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October 28, 2004

Indicators that you're not happy at work.

I've noticed that there are a few signs that I'm really not happy at work. I'm not talking about having a frustrating day or unproductive week, but the deep-down "I can't work under these conditions" kind of feelings.

For me they are:

1) Someone announces they are leaving and I am jealous that they get to go on and do something different. If I'm happy about my job I tend to think more along the lines of how much the departing employee will be missing.

2) Rather than just poking around on the web I'm looking at monster or any variety of possible job descriptions and actually thinking what it would be like to move into a new position with a fresh start. The more I like the thought of a fresh start the more I'm unsatisfied with the conditions in my existing job.

3) I dust off the resume and update experiences to reflex the last x number of months. Sometimes I think about this after a frustrating day, but never do anything until a job gets unbearably frustrating.

I haven't had any of these happen for awhile, but have been thinking of times when the job stinks and how that manifests itself.

Posted by mike at 10:16 PM

Upgrade to MySQL 4.1.7 - Production Release

Reading the MySQL mailing list I see that I missed Tuesday night's announcement about MySQL 4.1.7, the first production release of the 4.1 series.

This is exciting news for us, we've been waiting for 4.1 to go into production (along with a zillion other people) so we could start using all those great new features and enhancements.

I built a package and installed on our development box, followed the upgrade instructions and things look good. Will see what comes out of it in the next few weeks, then schedule a push up into the test environment and eventually to production.

Posted by mike at 8:18 PM

October 17, 2004

Colleges, Universities and the RIAA

Now that we've got a short break from baseball before the Red Sox head into the World Series wanted to get something out that's been on my mind. A few articles came across my news reader over a very short period of time and thought it worthy of note:

- September 30th, 2004, RIAA files 762 lawsuits, against college students.

- University of Virginia committee finds students aren't interested in an on-campus music service.

- Syracuse University gets 25 letters a month from the RIAA. The student's online access is blocked until the student comes into the office, hears a lecture on illegal music and signs an RIAA form stating they will not download any more music illegally.

- Georgetown University requires students to take DCMA and Fair Use exam.

- U of North Carolina schools trying iTunes, Ruckus, Cdigix and Rhapsody and hoping to have something for the North Carolina University system in the spring.

- Brown University sees heavy use of OurTunes, which shared iTunes over a local LAN.

In addition to my recorded thoughts, one other thought I had on this was about the RIAA's power. The RIAA really is just a representative of member record labels. When we talk about using indie music we're really talking about non-RIAA music. The list of 994 labels that are members serves as a good resource if you're really wanting to check if something falls under their umbrella.

Posted by mike at 6:49 PM

October 16, 2004

Weblog Name Change

I've been at this weblogging thing just shy of two years and have been thinking a bit about what it is, looking at the whole of it.

Now I'm no stranger to marketing and branding, I don't want to confuse people, but I've been annoyed with the sheer length of "Mike Kruckenberg's Experiences and Observations" for some time and wanted to try something different to identify my collection of ideas here.

Seemed like the right conditions for a name change, after some consideration (30 minutes on godaddy) I've opted for "One Other Thought: Mike Kruckenberg's take on technology, academia, recreation etc"

Yes, domain is registered, will have both oneotherthought.com and mike.kruckenberg.com pointed at the same place for undetermined amount of time, perhaps for another year until no-one uses the kruckenberg domain to get posts.

Posted by mike at 2:13 PM

October 15, 2004

Just how limited are my broadcasting skills?

I've been dabbling in this podcasting thing, have even decided that I'd "brand" my podcasts with the line "One Other Thought." It has been fun and interesting to try something new. I was working on a more serious "show" tonight and thought, "what am I doing, I have no broadcasting skill". Do I even have a sliver of training or experience?

Even if I did, if I stink it really doesn't matter how much training or experience is in my past. Perhaps with practice it gets more confortable and better sounding.

Posted by mike at 10:22 PM

Perl and Spreadsheet::WriteExcel Saves the Week

Every now and then I do something that fills my heart with the joy of Perl. This week I was asked to sift through 5 years of usage data and generate some meaningful data (in Excel format) to be used for a poster we're doing for the November meeting of the AAMC.

Although MySQL did most of the heavy computational lifting, the queries and results were complex enough to warrant a series of Perl scripts to build, run and organize results (including calculations like mean, mode, standard deviation etc).

At first I was spitting everything out into a file with tab-separated values, scp it to my desktop, import it into Excel and mail it off to the right folks. After the second time I went through that process I took a poke around CPAN and found Spreadsheet::WriteExcel which allowed me to do something simple like:

use Spreadsheet::WriteExcel;
my $workbook = Spreadsheet::WriteExcel->new("/some_web_dir/user_search.xls");
my $worksheet = $workbook->add_worksheet();

Very slick, I created a simple counter to increment the columns and rows as I wrote chunks of data, and had the file created in a web-accessible folder and eliminated 10 minutes of work for every iteration (which turned out to be a lot).

Update: the $worksheet->write() method's first two arguments are row, column. That's helpful in making sure your data flows the right way.

Posted by mike at 3:41 PM

October 14, 2004

Voter Registration Fraud: Outfit Destroying Democrat Registrations

Not sure how much attention this story is getting, it needs to get more. NPR is running this story about a Las Vegas voter registration outfit that has been destroying registration documents for Democrats.

I captured the stream (not sure how legal that is) in mp3 if the RealAudio option isn't your thing.

Posted by mike at 11:54 AM

October 13, 2004

Using ID3 Tags for Podcast Searching

Created my second podcast tonight, a quick bit talking about using ID3 comment field for better discovery and organization of podcasts.

I did some playing and talking about ID3X, a shareware tool for manipulating ID3 tags. iTunes can do the same thing, but I wanted to play with a tool that could read and create both v1 and v2 tags.

Posted by mike at 10:42 PM

October 12, 2004

Is there more to baseball than fighting?

ESPN seems to think the best picture to represent the baseball series starting tonight between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees is a photo of Jason Varitek and Alex Rodriguez fighting. Yes, there is a pretty serious rivalry between these two teams, and a history of bench-clearing action, but I still don't think it has to be the focus.

I missed the pre-game footage, last time I saw a game between these two teams there was a music-pumping montage of all the fights that have happened over the past two seasons.

All I can say is that it's sad they couldn't find something better to focus on.

Posted by mike at 7:39 PM

October 11, 2004

"auto-boot? false" prevents Solaris machines from starting up

Duh, it's obvious. Still, I need to remind to myself before restarting our Solaris servers to verify that the auto-boot? is set to true.

The Tufts University data center did some major electrical work yesterday, requiring a shutdown of our farm of servers for a 12-hour period. In theory, when the power was back on and machines started up everything should come back when the machines start up (database, webservers, cvs etc). Unfortunately all except one of the machines stopped after the hardware check at the ok> prompt.

On further inspection, all of the machines had auto-boot? set to false, which means that after the hardware check the machine drops into the boot prom. I'd guess they were set to that when going through the multiple restarts during the build process and never got changed. At the ok (boot prom) prompt:

setenv auto-boot? true
does the trick and we're back in business.

Posted by mike at 6:45 AM

October 7, 2004

My Podcast Setup

Put together my first shot at a podcast tonight. Nothing fancy, just trying to get a feel for what it means to podcast. I stuck the enclosures tags in both the regular RSS 2.0 and RSS 2.0 Fulltext feeds, am using Brandon Fuller's MT-Enclosures plugin to do the work.

A few pointers mentioned in the cast: wiretap, Longwave and Cry Cry Cry.

Posted by mike at 8:31 PM

October 6, 2004

Kingsolver on Trusting TV News

I'm reading Barbara Kingsolver's Pigs in Heaven right now and keep thinking about this message:

[Alice] hates television, and not just because her husband has left her for one; she hates it on principle. It's like the boy who cried wolf, spreading crazy ideas faster than you can find out what's really up. If people won't talk to each other, they shouldn't count on strangers in suits and makup to give them the straight dope.
Well said. There is hardly a news-cast out there that isn't working for better ratings by feeding the news in wild and flashy ways, trying to shock or scare audiences more than the next guy.

