Archive for category life

Richard M. Raven 8/23/47 – 3/5/10

Richard Michael Raven

Age 62, of Shorewood, passed away peacefully Friday, March 5, 2010 at University of Chicago Medical Center.

Born August 23, 1947 in Chicago, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served during the Vietnam War. He worked as a Project Manager and Communications Instructor for Ameritech.

His family was his life.

Surviving are his wife, Kathy A. (nee Kupka) Raven; his children, Richard James (Jill) Raven, Cherie (Brian Chapin) Raven, and Kristin Ellen (Ben O’Connor) Raven; four grandchildren, Brook Elizabeth and Richard John Raven, and Audrey Katherine and Edward Michael Chapin; one brother, Daniel Joseph Raven; and several nieces and nephews.

Preceded by his parents, Stanley and Dorothy (nee Coakley) Raven; and three siblings, Raymond, Robert, and Dorothy Raven.

Funeral services for Richard M. Raven will be Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. at the funeral home chapel. Internment will be in Resurrection Cemetery, Romeoville. In lieu of flowers, memorials to University of Chicago Cancer Research Center, 5841 S. Maryland Ave MC 1440, Chicago, IL 60637 would be appreciated. Visitation Tuesday, from 3-8 p.m. at:

Fred C. Dames Funeral Home
3200 Black at Essington Rds., Joliet
(815) 741-5500


Peanut Butter + Bacon = win

You like peanut butter? You like bacon? Why not put them together! I’ve been making peanut butter and bacon sandwiches for a while now, so here is my technique — a special gift for you and whomever you wish to spread the knowledge to.


  • ~3 strips bacon (I use precooked for convenience)
  • 2 slices of bread
  • Some peanut butter

Lightly toast two slices of bread. Spread peanut butter on the toasted bread. I like to put three half-slices of cold, pre-cooked bacon on each slice and then put it back in the toaster oven for a few minutes. If you’re using regular bacon, or don’t have a toaster oven, I suppose you could cook up the bacon in a skillet. Put the two pieces of the sandwich together, let it cool down for a bit, and then enjoy. Yum-tastic!



Sloth and Goonies and

From an entry on is somewhat NSFW but this entry isn’t):


That said, in a few years there will be a generation of adults for whom The Goonies is not the nostalgic icon that it is for us. And those people are going to ask you why you have a tattoo of a retarded pirate on your arm. If there are any measures you can take to prepare yourself for this outcome, you should probably do it.

…and that’s sad.

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DNS Slugtalk

For those who are not aware, when I went to MIT I lived in the East Campus dormitory, on the hall known as Second West (a.k.a. Putz). These days, Putz has a pretty neat group of people and an informal tradition of holding “slug talks,” or opportunities for someone to give a brief presentation and have a chance to share some knowledge with the group. Most of these so far have been computery in nature, and specifically computer-sciency. I hear there’s going to be a good one next week on neural plasticity and long term potentiation (LTP — it’s how we learn and form memories in our brains pretty much).

Since my day-to-day life deals with computer science in a more practical and hands-on way, the topics that I have chosen are more practical in nature. Last semester, I gave a talk about MySQL in production, and specifically how we use it at Linden Lab to make Second Life work.

Just last week, however, I gave a slugtalk describing how DNS works out here in the real world. I think it went pretty well. Download my slide deck as a PDF here.

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Best Purchases Ever Made

Take the following with a grain of salt. I’m just kind of bored and figured it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Here are some experiences of mine (in chronological order) that might be construed as product and/or brand endorsements:

  • HP Color LaserJet 2550n – September 2005: Paying $500 for a color laser printer turned out to be a financially and technically sound decision after all. In the 4 years that this printer has been around, the toner cartridges have been replaced once, and the printer is still in 100% working order. Contrast that to any of the ink-jet printers out there that break after a year, and need $50 ink cartridge replacements regularly (even when they’re not being used and just dry out). These days, however, it looks like consumer-grade color laser printing is starting to go down the ink-jet road with small-quantity metered toner cartridges and shoddily built hardware.
  • Dell 2405FPW – August 2005: Sure, these days 24″ LCDs are pretty standard, but back then it was a pretty big leap. It still holds up beautifully 4 years later and has put several CRT screens to rest.
  • TiVo Series 2 DVR – December 2004: Just see this entry from 2006 for some of the reasons why TiVo is a life-changing experience. And no, I still don’t mean the crappy standard HD DVR that the cable/satellite companies foist upon us. These days, however, Comcast (in Boston at least) offers a DVR with the actual TiVo software installed. I find it quite serviceable, and a definite improvement over the craptastic regular DVR, but it’s still not the whole experience. The ‘ol Series 2 is still going strong, and I’m considering upgrading to a TiVo HD cablecard unit at some point.
  • Power Mac G4 – October 2003: It’s hard to believe that it was 6 years ago that I made the switch (see this blog entry from ’06 for some pontification on the subject). That G4 tower has been such a horse that it’s still sitting here under my desk in use as a secondary system for bittorrent clients, file serving, and DVD/CD burning. Unfortunately, with Snow Leopard’s removal of support for the PPC architecture, the end of the road may be coming soon.
  • Ikea “Poang” Chair – August 2002: Who knew that a $70 wood and fabric chair could be so comfortable, durable and not too bad looking either?
  • Sony 24″ wega TV – December 2000: Almost 9 years later and it’s just as good as the day it arrived as a christmas present. I know, not a “purchase,” but it deserves to be on here anyway. It’s not HD, but has a great picture and I can easily see it lasting another 9 years.


Stuff Magazine: Hickman Mania?

On my way into the office this morning I did something I usually don’t do. I grabbed a copy of Stuff Magazine because on the cover was none other than everybody’s favorite bassist with the stylin’ threads and handlebar mustache, Zachariah Hickman:

zach hickman image

Turns out there’s a section inside about 11 Bostonians with signature looks, and of course he’s featured prominently in it. He calls it: “cowboy suits, seersucker, and general haberdashery.” General haberdashery, indeed. Figured my pickin’ partners would enjoy this.

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Some Kvetching About Microsoft

So, I got a new MacBook Pro at work last week. It’s a little bit newer and faster than the old one. I was a little bit rough with the old one, but it’s still in working condition and will be used by others visiting the office (ethernet port stopped working, and part of the lid latch is broken).

The old laptop was dual-booted with Mac OSX (of course) and Windows Vista. Back when I installed vista a couple of years ago, I obtained a license key from the company, and activated vista with it with no problems.

Fast forward to now. Sure enough, when I go to in install Vista on the new system (after wiping out the old one to be eventually re-installed), I get an error when using the same key associated with this license of Vista — “That software key is already in use.” Well, duh, not really it isn’t, the old laptop is wiped clean, but I can see how you may think that.

So how do I get around this? After searching around on the internet and trying some things, I find that there is NO WAY to “deactivate” a Windows Vista license. So, anyone changing computers, or re-installing to the same computer even, will presumably encounter this problem. Ironically, the quickest way to fix this would be to find any of a number of keys out there that belong to large volume licensees of Vista — for example, a large university that has tens of thousands of available installs associated with their key. Isn’t it a little bit stupid, annoying, ironic, incorrect (whatever adjective you want to use), that the mechanism developed to ensure that people were using properly licensed copies of the software is so onerous and broken that it leads people to, in essence, pirate the software it’s aiming to protect?

I ultimately ended up calling Microsoft and getting this straightened out via some sort of automated phone system. Of course, this means that I could very well have kept the same key in use for Vista installed on the old laptop — meaning that in reality, the activation key scheme does nothing to prevent piracy or illegal copying, but just is another spike through the guts of Microsoft’s paying customers.

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I Was There (The Inauguration — Experience of a Lifetime)

Yes, I was there. The idea was hatched among a group of my MIT friends back around the election in November, and we went ahead and bought our train tickets and set up our accommodations way back then — actually on the eve of the election. Luckily, that did not jinx things, and I was there on the mall with about 2 million other people to see Barack Obama get sworn in as our nation’s first African-American president.

The day started for all of us at 4:00am, as we awoke in Andrew’s grandmother’s living room. We stumbled through a quick bite to eat, and then down to the bus stop. It was nice that we were right at the end of a bus line, so there were no crowds or difficulty getting transportation to the mall. The bus got us as far as Dupont Circle, and then we walked the rest of the way. It was about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and we arrived on the already-crowded mall at around 6:30am, ready to wait another 4.5 hours for the ceremony to begin. It was cold, crowded, long and tiring, but it was worth it.

I was a part of history, along with the millions of other people standing there with us watching on the huge jumbotrons and listening over the loudspeakers. At the moment the presidential oath was read, there was an outburst of joy like none I had ever been a part of before. There was a nice, older black couple next to us who had driven up all the way from Alabama and were crowded into the masses with us and at the moment it became official there were high fives and flag waving and hugs all around for everyone. To say it was a special moment would be the understatement to end all understatements. Definitely something I’ll be proud to hopefully tell my grand kids about someday.

Check out the small photo album here

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Abbot’s Frozen Custard in Needham


I was skimming over the news websites today, and came across something awesome in the Boston Globe today: Cold Comfort: Abbott’s custard brings back good memories for customers.

Yes, it’s true. There’s an Abbott’s franchise open now in Needham, MA. For readers who do not hail from Rochester, NY, and/or have never tasted frozen custard (from Abbott’s or anywhere), here is a good description:

“Frozen custard, made with eggs, buttermilk, and cream, and churned slowly in a custom-made machine, is denser than traditional ice cream. “I missed Abbott’s,” says Dauria. “Every time I went back to Rochester the first thing we did was go there.” So five years ago, the former buyer for Filene’s hatched a plan to open an Abbott’s Frozen Custard franchise here, the first in New England”

And a little bit of history:

“Rochester residents were first introduced to frozen custard in 1902, when Arthur Abbott started flogging the confection at local fairs. He open a permanent location in 1926 in the Rochester neighborhood of Charlotte (pronounced “Shar-LOT” or, if you are from Rochester and have the signature flat twang, “Shar-LAAT”), which still exists today.”


Bon Jovi Concert (and All American Rejects)


A couple of months ago, I happened to be surfing the internet and a banner ad conveniently informed me that Bon Jovi was touring and tickets were going on sale for shows here in Boston at the TD Banknorth Boston Garden. Being an impulsive buyer of such things, and a Bon Jovi fan, I picked up some tickets for the July 10th show. It turns out that All American Rejects were opening — a pleasant surprise, since I actually like them (and not just because I bought both of their Rock Band songs).

So it was a pretty awesome show. It was an interesting crowd there. There was a pretty large portion of the people there who were around my age (late 20’s), and there was another large contingent of folks about 10 years older, and then a bunch of youngsters as well. Also, it’s hard to believe that that dude on stage bringing the house down is 46 years old.

Here’s my (small) photo album of the AAR.

And here’s the photo album of Bon Jovi.

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