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Saturday, January 31, 2009

After so long...

It's been, what, a week or two since I last did a podcast?

I think maybe it's due to the disastrous nature of the harddrive dying, but I'm hesitant to start podcasting again.  I was kind of "on a roll" there for a while, planning on doing podcasts every day.  Now that I've essentially lost my usual tools and files and whatnot for doing shows, I'm a little scared to get started again.

Got to.  Made some commitments I gotta live up to.  But man, it's hard to get started again.  Everything I did pretty much automatically I have to think about now, to find work-arounds and such.

This is hard.  And it didn't used to be hard.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Back... Mostly...

Okay, I'm back.  More or less.

I went out and bought a new harddrive ($90 or so) and an external USB-SATA thingie to put the old drive in.  Unfortunately, the old drive is so fouled up, the main partition can't be opened when it's in the external thing.  I could let Spinrite try to recover the data -- but I've tried that a few times, and the most favorable estimate Spinrite's given me says I'd have to completely tie up my only decent computer, my newer laptop, for a week or two so Spinrite could finish the recovery process -- and even then, there's no guarantee I'd be able to get to the important data on there.

In an ideal world, I'd have an extra computer able to accept a laptop-size SATA drive and boot from a CD that I could just let run for the necessary week or two.  I have no objection to tying up the drive or Spinrite; the drive is broken anyway, and that's what Spinrite is for.  But I simply can't function without my only decent computer.  That just ain't happenin'.

Since it's a Dell I got at BestBuy, I talked to the GeekSquad folks when I was up getting the new drive.  I think they'd try to recover my data if I gave them $100 or so, if I understood them correctly.  And in an ideal world, that, too would be no big deal.  Being laid off, that's a whole lot of money to me.  And they couldn't guarantee anything for the $100, either, i don't think.

Vitally important stuff, but what can I do?

Meanwhile, did a fresh install of Vista to the new drive (320 Gig Segate replacing the broken 250 Gig Western Digital), did all 74 updates, installed Firefox, Audacity, AVG Free, Mercury, Pegasus, Twhirl, Levelator, everything I could remember that I've been regularly using.  I copied the Firefox Profile from my aged Win98SE laptop, so I got back at least my longest-standing website passwords and what-not; the others I had to dig out of my own memory.  Lost all my pre-recorded intros & extros, so I'll either rebuild those or maybe surgically extract them from past shows.  It's digital, shouldn't lose that much quality.

Now I worry constantly that something else'll break on me.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Most stuff down due to broken laptop

Okay, so here's the situation as it stands.

Friday night I went out to Champs as I often have. I brought along the laptop, as I usually do. Stuck around till closing, about 1:30 am, ditto.

Was calling a cab via Skype. Bartender gets impatient, slams the laptop closed.

Saturday morning, the computer is no longer bootable. According to Spinrite, booted from a CD I luckily already had, the harddrive is badly damaged and needs to be replaced. Started Spinrite trying to recover the data. It's been 76 % done since yesterday, and doesn't seem to be doing much in any kind of a hurry.

The laptop has:

My mailserver, so I'm having trouble receiving email;
Skype, so I can't get calls at that 218-206 number;
Audacity, and all my prerecorded source files, so I can't produce more podcasts;
Essentially everything else that allows me to do anything anywhere online.

I'm typing this on my aged Toshiba Satellite 320CDT, which was already failing, which was why I needed the new Dell Inspirion 1525 in the first place. I can slowly finagle my way into most of my online accounts, but most of my tools for quickly accessing them won't work on this old Win98SE machine. The stuff that was already working online, the existing podcasts and whatnot, should continue to be available. I managed to scrape together a brief (and damaged) MP3 on this machine and put that in the Grizzly's Growls feed, but that doesn't tell you much.

Given it's already been over 24 hours since Spinrite started, I don't expect any joyful news about that harddrive, so that'll need to be replaced. How I don't know. Since I'm permanently laid off from work, I don't have money to spend on new harddrives. And then I'd still have to find a way to get the data off the old one and onto the new one. Seems like that won't be an issue for a while, huh?

