Archives: October 2007

Wed 31 Oct 2007

Walking Cans of Spam

I get to work today, and there are tons of people in costume.

I have become scared of my coworkers.

Abulsme - Wed, 31 Oct 2007, 13:28:33 PDT
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Tue 30 Oct 2007

Bye Bye Stan

Merrill Begins C.E.O. Search
(Landon Thomas Jr, New York Times)

E. Stanley O’Neal, the embattled chairman and chief executive of Merrill Lynch, stepped down from the brokerage firm today, capping a tumultuous 10 days that included a significant quarterly loss and write-down.


“We would like to thank Stan for the contribution he has made leading a major transformation of Merrill Lynch into a global and diversified company with enormous potential ahead of it,” Mr. Cribiore said in the statement. “His commitment to the company, its clients, shareholders and employees has never wavered and the company will reap tremendous benefits in the future from his work.”
(via Consumerist)

Abulsme - Tue, 30 Oct 2007, 20:52:48 PDT
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One Year Ago

It has been one year since we lost Zuri. I still miss her so very much.

Abulsme - Tue, 30 Oct 2007, 02:00:47 PDT
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Curmudgeon's Corner: Waterboarding a Leopard

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Apple Stores
  • iPods
  • Mac OS X Leopard
  • Edwards on Patriotism
  • Guiliani on Waterboarding
  • Frontline on Iran
  • The Onion on GW Bush Inauguration
  • The Clinton and GHW Bush Administrations
  • GWB in 2000 vs GWB in Office
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Abulsme - Tue, 30 Oct 2007, 01:43:09 PDT
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Mon 29 Oct 2007

CC Delayed Again

Curmudgeon's Corner was indeed recorded Sunday morning, but after that, I did my Leopard upgrade, and as is typical with my luck, it did not go as smoothly as for some others. First I did one final backup of everything which took several hours. Then the installer detected a disk error after chugging away for a long long time (a couple of hours) while it was making sure my disk was ready to receive the update. That was followed by many hours of letting the computer chug and do disk repairs several times over again until it was finally happy. Then the install itself (which once it finally started worked pretty well). Then me figuring out that I needed to recreate my crons and that the upgraded apache kepts its prefs in a new place and a different way so I had to fight with that for awhile to get everything running again. And of course me playing with all the new stuff and adjusting settings and such. And then installing the various optional bits. Etc.

Anyway, it is now time for me to head to work, so getting the podcast out the door will have to wait until I get home from work. Sorry Ivan, and any others waiting for it. I'll get it out tonight.

Abulsme - Mon, 29 Oct 2007, 09:46:47 PDT
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Sat 27 Oct 2007

Election Prep: WA Referendum Measure 67

The text on the ballot:

The legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5726 (ESSB 5726) concerning insurance fair conduct related to claims for coverage or benefits and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill.

This bill would make it unlawful for insurers to unreasonably deny certain coverage claims, and permit treble damages plus attorney fees for that and other violations. Some health insurance carriers would be exempt.
Of course I also read the explanatory and pro/con statements and the full text.

On this one it seems the main effect is to allow for punitive damages and legal fees to be rewarded in cases where Insurance companies are being sued for denying claims. It would also somewhat expand the cases where such a suit was possible. The courts would of course retain the ability to decide on the merits of the cases and the exact penalties imposed, it just gives some wider latitude.

The counter case is that this will lead to lots of frivolous lawsuits etc and it is actually all just about giving trial lawyers more opportunity to make money.

I am OK with this balance. I'm going to vote "Approved" on this one.

Abulsme - Sat, 27 Oct 2007, 19:41:46 PDT
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My RSS Readers

Just looking at my logs for Friday it looks like I have:

  • 5 subscribers on Bloglines
  • 4 subscribers on Google Reader
  • 2 subscribers on Newsgator
  • 2 subscribers checking with Safari
There were a few more too that looked like they might possibly be real people, but I think it was more likely they were robots, so I ignored them. But in any case, at least 13 people subscribed via RSS. Kinda cool. Of course subscribers ≠ readers. Just like the 80-90 website visitors I get on an average day are not mostly actually regular readers of this blog, but rather are mostly people who stumble on old archived things via random searches. But the RSS reader to subscriber ratio is probably a bit higher than the visits ratio I would imagine. In any case, kinda interesting.

Abulsme - Sat, 27 Oct 2007, 17:07:24 PDT
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Election Prep: WA Initiative Measure 960

I thought I had registered too late for this election, but I got my absentee ballot in the mail a few days ago, so I guess I'm golden. This election is all state and local, so I pretty much know nothing about any of the issues or the people. So I need to educate myself. As I did for the last election I voted in (2004 in Melbourne, FL) I'll post about each of the items as I decide how I am going to vote.

The first item on the ballot is Initiative 960. The summary text on the ballot itself is:

Initiative Measure No. 960 concerns tax and fee increases imposed by state government.

This measure would require two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval for tax increases, legislative approval of fee increases, certain published information on tax-increasing bills, and advisory votes on taxes enacted without voter approval.
But of course the summaries are not a good way to make a decision. I glanced over the pro/con statements in the voter info packet, but then went to the full text and spent 30 minutes or so reading it.

I started out with a fairly positive feeling about it. All about disclosure and making sure all proposed tax laws have the potential effects analyzed and published, etc. Good stuff in general I guess. Something that one would expect to be part of a reasoned process anyway. And I'm all for the requiring a 2/3 majority for tax increases. And for tightening some loopholes that were used to avoid this in the past. I'm not so sure about the ability to sometimes submit the tax increase proposals directly to a popular vote. I'm not sure that is really how such things should be done. But I was still in favor at that point in general. The ability to refer a tax increase to referendum is already current law. Right now that is optional.

But then they killed it by in cases where through one of several methods a tax increase happened WITHOUT a public vote an "advisory vote" would be required. That would be a vote to gauge the opinion of the people but which would be non-binding. If this requirement had been for a binding vote to determine if the increase stayed or went, I might have still been good. (Although I think I would still be on the edge.)

But non-binding votes are stupid and should just not happen. There are better ways to gauge public opinion. It is called a poll. There are better ways to raise awareness as well, which I think is the only real purpose of this section. Things which are put up on a ballot in a public election should always be binding, otherwise they are a huge waste of time.

I think this is also true of votes in legislatures. Every time they pass a "non-binding resolution" or "Sense of the Senate" or whatnot they are just showing their uselessness. Whatever though.


There is still a balance here though. Yes, it adds the insanely stupid advisory votes... why not just make the referendums mandatory instead of optional if you really always want a vote... and make it binding... such that you need the 2/3 majority in both houses AND a majority referendum (or maybe even 2/3 there too) rather than just an "OR". But on the other hand, it does add some additional transparency and close some loopholes that let tax increases happen without the 2/3 vote.

Grrr. Unfortunately most legislation is like this (and ballot initiatives I guess). Bundling things that make sense with things that are crap. The trap is if you vote for the good, you get the bad too.

I don't think I am going to do that. Give me the same thing without the stupid advisory votes and I'll consider it. In the mean time, I am voting "No".

Abulsme - Sat, 27 Oct 2007, 15:35:37 PDT
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Fri 26 Oct 2007

Annoying Blogspammers

When I started having issues with bloggspammers on this blog away back when, I started requiring registration to comment. Registration with email confirmation. That pretty much seemed to do the trick for a long time. But earlier this week there was a new registration, confirmed by email, and they started adding spam to a bunch of posts. I caught it within 15 minutes, deleted the account and deleted the spam comments. Then the same guy (or robot, or whatever) registered under a slightly different email a few minutes later and I just blocked the IP it was coming from. Since then nothing more.

Annoying though. This was the first one that has bothered to register with the email confirm though. If I start getting more I'll have to add a capcha or something. But I hate those things. So I hope it won't become needed, but it probably will.

Of course, if it wasn't a robot but was actually a human, that won't help. But hopefully the volume actual humans could do would be small enough I could handle it by hand.

Abulsme - Fri, 26 Oct 2007, 19:35:55 PDT
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Thu 25 Oct 2007

Extra Kidney Stone TMI - Just for Greg

Abulsme - Thu, 25 Oct 2007, 17:46:18 PDT
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Feeling Today

Oh, for anybody who was wondering, yesterday I did actually go to work, although a slightly shorter day than normal. I was still uncomfortable, but no longer in pain. Managed to get through what I needed to do.

In the evening, still uncomfortable. Headed to bed early. Slept a bunch. But MUCH better than the previous day.

This morning... about the same. I think I passed something though. Which is good.

In any case, still not happy, but much better than the time right before I posted on Wednesday.

Just continuing the TMI. Greg can thank me that once again I am not posting relevant pictures.

Abulsme - Thu, 25 Oct 2007, 09:26:06 PDT
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Wed 24 Oct 2007

Probably the Stones Again

Sunday night a lot of people were running their fireplaces, so my allergies were pretty bad and I got almost no sleep. I dragged myself into work anyway. The breathing stuff was pretty much better by noontime, but very soon after that a familiar discomfort started building in my abdomen. There is no way to tell for sure just on the symptoms... but the symptoms matched almost exactly what I have felt every time over the past few years when I have been about to pass a kidney stone.

As the afternoon progressed Monday I was increasingly uncomfortable. I thought about leaving early a few times, but ended up putting in a whole day, although I must admit, as the discomfort increased, my productivity declined proportionately. In the evening at home, my discomfort stayed pretty constant for the rest of the night.

Tuesday morning I did a conference call from home first, then headed in to work thinking things weren't that bad. But during the drive to work it got worse and worse, and I knew as soon as I got there that I would need to turn around and go home. After a couple of quick meetings, I headed home. I managed to do some amount of work from home as long as I stayed in very close proximity to a bathroom at all times.

At about 0 UTC today though, the discomfort spiked into pain... something I had been pretty much been expecting since the initial discomfort on Monday, but had been hoping would not happen. I took a Percocet clone I have around for exactly this reason, and almost immediately I started feeling better, and I did one last conference call with work that lasted about an hour. I had expected that the pill would knock me out and I would sleep the rest of the night. Instead, by the time I got off the call I was feeling no pain at all and was hyperactive. I ended up going downstairs and swaping out a bad head unit on our entertainment system and generally rearranging the room and such.

That lasted until about 5 UTC, then I started feeling uncomfortable again, but I fell asleep. I woke up around 8 UTC. The discomfort slowly started morphing back into pain. About 8:45 UTC it was bad enough that I took another pill. But it just kept getting worse. 20 minutes later, I was about to wake up Brandy to consider the possibility of heading to the ER if the pain meds didn't kick in soon. At this point it was pretty bad. I was in the curled up in a ball on the floor swearing at the world phase.

I was just starting to feel like the pain killers might have been slightly working when all of a sudden I wasn't able to keep the pill down. This worried me a lot, because I've only ever had to go to the ER for stones twice... once was the very first time, when I had no idea what was going on, and no pain killers to help deal with it... the second was when I couldn't keep the pain killers down and had to go in so I could get pain killers in a shot instead of in a pill.

At this point Brandy had woken up. I ended up waiting about 10 minutes, then taking another pill, hoping this time I could keep it down. Between whatever part of the first pill had actually stayed in my stomach and the second pill, 20 minutes later I was no longer doing the writhing and swearing thing.

Now, as I write this, it is still pain, not down to just discomfort levels, and I'm not quite at the point where I can sleep. But I think (hope) it might be getting close. I suppose a third pain pill might be possible, but I'm not sure it would be wise. I prefer to take as few of these as possible. (And my supply isn't all that large anyway.)

This really sucks. I hope this one passes quickly. The last set of tests I had (over the summer) showed all the stones that were sitting in my kidneys ready to drop were still of the size where the indication was take pain killers and pass them rather than lithotripsy or surgery. But the biggest one was getting close to the limit. (I believe they said it was 8mm in diameter... which seems pretty freakin huge to me and would be about double the biggest one I've passed previously, but they hoped it would break up into smaller ones on its own.)

So I imagine if this thing doesn't pass on its own soon... and/or the pain killers stop being enough for me to get by... that a trip to the doctor and/or emergency room may be in my future.

Of course, all this is assuming that because all the symptoms match the other times this has happened to me (which started out being once every couple of years, but is now a couple of times per year) that this is indeed another kidney stone. If it is something else... well, who knows.

As for work tomorrow... I'm gunna try. We have a going away lunch for one of my employees who is leaving for a start up, and it would suck to miss that. Plus a couple of other meetings going on. But if I'm feeling like I do right now, even hopped up on Percocet, I'm thinking that might be unlikely. But I guess we'll see how I feel in the morning... well, in about 4 or 5 hours when I should be waking up.

No idea at this point if I'll actually sleep between now and then.

Well, there ya all go. TMI in the extreme I am sure. But at least this time I didn't post any pictures... yet. :-)

Abulsme - Wed, 24 Oct 2007, 02:29:42 PDT
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Mon 22 Oct 2007

DVD: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

This last weekend was Amy's turn to pick the movie. Brandy declined to join us, but Amy and I watched the Wallace and Gromit movie.

I'd always generally liked the claymation thing. Hadn't really watched much Wallace and Gromit though. But I was very quickly laughing. It was enjoyable light hearted humor. I particularly liked the rabbits floating in the suction tank thing and such. BUt Amy and I both laughed quite a bit at various points in the movie. It was a good choice by Amy. It was worth the watching.

I'm not much on rewatching things I've seen before, so I probably wouldn't watch it again. But if a new W&G movie came out, I'd definitely watch it. It was fun.

Abulsme - Mon, 22 Oct 2007, 19:47:40 PDT
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Frontline on Cheney

Just got to the Frontline episode from last Tuesday on my Tivo. As usual for Frontline, it was very well done. Basically a summary of Cheney's efforts over the years to strengthen Presidential authority and reduce or eliminate the ability of congress and the courts to restrict that power. There wasn't much here that I didn't already know, but it put it all together in a very compelling package.

I listen to some of the things said by Cheney and the various people surrounding him, and I am just dumbfounded. It is so 100% contrary to what seem like basic values like the rule of law, constitutional government, checks and balances, human rights, etc... These are very scary people with very scary ideas about what good government looks like.

I fear though that much of the damage they have done will not be undone, even after a change of administration in 2009. Even if that administration is of a different party. While Rudy would probably even try to one up what Bush and Cheney have done, I don't frankly see Hillary flat out rejecting the powers claimed by this administration. No, she will just use them in different ways, not necessarily better ways.


In any case, it is well worth watching. The whole thing is available to watch on the Frontline website for Cheney's Law if for some reason you forgot to Tivo it.

