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New Years Update (3 month edition)

Lots of stuff have been going on around here.  I've been busy with a number of household projects and Jocelyn and Jared continue to grow.

Project-wise I've been busy setting up some home-automation. It's mostly focused on Christmas-y things right now, but I'd like to move it past that.  I finally found some wall switches that will allow me to replace my midi wall switches without converting everything to the paddle-type wall switches so I'm planning on replacing the switches for the outside lights so I can then remotely control them to turn them all on/off at the same time.

We also got a 40" Samsung LCD TV (LN40A550) for Christmas and I've been busy fixing various things to accomodate that.  I updated our Logitech Harmony remote to include the proper inputs for activities, but needed to contact Logitech to have them fix the input switching (it cycles to the previous input if the same input is selected again - a problem when switching to another activity that uses the same input).  I'm also having some problems with my PVR - video tearing and no surround sound.  The former problem is new, but I knew about the latter one for awhile, just hadn't looked into it.  I've ordered a new video and sound card to try to rectify those problems, so we'll see how that goes.

I've also been trying out new photo management software.  f-spot seems pretty nice and I'm pretty much ready to start importing photos into it. I have a problem where photos edited with it are inheriting the incorrect umask which needs fixed first.  This is one of the reasons I'm so behind on updating photos on my website; once this process is smoothed out I hope it goes a lot faster.

One of the reasons I haven't made more headway in that department is because I was sick for a couple days last week with a nasty stomach bug.  It only really lasted one day and another day to recover, but it of course removed an entire day of productivity that is difficult to get back with two little ones.

Jocelyn is growing up so fast.  Yesterday she started saying "love you" which was very exciting.  She's forming 3 and 4 word sentences for some things now, and her vocabulary is definitely growing every day.  She's not thrilled about going back to day care yet, but I'm sure she'll adapt quickly.  New schedules are always difficult.

We had tried taking her pacifiers away over Christmas but it Did Not Go Well.  There was a couple days where she refused to nap and was a royal grump.  We tried trimming the pacifiers since they were starting to die anyway, but that didn't work either.  After a couple days we ended up buying her new ones since she needs the sleep right now.  She only uses them to sleep and she definitely isn't the oldest toddler I've seen with one.  I'm sure it'll come in time.

Jared is getting big and learning new things as well.  He's at least 15 lbs (14 weeks) and sits very well in his Bumbo seat.  He has big grins for his mom, dad, and sister.  Jocelyn's really starting to warm up to him, and I'm sure once he starts sitting up and really playing with things in a couple months she'll be very interested in playing with him as well.

Dennis and Michelle moved up a couple weeks ago and we were able to go out to dinner with them last Friday.  It twas really nice to be able to see them and to be able to just sit and talk with friends w/o the kids around.  Tiff and I hadn't been out by ourselves since Jared came along and the break was very nice.

Tiff started back to work this week since taking off for maternity leave.  So far things have been going well, but it's too early to tell how much her kids will like her compared to her sub. that was in for most of the school year so far.

Other projects going on?  trying to build a new firewall that uses vlans and runs Fedora instead of CentOS to provide access to more up-to-date software.  Cleaning the garage.  Fixing my laptop.

Oh yeah, I need to write about the laptop.  My Dell Latitude D630 (purchased in Feb 2008) seems to have two primary problems right now:

  1. The battery is dead.  It last about half an hour and reports its run time incorrectly.  Luckily I contacted Dell about this before the warranty ran out (1 year on batteries)
  2. I have the dreaded "vertical lines" problem with my nVidia GPU.  Its looking like I'm going to get a motherboard replacement out of it. Joy.

While the battery problem wasn't critical, the video problem locks my laptop up when it happens, and it happens frequently after the computer is warmed up -- typically a couple minutes after booting now.  Evil.

Because of my laptop problems I've re-visited my need to get my homedir into a VCS.  I'm slowing getting this set up and will blog more once I have a better solution.  The biggest problem I'm running into right now is needing a way to symlink dot-files in place from my checked-out folder to my root home dir.  ie, If I check out my .vimrc to src/homedir/dotfiles-core/vimrc I need to symlink ~/.vimrc to ~/src/homedir/dotfiles-core/vimrc.  And I'd prefer to not do this manually.

I'm also moving my rss feeds from akregator into rss2email on my server.  This gives me two things: 1) I get updates even when my laptop is off, and 2) I can check my feeds from webmail.  I can also add new feeds remotely by ssh-ing into my server if needed, but that happens pretty infrequently.  I'd probably just email myself the link to add later.  The biggest thing going on with this right now is re-categorizing my feeds.

To categorize my feeds I'm giving them a custom email address to send the updates to; something like rss-(category)@.  Then my .mailfilter looks like this:

if (/^User-Agent: rss2email/:h)
    include ".mailfilter.rss"

and then .mailfilter.rss has:

if (/To:.*rss-([\w-]+)/:h)
    to "Maildir/.INBOX.rss.$MATCH1/"

# other lists
to "Maildir/.INBOX.rss/"

This allows me to easily add folders and categories without modifying my maildrop rc file.

I think that's it for current going-ons.  Maybe the next update won't be so huge.


Permission to spend $one grand

Ever since Sam posted his Nikon D50 on Craigslist I've had the bug to get into SLR photography.

I need to justify this somehow; I do it by claiming it's to photograph the new baby since the last photos were poorly lit. Other than indoor photography, I'm also into outdoor photography; so my subjects are typically landscapes or family. My Canon S2 IS is great, but I'd like something that is more sensitive to low-light conditions without flash, has support for indirect flash when needed, a stronger flash for outdoor portraits, and has a wider-angle lens. I'm not going to find that in P&S territory, so DSLR it is.

A lot of the reviews I've read say that the Nikon D40 is a great starter camera (despite others trying to convince me to start with the D70). I'd like something that has a good sensor and is lightweight and it seems to fit the bill well.

At the same time, I need to have something that's convenient to carry, so I plan on getting a Canon SD870IS. This will probably help Tiffany take some more photos too since she's a little intimidated by even my S2 IS; the buttons are laid out very well on this camera and the UI is very intuitive, so I hope it's intimidation factor is quite low.

Additional things I plan on getting to make it easier to get my camera around:

  • Kata DR-467 backpack - for carrying my laptop, camera, and camcorder to family functions and my camera on hikes
  • Nikon SB-400 Speedlight Flash for bouncing the flash indoors and stronger front-lighting outdoors

I still have my Crumpler 4 Million Dollar Home bag which will be nice for carrying just the SLR around.

I expect my Canon S2 IS to go up on Craigslist shortly after I place this order, get your reservations in now if interested.

June and July Photos

Look! Only two months worth of photos this time; I'm getting better!

Here's some things, events and pictures of Jocelyn:

Here's my OSCON trip so far:

6 months of photos

Our recent trip to Lake Raystown: