May 21, 2004

I have been getting sloppy, writing updates but forgetting to post them again. Holy cow!

Today is my quiet day just hanging out in shopping center… Bowie, Maryland. Not the most exciting of places but nice when you have to live in a hotel. The office doesn’t need me today and I won’t have any real work to do there until tomorrow so I am hiding today.

My wireless Internet access is rock solid now (or so it seems) so I am very happy about that. I am getting really good speed too. I am able to browse easily (not as fast as home but faster than the DC office) and the Internet Speedometer that I like to use says that I am getting over 500 kb/s which is pretty darn good. I have had my current connection up constantly for fourteen hours or so without a hiccup, that is really nice. It is really important here since I have nothing to do if I lose connectivity while I am in the hotel. Luckily I have two laptops and two wireless systems at the moment so it is easy to get something working one way or another.

I am on a cell phone plan now with a lot less minutes but you can call my hotel while I am here (my minutes are now free at night, though, so call then all you want.) The hotel’s number is (301) 464-0089 and, at the moment, I am in room 618 where I will be until Monday evening when I head back to Geneseo for a few nights. Luckily, my trip back will coincide with Min being there really well.

For those who are wondering, I am sure that there is not going to be a Friday Night Game for some time. Art might be hosting the next one. I am out for this week and next week for sure and I don’t think that I will even be around for the week after that. Right now, Min is sleeping in Geneseo on Friday night and having to get up early to get to Ithaca so no one is able to come over those nights. I will keep you posted as we learn more about the schedule. In the meantime, keep practicing. I can’t – no games on my laptop 🙁

I decided that I needed to get out for a walk this afternoon. So I went out for lunch intending to go to Wendy’s. But, I discovered that there is a McDonald’s right next door that I had previously been unaware of and I felt like a Fillet’O’Fish so I stopped in. Much to my surprise, the McD’s here is now accepting credit cards. That makes me very happy. After my late lunch I walked over to Borders to see what kind of a selection they have. The Borders here has one of the most extensive selections of audio books around. Yay! Phil told me about the book Slaughter House Five and said that I should read it so I picked that up when I discovered a copy on CD. They have some really interesting bargain books there including an additional vegetarian book in the collection that I have so many of already but I didn’t feel like lugging heavy books all the way back to the hotel on a hot and humid day. So I will wait for another day before buying them. I am sure that I will be spending plenty of time in that bookstore over the course of the next several weeks. I hope to be doing a lot of reading while I am down here so it will come in very handy.

I took a short nap this afternoon. It is hard to stay focused and vibrant when you don’t move much. My foot hurts a bit and the cement floor makes me really want to stay off of it.

Working out of town has highlighted to me the importance of open source software. In this case, Microsoft Office vs. OpenOffice. There are plenty of reasons for one or the other but here is one that people never talk about. The EFFORT of licensing. I own MS Office 2003. In fact, I own over a dozen copies. All totally legal and above board. However, there is still a few problems using MS Office. For example, I am out of town using a newly installed laptop. And my installation of MS Office is not activated. And, for some reason, it won’t let me activate. Now, I am sure that this is a mistake of mine that I installed the wrong copy in the wrong place, but it might not be. It may be that I moved this copy from another computer or that it is the same copy that was always on this computer. You never know. So that is a pain. Is there a way to look up which copy is installed where? I don’t think so. Not only is it an effort to deal with for this reason, but what if my laptop crashed and I didn’t have my MS Office discs with me here in Maryland? Do I FedEx them from NY? Do I buy a new copy (my thirteenth?) Do I do without? Do I install OpenOffice instead? Ok, and one last point. What is the deal with MS Office needing to do installation procedures everytime I do anything on my laptop? I tried to open a PDF in Adobe Reader and Outlook 2003 had to install something! Microsoft has the same issues with their Journal Reader and Adobe Reader except if you get the screen saying Journal Reader is installing, you are screwed. When I first put in the MS Office CDs and say “Complete Install”, do they think I am kidding? Is it a joke? Do they not use their own product to know how annoying this is? Do they think that I won’t notice all of the times that it has to install again because they messed up the first time? I don’t get it. I use my computer far to often and have changes made far too often to rely on Microsoft products. OpenOffice is available to me anywhere that I have Internet access, anytime. If my own copy preloaded doesn’t work, I can just get a new copy online. And I don’t have to deal with the licensing issues or the installing everytime I open it issues. I can’t find any upsides to MS Office. And no one has ever been able to show me one – except Andy, sometimes OpenOffice makes MS Office files that have fewer TABS in them. That is the worst thing that I have ever found with OpenOffice. And I don’t particularly care much because MS Office files are not designed nor are they suitable for data transfer between companies. OpenOffice is often said to be a “Good Enough” product but the harsh reality is that OpenOffice is often a superior product. Even if I had to pay the same amount for MS Office or OpenOffice, I don’t see any financial advantages to Microsoft’s products.

Today is quite the long update. For the most part, I have been just avoiding getting any real work done but also I am keeping the file open on my desktop to work on whenever a thought strikes me which causes me to write far more often. Between bursts of working on one thing or another I will just jot down a few thoughts. It helps me keep from burning out throughout the day. And it keeps me from thinking of the update as this huge project that I have to tackle at some point in the evening. That makes it hard. Josh and Emily, are most faithful readers, will be happy to see so much going on recently.

Well, I managed to make it all day without leaving the block. I am happy to have been able to stay in. Everyone needs a day of rest. I don’t get much time to myself so it was nice. I think the phone only rang once all day long and it was just Verizon calling to make sure that my Internet connection was working properly today (because they had account issues yesterday.) I have spent the entire day working. New stuff on our servers. I think I have had more time to work on the servers in Geneseo while I am in Bowie than when I was in Geneseo. The big thing is that we are starting to block SPAM today. We are taking the heavy handed approach of blocking entire domains that allow SPAM to be sent out. I wish that we could block Yahoo, MSN, AOL and Hotmail because they are the worst offenders but some legitimit users still use those domains so we are kind of in a tough spot. We hope to be adding an additional type of SPAM blocker that looks at each message and decides if it looks like crap or not. What we are doing now is actually refusing the mail at the network level so the mail servers never even see the SPAM. I have been adding new senders and domains throughout the day as messages sneak through. I am hopeful that this will reduce our SPAM by more than 50%.

It is early but I would like to be able to post and not worry about forgetting to do it. We all know how bad I have gotten now. Hopefully being in Maryland will help that. I have to be really on top of things here or no one back home gets to find out what I am up to. I pretty much don’t get to talk to anyone now. Of course, seconds after I write this the phone rings. Isn’t that always how it is.

I heard a loud sound outside and thought that it sounded like fireworks. So I walked to the window and it turns out that I have a beautiful sixth story view of a large fireworks display taking place about two miles south-south-east from here.

Mr. Humphries is going to be staying with dad for the next month or so. Neither Min nor I will be home to take care of him so dad is going to watch him. I miss my hamster already, it isn’t fair that he won’t even be there when I get home! 🙁

The fireworks set off some idiot’s car alarm. I hope he gets towed. Car alarms are illegal in most cities but the police seldom inforce it like they should. Car alarms often violate noise ordinances. And since they do it when no one is there, there isn’t much way to plead for it being an accident when you enabled the device and then left it sitting somewhere. I think that all hotels should have an instant tow policy for any cars that have alarms go off. There are few things more annoying that laying in bed at night in a hotel room and hearing someone’s car alarm go off who is either drunk in the bar or on the other side of the hotel and isn’t being woken up by the alarm.

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