Well, I can finally check “taxes” off my to-do list for the year. They actually went more smoothly than in years past, maybe because Laralee and I have been tracking our expenses in a better way. I ended up filing some extra paperwork to correct a tax mistake I made in 2014 (sigh) but I think everything is squared away and now I can sit back and wait for my refund…
I’m doing some server work, and I accidentally reconfigured one of the servers to use Spanish. I set up the locale just as you’d expect:
As anyone can see, there’s a typo in that command. “es” is the language code for Spanish… I meant “en” for English. It took me a few minutes to figure out why suddenly all of the text from commands was being shown in Spanish…
Back in the Day (as in, before the internet), you could spout whatever “facts” you wanted, and people couldn’t prove you wrong without going to the library and checking out a book.
I’ve been trying to break Zaque of two bad habits for the past couple of months. One is that he takes off his shoes when coming in the front door after school, and just leaves them there until the next morning. The other is that when he’s working at his little computer desk, he often has snacks and leaves glasses, plates, and crumbs on Laralee’s desk (right beside him). In both cases, I’ve been nagging him but it hasn’t worked.
A few days ago I struck on an idea. I would charge him one cent for the first infraction, and then the price would double every time he forgot to put away his shoes or clean up his snack. On day one, he failed on both accounts, so he owed me $0.03. I mentioned to him that the power of doubling is amazing: after a month of not putting away his shoes, he would owe me a little over ten dollars.
Since then, he’s taken care of it every day. Apparently three cents was all it took to break him of his habits…
So today I had planned to spend the morning installing some new hardware at BitRelay: a server, a switch, and a backup disk array. It was all pretty innocuous, and I figured I’d be home a little after lunchtime to hang out with Laralee and Zaque and enjoy the Presidents’ Day holiday.
Well, I forgot to bring the disk array with me, which meant I had to make another trip and basically spend three hours in the car (it’s a 45-minute drive each way to the datacenter).
And when I installed the new switch, for reasons unknown to me, my entire network stack went down. That meant all of the servers were running but couldn’t be reached from the internet, so for about 15 minutes a whole bunch of clients were calling and emailing me and my team asking why their web sites were down. Meanwhile, I was frantically plugging and unplugging things, hoping that I could fix whatever had happened and get everything running again. In the end, I really don’t know what happened because rebooting the network stack twice seemed to resolve it. Ugh.
By the time I was finished it was evening, and then I had to write an explanation (and apology) to my clients so they understood what had happened and how I’d keep it from happening again. That’s never a good conversation to have.
In a little ray of sunshine, one of my clients responded with this:
Nice. That helped to remind me that despite my feeling that it had been a disaster of epic proportions, in the grand scheme of things, 15 minutes of downtime isn’t really all that big a deal.
One of my clients has prepared a rather extensive contract to cover the web site work that Zing does for them. We’ve been going back and forth for several months (yes, really) about some of the terms and clauses, and we think it’s finally in a place where it’s acceptable to both sides. So this afternoon I’m reviewing all 34 pages of legal language, which includes countless sentences like this:
Wow. What a fun way to spend a Friday afternoon, huh?
Zaque thinks it would be great to open a mortuary whose slogan is
“We put the FUN in funeral!”
Yesterday I had a bit of a hankering for caramel cupcakes, my second-favorite dessert. Laralee and I went on a walk and stopped at the grocery store to pick up supplies, and I went to work.
Mmm, sugary deliciousness. Since I can’t really eat 24 cupcakes by myself, I’ll probably bring some of them to tonight’s Super Bowl party…
A few days ago Kyra called me because she was having a bit of a rough day. We talked for a while, and I did my best to remind her how awesome she is. Afterward I decided to order a big tub of Red Vines– her favorite candy– and ship it to her as a sort of “cheer-you-up” surprise. I hopped on Amazon and placed an order for a five-and-a-half-pound tub.
Fast forward to today, when a box shows up on our doorstep. I was surprised because I wasn’t expecting any packages. I opened it and found the Red Vines. Dang it… I’d forgotten to change the shipping address from my house to hers!
So now I have five and a half pounds of candy that I don’t even like.
This stuff is made out of petroleum or something; I don’t know what substance it is, but it’s unnatural.
Realizing my mistake, I ordered another tub and double-checked the address. Hopefully Kyra will enjoy it sometime next week. In the meantime, I’ll probably bring this thing to seminary or something, where I’ll have seventeen half-asleep teenagers willing to help devour it.
During some server work today, I noticed this in the kernel log:
[14857.359477] Dazed and confused, but trying to continue
Hah, “dazed and confused”. Some programmer in the depths of time had some fun writing an error message.
When I go to the National Weather Service site to get the forecast for Longmont, the URL looks like this:
Notice the latitude and longitude: it’s specified fifteen decimal places deep! Doing the math, that means NOAA is providing forecasts for a spot on the earth that’s accurate to about 10 picometers. That’s roughly the width of about ten atoms.
I know computers and weather prediction techniques have come a long way, but it’s amazing that we can narrow down a forecast to a few atoms!
The Predictor pregnancy test has a tagline “When you want to be sure”.
Do you think this couple is unsure about her pregnancy? They certainly seem surprised by the test results. (“Oh, thank goodness… I thought this was just a weird fat phase I’ve been going through after eating all of those quesadillas!”)
Last night Zaque was contemplating some teenage zits and said, “Man, if I could squeeze all the pus out of my body, I’d lose five pounds.”
You wouldn’t think we could have another real estate bubble. But I just saw a graph showing the median home price in Longmont over the last decade. Hmm. That looks bubbley to me.
This is from Zillow, which of course means you have to take it with a grain of salt. Or maybe a whole shaker of salt. Still, it’s pretty clear home prices have been climbing at a rate that’s not sustainable…
Zaque has an old wooden desk in the back corner of his room, where he’s set up a sort of “workbench” (as he calls it). He enjoys tinkering with electronics and motors and wires and whatnot. Mostly it involves disassembling things and poking around at the guts, then considering how to combine them with other parts. For example, his current project is installing a small motor inside a flashlight casing. Why, you ask? No one knows.
It’s fun to watch him, and to have him show me his latest “invention”. It reminds me of… well, me.
For Christmas, Kathy gave me a couple of old books. They’re part of a series by Isaac Asimov entitled A New Intelligent Man’s Guide to Science, and I have Volume I (physical sciences) and Volume II (biological sciences). (Zaque asked if there’s a series for dumb men…)
Asimov is one of the most prolific authors in history, mostly writing science fiction, but he has the rare distinction of having at least one book in every category of the Dewey Decimal System.
What’s cool about these particular books is they were written almost sixty years ago. Science has changed a bit since then!
It’s fun to read some of the content and reflect on our progress during the last half-century. We’ve come a long way since Asimov’s day.