What little I had going job-hunting-wise was also, of course, via the now-broken laptop. This old thing, well, assuming I can remember the passwords, nothing's gonna be happening in a hurry. Certainly no Twitter & such.

What can I say, I'm dependent on technology. When it breaks, I'm stuck.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

I gotta wonder...

So, if I went back to the Androy Hotel, in Superior WI, to sing Karaoke, would the Night Auditor still be mad at me, and refuse to let me use "his" bathrooms?  I miss singing at the Androy, I miss Jon B and the whole gang.  But hey, at my age, I can't go to a bar where they won't let me pee.

Not like I did anything weird in the bathroom, just some ill will between me and their Night Guy.  Gotta suck, sometimes, being the night guy for a hotel, with a bar, and the best-known after-bar breakfast restaurant in the area.  So yeah, I feel his pain.  But no, I never threw anything at him. 

I was sitting on the sidewalk out front, waiting for my cab home.  I tossed a burned-out cigarette butt on the sidewalk, it bounced, and (he contends) it hit him.  Okay, fine, I was  drinkin', whatevah.  And yeah, we'd just had a political argument.   Arguing seems to have been the default behavior, under the previous administration.

I'm just sayin'.

So, do I go back to my favorite, and primary, karaoke bar, at the Androy, or not?  I'm getting kinda tired of the whole thing.  I miss the place.  I miss Spring -- but that'd be a whole 'nother blog-post.  Hell, a whole 'nother blog.

Anybody help me out here?


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A dilemma, but a GOOD dilemma

I just got myself all twisted up every-which-way.

On Monday, the first episode of my next book for Stories from the Hiber-Nation, "Flatland: a Romance of Many Dimensions," popped up on the feed.  This is fine.

Also on Monday, the nice folks at the ET Seton Institute said it'd be real nice to have an audio version of the first story from Seton's "Wild Animals I Have Known," entitled "Lobo, King of the Carrumpaw," also available on that player thingie they set up for the first two books I recorded.  This was kind of urgent.  They're now getting much more traffic, because PBS did an episode of their series "Nature" called "The Wolf that Changed America," about Seton, and about "Lobo, the King of Carrumpaw."  Their show was narrated by F Murray Abraham, which frankly left me feeling a bit intimidated.  But I think I do a much better Ernest Thompson Seton.  ;-)

So all day Monday, I vascillated over what to do: record "Lobo" alone, as a side project; stop "Flatland" and record "Wild" entirely, including Lobo; wait till after Flatland (sometime in February) to record Wild/Lobo (figuring out some way to get the file to the Institute); do one section of each book on alternating days; ramble in circles and mumble to myself...

I chose the ramble-and-mumble option.  Thus, I still hadn't made a decision by the time the first part of Flatland posted on the feed.  Didn't want to do Lobo without adding it to the feed.  Didn't want to add it to the feed without doing the whole book.  Didn't want to interrupt the feed after one part of Flatland.  But...

Today, finally, I made a decision, which I didn't finish till just now (3:00 am Wednesday).  Like everybody else, I spent Tuesday watching Inauguration-related stuff (Yay Us!).   Tuesday evening, I took down the two following episodes of Flatland, and stuck them away for future reference.  And tonight, I recorded, edited and posted the first part of "Wild Animals I Have Known," including "Lobo."  (One of the best readings I've done IMHO, but there's a slight audio flaw the source of which I only figured out after I'd recorded, edited, and uploaded the show.  Oh, well.)

So now, I have the first part of Flatland up Monday evening, nothing Tuesday, and the first part of "Wild Animals I Have Known" will be dropping around 6:00 pm tonight.  And I'm still not sure what to do after that.  Marginal plan, with which I'm still uncomfortable:  Leave Flatland on hold (wasn't enjoying it as much as I thought), finish "Wild Animals," and come back to Flatland after that, around the end of next week.  Or just drop Flatland as a bad idea -- even though I sort of got the idea from Spider Robinson's podcast.  Not his fault, though.

Still feels all fouled up.

But it's sure nice to have the problem of a request for a show, and the possibility of more people hearing My Stuff!

More such problems, please!  Thanks!


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's All Still There

Here's my favorite quote from the Inaugural Speech today:

"We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished."


I recall years ago a work of fiction about the Stock Market, where an expert pointed out exactly that about the Depression.  The day after Black Friday, all the wealth and resources and industrial capacity, all the work ethic and talent and imagination were still there.  Only one thing changed; faith in the economy.  The numbers we used to measure wealth changed drastically.  A whole structure based on borrowing money to lend money collapsed.  But the real wealth was still there.

As Franklin Roosevelt said, "The only thing we have to fear is, fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror..."  It is not entirely unreasonable to be fearful about what one has in the way of income at the moment.  I know the feeling well, since I am currently unemployed.  But the economy overall is stopped up because of unwillingness to spend money, out fear.  I sometimes wish I'd been more fearful before the recent troubles, and stashed away something for this Rainy Day.

But I expect in a handful of months we will see far more recovery in the economy than has been predicted so far.  I expect to be employed again by sometime in June at least.  In what, I don't know; there isn't much going on up here in the Great White North lately.  But there will be something.

That's my forecast for the economy.   Bets, anyone?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Something Really Cool!

Just got some excellent news!

I got word today from one of the folks at the ET Seton Institute website, that they've put up my two readings of Ernest Thompson Seton books via a Flash player on their website, on their Audio Books page.  I consider it quite an honor to have such an organization express their appreciation of my work by making it part of their own webpage.

I gather that they're seeing a surge in traffic now, due to a recent PBS program on Seton.  This may in turn lead to more traffic to my sites.  I think I better dust things off a bit, maybe vacuum the rugs, water the plants...

Cool, huh?


Saturday, January 17, 2009

"You're gonna miss this..."

Yeah, that's from a country song.  Lots of very sad stuff in country songs.

I'm going through what appears to be a bad time in my life.  I'm unemployed, the economy is in the toilet and is liable to be there a while, I don't have any specific prospects, and each thing I've tried so far has come to an unexpected stop.

And yet, I think back.  There have been quite a number of times everything has gone to hell in my life.  (I'm sensing a pattern here.)  Anyway, sure, the times that sucked, sucked.  But also there were aspects of each that were not that bad, and maybe even good.

When I was unemployed and living more-or-less in the streets of Albuquerque, at least part time, sure that was miserable.  But I also was living in one of the most beautiful cities in the country, and even in winter, it wasn't Minnesota (he says while there's -50F windchill outside).  I could travel all around town on my bike, even in winter.  And as it turned out, one place lots of us street people hung out was the excellent public library down there.  I did like having plenty of time to read.

A job would have been nice, of course.

When I was living in a motel in Ypsilanti, Michigan, I had one of the best-paid jobs I've ever had in my life.  I lived in a little motel room, but that was all I really needed, and it was a bit bigger than the space where I spend most of my time now.  Guys like me prefer small spaces.  And if I wanted to go out, I was a five-minute walk from a decent if rough little bar where they had kareoke on Thursdays and Fridays.  Not much was expected of me, and certainly nothing I couldn't handle.

I was spending more than half of my pay on rent, and I still haven't anywhere near come back financially.  But yeah, that was good in some ways.

Bottom line, the worst of times were, in some ways, still good.  And in some ways I miss those simpler times.  I'd like to live in one of those simpler times without being unemployed and broke and in fact deep in debt sometime.

So I ask myself, what about this time of my life I'm going to miss.  I suppose there's this.   Sure do have lots of time to blog, right?  Lots of time to podcast, too -- though I haven't been keeping up on that.  While I like recording while I'm doing it, I have trouble getting started doing that.  I gather they call that "Executive Dysfunction."  Could be laziness, too.  But I can start out the day fully intending to get one small thing done, and end up starting a dozen other things, not finishing one, and never quite starting on my original goal.  That's kinda how the podcasting stuff's been going lately, too.

