Jul 19 2013
On Sunday June 23rd, my daughter and I were due to fly home from Montreal, through Chicago, to San Diego. Our flight was UA3466 at 6:31p from Montreal, and UA1061 at 8:45p from Chicago.
Jul 19 2013
On Sunday June 23rd, my daughter and I were due to fly home from Montreal, through Chicago, to San Diego. Our flight was UA3466 at 6:31p from Montreal, and UA1061 at 8:45p from Chicago.
Apr 21 2012
My aunt Frances passed away recently, more about that here. Frances was a founding member of the Glasnevin Musical Society and many of her great friends are also members. Frances left specific instructions for her mass, and one of the Society friends took over and organized the whole thing, including liaising with the church folks. She was awesome! They sang at the service on Saturday and they were beautiful! I captured some of the sound on my iphone.
Apr 07 2012
I’ve been a very happy user of the Twitter client Tweetdeck for a long time. I’m on 0.38.1 because I don’t want to upgrade into the mess it has become. But finally, some features are not working well on my aging version- threading is a mess, and some images won’t render – so I’m looking at where to go next.
On mjgiarlo’s recommendation, I’m trying out the Chrome extension version of Tweetdeck (TD). Right away this requires that I run Chrome, and I already do, but a lot the people I support do not, so I can’t help them as much as before. It installed just fine, and once I remembered my TD login, my account connected well. It did forget my notification settings (NO SOUND!!!), but that was easy to fix.
Having TD as part of the browser is really different from it running as a separate app. First, I have to remember to fire it up in a tab – this is probably automatable, but not something I normally do. Next, I liked having TD in its own window, so I pulled that tab out as its own window. My default window size only held 3 columns, and I like to see 4 – my main twitter list, the @declan column, the DM column, and the Home/All tweets column. Easily fixed by expanding the window, but I have to manually do this every time I fire up Chrome now. Kind of a pain in the butt.
When I click links in a tweet, it opens in a new tab, but in the same window as TD, covering TD. When using TD as a client, links would open in my browser, over on the right side of the screen, and leave TD where it was. The current tab switching is visually jarring.
I’m also noticing that the scrolling of the columns is annoying. While I’m off reading something from a link, the TD column has moved and I lose my place in the list of tweets. I have to scroll back down and find where I left off.
The screen is a little busy too. Well, a lot busy. I don’t mind white text on a dark background, tho I know many who do. I do mind the chunky font – I think the client was smoother. Maybe I can tweak something in Chrome to deal with this, but will it mess with everything else? Also, as I’m reading from bottom to top of the column, I move the mouse pointer up to the next tweet, and the reply, RT, etc. icons pop up dynamically on each tweet. Again, visually jarring.
The scrolling wheel/swipe action in the columns is very nice. The client version was always more jumpy.
Hitting Enter in a tweet puts in a carriage return rather than sending the tweet – so I have to leave the keyboard to click on send. Different, but not terrible.
I’m going to try it out a few more days, then maybe look at some other suggestions I got. I use Echofon on the iphone and have played with the desktop client a bit. I really miss the multi column tho. Hootsuite comes highly recommended, as does MetroTweet and Janetter.
Mar 07 2012
On a recent trip to Ireland, I played around with perspective and depth of field to capture a light house in a link of chain:
I wonder if it would be better as a flatter image, with the chain in focus too…
Mar 04 2012
I run a wiki for CURATEcamp, using Mediawiki. I don’t run it well, so it got full of spam. I learned how to add a little math script to each page edit, and that slowed down the spam for a while, but it’s easy to hack and the spam started flowing again. So now I have 700+ pages of spam and more coming in every day. So I have 3 problems to solve:
Next, I found the page Preventing access and followed the instructions to add these lines to the LocalSettings.php file:
# Disable anonymous editing $wgGroupPermissions['*']['edit'] = false;
That stopped the random adding of new spam.
