Friday, December 31, 2004

World's Worst Disasters

Dec. 28, 1908 — A magnitude-7.2 earthquake kills 123,000 people in the Messina-Reggio Calabria area of eastern Sicily and southernmost Italy.

Jan. 13, 1915 — An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 leaves 29,980 dead in Avezzano, Italy.

Dec. 16, 1920 — Gansu, China is hit with an earthquake reaching magnitude 8.6 that kills 200,000 people.

Sept. 1, 1923 — An temblor of 8.3 magnitude in Japan destroys one-third of Tokyo and most of Yokohama. More than 140,000 are killed.

May 22, 1927 — An earthquake reaching 7.9 magnitude hits near Xining, China and kills approximately 200,000.

Dec. 25, 1932 — Approximately 70,000 people are killed after an earthquake reaching 7.6 magnitude hits the Gansu region in China.

May 30, 1935 — A magnitude 7.5 temblor strikes Quetta, Pakistan, killing more than 30,000 people.

Jan. 24, 1939 — An earthquake of 8.3 magnitude in Chile kills roughly 28,000 people.

Dec. 27, 1939 — More than 32,000 die in the Erzincan province in eastern Turkey during a 7.9-magnitude quake.

Oct. 5, 1948 — An earthquake of 7.3 magnitude in Turkmenistan kills over 110,000 people.

Aug. 15, 1950 — Up to 30,000 are estimated to have been killed in an earthquake of 8.6 magnitude in Assam, India.

May 31, 1970 — An earthquake reaching a magnitude of 7.9 in Peru leaves over 60,000 dead.

Nov. 13, 1970 — A cyclone in the Ganges Delta of Bangladesh kills at least 300,000 people.

Feb. 4, 1976 — A series of earthquakes reaching a magnitude of 7.5 in Guatemala leave over 23,000 dead.

July 28, 1976 — The worst earthquake to hit China in 20th century with an estimated magnitude at between 7.8 and 8.2 leaves more than 240,000 dead in Tangshan.

Sept. 16, 1978 — An earthquake of 7.7 magnitude in Tabas, Iran kills 25,000 people.

Nov. 14-16, 1985 — Volcanic eruption of Nevada del Ruiz near Bogota, Colombia, kills approximately 25,000 people.

Dec. 7, 1988 — A 6.9-magnitude earthquake in Armenia kills nearly 25,000.

June 21, 1990 — An earthquake of 7.7 magnitude in northwest Iran destroys cities and villages in Caspian Sea area and kills at least 50,000 people.

Sept. 30, 1993 — As many as 10,000 are killed from an earthquake of 6.0 magnitude that struck the state of Maharashtra in India.

Aug. 17, 1999 — More than 17,000 are killed as a magnitude-7.4 quake hits western Turkey.

Dec. 26, 2003 — More than 26,000 killed after an earthquake of 6.5 magnitude strikes the ancient historic city of Bam in southeast Iran.

Dec. 26, 2004 — A 9.0 earthquake off the western coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island launches tsunami waves that slam shorelines in Asia and Africa, killing more than 135,000 people.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Iraq War Costs Fighter Jet

A sign that the war in Iraq has gone too far, the pentagon is planning cuts to the F/A-22 Raptor fighter jet program. There is no doubt that at about $256.8 million each, the F/A-22 is the most expensive fighter jet ever; there is also no doubt that it will put the United States Air Force twenty years ahead of the rest of the world in fighter jet technology. Initial estimates are for the program to potentially be scaled back to 160 aircraft from current program production of 277. Oddly enough, the pentagon actually admitted that the cost of the war in Iraq was a factor in cutting this program.

While it is easy to get caught up in defending the United States from terrorism, history has shown that major conflicts will continue to erupt between traditional enemies and even pit old allies against each other. The fighter to be replaced by the F/A-22 is the F-15, a fighter designed in the 1960’s that hasn’t seen a major update since the mid 1980’s. While the F-15 is a proven fighter, I’d much rather see US airspace protected by technology that has matured in the twenty-first century. Fighters like the Russian MiG-35 (in development) and the European EF-2000, are designed to be better than the F-15 in every way, and with the numbers that the EF-2000 are being produced, I don’t think that cutting the F/A-22 program is in the best interests of national security.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Andrew and Alex had a great Christmas. While Amy and I decided not to get the kids a bunch of toys, we went for DVD’s instead, the kids still made out good. Andrew still has a few gifts to open from Amy’s family, and my Aunt Joyce. I also need to swing by the bank and buy a couple of savings bonds with the little bit of money they kids received in cards. Anyone that reads regularly will know that I’m a big believer in savings bonds.

At the last minute I decided to buy Amy a few gifts. We were speaking on the phone Christmas Eve and she mentioned that while playing with Alex outside, it was really cold and she didn’t have a hat or gloves to keep warm. So, I went to the mall at 5:15 in the evening on Christmas Eve and bought her two hats, two scarves, and two pairs of gloves. JC Penny was out of gift boxes so I was forced to use the mall gift wrap, they did a nice job. While waiting for Amy’s gift to be wrapped, I went to Litman jewelers and looked around for an inexpensive necklace for Amy. I thought I had found the perfect thing, a pendant with her first initial, but as luck would have it, they didn’t have any A’s. So, I looked some more, and found a nice necklace with a butterfly pendant on it. Problem was, it was three times what I wanted to spend. As with all jewelry, nobody pays the real price, so, it ended up being only twice what I wanted to spend. Amy was quite surprised and seems to like her gifts.

I on the other hand, got my cordless drill. Amy was pretty sure my mom and Steve were going to get one for me, but I didn’t believe her. Sure enough, that is what I opened when we visited my mom’s house on Christmas morning. I have wanted one of those for a while. My mother also gave Amy the 7th heaven first season on DVD. One of the DVD box sets she wanted. My mother liked the book we got for her, Robin liked, and has already used the set of wine glasses that Amy and I picked out for her and Kirs. Steve seemed to like the flannel shirt we gave him, and my grandmother was a little confused over the big box of splenda until we told her that it was artificial sweetener. Alex and Aaron really enjoyed Aaron’s gift of toy trucks, airplanes, and motorcycles.

We dropped Andrew off at his mother’s house at noon and made our way up to Amy’s mother’s house where we opened a few more presents and ate dinner. Amy got several Friends box sets, seasons two, three, and six. She already has season on, and given the gap, is expecting four and five from her grandparents. Amy really likes Friends. Amy’s mother seemed excited about her satin hands Mary Kay product and Brian was pretty excited about his cook book. My last minute Sheetz gift cards seemed to be a good idea too. After dinner, Alex’s paternal grandparents picked him up for the rest of the weekend.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Firefox Security

I came across this MSDN Blog:

  • Installing Firefox requires downloading an unsigned binary from a random web server
  • Installing unsigned extensions is the default action in the Extensions dialog
  • There is no way to check the signature on downloaded program files
  • There is no obvious way to turn off plug-ins once they are installed
  • There is an easy way to bypass the "This might be a virus" dialog

It makes a good point about the differences in how Microsoft implements security differently than Firefox.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A visit from the Sheriff

Ok, so it was a deputy sheriff, but to the point. Amy and I were sleeping and are awakened by knocking on our front door. I heard the sound but didn’t register what it was when Amy woke me further by saying “someone is knocking on the door”. So, I went to Andy’s room to look down from his window to see who might be at the door. To my surprise, and somewhat of relief, it was a Frederick County Sheriff’s Deputy. It turns out that Alex’s father called and indicated that Amy had threatened to hurt Alex in some way. I asked the deputy if he wanted to go upstairs to check on Alex but he declined. Amy arrived at the door soon after to offer further explanation. After further discussion with the deputy, it was clear that the deputy knew that Alex’s father was just trying to stir up some trouble, but they have to check these things out.

About two hours earlier, Alex’s father had called the house to make demands for his visitation while he is in jail. Oh yes, he has violated his probation, not the first time, and is expecting to be locked up after his court date on December 20. He has this plan, to be out on work release every other weekend instead of working, will spend that time with Alex. For one, that sounds illegal to me, if not just a bad idea. We fully plan to provide appropriate visitation to Alex’s paternal grandparents, most likely one weekend per month and their birthdays. A full weekend per month is a lot more than Alex’s other grandparents get to spend with him. Also, during that time, if Alex’s grandparents wish to take Alex to see his father, legally, that is fine also. Interestingly enough, the only person we have heard from is Alex’s father, not his paternal grandparents, at this stage, they do not seem interested, or perhaps they do not know what is going on.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Google Desktop Search Vs Lookout

I have thousands of files and e-mails that contain information that I might need someday, while before I could use the search feature built into Windows and Outlook separately, they were fairly limited and really slow. If the traditional search methods couldn’t find it, I would just have to look manually. I’m not alone, and there is a clear need for some sort of indexed searching system on the desktop. Two products on the market are designed to do just that, Google’s Desktop Search, and Microsoft’s Lookout.

Google Desktop Search is out in Beta and I have been using it at home for quite a while. It has become a valuable tool for personal use. While I mostly use it to find old E-mails that are in Outlook, its complete desktop index has been helpful as well. It is extremely fast and uses very little system resources to maintain the index. Another good thing about Google is that when I do a Google search on a topic, it also gives me desktop results. Google indexes almost everything, temporary internet files, Microsoft Office and PDF files, AIM conversations, and of course, Outlook e-mail messages. Google Desktop Search is missing one thing, integration with Gmail. Since I use Gmail in the web interface only, my desktop searches don’t always produce results.

Lookout, from Microsoft is centered on Microsoft Outlook; however, it has the ability to index Microsoft Office documents and PDF files. What I really like about lookout is that it puts the search bar right into the Outlook interface, and it has a very Outlook like look and feel. I liked how it asks you during setup where to place the index, since at my office I have a limit of 25 megabytes on my Windows profile, that actually matters to me since the index is already 15 megabytes. The Microsoft Product seems a little slower than its Google competitor, but not by much. The ability to index public folders for Outlook clients connected to Microsoft Exchange is nice. Many organizations have large public folder hierarchies that are difficult to navigate and locate that one piece of information you are looking for.

