Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Friday Coffee Musing - v1.3

People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.
- Soren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813-1855)
Good morning folks. Another Friday has come and therefore I am here writing to you all my Friday Coffee Musing.


It's been a very trying week for my family this week. We've all been sick, Christmas is quickly approaching, weather is gloomy and then there's work and day-to-day chores. I'm on the mend! I've been feeling under the weather since Saturday last week and just yesterday I started feeling like a human again. My son and daughter are both ill as well. A quick trip to the doctor told us it's a common infection that typically starts off with a few days of flu-like symptoms then moves into a week of cold symptoms. Yay for us!


My wife somehow avoided the blunt of this. She was ill for maybe a day or two but it didn't let her get her down. I often marvel at the will of a Mother. It's in these times I realize how weak I truly am. I only hope some day I can become at least half the parent she is. She's quite amazing.

Other than being ill, a lot has happened since I last sat here and wrote. I'm playing DAoC on a very part-time basis. I had the pleasure of joining my fabulous guild mates on a romp in Mordred where we threw caution into the wind and did things no other level 20 would dare :). I've been blown up by a co-worker playing Battlefield 1942 (shakes fist at Vip) while playing on our work co-op server, and my son had his first Christmas pageant at his school which was quite fun to watch. Overall, minus the sickness, it was quite the productive week and a lot has gone on.


Have you heard about this new 'flu' that's been going around? I heard on the radio this morning about two kids in Vancouver who died from this 'flu'. Despite what the doctor said, I still worry about my kids. These things can come from almost anywhere and if it's taking lives (especially young ones), as a parent, I can't help but be worried. Then again, how much of it is media hype? Since most of us are led to believe what the media has to say, it makes you wonder what kind of stories they're feeding us. Just the same way a parent can tell their children a story about three little bears who live in a house and eat pourage; how easily are we led to believe things that may (or may not) be true?

It's kind of interesting to sit back while you're at work and think of all the ways we gather information. Today, most of us use the internet and browse different news sites to find out what's going on. Others get their fix while driving to work in the morning. Then there are some who watch the evening and nightly news on television. Myself, I tend to get my fix during the morning while driving to work. Since it takes me almost 30 minutes to get here in the morning, I have a bit of time to kill. I'll sometimes browse CNN while at work and on the very odd occasion, I'll watch the local news at night (if there is something interesting in the headlines).


Speaking of driving to work, I had a nice relaxing drive in this morning. It would seem that most of the city decided to take today off in preparation for the holiday season. I typically leave my house around 6:15 ' 6:30am and stop off at a nearby coffee shop and drive downtown. I drive a 2001 Toyota Camry. It only has four cylinders, but she has some nice pep to her :) I get great gas mileage, so I can't complain there. Typically $30(can) will fill the beast and I can go to work and back for two weeks (approx 80km/49Mi round trip).

This morning the freeway was very quiet. I was able to quickly get from the north part of the city to the downtown in about 15min. Parking was a non-issue, and I was at work a whole 10min early. I have lots of coffee left, so my day is starting off just great.


Return of the King came out this week. I haven't had an opportunity to go see it but I will before too long. My sister had purchased advanced tickets to go see it on Wednesday and had the nerve to ask to borrow my car so she could go. That was all fine except she had purchased TWO tickets and was taking my other sister. I don't even think the two of them together give a rat's ass about Tolkien and his story; they just wanted to go see Orlando Bloom and Viggo Mortensen (ooooo). My wife had to break my older sister's heart and tell her that her 'Aragorn' heart throb was hung like a squirrel. She was devastated lol.



Coffee is almost done; therefore I must begin to close. As I mentioned in a post the other day, I'm thinking of setting up a site dedicated to the coffee musings I write. I don't plan on being famous or anything, I just want to bore you all with my senseless ramblings and life stories :). I had planned on posting the responses from last week's question about 'uses for Velcro', but I didn't get any via e-mail. So, being the nice guy I am, I'll extend the deadline another week. So if you forgot shame on you! Remember, I'm looking for just a quick little blurb on a new and exciting way you could use Velcro around the house. Draft it up in an email and forward it to me at fiendz@telus.net with subject line: Velcro for Ralic cuz he's hot! I will include any and all responses (completely anonymous of course) in the next Friday Coffee Musing.

Take care you wonderful people. Have a safe and happy holiday season. If you've ever wondered what Christmas would be like in Poland, you can find out here http://www.polishworld.com/christmas/ :)

Take care

Friday, December 12, 2003

Friday Coffee Musing - v1.2

I know, I know! I'm late today :) I have the day off so I decided to sleep in a little bit (if you call sleeping until 8am sleeping in).


OMG! What did I put in this???





Much better :)

This morning I decided to test out my coffee making skills in my little home coffee maker. I must admit, it's quite awful. I'm not sure what's wrong with it. I even read the instructions for the right coffee/water proportions. Alas, I guess coffee is meant to be made by someone else :)


This week has been most uneventful. On the weekend my bro-in-law, my niece, my son and I went out and fired off a couple rockets. It was blistering cold and the snow was up over my knees in places. We made sure to head FAR away from the airport this time :) So here we were standing in the middle of this field; the kids were so bundled up they could have stayed out there and played for hours. Rick and I, of course, were barely wearing winter coats :) No snow pants or proper boots.
It was 'silly'.



Well, the wife just woke up. Now I'm distracted and can't think of anything to write :) I hate it when she does this.


This past week of work was interesting. I had last Monday off and then today. I also have this upcoming Monday off. I think there is approx 8 more working days from now till January 5th left for me. I'm getting kind of excited. This Linux project I've been working on is coming to a close, Christmas is coming, etc etc etc.


Speaking of Christmas; if you don't have small children (or have had small children), you can't even begin to understand how fun it is for me. My son is always asking me if tomorrow is Christmas :) The tv shows on remind me so much of my childhood. I remember how much I used to look forward to Christmas. My parents did a great job at making is as special as they could for their kids. I plan on doing just the same.


My son has his pre-school Christmas Concert today. We get to go to his school and watch all the little boys and girls forget their places, forget their lines, and just plain laugh and have fun. Should be a good time.


Out of coffee (small cup).



You know what's cool? Velcro! What a great invention. It has so many uses around the house or office. The actual idea of Velcro came from a plant called Xanthium strumarium or Cocklebur plants :) I'm sure you've seen them before. Those little spiky balls of fun that attach themselves to your clothes and don't come off very easily? :) There is also another species of the same plant which is less common called Xanthium spinosum. This plant has the same spiky properties, but they spikes are on the leaves.


Now, these 'burs' develop a couple seeds each which remain viable for many years. Since they pretty much stick to anything, these burs would stick to animal fur and get transported all over the place.


Anyway, back to the Velcro. It was invented in 1948 by a Swiss mountaineer named George de Mestral. It was the burs he encountered during his travels that prompted him to investigate to see what gave these burs the unique sticky ability. He decided to invent a fastener that would rival the zipper and he called it Velcro; which is short for Velor and Crochet.


I write about all this to do a small fun activity with you all :) I would like you to think of some applications where Velcro could be used around the home or office. Be creative, capture it in an email, and send it my way (fiendz@telus.net). I'll read through them and post them in the next Friday Coffee musing.


If you want to read any of the previous musings, I've redone my website to be more of a weblog site. You can get to it at http://www.fiendz.net, or http://www.albion-mlf.com/fiendz. The background on my site is actually the background of my desktop which you can view at http://www.fiendz.net/desktop.png or http://www.albion-mlf.com/fiendz/desktop.png.


Anyway folks, have a great and safe weekend. Take care and we'll see you again next week. Don't forget to send me your thoughts on how Velcro could be applied at home and at the office :)


Friday, December 5, 2003

Friday Coffee Musing - v1.1

Good morning folks!

Well, another week is almost finished and as a result, I'm here typing up my Friday Musing. My main theme this week was Family, Friends and 'Linux is Good'.


Let me start off by saying there is nothing more important than having a family. When I was a young teen, I remember how anxious I was to get out and do my own thing. Now that I'm older (and wiser?) and have my own children, I realize what my parents were doing and am grateful for all the ever did. Family is important and I'll leave it at that for now.


Here in Canada, we have a chain of coffee shops called Tim Horton's. I'm not sure if there are any in the States, but if not, you guys are missin' out

Today on my way into work I decided to pick up my regular extra large coffee Double Double (or 2 cream & 2 sugar). I was lucky enough to have a smooth ride into work and didn't spill any of the precious liquid caffeine. So here I sit, drinking my Tim's and enjoying the smooth coffee taste first thing in the morning. It's a great feeling!


Mmm.. that's good


Ok. Last Saturday I received a phone call from my friend Rick (aka Nodrol) who wanted me to round up my son and head over to his place. Since he only lives about half a block away, I decided to bundle up my son and we walked over. To my surprise, Rick had purchased a small model rocket and was planning to launch it. We live fairly close to the International Airport here in Calgary, so I was curious to see WHERE we were going to fire this bad boy off.


