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The Slopes of Snowmass

Hey, I'm in Colorado, and it's snowing too hard for skiing. Keith, who's here with me, is of no such mind. Having never skied in this part of the world, he'll brave any kind of weather to get out on the slopes. I came to Colorado in February of last year, to ski at Steamboat, and I had a hell of a time, just staying upright. I was badly out of shape, and it made a difference, but another big problem was that my right leg, broken three years previous, still wasn't as strong as my left, so it got tired very quickly.

Well, since my bout of running this past year, I guess I got my feet to match up in strength enough that my right leg never gave me any trouble yesterday, or today. In February, the pain surfaced within five or ten minutes, making what had previously been my favorite outdoor activity a living hell. It was nothing like that, this time, but since my leg injury, I'm afraid I need to take some lessons to regain the cadence that my legs once had.

Aspen is incredible. There's a ton to do, and it's all more expensive than in any city I've ever visited. We made a friend on New Year's Eve: a nice girl named Carolyn, a photographer from New Jersey. We're meeting her out, in town tonight, and it should be a fun time. I look forward, however, to returning to Kansas City, and seeing what's going on in the non-skiing world. This place is like Disney World, in that it's utterly separated from reality, and seemingly, the flow of time. Also, everyone's good looking here. Cheers!

11:24 AM, Jan 2, 2004

4 comments »»
Worst Drive Ever

We left Aspen at about 11:30 MST, and managed to get to Denver, about 170 miles away, by 7PM. Long, hard, slipperly slogs over mountain passes, and among horrible grinding traffic made what is normally a 3-hour drive a 7-hour one. Our expectation, when we got down to the flat land was that we'd have smooth sailing from Denver on. Well, we had smooth sailing from Denver to about 30 miles past Denver, where we ran into a huge snowstorm for about 100 miles. Then, we had snowy roads for another 200 miles, before reaching the next snowstorm, and then another, before a tiny lull preceding entering the nasty ice storm around Kansas City. Because of the snow, ice, slush, traffic, and what seemed like ill divine will, it took us 19 hours to get home.

Worst drive ever.

4:01 AM, Jan 4, 2004

1 comment »»
Working on debt

I'm the nighttime oncall, this week, so I get to stay at home and spend more time with my possessions. I have discovered the current form of the eMusic music store, and I like their model a lot more. They don't have everything I'm looking for, but they have more than enough to keep me interested. The files that can be downloaded from them are plain, unprotected mp3 files, encoded in a variable bitrate.

While in Aspen, Keith convinced me that all the money I have saved it moot, while I still have credit card debt, so I withdrew the goodly sum it took me most of 2003 to save, and I'll be using it to pay down some credit card bills. My savings plan is over, for now, and the weekly and monthly withdrawals that were going to my savings account, will henceforth be funnelled directly into my CC debt. Isn't that exciting? I'm going to skim, however, I buy myself a portable music player. I can't decide on this or this. Any advice?

11:44 AM, Jan 7, 2004

6 comments »»
Vespae

An odd discussion of motorscooters has peppered the conversation in the #kcgeek IRC channel lately, and I think it has recently culminated in this little gem. I enjoy it, and I hope you do too.

1:57 PM, Jan 8, 2004

1 comment »»
Double Dash

It is with great regret that I return to the office tomorrow, for the first time in two weeks. We picked up the new Mariokart game, and we are absolutely addicted. I just can't wait to have company to come and play it with us. Galactic is coming back to town in a few weeks, so i have that to look forward to. It's getting warmer out, but I think it's just a winter lull.

3:22 PM, Jan 12, 2004

5 comments »»
Aspen Pics

Okay, you damned vultures! I finished the Aspen pictures page. Enjoy and heckle.

5:16 PM, Jan 15, 2004

2 comments »»
As if you Care

You may have noticed a short outage in the presence of this page. Sorry about that. I had a hard drive threaten to crash, along with a bunch of "I'm-going-to-die" errors in my syslog. I had a lot of hands and knees time, switching keyboard and monitor cables, along with long kernel-recompiling and file copying. It was not fun. It appears that everything's okay now, but we'll see.

1:05 PM, Jan 18, 2004

2 comments »»
Freedom Control

I just spotted this, the latest in the Recording Industry Association of America's recent fundraising activities. Basically, they accuse you of file-sharing, and whether you have commited this heinous crime against humanity or not, you have already lost. Even if you win, you lose. They subpoena your Internet Service Provider(ISP) for your information, and if/when your ISP succumbs to the RIAA's bullying on their own part, and on the part of the people in Washington that are in their pocket, you have two choices: defend yourself against one of the largest corporate advocacy groups in existence, which would cost tens, even hundreds of thousands, even if successful, or settle with the RIAA, and sign a document that states that you, under penalty of an even bigger lawsuit, promise to refrain from file-sharing ever again, as long as you live, even when it eventually becomes legal.

