February 2004

It started with the idea of replacing our 12 year old (hideously cat vomit-stained) carpet. After searching for a while, Rochelle finally found a great carpet that should be durable and look terrific. (Rumors that we color-matched against current stains can neither be confirmed nor denied.) But then, the real scope of the project became, if not clear, at least a topic of discussion. We would need to paint all three rooms that were getting the new carpet. And the hallway.

This past weekend was phase 1 of what will surely be a 5+ phase project. Colors were chosen, paint and tools acquired. Rochelle took Friday off, and we emptied our bedroom, and started prepping the walls. Which led to the second unfortunate discovery, that the wallpaper under the paint was sagging and bulging in places, and basically came off like peeling a bad sunburn. Three hours later, we had stripped off two of the four layers from half the bedroom, and sensibly called a halt to further destruction.

(Side note: the first unfortunate discovery came weeks earlier, when Rochelle went to start stripping off the wallpaper, and discovered she was peeling the paper off the front of the sheetrock that had replaced one wall. After she’d peeled half the wall. We became convinced there was no wallpaper in the room. We were wrong. The only place without wallpaper was where Rochelle started peeling. Unfortunate discoveries are a part of home improvements if your home is a Victorian…)

Saturday David arrived, took charge, and made us start painting what we could. Nothing is more motivating than seeing fresh paint on your ceiling and walls, and we got a lot done (while also going through three bottles and one magnum of sparkling wine).

Sunday, supposed to be the last day, it was back to the damaged walls. Lots of Fix-It-All and sanding. And dust. Lots of dust. This was a lot of work, and while we put a second coat on the ceiling and picture rail, and a first coat on one wall (which looked terrible, because we stupidly decided not to take off the last layer of wallpaper), we didn’t paint much.

Monday Rochelle went back to work, and I finished stripping walls, and then painted like crazy. Finally the room was starting to look good again. Tuesday saw the “final” coats of paint, followed by some hole patching, that will require, you guessed it, another coat of paint. I am very, very tired of painting.

Tomorrow I’ll paint one last time, one wall and some touching up, and tomorrow night, barring more unfortunate discoveries, we’ll move our bed back into the room, which should make the cats, if not happy, on the road to happy. (Ironically, the cats have not been taking the project well. Billie was so stressed out the first night that she, you guessed it, puked on the floor.)

Then it’s on to the parlor and office, both of which are bigger than the bedroom.

I think 2004 is going to be the Year of Paint.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

20 pounds!

by Michael Alderete on 2/11/2004

I hit my peak weight of 208 pounds last fall. The photos of me from our trip to Tequila are painful to look at. Between us, Rochelle and I have gained more than 60 pounds since we met each other. At the end of last year, we resolved to do something about it.

Today, after about six weeks of more moderate and healthy eating, I weigh 188. I’ve lost 20 pounds! (However, looking in the mirror, I either need to hit the weight machines at the gym really hard, or lose another 10 pounds.)

I’ve been fairly successful by concentrating on a few things:

  • Eat far less processed food (and we’ve cooked a lot at home to achieve this).
  • Minimal carb intake (but not Atkins-style meat/fat gluttony).
  • Don’t drink alcohol during the week (and beer is right out, at all times).

I came to these by combining advice from David, our friend who has lost over 100 pounds, on his own plan that is basically “No Processed Foods!”, and the Phase 1 and Phase 2 food guidance from the South Beach Diet (which is a lot more healthy than Atkins, and not bad at all for a fad diet).

All things considered, my “diet” hasn’t been that painful. I’ve gorged myself on pizza twice (once for the Super Bowl, once for the Duke-North Carolina game), eaten well most of the time, and certainly gone drinking plenty often. A little more exercise wouldn’t be a bad thing, though…

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

iDVD rocks

by Michael Alderete on 2/11/2004

Last week we had a reunion of our group that went to Tequila, to tour the region and visit the fabricas that make the distilled spirit we love so much. Actually, as Martha described it the next day, it wasn’t so much a reunion as a reenactment. Five people passed out at the host’s house, and only one of them was the host. (Two of them were Rochelle and I.)

