Archive for July, 2006

Is that baby drinking? No, but see my new Flickr pics!

Linda & Christian John & Brittany
Dennis & Erin Millie & Bud Light

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It’s HOT – Get me out of here

Okay – why do I live in Texas?  Today marked the 12th day in a row with a high temperature of 100 degrees or more.  And even worse than that, the last 5 days have seen low temperatures of greater than 80 degrees.  For perspective, last July we only had four days of 100+ weather.

I am hot, I am cranky, and I can’t get comfortable.  Texas sucks in the summer.

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The Promise VTrak 500p

It’s Christmas in July!!  My network admin and I installed a new low cost disk storage solution from Promise Technology today.  The VTrak 500p is a SATA to SCSI disk enclosure that can support up to 15 SATA II hard drives.  It is loaded with features that are normally reserved for high dollar enterprise storage, but it comes with a price point closer to $4500.  We chose to load ours up with 15 Hitachi Deskstar 7K500’s (which adds about another $4500 to the price).  That is fifteen 500GB hard drives!  We designated one global hot spare, and the remaining 14 drives were put into a RAID 5 array.  End result = 5.8 TB of available disk for $9000.

The real test comes when we attach it to an IBM server and give it a purpose.  This beast will become our email archive box – no need for grand performance, but certainly a need for lots of storage.  I’m handing it to the folks at Promise – we had this thing up and going in less than an hour.  The web interface sure made it easy.

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The Olympus Stylus 720SW

When it comes to digital cameras, I am a huge fan of everything Canon.  I have had a Powershot G3 for quite some time, and I really do love it.  It has been a reliable workhorse, and it allows me to take some really fantastic looking pictures.  But until just recently, I never knew why I liked my Canon so much.

I decided that it was time for a smaller camera – something that could fit in my pocket – something I could take just about anywhere.  I settled on the Olympus 720SW.  Not only did it meet my size requirements, it had the added benefits of being shock resistant and waterproof.  And as point and shoot cameras go – I have not been disappointed in its image quality.

My complaints differ from some of those I read in other reviews of this product.  First – the battery has to be charged outisde of the camera (which means you better buy a second battery).  Second (and this one is killer) – why did Olympus use a non-standard USB plug for their download cable?  That is plain stupid.  While I like some of the basic photo editing tools included on the camera, it is only about 50% accurate when it comes to correcting red-eye.  It tends to fix one eye, but not both.  It would also be nice to have a permanent button for enabling or disabling the flash.

With the exception of the photo editing capability, my Canon does the rest of these functions very well.  I never meant for the Olympus to be a replacement for the Canon.  So if you buy Olympus – know what you are getting.  The 720SW is a good “basics” camera, but it is not everything I would want.

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My Weekend in Photos

Randy, Brittany, and I celebrated Randy’s birthday on Friday evening.  Matt and Millie let me take their picture before we went out to dinner on Saturday evening.  John and Julia had me over to their home on Sunday evening for dinner and a few lively rounds of poker.  Original photos can be found on my flickr account.


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May all you ARP replies be true

Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) is responsible for associating IP addresses to MAC addresses.  As ARP Requests and ARP Replies start to fly around the network, data is added to the ARP Cache – like buidling the white pages on the fly (names to phone numbers in that analogy).  Sounds logical, right?  And it is not just switches and routers that maintain an ARP cache.  Your Windows desktop has one too.  Just open up a command prompt and type in “arp -a” and press enter.

ARP Reply spoofing (a/k/a ARP Cache Poisoning) means a computer on the LAN can become the “Man In The Middle”. Once you are in the middle, you can monitor, filter, and edit ANY traffic.

So is this real?  Yes.  But please do not try any of this on a production network.  If you want to learn more – set things up in a totally isolated lab environment.  Trying this at your workplace will likely get you fired (for violation of your company’s acceptable use policy).  With that disclaimer out of the way, this is actually a very important concept in network security.  You have to understand how the network works in order to prevent someone from exploiting its basic functionality.

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STS-121: Flight Day 2

• Shuttle Robot Arm Checkout
• Shuttle Robot Arm Grapple of Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS)
• Inspection of Shuttle Thermal Protection System and Wing Leading Edge
• Spacesuit Checkout
• Orbiter Docking System Outer Ring Extension
• Airlock Preparations
• Rendezvous Tool Checkout

03:38 AM CDT – DISCOVERY CREW WAKE UP
12:00 PM CDT – MISSION STATUS BRIEFING
05:00 PM CDT – POST-MMT BRIEFING
07:00 PM CDT – FLIGHT DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS

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A time to save (invest)

Okay people – time for an honest conversation about the financial health of U.S. citizens.  Please refrain from further Ebay and Amazon purchases (at least until you finish reading this).  Let’s start with a question.  How much have you saved in the last year, and what percentage of your income does that represent?  And for all you advanced Quicken users out there – I’m not talking about your net worth balance sheet increase in the last 12 months.  I  mean real money invested and saved – factoring out any gains or losses.  So what’s the number?  Are you embarrassed?  Most of you should be.

According to an article by Laura Bruce of Bankrate.com, “Americans spent more than they earned in 2005 — a negative savings rate of 0.5 percent for the year. That’s the first time that’s happened since the Great Depression.”  Okay people – wake up because this is ridiculous.  Do you know what a negative savings rate really means?  Let’s ask Laura Bruce.  “If your savings rate is negative, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have any savings. It means you’re spending more than you earn, so you’re dipping into your savings or you’re borrowing to pay for purchases.”

Where did we go wrong?  Maybe we should be revamp the President’s “No Child Left Behind” to focus entirely on teaching economics in schools.  Seriously – I’m scared. 

I took the following statements from the March 31, 2006 Quarterly Report for Bridgeway Funds.  These comments were made in the opening remarks to the shareholders by John Montgomery, VP and Director.  John holds graduate degrees from MIT and Harvard Business School, and he is Christian who relies on his faith to guide his life.  John reminds us that we should be, ” … saving at least 10% and giving away at least 10%.  I realize there are myriad reasons why this might be hard … perhaps you could invest all of your next salary increase into savings, or defer the purchase of a new car another year.”  John concludes with, “If you think back to some of your happiest memories, did you have more or less money? Perhaps you had more, but even then, was it really about the money?”

So I’m not saying don’t spend money.  I believe in enjoying life.  You don’t wait until you retire to have fun and travel.  Life is about balance, and as a nation – we are way out of balance right now.  So set the example for your kids, and start teaching them about finances early.  And once you get your hands around the savings part – don’t forget the giving part (it really feels good to give).  So get out there and get started.

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Liftoff of the space shuttle Discovery!

After weather delays and concerns over the foam on the oxygen fuel line, shuttle Discovery launched today on schedule.  This marks the 115th shuttle mission, and it is the first time a shuttle has ever launched on the Fourth of July.  As you can see, Florida weather was much better today.

 

 

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It’s Official – STS-121 will not launch today

The weather just wasn’t going to cooperate.  Next launch opportunity will be at 1:38 PM (CST) on Tuesday, July 4th.  A shuttle launch on the 4th of July is better than any fireworks show.  The folks in Florida will hear the sonic boom within the first 52 seconds of launch as 7 million pounds of thrust lift the shuttle Discovery into orbit.

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