Older blog entries for dyork (starting at number 293)

A foot of snow - and we don't blink - On Sunday we had roughly a foot of snow... 31.something centimeters to be a bit more precise... and while New York and Washington may be shut down by half this much snow, here it was just another day. I fired up the snowblower to clear our driveway and then we went out for breakfast with some friends. Good old Air Subaru again proved to have no issue with our unplowed streets. (Although given that it has about a 9.5 inch clearance and there was more than 10 inches of snow on the ground when we went out, it was getting close to the limit.)

Part of the reason why it's no big deal is simply that we as a city are ready for this type of thing. Here's what the paper reports as the complement of Ottawa snow equipment:

155 salt spreaders
62 plows
91 graders
74 sidewalk plows
21 snowblowers

Add to that the 350+ very large dump trucks that are being used to cart away snow from the streets... and you have quite the team to fight the storms. By the way, those 21 snowblowers aren't the homeowner kind - they are the big mammoth size-of-large-dump-truck kind that load all the snow into the dump trucks.

Just another day in the Great White North!

XML at Five - I enjoyed edd's musings about XML at five years old. XML has indeed changed my life in many ways as well.... mostly relating to my use of DocBook, including some tools (well, my .vimrc file), some presentations, and also the latest version of makefaq which includes a DocBook XML export function.

Along the way, I also assisted in the transition of Linuxcare's courseware from FrameMaker into DocBook... and then I set up e-smith, inc. (which is now part of Mitel Networks) with single source publishing using DocBook. The folks here at Mitel in our Customer Documentation group still use that single source system and are quite happy with it, as it generates HTML, HTML Help and PDF off of one source file (actually, now a set of linked XML files).

I've also learned a great bit about XSLT and have used it for a whole set of different purposes. I also created XSLT stylesheets for the Linux Documentation Project and have used them for creating a good number of different documents.

So yes, edd, XML has changed my life in a number of ways as well.

Teleworker launch - The product is live and downloadable. Our VARs are elated... all is good. It's excellent to see Linux being the platform for incredible applications like this.

python - Suffering from a lack of programming lately... desperatly need to get back into doing some python programming... I have a task that I want to work on... just have to find the time to do so...

Pen turning - Took a class about "pen turning" at Lee Valley on Saturday. Lori had given me the class for a gift. It was quite excellent. Go in at 9:30, put square blocks of wood on a lathe... gouge... sand... finish... and leave shortly after 12 noon with a beautiful looking pen! I can see why my uncle is very into wood turning (he creates bowls, though, that are much larger). Definitely could be an interesting (and non-computer-related) hobby.

The Chloe Journals - Mobility is in full force... she's even crawling with her arms straight up, although she more often crawls on her forearms like pictures you see of soldiers crawling under barbed wire. The fun part about her crawling on her forearms is that she builds up a huge amount of static electricity... and her hair starts standing straight up! Never would have believed it if I hadn't seen it. She continues to be an amazing little girl (but of course I am insanely biased! :-)

The news about our teleworker product launch - So the news release was issued about one of the products I manage. Our teleworker product hits GA (General Availability) on Monday, February 17th. Only one week away... and everything looks good to go! All reported bugs have been fixed... we're just in the final week of trials... and then away it goes!

This solution is just winning raves all around from all of our resellers, our customers and pretty much anyone else who tries it out. The voice quality of our solution is so far ahead of any of our competitors.

The cool thing for me is that the solution runs on our Linux base platform. It's proprietary software that uses our own toolkits and libraries that have been engineered to work with our phone systems. But all of that is sitting on good old Linux underneath! There were naysayers that thought the software should just run on a Windows server, but our team showed the doubters that it could be done - and in doing so saves the company all those horrendous Windows license fees (and of course we don't have to worry about all the reboot issues).

So now we have a solution that allows a remote worker to have a phone in their home office that is simply an extension off of their corporate office using just their broadband Internet connection. We secure the communication, of course, and give the user all the features they would have at their corporate office. It's truly amazing.