So, why will I be missing this time later?  What's good about these times?

I only hope we won't all be missing these times, because later it gets much worse.

"You're gonna miss this.."

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Greatest Thing that Almost Happened

I almost got some good news out of being laid off from my job.  Almost.

Since my employers are completely leaving the state, I'm officially a Displaced Worker.  And since I'm a Displaced Worker, there's a Program that would pay for me to get an education in something different.  Maybe even, something I'd actually enjoy doing for a living.  That'd be pretty much a first.

And what would be the perfect career education for an inveterate podcaster?  How 'bout "Media Studies and Production?"  Sound perfect, right?  Not something I've done before, but something I damn well ought to be good at, after all.

And for just a little while there, I was supposed to be starting school for exactly that.  Today.  All paid for, all set but the paperwork.  Checked with several different people, everyone said it certainly could be done.  Till this weekend.

Apparently, early in the week there were openings.  Now there aren't.   They say I can start school in the Fall, if I wanna.

Of course, my unemployment runs out in June.

So, the most likely result is that I'll end up in another half-assed job for too little money, with nothing better coming because by modern standards, I have no education whatsoever.  And by the time fall rolls around, because I'm a loyal employee, even in sucky jobs, and because as an Aspie I don't cope well with change EVER, I'll probably just stay there.  Or the program that's supposed to pay for alla that education will be eliminated due to the economy -- even though it exists because of the economy.

I need to do something now.  And they won't let me.  I could, of course, go to school for some other job.  Just at the moment, I can't think of any I'd actually want.  Nothing that'd compare with what I actually want to do.

I'm sure you're thinking, I should Think Positive.

Like the fella said, "Why think positive?  Wouldn't work, anyway."


And this will probably be another week when I won't do a podcast.  I put the last one on hold, because I wanted to talk about my exciting new educational stuff.  Now it's not happening.  Now I'm sad.  And I really don't feel like talking about that.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Microsoft Sidewinder Joystick -- disable the throttle?

I have an unusual problem, and haven't found a solution.  Here's the situation:

I'm running 32-bit Vista.

I have a Microsoft Sidewinder Joystick.  It's the cheap one, that's just marked Microsoft Sidewinder, Part No. X05-63895.   No Force Feedback, not a Precision2, just the relatively plain-vanilla USB joystick.  Eight buttons, throttle on the back.

Cost me $1 US.  Nice.  Clean.  Shiny.  Works fine.

I have a Belkin Nostromo N50 Game contoller.  The left-hand thingie.  Got the Belkin software/drivers installed, those also work fine.  The Belkin also has a throttle, or a wheel that can be used as one.  I want to use that, not the throttle on the Sidewinder.

If it matters, I'm using both of these on "NASCAR Racing 1999 Edition."  Yeah, it's an old game, but I enjoy it.

So, what I want to do is disable the throttle on the Sidewinder, so I can use the throttle on the N50.  I've done a bunch of Google searches, not quite sure what I'm searching for.  The Sidewinder installs as an 8-button, 3 axis game controller, which is what it is.  Basically, the joystick itself shows up as Joystick 1 for purposes of the game I'm trying to play, and the throttle shows up as Joystick 2 X-axis.  Pretty conventional.

Thing is, because the throttle is there, Vista never gets as far as recognizing the throttle on the N50 even exists.  Vista doesn't (apparently) give the option Win98 did, of installing the joystick as a 2-axis controller, so the throttle is ignored, as I used to do on my old machine.    Did I miss that somewhere in there?

One thing I tried in the Game Controllers screen is to set the N50 to be the Primary controller.  That should (theoretically) make the throttle Joystick 1 X-axis, and the Sidewinder joystick part X-Y for Joystick 2.  I could live with that.  Seems to have no effect at all, though.

