What's New? 2008-05-01

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What's New? 2008-05-01

 31 May 2008
  It's another early morning at Orphan Andy's Café in the Castro, Lila's favorite eatery. Here she's doing booth time...

Lila @ Orphan Andy's

Isaac is pretty happy to have some iPhone time to make the booth less boring. Each kid to their own, of course.

Isaac @ Orphan Andy's

And here's yours truly, enjoying a steaming cup of joe. We canonically sit at the counter, but lately Lila wants the booth instead.

Mickey @ Orphan Andy's

Up at the GGMRC, at the Randall Museum, Isaac is making sure I know that trains are serious business. He loves educating the public, running the trains requested by the visiting kids, and being part of the process.

Isaac @ GGMRC

This is the train Isaac's running at the moment. Shortly thereafter we add the camera car and everyone runs over to the TV to see things from a trains-eye view.

GGMRC train

Here's a panoramic view of the GGMRC from the edge furthest from the entrance. From left, there's Isaac, John (the train superintendant), and in the middle is Mike (club president).

GGMRC panorama

Isaac discovered an unbuilt area of the layout, which we've started to turn into a tiny village. (We've named it Zadieville after Rose's dad, who died as we were working on it one night.) This is one of the overpass support columns, marked to show that absolutely everything ought to fit underneath when we're done.

GGMRC: Zadieville: clamps
 30 May 2008
  As I'm going for a stroll I pass the new CCSF campus in the Mission.

CCSF in the Mission

At about the same time Isaac's on field trip to the De Young Museum, in Golden Gate Park.

Isaac's field trip to the De Young Museum
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 24 May 2008
  Serafina's birthday at the Randall Museum. We're talking organic wheat-free super chocolatey desserts! Yum!

Serafina's birthday at the Randall Museum
 23 May 2008
  While Zadie's been in the hospital the kids have been drawing him lots of artwork; both cousins Jessica & Matthew and Lila & Isaac. Lila's latest creation has been the self-portrait (seen here twice, the green shirt, pink shorts, and pigtails).

Zadie's grandkids' artwork

Isaac socializes as school lets out. We really like his crowd: very diverse, very well-spoken, and very interesting.

Isaac socializes at school

Lila plays tetherball at school, the new social pastime. The kids play no-holds-barred, which leads to some animated stories to me each evening.

Lila plays tetherball at school
 27 May 2008
  Auntie Pamela is visiting from Roswell, NM. She's made it over to the kids' school's Spring Carnival. Here's Isaac giving her a cuddle.

Isaac & Pamela

Lila, center (in pink, big surprise) and her class dances something they've rehearsed over the last few weeks. I feel I can see this dance in my sleep, and I probably have.

Lila's class dances

Not since Boston University days have I had to do A/V (audiovisual) work :-) but here Isaac, Principal Willem, and I get the projector working with his MacBook Pro.

Isaac, Mickey, and Willem do AV work
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 22 May 2008
  Despite what Apple would have you believe, sometimes things Macintosh don't "just work". I've faced one of these recently. When a meeting invitation is sent to me mail.app, and I double-click the meeting.ics attachment, the meeting is jammed into iCal, but I never get a chance to accept or decline the invitation. My boss tells me that double-clicking doesn't work, but right-clicking and selecting Add to iCal works for him. Well, a bit of research on the 'net - and subsequent experimentation - shows me that on needs to have the preferences set just so:

Mail.app needs Add invitations to iCal set to 'never'.

mail.app prefs

iCal needs Automatically retrieve invitations from Mail unchecked.

mail.app prefs

If you're not seeing the meeting.ics attachments, quit Mail.app, open up the Terminal, type

defaults write com.apple.mail PreferPlainText -bool FALSE

and restart Mail.app. Attachments (and fancy message formatting) should appear. [Tested on Mac OS X 10.5.2 Leopard on a MacBook Pro.]

 21 May 2008
  It's work-at-home day at my company, but not for new employees. I take advantage of the quiet and close in on the end of my experimentation and documentation. By tomorrow I'll have the first machine image all done and ready for phase two: moving our company's source code to a running instance and trying to compile the products. Then we'll grant access to the database and we can start testing this deployment. Having one of our machines "in the cloud" is a very cool thing

In doing the documentation I got a chance to play with CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), something I've not really gotten into with my current CMS (Content Management System), Userland Frontier. I made some pretty display for the command-lines and configuration files needed by our project. Pretty is good.

One of the things which continually blos me away is the unbelievable screen real-estate of this new MacBook Pro. The 1920x1200 pixel screen is amazing. The following image shows my current desktop, with the red lines demarking the size of the PowerBook G4 screen. The screen is larger, 17-inch versus 15-inch, and of a much higher resolution. Amazing. Easy to work with. The glossy screen is reflective, but so far it's not a problem at all, and the clarity and the saturation of the colors is more than enticing. I'm rather pleased.

screen real-estate
 20 May 2008
  There's so much that's useful and common in this digital time. I fixed the iPhone "YouTube error" with the same Secure Shell tools that I've been using at the office to customize our deployment servers. Isaac is thrilled, and of course my boss is too.

iPhone YouTube fix

I know we're running a bit light on photos of my environment lately; we'll have to remedy that, won't we?

 19 May 2008
  Another work week. Unexpectedly I'm handed the responsibility for creating the development environment (in the Amazon Elastic Computing Cloud). This is cool, and I spend the day instantiating a stock image, installing the tools we'll need, and adding public-key cryptography for secure login. It's a full day :-)
 12 May 2008
  Most of my work computing environment is now set up, following a restore from a Time Capsule backup. I can't believe how easily that worked. My MacBook Pro now has my work stuff and all the tools from my decades of working with the Macintosh.

My first duties are to set up development and production accounts with the Amazon Web Services: S3 (Simple Storage Service), SQS (Simple Queue Service), and EC2 (Elastic Computing Cloud). Easily done. Then it's time to start reading on the command-line tools available, so I can figure out how I create custom virtual machine images for us to use as a development and (hopefully) a deployment platform this summer.

 8 May 2008
  Today I start a new job, a full-time position across the San Francisco Bay, in Oakland.

After a long and unpleasant job hunt, with unremarkable visits to just too many type-A-run companies, I found a place with more than just a bit of aloha. I'm starting as Senior Software Engineer at Scientific Learning, Inc., where I'll be helping to refine and extend their line of reading and writing software for children. With two voracious readers in the house this'll dovetail nicely with our lives.

Another bonus: I'll be able to use mass transit rather than my car. It's a 15-minute walk to the BART 16th Street Mission Station, a 17-minute ride to Oakland City Center Station, and 2 minutes to the office.

Yet another bonus: when my boss asked what hardware I'd like to use, I told him I'd been eyeing the Apple dual-core MacBook Pro 17-inch with the glossy high-resolution screen. To my surprise he said that wouldn't be a problem. So I'm a happy guy all around. More details and photos to follow.

 3 May 2008
  Leah, Jed, Lila, and other siblings hanging out at a MUNI bus stop. Rose didn't tell me where they were headed...

Lila, Leah, Jed MUNI bus stop
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 4 May 2008
  May's Coffee Shop

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 1 May 2008
  A new month, and a very possible end to the job search. Details to follow as soon as all the negotiations end and the paperwork is signed.

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