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Went to April & Brian's again (near Cleveland) for Brian's brithday. Took the thinkpad to catch up on some e-mail and coding.
There's a lot of snow out their way. They got something like 14 inches yesterday. I guess I've seen my quota of snow for this trip.
Went with Mom to visit Kelly, Neil, and the kids. Did other random stuff such as upgrading Dad's linux box to Debian's "testing" distribution rather than the "stable" one. Gotta get a new kernel on that box and setup the software RAID for /home soon.
Went for a walk with Mom. It was really cold outside. But that's Ohio in the Winter, I guess.
Random computer stuff today and out to dinner and a show with the Traush family.
So I've been listening to the BBC Radio 1 broadcasts on the experimental Ogg Vorbis stream off and on for a couple days now. And I've noticed a couple things:
- It's very clear.
- The music is quite good much of the time.
- The DJs aren't nearly as bad as most of the US DJs.
In other words they have demonstrated, once again, how much better things could be.
Guess who had Pollyeyes Breadsticks with dinner today. :-)
Found some good reading on Joel's site. Specifically:
- Top Five (Wrong) Reasons You Don't Have Testers
- The Joel Test: 12 Steps to Better Code
- Two Stories
- Getting Things Done When You're Only a Grunt
- Painless Software Schedules
- The Guerrilla Guide to Interviewing
- Command and Conquer and the Herd of Coconuts
- Painless Functional Specifications - Part 1: Why Bother?
- Where do These People Get Their (Unoriginal) Ideas?
That's quite a load, but like I said, it's good stuff.
After having slept a few hours (up late wrapping gifts), I was awoken by Mom (who managed to over-sleep) so that I could eat, shower, and get ready for the 2.5 hour trip to April & Brian's place.
We left a few minutes late and had an uneventful trip. I had my trusty ThinkPad with me, so I was able catch up on a bit more mail and start reading bits of the slimp3-dev mailing list (which I haven't touched for months!).
Dinner was good. We played a few games and were generally lazy. I gave the ThinkPad battery a good charge.
On the way home, I read most of the slimp3-dev archive that I've amassed. Lots of interesting development going on. Now only if I can spare a bit of time for it (just like I do with SpamAssassin).
I borrowed several DVDs from Brian. Hopefully I'll be able to watch 'em all before giving them back on Sunday when we make this trek again.
Got to San Jose airport for my flight to Detroit. There were NO LINES AT ALL, so I've got a lot of e-mail to catch up (and queue), I guess. At least I found a power outlet that the Northwest folks will let me use. :-)"There is no smoking in the terminal. San Jose international airport thanks you for your cooperation."
How many more times must I hear that today?
In Other News...
It occurs to me that I'm really dumb sometimes. While this doesn't come as any great revelation, I just realized the extent of it.
Like last year, I did virtually all of my Xmas shopping on-line this year. Almost all of it was via Amazon.com (which my fingers always want to write as amazone.com for some reason). I had all the stuff shipped to my Dad's work address so that he can bring the boxes home. Then I can just wrap the stuff when I arrive.
Now here's the dumb part. I'm arriving in the very early morning on Xmas day. It'll probably be 1:30am before we get to the house. I'm probably not going to be in the mood to wrap things. But when else am I going to do it?
Had I been thinking, I'd have used Amazon's gift wrap service and not had anything to worry about.
Well, today has been rather uneventful. Since I'm getting ready to travel yet again, I've been doing laundry, cleaning, and various time-wasting in between.
Went to put a new sponge on my sponge mop today, since the old sponge has mostly disintegrated. Surprise! The new one doesn't fit. So I had to go to the store and get a new sponge mop.
Finished making arrangements for the cats while I'm gone. That reminds me--I need to go visit Josh's cats again.
The massive rsync is nearly done. 18BG in about 2.5 days isn't too bad. :-).
I downloaded the latest slimp3 software from slimp3.sf.net and played with it. I was pleasantly surprised to find a rather good (yet simple) browser interface. Now I can control just about everything remotely without line-of-sight to the device.
I'm considering adding the ability for folks to leave comments in response to stuff here. But don't know if anyone would actually use it.
Here's the rsync output:wrote 69328 bytes read 17825946550 bytes 170769.36 bytes/sec total size is 19882286305 speedup is 1.12
For the curious, litterbox.zawodny.com (which will be up in January) is a SuperMicro 5011E system.
Unfortunately, it only goes up to 512MB RAM, so the extra 512MB DIMM I bought will have to be used elsewhere. Hmm.
The massive rsync of MP3 files has begun. I'm probably gonna soak up about 18GB of cable modem bandwidth when it's all done. Hey, at least I'm not charged by the bit. :-)
The replacement hard disk arrived today.
litterbox.zawodny.com is nearly ready to go. Should be on-line this weekend from the PAIX.
Went and saw the Lord of the Rings movie today. Boring.
Yesterday was uneventful.
So was today.
I think I'll get a haircut tomorrow. But I'll fight with a Livingston (Lucent) RADIUS serven on Solaris 2.8 first. That sounds mildly entertaining.
In response to the most recent message in a mail thread with one of my co-workers, I wrote the following:It occurs me that it'd be a lot more entertaining if work was more like a Greek tragedy... or comedy. :-) Wonder how we can arrange for that..
If anyone has suggestions, I'd love to hear 'em. :-)
I did a fair amount of cooking today (for me, at least). I made the famous family recipe for sweet potatoes. They came out nicely, though I did let the potatoes get a bit too soft and the syrup was a bit runny. Not bad for a first try. I also made some pumpkin bread from a Pillsbury box. I had some eggs to use up soon.
Got a new Scotch at the store to try out. So far I don't think it is as good as the previous bottle. It's too bad it takes so long to finish off a bottle--there's a lot of stuff left to try!
Got up around 9:30am. Ate waffles. Hacked on a bit of code, cleaned up my jitterbug queue. Got tired and took a nap.
Awoke at roughly 5pm, mildly surprised. Ate leftovers. Caught up on e-mail. Played with the cats. Went to Derek's to watch movies.
Work was a bit unproductive today, but I guess that's life some days. Lots of talk and very little action. Oh, well. I've got some new machines to play with, so all is not lost.
Tried the bottle of wine I got from Marc Andressen at Loudcloud recently. It went pretty well with my Chinese take-out dinner.
We had some DNS problems on one of the WCNet.org machines today. Not sure what caused that, exactly. Very odd.
The NuSphere thing is nearly done, I think. And it's just in time, 'cause I need to put in some serious book time soon. I even ordered a new laptop battery so that I can work while traveling in a few weeks.
Went home early to meet Dan at my place. We did geeky stuff and finally hung my posters.
Happy Birthday, Janet!
It's official. My old desktop (peach.zawodny.com) lost its largest hard disk, a 60GB Maxtor that was about 14 months old. It's going to be replaced under warranty, but the data is gone forever. I learned my lesson. Backups. Backups. Backups.
And RAID. I'm gonna look at rigging up software RAID (just 'cause I'm too cheap to buy the hardware kind and I don't need the incremental performance boost from hardware--this IS a dual-cpu box).
I just realized that I haven't posted anything here for a while. That's mostly due to the fact that the power supply in peach.zawodny.com (where the master database sits) recently bit the dust. I paid a visit to Fry's a couple days ago and got a replacement, but haven't had the time to install it yet. Between the NuSphere thing, having to get my March Linux Magazine column done, the layoffs at work, and all the other crap going on, it's been busy.
After some delay, the contract is signed. It's time to get my ass in serious gear.
Hm. What else is going on? I wrestled with installing gmat, the tool that O'Reilly uses for formatting books, today. It installs fine, but appears not to work at all. I think the installation notes are missing something or I really didn't read them right. So I sent a note off to email@example.com for assistance.
Work and Non-Work
The work I was involved in got Yahoo listed in InfoWorld's Top 100 list for 2001. We came in at #27. Here is the overview and here is the page we're listed on. John, one of my co-workers (who got laid off last week) saw it and thought they should have put my name in there. I'm all for that. :-)
In case the full text vanishes someday (it will), I've reproduced it here:Yahoo, No. 27, www.yahoo.com
Yahoo replaced a home-grown system with the MySQL database server to power its Yahoo Finance services, including news headlines, stock charts, and insider trading. (For more, see "Content delivery adds value," "Giving the Web a voice.")
There may be a press release about this in a week or two.
On a similar note, I'm being interviewed for a case study in Information Age magazine tomorrow morning. That should be interesting. If nothing else, I have a good reason to get up early.
God's Debris (Y! Shopping or Amazon), the new book by Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) is quite excellent. I just finished it.
