Writing at NBC’s Pro Football Talk, Mike Florio (partially referencing points made by Tony Dungy) makes a great point:

On this topic, NBC’s Tony Dungy made an excellent point during Wednesday’s PFT Live.  The 11-5 Jets must play at the 10-6 Colts, and the 12-4 Ravens will be playing at the 10-6 Chiefs.  No one has complained about the inequity of those situations.

And given that the Packers and Eagles have the same record and that the Packers beat the Eagles in Week One, all four wild-card games feature a division winner hosting a team that, technically, had a better overall season.

Talking about playoff reseeding based solely on record is a slippery slope.  It weakens divisons, which I think are aligned about as well as can be expected given the NFL’s current makeup.

  1. Validate that my existing Chrome bookmarks and apps are indeed available on the new computer once I sign in. << DONE
  2. Browse the web! (Duh.) << DONE
  3. Plug in my Blue Snowball and Eyeball 2.0 and attempt to use them with GTalk.
  4. Browse to the Squeezebox Server instance on my Windows Home Server to listen to music. << Squeezebox didn’t work.  I got this going with Firefly Media Server and Fireplay.  However, couldn’t save the Fireplay web page as a bookmark or app. Filed a bug report.
  5. Plug in my digital camera and iPhone to upload pictures and video to Flickr. << Plugged in my iPhone and couldn’t browse the file system while trying to use Flickr’s web uploader.  Filed  a bug report.
  6. See, what, if any, of my podcast production workflow might be able to be done using ChromeOS.
  7. Carry it in a side pocket of my main work laptop case and use it while on the go. << DONE.  When you’ve got six geeks ogling your new tech toy, you know it’s popular. 🙂
  8. (New) Edited my WordPress blog!

 

I received a Google CR-48 netbook from their Pilot Program yesterday.  One of the first things I wanted to do with it was get it to play music from my home library, which is hosted on my Windows Home Server.  I have used both Firefly Media Server and Squeezebox Server on there for a few years.  Firefly serves out iTunes-compatible DAAP, and Squeezebox Server can serve to Squeezebox-compatible clients like MainSqueeze on the Roku.  Since I knew Squeezebox had an HTTP interface, I thought it would be the way to integrate with ChromeOS.  But I’d forgotten that that was only a control interface; playback happened on a device, not the web page itself.

That reminded me of the Fireplay add-on for Firefly, which I had read about but never had a need to use.  While there is a packaged add-on of it available for WHS, installing that didn’t put the necessary files in the Firefly web interface directory.  Manually putting the files in the directory and restarting the Firefly service did the trick.  Fireplay is a flash-based player that communicates directly with the Firefly Media Server.

Fireplay on ChromeOS

Brief instructions:

  1. Obtain and install Firefly Media Server.  I have mine configured to use port 9999 for its web service.  It has an admin password, but not a music (streaming) password.
  2. Obtain Fireplay from here.
  3. Unzip the Fireplay files into your Firefly instance’s admin-root folder; mine’s at “C:\Program Files\Firefly Media Server\admin-root”.  Detailed directions are here.
  4. Restart the Firefly Media Server service.
  5. Browse to the Firefly server using a URL like “http://<servername&gt;:<port>/FirePlay.html”; mine is http://ghostrider:9999/FirePlay.html
  6. Login with a blank username and your admin (not music) password.
  7. Enjoy!
  1. Validate that my existing Chrome bookmarks and apps are indeed available on the new computer once I sign in.
  2. Browse the web! (Duh.)
  3. Plug in my Blue Snowball and Eyeball 2.0 and attempt to use them with GTalk.
  4. Browse to the Squeezebox Server instance on my Windows Home Server to listen to music.
  5. Plug in my digital camera and iPhone to upload pictures and video to Flickr.
  6. See, what, if any, of my podcast production workflow might be able to be done using ChromeOS.
  7. Carry it in a side pocket of my main work laptop case and use it while on the go.

Here’s hoping I’ll get to play with one of these over the Christmas holiday.

Update: I received a CR-48 today! Will be unboxing later tonight.

