July 02, 2002

rebuilding again

Meredith's iBook recently crashed. This time, the hard drive wouldn't come back for anything. It seems that iBooks don't like water. The iBook made it back from Apple repair in amazing time -- we dropped it off Thursday evening, and it showed up today. While it works, the hard drive was wiped. Didn't even have OS X on it. So it's off to re-install the world...

Getting the backup working was even more of an adventure. We had a backup on an external Firewire drive. So, I plugged it in to my B&W Macintosh ... and the machine froze. OK, reboot, try again ... frozen. Hmm. Reinstall the drivers from the CD that came with the Firewire drive. Oh, now it says 'this disk is bad, would you like to reinitialize?'. Norton didn't even see the drive. This was going from bad to worse. I called Tom and asked if I could come by his house to try his computer. He was happy to try, but his computer didn't even appear to power the drive. Neither of his did, in fact. Maybe the cable is bad? So we went to Apple and tried there. His computer there at least powered the drive, but also reported that it was bad. Half an hour of running Norton Utilities later, the drive was back. He made another copy of the critical files, and I went home. Tom is The Man.

Then I tried plugging the drive in, using a different cable, once more. It froze. OK... turned all the non-Apple extensions off (except for leaving the FW disk driver), then tried again. Again, it reported the disk was bad, but this time my old copy of Norton was able to fix it.

So ... I don't really know what extension I was running that served as 'Corrupt Firewire Drives Extension' ... but at least it works now.

While I appreciate how much better the update process for Mac OS X is than Mac OS 9, I still wish that Apple could get the number of passes down. I think I've gone through four passes now of installing all available updates, rebooting -- and then discovering that the updates I just installed made it possible for me to get to yet another wave of updates.

And so here I sit, reinstalling everything...

Posted by Mike at 10:55 PM

July 03, 2002

I thought you would be interested...

Some months ago, I wrote Sens. Boxer and Feinstein and Congresswoman Eshoo to express my dismay for a pending piece of legislation. I believe it was the Hollings act that I wrote about a while back. I set up a special email address, so I'd know if I was getting spammed because of that. In all that time, nothing...

... until yesterday. Yesterday, I received an email from Sen. Boxer announcing an important accomplishment:

"The Senate Appropriations Committee agreed to allocate $5 million to help combat Sudden Oak Death Syndrome."

Umm ... OK ... there was a lot more detail in the letter (mostly about how Sen. Boxer has been fighting to protect California's grandest trees) ... and that's fine ... but I'm a little surprised that the first thing she could think to announce in the last few months is ... this. Is nothing else going on in the United States Senate?

Posted by Mike at 09:53 AM | Comments (1)

July 04, 2002


Last night, we went out for Erin's birthday, then came back here with Erin and Amanda to watch 'Vanilla Sky'. Very strange movie. It probably would have made more sense if we had all been more awake for it. As it was, it just seemed pretty odd.

Today, we're going on a picnic with Erin and her family. Tomorrow, we're having dinner with church friends. Saturday, we're going to Tom's all-day summer party. And on Sunday, Texas is in town.

All in all, it's a pretty full weekend. All good, but pretty busy.

Last week, I installed two more security patches to my home Linux box. My favorite was that I had to install a patch to fix a buffer overflow problem in OpenSSH. For years, I've been hearing about how great open source software is because of the 'many eyes' theory — i.e., with many eyes looking at the openly available source code, bugs and security holes will be caught early, long before those evil hackers can exploit it. I'm sure glad to see how well that worked in this case. Sheez...

I got a new video card yesterday. nVidia's GeForce4 Ti4200. It is much nicer than the Quadro2 card I had before. One frustration while installing it was that the Dell case I had didn't want to accept a full-height AGP card. There was this big plastic part on the lid of the case that came down on top of the half-height card. Fortunately, the big plastic part was easily removed. Counter-Strike plays a whole lot better now.

Posted by Mike at 10:46 AM | Comments (1)

July 05, 2002

amazing view

Overheard tonight while watching fireworks from the Stevens Creek Trail:

"It's so nice being able to come out here and get a 365-degree view of all the fireworks."

Uh huh.

Posted by Mike at 12:24 AM


We saw Men In Black II today. It was a good movie to go see this afternoon. The crowds weren't terrible, so we got good seats. It was worth seeing, although it really wasn't as good as the first one. Part of it was that it lacked the surprises of the first, and part of it was that the movie just didn't seem as tight. It also suffers from the all too common failing of having shown most of the good parts in the trailers. Still, a reasonably entertaining flick.

Posted by Mike at 06:02 PM

July 08, 2002

more updating

Tonight I updated the blogging software I use here to MovableType 2.21. Why? I dunno. It was working before just fine, but, happily, seems to still be working just fine. 2.2 has a new 'trackback' feature, which is essentially an easy way of creating two-way links between blog entries on different sites.

MovableType has worked really well for me since I started using it. I finally remembered today that I really should send in a donation for it. I'm always glad to pay for software that doesn't suck.

Speaking of sotware that doesn't suck, we finally bought Retrospect Express for Mac yesterday for Meredith's iBook. Having had to restore her hard drive (or try, at least) twice in the last three months, you'd think we'd have done this earlier. The backup took forever last night, but did finally finish. I did run into problems trying to get it to back up to fale (our Linux server). Retrospect can back up to an FTP server, which seemed ideal. Only it didn't work -- I kept getting 'error 225', which it said was caused by either the disk being full or the user not having write permissions. Neither of these was at all true. After poking around online some, I finally found the problem: it seems that Retrospect has a problem with FTP access with multiple active network ports. Meredith uses AirPort at home, but Ethernet at school, so both are checked in her System Preferences. When I unchecked all but one, it suddenly started working. OK, so it's software that mostly doesn't suck. Still more than you can say for a lot of things.

A few days ago, we heard many, many sirens for several minutes at one point in the morning. Later, we found this story about a man that CHP chased from Livermore all the way to Palo Alto. The standoff finally ended when the SWAT team, fearing that the man had doused his car in gasoline, finally broke open the windows and filled the inside of the car with fire-retardant foam. This is why I am glad I am not a SWAT member. I would not be the least bit happy about being told to go approach the car with the nice, seemingly totally insane person inside, who is possibly prepared to set his car on fire with him in it, and has God-only-knows what else hidden in the car — so I can spray some foam. Volunteering to shoot the idiot with a sniper rifle from 300 yards is one thing, but spraying the car full of foam? Not for me. It's an amazing job they do.

Yesterday I stood up in church and spoke for a couple of minutes to explain what the Staff-Parish Relations Committee does. I'm the new chair of the committee, and it's one of the least-understood committees in the church. I was later told that the Bishop (OK, not our active Bishop, but the retired Bishop who used to be senior pastor in our church and now attends every Sunday) "was so impressed he spent the afternoon calling people who weren't there to tell them" about it. Well, if I've impressed a Bishop, I clearly have done well. It's not every day that I impress a Bishop.

I spent this morning at work trying to figure out how to approve expense reports, now that I'm a manager again, and then how to file my own, since I had never had to at Microsoft prior to visiting Colorado a couple of weeks ago. The latter was more difficult, since the system told me that I didn't have direct deposit enabled. Which, when I checked, I did. Umm ... so, off to tech support to ask for help.

I am sitting here in the living room writing this while my wife, about six feet away, writes on her iBook — and sends me the occasional message over MSN Messenger. Ah, technology.

It is hot. Our swamp cooler wasn't working because the fan was grinding against something. I took the thing apart, and discovered that it was rubbing against the fan casing itself. The two look as though they're part of one unit, but obviously not. The solution is that if the back of the cooler is lifted a bit, so that it's leaning forward, it seems to be OK. So now the back wheels are propped up on the door jam. No doubt the wheels will eventually slip, causing the entire thing to back-flip out the back door. That will be exciting.

Meredith informs me that it is time to go read the poetry she has just written...

Posted by Mike at 10:37 PM

July 09, 2002

could this be more complicated?

I recently discovered that Sprint PCS offers a discount to Microsoft employees. Wahoo, I thought -- a chance to save a few dollars. I emailed the Sprint account rep for Microsoft and asked how to do it. He explained that he couldn't make the change, but to call this number and give them a discount code.

OK, I called that number. Then I tried to figure out what to do while "Claire, [my] Sprint PCS virtual service representative" offered to help me. Virtual service is right. Eventually, "Claire" gave up and connected me with a human being. Who told me that oh, no, they couldn't do that; I needed to call a different number. Total time: 12 minutes.

Off to the second number. I wait on hold a long time waiting for someone, but at least that annoying Claire is gone. No phone tree at all, in fact. I finally connect to someone — who explains that, actually, they can't add discount codes; that's handled by a different office. With a different phone number. Total time: 8 minutes.

OK, try the third. No hold time this time around. My call is prompty answered by a human being — who explains that all of their computers are being 'upgraded', so can I please call back a few hours later. Total time: 1 minute.

All the above happened yesterday. So today I call the third number, and, after just a couple of minutes of hold time, am connected to a person. Even more amazing, this person claims to be able to do what I want. For reasons I can't understand, this still seems to take a long time, but eventually, she assures me that it's done. Total time: 11 minutes.

So, 32 minutes on the phone to do this. Sheez...

Posted by Mike at 11:36 AM

Just NO sense of humor

CNN.com reports that a passenger was removed by America West after joking about whether or not the pilots were sober.

America West, you may recall, is the airline that employed the two pilots who last week were arrested for being intoxicated as they prepared to fly a plane.

So now a person makes a crack about drunk pilots, and the airline decides she's a "potential security problem". Riiiiiight....

Posted by Mike at 11:25 PM

July 10, 2002


It's the third anniversary of our wedding today! Pretty cool...

I'm pretty lucky.

Posted by Mike at 10:21 AM

July 11, 2002


Someone I play Counter-Strike with found this picture. Anyone who's ever played an online game will no doubt appreciate it.

We're trying to figure out vacation plans. We had originally planned to travel to Singapore in late August to go to Tim and Selena's wedding. Unfortunately, Meredith got called for Federal jury duty (for a term of one month), starting the week before the wedding. And, she's already postponed it twice (once to make it not hit the start of Spring Quarter at De Anza, and once to make it not overlap with the Bay Area Writing Project that she's currently in), so ... I guess she'll take it this time. We're thinking of just driving up the coast, maybe going to see a couple of shows at Ashland.

Posted by Mike at 08:55 AM

July 17, 2002

breathing is a good thing

Last night was different. Meredith called me a little after 5, sounding really funny, and said that her throat felt like it was swelling shut, that she was a little worried about it, and when would I be home? So, home I went to check on her. She said that she started to feel her throat swelling around 4, just as she was leaving Berkeley to drive home, and that it had been getting slowly worse. Her tongue was also swelling. She looked at some information on the Internet, which said to call 911. Instead we called the Aetna nurse hotline for Microsoft employees. The nurse there told me to hang up and call 911. OK, fine. And, anytime your own insurance company tells you to call 911, it seems like a good idea to follow the advice. It's not like the insurance company usually just casually tosses around advice that, to them, translates as 'spend lots of our money'.

I always said that one day we would be glad we lived just 300 feet from the fire station. Mountain View Paramedics were here about two minutes after calling 911, I think, and started checking her out. They gave her some oxygen, and said that an ambulance was on the way, and it was up to her whether or not to use it. As she was trying to decide, the ambulance showed up, so she decided to go ahead and take it. El Camino Hospital is pretty nearby, but it seemed safer to go with them in case her throat suddenly swelled up a lot. It's not, after all, like I would have been able to do anything about it if it had. No medical expert am I.

I followed her to the hospital, and registered her while they took her back into a room. One advantage, I decided, to being taken to the hospital in an ambulance is that you don't have to wait for your room in the lobby. The lobby of an emergency room is not full of very healthy people, many of who appeared to have been there for quite some time.

Once I registered (which really means providing evidence of insurance — that's the important thing), I got to go back and find Meredith. The nurse was checking her out, and by that point, Meredith's throat was starting to feel better. She said by then it just felt sore, but not nearly as swollen. It just happened that Meredith's regular doctor, who works out of the El Camino Hospital group, was around at the time, so he came by shortly to examine Meredith. By then she was really feeling better, so he didn't have a lot to say. The general consensus from all of the people who looked at her was that it was almost certainly some kind of allergic response, but to what no one knew. Probably something she ate.

So, in the end, it was all fine. A little scary, but at least she's fine. Afterwards, she mostly felt embarrassed at having caused so much commotion, but I'd rather cause some commotion than not and have her throat continue to swell. Given that even by 5:30, an hour and a half after this started, it was still swelling shut, who knew whether it would keep swelling or stop?

I'm glad it stopped.


(Added later: Meredith also wrote an account of her adventure on her blog.)

Posted by Mike at 05:02 PM | Comments (1)

July 18, 2002

more fun with searches

Fresh from the June and July ww.mohea.com logs, the top ten odd search queries that have led to our site:

  • 'Men of SI Swimsuit edition' and 'where can you buy men's swimsuit Sports Illustrated' — uhh ... fat chance.
  • 'no clothes' and 'pictures of women with no clothes on' — well, some things never change, eh? You won't be finding these here. Try one of about seven billion other sites.
  • 'pacbellsucks' — yes they do.
  • 'parasailing TN' — hahahaha
  • 'pictures of fourteen year boys wearing underwear' — umm ... you need help. And I promise you won't be finding those on this site.
  • 'really boring person' — I guess this is what I get for choosing 'Some Boring Words' as a title for my blog.
  • 'women knocking men unconscious' — you know, I can't think of a single witty remark, here.
  • 'pictures of womens feet' — this is a surprisingly popular search term for our site. Still not as popular as "swimsuit models", mind you.
  • '"youth group" "tied up"' — the only thing stranger than this search query is where it led on our site. Don't ask me.
  • 'pictures of having sex with corpse' — eww.

Truly, you find the most interesting things on the web.

Posted by Mike at 09:47 AM | Comments (3)

July 22, 2002

spinning things aren't so good

The company picnic for Bay Area Microsoft employees was Saturday at Great America. While Great America is fun, it's a somewhat strange choice for a company gathering, because your odds of running into friends there is ... low. I'm sure it actually worked great for people smart enough to arrange to meet each other ahead of time, but I wasn't that smart.

We didn't stay for that long, though, because Meredith wasn't feeling all that well when we got there. After going on two spinning rides, Meredith was really not feeling all that well.

So we left pretty early. Meredith protested loudly that she really would be fine ... until we got home, and she promptly fell asleep for an hour and a half.

The other day I got caught driving behind someone using a cell phone. No, no, it's not that he was driving while talking on his phone — he was biking. Try to imagine just how much control he had with only his left hand controlling the bike. Not to mention his total inability to use the rear break like this. I was rather impressed with myself that I didn't hit him.

I've been spending time lately teaching myself how to write C# and use the Windows .NET Framework. One of my first programs with it (because I have to have some reason, however silly, to write code) was something to take a bunch of pictures and scale them down to both web picture size and thumbnail size, and generate HTML for it. It's what I used to create the picture pages for the Ann Arbor trip journal.

To learn more, I ordered a bunch of books from Microsoft Press on .NET programming. They showed up today — from AOL Time Warner Book Group. Ah, irony.

Posted by Mike at 10:00 PM

July 24, 2002

You might be a virus if...

This morning, I got email from postmaster@mohea.com with a subject of 'Undeliverable mail--"bDoAnyNodesHaveSniffingScript "', with a body of:

The following mail can't be sent to [deleted]:
From: dodd@mohea.com
To: [deleted]
Subject: bDoAnyNodesHaveSniffingScript
The file is the original mail

Attached was a ~120KB file.

What made this attempt rather lame was that the email was in HTML format. Hint to all you pathetic virus writers: I've never, ever seen a mail transport agent send a bounce report email in HTML format. Never.


Posted by Mike at 11:34 AM

July 25, 2002

I hate change

Well, this change, at least...

Yesterday, I got a note in the mail from my dentist, Dr. Kowitz, announcing his retirement at the end of this month.

I've had this dentist since I moved out here seven years ago. Given that I seem to have inherited my father's bad gums, the dentist is someone I spend entirely too much time with. And Dr. Kowitz and his staff have been great. This particular dentist also got to fix all of the mistakes made by the incompetent dentist I had in TN before moving out here. The contrast between the two dentists is really quite remarkable.

The note says that the office is staying, and that a new dentist will be coming in and taking over. I'm sure I'll meet him soon. Hopefully I'll like him as much as Dr. Kowitz.

(Now if only I could find a doctor that I liked half as much as this dentist...)

Posted by Mike at 08:42 AM | Comments (2)

July 27, 2002

Garlic, garlic, and more garlic

Today we went to the Gilroy Garlic festival. Despite living here for years, and having been out here every summer but one since 1990, I'd never been. So after giving the cat (yes, the cat) some water, we headed down Highway 101. Traffic sucked, as it always does trying to get into Gilroy, and was probably made worse this year by the fact that Caltrain isn't running on the weekends anymore until sometime mid-2004. Otherwise we would have just taken the train.

But the festival itself was lots of fun. Lots, and lots of garlic foods. We started with some sausages, having not eaten anything yet. Really good sausage, cooked with LOTS of garlic. During the course of the day, we also had garlic popcorn, garlic ice cream (surprisingly good), garlic bruschetta, and some more garlic ice cream.

The arts and crafts section of the festival was rather disappointing. Everything kind of looked the same, and mostly cheap. Except for the really expensive stuff, which all looked kind of the same as all the other really expensive stuff. Ah well.

It was sort of amazing how many people were there.

All in all, a fun time. Good food, and a fun trip.

Posted by Mike at 06:21 PM