Summary: Day of the Dead with Danny, Phil, and Drew; Mongolian Ping Pong and potluck at ynotswim's; Stanford Shopping Center and helping Honmas set up house; Boulette's Larder and Borat and Patrick cooks dinner for my birthday; Jonathan and Adrian's birthday and housewarming party; Thanksgiving feast with Patrick, Mom Ryan, Sam, Danny, Phil, Drew, Antuan, and Kartik; Macy's Treelighting Ceremony in Union Square; Golden Dragon Acrobats with Patrick.
Dates on this page
Woke up early, worked on Corinna's website. Telecommute day. Confluence work. New news and updated Partnerships section for Susie. Website infrastructure: added local stylesheet capabilities. Lunch at home with Patrick: turkey burgers and fries. More Confluence work. Lots of good Flickr work. Dinner at home with Patrick: he made yakisoba for the first time. Watched V for Vendetta on DVD.
Admissions pages updates for James. Staff meeting. Confluence work. Set up a laptop for Joel. We got our free flu shots. I think this is the first year they made it free to all faculty, students, and staff. Very nice. Lunch with Joel: takeout sandwiches from the cafeteria. Helped student LN set up Outlook on a laptop. More admissions pages updates. Began coding new Preview Session web pages for Joel. Met Danny, Phil, and Drew at 24th and Mission BART for Day of the Dead. Danny forgot to bring his jacket, so since I had my jacket and my Gap Kids yellow raincoat on top of that I let him borrow the raincoat. Ran into some pharmacy students at the parade. Lost PDD somewhere in the crowd. Home. Set up Patrick's new $15 Oregon Scientific alarm clock (RM313PA) which sets itself automatically and projects the time onto the ceiling. The last time I tried a clock which claimed to set itself through radio waves, it didn't set itself properly, but this one did in about 5 minutes. Nice. And we were worried that the projection would be the wrong way because it's not adjustable (flippable), and their website doesn't make this clear at all, but it is the way you'd expect: if the clock is facing the foot of the bed, you can lie in bed and see the time correctly on the ceiling. So far I like it. Late meal: Annie's shells and cheese.
Front office procedures followup with Cindy. Envivio plug-in troubleshooting with Cindy. Preview session web page testing. Listserv management for Joel and for student VT. Confluence work. E-mail work for Cindy. E-mail problem followup with student LS. Takeout lunch from Panda Express. My fortune: The riches of others makes you more valuable. Confluence work. Flickr work. Patrick cooked dinner at home with Danny, Phil, Drew, and Mom Ryan: organic mixed greens and dill, spaghetti and meatballs. PDD brought over really delicious cream puffs.
I discover this morning that Google Maps Saved Locations is frustratingly not optimized for keyboard accessibility. The page doesn't use the accesskey attribute at all. I then learned that there is at least one group of accessibility specialists that believes you should not use accesskeys at all. Wikipedia's entry for accesskey says that the W3C has deprecated the accesskey attribute in XHTML 2 in favor of XHTML Role Access Module. Woke early, worked on Corinna's website. Breakfast at home with Patrick: leftover cream puff, egg scramble. Worked on Corinna's website, tidied. Grocery shopping at Safeway with Patrick. Lunch with Patrick: leftovers from last night, a turkey burger. Baked a dessert for tonight. Patrick prepared an entree. Mended a shirt. Ordered a new Brother MFC-845cw all-in-one network printer, network scanner, telephone, answering machine, network fax machine, photocopier. Showed Patrick how to pay some of our bills. Helped Patrick make cow fried rice for tonight. Showered. Potluck and movie night at ynotswim's place. Patrick and I picked up Jonathan and Adrian beforehand. They invited us in to their new home in the Castro / Upper Market, the top of 3 floors in a 4-unit building. It was easily the nicest home I had ever visited in San Francisco. Patrick and I both enjoyed the vast, clean, and minimalist open spaces; the total harmony of the decor; and the feeling of comfort it gave. Adrian had just finished one part of tiling the fireplace; the grouting remained to be completed. We stopped briefly at KFC for them to pick up some fried chicken—they had both been too busy to cook today. ynotswim's new apartment is on Russian Hill which is well-known for its difficult street parking. Patrick and I dropped off Adrian and Jonathan at the door with the food and found a parking spot on the street within a few blocks and a few minutes—I think we were lucky. The film we brought was Mongolian Ping Pong, and we did this at Tony's place because he has the largest TV of everyone we know. Dinner: cow fried rice (Patrick), sticky rice (Peter), special onion bread (what is this called?) and tea eggs (Tony), KFC (Jonathan and Adrian). Dessert: sticky rice with mango (Danny, Phil, Drew), ginger bread cake (Frank). 26 minutes into the film 9 out of 10 viewers decided to stop the film and watch something else, so we did. Tony also had 24 Hours on Craigslist, which is a documentary about people who use Craigslist. I thought this film was better than Mongolian Ping Pong, but parts of it were still hard for me to watch because I couldn't deal well with the non-linear format. For example, it would take one person's story, chop it up into, say, 10 or 20 pieces, and interleave that with similarly chopped pieces of 2 or 3 other persons' stories. Parts of it felt like it was made for people with very short attention spans. The dizzying scenes with short cuts of voiceovers combined with words and phrases animated on the screen in all directions made me feel like I needed to see a psychologist. However the film as a whole was still enjoyable. See it if only for the Asian woman near the end who seems to talk about only one thing. On the drive home, we realized that the KFC bucket says "Kentucky Fried Chicken" again. Wikipedia has been updated to note this fact, but it doesn't say why the company reversed its 1991 decision.
