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While speaking with Juniper’s Technical Assistance Center:

(Indian accent)

“Hello, David? Yes, I have spoken to my senior engineer and we have confirmed that things are just going weird….”


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regarding her not-yet-2yr-old brother, Santi…

Bri: I think he’s got some weird instinctual knowledge of who is related to him because he never flirts with girls who are related to him…

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Bri wanted me to quiz her on her spanish….

Dave: How do say arms??

Bri: …..ummm….I’m not good with my appendages……

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As I commented to Luis the other night, I noticed that the Puerto Rican flag at El Morro in San Juan underwent an interesting change sometime between 2002 and 2007.

Notice that the flag displayed in 2002 used a dark blue triangle….

El Morro 2002

El Morro 2002

When I returned to Puerto Rico last year, we again visited El Morro and I took a similar photo. But it wasn’t until later that I realized the PR flag now in use has the light blue triangle.

El Morro 2007

El Morro 2007

For those who are unaware, the light blue triangle is the original design, from 1895. It was based on the Cuban flag, which was in turn based on the US flag. For the colonial authorities (first the Spanish then the Americans) it came to represent the spirit of revolution and was thus banned on the island. When Puerto Rico became a Commonwealth of the US in 1952, it was adopted as the official flag of Puerto Rico, with one important change. The blue triangle was darkened to match that of the US flag.

Fast forward to the present, and the dark triangle is commonly regarded as representative of the statehooder sentiment, while the light blue triangle is that of the independence movement.

In 1995, the official flag of Puerto Rico was reverted to that of the original design. I can only assume that the flag at El Morro was eventually changed for this very reason, but I thought it was interesting nonetheless.

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Since I upgraded to Ubuntu Hardy, I´ve had nothing but heartache when trying to play DVDs with VLC. Specifically, no matter what Audio Settings were used, there was no sound during playback. I am aware that Hardy has a new default sound server, Pulse Audio, and that there have been a fair number of issues. In fact, I myself had to make a change to the default sound settings, under System > Preferences > Sound. In order to enable system sound, I had to change everything from Automatic to ALSA.

I found all sorts of solutions, but none of them worked for me. One person said his problem was resolved by installing vlc-plugin-alsa while setting the ´Output Modules´ setting (visible by enabling ´Advanced Settings´) to ALSA. Given my previous issue, mentioned above, I thought this would be my fix, but again, no joy.

Then, I ran across a blog post in which the author aired his gripes with PulseAudio. Deep in the comments, a Pulse Audio developer explains the root of the problem; while doing so, he mentions a workaround: ´libflashsupport´. That was my fix! As it turns out, Ubuntu has the fix available via a package. It appears that the VLC dependencies haven´t been updated to include it.

As far as the problem was concerned, it never occurred to me that whenever I tried to run VLC, I´d also had Firefox open, which, due to issues with Flash 9, allowed YouTube or some other flash-dependent website to block access to my soundcard. Grrrr.

Since, he explained it a hell of alot better than I ever could, I´ll quote him directly:

This error is basically pulse saying it cannot open the front:0 device as it is in use by another application (e.g. something else has claimed exclusive access to the h/w). Pulse may indeed grab the audio hardware but alsa should be configured to route the “default” device via pulse and everything works as expected with all apps having access to audio “hardware”.

Pulse is not able to “lock your audio to the firefox stream” but if Firefox is eating all the streams, then this is probably an issue with an old version of Flash plugin which used the ALSA API totally incorrectly (opening as many connections as possible!). This has been fixed in newer flash plugins but the pulseaudio community also worked around this bug (in a closed source app!) via the libflashsupport plugin API. So the community has done everything they can to ensure this isn’t a problem.

Anyway, long story short, if you´re running Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) and having an issue with sound in VLC, close Firefox and try again. If you then get sound, you need to install the package ´libflashsupport´.

apt-get install libflashsupport

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While I was traveling recently, I checked my voicemail to find this gem from my girls (and boy)…..

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Overheard in a lobby while onsite:

“If I don’t do Vegas, then I’ll do Rhode Island….”

Don’t go crazy, dude.

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No, not “Goooooaalllll!”. Though the European Cup in Switzerland was an unbelievable experience, that isn’t the topic of this post. I will make a genuine attempt to get photos and video from this year’s trip to Europe online soon.

Rather, the purpose of this post is to put to paper (or keyboard) my thoughts on some of my goals. I’ve been giving them quite a bit of thought lately while trying to formulate a strategy for tackling them. I’m only going to lay them out briefly right now; I’ll elaborate on how I plan to progress toward each specific goal in posts to follow. I haven’t exactly shared these with anyone, so this is an attempt at “going public”, so to speak, as a psychological tool. By posting them here, I’m hoping to put some pressure on myself to commit and follow through. As usual, your thoughts and comments are invited and appreciated.

In no particular order…..

1. Get in shape!

I enjoy running. I really do. But you couldn’t tell by the shape I’m in right now.

As I’ve mentioned to several people by now, Jen and I plan on running the Hartford HALF Marathon this October. We’ve got two months to get ready. I did run two miles after work once this week. But we need to get on the ball if we hope to finish a 13 mile run.

Since I’m a geek, I plan to bring technology into play. I’m considering either a keyring GPS unit to carry along on runs or the Nike+/Apple training tool. These will help to track our progress by allowing us to record distance and pace. The GPS unit would add route mapping to the mix.

More on this to come….

2. Get better at guitar!

Technically, I’ve been taking lessons for three years now. That is to say that I started lessons toward the end of 2005, although there were some issues and it was very off and on for some time. However, to listen to me play would lead one to believe that I’ve been playing for far less than that. I’m just not very good.

To be fair to myself, I need to point out that I’ve never been particularly good at music or anything creative. It’s a (HUGE) weakness of mine of which I am perfectly aware. My mind works technically. Or, logically, as I like to tell Jen. To me, music seems to work in a way entirely counter to the way I think.

I’ve resisted the conventional route of learning guitar. There are a couple reasons for this, but I’ll go into them later. For now, I’ll just admit that I need to get more organized with regard to a practice routine. Rather than playing around with the songs and/or rhythms I want to learn, I need to go back to the basics and get the technical bits down.

Did you catch that?? Yes, I’m confessing that I’ve taken the wrong approach. The conventional approach that I resisted IS technical. And boring. But I need to suck it up and practice, practice, practice the technical boring bits if I ever hope to progress to the point where I allow myself to play in front of someone other than my immediate family.

Enough on that for now….

3. Improve my spanish!

I’m Puerto Rican. (Boricua!) But during my childhood, I heard more spanish than I spoke. As a result, I can understand a fair amount of spanish, but I suck at actually having conversations. It isn’t beyond my reach, mind you; it has more to do with my level of confidence and my self-consciousness with regard to mistakes. In other words, the problem is in my head.

It’s high time I correct this issue.

There are many other elements to this particular goal, some of which I don’t plan to discuss yet. However, I’ll elaborate more in the follow-up posts.

Hmmm. While I’m at it, I’m going to throw another one out there.

4. Improve my writing!

It takes me a REALLY long time to put thoughts to paper. Errr, keyboard. An embarrassingly long time.

Much like my spanish problem, I think the solution lies in my own willingness to actually engage the part of the brain responsible for this sort of exercise. With that in mind, I plan to post regularly on each of the goals outlined above in the hope of not only moving toward those goals, but also improving my ability to write in a structured and coherent manner.

Thanks for reading this far. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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