Archive for March, 2008


Monday, March 31st, 2008

My friend Eric Parker has been emailing and calling everyone he knows.

His son Ari got into Harvard (as well as Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, and about 10 other schools).

That’s Ari on the left. He’s a good kid and jams on the Sax with his Dad and my brother when they perform in Nyack.

Eric could not be prouder.

Congratulations Eric….

and, oh yeah, congratulations Ari.

New Template – Very techy

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Way too techy – don’t read if you are looking for cats. I put some pictures of Gracie on the cat blog. (Hover over the “other sites” link above and click on the cat blog.)

Damn – it’s not working in IE – I have to try to fix it.

I wrote a simple javascript an css menu at work for one of my projects and I applied it to some of my blogs. You can see it by hovering over the menu links under the heading above. It drops down a bunch of links and makes the blog more readable in that there is no longer any right hand column.

The webring code is screwy, but I am going to drop the webring. It was a good idea, but the coders at webring put a DIV aroundd the code that screws up any css based design.

I am going to start up my technical blog again, but I am not going to do it with posts. I will just hand craft topics when I get around to it. I can’t keep up with the blogs that I have.

Earth Hour and My Wood Stove

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

March 29, 2008 during Earth Hour, I turned off all the lights and just watched the old Jotul #6 burning a couple of logs. Here’s a YouTube video of the fire. It was nice.

Rudy Rucker on POD Publishing

Friday, March 28th, 2008

I have always thought that publishing your own book was a last resort. I have never gone the final mile to POD and self publishing on any of my collections because it would be admitting defeat. I felt that finding an audience without the distribution channels of a large publishing house would be impossible and I would never sell more than a few dozen books.

I may be wrong about POD (publish on demand).

I regularly read Rudy Rucker’s blog and I think of him as one the writers on my Top Ten Science Fiction Writers list that I have yet to compile. It turns out that his Wares books are doing well and he can get them reprinted at a big house, his other books are more problematic. This is downright silly. He is a good writer and an excellent read. I have half a dozen books of his on my shelves and I have even paid for some his stories and lectures on tape.

It seems outrageous that Rudy Rucker would have to go the POD route, but Rudy writes:

“I’ve been thinking about options for making some of my out of print novels available again. There’s still some hope I can get a mainstream publisher to reissue the four books in my Ware series, but my other out of print books are more problematic. I’m thinking of Spacetime Donuts and The Sex Sphere in particular, and maybe eventually The Secret of Life, which is available only in ebook form.”

The blog entry lists many of his options eBooks, LuLu, Lighting Source and Amazon BookSurge and Kindle. It would be cool if could get Rudy to let them handle some of his books. J has published his books on Kindle and using Lighting Source and probably LuLu. Tyree pushes the SamsDot books relentlessly at the conventions and the editors at SamsDot are all just plain nice people. (I lurk on their discussion board.)

If Rudy Rucker can’t get his books, and he has a name, then what chance is there for the rest of us. It looks like POD is not the last resort that I thought it was, but perhaps the only resort, even if you are writing Pro quality stuff.

It is time to start really working on my Indian Publishing Scheme.

Rudy’s Blog

Found in Junk

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

I found this very cute little Mac with the monitor built in on the side of the road. It is an iMac G3 333mhz with 64mb memory and a 6 gig disk. It is pristine and was used by a little kid who played card games.

I am going to see if I can plug a USB terrabyte hard drive into it and connect it to the network. From what I’ve read it will not be too hard, but may be a little slow. I may have to load it with MacLinux but it will be interesting.

I wanted to get a $38 network slug and put Linux on it, but they are harder to come by than you’d think. My order was back ordered with no word of when they will be in stock again.

I also wanted to get one of those routers that you can reprogram so they will mount network drives, but they are too expensive.

Next week is cleanup week when everyone puts their bigger junk out. I will be taking the long way home every night and I hope to find more cool things.

