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Bill Roper's Journal
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5th-May-2016 11:55 pm - I'm Late
I was monstrously late getting out of town today and hit nasty traffic. But eventually I made it to Erica and Steve's.

See some of you at Marcon!
4th-May-2016 11:55 pm - Bill vs. The Hardware
I'm leaving for Marcon tomorrow, so it's time to be updating all of the devices that are going with me. This means ripping all of the newly acquired CDs for the table into iTunes and loading them into the company iPod. The ripping went pretty well. The loading into the iPod, not so much.

I fought and fought with the stupid device, trying to get Windows 10 to recognize it as anything other than a hard drive. And then I found the webpage that suggested trying a real Apple cable instead of the patchwork that I was using.

The iPod happily popped up in iTunes and was trivially synced.

*gleep*

Meanwhile, one of the two Samsung tablets that we use at the table had been turned off before being stored, so it had charge in it. It happily updated the 20+ applications that needed to be updated since the last time we used it.

The other had not been turned off and was completely discharged. Even after charging, it refused to update anything. Finally, in desperation, I punched up the browser on the tablet to find out what to do.

And the browser refused to browse, because the tablet had discharged so far that it thought that it was December 31, 2011.

So I reset the date.

And the browser browsed.

And the Play Store updated all of the apps.

It's being like that...
3rd-May-2016 11:55 pm - When Web Interfaces Go South
Oh, good. The interface between the season ticket information for the Cubs and StubHub has now broken down completely, after first allowing me to list one game at a time instead of sending across multiple games at once. This makes selling excess tickets so much more fun.

What was even better was the StubHub chat rep who suggested that I use Google Chrome (which I was already using) and that I should reboot my computer (which would get me out of her chat window and into someone else's when that didn't work).

*sigh*
2nd-May-2016 11:42 pm - Bike Acquired
Today, after a bit of Internet research, we went out and bought Julie the bike that would suit her for her birthday to replace the one she has outgrown.

And there was much rejoicing. :)
1st-May-2016 10:30 pm - Julie Is Eight
Julie turned eight today.

Julie has been begging me to take her to a Cubs game. As it happened, I still had the tickets for today's game, so I headed down to Wrigley Field with Julie, knowing that it was not a fit day out for man nor beast.

We lasted three and a half innings. This was somewhat more than I had expected, as it was positively frigid with the wind blowing in off the lake, despite parkas, jackets, and an inadequate (but welcome!) blanket.

After dinner tonight at Red Robin (where we had a truly wonderful waiter), we went shopping for a new bike for Julie. Sadly, I couldn't find what I wanted for her at the store we went to, but some on-line research has located what I believe to be the correct bike at a different store, so Gretchen and the girls will head there after school tomorrow to pick it up.

It has been an amazing eight years.

I love you, Julie.

(And, Katie, I love you too, but your birthday is not for six months. :) )
30th-Apr-2016 08:39 pm - Julie's Birthday Party
We had Julie's birthday party a day early today. There weren't quite as many kids as we might have hoped due to a wide variety of conflicts, but the girls who were here had a fine time, so that's good.

It was a Frozen-themed party (still!) and the snowball fight, courtesy of Gretchen's sewing skills, was spectacular!
29th-Apr-2016 10:53 pm - Rolling the Ball
Today was the annual bowling fundraiser for the girls' school, so off we went to the bowling alley tonight. Gretchen decided not to bowl, but I had a good time bowling with Katie, Julie, and one of their friends on our alley. My bowling is extremely rusty, but I managed to bowl in the 130s for the first game and the 140s for the second game, which was vaguely respectable.

If only I had known where the ball was going to go. :)

Now, I have a great many sore muscles...
28th-Apr-2016 10:51 pm - XML In, XML Out
I need to be reading and writing XML in both C++ and Java as I serialize and persist data objects. So I wrote an XMLArchive class on both sides of the divide that behaves pretty similarly in both environments within the limits of what the languages will allow.

