Campbell, CA

Blog Archive

Monday, December 10, 2007

Fionn, 14 weeks

This is a great shot taken by Christy while we were in Ireland.

Fionn, 14 weeks
Originally uploaded by hikingviking.

And this set was taken by Sinead at the Glendalough Hotel.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chillin' With Dad - 12 Weeks

Originally uploaded by hikingviking.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Zazzle, MySpace, and Facebook

Last week:
Zazzle + MySpace
Zazzle + Warner Music Group
Zazzle + Ford Models

This week, news broke recently, the app will be live soon:

Zazzle + Facebook

The web has changed dramatically in the last three weeks. We're right there in the middle of it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The engagement's back on...

Originally uploaded by SineadBorg.

I mean, it really has to be, doesn't it? Look at her.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

This RIAA case ....

Okay, there's lots of chat over the sites I read daily about this RIAA court case win over a 30 year old single mother.

24 files shared on Kazaa == $220,000 in fines to the RIAA.

So, #1: The copyright law is pretty clear in this case (with some debate over whether it was right for the judge to limit the RIAA proof of burden to only "making available" files for download). The woman was a Kazaa user and had hundreds of songs available for download. She used a handle that was easily pinned back on her. No jury following their instructions could have found her innocent.

But #2: The thing that bothers me most about this case is where the money will go. Exactly how much of that $220,000 will find its way back into the hands of the artists who created those works? Absolutely none, because the holders of the copyright on those 24 songs are the corporations that make up the RIAA, not the artists who created the works.

Defenders of current copyright law hide behind statements like what came out recently from Chris Israel, the Bush Administration's U.S. Coordinator for International Intellectual Property Enforcement, who said: "Cases such as this remind us strong enforcement is a significant part of the effort to eliminate piracy, and that we have an effective legal system in the U.S. that enables rights holders to protect their intellectual property." [emphasis added by me]

Copyright law was created with the original intent to protect creators from others who might make money off the original work, or claim the original work as their own.

Today we have a music industry where the creators automatically give up their rights to corporations who now make most of the money off the original work.

Isn't this exactly what copyright was supposed to prevent?

Today's copyright law is not only anti-consumer, as many posters to the CNET blogs and arstechnica.com are quick to point out in their discussions of the unfairness of the size of the fine.

It's downright anti-artist.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Stop the engagement...

We love our son and think he's the most gorgeous creature ever to have walked the earth. Even if he isn't quite crawling yet.

Our friends C and D had their second (Sarah) three weeks after us. We've started planning Fionn and Sarah's wedding already. It'll be great fun.

But then C came by Wednesday night before this Irish Network thing that she and my boss had to go to. She was having a fabulous time holding our son. And she said to me:

"I think we're going to have to call off the wedding. Your child is the most precious thing I have ever seen. And ours is a wrinkled old prune. I just can't see them together. Fionn can do a whole lot better."


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Fatherhood, three weeks in...

1. I never knew I knew how to do some of the things I do every day now. Like, baby-talk and improvised sing-songs. I always used to freeze up looking at babies, thinking, "that's a human being .... he can't be bothered by all those so-called adults making silly faces and sounds in front of him!"

Now I dance around the bedroom singing, "tickle the baby, tickle the baby, tickle the baby!" to the tune of Ride of the Valkyries. This is Fionn's introduction to Wagnerian Opera.

2. My wife doesn't speak to me directly anymore. I have to find out what's on my schedule by eavesdropping on her conversations with the child. As in, "And Daddy's gonna change you, and swaddle you, and then I'm going to feed you some more, and then we're going to bed!" Or, "And Daddy's going to make us lunch because he's the best daddy in the world!"

3. We've watched a lot of Buffy lately, during the run-up to the birth and the comatose hours of trying to get out of bed after the birth. During a recent episode, the Scooby Gang is up all night trying to figure out how to cast out a demon. One of them says, "I much prefer seeing the sun come up when I wake up early, than when I've been up all night. It's like I'm watching it from the wrong side." Amen.

4. The number of hours in the day has been significantly reduced. It begins with you letting yourself sleep through "the next feed cycle" because your baby was fussing from 4am until sun-up, so you don't get started until 11am. If you're lucky, he sleeps for two hours in the afternoon and you can get something done. Then your wife tries to take a nap from 3-5pm because she didn't sleep the night before because it takes him an hour to breastfeed (every 2 hours) at night. Next thing you know you're waking them both up at 6pm because the baby's "bedtime" is 8 and he better be awake before bedtime or else he won't sleep through the night (or something like that). So he feeds, you have some dinner, then he feeds again, and wife and child go through their hour long ritual to go back to sleep, even though in theory they've both been sleeping in hour chunks all day anyway. By now its 10pm, so you come out and start this blog post, then go prepare a bottle of formula so you can do the midnight feeding while your wife tries to sleep more than 3 hours in a row. Next thing you know you're settling down a gassy child, it's almost 2am, and you're about to do the whole thing over again...

