Tuesday, November 27, 2007

CIOs and Parents

I just read this quote,

CIOs make lousy parents because they are never home; they make great grandparents because they can afford to retire early

, and it sounds painful but true. I'm glad I'm not farther up the manager chain since my family is more important to me! Maybe once the kids are in grade school ...

The Case Against DRM

Scott Bradner is one of those Internet people I respect. I don't even know where to start on why ... I'll let his Postel Award speak for itself, and just say that's why. I was catching up on Scott Bradner's column in Network World because I enjoy his succinct opinions. This one on DRM’s future on the Internet got off to a good start, and turning to an Andrew Odlyzko paper [Digital rights management: Desirable, inevitable, and almost irrelevant] just sealed the deal since I respect Andrew Odlyzko's ability to counter popular positions with strong arguments backed up with solid data and analysis. Put the two of those in the same article against DRM, and I suffer a terrible case of the Me too opinion!

The only point I would add is one made by Professor Gary Bishop: the whole recording industry (music and movies) wouldn't exist without the very technology that they're fighting with DRM. How's that for biting the hand that feeds and created you? Probably not too smart.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Preparations

I was up 1.5 hours last night, after everyone else went to bed. I was working on all of the food preparation that I could do in advance: I mixed the dry ingredients, I set out measuring cups for the wet ingredients, I printed the recipes in order of decreasing bake time leaving out the steps I had already done, and I used a highlighter on the steps that Kurtis usually does.

Organizing by decreasing bake time, having the printed just-what-to-do-to-finish steps, and using the highlighter so I didn't have to answer questions on what to do next was a great idea! Luckily Kurtis thought it was funny (and not bossy ... I was worried he might take it the wrong way) that I had marked his contributions with highlighter. I don't think he read anything else on that page.

I only needed one hour this morning to make tropical fruit crumble, cranberry-raisin muffins, buttermilk biscuits (the egg wash turned out quite golden, but next time I won't put it on so thick), turkey gravy, cinnamon cream cheese icing for the existing banana cinnamon snacking cake (for our niece's birthday), and a veggie platter.

Usually I'm not that organized with night-before prep and a printed checklist, so (a) I don't use his skills or my time as well, then (b) I'm running late, so as a consequence (c) I'm stressed. Yuck!

One of my famous sayings is Never rush to have fun! and I definitely think I've discovered a new way to accomplish that. I've got to remember this approach for Christmas, and for the baking season next year!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sippy Cups

Now that I have some experience, here's the report on sippy cups.

You do not want the Nuby valve-free sippy cups while breastfeeding! To open the silicone valve, the child bites the valve. Yeah, I don't think I need to say more. After some chewing on the valve, it's no longer drip-free. I discovered this all over my lap while driving out.

You do not want any sippy with a snap-on lid (ours is also Nuby). You want a lid that screws down so the lid doesn't pop off when the child drops it.

Speaking of dropping, you want a sippy valve that's hard to install because you do not want the valve falling out when the cup is dropped. It's a bonus if the valve's easy to replace (you can buy more).

What we like best are the Circo sippy cups from Target that are never in stock around here. For night-time drinking, Karston prefers the Circo sippy with two handles (the model for younger children). Second place, at least if you already have Avent bottles, is an Avent bottle with the Avent Non-Spill Soft Spout. Karston likes the soft spout better than the hard one, and that seems fair to me. You'll also want the handles to go with the spouts. The Avent dome lid should help if it wants to leak during travel. One nice feature of the Avent spouts is that you can separate the valve into two parts to clean it out. (I finally learned why people buy pulp-free orange juice, a product I thought had no redeeming features: it's so that you don't have to clean pulp out of the sippy valve!)

We'll try the Nalgene sippy bottle soon.

After 12 to 18 months, sippy cups are a convenience to prevent messes; Karston can drink from a cup, and sometimes prefers that. On the other hand, he also pours what's in a cup other places, too. (He only gets water in a cup.)

Sunbeam Mixmaster 12c

Last night, I scrubbed for a long time. My maternal grandmother's Sunbeam Mixmaster (model 12c) had accumulated crust. I brought it home after her funeral, but I didn't want to use it without a good cleaning. I don't have the manual, but I have the chrome stand mixer, two glass bowls, and a pair of beaters. Apparently this is considered the last of the classic Sunbeam Mixmasters, introduced in 1957.

Now I'm inspired to bake something using it ... too bad I already have tea cake, cupcakes, bread, and casserole in the house! Well, Thanksgiving is coming soon, and that means cooking season.

I had been eyeing the Cooks 5-quart stand mixer, but now I'll see how the Mixmaster works for me.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cashbox after Quicken import

As I noted before, I figured out how to get a clean export from Quicken 2002 that imports into Cashbox. I only exported 2007 data, nothing earlier. Of course, the next thing I noticed was that I didn't have a balance forward from 2006, so the totals were wrong. So I entered the balance forward amounts manually only to discover the frustration: the 12/31/2006 entry sorted to the most recent position, after all of the 2007 entries. Yarg, well I'm tough, so I went to the raw data (the plist files in ~/Library/Application\ Support/Cashbox/Accounts/) and started editing. First I moved the 2006 entry to the top from the bottom. No dice. Then I paid attention to the 2007 entries imported from Quicken ... the year field of the date was 0007 instead of 2007! Since I wanted to change as few entries by hand as possible, I changed 12/31/2006 to 12/31/0006 in the plist files, and now everything looks right in Cashbox. (I suspect Quicken 2002 used YY instead of YYYY, so this is probably more of a Quicken feature than a Cashbox bug.)

Flu Shot

I had a flu shot Wednesday morning about 9 AM because I've spent too much time being sick over the past two months, and my left shoulder is still sore! (This was my first flu shot. I so rarely get sick, maybe once every five years, that it's not worth my time.) At least I feel fine, which is a relief when the kid had a small green spitup before breakfast this morning, but that was some shot for me still to feel it 2.5 days later! On the other hand, I did get stuck twice. I was concentrating on not flinching for the injection, but apparently I clenched my shoulder muscle at the wrong time and the needle jumped out the first time.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mac Sleep Issues

For years, I've seen a problem with sleep on desktop Macs running OS X (both mine and my mother's). What's odd is that I never saw this problem with laptops going to sleep. I decided that the problem was probably caused by having multiple hard drives in my Mac towers. Although I have a home network, my mother did not have one when her Mac crash-on-wake-from-sleep problem started. The work-around is to (remember to) select Sleep from the Apple menu instead of letting it go to sleep on its own.

Things I tried:

I tried unplugging all USB peripherals except mouse and keyboard (pain in the rear) before sleep.

Remove the SCSI card. (There's a G4 Firmware Update for that problem. On a side note, I got rid of a random kernel panic when I removed the CompUSA USB card, so don't discount removing cards.)

Use different time values for sleep, monitor sleep, and hard drive sleep.

On laptop, make sure that a/c and battery settings are the same in Energy Saver if having wake from sleep problems when changing a/c status.

Delete /var/db/SystemConfiguration/com.apple.PowerManagement.xml as often as needed.

Reset PMU. (How to do this depends on your hardware. Search Apple.)

Of course those didn't work.

Here's the twist, support coming from an unusual direction. My boss' boss also uses a Mac, and often asks me support questions. Yesterday, however, I learned a trick from him. John said he'd been having trouble with sleep until he changed the order of his hard drives. Apparently if OS X is installed on the second drive (and I'll have to think about what that means when I don't have a SCSI ID; maybe he means IDE slave instead of IDE master), he has sleep problems. He figured that out when Leopard wouldn't install on the blank second drive he uses for backups. (With cable select, you can just pull the master.) I think I need to open cases and take a peek to see if I can explain the problems we've had for years!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I've been looking at Cashbox as a Quicken alternative for OS X. I want an application with a nice Mac user interface (preferably Aqua), that shows balances for multiple accounts (preferably with transfers), and has a good reconcile. I know Cashbox doesn't support investments, but it has import and export options to lure me in.

Except I couldn't import the QIF file I just exported from Quicken 2002 Deluxe. Show stopper. Too much to re-enter by hand!

Since it was easy, I decided to try the suggestion to change the line endings (even though the application wasn't Cashbox, maybe some tips are generally applicable; especially since I saw ^M everywhere). In Terminal, I ran the command

cat JustExportedFromQuicken.qif | tr '\r' '\n' > ImportThis.qif

and the updated file imported just fine into Cashbox! Woo-hoo!

I do like the Bill Scheduling in Quicken to remind me when bills are due (but iCal can remind me too), and I figured out how to get around Quicken moving my account windows (if I close all account windows before I quit Quicken, when I re-launch and re-open, the account windows will show up where I put them before), but the company's support in general and of Mac OS X in specific is miserable. So I'd rather not support Intuit!

Monday, November 12, 2007


When we were in Wisconsin, I saw Windows Media Center in action. Mind you, I'm not tempted by Windows, and I don't have the hardware to hook my TV to my Mac. (Actually, I may, if a certain creative idea works.) But if I were to feel tempted, lifehacker mentioned iTheater, and it looks very similar, only it's free software that runs on a Mac. I can't wait to see the plugins! (I'll need to compare it to CenterStage, though.)