somewhat daily mutterings

/Cycling Ride up the Highline Canal Trail

I was feeling a little better this morning, so I decided to get out for a little fresh air on my mountain bike. I only rode 10-15 miles out-and-back on the Highline Canal Trail, but it was enough to give me some exercise (and a goathead-administered flat tire). While I was out, I took the opportunity to refresh the log sheets of a couple of my micro-caches that I'd been neglecting. Also, since I was just going on a relaxed ride, I took my camera and snapped the shots below.

I know I'm not 100% yet, since I was pretty darn tired at the end of this ride.

Husk of Fallen Tree

Highline Landscape

Highline Landscape

Posted: Sun Aug 24 14:39:26 -0700 2003

/Miscellany West Nile (?) Update

Went to the doctor's office today to give a blood sample. Hopefully the blood test will turn up something certain. I went to work afterward, since I wasn't feeling too crappy. Still lightheaded as hell, though. Left work at 2:45 or so.

Posted: Fri Aug 22 13:49:17 -0700 2003

/Miscellany Site Re-styled

While I've been recuperating from my sickness (how I feel varies a lot), I've been restyling my weblog. I totally re-did the page structure to make better use of CSS (not that you'd notice by looking), and to convert to a three-column layout. Although I hate to admit it, I'm still relying on a table for the columnar layout. However, it's the only table in the layout now (I converted to 'div' tags, and other, better structural elements), and it's a dirt-simple 1x3 table. My templates are so very simple now that it boggles the mind.

Along with the restructuring, I developed a new CSS from the ground up, but the look-n-feel changes are subtle. I'm not super-happy with this design but at least it's a little fresh. I have a copy of Macromedia Fireworks on the way (my very favorite graphics package ever), so I hope to give the site a little more "pop" before too long.

Posted: Thu Aug 21 10:15:35 -0700 2003

/Miscellany More on my Possible West Nile Virus Condition

My last weblog entry mentioned that I might have the West Nile Virus. I'm even more sure of it today. Here's a recent chronology, since Sunday:

  • Today. Got up fairly early, thinking I might go to work. Went for a low-intensity walk with MB and Jake, and felt pretty tired afterwards. Resting after the walk, I noticed that I had a light rash on my right thigh. MB and I decided to check my chest again, and sure enough, I have an obvious (but still light) rash on my chest and sides. Tiny little red dots all over. I seem to be especially light-headed today. Bummer. Decided to stay home again. I called the Dr. to update my case.
  • Wednesday. Slept in, and felt really crappy when I got up, and my right eye was just a litle "stiff" feeling for a while. Didn't go to work. Had super-low energy, but felt better after eating. Napped again mid-day. MB thought she could detect a slight rash on my shoulders and chest but I didn't really see it. Felt better toward the end of the day, and really pretty decent by the time I went to bed.
  • Tuesday. Slept in late, and felt crappy when I got up. Didn't go to work. Scheduled a Dr's appointment for late afternoon. Took a couple of naps during the day. When I went to the Dr's I felt basically OK. He didn't shed a lot of light on things. He theorized a sinus infection starting, and when I asked about West Nile Virus he didn't rule it out. He just said to let him know about any changes.
  • Monday. Felt basically OK in the morning, but by noontime, I was certain I was getting a nasty head cold. Had all the classic symptoms (for me): tired, "thick" throat, eyes burning, etc. Went home at 4:00 and felt really crappy until around 9:00pm, when all of a sudden I felt pretty decent.


All this started Saturday morning, August 2nd, when I noticed I was a little light-headed, and my right eye was sore when moved to the extreme left or right. Since then I have had a mild case of light-headedness a good percentage of the time, with varying degrees of tiredness. I didn't ride my bike Sunday, August 3rd, because I just didn't feel up to it and didn't want to put contacts in with my eye feeling odd. I also skipped my Monday commute to work. By Tuesday, my eye felt basically OK. I resumed my normal cycling schedule, with no ill effects, up until last Sunday.

One of the odder things that has been around since all this started a couple of weeks ago is a "flash" that occurs in my right eye when it's dark and/or my eyes are closed, and I move my eyes to the leftmost extreme, say to look at my alarm clock. The flash is located where normally I'd see the circular outline of my optic nerve. This was most obvious when my right eye first became sore a couple of weeks ago - I could recreate it at will (at night, anyway). After the first day or so, though, it seems to only happen if I've been asleep for a while, and then only the first time I move my eyes. After that, I see the normal outline of the optic nerve at the extremes.

