Category Archives: general

General catch-all category

The Decline of the ThinkPad

As some of you know I started a new gig a couple of weeks ago at teebeedee. One perk was that we could pretty much choose any laptop we wanted. The other two guys had MacBook Pros and while I almost got one of those I decided to just stay on Windows and I had been really wanting to get away from Dells and go back to a ThinkPad. They have the best keyboards and have always been rock solid from a build aspect.

Well, I would have liked to have tried out their new T60p or Z61p but it was not to be. Why you ask? Well, it never arrived!! I originally wanted a T60p but there was a minimum 4 week wait to get one from Lenovo and the new ones hardly ever make it into the channel or they don’t have the configuration I want. CDW had them but they were $3300 before adding RAM, a docking station and extra battery. Through Lenovo’s site that same configuration was about $2800 for everything. It’s not my money but jeez, I can’t in good conscience do that. I decided to compromise and get the Z61p. It’s not quite as small but comes with a 1920×1200 15.4″ screen and 802.11n draft support. Also, it should ship within 5-10 working days. I got it ordered in early November.

I started my job and it hadn’t arrived yet. Lenovo backed up the ship date to December 7th. December 7th rolls around and on that date they move it to January 9th. January 9th! So you’re telling me, Lenovo, that you didn’t know you were going to delay it again before the 7th? That’s pretty pathetic in my book.

At this stage I needed a laptop, though. I went online and find that the HP nc8430 is getting good reviews and the price is definitely right. I tried configuring one through HP’s site but the ship date was a bit far out. I was reluctant at first to use one of their resellers because of the markup I saw on the ThinkPad’s resellers but it turns out there really wasn’t any markup or at least it didn’t seem like there was that much. So on Monday I should get my Core 2 Duo (2.16), with 2GB of RAM, 100 GB 7200 RPM drive, ATI X1600 w/256MB, Wireless, bluetooth, CD/DVD writer, docking station and extra battery after ordering it yesterday (Thursday!) from CDW for less than they want for the base T60p (sans extra RAM, battery and docking station). The stats are almost identical with the only exception being that the ThinkPad has the FireGL 5250 which is an ATI X1700 with crappy directX drivers. The X1700 and X1600 are nearly identical so that’s not a big deal there.

Sorry Lenovo, but if you can’t manage your supply chain better people are going to find other options and if the quality is pretty close or as good you can guess what they’re going to do. So maybe the ThinkPad is still as good as it was before Lenovo took over managing the brand but I don’t really know since I was never able to get one from them.

What $11 Nachos Look Like

I went to the Raiders-Broncos game a couple of weekends ago with my friend Ryan and he had club level tickets which means you get to go in through a nicer entrance and the mezzanine level is carpeted, the food is good, the bathrooms smell good, etc. On top of that, if you want food and you’re already in your seat you can hand one of the stadium folks in the section an order sheet and they deliver to your seat! Basically, it’s an entirely different experience and how a game should be watched.

Anyways, while we were there we saw the nachos they sold. These just weren’t any old nachos, they were $11 nachos. And the bowl was HUGE. Just to show how big they are, I’ve included a photo which shows the bowl being held next to my head. Ryan and I tried to finish them but we just couldn’t do it. It was pretty good for stadium food, though. Two thumbs up!

The Raiders lost as usual although they teased us just enough to think an upset might be in the cards.

MySQL Has Gone Away

Don’t you love error messages like that? I got this error message today while trying to do a dump from one database to another that happened to have a lot of data in it:

ERROR 2006 (HY000) at line 44: MySQL server has gone away

Isn’t that special? Well, it turns out that my server wasn’t configured with a large enough memory setting for the variable max_allowed_packet in the [mysqld] section of the my.ini that is used to configure my MySQL server. I had set the max allowed packet size on the command line to be “4M” which is more than 1M which was set on the server so the connection would crap out during the transfer. In MySQL a packet is a single SQL statement sent to the client. The table in question has some large LOBs in it so that’s why I ran into the problem. In most cases the default value would work but of course, this isn’t most cases (see: link)

By resetting the max_allowed_packet variable to be 4M and restarting the server I was able to finish the transfer.

I Hate the Windows System Beep!

Have you ever heard the annoying system beep that Windows will sometimes make? You know, the one that can’t be turned down through the volume control? (At least it doesn’t get quieter through the volume control on my laptop and install of Windows XP SP2) One example of where the sound will be generated when I make a mistake in MySQL such as trying to insert a row into a table and I forget a required column. For some reason on my Latitude D620 it is extremely loud.

I did a Google search and here is a list of how to turn it off. Follow this link.

It takes 13 steps to actually disable the beep. 13!!!!! Nice job, Microsoft.

Embarking On A New Adventure

On Monday I’m going to be starting at a new gig. The company is called TeeBeeDee. I just noticed they have a special invite-only signup right now. Before that it was just their logo. I can’t go into any real details right now but they’re really early stage and I like the energy I sensed when I interviewed there a few weeks back. Stack wise it’s a Java open source stack for the most part so it’s right up my alley as far as technical tools go.

Why did I leave NorthStar? I went to NorthStar about 19 months or so ago and it’s been pretty good. I’m not leaving because of the people or anything but rather I just kept feeling the pull to go back to a really early stage company. I like being there in the beginning and building the platform out. It’s why I came out to the Bay Area in first place. Now that Myleene’s job provides all the benefits I have the ability to take on more risk and hopefully the reward that can come with it.

Hopefully my new Thinkpad has been delivered by the time I start on Monday. I had the choice of laptops and went with the Thinkpad. I thought about getting PowerBook but both of the other guys have them and it’d probably help to have a Windows machine to help with platform testing. More than that, though, I’ll be much more productive in the short and medium term on Windows. The PowerBook was very compelling and I almost pulled the trigger on it. A Unix based OS with a really nice windowing system on top and then there is the 1″ thick machine itself with all the toys. What’s not to like?

Not So Happy Feet

Last weekend Myleene and I took Allie to see Happy Feet at the IMAX theater at the Metreon. The reviews on Rotten Tomatoes led me to believe this would be a good movie. Honestly, I have no idea what most of those reviewers were smoking.

The movie was too long to begin with. A kids movie just shouldn’t be 2 hours long unless it has a really good reason to be that long. Worse than that, though, was it had too many stories. Was it a movie about being yourself even if you’re different from everyone else? Was it a movie about friendship? Was it a movie about animals in captivity? Was it a movie about pollution and overfishing? I’m not really sure. Some movies have pulled off multiple messages but they just couldn’t do it in this movie. The result was me wanting to leave about 90 minutes in to it. If not for my daughter loving the visuals I probably would have.

On the positive side, the graphics were top notch most of the time. Sometimes almost too realistic but most of the times they seemed to get it right.

Robin Williams was good at times but after a while you could tell he did multiple penguins and it was kind of off. The other voices were good. The music was done pretty well, also.

Overall, I just can’t believe reviewers gave this movie as good of a review as they did.

My rating? 4/10.

The afternoon was partially salvaged by going to Beard Papa’s afterwards for fresh cream puffs. If you’re in San Francisco near the Metreon I definitely recommend them.

It’s Amazing How Times Change

Look at the date on this article. This was during the Clinton administration and the scandle that erupted after it was revealed that he had an affair with a 23 year old intern. Now, first, let’s all realize that she was 23 years old. Also, imagine the uproar if Monica had been a boy. Those are two HUGE differences. Mark Foley was found to have had at a minimum sexual conversations with a 15 year old page. It also looks as that it probably went further than that. And that some members of Congress knew of this to a certain extent. Okay, enough commentary, I’ll let you read it for yourself.

Before you crucify someone you should probably make sure you’re not walking in the same path they are.

New Site Theme

I’m experimenting with a new WordPress theme that supports WordPress Widgets and also has good support for a 3rd column. I had been looking at adding a 3rd column to my old theme but it was also built for WP 1.5 which meant that it didn’t take advantage of some of the new features that WP 2.0 provided for theme builders. I think I have everything back to the way it was except I don’t have all the links from the sidebar on my original page migrated over yet. I’ll get to that this week most likely.

I’m still on jury duty so I’m pretty busy right now. I’ll publish my daily journal once I’m done with this trial.

Jury Duty Notes

I was called for jury duty sometime ago but originally requested a postponement due to a vacation I had scheduled. I was rescheduled for September 18th and I reported as required. The first jury pool request was 90 people so I knew this was going to be a big case. They started to read names from the list. My name wasn’t called…until the very end. I went up with everyone else to the jury room to find out the next step.

I can’t say much more than that except that I’m still in the jury selection process and it’s now September 22nd. We didn’t have selection on the 19th and the 20th ended up being a half day. We had a full day yesterday and this court doesn’t operate on Fridays so come Monday I will be back in court again.

If I get excused then I’ll publish all my notes and thoughts from the process as soon as that happens. Otherwise I’ll post a message that I’ve been selected and that you won’t hear more about it for about 4-5 weeks. After my work on the case has ended either way I’m going to publish detailed notes from the experience. It’s been an interesting and at the same time, extremely boring and frustrating process.

I will say, however, that it is interesting how often they point out that the burden is on the prosecution to establish guilt rather than the defense to establish innocence. I thought everyone in this country took Civics class in junior high but I guess not.