Saturday, May 30, 2009

Chased Inside

I procrastinated, worked a bit, messed around on the computer, trying to delay my need to get outside and cut grass. It wasn't something I was looking forward to, but after getting Delaney to his birthday party, I went out, fired up the tractor, and started cutting.

I managed, I think, about 3 acres of cutting around the front and side of the house, before Tia stopped me with a snake story. Apparently Kendall and a friend were on the tramp and heard a snake hiss at them. Tia came to ask me to get the rifle as there was a rattlesnake by the tramp. I told her where the key was to the safe and then walked over there with a shovel with one of Tia's friends. It was a dark colored, large looking snake, and it made me nervous just being within 20 ft of it.

Tia couldn't find the key, so I went to get the gun and came back, loading up a couple rounds. I was slightly nervous about shooting it and missing. As I was getting ready, Tia moved the screen from the tramp and the snake moved a bit. I couldn't see anything on it's tail, so I was thinking it was a bull snake instead. A few other people agreed, so we decided not to shoot it, and one lady used a rake to chase it away.

A bit of adventure gone, I went to grab a soda and sandwich on a break from the cutting, then came back and got up there again. It had been raining when I went to the gas station and it appeared to be heading North towards us. So I hurried out to try and get at least the couple sections I was working on done, which I did in the rain and hail. A few regrets that I'd removed the doors to the tractor, but it would have been too hot earlier.

So I got enough done, at least I think I did. About 2-2 1/2 hours of cutting, and the yard looks good. If the weather stays clear, maybe I can really dent the front pasture before I go to FL.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Dear DirectTV

One of the really, really annoying things that happened to me last week was missing some programming. I was out running errands and wanted to record the NBA playoffs. I remembered seeing your commercials for remote programming, and used my cell phone to set my DVR to record. I'm happy to say it worked; I came home and started watching the recording.

Until it cut off in the 4th quarter.

The game ran long and I didn't have an easy way to change the recording remotely, or figure out what was on after the game to record that as well.

It's 2009, you can turn on and off my DVR remotely if I pay (or don't pay), you can program it remotely, send a signal to keep recording when the event runs long. Send a signal when the President gives a speech and delays subsequent programming. I know TiVo has some limitations, but in your case, you OWN the entire system. You own the content transmission.

Keep the commercials in the broadcast, heck record them before and after the show, but get the show.

I'm a SQL Rockstar

I was scanning blogs the other day, and noticed Tom LaRock's new image on Twitter. He's SQLRockstar after a little complaining from a large company about SQLBatman. I like the new persona and redesign of the site.

In any case, Grant Fritchey AKA The Scary DBA, noted that he had been added to the rankings. It was Friday, I clicked through to see where Grant was and surprise, surprise, I was in the rankings.

I'm a SQL Rockstar "Master" blogger.

For fun I added the image to my page at SQLServerCentral, but here it is as well:

Worth the Extra Effort?

Some mornings when I get up, and if coffee isn't made, and if I have a reason to go out of the house early, I go to the local gas station about 2 miles away to get a cup of sugary, machine cappuccino. Actually it's a half cup with half decaf.

Sounds improbably, huh? Actually it happens more often than you might think. Today was one of those days. Tia was up and hadn't made coffee, I had to take out garbage to the street, and so when I got through the gate and dropped off a can, I kept going.

It's about 5 minutes on back roads to the gas station. 2-3 minutes to get coffee and chat with Pete who's usually working. 5 minutes home, park car, etc. about a 15 minute journey.

Tia bought a Bunn coffee maker that keeps coffee hot and makes a pot in about 3-4 minutes, plus 3-4 minutes to rinse things out, fill it with more water, ground coffee, etc.

So I would actually get coffee quicker if I made it. However sometimes I just don't want to go through the effort. It just seems annoying, and I like the stuff from the gas station. Not that our Dunkin' Decaf is bad, it's just not the same. And it feels like less effort, even though I know it isn't.

So is it worth it?

You betcha.


Diversity and our differences, along with our debates, are what make the US great.

Someone tweeted this article today: While Childless Couples Make the Case for Gay Marriage. The best quote: You do not need to have one ounce of affinity for gay people in our society whatsoever to recognize that they are being shamefully wronged every day we allow this to continue.

I'm not gay, but I thought it was a great read, and it makes valid points. I heard that Proposition 8 was upheld recently, but hadn't checked it out. The ruling was interesting in that it basically allows the ban to proceed, doesn't appear to preclude other legislation for exceptions for gay marriage, and allows those that married while it was legal to remain married. Talk about a strange situation for people in CA.

I would think on the fundamental basis that there are gays that are married in CA would mean that denying others is fundamentally discrimination. If you remove the religious reasons, why is there opposition? If you remove the discrimination (hatred/fear/whatever) against gays, I don't think a rational person can think there is a reason to prevent anyone from marrying any other person. We let prisoners, convicted-and-sentenced-to-death murderers get married. Why would we prevent anyone else?

The best argument (in presentation and arguement) I've seen is still from Prof. Lessig: Against Proposition 8.

I believe the best things about the US are our freedoms and opportunities. We get rights as long as they don't impact the rights of others. Having someone else get married in no way impacts your marriage, or your rights. It just doesn't.

The worst thing about the US is our prejudice and bigotry, which all too often, enters into the legislature.

Kindle – Encouraging Plagiarism?

I ran across a story about the new Kindle blog publishing features. It was called “How the Kindle Now Lets You Steal this Blog” It talks about how anyone can enter a feed for a blog, enter their information and start getting paid. In the example shown, someone entered the TechCruch blog with their information, but using TechCrunch content.


One of the great things about the Internet is that it makes everyone a publisher, but this also means that people can publish content that isn’t their own. I fight this battle regularly with SQLServerCentral as we find people using our content on their sites. Not just linking to us and running our headlines, but actually copying our content to their site. I probably have to send a notice every few months to someone to take down content.

As much as I like to see content shared, I like the aggregations that people put together (the whole purpose behind Database Weekly), and I see value there, I also see issues with ownership and rights that need to be resolved.

In my view, linking is OK, quoting < 1 paragraph IF you add a comment is OK, using 10-30 sec of audio/video IF you include a comment, is OK.

Copying someone else's content and republishing it for your own profit is not.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Tough Night

Our sensei was talking about how he needed to hold people more accountable, and make the requirements tougher for everyone. Apparently he started tonight. We worked hard at the beginning of class and then kept going, with lots of basics, and then lots of kata. We did groups of kata at the end, 5-10 of us at a time and not a lot of rest. I was gassed at the end, about ready to drop on the last one. My arms were swinging a little wide, embarrassing for me.

But it felt good and I liked it. We need more classes like that.

Getting Close

Another ortho trip for Kendall, this one scheduled. After the 5 or 6 we made this winter for various unscheduled issues, this was a welcome relief.

No major changes, but she's getting close to getting these things off. Some minor adjustments and likely they'll come off in July or August and she'll get a wire to keep things from moving while the rest of her baby teeth fall out.

A nice sunny day, Kendall and Dad enjoying the day out, and then lunch after the appointment.

Lakers in Seven

That's what I think. The Nuggets can still win this, but the Lakers are a better team.

I recorded the game last night, got home just as the 4th was starting with a Phil Jackson interview. The TiVo was acting up so I just started watching the 4th. It was tied, so I'm not sure what I missed, but it didn't matter. Twelve minutes to see who goes up 3-2.

As I watched, I saw a few people in Twitter (I was working as well) say the refs weren't giving Denver calls. I did see a few questionable calls and no-calls. The Nene final foul was bad, and that's the foul that stinks of conspiracy. The league office wanting those called in the Laker's favor. I know that Anthony went up once and there was a no call and there was a lot of contact, same for Martin or Kleiza, not sure who. The no-call on Gasol blocking Anthony, to me, was more aggregiouis becasue Gasol's lower arm was pushing off Anthony. However I also saw a few no-calls on Denver at the Laker's end that I thought could have been fouls. Overall I thought they made less calls and that makes a better game.

The problem for Denver, in my mind, was that they took a lot of jump shots, something noted on the radio this morning, but they also missed 3 or 4 layups by throwing them up too strong. Nene missed one when he stepped and leaned instead of dunking. Martin had one, and someone else as well (JR, maybe?). They didn't attack inside, no pick and rolls to Anderson, no Chauncey dribbling in to move defenders around, just a lackluster 4th.

I think they'll get motivated, and if JR shoots better, they'll win 6 easily. Game 7 will be up for grabs, with the edge to the Lakers, but we'll see.

On the other side, I think that West and Williams need to start hitting shots. They've fallen silent in the past games and that's cost Cleveland because the Magic just close the paint down and key on Lebron. The fact he still gets 40 is amazing since no one else can score. They need to let West/Williams take 10 shots each in the first 15 minuts and get going. Probably the same in the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Belt Stand

4153_1139035004957_1499853552_348935_3414777_nI've been wanting to build a belt stand for Delaney ever since he got into karate. I saw a friend of his with one and got an idea, but just didn't get it going. Finally a couple of months ago I started and made a template out of some 1/4" hardboard. It seemed to work, so I set about cutting wood slowly, working on it about 10-15 minutes at a time.

I finally got it done about 2 weeks ago and started painting it, getting 3-4 coats of black paint on it. Not the best finish, but good enough for a first attempt. I'm thinking I'll do a second one and try something else for the finish. Over the weekend I sprayed some shellac on it and it was finally ready to go.

Today Delaney and I put his belts on it, and it looks pretty good.

Now he needs to get 4 more belts and it will be full.

Give Me Two Weeks and I'll Figure It Out

The bush hog wasn't cutting when we hooked it up to the tractor this spring. I'd left if off until May because it was such a wet spring and I wanted to leave the rear blade on there to clean up the driveway. When I put it on a few weeks ago I ran it around the yard and not only wasn't it cutting (not a blade) it was dragging and marking the yard. Not a huge big deal in the pasture, but I decided to stop and mess with it later.

I'd found TractorByNet a couple years ago when looking for advice on tractors and implements, but hadn't posted since then. So I posted a question in their forums a couple weeks ago. I asked why the thing might not be cutting and got two pieces of advice:

  • Make sure the blades are on it (haven't been stolen)
  • Check the sheer bolt.

I was pretty sure that the blades were there since no one really comes on the property. So over a few weeks I've been looking at the blades, checking out the blade and making sure they were tight (they were), I checked the sheer bolt, and things seemed to be working. I also re-leveled it and then checked that the front was lower than the rear (another piece of advice I got).

I tried it again last weekend and it wasn't cutting, so I brought it back up to the garage, raised the deck and made sure the blades were under there. They were, and they seemed tight. So today I checked my post again, adding  a few notes, and saw someone mention that I should be sure the blades weren't rusted and frozen and that the slip clutch was tight.

I'd wanted to sharpen the blades a little, so last night I purchased an angle grinder, since someone said that it was a great way to touch them up. After pulling them off last year and sharpening them, it was a pain. Easy to sharpen, hard to get back on. While waiting for a phone call, I got out my face mask and touched up the blades, getting a 1/16-1/8" edge on them. You don't want a sharp edge, you want it to shatter stuff like trees and yucca, not slice them (leaves and edge).

Since I wasn't sure what else to do, I grabbed a blade, grabbed the drive shaft, and turned. I should have not been able to turn one without the other, but I could.

Aha! Slip clutch is loose.

It looked tight, which is a bad way to test. It seemed to be tight enough to have the blades or the driveshaft turn the other, but under load, like 540rpm, it slips.

A quick tightening of the 8 bolts holding it in and I decided to take it out for a spin. Success! It cut right through and I got a nice 1/4 acre or so slice cut in the front pasture.

Tia was happy it was working and I told her that give me two weeks and I can figure most things out.

Now I have a nice 40-50 hours of tractor time to clean up the pastures.

Tweeting Before Coffee

It seems like this is shaping up to be a writing/thinking day. I woke up late, about 8, this morning, and with Kendall coming into our room and Tia already using her laptop in bed. I grabbed my laptop, checking on SQLServerCentral to make sure things were working.

While doing so, I checked Twirl to see what was happening in my Twitter-verse. I responded to a few tweets and then posted a "the best part of waking up is coffee in your cup. Need to go make some." Someone then responded with "not out of bed yet?"

A few people went back and forth, and it made me think that I was a  little more motivated for work than I realized.

I came downstairs and found this post on Blogging and intellectual craftsmanship, which seems to fit me. The inability to separate my personal life from my professional one has worked well for me. It's quoted in the post: “the most admirable thinkers within the scholarly community you have chosen to join [in this case sociology] do not split their work from their lives. They seem to take both too seriously to allow such dissociation, and they want to use each for the enrichment of the other”. I found the source essay here.

I thought that was very interesting, and it made me stop for a minute. In some ways I am a tiny bit of a sociologist. I read and comment on things, on events, and actions, talking often from the social and human side of things. It's editorializing, but I try to bring more to the link or event with my own thoughts and comments.

And I often draw on my own experiences in order to do so. The separation from my personal life to the professional is thin, sometimes non-existent.

As I finished his essay, thoughts of it still lingering as I moved on with me day, I read an essay that my Mom sent to me called Effort and Understanding: Having It Easy. I'm not sure if this is the original source as I just had the text in email, and it's been repeated a few times around the Internet, but it struck me as well.

I think luck plays a part in success, and it definitely appears that things are easy for some people. What surprised me is when people said that it seemed I had it easy. From my perspective, that’s far from the truth. I’ve worked hard, and I think I have been lucky to have things go my way, but it’s taken hard work.

We build our own world to a large extent. It might be that we have more ups or downs than others, but to a large extent I think it’s our efforts, our understanding of our capabilities, and our acceptance of our achievements that determines how successful we view ourselves.

And I think that our view of ourselves will shine through to others.

When we enjoy what we do, and work at it, to become good, it appears easy on the outside. We appear to be a craftsman that just goes about their daily work.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


They're all working, though I have to check for rotation and angles on a few. I have replaced 5 heads this year and reseated one that had come loose into it's connector. That's a record for me. Usually I expect to replace 2 or 3, but 6 not working was a lot.

With a wet spring, I only turned on sprinklers a couple weeks ago. I noticed right away that 3 were out, and so I went and bought 4 more. It rained for a few days, so I wasn't too worried, and last weekend I went out (9 days ago) and replaced the first one. It was a pain, and I was cursing the installer the whole time. Why they connect the heads on the side and not the bottom is beyond me.

Actually I know why. It's cheaper. They can dig a trench 6" down instead of 12" and it saves them time. Repairs also take longer, which is more money for them to do a replacement. It also tears up the ground more (or maybe that's just me) because you need a bigger hole. Typically I've found that the larger heads, which throw 25-30', are connected on an elbow so you can tip the head on it's side to screw it in/out. However since that elbows are never long (usually 2"), you have to still dig a fairly wide hole around the head in order to be able to turn it. I struggled replacing one last year because I didn't dig it wide, wrestled with it in the fall, and it was the loose one this year.

So one replaced, and then cold, wet weather, so I slacked off all week. I'd purchased 4, expecting that one head, which appeared to be working, probably wasn't. It seems the springs wear out and they won't turn back and forth properly, just stick in one line.

Sunday I decided to replace more, and went out there with old jeans, wet, muddy grass, and I fixed 2 more, checking and aligning them, which went well. I didn't tear up the grass too badly, though I'll see in a week or two. I got to the next one, found a broken head and when I went to remove it, I broke the extension. So I dug around in my box of sprinkler parts, got a cutoff rise that I could use, took it out there, screwed it in, and as I was rotating it down, broke it.


I couldn't get the end out, and decided to just cut it off. But first I went out Sun night with Tia and then got to Lowes Mon am to get parts. I wasn't sure of the hose size (idiot move there) and decided to buy a few different parts. I got some 3/4" screw in Tees and elbows, and a few 1/2" barbed connectors, along with elbows, thinking this was what I needed. I didn't see a 3/4" barb, and of course, that was what I needed. Serves me right for leaving Lowes in less than an hour.

So I couldn't fix that one, but I moved on and replaced two more on the East side that I noticed weren't working. I'd purchased a few more heads at Lowes, just in case, and promptly used them. I also found one spring that wasn't working great, despite me messing with the settings and getting nice and wet along the way. I need to check it again, but I figured I'd do that when I replaced the last one.

Today it was back to Home Depot, getting 3/4" barbs and a few more odds and ends that I don't need this time, but I'm sure I'll use. I got back, went out and managed to replace that head, but didn't test it, needing to leave for scouts.

Tomorrow I'll test them all, try to set the angles, and hopefully get the lawn looking better. There are some very brown, bare spots that might need to be reseeded.

Quiet Night at Scouts

We headed out to Delaney's scout meeting for the week, and it was quiet. They had to be out of the school early, so it was a quick meeting with announcements and then they went outside for various emergency carries. They had relay races, and I saw Delaney struggle through joint arm carries with a few other kids. They had to go across a soccer field, so a good 50 years or so.

He got carried a few times, but kids in his patrol. He's one of the bigger kids, perhaps the biggest there tonight in his group, and they struggled. Saw him get dropped once (not hard).

