To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

I went to a party at a friend’s house last night.  It was a good social time, far from boring, with plenty of other friends there.  But despite having fun, I was feeling worn out and somehow fell asleep on the couch.  When I woke up, it was already morning and from a quick look out the window, I guessed it was already 8:00 or 9:00.
Then the alarm went off and I woke up again.  It was a little after 6:00 am.
So apparently I’ve started having dreams about getting more sleep.  Perhaps I need to start going to bed earlier?

Migrating to Vista

Two weeks after the new computer (A Dell XPS 420) arrived, life has finally settled down enough for me to start moving all my stuff. Moving the data files was easy enough (I figured out years ago that a LAN is the easiest way to do that), but getting Apache up and running so I could work on some of my web sites turned out to be “painful.”
I’d been running v2.0.50 of the Apache HTTP server on my XP machine for the past five or six years, so my first attempt was to just rerun that install and be done with it. No such luck. The install ended with a message stating that the service hadn’t been installed and nothing further.
My first thought was that Vista’s tightened security was probably responsible, so I logged back in as an admininistrator and ran the install a second time. Still no dice.
Hoping to find some tips for installing under Vista, I headed over to the Apache Project’s web site and discovered that the current version of the HTTP Server was 2.2.8. Aha! Perhaps the new version has some adaptations to handle Vista? (Reading the site later, I discovered that the newest version of Windows mentioned in the online install tips is Windows Server 2003, so perhaps not. Then again, nobody likes to write documentation – myself included – so I don’t really know.)
A quick visit to Google however, searching for the terms Apache, Vista and Install led to a suggestion that perhaps User Account Control (UAC) was to blame and suggested turning it off during the install. Voila!
So, here’s the steps that worked for me:

  1. Login as an administrator.
  2. Go to Control Panel, Go to the “User Accounts and Family Safety” applet, Click on “User Accounts” and then select the option to turn User Account Control off. (You’ll have to reboot at this point.)
  3. Run the Apache 2.2.8 installer, using the recommended settings. (In particular, make the server visible to everyone on port 80.)
  4. Point a web browser to http://localhost/ At this point, you should see the message, “It works.”
  5. Go to c:\Program Files\Apache Software Foundation\Apache2.2\conf and make whatever changes you need to the http.conf file. (Make a copy first, and forget about simply copying the entire file from an earlier version, though you may be able to copy sections. At a minimum, you’ll probably want to change the DocumentRoot to something outside the Program Files tree. You’ll also likely need to change the permissions in the <Directory /> section a few lines further down. )
  6. Once you’ve changed the http.conf file to your satisfaction, log out from the administrator account and log in again as a regular user to make sure the server is still accessible.
  7. Optionally, login again as the administrator, repeat step 2, and re-enable the User Account Control.

I still need to go back and set up PHP, but this was sufficient for me to get back to some more pressing web site work.

Retro Music Videos

YouTube seems to be a good source for music videos these days. Along with the song-parody videos I’ve written about elsewhere, there’s also a wealth of music from way back.
DDMD posted a link to a concert video from the late 70s, and that got me thinking about some of the songs I liked “way back.” (To my amusement, despite being a few years older than DDMD, my nostalgia music comes from a decade later.) I’m not exactly certain when “Men at Work” hit big in the US, only that it was the early to mid eighties.
Twenty-some years later, “It’s a Mistake” seems to have held up pretty well and seems quite relevant given what’s going on in the world.

Ah, for the days when MTV played music… 🙂

Scapegoats and Soundbites

I’ve been meaning to write this post for about a week-and-a-half, but between Farpoint and the subsequent return to everyday life…well, that’s how it goes sometimes.
Before he committed to building a spaceship, Luke wrote an interesting piece about scapegoats (including examples) and why problems are rarely as simple as the various pundits want you to believe. It’s an interesting read any time, but seems particularly relevant during an election year.
And based on Luke’s description of his dog’s activities, I can only assume that once warmer weather arrives, Lancaster is going to smell a bit like New York city.

Weather Forecast

There’s going to be a lunar eclipse tonight and according to the folks on the radio, it should be visible from the DC area.
Therefore, based on the past 10 years worth of evidence that it’s impossible to have interesting astronomical phenomenon visible from the DC area without accompanying heavy cloud cover, I hereby predict that heavy cloud cover will roll in about 15 minutes before the eclipse starts and won’t dissipate until at least 15 minutes after the show ends.
Of course, the fact that this prediction has been made means that the moon will be visible after all. But because there’s an interesting astronomical phenomenon taking place, it can’t be visible and the heavy clouds will roll in anyhow.
Therefore, tonight’s stargazing will feature a spectacular meteor show as the moon, torn asunder by these conflicting forces, spontaneously explodes! This once-in-a-planetary-lifetime event will be viewed by millions of people across the Americas, causing feelings of awe at the wonders of creation, eventually leading to a great spiritual awakening and worldwide peace and well-being.
It’s a pity we won’t be able to see it because of the clouds.
Updated at 8:50pm: As predicted, the night sky has been obscured by clouds. No word on whether the moon has exploded yet.
Updated at 10:30pm: Wylie and I just returned from our evening walk. No sign of the moon exploding yet, but the clouds have disappeared and the moon is visible. When we got back in a few minutes ago, the moon had turned a reddish-brown. I don’t know whether we’ll get any closer to it disappearing into shadow, but I’ll be going out to take a look now and then.
As for the cloudy part of my forecast… well hey, if Doug Hill can get a few wrong, so can I. 🙂
Updated at 11:05pm: Wow! That’s really neat to see! The moon is nearly invisible against the sky except for a small crescent of white.

