Our favorite IRS Halloween agent

Tonight was almost certainly the last time Jeff will go trick-or-treating in this neighborhood for a long time (but eventually, he may be like the kid who used to live across the street, who was out with his children tonight!). He decided to go as an IRS agent and tell people that they owed the government $20,000 when they answered the door.

I don’t think he got any money, but he did fill a briefcase with candy.

Gutsy Ghastliness

I brought home my old Thinkpad T41p from work for a few days; I had wiped out its disk in preparation for giving it to someone else, and so I had to install a new OS. My first plan was just to install Windows XP, but I didn’t have an OEM disk nearby, so I couldn’t use the license key which came with the machine.

So I decided to go the Ubuntu route. I had a 7.04 CD on hand, which installed with no problems, and then I upgraded to 7.10. That was all in the office, connected to a wired Ethernet.

But I wanted to be able to use the machine on my wireless LAN at home (and elsewhere). Using Network Manager and typing in my preshared WPA key didn’t work. And I tried it many, many times.

Eventually, I found wieman01’s OWTO: Wireless Security – WPA1, WPA2, LEAP, etc., which worked wonderfully well — I am up and running on my wireless right now.

I don’t know how easy it’ll be to set things up to connect to an old WEP network, which was my real goal in bringing this beast home for a few days, but I’m sure it can be done.

I do wish I knew why Network Manager didn’t do the job, though. Suggestions welcome.

That was…interesting

Last night, I wanted to write a posting titled “Break in Line: Internet Cut Off”, but I was too busy talking with my ISP trying to get the situation fixed — and blogging on the iPhone is a pain, anyway. I was too busy at work today to post, and by the time I got home, we had service again…the trouble ticket said that there was a problem on the local loop about half-way between here and the central office, so I guess someone fixed it.

This evening, I was minding my own business when I thought I heard the garage door open. But the noise continued. And then things started to shake. And kept shaking.

It felt like a long time, but it was probably only about 20 seconds before things calmed down. I turned on the radio went to KCBS to listen, and soon learned that the quake was a 5.6 on the east side of San Jose, maybe 20 km away.

According to the USGS, there have been a number of aftershocks, but I haven’t felt any. And I’ll be perfectly happy if it stays that way.

Leopard for me

I visited the Apple Store on Saturday, thinking I might come away with a new iMac. But I couldn’t quite convince myself that I needed it.

So yesterday, I went back and bought Leopard, thereby using up almost all of my iPhone rebate (for some reason, the sales guy only applied $99.99 of the $100 to the transaction, and my receipt says clearly that I have one cent left). I took it home and installed it on the two-year-old mini.

There were no fireworks.

I did run into a couple of small glitches, though:

  • Quicksilver now shows up in the dock; there is rumored to be an update which solves that, but the official site is down, and I’m not willing to load an unofficial copy yet.
  • My userid fell out of sudoers, so I had to log in to my admin account and put it back.
  • I had to change my path to pick up the new system versions of Ruby and Python instead of the ones I’d installed into /usr/local/bin in the pre-Leopard days. I should uninstall those versions, too, but I haven’t had a chance to see exactly what’s been superceded.

I also found it necessary to put the Dock back to 2D view; the reflective shelf effect is cute for a few minutes. And I really don’t like Stacks.

But otherwise, it was pretty painless. And I haven’t noticed any loss of performance.

I still might want that new iMac, but the Leopard upgrade isn’t the excuse that I need to justify it.

No Leopard for me!

I had it all figured out. We were going to meet some friends for dinner in downtown Los Gatos this evening at 7pm — that would give me enough time to pick up Leopard beforehand.

So we left home just before 6, expecting to be parked by 6:05. But the traffic on North Santa Cruz was horrible, and going over to University didn’t improve matters. Finally, I detoured to the secret parking lot between Santa Cruz and University on the north side of Hwy 9, several blocks from the restaurant, let alone the Apple Store.

But that was OK; I could easily carry the Leopard box around. For that matter, it’d be easy enough to carry a new Mac mini.

But first we had to get to the store. And even the sidewalks were rather crowded. With dogs. In costumes. And their owners. And people giving the dogs treats.

Yes, it was Howlin’ Halloween in Los Gatos.

We pressed on. And as we crossed Bachman, I noticed something else odd — the stores and restaurants were dark, including the place we had reservations. And they stayed dark all the way up Santa Cruz, past the Apple Store. Most of the stores were closed, but not the Apple Store — they had a long line of people waiting, and every few seconds, someone would leave the store with a bag and a smile.

Since part of my hidden agenda for the evening involved having Diane try out an iMac, I decided to skip the store (somehow, much of the system’s charm would be lost if it was powered down) and accompanied Diane and Jeff to Borders in Old Town, which was brightly lit.

I tried calling the restaurant, but they didn’t answer their phone. So I called our friends, and we decided to try somewhere else, Di Ciccio’s in San Jose. As we left the bookstore, I saw that the lights were on again on Santa Cruz — I called the restaurant we’d planned to eat at and cancelled our reservation. They said, “but the power is back on”, but it was too late.

I hadn’t been to Di Ciccio’s in more than 15 years — not for any particular reason, but then again, there was no good reason to go there, either. The ownership had changed in the last couple of years, and I’d definitely be more eager to go back now. The food was quite tasty, even if the portions were too large; I’d rather have had a bit less food and saved a couple of bucks. We had a Clos la Chance 2005 Pinot Noir, which was very enjoyable, and which was priced quite fairly ($32, versus $30 at the winery or $25 from K&L).

And then we came home. I thought about going back downtown and getting my copy of Leopard, but on further reflection, a walk with Diane seemed like a better idea. And that’s what we did.

(Of course, I haven’t given up completely on Leopard — I’m making a backup of my existing disk so I’ll be ready for the upgrade. Tomorrow. Or Sunday. As John Gruber points out, “no one ever got hurt by waiting a week or two to install a new OS.” But where’s the fun in that?)