Abulsme - Mon, 22 Oct 2007, 00:32:24 PDT
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Sun 21 Oct 2007

Mother's Tornado

My mom had quite a close call with a tornado last Thursday. I just got my mom's permission to post the emails she sent on Friday describing it.

tornado hit
(Ruth Brandon, 2007 Oct 19 02:48:47 UTC)

I write from Owensboro, Ky (a five hour drive west of Cincinnati this morning) where Steve Hecky, UCC pastor in Newport, KY, and I are attending the Kentucky Council of Churches. It has been quite a day. Owensboro has been hit all afternoon and evening by huge thunderstorms with flooding and tornados and high winds. Third Baptist Church where we were meeting twice had us to evacuate to the basement and this evening within five minutes of us reaching the basement the church was apparently slightly hit - We all felt the change in air pressure in our ears, heard the "sound of a freight train" overhead, power went out and we sang hymns until we were allowed upstairs. Cell phones and computers lighted the way!

We had sat in the sanctuary too long as the tornado warning sirens wailed - the preacher (president of the National Council of Churches in the USA) had just begun - but finally he was interrupted and everybody made it okay. Apparently a wall in the balcony of the sanctuary where we were worshipping was caved in - when we emerged the smell and cloud of cement dust was noticeable - they herded us outside where firefighters were coming in and it was pouring rain. One car was upside down and at least one other shoved out of location and damaged and debris was in the parking lot. My car - 25 or so feet from the upside down one - and most of the cars - were okay. We saw bricks in the street as we left that seemed to come from Zion UCC next door - will have to check Friday morning when there is light. Steve thought it was from Zion's tower or steeple. We drove through miles of dark streets to our rooms at the Hampton Inn which was barely into the zone further south where there is still power - Power is out less than a quarter mile north but here all is well.

This evening when we headed toward the church from a restaurant, we drove through major flooding - the police closed that zone as soon as we - the last car - came through. We were fortunate not to stall out - it was very deep for about six blocks - clearly the storm drains were way beyond capacity. Hours later the floods are subsiding as the drains clear.

How is the meeting? - very fine workshops and speakers - The Rev. Michael Kinnamon was the keynoter and leader of two workshops - but at this point it is unclear whether we will be able to continue tomorrow and finish. The dangerous storms are said to now be over but ...
About 21 hours later, she emailed again with an update, and pictures:

2 great iPhotos
(Ruth Brandon, 2007 Oct 19 23:50:52 UTC)
Sam - with daylight today - I am aware that I was within five minutes of death yesterday! This is the damaged sanctuary where we were worshipping plus a photo from outside - I and half a dozen others were seated exactly under this heap of debris where the balcony and tower landed - we would not have survived. We left only five minutes before the tornado hit. I am thankful today to be alive!

inside 3rd Bapt sanctuary after tornado

tornado damage - 3rd Bapt Owensboro, KY

All I can say is wow. And I am very glad she is OK.

Abulsme - Sun, 21 Oct 2007, 22:43:56 PDT
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Curmudgeon's Corner: Friends in Blackwater

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Blackwater in Iraq
  • Checks and Balances
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Abulsme - Sun, 21 Oct 2007, 21:15:43 PDT
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Playing with Indention

Hello this is a paragraph of text to play with margins. Well, that was just a sentence, but here is another sentence. But perhaps a third sentence would be good. And maybe even a fourth. Is that enough to go a few lines. I want this to go a few lines. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is not. So I'll just repeat the whole thing to be sure. Well, except this last part, which won't be last any more. Hello this is a paragraph of text to play with margins. Well, that was just a sentence, but here is another sentence. But perhaps a third sentence would be good. And maybe even a fourth. Is that enough to go a few lines. I want this to go a few lines. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is not.

Hello this is a paragraph of text to play with margins. Well, that was just a sentence, but here is another sentence. But perhaps a third sentence would be good. And maybe even a fourth. Is that enough to go a few lines. I want this to go a few lines. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is not. So I'll just repeat the whole thing to be sure. Well, except this last part, which won't be last any more. Hello this is a paragraph of text to play with margins. Well, that was just a sentence, but here is another sentence. But perhaps a third sentence would be good. And maybe even a fourth. Is that enough to go a few lines. I want this to go a few lines. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is not.

Hello this is a paragraph of text to play with margins. Well, that was just a sentence, but here is another sentence. But perhaps a third sentence would be good. And maybe even a fourth. Is that enough to go a few lines. I want this to go a few lines. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is not. So I'll just repeat the whole thing to be sure. Well, except this last part, which won't be last any more. Hello this is a paragraph of text to play with margins. Well, that was just a sentence, but here is another sentence. But perhaps a third sentence would be good. And maybe even a fourth. Is that enough to go a few lines. I want this to go a few lines. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is not.

Hello this is a paragraph of text to play with margins. Well, that was just a sentence, but here is another sentence. But perhaps a third sentence would be good. And maybe even a fourth. Is that enough to go a few lines. I want this to go a few lines. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is not. So I'll just repeat the whole thing to be sure. Well, except this last part, which won't be last any more. Hello this is a paragraph of text to play with margins. Well, that was just a sentence, but here is another sentence. But perhaps a third sentence would be good. And maybe even a fourth. Is that enough to go a few lines. I want this to go a few lines. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is not.

Hello this is a paragraph of text to play with margins. Well, that was just a sentence, but here is another sentence. But perhaps a third sentence would be good. And maybe even a fourth. Is that enough to go a few lines. I want this to go a few lines. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is not. So I'll just repeat the whole thing to be sure. Well, except this last part, which won't be last any more. Hello this is a paragraph of text to play with margins. Well, that was just a sentence, but here is another sentence. But perhaps a third sentence would be good. And maybe even a fourth. Is that enough to go a few lines. I want this to go a few lines. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is not.

Abulsme - Sun, 21 Oct 2007, 19:20:37 PDT
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AbulWiki is Back

I gave up on the blank screen on EC2 after plodding through some things for a bit, figuring that most likely it was a difference in configuration between the system there and my main system. I reinstalled mysql to a fresh directory on Cronus, then after "zapping gremlins" from the backup file was able to restore the database. I then had to go in and add permissions back to the relevant database user by hand. But then boom AbulWiki was back in business.


Perhaps I'll still spend a little more time trying to get it to run on the EC2 instance. Or perhaps not. If I don't by the end of this weekend I'll just kill the instance. But it was a fun exercise anyway.

I'm also going to make a couple updates to how I do the daily mysql dump of the wiki. Namely, make it save the backups indefinitely with date based names rather than only keeping the last two days worth.

I think I'll go set that up right now.

But WOO! I got it back. And seemingly with no data loss, which is always a good thing.

So now I can hear Brandy say "I told you so". :-)

Abulsme - Sun, 21 Oct 2007, 00:52:33 PDT
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Sat 20 Oct 2007


According to my calculations, Amy will be exactly 12 years old at 03:21 UTC today. That's 4382.90639 days old. That moment is just over an hour from the moment I am posting this. Woo. Go Amy! Woo Woo!

And now we're going to dinner out at one of the places she likes to eat along with one of her friends from school.

So off I go...

Abulsme - Sat, 20 Oct 2007, 19:14:30 PDT
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Using EC2

I was going to use my old laptop Zeus, but instead I'm trying to get the wiki back up and running on EC2. I got the signed up. Got the EC2 instance up and running with an image pre-populated with apache, mysql and php. I transfered over all my wiki files, and the last mysql dump I had. I restored from the dump. At first it gave some db errors because there was one place where the host location was hardcoded. Then I changed that and also the user grants in the db to get around that.

Now I have no db errors, but a blank white screen.

More debugging to go.

If I get it all up and running, I won't KEEP running it at EC2 for a variety of reasons. It will just give me the confidence to wipe my current setup on Cronus and rebuild there. But EC2 is proving to be a handy quick way to get another "machine" up and running to try some things out on.

With the data transfer and everything, and me having run the instance overnight while I slept too, so far it has cost me $2.38 to have this EC2 instance up and running.

Abulsme - Sat, 20 Oct 2007, 16:28:55 PDT
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Fri 19 Oct 2007

AbulWiki Down

On Wednesday something screwed up my mysql database that I have AbulWiki on. I didn't notice until this morning though. By that time my daily backups had run twice, so I didn't have a last good version. To say the least, I freaked out a little bit.

I've spent the last couple hours on it and I was able to start up mysql in a safe mode and do a data dump and I don't think I've lost any data after all. Which is good. Very good. I also found a data dump I'd done ten days ago in another place. Also good. But what is bad is that I still can't get mysql to start except in the read only safe mode. Which means I can't make the wiki actually run of course.

According to the errors in the logs, the issue is a corruption in one of the InnoDB tables. The start up in innodb_force_recovery mode lets me do a mysqldump and get everything. And it looks like there is no actual data loss. But then it looks like the next step is supposed to be to drop the tables that are causing errors on start up, and then restore from your backup. But whenever I try to drop tables, mysql crashes and restarts and the tables are still there.

After running in circles, I'm starting to think I just want to wipe out mysql and reinstall from scratch, then restore my (hopefully) good dumps. The mysql dump I just did in safe mode is refusing to be read by MySQL Administrator due to character set issues. Hmmm.... The one from 10 days ago can be read. As can a backup I did using the Admin tool instead of doing mysqldump on the command line. Actually, both of those were done with the Admin tool rather than mysqldump. Sigh. In either case though, I can't do jack until I can get mysql to start in regular mode rather than innodb_force_recovery mode.

And I am late to work. I need to go do work stuff now rather than bang my head on this.

But it seems clear what I'll be doing tonight when I get home.

Fighting with mysql and hoping that these data dumps I've done are really usable and I haven't lost anything (or at least not much). Looking at the mysqldump ones (which are human readable even if the GUI restore tool isn't happy with them) they look OK, but...



Not happy Sam this morning.

Gotta go to work.

Abulsme - Fri, 19 Oct 2007, 10:39:41 PDT
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Thu 18 Oct 2007


There is a wind storm tonight in Seattle. The news was all about how they were going to close the bridges over Lake Washington because of the high winds. They were also talking about power outages.

Brandy was in a gas station earlier and overheard some Department of Transportation folks talking about how they were likely to do it "soon". So I left work a little early so I'd be on the right side of the lake if that happened.

Traffic sucked a little more than usual heading home, but the bridge was open, and I got home, then worked from home for a bit.

The winds are dying down now. We didn't lose power. And I don't think they ever ended up actually closing the bridges.

Oh well.

Abulsme - Thu, 18 Oct 2007, 19:24:16 PDT
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Green Circle

Abulsme - Thu, 18 Oct 2007, 10:55:47 PDT
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Wed 17 Oct 2007

Somebody got the Message

Guess they had generated enough bad press they decided a change in direction was in order.

Third Party Applications on the iPhone
(Steve Jobs, Apple Hot News)

Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February. We are excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users. With our revolutionary multi-touch interface, powerful hardware and advanced software architecture, we believe we have created the best mobile platform ever for developers.

It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc. This is no easy task.
(via TUAW)

Abulsme - Wed, 17 Oct 2007, 09:32:13 PDT
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Tue 16 Oct 2007

They Just Find Us

As we were driving home from an event at Amy's school and approaching home Amy suddenly yelled "Dog!". There was a dog darting around on the street near the local grocery store. We hadn't seen it yet, only Amy had. But we stopped and Amy jumped out of the car. A few minutes later she had caught the loose dog (who was quite friendly). It had a tag. It was named "Nicky". The tag had phone numbers. But all of our cell phones were dead. (Yeah, we need to be better at plugging them in to charge.) So Brandy called from a cell phone, but only got voice mail.

So Nicky came home for a little bit. Roscoe stayed down stairs and was not happy about this development at all. Almost as soon as we got the phones plugged in, the owner called us. A few minutes later they met us at the corner near our house and took Nicky back. Appearantly Nicky had wandered a little further from home than usual, but they often just let Nicky out to just wander around the neighborhood on his own. I'm not sure that is all that wise ever, let alone for a black dog at night who apperantly doesn't mind running back and forth across streets with a decent amount of traffic.

But in any case, at least this time Nicky is home safe.

And we only had an extra dog for a few minutes.

Abulsme - Tue, 16 Oct 2007, 22:44:53 PDT
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Mon 15 Oct 2007

Paul Rising (To #6)

Charts: Swapping Gingrich for Paul
(Mark Blumenthal,

While it may have gone unnoticed by all but our most devoted readers, we made a small change earlier today to the charts that display results for Republican presidential candidates nationally and in each of the early primary states: We dropped the trend line for Newt Gingrich and added a trend line for Ron Paul.

Newt Gingrich has finally made it clear he will not be a candidate, and so the many pollsters that had included his name on trial heats will now stop. Meanwhile, Ron Paul's support in New Hampshire now increased to 3.8% on our trend estimate, within a whisper of Mike Huckabee (at 4.2%).
I noticed yesterday when I checked the charts shortly after getting up in the morning. I have been checking the detail charts that show all of the candidates individually to keep up with Ron Paul. This will be much more convenient.

Ron Paul trends of note at the moment in the early states:
  • Nationally, pretty flat.
  • Rising rapidly in Iowa, but he'd still have to almost double his support to overcome McCain for 5th... or McCain just has to keep falling
  • Rising slowly in New Hampshire and Michigan, but neck in neck for 5th place with Huckabee in both
  • South Carolina, Florida: rising slowly, but has a little way to go to catch #5
  • Nevada, California, New York: Nowhere
OK, now we all know Ron Paul isn't going to suddenly rise up and be an actual contender for the nomination. But his trends in most of the early states are upward, in some cases fairly rapidly upward. If he starts breaking the 5% mark in a bunch of these states, he is going to be a major pain in the ass for the 4 or five candidates above him in the polls.

Abulsme - Mon, 15 Oct 2007, 21:54:24 PDT
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Sun 14 Oct 2007

Cumudgeon's Corner: We Didn't Notice It Was #20

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • The Record Industry, Madonna and Radiohead
  • Al Gore and the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Global Warming
  • Options in Iraq
Podcast XML Feed

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Abulsme - Sun, 14 Oct 2007, 22:27:51 PDT
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From the Back

Abulsme - Sun, 14 Oct 2007, 14:02:42 PDT
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Sat 13 Oct 2007


Abulsme - Sat, 13 Oct 2007, 13:10:27 PDT
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Fri 12 Oct 2007

That's Some Coffee

Most mornings when I get to work one of the first things I do is stop at the little coffee shop thing on the first floor for a 20oz White Chocolate Mocha. Today was not an exception. I usually pay by scanning my id card, which just automatically deducts the amount from my next paycheck.

Today as I was about to scan the card, the woman who makes the coffee put her hand out and stopped me as an alarmed noise came out of her mouth. I looked up. She had rung up my coffee and the amount had come up as $18344.20.

I am glad she stopped me from having that automatically deducted from my pay in exchange for a coffee. That would have been a slightly expensive drink.

She fixed it, I scanned my card, took my coffee and went on my way. And now it is time for work.

Abulsme - Fri, 12 Oct 2007, 10:52:41 PDT
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Wed 10 Oct 2007


Don't you hate it when you spill coffee on your keyboard and a bunch of the keys get all sticky and hard to push?

Don't you hate it more when you do that to two separate keyboards within the space of a week?

Yeah, that sucks.

Abulsme - Wed, 10 Oct 2007, 19:43:24 PDT
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Tue 09 Oct 2007

This Year's Pic

Abulsme - Tue, 9 Oct 2007, 20:24:55 PDT
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Mon 08 Oct 2007

That Didn't Take Long

OK, now I want one again.

Third Party Apps ported to iPhone 1.1.1
(Erica Sadun, TUAW)

This morning, we were having a lot of trouble getting third-party iPhone apps to show up properly and run on the home screen. Despite the fact that Apple has added extra protections to SpringBoard and created a list of approved identifiers, iPhone hacker asap18 has managed to port several applications to the iPhone and gotten them to appear properly on the home screen. For now, only 15 icons can be added this way--the last spot appears to be reserved for iTunes. The apps have been tested and are working fine.
I'll still wait until next year though. :-)

Abulsme - Mon, 8 Oct 2007, 20:30:34 PDT
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Sun 07 Oct 2007

DVD: Wait Until Dark

It was Brandy's turn yet again to choose a DVD this weekend. This time her movie was "Wait Until Dark" a 1967 Audrey Hepburn movie. I'd seen this once before on television a number of years ago and had enjoyed it then. It is a little less suspenseful on second viewing, even years later. But it is still a good movie.

Brandy kept laughing at the overacting that is typical of a lot of movies of that era. But I didn't mind too much. It was interesting to see Audrey Hepburn in a role a bit different than what she played in many of her earlier movies. And the gimmick of the last 15 minutes or so of the movie is pretty cool, although it must have been much cooler when it was originally done in a darkened theater and all.

In any case, good suspenseful movie and such. But I think like many movies that rely on suspense and you not quite fully knowing the situation, it is best on the first viewing, and loses something on repeat views.

Abulsme - Sun, 7 Oct 2007, 17:35:06 PDT
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Curmudgeon's Corner: Blackberries, iPhones and Tivos, Oh My!

Sam and Ivan Talk about:

  • Third Party Blackberry Apps
  • The state of the iPhone
  • Minneapolis file sharing case
  • Recoding Industry Business Models
  • DirecTV and Tivo
  • Cable Company Quality
  • Why video quality doesn't matter to Sam
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Abulsme - Sun, 7 Oct 2007, 13:32:25 PDT
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Sat 06 Oct 2007

Building Wedge

Abulsme - Sat, 6 Oct 2007, 17:47:38 PDT
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Fri 05 Oct 2007

20 Debates

As of a few minutes ago I am completely caught up on watching all of the presidential debates of this election season so far. The first debate was on April 26th. The most recent was on September 27th. In that time there have been 13 Democratic debates and 7 Republican debates. And I have watched them all. (Even the one in Spanish where I couldn't understand very much, but I still watched the whole thing!)

6 more Democratic debates and 8 more Republican debates to go. (Assuming the current schedule holds.) Whew. That is a bunch.

I must say, they do get a bit repetitive. But there are usually a couple good moments in each one.

At the moment, if I had to pick a Democrat I think it would be Joe Biden. If I had to pick a Republican it would be Ron Paul. Of the whole field Ron Paul is still my #1 choice. I just mailed in my voter registration a couple of days ago. In Washington you don't need to declare a party, but if nothing changes between now and then I'll vote in the Republican primary so I can vote for Ron Paul. It will be my first time ever voting in a Primary. (Generally I've considered that I am not a Republican or Democrat and therefore it is none of my business who the parties nominate, and that my decision comes in the general election, but I'll make an exception for Mr. Paul.)

Of course, by the time we get to the Washington Primary (February 19th) the nominations in both parties may well both be wrapped up. 32 states will have already had their primaries or caucuses, including most of the big ones. But it isn't like Ron is going to win anyway. (Although he has been showing an upward trend in polls in the early states and may even manage to squeak out a double digit showing in some of the primaries before all is said and done... we shall see.)

I'm still hoping though that the strategy of front loading all the primaries to get an early winner backfires if there are several strong contenders who manage to make it through all the early states, bringing us out of super-duper Tuesday (February 5th) without a clear winner in one or both parties. That would be awesome fun.

I really want to see a candidate actually decided by the conventions sometime. That hasn't happened since 1976 (when I was five years old), but I think it really is time for it to happen again.

If we get a 3rd or 4th party candidate who is semi-competitive on top of that it would just make my 2008. We shall see. :-)

Oh well. Next debate is Wednesday at 01:00 UTC on MSNBC. Republicans this time. Time to check that the Tivo has it scheduled.

Abulsme - Fri, 5 Oct 2007, 22:34:51 PDT
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Snakes and Anchor

Abulsme - Fri, 5 Oct 2007, 18:49:59 PDT
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Thu 04 Oct 2007

From the 19th

Abulsme - Thu, 4 Oct 2007, 19:50:53 PDT
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Wed 03 Oct 2007

Nothing Much

I'm having trouble thinking what I should say tonight. Work is busy of late. Lots going on. At home we had a breakfast for parents of 7th graders at the school this morning. Brandy is frustrated with how they have been doing a few things lately. As I speak we're all in our separate parts of the house doing our things. It is a quiet night so far. And there we are.

Abulsme - Wed, 3 Oct 2007, 20:29:06 PDT
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Tue 02 Oct 2007

Diary of Hiram Harvey Hurlburt Jr: Chapter 3

As I grew older I can hardly tell when I learned to read, (?) about one of the first books, was the Embassy of Lord McCartney to China from England. The book in a dilapidated condition was a volume formerly belonging to Doctor Benjamin Bullard my grandfather who died when I was about seven months old. Now there was probably ever printed a more uninteresting book for a child seven or eight years old but it was combed over at all hours and the old fashioned letter "s" mostly like an italic "f" as I have mentioned in another chapter about a copy of the New Testament, and they were as familiar to me as the fire works that were produced by the Chinese encircling the whole horizon to strike dismay to the courageous embassy who were first in trying to find the capital of the Celestial Empire.

The date of this embassy was 1793. I take one item, August 6th in the Yellow Sea, Ditto weather, (It has been moderate and cloudy) Adam Bradshaw a light dragoon, departed this life, and his body committed to the deep A.M. washed the lower and orlep decks, fumigated the ship with devils, washed the sides and beams with vinegar. No subsequent searching has ??? entry. One other item I had great reverence.

The Emperor of China in a long reign of sixty years, who had never ceased to watch over and increase the happiness and prosperity of his subjects. The following was called an affecting example.

A merchant of the City of Nankin had, with equal industry and integrity acquired a considerable fortune, which awakened the rapacious spirit of the viceroy of that province; on the pretense, therefore, of its being too rapidly accumulated, he gave some intimidations of his designs to make a seizure of it. The merchant, who had a numerous family, hoped to baffle the oppressive avarice that menaced him, by dividing his possessions amoung his children, and depending on them for support.

But the spirit of injustice, when strengthened by power, is not easily thwarted in its designs; the viceroy, sent the children to the army, seized on their property and left the father to beg his bread. His tears and humble petitions were fruitless; the tyrannical officer, this vile vicegerent of a beneficent sovereign, disclaimed to bestow the smallest notice on the man he had reduiced to ruin, so that, exasperated by the opression of the minister, the merchant at length determined to throw himself at the feet of the sovereign, to obtain redress or die in his presence.

With this design he begged his way to Pekin; and having surmounted all the difficulties of a long and painful journey, he at length arrived at the Imperial Residence; and, having prepared a petition that contained a faithful statement of his injuries he waited with patience in an outer court till the Emperor should pass to attend the council. But the poverty of his appearance almost frustrated his hopes; and the attendant mandarins were about to chastise his intrusion, when the Emperor was attracted by the bustle which the poor mans resistance occasioned; at this moment he held forth a paper, which his Imperial Majesty ordered brought to his palanquin; and having perused its contents, commanded the petitioner to follow him. It so happened, that the Viceroy of Nankin was attending his annual duty in the council; the Emperor, therefore, charged him with the crime stated in the poor mans petition, and commanded him to make his defense: but conscious of his guilt, and amazed at the unexpected discovery, his agitation, his looks, and his silence condemned him. The Emperor then addressed the council on the subject on the viceroys crime, and concluded his harangue with ordering the head f his tyrannical officer to be instantly brought to him on the point of a sabre. The command was obeyed: and while the poor old man was wondering on his knees at the extraordinary event of the moment, the emperor addressed him in the following manner: Look, said he, on the awful and bleeding example before you, and i now appoint you his successor, and name you the Viceroy of the Province of Nankin, let his fate instruct you to fulfill the duties of your high and important office with justice and moderation. This method of acting justice seemed to me at the age of seven to be perfect, although I had the impression that the Chinese were not the highest civilization.

(The full diary will be located here when complete.)

Abulsme - Tue, 2 Oct 2007, 19:24:17 PDT
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Mon 01 Oct 2007

Curmudgeon's Corner: iPhones and Googles

This week Sam and Ivan talk about

  • Apple's iPhone Downgrade
  • Google Spectrum Bidding
Podcast XML Feed

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Abulsme - Mon, 1 Oct 2007, 23:24:38 PDT
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Late Curmudgeon

For those of you who may be wondering, this week's podcast was indeed recorded on Sunday. It hasn't been released yet due to some technical difficulties preventing me from uploading it to the webserver where I keep my site (including the podcasts).

Related problems actually had the whole site down for about 14 hours earlier today, but it is obviously back up now. The podcast will follow as soon as my ability to move files around is restored.

Abulsme - Mon, 1 Oct 2007, 14:09:08 PDT
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