The other day I did a demo here in Ottawa for a visiting customer from the UK. While there, I showed them how easy it was to program my phone as an (previously arranged) extension off of a phone switch in the UK. They then just dialed 9, got dial-tone in London, and called their office to check their voicemail. They were quite blown away.

It is, after all, the Internet, where you can pretty much kiss QoS goodbye, so the fact that it sounds as good as it does actually amazes me... but our developers did some great work. And we're certainly not immune to network issues. I've had calls degrade when a router was busy somewhere. But overall the stuff we've done for jitter buffering and other things like that has made the quality pretty darn amazing.

And it's just great to be involved with a product that is launching as well as this one is!

Babylon 5 - Season Two on DVD - Saw the excellent news on The Lurker's Guide today that Season Two is available for pre-order. It should ship at the end of April. Given that this is the pivotal season when things really start to heat up, I'm very much looking forward to seeing the episodes without commercial interruption.

Bio - It was pointed out to me that the biography I had up on my web site was woefully out of date... it still had me as President of LPI, a position I haven't held for most of two years now. It shows that I haven't been speaking at conferences lately... otherwise my bio would be up to date.

Insert part A into hole B - We have been searching for a new dresser for our bedroom for quite some time now and after deciding we were just to frugal to pay the big bucks at the nice furniture stores in town, we instead made the pilgramage to dear old IKEA. The only downside to that of course is that it is all self-assembly... I think the dresser had about 20 boards and (literally) 200 little screws, cams, nails and other pieces. Fun, fun, fun...

Curling championships - The only good news was that the Karcher Junior Curling Finals were on this weekend - men's final on Saturday at 1pm and women's final on Sunday at 1pm. So that was the middle of both days... assembling IKEA furniture with curling on in the background. (Why both days? Ah, because we purchased end-tables Sunday morning to do with the dresser...) Amazing curling in both of them. Well worth the time spent. Truly amazing to see these 20ish men and women curling as well as they do. (Of course, some of them are 18 years old and have already been curling for 10 years!)

The Chloe Journals - Planning for the first birthday party is now underway... relatives notified... many will be coming... ahh, the work that must be done! ;-)

9 Feb 2003 (updated 9 Feb 2003 at 01:42 UTC) »

The end of Netscape 4 - and Mozilla 1.2.1 - When I couldn't get into a website today I finally said "enough is enough" and made the time to go out and download the latest stable Mozilla, which is version 1.2.1. My home desktop is SuSE 7.2, and I haven't been able to find RPMs for it... and I've been preferring to do all installs via RPM just for the ease of installation and de-installation.

But enough already... Netscape 4.77 is just too old and too broken... Mozilla is all I use at work, but I just hadn't gotten around to it at home... today I did. And the web suddenly looks so much nicer!

So goodbye, Netscape (and good riddance to 4.x!)... you were a dear friend ever since I started using you back in 1994 or whenever it was that you were still called Mosaic Communications... and in truth, using Mozilla is still pretty much the same as "using Netscape"... but the Netscape logo is no longer on my desktop. And I'm really not that upset...

Mozilla and the mouse wheel - Already discovered one thing about Mozilla that I love... configured Control+mouse-wheel to enlarge the text. Very cool!

MacOS 10.2 - I had to buy some new inkjet cartridges at the computer store and just couldn't resist the nice white box of MacOS 10.2 with the Jaguar-skin X. I've listened to so many people rave endlessly about MacOS X, and, well, Lori's iMac just sits there with MacOS 9.x not getting much use at all (she's been using the WinXP box in the office more)... so I think it needs a conversion! :-)

Almost ready to filter spam - On my quest to clean out my mailbox, I'm getting nearer to being able to filter spam. Today I set up my 6000 MAS to pull mail down from my ISP via fetchmail. That injects it into the qmail queue so that it gets scanned for viruses... the next bit will be to add spam-filtering into the system (which is on the way). So I'm almost there... which will be a very nice day, indeed!

Curling - On Monday night I stepped out onto the ice and delivered my first rock - and everything just clicked! After a year-and-a-half of learning to curl, all of a sudden it just worked! Suddenly I was able to send the rocks down to where the skip wanted them. In curling lingo, I had "line". I was able to stay upright as well - suddenly my balance was there. Now, that balance and line came, though, my weight wasn't so good. Now that it was so easy to throw stones, I wound up firing many of my rocks straight through the house. But I was on such an incredible high after that game.

Thursday night was a similar experience as I played another game with the "high-tech" curling league... once again things were just suddenly working.

I attribute pretty much most of this to a tip given to me by a colleague who I curl with on Thursdays. He pointed out that I needed to be holding the rock to the side of me, rather than in front of me, as I was doing. Repositioning my hand seemed to have an almost miraculous effect! It was just great given that I've been working up to this for the past year-and-a-half. Let's see if the trend continues next Monday.

The Chloe Journals - More pics on the web site. More vain attempts at childproofing... today brought a gate near the stairs to the basement, tomorrow will be plexiglass behind the railing that is open to the basement. She continues to be absolutely adorable, but of course I am incredibly biased!

The carnage begins - So last night I began to make use of the results of The Great LinTraining Cleanout. Dropped the list of training centers from 701 down to 594... and I'm only maybe a quarter of the way through the list of centers we identified that night. It's very interesting to see whose gone. Whole countries disappeared, for instance, like Greece. There are no more listed Linux training centers there. The three that were listed all had either dead hostnames (2) or had no mention of Linux anywhere on their site.

The death of pioneers - It was with a touch of melancholy that I noted that two of the pioneers in the Linux training space back in 1999 - Linuxcare (my former employer) and Wave Technology both no longer even mention Linux training on their sites. I'd known about Linuxcare for a while, actually, ever since they let Jim Lacey go and he went off to launch his very successful Bradford Learning company. And I'd known that Wave was out of the business ever since some of the reorganizations within Thomson had forced Wave to sell off the SAIR Certification program they had acquired. Still, at one point Wave had been offering materials for SAIR, LPI, and Red Hat certification.

Still, I mentally marked the moment when I hit the old "Delete" link on those two. They were pioneers who helped push Linux training out to so many other centers.

Freezing Rain - So it's February 4th and it is raining in Ottawa! Which of course means that all of our nice snow is now covered with a strong glaze of ice. And all the beautiful ice sculptures of Winterlude once again wither under the watery assault. Freezing rain is just miserable... no other way to put it.

Anniversaries - It was seven years ago today, near an old-fashioned lamp post on the cobblestone streets and sidewalks of Market Square in beautiful downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire, that I asked Lori to marry me.

It's been seven crazy and wonderful years, and I can't imagine my life without her!

Columbia - There are no words to express the depth of this tragedy.

The Great LinTraining Cleanout - About 4 hours to go (as I write this) before we start the Cleanout. chalst had a good point in his response to my article about robots doing the link-checking. As I responded there, I want more intelligence than I've seen in any link-checking robot.

I think I was keeping it simple mostly to try to attract volunteers... and in so doing may have oversimplified what I was seeking.

We've got about 6 or 7 of us now... that'll do the trick, but we could certainly use some more folks if any of you are around. 8pm Eastern time on #lintraining at irc.freenode.net... come on over - it will be fun...

LinTraining - Fascinating. Even as we get to night of the great cleanout, we get three new submissions, all today:

  • Mexico
  • Spain
  • Luxembourg

All for training centers... good stuff.

Pictures from OSW - It turns out that rgb from OCLUG put his pictures from the BOSS event online (once you get past the first few with the dogs). The man in the grey suit jacket and white shirt is Martin Fink, VP and CTO of HP's Business Critical Systems unit and the main speaker for the day.

Astute observers who know what I look like will see me there in my emcee role. Personally, I liked this one of me, although I look a bit too serious! :-)

The Chloe Journals - Now that we have mobility, it is abundantly clear that the home office will need some child-proofing. I've slung the desktop computers in brackets under the desk. Problem is that the power button on Lori's HP computer glows bright green and is right at the exact height that the little one can go up and push it! Given that it's the only Windows box I've got in the house - and it's XP to boot - I don't really want to be crashing it. I trust ext3 more than NTFS.

Of course, when I blocked off access to that power button, the wee one decided she'd crawl behind my chair and go for the power strip with the bright orange button - which happens to be the one connected to the cable modem, etc. (There's a UPS between that strip and the modem, etc., so damage would be minimal... although my teleworker and SIP phones would power cycle. (The UPS system only has so many plugs.))

My how life changes...

27 Jan 2003 (updated 27 Jan 2003 at 01:33 UTC) »

The Great LinTraining Cleanout - So the article is up and several replies have come in already. I'm going to send it to a couple of mailing lists in hopes of getting a larger team. Would really like 10 or so folks to help make it go quickly.

LinTraining - Even as I talk about the data growing stale, more entries keep coming in. The latest ones are for:

  • Idonesia
  • UK
  • Hong Kong

Also had two submissions from the UK for courseware, including the Linux Training Materials Project, an effort to make available free courseware. Sounds interesting from communicating with the folks there.

Dave Whitinger also has some cool ideas about improving the site's codebase that should be VERY interesting if we decide to go ahead with them.

Open Source Weekend and the Business of Open Source Software - So today was the culmination of the Open Source Weekend and specifically the "Business of Open Source Software" conference. Dave Edwards and his team from OCLUG did a great job organizing it all. I heard that there were something on the order of 250 people at each of the Linuxfest events and there were somewhere around 150 at the speech and panel today. I was the emcee for the afternoon events (speech and panel) and quite enjoyed it.

Martin Fink, VP and CTO for Business Critical Systems from HP was the speaker and then was one of the six panelists. He has written a book called "The Business and Economics of Linux and Open Source" (Get it from Chapters, Amazon, or other book stores). At a quick glance, it seems like just the book that would have been nice to have, say, two years ago! But then again, it may not have been able to been written then. It's really focused on Linux from the business point of view.

I'll post more comments here as I read it.

The panel discussion was quite good... reps from Sun, IBM, Postgres, OEOne and the Canadian government. Enjoyable session for me... I hope it was for the attendees as well.

LPI and SAGE investigating combined membership - Now here's an interesting idea... after you become LPI-certified you will get some type of membership in SAGE. Could be interesting...

LPI and UnitedLinux - Just a brief mention at ZDNet, but it was announced that LPI and UniteLinux will work together to create a certification program for UnitedLinux. There is more info on UL's site. I'm glad to see this happened as their was some concern for a while that they would go their own way and create yet another cert program. Kudos to folks on both sides for working it out.

The Chloe Journals - The poor little girl has a bad cold and fever... she still seems in great spirits and is still extremely active, but it's just heart-wrenching to see her sick.

The apogee - or zenith - of LinTraining - So with the approval the other day of a training center in Hong Kong, LinTraining hit a total of 700 training centers. That's the highest it has ever been. (Thus making it the apogee of its history, which interestingly could also be refered to as it's zenith!)

The problem, of course, is that of those 700 listed training centers, probably a good 200... heck, maybe even 300 or more are probably gone as a result of the tech bust. Especially the ones in North America. Training centers also are in such a competitive business that they are always trying to get an edge over some other training centers... so they are trying out new material and topics. Many of the listed centers no doubt tried offering Linux training for a bit, found it didn't make money for them... and then went on to other subject matter.

So the database needs a major cleaning. It hit 700... that's cool... but now we need to bring it back down to show the centers that are really in there. (I just deleted two today to bring it to 698.) Problem is, of course, that LinTraining is essentially maintained only by me, with occasional help from Dave Whitinger, who actually runs the servers on which the site sites (and, with a couple of other folks, was the original author of the code, database, etc., when it was to be part of the Linsight project that was sponsored by Atipa. (Anyone remember them?))

