Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monitoring Web Page Changes

One thing I need to do periodically at work is to monitor for web page changes. By periodically, I mean once or twice a year, just long enough for me to forget completely. For some reason, it seems wrong to depend on my work laptop to do this; I wanted a web service.

The one that should never have been on my list was PageHammer. The site takes forever to load, and it would never let me register. I liked the teaser feature of customizable intervals, but it's got to work ya know. Bah humbug.

I tried FollowThatPage; it works, but I wish I could change the interval. Weekly is often enough for many things I check online. I like the keyword matching (or excluding) feature so I can pinpoint the interesting changes. The batch upload and Firefox extension are useful bonus features. The Firefox extension swayed me, as it looks like the developers are active, and interested in ease of use.

The other promising one was ChangeDetect. This service also supports bulk import, also filters for regexp and negative regexp, and could even throttle back to monthly checks. However, I'm leery of services that have a paid tier when I have exactly one web page in this "must check once or twice a year" category. (It's not worth much money to me when I can put a reminder on my calendar for the low-tech route.)

I think ChangeDetection.com would also work, but it doesn't lure me in promising some of the features that caught my eye from the other services.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

NAS and home server

We've been talking about re-purposing an old computer to be a home server, for easy sharing of cute kid photos, but we decided against it for two reasons. One, building your own server takes a serious amount of time that we would rather spend playing with those cute kids. And two, even putting a small price on our time for building a server and then adding in the energy costs for a year of running an old computer instead of a new NAS just doesn't add up.

(Our uses: cross-platform file sharing especially media like photos, and backup which is why RAID is so attractive.)

So I went through the NAS comparison charts and the reviews, and settled on Synology or Qnap. Daddy convinced me to look at RAID 5, so I went through it again. The bottom line for us, balancing features (how to get on the list), performance (how to make the short list), and price (tie-breaker), is the Synology CS-407 (not 407e) or the Qnap TS-509. Since I don't care between 4 and 5 drives, I figure I'll go for the cheaper 4-bay model. And newegg generally has the best price and certainly good support so that's easy too. Whew. Not cheap, but it's a well-researched decision now.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Protein and Sleep

Ring ring ring! We have a winner!

Now I understand why the doctor (didn't blow me off and) said soy protein sensitivity when I said I thought Cale slept better when I didn't eat soy: because even sleeping problems can be caused by protein sensitivity. Since I also think eggs are in this boat (probably egg white protein, thanks Daniel!) of causing baby sleep problems as well, that leaves me wondering just what protein is safe for me to eat, and soon safe for Cale to eat in baby food form.

One warning! When I was researching GERD, I learned that Similac Alimentum and Enfamil Nutraminagen are both milk-based. Both are broken down to be less likely to cause digestive upset for infants just sensitive to casein, but they are not strictly milk-free.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Book Review: Backpacking With Babies and Small Children

I read the book Backpacking with Babies and Small ChildrenBackpacking With Babies and Small Children recently. I can't say I learned anything that wasn't common sense, but this would be a gentle place to start if I wanted to hike with my kids and were worried about getting started. The same things that matter for adults also matter for children:

  • wear appropriate layers of comfortable clothing
  • be prepared for potty needs (and please don't leave dirty diapers out there!)
  • be prepared to eat and drink
  • have reasonable expectations for distance and time
  • be prepared to change your plans with the circumstances

In addition, you do need to think about entertaining children on the trail, and how to carry them (or otherwise take a break) when they say they're tired of walking (that could just mean boredom).

There's historical perspective on what you had to do before REI had several product lines for these needs that should appeal to DIY-ers.

This morning, I had a conversation with the manager in the office next to mine, and he said it is important to go outside with your children. His children have grown up before he blinked, and he realizes that he has raised two indoor children although that was never his intention and not his upbringing. I can see how I would fall into that trap myself (I just want to squeeze in a little more work, since we're swamped), so I thanked him for the reminder to work for a better Big Picture. No excuses! Get outside with the kids!

Mike Fabiaschi

I worked with Mike Fabiaschi, first at Aprisma and then again at Enterasys. Fun! After Aprisma, I said I would follow any company that he led. When I heard he was the new CEO for Enterasys (a vendor we already used), I literally ran down the hall to tell one of my co-workers that this was the best news he had heard in years even if he didn't know it yet. I was right, too.

This morning I heard that Mike passed away in his sleep. I will miss the heady thrill and hard work of working with Mike. But most of all, I will miss a dear friend. He was a great guy to know, and I'm honored to have had that opportunity but deeply saddened that it ended so soon. It's just so hard for me to get a handle on him not being there. Someone so active just disappeared, and it just doesn't feel right. At least it was peaceful, but I still need to figure out how to handle it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

This Cynical World

When you turn into our neighborhood, there's a huge gouge of a puddle where someone(s) can't stay on the road for the turn. We've never seen the bad driver(s), so the guesses are wild. I think it's the FedEx driver since he has such trouble with our easy driveway. (He delivered a package today. It's funny that such a big van has such a high-pitched horn; I thought it was one of Karston's toys at first!) Kurtis thinks it could be teenage driver(s), and that sounds reasonable too. However, the prevailing theory is that it's the school bus.

Here's the cynical view of the world. The school superintendant moved into our neighborhood this spring, and the school bus' hole got patched this summer. It may sound harsh, but I was rooting for someone (FedEx or teenager) to lose an axle and learn a lesson about staying on the road and in your lane. Well, what we learned is that it's not the schoolbus. The patch was gouged just a few hours after it was set, and the school buses weren't running during the summer break. In fact, the bad driver (or drivers) is now taking the turn in the neighborhood even wider, and gounging the grass to the outside of the patch.

But that's the way the world works: school super sees a purported school bus problem that could lead to an expensive bus axle repair, and the hole that's been here longer than our six years of seeing it gets fixed within months.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Key Battery

Last week, Daddy drove to a meeting on a carpool day. The parking permit was up when he left, but not when he got back. PANIC! Our joke was that parking is so bad around here, the worst thing a thief could do would be to leave your car in the lot after taking the most valuable item, the parking permit!

Today we switched off who was at work over lunch, and Daddy reminded me to move the parking permit from my car to his when I left. I slogged through the rain, got to his car, and then remembered that I don't have a key to it anymore. The key was at home waiting for us to repair it because it quit working.

In this case, if I had had the dead key anyway, I could have used the valet portion of the key to unlock it to hang up the permit. Oops. I decided that this was a gentle reminder to fix the key. Annoying but not urgent, so don't wait until it is urgent. I can take a hint from life.

Of course, other than replacing the battery (since I have the oldest key to that car), we didn't know where to start. Like how to access the battery. So I asked Google. And thankfully, the internet knows!

The answer is to remove the valet key, use it to depress the button just under the ledge of the valet key, and the battery portion slides out. I know that sounds vague, but that was enough for me once I had the key in my hands. But of course if that's not enough for you, there's even a YouTube video. Good old internet to the rescue!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Every time I have a weekend alone with Cale, I learn something about him. This (third) time is the least important discovery, but I learned that Cale is a very hungry, orally fixated child. He nursed as often as he could talk me into lifting my shirt. His grasp is much improved, so get this shirt out of my way is obvious. He ate baby food, and complained if the spoon wasn't back with more food soon enough for him. He eats more baby food for Daddy, though; he would taper off by staring at my chest. Cale was also interested in everything that I ate. We never saw this from Karston, but Jen says Tasha knows that Mom's food is better, so I think Cale's normal, and we're going to learn what normal child eating is like finally. When I reached for a tortilla chip, Cale reached for my chip. I gave him a really large chip to grab and suck until he broke it (nothing choking hazard sized for him!). When I drank water from a straw, Cale went to town sucking condensation off the bottom of my cup. More, more, more! I'm grateful he's eating baby food because I couldn't supply that much! Unlike Karston, Cale eats. Cale is hungry.

He also wanted to touch me at all times, so he kept my hours to sleep near me, and he rode in his Baby Bjorn or Gerry backpack almost constantly. I need a shower! Thank goodness Daddy's home.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Slow Pump

Tuesday afternoon, I pumped about 9 or 10 ounces of milk; expected for 3:30 in the afternoon. Tuesday night / Wednesday morning at 1:30 am, I only got about 4 ounces; about half what I expected. My breast pump, an Ameda Purely Yours 2005 now pumping for my second child, sounded like it was hesitating halfway through the suction portion of its cycle. It started off fine, then had a few hesitations, and by the end of the 10 minutes of pumping, it was hesitating all the time. (I only pump for 10 minutes now; it was the happy medium time for the first child, and I'm willing to go on experience this time around.)

I was sure it was broken and not sure what I was going to do. I can't last long (and go to work, and stay sane) without my breast pump! Just in case you're in this boat, don't stay up all night wondering what you should do, like I did. Use my backup plan instead. You go to the nearest hospital (I know my nearest hospital has excellent lactation services) and you rent a breast pump until you have a replacement!

So Wednesday morning when I got up, Daddy headed to baby food and I headed to breast pump. I wanted Mr. Fix-It to hear the pump's hesitation. Well, it didn't make the bad sound at all, so that idea fizzled. I even went to 12 minutes! However, I got less than 4 ounces, which was less than I expected again. So then I had the terrible mom-guilt of self-doubt: did my milk supply drop off already? Uh, dropping by half in less than 12 hours is highly unlikely!

