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Tuesday 14 October 2014

Microsoft's Scott Hanselman provides a list:

"Knowing computers" today is more than just knowing Office, or knowing how to attach a file. Today's connected world is way more complex than any of us realize. If you're a techie, you're very likely forgetting how far you've come!

The #1 thing you can do when working with a non-techie is to be empathetic. Put yourself in their shoes. Give them the tools and the base of knowledge they need.

  • Backup everything. Is your entire company on your 10 year old computer’s desktop? Look for Backup options like CrashPlan, DropBox, OneDrive, etc. Literally ANYTHING is better than leaving documents on your computer’s desktop.
  • Learn to use search to find your files. Press the Windows key and just start typing on Windows, or use Spotlight (Command-Spacebar) on Mac.
  • Don’t CC more than 10 of your friends or neighbors. At that point, consider another way to talk to them. Some of your friends may not want their email given to the world. Perhaps this is a time to use BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) so you don't expose everyone's email address to each other?

Techies should read this post to understand what their non-techie friends don't understand. Everyone else should just read it.

Tuesday 14 October 2014 07:57:28 MDT (UTC-06:00)  |  | Blogs | Cool links#
Tuesday 30 September 2014

For more than four years, I have not failed to post an above-average number of entries each day. Since its official launch in November 2005, I've averaged about 1.28 entries per day. As of the last entry, the 39th for September, the average was 1.25. This makes it 1.33.

It's a simple target, really: 40 or 41 per month, depending on the number of days in the month. Since one of the stated purposes of the blog is to encourage daily public writing, meeting this target is almost a requirement.

Someday, probably early in 2015, the average daily rate will exceed 1.32, and I'll have to write 41 or 42 per month to keep the long-term trend positive. And someday I'll slip. But not this month. Oh, no. This month, I'm posting 40.

See you in October.

Tuesday 30 September 2014 08:17:11 MDT (UTC-06:00)  |  | Blogs#
Monday 4 August 2014

Nah, I've just been super-busy the past few days. Regular posting should resume shortly—depending on how this week in Cleveland goes.

Sunday 3 August 2014 21:39:35 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Blogs#
Wednesday 9 July 2014

For the last couple of days, I've had trouble getting to Microsoft's Azure blog. From my office in downtown Chicago, clicking the link gives me an error message:

The resource you are looking for has been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.

However, going to the same URL from a virtual machine on Azure takes me to the blog. So what's going on here? It took a little detective work, but I think Microsoft has a configuration error one of a set of geographically-distributed Azure web sites, they don't know about it, and there's no way to tell them.

The first step in diagnosing a problem like this is to see if it's local. Is there something about the network I'm on that prevents me from seeing the website? This is unlikely for a few big reasons: first, when a local network blocks or fails to connect to an outside site, usually nothing at all happens. This is how the Great Firewall of China works, because someone trying to get to a "forbidden" address may get there slowly, normally, or not at all—and it just looks like a glitch. Second, though, the root Azure site is completely accessible. Only the Blog directory has an error message. Finally, the error message is coming from the foreign system. Chrome confirms this; there's a HTTP 200 (OK) response with the content I see.

All right, so the Azure Blog is down. But that doesn't make a lot of sense. Thousands of people read the Azure blog every day; if it were down, surely Microsoft would have noticed, right?

So for my next test, I spun up an Azure Virtual Machine (VM) and tried to connect from there. Bing! No problem. There's the blog.

Now we're onto something. So let's take a look at where my local computer thinks it's going, and where the VM thinks it's going. Here's the nslookup result for my local machine, both from my company's DNS server and from Google's 8.8.8.8 server:

Now here's what the VM sees:

Well, now, that is interesting.

From my local computer, sitting in downtown Chicago, both Google and my company's DNS servers point "azure.microsoft.com" to an Azure web site sitting in the North Central U.S. data center, right here in Chicago. But for the VM, which itself is running in the East U.S. data center in southern Virginia, both Microsoft's and Google's DNS servers point the same domain to an Azure web site also within the East U.S. data center.

It looks like both Microsoft and Google are using geographic load-balancing and some clever routing to return DNS addresses based on where the DNS request comes from. I'd bet if I spun up an Azure VM in the U.S. West data center, both would send me to the Azure blog running out there.

