Switching to WordPress

Hey Blog.

I don't know if there's anyone still reading the blog at this address, but if there is, the new address for my blog is http://www.ueberlandowiki.net/wordpress/ I have an RSS feed, which is epic. Unfortunately, I have not decided whether or not I will continue porting my blog posts to Facebook.

So, go to my new blog at http://www.ueberlandowiki.net/wordpress/



Back in Flag!

Well, I'm back in Flagstaff, and am totally happy to be here. I'm not working tonight, but because I'm crazy, I'm here at the office, taking advantage of their newer/faster iMac here, and meeting my coworker Molly, who is also a Mac user. Yes! The Mac Collective at the helpdesk has grown, and I'm sure will continue to do so.

Earlier today, I saw Wall•E with Dad and Brenda, and then we had Red Lobster before they dropped me off at Gabaldon and drove off into the gentle rain, on their way back to Kingman.

In two weeks, I'll be going back to Kingman, but it'll be nice to be here for awhile.

For the next two weeks, I'll probably just hang out, and work a lot of hours at the helpdesk. The phones are covered pretty well, but I've got a few side-projects I want to pursue. More on that later.


Epic Storm

After today's big day at the old property, I was afforded a nice opportunity to take a good nap.

I woke up at the end of the nap to a pretty epic storm. The rain was coming down harder than I'd seen it in the past few years, which was pretty hard. There were little torrential streams of water running around, and most of the backyard here was full of water.

The epic part of the storm lasted about an hour, and now it's just a light sprinkle, and the sky remains gray in all directions. Luckily, the landscaping here is functional as well as beautiful, and none of it has washed away.

A bit later on, Dad and I went out driving to see one of the washes near here. I got some interesting pictures, so one of those is probably what I'll use for today's Photo365, whenever I catch up (three weeks or more, ouch!) on that processing. On the topic of photography, I just have to say that I really love the color of the sky and the color of everything in the really soft light that happens after a good storm with rain.


ActiveDirectory: Ridiculously Easy

I'm just here to express my disappointment in Apple. I went ahead and installed VMWare on my laptop today, and set up a new Server2003 machine, and an XP Pro machine.

Once Server2003 was installed, it took me all of ten minutes to set up the fileserver, and use Microsoft's clever "first server" configuration implement to create a fully functioning network controller, including DNS and ActiveDirectory.

Three minutes later, I had the XP Pro box joined to my AD domain, and I was logging in as a domain user. That's really easy! If we were doing this setup for the KHS Photo network, all I would have had to do is help Kate learn how to use Windows' user manager, and then get printing running, which I expect is also really easy.

Right now, I'm installing and setting up the second XP machine, and afterward, I need to install SQL2005, SharePoint Services 3.0, and Exchange 2007. And I'm sure there are a few other things.

It's very disappointing that Microsoft software costs so much, but I'm beginning to suspect there's a reason. This stuff is really easy, and there's a very high level of fit and finish on their server products, at least in this respect.

I'm going to admit that I'm a little disappointed in Apple. If anyone has a server product that's this easy to set up... it should be Apple.


Return Trip

My brother and I are safely back at home now, and today I'm just relaxing at home. I didn't go online very much for this particular train trip, so I've had a bit of time to gather some more thoughts about train trips. But first, the overview!

Bright and early on the morning of the 5th, my brother and I showered and were taken to the Lapeer Amtrak station by our grandmother. We hugged our goodbyes and #365 The Blue Water whisked us away to Chicago. That train is cool because it's just so different than what we've typically got out here in the west. It was three Horizon Fleet coaches, and an AmFleet I cafe/lounge, with a very small "Business Class" section. Each seat has 120v power available, which is a nice consideration for a regional style train, and it helps make up for the fact that the seats don't have much legroom. I used that part of the trip mainly for listening to the Retro Mac Cast.

After that, my brother and I wandered around Chicago Union Station for a bit, although the mood was dampened when I let him know that I really didn't want him wandering around without me. We found our gate and sat around. Luck would have it that I was able to find an open wifi signal, strong enough to connect to the NAU VPN and check my e-mail in less than ten minutes.

Right on time, we boarded #3 The Southwest Chief. There were a lot of people aboard, which is nice to see. Because I'd run my battery nearly dry at the station, I decided it might be a good idea just to leave the laptop alone, so I allowed myself just to sit there and look out the window, and listen to Retro Mac Cast on my iPod.

What I discovered is pretty amazing. Train trips are completely epic when you just sit around and watch the country pass before your eyes. We saw other trains, we saw houses of all types, and in general, we saw a really good amount of the country. On The Southwest Chief, we passed through Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and we'll be ending out back home in Arizona. (Although this train continues to Las Angeles, CA.)

It's really interesting sitting there with the volume on the iPod turned most of the way down, listening to other people's conversation as the country slips away. I'll admit I even slept better this time, although not as well as I would have liked to.


Awkward Moments on the train

My least favorite thing is being around when somebody has to discipline their child. To me, it's bad parenting to have raised your children in such a way that they would act out so much, and need to be disciplined physically in a public place.

Right now, there's a mother and her child who have made their way to the bottom level of the coach, him bawling all the way there, and her pushing and pulling him in order to take him away from general view. I can still hear them, and she is spanking him, and he has not stopped screaming and bawling. I have heard "I don't" or "I want to" but I'm still not certain what's happening.

I think it may be that he doesn't want to be on the train, but I'm not sure. My brother has informed me that it may be because he needs to use the restroom, and the mother is telling him to stop being mean. I'm not sure if that's what it is, but I am continuing to acknowledge that it's a very awkward situation.

If-slash-when I ever have children, I'm going to try to raise them in such a way that this doesn't happen. It's obviously not too hard, because dozens of other families I've observed this trip have not had any such problems. Their children were normal children of course, but they have all been mindful of the fact that the train, while bigger than a bus, is a small place, so small indoor voices should be used. (Also: there were generally no tantrums.)

Cleanup of tags and categories.

One of the things I need to do soon (and after that, on a regular basis) is to make sure all of the articles on the U60 blog have good tags and categories.

This is here mainly as a reminder to myself, but I'm going to start separating the categories, especially since about 90% of the articles on this site are in both the "Life" and "Technology" categories -- I'm going to work on separating those a bit better.

I may also replace or rename the Observations category.

So far, I've been doing a good job with the tags on this blog I think, so I need to go back and give tags to some of the posts that don't have them, and I need to continue the decent job I've been doing with the tags.

So yeah, just some thoughts about the blog.


Visiting Family

I have been putting off writing this post for quite awhile, ever since we arrived in Michigan. At first I was pretty well dissatisfied with most of them, I probably would've written something about how I would probably rather be anywhere else.

Although after having thought about it a bit more, and considered the circumstances, such as how often we used to visit family out in Oregon and Washington, and how rarely my brother and I go to Michigan, I realize that not only is it really not so bad, but I'm glad that we've done this.

For the most part, my brother and I both retained our typical routine from Arizona: sleep in, hang out, visit the same people every day, and in general be absorbed in whatever activity we've brought with us -- but we're doing it with our family from Michigan.

Really though, I have appreciated visiting all of the family here, Aunt Darla and her kids, my cousins. Along with Aunt Angi and our cousin Seth, and Aunt Leisa and one of just one or two cousins who is older than I am, Chelsey

I think one of the things I noticed, and that disappointed me, was the tendency of certain people to... clash. Despite the fact that they're family, I just notice that some people tend to want to go head to head over just about anything. I think the important thing for me to do about that is just accept that it's there, and resolve to try to be less like that on my own.


Ten Months

Well, today is the third of the month! Megan and I have managed to not destroy each other (or feed each other poisoned lightbulbs!) for ten whole months. So it's two more months and we'll have been going out for a whole year. Which is kind of crazy to think about.

So yeah... ten months.



One of the things I always purport to strive for in this blog is posting things in a timely manner. What this usually means is writing something pretty angry one day, but realizing that somehow, I've got posts already scheduled out to like, next Tuesday, so I just post it then.

The problem with that is that when the post finally comes out, if I even let it live long enough to be released, it's no longer relevant because I don't usually stay angry that long. Plus, I suppose that it's in somewhat bad taste to post something angry about someone else.

I suppose it's a bit of a control issue for me, because I would love to have each of my blog entries appear at approximately the same time each day. The problem with that is that it encourages me to start pre-writing posts, or doing posts that aren't up to my standards as quality goes. But for whatever reason, I think that posting in this crazy way will make people like my blog, because I post on such a regular basis.

A much more sincere way to post would be to pick one topic for any given day, and actually spend an amount of time during that one day to write the post, and have it up on that day. Even if it means that people won't read it until the next day, it's still better than doing poorly written posts a few days in advance.

I suppose it's just one of the many things I need to continue considering, about the blog. I definitely want to make my content more timely, so I am probably going to preserve massive pre-writing and scheduling for "away from the computer" days, and giant project posts. Other things in my list entitled "things to think about for the Blog" include whether or not I want to continue posting the same content to two different blogs, and whether or not I ever want to switch my WordPress blog to a better theme.

So much to ponder, so little time.


Nikon D700

Just a note to let everyone everywhere know that today, Nikon has introduced the D700, which is it's "midrange, semi-pro full-frame dSLR." To my eyes, that means "expensive, full-frame D300."

Naturally, having bought my D300 less than a year ago, I am very slightly miffed. But the reality of things is that I probably would've spent all that money somehow anyway (surplus automobile?) and that I really do like the D300, even though all my friends who have Canon 5Ds are rockin' the full-frame sensors.

