I'm a big fan of buckling spring keyboards. A buckling spring design provides much greater certainty with key actuation than a rubber dome system, plus tactile and auditory feedback each time you press a key. Buckling spring keyboards are a joy to use and last a long time. Having had several new Unicomp buckling spring keyboards over the years, I decided to upgrade to an authentic, vintage IBM Model M, which the Unicomp design is based on. Today I took the opportunity to pick up not one, but two "new in sealed retail box" IBM Model M keyboards from a fellow keyboard enthusiast. It's a lot to spend on keyboards, but I'm a mega-nerd, so whatever. For slightly less rabid keyboard fans, there are professionally restored Model M keyboards available from several great sources online, such as Clicky Keyboards. By the way, the Model M was "Made in USA" at IBM's Lexington, Kentucky plant in the 1980s.
I finally had enough of waiting for a new Mac Pro. I'm going to get an awesome workstation from my friends at King Star Computer running Windows 10 Pro and Linux. Unfortunately, this means an end to my use of the Mac ecosystem at work, which I have mixed feelings about. On the other hand, I will finally be free of the hardware limitations that Apple imposes, and I can get exactly what I want instead of hoping Apple does certain things with its hardware lineup. In this case, it will be a 12-core Xeon processor, dual Nvidia Titan X graphics cards, and a Dell 8K display. I will be a lot more productive with a faster, better, visually stunning setup than my current very basic iMac. Of course, the price tag is going to be outrageous, but I spend a ton of time on my work computer, so it's justified. At least, that's what I tell myself :)
I recently had the opportunity to get a QNAP NAS. Let me just say: I am blown away by the features and fine-grained control over the various settings. This is so much better than the WD MyCloud that I used to have that it's not even funny. Also, the NAS enclosure was truly a steal at $160. Highly recommended.
I have been dying for a new Mac Pro for about a year and a half. Seriously, going a little crazy here. I even wrote a letter to Apple explaining why I want a new Mac Pro-- it's so I can use two of the new LG UltraFine 5K displays for the ultimate workstation. Apple wrote me a letter back with a vague statement about not commenting on future products. Then Tim Cook commented online about there being "great desktops" in the future for Apple. What does it all mean? I have no idea, but I am tired of waiting. The Mac Pro is still for sale on Apple's website, but it isn't competitive with the best Windows workstations available now, and it can't run Apple's own 5K displays that they developed with LG. In other words, it's obsolete. It's also the same price as when it first launched, which makes absolutely no sense. I hold out hope that they retain the Mac Pro because an upgrade is imminent. But it could be false hope. This article covers the rumors.
I have done a lot of music projects lately. I'm actually writing a 21-minute epic called Future Warrior as a tribute to Rush's "2112" and my favorite book, The Forever War. The book is the story of William Mandella and Marygay Potter. The book is based on a brilliant, disorienting premise: that shooting a space ship into a black hole at nearly the speed of light causes the ship to pop out of a different black hole elsewhere in the universe. The result of that is forward time travel (time dilation) due to relativistic effects, which causes the soldiers to arrive in the future decades or centuries after they left. In any case, William and Marygay get conscripted together and fight in an interstellar war against the Taurans, a hostile alien race. The lyrics will tell the story of how William and Marygay meet, fall in love, fight in several campaigns, and end up separating due to the military's requirements and the effects of time dilation. In the finale, they are reunited. This is a song about love, just like the book.
Here are the seven parts of the song:
It is the year 1997. Through the discovery of "collapsars" (black holes) and sophisticated math that permits interstellar travel using black holes, humanity has started to colonize the stars. Unfortunately, several colony ships are lost under suspicious circumstances. A probe limps back to Earth and tells the United Nations that the Taurans, a hostile alien race from the constellation Taurus, attacked one of the ships.
II. Elite Conscription Act
The UN forms UNEF-- United Nations Expeditionary Force-- to attack the Taurans back. Men and women with IQs of 150 and above who are highly educated, healthy, and fit are drafted for military service in UNEF. William Mandella, a physicist, is one such recruit. Training is grueling-- first on Earth, and later on Charon (Pluto's moon). Several of the recruits are killed during training. William meets another recruit, Marygay Potter, and they start dating.
III. Epsilon Aurigae
The long trip to Epsilon Aurigae passes with lots of shipboard games, sex, and boredom. Mandella and Potter find themselves drawing closer. UNEF's first encounter with the Taurans occurs on a planet orbiting Epsilon Aurigae. The force attacks a Tauran base that appears to be full of pacifists, because the Taurans don't fight back. Through the use of post-hypnotic suggestion, the force massacres the Taurans, shredding them all to bloody pieces. Mandella and Potter feel guilt and shame, which they share with each other.
IV. You Can Never Go Back
Due to time dilation, the Epsilon Aurigae campaign only lasts two subjective years for the soldiers, but decades have passed on Earth. When they return to Earth, the soldiers learn that the Taurans have been employing increasingly advanced weaponry in the war based on what they learned in the Epsilon Aurigae encounter. Meanwhile, Earth has gone to shit. There is massive unemployment, hunger, and poverty. Mandella and Potter, with decades of military pay, are rich. They go on leave and visit London, New York, and Potter's parents. Eventually, they get tired of the new Earth and re-enlist in UNEF to escape.
V. Negative Feedback Kinesthesia
On the next campaign, Mandella and Potter are both injured and assigned to Heaven, a hospital facility. They recover and enjoy the time together. However, after they are healed, they get separated and have different assignments, which means they will probably never see each other again. Mandella, newly promoted to Major, goes through a virtual reality crash course to train him for what is expected to be his final campaign. At this point, Mandella is objectively the oldest soldier in UNEF, having been drafted over 450 years earlier. He takes command of his new strike force and finds that much has changed in the hundreds of years he has been in the service. On the plus side, he is a billionaire.
VI. The Sade-138 Campaign
Mandella leads his Strike Force to a freezing planet circling a dull star where they build a base in preparation for the Tauran attack. The Taurans finally arrive and all but demolish Mandella's company, partially because his subordinates do not follow his orders. The surviving personnel head home to Stargate on a ten-month journey to discover that it has, once again, completely changed. Not only is Earth now a planet made up entirely of clones with a single consciousness, but the war has been over for two centuries. Part of their welcome home is an explanation of the 1,143 year-long war that summarizes the idea of the whole thing being based on a misunderstanding between Earth and the Taurans. Upon further exploration, Mandella discovers that the leaders at the time believed that Earth needed a war to unify its people. The returnees are informed that they are free to decide where to live, what do, and with whom to do it. At this point, Mandella is sure Potter is dead.
Mandella finds a note in his personnel file from Potter in which she informs him that she has been waiting for him by using a space cruiser as a time machine. Utilizing time dilation to her benefit, she has been traveling several light years and back over a period of a month, and when she returns, five years have passed. Mandella travels out to the planet where Potter is waiting for him, and they are reunited. Mandella and Potter have their first child, a boy, approximately 1,146 years after they first met.
MANDELLA WILL RETURN IN FUTURE WARRIOR II: UNIVERSAL SOLDIERS
I'm happy to announce that Bill Lonero will be composing the music on this and playing it with his band, LoNero.
How to build your own high performance packet capture appliance using Linux and commercial off the shelf hardware.
After a three day court trial in September 2015, I am pleased to announce a $410,000 judgment for the plaintiffs in the matter of Buckley v. Control Line Electric, Inc., Santa Clara County Superior Court no. 1-13-CV-245190. The defendants fraudulently induced my clients to invest a large portion of their union retirement and other funds into an electrical contracting business, without ever delivering on several important promises. Of note, the Court awarded $200,000 in punitive damages against the defendants. Judging by the statement of decision, the Court must have been as angry with the defendants as my clients were.
"He doesn't care about the law. He doesn't care about the truth. He only cares about what's right." That's one of the best things someone could say about anyone. In this case, the words were spoken by one of the characters in Jack Reacher, the excellent 2012 film based on the book One Shot by Lee Child. Jack Reacher is basically my hero, and to have him played by Tom Cruise is a fantastic bonus. I highly recommend the film.
