Hal's Half Acre http://www.burgiss.net My little freakin corner of the universe Wed, 23 May 2012 00:59:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Based on a True Story http://www.burgiss.net/2011/12/11/based-on-a-true-story/ http://www.burgiss.net/2011/12/11/based-on-a-true-story/#comments Mon, 12 Dec 2011 00:42:40 +0000 admin http://www.burgiss.net/?p=250 I have a thing about movies that are “based on true story”. The more fantastical the better. Why doesn’t Netflix have genre for this? It adds a whole other dimension to a story line. I am too old to be naive enough to believe that every “true story” is indeed a true story. But the fact the good ones *might* be, or *could* be true, is icing on the entertainment cake for me.

One of the better ones in this genre is Fire in the Sky, an alien abduction story from 1975. Had this not been “based on a true story”, it would be a bit dull in comparison to flicks like ET that have better story lines, better actors, and better special effects.

Brief summary: six guys on their way home from clearing brush in the Arizona mountains, and happen upon a bright light deep in the wilderness. One of the guys, Travis Walton, gets out of the truck to take a closer look at what turns out to be a hovering “saucer”. He is zapped with a beam of light. The other guys panic, and take off in the truck, leaving their friend and co-worker behind. He is reported as a missing person, and disappears for five days. The other five guys are suspected of foul play. Travis later shows up in a phone booth, rattled, and with tales of  being examined by creatures from another world.  Pretty standard sounding ET type stuff. Their stories are difficult to believe. But eventually, all six people pass polygraph tests and together insist the events are true.

What I did not know was that all these people were still around and have held to this story steadfastly since 1975.

While running errands in the car yesterday, I happened on an NPR story and a fascinating interview with two of the group that were in the truck that night in 1975. And the niece of the skeptical sheriff in the story played by James Garner. They were all going back to the original scene on the anniversary of the “event”, and would be spending the night. One of the guys admitted to feeling guilty for being scared that night. He had a chance to meet beings from another world, and given that opportunity, ran like a scalded dog. He is hoping they, the ETs, were in that place for a reason, and that they will come back some day. And he hopes to be there when they do.

In any case, all these people are sticking to the story. That’s 36 years now, and a long time for six manual laborers to be able to keep a lie like that going. True story?

 

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Bob Dylan – Buried Treasure http://www.burgiss.net/2011/02/27/bob-dylan-buried-treasure/ http://www.burgiss.net/2011/02/27/bob-dylan-buried-treasure/#comments Sun, 27 Feb 2011 20:05:02 +0000 admin http://www.burgiss.net/?p=223

There is such a wealth of works by Bob, its a little hard to get around to listening to it all. And I don’t mean just the stuff major record labels have released. There are zillions of unofficial works, bootlegs and whatnots floating around these days. Going back to 1960.

I’ve managed to go through a lot of this, and am continually struck by how much really, really strong stuff there is out there that is not been released officially. Or in some cases, maybe it has, but is hidden somewhere in Columbia’s bootleg series, which is just a mish-mash.

Columbia has muddied the meaning of “bootlegs”. In fact, bootlegs came into existence because of Dylan. The first bootleg was “Great White Wonder” (for the solid white album cover), that featured odds and ends floating around at the time. This album was illegally produced and sold under the counter at record stores and “head shops”, and reportedly sold over a million copies — which is astounding considering the time and how it was sold. It wasn’t until the ’90s that Columbia decided to cash in on these, and released many of the better quality ones.

Anyway GWW kicked off an era with many bootlegs from Bob and others. Bob probably had at least 10 himself, including Blind Boy Grunt,  John Birch Society Blues, The Basement Tapes, The Kindest Cut, and Talkin Bear Mountain. The raw material used for these bootlegs is now circulating around the Internet for one and all.

Suggested listening from among these hidden treasures.