EFF Deeplinks: Stand Up Against TSA’s Invasive Security Procedures

The Transportation Security Administration has adopted “enhanced” security procedures — presenting people with the horrible choice of either submitting to body scanners that show passengers unclothed or submit to what are called “groping” pat-down techniques which include touching both breasts and genitalia. As some have noted these processes appear to have little likelihood of increasing the safety of fliers.

Individuals appalled by these procedures have a right to submit formal complaints to the TSA. It is important the passengers and crew submit complaints to showcase the widespread resistance to these procedures. TSA maintains that they have seen no increase in complaints about the new security procedures. EFF will be filing FOIA requests to test this claim, but in the meantime we wanted to make sure that people who wished to complain knew how to make their thoughts and feelings heard.

There are informative links to online forms, iPhone apps, and other ways to complain about the security theater at airports.  Flyers are being forced to give up their Fourth Amendment rights as well as their dignity in the name of “security”.  It’s a sham.  Fight back.

To quote Ben Franklin (thanks for the reminder, Scott):

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Don’t be forced to be part of “they”.  Resist having your rights and dignity taken away.

I’m a big fan of Star Trek, and the repeated use of the number 47 in TNG and later has been fun to follow. This morning, something made me think of the Battle of Wolf 359 and then I realized there was a “47” reference in there.

The number halfway between the “3” and “5” in “359” is 4.

The number halfway between “5” and “9” is 7.

47.

The weekend of September 24-26, six of us from work took a backpacking trip together from Harrisburg to the Dolly Sods Wilderness located in the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia.  It was my first backpacking experience, and it was challenging and exhilarating at the same time.  The wilderness certainly challenged my notions of what constitutes “trails”.  A great, sore, tired time was had by all, but we were glad to be offline and outside of cell phone service areas even if it was just for a few days.

The challenge started before we even got to our destination’s parking lot.  We loaded up all of our gear into a teammate’s van and got settled in for our 3.5-hour trip.  After getting off the interstates and making a quick dinner stop at a McDonald’s, we encountered the Dolly Sods signage, and it led us to a narrow, rough gravel road that climbed for miles.  At that point we knew were were going to be in the sticks for the weekend.

After getting our gear together and taking a group photo, we hit the Bear Rocks Trail on the northeast corner of the Wilderness and started on our counterclockwise journey.  Because we arrived late in the afternoon, we resolved to camp at the first decent site we found.  Luckily, the first site we encountered (about 1.5 miles in) was near a stream and surrounded by trees; we set up camp there as night was falling.  We never did get a decent fire going due to a lack of dry wood in the general area, but we did sit around and converse until about 10pm.  We also marveled at the cloudless night sky, the stars, and remarked how bright the moon seemed when it wasn’t fighting artificial light sources on the ground.  It wasn’t very cold this first night; temps were in the 50s.

Early the next morning we ate breakfast, pumped water, packed up and started out on our anticipated 15-mile journey around a majority of our planned route.  On the Raven Ridge Trail, we quickly encountered high winds on the elevated plateaus that held the sods in “Dolly Sods”.  At mid-morning on the Rocky Ridge Trail, we took a break and enjoyed the vista from the west ridge of the wilderness, overlooking a lake.  After that break the trails began to get much more rough, evolving from rock-laden to boulder-crossings.  It was about as much climbing as one can do with one’s legs.  The rock formations in this area were stunning — similar to what I’ve seen in Colorado.  One thing I started noticing was a little cramping in my legs.  Having dealt with that in cycling, I knew to keep drinking and lower my speed.  That helped, since I didn’t feel them again.  As we transitioned to the Big Stonecoal Trail, we found a campsite to rest and eat lunch.

I haven’t talked about the food yet.  Our resident backpacking enthusiast recommended using freeze-dried “mountain meals” to save pack space and weight, as well as Clif bars and beef jerky to provide calorie-dense meals when we weren’t set up to cook.  While the mountain meals weren’t exactly “gourmet”, they had plenty of flavor on their own, and were certainly worth their lightness.  Another teammate brought a box of Clif bars and shared with the group; in fact, we all shared food and supplies the entire weekend.

