Star Wars Generations

The great thing about Star Wars is the way it transcends generations.

When the original Star Wars was released in 1977 (none of this “A New Hope” stuff please) I went to see it with my siblings. As young as I was at the time I still loved the visual effects, the droids and the story of a young man starting to come of age and find himself (though I certainly couldn’t describe it that way at the time). There are lines from the original film (and, in fact, the original trilogy) that I still quote to this day.

Forty years later I’m preparing to take my kids to the latest installment of the franchise. Although the characters have changed and/or evolved and the stars are different (mostly), I still enjoy watching the movies and sharing the experience with my kids. The neverending battle between good and evil, the still cutting edge special effects and the memories of my childhood meshing with memories of theirs.


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No, Bruce, The Glory Days Won’t Pass You By

Now I think I’m going down to the well tonight
and I’m going to drink till I get my fill
And I hope when I get old I don’t sit around thinking about it
but I probably will
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
a little of the glory of, well time slips away
and leaves you with nothing mister but
boring stories of glory days.
– Bruce Springsteen, “Glory Days”

When Bruce Springsteen wrote those words he was 35 years old. When I heard those words on the radio while driving last night I was 47. The words hit me differently now than they did when I first heard them as a teen in 1984. Back then I thought 35 was old. With the average life expectancy in the U.S. being 74.56 years old in 1984, 35 was almost halfway there and certainly a time in one’s life where they would want to be slowing down and not living quite as hard as earlier in their lives.

Now, 33 years later, the average life expectancy has gone up a few years and I’ve reached middle age. I hear that song and reflect on it quite differently. Yes, there’s an element of nostalgia just as the song was meant to induce. But I also think ahead and get excited for things to come. I don’t feel anywhere near as old as I thought I would at this age despite having some experiences I thought I wouldn’t have until I was a bit older than when they occurred.

I think of the character in the song having his beer and resigning himself to be a sad old man with nothing to talk about but the past before he’s even that old. And I think about how tragic that is. While I get very sentimental for certain times in my life and still consider the friends I grew up with to be among my best friends even though I almost never see or communicate with most of them, I have never looked at my future and considered my glory days to be behind me. There are always new experiences ahead. New technologies that push you to adjust the way you live your life. New relationships and experiences that shape the person you are today, not allowing you to remain stagnant.

No, Bruce, the glory days will not pass you by. That is unless you let them.

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Is My Father Just A Candle?

A candle burning throughout the day until well into the night when it finally burns out. Almost five years after my father’s death I often find myself wondering how his life is now nothing more than a candle that is burned a few times a year in his memory.

My father was many things to many people. He was very active in his community. He was very well known in his line of work. He was very charitable to many organizations. He was well like by his many friends. And he was much loved by his family.

But now he’s gone. His presence replaced with that of a candle which has a much shorter life but at least has the luxury of living out it’s natural lifespan.

But is this really true? Is a candle all we have left of him?

Though it’s been nearly five years since his death I still think of my father every day. I think of the influence he still has on the actions I take every day. I see the effect he had on my kids. Nary a conversation with my siblings goes by without some reference to something he said or did. Not a decision is made by my mother without considering how he would approach the same situation.

So I watch this candle burn and when my mind wanders to minimizing my father’s life to that of a candle I refocus myself. I think of some of the good times as well as some of the bad and remember that even though he’s gone he’s still alive in many ways.

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Minecraft: Installing Forge Without Installing Java

I recently got a new computer that my son wanted to play Minecraft on. Minecraft requires the Java runtime to be installed but with it’s memory, security and updating issues Java was one headache I didn’t want to have on this new machine. Lucky for me Mojang recently created a new version of their Minecraft launcher that includes it’s own version of Java. This version is isolated in the Minecraft installation directory and does not require installing Java on it’s own.

But then my son asked me about mods. He’s always used Forge for mods but when I tried installing Forge I got an error sayin that Java must be installed to run the Forge installer. So now I was back to my original Java problem: how do I install something that requires Java without installing the Java runtime?

The answer turned out to be quite simple: leverage the version of Java that was installed with Minecraft. Here’s how to do it in Windows 10. I’m sure Mac OSX is similar. Remember that before running a Forge installer fo any version of Minecraft you must first run that version of Minecraft on your machine.

  1. Go to the Forge website ( and download the .jar file for the version of Forge you want to install. This will be the version indicated by the word “Installer”. DO NOT download the “Installer-win” version. Save the file to the following directory:
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Minecraft\runtime\jre-x64\1.8.0_25\bin
    Note that your directory structure may be slightly different depending on which version of Java was included with the Minecraft installer you used. The main idea here is that the .jar file should be in the bin subdirectory of the Java install within your Mincraft installation (located in the runtime subdirectory of the install directory).
  2. Open up a command prompt (cmd) and go to the directory you just saved the .jar file to. Using the example above this command would be as follows:
    cd \Program Files (x86)\Minecraft\runtime\jre-x64\1.8.0_25\bin
  3. Use the version of Java in this directory to run the Forge installer in the .jar file. To do this type the following:
    java -jar forge-1.7.10-
    Substitute the name of your .jar file in place of the one in this command.

This will run the Forge installer. The rest of the details of how to complete the Forge install are well documented in other places so I won’t repeat them here.

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Updating IP Address In OpenDNS With Raspberry Pi

Like many people I use OpenDNS instead of my internet provider’s DNS. In addition to the speed gains I get (because it’s faster than my provider’s DNS) I like to look at the reports OpenDNS provides. In order for the reports to work OpenDNS needs my IP address. But my IP address is dynamic so every time it changes my reports break. What did I do about? I set up my Raspberry Pi to automatically update my IP address on OpenDNS. Here’s how I did it.

  1. From the command line type the following and hit enter:
    sudo apt-get install ddclient
    When prompted to continue just say yes. It may take a minute for the package to install so be patient.
  2. When the install completes the configuration interface will load. Keep tabbing to OK and hitting enter until the the interface closes.
  3. Once back at the command line type the following and hit enter:
    sudo nano /etc/ddclient.conf
  4. Enter the following in the ddclient.conf:

    OPENDNS ACCOUNT EMAIL ADDRESS should be the email account you use for your OpenDNS account.
    PASSWORD should be your password in single quotes (‘ ‘).
    NAME OF NETWORK should be the name you gave your network in your OpenDNS settings.

  5. Hit CTRL-X to exit nano. When prompted to save be sure to say yes and hit enter to confirm the file name.
  6. From the command line type the following and hit enter:
    sudo nano /etc/default/ddclient
  7. Find run_ipup and change the setting to false.
  8. Find run_daemon and change the setting to true.
  9. Find daemon_interval and change the setting to 3600.
  10. Hit CTRL-X to exit nano. When prompted to save be sure to say yes and hit enter to confirm the file name.
  11. Restart ddclient by typing the following at the command line and hitting enter:
    sudo /etc/init.d/ddclient restart
    If all went well you’ll see the following line and then be back at the command line:
    [ ok ] Restarting ddclient (via systemctl): ddclient.service.

This will now update your IP address on OpenDNS every 60 minutes. If you want to change the interval then change the daemon setting in /etc/ddclient.conf and the daemon_interval setting in /etc/default/ddclient to the desired time (in seconds).

To see if this all works type the following at the command line and hit enter:
sudo ddclient -daemon=0 -debug -verbose -noquiet

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