St Severin Cafe

This is the cafe in St. Michel that I went to last night because I found that there was a nearby wireless internet access.
I managed to do a live video feed from my laptop and camera, which was quite cool.

Net Withdrawl

I’m making this post from my friends’ apartment in Paris – painfully pecking out the letters on a French keyboard, which is more different to me than a Japanese keyboard.
I’m only able to get to the net using Laurent’s old pc, an old P166 that is going through a personal crisis so bad that I had to set the SHELL: to “progman”. (You may remember Progman from Windows 3.11)
We just got back from the South of France this morning, where I couldn’t get online at all, so this is a big improvement, I guess…
Ah! I just found Mac drivers for this weird USB DSL Modem! Let me go download them and get online with the iBook…

Eleanor Roosevelt as a blogger?

I called my mom late last night (mid-day for her) to tell her about my new job and tried to explain the whole weblogging phenomenon. Now my mother has no interest in computers and very rarely looks at the web, but this time, she let me explain what it is that I do, without getting that “you’re talking computers, I’m no longer listening” tone in her voice. ;-)
When I started to explain how I just write about whatever happens to me, or whatever I happen to be thinking or feeling, she said, “Oh, just like My Day.” I was confused. Had my mother taken up blogging when I wasn’t looking?
“Like your day? I don’t understand. What did you do today?”
“No… My Day, You must remember, Eleanor Roosevelt’s column.”
“I’ve never heard of it, mom…” I said as I started googling (ElenorElanor. Google: “Did you mean: Eleanor?”)
“All through her adult life, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote a syndicated column called “My Day”. Everybody read it. ”
I was intrigued – I really don’t know much about Eleanor except for the stories my mother told about meeting her and the rumors about her sexuality.
The more I searched, the more interested I got. Take, for example, this blog entry column that she wrote in 1939, announcing her resignation from the “Daughters of the American Revolution” when they refused to let Marian Anderson sing at the DAR Hall, because of the color of her skin:

WASHINGTON, FEBRUARY 27, 1939 – I am having a peaceful day. I drove my car a short distance out of the city this morning to pilot some friends of mine who are starting off for a vacation in Florida. I think this will be my only excursion out of the White House today, for I have plenty of work to do on an accumulation of mail, and I hope to get through in time to enjoy an evening of uninterrupted reading. I have been debating in my mind for some time, a question which I have had to debate with myself once or twice before in my life. Usually I have decided differently from the way in which I am deciding now. The question is, if you belong to an organization and disapprove of an action which is typical of a policy, should you resign or is it better to work for a changed point of view within the organization? In the past, when I was able to work actively in any organization to which I belonged, I have usually stayed until I had at least made a fight and had been defeated.
Even then, I have, as a rule, accepted my defeat and decided I was wrong or, perhaps, a little too far ahead of the thinking for the majority at that time. I have often found that the thing in which I was interested was done some years later. But in this case, I belong to an organization in which I can do no active work. They have taken an action which has been widely talked of in the press. To remain as a member implies approval of that action, and therefore I am resigning.

You can recognize the candid tone of a weblogger, the openness and sincerity that typifies the best of our current writers. In these columns, she wrote about her day, her thoughts, her trivia as well as issues that affected all of the people of her time.
I like to think that it was this candor, this openness that made her the most popular first lady. Popular, in the sense of being of the people – not the movie star idolization that the world had for Jacqueline Kennedy, who was much more a private person, but as someone that the people could understand and feel for.
My mother described the first time she saw E.R. in person, when, as a teenager, she went to wait in front of a hotel to try and catch a glimpse of the first lady before a speech she was giving. While the bulk of the people waited at the front entrance of the hotel, my mother went to the old entrance, which was now more of the back. After a while, a little black convertible drove up with 3 women inside, Eleanor at the wheel. It’s hard to imagine now a first lady in an open car, let alone driving, with no Secret Service escort, during wartime… This was someone who was unafraid of the world.
It occurred to me that perhaps Eleanor’s writing may have been ghost-written, or perhaps propoganda, but upon reading a few posts columns, such a thing is impossible to imagine. Still, one has to wonder how the president felt about having their daily life discussed with the people of his country; he was, after all the president. There must have been issues of national security discussed in their home and no Ari Fleischer to backpedal and excuse and put a spin on every word. No, it seems that they relied on simple honesty and decency to keep them out of trouble. In a Look magazine article after her husband’s death, she had this to say about her writing:

Never in all the years can I remember his asking me not to say or to write anything, even though we occasionally argued very vehemently and sometimes held diametrically opposite points of view on things of the moment.

I think my husband probably often used me as a sounding board, knowing that my reactions would be the reactions of the average man and woman in the street.

So I wonder if it might have been “My Day” that made her such a popular and effective leader. Was this conversation with the people so powerful as to make her voice heard? (She never had the beauty of a Jacqueline Kennedy to enchant the people, in fact, as a child, her own mother told her she was ugly.)
When she was 14, she wrote:

“It may seem strange, but no matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and loyalty are stamped upon her face, all will be attracted to her and she will do good to all who come near her and those who know her will always love her for they will feel her loyal spirit and have confidence in her while another woman far more beautiful and attractive will never gain anybody’s confidence, simply because those around her feel lack of loyalty.”

PBS has a few of her columns Online. If you’d like to read even more, De Capo Press has published a book, that I hope to pick up soon.

So much going on

What a week…
If you know me, you probably know that I left Global Dining this week. I left on pretty good terms and with a lot of friends there. I’ve told them to just call if they need anything, since I was really the only Linux guy there and I’d hate to see them replace the Linux servers with Windows…
So anyway, I got a new position on Friday. I’m not sure how much I can say about it, since much of it seems clouded in secrecy, but I can say that I’ll be working with some really great people doing some intensely cool stuff. (Cool stuff for a geek like me, anyway. ) I’ll post more, of course, when I know that I can.
Tomorrow, Yuka and I are heading to France for a quick vacation before I start my new position. First we’ll be in Paris for a few days, then down to Nimes in the south for a bit, then back up to Paris to meet some friends. (Calendar.
I’m not sure how much email access I’ll have there, but hopefully, I can pop on and update my site here and there…
Hopefully I’ll be able to take lots of pictures – I even bought a new lens for the trip, a Nikkor AF-S 28-70 1:2.8. It’s a great lens, but big and heavy and everyone is warning me about the thieves who snatch cameras over there. We’ll see. Still, I’m a bit nervous as a google search on “Paris Thieves” turned up some real horror stories.


Today I made lunch for Laurent, Mie-san and Yuka – Laurent works in the same building as Yuka and I recently built him a Linux server for his office.
I made a caesar salad and home-made pasta. I was really happy with the noodles – I’ve discovered that to make really tender pasta noodles, be in a huge hurry and pound the hell out of the dough to get it to behave…
Laurent brought a nice wine and Mie-san brought these beautiful little orange flowers:

Bayview Perl Training

I had a nice chat today with Bill and Holly Ward from Bill’s been giving PERL training classes and have just started a translation service for translating software and documentation to and from Japanese, so I thought I’d give them a plug. Though he’s a PERL guru, he has none of the arrogance and impatience that you often associate with such people. For years, he’s answered my stupid unix questions (Me: “If you ‘rm -Rf’ something, how do you get it back?” Bill: “Easy – restore from tape…” ) and helped me with the occasional PERL problem.
I also encouraged him to set up a blog, though he’s a bit hesitant. Personally, I hope he does, because blogs are so easy to add pictures to and he’s an excellent photographer.
Bill, check out Movable Type – after all, it’s written in perl!

Living in the future is neat

holiday-main.jpgJoshua Ellis made a comment on Joi Ito’s blog:

My God, Joi, this is incredible. I’m sitting in my living room in Las Vegas as the sun comes up, watching you playing with your Mac in (apparently) bed, wearing a CRYPTORIGHT t-shirt.

Living in the future is neat, as my friend Frank says.

(Joi had set up a streaming video server that took a live feed from his laptop and rebroadcast it to whoever wanted to see.)

It *is* neat.
I had the same feeling as Joshua, so I decided to set one up for myself. I downloaded Quicktime Broadcaster to my laptop and Darwin Streaming Server to this server and just a very little bit of poking around, I was sending streams to Victor in the Canary Islands, Boris in Canada and a couple others from parts unknown.
All of this with consumer-grade equipment and a $30/month internet connection.
Simply amazing.


Just messing around with my 20mm 1:2.8 lens before taking it to the shop for a cleaning…
These are photos of junk on my desk at home – a tin robot and a little sculpture I made a couple of years ago in a pottery class I took.