The Endless Setlist

On Tuesday, August 19, David and two friends he had never met in person before began the odyssey known as The Endless Setlist.

First, you should know the players. David is our son. That’s the easy one. Ian is a friend David met playing games online and, it just so happens, also lives in the Portland area. He hitched a ride with his mom and was ready to roll. Lucas is another friend David met playing games online. Lucas, however, took a longer ride. He arranged for a bus ticket and a hotel so he could visit from Calgary, Alberta. Even better, he showed up on our doorstep after walking the 4.5 miles from the hotel. That’s a dedicated gamer!

David, Lucas, and Ian pound through The Endless Setlist

The game in question is “Rock Band”. The point of the game is to use guitar, microphone, and drum kit controllers to play familiar songs. The guitar controller is simpler than the real thing, but that doesn’t make it simple at all. It’s quite hard to keep up. The drum kit is very similar to the real thing. While there is a microphone, nobody wanted that part, so they just played three pieces: David on drums, Ian on Bass, and Lucas on Guitar.

Now, the normal style of this game is to play setlists. Some are one song in length, others are three or four or five. There are a few setlists with ten or more. However, when you have done well enough, you have a chance to play The Endless Setlist. This is 58 songs long and uses every song sold with the game. While you can pause the game, you cannot save your place to come back later. It’s meant to be played in marathon fashion.

With a few breaks between the tougher songs, these guys finished it in a little over five hours. Wow.

Congratulations, dudes! That was impressive!

There are a few more pictures here.

Not Saying Goodbye

 Jack and Cari Orr 

It is hard to believe that it has been a year since my mother passed away. It's even more difficult to think that my dad has now been gone over three years. During that time, other family members have passed on and our lives have been a little more empty because of it. As I look back over the last few years, the Lord has really been working on how I see things. Do we really say “Goodbye”, or, for believers, is it just, “I will see you again soon”?

There's a hole left in my heart by the passing of my parents. I always thought there would be more time and that they would both be in their eighties and just fall asleep and never wake up. To have one gone at 67 and the other at 73 seems too soon. This last year has brought around many stages of grief that I had not even thought existed. I was never angry at God. I do believe that each hair on our heads is numbered and days of our life are known by God, so one can't be angry at Him. I did not realize I could get angry at other things, though.

I started out numb and just kept moving on. Since then, there has been anger. Yes, I was angry at my folks for not taking better care of themselves. That anger just turned into sadness. How does one process this kind of thing when you aren't ready for it. I then had to start talking with the Lord. I was not ready. I needed more time. It was all that stuff we talk with Him about. Then, it comes back to this: It is not about me or my plan, it is about Him. The journey of losing my parents was not about my adventure, but theirs as well. How one ends their life is as important as how one lives it. As I look back on the days leading up to my parents' passing, I have to look at how I dealt with things. What would I change if that had been me facing the end of my life? What do I want to change now so that people see the Lord and not me? Death is something that should not scare me. I should take great joy in knowing that the Lord has it all planned out. That the end of life is really not the end of it all. We say that while living. But, when faced with the end, even that of a loved one, do we really get it? In our hearts, do we really believe that the Lord has each moment of every day planned? If so, then watching loved ones pass away should not be so hard. Then again, I am human.:-) 

We do miss those that we love on a daily basis. If we didn't, we did not love them as much as we thought. We should talk about them, embrace all the good and bad, and remember both the wonderful and the ugly memories that we shared with them. I think we then need to look and see what the Lord has planned for us in our lives which they were a part of. We can't not talk about them. We are here, so they are still here, too. I have to look at myself and decide: Do I want to see them again or live a life outside that of the one the Lord has planned for me? I was blessed with two wonderful parents. To think that the Lord had not planned all of this would be turning my back on Him. That would hurt even more then losing my parents. Embrace each and every day that you have with your loved ones. Even if those days are hard, they are the days that the Lord wanted you to have. And do remember that, for believers, it isn't “Goodbye”, just “See you later”.


Missing Signature

I am thankful for scientists with integrity that are willing to state the truth. I worry about those who bend and dissemble when the truth becomes inconvenient. This article from one Dr. David Evans sounds like the result of the integrity we should be applauding in the scientific community. No doubt, he will be called names and cast out. However, I doubt anyone will challenge him on his science. He was a believer in anthropogenic global warming, but he has since changed his mind due to the lack of evidence.

My title here refers to one of the basic reasons why AGW should not be believed:

The greenhouse signature is missing. We have been looking and measuring for years, and cannot find it.

Each possible cause of global warming has a different pattern of where in the planet the warming occurs first and the most. The signature of an increased greenhouse effect is a hot spot about 10km up in the atmosphere over the tropics. We have been measuring the atmosphere for decades using radiosondes: weather balloons with thermometers that radio back the temperature as the balloon ascends through the atmosphere. They show no hot spot. Whatsoever.

If the science that predicts catastrophe also predicts this hot spot, what should it do when the hot spot cannot be found? Is it sane to act like the science is still correct? Maybe a reevaluation is in order?

He also reiterates my favorite evidence that it’s time to step back and consider the consequences of any further actions to abate CO2: The fact that the warming trend that scared everyone to death actually stopped seven years ago.

The satellites that measure the world’s temperature all say that the warming trend ended in 2001, and that the temperature has dropped about 0.6C in the past year (to the temperature of 1980). Land-based temperature readings are corrupted by the “urban heat island” effect: urban areas encroaching on thermometer stations warm the micro-climate around the thermometer, due to vegetation changes, concrete, cars, houses. Satellite data is the only temperature data we can trust, but it only goes back to 1979. NASA reports only land-based data, and reports a modest warming trend and recent cooling. The other three global temperature records use a mix of satellite and land measurements, or satellite only, and they all show no warming since 2001 and a recent cooling.

What would you call those who disguise or ignore the truth and tell the public something contrary to it? Should we choose to turn our economy and lifestyle upside-down to accommodate the predictions of these prophets without evidence? Is it politically incorrect to at least request a clean analysis of climate change based on currently known data and not just predictions from the last decade or two?

Why does anyone listen to these people anymore?

Dr. Evans comes to the very same conclusion in regards to his home country of Australia that I do in regards to the United States:

The onus should be on those who want to change things to provide evidence for why the changes are necessary. The Australian public is eventually going to have to be told the evidence anyway, so it might as well be told before wrecking the economy.

Still think AGW is real? Prove it.


Well, he made it. There were times in the past when we weren’t sure what he would be like at 16, but we are very proud of the young man David has become. Despite our best efforts, David did not want a big party. In fact, he preferred to not have much of a party at all. He just wanted his pie.

The gifts this year turned more musical as David pursues his passion for drumming and Rock Band. I have to admit (although I am biased), the kid has talent. I am blown away by his ability to pick up beats and riffs quickly and play them well. Some day he may even let us listen in while he practices!

You can see more pictures from his birthday in the gallery here.

Happy Birthday, Son. You are making us proud and we can’t wait to see what God has in store for you!


Ten Down, Two to Go

I have been remiss in not updating you all earlier, but David has passed another milestone in his educational career. Oregon state law specifies that homeschoolers are tested by a third party after the third, fifth, eighth, and tenth grade years. David took that test last month and, once again, did quite well.

You get all kinds of strange numbers to measure his scoring, but the most easily understandable is the “Grade Equivalent”. If he receives a GE of 11.3, that means he scored as well as the average student in the 3rd month of the 11th grade would have scored on the same test. 13.0 is the maximum and implies the student did as well as a college student would have on the same test.

The battery of tests includes two focused on reading, two focused on language arts, and two focused on math. His GE score was 13.0 on all but one of those and the outlier was still ranked 11.4. The overall GE was 13.0. A smashing success in all respects.

What makes this year even more exciting is that this is the last year David will have to take the state test. He is about to enter his junior year, so we actually have more pressing matters to plan. Up next in the coming school year will be the SAT and the ACT. The SAT didn’t scare David until I explained that he would have to arrive at the local high school at 8:00 AM on a Saturday morning to take them. That is, by far, the worst part for him.

To say that we are proud of his accomplishment is an understatement. He continues to do better and better each year and we can’t wait to see how well he does on the “bigger” tests. The implications are staggering for us, though, too. The fact that he will be taking the SAT and ACT within a year only means that college is right around the corner. That’s just amazing that it has arrived so soon.

Way to go, David! Keep up the great work!


For those who may not know me well enough, my childhood was heavily influenced by Lego. I loved Lego sets. I craved more pieces and more variety. I was constantly building spaceships, cities, and anything else that came to mind. For a little while, I was taking pictures of them so I could rebuild them later. I never did, though, because my imagination was always urging me on. Lego were possibly the most creative outlet I had until I discovered software engineering.

So, when I stumbled across this article at Gizmodo the other day, it really brought me back. I used to pore over the catalogs imagining how cool it would be to have every Lego Space set at once or what I could build with the large Technic sets they were marketing to pre-teen boys like myself.

The video attached to this story shows a quick tour through the Lego vault where they have one of almost every Lego set ever manufactured in off-the-shelf condition. That’s 4,720 different Lego sets. At 12, I would have been in heaven. Now, it just makes me choke up. This quote sums it up:

These weren’t just simple boxes full of bricks. These were tickets to ride a time portal to emotions and simpler days long forgotten.

Hmm, now where is my big, denim drawstring Lego bag?

