Browse Month: August 2010

08/31/2010

Vonage does a pretty good job transcribing our voicemail messages and sending them via email. It never gets Laralee’s name quite right (lately it’s been showing up as “Dr. Marley”) but overall it’s impressive.

Today we had an automated message from the school, and after the English version they always have a Spanish translation. Vonage tried its best but failed in a hilarious way.

Just a minutes. I have got some supplies and no money and that court book. You can. My Nana’s late start. Just giving a split in a static key. I left on said they love my Nana, so must been put on the football work that me and but the oldest of fives the key in there. We met you said one but I don’t like you.

!Impresionante!

08/30/2010

On Friday evening we biked over to the Longmont Main Street Festival because it sounded fun. It was a beautiful summer evening, and four blocks of Main Street was filled with booths, shows, performers, and thousands of people.

There was a photographer offering to take pictures. She had some goofy items in a costume box, so I grabbed a sombrero. Unfortunately it didn’t fit, so I handed it to Zack and grabbed a nice red feather boa instead. The picture was… umm…

Just as we were finishing, Jack Sparrow sauntered up. And I mean “sauntered”… this guy had an amazing costume, and even walked like the famous Disney pirate. He posed for a few pictures as well (he had nothing to do with the photography studio). He even had a spyglass!

Tonight when I was poking around their web site to see my pictures, I saw Captain Jack’s as well:

Although I’m not about to pay the $15 for a digital proof of my picture, I wonder if ol’ Jack is going to get some of his.

08/29/2010

When I was 18 I bought my very first computer: an Apple IIgs, which was the top-of-the-line Apple model at the time (1990). It set me back a little over $2,000 but was fabulous during my first year of college. It had amazing graphics and sound (hence the “gs” in the name) and was way ahead of the competition– notably IBM clones running Microsoft’s MS-DOS. The Macintosh, which had been first released a few years earlier, didn’t have the processing power or color screen of the IIgs. So all in all it was a great piece of hardware.

I was waxing nostalgic a bit this evening, so I surfed over to eBay to see if people still sell those twenty-year-old computers. To my surprise and delight, there’s apparently a thriving market for the IIgs! Not only can I buy a full system– for $150 or so– but people sell games and software on ancient 3.5″ floppy disks as well. I’m almost tempted to buy one, just to remember those heady days of the start of the PC revolution. Almost.

Stepping even further back in time, I remember the old Apple IIe we had at home. I suspect mom and dad bought that puppy around 1984 or so, when computers at home were rare (we were the only family who had one for a long time). Ahh, the crazy cool games we played back then: Apple Panic and Night Mission Pinball and Black Magic.

I even taught myself how to program on the Apple IIe. First I learned BASIC, then stepped into assembly (yes, I figured out how to program 6502 Assembly on my own), and managed to write all kinds of software ranging from text-based adventure games (Zork was king then) to low-level disk drive routines that increased the data density of the 5.25″ disks we used back then.

Wow, I’m a geek.

Funny, though, how twenty-five years later I’m still programming, and in fact making a decent living at it. You never know what silly childhood hobbies will endure into adulthood…

08/29/2010

Today I finally had a chance to throw our copier out the window.

It’s a great copier, but it broke about two and a half years ago and despite my best efforts, it was simply irreparable. So we bought a new copier for Laralee’s office, and the broken one has literally been sitting on the floor beside it for all that time. I kept meaning to chuck it out our second-story bedroom window onto the driveway, but the time never seemed right.

With the impending hardwood floor upgrade to our entire downstairs, we’re in the process of moving everything out of the office (including the mammoth six-hundred-pound desk La uses). It just doesn’t make sense to move a broken copier and then move it back in when the hardwood is installed. So the time had come.

Everyone gathered on the driveway while I maneuvered the copier into the open window. Alex took pictures on repeat mode while I tossed it, but unfortunately they ended up completely blurred out because he forgot to focus. The copier actually didn’t sustain much damage on the first toss, so we went for a second throw with Laralee taking the pictures. Unfortunately you can’t see the magnificent end-over-end spin I put on the copier, although it hits with a nice solid bounce.

Toner blew up everywhere and plastic parts managed to scatter across the entire driveway. Awesome.

08/26/2010

Today I received an email from some sales guy in Poland who must’ve looked on the Zing web site to get our contact information so he could write to us about a potential business relationship.

His company does 3D modeling. Although I think 3D modeling is pretty cool, and did some fun stuff many moons ago with realtime space simulation software, I have a hard time picturing how it’s going to apply to the web development work we do at Zing.

Nonetheless, I went to his company’s web site– more out of a morbid sense of curiosity than anything else– and was treated to an project portfolio that included an amazing 3D hamster!

Now that’s something that every web site could use!

Or, umm, not.

08/22/2010

It’s been almost a year since I updated my photos online. They’ve been sitting on my hard drive here at home but it takes some time to upload them, label everything, and so forth. With nothing really stupendous to do tonight, I decided to sit down and spend a few hours updating everything.

So now the photos are up-to-date; click the camera icon on left to see them. Hopefully it won’t be a year before I do it again…

08/21/2010

This morning as I look at my email inbox I see that some enterprising spammer has decided to capitalize on interest in celebrities. I have a bunch of messages about various people who have died. Each message has a few lines about a plane crash, and an attachment you’re supposed to open to read more which, of course, contains a virus.

Oh, and of course the all-important “You need matching size for those hooters”.

I hate spammers.

08/19/2010

Today at ultimate we had pretty balanced teams. Seven-on-seven with two subs each, and a good lineup on both sides. My team lost 5-7 in a hard fight. Since we had some time yet (we play for a little over an hour) we decided on a second game to five points.

Greg (on my team) rallied us and said we should play the second game hard and shut them out 5-0.

So we did.

Since that game went so quickly, we all decided there was time for a third game, this time to three. I invoked Greg’s inspiring plan and said we should win it with another shutout, 3-0.

And lo, we did.

That was a lot of fun. We played hard, and the other team came really close to scoring a few times but we managed to slap it down or force a bad throw or whatever. And we got lucky on a few deep passes and diving catches. All in all another great day on the ultimate field.

08/17/2010

Every night for the past week or so, a big spider has descended from somewhere above our front porch to spin a web right near the porch light. We’ve named her Miss Prudy, and it’s fascinating to watch her at work.

During the day the web gets destroyed, because it’s right where the front screen door swings open. Or the wind or rain take it down. Regardless, every night a little after dusk she creeps out of her lair and spins it again. The work goes surprisingly fast– the web is complete and ready, and then she sits right in the middle waiting for someone to fly into it. The location is brilliant: since it’s near the porch light, and we always get moths and little bugs buzzing around the light, it seems inevitable that some of them get trapped on the web.

Although Laralee and the kids all agree they wouldn’t want Miss Prudy crawling on them (she’s a pretty big spider, and fairly nasty-looking), we get a kick out of watching her work and wait for dinner…

08/17/2010

Here’s some sweet uptime on a server I manage:

10:21:41 up 1553 days, 14:24, 2 users, load average: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00

That’s four years, three months without ever rebooting. And counting. Rock on, Linux!

08/15/2010

On a whim we decided to head up to Rocky Mountain National Park for some hiking. The weather’s gorgeous– not too hot today– and hey, it’s Sunday afternoon and there’s not a whole lot else to do. So we piled into my car (not the van for a change!) and drove up there.

Much to our surprise, it turns out that today is National Park Free Day, and we were waved through the gate without any fuss. We had planned to drop 80 clams on an annual park pass, which we’ve done every year for the past fifteen, so it was great to slip through for free.

The kids voted for Alberta Falls, one of their favorite hikes in the park, so we rode the shuttle up to the trailhead and enjoyed tromping along through the fresh smell of Ponderosa pine.

What a beautiful day, and a great hike.

The kids posed for a fun little Sears ad sort of picture:

Alberta Falls itself. The picture doesn’t really do justice to the size of the waterfall.

And of course a little critter.

08/12/2010

This evening we made our annual pilgrimage to Lakeside amusement park, a turn-of-the-century (that’s 1900, not 2000) place down in Denver that gives out free passes to kids who complete a summer reading program at the library. I don’t know if we’d ever pay to go there, but since it’s free we’ve made it an annual tradition for the past six or seven years.

All three kids brought friends, so we had a gaggle of half a dozen running around the place riding the roller coasters and the whirl-and-hurl sorts of rides. Whee! A good time for all, especially since the weather held and it ended up being a gorgeous night despite forecasts of thunderstorms.

On the way back home we pulled off I-25 somewhere between north Denver and Longmont, heading out east into farmland looking for a spot without a lot of city lights. We found an old gravel road, pulled over, and climbed out of the van to look at the night sky. Far enough from the city lights, we could see the Milky Way stretched across the sky in its dusty splendor.

After our eyes adjusted a bit for night vision, everyone was able to spot a few meteors here and there. It wasn’t prime time viewing for the Perseids yet, but the kids were thrilled to see a few shooting stars. Then we piled back into the van and headed home, tired after a long day.

Good times.

08/05/2010

I’m officially an internet celebrity. My friend Jeff posted an entry for me on Wikipedia under Shoeless Jeff:

Shoeless Jeff is a legend in his own mind, and a towering figure in Boulder Ultimate.

While other Ultimate players worry about which cleats to wear, how many pairs of socks to bring to a tournament, and the best way to deal with blisters, Jeff blithely ignores all that. While other players are ‘cleating up’, Jeff is curling his toes into the lush summer grass, and dreaming of patchoulli, hippie chicks, and jambands.

Despite these handicaps, Jeff somehow still manages to hold his own with some of the slowest, most egregious swill-throwers in the league, and hardly ever slips and busts his ass.

Rumor has it that as he gets older, he’s discovering the benefits of playing in shoes, leading one to wonder if the “shoelss Jeff” moniker will stick, or will he have to be called “Shoed Jeff”, “The Jeff previously known as Shoeless”, or just plain old “Old Fart”.

Due to Wikipedia’s moderation guidelines, I don’t know how long it’ll stay up before someone in charge yanks it, but for a brief moment I enjoyed my fame and had a good laugh.

08/04/2010

So a few months ago Bill Gates and Warren Buffett challenged the billionaires of the world to give away at least half of their wealth, with the intent of changing the world. One could argue that both of these men have already made a huge impact with their generous contributions to many causes, so it was really cool to see them call others to action.

They created the Giving Pledge list, which now includes about thirty people with over a billion dollars in net worth– all of whom have pledged to donate the majority of that money to worthy causes. (The causes are selected by the donors.) We’re talking about a serious amount of money here, all for good.

Without getting too political in a feel-good post here, I can’t help but wonder what other world-changing things could happen if, say, the United States government stopped spending billions of dollars every month in Afghanistan. They should take a hint from these generous people and consider how to make a difference that doesn’t involve bullets and smart bombs.

08/03/2010

Just back from the Rockies game tonight with the Zing crew.

Good times as always, despite the 10-0 spanking we received at the hands of the Giants.