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I’m pretty sure I was introduced to the amaretto sour in college by my roommate’s girlfriend. I liked it—because I like amaretto—but I had the vague notion that it was kind of a simple, overly-sweet drink even back then, and they mostly fell off my radar. After I got introduced to...

Read the rest on Coyote Tracks: https://wp.me/p8UtTf-4k
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As you’ve surely heard by now, a mid-level engineer at Google—he’s anonymous, so I’ll call him Mr. Rationalface—wrote a memo called “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” in which he argued that “differences in distributions of traits between men and women...

Read the rest on Coyote Tracks: https://wp.me/p8UtTf-46
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Over the years, I’ve ended up with multiple “presences” online:

  • The original Coyote Tracks, hosted at Tumblr

  • “Coyote Prints,” an attempt at a writing news-ish weblog, generated with Jekyll

  • My Ranea.org website, made with a hacky homebrew static site generator

  • The occasional foray onto Medium


That’s not even inclusive of earlier attempts at this, like a LiveJournal and, before that, a very simple bloggy thing that worked by putting files with names like 1999-01-01-entry.txt in a specific directory that were picked up by a small PHP script. (That was back in the days when PHP was just used to embed bits of interactivity in HTML pages, just like that, which is something it’s pretty good at. I’m pretty sure I was doing that in early 1998, which by some measure might make me one of the earliest bloggers, or would if there had been just one damn person reading my home page.)


While this hodgepodge of bloglike objects had good intentions—separation of concerns, trying new platforms, keeping up with the cool kids—it’s become too unwieldy. The decision where to post is sometimes kind of arbitrary. Many of the people who read about my writing are interested in tech; while the reverse isn’t as true, I’d actually kinda like to expose some of my tech audience to my writing, especially stories that involve techy things.


A bigger concern, though, comes down to fully controlling my own content.


This isn’t a new concern; Marco Arment was writing about owning your identity back in 2011. Some blogging services let you bring your own domain—Tumblr does it for free, which is why you go to tracks.ranea.org instead of chipotle.tumblr.com—and others, like WordPress.com, let you do it for a modest charge. Medium makes it possible, but only for publications (and at a fairly high cost); many other services don’t offer this at all.


So: Welcome to coyotetracks.org.


But while owning your online identity is necessary, it’s not sufficient: you need to own your content, too. I don’t mean that in a legal sense—despite the headless chicken dance the internet goes through every time somebody changes their legal boilerplate, no reputable service ever has or ever will tried to steal your copyright. I mean it in an existential sense.


I still like Tumblr, despite its foibles, but as far as I know it was never profitable on its own, it was never profitable for Yahoo, and it’s on track to never be profitable for Verizon. As for Medium, I love what it’s trying to do, or maybe I love what it was trying to last business model and not so much now, or maybe vice-versa, or maybe it was three or four business models ago. What other businesses call pivots, Medium calls Tuesdays.


I’ll circle back to that, but the upshot is that I decided I needed a POSSE: “publish own site, syndicate everywhere.” (Look, I didn’t make it up.) And that brings me to…WordPress.


I’ll be blunt: I don’t like WordPress. Internally it’s a dumpster fire, full of arcanely formatted non-OO code, bloated HTML, and a theming engine designed by bipolar squirrels.


So I looked at other things. I know there are ways to make static site generators quasi-automatic, that Matt Gemmell swears it’s faster to blog from his iPad with Jekyll. I’ve done it, with a system not too dissimilar from the one he describes. It works, but I don’t love it. I’m comfortable at a shell prompt, but I don’t want it to be necessary for blogging, especially if I’m on an iPad. (I’m moving back to the Mac for portable writing, but that’s another post.)


I also looked at Ghost, which started with some fanfare a couple years ago as a modern take on WordPress that focused back on blogging essentials rather than shoehorning in a content management system. Now they’re a “professional publishing platform,” and all their messaging is we are not for you, casual blogger, pretty much the opposite of their original ideology.


But I can publish to WordPress right from Ulysses. Or MarsEdit. Or the WordPress web interface, desktop app, or iOS app. The WordPress API is, at least for me, a killer feature. And its ecosystem is unmatched: I have access to thousands of plugins, at least six of which are both worth using and actively maintained.


So: I’m still finding my way. I’ve added a cross-poster which can theoretically post everywhere I want, although I’m not sure if I’m going to use its Medium functionality—I want to be able to vet what it’s posting before it goes live there, so I’ll probably just use Medium’s post importer. And I don’t want to syndicate everything everywhere: I want to syndicate selectively. (This post probably won’t even go to Medium, for instance.)


The semi-ironic footnote: I don’t know if this is really going to make me post more, when all is said and done. I’ve always been guilty of being more interested in building things than running them. But we’ll see.

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I'm finding myself spending more time searching rental and home listings in other parts of the country. Finding myself is such a passive phrase, as if it's not me doing it, but it truly feels like it's just...what I do when I'm bored or restless. I daydream about being somewhere else.

I haven't been journaling the way I used to years ago in, well, years. So in a quick "catching up with things" rundown, I've been out here in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2002, and living in Santa Clara since 2010. I moved to Santa Clara for a job with Nokia in Sunnyvale when they moved their offices there. On the first day their offices were open, I was laid off, with about half my team.

I bounced around between other technical jobs, and grew to loathe working with code. Especially bad code, but to some degree, code, period. I hate to trivialize real PTSD, but I think it truly broke me in some small but noticeable way. To this day I fall into frothy screamy lunatic moments when my computers do something I don't expect or want in a way that just didn't happen five years ago. I know I've always had a short temper, but this is much more oh my god, listen to yourself, what the fuck is wrong with you kind of irrational rage.

In 2014, I lucked into a terrific startup, RethinkDB, not as a coder but as a technical writer. I loved the people, genuinely liked the product (as you can guess, a database), liked the commute (25 minutes to or from the office on a bad day, usually under 20), was paid really well. It was as close to a dream job as I suspect I'll ever have unless I go into business for myself.

So naturally, that couldn't last. They spent all of 2016 trying to get more VC funding and finally threw in the towel in September.

I'm employed again, at a company in San Francisco that's...nice enough, I guess, but I have issues with them that I might get into in another post.

The truth is that 2016 was already a bad year for me, emotionally. I can't say why with absolute certainty, but my mom had a serious health scare in late 2015--I spent months kicking myself for not dropping everything and flying out to be with her while she recovered from surgery--and a series of house troubles in early 2016 which ended up seriously throwing me into flux, because it seemed that the theoretical Some day you will move back to Florida to take care of your aging mom was nigh.

Now, there are things I still like about Florida, and I think some of the urban areas I used to visit have gotten, well, more urban in the last decade. Hipsters are starting to spring up and, setting aside concerns about gentrification for the moment, that means non-retiree culture is starting to spring up. (Also setting aside how uncomfortably close to retirement age I'm getting.)

But all other things being equal, Florida just--isn't high on my list of places to live anymore. I don't like the climate, I don't like the bugs (seriously), I don't like the politics. It's cheap compared to where I am now, but that's not a useful metric.

So I spend my free time looking at other cities.

Portland or Seattle--that's where techies flee the Bay Area to, right? Staying in state, Sacramento is beautiful and has a thriving craft food scene. And there's Eugene, Oregon, kind of a lower-cost, small town version of Portland. An artist friend who used to work at RethinkDB--she did my Twitter icon--suggested Santa Fe. Honestly, Albequerque has pretty areas, despite what "Breaking Bad" may make you think. For that matter, if we're thinking desert oasis, there's Las Vegas.

I know this is silly. I still expect to move in with my mom, wherever she is, and that's almost guaranteed to be somewhere around Tampa. (She's looked at moving away from the rural area she's been in for the last thirty years, but I have my doubts she'll commit.) Putting it that way makes it sound like something I'm dreading, but--it's complicated. I love my mom and want to be with her in her twilight; I just wish there was a way for us to move into The Perfect Town For Both Of Us, whatever the hell that would be, into separate side-by-side houses, or two sides of a duplex or something. So I'm right there, but still have my own space.

But I can't make that happen.

