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The island of Corfu is all the way up the western coastline of Greece, and you can even see Albania from it’s shores. It is also supposedly where Odysseus’ ship was petrified, mere yards from returning to port. While here we visited a working monastery (where Amanda was stung by a bee.. ask her about it sometime), the old town (complete with a reproduction of the Rue di Rivoli), and a small seaside town. Not in that order. We also saw some of the best Byzantine art and Orthodox icons of the whole trip. Of note to me were the icons of St. George and the Dragon, something I would expect more in England than in Greece.

From Corfu

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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Back to the ruins! On day 9 we docked at Katakolon, which is a cluster of one and two story buildings with almost no residences. The whole place serves as solely a port for the tourists who come to see the ruins of Olympia. Centuries ago, Olympia itself was on the water, but no longer. Once home to the Temple of Zeus, which housed one of the Seven Wonders of the world, now it is a collection of mostly untouched ruins, and a museum. The archaeologists who have been in charge of the site for decades are in the ‘leave it as it lies’ camp, and have done minimal restoration, instead conducting preservation and excavation efforts to reclaim the site from the swamps. There is an excellent museum at the site with all sorts of finds.

From Olympia

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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Our visit to Santorini was not one of an ancient site. Although Santorini (once called Thera) was a very important island stronghold in both Classical and Renaissance times, it is best known these days for its stunning beauty and cycladian architecture. Per government regulation, almost all new construction must be in the style, because it is what they are so well known for. Santorini itself is an island formed by the caldera of a volcano. The edges of the volcanic basin are the islands of Santorini. Because of this, Santorini forms a near perfect natural harbor. The walls of the caldera, however, are steep, so almost all of the construction is on the outside slopes, creeping up and peering over the rim. While in Santorini, we took the time to see the village of Ia, a popular wedding and honeymoon destination, an ancient Byzantine church (13th century, IIRC), and a local winery that produces some of the local vinsanto wine, a wine made from grapes left to dry in the sun until they are almost raisins.

From Santorini

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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Day seven, after a day at sea, we arrive at the second country on our tour, Turkey. We docked at Kusadasi and took a tour to see Ephesus, an excellently preserved and restored site. Our tickets also included access to the still-under-excavation Terrace Houses, which are carefully being preserved inside a well roofed area, and with glass walkways so that as little of the site is disturbed by tourism as possible. They offer limited admission to this area for an additional fee, the proceeds of which fund the archaeological work. We took a lot of pictures here as well, because there was a lot to see. By the way, the Library of Celsius is a stunning piece of work that any city public library should consider emulating. Afterward, we returned to Kusadasi proper, and were treated to a carpet weaving demonstration and sales pitch. The afternoon was characterized by an overpriced lunch and souvenir shopping.

Pictures up at Picasa.

From Kusadasi and Ephesus

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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The next day we docked in the Port of Messina, on the Sicilian coast. Our tour guide was Australian, and although he’d been a tour guide for decades, he had no sense of pacing. He rambled on all the time about things that were not necessarily relevant, or that he had already said three or four times. You’d think he was being paid by the word. It did make it difficult to actually stop and look at what we were seeing and take pictures, because the only time he stopped talking was when we had to move on to the next spot. Regardless, we really enjoyed the area, and would be happy to go back. We also did some shopping. Next time you come over, remind me to show you the tablecloth.

From Castelmola and Taormina

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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Our first port of call was Naples. There were shore excursions to the area beaches, and of course to Pompeii, but we decided on the tour to Herculaneum. Why? Everyone goes to Pompeii. Any time you travel to that region you can easily pick up a guided tour of Pompeii. Herculaneum was a smaller seaside resort for the wealthy that was also destroyed by the 79 C.E. explosion of Vesuvius. The site is smaller, having been excavated less, and having the modern day town of Ercolano still on top of it (literally - they can’t excavate some areas because they go under people’s houses), but it does have some things to recommend it. Primarily, it was buried by mud, not ash, so is much better preserved, including original timbers that charred and fossilized, but did not burn away. Having a classics minor, and knowing an expert on the area (she was in a PBS special narrated by Leonard Nimoy!), we took more pictures here than at any other spot, I think. I’ve posted the gallery up at picasaweb.google.com… of course.

From Herculaneum

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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Before boarding our cruise ship, we had a day and a half in Rome. Airline hassles, hotel rearrangements, and camera battery outages kept us from seeing or doing as much as we’d planned, and raised our frustration levels. Not the best way to start travels, but the good outweighed the bad, including good food, good tour guides, and actually getting to see some amazing sites.

I’ve posted most of the pictures we did get, but as I mentioned, the camera battery ran out halfway through our tours (my fault!), so we didn’t get that many pictures. Again, posted at picasaweb.google.com…

From Rome

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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I’ve uploaded the first wave of pictures to Picasa for you all to see. These are the pictures from the wedding itself, taken by the professional photographer. If you were there, and you took pictures, please let me know, and send copies to me - we’d love to collect them all together!

Over the next few days I plan on going through the pictures we took on the cruise, and will be posting them as well.

