Monthly Archives: November 2006

Size 8

t_65890_1.jpgAll I want is to get a new pair of walking shoes.

I went to Dicks Sporting Goods yesterday to see what they had … not a great selection, but I found something that I thought would work. Unfortunately, when it comes to outdoors shoes they only carry size 8 and up. I wear size 7½.

Ok, I figured that REI would have more sizes … but they too only carry size 8 and higher. The guy at REI said that some of the shoes run a bit small, so I tried a pair that was size 8, but I could feel the fit wasn’t right.

Although I don’t like to buy shoes online, but I may have to buy some shoes from Sierra Trading Post (which was recommended to me by my co-worker Jerome).

[tags]rei, shoes, hiking[/tags]

Waterfall Digital Photography

Waterfalls do present themselves as a wonderful and challenging subject matter to photographers. Firstly they’re beautiful places, secondly they are often in tricky lighting situation and thirdly they’re a dynamic subject as they’re moving (and of course movement means a challenge but also a real opportunity for a more dynamic shot).

I really like photographing waterfalls … this is a pretty good introduction to how to get dramatic shots.

Owner’s Manifesto

Owner’s Manifesto

  • Meaningful and specific parts lists shall be included.
  • Cases shall be easy to open.
  • Batteries should be replaceable.
  • Special tools are allowed only for darn good reasons.
  • Profiting by selling expensive special tools is wrong and not making special tools available is even worse.
  • Torx is OK; tamper proof is rarely OK.
  • Components, not entire sub-assemblies, shall be replaceable.
  • Consumables, like fuses and filters, shall be easy to access.
  • Circuit boards shall be commented.
  • Power from USB is good; power from proprietary power adapters is bad.
  • Standard connectors shall have pinouts defined.
  • If it snaps shut, it shall snap open.
  • Screws better than glues.
  • Docs and drivers shall have permalinks and shall reside for all perpetuity at
  • Ease of repair shall be a design ideal, not an afterthought.
  • Metric or standard, not both.
  • Schematics shall be included.

Convenience Checks

I had the oddest thing happen just now … I called a credit card company and asked to be removed from their promotional mailing of “Convenience Checks” … and was.

Convenience Checks are the checks they mail you that let’s you get cash from your credit card … and have a service fee attached in addition to the normal finance charge (which kicks in immediately, not after the normal 25 day grace period).

I’ve been getting a huge number of them from Bank of America for my Linux Fund Mastercard. Well, I finally got tired of it and called the issuing bank.

I talked to William, who was quite helpful … I explained that I would never use the check and I just end up shredding them.

William put me on hold for a bit then came back and told me that he had removed me from the mailing lists and added me to the “Paper Suppression” list, which should totally eliminate the junk mail I get from them.

All in all, a very satisfactory outcome. I was pleasantly surprised.
[tags]Credit Card, mbna, Bank of America, Linux Fund, Junk Mail[/tags]


The new tape drive arrived today … I was a bit worried that it would ever show up, as the vendor I purchased from seemed to be pretty disorganized.

It seems to be ok. It’s even new. I was half expecting the unit to be refurbished, which I would be OK with, because the price I paid was $200 less then the next higher vendor.

The only problem with the tape drive is that it’s noisy as hell … louder than both of the servers put together.

One oddity I found … the old tape drive would erase tapes in under a minute … but the new tape drive wants to write over the entire length of the tape. When I issue the mt erase command, it spins for a very long time.

Anyone want a marginally working SCSI DDS3 tape drive? 😉

[tags]linux, backup, tape, dds3, usb, scsi[/tags]

Taxes and Mortgages

Gotta love the government.

I did a check on the Cook County Treasurer’s Office website to find out if there was any overpayment of property taxes for our house.

Well, according to their web site, there was … and not a small amount. Of course, in order to get a refund I have to prove there was an overpayment. They obviously think I payed too much, but they won’t give me the refund unless I provide evidence that I actually over-payed.

So I go through some of my records … and can’t find any evidence of an overpayment. Maybe the mortgage company has some information on that?

I CitiMortgage’s web site to send an email … but the question form won’t accept my message because it thinks I’ve entered illegal characters … like a question mark. Isn’t a question mark a normal part of a question? It also won’t accept special characters such as !&;*)(%, etc. Seems like a pretty silly restriction to me. I know that a properly written web app can handle those characters. And, for what it’s worth, I didn’t have any illegal characters in the message.

Oh well, I’ll have to call them on Monday.

[tags]taxes, mortgage, web forms, cook county[/tags]

Another Convert

Well, it took a long time, but I finally wore her down … I got Ginny to convert her blog from MovableType to WordPress. Not only did she convert her own blog, but her churches website too.

I’m pretty sure she got tired of having to manually manage all the comment and trackback spam she was getting. I kept singing the praises of SpamKarma 2, which reduced the amount of spam I get to next to zero.

It took a bit of work to get the blog converted … the WordPress import didn’t do a perfect job, and Ginny tried out a bunch of themes (and tweaked them as she did), but in the end it seems to be a pretty smooth transition.

Oh yeah, another potential convert in the pipeline … I setup wordpress on my own machine at work as an internal blog … and commented on the VP of R&D’s internal blog that WordPress has a much better commenting system than the Simpblog software they are currently using … he checked out my blog and agreed. They haven’t converted the internal blogs yet, but I think it’s just a mater of time.

[tags]wordpress, SpamKarma[/tags]

More Hardware Problems

Just to add insult to injury, my tape drive (DDS3) failed today.

Actually, it’s been failing for quite a while … I’ve just been ignoring it.

I’ve had that tape drive for a long time, so I guess it’s about time it quit.

I placed an order for a HP DDS4 tape drive.

The new tape drive is an external USB2 unit while the old drive is an internal SCSI drive. This has the obvious advantage of allowing me to use the new tape drive on any of my systems.