04/16/05

Permalink 04:19:19 pm, by Kris Email , 555 words
Categories: A Day in the Life

Splinters

This morning, I awoke to Owen screaming his head off. I went to see what was going on and Mary was removing several splinters from his feet. Apparently, yesterday, he had played on a couple of wooden decks with bare feet, and Mary did not realize until this morning that he had picked up a dozen or so small splinters in his feet and knees. I guess he didn't complain much about them at the time, but he certainly did not enjoy having them removed.

I can remember my dad and grandpa working together to remove a splinter from either my hand or toe, and how much I hated it. I would have just preferred they leave it there than to pick at me with a needle and tweezers, but of course I know now that you just can't do that. I helped Mary remove the last few of them and tried to distract Owen as much as possible while it was happening. It worked a little, but he still cried a lot and didn't want to hold still. Finally, we got all the large ones out (there were some almost microscopic ones that I could see when I looked real close, but didn't think they were worth worrying about), and after only a couple of minutes Owen was calmed down and we all went for a bike ride.

We decided to go check out the other part of the Stones River Greenway, which is near Two Rivers Park. For whatever reason, they started the greenway at each end, and are still working on the middle part. We've ridden the stretch from the Percy Priest Dam into Hermitage, but we hadn't been to the other end yet.

Let's just say there is a significant difference in the altitude between Two Rivers Park and the Cumberland River. There's a serious hill at one point, and unfortunately, we were at the top going down, which meant we would have to come back up on the return trip. I was pulling Owen in his little trailer, and it was pretty tough going up that hill. I must admit I had to stop a few times and took a good long rest when we got to the top. I've mentioned before that I'm not in very good shape, but this really made me feel pathetic. I've got to get some more regular exercise in my life. However, too my credit, I did ride the entire way without walking my bike at all, which is a personal goal of mine whenever I ride.

Other than that one hill, though, it was a very nice, somewhat challenging ride. I look forward to when the whole thing is complete, but I'll have to make sure I start from the opposite end so we go up that hill first and come down it later, or else figure out how to do a one-way trip.

This afternoon there is some annual neighborhood party or festival or something going on. We saw signs posted the other day, but haven't gone to check it out yet (I think we're going to go in a few minutes). After that, we're going to the Fadelys' house to watch a movie that will be shown via projector on the back of their house, "drive-in" style. That should be fun.

04/15/05

Permalink 01:02:32 pm, by Kris Email , 373 words
Categories: A Day in the Life, Work

Random Subjects

I really want to write something interesting here, but I'm afraid I don't have much to offer today, unless you want me to go on about the security application I've been working on - integrating a reverse proxy server running RSA ClearTrust with a trusted interceptor for J2EE authentication on IBM WebSphere. For most of you, though, I'm afraid that wouldn't fit the "interesting" category. So, instead, you get this:

I've recently set up my Beyond TV computer at home to record "Who's Line Is It Anyway?", which comes on 5 or 6 times a day on ABC Family. I have seen that show a few times before, and always thought it was hilarious, but ran across it again last weekend and decided I want to see it more often. If you've never seen the show, the basic idea is that four very funny actors make up everything they do right on the spot, and much of it is based on suggestions from the audience. They act out various scenes, such as a newscast or game show, but with strange characters like the "sports guy who is having trouble working his jet pack". You really just have to watch it to understand.

This weekend, we don't have any major plans for the first time in what seems like forever. I'm hoping to get back out on the bike and do some riding. Maybe we'll go down to Shelby Bottoms or Two Rivers Park. I'm really looking forward to the day the Stones River Greenway is done. If only they'd extend it somehow to come close to our house.

It's hard to believe it's already April 15th... I guess I should stay away from the post office today, because it will be swarming with last-minute tax filers. I don't think I've ever turned in my taxes on April 15th. In fact, I usually have them done by the end of January, and get my refund in February.

I found out this week that my job title has changed again. Instead of "Systems Engineer II", I'm a "Senior Systems Engineer". It sounds better, but it doesn't mean much. Anyone need 495 misprinted business cards?

Anyway, that's my ramblings for today. Hope it wasn't a waste of your time.

04/11/05

Permalink 02:03:00 pm, by Kris Email , 785 words
Categories: A Day in the Life, Technical Talk, Owen

Reunion Recap

There's a lot I could write about our trip this weekend, but I don't have time to do it all justice, so I'll try to hit the highlights.

The drive down was fairly painless - we started at about 6 AM and drove through a lot of rain, although none of it too heavy or dangerous. Owen slept most of the way down, occasionally waking with a "why am I still in the car?" look on his face. We took along my MP3 player and a small FM transmitter that I bought, which broadcasts the audio from the player onto any frequency so you can tune it in on your radio in the car. This worked fairly well, although on a trip that long we had to change the channel several times to avoid interference from other radio stations in various areas. The transmitter, which plugs into the cigaret lighter in the car, is also supposed to power whatever device you are listening to, but the voltage it produces was not right for my MP3 player. Fortunately, the batteries lasted about 5 minutes short of the entire trip, and I took my charger along in order to charge them back up for the return trip.

Upon arrival in Florida, we learned that my youngest brother had just gotten engaged the night before to his girlfriend of two years. Congratulations, Keith! She's a great girl and we're so glad to be adding her to the family.

Family ReunionThere were about 30 people at the reunion this year (a little less than usual), and some people were only there during the day on Saturday. We typically rent two large (10 bedroom) houses, but this year we only got one house and two hotel rooms at the nearby lodge. Mary and I got to stay in one of the hotel rooms, which was a little nicer than the bedrooms in the house, and had the added benefit of quiet in the early morning.

The food was really good, as always. One of my dad's uncles owns a steak restaurant, and he always brings and cooks some very high-quality steaks, which are so tender you can cut them with the side of your fork. We also had a couple of pots of chili this year, along with the usual assortment of junk food. I gained about 5 pounds.

The nature trail was floodedThe river was flooded this year, and was way too high for us to go canoeing like we've done in the past. But, we still got in a game of football, took a good long walk, and had some other outdoor activities with the kids. The weather was pretty nice and we didn't have much rain other than the trip down.

By Saturday night I was totally wiped out, and thought I was going to turn in early, but then I looked at the clock and realized it was after 10 PM. I slept pretty well and was rested up for the drive home on Sunday.

We always have lunch at the Dixie Grill in Live Oak on Sunday, and go our separate ways from there. I was leaving alone this year, because Mary and Owen went home with my parents for a few days. I'll be picking her up at the airport on Wednesday. One of my second cousins remarked about not being willing to go to her in-laws house without her husband, but my parents and Mary have a great relationship, and I don't think anyone ever thought that it could be a problem. In fact, it was Mary's idea in the first place.

The drive home was mostly uneventful, except that I missed an auto accident by about 5 seconds. I was driving along on the interstate when suddenly everyone in front of me slammed on their brakes and began swerving. I slowed down and then saw an SUV upside-down on the side of the road, and the wheels were still spinning! I pulled over and jumped out of my car, and (along with several other people) ran over to the truck to see if anyone was hurt or trapped. There was only one person in the vehicle - an older man - and he was able to climb out with some help, and appeared to have a few bumps and scratches on his head. I called 911 while several people helped him up and a woman (who happened to be a doctor) asked the man a few questions about how he felt. Once the police arrived (within 5 minutes or so), I realized that there were a lot of people there and there wasn't really much that I could do except be in the way, so I went ahead and got in my car and left. I hope he's alright.

04/07/05

Permalink 02:04:48 pm, by Kris Email , 185 words
Categories: A Day in the Life

Tomorrow, we drive

We are leaving around 6 AM tomorrow for my annual Family Reuion in Florida. I'm not looking forward to the drive, but the trip overall should be good, and I think I'm going to get to see some cousins that I haven't seen in years.

Tonight, I must pack and pay some bills and make sure there is nothing urgent that needs to be done before next week. I never know what I should take on these trips, because it's not going to be long, but there could be a lot of different activities (canoeing, hiking, basketball, etc.) so I want to be prepared. We've talked about taking our bikes down there several times, but since it's only for a weekend, and the purpose of the trip is to spend time with family, I don't think that would be worth it unless other people were bringing bikes, too.

I will be driving home alone this time, because Mary and Owen are going to go stay with my parents for a few days and take advantage of Southwest's $39 fares from Tampa to Nashville later in the week.

04/05/05

Permalink 02:37:18 pm, by Kris Email , 618 words
Categories: Technical Talk

Firefox

This is my first post using Mozilla Firefox, an alternative to Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

For years, I have used IE because it was the dominant browser, and it was already installed on most of the computers I use. I have always been picky about what I install on my computers, because every program has its drawbacks and the possibility of a negative affect on your overall system performance, so I figured since IE was already there, I should just use it instead of installing redundant software. Also, the company I work for has standardized on Internet Explorer, so that's what we require internally, and what we typically develop for.

Of course, most people who use a computer (and I assume you are one of those since you are reading this) know of the various flaws and vulnerabilities that have plagued Microsoft and specifically Internet Explorer over the years. What you may not know is that Microsoft has also introduced many features that are not standard (not part of the official specs for HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc.), but because of the dominance of Internet Explorer, they are widely used. Much of the world wide web, which was originally intended to be "platform independent" (meaning it works no matter what kind of computer you are using) simply does not work unless you use a specific web browser - usually Internet Explorer.

I have always tried to avoid using these kinds of features in websites I create, but I can't say I'm completely innocent of it. Many times I have created sites and only checked them with Internet Explorer to see how they look and function. Since that's how 97% of the world sees it, that's good enough, right? It was good enough for the people I was making the sites for, at least.

Lately, though, I've been reading more about standards and starting to tinker with Linux and other open-source software, and I've realized the value of standards and interoperability. Internet Explorer has been very slow to add new features in the last few years, and the recent progress with IE6 and the announcement of IE7 (which wasn't even going to exist) is only due to competitors actually raising the bar and beginning to steal some of the market share from Microsoft. One of the biggest of those is Mozilla Firefox. Another good one is Opera. Both can be downloaded for free, and there's no reason you can't have both installed on your computer, in addition to Internet Explorer.

The rise of these competitors is also leading to more awareness of the need for standards and compliance, and hopefully, better development on the web. I am definitely going to work harder on making sure the sites I create comply with standards and work across as many platforms as I can. No more convenient sloppiness for me.

As far as the benefits of using one over the other - my initial reaction has been that Firefox seems much faster than IE at loading and rendering pages. Firefox had a built-in popup blocker long before IE did, and there are other features such as tabbed-browsing that Microsoft is only considering adding because several of the alternatives already have it. There is also a plugin architecture that allows other people to write add-ons to the browser that you can download and install, including some great developer tools (HTML/CSS validator, JavaScript debugging, etc.).

I'm sure there will be some problems at some point, especially with websites that have been written specifically for IE features, but the only way to get people to stop writing websites for only one browser is if enough people stop using that browser. So, I'm doing my part. I'm switching to Firefox.

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Random thoughts and experiences from a husband / father / teacher / computer guy living in the heart of God's Country (called "Nashville" on most maps).
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