Tuesday Nov 18, 2008

Being a family IT support guy

My mother in law's computer is heavily infected. Why, why not?

I've been using BleepingComputer to figure out how to clean it up.

As it wouldn't boot as far as I was concerned, I took out the hard drive and put in a USB enclosure. I then attached it to a laptop I was willing to reformat if necessary. I then ran a virus scanner and Spybot - Search and Destroy on it. When I thought it was clean enough, I got the PC to boot again.

And now I'm going through online tools to scan it again and again. I'll get each tool to report nothing and start a new tool up. Right now I'm working down the list on Preparation Guide For Use Before Posting A Hijackthis Log, Instructions for receiving help in cleaning your computer and I'm doing Ad-Aware 2008 Free. And it is half done with 528 infections found. ;<.

So it finally finishes all of the way. A hint is to not start a browser up before running Ad-Aware. It will find offenses in that case.


Originally posted on Kool Aid Served Daily
Copyright (C) 2008, Kool Aid Served Daily

Monday Nov 17, 2008

The Business of Blogging

Sometimes an inflight magazine actually has something of real interest to me, but I don't want to take the paper copy with me. I just want the one article. On a recent United Airlines flight, I came across this The Business of Blogging by Ethan G. Salwen. I've written about what I like to blog about and how to drive up hits (simple - write articles), but I was struck by two of Ethan's rules:

  1. Write 2 - 3 times a week.
  2. Provide 3 external links.

The first really restates my write articles rule.

The second deals with how external search engines will rank your blog. If you are linking out, your entry is taken to be more interesting.


Originally posted on Kool Aid Served Daily
Copyright (C) 2008, Kool Aid Served Daily

Tuesday Oct 07, 2008

Finally, the Python version of the old Perl script

I played about in the interactive Python shell trying to understand the data and how to tie it together. I learned about the difference between exec and eval for Python. I learned about capturing stdio and stdout for exec, but I couldn't figure out a way to automatically create variables in the proper scope in Python.

I even finally found a good quote on this at http://mail.python.org/pipermail/tutor/2005-January/035253.html:

> This is something I've been trying to figure out for some time.  Is
> there a way in Python to take a string [say something from a
> raw_input] and make that string a variable name?  I want to to this so
> that I can create class instances on-the-fly, using a user-entered
> string as the instance name.

This comes up regularly from beginners and is nearly always a bad
idea!

The easy solution is to use a dictionary to store the instances.

Nice to know I'm not the first to want to do this. But it did get me thinking, I have been calling this set of Perl scripts 'data dictionaries' for longer than I care to remember. And the code is not very legible at times. So, I decided to redo the script as:

#!/usr/bin/python

import sys

first_line = True

lang = []
iCounter = 0
for line in open(sys.argv[1]):
        line2 = line.lstrip()
        iCounter += 1

        if line2.startswith("!") or line2.startswith("#"):
                if first_line:
                        lang = line2[1:].split(",")
                        first_line = False
                continue
        splity = line2.split(",")
        dtemp = {}

        if len(splity) != len(lang):
                print "Error - args do not match header on line %d" % (iCounter)
                continue

        for i in range(len(splity)):
                dtemp[lang[i]] = splity[i]

        print "%s - %s: %s for %s\\n\\t%s\\n" % (
                dtemp['started'],
                dtemp['ended'],
                dtemp['title'],
                dtemp['company'],
                dtemp['description'])

dtemp['started'] is more verbose than $started, but it is clearer how I am generating the data. And I have more error checking (which I have yet to sanity check :->).

Anyway, this fails and I knew why almost right off the bat:

> ./r3.py r2.txt
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "./r3.py", line 33, in 
    dtemp['description'])
KeyError: 'description'

I was suspicious about that extra newline I mentioned way back in The simple version of the old perl script. I suspected that the entry line still had an extra one that I needed to remove. I.e., the data dictionary has a key for 'dictionary\\n' and not 'dictionary'.

The following change proved that:

for line in open(sys.argv[1]):
        line1 = line.lstrip()
        line2 = line1.rstrip()
        iCounter += 1

And some quick sanity checking of removing a column in one row and adding one in another row shows that my error checking works:

> ./r3.py r3.txt
Error - args do not match header on line 2
Error - args do not match header on line 3
4/01 - 6/01: Manager for Network Appliance
        Manager of Engineering Internal Test

10/99 - 4/01: System Administrator for Network Appliance
        Perl hacker and filer administrator

So I learned what I set out to do. I may never use this script, but it helped me learn some things the hard way. I didn't show all of the little syntax errors I had to fix (forgetting the ':', not indenting in the interactive shell, etc). But hopefully, I'll remember them.

I'll also claim that the script does meet my needs as did the old one. If I add a new field to the flat file, I won't have to change the script to get the current output! And yes, I just tried that and I didn't have a problem.

I could do some more error checking (i.e., don't access an entry unless it is set), but I've already gone above the error checking in the Perl script.

Final Copy

#!/usr/bin/python

import sys

first_line = True

lang = []
iCounter = 0
for line in open(sys.argv[1]):
        line1 = line.lstrip()
        line2 = line1.rstrip()
        iCounter += 1

        if line2.startswith("!") or line2.startswith("#"):
                if first_line:
                        lang = line2[1:].split(",")
                        first_line = False
                continue
        splity = line2.split(",")
        dtemp = {}

        if len(splity) != len(lang):
                print "Error - args do not match header on line %d" % (iCounter)
                continue

        for i in range(len(splity)):
                dtemp[lang[i]] = splity[i]

        print "%s - %s: %s for %s\\n\\t%s\\n" % (
                dtemp['started'],
                dtemp['ended'],
                dtemp['title'],
                dtemp['company'],
                dtemp['description'])

Originally posted on Kool Aid Served Daily
Copyright (C) 2008, Kool Aid Served Daily

Monday Oct 06, 2008

This is my 501st entry

The site is telling me I've hit 500 blog entries:

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Permission 	ADMIN
Description 	For the Adrenaline Junkie
Members: 	1
Today's hits: 	3240

	New Entry
Entries (500)
Comments (281)
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And they said this Internety thing would never take off!


Originally posted on Kool Aid Served Daily
Copyright (C) 2008, Kool Aid Served Daily

Tuesday Sep 23, 2008

Garmin StreetPilot c550

My last GPS died on me the last time I was in Austin. On one trip for whoich I hadn't rented a car, I had to drive back from Austin for a family emergency. Sun rents from Avis, so I got what was basically a Garmin StreetPilot c550. And I loved it. So when the old one died, and since I hated it, I got the Garmin.

I was in Austin last week and it did everything I wanted the older one to have done. And then it also died in Austin. Friday morning it wouldn't turn on.

I figured out the 30 day period was over with Amazon, so I finally got around to calling up Garmin Tech support. Turns out there is a hidden reset button under the front bezel. I reset it and it still wouldn't power up. Aaron, the Garmin Tech Support guy, had me plug it into a USB port on my PC. It started up.

I let it charge for 4-5 hours and now it turns on like a charm. I'm also finally getting LEDs lit on the power cable. I figure it wasn't connecting fully.

Anyway, I'm back to loving it and I also had a really smooth tech support experience.


Originally posted on Kool Aid Served Daily
Copyright (C) 2008, Kool Aid Served Daily

Wednesday Dec 12, 2007

Update on Tulsa Ice Storm

I spent most of the day either stripping branches, sawing branches/limbs, chainsawing limbs, moving wood, or helping others. I loaned our chainsaw to a neighbor, then we finished off most of 3 houses. The two neighbors had more damage (just a lost chunk of fence) than my house. I'll post some pictures of the wood collection soon.

Here is a picture of that truck from Tulsa Ice Storm images:

Not shown

You can kinda see the crimp on the bed wall where it meets the driver's side of the cab.

Contrast that with the one down the street, which I saw after the limb had been removed. You can see the limbs here:

Not shown

Here is a closer image:

Not shown

And here is one from the side a bit - you can see that the probably took a chainsaw to the limb while it was on the cab. If you compare the two trucks, I bet if the limb on the first one had fallen 6 inches away, it would have crushed the cab as well. For the size of the limbs that came down there, both the house and the truck were lucky.

Not shown

I don't think you can buy a chainsaw in Tulsa right now. But you can hear them all day. I know my son was proud at one point to tell a caller on the phone that his mother was slow to get there because she was too busy running a chainsaw.


Originally posted on Kool Aid Served Daily
Copyright (C) 2007, Kool Aid Served Daily

Tuesday Dec 11, 2007

Tulsa Ice Storm images

Our house got hit lightly. My truck is even in better shape than some of those of my neighbors. I saw one which a limb fell on the cab.

Another neighbor also got off lightly - big limbs fell on his house and truck, but there was minor damage. (Note, I am not an insurance adjustor...)

You can see how the ice created a blanket on the large tree. Look in the lower right hand corner, that red is his truck. Look again and you can see the main limb on his truck. Go over to the middle right and you can see a main limb on his house.

Not shown

You can see where the limbs split from the tree here:

Not shown

And you can see the truck in more detail, so to say, here:

Not shown

And finally, I got a nice juxtaposition between the individual branches and the split in the tree. I had some better compositions, but I had the camera on action shots, so they were not as nice:

Not shown
Originally posted on Kool Aid Served Daily
Copyright (C) 2007, Kool Aid Served Daily

Sunday Dec 09, 2007

How to get the page hits

I'm always surprised when I don't write new entries for a while and for some reason check the Popular Blogs at blogs.sun.com and find myself listed. I want to think it is because of my witty views on technology, but I think that is far from reality. Also, all of my attempts to artificially boost page hits have failed.

I think I end up writing about what people want to hear about - and when it comes to a technology blog, that is about facing problems and solving them. Figuring out your target audience is critical. Most people would view my blog entries as not being very interesting. I'm not trying to reach out to them, I'm trying to reach out to myself. Also, since I want this blog to have 1 identity, it is why I'm pushing the Serialized Science Fiction to a static web site and a blog at Behind the Scenes.

I'm not afraid to write an article about some braindead mistake I made in configuring a system. I'll also make sure to write something if I can't find an existing answer on the web. Going back to my earlier statement, I'm reaching out to myself - next time I have this problem, I know where I can find the answer.

I've suspected I had hit a target audience for some time and I think I can confirm this from reading the latest summary of page hits from whatever tool we use to track them. (Okay, I'll confess, it is SiteCatalyst from Omniture http://sitecatalyst.omniture.com).

About 10% of the hits were just to the root of the blog. I guess that means people read the new stuff. But the single most called page was grub: error 17, cannot mount selected partition - type 0xbf. Indeed, if I search on grub error 17 in google, it is the 9th returned page.

That article is from Feb 19th 2007. It has to be something that people are encountering enough. About 5% of my traffic from Fri. 1 Jun. 2007 to Fri. 30 Nov. 2007 was this single page.

So my summary on how to get the page hits would be:

  • Don't worry about getting page hits.
  • Write about what you would want to read.
  • Write about a lot of stuff.

The more interesting content you have, the more page hits. And the more people come back, the more they will reference you in their blogs, or tag you at del.icio.us, or pump you up at Technorati, etc. You may never hit the top tags at Technorati, but you can carve your own niche.


Originally posted on Kool Aid Served Daily
Copyright (C) 2007, Kool Aid Served Daily

A fierce storm and an accident

It rained all night and it went below freezing. I had to scrape my windows before I went to get donuts this morning. And the Crispy Creme worker said it really hurt their business.

Anyway, my wife called me at about 4 and wanted me to meet her for dinner. I threw on a new TU hoodie and started off. I took I169 to avoid the holiday traffic. I was rounding the huge corner by 91st (right where it merges with the Creek Turnpike). I was in the lefthand lane. There were some cars ahead of me in the right and some behind me in both lanes.

Before the turn, you could see that there were emergency vehicles on the right side. As we got closer, we were slowing down. That wasn't enough for the person right ahead of me on the right. They decided to shift left, straight into my safe breaking zone. As they shifted, I started to slow. And that was when I realized we were on the overpass and the only patch of ice.

I spun into the left hand concrete barrier. I don't know which hit first, the front or back. I then ended up going across two lanes of traffic, missing every one of those cars. I pulled over to the right side, stopped the car, and got out. A guy in a truck asked me if I was okay. I don't think he was the driver who started to cut me off.

I said sure, looked at the back, the light and panel was hanging down. I couldn't get it back in. I went to the front, it just looked a little crooked. Well, I was also 5-10 feet behind a police car. The officer came over, asked me if I hit his patrol car, and I said no. I told him what happened and said I'd be on my way.

I got back in, started it (I should have checked for a gas leak first.) and figured out that the front end was jammed into the tire. I got out and there was no room. I told the cop, he asked me if I had Triple-A and if I wanted him to call a tow truck. I said, sure, if they can get here fast. He said Storey Wreckers were fast. Bzzt, he was wrong.

My cell phone's power ran out and I stood there for 45 minutes waiting on them and my wife. She showed up, wanted me to leave and I wouldn't. They had come and picked up the car which was there when I had my accident. She had to pick up her cousin (whom she had left at the restaurant). She left me her cell phone and I ended up calling my insurance company. 45 minutes later, still no wrecker, but I've finally got Farmer's to send me out a wrecker. They chose Allied, who quoted us 90 minutes and showed up in 15.

The truck is at the dealer and the rain is coming down harder. The roads will be bad in the morning.

The police always chose Storey. And this is the second time it has bitten my family. I'll pass on them from now on.

Also, I want to send a shout-out to that kind person who started to cut me off and didn't stop to check on me or admit to causing my accident.


Originally posted on Kool Aid Served Daily
Copyright (C) 2007, Kool Aid Served Daily

Wednesday Nov 28, 2007

Moving my serialized science fiction

I've decided to split my Serialized Science Fiction over to Behind the Scenes - The Serialization of Science Fiction. Just something I wanted to do...


Originally posted on Kool Aid Served Daily
Copyright (C) 2007, Kool Aid Served Daily

Saturday Nov 10, 2007

The Cake is a Lie

I'd been busy replaying Half Life 2 and reading about Portal on UserFriendly and The Whiteboard. So, I caved and bought it. I wish I had known that before I got Half Life 2, Episode 2. Because I would have just got the Orange Box for $9 more.

Anyway, both games were great. I know some reviewers complain about the length, but I appreciate getting the content now and not 5 years from now. I also value the replay as being high. I've gone through Half Life 2 about 4 different times and enjoyed it each time.


Originally posted on Kool Aid Served Daily
Copyright (C) 2007, Kool Aid Served Daily

Wednesday Aug 08, 2007

Great customer service from Insta-Bench.com

I bought a six seater Insta-Bench from amazon.com - they had the best price and with 3 day shipping, it still came out less than other online retailers. I got the thing, pulled it out to make sure it worked, and threw away the box.

We went to a tournament this weekend and one of the caps which secures the seat material to the frame popped off in two. I told everyone I'd superglue it back together. They told me to return it.

Instead of contacting Amazon directly, I sent an email to Insta-Bench asking for some caps. And I got a reply stating that some were in the mail. I'm really happy with their service. And their product is great as well.


Originally posted on Kool Aid Served Daily
Copyright (C) 2007, Kool Aid Served Daily

Friday Jan 05, 2007

A Miracle of Science

I read a couple of web-comics daily - to make the list, it has to be consistently good. Well, a new comic just joined the ranks. It is A Miracle of Science.

In the year 2148, the biggest threat to interplanetary civilization is a plague of mad scientists. The Vorstellen Police were formed to track down and neutralize these threats to society using whatever technology they can bring to bear.

Not shown
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Orginally posted on Kool Aid Served Daily
Copyright (C) 2007, Kool Aid Served Daily

Monday Nov 20, 2006

Bring Mens Soccer to the Big 12

There is a Petition to bring Mens soccer to the Big 12. Please add your name to the bottom line.

Found via message boards on BigSoccer.com


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Orginally posted on Kool Aid Served Daily
Copyright (C) 2006, Kool Aid Served Daily

Tuesday Oct 10, 2006

Soccer message boards

For soccer message boards, I've found that Infosports.com does not have much traffic. They are a good source for help with Baseball.

I'd also rate eteamz.com as being dead.

You can find a lot of flames and regional coverage at GotSoccer.com.

I've been using BigSoccer.com to get my youth soccer coaching discussions.


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Orginally posted on Kool Aid Served Daily
Copyright (C) 2006, Kool Aid Served Daily
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