I hate moving. All things being equal, bluntly, I'd rather stay here. So, for the foreseeable future, I am. But my salary is about 15% lower than it was at RethinkDB. Commuting to San Francisco is about a two-hour process each way, when all is said and done. I only have to do that two days a week now, thank God, but between the costs for commuting that incurs anyway and the cost for buying my own lunches when I'm working at home, I'm spending a couple thousand dollars more a year to go to the job that isn't paying me as much. And the rents here are getting so, so high; I'm pretty sure we're paying about 50% more on this lease than we were on the one we signed in 2010, and I would be (perversely) pleasantly surprised if there's merely a 5% increase when we're asked to renew in a couple months.

So I wait. I wait to see what happens with this job, what happens with my mother, what happens with the Bay Area, what happens with my friends. And I daydream about towns I'm not going to move to.

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I went to my DW reading page, and there was…there was…stuff there.

It's a new and slightly unsettling experience. (Kidding! …mostly.)

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I'm joining the migration to Dreamwidth, finally. Well: that's kind of a mischaracterization on two counts. First, I don't use LiveJournal much anymore; second, I've had an account on Dreamwidth for years, but I just kept using LJ anyway.

I know that a fair number of people, including some who were on my LJ friends list, abandoned LJ back in the Six Apart days when they had their brief flurry of panicked journal deletion-and-reinstatement because Save The Children Something Something. And, on the one hand I get that, but on the other hand, Six Apart listened to their users, reinstated most of the journals, promised to do better, and for the most part did. Was this perfect? No, but it seems at times like they never got even partial credit for trying harder. Water under the Bridge of Khazad-dûm and all now, I suppose.

The sale to SUP, the Russian media company, was interesting, in what a friend described a while ago as the American sense. ("When Europeans say something is interesting, they mean it's interesting. When Americans say something is interesting, they mean it's worrisome.") In retrospect, though, I think SUP did a lot of things right that they don't get credit for, either: for years, LiveJournal was the Number-One-With-A-Bullet blogging system in the Russian Federation, and SUP did their damndest to keep it a free and open platform--no mean trick given the political reality. That's why "LiveJournal, Inc.," remained an American subsidiary, with their servers on American soil, for so long.

I suspect, though, in the end that became their undoing. In September 2015, Russian Federal Law 242-FZ, the "Russian Data Localization Law," went into effect. It mandates that any business that collects or stores personal information--which includes names, email addresses, and even IP addresses--of Russian citizens to use data centers in Russia.

While I couldn't find any smoking gun that suggests this law is why SUP moved their servers to Russia, it's hard not to suspect that's the case. In mid-2016, Russia blocked LinkedIn for non-compliance with the law, and at that point the writing was likely on the wall. In theory, SUP could "simply" run servers in both the US and Russia, and segregate data based on a geolocation algorithm. In practice, though, even assuming they had the resources for that, they'd be under harsh government scrutiny. Dissidents start figuring out how to get his data on the US servers, and that gives the government enough pretext to take the whole company down. From SUP's perspective, it's a choice between submitting to Putin or going out of business. It's easy for us to say they should have chosen the latter, but it's not our livelihoods in question, is it?

Also, let's be blunt: given the Trump administration, SUP probably didn't think having servers in the US was much of a safe harbor anymore.

Will Dreamwidth rekindle my longform blogging? Honestly, I doubt it. It's not that I don't still have that desire, sometimes, it's that Dreamwidth just isn't a platform I like much. "But it's the same as LiveJournal!" Well, no, it isn't. There are a few clever things with filters and access that DW does better than LJ (whenever I'm critical of DW they always get brought up, and yes, I get it, honest), but in terms of the overall design and UX, DW feels pretty much like the LJ of a decade ago, and the LJ of a decade ago didn't feel that much different from the LJ of a decade before that. The reason I kept sticking with LJ is--well, partially inertia, okay--but also because over the last few years or so, SUP put real effort into modernizing things. (Unfortunately, they also closed off the code base.)

And, frankly, all of them feel way less modern than Tumblr--the site I suspect is one of the three crucial legs in the LJ diaspora (the other two being Twitter and, as a distant third, Facebook)--or, for that matter, WordPress 4. And then there's sites like Medium, which are joys to write and read on. (And, for that matter, publish on. I don't think there are any modern LiveJournal clients anymore. If I were writing this for Medium, I'd be writing it in my beloved quirky Markdown editing app Ulysses, and publishing it directly from there. As it is, I'm still writing it in Markdown, but it's going to require some effort to get it from Markdown to DW, because Markdown was invented in 2004 and that's just too dar recent for the LiveJournal codebase.)