Google Desktop Search is the better product, in my opinion. It is faster and can index much more information than Lookout. Google’s product is better users who are a little more computer savvy than average, although it doesn’t take a full blown IT geek to understand it. It is probably ideal for anyone that already uses Google’s website for searching. Microsoft’s product seems to fit better in an office environment, where end users vary widely in their computer skills. Since it integrates with Outlook and has the same look and feel, those who use Microsoft Office and Outlook would have a very small learning curve with Lookout. I will continue to use both for now, Lookout at the office, and Google Desktop Search at home.

Financial News of the Day

Not really. Just happened to notice on a couple of one dollar bills that I have in my wallet that the ink on the back side has bled through to the front side, it is quite noticeable, especially part of the O and E from the ONE on the back side can be seen on either side of Washington’s portrait. Since it is signed by John W Snow, I’m sure he approves of such sloppy work. In other financial news, I received a Wisconsin quarter as change today, guess what is on it, cheese, oh, and a cow, and corn. Fitting, don’t you think, although, a portrait of Brett Favre would have worked too.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Christmas Shopping Done

Amy and I went shopping on Friday night and Saturday. Can’t say too much about what we bought because our normal readers are on the gift list. The kids, however, don’t get on the internet so, we can say what we got them. We were trying to avoid buying toys, so, the kids got some DVDs, while the gifts are really for both of them, we wrapped Garfield and Alice in Wonderland for Alex, and the Shrek Collection for Andrew. We didn’t think that was quite enough, so Alex also got a musical Wiggles dancing pad and we got Andy a rugby stripped sweater with matching hat and gloves.

Top Secret Satellite

I was reading up on some space news and read about the launch a huge “test” payload into geosynchronous orbit.

Although it has no on-orbit functions, the DemoSat payload will then be carried into geosynchronous orbit and cast off about 5.8 hours after launch.

Since you can’t very well hide the launch of a rocket that large, just say that it is a test payload. The rocket (Delta 4 Heavy) itself is pretty cool, with a huge first stage and two giant boosters. I wish I could make a model of one of those.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Firefox Update

My original Firefox review:

In that review I indicated that I could not use Firefox at work because it forced the temporary internet cache into your user profile. My company is configured with roaming profiles and there is a twenty-five megabyte quota. Well, there is a solution to that problem:

To specify in which folder the cache is stored, add the following code to your perfs.js file:

// Path to Cache folder:
user_pref("browser.cache.disk.parent_directory","C:\\Path To Cache");

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Outlook 2003 Spam Filter

In the last two weeks, the outlook spam filter on my desktop has caught 50 spam messages with 0 spam messaging making it to my inbox and 0 false positives. I had one false positive when I originally set it up, a message from, I simply added it to my white list. I have it set on Low: Move the most obvious junk e-mail to the Junk E-mail folder. I have also added to my safe senders list, they send me E2K3 test questions with lots of link advertisements that got caught as spam.

It as been a pretty good experience overall. Outlook's spam filter is a scaled down version of the algorithms used in IMF. Hmm, 50 spam messages in two weeks, that is a little more than I thought I received, but with the Junk E-mail folder, you really don't notice it all that much. If only we didn't have to use roaming profiles.

My employer's e-mails were most likely classified as spam because of something peculiar in the header, several different from addresses with a different reply to address.

Received: (from mail@localhost)
by (8.11.6/8.9.3) id iAN07ZB23468;
Mon, 22 Nov 2004 19:07:35 -0500
Received: from (IDENT:root@ms02 [])
by (8.11.6/8.9.3) with ESMTP id iAMNk9X03118
for Mon, 22 Nov 2004 18:46:09 -0500

Monday, December 06, 2004

Top 4 Presidents of the 20th Century, According to Me

1. Ronald Reagan
The fortieth President of the United States led the nation to victory in the cold war. While the cold war didn’t officially end until Reagan left office, his foreign policy for the preceding eight years made it happen. Mr. Reagan also shaped the economy for the twenty-first century, bringing the economy out of the recession late 1970’s and early 1980’s during which the ranks of the middle class soared. Reagan’s biggest issue was ballooning deficits, but a debt well justified to prevent nuclear annihilation and a generation speaking Russian.

2. Franklin D. Roosevelt
The inspiration for this entry was a thread on the Frederick News Post forum. Somebody decided to knock FDR so I wrote: I think FDR had a lot to do with bringing the country out of the depression. Not that another president could not have done it, but the country was in a lot of trouble in 1933 when he took office. The economy had collapsed and there was a 25% unemployment rate. Roosevelt and the congress at the time basically invented the modern US economy. Lets not forget about that World War II thing either, Roosevelt was a fine President.

3. John F. Kennedy
JFK is another cold war hero. In October, 1962, Kennedy showed the world that the United Stats was not to be messed with. The Kennedy response to the Cuban crisis evidently persuaded Moscow of the futility of nuclear blackmail. There is also the moon speech, I don’t think man would have walked on the moon to this day without it. Yes John F. Kennedy was a great President indeed.

4. George H. W. Bush
Bush forty-one got a raw deal, eventually; taxes would have to increase to pay for cold war era spending. A small price to pay in the end, but Bush’s tax increase eroded support from his core constituently. Standing up to Saddam Hussein was a key moment in George H. W. Bush’s presidency, if the United States hadn’t intervened, Iraq would currently occupy Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and Saddam Hussein would control much of the world’s oil supply, while spending the profits on his nuclear ambitions. We can credit Bush for putting an end to that.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Mystery Credits Won

I wanted to get a screen shot the last time I did this but clicked away in excitement before I got the chance. I won 100 mystery credits.

That is something you don't see every day. Here is a hint for those on blog explosion, both times I won 100 credits, it was by clicking on banners.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Smores for Snack

Andrew didn’t have much of a dinner tonight because he was out with his mother waiting to get a prescription filled for his ear infection. I wanted to give him a snack before bed, and was looking in the cabinet for something to give him when I happened to see our bag of Hershey’s mini candy bars and the bag of mini marshmallows at the same time. I knew we had gram crackers in the pantry so I went down to grab them. I heated up the oven, put the chocolate on the gram crackers, and then put the marshmallows on top. I popped it in the oven for fifteen minutes, and out came some pretty tasty smores. The kids sure enjoyed them, along with some milk. Alex wasn’t too thrilled about the teeth brushing afterwards though, he also had to skip his standard take to bed juice because he just had a cup of milk, he wasn’t happy about that either. Andrew went to bed without a problem, he is wearing the PJ’s that Robin bought him for his birthday, they were in my mom’s closet for a while, and she just gave them to me two weeks ago.

Finally The OWA Servers are Finished

I’ve been working to deploy the new Outlook Web Access servers at work. I am the messaging architect at my company and my focus is supposed to be just the messaging portion of the install while others configure the Active Directory, server hardware & operating system, the network and firewall components needed, and even the SSL certificate from Verisign. The project started off on the wrong foot due to a delay in ordering the server hardware. That wasn’t so bad, but it took more than two weeks for the servers to be physically installed, connected to the network, and have the operating system installed. It was only four servers, why two weeks, I don’t know, it should take about a day or two. Now, you would think that an experienced web administrator would know how to get a SSL certificate installed, well, they were installed, but failed to work properly the first time. The problem was, that web administrator went on vacation right after and he was the only one with access to Verisign to manage certificates. After the web administrator returned from vacation, it was still nearly a week before the SSL certificates were installed properly. Our network group nearly came through for us, they configured the load balancer with a virtual IP for the four servers, and a DNS entry. The only thing that was missed on that end was the configuration of port 80 on the load balancer, they only passed 443. While we will require SSL, we still want port 80 so that if you type it without the https, the 403.4 error page will redirect to https://. I was albe to make a little progress while some of the things were being configured, but the bulk of the complicated stuff required the SSL certificates, which were only completed today. Needless to say, I worked my butt off to get it done today. Worked out pretty well, however, we need to do a bit more testing, hold a two week pilot for the end user community, and of course fix anything that we might find wrong during testing or pilot. Oh yeah, did I mention the deadline was December 31, 2004?

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

So I’m Addicted to Civilization III

I’ve been playing a lot of Civ 3 lately, and I’ve been thinking about some units that the game is missing. I’ve been reading some message boards about Civ 3 modding, but most of that is just cosmetic, not much that really deals with unit abilities other than modifying attack, defense, & range. So, here are my ideas:

A ship or submarine that can carry cruise missiles:

Non-nuclear over the horizon strike capability is an integral part of modern warfare. A cruiser type ship that could carry two or three cruise missiles would be a perfect addition to the game in the modern era.

An aircraft designed to drop several paratroopers:

Basically a plane that looks a lot like the bomber without the bombs but can house four or five paratroopers to be dropped behind enemy lines. I envision dropping some paratroopers on a hill or mountain to block access to a critical strategic resource. I know this can be done with helicopters, but only one at a time. Combine this with my aerial refueling tankers and it would be really cool.

A special aircraft carrier similar to the US Wasp-class:

Basically something that can transport four helicopters and four marines or paratroopers so they can be deployed behind enemy lines from the sea. Combine that with a transport full of marines and you have one hell of a fighting force at sea.

Aerial refueling tankers:

Imagine taking that stealth bomber from your capitol city on one side of the world, bombing your enemy’s capitol on the other, and returning in one turn. If you could place tankers on any map square that would extend the range of your bomber from the point where the tanker is located, that would be cool. As long as there is a tanker within range, the squares around that tanker, equal to the bombers range, would also be within the bombers range. That would be a bit more realistic than loading them onto an aircraft carrier. The tankers would have to be sitting ducks for anti-air units and other aircraft though.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Ninety – Eight Cents

I’ve made a whopping 98¢ from my Google ads. That could be because my blog doesn’t really contain words that generate ads that people will actually click on. That’s ok, I didn’t do it for the money, I did it because everyone else was.

