The Blog of Maxim Porges

Archive for October, 2008

  • Welcoming Brian LeGros

    We were honored to have several really solid candidates apply for the most recent opening on my team at Highwinds, but in the end we could only choose one. Brian LeGros joined us today as a Senior Software Engineer.

    I have known Brian for a few years, and his contributions put him head-and-shoulders above the rest of the pack on my technical leadership/architecture team at CFI, where we worked together for about eighteen months. Unfortunately, the commute became a bit much, at which point Brian took a position at a company much closer to home. Brian’s also a veteran of FCE, where my other team mates Russ and Mario worked for several years, so his arrival today was a reunion on multiple fronts.

    Brian brings an awful lot to the table in terms of… well, pretty much everything that contributes to successful software development, so we’re thrilled to have him aboard at Highwinds. I’m glad we were able to work out a scenario where he could work remotely most of the week, making the commute to Winter Park much less of a barrier.

    Brian spent most of his first day drinking from the Highwinds fire hose as we brought him up to speed on the StrikeTracker development environment and our way of working. He’s also piloting a Mac for the first time, which always proves interesting for the rest of us. Don’t worry Brian; it only takes about two weeks to forget the ways of Windows, and then you’ll wonder why you ever used a non-*NIX OS for development.

    We’re about to do some major work on StrikeTracker to prepare for an ambitious roadmap we recently laid out for 2009, and I know from experience that Brian’s presence will make for a much better product. We’re budgeting for my team to grow yet again by several positions next year, so keep your eyes on my blog if you are interested in joining the Highwinds team in the future!

    2008.10.13 / 3 responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • It’s a Shame About McCain

    So, having watched the second presidential debate this week, I feel a little better about the positions/policies of each candidate. For whatever reason, I think the town hall-esque environment seemed to work better for getting the candidates to speak to the questions posed to them (no matter how oddly twisted it was compared to the typical town hall affairs). Maybe it was the fact that they were responding to regular old citizens instead of news anchors.

    Anyway… throughout the debate, I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell was going on with John McCain. As I stated in my last post on the subject, I had always liked John as a senator after becoming aware of him for the first time during his 2000 presidential race. Whenever I saw him on TV in the years after, he was calling people from both sides of the aisle to the carpet when they acted out, speaking his mind, and generally acting like the kind of guy I wished all politicians could be.

    And then John decided to run for office again in 2008. At first, I was happy – this would be his last shot considering his age, and since I had liked him in 2000 I expected to like him just as much now (if not more). At first, he was almost dropped from the race, and then made a resounding turnaround earlier this year.

    It was at this time that I began to wonder where the old John McCain had gone. Instead of the guy I was used to, here was somebody who seemed uneasy when speaking in public, didn’t seem to know what he stood for, and continuously seemed to tow the party line regardless of its stance in a way I have never seen him do in the past. It’s only gotten worse in recent weeks, ever since his dubious move of adding Palin to the ticket – a move whose only discernible motive seems to have been to sway Hilary Clinton supporters. I know how terrible that sounds and I hope it’s not the case, but having watched her intently the last few weeks I can’t see many other qualifications.

    So, coming back to John – what happened? I think I have figured it out. I’m probably wrong, but I figured I would share my thoughts anyway. I will personally be very sad if I am wrong after all, because I have always liked John, and if he has really turned in to this new version of himself then we’ve lost a serious asset in our government.

    I think that John decided that with this being his last shot for the presidency, maybe he should listen to the political analysts on his campaign staff. I think they shaped his policy decisions for items that would appeal to the base, over prepped him for the debates, and generally ruled over his campaign to the point where John lost his sense of self and identity. I also believe that his campaign suggested Palin as a game changer; it was a strategic marketing move that would give John a chance to win if it worked, regardless of whether or not John thought she was the best running mate.

    The thing that really solidified this belief for me was how John appeared in the last debate. He seemed like a guy acting out a script, with all the unnatural tendencies and voice pitch that accompanies such a performance. Just watch some video of John when he’s comfortable, like his many appearances on The Daily Show, or occasions when he’s handed somebody their ass in his role on Capitol Hill. Then compare it to his debates; you can immediately see the difference. And while I may not agree with everything Obama has to say or every policy he intends to bring to the office should he win, I at least felt like he was being himself during the last debate.

    I think I saw a glimpse of the old John today in a news clip, when he took the microphone away from a supporter to correct her on the impression that Obama was an arab (although she didn’t seem so sure of this herself as John disagreed with her, funnily enough – it was almost like she was trying to appease the crowd with her statement). No matter how much is at stake, there are limits, and I have a lot of respect for John understanding them and making corrections where necessary. McCain’s camp has been responsible for plenty of character assassination against Obama in recent weeks, and while this may be par for the course in any political race, if it goes too far it may end up with a real assassination instead. God forbid that any president be taken out of office under such circumstances, but I believe there is plenty of intolerance still running amok in this country. It doesn’t take much effort to push serious bigotry to violent action. On that note, since I hail from the country responsible for Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s it is utterly fascinating to me that the USA still has issues with gender and race in its leaders (but I’ll save that for another post).

    It is my hope that John has realized that however this race ends, he should end it with a modicum of his former dignity, and that this is the reason he’s started publicly setting his supporters straight. Regardless of who is elected for the presidency in November, I would have a hell of a lot of respect for that.

    UPDATE: Wow – somebody with far more wit and aplomb than I captures my sentiments perfectly (and backs them with what might be facts).

    2008.10.10 / 1 response / Category: Uncategorized

  • Political Frustrations

    After watching lots of CNBC and political coverage on TV for the last few weeks, there are several things that will drive me to total, irretrievable insanity very shortly.

    - Hearing the terms “Main Street” and “Wall Street” uttered in the same sentence.