Getting back on the Big Stonecoal Trail, things got even more rocky as we transitioned to the Rocky Point Trail.  I think the trail name was earned by the number of rocky points one had to avoid to successfully navigate!  The trail was made up of 1- to 1.5-foot rocks and was very rough on my toes and ankles.  I kept my relatively slow pace, but the group stayed together pretty well.  When we split up, we had radios to keep in contact.  Halfway on the trail was a short circuit climb to a formation called “Lions Head”.  Four from our group decided to go see it; another teammate and I (admittedly, the slowest of the group) decided to continue on towards our intended campsites on the east side of the wilderness.  We started heading northeast on the roughening trail, but we kept going and had good conversation.  The others caught up with us a bit later at the intersection of the Rocky Point and Red Creek trails.  My borrowed pack had been riding on my shoulders pretty roughly,and Rodney noticed that I could adjust the straps higher.  After doing that, it felt a lot better, letting more of the pack’s weight rest on my hips.
From there we hiked north toward a cluster of four campsites, hoping that we found one that was roomy and near water.  The leaders found what we thought was the best of the bunch, right along Red Creek with plenty of flat ground and trees.  We stopped hiking a bit after 4:30pm, so we had time to set up camp and relax after about 7 hours of hiking.  We estimated that we covered 15 miles; on such rough terrain, I considered that an accomplishment.  I though my body was going to punish me for pushing it so hard that day, but aside from a little soreness, I was in pretty good shape.  The creek was refreshing and provided very clean pumped water.  There was a lot of dry wood onsite and we set up a nice fire, which we kept going until the 9pm hour, when we decided to turn in early to be able to start our 5-mile hike out the next morning as early as possible.

I slept pretty well both nights; for me, when camping, that means I get my 3-4 hours of REM sleep and then maybe one or two more 1-2 hour naps.  Saturday night was the coldest I’d ever camped.  It got down to about 40 degrees, and I was thankful I had brought plently to layers and a cap to compensate for my lack of an insulated sleeping bag (I used a fleece bag).  I was warm inside the tent, but once I got out, it was extremely brisk.  I waited until 6:30 to give my buddies wake-up calls and we all stirred around the site eating and then packing up.  We hit the Red Creek Trail a little after 7:30 and made our way up the Dobbin Grade and Beaver View trails, as well as a shortcut trail back to the Bear Rocks Trail to get back to the van.  Along the way we encountered an interesting roadblock – a beaver dam!

We each took our time crossing over the stream using the dam, and no one succumbed to the mud.  By about 10:45 we had made it back to the van, ready to head back to Harrisburg.  We stopped at an Outback Steakhouse in Martinsburg for our “first real meal” of the weekend, and then disbanded later Sunday afternoon.

I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend with my teammates and hope to participated in some more of these expeditions next year.  We left a lot of Dolly Sods unexplored and we plan to return!

My Set of Dolly Sods pics on Flickr

Mark, Scott, and I headed out in the early afternoon to Allentown; finding that parking wasn’t yet open, we stopped at a TGI Friday’s for an early dinner.  Taking a different way back to the Fair, we found a Boy Scout Troop selling parking spaces for $5, less than the $8 the fair was charging, with much better street access.  It was appropriate, because when the show was done I wanted to get the hell out of that venue.

I hated the seats at Allentown Fair, but I always love seeing Rush.  Their films before, during intermission, and after the show were better-produced than ever, and very funny.  They came out with a strong “Spirit of Radio”, and highlights in the first set for me were the new single “BU2B”, the first live treatment of “Presto” (probably among my top 15 personal favorites), the triumphant return of “Marathon”, and “Workin’ Them Angels”.

Set two was led off by the seven-song “Moving Pictures” set, and it was the first time I got to see “The Camera Eye” performed live.  It was quite satisfying, although there were some awkward (to these ears) edits that took about 1.5 minutes out of the song.  I enjoyed the new single “Caravan” as well, and Alex’s new 12-string intro to “Closer To The Heart” was transcendent.  I actually played part of that on 12-string acoustic myself performing at Mark’s birthday party last Saturday.  Nowhere near Lerxst’s talent, that’s for sure, but it was heartfelt.

The encore of La Villa Strangiato (with a carnival-themed keyboard intro) and Working Man was a satisfying end to a great show.  Songs from many albums were represented, and I didn’t miss the drop of “Dreamline” from the set.  Looking forward to getting the new album “Clockwork Angels” next year and seeing Rush live yet again!  Next time I’ll be more careful about what seats I purchase!