Lazy Saturday

Actually, I did a little work, like laundry, but I didn’t fold, and moved the table and chairs back into the kitchen, and Amy helped me with that. The rest of the day was pretty much spent playing Civilization III (the Play the World expansion) with Amy. I could have played it all day long without stopping, but we stopped a few times. Last night I designed a map designed for two players to take on another six. The other six have more resources but have to work together to use them. The two have to work together too to make things work. So, Amy and I spent a good part of the day getting this game started.

I’ve been wanting to get the Conquests expansion pack for a while, so I did a quick Ebay search and found it, bid on it and won the game for five dollars. There was no shipping listed so I’m waiting to find out how much. It should cost about $1.80 to ship it regular US mail. Anything higher than $2.50 will earn the guy a neutral feedback and more than $5.00 will earn him a negative feedback. I don’t mess around, if the auction listed $5.00 shipping, that would be fine with me, but not listing the shipping is a little trick I’ve seen used to get what you want out of the auction. If you wanted $10.00 and it only goes for $5.00, well then just make the shipping $5.00. I might cut some slack depending on the method of shipment.

Friday, November 26, 2004

More Civilization III

I started up my Civ III game again. My best ally, the Ottomans turned against me. They were the second strongest civ in the game, next to me of course. I made quick work of them and cast them off into irrelevance. I took to many cities though, and couldn’t defend them properly. I ended up giving most of them away to the Germans, my other closest ally. Somehow, I was at war with the Babylonians but I didn’t realize it, and the Germans had a mutual protection pact. So, the Germans, a good ally and I ended up at war. I settled that quickly and ended both wars. The Germans are pretty strong, they are catching up to me in technology and strength. They are my friends again, it took some gold and luxury resources to make them happy. At this point, I’m going to hold in defense and let the smaller civs fight it out. I’m enjoying this game. I need to thin out some population though, I have a few areas on my continent (yes I have a continent) that aren’t covered, I’ll build a few cities in those areas and wait for the Germans to attack, I’m sure they will.

For now though, Amy and I are going to play a game together.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Amy made another great Thanksgiving dinner for our families. The turkey was awesome, golden brown on top and nice and juicy on the inside. It was finished a little early but that’s ok, the same thing happened last year. We had a lot of the standard Thanksgiving foods, turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing (dressing), green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Amy made a big salad with her home made dressing, and she made some very good bread from scratch. Everything but the cranberry sauce was home made of course. Amy started on dinner Tuesday night, and worked on it all day Wednesday. Our guests included my mother, stepfather, grandmother, sister, brother-in-law, & nephew and Amy’s mother, father, brother, & grandmother. Alex and Andrew were also with us. What a great meal and a great day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Frustration at Work

So many things have to happen before I can do my job of deploying new Outlook Web Access Exchange Servers by the end of the year. The servers had to be ordered and built by the server group, the web team has to configure IIS with a SSL certificate, I actually have to install Exchange 2003, the network team has to configure the load balancer, firewall, and external DNS, and finally, we have to test it all to make sure it works. So far, the server has been ordered, although the order was delayed a few weeks, two of the four the servers have been built and the operating system installed, again, delayed a week for some unknown reason. The other two are in limbo. The SSL certificate has not been loaded, however I was able to install Exchange 2003 without it, but it really can’t be configured properly without SSL. I also have to implement some sort of CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) authentication to help prevent DOS (Denial of Service) attacks on our user accounts. I have a proof of concept, but I can’t test that without SSL either because it will have to be integrated in the OWA forms based authentication screen, which requires SSL. Basically, the last few days at work have been spent trying to get around areas where jobs have not been completed by other groups, or simply waiting for something to get done.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Thanks Richard

Amy and I needed a new table for Thanksgiving dinner, since I converted our old table to my computer desk. We don’t have our nice dining room yet, so, we just use banquet tables. I don’t have a car big enough to hold it, so, I have to bum rides from friends with trucks or SUV’s. This time, it was Richard, so, Thanks for the help. Here is a link to his site (

Monday, November 22, 2004

Exchange 2003 Woohoo

After a day of issues, I finally got the first Exchange 2003 server installed in production at work. Woa, was it a crazy thing, first, something I was sure was removed a while ago, still existed, the Active Directory Connector. Of course, it wasn’t, and I wasn’t able to uninstall it because I didn’t have the right permissions. After talking to our directory services team, they wanted a lot of process to get it uninstalled. I called Microsoft and they were able to give me a work around. After that, I ran into an issue with the way that Exchange 2003 installs, it will not install on a new system if there are still front end servers running Exchange 2000. The first tech I talked to explained that there was no way around it that I would have to upgrade the Exchange 2000 front end servers. I wasn’t satisfied with that answer so I called the Microsoft Technical Account Manager for our account and requested an audience with a senior engineer. After a little conversation we determined that the best way to do it would be to create a new administrative group and install the servers in that group. That worked like a charm, of course, we tested it in the VMWare Lab first. Ok, time to get back to work.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Andrew’s Drop Off

We were a little late getting Andrew home tonight. He is due at his mother’s house at 5:00 but we were about fifteen minutes late. Typically, when I am taking Andrew home, I remind him that he will be seeing his mommy, and his sisters by name, Ezri and Kia. Alex got excited and kept repeating, “see Ezri”. So, when we go there, Amy and Alex came up to the house with me and Alex got to see Ezri. I also worked out some details for the Thanksgiving holiday in which I have Andrew because I needed to have him home a little later than 5.

Andrew Played Outside

Andy, Alex and I played outside and tossed a football around for a little while. After that we took a walk, then came inside and ate some ice cream. Now, it is time to take Andrew home to his mother.

Andrew and my Grandparents

Andrew skipped breakfast once again, he tends to do that a lot these days. The rest of the morning was pretty uneventful and routine. Andrew and Alex play with toys and they watch some TV. Typically on Sunday mornings it is a big rush to go to my mother’s house for an early Sunday dinner, but she had to work today. I heard that my grandparents were in town so I gave them a call to see if they wanted to stop by my place on their way home, they said they would be over sometime after one. So, the house being a mess, Amy and I kicked it into high gear to clean up. During this time, the kids were pretty good, they played with toys for the most part. When my grandparents showed up, I had to drive out to meet them to guide them in from the interstate. Andrew doesn’t pay very much attention to other people, so, it was nothing big for him. Alex was very shy at first. On a good note, Andrew ate his entire lunch, a peanut butter sandwich and goldfish. My grandparents, Amy, myself, and the kids sat around the table, the kids were eating and we were talking. It looks dry enough to go outside and play for the first time this weekend, I think we will go and do that now.

Andrew and another Book Mess

I don’t know why this boy feels that he has to dump nearly ever book out of the bookcase, but he does. Andrew, Alex, and I were in the basement, the kids were just playing and I was lying down on the sofa. I hear the familiar sound of all the books being dumped out. At first I told Andrew to take the book that he wanted and put the rest away. He doesn’t do that of course, and I have to tell him again several times to put the books away. Soon telling turns to yelling and before I know it I’m like a drill sergeant. Andrew is a pretty emotional child, so, being yelled at tends to upset him enough to cry. I would prefer him to enjoy himself when he is with me, but I just can’t let him get away with everything. Yesterday when he put the books away, it was a bit easier, and I was able to give him a little positive reinforcement, but I just can’t find a way to be positive when nothing has been done to reinforce. That is when I get frustrated, and I’m sure Andrew does as well, he simply cant express his feelings, I can’t even say, “dad, I don’t want to”. All he can do is sit there and all I can’ do is keep yelling at him until he starts doing the work. It’s a vicious cycle. I’m glad that after he finished, I am able to tell him that he did a good job and give him a hug, tell him that everything is ok. I’d like to remind him that being a good listener is important and how much easier it would be on him and me if he would listen to dad the first time, but his attention span doesn’t make it much past the hug.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Andrew is in Bed

I guess it was an ok day. It was fairly typical for a rainy day. Alex and Andrew played together most of the evening. Andrew got a bath; he was fairly good in the bathtub tonight. Sometimes he can really be a pain and make a real mess. After his bath I put some lotion on his legs because his skin is really dry. He had a glass of milk and went to bed. Alex and I went on a search for Andy’s favorite bed toy, little leap, found it in the basement and brought it up to Andrew for the night. Ahh, time to relax.

Andrew Makes another Mess and Dinner

I’m in the basement folding some towels and I hear Alex trip and Amy say, no wonder you tripped, there are books everywhere. I’m sure that mess was Andrew’s because I’ve figured out the difference between Andrew’s and Alex’s book messes. I wasn’t too happy about this, Andrew had just cleaned up the books, and I had pulled them all out and put them away neatly after that. So, Andrew had to put them away again, but this time, instead of letting him take his time and do it his way, I made him stay focused on the task and do nothing else but put away books until they were away. The good news is, he did a fairly good job and it didn’t take forever. I wonder if he got the message. There is some good news, Andrew finally ate a full meal. Alex had asked for pizza for dinner, so Amy heated up a Digiorno in the oven. Andrew ate his entire slice and then drank a glass of water. So, Andy and Alex are again playing, Alex just got a bath and Andrew will be getting a bath a little later.

Andrew & Alex get into M&M’s

When the kids are quiet for more than 30 seconds, they are surely up to something. That is what happened just a few minutes ago, they were not talking, fighting, or making noise of any kind. What do I find when I go to see what they are up to? The two of them were unselfishly sharing a three pound bag of M&M’s that I was snacking on later. The bag was only about 1/3 full at the time, but still, that is a lot of M&M’s. Needless to say, they needed their hands and faces washed.

Andrew on Saturday Afternoon

Pretty uneventful, he played in the basement while I watched a movie. I was hoping to take the kids outside today and wear them out, but it is raining. He managed to dump out all the block again, and made a pretty big mess with the books. He put the books away, but did a very poor job so I told him to work on the blocks while I fixed the books. He was putting blocks away and just about the time I finished the bookcase, I hear the blocks dump out all over the place. After cleaning up, Andrew and Alex got a treat for a snack, root beer floats. Andrew loves them, Alex, doesn’t really like them so he shared some ice cream with Amy. Amy was watching the food network, basically preparing for Thanksgiving dinner. Emeril came on and Andrew freaked out, we think he might be scared of Emeril.

Andrew & Alex Clean Up

Before we went shopping, I did my best to get Andrew to clean up the blocks. It seemed like a lost cause, until Alex showed up to help.

Andrew Early Afternoon

The mid morning was an adventure. While I was taking a bath, Andrew tried to get away with being bad. He pushed Alex on the steps and was throwing blocks at Amy. He promptly received a time out in the corner for that behavior. It is a little hard to get him in the corner, but once he is there, it seems to work better than a time out to his room. I think that Amy and I will use corner time outs more and more as the kids get older. Even Alex received a corner time out today, for hitting his mother. After that drama, we went shopping, not one of Andrew’s favorite things, but it has to be done. The four of us went to Costco to pick up a few things and then to Giant to fill out the list with some fresh produce and a few odds and ends. For lunch, Andrew received a peanut butter sandwich and a cup of juice. He promptly drank the juice and wanted more, so I filled his cup up with water and he drank that to, with a minor spill. When he thought we were not looking, he tried to throw away his sandwich. Amy caught him but it was a little to late. So, he is going to be pretty hungry until snack time. I’m sure in about an hour he will be really bugging us for something to eat.

Early Morning with Andrew

Andrew woke up at his normal time this morning; at least I think he did. Amy and I were dead tired because Alex was up all night. Alex has not been feeling well. Around 7:30, Amy is up to make breakfast for Alex and Andrew if he wants it. Since Andrew didn’t want cereal, I made him some toast since he indicated that he would eat toast. He didn’t eat it, so, he got a short time out for that. Breakfast used to be Andrews best meal, but he seems so uninterested in eating, even breakfast anymore. Now, I’m just trying to get him to play with toys instead of turning on the TV.

Didn’t Plan on Working Tonight

I ended up having to do a little work from home because the servers I was going to work on today (Friday) were still being built when I left. My part was pretty quick but while I was in, I noticed that a snapshot backup had failed on one of our more critical servers. Well, I’ve been working on that for the last three hours. I think I got it fixed, just need to test a few times. Anyone in IT knows that backups don’t happen quickly. Fortunately, these are snapshots so, it isn’t so bad, but the verification process on 100+ gigabytes of exchange databases can take a while.

This means that my day with Andrew tomorrow will probably be a little more boring than normal, since I will be dead tired.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Andrew on Friday Night

On the weekends I have Andrew I pick him up at 7:00 on Friday night from his mother’s house in Brooklyn Park. It takes about an hour for us to get home so, there isn’t much time for him to enjoy himself on Friday night. Alex and Andrew played for about a half hour when we got home. Alex is always so excited when Andrew arrives. After a little playing, we went up to Andrews room and read a book, the three of us. After reading, Andrew went to bed, followed shortly by Alex.

Now, it is time to work.

Intersection Update

It looks like the State of Maryland realized their mistake on the 355/85 intersection in Frederick County. While it is clearly an afterthought, the traffic pattern for 355 south has changed slightly to add a short left turn lane. While it probably won’t help much during the heaviest traffic periods, during periods of light and moderate traffic, vehicles continuing south on 355 and left turning vehicles will not interfere with each other. I guess it pays to complain.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

National Debt

If you don’t have it, don’t spend it. It seems that congress has a tendency to write laws to spend money that doesn’t exist in the treasury. So, what do they do, they borrow it. The Senate recently passed an eight hundred billion dollar debt limit hike, this will effectively bring the national debt to $8.18 trillion. While this probably had to be done to keep the government running, in the long term, it doesn’t really help. If the money isn’t there, don’t spend it, its that simple.

I would be in favor of a constitutional amendment that would require deficit spending to be approved by a two thirds majority in both houses with a signature from the president and a three quarter majority to override a veto. There might have to be some sort of exception for conflict situations, such as a congressional declaration of war, but other than that, it should be pretty simple.

I’m just one of those people that doesn’t think the role of the federal government is to spend every cent they take in. Right now, it seems that they can’t keep the credit cards put away. If the money isn’t there for some program or agency, we should do without it, that is what the rest of us do. One of the critical “Old Republican” values, fiscal discipline needs to come back.

Spam at Work

Ok – I don’t get it, people don’t blame the post office when they receive junk mail in their US Mail box. Why do they jump all over us E-mail administrators when they get SPAM. When we try to do something about it, we get slammed for blocking that one important newsletter that somebody reads daily. SPAM filter technology isn’t perfect, SPAM will always make it through, the only thing we as E-Mail administrators can do about it is try and filter as much as we can.

I personally get about 5 spam messages per day on my home e-mail addresses. Nearly all of those are caught by Microsoft Outlooks built in spam filter. Even before I implemented that, it wasn’t so bad, I just deleted it. Why is it that some people treat spam as if someone had broken into their house and stole their TV. I agree, it is a problem, but really, its nothing to lose sleep over.

I have a feeling that I will have a new project on my plate at work soon, architecting a new anti-spam solution. What fun. At least I’ve done it before.

Andrew Weekend

I have been thinking of writing about a weekend with Andrew. I have my son, who is mentally disabled, every other weekend and every other holiday. I got the idea from a lot of blogs out there where mothers discuss their daily happenings with their children. Not sure how I will structure it just yet, probably a couple entries per day or something like that, just explaining what went on during the previous few hours. Lets see if I can stick to it.

Monday, November 15, 2004

New Intersection MD355 & MD85

Ok, I would like to know who the moron is that designed the new intersection for MD355 & MD85 in Frederick. This intersection is the only way to get access to Interstate 70 east from MD355. MD355 is two lanes each way, and at the light, there is no left turn lane on southbound MD355 to turn on to MD85 (and thus I70). There is a left turn arrow, but if there is even one car that isn’t turning left, they still have to wait until the light turns green, leaving us left turning vehicles to wait behind them. Once that light is green, the left turning vehicles now have to deal with northbound traffic on MD355, while we wait for it to be clear, anyone who is in the left lane on southbound MD355 gets to wait behind us, even though the light is green. The intersection of New Design Road & Corporate Drive (side streets) is better than the 355/85 intersection.

I really like the new ramp to I70, I don’t feel like I’m putting my life at risk every time I merge on to I70 in the morning. There is much more room to accelerate, and there is no bridge piling blocking the shoulder if you can’t merge into traffic soon enough. It also looks like they are planning to put a bridge across I70 for Rt MD85, connecting it to south Frederick somehow.

MD SHA I70 Improvements

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Updated Template

I was tired of the green entry titles. I think it looks a lot better in the off white.

Veterans Day

It is a holiday that most people don’t pay much attention to. The eleventh day of the eleventh month started as Armistice Day marking the end of the First World War, a day that should certainly be celebrated. With the end of the Second World War and the cease fire of the Korean conflict, it was decided that all veterans should be recognized with a national holiday, a day where we remember the sacrifices made for freedom.

On a related subject, the Veterans Day airing of Saving Private Ryan on ABC television has become an issue for many ABC affiliates who will not air the movie. Saving Private Ryan is a movie that pays tribute to the Veterans of World War II, and the ABC stations should show the film, regardless of what the FCC might do to them. If the fighting men on the beaches of Normandy used the F word, than damnit, that’s the way it was, so let their story be told. I would be fine with my children watching this movie when they reach an age to understand the war. And before then, they can go to bed early. ABC airs warnings for parents, the rating is TV-MA LV, if your TV is set up to let your kids watch TV-MA LV shows and you complain, well, its your own fault. To bad the news broke to late for anyone to do anything about this.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Well everyone wants me to run Firefox as my browser. Here is my assessment so far:

I can’t seem to find much that is good about the browser but here goes. For one, it seems to load pages faster than IE. That is a good thing. It also claims to be less prone to security flaws, that may be more because of its 6% market share compared to IE’s 92%. Who is going to write an exploit that can only reach 6%? Also good, it is much more strict to HTML standards than IE, although, a lot of pages out there break the rules and Firefox messes them up. Finally, there is tabbed browsing, its just nice.

Now, for the bad, it seems to take forever for this program to load. IE normally takes less than a second on my 3ghz 1gb system. Firefox can take up to two, this isn’t scientific, just me counting. Also, when it is minimized, it seems to take longer to restore than IE. Who knows why. The worst part, I can’t exactly uninstall Internet Explorer now that I have Firefox, even if I wanted too. Problem one, pages that require IE, problem two, IE simply can’t be uninstalled. I ran into another issue at work today, it stores its temporary files in your profile, different than where IE stores them, since our windows XP profiles are network based, they are limited to twenty-five megabytes. Needless to say I filled that up pretty quickly. When I went to change the location, I couldn’t find it. A quick google search didn’t help much.

Is it really better? I would say, no. Believe me, if I were running Linux or a MAC, I Firefox would probably be my browser, but on Windows, IE will probably win out. I plan to use Firefox daily for a while to get a better feel for it.

Minor Template Update

Added Robin’s blog, changed the links a little.

I really like the blogger template that I use. BTW blogger flags blogger as a misspelled word. Anyway, its clean, easy to read, and easy to update. A lot of people think that the blogger templates suck, I disagree, it depends on what you want. Amy’s Journal, is clean, easy to read, and looks nice. I think the point is for the content to stand out.

