April 3, 2002

I am doing my best to keep these updates coming as often as possible. It takes a lot of work to write so much content for a site like this you know. Take a look at the 2001 Archive page and see how much there is in there. It is out of control. And we didn’t start until part way through the year and I missed huge amounts of time too.

Technical Note: For those of you using browsers like Mozilla, Netscape 6, Internet Explorer or Opera (which constitutes just about all of you – you can’t hide from me because I can read the logs,) you can use the F5 key to force a refresh of a web page. Which means if, for example, you go to Anne’s Bio page and don’t see her latest Bio entry listed but you know that it should be up, try pressing F5 and see if it appears. Web pages get cached on you computer or sometimes on a proxy server to speed up performance but sometimes this can cause you to be looking at old content. Just something to keep in mind.

It is so nice to have the economy picking back up. I think that those of us who work in IT may be some of the first to see things really turning around. In January, I was lucky if I got called once that entire month with someone interested in hiring me. Now, I am on the phone and email everyday with three or four different people talking about jobs here or there. It is quite a relief knowing that you are in demand again. Loopy has definitely noticed since he is now back at work again. I am expecting to be doing a contract at least once this month if not more.

Today is the first day that I have managed to be able to download a copy of the new OpenOffice final release candidate to try out. OpenOffice is replacing StarOffice as SUN’s free competition to Microsoft Office. I have now installed OO twice and so far it is pretty nice. As soon as it is available in final release, I will have a link available so that you can download it as well. OO is well worth the download… MS Office XP compatability and cross platform support for free! Works for me. The download is only 50MB so it isn’t all that bad. The new version runs faster but has a few less features than the old SO 5.2. But some of those features, like a built in web browser and an integrated desktop were more annoying than useful and just made for a larger and slower download and slower load times. This new office should be a bit more responsive.

Eric and I headed up to Newark this morning for a meeting with the VIA Health System of Wayne County. That was very exciting. We had an effective day, though, and are going to be flying down to Hattiesburg, Mississippi coming up in a few weeks. That should be fun. Neither of us have ever been to Mississippi. We will take the opportunity to come back through Washington, DC and pick up my Buick.

My main computer, the one that I am using now, runs Windows 2000 Pro and has slowly been degrading over the last year or so since it has been running. Windows 2000 eventually slows down too much and you have to reinstall it to make everything work again. So, last night I cleaned out the inside of my computer, blew out the dust that has collected, added new memory (I now have 512MB in this machine) and switched from a PCI VooDoo4 to a GeForce2 MX400 (Loopy’s old one – he upgraded to a GeForce4 Ti4400 two days ago.) Then I reinstalled Win2K. It only took three hours or so and the computer is back up and running better than ever now. I am so glad that I have the computer set up in such a way that I am able to easily reinstall because it can end up being quite an ordeal if you don’t have everything ready to do it. It only took me 30 minutes of so to get ready ahead of time. Most of that time was just double checking things to be sure that I wouldn’t lose anything that I needed.

Since I upgraded my computer, I also switched to the newest version of HTML-Kit and am now using Build 292 Beta. I also just noticed that I had left out some of the Horizontal Rules that go on the page. I wish somebody would mention these things. I know that you are all out there looking at the site. Actually, Bob and Nate actually read the site today which is pretty unusual.

Not much real news today. Nothing exciting happening here. Somebody email me or something! Speaking of emailing me, I need people to email me with ideas about what we should be adding to the site. We need more cool stuff for people to come and check out but I do not know what needs to be added. I am open to suggestions.

April 2, 2002

So Nate doesn’t have any insurance (beyond liability) on his crispy car so that totally sucks. It is kind of annoying having a house of five people and only three cars. It wouldn’t have been so bad if Loopy hadn’t just started working at Cornell so his car isn’t even here anymore.

Flag of BelgiumAnne is trying to keep up with me! Update number fourteen is now available in her Bio section.

Canadian FlagIn Canadian news, Loopy is heading to North Bay this coming Friday and spending the weekend up there in the frozen north country. Also (I mention this because I know that none of you ever reads the news) the Queen Mother has died.

For the first time, really, Loopy and I used the web site to look up events from a year ago so that we could tell how long it has been. It is really handy having your life written down on a web site so that people can look up when things happened to you.

Dominica has an interview today. She hasn’t decided yet exactly what she is going to be doing. She wants to go back to grad school (She has a BSc in Biology and so might go for a BSc in Chemistry before going on for a MS in BioChem) but she needs to work and pay for school as well so she is undecided as to how she wants to do it. She has already put in notice at her old job (one month’s notice – not two weeks) and so she is stuck with figuring out something right away. Maybe she will end up working in a hotel just like Loopy, Phil and I used to do. Actually, speaking of which, Phil is back in the hotel business again working at the Hampton Inn in Rochester – right across the street from the old Wellesley Inn where Loopy and I worked circa 1999 (May 1998 – February 2000 for me. July 1998? – February 2000 for Loopy.) What a great job that was. Low stress. Free food (donuts.) Overnight shift. That is where I had a chance to first get certified and get working in my field. I had done some low level work in IT in 1994 & 1995 but needed to do something to get to where I really wanted to be. While I was at the Wellesley, I managed to get my Microsoft Engineering Cert (MCSE, MCP+I and MCP) as well as a semi-cert from Novell and two certs from CompTIA (A+ and Network+.) In January & February 2000, after I knew I was leaving and we finally had an internet connection in the office at the hotel, I also did some Brainbench testing and got seven or eight BCP certs as well. It was while I was at the Wellesley in 1999 (the same year that I wasn’t able to drive because I had lost my drivers license) that I had the opportunity to interview at a million different places and I got a lot of the interviewing experience that I have now. It was also during this time that I met John Nicklin and that led to Loopy and I helping start the Waste Watcher project. What a lot happened that year. Loopy and I ran our own small consulting business during 1999 as well. Miller – West Consulting it was called. It is hard to believe that we have come so far.

March 30, 2002

Happy Easter! Today was an exciting day for Nate. Nate, Bob and Zach drove down to NYC over the last weekend as I had mentioned, and on their way back this afternoon, Nate’s car started smoking and then caught fire. Everyone is ok but the car is completely burned. We will bring you pictures of the wreak as soon as I am able to get the Polaroids back from Nate. He had the tow truck driver take some pictures before they took the car away. So now, with my car STILL stuck in DC and Nate’s burnt to a crisp, we are short two cars. Tim had to drive from Syracuse down to Liberty, NY to pick the guys up and bring them home.

March 29, 2002

I managed to get a ton of work done on the site yesterday. The 2001 Archive page (by far our largest page right now) was gone through and thoroughly modified to work with our new CSS scheme and as much of the unnecessary HTML was stripped out to reduce the size of the page. The page should download signigicantly faster now. The 2002 Archive page was updated this morning.

Flag of BelgiumIn addition to updating the pages, I forgot to mention yesterday that Anne’s Bio entry number thirteen is now available from her Bio page. Anne is, by far, the second largest contributor to Sheep Guarding Llama with 14 pages of content devoted just to her! A large number of our readership come here just to read her updates, I think.

So Eric made it here yesterday and we had a chance to play another game of four player AoE2 with Loopy and Bob. That game is so much fun with a large number of players. Eric and I won very quickly – collecting all the relics early on in the game. We tried to play another round later but Eric had to leave and we weren’t able to complete the game 🙁

I should also mention that all content from before March has been moved off into the appropriate archive. I am going to try to keep this main page a little smaller so that it loads faster as many people are looking at the site over a slow phone connection and we just have an absolute ton of content on here. Not significant content, mind you, but lots of it. Over the last year, this site has really grown and it is just huge now. We definitely did more with this site than we ever expected to. Everyone I know goes to this site on a regular basis (except for the guys who actually live in this house – go figure.) But once we all move away I expect that they will come to this site too to see what is going on.

Nate, Zach and Bob headed down to New York City last night to spend the weekend. I guess they don’t feel that they should be at home with their families over Easter! Just kidding. Dominica and I are going to visit my family tomorrow and her family on Sunday. Tonight we are headed to Rochester after work to hang with Josh and Phil. We are planning on going to see Panic Room tonight. That will be fun, we seldomly get to see Josh and we never get to see Phil. And, we have yet to get to meet Josh’s new woman! So maybe we will get to see her tonight – but we won’t hold our breath.

The weather is wonderful here today. The sun is shining, the snow is gone, the windows are open! I even went and turned off the thermostat in the house to be sure the heater would not kick on and I started opening windows all over the house. Spring is definitely here. The stream in the gulley behind the house is gurgeling so loudely that I can here it in the house. This is one of those days when I am very glad that I am able to work from home.

I am having one of my reading spurts again. It isn’t very often that I get a change to read fiction but I have been reading a little bit recently. I just finished David Edding’s Pawn of Prophecy which is book one of the Belgariad that Dominica got me for Christmas (five books in total.) I finished book one while I was in DC – I read it all in one day and now I am working on book two, Queen of Sorcery. I am a big fan of fantasy and science-fiction. I am glad that I am getting a chance to read a little bit. It is so seldom that I get to that I really enjoy it when the chance comes along.

Canadian FlagI actually had a brief moment to chat with Natalie this morning. She has been working a lot at her new position at the Air Canada Center and hasn’t been able to get online to talk. Eric is the only one who has been able to find her (lazy bastard – sitting at his computer all day long.)

Anne informed me that Miranda’s birthday should have been her Golden Birthday not her Champagne Birthday. Personally, I have no idea what either of them are so I am not getting into the middle of it.

When I copied over the Archive files, Archives 2001 went from 167KB of text down to 141KB which is a pretty significant decrease and Archives 2002 went from 24KB to 25KB but included the month of February that had been moved to there.

For purposes of testing the web site here at the Llama house, we are now running an Apache web server on the same machine that I use to create the web site. It is very handy to be able to see the site running on an actual server before sending it up to be hosted on the web.