December 2008

Summary: iMac crashes again; Dinner at home with Remi, Jesse, Chris, and Andy; Dinner at Gaspare's to celebrate the visiting of the Mikes; Office holiday luncheon at Scala's Bistro; apartment partial flooding incident; Christmas Eve at Danny, Drew, and Phil's; my parents and brother come to visit (Patrick meets my dad); Explored the Mission district with Nate; New Year's Eve at Danny, Drew, and Phil's.

Dates on this page

Mon 1

Mailbox too full notification to a student. Sent Susie a new draft of the BTS orgchart. Website archiving. Accompanied Joel to get coffee and bus passes. Created and coded a new pie chart for our funding page, sent it to Susie for review. Susie had orgchart changes, I sent Susie another new draft of the BTS orgchart. "serialize error" using WinHTTrack—resolved this by excluding *.wiki[mp]*. I think now this was causing my earlier problems with not getting a proper archive 2 months ago. (I skipped archiving last month—had no time to do so.) Management work. Calendaring troubleshooting. Lunch: chicken sandwich and fries from the cafeteria. Made adjustments regarding the changed focus group date for CTSTF. Web team meeting with Susie and Eric D: S-926 workspace, BTS website. Dinner at home with Patrick: pig chops, boiled peas, leftover conchigli.

Tue 2

Usual oatmeal breakfast. WeID request followup. Management work. Staff meeting. Annoyed that Apple Remote still doesn't work with PowerPoint in Windows XP as Boot Camp on our MacBook to change slides forward or backward. Lunch with Nate and Joel at Ten. Apple software updates, permissions repair, and disk check for MacBook. Management work. Completed an RFO for a new iMac for our forthcoming digital asset manager, submitted it to Susie for signature. Dinner at home with Patrick: asparagus risotto, chicken-turkey-basil sausage, bread, Smart Balance Light. Watched Casino Royale (2006) on Netflix DVD with Patrick. Afterwards a few minutes after ejecting the DVD my iMac started making really loud noises inside. I cold restarted but it would not start up. I am pretty certain I need to take it in to the Apple Store. Weight training: superslow concentration curl, superslow lateral raise. Finished reading Life of Pi, which I enjoyed.

Wed 3

Usual oatmeal breakfast except no sugars. BTS website meeting at Rock Hall, Lisa bought peasant pies and drinks for the meeting, so that was lunch. Chatted with Eric D and Susie afterwards. Shuttle back to Parnassus. Helped student AP with Outlook issues. Minor web edits. Bowl of Hygeia page edits for Cindy—we're now adding photos of the recipients where possible—woo! Dinner at home with Patrick: pizza, corn on the cob. Apple Store: dropped off my broken iMac. I had to laugh out loud when Paul the Apple genius pulled out a stethoscope and began listening for the strange sounds I reported coming from within the iMac. Estimate: 5 days. Everything with a motoer inside is getting replaced. Home. Stretches. Weight training: various lower body workouts. Stretches. Late meal: hot nonfat milk, cow-flavored rame with fresh garlic and green onions and egg, black seedless grapes which weren't really seedless, black cherry yogurt.

Thu 4

Usual oatmeal breakfast except no sugars. Arrived at work, smelled cigarette smoke in my office, reported it to facilities management. Bowl of Hygeia page update, BTS org chart edit. Chatted with Patrick from FM. He says he will report the issue to Danny P, his supervisor. I gave him my card. Sophos system tray icon behavior followup. More BTS org chart edits, sent to Susie for review. Converted 2 documents PSD to PDF for Sue A. Learned about Sonic online backup services through Twitter—cool! This happens just as I'm searching for an online backup solution to replace Mozy at home. Posted updated draft winter schedules for Lucia. Visited the shopping event across the street in Millberry Union, bought nothing. Lunch at desk: subway sandwich to go, water. Read RSS feeds during lunch. Laptop setup for Cindy. Website manual GS&R—Kathy instead of Kathleen for Giacomini. Uploaded updated BTS org chart. Graduation web page updates for Cindy. Acrobat crashed many times today while attempting to batch-convert 7 Word documents to individual PDFs. Eventually the Acrobat tab in Word 2007 disappeared, so I'll have to reinstall Acrobat now. Management work. Dinner at home with Patrick: tortellini and sausage in marinara sauce.

Fri 5

Usual granola breakfast, hot nonfat milk. Helped Patrick take apart thyme. Mailbox too full notification. Sent Susie a new draft of the BTS orgchart. Website archiving. Accompanied Joel to get coffee and bus passes. Created and coded a new pie chart for our funding page, sent it to Susie for review. Susie had orgchart changes, I sent Susie a new draft of the BTS orgchart. "serialize error" using WinHTTrack—resolved this by excluding *.wiki[mp]*. Management work. Calendaring troubleshooting. I have conflicting data for what I did for lunch today. One set of notes say I had a chicken sandwich and fries from the cafeteria. But I think today was the day that Scott and I found the mystical burrito lady, and I got a chicken burrito from her. Met 1-on-1 with Eric. BTS website: Photoshop and styling work. Dinner at home with Remi, Jesse, Chris G, Andy T, and Patrick. Patrick prepared cauliflower soup with pecorino romano and black truffle oil, roasted cornish game hens with carmelized root vegetables and dried-currant sauce, and chocolate bread pudding with walnuts and chocolate chips.

Sat 6

Candle maintenance. Breakfast at home: black cherry yogurt, toast with Smart Balance Light. Visited the Honmas. Matthew's upper left incisor fell out while he was playing. He immediately ran upstairs with his freshly removed tooth. I stayed for a slice of pizza and then left for Eric's birthday party at the animal farm hosted by the zookeepers.