This is what massive load balancing looks like from the outside, by the way. If you've put your systems together correctly, users will go to the nearest servers for your content, and they'll never realize it.

Unfortunately, the North Central U.S. instance of the Microsoft Azure blog is down, has been down for several days, and won't come up again until someone at Microsoft realizes it's down. Also, Microsoft makes it practically impossible to notify them that something is broken. So those of us in Chicago will just have to read about Azure on our Azure VMs until someone in Redmond fixes their broken server. I hope they read my blog.

Wednesday 9 July 2014 10:26:44 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Blogs | Cloud | Security | Windows Azure#
Monday 23 June 2014

As mentioned earlier, today is the first day of my new job. That means orientation, setting up a computer, navigating paperwork, etc. Then tonight the Cubs play Cincinnati at Wrigley (weather permitting), so I'll probably go straight from work to the field.

So I'll probably be a little slow posting things this week.

Monday 23 June 2014 07:38:19 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs | Blogs | Work#
Saturday 7 June 2014

The Daily Currant's business model, explained:

[I]n The New Republic, Luke O'Neil argued that such stories "could do actual damage to political discourse and the media in general... Juicing an already true-enough premise with more unbelievability simply adds to the informational noise pollutionwithout even the expected payoff of a laugh." 

All legitimate gripes, but perhaps that's overthinking it for a site that's the product of under-thinking. The Daily Currant is trying to maximize clicks and shares, and has found a niche between The Onion and real news: all the believability of the latter, but all the libel protections of the former. There's a Catch-22 to this approach, though. As more people have become aware of The Daily Currantin December, Mediaite whined, "Just Stop It, Everyone: Internet Falls for Daily Currant Fake Story Once Again"suckers have become increasingly rare. The site is a victim of its own success.

No matter. The formula is easily replicable, as other web entrepreneurs and hucksters have discovered. This poor imitation of The Onion has itself spawned a legion of poor imitations, websites so devoid of infotainment value and so cynical in their click-baiting that they make the likes of Viral Nova and Upworthy look staid.

The author goes on to compare the Currant to "a potentially lucrative con predicated on exploiting the worst habits of social media driven news content."

Saturday 7 June 2014 08:42:55 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | Blogs#
Thursday 8 May 2014

I may come back to these again:

Publishing the Inner Drive Extensible Architecture™ to NuGet is still coming up...just not this weekend.

Thursday 8 May 2014 12:52:22 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | World | Blogs | Business#
Sunday 6 April 2014

Yesterday I migrated this blog and four other ASP.NET websites from a Windows 2008 Microsoft Azure virtual machine (VM) to a brand-new Windows 2012 R2 VM. I did this because Microsoft has announced the end-of-life for Windows 2008 VMs on June 1st, so I thought I'd get a jump on it.

VMs usually mean never having to say "reinstall." Unfortunately, since this involved upgrading three steps at once, I decided it would be simpler just to launch a new VM and migrate the applications using FTP.

Seven hours and 25 minutes later, everything works, and I've archived the old VM's virtual hard disk (VHD). Why did it take 7:25 to complete?

Forget it. I'm not reliving those hours. I will say only that at least 90 minutes of that time was completely wasted because my AT&T Uverse FiOS line doesn't...quite...make it to my building, limiting it to 1.5 Mbps. Yes, I have a 1.5 Mbps Internet line. While waiting for things to download and upload yesterday, I spoke with them, and they assured me that I have the fastest Uverse service available to me.

Which brings up the other problem with doing so much in Microsoft Azure: you need good Internet connectivity. Which I don't have. Which meant I spent a lot of time yesterday rubbing Parker's belly and cursing AT&T.

Sunday 6 April 2014 09:20:44 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Blogs | Cloud | Windows Azure#

You can't actually see it, but I've upgraded the Microsoft Azure VM that this blog runs on to a brand-spanking-new Windows Server 2012 box.

In fact, it's so transparent, the only purpose of this blog entry is to make sure I can make blog entries.

Seriously, this means absolutely nothing to anyone else. Except that, since Microsoft was going to kill the old VM automatically sometime in June, this is a good thing.

Saturday 5 April 2014 20:33:46 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Blogs#
Saturday 1 March 2014

Parker, 14 weeksI'm David Braverman, this is my blog, and Parker is my 7½-year-old mutt. I last updated this About... page in September 2011, more than 1,300 posts back, so it's time for a refresh.