Next, I started looking for easy clean up tools, and didn’t really find any. I could list all of the pages on the wiki, but I’d have to visit each one and delete it – a real pain for 700+ pages. I also had about 20 pages that I wanted to keep. I found a DeleteBatch extension that would allow me to put the spam page names into a text box (or text file) and delete them all at once.
Now I needed to generate a list of spam page names, so I went to the Special Page that lists All pages, and cut and pasted those into an Excel spreadsheet. It was a bit of a pain because the list was in three columns, and split into three pages, but I just dragged and dropped the list around in Excel until I had it all as one column. Most of the spam pages are user pages, and the titles of the pages end in a number. So I set up a second column that chopped the last 2 characters from the page title:
then had a third column which was a conditional that repeated the page title if it ended in a number. I bet I could have made it simpler with some function that converts a cell made up of a word and a number, like “ClardyGarces959” into just “959” but I couldn’t remember how to do that.
Next, I sorted by this column, which grouped all of the page titles that ended in a number. I visually inspected the list, and I’m glad I did because some of my legitimate pages also ended in numbers. I deleted those from the list, then pasted the list of known spam page titles into DeleteBatch.
This left me with a handful of spam pages that I had to pick through individually, but way fewer than before.
Hope this helps someone else with the same problem!
Make sure to look for pages in spaces other than Main. I found a bunch more User: pages full of spam, and uses the same methods as above to quickly get rid of them.
Feb 20 2012
Last Monday my aunt Peg (from my father’s side) called to say that her younger sister, my aunt Frances, had been diagnosed with cancer and if I’d like to see her I should come now. This was a complete shock as Nathan and I had just seen her last January. Here she is with my uncle Frank (from my mother’s side):
Peg and Frances are my Dad’s last two sisters alive. Frances lives in Dublin, Ireland so I got a flight out of San Diego on Wednesday morning and landed on Thursday morning.
Frances’ lovely neighbor, Adrian, and Peg picked me up, we dropped my bags at the house, then he dropped us at the hospital. I won’t go into all of the details, but Frances knows I’m here and is receiving palliative care to keep her pain free. We are going day by day but Frances’ condition is terminal.
I’m grateful that I got to see her, that I can support my aunt Peg, that I’ve met so many of Frances’ friends, of Elaine, Nathan, and Erin constantly checking on me, and that work has been 100% supportive of my being gone.
I’m staying in my father’s childhood home, which has been in the family since the 1920s.
Frances is the last of her line left in Ireland (Peg lives in England), so the house will now go on the market. I’ve visited this house 4 times in my life but I was always comforted to know it, and my family was here. It is so strange to see things coming to an end.
This is all very sad. I haven’t tweeted out about it because it’s hard to get into 140 characters, and because I know I’ll get a torrent of kind words and then I’ll completely lose my shit. But as my aunt Peg says, “you wouldn’t have been born with tear ducts if you weren’t supposed to cry.” Crazy old woman. 😉
Frances passed away peacefully at noon today, 2/21/12. We’re keeping busy with visitors and arrangements.
UPDATE 2 2/27/12
It’s been an active week. Peg and I did a lot of calls to let people know. We went to the church to set up the services (short service on Friday, long mass on Saturday, followed by the burial). We visited the funeral home to have the remains dealt with, and to take care of the obituary, which was online before we even got home. We set up a reception for after the Friday service. We dug through piles of paper and drawers and things that seem way too personal for us to be looking at. But that’s our job now. It’s surreal.
Tons of friends and the few family left in Ireland were stopping by the house to sit and talk – and drink tea. The Fleming family has amazing family friends from the the old and new neighbors and they all stopped in at some point to lend support.
