Why I don’t consider myself a Linux person any more.

Time was, I was an enthusiastic Linux geek, proselytizing, apologizing, saying “well, it doesn’t now, but somebody will write something to do that”, overlooking the visual horror of the clashes of look and feel and user experience of all the disparate programs written on all the disparate X11 widget sets (yes, I could tell the difference between Xt and Xm at a glance), actually not laughing in people’s faces when they said that Gimp was better than Photoshop, ignoring the fact that Richard Stallman is a smelly looney who eats his toe jam in publc, etc. But over the years, two things have happened:

  • I care more about user experience than I do about raw computing power
  • I don’t apologize for my computers any more

Or to quote Three Dead Trolls In A Baggie “yeah, well I’ve got a girlfriend and things to get done.”

So I use Linux on my servers, and I think it’s a great OS for servers. I even contribute to open source products here and there. I hardly ever use it as a desktop any more, although it was my daily work desktop a year ago, and it was fine for work where video and audio didn’t matter. I’m just not anything like the “freetard” I used to be. Which is why I recognize the type so readily. And when somebody sends me something like this, and thinks it says something about how iPad is nothing new, I can instantly recognize the scent of crazy. Especially since it was sent to me in response to my saying that I hope HP hurries up with the Palm WebOS-based tablet because I like the user experience (UX) of WebOS better than I like iOS.

I’m sorry, but if you think somebody who is debating the subtle differences in UX between WebOS and iOS is going to like a hefty laptop with the keyboard broken off, running Windows XP or Linux, with no multi-touch, a stylus and a battery life that’s probably measured in minutes, you have greatly misunderstood the question. Or the purpose of a tablet. Or the meaning of life.


Vicki and I are back from England. Rampant paranoia meant I was cagey about saying we were gone until the house was re-occupied, so besides a few friends-only updates on Facebook, this is my first mention of it in a semi-public place.

Vicki is making a blog about the trip in minute detail, so I won’t go into the minute details here. A few highlights:

  • I love driving in England. The cars have very tight and responsive steering, people drive assertively so you can trust that the guy ahead of you isn’t going to do something boneheaded like brake when he should be accelerating into a gap, and as a lefty, I love having the shifter on the left hand.
  • Vicki and I both gravitated towards “old stuff”, so we spent much of the time looking at medieval cathedrals, Viking villages, and Roman forts. Very cool.
  • The Lake District is beautiful. Not the stark natural beauty of Banff or Yosemite, but sort of a softer, more muted version of the same. (At one point I saw a hill that looked like a smaller version of Half Dome.)
  • The ultimate nerdgasm confluence of all those things came together when we drove the road through Wrynose Pass and Hardnott Pass and came across Hardnott Fort, the best preserved Roman fort we’d seen in the entire trip.

What a great trip. I don’t understand why we don’t do this every year. (The bills haven’t come in yet, obviously.)

Armond Bassett Race, 2010

Today was the Armond Bassett race, right here in Rochester. I’ve been looking forward to this race because last year it was my first long distance race ever, and since I was coming back with a lot more base, a lot more hours of training, and a faster boat, I assumed I’d demolish my old time, and possibly the competition as well. Didn’t work out like that. As you can see, last year I was 1:36:12, and this year I was 1:33:05 (actually, I was a bit faster than that, because I started my GPS on one of the “x seconds to go” marks.) So in spite of having a boat that’s probably 30 seconds to a minute per mile faster, I only gained 4 minutes. That’s disappointing.

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They started the kayaks in one wave this year, with no canoes around. That certainly reduced the pile up problem we had last year – most people didn’t even come up to the line until 30 seconds to go, and there wasn’t as much back-paddling. Immediately on the start, Jim Mallory was off like a shot like we expected. Bill Feeney did one of his awesomely quick starts, and I tried to stay with the group with him and Doug. Pretty quickly, though, we dropped Bill and so it was me, Doug, a guy with a mullet in a greenish EFT (I mentioned him in the blog at last year’s race – I think his name is Jim but I’m going to call him Mullet Man) and a guy with short greyish hair in a Thunderbolt or Marauder (I’m going to call him GHG), all trying to catch Mike Littlejohn who had a phenomenal start. We did catch his wake, and so it was GHG to his left, Doug on his stern wash, and me trying to ride Littlejohn’s. I couldn’t hold it, though, and dropped back to his stern wash. I’m not sure where Mullet Man was at this point. I was going way to fast, and my pulse rate was up around 170.

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At the turn, they all gapped me, including Mullet Man. I pulled hard to try to catch them back up, or at least catch Littlejohn who was starting to drop off from them. Scott Stenberg was around me, on one side or the other, and somebody (who I eventually discovered was Paul D) was bumping into my stern as he rode my stern wake. Scott started talking to Paul D, and then just before the railway bridge, as I’d been pulling them along for 2 miles, he suggested I drop onto their stern wakes and take a breather so we could work together. Paul D took the lead, Scott took second, and I was in the best seat in the house behind them, trying to recover from that way too hard start and that long pull.

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As we passed the start line, Scott was trying to tell Paul what line to take around a C-4. They ended up getting so close to them that their paddles clashed, and then as I passed them they did a perfect “pit turn” and turned me out 90 degrees from my line. I swore at them, and then sprinted to get back on Paul D’s wake, but the sprint was just too much and I soon lost them. Looking back on the video, I can see now that the C-4 wasn’t really to blame for pitting me – I think they actually weren’t all that good, and I crossed too close in front of them trying to stay on Scott and Paul. So whoever you are, sorry I called you bastards.

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The rest of the way was just one long hot grind. I didn’t pass any kayakers, and no kayakers passed me. I kept thinking I was getting closer to Paul D (who’d been dropped by Scott) but I never actually did. Jim and I crossed (him downstream and me upstream) quite a bit higher upstream than last year, which I think might indicate some improvement on my part, at least.

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And the return downstream was so hot and airless that I couldn’t maintain anywhere near the speed I had on the first downstream portion after the start. A few times I could get a respite behind a C-2 or C-1 stock boat before I’d go blasting past it, and once as Holly Reynold’s C-2 pro boat came by I was able to hold her wake for a tenth of a mile or so. But most of the C-2 pros came by in groups, which made it too hard for me to get on their wake for any length of time.

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On the way down, I knew I had about 30 seconds to a minute on Mike F, and so while I was mad at myself for not being able to catch Paul D, I could at least take comfort that so far Mike hadn’t caught me. And that’s about how it stayed to the end – the video shows him finishing less than a minute behind me, which would put him about a minute slower than last year (1:32:13 last year).

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I don’t know what it’s going to take to get the speed increase I should have gotten with this faster boat. Cooler weather, I guess, and maybe not wearing dark blue on a brilliantly sunny day. And man, I wish I had the self discipline to lose weight. That’s what it’s going to take to improve, but I just can’t seem to do it.