I upgrade my trusty ThinkPad 600E to 288MB of RAM recently. It is much happier running Windows 98 under VMWare under Linux. I've been shopping around for replacements on eBay, but haven't found anything really good yet. I may just order 512MB for it and keep it until the book is done. Then I can buy myself a "I finished the book" present.
Spam, Spam, Authentication, and Spam
I got exim's SMTP AUTH working properly against PAM on Solaris 2.8 this weekend. The key trick was making sure to run exim as root, so that it could read the password/shadow files.
I've been playing a lot with SpamAssassin on the WCNet and TurboSurf mail servers. As a by-product, I'm now on the mailing list and there are several changes in the later releases that are my doing. That's why Open Source rocks.
That Time of the Year
Family started asking, so I updated my wish list to make life easier. And, as a bonus, most of it can be purchased on-line with just a few clicks.
I was hit by the AT&T/@Home fallout. But I had DSL already running as backup, so it wasn't that painful. And the service was only out for a few days.
Yesterday was Yahoo's Year End Party (YEP). I didn't go this year. Partly because of how shitty I think they handled the layoffs and mostly because I had a lot of stuff to do!
Random Other Shit
ratemypoo.com is amusing.
Dan is in town this coming week. Ray is out of town.
I can make pancakes.
Pump Up The Volume is a good movie. My DVD arrived, so I watched it just to make sure.
I won a charity auction for a parking spot that's on other side of the campus from where I work. I didn't think my low bid would actually win. Oops. Oh, well. It's for charity. What's $305, really?
That's it for now. I think I'm gonna get that power supply swapped out now and replicate the database onto my laptop, which I've been using almost exclusively for weeks now anyway.
Oh, I really want to learn more Python. Really. I'm not going to reveal my motives yet, but I think it's in my best interest to do so.
PHP mode for Emacs is quite cool.
Worked frome home today, waiting for PacBell. The assholes never showed up. Here is what their web site tells me. How fucking useless! Not even an way to contact them via e-mail yet. They KNOW my phone line is dead, yet they insist call.
Made an appointment with PacBell for tomorrow. They'll be here between 8am and 4pm. It's a good thing I don't have a life or anything.
I went to the eye doc to get my new lenses for my glasses. They didn't fit, so they're gonna get re-cut. Oh, well. I managed to stop by Target and pick up a few new shirts, since the weather is a bit cooler now.
I tired to contact PacBell on the Web to tell them that I'm no longer getting a dialtone on my line. After putting in my phone number, I got this result.
I swear, they're worse than Microsoft.
Met with Larry and Marten from MySQL AB today. Marten is the CEO and Larry is their new VP of U.S. sales (and marketing?).
The teeth are doing fairly well.
Today was "double root canal day" for me.
Things went surprisingly well--much better than I expected, given my long and interesting history with dental/oral stuff.
Priceline.com rocks! I'm going to Ohio this weekend for less than $200.
Oops. I did it again.
Laid down at about 5pm for a short nap. Woke up at 9:40pm. Oops.
In other news, my workstation at work no longer crashes every week. It only took 1.5 months and 3 hardware swaps to get to that point. (I suspect the old power supply was to blame, somehow.)
Today was "find out if I get a raise" day at work. The news was good.
Out to dinner at Kabul Afghan Cuisine with Ray, Mark, and James.
Then Ray, Mark, and I went and saw Mulholland Drive in Menlo Park. What a strange movie. I enjoyed it a lot, but it was a bit strange.
Got a CD-RW drive for billg today. Took me a while, but I eventually figured out how to burn an ISO image from my Linux box with it. The software is supposed to be "user friendly" but was rather unhelpful in places. You get what you pay for, I guess.
Well, I swapped in DBIx::DWIW today at work. And there was surprisingly little breakage. In fact, I'm convinced that more stuff will blow up in the morning. I just have no idea what.
Finally got my SliMP3 (from slimdevices.com up and running. And since the server software is written in Perl, I'm gonna have a blast! :-)
I got search.textfiles.com up and running today.
Finished part two of the MySQL Performance Tuning article for Linux Magazine. Look for it in the December, 2001 issue.
I discovered TRAMP today. Now if only I can make it work right...
The thinkpad is now properly debianized with a 2.4.9 kernel and ReiserFS.
Janet woke me up really damned early and we headed to the airport. The lines weren't bad. Got on my plane and headed back to San Jose via Minneapolis / St. Paul. Slept a fair amount on both flights.
Got home, played with the cats, ate, took a shower, unpacked, and began working from home for the remainder of the day--well, until the season premier of Enterprise aired.
All in all, it's been a long day.
Third and final day of OSDS 2001.
Heard about RackSpace in the morning. Then I got to do my presentation. Things went pretty well other than the little external display glitch.
Had lunch with the usual crowd, which included an interesting discussion about whether or not SourceForge sucks or not (and why).
After lunch, Brian gave his MySQL tuning/scaling talk based on their experiences with Slashdot on September 11th. They've been down some of the same roads we have (and vice-versa). It was rather interesting (and entertaining) to listen to.
Once the conference was officially over, I hung out with Tim, David, Monty, and Brian talking about MySQL for a long while. Then Janet showed up and we headed to the mall to eat dinner at The Cheesecake Factory (but not before Janet found the belt she was looking for).
Dinner was good. We managed to cover a lot of ground so that we didn't talk about completely geeky stuff the whole time. We talked about what the Bush administration might have planned for bin Laden, natural foods, and lots of random other stuff.
Oh, I now have some pictures on-line from the conference, too.
After dinner, Janet and I headed to Staples (where Sean was still at work) so she could get bag for her trip to Washington, DC the next day. Then back to their place to veg out and go to bed.
I decided to take a shower at night so that I could sleep longer in the morning and not get up at 4:30am just to get to the airport on time. Unfortunately, the shower woke me up and I didn't get to sleep until well after 1am.
Second day of OSDS 2001.
Britt Johnston (NuSphere CTO) started off the day with his keynote presentation and then a follow-up presentation about the high-end benchmarking they did of MySQL/Gemini, InnoDB, and PostgreSQL. Interesting numbers and findings.
Lunch at the pizza & sandwich place across the street with Chris and Brian. Lots stories from our college days with computers. Sounds like we all did some funny shit in our respective days.
Several good talks today. Brian talked about MyPerl (his implementation of Perl procedures in MySQL). We had just chatted about it the day before and brainstormed a few new things (using packages and functions, as well as disable bad opcodes). Sounds like he'll toss that stuff in, too. :-)
In the evening we had a cocktail reception sponsored by the folks from RackSpace.com. Good drinks and snacks. Lots of good stories.
After food and drinks, we had the BoF sessions. The MySQL session was rather informal, and for a while it felt more like a talk show than a BoF. But Chris, Mark, Brian, and I ducked out a little early to go eat and play some games at Dave & Buster's in the mall. We met up with Britt on the way and he joined us.
Fun had by all. I especially enjoyed the game where I got to fly an F/A-18 on various missions. Well, that and Miss PacMan.
Got up way too early in the morning so that I could grab some of the breakfast food before the first OSDS session.
Ran in to Paul DuBois (author of the MySQL book) and chatted for a bit. Also met up with Brian Aker of OSDN and Slashdot. Chatted a lot about MySQL since they're pretty big users, too.
Went to lunch with Chris, Brian, Monty, and David at Hops (or Hop's?) across the street from the Westin. Chatted about databases, snow, marijuana laws, and lots of random other stuff.
It's funny how much closer my beliefs are to the "European Way" than typical US ideas.
More presentations in the afternoon.
Met up with a group of folks (mostly MySQL and OSDN) for dinner at an really good Italian place. And we got to try some of Monty's special drink with the plastic shot glasses we borrowed. :-)
Headed off to the 2nd annual Open Source Database Summit (OSDS) in Providence, Rhode Island. Being a Good Traveler, I got to the San Jose airport 2.5 hours before my flight. I walked right up to the ticker counter and checked in. No line. Then I walked right up to the security checkpoint and went through. No line. So I sat on my ass and read for about 2 hours. The airport was rather ghost-town like.
Landed in Minneapolis / St. Paul airport. It was also rather empty--or at least I'm assuming it was, since I'd never been there before. Got on the next plane and flew to Providence.
At T.F. Green Airport (Providence), I met up with Janet, who kindly drove me to the Westin Hotel.
Got up early (again). Met Brandt for lunch before he heads back to Ohio.
Took a 3.5 hour mid-day nap.
Caught up on a lot of e-mail. Thousands of messages. Really.
The DSL guy came today and determined that my line is marginal. The ball is back in Pac Bell's court.
I'm sorta caught up on stuff. It's an unfamiliar feeling. Not sure what to do. I think I'll keep working and get ... uh ... ahead on a few things, maybe.
