Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I2 SMM is Over

The Internet2 Spring Member Meeting is over and, as expected, it was great. The staff did a phenomenal job, the program committee lined up interesting presentations and I learned something at just about all the talks I attended. If there was a negative it would be all of the closed meetings. Some of the groups must have recognized that and had both public and private sessions. I tended to focus on a couple of technical working groups, the SEGP/K12 sessions and sessions involving identity management. All of the discussions showcasing technology that we won't see in Alaska for years, I ignored even though they were probably interesting. One of the things that I did find interesting was the Cisco Telepresence demo. They used a remote counselling session for the demo and it was obvious that the resolution and clarity really did add to the experience. The one thing that I could have used the Mac for was for an impromptu audio conference. I received several emails from other multicast working group members who would have liked to participate in the meeting on Tuesday. I could have used the soft phone to SIP into the I2 conferencing server. I wonder if the contract they have with the hotel would prohibit that sort of activity. I should probably bring it up with the I2 staff before the next meeting. I did ask about an audio link and, apparently, it is $250 from the hotel to enable a phone line. What a racket.

Even though I had forgotten to pack my Byetta (medication) it was manageable. I did take ½ of a pill (sulfonylurea) yesterday though since a small group of us from the university went to a good Greek place and I figured that I'd probably have too many carbs. Unlike a lot of other conferences I've attended, the food choices here were pretty healthy. At lunch time, there was always a great salad bar and several veggie offerings. Healthy desserts such as plain yogurt with nuts and honey as well as a good selection of fresh fruit and fish. Very little red meat and all very tasty. The only exception that I noticed is the apples served with lunch had absolutely no taste. How do you grow an apple that has absolutely no taste? I didn't use the exercise room at all on this trip. Not enough time. Today was raining but did get a little bit if walking in.

Just as an experiment, I brought a PC laptop with Linux installed on it instead of my Mac. The only negative is that I can't sync my phone and download new podcasts for the flight home. I think all I really need is something with email, a web browser, a productivity suite (OpenOffice in this case) and SSH. I didn't "need" any other applications. I took care of all issues that came up in Barrow as well as getting stuff done for the university. I did my presentation using the OpenOffice PowerPoint clone, worked on several Excel spreadsheets and edited Word documents all without any Microsoft products. I must admit that this laptop has a safety net since it is set up dual boot with Windows XP which I did use on the flight down to watch a movie. The keyboard is a little hard to type on since it is slightly smaller than my Mac and kind of shifted to the left but other than that it worked fine. The built in carrying handle made it very easy to carry around and the battery lasted most of the day. Anyone looking for a sturdy PC should consider the Getac W130. When I get back, I'm installing solid state drives in this and my Mac laptops. Performance may improve, battery life may go up but mainly, I won't have to worry about the hard drive ever crashing.

I fly back tomorrow and get home at 12:30 AM but that flight is usually late so we'll see.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

On the Road Again (Again!)

I'm sitting in the Seattle airport after taking the red-eye. I remember taking off then the next thing I knew they were waking people up before landing in Seattle. Then a three hour layover before the next flight to Washington D.C. One of my meds got misplaced during packing so that may be a challenge on this trip. I guess I'll just have to do extra walking even if it is on the treadmill. Just as I typed the last line, I realized that I also forgot my exercise clothes. This is a good start to the trip. I do have some alternative oral medication but it isn't anywhere near as effective as the Byetta. Plus I tend to get hypoglycemic if I don't eat enough carbs. I haven't had that problem for years.

Not too many miles this last week but I think I'm up to about 1650 miles on the Nike+ gadget. I'm still doing well on several of the challenges but that is only due to the miles in February and March. Kind of strange that once we have warmer weather, miles drop. We'll see what happens over the next couple of weeks.

Monday evening - I thought that I had done pretty well but the carbs must have snuck in. Lots of vegetables, very little bread and salads for lunch and dinner. Maybe the tasty balsamic salad dressing had a lot of sugar. Anyway, it's 1:00 in the morning and I have high BG levels. I suspect that I'll be exhausted tomorrow morning. I tried to go for a walk this evening (after 8:00) but it was still miserably hot.

Today, there were a lot of advisory group (AG) meetings. I attended the K12 AG, Application and Middleware AG, Shibboleth working group and InCommon Federation meetings. Good material at all of them though I had to leave the InCommon meeting early due to a staff meeting. All of them applicable to the University, AK20, or BASC. Tomorrows agenda is very full with many interesting offerings in every time slot. These Internet2 member meetings are always great. Lots of content hardly any fluff. I also worked on the Perl program running on the server in Barrow. I must have deleted a line by accident when I was "cleaning up" before flying out on Saturday night. No loss of data so no problem. Plus no connectivity problem here during the meeting. Imagine that.

Tuesday Evening - Several meetings today including the Internet2 Multicast Working Group (I'm chair). As usual most of them were pretty interesting. There was a question on the number of sites using multicast during the inauguration event last January and there was a Quilt presentation on the event. Apparently, this was the largest spike in traffic ever seen on the network. Unfortunately, they didn't collect any multicast statistics. There was less of the "gee whiz" of previous meetings and more focused on what are we going to do now. That was one of my agenda items for the multicast WG meeting but we really never got around to it. So I guess I need to initiate a discussion on the list.

The program committee has done a fabulous job again in coming up with the selection of sessions.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Still Chugging Along

This has really been a couple of exhausting weeks but that really isn't a very good excuse for not posting anything. I have been working on getting a bunch of software running up in Barrow at the new science facility to track network utilization. For the last week, I've been learning Perl all over again and have written a bunch of programs to take network flow data and feed it into a MySQL database, merge that data with registration and lease data and finally summarizing the results in a bunch of dynamic web pages. I haven't done these type of things in years. Learning how to do the MySQL with Perl was kind of fun since it was new and getting the initial web pages working was satisfying but now I'm left with the task of making it all look good and that is less fun. I still enjoy learning new things.

I've been getting some walking in. The weather has been pretty nice the last couple of days and there were several opportunities to walk to lower campus and even one evening when I got in about 7 miles. Not too bad considering how busy I've been. I also just went past the WIN for Alaska 4 month "Get the Point" goal so I guess I can stop logging all of my activity. (I probably won't since I'm addicted to these programs.) At my last medical check up, my doctor wanted me to continue to loose weight and try and drop my cholesterol. It isn't out of line but he wants it to be much better than normal. My weight has finally started dropping again though I haven't figured out why. My diet hasn't changed much though I am conscientiously trying to include more vegetables.

I was really tempted to try and get the bike across the 5 feet of water-covered ice in front of the garage but decided against it considering how difficult it was to even walk across it. I guess I'm afraid that I'll drop the bike and it'll probably be a bear to pick up on the ice. Once across that, it looks pretty good everywhere else. There is still some black ice on some of the university roads early in the morning. It'll be clear once I get back from Washington week.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I finally got around to connecting my iPod to the computer at the same time I had an Internet connection and updated all my walking/jogging sessions. I'm already 682 miles towards my 1000 mile goal that I set back in January. I have slacked off a bit with the two trips to Barrow in the last 3 weeks. It seems as if I go in spurts with this Nike+ thing. In February, I was really motivated to win some Nike+ challenges and now I'm more concerned with my efforts in Barrow. Today, I got in a modest walk late this afternoon and the weather felt great though I did feel a bit warm. Time to change coats I guess. Hopefully, I'll stay motivated to meet the goal soon in the next couple of months. There is still too much ice in our driveway to get the bike out but another week of balmy weather and maybe...

I started to work on my perl program a bit and boy am I rusty. It's been a while. I'm going to try and use MySQL this time instead of the Berkeley DB that I did years ago. It looks kind of challenging and I need the mental exercise. Plus I have a good idea of what I want the database to do and it's pretty straight forward.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! This year, I'm spending Easter in Barrow. The IT person here had to leave unexpectedly, so I'm filling in while he's out. I did get a lot done on the NetReg system while I was here and it is deployed on two of the networks here at the facility. It looks good except for some page caching on some browsers. It looks like I will make the CPS deadline though I'm just authenticating to a radius server I set up last time I was here. Ideally, I would like to authenticate to the Active Directory domain we set up last year. Since it still isn't set up enough to use, I decided to just use the radius server I had set up for wireless authentication.

It is still cold and windy up here (-8°F and 15mph). Yesterday, I made a couple of round trips to the BARC and it was a challenge to walk a straight line. The wind kept blowing me towards the side of the road while walking and it really felt cold. There was a great talk given by a UAF faculty member doing research on oil spills so it was well worth the walk.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Back in Barrow

I'm back in Barrow again much sooner than I had originally expected. Not because of any problems with the installed IT infrastructure, but they needed someone on short notice to provide IT support. It didn't seem reasonable to me to ask one of the OIT desktop techs to come up here on such short notice especially with Easter coming up. Plus, I need to get other projects up here done. Hopefully, I'll have some time to work on it. I had to "hit the ground running" so to speak since there were a number of problems right off the bat. To compound it, there was a 20 minute power outage this afternoon. The installed UPS on the old server room ran out of juice about 5 seconds before the power came back. Oh well. Thankfully all of the servers came back up without issues. I think that I will head back early to the hut just so I don't get completely exhausted again.

I'm going to miss the 5k race that I had signed up for. That's kind of a bummer. Especially, since I don't really sign up for that many. I ran out to the new building and back a couple of times this afternoon since I needed to go out to one of the modules to debug a problem but it was only about ½ mile round trip. Kind of awkward to run wearing a parka, beaver hat and gloves. But it is still below zero here with a slight breeze.

Thursday Evening - Today was cold and windy but I did manage to get in a couple of miles. As long as the wind is at your back it isn't so bad. It is a bit of a challenge for me dealing with all of the Windows issues here. I have forgotten a lot of things about MS Windows since I don't work with it on a regular basis anymore. To make it worse, all of the BASC machines run Vista. Mostly OS X and Linux for me these days.

Unlike yesterday when it was nice and sunny all day, I'm really freezing in this office. The sun hasn't shown all day and the wind really seems to remove heat from the building quickly and makes it feel much colder. I worked about half of the time in the old building and half in the BARC resolving some minor problems. Some of the projects here are starting to wrap up and folks are making plans to shut down their experiments and get them packed up and shipped back home. But other projects are starting up. Overall, it is a much more interesting and challenging environment for me than back at UAF.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hectic Weekend

I thought things would slow down once I got back from Barrow. Didn't happen. On Thursday, there was a couple of meetings scheduled and I was volunteered to cook for a fundraiser at the high school. Of course, there was the Asian cooking class on Thursday evening. I don't even remember what happened on Friday. There was a missions conference on Saturday and I had volunteered to help out from 9 to 8. After that, I was pretty tired and sore. Today, I found out that I need to head back up to Barrow later this week but before I leave, I had to install an outlet for a new kitchen range. The existing range was wired in directly (no outlet) and the new one needed an outlet. So off to Home Depot to get the appropriate outlet and an appliance cord for the new one which is supposed to be delivered tomorrow morning sometime. Plus had to remove the trim and support pieces that were used to support the old drop-in range. I hope there is enough clearance for the new one to slide in.

Tuesday Afternoon - The new range arrived this morning and all of my wiring worked fine and it did fit nicely into the opening. The only thing that didn't fit was it seems as if our counter tops are about half an inch too low so the stove sits above the top of the counter instead of resting on top of the edges like it is designed to do. I guess we need new counter tops. I thought there was a problem with the height of the counter when I replaced the dishwasher back in 2000 and it wouldn't fit in under the counter unless I trimmed off about ¼ inch form the counter.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Last IHP Session

On Thursday morning, I had my final IHP session and received my Fred Meyer gift card as my reward for attending the 4 months of sessions. Like most other things health related, I don't think the gift card provided much motivation. What was important was the accountability. Every session, I had new exercise and food goals and it was important for me to try and meet them. I only managed to lose 5 lbs over the last 4 months so I didn't make my weight loss goal but I did manage to drop 3% off my bmi number. I'm calling that a success since it means an increase in muscle mass and a loss of fat. Maybe that is because the little running I do manage is using exercising different muscles than simply walking. I need to try running this weekend since the Beat Beethoven 5k run is next weekend. Again, I don't think I can beat 30 minutes but I do think I can beat my time from last year.

I did get quite a bit of work done on my project in Barrow. Set up a couple of new servers, installed and configured a ton of software on them to collect and process network flow data but one of the most challenging parts remains to be done and that is the Netreg software as well as the reports tying everything together.

On Wednesday night while heading home from the airport, I passed up a person riding a scooter down Farmers Loop Rd. The road was pretty clear but there were still a lot of packed snow in some areas and a lot of snow and ice once you left the main road. I have to admire someone who tries to push the riding season that much. This is a lot different in my mind from the couple riding up to Prudhoe Bay in January since they were on an "adventure" and not simply commuting to work or school. It was about 10:30pm, 9°F, and they were cruising at about 35 mph. Amazing. I'm just hoping I can get out on the bike before the end of this month.