What would I change about my template? For one, I will probably change the color of the blog entry titles, the green, is one thing that I don’t like. Second, I would like to add some light images near the title.

I wish I had another feature, I would like to have a notification list that will e-mail a link to my friends, family, and other interested parties when I make an update. Amy has that, although she is a bit more advanced than I when it comes to web stuff. She has moveable type, and knows how to make it do whatever she wants it to do.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Why Blackberry Enterprise Server Sucks

By now, most everybody has heard of blackberries, for those who haven’t, they are little handheld devices that deliver your e-mail over cellular networks. It’s a great concept, but the server component, often deployed by companies, doesn’t execute the task very well.

Today’s problem, one of our sites went down early this morning due to a power outage and is not expected to be back up until 2:00 PM. There are 36 users on the mail server at that site that also have blackberries on one of our corporate blackberry servers. This blackberry enterprise server holds about 500 blackberry users, the recommended limit given to us by RIM (the people who make blackberries). Anyway, this site being down is causing the functions of the blackberry server to be so slow it is unusable. The 464 other users on this bb server are left w/o their blackberry because 36 of them are on an e-mail serer that failed. This is just silly, they call it Blackberry "Enterprise" Server, you would think that it would be able to handle something like this.

All the end users know is that their blackberry isn’t working, it will be our fault somehow. It isn’t like we have a choice of server software to power blackberries. That is where RIM gets you, they don’t have to make it good, because you don’t really have a choice.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Washington DC Electoral Votes

This isn’t your typical election blog entry. Since the election, I was wondering how Washington DC got its electoral college representation. I did some research and found out.

First, you will get a quick a lesson from the Constitution of the United States of America, at least the parts that matter to the subject.

Article II Section 2, Section 3, and Section 4 explain how the President is elected.

Section 2: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

Section 3: The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.

Section 4: The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

Section 3 has been updated by amendment XII (12):
The electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;--The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;--the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

Ok, to the point. Amendment XXIII (23), passed by Congress June 16, 1960 and ratified March 29, 1961 is how Washington DC gets its Electors:

Section 1. The District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:

A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a state, but in no event more than the least populous state; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the states, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a state; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

So, there you go, DC is involved in choosing a president. What were the other states thinking back in the sixties?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Three Days without a Caffeinated Drink

I’ve given up caffeine for a while. Just to break my little addiction. I normally drink a lot of Mountain Dew, not strictly for the caffeine, but because I just happen to like it. I also like Coke, but none of that for a while. I figure I’ll keep this up until Thanksgiving or so. I’m really feeling the drag, it should be over soon.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Moving Mailboxes

It’s been a busy work weekend. Started working at about eleven o’clock Friday night on configuring snapshot backups for a new storage group that the CFO’s mailbox was moved to recently. I just happened to notice that it wasn’t being backed up. Than took about two hours, prep work, configuration, and then about fifty steps to ensure that the CFO’s mail would work and be restored, and most importantly, that the blackberry worked too.

I was supposed to call into a meeting at seven o’clock in the morning on Saturday, but I woke up just a little too late. I got an e-mail with all the information I needed and I was able to start moving mailboxes. They are huge! Many mailboxes are over a gig, I have to move them over the WAN from California to Baltimore. I think the link is a T3, but it sure isn’t moving like a T3, probably other utilization. So the day has been spent watching a progress bar go across the terminal session screen, while on my other monitor, I started a new Civilization III game.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Dinner at Red Lobster

Amy and I went out to dinner last night, to Red Lobster, as the title of this entry suggests. Amy was pretty hungry, and everything seemed to take longer than normal. First there was Frederick traffic, then it took them about forty minutes to seat us after saying fifteen to twenty, after that it seemed to take forever for our food to come out. It was good though, spent a little to much money, seventy dollars in the end, but Amy and I enjoyed the dinner, so I guess it was worth it.

On another note, we took Alex to McDonalds before he was to be picked up for visitation with his father. We got him a cheese burger happy meal, with fries and chocolate milk. His favorite part was the chocolate milk. He ate a few fries and a few bites of his burger. He didn’t seem that hungry. I want him to get used to cheese burgers, they are cheaper than nuggets, plus, we don’t want Alex to only eat one thing all the time.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Andrew’s Savings Bonds

Andrew’s savings bonds arrived yesterday. I thought they would take a few weeks. They took only about 10 days to arrive. It was a pretty big stack, 21 bonds. I have never seen a savings bond bigger than $100 before. I became interested in the presidents that are on the bonds. The $200 bond has James Madison, the $100 has Thomas Jefferson, and the $50 gets George Washington. I was curious so I did a google search and found out that Alexander Hamilton is on the $500. I should really get Alex a $500 savings bond now. Savings bonds also come in $75 – John Adams, $1000 – Benjamin Franklin, $5000 – Paul Revere, and $10,000 – James Wilson. Paul Revere? How did he end up in the mix? Ask 100 high school seniors and I bet one or less of them will have any clue who James Wilson is, a notable member of congress in the late 1770’s and 1780’s (yeah, I had to google that too).

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Amy and the SIMS

AMY: lol..I made us try for a baby for the first was funny. arms and legs were sticking out of the bed and fireworks were going. So unrealistic.

I think she is trying to tell me something -- hmm, are we missing fireworks in the bedroom?

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Treasury Direct

I’m a little disappointed. I didn’t realize that I would not receive paper savings bonds when I purchased them from Treasury Direct. I’m glad I purchased Andrew’s $2200 dollars worth of savings bonds at the bank. I will actually get the paper bonds. I guess it is a good thing that I only purchased two $25 bonds from treasury direct. If I were buying them for myself, the treasury direct method would be fine, but for the kids, I would like the physical piece of paper.

Flight Simulator Fun

So far I’ve crashed the Bell 206B Jetranger a few times. I just can’t seem to fly the helicopter in this flight simulator. I think I might actually need rudder pedals.

I decided create a custom flight from Andrews Air Force Base to Baghdad International Airport (Flight Simulator 2002 still calls it Saddam International Airport). I setup in the Boeing 747-400 and flew about 400 miles before I broke it. Somehow, I ended up going to fast and my airplane broke due to overspeed stress. With the 747, I was really able to take advantage of my dual monitor setup because it has a huge throttle control panel. Also in my second monitor I was watching the spot plane view, and saw the contrails streaming from my engines. I decided to mess around a bit, and cut off one of the engines to see if the contrail would disappear. Sure enough it did. Powering up the engine is probably what caused me to overspeed and die. Oh well, it was cool.

Computer Speakers

I’m such a cheapskate, I didn’t order speakers with my computer. I remember having several sets of speakers at some point, but it seems that I am down to just one set. Since Amy had a laptop, she didn’t use speakers. When I got my new computer, Amy got my old computer and I hooked the speakers up for her. Now, I’m soundless. I’ve been meaning to swing by best buy and pick up a set of speakers, but it has slipped my mind every time, until I get home and don’t feel like going out anymore. I should also get some decent headphones. I often disturb Amy’s TV watching with some hard core gaming.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Computers Set Up

The computers are basically set up, with the basic operating system and programs installed, all moved to where they belong. I’m enjoying my dual monitor setup. And it seems that Amy is enjoying the power of a 3GHz system with a decent video card.

Besides using dual monitors for productive things like work, I wanted to see what it did for Microsoft Flight Simulator. I decided to try flying the helicopter again. One of the hard parts about the chopper is that the control panels take up most of the view, making it a little hard to fly and see where you are going.

Amy is playing her new game, SIMS 2. She has been wanting that since before it was release, but her old computer could never run it. I’m surprised she even ran the original SIMS with all the expansion packs, it took 20 minutes just to start the game, well, maybe 15.

In other news, the Ravens won today and its time to take out the trash.

Happy Birthday Andrew

I can’t believe that my son is nine years old already. It is my weekend with him but this year it is his mother’s turn to have him for his birthday. It was supposed to work out that I would pick him up at 5:00PM on his birthday, yesterday. But his mother offered for me to pick him up Friday night like I normally would for my weekend and return him at 5:00PM on Saturday. That really worked out for me since I work fairly close to where he lives with his mother, it saved me a lot of driving.

Yesterday we had a pizza lunch with just Amy & Alex, then we had Amy’s home made from scratch chocolate cake with vanilla icing. It was even decorated. We put nine candles on the cake and of course, I had to blow them out for him. After cake, we cleaned up and opened presents. Anyone who knows Andy knows that he doesn’t really like opening presents. He received a Wiggles pillow from my mom, a book from Amy’s mom, some toy cars from my Aunt Joyce, and a check from my Aunt Gloria. I hadn’t picked up a present for him yet so after opening presents, we went to Toys’R’Us so he could pick something out, sort of. Amy had something in mind, called Toby the Tot Bot, when Andrew saw it, he couldn’t put it down, so, that is what we bought. From there we took Andrew home, allowing him to play with his new toy in the car on the way.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Baltimore City School Fires & Violence

One of the headlines I saw on the Baltimore Sun’s website was something like “School Fires Due to Lack of Security Guards”. I thought this was a stupid quote. School fires are due to students who set fires. Duh. While security guards can help prevent these things, I would say that eliminating the source of the problem is a better solution. Students who disrupt the educational process need to be disciplined appropriately. The blame here can’t be placed on the Baltimore City School’s budget problems. Of course, that is what the school administration and Mayor’s office will be quick to blame the budget, they will try to use it to get more money out of the State of Maryland. Why do students in Baltimore City deserve more state money than students in the counties? I guess it is because Baltimore City Schools can mismanage the money better than their county counterparts.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Where is the UPS guy?

I’ve been waiting all day for the UPS truck to show up with my new Dell computer. Waiting, waiting, waiting. I know it is out for delivery somewhere in Frederick Md. Did I mention that I live about a mile from the UPS hub here in Frederick?

