Tonight I was working on some stuff, and Alex needed me to come upstairs. With a little help from mom, he called my cell phone and I answered.

“Hi dad.”
“Who is this?”
“Alex who?”
“Alex Schroeder.”
“I don’t know anyone named Alex Schroeder.”
“Yes you do. I’m your kid.”


Alex: “Kyra, you’re a pooter.”
Kyra: “You shouldn’t call people that.”
Alex: “Why not?”
Kyra: “Because it’s not a nice word.”
Alex: “Yes it is.”
Kyra: “Then call yourself a ‘pooter’!”


The tally is in. This year I sent 8,024 e-mail messages. That’s an average of 22 messages every day.

Yikes. No wonder I feel out of touch when I’m on vacation or whatever, and can’t check my e-mail for a day or two…


So at 2:00 this morning the city of Boulder lost power. It was out for three hours, during which time the facility where I’m co-locating my web servers had a diesel generator running. Around 4:00 the generator sprung a fuel leak and shut down, so my UPS batteries kicked in. They lasted a little over half an hour, and then all my computers shut down.

When the power came back on, four of my systems rebooted themselves. The other two didn’t. This was, of course, a problem– those were the database servers. I woke up to clients calling and asking where their web sites were.

Although this is really just a case of bad luck, it goes to show how complicated it is to keep servers going all day, every day. Fortunately my clients are understanding; they could easily fly off the handle and scream at me about incompetence…


Today I was struggling with writing some web code that would work in both Netscape and Internet Exploder. Of course Microsoft has put together their own little flavor of Javascript, so the stuff I was writing worked just fine in Netscape but gave big ugly errors in IE. When Laralee came into the office and asked how I was doing with stuff, I explained my woes. Her response about Microsoft:

“They’ll burn as stubble.”


For the first time, Alex read a book entirely on his own. It’s part of a big ol’ collection called “Learn to Read Storybook” or something. I had it as a kid, and my mom copied the first few (easy) stories and bound them. He breezed through the first one, even though it was mind-numbingly dull:

I see a bee.
I see a tree.
I see a bee fly to the tree.

It goes on for about fifty pages. However, these are all words that are easy for kids to figure out, and Alex did it. I was pretty proud.

I hope to have him reading “The Lord of the Rings” next spring.


Win the battle, lose the war?

I was in court yesterday, suing a former client who refused to pay for work I’d done. After a year and a half of broken promises, I finally went to court over the issue. I won– by default– because the guy didn’t even bother to show up. Yippee, I should get my money now, right?

Of course not. Now begins the exciting process of “discovery” where I submit papers to the court (at cost to me, of course) to force him to reveal his debtors– clients or otherwise. I could also ask for bank account numbers, but I have those. The problem is, I called the bank to see if there’s enough money in the account to cover the court-ordered payment, and there isn’t. He could easily open a new account somewhere, use it instead of the old one, and I’d never know. More to the point, he could refuse to disclose his debtors and I wouldn’t have anywhere to turn to get the money.

So I’ve learned, through hard experience, that you can be a complete idiot and refuse to pay for things, and in the end you can get away with it. The only way I’ll ever see my money is if I persist– perhaps over the course of a year or more– and in the end it’s a question of whether it’s worth my time and headache to collect.



At times it’s hard to be a “nice guy” in business. This morning I had a meeting with a longtime client to discuss a project that would mean several months of steady work and a check for fifty grand at the end. Yet as we were talking about the project, it became apparent that what I was proposing might not be quite what they really needed.

So, rather than trying to push them into a solution that would’ve been expensive (although very cool), I suggested they explore some other options and have me do some integration work, rather than full development. I probably cost myself the contract, and certainly won’t be taking home the big check, but in the end I feel better about it. After all, I’m in business to help clients. Paying the mortgage is just a nice side benefit.


Alex to Kyra:

“I noticed that your burps are almost as loud as mom’s.”


I’ve got bilingual kids. Tonight at dinner Zack was standing up in his chair (a favorite pastime) and Kyra– always the disciplinarian– pointed at him and shouted:



At the airport the other day it was hard to tell which group outnumbered the other: the security screeners or the passengers. There was literally an army of white-shirted FAA people running people through the scanners. It was almost comical, seeing a line of people standing at attention (with their rubber gloves on) waiting for the chance to “wand” someone who sets off the beeper.

This time I left my pocketknife at home.


Laralee and I saw “The Two Towers” this afternoon. Opening day, of course.

All I have to say is that the movie is awesome on a grand scale– yet at the same time, it has disturbing digressions from the plot in the book. It’s as if Peter Jackson took the characters and the situations from the book, and kind of made up his own little story with them. Even
more so than FOTR, this movie twists characters and events in a way that may make for good cinematics but, in my opinion, lessens the story Tolkien wrote.

Anyway, it’s fun to watch and I’ll definitely get the DVD (will there be an extended edition with another hour of footage?)…


I spent all day yesterday working on Christmas cards. First I picked a bunch of pictures, resized and cropped them, and tiled them into a big (page-size) mosaic. Then I spent an hour or so writing the big ol’ form letter. In one sense, I despise form letters because they’re terribly impersonal– and everyone knows it. In another sense, when I’m sending 200+ cards I don’t have a lot of choice.

In the Good Old Days ™ I would handwrite a couple paragraphs in every card I sent. People got their personalized messages, and everything was good. The years went by, and each year I find that my list of recipients has grown. At some point it just became impractical to write so much… sadly.

After finishing The Letter, I put my printer through its paces. It’s a color laser printer– very sweet– but I’m running dangerously low on my drum kit life (whatever that is). So I was just hoping the printer would make it through 200 front-and-back solid full-color pages. It did.

Then came the envelopes. Usually I print address labels (recipient and return address) and then we spend a bunch of time peeling them off and sticking them on each envelope. Instead, this year I printed directly on the envelope, which allowed me to put a cute picture of the kids in Santa hats right on the envelope.

The last step, of course, was the actual folding, stuffing, and stamping. Laralee and I worked together this morning and did all of them in about two hours. That included brief (one-line, mostly) handwritten messages to each person, and in the end we had a huge stack of stamped envelopes.

Now I’ve got to do another 40 or so for my clients…


Today’s Client Moment is sponsored by Sprint, my bandwidth provider.

A client sent me an e-mail with an attachment that’s 155MB. Yes, that’s megabytes. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an e-mail message larger than perhaps 10MB or so. He definitely takes the cake with this one.

The real problem occurred when I tried to run it through my spam filters and it brought the software to its knees. After disabling the filters, I’m trying to download it (again) and will see what happens.


One of the great songs in music history is U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”.

I was listening to it and thinking how funny it is that although I’m nearly 31 (yikes!) I indeed haven’t found my path in life. While I don’t necessarily believe in fate or predestination, I think everyone has a mission, a goal, to fulfill. I also believe that at some point– maybe when you’re 12, maybe when you’re 88– you know what that goal is.

I still haven’t found it. But I’m having a good time looking.


Wow. My BitRelay servers have survived their trial by fire… over the past five days, one of my clients’ web sites was hit 3.4 million times by more than half a million distinct users. I have no idea what the guy did to get that kind of traffic (neither does he), but it brought my network connection to its knees and slowed down all the other sites (obviously, since there was quite a line to get in!).

Still, I can’t help but be a little proud that the server handled 3.4M page requests– along with all my other client web and e-mail traffic– without even a burp.

Linux rocks.


Tonight I received another sign that I shouldn’t even attempt to do projects around the house.

For reasons unknown to mortal men, the electricians who wired our house put several light switches in places you’d never expect to find them. The worst is the dining room, which actually has TWO switches: one in the kitchen and one in the stairwell (?).

Almost as annoying as their placement is the fact that since they’re double switches, either one can be used to turn on and off the lights. But the way they were installed, if the lights are off one switch is up and one is down. So you might have to flip the switch up to turn on the lights– or, you might have to flip it down.

A minor thing? Sure it is. But it sure gets annoying after a while. So I decided I’d be a manly man and fix the problem. It’s a simple concept: remove the faceplate from the light switch, flip the switch itself and screw it back in, and put the faceplate back. Surely someone with a college degree can handle this…

As I was mucking around with the switch (keep in mind there were TWO switches in this particular wall box; one controlled the stairway lighting) I must have bumped the wrong wire into the wrong other wire. There was a crack, hiss, and (no kidding) a shower of brilliant orange sparks flying out of the receptacle. Not surprisingly, the lights went out with it.

Okay, lesson learned: I should’ve gone to the breaker box and turned off the power. But– and this is the icing on the cake– the electricians labeled the breaker switch “kitchen lights”. I would’ve never even known which breaker to shut off!

Yeesh. I should stick to web programming.


Wow, this is awesome! It’s a letter from none other than Christ, and apparently he got my “contact” from the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry! I’m really glad I registered with them.

Now I assume all I have to do is give Christ my bank account number and I’ll be rich…

———- Forwarded Message ———-

Date: Sun, 8 Dec 2002 02:08:56 +0100
To: jeff@neobox.net



I got your contact from the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Following this and other investigations resulting in a good recommendation. We have decided to contact you to help us with the legal Transfer of US$28,600,000.00 (Twenty-Eight Million Six hundred Thousand United States Dollars).


Wow, today’s been one of “those days”. After a great lunch with my friends Scott and Derek (I haven’t seen Scott in nearly a year; he was literally touring the globe) I came back to several client disasters. People needed emergency fixes; people’s networks didn’t work right; people’s web sites weren’t doing what they should.

None of it was actually my fault or anything, but it’s always hard to be slammed into a wall of requests that all have to be answered immediately. So I plowed through them one at a time, trying to multi-task as other friends sent e-mail and instant messages, and finally finished.

All the fires are out, and now it’s 4:15 on a Friday. Too bad I haven’t even started the work I had planned on spending the day doing!


I saw a posting for a web development job that was right up my alley. It was the same kind of stuff I’ve been doing for years, and mentioned several small, ongoing projects… perfect for my situation.

So I applied, and received a response that was unexpected but hilarious:

“Please send the URL for your content managed site, if you think that will knock my socks off, as that is almost primarily what we are after. And (polite cough), some of it is, er…a little naughty in a naked sense, but nothing at all very naughty. So let’s cross that hurdle and let me know if your hat is still in the ring. I have a mainstream business too, but right now my naughty stuff (all from the UK, by the way) is taking over.”

I had to respectfully decline, explaining that I don’t really want my company’s portfolio to include content management for (polite cough) porn sites.