Of course, the rumors say that there's a Sony Alpha 900 in the works, which is purportedly a 24 megapixel camera with a full-frame, working at a fairly respectable six frames per second, which would probably make it the fastest camera of it's kind. The killer part of the  Alpha 900 rumor is that the whole thing is supposed to cost less than $2000. I think some numbers have been tossed around at about the same cost as the D300.

Ouch, Sony. Ouch.

Young Linux "Geek"

A large amount of this vacation, Patrick and I have been going to our Aunt Darla's house. Darla is my dad's youngest sister, and she has four children. She home-schools them, and for whatever reason, they are all very, very smart.

Darla's oldest son, Wade, is just about a year or two younger than Patrick I think, and since my last visit, he's become a pretty hilarious Linux programmer. He's pretty good at it I presume, he's definitely very quick at getting little file processing and browsing tasks done.

One of the comments he made was that he was a bit surprised that I wasn't able to do programming, as a result of the fact that I seemed like "such a massive computer geek" on my previous visit. Hilariously enough, my previous visit involved me re-combining little videos from my digital camera in Final Cut Pro, and a few other things in Illustrator and Photoshop, on the old PowerBook G4. I was definitely more of a creative arts geek at the time, than a programming geek, or a networking geek like I am now.

Of course, I don't feel too terribly bad about not being able to program, I've got a pretty good understanding of most networking concepts, and I've done pretty well in my studies of directory systems like OpenDirectory and ActiveDirectory. All I've got to do now is implement a few legacy directory systems like NIS or YP on A/UX, and then learn straight-up LDAP on systems like Solaris or IRIX, or even Linux, since those are easier to come by. There's also NetInfo, but I don't have enough (any) OPENSTEP systems running around to be able to do that. Like I said, networking geek.

Hilariously enough, Wade knows almost nothing about networking. He knows what packets are, probably in more detail than I'll ever need or care to have, but he doesn't understand the actual application of it, like how to plug some systems into a Linksys router in order to create a small network. I really wish my virtual machines were working, so I could show him some of the cool things a system like ActiveDirectory can do.

Another benefit of networking my computer to his is that it won't bug him so much when any of my online friends pop up with what he refers to "just punctuation!" There's a whole dialogue that some of my friends online and I have got going that sometimes doesn't use full sentences with proper structure and correctly spelled words. Ah well, I suppose it would be too difficult to explain communication theory and "Grammars" to a 14 year old. More importantly, I don't know if I want to bother.

Hilarity and youngness aside, it looks like Wade has a pretty good future ahead of him in the realm of open source programming. I wouldn't be surprised at all if after a bit of a formal education in computer science and maybe some volunteer work doing something like a Google Summer of Code, he would be able to get hired on at any of the big developers, like Novell, Oracle, or Sun. He could probably get hired at Microsoft too, were he willing to learn the Visual Studio development environment on Windows.

On the topic of the Internet, it's very interesting to see how someone who has access to it so rarely does when they get access to it. At first, Wade was unwilling to accept the idea that the Internet in and of itself was a form of entertainment, which is sort of an inevitability, at least for me. Then he wanted to use it to gain access to games, the one he tried was BZFlag, and that was "interesting" I suppose. If I could successfully get a Linux VM going, or if my Windows VMs were willing to work properly, there's a lot more we could do with even our small network.

Ahwell, one day he'll have more networking experience, I'm sure. I think he's still just amazed at the idea that we were able to connect our two laptops together with Ethernet, and share my silly EDGE connection to the Internet.



One of the disadvantages of being as massive a nerd as I am, is that scheduling becomes very difficult when I bring all of my gadgets along.

For example, I am now officially unable to count the number of times where I have been somewhere, and my grandmother decided that it was time to leave, without giving me any advance notice at all. So everyone will be sitting in the car while I have to put my computer to sleep mode, disconnect the hdd, switch my SIM chip back into the iPhone, put everything in the backpack, zip the backpack up, and make sure I didn't leave anything behind.

This is because except for the flash unit, I'm making about 100% utilization of the things in my backpack, so when I'm visiting someone, just about everything has been taken out of my backpack.

The frustrating thing about this is that the comment "do you want to walk home?" has been tossed around a lot. It's being tossed around rather lazily, I think -- If you can't wait five minutes for me to pack up, then maybe you should've told me we were going to be leaving five minutes sooner.

In the west, when we're going somewhere or planning something, someone takes the effort, and five seconds, to pop their head into whatever room I'm in and let me know when we're leaving. Typically, even if it's several hours in the future, I make a note of it, and I am ready to go fifteen minutes before our departure time, just in case.


Now Sort-of Available: Accounts on the U60!

Well, I finally went ahead and started trying to fix a bunch of the things on the U60. Unfortunately, I'm not that great at making sure everything works, although my friend Lando, who is an UNIX hero, was able to make sure everything was working just fine.

In all, we got some paths fixed from when I first installed the Blastwave package manager, we got Apache2's userdir settings working, and I'm sure there's something else that I've now forgotten. So, a big shout out to Lando, an UNIX hero.

Also, I've gotten a hang of setting up new software on the U60 with Blastwave, so I was able to set up and use GNU screen, IRSSI, and links. All interesting pieces of software. Gnu screen is really cool, and with that and irssi, I'm now able to log the IRC channels without having any other machines turned on. I think it's time I started using the U60 for more things, because I'm starting to get used to it a bit.

Anyway, all of this leads up to the U60 becoming a very usable system, and, y'know, if anyone wants an account on it, feel free to ask.


A Day at the Beach

Yesterday, we went to the "beach." I quote the word beach, because we weren't at an ocean, nor am I even 100% sure of the name of the place where we were, just that there was in fact, sand, with people, at the edge of some body of water, that was set up in such a way that it was available to the general public. Therefore, we were at a beach.

In order to understand my misery, I should help you to know that in Arizona, the humidity typically sits around "zero" and "zero." We have no such thing as a "heat index," and whenever you perspire, it evaporates off of your body, and you actually feel cooled by it. In Michigan, even though the temperatures aren't insane, or even crazy yet, there's this massive amount of moisture in the air, which causes normal people like me to perspire, which causes people who are too modest to remove their shirt to get into a very "sticky" situation.

With my clothes sticking to my body, and a small headache forming, we decided we needed to rent a boat and venture out onto the water. So we walked the quarter-mile to the rental shack, even though the boats were just 20 feet away from us, to find out prices. Then we needed to go back to get money, then we needed to go back to the rental shack to actual get the rentals, then back to the boats, then after an hour of fun on the lake, we needed to go back to the rental shack and back to the car again.

Speaking of our hour of fun on the lake... we made the plunge to get two boats. Wade insisted that at least one of them be a rowboat, so we got one paddleboat, which Seth and Patrick wanted, and I took a rowboat, along with Wade and Kyle.

Unfortunately, the rowboat was a disaster. Part of the mount for one of the oars was broken, so the whole thing didn't work properly, and made a terrible and loud noise. We managed to get Pat and Seth to trade us, although they didn't seem to appreciate it too much, I think I made up for it later on by allowing them to use my computer to check myspace.

So yeah, that was my disjointed description of a day that I'm sure was actually better than I make it sound like.


Living on (the) EDGE

In the past few days, I've learned a lot about living with a slower Internet connection. Although it's not just that I've got a slower connection. The biggest problem with EDGE is the latency, and the fact that it seems to be ridiculously difficult to maintain a connection long enough to make sure a blog post is scheduled for the right time.

With luck, these issues will clear up in the next few days, or hours -- but if that doesn't work, I may just have to post all of the  blog entries from my trip retroactively, when I get back to Arizona.

Another possibility I've considered is that I'm not sitting in the right place, but that makes very little sense because on the first night, I was able to get a decent connection with two/three bars while I was laying down in the sun room, but the next two days the connection there got progressively worse.

Right now, it seems like the only place inside Grandma's house to get any connection at all is right next to the window where she keeps the radio she listens to. Right here, I've managed to get one bar with the green EDGE flag, and actually have some web pages load. I can sign into AIM, but I don't think I'll be able to get onto Google talk until I get home to Arizona. I thought I might be able to even upload a picture or two, but I don't think that'll happen.

My grandmother keeps talking about Arizona as though it's on the edge of civilization, and that nothing good could ever possibly happen there -- but I've got to admit, everyone I know in Arizona has DSL, even my mom in two of the places we lived in Golden Valley, and my dad all the way out in Valle Vista.

EDGE seems to work well enough at Aunt Darla's house, so I may just need to use it there rather than here. Of course, another weirdness is that the iPhone seems to be able to get 3 bars + EDGE wherever I am, but when I switch to the PCMCIA card in the laptop, I get no signal, am told that there's no service, and experience massive lag.


Adobe Buzzword

This is a test of Adobe's BUZZWORD on-line word processing application. The idea is pretty simple, and I'd wager to say that it even works fairly well. The whole thing is pretty nice, the formatting works pretty well, and unlike Google Docs at its launch, the display is really nice. I would probably be comfortable using this to prepare a document for handing in to an instructor at the university. I would probably also be comfortable using this environment for a bigger project like NaNoWriMo, although I'm really not sure how well it scales up to larger documents, which is something AppleWorks 5 did decently, and something that really let Word 2007 prove itself to me.

