Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Awesome Python IDE - Opensource and Cross Platform

Today I discovered Pydev. A plugin for Eclipse that adds amazing Python editing support!! I'm no fan of Eclipse... I personally find the interface far too busy and confusing. However, if (like myself) you've struggled to find a half way decent code editor for Python that includes support for syntax highlighting, smart code completion and refactoring then you need to give this a try!!

1. Install Eclipse
2. Start Eclipse, click the Help menu, then click the "Install New Software" menu.
3. Click the Add button.
4. Fill in anything for the name and "http://pydev.org/updates" minus the quotes for the Location.
5. Click Ok.
6. Check "Pydev" and continue to work through the installation process.
7. Now create a new python project: File, New, project, Pydev.
8. Profit!!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Project Idea!


It would be cool if I could customize my desktop specifically for the task I'm working on. If I'm working on a project... I want all the files I need, as well as any images/diagrams and notes to be glued to my desktop so I can get at them quickly and easily.

Here is a mock up I created in Gimp. Anyone have thoughts or ideas? I'm interested in hearing opinions :)

NOTE: Click on the image for full-size

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


So I have not blogged in a while. But I've created a twitter account.


That will likely be more active than this blog. Although I'll still put some stuff here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


So a few weeks ago I had an idea. What if my computer's "desktop" was not just a dumping ground for files that I occasionally use? What if, instead, it could contain a set of tools that helped me get stuff done and find the documents I need? In an attempt to feel this idea out I removed all of the links, icons and files from my desktop and installed some widgets provided by the Screenlets projet. I've been using a collection of screenlets on my Desktop both at home and at work for about a week now and I'm generally happy with how things are working out. Here are the screenelts I currently use:

Places: Shows me my bookmarked folders so I can quickly get to a file manager view for my most valued folders.

Google Search: Allows me to quickly search Google for whatever I need at the moment. I Just type in the box and hit enter. I am shortly greeted by a Firefox window with my search results.

Wikipedia Search: Like Google search but for Wikipedia :)

Count Down Clock: It is used to track the time remaining until some event in the future. This one is more of a novelty as it is not really productive, however it is still very important. Right now I'm using it to count down to the birth date of my daughter, Emilie. :) One day she'll be a Linux user. :-P

Disk Usage: Shows me how much disk space I have left. This is nice because I can see when I'm running out of disk space and I can remedy the problem before it gets out of hand.

Weather: Shows the weather, customized for my area. This is useful for knowing if I can go biking or if my time would be better spent inside working (or wasting time) on my computer.

Given all these super cool screenlets I was completely puzzled by the lack of availability of two screenlets:

Folder view: Much like the default KDE Plasmoid of the same name, I envision a folder view screenlet that would show me the contents of a folder. Sure I can have this with Nautilus window but I want it built directly into my desktop but confined to a single window unlike my current Gnome desktop so my files stay in the space that I allocate for them.

Recently Used Documents: A screenlet to show recently used documents, preferably as tracked by Gnome. It seems so obviously useful! I would have expected this long before the places screenelt. Well, I wanted this one so much that, in true free and open source software spirit, I wrote it myself. It was fun because I got to learn the screenlets API and the Python programming language. I started with the Places screenlet and modified the code to do what I needed. Then I continued to improve the code and add features until I was happy enough to live with the results. I've uploaded the screenlet to Gnome Look in hopes that others can benefit from my work.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

802.11n and the truth about throughput

I recently purchased a shiny new Trendnet TEW-639 to replace an aging 802.11g Netgear router. I decided to go with an 802.11n draft 2.0 router since they are widely available and not much more expensive than an 802.11g. To go along with it, I also bought a shiny new DLink DWA-652 Xtreme N notebook adapter.

Before I purchased my new hardware, I wanted to test out my old 802.11g hardware to see what my transfer rates were so I could compare them to the new hardware. My test methodology is quite simple. Transfer a 200MB file via ssh (scp) from my Desktop (core2 Duo, 100 Mbps Ethernet) to my laptop (IBM Thinkpad T42, 1.7Ghz Pentium-M, 802.11G built-in wifi ). I tested the transmission speed in 2 places. 1) about 10 feet away from the router, in the same room, with no interfering electronics in between. 2) In my bedroom which is separated form the router by about 15ft (assuming you can walk through walls) and 2 walls. I was quite surprised when I saw that my average transfer speed (in both places) was about 2.0MBps instead of something a little closer to the theoretical 6.0MBps that should be possible with a 56Mbps connection.

I did some research on 802.11n, chose a decent router, then found a decent PCMCIA adapter that was Linux compatible (D-Link DWA-652 is based on the new Atheros chipset and used the ath9k driver) and set up for testing. I placed my order and patiently waited. A few days later a package was on my doorstep when I came home from work. :)

I hooked up the new router and configured it mostly with default settings. I verified that it was working correctly and then I turned my attention to the new adapter! I put it in my laptop and disabled the on-board Wifi card in the bios. I booted Ubuntu 8.10, which supports the new card out of the box) and proceeded to do my SSH test. I quickly noticed that something was terribly wrong... I could not hold a connection for longer than 30s!! Ok... what to doooo.. AHH.. I should apply the kernel update thats been sitting in my updater for 2 months! So a quick update and 1 reboot later I can hold a connection for about 2-3 minutes. After doing some more research I stumble upon a page at wireless.kernel.org which gives instructions for obtaining a fully standalone version of the Linux Kernel's most up to date wifi stack and drivers. I noticed my driver (ath9k) had been updated the day before. So I downloaded, compiled and installed the latest and greatest drivers and my wifi card happily holds a connection for as long as i want now. K... on to the benchmarks! When I repeated the same tests I was getting about 3.0MBps on average. This is a 150% boost! This seems ok until you remember that 802.11n advertises a 300Mbps theoretical maximum!! If I'm upgrading from 54mbps to 300mbps I might expect to get roughly a 600% boost in performance. So after trying a bunch of stuff and repeating my benchmarking for several hours heres what I found.

