1 May 2016

Four months gone. Four. Sigh.

So the good news is that we had a half-busy weekend. Starting Friday evening, I spent an hour or so preparing one corner of the garage for the new chest freezer. Saturday morning, I swapped out the crappy old AC socket for a new one, just in time for said freezer to put in an appearance. The balance of the day was spent touching every item in the garage, making a heap in the middle of the floor. Then we moved the shelving to the back wall, and put all the keeper stuff back on shelves. A stack went to a donation location (out by the curb, with a sign saying “Free Stuff” tacked to the tree above), and some smaller amount went into the trash. Garage is as clean as the day we moved in, and the setup is better, now. That’s good.

Today was lazy. Just shopping, coffee roasting, and relaxing. No point in trying to catch up on the lawns or the garden – it was raining all day. Oh, and Marcia baked some fresh whole wheat bread. Sadly, that’s gone already, between lunch and dinner. Grin.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week, for which we are grateful. Ciao!

24 April 2016

Another day, another birthday. And this one accompanied by a wonderful cake made by Marcia, with a decoration assist by Linda Rose:

Occupationally appropriate birthday cake

 Job-appropriate birthday cake

*      *      *

I, of course, witnessed little of this activity, because I spent the weekend absorbing InfoSec goodness at BsidesCharm 2016. An excellent two day conference with interesting keynotes and talks. Because of the setup of Bsides, the sponsors don’t get the attendee lists, there are no scannable badges, and sponsors don’t automatically get speaker slots. Truth be told, in our area, the sponsors weren’t there to sell (mostly), they were there to recruit. As one of our keynotes mentioned, in the DC area, InfoSec is at negative three percent unemployment. There are Bsides events across the country – look for one near you at the SecurityBsides.com site. Highly recommended.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. That’s a good thing. Ciao!

21 April 2016

RIP, Prince. Helluva musician and entertainer.

*      *      *

I’m taking a couple of days off “work”, so that I can get some work done around the house. This kind is much more tiring. Today:

80# manure in each bed

80# manure in each bed

Manure turned in by hand

Manure turned in by hand

Full rototilling

Full rototilling

Install ~70 veggies

Install ~70 veggies

This year’s mix – 28 tomato plants: Rutgers, Better Boy, Sweet 100’s + two other varieties. 16 pepper plants: sweet bell, cayenne, habanero, jalapeño. Cucumbers. Zucchini. Butternut squash. Cantelope. Broccoli.

Hmmm. I may be missing jalapeño, I’ll have to check. I *do* have four varieties of pepper…

So, that was a pretty full day, and my back kind of hates me right now. But that garden will make me happy (and salsa) all summer! Ciao!

17 April 2016

This was a good week. Not a great week – that would have required all seven days to have been above 32° F for the full 24 hours each. That only happened four times. That said, work was good and productive, including the weekend work that ate half of yesterday, as well as patching last night and this morning.

The rest of the weekend was given to yard work of assorted types. I mostly did lawn care, but we did get a couple of new rose bushes for the front porch pots, a couple of herbs for the herb box in back, and I’ve stocked up on mulch (for yard bed dressing) and manure (for garden bed amendments). I’ll probably take a couple of days off this week to get the beds turned over and that manure turned in, so that it can rest for a week before I start planting veggies in the last week of April.

Oooh. Marcia made a couple of superbly yummy apple pies yesterday. We might have completely demolished one of them already. I’m taking the second one to work, tomorrow.

*      *      *

Technology update: I’ve gotten OrbDesigns.com setup with SSL, finally. This long-overdue development is courtesy of letsencrypt.org: “Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificate authority brought to you by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG).”

I’d always been a bit of a cheapskate about SSL on the sites, mostly because I don’t do any financial or personal transactional business here. And an SSL certificate for  just orbdesigns.com would have cost me more than the annual domain registration fees. I’d been following the progress of Let’s Encrypt with some interest, and jumped on the bandwagon, totally by chance, the day after the public Beta ended. I’m pleased that the service is available, and that there’s a couple of options for FreeBSD. I took advantage of the directions on Bernard Spil’s blog on the topic at wiki.freebsd.org/BernardSpil/LetsEncrypt.

