Sunday, November 30, 2008


Hello, all 4 people who have read my BLOG :-) (yeah, I realize that 4 people is an exaggeration...) So, I've run into some free hosting with Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth... and since I've been working with Wordpress instances for work, I've decided to buy a domain and move my blog and take advantage of the vast amount of customizations and complete control I'll have using Wordpress as my BLOG Engine.

Thanks Blogger! for allowing me to 'get my feet wet' and explore this wonderful world of blogging, especially providing an arena for creative and emotional outlet, so much so that my wife has even started a Cupcake BLOG and has found it extremely simple to manage and update. So I will keep this site up as long as Google will let me... but if any of the 4 supporters ;-) wishes to view any of my 'IT RAMBLINGS' or Photography... take a stroll over to the new 'My Electronic Sheep'

-Big A

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Photos: 2008 Chicago Marathon

Here are some photos I took this morning of the 40K+ runners for the 2008 Chicago Marathon...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Follow Up: Comcast Bandwith Limits

So a little over a month ago I hastily wrote about a story how Comcast has officially instituted Bandwidth limits on their customers. Now I am a former Comcast customer who does not believe in certain practices they have instituted officially and un-officially (namely packet shaping their traffic). So now Comcast has enabled 250GB of bandwidth usage, I believe this is for both download and upload traffic. I am an IT professional who works from home and requires a constant connection and I am also an avid video user, I don't have cable TV (litterally I have HDTV 'Rabbit Ears') so I use the various means now available on the internet to catch up on all the new TV shows...

So, the day after I read this story I asked myself this questions... "How much bandwidth do I use?" Is 250GB enough bandwitdh? Is 250GB NOT enough? All decent questions... So I sent out to see how much bandwidth do I require... I have 3 machines in our apartment running all the time:
  • Custom WinXP Gaming Box
  • Dell D630 Ubuntu Laptop
  • Macbook Pro - Leopard
*Side Note: The Wife has completely taken over the Ubuntu laptop... It's new primary purpose in life is Reading, reading Gmail and more recently Google Docs

So a few months back I started a new gig where I need to use my new Macbook Pro as my primary machine, so I decided to use my MBPro as the testing machine. I found this GUI tool called Surplus Meter.

"It measures the download and upload traffic on your Internet connection and keeps a record of your traffic volume. It gives you all kinds of useful output statistics, like daily allowance, average daily usage, accumulated surplus, and more.

Statistics are presented in three ways: simple bytes in/out; summaries of megabytes used and remaining, and graphic meters which display at a glance when you're getting close to exceeding your limit."


Here are my results from last month. Keep in mind that this is not 100% accurate, since I'm only tracking my 1 machine and I used my PC quite a bit till I learned all the nuances of my MBPro...

Data Archive For month ending 2008 October 1
  • bytes down: 46192074205 (44052.2 MB)
  • bytes up: 19269595646 (18376.9 MB)
  • bytes total: 65461669851 (62429.1 MB)
  • Download allowance: 256000.0 MB
  • Unused allowance: 193570.9 MB
Now when I started out with this little experiment I thought 250GB a month was nowhere near enough bandwidth for my needs. I download a ton of .iso files, update my SVN Repo at least 5 times a day, stream music and video almost all day long(obviously not at the same time. And I LOVE PANDORA! But I'll talk about that later). So to realize that I used less than 100GB was a little shocking.

Conclusion: So I work with people all over the world (Canada, Japan, Austria, France, UK, Australia, you get the idea) and appearently Bandwidth limitations are a standard practice. In Canada my co-workers only get 130GB per month, in Austria my buddy is only allowed 60GB!!! Now that is a travesty...

So I'm still not in agreement for bandwidth limitations, esspecially when the Cable market is monopolized here in the states and people are paying $50USD - $120USD per month just for highspeed internet, I realize that 250GB per month is more than adequate... today. Now, in the near future with Cloud Computing and Google igniting the Web Application revolution, companies are going to need to widen the bandwidth pipe so pulling your hair out of your head becasue your only HDD has a 2mm groove track in it, becomes amusing anecdotes of the past!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More Cowbell Dammit!

This is AWSOME! Everybody loves Christopher Walken on SNL during the Blue Oyster Cult Cowbell skit. Actually Walken was on SNL last season and it was somewhat disappointing not having some sort of Cowbell skit. Anyway, I discovered this page this morning via Ars Technica or Digg... honestly I can't remember. But these wonderful people at have come created a sweet flash app that will analyze any mp3 and according to the various mathmatical algorythims will add cowbell and/or Mr. Walken himself to the song.

Here's a track I did this morning (26% Cowbell & 96% Walken) it's a Paolo Nutini track called Jenny Don't Be Hasty.

 Make your own at 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Playing Catch Up - Chicago Lightning Storm

I'm trying to get caught up on my posts... there have been a lot of crazy things going on in my life and the environment around me... So up first

Chicago Lightning Storm - August 2008

There has been some bizarre weather harassing the windy city this year. My tomato plant has taken the brunt of this assault (and is still kicking out sweet cherry tomatoes), hopefully now that the Fall is upon us our poor tomato plant can die in peace. So a few weeks ago we experienced the the craziest, loudest, brightest, windiest storm of my life.

Some time around... I guess celebrity Family Feud might have been on, no wait it... we were watching reruns of Americas Greatest Dog on Hulu... the wifey and I heart that show. anyways... the Tornado Sirens went off, uh WHAT? It's Chicago... CHICAGO! I didn't even know they had sirens in the city, I'm even more suprised that we could hear them. (I have to admit, it was the spouse who made me pause the show, cause she heard something... maybe)

Here is a picture of the storm front... I took this screen shot shortly after the sirens started and the wife bolted for the stairwell, at least she wasn't in her undies:

So, now that I'm officially an 'amateur' photographer, I grabbed my trusty new Nikon D40 and proceeded to snap about 1200 pictures. This is where the 'AMATEUR' status comes into play... I have 1... yes ONE photo of lightning... how can this be? the storm lasted a few hours... this was the best lightning storm of my life and I have one measly photo to show for it... Oh well...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Comcast Bandwith Limits

First, it's been quite a while since my last post.... I have a couple posts I need to do (some photos of the Chicago Airshow, a Crazy lighting storm we had here in Chicago about a month ago, and my new Gig...) so I'll get to those hopefully this weekend...

However, this cannot be ignored!

I saw this on Ars Technica this evening and I am very worried about the future of the internet/ISP in America.

Comcast cable beginning on October 1, will be imposing a bandwidth limit of 250GB per month. Now I realize that this seems like a lot of Data and I'll admit that for most people it will never be an issue. I fear that this is only the first straw in what will become the downfall or 'clamp-down' of internet access accross America. Luckily I have chosen to not use Comcast for my ISP, even though I have used them in the past (and I realize that the througput on my AT&T DSL is not nearly as close to my old cable service) but as a frequent user of the internet (streaming audio & video), a person who downloads movies, music, photography, applications, *nix operating systems and more recently having started working from home; where my livelyhood is completely dependant upon having a constant high speed connection to the internet, I fear that other companies will begin to adopt these types of policies and either cutoff my service once these threashholds are met or charge me even MORE money for additional bandwidth.

I completely understand that I don't have to worry about this since I am not a Comcast customer any longer (nor will I be one EVER again), but this can't be a good thing for the Internet in America. This type of action will eventually affect the growth and innovation of streaming media, leveraging web based applications such as Google Docs, web based data storage (you're going to pay for the storage and the data transfer; it's kinda like gas surcharge)

I'm am going to start tracking my bandwidth on my new Macbook Pro (it's another blog post I've been meaning to get to) which will not take into consderation my Ubuntu Laptop and Windows (Gaming) Desktop, but hey... it's a start. So I would love to see more people make the choice; if it's available to you, to stop using this company and any other company that is making the decision to limit how you use the internet. (wishful thinking... I know, but a 'Girl can Dream' can't she?)

*I would like to note that even though nobody ever reads this, that this is not my best post ever. So I need to Blame Barack Obama, who is giving his DNC Acceptance speech, which I have found to be extremely distracting :-) but I am inspired... Also, BOOO COMCAST!!!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I Love Music... Especially Free Music!!!

A few weeks ago, I started listening to and have rediscovered my love of music... especially free music. So, I took my D630 and plugged it into my receiver when I'm at home, launch FF and jam out during various domicile activities. Here's where my lazy nature comes into play, I'm running the 64bit Ubuntu 8.04 and my flash keep crashing (I need to also add that this behavior is not conducive to watching 'Highlander - The Series' reruns on Hulu), thus initiating the day the music died aura in the domicile.

Yes, I know there is a fix for my flash issue (basically removing flash and installing he 32bit versions etc...) however I know that this project would take me some time to get up and running, and I seriously need to keep watching the Highlander... because we all know 'There can be only ONE!"

Anyway... I decided install the app on my laptop, instead of dealing with the flash issue. Go here to get the package. For 64bit you will need to add the following to your /etc/apt/sources.list

import the GPG key:

wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -

Then add the following to /etc/apt/sources.list

deb debian stable

then you can use the following command to get the app (our just use Synaptic)

sudo apt-get install lastfm
to launch the app type

Now, I also ran into an issue with the sound driver (alsa) I'm not exactly sure what caused this error, I think it has to do with other apps or systems locking alsa driver so that lastfm is unable to use the resource. I recieved the following error:
The ALSA soundsystem is either busy or not present.

And this is how I was able to solve the issue... (solution source HERE & HERE courtesy of UbuntuForums)

Run the following:
sudo aptitude install libasound2-plugins
and create this file ( ~/.asoundrc)
sudo gedit ~/.asoundrc
paste the following and save the file.
pcm.pulse {
type pulse
ctl.pulse {
type pulse
pcm.!default {
type pulse
ctl.!default {
type pulse

Once you're done, launch the lastfm app and you should have a working player! I hope this helps anyone else who is experiencing the same issues.

Discaimer: this solution worked for me and my D630 running Ubuntu 8.04 64bit. This may or may not work for you, if you experience any issues, please search google or use the Ubuntu Forums - they are a god send)