My Life Musings



...and that's me

Hi Folks. This is my blog, diary, whatever you want to call it. Just mostly musings from my life. Some things are here to remind me how to do something. Some things are here to remind me what I've done. Other things are just me blowing off steam about life. I do try to keep it clean, PG13 at least, but slip up some in the heat of the moment as we all do. One notice the repeated use of the word dung.
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02/10/2010
Prayer of the Prideful


They say pride comes before the fall. I'm no longer what I consider a religious man. In fact, I'm quite anti-religious. On a side note, it's quite hard smoking a pipe with no hands. Maybe that takes some practice, and a certain measure of inhaling. Though, I'd read no inhaling pipe tobaccie. But, my pipe just went out again. On a not unrelated note, I do like my new corn cob pipes. They seem to smoke better than my Peterson. I've not tried the curved stem one yet; just breaking in the straight stem one. It seems to smoke cooler than the Peterson for one, and doesn't seem to have the gurgling problem at all. I'm quite impressed. This prideful man has taken up pipe smoking, it is true.

Then, what else? I've got many manifestations of being extremely prideful. Ouch, that's why you don't inhale. I need not enumerate my prideful ways. I guess that might turn into a discussion as to why I don't think it so bad, but maybe thats me misunderstanding the premise of the religious context. Probably means pride setting oneself before God. And, not believing in God would definitely have to be so characterized, by definition it would seem.

Anywho, it's plainly obvious to anyone close to me I've distanced myself from any organized religion-the born again movement in particular, since that was my upbringing and demise, or so I consider it to more or less to be. I suppose I could elaborate on the whys, but why? It mostly has to do with the people who as so inclined to be aligned with such organizations. I was one, and I hate it and so now hate those found in such circles. But I've tried to stop short of taking on an atheistic mindset that there is no God. That i can't say for myself, since to me it betrays a considerable level of arrogance. I'm not that confident in myself for sure. I surely could say, well, I don't know there is a God. But, in my mind, there is such considerable unknown in this world as I know it and see it, and wonder about it in such amazement that I surely must admit that is seems quite plausible to me. But, what form that God takes, and who on this planet is telling the best God story, that I have a difficult time with. Surely, I would have to lean to the Christ centered view, but then I just dismiss that as mostly due to how I was trained to accept that view. I would think the devout Hindu thinks they're right in greater magnitude than I could ever say they weren't. But, this I'm sure is a common position of people who just want to be unaffiliated, as myself.

The point of this little write up? Well, Laura has been in the hospital for nealy 3 weeks now, and in intensive care for 2 of them. I've been broken down to my lowest core of helplessness. I love my daughter so much. I am helpless to help her. I don't think I could live without her, and this experience has forced me to consider a life without her more than once. It has been a gut wretching, peraonal horror show. I was broken so much, forced to the ultimate level of helplessness, that I was willing to do anything to change the situation. That included a short, quiet moment of praying out to God, whatever God may be out there, to give me what I wanted - and that is for my daughter to be healed. I'm so broken now. I'm so weak, and so completely dead inside. I miss my baby. I miss her so. Please God, don't take my baby. Don't deny her the life she should have here. Give her life here. She loves life so. Take me, spare her. Or, spare her, and let me live as well. I'm so selfish where she is concerned. I want to live my life with her next to me, in my arms. She is such a precious life, with so much to offer this world, this universe. Moreso than me. Moreso than most anyone I know. The universe, this physical reality, is a much better place with her in it. Please don't take my baby. Let her live. This, I pray, despite all my shortcomings, despite all my anger, despite all my doubt. It's not about me, its about her. Do not make her life and her pain contigent on my pathetic existance. Let her live. Please, please let her live. Laura, I love you so.

01/22/2010
Another Week In the Books


Ah, here I sit, finished off another smoke. Friday is my pipe day, after work. I've put in an order for a couple Missouri Meerschaum corncob pipes from AristoCob just to get something more in the rotation. It's been a week since I ordered, and its still not shipped, so I'm slightly disappointed in that. I frequently watch youtube videos with people smoking pipes for tips. And, being on a diet and its necessary reduction in alcohol intake, well, the pipe serves to pass some necessary time. I think this was probably one of the finest smokes I've had with this peterson the wife gave me today. It smoked very nice nearly the whole bowl.

I had a pretty busy week of work, and am pretty spent. Laura has been pretty sick the past few days, and that means she lays with us through most of the night and that means I get kicked and picked at throughout the night, which translates to very little restful sleep. The lack of a belly full of beer also doesn't help things.

So, I got my review this week. Thats always a huge joke. This one was pretty special since my manager kept trying to make a point that he saved me from some great tragedy recently. How many managers does this make who've gone out of their way to keep me from getting fired. Lol. I knew exactly the incident he was referring to as soon as he mentioned it. Why? Because I knew it could come back to bite me possibly, and I really didn't care when I said what I said. I would say the same thing again, since I was doing the right thing, and that's all that ever matters to me. The loser who went crying to his boss will always be a loser. Me - I'll always have a boss who wants to save me from certain doom. Lol.

So, my folly into the world of JSF, which finally came out a success, due only to the herculean effort I put in to keep it from blowing up in my face, well, that seems to have garnered me an increased level of respect and admiration from my colleagues. All the while, I know they hate that. But, I did a great thing, pulled it off, took a huge risk, and well, I came out on top. Anywho, it seems I've taken the mantle as the resident web expert in our team and can probably use this to develop some pretty nifty shit if I so desire, and I do. I just need to build on the knowledge base I've started to develop. There's still alot of shit I've yet to learn.

JSF is not the end all for web programming I've decided. It's a decent framework to develop in, but it takes a programmer with substantial skill to make it work. I posted a simple enough question to coderanch, as I was struggling with what I thought should be a rather common situation that didn't seem to have a nice common and obviou solution, and one of the people there who has considerable expertise actually replied, and I was thankful for that. He used words like tricks in his reply, so that said to me JSF truly requires a developer's mindset to make some things work. That makes me feel better, because some things I just didn't see a straightforward solution out of the box for.

I actually bought a book on JSF, and am reading it pretty regularly to hone my understanding and skills. I haven't taken this approach to a technology in probably years. Its time to really develop an expertise, and I think this is a technology I want to have expertise in. I think if I specialize in it, it will payoff pretty substantially, so I'm digging in for the long haul.

WTF does Obama have up his butt? He's killing my portfolio. I'm not panicing, in fact, I'm trying to get some decent stocks at a discount. He's given me a moment to pause and consider the conspiracy theories. I've heard so many of them over the years about the bankers ruling the world. Money men had Lincoln killed, and Kennedy's assisination was about money, not oswold, all that stuff. Aluminadee. Well, if all that were true, one would think Obama is really playing with fire here and might find himself on the wrong end of a sniper's rifle. I never much believed the banker rule the world crap, and doubt OB has anything to worry about. I do wish he would shutup with his nonsense over money and capital markets though. This country has enough struggles ahead to dig out of this hole without him throwing the dirt back in. Something about that hole metaphore doesn't seem to make much sense, does it?

01/16/2010
I Love Poker


There's times you play bad, and come out on top. There's times you play good and don't. Most of the time if you play some good, some bad, you just come out in the middle. I love times like today. Playing heads up, was working my way up. Started with 60, had pulled about 20 chips off my opponent. Then, there's the hand. Holding A3, the flop, A38. Flush building...then the turn another A. Flush more complete. River completes the club flush, and I'm sure hoping my opponent hit it since I'm holding the boat, and obviously trapping...LOL. I check-please push please push please push...and he pushes me all in, obviously, he's hit the flush, since this guy has played well, and not bluffed at all with stupid plays! Hot damn! I turn over my boat, aces full of threes. He turns over his, aces full of 8s. LOL. I love poker.


Whose fault is it - how many times in life do we think...'this is the hardest thing I've had to do'... I know it crosses my mind about different things. Maybe I really just have a top ten list and things which vie for the top spot always seem like the hardest. I thought today, this isn't all my fault. The Mrs. I think needs to bear some blame. How can one person wind up marrying two different people where the two people are so completely and diametrically opposed to each other in every way imaginable? Hence, the offspring of the one is so foreign to me since he is so much like the other. It's like one person could marry and fall in love once with Mr Hyde, then follow it up with Dr. Jeckyl. I fail to see how I can possibly come to terms with this kid. He's just so much unlike me, or anything in life I stand for. More than that, he's the embodiment of things I most dislike about people I usually can't tolerate for a minute. Now, I'm stuck with him, and will be for years to come. Its like a torture chamber.

01/02/2010
Lite My Far


Got done a long week of work. Felt tire, winded. Wanted to snooze, or just kick back, relax...and, hey, I've got my pipe. What a great time to light up my pipe. Noone in the house, and that makes it even more ideal. Of course, I'm still a novice, learning. I've been watching alot of youtube videos to figure out the craft. When I told the wife I'd like a pipe for xmas, I never knew how well, complicated it was. After oh, I'm guessing maybe having smoked 5 bowls now, I'm still trying to get the hang of it. Amazingly, it seems each time I smoke its a new adventure. Something about the outing is different than I've had before. For example, the last time I smoked, the pipe got completely clogged a little over halfway finished. I just stopped there. I've been having an issue with saliva I think getting in the pipe, and that seems to happen every time. I've been trying no to hold the pipe angled slightly up. Today's adventure I almost got a bon fire going in the pipe at one point. Clealy too loosely packed. That was probably after I had to try to aerate it because it seemed to be packed too tight. Today I came across a better packing video. I've been packing with the tool, and this guy shows how to do it just using a finger. I think I'm going to definitely try that route in the future. He had a sense of humor - "always remember", he says, "when you're holding a pipe, everyone will believe everything you say (why wouldn't they anyway? ed.). It's an awesome power, and not to be abused". Kind of funny. Pipe smokers seem to have an odd sense of humor based on what I've seen on youtube.

01/02/2010
That's a Switch


Had some back and forth with the justanswer.com guy regarding my dishwasher. He was still there tonight when I returned. I hate working with anything electric. Knowing me, I just know one time I'm gonna forget the red and the black and kablu-ee. Gonna need another Eddie. Well, I disassembled the power leads into the thing, and they all looked good and were all hot. So, he says take off the cover and test the power at the switch, timer, etc. Well, I'd not taken off a dishwasher cover in over 10 years. Last time was when the loonie put dish soap in the dishwasher and suds up the whole interior of the front. That ruined all the electronics, and a repair man was needed. Well, I got the cover off, and started to kind of figure out what was what. I was real uneasy about pressing down on that switch with my bare hands. As I thought about it, I decided it couldn't be hot. Anywho, as I was poking around the dang thing came to life. Not once, twice. But, I couldn't figure out why. There was power all over the dang thing, that's for sure. So, I replied back to the guy, and while I was waiting, decided to play some more. Here, the switch has two contacts which must be pressed down. It seems for some reason, it's given up pressing down the second. If I force it down, then wahlah, the thing comes to life everytime. I think I've got the problem, now to figure out what must be the simple solution. Maybe I won't even have to buy anything, now that would be sweet. I'm so tickled, I even had an extra celebration beer. Not that that's unusual, but I'm on a diet again, and have been pretty strict this week. Can't believe how much weight I put back on while suffering with that UTI and beyond.
Yup, that did it. Turns out the ESCUTCHEON is defective. There's an alignment post that holds the switch plate in place. It's bent. The alignment post is out of line. One contact gets switched fine, the other is being missed now. What changed? I assume there's this plastic mesh that runs between the two which probably has just lost the right amount of elasticity so to make the other contact not get pushed in. My solution - I took the switch out and wrapped it in electrician tape. It's always on. The other is engaged by the switch plate (and more importantly disengaged as well), and the dishwasher is working great! Talk about saving some money as a DIYer! That only cost me $9 in advice from justanswer.com. I gave the guy a $20 bonus :)

01/02/2010
Well, That Sure Wasn't on the ToDo List


Complained as usual, who stopped the dishwasher? Water in the pan, as usual. Uh oh, turned it back on to finish the drain cycle, and it ain't draining. Sh1t! Went through the circuit breaker dance, the whole 9 yards. Nothing. This ain't good. Price a new dishwasher, just for giggles? Holy Sh1t. Dishwashers be expensive. Okay. Repair man, or DIY? I found the parts layout and the geappliance part store. Also, a couple parts stores who sell stuff a little cheaper. But, what part? I've got the hood open, and can peer in the bottom of the thing. Doesn't look too intimidating. Sounds like I could replace the motor/pump assembly for about $150 DIY style. But, how to know if that's what needs replaced? I think so, but sure would be nice to be sure. I'm on justanswer.com at the moment going back and forth with an "appliance expert". He's not been much help yet. Waiting for his third reply now. Hurry up, buddy. Dishes be piling up...

01/02/2010
Resolute


Continuing on my thoughts of the year gone by, the year which is to come. Thankfully, mom didn't wait too long to address all the ramifications which are a result of failing out of school. We had a fairly extensive conversation last night about it. Was a little tense at times, a little bizarre at times, but I think the point at least is being developed that this is a serious matter which does have consequences. I started to ponder more of them yesterday in my quiet time of spackling the foyer walls and trim. For example, he no longer has health insurance, he is no longer a deduction on my tax return, he's no longer pulling on loans for his room and board. He's quite an increased financial liability to us personally. Most people would probably just fluff it off for a while. I can't. Like I told d last night, I've got alot of responsibility still to go. Still child support, still way behind for retirement, still got to get the menace out of high school. I don't make enough money, nor have secure enough employment to fund 4 people who are perhaps in a perpetual eternal state of trying to find their way. I'd actually had more to drink last night than I was expecting for the new year, and don't recall all that was said. But, at least the groundwork has been laid. I do recall him saying things like "I was thinking I could get another job...", to which I replied, well, that's good, because you don't have a choice. He also asked us how much he had taken in loans. I love these kinds of questions because my answer is always the same - "That's not for us to know. You should know these things." I also asked him if he had any clue what a mess he's got himself into with the college loans getting nothing for it. He kind of says yes, but I said, "No, you don't". After he starts paying on them, then he'll get a better clue. I started to detail all the things he's still taking for granted which he needs to now figure out how he's going to pay for them: cellphone, car insurance, etc. That's not even talking about everyday things like food. At one point he mentioned his friend was considering buying a trailer, as if that had some relevance to him. "Buying a Trailer?!!! What planet are you on", I must've said. Anywho, my goal is to make this an important, but successful learning experience for him - perhaps the first actually thing he's ever learned in life that's hopefully going to make a lasting impression on him. Like his mom loves to say, "he's the nicest kid we've got". I won't argue that, but to me, that and a buck can almost buy you a cup of coffee. I think he needs some goal setting, with alot of input from us, and hopefully he'll develop a meaningful more independent life this year.

I was pondering some of my personal goals for the year, and if I should even make any. I suppose I decided to. I want to shed this newly acquired baggage from around my middle since my UTI. So, I suppose I'll make that get back to the weight I was in September. That should take me about 3 months if I stick to the same rate I was on last year. I want to get back into racing shape. I guess I will need to establish some goals as to what that actually means. I'm nearly at a 5 mile average every other day. That's clearly higher than what I was prior to the UTI. However, I'm not mixing in crosstraining on the off days. My body seems to recover better this way, so we'll see how much I can push it up to. I don't really have any morality based goals we'll call them. I'm not really planning to stop drinking, but I will need to cut back for sure to lose weight. So, that will save some money for sure. I've not really pondered any work/career goals. I should set some, though. I'll start that on worktime come Monday.

As for my vacation that is ending, I accomplished most everything I set out to do on my list. Only thing I'm missing is I haven't cut up that log yet, and I haven't got the receipts from Eckman from 2008. I'll probably do the log today. I did finish up most of the prep work on the foyer, which wasn't officially on my vacation list. I should actually wrap that up completely by end of day tomorrow.

I did set a high-minded, abstract goal for the year; something that really can't be measured and is completely subjective. I want 2010 to be a year I'm personally proud of. I've spent way too much time in the past few years focused on all the idiots that surround me in one way or another. For one, I'd like to remove that wasted energy from my life. Also, there's some personal baggage I've been carrying around for the past few years which I've finally pretty much extricated from my life. I've got a goal to give that an increased permanence in my life. I'd like to find a way to better deal with kid issues and spend an increased level of quality time with Laura. I think my relationship with d has become better over the past few months, and I'd like to keep that going.

So, here's to an awesome 2010. Cheers.

01/01/2010
A New Year


Was wondering if I should take time to reflect over the year that had just past. Thought it might be a little entertaining. Let's give it a go. But, first, the news that is so old. The oldest failed out of school. That comes as no surprise to me, and I'm sure neither his mother. Of course, she was much more hopeful than that. Me, I've always been more based in reality. After he was put on probation last year for the remedial classes, etc, I knew this was the most likely outcome. Now, what? I've always maintained I would not become a halfway house for him to hang out, halfway still a child, halfway wanting to not be an adult. I'm intent on following through with that. It's just now a question on how it will be implemented. I've already discussed it with diane at some lengths. She knows what is coming, but again, still light on the details. I'm not sure how much time I will give him. I'm thinking at least by spring he needs to move on. I think that's fair. He needs to start defining his life. I always said when he failed out I would not have an explosion, I wouldn't even yell. So far, I've held to that, and can't see any reason why I would need to break with that. It's not my problem. It's not anything I need to solve. Anywho, I'm sure I'll be writing about this often in the future.

So, the year that was 2009. Much of it was focused on the economy. I recall the beginning of the year I was stockpiling canned goods in the basement. Well, thankfully we never needed to resort to sustaining ourselves off the stockpiles. I'm sure I was not overreacting. There was a chance things could get disastrously worse, but I am thankful that it did not. We even started to work off the stockpiles. There's not much left down there. Lots of ketchup, toothpaste, and some instant potatoes.

The beginning of this past year started with Laura having pneumonia, and with me wrapping up the front room. I wanted to slap on another coat of paint, but she's got it all furnished now, and it probably would be too much a pita to disassemble it. Always leave room for improvement. Seems every year about this time I get my social security statement. That gives me time to reflect on my financial future, which I actually just did again this morning. At the beginning of 2009, I was pondering what loser I was in not advancing myself in the workplace. In retrospect, it seems I was being a little harsh. At the end of the year, I was stil employed, which is pretty good given unemployment at 10%. I actually also advanced my skillset substantially at the end of the year, so I'm feeling much better about my current value add proposition for any future employment. We got a new president this year, and the automakers went bankrupt, except Ford. Funny, I've bought mostly Fords my whole life. I had a runin with Tim/Matt and the dryer again, and reran the plumbing for the washing machine. The idiot has left me alone this year. My relationships with my kids hasn't progressed much. Aaron seems to be doing well, and we get along pretty much. Jon is a different story altogether. He's always used the divorce for his own agenda, and that has taken on a whole new life of its own this past year. But, I'm pretty detached from the whole thing, and have been working on that recently to detach even more. I wonder if we'll ever see him after he graduates. I have alot of doubt. If his current life is any indication, I'll never see him or hear from him unless he wants money. Another year has come and gone and I haven't spoke to my family. I doubt if I ever will again as long as I live. My sister made some stupid pilgrimage here over the summer. She's got some damn nerve. Hopefully she's not dumb enough to try that again. She made her bed, now she can sleep in it. I've become more atheistic this year than I've ever been. The hypocrisy of church people has defined a divide between people like them and me, so much so that it's hard to describe. I've often reflected this past year what that mentality of people has cost me personally, and it sickens me and angers me. I have got to the point where it is so much a part of me, and is an unshakable force that defines who I am as much as their BS defines who they are. I gave up drinking for quite a while this past year. I threw in the towel when it became so apparent drinking was not the problem in my issues with Matt. Matt is the problem. He needs to get his shit together, and no lack of drinking on my part is going to move that along. So, I decided why deny myself one of my life's simple pleasures for no reason whatsoever. So, not only did I restart drinking, I'm now smoking a pipe as well. The house took a few hits this year. I just found a couple more leaks again yesterday. I've not finished the foyer, and started to construct a path from the front of the house to the back. I plan on finishing both of those tasks this year. I moved to an iTouch this year. I tried twitter than decided it was the one of the stupidest things I'd ever seen and stopped using it. I traded stocks pretty intensely this year. I've been on margin most of the year, but have more than doubled my money off the March lows. I've been trying to scale back some of my positions. I refinanced the house for 15 years at a 4.25% rate. I lost quite a bit of weight, and ran some 5K races. In September, I got a UTI which set me back substantially, and have since had to cutback on my exercise, and have put on a substantial amount of weight that I'd lost. I probably should start the year off right, and try to get back to where I was. I know I can, it's just a matter of deciding if I really want to do it. I think I probably do. Less drinking will have to go along with it. I had a car broke into again. They stole the junky radio out of my probe. I've got a better mousetrap set for them, though have yet to catch anything. We learned out neighbors are idiots, after they trespassed on my property and vandalized my willow tree. She's really not spoke to us since. I got a nice new computer system after throwing in the towel on fixing my old desktop. The kids are using the old desktop now, and I don't think it has been hanging at all for them. Strange but true. Matthew has been a menace. He refuses to grow up and refuses to do his schoolwork. Laura has progressed well this year. She's adorable, the pearl of my life.

So, 2009 was quite an interesting year. 2010 looks to be just as interesting, with one kid I am intent on getting out of the house on his own two feet, and with another probably leaving to go off to college, and probably never to be seen or heard from ever again. Then, I've got child support to redo. House projects to wrap up. Finances to try and rebuild and grow. It should be quite an interesting year. Almost looks to be a watershed type year of positioning ourselves for midlife, and probably the start of actually winding down. Sounds pretty pathetic, winding down at 46. But, that's what it feels like now. The majority of my life is now in the past. I want to start to lay the groundwork for having some downtime, some rewards to enjoy. It seems so much of my life has been spent without enjoyment, without fun. I fault my parents and my upbringing. The more I review my past, the more obvious it is to me. Sure I made mistakes. But, they stole so much from me in the name of their stupid religion. So, to my mother I say, I don't accept your stupid apology. I never will.

12/27/09
Winter Vacation Week 2.1


It's official. The timeline for having kids around before they push the limits of my nerves is about a week. The oldest is clueless beyond repair. I'm sure we've had some amount of hope that being far enough away from mommy's apron strings would serve to force him to mature. It ain't happening. He's not sure if he even passed school yet. That's going to come sometime between now and 1/14. It's a conversation we're not looking forward to. But, it's not at all unexpected. He probably has failed out of school, and will most likely be force to get an apartment sometime in the next few months. It is a promise we've made to him, and one I full well intend to follow through on. Perhaps that's why he at least seems a little nervous about failing. He still doesn't want to grow up, but he knows it could be much closer than he wants. Over the past month, the little involvement we've had with him continues to reinforce the reality that he remains as clueless as ever. I just had to witness the 3 kids gathered around mommy's feet trying to decide what movie to go to. 3 kids. 20, 14, and 13. Independent enough to be able to go to the movies, but so hopelessly clueless to not even be able to pick out a movie. Then, there's my oldest, well I've already blogged about him and winter break. I'm holding out for the middlest who at least shows some promise of having a clue. But, he may wind up breaking my heart. Then, the caboose, he's just the most royal PITA. The endless stream of stupidity flowing from his pie hole that never closes is just enough to drive anyone mad. I know full well what my work colleague was speaking about when he said he was marking the days off on the calendar till his kid turned 18. I've begun to do the same.

12/27/09
Winter Vacation Week 2


Glad Christmas has come and gone. Now onto New Years. Been thinking I may reflect soon on the year that has come and gone. I'm glad to see it go. This next year, I think I'll be even more anxious to see come and go, get it behind me. My oldest will be graduating school in May, and I'm anxiously looking forward to the end of the child support for him. More than that, I'll be looking to see him transition into his life that doesn't include my household. I'm sure he's looking forward to it, and I can't say I'm not. He's very much allowing himself to be manipulated by my parents, and my passive involvement will end when he graduates. He won't use my house as a base for his manipulation any longer. I will probably ask him to just move on, move out. I will continue to actively remove any remants of the idiots that were my family for 30 some years from my home and will not allow their stupid religious antics to be injected here. I hope they've got a special cellar for long term rotting for such people in some eternal hell somewhere. I do plan on moving from this area as graduating kids allow, which should be sometime in the next 5 years.

12/23/09
Winter Vacation Day 7


Woke up this morning feeling a little lost. Had knocked off quite a few things from my todo list, and it was getting a bit lean. Lean, yes. Complete, no. So, just had to pick one not so fun thing. Started off the day by gathering up some of my mess. Winter has a way of creating piles of clothes around the house for one thing. Also, my nice neat office was collecting some trash. Boxes to break down, empty bottles to gather. Some spray and wash on my clothes that'd got oiled up from my oil change yesterday. The wife went to the store, so changing that oil was off the table for now. Well, that left the back brakes on my Probe. They'd been noisy every since Mike changed them 3 years back. I wasn't sure why. Could be the calipers were froze up, which would not be good at all. But, I'd thought Mike had rebuilt them when he did the shoes. I got the drum off, and just started to play with the emergency brake cable. There was no adjusting left to do on it, since they'd left it as loose as could be. But, it clealy was binding the brake when the emergency brake was disengaged. I thankfully had a couple cans of brake cleaner, and emptied one on the cable assembly end, and worked the parts to and fro to try and free them up. After putting the drum back, the cable seems to be releasing much better, and I'm hoping that's all it takes to shut the dang thing up. Thankfully, I've still got some brake left as well. Had my resident mechanic give me a blessing on the amount of wear left. 3-4 months he guesses. With the amount of driving I do, it should be 3-4 years. So, its off to Pep Boys to get me a new spindle nut, then its off to another oil change. Oil, beer, and that should just about wrap up my first week.
12/22/09
Winter Vacation Day 6


I can't believe that a$$h0l3 from work actually had the nerve to call me this morning. I will not dignify them with a response. Someone has to take a stand, and I'm always up for doing it.

On a brighter note, I think I've got my comskip processing working pretty well now. It consists of basically two parts written in php. First part is run off of the PostProcessing.bat file that is initiated by gbpvr after the recording ends. I've hooked that to update the folder and recording file to remove special characters which have been found to cause cuttermaran grief. That list consists only of an ambersand at the moment. After removing the special characters, thp php script adds a row into mysql database. The second part is running as a scheduled job, running on half hour intervals. That process kicks off a php script which reads the recording rows from mysql, and runs comskip.exe then comclean2.bat over the recording. Now, I just have to find things worth recording to do some validation. I imagine the biggest shortcoming will be in the comskip detection itself. I've set the detection method to 111, which seems to work fairly well.

So, onto another vacation task. Time for some auto maintenance.

12/21/09
Old Man


One intersting thing about playing with my webcam is I had a mug shot taken last year as a still photo, for no other reason than to play with the dang thing. It's nothing to do with being vain. So, anyway, it gives a point of reference, time based, and location based. The location is the same. Me, 18-24 inches away from the webcam. Time...well, last year, and any point since. What just jumped out at me like a gargoyle is I've aged a sh1tload since last year. It is so undeniable, and its frightening, mostly because it has happened to me. Last year - still nice looking middle aged guy. Actually, middleaged isn't so apparent. This year? Holy Sh1t. I'm not borderline middleaged on that camera any longer. I've crossed the border and went deep into the territory that is midlife. I can call me ugly because its me. I'm dang ugly, that's for sure. What gives? That's got to be the worst 12 month deterioration of my entire life in picture form, of that there can be no doubt. Wow, scary.
12/21/09
Heads Up


I hate to think I'm a good poker player. It's a brutal game. I'm taking a moment after a few weeks to ponder and reflect on my play. Recently I've discovered the free heads up play at pokerstars. I'd not really played it before. However, it seemed to be a little more realistic play to me than what you get at the multi-player free tables. Well, interesting enough, since I started playing the heads up situations, I've been cleaning up the competition more often than not. It's only a few times I've been cleaned out, but the majority of the time I'm cleaning out my opposition. One case where I did not was last night, when I got all in with a dude. Each time I was all in, I was ahead big, and he was on a draw. Each time he won. The first time I had him covered so could continue on. I built myself back up to parity, and we played on for a long time. The second time, same thing. I was ahead with top pair, and he was on an 8 outer straight draw. Again, he hit it on the river. So, that was one time where I didn't clean out the competition, but I clearly felt he should've been cleaned out in one of the coin flips. So, bottom line, is I'm way ahead in the heads up battles. I'm just whining a little about last nights one battle where I didn't, that's it.

12/21/09
No Thanks for the Memories


A break from the diary entries of my winter vacation. Gosh, this keyboard sucks. I'm in the basement on the kids desktop which used to be my hanging desktop that doesn't anymore, but the keyboard is just pathetic. Anywho, someone in newark hit up my site, googling for ed connell of westgrove, yea, westgrove as a single word speaks a bit for an investigatory mind like mine, but I digress. So, I pulled up the referrant site, and found some quite interesting results. I learned more about my aunt rosie and uncle joe in 5 minutes than I knew in my whole 40 years of being a connell. Now, I always was well, I don't know how to say it, I guess entertained by this couple as my blood relations. I don't know, I never had anything against them personally. Now, their daughter Colleen, that's a different story, but Aunt Joe and Uncle Rosie were always well, interesting in my book. But, they're collateral damage in the world of relationships that is the Connell family, and I doubt if I'll ever see them again, funerals included. I'm not doing funerals that are to be; I've already decided.

12/21/09
Winter Vacation Day 5


Spent the morning wrapping up the webcam integration piece of my desktop rebuild. Always interesting trying to validate access to the internal site. First, you verify on a computer internal to workout the local firewall access rules. I'm getting better at just remembering to identify the program to the windows firewall. Then, how to verify from outside the home? I usually use my work VPN as the first attempt. Today, I did the same. Since I was firing up the work laptop, I figured I would just see how the transition was going from my colleagues and their implied expectations where my vacation was concerned. Sure enough, they were blasting away when they knew I'd checked out already. They even did a UAT build with no changes included from the prior build. Surely the architect was smart enough to see there was nothing new in the build. Then, a subtle threat from the project manager from hell for the stupid. He can ki$$ my skinny whyte a$$. I'm sure they'll figure it out that the next two weeks are mine, and I don't give a sh1t about their stupid project.