On Friday, the remains arrived at the house for a viewing from 2p-5p, then the crowd walked behind the hearse up to St. Columbus church, where Frances had been a very active parishioner for her whole life. Peg and I were carried in a limo, so we picked up the little old ladies who couldn’t walk that well. There was a short service with over 100 people attending, then Peg invited people to a local hotel for soup and sandwiches. About 45 people came over to the hotel, which is good, because that’s how many we reserved 😉
Frances was a founding member of the Glasnevin Musical Society and many of her great friends are also members. Frances left specific instructions for her mass, and one of the Society friends took over and organized the whole thing, including liaising with the church folks. She was awesome! They sang at the service on Saturday and they were beautiful! I captured some of the sound on my iphone. When I get home I’ll try to clean up the sound and see if it comes anywhere near the reality. The mass was followed by a drive to the Glasnevin cemetery for the burial. Take a look at that Wikipedia link. There are 1.5 million people buried in that cemetery, and the monuments are enormous! I’ve never seen anything like it. Then some us went to a local pub for lunch and to decompress.
I wanted Peg to get away from all of this on Sunday, so we asked a good friend from across the street, Adrian, to drive us to Powerscourt waterfall in beautiful County Wicklow, just south of County Dublin. We ended up overshooting and ended up about 40 km south, and never made it into Powerscourt, but we saw some beautiful country and mountains. Even in February, this is a gorgeous country.
Today, we visited the family solicitor to get all the legal stuff going. Neither Peg nor I live in Ireland, so there were a lot of questions, but we got it started. I head home on Wednesday, and Peg is hanging out in Dublin for a few more weeks to work through the issues. I hate leaving her alone, but I can’t wait to get home either. I’ve had assurances that the friends here will keep her company. I’m looking into coming back in the summer to help with closing up the house for sale.
So, that’s the facts, ma’am. I’m really looking forward to getting home to my family and looking back on all this. I’m even looking forward to going back to work! I could use some normality back in my day. Finally, I’m looking forward to getting back to the gym. EVERYTHING is fried here. And awesome. 😉
Jan 21 2012
I’m obsessing about a talk I’m giving at one of my favorite conferences, code4lib. My talk proposal is about how we deal with whatever metadata comes our way. For those of you not inside my head at this moment, “we” is where I work, part of which is in developing software for and maintaining a Digital Asset Management System (DAMS). A digit asset is just a computer file, or set of files – often a picture, sound file, PDF, or video – that you have some desire to promote beyond just sitting on one person’s computer, unmanaged. We all have computer files coming out of our ears, but we know there are some that are more “valuable” than others that we’d like to give special treatment. So we call them digital assets and get then moved into some sort of management system beyond the random file systems on our desktops. This system is a DAMS.
I see a DAMS as a secure, reliable file system set up with good organization rules, and a goal of making the assets easy to find. Here are some of the rules I like to see followed:
As I noted above, I’m only talking about RDF and metadata at code4lib. What I’m obsessing about is that the talk is only 20 minutes. I usually talk about our DAMS in about an hour, and I’m only getting warmed up in the first 20 minutes. So I’ve got to empty my head of all this other DAMS stuff and laser down on just the RDF and metadata part.
We didn’t choose RDF because of the newish Linked Open Data (LOD) movement. Our (now retired) architect, Chris Frymann, was aware of the possibility but this was nearly ten year ago and LOD was barely a twinkle on the horizon. Previous to this job, I had been working in industry for years, so this approach looked silly and academic. Once Chris had me drink the RDF Kool-Aid, we envisioned a system that embraced flexibility from the start.
RDF is so simple and so terrifyingly different from the fixed database world that I was used to. Instead of a well defined table, or tables, we had millions of triples. We didn’t even have a triple store, just three columns in an SQL database.
What is wonderful about this approach was that each triple is somewhat self documenting. A triple is made up of a Subject, a Predicate, and an Object:
We use our asset’s unique identifier, the ARK, as our Subject. Now we needed to describe the assets with their metadata – so we started creating Predicates that could hold types of metadata. Three years later…. no really. This was probably one of the hardest things to do, and I’m not sure we’ll ever stop doing it. Some of our original assets had MARC records, and there were ways to convert MARC to RDF. Lots of deep discussions among metadata librarians, asset owner librarians, and the tech folks came to the conclusion that we wanted to cast our metadata into specific namespaces, namely MODS, PREMIS, and MIX. This was way beyond the Dublin Core defaults that other products were using, but we knew RDF was flexible enough to accomodate just about anything, so we just did it.
Guided by the head of our Metadata Analysis and Specification Unit (MASU – lots of great detail at that link), Brad Westbrook, we started specing out what the metadata needs were for each asset. Ok, that’s a lie… We did it per “collection” which was how we actually received assets from the librarians. Our DAMS works at the asset level, but our librarians normally think at the collection level. This was just another layer of translation that the MASU group stepped up to play a liaison role in getting the assets ingested. Over time, this became a workflow where:
Ok, someone tell me how to get all that into 20 minutes… 😉 The Assemble Plan alone is an intense spreadsheet and text document that explains what is needed. Then the translation scripts are another challenge to present without everyone going cross eyed. Not to mention this thing of beauty!
That’s all of the metadata and relationships of one asset. Maybe I’ll just put that on the screen and take questions for 20 minutes… 😉
Jan 10 2012
So, I have an iPad – 64G, 3G, ATT. It’s a work device that I use all the time, especially for travel and in the gym so I have something to distract me from 40 minutes of hell on the elliptical. Over the holiday break, I committed to getting into the gym every other day. Our YMCA was open until 4p on New Year’s Eve, and I was sweating my fat butt off right up until the place closed. I took a quick stop in the men’s room, and hustled out the door as they were closing up.
It was later on the next day that I realized that I couldn’t find my iPad. I looked in all the usual places, scoured the house and car, and tried out the “Find My iPad” app on icloud. Once it didn’t show up, I realized that I must have left it in the men’s room at the Y! Well, the Y was closed all day, so I left voicemail there and told myself to get to bed early so I could hit their door at the 5:30am opening on 1/2. I also changed all my passwords, and deactivated the device from all the important services.
I actually went to bed at 1am (damn Skyrim), but was up and out the door at 5:20a and at the Y at 5:30a. My buddy Damon was also just pulling up for a very early swim class, because he is insane.
We walked in and I asked at the front desk if the iPad had been turned in, but nope. I wasn’t surprised, as they’d been closed up solid since I left it, so I walked over to check the men’s room. Uh oh, no iPad… I went back to the front desk and I filled out a slip saying what I’d lost and the nice young lady said they’d talk to more staff as they came in later. In fact it might take until tomorrow as there were people still out on the the holiday break. I was upset, but mostly at myself for leaving it behind. I kept trying the “Find My iPad” app, but nothing. I saw there was a way to send a message to the iPad, so I put my phone number in there. I also noticed a switch that would send me an email when it was found – so I hit that too. I printed some LOST IPAD signs, and went back and stuck them up around the Y. Worried, but feeling like I’d done all I could, I went about my day, keeping my eye on my email and occasionally trying the app again.
Then at 9:29p:
Woohoo! Someone at the Y found it and turned it on, right?!? I ran to the computer and hit the location link, expecting to see a map of my neighborhood and the Y. Instead, the device is showing up about 24.4 miles to the south, in a town called El Cajon!
I have a screen grab of the map with the green dot locating the iPad right on a specific address, but I’m not sure of I should post that. I’ll get into that more later. Basically, I KNEW where my iPad was, and it was nowhere NEAR the place I’d lost it. Suddenly I had a theft situation rather than a dummy-lost-his-iPad situation. So I did what a normal person would do and called the police.
I called the San Diego Police non-emergency line and explained the story so far to what sounded like a very overworked lady. She asked if there was a police report, and I said no because I just now discovered that it was stolen. She directed me to a web site to fill out a form to get the police report started. I got a little panicked and said “but I can see it now! Why can’t we go get it?!” to which I got more of a push toward the web site to fill out a report. I’m sure those of you who know I run an IT shop and highly promote a central ticketing system are just laughing your heads off at this delay… but, to my mind, time was of the essence! I pressed harder and she said she could give me the El Cajon Police Dispatch number, but wasn’t sure what they might do for me.
So I called them and they listened to the story, then asked for a police report. Le Sigh – I don’t have one because… blah blah – go fill one out and call us back. Ok, back to the web site, filled it out, grumbled about UI design, got the confirmation email and number, and called back El Cajon. They said come on down and we’ll have a squad car meet you by the address and do a “Peace Call.” It’s 10:30p by now, and I’m all amped up from the situation, so Elaine says she’s going with me. We hop in the car and head south for the 20-30 minute drive.
On the drive, Elaine has the “Find My iPad” app going on my iPhone, but it goes red, meaning that the device is no longer on. We’re committed tho, so we keep going – at or below the speed limit, of course. We get to the arranged meeting spot at 11p, on the same block as the address that showed up on my map, and wait. In a little bit of a sketchy looking place. Surrounded by suspected iPad stealers! At about 11:40p I call back to dispatch and they say no one is available, but they know we’re waiting. About five minutes later, 2 squad cars pull up and I get to tell the story again.
The cops were great, and offered to go knocking on doors, but that address is a 50 unit apartment complex. Given that GPS can be +/- 25m, the dot on my map could encompass 6-8 apartment units in the 2 story building. Added to that, the building is “known cop-unfriendly” and not a nice place. As soon as they started asking questions, everyone would know about it, and I’d probably never see my device again. And since the device was no longer responding to the app, I couldn’t make it sound off to make it easier to find.
At this point, I was frustrated to know that I was within a block of my iPad, but could do nothing about it. The cops offered a few suggestions, such as sending a message to the unit offering a reward, and to watch Craigslist, – something I should have thought of myself! They were both adamant that I NOT meet with anyone from Craigslist without the police. They told me of someone who’d been killed in San Diego not long ago after confronting a Craigslist person. They also suggested sharing the address with the people at the Y to see if an employee or member matched. We drove back home, defeated and deflated. I sent a lock command to the device, setting a password and with the reward message, then we headed to bed.
On the way to work on Tuesday, we stopped into the Y and talked with a manager, telling her the whole story. She happened to also be the HR person and said they had no one working in El Cajon, but that they contracted out their cleaning and they’d follow up with them. I then headed into work and one of my guys suggested that I send a wipe command from our email server. Even though I’d changed my email password, I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to also wipe my work email from it, so I did. More on that later…
In the meantime, I’d been watching Craigslist, and got a match! 64G iPad, 3G, ATT! So I set up a fake gmail account and mailed the Craigslist email address. I also mailed one of the cops for advice about how to deal with the mails I would send, and he got back to me with some thoughts. I got a response back soon after I went to bed from the Craigslist person, asking how close I was to his asking price, and if I could come get it now.
The facilities manager at the Y called me on Wednesday, very upset about the whole situation, and said he was following up with the cleaning people. I later ran into him when I was working out and he was very nice and concerned that the cleaning company hadn’t gotten back to him. I could really tell he cared personally and as a representative of the Y.
The Craigslist response back was from a hotmail account with a person’s name, so I passed that name on to the cops in email and with a call to the Y facilities manager. It was probably a made up account, but it was worth trying.
I had to run out of town for a day for work, so I didn’t reply back to the Craigslist person until tonight, asking for more details about the iPad he was selling – as advised by the cop. I got back a very short reply saying “Too bad, I sold it for $200” and that was it. I mailed back thanking him for the info, thinking that I might be able to squeeze more info later by being nice.
So, now we’re up to Friday, and nothing seems to be happening.
On Saturday morning the phone rings at 9am. It was a lady from the Y asking if I’d lost an iPad, because they had it at the front desk! I said “very interesting!” and that I’d be in to pick it up. I went right over and it was my iPad, grey cover and all! I asked the ladies at the desk if they knew more about where it came from. One of them said that she’d closed the night before and that it wasn’t there, but when she’d opened this morning, there it was on the front desk!