I forgot to mention yesterday Adrian and Jonathan's place had so much wonderful art that I felt like I was in a fine museum. My favorite breakfast at home with Patrick. Digital housekeeping. Processed photos. Voted absentee ballot: 30 minutes. Wrapped 2 gifts. Showered. Drove to my sister's place. Rob's mom and her stuff had arrived. Rob, his brother Victor, and not-my-Patrick had unloaded the truck before we arrived; the truck had arrived earlier than expected. Lani wasn't home with the kids yet—they were seeing a kids concert of some sort—so they took off for lunch and Patrick and I went to Stanford Shopping Center for some lunch and shopping. We ate at Long Life Noodle Company, Inc. (650-324-1110, 393 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto). Double happiness and ginseng gingerale for me, pork chow fun and black lychee iced tea for Patrick. My fortune: To remember is to understand (34, 25, 11, 27, 49, 2)—Learn Chinese: Miss You (Xiang-nian ni). Patrick's fortune: To let another into your heart, first let yourself in (34, 2, 14, 8, 16, 7)—Learn Chinese: July (Qi-yue). Patrick was amused by the t-shirts worn by the staff (specifically one busboy) which say on the back: "Slurp it up!" We left to shop. We were looking for shoes for Patrick but instead found some casual shoes on sale for me at Macy's. Patrick and I helped Lani install a key and letter holder and also apply ConTact paper to shelves in the kitchen. They treated us to dinner at Satsuma Japanese Restaurant (650-966-1122, 705 East El Camino Real, Mountain View). Patrick and I shared 4 large rolls of sushi. I don't remember the names of them.
Usual oatmeal breakfast. Helped Chris troubleshoot a problem printing to network printers. When I last worked on his laptop I had uninstalled a lot of things and turned off a lot of services to make it run more efficiently. (It's rather old.) I turned on one service that was required for network printing, turned it back on. Helped Cindy resolve a problem finding Excel files in a pick dialog. Met Sue Abby and installed for her the Message from the Dean template and gave her training on using it. Lunch: sandwich from Subway, ate on the steps in the sun. Took a UCSF survey. They said it would take 15 to 20 minutes, but it took me 90 minutes instead. E-mail problem followup for student LS. Spent the rest of the day working on code for the student database on the web project. I made a lot of progress. Home. Worked on Corinna's website. Dinner at home with Patrick: salad and pizza. Bought tickets for Borat on Friday at the new Century theatre in the Bloomingdale's shopping center. Processed and uploaded photos. Reworked level 2 backups to be more efficient and to resolve "access is denied" problem with Iomega Rev Automatic Backup Pro (IABP). I believe the software doesn't let you back up across computers (i.e., a network drive) but I'm not certain—I thought this worked in the past but now it no longer works and I was unable to resolve it even with the latest IABP software and even after recreating the backup configuration from scratch. I worked around it by copying the file over from the other computer using a custom XXCOPY script then IABP would back up the files just fine. Weight training: modified barbell curl, lateral raise. Late snack: cherry yogurt.
Pruned a few bookmarks. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Patrick is at jury duty this week. He dropped off our absentee ballots at the voting place before heading to the courtroom today. Today is the first day I noticed that regular users with admin privileges were offered IE7 in Microsoft Update. Virus handling assistance for student JP. Helped Cindy with a frozen computer. Helped Chris with printing problems again. Student database on the web work. Flickr work. Lunch from the cafeteria: rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, mixed vegetables. Home. Worked on Corinna's website. Dinner at home with Patrick: leftover pizza, leftover pig chow fun for me, salad for Patrick. Worked on Corinna's website. The Iomega Rev "Access is denied" error message is back—argh! I think I need backup software better than Iomega Automatic Backup Pro or I need an entirely different solution. For instance, I could use two ultraportable hard drives, keeping one in the data safe and the other out for daily backups, then swap them as frequently as I can. No backup software needed—just XXCOPY—very simple.
A person I spoke with at the California DMV today said essentially that the reason they send driver's license renewals so many months in advance (I believe it was 3 for me) is that it takes that long to process them. Since the renewal form didn't say "IMPORTANT BUREAUCRACY WARNING: WILL TAKE 3 MONTHS TO PROCESS," I had no way of knowing this, and not wanting to give the government my money 3 months in advance of when they were supposed to have it, I waited until about 3 or 4 weeks in advance to send my payment, which I realize now was a mistake since I'm no longer legally permitted to drive after my birthday until my renewal arrives in the mail. When I returned to California in 2000 after living in Seattle for 7 years I remembered enough from my childhood to know that one should deal with the DMV only when necessary and that you essentially need to make extra concessions for that agency because it is so inefficient and bureaucratic—perhaps more so than other government agencies. One cannot hold the DMV to realistic expectations of service, and this is no exception. Fortunately, I don't need to drive very often, so I don't think this will present much of a problem. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Student laptop virus removal work where I solved the puzzling problem of Sophos Anti-Virus failing to install. The problem was really strange—the beginning of the installation proceeded normally, but near the end the progress indicator ran backwards and then the installer appeared to finish but Sophos was not installed, and I knew because the Sophos blue shield did not appear in the system tray as expected. I restarted, then ran McAfee Stinger which found and removed a variant of sdbot. Restart again and now Sophos is able to install successfully. Restart again and run a full scan in Sophos and it finds and removes two more viruses. Restart again, turn off System Restore. Restart again, turn on System Restore. Run a full scan in Sophos and it's clean. Run a full scan in Webroot Spy Sweeper—it finds and quarantines a bunch of registry keys. There appears to be no way to delete them from the quarantine—the checkboxes are grayed out. Restart, run full scans in Sophos and Spy Sweeper—it's as clean as can be now. Today Esther showed me her secret blog and subsequently asked me to not read it. Lunch with Patrick at Hahn's Hibachi. I think I've only been here twice before. Once Joel and I ate here and there were huge, bothersome flies in the window next to where we ate. The window is really big and it looks right out onto the sidewalk, so it's nice, but the flies caused us to not return for years. The other time I also came with Joel and we were seated at a table (or maybe we sat ourselves after no one greeted us) and waited perhaps 5 or 10 minutes and no one came by to give us menus or take our order or anything so we got up and left. Today Patrick and I had a similar experience—the place is so small that there is no greeter so eventually I picked up 2 menus and we essentially sat ourselves at a clean table. There were no flies today, and service was better than before, but the food was only okay. The BBQ chicken was good, but the BBQ beef (cow) had gristle along the edge—Joel would have hated it, and I actually did. Flickr work. Student database work. Applications training for Scott. Showed Chris Parallels. Home. Dinner at home with Patrick: pasta with red sauce. Afterwards, we watched funny things on YouTube.
