Dissing Parallels

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

I am decidedly unimpressed with Parallels 3.0. In fact, I would almost call it completely non-functional and a fraud except that I have been able to install Ubuntu 6.10. However, it’s completely unable to manage Windows 2000 as advertised. The install repeatedly and reproducibly hangs with a spinning beach ball of death. Sometimes I can’t even Force Quit parallels. Even kill -9 failed once, and I had to reboot to get rid of it. Installing Windows NT 4.0 got a little further and at least did not create a spinning beach ball of death. However it still failed:

Windows NT could not start because of a computer disk hardware configuration problem

Furthermore, attempts to report these problems hit any number of bugs ranging from choosing the wrong e-mail program (not everyone uses Apple Mail) to server errors when I try to submit the bugs via their web site:

Deflowering Virgin America

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Last month I had to make a quick trip to Palo Alto, which is about equidistant between SFO and SJC. I usually take JetBlue into San Jose for this route, but I decided to try the recently launched Virgin America instead. That was a mistake.

Purple mood lighting in coach

Currently Not Reading

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

The Brooklyn Public Library allows unlimited renewals as long as no one requests a specific book. That means books tend to pile up in one’s living room since you never have time to read everything that’s worth reading. However, before moving to California next week I have to bring all these back. This is to remind myself what I still have to get to:

Kozol; Paratime; Mina; Globalization and Its Discontents; Confessions of a Casanova; Silent Bob Speaks; Consider Phlebas


Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Millipede on cut stump
Ophyiulus pilosus
Ridgewood Reservoir, Queens County, 2007-10-20

My Mac Spits Out DVDs

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Recently my PowerMac G5 tower running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger began ejecting all DVD discs. It will accept CDs, but it immediately ejects every DVD I insert: blank or preformatted, video or computer. Booting up off an older operating system on a different partition didn’t change this. It feels like a hardware problem, though I’m not 100% sure of that yet. Any suggestions? (For obvious reasons, running tools that are themselves provided on DVD is not an option.)


It does indeed seem to be a hardware problem. I went down to the Apple Store at Fashion Island and picked up a Lacie external DVD burner, which, so far, seems to be working fine. Reinstalling the operating system and all data, by contrast, had no effect on the internal drive. One of these days I should probably just swap out the internal drive, but right now I can’t really be bothered, especially since the recent move and frequent travel have inspired me to switch to my Macbook as my primary machine.

#393 Heermann’s Gull at Balboa Pier

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

Beth and I had an afternoon to kill in Orange County today after we finally found a decent apartment we could agree on, so at the suggestion of our real estate agent we drove down to Newport Beach to watch the sunset. There were lots of birds at various locations along the beach: Willet, Marbled Godwit, Western Gull, Ring-billed Gull, and the least skittish Snowy Egrets I’ve ever seen:

3 Snowy Egrets perched on pier at sunset

These birds might as well have been Rock Pigeons for all the concern they showed for the people gawking at them from not three meters away.

However for me the real treat was when an unusual dark gull flew by. It was about the size of a Ring-billed Gull (that is, not nearly as big as the Western Gulls) but much darker. Fortunately I got my binoculars on it quickly and there it was: an unmistakable Heermann’s Gull with a dark gray back and a blood-red bill. I wasn’t able to get a photograph of the bird before it has flown off, and it was the only one I saw. However, I’m confident on the ID. It’s a really obvious bird, and there’s nothing else it could possibly be. It’s a lot easier to pick out than distinguishing a Ring-billed Gull from a California Gull, for example.

I’d spent some time looking for this bird further north in San Mateo County last spring but whiffed on it. Sometimes the best birds come when you aren’t even looking.