Friday, April 30, 2010

childhood development

The thought of children has had me interested interested in childhood developement and child rearing theory. We aren't pregnant again or anything, its just on my mind.

These are some books that Emily inspired me to take and interest in. I hope to get around to reading at least a few of them. These are amazon links just because it was the best I could come up with for links to the actual books.

LaLa I will miss you

Man the internet is dominated by 800lbs gorillas lately. I was just starting to use LaLa to share links with people so they could listen to the song online. I setup an account a few days ago and now not only has Apple bought LaLa, they are shutting it down on May 31st of 2010.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Good business manuver Nord

I work as the technical contact for my home owners association, and we where unsatisfied with our vendor Nord Enterprises Inc hosting our Association website. It was setup by the Realtor, and was acceptable for the initial marketing of the facility, but the whole framework is clunky in its attempts to be Idiot-Proof™ and the anemic storage offered in the package was far less than I found to be reasonable. We continued with them for a total of 2 years because of some mis-communication between the Treasury Secretary and me, but in the end we made it clear that we intended to transfer out our domain name and take over hosting ourselves. The contract expired, and I began the process of transferring the domain only to be told that for reasons that make a good deal of sense I could not initiate the transfer on my own instead needing the Chairman or several of the Board-members to let Nord know that we wanted to start a domain transfer.

This is not completely unreasonable, but really was just a play in my mind to make renewal the easiest thing. Part of the service that Nord offers is they bundle hosting and Domain Registration into one package, but their site makes it clear that they will transfer the domain (that you own and are paying for) should you be unsatisfied with their service. Relevant quote included below:

Our interest in managing your domain name registration is simply to be a full service vendor and to make having a web site for your community as easy as possible - HOA volunteers are busy enough as it is. So, there is no need to worry that we would ever "hold your domain hostage". We would always make whatever configuration changes are requested, even if it meant pointing your domain to a competitor if we ever failed to keep you completely satisfied with our service.

I finally got my Chairman to request the transfer, on the 16th of July and received the following email.

Joe Driscoll, Nord Customer Support to me Jul 16

Hi Josh,
Sorry for the delay- the domain transfer process is actually out of my hands. I have notified my boss and he will be in touch to give you access to control the domain (and transfer it as well if you'd like).

Thank You,
Joe Driscoll, Nord Support- West Region

I never received an email from his supervisor </shock!> so I sent to following email.

you Joe Driscoll, Nord Customer Support July 31


Unless our contract specified otherwise, your company is in position of a holding domain that does not belong to you. It has been quite some time since we first initiated the request to get the domain transferred, and aside from my daliance in getting a hold of my chairman I have not felt any eagerness on the part of your company to complete this transaction. We are set in our decision to not continue utilizing the service that your company has offered, and would like to move forward with our plans for building a site that meets our needs. Currently I find your company the impediment to those wishes.

My delay aside, I am concerned that I still have not heard from your boss. I would hate to have to press the matter too many more times, I am sure that you know it is bad business holding domains that don't belong to you.

<redacted contact info>

Probably somewhat juvenile of me, but I did ask before and here is the reply I got.
Carl Nordhielm to Joe, me July 31


I’m sorry I have not gotten around to completing this task. I’ll try to get you out of the line of fire.


Please do not pressure Joe. He is not authorized to release domains or take other actions related to non-renewals. That is my duty as owner of the company.

I understand that you will not continue service with us and there is no militant in my not getting to the task. I’m just very busy and also very disciplined that tasks related to current clients take precedence over tasks related to former clients. I will not forget but do point out that responding to threatening emails takes time and motivation away from the task at hand of gifting you a domain name that is legally ours.

Have a good weekend!


Carl Nordhielm

Independent HOAs may utilize our site to locate a quality PM in your market.

From: Joe Driscoll, Nord Customer Support
Sent: Friday, July 31, 2009 1:09 PM
To: Carl Nordhielm
Subject: [Fwd: Re: Website]

Carl FYI,
Josh is pressing for the domain name- see below.

-------- Original Message --------
 <redacted my message for brevity>

At this point Carl has gotten my goat the rest of the emails happened pretty quickly

From me to Carl July 31 10:53am

I hardly saw a threat in the previous email, and I also don't appreciate your back-handedness on the matter. As I didn't know whom to contact Joe was my contact, so I asked for follow up. I did however read a threat to drag your feet in completing the task in your email. Completing tasks prevents you from having to answer emails from previous clients, just a thought no?

excusatio non petita accusatio manifesta?


From Carl to me July 31 11:51am

This is what I took as a threat:

I would hate to have to press the matter too many more times, I am sure that you know it is bad business holding domains that don't belong to you.

In any event, your interpretation of MY email is accurate: the more you distract me from my work (or to use your words, press that matter too many more times), the more I will drag my feet. Giving you something that is legally mine is an act of kindness. I do not feel any reason to be kind to you right now.