We all piled into his car and started our adventure. We found a really nice flat plateau (finding a flat place in the Prairie Provinces isn't hard) and proceeded to set up the miniature launch pad. We were fairly close to the Airport, but we felt we were far enough away that we would pose no threat. Had he waited the proper amount of time for the glue to dry, we probably wouldn't have.


We get everything all setup. The wind was blowing East (toward the airport) but it was only a slight cool breeze. The ignition light came on and WOOSH! I must say, I was quite impressed at how high this sucker went. The outside of the box said 1,100ft and I would guess it did at least that. Everything was going fine until we noticed the parachute had deployed, but the shock cord had come loose from the main body of the rocket. To make a long story short, we found the body of the rocket about 15ft from the perimeter fence of the Airport. Since the cone of the rocket had been attached to the parachute, we figure it landed somewhere around the airport terminals (oops). We climbed into his car and took off.


Other than the rocket, my weekend was fairly uneventful and boring.


This week at work has been quite hectic. This Linux project I'm working on originally had an end date for some time (around the end of Q1 2004). We just got the final word this week that we needed to have it done by the end of December. For those who know and understand Linux, you know full well that you can't rush it

I've been working my tail off all week to try and get ahead. I've booked my remaining holidays for the year, so after today I only have 11 working days left until January 5, 2004.

Anyway, we had a very interesting problem with one of the workstations here. I've created an automated way of building workstations with Linux. If you're familiar with Jumpstart in the Solaris realm, you'll know what I'm talking about. In Red Hat, they call it Kick Start. The machine is an HP xw8000. This bad boy has dual 3GHz Xeon processors in it, and 4Gig of Ram. It has dual 73Gig disks with a hardware RAID controller. Sweet box, kind of.

They have an onboard nic which is labeled EtherExpress Pro. Normally, the EtherExpress Pro is a 10/100 card but unfortunately, this one is 10/100/1000. I didn't realize this until yesterday afternoon. The driver I have been using for this nic was for the 10/100 version of the EtherExpress. SO, for those of you who have had experience building boot disks with drivers for Linux, you kind of know where this is going. The kernel version we are using on our workstations here is 2.4.18-27. The boot diskette we are using to Kick Start the boxes is 2.4.18-3BOOT. In order to compile this driver for Linux, we need a machine with the 2.4.18-3BOOT kernel The only way to do this was to download the 2.4.18-3 kernel and install it on a temp workstation. Then we had to make a few kernel.h tweaks to append the BOOT after the kernel version. Once this was done, we were able to boot the machine and compile the driver so it would have the 2.4.18-3BOOT kernel headers attached.


Then we had to modify the boot disk image and put this new driver into it so Red Hat would see it when we started the Kick Start. Overall it was a great experience. I haven't 'hacked' away at Linux like that in a long time.


Anyway, coffee is gone so I'm going to cut this off here. Remember, Family, Friends, and Linux! Don't mix them together or you're asking for problems.  Also, don't try to put them into your coffee, they just don't work

Take care everyone, see you next week!

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Friday Coffee Musing - v1.0

A friend of mine who now lives in Vancouver used to do a morning coffee musing every work day. I used to enjoy getting them every morning and sitting back to read. I'd like to do a Friday Coffee Musing here if that's ok with everyone. Basically, I'll sit back, drink coffee and fill you all in on my week.

On that note; on with the musing.


I'm very tired this morning. Last night I went to our annual GE UNIX Christmas Party and drank copious amounts of liquor. I'm feeling a little hung over today, which is why I'm not thinking straight and decided to do this.


DOH! Out of coffee; be right back.

Ok back


There's something about office cube farm coffee that wakes you up. Not only does it wake you up, but it gives you gut rot by the end of the day. There used to be a guy who worked here named Witold (he was Polish) who used to mix V8 into his coffee every morning. You could tell when a pot of coffee had been 'Witolded' when you saw an upside-down can of V8 over the coffee perk. Just thinking about it makes me ill.


While I was pouring the sugar into the cup I couldn't help but notice the fine print which read: Prepared for Sysco Corporation Toronto, Canada. The first question that popped into my head was: Why are we using sugar that was prepared for a company in Toronto? I live approx. 4,000km (2,484 miles) away from Toronto, so why am I getting sugar that was destined for Toronto? Boggles the mind sometimes when you're hung over and tired. Oh, if you're interested in sugar packets, this site may interest you some: http://www.uksucrologistclub.org.uk


Anyway, back to the GE UNIX Christmas Party. Pretty much everyone in the entire UNIX team was there. We had all our on-site gang from Petro-Canada there, all the guys from EnCana (where I'm at), and all the field support staff. I did, however, notice 2 people who did not show; our managers! Of all the people to be no-shows to a UNIX Christmas party! After the 2nd drink I was over it. The evening started off fairly bland. Same faces, same stories and nothing really new. Rick (Nodrol), Travis (Frax), Stacy (Strehlan) and Colin (Orlach) where there. We sat back and told a few jokes to get the party started. If you've never talked with Travis or seen his excitement in real life, you can't understand. He's 26 years old, and he looks like he's 16. He gets asked for ID everywhere we go. He can be quite hyper, especially after a few drinks.


