Heavenly Father, I thank Thee for this day...

Got up, drove the kids to school (which happens to be very close to work). The sky was overcast and there was a dusting of snow on the rooftops; nothing that would've even made me think to wonder if school was canceled today. It was. "There's a blizzard coming this afternoon, so they canceled school," the guy there told us.

So I drove the kids all the way back home, and then all the way back to work. (It's about 25 minutes each way, made more annoying by the fact that my work and the kids' school are nearly across the street from each other — so it didn't just feel like back-and-forth, it was.)

Got to work. A big software upgrade that I was working on has been put on hold, but I need to get some new features and bug fixes out soon, so I had to copy off and roll back my changes. Except I slipped and clicked the "check-in" button. Fortunately, it was after I made a list of all the files I would be copying, so I spent all morning going file by file rolling back changes where needed. (Some changes I wanted to keep anyway, since they were themselves bug fixes. As it is, I'm not sure my mistake really set me back much.)

In the process, the promised blizzard rolled in. Our office decided to close at noon and send everyone who could work from home, home. I'm fortunate that I can. But I had to finish my check-out, check-in undo thing, since I wouldn't have access to the network from home. Plus I had a support call that kept me tied up for part of the morning. So I didn't get out until 12:30 — which, all in all wasn't too bad.

Got outside and decided to put chains on my car. This turned out to be the smart move of the day. Although it meant I didn't get started until 1, I didn't slip or slide at all on the entire drive home in my lightweight hybrid. The same could not be said for the rear-wheel drive cars that ended up blocking traffic on the main road — two of which I ended up helping push out of the way. One of them was a rear-wheel drive SUV. I didn't even know those existed. I also saw a rear-wheel drive extended-cab pickup truck slide off to the side of the road at one point.

It took me an hour to go the two blocks from my office's parking lot to the main road (the two cars I helped push happened to be blocking my turn onto that main road, which I'm sure was part of the delay — although how long they were there and/or if they replaced other cars that were stuck there moments before, I couldn't say). It was very slow going down that road. (Interesting side note: normally three lanes, there were four lanes of traffic heading in my direction. Amazing what happens when no one can see the lines.)

I finally got home at 3:30, took about a half hour fighting with my laptop before I gave up connecting it to my wireless network and took it upstairs to plug it in to my office network hub, when my oldest son came up to tell me that his younger brother had thrown up on the couch. Since my wife and the toddler were down for a nap, I went downstairs and started cleaning.

However, except for one kid who's a little sick (no fever), everyone's home and safe. And for that, I thank The Lord for a good day.


Well, that was painless... mostly...

I noticed that Debian had released version 5.0 Lenny. Considering I was still running my server on Debian 3.1 and had completely missed 4.0, I decided that it was probably time to upgrade.

I went to Debian's site, followed the handy link to the release notes (that was in the sentence "If you are upgrading from a previous version"), went to the chapter about upgrading (chapter 4, if you were wondering), and followed the step-by-step instructions.

When I rebooted my system, I did so directly from the machine itself, which was good, because installing the new kernel did not select it as the default in grub. I also noticed that iptables did not load its rule set, and I quickly discovered it was because I had recompiled the previous kernel myself to include a "TARPIT" rule that didn't exist in a stock kernel image. Updating the rules to just go to a "drop" rule seemed to work, except my wireless subnet was having difficulty connecting. Long story short, I didn't need the extra drop rules (basic ones already existed), and once I removed them, all was right with the world.

I was even able to upgrade PHP to version 5 and finally get the graphs working in the vnstat PHP front-end. (They're still limited to the rolling 30 days that vnstat records, so I'll still be using my own graphs for my reports, though.)

All in all, it was a pretty painless process, most of it I was able to do from the comfort of my laptop.

[edit] Um, mostly. It seems that about a third of my packets between the internet and my wireless subnet are just getting dropped. Figures; it couldn't be that smooth.


Right-click for everything?

I don't easily remember names. I can meet someone, have an hour-long conversation with them, and completely forget who they are by the next day. It's very embarrassing. When I was younger, I used to daydream about a contact lens or something that would give you a sort of "on-screen display" so when you came up to someone, it would display that person's name.

At the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference, MIT demoed a wearable "sixth sense" computer that would do just about that. And more. Using a camera and a projector, it basically replicates some of the Microsoft Surface technology, except the "surface" isn't a fixed tabletop; it's the world. It's as if you could right-click on anything you could see and be more or less instantly presented with information about it.

Well, and then some. You can also take pictures simply by framing the picture with your fingers, dial a phone by holding out your hand and pushing the buttons that are projected onto it, check the time by holding out your wrist and reading the clock projected there…

The demo video is at the link above, and it's well worth watching if nothing else then just because it's wicked cool.


Bandwidth for February

Here's February's stats:

22.66GB down, 6.60GB up, 29.26GB total. For being a short month, it comes in barely behind January in total monthly usage. 11.7% of the cap. Since September (6 months), 177.97GB used total, or 71.19% of the allotment for a single month.