    - More video of Sarah Palin winking and playing up the Alaskan accent. I’ve seen plenty of other videos of her where she’s communicated without these affectations, so please – give it a rest.

    - Further rhetoric designed to assuage the anger of the general populace about the economy, as opposed to addressing the actual economic problem itself. Perhaps I’m an idiot, but I don’t see how capping executive pay packages will affect problems with lending; it seems like all that will do is make regular people of more modest means feel like the “bad people” are being punished.

    I’m currently waiting in total apathy for yet another presidential debate, during which I expect both candidates to dance like ballerinas and thoroughly avoid answering any of the questions asked of them. I’ve gathered very little from the debates so far that gives me any further indication of how either candidate intends to run our country; they might as well have not happened. Perhaps we’ll get something worth seeing tonight, but I seriously doubt it.

    Quite frankly, I’ve been really disappointed with both candidates. I thought McCain totally kicked ass when he ran in 2000, but there are no remnants of the former McCain in this shell of a man I now see before me; he seems to have completely lost his take-no-prisoners tendencies (pun intended) in the last 8 years. Obama looked like a serious contender earlier in the race, but is obviously playing it safe this late in the game so as not to give up the slight lead he’s picked up in recent weeks, which seems to have come more from Palin’s and McCain’s public blunders than from any direct action on Obama’s part.

    Admittedly, I haven’t been paying attention to American politics all that much until the last eight years. After all, this will be the first election in which I have the right as a citizen to vote. But it seems to me that it’s been a long time since this country has seen a landslide election as a result of one candidate truly being better suited to run the country than the other. The last two elections seemed to be more about picking the least damaging option from an inherently weak selection, and the latest election seems to be following suit.

    As an independent, it seems to me that many people simply back their party’s candidate without any serious examination of their qualifications, and leave the votes split at almost 50/50. That’s frustrating. Then again, with the offerings we’ve had in the past few years (Bush/Kerry and now McCain/Obama), I’m not sure we’ve had much of a choice. In the absence of candidates with any real substance, mission, or persona, all you have left to guide you is a loose party affiliation based upon some general principles you may agree with for how a country should be run.

    And so, I find myself drawn to choosing my next president for what I consider the wrong reasons, such as “who will screw things up the least?” Although, considering the state of the country today, that might not be such a bad place to start after all.

    Congratulations, mediocrity; if the status quo endures, it seems that you will be the sole winner once again.

    2008.10.07 / 1 response / Category: Uncategorized

  • AT&T Violates OS X License Agreement on National Television

    Well, not really, but the guys who put their most recent AT&T 3G Laptop Connect Card ad are clearly not very detail oriented.

    I just saw their commercial with the Laptop Connect guy and Michael Phelps, where the spokesman challenges Michael Phelps to a race with two laptops. When the spokesman turns his laptop to the camera to show how much faster it is, his knock-off PC laptop is displaying a movie of OS X opening windows in the Mac-only apps Adium and Finder, as well as Safari (although Safari is obviously on both platforms).

    Not only does this kind of discredit the fact that their card might be any faster (since the computer is obviously playing a movie put together by their creative team, which is likely using Macs), but you’d expect AT&T to know that it’s a violation of OS X’s licensing agreement to be installed on a non-Apple PC. After all, they are Apple’s partner for their mobile platform.

    Big duh.

    2008.10.07 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • WDS Problem with Airport Express (6.3 Firmware) and Airport Extreme (7.3.2 Firmware)

    Over the years, I have been through a few wireless routers. I went through two Linksys routers (they seem to have a two year life span before hardware failures), after which I started using an Airport Express. The Airport Express was nice because I could take it with me on vacation/conferences and plug it in to the hotel Internet for strong, instant wireless signals. Then the Airport Extreme came out, with Airport Disk, ability to backup wireless clients over Time Machine, etc., so I picked one of those up.

    To maintain my existing investment in the Airport Express, I set up a WDS network. This allowed me to have my Extreme in the upstairs office and my Express in the living room. The Express both extended the wireless network signal and provided a way to stream music to my entertainment system from any computer in the house (great for parties).

    However, since upgrading my Extreme to the 7.3.2 firmware, I have had issues with my WDS network. The network will connect, disconnect, connect, disconnect, over and over again. The wireless signal to the Extreme is not affected, but the signal to the Express comes in and drops out over and over. Looking in the Airport Extreme logs, I was getting the message
    “Authenticating with station xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx” followed by “Deauthenticating with station xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx (reserved 2)”. I could also see that there seemed to be a third wireless client trying to connect to my network and failing, so it’s possible that interference from this network is confusing my Extreme.

    Anyway, I didn’t really need the wireless network extension – the Extreme provides a good strong signal all over the house. However, I did want the wireless music streaming capability, which I could no longer have since I couldn’t figure out how to get WDS to work for the life of me. So, I simply switched the config for the Airport Express in the Airport Utility to “Join a Wireless Network” instead of “Participate in a Wireless Network”. I entered the security credentials for the network and rebooted it, and I now have wireless music streaming working again. The Express does not provide any Internet connectivity, however, but since it is on the network, clients connect to the Extreme base station. iTunes will then find the Express and give you the option to stream music to it using Airtunes.

    Not an ideal scenario, but workable. My Airport Express is an old 802.11-G model whose firmware updates stopped at 6.3, and the Extreme base station is an 802.11- N model on the most current 7.3.2 firmware. I could revert the Extreme firmware back to an earlier revision, but then I would be working with dodgy firmware and would lose the ability to do Time Machine backups over wireless, which is a deal-breaker for me.

    If I bought a new Express today it would have the 7.3.2 firmware, and I expect would work fine with WDS again. Alas, I don’t need WDS that much, and don’t feel like spending the money unnecessarily to find out.

    2008.10.01 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized