Bill Roper's Journal
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I have to pack out the surfaces in the office now so that the painters can come in here tomorrow and get at it. Our bedroom is underway, which is not a huge problem, since the bed is available to us, except that the bathroom has been filled with things.

I think I'm going to have to do something about that.

1st-Jun-2015 10:31 pm - The Wabash March
We've got four days of meetings in the Loop this week, which means that I can either pay for the shuttle bus (which is cheap) or I can walk the mile or so across the Loop. If the weather doesn't suck (which it didn't), I usually choose to walk and so I did.

I am now rather more sore than this amount of exercise justifies. Of course, I was also markedly short on sleep, having to get up an hour or more earlier than I'm used to and on a Monday.

This excursion did remind me of why I work from home. In order to spend eight hours in the office (including time spent on lunch), I had to leave home at 7:15 and didn't make it back until 5:55. It was 75 minutes in; 85 minutes home.

On the other hand, I read 137 pages of the book I snagged for the commute this week.
31st-May-2015 10:22 pm - Chaos. Just Chaos Today.
The girls' bedroom is now prepared for the painters on Monday and the girls are sleeping downstairs in the library to ensure that it stays that way. :) The master bedroom is almost prepped.

The office is a wreck -- a better wreck, but still a wreck.

And I have four days of meetings in the Loop starting in the morning.

30th-May-2015 11:46 pm - All the Colors Of You
So we've hired folks to paint the house. They painted the guest bedroom, as we were able to come to a quick conclusion about the color there. (All colors, for the purposes of this discussion and for those playing along at home, are from the Benjamin Moore color chart.) We picked 2022-40, Banana Yellow, which turns out to be really, really bright yellow. We are, however, confident that there will be survivors. And Minions. (Ba-NA-na!) :)

We promised to reach conclusions about the other colors over the weekend so that they can proceed on Monday with other rooms. Happily, Home Depot can produce sample pots of the Benjamin Moore colors. We had picked out a yellow (2023-40, Sunburst) for the dining room that we tried on Friday and pronounced an exceedingly bad idea, but had considered HC-4, Hawthorne Yellow. However, Julie objected strongly to painting the dining room any color but green. Or to painting her room any color other than the one that it is now. The latter did not please Katie who is, well, far less resistant to change than Julie is. And far more into purple.

To keep the peace, I promised each girl that they could pick out a color pot to take home. Katie chose 2071-40, Crocus Petal Purple. Julie chose 2065-40, Utah Sky. Neither of these colors survived testing on the wall, being way too dark.

Meanwhile, the family room and hallway that we'd originally considered painting white got a trial with 2041-70, Irish Mint, which turns out to be a lovely pale green that should keep things pretty light and airy in the narrow hallway and the back of the house. So that looks like a winner.

We set out to paint the living room with 2066-40, Rocky Mountain Sky, with the one wall that extends to the second floor hallway in the lighter shade of 2066-50, True Blue. And we tried out 2043-40, Egyptian Green, in the dining room.

It turns out that large spaces in our house painted in anything ending in a 40 tend to be just a bit overwhelming. This held true with the 2060-40, Toronto Blue, that we tried out in the master bedroom.

On the other hand, the 2060-60, Turquoise Haze, that I tried for the office looked pretty good, as did the 2065-60, Caribbean Coast, in the girls' bedroom. (And it didn't make Julie scream, which was a plus.)

So back to Home Depot I went, collecting four more samples.

We tried out the new 2066-60, Honolulu Blue, on the living room wall that extends to the upstairs hall and the lighter 2066-50, True Blue, in the rest of the living room. Gretchen (accurately) pronounced the Honolulu Blue to be too wimpy for the job, so we're planning to paint the whole room in the True Blue, extending upstairs to the hallway. We are still considering painting the high wall across from the window above the dining room in the Rocky Mountain Blue, but haven't yet decided whether this is a sane idea or not.

The dining room got treated with 2043-50, South Beach, as well as 2041-50, Sea Mist Green, which I picked up to see if it complemented the similar color in the family room and hallway. I tended to think so, but I think I'm getting outvoted for South Beach, which was Katie's original pick that Gretchen prefers.

Upstairs, I got 2060-50, Cayman Blue, to try in the master bedroom and possibly the office. It seems to be a good choice for the bedroom, but the office seems to be happier with the lighter shade.

Today, of course, was a dark and gloomy day. Tomorrow, there should be some sunshine.

We'll see how all the sample walls look then. :)
29th-May-2015 11:03 pm - Long Day
We got up early to go to the volunteers' appreciation breakfast over at Katie and Julie's school. Gretchen, especially, felt like we hadn't done that much volunteering, but we'd been invited and they were happy to see us, so it was all good. :)

This also allowed us to let the contractors in to continue work on the house. The guest bedroom is mostly complete. Over the weekend, we'll prep the rest of the upstairs so that they can just move furniture around and get the painting done without too much trouble.

We're still working on selecting paint colors. I have proposed that we get the green off the walls in the office and the dining room and turn the place into a "Cub Scout" color scheme -- that is, blue and gold, or at least some collection of variants of blue and yellow. (Not counting the white family room and downstairs hallway.) This has produced some resistance from Julie, who is not thrilled about the concept of change, although she has conceded that I can paint the office blue.

The current plan is to paint the rooms that get more light darker colors, while the less well-lit rooms get lighter shades. It's a good theory. :) In the meantime, we picked up one paint sample today and determined that it was way too yellow for the dining room. I mean, way too yellow...

Tomorrow, we'll get samples for all of the colors and see if we continue to like them after they hit the target walls.

Katie is lobbying to paint the girls' shared room purple. On the other hand, she's also lobbying to take over the guest bedroom for her regular use, so Julie really ought to have the say about the room they're currently in. And Julie, resistant to change, wants blue. The same shade of blue, if at all possible.

We'll see how this goes...
28th-May-2015 10:59 pm - Chaos and Confusion
From the Department of Things That Needed Doing, So Let's Just Get It Over With:

We have engaged a contractor to fix the ceiling where the roof leaked and repaint there. As long as we're having that bit of drywall patched, we might as well have the rest of the drywall patched in that room. And we can remove the fluorescent fixture in the kitchen that Gretchen refers to as "a showcase for dead bugs" and replace it with an island light and LED cans.

And as long as that's going on, we might as well get the rest of the drywall damage fixed and those walls painted.

Oh, heck. Let's just repaint the whole interior. And the exterior trim paint is shot too.

May as well get the floors resanded and refinished too, as they've suffered greatly.

This project started very abruptly. As in "today".

We are now prepping the second floor, as they'll be starting work upstairs tomorrow after finishing that exterior trim (and adjusting the pitch on the gutters to discourage them from dropping rainwater into the drywall). All of the paintings on the upstairs walls have been removed and carted off to the basement for temporary storage. The guest bedroom is pretty much ready to go.

Over the weekend, we can beat the other three bedrooms into submission.

And I dumped a lot of paper from the office into the recycling bin today.

27th-May-2015 11:55 pm - An Unexpected Appearance
I had not expected to be on TV tonight when I headed down to Wrigley Field with one of my baseball buddies. But the Black Hawks were playing a vital game 6 tonight and my buddy's cousin was at the game with some of his friends who decided to head over to one of the local bars to watch the rest of the hockey game, leaving us their tickets to use.

In the third row, directly behind home plate.

So if you take a look at the highlights of tonight's Cubs game (which were largely Nationals highlights), you may see a large fellow in a blue shirt who looks just a wee bit familiar sitting behind home plate.

Well, that was cool. :)
26th-May-2015 10:42 pm - Mirror, Mirror
I needed to reboot the studio computer for one reason or another on Sunday. As it came back up from the reboot, I saw the message indicating that one of the drives in the RAID mirror had failed. This is what we call a Bad Thing (TM).

