Friday, May 30, 2008

I Need To Move The Island

I headed over to PopCopy (training video: here) today since those are also FedEx drop-off locations now.  I needed to get something in the FedEx system for overnight to the east coast [of the United States].  Because of our location and the way the earth rotates, it's not technically possible because the FedEx plane will be flying west to east.  I can get overnight to the west coast from Hawaii, but not to the east coast.  And since it's Friday here, that means my priority overnight package will arrive on Monday.  Time zones work against me again.

It's just not technically possible for overnight from Hawaii to the east coast.  I have to drop it off a day early AND pay for priority overnight.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Target Coming to Hawaii

Target Stores will be opening Target stores in Hawaii next year.  We've known this was happening for a while, but I went searching for details yesterday after my horrifying experience at Wal-Mart.

When in doubt, ask.  I emailed Target and asked when and where.  I actually got a response from them.  They are opening three stores initially:
  • On Oahu (the island I'm on, also called Honolulu), they are opening stores in the Kapolei and Salt Lake areas.  Kapolei is a bit of a haul, but Salt Lake is doable.
  • On the Big Island (the island called Hawaii), they are opening a store in Kona.
The Oahu stores are opening in March of 2009 and the Big Island store is opening in July of 2009.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Swiffer Complexity

It's a broom.  Or at least it started out that way.  It works good enough on hard floors, which we have in the kitchen and bathroom.  It's a useful alternative to brooms and mops if you are an apartment dweller.  I decided today was the day we should have one for our place.  The last time I bought a Swiffer, there was only one option.  It's a bit more involved now.

For starters, there are competitors.  When in doubt, go with the original.  In this case they probably all perform about the same, but I say stick with Swiffer because it's been around the longest, so the odds of finding pads for it will be higher than with the competitors.

I went to the store that irritates me to no end during lunch today.  The store is always packed with people who meander through the store slowly and have one or two carts with them.  Aisles are narrow and finding anything is impossible.  It's not a store designed to get you in and out quickly, that's for sure.

All that aside, I had a list.  This was a 20 minute stop, tops.  I found everything else on the list and headed for where I thought the Swiffers would be.  Found them.  Now to pick one.

Wal Mart offered me three Swiffer choices and one decoy Swiffer (more on that at the end).  On the expensive/heavy end, there was the Swiffer WetJet which looks like a regular Swiffer with a slot for you to put a bottle of Swiffer WetJet juice in it so it can squirt that in the path of your disposable Swiffer pad and pretend to be a mop.  Not only did this version take the bottle of Swiffer WetJet and a box of Swiffer pads, but you also needed batteries to power the actual wet _jet_.  Also, it was $35.  A bit high for something considered disposable.

Move up a shelf and I see the the Swiffer Vac.  It plugs in to the wall and recharges itself, but it still uses the Swiffer pads.  It's a vacuum and a broom.  But it can't deal with wet floors.  It was about $25 and I thought it was pretty stupid, so I passed on that.

Now, I like the idea of the Swiffer that can clean wet or dry and even pretend to take the place of a mop because mopping sucks.  But $35 and all the parts for the Swiffer WetJet, come on.  Move up another shelf and I find a Swiffer that looks like the one I bought back when they came out.  It's $12.  Awesome!  But can it do wet and dry floors?

Apparently, yes.  It can take wet pads or dry pads, so you get the sweeper and mopper effect in one $12 item.  Of course, you have to buy the pads, but whatever.  My question is why would you get the Swiffer WetJet?  It's just more expensive, bigger, and takes more disposable parts to operate.  I'm not convinced that any of them clean really well, they just do about an 80% to 90% job and that's good enough for me.  Will mine fall apart and tell me I should get the WetJet?  I hope not.

What about the decoy Swiffer?  They now have a Swiffer Duster, which is in similar packaging with the big Swiffer logo on it, but it's just a duster with a disposable head.  Lame.

We have a Swiffer now and other lazy-people cleaning products.  Aside from the Swiffer, we now have a Mr. Clean Bathroom Cleaning Wand.  I was hoping for the Mr. Clean robot or autowash or something where I can just close the door and it does everything, but we're not quite there yet.  Roomba, I'm counting on you.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Long Live NetworkManager

(this is a work post)

Fedora 9 is out, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 is out, so what next?  Well, Fedora 10 of course (and RHEL 5.3, but I don't want to talk about that).  Right now I am working on some rather large changes for Fedora that I want to have incorporated by the time F-10 is ready to go to an alpha release (read: a test release, not the processor).