Usual oatmeal breakfast. Flickr work. Student database work. Researched docking stations for Mac laptops—how disappointing that there appears to be nothing except bookendzdocks.com. Chris is choosing between the latest MacBook Pro and a Dell. He already has a Dell docking station. Apple doesn't make their own docking stations. Bookendzdocks is slow to deliver docking stations when Apple releases new hardware. This could be the pivot point that pushes him back to Dell, unfortunately. And since Bookendzdocks is the only vendor for Mac docking stations, they can pretty much charge what they want, and it's not cheap. Set up e-mail for Steaven, our temporary replacement for Ena. Chatted briefly with Ena. Lunch from the cafeteria: roast turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn off the cob, cranberry dressing. Met with Cindy. Made live draft winter schedules. Updated current students calendar. Flickr work. Student database work. Began installing Firefox 2.0 for the staff. Homemade Vietnamese dinner at PDD's. PDD had rented Spartan (2004) on DVD which is below my imdb threshold of 7.1, but we watched it anyway. It was really kind of horrible and also disturbingly violent. Why would the writer (or anyone) make the protagonist someone who is so obviously cruel and coldhearted that he would willingly maim, torture, and kill people in order to achieve his "objective" of justice (in this case, saving one particular person who happens to be the daughter of a wealthy and powerful white man)? How are we supposed to identify with that? That's no hero; that's more like our current presidential administration. Much of the dialogue and plot was snickerworthy, and we in the audience frequently had to check in with each other: "Do you know what's going on?", "Why did he do that?", "Who is that?", "How did he know to go there?", "Why are those news people there?", and my favorite during the farm scene: "Huh?" The answers are all there (pretty much) but it's work figuring it out. A kind of thinking person's violent action film (-- a new genre?), but this film is not smart like it could have been. This film could have been an examination of what justice means and whether the end result justifies the means to get there. The very end reveals the final bombshell: "Written and directed by David Mamet." Roger Ebert gave this film 4 stars (I can't tell out of how many tho), and he specifically praises the film's dialogue as though he was David Mamet's best friend. Left PDD's at about 10:35 PM. Got to the BART station at 10:45 PM. Waited 5 minutes for a BART train to Civic Center station. Took a street MUNI shuttle bus to Castro Station. (MUNI is doing temporary construction in the tunnel between Castro and Embarcadero.) Discovered at Castro Station that the next train home was 40 minutes, so we took a cab instead and got home in 15 minutes. I forgot to mention that a couple of days ago on an inbound N train I chatted briefly with Bill L who was on his way home. I can't remember what day that was—Day of the Dead?
House chores. Cut my hair. Showered. Tina got me a big box of dozens of homemade cookies as well as a beautiful watercolor painting she made and a collection of photos on cdrom. Patrick and I met Mom Ryan, Danny, Phil, and Drew at the Ferry Building Marketplace to eat brunch at Boulette's Larder. We had seen in BK's photos that they had beignets, but we hadn't realized that they serve them only on Sunday. We enjoyed a delicious brunch nonetheless. PDD got me a gift certificate for Beard Papa—yummy! Afterwards, Patrick, Danny, Phil, Drew and I went to the new Century San Francisco Centre 9 to see Borat. It seemed this film was immensely popular; its imdb rating was 8.4. My co-workers Scott and Esther tried unsuccessfully to see it last weekend; it had been sold out. I had also seen the word "Borat" appear in subject lines for spam (!), so you know you've made it when spammers think interest in your film will generate more eyeball traffic. I thought parts of Borat were extremely hilarious, but overall I was disappointed because the film was more crass and rude than funny. I feel misled by people who said things like, "I could not stop laughing." The film's subtitle should have been "What happens when you break the rules of social etiquette in American society." Afterwards we did a little shopping. I would have spent $40 at H and M on a necktie, but the line was too long for just one item, so I didn't purchase it. Grocery shopping with Patrick at Tower Market. Home. I napped while Patrick cooked an amazing dinner: homemade pumpkin soup, Patricia Wells's roast chicken, homemade ginger-peach-passionfruit iced tea, homemade pear tart, Seattle cherry sorbet. Reviewed Tina's photo-cdrom. Processed photos. Listened to voicemail messages from my sister's family. Many thanks to all who sent me e-wishes! There were so many of you!
Usual oatmeal breakfast plus coffee at home with Patrick. This morning I tried to find something funny I had seen before on the net but could not find again today. It is the GIF or JPG image of a script summary of Star Wars with certain names, locations, et cetera crossed out with the corresponding names, locations, et cetera written in for Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. It's a humorous item which shows how these 3 films have a common plot. I found one image on themovieblog.com posted on October 25, 2006 that was almost exactly the same thing, but it compared only Star Wars and Harry Potter. If you can find the original, please let me know. Installed Quicktime updates. I noticed today that you cannot easily update Quicktime with Apple Software Update without also installing iTunes—in case you needed an additional indicator that Apple was evil and essentially no better than Microsoft in some practices. Updated Mike's hosts file. Updated KeePass. Lots of digital and meatspace housekeeping at home. Installed Firefox 2.0 for OS X at home. I finally found time to browse velcro.com and their new-since-the-last-time-i-saw-it website now has project ideas which my ex, Michael O'Brien, used to do in his apartment such as the no sew roll-up window shade. Got rid of a lot of junk today. The old all-in-one scanner, printer, copier is gone, and so is the old paper shredder. Lunch with Patrick at home: leftover chicken and pumpkin soup. Dinner at home by myself: leftover pasta with sausage and red sauce. Patrick is spending the evening with AJ. Continued troubleshooting "access is denied" error messages with my Iomega REV and Iomega Automatic Backup Pro software. Installing REV system software 184.108.40.206 seemed to resolve the problem. Figured out how to prevent iTunes from appearing in Apple Software Update. Somehow I missed it, but ATI Technologies, Inc. got swallowed up by AMD last month. Wow! Repaired a bathroom water faucet whose spout had gotten clogged with gunk. Continued work on emergency preparedness plans. Prepared to disassemble an old computer.
Usual oatmeal breakfast. PDD stopped by for a little to drop off a laptop hard drive and say hello. Spent most of the day setting up their laptop.
