Mystery solved, but eewwwwww!

My preferred method

So, our house has a detached garage in our backyard. The reason I mention that will make sense in a moment. In that garage, I keep a rat trap placed in the corner as we’ve seen evidence of rats about. No biggie. I check on it every few days and once or twice a year, I dispose of anything that falls victim to it.

About five weeks ago, the rat trap (show left) was missing. Since it’s near some cabinets, I suspected that a trapped rat dragged it behind one of the pedestal. Nope. Under the shelves? No. Next to some bags? Uh uh. It was just gone. Very strange, indeed.

This past weekend I was working on the pond and I saw something at the bottom. I believed that one of the fish had died. Unfortunate, but it happens. When I went to scoop it out, something didn’t look right. I first noticed the nose and whiskers and then quickly saw the trap hanging off the right shoulder. The body was a bit bloated, but that’s to be expected.

I’m glad the mystery is finally solved, but, man, what a way to go.

From 2001 to 2012 in one afternoon

In the computer class I’m teaching for my kids, we built a PC from scratch a few months ago. Since it was assembled from parts, I simply re-used a Windows XP license that I had. It works (even with new hardware), it’s solid, and I’m familiar with it. The downside, of course, is that it will be out of support in 2014 and is three versions behind the newly-released Windows 8. Fortunately, Microsoft has finally taken a page from Apple’s book and made upgrading affordable. I had the time this weekend so decided to take the plunge.

So, for the $39 upgrade, you purchase online, download and installer, and upgrade the system in-place. When upgrading XP, the only part you can keep is the user data. All programs need to be re-installed. You can also burn the installer to a DVD for installing again in the future.

I kicked-off the upgrade before running out and saw the results a few hours later when I returned home. No smoldering pile of ash. No blue screen of death. A few minutes later, and I was ready-to-rock.

The don’t-call-it-Metro interface is interesting. I’ll give them credit for creating a unified UI to be used on mobile, tablet, and desktop versions of Windows 8, but it certainly is more suitable for touch-input devices than a keyboard-and-mouse desktop device. It’ll take some getting used to. This isn’t meant to be a Windows 8 review so you’ll have to look elsewhere if you want that perspective.

Anyway, if you are upgrading from XP, everything other than C:\Documents and Settings gets put in C:\Windows.old so you still have access to previous applications and system data. A bunch of application installs later, I’m pretty much back to where I began, just 11 years newer. All-in-all, not too painful of an experience.

Digging through the virtual garage

I finally got around to archiving some old Iomega Zip and Jaz cartridges before the media they’re on goes bad or, more likely, I can no longer get the drives to function on a working system.

While digging through the disks, I ran across the following commercial from when I worked at EntryPoint (before RedZone/Sony). I was involved (off-screen) in the production which was done at a church in Santa Barbara. It was an interesting experience that went all day and into the night before wrapping. If I’m not mistaken it was made in spring of 2000 or perhaps a bit earlier (late 1999).

EntryPoint never really took off and I left for RedZone when they got within 90 days of insolvency later that year.

Media can’t be trusted

I’ve been a CrashPlan user for years and do recommend them. This is an interesting graphic that they produced regarding media reliability. I tend to roll my eyes when “Cloud” is mentioned and doubt that even Code 42 will be around “100+ years” from now, but the most interesting is the fact that media generally can’t be trusted. Do backups, often, and in multiple combinations. Sound familiar?

Backup Storage Media Lifespan Infographic

© 2012 Code 42 Software, Inc.


Bella in 2003

Bella during better days


Back in February, we noticed that our aging cat, Bella, had an inflammation of her cheek so took her in to the vet. At about eighteen years, it wasn’t surprising to learn that it was a tumor. She carried on quite well until yesterday when she wouldn’t eat breakfast.

We took her back to the vet and after examining how things had progressed over the months, the prognosis just wasn’t good. There was an option to perhaps buy her a few days or weeks, but really, it was time to do the loving and merciful thing.

We will miss her particularly charming style of orneriness which was balanced quite nicely with her affection.

Several years ago, I did the mental math comparing the approximate lifespans of each of our then four pets and guestimated that we may loose them in relatively short order. With one per year, so far, I’m sorry that my theory is working out.

“Bella was the best cat who ever lived in the whole world since cats have ever existed ever.”


My problem with surveys

At work this week, we went over employee feedback survey results from a survey originally taken last fall. This is a survey used by many organizations and while some interesting information is presented, there are limits.

My primary problem is that the approximately 75 questions were all based on a 5-point scale. That is a chief complaint for me. I believe that everyone views numerical scales differently. I can usually think of how something could be better or worse so, as a result, I very rarely select the top or bottom selection (i.e., 5 or 1 in a 5-point scale). I realize that it artificially constrains my responses which is its own problem. On the other hand, I’m sure there are plenty of people that have no qualms using 5 or 1 and probably a few that overuse 5 or 1. Does that mean everything gets evened out? Probably (to a degree).

I’m happy that we decided at work to not only review the survey looking at the top and bottom results, but emphasized the thoughts and perspectives as to why items may be high or low. In my team, we spent two hours on it and had a really good talk. Now the challenge is to do what I can to change the things I can and to affect change on the things I can’t.

I’m on vacaaaaaation!

I do so like this time of year. Vacation for IT folk (most information workers, too, I suspect) is a tough situation. So much of what we do is unique to our experience, skill, or responsibility so work that is not done often waits for you to return. That makes taking a day (or a week) off less of a vacation and more putting off the inevitable.

Our company is kind enough to shut down between Christmas and New Year’s and for us (in IT), it is really a treat. Sure, we have to make sure the storage and other systems keep working but, unless something falls over, this next week is a true break. I was able to leave today back down to inbox zero and if I don’t get paged, will not look again until eleven days from now. I’m unable to go into much detail, but this has been one of the most stressful years for me at work and can certainly use this time.



In yet another time where I can’t tell if I should be proud or embarrassed as a parent. Here’s a brief conversation between my wife (B) and my daughter (K, 14):

B: What’s my cell phone number?

K: I don’t know.

B: What’s Jenny’s number?

K: 867-5309