This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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June 2005
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ZZZZaaap!

imageWhen Amy and I got home today, first thing we saw was that there were two big TV news vans parked right across from our house. One for Channel 13 (a local cable news station) and one for Fox 35 Orlando. The heart was thumping for a few moments wondering if something had happened to our house. But no, they had their tripods and such set up outside a house just about 75 feet down the street on the other side of the street.

A few minutes later while walking the dog I found out what had happened from one of our neighbors. And I checked the Tivo for the Channel 9 news we always have record automatically and indeed, the house across the street did indeed make the nightly news. (Channel 9 is affiliated with Channel 35). Had the reporters doing the stand up thing in front of that house and everything.

Anyway, here is what happened across the street from our house today:

Roofer Hospitalized After Lightning Strike In Brevard County

A roofer was hospitalize Wednesday because of a lightning strike in Brevard County. The man was in critical condition and was taken to Palm Bay Hospital with burns up and down his left side. He was later tranferred to Holmes Regional Medical Center.

When the rains started coming down Wednesday, authorities said the ten men working the roof of a home in Palm Bay originally sought shelter, but when they realized the rain might start leaking through the uncovered portions of the house, three roofers went back up to lay down tarps.

“The fourth person, the one that fell, went up to assist the three, and that’s when the lightning struck him in the process,” said Sgt. Jim Richmond, Palm Bay Police.

I gather it is yet to be determined if the man will pull through and make it. Good luck to him.

Book: The Mermaids Singing

imageAuthor: Val McDermid
Started: 14 Jun 2005
Finished: 25 Jun 2005
379p / 12d
32 p/d

Last year some time Brandy’s wishlist on the Tivo for “ancient”, which normally gets documentaries on ancient Rome and Egypt and such, got an episode of a series on BBC America called Wire in the Blood. It was a serial killer / murder mystery type thing. This episode happened to have a portion of it set in some ancient ruins. (As it turned out, it was the second episode of the second series.) We watched it. I liked it. Brandy loved it. She got hooked. Before long, we’d gotten caught up watching all the episodes. While waiting for the third series, at some point I discovered that the TV series was based on a series of novels. So I got Brandy all the novels. She devoured them in a matter of days.

Now, many months later, I decided to read the first of those novels. (Normally it would have gone to the end of my multi-year book pile, but not all of that pile has been found and unpacked, and I needed a fiction book.)

Anyway… I think this is the first book I have actually ever read in the mystery genre. I don’t know why, I’ve never felt any inclination to try that genre, and have actually felt a bit of an aversion for it.

I did like it though. The books have a bit of a different tone that the TV show… a bit darker and more explicit. But the TV show gets the tone of the relationships between the main characters right. It does get pretty graphic with some of the sexual violence that happens to the victims. (All men in this case.) More graphic than I probably needed, although I understand how having it in there contributes directly to the impact of what was going on. Without the detail, it would lose some of the punch.

But still. Ick! Did I really need to learn about pears? No, I probably would have been quite content to go through my entire life without reading about those. (Just one of many torture devices discussed and used in the book.)

Having said all that, I did enjoy the book, it kept me turning pages. 32 pages per day indicates it caught my attention enough so I would grab the book and read whenever I had a few moments, rather than forcing myself to read a bit every once in awhile or whatever.

I like the TV show. The book was different but still compelling. I’ll probably read some of the others.

Brandy says that for me to keep the book after I borrow it and read it, so it can go into my shelf of read books perminantly, I have to get her a new copy, but hardcover. Some of the hardcover versions are out of print. But I’ll get them if that is what it takes! The book must be on my shelf!! With a little library card in it! In order by when I read it!

Crooked Rainbow

image

OK, I’m not so good with the photo stitching software and setting the camera right for doing the panorama in the first place, so there are a couple odd effects, but hey, you get the idea. It was way too big to fit in one shot, so I had to take a bunch and do my best sticking them together. In real lif it was perfectly round like they are supposed to be, and the sky didn’t have odd angular variations in the light levels.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen this close to a whole 180 degrees of rainbow at one time, let alone of a double rainbow like this one. This was the view behind our house and to the right a little.

