Monday, April 29, 2002

I've been meaning to write sooner, but it's been a busy few days for me. Right now I'm staying at Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, VA, setting up for a firm partners meeting later this week. I only have to stay here until Wednesday afternoon, to make sure the data circuits and servers we're setting up will work for us. The partners start arriving on Thursday, but I should be long gone by then. I'm a little disappointed about that, since the room is huge and all the food is free. I just checked out the health club and now I'm looking forward to my workout tomorrow morning. As usual, I miss Liz and the cats, but I'm happy to be out of the tiny apartment for a few days. It's becoming more and more apparent that we need to move sooner rather than later. That little apartment is starting to get to me.

This article was in last Friday's Washington Post. It started me thinking about my lifetime and the technological advances I've already witnessed in 28 years. What lies ahead could be even more exciting and world-altering. I'm also reading Arthur C. Clarke's 3001: The Final Odyssey, which deals with the universe of the year in the title. All this speculation about the future has resurrected in me the idea that I was born in the wrong time. I would love to be able to travel through space and visit other star systems, ideally as the captain of a starship, but more likely as the computer geek running the ship. And I've always joked that I'll be the first one in line to get the cybernetic implant that will make me a cyborg. But what happens if those advances come when I'm 75, too old to enjoy them? I make fun of the old folks in my world, who don't understand the Internet, PDAs, or even something as simple as a DVD player. But how will I feel when the cyborgs are everywhere and I'm not one of them? I desperately want to see how the human race will evolve over the coming centuries: whether we turn out like something from Star Trek, or we blow ourselves up in a Mad Maxapocalypse, or we continue to develop like the civilized society in Clarke's book. It pains me to realize that I will never see many of humanity's advances. Maybe I should try to focus on enjoying what I have (and I do enjoy all of the technological toys that we have today -- for example, wireless networking is my new favorite thing and I can definitely see how it will revolutionize the way we work) and think less about what I could miss out on. Even if I were born 500 years from now, even with an advanced lifespan of 150 years, there could still be eons of human advancement to come that I would never see. I wonder what the science fiction of the year 2500 will be like?

Sunday, April 21, 2002

Apparently I'm missing the whole point of the blog. I'm supposed to provide links to articles and web pages I find interesting. Since when did that become the point of writing on the Internet? If I threw in some links, that would just lead you away from my blog and you'd be off surfing somewhere. So you probably won't find too many links here. Sorry.

Yesterday I noticed a story in the Washington Post's gossip column about Natalie Portman writing a letter to the Harvard Crimson in response to an opinion piece about the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Post made a point of mentioning that the letter was published under her real name, which is well-known on Harvard's campus. However, in order to spare her family the harsh glare of fame and stardom, she has a strict policy of keeping her real name a secret, and the article said that they agreed to her request not to publish the name. But it didn't take me too long to get to the Crimson's web site and read the letter and learn her real name. I'll leave it up to you to find it on your own. It's not like she's a Kennedy or anything that exciting. I'll put it this way: Portman is a much better choice for a stage name than her real name. Why am I even writing about this? She's a good actress, but I'm not that interested in her, aside from the Star Wars aspect of her career. Maybe you should check with me again next month, after I've seen Attack of the Clones.

I'm currently surfing and writing on my laptop, using my fancy new wireless Internet router. I had so much fun using the wireless networks at BrainShare and the office that I just had to have one at home. Liz's office had one that they weren't using anymore, so the other day Liz read me the specs and I looked them up on the Internet. It took me about 5 seconds to think about it and tell her I'd take it. I checked the prices and gave them what I thought was a good deal. The previous administrator hadn't changed any of the default configuration options, so it was incredibly easy to set up for my home network. Of course, being a network administrator myself, I reconfigured the router for high security so that any computer-savvy neighbors can't sign in and surf on my DSL. Take that, guy across the hall with a wireless network card for his own laptop.

Friday, April 19, 2002

Another long break without an entry. I'm almost ashamed at taking this long between writings, but I find other things to occupy my time.

I had no DSL last weekend, which sucked, as one might imagine. Liz was uptown on Friday night and Saturday, so I had the entire place to myself for 36 hours. I had planned an extended Jedi Knight II saberfest, but that plan went out along with the DSL. Instead I watched some TV and started learning Galactic Battlegrounds, the new Star Wars RTS game. That turned into this week's major time-suck, but that's another excuse for not writing. Anyway, back to the DSL problem. The guy I'd talked to on Friday night had said that the second-level support staff was checking my circuit and it might be up to 72 hours (not including Sunday) until they called me with an update. As I waited for the call, I looked into getting Earthlink Cable instead. Before I made that call on Sunday night I called Earthlink's tech support again, just to get an update. On the first try I got a second-level engineer. That never happens. You always get the first-level help desk people who think all problems are with your PC and not your line. This engineer spent about an hour on the phone with me, checking all sorts of things and filling out new trouble tickets. Finally, he scheduled a Covad engineer to come to my apartment on Monday afternoon. When that guy showed up (only kept me waiting an hour, thankfully), we found that some Verizon flunky had been in the basement phone cabinet and disconnected my DSL wire pair. A quick reconnect and call to tech support later, my broadband was back. So the phone call about cable is off for the moment. Considering the way the phone cabinet looks, and that my wires aren't labeled, it's a wonder that this kind of problem hasn't happened before. The next time it does, I'm not wasting much time waiting; I'm getting cable.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Wow. I didn't realize it's been so long since I posted anything. What few readers I had have surely moved on by now.

As usual, I blame a computer game. Empire Earth is on the sidelines right now, as I've been playing Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast for the past two weeks. I finished the single player portion of the game last week, and I've just started spending my late nights hacking and slashing opponents in the multiplayer game online. I'm not that good at it yet, but I'm getting there. I'm honing my saber skills by playing bots and computer opponents in the SP game. I've been waiting years for this game, so I think I'm justified in jumping into it with both legs and an arm or two.

I got a Blackberry device last week from the office. Our resident gadget guru, Craig, got a new Blackberry, so I inherited his old one. About a year ago, I had the small, pager-sized device, and I loved it, but now I'm getting used to the Palm-sized one instead. Either way, it's cool to have my work e-mail instantly accessible. I'm going to DC for a business trip later this month, so I'm looking forward to using it there. While it would have been convenient in SLC at BrainShare, in retrospect I'm glad I didn't have it there. It was hard enough to keep up with the sheer volume of e-mail over the web; a Blackberry would have been unmanageable. And a constant distraction.

Two weeks ago, I went to see Dream Theater at the Beacon here in Manhattan. I've always wanted to see DT, and when I found out they were touring and stopping here, I wasn't about to let a little thing like no one wanting to come with me keep me from going alone. I had a fantastic time. The band is great on their albums, and they are even more energetic and frenetic onstage. They played for almost three straight hours, with only a 20-minute break between sets. I recognized about half the songs; the ones I didn't know were from their new album (which I haven't heard yet). Everything sounded great and the crowd of college boys and middle-aged rockers was really into the show. My only regret was that I didn't bring earplugs. The show was really too loud, especially where I sat in the lower balcony. My ears didn't stop ringing for three days. After that concert, I'm always bringing earplugs, even to a string quartet recital. I'd definitely see DT again if/when they come back to NY. They were every bit as good as I thought they'd be, and I was inspired to pick up their recent live release, Scenes from New York. I'll have to listen to it this Friday night when Liz is away for the evening and I have the stereo all to myself.