I pumped again this afternoon, later than I should have, at 4. I got almost 12 ounces of milk, as expected, and I'm no longer in a panic about my breast pump or my milk supply. In fact, given that the wiring in our house is known bad in some places, I wonder if I just had it in a bad outlet Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

So I still love my Ameda Purely Yours. I bought that model, even though it was more expensive than similar recommended models, because my dear hubby (after he recovered from a split second recoil of "you want me to pick out what?!") selected it from a line-up of breast pumps in the breastfeeding class we took before Karston was born. He looked at them with his engineer eyes, and very quickly pointed to the Ameda. When I asked why, he said it had the least chance for contamination with the most power. Guess what? The Ameda was one of only two models there with FDA certification, and yes, the Ameda has more power and more suction variability control than the other model. As I said at the time, it's not cheap, but what's the point to marrying a mechanical engineer if I don't trust his opinion on mechanical equipment? He was right then, and he's still right.

I hope not to suffer another round of doubt about my breast pump, but at least I've got the backup plan if I do need to wait for a replacement.

Monday, September 8, 2008

On Duplicate Key Update

This morning I was trying to copy a permissions-customized mysql.users table from the production server to its backup and development servers. Of course in about 2 seconds, I get a message of "Duplicate entry whatever for key numever" because these servers are already pretty similar. So with a little Google, I found the INSERT ... ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE syntax that should help me with the mysqldump I want to restore. Hopefully I can get myself out of the woods.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Another Baby Lesson

Sometimes I have enough quiet around me that I can listen to what Cale's telling me. (No, my 5-month-old can't talk; it's figurative.) This evening solidified a guess I had in the wee hours this morning. Cale was sleeping remarkably well for his first months, but then he started waking up all night. Very tiring for me! Last night I noticed that he had baby farts almost as soon as I picked him most of the times he cried for me. (Before anyone suggests "cry it out," I'll bring up two issues. I want Karston to sleep, so loud crying in the adjacent room is bad, and when Cale is bawling at the top of his lungs with tears in his eyes and he's too young to put on a show, I need to comfort him. If he's just fussing about sleep, I let him fuss himself to sleep. This crying is different, louder, and needs love.) Usually when he wakes up, we settle down to nurse. Well, at 3AM when I was very sore, I discovered that he was perfectly happy to snuggle into my neck and fall right back to sleep. No nursing. In fact, he might've fallen asleep faster without that distraction.

Discovery #1: farts wake him up very unhappy. I need to discover what I should eliminate from my diet.

Discovery #2: he doesn't have to nurse all night. In fact, I don't want him to get accustomed to eating around the clock.

This evening, he was tucked in his crib at 9PM (late because I was baking), and he was crying at 10PM. We just cuddled. That gave me a chance to pump so I can actually go to work too! Useful discovery.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Researching GERD

I did some research on GERD to see what we can do to help Karston.

Gastroesophageal reflux in infants

  • 15 - 40% improve on a milk-free diet, have casein allergy
  • casein allergy tends to go away at 1 year of age
  • PPI generally more effective than H2 blocker

We saw delayed weight gain (is it "delayed" when he's 3 years old and still smaller than the 2-year-olds at his preschool?), projectile vomiting when he was an infant, and he was hungry all the time (day and night).

However, don't be too fast to medicate. Don't be too slow either, or you'll be in our boat with a small child used cuddles all night and food whenever he wants!

Gastroesophageal reflux disease in children and adolescents

  • raise head of bed
  • avoid chocolate, peppermint, and acidic juices like OJ
  • PPIs more effective

Karston often complains that his tummy hurts, he pounds his chest at odd times, and he really likes a firm adult hand on his tummy (think Napoleon's ulcer pose).

Poor weight gain in infants and children

  • eat often: 3 meals and 3 snacks, about every 2-3 hours

During catch-up growth, the amount of calories and protein that a child eats is more important than the variety of foods eaten. For example, if a child is willing to eat chicken nuggets and pizza, but refuses all vegetables, this is acceptable. At meal and snack time, solid foods should be offered before liquids. Fruit juice should be limited to four to eight ounces of 100 percent juice per day.

Monday, September 1, 2008

You Know You're Tired When ...

You know you're tired when you wake up wondering how long your baby has been crying. I'm a very light sleeper, and usually wake up to the least sound, so I was astounded when I woke up Thursday night wondering how long Cale had been crying. Friday night was Allergic Watch for Karston (I was sure he was OK, but not so sure that I wasn't worried).

Saturday night was almost as notable for the depths of sleep deprivation. I woke up at Cale's first cry, tossed the sheet off ... and had no idea who or where I was. More importantly, I had no idea where to go to rescue the crying baby until I remembered that Cale's room is just across the hall. I did at least know I was supposed to soothe the baby.

We don't know why Karston cried so loudly and so often last night, but Cale woke up for that and I had to keep nursing him back to sleep. Hopefully the kids will sleep better soon, before their parents collapse. We don't get naps on weekdays!