It was really pretty.

I’m glad Brandy yelled for me to come see.

Doin’ Just Fine

image

This picture is 3 days old now. The tadpoles are doing fine, and growing rapidly. Well… most of them are. Some of them are eating each other. The big ones kind of gang up on the smaller ones, and then, well, CHOMP. So we’ve lost a couple that way. From the sites I’ve been reading, this is fairly normal. As they get larger, they also start excreeting a chemical to inhibit growth in the others. Again, normal.

We still have probably a hundred or so though. Maybe more. Most seem to be thriving. It is just a handful that got slow and started getting eaten. Oops.

Friday Friday

As I promised on a comment over at Reb’s Place I will give an accounting of my day Friday. It was a boring day. not much happened. All times mentioned are of course UTC.

00:00 – 02:00 : Brandy had made dinner as usual, and we were eating it as the day began. I think it might have been chicken related. We ate and watched some Jeopardy. And the local news. Not live of course on either. We do have Tivo and all. The news was actually from just an hour or two previously. The Jeopardy we watched was about a month old. Somewhere in the middle of Jeopardy, Brandy’s phone rang, and we paused the TV. Amy had already been put to bed about half an hour earlier. Once Brandy was on the phone and the TV was paused, I was alseep within seconds.

02:00 – 10:00 : And then I was asleep. I woke up twice. One around 3 when I moved from the family room to the bedroom. And again around 7 when Princely woke me up to let me know he really wanted to go out.

10:00 – 11:30 : The alarm to actually wake up went off at 10. I usually hit snooze until 10:30 or 10:40 at this time of year, but this time I accidentally hit the off button instead, and the clock is broken, so I can’t actually reset the alarm to any time other than 10, so I had to actually get up. I was not pleased about that. But I began the morning process, which is basically watching some local news and some BBC news, making sure Brandy is up too (she usually actually gets out of bed first), and then stumbling out of bed to do all the usual normal things like using the bathroom, showering, getting dressed, and of course emailing myself a set of six or seven vital statistics taken on myself each morning for the purpose of later graphing. While I am doing all that, Brandy gets herself ready, makes sure Amy is started getting ready, and then leaves for work. Then I finish wrangling Amy into the car, and we head out.

11:30 – 12:00 : First stop is delivering Amy at summer day camp. She really likes camp. I’m not sure exactly what all they do, but they keep her busy and active, and happy… and those are good things.

12:00 – 12:30 : Work begins at 12 with a daily status meeting. My status today, I intend to work on some documentation I’ve been working on this week and get it finished. Otherwise, I have some meetings and such.

12:30 – 13:00 : Back to my desk after the meeting. I’m never quite ready to go full speed first thing in the morning. I am barely awake. So half an hour for coffee and making my daily check of websites. Some are related to the field of my work, some are not. But it serves the needed purpose of getting me to the point I can actually think.

13:00 – 14:00 : Second meeting of the day. It is actually about how our tech team will be packaging releases in the future. I am not a direct participant, I am there essentially as an FYI, so I keep my knowledge up on things like this.

14:00 – 14:30 : Back to my desk, I start getting the things together I need for the documentation I am supposed to be writing. I get up the application I am documenting. I get the part of the document I’d already finished. I set up a few things I need to do what I need to do.

14:30 – 16:00 : Then I realize some stats I have been trying to do weekly, I had started earlier in the week but not finished. I am trying to on a regular basis gather statistics on some things relevant to our business, and then issue reports on important changes, and start charting trends. So, I put aside the document I am trying to finish today, and instead do all the stats and put out my weekly report.

16:00 – 16:30 : Quick conference call with a client to discuss progress on how they want to proceed with a certain part of their project. I’m on this one as an FYI again.

16:30 – 17:30 : I was supposed to have lunch with someone from work, but at the last minute they got called into something else. So I went out to Atlanta Bread with a book, and read for a bit while I ate my sandwich.