Having said that, though, DW/LJ offer unparalleled access control, something that you'd think would be more popular these days given all the concern about online harrassment. There are other valuable things, large and small--from threaded conversations in replies to multiple user icons that we can set for a given post based on topic, mood or whim--that seem to have fallen by the wayside in recent years. The goal of clean, simple UIs is worthwhile, but maybe there's some functionality we should be re-imagining for a new decade rather than merely stripping away.

I've thought a lot about this; people who follow me on Twitter know I've half-joked about making a "modern" LiveJournal equivalent. The thought's still there, although I'm not honestly sure the time and energy is. On the other hand, I'm at the age for a good and proper midlife crisis, so we'll see.

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 It's time for my biennial "hey, I actually have a journal." Actually it's been more than two years over here on Dreamwidth, where I'm writing this; I've gone back to LiveJournal slightly more recently, because I still like their interface more. Given the turmoil over LiveJournal quietly relocating their servers to Russia (a report I was originally dubious about, but as MetaFilter notes, the traceroute is pretty clear), though, I'm reconsidering that. I didn't have the mistrust of SUP, the Russian company that bought LJ from Six Apart, that some users did; if anything, I think SUP put active effort into trying to fix the trust issues that Six Apart created, and my suspicion is that they wouldn't have made this move if they weren't being forced to by the Russian government. Of course, that makes the argument for no longer using them even greater. if I'm going to not be anywhere, it's probably better to not be here. As it were.

Having said that: holy hand grenades, does Dreamwidth look archaic compared to modern LiveJournal. I'm not suggesting LJ is an excellent example of clean, modern web work. But DW just looks so…2002. I'm sure there will be people popping up to argue that's a virtue rather than a flaw, and if that 15px default text size looks tiny and hard to read it's my fault for having a higher-resolution monitor than 1024×768. To those people I say, with love in my heart, zark off. There are many modern web design trends worth complaining about, but a much greater emphasis on readability and typography is not one of them.

Anyway: I doubt I'll really resume journaling here, but I'm going to try to check in more and see if anyone else I used to follow is here. If not...well, we'll see where things go, I guess.

(N.B.: If you are reading this on LiveJournal, it's because I'm crossposting there, like many other DW users do. I'm not sure if I'll keep that setting enabled, though.)
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 I keep forgetting this actually exists.

That's unfortunate, since I have a few friends who are only posting over here. Which I think is also unfortunate, in a way; as much as I admire Dreamwidth's spunk, the Very Bad Things people seem to have imagined were going to happen to LiveJournal by and large have not, and LJ feels a lot more modern than DW does these days. Which isn't saying a whole lot, granted, but even so.

I post sporadically to LiveJournal, but everything that shows up there shows up on Coyote Prints, my self-hosted blog. I'll have to see whether or not I can make the echo to LJ an echo to DW also; that may be in the "easier said than done" category, but perhaps.

I hope you're all doing well.

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 Why, yes, I do have a Dreamwidth account, don't I?

The truth is that the same "complaints" -- they're mild, and so deserving of air quotes -- that I have with LiveJournal is true over here, too, except more so. A few friends crosspost to both LJ and DW and a few others only post here, and those latter... well, I've not been keeping up with too well, for exactly the reason that I expected not to: I didn't want to manage two sites and I didn't want to bother trying to make Dreamwidth my "only" site for this... so it got left on the wayside.

Truthfully, I don't really want to make LiveJournal that site anymore, either, though. In practice, I've started blogging at Coyote Prints for writing stuff and Coyote Tracks for tech blogging. Coyote Prints is echoed -- manually -- to my LJ; I may see about echoing it here, too, although I'm not sure who's reading me only here and not on LJ (or who might be reading both but would prefer to be reading only here). I'm not sure whether I can programmatically crosspost to both here and LJ, though, with the tools that I have: it's not clear whether a post made through DW's API would be automatically crossposted to LJ even if I have it set to do so from the web interface.
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Way back in May 2006, I wrote a little piece called “The State of the Furry Zine.” I’m informally revisiting it now. (And remembering to post it on DreamWidth, too, not just LiveJournal!)

Warning: ~4800 words. )
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As usual, I’ve been very lax in updating this. I may make an effort to start making this a weekly thing again, finally, but no promises. Here’s an overview of what’s been going on recently, at the least…

Most immediately, about two and a half weeks ago I woke up with a stiff neck. No big deal, right? Well, as the days went on, it didn’t go away, and it seemed more like a pinched nerve. Or a shoulder… thing. Then a shoulder thing that involved limited movement and excruciating pain. On Memorial Day I went to a nearby hospital for an evaluation—the walk-in clinic nearby was closed for the holiday (!)—and got the helpful diagnosis of “muscle spasms,” caused by a pulled trapezius. Okay, maybe so. But the pain didn’t really go away completely and the range of motion didn’t really come back, either. A week ago I went to a chiropractor, after doing a little bit of due diligence to find one with a fairly good reputation who focuses on what massage and skeletal manipulation could conceivably help with (i.e., back and shoulder pain) rather than sounding unduly homeopathic.

Is he helping? I’m not sure. He’s not hurting, but from all appearances I have a “frozen shoulder,” which could take months to heal.

Welcome to middle age.

Anyway, on other fronts… my contract with the startup that I went to work for in February ended at the end of April, and I still have not been paid. I knew this possibility going in—that’s what “deferred compensation” means, after all—so I’m not upset. (Which is not to say that I don’t want the money.) However, I’m firing up the engines for looking for work again, getting my resume back in order and starting a long-delayed revamp of my personal web site. I’m not really sure what I’m looking for at this point; I don’t know how much of a picky bastard I can afford to be, either. But part of me wants to be doing consulting work more than doing full-time work. I could definitely be comfortable on a lower annual income than what I made last year—again, which is not to say that I wouldn’t like to make that much or more on a regular basis, but I really do like the freedom to set my own hours and working conditions. I want to work my own way, to other people’s deadlines. (Deadlines are, I have learned, pretty necessary to me.)

A couple months ago I started trying to force myself to write at least a half-hour every day. It doesn’t matter what the writing is, but notes and research for writing doesn’t count. This has actually helped—I’ve written several vignettes and stories and gotten more regular at updating my other blog. The shoulder injury has broken my concentration on non-blog writing but I’m trying to get back on that horse, too, so to speak.

Claw & Quill is still only moving forward in fits and starts. I admit my motivation to work on it has been relatively low the last few months; I’d like to find something to relight that fire, but at this point I’m not sure there’s anyone out there actually clamoring for it. What the fandom has for showing off stories is probably in the “good enough” category, and I’ve been at a loss to define just what it is that’s going to make people want to migrate to C&Q if it were actually finished. (If you think this is a blatant call for encouragement and reassurance, you are by and large right.)

There’s a few of you who I really only keep track of through LiveJournal these days (or Dreamwidth, which I still haven’t really made the mental shift to, even though I suspect there are many of you I should actually be reading there instead of on LJ). Many of you have become almost as bad about updating as I have. Some of you have moved to Twitter—as I’ve mentioned, it’s great for small stuff—and some of you, well, I’m not sure about at all at this point, as you don’t write much here, don’t tweet much and don’t seem to ever be available on IM, which about exhausts my ability to spy on you. I hope you’re all doing well!

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Since I’ve lived out here, people have said that the San Francisco Bay area has little seasonal variation. To someone who’s come from the northeast United States, perhaps this is true; to someone from Florida, it certainly isn’t. The seasons here seem to come late—fall never gets underway until November. This year it came abruptly. The summer had been unseasonably cool, leading to an unusually warm October followed by a cold snap. In a single day, trees around where I live jumped from green and a little yellow to red, orange and shedding, thick drifts of brown leaves blowing across roads and gathering soggily in gutters after the rain.

At least, this happened where I live now, in Santa Clara, back in the heart of Silicon Valley. In Foster City, just 30 miles north up the peninsula, I don’t remember this happening. This may be the fault of my memory more than of Foster City—as I write this passage, I’m on a train bound for San Francisco, the same train I used to take into work at times. Right now it’s in Menlo Park and there are—well, some fall colors, although certainly not as pronounced as I saw in Santa Clara.

When I got to the peninsula it seemed much nicer than the South Bay: more urbane, with walkable downtowns and fewer chain restaurants and more history. It would be closer to hills and closer to parks. There was one right down the street!

All true. But Foster City itself had no downtown at all, and only a few restaurants (chain or otherwise). It wasn’t easy to get into the hills except for residential neighborhoods. The nicer downtowns were some distance away. Nearly all of my friends live in the South Bay, and I found myself making new ones there that I could rarely visit.

And there are no first class coffee shops anywhere between Mountain View and San Francisco. Trust me.

Don’t get me wrong; Foster City is a pleasant place. Sure, it’s aggressively nondescript in a way that only the exurbs that sprung up in the last fifteen years top (and which were the clearest sign of the recession-to-be: when people are spending $300K to live in house farms 60 miles from the metro area they work in, something’s going to give). But it had a great location and made taking a job in San Francisco a lot more bearable than it would have been if I’d stayed in San Jose.

When I first moved to California a friend complained I kept saying everything was better in Florida. I don’t think that was a fair complaint, though. I was guilty of comparing things here to what I knew in Tampa, yes—but looking back is hardly the same as wanting to go back. There are things I miss (as anyone who’s moved from a place they grew up would have) and I love my friends in Florida, but it’s never been a place I’ve pined for.

I didn’t realize until this very move, looking back on my other moves, that this is hardly new for me. I rarely think the grass is greener on the other side—the grass is greener wherever I happen to be. The SF Peninsula was clearly better than the South Bay until a month ago. Now the South Bay is clearly better than the Peninsula and I was an idiot to think otherwise. So it goes.

Today, though, is the last day that my office is in San Francisco, and while I won’t miss the commute I’ve had for the last several weeks—I’m very much looking forward to the shortest commute I’ve had in five years!—I’ll miss being in The City. After spending a year riding in four or five days a week, it’s a different place for me: less intimidatingly labyrinthine, but no less magical. There are dozens of spots from little cafes to funky neighborhoods to world-class bars that you’re unlikely to visit, or even find, unless you live or work there.

There’s a curious mental barrier between SF and the South Bay. It’s only 45 miles away from where I’m living now, which is—yes, this is a comparison to Florida—is a shorter distance than that between my college in Sarasota and the neighborhoods in Tampa I visited frequently. But SF is much harder to get into and get around in until you’re familiar with public transit. I doubt I’d been into San Francisco more than a dozen times in the seven years before I started work up by Market and Embarcadero.

So this colors this move in a strangely unexpected way. I am going to miss working downtown despite the costs involved. (Between no longer paying for monthly transit and parking passes and not having the “Financial District tax” on lunches, I’ll probably be saving upwards of $200 a month.) Yet I have a curious feeling that the South Bay is more my home than the Peninsula ever was. This has made me think—not for the first time—on just what “home” means to me. Maybe I’ll have an answer before I retire.

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After eight and a half years and 192,000 miles—yes, that’s over 20K miles a year—I’d started looking about for a new car to replace my Acura RSX. As much as I liked it (and the engine still seemed to be in pretty good shape), it needed work: squeaky brakes were a must-fix and tires were due to be replaced within the year, and it had annoying and expensive non-critical problems: a blown air conditioner compressor and an ugly dent in the passenger side door. A median estimate for all that would be around $2500, notably more than the car’s actual value at this point.

I’d made a short list of cars to look at—the Ford Focus or Fusion, the Mazda 3, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Nothing by Honda, Toyota or Nissan particularly grabbed me this time, which surprised me. (Which isn’t to say that I’d turn down a 370Z, but it’s out of my price range.) The Hyundai appealed to me as something similar to the RSX but more powerful, with rear-wheel drive, and just an all-around great driving machine. And even less practical than the RSX. The Mazda 3 surprised me by being as interesting as it was—for what’s basically Mazda’s answer to the Accord, it’s aggressively styled, has some interesting standard electronics and even with an automatic transmission is as responsive as the stick-shift RSX. (And it’s a five-speed auto with a “manual shift” mode, to boot.)

The Ford salesman was pretty cool, managing the neat trick of seeming laid back and attentive simultaneously. He didn’t fail to close the sale—the car did. It may be that nearly nine years with a quasi-sports coupe has changed my perceptions, but the Fusion seemed to take the steering wheel and accelerator as suggestions rather than commands. It’s a distinctive ride style I imagine some people would like, to be sure, but those people are not me.