The Daily Parker is about:

  • Parker, my dog, whom I adopted on 1 September 2006.
  • Politics. I'm a moderate-lefty by international standards, which makes me a radical left-winger in today's United States.
  • The weather. I've operated a weather website for more than 13 years. That site deals with raw data and objective observations. Many weather posts also touch politics, given the political implications of addressing climate change, though happily we no longer have to do so under a president beholden to the oil industry.
  • Chicago (the greatest city in North America), and sometimes London, San Francisco, and the rest of the world.
  • Photography. I took tens of thousands of photos as a kid, then drifted away from making art until early 2011 when I finally got the first digital camera I've ever had whose photos were as good as film. That got me reading more, practicing more, and throwing more photos on the blog. In my initial burst of enthusiasm I posted a photo every day. I've pulled back from that a bit—it takes about 30 minutes to prep and post one of those puppies—but I'm still shooting and still learning.

I also write a lot of software, and will occasionally post about technology as well. I work for 10th Magnitude, a startup software consultancy in Chicago, I've got more than 20 years experience writing the stuff, and I continue to own a micro-sized software company. (I have an online resume, if you're curious.) I see a lot of code, and since I often get called in to projects in crisis, I see a lot of bad code, some of which may appear here.

I strive to write about these and other things with fluency and concision. "Fast, good, cheap: pick two" applies to writing as much as to any other creative process (cf: software). I hope to find an appropriate balance between the three, as streams of consciousness and literacy have always struggled against each other since the first blog twenty years ago.

If you like what you see here, you'll probably also like Andrew Sullivan, James Fallows, Josh Marshall, and Bruce Schneier. Even if you don't like my politics, you probably agree that everyone ought to read Strunk and White, and you probably have an opinion about the Oxford comma—punctuation de rigeur in my opinion.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy The Daily Parker.

Saturday 1 March 2014 14:27:44 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Baseball | Biking | Cubs | Geography | Kitchen Sink | London | Parker | Daily | Photography | Politics | US | World | Religion | Software | Blogs | Business | Cloud | Travel | Weather | Windows Azure | Work | Writing#

This is the Daily Parker's 4,000th post of the modern era. Since 13 November 2005 (3,030 days ago), I've posted 4,000 bits of flotsam, jetsam, and other things considered debris in some circles.

Four thousand entries ago:

  • George W. Bush was almost a year into his second term and Barack Obama was the junior U.S. Senator from Illinois;
  • Molly Ivins was still alive and kicking;
  • Our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had stagnated;
  • Facebook was less than two years old but more than a year from general availability;
  • The Atlantic Ocean was seven weeks away from ending the weirdest hurricane season on record; and
  • Parker was still seven months from being born.

But also:

  • We had troops in Iraq and Afghanistan;
  • A sizable portion of the United States believed in the literal truth of 3,000-year-old Jewish mythology;
  • Vladimir Putin was president of Russia;
  • Most of the U.S. House of Representatives comprised exactly the same people it does today.

Back in my 3,002nd entry, I projected hitting 10,000 entries in April 2025. A thousand entries later, ticking along at a consistent 1.5 entries per day, the 10,000th entry is now due in...February 2025. Here's the progress for the first 4,000 posts, measured in posts per day:

I could go on. And I will. So keep reading.

Saturday 1 March 2014 14:15:41 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Blogs#
Thursday 30 January 2014

I just noticed that The Daily Parker is 3,000 days old today, counting from the modern era. (Counting from 13 May 1998, when I first posted something inane online, it's 5,741 days old.)

Thank you for your continued reading.

Thursday 30 January 2014 12:55:09 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Blogs#
Thursday 12 December 2013

It happens in every form of art ever invented. First the tinkerers discover the art form, aided by a new techology. Then come the dilettantes, people who figure out the rules and structures of the medium. Next the amateurs refine the techniques, pushing a fad into a form that has commercial possibilities. Finally, the professionals—people who make the art for a living—push everyone else out. Eventually you wind up with nothing but the last two groups—and the amateurs that remain do it because they love it, but have chosen some other avocation.

Via Sullivan, the Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal has woken up to this pattern as it applies to YouTube:

When it comes to putting together a really great video and ginning up a global viral push, people with resources are winning.

And it's actually been this way for a while. While, for example, 2007's "most memorable videos" featured several homemade videos of people and cats, as Marshall Kirkpatrick pointed out years ago, the most played items have long been music videos from major label artists.

So, after a brief flowering of user-generated online media rivaling the scale and reach of professional online media, we've seen a retrenchment of traditional media structures. Sure, millions of people still have blogs, but the bulk of content that's read is produced by a small number of people who do this for a living (inside completely retooled media companies).

Anyone paying attention knew this would happen, and quickly.

Think about it: if an art form has commercial possibilities, then basic natural selection will favor people who can devote more time and resources to it. And if you spend most of your waking hours on art, unless you're seriously untalented you'll eventually become much better at it than people who only spend an hour or two a day.

As Madrigal says: I think that's a good thing.

Thursday 12 December 2013 14:50:56 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Blogs#
Saturday 7 December 2013

The Illinois Supreme Court recently overturned the "Amazon tax" that caused the online retailer to drop all of their Illinois affiliates (like me) a couple years ago.

Well, they brought the program back to Illinois, so The Daily Parker is once again an Amazon Associate.

All that means is, when I link to books or content—like, for example, the Deadwood Blu-Ray box set—the link will include an ID that lets me take a piece of your purchase.

This is the only way that I monetize the blog. Note, for example, the complete absence of ads. So, if you enjoy the blog, and you occasionally buy stuff from Amazon, check here to see if I've linked to it, and if so, click through. That's it. That's as commercial as I'll get.

Thanks for your continued support.

Saturday 7 December 2013 10:30:26 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Blogs#
Tuesday 22 October 2013

This is my 4,000th blog post.

Of course, that's counting from the first braverman.org entry from May 1998, which disappeared entirely for ten years and predated the concept of a "blog" by an interval. The first Daily Parker post was on 8 November 2005.

Which points out, the total doesn't include two non-public entries. The first public entry was 13 November 2005.

So, really, this is only the 3,803rd Daily Parker posting—but only the 3,801st visible one.

Yeah, this wasn't the highlight of your day either. Still: milestone.

Tuesday 22 October 2013 17:49:47 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Blogs#
Tuesday 8 October 2013

I have a new post up on the 10th Magnitude developers' blog.

Tuesday 8 October 2013 15:38:49 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Blogs | Cloud | Work#
Sunday 25 August 2013

I'm pulling the public repository for Orchard again, because I made a mistake with Git that I can't seem to undo. I've set up my environment to have a copy of the public repository, and then a working repository cloned from it. This allows me to try things out on my own machine, in private branches, while still pulling the public bits without the need to merge them into my working copy.

Orchard, which will soon (I hope) replace dasBlog as this blog's platform, recently switched from Mercurial to Git, to which led to this problem.

I may simply not have grasped all the nuances of Git. Git is extremely powerful, in the sense that it will do almost anything you tell it to do, without regard for the consequences. It reflects the ethos of the C++ programming language, which gave everyday programmers ways to screw up previously only available to experts.

My specific screw-up was that I accidentally attempted to push my local changes back to my copy of the Public repository. I had added about six changesets, which I couldn't extract from my copy of public no matter what I tried.

So, while writing this, I just pulled a clean copy of public, checked out the two branches I wanted (1.1 and fw45, for those keeping score at home), and merged with my existing changes.

Now I get to debug that mess...and I may toss it and start over.

Sunday 25 August 2013 10:44:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Software | Blogs#
Thursday 8 August 2013

I've started playing around with Orchard, an open-source content-management system, as a replacement for this blog's infrastructure (and as a replacement for other things, like inner-drive.com. It hasn't been all skittles and beer: Orchard has serious issues running on Microsoft Azure Cloud Services, though it runs fine on Azure Web sites.

It turns out, my employer is moving to Umbraco, a different open-source CMS. So it makes sense to try that out, too, as I'll have to support Umbraco at work anyway—meaning I can learn it during work hours instead of after.

Working in my few free hours after work, of course, makes this decision take longer than I'd like. That, and I don't want to do this again for many years.

So no major changes to report yet, but I'm getting closer.

Thursday 8 August 2013 15:58:31 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Blogs | Cloud | Work#
Tuesday 6 August 2013

The journalist and blogger's beagle Daisy died today at the age of 15. I'm getting sniffly just posting this:

This was not like waiting for someone to die; it was a positive act to end a life – out of mercy and kindness, to be sure – but nonetheless a positive act to end a life so intensely dear to me for a decade and a half. That’s still sinking in. The power of it. But as we laid her on the table for the final injection, she appeared as serene as she has ever been. I crouched down to look in her cloudy eyes and talk to her, and suddenly, her little head jolted a little, and it was over.

I couldn’t leave her. But equally the sight of her inert and lifeless – for some reason the tongue hanging far out of her mouth disfigured her for me – was too much to bear. I kissed her and stroked her, buried my face in her shoulders, and Aaron wept over her. And then we walked home, hand in hand. As we reached the front door, we could hear Eddy howling inside.

Her bed is still there; and the bowl; and the diapers – pointless now. I hung her collar up on the wall and looked out at the bay. The room is strange. She has been in it every day for fifteen and a half years, waiting for me.

Now, I wait, emptied, for her.

Read the whole thread. Make sure you have tissue handy.

Monday 5 August 2013 19:22:24 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker | Blogs#
Saturday 3 August 2013

This past week, my company put me in charge of operations. The job includes responsibility for our tools and technologies: bug tracking, client request tracking, code repositories, internal knowledge sharing, and Agile process management. Right now we use a collection of tools that we've used for three years: Beanstalk, Sifter, Zendesk, Yammer, and a home-grown Agile tool called Storyboard.

Well, Storyboard runs on the Azure SDK 1.4, which Microsoft will stop supporting at the end of November. Beanstalk, which just turned on support for Mercurial a year ago, has decided to turn it off six weeks from now. Sifter and Zendesk are all right, except they don't really give us the integration we want with each other or with Beanstalk—which, anyway, is going away.

We haven't picked a new tool set yet. But the search has led me to think about changing my own development tools, starting with this blog.

I mentioned about three weeks ago that I'd started playing with Orchard, an open-source content management system that came out of a Microsoft demonstration project.

I want a blog/CMS that can handle the 3,800 entries I've created here. I also want to continue tagging each entry with its location and local time (like this, whose time stamp would look really bizarre without the local time zone), which means I need an extensible application.

Oh, and it either needs a kickass import engine or a way for me to write one.

I can't say for certain when I'll migrate, given how busy I am with everything else. I hope I'll get this done in the next few weeks.

Saturday 3 August 2013 18:30:41 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Blogs | Work#
Wednesday 31 July 2013

It's good reconnecting with stuff that has been lost for years.

Like the Jewish Samurai, for example. And the quiz proving executives do not have much in common with pre-schoolers. And let's not forget the four Jewish sons.

Somewhere in the mists of time I have notes about why I released so many jokes in batches. As I move to a new blog/content platform this fall, I'll post what I find.

Wednesday 31 July 2013 14:03:43 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Jokes | Blogs#

Earlier I surmised that automating the process of extracting my old jokes from the ancient braverman.org site would take less time than hand-copying them. Well, duh. It only took two hours to write the script, lint the very few entries that needed it, and push the lot up to The Daily Parker.

So, for those of you who have missed all the jokes—there are just under 200 of them, all published from May 1998 to November 2004—start here, then skip to here, and then keep clicking the calendar control.

I'll call out my favorites once I re-acquaint myself with them. This one goes at the top of the list.

Now, programming trance ended, I am off to bed.

Wednesday 31 July 2013 00:13:49 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Jokes | Readings | Blogs#
Tuesday 30 July 2013

Observer columnist John Naughton explains how the practices Edward Snowden revealed have hurt us:

[H]ere are some of the things we should be thinking about as a result of what we have learned so far.

The first is that the days of the internet as a truly global network are numbered. It was always a possibility that the system would eventually be Balkanised, ie divided into a number of geographical or jurisdiction-determined subnets as societies such as China, Russia, Iran and other Islamic states decided that they needed to control how their citizens communicated. Now, Balkanisation is a certainty.

Second, the issue of internet governance is about to become very contentious. Given what we now know about how the US and its satraps have been abusing their privileged position in the global infrastructure, the idea that the western powers can be allowed to continue to control it has become untenable.

His conclusion: "The fact is that Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are all integral components of the US cyber-surveillance system." And no European country wants to deal with that.

So, great. United States paranoia and brute-force problem-solving may have destroyed the Cloud.

Tuesday 30 July 2013 12:02:25 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | World | Blogs | Business | Cloud#
Sunday 28 July 2013

...braverman.org published six proto-blog entries.

This brings the total ancient blog entries restored to 63, leaving around 140 still to be dug out. It takes about 5 minutes per entry to convert right now, so I may automate the process. Since writing some automation will probably take less than 11 hours, I may just do that over the next couple of days.

Sunday 28 July 2013 14:39:35 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Blogs | Writing#
Saturday 13 July 2013

After a short experiment yesterday at lunch, in which I put up three original braverman.org posts from 1998, I've added all the content from May 1998.

A couple of things came up during this process:

1. dasBlog, whose open-source project has ceased active development, won't display any of the entries for a particular day if any one of them has any errors in its HTML. That is really annoying.

2. In frustration, I started looking for other blog engines, and came upon Orchard. I'm intrigued. The extension model seems like it would work really well for me, it's in active development, and it's cool. I have a little time this weekend to play with it.

For now, enjoy the jokes from 15 years ago.

Saturday 13 July 2013 10:06:50 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Jokes | Kitchen Sink | Blogs#
Friday 12 July 2013

My first website, braverman.org, debuted in New York on 16 August 1997. We didn't have things called "blogs" back then, but over the course of about four years I posted jokes, stories, and poetry—almost all of it submitted by other people—two or three times per week. It was kind of blog-like, except I had to add actual Classic ASP pages to the site until I figured out a way to automate it in May 1998.

I'm going to start re-posting the archives, with their original time stamps...

Here are the first ones, from May 1998.

Friday 12 July 2013 14:22:48 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Blogs | Writing#
Friday 29 March 2013

Not only does my time evaporate into multiple projects these days, but the number of context switches I've experienced over the past few days hurts. Here's today's timesheet:

Yeah, but I shoot with this hand. I worked from home Wednesday so that I could jam on some documentation. How'd that work out?

Blogging, by the way, helps me switch contexts. I think.

Friday 29 March 2013 15:59:41 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Blogs | Business#
Wednesday 13 March 2013

After four years or so, I've changed the Daily Parker's skin.

Looking back at my other, dead blog enticed me to play with the theme control for a few minutes. And then I decided, you know, Mads Simple looks really clean and elegant, but I'm kind of tired of it.

So? Blue enough for you?

Tuesday 12 March 2013 21:12:02 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Blogs#

Years ago, I had two blogs: one for work, and one for everything else. Eventually I stopped having two blogs because...well, laziness?

The old blog is back. I discovered I had dead links, and it was simple enough to drag the old blog out of archives and throw it onto my general-purpose VM.

Actually, I cheated. I only threw the content up there. I used The Daily Parker's blog engine with all its customization and just copied the old content up to the VM.

It's kind of interesting, looking back on the things I was working on seven years ago. I am particularly happy, given everything I did this past weekend, to link back to November 2006, when I built my last data center.

Tuesday 12 March 2013 20:20:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Blogs | Business#
Tuesday 5 February 2013

I'll be a lot less busy in March, they tell me. Meanwhile, here are some things I want to read:

I will get to them...soon...

Tuesday 5 February 2013 12:18:08 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago | Geography | US | Blogs#
Wednesday 30 January 2013

I have a new post up at my employer's developers blog.

Hard-core Daily Parker enthusiasts may have seen it already. Still, click through to XM. We like blog visitors!

Wednesday 30 January 2013 12:35:32 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Blogs | Business | Windows Azure#
Monday 23 April 2012

I had meant to make a note of my 3,000th blog posting, but I completely forgot it was coming. So, after 2,353 days (and 24 minutes), three house moves, a few significant personal events, and Parker's entire life, The Daily Parker is still going strong.

At the historical posting rate for the blog (1.28 per day), I'll hit 6,000 entries in September 2018 and 10,000 entries by April 2027. (For the last two years, though, I've posted about 1.5 per day, so you could see 10,000 as early as April 2025.) Stick around.

And thanks for reading.

Monday 23 April 2012 11:23:50 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Blogs#
Monday 19 December 2011

Swamped with client work, getting ready for Xmas, traveling hither and yon—tomorrow, at least, will be quieter.