Anywho, back to my local site validation. It dawned on me there may be free proxy services on the net. I'd actually started to build one from my own domain, but idiot bluehost has locked down opening remote sites and non-conventional ports. Sure enough, there are some decent proxy services out there. I used a couple to realize that my local verizon firewall rules were preventing inbound traffic to my 8080 port. Opened that up, and all things are good. I still can't verify the webcam, but I figure someday I'll be out and about with the laptop and stop at a hotspot and do some validation. Since it requires the media player plugin, my options are limited with say an itouch. But, for now, I'm calling the tincam integration a win. Moving on now to the commercial skip batch processing.

Actually, I'd forgotton to verify the external access to my gbpvr. That would suck if I'd set that up and forgot to open it up. Kind of defeats the whole purpose. But, used this nice proxy service, ProxyEasy.com to verify and correct just now.

Think I'll take Laura out in the snow today.

12/20/09
Winter Vacation Day 4


Well, comskip isn't going too well. It starts to beg the question how much time am I going to put into this to try to get it working. I recorded 3 trial episodes of Married with Children yesterday back to back to see how it would go. It seems that the comskip processing took a very long time and that there is some concurrency issue with multiple ones running in parallel. I'm not sure what it is. Of the three possible shows, only the last one finished fully, and that was past midnight, 2 hours after the show finished. The first two didn't finish. The comskip on the third I'm watching now, and it seems to have skipped well. I'm going to explore creating a batch process to run comskipping uninitiated by the main recording service thread. I've read someone else doing that before. Also, some filenames need fixed up because of Windows special characters causing cuttermaran not to recognize the project file.

12/19/09
Winter Vacation Day 3


Big white out today. Snowing hard, doesn't look like letting up anytime soon. This surely wasn't on my todo list.

I've been working on rebuilding my EdTeeVo. It is a bit more involved than I recall, but it is going fairly smoothly.

I was able to integrate the VLC videostreaming fairly easily. What I can't figure is how anyone would use anything besides LAN speed. Perhaps if you do lower quality streaming, the lower speeds suffice. High quality and 512 speed looks like sh1t.

I also didn't remember all the downloading of utilities required to do commercial skipping for example. Thankfully, I jotted stuff down from last year at just about this time of the year. Turns out, my current commercial skipping experience isn't going as smoothly as I recall from the past. I've got one episode of Seinfeld from last night I recorded, and the skipping isn't going as well as I would've hoped. At the moment, I'm running through the comskip documentation on tuning. I thought it worked much better right out of the box last time. It seems to me there's a transition problem when gbpvr initiates a channel change as part of doing the recording. I downloaded a mpeg editor, ripped out the beginning and it worked better. This is going to take some further investigation.

Well, I'm off to using comclean2.bat rather than comclean.bat. cuttermaran seems to cut/reassemble things better than the mplex1 program which kept complaining about missing headers or something. I changed the magic framerate number to 2997 or whatever, but it didn't help. I just cut Neil Cavuto after a descent comskip run on that, and it seems good for now. Off to another thing on the todo list.

12/18/09
Winter Vacation, Part Deux


Well, my todo list is formed. I gotta think it will continue to evolve, since I know there's some things I wanted on there but keep forgetting before they get added. Quite a few of the entries are things which consist of completing the rebuild of my prior desktop. That includes several development type things, such as apache webserver, php, ruby on rails, mysql, etc. Most of that is usually just downloading then working through the configuration again, since none of those things ever self configure to the point where you can use.

Another thing on my list was to rebuild my gbpvr environment. Since I've got my WinTv working better than ever, I figured that would hopefully be a slam dunk. Well, it wasn't. Big shock. The IRBlaster I figured wouldn't work right away; it never does. My schedulesdirect subscription had expired so I needed to renew that. The Card was recognized well enough. I could watch LiveTV through the PVR2 program, so that was encouraging. However, the IRBlaster didn't work a lick. Big surprise. What I didn't expect was for some reason the IRBlaster hardware couldn't be found. Then, the WinTV card itself couldn't be found. What a PITA. A cold boot, and at least WinTV was working again with the blaster. As I detailed before, I wrote a cmd file to hit up the haupblast.exe with two consective hits, to make sure it gets the channel changed. I had to restore all that from my gbm backup. Thankfully, I'd just reinstalled that yesterday, and yes, it was on my todo list. Well, the friggin Windows7 controls have just got the better of me. Everytime I tried to run my cmd file, it would bitch and ask me if I wanted it to fuck with the system. Stupid shit. Then, it wouldn't even let me append to my fucking log file. Gotta admit, I'd had enough with these stupid controls, and I disabled them all. Stupid shit. Yo mister softee - I got news for you. I'm a geek and I hate them. I dare say you're gonna piss off a bazillion nongeeks with this stupid shit. What idiot on your commercial was asking for that stupid feature anyway? So, reboot, access controls off, and I was back to being able to change channels again.

The WebAdmin wasn't working for me at all. Well, without the WebAdmin GBPVR is pretty useless. I changed ports, nothing was listening on the port, no event logs messages, no error message in the GBPVR logs. WTF!!!! So, off to GBPVR forums. Here, they've gone and added an enhanced WebAdmin, but you have to install it separately. Again. WTF!!!! Delete ALL this, but WAIT NOT THAT!!! WTF WTF WTF???!!! Well, after I followed the instructions at least the damn thing came up. I've scheduled a recording for tonights Seinfeld episode to see how it goes. After that, I should be ready to do, except for figuring out why the SchedulesDirect channels don't match up with my STB channels for Verizon. That's real friggin annoying.

12/17/09
What I did on Winter Vacation, 2009 edition


Actually, I'm just beginning. I've worked my a$$ off the past two months. Long nights, every weekend, holidays. I finally produced what I'd set out to create, and am as proud with what I developed as much as anything I've ever developed. It is all mine, 100%. I took a great risk, to the point of not knowing if I would get fired if it didn't work. I had no clear certainty that it would work. I had no certainty that I could learn enough in such a short amount of time and have enough time left over to still pull it together. A couple times I broke down in my office when it pushed me to the brink of surrender. I kept talking to myself, trying to reassure myself. Don't panic I kept repeating to myself, over and over, when deep down I was panioing like he$$. Each time I was able to gain my composure enough to keep pushing forward. Each time the mountain appeared too high, I was somehow able to get over it. I've learned alot, a sh1tload of stuff. For my now just shy of 46 year old brain, I'm, well satisfied. There will be no great pats on the back, no announcements of a great achievement that has taken place for all the world to see. But, I know differently. I know what I pulled off there's very few individuals of the hundreds of thousands who work at that huge behemoth of an institution could've pulled off. There are some. I actually don't know any. But, I'm sure they're out there, and I do know I'm one of them. The only reward that I've got for my efforts, besides continued employment, is a great deal of personal pride and satisfaction. It's a great feeling I've not had in my own work in quite some time.

I've been stretched to take any accrued vacation with this project looming over my head. I had 15 days for the year remaining. It seems my idiot manager never followed through on my requests (at least twice) since September to find out what the carry over policy was for the year. We were shafted since he didn't. So, he turned our unused vacation into "comp time". I also impressed on him I wanted some time off reward for the holidays and weekends I'd worked. He gave me a very weak allocation in my mind. Well, here I am using my comp days, vacation days, whatever you want to call them. One things for sure, I'll find a way to make up for the other time that I've spent in the new year. He F'd us over, and I won't stand for it. Perhaps he wants some payback for our rating him as the worst manager of all time. I don't care. I can't wait till next year, since I'm sure I left some room for a lower score. He had scheduled a so called holiday lunch. My colleagues were pretty sure it was going to be a weak effort, and we'd probably have to foot the bill. Even better - he cancelled it 15 minutes before it was supposed to begin. What a prick that guy is. He says he'll reschedule it for after the first of the year. We know he's FOS, as usual. When he took over the reins, we were going to have regular gettogethers. We know he was FOS. We've never had a one. I really can't stand the guy. Did I say I'm glad to finally get some time off? He's such a loser. He knows I'm lightyears ahead of his capabilities and he can't stand it. He$$ I'm ten time better a manager than he is.

Work cracks me up. I love the people I meet. I often ponder - these idiots have families and homes and they're the decision makers and problem solvers in that world. That makes me just laugh my a$$ off. These boobs with zero brain power, who can't solve the simplest of problems, are the kings of some castle somewhere. All I can say is thank god for the service sector of the economy. Can you imagine if Puff Daddy jumped in his car after changing his front brakes? We'd all be in trouble. There should be laws against people being able to do some things themselves. Hopefully these idiots have enough sense to know they really shouldn't play with matches.

Yesterday I had an awesome personal moment. I can't describe it in detail, but for me personally, it was the acoomplishment of a lifetime. It wasn't planned, it just happened. I couldn't have orchestrated it any better. All I can say is you had it coming buddy. Put it in your pipe and smoke it. It's kind of one of those moments I've had as my personal theme since I started work 22 years ago. If someone wrongs me, I always put it in my symbolic little filing cabinet. One thing I'm confident of is one day that person is probably going to need me. And when they do, I will have my glory. Most of the time, I get my glory. The great thing about individuals like me - we need noone. We're completely self sufficient. I need noone- but most people need someone like me. It's a wonderful position to be in in life. Well, to you person who found themselves possibly in that position of wanting someone like me, I love the glory, and you can just go back to you pathetic little existance. This is my time.

So, winter vacation. Mines just beginning. It's cleansing to take some time to myself and just reflect and build myself back up. I can tick that off my todo list. Today is actually the day of creating my todo list. Implementation will start today, but tomorrow will kick in in earnest. I've done a few things. I've got a boatload of things though. I'm taking my life back. I'll detail my winter vacation in the days ahead. One things for sure, it will include lots of drinking, and lots of poker. I may even check out that delaware poker room. Yeah, I will. I'm going to look it up right now.

I've been wondering. When Viagra goes generic, will the amount of spam email drop to nearly nothing?

Festivus was such a great concept from Seinfeld. A festivus for the rest of us. Well, if I'm not "the rest of us" I don't know who is. One things for sure, I'm so much more at peace with life and holidays since I don't have to be involved in the family BS. Some one like me can probably rarely be at true peace with themselves or anyone else, but I feel so much less personal stress since I'm uninvolved with the rest of the people who share a similar genetic makeup to me. I should send them a big Thank You for the shunning. It probably is the best thing that could've ever happened to me. Maybe they actually know that, and decided to give me the gift that keeps on giving year after year.

12/12/09 WTF - why are people so damn dumb? I don't think they're as dumb as they pretend to be. I think they pretend to be as dumb as they're hoping other people are. So, everyone pretends to be dumb hoping that noone is smart enough to hold their brain accountable for what should be normal everyday rational thinking. Somehow whatever my wife said to me tonight just ripped me to the core. My parents clearly hate me, in such a way as to clearly demonstrate whatever the word hate is meant to define. You could illustrate hate in picture form by just pasting a picture of my parents looking at me and that would be completely sufficient to define the word. Somehow, my wife acted tonight like this is act of hate should be subject to some level of interpretation. On what level, I just can't fathom. I think the only level is the check your brain at the door level, and just look at the circumstances in completely superficial terms, and don't apply any rational thought to it whatsoever. In other words, yes, a brain dead individual might see things differently, but anyone with any electrical current flowing through their frontal cortext knows there is no debate on the subject-no room for an alternate explanation. Why my wife thinks we can all be so detached from rational thinking to accept such fantasy is beyond me.

12/10/09 Fried in More Ways Than One - I've been working my a$$ off. Not in life, because I live hard pretty much everyday. But, work. I've put more hours in the past 2 months than I probably have for the past 5. I gotta think my average is over 60 hours for a good stretch, including most weekends, nights, and holidays. But, that's not the point of this blog. I'm fried at work.
The real point of this entry is my Dell is fried. At least the audio device, aka sound card to you imbeciles. I plugged my Garmin 305 into it, it blue screened of death yet again, but this time, it meant business. There's no sound from it period. I just verified however that my Linksys music bridge does still work. For a moment there, I thought that was out of commission as well, which would raise serious questions about an audio card issue. But, its working. Reminds me I don't think I blogged here about the 6-8 hours it took me to get that thing working on Windows7. Or did I, and I've been working so damn much I don't remember?
Anywho, JSF, JEE, I'm becoming an expert. This has got to be good for me.

11/29/09 Where there's Water there's H2O - just a few weeks back I noticed there seemed to be a spot on my family room ceiling. There were obviously some drywall screws there, so I had a feeling there could possibly be a leak. But, it was such a small spot. Then, this morning I glanced over while watching Blues Clues. Obviously, we had an issue. The paint still holding, but it was definitely bubbling at that spot in the ceiling. So, get my Walmart stepping stool, a drywall knife, do I really want to cut this?, and make a little poke. There was no resistance on the poke. Start to peel away the wet drywall, and before you know it, there was about 8-12 ihches diameter of exposed gypsum. Oh well, the answer isn't here, need to start working my way up. A second floor bathroom perhaps? Geez, I hope not - that could be a PITA. So, I peel back the floor around the boy's tub where it's peeling away, and encouragingly enough it all seemed dry. I pretty much ruled our bathroom out as well, due to an increased distance. Then, I remember Laura's room had a ceiling stain before. Check that - check. It's still there. How about the closet in the hallway which backs up to Luara's closet? Check - stain in there as well. This must be coming from the attic/roof. So, I've learned enough lessons over the years, and donned my breathing mask, gloves, and safety glasses to ward off the owens/corning, got the extension cord, and droplight, and began my ascent. It actually didn't take too long to guess that a PVC pipe running from the roof which had an extension feeding across the attic and down to the general area where the closets were was the likely culprit. Reached down to push away some Pink Panther, and sure enough the insulation was still very damp. So, I'd found the leak, which I'm content about. However, I have no intent on DIY'ing that. I've pretty much resolved years ago that I wasn't doing rooves any longer especially with this house. Time to call in a professional.

11/28/09 Back To Even - had pause to just ponder the other day thinking about my returns in my trading account. They're up decent year over year, about 25-30%. Since I started in sep-oct 2008 time frame, just at the point the stock market went into meltdown, well, I'd say I'm doing pretty okay. I could get caught with my pants down here, if there were to be a new wave of panic, but isn't that the way it always is. I suppose I should probably cash out something, just because I've got some decent gains. Overall, while I've lost a boatload, mostly in my current employer 401K plan, even that on balance is just above it's value before the meltdown. So, I'm guessing I'm nearly back to even in raw dollars, or maybe even a little above. However, given the cratering of the value of the greenback, my overall wealth is diminishing quite a bit. And, there's no getting back the paper loss of the value of my home from it's paper peak value for sure. I've had a feeling it would eventually work its way back to our original purchase price, and we're gradually getting there. There was a Dubai semi-crisis yesterday, and I was off work, trying to take it easy, and I didn't much even notice. I surely didn't try to trade around it, but it seemed to be at least an excuse for people to move the markets lower. The talking heads are out, the bears for sure, and hopefully the market is teasing people to jump out and then it will come roaring back. I mean, Dubai? That has to be a local story more than anything else if you ask me. What's the GDP of Dubai? I'd say the roaring amount of paper printing by the US government is just a tad bit more influential to the world economies than the nit that is Dubai. So, I'll stand by my bets that interest rates will skyrocket in the next few years, and that the devaluation of the USD will at the very least keep the value of multinational stocks moving higher to keep nominal pace. And, I've always said - never sell short the greed of the US consumer. People in this country are addicted to stuff - its their culture, their religion. If you think they'll get cured from that material possession addiction anytime soon, I think you're a fool. It defines people's existance, and that is one strong force that is not easily dislodged.

11/27/09 Shake It Up - interesting. Noticing I'm starting to shake. It's intermittent. It was the thumb on my right hand just sitting here. I was holding the mouse, with my thumb just dangling to the side. I'm reading, then notice my thumb it sitting there vibrating back and forth. Gives me something to google for.

11/27/09 Things you don't expect with Windoze7 - I was recently suprised to find that my wife's Canon digi camera I bought her years ago wasn't even supported on Vista, let alone Windows7. Thankfully, she was able to figure it out using a memory card based on what I told her from googling people who were as annoyed as me with Canon's lack of product support. Yesterday, I came across another similar situation with my Linksys Wireless G Music Bridge. I decided not to reinstall that on XP with my October attempt to rebuild that desktop (You know, it doesn't seem to lock up at all now that the kids use it in the basement, don't it just figure). Anywho, so yesterday I decided to use Turkey day to install the bridge on my new Xps730. I ran the install CD i still had (since I couldn't find any later postings on linksys site, which is never a good sign). After finished, running the utility said failure to run, couldn't find CMAUDIOW.DLL. That set off a whole host of searching on my old desktop for the DLL, and eventually I was convinced that Linksys, now Cisco, wasn't really supporting this product any longer. There was enough literature from people who'd come before me, first with Vista, then with W7, to want me to take a shot at it. Well, it took about 6 hours start to finish, and if I weren't a geek, I dare say I wouldn't have been able to pull it off. But, the information was all there in the forum, you just had to pick it apart, and bring it home. I was very relieved when Lonesome George finally blared throughout the living room, just after I was about to throw in the towel. What a friggin nightmare. Recommendation - if you're on W7 do not pick up an old WMB54G on ebay, etc, unless you've got masochistic tendencies.

11/07/09 WindozeSeven - Just installed my free Win7 upgrade on my filing cabinet that now runs Win7. The upgrade so far has been fairly painless. So far, because while its "done" one never knows if something is lurking in the shadows behind that nifty new radiating splash screen. All in all it looks like Windows to me so far-very little visual differences on the desktop presentation. Course, I haven't even played with the start menu yet; I'm just glad it came back up. My XPS730X has been very fine. To date, I've only seen one annoying characteristic, and it is bordering on the extreme. There is some soundFx built in, preinstalled, whatever, I think it is a creative thing. Anywho, intermittently it goes into some strange Fx mode for no apparent reason, and then all sounds are screwed up. Never sure who really uses those sound FX things anyway. I've been forced to I'd say once every couple days find the thing in the little icon drawer (never a small feat) pull it up, and tell it to revert to the default settings. It is quite annoying. I see that creative is updating several things for Win7, as I type, so hopefully this was a known issue that they've fixed. Otherwise, I can't imagine I'm far from hitting up this Dell online support system.


On an unrelated topic, well, tangentially related I guess, I've been busy as he$$ on a project at work. I may have mentioned it here - I don't recall. I'd been tasked wirh rewriting a ColdFusion application into a non-ColdFusion technology. The non-CF target platform was I'm going to say up to me to choose, though I'm sure my "architect", yes, someone else is an architect over me as hard as that is to believe lol, would've just taken the easy way out and rewrote it line for line replacing CF tags with JSP tags. That would've been a POS in the end. So, I've been hankering to explore one of the more recent JEE technologies, at least something thats been developed in the last 5 years. While I'm impressed with Google WebToolKit, I decided to not stray too far from the core JEE stuff, and at least take this chance to get knowledgable in some tangible part of that development platform. I chose JavaServer Faces. Wow, what a tough tough road it has been. I'd say I'm into it about a month hardcore, and am getting a certain level of comfort with it now. I've learned a mountain of sh1t-so my selfish motivations have largely been realized. However, the necessary part of the task-the completion of the reimplementation needs to be completed regardless of my personal ambitions. Since it took a couple weeks to get to a based comfort level with JSF and get some real architectural requirements nailed down, I was really treading on thin ice. More than once I almost broke down (a couple times to tears) and threw my hands up in the air and said...I can't do it. But, I always found a way to settle myself down, convince myself it was first possible to make this work, and then convince myself I was capable of figuring out how to make it work. Those are both two key things to hold onto. If you let go of either of those facets, you're doomed. The third pillar is the more critical-do I have the time to bring the other two facets together and finish the task. That was the thing that I struggled with more than the others. It pushed me to the brink again and again. Well, I had breakthrough after breakthrough, and each one gave me more confidence in the first two pillars. Again, it was the time that was killing me. So, I warned the misses about three weeks ago that I was up against it, and I had no choice but to take all the time of each day I could find over the course of the next N weeks to finish something at work. This past week that came to nearly 80 hours. The prior week I'm sure I was in the 90-100 hour range. The weeks leading up to that week were no slouch either. I'm now at the point where I need to bring it all home. I've got a few of the pages done, and am wrapping up laying the foundations for the most complex page of the application. I am anxious to get this over with, but I'm pretty certain I've got another two weeks of hard core hours to get to that point. On a brighter note, I feel I'm in an infinitely more positive personal position to get RIFFED at work with the addition of the foundations of this JEE skillset to my arsenal.


Annoying Windoze7 Behavior Number One - is this because of one of those idiots on TV that says they asked for it? So, IE8 was planted on my quicklaunch bar as expected. And, I delete that shortcut as soon as I see it, as expected. Am I sure? Of course I'm sure. Well, delete it did, but there it sits? So, I delete it again. And again. There it sits. Oh, great, another wonderful Mister Softee thing that they don't let you get rid of. Will they ever learn? So, I hit the icon. "This shortcut no longer works, should I remove it". What the F do you think you stupid OS??? I just told you to delete it more than once. Of course that means remove it! Well, that honeymoon period didn't last more than 20 minutes.

10/22/09 DVI - D or I? - this goes in the hey, stupid, serves you right category. Long story short, I have a new computer that supports DVI, I've got a monitor that supports DVI, and the laptop I think supports DVI. WRONG! Turns out there's two forms of DVI. One, DVI-D is all digital, the other DVI-I is integrated digital and analog on a single wire. I bought a DVI KVM for all my DVI hardware, and low and behold, the connectors on it are all DVI-I and the only DVI-I compatible device I've got is my new XPS730X. So, I'll have to RMA this thing, and looks like IOGEAR is about to release a new DVI-D USB KVM that is 4 feet long. Size does matter with KVM, so I'll wait for the release. Took about 2 hours to disconnect my existing setup, determine my new setup wasn't going to work, and to reconnect my old setup.
10/22/09 NameProtect - seems Ed Connell has gained some unexpected notariety, go ahead, check my spelling, I'm sure it's wrong. My musings page has been getting quite a few hits lately, and seeing as it is largely inaccessible as an advertised top level page these days, I find that mildly amusing. I'm guessing many of the hits are from this NameProtect org. I've no idea what they do, but it's something to do I bet, based on their webpage, "Brand Monitoring". LMAO. What you looking for people? I ain't stealing any brands. And, anyone can plainly see from my blog below that any issue I post about is a real world issue, substantiated by fact, usually about some shitty product I've had the misfortune to buy that didn't function as well as it should. Maybe you should tell your clients to focus on Brand Quality, rather than Brand Security or Brand Monitoring. What a Joke.
I finally reinstalled my Webcam last night. There's no feed at the moment, so all it is good for is for me to just sit here and admire myself all day long. Boy, since I last had this thing running, I've lost alot of weight, my God, my hair is a complete mess, and the beard sure isn't anything to look at either. Using the Webcam, I can get a better look at the top of the scalp, and I must admit, there isn't a whole lot left upstairs. Maybe this ponytail isn't such a good idea after all. May be time for another makeover.
10/18/09 Public DNS Servers - yet again, I've got a computer complaining about an IP address conflict. Figured I'd assign it a static IP address to get around it rather than waste 2nth hours of my life trying to figure out where the problem with the dynamic dishing out of IP addresses on my local network is. So, yet again, I need a public listing of the addresses I've been using and yet again, I didn't save them off anywhere. Since this is my place to save such things here they are:
  • 156.154.70.1
  • 4.2.2.1
  • 208.67.222.222


I'm pretty impressed with my little office desk here. I've got a million wires tucked behind this door that doesn't shut well because it leans, but oh well. Anywho, when I got my APC UPS for trying to diagnose my computer hang I decided to tuck all the wiring in one place. When you open this door, you would gasp as the amount of wiring jammed in there. The biggest problem is whenever I need to get in there to mess with some wiring, which I've been doing alot of lately. I have tried to mark them with masking tape so I can ID what goes to what, but it is incomplete. One case today was a unplugged USB cable running out of the back of the desk. I yanked on it, tried to follow it through the maze in the cabinet. Its very tight quarters and always is a concern for my back as I twist to fit in there. Me, an arm, a flashlight, it's just a big produuction. Well, I finally followed it back to my UPS. Of course. So, time to set that up on the new cabinet running Vista. Windows recognizes it apparently, but I still need to install the APC Business Chute software. That is also as confusing as I was soon to recollect. They send you this "basic" edition couched in some suggestion to upgrade to business pro, which is just completely unnecessary for Joe consumer. Anywho, just needed to get back to how it used to be, since I was pretty happy with that. Finally figured out the order to install. First, the server, then the console, then the agent. The server install gives you the option to send alerts. I had them setup to send an SMTP email though my edconnell.com domain and to broadcast an alert to the localhost. Well, SMTP was getting flagged by SPAM assassin and routed through the junk filters I've newly setup on my personal email account, since that has been receiving spam ever since my wife disclosed it to Countrywide. Sorry, it's just too coincidental. And, this after they assured me it would never leave their house. I really feel like suing them. Come to find, I can at least configure spamassassin to whitelist my own email address, and that works fine. Other issue is the broadcast to pc doesn't work on Vista. Now I'm learning why I don't like Vista. It uses the old Windows Messenger service which apparently no longer is available on Vista. Thanks Mister Softy. You could at least give me the option to keep it, Dumba$$e$!
10/17/09 WinTV, a new L@@K - after many months, I finally got to the point of reinstalling my WinTV card. I never had a need to restore it into my DIY computer build system, because I was never able to fully get it to stop hanging. After reinstalling the OS, replacing the video card, and disconnecting the external USB drive, it still was hanging periodically. It's hard to catagorize randomness, but it did seem to hang less in the end. But, clearly the WinTv card wasn't the only source of hanging, if it was ever one. So, armed with my new Dell XPS730X, and letting it run for a week without hanging, I was ready to try to add back my WinTV card. A WinTv card used for recording isn't much good if the computer system it is installed into hangs halfway into a recording.

So, first thing, get it onto the mobo. How hard could it be? Pretty damn, that's how hard. Getting the case open is no small feat, since they clearly want to discourage you from doing it. Once you figure out the little trick, it's no big deal. No screws involved. It's best to lay the monster unit on its side. There's a lock tab on the back of the case, that' actually fairly obvious. With that lock facing up (because it's attached to the panel you want to remove), PULL BACK on the tab. PULL BACK, not UP. It actually pulls back fairly easily, and well, I was trying to pull it up, and am glad I didn't break the dang thing off. With it back, the side panel can be lifted up, and off. I was shocked there's only one free PCI slot on the board. The unit has very nice lighting internal while you're working on it. Very slick since the unit was unplugged. So, added the board.

Now, which software for the card? I'd kept some fairly decent notes about the last time I went through this, since it was a struggle. Before hand, though, I checked the hauppauge website, and there was a fairly recent update for WinTv card, and the application itself. I was a little hesitant, since the last V6 software update I downloaded was unusable. But, this was version 7 with new drivers, so I figured it was worth a shot.

Powered up with the card in, and Windows immediately wants to find device drivers. I said let's go for it, and it didn't give me an option from where to specify. It actually did find one and installed it. I checked device manager against the .inf file which came from the website, and the one I'd downloaded was a bit higher rev, so I ran the update for those drivers. Of course, Vista said it wasn't digitally verified or something, but WTF.

Next Up: install the WinTv v7 application. Straightaway, it was obvious the configuration was a bit more polished. Since I'd been through this a million times with the old program, I nearly remembered which settings I'd wanted. Of course, I didn't get them all right. First problem was I can never remember which input on the card is for the coax input from the STBox, and of course, I never wrote it down here, which is the whole purpose of this blog. Answer is it is the longer of the two inputs. So, went through the configuration once, hoping for the best, and it says "No Signal". Great sandwich. Flip the coax onto the right input jack. Now, there was no obvious way on how to go through the WinTV configuration once again, but here's how it goes:


WinTV Settings-<Devices-<Tuner Setup


This page always seems to be the most intimidating. I know from WinTv6 that I could never get it quite right on the first go. I think everyone is accustomed to "Tuner Channel" always seems to be "3", so that's what I chose. Shame there's no S-Video available out of my DCT700. And, I surely intend to use an IR Blaster to control the STBox, though that never goes easy either. Internet lookup for channels is new, so I pick that. The next 3 screens show that WinTv actually has a hook into Verion FIOS channel listings for my area, so that's a big step forward from V6.



I didn't want to pick and choose, so I grab all channels. I think what I did was correct here, since the results were as I intended. I went to the bottom of the listing, did the ctrl-shift whatever sequence to get all the entries selected, then hit the add button. A little checkbox confirmation would've been a nice addition here for WinTv. How hard could it be folks? Oh well, I give it an A-. Update: On second thought, I I give this an F. After running through this configuration more than once, because noone could possibly ever be lucky enough to get it right the first time, I had double postings of channels in the channel database. I could find no way to remove them. There is some listed "advanced" program to flush/remove the channel database, and I ran that, and it seemed to do F-All. So, I finally was able to locate what I thought was the file based database, and tried to remove it from WinTv view in the hopes that it would allow me to rebuild it, and the program ceased working altogether. There is a "repair" option when you try to uninstall, since you want to reinstall, and I tried that. That did F-All as well. So, I've since removed the whole program, reinstalled it from scratch, and am now in the process of reconfiguring it once again. What I've discovered is you NEED NOT ADD any channels here, since the channels it finds from the remote source it autoadds to the database. That makes sense, so why do they allow you to add them more than once? This is just so screwed up, but now that I'm past it, I'm feeling better. Still, this configuration is better than WinTv6, but it still gets a failing grade!



