Casa de Rane

It was great hearing Rane play at Club Metronome last Friday, it had definitely been to long since they’ve been up and the music as always was superb. They all came back to the house afterwards and played cards way later than I could stay up, unfortunately. I love leisurely Saturday mornings with a houseful of Rane and friends, and get a kick out of making breakfast for them. They’d persuaded Wade and Jen to come back, and it was so good to catch up with all of them. They all know me as Unka Dave, a title I’m proud to wear.

Dan gave Calvin a bass lesson, which they both enjoyed, and it was great to see him being a mentor to the boy.

The band brought Kelly and Jordan up with them on Friday, and we got to hang with them and share Nectar’s fries, Club Met, a tour of Magic Hat brewery and a fine dinner at Roque’s before we dropped them off at the train station Sunday morning. A wonderful, full weekend, and it was a pleasure having them up, tho their visit was way too brief.

I had a brief anxiety attack an hour later when Kelly called to say she’d accidentally taken my MacBook instead of hers. I considered trying to overtake the train in my car, but realized that with the lead it had I wouldn’t catch up until Springfield, MA, a seven hour round trip. I realized I could actually work just fine on her laptop, and will only be without my Macbook for a week, since we’ll be visiting them next weekend.

It’s a quiet Monday morning now, gray and cold outside, just me and Julie and the dogs. I miss having a houseful of dear wonderful people, our extended family, and look forward to the next time they’re all up.

Tags!

Last night I installed the Simple Tagging WordPress plugin as an experiment. Then, of course, I had to go back and tag all my blog posts, and add tag cloud in the sidebar.

After seeing how many tags were in the tag cloud I went back and consolidated tags; the Kate, Julie and Calvin tags became simply ‘kids’, and I dropped a lot of tags I used only once (like Boston and TextMate).

That brought the cloud down to a reasonable size, but by then it was 1:45am and I could barely keep my eyes open.

This morning I’m pleased at how it looks, and realize that tags are much more flexible and specific than categories. The plugin makes it easy to add tags to a post, to create new tags, and to consolidate, replace and delete tags. And that tag cloud looks mighty cool and trendy.

The Simple Tagging plugin was easy to install and use. The documentation make it easy to tweak my theme templates by adding the appropriate Simple Tagging PHP function calls to display the tags for each post, and add the tag cloud to the sidebar. Even at 1am, when I’m far from my freshest.

It’s a great plugin, I’d highly recommend it!

What Programmer Type Are You?

Your programmer personality type is:

*DHSB*

*You’re a Doer.*
You are very quick at getting tasks done. You believe the outcome is the most important part of a task and the faster you can reach that outcome the better. After all, time is money.

*You like coding at a High level.*
The world is made up of objects and components, you should create your programs in the same way.

*You work best in a Solo situation.*
The best way to program is by yourself. There’s no communication problems, you know every part of the code allowing you to write the best programs possible.

*You are a liBeral programmer.*
Programming is a complex task and you should use white space and comments as freely as possible to help simplify the task. We’re not writing on paper anymore so we can take up as much room as we need.

What Programmer Type Are You?

Crazy Fridge

About a month ago the Shiny New Fridge stopped dispensing water for no apparent reason, although it continued to happily serve ice cubes. Around then the fan started getting louder. Actually it got loader for a few seconds, then softer, then louder, running for minutes at a time. Since the fridge is only one omg, *two* years old, it seemed weird for it to crap out like that.

The repair guy came out to look at it last week, and reported that the freezer door and the water line inside it were frozen. He said the door seemed poorly insulated and called General Electric service and tried to get them to replace the doors for free, but they wouldn’t have any part of it (I would have been surprised if they had, actually). He recommended taking the door off and setting it by the woodstove for a while until the water melted (and storing the food in a safe, cold place like, um, outside). The price of a new door would be more than 2/3 the price of a new fridge, so that wasn’t an option.

For the heck of it I turned the freezer dial down a click or two to see what would happen.

For the next few days I checked the water dispenser from time to time, and 3 days later I was pleasantly surprised to see water stream out. Without having to take off the door, may I add!

GTD Update

So after trying out a bunch of different GTD apps, I’ve gone back to using “Thinking Rock”:1 as it’s the closest fit to how I imagine a GTD app should work. I can enter to-do items by project, then view them by date or by context. Thinking Rock automatically saves my actions periodically and backs them up, and even auto-saves a calendar file of my actions that iCal automatically imports. Finally, a short, custom perl script runs periodically to convert any action I haven’t set a time for into an ‘all day’ item for iCal.

With this setup I can see my list chronologically within Thinking Rock, which helpfully displays overdue items in red, today’s items are blue, while future items are green. I can sort the list by context, or just show a single context. I’ve got it set up so that it only shows me the next 7 days worth of items, thankfully hiding that March dentist appointment until the week before it happens. iCal gives me a calendar view, which I can look at by week, month or day. I usually leave it open to the current week, then periodically review the entire month and future months.

To capture items I use the kNotes widget if I’m at the computer, or a moleskine pocket notebook (with a slim bookmark pen inside that I discovered at Barnes and Noble). The moleskine is useful for capturing actions (pick up stamps soon) as well as notes to myself (books I need to research, or a word to be looked up).

For the most part this system works well for me, keeps me on top of the various things I need to do. I am far more organized than I was a year ago, and remembering meetings, commitments, milestones and other actions has never been easier.

The Short, Happy Life of a Dark and Stormy Stout

We’re going to have a house full of people for Thanksgiving, and today it dawned on me that if I wanted to serve any homebrewed beer I had best be making it right quick. It needs to be drinkable in a couple weeks, so a low-alcohol stout would be an excellent choice!

Ten minutes later I was looking thru Vermont Homebrew’s recipe notebooks, and the Dark & Stormy Stout caught my eye. I had brewed that once a couple years ago when I first started homebrewing, but this time I’d be making it as an all-grain brew. Matt helped me out by doing the math and converted the 5.5 lb of malt extract the recipe called for to the 8 lb of malted barley grain I’d be using (thanks Matt!). It also took 24 oz of dark grains and some flaked barley to round out the recipe. I started heating water at 1:30 and now it’s 5:00 and I’ve got over six gallons of wort (sugary grain water) happily boiling away on the stove and filling the house with the wonderful smell of grains and hops.

By 6:30 that pre-beer should be cooled and in the fermenter, where it will sit for a few days while the little yeasties multiply and convert the sugar into alcohol. When it’s done fermenting it gets siphoned into another big bottle, leaving the yeast, grain and hops sediment behind, and it will develop (very briefly) for about a week before it gets bottled.

Homebrewing is a wonderfully magic process, and I really do enjoy this kind of alchemy.

Boston

Robin and I are here in Boston with Calvin and his friend Nick. It’s been a while since I’ve been in Boston, it’s good to be here but it took a bit to relax into it and overcome the “I’d rather be home” feeling. Today we started with breakfast and browsing at Fanuel Hall, the requisite trip to the Museum of Science, lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, dessert at the top of the Pru Tower, then we dropped the boys off at the concert and relaxed back at Fanuel Hall over iced coffee, before we took a romantic trip over to Borders 20 minutes before it closed at 9. (9pm? in Boston? what’s up with that?)

Boston is a fun city to visit. Being four hours from Vermont it’s a little too far for a day trip but great for an overnight. There’s lots going on here, and lots of interesting people to watch. I’m amazed that the Borders in Burlington stays open longer than the one here, but then everyplace can’t be Vermont 😉

We successfully navigated the T to get around today, but balanced it with a lot of walking so we weren’t total slugs. I know I’ll feel it tomorrow. The food here is great, and there are an amazing number of restaurants to choose from. Boston is fun and it’s good to be here, but I’m really looking forward to getting back home tomorrow.

Dave, morphed

I found this “cool morphing site”:1 on digg.com today. You upload your photo, and a java applet morphs your image in various ways.

Here I am morphed to a Manga cartoon and an El Greco painting:

It’s like Sunday morning comics!

[1]http://www.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~morph/Transformer/

Addicted to LOST

This has been around for a while, but I just discovered it last week. Rumor is that ABC put this together as a promo for LOST, but whoever made did a great job:

“Addicted to LOST”:1

[1]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzW5qtpddrs&search=addicted%20to%20lost