I just found the best used car ad ever and am very amused.
My tax refund check came today. Too bad the economy is in the toilet.
Got up at the crack of noon and was still a bit sluggish. Managed to get some little stuff done (including a phone call with Brandt, who is in California for the week).
Then went out and met up with Mark and Ray for a late lunch (4pm). Came home, caught up on some e-mail, and then took a 3 hour nap. My sleep schedule was messed up anyway, so why not? :-)
Went to bed a bit early last night (meaning "before midnight") so I'd be able to get up relatively early today and to go hiking in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Got up around 8am.
After a bit of phone coordination with Ray and Mark, Ray arrived to pick me up and head on to get Mark. After fetching Mark, we went to David's place to meet up with him and his girlfriend. We then headed out for lunch (Togo's) and then actually started off for the park.
The ride into the park took about an hour. After arriving, we found that a deer was roaming about the parking lot (pictures here). We got the $2.00 park map and asked the person selling maps for a trail recommendation. A few of us wanted to see one of the park's waterfalls, while the rest of us just wanted to hike somewhere.
We started off on a trail to the nearest waterfall, or so we thought. Along the way we actually made three very specific mistakes which resulted in us being on the wrong trail for a while and generally wondering where we really were.
Eventually, though, we found our way to the most pathetic waterfall I've ever seen. The group of use could have pissed off a cliff harder than this so-called waterfall ran. Despite the disappointment of the falls, I generally enjoyed the day.
After the hiking was over, we headed out of the park destined for John's house. We had been invited over for dinner. Got there after a stop to pick up drinks. Had some good steak, fish (salmon & tuna), corn, potatoes, and more. Very good stuff.
We hung out there until about 4:30am, so I didn't get to sleep until about 5:00am.
Today mostly sucked. Nothing remarkable good happened, but some bad shit did. Our primary database server had an odd condition which manifested itself as lots of files vanishing from the root filesystem... Things like shared libraries, init, random binaries, and so on. It was bad.
We currently suspect a very bad experience with the rpm command (I really hate rpm files.), but nobody is quite sure. The machine has been rebuilt, but we're still running RedHat on it. Maybe we should try Debian next time. We won't have this sort of problem then.
In other news, Tien Fu II makes a really good veggie and prawn dish with garlic sauce. Yum.
The mysterious package from yesterday arrived at work. It was two copies of Paul's MySQL and Perl for the Web. I got to read about myself in the front of the book (I was a tech reviewer) and see that it's what I remember being in it. Good book. Buy a copy.
Began today by working from home while waiting for the UPS guy. I had no idea what he'd be trying to deliver, but there was a little note on the door when I got home last night. I really wish there was a way to tell UPS, "please redirect that package to my work" address. If I ever have the option, I never choose to ship things to my home address. I'm never there when they want to deliver, and they'll never leave stuff because of the tiny mailbox I have.
At about 5:45pm when UPS hadn't arrived yet (fuck them), Dan suggested I use the on-line package tracking. I did. I still had no clue who the package is from or what might be in it. But I did find that I can redirect the package right on the Web site. So UPS should attempt delivery at work tomorrow. I wish I had known about this long ago.
In other news, I finally got pictures of my new furniture on-line.
After the UPS guy never showing up, I went to a move with Mark and Ray. Left the apartment at about 6:50pm. We saw The Fast and the Furious, knowing it'd be bad. When I came home there was another UPS note on my door! What the fuck?! Was he WAITING FOR ME TO LEAVE?
To top it off, my machine at work was dead. Again. Even after the hardware has been swapped. It's either the hard drive (the only common piece) or some obscure FreeBSD bug that only I can trigger.
But hey, at least I got to hear my neighbors having sex. Not that it's anything special the 100th time I've heard it.
Got to work today to find a dead database server--the one that had recently been upgraded. Luck it was only a spare, I guess.
Still behind on the main INBOX.
Got new hardware at work today to see if we can keep my box from crashing. Similar to the old hardware, except that I have 384MB of RAM instead of 256MB.
I managed to accidentally sleep for 12 hours last night. Well, it wasn't a complete accident. I laid down around 9pm for a nap. I woke up at 4am and decided that I should probably just get up at a more "normal" time, mostly in the hope that it would help me reset my sleep schedule for the coming week. This past week has been a bit later than I'd normally like (getting up around 10:30 or 11:00am).
I had that strange dream again last night--the one where I'm captured by the Borg and have to escape with Seven of Nine and Capitan Janeway. I haven't watched Voyager for 2 months, so I really don't know where that one comes from.
The good news is that nobody has turned the water off yet. I was able to shower without incident. :-)
After a bit of playing with the cats, I managed to mostly clean out several of my INBOXes, send a detailed note off to one of the book editors (long story), and take a first swipe at editing the SNMP article for the November issue.
Amusingly, my "real" INBOX is something I'm still rather behind on.
I forgot to mention a few days ago that I finished reading a book titled "I Worship The Very Dirty She Treats Me Like". Sort of amusing, but I was a little disappointed. Not a bit deal though, because Ray and I stopped by the local B&N before seeing Jay & Silent Bob on Friday night. While there I bought five books that I've been meaning the get eventually. The pile of "books to read someday" is now menacingly tall.
The How to Write Efficient MySQL Applications article I wrote for Linux Magazine's June 2001 issue got linked on LinuxToday today.
Here is something to don't see everyday...
My water was off today--much to my surprise. Why? The vacant apartment next door was having some work done before the new folks move in. They had to change the faucets and turned off the water for all four apartments. And they didn't bother to tell anyone! Grr.
Went to Trader Joe's to pick up some food (what a great store!). Came home and made some spaghetti with little shrimp in the sauce. Good stuff. Even had some fresh bread to go with it.
Went and saw Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back last night. Very funny! Kevin Smith has made another excellent movie. I'll probably go see it again before it hits video.
It's been a busy week. There is a major problem with the book right now. Hope to get that sorted out next week. More on that after we figure out what's going to happen.
LinuxWorld is next week, and I still haven't decided if I'll be going or not.
My new furniture rocks! In fact, I have a few pictures of my comfortable chairs and couch, but haven't pulled them off my camera quite yet...
Got a mass "here's what's going on in my life" e-mail from a guy I went to high school with. I'm wondering how he found my address. Admittedly, that's not hard. But more importantly, what made him think to even look? Maybe he was leafing through a yearbook or something? Who knows.
So much crap to do...
Some guy from AT&T just came to my door to tell me that their installers would be in my neighborhood in a few days and that he was prepared to offer me 2 free months if I sign up for their cable modem service.
I opened the door a little farther, pointed to my existing AT&T cable modem, and asked him to guess how long I've had it.
The look on his face was priceless.
Got my new glasses. I can see again!
Went to lunch at a Sushi place with Ray, James, and John. On the way back, we ran into Tim Koogle (former Yahoo CEO) in the parking garage. He called the Porsche belonging to one of our co-workers an "expensive volkswagon". I was amused.
Hacked on the book. Went to the store. Made bread. Stayed up too late.
I decided to be a trouble maker today... On multiple fronts. Let's see how much of it comes back to bite me in the ass.
Ordered tickets for my trip to the Open Source Database Summit in Providence, RI in September. Hopefully they'll get my name spelled correctly on the Web site. Anyway, I got an excellent deal on the tickets.
This past week flew by pretty quicky. I was mostly geting caught up on stuff that didn't get done while I was traveling around with my parents.
I should get some of these cans o' whoop ass just so I can threaten opening one...
Slept most of the day. Really. I kept taking 2-4 hour naps until it was 7:00pm, at which point I finally got into a groove and became productive.
After becoming productive, I started working on the book. The good news is that I made some serious headway. The bad news is that I kept getting distracted and doing other things too. In fact, I even put out a new mytop release when I was supposed to be outlining.
I made cookies today. Yum.
Just saw the HOMOCIL commercial on SNL. It was hilarious.
We attempted to go Big Basin Redwoods State Park today, but traffic sucked. So we went and saw AI (the movie) instead. It was an odd movie.
Drove home from Sequoia. Make dinner and stuff. (Can you tell I'm sick of typing right now?)
Got up too early (Dad was snoring loudly) ate, showered, and headed into Sequoia National Park. Since we were only 1/2 mile from the park, it didn't take long. Once inside (and after a brief visit to the "dumping station") we drove to Hospital Rock. I'm not sure why it has that name. Took a few pictures, but they weren't that good. The lighting was much better on the return trip in the evening.
From there we drove about an hour and a half to Crystal Cave. Well, what we did was drive to the start of the trail which leads to the entrance to the cave. There is a restroom at the beginning of the trail. The guides advise visitors to use the restroom because the trail to the cave opening is quite an adventure (a fairly intense downward climb) and the cave's interior is about 45 degrees warm year-round.
The cave itself was really impressive and our guide was rather amusing. He explained, among other things, that are about 200 such caves in the park area, but Crystal Cave is the only one open for public tours.
Took a few pictures in the cave. Some came out nicely. Some did not.
After our 45 minutes of trekking through the cave, it was time to climb back up to the parking lot where we began our adventure. Mom and I made it up in about 30 minutes (it took 20 to go down). Dad took about 50% longer. I got a lot of good waterfall pictures on the climb up.
A few visits to the restroom and bottles of water later, we were back on the road and headed for Moro Rock. Mom and I climbed the nearly 400 steps (and many rock inclines) to the top. Along the way we were rewarded with spectacular views of almost the entire Sequoia area--including the controlled fire that was burning not too far away and the surrounding mountain peeks. According to the sign, we got to see The Great Western Divide.
Oh, and my head was out in the sunlight a bit too long. I really should have worn my hat. I thought about wearing it, but never bothered. Oh, well.
Not long after the rock (okay, it was more of a mountain), we found our way to the General Sherman Tree. It's literally the largest living thing on the planet; an ancient Sequoia which is really, really, really big.
Having seen General Sherman and the surrounding grove of Giant Sequoias, we drove a bit farther in the park before turning around and heading back to town for dinner.
Pictures of all the above are here.
We ate dinner at the place next door to our motel. It was called the Gateway Restaurant and Lodge. The food and view were good. The view of the (maybe legal but rather attractive) girl who worked the front of the place was very good. Must have been the skin-tight jeans and top she wore. :-)
During dinner, we were able to watch the ducks and a peacock play in the river and eat the bread that folks tossed down to them.. I had never really watched a peacock before. I've decided that it's quite an odd bird indeed.
The day ended with Mom and Dad watching The Sixth Sense in the motel room while I caught up on writing, pictures, and random other crap.
Slept in. Then got up and readied for the longish drive to the Sequoia National Park area. The trip out was rather uneventful. We found our way to the Buckeye Lodge (our motel) in Three Rivers with little difficulty and were greeted by a rather small room that appeared to be the favorite of the local ant population.
There are two really noteworthy (good) things I can say about this place:
- It is situated just feet from a fork of the local river. So we have some nice scenery in our "backyard" as well as the sound of rushing water as we're drifting off to sleep.
- They owners (who, amusingly, are from Bucyrus, Ohio) are font of cats. So there are various cats roaming the grounds. Some of them are rather easily spooked, but some are very friendly to strangers.
Some pictures are here.
After depositing all our stuff in the room and reading some of the local literature, we decided to drive the couple of miles to the park's visitor center and get tickets for a tour of Crystal Cave tomorrow morning. Unfortunately, we arrived as it was closing, so that had to wait until morning.
In an effort to make up for that failure, we headed to the Sequoia Cider Mill for dinner. The place was rather empty. It appeared to be run by and old couple. The wife acted as hostess and waitress while her husband cooked. The meals were very good and very inexpensive. It's a shame that the salad dressing (they had a VERY limited selection) didn't get along well with my lactose intolerance. Several restroom visits resulted.
Returning back to our motel, Mom and Dad watched 3 back-to-back Johnny Carson "best of" videos while I began reading my recently acquired copy of Culture Jam. I'm becoming very fond of this book.
I also spent a bit of time futzing with ways of synchronizing my e-mail on a VERY SLOW dial-up connection. Too bad I thought of a truly excellent way of doing so after leaving my apartment. It required that I do an initial sync and snapshot of the mail folders that I wanted to keep up with. Oh, well. Next time.
Getting back into this whole "vacation" swing of things, Mom, Dad, and I drove down to Monterey and spent about 6 hours at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The good news is that the place was excellent. Lots of great tanks, exhibits, and so on. The bad news is that we didn't have time to do much else, and the weather had become a bit hostile by the time we finished up there.
I only took a few pictures there.
On the way home, we decided to stop at the House of Orient (one of my favorite Chinese places) for dinner. As usual, it was excellent. And, as usual, I ordered/ate too much. Leftovers.
Back to work for the first day in a while. I was rather swamped with crap to do. Phone calls, e-mail, and related fun.
On the good side, I learned that my talk proposal for the Open Source Database Summit (in Providence this year!) was accepted. Woohoo!
The story behind that is a bit funny...While on a conference call, my 2nd phone line rang. I clicked over to it and some woman said, "hi, I'm __________ from OSDN calling to confirm the spelling of your name for an advertisement we're preparing to run in sysadmin magazine.""What?" I asked. And after a bit of discussion, I discovered that they were advertising for the database summit and were putting a list of "featured speakers" in the ad. Then I said, "So, I guess that means my talk was accepted, huh?" "Nobody contacted you to tell you?" she asked?
There's a bit more to it than that, but that's the funny bit. :-)
Watched Entrapment on DVD.
Mom, Dad, and I took it easy today. Our only real excursion was up to the newly opened Chabot Space & Science Center in the Oakland area. We did the deluxe tour (exhibits, movie, and planetarium show).
The exhibits were okay. Nothing spectacular. But the planetarium show about Mars was pretty good, and the movie (in the dome theater) about Antarctica was very good.
After arriving back at the apartment, we cooked up some Taco Salad for dinner and Brownies for dessert. Then we watched Keeping the Faith on DVD.
Drove back from Yosemite early so that I could be home in time for my new kitchen table and chairs to be delivered. We appeared to have some time to spare, so we stopped at Yahoo! to pick up a few packages that had been delivered to my cube while we were in Yosemite.
Then we stopped off for some Korean food as a late lunch. I liked it. Mom and Dad weren't as fond of it as I was.
The furniture delivery people arrived just as we did. The table and chairs are excellent. Having actual furniture in my dining area, however, will take some getting used to.
Watched American Beauty on DVD while we all pigged out on popcorn.
Awoke early so that we'd be ready for our guided driving tour of Yosemite. For many hours, we rode around on a little bus with a guide who took us to the various scenic spots. Our guide was great, the scenery was great (lots of pictures), and the weather was great.
I could go on and on about all the stuff we saw, but we pretty much saw everything there was to see (within reason). It was a good day.
This was our first full day in the Yosemite area. We began with a 1-hour ride on the old Narrow Gauge Railroad. Pictures are here. It was a fairly leisurely ride that allowed us to get a good taste of the forest that is Yosemite National Park.
We then got into the van and headed into the park for a lot of driving... And I mean A LOT of driving. Starting from the south entrance to the park, we drove down to the Yosemite Valley floor and then on toward Tioga Pass. The trip took many hours and brought us up to elevations as high as 9,000 feet.
Took lots of Yosemite pictures along the drive.
Along the way we saw many good sights, I walked in the Yosemite Creek and a lake, and Dad managed to slip and somewhat fall into the creek. Heh. :-)
We eventually reached Tioga Pass at the eastern edge of the park and drove on to Mono Lake, which is a really large salty lake--not as salty as the Great Salt Lake, but close. Oh, and Mono Lake is nearly in Nevada. So you could say that I've crossed California by car.
Mono Lake pictures are here.
After playing by the lake, we stopped for dinner at the Mono Inn Restaurant. We initially thought it was going to be a hole-in-the-wall type place and figured we should just suck it up and eat there since there was literally nothing better in the area. Upon entering the restaurant, however we found it to be quite a nice place which specialized in Mexican and southwestern cooking.
Our meals were very good and our table afforded us an excellent view of Mono Lake as the Sun was setting.
Following dinner we headed back (West) into the park, knowing that we wouldn't be back to our motel until well after nightfall. Matters were ultimately complicated by the fact that we overshot the motel by about 12 miles. The sign was rather difficult to spot (at least when heading south).
Drove (with my parents) from the Bay Area to Yosemite National Park (just south of it) today. We didn't get up particularly early. Left my place around 11am and got here about 4pm. The trip was a bit longer than I expected. But that's mostly because I didn't quite factor in the extra driving we had to do to get to the south entrance. Damned mountains kept getting in the way.
The driving got a bit twisty for a while and it gave me a bit of a headache. But that passed quickly after we made it to our hotel. We're staying at the Narrow Gauge Inn, which is just south of the South Gate to the park itself.
Along the way, I snapped a few pictures of the local landscape. I also got some of our view from the room we're staying in, as well as the balcony/deck which is out back. If you don't have a chance to see the pics, let's just say that our "back yard" is a national park with lots of trees and mountains.
Before I sat down to write this, I was trying to decide what the most impressive thing I saw all day has been. Then I remembered that the sky was likely very clear. And we're a few thousand feet above sea level. And there's not a lot of ambient lighting (no big cities nearby--and the mountains would likely obscure the light pollution anyway).
So Mom and I ventured outside.
Guess what? We were greeted with a sky FULL OF STARS. In the course of just a few minutes, I managed to spot three shooting stars. Mom saw a fourth one (that I didn't see). The view was the most impressive that I've seen since the Prout Spring Break Trip in 1996 when we lived in the mountains of rural Tennessee for a week. Of course, we had the added bonus of a comet in the sky during that trip.
Most of the drive out here was really hot (outside the van). Once we got near the park are it cooled off a fair amount. The gain in altitude helped. Once the sun went down, it was downright comfortable.
The humidity here is VERY LOW. So every time we talk about hot temperatures (over 100 in the lover elevations), we joke "Don't worry! It's a dry heat..."
Mom and Dad arrived today. We ran random errands and really didn't do too much. We did have an early dinner at Chef Liu's in Mountain View.
The word of the day is rejiggered. Please use it in a sentence at least once tomorrow.
Bought a kitchen table and chairs today. Should be delivered this week. That's the short version.
"The long version?" you ask. Sears can bite me.
Here's what happened. I woke up and decided that I should finally invest in a decent kitchen table and chairs. So I wandered to the nearby mall where there is a Sears Home Life store. I remembered seeing a nice set there when I was hunting for a new couch and recliners a few weeks back. I wanted to buy them.
I arrived to find that the set I wanted wasn't there--or at least wasn't located in the same place as before. I wandered around the store to see what else they had and found that the set I wanted was there, just in a different place. It was a 42 inch round table with 4 chairs. The table was about $400 and the chairs were about $75 each.
The info for the table mentioned that it was available in multiple finishes, so I attempted to track down a sales person who could show them to me. I found one, but she couldn't show them to me. She ended up asking someone else after flipping thru a few books. It turns out that the original finish was probably the one closest to what I wanted anyway, so I decided to go with that.
I asked about delivery dates, hoping that I could have the table & chairs in a week or so. I was only off by a factor of 6 or 8. Grr.
This sales person mentioned that I was lucky that the 10% off sale was going on for one more day. "Cool," I thought. "I'll save about $70 on this." Then she mentioned that all I had to do was put it on my Sears credit card. I told her that I didn't have one. She said that I could apply for one on the spot, get "instant credit" (what an American invention), and then use the discount.
I told her that it was stupid to get a new credit card just to save on a one-time purchase. She tried to explain the benefits of the Sears Card, but they were mostly lost on me. Then she passed me off to some other sales droid to actually take may order and work out the delivery stuff so that she could go have lunch. Heaven forbid! A potential sale might disrupt her lunch plans...
After waiting a few minutes for the sales wennie to finish up with the customers that I was in line behind, I came to the realization that if Sears essentially wants me to pay 10% more for their stuff just because I'm using the credit card of my choice, well... they can GO FUCK THEMSELVES.
So I walked out on them after they thought they'd already made the sale, and went over to Town Square Furnishings and found a table and chairs that was:
- cheaper (by $200)
- available for delivery in a matter of days
- much nicer looking
- more solidly constructed
I ordered that table and set of chairs and went home happy about the fact that I got what I wanted, but pissed at Sears for what they wanted me to do.
Cats appear not to completely understand cause-effect relationships. It's rather strange, 'cause they're selective about their understanding...
Should be having dinner at The Fish Market with Adam in about an hour or so. Yum.
Went and saw Startup.com in Palo Alto with Ray, Mark, James, and Jorn. Good movie. We also had some good eats.
Very busy day. Got up early and went to work. Did random things until the 10:30 Finance meeting. Most folks got there late, and that bugs me. Then went to lunch after that. Then I got ready for my presentation.
At around 12:40, after some technicaly difficulties which involved convincing my ThinkPad to display on an external display, I gave my MySQL Server and Application Performance Tuning talk to a group of Yahoo! Engineers. It was mostly just a pratice run for the Open Source Convention in July. I really had no idea how long the talk would go.
Things went pretty well. I then was late for a conference call with a feed provider that took a while to understand what we really need from them. But I think they finally get it.
I think my cats are on Crack.
Dinner with Larry went very well. He's an interesting guy and alwyas has something to talk about. He even had a great Bil Gates story! :-)
Yeay! I got my wireless network working, thanks mostly to the fact that I figured out that I had a troublesome ethernet cable and the fact that I went out and bought a D-Link DWL-650 card. It plays pretty nicely with Linux.
The weather today was amazing. It was even nice in San Francisco, Oakland, and points in between here and there. (I took a longer than expected drive earlier today.)
I keep wanting to eat. Several folks in the neighborhood have been cooking up stuff that smells really, really good. It all smells beyond my cooking ability, but my stomach doesn't know that. :-(
Oh, and rumor has it that I'll be eating dinner with Larry Wall on Monday night. That should be fun.
I attempted to telcomute this morning, but the coporate network was being ultra flakey. So I went into town (East Greenwich, I think) and had lunch at place called Julia's. It was a great lunch (soup and sandwitch). Both were very large, very filling, and very good.
Looked at flowers. Went to boring place. Went to Jamestown and had really good food at a deli. Saw a fort. Went to Newport.
Today most of us headed to Mystic, Connecticut to see the Mystic Aquarium and whatever else Mysic had to offer. The weather was still pretty good, but this was sure to be the last day of it. Temperatures were falling, but the sky was relatively clear.
We spent a few hours at the aquarium looking at the various sea life (including whales and penguins) before we went in search of lunch. It was already past mid-day (around 2pm), so we thought we should eat light, since we had plans to meet up with others around 5pm and have dinner before Janet's bother and sister hopped on a plane for Ohio.
Dinner ended up being pizza (breadsticks for me). We watched a lot of "Whose Line" on TV. I was rather amused, since it's one of my favorite shows anymore.
The day ended uneventfully. I was able upgrade from the air matress to the pull-out couch bed. Yay!
Got up and mulled about. Ate breakfast and showered. Waited for others to do the same so that we could head to graduation.
Amazingly, I found the University on my first try, so we were easily on-time for things. It was warm and mostly sunny out (something that would prove to be rare on this trip). It wasn't quite as hot in the gym as the last time I was at a URI graduation ceremony. But it was still uncomfortable.
The ceremony was relatively fast compared to last time, and before we knew it we were headed back to the house so folks could change clothes.
Headed up to Sean's dad's house. He and his wife (not Sean's mom) were throwing a New England style Clam Bake for about 24 of us. There was a lot of food (clams, lobsters, veggies, swordfish, sweets, etc), people, and fun. I was very stuffed and very happy. The food was simply incredible.
I decided to leave my digital camera in California, so there were no pictures from the trip--none that I took, at least.
Got up early. Finished packing, showered, and went to work. Arriving at work, I transferred my luggage into Steve's car and he shuttled me to San Jose Airport for my 8am-ish flight to Detroit.
The flight was mostly uneventful. All attempts at sleeping failed, due to the two annoying kids on the plane who simply wouldn't SHUT THE FUCK UP for a few minutes. Thankfully, I had brought a nice set of headphones and my Nomad MP3 player. You can imagine how pissed I was to find out that the batteries were DEAD.
The flight from Detroit to Providence was much more enjoyable. I had a better seat, no screaming kids, and it's a short flight.
I arrived as expected a bit after 7:00pm, was picked up and shuttled across the street from the airport to Legal Seafoods for a good seafood dinner with much of Janet's family.
Went back to their place, unloaded, and became tired. Went to bed not long after (if memory serves).
Up late packing. I leave for my east coast and midwest trip tomorrow. I was going to go back to Ohio in a week for Aaron & Kristin's house warming party. But then I found out that Janet's gradution (PhD) from the University of Rhode Island is the weekend before. So I decided to combine the two trips into a sinle mega-trip after she convinced me that I could telecomute from her house during the week between the two weekends and not burn up lots of vacation days.
Made sense to me. Any excuse to get back to Rhode Island in the spring time is good enough for me. :-)
This past week (known in some circles as "layoff week") has proven to be the longest week I've had in a very, very long time. I'm very glad the weekend is here!
In an effort to banish the various 50 foot long Ethernet cables from my apartment, I ordered one of these toys today.
Sponsor my bike ride! Look here for details.
So I took a nap around 7:15. Woke up at 1:15am.
I think I'll watch a movie or three. Maybe part of the Scream trilogy. Or the Wrath of Khan.
Fuck it with a big rubber dick.
I give up. I'm using Konqueror now. I'm going to remove Netscape from my system. It is a bloated piece of shit that dies as soon as I need it not to.
If I really cared, I'd drive over to Middlefield road in Mountain View tonight and leave a nice hot, steamy shit on the lawn of their campus.
