Zorin's blog


There was an *opossum* eating out of the food bowl I leave for the neighborhood cats on the patio.

I shit you not. I didn't even know there were opossums around here. I also didn't know they like cat food. And I realize "pics or it didn't happen", but of course it was gone by the time I got my camera.

I guess leaving the food out overnight is going to be out of the question. I don't mind feeding the few neighborhood cats that come along, but I'd like to keep my charity confined to a single species.

Someone was too lazy to unplug the cable...

(click to embiggen)

I love Spotlight in Leopard...

If you are running Mac OS X Leopard, hit cmd-space, then type in an algebraic equation, for instance:

( 2000.00 * 0.04 ) / 365

Watch as it evaluates it for you right there. You can even use scientific functions like sin, cos, tan, and so on.

Firefox pet peeve

Ever see this dialog when trying to return to a search results page?

Arrrgh. This is especially irritating when it's a search results page that took a long time to load, on a slow server.

Why can't they add a "View cached version anyway" button so that you can see the page as it was before you navigated away from it? Sure, you can open new tabs from the search results page instead of just clicking the links, but by the time you see this dialog it's a bit too late to decide to do this.

Power outage!

There was a power outage on campus yesterday. The geniuses that set up the building generator were kind enough to put lights, elevators and *vending machines* on the emergency power, but neglected the server rooms and pretty much everything else. The result was having to do a cold start for the first time since the last hurricanes a couple years ago. There were some issues, but thankfully no failed disk drives this time. The outage weeded out a few bad UPSes which will be summarily executed and replced as well.

Seriously, vending machines? Why do they need to be on the generator? Is the ability for people to buy a soda while the power is out more important than keeping the computers running?

Sunpass Idiocy

Here in Florida we have the Sunpass toll collection system. You put a little transponder in your car and it pays tolls automatically as you go through them.

Well, that's nice. But apparently the system that automatically replenishes the account balance and the system that checks if your credit card is expired are out of sync with each other.

I faithfully updated my credit card when I got my new one a month before the old one expired. All was well.

Then I noticed on my way back from FWA last weekend that my balance had hit zero.

I checked the website and found that the "auto-replenish" had turned off. So I turned it back on. All was well.

Today in the mail I get two letters. The first one says that my credit card had expired, so auto-replenish had been turned off. The second was a nastygram of sorts that said using the transponder with a zero balance is a violation of the rules and can lead to "uniform traffic citations". I can't find a definition of this UTC anywhere on their site, but I suspect it's a fancy term for "ticket".

Gee, thank you for telling me a week later what a horrible criminal I am because YOUR system doesn't handle credit card expirations properly!

Oh yeah, and they did eventually tack on all the tolls I went through when the balance was zero, so they got my money *anyway*. Why are they complaining?

Jurassic Park

Whenever I hear the Jurassic Park theme, I think about... SGI!

Gods I am hopeless... :)

(For those not in the know, SGI computers were very prominent in that movie, in the "control room" scenes. This was back when SGI made the best graphics systems around, *period*. They were a huge company that supplied all of Hollywood and more with graphics workstations. Now they are but a mere ghost of their former self, and may cease to be soon.)

No shit, sherlock...

How long until we have a few dozen students trapped on the second floor, unable to figure out how to go "down"? ;)

eSATA is neat

I just set up a LaCie Quadra 4TB RAID array at work. We needed to buy an eSATA card to get the maximum performance out of it.

I like the board layout. Notice the traces to the eSATA ports; two pairs of perfectly parallel traces from the ASIC to each port. I'm so glad signal processing has reached the point where we can shove ungodly rates down serial lines; remember what a mess parallel buses are? Compare the elegance of the eSATA traces to the mess of PCI bus traces on the lower part of the board.

In any case the drive works great, though I had to partition it using Linux LVM since fdisk doesn't support single volumes bigger than 2TB. Soon 3TB will be online for the database group (4TB * 0.75 due to RAID5) and they will be happy.

The Miami Tropical Hamboree appears to be done for good. (or not)

I've been attending the Miami Tropical Hamboree since 1994. Not only that, but the show had been running continuously for over four decades! But as you can see on that out-of-date web page, it appears that the Hamboree folks have quit and aren't going to put the show on anymore.

For those who don't know, a Hamboree, or Hamfest, is an amateur radio show. Even though the show focuses mostly on amateur radio itself, which can be pretty interesting, in the last decade or so hamfests have become general geekfests, with every electronic gadget of every age you can possibly imagine up for display and sale. For a gadget geek like myself, this is paradise and I looked forward to attending the event every year.

Why did they quit? I have no idea, really. Last year they used the excuse that the Hamboree coincides with the Superbowl, and this caused many attendees to deal with a lower turnout on Sunday and/or annoyance that they miss the game. I think this is hogwash, as the Hamboree had coincided with the Superbowl many years in a row, and this never really caused much of a problem in the past. My suspicion is they were tired of running the show, and wanted a convenient excuse to stop. Missing your first year after over four decades is a good way to do this; attendees will give up and go to another show instead.

This post on my blog has links to photos from the 2003 and 2004 hamfests, so you can see some of the esoteric and geeky stuff for sale at these events. I am certainly going to miss going to the Hamboree year after year.

If you are one of the show's former staff and are reading this post after finding it through Google, how about making a comment? At least tell us why you stopped running this fun show. Because really, whining about the Superbowl does *not* justify this. You have destroyed over four decades of ham radio tradition in the Miami area.

EDIT 2/2/2008: Well, the site has come back from the dead, and they say they will have a show in Fall 2008. Here's hoping. I wonder if someone googled and saw this post and decided to set the record straight.

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