Scott and his Cat Tiger

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

I spent part of yesterday and a good part of today getting PHP to work correctly on my XP box and then on a county server running 2003. I discovered that the way to make it not work is to use the install packages provided by the PHP people. You have to hand craft the install.

Hand crafting leaves lots of room for typos and forgotten steps. I have it down pat now, but I will most likely forget most of it in a month or so. I’m writing down the gotchas for future reference.

The hinky part of the install was to configure it to connect to all the databases around here. We have mostly Oracle, but there are DB2 and MS SQL Server dbs. There are also Paradox and other odd databases around, not to mention MS Access.

Oracle fought back, but I drilled through it and I now have both Oracle 10g and Oracle 11g connections to all the test and applications servers here. There is a server running Oracle 8g that I had trouble with, but I even found a way around that.

I wrote a test page to read some data from each of the databases as I tested them. It extracted the EMP table off of the SCOTT user space.

Every Oracle database that I’ve worked on, and I started with Oracle 3, has had a user name SCOTT with a password of TIGER. It contains some simple tables for testing and learning SQL commands. I learned Oracle from the SCOTT/TIGER database.

It never occurred to me until today to ask who Scott was.

I googled Scott tiger oracle and this is what I found:

Bruce Scott was one of the first employees at Oracle (then Software Development Laboratories). He co-founded Gupta Technology (now known as Centura Software) in 1984 with Umang Gupta, and later became CEO and founder of PointBase, Inc. Bruce was co-author and co-architect of Oracle V1, V2 and V3. The SCOTT schema (EMP and DEPT tables), with password TIGER, was created by him. Tiger was the name of his cat.

Java – the Kiss of Death – Error 500

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

I am beginning to despise Java and all of its incredibly complex implementations.

Here is a screen dump from weather. My-Cast is a nice service that sends you weather alerts an I check it each morning for the weekend outlook. The site has maybe 6 or 7 Java JSP pages. Today I got a 500 dump – not even a custom error message from the amateurish coders on the site.

My question is why would you use an EJB on a website with only a few pages? Why would you choose a slow top-heavy technology like Java to do a simple thing like display a couple of records from a database?

You use Java for large enterprise applications where you have teams of coders who need to create tools and integrate them. You don’t use it for lightweight “select and spit” web pages. I could have done the entire My-Cast site in a PHP in an afternoon.

I have been saying this for a while and it makes me no friends. Just remember YouTube is entirely coded in PHP. If YouTube were coded in Java, it would crashed and burned years ago or else the hardware resource costs, along with the salaries of a large staff of programmers would have made it too expensive to run.

Digg, one of the most popular sites on the nets uses PHP running on a handful of servers.

If you care to be techy today, read this about Java and PHP. It has links to some of the battles in the flame war between the Java and PHP camps.

Asimov on Global Warming – 1989

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

This is why Science Fiction writers should make all of the big decisions. I’m not in 100% agreement with everything, but I have total respect for his reasoning. He makes more sense than anyone speaking out today.

Notice, he speaks without notes as far as I can tell.

More of this talk

Ada Lovelace Painting bought on eBay

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

Someone bought an original painting of Ada Lovelace on eBay. Ada was the daughter of George Gordon Lord Byron, the English romantic poet. She was a mathematician (unusual for a woman at that time) and she was purportedly the lover of Charles Babbage who designed a steam powered difference engine. Babbage’s machine, although never completed was a real modern computer in every way, capable of programming, loops, branches, input and output. Ada, supposedly wrote the first ever computer programs. She is the first hacker.

Up to this time, there were few known original paintings of Ada and the modern representations of her are all copies of copies from copies in books and magazines of the time.

Many working versions of the Babbage difference engine have been built and there are several good emulator programs on the web. At the time, the steel that was available to Babbage and his mechanic was too soft and they had problems with the machine jamming all the time. The design was good, but the stress on the rods and gears was too much for the brass and steel of the time. I think that good steel was available, but it was probably too difficult to work. Probably the tolerances on the gear trains which had virtual lengths of miles, might have contributed to the problems. Babbage produced small working models of parts of his engine, but the complete one was not completed before he went bankrupt.