I figured that if one drive had gone, the other drive was now a ticking time bomb, so I copied the entire musical contents of the drive (something on the close order of 300 MB) off to the NAS drive upstairs. Then I went on Amazon and ordered a new pair of hard drives with "same day delivery", which in this case meant that I would get them on Tuesday. Fortunately, this only cost $5.99 on top of Amazon Prime, so it was actually a much better deal than trying to get them from most anywhere else.

The pair arrived this afternoon and I strapped one of them in to replace the failed drive. The rebuild of the mirrored pair is now up to 97% complete, so it should finish by morning. Then I can strap in the other new drive to replace the working (but possibly ticking time bomb) drive and let it rebuild the RAID mirror again.

And then I can get back to it. :)
25th-May-2015 10:51 pm - Ba-NA-Na
My birthday present from Katie and Julie, Stuart the Minion, is now sitting on my desk with his little guitar. He will eventually find a slightly different place to sit, but this will do for now. :)
24th-May-2015 10:56 pm - Let It Ride
Katie and Julie wanted to go to the carnival today, but the weather was distinctly threatening. On the other hand, the forecast for tomorrow was distinctly hopeless. After lunch, we ended up rolling by the site to see what their opinion of the weather was. They were open, so despite the occasional raindrop, we decided to chance it. It also helped that from 1-5, you could buy each girl a bracelet that was good for unlimited rides.

They rode. A lot.

It didn't rain more than a few drops until nearly 4 PM when it got serious about the whole rain thing, at which point the girls had done enough riding to be bundled back into the car.

We'll count this as a success.
23rd-May-2015 11:33 pm - Change of Plans
Thanks to everyone for the lovely birthday wishes!

For my birthday, we had planned to head out to Red Robin for lunch, after which Katie and Julie would take me over to Build-A-Bear Workshop and buy me a stuffed minion for my office. (Because, seriously, I need a minion.) Later in the day, samwinolj, Bonnie, and Jerry would come over and we would grill some sausages.

This plan did not survive contact with the enemy. Mostly because the enemy arrived yesterday.

daisy_knotwise spent yesterday in bed, absolutely miserable with a sore throat and congestion. Julie had had a minor sore throat yesterday morning that progressed to a major sore throat by yesterday night, so the kiddie ibuprofen came out.

Katie just decided to stay up late. *sigh* What else is new?

Anyway, Gretchen decided the better part of valor was to make appointments for her and Julie at the nearby Walgreeens clinic. Sadly, the appointments were an hour and a half apart, so Gretchen went up first to get her strep test (she passed and was given the requisite antibiotics). Then I took Julie for her strep test -- also positive -- and got her some Zithromax liquid, because she had the massive amoxycillin rash a few years ago.

Everyone is feeling much better now -- not well exactly, but much better.

But we canceled the Red Robin trip and called our friends off, figuring that strep was a gift they would prefer not to share.

This made it a rather relaxed day. Which, you know, wasn't a bad thing. :)
22nd-May-2015 06:34 pm - Mr. Washington Goes to China
When we left off, our hero was contemplating the problem of George Washington's Computer and its stubborn refusal to burn DVDs using the software that he was using. The original camcorder software from Panasonic simply refused to play along when it got to the disk burning stage. The trial copy of Sony Movie Studio Platinum was giddily crashing the entire system and causing it to reboot without human intervention or even the courtesy of a Blue Screen of Death.

A truly clever person might have figured out how to put the trial version of Sony Movie Studio Platinum on the studio computer in the basement, which is running the 64-bit version of Windows 7 with more RAM than George Washington's Computer can even address, and see if it was possible to burn a DVD there. But it was getting late and I was not that clever.

Instead, I went browsing again and found some trial software from Wondershare, a Chinese company, and figured why not try it?

Well, it turns out that their trial software burns the DVD with a ginormous watermark. But it did, however, burn the DVD.

So I paid the $40 and bought it. Because, as Gretchen cogently pointed out, $40 is a heckuva lot cheaper than $1600, which is what I would spend building a new machine. :)

Remarkably, although I made a purchase with my Discover Card from a Chinese company late last night, I have not yet been contacted by Discover Fraud Prevention.


And, having paid for and registered the software, I was able to burn some DVDs without watermarks.

Which is good.

