I’m on vacation and only sorta answering email and I’m away from irc quite a lot.

I am here

Don’t go looking for me. 🙂

Also – thanks to all those who voted and elected me back to the board. I’ll continue my challenge of being a thorn whenever possible and telling Jef to shut the hell up when he’s blathering on. 🙂

ps: love you jef 🙂

fudcon – first night

June 19, 2008

Had dinner with a small group of people then miss chang wanted to go to the harvard bookstore afterward. We mosey over. We walk in and I notice a distinctive looking individual browsing the books. I lean over to Mike McGrath and say “umm, isn’t that richard stallman?”. He agrees it might be. I decide to ask. It is in fact RMS. We say hello and introduce ourselves. Tell him thanks for the things he started, etc. He says if we want to show our thanks we should refer to our work as free software not open source software. Which isn’t an unreasonable request. 🙂

This fits in well with my past experiences in cambridge.

laptop saga end

June 17, 2008

So, after all the mess trying to order a laptop I was contacted by someone from lenovo US. He wanted to know what could be done to retain my business. I told him I liked the laptops over all (if only for the number of mouse buttons) but I was very displeased with the service I was given. I told him, if I find another refurbished laptop to buy, I’d appreciate it if you could do what you can to expedite the shipping so I can get it before I need to leave for fudcon.

So, I found another laptop to buy, bought it, sent him the order information and lo’ and behold the laptop showed up today. I’m rather pleased this occurred and I just wanted to say so publicly. It’s a shame it had to be such a godawful mess to get here but it’s good to have a problem addressed when things do go wrong.

Glancing through dimitris’ photos of linuxtag I see this one:

max at work

and I can only think: “Wow, Max looks like the ceo of a large company giving a talk in front of thousands of rapt customers/devotees”.  Must be nice to be so comfortable. Damn right, max.


June 16, 2008


Originally uploaded by skvidal

About 36 minutes late but I wanted to write something about my dad for father’s day. I got him what he asked for as a present. What I always do. We have a pretty good relationship – no bullshit nor impossible expectations about presents and no having to chase around to find the “right gift” which never is. Just ask him what he wants or needs and acquire it.

I think a lot of people would probably be surprised to hear I talk to my dad about 2 or 3 times a day. He and I are not afraid of phones and are good with very short, very straightforward conversations and telling each other ‘gotta go’ when we do have to depart the conversation.

I’m glad I get to talk to him regularly. He’s been the source of some excellent and not-so-excellent advice over the years. He has a penchant for vinyl windows that I do not share but he is also perhaps the most well listened/read person in the world. (He listens to books on tape nearly all the time due to his job) and he has told me about a neverending stream of things I should read. His interest in reading is what got me reading and I’m quite pleased with that. He acquired for me my first computer(Timex Sinclair – which didn’t take) and my second computer (Dell 286 with 3M of ram – which did take) and that investment paid off well. He’s been a constant and influential part of my life since ever. And in the last 11 years or so since I moved out of the house he’s been a constant part of my phone bill, too. 🙂

Suffice it to say I love him and I hope he had a good father’s day despite having to paint in the new laundry room.

things to not do

June 15, 2008

don’t ever press ‘hibernate’ on your keyboard when you’re only ‘hard drive’ is an sd card and it is 8GB

scribble, scribble, scribble

On the plus side – I’ve setup alpine to handle my email accounts on my slicehost. So I can send and receive email, which is nice. Shockingly email in alpine doesn’t make me cry. It’s weird how much muscle-memory returns using [al]pine. I guess using it for years etched itself across my hands.

I’ve got partial jabber access via gmail – working on more than that now.

Irc was easy once I remembered my frelling dircproxy password. 🙂

and I’ve got a quasi functional system using the usb live key.

There’s also been some progress on my “Trying to buy a new laptop” saga. If things arrive tomorrow (as ups claims they will) I shall update and cry-out triumphantly, or something.


June 13, 2008

I Voted sticker I voted today. How about you?

In amusement: The laptop I wrote about earlier is  now for sale, again, on lenovo’s website. Right down to the model number.

If you’d like to NOT purchase this laptop you can click here.

Staggering work of brokeness.