I attended last night’s Rush concert at the Allentown Fair.  TicketMaster asked me for a review.  Here’s what I entered.  I’ll be surprised if it’s approved:

[1 of 5 stars given]

This review isn’t about the show; at least, what I saw of it.  Rush always rocks and they’re my favorite band.  However, this is the first Rush show in 20 years of seeing them where I didn’t have a view of Neil Peart.  Unless you count the times they showed him on the video screen.  When I purchased tickets to this show, I got third row in section A, which was the reserved-seating ground section furthest to the right.  The seating chart didn’t show the stage, so I went ahead on faith that TicketMaster was indeed giving me the best seats available.  They didn’t.  We arrived at the venue and were amazed to find that our seats were nowhere near the stage.  We were at least 30 yards away from stage left’s edge and were at such a bad angle we could just see Geddy and Alex.  Neil’s drumkit and the video screen behind him were completely blocked from our view.  From my point of view, the Allentown Fair and TicketMaster conspired to rip me off.  Everyone around me felt the same way.  It was shameful to charge us the highest ticket price for seats that were worse than the general admission grandstand.  I won’t be coming back to this venue and I’m going to recommend against patronizing the Allentown Fair.

I can’t stress how disappointed I was when we were seated.  Of the more than 20 times I’ve seen Rush I’ve been seated in many positions, but none made me madder than last night.  I didn’t even have a decent view of the video screen we were near:
Rush at Allentown Fair

I could say more, but I think I’ve made my point.  Don’t patronize the Allentown Fair.  They are ripoff artists just like TicketMaster.  Rush, please don’t play there ever again.

Update (9/2): The only place I see for TM reviews to be filed is under the band, not the venue.  (How very convenient.)  The reviews for Rush are here.  My review was submitted last night (9/1) and it’s not there yet.  There are several other low-star reviews of the show submitted yesterday, but none criticizes the venue as much as mine did.  It was probably declined by the site admin.  Thanks for the comments so far.

  1. It’s pronounced “Shin-co-teeg”, as in “Shh, keep this place a secret!”
  2. The town is pony crazy.
  3. Definitely check our your different accommodation options.  We rented a 3-bedroom house for a week from Island Getaways that worked out to a little over $150 a day and it was a steal for the location (center of the island) and size.  Yes, you can’t just go downstairs and get a free hot breakfast every morning, but it’s a lot more quiet and private than a hotel or inn.
  4. Since the islands here are flat, there are ample & usable shoulders on many roads for biking, and there are dedicated trails in the NPS-run parks, cycling is a great way to get around the island.  There is plenty of bike and moped rental capacity, but if you own a bike already, bring it.  You’ll like it better than most of the goofy rental bikes I saw.
  5. The town has several key events that appear to occur mainly in the summer months.  The Annual Pony Swim and Auction in late July is the most famous, followed by the Fireman’s Carnival many weekends in the summer, the Annual Blueberry Festival in July, and the Annual Oyster Festival in October.  There may be more, but these were the ones I experienced or saw advertised.
  6. Mosquitos are controlled on Chincoteague Island, but not on Assateague.  Normal insect repellent worked on Chincoteague, but we needed something stronger for the swarms that greeted us on the trails of Assateague.  Deep Woods OFF! worked for us there, but you’ll want to apply it everywhere, not just exposed skin.
  7. Turn signals are apparently optional here.  My only guess is that it must add some spice to island life.
  8. Be prepared to travel off the island to find a full-service grocery store.  We used the Food Lion at the intersection of US 13 and VA 175, about a 12-minute drive away.  It was excellent.
  9. Cell/net connectivity on the island is good.  I saw at least one cell tower on the island and my AT&T coverage was strong,  Our place had included Verizon DSL with a wireless router.  There were many locations with free Wi-Fi (the Island Creamery is one).
  10. You may find restaurant service on the island lacking in hospitality, timeliness, and food quality.  We found the food prices kind of high, and that was compounded by Virginia’s 10% sales tax.  We had the best experiences during our visits to Ledo Pizza (twice), Woody’s BBQ (twice), and the Sea Shell Cafe.

@aharden

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