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Archive for May, 2008

Wii Fit

2008-05-23 Leave a comment

Jenn got us a Wii Fit a couple of days ago at Wal-Mart. I set it up last night and gave it a go. I tried all the strength training exercises that were available, the balance games, and some of the yoga ones, and then ran out of time. I will give the aerobic ones a go tonight.

One thing I discovered is that you need a big room to use it. A lot of the fitness exercises require some serious room. Particularly the things that put one foot on the balance board and one off, like lunges, or the Warrior pose in the yoga activities, and the v-sit exercises take up a lot of room. I found myself moving the couch out of the way, and even then I kept having to slide the balance board to different places on the floor to have enough room for each activity.

I noticed that there is a lot of clicking and futzing with the wiimote, pressing A all the time to continue. That’s a hassle, because during most of the exercises, you don’t want to have the wiimote in your hand, and because the exercises take so much room, you won’t be exercising close to a standing-height thing to quickly put the wiimote down on and pick it up again. I don’t want to lay it on the floor next to the balance board, because I don’t want my spastic balance to cause me to step on it. Being over six feet, with a BMI of (very high) if I stepped on the wiimote it would be dead. I may have to hack up some kind of small floor-friendly button that I can step on to simulate a press of the A button. Our DDR dance pad might work for that. Either that or I will have to rig up a thing to hang the wiimote from the ceiling and pull it down when I need it and have it auto-retract, like the microphone in the centre of a boxing ring.

Anyways, I did work up a sweat, and combined with the hour of swimming I did (real swimming) I burned a few calories all told.

Categories: Neat Geek Stuff Tags:

Little Brother

2008-05-14 3 comments

I just finished reading Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow. I read a lot, in the order of a couple of hundred books per year. Many books are promptly forgotten, but this is one I’m going to add to my re-reading pile. I’m also going to buy a few copies and give them to a few people. For those who are into reading e-books, the electronic versions of many of Cory Doctorow’s works are freely available from the author’s website, published under a creative commons license, like my blog. That right there earns my respect, and I’m presently perusing the rest of Cory Doctorow’s catalog.

I’m always having these discussions with my wife about this discomfort I have with the idea of surveillance societies and the loss of privacy (ironically, considering how much information about myself that I voluntarily publish). The book Little Brother is a fictional story about what gives me the willies about the attitude “I have nothing to hide, so why should I care if they video me everywhere, read my email and wiretap my phones?” I think that attitude is based on a logical fallacy, that privacy only has value to people who are hiding something. That’s called a false dichotomy. Privacy is valued by people who are not criminals and do not have a guilty conscience too. Otherwise, why do we have curtains? If you have the “I have nothing to hide” attitude, I suggest you read this paper on the fallacy of that idea, written by George Washington Law School Professor Daniel J. Solove. Click the link and scroll down to find several links to the actual PDF of the paper.

Surveillance societies give up essential freedoms in the name of safety. Unfortunately, the sacrifice of freedoms is generally in vain, because the increased surveillance of citizens does essentially nothing to prevent crime or terrorism. Search with Google. There are many many articles and reports indicating western societies are no safer from terrorism than before September 11. In fact, many think we’re worse off, and now we have the added fear of misuse of all the surveillance information by the authorities.

If, like me, you are Canadian, you might think that there’s not much surveillance going on in our country. If that’s the case, do a little experiment. When you’re out and about, think about every instance during your day when your location or activity is recorded by somebody or some automated system. Do you go into a store? You’re on video. Do you buy something with credit or debit? Somebody knows what you bought. Use cash? If so, what about your Safeway Club card or Save On More card? They still know what you bought. Buying online? Same thing. What about traffic cameras looking at your license plate as you travel around town? Somebody could know everywhere you’ve been, and when. Now read Little Brother, and think about the picture of your life that all those little points of surveillance that could be constructed if a single authority were able to combine all that?

Really, I’m only a little paranoid, and I freely share a lot of info about myself. However, as is famously and often stated, just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

Sleep well.

Deltek Vision a Year Later

2008-05-14 10 comments

I’ve been getting questions in the comments on my blog about our Deltek Vision system now that it’s been in and in production for a while. Instead of answering them in the comments, I thought I’d do a new post.

First, I’ll describe what we’ve settled on for our hardware deployment. We run Vision completely virtualized on two different VMware platforms, in a three-server configuration. We have a SQL Server 2005 server running Windows 2003 Server Enterprise edition as a VM on VMWare ESX Server on a dedicated blade server. We have a Vision reporting server (Actuate) running Windows 2003 Server Standard edition on ESX Server on a blade server that is shared with other workloads. We have a Vision Web Tier server running Windows 2003 Server Standard edition on VMWare Server (the free server virtualization product) on a SuSE Linux Enterprise Server host that is shared with other workloads. All physical servers use shared storage in a fibre-channel SAN.

The reason we settled on ESX Server for SQL Server 2005 is that under load, we couldn’t get SQL to behave properly in VMware Server. We tried various different setups, different filesystems on the VMware Server host, and in every instance SQL Server behaved in a flaky unpredictable manner, failing in various ways.

The reason we settled on ESX Server for the reporting tier was because we wanted to have a second ESX Server to run the SQL Server VM on in case the first ESX Server died, so we needed it anyways. Otherwise the Vision Reporting tier runs fine in VMware Server.

The end user interface is provided by the web tier which is just an IIS server in VMware Server. It is plenty fast enough for us. We have about 600 users give or take a few. This server is pretty lightweight, all told, and we could probably get away with running the web tier and the reporting tier on the same box, but that would limit our expandability, and we’re growing fast.

All in all, everything has worked great for the last year. My caveats are that you want to strongly consider running SQL Server either in ESX Server or on bare iron. The rest of Vision, at least for a company of our size, works great virtualized on moderately powerful server gear (ours is a couple of years old already).

You don’t generally run into performance issues, unless your accounting people are running big batch jobs or you are running maintenance routines or backups. If you can run all that off-hours, then you can get away with smaller hardware than if you have to do stuff like that during the day. If you are small (a couple of hundred users) you could probably run on one box, but I would recommend server-grade gear, not repurposed desktops. SQL Server is finicky regarding disk I/O and you want to be sure you have a fast disk subsystem. I would also consider the Vision hardware recommendations to be minimums. We doubled the recommended RAM and processor speed and it has worked out well for us. Plus it gives us room to expand. We were under 400 users when we started this.

U of A Wall of Fame Dinner

2008-05-09 Leave a comment

I went to the University of Alberta Sports Wall of Fame dinner last night, with the swimming alumni crowd. It was a big event with over 900 people in attendance, and raised a lot of money for U of A Wall of Fame scholarships. I took a couple of photos of our table and will post later.

It was good to run into Sam Cooper, Gavin Martinson, and pretty cool to meet Lori-Ann Muenzer at the event.

Congratulations to all the new inductees.

Categories: Swimming

My 40th Birthday

2008-05-05 3 comments

This past weekend was my 40th birthday party. Lots of my friends and family were over, and much beer was consumed. Much beer remains however, because despite the great quantity and variety that I bought in preparation for the party, lots of people also brought beer. My daughter informed me this evening that there are 73 bottles, six cans, and a bubba-keg of Heineken left. I’m going to have to have another party to get rid of the rest.

Anyways, it was great fun, and I really enjoyed getting together with friends old and new. Today I keep finding all the name tags that Jenn made up for everyone that say “Hi I’m with Old Fart” stuck in various hidden places around my house. Thanks guys!

Here’s the party, in 3 minutes. Surprise you guys, you were on candid camera.

Categories: Personal
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