But the point of this posting is the DVD I brought to the party. I collected 1,400 photos from the folks who went on the trip, and organized them down to about 750 photos broken into 10 slide shows, using iPhoto for Mac OS X. Then, using iDVD, I was able to build a kick-ass DVD of the slides, which we spent an hour watching and laughing hysterically at during the party.

There are definitely some defects in iPhoto and iDVD, that made the task harder than it should have been. But given the amount of material I started with, and the quality of the finished product, it’s amazing that I was able to put it together in just a couple days. Especially since I had never used iDVD before this project. iDVD is an amazing piece of software.

There were a couple bugs in the disc I burned for the party, that I’ll fix some time next week for a 1.0.1 release. But then I get to add iMovie into the equation, and really put on a show, with better transitions, better control of timing to the music, and most importantly, captions for all the crazy photos. Should be a blast.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Semi-back online

by Michael Alderete on 2/10/2004

About five minutes after I posted that UPS was going to deliver my new DSL equipment, the doorbell rang. Three minutes later I had the box open on the floor in the office. 15 minutes later I the DSL filters installed on all three phone lines in the house, and the DSL cable plugged in. Five minutes after that, I had Rochelle and I online on the new DSL connection.

And locked out of our e-mail, and this weblog.

This is because I didn’t move our server right away, and it regarded our attempts to access our mail and the weblog database as external attacks by crackers, which was almost true, given that we were now connecting from “outside” the server’s network, instead of being network “roommates.” I got e-mail working again quickly by converting the e-mail clients to a better authentication scheme, but there was no way for me to safely post to this blog while my systems were on two different networks.

Last night I finally finished reconfiguring the server and the firewall DMZ for the new network, and moved the server (which actually only involved connecting the server’s Ethernet cable to a different jack 3” away from the old one). So, now I can post.

Of course, the DNS changes are still percolating through the internet, and for the moment you are effectively blocked from sending me e-mail, or viewing this blog. Hopefully that’ll be fixed in another day or so.

Oh, yeah, the new DSLspeed is heaven compared to the old connection. Almost as big a difference as when I upgraded from a modem to DSL in the first place. Woohoo!

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

New ADSL coming later today

by Michael Alderete on 2/2/2004

Last week I signed up for a new ADSL account with Speakeasy, a top-rated ISP providing service in the Bay Area. Over the last five days, just about everything that needed to happen has happened, except for receiving the new DSL hardware, which is “out for delivery” according to UPS’s package tracker.

The reason for the change is simple: we signed up for DSL after I moved in with Rochelle, at the end of 1998, when it became clear that our needs for internet access could not be met by a single phone line. “When are you going to be done with the internet?”

Back then, only one provider covered our neighborhood, and even then, only with their more expensive business-class SDSL service. With no other options, we signed up for it. We’ve had the 192/192Kbps service for about five years now, and neither the price nor the speed has changed.

Even once other DSL options came to our neighborhood, they initially weren’t much better, or cheaper, than what we had, and were a whole lot less reliable. I can count the number of times our DSL service went out on one hand — in five years! And of those, two occurred when the service was sold and transferred from one ISP to another, two outages that could have been planned for and minimized if the new ISP had been communicating better.

Today Moore’s Law and other developments have improved reliability tremendously, and left our 192Kbps service in the dust. We can get way more speed for half the price, and with reliability and quality of service that’s certainly good enough.

It took a little searching to find a DSL provider who explicitly allows running servers, who doesn’t block ports, and generally meets our slightly different needs (since we run our own network at home, including servers and custom domains, etc.). And then I needed to set up a more powerful firewall, that would make the migration smoother, etc.

That’s all mostly done, so I’m sure as soon as the new hardware gets here I will be tearing into the box, setting it up, and switching over — even though I should be doing other things. The concept of surfing 800% faster is intoxicating!

Our servers will migrate a little more slowly, since I’ll need to do things like update the DNS records, and other tricky technical stuff. There will be some disruption when I start those, probably this coming weekend, but using the new connection for our desktop systems should be a piece of cake.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }