Papa’s pumpkin patch on Scholls-Sherwood west of Roy Rodgers road about 1-2 miles. Nice clean, cheep pumpkins and they have cooking-specific pumpkins and small hay bales. Much cheeper than other places nearby.

Also has authentic cow smell :-)

ssh on a blackberry

Got midpssh (http://www.xk72.com/midpssh/index.php) running on my blackberry, but it required setting some magical settings to get it cleared for full internet access. Fortunately, documentation is good and pointed me here: http://www.blackberryforums.com/blackberry-network/2185-blackberry-internet-msn-chat-web-telnet-tcpip-no-bes.html

I’ve got it working to dreamhost.com, but not to the iMac at home. That is probably a problem with port forwarding more than a problem on the blackberry.

flash picture frame transfers

Flow for moving pictures from Gallery2 to a flash picture frame. It relies on:
* Cart and zipcart modules in Gallery 2 being installed (http://gallery.menalto.com/) – I’ve installed this on http://3cats.us/gallery
* The MS resize images powertool being installed (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/xppowertoys.mspx)

# Add albums to cart
# "checkout" the cart as a zip file (slow action for me)
# Unzip to new directory
# Rotate all photos clockwise (ctrl-a, right-click, rotate clockwise)
# Rotate all photos counterclockwise (ctrl-a, right-click, rotate counterclockwise)
# Resize images to 1024×768 – use advanced to not make copies (ctrl-a, right click, resize pictures)
# Copy to flash drive (ctrl-a, ctrl-c, move to flash drive, ctrl-v)

Why rotate all photos twice? Because Gallery sends images taken in portrait images as portrait, but apparently leaves the "this image is a portrait image" tag/setting/whatever that I assume is in the EXIF data set. So the digital photo frame rotates the image again and that doesn’t work out so good. Rotating the images appears to clear this setting.

Why the size larger than the frame? Because the powertool leaves images that don’t match the perscribed aspect ratio larger than we would like. For example if you tell it to do a 3×2 ratio image to a 800×480, it gives you a 800×547, which the frame still has to resize. I like giving the frame a little more to work with, and 1024×768 makes for a small image with a little extra goodies for the frame to display it nicely.


Blueberries. A wonderful little berry – durable enough for easy handling, full of antioxidents and other tasty goodness. Also easy to grow in the Pacific Northwest and one of Sophia’s current favorite foods.

While we have 2 blueberry bushes, they aren’t very old yet, so they only produced a pint or two of berries this year. Fortunately, Laurie’s parents have 4, 14 year old bushes that produce a lot of berries. Fortunately for us, they are happy to share the berries with us. We freeze them and use them through the year. Of course, as our friend Alten Brown points out, the sharp ice crystals created in the normal freezing process rips up cell membranes and leave the fruit "juiced" when defrosted. So he recommends freezing them using dry ice to greatly accelerate the freezing process and thereby reducing the size (and dangerousness) of the crystals.

So, we tried it. After picking and washing about 10 pounds of berries we got just under 10 pounds of dry ice from the Wilsonville Thriftway. Using a small-medium cooler, we crushed the dry ice and mixed it with the majority of the blueberries, filling the cooler completely. It did freeze the blueberries, but there are a few lessons to be learned from the experience to make it go a little better.

# Use a slightly higher ratio of dry ice to blueberries.
# Use a larger cooler to facilitate stirring. In our situation, we needed to better distribute the dry ice to get all the berries equally frozen. Stirring was difficult in the small cooler as the berries quickly got very deep, so we did not stir very much or very deeply.
# Break up the dry ice a little more. After 2 hours there were still some chunks that hadn’t sublimated, and that made bagging a little tricky.
# Make sure to get the dry ice into the corners of the cooler. That was where the majority of the unfrozen berries were.
For results, the berries seem to take less damage by being frozen in this manner. They also seem less likely to be stuck to each other in clumps, and without going through a significant drying process, which can be a little time consuming. Finally, we got to play with dry ice, which is fun anyway.


TED conference presentations – Seth Godin (2003)

Interesting presentation on our current 1st world environment where we so many options and very little time relative to those options. In terms of advertising, the majority of people are tuning out the majority of the advertisements. Which in a world where what he calls "idea diffusion" is key to success (and I think he argues is the metric of success in general) getting people to pay attention is the hardest part. He claims that you need "remarkable" products and advertising – not necessairly the best.
* Remarkable – worth making comment on
* Basically the idea business needs to learn to position and act like the fashion industry does
* Market to those who care about your product (the okatu, or fanatics) and not the the masses – the masses will ignore you. Get the fanatics and they will trickle into the masses. I think we call this the "halo effect" as well.
* Don’t be safe. Being safe will kill your business because people won’t care about your product. Without an emotional connection to your product or company you’ve only got price to compete on.
* He uses the example of a purple cow – nobody over the age of 6 points out a cow by the side of the road, but everyone will point out a purple cow.
I’m not sure that simply being remarkable in the "look at me, I’m different" is sufficient to business success, but in terms advertising and marketing, he’s got a point. I’ve tuned out all advertising for large categories of products: cars, beer, pain releivers, etc. Every time I see one of those, that’s money poorly spent by that company because I’m not really reachable, regardless of how cool, clever, interesting their advertisement is. I’ve chosen to elminate those choice spaces in my life to protect my time as Godin claims that we all are doing because we have so many choices and so little time.

