Archive for the 'Life' Category

Thank you

It’s Thanksgiving and I’m sitting down here in South Carolina while the feast is being prepared. I have a nice internet connection and am soon going out for run, so things are great.

The wife hurt her back this week cleaning out the rabbit cage. She was taking it outside and slipped on the steps and landed on the stoop with a crushing blow to her butt. Luckily she did not break anything but she is pretty much laid up for at least the week. The drive down for her was painful, that it was.

I’m thankful for my wife and two daughters most of all. Without them life would not be as fun and awesome.

I’m thankful for my parents and extended family, their support and love over the years has been fantastic.

I’m thankful for my friends both old and new, across the world. I learn so much from you and value the time I get to spend with you be it physical or virtual.

I’m thankful for Linc, Allan, Pat, Joel, Dave, Chad, ThreeThirty and Klaatu of TLLTS for the wonderful shows we have done and their friendship that has both encouraged and challenged me over the years.

I’m thankful for all our listeners both the vocal and silent, the encouraging and discouraging. You keep me going and challenged to do better.

Have a great day everyone and enjoy life to the fullest!

Bad Happenings Heaped On

A Nor’easter blew in Thursday morning halting just about everything in the Hampton Roads area including schools, my work and around 3:00 our power. That means the server was down. So if you went to and met with failure, that is why. We spent most of the day relaxing, catching up on sleep. Man, I slept more than the dog I think.

Friday was more of the same weather wise. No school and no work, the roads were flooded out. Still no power too, but it was daylight and we could actually do stuff. I set to cleaning out my office while the wife and kids cleaned the rest of the house. Man did I ever put a dent in that hell hole. It is actually presentable.

The wife went for a walk and learned that we should not expect power to be back on until after 10:00 p.m. on Saturday. So we made the call and arranged for the kids to go down to visit Grandma as we both had work the next day and did not want to leave them home with no power.

Luckily we did not have to drive the whole way. My sister-in-law met us just inside the North Carolina border a point only about 3.5 hours from us. That is when the most terrible of tragedies happened. About 10 minutes after we left the meeting point I went to pull up my Sansa Clip to play some Lonely Island when I noticed the audio cable was a bit tight, like it was caught on something. Yeah, it was caught on something alright, it was caught in the door. I recalled having a bit of trouble closing the door when I got out at the meeting point and thought it was the seat belt. Well I cracked the door and pulled up the audio cable with a broken tip and no Sansa. I was bummed.

Sad Dann, broken sansaI called my sister-in-law and we drove back to the meeting place which was her husband’s, mother’s house, fingers crossed the whole way, but alas, the clip was dead. It was found non-functional with a cracked screen in the driveway after we had pulled out. I was majorly bummed.

Well, we had some great discussions on the way back at least and to our surprise, the power was back on when we got home. Well, we shipped the kids off for nothing but on the bright side, the wife and I got to spend the weekend alone!

The power was on, but the cable was still out. Cable did not come back until some time Saturday night. We ended up having a great weekend just hanging around the house. I made mint meatballs on Saturday and then home made gnochi with a cream tomato sauce on Sunday. We watched I Am Legend, the first two episodes of V, and caught up on Daily Show, Robot Chicken, Venture Brothers and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Good times!

Tomorrow the wife has to go pick the kids up. That is a long trip for her, but at least she gets to see her mom. She’ll be back home Tuesday which leaves me all by lonesome tomorrow night. Maybe I will do something techie.

Mythbuntu Upgrade, Sansa Clip and Spam

My Insignia player died – boohoo. It started faltering about two weeks ago when I noticed it was not playing certain ogg files. The the other day the voices on the audio track were serverly low. Most of the melody and percussion were fine but the voice track was almost inaudible. This made it incredibly diffcult to listen to podcasts.

I got permission from the wife and ordered a 2gb sansa clip off newegg for $39.99. It’s a small black player about 2.5 inches tall and 2 inches wide – about half the size of the insignia. It weigh about half as much too. That is probably the most difficult thing to get used to, it’s dimensions and weight. Holding it is rather odd because so light.

Navigation with the device is great and I like how it saves the positon of each file you play. So if I want to stop a podcast and listen to music I can go right back to that podcast where I left off.

Speaking of podcasts, I like how it allows for a separate podcast and music directory. That makes going to what I want all the easier.

Thus far, I give the sansa clip 2 thumbs up, a great purchase.

Today I decided to upgrade my mythbuntu from hardy to intrepid. Yeah, I’m way behind, I know. The upgrade was pretty smooth but my old xconfiguration did not work. That was a simple run of nvidia-xconfiguration and I was back in action. Soon I will upgrade to jaunty and then probably karmic. Whoohoo!

Finally, spam is just getting out of hand. I’m glad there are many tools for dealing with it, but man does it make using the interwebs and running services problematic. The amount of spam we were getting on the tllts laconica server was ridiculous. I’ve implemented some more measures to handle this and so far they have held up.

People take a good thing and destroy it all in the hopes of making a buck. Damn, oh damn!

When You Screw Up It Stinks, Make Sure You Got People!

When the person who usually fixes the problems causes a big one it really stinks. That was my mistake at work today. I pushed some code to production expecting things to go as normal only it did not. And lo was I to behold 10 minutes later my mistake when payments started failing. That is a very stressful feeling when you are under gun to find the problem and fix it. Not a fun thing to do. But one point is paramount, you have to admit you mistake and let it be known and fix it.

The problem was simple, the fix was quick but 20 minutes had gone by and there were 133 payments afterwards to adjust manually on my part. Regardless when my work was finished it was in the hands of the account managers to work with the customers. That my friends is where it is most important to cultivate relationships.

More often than not “techie” people are categorized as anti-social and at times socially hostile. While there is some truth to that, it behooves each individual, techie or not, to learn and implement proper social skills. When the time comes that you mess up big time, thoes relationships will pay off as your team will have your back. You can depend on them as they have come to depend on you and you can tap those relationships to help you out of a bind with as little negative impact as possible. When a mistake makes everyone’s life more difficult, having solid, supportive relationships that you have built will get you and everyone else through with as little damage as possible.

Do not neglect those around you my friends, and practice friendliness and humility. It pays off in the long run!

Walmart – wtf?

Last Saturday I was checking out at Walmart. I was looking for a place to set some frozen pizzas so they would not get crushed. I was in the aisle with the soda coolers and looking on top of the cooler I found two chicken wing bones. I thought to myself: “Of course!” I mean come on! It’s Walmart! What do you expect?

Case in point, take a look at People of Walmart for more validation of this sentiment.

But then I got to thinking… In any other store, had I found chicken bones I would have been appalled and considered never shopping there again. Now I will say given the amount of traffic that goes through the Walmart I usually shop and that they are open 24/7 I have to say they do a pretty darn good job keeping the place clean. But then again, is it the actual store that is appalling or a segment of the people shopping there? Do I want to shop in a store people treat like a garbage can?

Sure Walmart is synonymous with cheap, mass-produced, imported goods from a company that undercuts the local mom and pop establishments. But if you are going to shop there, at least show some respect for the employees and the people of your neighborhood.


Bad News, Sad News, Good News

Well the sad news is that my boss of the last three years is leaving the company to take a job in Kansas. Not only was he a great boss but he was probably the best software engineer I have ever met. This guy was a coding god and it was great to learn under him. I wish him the best of luck in the future but I know where ever he ends up, he’s gonna do a bang up job.

The bad news, well, it’s not that bad really, but the division in my company that I work for has been transferred to another division. In the process of doing this, the shared resources we a lotted from our team to the original division are not coming with us. We lost two engineers, two web developers, a top level manager and our system administrator. It sucks losing team members like this. Even more, we are being moved from the 16th to the 13th floor. Uh-oh! Unlucky 13.

On the flip side to this, that means the remaining engineer and myself have to step up and take the project over. That means doing it our way, the way we think it should be done with hopefully some guidance. Had my manager not taken the job in Kansas we would have lost him anyway in the move. Alas, it is sink or swim for us and we aim to finally take the project to the next level.

Now the good news! Erin is being laid off! Why is that good news? Well that is going to force her to get her Massage Therapist Certification all the sooner, no dilly-dallying around; not that I think she would have. She has until mid-November to get things cleared away on that end and then hopefully she will roll right into her new career full time or with a bit of a break.

The tough thing about her leaving her job is that she already does Massage Therapy work as a grad student level in the clinic at the school she went to an has the opportunity to work in their partner saloon. But until she gets certified she really cannot work anywhere else nor get paid the full salary. Thus, we have to be careful how many hours she works like this after she gets laid off or she cannot get supplemental un-employment until she finds a full time gig. That would be a serious hit to our income which stinks. I need me monies! I am falling behind on comic books and computer equipment!

Galileoscope Arrives

After listening to Russ Werner glowing review of the Galileoscope project on the The Techie Geek podcast I figured I just had to check it out. Like the OLPC, you can order a nice telescope like Galileo used for $20 or get two for $30 where one goes to a disadvantage child. Of course I did the latter.

I was really psyched for this thing to come and it finally arrived today. It took about 10 weeks and I almost gave up hope, but arrived it did. The kit came with directions to assemble and it was a fun job putting it together. But alas, after 4 nights of clear skies and a full moon, today it is overcast. Boohoo. Oh well, I cannot wait until the next clear night to give it a whirl.

OLF 2009 – Where was Shaun Powers?

OLF 2009 was a blast! The drive to and from was viscious. While I broke it up with some napping in a rest area going up, coming home was straight through and boy did it wipe me out!

Day one: It was great getting together with Allan, Dave, Joel and Linc again. Great hosts, even greater guys! Shoprat was there which is always a hoot. We ran to Max and Ermas for lunch then went to the pre-show stuff. The Podcasters BOF was a bit low key and was followed by the wedding of Randy and Janet officiated by Lord D. What an event! I truly wish Randy and Janet a wonderful life together!

Dinner was a BD Mongolians. Afterwards I had to head back to the convention center to make sure all was good to go for my presentation. This was a damn good idea because my laptop video card would not pick up the projection system. About an hour later and some manual configuration on my part and I was good to go. I made it to the pre-party at Barley’s almost 2 hours late. Had a few beers then headed back for some sleep. No hard partying this year! I told you guys!

The convention was a blast. We got see a lot of old listeners and meet new ones. My presentation on the Linux Boot Process went a lot better than I expected. I had standing room only (although I did see some empty seats). I ran too close to the wire and had to rush the ending a bit. I expected this and should better prepare next time.

The rest of the day was spent hanging out at the booth. I did manage to catch a talk on the Legalities of FOSS from a Hacker’s Perspective by Tom “Spot” Callaway of RedHat. This was a fabulous talk and I highly recommend listening to it when the audio files are released.

I must say, where the heck was Shaun Powers? I caught some of his opening Keynote but after that, I never saw him again. Nor did I see him at any of the pre-show events. Wonder why he did not hang around?

The post party was nice. I only stayed for about 15 minutes and then I took Joel home. On the way back to the party I got sidetracked by following Dave Yates into the Hyatt bar and hanging out with him and a bunch of other people not limited to Susan (notKlaatu’s significant other), notKlaatu, MonsterB, JLindsay and many more. (Yeah, I am getting lazy now). I was there until after 2:00 when I finally called it a night and went to bed.

Saturday was saying goodbye to the tllts crew and heading home. What a dreadful ride.


9.5x hour drive, 4 hours sleeping in a rest area, rain off and on, I’m finally in Columbus, Ohio. It’s a bit grey and dismal here, but what can you say? It’s Ohio.

Having lived in the flatlands of Hampton Roads I must say the whole back to the mountains driving was unsettling. Good thing it’s not winter and icy.

The West Viriginia senic views were beautiful. When I pulled into the rest area around 4 a.m. I could see nothing. In the morning the landscape opened up into a beautifully, foggy valley; lush folliage rolling up the mountain side. Except for the highway it was so pretty!

Along came the clarinet

This year my daughter was offered the opportunity to join band. This is great, but I was a bit bummed it did not come sooner. Back in my day insturment lessions were started in 3rd grade unless you wanted violin and that was started in first grade. Oh well, better late than never.

At first she was not going to take band, but then she reconsidered and decided on the clarinet. So Saturday we went to rent the clarinet and get the books and from there it has been epic. She has been playing the heck out of it, and that is so great. She loves it!

What is great about music is that it is such a creative process, like programming, an art. Something one can pick up and make magic with and have so much fun doing it.

Unfortunately we picked up the wrong music book so I had to go back to the store. This, though, allowed me to pick up the same beginning book for the trombone so I can play along with her and get my lips back in shape. To my dismay, though, they had such an enormous amount of trombone books in stock. When queried the guy at the music store said there just isn’t much interest in the greatest insturment in the band!

I did see a sweet valve bone, brand new for almost three grand. Wow!

Tonight we played together for the first time, it was a blast. Strictly whole notes and all. But it was great.

I am getting to learn how to play a reeded insturment which is very interesting.

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