Browse Month: July 2009

07/31/2009

I’m watching the Rifftrax version of The Empire Strikes Back and it’s an absolute riot. The Harry Potter version was pretty funny, but this one might take the cake. With Chad Vader as a special guest commentator and some awesome Yoda imitations, the jokes range from Colt 45 and Jar-Jar (predictable) to Microsoft’s Clippy and Jheri-Curl.

Highly recommended.

07/18/2009

We went up to Winter Park yesterday and had a blast. We’d done this a few years ago and decided it was such fun we should make it more of a tradition.

We played two rounds of 18-hole mini golf (I won the first match; Laralee took the second):

Some wall climbing…

Trampoline bungee jumping, complete with flips:

But the clear winner in popularity with the kids was the alpine slide. I think we rode it seven or eight times. Photos fail to capture the fun: they look like we’re kind of sitting in a little trough, when in fact we’re cruising along at a pretty good clip.

Zack took the first few runs pretty slowly (notice Laralee backed up behind him) but got the hang of it and insisted on using the “fast lane”.

Since there are two parallel tracks, I attempted to take some pictures as I raced beside Laralee. Despite no signage about it, apparently cameras are verboten on the track, and Alex (who was immediately behind me in line) said as soon as I left the starting point the woman manning the ride called the guy waiting at the base and reported “There’s a guy in a white shirt and cap with a camera!”. When I hit the bottom I was told not to do it again. Whatever.

Here’s a great action shot as I jam the control stick forward for maximum speed. Mr. Sulu, engage Warp 1!

And a self-portrait (notice La in the background; I had just passed her):

I caught up to Kyra, who had left ahead of me, but due to camera difficulties and the fact that I was screaming around a curve, I didn’t get her on camera and instead ended up with a few pictures like this:

To finish the day, we made a visit here:

La wiped out on the final run, and when you skid down that smooth concrete you leave a lot of skin behind. She managed to scrape patches of skin off both legs, her elbow, and a couple of knuckles. Apparently it was a pretty impressive crash, and it’s fortunate the kid behind her was far enough back that he didn’t cream her with his sled.

Despite the injury and a bit of sunburn, we can chalk it up as a fun day all around.

07/12/2009

As data storage gets bigger and faster and cheaper, we’re starting to hear talk of petabytes– a word that until a few years ago was beyond the reach of technology. An interesting discussion on Slashdot included this interesting comment:

Consider that a single “frame” of vision for human eyes is estimated at 576 megapixels (truncating at peripheral vision). We’ll imagine that each pixel is assigned a 16-bit hexadecimal value. That means each time you glance at something, each frame would be calculated at a little more than 1/1000th of a terabyte. The lowball framerate for the human eye is about 18 frames/second (the rate at which things look fluid). That means that every 50 seconds, your eye is downloading a terabyte of information. In less than a day, your brain downloads over a petabyte of information via sight alone.

A petabyte is within reach of our technology (although still at a pretty steep cost) but to realize that every one of us absorbs that much data daily is pretty amazing. Biology still beats technology.

07/05/2009

Ahh, the joys of Zack getting hold of the camera.

If you can imagine, there were about a hundred more classy photos like this…

07/05/2009

We had a family badminton tournament this evening because the weather was so darn nice.

This shot isn’t funny because of Kyra, but Alex (in the background) sure makes me crack up.

07/05/2009

… And here it is, the new Schroedermobile.

It’s a 2006 not-gold Honda Odyssey, which we bought on Friday after a few hours of tooling around Denver looking at several. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it is to drive. Even though it’s still a lumbering beast compared to the small-car feel I like, it doesn’t feel terribly heavy or clunky (like the Toyota Sierra we test-drove).

Our first big test will be our road trip to Idaho in a few weeks. We made sure it satisfied all of our needs for long trips. Things like

Laralee getting mad at anyone going slower than 85.

The kids being… well, kids.

So everything seems like it’ll work fine. Woo hoo!

07/03/2009

I just got an email security bulletin from Comcast (yay!) telling me how Comcast is “going to great lengths to help provide your family with a safe online experience”. Gee, thanks guys.

One of their great lengths is offering McAfee virus-scanning software, which is widely known and hated in security circles as largely ineffective, intrusive, and a real performance-killer on a Windows PC. (It doesn’t run on Linux– shame.)

The best part of the Comcast email is the Global Security Threat Level indicator in the top right corner of the message:

I have no idea what that means, but apparently we’re at Critical level. Yikes! Run for the hills! Hide the women and children!

Oh, and I can’t unsubscribe from this junk. At the bottom in the fine print it says

This is a service-related email. Comcast will occasionally send you service-related emails to inform you of service upgrades or new benefits to your Comcast High-Speed Internet service.

In other words, “Screw you, we’re going to send you whatever bad offers and scary-sounding garbage we want and there’s nothing you can do about it. Mwah ha haaaaa!”

07/03/2009

Today we’re going van shopping.

For years I swore I’d never drive a minivan. I mean, everyone knows they’re just not… cool. I love my little two-door sporty car (if a Saturn can really be called “sporty”) and don’t really enjoy driving big vehicles. Heck, even Laralee’s Eagle Vision is too big. So a minivan? Come on, it’s big, clunky, gets poor gas mileage, and makes me look like a soccer mom or something.

Unfortunately my argument of “it’s not cool” didn’t hold much weight versus Laralee’s much more logical “it’s practical” counterpunch. It’s true: as our kids get bigger they’re squeezing a bit in the back seat. Long trips– which we take several times a year for vacation and family visits– get more challenging as we figure out how to pack the trunk. And any time we want to go to dinner or the pool or the store with family or friends (or kids’ friends) we end up either taking two cars or packing about five kids into the back seat and hoping we don’t get pulled over for something vaguely unsafe.

So yes, I finally came around to the “practical” viewpoint and I’ve been doing all kinds of research to find a van that’ll be not only practical, but somewhat cool (as cool as these things can be, anyway) and also get good gas mileage and consumer reviews. In the end it looks like it’s going to be the Honda Odyssey.

Of course everyone has an Odyssey. It seems like every other minivan is an Odyssey– and half of those are gold. My friend Megan just bought a gold one and said it’s impossible to find in the parking lot if you don’t remember exactly where you parked, because there are always at least half a dozen others out there.

I figure if Laralee gets a new vehicle, it’s only fair that I get one too. My choice: the Honda S2000.

A sweet, sweet little ride. But on the practicality scale it makes my Saturn look good. This thing is tiny and has only two seats (at least the Saturn pretends to have a back seat) and a trunk the size of a bread box. Still, loads of fun.

In the end, that nagging sense of practicality will probably win out and I’ll end up with an Accord or something. They get about twice the gas mileage of the S2000 and actually have a back seat.

07/02/2009

Jeff Atwood at Coding Horror wrote an article about how his shiny new database server can’t seem to use all of the memory that’s installed on it, and after some digging he figured out the problem was in the operating system– specifically, Windows Server 2008 Standard. I enjoyed reading his rant, which included:

How many versions of Windows Server 2008 are there? I count at least six. They’re capturing some serious consumer surplus, over there in Redmond.

Datacenter Edition
Enterprise Edition
Standard Edition
Foundation
Web
HPC

All that effort, all that poring over complex feature charts and stressing out about pricing plans, and for what? Just to get the one simple, stupid thing I care about– using all the memory in my server.

Perhaps these complaints, then, point to one unsung advantage of open source software: Open source software only comes in one edition: awesome.

Yep. Awesome. Bite me, Microsoft, and all of your sixteen flavors of Vista. My operating system is free and runs circles around yours.