If I do get into product definition, I’ll be sure to check out some of his books as it seems like he’s onto some good ideas.

The Log Song

Laurie, Sophia and I were out on a walk the other day and while waiting for a stoplight, I noticed a chunk of tree sitting on the sidewalk, about a foot and a half in diameter and about as tall. I pointed out this somewhat unusual item to Laurie as a "stump". She referred to it as a "log". Unusually I didn’t take the bait to sing the most wonderful "Log Song" but after a little prompting I sung what little of it I could remember. Fortunately for us, The internet has provided me with what my limited memory could not: the entire Log Song from Ren and Stimpy:
What rolls down stairs alone or in pairs
Rolls over your neighbor’s dog?
What’s great for a snack and fits on your back?
It’s Log, Log, Log!

It’s Log, Log, it’s big, it’s heavy, it’s wood.
It’s Log, Log, it’s better than bad, it’s good!
Everyone wants a log! You’re gonna love it, Log!
Come on and get your log! Everyone needs a Log!
Thanks to: http://www.redbrick.dcu.ie/~fatwa/ren/songs.html (via google of course)


No Child Weekend #1

Went out to Cannon Beach on Thursday evening. Ate dinner at Camp 18, which was quite good. Mike had the stew and cornbread (massive piece of cornbread) and Laurie had the fish and chips which were also quite good.

Stayed at the Ocean Lodge which is a bit expensive. They upgrades us to their little cottage which was very nice.

We finally watched Casino Royal there which was good, but somewhat untraditional for a Bond film as there wasn’t really a ‘supervillan’ and it was clearly being the first in the series from a character development point of view. I really like the new guy as Bond. He comes off as clever, interesting and not as blatently obvious as others.

We hit up Cafe Bella on the north side of town and they were quite good (Oregon Chai served there). The girl at the store looked a lot like Dana. Should have asked her. We had tried the Dragonfish cafe on the southside of the downtown area, but they weren’t really wat we were looking for in terms of chai, or really even tea – not many black options.

Wandered the shops and got a oriental fish windsock for Sophia’s playhouse from Catch The Wind. Had a reasonable lunch at the Lazy Susan Cafe.


Got mail working over on Dreamhost. Turns out the issue was that I needed to set the Mail Exchanger (MX) records on dyndns for the 3cats.us entry to point at the balanced mail servers (as opposed to a web server).

  • mx1.balanced.spacey.mail.dreamhost.com
  • mx2.balanced.spacey.mail.dreamhost.com

Hopefully those won’t change anytime soon as I don’t have an automated way to keep them up to date…

One other little note, the "hosts" file on Windows XP machines is located at c:windowssystem32driversetchosts


In the last week I have been working on two projects that seem unrelated, but are actually quite similar and in my opinion may point out a general defiency in our existing software solutions.

The first project was writing a synchronization script between a self-contained wiki implementation called TiddlyWiki. This was (after some false starts in Visual Basic) fairly easily accomplished in JavaScript within the webpage itself. The code is fairly simple and has limitations appropriate with anything of that minute size.

The second project was to create a tracking spreadsheet from a testplan stored in a database. There already existed a utility to export the testplan from the database as an .xml file. From there, I created a perl script that could read in the .xml file (using the XML::Simple module) traversed around the data and created an Excel spreadsheet (using the Spreadsheet::WriteExcel module).

Both projects were basically reformatting existing data into different formats to enable different programs to access the same data to meet different (or multiple) customer needs. Frequently this is a more efficient than trying to meet all the usage models with a single solution. But it is also not in the realm of "Joe User’s" abilities to go out and hack together 200-400 lines of Javascript or perl. If it were, our computing environment would certainly look differently than it does and I suspect that it would be much easier to get those "glue scripts" working because of more concious API design, and certainly better writing and debug tools.

I suspect that it’s not in the software companie’s best interests to let data created in their application be easily migrated to other, potentially superior apps. They wish to grow the capabilities of their app to continue to get revenue. Hence the behavior that all applications grow until they can read email (or surf the web, or both). They are economically disincentivised from letting data out of their app’s format, a format that is usually optimized for that application.


Installed squirrelmail (http://squirrelmail.org) today. Very, very easy install to hook it up to the dovecot imap server on pooh. This gets me access to my home email from work since port forwarding using ssh quit working a while back for some unknown reason.

Also got bluetooth working on my work laptop. The problem was that the driver package from Leveno is an executeable that extracts, but doesn’t run the installer it extracts. I’d manually found the driver in the extracted directory and pointed the Windows XP "New Hardware Wizard" at it instead of running the full installer. After uninstalling the driver and running the full installer, it started working pretty reasonably.

Found out that the Blackberry 8700 also works as a headset device for other bluetooth clients, so I’m now fairly motivited to get a bluetooth adapter for my home machine to try and use the Blackberry as a speakerphone via bluetooth for skype calls. Cheeper and more general purpose then buying a specific USB speakerphone to use.