The device was all out of power, so I got home and plugged it in, trying hard not to touch it too much because I had some thoughts of trying to lift the fingerprints I’d see on it (this is a lot harder than you’d think… 😉 ). I’d fully expected the device to be wiped to factory default – especially if it was being sold off – but it popped up with my background screen (which includes my name) and all my apps installed. It also started syncing with my Mac over wifi, so I left it alone to charge up and get caught up. I was a little worried that maybe it had some phone home software installed or something, then I remembered that I’m not that interesting.
I did not have a password on the device when I lost it, mainly because it’s a pain in the neck to use it all the time, and because my wife and kid use the device sometimes and I didn’t want to keep reminding them of the password. I thought I’d dealt with this by sending the lock and password command when it was gone, but I was surprised that the device asked for no password when I turned it on. In fact, I was able to play around with it for about 20 minutes with no problem. I also noticed that my reward message wasn’t on it. It wasn’t until I ran the “Find My iPad” app again from icloud that the lock came on and the message appeared. I don’t know why the lock didn’t happen as soon as the device got power.
Another lovely feature was that work email wipe command I’d sent. I assumed that it would wipe my email – but nope, it wiped the whole device! The iPad had been prompting me for my email password, since I’d changed it days ago. I went ahead and put it in, looked away, and when I looked back, the device was wiped and asking for a setup language! So, no worries about spy software, but that was a surprise. I ran a restore from my computer and it all came back in about 30 mins.
Imagine my surprise this morning when it was wiped again! I guess I needed to totally delete the device from my work email server’s awareness for it to stop trying to wipe it. I’m afraid to put my work email password into it now tho! 😉
By now the device is in full working order and I’m back on track!
But I’m left with a LOT of questions! I called and left a voicemail with the Y facilites manager. He called back, unaware that I’d gotten it back! He was thrilled and I asked, “What did you do?!?” He said he still hadn’t heard back from the cleaning company, but he was even more interested in talking to them now. I am dying to hear what he learns!
I’m gonna go ahead an publish, even though there are a lot of questions unanswered. I’ll add more later as I know it. I’ll also tack some other lessons learned on here, and more as I think of them:
Aug 05 2011
I’m doing a small write up for a silent auction of “beer baskets” at work where I’m trying to help people who may be new to the craft beer scene get the most of out of a visit to one of our donor beer places. Below is what I have so far and I KNOW I’m over generalizing, but I don’t want to overwhelm people who are just starting. I describe how I help people who want to choose something new quickly, but I’m open to other approaches. Please drop your thoughts in the comments.
It is important to me that you get the most out of your visits to the restaurants and breweries. On the breweries tours, you will be presented with a spectrum of beers to choose at each location. At the restaurants, though, you will see menus (even books!) that list beer after beer. This can be very intimidating and I urge you to take this opportunity to try something new or unfamiliar. Most locations offer small “tasters” of a beer for $2, and some of them will even splash enough in a glass for you just to try for free.
Talk to your waiter or bartender and tell them what you like. These locations are well known for knowledgeable wait staff who can discuss beers quite extensively. There are books written about the myriad beer styles, but here is how I help someone decide what to try:
Decide if you’d like to go lighter or darker. While this is not always true, lighter colored beers often accentuate the hop flavors, which can range from bitter to grassy to floral. They are more often dryer than darks. The dark beer range starts with reds, browns, and ambers and extends all the way into barrel aged stouts. They can be heavier and contain more alcohol. They often have a lot of flavor, especially when they have aged for a while in an oak or bourbon barrel.
Next, if you’ve gone lighter, decide if you’d like floral or more bitter. Different types of hops are used to shape these flavors and your server should know the range. If you’ve gone dark, decide if you’d like bitter or sweet. Some really nice stouts are given a bitter flavor with unsweetened chocolate, and others are so sweet they can serve as a dessert.
These are REALLY rough guidelines, just to help you tell the server what kind of mood you are in and what you prefer. I highly recommend you try a range of what you think you’ll like. Then ask for a taster of something strange to you. There is a whole world of sour and fruit beers that is just amazing.