Legend has it that Ada and Charles used the parts of the engine to calculate the odds at horse racing. Ada sold her jewels to bet heavily on several races. Unfortunately, races at the time (as is true now) had little to with mathematics and much to do with behind the scenes manipulation of races, horses and payouts. They lost everything.

“Ada Lovelace, formally known as Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace is credited with creating the world’s first computer program for the Babbage steam-powered calculating engine. The United States military named their Ada programming language after her and her portrait is used in some Microsoft hologram stickers.”

Domains Expiring

Monday, March 24th, 2008

I am letting several domains expire. Some I don’t want and some I don’t have time for. I am letting go. I am going to let go and I am thinking that and should go. One of them is the Cat Blog, but I have been putting cat pictures here, on this blog.

I am dropping and it will go away at the end of the month. I tried several things with ScienceFictional, but it didn’t take off. I love the name, but I don’t have time for it., AstoundingStories and AstoundingScienceFiction will expire this summer and I will not renew them. AstoundingTales was a great name for an ezine, but AstoundingStories and AstoundingScienceFiction had legal issues with the owners of the original magazine claiming that they had rights to the name. AstoundingTales or AstoundingStories would be a great names for a blog as long as you didn’t try to publish SF using the name.

This will save me about $70 a year. None of these sites makes me any money or ever did. I currently have 46 domains, which is way too many. I can’t get rid of the money makers, but the experimental sites and the Spec Fic sites can go without ever being missed.

If you want any of these domains I can transfer them to your registrar. You need a registrar account (like namebargain or godaddy). It usually doesn’ t cost anything except the first year’s registration which is under $10 most places.

Peter S. Beagle

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Peter S. Beagle sends out a newsletter from time to time. Among other things there is a new audio book of The Last Unicorn.

The picture is Peter’s cat:

Finn, the RAVEN office wondercat, has different-colored eyes. Turns out they glow in the dark differently, too…spooky!

Jack Lelanne

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

When I was a kid, Jack used to be on TV. For years he was on reruns. In an age of obscenely pumped up steroid giants, Jack looks like just a really fit guy, but at the time, he was a “muscle man”. I am sure Jack never used any kind of hormone supplement or unnatural additive to make him strong. He just ate well and worked out. This is something we can all do. Watching Jack talk about his personal philosophy is almost a religious experience.

Jack is on some commercial on TV lately and seeing him in his prime and again in his 90s just makes you smile.

13 Great Ghost Movies on Squidoo

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Please click on the link below and vote for your favorite ghost story.

This is a Squidoo lens. My Squidoo lense actually makes a few cents. I am even thinking of writing a few more. I need some hits to keep it in the top 10% on Squidoo. The page has started to slip a little lately.

You can make a lens on any subject. It has to be about 1000 words. Lists are best because people tend to click on “Top 22 Bread Recipes” or “Top 10 reasons NOT to quit smoking”. Politics is hot and opinions matter more than facts. I have to write a couple of more. On the internet everything is about “Shelf Space” the more of your stuff that you have out there, the more money you make. actually seems to work. You can even create links to Amazon with your own Affiliate ID – I’ve had two sales, totaling about a dollar in March, so far.

Erica, I expect you to compose a “10 ways to Keep a Cat off your Keyboard”. John B. I expect you to write “The Top 20 Reasons why the Neocons will (probably) Fail”. eJim, I expect you to write up “The 10 worst games in the History of the Edmonton Oilers”. J, I expect you will need to do very little research for “The 10 Worst Jobs in Denver”.

Let me know when you write them and I will link to your lenses here.

13 Great Ghost Movies on Squidoo

Awareness Test

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Count the passes – what did you miss?