President Obama at Newtown, CT

The original purpose of this blog was to be a journal of the tears I shed, why I shed them, and whether they were worth shedding. The murder of twenty children and six adults in Newtown, CT has had me crying a few times, over the last few days. Here is President Obama’s speech at a prayer vigil for the victims. It also made me weep, but, as always, I’m glad I took the time to listen.


My dad's birthday.

Kurt Murray Sr.
Nov. 11 1947: Kurt Murray Sr. would have been 65, today. This is the first birthday after his passing and I miss him terribly.




Why Obama Now



I'm job hunting, again. It's the first time in a few years, and my old resumé is just boring and maybe even a little puzzling. It's a standard, old-style CV which seems to jump from one field to another at a couple points but doesn't really show the whole story. So I'm trying something different. A biographical resumé that not only says where I've worked, but what I did and even sometimes why. Hopefully it'll present a clearer picture.

Kurt Murray's Work History

I graduated from high-school in 1993. That summer, I started working for Wal-Mart as a stock-boy and teller. That fall, I started at North Arkansas College as a part-time student. Soon I had a second job working for the college I.T. department supporting the Macintoshes on campus as well as helping students and faculty with their websites. This was the mid-90s, and the Internet was still a very new phenomenon. I had taught myself HTML and, with that knowledge, helped build and maintain dozens of websites during my time at NAC.

I kept both jobs for the next few years while going to school. During this time, Wal-Mart promoted me to Customer Service Manager, where I had nightly responsibility over customer returns, refunds and half a dozen cashiers with nightly register totals and preparing cash-bags for bank deposit.

In 1998, I switched colleges and left those two jobs to start attending College of the Ozarks as a full-time student. College of the Ozarks is a work-for-tuition school, and during my time there I had a summer job working construction to pay for my room and board, and, while school was in session, I worked at KCOZ, the college radio station, as this related to my fine arts major in Mass Communications.

I met my future wife at C of O, and after a year there, we decided to get married. I would change priorities temporarily and work full-time to support us, and she would finish her degree (she was closer to graduation). Our plan was for me to refocus on school after she'd earned her license as a Registered Dietician. During her final year in school, I was hired in the back-office as a Proof Operator at Ozark Mountain Bank. That involved balancing teller transactions as well as verifying and correcting account activity on all types of personal and commercial accounts.

After her graduation, my wife and I moved to Chicago where she attended a year-long Dietetic Internship. I found a job at DPM Advertising (now Movéo) working as a web developer building web sites for clients. We built everything from sites for political campaigns to customer-facing informational websites to client- and internal-facing corporate intranets. I added CSS to my skill-set and learned how to build database-driven sites hosted on IIS, Linux and even early versions of OS X.

During this time, my wife had obtained her license as a Registered Dietician and was working in her chosen field and my co-workers at Movéo had become our close friends. We had two children. We bought a house.

Sadly, in November 2002, I lost my wife in a car accident. Also, not long after, my younger child - my daughter - was diagnosed with autism, and I decided to move back to my hometown in Arkansas to be close to family for support and where I could more easily afford to be a single parent. I continued to work for Movéo for the next two years as a full-time telecommuting consultant. The demands of being the sole caregiver of a child with autism started to require more and more of my attention so I scaled back to part-time contracting, which I have been doing since 2004.

I've worked on a few tasks, including a two-year project as a subcontractor helping one of the major search engines verify and refine search results and even an 18 month assignment as telephone customer support for a national electronics chain. I'm fine working on months- or years-long telecommute projects, but I'm hoping to find something a bit more permanent. Something where I can be part of a team and develop long-term relationships with my colleagues.

My son made this. It's more than a little awesome.

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Politics 101

There’s a definite reason why I love The Rachel Maddow Show so much. I grew up in the very Conservative South, and, while I figured out in my teens that Conservatism was wrong, I was never exposed to dissenting viewpoints so I could figure out exactly why I knew it was wrong.

Rachel is brilliant at explaining why and giving the history and statistics to prove her point. She is an actual Political Scientist.

I also enjoy other Liberals like John Fugelsang who are funny - and correct! - in their politics, but come far more from the gut rather than pure intellect.

Rachel is almost pure intellect. Funny, emotional, and righteous intellect, but intellect nonetheless.



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I think I just quit?

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I’ve recently been following a couple of threads on the Star Wars: The Old Republic fora about the game’s lack of a mac-native client and their plans (or lack thereof) for one. I just posted this and it was one of those things where I hadn’t realized I was making a decision until I’d already written it out and was ready to click “Submit.”

“As much as I love SWTOR, with the lack of a decently performing (or even supported!) mac client, and no plan for one in the foreseeable future, I'm just going to unsub when Mists of Panderia comes out and go back to WoW.

I live my life connected to a network for work, play and leisure and OS X/iOS make that lifestyle so much more enjoyable than any other solution available. Having to stop everything, cut myself off from essential services and boot into uncomfortable, inhospitable Windows just to play a game is more than I can take. It's like keeping my hobby in a rackety old shed that I have to walk a mile through brambles to reach instead of keeping my hobby in my clean, comfortable, tastefully appointed modern home.