I have been working on all things network related in anaconda since the Fedora Core 5 time frame (that release and all subsequent releases).  I removed the use of libpump in favor of libdhcp so we could gain (a) better DHCP support by using ISC's client and (b) gain IPv6 support.  That was a very rocky rock and I stumbled down it pretty terribly, but I can say that IPv6 support has been there to some degree since Fedora Core 5.

Now, we are entering a new world of thinking for anaconda.  Relying less on our own tools and using more of the standard system offerings.  In the network camp, that means getting NetworkManager in to the installer.  Yes, that program that you can use to find nearby wireless networks and connect to them.  NetworkManager controls all of the active network links, with some limitations.  You can also talk to it via D-Bus, which opens the door for more interesting developments.  What I am specifically doing at the moment is:
  • Preparing a set of patches for rawhide anaconda that will remove libdhcp and all internal network configuration with code that runs NetworkManager.  After talking with dcbw, it was decided the best course of action now is to have anaconda write out the /etc/sysconfig files and then fire up NetworkManager.  Anaconda still prompts for network settings and then writes out the files and starts the daemon.  With these patches also come some more network related library functions that use libnl.  Those are mostly boring to average users, but I find it interesting.
  • Getting IPv6 support in to NetworkManager.  This is where NM drops the ball.  It's a great tool, but only for IPv4.  I am also preparing a set of patches for NetworkManager to get IPv6 (static, DHCPv6, and automatic neighbor discovery) supported.
  • libnl fixes.  This sort of falls back on NetworkManager too.  libnl is a userspace library for communicating with the kernel Netlink API.  This is how NetworkManager and anaconda do (or should) communicate with network interfaces.  There are a few things that don't totally work in the library, but I think that may or may not be working now (haven't looked in a few days).  I am also replacing the remaining uses of /sbin/ip in NetworkManager with libnl code.
That's a whole lot of stuff.  I am happy to report that it's coming along nicely and I hope to have NetworkManager working for all of my test cases in anaconda pretty soon (days) now.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Flying

Living in Hawaii makes us more dependent on air travel than we were when we lived in Boston.  Why?  Well, some things just aren't on our 600 square mile island.  Family, friends, weddings we have to attend, work conferences, and so on.

Now, I don't really mind air travel.  Sure, it's annoying, but I feel like I keep getting better at it.  How to pack, how to talk to gate reps, what to do when you're on the plane so you don't go insane.  It never fails that I am seated next to a first time flier.  How is this possible in 2008?  And even if it is possible, how is it that I am always next to these people?  As airfare costs go up, wouldn't the first timers fade away since they are usually headed on vacation?  As the costs of airfare keep going up, I would expect the planes to be full of business travelers at this point.  Oh, but I forget I live in Hawaii, so almost all of the people on the plane are coming here for vacation.  Now it makes sense.

I wanted to point out how I fly because I want to write something on the blog and can't think of something else to write about.  Also, there are a lot of TV shows on right now about airlines, so I started thinking about that.  Maybe readers will post comments on what they do.  So, here we go.
  1. Packing.  This is probably where most first time fliers go wrong.  Don't take so much stuff.  If you can pack entirely in your carry-on luggage, do that.  The more you take with you, the more annoying your trip will be.  You'll have to check in the bags (which now costs money on most US carriers) and you'll have to wait at baggage claim at the destination.  It's really nice to be able to deplane and head right out of the airport rather than stand around with the same people again to wait for your bag.
  2. Organize your Bag.  I use large Ziplock freezer bags to organize my packing.  Charger cables go in one, misc cables (USB crap) in another, small items in one.  Keep a spare one in your bag and place your wallet, keys, change, and cellphone in that right before you go through security.  It still baffles me when people get to security and have a pocket full of change and don't know what to do with it.
  3. Hard Shell Rolling Luggage.  If you do need to check a bag, get rolling luggage.  Airports are large and carrying bags by hand for long distances will irritate you.  If you can, get hard shell luggage.  Why?  When your bag is checked, it will be flipped over for the security scan and by the handlers.  You also don't know what will be stacked on top of your bag.  Unless you just have clothes, you probably have something you want protected, so consider hard shell luggage.
  4. Drink Water.  Drink a lot of water on the plane.  I usually buy a bottle at a Hudson News before I get on the plane.  You will get dehydrated.  Enjoy your tiny Coke or even some booze, but be sure to down water while you are in the air.  It helps prevent headaches and keeps your energy level from dropping.  I know it sounds stupid, but for the longest time I wondered why I always felt like crap after long flights.  You get dehydrated.
  5. Leave Non-critical Toiletries at Home.  Take your toothbrush, hair brush or comb, and your choice of shaving equipment.  If you use ordinary Gillette or Schick disposable razors, don't even bring them.  All of these things can be obtained at your destination.  Yes, it's wasteful, but so is air travel.  Your hotel will have toothpaste and shampoo and soap and deodorant and shaving cream.  If they don't or if you aren't staying in a hotel, head to your nearest drug store.  Chances are they have a section of travel sized toiletries for 99 cents each.  At the end of your trip, pitch everything in the trash.  Don't take toiletries on the plane unless you want to spend some time with TSA examining your tiny tube of toothpaste.
  6. Get a Window Seat.  It makes it easier to sleep if you can sleep on planes.  Lean against the window, it's way more comfortable than the aisle or center seat.
  7. Bring a Book or iPod or both.  In flight entertainment on domestic US flights suck more than ever.  Most are still 8mm cassette systems with screens every few seats.  In the event that you do have a clear view of the screen, you'll need headphones.  Plug yours in to the port on the seat and discover that the headphone jack on your seat isn't working.  This has happened to me on my last 4 flights.  Do yourself a favor and bring a book and/or an iPod.
  8. Be careful with the inflight magazine.  These things rarely get changed for the month they live on the plane.  They are most often used as a home for discarded gum.  Be careful grabbing this and flipping through it, you might touch something unpleasant.
  9. Walk.  On long flights, get up at least once and walk up and down the aisle.  Combine it with your bathroom trip.
That's a lot of the stuff I do on a plane.  What about at airports?  If you have layovers or are waiting for your flight, what should you do?  Most people sit.  This is horrible, in my opinion.  You will be sitting soon enough and for a long time.  So what do I do in airports?
  1. Stand and Walk.  I rarely sit down in an airport.  If I do, it's not for long.  I try to stay moving walking around the terminal.  I will be sitting on the plane soon enough, so I want to get standing time in.
  2. Eat.  Burger, sandwich, bagel, quesadilla, whatever.  Eat a meal.  You will be starved on the plane and they don't have food on planes anymore.
  3. Buy Things.  Water and snacks.  But not a lot of snacks.  I get a PopTart and then some salty things.  Some people go get pizzas and burgers and bring that on planes.  I don't like huge things like that.  Plus, it stinks up the plane.
  4. Monitor the Boards.  Watch the board for your flight.  Gates change, times change, conditions change.  If your gate changes, you should know about that.  If you are delayed, you want to know about that before other people.
  5. Volunteer.  If your airline looks for volunteers to give up their seats in exchange for some sort of compensation, take it if you can.  The airline will put you on the next flight usually and will also give you some other compensation.  Ask for miles over coupons or meal vouchers.  Airlines are getting picky about miles, but collect as many as you can.
What about delays?  What are your options?  Delays are typical with air travel and a lot of people get angry.  It's a way of life with air travel.  Planes are early or late and things break.  Weather delays account for the majority of delays, but there is nothing an airline will do for you for a weather delay (unless you are really really nice or paid a whole lot of money).
  1. Rule 120.20 and Rule 240.  Before airline deregulation in the United States, we had certain requirements of airlines.  For example, if an airline couldn't get a plane up in the air, these rules existed to protect passengers by allowing the disabled airline to rebook passengers on another airline's flight.  The other airline would be compensated and passengers would get to their destination.  These rules are really only honored by the long time airlines and each defines it a little differently.  But, it never hurts to ask.  If you are delayed because of a disabled MD-88 at the gate, you can ask the airline to put you on another flight per these rules.  Sometimes, these rebookings occur and people don't realize what has happened.  If you've been delayed and rebooked on another airline and it didn't cost you a thing, chances are the airline is using one of these rules.  TIP:  Ask the ticket counter for a real paper ticket rather than an eTicket.  Some airlines define these rules as only accepting real paper boarding passes.  If you have this style ticket, you have more power.
  2. Long Layovers.  This is more of a planning detail.  Give yourself long layovers to avoid missing connections in the event that a flight is late.  45 minute layovers seem nice, but sometimes you can miss a connection.
  3. Be Nice.  Be nice and it goes a long way.  Keep your cool.  You will get to where you are going, but remember that you are not the only person affected (usually).  Be nice to airline employees.  Say thank you.  Avoid raising your voice or being rude.  Yes, after standing in a line for hours to talk to someone is annoying, but it's not that employee's fault.  Save your complaints for the airline's web site.  Be nice to the airline employee you have to deal with at the airport.
Well, that's all I have.  I'm bored.  I woke up not feeling well today and I am watching something on TV about port cranes and shipping companies.  And I'm writing this.  Posting now.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lots of Visitors

Karen and I have had a string of visitors lately.  It's been a lot of fun, but I wish I could take time off when people visit.  Instead, we can really only do things on the weekend because we both work.  For me it's been difficult at times because our home is also my office.  With people coming in and out a lot to change and then head off to the next thing, it kills the idea that I am at work.  I can deal with it fine, I think.  It's just hard sometimes.