With all three of my antennas pointing straight up performance sucks. With 802.11n's MIMO technology taking advantage of multiple antennas simultaneously you want to make sure your antennas are NOT all pointing in the same direction. I obtained a significant increase in throughput simply by bending two of my 3 antennas at a 45 degree angle (relative to the "standing straight up" position) in opposite directions.

Router defaults SUCK!
So 802.11n can do the 802.11a/g thing and only use a 20Mhz chunk of bandwidth (1 channel) or it can practically double throughput and use a 40Mhz chunk (2 channels). By default my router was set to only use 20Mhz in order to reduce interference with other wireless networks. After Switching my router to allow 40Mhz mode things improved quite a bit.

Wifi Routers are like flying cats!
The higher off the ground they are the happier they are! Get the router off of your desk! Put it on something tall, or mount it to the wall. If you must have it on a desk then make sure to stand it up so the antennas are as high as possible.

SNR matters!
Learn how to properly read your SNR. iwconfig output usually shows you two numbers:

Signal level=-30 dBm
Noise level=-87 dBm

The signal level is negative and it tells you how much your signal is dropping off as it is transfered from the router to your wifi card. THE LOWER THE BETTER!! And by lower I mean the absolute value! So a -30 is better than a -50 which is better than a -60! I find that a value of -30 generally gives me 100% signal strength.

The noise level (also a negative number) works in the opposite direction. The higher the absolute value of this number the less your signal is being affected by noise. So a -90 means less noise and a better connection then a -80 which is better than a -60. I find that -85 or higher leads to a solid signal at 100% strength.

Ok, so after all of this tweaking I was able to get an actual maximum throughput of about 7.2 MBps (57.6Mbps). On average, I get 5.5 MBps (44MBps) which is way lower than the advertised 300Mbps but it is still about 3x my original performance which is good.

HTTP and Windows comparison
I wanted to test the Windows driver to see what kind of performance I could get with a driver written by the manufactuer. But Windows SSH (WinSCP) performance sucks BIG TIME as everyone knows by now... I could only get 2.5MBps out of it. So I decided to switch to an HTTP workload for the rest of my benchmarks.

Using Windows XP and the latest driver for this card gets me about 9.5 MBps(76Mbps) max and 9.0MBps(72Mbps) average when transferring the 200MB test file via HTTP from a local Apache2 server using wget. The same transfer using wget on Linux gets me 9.0 MBps(72Mbps) max and 7.0 MBps(56Mbps). Not too shabby ;), but still not as good as the native driver supported by the manufacturer who has all of the specs and knows exactly how the hardware works...

One thing I'd like to mention is that the Linux benchmarks seemed to fluctuate rather wildly (unlike Windows. One moment I could be seeing a transfer rate of 9MBps, then it could drop to 4MBps and then slowly climb back up to 9. Also, it seems that not all TCPIP sessions/connections are created equal. With both the SSH and HTTP workloads, I could make a connection, transfer the file and get an average rate of... say... 4MBps. If I immediately repeat the exact same test I could see a much higher transfer rate! over double in some cases. I'm not sure what to blame this oddness on.

Comparing 9.0MBps to 300Mbps
So 802.11n advertises 300MBps. This is really a terrible case of false advertisement! Here is my reasoning.

1) From my research it seems to me that the 300Mbps figure is assuming 150Mbps per direction (send/receive). If this is true (I would LOVE for someone to confirm this!) it means that 150MBps is our new theoretical maximum because most (ALL??!?!?) high throughput network based workloads require the sending of a large amount of data in a single direction NOT in both directions simultaneously. Examples: file transfer, streaming video or audio. Bidirectional workloads tend to need very low throughout... instant messaging, IRC, TCP control (ACK's in response to packets received), HTTP requests, etc.

2) The overhead for the actual wireless connection at the PHY layer is documented at about 25% (I lost my citation for this). This means you only have 75% of the theoretical maximum.
So 150Mbps*0.75 = 112Mbps.

What is this number in MBps? 112/8 = 14MBps.

Now.. 14MBps is our new THEORETICAL MAXIMUM! This is not accounting for overhead introduced by the hardware, driver, OS, and transport/applications layers(TCP,SSH,HTTP).

On a 10OMbps (12MBps) network I obtain an average throughout of 10MBps via my HTTP workload. This means that, taking real world overhead into account, I get about 83% of the advertised rate.

With 802.11n my theoretical max is 14MBps and I get 9.0MBps This is about 64% which a rather large difference. remember, this is AFTER subtracting 25% overhead for the PHY layer.

Sure 802.11n is faster than the other network technologies :) HOWEVER, I call shenanigans in regards to the IEEE claim of 300Mbps!

In conclusion, I'd like to point out that I did manage to improve the peformance of my original wireless network by about %400-%450 percent. So it isnt all bad :)

Questions? Comments? Can you support or refute any of my claims or testing methodologies? I'd love to hear about others experiences with 802.11n!!!!!! How fast can you get it to go? What can we do to make things better? :-)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

10 Random Songs

Here are 10 random songs from my playlist

Paradise City by Guns N Roses
Headshrinker by Oasis
Yellow by Coldplay
Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own by U2
All Star by Smash Mouth
Strange Thing by Oasis
Hey Jude by Beatles
Sweetest Thing by U2
Closing Time by Semisonic
Roll Me Away by Bob Seger

Monday, November 17, 2008

Calling all Nokia N800 and N810 owners :-)

Anyone out there run GPE-Calendar on their Nokia N800 or N810 Internet tablet? If so, I've got a treat for you :) Just recently I got so fed up with the default alarm from GPE-Calendar that I decided to grab the code and fix it. For those who have not had the displeasure of hearing this alarm it sounds like a British ambulance siren and it runs continuously for a full 2 minutes when it goes off. Better hope your office mate is not alone with it when it goes off or you may find your N800/N810 in pieces when you come back!! It is sooo annoying that I leave my N800 on mute most of the time so it does not go off when I'm in a meeting at work. Because of this I've been late to a few meetings, the most recent of which prompted me to fix this annoyance within this otherwise awesome calendar program.

My patch modifies GPE-Calendar (only if ./configured with --enable-hildon) such that it DOES NOT use the normal gpe-calendar alarm interface. Instead when an alarm is due to fire it creates a Maemo alarm event set to fire immediately! The Maemo alarm interface is the default/built-in alarm interface for the N8xx series. It provides snooze capability, custom snooze timeouts, and, most importantly, custom alarm sounds!! Just replace /usr/share/sounds/ui-clock_alarm.mp3 with any mp3 of your choice and GPE-Calendar will play it to alert you of your impending obligation.

For those interested my current patch can be found at the end of this post. If you do not waish to download the 400MB+ development environment for the N800/N810 and fight through learning to compile GPE-Calendar and all of its dependencies send me an e-mail (or leave a comment on my blog (hernejj.blogspot.com/) and I'll send you my gpe-calendar binary which *should* work as a drop-in-replacement for your /usr/bin/gpe-calendar if you are running
the version of GPE-Calendar available at http://maemo.org/downloads .

I've sent an e-mail to the gpe-mailing list including my patch so I can work on getting it accepted into their code repository. In the mean time, I'm posting the first version of this patch here (http://sites.google.com/site/hernejj/) for the benefit of anyone who cares.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sennheiser HD 380 Pro Headphones

I got a chance to hear these as a local Guitar center and they sound awesome! I WAS headed in to buy the Sennheiser HD 280's (Pro) until I heard these. The 380's completely blow the 280's away. There is JUST no comparison.

The Bass response is amazing for closed ear headphones. This is quite rare from what I understand.

You can hear all the detail in the highs and mid-ranges and everything sounds crystal clear. Close your eyes and you might think you're sitting in a concert hall.

Since Sennheiser still does not have anything about these headphones on their web page I e-mailed them for info and got the following:

Product Features
Collapsible high-end headphone for professional monitoring use
Highly advanced features for superior sound-monitoring- Extended frequency
response for accurate, reliable sound reproduction- Increased sound
pressure level (110dB) to handle demanding use
Closed circumaural design for excellent passive attenuation of ambient
noise (up to 32dB)
Exceptional comfort for extended listening
Carrying case included for engineers on the go
Replaceable single-sided, coiled cable with 3.5mm jack connector and screw
type adapter to ¼"
Easily replaceable parts for long service life
Headphone with detachable coiled cable, Carrying case, ¼" jack adapter

Technical Data
Connector 3.5 mm plug, straight (separate ¼" jack adapter included)
Cable length 1m coiled, extendable up to 3m
Frequency response 8 - 27,000 Hz
Weight 220 g (excluding cable)
THD < 0.1 % (1kHz, 100dB SPL)
Impedance 54 Ohm
Transducer principle Dynamic
Sound pressure level 110 dB (1kHz, 1Vrms)

I can only find 2 places that sell these headphones right now. Musicians Friend (and thus, Amazon) and Guitar center.

Oh and another thing, the sound isolation these things provide is SECOND To NONE (Except maybe the 280's)! Even with the volume extremely low I could not hear people talking who were standing 3 feet away from me! I was listening to Guns N Roses when one of the sales guys fired up a Bose system in the same room... it was so loud that (without the 380's on my head) I couldn't hear people talking but with the 380's on I barely heard the music coming from the Bose system.

These are totally worth $200!!!! And I'm not even a hardcore audio guy. If you don't believe me just demo these things are your nearest Guitar Center! Take your current headphones with you so you can compare them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Audio Setup!

I recently picked up an audio amplifier (a Technics SA-GX670 to be specific) at a garage sale for $10! This amp retailed for $400 in 1994 when it was made and since good audio equipment rarely depreciates in value I'm assuming that this thing is still worth a pretty penny. I actually talked the seller down from $15!! He original refused my offer of $10 but when I returned to his lawn 3 hours later I think he was more interested in getting rid of it than maximizing profits. Sure it was a gamble and I only saved $5, but I wasn't sure I really wanted it and at the time I had no idea how much this thing rocked!!

Me not really being a hardcore audio guy, I brought the amp home and it sat on my kitchen table for 2 days before I eventually got around to hooking it up to my computer. I'm not an audiophile and I've generally been happy with my $30 2.1 speaker setup that I've had for about 4 years now. It was a little hard for me to believe that this over sized chunk of metal was going to make a noticeable difference. So using a $5 USB sound card (since my busted on-board sound card only produces a single channel of output these days) I played some tunes to get a feel for how this amp could make my music sound better. There was a slight difference. I could hear more, things seemed a little clearer. I began to suspect that a bigger better set of speakers would make even more of a difference so I stole my wife's stereo speakers which tend to sound pretty good in my opinion. I replayed the music I was previously listened to and WHAT A DIFFERENCE!! I was hearing backup vocals and instrument tracks I had never heard before!!!! Everything was so much clearer, less "tinny" and much easier on my ears. After about 2 hours of re-listening to a plethora of my favorite songs for the "first time" my mind was made up. Time to get a whole new audio setup! Since I had the amp, the "new setup" would only consist of new speakers and a new sound card and cable to connect everything.

I decided on a cheap, but not too cheap Sound Blaster Audigy SE sound card. Yea I *could* have spent way more $ and gotten a card with a "hardware accelerated" DSP but it would be a waste as most of the time I'm listening to music and I have a fast CPU. The DSP would be most helpful for a high performance gaming rig where it can take the load off your CPU.

The hardest decision was choosing a set of speakers! I visited countless websites and every local store I could find that carried half way decent bookshelf stereo speakers. Its hard to find good old fashioned stereo speakers these days! Everyone seems to want 5.1 "surround sound" for their "home theater". Screw that! Why settle for 5 ultra tiny and ultra sucky speakers when you can get two big beefy speakers that do not suck for the same amount of money? After comparing specs, prices and listening to a few different speaker sets I settled on the cheapest pair I had been considering, the Yamaha NS-6490's for $80 at my local Radio Shack. I was a little reluctant to purchase these as my in-store testing was kind of mixed. I generally LIKED the way the sounded but I noticed two things that were disconcerting... 1) Lack of punchy BASS 2) the mid-range seemed particularly "muddy" at times. My fears were slightly diminished after reading a couple of on-line reviews on Radio shack's website stating that the in store amp sucks and it under powers this particular speaker set. The reviewer suggests "take these speaker home, hook them up to a good amplifier and you will love them!". So knowing full well that I could return them within 30 days if I was not satisfied I swiped my card and walked out of the store with a very large box of speakers :).

I got home. I cleared my desk. I placed the (magnetically shielded) speakers on aforementioned desk. After hooking everything up with brand new speaker wire and audio cables I gave them a quick test run. My music sounded good, but not great, as I was expecting. Just like at the store the sound was a little unclear at times and I was pretty sure the bass response was supposed to be better. After a few days of messing with mixer settings, verifying correct wiring, playing with the amp's settings and trying different things I was all but ready to return the speakers for a better set. It wasn't until I was demo'ing the setup for a friend that I, for the first time, took a few steps back from them! It was then that I realized, holy cow batman, these things are pretty much unresponsive within a 3 foot radius! Get out beyond 4-5 feet and the sound quality goes up by an exponential factor!! The bass is there! The mid range is crisp and clear! Soooo... gotta get 4-5 feet away from these babys huh? Weeellll... my L-shaped desk only extends about 3 feet from the center in either direction. This was started to look like a big problem.

I seriously considered how the hell I was going to fit a huge amp on my desk AND two over-sized bookshelf speakers and still have room for anything else! Now to top it all off... I GOTTA GET THESE THINGS 5 FEET AWAY FROM ME??? After about 3 hours of thinking, moving stuff around, and (much to the displeasure of my wife) rearranging half of our living room, I found a way to place each speaker about 5 feet away from my primary sitting position at roughly the same height.

As the above diagram shows I turned the speakers inward and pointed them at about a 30-45 degree angle so as to aim the sound at the side of the listeners head. I figured this was the best setup I could get if the speakers had to be 5 feet away from me. I chalked it up to an unfortunate side effect of having a L-shaped desk and being sandwiched in the corner of the room.

After getting everything set up (special thanks to my buddy Tom for all the help) I was very happy with the results! A tinkerer at heart, I could not leave things well enough alone however. I quickly got the idea (however stupid it seemed) to rotate the speakers to a 0 degree angle, thus pointing them both directly at the wall in front of me. Why not?? Hell, the things were only at a 30 degree angle to begin with.... If it sucked I'd just turn them back. No harm done.

hoping for the best but expecting nothing I started playing "What's Going On" by Four Non Blondes. It was that precise moment when it hit me! It was auditory gold pouring over my ears! The absolute BEST sounding audio I've ever heard in my entire life! Turning the speakers to face the wall seems to cause the sound to bounce off the wall creating a truly wonderful effect. The music seriously sounds like it coming entirely from in front of you. You can just imagine the band sitting directly in front of you playing high quality music!

Needless to say, I'm very happy with my new audio setup. It was worth every penny :).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Every 6 months

In keeping with a standard schedule I'm here to post since it has been about 6 months since my last post :)

Life.... hmm... Been working on the Ultimate Nesputer Project. I'll have a whole new blog for that soon enough complete with all the details. It's pretty much done. We just need to figure out proper cooling and recreate 2 usb/network port assembleys to mount underneath the little "dust cover" on the bottom of the nes.

Electronics has really grabbed my interest lately. I've been reading, circuit building, soldering and learning as much as I can about electronics. Why? Because I find it interesting. I'm still nowhere near even the "beginner" level of competence but I am enjoying it so I'll keep working with it until it bores me. Just like everything else I do.

I have not been as good at keeping up with my biking as I should be. Hopefully that will change. Winter is coming, time to start skating again!! :-)

I have a 500GB HD on order. Going to put it in an external case and use it for backups. I'm not that great at backing up my data and I'm hoping this will change that. rsync!

That is all. If I keep these short, I may do them more often.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Music of the moment ;)

This music rocks, I know, listening now when I SHOULD be in bed :)

Guns N roses - Sweet Child O Mine
A true classic in all senses. Gotta love the insane vocal performance by Axl Rose towards the end of the song. The guitar work is amazing all throughout. This is currently my favorite song of all time.

Linkin Park - What I've Done
A canadian band eh? :) Those of you in Potsdam can probably hear lots of Linkin Park on 106.9 The Bear! Canadian radio is sooo much better.

System of a Down- Lonely Day
The only System of a Down song that I really like. Quite a departure from their normal style hm?

Gob - I Hear You Calling
First heard this one in a computer game.. NHL 2005. Or was it 2004?

The Killers - Somebody Told Me
Just plain catchy. Can't help but to sing along.

Jet - Look What You've Done
Pretty much the only Jet song that really stands out in my opinion. I heard it live June of 2006 when Jet opened for Oasis at MSG in New York City. A truly awesome night of my life that I'll never forget.

Twisted Sister - Were Not Gonna Take It
Hehe... :) Gotta see this ;) It's also a very catchy song. Consider yourself warned.

Third Eye Blind - Jumper
This one takes me back :) Heard this for the first time on a school bus. This song has Quite possibly THE most addicting guitar solo of all time... if you've heard the song then you know the solo I'm talking about!! Find a more addicting guitar solo!!! Can't be done. Hats off T.E.B!

Silver Chair - Anthem for the Year 2000
Older... and heavier than most of my music but still very cool, even today.

Zeromancer - Send Me An Angel
Don't really care for the band, or this type of music but this song catches my ear. Its something different. Very soft and appealing approach to alternative.

U2 - New Year's Day
This might very well read 'U2 - *'. I've never heard a U2 song that I have not liked. These guys cannot make crappy music. It just doesn't happen! Bono's the man!

Life has pretty much sucked for the last 3 months. On the upside... things are looking up. Spring is coming (yay!! Good weather and bike riding!!), I have a cool new toy to play with (Canon HG10 digital camcorder), and I'm finally getting my life back in order after months of hell:
  • I started exercising again
  • I went sledding last week (first time in 10-15 years??)
  • Organized all the data on my computer
  • Went back to work. Didn't miss much... snail's pace and such :-P
  • Cleaned my desk
  • Organized my storage room
  • Ate a meatless meal for the first time in... my whole life.. ;) It was actually pretty good... go figure.
  • ... and other stuff.
I suppose I better get to bed if I want to be functional in the AM.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Roberson Photoclub Webpage

I get to design a web application for management of the Roberson Photography club and its webpage. That is all. :)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Biking a lot recently

I haven't been posting here recently but I have been posting to my biking blog. Check out these entries:

Otsiningo Park Ride
Rode to work on Friday
Rode to Maine NY

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Bike rides!

I've set up this blog to track the planning and progress of a (roughly) 250 mile bike ride that I will be taking some time in the summer/fall of 2008. The trip will be starting at my apartment in Endicott NY and ending in Brushton NY. My wife Tiffanie will be accompanying me on the ride. We have a little over a year to plan and prepare for the trip. As we plan and prepare we'll be updating this blog to track and record decisions and progress. I'll also be posting info about some smaller trips we'll be doing for fun and in preparation for the big trip.


Saturday, March 31, 2007

Mouth pain sucks :(

..... It all started Monday. After laying down I woke up almost exactly 40 minutes later with fairly intense mouth pain. The whole right side of my jaw ached. So I got up, drank some water and went back to bed and slept fine the rest of the night. So I didn't think much of it .... Until Tuesday night when the very same thing happened again. This time it woke me up twice!! So I stayed up for 4 hours and then I slept through the next 2 hours before I had to get up and go to work. Wednesday same as Tuesday and Thursday even worse. I had to leave work early Thursday because I was too tired to think. Before heading home I called a dentist and made an appointment for Monday to have my mouth looked at. I went home and tried to sleep and caught about another 2 hours before being woken up with mouth pain again.

Oddly enough the pain would affect the entire right side of jaw top and bottom. I could not even come close to figuring out if the pain was being caused by a single tooth. Also, it only seemed to hurt when I was laying down. Thursday I went for a bike ride with Tiff and Tom after my nap and a quick dinner. That turned out to be a big mistake! Afterwards my mouth hurt like hell!! I loaded up on Ibuprofen and luckily the pain only lasted for about a half an hour.

Friday rolled around and the pain comes and goes all day long from 8am to 5pm. Then somewhere around 5 the demons in my mouth decided to unleash their grand finale of furry on my poor nerves!! The pain kicked in worse than ever before and refused to let up. I quickly discovered that having cold water in my mouth (i.e: Keeping the nerve numb?? Maybe keeping the swelling down??) made the pain subside to barely detectable levels so water I did drink :) And lots of it! At this point I had fooled myself into thinking that the pain would go away and I would be fine until my Monday appointment.. hehe.. that was a mistake. Every 20-30m or so I would stop drinking water just to see if the pain had stopped but, on the contrary, it kept getting worse and worse. Around 8pm I had decided I'd had enough and called my dentist's emergency number. He got me in one hour (and about 6 bottles of water) later for an emergency Pulpotomy which was an interesting experience.

Step 1: Figure out which tooth is causing the pain
This involves banging on all of the affecting teeth to find out which ones cause sharp pain. If this fails the next step is to heat (with a small torch) a small rubber-like thingy and touch it against each tooth until the right one is found. The 'cause pain via heat' method was successful in isolating the pain to one of two teeth in my upper jaw. Now we get out the novacaine needle and numb the lower jaw to ensure I still feel pain after its numb. I still felt pain. Now we numb the suspected tooth and see if the pain goes away... 3 injections later... wait for it.. ahhh yes :-D BEST I HAD FELT ALL DAY!!!! We found the right tooth.

Step 2: Drill off the top of the tooth and rip out the dead part of the nerve
I hate having power tools in my mouth. This actually went ok with no pain at all. Thank you modern medicine and local anesthetics!!!

Step 3: Apply medicine and a temporary filling
Easiest part... was done before I knew it had started!

Step 4: Sleep!!
Best I had slept in days!! I did wake up after the novacaine wore off but I was able to get back to sleep after eating a (sliced) apple.

It was a fairly painful and somewhat nerve racking experience but the dentist who did the work (on a Friday night when he should have been spending time with his family) was very professional and thorough. He gave up the start of his weekend and did a good job making my pain go away... thank god... I didn't want to have to jump off the balcony!

I have an appointment Monday to finish the root canal. I am less than excited but it has to be done. I hear its just like having a deep filling done.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Blue Man Group!

Tiff, Tom and I went to see the Blue Man Group (www.blueman.com) in Binghamton last night. The show was awesome!!

The pictures with the new Pentax K10D came out awesome considering the low-light shooting environment. My only two regrets are 1) Not getting to know the camera a little better 2) Shooting most of the night at ISO 1600 instead of ISO 800!! 800 is SSOOOOOOOOOOO much less grainy!! I spent quite a bit of time fishing for buttons and hunting for settings because I've only had the camera a couple of days. The opening act by Mike Relm was not very well lit which caused me to set my ISO at 1600 to be on the safe side. I then proceeded to shoot through most of the show at 1600 which produced noisy/grainy shots. They are still far better than I would have got with the DS, but I would have liked to take more at ISO 800 as the level of visible noise is far far far less! There are some shots taken at 800 in my Picasa gallery if you want to see the difference. I ended up shooting about 1200 pictures 106 of which made it into the Picasa gallery. 10% shooting rate is quite good in my opinion considering that I was shooting in low light, much of the time the subjects were moving rapidly, I did a lot of burst shooting and the lighting often changed rapidly as spot lights and colored lights lit up and faded away and bounced around the stage.

Anyways, we all had a blast and the show was really different and cool. Tiff really enjoyed herself which is the most important thing as she was the one who wanted to go originally.

Enjoy the photos ;)

Blue Man Group

I Sleep with Penguins!

Tiff and I got this SUPER COOL BED SET from K-mart two days ago!! Aren't they the coolest sheets ever? The penguins protect me from evil all through the night. I no longer have to sleep with one eye open (Sorry Metallica)!

And if the penguins are not enough... I have "Nibbles the Super Giant Miniature Ninja Killer Attack Cat of Doom from the Ninth Ring of the Seventh level of the Third floor of the Darkest Part of the Abyss!" Thats her full name. We call her Nibbles for short.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Christmas pictures!!

Christmas pictures!! Late? Yea. Still cool? Yep.
Christmas 2006

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Rail Trail Walk

Tiff, Tom and myself decided to walk the Vestal Rail Trail to get some exercise. Tom and I brought our cameras just for fun :) This was my first actual photo shoot since our trip to Texas. I didn't get a whole lot of good shots but I decided to post some anyway. It was fun :) Click for pictures!!!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

New photos :) !!!!!

I've not posted here in a long time! Here are some new (actually NOT so new) photos to make up for my absence (actually it doesn't make up for it)! Soon I'll post some actual new (they are actually new, for real, you'll see) photos.

Click the images to go to the galleries.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Treefs: A Breath of Life

After an 9 month hiatus I've finally started working on TreeFS again!! This is the first I've really had an urge to work on it since I graduated and I'm very excited. Over the last week I've dusted off the code and made it compile for the latest greatest kernel version 2.6.20-rc3 :). I've also started re-familiarizing myself with the code and fixing up some small issues with comments and output. I've rebuilt my development VM that allows me to test my file system without crashing my operating system. So, looks like the only place to go from here is actual development. I do hope my urge to work on this sticks around for a while :-D.

Martin has restarted his work on the GUI TreeFS browser tool and has come up with a really cool looking prototype. I'm excited to see it in action once development has started. I think this tool will be really cool and useful and I'm very happy he's decided to continue work on it.

In case anyone is intersted all of our work can be found here: TreeFS Project Site

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The new living room lives!!

We finished reorganizing the living room. Overall it was quite a move that took us two days counting all the cleaning and clutter reduction. :) Here is a spiffy diagram I made to show the difference in dead space reduction!!

As you can see, all of the dead space has been reanimated by a complex form of necromancy to become undead space!! I like it better this way. Just don't walk through the living room with a crucifix or a ceremonial skull ;).

Friday, December 29, 2006

Holy lots of stuff!!

Ok, its been a while. Lets catch up....

Around November 20th Tiff and I went to Texas for Travis' boot camp graduation. We were scheduled to fly out of Syracuse at 6:30pm on Wednesday but thanks to inclement weather in Cleavland (our layover destination) we ended up getting delayed until about 7:00 pm. Thanks to the delay we were actually scheduled to miss our connecting flight to Austin by over an hour but, luckily for us, the weather in Cleavland delayed that flight as well :) We ended up getting there JUST in time to get on the flight to Austin. We were rushed from one gate right to the other and right back on a place for a 2.5 hour flight. We then drove from Austin to San Antonio in our rental vehicle and arrived at Lackland air force base at about 2:30 am.

Travis' graduation was cool and everyone was very happy to see him for the first time in months. They had two or three different events for families and such. We spent most of our time walking around the base and attending his graduation events. I took lots of pictures and in due time I'll even post some of them!!

About a month ago we got a Nintendo Wii. I didn't plan on getting one but then I played one at Tom's house on Thanksgiving!! After 5 minutes I was hooked! It lives up to the hype and provides a genuinely different, fun and energetic gaming experience that you will not soon forget. Everyone we've shown our Wii to since we've gotten it has been absolutely taken up with it. In fact, my family has already started saving for it, I brought it home for Christmas so I could show everyone!! Tiff's family couldn't get enough of it either. We were up until 5am playing the thing on the 22nd. I think they will eventually buy one.

Christmas has come and gone. It was very nice to see everyone. We had a very busy but oddly a relatively argument free and enjoyable time :-D Tiff made lots of food and spent a great deal of time planning a party and cooking and cleaning. But I think she managed to find some time to enjoy herself in there. Santa was good to us again this year. He provided us with some new computer chairs so we don't have to sit in kitchen chairs at our computers anymore. I got a wall mount corner shelf unit (and a book light) so I have a place to put my book that I like to read at night. I also got a new sweater and a tin of those yummy butter cookies. Tiff got some coffees, teas, a Friends trivia DVD game and the Let's Make a Deal DVD game. Tom was good to us ;) I got the second Wii Nunchuck controller I was looking for and Tiff got a bottle of really expensive Bio-Silk.... It's some crazy hair care product. We both got other miscellaneous things but those are the highlights. We got Zach an MP3 player for xmas/birthday. I think he likes it. Travis got a very well put together photo album that Tiff spent forever on. It has pictures in it from the summer before his high school graduation and his experiences in boot camp and graduation. Most of the pictures were *expertly* taken by a skilled photographer using a very nice camera ;) hehehe... Ok ok, I know I'm not that worthy of praise!

Soo... that catches us up to the current time! Only a few more interesting things to note. One, Tom was unfortunate enough to get a pink slip for xmas from his employer. Apparently they wanted to hire someone for his position that could move up to management. I'm assuming Tom is not qualified because his degree is in Graphic Arts..... and we all know how hard the business majors works in college... ahem..... I think maybe his work ethic is simply too high for a management position... keep in mind.. this IS a government job! So anyways, he is looking for a job anywhere he can find one. He is actually following up a possible job somewhere in our area :)

Tera got her splint off yesterday!! She has this odd infection underneath it and a raw bloody spot where it was digging into her leg for so long. We have pills to feed her to clean up the infection so hopefully she'll soon be fully recovered.

Finally, last night we decided to fully rearrange the living room. I'll post pictures and maybe (if I don't get too lazy...... yea don't expect anything) even a floor plan showing the changes. We now have a lot more space in the living room and we increased the distance from the Wii to the TV from about 3-4 feet to about 7-8 feet. This will make for a much more Wii-markable experience!

Ok, now that I've caught up I need to go finish cleaning our newly laid out living room and finish being sick... Tiff and I BOTH got sick for Christmas. We're, hopefully, on the upswing now though.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Life is busy

Its been a while since I've posted :) Since the last time... I've been to Texas, been home for thanksgiving and I've decided to buy a Nintendo Wii. More later ;) Tonight I'm going out for a fairly expensive diner courtesy of Big Blue! :-D

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Binghamton Walk

Tom Tiff and I went on a small photo shoot in Binghamton. Not the best of photos but we did manage to snap a few good shots. Here are the results :)

In other news, Tiff and I will be heading to Texas Wednesday. We'll be there for 4 days so I'm SURE I'll have a gaint gallery to post after we get back!!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Bibble Pro Review

.....WOW!! That's all I have to say about this photo raw conversion software! It is totally amazing! Its noise reduction feature renders a raw picture taken at ISO 800 on my Pentax DS and makes it look more like an ISO 200 shot!

Here is my original ISO 800 shot

And here is the Bibble processed version with noise reduction, and sharpening filters added.

You'll have to click on the images and open them in new windows to really see the difference. Pay particular attention to the binders towards the right side, the video cassette, and the tux I am wearing in the prom picture sitting on the shelf.

Consider this my recommendation for Bibble Pro!! :) I think I'll be purchasing a Linux license right after my two week demo expires.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

NYC - Photo Plus 2006

The Photo Plus expo was decently cool this year :)

I got a chance to play with the Pentax K10D and I gotta say it was pretty cool. The autofocus was insanely fast, especially when compared to my DS. It seems to take nice pictures and they had some demo prints that showed how accurate the auto-color balance and image processing was. They also had a set that showed a very crisp low-light exposure and claimed that it was due to the anti-shake technology. I know enough not to read too deeply into any company's marketing ploys which is why I'll wait for detailed reviews to surface before getting too excited.

Another interesting find... Bibble Pro, A Raw conversion software package that seems really slick and has some pretty cool noise reduction and dynamic range recoverability features. The presenter was touting that one could save many otherwise busted shots with these two features. I am skeptical, as usual, but I was very intrigued and will be trying this software out. They have a free fully functioning (for two weeks) demo.. and best of all... IT RUNS ON LINUX!!!!!!!! :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) (As well as windows and Mac OS X).

There were lots of other software companies, I was not too interested in them. Lots of companies that do prints over the internet and lots of people trying to sell massive printers that look more like plotters.

After the expo we walked from the Javits Center to central park. We walked around central park and took pictures and then walked to 60th and 5th which is where our bus was picking us up. We ate at some deli around there for lunch/dinner. Tiff had a #205, ham, cheese and sun dried tomatoes on 7-grain bread. I has a #208, a BLT/Turkey sandwich with herb mayo on 7-grain bread.

After dinner we still had about an hour to kill so we went and sat at a restaurant/pub and waited. Some drank, some talked, I decided to take pictures. I'm glad that I did because I managed to get a few nice shots there. You can check them out, along with other pictures from the trip, in my gallery

Photo club competition 11/03/2006

Interested in the latest photo club competition results? Heres the link :) I had one photo place 3rd and the other two received honorable mention.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Not much to report :-/

Life has been boring the last few days, but the Photo Plus expo is coming up!! I'll get a chance to see the K10D and maybe even take some pictures in NYC.

Also, thanks to a cool (but very poor quality scan) PDF I found by googling "Tinker Tubes" I found some great plans for building pro quality lighting equipment out of PVC pipe!! This is cool because I don't believe in paying $600 for some light stand and a sheet of semi-transparent material. Tom and I may be building one or two items from this PDF some time soon... time, money and tools permitting :)

IN OTHER NEWS... the Avalanche have won 2 in a row, they beat Columbus tonight 4-2 with Joe Sakic picking up a goal and Hejduk with an assist!! They still only have 12 points and are 2nd to last in their division :( 15th in the leage overall, just as middle of the road as you can get.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Trip to Roberson Museum

We went to the museum for the first time today... it was free since we are museum members. We had to get a membership to join photo club ;). They had some cool stuff there but the coolest gallery was the first one we saw, the one with the cool people statues made out of scrap metal. We also saw a planetarium show which features no planets, only stars. :)

Link to gallery.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Here is the kitty's super gaint leg cast. Despite the fact that it does hamper her walking ability and she doesnt really step on that foot she STILL manages to get around quite well. She even manages to jump up onto the couch and bed and other places. She can get down too :)

The top story is our apartment, as you can see, Tiff left the light on all day :-/. Tera fell from the top of the railing all the way down to the pavement.... all the way down... It looks like its about a 25-30 foot fall. Poor kitty :(

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Kitty is home!!!!!!

