October 20, 2005

There is some big technology news today. The biggest item is that OpenOffice 2.0 has been released to the mirrors and can now be downloaded. The servers are, of course, completely swamped and it is almost impossible to get but it is out there and everyone looking for the hottest office suite around should be downloading it and giving it a try. I have been using the OpenOffice suite since it was known as Star Office and was not in any way affiliated with SUN nor was it open source. I began using version 5.1, I believe, and have always been very happy with it. This new version is expected to be a major stepping stone for the project as it ads many new features including the very important new Open Document format shared with the KOffice project and incredible compatibility with Microsoft’s Office.

Also in tech news today: the Firefox, the Gecko engine based web browser that is – to some extent – the continuing legacy of projects like Netscape Navigator even if not by code base, has been downloaded 100 million times. That is incredibly encouraging. Firefox is a really great web browser and has become the default web browser of almost everyone that I know (or, at least, of everyone that I know what they are using.) If you haven’t tried it out yet you definitely should.

Sorry for all of the technical news but there is some really great stuff today. VMWare, the world leader in virtualization technologies for the Intel/AMD platform, has today released their new VMPlayer which is a really awesome piece of software that allows you to fire up previously saved virtual machines made from VMWare’s own software, Microsoft’s virtualization products or from Symantec’s LiveState software. This free player, yes that says free, does NOT allow you to create new images which is a crippling to most people who are the target audience of VMWare’s commercial products but it does allow you to use those images. I think that this is an incredible move from VMWare and that it will take a while before people really start to understand just how powerful and useful a utility like this will be. Its usefulness in the educational community alone could be unbelievable. This is going to make it possible for all of us with regular virtualization software to be able to make images available to just anyone to try out and to learn on. I am all ready excited about all of the different ways that I am going to be able to use this tool.

Don’t forget that tomorrow Dominica and I along with my dad and the Richardson clan are all driving out to Ohio and will not be returning until Sunday. Dominica does have to work on Sunday afternoon so we are expecting to be back at a reasonable time. Oreo is going to be staying with the Ralstons while we are gone. We are hoping that the experience will help him to prepare for the eight days that he will be without us in a week when Dominica and I travel to Florida to go to Disney World. He will be staying with dad while we are down there.

I was awake at 6:30 this morning but couldn’t bring myself to get out of my nice, comfy bed. So I slept in until Min got up to go to her class in Canandaigua.

Danielle came by around 10:30 to borrow our baby gate for their dog. That baby gate is getting a lot of use for dogs. It will have seen more duty before we ever have a baby than most baby gates see with actual babies.

My work for the day today is still working on my final paperwork for Empire State. I have a meeting set up with my mentor early next week to go over all of the paperwork that I have managed to complete so far. Hopefully I will find out that the stuff that I have been doing is very good and is lining up pretty well with what they have been expecting. That is decently unlikely, however, and I will probably have quite a bit of paperwork left to do. Fortunately I have been scheduling myself a bit of time to be able to work on that in the upcoming weeks so I am hopeful that I will be able to pound on it and actually get somewhere with it. At least all of this work that I am doing for my academic planning (funny that it is called planning as I am doing it an entire year after having completed my classes) will be very useful for both Eric and Dominica as they will have to do almost exactly the same work for their own programs at Empire State so this should, in theory at least, save them a lot of trouble. There is still a lot of the academic planning process that has to be personalized but with all of the paperwork that I will have done they will have a lot of the framework issues out of the way and will have a really clear picture of what constitutes an acceptable program and how to format the academic planning paperwork. The abstractness of the planning process is the part that was so hard for me to deal with. I find it extremely unclear what exactly I am supposed to be doing so it is really hard to make any real progress on it. Speaking of which, Eric still has not heard back from anyone at Empire about getting started there.

About two weeks ago I managed to track down Bonnie Smith (formally Bonnie Reigelman.) I haven’t spoken to her since we went to school together at MCC. She started school there in the fall of 1997, if I remember correctly. She dated Tanner for a while in 1998, I believe. Speaking of Tanner, I wonder what state he lives in now. Last we heard he was headed for Manhattan but we really have no idea where he ended up. After MCC she went on to Binghamton University and is now married and living back in Rochester. So we are getting together on Monday for coffee up in the city. So, Bonnie if you are reading this, HI!

I finished recording the sixth SGL Podcast today that I started last night. This latest one is almost forty minutes long so brace yourselves. Min actually telephones me while I was recording it last night and I decided to just leave the telephone ringing in and edit on the new part from today. Makes the show seem more raw. Or something like that. I am really excited because I checked the stats today and there are as many as nine people a day downloading both the SGL and SGL2 podcasts. That is amazing. I was worried that I would do all of this recording and no one would listen but it appears that that is not the case.

Eric got contacted by the college today and is filling out his paperwork to be admitted. He found out that he is getting more to go to school than he thought that he was so he is able to go to school closer to full time than he had expected to. That is really cool. If he works really hard on it he might be able to wrap up in under six years. That is pretty good for only ever going part time.

Min and I went to the Omega Grill for some lunch before she had to go to work. We waited until pretty much the last minute and got there after 2:00 when she had to be to work at 2:55. So it was a quick lunch.

After lunch I had some phone calls to make. Dominica and I were supposed to go to the teacher appreciation dinner at Castile Baptist Church tomorrow evening but we are not able to because we are going to be in Ohio.

Oreo has definitely learned that when he goes outside and comes back in we always give him a treat. We started doing this to encourage him not to run away from the house. But now he has figured out the trick and is constantly going in and out of the house. Today he moved it up to three times in rapid succession. That is about once every five minutes. And instead of at least going out and wandering around he just walked to the edge of the deck, takes in the scenery and comes right back inside. So I am having to adjust his current “get a cookie every time yuo return to the door” scenario. I am not sure exactly how we are going to work it but we have to do something because he is going outside at least twice as often as he actually wants to be outside. We have rewarded the wrong thing and now he thinks that “do you want to go outside” means “do you want a cookie?”

Scott Alan Miller around nine years old on first day of school year standing by a walnut tree in the front yard of his home in New York

I am starting to really like this extra little feature of adding a picture to the dailies. It adds something to the site, I think. A little zip. A little zing. Anywho… this is a picture of some super dorky kid, okay, okay… its me. I don’t know exactly when this picture was taken but from what I can tell I must be around eight or nine years old. The house in the background was built during the winter when I was seven and I am pretty sure that the picture is a “first day of school” picture. So, if I was to guess, this is me at age eight on the first day of third grade but it could easily be a little older. That walnut tree that I am standing beside is still there and it is still taller than me. How depressing. You can see from this picture what an awful dress code we had when I was in school. I am wearing dark brown corduroys which were not in the least bit popular at the time. And my mother was convinced that boys were supposed to wear pants with the waist around the stomach instead of around the waist which made me look even dumber than I would have with just a bad outfit. And we had to wear shirts with collars but the school was always kept so warm that it was impossible to stay cool so the combination lead to wearing cheap, thin polo shirts in an attempt to be as cool as possible. Cool temperature obviously. There is nothing cool about the kid in that picture. I figured that since I had that picture of Eric yesterday that it would only be fair to have this one today.

My dad justed IM’d me: My Aunt Gayle’s dog Kristie has cancer and has to have an operation to try to save her. She is having her operation tomorrow. She is a really sweet dog. A sheltie. She is a rescue dog having been abused. She is still very shy and is not comfortable around almost any men. But she is really nice and very affectionate. She has no vocal cords: they were cut when she was young by the people that abused her.

Dad also just told me that the maple tree in his front yard, the one that is directly next to the walnut tree in the picture was severely damaged in the last wind storm that we had. About one third of the tree got torn right off. He said that the tree, which was always a very large and symmetrical maple, is really ugle now. I took a quick look through the pictures that I have here on my desktop to try to find one of that tree but I only found one that just barely had it in the corner of the picture. So I guess that we are out of luck with that one. The only pictures that I have on the computer here are ones that are in print form that I scanned in along with a few that are newer digital originals. The vast majority of pictures that I have taken over the years are in slide format. My dad has a nice slide scanner that I am going to try to use to get all of those pictures scanned in with. That will give us a ton of material to use and give me a way to enjoy all of those memories. He is busy using it right now but I will probably get to borrow it by the end of the year.

Now that a number of projects that I have been working on over the past year have been wrapping up I have been working on getting my files cleaned up as well. The computer tends to get filled up with old documents that I can neither identify nor can I figure out what use they might be to me in the future. The big things include the tons of paperwork that has been involved in the Wegmans project. I feel like I should archive everything in case anyone ever has questions but it is a lot of digital paperwork to keep laying around. And my class work from Empire. All of that stuff will fill up a computer if you don’t keep it in check. So I have been trying to identify renegade files in my “My Documents” to figure out if they are things that I really need or not. While I was going through there I came across, for the first time since I originally wrote it in 2001, my entrance essay for Empire State College. Eric and I were just talking about that today and he was asking me if I had ever done one. I thought that I had but I couldn’t remember for sure. But I actually found it today lost in a mislabeled folder.

I decided that I haven’t ordered any CDs from BMG in forever (nor from Columbia House but they are gone now) and I was looking at the info that BMG sent to me today and I have a number of free CD certificates to redeem so I decided to place an order. I wanted to get some new stuff for Christmas before the season actually got here so I thought that that would work out well. I ordered Nickelback’s Silver Side Up and Curb which rounds out my Nickelback collection. I also got The Essential Dion who did such great classics as “The Wanderer” and “Runaround Sue” which I love and didn’t want to be without. In the Christmas vein I ordered Lee Ann Womack’s The Season for Romance, Alabama’s Christmas Volume II (mom had volume one) and Dean Martin’s Christmas with Dino. So slowly but surely the music collection continues to grow even though, somehow, the movie collection actually outpaced it. If you would have asked me in 1994 if it would ever be possible to own more on video than I would own of audio I would never have believed it. But video is just so much cheaper to buy these days. Isn’t that weird. My CD, DVD-Audio and SACD collection has held off from reaching 1100 for several years. I topped the thousand albums mark many years ago, I believe around 1997 or so but I might be imagining that. But have never made it to 1100 unless I have just become that sloppy at keeping track of them as they come it. I know that several are not listed and I need to go through and update the lists. The DVD’s are tracked much more accurately. Right now both collections are in the 1050 range but the movies list seems to grow much more rapidly. Although recently it has slown down incredibly as well. Much of that is due to the fact that a large portion of the collection is up for sale on eBay as I unload all of the laserdiscs that I feel are not valuable to me at all. And also due to the fact that Dominica and I tend to purchase large box sets of television shows which add a lot of content while only adding a single line item to the collection list. The movie collection will definitely hit 1100 by the end of 2006. The CD collection will be unlikely to do so until closer to the end of 2007 unless there are simply massive accounting errors involved. The CDs are tracked more liberally than the DVD anyway. To compare them isn’t quite fair. The CDs are tracked by the physical number of platters involved while the DVDs are tracked by the programs. So actually the video collection is more significantly in the lead than previously thought! Weird. No one in the 1980’s or 1990’s would ever have thought that anyone would ever own more movies than albums. But I bet if a lot of you were to keep track of your collections you would notice that your movies and videos have grown at a phenominal rate in the past two or three years and that your music purchasing has dropped off. I am seeing this behaviour happening all over the place. Never before did very many people buy videos in any quantity and now, for the first time in several decades, people are not buying albums in a high quantity. Isn’t it funny how little things like that change so suddenly and yet we barely notice it happening.

At 7:20 I called over to Wegmans and ordered some pizzas for dinner. I am picking up dinner for everyone this evening and running it over to dad’s house where the family is getting together to practice singing again for the interment the day after tomorrow. Wegmans is one of the easiest places to deal with for getting any amount of food to take away and I never end up getting their pizza so often that I get sick of it so we thought that that was a good way to go. It is also pretty economical for a large number of people. Wegmans’ pizza is heavy and fills you up quickly.

At 7:35 I had to wrap up the paper that I was working on and head out for Wegmans and then up to dad’s. Oreo, of course, is coming along for the ride. He is just so happy to get the opportunity to go anywhere in the car. They mowed the grass here yesterday and he has broken out in hives. So it will be good to get him away from the air here for a little while anyway. He loves going over to dad’s house too. He always has a lot of fun over there.

It was almost exactly 10:00 when I walked back in the door to the house. I picked up the pizza, went over to dad’s and we all practiced for a little while. Then I drove back over to Geneseo and visited with Dominica for about fifteen minutes or so before coming home.

Here is a big congratulations to Bob Crissman whose The Jedi Council Speaks podcast is now listed as the 56th most popular podcast of all time on podomatic! Now, podomatic is pretty new at this point and most of the podcasts that are high on the list have only one or two episodes so I think that it will take a while before we get a good feel for which shows are going to remain popular and which are getting hit by search engines. But number fifty six is pretty amazing.

I let the hamster roam around some tonight while I was working and, as always, he decided to spend the majority of his time trying to go from the desk that he is allowed to roam around on onto the desk that he is not allowed on. Hamsters know where they aren’t allowed to be and desire to be nowhere else. Ornary things they are. So once I managed to successfully keep him from getting onto my desk with all of the wires he decided to squeeze himself between his little house and the wall and to let himself fall behind the desk and down onto the floor. What a pain having a pet rodent can be. Luckily I was sitting right here and noticed him instantly and was able to grab him before he made more than a few steps. But he was only a few feet away from Oreo and that could have ended up being very bad. Not that Oreo has even given the slightest indication that he would ever do anything to Mr. Humphries but he has also never had to deal with him being a loose rodent running across the carpetting either. Best not to find out and let that remain a mystery.

Min found out today that I am going to be teaching her very next class at FLCC. That will be on Tuesday. I am going to be teaching for an hour and fourty five minutes or thereabouts. Her class goes from 11:00 to 12:45 and I am being given the entire class time to talk to the A+ Technician students about UNIX and Linux from an historical and technical perspective. That should be a lot of fun. I enjoy lecturing and I enjoy talking about UNIX so that combination should prove to be very enjoyable.

I managed to record new podcasts for both SGL and SGL2 tonight. So be sure to check those out. Both are quite short but I wanted to squeeze some stuff in before being gone for three days. Who knows whether or not I will manage to get anything done while I am in Ohio and I didn’t want to leave everyone with nothing to read or listen to. Luckily it is the weekend when far fewer people check the site than do during the week.

Dominica got home just as I was wrapping up the SGL Podcast. That is episode seven that I just finished. There is now a link for the podcast over on the right hand side that you can use to put directly into your feed aggregator (like iPodder or iPodderX.) Or you can go to the web page version of the podcast at sheepguardingllama.podomatic.com and listen to each podcast directly from there but trust me, getting an aggregator set up and working is well worth the time. You will appreciate the convenience in no time.

Dominica was not tired when she got home so she started working on laundry and packing for the trip tomorrow. I did some stuff like getting the cell ready and getting the camera and MP3 players prepared. There is only so much to do ahead of time. Dominica takes care of all of the clothes packing since I am terrible at that. My laptop and CPAP have to be packed tomorrow at the last minute, more or less, so there is decently little for me to do tonight. I also need to take care of the hamster before we take off since no one will be here to look after him for two days. Fortunately hamsters are pretty self reliant and don’t need constant attention. They are a lot like cats in that way.

If anyone is interested in sending in audio comments to SGL Podcast (aka SGL Radio) then you can record them at home and email them in to [email protected] in MP3 format and I can put them directly into the show from there. So far I have had terrible luck getting people to email in text content for the blog portion of the site but sending in comments that way is far less interactive, I know. So I am hopeful that some of you will take the time to do a little recording and email me your voices. That would be really cool. Pretty soon I hope to also have a way for people to call in and leave audio comments by telephone directly to the SGL Podcast. Once that is up and working I will definitely let everyone know the number.

It is 11:40 and I think that there is little more that I am going to be able to do today so I am signing off and posting everything so that no one is falling behind while I am out for the weekend. TGIF. TTFN.

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