As more people started showing up, the party started to pick up. We had a one man band that kind of stood in the corner and played tunes on his guitar. The party was in an Italian restaurant which we had rented for the evening. The waiters were top notch! Every time my drink was getting down to the bottom, they were there with a new one ready to swap out. It was a 5-course meal with a really nice chicken main. Overall it was a good night.


Now one must ask themselves if everyone on the UNIX team was at the party, who was making sure the servers were still running? Well, Kip can vouch for me here. Unlike Windows servers, UNIX servers tend to be more stable and require very little administration.


That's about all I'm going to share today. The rest of my week would bore you all out of your seats. I'd like to actually make this somewhat interesting to read. I'm out of coffee, so I'll say farewell for now.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Are We There Yet?

The human brain is a wonderful thing. It starts working the moment you are born, and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.
- Sir George Jessel
I was watching the Simpsons the other night. Man, that's a funny show .. heh... In this particular episode, the Simpson Family was taking a trip. In the car, Bart and Lisa were repeating over and over "Are We There Yet?", and homer would reply with "No!". This goes on for about 2minutes, as the background from different locations pass by. It's quite funny, especially when you can relate to what's going on.

I don't recall ever doing this as a child, but I'm sure my parents can :)

The Simpsons is a great show, and we can all relate to them in one way or another. I remember when they first came out on T.V. My mother threatened me from the very start... "If you tell me to eat my shorts, you won't be allowed to ever watch that show again!!" :) Ahh the memories.

Well, being the cocky "Bart like" kid I was, I fell into the temptation, and told my mom not to have a cow... she did... heh. It's funny how much T.V. affects our daily lives. People see something on T.V. and want to try/say it. Whether it be a catchy phrase like "Go ahead, make my day!".. or something cool like Neo dodging bullets in super slow motion.

So I hear Matrix 2 came out in theaters. I haven't been keep up on the whole movie hype these days. I've heard mix responses to the movie. Mostly from the Ungeek. Ooo.. did I invent a new word there? Let me check........


After searching for 15 seconds, I've yet to come up with any real definition for Ungeek. Perhaps, I should allow the studio audience to come up with what they think it means. Send me an email at alan@fiendz.net with the subject line "Ungeek", and tell me what you think it should mean. I'll post the results on Friday.

Anyway, must get to work... even though I've been here for 2 hours now.. /sigh.. just can't get motivated today.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Rant & Coffee

Nobody tosses a Dwarf!
- Gimli
Ranting.. ever wonder why people bother? For me, it's a way to "release" some built up frustration and vexation.

Life can be hard. I think the quote "Life is what you make of it" pretty much sums it up accurately. Given that, the hard.times we face could be directly related to the way WE run it. Lately, I have been going through such hard.times. There are some issues in my own life that I need to "work out" internally. I think my first goal, will be to quit filling my lungs with toxic smoke. Not only is this an unhealthy decision I've made, but these days, it's a very costly one. Since you can rarely find a pack of smokes for less than $10, the financial strain can be quite a burden.

But enough about that :)

I spent the last couple days going through the old coffee musings that my friend Drew made back in 1999. Those musings are funny, and I encourage those who haven't had a chance yet, to visit the site. My superhero name is Mini Wheat :) Yesterday, I was chatting with Ivan here at work, and mentioned how much I wish Drew would start them up again. I'm sure he's quite busy with work and life at the moment. Who knows, maybe I'll start something like that up. God knows I have some great examples on how to write them :)

Anyway folks, work beckons. Today is the Friday before the long weekend, and I have no real plans. It's supposed to rain all weekend :)


Thursday, May 15, 2003


I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.
- Douglas Adams

I'm sitting here at work, sipping away at my morning Tim's. I was reminded of a time when I used to come to work every day, expecting an email from my friend Drew. So after a quick query on Google, I found the site where he has archived all these emails.

He called them Musings Over Coffee, and they were exactly that. He would have a coffee in the morning and write what was on his mind. I used to enjoy reading them, and going through his archives, I was taken back to what seemed like "simpler" times.

Thanks Drew