So George's computer will be around for a while longer.
21st-May-2015 10:22 pm - Yours, G. Washington
George Washington's Computer is now seven years old and stubbornly refusing to burn a DVD. This is being really annoying.

The problem is that I'm running out of things to change out that aren't going to be either really expensive or really annoying. Swapping the motherboard is enough of an operation that I might as well build a new computer. It's possible that there's a memory problem, so I could try replacing the RAM, but that's a moderate amount of expense with no guarantee of success. Upgrading to a 64-bit OS (and presumably adding more RAM) would require reinstalling all of the software.

Building out a new computer to my current specs would cost about $1600. And then I would have to build it and reinstall all of the software from the original disks. And it would take a good bit of time.

Time to think about this some more...
20th-May-2015 04:13 pm - We Didn't Start the Fire
Or perhaps that should be "Burn, Baby, Burn!"

On Monday, I finally got my act together, grabbed the video camera and set out to burn a couple of things to DVD. There's the SpaceTime Theater show from Capricon that Greg has been waiting patiently for the last several months. There's also the evening performance of "Barnyard Moosical" from the girls' school where the planned recording effort failed dismally and they've been looking for someone who got a good take of it. Well, we knew the recording was good (other than the bits of "starring Katie and Julie" where I zoomed in which they'll just have to live with :) ), so it was just a matter of burning it to a DVD.

I transferred all of the files from the SD card in the camera to the computer's hard disk. This took a while.

And I figured I'd take a run at the school musical first. So I set it up to copy and burn. It made the disk image for copying --

And then hung.

*grumble* *grumble* Well, that was 45 minutes shot to heck. Let me try that again.

This time, it reported out that it was unable to write the DVD.

Oh. The player had been reading CDs fine, but that was no reason to believe that the burner was actually working, this being George Washington's Computer and the burner being one of the original parts from 2008.

Rather than mess around with it, I figured I'd just order a replacement. In fact, I could order a Blu-Ray player/burner, since they had become both available and relatively cheap since 2008. I found a likely one on NewEgg where I would have had to pay for three day shipping and it might have gotten here by the weekend.

And then I found the same model on Amazon for a dollar cheaper with Prime shipping which meant that I could have it today for less.

I voted for "today for less".

The new drive is now installed in the machine, an operation that took less than fifteen minutes.

We'll see how it does.
19th-May-2015 10:17 pm - Minecraft Mania
I am getting powerfully tired of Minecraft.

I have installed it on both of the computers in the bedroom -- the one that is theoretically Gretchen's and the one that theoretically belongs to the girls. This did not prevent fighting and sobbing tonight when Julie accused Katie of taking the computer that she had set up. Then I was told that Minecraft wouldn't start on the other computer.

Which is true, I suppose, if you don't press the "Play" button.

I threatened to impose severe Minecraft restrictions which provoked more tears and hysteria.


Well, we'll deal with it...
18th-May-2015 06:28 pm - Unprintably Yours
I have now run into the same bug in Visual Studio 2010 that one of my coworkers did.

Visual Studio 2010 randomly -- and frequently! -- shuts down and restarts.

Will it crash when solution loads?

Yes, it will crash when solution loads.

Will it crash when I compile?

Yes, it will crash when you compile.

Will it crash when I debug?

Yes, it will crash when you debug.

It will not load, debug, compile.

It is a steaming, stinking pile.

Can Microsoft Support help you?

My friend tried, but they couldn't do

A single thing to fix this mess,

They spent a week, no more, no less

And threw their hands up in despair.

They cannot fix this anywhere.

No, it will crash, this stinking toad.

Perhaps if Windows you reload

The problem just might go away.

Who knows? Who knows? And who can say?
17th-May-2015 04:24 pm - Mixology
After having left the new speakers playing "The Chain" all during Marcon to break them in -- which would have caused Gretchen to break me in, were she not more tolerant than many -- I have finally gotten a chance to get down into the basement and try them out on some of the actual mixes for The Grim Roper.