  • I Was Young When I Left Home
  • Its Hard to be Blind
  • Candy Man (traditional)
  • Remember Me (a very early Willie Nelson cover)
  • He was a Friend of Mine
  • Hard Times in New York Town
  • Rocks and Gravel
  • Stealin’
  • Long Time Comin’ (and a Long Time Gone)
  • Blind Willie McTell
  • Golden Loom
  • VD City
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Bod Dylan – On a Rainy Afternoon http://www.burgiss.net/2011/01/23/bod-dylan-on-a-rainy-afternoon/ http://www.burgiss.net/2011/01/23/bod-dylan-on-a-rainy-afternoon/#comments Sun, 23 Jan 2011 17:35:04 +0000 admin http://www.burgiss.net/?p=133 Its 1966 and Bob Dylan is on the road with the Hawks (later to be the Band). In this little scrap he is actively writing a song, tentatively titled On a Rainy Afternoon (Does She Need Me), which apparently was never finished and thus never published. A fascinating glimpse inside the creative process of a very creative guy during a very creative period. What you hear here is actually a compilation of 5 separate tracks of Bob working out the song while coaching Robbie Robertson on how he wants him to play it. The first four are titled "On a Rainy Afternoon". The last fragment is titled "I Can't Leave Her Behind". Apparently, the lyrics, music and title were all evolving. ]]> On A Rainy Afternoon / Does She Need Me ?

Its 1966 and Bob Dylan is on the road with the Hawks (later to be the Band). In this little scrap he is actively writing and working the kinks out of a song, possibly to be called On a Rainy Afternoon or Does She Need Me? or I can’t Leave Her Behind, which apparently was never finished and alas never published. A brief yet fascinating glimpse inside the creative process of a very creative guy during a very creative period. What you hear here is actually a compilation of 5 separate tracks of Bob working out the song while coaching Robbie Robertson on how he wants him to play it. The lyrics, music and title were all evolving. A partial video clip:

 

 

The transcription that follows is courtesy of http://dylanchords.info/00_misc/on_a_rainy_afternoon.htm. Thanks!

Written by Bob Dylan (and Robbie Robertson, I assume) Filmed in an unknown hotel room during the 1966 tour, and saved for posterity on Eat The Document Lyrics transcribed by Tobias Levander and Arild Langseth (“I Can’t Leave Her Behind”). Tabbed by Eyolf Østrem This is one of the most charming tunes that Dylan has never written — too bad he didn’t finish it. It is also a fascinating study in the development of song, and in Dylan’s composing technique. I assume that the version called “On a rainy afternoon” or “Does she need me?” comes first – the “twice as slow” version with the duple time rhythm that grows out of this, is what appears in “I can’t leave her behind”. Dylan’s guitar is tuned in drop C (C-A-d-g-b-e’), capoed on the fifth fret, Robbie’s is in standard tuning. The main transcription uses Robbie’s guitar. Bbmaj7 = xx8765

Dylan:

C   G/b  F/a   C   F  .  G7  .  C
You must [...] she will  for    you
Robbie: “No, E. It's better, it's . . .” [plays:

F  C  Dm  F  Bb  Am  Gm  C7  F  .  Bb  .  F
Dylan: “OK, we'll do that. I know what I can do and what I can't do. Hey,
get somebody with a pipe down here. OK, let's get this one.”
Robbie: “My pipe is . . ., somebody has it.”
Dylan: “Let's get this one, come on. Ready?”

  F
  :     .     .     .       :
|-------1-----------------|---------
|-------1-----------------|---------
|-------2-----------------|---------
|-------3---------------3-|---------
|-----3-----3-----3-3h5---|---------
|-1----------/5-----------|-1-------
C                        F
Now she's walking in the morning            .     .     :
Bb      *)       F                    *) -------------------
Howlin' you come home                    -------------------
Bb       *)            F     C  Dm/a     -------------------
 I'll be on my way, so long, forlorn     -------3-5---3-----
    G          C7                        --/5---------------
You just can't go                        ---------------1---
       **)         F
I will get it if I have to                   :     .     .
Bb                        Bbmaj7      **) -------------------
 If I have to please come home            -------------------
Am7      Gm7     C          F     C7      -------------------
Try, but I'll be dry, and I crave you     -------------3-----
Dm  F Bb    Am  Gm   C7  F  .  Bb . F     -------3-3h5-------
If  I haunt you back all day              -3h5-----------1---

