Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Friday, 2021.10.15
I opened Pandora's box, let the cat out of the bag and put the ball in their
court.

		Hon. J. Hacker (The Ministry of Administrative Aff

2008.05.19

Road Report

This story begins where it has ended, with me in New York City cheerily, albeit weary and fighting a ugly head cold (more on that later), clicking away at the keyboard of this fine laptop provided by my employer (assuming “fine” includes the fact it doesn’t recognize the power cable half the time and looses track of the touchpad, thus requiring a reboot) at 2+ AM in the Belvedere hotel. Belvedere, by the way, is French for “Not the hotel booked by Corporate Travel for Greg”, just so you know. I’ve only been here a half hour, but so far this place is GREAT!

I had been booked to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn. The week before I had been put up at the Novotel, which is a bit of a dive in a Euro sort of way, so I figured the Hilton had to be better. While the staff was friendly and helpful, the accommodations were lacking. Arriving so late, my options were for a non-smoking room with two queen sized beds or a smoking room with a king sized bed. (Sidebar: Walking this planet with a 6’5″ frame means there is no such thing as a “king” sized bed. There are either “regular” sized beds, small beds, really damn uncomfortably small beds and cribs. When I travel, my best shot at any thing resembling a decent night sleep is a “king” sized bed.) Ah, but non-smoking trumps king sized bed so I took the non-smoking room. Ready to turn in, I slipped the door key card into the slot and pushed the door open.

Wild horses will not pull out of me what I saw. Let’s just say the room wasn’t available and that it was VERY much in use. What fun to be the scary stranger in the doorway at 1:00 AM. Thanks, Hilton!

The front desk agent was very apologetic and comped me free breakfasts for my stay (I don’t eat breakfast.) That left the smoking king. Ugh. Thinking (or not thinking very well, as it turns out) this head cold would block out the smoke smell, I took the room. After all, it’s New York City and it’s pushing 1:00 AM. What are my options?

Well, the entire floor stunk. The room really stunk and when I pulled back the covers, I looked around to see who it was that was standing behind me that just lit up a cigarette. The stench of cigarette smoke permeated everything and if I didn’t get out of there fast, my clothes and my person would stink of smoke for the duration of my stay. The collection of Good Ideas generally doesn’t include reeking of smoke in business meetings involving Ogilvy in the heart of New York City. Well, at least I was thinking again.

So back down to the desk to press for better options. The desk clerk called around to a couple of hotels and sent me over to the Belvedere. Did I mention this place is GREAT? It’s 100% non-smoking. And check this out, the soap is from England! Penhaligon’s Quercus soap.

OooooOOOOooOoooo. Fancy! Novotel just had a cake of stuff in shrink wrap labeled “soap.” I kid you not.

So it’s better at the moment, but this head cold is in the Noseagra Falls stage. I packed something like 8 handkerchiefs to deal with it over the next two days. I can thank being sealed in an aluminum can for 4+ hours last Friday as I flew home from New York City. The guy across the aisle was constantly sneezing and sniffling (like me now) and had a penchant for not covering his face when aerosolizing his wretched illness. But I feel his pain now. There’s nothing quite like a head cold across altitude shifts from 5,000 feet to 36,000 feet to 200 feet to really make one ponder the science of hydraulics.

I love road warrior stories, especially when they happen to someone else.

Well, time to find a pillow. I have to wake up and be charming in six hours.

[Edit History]

2008.19.2008 – 02:35 AM

Coolness. They even have a bath robe for me here. Too bad it’s for a guy about 18 inches shorter across the shoulders than I.

2008.05.01

Spring, Rocky Mountain Style – II

Yesterday was a beautiful Spring day, so nice I sat outside in the yard and watched the stars come out while sipping a homebrew beer (excellent batch, by the way.) Here’s what it looks like from my office window at the moment:

When this storm is done, I likely will need a shovel to clear all this Global Warming from the driveway.

2008.04.28

FedEx Road Show

Turns out, FedEx has both “tracking numbers” and “tour numbers.” Tracking numbers are those which show you where your package is as it moves from Point A to Point B, where presumably you are at Point B. For example, a recent purchase of mine was shipped from the vendor in two separate packages. Using the FedEx “tracking number”, we see the trace of Package One’s journey from Point A (the vendor) to Point B (me):

Nicely done, FedEx. “Tour numbers,” however, show your package’s progress from Point A to all points in between Point A and you. Using the FedEx “tour number” shows a different trace for Package Two:

Package Two went from Columbia, MO, through Denver (I missed the opportunity to wave as it went by), on to Salt Lake City and then back to Denver. What fun! Problem is, there’s no way to know what kind of number you have. Not so nicely done, FedEx.

Well, I hope Package Two enjoyed it’s visit to Salt Lake City.

2008.04.27

Mattress In The Mail

Would you send a mattress to someone via the U. S. Postal Service? Doubtful. Mostly because it’s just too darn inconvenient, on the front end, to stuff it into an envelop and attach all that postage. So, nobody does this. And think of the effect on the back end with the recipient? Their mailbox would effectively be locked. No place to put any of the other mail the postal carrier may need to deliver for you.

Yet, people send mattress via email all the time. This is so because the front end effort is negligible, but the back end effect could be just as unpleasant as attempting to wrestle a mattress out of your snail mailbox.

I had a problem brewing with my mail server for the past six weeks. It went unnoticed until the server started sending notices the vendor’s bandwidth limits were close to being exceeded. Since early March and up until April 23rd, there had been a message with an attachments exceeding 10 Mb sitting in my primary mail server’s queue. Fetchmail attempted, every 5 minutes, to retrieve the message to a secondary mail server running postfix. Fetchmail would pull the 10+ Mb message down to the secondary mail server and pass it on to postfix at which point postfix would reject the message because it’s 10 Mb attachment per message limit had been reached. And on this went every 5 minutes. The kicker came on April 23rd when an email newsletter I had, until now, subscribed to sent a 30 Mb video as an attachment!

Now things were getting ugly. For a brief period, the primary mail server was down (This was the first sign I had there was trouble.)

The total monthly traffic for this server normally runs about 200 Mb, far below the allotted 75 Gb set by the vendor. With these two stuck emails, the total bandwidth consumed by April 24th had reach 65 Gb. All this due to fetchmail retrieving these two messages with a combined size of 40 Mb every 5 minutes. After FTP’ing these messages off the mail server, the storm abated.

And sanity returned to email land.

Two lessons here.

Lesson one was for me. The two mail servers have been reconfigured to handle this situation more gracefully as this is likely to happen again. Why? Because lesson two isn’t likely to catch on: If you have a funny/interesting/whatever video for your friends to see, consider sending an email with a link to the file and not the file as an attachment. Unless you know the recipient has an email server that works like this:

Otherwise, nobody likes pulling a mattress out of their mailbox.

2008.04.26

Spring, Rocky Mountain Style

Less than 10 days ago, it was a crisp Spring morning with snow on the ground and glazed on the trees…

…while the robins waited for the ground to clear.

Next day, it was sunny and warm and Mother Nature was back to showing her Spring colors…

And then there is today. It’s bright, sunny and snowing…

This won’t last and doubtful there will be any need to pull out the Global Warming shovel.

2008.04.25

When A Rose Attacks

If you ever want to know what happens to a ball like this…

…after a puppy who could barely hold this ball in her mouth when she was two months old…

…grows up and finds that long lost ball under the couch, the answer is this:

Except the pieces will be scattered hither and yon.

2008.04.23

Mixed Metaphor Award

Time to present another Mixed Metaphor Award. This go around the award goes to Barack Obama staffer Mika Brzezinski:

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Well, but you can’t argue that the Clinton campaign didn’t do some serious damage in light of the Wright stuff and the bitter comments–

SCARBOROUGH: That wasn’t the Clinton campaign.

BRZEZINSKI: They pounced on it like lemmings.

SCARBOROUGH: That wasn’t the Clinton campaign–

BRZEZINSKI: Oh, please.

SCARBOROUGH: And I don’t know if lemmings actually pounce. I think lemmings go over cliffs.

(H/T Eric Scheie)

2008.04.22

Tuesday Evening Flowers

Blog Haiku #23

Spry chickadees chirp.
Morning frost and crisp Spring air.
A new day begins.

2008.04.19

Right Wing Nuts

I had excellent chemistry teachers and professors in high school and college. They were tough and thorough. What I learned there paved the way toward being a successful computer programmer. Writing software is easy. Writing successfully software is a challenge. Successful software is resilient, durable and stable. To get there, a developer has to be exceptionally adept at debugging. Finding a bug often comes down to recognizing what isn’t happening.

This is probably true for any complex field. Tracing network hardware issues can depend on noticing where date is isn’t being routed, fine tuning a medical diagnosis may depend on noticing which symptoms aren’t present. I find it can also be true of people’s beliefs. The things they don’t say often reveal how thoughts are being process inside their head.

An example of how this “insight by absence” idea is reflected in people came by way of one of my friends who remarked that another friend had noted “all those right wing nuts” in my blog roll.

Busted.

They’re there all right.

Hmmmmm. But what about these?

  • Advice Goddess
  • Ann Althouse
  • Daily KOS
  • Democratic Underground
  • Eric Umansky
  • Huffington Post
  • Lawrence Lessig
  • Liberal Oasis
  • TalkLeft
  • Truthout

Interesting filter in play. The sites bulleted above are also in my blog roll and are anything BUT right wing. So presumably, they are not “nuts.” But by including the “right wing nuts” I’ve revealed myself as a “right wing nut?” I’ve just learned a great deal about this particular person – how they perceive the world, where they draw lines, how they discriminate, what bothers them.

Well, my friend, you are not alone in such criticism. I’ve also been dinged for “polluting” my blog roll with “left wing nuts.” Forming such at-a-glance beliefs is dependent upon not actually reading this blog. Doing so would reveal I throw stones at both sides of the aisle. I’ve stated more than once on these pages I’m a registered Independent, preferring to listen to both sides, dive deeper to find the source facts (or lack of them) to my own satisfaction and form my own opinions. That may sound like work, but it’s much easier than towing any party’s line.

Alas, you can neither teach nor expect people to step back for the bigger picture.

The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents and the ocean was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge.Daniel J. Boorstin

[Edit History]

2008.04.12

Oooops. Took “Protein Wisdom” off the bullet list. Didn’t intend for that one to be there.

2008.03.29

Saturday Morning Daffodils

Daffodils

First of the season. Ahhhhh. Spring.

2008.03.19

From The Just-A-Little-More-Umph Department

This could just as well come from the Get-Out-And-Push Department: Satellite misfire to hurt HDTV expansion.

“Reports indicated that a rocket carrying the AMC-14 satellite did not reach high enough orbit.”

Apparently, the problem has been traced back to the early moments of the launch…

Rocket Launch

Tragically, rocket scientists designed the satellite assuming metric child dimensions whereas launch control assumed English child dimensions. The stomping power of a 24 year old male was needed rather than that of an 8 year old male.

2008.03.18

Tuesday Afternoon Crocus And Bee

Crocus

2008.03.17

Life B.T. (Before Television)

When the younger generation asks us elders, “What did you do before there was television to keep entertained?”, it’s a difficult question to answer. Not hard difficult, but embarrassingly difficult:

We had the The Swing Wing:

“It’s a what?” It’s a Swing Wing! Because “Self-induced Whiplasher” just wouldn’t sell as well, you know.

But that’s not all! We also had Clackers! What fun! What hilarity when those things busted into pieces and flew in all directions. More thrilling than lawn darts! And they say only video games cause brain damage.

[Edit History]

2008.03.17

James Lileks elaborates.

2008.02.13

Laptops For Less Bait And Switch

Interesting bait and switch from Laptops For Less. Here’s what you see when you first hit the site:

LFL1

Note that the claim is for free shipping on orders over $30. Coolness. I need a replacement power cord for an ancient Compaq. But then notice what happens when you head on down the checkout path:

LFL2

Well how about that! My over $30 order is charged for shipping and the LFL website now shows free shipping on orders over $50. “Click for details” makes no mention of the $30 threshold, just the $50 threshold. I ordered the power cord from MobileTechPower.com which also charged me shipping but were upfront about the charge. In fact, the item was $8 less expensive overall from Mobile Tech Power.


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