Went to a Barry Manilow concert at the Rose garden with Laurie for our anniversary. While I wasn’t super impressed with his singing. He’s certainly got the showmanship thing down. He’s been doing a thing where he’s singing hit songs of the 40’s, 50’s and so on. It made the concert seem like a bit of a time capsule – but in a good way.

At the intermission they handed out green glowsticks to everyone. This was a particularly clever thing to do. The Rose Garden is laid out as a sports arena, so for musical concerts, the majority of the people are sitting where they can see a lot of the rest of the crowd. So about 15 minutes into the 20 minute intermission, most people had cracked their glowsticks and realized that if everyone waved them in time to the music it looked really, really cool – and funny at the same time. There was a ripple of giggles and laughter throughout the auditorium as people figured this out.

With the lights out and people waving them in time to the music (but not all in the same direction) it looked like phospherent plankton gently waving in the water. At the end of a song, everyone would clap and the little green dots would wiggle violently in one place. I found this highly amusing.


Fri Feb 25 11:07:45 PST 2005

I finally got my Tempo Time Tags from unica. Yea!

They came in a "retail" package that was very nice looking. It would look at home on the shelves of Ikea or Target without any problems (I’d love to see a retailer pick these up).

The tags are quite small, and the display looks a little smaller than in the stock photos, but it is still readable for any clothing you might clip it to. The LCD is the same quality as a generic wristwatch and has a reasonable viewing angle.

The tag is made up of a metal clip and the watch parts are housed in a grey plastic bubble inside the metal clip. The front is a clear piece of plastic. The bumps on the front to the left and right of the display are actuall not bumps, but the extensions of the clear plastic into the body of the watch that holds the tag together via 2 screws, accessable from the back of the tag. The overall feel of the tag is that is is well constructed and solid even though it is small and light.

The metal clip is very stiff and only has a small gap. It fits snugly on a credit card and clips strongly to even light fabrics. Don’t plan on being able to clip this to any clothing. Even two folds of a thick fabric may be too much.

Overall this is a fun little product. While it certainly isn’t right for a lot of situations, there are a number of places where this is a perfect solution to a problem. For example, I have mine clipped to my work badge that I wear on a lanyard around my neck. Another place might be clipping it to the metal bit of a clipboard (I’ve seen people trying to tape watches to clipboards with very limited success). If nothing else, it’s a fun little device to have around to fill in for situations where a traditional watch just isn’t convenient or stylistically acceptable.


Mon Nov 8 17:30:34 PST 2004

About a month ago my Hauppage tv capture card (bt878 based) mysteriously bit the dust. It locked up the whole OS when accessed on a linux machine, and froze any windows app that tried to access it when I moved to to my windows box in a debugging attempt.

Fortunately, at the time surpluscomputers had Aitech Wavewatcher cards on sale for $10 a pop. While Aitech had impolite things to say about them, they are actually halfway decent bt878 cards. So I got a pair for $30 (S&H was a chunk as you might guess) and stuffed one in the linux/mythtv box. After kudzu went through and removed one bt878 card and then added the new bt878 card everything worked flawlessly again. I even think the picture quality is a little better, but the audio is louder and doesn’t sound quite as good. Fortunately, I’m not terribly picky about quality right now. If I really cared, I would go get some of those nice Hauppage cards with the mpeg encoders built in :-)


Tue Nov 2 13:18:29 PST 2004

I’m in the process of getting ready for my sabbatical, and as part of that, I moved my email address to point to instead of my work account. What I didn’t realize was how much spam and junk the company was autofiltering and never made it anywhere near my inbox. So, a quick google search later, I found this page and got spamassassin working. Turned out to be incredibly simple and effective.

I also set up a small mailing list for our Monday night D&D sessions by adding an entry to the /etc/aliases file and running newaliases. Also turned out to be incredibly easy.