Saved by USB

I had the video card go bad in my new desktop, so I spent a few minutes rolling back to the old one, only to find networking extremely slow. It took, literally, about 5 minutes to open Google's home page, slowly bringing down data, despite the connection saying it was 100mbps.

I checked Tia's machine, and my laptop, all running wirelessly, and they were fine. Since the wired cable I have runs up and over a door, making a new one isn't a simple project. I could do it, but it wasn't something I wanted to do on a Sunday morning.

So I grabbed a Belkin Wireless-N USB adapter. I'd gotten one for about $40 when Circuit City closed (one of the very few bargains) and it was going to be used in the basement. Instead I dropped it into my new Belkin USB hub (feels like a Belkin ad, huh?) and it connected right away, all 270Mbps of it!

I was glad I had that handy as it saved quite a bit of hassle. Now I need to decide how to handle moving forward with the desktop.

The Video President

I saw a note on Twitter that Obama had announced his Supreme Court nominee. It's interesting that we can see it immediately with YouTube. I've embedded it here if you're interested.

This the type of thing we used to have to wait for the news to see, and then only see a small snippet of it, cut down as the news editor wished it to be. I like that the President is reaching out more personally with new media.

Another Toasted iPod

Tia put her iPod in the cooler for the trip home from the horse race. And then forgot about it. She found it the other day, in a pool of melted ice. I told her to let it dry out, but there's still water behind the screen, so we're not sure if it will still work.

We've gone through a few, including Kyle losing his other one this year. He got a Nano like me, and I wonder what Tia will go for.

Working in Bed

Today's my day to work in bed. Not sure why I decided to do this, but after Tia got up, and with Kendall sleeping, I decided to break out the laptop and get doing on a few things. I think part of it is machine issues over the weekend at the desktop that I just don't want to deal with.

So a few hours later, I'm still typing along and it's going well. Now ready for a run and then who knows where I'll be working.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Rain, Rain

It's raining, quite a bit. We came out of the movies tonight and it was pouring. I ended up running to get the car for Delaney and Tia since I had a waterproof coat on and a hood.

Glad I cut the grass today. I got the mower started and then let Tia go ride while I did the front yard, which is what I planned. However it didn't take long, so I thought I'd do more. The side was almost done when I ran out of gas. My plan was to go get gas, run, and then cut a little more, but I'd been pushing Delaney to run, so he jumped on the treadmill and I got the mower started and finished off the side and half the back.

Then a quick run, clean up the starter (the mower battery won't start the mower), and I decided to keep going. I got the back done and then Tia kept bringing Zarah closer, I guess getting her used to the mower. So I kept going.

I was nervous a few times as Zarah started and I didn't want Tia to get thrown, but she kept things controlled and I ran up and down the side of the driveway, getting it cut down a bit.

Then I was motivated, so I tried the bush hog, but it wasn't cutting and I didn't feel like messing with it. Still need an angle grinder to touch up the blades. I did level out a spot in the driveway by shoveling some of the roadbase that I'd pulled up during snow plowing and getting that back on the driveway.

Then it was sprinkler time. I'd hit Lowes this morning, bought a bunch of parts, but not the one connector I needed for the open sprinkler. I did have two more sprinklers, so I replaced them, and I think everything is working now except my one open hole. Since I needed to hit the store again, I asked Tia if we see Star Trek tonight and hit the store. She said fine, and we fixed fence a bit before heading out.

The movie was good, grass is cut, it's raining, and I still don't have sprinkler parts. However Buddy might be heading to the vet tomorrow, and so I can get parts then.


Not the dkRanch, but rather SQLServerCentral. And I haven't put out the newsletter. Not looking good for tonight.

Apparently the IT folks at Red Gate never transferred things over and now they expired. I'm trying to buy more time, but it hasn't worked.

Might be an interesting night.

Late Start

I slept in, not that it much mattered with a light drizzle falling outside. So I ran errands, in and out of Lowes in under an hour getting some sprinkler and other parts we needed. I was thinking to try and get the mower started, but it didn't charge much last night, so I searched around and it's a 12V battery.


Put it back on the charger, going to fix sprinklers in a little rain.

Speaking Engagements for The Modern Resume

I’m giving my talk on The Modern Resume – Building Your Brand a few more times this year and I’ve got a tentative schedule here:

June 6 – SQLSaturday #14, Pensacola, FL.

July 2 – Richmond SQL Server Users Group, Richmond, VA

Nov 11 (tentative) SQL Connections, Las Vegas, NV. I’ll be speaking at the event, just not sure of the day and time.

I’ve also submitted this for the PASS Community Summit, we’ll see if I get picked.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Anniversary Dinner

Last night Kyle agreed to take the little kids out to see Night at the Museum so Tia and I could have an anniversary dinner. It's our eleventh anniversary and one of the few times that we've been able to go out without worrying about kids too much. It's nice as they get older, and having Kyle able to drive made it great.

So while they wen tout, we headed out for some sushi, getting a nice quiet few hours together. After dinner we stopped by the wine bar for dessert and a drink before heading some relatively early. We don' get to do that a lot, and it's time that I really enjoy with my wife.

Supporting the Riders

Tia went down to the Air Force Academy last night for a competitive trail ride today. She wasn't competing, just being a safety rider since it filled up, but she was down there with a friend and asked if the kids and me would want to come see it.

When we woke up I had a message that it was raining, so I set about doing horse chores. As I was filling water buckets, Tia called and said it stopped raining. I asked the kids, and they wanted to go down there, so we packed up and headed down. We were hurrying a bit, so we just grabbed fast food at a drive through, but then saw the sign.

It was an electronic sign that said "accident 9 miles ahead" and 1/4 mile down the road, traffic stopped. Stop and go, moving slow for about 10 miles, we had no choice. I told Tia we wouldn't make lunch, but Kendall still wanted to go, so we thought we'd kill some time and see Tia at the end.

Eventually things broke loose and we got down to the Air Force Academy. I thought Delaney might be interested in seeing the campus, so we drove through the North entrance and stopped by the visitors center. The kids were interested and we watched a short promo film on cadet life. Afterwards I asked them if they'd like to go there. As expected Delaney said maybe, but he wanted to go to Annapolis and be a Marine. Kendall said "maybe" and that surprised me.

We toured around the base a bit more, stopping to see some planes. and then met Tia at the horse race. We were there when they rode up, and it started to rain as they arrived. It was good to see her, and I think the kids are always impressed a bit seeing their parents participating in things, even if they don't say anything. They climbed in the front of the trailer and goofed off, laughing a lot with each other while Tia cleaned up and loaded up.

Then a much shorter drive home.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hyper-V – A New Machine

I installed Hyper-V onto a new machine as a role for the base Windows 2008 server role. It required a reboot, and once it was back up, I went to create my first virtual machine. The Hyper-V manager was confusing for a few seconds since it wants to connect to a Hyper-V machine. Since I hadn’t set any VMs up, I wasn’t sure what to do.

Then I realized I needed to “connect” to my host machine, and so I did that. All of a sudden I got the “New” menu item I expected. I clicked it, went through the settings of picking a name, memory, a disk, etc. for my VM. Then I got to the Installation Options screen, and I got a pleasant surprise.



I’d already put the Windows 7 disk in my DVD reader, but this was cool. I could alternatively use an ISO file. Not that this is hard to do in Windows, but it’s nice that this is build into the Hyper-V console automatically. I could even use a network installation.

Nice time saver!


It's a hard show. I almost didn't watch Southlands again after the first episode, and it's still troubling at times, but it's got me hooked now. The drama and emotional tugs are taking the place of ER, which ended a couple months ago.

Sleeping Late

I woke up at 8:30 this morning, quite a late start. Delaney was in the bed, and he was still out, not coming down until after 9:30. Not sure why he was so tired.

I know why I was. He fell asleep in our bed and then used me as a pillow all night, rolling around a bit and waking me up constantly.

The first thing Kendall asked me to go to Target, which I delayed until later. Some work done, now time for a quick run.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Denver SQL Server Users Group

I was late with family issues, and so I missed the social time when I was expecting to do a little networking and meet some new people. Instead I arrived during the short presentation from Glenn Barry, who's a local MVP and I've seen speak a few times. Attendance was good, about 35-40 people packed into the Microsoft office. There were Sharepoint and Foxpro user groups going on in other rooms next door, so it was a busy night at Microsoft.

I ran into a friend from the past, and ended up talking with him in the hallway for awhile. A few people wandered out during the end of Glenn's presentation. I got to talk to a few of them, as well as a couple other local user group leaders. Paul Nielsen, of the SQL Server Bible, gave the second presentation, but I was again talking out in the hall.