All of these can be found at : picasaweb.google.com…

From Wedding

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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On the good news for me front, I did just upgrade the hard drive in my MacBook Pro from the 100 GB it shipped with to a 320 GB.  Got tired of having to plug in an external hard drive just to listen to iTunes or sync the iPod.  On the MacBook, this is an easy process; a few screws and a lever.  Don’t know why, but they decided that on the professional, higher-end, more likely to have owners that want to upgrade MacBook Pro, this is a process that involves 25+ screws, including Torx size 6, dismantling the lower case, detaching several ribbons (almost lost the bluetooth), rubber bumpers, and a lot more time.

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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As of tomorrow, RCN in my area is shutting off all analog signals, and switching everything to digital.  Not a problem for the average person, who will either use an analog converter box, or who is already using a digital box from RCN.

Big annoyance for me.  I have a home built DVR.  I’ve been using the analog tuner in it, but it has a digital tuner, so I should be all set, right?  Not entirely.  You need something called a CableCard in your DVR or HDTV to get the advanced digital network features, such as premium channels and pay-per-view.  I don’t get nor want any of those, and even if I did, TiVo HD is the only non-cable company DVR that can take a CableCard.  Because the CableCard folks are… hm…. how should I put this…?  Oh yes.  Morons.  So I don’t need CableCard, because I only want basic channels, right?

No.  RCN (and all the other providers are going this way) are now encrypting _all_ their digital channels, and sending none in the clear (Clear QAM vs. Encrypted QAM, vs. ATSC which is what over-the-air broadcast digital is).  So now you *MUST* have a CableCard or a sanctioned set-top converter box.

And if I want the true digital set-top box it is an extra $12 a month.  And if I want multiple boxes for multiple TVs, anything more than the first is at least $3 a month.  Which is one of the drivers behind the change… more rental fees.  Plus, with a set-top box, you must change channels on the set-top box.  Can’t change channels on the TV, or in my case, obnoxiously enough, on the DVR.  So the DVR will have to change channels on the box, using an IR blaster, which is a little like taping the remote control to the computer so it can press the buttons.  It’s unreliable, slow, and there’s no communication from the box to the computer, so there is no error correction capability.

So now I’ve been forced to a digital world, but can’t use my digital tuner.  I’m still getting converted analog, but can no longer use my DVR the way I built it.  I’ll have to splice in a new device, finding another outlet to plug it into (ask me about the wonky electrical wiring in this apartment sometime!), rigging up the IR from the DVR, and hoping that everything works well.  RCN’s excuse for all this mumbo-jumbo is that the upstream providers (the TV stations and networks) require RCN to encrypt the channels.  And that they are going through with this transition so I can get more channels at the same price.  I don’t watch a lot of TV.  I don’t want more channels, especially channels like the Horse Racing Channel, that I’m _never_ going to watch.  I’d rather have the same number of channels I have now at half the price.  Congress and the FCC can’t move fast enough on a-la carte cable for my tastes.

I am *very* tempted to dump the cable TV, keeping just the internet connection.  I’ll get what I can from over-the-air broadcast, and have to get all my sci-fi, usa, and other networks through less than honest means on the internet.  Because television from the internet has no DRM, no commercials, and lets me watch my TV the way I want, when I want, which is why I built the DVR in the first place.  When companies go out of their way to make piracy _easier_ than honesty (and not just more convenient), they really shouldn’t be surprised when piracy increases.

So, now that RCN is persona non grata with me, give me your recommendations for alternate companies, alternate solutions, etc.  Keep in mind that I’m poor and cheap.

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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Lots of people assume that individuals interested in cutting edge computers, sciences, and technologies, and those interested in exploring history, especially in the contexts of art and music, run in separate circles.

Anyone who’s ever been to an SCA event knows there’s a lot more overlap in that Venn Diagram…

This recent article details how some scientists made use of the latest computer network research technologies to model and reproduce the sound of a medieval instrument, an instrument of which no modern replica exists.  Spiff.

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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I don’t think this is what most people mean when they use the phrase ‘car camping’.  Still….

This is closer, but I still don’t think it is what most people mean…

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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So it is probably no surprise to most of you that I’ve just been too doggone busy to post lately.  As the title implies, some time I just have to focus on putting one foot in front of the other and walking.

But I did recently manage to give myself an earworm for a song mashup that may not exist, but probably should.  Here are the lyrics that run through my head:

“Still looking for that blue jean, baby queen.
Prettiest girl I ever seen.
Tastes so sweet make a grown man cry,
Sweet cherry pie.”

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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Route 30 parallels the Pike for quite a stretch, at times with sufficient elevation that looking across 30 you cannot see the pike below.

Except for when a car carrier goes by and you can see just enough of the top.  Seeing a line of cars ‘driving’ backwards on the Pike was very amusing.

Played poker tonight, at Jducoeur’s invitation (thank you!), and had a lot of fun.  Not having played anything but the ubiquitous Texas Hold ‘Em for quite some time, the variety of variations called at the table were at times mind-bending.  Particularly, I occasionally had troubles with some of the more convoluted split-pot high-low variations.  Not strategy-wise, typically, but I did flub a few action sequences, to my embarrassment.  Overall though, thanks to some good choices in Liege Lord, and some good fortunes in being the only high hand in Anaconda, (both split-pot games, oddly), I ended up more than doubling my stake (after factoring in chips bought from me at the very end).  But the money would have been well spent had I lost it all, as I had a really good time.  Of course, now I must find an opportunity to give some of the money back at another poker night.

And now I must to bed before I lose too much more sleep.

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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15 years ago, most people didn’t have Internet Access, per se. They had dial-up service. 28.8k was state of the art (with 33.6k poking it’s nose in places).   Service was typically AOL or CompuServe, maybe something else, and metered per hour, sometimes as much as $5/hour.  You might also have to pay long distance charges if there wasn’t an access point in your local exchange.  Oh, and of course, if you only had one phone line you would tie it up, unless someone picked up the phdsgndjkls nhyreio hnbknrw.b;ip0f nu3tur  in which case that’s what you’d see.

I’m not just trying to show my age here, I’m setting the scene.  15 years ago, I was pretty cutting edge in some ways: pretty fast 28.8k modem, second phone line, lucky enough to live in the corner of town that fell into the local exchange that covered a large area.  But we didn’t have any of the dial services like AOL, because the fees were unreasonable.  But I still spent hours each week online.

How?  Local BBSs (Bulletin Board Systems) - Other people would set up their computers with modems and phone lines and special software and host local systems that people like me would dial into.  All ANSI text based terminals, with crude text-based interfaces, and no mouse.  (I’m ignoring the later RIP vector systems)  Some of these were BBSs in the literal sense of an electronic bulletin board - Forums these days - log in write new posts, respond, communicate, for community.  Some had file exchange options.  Many had Doors.  Doors were add on third party modules that let visitors interact with the system and with others in different ways.  Some would let you do things like bank unused minutes (with only one, maybe two modems, most BBS limited your online time so as to ensure fairer access), or send messages all across the country through BlueWave, a store-and-forward type e-mail system.  Like the current postal service, all the messages would be gathered together, and in the middle of the nights, systems would dial into each other and pass messages around like pony express.  Turn around time was typically a day, maybe two if a link was offline.

And many BBS’ had games.  Multiplayer games, although, again, with most local BBS only having the one modem, they were asynchronously multiplayer.  And me living in a larger local exchange, I had access to dozens of local systems.  The only cost was my time, and the $15/month we spent on a second phone line.  So I was a regular member of half a dozen or so systems, and most every day after school, I’d spend some time dialing around my regular list.  If one was busy I’d move on to the next, and return later, etc.  I wasn’t big into the discussion forums or the file exchanges, but I did play the games.  I had my favorites, and the popular games would find their way into almost every BBS.  Tradewars 2000, Exitilus, and the ever ubiquitous Legend of the Red Dragon (LoRD).

All of the above has been windup and warmup.  Yesterday I discovered that someone has made a web based remake of LoRD called Legend of the Green Dragon.  And it’s an open source project, fully with the intention that people can download and run their own game servers.  How could I resist?  So yesterday I spent some time installing it, adding modules, configuring, and setting it up.  And now I invite you to dabble around.  For anyone who has played Kingdom of Loathing, you’ll probably recognize the influence this game had on that.  You can find the game running at logd.lebor.net… , and it’s open for anyone to sign up and play.  You are welcome to come join me as I delight in the fact that good games never die, they just get remade by dedicated fans…

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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Seen on the side of a bottle of Poland Springs ‘fruit a’peel’ spritzer:

WARNING: Spritzers under pressure. Point away from people you like. If you like my bubbles keep me cool.

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

<--

Jun. 4th, 2008 10:41 am
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The downside to me having more than one blog now… ok, well, the downside for you, is that occasionally, I am going to stand on this box and tell you to go look at me standing on that other box.  Like now.  I just finished posting about one of the ways the subprime lending affects me in a professional capacity, and not just me, but millions of others.  I think it’s worth me coming over here to point interested parties to the post over there.

chadberg.edublogs.org…

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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As part of an ongoing project at work, I’ve started up a new blog over at chadberg.edublogs.org… .  What better way to make sure I’m fully familiar with the tool than to use it?  That’s a bit of a misdirection though; it’s a customized WordPress solution, so I’m already very familiar with the core.  But I do need to be familiar with the custom changes made for educational purposes.  So over there I’ll be blogging about my professional world (is that ‘plogging’?).

I’ve only a couple of posts there at the moment, but more in draft form.  Interested parties are welcome to subscribe.  Uninterested parties are too, but I don’t know as that will happen.  Bizarrely interested people are welcome to subscribe to that one and unsubscribe from this one.

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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Does anyone need a small laser printer?

I’ve come into an extra HPLJ 1200, and as I already have a small laser printer, thought I would see if someone else was interested in it.

If you’re curious, yes, it is B&W only.  Yes, it has USB.  Yes it is compatible with your OS.

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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Sci-Fi channel is running their new mini-series version of Andromeda Strain starting on Monday.  Previews look pretty good.

Just a note so interested parties can set their TiVos.

Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.

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