Earlier today, I returned home from my parents' place in Allentown. Normally, I take the train up, and they drive me back.
That turned out to be not such a hot idea today, as evidenced by this picture:
Yes, I was standing in the middle of the road when I took that picture. Seems that there was an accident south of Lansdale which took out both lanes, and traffic could only get by on the shoulder, leading to a 10+ mile traffic jam.
Could have been worse, I suppose. The weather was nice, and we didn't have any road rage to deal with. The total wait was only about an hour.
This was the view looking forward:
The read of the pics are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmuth/sets/72157623081612348/.
After setting up a new iMac for my mother last weekend, I liked it so much that I went and bought one of my own. You can see it below, next to my old clunky Gigaware keyboard:
So, what's to like?
For starters, the keyboard takes up less desk space than my old keyboard. Also, there are two low power USB ports on the underside of the keyboard, which let me unplug my mouse from the back of my iMac. (Yes, the Gigaware keyboard really did not have USB ports on it)
If you look closely at the function keys, they have symbols on them for common desks, such as starting/stopping music, firing up Dashboard, etc. I have no idea if these work on a PC (I'll test at the office soon), but it works great on my ancient G5 iMac. And it seems stupid, but I actually find myself making use of these keys because they're so darn convenient.
The keys are very short. Whereas the average keyboard has keys that stick out of the keyboard up to 1/4 of an inch, I measured these keys, and I would say they're closer to 1/16th of an inch. If you're a fast touch typist, this is a big boon because less effort to press each key == faster typing speeds.
The gaps between the keys are almost non-existent. This is awesome if you're like me and eat meals at your desk. No more nasty crumbs that fall between the keys and cause nasty things to come out when you turn the keyboard upside down and shake it. (No, I've never done that to co-workers, why do you ask?)
What's NOT to like?
Something that takes getting used to is the fact that the keyboard is very low to the desk. I'm used to "feeling my way across the keyboard" because it's so high from the desk. With this one, it's much more difficult to do that. However, I found myself adjusting to the height difference even while typing this post.
The Apple Keyboard currently sells for $49.99 and can be snagged from Apple's online store, or at any of their physical Apple Stores.
Wow, this took a long time to write. It was something I had been procrastinating on for awhile, mostly on account of me not uploading my pictures. Now that all of my pictures are up on Flickr, I can get down to writing about the con.
Anthrocon 2009 started for me on the Tuesday evening before the con. I met up with Whitefeet, Ethan Staghorne, and Pinky in Philadelphia. I picked up a rental car, and we headed out to Pittsburgh. Ethan brought along an iTrip and we took turns listening to each others' iPods.
Wednesday was a pretty calm day for me. I got Ops set up and running, and then got the Registration computers set up later in the evening. This year was a change, as I was tasked with writing the convention's registration software. So I made sure I had extra time to get everything set up and tested well in advance.
Come Thursday, I was starting to get the pre-launch jitters. People were lining up for onsite registrations, and I wanted to be sure that my software would work properly. Nik Vulper even remarked to me once that I had my "game face" on. When Registration did finally open around 3, I was please to see that my code did actually run properly. Other than making periodic backups and checking that the slave database server was staying in sync, I didn't have any serious work to do in Registration the rest of the weekend.
On Friday, I danced a bit in DJ Protocollie's dance that night, then swung by my room. I found waiting for me a 10-pack of small bottles of different Swedish liquors, courtesy of Ethan, and a printing out drinking songs to sing with them. Ethan explained that you were supposed to sing between shots. I just stared at incomprehensible Swedish between shots. (Swedish is almost as difficult to understand as Danish is, I might add
Saturday was the quietst day for Con Ops. I spent a fair amount of time out and about the con that day. It was also the day we held the fursuiter parade, where a total of 640 fursuiters marched in it. I remember when the number was announced over the radio, I had to ask that it be repeated, because I wasn't sure I heard it right the first time.
Sunday was the "let's wrap things up day". Registration and Ops were winding down. All I had to do in reg was run final stats, make a final backup of the data, and pack up the computers. The total number of attendees at Anthrocon 2009? 3,776 attendees
Looking back after the con, there were a number of things that made it really fun:
Okay, I uploaded all of my pictures form Midwest FurFest. Okay, let's get the link to all of the pics out of the way: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmuth/sets/72157622889526042/. And now, pictures that I found especially interesting!
First picture is from the Method 1 Live show. Since the hosts couldn't have beer in con space, they instead reviewed Drank Beverage. Along the way, they also decided it would be a good idea to drink Brawndo, and even mix them in the same glass and drink the olive oil-colored concoction. That didn't end so well, as this picture tries to illustrate:
One Standard Issue Furpile that happened Sunday night outside of the dance:
And some actual huskies, who were part of last year's charity, came by to be trained for working with large crowds:
The first Steampunk fursuit that I recall seeing at a furry convention:
This Beast fursuit--or combination of fursuit and face paint, rather, was pretty cool. The first time I've seen someone do something like that, too:
Poor Raptor Red!
Want the rest of my pictures? They're at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmuth/sets/72157622889526042/. Have fun!
I'll be arriving at Midwest FurFest on Thursday and leaving on Monday.
I'm working in the Art Show again. Here are the hours I'll be on duty:
Friday: 11 AM to 3 PM
Saturday: 1 PM to 3 PM, 7 PM to 1 AM
Sunday: 11 AM to 6 PM
Hope I'll see the usual gang of folks there!
In what is definitely a blast from the past, I found this old news story laying around on my hard drive of TurnTide from 2004:
Strangely enough, I make two appearances in this--the first one at 2:40 is of file footage from when they interviewed me for a story about spam in 2003. That was amusing.
A few months after this story was shown, the Symantec Corporation bought us for $28 Million. Those of you who saw me at Anthrocon 2004 might recall that I was tightlipped about work, as well as carrying around this skateboard. Now you know why.
Had a pleasant experience at FurFright the other weekend. While there were 979 attendees in total, the con didn't feel like there was nearly a thousand people present. This was probably due to the overflow hotel being some distance away and people heading off site for food, as well as furs going to the attached water park.
Once again, I worked security with the Dorsai Irregulars. Things were pretty quiet there, too. The attendees were well behaved, and the room parties were quiet. As for that crazy GM at the hotel, we did the best that we could under the circumstance. The rest of the hotel staff (especially the bartenders) seemed pretty cool and seemed to enjoy us.
I got to direct fursuiters during the first fursuit parade, and was in a location where I could take a bunch of pictures:
Yeah, that's a furry Pinhead. That is a very nice box he's holding. I need to find one like it.
Of course, we also had our share of weird and silly this year:
The whole archive of pictures is in the usual spot on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmuth/sets/72157622567912403/
Other than that, I spent most of the con relaxing, chatting with friends, and generally having a good time. I think I'll return next year.
Hurricane Bill was off the shore that weekend, so we weren't allowed to go out too far into the waves or bodyboard, but we did get to still have some fun in the ocean.
If you're looking for pictures of the beach itself, you won't find those here. I know better than to take my camera onto the beach during the day. Instead, I have pictures from the evenings:
The Boardwalk at about 1:30 in the morning.
The rest of the pictures are up on Flickr, at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmuth/sets/72157622255288394/.
I think the strangest thing about this trip was on Sunday morning, when people were out on the boardwalk handing out fliers for some guy who was running for New Jersey State Governor. Why were they handing these out to a crowd that consists mostly of tourists? Doesn't seem too smart to me.
Finally, on the way back home, Omni and I saw this:
Yes, the gentleman was hanging off the front of the truck while it was in motion. Doesn't sound like the safest/smartest thing to me.
And by that, I mean I got Comcast Internet over the weekend. (FIOS isn't available here) I'm seeing about 14 Megabits down and somewhere around 5 Megabits up.
Don't get nervous, folks. After I cancel DCANet ($55/mo for 1.5 Mbps down just isn't worth it anymore) I'm going to get Basic DSL from Verizon for about $17.95/mo to use as hot backup. It'll be nice to have two different wireless networks running here so I can just switch if Comcast starts acting up.
Along with the Comcast Internet service, I also broke down and got basic cable TV, for the first time in about 8 years. It's nice to be able to channel surf through 2 digits worth of channels and not worry about static or a complete lack of signal.
I then spent the rest of the weekend doing cable management of all the computer cables at my place. I actually ran out of wire ties on Sunday afternoon and ran over to radio shack to get more. I'm afraid I didn't get any before/after photos, but take my word for it, the area behind and under my desk is much less cluttered than it was before.
And that was one of my most stress-free weekends in awhile.
I haven't written much here besides Anthrocon stuff lately, and that is due to most of the non-$DAYJOB stuff I've been doing was in fact Anthrocon stuff. I got code complete with my registration system code late on Friday evening. And seeing things like this always brings a smile to my face:
The more observant folks will notice a change in naming conventions for my classes. That came at a point when I realized, both on a hobbyist and professional level, that more and more code was being written in CamelCase/StudlyCaps, and I had a much easier time writing and reading code like that. Maybe one day I'll redo the classes that are not capitalized, but it's more important to have a product that's finished and operational than it is to constantly be tinkering with it.
Back at FCN, I got a conbadge drawn by Rukis:
I'd say that's the most "realistic" character art I've had drawn to date. I certainly like it!
I got a not-so-pleasant surprise the other day from PhillyCarShare. Seems they decided to shut down all of their pods in the Main Line. No warning, no notice, and oh--they're still taking my money every month. Fraud concerns aside, that suddenly left me with no reliable method of transportation to Dr. K, my Primary Care Provider. Oops. That left me scrambling to find another Physician. I finally got to see Dr. W today who is A) Openly Gay, and B) Poked fun at the medical student in the room. I can live with that!
As for PhillyCarShare, I went ahead and registered PhillyCarShareSucks.com. I haven't done anything with the domain yet, but I think I may put some content on there sooner or later.
Also, Dr. W told me to start taking "Glucosamine/Chondroitin/MSM". Did I just turn 90 all of a sudden?
The real reason I went to see Dr. W, though, was because of a minor but persistent pain in my right foot, behind the big toe. It feels like a muscle cramp, but ice isn't helping it much. I was sent for an x-ray today, to rule out a stress fracture in my foot. We'll see if that ends up being the case or not. At least the pain isn't debilitating. It'd be nice to get lots of mileage at Anthrocon, however.
And in case folks haven't seen it yet, here is Anthrocon's latest promotional video: