Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
2006-05-29
  I better turn that light off
The power company finally realized after about a decade that they could print more than text with the modern high speed laserprinters they use to produce the monthly billing with.

So now we get pretty graphs and all kinds of other niceties. Of course this comes at the worst time for them. They're giving us all this information to help us get upset and mad as heck. Next thing you know, we aren't going to take it any more. Now if you live in california, you already have gone through this, but here in AZ we've been enjoying the fruits of nuclear power and long term fuel contracts, so energy increases are just now starting to bite us in the butt:

So I used less power, and yet my power bill this month increased by almost 20%. Its going to be an ugly summer unless I get off my butt and put some solar cells on the roof.

 
2006-05-22
  How to have a good week.
Partial schedule for the week:

Monday:
9:00 amRoot canal
10:00 amWho cares, its got to be better than the dentist ...

 
2006-05-17
  Just too complicated for my old brain
A couple of years ago, I was doing software development on my own, and not having any schedule to keep I decided one day to checkout subversion. Since it was just myself programming, I hadn't been using source control (though I do have various little hacks to prevent the stupid things like removing my only copy of source; and I do have archives of past versions sitting around in tar files); but subversion was the new hip and happening thing so I decided to take a look.

Opening up the requirements page soon tempered my interest:

1. Apache Portable Runtime 0.9.7 (http://apr.apache.org/)
2. autoconf 2.50 or newer (Unix only)
3. libtool 1.4 or newer (Unix only)
4. Neon library 0.24.7 or 0.25.5 (http://www.webdav.org/neon/)
5. Berkeley DB 4.X
6. Apache Web Server 2.0.49 or newer
7. Python 2.0 (http://www.python.org/)

Some of the libraries that Subversion depends on themselves have dependencies that add features to what Subversion can do.

Ok, at the time my home machine was running Red Hat 7 (already a dinosaur), I was stuck with apache 1.3 for my user interface on the project, and I don't even think my version of GCC was up to snuff (they were changing it a lot back then). So subversion lost a supporter that day. Unfortunately it doesn't seem like anybody's learned much since then.

ruby rails So now Ruby on Rails is the latest thing since slice bread. Ruby is a cool looking language though I've never dived in deep enough to find some way in which it was better than perl. The performance of the engine has never been that great, but these days who cares--all the servers sit around being bored 99.999% of the time anyways.

Our main project is back using perl and home grown macros to pump out interesting views of boring numbers, but I have a number of side projects including one to keep track of rafts. The perfect thing, I thought, to use Ruby for. (I know if I don't force myself to use Ruby for an existing project, I'll never get around to using it. Just look how far I've gotten with OCaml & Lua). Somehow I'll probably also get sparklines in there which should exercise Ruby iterators.

Thanks to a hard drive crash late last year, I have a box with a relatively recent operating system on it now (FC4. yes I know FC5 is out, but I'm not updating my system. I don't even know where my system is, exactly). If that hadn't happened, I'd probably be trying to install Rails on redhat nine or something, heaven help me. Looks like there's a fair bit of advise for installing this stuff onto FC4, so lets see what's required.

So, since the OS is already up and running, lets see what the list of stuff for rails looks like.

ruby and party
yumex (since nobody wants to use yum on the command line)
fastcgi (which requires ...)
lighttpd (which means I have to rewrite iptables)
mysql (luckily I already had that, as well as sqlite; ah but there is some weird password reconfigure to make it work with ruby)
ruby gems
ruby fastcgi bindings
bluefish
query browser (what's wrong with the commandline?)
true type fonts (huh?)
This looks like more than a one martini install. Well, might as well get started... More news as it happens.
 
2006-05-09
  It just seems to be how my life works
Plan all you want, the universe just seems to conspire against you. Take this fine example I pulled up looking through last years photos, of how not to pour concrete.

snow cement truck

Cement cures best at a temperature between 50°F and 70°F. Knowing that, we called the concrete company in June to get on the list for that summer. When did they actually pour our sidewalk? I'll give you a hint: that's snow falling in the picture. Well, at least it wasn't february.

 
2006-05-02
  Still cold, still burning.
I had hoped to be done with pellets. Especially as I was down to a few bags after the fifteenth and wanted to just use those up and be done with it. I was also hoping to be able to fit the entire season's ashes into the ash bucket and only empty it once. No such luck.

Still burning. Got cold and windy again (even a little bit of snow/hail) and I'm still chilled down in the basement. Tried to go a day without long underwear on and after two days without the stove on I had to go run and get them last night. Tonight the pellet's are lit again and I'm warming up a little.

Usage to date:
November  1,200
December1,720
January2,000
February1,280
March1,080
April440
May...

Walmart ran out of pellets, but luckily now Home Depot has big piles of them. I wonder if they stock them all year round. I sure wish I had those solar hot water panels collecting heat. The sun gets upstairs so warm we have to opent the windows and let the heat out. Of course I also wish that I could close the door to the basement so that when it gets cold upstairs the worst of it doesn't make its way down here and freeze me out. Unfortunately physics is against me so I must call forth the tools of Engineering to fight back the natural order of the universe and warm my tootsies.

 
Life in the middle of nowhere, remote programming to try and support it, startups, children, and some tinkering when I get a chance.

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Blogroll
Paul Graham's Essays
You may not want to write in Lisp, but his advise on software, life and business is always worth listening to.
How to save the world
Dave Pollard working on changing the world .. one partially baked idea at a time.
SnowDeal
Eric Snowdeal IV - born 15 weeks too soon, now living a normal baby life.
Land and Hold Short
The life of a pilot.

The best of?
Jan '04
The second best villain of all times.

Feb '04
Oops I dropped by satellite.
New Jets create excitement in the air.
The audience is not listening.

Mar '04
Neat chemicals you don't want to mess with.
The Lack of Practise Effect

Apr '04
Scramjets take to the air
Doing dangerous things in the fire.
The Real Way to get a job

May '04
Checking out cool tools (with the kids)
A master geek (Ink Tank flashback)
How to play with your kids

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