Monday, April 29, 2013

Sailing With Eye Candy

Was invited out to be bowman on the Farr 395 Eye Candy for the Protection Island Race.  Boy, did I make too many mistakes - asymmetrical kites are still too new to me.  I got the tack line lead the wrong way putting the sheets "outside" way too many time (three or four times, I think).  Once I launched the chute with the tack and clew reversed.  I'm not going to take the credit for that one, I think it was packed in the bag backwards.

Anyways, it was a long race with just about ever different sailing condition you can name.  We had a pretty good ride, got knocked down pretty good a couple of times, but keep moving and actually got home quite early.  We corrected out over the bigger boats  and finished eighth.

Picture to come ...

Big Trees, Big Fun

So the wife and I spent the weekend of the 16 - 17 of March on the coast, looking for big trees. My wife was inspired by Forest Giants of the Pacific Coast by Robert Van Pelt which covers Sequoias, Redwoods, Western Red Cedars, Doug Firs, Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlocks, and quite a few others.

We managed to bag quite a few of them on the Olympic Park.  We saw the Quinault Lake Cedar, the Nolan Creek Cedar, and the kalaloch Cedar.  We walked through the Grove of Giants along the south shore of Quinault Lake to see massive Doug Firs, Hemlocks and Spruces.  We looked at the Quinault Lake spruce and the Preston Macy tree.  We looked for, but could not find the Barnes Creek Survivor Grand Fir (so we'll have to go back for that one).

And to top it all off, we spent the night in a bluff cabin at Kalaloch Lodge, on the bluff, but back in the trees.

Nice!

I'll add pictures as I get them tweaked and converted to jpegs.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Nice Ride!

Went out on  John's boat for a race on March 30th. That boat is a nice ride. It's a 1D35.

We won the race.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Spring Is In The Night Crtters

When I first moved out to the "country", thirty some years ago, I was astonished at the amount of noise made by frogs.  It was so loud, I couldn't sleep.  Now, I get worried when I don't hear the frogs.   They've become my very own "canary in a coal mine" to let me know that my little corner of paradise still has a healthy ecology.

And so it's nice to hear them. 

video

Sorry about the rather poor production values, I just heard them while I was upstairs staring at the computer, trying to write some code, and ran out and recorded them with my phone.  (I'll blog about the code pretty soon, I've finished the non-GUI version and have the GUI version almost done.)

In fact, I'd have to say that's one of the aspects about living where we do that I have come to thoroughly enjoy, we see lots of critters.

Here's the deer coming through the yard last summer.


And I've got a picture of a black bear racing through the yard too (he was NOT going to stand still for a photo).

There's been a family of owls which have also taken up residence somewhere on our property this last year, they make the most crazy sounds at night sometimes (I tell my wife that's  when they're getting it on).  I'll try to get recordings of them too.

Oh, to be young and horny, like a toad...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

About That New Keyboard

So I've been using this new keyboard for a while now and thought it was time to do a more through review (which I had promised on an earlier blog post).

It's a Rosewill RK-9100BR, translated that s a mechanical, illuminated keyboard using Cheery MX Brown switches.  These are the silent version of the Blue switches so these have tactile feedback but no clicky sound.  I should note that the keyboard is not silent, and that a rubber dome type keyboard is probably more quiet .

Plus the keys are individually illuminated by an LED - a blue LED in this particular model.  There are three illumination modes (which keys are lite) and four levels of brightness for each mode - almost everyone complains that all levels except for the minimal level are too bright.  I do have mine set for the minimal level so I suppose I fall in to that camp.

Plus it has a small set, only eight, media keys available for a bit of control over things happening on your "desktop".  I am using Linux (as readers of this blog know) and was pleased to find that all of the media keys work right out of the box without any fussing around on my part in key definitions.  That's always nice.  I don't use many of them, but volume control is always useful.

I bought mine at Newegg for $119 which is quit a bit of moola for a keyboard (and that was on sale for ten bucks), but I suspect that with a little care and cleaning, this could be the last keyboard I will need for a long, long time.  I had my last keyboard for over ten years (a Logitech Access keyboard), and will take better care of this one since I happen to like it a bit more too.

