Geekery, Life, Programming

My routine in the morning is simple:

  • Wake around 7:00am.
  • Kiss my wife.
  • Stretch.
  • Feed the cat.
  • Go outside to welcome the day from my view on this little rock in the ocean.
  • Check Hacker News.
  • Shower.
  • Put the kettle on.
  • Water my veggie and herb garden.
  • Make my coffee with the AeroPress.
  • Kiss my wife.
  • Meditate, and/or do the dishes.
  • Ready myself for work.
  • Kiss my wife and tell her I love her.
  • Go to work.
My backyard view.

I like my routine; it works for me. I was never a morning person for most of my life. I was always the one who stayed up late and slept in until the afternoon. I was a night owl; bartender. Late night MMORPG player. Programmer and hacker. The night time was my right time.

Something changed within the last year or so. I don’t know what it was, but things are different now. The day greets me and I am always eager to return the gesture. Maybe I’m just getting older. I am turning 30 in two weeks. I have lots of thoughts and feelings around this. Changes, milestones, and goals are suddenly becoming important to me in ways I never thought possible.

Upon checking Hacker News this morning, a story struck me with joy. The Commodore 64 was turning 30.

I have the logo for the Commodore 64 tattooed, prominently, on my left shoulder. It has been a huge part of defining who I am, as a person, and where my life has taken me. I shared a story with the Hacker News community, in the comments thread, that I feel deserves repeating here, on my blog.

Here goes:

Commodore Logo

I’ve got the logo for the Commodore 64 tattooed on my left shoulder. It began my love of computers at a young age that has been with me for my entire life. I turn 30 in 2 weeks. I feel glad and honored to share a birthday so close to something that has affected my life so much. It’s fun to know we grew up together.

I’d like to share a story with Hacker News about something so dear to my heart.

When I was just shy of 3 years old, my father brought home some greyish-brown television-looking thing. He had purchased it from a co-worker of his, along with a bunch of games on floppy disks and cartridges, a joystick, and a KoalaPad. He turned on the computer, some sounds happened, and a blue screen eventually appeared with a flashing prompt and the word “Ready.”

He fussed through some manuals and papers to find the boot sequence necessary to start something called Jumpman. I watched, in fascination, as he was able to manipulate these things on the screen. Various beeps and boops emitted from the machine and a little stick figure climbed ladders and dodged various objects. He quickly died in the game.

He started to show me other stuff this thing was capable of. KoalaPainter was absolutely wonderful. I could draw and manipulate shapes on the screen as much as I wanted; as if I was using a piece of paper.

He couldn’t get me away from the thing. Eventually, bedtime came around, and I cried as I was torn away from something that I was completely enamored with.

Around 2 or 3 in the morning, my father awoke, hearing weird noises coming from the basement. He groggily stumbled down the stairs and into the room to find his 3 year old son, covered with a blinking glow, sitting at the keyboard. After watching him perform the boot sequence only a couple of times, I had it memorized, had gotten up from my bed, and was sitting there playing games.

Silent Service. Kickman. Heist. These kicked off a long and wonderful obsession with technology, computers and video gaming. They defined who I would be as a child; a self-professed, proud nerd and geek. Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering; the whole nine yards. 286, 386, 486. Oak Technologies. Math co-processors. Sound Blaster. Voodoo. Serial cable LAN parties playing Doom. Betrayal at Krondor. Ultima VI. BBS. MUD. The first time I saw a GIF. Links. The Nintendo Entertainment System.

So many absolutely wonderful memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything. The Commodore 64 was absolutely integral in defining who I have been and who I continue to be. Without it: I have no idea where I’d be in this world.

I’m a software developer now. I’ve been programming since I was in grade school. I picked up a software application development degree just because I thought it may be handy someday. I grabbed a theatre degree, because it was my other passion I discovered at a relatively young age.

Computers have always been in my life, through thick and thin. They always do exactly what you tell them to do. Nothing more, nothing less. Humble machines that push electrons around to provide entertainment, fascination, communication and now, connection.

Thanks Commodore. I owe you one. Happy birthday.

Happy Birthday Commodore 64 Cake

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Geekery, Technology

It is always inspiring to see a geek get his day. I don’t really get into the stock market but seeing the look on Mark Zuckerberg‘s face as pretty awesome. You could almost hear him thinking: “Holy crap, I did this?” I thought he may actually shed a tear. I’m sure I’m not alone in dreaming of being in a similar position some day.

Watch live streaming video from nasdaq at

Geekery, Programming

I love developing with multiple desktops. For a long time I was looking for a solution that would work for me in Windows 7. Some worked, but they all seemed to have difficulties with my terminal windows or just not work very well at all.

I use Cygwin running through mintty for my development in Windows. Because I use Vim for my programming, it’s important that my terminal windows work as I need them to. Why weren’t the various multiple desktop solutions available for Windows 7 able to handle my terminal windows? I tried different programs and eventually wrote it off as there being an issue with how the terminals were running.

Skip forward a few months and I have a few free cycles at work. I decided to give multiple desktops in Windows a try again. I like being able to cleanly switch between my casual web browsing, email, programming, browser, and so-on without having everything on one desktop. I knew there had to be some solution out there that would work for me. I decided to stick with VirtuaWin and figure out, once and for all, how to get it working. Performing the installation process with high hopes, I got things running and decided to give it a shot again. Unfortunately, the terminal windows were still appearing on every desktop.

Altering the options available in VirtuaWin didn’t seem to help and neither did the suggestion in the FAQ:

Some applications refuse to disappear when I change desktop.
Yep. Some applications use a special type of window (ex. Winamp and ICQ). This makes it hard for VirtuaWin to find them. But it is possible to configure manually how VirtuaWin should treat them, see the help about “Window Rules”.

After more Googling, I came across a bug report that seemed an alternative explanation for my problem:

In Windows 7 pro, I work as an unpriviledged user but need to run some applications (e.g. Across) with admin rights. These application windows appear on all virtual desktops which I find highly annoying. When run as mortal user, the window rules I set up work as expected: The application window appears on one desktop only.
Any idea how to persuade applications started as admin user (runas) behave normally?
Thanks & cheers

Because I use Cygwin for many tasks on my computer, I do have it running in administrative mode. After a quick switch for the VirtuaWin shortcut to always run in administrative mode, I found that my multiple desktops were behaving as expected.

Finally, a decent multiple desktop experience in Windows! It isn’t quite as smooth as native implementations in other operating systems, but it’s better than nothing. Hopefully others having this problem will be able to find the solution a bit quicker in the future.

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