The good news is that they appear to be working as designed. This means that I will get very few surprises -- I hope! -- when I take the resulting mix out for a truck test. It also means that I can hear and make adjustments more easily for some of the pathologies that I've been dealing with across the various mixes.

I am also developing a distinct fondness for the Brainworx EQ package, which is allowing me to do some surgery on tracks that need it. Part of the attraction is that the tool is well designed to allow me to say "There! That is the sound that I want to get out of the mix!" and then adjust the EQ to minimize it. :)

Thus, progress is being made.

One track at a time.
Many years ago, my mom and dad took me to the music store in Belleville. There, I picked out a red Gibson Melody Maker guitar and started two years of guitar lessons with Mr. Masloski. I learned a few things, the most useful of which -- other than the general ability to figure out where to put my fingers on the frets! -- was picking up the Chet Atkins style of fingerpicking from his beginners' books on the subject.

After we moved to Guam, my amplifier failed and I ended up putting the guitar down for many years until roughly my junior year of high school when Sam moved in next door. He also played guitar and had a working amplifier. We spent a good amount of time at his place plugged in and playing together very badly. :) But I was playing again.

Not too long after that, we traded in the Gibson on an Epiphone six-string acoustic which (happily!) did not require an amplifier. This gave me many more options for playing and I started picking up music books: Beatles Complete, The Songs of Paul Simon, America Complete, the complete Jim Croce collection. I learned a lot about playing guitar from playing those songs and songs from other collections that I snagged. (It was many years later that I finally realized that the reason that I couldn't make my fingerpicking sound like Jim Croce's was because there were two guitarists. Humph. I learned a lot by trying though. :) )

And I found filking, which taught me more about playing guitar (with thanks to Wulf and Barry) and showed me that I really could write my own music.

Thanks all!
15th-May-2015 06:38 pm - Go, Speed Racer!
There are still some bugs to work out with my Open XML implementation, to be sure. However, it was taking about 80 to 90 seconds to open the entity with the 10,000 line report in the old code base. It's now taking 43 seconds. Of that 43 seconds, about 15 seconds is retrieving the big chunk of XML that describes the data values that need to be updated on the 10,000 line report. The actual update with Open XML takes 4 seconds.

This is looking promising if we can shake the bugs out. :)
14th-May-2015 07:26 pm - Bug Fest
After a lot of messing around and reading of documentation, my Open XML code seems to be working, based on what I see when I open up the resulting XLSX file and export the individual XML chunks.

Visual Studio 2010 is randomly shutting down for no apparent reason and other bits of our software appear not to be working correctly, but the Open XML code seems to be working.

I hope it is more than "seems".
13th-May-2015 02:50 pm - It's a Beautiful Day For a Ballgame
I'm heading down to Wrigley tonight with samwinolj for my second baseball game of the season, one having been rained out and another that I just didn't go to due to being under the weather myself and the fact that it was going to be really, really cold.

It's only supposed to be one level of cold tonight. We'll see how that turns out. :)
12th-May-2015 10:16 pm - One of Those Days
Today, very little went according to plan.

We'll see how tomorrow goes.
Back from Marcon and back to work.

So before I left, I was having a deep and abiding problem getting Microsoft's Open XML toolkit to work with a MemoryStream, because the MemoryStream couldn't be resized, nor could I find a way to get the resulting changes to the document written out to a disk file. This was after reading every bit of documentation I could find.

Today, it seems that my Google-fu turned back on, because I found the sample code that:

  • Explained how you could get a resizeable MemoryStream by creating an empty one and then copying the byte array of data into it.
  • Showed how you could call MemoryStream.WriteTo to send the resulting document to a FileStream.

    *thud* *thud* *thud*

    This should not have been this hard to find.
  • 10th-May-2015 12:46 pm - Tardis In a Corset
    It sounds like some sort of Whovian / Victorian / Steampunkish expletive, but it was actually a costume that I just saw pass by the table here at Marcon.

    "Tardis in a corset, Bertie! What on Earth were you thinking?"
    10th-May-2015 09:17 am - Go Filk
    It was a lovely filk last night.

    I need to remember that, because this morning is way too early. :)
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