Interview with Michael Pobega

  • Who are you? What do you?

    I'm a 19 year old Perl hacker slash college student. I'm a Computer Science major at SUNYIT in Utica. To be truthful, I'm not a very good student; I spent my study hours teaching myself Perl and UNIX.

    As for my personal life, I live one boat ride away from Manhattan, so when I do have time home it's pretty hectic. Being upstate for college is so ... quaint, compared to living in the big city.

    I'm not really working on any large projects, but I am in the midst of working on a very lightweight an elegant blog software; the goal is to have one page (, one RSS feed (feed.rss) and one template file (template.html), and combine them all into a fully-functional blog. Then hopefully after that project is done I'll have the time to run my Sysadmin blog -- I plan on publicising a lot of the random hacks I make at work. For example, I just spent the last two days working on a daemon that uses Net::DBus to automatically log a user out when a preset idle time is reached.

  • Smaller Computers, More Powerful Computers, or Cheaper Computers?

    Smaller, generally. I like saving money, and I love netbooks. As I always say, the speed of the computer is up to the knowledge of the user installing the software on it. My EeePC 901 running Debian GNU/Linux runs as fast as most "modern" computers running Windows Vista.

  • Lets talk about technology: What kind of technology do you use, and what's the coolest thing that technology enables for you? What about your technology do you find frustrating?

    I love the freedom of expression technology brings. Being universal, it's hard to apply country-wide laws to internet use which opens up a whole new realm of free speech for those who previously haven't had it. But PERSONALLY, I just enjoy tinkering, learning and achieving goals. Nothing feels as good as finally finishing that program you've been working on for the last week.

    What I find frustrating is the amount of outdated documentation you run into. The reason I spent so long on my Net::DBus script is because the docs I was using were outdated. Thankfully buu on #perl pointed me to Net::DBus::Dumper, and I figured everything out myself.

  • Favorite Linux/UNIX Command (whatever, as long as it fits on one line.)?

    vi, of course :]

    Or if you mean a singular shell command, it's probably between perl, sed and awk. Those three programs have saved me countless hours of file editing.

  • The single scariest thing about the future?

    Google SkyNet(tm)

  • Favorite Website?

    Hmm ... Considering I don't browse the web too much, I'd have to go with The laughs never stop coming.

  • What do you think is going to be the most important event of the next 10 years?

    This one's hard to say. I think it can be one of three things;

    1. The development of high-functioning AI
    2. Using computers to replace non-functioning human senses (eyesight, smell, etc)
    3. Apple publicly announcing that their computers are overpriced
  • One thing that you wish you could learn?

    French. For some reason I can't seem to wrap my brain around spoken language.

  • Emacs vs. Vi

    vi, of course :]

    I mean, don't get me wrong; Emacs is a great operating system, but it's lacking a good text editor.

  • Where can we find more about you/your projects?

    Currently I don't have a site setup, but when I do it will be at any of these locations:

    Or you can just follow me on [Identica, @pobega](

Interview with Angie Marshall

Today's interview is with Angie Marshall. I think introductions here are pretty much uncalled for, so here we go:

  • Who are you? What do you?

    Angie Marshall, Legal Assistant is my paying job, but I am a Farm wife, mother of 3, a knitter, a former quilter and a half-assed gardener. I have multiple knitting projects OTN currently, but most consistently, I knit socks.

  • Merino or Blue Faced Leicester?

    Either is awesome, but I will admit a fondness for Merino.

  • Lets talk about technology: What kind of technology do you use, and what's the coolest thing that technology enables for you? What about your technology do you find frustrating?

    I use a palm centro for a phone, but alas, no interwebs connection from that. I like that it keeps my names/addresses/calendar at hand, but I am frustrated that i can't create I have an iPod touch that 98% of the time I use to listen to inspirational speeches or podcasts or audio books. I have music on it, but... meh. I have Scrabble and Soduko applications on it and I love them. This iPod frustrates me because I cheaped out on it and didn't get a big enough one so I am constantly juggling what gets put on it. I love my laptop, but wished the battery held more charge.

  • Favorite book you've read in the last year? Runners up?

    Hanging my head in shame... the Twilight series. I listen to audiobooks mostly, but I did read those in real book form. I read for entertainment.

  • Favorite Websites?

    Ravelry and Facebook.

  • What do you think was the most important event of the last 15 years?

    The election of our current President.

  • What do you think will be of the next 10?

    I look forward to our scientific minds developing a fuel source that doesn't depend on foreign oil. I hope that we take the lessons learned from this last war and we return to a self-sufficiency mindset so that we never again make the mistake of sending our troups to war over oil. >

  • One thing that you're most looking forward to in the next year?

    Getting better control of my life, cutting back to a 4 day work week (affirming, affirming), vacation, knitting camp, fresh asparagas morel mushrooms

  • One thing that you wish you could learn?

    Spanish, there is such a need for spanish speakers in all areas of employment. My French from long ago High School, just isn't much help.

  • Cats vs. Dogs?

    Cats in the house, Dogs outside. Nothing like a warm cat "spot" (or 2 or 4) on a cold morning or a sick day.

  • Where can we find more about you/your projects?

    Knit4Angine; The Grumpy Farmer but I don't post much; perhaps this interview will goad me into posting a little more often.

Interview with Judy Stein

Here's another interview for the interview series file. Enjoy!

  • Who are you? What do you?

I've had lots of jobs, but at the moment I only have three: running a folk club, host= ing a radio show, and teaching ballad-singing at the Folk School. Two of these are volunteer jobs. I am also a 40/50-hour per week babysitter for my 2-year-old grandson and adult in charge at my house. I have recently acquired a sewing machine and a few art supplies, and got my concertina back from a friend who borrowed it; the projects, they will come.

Ongoing activities for years include folk dancing, especially Border Morris. I have been dancing, I reckon, for roughly 51 years. Singing, roughly 60; collecting songs maybe 53. Reading, since before I started school. (I read history, detective stories, and Kipling, mostly. I will also pick up= anything by Terry Pratchett, and have only been disappointed once there. I like Shakespeare, don't care for Thomas Hardy or most poetry.)

Things I can do well enough to have made money at, either occasionally or on a regular basis: Drawing and painting. Sewing in a pants factory. General assistance in a doctor's office. Singing. Belly-dancing. Salesclerk-type selling: candy, pictures and mirrors. Writing. Teaching mentally ill and/or learning disabled children. All these jobs have their ups and downs.

As for Intellectual stuff: I admire but do not have the temperament for heavy-duty intellectualism: teaching has made my natural instinct for pragmatism even stronger, and too much nitpicky defining and speculation becomes boring to= me fairly quickly. Also there is a heavy-handedness that goes with too muc= h categorizing; I like exceptions to rules.

  • Jet Packs or Hovercars?

    They both sound like fun!

  • Lets talk about technology: What kind of technology do you use, and what's the coolest thing that technology enables for you? What about your technology do you find frustrating?

    I am a fairly backward person technology-wise: I'd say things like "the wheel" or maybe "cars" or "dishwashers" here. And I do like my computer. I also like binoculars. And shoes that actual ly fit your feet, that's technology. Digital cameras have proved convenient but slightly disappointing: they don't move fast enough. Cellphones are a mixed blessing too: they always need charging, and people expect you to HAVE one.

  • Favorite song at the moment? Tune? Who are the runners up?

    Song, at the moment: Dick Gaughan singing "Fair Flooer of Northumberland" or Louis Killen singing "April Morning." or Peter Bellamy singing "We Have Fed Our Sea," or Pete Morton singing "Another Train."

    Tune: "Orange in Bloom/Sherbourne Waltz," and there are millions of runners-up. I like shapenote hymns when someone else is singing them, but am too much of an anarchist to like following dots myself. Plus I am rather surly about church, and all the praise-the-Lord-ing gets to me sometimes. There is no why; there usually isn't, with what I like. I could come up with one if I tried, but I am not by na= ture very introspective.

  • Favorite Website?

    Wikipedia, for one. YouTube. Gutenberg Press. Sky and Telescope. Amazon.

  • What do you think was the most important event of the last 15 years?

    The ongoing growth of the Internet--a new Wild West. :D

  • One thing that you're most looking forward to in the next year?

    Reclaiming a few lost skills (see the first question)

  • One thing that you wish you could learn?

    Gardening. Actually, I'm not sure "wish" is the correct word: if I want to know something I can get a fair start on doing it. But I do intend to try my hand at making a proper garden next spring.

  • Doctor Who v. Red Dwarf?

    Dr. Who: mostly because I've never seen Red Dwarf but maybe once...

  • Where can we find more about you/your projects?

    The Focal Point; The LiveJournal; Folk School, or by asking me!

Interview with Scott Farquhar

Today's installment in the interview series is Scott Farquhar. Rather than spend a long time blathering about it, let me just get on with it. Shall we?

  • Who are you? What do you?

    Who are any of us, really? Right now I don't seem to be doing much but working at my old house and getting it ready to rent. But what I hope to go back to doing after I'm done is the main project of my Royalty Free Music podcast. The break away has been good in some ways. Once I get enough music to produce a commercial CD, I will probably lay that project aside and move on to the next shiny object.

  • Jet Packs or Hovercars?

    As exciting and thrilling as the Jet Pack might be, I think I'd have to go with the Hovercar so I could carry more stuff with me.

  • Lets talk about technology: What kind of technology do you use, and what's the coolest thing that technology enables for you? What about your technology do you find frustrating?

    I think I have to hold up my digital orchestra package as the niftiest piece of technology that I have in my personal arsenal. It essentially let's me have access to creating music with actual sampled orchestral instruments. If I want to write something for 5 violas, timpani, bass trombone, and english horn, I can... and relatively quickly have an accurate idea of what it will sound like without having to look for and pay those 8 musicians and get them all together to record. The frustrating aspect is that the music created is grounded in equal temperament, so it's got that flat, slightly out-of-tune sound that just doesn't sound quite right. Perhaps it is a good frustration, since it's clear that no matter how good technology will get, live musicians (and by extension into other areas of technology... people in general) just can't be replaced.

  • Favorite Star Trek Series?

    The original series. As neat and slick as the newer stuff has been, there's just something about the original.

  • The single scariest thing about the future?

    At the risk of sounding like a complete bastard... It seems like it's mostly the stupid (rude/inconsiderate/narrow-minded) people who are breeding. |soapbox| Humans are overpopulating this planet, with an ever increasing percentage of the overall population also contributing less and less. I honestly feel like my lifetime will see the beginnings of major strains on more basic resources like water and food, much less the fossil fuels more people are worried about right now. |/soapbox|

  • Favorite Website?

    Working with the idea of "favorite" being some nifty thing to share with other people (like favorite ice cream, etc.) then I'll have to pick NetFlix. I may visit other sites more often right now, but this is one I think other folks should check out, even though I think most people have probably already heard about it.

  • What do you think was the most important event of the last 15 years?

    In a world context, I'll have to say what I will call "The Rise of the Internet"... Sure, one can trace origins back as early as the 60s even, but it really was about 15 years ago that it started to become what it is today. In a personal context, it was buying a home... 'cause it started to make me feel like I'd finally grown up.

  • One thing that you wish you could learn?

    I've always wanted to learn how to tap dance. Perhaps, one day...

  • Cats vs. Dogs

    I do like dogs, and live with one. But I am really very much a cat person. They suit my personality much better.

  • Where can we find more about you/your projects?

    Oh, and I am "composerscott" on facebook, livejournal, and twitter.

Interview with Ted Jackson

  • Who are you? What do you?

    I'm a grad student at Washington University until the end of this school year when I will have hopefully finished and defended my dissertation on Hermann Hesse. In general, I'm really interested in modernism specifically, but I'll take an intellectual stab at about anything written from 1890 to the present. Despite being a humanist, I'm a bit of a computer geek: I'm writing my dissertation in LaTeX and a religious Lifehacker reader. I don't really do code, though, apart from the occasional Automator action or Applescript.