This translates to an excellent revenue generator for the RIAA, and a horrible bit of PR. The very people they are attacking are the same people that buy CDs, go to concerts, and listen to their radio stations. In most industries, they would be called customers. Here, they are called criminals, and their crime is so ambiguous(hosting a copy of a recording of a copyrighted work), there's no legal precedent upon which to justify the RIAA's draconian actions. In one way, it's shocking how ravenously they are attacking their own revenue base, but in another, it's harrowing to watch them rampage, unchecked, simply because they claim that they are dealing with something new. The thing is, they aren't dealing with anything new. This is all well-covered ground, already heavily explored in the early eighties, with the recording of cassettes and videotapes. It seems to me that the only difference now is that the Internet makes such activity easier.

However, ease does not make a law or precedent any more or less potent. Law is law, and precedents are precedents. That's why the RIAA(and their evil twin, the MPAA, the Motion Picture Association of America) have gone to great lengths to present today's file-sharing activities as something new. In addition, and this is the kicker, internet filesharing, helps the RIAA. They benefit from its rampant use. It's free advertising for them, yet they fight it, tooth and nail. Why? Control.

The companies that comprise the RIAA, through their network of internally-owned radio stations, record stores, and websites, have, for almost the entire history of recorded music, controlled the production and distribution of music. Prior to the widespread acceptance of computers as an Everyman tool, the production and ditribution of music were prohibitively expensive pursuits. They were so expensive, in fact, that record companies, as they got larger, were the only ones to turn to, for musicians. Enter computer technology. What once had a price tag in the tens of thousands of dollars(recording an album and pressing a CD), has become as cheap as buying a computer and some sound equipment.

Distribution was also very expensive, as record companies, by the 70s or 80s, ceased to be regional entities anymore. When an album was made, the goal was widespread distribution, spurred by heavy and expensive promotion. Also, this was only available to a handful of musicians at a time, as the top 40 only has room for 40 songs. Enter the internet. Distribution of music, all of a sudden, is as easy as clicking a link on a website, and waiting a couple minutes.

For decades, the RIAA has depended on three things for continued success. First, they needed it to be expensive to produce music, meaning that anyone who wants to record has to come to the RIAA do get it done. Second, they needed it to be expensive to get your music to the people. Third, they needed to be the only real player in the industry, or else competition might drive down the profits. So, the oligopoly, managed by a couple of large companies, turned into an outright monopoly, with the collusion of these companies to form the RIAA, an advocacy and lobbying group that speaks, swings, and pockets politicians on the industry's behalf. The third point is neccesary, but useless without the first two points. They have already started to lose ground on the first point, which has forced them to evolve a bit, cutting into their substantial bottom line, but that it about the only compromise they are willing to make.

They will continue to prosper, at the expense of the musician and customer, until the second point I listed becomes out of their reach, and their recent litigative actions are their desperate gropes to hold on to that point. With a combination of government action and litigation, they just might hold on to their position as arbiter of music, but it's my opinion that the more people know, the less they'll be able to get their interests passed in Washington. Only time will tell.

8:39 AM, Jan 22, 2004

1 comment »»
New Hard Drive

It's a good day after going out. I went to some bars last night with Geoff and his friends, and got a line on an alleged good time on Wednesday nights at the Cup and Saucer, not a long walk from where I live. They keep displacing more and more people to my group, at work, that we all need to eventually get trained on what we do, and need to teach us what they do. There's plenty of work to do, and it seems like with all these people, and the continued "streamlining of processes," something's going to have to give soon. My money's on headcount. Here, I believe, begins a race to stay employed, against all the new "coworkers," we suddenly have.

I just put a new hard drive into this server yesterday, adding 250 GB of storage. I've been giddily typing "df" over and over to get the following output:

Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on

/dev/hda3 7842996 3865404 3579180 52% /

tmpfs 2048 20 2028 1% /mnt/.init.d

/dev/hdd1 12706988 6692360 6014628 53% /home

/dev/hde1 80322512 4795872 75526640 6% /part1

/dev/hde2 80338608 32840 80305768 1% /part2

/dev/hde3 83527408 32840 83494568 1% /part3

Hooray for storage.

8:52 AM, Jan 24, 2004

1 comment »»
ID Tags

Couple things. First, I got the new Rio Karma 20 GB portable music player last week, and have come to the frustrating conclusion that I have to update my thousands of files with id tags. To help with that, I downloaded a nifty program called Tagscanner, which takes a lot of the menial parts out of manipulating id tags for mp3 and ogg files. Second, I went and got a new couch over the weekend. Brian got some pictures, so you can check his stuff out. Work has become steadily a bit easier, as we use a new web-based app I wrote for tracking our progress, instead of the clunky single-user spreadsheet we were using before. I'm rather proud of it. Anyway, be careful if you drive to go places. It looks snowy out there.

1:29 AM, Jan 28, 2004

5 comments »»
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