Sunday, June 29, 2008

Unclear of the concept, or is it very clear?

I received an email from Redmond Magazine, the self-proclaimed independent voice of the Microsoft IT community. The magazine covers all things Microsoft.

The email invited me to participate in a survey. As an incentive to participate they state "all completed surveys will be entered into a drawing for one iPhone." Looks like they realize that no Microsoft products have that wow factor that many Apple products do.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

To the rescue

The other day I took some time off to help my sister transport a rescue dog on her penultimate trip to her forever home. I was amazed by the dedication and coordination of all the volunteers that helped bring Marvelle from Texas to her new home in Chico.

Marvelle (who has probably already been renamed by her new parents, which is fine since she didn’t respond to Marvelle) probably started life in a puppy mill in Texas. She is probably about seven months old. She is a beautiful tri-colored basenji.

A volunteer from BRAT (Basenji Rescue and Transport drove her from Texas to southern California. Another volunteer took her from southern California to Harris ranch (about 400 miles round trip up I-5.) Another volunteer then drove from San Jose to Harris ranch (again about 400 miles round trip) to bring her to his home. We drove from Sacramento to San Jose and brought her to Davis (200 miles round trip) where her new parents met us to take her to her new home in Chico (200 miles round trip) A lot of time and gasoline, and a whole lot of love went into bringing her to a family that will cherish and understand her.

Marvelle the rescued basenji

Basenjis are often abandoned or given up for adoption. They are beautiful dogs but do not make good pets for families that do not understand the breed. Years ago my sister wanted a dog and did a lot of research into what breed to get. Basenji it was. Dollar was a pound puppy, twice rejected but then my sister came along and gave him a good home. Dollar passed away a number of years ago. My sister got involved with BRAT, first fostering dogs, then helping coordinate adoptions. She also helps write the first doggie (person) descriptions of the dogs awaiting adoption. Makes one want to adopt each and every one of them.

A salute to my sister and all dog rescue volunteers.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

All systems down - UPS replacement ahead

Friday the 13th we had to bring all our network systems down (websites, internal shares, email and Internet access) in order to clear out the computer room for a UPS system replacement on the 14th.

The big gray box in the back of the room is the old 4,000 pound UPS (battery back-up) system. It started failing a few months ago. Turns out they have an expected life span of 10 to 12 years. Ours lasted a bit longer, but not by much.

The UPS system provides short-term emergency power in event of a power failure. It gives us enough time to gracefully shut down all the servers in order to prevent corruption of data. It is not designed as a long-term backup system. Computer room sub-floor with power cables

If all goes as planned, Saturday the 14th the old UPS system will be hauled out and the new rack-mounted system will be installed. Time permitting, the equipment racks and computer room furniture will be rolled back in.

Power cables from computer room equipment
Sunday the 15th will be a frantic race against the clock to reattach all the power cords and cables and then power on the network and equipment (in the correct order) to bring everything back up.

As it took over 3 hours on Friday just to pull out all the cords, Sunday will be a very full day.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My summer vacation pt. 2 (Big Island, Hawaii)

Allowing just enough time before we had to check out of Volcano House, we took the Chain of Craters road from the Caldera down to the Petroglyph Trail. We did not have enough time to proceed beyond the boardwalk to see more of the petroglyphs. Would have needed more than the two hours we allotted to the entire trip.

On checking out S.O. discovered that he had lost his room key card. He thinks he may have dropped it at the petroglyph parking lot, a ½ hour drive away, so we paid the $20 replacement cost. If you happen to notice a credit card sized piece of plastic on the road there, please return it to Volcano House. They promise they will refund the fee if it is returned.
Hawksbill turtle at Punaluu Black Sand Beach
We took road 11 south to get to Kona with a rest stop at the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach (where we saw lots of hawkbill turtles in the water and one sunning on the beach) and lunch at the Hana Hou Bakery, the southern-most restaurant in the United States. My review can be found at

In Kona we stayed in a condo complex (Kona by the was recommended by an old boss.) The condo (unit 309) was good sized. One bedroom, two bathrooms, a complete kitchen and a washer and dryer. Of course a lanai with an ocean view. Suggestion, even if you don’t intent to use the dishwasher, check it right away. I discovered on our last morning as we were rushing out that the prior occupants had loaded it with their dirty dishes and never run the wash. Solved the mystery as to why I couldn’t find some things in the kitchen.

One afternoon we took the Mauna Kea Summit trip offered through Hawaii Forest and Trail. A well organized and fun trip. Two vans, each holding eight passengers, head out from Kona to arrive at the summit of Mauna Kea in time for sunset. Along the way is a dinner stop at about the 6,000 foot level to help acclimate to the elevation. We spent about an hour at the summit (over 13,000 feet, parkas provided) in time to watch a number of observatories rotate and open in preparation of the night's work, and a spectacular sunset. We then headed down to the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy, at about 9,000 feet, for bathrooms, hot chocolate and star gazing. The trip ended at about 11 p.m. We got some good tips on where to eat cheaply in Kona from our guide Chuck.
Mauna Kea summit preparing for sunset shots
One morning we took the Fair Wind II catamaran out of Keauhou Bay for a morning of snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay. Great snorkeling. Review of the excursion can be found at:

One of the highlights of the trip was going to the Sheraton Keauhou Bay at night to the terrace off the Crystal Blue Terrace bar to see manta rays feeding. The resort shines a light into the ocean which attracts plankton which in turn attracts the manta rays. The night we went there were two snorkelers in the water with the rays shining bright flashlights into the water. There were four manta rays feeding around them.

Purchase and read cover-to-cover the Wizard Publications Big Island Revealed.
Bring along a soft-sided insulated cooler. We froze water bottles and packed our lunch sandwiches in it daily.
Find out if cruise ships will be in port and plan accordingly. The port areas and popular sites will be crowded.

What we’d do differently:
We’d spend more time in Hilo. We’d upgrade to a car with a trunk so we wouldn't have to worry about leaving our luggage in the car as we moved from one location to another. I would purchase and bring along my own prescription snorkel mask.

Some of my photos are at: