Apr 172007

Sarah’s iMac is up and running again and now I’m in the process of reinstalling all her software. I’m not sure yet when the enclosure so we can try to recover some of her data will be here, but hopefully it’ll be here soon enough. We have to return the original drive within 10 days or they charge us for the replacement.

I’ve got the basic productivity type apps reinstalled: Microsoft Office, iWork, iLife, that kind of thing. I’ve got Firefox installed and her bookmarks are all happily synced up. Her email is working.

Still need to get her favorite games reinstalled, plus fonts and assorted other apps and utilities. And I need to get it configured to do backups, because right after a scare like this is the best time to configure to do backups (well, before it is better, but it’s a lot less common).

I’ve got a few more hours worth of installing and configuring to go through. It’s all kinds of good fun.

 Posted by at 4:42 PM
Apr 162007

The hard drive in Sarah’s iMac has apparently failed quite thoroughly. For the past few months, her computer was strangely laggy, but we couldn’t figure out why. Tests all passed fine and so forth.

Then some occasional crashes started. We did disk repairs, no huge issues.

Then just before my trip to California last week, the computer locked up, and when Sarah tried to reboot it, it wouldn’t. So I mounted it using target disk mode, ran DiskWarrior on it, and fixed a number of problems.

After that it booted again. Once. Locked up about 20 minutes later. Once again, wouldn’t boot.

So then I ran TechTool Pro off its boot DVD and ran that. It found a large number of sector errors on the hard drive. At that point, we booted back up in target disk mode and started copying files off it.

Then we made our critical mistake: we shut off the computer for the night because in target disk mode it’s incredibly loud. That was the last time the drive was ever accessible. Now none of our disk utilities can even find the disk, either booted directly on the iMac or using target disk mode.

Apple has sent us a new hard drive; it’s sitting on the kitchen counter. I’ll be installing it later tonight. Then comes the joy of reinstalling Mac OS X, all Sarah’s software, and so forth.

Of course, the other problem is getting Sarah’s data back. She didn’t have any current backups, unfortunately. I’ve ordered an SATA enclosure to put the old drive into so I can continue trying to recover Sarah’s data. I don’t know how well that will go but it’s worth a try.

 Posted by at 2:35 PM
Apr 132007

My wife and I are off to see a performance of Hairspray tonight, after dinner out. Should be a nice evening. I don’t know much about this particular show… of the four shows on our season tickets, it’s the one I know the least about going into it.

It’s just about time to start getting ready to go, so I’m checking messages and getting a couple of last things done before we do that.

 Posted by at 4:33 PM
Apr 122007

As I lounged around in the airport this morning, I realized that the most relaxing feeling in the world is that feeling of complete un-urgency that occurs when you’re at the airport three hours before your flight. Instead of worrying about being at the gate on time, or about anything else, you’re just lounging around and taking it easy. It’s really a quite relaxing feeling indeed.

 Posted by at 1:53 PM
Apr 112007

So the plan we came up with to do a lovely all-at-once upgrade of MDC was thrown in the trash today as a result of the bot attacks vandalizing the site the last couple of days. We now plan to upgrade to MediaWiki 1.9.3 as soon as possible, hopefully late this week or early next (that’s a hope, not a promise or even an educated guess).

Since we had to shut off new account creation on the wiki to stem the flow of vandalism, getting the site upgraded so we can enable bot-catching features (which aren’t available for the MediaWiki we run presently) has taken on a frustrating degree of urgency.

Beyond what’s been done so far, we will be installing Nutch onto it, getting it hooked in as appropriate (go, Sancus, go!), and letting it do an indexing pass so we can test to be sure everything seems to work. Then in theory we’ll be ready to throw the switch.

After that, then we can work on the other upgrade tasks that we want and need to do.

It’s all quite frustrating. Vandals really tick me off.

 Posted by at 5:22 PM
Apr 102007

This afternoon we’ve had a flurry of edits in the “vandalism” category on MDC. It appears that a bot of some kind is periodically signing up for new accounts and then damaging pages. Unfortunately, most of these appear to be coming from different IP addresses.

After trying for a while to be patient and just keep up with it, we finally had to ask IT to find a solution. As a result, at least for the time being, IT is going to adjust our MediaWiki configuration to require email confirmation for new user signups.

 Posted by at 7:43 PM
Apr 102007

This morning while waiting for other devrel team members to congregate in the lobby of the hotel for our run out for a breakfast meeting, Sarah called me on my cell phone. Apparently Sophie (my daughter) had been asking for me all morning. So we had a very sweet (if brief) chat on the phone, the gist of which follows:

“Hi Daddy!”

“Hi Sophie!”

“Hi Ma-Daddy!”

“What are you doing today, Sophie?”


“I love you, Sophie!”

And with that she was off to wander around the house some more.

Good start to the day!

We had a good planning discussion at breakfast and have a pretty good plan for Q2. The main focus points for devrel, goals-wise, look to be FUEL, the MDC upgrade, and a couple of developer days in June. You’ll hear more about our plans for Q2 soon, I promise!

 Posted by at 1:15 PM
Apr 092007

In about an hour, we head for the airport to send me on my way to California for the MoCo Q1 onsite meeting. In theory the developer relations team is getting together to meet over breakfast tomorrow or Wednesday, but realistically I know that we have a history of not managing to pull it off. Shaver’s a popular guy (or at least has a lot of demands on his time), so getting everyone together in one place to actually discuss things is tricky.

Once again, the meeting has been scheduled at a time that I have to leave early — I’ll be heading home Thursday morning. Our season tickets for the theater have just happened to coincide with the past three of these quarterly onsite meetings. Sure not interested in skipping it after spending all that money to buy the tickets. :)

Today I fly through Atlanta. As they say down here, “If you’re flying Delta, the road to hell goes through Atlanta.” I get to spend a couple of hours there to chill out, but would prefer if it were somewhere more mid-journey. Oh well…

 Posted by at 9:07 AM
Apr 082007

So I’m trying to sleep this morning, since things will be crazy today doing family stuff, and I just can’t do it, because I’m thinking about the fact that tomorrow I’m flying off to California for the quarterly MoCo all-hands meeting.

Previous remote jobs I’ve held that “required travel” required a lot less of it than this one. I don’t mind traveling, but I sure hate the means by which I have to do it. The last few years have turned air travel from a minor inconvenience into a major pain. Increasingly much of my travel time is spent on tiny little planes that are ill-suited for someone my height (and to be frank, width). And I get to spend increasingly ridiculous sums of money to do it (more accurately, I suppose, the company does).

This seems counterintuitive to me. I know the airline industry is having rough times, but making your customers uncomfortable and unhappy doesn’t seem like the smart way to go about fixing your industry.

A year or two ago, I realized that my travel was a lot more pleasant if I scheduled my trip with a longish layover in some airport along the way — say two or three hours. Enough time to stretch my legs, get a bite to eat, surf the net or play a game for a while. This plan worked well until they started moving all flights under around two and a half hours to regional jets. Now if I try to break up my flight into two roughly equal length parts, I wind up on regional jets the entire trip.

So I’m back to using Atlanta or sometimes Cincinnati as my plane-switching point. Which doesn’t lend itself all that well toward taking a nice long break, since it’s only about 45 minutes away from home. Not a ton of benefit in taking that long break that early on the way out, or that close to home on the way back.

I miss the old days before airlines used hubs, and you would usually just fly nonstop between whatever two cities you were traveling between. Might have been inefficient for the airlines, but man did it make air travel nice.

I wish we had high-speed trains in this country. I’d so much rather travel by train. The seats on Amtrak are so comfortable, with good legroom, footrests, and you can recline and relax very nicely. Not to mention that you can get up and find a table to sit at to eat, and so forth. Just not a particularly time-effective way to travel when you need to be somewhere. Looking quickly at Amtrak’s web site, I find that it would cost around $380 to get from here to San Jose, California, but would take a little over two days.

Now, on the other hand, if I could get Internet access on the train, then I’d be able to work and so forth along the way. In theory I’d be able to use my cell phone as a modem most of the time at least.

It’s an interesting notion. I don’t know how reasonable it is, but it’s something to think about trying once to see how it goes.

 Posted by at 7:26 AM
Apr 042007

I’m home from Boston, and the DevDay was clearly a success. I think I got more out of observing the interactions between the various people in attendance than from the presentations and breakout sessions themselves. Not because those sessions weren’t informative — which they were — but because it’s helpful for me as a writer to observe the questions people ask and to learn by doing so where the documentation might need added attention.

It’s also of course helpful to note the directions in which development might go in the future, in order to not be taken entirely by surprise when some new feature needs documenting.

The MDC documentation to-do list continues to grow. There’s so much to do, and not nearly enough time to do it all. I continue to look forward to getting an intern or two to help take the load off this summer.

 Posted by at 12:06 AM