Afterwards the swag I brought disappeared quickly, I shook a few hands and spent a few minutes talking with the speakers before heading home. A good night, a great turnout, and I'm sorry I didn't get there earlier. I'll shoot for an Aug or Sept meeting in Denver again.

Lost Password

I set up Windows 2008 R2 last week, and it has new password complexity requirements. So I changed my normal "home" password for my machines, added a new one, and haven't been back since. I got busy, and was waiting for a slow day to get things going.

So yesterday I moved the machine upstairs, turned it on, got busy, and this morning when I went to log in, I couldn't remember the password. I tried a few, went downstairs to see if I'd written it down, checked the password app on my laptop, couldn't find it.


After mentally slapping myself a few times I gave up, and reinstalled W2K8. It was easy and painless, so not a big deal.

I did write the password down this time :)

Last Day of School

It was supposed to be today for the little ones, but it ended up being yesterday. I stayed up late watching the Magic/Cavs and Tia was tired. We woke up at 7:50, and decided we'd ask the kids if they wanted to go. Kendall had been rolling around in our bed and declined.

I got up to ask Delaney since he has more friends and likes the bus. He was still asleep, having stayed up late reading, and also declined.

So they're done for the year. We now have a 3rd grade, and a middle schooler, along with a high schooler.



A great Hyper-V blog here at Accentient Blog.

I was searching around for information on setting up Hyper-V and I ran across this blog, which has some great instructions for getting started. Including a 3 part series on Using 64-bit Windows Server 2008 as a Workstation OS, which is exactly what I want to do. The parts are:

I recently purchased a new machine with the intention of going this route. My old machine was an AMD 64-bit one, but it couldn't take more than 4GB, and I was fed up with slowness in VMs.

So far I've used some of the hints in this blog to get started, installing W2K8 and Hyper-V.

What is Twitter?

I saw an interesting blog post from Andy Leonard (@AndyLeonard) recently on what he thought Twitter was. I'd started my own post here, with some thoughts, and had to go back and rewrite things (Thanks, Andy!). He got me thinking, and I agree, it's something completely new.

I had started, as Andy did, with a "what Twitter is not" section, but I decided to not save the punch line. So I'll start with what I think Twitter is.

  • Twitter is a series of sidewalk conversations
  • Twitter is the democratization of the sound-bite

Those are the two best descriptions that I can come up with, and I'll give you a few reasons why I think so.

A Sidewalk Conversation

It's the world's longest sidewalk, with an infinite length, able to hold an infinite number of people, but everyone's moving so fast, you're never quite sure if you're talking to anyone, or just yourself. You might engage a person, or a group of people, in conversation. You can send tweets back and forth, by replying to someone. They'll get . You can whisper to just one person in a direct message, or you can just broadcast your thoughts to the world.

Who may or may not be listening. People might "follow you" and hear what you say, or they might miss it in the clutter of other people talking to them. People might even block you, the equivalent of putting their hands over their ears when you open your mouth. Of course, you can do the same thing back.

It's a new way of interacting with a group of people, but a group you can't completely control. Or at least, I'm not sure you want to.

The Democratization of the Sound Bite

A sound bite is usually a short phrase taken from someone's speech or writing, intended to convey their meaning in a short form. It should be the main thrust of what they were trying to get across, but as we've seen in the media, it's often what's the most interesting, funny, or attention grabbing.

Usually only famous people (politicians, movie stars, athletes) have their words repeated in the media. With Twitter, anyone's 140 character sound byte is broadcast to the world. And with a retweet, people can re-broadcast your words along Twitter's ability to act like a telephone tree.

Anyone can be famous in 140 characters or less.

A Longer Explanation

I get wordy, so if your curiosity is satisfied, stop here and move along.

You kind of have a relationship with others using Twitter. They're online, they're connected to you (or you to them), and they can interact with you. It's more like being in a large conference or event where even though you might not personally know everyone you pass, they have some tenuous link to you.

We all have name badges, like @AndyLeonard, @SQLDBA, or @Way0utwest (me), or @Oprah, and anyone can view who's behind those badges. At least to the extent you've published something about yourself. Twitter can act as a host and handle the introductions, by allowing anyone to get that information that you put in the profile about yourself.

You can say something, with a "tweet", that might be directed directly at someone, or the equivalent of broadcasting a note to those within earshot. The difference is this hallway has an infinite length, can include an infinite number of people listening in. It's also logged, but that's a separate issue (and something to be cognizant of).

Just like you have those people in the real world that talk too much, some people appear to "tweet" too much. Some people want to sell you things, like . Others give coupons through promotions, like Zagg. John McCain publishes thoughts as well as notes about what he's doing (including rooting for basketball teams), President Obama has staffers dropping notes for him. Sarah Plain lets us know what's happening in Alaska, which bills she signs, and sure does thank a lot of people for their work.

In short, it's what you make of it.

Wikipedia says it's "micro blogging", but that leaves out the interactivity of it. I have had conversations with people, like the coffee v tea battle. I have seen tech support given out by Paul Randal. A NBA player was admonished for tweeting during a game, and another posted tweets during a recent suspension.

It's a answering questions at the world's largest press conference being held just for you. Everyone shouting at the same time that's interested, and you answering those that you want to.

Or not answering and just talking about what you're doing, and what you're interested in.

Twitter is unique, it's unlike any interaction I've ever had with people. It's fun, interesting, and inspiring. It connects me to friends near and far, and enriches my life. I'd urge you to give it a try and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Another Step

I got my red belt tonight, a little unexpected since this isn't usually a class we test in. It's for advanced adults, and we end up trying new things often. I actually expected to do sticks tonight and then test sometime next week. I'm a little off since I don't always hit Thur's class and with our shihan taking Mondays off, I'm left with little chance to test.

He asked me if I was coming tomorrow at the end of class while we were doing abs and I said no, since I have a user group meeting in Denver. So I think he just awarded me tonight. I was supposed to test last week with some others, but I missed Mon and Wed with a sore back and it wouldn't have looked good for me to test on Thur without being there the rest of the week. I did make the Thur class, and a couple others did pass their tests, but I wasn't included in the red form testing.

It's a mixed bag. I think I got cut some slack for working hard, and pushing others, but I haven't really done red form as well as others, so I'm not sure if I skated or really earned it. Not a good feeling.

Solar Beats Fossil Fuels

At least for the relatively inefficient chemistry cadmium telluride (CdTe) films, they are better than fossil fuels across their life cycle according to an analysis published recently.


They take less power to manufacture, which is key. I think we haven’t had enough good research on the overall life cycle of different technologies.

Now if I could get a good study like this for wind power.

New Doors

The second new garage door came in and it looks good. Hardware went on both doors as well:

The doors are white, the old ones were an almond/tan color, but these seem to look OK. And of course, with the rain yesterday, I had to set priorities:

Now I need to switch cars around today.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Swim Night

Delaney needs some swimming practice. We went tonight to the Scout swim night at the local rec center. Instead of a normal meeting, they wanted to get kids pre-tested at summer camp since it takes a bunch of time the first day to get kids evaluated and they can't sign up for some merit badges unless they pass a swim test.

So there were 2 tests tonight, actually 3, but they combined 2 together. The first was the summer camp test, which is the kids just going 100 yards on their own. Delaney put his goggles on and struggled a bit, but got through his 4 lengths of the pool. The second class requirement is swim 25 feet, stop, come back, and they counted this test as a part of that.

The second test was the first class test, which is swim 100 yards in good form, and Delaney couldn't do it. He doesn't put his face in the water, and as a result his legs are low and he can't get a good kick. So he didn't pass that, but it's not a huge big deal for now.

But he does need to work on it. I asked him if he wanted swimming lessons and he said no, for sure. He's not a big swimmer, and while he does OK, he isn't excited by it. I know he won't go for the swimming merit badge, picking hiking or cycling instead for his Eagle requirement, but he does need to get better for his First Class.

I'll take some days at the pool and work with him on hit stroke and breathing out under water.

One Third

The doorbell rang today, I went over there and found a package from Sears. It was small, smaller than I expected, and so I opened it, wondering what was in there. My lock washers were there, so I'm one third of the way to fixing the mower. Now if I can just get the bolts and blades, we'll be in business.

An Author's Lunch

I had lunch today with Kendal Van Dyke, @SQLDBA on Twitter, since he's in town moving servers between data centers. I met Kendal last fall at SQLSaturday in Orlando, and when he pinged me that he was coming to Denver, we set up lunch.

We had a short conversation in Orlando, but we've corresponded on Twitter quite a bit since then, and I've gotten to know him a bit from there. A nice lunch at Hacienda, one of Tia's favorite restaurants. She couldn't make it between work and hay deliveries, but I brought her back fajitas.

The Nuggets v the Booger Eaters

I love that phrase, the booger-eaters, which I hear often on ESPN Radio from Colin Cowherd when he's referencing wrestling fans. Either that or "mouth-breathers" :)

Apparently we have a conflict in Denver for Monday night. The Pepsi center was rented to the WWE for a wrestling event and now the Nuggets are scheduled to play there. As much as it seems that Kronke Enterprises messed up here, I think you have to move the WWE event. They won't fill the building, their tickets are less expensive, and it's less of an audience. At least I'd think it is.

The WWE deserves some compensation, but they really ought to just move their event here. I'm sure they will, but only after milking this for some free press.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I felt a little tired tonight at karate. Mondays are the hard day, with my getting Kendall from tutoring to piano with food in about 20 minutes, leaving me about 8 minutes to get back to karate.

So no stretching, and while I tried to take it easy, a few times I threw combinations around and felt winded. Not exhausted, but winded a bit.

Still a good workout, a nice sweat, and one step closer to black.

Mower Maintenance

We have had the lawn somewhat growing out of control in places, weeds around, and dead in others. I started on the sprinklers yesterday, but the mowers have needed help. I hooked up the bush hog and went for a loop in the yard, cutting nothing.

I looked at the lawn tractor the other day and it's missing a blade (it bent last year) and when Tia tried to start our electric motor, the battery was dead. It's 8 years old and that's expected. She checked for a new battery, but it was $120 or more for one. We looked at new ones, and were trying to decide what to do.

We have a lawn tractor as well, a 42" Sears one that we have used a lot in the last 6 years. However it bent a blade somehow last year, the deck got bent as well, and I spent some time fixing it. Apparently I never go the blade replaced since it was sitting next to the mower when we looked at that. If that were working (and it needs to be), we'd likely use that more, so I went out, got the model number, and ordered 2 blades and hardware from Sears. I'm sure I'll need another one (this is the 3rd blade I've replaced), so I figured I should just get an extra. I paid for expedited shipping, so I'll now have a new project on Wed night.

I also posted a few notes about our rotary cutter (bush hog) on the tractor online and got a few hints for checking it out. People recommended an angle grinder to touch up the blades, and a few things to check, so I think I'll do some of that tonight.

Preakness Complaints

I was listening to the radio this morning and they mentioned complaints at the Preakness because people were no longer allowed to bring their own beer (or other beverages). The host was saying it was silly for the complaints, and I tend to agree. Beer prices were lowered, $3.50 a cup, which is better than most sporting events I attend, but more than the $0.50 or so you might pay at a grocer.

However this is a public event, and I think it's a good idea. No one, or at least few people, should have the need to drink 5, 6 or more beers at the horse race. I have friends that go through that many, and it's rarely a good thing. And those beers would be $30-40, which isn't a bad cost. Granted, I make a good living and wouldn't be bothered by that.

However when I was in college, or starting work, and that was a significant amount of money, I didn't have the same judgement. I probably shouldn't have been allowed to drink more. I did at one horse race in Charlottesville, and it was a bad idea.

People driving afterwards, misbehaving, it's just not a good idea. Complaints from a 35 year old? Grow up.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


After baseball I got home, intending to do a few chores. There are plenty of things I've been meaning to do around the house, and it was a warm, calm day. So with Kendall (And Buddy) in tow, we went to change a sprinkler head. Kendall was sitting there, watching me work on it until her Aunt and Uncle came over, and then she abandoned me.

I got the head changed, set it to sprinkler the areas I wanted, without too many curses for the installer. I hate people that attach sprinklers from the side. It's a huge pain to replace the heads and it can't be that much harder to just dig deeper and attach them on the bottom.

I had planned on doing a few more, but Tia asked if I'd do some video of her and Zarah, so I grabbed another beer (I'd gotten one for the sprinkler work) and then took the camera out back. I spent about 45 minutes taping horses, and about 6:15 I realized the basketball game had started, so I used my cell phone to log onto the DirecTV site and start recording the game. I'd done that while driving to baseball as well, but I wasn't sure if it was working.

After I got some pizza going for kids I came up and checked, and sure enough the games were recorded. So I'm finishing some video while watching games I scheduled the recording of from my phone.

Completing the Cycle

I've struggled with my hitting a bit this year in baseball. I've made good contact, but only one hit to date in 2 games. I went 1-4 and 0-4 in the first two outings, so I was hoping to do better today.

After my morning run, I spent 10 minutes hitting balls in the basement, and then got to the game early and got 10-12 swings in the batting cage with someone tossing them to get warmed up.

In my first at bat I'd been warned about the wide strike zone of this umpire, and experienced it firsthand. With 2-1, I let a wide one go outside that I was pretty sure was outside. With my warmup swings, I'm not confident I could have reached it, and it was a strike. I ran it to 3-2 before taking one under my elbows that was way inside. However it was called a strike, and nothing I could do. I should have swung, taking the chance on a foul. I felt worse because I'd swung at strike 1, and it had bounced in front of the plate. Stupid.

My second time up, same pitcher, I decided to swing early. I hadn't seen anything over the plate, so the second pitch was inside, a curve that was dropping, but close enough so I swung and drove it right down the line. It kicked up dust, was called fair, and I hustled around for a triple.

My next at bat they intentionally walked the guy in front of me to put men on first and second with one out. Not a bad play for a double play, especially as it was the 4th hitter. I came up and ripped the first pitch (new pitcher) to right center for an easy double and then came around to score later. The last at bat, a third pitcher up there, and again I ripped the first one as a sharp grounder to the right of the first baseman and it got through for a single.

So in 3 games I've had a home run, then a triple, then a double, then a single. I didn't get up again, but I am 4-12 this year, which isn't bad. Two strikeouts, one my fault for sure, and lots of good contact. This is definitely a better fit for me.

We lost today, I didn't care much, didn't see anything in the outfield except 2 grounders that got through the infield, and then one that was left center and I misplayed it slightly. The whole team seemed sluggish, and I jammed my knee on a quick stop, so it was sore for about half the game.

Still fun, a good game, and even though we lost, I had fun.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bass Pro Shops

A fundraiser for the Boy Scouts today up at Bass Pro Shops. I'm not a big hunter/fisherman/boater, but still when we were done Delaney and I, with another Scout, got lost inside for almost an hour. We did need to get Delaney a new sleeping bag, but we wandered around looking at stuff, and it was interesting to me, not sure why. Maybe just a big pile of "man stuff" is just interesting.

We ended up grabbing him a 0F sleeping bag, and then Delaney, another boy, and me piled into the Porsche for the ride home. Another Dad had asked if I'd bring him down, so I did. He was thrilled to ride in a Porsche, and kept telling me. Glad to oblige.

It was good to see Delaney working, earning some money for his adventures. He did a good job, learning to make popcorn and then to serve food to people. He did it without complaint, which is better than a few of the younger boys.

Friday, May 15, 2009

8 Years Old

Tonight we had Kendall's birthday party, a pool party in Parker. We were late, actually me, getting invitations out last weekend, and we'd only gotten a couple RSVPs. Fortunately a couple of kids from karate came, one of our neighbors, and we ended up with 6 kids + Kendall. Plenty of food, pizza, which the kids briefly ate, before skipping cake and heading to swim.

We got pictures, but I'm too tired to move them. I watched kids while Tia and Kyle went to get Kendall's other present. We had talked hamster, but when they talked to the pet shop people, she decided on a Guinea Pig as they are not nocturnal, don't bite, and look better. Should thought the hamsters were like mice.

So we now have Buddy, the Guinea Pig, and Kendall is thrilled.

A fairly quiet birthday, but one I think she enjoyed.

Feeling Rushed

This whole day, with Kendall's party tonight, has this rushed feeling. Our plans to get a hamster were slightly derailed with work. So we decided to delay that until one of us can go with Kendall, either tonight or tomorrow morning.

I had tried to get a cake last night, but they closed after karate. So I called, and was told that 24 hours advance notice was needed. That set off a round of calling various stores to see who had 1/2 sheet cake, chocolate with white icing. A couple of King Soopers did, but I had to come get them. Tia had planned to help, but her conference call couldn't get moved, then it did, so I took off.

I found a bunch of 1/4 sheets at the first stop and decided to just get them outfitted with a "Happy Birthday Kendall" on top. Then it was loading up on supplies before heading home.

At 3:00, I started wrapping the couple things we had gotten, only to get sidetracked as it was 3:15 and I had to run out. Kendall wanted a trail ride, so Tia had rushed out at 3 to tack horses. I raced up to the bus stop, with spare jeans for Kendall to change into. I picked them up and met Tia at the mailbox.

Delaney and I came home and we wrapped the other gift. A good thing since Kendall walked in a few minutes later. She was hungry, her jeans rubbed, and she wanted presents, so they came back. I held her off on presents until later.

Tia came back, confirmed pizzas weren't ordered, so I went online to They have a nice system, but it requires 2 hours notice. I clicked around to get the local store's number, called them, things ordered, but it still feels rushed this afternoon.

Hoping we can relax a bit once the party gets going.

Cleaned Up

I shaved a week ago Sunday, so that was about 9 days ago. Here's that image:

and another:

Here's a picture from today:


That was the spend for Kendall's party at the store. Well, not completely as I got some deodorant, tissues, and Benedryl for the car, but about $60 for the party, plus the $75 I spent on the facility and we still have pizza.

Hopefully it will go over well. Not too many RSVPs, so I have no idea if there will be 5 kids or 15.

Kindle DRM

I ran across this blog about the Kindle DRM being a time bomb and I had to respond. The ZDNet comment interface isn’t great, built to generate page views rather than display information, so I’ll post my comment here:

I'd question the value of my Kindle at $350, but since I have an Associates account and get about $50/mn from Amazon, this cost me $150 when I bought me v1 device last year.

I think it's a great device for me, I travel/move around a lot, and I can keep multiple books with me, but the convenience that Amazon has brought to getting content is outstanding. That's me.

Do I wish I could give a copy of a book to others? Not really. Honestly in the 35+ years I've been reading heavily since age 5, I've rarely given books to others. If I like a book, I might buy a copy for someone else, but the second sale market for books is relatively small. And while I love libraries and sharing, I also think that without a strong first sale market, authors don't create as much. Or at least it doesn't get distributed as widely.

My view is that there should be some digital bill of rights introduced. If Amazon abandons the Kindle, and they have that right, they can't disable content that I have stored on my device. I'd also argue they'd have to make backup copies and send them to me if I requested them in a reasonable time frame. There could be some cost associated, but it should be required. They also should not be able to prevent me from putting other content on my device, and I've added some free MobiPocket books on mine.

We need a balance here, rights for publishers/vendors to protect their content, but not absolute rights. Consumers need rights as well, and while I don't like DRM, I accept it can exist. It just can't override all rights for consumers.

DRM is a sticky issue, and I’m not sure quite where to draw the line here. I don’t think that my Kindle dies if Amazon stops supporting it, though they should not be allowed to “disable” all my content. I’m not “renting” content here, I have purchased it, albeit with a restricted license.

Should I be allowed to copy my content to another Kindle or device? If it’s copyrighted content, no. And I feel the same way about music. Copying it for someone else’s use, so they can have it without paying for it is wrong.

However I should be able to copy pieces for comment, and I should have some freedoms to move the information around. If I wanted to print out my Kindle books for my personal use, or references, or backup, I ought to be able to do it.

I don’t know if the Kindle and the way Amazon uses it is the best business model for these devices, but I do know that I greatly appreciate the convenience of the device in my life.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

An Open Letter To Amazon

I sent this to their customer service, but it highlights a problem with the Kindle process.

I have a Kindle, and I love it. I make it a point to show it off to others that ask as I travel around and speak at various technology events.


Recently I went to look at a new novel from Eric Child and saw the hardback was $17 and the Kindle version was $14. That's not much of a difference, and to some extent I consider this a breach of the advertising that Amazon made saying that New York Times bestsellers, and most books would be $9.99 new. For me, and you can see I buy a lot of books, that was part of the purchase decision.

I won't buy this book, nor any others that cost more than $9.99 if they are books normally listed in hardcover at $29.99. And I will very much let people know that ask me about whether the Kindle is a good thing that the economics are making less sense all the time. I will pay more for technical books that often list for $59 or $69, but there needs to be a discount from publishers. The cost of the book, as well as the risk of inventory, is so much lower, a discount is needed.

I will contact the publisher, but please stop selling books above $9.99 that don't list above $29. It hinders adoption of a fantastic platform you've given.

I'd also encourage you to find a better way to make the Kindle more affordable. $350 severely limits your audience. If you could sell them for $150 with an agreement to buy xxx books over the next year, it would make a huge difference in adoption.

We want to continue to encourage people to read and the Kindle can do that, but it needs to be more affordable.

Steve Jones

2 Cans to 1

I was going to take out the trash today after the kids went to school. It's my normal Thur routine, though if we only have 1 or 2 cans, I'll drop them off while we drive away. Today we had 2 cans, but the dogs had emptied one in the garage when we walked outside. So I cleaned up a little, ran kids to school and came back.

After using the dustpan and getting the trash back into the can, I realized I really had about 1.5 cans. One (now full of pieces of trash) was mostly full and the other was about 1/2 full of misc trash. I loaded both in the back of the Prius (hatch open) and started off.

One problem? The wind is crazy today. It's howling, at least 30mph, and it's already ripped one screen off the house nicely. One of the windiest days I've seen and not much fun. I got about 10 ft down the driveway and the 1/2 can fell out.

By the time I'd stopped, which was immediately, and walked back, the can was empty. The wind had blown everything away and as I looked to the northwest, I could see some pieces of paper and trash flying away.

So I put that back in the garage and headed out at 10mph. Dust, wind blowing around, I actually had to open my driver's window a bit to clear the swirling dust from the car. I put the can next to the fence, and before I could turn around, it had tipped over. I ran over, gathered up some trash, some had blown away, and then tried to set it in a different place.

Repeat 3 times.

Eventually I got it

Taking the Hyper-V Plunge

Or at least I’m getting ready to take the plunge into using Hyper-V. In my machine dilemma, I decided to look at new machines. My first stop, as usual, was Dell. They have a lot of choices, but in terms of desktops, I struggled to find a good machine that would by 64-bit, run Hyper-V and not cost and arm and a leg. Actually my first step was trying to find something to run 8GB of RAM, and there were few choices there.

I went to the Hyper-V and Windows 2008 sites, but it wasn’t completely clear what specs I needed in hardware. They mention hardware virtualization support and trusted execution stuff, but putting this together in terms of the choices out there for CPUs isn’t easy. I wish it were as simple as a Pentium I, Pentium II, etc. Instead there are multiple flavors of dual and quad cores, various AMD chips, etc. Sempron, Xeon, Athlon, Phenom, Q8200, Q6600, it’s nuts.

I quickly decided this was a bad idea. I checked the C|Net Reviews, but they are mainly for people wanting to run Vista, and they don’t have a lot of info to help me. I wanted to wipe a machine, get Hyper-V installed and then do what I want. It seemed in the mainstream world there was a Dell deal for about $900 that had 6GB of RAM and a 64-bit CPU as well as a Gateway that had 8GB for about $800. However I wasn’t sure any of these would run Windows Server 2008. I priced out an HP that might have worked, but it was also up in the $1000 range.

I posted a note on Twitter as well and got a few recommendations, but most of them were “build your own” and that didn’t appeal to me. It’s not worth saving $200 or more if I have to spend hours trying to mix and match the proper components. I found a few more builders online, but none of them wanted to sell me a good systems, but without lots of bells and whistles.

In some searching around for information about the various CPUs I could get, I stumbled on ecollegepc from somewhere. They looked like a reasonable builder, and while they’re not local, they just attracted me as a nice, easy to use site.

I believe in instincts and they struck me as a good place to shop, so I checked out and priced a basic 8GB quad core. No keyboard, no mouse, no speakers, no OS, just a machine. It came in around $700.

Since I wasn’t sure what I needed, and what would match, I emailed them, telling them this story:

“I'm looking to replace my desktop and your company was recommended to me. I haven't purchased a desktop in quite a few years, but here are some things I'm looking to do and was looking for some advice.”

I was pleasantly surprised to get an email back in less than an hour, telling me that I would want to use the Q6600 Quad core, not any of the others, and a Gigabyte motherboard. I had a few more questions, including moving my current nVidia display adapter over and ended up exchanging 3 or 4 emails with their tech. Or maybe the owner, not sure who it was, but he was helpful, and quick to respond.

The whole process and advice just felt good and so I placed an order. I got:

  • 2.40Ghz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 8MB Cache FSB 1066
  • ASUS P5Q Pro
  • 8GB (2GBx4) PC6400 DDR2 800Mhz Memory
  • 2 x 500GB 7200RPM SATA
  • 22X LG SATA Lightscribe Dual Layer DVD1RW DVD-RAM
  • 1GB nVidia GeForce 9500GT GDDR2 PCI Express DVI/Tvout

I also got a fancy LED lit case that will impress the kids. It might annoy me enough to put a something over it, but for now it will be in the desk.