I finally gave up and bought a new(ish) laptop. I went to lenovo’s refurb’d site and bought a nicely configured x61s on thursday of last week. I didn’t get a confirmation email but I let it ride for a day. I called them on monday to find out the status and see if I could get a shipping tracking number or an estimated ship date. See, I wanted this laptop here before I left for fudcon next week.

So, I call them on monday. I give them my name and order number and they tell me that “You called on friday sir to cancel the order”. Now, I never called on friday (or any other time) and certainly not to cancel the order. I tell them this and ask: If I cancelled it then the laptop is still available? If so, can we just re-place the order? They say they will confirm with inventory  and call me back.

Unsurprisingly, no one called me back.

I call back this morning (tuesday) to find out what the hell. I speak to a different person who tells me the same thing as before, that I cancelled the order on friday (which I did not do) but he tells me inventory claims they still have the laptop. So, I say, great, then let’s order it right now and get it shipped! He says “yes, we can do that.” He puts me on hold for about 15-20s and comes back and says “no, we can’t do that”. He says, he’s trying to find out what happened and could he call me back later? I say, no, that’s what happened yesterday and could I please speak to a supervisor. I go on hold for a bit.

I get a supervisor who does some more research. She tells me that inventory is now telling her that the laptop is NOT available and, in fact, the order has shipped! I say “What? Shipped where?” She says she doesn’t understand this and asks me to hold. I hold. She comes back and says the laptop was ordered by two people at the same time. My order was automatically cancelled b/c apparently mine was the second order. However, no one told me this, no one ever notified me at all. So, I say, since I can’t get that laptop, is there anything you can do for me to get another laptop ordered at that price. She says she’s going to transfer me to a sales person who can help get me a laptop. I transfer to him. He tells me he cannot give me the same price on a similar refurbished laptop – I’ll have to pay MORE for this one. I tell him, that sounds like bait and switch and it sounds a lot like I’m having a scam pulled on me. He offers to give me an employee discount on a new laptop (which will take 3-4 weeks to arrive – which puts it beyond when it will be most useful to me). Furthermore the ‘discount’ he offers me is LESS of a discount than I can get by using the discount that red hat employees get for lenovo/ibm products for personal purchases.

So let me make sure I understand this:

1. I can’t get the laptop I wanted

2. they can’t do anything to help me

3. I’m welcome to buy another laptop, for MORE money

4. no, they can’t get the laptop to me sooner, either.

Now, I ask to speak to another supervisor. He’s less helpful and proceeds to tell me that I cancelled the order on friday and this is my fault. Seriously, this is monumental failure, considering I’d already been told by a DIFFERENT supervisor that this was NOT my fault that it was lenovo’s failure in tracking and inventorying their hardware. Not to mention contacting their customers with problems that have occurred.

I explain to him that since apparently there is nothing they can do for me that will help me in any way whatsoever that I’d just like to get this investigated so it does not happen to another customer. The supervisor I’m speaking with is clearly not listening to me and barely acknowledging my presence on the phone. I say ‘good bye’ and I’m done with it.

I think I’m going to buy a laptop from dell or ebay, at least they can get it to me in a few days rather than a few weeks.

Just for the record, if any lenovo employees would like to research the full details of this massive cluster fuck my order number was/is “141247 10” and it is listed under my name “Seth Vidal”.

Had lunch with a friend last week. We discussed train travel and the excuses we’d heard by people as to why train travel in the US shouldn’t be invested in. One of the reasons often heard is “Distances in Europe between cities are much smaller, so train travel is easier”. So, I decided to look a few up.

Berlin, Germany -> Amsterdam, NL – 656km

Washington DC -> Boston, MA – 712km

Berlin, Germany -> Paris, France – 1055km,

Washington DC -> Atlanta,GA – 1026km

Washington  DC->New York, NY – 362km

London, UK -> Paris, France – 465km

Berlin, Germany -> Paris, France – 1055km,

Washington DC -> Atlanta, GA – 1026km

Now, that covers most of the east coast of the US. The distances are obviously not that untenable at all. It doesn’t cover transcontinental travel. Does that mean the east coast  and west coast (where the greatest density of the US population is) shouldn’t have much more rapid and much more frequent train travel? I don’t think so.