Restart WinTv, and I was able to see a picture. This was a positive step. Now, off to the IR Blaster. I remember that the IR Blaster was also one of the most difficult installation steps from prior experience. Here's a BIG TIP: THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF THE IRBLASTER PROGRAM MUST BE DOWNLOADED SEPERATELY FROM THE OTHER WINTV SOFTWARE PACKAGE! This is not obvious, and in a nutshell, very dang stupid. There's other supporting software, like the configuration tool, a start and stop program, everything. However, the required program, which I'm assuming actually generates the IR signals, is not preinstalled. How STUPID! Even stupider, there is no handshake between the IRBlaster config and the IR signal generation, so it allows you to try to configure the IRBlaster when whatever it needs isn't available. I discovered all of this only after remembering that I forgot to plug the IR Blaster cable into the card. So, after plugging in the cord (the end of the blaster cord was thankfully still firmly in place with the scotch tape on the front of the STBox. So, install the IR Blaster, run the Blaster Config, and with the correct settings, well, it all SEEMS so simple
Okay, what I've found through my reinstall is my rant was actually wrong. All the supporting IR Blaster software is installed with the base program. What you need to do is after running through blaster config (which doesn't have a save option, you just X the thing out) it seems you need to Restart the IR Blaster. I'm not convinced on this all, but that was all that was necessary this go round. I still give this configuration process an F

10/14/09 Okay, so what's wrong with Vista - I got my new filing cabinet that also runs Window's Vista. Actually, its quite a monster from Dell, the XPS730X. It came preinstalled with Vista, with a free upgrade to Windows7. I've been using it for just about a day now, and well, it's really not that bad I suppose. Some annoying quirks, but what OS doesn't? Can't say I love it, but I suppose even some of my own rantings about how I hated it were a bit overthetop and uninformed. I mostly hated the user control, but that has been turned off and hasn't bugged me again mostly. The rest of it seems to be just another GUI OS. What's the big deal? Kind of gets me worried when Win7 seems to be getting rave reviews.
There it is again - when Laura was recently in the hospital, I was passing some time watching Fight Club on my iTouch. It's one of my current favorite movies, and actually is the only video I have on the iTouch. While watching, I noticed a flicker. Odd, I thought, must be a defect in the, hey, wait! This is the digital age. There shouldn't be any dang defects! Then, I remembered Tyler Dirdon (Brad Pitt) had a job playing films in a movie theatre and played practical jokes by splicing dirty pictures into the reels. Could it be? Sure enough, I was able to start/stop the play just at the right split second (it ain't easy) and there was a picture of Brad Pitt superimposed on the movie. It was part of the film where Ed Norton was fighting his battle with insomnia with his doctor. Perfect place for it. I decided to give the film a quick run through on my new computer just to see how the video behaved. Sure enough right near the beginning of the film at 4:05, there's another flicker, and another Brad Pitt spliced in the picture. Very funny! Based on the lighting of the picures here as it works off his left side of the jacket and the side of his face, it's pretty obvious the picture has been digitally imposed onto the scene. Brad looks a little tired, don't he?


09/26/09 My babydoll has been in the hospital since Monday night. Actually, both my babydoll's have been. I've been going a little nuts, for sure. Diane must really be going nuts. This was just one of them weeks where you think someone is just trying to kick the royal sh1t out of you, and you just want them to stop. It really seemed like it just wouldn't end, and it started to get the best of me. Add to that the usual stupidity from the usual source, and I just had about as much as I could possibly bear.

Today, it just seemed right to try and wrap up my Quicken guide, or at least get the lion's share done. For starters, d is still in the hospital with beasley. But, probably the biggest reason being my back has been really having a bad week since, well, since Laura went in the hospital I suppose. I'm not sure what actually set it off, but quite possibly is was moving the large rocks around. It was bad enough, showing a definite tilt that I have been keeping mostly under control. But, I recall I had someone of an outage on Labor Day, because I was complaining about that too. Two times in a month, and that's not good. So, I need some downtime, try to get myself fixed and tightened up time, and hence, seemed like a good time to work on the QuickGuide. Got most of the peripheral stuff done, and now I can dig in and finish the brokerage transaction part, which really was the reasoning behind the whole thing.

I really am quite the poker addict now. I play more than I should. I'm on a roll currently, but as always, that can change on a dime. I never am able to keep the rolls going. I'm back down to a $20 level, and that's after basically blowing a $40 injection. Oh well, being on a roll, I'm off a low of $11 this round. The past couple times out I got into two races with AK. Actually both the races were against an AT. Thankfully I won both races and doubled up good. I really have to make a better effort to get paid off on my decent hands instead of playing it so safe. I let someone off pretty easily with my tripJs again last night. He had Ts. I knew I could've got a call on the river with a raise, but was just worried he was sitting on AJ or a boat. Again, just too conservative.
09/09/09 CSV to QIF Converter for ETrade - I finally got the CLI version to work with my full account history. One last hitch was in the format of the XIn transfer records. For some reason, quicken decides they have to be strictly in money format for an amount record. It is pretty much dissimilar to any other record type I'd implemented. Going to post a web-based interface for quicken online, and I'll probably just have a make a donation button to my Paypal account button.


09/08/09 Multi-line String Assignments - another thing I should've wrote down long ago.

In PHP, its done as thus:

    $str =<<<EOS
    this
    is a
    multiline string
    EOS;
    



In Perl, its done thus:

    $str = <<EOS;
    this
    is a
    multiline string
    EOS
    



09/06/09
Product Review - Firefox 3.5.2 (2 star)


It seems a little sacreligious to me to write about what has been my default browser for several years now. Firefox has been a dependable, feature reach vital part of my computer experience for a long time. I'm disappointed to say my experience with the latest version since my reinstall has been less than good. It obviously is having issues. The worst issue by far is what appears to be a memory leak which results in FF consuming 1GB of active process memory just left pretty much in an idle state. Now, I'm not saying it may not be caused by some of the URLs in my browser sessions using javascript to implement their website, but that's really not my problem. What is my problem is FF is the one exhibiting the issue of using all my available memory. There've been a couple other quirks along the way with this new version, but the end result to me is the same. I've slowly begun the transition to making either Chrome or Opera my default browser now. Once someone has replaced their default browser, they rarely go back I would assume. Take note Firefox Community.

Product Review - Google Chrome(1 star)


subtitled "The Devil I Know". After giving Chrome 45 minutes to an hour of attention, it's back to FF. I had the stable release, wanted to add a theme, which apparently requires I go to a version 3 beta, I then wanted to find a session manager addon, which required adding an "--enable-extensions" option to my Chrome startup, and well, after getting it somewhat working, it just doesn't work for me. The session/restore addon doesn't work, plain and simple. I can import my bookmarks and saved tabs from FF, and while that works, I'm not at all happy with the interface to try and figure out how to save tabbed bookmark folders. This Chrome just isn't ready for primetime. I do keep it as a backup though for when FF has a quirk that I need to workaround.

09/05/09 I Surrender - the desktop has beat me into submission. I was certain I'd nailed it down to the external USB Seagate, which coincidentally or not had exhibitted paging events in the system log prior to at least one of my recent hangs. After unplugging it, the system remained freeze free for the better part of 3-4 days. Then, yesterday, after cancelling my GeekSquad appointment, it froze up again about 45 minutes later. I've had it. I was considering scrapping it and selling it off for parts to offset the cost of a new computer, but I might as just well assemble it back together, and put it downstairs for the kids. That's the current plan, and I began shopping for a replacement.

First stop was Tigerdirect, HP, Dell, and BestBuy websites. I looked at TD's kits, which I admit appealed to me for about a minute. Then I just fell back on I can't be bothered with this assembling shit anymore only to be left with diagnosing possible hardware issues myself with what is sure to be a weak service contract. I never thought the service contracts should be necessary, but after this 8 year stint with grief from desktop one and its reincarnated self, I've had it. I'm going with an outfit with a decent service plan.

So, I tossed the idea of TigerDirect. A quick gander at HPs website, I got mildly interested in their "All-In-One" line. These come with the touchscreen casing. The more I thought about it, the touch casing most certainly would limit my upgradability. How to be sure? Well, I noticed BestBuy was selling some of this line, so I went to a store last night to take a test drive. Two Thumbs Down on their service. Its back to school time, and they were horribly understaffed. A guy finally asked me if I needed help after what had to be more than 30minutes. I was surely in no mood to buy anything at that point. But, as I suspected, the Touch platform was too limiting, and I pretty much decided that feature just wasn't for me anyway.

So, today I began casing their desktop solutions. HP had a nice set with good customer reviews, the HP Pavilion Elite e9180t series. It surely was at the top of my consideration list. Why didn't I go for it? Hmmmm, good question, I'm not sure. :0)

Actually, that's not exactly true. I remember now. I was drawn in to the Dell XPS 730X Gaming Desktop lineup. It was considerably pricier, but what was the kicker to make me ignore that, and lean towards Dell? I'll tell you? It comes back to expandability and maintainablity. There's nothing I hate more than having some mini tower crammed with components that are completely impossible to reach. There were numerous reviews with this lineup which said basically the same thing:

It's HUGE!


Now, I'm usually not one to care about size - but in this instance it matters to me. Along with size, reviews just generally complemented the build of the computer. It sold me. So, I ordered it, using my company 7% discount, and oh my god, it took $3K out of my hide to finally get this albatross of a desktop off my back. Its time, and I'm sure I'll find it worth every penny. The kids will probably appreciate the upgrade as well, though I'm keeping the TV tuner for myself, since I opted out of that upgrade.

08/30/09
Product Review - Quicken 2009 Premier, a 2nd L@@K (0 star)


This program gets more idiotic the more and more I use it and try to work around its idiotic deficiencies. How the hell can it make migrating data from an old Quicken progrem to a new one so incredibly difficult? What a stupid stupid piece of trash this is. Just idiotic to the extreme. If I was on the development team, I would've pushed to have whoever made these decisions fired fired fired, because they are about as stupid as they come, and do nothing but to alienate what may have been an otherwise loyal customer.

08/30/09 Anxious to declare victory - it's been who knows how long, I can't remember, 3 years since I rebuilt this desktop. It's been as long that it has continued to have this intermittent freezing condition, which was the reason I rebuilt it in the first place. Naturally, I'd assumed somehow the freezing was related to the original machine, though it was completely rebuilt, save for the primary HD. Well, after taking a shot, and developing the best plan I could to narrow down the root cause, I'm nearly ready to proclaim victory. After reinstalling XP and disconnecting the original primary HD, I was pretty certain that I'd proven the current freeze condition was unrelated to the original platform. So, my best guess going into this exercise was if a complete reinstall didn't fix it, that the video card was suspect. It took a leap of faith, and more than that a leap of call it $200 to narrow it down further, but I think I nailed it. After adding the new video card, the desktop sure seems to run a heck of alot quieter, and hasn't froze in 2 days now. That's a pretty good streak based on past experience. I'm not fully confident yet, because this think has broke my heart more than once, but I'm feeling pretty good at the moment. I'm even thinking I'll do some upgrades now, once I get the system fully restored. I've still to add back my 6 port USB card and my WinTV card. One of the positive aspects here, is I'll be much more willing to use the WinTV card, now that I can be much more certain the desktop won't freeze during the recording. I've had more than one disappointment with TV recordings that were scheduled but didn't happen.

08/28/09
Product Review - Quicken 2009 Premier (1 star)


Okay, here's the thing. I have used Quicken 2003 for well, 6 years now. Figured maybe upgrading I'd get 6 years worth of improvements, hopefully something to make my life easier with respect to online trading, which is a royal PITA when it comes to tax time. Well, after fooling with this for upwards of 5 hours now, I got to give it thumbs down. The integration with E*Trade is spotty at best. I'd first just imported my old quicken file, and asked to connect to E*Trade to download the investment transactions. I didn't like what I saw, then decided better of it. I started fresh. Tried to download into a new investment account. I got 3 months of data. Now, anyone who knows anything about investing would realize if I'd held any existing transaction longer than 3 month, I'd be screwed to try and track any future activity on it. So, I ditched the whole thing, and started with a fresh quicken file. No better. Okay, I uninstalled, reinstalled. No better. Okay, how about checking and savings? Well, even worse. Checking downloaded 0 transactions, reporting some cryptic error, and savings only got 16. Through a few more fits and starts, I finally tried to download historical checking transactions from the etrade website, using their download quicken button, and it actually imported them into the quicken program. But, you can only do 3 months at a time, so I needed to repeat that process oh, say about 10 times for 2 different accounts. Investment account? Again, forget about it. Anything prior to 3 months ago isn't available. Since this was pretty much the whole reason I went for the upgrade, well, I'd say I'm less than pleased with this product. I don't see how it's any better than how I used to do it which was just a fully manual effort into Quicken 2003.
08/28/09 cygwin $'\r': command not found - this strange error I've seen at work, and now on the reinstall of my cygwin at home. I get it trying to execute any of my home brewed shell scripts, or when trying to type a script from the command line. Turns out, this disappears when you reinstall and use the "auto translate unix to dos carriage return line feed option". Googling for the condition seems to suggest you can set an environment variable CYGWIN=nobinmode, or by mounting your drives in "textmode", but neither one of those solutions actually worked for me. I just reinstalled and checked that option and all is well again. Incidentally, the hard disks are mounted in "textmode" post reinstall, so seems there's something to the suggestion. The author suggested trying to remount didn't seem to work for him, either.

08/27/09 New View - the video card came today. Quick shipping. Always have good experiences with Tiger Direct. The card is an EVGA GTX260 PCI-E 2.0 Card. The thing is a MONSTER! Thankfully, I'd read the fine print which said it required 2 card expansion slots width wise, so I was prepped for that. That forced me to adjust my quantity to 1 card rather than 2 to try the SLI chaining, because the MoBo just doesn't grant me enough slots for two of these cards without giving up the functionality of one of my other cards. Well, here the dang thing is almost as Long as my MoBo itself. When I tried to add it, the end of the card was bumping up against my seagate internal HD. Thankfully, I had HD bays available and could without too much trouble shift the two I have down. Then, the mammoth card went in without too much effort. I'd been a good installer and had already uninstalled the drivers from the Radeon X1300 card. The installation for this was simple enough, and away we go. It powered up nicely, we adjusted the display properties, and it looks the same as it ever did. Now we wait. Will this fix my freezing problem, or is this desktop just destined to break my heart forever? I've got 30 day return policy to find out.


Bonus discovery - I've always been annoyed and somewhat curious why the two USB ports on the front of this case never seemed to work right. As I recall, they always complained that they weren't running at a USB2.0 capable rate, to install drivers, whatever. Then, everytime I tried to install the USB support drivers from the ASUS install cd, it said there was no need - Windows XP does all that for me. Well, while I was fooling around with this card, I happened to need to unplug and rearrange the USB leads to the mobo in addition to a couple other things. Just for giggles, I reattached the lead to the alternate USB plug on the mobo. That seems to do the trick. Something about the difference between the USB56 and the USB78 markings on the jumpers? Who would've known? I guess people that know what this dung means on a mobo. Googling suggests that's not it. Go figure.

08/25/09 Again and again - it hung twice and had a bizarre spontaneous reboot which XP was nice enough to tell me may have been hardware related, but it had no idea what. I decided to move forward with the video card suspicion, and bought one from Tigerdirect. Seems to be a monster, takes up two slots, but appears to be highly rated for the cost. I recall the current card was as well :( Anywho, it should be here tomorrow. The 30 day return policy will be exercised if it continues to hang, then I've no idea what I'll do...

08/23/09 Its Started - dang computer hung while I was at the mall, so I decided why wait till next weekend, and went for it. Started about 630. It's 10pm, and I'm just now starting the endless series of Windows updates. Naturally, Windows Activation was a PITA as usual. I had the activation key hot off the prior install, so I foolishly thought it wouldn't give me any trouble. I typed the key in, and the stupid dialog box says, there's a problem, and gives two options. Call via phone, which I wasted time doing, or Retry. After bailing on the phone and telling the automated system to "F*** OFF!", I went back to trying to activate it with another key I had. Well, getting the activation process to rerun isn't easy. You get one prompt after boot, hopefully, so I had to reboot. It finally gave me a prompt. Long story short, my issue was once again with Microsoft's suck ass interfaces. The key was right, I was just suppose to ignore the wording that says I was F'd and hit the retry button. Once I did that all things were fine. Now, windows update is installing SP3, which should probably take all night. I've got putty downloaded, got the Marvell Yukon network drivers install, and have the video drivers installed. The control center doesn't run because I don't have the Microsoft .NET 2 frameworks yet. You'd think the stupid thing would've installed that prerequisite on its own? Hopefully this SP3 will do it.

08/23/09 Assigning a Cost to Laziness - today is "Pay the Avon Grove school tax bill for the 2009-2010 school year" Day. At $4420 it's my largest single bill next to the combined homeowners/car insurance bill. (Single bill, not annual monthly bill, as mortgage and child support still exceed those two. Damn, my child support is more than my mortgage. Something is wrong with that picture.) And, when I've got kids that dick around in school and don't take advantage of the privilege I provide for them, it really is one day of the year when I tend to get a little pissed off. This year, I took it down to the student, showed him, had him read me the amount, then blasted him on he better not F-Off this year. Fat chance of that happening. Then, as I was eating my lunch, I decided to do one better. Yo - how about this dude. If you don't do your damn homework this year and decide to F-Off like you did last year, I'm going to charge you $2200 for your share of the tax bill. I'll do it, too and he knows it. I imagine I'll be making good on that offer if last year was any indication. In these types of cases, it seems that past performance is a spot on indicator of future returns.

08/23/09 B-AARF on the AARP - turns out that social security folks aren't getting a COLA next year since inflation has been negative this year. They're going to be Pissed???!!! Well, I got news for you old geezers - get the hell used to it. I haven't got a COLA increase at work to speak of in 6 F-IN years. Just because you're old doesn't mean you get to be immune to the hard facts of friggin life. Times are tough, and you should realize that and quit being so damn self absorbed. Think about your friggin kids and grandkids before your own damn selves for once. Like, who is paying for your right to sit on your ass? We all know some of you geezers don't need the friggin money, but collect it anyway.
08/23/09 Well, the desktop hasn't actually hung since I installed the latest video drivers for this Radeon X1300 series. I'm going to continue on with the reinstall exercise however. It's about time after 3 years of the desktop, and who knows how long for the hard drive. Actually, I recall I probably reinstalled the XP? I don't know, I installed something. Can't recall exactly. But, I do recall the pain of the activation code from some prior runthrough.

I've discovered a couple extremely annoying things from this go round today. First, the Opera browser has some sort of issue logging into my remote router administration. I hadn't written down the credentials, but was pretty sure they were based on my usual crap. No luck. Finally, I tried using IE, and was in first time. Damn.

Next annoying behavior is that thunderbird seems to be a real PITA with respect to embedded images in an email. I found the "documents" I'd created for rebuilding my WinTV and GBPVR configuration. It was nice, with embedded images made from a series of alt-prtscrn captures. Well, the default saving feature of "html" files didn't work when it came to saving the embedded images. Also, I can't copy/paste the email with images included into either Google docs, or Microsoft word. Talk about a royal PITA. Finally, I found that I could save them as mail files, "*.eml" files, and that saves the inlined images for later retrieval. Means I'll have to have an eml reader early on in the rebuilding process, since I've already saved off a few of these files already. Wonder if there's an online based eml reader? Let me look... No, I can't find any nice online eml reader. Outlook Express does have support for viewing an eml file, but the interface is typical Microsoft sucks.

Anywho, I'm just about ready to rock. I've pretty much identified all the wiring which needs to be accomodated for, have my hard drive strategy ready, have my backups of my backups, have my registration info for programs which require it; I really can't think of anything holding me back at this point. I'm imagining this should take a day. Maybe I'll hold off till next Saturday, then go for it. Course, that makes the backup copies I just performed a moot point. Also, I've discovered again that it is pretty much impossible to make a copy of "My Documents". Windows has files opened for exclusive read, and that interrupts any mass backup attempt. Actually, I just found a Windows tool "Accessories->System Tools->Files and Settings Transfer Wizard" which in advanced mode allows me to pick and choose what locally tailored stuff I want to save off from the old computer to a neutral location for import in the future to the new device. Hopefully this works. Either or, I now have plenty of backups from which to work, provided my external USB drive is trustworthy. Probably will check into making a remote copy of some of this stuff as well. That should take enough time into next Saturday. Wow, next Saturday isn't even Labor day weekend yet!

08/22/09 Desktop hanging is worse than ever, as I can recall. It is about probably as bad as when I decided to gut the last system. I'm making decent progress on preparing for the reinstall. I'm 90% sure I'm just going to replace the video card, but I still think I'd like to put this one back in, just to prove once and for all what the issue is. I've started to collect the drivers I'll need for reinstall. Also, I've created the ultimate boot and windows boot cds. I'm following this nice guide for reinstalling XP. Anywho, I should be about ready to dive in within the next week. Perhaps the worst part of the process is going to be diassembling all the cabling I've nicely arranged around the office desk. Perhaps I'll try to leave that all intact, and just work with cabling external to it all; plug and play so to speak.

08/15/09 So, after flashing the BIOS, the computer actually didn't hang for an entire 24 hour period. Had my hopes up, but I'm too realistic to think that was going to solve the problem. Sure enough, this morning it hung in typical fashion, a burst of sound through the speakers, then freezo. So, proceeding to the hard drive replacement.

My first step to replacing the HD is to proactively locate any microsofty access keys I'll need for reinstalling XP definitely. Office, I'm much less concerned about these days, since I'm trying to migrate completely to Google docs. (Hey, Google, there's a free plug - how about raising my search result ranking!) Anywho, I found a nice freeware utility called Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder, which quickly returns all stored microsofty access keys. I've saved them off to the external USB drive, and am not prepared to proceed to the next step. I had to wonder, is the activation key the same as the CD key, and that answer appears to be "Yes". Next step - take inventory of the device drivers I'll be needing for the reinstall. That should take a couple days.


08/13/09 My desktop has had this intermittent hanging issue while running in XP ever since I rebuilt it, wow, must be 2-3 years ago. Don't have a time of reference. Funny thing is, I rebuilt it for exactly this hanging problem. I'm pretty certain it is the original problem, so I rebuilt a system and got nowhere. It's getting to the point of being aggravating now. I'm going to reimage onto a different HD besides the primary one, which is pretty much the only device I've kept from the original system, and hope that makes the hanging condition go away.

I'm going to do this methodically, scientifically, sensibly. I've started to document my thoughts, and the process I will follow. First action item up was to update the BIOS. I've not updated the BIOS, well, ever. Sounds like a good idea, but thinking now, why would that solve the problem if it truely is a holdover from the original system, when the original MOBO was replaced. No matter, I want to update it anyway.

So, I made my way to the update CD. It can't determine that I'm running an ASUS MOBO. What??? Oh, this is friggin great. So, I made my way to an ASUS hosted update site. There were several updates for my MOBO there, so I downloaded all that looked interesting, one of which was the update utility itself. That helped absolutely zero. The update tool still doesn't recognize my MOBO. There's some issue with BIOSUPDATE.DLL or something. No matter, I'll try to find an alternate way to update the BIOS through DOS.

But, what version of BIOS am I currently running? Hmmm, okay, I'll need to reboot to find out. Boot up, it jumps straight to a flash page, and I can't see. Okay, I'll have to interrupt the boot with the <DEL> key I suppose. Just great. With this USB keyboard running through the KVM, I can't get the DEL key through to the boot sequence I suppose because it can't see the USB devices yet. Great. Now, I've got to hope I saved a PS/2 keyboard to use for this purpose. Computer hardware problems - boy I hate dealing with them.


Okay, that was easy. Well, easy but time consuming. Had to take a ride back in time to bootable floppy DOS diskettes. I actually found 3 disks which seemed to be functional enough. One I had to make bootable. The other two I copied the afudos.exe utility from the ASUS support CD to two different floppies. Onto the first, post boot off floppy, I saved the original bios. Onto the 2nd, I'd also copied the 0308 version of the bios I found off the ASUS support site and then used afudos to flash update the bios. After rebooting, things came up and all is well.

Most of the other updates I found on the ASUS support site seemed useless. I did find this "PC Probe" program which monitors temperature of the CPU and MOBO, and seems to generate an alert if it gets over a threshold. Don't think this will come to much use, but I have it running nonetheless.

Next task is to try and figure out how much grief Windows XP is going to cause me when I migrate from one hard disk to the other. That's on the docket for tomorrow.


08/10/09 Wow, is it Aug 10 already. Time flies. Summer is always interesting. I'm fed up with having kids with little to do around. School can't start soon enough. My summer outdoor project is coming along, but it sure is a helluva lot of work. Most recently I trenched out a drain from what I sure as heck hope is the low point of the path to drain any excess water which may find its way underneath, and thus prevent mother nature heaving it all over the place. I'm giving up on the idea of edging it with timber. I tried to kerf a piece of 1X6 the other day with a circular saw and a quick thrown together apparatus to fence the cuts halfway evenly. First of all, it was dang hard, and my arm got extremely tired. Second, while the board did flex some, on its test drive, it snapped in two. This is for the birds, I've decided. I'll probably just try to use some composite based edging. I've pretty much decided to go the dry mortar route as well, rather than filling the stone gaps with gravel. Small stones are just such a PITA getting out all over, and they're really just annoying to walk on as well. Dry mortaring the joints sounds fairly simple. I had to cleanup the worksite, so I started to stack all the turf cutouts. I've got quite a huge stacked pile of dirt building. Kind of looks like how the egyptians did the pyramids. Fascinating. Oh, yea. I went to check out the western sunset rocks again yesterday. Mr Mulch in West Chester has all the remnants from Avondale. They just don't have enough, and I sure as hell don't want to struggle trying to make do. I've struggled enough with other stuff already. So, I'm leaning towards a Laurel Mt. stone. They had plenty of it, it looks nice, and I'm pretty sure I've seen it at other places as well. Worst thing about that is it doesn't match the flower beds I built last year. Oh well, we'll see how this evolves. Got to take some more pictures, since this is pretty neat stuff. I'm sure the whole process is pissing off the neighbors to no end. In fact, I sure as hell hope so...

08/03/09 One up on the kooks - so, as promised, my metal detector arrived today. Had to run to CVS to get a couple 9V batteries, took the family to DQ for a treat, then it was out to the back yard to detect some metal. I ran a test on the cool neighbor's corner first. Didn't want to risk embarrassing myself if the dang thing didn't detect stuff. Then, it was over to the other side. I had two readings around where I thought the markers were. I yanked some grass out to mark where I needed to dig, then off to get my shovel. I dug first on the corner which wasn't in dispute. Damn - up came of those stupid landscaping spikes which holds that grass seeding mesh in place. Uh oh, this could be trouble I thought. So, a little less confidently I went to the disputed corner. In went the shovel, and it didn't budge. From the other side, didn't budge again. I think I've got it. BINGO. And, it was far enough away from the tree sufficient to really make me pleased at myself. I thought I was smart enough to not get it right on the property line, just in case I had some loser move next door, never once expecting that would ever happen. But, here I've got a loser, and now she needs to keep her damn issues off my yard. I got myself a nice thick juicy piece of pressure treated wood, grabbed my sledgehammer, and planted that baby right where she could see it. Now, I'm sure she was watching the whole event from her witches perch, but nonetheless. I'm vindicated in a big way, and that idiot better keep her ass off my property; she's messed with the wrong crazy fucking irishman.

07/29/09 I live next to Kooks - my neighbor didn't like my answer that I didn't want to trim my tree on my property, regardless if his wife insisted on driving her lawn mower on my yard. Easy solution was for her to quit cutting my grass. Well, I knew she wouldn't like that answer and I knew he couldn't keep his bitch on a leash. The childishness that they hadn't shown themselves in the yard much over the past few weeks was evidence she was pissed. Today I get home, and here the wife had watched her finish up cutting my tree while I was at work today. I was pissed. My tree, my property. She wouldn't answer the door, and she wouldn't get on the phone. Yea, real mature lady. Now we all know why your daughter is a friggin kook, as I had begun to think anyway. Secrets out. Well, you won't be cutting my tree again if I can help it. I can take matters into my own hands as well.

07/26/09 A Cleanup Day - My running log has just taken over. I need to break it out into its own page. I could whip up a rails app in not too much time to manage it, but why bother? Is the laziness of my age showing through?

My GPM backups have seemed to be taking forever, and getting bigger. Decided to take some time to optimize it. It looks to me like some of my ignore folder settings had been lost, which explains some of it. I fixed that. Along the way, I wanted to ignore Firefox cache, and that took a while to find the location of. It's located in
"%HOMEPATH%"\"Local Settings"\"Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles

Google has bumped me from the primary return page for an "Ed Connell" search. I'm 40 pages deep now. Why the change? I'm still high on the return for Bing (new), Ask, Yahoo, but hardly anyone uses them. I've never been able to get into any return from cuil.com, but who the hell cares about that loser site? I get very few hits from google search any longer, and that explains why. Did get a hit from a collegue a few weeks back, using the cached google view to bypass my bac filter, so someone there is still determined to look me up every once in a while. It's such a rarity, who the heck would care?

07/04/09 They Got Me Again - Thieves:3. Ed:0. I need a better system. This means war.

06/15/09 Off to a Rocky Start - pun intended. Actually, haven't found any rocks to use for the stepping stones yet. Started yesterday to cut the path out. Was going quite well. 6" down with my spade, and was just cutting up the yard and pulling it out like a wedding cake. Honey, Did you cut the phoneline?. Huh? Oh, dung.

06/13/09 This Years Outdoor project - I've actually already done several things I've wanted or needed to do. Redid the narrow stretch of ground between the sidewalk and the road. That's one of the dumbest designs I've ever seen. Where it appears in the development, it's awful looking. I dug out the whole stretch of mine and sodded it over. Looks nicer than anywhere else in the development. Also, I built up the area around the driveway which was raised last year. Son had twisted his ankle on it the day after it was poured. I also just recently re-painted the foundation skirt of the house since it was peeling. Our house is quite a bit elevated with an exposed basement, so that was a decent sized job. Oh, and it was nice to see the relocation of the 12 shrubs I did last year to line the swail storm drainage pipe area all lived. It is actually looking real nice and we added some purple grass around the gaps to hopefully keep some of the weeds out. But, no big extended projects, yet

Begin the stepping stone walkway. I'm on a mission to reduce the amount of grass cutting I need to do it seems. Actually, I just don't really like the large slopes on either side of the house. So, I've been considering putting a path from the front of the house around to the back deck stairway for a while. I've been in the googling, planning stage for a few weeks now, just at a high level. I actually laid out a preliminary hose outline of the path last week as well. It's going to be gently curved in a couple spots and I'm thinking of trying to add a couple slight bulges to the curves to give it some additional athestic appeal. Not sure how that will impact the construction though. So, the high level phase is done, and its just time to dung or get off the pot.

I'm staying away from mortar. Want stepping stones, but no grass in between since one of my goals is less grass to cut. So, I'm thinking some fine crushed rock to fill the gaps between the stones. (I hate when people are walking behind me when I'm typing my personal thoughts! This is where the webcam can substitute as be a good rear view mirror) Took some rough measurements this morning. Looks to be about 120' long, 3' wide, except for the bulges. At this point, I need this information to mostly compute an estimate for the amounts of sand and crushed rock I'll need for the path bed.

Also, I'd read something last night which suggested the horizontal axis, axis? is that right, of the path should be more or less level. The side-to-side facet of the path. This presents a design challenge because natures current path is on a slope, as I've already said. I figured it's probably a good suggestion though. But, how to make that happen? I'm figuring it needs to be built up rather than dug in at those points. Makes sense I suppose. I've got plenty of fill dirt I saved from replacing the stretch of turf by the sidewalk I've already mentioned here.

Biggest challenge may actually be finding a decent stone to use. There's plenty of local natural stone places here, but that's probably not what I really want. My preference is probably the western sunset stone I used on this retaining wall/flowerbed thing I build last year. Unfortunately, at the absolute wrong time in the project, I discovered how nearly impossible it is to find that. Wife doesn't seem as hung up on using matching rocks as I am.

Oh well, time to run some figures.


Looks like I'll need about 303 yards of sand and 3/4 crushed rock each. It is bought apparently by the ton, so getting those supplies here is the next hurdle to climb. Also, it dawned on me that I could likely use mixed materials and intersperse the larger pieces of western sunset I have left over amongst a different stepping stone, tbd. Just spent about 3 hours relaying out my hose. This time I took about 8 of the many cans of spray paint the wife has bought needlessly over the years and sprayed over the hoses to get a nice line to work from as I cut into the turf. Course, it just started to rain, but hopefully the paint won't run too bad.


Dry Ed Ticker - Day 54

Current Record - 62 days from 1/19 through 3/21.

Odouls - 5/9; had occasion to stop at Friday's tonight. Figured I'd give the alcohol free beer a whirl, just to satisfy the curiosity. Tasted a little like Heineken, I'd guess. Had a couple with dinner. Don't expect I'll do that much. Tasted okay, but I don't know. All the price and calories of a regular beer, without a really great taste, and no buzz to go with it. What's the point? Just isn't worth the money to me. Who'd smoke pot without the buzz I wonder? Noone, that's who. Speaking of pot, the pot promoting website has stopped hitting my site. I guess the guy was just trying to lure me into promoting his site from my page. I really had no interest in promoting the usage of pot. Up to 49 day streak again. 5 years till the kids are out, and I can give this up. Wonder if I'll really stick to it. Best part of the whole experience has been the reduction in eating/drinking bill.

Sixers - this will be odd...a professional sporting event sans alcohol. I'll make it through.

Birthday Present? - Oh well, we had the weekend in Atlantic City for my birthday present, so I treated myself. What a treat - woke up with a hangover from not too heavy drinking; cheap beer to boot. One for the birds. Back on the wagon...

A Dry St Pattys Day - eom.

Week 8 - was drinking in my sleep again last night. Some things are always a part of us, regardless of how much we don't want them to be.

Week 6 - have recurring moments of why the heck am I doing this? I'm an adult. I don't have to keep this up. I can CHANGE MY MIND. Yes, I Am a responsible adult who works hard, earns a decent living, doesn't indulge in a great deal of extra curricullar activities, really don't do a whole hell of alot that I really enjoy...I like beer. Oh well, I gave it up. So much of my life is self-denial, self-loathing, self-deprecation, self-destruction, hell, my life is pretty much a never ending treadmill of serving the needs of everyone else, and damn hell to my own needs. Kind of funny how my life is so completely defined by filling everyone else's needs, and I really deep down have no desire for anyone to need me. I DO NOT WANT TO BE NEEDED. Some people like my Father-In-Law define their whole existance by having people need them. I want nothing to do with it. Oh well, throw this into the self-denial bucket. I'll keep on keeping on. My emotions on booze are too erratic, and tend to involve too many other people, so... And, I'm saving a boatload of cash on the booze anyway. Of course, it's being sucked into everyone else's never ending additional expenses, but that's my life. How does one cut back when there's nothing else to cut? I guess I can go from my current military showers to cutting out showers altogether. It works for the Amish.

Week 4 - dinner out again, was tempted to pull an Adouls. What's the point? Didn't go there.

Week 3 - rounding out the third week. Once again, weekends are the toughest. Father in law passed through one night this week, and had one of my warm beers from the cellar. Someone conveniently then left a bottle of my favorite pale ale in the fridge to chill. I get to look at it everytime I reach for a glass of milk now :( Oh well, I haven't caved. Enduring ongoing needling from the wife who just still doesn't ever accept my explanations of anything, and never knows when to quit. Woke up with a nice headache this morning, which at least let's me know all the headaches I've had in the past weren't necessarily a hangover. It also seems quite strange to me, but it's almost unmistakable that my arthritis has gotten noticably worse since I stopped drinking. What's up with that?

Dining Out - was an odd feeling, but was able to succesfully dine out without getting a beer. Even went to where they have my favorite mass brewed pale ale on tap. Two weeks down.

Friday Night Madness - I WANT A BEER! Why the hell am I doing this!!! Maybe it's unlucky day 13.

If I drank in my dream, do I need to reset my counter? I saw a beer "and forgot I'd quit???" What kind of lame explanation was that?

Week 2 - made it through the weekend, and some verbal jabs coming from the wife who finally spoke up about the lack of a beer in my hand. "Why???" "Because I don't feel like it." Really, that's it, but as explanations go it was insufficient. Later..."ha ha...my husbands a real teatotaller..." Now, if I was really an alcoholic, and I was trying to go sober, I dare say most people wouldn't be needling me because I wasn't drinking. I did respond in kind by offering to go get a beer if she kept it up. But, that's the nature of the support I get from my wife about most things. Anywho, on to week 2.

Weekend number 1 - obviously, the weekend was bound to be the most tempting to get through. I'm over halfway through. Working in the basement yesterday with the old fridge sitting there still plenty stocked was a bit of a challenge. But, I made it through just fine. This change in lifestyle should free up lots of time for other things. Not sure I feel like doing lots of other things, but oh well...

Withdrawal - I'd not expected physical symptoms by going cold turkey. I've always thought my own mental toughness would allow me to stop drinking if and when I ever decided to, but I'd never really planned on it. However, I just could no longer deny that high maintenance kids and beer don't mix, so I needed to do what I needed to do. After the first couple days, it became apparent that I was feeling like dung. I hadn't even considered the lack of a good pale ale being the culprit. I just thought it was another cold setting in. I've got a cold, there's no denying it. But, this edgy hyperactive irritable feeling is much more than the common cold. It's like I'm on an overdose of cold medication, even when I'm not taking anything. The time of day matters, as well. Early morning hours, soon after I sit down to work, it starts. I start to get hyper and an obvious shortness of breath - a pressure in my chest. I can't at all concentrate. It's not good. I googled withdrawal, and sure enough, I think I got it. This is no cold. But, I'm nearly through my first full week, and expect this to subside soon. One thread said alcohol withdrawal is the only substance withdrawal that can kill you. Is that actually true?


05/12/09 Ext Javascript Widgets - I've been trying to come up with a solution to migrate a fat java swing application to JEE application. I don't have alot of great experience in advanced swing, or advanced web applications, so this is mostly just an investigation at this point. I'm sure there's a simple solution which has been tried and true and is well known to well, someone besides me. I suppose in tech jargon, I'm solving mostly for the V implementation of the MVC design pattern here. There's a couple things I'm tossing about in my mind. First, the swing application maintains multiple windows concurrently, where each window is a subset of the system, and has a relationship to the overall current application state. So, how are the relationships between the windows maintained in a JEE solution? Window A may feed supply information to Window B. Window B results may get applied into Window A's state when Window B is through. This exchange of information I'm curious how best to handle. Window A might also want to know about the state of Window B. Kill A, and B disappears as well. How to pull this window interdepencies off in a JEE application? Also, the basic html presentation may not be sufficient. Thinking javascript widgets are likely to be sexier, though probably a whole lot more complicated to develop with. To that thought, I searched around for some freely available JS widget packages. I found a couple and also someone who seemed to have opinions about one over the other. So, I took his advice and focused on the Ext package over the xoosdoo package.

First blush, I'm pretty impressed with what Ext has to offer. I've been slowly getting the hang of what it is about since I downloaded it yesterday. The strategy I adopted for my investigation is to first identify some widgets that would obviously be of value. Next, mockup a couple widgets to present some data populated from a remote data store. I'm not sure how these widgets naturally would interact with a model layer if they are in fact the view layer. That seems to be a door which will need unlocked. Next, try to make two different semi-autonomous windows of widgets be aware with each other. Not sure how to make that work at all. These are what I'm assuming are two of the biggest technical challenges which would need to be effectively solved to even consider whether it is a technology which could lend itself to solving the business problem at hand.


05/03/09 Anti-Social Networking - I just don't really get the point of these sites like myspace, facebook, twitter especially. Twitter seems to have some small redeeming value as a broadcast medium for what might be important life events, but surely that's not what it has developed into. The others seem to be some sort of self-aggrandizement facility to allow others to show the world how popular they can display themselves to be. There's obviously something in the process of collecting as many friends as possible. It's hard for me to speak to this, since I maintain an ongoing conviction to have no friends both online and off, so I'm mostly commenting as an observer, and not from experience. Something tells me though that there is no realistic way any single person can maintain a long lasting meaningful relationship with 3618 people, online or otherwise. I'm also curious if the naturally anti-social person in the real world is able to transform themselves into a widely accepted socialite in the online space. I never really tried this, though surely would've been a good case study. The little experience I had on myspace showed I was likely as anti-social there as in the real world. My friend experience reached about 6 at the maximum. Those 6 seemed to actually enjoy my company or musings shall I say. Perhaps they felt more comfortable with someone like me at a distance. Would have to be true.

I added a facebook page a couple years ago. I didn't do anything with it except play with their basic facilities out of curiousity. Curious thing is I started to receive friend requests recently. They started to trickle in. Recently, they seemed to accelerate. I have a feeling the acceleration was orchestrated by a collective group. I got up to about 10-12 requests all of which I be ignored. The most recent one really gave me great pause. It was from an old schoolmate Caron Timmons. This I found extremely odd, since we had then very very little in common, and certainly have nothing to share now. Surely this was some setup. Sure enough, there was the girl I dated in high school. I was dead sure I could tweek a response, since I was sure a response was what was being solicited. Could've left well enough alone, but really, this was a good experiment. Did these people actually have some concern and interest for me as an individual, or were they just trying to poke fun at the social wart. Since I've snubbed the whole lot of them for over 20 years, I was sure it was the latter.

So, let's find out. Sent her an invitation email. Harmless enough. We'd all matured in 25 years, haven't we? Lmao. She'd read it in less than 15 minutes. It didn't take longer than 1 week for all of them to register me as a facebook predator let's call it. Me, the person who has shunned all interpersonal facebook activity was now a manifestation of the evil force that is known to be lurking in facebook world. Too funny. Weak people find needs to protect themselves in insecure ways.

So, I updated my about me entry to let them all know I have no desire or interest in them or anyone else. "Don't need friends. Don't have friends. Don't want friends". That should set them straight and hopefully they'll realize this is my choice, not some phony bologny reality they've created for me. I define my life, not them or phony people like them. The real me for anyone who has wanted to find me has been here for years. My thoughts I jot down here. Obviously, noone really wants to know me, they want to use me as an object to define themselves in an elevated light. Never understood what kind of person looks at humanity in such as way as there are "better" people, and that they can actually be "better" people than other people. My mother was a "better than you" person. I'm fairly certain growing up in that environment constantly scratching my head about "better" people has served to turn me into the person I am today.

I full well expect the stream of facebook invitations will cease and desist.

05/02/09 Christian Phonies - it's been a while, so I'm a little overdue to rip into the phony bolony that is the mass of people who are part of the Christian philosophy of life. I had my brain completely screwed up in my adolescence from these people, and had to suffer great personal identity issues amongst my peers and pretty much anyone else I came into contact with based on the complete and total horse dung these people dedicate their life to peddling. I recall in my youth meeting adults who seemed to have been raised in similar surroundings as what I'd been going through, but had anything but good feelings about the outcome. I wasn't sure how to deal with their personal animosity towards the glorious situation I was so fortunate to have been saved into. I didn't find it a personal attack against me. I just surely had to write it off to devilish evil forces found in these people who had decided to put their own pride above the Lord's work. These were the backslidden lot I knew they were to be called. The worst kind of lot. Obviously, as I've matured, I've become one of them, and share an equal scorn for those who have labeled me and everyone else one way or the other.

Over the years, I've had pause to recount my upbringings. It wasn't easy to first break from the nonsense which I'd been trained in, and second to cast an unbiased view about the people who'd tried so desparately to make me one of them. Taking an intellectual stance against an almighty beings personally sanctioned institution isn't something one does without realizing there's possibly a great personal risk involved.


04/30/09 1 down, 2 to go - today Chrysler finally entered bankruptcy. Seems to me common sense has finally been vindicated for once in this financial meltdown. To me, bankruptcy court, even though I've never been through it, was created by the collective wisdom of past generations who decided that it is the sensible vehicle (pun intended) of last resort for non-viable financial situations which need to be taken apart. Doesn't seem to me there's going to be any winners in bankruptcy, save the lawyers, just varying degrees of losers. But, it seems obvious that this process was developed by the collective wisdom of our ancestors who figured out that it's the best way to deal with such situations for the greater good of society. It's only the politicians who've decided they can do it better in their yet to be demonstrated greater wisdom. So, Chryster, Chapter 11, a sad day for some, but a very necessary day for all. GM is next. Ford, arguably the most progressive of the 3, looks like it has an outside chance of avoiding similar fate. We'll see if the UAW can still screw that one up.

04/09/09 Ouch - since I've upped my mileage some, the lingering pain has increased noticably. Its hard to quantify the level of pain as being commensurate with the increase in mileage, or maybe I'm just pushing it too much. Since Jan/Fed I've upped my average outing from 2 miles to probably 3.5 miles. On my long outings however, I'm guessing I'm getting up to almost 5 miles. Maybe the 5 area is just something I'm not ready for. The body really seems to start rebelling with new areas of pain on those days; outside my left shin; cramp in the upper part of my spine; pointer pains in the front of my hip sockets. I'm really pushing the edge at that level there it seems. I've found that my off day (once every 5 outings) hasn't really served to cut the residual pain much. The residual pain is pretty bad. The tendons in my calves are so tight. When I have cause to get out of bed, whether it be in the middle of the night, or the next day, I can barely walk. I can't descend the flight of stairs without holding onto the railing and going down sideways. It takes probably 45 minutes of hobbling around to loosen up to the point of normal walking. My right knee hasn't gotten better from the increased exercise at all. My hope was that strengthening the surrounding area would tighten it up. Hasn't happened. If anything, it's looser than it has ever been. Anywho, I took a two day rest this time, instead of my normal one, just to see if the increased rest would help with the pain. Didn't happen really. Maybe a tad bit on the margin so to speak. Oh well, back on the road today. Trooper Ronnies run is fast approaching. On a side note, my oldest son seems to be jogging a little now. Maybe he's finally found me to be a small inspiration for something instead of the usual scurge on his life.


04/05/09 Switch to the network with the fewest dropped calls... - a very funny moment of irony watching the Nascar cup race today. Jeff Gordon won his first race in what seemed forever. In victory lane, he was noting that neither his wife, kid, or boss, Rick Hendrick was in attendance for the race, and what a bummer that was. Just at that time, someone handed him a cellphone, with Hendrick on the line, so Gordon could give him the good news. It Dropped The Call. I was LMAO! Here he is, 7 time nascar cup champion, now running in the SPRINT CUP SERIES, that's right, the Sprint Cup, and obviously necessarily using a Sprint CellPhone if you know how these sponsership things work, and he lost the call! Now, if I was Verizon, I'd definitely be trying to get the rights to that footage, or coming up with a parody. Found this funny youtube video poking around on topic.

04/04/09 It's here - I've been waiting for it, now it's arrived. The recession, depression, whatever you want to call it. Little signs have been all around, but not what I'd been waiting for. Waiting for what I remember so vividly during the 80-82 recession. Well, it's here. On the drive home from the sixers game today, it was plain as day, as far as the eye could see. For Lease...For Sale. Almost the entire way home, especially through Delaware County. Businesses are starting to shutter up en masse, and this can't be good for a recovery anytime soon. Things still look to me to be heading downhill. The slope of the descent is really only what's in question.

Bill Gross of Pimco was on CNBC the other day. I don't know, perhaps what he is saying just resonates with me because I think it just makes so much sense. I believe as he says, we're going to be finding a "New Norm". The most recent decades I think as he says are gone. People are going to be cutting their consumption in this country, and cutting it rather drastically. That can't be good for a return to the rip-roaring stock market people had become so used to. I'm sticking by my guns. Trying to stay patient. The market may continue to rally, and for weeks, maybe months. But, common sense tells me that come later this year, next year, the following year, a new economy will be emerging, and people will have to start to get acquainted with that fact for their own good.

I know on a personal note, I've been continuing to try to cut corners, expenses. There's not alot in my life left that jumps out at me, but I continue to look. Today at the sixers game for example. Last year, I threw 20 bucks at each kid and let them spend it however they saw fit. This year - cutbacks. No booze for me. One trip to the snack bar for them, with me in tow, and we kept the bill to about $11 a head. Sure, it doesn't sound like much, but a large % reduction in spending for each and every person in this country being done carefully and deliberately will remake this country's economy quickly. I think the policy makers really fear the possibility and are trying desparately to rally the greed factor before the tightwad factor takes a firm hold across the board.


04/03/09 Not much to say - I've been in a slump, a funk lately. Feels like several weeks now. As one can tell, there's very little technical revelation taking place in my office these days. I feel very aggitated, very annoyed, extremely restless. At the same time, I feel very tired, worn out. I turned 45 last week. It's hard for me to overstate how daunting I am finding the aging process: physically, emotionally, the whole package. It is shaping up to be a very difficult year.

Defunking - I've been slooooooowly grinding my way through the JEE tutorials, desparately trying to use NetBeans6.5. Sure, it "works", but in many cases, not too damn well. I started clean enough, with all the default settings, what not. I've had more than one issue along the way, which google hasn't been alot of help with. Something tells me I've got some conflict somewhere that just isn't playing nice. I've been working through the JSP document chapter. It's harmless enough, basically describing how a JSP document is really just a JSP written in XML syntax, instead of being beholden to the JSP language. I decided to dig a little deeper with the IDE, run the bookstore5 example, fair enough. This brought me back to the debugging session. Within the debugger, a JSP and its innards are completely unintelligible to me. I want to examine some of the simple things like the param variable for example. I have yet to figure that out. Maybe I have to look at the servlet compiled from the JSP? Okay, let's try that. Just "Run", then "View Servlet"...???? Bull Dung! I can run the JSP just fine; it compiles, deploys, pops up in the browser. But, View Servlet? Forget about it. For some reason, the IDE can't locate it. I can. It's there in my example heirarchy. But, I've no clue how to tell the IDE where it is or how to make use of it, if indeed it can make any use of it at all. This is very frustrating.


03/26/09 Financial Hassles - what a hassle it is trying to get ahead. For years I've tried to be cautious, many times overly cautious. Then, I decided, okay, caution isn't getting me anywhere, so I'll try to play by the rules more and started to sock money into the stock market in my 401K. Granted, I've given up years of gains since I started a little late by being cautious. Then, somehow I don't think my funds quite did so well anyway, but my 401K grew regularly from contributions and some gains. Then, last year, the whole thing came crashing down. 10 years of gains and contributions more or less completely wiped out. All sitting at a loss, anyway. Since I couldn't time a bottom, and realized that, I decided to try and inject money on downdrafts, rather than on up days. That will pay off in a small way if the market ever goes back up. But, the overall downdraft was way too large so my injections are mostly at a loss. Someone talked me into buying into a REIT which has to be the absolute dumbest financial move I've ever made. That has been cut in probably more than half, and is quite slow to recover. Initially I'd lost $5300 in the REIT alone when I had pulled all my money out of the market. That was in July of 2008. Then, after several weeks of extreme volatility, I lost my nerve, and got tired of trying to time a bottom, and moved it all back into the market, with 10000 of that going into the REIT. That's been clobbered back down to 4500 again. It has been an ugly scene. I'm sticking with it...for what reason, I have no idea. Perhaps because it's so volatile and gives me a rush just to watch it each day. Anywho, I started to trade stocks some on my own last September. I've got a loss at the moment, but not a steep one. Course, my holdings are primarily dividend payers, and aren't really participating in the big bear market rally this month. I'm sitting tight - a little anxious that I'm missing it, but keeping my head hoping it pulls back over the next month or two. I'm trying to raise some cash for the next pullback, and will keep drawing on my dividends. I also wrote some covered calls which is also limiting my ability to participate in the runup on a couple of my positions. Thankfully, they've not cleared my option+call proceeds substantially yet.

03/15/09 Stewart vs. Cramer vs. Common Sense - I'd be remissed if I didn't log a sensible response to the verbal jousting that took place the past couple weeks between Cramer and Jon Stewart of the Daily Show.

First, Cramer. I've no great love for Cramer. He does his thing, he acts like a clown, he doesn't pump and dump stocks. I don't think he's in anyone's pocket. I think he has good financial background, I think he thinks he is probably better than he is. All my opinions. He seems reasonably intelligent. He seems to have a good self identity. He probably suffers moments of self importance, but I think he is reasonably well grounded for someone in his position.

I don't think Jim is real good on his feet so to speak. I don't think he improvises well. I think much of his life on TV is scripted. He's well read, etc. That is obvious. But, despite the lightning round, which is clearly his strong point, in general I don't think he does well on his feet. Witness his interviews with corporate CEOs. He is clearly scripted and doesn't interact well. Monologues and one off questions are what he does best.

So, I wasn't surprised to see him get ripped to shreds by Jon Stewart. Clearly, that's what happened, and the format was suited perfectly to let Stewart take it where he wanted. Cramer was clearly made the fool.

That being said, I hate to see that Stewart's basic position will go unchallenged with Cramer as the one put in charge of it's defense. That's a shame that it probably will. CNBC is by and large one of the most unbiased media outlets you will find on TV, period. They probably lean towards the business community, sure. But, they've plenty of balanced views throughout the day. That's a point of fact. No debate.

Stewart's position that CNBC somehow is culpable in the financial meltdown of 2007-2009 is complete horseshit. His notion that they fail to report on possible or probable perils in the stock market again, complete horsedung. I'm certain the record will show that CNBC had numerous people on prior to events of Sept/Oct 2008, likely on a daily basis, who warned about imminent meltdown, and the complete collapse of the American, or world financial system. Has Jon Stewart ever heard of Peter Schiff, for example? It's just complete nonsense and completely disingenuous of Stewart to claim there was noone on CNBC sounding the alarm bell. I got news for Jon Stewart. This didn't really have to happen. We could still be living in a 30:1 leveraged financial system today, with everyone happy as punch. But, things happened, course of events started this in motion, and the house of cards came crashing down. It WAS NOT A FORGONE CONCLUSION, Jon Stewart, you idiot. It was not CNBC's fault. What if Cramer or CNBC sounded some grave alarm each and everyday that they came on the air, Mr Stewart, and caused a run on the banks? Would that have been responsible journalism Jon? Of course not. The market is a living organism, constantly changing, forever unpredictable. There is no guarantees of success, and no assuredness of failure. If you can't stomach it, or UNDERSTAND that Mr. Stewart, you nor anyone like you should be in the market. I'm sure you have a cash only option in your 401K if you are so inclined.

I'll continue to watch Cramer, despite Stewart's shellacking of his reputation on live TV. Also, I'll continue to not watch the Daily Show, because I've never really found his pompous attitude all that appealing, and don't find him the least bit funny. Colbert, now he's funny. It's plainly obvious Colbert has assumed whatever political satire mantle Stewart thought he had. I watch Cramer full well realizing what he is, as I'm sure 95% of his audience does. When he says buy buy buy, or sell sell sell, it just means, hey, maybe that's something for me to think about. He claims to have run a hedge fund. Heck, I don't have any idea how successful or not he even was at that, nor do I care. I lost 50% of my 401K in the market last year. Was that CNBC's fault, or Cramer's, or someone else's? Hell no. It was all mine.

Bottom line is you're still allowed to be stupid in this country and succeed or fail. Stupidity is often times very expensive. I don't want Stewart or Obama or anyone else taking away my ability to be stupid. I don't want them taking my ability away to lose money in the market. For, as they do that, they take away my ability to make money as well. Screw that. I'll take my chances. That's what makes this country great. Not social safety nets. Not endless freebies from Uncle Sam. The ability to take risks, turn your labor into profit, make the world a better place for you and your family, that's what I want. Not free health care. Not guaranteed annuities from Barack Obama. I think most of Cramer's and CNBC's audience feels the same way. I have a feeling there's not alot of overlap between that audience and the Daily Show.

In closing, it was difficult to watch Cramer come unglued sitting across from Jon Stewart. I'd prefer CNBC send Santelli, Kudlow, or Kernen there and have them rip Stewart a new asshole. At the close of the interview, Stewart once again appealed to the stupidity of his audience. He cried a sob story for his 75 year old mother who apparently believed in buy-and-hold and lost alot of money in the market. First, I don't believe the story, but I do believe that probably is representative of many people. If it is true, I say this. If Stewart was half the man as Cramer he could at least take some responsibility for allowing his 75 year old mother to be such a poor steward of her money as to have it in the stock market. If she did, she is very unwise. Her or anyone like her. Or, she was just greedy. Anyway you slice it, it is not CNBC's fault, Cramer's fault, or mine. If anyone bears responsiblity, it is Jon Stewart. But, noone else besides me will likely tell you that.

03/08/09 Spot on - from an AP story: "Like Reagan did then, Obama is dishing up hope. Trouble is, people can't visualize any reward they might get from making it through this recession, said William Niskanen, an economic adviser to Reagan." Couldn't have said it better.

03/07/09 Not Cuil - not impressed with their crawling. I'd submitted my home page to them a few times. It became clear to me their webbot wasn't really scanning my site effectively. I finally wrote them and said they were F'd up. Something got modified, they botted better, and there I was on their index again. A few weeks later, they're back their their original screwed up behavior. I've no plans to use "cool", and feel okay with that since they don't seem to work too well.

03/05/09 Twitter - OMG, what is this world coming to? People just have too much time on their hands. To prove it, I signed up on twitter

03/01/09 IDIOT IDIOT IDIOT IDIOT - my IDIOT step son wakes up this morning and walks to the bus stop. Why is that a problem? Because there's at least 4 inches of snow on the ground with more on the way. EVERY KID IN THE SCHOOL DISTRICT KNOWS IT IS A SNOW DAY EXCEPT MY IDIOT IDIOT IDIOT IDIOT STEP SON. GOD HELP US!

02/25/09 You Go Obama! - word today that Mr. SpendThrift is planning on bringing back Hillary care. Health care for all! Woo hoo! You know what, I say GO FOR IT! How many people will drop out of the workforce if you give them free health care? Oft times, it seems healthcare is like a religion - some people act like if you don't got insurance, it's like getting to the Pearly Gates without Jesus there to hold your hand. I don't happen to be someone who thinks that way, but that's how most people act. I'm come from what I think is the more realistic perspective, the truth will set you free you know, that if I happen to be sick, oh dung, I might not like it, but I'll probably survive. Or, maybe not, but that's life. We're all gonna keel over sometime. My baby doll gets free care, and pretty much that's all I care about. The rest of us will be fine with or without health insurance. But, my argument is drawn back to so many people who seem to insist on working, just for the benefits, and those benefits are health insurance. So, let them drop out of the labor market with their Obama care, and then there's more jobs left for those of us who actually don't know how to do anything else in life but work. Get the lazy a$$es out of the labor market, and leave the work to stupid idiots like me who don't know how to mooch off someone else... Obama's encouraging the creation of a whole new societal class of mooches...

02/21/09 iTouch Myself - Okay, really lousy play on words there. I've only done one review to date about my new iTouch 2G. Hadn't decided to keep a log of my discoveries or not. Still haven't actually. Thought it might be useful, but maybe not. I'm developing a certain amount of cynicism to the whole iTouch experience here, but that's just me. This entry is to just say one thing - the iTunes Store User Experience Sucks! I've gotten past the idea that they want me to actually pay for things, and that's not what I'm talking about. The store access is DOG-DUNG SLOW! I really can't believe Apple finds this acceptable.

02/21/09 Finally Spammed - I've kept my personal email account clean for what must be 7-8 years now. Recently the wife gave it to Countrywide! I had a FRIGGIN COW! As soon as I saw that, I contacted them immediately and told them never ever to give it out. They wrote back and assured me it wouldn't happen. Whelp, is it a fluke of nature that today, just about 2 months later, I've finally been SPAMMED at that address? I don't think so. And, as best I can tell, it's the SPAM masters of Canadian Pharmacy. That's just Friggin great. Thanks, Honey!