Usual oatmeal breakfast. Laptop setup for Scott. After upgrading from Win XP Home SP1 to Win XP Pro SP2, I attempted to install Windows updates through Microsoft Update but kept getting 0x8007043C. Stinger found no viruses, nor did Sophos. The suggestions given by the Microsoft Update website did not work, either: I refreshed the page, emptied the cache, restarted IE, and revisted Microsoft Update, but the problem remained. I did the same in Safe Mode with Networking—problem still remains. Scott says he wiped the hard drive only 2 weeks ago, and he doesn't care if I wipe it again, so tomorrow I'll do that and start with XP Pro SP2 from scratch. While restarting the MacBook today I got a warning from FileVault saying it needed to recover disk space so I clicked Continue and it proceeded to "recover disk space" for the next several hours—how long does this take? I found lots of messages on the web saying that FileVault sometimes corrupts data and it is, of course, unrecoverable. Some reports say early versions of FileVault were sometimes problematic in this manner but that it is stable now, but I disagree. I put the computer to sleep, but I have a feeling I'll need to reformat this hard drive and lose what feels like about 4 weeks of work setting it up. At least we haven't put any other valuable data on the laptop. Lunch with Joel at Ten. Listserv updates for Cindy. Installed Firefox 2.0 and KeePass 1.0.6 on many office computers. The UPS for my computer needs a new battery. Dinner at home with Patrick: tomato-based chicken stew. Today has been very rainy. I received a late birthday gift from Steve M—a Dan Savage book on my Amazon wishlist. Thanks, Steve! Chatted with Steve by telephone. Burned a cdrom of photos for Remi. Weight training: modified barbell curl, lateral raise.
Student computing committee meeting. Laptop setup for Scott took essentially the entire day. After a forced shutdown (hold the power button for about 6 seconds) the MacBook restarted without problems contrary to what I expected after yesterday's FileVault scare. However, I ran into a problem logging in—it would not let me log in to the Windows (Boot Camp) side of the computer until I removed the computer from Active Directory, unjoined it from the domain while logged in as local admin, and rejoin it. This was problematic because it took me a long time to figure out what the problem was and how to resolve it. Made live Joel's preview session page. Chatted with Susie on the phone about an upgrade to our faculty web page listings. Lunch with Joel and Ena at a Chinese restaurant near Ena's workplace. Joel's fortune: An old friend will introduce you to new people and pleasures. Ena's fortune: The luck that is ordained for you will be coveted by others. My fortune: You will be successful in your career. Cindy, Scott, and I interviewed one of our candidates to replace Ena. Spent a very frustrating several hours trying to resolve the problem described in Iomega Answer ID 16274. Pressing the eject button on the REV drive did not make the disk eject as expected. Their support document suggested shutting the computer down for 15 seconds, restarting, then pressing the eject button again—this did not work. Home. When I got home Mom Ryan and Patrick were watching Ellen on DVD. Dinner at home with Mom Ryan and Patrick: Patrick made ginger shrimp with bamboo rice.
Attended a web seminar for Google Apps for Education, took a lot of notes. I think we'll be watching their rollout but we've only just migrated to Exchange a few years ago and I think it will be hard to migrate away from it. As Google improves their offerings, though, it will become more attractive. The office threw a huge potluck to celebrate (late) my birthday. It's our most concerted potluck in recent memory. Met with student HO to discuss laptop problems—her computer needs a new hard drive because it was making noises and Office would hang when she tried to start it. Figured out how to remove accidental line forwarding from our fax machine phone line. If someone happens to send a fax using a number beginning with   it will accidentally forward faxes to some other number because   is a special code which tells the phone system to forward a number. To remove forwarding, you must send a fax to  . Interviewed a candidate to replace Ena/Steaven. More laptop setup for Scott. Had a great, long chat with Rosemary on transit. She says Rob is returning in 2 weeks. Hooray! Dinner at PDD's with Phil, Drew, Danny, Patrick, and Julian, who Patrick and I met for the first time. They talked about nails, mostly, and how to run a nail salon, Thanksgiving plans, pralines.
Helped Esther set up the laptop for a Mike Lu pathway presentation. A bunch of us had a going away lunch for Alex at Nan King Road Bistro. John, Beth, Julie, Thom, David, Jayson, Ricki, Tony, Mark. Alex is leaving us to join a web consultancy. Chatted with student ZK about problems accessing STOR. I've been able to reproduce the problems and I don't understand them myself. Waiting to hear from Pat for an answer. Faculty page edit for Ellie. Preview sessions web page followup with Joel. Finished up laptop setup for Scott. Made live graduation filing forms and web page changes for Cindy. Home. Leftover pad thai for dinner. Patrick got home lateish. I unjoined the Guess Where SF group on Flickr after submitting a second dupe—it's just too embarrassing and I didn't really have the time or worldliness for it anyhow. I notice today that tinyurl.com now offers a preview link instead—this is quite helpful to improve trust because when people distribute the non-preview tinyurl links they could, theoretically, lead to a spammer or hacker browser exploit. I use tinyurl.com a fair amount and will be using the preview link instead from now on. I think it should be the only option. Kevin on Tuesday said there's a way to block even Google's text-based ads on web pages. I don't have time now to look into this, but it sounds worthwhile if I start to use more Google services like Gmail. Kevin says the blocking is very effective and when he temporarily used IE for a while he couldn't use it because the ads he encountered were too painful to deal with and in Firefox everything adlike is (or can be) blocked. Wrote thank you cards.
Usual oatmeal breakfast. Course recordings policy followup with Kevin. Chatted with Melissa. Computer maintenance for Joel. Chatted with Susie. Chatted with my sister. Pathway declaration page updates for Cindy. Iomega REV drive troubleshooting, spent a long time in online chat talking with Tracy at Iomega about Answer ID 16274—the light on the eject button blinks on and off at slow intervals and the disk won't eject. Tracy suggested that I power down the computer, remove only the IDE cable, power on the computer, then press the eject button. Since the computer was our server I was unable to do it at that time, so I waited until after 5 PM to do it. This was unsuccessful. Tracy suggested that if that didn't work I should power down the computer, unplug all cables to the REV drive (both power and IDE), then insert an extended paper clip into the emergency eject hole on the REV drive. After several attempts, this worked, but the disk came out only about 1 inch. It took a great deal more of gentle force to get the disk out, and afterwards I could see inside the REV drive an arm with a disk head that was obviously now so bent that this drive was no longer functional. The drive cost us about $400 and had only a 1-year warranty and lasted us 2 years. We have another $400 or so invested in REV disks, but I am really uncertain about sticking with REV at this point. Iomega charged us $30 for the online chat session which in my opinion is unfair because why couldn't the information Tracy gave me have been provided in Answer ID 16274 which is available for free? I believe my problem didn't really need a live technician, so my perception is that Iomega makes more money by not keeping their support documents up to date (even if that isn't really the case). Or, you could argue that they make more money by creating poor quality hardware or intentionally providing short warranties with an option to pay extra for a longer warranty for the same product. Our needs don't really require an unlimited supply of data storage (REV disks) so I think I'll use a pair of large (160+ GB) 2.5-inch external USB hard drives which can also fit in our document safe or go to offsite storage. The warranty will be either the same or better than a REV drive and will cost less, and even if one fails at least I'll still have a way to continue backups while one drive is out for service—can't do that when you have only one REV drive. I'll need to reconfigure how Outlook data gets backed up since some of our staff save essentially every e-mail message which creates 2- or 3-GB daily-changing PST files, attachments and all. Lunch: Panda Express. My fortune: The evening will bring romance. Dinner at home with Patrick: steamed carrots, wild rice, and Patrick's special recipe of homemade breaded and fried chicken fingers. Watched old TV.
Woke around 2 AM and couldn't sleep for 90 minutes, so I got up and figured out a plan for replacing the REV drive at work, then backfilled yesterday's journal entry. I noticed yesterday that Google finds only 22 occurrences of the exact phrase "write once, crash everywhere" which surprises me—I thought it would be a lot more. House chores. Lunch with Patrick at home: leftovers. Cut my hair. Showered. Napped. Dinner at King of Thai Noodle with Patrick. Patrick went home to write and to get to bed early so he could wake up at 4:00 AM for shao lin practice with Simmone. I went to Jonathan and Adrian's quite possibly flawlessly designed home—they were throwing a combination birthday party for Jonathan and a housewarming for their new place in the Castro / Upper Market. Jonathan is a user interface designer who was previously with Adobe but is now with Google as of about 6 months ago. Adrian is a banker. A sign written with Andy in mind warned guests to keep 2 things on. Pablo tended the bar most professionally, and tons of people showed up mostly between 10 and 11. (We think many left to go clubbing afterwards.) The party was a lot of fun. I ended up chatting with Adrienne and Rob whom I found friendly and engaging (Adrienne worked with Jonathan at Yahoo!) and I also met Kevin C and Cuong N. Kevin and I had worked together at Adobe remotely—him in San Jose and me in Seattle—a fair amount, but I had never met him until today. We started around the same time and he's still with the company, by which I think he's surprised, himself. I thought perhaps Kevin knew Jonathan from Adobe, but it was Cuong who knew Jonathan from Yahoo! He informed me that Sau and Stephen have 2 adorable children and that Sau is now working with the video product line. Remi and Jesse are newly returned from France, including a trip to Remi's hometown of (I can't remember the name). I met and chatted with many others, though I can't recall everyone's name. Their neighbor Teddy (Ted) declined when I offered to take a photo of the three. Anime ran silent on the flat-screen TV—Miyazaki's Kaze no tani no Naushika (1984) and TenkŻ no shiro Rapyuta (1986)—while the latest house music played on the stereo. I forgot to bring a cdrom of my camping trip photos for Remi. I stayed late and chatted with a handful of other latestayers, and 318ti-buddy Ryan gave me a ride home. I have photos but haven't processed them yet. At home, the Iomega Automatic Backup Pro error message "Access is denied" with my REV drive backups is unexplainably back. After the REV drive at work failed last week and my corresponding experience trying to right the wrong, I feel I must begin to abandon Iomega. My REV drive at home still works. I spent about an hour installing a trial version of Retrospect just so I could retrieve 13 kilobytes of Stickies data for Joel which he happened to lose just after the office REV drive went kaput. I spent some time today researching backup options; I feel like I did this only a few months ago. Go back to XXCOPY? Go with CMS and their BounceBack solutions? Go with Amazon S3? More research is necessary before a decision can be made. The Brother MFC-845cw all-in-one device I ordered a few weeks ago has had its delivery date pushed back, worst case is now another 2 weeks. There are 2 other internet stores that claim to have it now, but it's about $60 more than Amazon's price. I don't need it that badly. I've waited this long; I can wait 2 more weeks to save $60 and buy from a trusted source. Several weeks ago we bought an OfficeMax-branded paper, cd, and credit-card shredder. I've been really happy with it because it is much improved upon our previous shredder. I will write a review later.
Usual oatmeal breakfast. House chores: laundry, bird poop removal from the car, dishes, tidying. We are wrapping up our landlord-provided space heaters in plastic bags and putting them in the garage because we never use them—our energy bills last winter made us realize that we can't afford this kind of heat in our apartment and so we'll just bundle up in ski caps and jackets instead. Lunch at home with Patrick: sandwich, tortilla chips. Napped. Dinner at home with Patrick: corn on the cob, leftover wild rice, wine and mushroom chicken and herbs. Worked on Corinna's website. Wrote a thank you card. I haven't been running or weight training very much lately. I stopped running because my knee was hurting occasionally. It's not anymore, but I've been lacking energy lately.