I’ve still got to setup auto-deploy to accompany the automatic renewals that are already configured. And I’ve got certs for Marcia’s two main sites already: I just have to configure and deploy to those.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Airman First Class Nathaniel H. McDavitt, 22, of Glen Burnie, Maryland. He died on April 15 in Southwest Asia as a result of injuries sustained after extreme winds caused structural damage to the building in which the airman was working.

10 April 2016

A good week, overall. I was on-call for the first half, which is tiring, even when nothing happens. Yep, I sleep a lot more lightly when responsibility requires it. But one week out of every few weeks ain’t bad – and our monitoring and remediation are in a state of continuous improvement, so we get far fewer alerts and calls than in years past. All to the good.

I also executed terminal retirement on a stack of former virtualization hosts. Spin down, uncable from last network connections and from the SAN, spin up again with a DBAN disk in the optical drive: boom. No more data. Some may be repurposed as a lab environment, but the decision hasn’t been taken yet.

*      *      *

It was a fairly relaxing weekend, since the house is fairly clean, and it’s too darn cold to do any yardwork … Hey, did I mention that we had sleet, graupel, and snow on Saturday morning? Did I also mention that four days in the last week started off below freezing? So much for Spring. It had been warming up, and everything started to bloom, then BOOM: be cold and die, little plants! Good thing I’d not planted any veg in the garden yet, eh?

So we had Linda and Mike over to supper last night. Marcia made a wonderful, hearty, chicken stew, complemented by Asiago wheat bread and a green salad. Desert was a shortbread laden with blueberries. A good game of Ticket to Ride followed … good because against all odds, I won.

Both weekend days, I gave a few hours to playtime in the world of The Talos Principle (which I finished), and the Road to Gehenna DLC (which I started). Fun puzzle game: Recommended.

*      *      *

I’m currently reading Cordwainer Smith’s The Rediscovery of Man collection, along with last month’s Strange Horizons. I finished up the April edition of Clarkesworld earlier in the week, too. And I’m continuing to work my way through Learning Ruby the Hard Way, 3E. I’ve been spending years getting just enough knowledge to get the job done, but I want some more depth on something, anything. So, before I work on a substantial project, best to begin at first principles. That’s what I’m doing.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week, for which we are grateful. Ciao!

3 April 2016

I survived another April Fool’s Day, mostly by staying away from the Internet except for specific purposes. Best tweet of the day, though, something like: “April Fool’s Day: The sole, single, solitary, only day when the Internet is full of lies.” That’s full of WIN, that’s what that is.

That said, two night’s of terrible, broken sleep mean that I’m pretty tired. I’m hoping for better tonight. Downside: I’m still on call, and will be for another three nights. Upside: We shouldn’t have gusts up to 50 mph tonight, so that the house makes massive amounts of noise, and keeps me awake that way.

Rain yesterday, cold and windy today, with a forecast four nights below freezing this week … glad I’ve got nothing in the garden yet!

Dod reported no new casualties in the latest week. Ciao!


27 March 2016

Boring, I’m sure. First mowing of the year, yesterday. The front lawn is looking lush – that’s normal for this time of year. Today, no shopping because the store was closed for Easter Sunday. But since Easter is also a sigil of Spring, I used the day to clean house. It’s not perfect, but it’s much better than it was before I started.

Oh, oh, we saw a WONDERFUL Annapolis Shakespeare Company production of The Importance of Being Earnest. The excellent company cast was superbly directed by Founding Artistic Director Sally Boyett. It’s a great play, Oscar Wilde was such a joy as a writer and playwright. If you’re in our area, it’s on for just another couple of weeks and you really, really should go.

That’s really all I’ve got. I’m working on learning Ruby, because it’s been a long while since I’ve picked up a new language. It’s slower going than I’d like, frankly. But probably to be expected. Good to exercise the gray cells, no doubt.

DoD reported no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

20 March 2016

It must be Spring. We’ve been in the 30’s all weekend, and it’s currently dropping what’s quaintly called a “wintery mix” on us from low, leaden skies. Bah!

*      *      *

We’ve lost a lot of the roadside trees in our neighborhood in the last couple of years. The HOA’s landscaping service took out a bunch this winter, and replaced them with … some other kind of tree, I’ll guess. They didn’t get all of the dead trees yet, and from the tracks on the barkless trunk, you can probably see the reason behind the death:

Bug 1, Tree 0

Bugs 1, Tree 0

Yup, some kind of insect really loves the trees we’ve got in the upper part of the neighborhood. The lower is full of bradford pears, which are lovely in the spring, and as fragile as a vase, on a candlestick table, in a windstorm, on a concrete patio, surrounded by disturbed bison. The trees that are dying are less physically prone to splitting in half at the drop of a hat, but they’ve apparently appeared on the menu for some bug.

