Throw him in the pit...

...of tiny plastic balls.

Ok, not nearly as catchy as the "Pit of Despair" from "The Princess Bride" but much more cute in any case. Here, for your viewing pleasure, is our little one playing in the ball pit in our local swedish superstore.

Ok, since I managed to get that to work, here is another one. This time he is drawing and singing to himself. I use the term "drawing" in the more liberal definition of using pen and paper to do something that is not writing. This is a good depiction of two of his artistic techniques. These two are "large abstract shapes" and "tiny circles". Some other techniques in his repertoire include "small deep dashes, as though one is stabbing the paper" and "excellent imitation of seismograph during a major earthquake." Enjoy!

Which Science Fiction Writer AM I?

I am:
Philip José Farmer
This prolific author brings surprising depths to he-man adventure tales, and broke science fiction's prudery barrier.

Which science fiction writer are you?

This was my first go at it. The I found you can get Gibson if you say you are into exploring cybernetics. hehe

I am:
William Gibson
The chief instigator of the "cyberpunk" wave of the 1980s, his razzle-dazzle futuristic intrigues were, for a while, the most imitated work in science fiction.

Which science fiction writer are you?


reading update

Over the holiday season I rediscovered the joys of reading for fun. In large part this was due to realizing that I had a long break from reading for school, as my next, and final, class does not start until the middle of March. The only downside is that I had no books waiting to be read. I have been on a holding pattern, re-reading books I already own. This works well as most of the books on my shelves are like old friends, and it is always nice to visit with old friends. Yet, this time I needed to meet some new friends. Realizing this was kind of depressing as there is no budget that can support my reading habit, and keep us fed. Then I remembered there are these places called "libraries" which will let you read books without having to buy each and every one. Amazing concept. I sort of eased into it by borrowing the second book by Chris Paolini, "Eldest" which is a sequel to "Eragon". The first has been made into a movie that has very little similarity to the book, beyond names and vague plot outlines. When I finished this book I had to figure out what to read next, as Chris Paolini has not yet published the third book in his trilogy. So I turned, as I have often in the past, to my favorite authors. They are listed off to the left side. Many of them have been kind enough to write about who they like to read. This is in fact how I discovered several of them. This time around I had two of my favorites talk about the same author. As far as recommendations go, it does not get much better. And it is not like it was two author that work together were promoting a third member of their cliche or anything. One author, Max Barry, is from Australia, while the other, Chris Moore, is American. And they were both saying how much them enjoyed reading Mil Millington, a nifty fellow from the UK. Here is a taste of his work: http://www.milmillington.com/ Check out his "Things My Girlfriend and I Have Fought About" which is also the title of the book I am currently reading, except his postings are from his life and only reflect the background influences for the fictional work I am enjoying very much.
As I am almost finished reading "Things My Girlfriend and I Have Fought About" I have started to look for the next book. I am thinking of keeping track of how much it would have cost me to have bought these books so I can use that as a way to demonstrate how much money I have saved the family with my sacrifices. Somehow I do not think it will help me in any way whatsoever. So the next book came from a friend at work. "A Year in the Merde" by Stephen Clarke. http://www.amazon.com/Year-in-Merde-Stephen-Clarke/dp/1582345910 Looks like fun. I will let you know. While I do not speak french or consider myself a francophile, I have spent some time working in both France and the UK. I am hoping this will help me get some of the jokes.
Ok, three posts in one day is a bit much.

kinder update

Our little one is rapidly approaching 20 months. Every time we look up and see one of these milestones go whooshing by we are amazed. Amazed on many levels. There is the standard amazement at his developmental progress. While he is not talking yet, he is saying a lot. Mostly how disappointed he is we are not letting him watch more television. He has a very high volume when expressing his feelings on this matter. I have come to accept this and generally do not cave. Usually he quickly moves on to other distractions. Like drawing. He really watched his cousin when she was visiting this past holiday season. One of her regular activities was drawing or painting. She really is quite good. Our little fellow has picked this up, or at least the basics. He really likes pens and crayons and he can fill up a page like nobody's business. He has gotten very good at circles, well, something like circles. When he is not trying to push the pen through the paper. His canines have been coming through in the last week or two, so there has been all of the usual problems. And last weekend he had some unpleasant bug that only lasted a day but will forever live on in our memory. No fever or any of the other things the doctors office asked us about. Just the inability to keep anything down. By the third time we had caught onto his warning signs and got most of it a bucket. My lovely wife was unfortunate enough to catch the rest on her person. Which was just karma, as I had cuaght the first two of the day on my person. Not that we kept score or anything along those lines. Other than those times he is unwell or really in need of a tv fix, he is an amazingly pleasant child to be around. I am sure this will change in many different ways, but for now we are really enjoying it. On another level, we are amazed that it has been twenty months. It is sort of a blur. We remember finding out we were going to be parents and then everything since sorts of blurs together. There have been several visits to and from Poland and about half of my classes for grad school, so I know we were busy and all. I had a garden. Yet, it tends to feel like the last two years is all a fuzzy blend of diapers, sippy cups and teletubbies. Not too far from the truth. At least it is a warm and fuzzy kind of blur, like being under the blankets and not wanting to get up and make that mad dash to the cold bashroom.