5. I love adrenaline. It turns both you and your wife into superheroes when the other needs it. And hey, this is no one-person job.

6. The worst part about taking some time off for being a new dad is that you're guilted into not taking enough time off. Sure, 2-3 weeks *seems* like a lot of time to your co-workers, but after a few days of #4, you're wondering how the hell it just got to be Sunday ... again.

7. The best part about taking some time off for being a new dad is that you start off by spending some quality time with your favorite person in the world. Then everything gets turned on its head, and you suddenly discover this wonderful new favorite person in the world. And then you get to spend quality time with both your favorite people in the world!

And that's what all this "living life" stuff is all about, really.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Fionn's home!

Fionn's going home!
Originally uploaded by hikingviking.

We left the hospital on Friday ... here he his locked away in his carseat.

Mom, he's wearing the sweater and hat you knitted, so everyone knows he's a boy.

Also, now that I think about it, those are the old Carolina Lightning soccer colors! I'm hoping to start him early. We watched slept through the Chelsea v Liverpool game Saturday morning.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Day three ...

... and it's beginning to look do-able.

We had a fussy morning, with all sorts of doctors and nurses coming by. The daily bilirubin came in "low risk" of jaundice, which is (fingers crossed fingers crossed) fantastic news, as this is the best indicator of HS this week that we can monitor. Dr. Tanguay, our Ped, came by and is pleased. Dr. Khoo came by and is pleased with Sinead's healing. We got the Hep B immunization. We pooped all over the sock holding the security beacon. We cried a *lot*.

By early afternoon we were settling down a bit, and from 4-5pm the whole family was passed out and strewn about the room. It was great. A NAP!!!! It's exactly what we all needed, and we were different people all evening.

Sinead's up and walking better than she has since about February, which is also fantastic to see. She's still not supposed to lift anything as heavy as the child anytime soon, so I'm on diaper duty (and getting pretty fast at these poopy ones!). We're feeling so good about her moving around that the walker and the gumby pillow all came home tonight! I was quite a site leaving the hospital .... we'll post a pic tomorrow.

Fionn is just incredible. This evening I spent a solid half hour staring at his face as he was sleeping and dreaming .... we cycled through every emotion in his little head .... happy, confused, perplexed, feeding (that was fun ... his whole mouth moved), gassy. I think that's about it. It was great.

And me: I started to do something about my painful separation from pop culture. We listened to some Ray Lamontange. And I got my computer talking to the Internet via my cell phone, which at least got me to load a few news stories. It's still a sloooow connection, so some sites just don't load. Like wireless.att.com. Won't load. The ultimate irony. I'm on the AT&T wireless network, albeit my cell phone is a bit slower than the iPhone.

So I was connected for, I think, a total of about an hour all day.

And strangely, that was just fine with me.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Baby Borg

Baby Borg
Originally uploaded by hikingviking.

Fionn's a day old, and he passed his first test! A hearing test!

Poll: Does he look more like:

a) A Borg from Star Trek
b) A Cyberman from Dr. Who

Also, apparently people need a few hints about how to pronounce the cyber baby's name. It's easy. It's "Fyun". One syllable. The "i" works like the "j" in Fjord, except throw it into "Fun".

And if that fails, you can call him "Finn".


Sinead wants me to assure the world that she will return to her regular blogging at diaryofanirishwoman.com as soon as she finds a wireless hotspot. She misses you all. I'm not 100% sure whether removing the child or the laptop from her belly is the bigger shock to her system.


Finally, no offense to anyone, but please don't call us through the hospital phone number. It was a mistake for me to send that contact info out in my email. We love all the support from you guys (thanks so much!), but we want to keep that line clear for doctors and nurses to get to us.

Our cell phones work just fine in the room, try us on them.; if we don't answer it's because we have a queue of nurses or a crying baby or we're feeding or we're otherwise preoccupied. As Arvind said to me today: "It's a hospital. It's not a place to rest." So more likely, we'll start calling people again when we get back on our feet in another day or two. I have literally been Sinead's arms and feet for most of the past two days. But she's now up and marching around the room since after dinner tonight, so we've come a looooong way since yesterday morning.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It's a Boy!

Look at our perfect baby!
Originally uploaded by hikingviking.

Fionn Martin Gandalf Borgersen. August 20, 2007, 10:52am. 8lbs, 8oz, 20 1/2 inches.

Mom and baby are doing fine ... Sinead's recovering from the C-Section, and the docs say "wow, you have a high threshold for pain!" Fionn's sleeping in the nursery so Mom and Dad can snooze a bit, and Dad can head home to upload photos.


Reality really didn't sink in for me until I was looking eye to eye with MYSELF at 20 1/2 inches. Well, almost. He got Sinead's nose and chin (we think, we're still debating that) and a massive Mc Donnell baldy head (it's a blondish-red peach fuzz, we think he may be a strawberry blond in a few years), but those eyes and that stocky chest are definitely lumbering nordic Borgersen.

Fionn "the Fair"

Martin after his grandfather, and the line of Borgersen men to share that name.

Gandalf because we had to pay homage to Tolkien after 9 months of calling him "the Hobbit". And the second middle name worked for J.R.R. And let's face it, "Bilbo" just wasn't gonna work, so we went all the way.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Four Twin Hybrids

Proof that the Zazzle UI team is Green. :)

And if you like this pic, you can buy the sticker!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Using a Sony Handycam HDD with a Mac

So our new teeny little hard-disk camcorder arrived today. It's soooo cute. Adorable.

It's a Sony DCR-SR82, 60 gig machine. And it comes with some software for PC that I haven't started to play with yet ..... my Macbook Pro is my creative machine ..... it plays my music; it's the machine I run Adobe Creative Suite on; and the iLife suite is really the coolest thing ever to be included standard on a new computer.

Alas, iMovie and QuickTime don't play very well with camcorders that record in mpeg-2. This includes all the Sony HDD's (DCR-SR80, DCR-SR40, DCR-SR42, etc). A quick Google search produced several pages where people suggest (a) upgrading to QuickTime Pro ($30), (b) buying Apple's mpeg-2 Playback Component for QuickTime (another $20), and (c) using MPEG Streamclip to transcode files into mpeg-4 to import into iMovie or play with QuickTime. The $70 alternative is to use whatever software Sony recommends.

It's easier than that, and you can do it for free. You just have to be comfortable running a script in your Terminal.

Here goes.

1. Download and install VLC: http://www.videolan.org/vlc/

This player plays everything. And it transcodes everything. And it runs on every platform you might ever care about.

2. You can grab files straight off the camcorder by plugging it in via USB, mounting it as a n external drive, and looking in MP_ROOT/101PNV01 (at least that's where mine is). Just drag the *.MPG files onto your desktop. You'll be happy to see the VLC plays them!

3. Here's the tricky part. Use VLC to transcode into mpeg-4. If you shot your video at 4:3 standard aspect ratio, you can use the nifty "Streaming/Transcoding Wizard" from the File menu. Choose "transcode/save to file", and on the "Transcode File" page, choose:

- Transcode video
codec: MPEG-4 Video
bitrate: 1024
- Transcode audio
coded: MPEG Audio
bitrate: 192

...and there ya go. The output file can be imported into iMovie for all your editing pleasure.

3(b). I had trouble shooting at 16:9. My aspect-ratio was lost during the transcode step. The easiest way I found around this is to transcode on the command line, where you can set aspect-ratio correctly. The script I use runs like this:

/Applications/VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/VLC -I dummy M2U00001.MPG --sout #transcode{cropleft=30,cropright=30,croptop=17,cropbottom=17,width=800,height=448,deinterlace=enable,vcodec=h264,vb=1024,acodec=mp4a,ab=128}:standard{mux=mp4,dst="out1.mp4",access=file} vlc:quit

Instead of remembering all that, I started with a very nice .bash script I found on this VLC help page:

Seriously, that script does it perfectly. I made sure to set my default to src="NTSC", and everything else ran peachy. Just copy the script into a file in your home directory, chmod it to 777, open a Terminal window, and run it against your .MPG files.

Hope this saves someone a little bit of time. Like me, next time I want to do this and forgot what I did.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pac Man Fever

So the last time I looked for this in digital form (a few years ago), I came up short.

And I mentioned today that there are a few things from the era of vinyl that have been really difficult to find on CD or MP3. And here's one album I've missed horribly since 1982. Freely available nowadays.

Pac Man Fever

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Back from Alaska ...

Originally uploaded by hikingviking.

Wow. This was up there as one of the best vacations ever.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Zazzle - Dreamworks/PDI #2

Originally uploaded by hikingviking.

Apparently I'm a celebrity now :) (Thanks, Wally)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Littlest Viking due before Labor Day

Well, folks, we passed the 12-week mark, so it's time to broadcast to the world.

Our first little one should be due to enter the world at the end of August! Sadly, I lack the eloquence of my dear wife in matters such as this.

We're ecstatic. And we're accepting any and all: advice, congratulations, kids clothes, bayonets i mean basonettes, cribs, experiential stories, tips, toys, liquor (for Jan), college funds, or hard cash. It's gonna be a wild ride.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Only Game That Matters This Season

> N.C. State Stuns Carolina

We beat Virgina Tech a few days ago, which is almost as good, but let's be real ... this is the only game that matters this year. New coach, a team that's only about seven players deep, and feeding along at the bottom of the ACC ... and we manage to upset our arch rival, who also (in my opinion) happens to be the best team in the country. Go Pack!!!!!

For those of you who know me around here, and know I've been pulling for Carolina a lot this year (yes, I did my Masters there) ... well, I'm still having fun rooting for Carolina against everyone else. They will be on my bracket to win it all again in March.

But my blood will always run red first.

Go Pack.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Pepsi One

We're trying to figure out how Pepsi One can come in cans as well as 2-liters.

Isn't 2 liters of "Pepsi One" really "Pepsi Five and Two Thirds" ?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

This Funny JSON vs XML Debate

Fascinating. Amusing, even.

I haven't blogged a technical entry in quite awhile, mostly because I've just been too busy with things like getting married last year. But I got back from my New Year's holiday and found myself in a fun IM conversation with an old co-worker about something new called E4X. My reaction was: "That's daft. Why are you parsing XML in the browser?"

As I was catching up on Ajaxian, I discovered that this debate heated up over the holidays. Apparently Dave Winer, a respected name in the XML community, recently discovered JSON, and was shocked. He went on a rant about reinventing the wheel, the importance of interoperability, and made a casual poke or two at the Silicon Valley engineering culture. He even threatened to string up our friend Doug Crockford.


I spent several years at two different Silicon Valley companies building XML architectures and XSL presentation tiers. I spent most of that time in a standing debate with one anti-Silicon-Valley academic-type friend, whose argument was: "I would forgive XML all its sins if it was either (a) easy to read, or (b) easy to parse. It's the worst of *all* worlds." He often made casual pokes about the Silicon Valley engineering culture. He even threatened to shoot all the XML guys.

Fortunately, the Ajaxian folks have a good handle on this. But it is fun to see these two communities suddenly clashing. They're both very much a part of the Silicon Valley culture.

XML solves a particular business problem better than anything before. Companies that were aggregating incompatible IT systems in the 80's and 90's were screaming for some WD-40 to lube the joints, especially during Web 1.x. After a decade of bickering over IDL, CORBA, OLE, and Microsoft pulling out of the OMG, the enterprise finally agreed to use a common syntax to build their proprietary data formats on top of. Progress was made. I sound sarcastic, but I'm being serious: Business software over the last 30 years is such an exercise in how *not* to engineer software that it actually took something as bloated as XML, with all its CDATA and character-entity weirdnesses, to patch a pretty bad thing. XML was a huge leap forward.

So Dave Winer is correct to be concerned about interoperability, but he missed the Web 2.0 memo.

We're sending JSON data to the *browsers* because it's a helluva lot easier to use given the (lack of) default Javascript libraries we have running in the browsers. Sometimes we send XHTML (an XML language!) if we're just sending document content.

We're not using our *browsers* as a service aggregators (much, yet) because XmlHttpRequest doesn't let us hit 3rd-party services, and XML is today's primary data format for 3rd-party web services. We might use JSON more over time, since there is a hack to get at 3rd-party services that return JSON, but SOAP and RSS are here for the long-term, so we all have our nifty XML parsers running on our servers anyway. Never mind the fact that web pages that have to hit servers we don't own are a lot less reliable. Anyone who has integrated with 3rd-party ad servers or metric trackers has their own nightmare stories.

And there ya have it.

To Douglas Crockford: Thanks for your PR spin on Javascript literal object syntax. It totally needed a better name, and JSON fits. Now, in the age of asynchronous programming in the browsers, can you help us put a PR spin on "lamda closures" that will make them less scary? They really need to feel friendlier.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Originally uploaded by hikingviking.

Rest in peace, Yoda, my little green Golf who was so good to me for so long. After hitting 119,000 miles and suffering some transmission and emissions problems last month, it seemed the right time to trade up.

Here's my new baby. Got her from the lot with 6 miles on her. Haven't named her yet, but I've pretty much ruled out "Smurf" and "Tar Heel". She's so much fun to drive.

Update 1/8/07: She's been officially Christened: The TARDIS.