C        F
Carry my trouble,
Bb                  F
 yes you satisfy my mind
     Bb                    F     C    Dm/a
I'll try to tell you, if I can't come in
      G       C7
And I must stay true
                     F
I'll be happy in the morning
Bb                Bbmaj7 Am7    Gm7
 I try my best, I will   try to help you
     C          F     C  Dm
If I can, and I leave it too
F     Bb   Am         Gm  C7 F
But I just can't find you away
Bb               F
Won't some time away
|Dm .  . Bb |F Bb F
[Robbie hums]
[Dylan says something about the bridge]
Dylan: “Play the bridge!”
Robbie: “No, I just did that.”

|Dm .  Bb . |F Bb F .
[Dylan hums]
Dylan: “Play the bridge again!”

|Dm .  Bb G  |C7  /g  C7 .  |
[More humming]
Dylan: “That's not the bridge.”
Robbie: “Well, I know, it's just those three chords.”
Dylan: “Oh, it's got to start there, yes.”

|Dm .  .  Bb  |Dm . . .
Dylan: “Hey, something is wrong with the ending.”
Robbie: “[...] stop this?”
Dylan: “No, keep going, we got to get it all. We're gonna play it all anyway.
The ending shouldn't be . . . The ending should go like this -- here's
how the melody should go, cause remember the melody now. Everything's
alright until the last phrase.”

[changes the rhythm, from triple to duple time (6/8 to 2/4, more or less)]

C                          F
That's the way I think she told me [?]
Bb                F
Heart she bent on me [?]
Bb               F  C         Dm/a
 I'll be out all morning, for you
        G          C7
But you can't stop me
                      F
Yes, I try my best to please you
Bb                     Bbmaj7
 Try my best, but if I fail
Am7      Gm7        C7
You must help me to see you
     F
As I go by...
[Dylan: “No, it's twice as slow. Twice as slow. It's too fast. Yeah,
but it can go in there, man, but it's just gonna be twice as slow as that.
I'll fit the words in, same words, but it's gonna be twice as slow. Play
every chord about twice as slow”]

F . C  . |Dm     .  Bb  . |C7 . . . C7 . . .
F . .  . |Bbmaj7 .  .   . |F  . . .
Dylan: “OK. let's try it again.”

     C                F
Now, if you send me a letter
Bb                           F
 I'll be on my way to get it for you
Bb                      F    C
 I'll be with my sister too
  Dm         G7         C7
I can't find me what to do
                               F
Yes, I've been trying to get a message
Bb                       Bmaj7 Am7
 To you, but you have to treat me
  Gm7           C7
I won't let her to
           F   C7 Dm/a
And then I try my best
   G7        C7
to hunt her, you..

[Tape fades out.]
Dylan's guitar (capo 5th fret, dropped C tuning)

Fmaj7 = 003210.
Fmaj9 = 003213.
The chords in the end aren't exactly what is being played, but it is what
Robbie plays in the beginning, before the song begins.
          Fmaj7          C
Now she's walking in the morning
Fmaj7            C
Howlin' you come home
Fmaj7                  C     G7 Am
 I'll be on my way, so long, forlorn
    D          G7
You just can't go
                   C
I will get it if I have to
Fmaj9                     Fmaj7
 If I have to please come home
Em7      Dm7     G7         C     G7
Try, but I'll be dry, and I crave you
Am  C F     Em  Dm   G7  C  .  Fmaj7 . C
If  I haunt you back all day
I Cant Leave Her Behind

          Bb                F
Where she leads me I do not know
Bb                          F
Well she leads me where she goes
C Dm    G          C7
I can't find her nowhere
          F
Well, she needs me here
     Bb                          F
All aware, I just can't hear her walk
Bb                     F
 I just can't hear her talk
C     Dm             G        C7
Though sometimes you know you will
                      F
And when she comes my way
Bb                             Bbmaj7
I'll just be left any night or day
Am     Gm       C
I will hear her say
       F           C      Dm         Bb
that I don't wanna try, I tried also cried
      F           C     Bb   Bb  Am   Gm  F
But I can't leave her behind
Dylan's guitar:

