Follow up

I posted this on the Online comments of a story in today’s Tucson Citizen:

Having worked for TNI Partners back in the day, I understand the situation for both newspapers – yes, both the Star and Citizen are affected by the Citizen’s demise. I don’t think that people fully understand the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) that governs the presses, ads, obits, facility, etc. The Star is going to take a financial hit because they will have to cover (in the short term) the shortfall of the JOA from the Citizen’s closure, and in the long term have to renegotiate the usage that was covered under the JOA. TNI Partners (who administers the JOA) will also be forced to lay off personnel – people who had no connection to the Citizen itself, per se like those that worked in prepress, ads, etc. Can’t justify having 20 people manning the phones and taking ad submission calls when there’s only one paper for the ads to run in, for example. That’s a big ramification for “just” one newspaper closing.

However, and maybe someone on the Citizen can check this out, has anyone considered moving to the model used by the East Valley Tribune that has allowed that paper to stay in business? Namely, they laid off some staff and moved to an internet publication 7 days a week while still publishing a print version four days a week (Wed., Fri., Sat. & Sun.). The EVTrib print edition is also smaller than it used to be – it now is printed in tabloid format instead of traditional format – and has a smaller number of articles due to space restrictions, BUT more stories are “continued” in the online edition (more information, more pictures/visuals, etc.), which allows for things like the famed three-part investigative story (which, when I grew up in Tucson, the Citizen was famous for) to be published in the print edition for Fri/Sat/Sun editions.

I don’t know Ms. Stanton, since she wasn’t at the Citizen when I was at TNI Partners, but what I think is funny is the fact that there are so many haters here and the majority are gleefully posting for the closure of the Citizen, but they aren’t looking at the big picture: becoming a one newspaper city also limits their news viewpoint to exactly one source (the Star), and it limits their “online” presence to that same online publication. I don’t know about you, but competition breeds better EVERYTHING. I’m not a fan of Rush Limbaugh, but imagine if there were no Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity and all you get is 24×7 Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh fans would love it, but everyone else would eventually get tired of Rush. And who would break the next story about Rush’s OxyContin habit anyway? Certainly not Limbaugh himself.

You may think the Citizen is bad, but try dealing with the Arizona Repugnant (Republic) when living in the metro-Phoenix area. Long time AZ residents remember the Phoenix Gazette – that was a staple in my aunt’s house when I was growing up; she wouldn’t touch the Repugnant with a ten-foot pole, but times change. Now there’s just one newspaper in Phoenix, when reporting and stories are AWFUL, what other source do you turn to? The Payson Roundup? The Yuma Sun? Yeah, like they’re going to cover news that’s important in your neighborhood. Do you think the Star has the ability to cover everything happening in Vail? Or how about in Marana? What about in Sahuarita? Not that the Citizen does all that now, but TOGETHER both papers do a better job than just one can do because they have more resources available.

There’s a lot of tradition and history in the Citizen’s publication, but no publication should ever rest on its laurels – it needs to move forward and embrace the change. When I was there, was barely but a startup ISP and the Citizen was just getting around to getting email addresses for its reporters. When the Citizen began an Online presence, I was very happy to see it since I had a small part in laying the foundations of it. The Citizen needs to take that final leap and move to an internet publication and start moving away from the print publication, as that’s the ONLY way this paper will survive.

2009 already

I mean, where did 2008 go? I swear I was sitting here in my chair and it was October. The next moment, I’m writing checks for the mortgage and they say “2009”.

Which means I’m either getting older, or I’m losing track of time. (Or both.)

Reflection – I left my old work group (Lending) last April to start work in a new department. It was tough to leave; I was one of the few left of the “original” Mortgage Web Hosting personnel, and most of the team members and contractors that I was leaving behind were people that I had worked closely with for four long years. In most cases, I even helped bring on board a lot of the current team members and contractors.

But, it was time for a change, and looking back 8 months later, I don’t have any regrets. My new team is smaller and that means that we all have to get along and know each others’ strengths and quirks. I think we’re jelling pretty well.

It was also hard to hear from all the team members and contractors that were let go after I left. Contractors that were so instrumental in getting major projects up and running and maintained had to be let go due to length of service. Team members that I worked with also resigned or were “bought out” (given a hefty severance), like my former team lead/manager-for-all-intents-and-purposes.

And in some cases, I heard from team members that were placed on “the list” (those whose positions that are being eliminated due to reorg or budget issues and are first in line for internal postings elsewhere in the company). When you’re placed on “the list” and you have been doing a narrow scope of work for your current job, it’s hard to get another internal position elsewhere unless that new job is similar to your old. And having to counsel/coach some of these people was really, really tough because I knew that their chances of finding another position at the company were very slim, and because I knew their families could be in serious trouble. Thankfully, one of them DID make it and get another position, and the other landed on his feet with another position at another company because of some of the advice I gave him.

