New Machine

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On April 23rd I announced the christening of my new server. At the time, I put the percentage of services that had been ported over at 95. It’s been at least 5 days since I’ve been at 100%, so the new machine is definitely “official”. Everything has been updated to point to the new machine, and all but one thing are running as expected.

The only problem I have is with one VoIP provider. I can’t get any audio to work between us, and the problem is definitely on my end, which is the main reason for not naming the provider. I can still connect reliably to them from my old server, from a different server that I control, and from a softphone as well, so something is broken on my new server in the config for them. That said, all other providers work, including identically configured ones, so it’s not a firewall problem, nor generically a broken Asterisk install. I’m not happy with this, because I can’t think of anything more to test. I’ve written twice to the Asterisk mailing lists, with no useful suggestions left to try. 🙁

I could probably write for hours on the experience of building the new machine. Very few people would maintain interest in that, I’m sure. I also don’t need it for a cathartic release, because I took very copious notes on the whole thing in a Google Notebook.

So, I’ll try to boil the essence down here, with the hope of not losing your interest too quickly. 🙂

The purpose of the change was to upgrade the OS from Red Hat 9 to CentOS 5.0. That worked well. I actually installed CentOS 5.0 Beta first, and then did an upgrade through yum, which worked fine!

My first real disappointment was attempting to build OpenPKG on the new box. The concept sounded really cool to me. The biggest reason for moving from RH9 to CentOS5 was that newer RPMs were harder and harder to find for RH9. OpenPKG held out the promise that one wouldn’t have to worry about this in the future, with the added benefit that you would never accidentally step on the operating system’s packages.

Unfortunately, I ended up wasting a ton of time on it, and it eventually failed to install itself, claiming that gcc couldn’t create executables on the system. Of course it could, as I built quite a number of packages from source… So, great concept, just not right for me at this time…

Had a minor glitch with SELinux (first time I’ve been on a system that was running it). Had to temporarily disable some of the checks to get a package installed and running, but was able to turn it back on afterwards, and haven’t had a problem since.

I have been a very happy user of Courier-IMAP for years, and felt guilty about even considering an alternative (just a loyalty thing). But, I’d read a number of nice things about Dovecot, and it just went official 1.0 a few days before, so I decided to try it. I’m really happy with it. It worked correctly the first time, and configuration was as straightforward as I was led to believe. On the other hand, it wasn’t a quick config, because there are so many things that you can (and sometimes should) set. The single config file (which I like!) is huge, because it’s so well documented, that the choices are relatively simple. You just have to read all those darn docs… 😉

Also installed the latest Postfix 2.4.0. I’ve been really happy with Postfix for years, and had little intention of switching that.

One minor nit about Linux in general. It’s a little annoying that dependencies can get out of whack quite easily. Some system thing depends on openssl-0.9.7 (for example), and you know that 0.9.8e fixes some bugs, and perhaps some new software you’re installing wants that. So, now it needs to go in it’s own directory (’cause you can’t mess with the system one), and then every package has to be told where to find the new one, etc. It all works, but it’s still a PITA.

Installed the latest WordPress (which of course meant MySQL and PHP, etc.). This time, the email config problem that I had on the old machine just disappeared (hooray!). I didn’t config it any differently, so who knows what was wrong before…

Installed the latest Zope (2.10.3, not Zope 3), and had remarkably few problems slurping up my old Data.fs file from a Zope 2.6.x installation. Very cool.

Switched from one webmail client to another, even though I had been happy with the former for years. The latter does more, of which I’m sure I won’t partake of the additional functionality anyway. It works, so that’s all I care about. I rarely use webmail, but when it’s necessary, it’s also ultra convenient (and, as stated, necessary). 😉

One of the bigger odysseys was the installation of a Jabber server. This should probably be its own post, but if it was, I would never condense it, so I’ll do my best not to go on too much here. On the old machine, I was running jabberd-1.4.3 for years. Jabberd2 was just out at the time that I first installed 1.4.3 (they are not the same project). I was able to get jabberd2 to work at the time, but I could not get the AIM and ICQ transports to work, so I reverted to 1.4.3.

The jabberd14 project is still alive and kicking, and I could have saved a lot of headaches if I had stuck with it. But, for a while, I wanted to try ejabberd. It is the official server of jabber.org since February 2007, which seemed impressive to me. 😉

Ejabberd is written in Erlang, and is supposed to scale like crazy (not that I have the slightest need for scale). The concept intrigued me. I’ll spare you all of the insane problems I had getting it to work right. Suffice it to say that it was not my fault, which is rare in these situations. 😉

When I finally got it to work stably, I installed the Python-based AIM and ICQ transports (PyICQ-t and PyAIM-t). The AIM transport worked correctly, and the ICQ one was flaky (solution later on).

Then Rob Page asked me to take a look at Openfire (previously called Wildfire). It sounded cool, and since I was having a problem with the ICQ transport, I figured I’d give it a shot. Man, it installed so easily from RPM, didn’t touch a single file on the system, could be uninstalled trivially, etc. In summary, I liked it instantly. I wasn’t crazy about running a JVM on the system full time, but the load would be negligible, so I decided to switch to it. Of course, while it worked well, and the administration was wonderful, the ICQ plugin was experimental (the AIM one is production), and it behaved like an experimental plugin, which put me where the other one did. There were a few other small annoyances in Openfire as well.

That made me decide to go back and beat my head on the ejabberd server and transports. Long story short, after investigating my setup on the old machine (prompted by Z_God in the Python Transports conference room), I noticed that I didn’t understand how transports speak to the main server. I had them both speaking on the same port (which the sample config file showed!), but on the working server, each transport spoke to the server on its own port! I switched ICQ and AIM to speak to ejabberd on separate ports, and voila, it has been rock solid ever since. I have retired Openfire, and am a very happy ejabberd and python-transports customer! 🙂

That’s pretty much it (at least at a high level). I’m happy with the machine. As usual, more twists and turns than one hopes for, but also more learning experiences than I expected, and interesting ones at that, mostly ending in success. Now if I can only figure out that one SIP provider audio problem, I could get back to some serious poker playing. 😉

April Poker Update

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Since I’m not likely to be playing tonight, I can post my April Poker results now.

I invested (risked) a total of $352 during the month. I played in 24 tournaments. 16 were 1-table Hold’Em tourneys for $11 each, and 8 were multi-table Omaha Hi/Lo tourneys for $22 each. Without attempting to, I ended up spending exactly the same amount on 1-table Hold’Em as I did on multi-table Omaha.

Bottom line was ugly: -$94.80 for the month. Clearly, this month, I am glad I wasn’t doing this for a living. 😉

That said, I actually played well this month, and better than I’ve been in a while. I’ve learned that no one wants to hear about “bad beats” and “bad luck”, and honestly, it doesn’t bug me when it happens to me anywhere near what it used to, so I don’t even have the need to “get it off my chest” like I used to. Suffice it to say that there were a few key plays that made the difference between a plus month and a minus one…

Here is a highlight of the month: The multi-table Omaha games average around 80 players with the top 10 getting prize money. Out of the 8 that I played, I only made the money once. I came 7th, and received $110 for my $22 in that one. That said, I also finished 13th once, and 12th once, so I am getting close frequently enough that it’s not a waste to be playing in these tourneys.

Anyway, once I get started on poker I can write forever, I’ll leave it at that. Last statistic is that I played those 24 tourneys over 11 days, so that’s still 19 days this month where I didn’t play a single second of poker. Gotta retire soon, so I can get my playing time up. 😉

Harry Connick Jr.

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After going on and on about all of the live music we’ve taken in lately, friends of ours surprised us with tickets to see Harry Connick Jr. this past Saturday night at Radio City Music Hall.

Neither Lois and I were particularly familiar with him. We both knew he had an exceptional voice, and we’ve seen him act as well (mostly in Will and Grace on TV). I thought of him as a “crooner”, a modern-day Frank Sinatra.

We were definitely looking forward to the experience, but neither of us was excited from a musical perspective. We were extremely excited about spending the time with our friends, and weren’t disappointed in that regard.

The evening started at the Peking Duck House. ‘Nuff said about that. 🙂

The concert was wonderful. Radio City Music Hall is a fantastic place. We were in nose-bleed territory, but still enjoyed everything. There was an 11-piece “big band” playing with him, and they were amazing. For roughly half the show, two other Jazz stars played with them, Leroy Jones and Lucien Barbarin.

Now for the star. Harry Connick Jr. was great. His voice was as good as expected, but neither of us realized he was such a talented pianist. Moreover, his charm is infectious, and when he talked to the crowd, he was mesmerizing. There were lots of other wonderful touches on the night (including a proposal from one of his trombone players to his girlfriend, now fiancee) 😉 and his daughters dancing on the stage with him during the finale.

Anyway, we’re now officially fans of his, and can’t thank our friends enough!

Christening a new server

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I’ve been quiet lately, not because I had nothing to say, or no time to say it, but I’ve been busy building a new server. I didn’t want to post to the old one, once I got the blogging software running on the new one, with the database correctly migrated over. Since that was an early accomplishment, blogging just had to wait.

Anyway, 95% of my services are now on the new server. That’s the subject of either a very long post, or a number of long posts 😉 but I’ll save that for some other time.

This is just the christening of the server in a public forum, with this short post. 🙂

Networking mystery solved!

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I run my own server for a variety of things, and I’m the SA (SysAdmin). I get a kick out of it, so I don’t find it to be a grind.

One of the things that I run is a Jabber server. On my laptop, I use GAIM to connect to it. I’ve been running it for a long time, and for the most part, I really like GAIM as a client, and Jabber as a service. Unfortunately, if I’m on for my typical 12 hour day, GAIM will lose it’s connection to my server at least 10 times. It reconnects within a few seconds, but every one on my buddy list sees me “flapping” (logging off and then back on).

It has been really annoying, but I never spent even one minute trying to track it down. I assumed that either GAIM was flakey, or the Jabber server I was running was flakey, etc.

For many reasons (most of them more paranoid than sound), I have strongly resisted running IMAP as my main email protocol. As a result, I use POP to retrieve my emails, and back up my files on to external USB disks. For those of you who have read my past posts, you’ll know that I spent an absurd amount of time playing with SPAM filtering over the past 1-2 months.

As a result, I ended up with a rhythm that I like. All suspicious mail gets auto-filtered into IMAP folders (yes, IMAP, because it’s not intended to stay on the server), and all good mail continues to be polled and pulled continuously via POP. Whenever I want to check on my spam, I open up the IMAP folders, scan them quickly, and either dispose of the spam permanently, or drag a good email into my inbox, etc.

When I first started, it worked fine. Then I started doing it for Lois as well (with equally good results). After a week or two, IMAP started hanging relatively frequently. It always worked, but it was way more annoying than the GAIM disconnect/reconnect dance. In the case of IMAP, I was actively clicking on something because I was ready to process it, and the hangs (even if they were only 30 seconds in length) were killing me!

So, I googled a bit, and discovered a likely culprit. Courier-imap (which I have been very happy with forever) has a configuration variable that by default, only permits 4 simultaneous connections from a single IP. Of course, since I was NAT’ed, all of my connections were coming from the same IP. I was proud of myself for finding this, and I upped the variable and restarted Courier-imap. It seemed to work. However, after a few days (and perhaps more folders and clicks), it started to reliably hang again.

I upgraded to the latest Courier-imap with no change. This was too maddening. So, I started watching the /var/log/messages file. When I was hanging, I was seeing a number of IPTABLES log messages being spewed. It turns out that packets from my laptop were being dropped (rejected!). Huh? My firewall is supposed to let me in, not keep me out!

So, the specific packets were dropped for being in the state “NewNotSyn” (you can google it yourself if you care) 😉

After some serious googling, it turns out that this is a known problem in two frequent configurations:

  1. Two firewalls in between the client and application (this is true for me)
  2. Microsoft Networking being the client, with Linux being the server (oops, that’s me too).

So, after changing my firewall config a bit, IMAP never hangs any longer (yeah, that’s right, never). As a bonus, in three days since I’ve made the change, GAIM has only flapped once (perhaps twice). GAIM still seems overly sensitive to any network hiccup, but it’s clear that the dropped packets were killing GAIM, whereas Thunderbird’s IMAP implementation kept trying relentlessly, and eventually always reconnected…

Whew. If I hadn’t started mucking with spam filters, then I wouldn’t have started using IMAP, then I wouldn’t have started hanging on IMAP, then I wouldn’t have discovered the dropped packets, and I wouldn’t have solved my long-standing, long-suffering GAIM problem.

Another happy ending. 🙂

The Allman Brothers Band

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OK, so last night was the night. My friend and I went to see the Allman Brothers Band (ABB) at the Beacon Theater. Previously, the only other time I was at the Beacon was for Dave Koz on Valentine’s Day. That show was awesome, but the acoustics were horrible. I suspected it was the sound guy, doing a terrible job at the sound board, and not the theater.

I was right 🙂

The acoustics for ABB were fantastic. As I described it to Lois (for those you of you read this post, you’ll recall that Lois went with my friend’s wife to see a different show last night), with the music wailing, one of the three drummers pulled out a tambourine, and when he tapped it (that’s right, not beat the hell out of it), you could hear the tiny symbols crystal clearly. We were sitting in the last row in the orchestra. Wow.

So, I truly enjoyed the show, and wasn’t disappointed at all. That said, two things to note on the negative side, even though they were minor in comparison with my overall enjoyment:

  1. We had to stand for nearly 90% of the show. When everyone else stands, you stand, or you may as well be home listening to your CD’s. It’s not that I get tired (I’m in pretty good shape), but I just prefer to enjoy the show while seated. Oh well, the energy level was good enough to carry me through (on stage, and in the crowd as well!).
  2. By any measure, ABB is noted primarily for the dueling lead guitars. The two guys currently fulfilling that role are no slouches (Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks), in fact, they are obviously talented. That said, they aren’t even remotely close to Duane Allman (deceased in 1971) and Dickie Betts (still playing, but no longer with ABB). I never saw Duane play, but I have seen Dickey live. Live at the Filmore East is one of my favorite albums, so I also know how Duane played.

They opened with a famous song, and I realized the difference in the guitarists right away. But, song number 2 was Statesboro Blues (one of their best), and in that one, the difference was stunning. Still, the song was fantastic, and their riffs outstanding, just not perfect. 😉

Aside from the guitars, the other thing that I always credit ABB with is a driving percussion section. They are one of the few bands with 3 full-time drummers. They are awesome, and I found myself concentrating on them a lot during the evening. They also had 2 guest drummers sit in on a few songs. On one of them, it was 4 drummers playing alone on stage, and it was mesmerizing!

Finally, the base player (Oteil Burbridge) was amazing.

All-in-all, a really fun night, that will be long remembered.

March Poker Update

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Those of you who know me, know that I’ve had a 2.5 year obsession with online poker. Lately, it has fizzled a bit (OK, more than a bit). Not for lack of interest, but for lack of time, and other obsessions not letting go.

Last night and today, I finally played a bit. That prompted me to look at my online stats for March, since the site keeps only 30 days of history easily accessible.

So, I didn’t play at all the first 16 days of March. From September 2004 – September 2005, I think I missed one day without playing at least one game (just to put this 16 day non-playing stretch into perspective!).

I played one tournament on March 17th. One on March 24th. One on March 25th. Last night (the 30th) I played in 4 tourneys, and today I played in 5. That makes a total of 12 in all of March. I’ve had days where I’ve played in more than 12 tourneys. 😉

Anyway, on the 17th, 24th and 25th, I was 0 for 3. Last night, I had a first and a third out of the 4 tourneys I played in. Today, a win and a second out of the 5 that I played in. Unfortunately, I played in two multi-table tourneys (last night and today) that were a tad more expensive than the ones I won, so I made money, but gave more back than the percentages would indicate.

Here’s the bottom line: I risked a grand total of $135.10 (about $11 on average for each tourney), and netted a +$17.12 for the month! Woo hoo. 🙂

So, I’m thinking, if I give up my day job, perhaps I can pay the rent with my stellar poker playing skills. 😉

Rediscovering Live Music

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Sorry folks, this is likely gonna be another long one. It’s 5:30pm on a Sunday, and I’m relaxing in the hotel down near Zope, and this is what I feel like doing at the moment…

From my mid-teens until my early twenties, I was a fanatic for going to live concerts. I went to a variety of shows, but by far it was mostly rock or folk. Among my favorites back then were Dylan, David Bromberg, The Greatful Dead, The Allman Brothers, Santana, etc.

The greatest concert I ever attended was a 12 hour affair. My friends and I drove from NYC to Washington, D.C. for a concert at RFK Stadium. I was 16, and only had a learner’s permit (this will become important later in the story). 😉 At noon, the warm-up group came on, The New Riders of the Purple Sage. They played for 2 hours, and were excellent. At 2pm, The Greatful Dead came on, and played for 5 hours. At 7pm, The Allman Brothers Band came on, and played for another 5 hours.

Both the Dead and the Allman Brothers were awesome. Hard to pick between them that day, but perhaps (just perhaps), the Brothers outdid them a bit. Of course, since they got to go last, it could simply have been that their stuff was still ringing in our ears all the way home. 🙂

Anyway, when we left (hitting the parking lot at 12:30am), the driver (the only female in our group) was too tired to drive at all. So were the other two. I felt fine, but wasn’t legally allowed to drive at night, without an adult, and oh yeah, I had never driven on a highway either! 😉

Suffice it to say, it was quite an experience for me, and a drive that normally takes 4+ hours took a little more than 3.

I can still remember my last live concert (of that era) like it was yesterday. I got two tickets to see David Bromberg at Town Hall. First row in the Balcony. I was incredibly excited. I had seen Bromberg live 5 times before, and each one was better than the one before. He’s a magical live performer who really connects with the audience.

Much to my surprise (and chagrin), the audience was mostly teeny boppers. I was all of (perhaps) 23, so I was truly mature… It seemed to me that I was the only person in the audience who had ever heard of Bromberg, and came to actually see him specifically. The rest seemed to be out for the evening, hanging with their friends. They never stopped talking (loudly) even for a second. At least twice, Bromberg stopped playing in the middle of a song (I had never seen something like that ever before) and practically begged the audience to be quiet. They didn’t comply… 🙁

I decided that night to stop going to see live music…

That pretty much held true until nearly 15 years later. The Greatful Dead were playing Madison Square Garden, and I was able to get two tickets in the fifth row center as part of a charity thing. I wanted to do it both because I was crazy about the Dead, and because I wanted to share this kind of experience with Lois, who had never seen a band like the Dead play live.

We were grossly disappointed. Everyone stood the entire evening, and Lois could barely see the stage even standing on her seat (and we were 5 rows back!). The selection of music was a little strange as well, and they played the shortest concert I’ve ever seen them do, in the 5 times I’ve seen them live. Oh well, my admonition not to go to live concerts seemed safely back on…

I think the only exception to that rule was an evening at a Jazz Club in NYC (Birdland) to see Stanley Jordan. If you don’t know him, he plays an amazing style of guitar whereby he taps on the strings on the frets, rather than ever picking or strumming. He creates quite unique sounds, and is a fantastic performer. I enjoyed the evening. That night was more about an evening out with friends, including dinner, rather than the concert being a real destination.

Then it all changed (albeit a little more slowly to begin with) 😉

On January 17th, 2003, our godson (who was a junior at Duke at the time) came for a long weekend with some of his friends from school. Lois is a master planner and goes out of her way to try and pack as many interesting things to do whenever people come to visit. Our godson played the trumpet in the Duke marching band so Lois looked around to see if any famous trumpet players were in town. Indeed, Arturo Sandoval was playing at the Blue Note.

I think there were 7 of us there for the show, and we had dinner beforehand, and totally enjoyed the show. As much as I love jazz (and I really do!), Arturo’s style isn’t necessarily my favorite, but seeing him perform live was still a wonderful experience. In December 2003, our godson returned with a nearly identical set of friends for an encore (I think there was one swap in the group). We went back to the Blue Note, and saw Jane Monheit. Wow, can this lady sing. I got in trouble on this trip because we got to the club a little later than usual, and had the worst seats in the house (which aren’t that bad!), but Lois still hasn’t forgiven me, over three years later…

From that point on, we went occasionally to the Blue Note, either by ourselves, or when someone was visiting from out of town, and once even went with local friends (if you can believe that). 🙂 Among the people we saw there (I can’t remember them all) were Bob James (writer of the theme song from the TV show Taxi), Maynard Ferguson (twice, unfortunately now deceased), Acoustic Alchemy (probably my favorite jazz group!), Chuck Mangione (was my favorite for a long time, and is still amazing live) and probably another one or two.

This was over a period of three years, which is why I said above that it built slowly at first. Last September, it hit a fevered pitch, as we broadened our venues beyond the Blue Note. I started actively searching for tour dates for some of my favorite groups, and immediately found out that David Bromberg was playing at BB King Blues Club. We had never been there. The show was awesome, and included an hour of a group called Angel Band (which is three women who sing harmonies like angels, including David’s wife Nancy Josephson).

Since then, we’ve been to BB King’s many times. We’ve seen a wide variety of shows there, including the following groups: Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby (who tour and record together now, which we didn’t know in advance. They were awesome.), Shawn Colvin, Paul Thorn (he opened for Ricky and Bruce, and was a delightful surprise), Quicksilver Messenger Service (they were boring), Jefferson Starship (used to be a favorite, but they’re over the hill, were awful, and we left early!), The Commitments (from the movie of the same name), Yama Bandit (unannounced opening group for The Commitments), Sunday Gospel Brunch (tons of fun!), perhaps one or two others…

We also discovered a fantastic small club in NYC called Joe’s Pub. The first group we saw there is one of my recent favorites, The Duhks. Then we saw Master McCarthy and Fools for April with our godchildren. Finally, we saw David Bromberg solo there. A great treat!

We saw Dave Koz at the Beacon Theater on Valentine’s Day. It was an amazing show, even though the acoustics were horrible! He had two special guests that played most of the evening with him and his band. David Benoit and Jonathan Butler. David Benoit is one of the great jazz pianists. Lois is now one of his biggest fans. I had never heard of Jonathan Butler before. He’s a South African singer and guitarist. He blew me away. Anita Baker was supposed to be a special guest, but she got snowed in and couldn’t make it. Koz got his buddy Be Be Winans to step in at the last minute. Be Be sings “The Dance” on the Koz album of the same name, and is one of our favorites. It was a special treat to see him sing that song live!

Last week we saw Chris Thile and his new band The Tensions Mountain Boys at Zankel Hall, which is part of Carnegie Hall. Chris is considered by some to be the world’s greatest mandolin player. We used to think his last name was pronounced “teal”, but it turns out it’s “theely”, who knew. After recording a few albums on his own, he was the lead person in Nickel Creek (one of my favorite groups), before forming this group. Zankel Hall is under ground at Carnegie Hall, and perhaps the best acoustical venue we’ve ever been in.

That pretty much catches you up on what we’ve done. We have two more shows coming up in the next month. On April 3rd, we were supposed to see The Allman Brothers Band together at the Beacon Theater. Two weeks ago, we were having dinner with two of our favorite people, and we realized that the guy was a big Allman Brothers fan. Lois isn’t (simply because she hasn’t listened to them much, not because she actively dislikes them), and we offered up her ticket to him. Instead, Lois and his wife are now scheduled to see Abigal Washburn and Bethany Yarrow + Rufus Cappadocia at Joe’s Pub. We found out about Abigail Washburn when we were seeing Yama Bandit at BB King, and the person next to us (who was friends with the Yama Bandit band) told us how great Abigail is.

