Wednesday, June 27, 2007

No such thing as a free safe

        My friend Lucy Furr, after going through a divorce, is selling (actually sold) her house and has moved to the land of spells and fairies. Before she left she asked me if I wanted her gun safe. It is the big massive safe that would be great to have to store important papers and such. I have wanted a safe for the house since moving in but for whatever reason it just never bubbled up to the top of the priority list. Anyhow Lucy calls me and says that the movers just picked up the safe and they are on the way to my house. In all my excitement I forgot to ask about what is the combination to the safe. So I press redial her phone number and ask “What is the combo...” and her response is “Well the combo is in my speed safe, let me call you back.”

        The movers show up to my house with the safe and we get the safe “safely” (haha) put in the garage when Lucy calls and says “I’m just finishing up with the police. I can’t seen to find my speed safe. I think it has been stolen.” Great. Now I have a big safe in my garage that is so safe that no one can get into it. Lucy show up at the house with some great news, she is sure she remembers the first and last numbers and is pretty sure that the second number is in the fifties. Well how hard could it be to try ten different combinations to find the correct one. Well some time later after trying both the fifties and the thirties and still no luck we figure that maybe she isn’t really sure of the first and last numbers. Well how hard can it really be to open an S&G lock without any idea what numbers to use. I get the bright idea that I’m going to grab a stethoscope and see if I can crack the safe. Let’s just say I’m not quitting my day job anytime soon for a life of safe cracking. While this is going on, Lucy calls the manufacture of the safe to see if they can give up the magic digits. The call goes something like this. “No, I didn’t register the safe”, “Yes there is a silver label on it.”, “No, its pretty messed up, I can’t read the serial number off of it.”, “Locksmith, yeah I can look them up. Thanks.”

        About this time it is getting late and Lucy needs to get on the road if she is going to make it back to spell and fairy land. So now I have this big safe, kind of like an adult grab bag, The plan now is when Lucy returns from spell/fairy land next time, she will be accompanied by a lock smith with a drill. At this point I wonder what I can get on a trade-in of a *hmm* slightly damaged safe. To be continued......

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


        This weekend we had the sheer joy of having the power go out, for thirteen hours. According to Southern California Edison web page they strive to have 99.98% availability of power. That means they can have 1.75 hours a year of outages which they have blown this year. If they have no more outages then they will be at 99.85%. More importantly, my life without electricity is very boring. At one point I was sitting on my normal place on the couch where I normally watch TV except for the fact the room was completely dark. The surprising thing was how many things I do around the house require electricity and how lost I was with out it. We could hear our neighbor run a generator so I guess I’m not the only one with issues when there is no power. This event did make me decide to look into different ways of suppling the house with power but much to my dismay generators are still really expensive and it appears solar still has ways to go before it is really viable.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Software Architecture and Web 2.0ness

        I was talking with a coworker the other day (Squid) about various architecture stuff. For those who are not in “the know”, software architecture is just the way of organizing large software projects into more manageable chunks. For those kind of in “the know”, go read “Don’t Let Architecture Astronauts Scare You” . Basically as you get more experience in how software projects get put together someone will decide your an “Architect” now and not just a developer. This means you spend more time playing with onmigraffle and keynote then you do with make and gcc. Anyhow Squid was asking me about my new found attempts to maintain a blog and how he felt a blog compared to a wiki. I had just introduced Squid to wiki’s a few weeks earlier and he was really getting into them while he viewed a blog just a diary and not really a way of organizing information like what can be achieved in a wiki. It was at this point in the conversation that I slapped on my marketing/architect hat and said “That is the great thing about the web paradigm, you can have a wiki and a blog and have links that go between them allowing to cross reference the information in each, either the blog or the wiki and let each provide the information in the way that is most natural. That way your not trying to shoehorn information into a blog that best represented in a wiki and your not creating a bunch of wiki pages that should really be a blog. It is the intersection of having information, representing the information in the most natural way, and cross linking so it can be found in multiple ways.”

        I then came out of my trance, the aliens left my body and asked Squid what had just happened. He said you just made a lot of sense and if you need to capture that exact thought you just had in your blog......So Squid, this one’s for you.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Vacuum Cleaners

        I must be totally domesticated at this point in my life to be writing a blog entry about buying a new vacuum cleaner (can you believe it ladies, my pale, computer programmer body has already been snatched up, sorry). This all started a few weeks ago when I was doing some house cleaning and noticed that the vacuum’s hose attachment hose had some holes in it and generally it was not providing much in the way of suction. I used some electrical tape to “repair” the hose and I took the vacuum apart to pull all the clogged dog hair out of it. That is when I got the idea to get a new vacuum. After doing some research on the web I decided I was going to be tool of the brain sucking marketing blob and get a Dyson. I figure I already use a mac and drive a bmw so joining the Dyson lunatic fringe wouldn’t be all that traumatic. After I got it home I decided I would do the head-to-head challenge between the Dyson and old vacuum (Eureka I believe). I first vacuumed the floors with the old vacuum and then went over the same area with the Dyson and much to my surprise the Dyson did pick up quite a bit more dirt and dog hair that the Eureka had left behind. Maybe there is some truth to all the hype around them Dysons. The other nice thing is the Dyson should not get clogged up with all the dog hair that normally reeks havoc on our vacuums. As sad as it might seem, this really was the highlight of my day unless you could watching a RAID container rebuild itself over the course of 12 hours because of the scheduled and unannounced power outage.

        Honestly...I promise to hit the fatherhood topic shortly......

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Testing new version of MacJournal

        Due to my bug reports over the past few days, I now get to try out beta version of MacJournal. This is very exciting as this version should also copy labels given to posts in MJ to blogger. If all goes as plan (and that feature has been implemented in this version), this post should show up as having the label of “Software”. The problem with testing out this software to see about the long posts getting cut off is I don’t typically write long blog posts so while last night was a fluke, tonight it is just going to some forced rambling much like being on a forced march in the military. I should note that while I called what happen a bug and reported to MJ it could also be bloggers fault and the actual MJ software could be working great. I don’t want to blame MJ if it is really a google issue.

        Wow, second paragraph time.....This is where things get kind of weird as I am actually done for the night but need to write 21 more lines of text. I guess I could will add some more random thoughts on software. I have recently found or discovered some really cool software that I can’t wait to try out (in some cases I knew about the software just never got around to looking at it.) There is also some software that I really need but can’t seem to find and I might actually have to dust off some coding skills and write it myself. The problem with most of this cool software is it doesn’t run on any of the platforms I need it to run on.

        First there is Truecrypt which is an on-the-fly disk encryption software. The cool thing is it gets awesome reviews all over the web but the serious bummer is it doesn’t support OSX yet. I plan to start using it in a limited amount here in the next month but can’t really use it too much until the do support aapl. The good news is OSX support is on their roadmap but so is a lot of other things and no dates are given ....

        The next cool piece of software is really a software service is Amazon S3 storage. This looks like the perfect thing to solve my remote backup problem but since my main servers all run OpenBSD there doesn’t seem to be a front-end that I can use. I guess I’m going to have to spend some time this weekend looking at ways of making the two play nicely with each other.

        The piece of software I really need is a good backup strategy (architecture?) for my laptop and my server. I like rdiff-backup to my main server should work OK, but getting my main server backed up to someplace off-site has been one of the big problems. If you, the great lazyweb, have any ideas on how to fix my back-up woes, please leave a comment.

        Well as I think I have written enough now, time to upload it and see if this whole post makes it or not.

Limits on lengths of posts

        Well I just found out the hard way that there is a limit on the length of a post that MJ will upload to blogger. I had this great paragraph on feelings of fatherhood that is now lost to the great bit bucket, Charlie Brown. Basically what it said was my wife is having our first kid and will start blogging more about that experience and that my friends with kids can follow along and probably understand and my friends without kids and see what this experience does to someone like me.

        Time to go file another bug report with MJ. Later.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Follow-up and other ramblings

It has been a few days since I have posted anything so this update is going to kind of scattered all over the place. First lets start with an update to my MacJournal adventures. After I blogged about tags applied in MJ not being copied to blogger I submitted a bug and Dan Schimpf from MJ got back to me the next day to let me know that is a new feature that will be out in the next point release of MJ. I enjoy when a software is that on the ball with stuff so I went ahead and purchased MJ and will continue to use it. Lets see how that works out.

        Speaking of software, the Omni Group makers of such fine software as Omnigraffle and Omniplan are working on a new piece of software called Omnifocus. It is supposed to help people implement David Allens Getting Things Done (GTD) way of task management. They also hope to have a stripped down version for the iPhone. I am hoping that this is another quality piece of software and can’t wait for it to be released. Plus I’m getting tired of checking there website every half hours like a junkie needing a fix.

        Other fun this week was the complete crash of my hard drive at work with 3 years of work and email stored on it. Yes I know I should have back-ups but my excuse is due to the sensitive nature of my work I didn’t want a lot of copies floating around on the network.....That is my story and I’m sticking with it. While I wait for a new machine at work which could take up to a couple of months I limp along with borrowed equipment and unstable network much fun.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Well Good Night

It looks like labels from MacJournal don’t get transmitted to blogger correctly. That is a serious bummer. :( I guess the dream of just using blogging software like MJ to completely manage a blog is too much to ask for in the 21st century.

Test Post

After threatening to all weekend, I finally got around to setting up a blog on blogspot and give MacJournal a try. This is just the first random test post to see how well this works out.