I got Culture of Fear for my birthday this year, haven't had time to read it just yet, but can only imagine how much dope there is on what's behind the scenes at media companies. Which reminds me, I still want to see Outfoxed.

Posted by mike at 7:44 PM

October 5, 2004

podcasts becoming all the rage

Over the past week or so I've had several conversations about people automating the process of getting audio content from the web to their iPod. In a conversation with Pete last Friday he pointed me to ipodderX, ipodder and podcast, all sites focused on some aspect of automated RSS audio feeds.

Yesterday I got IpodderX set up and started listening to Adam Curry's Daily Source Code. It didn't take long listening to Adam's feed to get the sense that this is all the rage, and get curious about if doing some audio feeds of my own makes sense. Engadget has a nice how-to for using and making podcasts. Looks like slashdot picked this up yesterday too.

Three initial thoughts:
1) Just because you can record and provide an audio feed doesn't mean that it's always the most appropriate method of communication. Text weblogs are much better for things like code or configuration snippets etc.
2) It will be nice when established news sites start providing these kinds of feeds. I'm thinking of NPR, who offers their news in Real streaming but not in a format I can stick on the iPod
3) There's a lot of talk about iPods, but hopefully other players will come into the mix.
4) What are the legal ramifications of using music or other copyrighted works in podcasts? Adam plays full songs and today references using Limewire to get a tune.

Posted by mike at 9:16 PM

October 4, 2004

Burning to Disk Image from iDVD

I was working on a DVD tonight and got annoyed. iDVD isn't terribly good at showing the true timing of music and images. I thought, "why don't they let me save the DVD as a disk image so I can play with it a bit before wasting a DVD-R just to test the timing."

Lo, and behold, someone's already done it. With a few simple steps I can CTRL-click on the burn button and I'm prompted to choose a disk image name and location. And it's fast. Under 5 minutes to create the disk image. Launched my Apple DVD player and it automatically found the disk image and started playing the disc.

I can't say how good this is, rather than waiting an hour for the DVD to burn and then checking it on the DVD player I can create a disk image and use that for debugging. Maybe someday I'll upgrade to a better DVD authoring tool, or iDVD will get better. Until then I will enjoy this little nugget.

Posted by mike at 7:43 PM

October 1, 2004

3-Year-Olds Learning the Scientific Method

Johanna, my 3-year-old daughter is learning the scientific method. She recently started preschool at the local Montessori school. After looking at a few schools we decided the Montessori had a great balance of fun, social and learning activities. She's been going for three weeks now and brought home some handouts yesterday about the scientific method that caught my eye. Apparently they are learning using apples in some experiments.

Research: look up recipes

Hypothesis: cooking apples is necessary to make applesauce

Materials: gather apples, sugar, cinnamon and tools

Method: choose a recipe, prepare a group of apples that will be cooked and a control group of apples that will not be cooked

Observation: watch what happens to the cooked apples and compare with the apples not being cooked

Results: Cooking apples turns them into applesauce

The more amazing part of this is my conversation with Jo this morning after reading the handout.
Me: Jo, is cooking apples necessary to make applesauce?
Jo: Yes
Me: How did you learn that?
Jo: Mrs. Hanley made two buckets of apples, a blue bucket and a purple bucket. The apples in the purple bucket got cooked. When they cooked they got soft and turned into applesauce.
Me: What color was the bucket with the uncooked apples?
Jo: Blue
Me: What happened to the apples in the blue bucket?
Jo: They didn't turn into applesauce.
Perhaps it's not revolutionary, but it has me thinking about when I first learned the scientific method and how a 3-year old processes experiments like this. Also made me excited for parent-teacher meetings to hear how Jo is responding to this stuff in class.

Posted by mike at 7:37 AM