Mack and Em are back at School today. They were both pretty excited, with Mack starting his first full-day year, in Grade 1, and Emily moving on to Grade 4. The little bit of French speaking they did with some boys they met at our Campground in Jasper who were from Paris may have helped get them warmed up for French immersion again.
There are a couple of disappointments with the start of this school year, for me as a parent. First is that school starts today, and the province-wide centennial celebrations are tomorrow. It has something to do with the terms of the teacher’s contract that they have to provide so many teaching hours, but you would think the school board could have started two days later, or one day earlier or something so that the kids would be out of school on our province’s 100th birthday. It’s short-sighted and mean-spirited, and I can’t imagine how it could be in the kids’ best interests.
The other thing that might be disappointing (if the rumour proves true) is that Mack might be getting screwed for a second year in a row by having a teacher who goes on maternity leave halfway through the school year.
I realize teachers have their own lives and everything, but it’s pretty unfair and difficult on kintergarten and grade one kids to have to adjust to a new teacher part-way through the year. Maybe impending maternitiy leave teachers should be given classes of older kids instead.
It was a problem for Mack in Kindergarten, even though both his teachers were very good. He has exceptional reading and math abilities, both at about a grade 3 level already, but he’s shy. It takes him a while to warm up to new adults, and eventually show what he can do. By the time we were able to communicate his abilities to his teacher last year, she left on maternity leave, and then we had to go through the same skepticism with the next teacher, trying to show her what he could do all over again.
This year we’ve involved a school counsellor, to do some tests on Mack’s learning abilities, so that his strengths and weak areas can be more effectively communicated to his teachers. That way, if there’s a way that the school can foster his learning, and stave off boredom with school that some overachievers get, we won’t have to waste half the school year getting the teacher to buy into it.
I read a lot of weblogs and news sites that publish articles on a frequent basis. You can read these sites on your web browser, or you can use a feed reader like I’ve blogged about before. I tried Blam! which didn’t work out so well, and then I switched to Sage in Firefox which worked OK, but today I found a new one and I think it’s going to stick around for a while. It’s Opera!
“But, hey, isn’t Opera a web browser too? I though you used Firefox,” you say.
That’s true, but I noticed on Slashdot that Opera is celebrating their 10th anniversary, and they were giving out free registration codes. I used to use Opera, and I was interested enough in Opera to download and try it again. I discovered, in back-tracking all my Tower Software subscribers that Opera has awesome feed support. I am just going to configure it as a sort-of dedicated feed reader, and keep on using Firefox as my web browser of choice.
Opera has really easy feed subscription, via a little RSS button in it’s address bar, and once you’ve subscribed to a feed, it works just like email. Plus, it has mouse gesture navigation, and is really fast. I used to love Opera before Firefox came out, and I may have a bit of former-user-bias with it, but I just haven’t been satisfied with any other reader yet.
This site is syndicatable, meaning other websites or users with web tools called feed readers (of which there are many) can subscribe to my weblog, and get notified when I post a new entry. I generally don’t know who reads this weblog, as the access log is huge, and I normally don’t bother looking at it. Today, for fun, I was perusing the access log to see what browsers most of my readers use. I noticed regular occurrances of some feed readers accessing the site on a daily basis. One I saw was Sharpreader, a Windows rss reader, and another was Newsfire, for Mac. A third was Liferea for Linux, and a fourth was Onfolio, a plugin for Internet Explorer in Windows. The interesting thing about all these rss readers was that they all were accessing my site from the same IP address subnet, which means they were probably multiple people from the same company. I did a reverse lookup on one of the IP addresses, and guess what I found?
dig -t ptr 254.68.17.203.in-addr.arpa.
254.68.17.203.in-addr.arpa. 120 IN PTR tower-gw.towersoft.com.au.
That’s right, I have some subscribers from Tower Software, makers of TRIM Context, the enterprise software we use for records management. Hi Tower guys! I knew they periodically looked at my blog, from communications I’ve had with them before, but I didn’t realize there were any subscribers. From my log files, it appears I only have about a dozen subscribers, and at least four of them are from Tower. Wow.
That’s customer attention, all right. I’ve had difficulty with their software, but when you communicate your problem to them, they go out of their way to make sure it gets handled.
I’m back to work from my two weeks off. I spent most of the time with Jenn and the kids camping in Jasper. Apart from one or two rainy nights up there, we had glorious sunny days, while the poor saps at home had to put up with much rain. That always makes the holiday a little better. I’ll make a longer entry about Jasper, and what we saw and where we went when I get a little time.
As a test for when I’m on vacation, this is a test post with me using my laptop connected via USB to my cellphone and using the phone as a modem to connect to a dial-up ISP. It works great, even if it is a little slow. At least I’ll be able to make blog entries if I want, or upload photos or whatever.
I was building a VMWare virtual machine running Windows XP today in Engineering. I wanted to do a base XP install, from the factory CD I got yesterday, and then patch it until it was completely up to date. I started yesterday. Here’s what Windows Update’s website looked like after about 20 reboots of the VM this afternoon.
I don’t ever think I’ve seen this page before.
Go me! Today is one year since I started blogging. There are 241 blog entries in my blog so far, which averages out to one entry every 1.5 days. That’s pretty good, considering I didn’t know how I would be able to keep writing frequently enough to make this useful when I started.
Blogging is pretty fun when you get into it, and I haven’t had too many dry spells when I didn’t have anything to write about. It’s rather the reverse. My job involves lots of different stuff, all the time, and my family life is busy also, so it has not been possible for me to establish a regular shcedule for blog-writing. Often times stuff I want to write about never gets written because I can’t make time for it. Other times, I end up storing up several things I want to say, and then writing a bunch of entries in a row. The quality suffers from this, I think.
Anyways, I’m going to keep on blogging, and some day, after our vacation, hopefully, I’m going to upgrade my blog server so I can securely enable comments. I’d like some feedback. I know there are a fair number of visitors, thanks to my Apache logs, but comments that weren’t all spam would be a good blogging motivator.
Anyways, here’s to the next year.
When GroupWise 7 releases, I am planning to write a cross-platform version of my MailSaver program, which is basically a message saver for GroupWise, capable of dumping out large numbers of messages all at once to text files. GroupWise 7 has a SOAP API to talk to the postoffice agent, which allows you to write custom software that works as a GroupWise client.
This kind of development can be done in Mono c#, using a cross platform gui toolkit like Glade and GTK+. For those who don’t know, Mono is an open-source implementation of Microsoft’s .NET framework. Using Mono, you can write an application that runs on both Linux and Windows with a common codebase, and even a common executable file. You don’t even have to compile the program twice.
The other night I got to hacking on my laptop with the Mono c# compiler and Glade, a graphical GUI tool, and wrote a little application for speedreading text files. It basically flashes up each word of a text file in one spot on the screen one at a time. Each word stays up for a fraction of a second, and the length of time each word is displayed varies depending on the length of the word. The user can pause, or speed up and slow down the speed that the program displays words at.
The screen shot is not very illuminating, but it is a neat tool. You might think that this is kind of odd and not very useful, but suprisingly one can read extremely fast, in the order of 4 to six times faster than normally using this tool.
Anyways, here’s the tool running on Linux under Gnome, where I wrote it. It has a really basic interface, and I haven’t even given it the ability to open a file. You have to dump the text in via the command line. I’ll add that later.
Once I had it working, I copied just the exe file onto my iFolder, and from there into one of my Windows boxes in the lab. I installed Mono on the Windows box, and voila, here is the app running unmodified on Windows:
Cool. If I get it cleaned up and more user friendly, I’ll post the whole application to the Internet somewhere.
Well, I seem to have inadvertently discovered what was buggering up our storage server in May and June. The server had just about daily lost it’s mind and forgotten that it had an external RAID array attached. This was bad, as we were using the 2.6 TB of disk space on that array to do backups onto.
Last week I was doing some network cleanup, which included adding some SNMP monitoring to some of our boxes. I added the hpasm agents to the storage server last wednesday, so that we could use Insight Manager to monitor the status of the server. Friday, for the first time since the OS reinstall in late June, the array went poof again. I chalked it up to a glitch in the matrix. Then last night it did it again. The little light went on in my head, and I decided to delete the hpasm agents. We’ll watch it over the next week or so.
Here’s a piece of news that nearly brought tears to my eyes: Nasa “Return to Flight” mission on board the Space Shuttle Discovery landed safely this morning at Edwards Air Force Base. The Florida landing site was not used due to persistent thunder storms.
Regardless of whatever people say about the safety or lack thereof of the Space Shuttle fleet, and no matter what people think of the space program, one thing is certain. The astronauts who fly the shuttle are heroes. Welcome home Collins, Kelly, Robinson, Noguchi, Thomas, Lawrence and Camarda.