If you do choose further communication (I don’t recommend it—it will only cause me to delay even more), please restrict you emails to English. I am ashamed to say I only speak one language.


I had left the house at this point, and stewed on this email for a few hours. I had already registered another domain, but given that I felt we had paid for this one I wasn't about to just let this one lay. After researching the domain expiring procedure, I decided to finish the argument and pick it up in the drop (which is what probably would have happened had I not sent any emails in the first place.

From me to Carl July 31 9:54pm


I suppose if you fail in English you would struggle mightily with Latin. The phrase had to do with defense where there was no accusation, only you accusing yourself. I never suggested you had militant[sic] or ill intent as I am sure that spell check fixed that for you. I did suggest that you hadn't fulfilled your final act of service to a canceled account. Pressing the matter is reminding you that you have not finished your duties. As to your kindness and ownership, if your service is as it says, just minding the domain for the convenience of your customers, and will transfer and not "hold my domain hostage" should we be unsatisfied with your service I would say that fulfilling that would be meeting an obligation, not kindness. If our organization was charged monthly for the service of you maintaining it for us then I think there are very few that aren't Internet bullies that would find your claim of ownership defensible.

The failings in overall service while you had our business are thrown in sharp relief given the outright mistreatment you have afforded me now. Mind you this is not Joe's service, I mean the service you charged us monthly for, that was an utter disappointment of a hosting platform. Joe is without reproach.

Keep the domain, I would hate for your twisted sense of pride to believe that you had done me some kindness by following through.


I never received a reply, and several months later picked up the domain in the drop. I am sure that I could have handled it differently, but given that we paid monthly for their time I think they could have handled it better. I am sure that there are people that appreciate their service, though I cannot imagine who. The HOA's that are hosted with them have to build their own site from the ground up any way, and for what they charge you can get multiple years of hosting on some of the low cost hosting providers with about 10x's the storage. In the end I sat on this post for nearly a year so that I could get the domain picked up and not goad Carl into registering it for the next 3 years just to spite me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Media Center Addons

I haven't played with any media center related gear in a while now, and my vista machine is starting to need the old windows 7 upgrade I have been sitting on for about 4 months now.  I thought I would look around for a better solution than the ugly  Microsoft IR remotes

Electronista had an article a while back about inserts for front side bays to give a more finished media center look, so I thought I would look in on how well received they where.

The highend Antec 30126 VERIS Premier Multimedia Station only had a rating of 2 stars and based on the review of one particularly motivated reviewer I think Antec should have learned that pc enthusiast is an exceptionally hard to please target market.

Next up the middle tierAntec 30125 VERIS Elite Multimedia Station is well liked by the one person that seems to have purchased this item ever, but I am not sure that that is the type of ringing endorsement I would want if I where Antec.

Finally the low end Antec 30124 VERIS Basic Multimedia Station seems like a decent product despite the 3 star rating. In short it looks like the software is terrible, but the product is ok when you let windows find drivers on its own.

Yikes, I was actually excited by these products when they where announced. Glad I didn't buy them I guess.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Parking lot security

The parking lot for my Townhouse Community has been suffering a rash of car prowls of late, and the idea was floated to point a camera at it to try and see what is going on over there. The idea, while great in theory just sounded like a lot of work to me. The parking garage for the building I work in has been suffering lately as well, and given the it needs to the security team I have been seeing first hand the amount of work that goes into identifying a person and tracking suspected prowlers, let alone reviewing footage to find evidence of break ins. To say the least when they asked me for a computer to look at the lot, my fist question was "Who will be reviewing the footage of the lot?"

No one strictly speaking wanted to tackle this one.  I think everyone thought the geek would take care of it.

Great, the camera and machine that records will likely not be setup in my home as I am about as far from the lot as it is possible to be, so I needed a way to remotely view recordings, and check in on the machine from time to time. That of course after I find a software package that can be configured to ignore certain areas of the frame so that trees and road traffic don't trigger the motion tracking and cause the software to record much more footage to be reviewed. After a little bit of testing I found Vitamin d and it appears to meet my needs pretty well. The software assumes a fairly stationary camera, and allows you to define motion areas, and filter the type of activity that will trigger the motion. I plan on using a HP KQ246AA 8.0 MP Deluxe Webcam that I had previously purchased, and run it on the very old and retired media center pc rocking a 1.8ghz Celeron. The machine seizes a little under load, but appears to be able to handle the task.

Having decided on the recording software, I figured I would be remotely controlling it via Logmein, but was stumped how to remotely view and delete the recordings that had been reviewed. I played with the idea setting up a webserver and writing my own app to play and delete the reviewed content, configuring a dynamic dns address, but in the end realized that just designing it was exhausting for something I didn't really want to do anyway.