Sun 7

Slept in. Breakfast at home with Patrick: for me: 1 waffle, 2 eggs scrambled, 1 slice of toast, 2 hash browns, black seedless grapes (not seedless). For Patrick: 2 eggs over medium, 2 toast, 4 bacon, 1 hash brown. Shower. Patrick and I went to Stonestown, shopped some for clothes and shoes but bought nothing. Picked up the iMac at the Apple Store. Home. Began restoring the iMac from our Time Machine backup. House chores: candle maintenance, kitchen cleaning, paper map organization. Nap. Learned that Time Machine hasn't been backing up my data since September 1, so I lost 9 weeks of data. I don't have a complete online backup ever since the disappointing problem with Mozy, and I had not yet decided upon a new online backup solution except to try idrive's free 2 GB trial. So I'll need to salvage what I can from email attachments, Flickr, and iDrive. The process will likely take several weeks. Began installing Apple, Microsoft, Perian, and other updates. The Perian update window opened identically many (12+?) times. I don't know why it did that. It was very annoying. Dinner at Gaspare's with Mike, Mike 2, psychobauble, Nate, Jen, Quyen, Dave, Phil, Danny, Drew, Patrick, Paul, (Mark?).

Mon 8

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Graduating filing web updates. Learned how to reenable the Adobe Acrobat add-in in Word 2007 after it had been disabled following a conversion from Word to PDF that hung while adding tags to the PDF. Listserv management. Management work. Responded to student JP's report of a problem with VPN. Checked out 920 Express—a new lunch option on the 9th floor of Moffitt Hospital. It's basically a refrigerator with prepackaged sandwiches and salads and sushi, some fruit, cookies, beverages, and other small lunch items. Not really great for me, but I can picture doctors and nurses who have only 10 minutes to eat would use it often. Lunch: chicken tostada salad special from the cafeteria grill. Phone meeting with Susie. Posted our job to 2 library job posting websites: AIM USA and BayNet. Lots of management work. Started getting a sore throat and other cold symptoms. Home. Dinner at home with Patrick: quartered bbq chicken legs, steak fries, steamed broccoli.

Tue 9

Called in sick. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Chicken soup for lunch and dinner. Discovered today that Time Machine stopped at the same time as the last hard drive crash 9 weeks ago, so somehow the crash stopped Time Machine and never got turned back on.

Wed 10

Still having cold symptoms, stayed home. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Chicken soup for lunch. Watched Margaret Cho's "I'm the One That I Want" on Netflix Instant Watch feature. It's now available on Mac but you have to install Microsoft Silverlight first. Dinner at home with Patrick: spinach-ricotta ravioli in marinara sauce, bread, Smart Balance Light. Watched Heroes season 3 episode 2 on Netflix Instant Watch with Patrick.

Instructions for deleting Thumbs.db files found on a Mac are easy to find on the web, but I could not find any instructions for hiding Thumbs.db files in Finder. I frequently use VMware Fusion with Windows Vista, and Vista's thumbnail views are, in some ways, better than Finder's in OS X. So the Thumbs.db files are useful to me, but only in Vista. I don't want or need to see them in Finder in OS 10. To make Thumbs.db files hidden in Finder in Mac OS X, there are 2 steps.

  1. Install the developer tools from your OS X DVD. (You'll need the setfile command that it installs.)
  2. Open Terminal and enter:
    /usr/bin/find /Users/abelincoln -name Thumbs.db -exec /usr/bin/setfile -a V {} \;

    where abelincoln is your username. The -a flag for setfile specifies attributes you want changed. V says make the file invisible.

To make this happen automatically, say, at 4:00 AM every day, add this line to your crontab:
0 4 * * * /usr/bin/find /Users/abelincoln -name Thumbs.db -exec /usr/bin/setfile -a V {} \;

To make all Thumbs.db files visible, use a lowercase v instead:
/usr/bin/find /Users/abelincoln -name Thumbs.db -exec /usr/bin/setfile -a v {} \;

I'm using 10.5.5 but this would likely work for older and newer versions.

Thu 11

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Stayed home ill again. Rested and watched TV and ate chicken soup all day long. Watched The Simpsons on hulu. Non-spicy chicken jambalaya, bread, Smart Balance Light. Watched Heroes season 3 episodes 3 and 4 on Netflix DVD with Patrick.

Fri 12

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Been wanting to check out mobaganda after learning about it from Time Magazine yesterday, but the site was not serving a home page when I tried yesterday and again this morning. Yesterday the page wouldn't even load—just a spinning cursor. This morning it was a blank page. Then, I tried again a few minutes later this morning and a home page came up. Weird, unreliable, untrustworthy. Some digging reveals it's built upon Google App Engine—is that the problem? I didn't realize evite got bought by Ticketmaster (IAC) in 2001—interesting. Doodle's home page got a redesign—nice! Minor web edits: closure notice. Holiday dim sum brunch at Ton Kiang with the Dean's Office staff—yum! More minor web edits. Uploaded schedules for Lucia. Investigated Fluxiom. Website occasionally did not serve pages. Hard to remember how to spell the name. Who has digital content management needs and only needs to store 20 GB of data? I guess someone, but not us. Even if I were to use Fluxiom for home, I have way more than 20 GB of creative data to manage. For $2,500 per year you'd think they could give you more storage space. Chatted briefly with James about his old telephone number. Comm network activities. Management activities. Home. Dinner at home with Patrick: lasagne, shrimp louie salad. More research for online backup solutions. I can't use Mozy anymore because they were unable to resolve the problem I had with Mozy crashing upon launch. Jungle Disk and S3 are still too expensive in the long run. Sonic Backup gives only 50 GB for $60 per year and only 500 MB for free—not worthwhile. Current options: rsync, CrashPlan Home, Elephant Drive Home Plus. Watched Sun's video for Project Looking Glass—so laughable and sad. So many talented people going wrong in so many ways. Watched the BumpTop video. This was better than Project Looking Glass, but will people remember all the different gestures and actions you can perform simply to organize piles of stuff? Installed the trial for Elephant Drive Home Plus. It's not clear that it's beta software until after you install the software—misleading. (I'm using Mac.) Also, the user experience lacks polish and doesn't seem to have been tested on Macs. e.g., my download screen said I was downloading the Windows version, but I ended up getting a dmg file like I should have—very confusing. The installation experience was shoddy. The Finder window in the dmg was incomplete (i.e., not prettified). And installer screen button labels were incomplete and showed truncated words followed by ellipses rather than, say, Back, Next, and Cancel.

Sat 13

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Again attempted to fix the problem I have in Vista with "Please wait while Windows configures Adobe Acrobat 8.1.2" appearing randomly such as while right-clicking files in Windows Explorer. I am pretty sure now that this problem is not easily fixed. More software installations and updates and iMac restoration. Lunch: turkey with havarti on oat honey bread. Worked on Danny's website. Put in jquery's accordion feature on the home page, but couldn't figure out why it calculates the height of the first item incorrectly upon page load (in the class called ui-accordion-content). Dinner at home with Patrick: leftover non-spicy jambalaya, whole wheat biscuits.

Sun 14

Weeded twitter followers. Joined Vimeo after watching Jeff T's Disneyland vacation video. Web developers: if you view source on Vimeo's home page you'll find one obvious and at least one not-so-obvious treat. Vimeo's sign-up screens (regular and Facebook Connect) are fantastic and unique. I used Vimeo's Facebook Connect feature instead of joining Vimeo separately. 3 clicks and I was in—an amazingly wonderful sign-up experience. People interested in user experience on the web should check it out. Vimeo is super sexy in terms of modern web design: rounded corners, pastels mixed with bolds, 18-point Arial, ajax—it's all good. Usual oatmeal breakfast. House chores and cleaning. Cut my hair, showered. Lunch: same sandwich as yesterday. Watched extras from Planet B-Boy on Netflix DVD with Patrick. Patrick made bread pudding. I altered clothes: 1 pair of pants, 2 shirts. Spent about an hour trying to figure out the fastest way to download the originals of my photos on Flickr from August 28 to today. First I tried Flishr which appeared to let me download in 2 batches of 500 each. After I authenticated and then started the first download, I received an error message beginning with "System.IO.IOException: Unable to read data from the transport connection." The same error occurred multiple times even as it successfully downloaded some images. Ugh. Uninstalled Flishr. Similar behavior with Janten's Downloadr. Uninstalled it, too. Tried Magnus von Koeller's FlickrFaves, but it only downloads photos that you've marked as your favorite. Tried FlickrEdit—it seems to work. Here's what I said when I dropped it in my delicious stream: "I'm normally an antifan of Java applications, but out of many I tried to download originals of my Flickr photos after a hard drive crash, FlickrEdit was the only one that did what I wanted. Thanks, FlickrEdit team!" Dinner at home with Patrick: pork chops, corn off the cob, oven roasted new potatoes. Watched extras from Pixar Short Films on DVD borrowed from psychobauble and Nate. Fixed the mirroring script from my computer to the webserver using ssh-agent and ssh-add. FlickrEdit failed after downloading 617 out of 728 photos.

Mon 15

Usual granola breakfast. I forgot to mention that lately I've been having my standard oatmeal breakfast with no sugars, and I haven't been missing the sweetness—nice. To work. Missed the bus by 1 minute. (Or, I believe, it was early.) Helped student NG with questions about trojans and spam and phishing. Rescheduled today's meetings—Susie is out. Our office recently offered the outreach and recruitment coordinator position to Shirin H, and she accepted, so I'm doing some activities that prepare for her arrival. Last Friday I secured James's old voicemail password from James. Today when I checked the voicemail it had messages from 18 months ago! I deleted them all, removed the old greeting and the state-your-name thing. When I checked on her computer, I found that all was well except the network connection was no longer working. I submitted a request to OAAIS to reenable it. There was no printer in her office—printers got shuffled around some in the past year—so I ordered a new one. Updated the phone number cheat sheet. Created welcome materials. Created a computer account. Updated the hardware inventory list. Updated all web calendars. Minor web edits: 2009 computer requirements, interview prep details for JWG, white coat ceremony. Helped JWG with Microsoft Word. Troubleshot printer jams with Chris C—it was loaded with copy paper rather than laser paper, so I sent Eric V an email asking him to order some laser paper instead. Prepared new phone number cheat sheets for Shirin's arrival. Installed OS 10.5.6 at work. Patrick picked me up in the car. Dinner at Danny, Drew, and Phil's. Patrick brought homemade bread pudding. Installed OS 10.5.6 at home. Today at home on the iMac, I received the following error message: "Time Machine Error: Unable to complete backup. An error occurred while copying files to the backup volume. (OK)" But when we open the backup drive, it shows all seems well. Not sure what we're supposed to do about this error message. May research more later. Mirroring automation is not working like I thought it was. Must fix later.

Tue 16

Stretches. Weight training: superslow dumbbell press. Stretches. Breakfast at home by myself: one clementine, black cherry yogurt. To work. I forgot to mention that yesterday at work I upgraded VLC to the latest version on the Mac side. Lately at work the UPS under my desk has been beeping occasionally. It's a solid beep that lasts about 4 seconds and then stops. It goes a long time between beeps. I didn't have time to check it out until now. I've probably heard it beep like that about 5 times now. Today when I heard it beep I looked in the dark space under my desk and saw that the red overlord indicator was on. Wait, no, that label must be overload, not overlord. I got my flashlight and checked. It's an APC Back-UPS RS 500, and the only things plugged into it are the Mac Pro and my Samsung SyncMaster 940T. I removed the monitor and plugged it into another nearby UPS. Removed the webmonkey tutorial wiki from my RSS feed. It was a great idea, but it never had or gained momentum, and now with their December 3 announcement of a restructuring, it's not likely to improve anytime soon. I still have a warm spot in my heart for Webmonkey as a brand because it helped me out a lot in the early days of the web. Maybe someday it will return to its former prominence. UCSF communicators network work: survey. Office lunch at Scala's Bistro. I've been here I think twice before for the OSACA holiday luncheon, and this was yet another excellent meal with excellent service. Scott ordered a hot chocolate. One or two people had an iced tea. I had hot water with lemon. We started with a deep-fried assortment of calamari, rock shrimp, and vegetables; bruschetta with carpaccio, matchstick pear, and balsamic vinegar; assorted breads with balsamic vinegar. Eric D, Scott, and I each had the filet mignon sliders with watercress salad and pomme frites. Eric V and Carol each had a pizza. Lucia had orecchieti. Cindy had a caesar salad. Joel had (a salad? someone deleted the photo I took!). Two sides: pan-fried spinach with garlic, brussel sprouts. For dessert, we ordered Tina-style: 1 of everything (but not the cheese plate—too much!). List of desserts: chocolate i.v. (milk chocolate mousse on chocolate pecan crust with chocolate gelato and chocolate sauce), bostini cream pie (with creamy vanilla custard, chiffon cake, chocolate sauce), apple crostata with salted caramel gelato, huckleberry pear tart with mascarpone, steamed persimmon pudding with creme anglaise, meyer lemon sorbet with cookie, pumpkin gingersnap gelato with caramel sauce. I'm not a fan of tarts, but the great flavors in the huckleberry pear tart made my eyes grow large with pleasant amazement. Although I liked the flavors in the bostini it was a visual disaster—just a hodgepodge clumpy sea of yellow, white, and brown. The meyer lemon sorbet was tasty but really nothing special—you can buy lemon sorbet at the grocery that tastes just as good or better. The persimmon pudding was special to me because I think it's not commonly found on dessert menus and because the dried persimmon slices on top were a delightfully artful touch. If I were to return to Scala's soon, I would try the duck confit and for dessert I would consider the apple crostata, the tart, and the persimmon pudding. Executive chef today was Jen Biesty, whom we were told just started about 2 months ago. Executive pastry chef today was Tim Nugent. Photos to come. Scott told me how to get to the secret restroom—nice! I wanted to go back to work but Cindy insisted we have the rest of the day off—so sweet! Downtown shopping: bought some clothes at H&M boys. Dinner at Daphne's. Secret Santa gift and grocery shopping. To home. Patrick and I unboxed the MacBook that Tina bought me for my birthday. I didn't want to keep it at first, but she insisted. She's only getting me back, anyway. Bought 2 tickets to Sandra Bernhard's "Without You I'm Nothing" on Saturday, January 17, 2009. We're in orchestra left center if you want to try to sit near us. Stretches. Weight training: advanced plank (5:00). Stretches.

Wed 17

I forgot to mention that yesterday at the Seacret counter in Westfield Shopping Center a woman offered me a free sample which I took and then she asked me about my fingernails. I think I take pretty good care of my nails, but after a few minutes I realized that she wasn't complimenting me—she was really trying to tell me how ugly my fingernails were so that she could sell me nail care products. During her spiel I sort of messed her up by saying things it seemed she didn't expect, like "My nails never break" and "I've never had that happen before" and "But I don't like to grow them longer." Before I realized what she was doing, she demonstrated a $30 block with different sanding devices along different sides and polished my thumbnail so smoothly that I thought it was wet, but it was indeed dry and very, very shiny and smooth. I didn't buy anything from her, and the rest of the day my eye was catching light reflecting off my thumbnail so much that it was annoying. She told me the shiny would last for 2 weeks, so this morning I roughed up the nail with a nail file to get rid of the shiny. Besides, how safe is that for someone to use one nail file on (probably) hundreds of people each day? I'm not terribly worried, but at some point someone with unhealthy nails is probably going to pass something along to a person with cracked cuticles or a hangnail by way of that $30 magic polishing block. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Lately I've been having my usual oatmeal breakfast with brown sugar some days and without any sugar other days. It always includes one kind of fresh fruit. Lately I've been choosing sliced banana, diced apple, currants, raisins, and diced peach—one kind of fruit each morning. To work. Helped Eric D with a question about purchasing. Network port activation followup—we're scheduled with Nancy for Friday. Began major styling of the BTS website. Lunch by myself at Pomelo: honolulu, plain water no ice. About $12 after $2 tip. Shuttle to Laurel Heights. 1-on-1 with Susie. Web team meeting with Susie and Eric D. Shuttle to UCSF. To home. Recharge Spa holiday party. Leftover deep dish pizza from Paxtchi's at Paul's. House cleaning. Clothing maintenance. Edits for Danny's website: jquery ui-accordion-content height problem was resolved by editing accordion.js at line 237: BEFORE: autoHeight: true;—AFTER: autoHeight: false;

Thu 18

Breakfast: yogurt, 2 clementines. School holiday party. Today Sak Yee from TQS Systems (415-828-7483) fixed our color printer in a jiffy. Styled the BTS website. Steve K gave the office some toffee almond bark that he had made—fantastic! A student whose name starts with J gave the office some delicious cookies. Shirin stopped by to say hello. She's in SF for a very short stay and househunting now and very thankful for the advice we've given her. It was great to see her before her start date in mid-January. To home. Dinner at home with Patrick: frozen thin-crust pizza. Dessert: Trader Joe's chocolate covered cookies—so good! Wrapped my secret santa gift for tomorrow. Vidchatted with Tina, met MJD, resolved the laptop mixup. To explain it, I have to backtrack. A week or so ago, Tina called me to say that she was sending me a package—a late birthday present. Within a few days a box arrived at work—I ask people to send me things at work—and the shipping label said AI on it so I knew this was the gift from Tina. I took it home and opened it and found a brand new MacBook laptop! I was stunned by her generosity and called her to thank her but also to ask her if she would take it back, but she refused. It wasn't until today when we had another conversation that I began to realize that she actually hadn't bought a laptop for me. The laptop I had was the one I had ordered for the office but wasn't expecting until a week later, which was the beginning of this week. And the funny part is that just this morning I asked Lucia to track down the missing laptop shipment. I still had not realized what had happened because I was certain that Tina had indeed sent me a new laptop. When Tina and I had talked and she had refused to take the laptop back, she was actually talking about a monetary gift that she was planning to make, and the call was a little confusing because of that, but somehow neither of us realized that the other was talking about the wrong thing. So in any case, the case of the missing office laptop is solved, and Patrick and I don't have a new MacBook to use at home. I won't be able to carry it in to work tomorrow because I have too much to carry already, so I'll hang on to it over the weekend and begin setting it up then take it in to the office on Monday.

Fri 19

I awoke this morning and Patrick just got home from his morning martial arts practice to let me know that the small office in our apartment had flooded with water somehow. Breakfast: yogurt, clementines. Our office held our annual secret santa party. Small web edits: licensing, added MapJack to the find a home page, removed summer research program, updated calendars to say we're closed on Wed Dec 24. Chatted with Majed. Management activities. Sliced and distributed phone number cheat sheets. Followup on network port activation—OAAIS activated the port but it's one-tenth the speed of my connection—did they give us 10BT instead of 100BT? Updates for Shirin's computer: Windows, Apple, Firefox, Acrobat. Home. Learned that the flooding problem was likely caused by a dishwasher in the upstairs unit. Carpet cleaners will arrive tomorrow morning. Dinner at home with Patrick: tubular pasta with vegetables in marinara sauce, bread, Smart Balance Light. Uploaded photos to Flickr. Began reviewing the photos that FlickrEdit had downloaded—it's a mess not exactly because of FlickrEdit.

Sat 20

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Installed Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista at home. Uploaded photos to Flickr. Mailing activities. Activated Windows Vista with a new activation key—it works! Landlord and rug cleaners stopped by to steam clean our rug and floor. Brunch at Chow on Church with Patrick, psychobauble, Nate. We ran into Conrad there, and he introduced us to Tim. On the way to the theatre we ran into Scott and sneeper on their way to brunch, and we said hello. Bought movie tickets. Walked around the Castro. Milk (2008) at the Castro Theatre—we enjoyed it. Pottery Barn—they bought some pillows. Stopped at their place to pick up boxes and cookies. After installing Windows Vista SP1 I found that I can no longer see thumbnails in Windows Explorer. Another way to say this is that thumbnails are missing now. Searched but could not find a quick or simple solution to this problem. Dinner at home with Patrick: leftover pasta, bread, Smart Balance Light. Watched Justin Timberlake's Justified: The Videos on Netflix DVD with Patrick. Edited photos, uploaded photos to Flickr. Minor web edits for Tina: updated email address. Troubleshot copy paste problem with VMware Fusion 2.0.1—failed. The problem appears to be unsolveable and unworkaroundable. I actually have 4 problems with VMware Fusion 2.0.1: (a) Copy paste does not work between OS X and Vista, (b) the Unity feature is grayed out and unselectable, and (c) automatic cd or dvd detection does not work properly. Sometimes when I switched to the Vista window I would incorrectly get a finger pointer rather than an arrow pointer, but something changed and the problem is gone now—I don't know that I did anything to fix it. When before I couldn't fix it, a quick workaround to the finger pointer problem was to press Command+Tab, then release both keys, then press Command+Tab again, then release both keys. One other problem I have is that (d) in Photoshop sometimes there are actions that require the Control key, but holding the Control key and clicking brings up the context menu which in Photoshop in Vista is not what I want. I thought it used to be that pressing the right Control key would let you work around the problem but that doesn't seem to work anymore. (The Control key is sometimes also required for actions in InDesign and Illustrator and Windows Explorer.)

Sun 21

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Inspected boxes of stuff that were damaged from the partial flooding incident 2 days ago. Lunch: turkey and havarti on sesame bagel, tortilla chips. Cleaned up flood stuff. Nap. Dinner at home with Patrick: oven-roasted roasted papaya-ginger chicken with lime pilaf and string beans. Watched Heroes season 3 "Angels and Monsters" on Netflix instant watch with Patrick. Installed scanner drivers. Yahoo Profiles got revamped and now includes a guestbook! How quaint! Created a draft new gift certificate for Danny's website, sent it to Drew for review.

Mon 22

Breakfast: 3 clementines. CTS work: updated survey results spreadsheet. Recently I saw in the campus computer store a Dell Mini 9, which is an ultraportable laptop computer. I believe it's the smallest Dell laptop ever made. It's so cute! It reminded me of a Toshiba Libretto I once owned, though the shapes are different. The Mini 9 would be a really good laptop for someone who travels to give presentations and doesn't want to do much typing—the keyboard is pretty cramped. Mini 9—I like it. Too bad our office just purchased a new MacBook. New MacBook maintenance: reinstalled OS X, apps, iWork, and Apple software updates; ran all tests in TechTool Deluxe; repaired disk permissions and verified disk in Disk Utility. On the way to lunch, Joel and I encountered a house with giant decorations. I didn't have my camera, unfortunately. Lunch with Joel at Pacific Catch: 2 tacos with fries, hot water for me; fish and chips (with sweet potato fries), iced tea for him. Stopped at the Tech Store on the way back, picked up another Kensington wireless presenter, looked for bags for the new MacBook but didn't find anything we liked. Shopped online for a laptop bag. Installed Office 2008 and updates on the new MacBook. Unwrapped the new presentation pointer. Labeled the new MacBook and all its accessories. Archived paper documents to PDF. Installed updates for virtualized XP on my computer. Copy operation from computer to server failed—weird permissions error. Repaired disk permissions on the Mac Pro. Leaving work, I ran into student VL in the student lounge and said hello. To home. Dinner at home with Patrick: chicken and spinach bolognese with angel hair. Patrick has a strained muscle in his neck, so this evening I helped him apply a warm alcohol treatment. Did more cleaning and organizing following the partial flooding incident. Dessert: one christmas-tree-shaped shortbread cookie with green and red sugar sprinkles, hot nonfat milk.

Tue 23

In recent news of California's Proposition 8, a controversy has erupted regarding whether the proposition invalidates same-sex marriages that have occurred in the past. Proposition 8's proponents have stated that they believe the language of the proposition is clear, but I disagree, and not in the way you might think. In fact, I claim that Proposition 8 doesn't state—in any way—what its proponents wanted it to state. Let's take a closer look.

Proposition 8 states:
"Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

The proposition could be interepreted as though between any man and any woman only marriage is valid or recognized. In this interpretation, the word "only" modifies only the word "marriage." In other words, any other kind of relationship between a man and a woman in California is not valid and not recognized by the state. For example, a landlord-tenant relationship would be recognized by the state only if both landlord and tenant were male or if both landlord and tenant were female or if the landlord were a man and the tenant was a male or female child (i.e., not a woman). For governmental positions, men could hire only other men, and women could hire only other women. To do otherwise would mean that you are creating a man-woman relationship that is recognized by the state and that is other than marriage. By this interpretation, Proposition 8 says you cannot do that.

The proposition could also be interpreted as though the California government may recognize and deem valid only marriage between a man and a woman—nothing else may be recognized or deemed valid by California. In other words, California no longer exists to govern the state—it exists solely to validate and recognize marriage between a man and a woman. For if it cannot recognize and validate anything but marriage between a man and a woman, then clearly it cannot conduct the business of governing the state. The key argument of this interpretation is that "only" modifies the entire clause "marriage between a man and a woman." For example, as it is written, one can interpret it to say that people could commit crimes of any nature, and the state is bound by Proposition 8 to not recognize them. And if it cannot recognize them, then certainly it may not act on them.

The writers of Proposition 8 probably meant to say:
"California shall recognize and deem valid a marriage only if it is between a man and a woman."
But the proposition doesn't say this at all.

The problem lies primarily in where the word "only" is placed. The proponents intend for "only" to apply to "a man and a woman," but they neglected to place "only" as close as possible to that phrase to make that clear.

I believe that due to poor sentence structure, Proposition 8 can be correctly interpreted only in the two nonsensical ways described above.

Proposition 8 ought to be invalidated not necessarily because it's a constitutional revision rather than an amendment and not necessarily because it conflicts with the state constitution's guarantee of inalienable rights and the state's ability to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority. I think Proposition 8 should be invalidated because (a) it really doesn't say what its writers meant it to say and (b) it results in nonsensical and completely unworkable scenarios for the government.

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Winter office cleaning—dusted and vacuumed crevices and corners, reorganized cables, swapped UPSes so that the Mac Pro is using the RS 800 and the spare UPS is the RS 500. Today I installed a SATA drive into my Mac Pro, and when I got done I felt like I should have been hearing a chorus of angels. The process was so fast and simple, unlike the experience with a Windows computer, even modern Dell machines. One latch, 4 screws, no cables, about 3 minutes. Anyone who can operate a latch and a screwdriver can do it. Simply amazing. It's experiences like this that make many computer professionals who try Mac never go back to PC. Set up Time Machine on the new drive. Lunch: pizza party with Lucia, Eric D, Eric V, and Joel. I ordered from Pasquale's (415-661-2140, 700 Irving Street, San Francisco, California, USA) and got 1 large house special, 1 large veggie, 5 salads, 3 root beers. They asked me to come to Moffitt Circle because it's hard to find parking around UCSF—I agreed. A few seconds after I picked everything up from the driver, I realized that something wet was dripping all over the front of my clothes. I couldn't do anything about it, so I took everything upstairs to the office. There, I discovered that the Italian salad dressing on many of the salads had somehow leaked out of the containers and the bag and spread all across the top of the top pizza box and down the front of my clothes. It was awful. Pasquale's did not put the dressing in small containers with lids like other places—the salads were already dressed. Also, they used brown paper food containers that had no waxy lining or coating, so even upon opening all the bags the dressing was seeping through their containers and staining everything. I'm all in favor of environment-friendly packaging, but the container isn't supposed to disintegrate before I have started eating! On top of all that, both pizzas were partially burnt. What a horrible experience! No more Pasquale's for me for at least 1 year. Next time, I plan on ordering from nearby Milano's instead. Archived websites. Posted final winter schedules for Lucia. Set up Boot Camp with Windows XP SP2 and some applications on the new MacBook. Began other new computer setup activities (e.g., joining it to the domain). Patrick picked me up in the car. Dinner: leftover pizza. Dessert: Nathan's cookies—yum! Helped Patrick do another warm alcohol treatment on his neck. He watched Ab Fab episodes on owned DVD while waiting for the treatment to work.

Wed 24

On vacation now through January 4. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Cut my hair. Again encountered the Mighty Mouse scroller problem that I had encountered on November 25, 2008. Fixed it in the same way: press and hold the scroller button, then, while it is held in, scroll in all directions, repeat until fixed. Lunch: steamed pork buns from Simmone, hot oolong tea. Returned some items and did some shopping downtown. Made gingerbread cake. Patrick made apple coffee cake with kahlua glaze. Took them to Danny, Drew, and Phil's for a Christmas Eve gathering-turned-feast including Danny, Drew, Jane, Nate, psychobauble, Jen, Lou, Paul, Mom Ryan, Sam, Sandip, Dong-yi, DeJaye, Quyen, Dave, Anita, Romy, Nam, Michael. (Phil was at work, unfortunately.) Patrick went to bed. I wrapped gifts.

Thu 25

This morning Patrick discovered that another small flood had taken place overnight, but this time there was no damage since Patrick had put a bunch of old towels on the floor just in case this would happen again. Usual oatmeal breakfast. Patrick and I opened Christmas presents. Patrick left to take Simmone to the airport. Uploaded photos to Flickr. I stayed home, left a voicemail for the landlord, and cleaned up from today's flood and what remained to be cleaned up from the flood we had on December 19. Part of this was going through a box of music cd inserts. I had put my cd collection onto my computer beginning in 1997 or 1998, removed and saved the cd inserts, and got rid of all the jewel cases to save space. This box of cd inserts had gotten wet in the first flooding incident and were completely ruined. I spent today making certain there were no cds in any of the cases and removed the hard plastic from the paper so that the hard plastic could go into the trash and the paper could go into compost (rather than recycling, since it was moldy). Did a load of laundry. Dim sum late lunch at Yank Sing Rincon Center with Patrick, Mom Ryan, Sam, Sandip, Danny, Drew, Phil, Jane. Opened presents at Mom Ryan's. To home. Uploaded photos and video to Flickr. Got errors while uploading batches of photos to Flickr. Flickr Uploadr seems to be reliable for only small batches of photos. Watched Heroes season 3 episode 6 (Dying of the Light) on Netflix instant watch with Patrick. Began installing a fresh virtual copy of Windows Vista SP1 into VMware Fusion. The Vista I have now has many annoying problems: copy and paste between it and OS X does not work, music or sound sometimes does not work, I no longer see thumbnails in Windows Explorer, and I repeatedly get the annoying "Please wait while Windows configures Adobe Acrobat 8.1.3" message over and over and over again. Rather than try to fix all of these separately, I've decided that it's easier to simply reinstall Vista and then reinstall all my apps. I share my OS X home folder with the virtual Vista, so I don't have any data in Vista to save.

Fri 26

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Downloaded and installed Name Mangler, used it once, and it did what I needed. Downloaded Eclipse but did not start using it yet. Shopped for a shoe storage solution online with Patrick. Made a lunch date with my brother and parents for tomorrow—they're coming to SF. Edits and updates for Danny's website. Yesterday in researching online backup solutions I discovered Transport by MacMiniColo. Transport seems like a really nice idea, especially the part about doing the initial backup before you send the Time Capsule to them, but what are they doing that regular people couldn't do by sending Time Capsules to trusted friends or family? Yes, they're providing a more secure environment for the hardware, but the price does not seem very reasonable to me, particularly for largeish quantities of data (e.g., over 50 GB). Apple could give the online backup industry a good kick in the pants by making Time Capsule behave more like Transport. Or maybe we can do that now and just no one but MacMiniColo has discovered how to do that easily? Downloaded and installed Songbird 1.0.0. Songbird is music player software that looks a lot like iTunes but it's open-source and smarter than iTunes about integrating non-Apple outside content and services. Songbird would be especially useful at a party. I especially like the streaming Flickr photos and the lyrics integration. Napped. Dinner at home with Patrick: apple cinnamon pig chops, asparagus risotto. Patrick and I watched as much of Dangerous Game on Netflix DVD as we could stomach. Watched Heroes season 3 episodes 7 and 8 on Netflix instant watch. Continued setting up the new install of Vista. Time Machine finished its initial backup—took about a day.

Sat 27

After showering this morning, I realized what bothers me about the user interfaces for iTunes 8.0.2 (20) and Songbird 1.0.0. In both, it seems to be impossible to see the contents of a playlist you're building side by side with the contents of the music library from which you're trying to build it. Also, in both, after you begin playing music you can't have a constantly-open window that shows the current playlist. Both permit you to navigate to other views while music plays, and those actions replace your current playlist view with the view of the thing to which you're navigating. Both permit you to work around this problem. iTunes has the Show Current Song command (Command+L) and Songbird has a not-obvious feature: select the currently playing song in the player controls panel to view it in its current playlist context. But in both if you've navigated elsewhere, you need to invoke a command or perform an action to see the current playlist. The checkboxes in iTunes have always confused me, too. Why have both checkboxes and playlists? The probably-best answer to this question can be found with Google [itunes checkboxes james philp], but nonetheless I found the rationale of this user interface design unsatisfying. UI design that requires explanation is poor design. I grew up with and am most comfortable with how Winamp works—separate windows for playlist and library, and the currently playing playlist window can optionally remain open even if you navigate to another view. But Winamp has become bloated even when you install a minimal configuration, and to me that's why foobar2000 is becoming an increasingly appealing alternative to Winamp. Uploaded photos and video to Flickr. Office install and Windows updates for Vista. Lunch with the parents and my brother and Patrick at Cafe for All Seasons. Grocery shopping with Patrick. Edited photos, uploaded photos to Flickr. Put touch-up paint on the car. Organized stuff into cardboard boxes. Paid bills. Recharge Spa website work: added Stephen Bruce. More occurrences of the Time Machine error "Unable to complete backup. An error occurred while copying files to the backup volume." Troubleshot this. Repaired disk permissions—it found a number of incorrect permissions and fixed them all. Verified internal hard disk: no problems. Verified external Time Machine hard disk: no problems. Reviewed Sophos Anti-Virus preferences and found that it was excluding the former name of my backup hard disk volume, so I updated it to reflect the new name. Most likely this last reason was the problem. Confirmed Time Machine preferences were set correctly. Reformatted the Time Machine hard drive. Requested an immediate backup.

Sun 28

Usual oatmeal breakfast plus V8 juice and leftover muffins from yesterday's lunch. Lunch: leftovers at home with Patrick. Today Patrick and I took a little hike to Corona Heights Park which sits atop a hill that overlooks the city. We'd never been there before, so it was nice to see the city from a new vantage point. Afterwards we had hot chocolate at a bakery/cafe called Urban Bread and we read from books—me from Steampunk and Patrick from The White Tiger. Home. Continued copyediting one of Patrick's books. Cow burgers and homemade fries for dinner at home. Dessert: two XOXO truffles. Throughout the day, I experimented with Eclipse. Here's what I did. Visited Clicked the obvious Download link. Couldn't figure out which of the 8 Eclipse packages I needed. Spent several minutes Googling trying to figure out which one was correct. Downloaded Eclipse Classic, which made me feel not very special. Couldn't find the dmg file I thought I downloaded. Ah, it's not a dmg file—just a tarball that automatically unwrapped to a folder. Couldn't figure out how to install it. Guessed: I dragged the Eclipse folder into Applications. Ran Eclipse. Couldn't figure out how to make it do cool things with PHP. Searched Google on Eclipse and PHP, found some answers. Deleted the Eclipse folder. Downloaded, "installed," and ran Zend's version of Eclipse with PDT. Couldn't figure out how to configure an FTP connection. Searched Google on Eclipse and FTP, found some answers. Deleted Zend's version of Eclipse with PDT from the Applications folder. Downloaded, installed, and ran Aptana Studio. Configured 4 of my websites, so far so good. Figured out how to change a few settings. Edited a few files. Aptana seems pretty nice. Tried to figure out where the word wrap setting was. Searched Google on Aptana and wrap. Found this text on "Aptana Studio currently does not support word wrapping due to a limitation in the Eclipse framework. However, it is possible to access the text widget responsible for the display of text in the Aptana editors. Gaining access to this widget allows Eclipse Monkey to toggle the word wrap setting. Please note that there are known issues when word wrap is turned on." Uninstalled Aptana Studio. Deleted all my Aptana Studio workspace data. Given the progress described in STU-534, I think it's safe to say that Aptana will not have word wrap resolved and stable before January 2010, and probably later. Gave up on Eclipse and all Eclipse variants, at least for now. Very disappointing. The Time Machine backup I started last night got stuck, or rather, it was continuing very, very slowly—so slowly, in fact, that I determined that it was not working properly based on the speed of my connection (USB 2.0—480 Mbps) and the amount of data it needed to copy (about 200 GB). Worst case it should have taken a couple of hours, but it had already gone 24 and was stuck at about 16 GB. I canceled the backup, erased the Time Machine hard drive using Disk Utility, added more exclusions to Time Machine preferences, and set Time Machine preferences to use the newly formatted drive for backup. After about an hour it's already past 17 GB and continuing at a much faster rate than before. It should be done by the time I wake up.

