July 2006 Archives

We seem to be in the “15 seconds of fame” window for operations/sysadmin topics this year:

As I think I’ve mentioned, we’re getting our basement renovated — because a nerd needs his cave, after all. Progress was moving along nicely — our contractor had everything framed up in about a week, and the small bit of plumbing work that was required (installing a new hot water heater and shifting it and the main stack a few feet over in the process) was done pretty quickly too. But then it turned out that we had to get city permits instead of county permits, and we now seem to be stuck in some sort of limbo while we wait for the inspector to show up and sign off on things so the drywall can go up. Anyway, if people are interested, I’ve put some pictures of the process on Flickr.

portland museum of art building

So, last week the whole clan packed up and went to Portland. TheWife had to attend a job-related conference, and TheChild and I tagged along for the ride. We had really good timing in that we were out of town for most of the heatwave — and the weather in Portland was fantastic, even a bit on the cool side in the mornings.

We didn’t actually do much while we there — TheWife had activities for most of the day, and TheChild and I just roamed the streets soaking up the atmosphere — but it was a fun trip nonetheless. Things we noticed about Portland:

  • lots of smokers
  • lots of street/homeless people
  • lots of bikes

I’m pretty sure the average Portland resident is a homeless guy riding a bike and smoking. Actually, not just any bike, but a fixie with moustace handle bars, and not just regular cigs, but a rollup.

TheChild and I did manage to make the Portland Museum of Art — some nice Native American stuff if you’re into that — and the whole family visited Powell’s thrice — twice to the main store and once to the technical annex. Very nice, highly recommended, and a bit overwhelming. (Most entertaining thing about Powell’s? They have “Erotica” shelved right next to “Nautical Fiction”. For some reason this amuses me greatly.)

Other notable things about this trip: I finished three books (Rainbows End, Altered Carbon, and JPod), a good-sized stack of magazines, and the first couple chapters of Programming Ruby. I also found out that I’m on a watchlist — courtesty, no doubt, of my highly unique name.

And now we’re back home. Whee. Pictures coming to Flickr soonish; hating WordPress a bit much to get all fancy with the inlines.

Update: Portland pictures.

I’m going to be in Portland, OR next week — if anybody out that way happens to read this and wants to get together for coffee or beer or whatever, drop me a line…

If you want a bit more B&D in your Perl programming, and you use Emacs, you should probably look at perltidy-mode and perl-lint-mode.


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Floyd Landis is riding the Tour (and currently holding second position in the GC, one scant minute off the lead, as the Tour heads into the mountains) with a severely degraded hip joint, the result of a training crash in 2003.

Landis and Kay had been dealing with this hip since January 2003, when Landis fractured it in a crash. But since July of that year, the story line had been his gutty, two-surgery comeback to help his U.S. Postal Service teammate Armstrong win the 2003 Tour de France. Seemingly fully recovered, Landis had followed it up with a breakout 2004 season that saw him join the top ranks of the sport. But that story ended with the radiologist’s blunt report: advanced osteonecrosis, 25 to 50 percent femoral head collapse, with superimposed osteoarthritis. It was a textbook case: cut off from the blood supply, the femoral head was withering into a cauliflower-shaped knob that was already grating away at the remaining cartilage.

(Something about the phrase “grating away at the remaining cartilage” makes me wince each and every time I read it.)

If you haven’t been following the Tour, it’s not to late to start — as I said, it’s just starting to get into the exciting stages, it’s wide open as far as who might eventually win this thing, and there are a number of people — Landis and Robbie McEwen in particular — riding with great skill and greater joy.

Saved in full, so I don’t have to dig through mail archives later, this Interesting People post:

From: Greg Brooks 
Date: July 8, 2006 1:45:57 PM EDT
To: dave@farber.net
Subject: RE: [IP] more on FBI plans new Net-tapping push
Reply-To: gregb@west-third.com

First they came for the big ISPs
and I did not speak out
because I used a little ISP and ran my own server.

Then they came for the telcos
and I did not speak out
because I used VoIP.

Then they came to my little ISP
and I did not speak out
because I could still encrypt some traffic and control my own firewall.

Then they came for my router
and there was no one left
to securely ping back to me.

(With a respectful nod to Pastor Martin Niemöller)

Since the Tour is in full swing, it seems like a good time to point to Sheldon Brown’s Bicycle Glossary. Ridiculously detailed, highly entertaining, and how can you not enjoy a glossary that says right up front “This does not pretend to be an objective document.”

… they call it osx.iusethis.com — an application tracker site updated with all the Web2.0 goodies you would expect. (The first public site that I’m aware of using Catalyst; run by two of the core developers, AIUT.)

Because one of these days I’m finally going to get back around to working on my GTD/organizer/uber-lifecenter thingy: Fraser Speirs on Incremental GTD App Hacking.

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The person in charge of selling ad time at ABC, unsurprisingly, completely misses the whole point of the DVR thing:

“I’m not so sure that the whole issue really is one of commercial avoidance,” [ABC President of Advertising Sales Mike Shaw] said. “It really is a matter of convenience—so you don’t miss your favorite show. And quite frankly, we’re just training a new generation of viewers to skip commercials because they can. I’m not sure that the driving reason to get a DVR in the first place is just to skip commercials. I don’t fundamentally believe that.

On the extremely odd chance Mr. Shaw runs across this, for the record, my wife and I were very early adopters of Tivo, purchasing ours sometime in 1999 — back when the lifetime membership was something you really had to think about, because it wasn’t clear Tivo would be around long enough for it to be worth the price — and being able to skip commercials was the primary reason for the purchase.

At this point, if I had to go back to actually watching commercials, I’d give up on broadcast television altogether, I think…

(Story originally seen on Interesting People; later on /..)

… what Eliot said.

Live tracking of Tour riders with a Google maps mashup. I assume this means they finally got around to making the riders carry GPS beacons…