Posted: Thu Aug 21 09:34:28 -0700 2003

/Miscellany West Nile Virus Infection?

For the past couple of weeks I've had various head cold, or flu-like symptoms - dizzyness, headache, sore eyes, earache, etc. It has come and gone, but over the past few days has intensified. Yesterday, before lunchtime I felt pretty bad, but was OK in the afternoon. Today I felt basically OK in the morning, but pretty crappy after my traditional 41-mile bike ride (during which I took it pretty easy). The odd thing is, MB and my cycling buddy Brian both have had similar symptoms. Some research that MB has done makes me wonder if we have West Nile, but it would be just too weird if we all had it at once. Maybe we really all just have some sort of head cold.

Posted: Sun Aug 17 16:46:15 -0700 2003

/Computing CVS Server Set Up at Home

I've been working on my weblog engine, gemcast, for some time now, and doing so without any version control whatsoever (other than backups). It's worked out fine so far, but now I've got the iBook in addition to my G4 desktop and I really need to be able to work from either machine. I recently set up both machines as web development environments, with identical configurations (previously, I was pushing changes to a test instance of gemcast on my production web server). Even though each machine is now set up to do development, to switch between the different machines without version control would be insane. So, I made up my mind to set up a CVS repository for development.

I've used CVS on several projects, but always in "local" mode, where all the developer accounts are local to the CVS repository. In this case, I have two development boxes, neither of which can really hold the CVS repository because that box would have to be on in order to access it from the other box. Therefore, I decided to set up one of my Sun boxen as the CVS repository "server". This was actually pretty simple -- no daemon process or init scripting involved!

Here's how I did it:

  • I installed CVS using the normal configure/make routine. I then set up a CVS user on my sun box, and initialized a repository in that user's home directory.
  • I decided to use the 'rsh' style of remote CVS access because it's pretty simple. I just had to put an .rhosts file in the cvs user's home directory on the Sun box, containing the machine names and users (my two Macs, and my normal login user) to which I'm allowing rsh access. I tested a couple of rsh commands to ensure that it was working.
  • Now that I had rsh access, I could run CVS. CVS has a syntax for rsh-style access, but it's not something I want to type very often, so I wrote myself a script like so:
    export CVS_SERVER=/usr/local/bin/cvs
    cvs -d :ext:cvs@buzz:/export/home/cvs/repo $*
    The first line is essentially a "remote path" to let the local CVS know where the remote CVS is located. The second line is the ugly rsh CVS command line.
  • I imported the gemcast code from my PowerMac desktop to the CVS repository with the normal CVS syntax:
    cvsbuzz import gemcast start r1_0
    ('cvsbuzz' is the name I gave my script). CVS imported the module without drama, and I was ready to rock with 'cvs checkout' on both Macs.
  • I finished up by setting up an NFS share for the cvs home directory, creating a mountpoint on the PowerMac, and writing a backup script that pulls the CVS repository over to the PowerMac as a .tar.gz file. My backup scripts are scheduled in cron, and put their output in a /data/backup directory that is included in the OS X Backup utility's list of directories. Every few weeks I do a full backup to CD-ROM. Even though I don't run backups that often, with the storage redundancy my code is pretty safe.

Posted: Mon Aug 11 21:31:44 -0700 2003

/Computing Latest Java Benchmark (including new PowerBook)

Every time I get hold of a new machine, I run my cheesy, non-scientific Java benchmark on it and put the results in a file that I keep. I've got a decent selection of platforms now. Here's the latest:

Int     Double  String  IO      Total   Platform
-----   ------  ------  -----   ------  -----------------------------------------------------
0.632   1.092   2.048   0.655   4.427   Sun Ultra 10/440 (128M RAM, Java 1.2.1)
0.104   0.726   3.507   0.516   4.853   Apple Macintosh G4 (dual 877mhz, 512M, Java 1.4.1)
0.549   1.425   2.753   0.67    5.397   Sun Ultra 5/400 (128M RAM, Java 1.3)
0.16    2.31    3.07    0.33    5.87    P700 Desktop, 256M, Java 1.3
0.266   3.547   3.719   0.515   8.047   Gateway E5200 (Dual PIII 450, 128 Megs RAM, Java 1.3)
1.102   2.86    3.296   1.15    8.408   Ultra 1 200E, 256M, Java 1.2.1
0.157   1.14    6.557   0.767   8.621   Apple PowerBook 550 (256M RAM, Java 1.4.1)
0.261   0.982   7.687   0.588   9.518   Apple iBook 900 (640M RAM, Java 1.4.1)
0.07    0.06    10.065  2.423   12.618  P600 Celeron Laptop, 256M, Java 1.2.2
4.825   19.903  1.439   0.89    27.057  HP 9000/800/N4000 2x440, 4G (under heavy load)
2.207   5.423   22.302  4.305   34.24   Sparc 10 (2x50mhz), 128M, Java 1.2
0.895   18.134  62.011  3.782   84.822  Sharp Zaurus SL-5500, Jeode VM

(sorted by Total, lower numbers better)

Note that the Total can be swayed greatly by just one test, for example, the numeric benchmarks on the HP 9000 and the String performance on the Macs.

Posted: Wed Aug 06 06:25:27 -0700 2003

/Computing/Mac "New" PowerBook in the Family

Yesterday, we received the PowerBook I bought off eBay for MB. It's a 550mhz (second generation) PB with the AirPort card already installed. It is in essentially perfect condition, which is really great. I spent a few hours last night installing software and pulling our Quicken files over to it from the Dell (what a pain). The machine is so elegant I almost wish it was mine, but I still love the tinyness and portability of my iBook, so I'll stick with that.

Posted: Wed Aug 06 06:18:17 -0700 2003

/Programming WebflowDoc Rolled Out

A coworker of mine at BEA and I submitted a utility called WebflowDoc to the BEA Dev2Dev site last week. It's basically JavaDoc for WebLogic Portal webflows. In our humble opinion, this is a must-have utility for documenting and researching your Portal 4.0 and Platform 7.0 webflows. It's now available for download from Dev2Dev.

Posted: Mon Aug 04 15:23:15 -0700 2003

/Computing I Finally Have a Print Server!

Although I don't really print much, it's been frustrating not being able to print from my Macs and Unix boxen to my HP DeskJet 882C color printer. A couple weeks ago, I finally got around to buying a print server, and today I finally got around to installing it. Although I was ultimately successful, I ran into a few SNAFUs, so I thought I'd cover them here.

The Print Server

I bought a Hawking Technology H-PS1U USB print server. It's tiny -- about 2" square. It has a power port, an ethernet port, and a USB port, and a couple of status lights. That's it. Luckily it has a web interface, so you don't really require a Windows machine to configure it. I used 'arp' to gain access to it as follows:
arp -s aa:bb:cc:dd:ee:ff
# where aa:bb... is the MAC address of the H-PS1U,
# which is on the bar-code label pasted on the unit
(I got that bit of knowledge from the August 2003 MacWorld). Once the IP address was mapped, I could access the print server at and finish configuring its IP settings.

Windows Configuration

My wife is the tree-killer of the family, so I had to ensure that Windows printing worked before doing anything else. After a few (OK, a lot of) false starts, I found the Hawking Users Manual PDF file on the CD-ROM (the printed one is worthless). I followed the instructions there to configure a network-bound LPT port on the Windows box. From there, it was easy, and it worked fine in a few minutes.

Mac Configuration

Mac configuration was a bit more problematic, but not super-painful. I'm ignorant of both Mac and Unix print subsystem operation, so this was a real learning experience. Anyway, the MacWorld article mentioned that gimp-print and GhostScript would be necessary, so I downloaded and installed them.

The gimp-print users guide led me to believe that a) there would be a driver for my printer, and b) I'd be able to pick it from the Print Center's setup menus. Wrong on both counts. I ended up using the web-based CUPS setup because of this. It turned out to be super simple, after some trial and error. In CUPS I created an LPD printer (also based on trial-and-error) pointed to lpd:// I had many more drivers to choose from in CUPS than I did in Print Center, but I still couldn't find one for the 882C. So I used trial-and-error until I found a driver that was close enough (810C). This technique involved wasting a lot of paper on test prints until I got good-looking output.

Posted: Sun Aug 03 15:31:48 -0700 2003

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