So my Christmas wasn’t so bad after all, and neither was theirs. 🙂

Heck, I even learned how to replace a broken window in my house in the past two months. (Kids + basketball hoops + proximity to house windows + wild shots = bad things)

Now, an Anime update –


Macross Frontier (4 out of 5 – it was riveting up until the very last episode, and then it got corny for about half the episode…)
Sword of the Stranger (4 out of 5 – excellent movie since in the feudal period)
Wind ~ a breath of heart (4 out 5 – kicking myself for not watching this sooner, like say 2 years ago…)
ICE (3 out of 5 – a little cliched at the end “was it really just a dream”, but a likable pastime.)
Freedom (4 out of 5 – ending was a little rushed, but the artwork was absolutely gorgeous)
Vexille (5 out of 5 – holy SHMOLY! If you haven’t seen this, you need to.)
Yu-Gi-Oh: Shadow Games (3.5 out of 5 – this is the very first season, before the series began focusing on the collectible card game… it’s quite different, but enjoyable)

In the queue / already begun:

Deltora Quest (through episode 15 – there are 65 eps…)
Candy Boy (through episode 4)
Hellsing Ultimate OVA (through #5 – there are 6 total, from what I understand)
Gundam G00 Season 2 (through episode 14)
Clannad After Story (through episode 13)
Here is Greenwood [jdrama] (through episode 7)

Only first episodes watched:

Sekirei (What IS this series?)
Scrapped Princess (yes, I know I need to just watch)
Real Drive (ditto)
Zettai Shougeki (again, HUH?)

Series in progress but I can’t find time to circle back to complete:

Nadia (up to ep 22)
Tokyo Underground (up to ep 5)

On the To-Do list:

Ah My Goddess Tatakau Tsubasa
Chrno Crusade
Macross Fufonfia (hehehehehe)
Slayers Revolution
White Album
Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka
Crystal Blaze
Chaos Head

Maybe I’ll actually find time to catch up with my reading as well… I have three DragonLance novels still to finish off here at the homestead…. in between Suns or Coyotes games on TV of course!

PC-BSD vs Linux

So, in my new job, I was given an old desktop to play with (Dell Optiplex GX150 – a Pentium III CPU and 512MB RAM… yeah, “old” is a tenuous word – I think this is “ancient” bordering on “mummified”). Now, this box is NOT my primary workstation so I don’t need X or anything, I just need something that will act as a fileshare for the real work I do.

However, the dang box doesn’t even have a DVD reader in it, just an old CD ROM. Hence, I’m kinda stuck for what to install on it. Windows XP is crappy on it (was pre-loaded with it, and it was just godawful slow), so that was out. I briefly considered getting that Windows Gamer’s Edition that was floating around on the net, but decided that putting an unlicensed version of Windows on a company desktop was probably Not a Good Idea.

I decided to try to install CentOS 5.2 (i.e. Red Hat Enterprise), but couldn’t get the Net Install to go through my work’s proxy, so that’s out. I tried all sorts of tricks, even going as far as trying to pass kernel parameters on the boot prompt command line, but even that didn’t work. Curse you ISOLINUX!

I then tried Damn Small Linux 4.4.2 – installed like a champ! Of course, then a new problem arose: DSL wouldn’t let me upgrade to a full Debian system, even though DSL is based on Debian. Ugh, SO not helpful!!! (BTW, DSL 4.4.2 _is_ installed at home on an old K6-2 350 box that is strictly a file and log server, perfect usage!)

I then thought – hey, why not BSD? I used to use FreeBSD back in the day when I worked at TNI, I could certainly try it. Add that I had recently installed PC-BSD 1.5.1 on my son’s computer, an Athlon 850MHz Slot A system from 1999 that is just screaming along without any problems, and I figured I’d give it a shot. So, I tried it. And wouldn’t ya know it, PC-BSD hung time and time again at 1% installation, always at the same place: trying to install an LC_ADDRESS file in the /compat directory. ARGH!

I had just about given up. I went and discussed the issues with one of my co-workers. He was sympathetic about it, making a couple of suggestions that I tried, because he too wanted to see PC-BSD, and then we just gave up. I’m walking away and he’s calling me back – he found an unmarked CD in his drawer that he THOUGHT had Ubuntu 8.04 on it…

And here I am installing that right now… and go figure, it’s already 40% done.

I really truly believe that PC-BSD’s inability to install has everything to do with the fact that the hardware is a piece of crap, since PC-BSD installed flawlessly in my workstation’s VM (naturally). It’s just a shame I can’t tout the robustness and stability of PC-BSD to my co-workers though – even though I am a Linux guy to begin with, anything that just works after install with minimal intervention is a Good Idea in my book.

Looks like Linux is once again the winner. Oh well. Maybe PC-BSD 7 will be better. I’ll just have to wait until the end of the year to try it.