Google Desktop Search

I installed Google desktop search the other day. It is working out quite well. I’ve used it several times now for an actual purpose. Since I do a lot of my finances online, I have a lot of different logons and passwords. I used it to find my treasury direct logon, my pin number for Verizon Wireless, and the password for Adelphia.

Of course I’ve messed around with it a bit. It is so fast, about 100 times faster than Windows XP searching, and 1000 times faster than searching in outlook. It doesn’t seem to be slowing my PC down at all.

Microsoft says they are going to have their own search soon, but until then,

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Car in the shop

I’m wasting a ton of mony on brakes again. I really shouldn’t put them off until the are completely useless. They aren’t that hard to do, but when they die in the middle of the week, there isn’t much you can do. Fortunately, I can work from home and still get enough done to say I worked. Since the car was going in the shop and I was going to miss a day of work anyway, I decided to get the tune up and timing belt too. I’m probably going to end up spending $1000 on the car.

My monitors arrived today. They are sitting in their boxes down stairs. I guess I will wait until the computer arrives before seting things up. I don’t want to get side tracked tomorrow from work. That will be kind of hard, because my computer should arrive tomorrow anyway. I’ll have to hold out until four o’clock.

I was disappointed to see that Dell was offering a sale on notebook computers today. You could get a nice Inspiron 9100 for about $800. My mother picked one up w/ 3.2GHz 512 meg ram, 40 gb hard drive, 64mb ATI Mobility 9700, and a CDRW. It was regularly $1,549, she picked it up for $799. The deal was $750 off Inspirons over $1500. Not that I want a laptop, but Amy does. She actually needed a computer before me. The plan was to get her one this year, and me one next year. But I didn’t want to pass up the 40% off deal, and the best deal for 40% off was something with two 20” flat panels.

Monday, October 18, 2004

New Dell Ordered

My new Dell computer should ship today. I ordered it on Thursday night at about 7:50 PM. Dell had a deal for 40% off desktop computers over $2499. The deal ended at 8:00 PM that night. I ended up buying a Dell Dimension 8400 Series with two 20” flat panel monitors.

The Specifications:

Intel Pentium 4 Processor at 3 GHz with 800 MHz front side bus
1GB DDR2 SDRAM at 400 MHz
128MB PCI Express x16 (DVI/VGA/TV-out) ATI Radeon X300 SE Video Card
160GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM)
Dual Optical Drives 48x CD-RW and 16X DVD+RW
Two 20 in (20.0 in viewable) 2001FP Digital Flat Panel Display

The whole thing ended up costing me $1,618.80. Kind of pricy for a 3 GHz with a low end video card, but the two 20” flat panel displays were most of the cost.

I’m looking forward to its arrival so I can get it set up, and then get my old computer set up for Amy to use. She needs a faster computer to play the SIMS 2.

Mountain Dew

It isn't even noon and I'm on my third Mountian Dew of the day. Did I mention that this is my on call week for work?


Sunday, October 17, 2004

Andrew made $108.81

In October of 2000, I set up a one year CD account with $1,000 for Andrew at 5.1% APY. Each year following, the APY went down; last year it was 1% and the renewal was going to be for 1% this year. I realized that it would make more sense just to use that money to buy savings bonds. I closed the account and put $8.81 into Andrew’s savings account and spent the remaining $1,100 several denominations of savings bonds. Andrew now has five $200 bonds, eight $100 bonds, & eight $50 bonds. I was in a bit of a hurry, I now wish I would have bought three $500, four $100, & four $50.

My CIV3 game is getting interesting. I’m trying to take over the world and have run into a snag. First, I accidentally nuked my main staging city for an invasion of the Spanish. I probably destroyed twenty-five modern armor units and ten mechnizied infantry units. Not to mention cutting my supply rail roads and spreading pollution all around. The Spanish also captured two of my four key air bases that I was using to bomb their cities. I had them defended fairly well, two modern armor units and one mechanized infantry unit each, but the Spanish used about six modern armor units each to take the bases. That cost me eighteen to twenty stealth bombers, a couple of stealth fighters, and a few standard jet fighters. I could call for peace right now, but I’m thinking that I will just escalate the fight to nuclear. I have twenty-five ICBMs ready to go, the Spanish have none that I know of, and only one tactical nuke. My plan is to take three cities right in the center of their cultural influence, effectively splitting their land into two halves, north and south. Most of their population is in the south, while most of their war making resources are in the north. I may call a peace after that and see what happens.

Yestarday was Amy’s twenty-third birthday. Check out her journal for the details.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Let’s just say about 70,000

Where do they dig up these products? Mailsweeper strikes again. When I worked at the US Department of Labor we had Mailsweeper. It was the most problematic component of our e-mail system. After failure and more failure, they finally agreed to get rid of it. Problem solved. I get a new job, and what do they run for their mail gateway? Mailsweeper. Basically, it broke this weekend and we came in to 70,000 unprocessed e-mail messages that had to be parsed manually and moved to other servers to be processed. Fortunately, there was a test mailsweeper server that we could put some of the load on. Still, it had to be done manual and took all day. The product is broken all the time, and when it works, it simply doesn’t perform. Simply put; POS.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Work all night and all day

I worked from home last night. I had to move several mailboxes to other mail stores due to space problems. The process is slow, especially for some of the mailboxes that are over one gigabyte. I think I’ve went off in my blog about e-mail storage before. Anyway, I was up until about 3:30 in the morning. Needless to say, I am working from home today instead of going into the office. Sometimes I actually think I get more done when I’m working at home. I’ve done some tickets, follow ups, mail restores, and some general system review.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Ansari X Prize

Space Ship One - N328KF - has won X Prize. The spacecraft unofficially topped out at 368,000 feet, about 69.5 miles above the Earth. The flight looked perfect, I watched the live webcast. Near the top of the first flight, the ship started rolling on its axis, kind of heart stopping. This flight was less eventful, but I still got that anxious feeling, just hoping nothing goes wrong. The ship just landed at Mojave Space Port (that sounds so cool! It kind of reminds me of Mos Eisley Space Port from Star Wars).

The X Prize was inspired by the prize offered to the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, designed to ignite an era of commercial space flight. The prize awards ten million dollars to the first person or company to fly a reusable spaceship to 62.5 miles or higher, return safely to the Earth, and repeat the flight with the same ship within two weeks. The ship has to be capable of carrying three people to space and either carries three people or a pilot and weight equivalent to three people.

Civilization III

I am now addicted to a new computer game. It isn’t a new game, it has been out since 2001. It is a game that I never really thought about buying, mainly because I was getting more into the first person shooter type games. I kept a few real time strategy games like Age of Empires around, they were fun. No other strategy game I have ever played is as good as Civilization III though.

It all started shortly after I re-built Amy’s laptop with its new hard drive. She installed the game and was playing it. I found it interesting, and suggested that we play a multiplayer game this Saturday. We ended up playing all weekend! I don’t think Amy would have played that much if it wasn’t for me, we logged about 13 hours of game play on Saturday & Sunday. Friday night’s game was lost when my computer crashed.

Why is Civilization III so cool? I like the fact that there are many aspects to the game. You have to build economies, culture, military, and many other aspects of civilization to succeed. I also like the turn based style of play. The turns allowed me to play the network game with Amy against 3 computer players and still get laundry done.

I eventually realized that Amy didn’t want to play anymore, so I started a single player game. Even in single player, it is great. I think I might buy the other expansion pack, conquests; we already have Play the World.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Presidential Debate

Like many Americans, I watched the debates last night on television. I chose to watch my local PBS station because CBS was probably running a fake copy anyway. I’m just kidding about CBS. It was pretty good, the candidates were pretty informative, and clearly had similar goals, but different ways to go about them. I was particularly about the discussions regarding North Korea, in my opinion, more dangerous than Iraq. When it comes to Iraq, Kerry made it clear that more troops would be sent if he were elected. This isn’t necessarily bad, but he indicated that Bush would do nothing more. I doubt that is the case, when military commanders have requested more troops, Bush authorized it. Kerry also mentioned the “pseudo draft”, referring to the stop loss orders. This wan an obvious attempt to scare Americans into thinking they would be drafted for Iraq. The more troops idea, would most certainly require some sort of increase in the size of the military. What was not said was how this would be achieved, I think Kerry might be thinking draft himself, but of course he can’t say that until elected. Kerry had a lot of good points that Bush couldn’t really rebut. Have I decided to vote for Kerry, no, not yet anyway. I’m not very fond of Bush, but I think he has the right idea overall. I think Kerry might get caught up in a mess of indecision, send more troops to Iraq, no wait, Afghanistan, no wait, send them to South Korea, no wait, its all wrong, bring them home. That isn’t really what I’m looking for.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Linux Hacked A Long Time Ago

Warning - Super geeky entry
I was cleaning up files in the My Documents directory on my computer and I ran across this one. A while ago I used a computer with Linux installed as a gateway for my cable modem and home network. I have a few services running on it as well, most noteably, FTP. The following text is from the log files from the time it was hacked from the outside.

[root@24-240-69-229 /root]# cat /var/log/messages.2 grep -v apmd grep -v "Oct 27" grep -v "Oct 26" grep -v "Oct 25" grep -v "Oct 24"
Oct 22 04:02:02 24-240-69-229 syslogd 1.3-3: restart.
Oct 22 04:23:26 24-240-69-229 anacron[1587]: Updated timestamp for job `cron.wee
kly' to 2000-10-22
Oct 22 15:10:36 24-240-69-229 pumpd[280]: renewed lease for interface eth0
Oct 22 22:34:37 24-240-69-229 ftpd[9595]: lost connection to [202.
Oct 22 22:34:37 24-240-69-229 ftpd[9595]: FTP session closed
Oct 22 22:34:37 24-240-69-229 inetd[568]: pid 9595: exit status 255
Oct 23 03:03:24 24-240-69-229 pumpd[280]: renewed lease for interface eth0
Oct 23 04:02:01 24-240-69-229 anacron[10526]: Updated timestamp for job `cron.da
ily' to 2000-10-23
Oct 23 15:01:11 24-240-69-229 pumpd[280]: renewed lease for interface eth0
+1¦1+¦F-Ç1+1¦Cë+A¦?-Çdk^1+1+ì^^AêF^Df¦ ^A¦'-Ç1+ì^^A¦=-Ç1+1¦ì^^HëC^B1+¦+1+ì^^H¦^L
-Ǧ+u=1+êF^Iì^^H¦=-Ǧ^N¦0¦+êF^D1+êF^Gëv^HëF^Lë=ìN^HìV^L¦^K-Ç1+1¦¦^A-ÇFÉ 0bin0s
Oct 23 22:22:39 24-240-69-229 ftpd[13092]: FTP session closed
Oct 23 18:23:54 24-240-69-229 inetd[568]: pid 13095: exit status 1
+1¦1+¦F-Ç1+1¦Cë+A¦?-Çdk^1+1+ì^^AêF^Df¦ ^A¦'-Ç1+ì^^A¦=-Ç1+1¦ì^^HëC^B1+¦+1+ì^^H¦^L
-Ǧ+u=1+êF^Iì^^H¦=-Ǧ^N¦0¦+êF^D1+êF^Gëv^HëF^Lë=ìN^HìV^L¦^K-Ç1+1¦¦^A-ÇFÉ 0bin0s
Oct 23 18:30:57 24-240-69-229 adduser[13104]: new group: name=egg, gid=502
Oct 23 18:30:57 24-240-69-229 adduser[13104]: new user: name=egg, uid=502, gid=5
02, home=/dev/eggy, shell=/bin/bash
Oct 23 18:30:58 24-240-69-229 adduser[13105]: new group: name=eggr, gid=503
Oct 23 18:30:58 24-240-69-229 adduser[13105]: new user: name=eggr, uid=0, gid=50
3, home=/dev/eggr, shell=/bin/bash
Oct 23 18:31:23 24-240-69-229 PAM_pwdb[13106]: password for (egg/502) changed by
Oct 23 18:31:36 24-240-69-229 PAM_pwdb[13107]: password for (eggr/0) changed by
Oct 23 18:34:23 24-240-69-229 PAM_pwdb[13109]: (login) session opened for user e
gg by (uid=0)
Oct 23 18:37:34 24-240-69-229 ftpd[13131]: FTP LOGIN FROM [202.9.1
61.215], egg
Oct 23 18:37:44 24-240-69-229 PAM_pwdb[13132]: (su) session opened for user eggr
by egg(uid=502)
Oct 23 18:40:36 24-240-69-229 ftpd[13151]: FTP LOGIN FROM [202.9.1
61.215], egg
Oct 23 18:40:47 24-240-69-229 ftpd[13151]: FTP session closed
Oct 23 18:43:04 24-240-69-229 PAM_pwdb[13132]: (su) session closed for user eggr
Oct 23 18:44:47 24-240-69-229 PAM_pwdb[13159]: (su) session opened for user eggr
by egg(uid=502)
Oct 23 18:47:34 24-240-69-229 PAM_pwdb[13159]: (su) session closed for user eggr
Oct 23 18:47:40 24-240-69-229 PAM_pwdb[13109]: (login) session closed for user e
Oct 23 18:47:40 24-240-69-229 inetd[568]: pid 13108: exit status 1
Oct 23 18:56:50 24-240-69-229 ftpd[13131]: User egg timed out after 900 seconds
at Mon Oct 23 18:56:50 2000
Oct 23 18:56:50 24-240-69-229 ftpd[13131]: FTP session closed
Oct 23 18:56:50 24-240-69-229 inetd[568]: pid 13131: exit status 1

[root@24-240-69-229 /root]# cat /var/log/secure.2
Oct 22 22:34:32 24-240-69-229 in.ftpd[9595]: connect from
Oct 23 18:21:04 24-240-69-229 in.ftpd[13092]: connect from
Oct 23 18:22:50 24-240-69-229 in.telnetd[13095]: connect from
Oct 23 18:28:04 24-240-69-229 in.ftpd[13097]: connect from
Oct 23 18:34:14 24-240-69-229 in.telnetd[13108]: connect from
Oct 23 18:34:23 24-240-69-229 login: LOGIN ON 0 BY egg FROM
Oct 23 18:37:28 24-240-69-229 in.ftpd[13131]: connect from
Oct 23 18:40:30 24-240-69-229 in.ftpd[13151]: connect from
Oct 24 18:32:07 24-240-69-229 in.telnetd[17534]: connect from
Oct 24 18:32:09 24-240-69-229 in.ftpd[17536]: connect from
Oct 27 17:29:40 24-240-69-229 in.telnetd[30209]: connect from

[root@24-240-69-229 /root]# cat /var/log/xferlog.2
Mon Oct 23 18:41:39 2000 7 16634 /dev/eggy/wipe b _ i r egg ftp 0
* c

[root@24-240-69-229 /root]# cat /dev/eggy/.bash_history
su eggr
ls -l
df -h
su eggr

[root@24-240-69-229 /root]# cat /dev/eggr/.bash_history
pico /etc/ftpaccess
emacs /etc/ftpaccess
emacs /etc/ftpaccess
kill -9 13145
kill -9 13146
chmod 775 wipe
./wipe u egg
./wipe eggr
./wipe u eggr
./wipe w egg
./wipe w eggr
./wipe l egg
./wipe l eggr

Basically, they exploited the FTP server with a buffer overflow. Created a root account called eggr, logged in, checked to see how much disk space there was, and then tried to wipe the log files, and log out. Obviously, the wipe didn’t work.
A .txt version of the log text

There is nobody to blame her but myself. The exploit was known, I just didn't have the latest patch installed on my Linux system. People bash Microsoft all the time, but Linux isn't so much more secure if left unpatched. Both Windows & Unix/Linux systems are fairly secure when they are fully patched, when the admins get lazy, the security problems start.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Space Ship One

Regular guys have made it to space with no government help. Well, maybe they aren’t regular guys like me, but hey, close. I watched the whole thing happen on a live webcast today at work. It was pretty intense. A lot of waiting at first, then, the ship was released from its jet carrier; the rocket engine fired, and up it went. That is where it got a little scary, it started spinning, it looked really out of control. The pilot cut the engine 11 seconds early due to the spin. The ship topped out at 358,000, or about 67 miles, and returned to Earth as planned. Space technically begins at 62.5 miles. This is actually the second trip to space for Space Ship One. The first was a few months ago, just a test flight. This flight was an attempt at the X Prize, a 10 million dollar prize for the first non-government funded space flight of three people performed twice within a 14 day period in a reusable spacecraft. I’m a geek I guess, but this stuff is just really cool!

Maryland Bear Hunt

About an hour west of my location in Maryland they are planning a bear hunt. The environmental groups are going all crazy because the state is allowing up to 30 bears to be killed. I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Within the last year or so there have been several news stories about people coming across bears in neighborhoods. I doubt hunting 30 bears is going to make that big of a difference either way.

What would be cool is if you had to hunt the bear with a hand weapon like a knife or club. Now that would be an interesting hunt.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

One Million Dollars and a Gmail Account

Amy’s life insurance policy came in today, I wasn’t sure how much I could get, I basically told my advisor, as much as we can get for fifty dollars per month. She got an excellent health rating, preferred select, allowing us to get a lot for the money.

Life insurance is pretty complicated, while a million dollars sounds like a lot of money, it really isn’t. While some of the money would go to pay off debts and get the kids off to college, the rest is meant to be an income generator through investments. So, even the full million would only produce about $37,000 per year in income. We calculated that day care alone would run me over $3,000 a month if something were to happen to Amy once we had all five kids. Our financial guy actually recommended about 1.5 million, that is when I told him to get me as much as we could get for under $50 per month.

I am now cool in geek circles, or, at least I would have been six months ago. I have a Gmail account. I had three invitations in my inbox that expired, I finally went to set one up and I couldn’t, so my sister sent me another. Since I’m not really going to use that account and I don’t care how much spam it gets, the address is:

Exchange Server Failed

I was working on Amy’s computer and I decided to check my work e-mail over web access and saw an error message from the snap manager backup process on our Louisville mail server. I checked it out and it looks like the server lost network connectivity and lost connections to the NetApp over SAN, all at about the same time. That caused the e-mail databases to dismount, and nobody in that site had access to e-mail. By the time I logged in, the network and storage were once again available and I was able to mount the databases with no problem. Not sure what happened there, I’m sure there will be some questions to answer on Monday.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Great Frederick Fair

We took Alex to the fair tonight. He seemed to have fun. We rode 4 rides, Amy and I alternated riding rides with Alex. He is still a bit young to ride even the small kiddie rides by himself. He saw the ponies, but by that time I only had four dollars in my wallet and the pony rides were $5. After rides, we spent my four bucks on a funnel cake for Alex and me. The only problem was that Alex wouldn’t eat it, we solved that problem by getting up and walking around. I guess he didn’t want to sit down where we were to eat his funnel cake.

Alex on the Carrousel

Alex & Amy leaving the last ride of the night

Scooters for all old people

I just read an article on CNN that kind of bothered me. The subject of the article was about a town overrun with old people on scooters, but what bothered me was how these scooters are being obtained. Most of the scooters are subsidized by Medicare. These things are not cheap, at $5,000 or more, these things cost as much as a used car. Medicare payments for the devices rose from $22.3 million in 1995 to $666.5 million in 2003. Over 600 million dollars spent by our government? While that is pocket change when compared to the Iraq war, it is still a lot of cash. No wonder social security is in trouble and Medicare needs reformed. If you ask me, the scooter industry has some friends in Washington.

Before I get flamed, I am not saying that nobody needs these scooters, there are some who have genuine disabilities that would require such a device, but the rules should be tight, and the federal government should not be paying $5000 for these things. It is also partially a problem with the companies selling these scooters; they advertise them as “little or no cost to you”. These companies do the leg work to get the Medicare approvals, making it easier for them to systematically manipulate the Medicare system and get their $5000 per scooter.

Frederick County Fair

I hope Alex is good today; I want to take him to the Frederick County Fair for some rides and tasty fair food. He is getting old enough to start really enjoying these things. I’ve never been to the Frederick Fair, but it already looks better than the Anne Arundle County Fair that I went to a few years back. I hope there will be some Animals there during the week that Alex can see. There are a few rides that he might be able to ride by himself. We will have to see, he might not want to. Now that I think about it, I wonder if I should wait until Saturday when Alex and Andrew can go together. I don’t know, I kind of got my mind set on doing it with just Alex. I took Andrew to a couple of carnivals, but the lines really get to him. I think he enjoyed the Ferris wheel though. Who knows, maybe we will go during the week and on Saturday.

Star Wars Trilogy

My copy of the Star Wars Trilogy on DVD shipped today, I pre-ordered it back in April. As luck would have it, I had it shipped to my mom’s house. It should be there sometime this week so, I guess I’ll be stopping by. I can’t wait to sit down with Alex and watch these movies. He is a little younger than I was when I first saw the original, but I’m sure he will enjoy the space ships and light sabers just as much.

Monday, September 20, 2004

City of Baltimore Without Power

It wasn’t the whole City of Baltimore, but the downtown area where a lot of the government offices are located, including city hall. I used to work in the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology and know some of the IT setup down there. One of the two main server rooms has no generator or UPS, so, I’m sure it went dark real quick. A lot of critical infrastructure was in that building, including the mail gateway and the main mail server. I heard they had geo-clustering in place so the mail server could survive this kind of outage (the 2nd server is in the building with the generator) but that it wasn’t working properly. Not a surprise, after evaluating the geo-cluster product, we decided that it would probably cause more problems than it solved. The crazy part is that I specifically recall meetings about power planning for the building without the generator, those included installing a generator and or installing a large UPS unit. That was over two years ago. I guess it didn’t happen.

What’s neat is that I am in the process of designing a highly redundant Exchange environment where I work now. Not that we don’t have generators, but in the event of a disaster that would render one of our two primary datacenters inoperable, we will be able to restore services and data within four hours. It is all about what level of service your business is willing to pay for. I’m thinking that the IT guys down at the City of Baltimore were counting on luck more than they were courting on solid design. I doubt that “all day” is an acceptable downtime window. Typically, it isn’t the IT worker’s bad design, it is a general lack of understanding of the technology and its limitations by the management there. I found myself thinking “if only they would listen”. I’m sure the IT team there is thinking the same thing. There are probably a few “I told you so’s” too.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Amy Drives

Amy got her learners permit today, it isn’t the first learners permit she’s had, but we are hoping it is her last. We ware planning to help Robin and Kris move to Delaware today but they were leaving too early for us to get through the MVA and help them move. So, we are going to pick up Aaron from my mom’s house tomorrow morning and take him to Dover.

Amy drove to Wal-Mart today where we picked up some scrub brushes, note paper, & a photo album. We also dropped off her mom’s negatives of our wedding to be developed. She drove back to Wal-Mart to pick up the pictures a little later.

Adelphia’s cable internet service has been down since Friday night, what a pain. I’m on call this weekend for work, and had to call a co-worker to help fix an issue with mailsweeper, the mail gateway we use at my company. So, while the internet was down, I played some single player video games, and Amy started reading Dr. Phil’s book Family First.

Time for bed, we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

On call & Stuff

The way they do on call where I work is new to me. Basically, the on call person is assigned all of the trouble tickets 24 hours a day. It makes for a very busy week at the office. It is kind of tiring, especially after working a 74 hour week last week.

My sister is a home owner. She called me today after the settlement The house is in Dover DE, where Kris is stationed with the air force. I don’t like the fact that she is moving to Delaware, it is kind of far away. I moved to Frederick (from Glen Burnie), and that is far enough.

Amy and I watched Survivor tonight. Of all the so called reality shows, it is still the best. I don’t like the term reality show; I would call it a long running game show or something to that effect.

My uncle Bill must be studying his computer stuff. He’s been sending me multiple choice questions, for example:

You plan to implement Hardware RAID 5. You want to be able to have drives replaced while the array is still functioning. Which of the following features should you go for?
A) hot swap
B) disk cache
C) secure lock
D) server rack

Easy for me, so I reply with not only an answer, but why that answer is right and why the others are wrong. I remember those days; I didn’t have much help, just a home PC, some books, and the early internet.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Regular Reader

Most of the regular visitors to my blog are people I know. My previous entry was commented on by a regular reader that I don’t know. While that person and I don’t see eye to eye on the subject, it is nice to know that I have a reader.

On the subject of the motorcycle accident on Sunday, I am not trying to offend anyone, but I do have a particular view. I also have a view on some of the replies to the now deleted Frederick News Post online forum. Those who are attacking the character of the person involved, the “he deserved to die”, and the “I’m glad he’s dead” posts are not my view. While everyone can agree that some very poor decisions were made that took this young man’s life and posed a danger to others were poor ones, saying that he deserved to die for it is a bit harsh. It is easy to call someone an idiot when they do something that is obviously stupid, I would be careful not to take it too far. That is why I prefer “he got what he asked for” and “he did a pretty stupid thing”. I’m certainly not glad the guy is dead, but I’m not all that shook up about it. That is not to say that his family and friends should not be though.

I got another comment that pointed out a good thing about the video, I agree that it was almost certainly erased to protect those who made it from arrest and prosecution. I would like to see some kind of consequences for the others involved, that is of course, if a law was broken. I’m not sure if it was or not, but there probably should be a law against filming stunts on public roads.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Motorcycle Accident in Frederick on US340

I’ve been following the news of a recent motorcycle accident that occurred on a highway here in Frederick County on Sunday. Oddly enough, most of the information I learned was from the forum on the Frederick News Post website.

Here is the most credible eyewitness account (spelling mistakes and all):

Eyewitness account. Due to the fatality of the accident this is what allegedly happened as we saw it yesterday.

This was an extreme example of foolishness witnessed by children. My youngest loves motorcyles and always points them out anywhere he sees them

We were traveling west in the right lane on 340 at approx 60-65mph. Approx 1.5 miles before Mt Zion road we were passed on the left by a Mitsubishi SUV. Literally dangling out of the front passenger window was a white male with half his body, one leg and arm outside the window (straddling it). The SUV was probably going at a speed of 70-75 mph. He held a video camera in his free hand (not a camcorder sized one but a larger one with a big lens.)

As we looked back to see what was going on we saw two motorcyles coming up from behind. The SUV sped up and the two motorcycles passed us (first a black one and then a whiteish with a colored stripe one). As they passed by us we noticed the drivers were NAKED from the waist down. As they continued ahead they moved into the right lane in front of us, for about the next mile or so both motorcyclists were popping wheelies and trying to half stand on their seats (my kids were commenting at how gross it was since they had no pants on). During this whole time the Camera Guy was hanging out the window filming the whole thing.

This erratic behavior by the camera vehicle and the motorcyclists caused other drivers to have to brake and slow down as they changed lanes when they needed a better shot. There was another sedan with about 2-3 passsengers in it that must have been a part of the group because they passed on the right shoulder to catch up to the mototcyclists.

Shortly after I explained to my kids how dangerous their behaviour was, the black motorcyclist popped a wheelie and lost control of the bike, we could see the flatbed tow truck up ahead approx a half mile past Mt Zion road on the right shoulder. At that moment it was surreal, his bike was shaking back and forth looking like it was about to go down and then in an instant he slammed directly into the back of the tow truck in which pieces of the bike were strewn everywhere. He had to have been killed instantly . His bike went under the truck by the back left tire and his limp naked body lay there motionless. I was surprised that he didn't get decapitated.

Meanwhile, the other cyclist with no pants pulled over in front of the tow truck. The SUV went up ahead and turned around in the emergency turnaround and then came and parked in the grassy median near the accident scene. Two white females and two white males exited the SUV. One of the males walked over said a few words and gave the other motorcyclist his pants, the two girls were visibly shaken and upset. The other male had the Camera and began filming the guy laying on the ground apparently dead ( I guess he thought the guy was going to survive). It should have seemed obvious though by speed he was traveling and the force of impact and the unnatural body position that it wouldn't be the case. They all then got back in the Mitsubishi and fled the scene and exited on Mt Zion road.

When paramedics showed up, they checked for vital signs and covered the body with a white sheet. The sheriffs department arrived next followed by the state police who obtained witness statements. Traffic was blocked in both directions for a long time as they waited for the investigators to arrive.

Ok, not if you ask me, the guy got what he was asking for. The main thread in the FNP forum turned pretty ugly. There were those who thought the guy was an idiot and deserved to die, those who were really pissed that he would put others at risk with his stunts, and those that knew the guy and thought that others shouldn’t have an opinion on the matter. And then there was me, I’m kind of in the middle. While I don’t think the guy deserved to die, I do believe he got what he was asking for. The flaming started, and eventually the thread was deleted. At the time, I thought the good description of the eyewitness account was gone for good, but someone thought to save it somehow and reposted it. There was some discussion of the video tape that was destroyed and it was a bit of an argument. I believe that the tape is evidence, and that the people who destroyed it should be charged with obstruction of justice, as they were. Others were saying, hey the tape served no purpose whatsoever. The police investigate all fatal accidents, even if its obvious. As good as the eyewitness account was, the video is obviously a better tool for an investigation. There was a lot of discussion on why the thread was deleted by the moderator, they don’t cite a reason, it is just gone. I started another thread on penalties for motorcycle stunts, since these kids and young men think they aren’t going to die, death isn’t a very good deterrent. I made some suggestions and got some great responses.