Alec's 5th podcast, the first from Birmingham

Here‘s the latest podcast from Alec. (536KB MP3, 2:16) You know that he’s glad to be in an English hospital when he inadvertently refers to it as a “hotel”, right? It sounds as if his leg is in a brace rather than a cast, which is good: there’s nothing more miserable than a plaster cast in a heatwave….
Anyway, he doesn’t have Internet access yet (though he’s planning to experiment with GPRS through his mobile), but SMS is working, so if you know his number…. (13375p34k optional.)

Alec's knee

It must be a Web 2.0 thing… first blogging, then podcasts, now an x-ray. Nice mechanical engineering, Alec. (Thanks, Bart.)
Alec's knee x-ray

Relo questions: where do you buy electronics?

Where do Seattle residents go to buy electronics? I don’t mean TVs and GPS’s; I’m thinking of power supplies, DRAM, heatsinks, and so forth. (Yes, I know I’m joining Amazon – but some things require browsing. I’m never going to buy a mouse or a keyboard without getting my hands on a physical example.)
When I’m in Silicon Valley, I tend to visit Fry’s, Microcenter, and the Apple store. I see that there’s a Fry’s in Renton, and an Apple store up in University Village….
Anyway, where do the local geeks shop?

Non-random 10 – the long ones

Instead of my regular “random 10” posting, I decided to pick ten of my favourite long tracks – no more than one per artist. It’s easy to do this in iTunes – simply sort by playing time – but it’s also misleading. For example, one of my favourite long tracks is the 25 minute 22 second “Who Do You Love” by Quicksilver Messenger Service, from Happy Trails, but for some reason the producer elected to carve this continuous piece of music into six tracks. Oh, well. Check out this little lot:

  • “Kincajou (Duck! Asteroid)” by Banco de Gaia (from Last Train To Lhasa) [36:09]
  • “The Sky Moves Sideways (Alternate Version)” by Porcupine Tree (from The Sky Moves Sideways) [34:42]
  • “Dark Star/The Other One” by Henry Kaiser (from Those Who Know History Are Doomed To Repeat It) [30:56]
  • “The Great Wheel” by James Asher (from The Great Wheel) [30:31]
  • “Dazed And Confused” by Led Zeppelin (from How The West Was Won) [25:25]
  • “Andromeda Suite” by the Legendary Pink Dots (from Chemical Playschool Volume 8) [25:08]
  • “Dark Star” by the Grateful Dead (from Live/Dead) [23:07]
  • “Bare Wires Suite” by John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (from Bare Wires) [22:59]
  • “Heaven Taste” by No-Man (from Heaven Taste) [22:30]
  • “Tarotplane” by Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band (from Mirror Man) [19:09]

Several hours of blissful stuff there. It’s particularly interesting to compare the original 1968 version of “Dark Star” with Henry Kaiser’s re-interpretation* from 1988.

* If you don’t know Kaiser’s album Those Who Know History Are Doomed To Repeat It, I can heartily recommend it. He tackles classic tracks by the Dead, Captain Beefheart, and Country Joe and the Fish, as well as unexpected fragments of pop history like “Ode To Billy Joe”, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, and “The Fishin’ Hole” – yes, the Andy Griffith Show theme!

Alec's 4th podcast

Just in from Bart: a brief podcast from Alec – who was still in Lille – on the frustrations of dealing with insurance companies and French doctors. He sounds a lot more “Anglo-Saxon” (his term) than earlier, which is much more like the Alec I know…. (456KB, MP3, 1:55, NSFW)
I’m told he’s now actually in an ambulance, on the road, heading for the Chunnel….

Relo questions: laptop

This isn’t really a “relocation” question, but it relates to my move.
After years of “creative diversity” at Sun (Sun Write/Paint/Draw, Applix, FrameMaker, StarOffice) I’m going to be entering a relatively conventional (MS Office, Outlook Exchange) IT environment at, and I’m going to have to get myself a new computer (or select one of the standard offerings from IT). Recently I’ve run various Macintoshes (iBook, PB12, PB15), as well as an Acer Ferrari 3400 for Solaris x64.
I like to use my laptop as my engineering notebook. It goes everywhere with me, and needs to be instantly available as soon as I open the lid. So it has to be light and small. On the other hand, when I’m at my desk I expect to be able to use a decent display at full resolution. Performance? Of course, but my experience is that disk speed is more critical than highly artificial CPU numbers. (And to get decent battery life the OS is going to be dialling back the CPU anyway.)
The problem is, my ideal system doesn’t seem to exist. Here are the key features I’m looking for, in priority order:

  1. Weighs less than 4 lbs
  2. 6-8 hours battery life
  3. 100GB 7200rpm hard disk
  4. Able to drive an external 20″ LCD via DVI
  5. WiFi, Bluetooth, USB 2.0 and FireWire
  6. DVD burner (detachable OK)
  7. Decent 3-D (Vista-compatible) graphics; not this shared-memory nonsense

Any suggestions?

Alec's on the move

Two updates this morning. First, here the latest podcast from Alec (316KB MP3, 1:45 long). Secondly, Alec’s on the move: he’s being transported to England by road (which presumably means via the Chunnel – aren’t they going bankrupt or something?), and should be in Birmingham by this evening.
UPDATE from friends in the UK:

6.40pm Monday 17th July [BST, of course] – Alec has just spoken to me – he STILL HASN’T LEFT the ambulance being over 2 hours late! He is getting very very cross.
Before a Doctor came in, he did ask me to put all visitors off until Thursday at the earliest as when it happens it is going to be a difficult tiring journey, and he would like at least through Wednesday to recuperate. So please (much as he wants to see folk) hold the enthusiasm.

Latest Alec news

From Bart:

I went to Lille earlier today and visited Alec — he’s doing quite well (I found it very noticable how his breathing is now much more relaxed than it was at the beginning of the week). We walked in on him enjoying his lunch, the dessert portion of which vanished extremely quickly…
Alec is, however, bored out of his mind as there’s little to do; he listens to his iPod, does some exercises (some for his lungs and some for the rest of his body, to retain mobility), looks at the shiny coloured things in his room, or the clock, or the emergency light over his bed… all in all, not the most exciting environment.
(He’s in need of his connectivity fix, so here’s to hoping he gets to Birmingham soon… and that they have wifi or so there)
He still has his drain in (because the insurance company wants it there should they finally repatriate him), which means he still has an IV in, and which also means a nurse comes in every morning and gets blood for testing (not overly pleasant).
His leg, in a kind of supporint harnass/cast thing, seems to be causing him no trouble (as long as it’s left in peace), so he has now added an ankle-mobility part to his exercise routine.
I have a new “Alec’s adventures in Lille” podcast and will send it to Geoff for posting tomorrow (I can’t get it off my phone right now so won’t be able to send it today – sorry for the delay)

Billmon on the no-win situation in the Middle East

His depressingly persuasive analysis concludes:

In the past, no matter how bad things got in territories, Israeli governments always have had the option of backing off and leaving bad enough alone – relying on the Army or, post-Oslo, the PA to keep a lid on the situation. That was fine as long as the objective was to grow the settlements and quietly tighten Israel’s control over the land and all its resources. But now that the goal is essentially a second partition, Israeli politicians are finding out the hard way that they no longer have the luxury of malign neglect. After six years of pretending they don’t need a Palestinian negotiating partner, they’ve suddenly discovered, much to their horror, that they need one desperately – but have managed to eliminate all the possible candidates.

(Tip o’ the hat to Tim.)