Mon 29

Usual oatmeal breakfast. House chores: laundry, vacuuming. Took the bus to 9th and Judah. Walked to the California Academy of Sciences. Saw extremely long lines. Within minutes of my arrival, a woman announced over a loudspeaker that all of today's tickets were sold out. I already had tickets, but even the general admission ticket line was very long, and all the passes to some of the shows were already gone. Not a good day to get to calacademy late. I couldn't warn my parents who were driving in. I had told them to park in the underground garage, but it was already full and traffic coming in to the park was heavy. I asked the announcer where the nearest public telephone was, and she said she didn't know. I checked in the garage—no public telephone. The de Young was closed today, so I couldn't check over there. I walked to 9th and Lincoln—none there. I walked to 9th and Irving—none there. I walked to 9th and Judah and found one on the southeast corner. My parents were still in their car on the road and had just entered the park at 9th and Lincoln, so I told them to turn around and pick me up, so they did. We all needed to eat lunch but spent several minutes being unsuccessful at finding parking near 9th and Irving, so we drove to Irving and 22nd instead and found a metered spot. Lunch with my parents at a Chinese restaurant whose name I forgot to record but which is at or near 1928 Irving Street. Afterwards we decided we needed to find someplace to go in San Francisco where tourists didn't go but was still interesting. I took them to 3 hilltop parks, none of which I had ever visited. First was Grand View Park, next was Sunset Heights Playground, and last was Mount Davidson. I took lots of great photos and a few short movies. We stopped at home so that I could drop off lunch leftovers and pick up Patrick. Dinner at Eric's Restaurant on Church. Afterwards they dropped us off at home and headed to Honma House. Continued Time Machine troubleshooting. Last night's backup completed successfully, so I removed more exclusions one by one and let them complete successfully. However, after I got home today, I found a Time Machine error again: "Unable to complete backup. An error occurred while copying files to the backup volume." Opened Console, filtered on [backup], found this: "Error: (-43) SrcErr:NO Copying /Users /username /Music /$RECYCLE.BIN to /Volumes /Time Machine /Backups.backupdb /computername /2008-12-29-170436.inProgress /81059C26-EFD9-4A64-B6C1-D24C31328222 /Macintosh HD /Users /username /Music". Shut down Vista. Modified the VM settings: unchecked all mirrored folders. Found all occurrences of $RECYCLE.BIN in my home folder (and all subfolders). Started the VM. Deleted all occurrences of $RECYCLE.BIN from within the VM. Crossing fingers now that Time Machine will give no more errors. Apple could improve Time Machine by providing a more helpful error message instead of "Unable to complete backup. An error occurred while copying files to the backup volume." Maybe tell what the error is? Maybe provide instructions on how to resolve the problem or what to look for? Reviewed today's and yesterday's photos with Patrick.

Tue 30

Usual oatmeal breakfast. Edited and uploaded photos and videos to Flickr. Lunch at home by myself: leftovers. Nate and I walked in and explored the Mission district, stopped at Four Barrel Coffee, didn't go to Costco. Back to their place, psychobauble got home from work, we all chatted for a few minutes. Dinner at home with Patrick: leftovers. Worked on Danny's website: minor updates, figured out a way to put in links to places that are linking to them, cleaned up the home page accordion to remove the arrows and tidy the margins and spacing and other small css fixes.

Wed 31

Usual oatmeal breakfast. I learned 2 tricks to using Spaces in OS X today that I had not known before. One is that you can use Spaces in conjunction with Expose. When I first switched to using a Mac, Expose was too much for me to learn because I thought it was a lot of features to learn at once, so I disabled the keyboard shortcut to invoke it. When I started using Spaces I mapped Spaces to F13 because I use the function keys F1 through F12 a lot in Windows applications. So today I mapped F14 to Expose, and I can now press F13 followed by F14 to instantly see representations of every window in every Space—nice! The other trick I learned is that you can drag a window's title bar to the edge of a Space, wait about 2 seconds, and you'll be switched into the next Space in that direction. I discovered this on my own when dragging a window and pausing near the edge of the current Space. This discovery was disorienting at first. To someone not familiar with Spaces, it's probably very frustrating. The pause-and-switch feature doesn't work diagonally yet, but that's only a geek's disappointment. Also, this feature doesn't work with windows that have tiny titlebars. (I don't know what you call these tiny-titlebar windows.) e.g., it will work for a Get Info window, but it won't work for a Multiple Item Info window or a Mac Help window. I don't know when Apple introduced those non-standard, tiny-titlebar windows, but I think the way they implemented them is a mistake because I often find myself pressing Command+W thinking that that window will close when instead some other window I didn't want to close will close. Or, nothing will happen if there are no other windows open in the current context. The tiny-titlebar windows can also appear and disappear depending on whether the application has focus or not, but this doesn't happen consistently. For example, a Multiple Item Info window will disappear if you switch from Finder to another application, but a Mac Help window won't. I find them very frustrating. Essentially, Apple created a new kind of window that behaves inconsistently with the behaviors of itself and the regular class of windows. I don't know what a better solution would be, but the current one is not to my liking. More work with Danny's website—lots of wrangling with IE. I gave up trying to fix one particular CSS problem—IE is a headache! More research for offsite personal backup. Carbonite seems to have a Mac beta but you can't sign up for it. Left a message for Wysz, who began using Transport in May, asking him for an update on how that's going. New Year's Eve party at Danny, Drew, and Phil's. sneeper confirmed that what I discovered on December 9 was common—that nothing tells you after you do a full restore with Time Machine that you need to go back to Time Machine preferences and turn it back on when you're sure everything is restored.