Usual oatmeal breakfast. Everyone had trouble accessing the server when I arrived at work. The server had done an automatic restart because of Windows Updates and since I took out the REV drive last week it stalled during boot because of CMOS settings. I started the server then at the end of the day revised the CMOS settings. Did surgery (Win XP repair) on Steaven's computer because it wouldn't start properly—it was stuck in a loop of Microsoft apologizing for the inconvenience. Surgery was successful—remember the tip: use the 2nd repair option, not the first, and all will go well. (I feel a little like Indiana Jones in the 3rd film.) Had to restore PharmAdMIT settings for PharmAdMIT users. Restored Stickies for Joel. Had to do validate the PharmAdMIT databases—one of the tables had gotten corrupted. Worked around a missing master password problem in PharmAdMIT for Scott by installing to one client and pointing it to the server's data. Posted a new news story for Susie, broke some pages due to the changes I'm making for the student database project, but I pulled out my backup tarballs and was able to easily restore and resolve within a few minutes. Got everything live and correct. Lunch with Joel at Ten. He had just seen the Dixie Chicks on Friday and watched the Lady Vols game against Arizona yesterday. Figured out what in my code was making our news pages display nothing—a change I had made to the breadcrumbs code in order to make it work with the student database project. Handled photo requests for student AV. Followup work with lecture recordings policy (Kevin, Joel). It's very quiet in the office this week, perhaps because we have Thursday and Friday off and perhaps because the quarter ends on Wednesday and then next week is finals week for our students. In the evening, Patrick and I got burgers, fries, onion rings, a chocolate peanut butter shake (Patrick) and iced tea (me) at Johnny Rocket's, about $30 after a $4 tip. I received a package from Chris and Nate today—a late birthday present with 2 books (wordless diagrams by Nigel Holmes, Lapsing Into a Comma by Bill Walsh) and 1 music cd (Michael Jackson's Thriller, Special Edition) from my Amazon wish list. I opened my gifts while waiting for our food at the restaurant. Thank you! Afterwards Patrick and I went to a showing of Almodovar's Volver at the Clay Theatre using passes that ynotswim had given to Ryan but Ryan later decided he couldn't use. The film was very good and we both enjoyed it a lot. Patrick meets with Simmone in the early morning every Tuesday and Thursday, so no more late nights on Monday and Wednesday for him—it's too much. Recently I started reading Dan Savage's Skipping Towards Gomorrah. Recently Patrick has been reading The Dragon's Village, an autobiographical novel of revolutionary China by Yuan-tsung Chen. We received D and C's wedding invitation today—it's beautiful, from the hand-lettered calligraphy address on the outside to the tiny, genuine seashell inside. I notice today that on one of my Windows computers Webroot Spy Sweeper doesn't stop running within the first couple of minutes after starting. We recently updated to version 3.1; I don't know if that has anything to do with it. I haven't seen this behavior on any of the computers at work so far.
Usual oatmeal breakfast. It was another awful morning on MUNI. I don't want to talk about it except to say that it took me 1 hour and 25 minutes to get from home to UCSF Laurel Heights and that I waited an extremely long time at Market and Castro and eventually 3 bus 24s came within a 2-minute timeframe. The headway was supposed to be 9 minutes, so this theoretically would have been 27 minutes' worth of busses, which matched what I saw. The first was completely full, of course, so I got a seat on the second one, which eventually caught up to the first one anyhow, of course—it was less than a minute behind. I had left an hour before my meeting was to start and ended up being 25 minutes late! Days like this I absolutely hate San Francisco. I spent the morning at a Distributed Computing Support and Technical Support Partnership class given by Joan M at Laurel Heights. The class was worthwhile and Joanie and Jen and I had a great lengthy chat at the end. I suggested that the IT Governance committee include recommendations regarding CSC-to-customer ratios, and everyone seemed to think that was a great idea (the audience was CSCs). Stopped by Ena's workplace to quickly say hello but she wasn't in. Lunch at Eliza's by myself: lemon shrimp with brown rice. My fortune: The longest day has an end (40, 1, 39, 4, 44, 10). Created instructions for connecting to UCSF STOR/CDS from off-campus with OS X through SSL VPN. Jen Nourse helped me figure out a solution. Chatted briefly with student NT. Lecture recordings followup with Kevin, Joel K, and Cindy. Checked in with Joel about his Stickies. Updated Cindy on the backup drive situation. Home. Patrick made me a shake with the following ingredients: peanut butter, banana, pear, milk. I tasted a few sips but didn't like it much. Dinner at home with Patrick: spaghetti and chicken boob chunks in red sauce. Chatted with Jeremy. Left a message for Drew. Processed and reviewed photos. Slashdot has a story about a security vulnerability with Firefox 2.0 and older versions in which saved passwords can be compromised under certain conditions. Checked to see what passwords I have saved, and it turned out to be none. Changed settings to be more strictly secure, did the same with Patrick's computer, and made a note to warn office staff tomorrow. Weight training: modified barbell curl, lateral raise, front raise. I've noticed today that the Flickr Uploadr is occasionally failing partway through uploads. The upload is not completed, and the photos that were uploaded are not put into a set as expected. The Uploadr is left with the remaining photos still to be uploaded, so it's not difficult to recover from this problem, but it is annoying because it used to work perfectly every time. Grrr! I uploaded 3 separate batches today, and I encountered this behavior every single time.
I forgot to mention yesterday I installed and used TrueCrypt for the first time. It's like creating an encrypted disk image in OS X but not as slick or easy. I still haven't figured out how to make TrueCrypt behave more like FileVault or encrypt an entire drive that already has Windows XP installed on it. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Found the owner of a USB drive left behind in one of our computer labs. Helped Scott resolve problems with PharmAdMIT. Pathway declaration web page update for Cindy. Student database work. Initiated REV disk return. Helped student JL with e-mail. Followup with students ZK and AN. Lunch: takeout sandwiches from Subway with Joel. Dinner at home with Patrick: chinese food delivery: deep-fried wontons, combination chow mein, spinach. My fortunes: You will never know hunger. Someone is speaking well of you. Patrick's fortunes: Love is a necessity to you. The light of a hundred stars does not equal the light of the moon. Shopped online. Worked on disaster preparedness. The Iomega REV "Access is denied" error message appears to have gone away—my logfiles no longer show it appearing in recent backups. I don't like that it behaves inconsistently like that—how do I know if my data is safe that way?
Iomega REV "Access is denied" error message is back again. I slept in while Patrick cooked all morning. Afterwards, Sam picked us up. We picked up Mom Ryan and headed to Phil, Drew, and Danny's where we had a Thanksgiving feast. Antuan and Kartik also attended. Patrick cooked a maple-bourbon-glazed turkey breast with butter-apple herb stuffing, creole sweet potato casserole, and five-cheese (2-year cheddar, extra sharp cheddar, sheep's milk cheddar, parmesan, asiago) baked macaroni. Danny cooked Vietnamese beef stew with hot bread, Vietnamese spring rolls and peanut sauce, Vietnamese salad with shrimp chips. Home. Chatted with Chris and Nate. Watched a bunch of funny television news bloopers on YouTube—hilarious! (found on stufffromkevin's blogspot via twisesq's delicious bookmark). Watched Picard get crazy with the alphabet (thanks, Chris!). Did some online shopping and holiday gift shopping strategizing.