Fri Aug 20 12:27:06 PDT 2004

So on Tuesday evening my car died. Wouldn’t start on it’s own. Laurie and I were able to jump it, but as soon as we removed the jumper cables, the car died again, which strongly indicated that the alternator was pretty much toast. On Wednesday evening Michael and I went over and fiddled with it, checking connections and stuff like that and in the end pulled the battery and plugged it into a wall-charger to try and get the car mobile again. This was a mostly good plan, the only downside is that the battery was a bit too old and really wasn’t going to hold too much of a charge. The theory was that it would hold enough to get me down the road to Les Schwab where the could test and possibly replace the alternator.

Thursday morning the battery was charged and after installing it, we headed straight for Les Schwab’s and were told that they don’t do alternators, but Northwest Auto did, and they were just down the road on CPass Road across from Winco. Well, I misunderstood them slightly and didn’t go far enough down the road to find them before turning into the industrial parks and within 5 minutes, the battery and therefore the rest of the car died. We then went in Laurie’s car and found Northwest Auto just a scant 500 ft from where we were looking. They referred us a towing company and thanks to AAA, it didn’t cost us anything to have the car towed the 1/4 mile to the shop.

From there on it was pretty smooth sailing they were able to replace the alternator, the battery, which was overdue to be replaced anyway, the serpentine belt, which also needed to be replaced and do an oil change for just under $560, which isn’t bad considering the alternator was $150-200 retail and a battery is around $70 and that serpentine belt replacement required removing one of the engine mounts (I hate designs like that). And they got it all done in one day without any hassles. The place is:

Northwest Auto Care Center 1800 NE Cornelius Pass Road Hillsboro, OR 97124 503 645 0185

I worked with Steve Batchelor and he did a good job helping get everything taken care of and they also identified a couple of other issues with the car like the coolent needing to be flushed and the rather obvious issues with the brakes, but wasn’t pushy about them.

Now I’ve got to try and decide if I want to actually do the rest of the needed maintenance on ht car or if I want to try and sell it off and get something smaller and less prone to require large sums of money…


Thu Jul 29 09:06:43 PDT 2004

Well, the work has begun on putting in an in-ground sprinkler system. The project is much more involved than I originally thought. The first part of the process was a bit time consuming, but very worthwhile. Drawing up the layout of the yard to scale and then sending it to the big sprinkler companies to get their take on how to put in a sprinkler system. I sent in plans to Orbit via their little program, which is crude but sufficient and faxed in plans to Toro.

I got back a giant PDF from Orbit for a 14 zone system. This was clearly overkill since a chunk of land 110x60ft really shouldn’t need 14 zones. And almost adding insult to injury, they put the valve boxes in really stupid spots. Toro mailed me a much more rational system with some really nice big color printouts. I’ll be implmenting something similar to Toro’s recommendation but with moving some of the valve boxes around a bit to make it easier. I skipped RainBird, and in retrospect I probably should have faxed them something to see what they came up with. But really I got the important part from Orbit and Toro, which was the placement and sizing of the sprinkler heads.

In parallel with that effort I investigated computer controllers for the sprinkler system. While the valves are just 24v and thus fairly easy to control with a relay or even a properly sized transistor, finding somebody who actually had a inexpensive solution to this was surprisingly difficult. I also wanted to keep things simple so I figured the easiest way to do that was to tie the sprinkler into an X10 system and drive it from my linux box since the linux box is on 24/7 and I’ve driven X10 from cron on the box before. That would enable easy control with lots of options (anything I can manage to code).

The only product that seems to be in active production is the rain8 product from WGL Design. And at a decent price point as well. They have a number of minor variations on it (basically firmware changes AFAIK). Even if I didn’t have a 24/7 box, it would be a nice solution. I purchased the rain8x version which allows multiple valvest to be on at once, a feature that I though would be good for the driplines at the time, but in retrospect, it’s probably overkill, one zone at a time would have been fine.

I also picked up a combination floodlight/motion detector for the backyard with X10 connections which should be faily nice for preventing the sprinklers from coming on while we are actually in the backyard. I suspect it wouldn’t really be much of a problem since I really only plan on watering late at night or early in the morning, but it can’t hurt to have some way of preventing unplesant events. So that set me back about $200 for nifty electronics from smarthomeusa (as opposed to smarthome). The only downside is that they didn’t include a RS232 cable to attach the PC105 to my PC. I have to make that myself, which is a minor annoyance since I’ve got all the parts already.