Following a fifteen month investigation by the FBI, I am pleased to announce an indictment of the defendants in one of my civil cases, Guo v. Chang, Santa Clara County Superior Court no. 1-14-CV-273600. Here it is (U.S.A. v. Chang). The defendants allegedly embezzled $7.6 million in charitable donations meant for a Chinese American church, for which they have been charged with wire fraud and money laundering. I am representing the plaintiffs in a derivative action on behalf of the church to recover the allegedly stolen funds.
After a four day jury trial, I'm pleased to announce a defense verdict in the matter of Jiang v. IvyMax, San Mateo County Superior Court no. CIV526050. Plaintiff, a disgruntled parent of two students of IvyMax, claimed that IvyMax guaranteed the students admission to any ten "dream schools" of their choice and also committed fraud. My client, IvyMax, denied the allegations and raised several problems with Plaintiff's memory of the arrangement. The jury deliberated for about four hours before returning a verdict completely in our favor.
YouTube is a font of cool material. I'm producing an album of cover songs by a local rock band (link here) and I'm still finalizing the track list. Stevie Nicks has some great songs that could be great in instrumental guitar arrangements. We'll probably go with Stand Back, but another good one is Sorcerer. It's too obscure, but it would be really great. An even better one would be Battle of the dragon.
Once in a while, a superhero movie comes along that is downright amazing. In 2014, it was Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The film had the grittiest, most raw action of any Marvel movie, and a number of action set pieces with practical effects that reference other works brilliantly. Judging by the debut trailer for Captain America: Civil War, the Russo brothers and Marvel have done it again, and then some. Captain America as an outlaw is the coolest premise and totally against type. The trailer itself is a work of art. Enjoy!
Every so often I try to remind myself to stop and enjoy life, as opposed to blindly continuing in pursuit of fame and fortune (lol). Kanye West, despite his insufferable arrogance, teaches valuable lessons about that in this song and shows his vulnerable side (such as it is):
Every year since 2013, I award an annual cash scholarship to an outstanding undergraduate member of my fraternity. I call it the Matrix of Leadership, after an Autobot relic from Transformers. So far it's been a hit, and I intend to continue to award it.
Tutorial on installing Privoxy on Mac OS X is updated for Mac OS X Yosemite (10.10.2).
I'm always amazed at the talent on YouTube. Here's someone's collection of Lana Del Rey remixes, which are a vast improvement on the originals.
All is well, just super busy. It's unbelievable. Hong Kong was o.k.; I felt like I was inside a James Bond movie.
It looks like I will be going to Hong Kong in the last week of January 2015. I can't wait!
Road trip to Colorado for my brother's wedding in June.
My review of the Iridium 9575 Extreme satellite phone.
Tutorial on installing Privoxy on Mac OS X is updated for Mac OS X Mavericks (10.9.1).
FUTURE WARRIOR is complete.
I started writing my first book, FUTURE WARRIOR, based on a screenplay by a friend of mine. It's a tribute to THE FOREVER WAR by Joe Haldeman, and I intend to write it in the same style. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
I'm not afraid to admit that I still play the occasional video game. Mass Effect 3, which I finally got working after a year of not being able to play it, is fan-freaking-tastic. The soundtrack is also great:
I'm no longer on Facebook, although I retained my LinkedIn account. Facebook has degenerated to the point that none of my friends' posts are of any interest to me. They're either pictures of food on plates or they're baby pics. As for the text posts, it's just a bunch of rambling about what they are doing at that particular moment. I mean, I love my friends, but wow-- I didn't know making a sandwich was news, or that it warranted a poem. I miss the old days where Facebook was just me and my close friends and we shared fresh, raw content like off-color jokes and party pictures. Since then I'm sorry to say things have gone down the tubes.
Tutorial on installing Privoxy on Mac OS X Lion.
This is a video of F1 driver Ayrton Senna, at the time the best and richest driver in the world, stopping a qualifying run and risking his own life to help a competitor in distress. This is the greatest act of sportsmanship I have ever seen.