So long Apple. Hello Retirement

Yesterday was my last day at Apple and I’m calling it a day on a 30+ year career (HP and Apple). I’ve been very fortunate to work in an area that I have really enjoyed (Software Engineer). I’ve also been fortunate to work with some amazing people over the years. I very much look forward to moving into this next phase of my life with my lovely wife doing.. well.. who knows what.

I’m definitely going to continue to program, and folks can always see what I’m up to at my Github Profile

Aphantasia and Reye’s Syndrome

So I’m reading the article Aphantasia: Ex-Pixar chief Ed Catmull says ‘my mind’s eye is blind’ and my mind wandered.. heh.. Aphantasia, Pixar/Disney.. Phantasia was their first animated movie… Then, I hit the Wikipedia article about Aphantasia, I was dumbstruck.

Quick aside for folks who don’t know me. I had Reyes Syndrome when I was 17 years old. I will not go into great detail here, but suffice it to say, it’s a miracle that I’m alive and have my mental faculties.

Back to Aphantasia; the Wikipedia article describes the test for it like this:

This questionnaire invites the person to visualize a series of images (a relative, a rising sun, a shop they know, etc.) and rank how vivid the image is, from “perfectly clear and lively as real seeing” (5 points) to “no image at all, you only know that you are thinking of the object” (1 point). It is categorized as aphantasia if they score a total of 30 or less across 16 questions.”

I got sick to my stomach reading this, it was as if somebody reached across 35 years and dropped me right back in my 17 year old self after I awoke from the coma and said.. “oh.. guess what.. you have aphantasia”. I literally lost all images of my life before 17..   but now, for some reason, it feels oddly comforting to know it’s a real *THING*, like I’m not crazy for not remembering things before Reyes.

What’s new

As you might have noticed, it’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog. Back towards the end of 2009, I made a job switch. The first couple years at my new job were demanding enough that a lot of my side projects dropped to the wayside. I couldn’t stay away from tinkering with things for long though, mostly my attention has moved to automation, home, Mac, and iOS automation. I thought this would also be a good time to start the blog back up again.

Making google happy with redirects

I’ve been moving my blogs around a bit the last couple days, and the thought occured to me that I have years of posts that are still generating pretty significant traffic to my blog. How can I update the ‘old’ urls so that they 1) redirect the person who runs across an old link and 2) tell google to update my link in their search results and keep my rank.

Here you go:


header("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently");


That little dandy replaces every page that I want re-directed. Now… wouldn’t it be nice to write a little ruby script to go through my 100 posts and update each one!

Mythbuntu looks promising

I just ran across a new distribution of mythtv in a box (along with MythDora and KnoppMyth) called MythBuntu and I plan on giving it a test run this weekend. The project is currently in alpha. One nice thing is that they offer a live cd version so that you can simply drop in a disk and run a mythtv frontend anywhere you want (we’ll have to see how well that one works!). Lirc is not available yet, so it won’t be an option for me in terms of actually replacing my FC5 frontend, but I can’t imagine it will be too long before they get that working.

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Back from Vacation

I just got back from a vacation with the family. 2,000 miles in two weeks with a four and seven year old in the back.

Of course, no major road trip would be complete (or even possible these days) unless you provide some kind entertainment. When I was a kid, that consisted of hours on end of singing “I’ve been working on the railroad”, and playing every possible variant of I-Spy (I spy something that starts with the letter P — Peterbilt — again…). But for somebody with MythTV on the brain, you have to think a bit outside the box. Enter LaCie’s Silverscreen.. I won’t go into a major review here, but this little guy can output up to 1080i via component, it also outputs S-Video, and composite, and can play almost every popular video format. We hooked it up to a pair of 7″ TFT displays strapped to the back of our headrests, and the kids had more shows than they could possibly watch during the trip. Where did the shows come from? MythTV + nuvexport to Xvid format. Being able to take my content on the road with me in a totally open format is one of the great advantages to MythTV. I know there are other commercial solutions available, but since they are all closed source, you need to use proprietary solutions which are either more expensive, or have less features.

Wendy Seltzer, EFF Lawyer and MythTV user debates Fritz Attaway from the MPAA in the WSJ

When Fritz Attaway starts out the entire debate with this line:

Attaway:“Digital rights management is the key to consumer choice…”

He then goes on to explain how by being able to control the content, and how it can be distributed, and used, the movies studio’s can get a return on the millions they made to make a movie. See how much better that is for us? It occurred to me that he really believes that.

Wendy replies that the DMCA stifles technological innovation, and she describes that there are still no legal solutions for viewing DVD’s on her Linux computer (go Wendy). Then she throws him this:

Seltzer:“DRM plus DMCA protects existing business models, such as that of the blockbuster movie, but at the expense of new developments that could create more value for both creators and users of content. In the era of podcasts and YouTube, I’m quite interested in seeing what those users can do as they become creators.”

What she’s getting at here is that if the MPAA continues down their current path people will find ways around them, not just DRM.

Over and over again, Fritz stresses that any possible innovation around Media technologies that are disallowed because of current DRM are completely acceptable because it’s more important that the studios make money.

Fritzie:“‘Transformative’ uses are fine, but they cannot be given priority over the incentive to create new works. A central tenet of our fair use doctrine is that fair uses do not interfere with the ability of the creator to exploit the economic value of her work.”

I don’t know about you, but it seems clear to me he knows exactly who pays his bills.

The debate rages on, and is a must read.

The broadcast flag is back, let’s knock it down!

I got my EFF Action Alert in my inbox this AM, and sure enough, the broadcast flag has jumped up again. This is the text from the newsletter:

“The Communications, Consumers Choice, and Broadband
Deployment Act of 2006 is a monster name for a monster bill
— in its latest form, it contains 159 pages of densely
plotted telecommunications reform. But while politicians
struggle with its major clauses, the RIAA and MPAA have
piggybacked their own agenda: the broadcast and audio flags,
which restrict innovation and legitimate use of recorded
digital radio and TV content. Your call today could force
the flags to find a home of their own.

The Committee markup of this bill is on Thursday, and your
Senator is on the Commerce Committee. One last push from
you could get Congress to remove the entertainment industry
mandates from the bill.”

The call to action is to either call or write your Senator. They make the process of writing your Senator incredibly easy by providing a form that you can fill out, and they provide sample text for the e-mail. I can tell you that they do get the message so I encourage you to write.

Major League Baseball v. Sling Media (and the rest of us)

Major League Baseball says that users of placeshifters like Slingbox are lawbreakers. According to them, if you are remotely watching a baseball game that is being broadcast at your home, you are stealing from the local cable/satellite companies that paid to broadcast in the area you are watching the game.

Read More: Major League Baseball takes swing at Sling Media | CNET

My two cents, I can’t imagine what MLB is trying to enforce here. The customer is paying for the content once somewhere, isn’t that all that’s important?