*      *      *

I got a variety of things done this weekend. After Marcia and I went up to Hobby Works this afternoon, I dug out the Hellcat model I’ve been working on for the last few years. Okay, I haven’t worked on it in a couple of years, but it’s still a fun project. I got the rest of the stringers laid onto the main part of the airframe today.

Hellcat model

Hellcat model in progress

Next up: wings.

*      *      *

I did run into an interesting problem this weekend. Firefox was auto-updated to version 45.mumble, and when that was done, I could no longer browse to any site that wasn’t https. After a while trying to fix things with my existing profile, I threw in the towel and built a clean new profile, and migrated some of the key configurations from the old. All’s right with the world again, at least in Firefox, for the moment.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin, of Temecula, California, who died on Mar. 19 in northern Iraq, from wounds suffered when the enemy attacked his unit with rocket fire.

17 March 2016

There once was a service called FandangoNOW, ah, Fucking Bastards, the company formerly known as M-GO. I logged into it once, because it was a featured service on our Roku box. As of this morning, I had neither purchased nor rented any content from M-GO. This is a good thing, because it appears that with the acquisition of M-GO by Fandango, you can either accept their new Terms and Privacy Policy (including the privacy policies of their corporate parents, NBC Universal and Warner Brothers), OR YOU, THE CUSTOMER, CAN GO TO HELL. Well, not HELL, as such. But if you’d “purchased” content from M-GO, but you assert that you cannot accept the conditions of the change of ownership … you lose access to anything you’ve purchased. In my opinion, that’s called theft, but then I’m an old-fashioned bloke. Here’s a quote from the exact text from the email I received last night:

If you prefer to opt out of these changes, click here and follow the instructions on the resulting page. If you opt out, we will remove your information from our database, including movies you have purchased.

Fucking bastards. Yes, I’ve had my information removed from their database, and I’m glad of it. But I’m glad that they didn’t get to steal any of my money from me in the process. I’m assuming that most people will just roll over on this sort of thing, but if they’re up front about being willing to deprive you of stuff you’ve paid for now, I’m willing to guess (and it’s just my opinion, mind you) that they’d do it to you again and again, in a heartbeat. Bend over, FandangoNOW customers.

In other news, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day. May the Saint Piss Stale Beer All Over The FandangoNOW Business Plan.

13 March 2016

Friday the thirteenth falls on Daylight Stealing Time Sunday this month. Yay?

*      *      *

A good week and a productive weekend. Yesterday I got the spring fertilizer down on the lawn (in time for today’s rain-in), and got the garden beds cleared of all the fall and over-winter cruft. I still have to turn over and amend the beds, but a start is a start, so I’ll take it. I also did some aggressive pruning of the crepe myrtles in the front of the house, and weeded some of the beds there, too. Today? Well, I’m a bit sore today.

And I was up before the crack of Daylight Stealing Time dawn to do a small amount of early remote work – putting monitoring systems into maintenance so that someone else could do their job without waking half the world with pager alerts. We broke our fast, then headed out to do the shopping.

This afternoon, I did my (speculative fiction) civic duty and got all of my Hugo nominations entered in. Why bother having the vote if you don’t use it. But because this is the Hugos, everyone who had a vote last year is the electoral equivalent of a delegate this year, too! So my nominating is done. If you love Science Fiction and/or Fantasy genre fiction, you should become a  member of WorldCon and nominate and vote! Note – to vote for the Hugo’s, you need to be a member of MidAmeriCon II this year. You needn’t attend – there’s a supporting membership option that is a quarter of the cost. I will point out that as a part of the Hugo Voting Packet, there’s usually MOST of the works that are up for the Hugos available to read. Purchased, that would come out to considerably more than the cost of the supporting membership. So a good deal all around for the fans and fannish. Yes, I’m a supporting member of MidAmeriCon II this year, as I was a supporting member of Sasquan last year.

*      *      *

DoD has announced no new casualties in the last week, for which we are grateful. Ciao!