The Deliverator – Wannabee

So open minded, my thoughts fell out…

Archive for October, 2008

China Trip – One Last Gasp for Kodachrome

Posted by Deliverator on 28th October 2008

In a little over a week, I will be taking a trip to China with my father and brother. I will be there for most of November and will be visiting Shanghai, Xi’an, Chongqing and Beijing. We will be going with a group of my father’s tennis friends and will be attending the Tennis Master’s Cup. Tennis isn’t my game, but I am definitely looking forward to watching some of the best players in the world square off. We will be taking a multi-day cruise on the Yangtze river and then finishing the trip with a brief visit to Beijing.

I’ve been spending some time this last week preparing for the trip in a number of ways:

-Touched base with my more important business clients to let them know I will be out of town and to perform advance preventative maintenance. Set up remote access on additional systems.
-Established multiple VOIP accounts so that I can check my voicemail. Set up client software on my Nokia N810 Internet Tablet, Nokia N95 cellphone and my laptop.
-Investigated prepaid SIM cards and data plans so that members of our group will be able to call each other while over there and so that I will be able to have fairly regular access to the Intertubes. I had my dad get his phone unlocked.
-Set up VPN access on my router so that I will be able to establish a secure connection to my home-base here for secure web browsing and email. I am paranoid enough about my own government, much less the Chinese one :)
-Encrypted my laptop hard drive with Truecrypt. This is more as a preventative measure in the event of theft. I will unlock it if absolutely necessary if someone in authority has a fit, so I moved most of my confidential client files and the like off the device I will be taking and also wiped the slack space.
-Visited a map store in Wallingford with my father and picked up a number of regional and metropolitan maps of China.

By far the biggest piece of prep work I’ve done for my visit to China is getting my camera gear ready. I received a new camera backpack from Crumpler for my birthday. I quite like it compared to the Targus model I used previously. I will be walking quite a bit in China, so I’ve been “practicing” with the new pack by carrying it around on my nightly walks. I’ve already kicked several items out of the bag to save on weight. I might leave my Lenovo Thinkpad at home in favor of something like an Acer Aspire One to go lighter still.

My main camera for the trip will be my Nikon D80. I will be bringing an 18-200mm VR zoom, a 50mm F1.4 and a Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 for lenses, but leaving behind most everything else but a charger and a thorough assortment of cleaning supplies. I am considering whether or not to take a tripod. Mine is fairly heavy (no $ means no carbon fiber) and I don’t envy the poor lug who has to carry it (namely me). At this point I am leaning towards no. I might take my Gorillapod instead. I will also be taking a film camera as backup in case my camera breaks, gets dropped, stolen, etc.

My backup camera will be my grandfather’s Konica T3 “N”. He was a pilot for Northwest and flew the Orient for many years. Among the many things he brought back from his travels was this camera, which he made heavy use of for years to come. Through 35 years of use, this camera is still happily clicking away photos good as new with little or no visible signs of use due to its solid metal brick design. They literally don’t make em like this anymore. The camera has never needed any type of professional servicing, either. I had to do precisely two things to get this camera ready for my trip; clean the lenses and replace the batteries. Three things if you count purchasing film.

Konica T3N & Kodachrome

Replacing the batteries on an older camera like this is becoming a less than trivial task, unfortunately. Many cameras from this era used mercury based coin cells, which are no longer made due to the perceived environmental hazard of mercury. Mercury batteries offered a very consistent voltage while in use, almost until dead. Many of the light meters in the cameras of that era did away with any sort of voltage regulation due to the high stability of these batteries. While modern replacements are available, many of these have an initial voltage substantially higher than the battery they are designed to replace. This throws off the light meters in cameras and causes the image to be improperly exposed, particularly if you are shooting slide film, which is much less forgiving then film. Many of these replacement batteries also drop in voltage as they are depleted, meaning that the lightmeter is not only thrown off, but thrown off by a different amount as the battery is depleted.

One type of battery which is a fairly close match to the original PX-675 batteries used by my Konica T3N are Zinc-Air batteries. Zinc-Air batteries are commonly used for hearing aids and the like and are thus still widely available. They do have several downsides compared to Mercury batteries. They only last a couple months after you open the packaging, as their chemistry reacts to air and they dry up. Their battery voltage is slightly higher than mercury batteries, usually ~1.4 volts vs the 1.35 that my Konica expects. They also need air to operate and only reach a usable level after being exposed to air for a while. This may make their use in a sealed battery compartment difficult. Thankfully, the T3N has a perforated battery cover, so air-flow is not an issue in my case. The last time I needed to purchase batteries for my camera, I was able to do so locally. This time around, I had difficulty finding a local source, so searched online. I discoved that “My Old Camera” sells zinc air batteries with a slightly lower voltage, which they call a Wein Cell. I ordered some and receive them in short order. They advertise 1.35 volts. I measured them with my multimeter and they produced 1.37 and 1.38 volts unloaded. This probably drops a little under load, so I called it close enough and slapped them into my cameras battery compartment and then was unable to get the screw on door shut. It turns out the Wein Cell is ever so slightly longer than my previous PX-675 batteries. I ended up using a dremel tool to shave off a tiny bit of metal off the interior of the screw on battery door/plug and thus get the door to fit on with the slightly over sized cells.

For film, I decided to get my hands on some Kodachrome, which is practically all my grandfather ever shot when he was shooting slide film. I am eternally grateful for this as Kodachrome has great archival qualities, despite being in a shoe box in a garage for decades. Many other slide film types like Ansochrome and Ektachrome chromatically distort horribly with age and seem to be a haven for fungus, while Kodachrome taken out of the same shoe box will look like it was taken yesterday.

My Grandfather in Kodachrome

Unfortunately, Kodachrome was very expensive and complex to process and has been largely fazed out in favor of cheaper, simpler processes that can even be done in a home darkroom. Production of Kodachrome has likely entirely stopped at this point, with only occasional production runs at this point. I ordered some rolls from a couple different places, all of which contacted me after the fact to explain that it was on back-order. Glazer’s Camera, by far the best camera store in Seattle, imo, was able to supply me with some Kodachrome 64. They have been out of 200 speed for quite some time and don’t expect to get resupplies of either. When it is gone, it is gone for good.

While it may take you some time to track down some rolls of Kodachrome, your processing search will be quick. You can only get Kodachrome developed at one place on the planet, Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas. The world is strange, indeed. I look forward to photographing a new portion (to me, anyways) shortly.

Posted in General | No Comments »

Poor Man’s IronKey

Posted by Deliverator on 22nd October 2008

I recently had a chance to play around with an IronKey for a few hours. IronKey is a USB flash drive with a twist. The Ironkey incorporates a hardware encryption chip to keep your data safe from prying eyes. The chips are epoxied in place inside a solid metal casing, making the Ironkey extremely rugged, waterproof and tamper resistant. The chip has an internal “wrong password guessed” register which increments each time a wrong password is entered. If the wrong password is entered 10 times in a row, the Ironkey erases the flash memory. As an anti-brute forcing technique, it sounds very effective, although I can also see scenarios where your data might get permanently wiped accidentally. Supposedly the crypto chip itself incorporates silicon design features which make even advanced microscopic examination techniques impossible. The device is reasonably cross platform (Linux and OS X are both supported), although it must be initialized on a Windows system. On XP and Vista, the UI for unlocking the secured storage on the device comes up automatically and doesn’t require administrator privileges and doesn’t install any drivers. Certain versions of the Ironkey come with a pre-installed suite of portable applications such as portable firefox, email and backup applications. I view this last as a fairly nominal feature.

The IronKey does have its downsides. It is physically quite a bit larger than most USB flash sticks. It is definitely not something I would want to carry around on my already overcrowded keyring in a pants pocket. IronKey is currently only available in capacities from 2-8 GB, which is far smaller than many flash drives available cheaply at market. Lastly, the price per GB is quite high, with the 8 GB model costing $275 as of this date via Amazon. A 32 GB Corsair USB flash drive currently sells for ~$90 at Amazon, giving you 4 times the storage for 1/3rd the price. With a little effort, that 32 GB Corsair offers almost as much data protection as the Ironkey and a whole lot more storage at a fraction of the cost.

The first thing you will need to do is to download and install a copy of Truecrypt. Truecrypt is one of only a few products on the market today that can encrypt your whole hard drive and it is free to use and open source. It is worth check out for that reason alone.

Once you have Truecrypt downloaded and installed, Format your USB flash drive using NTFS. The default filesystem which many USB drives are formatted with from the factory is FAT, which while widely recognized by many systems and comparatively free of patent encumbrances, unfortunately has a number of drawbacks which makes it inappropriate for our uses. In particularly, FAT doesn’t allow for filesizes larger than 4 GB. If you are only going to be using a 4 GB or smaller USB drive, than you might be able to get by with FAT.

Once you have your USB drive formatted, start Truecrypt and start the Volume Creation Wizard from the tools menu. Create a “file container” type volume on your memory key. Make sure your container doesn’t take up all the available space on the USB drive. You will probably want to leave some space free for non-private files that you just want to access quickly without having to type in a password. You will also need a fairly nominal amount (30 MB is more than enough) of space free to install a mobile copy of Truecrypt, which it calls “Traveler Mode.”

Next, click on the tools menu in Truecrypt and click Traveler Disk Setup. Create the traveler disk files on the root directory of your USB drive and chose the Automount Truecrypt Volume and select the file container you selected earlier. Click create and you should now have a secure USB key which will prompt the user for the password to be unlocked when you insert it.

Disadvantages of a Truecrypt USB key compared to an Ironkey:

-The traveler disk feature appears to be Windows only, which means that you will need to have Truecrypt installed to use your secure volume on a Linux or OS X machine.

-For the auto-prompt for password on insertion feature to work, your Windows machine must have auto-play enabled. You can manually launch Truecrypt from the USB key and select the container file, but this is much less convenient.

-The account with which you are using it must be an administrator level account, unlike the Ironkey. This may make it difficult to use a Truecrypt protected USB drive on a library terminal or corporate computer, where you often do not have administrative privileges and where autoplay is often disabled by group policy.

-The encrypted volume resides as a container file on the unencrypted portion of the USB key. If someone were to momentarily gain access to your drive without your knowing it, or if it were lost, they could copy off this file and subject it to brute-force password guessing methods. The Ironkey in this scenario would self destruct after a mere 10 bad guesses. In practice, so long as your password is sufficiently long and complicated (uses upper and lowercase characters, numbers and punctuation symbols), the best supercomputers in the world could guess passwords from now to eternity without unlocking your data. Of far greater risk is your plugging an Ironkey or Truecrypt encrypted drive into a malware infected machine with a keystroke logger present. This risk is currently equal for both methods, so I declare a tie on this account.

Posted in General, Portable Computing/Gadgets, Security, Tech Stuff | No Comments »

Lies, Damn Lies and Election Statistics

Posted by Deliverator on 21st October 2008

I’ve been trying to get a sense of the likely results in the Senate races and happened to come across FiveThirtyEight a site which mixes polling data with statistics acumen and advanced computer modeling to predict election outcomes. Unlike many other sites replete with election graphs, maps, the site’s producers actually show you how the sausage gets made. I would be curious to hear from my brother and my friend Jason an analysis of the validity of their methodologies.


Their conclusions broadly are that Obama is almost certainly to win the election and that it will border on a landslide in the electoral vote, with the popular vote being won by a slimmer margin. In the Senate, Democrats are quite likely to gain 6-8 seats, but only have something like 1 chance in three of gaining a 60 seat filibuster proof working majority, especially factoring in fickle, nominal Democrats like Joe Lieberman. This prospective outcome makes substantial legislative reforms under an first term Obama administration less likely.

Posted in General | 1 Comment »

I always knew the Segway had a purpose…

Posted by Deliverator on 20th October 2008

Posted in General | No Comments »

Our Next President

Posted by Deliverator on 19th October 2008

Barack Obama and 100,000 Very Genuine Americans

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General | 2 Comments »

Seagate 1.5 Terabyte HDD – Good for Storage, Not Much Else

Posted by Deliverator on 18th October 2008

This year has seen big inroads for solid state disks. SSD prices have dropped from sky high enterprise level pricing to something a PC enthusiast could afford, on par with what such a person might spend on a good GPU or CPU. Flash chip sizes have gone up substantially, so that top of the line SSDs provide storage capacity equivalent to a laptop drive of 2-3 years ago. Performance of the top tier SSDs, such as the X25 series from Intel is now substantially better in almost every performance metric than the fastest conventional hard drives, such as the Velociraptor series from Western Digital. All this, while using little power and without the potential for mechanical shock induced damage. 2009 could see SSDs become a staple on many mid and high level laptops and are already quite common on Netbooks. The one area where I don’t see SSDs competing in the near future is in terms of pure raw storage capacity. The top of the line SSDs currently top out at 256 GB in terms of capacity, with 32, 64 and 128 GB capacities being far more common. Hard drives with a Terabyte of capacity, four times that of the largest capacity SSDs, are available at market for as little as $120-130. Recently, 1.5 Terabyte drives from Seagate have begun trickling onto the market. While not yet widely available at retail, you can order them from Newegg and a few other online sources.

I’ve been doing a great deal of slide scanning and digital photography this year, which has stretched my storage capacity to the limit. I like to try and backup all my data to a single device, to make it easy to grab my data and go in the event of a fire or other unforeseen circumstance. Recently, my 1 TB external drive started running full persistently, despite my best concerted efforts to cull unnecessary files. With the massive increase in data I will be seeing from the Hastings Newspaper Project, I knew it was time to upgrade and the new Seagate 1.5 drives offered the only potential solution, short of going with a multi-drive network attached storage device or some form of RAID solution. I ordered one up from Newegg and it arrived earlier this week.

I gave the new drive a thorough testing out with Spinrite, to give it a good burn-in and to induce any potential infant mortality before trusting it with my data. While my testing didn’t reveal any bad clusters, I was pretty shocked at the number of data reads requiring ECC error correction and seek errors. As platter data densities have skyrockets in recent years, I have seen a sharp increase in the number of seek errors and ECC correction has increasingly been used as a crutch instead of a fall-back measure. I have observed this to be especially true with 750 GB and Terabyte drives, but this new 1.5 TB drive almost triples the previous highs that I’ve seen in both categories from fully working drives. The high degree of re-seeking necessary with this drive is enough to severely impact random i/o performance. In short, while this is a great drive for backup purposes or for storing large media collections, I can’t recommend it as a boot drive or for running applications.

While this drive is currently in a class all by itself, I would advise a wait and see approach unless you really need the extra storage capacity in a single disk. Early comments from purchasers suggest an unusually high degree of infant mortality with these drives and also widespread problems with Nvidia motherboard chipsets, which require a drive update where available.

Posted in General | No Comments »

The Hastings Minnesota Historical Newspaper Project

Posted by Deliverator on 11th October 2008

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the last couple months researching the history of the first immigrant generation of the Marsh family in America. While I have generally been quite pleased with the amount and breadth of information available online, some data sources have been very difficult to access without involving a trip to rural Minnesota. I’ve been digitizing some of these public domain materials in order to make my own consultation of the materials easier, to make research by others easier, and to give something back to several of the historical societies which have helped me in my research. One particular offline resource to which I’ve desired easier access are the local newspapers of Hastings and Glencoe Minnesota.