The biggest thing I use word processors for is collecting, creating, organizing and presenting documents. What I've found in the past is that different word processors are good at different things. Adobe's Buzzword, so far, is great at creation of documents, and designing beautiful, presentable documents. Part of Adobe's goal with Buzzword, and other parts of the new Acrobat.com suite, is to "to change the way the world works together on documents, for the better."

Initially my biggest concern about Adobe's Buzzword is what seems like a lack of styles. I don't mind too terribly much because Buzzword purports to be "the first real web-based word processor," so I'm giving it some slack. However, these days styles really do seem to be a very basic and rudimentary thing, on which a lot of formatting and document control implements are really nice. However, styles would make long-form documents such as the NaNoWriMo novel much easier to manage. Buzzword does allow endnotes but it doesn't have any implement for footnotes, page breaks, section breaks, or a Table of Contents.

The major success of Adobe's Buzzword is it's power in the department of text formatting. For shorter documents where you don't need to do very much in the way of organizing. More importantly, it would be really nice if you need to create graphics-heavy documents. Commenting and change tracking are great, although I haven't yet seen actual collaborative editing at work in Buzzword.

Adobe Buzzword is a capable word processor, but like Pages from Apple and Google Docs have done, this app needs a lot of growing in a few major areas. Whether or not it'll actually grow in the way I personally need is yet to be seen, but I'm going to be keeping track of it. It's a great writing tool. It's not so great at organization, which is what I tend to look for in a word processor, and it's a great presentation tool.


Interpretations of: "Our Own Car"

One of the things I've noticed while here in Michigan is that sometimes, people hear you incorrectly, in the interest of creating a story for themselves that they think is believable, and that they want to tell to others.

For example, upon our arrival in the Lapeer train station, my brother and I told our grandmother and our aunt Lisa about how we had our own train car for a portion of the journey. It went like this: "Yeah, we had our own train car from Durand to Lapeer." Our aunt heard it this way: "We had our own car for the whole second leg of our trip, from Chicago to Lapeer." Our grandmother heard it this way: "We had our own car for the whole trip."

That has caused a few misconceptions. Our grandmother is now absolutely convinced that Amtrak is doomed to death, as a result of their "very low" ridership. Lisa is now pretty sure that Amtrak has been run at a loss for one or two years before, and somehow the same thing is happening again.

The complete and total inaccuracy of this amuses me to no end. To start, Amtrak has never turned a profit since its operation started in the 1970s. In addition, ridership is up a record amount this year, it's been a bigger increase in ridership than Amtrak has ever seen before.

While this misunderstanding has caused much hilarity to ensue, it's frustrating because I don't think this is the only misunderstanding of the trip. Others, such as my misunderstanding of the term "vacation" have caused me to wrongfully believe that I wouldn't be asked to help anyone with their home improvement projects. More on that later, I'm sure.


Some more features of Google Documents

In the wake of my recent, seemingly much more epic article about Google Documents, I've got a bit of an overview of a few other cool things I've seen in Docs recently.

One of the things that stood out most to me when I logged in to look at one of my Gotschland documents a few days ago was the new "Fixed width page view." It doesn't really change the workflow of Google Documents at all, but it does take Docs that much closer to being a very worthwhile word processor. Formerly I'd thought Docs to be a great tool for writing and having data available online, or for backup, but I hadn't thought of it as being a tool for preparing a document for printed output. With page view, Docs comes that much closer to being a word processor that's capable of replacing traditional desktop software for everything.

Another really cool thing I have noticed is that it's got a word-count mechanism. It doesn't update automatically like the wordcount on the status bar of Word 2007, but it does exist, making it helpful for NaNoWriMo. Another cool thing about Google Docs as a word processor for something like NaNoWriMo is that it exists everywhere, but we already knew that.

I've also recently discovered the new Find & Replace feature, which for the time being is really just a "replace all" feature. It's still quite handy. For example, I had an old document I'd pasted in from AppleWorks 5 on my old Windows XP machine. In this document, I used a lot of quote marks and apostrophes, and somehow they all transferred over as "Ò" and other similar characters. Luckily, I was able to use the replace all feature to put the proper characters in. It's just unfortunate that I didn't win NaNoWriMo 2006.

So, that was just a few more little things about Google Docs. It's got growing to do yet, hopefully it'll continue improving in the next year or so.


Batch Processing

One of the things I'm going to be trying in the next few days is batch processing huge numbers of my raw NEF and DNG files into web-sized JPEGs. Then I'm probably just going to upload pretty big numbers of them to Flickr, or I may try Microsoft's Windows Live Gallery service.

I don't know how fast the EDGE data connection will be at my grandmother's house, but if it's decent enough (i.e. existant at all) I'll probably go ahead and upload a lot of my favorite pictures to the web. If it's fast enough, I may go ahead and upload all of them for each day, and invite people to view them, or recommend ones for further processing and work.

I may purchase myself a pro Flickr account so I can have more than 200 photos up at once -- already there's more than 300 pictures, just up to Chicago. Either way, look for a lot of Albuquerque and Lamy, NM; along with plenty of Chicago, and a few of the other places we've been.

In other news, we've landed at Grandmother's house. The train ride from Chicago to Lapeer was pretty awesome. The Horizon Fleet coaches don't have as much leg-room as the SuperLiners do, but it's a comfortable ride nonetheless, and because they're lower to the ground, you don't feel the sway of the train as heavily as you do with the SuperLiners.

I'm looking forward to being able to take platform pictures of the Blue Water service when we take it from Lapeer to Chicago in a few weeks, on the way back. I got a few good interior shots of the Horizon Fleet coaches when, after Flint and Durand, my brother and I had a whole coach to ourselves. Hilarity and good photos ensued.



Patrick and I did eventually make it to Chicago. Fully six hours after we were supposed to, and after nine hours of bus ride, dehydrated, with a headache, and completely exhausted, we got off the bus, found our luggage, let Meghan (Kate's daughter) know we were there. After Meghan picked us up, we all went to get an awesome frozen yogurt treat, and we then went to (Kate's sister) Becky's house. We had some pizza, watched The Day After Tomorrow, then went to bed. It was a fold-out couch, but it was such a relief, and a good night's rest after havinng been on the train and buses for so long.

The next morning, we decided to head out to see some of downtown, Millennium Park and one or two other things. It was great fun, seeing the Chicago skyline, the giant reflective bean thing, and the giant water fountain faces. We had lunch at a little place called the Corner Bakery Cafe, then went back to the car to get our stuff, and head to the train station.

I knew were running later than we should have, and that the cause for it was an error in my own memory, saying that we needed to be on the train at 3:20, when our actual departure time was 3:00. So we rushed back to the car, only to have some shoe shining guy take my brother against all of our will, and dob this "interesting" white shoe cleaning material on his feet. The crosswalk had just told us we had permission to cross the street, and here we were, having to wait for some maniac to finish with my brother's shoes. All the while I'm screaming about how "the train is at three o'clock! we have to go!" and my brother's shoes, which already had the exact appearance he wanted, are being visually altered against his will, by some maniac who has the gall to charge him $4 per shoe.

So it was at that point that I decided we were late. Most of my readers know about CoryTime, and it went absolutely crazy today, as we walked into Chicago Union Station at about 2:45 p.m. (CDT), which was just fifteen minutes before our train was scheduled to leave. Luckily, Meghan and Sean saw us all the way into the terminals, and we got on the train just in time. Not to be outdone by my schedule, I still managed to snap a few hundred photos of downtown.

So now we're on the train, heading to Lapeer, Michigan, where we'll see our grandmother. I'm pretty excited for our travels to nearly be over, and for our vacationing to start.


Train Travel

Our train was supposed to depart Kingman at about 2:03 a.m. We finally got on it and were rolling a little over two hours later, at 4:10 a.m. Once again, I found myself on a train at night, but this time I was seatmates with my brother, and not with another college-aged person, like the last time.

Our vacation is now officially underway, and only two hours late. While I find that I can't really sleep very comforably in these seats, I do find that I love the swaying of the train when it's at track speed, especially as it rounds bends. It's an oddly reassuring feeling, and you know you're making progress, even if a bus has more efficient routes, and an airplane goes faster. When a bus or airplane sways, you think the driver has had a bit much to drink or that the vehicle is experiencing some kind of mechanical failure. When a train sways, you feel like it's intentional, like it was designed that way.

One of the greatest things about train travel is the fact that you've got so much freedom while you're on the train. The trains' not particularly huge or anything, but they're large enough that when you need to move from your seat to the lounge, or from your seat to the lower level, you can usually get there without having to stand too far out of the way.

Anyway, so far the trip is going great. My brother's been playing his mobile games, and I've been hopping back and forth between the land of dreams, and the land of listening to Fabulous Tunes on the iPhone. We've already made a visit to the snack reseller, and we have lunch reservations in a bit.

More on the train trip later, probably once we've made it to Chicago, and made it onto the next train.


Rediscovery of Google Docs

Recently I've decided (on accident really) to take another look at Google Documents. The interface has changed a little bit, and of course there's the presentation feature at which I haven't really looked too closely -- but the biggest change I've noticed is the addition of an offline mode.

For those not familiar with Google Docs, the whole setup is pretty cool, basically it's a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation app all stored on the Internet. Although one of the problems I've had with it in the past is the fact that it's more of a gimmick that you can only access when you're on the Internet than an actual productivity application.

With a technology called Google Gears, the Google Docs interface stays on my computer and I can work on my existing Docs items in my web browser without having an Internet connection. When I'm once again connected to the Internet, either through that AT&T/Cingular mobile "broadband" card, or at home, I can re-synchronize my data with the google servers.

The only problems so far are that I have never really had an opportunity to try offline mode before -- because I never really wanted to be offline if I didn't have to be. The other problem is that you can't create new documents when you're in offline mode. It shouldn't be too terribly difficult to just write something into an existing document, or use a piece of local software. If, for example, I wanted to write my blog entry about how I'm on the bus going to Tucson, I could just open up my copy of Word 2007 and start typing away.

It would be a huge advantage to be able to create new docments in offline mode, because it brings a pretty healthy amount of unification to the workflow of using Google Documents -- especially if I were to be away from my Internet connection for an extended period of time, while somehow having the opportunity or requirement to create a fairly massive number of new documents. (Anything more than five new documents for which I intended to use the Google Docs workflow, is a number that I'd consider to be inconvenient to have to upload separately to Docs. For now though, I'll probably have to continue creating documents in Live Writer, Word or OneNote for offline use, and transferring them to Google later on if I need to. Docs.

Another cool new feature is Docs' ability to display everything in a fixed-width page view. This particular feature does help close the gap between Docs as a cool thing to talk about, and an actual useful tool. Google Docs is a great writing tool, and it is great for collaboration, since just about everybody ever has a Google account at which you can send them docs to review.  But it lacks in a few organizational things, and it's not the very best at making documents look very pretty, for presentation.



The past week or two, here in Kingman, I've been having fairly massive headaches.

I figure they're a result of the fact that it's at least ten to twenty degrees Fahrenheit warmer here than in Flagstaff. The other potential explaination is that I haven't been drinking enough water, coupled with the fact that whenever Kate and I go to run errands, a massive blast of heat comes out of her car and hits me right in the face.



Well, Kate and I finally got all of the machines in the photo computer lab imaged, and set up. We got the printers going, OpenDirectory works just fine, the drobo's doing great (3x500GB disks = 900GB of disk space for userfolders and other supporting materials.) and in general, the photo room's technology should be ready for another school year's worth of usage.

It's worth noting that setting up OpenDirectory on a Mac OS X network is ridiculously difficult. Surprisingly, it's more difficult than setting up ActiveDirectory on a Windows network, it's even more difficult than setting up and managing an old Windows NT4 domain, which I find to be ridiculous. It takes me a few hours to set up a fully functioning Windows NT 4.0 domain, with a server, three clients and roaming profiles. Mac OS X didn't take too terribly long once I got everything figured out, but it took a generous amount of time to figure everything out.

While I am definitely happy about my accomplishment at the photo classroom last week, I think the biggest accomplishment will be at the end of next school year, in spring/summer 2009, when I come back to Kingman and hear about how well it all worked, and about how we won't need to reformat the server again. At that point, I'll definitely start to trust the Leopard Server environment. I'll believe it though, when I see it. In the meantime, I would really love to get my hands on a few machines I can use to test out my own Leopard (and eventually Snow Leopard) server environment, but that's a project for later on.


Quality vs. Quantity

One of the things that has been pointed out to me recently is that I have been heavily favoring a substantial quantity of blog posts, instead of concerning myself with the quality of them. We can be sure that it started in February or March when I was still writing multiple posts each week.

The question I suppose is whether or not I value the quality of having a lot of time to write, re-read, edit, re-read, re-edit and then re-read each post yet again.

On one hand, I would love each of my blog posts to be a finely tuned work of art, ready for proud display on my personal blog for viewing. One of the advantages to this setup, for me anyway, has been that I don't need to worry about the quality of my posts, because with a whole week to write something, I am able to write the post, edit it, research it, gather media for it like tables, photos and even videos, and then post it. The problem with this in the past was that releasing a blog post to Blogger at 11:50 p.m. on Sunday meant I actually had to be awake and online at that time, luckily Blogger has changed that, so I'm able to post blog entries into the future.

On the other hand, when I was limiting myself to one "incredible" post per week, I would defer my project posts when some life update happened, so I ended up with this horrific backlog of project posts that I not only put off posting, but I started to put off posting because life updates were getting in the way.

I think what I may need to do is start going back to the weekly project posts, and just post short, brief posts on whatever else I may be thinking or doing, whenever it's appropriate. I also want to put a little bit of thought into whether or not I want to continue hosting my blog on my own server in my own room, or if I want to consider switching my blog from my current hosted service (blogger) to another (wordpress, typepad, .mac/mobileme, etc.) The biggest reason I want to think about doing that is that while I really like having the wordpress blog around, it takes an inordinate amount of effort to post the same content to two blogs simultaneously, and while Windows Live Writer is definitely a big help with that, it's maybe not the best solution ever. Blogger is nice because it's always there, and I don't have to worry about the server, but Wordpress on my own server is nice because, well, it's my own server, and I enjoy that.

We'll see, but for now I'll continue posting to both.


OD Master!

Well, it's not actually as cool as it sounds, but I'm now officially an OpenDirectory Master! Today I ended up reformatting the server and setting everything up one step at a time, instead of the way I did it last time, which was "everything at once."

The moment of truth, when it finally happened, was nothing short of breathtaking. At first, I was able to add accounts just fine, which was our problem yesterday. Then, we were able ot see that the clients recognized something should be happening, but we weren't sure of the exact solution. Then it clicked, of course it had something to do with DNS! So I changed a setting on the client machine and blammo, the test user logged in perfectly!

We finished up the configuration of the PowerPC Macs (two G5 iMacs, three G4 iMacs, and one PowerMac G4) and tomorrow, we're distributing a new version of the system image we made on MacBook Pro 11 to the rest of the numerous intel-based Macs. From there, we'll be in business.

Tonight, I'm also setting up the software on the G3 iBook, which is just going to be an install of Mac OS X 10.4, iWork '08 and Office 2004. Much as I'd love to take the path of my Pismo and put Office'08 on there, I doubt that it would be appreciated. Tomorrow at some point I'll install Photoshop CS2 on the iBook, and with luck, be able to join it to the 10.5 OD server. If it works, Kate will have yet another machine she can have someone use. If it doesn't, I may put OS9 on it for her, along with Final Cut Pro 2 and recommend she have someone use it for on-site video capture. I presume it'll work though, as it's advertised as working, and the 10.5 system is nearly at a default configuration.

So, with luck that'll all work tomorrow, but the biggest and hardest part of the project is done.


Most Adorable Server Ever

One of the parts of my project at Kingman High School this week has been to help Kate set up our new server, which happens to be a Mac mini. The biggest reason we got a mini instead of either a macpro or an xserve was the fact that a mac mini really is enough for the high school. Currently there are 15 MacBook Pro computers of various ages, 7 iMacs of various types, and a G4 PowerMac, all of which are student client machines.

The goal is to give each Photo 2 student an account on the system that has a fairly hefty amount of available disk space, and that roams with them to whatever of the client Macs they choose to use. We're accomplishing this by using a mac mini as our server computer, with the Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Server software, and a drobo drive enclosure for the student home folders.

The unfortunate thing is that so far, while the client computers can see and connect to the server, I've been unable to successfully create network accounts and get their home directories added to the server. So far, everything leads to a potential trouble with the DNS setup, which I suppose I'll have to try tomorrow, because setting up the mini at home seems to have failed pretty hardcore.

Anyway, this is just a note to say that the mac mini is probably the most adorable server ever, plus it's so small and quiet. At some point when I replace the U60, it'll probably be with a mini.


Obligatory WWDC post

Well, the Worldwide Developers' conference was today, and after getting home, I finally remembered to look at today's announcements. I've got to admit, I was a little bit nonplussed, based on Apple's web site, it's just a confirmation of the rumors that have been flying around for a few weeks.

The biggest thing is the impending arrival of the iPhone 2.0 firmware. I'm pretty excited about that one myself, because I'm really looking forward to some of the third party apps that appear. The 3G iPhone was there, but I wasn't really feeling it, except that the thing has a flush headphone jack, which made me seriously consider for a moment either selling my existing iPhone or just outright buying the 3g one. Of course, I can get one of the cool little iPhone mic/headphone-adapters for like $20, so that's a better option. In case you don't already know, the details  on the 3G iPhone are as follows: $199 for an 8-gig iPhone, in black. $399 for a 16-gig iPhone in black, or a pretty nice looking new white finish, which would match someone's white iPod collection, a white MacBook/iBook, or a white iMac like mine.

The other "important" news is Snow Leopard, which aside from one or two new things that might be considered as features, is almost purely a structural and stability/polishing upgrade. It's expected to be released in "about a year" and I'm expected to probably pay more for it than everyone else at the university. Such is life.

The update about which I'm really the most excited though, is the replacement for .Mac, which has been dubbed Mobile Me. It's touted as "Exchange for the person who doesn't have a corporate server," and the big, all-important thing about Mobile Me is Push, Push, Push. It's got push e-mail, push calendaring, and push contacts, completely (well, cross-platform enough anyway) cross-platform, supporting Microsoft Outlook 2003 & 2007, Apple's own Mail/Address Book/iCal combo, plus the iPhone, of course.

Add to all of that, a standard storage space of 20GB for mail, galleries and iDisk, plus a few other niceties, and you've got a a great, well-rounded set of online services to provide to people who buy iPhones and Macs in the Apple Store. Plus, it works great in modern web browsers, to the extent that the iDisk function lets you sort files just like in finder on a real Mac. (Plus, you can mount iDisk in finder, and map it as a network drive on Windows.)