I hadn’t actually expected to buy a new car now, either way, but Mazda was offering a 0% APR deal expiring on Monday. Gnaw gnaw gnaw. So I took a deep breath, went back, signed all the papers, drove away from the dealer five minutes before they closed, and the car immediately died.

No, seriously. A mile away from the dealer the “check engine” light came on, which isn’t necessarily serious, but so did the “automatic transmission malfunction” light, which is drive to the shop now do not pass go do not collect $200 serious.

As you may guess, this caused a great deal of stress for me, and more than a little consternation at the dealership. Their service department wouldn’t re-open until Monday (yesterday). I got a loaner then—apparently a very ad hoc “don’t strand the customer” choice of cars, as they’d actually just closed when I rolled the ailing car back up—and then swapped it for a somewhat more official “drive this while we figure out what’s going on, please” loaner on Sunday.

To wrap the story up somewhat more quickly, yesterday I checked in with the service manager in the morning, who optimistically said, “It’s probably just a loose connector.” I wasn’t so sanguine, and had been preparing myself to politely but firmly suggest that perhaps they should look into getting me a different car. As it turned out, the return visit in late afternoon made that unnecessary. When I walked in, they greeted me with, “We’re getting you another car and it should be here in a couple hours.” They couldn’t determine what was wrong with the original car (“something’s wrong with the transmission”) and didn’t want the deal to be permeated with lemon scent. I’ll give them points for handling it proactively.

So, bottom line: new car. Payments for five years, but slightly less than the payments on the RSX were, and with no interest. A lot of the gadgetry that’s become standard in the last decade, too—the advancements are remarkable. I may be a nerd and post pictures later.

I’ll take it out for a long drive—well, maybe not for three weeks: this upcoming weekend is booked for Mother’s Day stuff, and the weekend after that I’m keeping open for potential visitors.

After that, though, I drive somewhere stupidly far away.

(Also: props to Menlo Mazda and Jessica, the saleswoman there who helped me out and handled what’s surely on the list of Things You Do Not Want To Go Wrong With Your Sale with grace. And, if you’re in the market for a Ford, Zach at Sunnyvale Ford gets cool points. Hopefully he won’t lose them when I say I’ve bought a Mazda elsewhere.)

chipotle: (Default)

(Presented for your perusal in no particular order.)

  • I transitioned from being a contract employee to a direct employee of the company I’ve been working for since October. In practice this doesn’t make a huge difference in terms of my role and responsibilities (or salary), but it’s nice that they’re hoping to keep me around for a while.
  • I’m experimentally moving my journal back end from LiveJournal to Dreamwidth. So:
    • If you’re reading my journal on LJ or at ranea.org, you shouldn’t have to do anything; if you also have a DW account and want to read me there, my username is (surprise) [personal profile] chipotle.
    • If you want to comment on my journal, you still shouldn’t have to do anything, at least for the indefinite future. I expect to check both sites.
    • Eventually, if DW works out, I may first request and then eventually require comments to be only on DW. But I’m not sure. I’d rather things be a little more of a pain in the butt for me than for you.
    • Why bother doing this at all? In very short form, I don’t really trust LiveJournal’s commitment to their “old” userbase (i.e., people like me).
  • While this journal is probably going to remain moderately quiet, just for the occasional life update, I have a tech blog now, although it’s also something of an experiment: Coyote Tracks.
    • My goal is to update it with something at least once a day and with something substantial at least once a week. It may be a little something like Daring Fireball in content mix, focusing on web stuff, Apple stuff, and publishing stuff, musings about the future of computing which will undoubtedly look ridiculous in as little as a year’s time, occasional commentary on commentary, and—the secret ingredient—cocktail recipes.
    • For a “brand new blog” it got a fair amount of attention from being linked to by Marco Arment (the creator of Tumblr and the amazing Instapaper). We’ll see if that lasts.
    • The URL is http://chipotle.tumblr.com/, and it should have an RSS feed and other such niceties out of the box. LJ users may add it to their friends page as “chipotle_tumble”; Dreamwidth users may add “coyotetracks_feed”. (Please note that while DW and LJ will allow you to comment on feeds, there’s no guarantee that I will see such a comment.)
chipotle: (Default)
After tracking down a somewhat baffling "encoding error" all my journal entries have been imported here. What this means... I still don't know. This is more of an issue for my Claw & Quill group, I suspect -- while the groups and the friends have both been imported, anyone on the C&Q group would still have to authenticate with their LJ address to read those posts, I believe, because Dreamwidth currently can't map the LJ OpenID URLs to Dreamwidth accounts. Such is life.

I'll have to investigate things here more fully when I have the time; it doesn't look to me like, at this point, it's really possible to just do everything on either DW or LJ and have it tied to both gracefully -- I can't read LJ friends from my DW friends list page, for instance. Yes, I could subscribe to everyone as an RSS feed, in theory. In practice, hahahaha right like that's gonna happen. (I don't know why LJ doesn't just provide an "authenticated friends page RSS feed" so instead of having 100 feeds for 100 friends, you have one feed for all your friends. You know, just like the friends page.)
chipotle: (Default)
I don't know whether I'm going to move to Dreamwidth -- and if I don't, there won't be a lot of point in having this journal, I suspect -- but it seems prudent at this point to reserve the space.
chipotle: (Default)

…but not as brief as a tweet.

Work has been busy the last few weeks, culminating in really busy this last week. Today was a coworker’s last day and he was trying to do a knowledge dump while we’re trying to roll out the code that he’d been working on and merge in various fixes that were being stashed away rather than checked into the source code trunk line, because the now ex-coworker was maintaining his Huge Project in trunk. (Why was he not maintaining it in his own branch? I don’t know.)

To add spice to it all, my “other job,” the contract that I started last March or so, is finally wrapping up. Sort of. This means a big push to get it running in production mode rather than development mode. So this has been eating up most of my spare cycles this week. Truthfully there are other projects I’d rather be devoting spare cycles to, but a contract is a contract and all that.

Speaking of C&Q, there will be more to report on that soon. While I can’t say that interest in it has spiked—we’re still flying very much under the radar in most places, I think—I’m getting asked about it more frequently. And there’s work, er, being worked on. (In part that’s why having the other contract pop its up head and demand work on me now now NOW! is so frustrating; there’s only a couple more hills to climb before I can start getting things into a private alpha stage.)

Anyway, on the train now heading home to do Jäger shots and collapse.

I’m kidding about the Jäger.

Probably.

chipotle: (Default)

Against my better judgement, I’m going to write about the iPad. It’s been long enough that everyone’s already formed an opinion, I suspect; I’m going to start off by throwing a bit of cold water on some of the opinions I’ve been seeing.

Then, I'm going to get distressingly non-skeptical at you. )
chipotle: (drinks)
What was the famous Slashdot quote about the first iPod? “No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame.”

While I’m not going to predict the iPad will match the success of the previous iP* product lines, there’s a definite party line among the geek crowd that only fashion-conscious fanboys would ever actually buy Apple products and that whenever they introduce a new gadget it’s the Stupidest Thing Ever. If the majority of commenters on Slashdot and TechCrunch did not piss all over a new Apple product, that’s the product I’d expect was in trouble. Given how much pissing is going on around such sites over the iPad, I'm betting the thing is going to sell like crack-infused hotcakes.

Never make the mistake of assuming either of the following:
  1. That you really know what a product you've only seen demo videos of is going to be good at. Some things look much better in demos than they really are, and some things have to actually be used to be properly evaluated.
  2. That because ultimately a product is not good for you means that it's not good for anyone else. You are not necessarily in the median of the product's target market segment.
(N.B.: I'm not sure I'm in the iPad's target market segment. It's not designed to be a laptop replacement and I'm not sure I need another gadget about. I might rather have it than a dedicated e-book reader, all the arguments for the superiority of e-ink not withstanding, but I haven't been sold on e-book readers yet, either. So.)
chipotle: (Default)

So with several people making various offers to help with Claw & Quill’s programming, I’m realizing that there’s no way to avoid it—I have to play project manager. And as much as I may wish to find excuses why it isn’t necessary, I really, truly have to finish a (cue ominous organ chord) requirements document.

But it’s on the way. Really.

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chipotle

August 2017

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