I had a ton of fun in WoW for 7 years, and I'd hoped to start a new multi-year experience with SWTOR, but Blizzard is much better at keeping me happy, it seems.

Mods, Macs, and much more end-game - WoW is winning me back.”

I wanted to re-post it here because it speaks to a bigger issue. Apple is one of the world’s biggest computer manufacturers (again) and literally the largest, most successful company ever. Companies like EA and Bioware ignore mac-users at their peril.

Ease up, Snarky Jackasses...

Dammit, you snarky jackasses, cut George Lucas a break.

The prequels are exactly what Lucas always claimed they were: Sci-Fi pulp thrillers along the lines of the serials he grew up watching in the 40s and 50s. Shocker: Flash Gordon was pretty goddamn dumb. It’s not Lucas’ fucking fault if you were too old in 1999 to feel the exact same wonder and excitement at a sci-fi movie that you felt as a pre-adolescent in 1978. The second and third prequels were actually pretty damn good. Just appreciate them for what they are, not the unreal expectations they failed to live up to.

method clean happy anthem


Eureka! USPO-ISP!

I just had a wild idea…

I live in a rural area, and my income is dependent on a reliable internet connection. Because I’m rural, I’m paying three or four times as much as broadband customers in other regions for much slower access speeds. There are cellular data plans, but they’re not competitive, yet, with wired broadband, and the wireless data carriers aren’t required to stay net-neutral.

I think what we need a national wireless network. A modern equivalent of Rural Electrification to get wireless broadband to every corner of the country. A network where you didn’t have to buy an unnecessary land-line or tv-cable package or cell-phone contract to get connected. A net-neutral on-ramp to the internet that won’t mess with your data or access speeds in order to gain some sort of competitive advantage. A network that every computer, laptop, and tablet could connect to, anywhere, all under a single personal or family account.

Naturally, we’d make this new national network part of the US Postal Service. It’d still be for profit like the current postal system, but it’d be the Public Option for broadband access. Profit isn’t the main directive, providing access to a critical service is. The costs would be low so as few barriers to entry as possible for the average citizen, and there could be federal assistance in place for lower income families. It would be parallel to the existing wireless networks of the cell phone companies, but it’d force them to be more competitive in price and service.

And it would create thousands upon thousands of solid, union jobs.

Too crazy?

The Final Encyclopedia

The Final Encyclopedia
I’ve been re-listening to the audiobook version of Gordon R. Dickson’s “The Childe Cycle,” recently, and I’m currently on “The Final Encyclopedia (TFE). It’s probably my favorite though it really is difficult to chose as every story in the Cycle has amazing characters and elements. That’s probably why I usually think of it as a complete set of works rather than individual books.

I’m not sure how old I was when I read my first book from this collection (probably around junior-high), but I know which one it was. It was “Dorsai!” Dorsai! is practically a pamphlet compared to TFE - 7 hours in audiobook compared to over 30 hours - but it’s the lynchpin of the set. The main character of Dorsai! is Donal Graeme and it’s also the story that introduces Kensie and Ian Graeme, his uncles, that for all the brevity of their appearances have a massive influence to the overall arc of the Cycle.

Lost Dorsai
I can’t begin to describe how influential these books have been to me, but one of the main things that’s been running through my mind is the concept of the Final Encyclopedia, itself. In the books it’s described as a futuristic repository of the sum of all human knowledge (as imagined in the early 80’s). A tool that would allow humanity to unlock it’s true creative potential.

In the main, I think Dickson was right. The Internet in its current form is essentially what he was describing the Final Encyclopedia to be; a tool that a scholar can use to bring whatever knowledge he or she doesn’t already have immediately to hand. And - despite what detractors would say - I think we’re using it to essentially accomplish what it was ultimately used for in the books; the further evolution of humanity.

This is an amazing time to be human.


A lot of friends and family have been buying Macs, recently, so I thought I’d post some tips and tricks to help out those who might be newcomers to the world’s best consumer OS.

Mac OS X is very well engineered and pretty secure, but a small malware ecosystem does exist. So do Mac anti-virus solutions. The one I use is ClamXav. Primarily because it’s free, but also because it is full-featured. You can donate to the authors (and you shiould), but it’s still fully functional even if you don’t.

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You can set schedules for automatic scans and updates:

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And you can even have it constantly scanning high-risk folders like shared network volumes or your ~/Downloads folder.

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I’ve had good experience with it. It doesn’t take up too much processor time, and it’s nicely unobtrusive and easy to use.

Poor guy...

I found this video sadly comical. The product rep is doing his best with the little HP has given him to work with. The target audience are “Fashionistas?” Some marketers probably high-fived each other when that bon mot was tossed out during a meeting.

Around four minutes in to his pitch, you can just see the product rep deflate when the interviewer says something like, “I mean this as a compliment, but it looks a lot like a MacBook Pro.”

It’s especially sad when you think about Steve Jobs introducing the MacBook Air back in 2008. The MacBook Air has been upgraded a few times since, and the HP that was just released still isn’t nearly as sleek as the ’08 MBA.