02/21/09
Review - Waterfield Bank (0 stars)


This is a straightforward customer service review. Waterfield Bank is the latest acquirer of what was UFB Direct, which is in its 4th or 5th morph as an online bank now. I've lost count of the number of banks which have taken over the original UFB Direct. I've carried 4 savings accounts for my kids through all the transitions over the years, and this time they finally hit them with a minimum service charge. My kids obviously are not high rollers and I would've never opened a savings account for them with a minimum balance fee. Well, the customer service rep was predictably unhelpful - "We sent out blah blah blah". Look lady, I don't have time to read every packet of dung you send out each time you're taken over. You could've made these accounts just like the one I have that is not getting a minimum charge, but you didn't. We didn't come to a positive resolution, and I'm therefore in process of closing the accounts. Typical arrogant customer service who could do the right thing and try to keep the business, but they'd rather just scam the 20 bucks for the here and now. Recommendation - Avoid UFB Direct and Waterfield Bank!

02/19/09 Paid to Winterize - Last month I did some winterizing. While I was moving some plumbing in the basement, I had the chance to get close to some places around the foundation which were really drafty. So, I pulled back the insulation (which obviously wasn't helping much) and did a combination of the "Good Stuff" crap and some caulking around foundation bolts which somehow were also leaking air. Also, I'd found a couple drafty windows in a room we never use, and an electric outlet in the kitchen was like and open window. I taped foam insulation over the windows, and covered the outlet with foil tape. These hacks look a little "ricanee" like we used to say back in the day, but oh well. I was anxious to get this month's electric bill. I couldn't believe it. My average daily gas use was down even though the temperature was about the same. It was under last years which had an average temp about 2 degrees higher, which seems to be a big deal where the gas usage is concerned. I'm pretty pleased about this development.

02/19/09 Eclipse/TomCat Integration - this has turned out to be an interesting exercise. I've not got it working yet.

02/16/09 My-Touch - I've had my iTouch G2 for about a week now. I'm slowly getting acquainted with it. Having used my Creative Zen for at least 3 years on a daily basis, I'm not really GungHo on the switch. But, switch I intend to do. As previously mentioned, I recently downloaded my music library onto the iTouch. Today, I decided to do some investigation on the video hype. Poked around on the ITunes store some. I must admit, I was perplexed, and somewhat disappointed that most TV reruns cost to download. I suppose that's because they're HD? I don't care. I ain't paying with HuLu out there. I did download a couple podcasts. One for CNBC's Fast Money, another for the Onion News Network. I was anxious to watch the Onion, since I always enjoy their stuff, though I seldom watch it. Why is that? I downloaded into iTunes, then dragged and dropped it onto the device, ejected the iTouch, then took it into the other room to watch. The wife was wondering what I was laughing at, so I let her watch the Onion when I was done. (This is the woman who I bought the G1 version of as soon as they hit the street, and claims she doesn't know how to use it...?????) I took it back, and she says "I was watching a couple others..." Huh? So, I took it back! Pushed a few icons, turns out I can pretty much do all this from the device since it is wireless enabled, and hence don't really need the iTune intermediary. Duh. That makes sense. Tried to download my first application, some poker game for 0.99, and since I've updated account information since Bank of America screwed up my credit card (they claimed they're doing me a favor covering up for their 3rd party source who compromised my account information) the application couldn't be bought and I need to update the device or something. All in all, I'm becoming very impressed with this little handheld. I can start to see how people are growing attached to them. Here, I just wanted an mp3 player and have in the past ridiculed people who wanted to watch video on the little screen. I plan on buying some accessories, and will offer up some opinions on what I acquire since I find the whole shopping experience a little annoying (mostly that it's assumed you know what to buy, since you must know someone else with iTouch experience, which I do not).

02/14/09 Ryan Still Sucks - this house was a disaster when we had it built in 2003. It never got a whole lot better despite my efforts to clobber the builder over the head with a 2 by 4. Bottom line, really, was it was at or about the height of the building boom, and they were slapping them up as fast as they could. I'm not excusing it, because I committed myself to putting 280+ thousand of my hard earned future dollars to it, with an additional hundreds of thousands in interest, and I deserved better than what I got. It's just the disaster that keeps on giving... I've been pretty much doing one painting project per year; eventually doing the whole house is the plan. I'm not quite half done. Each room has its own mess to fix. I like to fix all the nail pops, of which there are many. In addition to that, this house has tape seams that just were done awful. You can see many of them. I cut them out at the seam, and lay a new piece of mesh tape over it, and respackle the area. That's a pain in the ass. This year's room is the foyer. The 20+ high walls and ceiling will present a new challenge. Good thing is I really don't have to be too meticulous with stuff above eye level. The thing that is pissing me off more than anything at the moment is the horrendous job they did around the front door. I just finished my initial exam of where the door molding meets the drywall. Come to find it isn't meeting the drywall at all-because there's no drywall there to meet. They just laid a busted piece of dryrock there, and filled the gap with an overdose of caulk. I just finished busting out a 2X2 piece of drywall from the halfa$$ job they did, and am in the process of replacing that area now. Never, ever, buy a Ryan built house. They are the most awful house available on the market today. Hopefully, the tough economy will put them out of business for good. Did I ever tell you about the time I stood out in front of the model home on a Saturday, giving my Ryan Home protest fliers to anyone that entered the sales office? That got some quick attention. That was an interesting day. Almost came to blows with some guy who really didn't appreciate what I was doing. I was unintimidated, and kept right on doing what I was doing. Still and all, they ended up doing a dungy job on my house, despite my extreme measures against them.

02/12/09 House Shredder - wind kicked up this morning with force. The weatherman called this one, for once. It came roaring in around 5, and I mean roaring in. By 530 or so, I heard some piece of tin sliding down the road. Sounded large enough. Surely it must've been my neighbors. Also, I knew the wife parked within uncomfortable distance of the basketball platform. I had successfully secured that thing for probably four years now with a couple tie downs anchored with some large augers used for dog leashes. This winter, one finally gave way in another wind event. I'd resecured them, but was certain this blast would have to take them out again. So, I headed out at 530 to move the car. Figured I do the good neighbor thing, and pick up whoevers flashing that was. Sharp it was, almost slicing my hands as I struggled to pull it in. As I walked up to the garage, I figured I'd take a look. Sh**. It was my flashing, and a long hunk of it as well. Two pieces. Probably about 16 feet worth. At lunch, I went for my usual walk. On the way out, I looked back at the house and could see about 15 shingles lifted up the wrong way. It's like they were up there waving at me, taunting me. They weren't gonna hold, that was for sure. At 230 or so, I was peeking out the front window. The basketball hoop had done me proud, but it looked like it had had about all it could stand. Sure enough, just then, a gust, then another, the lean, a recoil, another lean further, a recoil, then TIMBER!!! Then, as I went for my run tonight, I looked back at the roof. Sure enough, that set of shingles was gone. I ain't getting up on that roof to fix that sh**. I'm too dang old for that crap. I'm calling in someone to take care of this mess.

02/11/09 Life is So Sweet - what a night. Continuation from yesterday, I've been continuing to download music to my new iTouch. As I'm going through the library it collected off my drive, I've been somewhat methodically just going down the list in alphabetic order, grabbing an artist or two at a time, drag, drop. And, as I was going through, I couldn't help but say to myself, ya know, I haven't heard that in a while (George Harrison), or, wait, I've never listened to that... Oh, what a night. What peace. And, the tears, who can hold them back. The stress of daily living, stock markets, layoffs, just basic dung...and here. Here is heaven on this electronic gadget in my office. I'm always drawn back at special quiet moments like this to my experience at a summer band clinic at Clarion State College when I was in eighth grade. Nick Sinabaldi. He said we're all searching for that heavenly sound when we play. I'm not playing anymore really to speak of, haven't in years, but, my god, it's hard to really be an atheist with such beauty here. Mozart, Haydn, Joe Jackson, and this beautiful piano acoustic version of 3am by Rob Thomas and Matchbox 20 that I've never heard before till tonight... This is what I would want a heaven to be. This and a special person, for all eternity...

02/10/09 All Things Apple - are supposed to be out of this world, wonderful, are they not? I'm not going to try to diminish what they've been able to accomplish the past several years. Cramer could quite possibly be right when he says they are the best run America company at the moment. But, they are in a software business, and I know how that is. I've got my very first own personal IPod, of the ITouch persuasion. Going through it now, trying to add songs to it. So far, fairly simple process. At what I'm assuming is the end of the preliminaries, it tells me the IPod software is outdated, and it wants to download a new copy. Salright? Salright. So, it goes to update, grays out some buttons, it's doing its download thing. I'm waiting. And waiting... And waiting... When the heck is this going to be done? So, I look at the ITune display a little closer. Here's this "Downloads" item hanging off the "Store" menu, which I'd had no reason to open yet. After all, I'm on the Devices tab, where it put me from the beginning. Okay, what's in here I wonder? A message box, waiting for an answer. Do I want to automatically download crap? Hell no! But, when I tell you to download the update, please do it and don't expect an answer on an invisible message box before you do, thank you very much. Oh well, even Apple can be rough around the core.

02/07/09 7th Inning Stretch - here we go again. With the oldest boy, it started in 7th grade. The youngest I figured would be at least as bad. I was right. Started 7th grade. I warned him at the start of the year what would be coming if he gave it a try. Whelp, he did, and then some. Thankfully, everyone forgot to get the mail the past couple days, and it was there when I happened to check today. It would've been swept under the rug otherwise, I'm sure. Right on top..."To the parents..." He's failing 2 subjects, heading towards failing for the year. I knew it. I've been saying as much in private for the past few weeks. "He never does homework...How is that???...He must be failing..." Bingo. I'd noticed he's been doing homework the past week and a half. Why? Easy. Someone at school had already given him the heads up. Oh well. How many more years of this...it almost killed me last time.

02/07/09 reunion.com - wow, what's up with this site? I stumbled onto it last night at 3am when trying to settle my babydoll back to sleep. (She had a full diaper, a wet set of pajamas, and the best stay-at-home-mom could come up with was "quick kicking me Laura!", and returning her to crib to cry it out when that failed. Yes, it's left up to I-gotta-work-all-nite-tomorrow-night-dad to get pissed off at the lack of action and hence be forced into doing the investigation and try to figure out how to settle her back down. After discovering her wet clothes 45 minutes later which I hadn't even checked because I figured of course a mother would always check that first!!! and fully changing her, she settled nicely down next to me on the couch, and went back to sleep..."dah dah dah dah". I settled myself back down by surfing as usual) Back to our issue. This reunion.com site has been very good at collecting names and relationship data about the people it lists, which is pretty much every living soul. It leads one to believe everyone they've got listed is a paying member. They've got profile links and email send options for pretty much all listings. I was astonished at first that so-and-so was a member of this thing, and there's this person, and that person... So, I signed up. Didn't pay, but I had to see what was going on here. My conclusion is hardly anyone is actually there, but somehow this site has collected information from the public domain and done a decent job of creating the relevant relationships. I was stunned. Didn't seem to have ages absolutely accurate. But, I could find people listed who I know would not be using this site. At their cheapest rate of $60 per year, it was damn expensive to join as well. I'm sure very very few people listed there actually have ever used it, and probably most anyone that ever paid for it did it because they were suckered into thinking all the listed people there had joined up. My suggestion is - stay away! Oh, by the way, my reunion.com identity is john sokko. I doubt you'll find many of those.

02/06/09 Doctor Feel Good - this country needs a healty dose of the Gipper. Can we resurrect Ronnie Reagan? Barack Obama and his message of overwhelming negativity is just killing the spirit of this country. Well, the mood was already pessimistic enough, but he's just stoking it. That's not what we need from our leader. I was young, but I remember Ronnie. Didn't matter how tough times were, and they were worse than they are now, he could make you feel good, better days were ahead, and we would get through them. And, we did in large part due to his leadership I believe. This Obama negativity isn't doing anyone any good.

02/03/09 Played pokerstars tonight. Was my first outing in quite a while - probably over a month. Was feeling relaxed, so decided to play a cash game, which I havent done in who knows how long because I was feeling just too stressed for too long and it was killing my poker. Maybe I'll be a better poker player now that I'm no longer drinking. Tonight I thought I was doing fairly well. Then...wham. Just completely misread my hand. Have no idea what I was thinking. Thought I was ahead after being dealt two weak pair 7s and 3s... I probably was, probably figured I'd trap someone and fell in love with my two pair...complete misread when the board paired, giving the guy with his paired ace (it was obvious he had one) a better hand. I commpletely misread it, and somehow thought I had his ace to my credit? Rusty I guess. Borderline over-the-top stupid. Oh well, it's been an exciting day in a couple different ways, so I guess my mind is a litle unsettled.

Update - I settled down real good, and ran the table; felted a couple of players. More than doubled up, took my 3 bux to 7, and it was very enjoyable. (Always is when you're winning) Got into a couple races pre-flop. The first one I was holding AA, and wound up hitting the nut flush. The second I had a suited A, and actually paired the A, but lost to the same guy who'd hit a nut flush with the Ace that had paired for me. Glad I had mostly cleaned him out pretty good a couple hands before with my AA, so it only cost 0.50 to race with him. I tripped my 5 in the next hand and was able to get my fitty cent back, then left table.

02/01/09 News Flash!!! - Banks have been trying to hire foreign workers! An AP Investigation found this! OMG! You have to be kidding me! Those banking scumbags. Here's another news flash from ME: AP is a lousy news organization. Banks have been hiring hundreds of foreign workers for the entire past 10 plus years I've worked at a bank. Your investigation only found 6??? Hey, AP, I got more news for you - the banks aren't the only ones doing it! And, how comes you don't mention any high paying computer related jobs in your X-PO-ZAY?. What a stupid news story! I guess the banks will stop now that you've shone the light on their foreign worker agenda. Thanks AP!


02/01/09 That Ed's Dead - I opened up a facebook page a year or two ago. It was pretty much just to see what the big deal was. I didn't see the big deal. Every so often I'll open it up, just to see what? I don't know. But, I don't interact with anyone there, pretty much the same as my non-computer personality. Recently, within the past 6-9 months I'm guessing, I've been receiving "friend requests" there from people who had the misfortune of attending the same grade school as myself. I'm not responding. It does peek an interest in me, though, as to what goes through these people's minds when they ship out such a request. They haven't seen or spoke to that person they knew in over 20 years, and some of them in approaching 30 years now. What Ed is it they think they are contacting? I got news for you folks - I ain't the same person that walked around in this identical DNA casing in 1982, or 1986. Not even close. Do they think they're contacting the nerdy, little (I was short as everyone loved to point out, but I certainly ain't what I'd consider skinny any more), extremely naive, completely uncool, kid they knew him to be? I just don't get it. Or, they just want to catch up? Catch up with what? They want to hear what it's like to raise 2 kids in a divorce situation who happen to have an idiot for a mother? Or they want to know what it's like to raise two high maintenance step kids who lost their father? Or they want to know more about Down Syndrome? Or, they want to know if I went back to my wonderful religious upbringing which they were all so fond of ridiculing since I thought they were all going to hell, or that's what I was taught to know. Or, they want to talk about the porn magazine parties they introduced me not limited by anything, including beastiality, complete with the pictures of german shepherds, and the pigs? My God, the pigs! Or, maybe the underaged drinking that was indulged at their parent's gatherings. I guess it was interesting to watch the local born again kid be born once again into a new world full of cheer, merriment, and booze. Or, perhaps they want to let me know that they still think my father is cool. Now, that's just what I want to hear. I always knew I wasn't. I wasn't allowed to grow up and experience anything close to what it meant to be cool. My average height, not short, father was allowed to grow up knowing that it was okay to want to be and try to be cool, and later change if he so chose, to take on less cool ways. But, he was fortunate to know how to be cool when it counted. Maybe they want me to say how stupid I now think that kid was, and how ridiculous that kid was to believe the dung he'd been taught in the good church. Maybe they want me to say that kid knew they were all talking about him when he wasn't around. Maybe they want me to say he was glad never to be invited to parties, since everyone knew he wouldn't be allowed to go, but they wouldn't have invited him anyway. Maybe they want me to say how funny I think it is that noone showed up to a 7 year old's birthday party. I don't know. What could they possibly want me to say in 2009? That stupid kid they knew is dead. This beast that walks around surrounded by a shell full of the same DNA as he had doesn't believe the nonsense that kid knew, feels that kid was duped and cheated in life from the piety he was forced into, believe that kid got a raw deal growing up. The humliation that kid suffered was completely for naught. He got nothing from it back then, and he inherits nothing from it for his future. No, I'm sorry. You don't know the person you're sending electronic those greetings to folks. He's long since past on into the eternal nothingness. This Ed wants absolutely nothing to do with whatever life that Ed had the misfortune of living.

01/30/09 Hands of Time - holy cow, there's no turning them back. I've been jog/running religiously since May 2008. I do 5 days on, 1 day rest. I've got myself into a pattern for the 5 day stretch as well, varying distance and pace a little. The daily route is always on the walking trail around the development. It's mostly gravel, somewhat wooded, partly paved. I've actually been pleasantly surprised that my arthritis has been diminished quite a bit over the past 3 months or so. I expected it never would. The ankles had really given me pain off an on, so much that it would bring me to a grinding halt at its worse. Like sticking a nail into my ankle and not being able to get it out. Other than that, my right knee feels like two blocks of wood being banged together. I try to change my foot plant and tighten up my leg muscle to cushion the blow and it seems to help some. But, I really don't know the distance of the loop I do. I was guessing maybe 3 miles at best. My cardiovascular shape seems to be improving somewhat, but it's hard to judge. Today, I got the word from the judge.

See, we had a snow event a few days back, topped off by a period of rain, and then a hard freeze. I can't believe how slick everything is still outside on the walking trail. So, rather than risk it, today I figured I'd do the schoolhouse/wickerton on-the-road loop. I haven't done that loop since Reagan was in office, but it's fairly short as running loops used to go. I would've been really taking it easy back in the day if that was to be my workout for the day. I'm guessing it's just a hair over 3 miles. So, off I went. By the time I got to ascending wickerton hill, which is about halfway, I was really feeling it. I tried to back off the pace just a little, but my pace was pretty mellow already. By the time I got to the top of hill, I was spent. But, I kept on going and eventually finished the loop. A look at my watch, and it was just 29 minutes long. You must be kidding me! I've been on a regular workout now for 9 straight months, and this is all I've got to show for it! I don't think I was quite this dedicated back in the day when I was something special. I'm sure I missed a few day stretch every so often.

So, why am I doing this anyway? It's simple. This running has proven to be the best back therapy I could find. Noone suggested it to me-I just accidentally started it. It is my religion.


01/28/09 Flubbers - I love watching the news. There's always someone to poke fun at. Usually it's the newcasters screwing up words and phrases. Reaching for something on the spur of the moment with their little improvs, and they just screw it up. Just shows they're pretty much all talking heads, and without the teleprompter they're quite lost.

Then, there's the common folk they throw on the camera. Like last night. Now, this poor sod's moment in the spotlight wasn't live TV, so either the news editor was just trying to poke fun at him in a subtle way to those in the audience like I who were astute enough to pick up on it, or the editor was clueless himself. The setting was a gathering in Coatesville, an old steel town not far from here. Coatesville has been suffering through a regular stream of arsons as of late. This report was regarding a large gathering of townfolk who were airing their concerns to local officials. The only clip from the gathering featured an older unidentified black man, dressed as if he was special, but I'm guessing just nicely dressed. He had a microphone, and was addressing the crowd, probably imploring his local officials to action. His 15 seconds of fame went something like this: "I want to make sure that every stone is unturned". Actually, you can watch the video yourself.


01/19/09 Desparate times - I've been pushed to my wits end. The stress of life takes its toll on each and every person. The stress in my life as a divorced father raising my 2 kids who are saddled with a mother who has continually tried to alienate them from me for seven years is one stressor. She is a royal idiot, a bitter woman, someone who has no self respect or dignity, so much full of vengeance she is willing to do anything, including destroying the innocent minds of her own 2 children. She is a disgusting piece of trash. The stupidest thing I ever did besides marrying her was to trust her judgement in putting the best interest of her children above all else. That was foolish of me. She was even more self centered and self serving than I could ever have imagined. One things for sure, her true colors as a human being has shown through over the past 7 years for all the world to see, and if there was ever any doubt I made the right choice to leave her sorry ass (which there wasn't because I never gave it a second thought) she has vindicated me beyond belief. What a Loser that woman is! Throw that backdrop of watching someone abuse your kids for years against a backdrop of raising two additional kids who are high maintenance and then throw a "disabled" toddler into the mix and sometimes the stress in my life goes off the scale. Now, some people might read this wrong and say I regret getting remarried, and all the perks and stress that goes with it, but that is not the case in the least. I have no regrets about where I am, and would do it all over again. The only difference would be I would take my two kids with me. That was my mistake. Leaving them in the hands of a person who has the intelligence of a high school dropout, and the moral compass of a spoiled 8 year old brat. Add to that a totally unsupportive dysfunctional extended family that gave life to me who puts their own selfish interests and their phony projected family image above all else, then throw in the fact that their interests always are sanctioned by god almighty, or at least that's their justification, and my wife and I go it alone, with little extended family support. But, that's nothing new for me - my family didn't support me before I was divorced. They just ratcheted it up a notch over the past 5 years to the point of showing just how hypocritical mankind can be when they seek to serve themselves. Funny thing is, it sure seems that I'm the only one in that family who has made it without a big handout (Angie may be right there with me). Anywho, my decision. I'm giving up drinking. That is tough for me. I love beer. I don't sit in bars and throw them down with my buddies...but, I love to drink around the house and when I go out for dinner. But, the combination of my life stressors and the passion that is invoked when dealing with idiots like the bitter bitch loser ex who leads all her suitors to look down the barrel of a gun, and my god forsaken god fearing brain dead family, well...the booze just doesn't plug into that equation well. We'll see how it goes, but usually when I get to this point of a decision, I follow through. To prove how tough I am, I'm doing no great annoucements, I'm not doing any great symbolic sweep the house for remnants of beer and pour them down the drain like the holy rollers find the need to do about everything... (Isn't it funny how humble Christians are supposed to be, but they can't do anything without creating a stage first)...no, I'm just going about my business. I'll walk past the 1/2 case of pale ale everytime I go in the basement...I'll look at my mostly full bottle of Jack each night, and I'll stick to my guns. It's easy. I've made a decision. End of story. I'm not leaving any outs. Perhaps in my later years after all these kids leave my house, I'll be able to enjoy a smooth pale ale once again without worrying about some stupid moron coming along and upsetting my mojo. But for now, there's just no end in site to the moron parade. My plan to move to Phoenix after the kids are gone remains intact.

01/19/09 Me vs. The Laundry Menace - our dryer hadn't been working well at all. It was getting progressively worse, and got to the point where one might think it just wasn't working at all. Now, I'm a DIYer mostly, but have never been summoned to fix a dryer that wasn't drying. So, I googled what might be wrong with a dryer that wasn't working. Would I need to change some sort of heating element? Or worse? The overwhelming odds on favorite for reasons what a dryer isn't working is reduced air flow. Reduced air flow??? You've got to be sh****g me! That would mean yet again the air flow of the dryer just wasn't happening. Now, we've been in this house for 5.5 years now. A couple years back, I had to disassemble the back of the dryer due to busted pens and various sorts of teen contraband that the oldest mostly failed to remove from his pockets. He's done his own wash for a long time, and has been told repeatedly the importance of emptying pockets. That time, I had a cow because I really thought he busted the dryer. I promised him the next time were he to bust the dryer, he was paying for a new one. (As an aside, he'd recently moved in with his sister and busted her washer within a couple months). Sure enough, I disassembled the dryer vent yet again, and this time was much worse than the time before. There was no way any dryer was going to be powerful enough to move air through all the s*** he had jammed in that vent this time. Now, lucky for him, he was coming home for XMas break. I laid into him pretty good this time. It took me quite a while to redo the dryer vent, and I wasn't at all pleased. I removed about a 6 foot section of it to cut some of the very long escape route off, since it would be a bair to try and clean out on normal times, and I can't imagine a dryer vent should actually be as long as the one Ryan builder left me with. But, thanks to the oldest, I've never really had a need for a normal cleanout yet.

Now, after redoing the dryer vent, lo and behold I wanted to move the washer over about 4 or 5 feet to an updated location next to the dryer, where else?. This launched a massive effort that I'd clearly not expected. First, the stupid Ryan builder has the washer shutoff valves about 8 feet off the ground. I searched but could find no washing machine hoses long enough to make the journey for another 5 feet. This meant I had to move the plumbing over. I'd not cut into this house line yet. It's all cpvc piping for water delivery, and I'd only done copper lines before. (That was no treat I can assure you) So, here was my maiden voyage into the world of cpvc plumbing.


01/13/09 /robots.txt - finally took time to figure out what the purpose of this was. Knew it had something to do with webbots after seeing it repeatedly logged in the webserver log files. So, created my own to keep the webbots from hitting my php based services.


You Misunderestimated me - Huh? I heard that and...SAY WHAT? It was used by W at the opening of his last press conference. I had to look it up. Sure enough, it's not a word. It's considered a Bushism. I never really disliked W that much, but listening to that last press conference, it struck me that he sounded like a rambling old man who'd lost most of his marbles. It struck me as sad to listen to.


Sign of things to come - had to go pick up a kid. Went to put down the garage door. Needed to type in the 4 digit number. What is the number? I stood there. What is the number. Tried my best pick. Again. Again. No response. Another number. Again. Again. No response. Went on for a couple minutes. I couldn't believe this. What is happenening to me? I surrendered. Went inside. Aaron- what is the number to the garage door opener? Huh, he replies in disbelief. What is the number to the garage door opener? A-B-C-D. Oh, yea. Sounds right. Thanks. These little episodes are on the rise, and it is a bit scary.



01/09/09 LOL - you can read. My comment is that's just precious. Chalk up one for the good guys.

01/08/09 Winner or Loser? - I'm starting to believe it's a coin toss. I would classify myself as a "winner" for most of my adult life. I guess I should qualify "winner" as a financial winner. Other facets of my life are probably a draw. But, at the dawn of my 45th year, it's a nagging feeling I hold that for a few years now I've simply been marking time. Holding on with dear to that which I'd already been before, and well, not advancing my cause much at all. In my early work life, what I used to call a "career", I held onto the work ethic that had been inbred to me fairly strongly. It was probably a sort of religion. Believe in the faith, live it, and someday you'll make it to the Promised Land. That worked for my first 13 career years, more or less. After my 10.5 years at my last employ, I think I felt the notion of a career was history. I didn't see myself as any different than any other 9 to 5er. Auto worker, flag girl, whatever. I was trying to hold a job now, not working on a career. Corporate America had let me down, and in a big way. The work ethic wasn't working. Other bizarre forces had crept into my workplace which I had no control over, but which seemed to exercise a huge amount of influence over my destiny. I've been living with this sensation for what seems like over 10 years now. It's taken on different forms, from consulting outfits replacing full time technical people, to the explosion of freeware solutions which compromised abilities to earn a living developing applications, to having vast amounts of work offshored. All these things have destroyed my working psyche. I've no idea how to recover it, or even if it is possible. But, at 45, it's easy to tally that I've got 22 years under my belt. With a full retirement age of 67 way off in the future, well, it's taken all I can muster to get to this halfway point. (Another month or two, and I'll finally be on the other side) That is a long friggin time folks. (I'll continue this later)

01/07/09 Schmedly of PA speaks!!! - This crap with these real estate tycoons who thought any price for a house was a good one is just starting to really get under my skin. Dumba$$e$. I just had to let my mind rip on this Sarah from CA, though she probably won't be back to read it: Oh yea, read Roubini's Article Too.

01/07/09 What A Save!!! - went for my end of day run around 430. First I'd been outside, so first that I noticed it had been slight misting type rain during the afternoon. It was cold enough, so it had started to freeze on overpasses, like my deck. Was fooling with the ipod, walking down the steps. They're a tad steep, about 14 steps I think. Halfway down, it became apparent to me they were a little slick. Immediately, my mind thought...hmm, if I slip and fall down these steps, I'm gonna probably break my back and be in really bad shape, or maybe even do a Travolta-kid like fall. I'd just told the wife last night I remembered she needs to keep me alive for at least 3 more years to get any of my social security retirement benefits and that also popped into my thoughts. So, all this in lightning quick brain time, and I decided I needed to take it very carefully the rest of the way down the steps. I started to reach out for the rail with my right hand just as my left foot touched the next step. My hand never caught the rail. That step was so slick, my shoe never got any traction, and I immediately started to fall down the steps... What happened next is hard to explain, and completely amazing to me. I had a flash instance to know I was doomed. But, I also seemed to have a reaction that said I wasn't going down...but, I had about 7 steps to go! My body resolved itself to stay upright! And, so I did. I stayed upright, all the while I must've been accelerating. My left foot slipped off the first step, then landed on the next. And, it kept on slipping. Off that step, and only the next. I was skiing down the stairs on a solid sheet of ice, on one foot! 3 steps, 4... Then, somehow, I managed to reach out ahead of me with my right hand, grab the railing, take my flailing right leg and get out in front of myself, twist, plant the right foot on the next step, and sling myself airborne over the next 3 steps, landing on two feet facing the ski slope. It was quite the Ripley's believe it or not moment. I chuckled to myself, as I took in a huge sigh of relief. My mind immediately played back over what had happened, and I was in somewhat of a state of shock. I had a soreness in my right arm, where I must've hit the railing some. Did the neighbors see that I wondered? Gosh they must be laughing if they caught that one. I continue to be amazed, and know I could never pull that off again in a million years. Later, I'd realized how miraculous it was as well that I'd never let go of my ipod that was in my left hand through the whole descent.

