Evan’s First Drawing!

Yesterday, something extremely cool happened. Evan was sitting at the desk in my home office. He grabbed a marker, and started doodling on the pad of paper that was sorta nearby. Coolest. Thing. Ever. His first drawing. Now, he’s going nuts on his blackboard at home, and drawing all over his easel.

If only we can convince him to keep the doodling on designated areas…

Evan's First Drawing - Ever

Just be glad I didn’t inflict the video on you… ;-)

ht://Dig Website Search Engine

We’re in the midst of reworking the Learning Commons website, and one of the changes is dropping to static files for most of the site (rather than the dynamically generated site we use now). One major thing we change by doing this is the software to search the site.

I’ve just installed ht://Dig on commons, and it seems to work quite well. I had to compile from source, which I couldn’t do on commons itself for some reason (no dev. tools installed on MacOSX Server 10.3?) – I compiled on my TiBook and moved the binaries etc. to commons after testing that it worked.

The package comes with a plain-vanilla test search page, which shows it works quite well. I’ve had to tell it to not index session-based pages generated by WebObjects applications (ignore urls with “wosid=” in them) so it doesn’t wind up with an infinite number of unique and invalid pages in the index.

Anyway, ht://Dig seems to be used quite a bit Out There, and it seems to work quite well In Here. I’ve set up a crontask to re-index the server every morning at 3am.

ht://Dig logo

iTunes Metadata Lost!

Doh. I just fired up iTunes, and my tunes were gone. The tracks are still all on my hard drive, but the playlists and songs in iTunes are missing in action. I’ve been using iTunes since before it was iTunes (I was a registered owner of SoundJam MP, which was purchased from Casady & Greene by Apple to become iTunes 1.0). This is the first time I’ve lost data in any of my SoundJam/iTunes libraries, in something like 8 years (roughly 8 major OS updates, over several computers).

Re-added all of my tracks to iTunes (dragging the folders into the iTunes Library), and it sees the music again, but my carefully hand-entered and automatic metadata is gone. My Rating. Gone. Playlists. Gone. Play Count. Gone. Last Played. Gone. My “Pick the top rated songs that have been played a whole bunch in the last month, and give me a playlist that will fill an audio CD with them” playlist. Gone.

Now, assuming I recreate all of my dynamic playlists, which used this metadata to do their magic, I still have to manually re-enter a whole bunch of metadata (especially Ratings) for them to be useful. Crap.

I’ve never been a big fan of metadata – it needs to be hidden and under-the-hood for it to be effective. But, things sure get messed up when it’s yanked out from underneath you.

My copy of iTunes now functions at about the level of WinAmp. It’s had a pretty serious lobotomy, and will take some time to relearn what I like etc…

Creation vs. Consumption

An image is worth a thousand words. This is the single reason why Garage Band is so cool:

Garage Band track in iTunes

Garage Band isn’t great because of new technology, or ease of use, or interface design (perhaps in spite of wood grain…). It’s great because it gives me a chance/reason to break of the rut of being just a consumer of music. I can dabble on the creative side, even though I couldn’t play in instrument to save my life.

It’s not exactly art, but that’s my first piece of music that I could actually put my name on. In iTunes.

An extremely simple song, started on a flight from SFO to SeaTac, and finished in about 15 minutes this afternoon.

Look at me! I’m a musician! Howdy howdy howdy!

Here’s a link to the output file. It’s still quite rough, and shows a profound lack of musical taste or ability, but still…

CVS Server on MacOSX 10.3 Server

After much pulling of (what’s left of my) hair, the CVS server on commons.ucalgary.ca is running again. Turns out that Panther handles password differently than 10.1.5 did (yes, our server was that out of date…), so the pserver barfed on authentication attempts.

Connecting to the CVS server via SSH works like a charm.

It’s a trivial change to make on the client side. Change your to


Really should have been running under SSH all along – pserver is a gaping security hole, with the plaintext passwords passed through the pipe…

Handy links for this process:

Pachyderm Meeting

In San Francisco for a few days for the Pachyderm meeting. It’s weird having green stuff around in January. That just ain’t right.

About to head into the first session of a 3-day planning marathon. Should be fun. We’ll be spending a bunch of time working on requirements for the current software and for the new build, as well as some Bigger Picture Stuff.

Mike and I just went for a walk, hitting CompUSA to score a copy of iLife ’04 – except they’re completely sold out. No copies for another week. Got to play with Garage Band on a shiny new G5 with a 23″ display. Cool stuff. Scary that a hack with negative musical talent can create finished-sounding music. Brace for the clip-music revolution. Flashbacks of the “Desktop Publishing” era. Oy.

I’ll post anything of relevance or interest. In the meantime, here’s what I mean about the messed up seasons… This is the middle of winter in San Francisco:

Coit Tower

Upgrading MacOSX

I had to ignore my unwritten rule about never ever installing MacOSX as an “Upgrade Install”. I have always used either “Erase and Install” or “Archive and Install” to avoid issues wrt versions, overwriting etc…

When I upgraded the OS on commons.ucalgary.ca, I didn’t have a spare drive to use (well, I have the drive, and it’s sitting in the server – it just isn’t hooked up) so I did an upgrade. Big. Mistake.

Most of the stuff works fine, but I just tried upgrading the installed MovableType to use MySQL rather than BerkeleyDB (which has a corrupt record in it, and I’m very nervous about databases that don’t let you run checks and fixes – I could fix the problem easily in MySQL).

Except that the required Perl modules aren’t there (they should be). And, they won’t install, since some of the old Perl 5.6 stuff is still in place, and seems to be confusing things. I’m going to try installing the dev. tools (as recommended on some of the lists), but there isn’t a whole heckovalotta space left on that drive (less than 6GB, which makes me a bit nervous, too…)

Anyway, here’s the MacOSX Mantra du jour: Never Upgrade. Always clean install (archive and install, or erase and install).