combat Communications Group was a life-changing experience for me. It was, in a word, people, who made all the difference. While I was but a cog in the wheel when assigned to other units, life in the 1st Comm was like being a member of a family. If some of the words of this section are interpreted as criticism, I’ll admit to that, but only in the context of wanting the people to be better and to behave with just a little more honor. Sometimes, boys will be boys just doesn’t cut it.

I arrived in Frankfurt, Germany at the end of April, 1979. I was met at the airport and driven to Lindsey Air Station, a small facility located in the heart of Wiesbaden, Germany. At one time, right after WWII, Lindsey housed the headquarters for the US Air Forces in Europe, I think mainly because Wiesbaden emerged from the war virtually unscathed. This was a lovely facility, with buildings dating to the 1870s, with many of the older buildings evoking the castles found not far away along the Rhine River. My own dorm was a much uglier four story concrete box, but for the next three years, it was home. [Read more…]

November 30, 2015