My kitty is home!!!!! YYAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY!!!!!! :-D We have to watch for swelling and she has a very large cast/splint on her hind leg but she is home!! We brought her home around 6:30, she ate some food, walked around the house for a bit, drank some water and then found a comfy spot on the couch and went to sleep. She seems to be able to move around and jump up onto things ok with only three working legs so I'm not too worried about her anymore. She can even climb into her litter box if we take the top off of it.

Maybe tomorrow I'll post a picture of her giant splint. Nite nite! :-)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Kitty and Ipod Update

Well, Kitty is still at the doctors :( They were concerned with some swelling in her broken foot so they took the splint off and will wait for it to unswell before they put the splint back on. Hopefully they can have her all ready to go for tomorrow :) We miss our kitty!!

My Ipod came today. Had I not been at the vet I would have had it on Saturday. From Monday (got prepaid shipping container) to Saturday (attempted replacement Ipod delivery)!! Thats an INCREDIBLE TURN AROUND TIME!! Best part about it... It didn't cost me a single cent.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Photo Club Competition 10/20/2006

I entered three of my photos into the Roberson photo club competition at last night's meeting. Click the link to go to my Picassa gallery and find out how they did :)

The kitty is broked! :(

Our kitty decided to either jump, fall ,or get pushed off our balcony yesterday :(

I'm not 100% sure how it happened but it all started when I let both Tera and Nibbles out on the balcony (like I always do). Later I went and checked on them and I could only find Nibbles... so I went inside and looked around and couldn't find Tera. I went back out on to the porch and called to Tera and I hear "MEEEOOOOOOOWW" so I look down towards the sound of the meow and there are two little eyes starting up at me from underneath a car parked in the driveway. I ran down and got her and sure enough... her foot was clearly broken :-`(. After finding a vet that was opening soon (this happened at about 6:30 am) and finding a way to get to my car that was in the shop for repairs (thanks to Tom DeForest from IBM for helping with this), I brought her in for repair.

She fractured all three of the bones in the end of her left hind foot and will need to keep a splint on it for 4-6 weeks according to the vet. She stayed the night last night and they want to keep here over the weekend to keep an eye on some swelling that has developed in her foot. We should have her back Monday morning.... I cringe to think what I'm going to be charged for this :(

I did go and visit Tera today!! She was extremely happy to see me and she purred more than she has in a very long time :-) She cuddled right up to my arm and went to sleep. I stayed with her for about 2 1/2 hours and then the vet closed and kicked me out. She needed to eat anyways and I interrupted her lunch so its probably best that I had to leave anyway.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bad Ipod = :-( , Awesome service = :-)

My Ipod was officially declared FUBAR on Sunday :-/. It turns on and acts like it wants to play music but then decides to pretend its a CD player with a scratched disc in it... skip skip skip... :) I've traced the problem to faulty flash storage thanks to Linux reporting I/O errors reading/writing to the Ipod when I try to mount it and copy new music to it via GtkPod.

Anyways, being only 4-5 months old my Ipod is STILL under warranty so a quick visit to Apple's website confirmed a free replacement. Two web forms, a serial number entry page and a service agreement click-through later I have an e-mail from Apple telling me to patiently wait for a free shipping container in which to send my Ipod. It arrived in less than 48 hours!!! I received a small simple box that contained some foam, some strips of packing tape and an instruction sheet. The sheet advises the user to place the Ipod between the pieces of foam, close and seal the box and drop off at the nearest DHL shipping center. It could not be simpler!! No searching for packing materials, no "You must have sure to pack the unit around all sides with no less than 2" of foam/packing peanuts else lose your warranty!!". Best of all, I *THINK* the mailer they sent is prepaid :) How cool would that be??

I'll be sure to post the rest of the experience as soon as I get my Ipod back. I'm going to drop it off
tomorrow at DHL , so lets see how long it takes to get it back. :)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Unreal Tournament 2007

I can't wait for this game!!!!! Just look at some of these screenshots!




If you want to see more visit www.planetunreal.com. Not only are the graphics awesome but the game play is supposed to be top notch too. The Assault game type is being replaced with a new game type code named "Conquest" which is LIKE Assault but with many more objectives, some of which are optional and a promise of a less linear structure to the game. Also, the conquest maps can be as large as three Onslaught maps (which are very large to begin with) !! So what we'll see here is a whole bunch of mini-games within the main game. Also, watch for community created addons that use the Conquest game type to create loads of entirely different complete games all together!!! Released late 2006 or early 2007.... I'll be preordering this one!

Binghamton Senators Hockey Game

Last nights hockey game was pretty fun :) We ended up losing 3-2 but the game was pretty exciting especially towards the end as we were down by 2 until the last 2 minutes of the game when we scored. Being only 1 point down, the Sens tried really hard to tie the game up before the end of regulation but to no avail :(

Heres a link to my Picasa gallery... just click the picture :)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Binghamton Senators! :-P

Hockey season has officially started and the Colorado Avalanche are off to an okay start grabbing 4 points in three games. Meanwhile Minnesota and Buffalo are both undefeated after 4 games. Hopefully we can grab two more points in tonight's game against Edmonton which won't be televised in the Binghamton area. :(

In other news I'm going to a B-Sens game tonight! Pictures are sure to follow!!