01/05/09 We.....
So tired of all the darkness in our lives
With no more angry words to say
Become alive
Get into a car and drive
To the other side



Tragic - I love the search queries that pop people to my site. Based on my hits, google is by far the largest search engine for "ed connell". I get quite a few hits from remote regions that are one offs, like the random "ed connell" query from Illinois or California (obviously they ain't lookin for me), but the ones that really crack me up are those from Latvia, Bulgaria, Russian, and China, etc. I mean, really, how many Ed Connells are there in Moscow??? But, I digress. Today, I had a couple hits from Dublin. Now, anyone with a brain could figure I'd get a few from Ireland, but I must say, I don't recall a single query from the homeland till today. But, given there were 2 today, and one of them was actually, "Ed Connell Tragedy", well, what more can I say. Either something bad has happened to my namesake in Ireland, or someone is trying to tell me something. I'm not sure which I prefer, but I'm thinking the latter is a lean to....

01/04/09
  • Return to home base. Check.
  • Fully disengage brain. Check.
  • Engage mouth. Check.
  • Select Galactically Stupid Statement Generation Module. Check.
  • Run Module Till Ed Goes Insane. Check.



Coping mechanisms - in the midst of this agony called my life (see 12/29/08 below) there are moments that are unique and uplifting enough to help me through. Last night my mailbox alarm went off at 445am. I gotta tell ya, I find it really hard for the eyes to get focused at that time of morning... But, I digress. A couple weeks ago, it was actually a cat that set it off. I expected the same. However, this time there were 3 or 4 deer just mosying about through the front yard. Very nice. Then, this afternoon the wife was shampooing the carpet as one of the final steps in the extreme makeover that is my living room, and being able to watch my babydoll just dart around the room spinning dancing just having a blast while the shampooer was going. It was a real treat. Then...the return shortly later and well, I'm quickly shocked back into reality. One more day till I'm back to work. I'm not sure which facet of my life is worse...

01/03/09 Annoying IE Clicking Sound - after wasting your time looking through IE Internet Options where you'd assume this is configured (I'm guessing about 5 minutes should do it before you give up), you'll be oh so pleased to find it under ControlPanel->SoundsAndAudio->Sounds->WindowsExplorer->StartNavigation. Love Ya Mister Softee!


Variety Club Stoops to Autism Fad - I remember the channel 6 telethons from years gone by with the varied stories meant to tear at your heart and get you to call in. I've nothing against that. People need to be aware of real struggles people with disabilities face and given that too often they're kept out of the mainstream it's too easy for so called normal people to forget there's huge great need out there. I just got my annual request for a donation. I like Variety Club, really. But, they've also stooped to the trendy commercialism that is Autism in their plea for money. I'm sorry, there's just too many other folks out there dealt a galactically worse hand than this Autism Crowd for the VC to be stooping to the trendiness in their plea for money. I know why they are doing it. I just find it horribly distasteful. Let's take the Autism Fad out of the spotlight now, and try to raise greater awareness for people who are dealing with real disabilities, shall we? Those needs didn't just start in the past decade or so.

01/02/09 Good for Nothing Doctors - I'm wondering what percentage of people doctors see that they actually help. Less then 10% I'm guessing. By and large everytime I visit one it's pointless. Bad colds, etc they just send you home and say live with it till it goes away. Then, my babydoll is obviously sick and they do nothing to help. She had a cold for 2 weeks, missed school for a week. She's got RAD/Asthsma already against her. They prescribed a steroid for a week. After that was over they then said to go on a preventative twice a day routine of flovent or something just to keep ahead of things whenever she does get a cold. So, after the roids, she was marginally better for maybe a day or two. Then, the cold starts to come right back. Each day the cough got a little worse. She makes frequent visits to AI Dupont, and a couple days ago she got to go to one of those. While she was there, they listened to her breathing and well, "she's okay". WHAT!!!!???? I couldn't believe it. This is followed by a couple more days of it getting worse, and yesterday I had to blow my stack. This is just ridiculous. The nightly sleep deprivation might be starting to wear on me, but I just had to vent, which she can't do at the moment. The wife goes on the defensive, and I couldn't blame her? I was blaming the doctors. What was needed here? Let's see, if she dies from respiratory failure then I guess they would finally figure out she's got a problem? I scream, "Has anyone even stopped to think she may have nuh-mone-nia??? A four week cough just can't be good!" So, this vent led to another trip to the pediatrician this morning. The wife brings her home, and doesn't say much to me. I had to ask. Why do I have to ask I'm wondering? "She's got nuh-mone-nia", she says kind of sheepishly. Now, I ask, why couldn't any of the 3,4,5 doctors she's seen over the past 4-5 weeks have done anything to prevent this from happening?


Final Laps - Today I wrap up the living room. It's been a job that's continued into its 2nd winter now. There were a few phases to the project. The results are fairly spectacular. One review from my SD, "It's like a picture out of a magazine" Now, that maybe true, but a magazine picture probably would be a little generous on covering up some of the imperfections, of which there are a few. But, by and large, it's pretty nice. I slapped on the crown molding yesterday. Today I need to run a few touchup laps. One for the caulked border on the crown molding ceiling edge, one over the crown molding for the filled nail holes, and one final lap of deep red on the exposed drywalls to fix up all the marks made putting up the crown molding. This was one lap I didn't anticipate making, but that was foolish to think I could throw up crown molding without marking up the walls some. It was more than some. I'll be glad to do the final cleanup with this project. It's probably the longest running home improvement project I've ever done in 20 years, and probably the nicest looking results. I'll have to publish a picture tour.


I'm Done! - boy, that took longer than I expected, as usual. Course, baby sitting distractions kept me from getting started till around noon. The caulked edge on the crown required a very exacting paint job on both laps. The crown covering turned into adding a whole extra coat on the whole molding to be neat about it. I didn't finish both passes on the crown till about 430. I was tired, and very sore. Something about working all day on bare feet seems to make running on the feet very painful I've noticed. After running and dinner and a shower, I decided to go for it. I was just too close to leave it go another friggin day. So, I went for the walls. They were a little more of a hassle since they needed cut in against both the crown and the wainscoting. I found using the free hand to steady myself makes cutting in a little more steady in itself. By 930 I'd wrapped up the walls and screamed for a beer. It's about time. The room looks grand. Someday I'll hopefully do hardwood floors in there which would be the perfect final accent.

01/01/09 Economic Casualties of 2008 - I know bankruptcies are sure to be coming soon en masse, and thought I'd jot a list of them as I come across. Does anyone else remember Jamesway? So, anyway, last night I saw a blip on a tv border tape on a new years eve special about Petty Enterprises. (Who the heck were those Fox announcers? They were awful) So, I rewound. Petty Enterprises is gone! I knew Bobby had lost his primary sponsor, as have so many other teams. But, as a prior champ, I had to think he was gonna get another. Not necessary now. Richard Petty had just recently sold his interest in Petty Enterprises to a private equity firm last year to lots of hype about how the new owners would invest heavily in the franchise and bring it back to its former glory. That never happened. The 43 car is owned by a non Petty now, and Kyle's 45 car is now a thing of the past. Bobby still doesn't have a ride for 2009. I do hope he lands on somewhere, soon with a promising team.



2008 Financial Graveyard
  • Linens 'n Things
  • DollarLand - Pencader Plaza, 12/31/08. Everything's now $0.58
  • KB Toys - odd for a toy store to under just before Christmas. Employed about 11000
  • Jack Kellmer Jeweler - denies due to the recession, but I don't buy it. Jewelers have been killed this holiday season. And, if he's selling for the real estate, it's a little late now.
  • Oskar Huber Furniture - these TV commercials have been a staple of our lives for years. Taking D&D Home Furnishings with them.
  • Pilgrim's Pride - nation's largest chicken producer; filed for Chapter 11 in December.
  • LyondellBasell - world's 3rd largest independent chemical company goes Chapter 11, 1/6/09.
  • Gottschalks - 01/14/09, retailer on the west coast
  • Nortel Networks - technology giant in telecomm, a staple name from the early dot com years as I recall.
  • Goodys LLC - privately held retailer in Southeast.
  • Circuit City - 2nd largest consumer electronic firm in US; 35000 employees.
  • Smurfit-Stone - container company, largest cardboard packaging company in US
  • Spansion - flash memory maker
  • Charter Communications
  • Amici Mie - Italian restaraunt in Kennett Square on site of old Hugos Inn. Didn't last very long.

12/30/08 Tonight was scream at a kid night and try to make him wake up. He was poising himself to leave with his dorm clothes all loaded up in a clothes basket. I guess it was a veiled threat. Dorms don't open for another week. Of course, his mother was all upset. I just said "Go on big man. You think you can make it on your own, all the power to you tough guy." Of course, mother won. We then had a nice long quite tense conversation. They always start hot and heavy then end with a wimper. He never gets a clue so I know we're always wasting our breath. I made another one of my classic ingenious teachable moments. I offered him 1000 bucks if he can make it through 2009 without playing a single video game. I know I'll never have to pay that out.

12/29/08 What I did on Winter Vacation - subtitled why I hate my friggin life. Being around kids is never an uplifting part of life. I so can't wait till they are out of my house. 5.5 more years, at least. I'm moving to Phoenix or some far away location not shortly thereafter. The country seems very much doomed to me with this next generation of video game zombies (males) and MyFaceSpaceBook-Aholics (females) that are coming up through the ranks.

12/28/08 Good riddance 2008. Year's almost over. Though, I have a feeling 2009 is gonna be a whole lot worse. This economy is going to hit a lot more people in a lot more real way the over the next 365 days. I remember trying to land my first real job in 1981-82. It was dang difficult. Flipping burgers was hard to get. You couldn't drive anywhere without seeing sign after sign of space for lease. Businesses boarded up everywhere. I don't see that in 2008 just yet. It's coming, I'm sure. What are the options for a 45 year old man who's sat at a desk for 22 years? My body isn't much suited for any sort of manual labor any longer. That severly limits my options when my a$$ get's canned. The great thing about living with stay at home mothers is I never have a backstop as Uncle Sam likes to call them. Everyone needs me. Oh well, I'm not worrying yet.

Transitioning to putting up the crown molding and will start to prime the wainscoting today. The rest of the walls are painted and they look pretty good. I'm always too critical of my results to just enjoy it with a "that looks nice". I always put my primary lasting focus on the imperfections. Hmm. That really seems to pervade my entire being, probably in all aspects of my life. Thanks Dad.

12/21/08 Growing up is hard to do - today was one of those wonderful teachable moments. A little ice on the roads this morning, temps about 32 or so. Oldest called in late, then had the female on the other end talk him into just not coming in at all. "If the guys in the shop say anything tomorrow, tell them I told you to", or something like that. Well, he seemed a little giddy he got the day off. I waited an hour or so, then ventured out. Sure enough, the roads were largely wet. So, I came home and had one of my strongly delivered teachable moments. He sulked out the house, and sulked back in when he returned. I'm sure he just wanted the day off, and doesn't see the big picture at all.

Computer break - time to start wrapping up the wainscoting/paint job I started last year. Last year was interrupted by back issues so it's been just sitting there till this winter. I did the wainscoting all "by hand". Cut all the stiles, panels, and routed all the mouldings myself. It was very painstacking, laborious work. I just wrapped up the nail fills, and caulking. It looks pretty sweet I must say. The thing I was most worried about was the transition from the adjacent room baseboards to the squared baseboards in the newly done room. I just redid them yesterday, and it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. Started to prep now for the rest of the room and well, we'll see how it goes. Should be likely the nicest looking room in the house. Course, I've been sick most of this week and that hasn't helped at all. Of course, that just figures, since I'm using up all my saved vacation now.

12/19/08
Review: Countrywide


So, I watch financial news channels. Don't know that it benefits me all that much, really. Financially anyway, which should be the point of watching them. But, recently all the talk about the Fed buying mortgage related paper, and how mortgage rates were plunging as a result, and well, all people should consider refinancing. So, what better way to determine if it makes sense to refi than to call your current mortgage company? Always seems to me to be a conflict of interest there, but I figured I'd give it a shot.

So, the wife makes the first call. She comes away with some figures, and a promise of an email detailing the terms. Figured we'd cut the loan term to 15 years, since on the face of it, I'm looking at 25 years remaining on my current 5.5% loan. I was always tickled pink with my 5.5. It's a pretty sweet deal, and I know...but times may be sweeter now?

Well, we didn't get the email, so I made a call last night. Went through the same routine with a different Countrywide broker. I probably intro'd the call in the same way...We just we wondering if it makes sense to refi. Now, I guess there's some wiggle room in that statement, but obviously, the implication is DOES IT MAKE SENSE FOR ME!!!!!. I got the same schpeel that the wife got, same terms I believe. And it was amazing to me how he took my current 124858 balance, and got me a wonderfully new 130000 loan, after closing costs...and while the new rate was 4.875 for 15 years (obviously better than 5.5) after the closing costs, the APY he says was 5.5 and some change...

Now, I'm not a quick study, but something just smelled like a rat to me. But, this is my current mortgage company, and I told the guy that company is owned by the same employer as I work for since we bought them out, and surely they wouldn't be ripping me off??? So, I calculated the interest savings on the new loan, and it came out to a substantial 40-60K. Okay...Bob's your uncle. The wife called in and made the application and spent the $350 to do so.

Well, I'd prepared a spreadsheet for myself years ago which projects the amount of time I need to pay off my mortgage if I prepay a certain dollar amount each month. I religiously prepay an extra 75 a month, so I'm on course to cut the 30 year to 22 years already. Something still bothered me about this refi so at 4am this morning when I had to get up with a sore throat, and couldn't get back to sleep, I dusted off my spreadsheet. Sure enough, if I bump the monthly prepayment to be identical to the new 1019 payment amount with the new 15 year loan, I'll pay off my current loan in... drumroll please....15 YEARS!. Give me a friggin break. So, Countrywide gets a Two Thumbs Down rating in my review of customer friendly and honest people to do business with.

The wife is trying to get the $350 application fee back. I think that's only fair since these hucksters tried to cause me undo aggravation for benefit only to themselves.

12/17/08 Cramer Plagarism? - probably not. Maybe it's just too obvious. But, if it were, then why would Cramer make it an outrage of the day? Hey, this is my outrage of the day. Friday last week, it occurred to me that the Bernie Madoff scandel was no worse than the current social security system. So, I emailed that to Cramer. Perhaps he would use it in his letter segment. Well, I was certainly aroused when he started to do his outrage of the day today, and seemed like he was reading straight from what I'd wrote him. Here's what I sent him last Saturday night:

Subject: Franklin Delanor Madoff
Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2008 20:19:32 -0500
From: Ed Connell
To: madmoney@cnbc.com

Cramer!

From "The Times" regarding Bernie Madoff's "funds":
"A Ponzi scheme, named after the swindler Charles Ponzi, is a fraudulent investment operation that pays abnormally high returns to investors out of money put into the scheme by subsequent investors, rather than from real profits generated by share trading.

The FBI complaint states that Mr Madoff told his sons that he believed the losses from his scheme could exceed $50 billion. If that is the case, his fraud would be far greater than past Ponzi schemes and easily the greatest swindle blamed on a single individual."

Jim:

I ask you as an intelligent, free-thinking, individual. Are there not at least mildly interesting parallels between Madoff's scheme and the Social Security system? Granted, Bernie didn't have confiscatory powers, like Uncle Sam does, but I had to laugh at the CNBC commentators (who I actually like) going on and on about the red flags that must've been so obvious regarding the Madoff methodology. I don't know. Seems too much like the current SS funding structure to get up in arms about for me.

"Pennsylvania Ed"


Now, like I said, Cramer used this idea as his Outrage Of The Day. Then, he gave credit....TO HIS NEPHEW! I couldn't believe it. Here's his nephew's blog dated MONDAY

12/14/08 Sessions in vim - :mksession session_name will save the current session. vim -S session_name loads vim as the restored session.

12/13/08 Today's Story - an update on Yahoo Finance this morning to the Ultimate Alliance of Wussies. Angry UAWussies Lash Out at Southern Senators Well, that's it! It's high time for the goon squads to show their true Red-Black-n-Blue colors. How about some good old fashioned vandalism? How about setting fire to the local offices of some of these senators? That's what these Union clowns resort to when they don't get their own way isn't it? We all know it. Maybe take a senator and give him a new pair of cement shoes and throw him in the Potomac? Come on you tough guys. Where's your solidarity? Oh, that's right. You need to behave this time because you're F****D. The good old free market has finally caught up to you and well you need the rest of us to bail your sorry hides out. They had a great illustration on CNBC last night. Where's the justice of asking 4O Million people who DON'T HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE to subsidize these union prick's bloated benefit structures? That's right, it's completely immoral and unjust. But, that's what me and everyone else will be required to do now. It's a travesty that's what it is. These goons should be tossed out on their rears for the last time.

12/12/08 WinTv; a 2nd L@@K - well, I was mentioning below how WinTv wasn't all that difficult to setup. Then, yesterday I got a response on their forum about downloading the "latest" hybrid software from the forum, which was I'm assuming the latest and greatest, but just hadn't made it to the master company website. So, I downloaded, uninstalled, reinstalled latest, and set about. Ouch. First problem was most of the minimum configuration I'd had was lost, and I didn't recall how to get back. So, I struggled to try to get back, and ouch. I wound up uninstalling, reinstalling about 6 times and could never get back to where it was before. I threw in the towel, and went back to that which I had. That of course required another uninstall and reinstall, and another effort to try and get my settings back. It was pretty dang simple. Bottom line was the "hybrid" was very very buggy in my estimation.

So, my original bug was still there. I took a different approach and used my new rails expertise to create a database with channels and use that to invoke the gbpvr HaupBlast.exe program to select the channel when I want to change it. It works the first time and everytime.


Congrats to the Senate - Okay, I'm too cynical to think they did it all on principal. It was all politics, and they would've went for it if they didn't have Bushey as an out. They get to vote against it, and pass the buck onto a gravely unpopular president who's just gonna take one for the team. The Rep Senators get to save face, and Bush looks like a hero to the UAW. How damn hypocritical is that you bunch of Labor Goons!!! Bush is your Savior! Cracks me up, but it shows just what you're all made of!

12/11/08 They're coming to take me away... - Oh well. Nothing's a sure thing. Maybe I'll dodge yet another bullet. This is when it's not a good thing to be Not a company man. But, some things are just not worth selling your soul for. So, whatever comes my way, I'm ready for it. 35K jobs to be lost. 300K to start. Hmm...do the math. A little over one in 10. All things created equal, all things fair, I've always been a top 10% type. But, where "the company" is concerned, well, there are too many intangibles that go into making the grade at this place. I told my manager about 10 years back now..."I was raised on a set of values Bob, and I always have held those values be the key to success. It has just become obvious to me since I've been here, Bob, that me and ***insert your favorite company name here*** just don't hold the same set of values." Nothing I've seen since then has changed my mind. So, square peg, circle, and maybe it's time that me and they finally part ways. Would be another one of life's great ironys. I lasted just over 10 years at my last job, then the layoff. I've been here just over 10 now. But, I used to think I was good enough to be one of the last to turn out the lights. I was that at my old job. This one? Naw. We just never saw eye-to-eye. Sure wish I had a nice UAW Jobs Bank to tap into. Those morons just don't have a clue.

12/10/08
The Ultimate Alliance of Wussies (Part Deux)

So, the socialist leaning media is pulling out all the stops to get Uncle Sam to step in and fund some extended paydays for the auto companies. Here's a great apologist story for the fatted calf called the UAW, which should be slaughtered once and for all. Some great truth telling there, huh? Bullocks. (That's Queen's English for some great foul slang word). Let's dig a little deeper. 45, 50, 48, 75. All these dollar figures an hour. FOR WHAT? These monkeys aren't skilled labor. They're a bunch of drunken overpaid dinosaurs that have long lived past their natural point of extinction. What brain power does it take to work an assembly line these days? I'll tell you. Nada. It's all friggin automated. They stand there with a fist up their ass and watch the robots piece the vehicle together. Then, stamp the seal of quality. Inspected by Paul #45. They make way too damn much money, get way too many perks, and don't know a damn thing about automobiles. Half of them probably can't jump start their own car without getting a face full of acid. But, don't piss in your pants tough guy. Help is on the way.

12/09/08 A pull my hair out moment - sometimes it's good to sport a buzz cut. I'd pretty much finished up my rails tutorial shopping cart with all the sexy Ajax features, feeling like I'm getting the hang of it pretty well, but something about my display just didn't look right. The shopping cart is created and displayed in the sidebar of the store front page. The line item just didn't look right to me; font was too big, and when I got into an item count of double digits the whole cart started to bleed into the main part of the page. Something just wasn't right.

Well, it's only a tutorial, so I could just ignore it. But, something in me just hates to do that because I'm likely skirting a learning moment. So, I decided to take a crack at it. How hard could it be?

I started to fool with the stylesheets, etc. Could find nothing that specifically set a font in question. Just font=smaller. That's it.

To check my sanity, I started another rails instance with the solution set. That's nice they provide it, and nice that it's easy to start another instance in rails. Sure enough, their font was nice and small. Damn hard to read, but that wasn't the point. Why wouldn't mine match???

So, I swapped their stylesheet into my instance. That didn't work. That makes no sense. I must have a mistype or mismatch on my divisions. Nope. Examining the page source showed no such difference.

Long story short. Each Rails app generates a default stylesheet with the scaffolding process. It's called scaffold.css. Well, somewhere along the way, they removed that from being included the shopping cart tutorial. I was pulling that in along with the customized application stylesheet. Was driving me completely nuts.

12/07/08
The Ultimate Alliance of Wussies

Reality Check - so, how would I mimick the tough UAW membership to get myself through the tough times ahead? Go cry to your big rich uncle that times are so tough(true), and you're stuck in the middle of it(true), and you're here through no fault of your own(LIE), and if you don't give me some help there's gonna be so much pain and misery all around(mostly your pain which is deserved). Unc, the pain'll be so much worse than giving me this million dollar "loan" which I promise to repay, when my fledgling business picks up(IF EVER). Course, I've got nothing to sell at the moment, and noone trusts me enough to buy my garbage now or later, but I promise I'll pay you back. Really. Promise. Honest Injuns. But, after this loan runs out in a couple months, I'll probably need a few more loans until that point where someone is willing to buy my dung. What a gang of losers these auto clowns are. Big tough union guys. What a bunch of pansy momma boy wussies.

12/06/08
Product Review - WinTV HVR1600


This Internal PCI Analog Tuner is fairly nice. I've used it quite a bit for recording TV shows. In the age of FIOS and digitally encrypted signals and vendor provided recording devices, it's definitely of minimal additional value. Primary features I like now are my commercial removal capabilities, and my dedicated 500GB of space for video recordings, which far exceeds the capacity of the Verizon DVR. Of course, the recorded analog signal certainly isn't of the same quality as the Verizon DVR. Configuring the recording software is also very time consuming. I've got it in decent working order now using an open source product called GBPVR as my recording software. With GBPVR I also use a paid service called Schedules Direct to provide the TV Guide listings for my local area.

Biggest complaint right now is with the WinTV program. I use this only to watch LiveTV, and that usually only during work hours when I'm stuck at my desk trying to pass the time. WinTV does not know how to change the channel when it first starts. I need to start it, kill it, then restart it and only then does it know how to change the channel via the IRBlaster/SetTopBox. I've finally sent a support email to Hauppauge to try and get some resolution.


Daily Dose of Ed


I'm holding off on moving forward with the HardDisc replacement to try and fix my desktop hanging condition. Personally, I can't believe at this stage of personal computer evolution there's no way to effectively diagnose this issue. But, that seems to be the way it is with what are perhaps hardware issues. I gotta admit, I think software certainly behaves more logically than hardware. Either or, I've taken an outside shot at a different course of action for the moment. I'm routing my cable input to my WinTV card through a surge protector prior to entering the PC. Hopefully, that'll work some miracle for me.


12/05/08 Be Labor the Point - so it looks like the auto "workers" (use that term loosely folks) and the auto companies and all their auto company tentacles are going to get their bailout. As is so typical in modern day society, incompetence is rewarded at the expense of hard work, ingenuity, and general greatness. Yes, the foreign auto makers will now have to compete against a poorly managed, poorly staffed, but highly subsidized competitor putting out an inferior product. And the great thing is there's no incentive for them to be great. They played their hand, and came out on top. Sucks, but life's hardly fair. What would be fair is for these UAW goons to be thrown out on their asses for the last time, and not called back for once. That's the real world, you morons! Just a shame you don't have to live in it. And people say they expect excellence out of teachers and everyone else. (Notice it's "everyone else") Bullshit. People don't want excellence. They love ignorance, laziness, entertainment, and just generally anything except greatness. I see it so much in my surroundings. People this day don't admire greatness. They envy it so much whereever it's found they must loathe it because, well, by and large it eludes them because they don't have what it takes to achieve it themselves. Takes too much effort and it's just so much easier to sit in front of the boob tube soaking up ESPN and faking your way into greatness through fantasy football.


Rails progress - As previously mentioned, I restarted my whole rails endeavors. I'm back to about the point where I was last go round on adding Ajax to the shopping cart. Why I'm so tickled is because I'm actually starting to feel like a developer with this stuff. This time through, I'm not just typing in along with the book. I'm anticipating what the tutorial is wanting, then updating the process only referring back to the example as necessary. I just got stumped for a while, as coders often do, and couldn't figure out what the problem was. Everything seemed right, but it wasn't displaying. Looked at logs, added some log statements of my own. Then, wait a minute. I had the render(:partial) calls correct, it was running through the rendering code, but it wasn't displaying any of the results...what gives? Then, it dawned on me. Sure enough. My render() calls were encapsulated in the <% %> tagging construct instead of the <%= %> construct, so the output wasn't being embedded in the page. Duh.
UPS a bust - actually, the UPS is running fine. Trees haven't taken down any power lines in the last 24 hours, so how would I know otherwise? Why it's a bust is because shortly after powering up the desktop this morning, it froze up again. So much for the UPS cleaning up my dirty electricity. It's probably not dirty at all and I pretty much just blew 300 bucks to find out. I succumbed to asking an "expert" on JustAnswers and after going back and forth he suggested I start with a fresh OS install, possibly on a new HD. OMG, give me a break. Not what I wanted to hear, but I'm sure I'll give it a whirl someday.

12/04/08 Don't Interrupt Me - Today I took another step deeper into the world of geekdom. I received my newly purchased UPS. I can't believe I've come to buying an uninterruptible power supply for my computer equipment. It took a long long time before I succumbed to any sort of virus protection software afterall. Actually, I'm not currently running any. I just run Spybot S&D to keep me covered now, but that's a whole different story.

Back to my UPS. I ordered what I think is a fairly decent one. An APC SUA750 Smart UPS. Now, I know ACS has been in this game for years, since my old colleague recommended me to buy APC stock some 12 years ago now. This unit ran me $284.99 on TigerDirect where I'm purchasing the majority of my computer accessories these days. They were running a black friday $1.99 shipping special on anything under 50 pounds. The one I really wanted was over 50, so I downgraded to this one. It probably meets my needs adequately.

It comes with 6 plugs. As with most power devices, the plugs are too closely spaced to fit all the assorted shapes of these goofy plugs that stupid electronics firms feel the need to make. What, they think we care about how stylish their plugs are? Why can't we standardize on the size of a stupid plug for crying out loud in the 21st century? Anywho, that just means I need to continue to hang a surge protector off the UPS to manage these other goofy plugs, like for my speakers, USB hub, etc. The main desktop and monitor are directly plugged into the UPS thankfully. Reading on will show why that's important to me...

So, why the UPS? Actually, its me waving the white flag yet again. This is an epic saga of me vs. my desktop computer. I'd bought the original desktop shortly after my 1st marriage separation in 2001. It was just after XP was released, I bought it from Artec, a build custom computer shop with a decent reputation (out of business now), and was pretty confident with it. Somewhere along the line, it began to exhibit a freezing condition. Random, lock up the keyboard, mouse, required a reboot. Well, I got tired of this after a few years, and decided to try and do something about it. I had just replaced the HD and reinstalled everything, so that couldn't be the problem. I decided I'd try to replace the MoBo and see if that helped. Well, stupid me. I bought a MoBo which pretty much meant every other part on that computer needed tossed except for the HD which I didn't want to replace and reinstall yet again. So, off I went. New MoBo, CPU, memory modules, power supply, tower case, yup, the whole magilla. After I finally got it up and running, well, I'm not sure for how long, well, again it started to hang, just as the old one. Talk about pissed.

The only thing I'd not really considered and I forget where I heard it, was possible I have some sort of dirty electricity in this room. So, that's where the UPS finally comes in. I'm hoping it will level out any electric problems, and make my hanging condition go away. In reality, I think I'm just stuck with it. It's Kharma.

I'll report in with anything I learn in the setup process. Oh yea, and I have an entry to make regarding FTP. Some annoying contractor at work thinks my name is Google and thinks I'm a search engine and I might as well post my findings for him since he's too lazy to look things up for himself. I guess that should be a complement that someone thinks I'm a more reliable and efficient knowledge resource than the whole world of google. I just find it very annoying.

Update - well, I'm back. Took about a half hour, so how bad could it be? There is a certain amount of confusion. Reading the user manual, connecting cords, all that is fairly routine. The confusion came in the recommendation to install the associated "PowerChute" software that came with it. Okay, how hard could it be? Install a CD. Typical. It autoruns. Also typical. That's where typical ended. You need to figure out if you want basic or deluxe (free or go buy something else). Easy enough, we want free. Then, click to install basic, and it presents you with 3 confusing button activated choices. I had no friggin idea which button I wanted. I clicked a couple, then cancelled both times before they finished because I wasn't sure what they wanted me to do. So, I clicked a different button at the bottom of the page, which brings up the help system. Using that, I figured out first that I needed to first attach a USB cable from the UPS to my computer. Would've been easier to have done that before I fitted it into the tight spot I've got. Then, clicked through the 3 install buttons, and set the thing up. It finished successfully. It apparently will now send alerts to my email and broadcast on the network when an event occurs (big deal, sarcasm added). The console window I like though. I can peek in on how the UPS has been doing. It looks like it will tell me about how the electric line is doing and hopefully I'll then be able to see if that may be the source of my hanging problems. Time will tell.

Permissions after FTP'ing a file - this one's for you Shamesh. After ftp'ing a file, you can sometimes enter the ftp command quote chmod 666 filename to update the permissions on the file just put. I say sometimes, because the quote command is target specific based on the ftp server you're running against. For example, it may make no sense if you're ftping to a Windows server. That's why it's called an FTP extension, not an FTP native command.

Genius I be - file this one in the "I had a good day at work" category. They are few and far between the older I get. Life consists of routine then more routine to coin a phrase from Shawshank. Anywho, there's been an ongoing issue for gosh, it's been almost 8 months now. Well, someone began to look into it 6 months ago. They passed it from contractor to contractor. Task was pretty simple. Process is coring. Find out why and fix it. Happens routinely everyday, so must be reproducible. Those are the simplest kind. It was determined early on the process was running out of memory. Well, 3-4 contractors later, 6-8 months off and on, and they were no closer to figuring out why than when the first guy started. I got bored and tired of hearing about it, so I started to look at it a couple days before I went on vacation. 4 days of work and I got to the bottom of it. It runs like a champ now. Good to prove to myself once again I'm worth at least 10 contractors on an hourly rate, sometimes much more. Course, I don't earn any more than a typical contractor, but then it wouldn't be called an injustice. I was called a genuis at work before. Heard it through the grapevine, actually. Noone wants to complement me directly since I'm not a company man, and therefore not worthy of receiving such accolades or praise. For example, I'll never hear "good job" from my management after finding this issue that 4 contractors couldn't fix in 6 months. That's what makes my job so satisfying. I wouldn't respect their gratitude anyway since I don't respect them. The ultimate was an issue I fixed last year that we were pulling our hair out about. We were to the point of soliciting help from an external expert who charges $3000 per hour. I finally fixed the issue so we didn't have to pull in any "experts". My bonus didn't even clear $3000 that year. Thanks for nothing, Ed.

12/03/08 VideoLAN 0.9.4 a bust - I upgraded only to hopefully get my Webcam to stream without a software purchase. I threw in the towel on VLC after quite an effort to get it working. Worst still, 0.9.4 breaks my ability to stream my recorded videos from GBPVR. I suppose it may just be an integration issue with GBPVR, but after trying to simply stream a recording using the VLC program itself, it seemed to get awfully confused with the mp3 I was telling it to stream, and the commercial skip files that comclean.bat uses to do its thing. Bottom line for me is I prefer things to work, and if that means going back a rev, then so be it. I've reverted back to VLC 0.8.6c, which seems to be what other folks have also done, and enjoyed watching last nights new episode of House on the wife's laptop. Beats waiting for the reruns.

11/30/08 Down time. Little electronic to speak of. Was off work for 3 days, plus one for Turkey day, plus a weekend, and what the heck did I get done? Not much of nuttin. Dug up and moved 7 bushes from the front beds and laid on the hillside perimeter of the swale. Was alot of work. Did 2 a day. Also spent too dang much time taxiing kids to and from school crap. I need to start another list. Really don't feel like doing anything.


Enough with the Autism Already! - I'm treading on thin ice here, but I don't much care. I'm going through the ARC connections listings for our county. Every other listing here, and there's about 20 pages total has something to do with Autism, or the code words for Autism. This is just insanity, no pun intended. There is not an Autism epidemic. There is a herd mentality epidemic to railroad everything people don't like about their kid's abnormal behaviors into a new life category. Yes - Autism is the new catch all for everything that annoys the hell out of people about children. Trust me, I've got four non-disabled kids and they are all disabled in their own way. I could say they all have Autism probably. So, why the heck am I so sensitive to it? Because, scarce monies and resources are being dispropotionately misappropriated to the autism crowd to the deference of people with real disabilities. That's right - real disabilities. I'm calling it like I see it. We've personally been shunned by service providers who seem to think the only legitimate disability of the modern era is autism. This is a crime against humanity of the really disabled folks. I'm sorry - I don't consider you autism folks to be in the really disabled crowd.

11/22/08 http delete - This caught me off guard. Never knew there was such a thing.

11/19/08

Watershed - what's a watershed anyway? I'm gonna look it up. There you go. It's the time after which sex can be broadcast on Canadian TV. Wait, not that one. This one: a critical point marking a change in course. That's what I've been fortunate enough to have today. I'll not indict the cast of characters who finally brought me to this elevated state of consciousness, but I did find a certain amount of sheer pleasure in finally bringing it a close. In the immortal words of the Brothers Coen, "you will find a treasure - though it will not be the treasure you seek". And, so it is.


11/18/08

A Rant - it's been a while since I've had a good rant. This one is probably an easy one. Big 3? Big Deal. What's so great about the Big 3? They're dinosaurs from a different era, and they should suffer the same demise. Extinction. There's nothing modern about the US auto makers. But, sure, a dog and pony show for the government. The game is pretty predictable now. Say you're in grave financial danger due to unforeseen economic circumstances, through no fault of your own of course, and threaten the nation that if you're not given large amounts of taxpayer assistance the whole country is in great peril. Well, I gotta say, tough. I've bought American cars all my life, except for the bad experience I had with a used Accord. But, I don't much care. These auto makers need to get a huge reality check. They are a symbol of largess from years gone by. They're locked down by union bosses who get pay for their members that is just too damn much. Should I get fired from my job, what's the chance I'll be able to work on an auto assembly line? Nil. Why? Because I've got a brain, that's why. But, in addition to that big mark against me, these jobs are reserved in for union cronies. If I get laid off I'll get a small package, then I'll need to scramble my ass off to get another job. Have these auto workers ever had to live by the same rules? Heck no. They get laid off, paid, rehired, laid off, paid, rehired. What do these yutzes have to do to invest in their continued employment? Anything? Heck no. I've got to bust my tail continually to keep up with the latest stuff just to be able to stand a chance at getting a job. These bozos are too concerned with their 20 minute smoking break every 2 hours, making sure they have cash for a pack of smokes, making sure they get to stop on the way home from the bar and have enough coin to throw a case of Bud in the back of their Toyota Tundra, making sure they can get home to watch ESPN, making sure they can treat the whole gang for the tailgate at the Eagles game. They live the goddamn life of friggin Reilly, and it's high time for it to end. Get out and compete in the real world you lazy bunch of yutzes. The best part will be when Uncle Sam has to take over their overly inflated pension fund and that gets pillaged to a fraction of what it should be. That will be justice long overdue for these clowns.


Today I let Bill off the hook. Didn't want him to feel like he was obligated to me. I'll keep plugging along with Rails, and hopefully I'll be able to make something happen. He let me down easy, and told me to keep going what I'm doing.


Creating the rails application

  • rails appname - creates the basic rails application, "appname", in the appname folder.
  • cd appname; mongrel_rails - run the rails application, "appname", just created. prove it by entering URL=http://localhost:3000 and viewing the default page view
  • cd appname; rake db:create - not sure about the significance of this but do it anyway. Actually, I believe I just discovered this will read your database.yml file (detailed below) and create the relevant database referenced there.
  • database creation - Database name is up to you, but probably makes sense to call it "appname_development", "appname_test", "appname". I continue with mysql. Use mysqladmin to create the database. mysqladmin -u root -p create appname_development
  • database.yml - this is the database access configuration. For mysql, the following is a good template, though there will be similar sections for test and prod:
    development:
        adapter: mysql
        encoding: utf8
        database: appname_development
        timeout: 5000
        username: <database user>
        password: <database user password>
        host: localhost
        
  • rake db:migrate - this seems redundant, if you setup the database.yml file, and then run rake db:create. If you do not, this will migrate by creating the initial database. Other than that, I'm seeing little distinction in the outcome.
  • create the application scaffolding - this seems like a good idea, if you've a decent idea of a starting point. The name of the controller to be should be determined, and the associated data elements for the datamodel. The book's example is a product, with associated fields of title, description, and image_url. Command is as follows

    ruby script/generate scaffold product title:string description:text image_url:string

  • rake db:migrate - this applies the database migration created by the scaffolding, assuming you supplied database related fields(title,description,image_url) for modeling.
  • schema_migration - this table in the database contains versioning information used in performing migrations.
  • test the scaffolding - making sure mongrel_rails is running, as above, hit http://localhost:3000/controller_name
  • incremental migrations - add a column to the table by first creating a migration using the rake command as follows:

    ruby script/generate migration add_price_to_product price:decimal

  • update the migration file - a rb file created in the last step. Add logic in the self.up method to add the column, and self.down method to remove the column in case of backout.
  • run rake db:migrate to perform the migration
  • data validations - are ideally performed in the model. An examples is:

    validates_presence_of :title, :description

    Some common data validations include:
    • validates_presence_of
    • validates_numericality_of
    • validates_uniqueness_of
    • validates_format_of
    • validates_length_of - this takes the following parameters for example, :minimum => 10, :maximum => 50, or :within 10..50; However, it looks like :minimum and :maximum cannot be used in the same validation
  • Layout elements - appname/public folder contains common folders for images, javascripts, and stylesheets. The controller's standard page file is containes in layouts folder under the name controller.html.erb


Some handy ruby/rails tips:

  • Time in one hour: - 1.hour.from_now
  • Current time: - Time.now
  • time/date formatting: - Time.now.strftime('%a %d %b %Y') or Time.now.strftime('%I:%M:%S %p')
  • number_to_currency - rails default currency display, but must leave plenty of room for improvement based on the number of google hits related to currency formatting.
  • cycle('a', 'b') - cycles through elements of the given array, within a loop, typically used to alternate classids on table rows. Cycle can be named as cycle('a', 'b', :name=>'bicycle') and the elements can be more than 2.
  • remove html tags - string.gsub(/<.*?>/,'')
  • pluralize(number, "time") - pluralize is apparently rails specific
  • Searching an array for an object - I've seen this any number of times in the tutorial, but as of yet haven't committed the syntax to memory. Given an array "@items" of call them CartItems which contain a member object product of class Product, if I want to search the list for a match of object product, use the syntax

    match_item = @items.find {|item| item.product == product }

    This tests for object equality, which basically seems to verify the individual datums of the two objects are also equal in values. To test the match_item for no match, the sytax is

    if match_item.nil?

  • Summing the value of an array - for given array @items. I'll be committing this syntax to memory eventually, just from constant use. My brain is a little slow that way, especially at this age. If it's not 2nd nature, it's not in my head at all.

    @items.sum {|item| item.quantity}
  • Rails objects to model file names - I'm not sure exactly the syntax here, but when I reference a new model object, call it Cart, it will be found in a file cart.rb. If on the other hand, I reference a new model object called CartItem, notice the capital 'I', then it will be found in a file called cart_item.rb

Yet another handy list of regular expressions:

  • String ends in gif, case insensitive - %r{\.(gif|jpg|png)$}i


11/17/08

Bit the bullet - just decided continuing this curent plan is silly. I'm wading through this rails book on an old version of rails, the target environment is a more current 2.0 rails install, and what the heck am I doing? Okay, maybe a stall tactic, but the beta book is available in PDF form and it's only 60 bucks for that and the paperback preorder, so a couple clicks and away I go. I guess I'll amazon this paperweight version of the book now.


11/16/08
  • Back to the grind - I took a break from rails hopefully to let my initial immersion sink in. About two weeks, and it's been long enough. Back to see if I have what it takes to make something out of this stuff.

  • Seven - watched this movie over the course of two nights. Can't ever finish a movie in one sitting at my age now. Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman and some other guy. Was good.
  • .vimrc - this note is only relevant to gvim running under cygwin. The .vimrc file is just like on Unix, from the home directory. I assume for non-cygwin launches, that there's a alternate file in the "Program Files/Vim" area. Here's my .vimrc file, if you're in need of one. Features include my own color scheme, alt-tab buffer rotation similar to VC++, backup to ~/backup, insert spaces for tabs, and I forget what else.
  • IE Content Advisor - stupidest dang thing. Thanks again Mister Softy. Complaint from the field, "Uh, Dad, every website I try to visit it says administrator password is needed." "Huh? Well, who screwed it up? I didn't touch it." "I don't know. I just got on, and first thing I typed it said it". Well, I knew he was being truthful, because he'd been away all weekend. Here someone had turned on this thing called "Content Advisor" in IE. Great. I'm the only admin on the computer, I didn't turn it on, and I couldn't disable it, either. Stupid Microsoft. Thankfully, we have google now, and they've got a link to an answer. That's a gem as well.

    • Close all internet explorers.
    • (Actually, this is a good time for you to just consider using FireFox)
    • Open regedit
    • Find registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\Ratings
    • Delete the key called, what else, "Key"
    • Now, this is the real ingenious part. Open up IE again.
    • Go to content advisor. Click on "disable"
    • Ready? It requires you to now create a password. A blank one is no good. So, create one.
    • Now, you've disabled content advisor. What a system.

    I know who the culprit was. I've found him trying to hack into the cybersitter on the computer before. He was on the computer all day today, before taking ill. And, what's this? He also downloaded and installed FireFox today late in the day. After he screwed up the computer I bet. That's a smoking gun. He was upstairs barfing his head off. I had a captive audience driving the porcelin bus, so took the opportunity to call up and accuse him of screwing up the computer. He denied of course. He always denys any wrong doing about anything. And the Firefox install today was just hugely coincidental. Oh well, life goes on.


11/14/08

Rude awakening - last year around Thanksgiving there were a couple incidents of theft in the development. The first round I had my new stereo stolen from my truck. About a week later, I heard a noise in the driveway, and a chase ensued. I almost caught them, but they got away. I set out to increase the odds in my favor that they wouldn't get away as easily next time. It's been about a year. I've always had this feeling they would be back again, and now that it's near Thanksgiving again, I've been consciously feeling that I need to get ready. It's just a hunch.

So, last year after the big chase, I installed a small motion sensor on my mailbox which trips an audible alarm in my bedroom. It's usually quiet at night, and can be a bit annoying during the day. People are funny creatures. I've noticed when it goes off during the day, often times people in the house feel a need to look out and see who's just passed by the mailbox.

Just the other night, my alarm beeped once in the wee hours of the morning. I reluctantly ignored it. Then, it beeped again, and again. I got out of bed, kneeled down, and peeked under the curtains. Window was condensed over so I had to wipe a viewport. Nothing. Wait, looks like a cat over there across in the neighbors yard. Cat burgler? Great. Now, I got cat's waking me up.

A couple hours ago, it beeped. That would make it 3:30 AM. I was already awake from a bad dream, something about needing to pick Aaron up, we were late, my sister had destroyed the driver side of my Probe, glass all over the ground...I decided I wouldn't say anything and just let it go... we were off to get Aaron, and d's got plants all over the front of the car. What is up with the plants? Then, I woke up. I guess we'll be late.

So, beeeeep. Out of bed. No moisture on the window thankfully, but my eyes are bleary. Scan the road as I've grown accustomed to doing. Hey, what's that? Two flashlights???? Boy, these guys are brazen as hell, but I knew that already. I watched as the adrenaline started to pour through my veins. The flashlights were darting back and forth shined on one car, but passed it by. Then, started to move up the hill. They weren't walking no dog that's for sure. They were looking for something. I jumped into high gear. Couldn't find my pants (just like last year), but at least it wasn't as cold. I did get some shorts, keys, cell phone, and shoes. Left the gun though. I was off. Diane, always encouraging, went back to bed.

I've been running since May, so I'm in better shape to chase them down this year. I ran up the hill. No flashlights! Dung. Look left, right, left, right. It was quite foggy. Started to the right. There they are. Off in the distance the other way I saw a flashlight. High tailed it trying to stay under cover. Curious why they were moving so fast. Maybe they were outed already. Lost sight of the flashlights. Kept going, looking down cul-de-sacs. Trying to be quiet. Then, there's a car with inside lights on. Maybe they're breaking into that one! Get closer... Dung. It's a cop car. State trooper. And, there's another one. I'd been trying to jump the fuzz?

One cop had just got out of his vehicle and went towards the house who must've called them. I tried to make myself obviously visible to catch their eye so I could at least get an idea of why I was chasing them. Must've got within 10 feet of his car. They never saw me. Isn't that always the way it is? Anywho, I count this as a practice run and validation that I stand a decent chance of nailing them this year. I don't think they're nearly as ready for me how's that?


11/11/08

  • Base64 encoder/decoder - Just what everyone needs. Not much different than the Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring.
  • KLG - Ironic. I was thinking just yesterday, boy, whatever happened to Kathy Lee Gifford? Have no idea why that crossed my mind. Then, today walking into my office, from the other room, the TV was blaring..."and Kathy Lee Gifford." She still has her own show? No need to google that one.

  • No Commercials - on my list of things to do was integrating the commercial removal process from my EdTeeVo GBPVR recording system. I knew it would take some effort. So, I got a holiday off and it was on my list, and I'm in a tidying up loose end mood. Turns out it's really just a serial process. First, you need to run comskip.exe over the final recordings. GBPVR can do this for you. Alternatively, you can use the PostProcessing.bat which is invoked after the recording has finished. I chose to do it that way. It's a control thing I suppose. After comskip completes, one needs to invoke any one of several comclean.bat processes to actually remove the commercials. I tried comclean.bat. That didn't work. So, I tried comclean2.bat. That required downloading a cuttermaran executable. I couldn't get that to work, either. So, I went back to try to figure out why comclean.bat wasn't working. There's a suggestion that you may need to add a "set framerate=2997" option to the comclean.bat file, which overrides the "set framerate=2500" that is set by default. This was exactly what I needed, and now I think the commercial skip is in place. One additional issue I was having was with the IR Blaster. The IR Blaster is basically a way for the recording software to send a remote control signal to the set top box to get it on the correct channel. Well, sometimes the channel it eventually registered was missing a couple digits. So, using gbpvr config, I substituted the HaupBlast.exe file that was setup to do the channell change with a HaupBlast.cmd file which I created. That file fires the channel information once, then waits 10 seconds, then fires it again. Hopefully this will do the trick. Actually, I found one person with a similar issue who apparently solved it the same way. So, I'm somewhat optimistic. Here's my HaupBlast.cmd file in case you need to give it a try:

    @echo off
    
    echo Hitting haupblast with %1 >> haupblast.log
    "C:\Program Files\devnz\gbpvr\HaupBlast.exe" %1 
    
    REM
    REM Here's a commonly used trick to do a timed sleep
    REM in Windows.  It uses ping to sleep for 10 seconds
    REM
    ping -n 10 127.0.0.1 > NUL 2>&1
    
    echo Hitting haupblast again with %1 >> haupblast.log
    "C:\Program Files\devnz\gbpvr\HaupBlast.exe" %1
    

11/10/08

Always entertaining - myself that is. I got a very very strong notion, okay, it was more than that, that someone from my employer had hit my local website. I'm not talking edconnell.com, I'm talking my dynamic DNS site edconnell.kicks-ass.net. The troubling part of this is simple. The address they hit on that site was completely private. The only way anyone could've known about it from the company was by monitoring the traffic coming from my laptop. It is harmless enough, just a link to my webcam site. I had only accessed it a couple from the work network to make sure that it was accessible from outside my home firewall.

So, now what to do? I'm just uncomfortable with the whole corporate snooping nonsense. I'm even more uncomfortable now, having seen evidence of it in action. But, this website they came and peeked at is here is my home. They came into my home, and violated my privacy. To that, what response? Well, I got one. Already on edconnell.com, if someone hits it from the company network, I redirect them to the internal company homepage, after a slight chastisement of course. So, in response to this latest breach of my own policys here, I've just updated my local apache webserver to be a little more blunt. The end result, after a discouraging verbally abusive banner, is this pic.


11/09/08

  • rails in cygwin - I finally got some of rails to work from a cygwin shell launched from the instant rails console. Specifically, I got mongrel_rails to work. My real goal was to launch mongrel on a port other than the 3000 default since I'm now using that for the webcam. There's actually a couple mongrel_rails scripts in InstantRails/ruby/bin. The default that cygwin was launching has a bogus reference at the top. Rather than use that, I just run the mongrel_rails.cmd version, which works fine. To update the listen port to 4000, you simply run mongrel_rails.cmd start -p 4000
  • Friggin beat - had to work all night. I probably should rest going into it, but just don't bother anymore. The past couple times I've crashed and burned here in the office by 430/500 time frame. The next day is pretty much ruined. That would be today. A headache is a given. It's impossible to get a decent sleep. I went to bed about 7 and got up feeling like crap around 1030/1100. Spent part of the day addressing some wiring issues with more electronic gizmos at my desk. The phone, the Blackberry, the Ipod, my coffee warmer. Finally got the wires all tucked away behind the desk on a 2nd surge strip.
  • Flight 93 - as I was eating flipped to this movie on TNT. I've never seen it and really wasn't wanting to watch it. But, I left it on. It was at the beginning. They just got into the groundwork, people boarding the flight, and spent sometime reenacting some flight controller events. I just couldn't watch it. Watching the events start to unfold in the control room, it just got too overwhelming to watch. The thoughts of that day still crush a spirit and bring tears to your eyes. I still proudly salute George W Bush, no matter what anyone else says about him. The more of these bastards he allows our forces to send to an early grave, the better for us all, in my humble opinion.

11/08/08
  • A sense of purpose - for me, today was one of them days when you just wake up, scratching your head wondering what the heck you're gonna do. I paid some bills, ate, cleaned up my inbox on one of my junk email account...Downloaded the catchall email account. Now, for the unawares, the catchall account is this...anyone can send an email to XXX@edconnell.com and if the XXX component of that isn't associated with a legitimate name, then it will go to the catchall account. Most hosting companies have done away with catchall accounts I believe. I have a legacy one that was grandfathered. The thing is, spammers target a domain, and just blast that domain with any possible number of combinations of XXX. Today, I got about 40 emails obviously from the same spammer source, within the span of about well, 60 seconds. I guess since it was happening just as I was downloading, I got a litle interested, and a little pissed. So, I decided to investigate. Any other time, I would just delete the thousands of them.

    These emails were all the same content. They had a click here button. The bottom had three links of "unsubscribe", "privacy", and some other stupid crap. The message source said they were received orginally from a different IP address source, so that wasn't at all helpful. And, the click here button pointed to any one of a number of different strange domain names. Two example names were, njp.fastingenuity.com and ttb.heatsail.com. Hmmm... Why would anyone want to spam me with 30 emails each pointing to a different website??? That makes no friggin sense to me. Surely, noone has that much time on their hands. So, I tracerouted the two sites. Sure enough, they both are the same host: 78.157.142.2. Friggin Latvia. Great. I'm getting spam blasts from some loser in Riga Latvia. If I could only do something about it....Dang I wish I could.

    Heeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyy. Wait a sec. One catchall to another. Sure, maybe it'll work. So, I compose an email (censored because this is a family show):

    From - Sat Nov 08 10:10:16 2008
    X-Mozilla-Status: 0001
    X-Mozilla-Status2: 00800000
    X-Mozilla-Keys:                                                                                 
    Message-ID: <4915ABD6.4010103@edconnell.com>
    Date: Sat, 08 Nov 2008 10:10:14 -0500
    From: Ed Connell Spam 
    User-Agent: Thunderbird 2.0.0.17 (Windows/20080914)
    MIME-Version: 1.0
    To: **************@fastingenuity.com
    Subject: **** him ** the ***
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
    
    Tired of getting a **** jammed up **** *****.
    Well, turn around the favor you nasty crusty Latvian *****.
    


    Fingers crossed...what luck! It went through. I'm write a nice little script to blast that moron with spam email. Let's see how long it takes him to knock this crap off. Epilogue - I just got hit from another spammer. The original latvian jerk doesn't have SMTP relay enabled on his host, but this latest spammer does. I'm gonna blast the one spammer using the other spammers host, and then blast that spammer using his own host. Maybe I'll even blast them with their original emails. Boy, this is gonna be SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET! I only with I thought of doing this about 5 years ago. And, they say I'm getting old.

  • Clear in cygwin - another annoying cygwin default behavior addressed. Clear never worked to clear the console window. Added the following to .bashrc:

    alias clear='echo -e \\033[H\\033[J' and it works like a champ

  • Holy friggin Cow! - you gotta be shite-tin me. It's been quite sometime since I cut my teeth on SMTP, but wow. I recently had added logic at work to send email through Microsoft Exchange servers from a Java application, so I was kind of hip to some changes. I think at that time I was surprised to learn Mister Softy had actually used SMTP to send email, and just had some authentication extensions added to it. I guess it hadn't really dawned on me those extensions were accepted extensions to SMTP in the extended world. Well, a simple telnet session to SMTP through my host was failing miserably. Everytime I hit that last dot, it says, well, how about I just show you:



    220-box180.bluehost.com ESMTP Exim 4.69 #1 Sat, 08 Nov 2008 10:53:33 -0700
    220-We do not authorize the use of this system to transport unsolicited,
    220 and/or bulk e-mail.
    EHLO [192.168.*.**]
    250-box180.bluehost.com Hello **************************.fios.verizon.net [**.***.***.***]
    250-SIZE 52428800
    250-PIPELINING
    250-AUTH PLAIN LOGIN
    250-STARTTLS
    250 HELP
    MAIL FROM:<***@no_spam_edconnell.com>
    250 OK
    RCPT TO:<***@no_spam_edconnell.com>
    250 Accepted
    DATA
    354 Enter message, ending with "." on a line by itself
    this is a tests.
    .
    550 Administrative prohibition
    

    It's the last line that was the killer. Of course, the thing that grabbed my attention straightaway was the response to EHLO. That 250 AUTH stuff I'd not seen before. And, geewillikers, I was trying to send from a legitimate user to a legitimate user on my own dang server. What gives?

    Turns out the AUTH extension in PLAIN mode requires a legitimate base64 encoded username and password combination for the server. That I figured out from quite a bit of googling and trial and error. Eventually, I got a nice, friendly 235 Authentication succeeded message, so I knew I was golden. But, wait, after my final dot, it still responded with the same 550 error. So, I was successfully authenticated, and it still wouldn't let me send???? WTF!!!! Nothing I did would get past the 550. But, Thunderbird knows how to do it? This calls for some real sleuthing.

    I've always meant to try and write some sort of sniffer tool. Never did. But, there's freely available ones on the net. I downloaded this thing from Plago for a test run. It worked like a champ. (Can't wait to try it at work:) With a little intuition, I was able to decypher the packets used in the SMTP transaction. There were a couple minor differences with what I was typing. First, there is a SIZE= extension used off the MAIL FROM: tag. That doesn't seem to be key. What seems to matter I believe is the content of the email itself. I haven't nailed down what the key to making it work is yet, but I have a feeling there's some validation on the content with respect to inclusion of "from" and "to" data lines which map back to the authenticated user id. Some more testing still to come there. I'll also later post a working session for my own future reference, and for those who would find this information somewhat useful.

  • Not quite the end, but almost - well, I got my spam-a-spammer process all ready to go. It's crude, and tailored specifically for the Latvian creton who spammed me this morning. Let's be frank, it wasn't the first time. I debugged it, and was feeling it was ready to take for a test drive, and, I let er rip. 35 emails to that bugger in about 10 seconds...then: 550 Administrative prohibition. Oh DUNG! My friggin host locked me out! Aw, man. Tried to send a normal email, same thing. I was F'd. Got on the Live Chat with blue host. Told the guy my email was failing. He hit me with the standard "use port 26" response. I came clean straightaway. Naw, dude, this thing locked me out because I was blasting a spammer. We had a nice chat, he didn't chastise me at all. In the end, he gave me the system threshold. I can send 50 emails per hour. Okay, I said. I'll keep it to 30 or less. Sounds Good, he said. Nice to know he's on my side. Anywho, anxious to see how long it takes this Latvian Maladjusted to knock the shit off. 30 per hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That's 2880 messages a week. I get more than that. If I don't get his attention, I'll start sending AVI file as attachments.


11/07/08

Did quite a bit of reading on streaming media protocols today. I suppose I got a 10000 foot overview of various methods. I was mostly out to try and find an alternate streaming method to TinCam's mms protocol. I really thought VideoLan would do it. It even forced me to upgrade my old 0.8.6 version to a 0.9 version of VLC. Since VLC presents a slew of streaming options, whereas TinCam presents one, it's not as simple to configure the output stream of your choosing. The most sensible approach for me seemed to be simply try and recreate the mms stream under VLC that I already had functional under TinCam. How was that experience? It was horrendous. First of all, the simple play mode in VLC from my LifeCam capture device was overly "Blue". I couldn't figure out how to get simple play in a nice color like Media Player is capable of. I'm dead certain LifeCam looks good in MediaPlayer because they're both Mister Softey things. So, I was willing to live with the blue for a spell. I still hadn't streamed it using mms. Round and round with configuration options, try this try that. In the end, the best I could do was to get the streaming audio component of my device through to MP, but the video wasn't visible, blue or not. Certainly VLC was having an issue with presenting my LifeCam through MMS. What was the issue? I have no friggin clue, nor do I care. I googled around a spell, looked at the VLC logs, but nothing changed. Time to throw in the towel on that one. Maybe I'll try to find another free streaming server, but looks like I'm gonna fork over the 20 bucks for my TinCam.

On a side note, having this guy looking back at me, I gotta tell you, he sure is looking old and ragged. And, the body language. Oh My God. So much scratching and picking and looks like he's got Torettes.


11/06/08

Wrapped up a few loose ends today. First, I put some finality to the deadlock issue. Found exactly what the cause was. Trick was the test team couldn't recreate. I was a bit flabbergasted. The first tester I wrote off to being too busy to really try. When I finally asked the second one just before quittin time and they were having problems recreating, I thought I was going nuts. If this wasn't deadlocking for him then my whole understanding of life as we know it is thrown out the window. There was no way this wasn't a problem.

But, they couldn't recreate it. Was I nuts? Anywho, a quick double take on the code I had versus the code they had and it was apparently they were dramatically different. Seems like someone screwed up a build yet again.

Loose end number two was my webcam streaming video. I finally got it up and running using TinCam and the mms protocol which is supported by Windows Media Player. Gotta tell you, I'm not terribly fond of a Mister Softy specific solution, and will look to change that, uhh, someday. How much effort is this really worth anyway?

Figured I should update my links from edconnell.com to edconnell.kicks-ass.net to give a nice friendly error message if my home computer is napping. Not sure exactly how to do that yet, but it should be pretty simple. Actually, I'm gonna do that right now, so why don't you just pull up a chair and watch me.

Results: well, that didn't go so well. It never does. Solution seemed pretty simple to me, just pass an address into a php script, use fopen to see if the address could be opened, and if so, pass it through. If not, let the user know. So, trying to fopen kickass timed out everytime. After, oh, a 1/2 hour of my life I'd like to have back it became clear. Blue host has an outbound type of firewall which only allows me to fopen ports on a remote host if they're the really common ones. I can't open port 1008, but I can open 443. Stupid piece of dung. Good chance this isn't worth the change.

As for a senior moment: when a java object has the monitor via a synchronize method, a call to a 2nd synchronize method on the same object does not deadlock. Sure, you say that's obvious, but I wasn't quite sure when I saw this bug so I verified it. The bug was actually this: the first synch method invoked SwingUtilities::invokeAndWait(this). The run method of this was synchronized. So, obviously Swing in this case is invoking the run() on a 2nd thread, and that could not gain access to the monitor.


11/05/08 I got my webcam today - a Mr. Softy 5000 LifeCam. Not a LiveCam you big dope. No wonder when I was googling for documentation on LiveCam I just kept getting porn streaming video links. No, I didn't visit them to do further research. So, a webcam. UUuuuuu. I can sit here and look at myself. It has special effects so I can distort my face. Actually, most of the distortions look better than what the big comedian upstairs left me with in native mode. I guess I can also use it to see if someone is sneaking up on me. Oh, yeah, this is gonna be some real great fun??? But seriously, my FIOS modem has how to setup webcam instructions, so, I said, what the hell. After 2 hours now, I've no clue on how to stream this webcam output from my computer. Think I finally hit the right google query, but it'll have to wait for another day. I'm beat.

Well, today was a better day. I looked pretty intently at that lockup condition, trying to make heads or tails out of it. There's a deadlock possibility for sure there, but if it would ever hit, I've no idea. Other things about the code I just found convoluted and overly complicated. The intent of this code was a thread pool. The JDK has them available, and I'd added one to my own stuff in the same service. Mine was quite a bit simpler, and has worked like a champ, and I'm pretty sure is typically spawning more threads than this code actually is. So, I just got that feeling that this stuff should go, and be replaced. The more brain power I had to expend trying to figure out what was there, the more I became convinced. I gave in, and just said, how hard can it be? How long could it possibly take? So, I replaced that stuff with my stuff and the answer was all of about 20 minutes. I took it out for a test drive, and it sure looked to me like the application was screaming, and how could it possibly work the first time??? I had to set some breakpoints to assure myself it was launching the pooled threads, which it was. I'm not imagining things, that app is flying now.

I mentioned it to the test manager, and told him how awkward of a position it is. I don't really want to tell someone their stuff doesn't quite work. I really don't like those kinds of predicaments. Some people seem to relish in telling others they've found an issue. I'm not one of them. So, either or, I told the test manager I'd try to package something up for him tomorrow and let him see what he thinks.

The funny thing was just after I told him that, the very next time I tried it, it hung. How can that be!!!! I was stunned. Must be a Java or Eclipse scheduling bug. Then, there is was...hey!!!! Is that it? Couldn't be. Sure enough, I can recreate a hang at will now, and it apparently has nothing to do with what I changed. But, the code I added is less problematic, simpler, and sure seems to run better. I just have one more bug to fix now. Ah well, it's good when I'm at the end of my rope, thinking I just ain't got it anymore, to be able to find I'm not done for just yet.

11/04/08

Burnout - What the hell is wrong with my brain. I feel like I'm living a slow torture where I know things just ain't right up there anymore, but I still try to push myself to make things up there work like I know they used to. What am I supposed to do? Get out of denial and move to acceptance, Then What???

I've been witnessing some locking up at work in our Java based front end service. It really feels and smells like a deadlock. One time, you can toss it up to a fluke, twice you get a little concerned...but, I've seen it so much now, I know I can't keep saying this is only happening at my desk. To be honest, I really haven't felt like looking at it since I've not been working on that front end in almost 6 months. One thing I know for sure is it wasn't behaving thus when I last worked on it. The great thing is, if I try to ignore it, I know someone is going to find it, and I know it's eventually gonna wind up in my lap because noone else will be able to fix it. So, today I just casually email someone who basically owns it now. He says naturally, "nope, haven't seen it". Alright, I'll keep looking a little more. Now, I made a few tweeks, call them bug fixes the past couple days. As I looked deeper, one of my changes was now kind of in the middle of this deadlock I was seeing. But, I'm seeing these deadlocks over different issues, not just my bug fix. My curiosity starts to well up inside me the longer I'm pondering it. I can feel the old juices flowing like they used to...I'm onto something. Of course, in my current employ, there's no reward for this type of careful analysis and strict patient debugging skill. None. It's a talent that few people have. I'm one of them. There's no reward for that in my current job, nor has there been for years. No big deal. It's just a lost dying art form. Most of these friggin morons parading around as contractors these days can't even run a debugger, let alone figure out what a deadlock means. Anywho, I finally pin down an area of the code which I think is likely part of the problem. I'm not sure how much but, I'm pretty sure it is in the general area. One of the issues here, lots of developers think they know how to write multi-threaded apps. They don't. They just make a jumbled speghetti mess of stuff that is often times nearly impossible to unwind when a bizarre deadlock occurs. Usually the deadlock is because of an overly complicated albeit dunglike piece of code. Such is what I think I'm looking at now. But, the burnout. I see a deadlock. It is right there. It's now an issue of putting together the explanation of why this dunglike code isn't working, and more importantly, how I'm gonna rewrite it to make it work. That's where my brain just isn't working anymore. I see the deadlock and can't dedung the code. I'm sure I'll make it happen. In the old days it would take an hour, two tops on a piece of code this size. I'm thinking this could take a day or two now.

Oh yeah. Lest anyone say I don't know what I'm doing. At ADP, we bought an OS/2 based product. It actually had a windows compile, and an OS/2 compile. Windows was fine, being the single threaded model. OS/2 deadlocked repeatedly. Now, they paid boatloads for this thing, and there were very high dollar developers at that firm that developed it. Problem was for all their high dollared developers, the damn app was deadlocked. It went round and round, never getting fixed. Then, they actually sold it to a customer. They needed it to work. They threw it at me. It took me weeks of analyzing semaphore after semaphore, thread after thread, 3 different applications worth. It was a friggin mess that I redesigned from the inside out, tossing out the dozens of threads and isolating them to a simple few. It worked like a champ and never deadlocked again. I was probably making 1/10th of the money that these overly paid software developers were making at that firm. Boris Galinsky is one name I'll never forget. He had an ego the size of the Milky Way. I'll never forget when he presented that dung to us..."I doubt you'll find any bugs with this..." he says. Lol. Yea, Boris, you're a legend in your own mind. Unfortunately, I've seen your code. I might be burnt out, but my code still runs circles around yours.


11/03/08 Phony environmentalists - can you hang a clothesline in your back yard? Well, neither can I. Do I need to say more? No one really gives a crap about so called global warming, or we'd be able to take advantage of solar power in one of its most glorious uses. Which would you rather have? A world on the brink of incineration, or a view of my whitey tighteys flapping in the breeze? Most people seem to opt for incineration.

11/02/08
  • I guess you probably can run a cygwin shell from InstantRails "Open Console Window". Simply add cygwin.bat to the path, and execute it when InstantRails opens a console. Turns out that's pretty useless so far. For some reason commands like mogrel_start don't run properly when run from my cygwin.
  • Check out my new specs!
  • I finally took time to figure out how to get Escape command line recall in bash shell. That's a simple thing. Add set -o vi to .bashrc. Also learned bash stands for "Bourne Again Shell". Must be computer code sanctioned by the church.
  • Verizon sent this handheld video camcorder. It's been sitting here untouched for what must be 5 months. I decided to see what it was. Played around with it. Does pretty well for 2AA batteries. Took a video of Laura here in my office. Slightly curious how these folks typically create YouTube videos. Videos are huge. I used Dr. Divx to resample is and compress it from the original AVI file. I'm supposed to be working on Bill's stuff...so seems I'm easily distracted.
  • Still working through the Rails book. This is good stuff, and a very well written book. Building a shopping cart application now. Rails makes session state via cookies a breeze. I wrote all that session handling crap in my php based applications, and well, let's just say I prefer this way. Of course, we'll see how Rails handles form forwarding in error recovery which I believe was the best of the best where my stuff was concerned. Take a gander at 10/30 below for a reference to the development apps, and feel free to play around. I trust you. About to delve into an AJAX version of the cart. I've not done AJAX yet, though I've read what it's about. I just wasn't in the mood to learn yet one more thing that I wouldn't be allowed to use on the job, other than to answer everyone else's questions on how it actually works so they can use it.
  • I work from my home office now. I rarely leave the house. About once a week I try to treat myself by driving to Jennersville and getting a lunch out. Usually, I'll pick Mikkie D's. When I first decided to do the lunch thing several weeks back, I got the Big Mac value meal. There was some awkwardness when I went to pay for it, and my 5 bucks didn't cover it. I pulled out a couple more. When at the 2nd window, I mentioned to the non-native-english-speaking gal that there was some mistake. My value meal cost about six bucks. Silly me. That's the price of a value meal these days. I was expecting about maybe 4 and some small change. It gets worse. Friday, I went to McDs and it was way too crowded. So, I went to Cappriotis sub shop instead. I about had a coronary when I paid the bill for my medium sub, single serving bag of chips and 20oz Pepsi. 12 bucks!!! I couldn't believe it. 12 dollars for a one person lunch. And, inflation isn't really a problem they say. Maybe the lunch thing wasn't such a good idea after all.

10/30/08 Censored for content that was just too damn depressing.

10/30/08 Two steps forward, one step back.

I had to throw in the towel on using InstantRails 2, and revert back to version 1.7. That is much more in line with the book sample application, which is important in this learning phase. As I develop more expertise, I'll be in better position understand the updates in Rails version 2.

Also, I'll just say this about rails.vim. I can't recommend it, at least on a Windows platform. While I was initially impressed, it is buggy, and it isn't my intent at the moment to learn the code behind this plugin and try to fix all of its issues.

Also, today, I opened up my rails work to the net via dynamic DNS, just for giggles. The current product admin app, and there's also this here store front app. While configuring my router, I fooled with the Wake on Lan settings for the millionth time. Finally, after 7 months on Verizon FIOS, IT WORKS!

10/29/08 I've been plodding through my new Rails book, and I'm really excited first of all that it's so wonderfully written. However, today I hit my first problem with my 2.0.2 version of Rails. The dynamic scaffolding has been removed from Rails in version 2, which makes it impossible to follow through the tutorial application starting in chapter 6. However, it's possible to be adaptable, and I moved past that issue. 4 pages later the author leads you to generating the scaffolding by hand. This is good, since that's made necessary anyway by the lack of dynamic scaffolding. However, I hit stumbling block number 2. The syntax to generate the static scaffolding has also changed. This was a little more difficult to work through, in fact I'm not sure that I actually have. But, I may have to gut this 2.0.2 version and go back to a pre2 version of InstantRails.

10/28/08
Hot rails.vim Tip!!

What's that movie with Jeff Bridges was it? No, Kevin Spacey. Give it back? Take it back. Oh, what the he$$ was it??? Appropriate, for my senior moments page. GOT IT - Pay it Forward. This is me paying it forward to the net.

Set the stage. I want to use Vim as my editor for Rails on my Windows box, mostly because I'm vaguely familiar with it. I'm currently on version 7.2 not that it matters. I downloaded rails.vim plugin to take out for a test drive. Worked okay initially, until I tried to invoke the external interface to generate a controller as I was following along in my book. The broken session within gvim goes something like this:

:Rgenerate controller Say
(this generates a Windows CMD window to run the Rails command which fails as follows:)

C:\WINDOWS\system32\cmd.exe /c ruby -C "C:\ruby\InstantRails-2.0-win\rails_apps\demo\" script/generate controller Say
ruby: Can't chdir to C:\ruby\InstantRails-2.0-win\rails_apps\demo" script/generate controller Say (fatal)
shell returned 1



I googled for a fix to this, even found a blogged question from someone else from 2006 on the author's blog, but was unable to locate an answer. I wrote the author and he hasn't answered. I gave him 2 1/2 hours for crying out loud. So, I debugged it myself. Here's the hack:
  1. Locate the rails.vim file in your vim program autoload folder. This is NOT! the same as the one in the plugin folder.
  2. Save the file before we screw with it.
  3. Edit that file with your favorite editor. (Yes, using vim is fine :):).
  4. We're gonna add a function to the file first. Recreate this code snippet: (you'll notice it simply replaces backslashes with forward ones)
    function! s:to_unix_path(w32path)
    return substitute(a:w32path,'\\','\/', "g")
    endfunction
    
  5. Find the function s:app_ruby_shell_command(cmd)
  6. Modify the function as follows:

    Comment out, by putting a " in the front the following line as so:
        " return "ruby -C ".s:rquote(self.path())." ".a:cmd

    Replace it with the following line as so: return "ruby -C ".s:rquote(s:to_unix_path(self.path()))." ".a:cmd

  7. Exit gvim, return to your rails application folder, and give it a try.

Update 10/29 - Tim Pope replied this morning, was anxious for my solution. It's pretty obvious he doesn't have a current Windows install for validation. We've come to agree upon further investigation that the issue is not Ruby understanding backslashes on Windows (contrary to several google hits I'm sure I'd read) but that the rails.vim script has a backslash on the current path passed to vimrun.exe. He quickly turned around a fix for me, and I validated it was good. I would expect an update to his distribution site soon, since it seems to remain fairly active with features and fixes.

10/28/08
Working with Ruby On Rails


Got my rails book yesterday: Agile Web Development with Rails. First impression is it looks really good.

Today it wants me to install Rails. Well, I'd already pieced together an installation. That wasn't a slam dunk. I was trying to follow an online tutorial, and it was outdated with several Rail components, so I had to piece together an installtion from older versions of the required components. The book is once again suggesting I use an Instant Rails installation. The problem I had with that is I already have an Apache server and MySql database installed and don't want them wiped. It's a trust thing. That's my resistance to using Instant Rails. I've found no documentation to hold my hand in that regard. So, I'm gonna bite the bullet and try InstantRails this morning, and hold my breath when it installs those things. I'll jot down my experiences here:

  • Download InstantRails - google took me to sourceforge.net. I picked InstantRails-1.7-win.zip for my windows, since the release notes said that has version 1.8.6 of Ruby which sounded familiar to me. Also, I don't feel like going to Rails version 2.0 since I'm an old version kind of guy. At 60MB, the download is big. Unzipped it to g:\ruby. Hopefully, having my my primary drive as G: won't give me trouble, but it sometimes does because some businesses still have lots of stupid programmers on their staff (That's for you Hewlett Packard) and they are often times relegated to things like installation packages.
  • No spaces in ruby folder - sometimes these unix based modules can work with Windows long file names, but many times they can't. I've long grown weary of learning which ones do and which ones don't, so I now always drop them into a root folder with an 8.3 folder name.
  • Backup Apache and MySql - Seems to me it would be nice if programs came with a backup current install option. I've never seen one. Oh well, made copies of my Apache and Mysql folders just in case.
  • Installing - The install program is "InstantRails.exe". First time I run it, it complains straightaway about the MySql port 3306 being used. No Kidding. That's mysql you stupid thing. Clicking okay allows it to continue as if it is okay. I don't think it will be okay, so I halt the install right there. My intention is to go stop the mysql service through control panel, and try again.
  • Back peddling - Just for giggles, I clicked on InstantRails.exe again, before killing the mysql service. Same results. But, on further examination, this message box (or so I thought) that pops up after telling me mysql port is in use looks to actually be a functional Rails or Ruby process. It says apache is running, but mysql is stopped. Hmmm. I'm now slightly confused. I try to kill it anyway, and it wants to know if I'm sure. No, you stupid thing, I'm not sure, but do it anyway. Why didn't it complain about my apache webserver I wonder. Perhaps because it is available on port 1008 instead of the 80 default. Stop mysql service and try again.
  • Up and running - click install rails again. Back to the same non-message box, which is more a status box, which seems to just say, both apache and rails are currently running. This was some easy install if that's it. Simple unzip the file, and run it. That's what I'm talkin about! I think it's playtime.
  • Apache - odd. I tried edconnell.kicks-ass.net to verify it was unaffected by Instant Rails. Naturally, it wasn't working. Turns out my apache web server wasn't running. Started it, and it is okay. Just one of the unexplained oddities of the universe, I guess. (11/16/08 - the apache wasn't autostarting as a service for some reason. I updated the service's login properties and it autoruns fine)
  • That's it - back to the book. It confirms the non-message box is a rails status box. Follow the guide to verify the version of ruby and rails. Ruby is 1.8.6. Rails is 2.0.2. Great, the book was written based on Rails 1.2.3, so I know to expect some fallout from that later. I'm feeling okay though, since the book is giving me a feeling of confidence. The author writes down to my level, just like I would.
  • Console work - the book leads you to click the big "I" icon in the non-message box to open a rails console app. It suggests doing rails work here. My gut reaction is okay, fine, but I'd prefer to work in a cygwin console rather than a windows one. See no recognition of that possibility here in the book.
  • Version control - the author right up front suggests using version control for your Rails work. That's a sensible thing to me. He uses Sensible. Never heard of it. I've got CVS installed, but haven't been using it, so it is suffering bit rust. Wondering if this is a good time to go back to github and do a little investigation with their system. Table that for now.
  • Do you like my specs? - my eyesite has been deteroriating. Next to well, well, my eyesite was probably my best working bodily organ. I think these reading glasses make my eyes even lazier. I'm too lazy to shave anymore, and am sporting a beard. Still prefer the low maintenance of the buzz cut though. I'm looking old.
  • Using Vim as your Rails editor? - the author doesn't force an editor on you, but he clearly prefers his own, which is TextMate. I really don't feel like learning yet another editor, so I poked around for a Rails plugin for Vim. The little work I've done with Ruby in Vim already, and I know I need something tailored for that environment. Just didn't like the default behaviors. Found this link for a Rails Plugin. It was fairly harmless to unzip, but getting it into the vim environment wasn't as straightforward. Seems the developer expects you've added plugins to Vim before. I hadn't. The way to do it on windows is this. The zip file extracts a rails folder, which contains 3 folders: plugin, doc, and autoload. Select these 3 folders and drop them into the vimfiles folder. This will prompt you that it will overwrite any existing files of the same name, which should be fine, unless you installed this before, in which case you don't need to be reading this. After doing this, run vim, and type :help rail. You should see help info shown.
  • Working with Rails in vim - here's some tips:
    • Running Vim - First and foremost, I assume I need to launch Vim from a console that was spawned by the Instant Rails launcher. (That's the capital I icon) I'm assuming this is a console with the appropriate environment for instant rails. From this console window I launch Vim.
    • create rails demo app - I believe it a good idea to have Vim's current directory where you want to create your Rails application. Once there, enter the Vim global command :Rails demo to launch a script to create the demo application. On completion, Vim will present the README file generated.
    • Ground to a screeching halt - I'm pondering the use of the rails.vim plugin if the integration with ROR doesn't work. I've hit my first hurdle that I can't get over. Launching the scripts using :Rscript fails because it looks to me like Ruby doesn't like the backslashed windows folder names that rails.vim is calling it with. Posted an email to the author-we'll see if he replies.
  • mongrel_rails or WEBrick - the author points out within the script directory of the generated Rails app, is the server script. This he says will launch the WEBrick webserver which is distributed with InstantRails. Then he goes on to say that in a footnote that if mongrel or lighttpd are installed on the system and Rails can find them, that is will use one of them in preference to WebBrick. I'm slightly confused, since obviously mongrel_rails installed with this InstantRails program. When I run ruby script/server it obviously wants to launch webBrick. From the InstantRails created console, my strategy is to cd to the demo directory, and run mongrel_rails start. I'm pretty sure that will be good. It's important to remember to be in the demo folder when executing mongrel_rails, or you'll get peculiar errors like "!!! Path to log file not valid: log/mongrel.log"

10/27/08
Hitching A Trailer


I know this is common sense for rugged outdoorsy men. But, oh well, I'm not one of them. I decided a trailer would be a welcome manly thing to add to the family mix. Didn't know anything about them much. Long story short I bought a Wells Cargo in 2007. 8X10 I think, reasonable size. Used it to haul a boatload of stuff to the beach primarily. I'm pulling it with a 2003 Mercury Mountaineer, 4.6L V8, had a stock tow hitch. Figured it should pull the trailer fine. Never thought much about it, and the trailer sales person didn't show any size related concern.

A month or two after my maiden voyage to the beach, the Mountaineer suffered catastrophic transmission failure according to Ed the trans dude. I think he thought I pulled too much. I didn't know. Maybe I did. I never weighed it.

That has been in the back of my mind ever since. This year I did the beach thing, and the SUV seemed fine since. A couple weeks back the old Craftsman II Lawn tractor bit the dust. Can't cut the grass if it won't steer, and replacement parts are very hard to get. I threw it on the trailer and hauled it to the landfill. The side note is the trailor got weighed, finally. The combined trailer&SUV empty was about 5800 pounds I'm guessing. Now, to finally figure if it was possibly overloaded, once and for all..

I looked on the inner door jam. There is said something like GCW 5900. That didn't seem right. How could this SUV barely pull that empty trailer? I dug some more. There's a rating weight for the vehicle, with cargo, passengers, etc. That's a rating without pulling a trailer. There's a separate pulling a trailer weight rating. GCVW or something. On my SUV that's 11000+ pounds. Makes sense. There's no way we were a combined 11000 pounds on a trip to the beach, even if we did stop at Cracker Barrel.

10/26/08 Nuts - a reader might find my thought processes a bit nuts, to which I would respond, This dude is nuts.

10/26/08

Reaquainting with cygwin - my unanticipated run in with gitmo or whatever it was called yday, well, it really came to a halt when they referenced cygwin. Just a resistance thing with me. I've got it installed, and use it a little, mostly for awk, grep, gunzip, stuff which I don't feel like learning the equivalence in windows cmd which is the worst. But, shell work is usually the extent of cygwin for me. I'm gonna look to push through some of that resistance area today.

The basics.

  • $HOME - cygwin home is C:\home\<user>.
  • .profile - I wanted to add gvim to $PATH. Fair enough. Added it to ${HOME}/.profile. Didn't work. Removing .profile since it is adding no value.
  • bash - the default shell for is bash. I learned bash 10 years ago when I was laid off and trying to enhance my skills to get a new job. Unfortunately, the bank was primarily a ksh shop, and my bash skills are suffering bit rust. So, should I try to modify my cygwin to use ksh or revive my bash braincells? Jury is out on this. For now, I'll just work with the cygwin default.
  • /etc/profile - this is the default profile for cygwin. Code in here to assign a shell, which I'll leave be for now. This is where I could update $PATH, but I'm trying to figure out how it would invoke a ${USER}/.profile which is really what I want. There is is. "If you wish to change the path on a user basis, edit ~/.bashrc. Hmm, doesn't sound too good for ksh.
  • ~/.bashrc - this looks to be good stuff. Alot of default stuff in here, but it's all commented out by default. First I'll update PATH and see if that sticks. Yup, it worked. There's this as well: set -o notify. I have no idea what that does yet. Lol. Tried alias vim=`gvim`. Don't backquote the alias, dope. There is a example for settitle() function, but it doesn't work.
  • less - Added my own alias for alias more='less' since I keep typing more instead of less. Everyone's first cygwin experience is to figure out more isn't available, and you need to use less instead. Is it just me? Either or, my installation of less has some peculiarities which are downright annoying. First, at startup, it always prompts with "WARNING: terminal is not fully functional". Very intimidating, but then the program seems to run just fine. I googled that, and one person said the presence of a .termcap file was the cause of the problem on his system. I didn't have such a file in ${HOME}. I did find a termcap file in /etc/ and renamed that, but it didn't fix my problem. Back to google. I have already noticed my $TERM variable was set by default to dumb. Hmm, a dumb terminal. That's for sure. I unset $TERM, and that still didn't fix it. You following this? This gets great now. There's this link I found in google. In there this person complains that cygwin on windows is setting his $TERM to "cygwin", and that is the source of his warning error. Hmm, I wonder. I change my $TERM variable from "dumb" to "cygwin", and it fixes my problem. Too funny. Annoying less behavior number 2 is when I exit less, the contents of the last screen are erased. What did Eric tell me? man is your friend. Turns out, if I call less with a -d option, it understands the "dumb" terminal just fine, doesn't print any warnings, and leaves the screen intact on exit. There you go folks - the final answer. Added export LESS=-d to my bashrc file and it's perfect.
  • The Dawg - I used explorer search to look for termcap. That was about 10 minutes ago. All of a sudden my computer lets out a quiet little sound like it does when I'm playing at pokerstars. What the heck is that noise? I look down, and here's it's that little explorer dawg scratching himself. He is kinda cute sitting there blinking at me. When I click on him, he scratches himself. I bet he doesn't lick himself. Lol, he does tricks.

10/25/08 Windows "Show Desktop" hotkey - Here's a good one. Now that I'm actually working on my home desktop, I quickly got annoyed I don't have it as spiffy as my work laptop. One of the features I hadn't added was the shortcut key sequence to show the desktop. In other words, when I've got clutter all over and want to get to the desktop I just hit <ctrl-D> on my work laptop and it takes me to the desktop. But, senior moment, how the heck did I do that??? Google. Microsoft article. Hmm. What do you know. The <Windows logo>+D key sequence is built in to show the desktop. Lol. I know I went through more hoops than that to create it before. I have finally got used to the extended windows keyboard. As a touch typist it really got on my nerves when they introduced it, and I stubbornly kept to an old ps2 keyboard for years. But, I guess it either quit functioning or I more than likely got grossed out by the coffee/pop-tart-crumbs/bacteria trap that it had become.

10/25/08

Ruby on Bluehost - Trying to get fired up about Ruby on Rails. I've got a functional installation on my desktop for play. However, the target environment is a bluehost and/or hostmonster webserver. As a developer, I know how this stuff goes, and I'm just not where I want to be at this point. I've been farting around now for about 2 weeks. Granted, I'm still a working stiff, so that never helps trying to take on new things. The world is for the young, of that I'm fully convinced. Old people like me are trapped by their own life circumstances.

So, reading books and online tutorials, following along. That's always a good first step, but at some point you just gotta say, get on with it. I need to build something of my own soup to nuts to really get a better handle on this stuff. My business partner (lol) I believe wants a customer blog. Okay. edconnell.com is lacking a customer blog. I used to have an lame cgi based visitor log, but that bit the dust when wyenet went up in flames. I do have an online php based diary, but never added the expose to public option. But, your don't need to php now. You're doing Rails dammit. Get over it already. Okay, so, let's look to write a rails blog.

I figured I'd take a gander at maybe there's something out there already freely available. Yikes. I know how that goes as well. There's one. Mophisto. Hmm. But, they're now on github. Hmm. Okay, sign up for github. Okay, there's the repository. Half hour on that, and screw this. Come back to that later. github and mophisto. Must be foreigners or aliens.

Back to my own site. Try the basics there. I thought I did that last week. The knowledgebase has a decent overview of what it takes to get started. I must've skipped a couple paragraphs. I followed the instructions more exactly this time. Had to create the mysql databases and a user id just for rails was good. The database.yml by default was setup for sqllite, instead of mysql. Hmm. Changed that. A table for the app needed to be created. I chose the command line interface instead of phpadmin. Good that because I'd forgotten that the user id and the tables are all prepended with the account name. There's something I'll always forget. The tutorial directs you to update the app/views/first/view.rhtml file. Some confusion here since all the bluehost view files have rhtml.erb extensions. Otherwise, it is fine. Okay, try to run the page. A 404 error. What a surprise, it didn't work. But, wait, here in the tutorial is a link to if you get the 404 error. I had a feeling it wasn't going to help anyway, but I built the .htaccess file in public, as per instructions, and wahlah. My rails app was running.

So, the mission now is to create a rails version of this stupid musings area and possibly an online blog for my vast user community, and away we go...


10/24/08

Again with the Homeowners - I'm quite unashamed to say I find homeowners associations a general pain in the ass. Not to mention I just consider them downright un-American. Maybe if George Washington's plantation wasn't so huge he might have felt different about George Washington Carver's Camero sitting up on blocks in plain site of Martha's Rose Garden, who knows. I just think they are little facist type organizations.

I've had issue with the current one over street parking. They insist the township doesn't allow it. Whatever. I don't believe it, but okay. I had my driveway widened in the spring, and it looks like Philly International now, so their little ordinance isn't bothering me at the moment. They just came out with a news letter. In these, I frequently find something to gripe about. Today's gem had a nice little reminder about street parking. Get over it already Sarah. This time they went a little overboard. If you have someone visiting, and they're in the street, we'd like to remind you it can only be temporary, say 15 minutes, and please keep the flashers on. Are you kidding me??? My neighbor, Marine Boy, as semi-annual gatherings where he has cars parked in his front yard and up and down the street. It doesn't bug me. But, Sara - it must bother her. Now, I can understand it's not a problem for her, because I'd doubt anyone would want to visit her. And, what's this? Fines will be levied. Oh.    My.   God.

Well, I've got a typical Mr. Ed response for this. Come Thanksgiving holiday this year, I'm gonna craft a nice big sign - difficult enough for Sara to pickup. I live right at the entrance, so it'll be perfect. Right next to the big entrance facade, I'm gonna perch my sign. I have a feeling I'll have it say: "Visitors Welcome. Cars Not! Leave them Home! Fines will be made!" That oughta stir the pot a bit.