This blog has moved to as of 2/10/2010. Old posts will remain available at for the forseeable future.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Fragile Things
I noticed today that Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things is now available as a mass-market paperback.  I've never gotten around to picking this up previously, so I went over to Amazon and took a look.  The new paperback is $7.99.  There's a Kindle edition for $9.59.  And, strangely, there are six Selections from Fragile Things Kindle e-books for 99 cents each.  I think that those contain the entire contents of the book, when you put them all together, but I'm not sure.  I wonder what the thinking on that was.  I probably think about these things too much.


posted by Andrew 5:55 PM

Monday, February 08, 2010
Blogger FTP support going away
One very minor thing that's come up recently: Support for FTP publishing in Blogger is going away. Apparently, less than 1% of Blogger users publish via FTP. That's the method I've been using from the start, and I've just never changed. So now I'm going to have to. They're supposed to be releasing a conversion tool that will make it easy to switch to a Google Custom Domain, so I can keep the blog at, but I might have to do some finagling to redirect to or something like that.

On a practical basis, it shouldn't be a big deal. On a philosophical basis, though, I'm wondering if I want to do this. Right now, all my content is stored at Google, of course, but published as HTML files under my 1&1 account. I can back them up easily, and if I ever decide to stop using Blogger, they don't go away -- I can keep my archives right where they are. If I switch to "custom domain" publishing, then my fqdn (say, will just point to Google's servers, and I need to rely on them to serve up the content. They *do* have export tools that can supposedly give me a snapshot of my entire blog, so I could then import it elsewhere, so maybe there's no practical problem with this. It just bothers me a bit that all my content will be in a database at Google and not fully under my control.

I may switch to WordPress. My host, 1&1, has the necessary support for WordPress (basically, PHP and MySQL), so I can install that, and have my blog completely under my control. All the data will be in a MySQL database that I can back up whenever I want, the logic will all be running on my own site, and I can pick it up and move it to another host whenever I want. And I guess another nice philosophical point is that WordPress is open source, so it won't matter if WordPress as a company goes away; I'll still have the code, running on my own site.

Of course, with everything that's going on right now, I'll probably just take the path of least resistance and go with the Google "custom domain" thing.


posted by Andrew 7:49 AM

Friday, February 05, 2010
I don't usually get too personal on this blog. It's usually just tech stuff and comic book stuff and random silliness. But I feel like I need to get some stuff out of my head and on to "paper" today. (I should warn you that you should skip reading this, if you're not in the mood for maudlin.)

My dad died at the end of September, and my mom passed away on Monday of this week. After my dad passed, I was so busy taking care of my mom (or at least *trying* to take care of her) that I never really had enough time to process Dad's death. And of course I spent most of this week handling the arrangements for my mom, so again, I haven't had time to think about things much. Now though, the immediate details are all taken care of, and I find myself with a few spare moments here in my apartment, with nothing much that really needs doing right away. So now, I'm thinking.

I've realized that it's Friday night. I used to call my dad almost every Friday night. For a while, I was calling at right around 7:30 every Friday. I tried to avoid calling during Jeopardy, since that would usually result in Mom yelling at Dad, because he was talking too loud and she couldn't hear Jeopardy. So I'd wait until 7:30 to call. Sometimes, we'd just have a short call, going over anything that came up during the week, or talking about whatever holiday or birthday might be coming up and whether I was coming down, and what we'd do. At one point, we'd fallen into the habit of having pretty long phone conversations -- about a half-hour usually. (My dad had a tendency to ramble.) I used to look forward to these calls. I know that some people don't like calling their parents, but I genuinely liked talking to my dad, most of the time. Talking to Dad was a good way to unwind after a hectic week. I'd look forward to opening a bottle of beer and giving him a call. I'm just now realizing that I'm not going to have any more of those calls.

And I'm thinking about holidays too. Mom was always good about decorating the house (whether it was in Whiting or back in Roselle Park) for Easter and Christmas. Nothing elaborate or fancy; she just had a bunch of knick-knacks and stuff that she'd pull out of the closet and put around the house. I'd gone down to the house in Whiting for every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter (and most other holidays) since they moved down there. We'd usually make a lasagna, maybe cook a small turkey, or something like that. The last couple of years, as Mom and Dad had both been having increasing trouble with their eyes, we'd scaled back a bit, and had actually gotten take-out a few times on holidays. But we still got together and hung out, even if it was just the three of us, having Thai food. There were a few years, when my brother Pat was still alive, where he and Heather would come down too, and maybe one or two people from Heather's family might drop by, and one or two neighbors would come by, and we'd have a nice group of 5 or 6 or 7 people over. That was always fun.

