Monthly Archives: January 2008

Space, the final frontier has a very poignant article about the three major space disasters that happened to occur around the month of January.

The event that sticks in my mind was the Challenger accident … I remember I was at work, at Triad Software, and we had been ribbing a co-worker because her husband had bought her a portable TV for Christmas … we all thought it was silly, but when the event happened … we were all glued to Gwen’s TV with it’s little 2″ screen.

For someone who’s interest in science and technology germinated with the Apollo program, took root with the Skylab program, and started to blossom with the space shuttle program, the Challenger and Columbia events were quite devastating.

I remember my dad letting me stay up late to watch the Apollo 11 moon landing. It made quite an impression on me.

Later, on a family vacation to California, my dad was able to finagle a tour of Rockwell International, which was one of the prime contractors for the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs (my dad worked for a company that provided welding equipment to Rockwell). I saw the tail section the Enterprise as it was being built … but the biggest thrill of that trip was being able to stick my head INSIDE the command module of Apollo 8.

I’m really glad that the US is continuing it’s space program … I just hope there’s enough dedication, curiosity, inspiration, and of course, funding, to keep it going long term. I long for us to put another group of people on the moon.

My Geeky Good Deed

The Grey Ghost was slightly overdue for it’s 40K mile scheduled maintenance. So I took advantage of the downtime at work (yes, it’s Saturday … but I’m on a high profile, under-resourced, project with a tight deadline.   I’ll be in tomorrow) to take my car in to the Food dealership and get the work done.

All that had to be done was an oil & filter change and tire rotation… so I had an hour to kill.

Obviously I took my laptop so I could kill the time (mostly playing solitaire, but checking some email using my phone’s network access).

There was another guy with a very similar Dell Latitude laptop … I casually asked him if there was any WiFi access. He indicated that he didn’t know … but he couldn’t use it anyways, because his wireless card wasn’t working.

I indicated that I was pretty handy with computers (especially the Dell Latitudes, since it was a similar model to mine) and offered to take a look. Turns out someone had disabled the wireless card in the device manager. I enabled the device and verified it was working by plugging in my portable access point just to see if the card could find a signal. I also showed him how to use the ‘WiFi Catcher‘ switch (when you push the switch, the a light will indicate if there is a Wireless signal in the area, without even having to turn on the computer).

Sadly, there was no WiFi access in the waiting area. I’m going to send an email to the Ford dealership to suggest they provide it. Sure would make waiting for your car a lot less boring.


I was just looking at my laptop (Dell Latitude D620) and wondered about a few things …

  • Why do they bother putting RS-232 ports on laptops anymore?   I haven’t seen a device that connects via RS-232 in years.   The only devices I can actually think of that used a RS-232 port was an external modem … and most laptops have modems built in (not that they’re used much anyways).
  • Ditto with a parallel printer port.   Most printers that I’ve seen in the last few years have been connected by USB (‘course my laptop doesn’t have a parallel port, but Ginny’s does).
  • Why bother with a DB15 video connector?   Wouldn’t it be better to just go with DVI?   If you need a DB15 video connector, you can use an adapter.
  • The hard drive on my laptop uses SATA … I really wish there was an eSATA connector.   I tried putting an eSATA card in the PCI slot of the D/DOCK port replicator, but the BIOS wouldn’t recognize it (which is fairly logical, considering there’s no guarantee that the card would be there all the time).

On a somewhat different, although related, topic … I really wish someone would make an inexpensive tablet computer.   I have an idea for a nice little appliance application that would be perfectly suited to a tablet computer.   All it would need is a 12″ display, 512mb of ram, 4gb to 8gb of flash disk, wifi, and Linux.

Obama Takes Iowa

Barack ObamaWell, it seems that the Iowa Caucuses are over and Obama has won.

I, for one, am quite pleased with this result. I have to admit that I was worried about Clinton. I’m not going to get into why I don’t like Clinton … that’s for another post.

Aw heck, I will get into it … it might annoy some people, but so be it.

In my opinion, Clinton has absolutely NO RIGHT to her position as Senator for New York. She was basically appointed to the position by the Democratic party. They wanted her to be in the congress and had to figure out where she could run. She didn’t even live in NY when she ran for office. Yes, she won in a free and fair election … but people were not voting for her because she could represent them … they were voting because she was famous (same reason, btw, that Schwarzenegger won in California). The fact that she (and Schwarzenegger) just happen to do a reasonably good job is just happenstance. I don’t know who said it … but I stick by the adage: Any decision, made in haste (or for the wrong reason), is invariably flawed.

The only thing I really want in the primary season is for the final candidate decision not to be made before the Illinois primary … so I have a chance to make my choice known.

Of course my choice is going to be Obama … and it may be a forgone conclusion by February 5th … but I at least want some semblance of a say in the matter.

On a slightly different note … I am REALLY confused by the Iowa Caucuses process. It seems so labor intensive … almost as if it’s designed to keep people from participating. I like the primary process Illinois uses. It’s a lot easier for people to participate in (not that they do).

Frozen Wiper Fluid

Windshield WiperThe only thing worse than running out of windshield wiper fluid on a ugly day is having your wiper fluid freeze up.

This happened yesterday, as Ginny and I were on our way back home from my folks house.

I’m a little worried, however, about a leak … as I thought the wiper fluid reservoir was full yesterday … but when we got home, it wasn’t.

I couldn’t get the tube unfrozen by poring warm water on it last night … but it worked fine when I started the car this morning (still in the garage) … but half way to work, it wouldn’t spray anymore.

A co-worker suggested some other type of fluid to try that is specially formulated to prevent freezing.   I’ll have to pick some up and try it.

Another upgrade, another problem

Yep, it happened again … about this time last year I was trying to upgrade my servers to Fedora Core 6 and ran into some problems.

Well, I decided it was time to upgrade to Fedora 8 … and, since I have time off, I figured this was a fine time to do it again.

Bad move.

Of course, in retrospect … there never would have been a good time to do the upgrade, based on the problems I encountered. At least I know my backup procedure is fairly good now.

I had been planning this upgrade for weeks … everything was set. In fact, the first half of the upgrade went smooth as silk. I upgraded the main web server (gondor) to Fedora 8 and it went pretty nicely. Only two issues, both of which were solved after a little research.

This gave me the confidence to proceed to upgrade Rivendell to Fedora 8.

I started the upgrade by booting from the CD so I could install Fedora from the DVD ISO image I had on a USB hard drive. Problem is, the system wouldn’t boot this way.

Continue reading