Yesterday I finally hiked up Diamond Head instead of just seeing it from the car.  Yes, we have been here for 6 months and I haven't really done anything that a typical visitor does on a vacation.  It's different when you live here.  You want the weekend to yourself and you don't want to run around on the weekend exhausting yourself.  Maybe that's because I had been so stressed out with RHEL 5.2 work.  I dunno.

Diamond Head is a really short hike (and it's barely even a hike since it's got railings all the way up the trail), but the view from the top is really cool.  It costs $5 per car.  You can walk to it, but they charge pedestrians $1 to get in.  Inexpensive.

We went up Diamond Head with Buffy, who is visiting us from Boston.  Pictures I took are over here.

When Michelle and Gaston were here (visiting us from Victoria, BC), we got to go to Dole Plantation.  Also posted pictures of that trip.

Still a lot of stuff to do in Hawaii.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hawaii Totally Beats New England When It Comes To BBQ

Chris and I periodically noted the lack of BBQ restaurants in New England.  There were a few here and there, but nothing like what you'd find in the South.  Having both attended Georgia Tech, we were surrounded by a huge variety of food options, most notably BBQ.  In New England, the only ones I'd consider worthy of visiting are Red Bones in Somerville, MA and the Yankee Smokehouse in West Ossipee, NH.

Having moved to Hawaii, I've come to the conclusion that I had to leave a lot of my beloved foods behind.  No Chick-Fil-A here, no BBQ (except Kalua pork), no fried chicken (KFC does not count), no good Mexican restaurants that I like, no Wendy's, and the list goes on.  But there are plenty of other things.  You sort of have to adapt to the new food style here.

Yesterday changed the playing field entirely.  Not only did I find that it's possible to get sweet tea in Honolulu, but you can also get a damn good pulled pork sandwich (cooked _correctly_ too).  Think pulled pork is an abomination?  Well, there's BBQ beef as well (weirdos) and BBQ chicken (yum).  Want to fight over which sauce is correct?  They have Memphis style, Texas style, Savannah style, Hawaiian style, Kansas City style, and even the absolutely horrible North Carolina style.  Sweet tea is served in huge liter+ size glasses.  Be sure to enjoy your pulled pork sandwich with a side of baked beans or fried okra OR BOTH!  Really, they did right at this place.

So to all my friends who have thought about or are planning to visit and are scared of the food, don't worry.  We can go to the Dixie Grill over by Pearl Harbor and have pulled pork sandwiches every day.

The Blog

I took down my old blog a while ago after getting irritated with the constant spam comment posts and php vulnerabilities.  However, every once in a while I found myself with the desire to add to the rest of the mostly useless content on the Internet.  So it's back to the blog.  New engine, new URL, new title.  No old posts imported.

About the title... I know it's invalid C, so you don't have to bother pointing that out.  It's geeky along the lines of /dev/blog or /dev/rant or something.

The weather is warming up in Honolulu more so than it has been.  We are really starting to show the effects of not having air conditioning.  Vog has been really bad lately, but it rained today and sort of rinsed everything.  Still, it's a really fun place to live and I want everyone to come and visit soon.

Karen and I have had a lot of visitors lately.  We've been doing a lot of things that we haven't done before, such as visiting the Dole Pineapple Plantation.  We also attempted swimming at Sunset Beach, which was incredibly difficult, but fun.

In work world, we released Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 and I feel a huge relief of not having to worry about all that stuff now.  Of course 5.3 is next, but hopefully less for me.  I am concentrating on network code in Fedora right now, which is a lot of fun.

I am also getting ready for the Red Hat Summit 2008 in Boston in June.  I'm giving a talk about best practices/tips deploying RHEL in large scale enterprise environments.  The event is also paired with Fudcon, the Fedora conference that occurs every so often in various places.  I'll be hanging around Boston for an extra week to work in the office, then it's back to Honolulu on June 30.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

First post

Yeah, so a blog again.  I know, I said I was taking it away.  But see, I'm not using my own blog setup on my hosted site anymore.  This is Blogger, because I am super lazy.  More posts later.