November 03, 2008

Election 2008

It is time for another election, and I thought that it might be nice to look back at what I wrote for the previous one. My concerns haven’t really changed that much, although I would reduce my personal weighting of the Islamo-fascism (although, like communism, I would prefer to see it buried in garlic with a stake through its heart). So, what will my ballot look like, here in the 30th District of California?

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July 14, 2008

Survived Another One

Ha! 33 couldn’t hold me down, and I advance to 34.

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June 22, 2008


Svn_authz_mail is a Perl script intended to assist with the maintenance of Subversion source-code repositories. It is common to configure Subversion such that it sends out an email to the project team, upon the successful commit of updated code (via a “post-commit hook”). One good mechanism for doing that is Dave Wheeler’s SVN::Notify Perl module, which provides colorized HTML email to an email list. It is also not uncommon to configure Subversion with access control, so that particular users have read or write permission. The Subversion “AuthZSVNAccessFile” is a good way to configure this, as it allow path and module-based specification of access rights in a fairly simple manner, and separates authorization from authentication (i.e. the AuthZ file doesn’t contain password or other account information).

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May 28, 2008

Lander on Mars

Here's a picture of the new Mars lander, Phoenix, as taken during its descent by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Mars lander
As Cory Doctorow writes: How badass awesome is it to be human? Super badass awesome.

February 10, 2008

Christmas 2007

Elizabeth and I headed to the comfortable environs of Niwot, Colorado for our winter vacation, from December 23, 2007 through January 1, 2008. At the home of her parents, we celebrated Christmas and New Years. It was fun to be part of their Christmas traditions. Since there were so many (adult-aged) people around for the gift-opening, it took nearly all day! Quite a celebration. Attendees included Elizabeth and me, her parents Janice and Richard, her aunt Mary Frances, her brother Chris and his girlfriend Amy, her brother Greg and his wife Nicole, and her brother Andrew.

There were many other activities while we were there. Of course, most vacation days are orientated around meals, and there always seemed to be something tasty. We made use of the Longmont health club, to try to work off the ridiculous amount of food. I used cross-country skis for the first time, and there were occasions that I could almost imagine that could possibly be a very efficient form of transportation. We enjoyed a couple of cups of coffee at the Winot Coffee Company. We visited Elizabeth's brother Greg and his wife Nicole, in his new auto repair business. The mellower evenings involved watching the Season 2 DVD's of The Office and reading Alan Greenspan's autobiography.

December 30 was our second anniversary! (See wedding pictures here, and here for our first anniversary.) We celebrated with a lavish dinner at the Greenbriar Inn, a lovely restaurant near the mountains. Interestingly, one of the highlights of the meal was the cheese plate with dessert... Lots of delicious choices.

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January 13, 2008

PP2One, updated

It turns out that my little utility program, PP2One, has some loyal users. I haven't really been needing it until now, so I never upgraded it to OneNote 2007. However, this was as good of a time as any. Some notable fixes:

  • It now works for OneNote 2007, and PowerPoint 2007. It will NOT work for OneNote 2003 (use the older version for that).
  • The layout of the slides seems to work better now, as they are imported via a table.
  • Because of the improvements in the OneNote API, it will work with WebDAV shared notebooks.
  • File sizes should be better. PowerPoint 2007 can sometimes export gigantic WMF files (bug?), so I switched to importing the pictures as PNG. This seems to work fairly well.
  • OneNote will now do OCR on images. (This was one of the reasons I never bothered to upgrade PP2One until now.) So, you might not need to export the slide text.
  • PP2One now uses the .Net 2.0 framework. (It was compiled with Visual Studio 2005.)

Here is the link: Zip file.

September 09, 2007

Sillickfest 2007 and Autumn Adventures

Belatedly, I've attached some pictures from the August Sillickfest adventure. This was another fun week in upstate New York, at the refurbished Standing Pines camp (near Inlet).

I've enjoyed each of my trips up there. This time around, some of the activities involved getting used to the new setup. Elizabeth forced me to swim around the island three times (each on different days), but that was a record for me. The water was cool and clear. The 2006 trip is documented here, while 2005 (an important trip!) and 2003 are also available in the archives.

I've also attached a couple of pictures from a hike with some co-workers up Mount Baldy (August 11, immediately after returning fit-and-trim from New York). We took the Ski Hut trail, and descended straight down the bowl. It was a moderately difficult hike, and it was pleasant to be down off the mountain before dark.

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July 30, 2007

Infantry In Battle

I just finished reading through George C. Marshall's Infantry In Battle, a "lessons learned" document from World War I. (I stumbled across a reference to it from an old co-worker's blog.)

It contained a number of case studies from the Great War, used to illustrate a number of infantry concepts (obscurity, simplicity, terrain, time/space, mobility, surprise, orders, command/communication, fire/movement, artillery, etc). The case studies are morbidly fascinating... In each example, anywhere between tens to thousands of men slogged it out in the fields of Europe, often loosing their lives due to bad information, shaky leadership, or sheer chance. There have been a number of movies that depict the trench warfare of WWI (dark skies, muddy trenches, another wave of men getting cut down by in a hopeless charge at machine guns), and this is a good complement to understand why those things were happening (on a tactical level).

