Tuesday, November 24, 2009

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Updates... at long last

Well, we certainly have had a lot going on, namely, we bought a house. Hadn't really been planning on it, but we saw it, we went for a showing, and the price was right, really really right.

Once we signed the paperwork... (some poor tree gave it's life for all that paperwork) we had work to do.

First paint... since we were going to pull out the carpets... we started with paint.

Then the carport roof needed to be redone. We started out just doing the roofing, but when we got underneath, and saw how bad the wood was, we had to replace that too.

Then we went back inside. We had to take the carpet out of the main floor... bedrooms, living room, bathroom, dining room. Underneath are hardwood floors. (Except for dining room and bathroom.) These had stains that needed to be sanded out... this turned into a 4 day project... with follow-up coats of polyurethane.

After that was move in day. We had been taking boxes and small items, so all that was left were the larger pieces of furniture. With our 26' truck, we loaded up! 2 hours to load, and 1 to unload. It's great to have a plan and be organized.

The kitchen/dining room and bathroom still need the vinyl flooring put down, but most of the rooms are functional. Then we have to go to the basement and organize all the boxes and piles of stuff that have been deposited there.

Here and there I'll work on moving the stones from around the house to the driveway area to extend that for the trailer.

In the spring we can open up the pool!!!

So, that's what we've been up to. How about you?

For pictures, you can check out my FaceBook page. Yes... I have a Facebook account... it's an easy way to keep in touch with much of my family and several out of state friends. And a good spot for pics.
http://www.facebook.com/mark.kenyon2?ref=name

Monday, July 20, 2009

What have we been up to?

This and that and CAMPING!!!

After last year's camping adventure (see here) we weren't sure camping was in our future. But then we found a deal, on a 2000 Coleman Santa Fe popup camper.

So, this past weekend we took it down to Pine Grove Furnace state park in PA.



So it's July in PA, and the weather was nice. But it got cold at night. I'll give you the highlights, and the funny bits.

I got out of work early Friday. The PUP (PopUP) had been loaded earlier in the week, but we had to load the food, clothes, and doggie into the SUV and hitch up.

The DW (Dear Wife) had gotten most of the gear out on the back porch, out of the rain, but real easy to load into the TV. Took a little longer, I think I was slow cause of the rain, but we got it all loaded. Then I put the bike rack on the back, and loaded the bikes. Nothing left to do but hitch up the PUP.

(Funny bit) I usually store the ball hitch and pin in the storage under the trunk of the SUV. Guess where it was at this point?!?! Yup, safe and sound, under all our gear.

I quickly pulled off the bikes (leaving the rack), and pulled out just enough gear so I could lift the floor of the trunk and get the hitch. (I keep it in a bag with the pin so it doesn't grease up anything.) Less than 10 minutes to fix, thankfully, and we were ready to hitch.

I found out the DW is very good at getting me lined up to hitch up.

So, it's wet, I'm soaked, but we're loaded and ready to go. A quick change out of my soaking jeans, and we're on the road.

The rain was lightening up, but I'd never towed this trailer while loaded with all the gear before. I was pretty nervous at every bump, and any time we kicked up a rock I was sure the PUP was falling off the hitch, but everything was fine. (Triple checking is so important.)

By the time we pull into the CG, the clouds are parting, and we've got a bit of sun. We pull around the loop, and my wife says, 'Is that the Parker's camper?' Sure enough, right behind our site, was the camper of some friends of ours. They had heard where we were camping, and decided to check it out too.

I was very careful backing into the site, and with DW's help (she's good at this part too) I got lined up nice and straight on the first try.

(Funny bit) So, it's July, and we're in shorts. We set up in about an hour, and go to chat w/ the friends. We turn in early, since it's getting a bit chilly. And proceed to wake up about every hour as the temp drops about 5 degrees an hour. (I'm guessing. I have to put a thermometer on our gear list.) Musta been in the 50s!!! We had one blanket on the bed, and no sweat shirts packed!!!

We managed to make due, we dug out some throw blankets, and the DW bundled in her jacket and 2 sets of socks the next night. (It was cold then too.)

Our packing up routine needs a little work, but I didn't worry a bit about the PUP on the way home, it handle's great. We even saw another Hyundai Santa Fe pulling a Coleman like ours with bikes in our CG, so I knew our rig would be fine too.

I realized too, that this was my first time ever camping in a trailer!!! And only our fourth camping trip in our 7 years of marriage. But we're planning on more trips.

(We'll definitely stock a space heater and blanketS before any October trip!!!)

You can see pics here!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Joel Gott

Some of my readers know Joel Gott. I found out last night that he lost his battle with Colon Cancer April 9th. I don't have many details other than that. Sorry for the bad news.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Finally getting to Ubiquitous media!

So... I set up my GnuMP3d server again. What that means is I can access all of my audio over the web. Including on my new Web enabled SmartPhone (Only $74.99!!!)

So, I have my audio with me where ever I go. The cool factor, for me, is up there.

I probably won't stream music all day... it could catch up with me at some point. Perhaps my cell provider will get cranky, or my ISP at home throttle me.

I'd like to get my videos streaming though. I can access them through GBPVR's Enhanced Web Admin. But it doesn't have a very good mobile interface. Perhaps in the future?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Why IT people have free time...

See honey... this explains it all!



...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Users Lie, and how to deal with it.

As you learn to develop and/or program, you eventually have to deal with users. You are, after all, trying to create something people will use.

When trying to develop a tool for a user they will give you their requirements. This process has been discussed and, more frequently, mocked throughout the Internet universe.

Eventually some simple 'truths' are concluded by developers. Generally they are (and I loosely quote):
Users Lie
Users don't know what they want

The accuracy of those statements is debatable. Users don't purposely lie, they want something and they want to make sure it gets done their way and they're gonna tell you about it. Maybe just not up front.

Also, they know what they want.

So, to boil down to the truth, it comes down to:
Users don't know how to communicate what they want.

How To Deal With It
So, what do we do? In my opinion, the best way to determine what a user wants is to walk through the job they are trying to get a tool for.

This is where people skills separate the coders (write code) from the developers (create tools people enjoy using). (Again, this is me loosely defining.)

Another point to beware of, in the 'Users Lie' department comes into play when re-writing a piece of code. You will often here, 'We don't use that' with or without the added 'anymore'.

Warnings should sound. Developers don't put things into code unless they have to (or it's an easter egg, but who has time for that!!!)
Somebody, somewhere, at some time, wanted that feature.

Use due diligence to try to find out who. And then... if you are going to take it out, COMMENT. (This is where comments and version control save butts.) Make it as easy as possible for the next 2 or 3 versions to get that feature back for when the big boss upstairs does his yearly check of this part of the software and finds out that the 'Executive Report' that 'nobody uses' isn't there!!!

I'm just saying... :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Back to Life... Back to Reality - The Return from Vacation

We took a vacation. It was the first week long vacation that didn't involve relatives (no offense) since our honeymoon. We went to Virginia.

I'll like to the pics now:
http://mark.phillk.net/gallery2/v/mkenyon2/Massanutten+Trip/

Sunday - Washington DC Zoo. Lot's of cool animals.
Monday - Veg out... we drove around a bit and ate at Outback, but that was it.
Tuesday - Tubing and more vegging out. Maybe a board game... definitely eating!
Wednesday - Shopping The guys played Racquetball, not much else. (Isn't vacation great?!)
Thursday - The guys went Snowboarding!!! My first time in 10 years. It was fun, but sadly, no pictures. Later to the meeting.
Friday - Went to the pool, played more racquetball. Vegged out. Finished the second package of Oreos.
Saturday - Steph and I went on the Skyline drive for a bit. More movies and vegging out.
Sunday - Time to go home, but we didn't want to. So, let's swing by Baltimore and find Dave and Buster's. The girls did more shopping. (It's good that they're so frugal.) Then TGI Fridays.

Friday, January 23, 2009

What happened in the coffee room today

I walked in to get some water, and there was a puddle of coffee on the counter, dripping down onto the floor.

Somebody had filled the water and filter, but did not put the empty pot on, instead, they left the half full pot on...

'Cleanup in aisle twelve!'

Thursday, January 15, 2009

OH BOY!!! It's working!!!

I've got my Digital Picture frame working at last!!!

So, I used DSL (Linux), a Dell 233 CP laptop, and feh.

I used mostly the scripts and instructions from this guy:
http://www.thewares.net/item/33

I did not use the built in sound card, but added a USB sound card.

I added an external momentary button to trigger the on/off functionality.

I added an external DPST switch to turn the 'built in' speakers on and off. They are the speakers that were in the laptop, and with a few small holes in the back, they come through loud and clear.

I took the guts out of some unpowered PC speakers that allowed for an external 1/8" jack if I want. I put that on the side, but if I did it again, I'd make my own PCB board and mount the jack on the back.

I mounted the dongle from the network card so that it is accessed from the back. I may revisit WiFi at some point.

I put a DC power jack on the back, and cut the power supply cable, wiring it to have the nice jack on the back, and it's factory jack into the laptop guts.

I mounted a USB and media card reader out the right side.

I'll post pics soon.

The scripts are run via cron to go out and sync both music and picture files. At boot up, it starts xmms and feh running through the sound and pics that are stored locally. I also cronned 2 shut-down times, lunch time and 11 PM.

Cons:
There is no nice way to shut down the unit. If I push the power button, it does a hard shutdown, and the next start does a fsck to check the drive. Then you have to reboot again.

During boot up (almost a minute) you get to see all the bios and boot up junk.


That's all for now... I was pretty thrilled.

Monday, January 12, 2009