          Fmaj7             C
Where she leads me I do not know
Fmaj7                        C
 Well she leads me where she goes
G Am    D          G7
I can't find her nowhere
          C
Well, she needs me here
     Fmaj7                       C
All aware, I just can't hear her walk
Fmaj7                  C
 I just can't hear her talk
G     Am             D        G7
Though sometimes you know you will
                      C
And when she comes my way
Fmaj7                          Fmaj7
I'll just be left any night or day
Em     Dm       G7
I will hear her say
       C           G      Am         F
that I don't wanna try, I tried also cried
      C           G7    F    F    Em   Dm  C
But I can't leave her behind
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Good News: Cluster Headaches http://www.burgiss.net/2010/11/12/good-news-cluster-headaches/ http://www.burgiss.net/2010/11/12/good-news-cluster-headaches/#comments Fri, 12 Nov 2010 22:12:09 +0000 admin http://www.burgiss.net/?p=236

Cluster Headache Demon

I had my first cluster headache about 15 years ago. I didn’t know it was a cluster headache, I just knew it hurt so bad I wondered if I was dying. Incredibly intense, burning, searing pain on one side of my head and neck. To the point, I could barely walk. I didn’t find out what it was for many years. When I did and found the nickname was “suicide headaches”, I knew why!

At first I thought it was a freak. But I started getting them at the same time every day. Over the counter pain medication did nothing. One night I took a total of 16 aspirin + tylenol + ibuprofen. The pain is so intense it drains you, and you are exhausted the next day. The headaches are completely incapacitating. You can’t do anything. I doubt I could drive a car safely.

After several doctors visits, xrays and catscans, one doctor thought it was sinus related, so I had sinus surgery. By the time the surgery happened the headaches had mysteriously disappeared, after putting me through hell for several months. They returned several years later, so the surgery was a waste of time.

At the worst, I was getting the headeaches several times per day. Certain patterns emerged. One thing that triggers a cluster headache is sleep. Whenever you enter REM sleep, you are wrenched from your sleep with the worst headache you ever had. It will last 1 to 2 hours, and then go away. Often you can get back to sleep but sometimes you are awoken with yet another headache when you hit REM sleep again. This happens every night. Its a known symptom of this disease.

There are some obvious implications here, like sleep deprivation. I countered that with caffeine. I drank about 2 pots a day at the peak in order to stay on my feet and be able to work. I lived in constant fear the headaches would get worse (but how could they be ANY worse!), or become more frequent.

Another “trigger” for me is alcohol.  A half a beer would put me on my knees. No brainer: I quit drinking totally. There was no choice. When I am not in an “episode”, I do drink, but never in an episode.

So the pattern was several headaches per day, often at the same time every day, and they would last for weeks or months, and then go away for years.

During the onslaught of one episode, I was researching pain medication online, and ran across “Cluster Headaches”. I never heard of them. I went to Wikipedia, and couldn’t believe what I was reading. It fit me to a tee. I was incredibly relieved to know what I had, and that I was not alone.

The bad news is that there is no cure. There is some understanding of what happens during a headache and some treatments are available now. But on one knows why they are so episodic. I go 2-4 years between episodes. The episodes have gotten much shorter and the headaches are not as bad now. Still an ass-kicker but not as bad.

Now the good news: I saw a neurologist recently, and commented on the declining length and severity. And he told me that was true, that they would probably get less frequent and less severe.

 

 

 

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Solving Ubuntu Performance Issues http://www.burgiss.net/2009/06/12/solving-ubuntu-performance-issues/ http://www.burgiss.net/2009/06/12/solving-ubuntu-performance-issues/#comments Fri, 12 Jun 2009 17:34:11 +0000 admin http://www.burgiss.net/?p=82 As a long time Linux user, I was disheartened to find getting a reasonable level of performance would be so much work. And would defy the old saw that Linux runs great in less memory than Windows.

This is a q&e summary of my experiences with Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) Desktop, and the various performance related issues that have dogged me to this day.  Actually, some of these problems date back to 8.04, and were radically more pronounced on 8.10 which was almost unusable for me. Ubuntu Desktop 8.10 sucked OUT LOUD. At least from a Desktop performance perspective.

Update 2009-12-30: I have belatedly upgraded to 9.10, and my first, early impressions are that it is much improved. Probably due to improvements in the Intel video code.

Update 2010-02-12: Bit the bullet and upgraded to 4G RAM and nVidia graphics. Life is good now. The lesson seems to be that 1G is not enough for full time Ubuntu usage.


Synopsis: Ubuntu Jaunty 9.04 is problematic for various hardware profiles. Intel video chipsets are especially a prickly path to travel. The bar has been raised for system memory as well. 9.04 may run in less than 1G, but the performance will be poor in anything less than 2G. Power users go for 4G. Hey, RAM is cheap these days.

My Hardware

I have two systems to compare, my home desktop and my work desktop. These both run the same version of Ubuntu (and have since 7.04). Both started with 1G RAM. My home system is 3Ghz Celeron with onboard Intel video. My work system is a dual core Intel processor with Nvidia video. Both have Intel motherboards, and are similar in many other respects. My work system was new in Sept 2007, my home system is a little older. Both had also been very similarly configured and tended to run the same mix of apps. I am a command junky, so I tend to do a lot with terminals. Its not unusual for me to have multiple terminal windows opened all the time. And always a few Firefox windows (I work as a web developer).

I have not done any benchmarking or formal comparisons of the two systems. The following is just my attempts at getting a decent level of performance out of both systems.

Both performed admirably up to and including Ubuntu 8.04 with little noticeable difference.

Nose Dive

Upon upgrading my home system to 8.10, performance went into the toilet. Into some real deep doo-doo. My home system was for all intents and purposes unusable, it was so painfully slow. Had this been my first Linux experience, I would have run, not walked, back to whence I came.

Every task was excruciatingly slow — opening windows, changing desktops, scrolling in Firefox. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. My work system also suffered but not nearly to this degree. Conclusion here: Intel chipset blues (see various online articles related to this).

To ameliorate this, I reconfigured X, changed to a lesser resolution, and switched from Gnome to xfce. All these helped a little. And I started being careful of how many programs I had opened. As a long time Linux user (since 1998), this was the first time, I had to worry about this kind of BS.

As the 9.04 release was just around the corner, I waited for that, and by now finding out that there were acknowledged Intel chipset problems.

Upgrading to 9.04 did help, but still I had a dog system. It was often decent for a few days, then performance went through the floor. Opening any application was painfully slow. Scrolling a simple Firefox page was painfully slow (and top would show the CPU was pegged at 100%). Typing in a Firefox input field was similarly slow. Restarting X every few days, would help, but I HATE doing stupid stuff like that. That’s a Bill Gates legacy issue. Our goal, and repeat after me: never reboot, never take stupid steps to help performance issues.

My work system was noticeably better. But instead of a few days, I’d start feeling the need to restart X maybe once a week or so.

For a goodly time I was convinced of a configuration related issue. Then someone clued me into /proc/meminfo, specifically the Commit* lines:


$ grep Commit /proc/meminfo
CommitLimit: 3512248 kB
Committed_AS: 2100996 kB

The Commited_AS line tells me how much memory my currently running programs have requested. That right now is about 2G. That includes the Window Manager (xfce), several terminal windows, one web browser (chrome) with 5 tabs, several instances of the editor gvim. That’s pretty much it. Not a lot going on really. That’s about where the sweet spot is for me.

The rule of thumb here is you want that Committed_AS to be less than 2 times physical memory. When it goes beyond that, you will get excessive swapping, and eventually things start to crawl. When you hit 3 times physical memory, it starts to feel painful. That’s where I was initially, and have altered my usage habits to try to stay under the 2G threshold.

Here are some previous stats on the same system. Remember 1G physical RAM:


Logged out of X (which restarts the X server), sitting at GDM login:
Committed_AS: 452512 kB

Log back in / GNOME (including nautilus,etc, but no user apps and no effects):
Committed_AS: 789400 kB

Reboot Now and at GDM login:
Committed_AS: 482064 kB

Start XFCE new session w/compiz:
Committed_AS: 660792 kB

Log out and start GNOME new session w/o compiz:
Committed_AS: 878332 kB

Reboot and start XFCE w/compiz and 1 konsole window after reboot, no user opened apps:
Committed_AS: 709192 kB

XFCE w/typical app mix including FF, Chrome, multiple Konsole windows and a few vims.
Committed_AS: 1577520 kB

This is where I cut my teeth. The other system, my work system, I was able to upgrade to 4G RAM. It runs like a sports car now ;-) No slow downs, no temptation to reboot or restart X.

In the course of all this, I also learned that the Intel video chipsets have developed serious shortcomings as part of an overhaul of the code. So in the long run, this is probably a good thing, but in the short run, there are a number of issues. The one that got me was performance related. I tried various configuration changes to help ease the pain, but nothing has really seemed to help. *sigh*

Conclusions

There are two major issues:

You can’t run Ubuntu 9.04 Desktop comfortably with 1G of RAM. Forget it. Unless you reboot frequently or don’t run things like web browsers. Ubuntu desktop is a hungry beast. Feed it or suffer the consequences. 2G minimum, 4G recommended.

Intel video sucks the big one on 8.10 and 9.04. This is possibly short term pain for long term gain, but in the meantime, avoid Intel onboard video. Its painful.

Other tweaks discovered and worth noting:

xfce is significantly lighter weight than gnome. Recommended for anyone with performance related issues.

Google chrome browser performs significantly better for me than Firefox. It opens faster, it loads pages faster, and it actually scrolls without taking all CPU.

The Abode flash plugin (sadly) solves some problems with sound that can come out the open source plugins.

And lastly, close those unused programs. They eat memory. This was never an issue with me on older Linuxes, but definitely is a factor with limited memory resources with newer Ubuntu desktops.

So where am I now? Still an Ubuntu guy. Hoping the future gets a little brighter. Or the ol’ pocketbook can afford a new/improved system.

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Bradley Mills of Mills Remodeling http://www.burgiss.net/2009/06/06/bradley-mills-of-mills-remodeling/ http://www.burgiss.net/2009/06/06/bradley-mills-of-mills-remodeling/#comments Sat, 06 Jun 2009 18:57:06 +0000 admin http://www.burgiss.net/?p=117 Buyer beware

I hired Bradley Mills of “Mills Remodeling” to replace a roof that had suffered storm damage. The roof had not leaked or had previous problems.

Bradley seems like a nice enough, hard working young guy. He is from Bardstown, KY though does most of his work in Louisville, KY. He completed the work for me on time, and was paid the agreed to amount. The house itself is rental property. Several months later, the tenants called me with the news  that the ceiling in the living room at collapsed. Sure enough, it had. A roof leak had brought it crumbling down in a big pile on top of their furniture. There was also damage in 2 other rooms.

I contacted Bradley Mills (its more of a one man show than a real business). He was courteous and said he would look into it. Having not heard anything in a week or so, I called him back. He agreed to meet me there. He looked at the roof and the damage inside and agreed that the damage was due to leaks. He said he would care take of them and the resulting damage. That is the last I heard from him. Bottom line, the roof was poorly done, and defective and Bradley Mills refuses to this day to do anything about it. In fact, he refused to accept any phone calls from me at all. Attempts to contact him through other means, were unanswered as well. He had disappeared totally. A black hole of a business operation!

After filing a complaint with the Better Busines Bureau (see here
), Bradley called to inform me that he did the roof as “a favor” to me ($5,000 payment for the “favor” not withstanding), and that he offered no warranty of any kind, written or otherwise, therefore was not obligated to fix anything.

So this is Bradley Mills: hand open, ready to take a paycheck, but refuses to stand behind his work. Obviously the man does not know enough about roofing to be on one. And his “customer service” leaves something to be desired, to put it mildly. So buy beware!

Warning: Do not let this man on your roof! Make sure you get a guarantee IN WRITING. Or you may well be screwed.

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Open Source Matters http://www.burgiss.net/2008/12/24/open-source-matters/ http://www.burgiss.net/2008/12/24/open-source-matters/#comments Wed, 24 Dec 2008 11:33:46 +0000 admin http://www.burgiss.net/?p=62 li {padding:.5em;}

“Open Source” is one of those buzzwords that probably doesn’t matter much to most people. But its our bread and butter. We use Open Source products to run our servers. We use it to build and manage websites. We use it for hosting, marketing campaigns, and internal business applications. And its not just us. Much of the Internet is built with Open Source products. Google for instance, is built on Linux, an “Open Source” operating system. Its worked out OK for those guys. And Apache, an Open Source web server, has been the #1 web server on the planet since 1996 (based on Netcraft web surveys), despite Microsoft really working to flex its muscles in the server realm. Apache has succeeded because the Apache Foundation produces a first rate product, that is fast, featureful and robust. Firefox, the web browser, is something that possibly resonates with more people. Its Open Source too.

OK, Open Source matters to us, but why should it matter to our clients? Well
because there are number of benefits to Open Source development, that trickle
down and benefit our clients, and ultimately, our client’s users.
Using Open Source tools will allow us to produce quality products:

  • At Less Cost
  • Faster
  • Using the newest web-based technologies
  • With better support for web standards


Now let’s look at why this matters a little more closely:

  • Less costly. While many Open Source products are “free” (meaning
    without monetary cost — “free beer” vs “free speech”), they are not all
    “free”. But certainly we can bring a server on line with minimal software
    expenditure. We can then build the finished products that will be the
    websites on that server using tools that often cost relatively little.
    These savings get passed directly to the client. Money matters.
  • Faster development cycles. Most of the core software we use for server
    deployment and website building can be downloaded and installed in a
    matter of minutes. Of course, we are providing a number of value added
    improvements to this code, so that the finished products are just what our
    clients want. The fact they we can readily access code that has some of
    the functionality that our client wants, makes it easier for us to look at
    that “open source” code, modify it, add to it, and improve it as we see
    fit, and then launch it. Anyone that has done Open Source development will
    tell you this is a huge time saver in many instances. Time matters.
  • Fast adoption of new web-based technologies. Things happen faster in the Open Source world. The development cycles are much faster than in the closed source world. Anyone can start a project any time they want and explore or adopt new ideas and features at the drop of hat. When new ideas come along, and if they hit a nerve on the web, they spread like wildfire. Open Source by its nature responds quickly. Closed, proprietary systems have to wait for the next software production cycle. And if they misjudge the merits of a new concept, maybe two release cycles. (How many years did it take Microsoft to acknowlege and adopt RSS? Three? Four? Five?). Technology matters.
  • Better support for web standards. The Internet is built on “standards”.
    Standards provide a common language so that one system here can talk
    reliably to another, very different system over there. There has to be a
    high level of commonality in protocol implementation for this to work
    the way we’d like. One way this can fall apart, is proprietary closed source
    providers that have a dominant market position, can play fast and loose
    with the standards. Their non-compliant products always can be made to
    work with their own products, but working with somebody else’s product
    that is standards compliant, gets to be hit or miss. So
    the little guys on the standards compliancy side have to adjust what they
    do so that it works correctly with both the standard compliant vendors,
    and the big boys with non-standards compliant products. Anyone who has
    worked with web development will tell you that Microsoft’s Internet
    Explorer browser is a nightmare to code for, just for these reasons. It
    has had a history of poor standards compliancy (this is changing for the
    better now). When we are talking a potential audience of millions and you have a few percent that you miss because of compliancy issues, its going to add up pretty quickly. Standards do matter.

These are meat and potatoe reasons our customers receive tangible
benefits from our participation in the Open Source software community. They
are more likely to get a quality product, faster, and cheaper than if the same
project were built soley with proprietary, closed source products.

But there is one last reason that Open Source matters. And this is a
philosophical point: because its open, and its “free” [1]. We, in the United
States, live in a free and open society. At least, we aspire to those lofty
ideals. We preach them and foster their acceptance around the globe. I’m
hardpressed to think of a way to use those two words in a sentence, and come
up with anything that has a negative connotation. We have free speech, freedom
of the press, freedom to worship as we please (or not), freedom of choice, of
assembly, and so on down the line. Freedom is just “good”, no?

Yes, free access to the code we use to build servers, sites, applications and
share information with is a good thing. It allows us to share and improve a
global codebase that is open to all of us, not just the few. It is not held
in proprietary hands and licensed to us temporarily as the masters of that
codebase see fit. It belongs to us, we, the people. Yes, freedom matters too.

Open Source matters.

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How granddad Invented Tabasco Sauce http://www.burgiss.net/2008/11/11/how-granddad-invented-tobasco-sauce/ http://www.burgiss.net/2008/11/11/how-granddad-invented-tobasco-sauce/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2008 01:33:12 +0000 admin http://www.burgiss.net/?p=22

The True History of Tabasco Sauce.1

This is really one of those rags-to-riches, American success stories. To get to the beginning of the story, let’s start at the end, and then march backwards. First, some family history …

My mother is Laura Bullitt Burgiss,
whose father was Hugh Kennedy Bullitt,
whose mother was Heloise Kennedy Bullitt 2,
whose mother was Anne White Kennedy,
whose father was Maunsel White,

and the guy that invented Tabasco Sauce.

I guess that makes him not granddad, but great-great-great-grandad.

Maunsel was born in Tipperary, Ireland in 1784. Orphaned at the age of 13, he emigrated to the “colonies” in the late 1700′s, settling first in Louisville, Ky. where he worked as a clerk in the shipping industry. Commerce was primarily river based goods at that time, and eventually he relocated down-river to New Orleans. He quickly did quite well for himself in various business ventures, becoming wealthy, eventually owning several plantations, including the “Deer Range” plantation (near New Orleans), where he hosted such notables as Andrew Jackson, and Lady Wilde (Oscar’s mom). By the time of the War of 1812 he was well established, captained and financed the “Lousiana Blues” regiment.

The principal crop of his plantations was sugar cane, but Maunsel dabbled in various other horticultural interests, including a failed attempt at marketing a fermented beverage made from oranges. He also had a taste for peppers.

A sea-captain friend, who traveled the Caribbean, returned one day with a handful of pepper seeds from the “Tobasco” region of Mexico, which were unknown in Louisiana at that time. Maunsel began cultivating these peppers. As was the custom of the day, these were called “Tabasco” peppers (variously spelled “Tobasco”) for their native region.

The traditional method of preserving peppers was to dry them. Tabasco peppers are unusually oily, and Maunsel found they did not dry well in the heat and humidity of south Louisiana. Not to give in easily, he experimented with sauces made from the peppers which he bottled, and was known to give freely as gifts to friends and neighbors. He eventually settled on a vinegar based sauce. “Maunsel White’s Tabasco Sauce”, as it was known in its day, was well known in the area prior to 1850, and the successful marketing of THE TABASCO® Sauce in the late 1860′s by the McIlhenny family of nearby Avery Island, Louisiana.

The McIlhenny family (founders of THE Tabasco Sauce) were neighbors and acquaintances of Maunsel White, and undoubtedly knew of his sauce, which pre-dated their own concoction (despite their apparent denials). Though well known locally, Maunsel never marketed his own Tabasco sauce. Family members did market several sauces bearing his name after his death. He died well before the commercialization of the product that he inspired.

Hal Burgiss

1
The above facts were taken from the memoirs of Heloise Kennedy Bullitt, my great-grandmother, and grand-daughter of Maunsel White, published as “Recollections of my Childhood“, on July 24th, 1936.
2
Interesting historical note: Heloise’s dad, Hugh Kennedy, also an Irish immigrant, was “appointed” mayor of New Orleans at the end of the civil war by Abraham Lincoln.
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