The Pleasant Hill Library in Hastings has the archives of several early Hastings area newspapers on Microfilm, but as seems typical, they won’t allow for checkout, other than interlibrary loan (in which case you can only access the materials at the branch to which the material is loaned). The Mcleod County Historical Society has scattered Microfilm archives of that area’s local papers, including Glencoe, but has even more restrictive policies. They are viewable on site only. Thankfully, the Minnesota Historical Society has substantial archives of their own. Their newspaper archives are available via interlibrary loan as well, which doesn’t help in my case, but they also offer a Microfilm reel duplication service for $30 a roll + S&H.

I ended up placing an initial order for 7 rolls, consisting of issues of the Hastings Conserver, Hastings Independent and Hastings Gazette, from 1857 onwards. The Converver and Independent merged after a few years to form the Gazette, which is still published to this day as the Hastings Star Gazette. From what I can tell, this makes the Gazette the second oldest newspaper in the state, behind the St Paul Pioneer Press.

I am having the reels scanned on a high end Mekel film scanner by a company in Issaquah called Modus Technology. Their rates aren’t as good as some other companies, but they are local and on a project like this I would much rather work with a local company. If you don’t mind sending your material away, Microfacs, a company referred to me by Andrew Filer, has much lower rates. Andrew is an acquaintance through Seattle Wireless who did a similar project some years back with his home town’s paper, the Holt Weekly News.

I’ve received the first batch of images back from Modus and have been reading through the paper on my 24″ Samsung monitor and my projector. While this has been an expensive project for me, reading on a screen in an easy chair makes for a much more enjoyable experience than trying to read hunched over a dilapidated Microfilm reader at a library. I hope to eventually make the archives of the first ~20 years of both Hasting’s and Glencoe’s papers available online in a similar form to Andrew’s project. OCR quality may be lower than I hoped, as during the original photographing of the paper for conversion to microfilm a lot of text bleed through from the reverse side of each page occurred. This may have been unavoidable due to the thin cotton rag paper on which the newspaper was printed, but it makes for difficult reading. This sort of doubled image is bound to confuse OCR software. I may be able to mess with the image levels to increase the contrast of the images somewhat before processing to minimize the bleed through effect, but my hopes are not high. People wishing to search the archives for mention of a name or an event are likely going to have to do it the old fashion way.

Hastings Independent

While it would be nice to be able to accurately keyword search through the results for subjects of interest, I’ve found that being forced to browse page by page has been very beneficial to me. It has really helped to paint a picture of this pioneering community and its concerns and get a greater appreciation for the challenges of the times. I’ve found it especially interesting to track the run up to the civil war. Reading a primary source like this gives you a far richer view of the times than any history book.

Posted in General | 1 Comment »

Low End Theory – Dual Core Atom 330

Posted by Deliverator on 8th October 2008

I was recently chatting on the phone with my brother about Netbooks while browsing local computer retailer Computerstop. My brother has been operating largely without a laptop for a while now as his ancient HP notebook (which he has owned since beginning college) has become progressively more senile. We discussed a number of different Netbook offerings, but he was disappointed at the performance of the single core Atom processor at the heart of virtually all of the current crop of Netbooks. In particular, he was concerned with an oft reported lack of processor oomph when it comes to decoding high resolution video. We discussed how the new dual core atom would likely burn through such tasks with ease, but were unlikely to be on the market, at least in Netbook form, for quite some time. No sooner had I said this than I spotted a mini-itx motherboard, given the lovely name D945GCLF2 by Intel’s squad of marketing geniuses, with a dual core Atom cpu sitting on the store shelf. The serendipity of it was too much for me and I walked out of the store with said box under arm, a mere $85 poorer for my impulse buy. My brother ended up deciding not to wait for a new generation of Netbooks and instead plopped down some hard earned for a lightweight but powerful Lenovo Thinkpad.

I took my new motherboard home and prepared to do a little micro surgery to upgrade my old mini-media center to something a bit more up to date. This system, previously based around a Epia SP13000 motherboard in a Travla C138 case, was barely adequate to the video decoding tasks of the day, but really hit a brick wall when trying to decode modern HD video streams and the like. It has been relegated to status as a secondary Ubuntu workstation for quite some time. I was hoping that with a new motherboard, I could return it to use in its original intended purpose. Unfortunately, I ran into quite a few snags along the way.

The first snag I encountered was that this board requires a auxiliary 4 pin 12 volt connection from the power supply, in addition to the standard 20 or 24 pin ATX connection. While this secondary connector has been common on power hungry full size desktop motherboards for quite some time, it is pretty rare in the low power mini-itx motherboard market segment. While the power supply in my Travla C138 case has receptacle for such a cable, it doesn’t appear to actually come with one. This is the sort of cable which I hate trying to find locally, and I usually just switch to eBay if a call to Vetco fails to turn up an oddball cable such as this one. I did end up finding a Molex to 4 pin cable in one of my scrap bins, but was unable to get the motherboard to post under such an arrangement. I tried a full size desktop power supply with the cable and was able to get the new board to post just fine, so at least I knew it wasn’t the cable’s fault. I tested out the Epia board again with the Travla’s power supply and it posted just fine. Just for kicks, I plugged the Travla supply into my power supply tester and all voltages came up nominal. I tried the Intel board in a couple other mini-itx cases with similar, cuss inducing results.

I hit up various mini-itx/compact computing forums online for answers, but didn’t have much luck, as this particular motherboard had JUST been released and not many people had experience with them yet. Eventually, I found a post that remarked on an interesting peculiarity with these new boards. Unlike the Epia motherboard, which tend to draw most of their power from the 12v rail, these new Intel boards, while similar or even lower than the Epia motherboards in overall useage, end up drawing somewhere around 5 AMPS on the 5v rail. Most of the compact mini-itx cases and power supplies on the market have been geared towards the power needs of the Epia motherboards and quite simply can’t supply enough juice on the 5v rail to let these boards operate properly. I headed back to Computerstop and purchased a small, if somewhat inelegant (when compared to the Travla C138) case manufactured by Inwin. This case, despite being one of the smallest Computerstop carries, is easily twice the size of the C138, but has the virtue of having a far beefier power supply. I took the new case home, installed the motherboard and other bits and had no problems getting through the smoke test with this supply.

In short order I had Windows XP and Ubuntu running quite snappily on the new board. While Intel and scared notebook manufacturers are doing their best to convince people that they need to spend a LOT more money on faster processors, I found the dual core Atom to be quite responsive in all the use cases under which I tested it. While it and the accompanying integrated graphics on this motherboard might not be up to playing a game of Supreme Commander or a marathon culling session of 12 megapixel photos in Lightroom, for the types of desktop computing tasks that 99% of the computer using public do on a daily basis, this platform is more than adequate and is very attractive in terms of its low price, small size, low power usage, etc.

Some random thoughts about this board:

-The dual core Atom CPU at the hear of this board only consumes something like 8 watts and is passively cooled, the motherboard chipset uses more like ~20 watts and has a bigger heatsink and a small and somewhat noisy fan.

-The board has two SATA ports and one legacy EIDE port. There is no eSATA. This may be limiting to some users.

-The board has two pin headers for adding additional USB ports. There are no Firewire ports or pin headers.

-The onboard video solution is decent and has a long track record. It won’t blow away any gaming benchmarks, but you won’t have any trouble with Google Earth or a 3d accelerated Linux desktop. It would have been nice to have DVI or HDMI out as an option on this board.

