August 30, 2005

Hard Times for the Big Easy

Filed under: General,Places — Cory @ 10:32 pm

My former home city is in pretty rough shape right now. I hope all my friends there are safe. If anyone from there reads this please comment here or email me and let me know where you are and the status of things.

There are a lot of news articles out there, but most are reporting the same stuff. Wikipedia has a page about Hurricane Katrina and one covering the aftermath; it is being updated as new information is available. I have not been able to watch any television footage, so when I finally saw a picture of the city it was shocking. Ken just sent me a link to some more pictures, I seriously can not imagine what the city must be like right now.

The Governor has declared martial law in Jefferson Parish to try to curb rampant looting. Quoting Wikipedia:

Though “martial law” doesn’t technically exist in Louisiana jurisprudence, the declaration of a state of emergency gives authorities wide latitude in suspsending civil liberties to mitigate the effects of a disaster.

I really don’t know what to say, this whole thing has be quite disturbed. The first time I ever felt “homesick” was when left New Orleans to move back home to Virginia. I love that city like my home.

Update 1: Apparently DirectNIC is based in New Orleans, and they are still online and operating. The company’s “crisis manager” has been keeping a frequently updated journal/blog of the situation in the city. He is also broadcasting a live webcam feed.

Update 2: Sarah sent me several links to pictures that her friends have taken of uptown New Orleans, mostly along St. Charles Ave: before and after pictures, uptown hurricane damage and flooding. Also, I am working with Robbie on, a site to help people find temporary places to stay.

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August 24, 2005

OMG LOL Google Talk BRB

Filed under: Technology — Cory @ 12:37 am

Yes, I too will blog about Google Talk.

Google Talk is yet another instant messaging service, only this time it is from Google, which inherently makes it cool. If anyone is on this my username is my name (including last name), so feel free to add me if you know those two. (hint: whois) And if you need a Gmail invitation, let me know.

Although it is cool, I am not sure that this is really all that significant. IM is only useful when the people you need/want to talk to are on the same IM network as you. So, unless all my friends jump ship for Google Talk, I probably won’t use it very much. I’ll leave it on for at least the next few weeks to see who shows up.

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August 20, 2005

Corporate Coolness (or Hotness, if you prefer)

Filed under: Books,General — Cory @ 3:19 pm

This past week Rackspace held a “Battle of the Bands” contest, and threw a little party for the occasion. There are pictures available for those interested.

It’s good that the company is still doing things like this. I have found it easy to forgot how much better Rackspace is as a place to work than my previous employers. That’s not to say there aren’t things I would change, but on the whole, I would still choose Rackspace over CACI any day.

Working with smart people every day does wonders for my happiness. In previous jobs, I can remember arguing my reasons for wanting to do the right thing for the customer, and still loosing out to management. If only companies understood what that does to morale. Most people want to do good work, and standing in the way of that usually causes more problems than it solves. In Maverick, Ricardo Semler discusses how he successfully created a flat organizational structure; no middle managers, no secretaries. I wonder what would happen if more companies actually thought about the middle management problem.

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Las Vegas with HSC Friends

Filed under: Friends,Places — Cory @ 2:53 pm

Last weekend, after spending a few days working in Reno, I flew out to Las Vegas to meet up with Andrew, Gerard, and Ben. I was out there two weeks earlier, so I had a pretty good idea of the layout of the town, and felt pretty comfortable getting around.

We stayed at the MGM Grand on the strip, which was really nice (the water in the bathrub actually drained faster than it was coming in – a Las Vegas rarity!). I stayed there when I went to Vegas with my family back in 1995 a year or two after it opened as the largest hotel in the U.S..

Saturday night we had dinner at some ye olde restuarant at The Excalibur. It was an extremely good meal, and for the first time that I can remember, I was the only person at the table who actually finished eating everything I ordered. We finished out the night by wandering around, occasionally playing blackjack, and eventually crashing around 4:30 or 5:00.

The next day we decided to take a trip to downtown Las Vegas. We spent a some time at the $3 blackjack tables at Binion’s, saw the sights, and eventually caught a cab back to the strip. Simply put, don’t ask questions when you meet someone from Eritrea.

All of our flights were delayed that night, and I ended up getting home around 6:30 Monday morning, just in time to completely pass out on my bed. I’ve been struggling to recover all week, which is why I am just now posting an update.

Earlier this week Slashdot covered a story about technology and security in Las Vegas. Interesting stuff, and it really makes you wonder what they aren’t telling.

To sum it all up, I love Las Vegas and am ready to go back whenever you are. :)

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August 15, 2005

Please Take Me Home

Filed under: General — Cory @ 1:50 am

It’s almost midnight (pacific time), flights have been delayed out of Vegas due to weather, and I probably will not get home until around 5 a.m. on Monday morning. I have had 3 hours of sleep since 7 a.m. yesterday morning, and I really really really want my bed now.

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August 11, 2005

Reno, Two Years at Rackspace

Filed under: Friends,Places — Cory @ 4:17 pm

I made it out to Reno today around noon, and will be very busy for the next few days. I’ll be here until Saturday, at which point I will be flying down to Las Vegas to meet up with Andrew, Gerard and Ben for a couple days. WOO!

Two years ago today I started work at Rackspace, it is hard to believe it has been that long.

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August 7, 2005

The Gourds at Gruene Hall

Filed under: Music — Cory @ 2:12 pm

Friday night I drove up to Gruene Hall to see The Gourds. I was excited about this show because it was my favorite band at my favorite venue, and they only play there a few times a year.

The past couples times I have seen the Gourds I have noticed that they were playing more electric/rock style music than before. I know that bands need to play what they like in order to be creative and come up with new material, but I think the Gourds sound much better playing acoustic instruments than they do electric guitars. With the exception of 2 or 3 songs during the encore, Kev played electric guitar for the entire show. It seems to me that the crowd does not get as energized as they do when the guys are rocking out with the fiddle, mandolin and accordian. Anyway, it was still a decent show. I managed to record the entire encore (310MB zipped file), which was 17 minutes long. I have not identified the first song in the video, but after it are “I Like Drinking,” “Bottle and a Dime” and a cover of Merle Haggard’s “The Bottle Let Me Down.” (notice a theme?)

After the show ended I was able to get everyone in the band to sign a picture that Ethan gave me earlier this year. Everyone in the band was extremely cool and had great things to say about the picture, except Jimmy Smith, the bassist, who was drunk and acting the fool. He managed to write some filth on my precious picture, and for that I have placed a curse on him.

On my way home I stopped by the Broadway Bar where Mingo Fishtrap was playing. Mingo just may be the loudest band around, and combined with the fact that they always pack the house, their shows are crazy. I caught a couple songs, bought a cool sticker, then headed home to crash.

I was excited to learn that The Gourds will be playing at the Hot Sauce Festival on August 28th, along with another band I have been waiting to see, the South Austin Jug Band. Anyone else interested in going to this?

• • •

August 5, 2005

High Flyers at Threadgills

Filed under: Music — Cory @ 5:43 pm

Last night I drove up to Austin to see The High Flyers (formerly known as Speedin’ West) perform at Threadgills North. The High Flyers are Elana Fremerman on fiddle, Cindy Cashdollar on dobro and pedal steel, Redd Volkaert playing a telecaster, and Jake Erwin on upright bass.

Although I saw Elana and Cindy with Doug Davis at Pacha a few weeks ago, this was my first chance to see the new band and it was a little different. Elana, Cindy and Jake all play in a free but refined style, while Redd seems to be a little more experimental in his approach. I thought it was a little too loud, but still it was a good show. I did not take any pictures since it was a bit dark in the restaurant, but I did film two songs. The music starts about a minute into this jam (after Elana tries to tell a joke and then rips on Redd for being Canadian ;) ) The second video is of the last song they performed, The High Flyers Stomp. (Both videos are 77MB, so be sure to right click and download them rather than watching in the browser.)

They played some great songs including Bonaparte’s Retreat, and a beautiful version of Cotton-Eyed Joe. They have a few more shows scheduled, but I probably will not go back to Threadgill’s. It’s a restaurant and there are tables right up to the stage, so it is difficult to watch the musicians, although they did have terrific red beans & rice, and lime-aid.

• • •

Paul Graham: What Business Can Learn from Open Source

Filed under: General — Cory @ 2:30 pm

Paul Graham has posted another interesting article titled “What Business Can Learn from Open Source.”

In the open source world, software “wins” (becomes popular and widely used) or “loses” (is rejected) based on it’s quality, not because of marketing or strong-arm tactics. Paul also uses the example of blogs and how the best blogs become popular based on content quality. Here’s a sample:

The third big lesson we can learn from open source and blogging is that ideas can bubble up from the bottom, instead of flowing down from the top. Open source and blogging both work bottom-up: people make what they want, and the the best stuff prevails.

Does this sound familiar? It’s the principle of a market economy. Ironically, though open source and blogs are done for free, those worlds resemble market economies, while most companies, for all their talk about the value of free markets, are run internally like commmunist states.

I can relate to a lot of the issues he brings up. The late night coding sessions in my college dorm room were probably some of the most productive times of my life. The environment there was hardly “professional”, with my roomate playing his stratocaster while watching the Sorpranos, and friends always stopping by. I’d trade a grey cube for that type of environment again any day.

• • •

August 4, 2005

Paying with Pennies

Filed under: General — Cory @ 4:25 pm

Once I put 32 one-cent stamps on the envelope of a bill I was paying and sent it out, most out of annoyance with the post office. No matter how stupid that was, this guy has it beat: Speeding ticket paid with 12,000 pennies.

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