WWDC 2008 – Day Five – Postscript

I couldn’t pass up posting a picture of this guy. I saw him earlier in the conference, but he just walked by the next table over so I took a quick picture. Some people grow out of their nerdier tendencies. Obviously this guy hasn’t:

Yes, that’s right, he has a custom-made wristband for his iPhone

I think he’s set back geek chic twenty years.

WWDC 2008 – Day Five – Winding Down

Okay, now it feels like a library. I’ve been sitting at the same table with power and networking for about three hours now. I’ve just been working away on some iPhone software and having a good old time. I looked around just now to see that it’s really thinning out, now. The beanbag lounge I’m in at the moment has maybe twenty or thirty people in it. It normally holds over 100. People are making plans for dinner or rides to the airport. Here’s what five days of this stuff has done to me:

There are still a few, like me, that are writing code and trying to squeeze one last bright idea out of the time here. These conferences are a little like going to a Christian retreat. It’s great to remove all the distractions of daily life and just focus hard on one particular area. You feel productive and energized and capable of great things. The first timers will figure out that, when you get back to your real job, though, life is much messier. I suspect those hanging around here know all about how the return to real life disrupts that feeling and want to take advantage of a few more quiet hours. I get that.

Still, as much as I love writing software and as much as I love getting to rub shoulders with so much brainpower, I am not built for living in this environment for long. I would blame it on age, but I’ve been this way since college. Even there, I recognized the breed of student who could experiment and tinker on things until 4am and then still pass their classes. That wasn’t me. I respect those folks, but I’m not willing to neglect the rest of my life, which I would have to do, to live that way.

My wife and son are more important than these geek-outs. The family God has adopted me into is more important than becoming a high-performing social misfit that is admired by many, but friend to none. In short, I had fun, but I’m sure glad to be heading out.

Stef and David, I’m coming home.


WWDC 2008 – Day Five – Lunch

Sorry for the late post today. I had to check out and get my luggage to the convention center. That took a little more time and I was a little winded when I get here.

That said, the morning went well. There was a “bash” for all the attendees last night that included beer and wine. The breakfast tables were quite empty this morning. I don’t know how much of that was attendees leaving overnight and how many were just hung over.

So, I’m done with both of the sessions I wanted to attend today. The first was just more detail about a particular programming area for iPhone, but the second was a “Tips & Tricks” session that included a mishmash of various techniques and ideas for building nice interfaces. It was fairly packed, so I’m guessing most of the iPhone developers have not gone home yet.

The rest of the day will consist of me wandering for the best power/network connection that includes a comfortable chair (they aren’t always in the same place). Other folks here will be leaving and others will loiter in the labs for as long as they are allowed to get advice and input on their killer app.

This also seems to be the time of the week when I start to get philosophical. I tend to think about what the grand message for the week was, what do I take away from the event, and what I will tell my boss on Monday. Of course, these events always have implications on our future plans. Sometimes it’s small (we can’t use the new stuff until it’s more widespread) or very big (that fundamental technology we depend on is going away or changing radically). This is somewhere in between. There are changes afoot, but nothing we need to worry about today.

I’ll check back in later as my philosophical side kicks in. I almost certainly won’t be updating from the SFO airport, though, as wi-fi is not free there.

WWDC 2008 – Day Four – The End is Near

Three more down. This afternoon I did two more iPhone sessions and learned quite a bit. I had to skip the really buzz-worthy last session of the day to go learn about something unglamorous, but more valuable to Inspiration at the moment. As I waited for the first afternoon session, though, I took some snapshots of the line forming to get in:

This line is right next to one of the lounge areas they have here. I actually spotted a couple of guys doing something other than checking email or reading code:

After this session and before the next (in the same room), I had a flashback kind of moment. First, you have to understand that they play music in each of the rooms between sessions. By the end of the week, you begin to hear the same songs over again and start to get tired of them. They’re usually modern pop and alternative songs that won’t offend or be too annoying. Today, though, someone dug up an old playlist. I had a flash back as I heard, in order: Video Killed the Radio Star, Kids in America, Sweet Dreams, I Melt With You, Planet Earth, and Higher Love. Wow. That made me feel young again.

Then, on the way out I got these shots of that big session emptying:

I expect tomorrow to be very laid back. Again, with the baseball metaphor, this is the time of the season when all the teams know how it’s going to end and they’re either getting ready for next year or planning for the playoffs.

I’ve seen a wide range of developers this week and they’re all over the map. For some, this was all brand new and they weren’t sure what to make of it. I’ve seen guys working on code and developing apps during the sessions. Then, I spotted one guy looking up terms on Wikipedia that any first year software developer should know. For others, this was the little bit of info they need to go take on the world. I’m excited to see what’s ready to go when the iPhone App Store goes live in a month. There’s going to be some fun stuff. I hope I’m rooting for something I worked on!