Saturday, October 22, 2011


It's an interesting time to be alive. I love to read, and I'm awash in opportunities and technologies to make that possible. I'm connected to the Internet 24x7. I picked up a Kindle this year and like it very much, although it leaves something to be desired for reading technical material. I'm reading the third edition ofPeter Norvig's "Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach" on the Kindle, but I find myself going back to the first edition because the figures don't read well and don't zoom in when the text is resized.

No matter how technology marches on, I still love holding a real book in my hand. Going to the library is still and will always be one of my favorite things to do.

I was out and about this morning when I decided to pull into the town library to see what new books were on the shelves. I have a lot to do this weekend, so kicking back with a book wasn't on the schedule.

I couldn't resist when I saw Michael Lewis's newest offering entitled "Boomerang". He had me at "boom".

Michael Lewis has become one of my favorite authors. I've written about how much I enjoyed his books "The Big Short" and "Liar's Poker". His experience on Wall Street selling bonds for Salomon Brothers gave him an insider's understanding of an industry that's driving our news. There are few stories that compare to seeing the world's financial system teetering on the brink of collapse.

That's not to take any credit away from Lewis's writing. I've only read the prologue, but he finds a way to make the people and events memorable and entertaining. What a great insight: "I think I'll travel to the countries that are on the brink to see why they went awry." He's acting as the proxy for the hedge fund managers betting against foreign countries that they've never visited. His voice is so clear, so uniquely his. It's the essence of great story telling. He manages to take an arcane, dry subject like finance and turn that straw into page-turning gold. I admire him so much for developing that distinctive style and zeroing in on his subject.

I've got a list of things to accomplish today, but I plan to spend a little time with Michael Lewis later on. I can't wait!

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Operational At Last

My new computer is finally operational and on-line.

I've never seen a modular power supply before, so it wasn't a surprise when my best assembly efforts were for naught.

Will did his best to sort me out over a cell phone, sight unseen.

Steve and John tried to figure out what I'd done wrong by looking at photographs that I e-mailed, but the detail wasn't sufficient.

It took a breakfast with Matt and Karim to see what my problem was. I brought my non-functioning PC in the back of my car one Sunday, and the two of them opened it up and had at it when we were done eating. They quickly diagnosed where I'd gone wrong and gave me the key to sorting it out.

I had to order a couple more items: a fourth G-Skill DDR, to bring my total RAM to 8GB, and a 3.5" bay for my SSD so I could move it up in the case, right under the CD drive.

When I first powered it up, using the wireless keyboard that is attached to my old machine, I was helpless. No drivers were available for the wireless keyboard, so I picked up a wired keyboard for $19.

I fired it up this afternoon and installed the Windows 7 64-bit OS. After adding the drivers I was fully operational - except for my SSD. I can see it in the BIOS; I can even see it listed as a disk drive in my device manager. But Windows 7 only finds my hard drive, not the SSD. I have to sort that out. The hardware graphics acceleration is disabled as well; I think that's a BIOS setting.

But it's nice to finally have this machine on-line and operational. It took me a while, but I learned a lot. There's still a lot of work to do installing software and moving documents from my old machine.

But I have a great sense of satisfaction today.

My sincerest thanks to Will, Steve, John, Matt, and Karim for the inspiration, patience, and advice.

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