17:30 – 19:30 : After lunch, this was the time to work on my document. And I kept getting started, but never made much progress. I was always getting distracted. I would make a little progress, then stall. The day before I had gotten on a role and written close to eight pages in one shot. This time I had trouble making headway into just a few paragraphs. I had promised that the document would be done and ready to distribute on Monday, so each minute I delayed, meant more work I was going to have over the weekend. Even so, progress was alusive.

19:30 – 20:30 : Then it was time for the weekly sales meeting. Toward the end I got to present some of the stuff I’d been working on earlier in the week with regard to strategies for identifying and dealing with some of our active clients in terms of retaining and upselling them. That was fun.

20:30 – 21:00 : By the time I got back to my desk after that meeting, the day was almost over. Normally, days where I work go until 22. But Amy’s camp closes at 22. That is the after care part of it too. And I am the one with Amy pick up duty most of the time. In no traffic, the drive from work to Amy’s camp would take 15 minutes or so. But at this time of day, there is a two block portion of the route that takes over 20 minutes by itself. Pushing the time to about 30 minutes on a good traffic day, and up to 45 when you are not lucky. So I try to leave work soon after 21, just to be sure I am never late for picking her up. Cause who knows what they do then. I am guessing that they probably chop up all the kids who haven’t been picked up and feed them to the alligators or something. So I must be on time.

21:00 – 22:00 : So, off to get Amy. I got her with about 10 minutes to spare before alligator feeding time, then we rushed home.

22:00 – 23:00 : I had rushed home because earlier in the day, Brandy had emailed to say that her company’s CEO would be on CNBC during the 22-23 hour. So I rushed home and got the Tivo recording. Then Brandy got home. We needed pool supplies, so after Brandy put some things in the oven to start cooking, we all got in the car and headed to the pool store. Which was closed. So we went home.

23:00 – 00:00 : While Brandy finished getting dinner ready, we put the recorded CNBC show (Cramer’s Mad Money) on the TV. Brandy thought he was a nut. He is. But I find him funny. Anyway, we watched the whole show, but Brandy’s CEO was not on it. Turns out he was on 24 hours earlier. The people at Brandy’s company just hadn’t set out the notice saying “everybody tune in tonight!” until everybody had gone home the day before. So everybody missed it. And thus, the day ended.

OK. There is my day. Rebecca had assumed my description of the day would very detailed include an exact timestamp of every time I went to the restroom over the course of the day. I regret to say that I let her down. I’ll have to do that some other time perhaps.

Workflow and RSS

An interesting idea:

Workflow Feeds with RSS and Atom
(Clint Combs)

Most people use RSS feeds for reading weblogs or downloading podcasts, but I’m experimenting with other uses. I’ve started integrating RSS feeds into a Java-based workflow application and the results look promising.

Since I rolled this out it’s had a big impact on how I use the system. Every morning I fire up RSSOwl and leave it running throughout the day. I’ve configured RSSOwl to poll the feed once an hour. Whenever it finds a new job note in the feed it alerts me and displays the new notes with bold headers. While it’s not an immediate sort of prompt (the system can also e-mail and page people) it does provide a great way to organize the ad-hoc data contained in the notes.

The reader shows every note and keeps track of the notes I have and haven’t read. If the note requires more attention I simply click on the link to the job and RSSOwl displays the OSCAR job in a browser window. This sort of interaction draws my immediate attention to notes and lets me forget about them as soon as I’m finished dealing with them. This is exactly the kind of user experience that a workflow solution should provide.

This little personal experiment has been a great success and I’m looking to roll it out to other users and see how they like it. The biggest task remaining is to get RSS readers into the hands of end users. While RSSOwl has worked fine for me, the developer, it’s probably not the best solution for enterprise office workers and print machine operators. I’m looking for a simpler solution.

(via CMS Watch)

Having worked on designing a couple systems that had workflow as a feature (and being in the middle of some workflow feature documentation right now) I can definately see where having workflow task listings distributed by RSS could be cool. Definately rpeferable to email. But as was mentioned in the article, the problem is most people don’t have RSS readers, and would be confused by them if they did.

Email notification is almost a non-starter. It is usally offered because people getting workflow systems insist that it has to be there. But almost always the requests to please turn that notification off start coming in almost immediately. So far the prefered solution has been a web based “to do list” that a user would check in on periodically. Even with that solution, RSS might be a good method of communicating the task lists on the back end from the system that generates them to the systems that shows the to do list.

But providing the task list as an RSS opens up a number of possibilities. Not just your standard reader, but also tickers and the like. Definately interesting possibilities.

The difficulty is just in productizing it without introducing the complexity of additional software to learn or install to non-tech users. Greg is considering a similar problem relating to get a potentially good Wiki based solution for sharing notes in an academic setting. As with a lot of these sorts of things, the technical aspects of the problem often end up being dwarfed by the cultural and social parts of the problem.

Book: Blue-Toungued Skinks

imageAuthor: Jerry Walls
Started: 30 May 2005
Finished: 14 Jun 2005
64 p / 16 d
4 p/d

The last skink book I read was just about skinks in general. This skink book is about the kind of skink Mike is. (Scroll down to see him on that link.) It still covers a veriety of sub-types of skink, but all in the same basic group as Mike.

Things I learned: Mike will need a bigger tank soon. The one we have right now is at about the lower limit given how he has been growing. He also would probably like it if we had his tank slightly hotter than we do. Where it is is OK, but he might not mind even warmer. By just a tad. Mike is very tame, and likes to be hand fed, but could probably use a bit more actual handling than we have been giving him lately (hey, we’ve been busy!) so as to further develop his personality.

The book also had a few things to say about breeding skinks, but I don’t think we will be going there.

Dalektible

imageNo… no… This can not be!! Let us hope they have taken the right precautions, or we are all doomed!!!

Dalek ‘kidnappers’ demand Doctor
(BBC News)

“Kidnappers” who stole a Dalek from a Somerset tourist attraction have sent its owners a ransom note – and the alien’s amputated plunger.

The 5ft model, believed to be an original from the cult BBC Dr Who series, was taken from Wookey Hole Caves near Wells on Monday.

On Thursday, staff found the plunger arm and a ransom note on a doorstep.

The note read: “We are holding the Dalek captive. We demand further instructions from the Doctor.”

The group, signing themselves Guardians of the Planet Earth, added: “For the safety of the human race we have disarmed and removed its destructive mechanism.”

(via Fark)

Otherwise Occupied

Wow! I have been checking the link to Greg Haverkamp’s havercamp.com site every couple of days for it seems like forever. He hadn’t updated it in a long long time though, so I didn’t check every day any more. Only those times when I had the time to actually check ALL of the sites on the left hand side of my homepage. Anyway, today I check, and Greg has gone and bloggified his site! Maybe I’ll have to check more often! It is now called Otherwise Occupied.

Here is a sample:

I know how she felt. Sort of.

I can’t claim to have been hopped up during finals, other than on cold medicine (which I do not recommend as a study aid.) However, I did find myself excessively annoyed by a guy who, while I was trying to get some reading done in some of the easy chairs, plopped his crap down and pulled a pastry out of his bag.

Of course, at least the top part of my blogroll is defined by who sends me the most email. I am sticll counting October 2004 email, so that hasn’t been updated in awhile though. I suspect that when it does get updated, Greg will fall off that list. If he is good enough though, I may put him in that second list. We shall see!

Angry Saturn

About half an hour ago, I was in my office happily working on a document for work. Suddenly, I head something like a car alarm. Right outside. After about a minute, I decided to go investigate. It was not a car alarm. It was the horn of MY car. My car does not have an alarm. The horn was on like someone was leaning on it. Nobody was.

So I tried turning on the car. No change. I tried honking the car. No change.

I started running around trying to find the fusebox to pull a fuse. Nothing was labeled. I tried to find the wire going into the horn to see if it was easy to pull out. It was not.

The car kept screaming out in anger for about 20 minutes. Slowly decreasing in volume.

Just as I had AAA on the phone to send a truck out to make my damn horn shut up, it stopped.

The horn now does not work at all.

The rest of the car still seems to be working fine though. Well, at least as fine as it was yesterday. It is an old car and shows it these days.

Poor Saturn.