I'm starting to wonder what I'm going to do on holidays from now on. Back when I thought Mom would hang in there for another 2 or 3 years, I anticipated that I'd probably go over to assisted living, and maybe take Mom out to dinner on holidays, or at least hang out with her for awhile if she wasn't up to going out. Now, I'm thinking that maybe I'll do some traveling around the holidays. Maybe I'll go down to Atlanta and visit my brother Mike. Or maybe I'll go into NYC on Thanksgiving, and see the parade. I guess I can do whatever I want now. I don't have any family obligations at all. It feels pretty weird. Looking ahead, I think I'll get through Easter easily enough. Maybe I'll go to mass, then just come back home and relax. Thanksgiving and Christmas are going to be hard though. I was joking with somebody a while ago about doing a Jewish Christmas next year -- hit a Jewish deli for lunch, then see a movie, then Chinese for dinner. I may actually do that. Or maybe I'll go to mass at a big church in NYC and make a day of that. Or find a volunteer opportunity somewhere, maybe with the Salvation Army or something.

One other thing I've now realized that I've lost forever: Dad would often tell me, if I was complaining about work, or fretting about losing my job, that I could always move back in with him and Mom, if things got too bad. While I've always had a decent job, and more than enough money to pay my rent, it was a nice feeling to know that, if things got too bad, I could always move in to the spare room in Whiting for a while. It wasn't just a monetary thing -- if, maybe, I got really sick, or got seriously injured, or had a nervous breakdown or something, I knew there was a place I could go where they'd take me in, no question.

On a practical basis, I've been on my own for many years now. I've always had enough money to pay all my bills. I paid for my last car in cash. And I've got enough money stashed away to survive a couple of years of unemployment if I ever have to. I haven't really *relied* on my parents for anything. But it was good to know that they were there if I needed them.

OK, so this post has really just been a bunch of clichéd self-pity. Everybody loses their parents. And it's not uncommon to lose both of them in short succession. So, I'm not special in this. But it still hurts, and it's still helpful to organize these thoughts and write them down. If you didn't enjoy reading this, then feel free to forget all about it, and head over to The Onion and have a few laughs.
posted by Andrew 8:03 PM

Monday, February 01, 2010
my Mom
My mom passed away today. Rather than reiterate what I just posted to Facebook, I'll just put a link here.
posted by Andrew 8:56 PM

Wednesday, January 20, 2010
posted by Andrew 7:17 AM

Monday, December 28, 2009
router trouble
I seem to have more trouble with routers and wireless access points than I should. My first WAP was an original Airport (flying saucer model). I think I was actually still on dial-up when I got that, and had it plugged into a phone line. It worked fine for a couple of years, then just died. I replaced that with an Airport Express, used in conjunction with a Linksys router. The router was fine, but the the Airport Express started flaking out at some point. I found that I could use it at work with no problems, so I took it into work and got a Linksys WRT54G for home, and used that to replace both the old Linksys router and the Airport Express.
In the office, the Airport Express was fine for a while, until it got fried from a power surge. I replaced it with a D-Link WBR-2310 that I got off Woot. That worked fine for me up until we got kicked out of our building a couple of weeks back. (I'm now working from home.)
Back at home, the Linksys WRT54G worked fine, until I got an Apple TV a year ago. It just didn't work right with that. I replaced the firmware with DD-WRT and tweaked a few parameters, and I got it working acceptably, though it was still a problem to copy large files from my desktop computer down to the Apple TV.
Well, the WRT54G died last week. No clue why; it just stopped working. Since I'm working from home now, I really need a working router, so I hooked up the D-Link that I'd been using in the office. It's been a bit flaky. I've made a bunch of config changes, so we'll see if it holds up today or not. If not, I'm thinking about one of these two routers. They both should accept the DD-WRT firmware, and have some good reviews out there.
I think my frequent router issues probably have something to do with the variety of equipment I've got hooked up, and the density of WAPs in my apartment building. I've got a Tivo, Apple TV, PS3, iPod Touch, PSP, Wii, and three notebook computers sharing my wireless. And I've got maybe a dozen other wireless access points that I can see from my apartment.


posted by Andrew 7:30 AM

Sunday, December 27, 2009
Spike Jones - How Much Spike Loved Live TV

I think my prior post may have been a bit maudlin, so here's a nice Spike Jones clip. (My Dad was a big Spike Jones fan, and so am I.)

posted by Andrew 1:07 PM

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