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.

 

gajim-pinger

I've written a little shell script I'm calling gajim-pinger.  If you use gajim for IM and ping.fm for updating your social networks, this simplifies things by:

  1. updating ping.fm
  2. updating your gajim status message

It does this by using zenity to ask you what you're doing, then gajim-remote to send a message to the ping.fm xmpp bot (which you need to have added to your roster before-hand) and also using gajim-remote to update your status message there.

What I did this weekend

I got my rack in working order, moved thor (file server/MythTV backend) out to it (with associated wiring) and got my Comcast Digital receiver hooked up with an iguanaWorks iguanaIR usb IR transceiver.

We also went for a nice walk with the Beecher family down to the creek, enjoying the fall foliage.

Michele Little also came to visit Jared.

Other misc photos:

Updated Warner family
Tiff, Jared, and Jocelyn sleeping on the recliner
Brenda and Rick's Anniversary
Tiff's 28th Birthday
Jared visiting w/ the Warners
Brooke, Dennis, Brenda, and Brady with Jared
Jocelyn with a full pony-tail
Jocelyn and Mom looking out the window at a bunny
Jocelyn coloring with Pappy Warner
Jocelyn painting pumpkins
Jocelyn eating popcorn
Jocelyn in pigtails and camo
Jocelyn sleeping under the changing table

CPOSC Pictures

My photos for CPOSC are now online as well.  Now to just work on transcoding video..

Ooo.. Look at me! [1] [2] [3]

CPOSC Slides

Here are my slides for the talk I did at CPOSC 2008.  The title of my talk was Architecting a Community: How Mozdev Runs and Grows and had the unfortunate conflict with the Git Sucks talk which drew in almost all the attendees.

The event was great and I'm glad I was able to attend and particpate.  I hope that the guys do it again next year.

Moved photos

My photo gallery has been moved to a sub-site; photo.silfreed.net.  I think I got things fixed up so that the links will redirect to the correct location, but let me know if you run into any problems navigating or see broken images.

Jared's Birth Story

Jared

Jared Douglas Warner was born September 30th, 2008 at 12:49pm EDT.  He was 8lbs 14.8oz and 21.25 inches long.

Tiffany was scheduled for an induction on Tuesday at 7am, but contractions started around 2am that morning.  Jocelyn was already staying at Tiff's Parents' house since the induction was scheduled, so we left for the hospital a little after 4am once we were ready.  We were admitted to the hospital around 4:45am.  Tiff's contractions were between 8 and 10 minutes apart at that time.

When the day shift nurses came on we were excited to find out we had Nichole again and Darlana Besecker was the midwife on duty (both same as with Jocelyn).  A little around 7:30am Tiff got an IV to treat her GBS infection.  They wanted that to go for 4 hours before she delivered, so they didn't want to break her water or give her any pitocin until the antibiotic had some time to work.  Tiff chose to have an epidural since they would be administering pitocin to bring her contractions closer together and received that around 9am.  At 9:30 they broke her water and found some merconium in the fluid, so a pediatrician needed to be on hand at the delivery.  A little after 10am they started her on pitocin to get her contractions a little closer together.  After that the contractions got progressively closer together until Jared was born at 12:49pm after about 20 minutes of pushing!

Tiff's delivery went much smoother than with Jocelyn and our stay at the hospital was much shorter.  We came to the hospital Tuesday morning and left Wednesday afternoon.  Our entire experience with Jared's birth was a great one and we're very excited to bring him into our family.

Jocelyn is doing pretty well with our new addition.  She gets sometimes gets jealous when Mom or I are holding Jared but usually gets over it fairly quickly.  She's held Jared a couple times and typically just stares at him a bit and will give him kisses very easily when we ask her to.  We think she's very excited to be a big sister.

Pictures

Jared's First Day
Jared's Second Day
Holding Dad's Hand
Jared's Third Day
Day 6 and 7

Updating My Branding

I've been thinking about updating my [online] identity for awhile now.  "silfreed", while unique, is difficult to spell/pronounce when talking to someone (let alone telling them my email address which includes it twice).  Ideally, I'd like to update my branding to include:

  1. A good, short, understandable domain name (ones that make use of international TLDs as part of the domain are sometimes acceptible; ie, del.icio.us is bad since it's all-but unusable to give someone an email address)
  2. Might translate to a good logo
  3. Easy to integrate into a business card and design a good website theme around

Feel free to throw out your wacky ideas about how I could go about branding myself and what comes to mind when you think of "Doug Warner."

Surgery to Move Ulner Nerve in Left Elbow

According to Wikipedia, I have cubital tunnel syndrome, although the orthopedist I saw this morning didn't describe it as such.

I've had a pain in my left elbow for quite some time now; probably over a year and a half (probably closer to 2 years) that although not severe, has become quite annoying to me.  I finally decided to see my family doctor about this about two weeks ago and they suggested I see an orthopedist about it and setup an appointment for me.  They said it would probably take some physical therapy or a cortisone shot - that didn't seem to bad to me.

My appointment this morning was pretty quick; I got an x-ray of my elbow and saw the doctor for probably less that five minutes.  He asked me if I had any numbness in my hand, and I realized that I did.  He immediately said we should setup an appointment for surgury to move the nerve. Woah!

Tiffany and I are expecting another baby sometime around the end of this month, so I elected to wait a bit to schedule the appointment to see how Tiff's recovery goes, but after reading some articles about this syndrome it doesn't seem like something I want to let go too long as it can lead to muscle wasting in the hand.  I'll probably set it up for November or December.

Your lesson for the day: don't let those minorly annoying but nagging pains go on for too long.  This probably could have been treated with ibruprofin, physical therapy, and/or cortisone shot if it was treated early, but the prolonged wear on the nerve pretty much makes surgury the only option for fixing this before it gets worse.

Thinking About Hybrid Car Switch - From Subaru WRX to Toyota Camry

I'm thinking about ditching my Subaru WRX.  The main reason?  More space.  I love my WRX; it hasn't let me down (although there are those close to me that feel that my rate of 1 accident/yr since purchase is too high) but there just isn't enough space with our growing family.  A sub-compact care is very cramped with adults in the back seat; and having two car seats back there might be problematic.  The trunk space isn't very good, either.

So while searching for a larger car, I also wanted something more fuel-efficient.  I'm not sure if fuel-efficient is the same as energy-efficient, but that's the best I can do right now on mainstream technologies (no hydrogen-electirc-gas hybrids for now).  I know this means leaving my "high-horsepower low-curb-weight" (car insurance's words) vehicle behind, but I didn't want a little econobox, either.

So research into hybrids that are room lead me to three main choices: the Chevy Mailibu, the Toyota Prius, and the Toyota Camry (the Nissan Altima was eliminated due to not being available in PA).

The Mailibu was eliminated due to it's very weak hybrid system - it can't run off only its electric motors, so it's fuel savings is drastically reduced; to the point of pretty much being useless (especially given the cost difference over non-hybrids).

So that leaves the Toyota Prius and Camry.  While the Prius is definitenly the main contender here, I'm looking into the Camry mainly because it is slightly larger and has higher overall horsepower.  It should make for a more luxourious ride over the Prius as well.  It does have lower EPA MPG estimates (33/34 for the Camry vs ~44 for the Prius) but this is still a significant improvement over my ~25MPG in my WRX.  Since I don't have a commute any more Tiff might become the primary driver of the vehicle which will definitely help compared to her 20MPG Jeep Liberty.

Fitzgerald Toyota in Chambersburg has a fully-loaded Toyota Camry Hybrid coming into stock in about a week that I'm going to go test drive.  With all the options it comes very close to $32k, but I should be able to trade my WRX in for $12-14k and financing the rest at 0% APR shouldn't be a problem.

Speaking at CPOSC in October

I'll be speaking at CPOSC this October in Harrisburg, PA.  I will being giving a talk about Mozdev's architecture and history; about how it has grown over time from an all-volunteer effort to my current employment with Mozdev and where Mozdev is going.  I plan to go over some of the architectural changes that have come about through its lifetime and how we've tackled certain challenges.

Registration at CPOSC is limited to 100 people and seats are going quickly.  The conference is being held Sunday, October 19th in Harrisburg, PA; if you're interested in coming I'd recommend signing up soon!

Hike, New Living Room HTPC, Cameras, and Setting Up a Car Lift

Wow; none of those things are in the correct order.

Going backwards (and the first event of this blog, considering when it started) is the replacement of my living room HTPC.  It's been acting funny for some time (ignoring a lot of IR input) and locked up mid-week last week.  I opened it up to find the north/south-bridge heatsink laying on the bottom of the case.  I fixed that, but I believe damage has already been done as the PS/2 ports no longer function and USB devices only work intermittently (my IR receiver is USB).  Last night I finally ordered a new Socket AM2 motherboard, Athlon X2 CPU, and RAM to replace the internals due to not being able to find a good deal on a socket 939 motherboard to reuse my existing CPU and RAM (look for craigslist items soon!).

The next most-recent thing was setting up a car lift at my father-in-law's place yesterday.  He purchased one at the Carlisle Corvette Show this weekend and I went along to watch the disassembly and help set everything back up.  The thing is pretty slick, and I already know I need to use it to look under my WRX for an hole in the exhaust.  That took the bulk of the afternoon to tear down, transport and assemble, but given it's job I think that's pretty good!

Friday a lot of my camera gear arrived, but I didn't get to play with it until Saturday since we were visiting my parents Friday evening after I helped Tiffany setup her classroom some.  The Nikon D40 is a great little camera that has some great potential.  Most people's reactions have been "too many buttons" while I find the available buttons great and in intuitive places that faciliates quick and easy changes when you need them.  The Canon SD870is showed up and Tiff thinks she'll enjoy using that much more than my S2 is, so hopefully there'll be more pictures with me in them soon!  I also picked up a Kata DR-467 backpack that ended up being a little larger in-person than I had anticipated, but is incredibly light and well-designed.  I'll try to post a better review once I've had a chance to use it in some more situations.  Right now I'm pretty much using my Crumpler 4 Million Dollar Home which is a great bag for an SLR + accessory (flash in my case).  The Canon S2 is should be up on craigslist soon, as well.

Last Thursday Brady and I went for a hike in what I call "North Mountain" (which is actually "Bower Mountain" of the Blue Mountain chain according to the DCNR maps of Tuscarora Forest) on Bower Mtn Road; it was a nice 7ish Mi hike that's relatively flat and has been done a number of times before (one of which is an infamous "pipeline" hike that last well into the night with no flashlights or other ambient light) but was exceptionally dusty this time due to recent roadwork.

I have a doctor's appointment today to renew my allergry meds and have the doctor look at my elbow.  I've had this pain in my left elbow for probably over 1 year and a half now; it seems like it's pressure related; possibly the nerve being pinched.  It's especially problematic when I lean on my elbow (which I do frequently when sitting at my desk) or when I do some prolonged activity like driving for a couple hours.  We'll see what they say.

Our 35/36 week prenatal checkup is this Friday as well as Jocelyn's 18 month well-baby checkup.  She's been relatively cold-free this summer since she hasn't been at day care, but that starts back up tomorrow with school starting.  I imagine she's due for some shots as well, so that might be a "fun" visit.

Tiff and I are looking forward to an evening out after our prenatal appointment on Friday.  We've tried to make sure we go on a "date" once a month since Jocelyn was born, but it typically ends up being 1 1/2 to 2 months.  While we can individually go do things (either with Jocelyn or by ourselves) fairly easily, it's much more difficult for both parents to get away to do things.  Who knows; maybe this is my chance to see The Dark Knight!

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.