What a pain in the ass.
When I don't write here, it either means I've been really busy or really bored/unmotivated. You get to guess which! Oh, the fun.
I hate daylight savings time. It's such an outdated concept. We don't need it at all anymore, but we keep doing it every year. Why not just stop. Really.
On another note, the wrist/arm pain is virtually gone now. I just had to make a few very minor adjustments in how I was working (as pointed out by the ergo specialist at work). Within a day or two, I was nearly back to normal. That's sort of old news... but I thought I'd mention it in case anyone was wondering...
...time goes by...
I should mention that it's nearing 4am, thanks to this stupid DST crap. I've been reading about BGP for a bit now. It's rather interesting stuff.
I should probably go to bed.
Played with exim and virtual hosting today. Also cleaned much of my apartment.
Today was a bit odd. I woke up around 9am, which is rather miraculous considering that I didn't go to bed until 5:00am. Well, the miracle didn't last too long. At 11:00am or so I laid back down and slept until about 3:00pm.
Decided to get lunch from China Stix. Got the Sweet & Sour Chicken. I was not impressed. Scratched it off the list.
The cats have been doing strange things today. They've been easily spooked by stupid stuff. And then they've just decided to act strange... Or maybe I just finally noticed something they've been doing for a while. Or maybe there is a earthquake coming. You know, small animals can always tell.
Reviewed chapter 8 of the book I'm reviewing. Found one typo near the end. It was a perfect chapter up until that point.
Pondering XML for a while...
Maybe people are now mailing me in the hope of getting listed here. I another example today:From: Vincecarter642@aol.com To: Jeremy@zawodny.com Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2001 19:53:34 EST X-Mailer: AOL 5.0 for Mac sub 28 Subject: No Subject can u hack passwords
I left the X-Mailer header in for a reason. I think it speaks volumes.
Oh, and in case you haven't seen Microsoft's latest plan for World Domination "HailStorm", I suggest you read this.
On another note...
A friend recently sent me something that hit home rather well. So I'm posting it here (despite the awkward grammar).Have you ever loved someone and they had absolutely no idea whatsoever? Or fell for your best-friend in the entire world, and then sat around and watched him/her fall for someone else?I thinkt that's all for now...
Have you ever denied your feelings for someone because your fear of rejection was too hard to handle?
We tell lies when we are afraid--afraid of what we don't know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing we fear grows stronger.
Have you ever noticed that the worst way to miss someone is when they are right beside you and yet you can never have them--when the moment you can't feel them under your fingertips you miss them?
Have you ever wondered which hurts the most; saying something and wishing you had not, or saying nothing and wishing you had?
I guess the most important things are the hardest to say.
Don't be afraid to tell someone you love them. If you do, they might break your heart--but if you don't, you might break theirs.
Have you ever decided not to become a couple because you were so afraid of losing what you already had with that person?
Your heart decides who it likes and who it doesn't. You can't tell your heart what to do. It does it on its own--when you least suspect it, or even when you don't want it to.
Have you ever wanted to love someone with everything you had, but that other person was too afraid to let you?
Too many of us stay walled because we are too afraid to care too much--for fear that the other person does not care as much or at all.
Life is all about risks and it requires you to jump. Don't be a person who has to look back and wonder what they would have, or could have had.
No one waits forever.
Spent some quality time after work getting family.zawodny.com mostly setup as far as Apache and MySQL go. Still a fair amount to do yet, though. (At least I can stream my MP3s...)
More strange e-mail:From: "chapa"
To: Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2001 19:32:26 +0300 Subject: Five Processors. Hello. I live in The Poland. I need to buy five Intel Pentium III-800EB PC133 256kb cache Processors. I think You can help me to do this. Email me please what is the total cost with all taxes and delivery trough fedex or ups (aprox.), and what credit card and shipping information You need for this Order. Thank You.
The Cable Modem Blues continue.
Work was okay. Josh and I had a very bad foosball day. We're out of the tournament.
Evening meeting with Chris and Adam at Adam's place in Mountain View.
Tired and going to be early.
Fairly normal Monday. Biked to work and wasn't quite as tired this time. Do this for another week or two and I'll be back to normal. (Well, you know what I mean...)
Westling with the new XML feed from Forbes. I rather underestimated the effort involved in writing the parsing code. Oh, well. It's probably good for me.
Tomorrow is round two of the Yahoo! March Madness Foosball Tournament. Josh and I are playing a team that we shouldn't have much trouble beating. The round after this, however, will get considerably more difficult. We play Jeremiah and Jason. That's going to be hard fought set of games, I suspect.
Packet loss sucks. A lot... But it's AT&T @Home's fucked up network I'm dealing with. So it's not a real surprise. Here's me pinging my first hop into their network.jzawodn@pizza:~$ ping 188.8.131.52 PING 184.108.40.206 (220.127.116.11): 56 data bytes 64 bytes from 18.104.22.168: icmp_seq=0 ttl=255 time=725.0 ms 64 bytes from 22.214.171.124: icmp_seq=1 ttl=255 time=40.6 ms 64 bytes from 126.96.36.199: icmp_seq=2 ttl=255 time=86.2 ms 64 bytes from 188.8.131.52: icmp_seq=3 ttl=255 time=194.9 ms 64 bytes from 184.108.40.206: icmp_seq=4 ttl=255 time=12.6 ms 64 bytes from 220.127.116.11: icmp_seq=5 ttl=255 time=43.9 ms 64 bytes from 18.104.22.168: icmp_seq=6 ttl=255 time=11.5 ms 64 bytes from 22.214.171.124: icmp_seq=7 ttl=255 time=230.9 ms 64 bytes from 126.96.36.199: icmp_seq=8 ttl=255 time=28.2 ms 64 bytes from 188.8.131.52: icmp_seq=9 ttl=255 time=57.5 ms 64 bytes from 184.108.40.206: icmp_seq=10 ttl=255 time=12.0 ms --- 220.127.116.11 ping statistics --- 12 packets transmitted, 11 packets received, 8% packet loss round-trip min/avg/max = 11.5/131.2/725.0 ms
Need I say more?
It looks like Tom might consider moving to California and coming to Yahoo! for a job (yes, we are still hiring). That'd be swell.
Update... I just sat thru a 45 minute outage. I can't wait until my DSL installation kit arrives. Then I'll be able to tell AT&T to put my cablem modem in the same place that their collective heads appear to be.
Today wasn't particularly interesting. I finally finished checking over the chapter of a book I've been reviewing. And I did random other stuff--mostly laundry.
Got up early today... 8am or so. Ate some breakfast and probmply went back to bed. Got up at 12:30pm or so...
Went to Fry's looking for a specific wrist rest. They didn't have it, so I came home went for a 10 mile bike ride. That felt really good.
Then spent some time doing a bit of programming, catching up on e-mail, reading, and playing with the cats. Forgot to call mom and dad to chat about their upcoming trip.
Met Adam in Mountain View for a later dinner and chat about magazine stuff. Now it's official. I'm now the Technical Editor for Linux Magazine.
Well, I've got some stuff to catch up on here, I think...
I have to say that sometimes it's worth paying a few extra bucks for quality and customer service. You see, I've often been skeptical of buying cloting from catalogs. I'd usually go to the store and try things on, make sure I liked the look and feed, and so on. Unlike buying an Ethernet card, that stuff is rather important when it comes to clothing.
Well, my favorite pair of jeans is starting to get rather worn and old. I bought some new jeans a couple months ago, but they just don't feel the same. So I decided to try and get some more jeans which are just like the ones that I really like. But there were a few hurdles to this...
- I ordered them from L.L. Bean.
- I ordered them over a year and a half ago.
- I had no idea what the catalog number is... or even if they make them anymore.
Now this was Sunday night (after 11pm) when I decided I just had to give it shot. So I went to their web site and poked around a bit. Couldn't find much useful. (That's not to say their site was bad. It's actually pretty good.) I really wanted to find my old order. But it wanted me to login with a username and password that I suspect I never created in the first place. But unlike most web sites, L.L. Bean doesn't make their phone number difficult to find.
So I called them. At close to midnight on a Sunday (Pacific time).
I got an answer on the first ring. I was talking to a human within seconds. I didn't have to wade thru 15 levels of horrid telephone menu crap. I was able to speak to an actual person.
I explained to this person that I had this pair of jeans in front of me that I ordered from them a while back, and all I wanted to know what if they still made them so that I could order more on their web site (as well as some other stuff).
The guy got a bit of info from me and found my old order. Apparently I orded them in 1998--more like 3 years ago! He gave me the catalog number and also told me that they had some in stock in my size. And they were still priced the same as when I bought them in 1998.
I was very happy!
The entrie process took less than 5 minutes.
In summary, L.L. Bean rocks! They appear to really understand customer service. I don't mind at all that I pay a bit extra for the merchandise that if I had bought it locally. The quality is great and the service is amazing.
Try getting that at your local Target store.
Since today is Friday, it's bascially lame food day at the Yahoo Cafeteria. "Deli Bar" (aka, make your own sandwitch) was on the menu, so several of us went for Korean food. I had never had Korean food before today, but it was pretty darn good.
If I can remember the name of the place we ate at (near El Camino and Wolfe), I'll recommend it... I'm sure I'll be going back there in the next month or so.
I occurs to me that if I had never left Ohio, I'd still be stuck working on NT (unless I switched jobs and stayed there because I had a house), and I probaly wouldn't have had good Indian, Korean, or Thai food yet. So you might say it was a good move...
Now there's an old but useful little program that I want nominate for the Most Underappreciated Piece of Free Software Award: screen. I've recently become re-acquainted with just how useful it can be.
Without going into detail (its manual page is roughly 60 pages long!), screen sort of acts like a a software terminal server. It will multiplex virtual "screens" which are each tied to a shell running something. And you can easily switch among them.
None of that is terribly revolutionary. Even DesqView (woah, that takes me back) had figured this out back in the early 90s on PCs. But the really cool feature is that you can detach the screen process from it's controlling terminal and then re-attach to it later and it will have preserved all the state of the associated screens/shells.
Here's how I'm using it. As avid readers (yeah, as if I have a fan club or something) will recall, my cable modem has been giving me fits recently. When that happens I sometimes lose the SSH connection (to work) over which I'm multiplexing about 8 terminal connections and 2 or 3 copies of forwarded X applications (usually GNU Emacs). Well that just sucks because I have to re-login to all the machines that work that I had shells on before things went nuts. And I have to remember what I was doing on them--if anything.
It's just a waste of time and frustrating.
Now what I do is this. While at work I run a single xterm with a shell in it. Then I start screen. It allows me to spawn lots of sub-shells. In each sub-shell I log into a different host that I may need to work on. And using the hot keys, I can switch among them quickly (without grabbing for the mouse and slowing myself down).
Then, when I get home, I can open a single connection to work and tell screen to attach to the screen session I was using at work. And it does. Suddenly I have access to the exact same shells. hosts, and envrionments that I was using while at my desk at work. I can literally pick right up where I left off.
As Cartman would say, "Kick Ass".
Amazing Sponsorship Opportunity!!!
(Sounds like spam, doesn't it? But wait! ... There's MORE!)
How would you like to do something that will not only help you feel good about yourself but will also help get me up off my ass and help others to continue working on solving an important healt problem???
Of course... I knew you'd like to help out.
Just like last year, I'm going to be riding in a charity bike ride (known as the Tour de Cure) for the American Diabetes Association. And you can sponsor me on the ride. Actually, you should sponsor me on the ride.
Here's the deal. I'm going to pedal my butt around for 25 miles and you can encourage me to do so by giving a tax deductable contribution to the ADA. It's really quite easy and painless. And you needn't give lots of money. Every little bit counts.
Being the smart person your are, you recognise this as a Good Cause, but probably want't know more. I can respect that. Take a minute or two and visit the Tour de Cure web site. After you've done that, think hard about contributing a bit.
Lots of folks fron Yahoo will be riding. Last year we had 50 riders on Team Yahoo (many of which were from Yahoo Finance). Everyone had a good time and we raised a lot of money for this worthwhile cause. We even rode in the cold rain! (But we're hoping for better weather this year.)
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to donate.
Oh, and if I get enough donations, I might be willing to upgrade to the 40 mile route. But I want to see a good showing of support!
Lastly, I should mention that if you dontate, you'll get 15 seconds of fame by having your name listed here when I say thanks to the folks who made my ride all the more important.
And now, on a humorous note, from the strange e-mail department... I found this in my INBOX today:From: Nokia <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Jeremy@Zawodny.com Subject: You Gan Help me ?? Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2001 07:26:23 +0800 first :I explain I Know a little EngLish , I am is a Chineseman ,admire superexcellence hacker Today I want you help me gained OICQ's pa
Any idea what the heck this is about? mail me your ideas...
Okay, that's enough for now. I feel caught up. Sort of.
When to dinner with Amol, John, and Stephen (from Down Under). We had some really good Indian food. Thanks to Amol for knowing where the good Indian food is! Too bad I can't remember the name of the place now--I just know how to get there.
Lots of shit broke at work, and other stuff has changed from being due in a few weeks to be due tomorrow. Yikes!
I did manage to convince other people to do something in such a way that I wouldn't have to do any of the work involved... and it worked. :-) One small step for me.
I got to participate in the MySQL vs. Oracle vs. home-grown Yahoo technology battle on a new project. Wasn't quite as confrontational as I expected.
Rode by bike to work today using a slightly different route than I used last year. Seems a bit faster and less annoying. Went back to the normal keyboard for a bit.
Apprently the root of my recent wrist/arm pain was my switching to a Micros~1 Natural Keybaord. Either I'm using it incorrectly, or it is simply evil... Bets anyone?
Sore wrist, weak grip, typing painful. :-(
Got a lot done today. Finished editing an article for Linux Magazine. Got a lot of Multicast stuff implemented at work. Lots of small random fixes and whatnot.
Another beautiful day, of course. :-)
Having worked on my 10 minute Perl script, I can now turn on and off the lights and fans in my apartment via e-mail. Cell phone access is next on the list...
Wow. The weather today was great. It probably hit 70 degrees. Was nice and sunny with a cool breeze. I think the rainy season is over and that Spring is here. If it's like this tomorrow, I'll have to lube up the bike and start riding again.
Well, let's see... In need of inspiration and good food, I headed to the House of Orient for some good Chinese food and a table at which I could work. While eating my Kung Pao Chicken, I figured out what was wrong with the article I was editing (and I even had a pen with me). That's a good thing, since it's been bothering me for a few days. The folks at work who glanced over it (Ray and Mark) for me gave some insightful feedback that probably did the trick. I just needed to sleep on it a few times.
After lunch I wandered over to a pet food store I've been meaning to try out. I decided to splurge and get the cats a new piece of furniture--one of those carpet covered wood things that they can climb all over, scratch at, and generally relax on.
They really seem to dig it.
I think I'll watch a movie now...
Woohoo! The Close Encounters of the Third Kind DVD is now available for pre-orders. This is most excellent.
AT&T @Home service is an amazingly fucked up organization.
I've long suspected problems with them. You see, they have been my Internet Service Provider for roughly a year now. Occasionally I'd call with problems and their front-line tech support people would attempt to help me. They usually failed.
Several months back, after finding that my cable modem connection would drop at random times, I wrote some software to reboot it if things went bad. It has worked well for months. My internet connection has been self-healing and outage have been fairly rare--maybe a few a month. No big deal.
Well, I've been having connectivity problems for the past several weeks. As I said, I'd have these sorts of problems once or twice a month, but recently I've had them several times a day.
This morning, I awoke to find my cable modem being rebooted every few minutes. My software was working fine, but the connection to the @Home network was dead. Very dead.
I assumed it was just one of those normal problems. So I decided to go to work and let it heal itself. And I made a mental note to consider getting DSL. (I should have checked my logs...)
Mid-day arrived and I still wasn't able to ping my home machine from work. I could traceroute, but it always died on the last hop to my cable modem. Grr.
So I decided to, once again, brave the customer support phone queue see if they had a clue this time. Luckily it was the middle of the day, so I only waited on hold about 5 minutes (instead of my normal 30-75 minutes).
Once I got a human, I explained what had been going on. Told them that my connection had been dead since early morning. The phone drone looked into things and told me that they have had reports of intermitent problems in my area for the last several weeks. That jived with what I had been seeing.
From there the conversation went something like this:
Me: So when it the problem scheduled to be fixed?
Idiot: I don't know.
Me: The problem has been going on for weeks and you don't know when it's going to be fixed?
Me: Well, can you find out?
Idiot: I'm sorry, I can't.
Me: Really? You can't find out?
Idiot: That's right.
Me: Well, I've been having problems with my service for several weeks. You acknowledge the problems but have no idea when (or if) they're going to be fixed. If it's going to be a day or so, I can live with that. Otherwise, I'm paying for service that I'm not getting and I might as well just order DSL. After all, high-speed Internet access has become a commodity anymore.
Idiot: Sir, I don't know when it will be fixed.
Me: Well I'm giving you the chance to keep my business, and you're not even trying. Does your boss know how little you care about your company's customers.
Idiot: I can offer you credit on your account for the downtime.
Me: But until it's fixed, I have no Internet access.
Idiot: There's nothing more I can do.
We agrued a bit longer and he suggested that I try back later to see if more information is available.
I hung up the phone and ordered DSL, figuring I could cancel it if I found that it was somehow my problem...
I came home from work and futzed with the modem for a while. No luck. So I called my friends at AT&T @Home again. After waiting on hold for about 25 minutes, I spoke with Dan.
I explained the situation to Dan, and he looked into things. He told me that there's a widespread outage affecting most of the San Francisco Bay Area right now. I asked how long the outage had been going on. He told me it has been like this since about 6:45am.
That, of course, prompted me to ask why the person I spoke with hours earlier was blissfully ignorant of such a large outage. He said that it probably wasn't officially noted until late in the day.
Being the curious type that I am, I asked how a problem that started at 6:45am went "officially" unreported for 12 hours. He explained that they need to get a certain number of complaints before they really look into that sort of a problem.
That took a minute for me to process.
After I asked him to repeat that a few times, he offered me a $20 credit on my next bill. I took the credit, but it hardly makes up for the trouble.
Well, at this point there wasn't much more I could do. It has become perfectly clear to me that AT&T doesn't give a shit about their customers. Waits of 30 to 75 minutes for their tech support line are common, and their problem reporting process virtually ensures that customers will be off-line for quite a long time before they bother to see if there's a problem on their network.
I fail to see how this sort of behavior will benefit their customers or their bottom line.
In summary... Fuck AT&T. My DSL modem can't arrive soon enough. What a waste of my time.
Last night of the foosball league. We beat the team from Intuit. I played better than I have in weeks. It felt damned good.
Downloading Mandrake 8.0 beta ISO images. Gotta play with some news stuff on one of my machines...
Yeay, I fixed my back today...
Spent several hours in San Jose today working on an article. Then went off to see a movie with Ray and Mark. We saw Monkeybone. It was okay. I doubt I'll ever see it agian.
Well, not a lot of interesting stuff going on right now. I'm typing this on a different keyboard than normal. I'm trying to give my Micros~1 Natural Keyboard another try. So far I'm doing a lot better than last time.
I've been having a lot of problems with my cable modem dropping off the network lately. I'm thinking I might get DSL service and tell the cable comapny to cram their ICMP filtering and crappy network straight up their ass.
I've been playing with Multicast networking in Perl quite a bit lately. Fun stuff.
Just found out that Scott and Kacky are engaged. That messed with my head for a little while. I guess that means I'll have a wedding to go to next year.
Things died in a most unusual way at work this morning. Of course, the deaths happened to coincide with me adding a machine to the group of machines that does news processing. After a lot of head scratching, I figured out that DBD::mysql was too old on that box. Doh!
On the plus side, my posters arrived today.
It's been a busy week or so.
This weekend (a 3-day weekend!) I got a whole lot of important work-stuff done, plus I managed to spend a whole day vegging out on the couch. That was a long overdue vegging day.
Rather than recount all that boring stuff, though, I have an amusing story. The newest engineer in Yahoo Finance started today. He swung by my cube around mid-day and introduced himself and started to tell me about his friend who wanted to say "hi" to me. This friend of his claimed that I was not famous in the MySQL community.
Anyway... In other news, my printer arrived today. And there were Linux drivers and instructions on the included CD-ROM. Yes. That's right. Linux drivers. So I now highly recommend the NEC SuperScript 1400 as a great, Linux friendly, and very inexpensive personal laser printer.
My last printer (several years ago) was a HP DeskJet 682c that I almost never used. In fact, I sold it to Asa just before I moved to California. And I probably had printed fewer than 200 sheets on it in the several years I owned it.
Why did I get another printer? Simple. I'm doing more writing and/or editing. And I find it difficult to proofread something longer than a thousand words or so unless I print it out and see it on paper. I'm sure that kids would laugh at this notion, 15 years from now, but that's the way it is.
Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, it is the rainy season.
I ordered 3 posters this evening. They are views of various places from space: San Francisco Bay Area, California, and The United States.
It was in the 70s today, so I went to the park. :-)
After a mid-day nap yesterday, I went and saw the movie Thirteen Days. Then I bought a cheap 30GB hard drive and went funiture shopping. Had trouble finding a couch I like. :-(
So it happened again. Anymore I cease to be surprised by these occurances and just realize that they're part of my life. I came home on Friday (from work) at roughly 7:30pm and laid down because I was tired. And because it's only early February it was already completely dark. So I promptly fell asleep.
While sleeping I had a most unusual dream. It had something to do with wandering thru a large hallway/alley with an ex-girlfriend and meeting up with people I hadn't seen since my junior year in college.
Then I promptly woke up at 2:00pm, played with the cats, and made some dinner.
Hmm. What else has been going on lately...
We got raises (and/or stock option grants) at work again. Apparently the company is worried that folks aren't making enough money anymore and may be inclined to look elsewhere--like somewhere people can acutaully afford to live! Imagine that.
In any case, this whole economic "downturn" appears to have cooled the housing market a small bit. There was a vacatant apratment in a building adjacent to mine for about a month. That's rather unusual (or has been until recently).
Now if only we can come up with a way to deal with the traffic...
That reminds me. I looked at the weather forecast and noticed that it's going to be warm very soon. That means I'll probably start riding my bike to work again. Yeay! I love the fact that winter (as tame as it is) seem to last about 2 months here. Okay, maybe 2 and a half.
Hmm... I'm getting the urge to hack on my music catalogging software again. Perhaps I will.
...some other random thoughts...
The VNC Tight Encoder appears to only be available for Unix. Bah! The real use for VNC is that I can control a Windows desktop without having to deal with the OS on a regular basis. I need the Windows version!
In a little over 4 months, I'll have visitors again.
I have 3 vacation days and 2 floating holidays waiting to be used. It's odd to actually have time waiting to be used again. It's not that I'm going to do it, but I can... :-)
Progress is a wonderful thing.
I finally got around to coming up with a better POP server for WCNet. It's a modified gnu-pop3d that does quota checking and some other nice stuff (like UIDL support).
After testing, it seems that it is WAY MORE EFFICIENT than the server we've been suffering with. Nice. Now we'll see if others have good luck with it.
Oh, debian totally kicks ass!
Presentation went well at work today. Though I'm annoyed with the fact that I managed to somehow wake up at 7am again. Grr. Hopefully I'll get back onto a semi-normal sleep schedule.
Tommorow should be fun. We've got movie night and Ravi is making food!
I have more ideas for additions to the MySQL distribution. Hopefully I'll be hacking on them a bit this weekend.
Went out to lunch for Chinese New Year. Food was good. Lunch was long. It's nice to have a New Year's celebration a most of the way through January.
Yeay, the kitchen is once again clean...
Stayed up late after I got the idea to write myrepl. Wrote it an announced it on the MySQL mailing list.
I decided I wanted a book. Ideally I wanted it in time for the weekend. So I hunted around on-line and found that I could get the best price (or within 50 cents of the best price) thru either Amazon.com or one of two merchants on Y! Shopping.
I ordered the book from Amazon because they often ship from their Nevada warehouse and I'd get the book in a day or two.
Well, the shipped it from Maryland, and now I'm pissed. But for the wrong reason. I should REALLY be pissed at myself for not just going to Computer Literacy and buying it myself. The fucking store is like 1.5 miles from work.
Grr. The Internet has officially damaged my thinking process.
Tied Intuit in this evening's foosball tournament games. At least they didn't win. :-)
Discovered that one of my cats likes to be brushed with a comb instead of a brush. How amusing.
Finished off part 1 of my 2-part magazine article. More on that after part 2 is done.
Put my new flannel sheets on the bed last night. Damn it's nice to have flannel sheets. Even nicer that I ordered them in less than 3 minutes on-line.
I recently printed 12 8x10 pictures thru Yahoo! Photos and they came out really nice. Went and got frames for them today and hung 'em on the walls. The funny thing is that I spent more on the frames than on the pictures--and I got some pretty cheap-ass frames.
Finished part 1 of my magazine article.
Scrubbed the bathtub. :-(
It's been a while since I put anything here. Oh, well. Shit happens.
Citibank fucked me over, so I'm pissed at them. When I get some time I'll write up the story so others can avoid the problem.
I've been playing with multicast and have run into an interesting problem which involves several programs running on one machine which all are listening to different multicast groups on the same local port. They see each other's data. Is that what is supposed to happen?
Oh, I submitted my first two patches for core Perl modules to the Perl5-Porters today. Wonder if they'll be accepted or not. They're very small and simple.
If you're curious, look here and here for them.
Oh, in case anyone is counting, I've been in California over a year now. That means my inital grant of sock options has begun vesting. But they're worthless. Damn you, Murphy.
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