Once it comes, I’ll move stuff over to it and then install Windows Home Server on my existing Dimension E521. It’s a 64-bit desktop with AMD chips that should run that fine. I have 2 SATA drives in there and might add another to give me most space for backups.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dreaming of the White Stuff

I got my Snow Report a few minutes ago, and Arapahoe Basin is still open. It makes me want to go up there, just as I was about to give up for the season. I’m not sure I’ll find time to get there, but if the back gets better, I’d like to try.

All Alone



Loading up on MVP Goodies

Not MVP logo items, as I’m not sure if I really want to wear those. I was somewhat uncomfortable last year at the PASS Summit when I got an MVP ribbon for my badge.

Each year as part of the MVP award that Microsoft gives to people, they also include US$150 of merchandise from their company store. It’s a secure store, and Microsoft will cover shipping, but you can’t go crazy. In fact, you can’t spend more than your $150, so it becomes a challenge to get close.

The store has lots of Microsoft logo stuff, everything from shirts to jackets to notepads. Last year I bought my son a Zune, got him a case and headphones and a couple HALO shirts. Nothing was overly exciting for me, and this year I’d delayed spending any more. Everyone here has an iPod or Zune, we have plenty of “stuff”, so I wasn’t sure what to get.

I was browsing the MVP newsgroups this morning, seeing what complicated and interesting problems they come up with when someone had mentioned they’d spent their money. So that triggered me to go look and see what was out there. I figured there was something I could get, even if it was something silly. I ended up with:

  • An OGIO laptop backpack. I’ve been using one from TechEd, but it’s torn, doesn’t close right, and I need a new one.
  • Zune Premium headphones for my wife. She likes my son’s pair.
  • A Halo t-shirt
  • A USB Plasma ball – It will be fun to have on the desk.

I ended up spending $143, so I have $7 left. Not sure there’s much I can get for $7, or if it’s worth me looking around, but I’ll ask my son if there’s some game he’d like to get.

Just These Two Chairs

I found this blog entry, and video, entitled “How I spent a Million Bucks and Ended up with These Two Chairs” and had to comment on it.

This is almost what I went through in two start ups, money being spent on “appearances” that for the most part didn’t matter. I’m not denying that having a nice office impresses people, but it’s a surface impression. If you can’t deliver on that impression with real value and services (or products), then it’s wasted.

I worked at one startup, renting the penthouse of an office building in the Denver Tech Center. We spent a bunch of money on a nice conference room, including a patio outside, thousands on a fancy reception area, and (of course) nice offices for the executives in a circular part of the building.

As expected, us workers were crammed into cubes and shared offices except for a few that had private offices with western views of the mountains. I had one, and I have to admit it was nice, but over the year or so I was there, we didn’t deliver on some of our promises, and we had issues on many more. I visited a few of our clients that paid us (literally) millions of dollars a year to provide a service and they all said that they’d be more impressed with better service and software than our office. We were profitable, but I felt that we wasted a lot of money that would have been better spent on a couple more developers and new hardware.

My other startup literally started from scratch. I was employee 22 or 23, and we packed in people into offices, we seemed to be doing things right, literally with people working on card tables in hallways as we grew. We added a second office down the road, and that’s where things failed. The plan was to keep people in both locations, being thrifty with space. However once again the executives wanted to “decorate” to impress people, primarily our Venture Capital investors.

Wasted money, that eventually doomed the company. Actually that company might not have made it in either case, but we could have been more thrifty.

Spending money you don’t need to, until you' are at least comfortably profitable, is not a good way to run your business.

If you want to learn more about the business of Software, attend the Business of Software Conference. I plan on going, and thought it was worth the time and money last year.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Final Awards

It was the end of year Girl Scout meeting for Kendall where they got their awards they've been working on. I was a little worried that Kendall wouldn't have many since I hadn't worked with her in awhile, but apparently they've been all working together and so most of the girls got the same 5 badges.

It was a cookout down at Casey Jones Park in Elizabeth, where a number of Scout functions have been held. It was nice weather, and a good cookout. We ate hamburgers and hot dogs, and a nice little fashion show for each girl to show off her "paper sash" that the leaders had made. Very cute.

Mostly kids played in the playground, adults talked, and it went well.

Lunch with the boys

Another JDEC lunch, with 3 of my former co-workers. We hadn't gotten together in a few months, so this was a nice chance to sit down and chat about things. I always enjoy these and need to get them back on a regular schedule.

An Open Invitation

I sent an email to Mark Cuban after the incident on Saturday with the Nuggets/Mavericks. This was yesterday, not complaining, expressing some admiration for his ability to be a fan, and a semi-normal person while being a billionaire. I read his blog regularly, and I think he’s very interesting.

So I offered to buy lunch if the series came back to Denver. I said I’d be happy to meet him, not use up much of his time, and at a place and time convenient to him.

No response back, but I read this am on his blog he won’t be in Denver. He’s got a prior commitment in Vegas instead.

I might have to make the offer next year again.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Shuttle Bus Driver

I skipped karate tonight, which bugs me, but I'm in this for the long term. I can miss a few workouts to let me back heal. I actually tried a few moves last night and this morning, thinking I might be able to get by, but some of the low stances and twists I think would hurt me.

That didn't stop me from being the shuttle bus driver.

5:10 - leave home
5:30 - drop Kendall off a tutoring
5:35 - arrive karate, sit with Delaney for 30 minutes and read a bit.
6:10 - leave karate, go to Chipotle to get dinner for the kids
6:30 - get to tutoring, sit for 2 minutes until Kendall is done. Head to piano
6:45 - arrive at piano, sit with Kendall for 5 minutes while she finishes eating.
7:00 - arrive back at karate, pick up Delaney.
7:15 - head home
7:40 - get to bed, turn on heating pad, start working.

Yep, a little more work to go as I watch the Nuggets try to sweep the Mavericks.


This morning, with a sore back, I’m struggling a little to sit still, but I’ve managed to get things done. As I’m working along, I’m:

  • Watching/listenting to the TechEd 09 Keynote
  • Following/commenting about the keynote on Twitter
  • Answering a few posts here and there
  • Editing a few articles (2 so far today)
  • Packaged up a few articles for someone else to edit (2)
  • edited/scheduled 3 QODs around the articles
  • Watched part of the space shuttle launch on Nasa TV.

And I’m writing this blog post.

A productive morning!

Having 3 monitors really helps here. I have Twitter/email on one, the main browser in the middle, which has been on the Keynote most of the time, moving to a few forum questions here and there.

The left window, which isn’t the largest, has been the main window today. I’ve had the publishing Q up most of the time, where I see which articles/scripts/questions have been submitted, and then I pick them and edit them. I primarily use Edit Plus for editing, so I copy/paste things into Edit Plus, clean them up, and then paste them back, often switching to email to send the author a note.

I’ve switched (for now) to Chrome as my main browser and it’s worked well for a few days. The one hassle is I’ll hold the mouse button too long sometimes and end up dragging a tab to it’s own window. Not sure I like that, but it has been handy when I wanted to do it.

A couple bathroom breaks, and a few for water/coffee have helped to relieve some back pain. If anyone out there has permanent back pain, I really feel for you. I just have sore, painful muscles that I know will get better, but I appreciate the pain.

Take care of yourself!


Definitely feeling better this morning, though I still can't really bend over and support my weight without pain. I can do it, but I think the more I move around, the more I'm just inflaming muscles and slowing healing.

So I'll run the minimum, and skip karate at least today and tomorrow. I want to be ready for the weekend baseball and I'd like to get my red belt test done on Thur.

Where’s My 2GB?

While I was testing some things the other day my desktop was running slow. I mean so slow that typing into Live Writer took 15-20 seconds for the screen to catch up with what I’d typed, and my testing in a VM (W2K3, Virtual PC) was really, really slow.5-7-2009 2-09-48 PM

I’m not sure why since I had the VM running on a local disk with the rest of my XP installation, but I decided to check my settings for the computer. I right clicked “My Computer” and selected Properties. It showed me 2GB, which isn’t  bad except I had put in 4GB of RAM awhile back.

At least I was fairly confident that I had. I know I’d wanted to upgrade this machine from 2GB to 4GB since I use it a lot. So I flipped through my expense folder, saw a receipt from and started wondering what could be wrong.

My first stop was to actually see if I had RAM in the machine. I could have shut down, opened the case and looked, but that’s a pain. So I went to the Crucial site to check and see if they could rescan my system. I downloaded the scanner and saw this:

5-7-2009 2-17-06 PM

Now I was really confused. They thought I had 4GB, why didn’t Windows? I surfed around a little, but this wasn’t a huge priority. There were some sites that said 32 bit XP might only show 3 or 3.5GB, which doesn’t make sense. 32-bit Windows server doesn’t have issues with 4GB, and it should show up, but it’s an old OS, maybe there’s something here.