I've been adding functionality to both sides of the great divide to try to fix up some of the test code that one of the other programmers wrote with an early version of the XMLArchive class. Today, I wrote a big batch of templated functions in C++ to match up with the generic methods in Java. I think this is going to work.

I'll find out shortly when I get a chance to test it. :)
27th-Apr-2016 10:51 pm - Garbage In
We got a warning from the ISP the other day that Gretchen's e-mail was emitting spam. We've scanned all of the machines she uses for viruses and changed her password, but a new flock of messages apparently went out claiming to be from her today. However, we didn't get a warning from the ISP this time, so it's entirely possible that this is from the previous batch of address harvesting.

In any case, I've now scanned the machines that Gretchen uses with a different virus scanner. This one found some things, but it doesn't appear that any of them were actually live.

I think I'll scan my machine now...
26th-Apr-2016 10:43 pm - Books, Mr. Rico!
There are now something over a thousand copies of Velveteen vs. The Seasons in my garage. :)
25th-Apr-2016 09:53 pm - One Project Completed
The last toilet arrived today and is now safely installed. One of the old seats was put back in place on the toilet in the girls' bathroom, which has made Julie happier about the whole thing.

It is perhaps a sad statement on the way things are going around here that I am so stupidly happy to push the handle on the toilet and have everything go away without the use of a plunger. :)
24th-Apr-2016 10:57 pm - Weekend Update
Katie and Julie managed to distinguish themselves this morning, to the point where I went in and turned on the parental controls for Windows 10 to limit their screen time. Sadly, the Windows 10 parental controls were designed by idiots, because they don't manage a situation where multiple computers are in play correctly; there are apparently other actual bugs in the implementation. Blort.

The first Capricon meeting was today. Debbie came up for it and stopped on the way home to meet Ruby, who rather likes Debbie. :) And we picked up several tips from Debbie that I hope will reduce the amount of nipping that Ruby does at Gretchen.
23rd-Apr-2016 11:27 pm - Today's Entertainment
Ted, who owns our local BBQ place, has been nice enough to come over and help us fix the fence so that Ruby stays in the yard. This is good, because Ted is much better with fences than I am.

Today, I returned the favor. I dropped Katie off at softball practice and went over to his store for breakfast carrying a spare DVD drive and a copy of Clonezilla. See, Ted's Point of Sale touch screen terminal runs off software on a six-year-old Dell computer that's running Windows XP. I am reasonably confident that -- should the hard drive on that machine decide to go out to lunch, so to speak -- that will be the end of the Point of Sale system.

But if you make an image of the drive...

Of course, the DVD drive that came with the system was broken, but I had a spare lying around from when I'd upgraded to Blu-Ray. Ted was out taking care of his mother, but his son, Chris, was there and was fascinated by the whole process. So I shut down the computer and hauled it out into the dining room where there was room to work, had some breakfast, and popped it open and swapped out the DVD drive. While doing this, I discovered that when Ted had installed the replacement power supply a month or so ago (you start to see why I worry about this computer), he had installed it upside down with no screws. I turned it over, Chris found the bag of screws, and I secured the power supply in the right orientation.

Once I had everything back together, I hooked things back up in the office, booted into the BIOS, and told the system that it should look at the DVD drive first in the boot cycle. This allowed it to happily boot up Clonezilla. Shortly thereafter, a drive image was being written to the USB hard drive that Chris had brought in for the purpose.

I went off to pick up Katie from softball practice. When I checked in later, the backup had completed and the Point of Sale system was up and running again.

And there was much rejoicing.

And a backup. :)
22nd-Apr-2016 10:42 pm - A Wind In the Door
I finished reading A Wrinkle In Time to Katie and Julie a few days ago. Having ascertained that there were more books in the series, I asked Gretchen if she had the next book. She concluded that she didn't.

So the entire series will be here in a lovely (and inexpensive) boxed set on Sunday. And chapter 1 of A Wind In the Door has been downloaded to my phone, so I can probably fake my way through it until then by splitting that chapter in two.

Apparently, the Internet is for shopping.
Documentation is a wonderful thing.

I suppose I should write some more of it.

I hope that everyone will read it if I do.

Sadly, my observation is that most developers write documentation at gunpoint and read it under threat of torture.

Or maybe I'm just being excessively cynical today. :)
20th-Apr-2016 11:41 pm - Bit by Bit
I was wrong. My friend actually came back and put the fence posts into their holes while I was inside working and keeping track of the toilet installation. Now we just need to concrete them in place...

Meanwhile, I've been cleaning up some of my XML generation so that everything is reading and writing XML that looks like it was written with some set of guiding principles. The problem comes when you get to the point of XML documentation that says "Do it however suits you."

Well, yes, I can do that. I just want to avoid religious arguments once I set the format. :)
19th-Apr-2016 11:16 pm - Home Repair Interruptus
The section of fence that was falling down has been removed and the ruins of the old posts dug out of the holes. Unfortunately, the friend who was helping with this had to leave to take care of his wife, so that is on hold for the moment.

Happily, the two toilets that have arrived have now been installed and seem to be working much better than the older toilets.

The garage is full of toilet carnage that needs to be packed for recycling.

So there's progress.
18th-Apr-2016 04:57 pm - Translating UPS
I am sure that all of you have been waiting with bated breath to find out whether or not my missing toilet bowl had been strip searched.

Apparently so.

At 1:49 PM, my poor toilet bowl changed from "Out for delivery" to "A required security check has delayed delivery."

At 3:57 PM, it changed to "Service disruption occurred. / The package will be returned to the sender."

I interpret this as "We drop kicked your toilet bowl and broke it. Although we can deliver the broken bowl to you, it will only result in us having to pick it up again, so we have cut out the middleman and sent it back to Amazon. Maybe you should talk to them."

One Amazon chat window later, Amazon is now sending me another full toilet and I will return the extra tank once I actually get the replacement and ascertain that nothing has been broken in the second shipment. Also, this will take a darned sight longer to get here, because Amazon is now out of toilets, so my replacement toilet appears to be coming from somewhere substantially farther away than Indianapolis. (ETA: Yup. Chico, California.)

On the other hand, the Amazon toilets were about $84 cheaper each than the replacement and I am not paying for the replacement, so...

On the gripping hand, the plumber is supposed to come tomorrow and install three toilets. Two toilets are here and one of the existing toilets really needs to be replaced...
18th-Apr-2016 02:55 pm - The UPS Man, Amazon, and Me
The above almost scans to the last line of the chorus of "The Rainbow Connection", which is a lovely song and does not deserve to be associated with what I'm thinking right now.

So you may recall that last week, UPS managed to misplace my Next Day Air tax return information that was coming back to me from the accountant so that it arrived three days late on a trip here from Evanston, which is only about eleven miles from here. I was told that it was a small package and easily could have gotten lost. Where exactly it had gone to hide for three days was never revealed to me.

Because our toilets are old, first-generation, low-flow models, I ordered three new toilets from Amazon to replace them, prompted by the leak in the ceiling in our family room when I was plunging recently. Today, five boxes arrived and were placed in the garage by our very helpful and friendly UPS man. (Really! I appreciate it!)

Now those of you who are not math challenged might wonder how five boxes relates to three new toilets and that would be a fine question. What I had in hand were two-and-a-half toilets. The enormous box containing the bowl for one of the toilets was not there.

I went to my Amazon orders list. All three tracking numbers showed as "Delivered".

I called UPS. They explained that there should be six tracking numbers for six boxes. And when I checked, I discovered that there were indeed different tracking numbers on the bowls and the tanks.

So I got on the chat line with Amazon and got the missing tracking number, suggesting that it might be good if they provided two tracking numbers when two boxes were shipped. The rep agreed.

And checking the new tracking number with UPS, it showed as "Out for delivery". Ok. Why it would not be delivered with the other five boxes was a bit of a mystery, but let's see how this plays out.

I checked again a few minutes ago. The bowl of toilet number three is now listed as "Delay", with the additional notation that "A required security check has delayed delivery."

What does that mean? The TSA has decided to perform a pat-down search on my toilet bowl?

Enquiring minds would like to know...
17th-Apr-2016 10:29 pm - The Draft Report
For those of you who don't care about my APBA fantasy draft, this report is cut-tagged for your protection. :)
Juicy details inside...Collapse )
16th-Apr-2016 10:48 pm - A Late Delivery
Did I mention that UPS finally delivered my Next Day Air tax package on Friday, only three days late? ;)
16th-Apr-2016 10:43 pm - I Feel a Draft
Tomorrow is our annual APBA baseball draft. For the first time in a long time, it looks like we'll have a full complement of managers, as Lanny is coming back to take over the team that Guth and I have been drafting for and shadow managing for several years now. This is something of a relief, as now no one can grouse about any decisions that we make during the draft for that team.

The good news is that we've managed to put together a fairly impressive starting staff for that team, with Scherzer, Harvey, Salazar, and Fernandez. The bad news is that the position players mostly managed to get injured last year, so there are holes coming back.

But Lanny will, no doubt, find things to do about it. :)

Now if I just knew what I was doing...
16th-Apr-2016 05:11 pm - Crossposting Test
Apparently, a Russian hacker tried to lift my Facebook account earlier today, so this is just a test to make sure that crossposting is still working.
15th-Apr-2016 10:34 pm - Next, We Check Your Sense of Smell
I ended up working unusually late for a Friday night for a variety of reasons, fending off little girls who wanted my attention. The request from Thing 2 was for a new Minecraft mod, so when I finally walked out of the office, I turned and headed to the bedroom where both Thing 1 and Thing 2 were busily playing Minecraft.

And I recoiled in olfactory horror at the smell of poop that permeated the room. The girls suggested that someone had thrown dog poop into the wastebasket in the bathroom, so I handed it to Katie and sent it into exile downstairs to be disposed of.

I walked over to the computer where Julie wanted me to install the new Minecraft mod. The floor protector mat was smeared with material which they told me was mud.

Not so much, as I discovered when I finally got a delivery of paper towels and went to wipe it up.

Apparently, Ruby had escaped upstairs at some point and decided to lay a load right there. Then Julie, setting a new record for oblivious blonde child, proceeded to roll the office chair through it multiple times. This resulted in the casters being clogged with poop, poop smeared all over the mat, bits of poop that had escaped to far distant sections of floor.

I was just a wee bit displeased. "How," I demanded, "can you not notice that you are rolling through dog poop? Have you no sense of smell?"

Katie perkily replied, "I knew I smelled something."

"Then why didn't you do something about it?"

Gretchen came up and we spent about an hour cleaning up the mess with some degree of help from the girls. The casters were set to soak in the sink and were mostly cleaned up, but we have decided to buy a new set of casters anyway, as these are clogged with more fibers than can be removed in any reasonable length of time.

*thud* *thud* *thud*
14th-Apr-2016 11:05 am - The Technicolor Yawn Machine
It must have been some preternatural parental instinct that caused me to head back into the office last night rather than going to bed. I wasted time, read the Internet, read e-mail, and basically didn't go to sleep until -- at about 1:40 AM -- I heard the sound of falling water from outside the office.

Shortly thereafter, I correctly interpreted this as the entire contents of Julie's stomach having decided to depart abruptly the way that it had come in. Oops.

The good news is that she managed to avoid fouling her own bed. The bad news is that Julie was in the top bunk and Katie was in the lower bunk, which is perpendicular to the top bunk, so her bedding got caught by the splatter.

I rousted Gretchen out of bed, then rousted Katie out of bed. Katie retreated to our bed while Gretchen started to get Julie cleaned up and taken care of and I started to clean up the room. Then Gretchen returned and we did more room cleaning, filling two laundry baskets with things that now urgently needed to be washed.

By 2:20 AM, the mess was contained, Julie was feeling somewhat better about it all, the bedding was changed, and both girls were sent back to their own beds. And then Gretchen went back to bed and I joined her.

Happily, Julie seems to be fine this morning.
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