Is this happening because of the installed Belkin drivers?  Maybe those drivers force the N50 to be the secondary, which puts it "behind" that throttle?  My next experiment will be running the game without the Belkin drivers loaded, so the Nostromo appears to be just another game controller.  Hmmm...

Any ideas?  I did find Nova on Sourceforge, which looks like overkill since I have working Belkin drivers.  It's supposed to be a substitute for the Nostromo Loadout and Profile managers provided by Belkin.  It was intended for back when the Belkin software didn't work in Vista, and just leaves the N50 driven as a conventional joystick, overlaying macros driven by the conventional game controller drivers.

This really oughta be simpler than it's turned out to be so far.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

When a Plan Comes Together

The other day, my friend Randall Head posted a short story he'd written in a group we've been hanging out in for what, a decade or two?  Anyway, he didn't think it was a big deal.  But I read it and thought, "This reads like Flash Fiction."  So I asked him if I could record it and/or submit it to someone else's podcast.  He said I could do what I wanted with it.  Didn't seem terribly enthused; people who know me personally don't expect much from me as a podcaster, so they usually don't go and listen to my shows.

So, I recorded "The Meat," Randall's Flash Fiction story, as Episode 46 of "Stories from the Hiber-Nation."
  I came up with the title myself, since it didn't have a title.  I'd have to say, the rest of the story is much better than the title.  And I thought the recording turned out well.

He apparently loves how it turned out, which pleases me no end.  (Didn't get him anything for Christmas, after all.)  And he told all his friends, and they liked it.  Even prompted a nice comment from a well-known poet friend of his, who I'd never heard of, but I don't know many poets.  Fella was nominated for a Nobel Price for Literature, and he liked it.  That was nice.  And getting other favorable comments on the show, including folks who've known me for a while, listening to my shows for the first time, just because of this story.

I like how it turned out, as I said, and I recommend it for your consideration.  Randall's writing is better than my reading, though he apparently thinks it's the other way around.  Judge for yourself.   In any case, he's a very good writer.

It's been up for 3 days now, and it's been downloaded 40 times.  That's a Big Deal for a little show like mine.

I like doing that sort of thing for friends.  And I like to have good stories to read new stories.  Don't get to do much of that.

So listen, and tell me what you think, okay?  I'll pass any comments along to Randall, too.



Friday, January 2, 2009

[podcasters] [Fwd: Plea for boat storage]

Thought I'd pass this along to see if anyone has any suggestions. Boat storage here in Minnesota would be decidedly unhelpful, right? So it's not exactly my area of expertise.


-------- Original Message --------


Needs help does anyone have any connections? We may need to try and make
some calls to media..


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Plea for boat storage
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 2009 11:50:05 +0000
From: Roz Savage <>
To: Todd Cochrane <>

Hi Todd

Hope you are now well recovered from your epic podcast marathon - and
from New Year celebrations!

I'm really hoping you can help me. I urgently need to find covered
storage for my boat in Kailua or Honolulu. She is currently on the
North Shore on an exposed site, and she is getting absolutely trashed
- plus my electrician is threatening to quit because it is such a long
drive for him from Kailua and sometimes when he gets there he can't do
any work because it is raining....

Might you be able to put out a plea through your website, podcast,
whatever. I've attached a flyer that I've had put on some yacht club

Am really hoping you can help. I'm desperate!


Roz Savage
Eco-Adventurer, Writer, Speaker

2006 Atlantic Solo Row from Canaries to Antigua
2008 Pacific Solo Row (Leg 1) from California to Hawaii
2009 Pacific Solo Row (Leg 2) from Hawaii to Tuvalu
2010 Pacific Solo Row (Leg 3) from Tuvalu to Australia

m: +1 541 399 0339 (US)
m: +44 7808 719881 (UK)

Episode Zero -- A Minor Local Celebrity

With "Meditation Impromptu" by Kevin MacLeod Originally posted to Libsyn under my original setup around 02/2007.  When I ran out ...