I went back to Newegg to make the link to the keyboard (I suppose I could link to the Rosewill website too) and noticed, as for the last month, that the keyboard remains sold out.  I can understand why, when I went looking for a new keyboard (mostly prompted by seeing how useful my wife's Macbook Pro illuminated keyboard was for typing in darker rooms) it was the keyboard which best fit my requirements:

Black - all my other PC stuff seems to have migrated to black
Mechanical key switches - Cherry Brown being the preferred choice
Illuminated - LED was best and I don't need funky multiple colors
Media keys - I wanted a minimal set of media keys mostly to change volume

Of all the keyboards I looked at this one best fit the above list.  There are a couple of items from other keyboards which would be good such as the Linux key caps to replace the windows keys on the Das Keyboard, N key rollover on a PS/2 with hardware interrupt would be nice, but this keyboard needed USB to get power for the LEDs (and this unit has 6 key rollover which really is good enough).

So no photos but there are better photos available at the Newegg website and here at the Rosewill web site.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Black Dog In The Dark Night (Of My Soul)

Not a normal post for me, but...

I have always struggled with the Black Dog, and as my daughter pointed out to my wife, "He always does this during Christmas". 

Shit.  I hate doing this.  I hate was it does to my family, my co-workers, and everybody else stuck around me.

Times like these, I read the news and despair.  I've tried to live my life right, only to see that greed, corruption, and fraud prevail - honesty, diligence, and trust are for chumps.

 I know it's just me, but it seems like the world's going down the drain, my country's going down the drain, and we're all just along for the ride.  My wife tells me not to read the news when I get like this - she's probably right.

All one can do is grab your bootstraps, pull yourself up, and get on with it, but it is hard - the bloom came off of this rose a long time ago.




Man, I really am a downer. 

I'm sorry my daughter, my wife, you deserve better.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Switching To FLAC (It's Only Rock n Roll)

A while back I bought a 2TB Western Digital Caviar Black hard drive to replace a 250GB Hitachi that was losing sectors - it had already used up the 5 "spare" sectors, and any more failure was going to result in losing data. The disk was quite old, the SMART data showed that it had been powered up and running for over five years.  I think I'd owned it for longer than that - maybe ten years - the equivalent of over a hundred in "hard drive" years.  I'd used it on my last two PCs (I was actually surprised I'd been smart enough to buy a drive with an SATA and an IDE interface way back then!)

 I'd been watching the old drive fail for a while and was planning on replacing it with a new drive, but I had not been looking at such a monster. We were in the local Fry's one night a while back, buying a wireless router for my daughter and I asked the nice sales guy that was helping us what they had in the way of Western Digital drives. The WD 2TB SATA III drive (WDC WD 2002FAEX to be exact) was on sale for 130 bucks.  Well, I'd already read reviews that stated that this drive represented the state of the art in spinning hard drives, and the price made it too good a deal to resist so I went home with a damn big new drive.  It's been installed and running for 40.4 days (according to the SMART data) and I can heartily recommend this monster if you happen to be in the market.  Solid state drives will eventually be the way to go, but right now, these are too expensive to use as big data drives. (I would like to get one as a system drive.)

I suddenly went from having about twenty gigs of free space (only maintained by diligent scrubbing of  garbage files in cache and downloads out of my home directory) to over 1.3 TB of free space.

Hmm...

I conducted some listening tests this morning comparing CDs to MP3s (with a constant bit rate of 256) to FLACs using the Rolling Stones Let It Bleed (a magnificent album), an older Soundblaster sound card with a nice amp, and my trusty Grado headphones.  Did I notice a difference? Well, yes, I did, which was somewhat surprising to be honest.  So I decided I would have to re-do my music library from MP3 to FLAC.

Now I'm sitting at my PC, feeding it all our CDs to re-rip them in FLAC format. It took a while to figure out how to reconfigure Grip, and this blog post got me over  the last hump - Clemetine would not add the FLAC music to it's database due to missing Vorbis metadata.

Thank you, gnuru!

My wife has been watching this frenzy and thinks I'm nuts (she's probably right), and I'm starting to wonder just how many formats I used over the years with some of this music - vinyl, cassette, reel to reel, CD, SACD, MP3, and now FLAC. {I'm proud to say I never succumbed to 8 track tape.) I don't own the cassette player or the reel to reel anymore, but my record player and CD player are currently attached to a dead stereo amp -  a subject for another blog post - for now, let's just say that keeping a fifty year old tube amp running requires more than your occasional dusting. (Bugger!)

And I'm pretty sure I'll be switching my music collection to another super duper format before I'm all done. I suspect it will this new thing called vinyl or maybe a straight shot to FLAC.

But no matter how it's formatted, it's only rock n roll, and I like it...