Off the Top
Random notes and rants.





OtT Archives

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Wednesday, February 28, 2001
The Seattle Quake seems to have been picked up first by Metafilter.

I revisited Philip Greenspun's site last night. It was one of the first sites I found in the early Web days that had photos (or maybe it was his pages). Now five to seven years later I am have broadband downloading with 600 plus kbps, a 21 inch monitor, and great graphics card and I am back in awe with the photos. Now rather than waiting minutes for a picture to download over a 14.4kbps (or was is 9.6kbps) modem on to a 14 inch screen it is much better and more instant gratification.

Tuesday, February 27, 2001
As noted by there is quiet in the force.

Second day sick. This really sucks. My head needs a steam cleaning and my muscles serious pain relief. It "looks" like a rather nice day again. I don't know if it is better to be in sick with a window to know it is nice out or working in a windowless environment where you have no clue (other than the DC Window unknown-courtesy of NBC4.

Monday, February 26, 2001
The first day home sick in more than a year and a half. I really would have liked to make it even longer. yeck.
Sunday, February 25, 2001
The New York Sunday Times Magazine had a very good article on the teen whom the SEC was haunting for "deceiving the market". Michael Lewis did a good job.

I found out my dad loves Napster. I find this thouroughly entertaining in its self.

Saturday, February 24, 2001
I finally got my computer back after four days of suffering from a Microsoft .dll conflict that would not let me log into my computer. Features!!!

I found, through Metafilter (I believe) the Open Source Cola, which if I had been reading Slashdot I would have found it sooner. Having a cola formula is amazing as I have tried to figure out what tastes were in cola for years. Now I can rest.

Wednesday, February 21, 2001
Issues with "consumer" products have had me out of order for a few days. The HP Pavilion has largely been gutted of its consumer based guts as its DSL modem, NIC card, and analog modem/sound card combo were not up to one task or another that were required in getting a broadband connection at home and running a small network. Trying to share the broadband Internet connection between two Microsoft (you can find the link on your own) Windows "consumer" variants was been a strain to say the least, particularly when believing that a "wizard" will solve the problems. I finally got the computers sharing printers and other various items after manually setting the IP addresses, which the "wizard" kept undoing. The Pavilion could not be logged into after a few starts and stops as the Windows ME login message was corrupted by a .dll. I could not login with out a message window to fill in or cancel so my computer would not start. After a fit of cleaning up, with was somewhat undone, the Emergency boot diskette could not be found. I may have purchased my last consumer focussed product (but they are so much less). I am really wanting Linux back at home too.
Sunday, February 18, 2001
Pitchers and Catchers have arrived at training camps. The smell of nachos, hot dogs, and sausage in the warm summer air (the warm summer air is a novelty for me still as a transplant to the East Coast from Candlestick).

The JSP problems strike again. I tried to view the SF Giant's homepage, which has been incorporated in to the Major League Baseball site, and I get a server busy error. Clicking directly on the SF Giants link on the error page will get me there. Why does JSP barf all the time. I need to start capturing a list of all the JSP/JHTML pages that will not complete or have chunks missing. I know the serving of JSP requires much more server resources than other preprocessed script servers like PHP, but how much more? Is it not scalable enough to provide broad demands of basic data? Is it a JSP phenomenon or will PHP connecting to Java Servelets (that then go back and get information through EJB (Enterprise Java Beans) also run into similar inadequacies?

Looks like the XFL (who knows how soon a link would disappear, so one is not provided) is having problems attracting viewers in its third week. The USFL had some top talent, and it had issues. The XFL seems to target those that are out partying or otherwise entertained when the XFL games are being played. Even the World Football League had better talent and was taking the games to new cities. I just don't get where the XFL is going, not that I ever did, but I am not in its target audience as a quality football loving male outside the "boorish smackdown mentality" mindset.

Friday, February 16, 2001
I picked up the Jondi & Spesh new We are Connected yesterday. It is great to say the least. It is nice to see the Looq Records guys, who were my tight friends when I was living in SF hit the stars with this one.

I picked up a few other items in the Amazon order too, but I have not really focussed on many of the other items. I have peeked at the MySQL/PHP Database Application book by Greenspan and Bulger. It looks very good for getting through the general basics and even has some "advanced" applications you can build. It will be a good book for home projects or to loan to those learning PHP. I can't figure out from here these people around me keep getting hooked on PHP.

It has been a strange and frustrating week to say the least. When I looked up from programming and see what has been happening for the past few weeks I wished I had just kept my head down and kept programming, but it was a breaking point and I was trying to figure out what happened to the food chain that is in place to prepare everything for the last stages, my realm.

Thursday, February 15, 2001
A good V-day, it was quiet as we ate Joy's pasta aribiata in and watched West Wing on NBC.

I added a couple new links and repaired a couple others. New are the Financial Times (which was part of my original links page years ago -but fell off when content was limited) and the New Yorker. The 49ers links have been properly fixed again, too.

Wednesday, February 14, 2001
I think my mind is made up, SXSW. Also running at the same time is WebSphere, which seems very much like the $1k conference for those who don't are behind and need to had somebody tell them what is new (or actually was posted by someone at SXSW 12 to 18 months prior on a web board or was learned through experience about the same time).

The food analogy is largely written, but I have been using the wine analogy the past couple days to drive home points that severe hammering away has not done in over a year. The browser based representation of information from a data warehouse requires knowledge of the data, much like wine making if you do not understand the fruit or grapes, the fruit is not cleaned well, it will not matter the bottling process or the labelling to help the user understand or even consider the wine. Throwing data in the hopper in a database does not make it usable with out knowledge of the data or metadata to translate code. It has been painful to say the least.

Web site redesigns of and CNN have be at opposite ends of the approval scale. I really enjoy Weather's new design. It is more compact and make finding the different information I has saved on much easier. CNN on the other hand has made it rather difficult to find what I am looking for in the different sections. The offerings for each section are more limited, the differentiation of sections has been greatly diminished, and the top news area offers less information. In some ways it is similar to ESPN in that single headlines are packed tightly together and finding information you are interested in takes many more clicks or you just give up and miss it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2001
I am strongly considering South by Southwest this year. I did not realize how reasonable the conference was going to be. I have not done any "professional development" in a while. Heading to the Internet World Exhibition hall helps understand product availability and get some hands on experience, but actual geek to geek... None. I usually an not impressed by the large firm spokesman giving pat cookie cutters that are found in most trade publications or were the discussion board topics to solve 12 to 18 months before. Some how SXSW seems different. Could it be these are the developers of many of the sites and Internet practices that I have admiration for? The Internet is dying? Not. As a race to over fund poor ideas that had little semblance of providing a solution anybody wanted solved, yes. The browser-based environment is great for knowledge sharing with in organizations, or delaminating information outside an organization, a public forum to express opinions and share knowledge, or provide a wider range of possible customers access to what ever you are offering.

My version of "The Graduate" word would be Efficiency. Organizations are horribly inefficient, they share knowledge poorly, there are repetitive tasks that should turned over to a computer, and the process to get knowledgeable customer service is prehistoric (often provided by poorly informed people or complex processes to get the needed answer). I was a kid who loathed math class, I loved math, but having to do problem sets of 15 or more problems when I could understand and complete the easy, medium, and hard questions easily and perform well on the tests, I had problems with the repetition process. Math is logical and being so the answers were not rather challenging. In cases where I did not understand I did more problems sets. The loathe of repetitive tasks is what drives a large part of why I do what I do.

Oh my I rambled again.

Sunday, February 11, 2001
Every now and then we are reminded that it is life we are living and not any other imaginary thing. The web is great for tring to find what friends from the past are doing, but occasionally we find out a friend has passed. Such a case happened tonight as I had picked up a science-fiction book today and thought of Drew Roser whom I had gone to school with on a study abroad program in Oxford, England. He was a phenominal writer and could weave history and fiction wonderfully, even for someone in their early 20s. I found a memorial fund for a Drew Roser at St. Cloud State, where he graduated. A little more digging and I found he died of cancer at 24 years of age. This was posted by his wife whom he proposed to on a snowy day around Christmas about the time I met him. It would be futile to look on Amazon for something he has written or look in the "R" section in any bookstore. It is tough to stop and think what could have been. I can only say I was blessed to know him for the short time I did. Life is short and I forget I must be thankful for every day and every one I meet.
Must get a Fry's Electronics here, or I need to move. I always seem to be running into a shortage of something about the time Microcenter closes. I know they close about the same time, so I guess it is just the idea of Fry's.

I need to check the mouse traps or mabye the storage place as I have misplaced two mice and many PC cards (video, sound, and modems). There may be a box with a small history of computing with in it. If I knew I had NIC card in the missing box I would have gone after it, but I know I don't.

Friday, February 09, 2001
The solution to the "li" tags was that they do not play well with other tags within them (as they should now be closed with the "/li" tag to help prepare for XHTML compliance). This seems to be what caused the browser barfing. I found this in the ever helpful O'Reilly HTML & XHTML by Chuck Musciano & Bill Kennedy. This book is turning into a great source of answers for those "simple" HTML tag questions and CSS.

Today another walk across the Mall, this time past the skating rink (which seemed to be melting in the warm weather). It was a gorgeous day.

Thursday, February 08, 2001
Now we're Groove'n.

I need to finish the analogy document and start and finish on living as a "new urbanist". After my birthday I am feeling like an old urbanist.

Speaking of the birthday... there were private dinners at Bistrot du Coin (which was recommended by Rob and Sheridan while they were in town for our wedding) and Green Papya. The loot included items strait from the Amazon wish list (how did you know?) the DVD of Creature Comforts, the wonderful Italian cook book Rao's Cookbook which may be the source of something this weekend, and Lego Mindstom Dark Side kit. This on top of Joy wanting to get to Reiters Books, what a great wife and buddy.

Minor tag errors caused much nashing of teeth and fouling of the air. Who knew that adding a the "UL" or "DT" in a "rowspan" and "columnspan" table cell could wreak so much havoc with layout. The layout problem was brought to my attention yesterday and my 1p.m. today I was stumped. Which lead me to walk to the National Gallery of Art to get a change of perspective. In doing so I found two hairs from a paint brush in one of Monet's paintings, the Palazzo da Mula, Venice. It took me a long time to warm up to Monet, but now I am amazed every time I see The Houses of Parliament, Sunset, the Japanese Footbridge (whiche we walked over while on our honeymoon), and the pieces from the series Rouen Cathedral, West Facade (which we saw four of five at the Musee d'Orsay). These and a handful of other rooms and my mind was clear enough to figure out how to get the simple HTML solved. The MS IE browsers and Netscape 4s could not render the page properly until I removed the list tags, Netscape 6 did render the pages perfectly. All the programming to make simple pages dynamic and it is silly HTML tags that are in conflict. I spent quite some time at the W3C looking at standards that would lead me to a better understanding of the issues. I learned an incredible amount, but not that precisely.

Anybody see the new Microsoft ads espousing their "enterprise" servers? I find one very funny that states you can leave servers running their software alone for days. How about weeks at a time like Unix/Linux? MS has raised their own standards and are using themselves as a benchmark. How reassuring.
Wednesday, February 07, 2001
I need to spend a little more time looking at Groove. It fascinates me and it hits that on the groupware itch and better team/group communications that has had me going for nearly four years now.

My internal time clock has been off since New Years. Time (an other favorite subject) is off for me as I seem to been living in the wrong time zone.

I found a Quicktime movie of SF Muni Metro that Kottke filmed and posted, it made me really miss SF. Also found SF Stories over the weekend, which did not help either (this is where I found the news of the Zam Zam.

Megnut's blog from February 5 was very refreshing. I have gone back and reread it six times or more in a couple days.

Salon has two entertaining articles on the Ken Burns Jazz Documentary (I am sort of relived it is over so I can get my evenings back). One is a satire and one is a critical review of the show.

A software development analogy is "brewing".

Tuesday, February 06, 2001
Yesterday morning about this time it was snowing with the largest flakes I had ever seen. They were like very large white rose petals falling from the sky. When the would land and stick it looked like George Seurat had gone wild on cars, buildings, and people.
Sunday, February 04, 2001
I just read the news from December that the owner, Bruno, of the Haight-Ashbury's Persian Zam Zam had died. This was a place that was around the corner when I was living in the Haight. It was know for two things: its martinis, and its surly yet gentlemanly owner. The place was difficult to get into, not because it was packed all the time, but because "the tables are closed", you could not wear shorts or T-shirts, you had to know what you wanted (like the magician in the "Holy Grail or you were tossed, and you had to not be loud. It took many attempts to finally make it (I don't remember if I was still living in the Haight or had move to the inner Richmond at that time). I had found a good tweed jacket helps. The place is under new ownership that is wanting to keep the place in tact, but I have no idea if the rules still stand.
Saturday, February 03, 2001
I am finally getting to network the our home office. It may take a little more time and a NIC card or two more than planned. Trying to share one DSL connection, but still not getting a Linux development box back, hmmm. GU finally won another game, this was against West Virginia. This is good, they did not look fantastic, but they now seem to have two small forward who are very good, but it is not the starter (I don't get that, but that is why I am not the coach).

I found a great article in Wired this week about What Makes Snowflakes Unique.

I stumbled across the Pompidou Center this morning. It really did not help. It is still fresh in my mind from our honeymoon (which included Amsterdam, Bruges, and Paris). The PC site is great, particularly the French portion of the site. A clickable map of the musée (museum) lists what works are in each room along with histories of the period, artists, and some images of the works. It is a great site. (I also just realized I no longer have a symbol tool that will easily give me the numeric entity for characters).

The weather this past week has not helped. No, it was not cold but is was that moderately chilly air with grey and breaking cloud cover. It really has been reminding me of Europe. Prior to the honeymoon my last trip to Europe was in 1988, when I was actually living there. I used to get "euro-pangs" every Summer which is when I left for a long trip (over three weeks covering Britain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands) and December through Spring when I was living there. I believe the lighting made me feel at home there as it was similar to the pale lighting that I grew up with in Seattle and Portland (the formative years). Over the past 12 years the pangs (like homesick feeling) gradually diminished. Now the darned things are back. When I moved East from San Francisco I was excited that Europe is nearly the same length trip as it is back to California, but it is cheaper. It is not unforeseen that I could (now we can) spend a long weekend in London, Paris, or any other place in Europe.

I still plan to post the honeymoon photos and to post a journal of the trip as there were so many amazing things.

Friday, February 02, 2001
Bummer!!! The Pyra folks are down to one. He is vowing to keep Blogger running. That will be great if he can manage it. Not having a revenue stream seems to have taken another tech firm down. Blogger has 75,000 active users building these things and 20,000 post more than once a week. I would have gladly paid $3 a month. Not that this would be relatively easy to build, which it may come to, but it is another digital group down. Web logging is an incredibly helpful resource for people to share resources and experiences.

Bummer number two. It seems Level 9 is on hold at best, if not cancelled. It was a fun tech crime show.

Thursday, February 01, 2001
The Hot Crab Dip recipe that was served at Erik's Super Bowl Party is:
*** 1- 8 oz. package of cream cheese (light works), 1 6.5oz can of crab (or fresh), 3 Tablespoon Mayo, 2 green onions chopped, 1 teaspoon horseradish, 1 (to 1 and 1/2) Tablespoon garlic, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1 to 2 oz. of parmesan cheese for the top.
*** Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix until blended in - cream cheese, green onion in a bowl, garlic, horseradish, and pepper flakes (an electric hand mixer will help) in a bowl. Now mix in the crab. Spoon the mixture into an over proof bowl. Grate the parmesan on top. Bake 25 minutes, the mixture should be bubbling. Serve with bread - thin German wheat dark breads work well.

Fight for your right to standards!