« April 2005 | Main | June 2005 »

May 23, 2005

Comcast Offers Notch up In Cable Modem Speed

Getting ready for our move, which is happening in 4 weeks, and went to see about scheduling the switch of the cable modem service. Comcast now offers, for an additional $10 a month, a boost up to 6Mbps down and 768 kbps up.

A check on dslreports indicates we're at 3658 kbps down and 340 kbps up right now. I think it's well worth the extra $10/month to almost double the speed of the connection. I wonder if X11 Emacs will be usable from home then. I rarely do programming work from home (not that I do it much in the office these days either) because Emacs can lag so much.

I'm trying to justify getting cable TV, but it's now up to $47/month. I just want to be able to watch Red Sox games when they're on (and the Daily Show would be cool too), but that seems like a lot of money to pay for something I *might* watch a few hours a week.

Posted by mike at 10:14 PM

May 20, 2005

Another Fine Writing Sample

We're in the 2nd draft and copyedits for ProMySQL. It's a crazy process with a lot of back and forth and quick turnaround. It takes about the same amount of time commitment as the initial writing, but the time is spent in spurts focused on different chapters and stages.

Last night I was finishing a copyedit on the chapter on stored functions in MySQL and was so tired I kept falling asleep as I was looking at the last few pages. I didn't want to quit and so made a push to finish the review and get it off. By the time I got to writing the email and attaching the latest revision of the chapter I was on autopilot. It wasn't until the progress bar on Thunderbird (email client) was going across the screen to indicate the message was being sent that I noticed what I had said to the project manager and copyeditor:

Attached is my notes/changes etc.

I'm not sure that inspired confidence.

Posted by mike at 6:43 PM

May 18, 2005

To The Person Who Made a Fake Offer on Our House

To the person who made a fake offer on our house,

Last Monday you made an offer on our house. We believed (through our and your realtor) that you really loved the house and wanted to live in it enough that you put a bid in. When you made an offer over the asking price with solid financing we believed you were the right buyer for our home and stopped showing it to other folks.

We didn't anticipate that when you made the offer, it was just a way to distract us from a real buyer while you worked on your plan to devalue our home. It wasn't until we came home from the inspection and noticed that the house looked like had been "inspected" by a burglar looking for a hidden treasure, leaving everything in a state of disarray. That's when we started to think something was wrong.

Shortly after, we started hearing rumors about debates with the inspector about the seriousness of certain conditions. It appears that your goal during the inspection was not about finding what might be a real problem, but to try to get the report to indicate tens of thousands of dollars worth of urgent repairs. To do so, you frantically looked through our home trying to find things that you could use to justify a drastic reduction in your offer. Unfortunately, even though you spent a full week to get that certain inspector who you hoped would say our house was a piece of crap, he or she did not say so.

Yesterday you withdrew your offer based on the inspection, but the truth is the inspection didn't turn up anything significant. Faced with that fact, you withdrew your offer with a lame, and sketchy letter about all the problems that make our house unfit. It's almost comical in points, and obvious that you had to make things up that weren't true to make the letter sound more official. For example, your letter says that the hot water heater is damaged and needs replaced. Um, we do not have a water heater. Our furnace provides continuous hot water.

In the end, it's clear that your tactic was to bid high and then come in and attempt to justify a huge reduction ("tens of thousands", you say in your comments) based on the inspection. Unfortunately, the inspection didn't give you any leverage and so you end up you embarrassing yourself and your realtor (who has apologized to us) with a sorry excuse for withdrawing. You didn't even bother to counter, because you knew you were caught when you found out we had several backup offers from people who had provided more honest offers.

As much as I dislike your tactics, the thing that makes me the most upset is that you wasted a week of our time. I wish there was a public listing of people like you so other people could know to avoid offers from you.

You see, we love our house and believe it's a good home, despite the fact that it was built in 1928. It has a lot of history and charm. Even though there are some problems, we've lived in it for 5 years very happily and will not sell it to someone who snakes their way into a "deal." We'd rather sell it for less to someone who is honest with us.

Posted by mike at 1:16 PM

May 17, 2005

Def Leppard Tunes as Bribe for Sysadmin

In hopes that I'd get the sendmail configuration adjusted for email on Spindlepin (a friend's site), Mike posted some Def Leppard tunes we'd been talking about recently. As I cranked up Rock of Ages I couldn't help but feel it was an even exchange for the few minutes it took to go in and make the mail adjustments.

Mike was even cool enough to put up the logo from the Pyromania album. How is it possible that this album came out 22 years ago?

Posted by mike at 11:43 PM

May 10, 2005

Tracking Disk Space on TUSK Servers

Back in January I wrote about what's taking space on our (Tufts University Sciences Knowledgebase) servers. I'm trying to get a sense of how much we're growing.

1.8 G - fop generated pdfs (from XML documents)
4.4 G - static pdfs
1.5 G - images on filesystem
13.0 G - other downloadable files (zip, powerpoint)
5.3 G - flashpix images
14 G - streaming media (real, quicktime, mp3)
3 G - ULMS data
33 G - MySQL data files

The most significant changes since January are the downloadable files, which has grown 6.4 G, and the MySQL data files which have grown 8 G. To be scientific about this I should probably set up a regular script that I can use to grab the size of folders and provide regular data to plot the stats on a chart.

Update: It took all of 15 minutes to create a small shell script that gathers the usage from the various places and put in it cron so on the 1st of each month I'll get a report. I also created an Excel spreadsheet and corresponding graph that shows the changes over time, which will come in handy when trying to determine how much space to plan for down the road.

Posted by mike at 8:59 AM

May 7, 2005

In Fargo, North Dakota

This weekend (Thursday night through Sunday) I'm in Fargo, North Dakota. Why? My father's been on the faculty at NDSCS (North Dakota State College of Science) for 30 years and is retiring. Pete and I (at Pete's suggestion) decided to come in for a retirement party. We surprised dad and mom by just showing up at their place on Thursday evening, unannounced. It was quite a site to see their faces (coming to North Dakota isn't something we do every day).

The retirement party was on Friday afternoon and was really quite an experience. People from all over the college, including the president, came to the event. There was a small social and then a more formal presentation. Former faculty, administration, current students, former students and staff (plus us two family memebers) all enjoyed the comments of various deans, co-workers, students etc. In general the comments were about dad's commitment to good education for the students and how many new initiatives he spearheaded or introduced during his tenure.

Pete and I were given just a few minutes to talk and we both spoke about the origins of our computer use starting at Old Main at the NDSCS campus where they had once had a large mainframe, but by our time had some of the earlier personal computers. We believe that's the place we first played with computers, stopping into the lab after school and staying until late.

Saturday (today) we hung out with dad and mom and saw more of their current regular hang-outs, including a trip to Bismark, the state capitol.

Posted by mike at 8:31 AM

May 6, 2005

In the Process of Buying (and Selling) a Home

After almost a year of watching the MLS listings in our area we've found something we like (ok, we love it) and put our house up for sale.

Our current home went on the MLS yesterday and we've already got some showings today. An open house is planned for Sunday. We've put a lot of work into the house (mainly cosmetic) and although we're very excited to move to something bigger, it's a little sad to think we might be leaving it behind.

We made an offer on the new house this past Monday, within 24 hours of being inside it for the first time. The house is close to the kids school (in the historic, West End part of Malden) and we'd seen it from the outside many times but thought it was out of our league. Last Sunday our realtor got us an appointment just to see what it was like. I think we knew within just a few minutes of walking in that it was the right place for us. The home inspection was yesterday morning and showed no significant problems.

Hopefully we can pull this all off. Our realtor is keeping track of how many balls we have up in the air and every time something else falls into place she says "we've caught another ball.' Hopefully we can catch all of them.

Posted by mike at 2:54 AM

May 4, 2005

All 1st Drafts of ProMySQL are Complete

Tonight I sent off the last 1st draft for the MySQL book I'm co-authoring, ProMySQL. That's not to say the work is done, most of my 1st drafts are already back in my inbox and waiting for attention to the comments from the techincal editor, editor and project manager. I've turned in four chapter 2nd drafts so far, seven more to go and then we get into the copy editing round where we less about the technical and more about the use of the English language. After that there's the round of layout approval and feedback and then I think we're close.

Needless to say, I'm spending all of my free time (except a little bit for food, family and selling our house) working on this.

Posted by mike at 11:08 PM