    Someday I would like to have a real job and maybe another cat or, dare I say, a first kid? I love a good book, but usually something that is a balance between complicated/dry and entertaining. I can tolerate a lot of craziness in a book, but let's face it, Ulysses is incredible though not exactly fun reading.

    I'm an avid knitter and sometimes spinner. I learned when I was about 6 or 7 from my great aunt, had a long hiatus, and started again in about 2004 with a pair of really loose socks. I also have a bin of worms in my apartment that compost food for me. Oh, and I love my cat, Dot.

  • Merino vs. Blue-faced Leicester?


  • Lets talk about technology: What kind of technology do you use, and what's the coolest thing that technology enables for you? What about your technology do you find frustrating?

    I'm a total mac person, but I dabble in open-source things. My favorite ability at the moment is to be able to sync bookmarks and notes to my computer and iphone via Evernote. I'm hoping I don't tire of it. I'm very forgetful, so knowing what's on my grocery list at any given time is awesome. I've even got a notebook of knitting ideas and patterns on there.

    I find Twitter completely frustrating, yet I find myself tweeting all the time. I've tried about 5 different clients, but none of them hide the messages I've already read and keep them hidden between computer and phone. Then there are those folks who write drivel constantly, but I can't unfollow them because I'm afraid they'd be offended. The worst, though, is that people think it's an acceptable form of news reporting.

  • Favorite book you've read in the last year? Runners up?

    My favorite book for the last couple years has been Donna Tartt's The Secret History. I'm thinking about reading it again, that's how much I liked it! I tried and got through 3/4ths of Crime and Punishment this summer, but have since abandoned it. Right now I'm reading Smilla's Sense of Snow.

  • Favorite Website?

    icanhazchezburgur although my browser says that I visit Ravelry more often!

  • What do you think was the most important event of the last 15 years?

    It's really hard to even begin to answer this question, but I suppose I have to give it a shot. I'd say it is probably the proliferation of wireless phones. Especially with the ability to take pictures and send text messages internationally, hostile leaders and regimes can no longer squelch the voices of their people. Honestly, in 1994 I never imagined myself owning a cell phone, let alone one that would be able to let me surf the internet or send email. For that matter, even when I was in college, email attachments were problematic: I also wouldn't have imagined me writing my dissertation in a city five hours away from my advisor.

  • The next 10?

    This will be us as a society learning to deal with this technology, especially for the type of people not used to teaching themselves to use new technology. Some people, like my parents, are slowly adapting to a digital lifestyle and are even fascinated with new gadgets without being pressured by people like me. I never considered myself a computer person, though, but rather one who could read the instruction manual. So much of the new technology assumes the user has a basic grammar of what it means to interact with a machine. Graphics replace text menus, and all of a sudden squares and triangles are essential instead of quick references. What this also means is that people like my grandparents may soon be completely left in the dark. I find it laughable that stacks of paper phone books still show up on my building's doorstep, but my grandparents would have no idea of how to find a phone number, even if they had a computer.

  • One thing that you're most looking forward to in the next year?

    I'm very excited about finishing my dissertation and to finally become what my family refers to as "Dr. Ted".

  • One thing that you wish you could learn?

    I would really like to be good at yoga, enough to give me exercise in the winter time and relaxation in the summer. I always feel like I will have to spend a fortune on lessons or classes. I've tried watching tapes, but I need someone to bend my legs and put my feet where they are supposed to go.

  • Hegel vs. Heidegger?

    Hegel wins in my book because I use his dialectic all the time. Sadly, I don't know much about Heidegger at all.

  • Where can we find more about you/your projects?

Interview, Rich Russell

I had this idea a few weeks ago, that to break things up during a particularly hectic part of my life--finishing a book, traveling, singing, and so forth--that I'd talk to some of the cool people I know on the Internet and elsewhere, and conduct a little interview series where I'd get to introduce you to some of the really interesting people that I've met in my travels thusfar, and ask them some questions about what they do, what they're interested in and up to in the world.

The first entry in this series is by my friend Rich Russell who has a rather and I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

  • Who are you? What do you?

    I was supposed to be a Rachel. So when mom regained consciousness and dad told her he had named me Richard, you can imagine her initial confusion. And then when my sister was born and I, who liked to sometimes pretend to be a girl when I was little (it was the eighties, after all; what of it?), was confronted by this actual Rachel, you can imagine how threatened I felt; there could be only one Rachel in our house, after all, and the jig was up for me. Rachel is dead; long live Rachel! So robbed of my infant identity, I later became a teacher, like my mom, which was either flattering identification with her or an attempt at character annexation, I can't decide which.

  • Handmade or Store bought?


  • *Really?*

    Well, unless I have to sew it, carpenter it, cobble it, tan it, cure it, or cook it myself; in which case, store bought.

  • Lets talk about technology: What kind of technology do you use, and what's the coolest thing that technology enables for you? What about your technology do you find frustrating?

    I'm teaching a few classes online this semester, so it's nice to be able to work with students who might not otherwise be able to attend school, due to their hectic family and/or work schedules. (We use the Blackboard Learning System, in case you're looking for shameless plugs that might generate ad revenue: "Blackboard Learning System, connecting students with their teachers and their futures.")

    And my sister lives out in L.A. now, so it's nice that we can video chat once a week over coffee; there's an added saccharin intimacy established by the video element. Because it's not real togetherness, is it? It's a kind of ersatz togetherness between my sister and me, the ersatz Rachel. E.M. Forster, in Howard's End, compels us to, "Only connect!" I don't know what that means anymore, though, when I'm teaching online or talking to my sister over Skype. Even when the wireless has a strong connection, I think, "This isn't what Forster meant at all." He meant that there would be nothing between human beings -- and other beings -- except ourselves. I feel, in some ways, here has risen the connection that repels. We believe we are closer; we believe we are connected, unless Comcast is being a fuck-up. But, like my one student who says he has taken so many of his classes online at this point that he's afraid to enter a real classroom and interact synchronously with fleshy classmates, have we lost the ability to be intimate? What does 'intimate' even mean anymore?... (But I love my iPhone. But I realize that is a manufactured desire.)

  • Favorite Post-structuralist/Post-modernist? Who are the runners up?

    I was going to go with "Freddie" Jameson, because I loved what we read of him when I read him back in a Post-modernism course at the New School with Professor Joshua Gaylord (lol gay lord) in 2002. Or Roland Barthes; but I'm sure a lot of people will go with R.B. So I think I'll choose Angela Carter instead, especially for her novel The Passion of New Eve, which still haunts me nine years after I first read it; some of the most sublime moments in all of literature. Runners-up: Muriel Spark, Laurence Sterne. (Miss Congeniality: Russell Edson.)

  • The single scariest thing about the future?

    The future is neither good nor bad.

  • Favorite Website?

    I subscribe to The Atlantic but still find myself spending a lot of time on

  • What do you think was the most important event of the last 15 years? What's going to be the most important thing about the next 10 years?

    9/11/99; I had been living in New York for about three weeks then. I was about to fall in love. It would be like a holocaust. (This is all about me, after all, isn't it? Or did you mean for humankind in general? Yes, I suppose that's what you must've meant; well...) In ten years, the most important thing for humankind (and not just me) will be to see what we have done to this planet. This feels like a lame response, because it's so chic right now to care about the planet (I've always cared!), but I am curious to see. Will there be sulfur aerosol sprays diffused into the atmosphere like in Blade Runner? Will there be flying cars like we've been promised there would be flying cars ever since The Jetsons? (FYI: I think we're past wanting flying cars, aren't we? I'd be more happy for some high-speed rail.) Will I ever get to see a narwhal?

  • One thing that you wish you could learn?

    I would like to read all of Proust. Because I have masochistic tendencies. And I like small buttery sponge cakes.

  • Edmund Spenser or John Milton?

    Milton, hands down. I never did make it through all of The Faerie Queene(lol faerie queene). That old Spenserian scheme drives me coo-coo after awhile; I do believe it is the rhythm of madness.

  • Where can we find more about you/your projects?

    I blog and am rarjr on twitter.