Sunday, December 26, 2004

Back in the saddle again?

I'm more or less off caffiene. Again.

The other good news/bad news is my weight is stable since mid-October.

The dreams of dropping 30 pounds (or much more) this year are shot, but I'll still be down 10 for the year at least.

Off to ride the exercise bike ...

I'm dreaming of a white ... Boxer Day?

Our Christmas was as green as the grass at Fenway Park on opening day, but overnight we got enough of a dusting to give us a white Boxer day.

4-6 inches expected, which means the the Snow Bane rolls again (for the first time this season).

Welcome to New England weather.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

The proper addressing of Cats

A question. If Bluegrass Mama is the title of my sister's blog, should I address her in my blog as Bluegrass Sister? She's only two years older. The internal argument rages on...

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Hello, sister ...

It's sad when most of one's communications with your own sibling are via blogging.

It's sadder that she gets around to posting on her blog more than I do.

It's saddest when I post more on her blog than I do my own!

Wednesday, December 1, 2004


Another month, and another reminder that I really spend more time posting to the Summerhill Kitten Farm than to this fish wrap.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

More site hacks

I've upgraded our blogging software to MovableType 3.12. This affects this blog plus our far move active and popular Summerhill Kitten Farm

I also also locked comments on this blog to require TypeKey registration. There are pros and cons of third party registration, but it's that or looking in other third-party blacklists to block comment SPAM.

This lets me drop the password prompt anyone sees when they try even look at a comment.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

A Rose By Any Other Name

I got my bank statement from Bank of America today. Let's see, since I opened my account in 1989 when I moved to the Boston area the bank has been called:

  1. BayBank Harvard Trust
  2. BayBank
  3. Bank Boston
  4. Fleet Bank
  5. Bank of America

And that doesn't include that they bought Shawmut Bank, which is how the New Garden come to be called the Fleet Center

If I had that many aliases, the FBI RICO people would be looking for me.

The Turkeys at the Keyboard

Holidays are coming; and that means it's time to fix family computers.

Auto Service

We, along with my eldest sister and the Bluegrass Mama, are all converging at the new Old Homestead in Syracuse for Thanksgiving next week. This 300 mile one-way jaunt through a upstate NY winter means the Audi needs its wipers (which have been bugging me for months) replaced now.

We got replacement inserts at AutoZone, and Katherine futzed with them in the parking lot for 10 minutes in the 40 degree weather before we headed home for tools. This was long enough to remind why I take the cars to the dealer -- I spent too many cold days in our garage while growing up, holding the light for my dad while he worked on our cars, both mundane and classic.

I mentioned this to Katherine as we got home, and she reminded me that she doesn't do home remodeling personally for similar reasons. I was promptly released from further standing around.

I went to be useful, namely by teasing the cats some more.

Saturday, November 6, 2004

Guess who's coming to dinner?

On Tuesday, I rode down to northern Rhode Island for dinner with a Bryant University AIS instructor.

The first time I drove any distance to have dinner with her, she was 17 and an early college admission to then Clarkson College. This continued with each change of season through her college years. The last time we had dinner she was 21, had her degree, was a new Army wife, and pregnant with their first and only child.

The "child" is now a sophomore at Rose-Hulman, and several inches taller than me.

There have been gaps caused by our zip codes being in different timezones and the general process of living our lives. A overnight stay with them while job hunting in Maryland, working by chance with her father-in-law at IBM in Kingston (NY), an Army change of command ceremony in Tennessee, a wake for the father-in-law in Maine 15 years after Kingston, an overnight stay while on vacation in another Kingston (Ontario) -- these are the intersections of 20 years. In between, mail, phone calls, and more recently e-mail & instant messaging.

She calls me a persistent friend. It is kind, and it is true.

When the seasons change again during this academic year, we will have dinner again. So it is with persistent friends.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Back in Saddle Again

I climbed onto the exercise bike today, and put in 32 minutes while watching the Red Sox parade on TV. My bad knee didn't complain, but the (not very heavy) workout wiped me out -- I napped for three hours this afternoon.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Dark Side of the Moon

When I noted that the Red Sox were 10 wins away from winning it all, I noted I could dream.

Lest you missed it (and yet are on the net!), the Red Sox won It all.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

In Living Color

The World Series is here.

In response, I made a purchase I had threatened since last year, namely a HD-ready TV. It's a 32" inch LCD, which is about as large as one would physically want in our house.

Friday night, I wedged it in backseat of the Audi A4, got it home, and set it up. Saturday morning, Comcast delivered the required HD cable box. A few upgraded cables were still being seated as the pre-game show started Saturday evening, but all was ready for the Big Game proper.

Unfortunately, this instantly more or less obsoleted my Tivo Series 2, and didn't do much for our ~ 2001 era DVD player.

At least I didn't jinx the Old Towne Team. Sox Win! Sox Win!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

And then there were 4 ...

Four more wins to a Red Sox World Championship.

This is mostly posted to explain why I'm not writing real entries these days, instead I'm glued to the TV.

p.s. There will be no attempt to give up caffiene until after the series ends.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Shoemaker's Children

I just renewed my ACM membership online. Slowly. R e a l l y s l o w l y.

How a simple business web site can get by with 10 second response time for a fixed transaction is beyond me. Even the site you're reading, hosted on a 1998 era 350 MHz Pentium II, has faster response time when posting updates to this blog or the Summerhill Kitten Farm. (Those are the slowest operations I demand of it.) And I'm upgrading the machine before the end of the year.

Maybe I should donate the PII to the ACM when I retire it so they can do an upgrade?

Monday, October 11, 2004

Headed for the DL?

Back at New Years 1994, I slipped and straight armed a sidewalk in Endicott, NY. The sidewalk didn't move, I dislocated my elbow.

The elbow is reminding me of that today, even with Advil in me.

May be time to hit the older of the exercise bikes and work on my arm strength.

Saturday, October 9, 2004

Back on the Chain Gang

I just weighed myself.

Say this blog is not the only thing I've been ignoring, since I'm back up to one pound under my summer peak.

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Sox Win! Sox Win!

Only ten more October wins to go!

(Hey, I can dream.)

Quote Without Comment

Winter Weather Statement

... Frost advisory in effect tonight...

The National Weather Service in Taunton MA has issued a frost advisory.

Widespread frost is expected late tonight and early Wednesday morning across the region. Temperatures are expected to fall into the low to mid 30s by daybreak Wednesday. Light winds and clear skies will make the environment ripe for widespread frost.

Those who still have tender vegetation outside should prepare to cover cold sensitive plants... or bring them inside.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Diet of Champions

The Evil Forces fed me again yesterday.

One McD's breakfast, 2 Pop-Tarts, 4 Cokes, and a Hostess Cherry Pie.

On other hand, I walked two miles, got a proper lunch, and passed on dinner.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

That tree jumped out and hit my car officer ...

On the highway to diet hell, I've had a Kit Kat Bar, Nutrigrain Bar, and 12 oz Coke this afternoon.

I was attacked by them. Each of them snuck up on me and then POW! (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

Monday, September 13, 2004

Rule 3: Five Meals a Day

Rule 5

Five meals a day, if you can get them.


What this rule really means is limit snacks in number (one each, morning and afternoon) and scope. Best are fruits, but (in my case) even an occasional candy bar is okay. But that doesn't candy bar and a soda, or a snack right after breakfast or ... you get the idea.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

A New Low in Product Activation

At anti-virus renewal time I upgraded to Norton AV 2005. The product requires activation, which I don't mind.

I do mind the geniuses who included both I (ASCII 0x49) and "l" (ASCII 0x6C) in the activation key character set and presented it on the Symantec web site in a sans-serif font. This gave a result of:


But look closely:


Since the mixed case adds one bit per character, they saved one character off the product key at the expense of better than 1 in 2 odds of the customer working into a rage when they type the wrong character.

(I'm computing the odds based on 26 * 2 + 10 characters in the set, two similar characters, each with a 1:2 odds of being typed wrong, with 25 instances of the set. My math may be off, but not the idea.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Rule 2: Caffeine Free

Rule 2

No caffeinated beverages.

This seems to conflict with rule 1, moderation, but rather it lives the prior rule. That's because I can't drink caffeine in moderation over the long haul.

Simple, eh?

Monday, September 6, 2004

Rule 1: Moderation


When I was a diet at the beginning of the year, my mantra was my
diet is simple. This time, I wonder, because of the number of things I
actually change. So, I am going to take my time, make a list, and check
it twice.

Rule 1

Moderation isn't the best way, it's the only way in the long haul.


Losing weight is the process of burning more Calories than you take
in.  One can up exercise, lower intake both.  Drugs and diet
changes (ala Atkins) can change intake and burn rate by changing body
chemistry, but even those schemes  ultimately relate on the body
having a less intake than it burns.

(As a
side note, while there is medical support for body changes claimed by
supporters of the Atkins Diet, I peronsally think most people 
lose weight on it simply because the food restrictions make people
think about what they are eating.

That said, both are important to the average American, because they
both eat too much and exercise too little.  But a drastic course
correction doesn't change habits.  Gentle changes do, and that's
new (better) habits come from..

Monday, August 30, 2004

Die with T

I've been off Coca-Cola for ten days now, so the diet begins in earnest. The fruit and other heathier food is in the house, and I'm weaned from the vending machine at work. I hope.

Now a little cooler weather would be nice so I enjoy walking ...

Friday, August 27, 2004

CD Hubris

You gotta love some recording artists.

Emptying an entire disk wallet of ~ 24 CD's, I found one CD with no artist, no title, no nothing, just a white piano etched in an orange background. I think it was a Ben Folds Five CD, and I had no other cases left over.

Let's see, if everyone did that, and if I didn't rip the whole collection onto MP3's, I could be there for days everytime I took 5 CD's out of the changer. (Or more likely, do lots of Sharpie Marker doodling.)

Don't you love people who think they are special?

Thursday, August 19, 2004

A Quart Low

I've only had one can of Coke today (so far), and only two yesterday. Great for my caloric input (relative to my daily hacking run input of 5+). Not so great for my head, when I drop down the caffiene level I get a lovely throb. But dropping Coke completely is a cornerstone to dropping weight overall.


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Be careful what you ask for ...

Real Networks set up a petition asking Apple to open up the iPod. The results are not what Real expected.

This is not a shock to me, given Real's heavy handed Internet marketing of the past several years and their general tin ear. My (least) favorite example of Real's handwork is the monthly subscription fee to use their software for ripping your own music as MP3s, whereas iTunes does it for free.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The Hobbit Hoof

Katherine asked if I was doing litter boxes tonight. I told her I didn't have any choice, aside from annoying her. She said all I needed was a suitable bribe.

I came up with a good one, a higher priority task in the form of a 2 mile walk. This is the first I've been walking since my last posted hobbit hoof. Let's just say my average is down from January, when I got exercise 65% of the days in the month, not to mention March, when I was exercising ~ 75% of the days.

Hopefully, with the SSL done I'll move the focus around to my weight as I threatened to do before.

(Merely that I did three blog posts in a day says I am getting more spare cycles for a change.)

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

I finally finished SSL, and I figured out why I originally thrashed around it.

Basically, I'm a top-down kind of developer.

If I designed a house, I'd consider what its requirements are (2 people, 6 computers, and 3 cats), and turn that into specifications (four bedrooms, one computer room, six litterboxes), and the specifications into a design (the litterboxes do NOT go in my office).

The SSL project, as presented, was more of a bottom-up problem -- how do you plumb this weird thing into an existing foundation? This took me out of my normal thinking "how should this work?" mode and left me poking at the edges. Once I sat back and decided I needed a proper interface to the new SSL code, that gave me a "top" to drill down from and then plug into the existing environment.

Of course, then I had to work six days a week for three weeks and be left wondering about a weird bug with PFXImportCertStore not working in a GUI program on Windows XP (it does work from a command line program, on other versions of Windows, or if I run it under a program debugger!), but that's programming for you.

SHA-1 broken?

There's a rumor circulating at the Crypto conference ... that somebody is about to announce a partial break of the SHA-1 cryptographic hash function.

As the quoted link describes, SHA-1 hash functions are critical for password protection in many, many computer systems.

Sunday, August 8, 2004

Intel 64 bit Extensions - Spin Cycle

The nice people at The Register (be careful, those people have the one true Bastard Operator from Hell) have an article on how Chipzilla is rolling out 64 bit extensions quietly. Really quietly, because their competitor AMD did it first.

My favorite part is not the technology, but the spin:

...the usually brash Intel has shied away from direct comparisons between its 64-bit extension line and competing processors from AMD. In press materials, Intel benchmarked the new 3.6GHz Xeon chip to its own, older Xeon processors. When asked about this, an Intel representative briefly stood by the line that "Intel does not compare its product to those of competitors in this type of presentation."

Really? What about all these slides reporters receive showing how the Itanium processor beats out Power, UltraSPARC, PA-RISC and Alpha chips on benchmarks?

After being reminded of this, Intel later admitted it does compare its own server products to those of competitors. Just not the new Xeons, apparently.

Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Dancing in the Dark

I finished a day of hacking SSL about 10 PM last night, and jumped in the Miata to head home. Nice night, warm even that late, in all in an easy way to relax.

That is, until I needed to left turn off Route 2 to Afewife Brook parkway at the triquatra that is the Route 2/Afewife Brook Parkway intersection, and the traffic lights were out. Traffic was just light enough to be get a stream of oncoming traffic doing 35 MPH in a 25 zone around the sweeping curve.

It was like a game of Frogger, but you only get one life.


Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Consult an adult if you don't know how to post ...

Someone likes certain a Boston Globe columnist less than I do. Unfortunately for her, she regretted her crude hyperbole, especially when Boston Common pointed people to her post and she suddenly had her 15 minutes of fame.

All of which reminds me of why I try avoid cursing in print, and always avoid venting in any way when writing code comments. (Comment should be insight for what the code does. Not what it did last week, but why it does what it does now, and perhaps the occasional suggestion as to how to make it better.)

My gift and my curse is that I try stick to the truth, to the point of bluntness. Not that it improves my professionalism, but at least it's an easy story to stick to.


The point of this post is that we are responsible for what we say in public, and that the Internet, at heart, is a very public place with a long memory. The scribe at Boston Common didn't go searching for her post; the Internet served it up on a platter because she had told it to.

The author of the post which started this requested I delete the link to the post. I have done so, leaving to a generic pointer to her blog. I've also edited out the magic word from her comment (hey, this a family blog, more or less).

I'm not deleting her comment or the link to her site; she's welcome to secure the site if she doesn't want anonymous visitors.

Sunday, August 1, 2004

The Hobbit Hoof

Programming can be a real park your butt in a chair kind of job.

Having lost ~ 25 pounds between Christmas and Easter by those old standards of more exercise and less intake, I've proceeded to put 15 of it back on since then.

The putting on is as straight forward as the taking off was, no exercise and too much junk. Taking a month off was fine after hitting my first goal. However, I lost my good habits, and things like the new cats and work being priorities are excuses, not reasons.

I am working today on a Sunday, but I at least I got off my butt and walked up to the local Togos for a French Dip, milk, and a donut. Obviously not perfect with the donut, but getting out and walking in this weather is certainly a first step.

My new goal is drop the reaquired 15 by October first, quite possible when I have good habits. However, my original goal for the year (17 pounds after the 15) may be out of reach now.

Be prepared for more eating babbles as the summer continues.

No writer polluted the clubhouse more ...

In response to a Boston Globe column by Dan Shaughnessy on the departure of Nomar from Boston, a letter to the editor...
"That was Nomar. The ultimate downer. The wonderful talent who hated playing in a place where people cared too much."

I think the ultimate downer is named Shaughnessy, who hates writing in a place where he's been bored since the Curse of the Bambino was published. Dan's only good columns are the ones where he bothers to leave MLB and the other top tier professional sports behind. In those columns, he leaves stereotypes and athlete baiting behind for real commentary on the issues and people of sports.

Just as the team may be better without Nomar, the Globe coverage of the team would be better without Dan on that beat. Then, thank the baseball god, we would no longer have to read Dan's columns that pretend that he cares about the fortunes of the Boston Red Sox.
As you can tell, I just love ole Dan.

p.s. Lest you didn't see the original column and the link has expired, my letter to the editor was mostly updating Dan's prose about Nomar to comment on Dan himself.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Let's do Lunch

I charged over to SoftPro Books (one of the best software bookstores around Boston) at lunch yesterday to look for a book on SSPI. No joy, a book they kindly put on hold for me barely described what it is for, not how to program it.

After this, my first choice for lunch was the D'Angelo sandwich shop in the same plaza. I walked in, looked at the empty line and the six people waiting for their sandwiches to be made to order, and retreated to Pluto (or more precisely, the Burger King drive through.)

The reason is simple, Although I loved their sandwiches for 12 years, the chain doesn't seem to execute well any more. Anything which implies a failure (like a backlog of customers waiting for orders, even though they may have been standing around for mere seconds) sent me running.

Their quality has slipped and thus they have lost the trust with came with fast execution and good product. That's how you kill a relationship.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Ignore the web site behind the curtain

A word of warning for you.

I don't actually do my blog posting via, but rather I run MovableType on the local machine running Kendra Electronic Wonderworks.  So if you see this post, you're likely not seeing the the real blog; head directly over to my real blog to get my latest.

Your Every Need

Stolen from my spouse Katherine's blog is a link to this story about Microsoft Money's online component having a multi-day outage.

Is Microsoft less reliable than other software companies? Probably not, but their breath and depth of market share makes them more visible. If they are less reliable, it's not any one KLOC is worse than anyone else's, but that their attempts at tight integration cause the failure to be seen in more programs.


Microsoft Windows, unlike most UNIX varients, does not use OpenSSL for secure connections over the Internet. Rather, they use their own implementation, which is controlled by an interface called SSPI. (That's not a dig, they have reasons for doing it differently, namely to make it fit in with other security support.)

Writing a program (merely an interface actually) to use SSPI in place of OpenSSL should be a week's work. But somehow I cannot seem to get my head around it after over two weeks, and I don't know why.

It's not a technical problem, per se. This back end glue stuff is what I do for a living. But I seem distracted almost by choice, be it by chasing after the cats, going to my sister's wedding, posting photos from same (sorry no link), reading the news on the web three times in an hour, or ... writing this.

I need to break down the problem and more simply, get cracking.

The Eye of the Tiger

You don't want to be here. Go read our more light-hearted web log on our cats

Friday, July 9, 2004