Cassidy's Pizza

My dad had always been a musician as long as I known, anyway--at least until he couldn't play guitar anymore because of his hands. That and smoking were two things I most strongly associate with my dad.

When I was very young, I remembered going with my dad to Cassidy's Pizza in Salinas where he would perform on-stage. I even performed with him one time and made my first dollar there, which hung on the wall of my bedroom in a frame with some sort of certificate. I also got my first taste of pinball and video games there as well, which of course were very different back in the mid-1970s.

When my sister sent me this photo she recovered from my father's stuff recently, it brought back a lot of very early memories.

Does This Describe Me Professionally?

I'm going to give a talk at West Sound Technology Association in the near future, and I have to write one of those dreaded "about the presenter" blurbs. Here's what I came up with, I'd love to get your feedback.

Dameon D. Welch-Abernathy, better known to some as PhoneBoy, has been in Information Security for nearly twenty years. Starting as a systems administrator for several small companies and then moving into a technical support role for Nokia's Security Appliance Business, Dameon has helped numerous IT professionals secure their organizations networks. Now working for Check Point Software Technologies, Dameon brings a blend of business acumen, product expertise, and technical know-how to solve customers business and security challenges.

Living in Enemy Territory

I have been a life-long 49ers fan. It probably has something to do with growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area during the beginning of their Superbowl run during the 1980s. It's the kind of thing that something like moving will not change, and based on the number of displaced 49ers fans out there, I'm not the only one!

Check out this map made by Facebook of Seahawks vs 49ers fans based on "likes" that proves my point:

Clearly I'm living in Seahawk Country, which means showing my true Red and Gold colors is not always appreciated. Even so, I only have two pieces of 49ers swag: a hoodie my wife bought me, and a iPhone 5s case I bought a couple weeks ago and just arrived today!

I wear my 49ers hoodie fairly regularly during the chilly months except for weeks that the 49ers are playing the Seahawks. Not because I don't want to represent, but because I don't necessarily want to draw undue attention to myself on game weeks. 

This, however, is no ordinary game week. This is the week of the NFC Championship and the pundits and fans have been waiting for this game all year. The rhetoric from both fan bases has cranked up to ridiculous levels, with stats flying from both sides saying why their team will win, copious amounts of trash talk, Seattle bars banning 49ers fans from coming in, and worse.

In short, it's the kind of thing you'd expect from any sort of rivalry, however the 49ers Seahawks one is relatively new in the pantheon of NFL rivalries. The 49ers and Seahawks were not division rivals until 2002. Seattle had several appearances in the playoffs during that time--including winning NFC title game in 2005--but did not win a Super Bowl. The 49ers, meanwhile, were unable to make the playoffs for 8 straight years starting in the 2003 season. 

Then, as they say, shit got real. The 49ers made it to the NFC Championship game in 2012, only to lose to the New York Giants in overtime. In 2013, they made it to the Super Bowl, only to lose to the Baltimore Ravens. And, for the third straight year, the 49ers are in the NFC Championship game. Meanwhile, the Seahawks have made it to the playoffs 3 of the last 4 seasons, losing in the Divisional Round the previous two times, but winning the NFC West in 2013.

When you add in the rivalry that Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll brought with them from the Pac-12 (Stanford vs USC), the fact both teams operate and are built a similar way, the fact the 49ers have won their last 4 post-season games on the road, the Seahawks being hungry for Super Bowl rings, and a 15-15 tie in the overall series between the 49ers and Seahawks, and you have the makings for a NFC Championship Grudge Match that only the best scriptwriters could come up with.

My experience with Seahawks fans is they are generally respectful. Same with 49ers fans. A little good-natured ribbing can and does occur. However, there are the 1% of fans who are not and, ultimately, ruin it for everyone else.

Since you never know when you'll encounter that 1%, it's sometimes best to hide in plain sight. And since I can appreciate good football--even when it's played by a rival team--it's actually not too hard to do. That said, to those 49ers fans living in the Seattle area, know that your fellow 49er faithful are out there.

Tom Merritt's Daily Tech News Show

Not wasting any time after leaving TWiT, Podcaster Tom Merritt has already started a Daily Tech News Show. You could say it's another iteration of the Buzz Out Loud or Tech News Today format: top headlines with some in-depth analysis and discussion with guests, audience participation, and a snappy theme.

Both Tom's new podcast and his former podcast, Tech News Today, are undergoing a public beta of sorts during their respective (re)launches. They both have their rough edges, but it's clear Tom has been doing this for years as DTNS, aside from a few technical glitches during the two shows he's done, sounds very crisp. Mike Elgan, who just took over for Tom on TNT, is still finding his sea legs, it seems like. 

I can't tell you how happy I am to be able to listen to Tom Merritt doing the tech news again without feeling like I'm supporting TWiT because y'all know my feelings on TWiT. And with the relaunch of Current Geek, we get a TWiT-less weekly roundtable discussion show, too.

Lessons from The Breakfast Club

Earlier today, I recorded a "podcast" about this:

If you want to subscribe to this podcast--it's more "personal" and less technical in nature, put this in your RSS feed:

Anyway, while I kinda rambled here, the main message of the movie "The Breakfast Club" is that we all have more in common than we might think. If five kids from different backgrounds can find common ground, surely we all can, right?

Also, Except Sometimes, the jazz album from Molly Ringwald? Awesome! I had no idea she could sing so well!

Merrittless TWiT

From the Inside TWiT Blog:

I've known Tom Merritt for more than a decade - since the grand old days at TechTV. He's a trusted colleague and I consider him a dear friend. When Tom moved to LA last year we agreed to try having him anchor his shows from Southern California via Skype. We've been mostly happy with the result, but I've always felt that TWiT had lost something by not having Tom's leadership in the studio with us.

After some soul searching, I've decided that we do need an in-studio anchor for Tech News Today, and a News Director who can help us build the kind of organization you can count on for authoritative tech news and information.

So it's with a heavy heart that I'm announcing that we're not going to renew Tom's contract as host of TNT. His last show will be at the end of the month.

Tom Merritt is every bit the professional broadcaster Leo Laporte is, but without the associated personal douchebaggery. Meanwhile, Tom will be doing a show with Scott Johnson starting in January and likely some other stuff as yet announced. 

On the plus side, it'll be possible for me to listen to Tom Merritt do daily tech news again. That idea has some merit.

One Good Draw Two Deserves Another

Undoubtedly, you've played Uno (or the less commercial variant Crazy Eights) at some point in your life. It's quite unlikely that you've ever played Hot Death Uno, though, unless you happen to have stumbled across this game on the early Internet, downloaded it to your Windows PC, and played it.

It's basically like playing Uno but there are some extra special cards (and rules) that make it a bit more fun than regular Uno. So, of course, in college, I took the rules from this game, wrote them down, and made a real version of the game out of real Uno cards. And played it with my friends. For hours on end.

I'm almost certain I still have my deck somewhere. Meanwhile, I put my Hot Death Uno website back online in case you want to download the original Visual Basic 1.0 program, check out the rules, or make your own deck!

I'm not the only person touched by this game, based on the fact I can find a few pages dedicated to this wonderful game, including a couple of attempts at recreating the source code so it runs on modern computers and doesn't crash incessantly like the old Visual Basic version did. Someone even built it for Android (and released the source)!

Meanwhile, for old times sake, I fired up the game in WINE--a Windows emulator on Linux that runs Windows binaries in an environment that emulates the Windows APIs without running the whole Windows OS too. It actually worked well enough to play without crashing, though as is usually the case with WINE, there were a couple of visual glitches. And the game runs really really FAST on modern hardware! 

I didn't exactly lose against my computer opponents, but I didn't win either. That said, it brought back a few memories.

Shoeboxes Leading to Jaiku

I was looking at the page views for some of the posts I've put up on this blog and the one where my wife brought back a shoebox full of memories from Hawaii to me seems unusually popular. Quite honestly, I'm not sure why since it really wasn't intended to be something I expected a large number of people to be interested in.

It does seem strange condensing a whole chunk of memories into something the size of a shoebox. Or even stranger that now that shoebox can live as an archive of digital files.

One of these archives I had a reason to run across recently was the archive of photos I uploaded to the now defunct Share on Ovi service that Nokia used to operate. 

While preparing PhoneBoy Speaks Ep 306, I had reason to go back through a couple of older posts of mine, some of which linked to photos that were posted on this service. I noticed that it wasn't a whole ton of posts that needed fixing and figured I might as well clean them up.

One of the posts was actually my review of my favorite Nokia handset, the Nokia E71. More specifically, I reviewed the North America edition of the Nokia E71. This post had screenshots, as you might expect, but one in particular caught my attention:

Most of you may not know, or even remember this service, but that green J icon was for the Jaiku app on my home screen. Jaiku was a mobile-first social app for Symbian devices developed by a couple of Finns.

The service eventually got bought, and neglected, by Google, much to the dismay of fans like myself. But I met a lot of really interesting people on Jaiku, and had a lot of excellent conversations and am "still friends" with many people from Jaiku.

I can see echoes of that experience today on (where I'm @phoneboy) but I never really made that connection until just now.

Amazing what memories a (virtual) shoebox brings up!

Fifty Nine and Ninety Nine

If my mother and grandmother were alive today, that's how old they'd be. Because, you see, they shared a birthday. Just like my dad and I shared one.

I'm not sure when or exactly where in Hawaii this photo was taken but it was clearly taken while my grandma was still able to get around a bit.

Making Lemonade

There were a lot of photos in that shoebox my wife brought back from Hawaii. Including an entire album full of photos from my high school graduation. Like this photo with my mom:

In many ways, this graduation was an accomplishment for both of us. Obviously, I had to do all the academic work involved. For my mom, the accomplishment was making the money to pay for it. 

Because, you see, I went to a private school. In Hawaii. It was either that or I'd be bored and beat up in Hawaii's public schools.

Granted, because of my mom's financial situation, we were able to get some level of financial aid. As I remember, she ended up having to pay about half the tuition, which ended up being around $25,000 for four years. For someone of my mom's means, that was quite a lot of money, especially back then.

My mom never graduated college. I won't say my mom's life was rough but she had some pretty sour lemons to make lemonade from. She wanted to make sure the lemonade I made with my life lemons was better. 

No doubt, this got me on the right foot. I was able to get into a good college that I ultimately graduated from and started towards the career and family I have now. All made possible by the sacrifices my mom made.

Every day, I count my blessings, thankful my lemons were just a little sweeter, thankful I found a better recipe.