-Onboard sound solution is kinda meh.

Posted in General | No Comments »

Return to Chaos Manor

Posted by Deliverator on 7th October 2008

It has been a pretty hectic week here. I just got back from a weekend in Portland. My brother flew to Portland from Cleveland for a visit with my folks and I, and to run the Portland Marathon. My brother has done a half length Ironman and a number of triathlons, but this was his first Marathon. Running long distances has been a little iffy for my brother after a knee injury a couple years back while on a bike trip with Ryan. He appears to have recovered from that injury completely, as he had no complaints about that particular joint after the race.

Scott finished the race with an official time (as recorded by an RFID tag) of four hours, 20 minutes and 55 seconds. He started out the race at a much faster pace, with time of under an hour fifty at the halfway mark, but slowed down in the second half of the race, which has some really brutal hills. It also rained pretty heavily and continuously during the second half of the race. I was pretty miserable just walking around in the rain, much less running in it. I managed to find an overlook of the finish line and got some pictures of Scott crossing the finish. A kind spectator held an umbrella over me for much of the time while I waited for Scott to make his appearance. Despite my best efforts, my camera gear and myself got rather soaked. I am very pleased at the considerable weatherproofing of the Nikon D80. Despite being utterly covered in water, it functioned perfectly at the required moment and seems none the worse for wear after a careful cleaning and inspection afterwards. I’ve had several other gadgets succumb to moisture over the years after being placed in much less demanding situations. Anyways, here is a picture of Scott crossing the finish line. A bunch more can be found at his gallery.

Scott Finishing Portland Marathon

I was able to work fairly effectively from Portland, thanks to my remote access client and judicious deployment of Remote Desktop and SSH, my Sprint EVDO card + Cradlepoint Cellular to WiFi router and my ever trustworthy Thinkpad. Seattle had a bit of a windstorm while I was gone and suffered some power failures. I had to walk some clients through controlled power downs of their equipment prior to failure of their UPS battery backup devices and then walk them through system startup procedures after power had been reliably restored. Despite my best efforts, I had a few messes waiting for me on my return.

Return to normalcy was further complicated by the arrival of a work crew this morning who are replacing the major of the 30+ year old windows at Marsh Manor with spiffy high insulating models. These new windows are quite spiffy. You can actually SEE through them. Installation of all these new windows has necessitated moving quite a bit of furniture, and in the case of my room/office, unhooking a great many cables. My room’s windows have been installed, but it is going to take 3-4 hours of effort to get everything back to some semblance of order. I expect to be hearing power tools for some time to come, which doesn’t make for a very conducive office environment in which to talk to clients. The noise canceling features of my Jawbone II Bluetooth headset have definitely come in handy. I would have put off some of my work today until tomorrow, but unfortunately that hasn’t been possible, as joy-of-life-eternal I start jury duty tomorrow. The last time I was called to serve, I served as foreman in a personal injury lawsuit which lasted two weeks. It was an interesting experience and one which I feel no particular desire to repeat. JOY JOY JOY

Posted in General | No Comments »

WordPress 2.6.2 Upgrade and Fireftp

Posted by Deliverator on 7th October 2008

I upgraded WordPress to the latest version, as the administrative dashboard has been nagging me for several weeks now to do so. I was going to use smartftp to do so, but found that even my downgraded version would no longer work. In my search for a decent free ftp client with which to replace smartftp, I came across fireftp, an ftp client implemented as a Firefox plugin. I gave it a whirl on some common ftp tasks and have not been disappointed thus far. I really like its straightforward, minimalist UI.


The price is certainly right, too. I really like software that doesn’t try to post-facto extort money out of me, by withholding all the data I’ve entered into it (unlike smartftp), so I might even donate to Fireftp’s most worthy cause of choice.

Anyways, if you notice any wonky behavior from the blog in the near future, blame it on free software and please contact me.

Posted in General | No Comments »