Sonny's Viper

I don’t remember the exact details of the conversation, but during the 2007 Farpoint convention, I found myself talking with Sonny Wright about his idea for building a replica of a Colonial Viper from Battlestar Galactica. At one point, he told me, “If you guys book a Galactica guest, I’ll build a viper.”
I immediately pointed out that Richard Hatch was one of Farpoint’s guests that year and Sonny therefore owed me a viper.
In June(?), Farpoint added James Callis (the new Galactica’s Gaius Baltar) to the 2008 guest line-up. When I saw Sonny a few weeks later at Shore Leave, he told me he’d already started working out how to build the viper.
Sonny and his team arrived at Farpoint last Friday evening and worked through the night to assemble the pieces. By Saturday, there was a viper parked at the end of the hallway, right outside the main ballroom.
Ain’t she a beauty?
Sonny's Viper

Kicking Cancer's Butt

I’m not entirely certain why I started participating in Relay for Life. I think it was at least in part because a bunch of my friends were taking part and it was a chance to hang out with them. At the time of my first Relay, I was thinking to myself that it was silly to be there, it’s not like I’d ever known anyone with cancer.
Yeah, a little forgetful there. I didn’t know Larry particularly well, but about four years before my first participation in Relay for Life, an acquaintance out in Nevada, Larry Borino, lost his battle with cancer. And although it was about 10 years before I was born, my own grandfather fell victim to cancer. So although I didn’t think about it ten years ago cancer had in fact affected me.
These days, I continue to participate in Relay for Life, and these days I know my reason: I know people with cancer. (Statistically, just about everyone does.)
AJ just had her six month check-up on the 14th. I’m delighted to say that she passed with flying colors and is still cancer-free.
Hodo’s brother Chris is fighting the good fight with colon cancer. I just checked in with her a few days ago and although the news isn’t as good as I was hoping, it was still good news with measurable improvements.
Marauder is coming up on two years since the removal of his cancerous thyroid gland. Despite the passage of time, he’s still finding ways to put the occasional odd twist on his experience.
Most recently, I learned that Bob Greenberger‘s son Robbie has been diagnosed with Leukemia. I’ve met Robbie, but don’t know him well enough to point him out to people. I learned Robbie was ill two weeks ago, but wasn’t sure how much the family was “going public” with the information, so I’ve kept quiet about it.
Catching up on Bob’s blog this morning, it turns out that they’re being very public about it. More than half of Bob’s posts from the past two weeks have been about Robbie’s treatment. If you’re into knitting, Robbie’s sister Kate (a minor celebrity in her own right) is doing a fund-raiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with lots of shiny prizes in the form of very colorful yarn. In just 10 days she’s raised nearly $2,000! (I’m not sure what that particular hue would be, but color me impressed!)
And this all serves as a reminder that it’s time for me to start my fundraising for Relay for Life (coming up the night of May 31 – June 1). If you donated last year, you can be certain that I’ll be asking you again this year. If you’d like to get a head start, you can head on over to and donate online.

Yippie Ki Yay

I know a few folks who are so certain in their political convictions that they’ve already decided how they’re voting in November. (Some probably made up their minds as far back as this time last year.) As for me, I’m nowhere near making a decision yet.
Right now though, one candidate who’s getting a lot of attention is John McClane. He’s a little rough around the edges and a bit of a maverick, but maybe that’s what we need right now. He does have a proven record against terror (Nakatomi Plaza in LA, Dulles Airport, the bombs scattered around New York, and most recently the Internet-based terrorists who were trying to steal financial records).
If nothing else, you have to agree that it would give people pause if the President of the United States ended all of his speeches with his trademark “Yippie Ki Yay” line.

Fun with Software Licenses

As I’ve pointed out before, according to the terms of the software license, iTunes may not be used to control nuclear reactors. Ditto for Google Earth.
This evening I set up my first ever computer running (shudder) Windows Vista.
Seeing no reason to break with tradition, I once more read the click-through license agreement, thus reaffirming my role as the only person on Earth who actually does so. Folks, you may be surprised to learn that in at least this one respect, Microsoft’s license agreement is less restrictive than the ones from Apple and Google. That’s right, nothing in the Windows Vista license agreement (and this single license seems to cover all versions, even the home versions) says you’re not allowed to use it to control nuclear reactors or weapons.
So now you have to decide, should you be more aghast that Apple and Google evidently include such functionality (Why else would they bar you from using it?), or you should instead be horrified that Microsoft allows you to use Windows in this manner? 🙂
(Truthfully, I’d be much more surprised if Microsoft did include such limitations since that would essentially forbid people in those industries from buying the product. And honestly, if you’re setting up embedded control systems, particularly for that sort of work, you’re probably going to be using a much more limited, and much older operating system. That is, one where all the problems are already well-understood and worked around.)
As part of the same computer setup, I also had occasion to read the license for Trend Micro’s PC-cillin. As part of that license agreement, you expressly agree that you will back up your files on a regular basis.
Now that’s what I call a sensible license! It’s about time someone had the guts to make that a requirement.

End of a Journey

Whether you travel by plane, train, boat or automobile, at the end of a long journey you have to exit from the vehicle and move along to whatever you’re doing next. How do you do that?
For example (and the first one is what got me started):

  1. Dogs disembark
  2. Hair stylists depart
  3. Musicians disband
  4. Donkeys tend to be in a hurry, so they haul… well, you know.
  5. For similar reasons, bananas peel out.
  6. Birds and sheep get the flock out of there
  7. Judges disrobe (you and I would get in trouble if we did that!)
  8. Trees leaf
  9. Mathematicians disintegrate.
  10. Songwriters decompose.
  11. Electricians delight.
  12. Travel groups detour.

What groups have I forgotten?