Michael got back to me with good information on trenchers: —————————————————————————– Hertz Equipment Rental (UPDATE – They shut down Hillsboro store and are now
operating out of Newberg only – oops!) 2130 NE Griffin Oaks St Hillsboro, OR 97124 – 2063 (503) 844-4933 M-Sat 7:30-5:30, closed Sunday

Walk-behind trencher 4" wide cut 0-2′ deep 100-300 feet an hour Its big! 700-900lbs, self-propelled machine+trailer: $131.50 for 24-hour period, 4hr min is $93.50 $10 less w/out trailer

Will instruct on use at pick-up time Breakage policy: "If it breaks, call us immediately someone will be dispatched to the field"

United Rentals Incorporated 4705 SE Witch Hazel Road, Hillsboro (503) 640-1235 M-F 7-5, Sat-Sun 8-4

Also: 14020 SW 72nd Ave, Tigard (503) 620-1235

Walk-behind trencher, 15hp $110 for 4hrs, $150 for the day $15 for a trailer Do not load in the back of van or truck $21 a day for insurance, 10% for damage

Need ODL and credit card, run for 2x rent, then credit difference —————————————————————————–

Earlier in the week I went down to the city of Hillsboro and got a pluming permit for ~$55. The public works building is on 1st and Main and the building department where you get permits and stuff is on the second floor in room 250. I learned that you can install a single backflow device, or you can use the above ground anti-siphon valves, but you have to be able to show that the valves are all 6 inches above the main and above any of the sprinkler heads. After thinking about it for a bit, I decided to put the backflow device on the main so that I can put all the valves below ground and keep them nice and hidden. I think it will also make testing the backflow device much simpler.

The other tricky bit is that I need to get somebody to test out the backflow device before I get the system inspected by the city. Fortunately, I’m getting better at navigating the city and county websites to find this information. I also found out by reading the docs from the city that I need an electrical permit as well. I’ll go in a get that a bit later. The good links for the city are below, permits and backflow information:

In the continuing saga, I went with Laurie, Michael and Dana to Home Depot to try and purchase all the items that I had figured out that I needed. Unfortunately it turned into 2 hours of frustration. It was like trying to write a program that you know exactly what it does but you are trying to write it in some assembly language that you’ve never used so you spend all your time going instruction-by-instruction through the instruction manual trying to find the right instructions to use. On the plus side, we did get most of the sprinklers, the pipe and some other items identified and purchased. They didn’t have a backflow device that was on the city’s list so during lunch today I went to Lowe’s and they did have a nice one and it looks like some of their stuff like the backflow device and the e underground boxes are cheeper at Lowe’s as well as a somewhat better layout for PVC adapter parts so they seem a little easier to find.


Fri Jul 23 09:03:46 PDT 2004

Ran into some issues with and others blocking email from dynamic IP addresses on my Verizon business DSL account. This is a very bad thing, but fortunately, there’s a reasonable workaround. The solution is to relay the mail through a static-ip machine, and verizon provides one: So for a linux sendmail configuration, add the line:


to your /etc/mail/ (assuming your layout is something like a redhat or fedora box) and then, this is the critical part, you need to authenticate to as described by "Benway" in this thread: —————————————————————————— My memory is a bit hazy on this but, try adding the following line to /etc/mail/access: "U:username" "I:username" "P:password" "M:PLAIN"

Changing the server name, username and password to that of your account. Then run make all in /etc/mail. This will tell sendmail to always send this info by default.

You can test the above manually by uuencoding the details with:

[root@host1 root]# echo -en "usernamex00usernamex00password" | uuencode -m /dev/stdout begin-base64 644 /dev/stdout dXNlcm5hbWUAdXNlcm5hbWUAcGFzc3dvcmQ= ====

Then once you’ve telnet’ed onto port 25 of the mailserver and issued a helo do:

AUTH PLAIN dXNlcm5hbWUAdXNlcm5hbWUAcGFzc3dvcmQ= ——————————————————————————

If you are on a redhat/fedora machine you can restart sendmail as follows and it automagically updates the config files

/sbin/service sendmail restart

This appears to have solved the problem for me as I’m not getting mail from and other addresses bounced back to me. So Benway, whoever you are, thank you very much for the helpful information!


Tue Jul 20 22:08:47 PDT 2004

Need to do a bulk email with the latest news…

Things have been a bit busy recently so we thought we would send out a quick email to make sure everybody knows our latest news. Laurie is pregnant! We found out last Monday that it’s a little girl. Her name is Sophia Grace and she is due the day after Thanksgiving, which should make the holiday a lot of fun. And yes, we have ultrasound pictures:

Also, our email address have changed a bit recently, so you might need to update your address books:

Mike -< or
Laurie -<

Sophia doesn’t have an email address yet, but I’m sure it won’t take too long before she’ll be pounding on a keyboard and maybe a little after that we’ll get coherent sentences that are email-worthy.

Please feel free to pass this on to anyone else who might be interested. I know that my email lists probably aren’t up to date.

  • Mike & Laurie Miller


Tue Jul 20 22:08:47 PDT 2004

Need to do a bulk email with the latest news…

Things have been a bit busy recently so we thought we would send out a quick email to make sure everybody knows our latest news. Laurie is pregnant! We found out last Monday that it’s a little girl. Her name is Sophia Grace and she is due the day after Thanksgiving, which should make the holiday a lot of fun. And yes, we have ultrasound pictures:

Also, our email address have changed a bit recently, so you might need to update your address books:

Mike – or
Laurie –

Sophia doesn’t have an email address yet, but I’m sure it won’t take too long before she’ll be pounding on a keyboard and maybe a little after that we’ll get coherent sentences that are email-worthy.

Please feel free to pass this on to anyone else who might be interested. I know that my email lists probably aren’t up to date.

  • Mike & Laurie Miller


Fri Jul 2 16:15:32 PDT 2004

Now that I’m all converted over to ADSL, it’s time to clean up and sell off the old IDSL modem. I’m kinda sad to see it go, but at the same time it served me really well for over 3 years with never a complaint or reset. I’m not so much interested in getting a lot of money out of it as having one less thing lying unused around the house.

Auction is for 1 Efficient Networks, Inc. (Now owned by Siemens it appears) SpeedStream 5871 Broadband Internet Router. Part number 120-5871-001 IDSL to Adtran, AccessLAN, Cisco, NewBridge, Nokia, Pulsecomm, Promatory DSLAMs.

It appears to still supported with drivers and upgrades through Siemens: >a href=""<>/a>. Click on "Siemens Subscriber Networks Knowledge Base", which brings up a new window, and then click on "5000 router" on the left hand side, and there’s more info that your probably want, but a good starting point is the "_5871_Broadband_Internet_Router_main" link.

I just used it as a straight IDSL modem, but it’s got all the software and hardware support to firewalling, NAT and other goodies as well as having 4 ports on the back so you probalby won’t have to buy any additional hardware to use your connection with multiple machines. I’ve got the original install CD and customer release notes that I’ll include along with a power cable (this modem has an internal power supply with a real power switch instead of requiring a ‘wall wart’, which is really nice). I’d strongly recommend downloading the latest software from Siemens if you intend to use the firewall and NAT features to ensure that you are up to date – lot of malicious script kiddies out there who may have found a hole in the firewall implementation over the past 3 years or so.

$8 for S&H anywere in the continental US. I’ll ship outside, but buyer pays full costs. I’ll accept paypal, casher check, personal check, but I hold physical checks for 7 days to ensure that they don’t bounce.

Click on the images for larger copies: &gt;center< &gt;a href="http://3cats/gallery/albums/ebay/img_5400.jpg< &gt;img src="http://3cats/gallery/albums/ebay/img_5400.sized.jpg<