Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Bumping into Jerry Pournelle...

There have been a few perfect technology columnists to which technology hacks like myself owe some deference. These guys blazed the path before PCs even existed. They were working on homebrew equipment and loading operating systems with toggle switches a dozen years before hard drives become affordable. One of my early favorites was Jerry Pournelle who wrote Computing at Chaos Manor column for the back pages of Byte magazine.

In the 1980s Byte Magazine was a big, glossy production, which covered technology in depth. The articles might encourage you to build a PC, understand how to program in a Smalltalk, or review the protocol differences between the new high-speed 14,400 BAUD MODEMs. Alas, after purchase by CMP, Byte has whither away to a web only version, but during a recent bout of non-directed web crawling I discovered Byte's website and even more amazing that Dr. Jerry Pournelle is alive, well and continuing to offer a column on the remaining website. I had rediscovered an old friend.

I may be alone in my thoughts regarding Pournelle and his column, but I always found both to be warm and personal without succumbing to narcissism. Pournelle used his space to describe the day to day technology challenges of keeping his various computers running and reflect upon his life as a writer. Each column read like a quirky dispatch from a clever and talented friend.

Jerry's columns were not without a lesson for me. He unabashedly wrote in his own voice. His words were direct and his opinions fearlessly presented. His writing was authentic. Over the years I have learned (with much difficulty) that my most engaging writing comes when I am able to silence the yelling in my head that says this isn't good enough and proceed in my own true voice. When I write naturally, people respond. It's been a hard lesson to grasp, but I think Jerry's columns at Byte planted the seed that let me know that as long as I don't abuse my readers with barbaric grammar, poorly constructed sentences or flagrant misspellings, my own voice is certainly good enough.

Dr. Jerry Pournelle continues to write and offers bits of regular insight into his life and thoughts at

ps: I bumped into Jerry Pournelle at a COMDEX show some years ago. We chatted for a couple of minutes and I helped him score a free red golf umbrella from an Asian manufacturer of motherboards for custom PCs. I was too embarassed and awestruck at the time to ask for his autograph. Next time, I'll ask.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Mantis Knows...

Mantis 1021
We had a Carolina Mantid drop in on us at our picnic on Saturday night. The Carolina mantis, more commonly referred to as the "Praying" Mantis is South Carolina's State Insect, so we treated it with dignity.

Surely, some organization has recognized that having the "Praying" Mantis as state bug is tantamount to mandating religion. Something should be done! Wouldn't it be more sensitive and inclusive to refer to this "stately" insect as the Contemplating Mantis?

Just one more "modest proposal" from an occasionally modest guy.

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Forget Walk Like an Egyptian. Talk Like a Pirate instead.

All I managed for Talk Like a Pirate Day was an occasional AAARRGH! Well, I'll admit to yelling "Heave to' and prepare to be boarded!" to an annoyingly slow motorist but that was about it for us.

It seems like most of our milestones here have to do with baby.

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Finding my way around...

Welcome once again to visitors from the Your Day program.

One of my favorite maps to play with on the web is

Got some extra time? Try out Google Earth.

UPDATE: Google Earth now has images post hurricane Katrina. You can view New Orleans both before and after the hurricane.

More to come...

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Friday, September 02, 2005

The Princess has arrived!

We are delighted to announce the birth of Kathryn Alexis Yanov. Mother and baby are well.

View the Pictures.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Podcast: Birth Announcement

this is an audio post - click to play

We're off to Hospital!

this is an audio post - click to play