Slept in. Made cookies to send to Jeanne who says she can't get them in Malawi. Took a nap. Went to the Macy's Treelighting Ceremony in Union Square. We took MUNI in (it stalled at Castro Station so we got out and took the F-line the rest of the way) and met Mom Ryan, Danny, Drew, Phil, Quyen, and Jeff downtown and walked over. The square was completely overflowing with people. The southwest entrance was impenetrable, so we walked up to the west entrance where at least the taller people in our group could peek in a bit if they stood on their tiptoes. A woman sang Joy to the World, then the Jersey Boys sang Oh, What a Night! and Here Comes Santa Claus. People where I stood complained that they couldn't hear and that the speaker system was awful, but hey this isn't a Disney production (yet). Santa appeared (I never did see him) and the lights on the tree were turned on. The actual lighting was rather anticlimactic—about 2 seconds afterwards I was thinking, Okay, how do I get out of here and find some food? We followed the event with dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant at Jones and (Eddy?) where we were amused by the manager who rushed us and other parties through our dinners because the restaurant was closing in 35 minutes. The food was just okay—my beef stew with rice had a lot of tendon that I did not enjoy, and Danny said the pork in his dish was flavorless. I noticed this morning that macys.com was completely unavailable, most likely due to poorly predicted server loads for holiday shopping.
Slept in. Patrick made my favorite breakfast. Showered. Today he had a surprise event for me. We went to Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley to see a performance by the Golden Dragon Acrobats. Beforehand we got pizza slices at Blondie's. These descriptions don't do the acts justice, but here they are (and I might not have the order correct near the beginning): cocktail glasses balanced on 4 limbs, umbrellas spun and balanced on feet, soccer balls spun and balanced on feet, metal bowls balanced on a pole held by teeth while standing on ladders, hats juggled and swapped and tossed in the air, men tumbling through hoops on a bench, dishes spun on long wires, a pair of men in poses balancing their weights against each other, giant wheels. Intermission. A man spins a woman suspended along a thin ropelike fabric, (I can't remember what this act was but it began with a metallic fabric stretched across the stage which was made to resemble water.), spools juggled along string held by two sticks, man does handstands repeatedly on a stack of chairs adding a chair each time until he reached the ceiling (this was Patrick's favorite), finale with a Chinese dragon walking across a pivoting plank while atop two large round balls, 10 (?) people riding a single bicycle, and more acrobatics. All the acts were fun and amazing to watch. My favorite was the bicycle, even though it didn't last very long. We sat in section C Orchestra in row D, seats 109 and 110, $42 each. Just before the show, we tried to send Jeanne her chocolate chip cookies, but the man at FedEx said it wasn't possible. The computer wouldn't permit a package containing food or cookies to be sent to Malawi. And even if it did, he said it would cost about $160 to ship overnight! We sadly took the cookies back and will try DHL next week. Dinner in Berkeley with Patrick: burritos. Home. Paid bills. Bought airline tickets for D and C's wedding. Wrote a thank you card. Bought gifts online. Took apart an old computer to prepare for getting rid of. Digital housekeeping.
Patrick spent the day with Aaron. I stayed home and slept in. Today was very rainy. House chores. Processed photos. Worked on Corinna's website.
Breakfast at Rain Tree Cafe or maybe it's Cafe Rain Tree. Helped Joel with a problem filling out a PDF for reimbursement. Discovered in the process that I don't have access to print in the IRC anymore, sent Rodney a message about how to fix that—we use print charging software called PaperCut and I didn't want to mess up his configuration. Also notified Rodney about a bad-sounding hard drive in one of the computers in his lab and also asked him about restoring an e-mail account for one of our students. Helped student DE with questions about IE7. Helped student MH understand Barracuda spam firewall. Filed a ticket with OAAIS about that student getting a link that doesn't work in a spam quarantine message. Reported to Dell a problem viewing a message in their forums. Sent an item for return back to the stockroom. Reviewed SATE posters work. Prepared supp app for students entering in fall 2008. Did research for a new backup solution. Amazon S3 is compelling, but not quite ready in features yet. For example, that the modified date of backed up files becomes the upload date is a dealbreaker for me. There are a myriad of utilities attempting to become the S3 backup tool of choice, and each of these software tools has requirements of its own—too many layers and points of possible failure for me. And it shouldn't even be this expensive. Cindy announced our new student affairs assistant will start on Friday, and her name is Alyssa. Grocery shopping. Home. Dinner at home with Patrick: pasta with leftover turkey in red sauce, bread and butter. Patrick baked coconut raspberry rum banana bread because I asked him to. Actually, he put it in the oven and went to bed, and I took care of pulling it out at the right moment and setting it on a rack to cool. Worked on Corinna's website. Created a pair of area and inset maps, inserted it, and fine-tuned the maps and directions page. To do: fix the header, fix the nav bar, put a compass on the map, create print stylesheets, send draft summary and questions to Corinna.
Usual oatmeal breakfast. Student computing committee meeting. Staff meeting. Chatted with Frank M about the clin pharm website and intranet. Lunch at Cybelle's with Joel. Joel had a monster slice of hawaiian with a side salad with 1000 island. I had a cheddar burger on english muffin (it came that way) with home fries. Mailed two packages at the post office: one was Jeanne's cookies (airmail, about $30, takes about 5 or 6 days I think) and the other was my broken Pelican VersaBrite II flashlight which I had to return for replacement because the twist head was so sticky that the neck started bending and cracking. Chatted with Sue Abby about her html e-mail template. Helped Scott with something I can't remember now. Helped Lucia with a problem with legitimate messages going in to her Junk E-mail folder accidentally. Worked on the student database on the web project, made a lot of progress. I'm needing to convert code written in PEAR DB to PEAR MDB2. This abstraction really hasn't paid off for me because PEAR DB was deprecated so I had to rewrite my code anyhow. Fortunately, that part of this project is not the hard part—much of the code will remain the same. Renegade sent me an e-mail today commiserating with my Iomega woes of November 17. I believe that backing up data has actually gotten harder than it was 15 or 20 years ago because of the personal computer revolution. Before personal computers, backups were handled only by professionals who were paid money to pull and pop giant data cassettes on and off of mainframe spindles. You could pretty much bet that they knew what they were doing. With personal computers, backup tasks are the responsibility of people who do not have the patience for the decisionmaking that must take place in order to have a successful and reliable solution. Who can blame them? The learning curve to using tools like Retrospect Express or Iomega Automatic Backup Pro is still too high, in my opinion. In the past 2 years, I can't tell you how many computer users I have encountered who bought one of those one-button-backup external hard drives only to have no backed up data when they needed it. When they first came out, I thought they were great and recommended them myself. However, I must admit now that they are not a very good solution. The reasons vary because there are so many points of failure. Real life examples: I wasn't using it because I didn't know I could use it for backup. I kept getting these error messages, but I didn't know what they meant. I did a synch and suddenly the files I wanted were gone. Apple's Time Machine in the forthcoming OS X Leopard might have the right idea. The first time I heard about Time Machine, I wondered, "Okay, but how much disk space is that going to require?" Now, I'm thinking that that doesn't matter. Disk space is cheap and getting cheaper, and what's expensive is data loss or time lost attempting to figure out if you even have the data backed up so that it can be restored. Time Machine has a lot of what I require in backup: extreme simplicity, incrementality (progressiveness), scheduling. Apple's pre-release description makes it appear that you can back up to an OS X server or, presumably, any network drive available—this would make it ideal in an office setting. If it works, no more spending hundreds of dollars on Retrospect, and it appears to be simple enough that users can handle their own restore operations—no admin is required to do backups or restores! It remains to be seen if you can put 2 Macs on a home network and configure them to back each other up—that would be nice. What's missing from Time Machine that I'd like: encrypt and back up incrementally over the Internet to your friend's computer offsite. For example, I would be happy to purchase more hard drive space to offer friends of mine free backup services if they were willing to do the same for me. In the long run, I think this is less expensive than both of us paying for online storage services such as Amazon S3. Bonus if Time Machine were able to specify more than one mirror of your encrypted data. For example, we could have our data backed up in several locations which vary geographically so that if, say, California were to split in half, I could retrieve my data from our friends in Chicago or Paris. Even with slow upload speeds on asymmetric Internet connections, you generally speaking have time on your side and your data will probably be mirrored (backed up) before a failure occurs. (And you should be doing a local backup anyhow, too.) Wrapped Christmas presents. Late dinner at home by myself: vermicelli noodles, wontons, spinach, baby bok choy in chicken broth. Worked on Corinna's website.
Usual oatmeal breakfast. Somehow I missed that Adobe announced Acrobat 8 on September 18 and shipped it on November 2. Our office skipped version 7 because we're trying to save money and I couldn't justify the purchase for any of 7's new features. It has been problematic a few times because other offices who have 7 sometimes send us PDFs which use features only in 7. I knew Acrobat was due for upgrade soon based on the regularity of their previous releases (I think it was about every 18 months). I am hoping version 8 launches faster than version 6—that's my biggest gripe with Acrobat. The only other thing I really need in a new version of Acrobat is better control over specifying tab order for form fields but I believe Adobe will probably not address this in my lifetime. In Acrobat 6, you can have Acrobat automatically detect form field order in left-right-top-bottom or top-bottom-left-right order or you can manually click each field in the order that you want. None of these work well for some forms I have because the automatic methods aren't perfect and the manual method requires exactness in clicking that is impossible because my forms have dozens of fields, some of which are obscured by overlapping objects. If you misclick, your tab order is lost and you have to start over again. Oh, one more Acrobat 6 gripe: half-point line borders on cells in Microsoft Word tables which have background colors applied convert to PDF with poor integrity on screen and upon printing—the line is partially not formed at the top left corner of some cells. There is no way for me to know if any of these things are fixed unless I install the tryout, but we need to move to Acrobat 8 anyway for compatibility with others. (Or do we?) Chris has decided to get a new MacBook Pro to replace his Dell Latitude D800. Installed OS X updates for home. Got lots of Flickr work done—home page. Dinner at home with Patrick: chicken with angel hair in red sauce. Watched part 1 of Romeo and Juliet (1968) on DVD.
Usual oatmeal breakfast. Tried listening in on a UC conference call about Google Apps for Education but disconnected when I realized it was really only people asking lots of questions and no one providing answers. Followup with Rodney about student HB's e-mail. Met with Cindy. Late lunch: roast turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, corn off the cob, cranberry dressing, coffee. Chatted with Susie on the phone. Chatted with Chris about USB drives, portable apps, databases, ePHI. Spent part of the day setting up Chris's new MacBook Pro and, once again, spending hours trying to connect OS X to Active Directory. I neglected to write down the steps I used successfully in the past, so I had to relearn everything again. Found Erik's very useful guide (which worked for me in the past), tracked down his erratum posted in an e-mail message to the listserv, still cannot get it to work. It fails on Step 5 of the binding process—the gay beach ball spins and spins and if I wait a really long time (20 minutes?) I eventually get an error message that says something like "unknown error." Chris decided to go with Apple instead of Dell, so my plan to switch everyone in our office over to Apple hardware (if not Apple OS X just yet) has begun. Well, it actually started when I bought the MacBook a few months ago to replace our 5-year-old Dell Latitude C400. Soon Apple hardware will rule the world! Their software won't until OS X gives us keyboard shortcut accessibility that matches the keyboard shortcut usefulness of the now-14-year-old Windows 3.1. How can one expect to rule the world without decent keyboard shortcuts? I really thought that no docking solution for the MacBook Pro was going to be a dealbreaker for him, but I was wrong. He decided yesterday to make a purchase, I gave him advice about what he needed, and today he brought a box into my office: "Can I leave this with you?" (But of course!) Within minutes I was starting it up and turning out all my lights and figured out how to make the keyboard backlighting turn on. I put my palms face down over the left and right portions of the keyboard, and it felt somewhat like a religious experience. Brought home the new Brother MFC-845cw all-in-one multifunction device I purchased for home. It was a pain to do so with only the bus, but as I haven't received my new driver's license yet, I rather didn't have much choice. It was only 5 days ago that Amazon sent me an e-mail saying there was a delay and that the expected ship window was several weeks from now. Yesterday I received an e-mail saying it had shipped, and today I received it. I'm glad I waited instead of placing my order somewhere else. Wrapped a gift. Dinner at home with Patrick: leftovers and cornmeal crust pizza. Chatted with Tina on the phone. We talked about getting old. Backfilled November 27 about the new Ena/Steaven, though I imagine that backfilled data is interesting probably only to Melissa. Wow, it's the end of the month already?! Alyssa starts tomorrow, and our office is excited to have her join our team. Scott has been great, and so have our temps Steaven and Esther. One more permanent hire to complete, and the office will be whole again.