further work fun

We had two more unscheduled reboots of critical systems this past week. File corruption on a SAN mounted volume caused our system folk to have to retore to an earlier snapshot on one of them. For those not in the industry the situation briefly described above is fairly horrible and something one hopes they will never encounter. My part in this troublehsooting, as resident network weasel, has been to set up a continuous packet capture running on the SAN network. This means that as soon as an incident is confirmed, someone runs and pulls the plug on the packet capture so we will have a record of what was going on over the network at that moment. TCPDUMP is my new best friend. I had played with it before, mostly in various classroom settings, and I always thought it was an interesting tool. Anything with that many options has to be given some respect. It is the command line swiss army knife of packet analysis. (And yes, I know just how much of a techno geek saying so makes me, and I am okay with it.) In general I tend to use snoop to look at packets on an interface in a unix system so this was my first real use of tcpdump in production. We have a nice GUI product running on Win2K in a rack mount server in the network core that I use for day to day troubleshooting of problems, but there was not enough free memory on that server for this continuous looping buffer of packet capture we needed for this problem. The loop is over 2000 files, each 20 megabytes in size for a total of 40 gigabytes of network packets. And it is only the first 96 bytes of each packet so it does not include the actual data being passed, just the packet headers (information needed by network interfaces and network hardware to make sure the packet gets to its destination). Heady stuff, as it were.

Ok, enough about work. I hope to post something about the book I am currently reading. A new author for me at least and very fun.



Problems that are not problems

It is almost zen like. "There is no spoon." sort of thing. Read on if you are interested in details of a technical nature.

This has been a very busy week at work. We had some unintended and unexplained outages late last week and this week has been filled in trying to explain at least the network side of some of the outages/interruptions. The short version is that when we went looking for an explanation for the outages we saw network traffic that did not make sense. So I spent the week trying to make sense of what we found. What we saw was network switches not keeping the hardware address of the device directly connected to it. The switches should have that information, in case you are curious. The behavior did not change when we changed switches, IP address, or hardware addresses. My boss was started to get very concerned as the only things left to change were the server and the primary router on campus. Rebooting the router effects every network connection on the campus and as such is pretty much the very last thing you want to do. And the time we can reboot the router without it effecting students is quickly going away, as student return this weekend. So I have been working with the company that makes the switches, sending them configuration files, collecting samples of all the network traffic going in and out the ports in question and all of the other fun and games of troubleshooting. And after a week, and escalting within their service I managed to figure out what was happening. I wish it was one of those "ah ha" moments but it was more one explanation kept coming up and no matter what I did I could not disprove it. And last night I finally found a way to prove this possible explanation was in fact the correct explanation. Know what it was? That everything was working correctly on both the switches and the server, we were just seeing some very unusual, but not technically wrong, behavior based on how the server was configured.
No one believes me when I say its not the network.
More a reminder that I really need to get some traffic analysis going for our network. At least I got the syslog problem fixed and we are finally sending our switch logs to a syslog server. Small steps in the right direction after a week of running all over the place.
And half of our group have been sick all week. Mostly variations on the flu/cold type of thing. My boss let me know he had gone through 3/4ths of a box of tissues in one day. I have had a very sore throat that is not strep and not a cold or flu since last week. I live off of throat spray and cough drops. *blah* It is no fun to be in pain but otherwise functional.


In-Law withdrawl

So the In-laws have made it home ok. SiL and niece had a horrible trip. Not sure if it was the stress of travelling or if they had some bad food along the way. Everyone else is ok, and they are all home now.
There was also an unfun moment when my BiL realized he gave the wrong date to the person picking them up from the airport. By the time he got ahold of the friend, they had been at the airport for two hours, a day early. Since they got home ok, I guess the friend came back on the correct day.
My wife is handling the suddenly empty house. She is very sad they are gone but able to function. She gets particularly choked up if our son goes into the rooms everyone was using and starts looking around like he lost something. It does not help that one of his favorite sounds these days is "Ba ba ba" which can be taken to be the Polish word for "grandmother" > "babcha". (ok, so we have also been taking it to be "ball" but that does not make sense in this context. And it is all about context.) So it will be a while before she gets her feet planted again. She has been focused on this visit for so long I am curious, in a dreading/morbid kind of way, what she will start doing with her time. She did get out a book from the library last night, which I take as a good sign she might take some time for herself. I can only hope.