Finally, friends of ours who got dizzy when we recounted the above to them over sushi, surprised us a few weeks back and told us that they bought four tickets to see Harry Connick Jr. at Radio City Music Hall on April 21st (inspired by us). We’re looking forward to that show as well. 🙂

Whew! Done at 8:10pm…

XM Radio

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Two years ago, very good friends of ours bought me an amazing present, a Roady 2 XM Radio player, along with a monthly subscription. I had thought about getting one before they got it for me. It’s a relatively obvious thing for people who spend as much time in the car as we do. I didn’t get it because I didn’t research it enough to realize that you could install it yourself in under 3 minutes! I assumed it would require professional installation…

Anyway, we’ve been enjoying it mightily ever since (as I said above, for 2 years). About a year ago, I was curious to check out the accompanying service on the Net to listen live to the same stations. I never got around to doing it for a number of reasons, most notably because I never bothered to ask my friends for the login information to manage the account.

This past weekend, we were visiting them, and I got the info, and have successfully set up my account to listen live online. Wow! It’s simply too cool! In addition to being able to listen to an amazing variety of music all day long (which is what I’ve been doing while working here at Zope all day today), you can see what’s playing live on all the stations at once through the web. That means that even if I’m enjoying a song, if I notice that another station is playing a favorite of mine, or an artist I’ve always wanted to check out, with a single click, I’m there, listening to it.

They stream at 32kpbs, so it doesn’t soak up any bandwidth whatsoever (if you’re on a broadband connection, and if you’re not, stop reading my posts!) 😉

The only (incredibly minor) disappointment is that they don’t have all of the stations available online. One example is the main Country station (#11). No biggie, but worth mentioning.

Anyway, my only regret is not having enabled this last year…

P.S. Did I mention that this is a free service if you are an existing subscriber with a real XM Radio receiver? That makes it even cooler. Of course, if you don’t have an XM Radio, you might find this worth subscribing to as your primary Net Radio service 🙂

Shavers and Brand Names

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I hate to shave. I’m sure there are a few guys who don’t mind it, or even like it, but not me.

That said, while I don’t mind having stubble, I don’t feel like growing a beard nor a moustache (and I’m not sure Lois would allow me to either). Further, if I go 4+ days without shaving, then shaving is painful and annoying, making it slightly less painful to shave every few days…

So, when we’re at Zope, I shave every other day, and when we’re home, I shave every 3rd or 4th day (and suffer on the 4th ones…).

Most of my life, I’ve been a shaver guy, not a razor guy. I have used a razor plenty of times, but in general, prefer a shaver.

Now to the point of this post 😉

For decades I have been a true blue Norelco shaver user. I have loved them, and considered all other shavers wannabes. I felt so strongly about my favorite brand that when I needed a new shaver, if I couldn’t find a Norelco, I would wait and use a razor in the meantime (see above) 😉

I had tried a Braun a while ago, only because the commercials had a certain mystique. I was wildly disappointed. I also tried a few others over the years (most of them too many years ago to really count…).

I have the problem of having a number of places where I regularly shave: house, apartment, hotel. I prefer to have a shaver in my house and apartment, and a third one in my bag packed at all times for the hotel.

A year ago, my travel shaver was starting to go. I went to Walmart where they carry Norelcos, but they were out. I suffered my less-than-optimal travel shaver for another few trips, each time checking the local Walmart. After a number of failed attempts, I very reluctantly bought a new Remington shaver.

All I can say is wow! It has consistently outperformed my other Norelcos by far. If I wasn’t such a cheapskate, I’d replace the two Norelcos that are in the house and apartment with new Remingtons (but, alas, I truly am a cheapskate, and those shavers still work well enough).

So much for brand loyalty… No, wait, I’m still loyal to a brand, it just happens to be a new one: Remington! 🙂