The biggest drawback to MobileMe is that Apple is still charging for it, but I suppose they've got to make lots of extra bucks somehow. It's still $99/year for an individual subscription, and there are +20GB and +40GB storage options available, for "just" $49 and $99 respectively. Someone owning a MacBook Air might spring for the +40, to have 60 gigs of available space, to back up the entire contents of their little 64GB SSD.

On that note, I do wonder what happened to the Backup app with MobileMe -- will people currently using Backup be unable to continue backing up to their iDisks. I also wonder whether or not Backup will still be available to people who sign up as new members for MobileMe. I'll have to check that out at some point in time.


Away from Flagstaff

Well, it occurred to me that today marks the beginning of my first extended stay away from Flagstaff since I returned from Kingman in January. It'll be the longest I've been away from the helpdesk, ever. I don't know what's worse though, the fact that I'll be away from the helpdesk, or the fact that that was my first big concern about being in Kingman then Michigan so long.

I got packed up and made it back here to Kingman without any major problems, I would even go as far as to describe the ride down to Kingman as "pretty great."

Other than that, we've also been to both El Capitain in Flagstaff, and Chili's in Kingman today. I figured that that'd happen, so I've mostly been avoiding those places thus far this summer. Pretty great to be able to have my favorite Chili's dish again, although as a result of it, I've eaten far, far too much today.


Just a few more hours...

One of the "sad" events this summer is that I've got to head out and go back to Kingman tomorrow. In all reality, I'm pretty excited about this, but it'll be the longest time I've been away from the helpdesk since I started here in August last year. So now, I'm working "just a few more hours" to help fatten the last paycheck a little bit more before I get back in mid-July.

Tonight's project is to gather all the stuff I want to take with me to leave at dad's house, and anything I think I'll need for my project at the high school, and for my trip to Michigan. So far I know I'm bringing the Lenovo R61i and the D300 stuff, along with the MyWD hard disc, which I use for imaging and multimedia. I'll probably also toss the color calibrator and the rechargeable batteries slash recharger(s) in the photo-backpack too.

Just for good measure, I think I'll bring the A21m, for some NT4 action, and maybe the PowerBook 520s, so I can swap in the good hinges on the 520c, and get some of my own software installed on it.

Anyway... Just a few more hours of work before I leave the helpdesk until July.


Avatar! (Forgot to Post)

Oops! I've once again forgotten to post! I have a tendency to do that, it seems.

Anyway! Megan and I watched a bunch of Avatar "last night" (I'm posting this into the past.) We powered through the second half of the Earth part of the show, and watched the first few episodes of the Fire part. In the next few weeks, I am hopefully going to finish the rest of the Fire part of the show, while audio-chatting with Megan. The idea is that we'll have pretty much watched the whole thing together.

Anyway, sorry I keep posting these things into the past, but I keep forgetting to post when I "should."



Today, I accidentally wasn't on the schedule for most of the evening shift, so I was able to leave work at about 4:30 and hang out with Megan. We hung out in the room a little bit while she finalized the new color of her hair, and then we went to Hiro's to go get some Sushi.

Today we've also been watching Avatar: The Last Air-bender, but there's more on that tomorrow.



I'm happy to say that after a few long weeks, Megan is back in flagstaff visiting. She and Meaghan have gone off to play, and hopefully there can be some Pita Pit as well.

Other than that, I didn't post a blog entry yesterday, which is like my tenth failure to post since I started trying to write a blog post every day. I'm not too terribly regretful of it, because it's really not that big of a deal to me. I started writing a post last night, and that post is probably one I'll finish writing and use as a pre-written post for my vacation time.



The first five-week summer session started today. It's 7:45 and just now after so many hours of this shift have I had an opportunity to start closing out some of the calls I had to leave open, so I could go back in later and add details. Unfortunately right as I was nearly done closing out the last of those calls, another hour-long call marathon came in, this time all dealing with ResNet.

It's a very exhausting experience to be on marathon calls for so long, but as always there are the really nice callers who are polite and seem to be happy merely for the fact that there was someone on the other end trying to help them with their computer.

Tonight, I'm looking forward to heading home and falling asleep freakishly early. That, or maybe watching a movie.



One of my favorite activities so far this summer, one which I'll probably miss the most while I'm in Kingman then on my vacation, has become visiting downtown Flagstaff.

Before going downtown though, it's worth noting that I spent some time video chatting with Megan.

Today, Glenn, Meaghan, Mel and I went to downtown on a wonderful little photo adventure. We walked around downtown, had a bit of a fashion shoot in the park, and then went to Pita Pit for some dinner. That's the other thing I'm going to miss in Kingman/Michigan, Pita Pit.

Afterward we came back to the room and had a bit of a dance party, along with some music and web browsing.

After that, I did some color calibration and got myself caught up on processing and posting my Photo365 images. I've got a lot of workflow stuff I need to do on that front though, especially keywording the oldest of my image folders, making sure my list of keywords is complete, and burning keyworded folders to DVD for archival.


Chatting with Megan

Megan recently pointed out that I haven't been very talkative online lately. I'm not going to lie, and we already discussed this, I think it's because I'm afraid that my encouragement isn't always as helpful as I'd like it to be. We talked a bit today, then after I came home I accidentally fell asleep at the keys. Although I must admit that I do quite enjoy a good nap, I'm sure she wasn't happy about that.

so... um... oops.

Anyway, that was all I could think of today, so it's what I wrote about.


Missed a Day

Whoops! I missed a day. This post is therefore being posted retroactively.

Today (Yesterday, when I'm writing this) has been (was) very "full." I got up at about 10:30 and prepared to head out to the NAU Bookstore to pick up the T-Shirt I ordered back in March for Megan. (Oops, a bit of a delay in the delivery, but I can't say I mind too terribly much.) I also happen to have received the video card for flatdell and the hundred-stack of Taiyo Yuden CD-Rs yesterday, which was a nice bonus. I did also actually go shooting with the D300 and everything. There's even some nice images I think, but I haven't really had a chance to go through them yet.

Flatdell's new video card installed perfectly. I had to bring the machine and the card into the office to get it all set up, because I lack my own tools right now, but once Mel and I got the brackets rearranged, the card installed great and the drivers installed pretty easily.

Not too terribly much progress was made on the ThinkPad/OPENSTEP project. I burned the CD and the OPENSTEP boot discs seem to realize that the CD is there, but the machine seems still unable to read the disc -- that or I burned it wrong. I may try another (more conventional) CD to see if the machine is physically capable of reading the Taiyo Yuden CD-Rs, and I'm also getting a different CD image to try.

I also lacked progress on Meaghan's laptop, mainly because I had a bunch of other things going on. I'll work on that more today or tomorrow.


Progress on Projects

Today I finally went to my PO Box at NAU's Central Campus post office location, underneath the NAU Bookstore. It was after today's Freshman Orientation information session, Meaghan and I stopped in to check the prices of some books and for me to pick up a package I've been waiting for.

So tonight's project involves finally getting Meaghan's little old PII Dell Latitude CPi working. I've already got the new hard disc installed, and I had Meaghan drop it off at my room. I just need to put Windows 98 or Windows NT4 Workstation on it here. I'm going for NT4 personally, since the goal is something that'll be fast and reliable. I just need to find out where I put imager, and we'll be good. Imager does include a blank Windows 2000 Pro image, so I may install that purely for the fact that it's easily available.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to go to Postal Services again to pick up the new graphics card for flatDell, along with my hundred-stack of Taiyo Yuden CD-Rs. Part one of that project is to get flatDell upgraded with the graphics card, and get some games installed onto it, at which point I'm going to remove the bootcamp partition from my iMac.

After that, the next project is to install OpenSTEP 4.2 on the ThinkPad 760ED. I've already got the two install floppies made and they  both work well, now it's just a matter of burning the install CD. With luck, and the Taiyo Yuden CD-Rs, it'll all work properly, and I'll have OpenSTEP running on real hardware.


Plans for the 760s

Well, I've started working on the decision for exactly what I'm going to do to the ThinkPad 760 computers. One of them, the 760CD, will remain the same, because it's already nearly a museum quality piece of hardware.

The other two, a ThinkPad 760EL and a ThinkPad 760ED shall be combined to make one ThinkPad that I have decided will be nearly museum quality. I'm going to then throw the worst bits away, keeping the extra bay modules and anything else I think I'll need.

The exact plan is to make the 760ED the base of my new setup, because it's the fastest of my 760s and it has a nice big 1024x768 resolution display, compared with the 800x600 display on the CD and the EL. I am going to take the top case, the keyboard and the rear port cover from the 760EL and put them onto the ED. I'll also be keeping the floppy, battery and dead hard disc from the EL as a "just in case" pile of spare parts. One of the things I will then eventually do is put a new drive in the EL's hdd caddy, so I can have a drive for Windows and a drive for OPENSTEP4.2, which is the operating system I'd eventually like to run on the ED.

Tonight, I've actually gotten Windows 98 installed on the ED. It was surprisingly easy, and I'm pleasantly surprised with how easy the whole installation process was. Right now, I'm just copying the variety of Internet Explorer installers to it's hard disc so I can see how "modern" I can make Windows98.

Windows 98, at least the OEM version I installed, isn't really as bad as I remember it being so long ago. It's got some stuff I don't even remember in Windows ME, like "Windows Family Logon." (Although I may just not have looked hard enough, or needed WFL that long ago.) The cool thing about Windows Family Logon is that it actually separates profiles, and keeps them very mildly secure. You set up an initial profile, and from that point forward you create new accounts as needed, and you can determine exactly how much customization is needed for each account. You can also set passwords, but I haven't bothered with that yet.

Another thing I would like (but am unlikely) to do is recell and/or revive some of the spare 760  batteries. With as fast as the 760ED is, or as fast as the CD can be if I run a more slim OS, a 760 that's got two batteries would be a great notetaking machine. Two batteries that can get 3 hours each would be great for a portable system. Plus, since I have three batteries total, I could pop in a third and really get all-day computing.


PowerBook 520c

Today I've been playing some PowerBook, and have given some thought to exactly what I want to do with some of my older computers, because it was pointed out to me that I've got ten of them in the office right now, and another three in my room -- and that's not counting the two that I still haven't received in the mail.

One of my favorites of the old PowerBooks, purely for it's high specs, is a PowerBook 520c. Unfortunately it's hinge isn't in such great condition, and I need to consider whether or not I am going to repair it. I should repair it because I would like to have a nice fast 68k PowerBook around. I will probably take the hinges from the PowerBook 520c, and then sell the 520c later on.

At some point I will probably re-do the software installation on this particular 520c, it's running someone else's install of 7.5, with some software licensed to the university. I think it was used by a faculty member or a graduate student of French, in the department of modern languages. I should like to put my own installation of System 7.1 or Mac OS 7.6 on it, along with my own selection of software.



One of the most terrifying things about being such a packrat has been moving. Moving from Cedar wing to Aspen wing of Gabaldon was downright terrifying, and somehow in the past few weeks, I've managed to get not only another computer of the desktop variety, but another two are on their way.

One of the things I suppose I need to start doing is finding the time to work on some of my other projects, like re-combining the ThinkPad 760 machines so I can toss out my least favorite one. Same with the PowerBook 520s, and I think I need to send a computer or two back home, probably the PowerBook 180 and/or whichever 520 I deem the best. Plus the e-PCs probably, and who knows whether or not I'll keep using the U60.

I've also got optical discs I need to get rid of because they're useless, a whole box of extra sheets, blankets and clothes I've never worn, and a bunch of other little nicnacs.

For the summer, living minimalistically is both very easy, and extraordinarily difficult. It's difficult to get through the day without having to dig through the various layers of boxes underneath the bed. I find it difficult to move around the room without tripping on something that hasn't found it's own place that's out of the way.

In summation, I need to get rid of stuff, or at least figure out a better way to move it and have it around without it being in my way.



Today, after sleeping until noon, Meaghan and I went to the Black Bean, a small Mexican restaurant inside a little nook of Flagstaff I would never have seen unless someone had taken me there. Luckily, Meaghan was there to show the way. The food was great.

flatcatAlso part of our adventure was a trip around downtown, including some shops like the Blackhound Gallerie, where I got flatcat, my new dorm pet. When I get my printer back at the beginning of the next semester, flatcat will be assigned to protecting that, but for now she (or he or it) is assigned to protecting flatdell.

All told, Meaghan and I spent about 4 hours walking around today. I got about 160 frames in with the D300, and there would've been more if I had brought more than one memory card. Today's Photo365 image is pretty great. There were some very awesome shots of Meaghan, but for today, the train picture won.

We're probably going to make these particular event a weekly thing, because we found out that downtown Flagstaff on a Sunday afternoon is a very fun place. Live music, shops, and great photographic opportunities. Next time I go to downtown, I am definitely bringing all of my memory cards.


Speed Racer... oerr... Indiana Jones.

Last night, Meaghan, Tyson, Mel, David and I went to see Speed Racer, I mean Indiana Jones. It was a pretty great movie overall, and quite a fun adventure.

The movie itself was pretty epic, I'd never seen any Indiana Jones movies before, so there were a few little things lost on me, but it wasn't something I felt like I was unable to continue watching, which is good. I should check to see if there's any particular order in which I should watch the others, or if they're standalone too.

Because I can't seem to post without some technology update, it's worth noting that I chose and bought a video card for the flatdell -- I'm getting for it an nVidia GeForce 8600GT.



Today has been very busy. Lots of errands were run. I've been to the helpdesk, to Staples & Walmart, and I've just now gotten back from getting food (Taco Bell) for Glenn, who now has a job at the front desk of Gabaldon. In a few more moments, I'm heading out with Meaghan, Tyson, Mel and probably a few other people to go see the new Indiana Jones movie.

As an update on 'Precious' the Dell Inspiron 530s, I have decided not to get a new monitor for it yet, I am going to run it with the 19" dell trinitron monitor, which I found out is capable of running at 1600x1200@75Hz, which is a very viewable resolution and refresh rate. I'm going to try color calibrating the thing in the next week or so.

I'm also still looking at graphics cards for it. I've found nearly a dozen individual suitable cards, but I'm not a hundred percent certain which one I'm going to get yet.


"Gaming" PC

Today after taking the picture for Photo365, Meaghan and I headed to Staples, mainly to look around. In our exploring, we discovered a very cheap Dell. A Dell that I bought, somewhat uninformed about it, but I'm very happy with the decision. The idea is that I don't like dual-booting the iMac into Windows for games, and a slim desktop system would be able to take a graphics upgrade would be a very helpful type of computer to have around.

If it weren't on clearance, this particular system would've cost about $600. Luckily they had it on massive clearance discount, so I brought it home for about $300. The trip home with it was quite fun. Meaghan and I had to carry the CPU separately from all of the other stuff, because the original box wasn't included. Meaghan has decided that it's name needs to be precious, because it's such an adorable little computer.

The specs of the system in it's base form aren't too terribly spectacular. It's got a 1.8GHz "Pentium Dual Core" processor in it, 2GB of memory, a 320GB hard disc, a mega DVD burner, and a card reader. The motherboard has an Intel GMA X3100, but one nice surprise is that it's not using the expected 965 Express series chipset, it's got a G33/G31 Express family chipset, which means it's capable of using much nicer processors, like either the Wolfdale E8500 or the Yorkfield Q9300 processor. It's also got a PCI Express X16 slot, and it should be capable of holding up to 4 or 8 gigs of memory.

My plan for that PCIe slot is an 8-series nVidia GPU with 256mb or more of memory. I've found five candidates on Newegg, which I'll talk about in a later post I think.

Right now the thing's running Vista Home Premium, but I think I'm going to load MSDNAA Vista Business onto it. Other than that, I'll put Office2007 on it, and as soon as I get the new GPU, I'll install the games on it and remove Vista from the iMac I think. Tonight's project is burning a Vista Business DVD and getting this machine up to date.

Speaking of the iMac, I'm not 100% sure what I want to do with the iMac yet. This system is shaping up to be more powerful than the iMac, and it's definitely more expandable. I'm just not sure about whether or not I'm too attached to Mac OS X and/or the iMac itself to impulse-sell the iMac. More on that in yet another blog post.


XIMETA is Dead

Today I loaned Meaghan the old 80gig XIMETA drive, in an attempt to help her get a bunch of data backed up. We started formatting it, but on both her and my computer, it can't finish formatting, and it'll end Windows Explorer until the computer is restarted, and/or the drive is removed.

It's been a nice, long run. I got XIMETA in 2004, when I decided I needed a drive for backup (haha!) and (mainly) for archival of different files. Initially it wasn't so fast because I had to use it over USB1.1, with the occasional visit to it's Ethernet mode.

I'll probably either toss it out, or replace the mechanism in it. We'll see. At some point, I'd like to replace all or most of my external storage devices with a drobo, with the exception of maybe a Windows backup drive, and a drive for the laptop. What I may end up doing is using the MyWD drive as my Windows/Mobile drive, reducing my number of externals to 2.

Anyway... here's to you, XIMETA. You were a good drive, my first USB external drive, in an era when two USB ports was good enough for everything I needed to use.


Your Orientation... In Space

Recently, Glenn and I have been watching a bunch of things showing on the SciFi channel, and it made me think back to watching Firefly/Serenity earlier last semester, and a few other shows and movies I've watched that take place in space.

A big thing I've noticed is that in each of these fictional universes, there seems to be an absolute standard as to what's "up" and what's "down." You never see two spaceships flying around, with different orientations.

Another tidbit, one that's almost contrary to the first "rule" of space, is that you and your spaceship are always "above" whatever planet you're closest to, as though all planets are sitting down on one 2-dimensional plane, and you can always fly above them.

Just some weird observations, there are probably more weird things like that about science fiction, this just happens to be the one I noticed most recently.


Gaming PC

For some reason, I woke up yesterday with this very strange urge to research computer parts. So far I've looked at processors, motherboards and cases. Glenn and I have been talking about building a gaming computer, and I always like having another machine around, so I decided to look at some parts today.

I've decided on two processors that are very similar in price. One is a dual-core at 3.16GHz, and the other is a quad-core at 2.5GHz.
The two processors listed here are both 45nm processors that require some of Intel's latest chipsets. There are three motherboards that I really like, one based on the G35 chipset, one based on the P35 chipset, and the other based on the X38 chipset.
My favorite motherboard is the DG35EC. It's got a nice complement of ports, and if I were building the machine purely for Vista use, the board's Intel GMA X3500 graphics would serve great -- and it's capable of HD video playback, at up to 1080p. The other two boards don't have graphics, which makes them quite suitable for what I'd originally intended to use the system for, which is as a gaming computer.

So far, I've pretty much decided on one enclosure, the Antec 300. It looks like a great enclosure, the power supply is at the bottom which is for whatever reason my favorite orientation, it can hold an ATX board, and there are plenty of . The big important part about this particular enclosure though, is the fact that it's not ugly. After looking at a lot of mid towers, I've got to say that I think the Antec Three Hundred is the one I'd probably be able to live with.

So far I'm happy with the components I've looked at and their prices. I'm somewhat terrified of the prices for the rest of the components. I'm not sure quite yet if I'm going to go through with building this machine -- the iMac is a pretty great computer as it is, and any of the games I'd like to play run great on it.

Over the next few weeks, I'll probably look at other parts and see what's out there, but ultimately I don't think I'll be building a new computer this summer, but if I do, it'll be later on in the summer.


Photo365 Revisited.

Oops, I stopped pre-writing blog posts!

Well, I suppose then that I'll take this opportunity to tell you that I've started the Photo365 project, and I'm pretty excited about it all so far. I'm hosting my Photo365 stuff on a different blog actually, the WordPress blog I installed on my Sun Ultra60 computer.

The first day, I did a short in the lobby at North Hall. It was so-so photographically, but it was an image I wasn't going to go back to get any time soon.

The second day, I got some construction going on outside my dorm. It was really close by, but I think that of today's images, it was the strongest, compositionally.

One of the things I'm looking forward to is using the variety of lenses I've got, and I may even try the D50 body some more, with the various lenses. I also hope that my workflow really gets tighter and better, as a result of this project.


Mac OS X 10.5 Server

Well, I've finally brought the ThinkPad and the Pismo to the new room, and started playing with Mac OS X 10.5 Server on the iMac.

I started out with "simple" mode -- because I was under the impression that in Simple mode, everything "just works." And for the most part, this is true. Although for whatever reason, I ended up switching to Advanced Mode. There were a few quirks with that switch-over, but new accounts worked just fine in OpenDirectory. I was able to get Mac OS X 10.4 running on the Pismo authenticating against the 10.5 server, with networked home directories and some group policies quite easily.

The real challenge will be to make sure that the knowledge I've gained from my tiny setup here in this dorm room will apply at KHSPhoto. I'm pretty excited about it all, of course, and I bet that everything will work just fine in the KHSPhoto installation. That'll be a big project blog post with pictures, diagrams, tables, and everything. It'll be great.

One of the biggest disappointments about the project so far though, is that I haven't got a sufficient number of Macs here at home to really try out some of the things OpenDirectory can do. I think it's reason enough to impulse-buy a few G4 iBooks/PowerBooks, so I can have a few machines to authenticate against the controller.
(I have actually been eyeing one of the G4 PowerMacs at Surplus Sales as a secondary machine for Leopard/LeopardServer, I may grab one later on in the summer, if I haven't decided to try out a Psystar, or my own hacked Mac or building a "gaming computer.")


Speed Racer

The other night Meaghan, Mel, David and I went to see Speed Racer. Unfortunately this is being put up using the Scheduled Posting feature, because I've already got a queue of blog posts out to like Thursday or Friday.

The good news is that the movie has a pretty amazing soundtrack and the color is amazing. The sound design in it's awesome, and the editing and visuals are awesome. Glenn asked me if any of the extra effort put into the technical detail detracts from the movie at all, and I've got to say that it definitely doesn't. The whole thing is made more impressive by, for one example, the editing where as events are unfolding, you can see everyone's reactions.

The music makes this movie, I think. During the whole thing I can feel the suspense, the excitement, or whatever other emotion is being conveyed on the screen, more because of the music than anything. It has a great orchestrated sound, and I intend to have bought it on iTunes by the time you read this.

The bad news is that Meaghan and I managed to get hopped up on caffeine during the movie, each of us having consumed 44oz worth of our preferred caffeine drink. (Coke and Dr. Pepper, respectively.) Meaghan ended up staying in her room, hopefully she's managed to fall asleep by now because I feel terrible about having contributed to her crazy insomnia. I've stayed up for a bit to write this blog post, and do a few other things around the room.

I completely recommend that anyone who is looking for a movie to see, see this one.


Relaxing Weekend

Well, after finally getting finals done, and getting everything moved last Friday, I've taken the bus down to Tucson and I'm here with Megan, watching her write a comment on one of Eric's notes.

I'm mostly confident about my grades, I think I got mostly Bs but I'm concerned about my grade in World History, because I'm not sure that I did so well on the exam, and if I did very poorly, it'll reflect pretty badly in my GPA.

Other than that, on Saturday morning I took the trip down to Tucson, meeting a nice older woman named Norma. She and I made our way down to Tucson where I met Megan and her little brother Donald, who took me to an interesting Mexican restaurant whose name I've forgotten. Afterward we went to her house and watched some Avatar. I've found out that her whole family seems to love DDR, although it's only been a few days yet, so I'm not sure how long that'll last.

The real highlight of the trip was Rent on Sunday though. The trip to Phoenix wasn't too relaxing, as we started to run a little late, which drove Megan completely crazy. Other than missing the first song or two, Rent was awesome. Although I've got to admit that the stage show is a very draining experience, emotionally as well as physically, especially in the second act. I cried during the movie, but during the stage show, I completely bawled, and wasn't able to speak normally for about a half hour afterward. If anyone remembers how I reacted to Fullmetal Alchemist, it was basically the same for Rent.

After Rent, Megan and I had some Ruby Tuesdays and I got on the FlagExpress van and came back up to the new room where Glenn, who is living with me this summer, and I set up the room to our liking. More on the arrangement of the room later.


Typing Speed

73 words
I recently took an online Speed-test, which I found while reading another blog. It was interesting to do the speed test, which I wasn't really very prepared for. When I first did the test, I got 73wpm, with two errors. When I re-did the test about 20 minutes later, i got 84wpm with 5 incorrect words, which is pretty good. I'm going to bookmark the test and in the next few weeks, I intend to try again. Because I had 5 incorrect words, my theoretical speed is a bit over 90wpm, which is pretty cool.

84 words


Nuclear Winter. Has Returned.

I pushed two blog posts further back in order to post this for you today. To let you know, that here in Flagstaff, right now, it is is snowing.

Meaghan, Courtney from Kingman, and Glenn and I are going to IHOP in the next few minutes, because we're all friends in weird ways which is awesome. I am going to take some images of the snow with the phone of I, which I will probably add to this post (or at least to Flickr) later on. There will be pictures of snow that exists in mid-May. I will have them.

Anyway, great day!


Missed a Day!

Well, well. Glenn and I put so much effort into moving and going to Village Inn than sleeping and writing blog posts, so I missed posting yesterday, even though I had already started to write a new post.

So this is an apology post for having missed the mark on that particular post. I'll probably go ahead and finish writing yesterday's actual post and put it up tomorrow, and from there the blog will resume a fairly normal schedule.



If you're reading this -- Blogger's scheduled posting still works. If everything has gone down properly, I should either be in Tucson right now, or should be on my way. I'm pretty excited about having some time to just sit around and not do anything, and seeing Rent this weekend.

I'm sorry for all of the pre-written posts, but all I can do is just attempt to express how insane the past few days have been. After covering an overnight Monday evening, then sleeping in the office until noon, a bit of studying and procrastinating on actually packing up until I was done with all of my finals yesterday.

Speaking of finals -- they went pretty well. I'm pretty sure I'm ending this semester with a record number of Bs, and probably a few Cs, but as far as I know I haven't failed anything, and I'm certainly not doing online courses again.

Packing went okay -- I packed some, moved a few things into Megan's storage unit, and then packed some more. As of this writing, the only thing I have left to pack is my food stuff in the top of the closet, then I need to clean up and get everything moved.

I'm at work right now because the prospect of more packing seems pretty terrible. It's things like this that make me consider a life of minimalism, fewer clothes, and only one computer. But would I really be able to stay a minimalist? probably not.



Well, if everything goes like the emails have said they would, I should be moving today. I've pre-written this because I need to be packing and moving today, not writing on my blog.


More Finals

Well this year I only had three "finals" per se. German was yesterday, and today I've got History and  CIS120. I don't yet know how I did on the German final, nor am I 100% sure on how well I studied for History or CIS120, because I'm writing this post on Tuesday night, instead of studying.

So with luck, this'll be the end of generic pre-written posts for awhile, but just in case, I think I may dig up something from the archives of pre-written junk for Friday, so I don't have to worry about what I'm doing instead of packing.



I'm pre-writing this so I don't get tempted to write more blog entries, but when you read this I will be taking my German final.


Another Overnight

Well... I remember writing yesterday about how I was done with overnights for the semester, but the opportunity arose and I'm here for another night.

I'm not too terribly concerned at the loss of studying time, because I haven't got any finals tomorrow and I'm purportedly using some of this time to study.

My two finals left are for German and History, and after that I've got to get everything packed and ready to move.

Luckily, I've heard that I may be able to move into my room in Aspen for the summer as early as this Friday, because (luckily!) nobody has requested an extended check-out in that room. Another cool tidbit is that I'm on the second floor of Aspen, so I'll be right near the kitchen and laundry room.

The other cool thing about being able to move in on Friday is that I may be able to go to Tucson with Megan, and see Rent this coming Sunday.


Blogging about Work

Today I came across an interesting situation at work, and decided it would be worthy of a blog post. However because of the sensitive nature of the situation I was about to post on my blog, I decided it might be a good idea to check with some of my coworkers and one of the full time staff members to see whether or not the thing I was about to post on my blog would get me fired.

I've been told that while the tidbit I was about to post had no real personal information, it was still not a very good thing about which to post, and that it would probably turn into a situation where "do that again, and you're fired."

I'm sure that in the future though, there will be topics I would like to address with more broad strokes than the post I'd previously written for today, and for those days, I've elected one of the full time staff members to be my blog pre-reader, just to make sure that I'm not writing anything that could cost me my job.

So from this point forward for posts other than those I get approved, while I will probably blog at work, I'm going to have to try not to blog so much about work.


Home Stretch

I know this is just about all I've written about in the past few weeks, but I'm excited to say that I'm nearly done with everything. Including the VC251 project about which I was so unhappy. It was one of those things that in the end wasn't too terribly difficult, I just needed to actually get started on it. I also ended up using a lot of Megan's advice about how to make a vectorized human face look good.

From this point forward, I just need to finish the website stuff for VC251, pray that I'm not kicked out of the class from my Unit 11 shenanigans, then finish up on my finals and projects for my German, History and Computer Information Systems classes.

In other news, I'm just now finishing out my last overnight shift of the semester. Having my macaroni and cheese, and chatting with my WonderTwin. Megan's around too actually, but she fell asleep at about 2 a.m. on the couch, so I then pursued some of the Thomas the Tank Engine videos I've got hanging around until at about 4:45, my WonderTwin Meaghan showed up, with a case of the insomnias.

On another Megan-related note, we finished the first season of Avatar today. I'm borrowing her set of "Book 2" to rip into the iMac so I can watch it, and then I suppose it'll be online videos for me, and Megan and I were talking about watching the show finale at the same time, and voice/video-chatting on the Internet at the same time, or seeing if she could come visit Flag sometime around then.


Winding Down

It's really starting to feel like the end of the semester. It's just like last year, as I walk around, I notice that there's a calm that has begun to settle over the campus. As reading week drew to it's close, classes stopped meeting and the people I did observe walking around were keeping to themselves, quieter and it almost seemed slower than usual.

Right now it's the weekend before finals, which means most people are studying, packing and finishing up projects. I've got my own projects and studying.  Unfortunately Illustrator didn't seem to want to install on the ThinkPad R61i, and while I could go grab the Pismo, I'm going to leave that for a bit later in the morning, maybe switch 'em out in a few hours.

Other than that, I'm installing Solaris today. That will probably become a fairly regular occurrence, just as a warning.

I'm not going to lie, freaky and unnatural as it seems, I actually don't mind -- nay -- I even like the times where it's quiet. It seems like it becomes a time of reflection, reading, studying, among other things. It's also quite relaxing, which helps a lot because it's finals week.


New Toys for Summer

Well, my summer projects are all mostly here. First and foremost is the Sun Ultra60 workstation, which I'm taking to work tonight. This one is just to have a Sun workstation, and because I want to host ULW locally again, on something that's ultra.

The other big part of today's shipment is some ThinkPad 760-series stuff. Unfortunately their epic amounts of memory aren't compatible with my 760CD, but I think that between the 760ED and 760EL, I can get at least one more very workable 700-series ThinkPad. My intent is to combine their parts to make one pretty ThinkPad, and install OPENSTEP 4.2 on the hard disc drive it's got. Maybe I can even find an OPENSTEP-compatible pcmcia ethernet adapter.

And on the topic of PCMCIA adapters, I got the Sony Ericsson GC83 GSM/GPRS/EDGE Network Wireless Internet PC Card, with the Cingular logo on it. I've already got it installed and set up on the R61i too, so that setup is ready for summer. I'll be able to blog and post photos in Michigan. I gave it a try today, and I'm really happy with it. Once things have started loading, it's faster than dialup, but there's huge latency issues, especially since my room can't get full signal with the EDGE card. I have no doubt that under any given situation where it's the only thing available, it will be no problem at all. It's not like I intend to rock out in the dorm with the EDGE card. (on a regular basis, anyway.)


The Destruction of my Network

Actually, this post isn't so much about my network, like someone came into my room and snipped the ends off of my Ethernet cables, as much as it's about the fact that today I took down the TREL and unhooked the printer from my dorm network, in preparation for moving to Aspen wing at the start of this summer.

And so, we come to the actual purpose of this post, my description of how I think I"m being shafted by ResLife, who are going to make me move at the beginning of summer, and for some reason I've got this weird idea that they are probably going to make me move at the end of summer too. Had I known this earlier, it wouldn't have been such a big problem, but my issue is that I was led to believe by just about everyone that I wouldn't have to move.

Almost worse than reslife doing this is what I've done to the room -- Jim and I have made a few customizations, and we've got the room absolutely filled to the brim with random crap. Huge collections of novels, my nine computers (of which, to be fair, seven are laptops, one is the iMac and the last is the decTOP), among other things.

So for the next few weeks, in addition to studying and taking exams, Jim and I have to clean the room and get everything ready to move out. But I don't just have to move. I have to move on Sunday, May 11th. The day I'm going to see Rent with Megan. My intent was to hang out with her in Tucson all weekend, go back up to Phoenix to see Rent, then take a Greyhound bus from
Phoenix to Flagstaff, in time to get sleep and be at work Monday afternoon.

Hopefully I'll be able to get it arranged with Leslie Jo and Dylan (current and summer RHDs of Gabaldon) to either move into Aspen wing on Friday/Saturday, or Monday, and then get a ride down to Phoenix for Rent on Sunday. (I may have to do the Greyhound thing even then -- I suppose I should familiarize myself with their schedule.)

So if I seem on-edge, or in general "really angry" over the next week or so, that's why.


I have nothing but contempt for VC251

I really don't love writing excessively negative things, but I feel the urgent need to express my disdain for one of the classes I've had the "joy" of taking this semester, VC251. It took me two or three semesters to even get into the class, and as a result of EMF252 (the UTV62 class), I was unable to take it in-person, so this semester I was finally able to get into (and therefore even able to consider settling for) an online section of the class.

To put it lightly, Online VC251 is a special kind of hell that I would never wish upon anyone, unless they didn't have other classes. The entire course, which is conducted via WebCT Vista, is very poorly organized, and the bulk of the instructional material comes from these two books we were told to buy, Adobe Photoshop CS3 Classroom in a Book and Adobe Illustrator CS3 Classroom in a Book.

So we work through the lessons in these books, which in a way, are very remedial and basic lessons, which serve almost more as an introduction to the very concept of "photoshop" and "illustrator." And immediately thereafter we're expected to do a complicated project involving type, compositing multiple photographs and a poem. A poem! For the Illustrator section, we learn selections, layers, LiveTrace, creating some simple shapes, and a few other little things, and immediately thereafter we're expected to trace a comic book cover.

A few very fortunate people were able to find very, very simple comic books, with no shading of any sort, no background to speak of, and only one or two characters with maybe one prop. Unfortuantely, after three or four pages of google image results, all I was able to find were hellaciously difficult comic covers. Add to that a lack of any real text other than the title, and you've got a manageable assignment. Unfortunately, since we were told to find our own comics, and I didn't want to spend three hours looking for that simple comic, I ended up using a quite difficult comic to trace. Hilariously enough, one involving fair use. The original image can be seen here.

And this was just a few hours before it was due, because I'd forgotten it in favor of completing projects for my in-person classes, taking calls, and other miscellaneous shenanigans. So I started looking at the image, and realized that the assignment involved tracing with Illustrator's pen tool. "oops."

A lot of this was my own shortsightedness, needless to say I really should have skipped out on both weekend overnights, and classes/work on Monday and Tuesday in order to work through the project and get everything done. I think that with that much time, working straight through, I might have gotten a simple version of the image completed. I ended up using Illustrator's Live Trace tool, which we were "kind of" told not to use. I got the image done and it looks great, but I'm not sure what kind of grade I'll get on it.

The project in and of itself is not too bad an idea, although I think it's totally inappropriate for a Freshman VC class, and almost more importantly, I'm fairly certain that the class itself is totally inappropriate for freshman Photo majors. In a pre-PHO382/199/282 era, I bet it's main purpose was to introduce Freshman/Sophomore photo majors to the idea of Photoshop, but between what we learned in my 382 class, and the fact that I've already worked through several incarnations of the Photoshop CIB during high school, the Photoshop part of the class was really easy.

I think the projects for Illustrator have been hellacious, unnecessary and completely out of line, as far as the actual skill set of someone meeting the prerequisites for this class are concerned, and a more appropriate tutorial, like something involving an actual comic, and something being an actual tutorial, would have been very much appreciated.

Purely for the purpose of making sure I know how to use Illustrator, I may this summer go back through the CIB on it, although as a result of my contempt for and disappointment with VC251, I may just trash all of my files related to the class and pack the books away somewhere.

I really am disappointed that this is how I end the semester... with such strong contempt for this class, but I feel cheated, having paid the tuition and lab fees for this class, when about 90% of the learning materials were a pair of $50 books from the vendor of the apps in question. The class itself was very poorly organized, so if the instructor did provide any information, I never found it until it was too late. That, and I've always thought the entire point of an online class was the ability to work at your own pace, and see everything coming up in advance. I don't even think this class had a syllabus, and if it did, there was no warning at all about the assignments coming up.

Don't take Online VC251. Trust me, and if you don't trust me, trust Brandy. If you have to take VC251, do everything in your power to take it in-person, even if it costs you more in supplies, or in printing.