It follows, then, that the leader who would become a competent tactician must first close his mind to the alluring formulae that well-meaning people offer in the name of victory. To master his difficult art he must learn to cut to the heart of a situation, recognize its decisive elements and base his course of action on these. The ability to do this is not God-given, nor can it be acquired overnight; it is a process of years. He must realize that training in solving problems of all types, long practice in making clear, unequivocal decisions, the habit of concentrating on the question at hand, and an elasticity of mind, are indispensable requisites for the successful practice of the art of war.

July 15, 2007

Summer trip to Indiana

With some scenes very similar to 31st Birthday, Elizabeth and I spent a very pleasant week with my family in Indiana. We celebrated the Fourth Of July, my birthday (several times), and, well, we celebrated anything that we could think of.

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July 14, 2007

Birthday Again

Another triumph, as I advance in years again! I'd like to thank my family and friends for the well-wishes, gifts, and (especially) the singing.

Here are some previous birthday notices on this blog:

Oddly enough, I didn't have an entry for last year.

July 11, 2007

Back To Blog

Well, it has been about a month and a half since I have made an entry on the blog. The reasons for my negligence are many, I suppose, but one of the major problems has been my connection.

I host this website myself. There really isn't a good reason to do that anymore… There are a large number of free (or almost free) blog-hosting services, which do all of the setup for you. The next step in complexity are the web hosting services, which run the servers and provide space to upload. Those are amazingly cheap, too, and provide 24/7 service.

But: I've learned a lot setting up Apache on Debian Linux, and I've gotten a better understanding of the infrastructure of this amazing internet. (The "New Seven Wonders of the World" are ridiculous and almost irrelevant. I like crumbling old monuments built with slave labor as much as anyone, but the REAL action is in the huge scale of humankind's more recent creative achievements. Where are the wonder drugs, like Herceptin, that save lives through detailed science of genetics? For the sake of all that is good, where is the Internet on that list?)

Anyway, I've purchased my domain name from GoDaddy, and that experience has been generally good. I recently upgraded my internet connection from Earthlink's residential DSL plan to the Small-Office DSL plan. This gave me a static IP address, a more stable connection, and better upload/download speeds. In the past, I used Dynu.Com for DNS (the service that directs requests from "" to the IP address of my machine, e.g. Unfortunately, their service has been HORRIBLE over the past several months, and (even though I had the premium plan) required a service ticket every time my IP address changed. I gave up on them, and switched to EveryDNS , and that seems to be a much better service. (By the way, DNSreport is a great way to check DNS configuration problems.)

So, I am much happier with our network now, and maybe this will even result in more blog content.

May 28, 2007

PCH on Memorial Day

Elizabeth and I did a pleasant drive on this Memorial Day, along the Pacific coast and through the Malibu hills. We've done this drive many times before, and it is always a pleasant one.

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May 27, 2007

On The Mountain: Gorgonio

Jeff on San Gorgonio MountainThe peak of San Gorgonio Mountain (also known as "Old Greyback") is the highest point in southern California, and I hiked to the top of it yesterday. Our party consisted of me, Kath, Kath's sister Suzanne, and Andrew, and we moved FAST. The conditions were just about perfect on the Vivian Creek trail. The day was sunny, but with a cool breeze. The trail was bone dry, without the leg-killing snow that brought me low last time.

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May 06, 2007

All Marketers Are Liars

I just watched this video of Seth Godin speaking to Google employees in early 2006. Mr. Godin mostly talks about the implications of network effects on product/market development. (Network effects come about when there the strength of a product to an individual depends upon the number [and importance] of other users.) I suppose that it really isn't something new... I'm sure that every MBA strategy class discusses network effects to some degree, and every marketing class discusses the importance of early adopters. (I remember the case study on contact lenses for chickens.) But maybe the technological development of the past decade has really enabled network effects in areas where they haven't been before.

Mr. Godin advocated getting your customers to talk to each other. Certainly there are many more ways for people to communicate. And communicate with strangers and those outside geographical bounds. Blogs, newsgroups, rating sites, portals, wikis, etc. Happy customers are the best spokespeople. (The flip side is that it takes only a couple of missteps to ruin one's reputation.) On the other side of it, the companies can use those same tools to find small subset of people that are really interested. I like the idea that the most profitable advertising is the most focused, i.e. spam, mass mailings, and other interruption-based marketing don't work.

Anyway, I had watched the video because I was interested in Mr. Godin's presentation skills. Well worth it. His blog seems interesting, too.

May 01, 2007

2007 Festival Of Books

Elizabeth and I spent several hours on a pleasant Sunday wandering around the LA Times Festival Of Books, held on the campus of UCLA. Los Angeles is moving towards "June Gloom" weather, with the marine layer burning off in the late morning and sliding back in the early evening, but it was clear and sunny when we were out. We walked around Royce Hall, observing the people at the Festival as much as exhibitors in their tents.

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