Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Internet is down... :(

My home Internet service is down and won't be back until Thursday after 1pm. This stinks. This also seems to happen every damn time Road Runner goes through and does routine maintenance designed to "improve performance and stability".

This is slowly beginning to try my patience. The last time I was down for multiple days it was after planned maintenance in our area. The time before that it was after they pushed a DOCSIS upgrade to cable modems in the area without telling anybody about it (and doing so during what I would consider a peak usage time frame). Now, I am expected to wait three days for a technician to repair my connection?

What I don't understand is: if they have the ability to see my cable modem and get diagnostics from it, then why do they not proactively do anything about it? The cable modem shows all upstream and downstream levels, do I really need to technician to make a trip inside my house and my inconvenience – or could they simple adjust the levels in the area, rescan diagnostics and automagically heal everything without me?

Maybe I'm asking too much. The service is only down maybe eight to ten days out of the year; so it's up roughly 97% of the time. Then again, I'm paying well over $40 a month for this service that is bundled with my cable television service. More and more people are relying upon broadband Internet for VoIP (Voice over IP, i.e. Vonage and broadband phone), paying bills, taking college courses and other important things. That 3% downtime might not be acceptable anymore. Maybe it's not the 3% down time but the fact that most of that down time is spent waiting for someone to fix the connection.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Playing with Apache httpd server

I just finished securing my Apache web servers that I run at home and on an isolated network here at work. Both run on Windows 2003 Server in place of IIS (disabled on both systems). I've also been playing with Apache on Ubuntu Linux but when I went to make changes to the httpd.conf file to make it similar to the ones I just "secured" I was somewhat annoyed to find the Debian distribution (which Ubuntu freezes then modifies to suit their needs) delivers their Apache configuration a little differently (well, a lit differently).

The Apache web server on Debian distributions (I'm assuming, since it says so in the configuration files) starts with the apache2.conf file. The apache2.conf sets all parameters specific to the server (processes, threads, server root, lock, logs, etc.) then starts including files. It starts with links in the /etc/apache2/mods-enabled directory that link to files in the /etc/apache2/mods-available directory. The /etc/apache2/httpd.conf (user configurations) then /etc/apache2/ports.conf (ports) files are used next. All files in the /etc/apache2/conf.d directory are processed. After processing the first round of includes the alias and directory settings for /icons is set along with "ErrorDocument" files and locations followed by fancy indexing icons, languages and types. The last piece of the apache2.conf file includes all links in the /etc/apache2/sites-enabled directory that link to files in the /etc/apache2/sites-available directory. This is where you would put your virtual servers. This type of configuration seems to have advantages and disadvantages.

One of the advantages of this configuration would have to be the flexibility. A package manager could install modules and place configuration settings in the /etc/apache2/mods-available directory then link to them in the /etc/apache2/mods-enabled directory. The main configuration files never need to be modified. The same goes for the virtual hosts in the sites* directories. I guess the disadvantages to this type of setup would be the reliance upon the Unix file system and the process gets somewhat more complicated and non-standardized. Instead of having everything in one file, a system administrator now needs to keep track of multiple files in different locations.

Installing and playing with Apache has definitely been a learning experience. For those who are wondering why I am using Apache on Windows instead of on Unix or instead of using IIS, here is why. At both home and work there was a Windows-only program that was required, and to be honest the Windows Servers seem to be a lot more straight-forward when it comes to administration out of the box. Unix would have taken more time to run, secure and protect. Sure there is a cost of secured Windows servers versus secured Linux servers but that is a cost I'm willing to take at the moment. There were two reasons why I chose Apache over IIS: mod_rewrite and portability. I could not find anything in IIS that comes close to the power of mod_rewrite when it comes to making "pretty URLs". Plus, anything I do under Apache will move to a Linux server (if I need to) in the future but anything specific to IIS will not.

Old and tired...

It seems like I have aged ten years in the past ten days. I was playing soccer in our gymnasium during lunch and injured myself somehow. It was during either a full sprint or my time in goal (where I went down to a knee to make myself big against a shooter); or perhaps a combination of the two. Since that week I have felt tired, labored and for the lack of a better term "old".

I'm probably going to have to go to a doctor for my left knee cap. I cannot lift any weight with it. I can lower weight in a controlled manner, but cannot lift it when doing leg curls. If I exert downward pressure on the knee it hurts. What is strange is that my body feels best when I'm doing something in the gym, so I continue to play soccer occasionally and hockey plus lift weights on off days. That will usually carry me through the day until around night time where everything starts hurting and creaking.

It sucks getting old.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Grouchette finalized the adoption process for Karo (seen here hunting the cunning and dangerous knotted chew-rope). All of his unconditional love and future vet bills belong to her now.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Using ADO inside Access

This took me a couple hours (three) to find an example of how to do this. I was wondering what to use on the connection string into the ADODB.Connection object. It turns out, it is not needed.

Dim adoConn As ADODB.Connection
Dim adoRS As New ADODB.Recordset

Set adoConn = CurrentProject.Connection
adoRS.Open "Query", adoConn, adOpenForwardOnly, adLockReadOnly, -1

Do While Not adoRS.EOF


Please note the CurrentProject.Connection, this seems to work.

What sucks is I have the full MSDN at my disposal and it took a Google search (roughly page five after going past who knows how many links to ads for books about programming Access using VBA) to figure this out.

Awwwww (as in awww, that's cute sound)




Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day

For me, Valentine's Day has turned into another one of those throw away holidays where commercialism has manufactured its own reality, one that I don't particularly care for.

A couple days ago I was actually in a Hallmark store and went by a flower shop while I was there. After walking around and looking at all the crap being thrust upon my eyes for purchase I ended up back in my car curled up in fetal position in the back seat. Why on earth do we spend our hard earned money on this stuff? Let's dissect the typical Valentine's Day gifts.

First there are the floral arrangements, typically a bunch of roses. The cost ranges anywhere from $12 for the cheap crap to $75 for the good stuff. Return on investment beyond the return love and sex is pretty poor. The flowers will die within a couple days and starting looking horrid just before that. There isn't much use for dead flowers unless you use them in some art project. Basically it's $75 down the drain for a moment of joy.

One company actively pushing their wares this year, Vermont Teddy Bear, ran commercials with "hot" chick fawning over some twelve inch high wad of sewn material shaped like a bear with customized accessories. I'm sure you have seen the commercial. You have the "hot" women jealous of the "hot" women who received a teddy bear with some card containing a message swiped from a fortune cookie. Then there are the "sissified" men, who obviously want copious amounts of anonymous, non-committing sex from the "hot" women fawning over the teddy bear. They cower in their work cubicles thinking "gosh, if I would have just bought a teddy bear for that secretary I'd be having sex with her in the back of my Camero parked out back by the dumpsters. The teddy bears start around $70. Again, other than temporary love (until you do something stupid like leave the toilet seat up or forget that one time to close the cupboard door) or sex, there is little return on investment as the teddy bear will eventually make it's way to either the garbage pail, a plastic tub in the crawl space, or worse yet – valuable space on a desk that would better used by a powered Ethernet hub or tape dispenser.

Then there is chocolate; the weakness of many women. Buying a specialized box of chocolates will run you from $4 (cheap Walmart crap) to $50 (chocolate so rich and powerful and delicious it actually turns your feces into chocolate for a 24 hour period after consumption). The problem with chocolate is it will make their ass fat (or fatter). For you investment you get about 45 days of post-chocolate, nothing looks good on me anymore, my ass is fat suffering to endure.  

For the somewhat cheap, there is always the assortment of balloons or other Valentine's Day specific party gifts. The problem with balloons is you must have something else in addition to the balloons to supplement the gift to the accepted cost/thoughtfulness level. The balloons can be attached to chocolate (see above), or a teddy bear. They can't be attached to flowers, that just looks tacky (even I know that). Balloons are a poor Valentine's Day investment as they take up valuable airspace and eventually die a slow and agonizing death; nobody want's that.

Jewelry is another acceptable Valentine's Day gift that is sure to get a reaction out of your sweetheart. The problem with jewelry is that it starts around $40 for the really cheap crap, averages around $120 for respectable pieces, but can shoot into the thousands of dollars. The other problem is jewelry is really hard to buy for a women unless she is there fawning over it. As a stereotypical "dumb" commercial male it's hard to stare at a display case while some gussied up librarian hovers around asking questions. No matter what you pick out, your sweetheart will find something wrong with it and upon returning to the store will find something else she wants in its place. Save the hassle, just go to the jewelry store on any day of the year other than Valentine's Day and let her pick something else. Promptly purchase that piece of jewelry for her while silently crying to yourself over the loss of about four months worth of hard work and wages. Unlike other gifts, jewelry should theoretically last forever and represent a moderate return on investment as long as they don't get lost behind the seat cushions of the couch or get pawned off years later in a garage sale for an eighth of the original cost.

What a mess. How did we get caught up in this stuff? Why is Valentine's Day a holiday? I don't get the day off from work. Does it memorialize a group of people that died for our country?

Every day should be a potential Valentine's Day. Instead of there being one specific (two if you count Valentine's Day fish-head eating twin, Sweetest's Day) day for spending a load of cash on a loved one, every day should potentially be a "Valentine's Day." I would much rather save my cash and surprise my sweetheart out of the blue some day in the middle of June or something. Maybe there is a day where I know it will be long and depressing at work and she will be surprised at lunch with a bouquet of flowers. More importantly I would rather be independent of some mass commercialized, manufactured holiday.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

New dog

Grouchette went and got herself a little dog named Karo from the Franklin County Dog Shelter. His first day home has shown he loves going outside and has frequent bursts of energy, which for the time being causes his "kennel cough" to act up. Karo is a one and a half year old mix. She is fostering the dog until we a sure he is a happy healthy fit for the house, at which point she will then adopt him.


I've grew up with cats and have always been a cat person, I guess - so this should be interesting. The only other pets we have are the fish in the 55, 40 and 29 gallon aquariums.