So here's my proposal for...

The Great LinTraining Cleanout - Next Wednesday, January 29th, starting at 8pm Eastern US/Canada time, I'll get on a IRC channel #lintraining on irc.freenode.net with as many other folks as can help. What we will do is simply this:

  1. Starting at the top of the country listing of training centers on the front page of LinTraining each person will take a country or state and just start going through the listings. (reporting that they are taking that country to the channel)
  2. For each listing, the test will be really simple - can we get to the URL listed?
    1. If yes, then is there any mention of Linux training on the page referenced or easily found? If not, it gets reported to the IRC channel as 'web up, but no mention of Linux'
    2. If no, it gets reported to the IRC channel as 'dead URL'
  3. Once a person has completed a country/state/province, they go on to the next one that no one else is doing and repeat the step above.

Meanwhile, I'm logging all of the channel traffic and can then go back in the day or days afterward and delete the ones identified - or at least "unpost" their submission until it can be checked out further. I think with a good number of folks we could clean up the database (or at least identify the potential problems) within a short amount of time. It could be a good bit of fun, too. So the only question is whether or not folks can be found to assist...

Anyone interested in helping? Please drop me a note if you are. (Since I get so much spam, and haven't yet set up spam-filtering, please put "LinTraining Cleanout" in the subject line. Thanks.)

Now the only detail is that because training centers will have web sites in their native language, you need someone who speaks the language to really look at the web site to see if Linux training is offered there. I mean, an English-speaker could go through the list of Chinese sites and perform the "is the URL live?" test - and that would be a help because a good number of sites are probably dead... but he or she couldn't really do anything further to investigate. So I guess my algorithm of just starting at the top probably breaks down... it's more of "anyone speak Spanish? Okay, you start with Argentina... " and so on.

The other detail is that because my own personal time when I can do this is a Wednesday night at 8pm, some of my European friends will no doubt not be able to participate, as that is quite late for many of them.

Ah, well, I'll put the word out on a couple of mailing lists and here and see what response comes back.

Programming Challenge - So if I were to do the next OCLUG programming wars, here is a problem I might post. Using online queries (to where, exactly, I don't know) determine all words beginning with "a" that have as synonyms words beginning with "z". Could be an interesting challenge. (The language geek in me is actually interested in knowing the answer!)

Cold - zeevon: Didn't realize it was -39 with the wind... I won't mind if we don't have many more of those days!

Hockey insanity, part 347 - And of course, in that -30ish temperatures last night, what was our neighbor's teenage son doing? Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! Yes, indeed, he was out skating on their backyard skating rink taking shots at his hockey net. I did notice, though, that he wasn't out there for all that long. :-)

Curling - We lost last night. By quite a great margin. Not one of our better games. The curling club to which belong now has a brand new web site. Quite nicely done!

U.S. and North Korea - zeevon: Yes, I do understand why the U.S. doesn't go after North Korea. As you mentioned, their neighbors to the North might not take too kindly to any aggressive actions. But the question I have received is more about the hypocrisy around attacking a country that complies (or at least seems to) with U.N. mandates on the one hand and then on the other hand giving aid (potentially) to a country that flagrantly flouts U.N. mandates.

And the answer has a lot to do with the fact that, as you mentioned, the U.S. has a lot of friends in the Middle East - and Iraq pretty much has no friends at all at this point.... anywhere. We'll see what happens.

Plans, roadmaps - Gave a presentation to staff about our upcoming 6.0 release... many of them were not aware of what the content would be. Also shared our current roadmap. It's darn nice to have a long-range plan going about a year out of what we intend to work on. Good stuff.

The Chloe Journals - Lori picked me up at the office today and brought Chloe in... she had a fantastic time playing with the Slinky on my desk... all smiles and giggles... it was fun to show her off to everyone there as she continues to keep on getting bigger!

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