In California for the Week

Yesterday I flew to California for some Mozilla employee meetings. I’m spending this weekend in Berkeley with my friends Chris and Bianca. I got really sick on the way here (I don’t know why, flying doesn’t make me sick) and spent an hour throwing up last night, but within two hours Chris had nursed me back to health with miso soup and ginger tea. Thanks Chris!

This morning it was raining when I woke up, and I spent a really pleasant hour catching up on email and listening to the rain on the roof. As if it was on cue, the sun peeked out on the last few lines of my last email, and I went outside and walked all over Berkeley (downtown and through the campus). A girl asked me for directions around the Berkeley campus because she thought I was a student, and she turned out to live maybe 15 blocks away from me in Minneapolis! Crazy crazy.

During the week I’ll be in Mountain View hanging out at Mozilla. I plan to host a discussion about attracting coders to the Mozilla community, work on Universal Binary release issues with Paul Reed, and probably bang on Cocoa widgets with Stuart Parmenter.

On Friday March 31st at 12 noon PST I’ll be co-hosting a radio show at Stanford with my friend Matt Rubin. You can listen live by clicking here. The show is going to be a tribute to Black Flag and the Minutemen, two punk bands from the early 80s. We’re going to see members from both bands play in Hollywood that night. I should get to meet Mike Watt from the Minutemen which will be a dream come true.

Fedora Core 5 Linux

Fedora Core 5 is out! I just got an IBM T43 ThinkPad yesterday, perfect for checking out FC5.

The FC5 installer is significantly better than Fedora Core 4’s. Fewer questions I shouldn’t have to answer, and a better organized and easier to use package selection system. The new installer also just plain looks better. Fedora Core 5 was entirely installed in about half an hour.

Two things needed some tweaking in order to work on my IBM T43 ThinkPad – the screen and the wireless card. The good news is that both problems were easily solved.

The FC5 installer didn’t guess my display type correctly, giving me a maximum resolution of 800×600. This was solved by selecting a different display in the installer, “IBM 9514-B TFT Panel” with a resolution of 1400×1050.

FC5 didn’t recognize my wireless card, which has an Atheros a/b/g chip. This problem was solved by going to MadWifi, downloading 3 RPMs, installing them, and following the excellent instructions at MadWifi. My wireless was up and running in about 15 minutes.

I haven’t done much with FC5 other than set it up, explore the interface, and browse around some websites with Firefox (also, I’m writing this weblog entry on it). So far, I’ve noticed that Gnome has gotten faster (FC5 ships with Gnome 2.14), the interface shows some incremental simplification in a good way, and the software updating application (“Pup”) works great. This latter point is a big deal because prior to FC5 the GUI for getting software updates has been absolutely terrible (it rarely actually made it through a single round of updates). I used to have to use “yum” on the command line to get my updates, but there is no need to do that any more.

One thing FC5 sorely lacks is a nice GUI for dealing with wireless networks. Ubuntu has a really nice one, so I know it can be done on Linux. I had to do all my wireless network stuff on the command line using iwconfig and dhclient.

So far installing/using FC5 has been a good experience. Having a fully-functional Linux system in under an hour is awesome. I’ll write more thoughts about FC5 after I’ve used it for a while.

Note: While installing/using FC5 has been a good experience for me, it wouldn’t be for an inexperienced user. The display wasn’t autodetected, the installer still asks a few unnecessary and very technical questions (though fewer than the FC4 installer did), I had to install RPMs for my wireless card, and I had to set up my wireless networking on the command line. Tisk tisk…

Belle and Sebastian Concert

I went to my second Belle and Sebastian concert tonight! The New Pornographers opened. Both bands were simply amazing. I’ve never even listened to The New Pornographers before, pleasant surprise. I thought the woman who was singing with TNP was Neko Case, but it wasn’t. Ahh ignorance.

Stuart Murdoch of B&S was in top form tonight, dancing around energetically and making lots of funny Scottish banter with the crowd and his bandmates. Sarah (the only female vocalist) didn’t sing too much, which is too bad. I really like her songs. The lighting was really good for B&S, hitting its peak for the song “Another Sunny Day” (sunny yellow lights radiating from the back center).

At the end of this month I’m going to see DOS in Hollywood, CA. Mike Watt from the Minutemen is in DOS, so I’m expecting great things. Then in April I’m going to see Ladytron here in Minneapolis. So much to look forward to!

Updated: It is quite possible that Isobel Campbell sang “Family Tree,” so comment about that removed. Isobel left Belle and Sebastian in 2002, and “Family Tree” was released in 2000. I thought it was the other way around. I can’t find any record of who actually sang the song though!

Minneapolis Music These Days

When I left MN, my favorite local band Morris broke up. That void isn’t quite filled yet, but I have discovered some awesome new local bands that are keeping me running to shows almost every week. My favorites at the moment are the Birthday Suits and Hockey Night. The Birthday Suits have an incredible presence and energy on stage, rocking as hard as any other band out there. They get a lot of people dancing. Hockey Night isn’t quite as energetic, but they have an interesting Southern streak in them and their songs are catchy. They have a guitarist who looks like a young Kurt Cobain, which is pretty great.

On the subject of Morris, I heard rumors that they were going to do a reunion show. However, I ran into one of their guitarists, Jonathan Kennedy, at the Walker art museum the other day and he said they are unfounded. He likes the idea though and said he’d mention it to Andy, their lead singer. Maybe my comment at the art museum will make it happen!

Benjamin Smedberg gets a baby, I get an N64

Congrats to Benjamin Smedberg and his family on their impending new addition!

The newest addition to my own little family is an N64 with two controllers, 7 games, and 2 memory packs that I picked up for $30 on eBay. Totally. Awesome. I have to remember to let my friend Ben beat me at Mario Kart once in a while so he doesn’t cry like Nancy Kerrigan (as Cartman would say). I am thrilled that N64 systems don’t need diaper changing.

Tennis, Ultimate, Skateboarding

Life is going pretty well in MN these days. Winter isn’t too harsh this year, but its not a wussy winter either, just the way I like it. There are enough days in which it is possible to take pleasant walks and get outside, so I don’t feel too cooped up. That said, I’m getting pretty excited for spring so I can get outside even more.

I’ve been playing a lot of tennis lately (I’m sure I’ve mentioned this about 20 times already on this blog). I’m learning really quickly with the help of my instructor Dan, and I am almost ready to start playing regular matches against others at the club I go to. I feel really good after every time I play, I can’t wait for summer when do something active almost every day (tennis, Ultimate frisbee, biking, hiking, running, skateboarding, sailing, the possibilities are endless!!!).

Speaking of Ultimate, I’m super psyched for it this summer. My roommate is an Ultimate player, a bunch of my Ultimate-playing friends live near me, and we all live about 6 blocks away from 2 different really nice parks. A picnic basket, a couple discs, and my friends in Loring Park – this is going to be quite the summer! Turns out Chrissy Lee, one of the best ultimate players from Carleton College who I found out I have a lot of really random connections to lives close by, and I hope to learn a lot from watching her play.

I cracked my elbow skateboarding in high school and didn’t do it for a few years after that. I jumped off a low wall onto the sidewalk, the board slipped out from under me, and I landed on my elbow. This was the day after I had my wisdom teeth pulled out (did the painkillers contribute to my badly executed jump?), and then the day after I cracked my elbow I got strep throat. I was completely immobile for weeks. Anyway, I started skating again a little bit during my senior year in college, and then did a lot more during last summer when I lived in California. Silicon Valley was ideal for skateboarding as it is mostly flat and has lots of concrete things around to play with like overpasses, flower beds, and huge corporate parking lots. Alex Polvi and I had a blast. I’m a little worried that skateboarding in Minneapolis won’t be as easy or fun to do, but I’m going to give it a go. Maybe I can bike to one of the closer suburbs to find fun places to skate, or find a good skate park. Anyway, one more thing I’m excited about doing this summer!