The next day I opened the machine, and sure enough there was 4 sticks in there. The only thing I could think is that they didn’t want to work together. One is DDR2 5200 and the other is 5300. I had a new 1TB HDD to install, so I did that, reseated the memory and booted. Windows came up, the HDD was there, and on a whim I checked the properties. I now had 3GB.


So I shut down, closed up the case, and rebooted. And found 2GB.


I chatted with a rep at Crucial, and she was nice, letting me know that memory should work together, and suggesting I just try the new memory. Mental head slap, so after we were done, I did that. It didn’t help and while it worked, I still didn’t have 3GB.

I put things back together and sat down to think of what to do. The machine was still slow, not a good situation. I need to do more VM work, I have SQL stuff to mess with and a slow machine isn’t in anyone’s interest. So I had a couple of choices:

  1. I could rebuild this machine as a 64-bit OS
  2. I could buy a new machine

I’ll admit the second choice sounds extreme, but I’ve been wanting a Windows Home Server to back things up. I was considering the HP Media Smart server, which is 64-bit, and will help keep all the data at the Ranch safe. However, that’s a $500 investment. My old desktop doesn’t have SATA, an old motherboard (6 years old), and doesn’t want to load WHS right now. And I honestly don’t want to have something that’s a hassle. I just want it to work.

So I’m debating about what to do right now. I haven’t had a new machine in at least 2, maybe 3 years so I’m tempted to upgrade now and go 64-bit all the way.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I had an uncomfortable night, but my back does feel better today. Not great, and it still hurts standing up and laying down, but I can walk around much better without pain. My jog was painful to start, but things loosened up a bit, and I was able to walk around with Delaney to work on his project and dig up dirt to make his Roman marching camp.

I think more heat, and another night taking it easy will go a long way towards getting me healed up for the week.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Church Sucks

We're not religious, though Tia is somewhat spiritual. The kids have been to various churches at different times and both of us think we're letting them down a little by not trying to get them more of a spiritual education. Not that they need to believe in God, or in any religion, but that they're informed enough to make their own choice.

In any case, we go to IHOP this morning and we're joking around with kids, saying that Mom wants to go to church for Mother's Day. We asked Kendall if she wants to go, and loudly, she replies

"Church sucks!"

Tia got her to talk a little quieter, and we tried not to laugh too loud. She's been with the neighbors a few times (as have the boys), and I know I need to get Delaney more education in this area for the Boy Scouts, but it was funny to hear Kendall express it. It's what I mostly think of church.

The Ultimate Star Trek Pad

My kids want this place: the ultimate Star Trek pad. Both Delaney and Kendall said we could do their rooms like that.

Tight Again

I went for a massage yesterday afternoon and asked the guy to focus on my legs and lower back. He did, stretching me out, and things felt better for the day, but as it got cold and I was helping Tia tape things, it tightened up. I lay down to watch some basketball and when I got up, the back was tight.

It's not a sharp pain, nothing seems broken or wrong, just the muscles are upset and they tighten up when I'm not moving. It's been getting better over the weeks, but I think that it's something I'll be living with for a few months.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Enjoying the Drive

A beautiful sunny day, and I took advantage, driving to down and back in the 911, top off, enjoying the great weather.

While I was out it clouded up, the wind kicked up and it cooled off, so I rolled up the windows and put on the heat, cruising some, remembering why I love that car.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Closing the Door

The garage door from the house had a spring hinge installed as the middle hinge. That worked well, keeping the door closed as we moved through it. A few months ago, however, the spring hinge broke. Not sure what happened, but I came home one day and it was broken.

So I took it off and headed down to Home Depot. And then to Lowes. And finally a True Value in Elizabeth, none of them having a spring hinge like I needed. I surfed around the Internet, and found a few at Hardware Hut, but none seemed like the right color and $30 for a hinge?!? Seemed outrageous.

We didn’t have any closure on the door for a few weeks and that didn’t work. It would fly open when someone let go, so I knew we had to do something. I got a closure from Home Depot for about $15, thinking that would work, but it didn’t.

The first few days it was OK, but the screws going through the trim didn’t hit a stud and started pulling the trim loose. So I disconnected it while I looked for longer screws. A few weeks later I managed to get some and screw into a stud above the trim.

Except the angle meant that the door didn’t close right. It would sometimes close, sometimes not. So I moved my longer screws into the trim, and slightly to the side to hit a stud. That worked better, but it still didn’t close all the way.

And it was hard to open. Everyone in the family complained about how hard it was to push the door. And what’s worse is that it would close slowly and you couldn’t force it. So you had to stand there for 10-15sec while the door closes and then manually close it all the way. 10sec doesn’t sound like much, but stand next to a door you went through and wait for it. It’s annoying.

I got fed up this week after doing some work in the garage, so I went back to Hardware Hut and just ordered a 4” spring hinge. It wasn’t the right finish, but I can more easily match this finish and change the other two hinges if we want.

The Yearly Checkup

I had the Prius’ oil changed the other day, and today I had the Porsche’s oil changed. I typically do this about once a year, even if I’m under my 5,000 mile limit just to get things checked out.

I use Parker Imports, who was the service center that inspected my car before I bought it, I liked the way they dealt with me, and so I decided to stick with them. I called the other day, talked to the owner, and he said they weren’t too busy, which isn’t always the case, so I scheduled an appointment for this morning.

And of course, I didn’t check my schedule and so I had a conference call. Luckily there was a Starbucks nearby where I could walk over and get Internet for the call.

I got back 90 minutes later, everything done.

On The Move

Kids to school, trash out, the 911 in for service, and I'm at Starbucks in Parker, about to get on a conference call. What a way to start the day.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Another injury, one I didn't need. This time I was at karate, we were working Filipino fighting sticks, and doing lots of cross strikes. I knocked myself in the elbow, not too hard, but enough that it was sore. Then I did it again a couple more times in the partner drills and it was nicely sore by the time we got done.

Ice on it, but it will hurt for a week, every time it gets touched. Not what I needed, and glad we have an off weekend from baseball.

I was a little gassed tonight. I forgot to run when the kids got home (too much to do) and then we forgot Delaney's bag, so after dropping Kendall off at tutoring, we came back to get it. We arrrived at karate at 6:44, and I thought, ten minutes, I can run. So I changed, took off, and managed a run for 1.1 mi, getting back with 2 minutes to spare.

Still, the streak lives.

Aiding Kenya

Apparently there was a drought in Kenya and the people ate all the seeds that they would be planting with and need money for more.

I came home from lunch, finding Kyle sitting on his trunk, with an empty milk gallon jug and “Help for Kenya” written on it. He hopped off when I stopped and told me that story, asking if I could help. So I emptied out the change in my pocket into his jug, starting the fundraising.

Kindle Update – Version 3?

I haven’t written about the Kindle lately, but I have noticed some news and I found it interesting.

First I saw recently that a new, large format screen might be coming out soon. This is interesting, and it definitely goes for a different market than the original. And it likely doesn’t include me.

I do like the idea of a flexible membrane, and it would be nice at times to not be concerned about the glass screen of my Kindle cracking. However the large screen I think gets in the way more often than not if you’re not in your house.

If it can do wireless delivery, and it has some protection from liquids (think early morning coffee), then I think it’s a good idea, and it might get more people interested in e-reading.

I have enjoyed my Kindle, and over the last few months I’ve read:

There might be a few more, but these are the ones I’ve gone through this year for sure. I’ve purchased a few books, though I haven’t had much luck in getting publishers to send me Kindle versions of tech books. I also started War and Peace as my “classic” novel.

I still am working on 4 books at a time. I tend to read them as:

I try to read a chapter of each and then switch. It tends to keep me moving through dryer content. I will admit to sometimes reading 2 or 3 chapters of the fiction books at times.

I also saw a note that most Kindle users are old, which makes sense. Most people I know my age or younger tend to watch more interactive media instead of reading. Older people still lean towards reading, as a gross generalization. It’s also an expensive device, at $350, and while I think I save some $$, it’s more the convenience for me. to date I have purchased over 100 books in less than a year, and many of these for under $9.99. They were new books, typically in the $15-20 range for me, so I think I’ve saved money, plus I’ve carried along dozens of books as a travel. The convenience is great.

My kids enjoy it as well. I purchased Marley at karate one night for my 7 year old to read (along with The Jungle Book and a few others as samples), and my 10 year old will grab it to read some of the sci-fi that’s loaded on there. Things that wouldn’t be possible if I were carrying my current book or two around.

I also have found the battery life to be excellent. I read most days, but I plug it in only every 4th or 5th day with no issues.