Enter Orb. All I needed to do was setup an account, and then I could view the recordings online and delete the ones that where not interesting. I was most happy that it even supports the native mp4 video container vitamin D records in. Not too bad, free software and services enabling an ad hoc security service so that the reviewing duties can be shared amoung several people.

Friday, April 23, 2010

If you cannot open it you don't own it

Continuing in this mornings fear of the unknown, has repair manuals for everything, or at least that is what their goal is. They have historically focused on mac products, but are looking to extend that to everything.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fear and Hacking

Slowly I get around to reacting to things on the internet, This article is from January, but I don't think that it is any less relevant several months later. Some time ago Americans started to fear creativity, anything that required skills that where odd was not to be trusted. Growing up in Idaho offered me some very interesting experiences that I am not sure the more gentrified of the suburban city dwelling people all around us had. I have played with Black Powder bombs, helped make cannons, known people with coal forges. In High school I had the opportunity to take intro to electronics, learned to solder and built an FM transmitter. I don't find anything about creating just to learn how to as odd. Learning new skills, pushing to combine those skills is not only normal but a habit that we should be encouraging in our children. The boy referenced in the story is likely to continue creating, but his peers are not. The crisis that likely convinced the boy he was onto something made him an outsider, something to be feared, not something to be emulated. Its a shame.
I remember in college buying Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineeringmy girlfriend at the time (now wife) thought that I had lost my mind because I wanted to softmod my Xbox. Most of the time the devices that we buy are purposefully limited in what they can do, the urge to create the world that we want to be is noble. I hope that the efforts of Hackaday, and Make Magazine can help to educate that boys peers that what he was doing is neither too complicated, nor to dangerous to seriously pursue as hobby and life path.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


The theme of my life for the last decade has been expanding. Be it my home, possessions, friends, or waistline, everything has been more, more, more. Sometime last year it was about expanding my family, in the time since I would say the theme has been receding. My wife and I have been discarding the things that we no longer use. Emptying out our home. By the box or car load clothes, electronics and sports equipment have been leaving out into the world. The trappings of former lives. I don't miss anything that has left. I wonder if any of them are represented by a balance on a credit card somewhere? Perhaps they aren't really gone yet.

The dream of a family is being released in tearful nights. Slowly realizing that what was almost there, isn't. The stages of grief, fighting recriminations of should haves, and what if's. There does not seem to be right any answers, nothing to convince my wife she didn't fail. Nothing to stop the hurt of a baby she did not get to hold.

The gym and the couch seem to be where we pass our time now, and at least the positive of going to gym is the body I was having a hard time recognizing is shrinking back in on itself. Even the wife is feeling more content with the shape of herself in the mirror.  Riding the stationary bike in spin class at 5 in the morning focusing on the next breath, next pedal, next song.  I am finding it a quiet time, other than the chatter of those around me and the music inside I don't hear myself. 

What I hadn't expected was the shrinking of my circle of friends.  I have never been one to be terribly social, V moved to Texas, several others seem find reasons to not be around couple that with my natural internal focus and I sometimes go weeks without seeing anyone but coworkers and J.  Even as that recedes,  I am not sure I specifically miss it.  The best friends I have had now live States away, and I can't muster the effort to decide if I care.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Daily posting, why I cannot

My friend V manages to post something almost every day, complete with an image that relates directly to the post. I do not. I expect my postings to be profound, but given that I lead a pedestrian life it shouldn't surprise me that the I record mundane events.

I suppose the reason so few journal is they don't want to be reminded how dull their lives are. The process of recording requires reflection, and that may be too much to bear. We have been watching Mad Men: Season Two[?]lately, the last one we watched was the episode with Freddie wetting himself. While Donald was talking to Sterling, Mad Men dropped this pearl of wisdom.

..its your life, you don't know how long its going to be but you know its got a bad ending. You have to move forward, as soon you can figure out what that is.

I suppose that can pass for reflection for today.

Kurt Vonnegut

Well, the telling of jokes is an art of its own, and it always rises from some emotional threat. The best jokes are dangerous, and dangerous because they are in some way truthful.
Kurt Vonnegut, Interview,
US novelist (1922 - 2007)

If you have not read it, I recommend Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel. It captures the crazed writing, humor and story telling better than some of Vonnegut's books do. It at least offers it in the context that can be grasped, a man struggling with what he saw during the war.  Slaughterhouse, Paths of Glory, and All Quiet on the Western Front shaped my views on the horrors of war, and the disconnect warriors must feel coming back and receiving praise for they had been through.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Leave taking

In fitting tribute, the last bolt holding my Idaho license plate to my truck was so rusted on that I had to cut it off. The last vestige of living in Idaho wouldn't go quietly into the night. Though I have been in Washington in body and mind for the last 10 years I have yet to license my vehicle here. It was a last tenuous hold the that land I called home. I have had the new plates for about more than 2 weeks I had not yet attached them, always delaying just another day.

To my vagabond and transplant friends that I am sure know what I mean, I let go just a little bit more last night.