somewhat daily mutterings

/Motorcycling Ride Up High-Grade Road

I took the day off from bicycling today because I'm doing the Elephant Rock bicycle rally tomorrow. Since I didn't bicycle today, I thought that I'd get out on my motorcycle instead. My plan was to get out relatively early while it is still cool, and that I did. I headed out at around 7:00am. The temperature was around 58 degrees, skies were cloudy, and there was a slight breeze. Pretty darn perfect.

I headed up to Deer Creek Canyon Road, which leads to High-Grade Road - a favorite bicycling route. High Grade is, well, steep -- like the name implies. Lots of blind switchbacks, with sand in many places. I was in second gear for a lot of the switchbacks. Once I topped out, the road straighted a bit (bends, rather than sharp corners) and I could open it up. This part was really great. The skies were clearer up on the ridge, and the temperature was perfecto (I was in my heavy armored riding pants, so temperature is very important). After a bit of winding flats, the road heads down into Conifer, and beyond to Evergreen. The descent into Evergreen was enjoyable -- much more so than on my bicycle. Seems like I'm more of a chicken on my bicycle than on my motorcycle (but I am a chicken on my sickle, too).

I decided to ride right through Evergreen without stopping, even though my legs were getting a little stiff and sore. The ride down Bear Creek Canyon was just awesome. I did have cars to the front and back, but the going was never too slow or too fast (for my experience level). In Morrison, I stopped at a favorite cafe and had a cinnamon roll and big bottle of water (I'm not going to be dehydrated for this year's E-Rock like I was last year). I ended up chatting with a bicyclist who was riding on a tricked-out time trial bike with the tiniest cogset that I'd seen in a long time.

From Morrison I headed into Lakewood and dropped into the BMW motorcycle dealership on that side of town. Nothing much of interest there, and it looked like rain, so I headed home with my bladder close to bursting.

Posted: Sat May 31 09:27:50 -0700 2003

/Programming "Late", "Over Budget", Projects?

It appears that Martin Fowler agrees with a long-held belief of mine that, despite industry analysts reports, software projects are almost never truly late or over budget: if the team is working effectively, then projects take about as long as they are supposed to, and cost about what they should. It's unrealistic expections that are to blame. As Fowler says, "Rather than saying that a project is failed because it is late, or has cost overruns - I would argue that it's the estimate that failed."

How many projects have you been on, where the development team comes up with an initial estimate, and the business stakeholders come back with "no, try again", until the estimate fits with the marketing (or other artificial) milestone?

Posted: Fri May 30 09:36:32 -0700 2003

/Music Radiohead Has a New Album Coming Out!

I'm probably late to the party, but there's nothing unusual about that. Hail to the Thief comes out June 10th. I can't wait!

Radiohead: Hail to the Thief

Posted: Wed May 28 10:06:55 -0700 2003

/Music I'm Addicted to the iTunes Music Store

I didn't expect to really love it, especially at 99c per song. But, even though their inventory is missing many of the things I've searched for (Zappa, for one), I'm very much hooked on this service. Being able to browse quickly amongst a lot of different genres and artists and being able to hear 30-second excerpts is such a huge (legal) boon! I've been turned on to a few new (to me) artists just by browsing around: The Bad Plus, Stereolab, and James, to name a few. I've downloaded a few guilty top-40 pleasures -- a couple of Jackson 5ive tunes, The Brothers Johnson's two big hits, and a few Cat Stevens tunes. I've purchased Talking Heads '77, one of their best albums, and a sampling of Clash tunes. All in all, I've downloaded 63 pieces of music. I'm hooked!

Posted: Tue May 27 18:49:48 -0700 2003

/Programming/Java Spring 2003 RMSS, Days Two and Three

Most importantly I won a copy of Erik Hatcher's Ant book. :-)

But seriously, other good stuff happened, too. I attended a good overview of JAAS, which helped to cement the programming and reading I've done. I went to a very good presentation on XPath, (XML technologies are something of which I've managed to maintain a deep ignorance). I re-attended Dave Thomas' talk on Ruby, which served to remind me how nice it would be to program in Ruby full-time.

I also attended James Duncan Davidson's presentation on Objective-C. He did a great job, but I was left well-reminded that reference counting, at least as implemented in O-C, is a thing best left to the computer. I mean, what's the difference between having to remember to explicitly increment and decrement a reference count and having to figure out when to use malloc and free, or to new and delete things? It's all baggage to me. Hell, every project team I've been on has had a hard time just managing to consistently match up close() calls with the creation of JDBC resources. At least with that particular bug, your connection pool gets chewed up pretty quickly and it's obvious what the problem is. Memory leaks (forgetting to decrement a reference) and null pointers (decrementing when you shouldn't) are much worse to deal with. The GUI-wiring stuff in O-C is pretty cool, though, I must say. However, to stick with my crusty attitude here, you can hack together a GUI pretty fast in VB (and I assume C#, etc.), too.

Posted: Sun May 18 20:54:52 -0700 2003

/Meta Weirdest Google Referral Ever!

So, today I look at my Recent Googles Leading to sidebar box and I see this doozy:


It leads to What a weird coincidence.

Posted: Sat May 17 20:07:41 -0700 2003

/Programming/Java Spring 2003 RMSS, Day One

Our team is attending RMSS again, having attended last fall as well. Day one had a couple of high points:

First, Jason Hunter talked about web services from a practical point of view. Sounds like there's a counter-cultural approach to interacting with a web service, called REST, that (gasp) uses standard URL query strings, rather than packing the request into a SOP envelope. Sounds like RSS to me, and I like it. Turns out Amazon offers this flavor of access in addition to SOAP-style access. I'll have to look into it a bit more.

Next, Dave Thomas managed to turn me on to yet another cool technology (the first was the programming lanugage Ruby, which powers this weblog). This time it's "Naked Objects". Apparently some folks have taken a "back to the basics" approach to building object systems by supplying a framework to automagically deal with GUI interactions on the front-end, and persistence interactions on the back-end. You, dear programmer, write the middle -- the good stuff, the business objects, the domain objects -- whatever you want to call it. And that's all you write. Your user interacts directly (sort-of) with your object implementations. The framework he covered is for Java, and relies heavily on reflection to do its magic. Very back-to-the-future for me, since a lot of my background is in analysis modeling, and I was taught that your domain layer should implement the business rules. With "modern" approaches like J2EE the domain layer seems to be spread out over several architectural layers, and gets muddied up with technology concerns. it used to really bother me, but then I got used to it. Dave's talk reminded me that it should probably still bother me.

Actually, the Naked Objects talk took me back for another reason. When I was at Ernst & Young I worked on a number of authoring systems that were meta-model driven. The model of the data managed by the systems was stored along with the data itself. You could easily introduce new "object" types and relationships, and the authoring system would instantly know how to manage their presentation and CRUD operations on instances and associations. These systems being data-management systems, one giant missing link was behavior. That's what Naked Objects gives you. Now, Naked Objects doesn't work off of meta-data in the sense that our authoring systems did, but it's similar -- it's just that the meta data is effectively contained in the Java classes you develop. Add a new object type and the system "knows" how to deal with it. Pretty cool.

Posted: Fri May 16 22:11:26 -0700 2003

/Miscellany Lexington, KY Public Library Clock

the Lexington library has a very cool Focault pendulum clock as its centerpiece. Surrounding the lower atrium are paintings of famous jockeys and champion horses. This isn't the greatest photo, but you get the idea:

Lexington Public Library

Lexington Library's Focault Pendulum Clock

Posted: Thu May 15 06:41:32 -0700 2003

/Computing/Mac iPhoto Challenges

I returned from my TOSRV bike trip with tons of photos and video on my Canon G3. I was really excited to see my stuff, but iPhoto wasn't as into it as I was, apparently. Last night, I spent about an hour trying to get iPhoto to download my photos. I won't go into tons of detail, but I basically figured out (by taking a shot on an empty memory card and downloading it via iPhoto) that the movies on my memory card seemed to be causing a problem for iPhoto when it was trying to download the photos. Once I figured this out, I hacked around until I got the Canon photo utility to "see" the camera (it kept conflicting with iPhoto), then downloaded and deleted the movies. After that, iPhoto worked just fine.

I have to say again, after using it during my KY vacation, I love the Canon G3. Seldom does a product just keep finding ways to delight me the way the G3 does. Every time I take it out to use it, I'm happy that I made this purchase. Bravo Canon!

Posted: Thu May 15 06:26:39 -0700 2003

/Cycling TOSRV 2003 Report

The Tour of the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV) is a bike rally that's been held for more than 40 years. It is an out-and-back ride from Columbus to Portsmouth, OH over a weekend. It's a bit over 100 miles each way. This was my fourth consecutive year (in recent years -- I did it twice in the 80's) riding in TOSRV with my bud Steve. My other bud, Richard, didn't enter this year, due to lack of training, and also due to weather reports.

Richard showed good judgement. This was the worst TOSRV I've ever experienced, weather-wise. We got caught in a storm during the last 15 miles of the second day last year, but that's nothing compared to Saturday this year. Saturday, we got rained on for about 75% of the time, varying from a sprinkle to an all-out downpour. Sunday, we "only" got rained on for 25% of the ride, but we had a strong westerly crosswind that probably gusted to around 25mph. Sunday's ridership was down -- way down. I'd guess that half the participants didn't do the second day. There were times on Sunday where Steve and I couldn't see another cyclist either ahead or behind. It was as if we were doing the ride by ourselves. The rest stops were very sparsely populated, as well.

Despite the crappy weather, we turned in decent averages. We got about 18.7mph on Saturday, and about 18.6mph on Sunday. I'm sure Saturday would have been faster without the rain to add friction. We got in some good pacelines on Saturday, but it wasn't particularly enjoyable, since wheelsucking involved getting a constant stream of dirty road water thrown in your face. Still, it made the ride go faster.

Posted: Thu May 15 06:20:54 -0700 2003

/Computing/Sun Now I Know Why It's Called a "Hard" Drive

I purchased an old SCSI drive for my Sparc 10 (named, quite inventively, "sparky") off of eBay. Now, I've installed hard drives before (on PCs), and it's never been a problem. But this time it's very hard. I'm not sure why, but I can't seem to get the drive formatted to Solaris' satisfaction, even after posting a query to the Suns-at-home mailing list. After some Google research, I'm leaning toward the belief that the drive is fried. At least I only paid $8 for it. The big bummer is that until I get a drive installed I can't install the new pair of super-groovy Bridgeport 125mhz processors that I also bought on eBay.

Posted: Wed May 07 09:00:28 -0700 2003

/Computing/Mac Must ... Have ... iBook!

I have a real hankering for an iBook. I'm not asking for much - a 12" 700mhz would do the trick just fine (even though the most current models are 800 and 900mhz). I mainly want something wireless, and bigger than my Zaurus, to kick back with around the house. I've been hanging out on eBay to get a feel for what kind of deal I can expect for a lightly-used model. It's looking as though I should be able to get into one, nicely equipped, for around $850-1000. Such a better deal than the $3000 I paid for my old Dell 266mhz laptop five years ago.

Posted: Wed May 07 08:53:10 -0700 2003

/Cycling Prepped for TOSRV

OK, my bags are packed, my legs are ripped (sort-of), and I'm ready for two 100-mile days of cycling in Ohio (sort-of). Actually, I'm not feeling too peppy this year, and it looks like nothing but rain in both KY and OH, so it's hard to be excited about doing TOSRV this time around. I am looking forward to visiting with my friends, though.

Posted: Wed May 07 08:45:11 -0700 2003

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