Monday 19 December 2011 16:17:53 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Blogs#
Saturday 10 December 2011

If you don't know Hyperbole and a Half, set aside an hour and read every one of Allie Brosh's posts. Since it's December, though, start with this one:

By the time I was done reinventing her, Mary carried a cane, walked with an exaggerated limp and was completely covered in BandAids.

She was also blind.

I started reading the blog last night when I got home for dinner and finally stopped 90 minutes later because my face hurt from laughing.

Saturday 10 December 2011 08:54:48 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Blogs#
Thursday 1 December 2011

Just now, going into hour 32 of the (technically) longest day of my life, I noticed that the blog's comment view feature isn't working. This is Case #2869 in FogBugz, and will be fixed as soon as possible.

Not tonight, though. Just like Saturday, my goal is only to make it to 9pm. If I can do that, I will defeat jet lag in one stroke. I must not fail. Sleep deprivation leads to pointless blog entries, and we can't have that, can we?

Thursday 1 December 2011 16:57:42 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Blogs#
Thursday 24 November 2011

The new feature I mentioned this morning is done. Now, in addition to the "where was this posted" button on the footer, you will notice the entry's time zone. Each entry can have its own time zone—in addition to the site-wide default.

I still have to fix a couple of things related to this change, like the fact that the date headers ("Thursday 24 November 2011," just above this entry) are on UTC rather than local time. But going forward (and going backward if I ever get supremely bored), you can now see the local time wherever I was when I posted.

Incidentally, if you want to bring the tzinfo database to your .NET application, I have licensing terms.

Thursday 24 November 2011 14:22:50 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Software | Blogs#

I'm rushing to get a major change to the resurrected dasBlog code done before I leave tomorrow (because I don't want to push code from anywhere I can't recover). Meanwhile, here's a timely NSFW comic for your holiday.

Thursday 24 November 2011 09:22:47 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Jokes | Blogs#
Tuesday 22 November 2011

A week ago Sunday I mentioned that I'd forked this blog engine so I could add features. I've added the first one, and everything seems to be working just fine.

The Daily Parker has used GeoRSS for a long time. All of the entries since March 2010 are geo-coded, which you would only know by looking at the RSS feed. Well, now you can see the geographic information on the blog entries themselves.

See the little globe icon next to the time and date at the bottom of the entry? Go ahead, click on it.

For more fun, check out some other entries, too.

Monday 21 November 2011 21:06:03 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Blogs#
Sunday 13 November 2011

The blog engine running The Daily Parker, dasBlog, last got updated in March 2009. It appears moribund; no one's updating it anymore. This happens in software development all the time. As a user of the software, however, I'd like some new features and some defect corrections. For example, I complained last month that I couldn't switch from GUID permalinks to more user-friendly ones. I also found a bug in the module that lists the months, off to the side. And I want to show the posting time in the local time zone where I made the post.

All of these things require changes to the code. It's an open-source project, so getting the code is easy, and I've had it for years. Only, the dasBlog project appears moribund.

So I've decided to start my own private code branch. Not only will this allow me to make the changes I want, but also it will allow me to integrate with Inner Drive libraries, which I'll need for the time-zone update.

I don't know when I'll have time to work on it, but at least now I feel like I've got some control over the blog engine. There are lots of blog engines out there, including some open-source .NET-based engines. But this is post #2758; I really don't want to convert all those entries to a new format.

Sunday 13 November 2011 08:42:50 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Blogs#
Wednesday 9 November 2011

Many people reading this blog actually see the posts a day or so later when they show up on my Facebook page. For years, Facebook has imported The Daily Parker through the blog's RSS feed.

Today, Facebook announced it will discontinue the practice before Thanksgiving:

You currently automatically import content from your website or blog into your Facebook notes. Starting November 22nd, this feature will no longer be available, although you'll still be able to write individual notes. The best way to share content from your website is to post links on your Wall. Learn more about notes.

Any ideas why?

Wednesday 9 November 2011 12:41:40 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Blogs#
Monday 31 October 2011

"Leading e-commerce development and acquisition group" KASA Capital sent me this email over the weekend:

I'd like to contribute an article to your site, thedailyparker.com - I can select a topic that matches the tone and theme of your site, or if you prefer, I can write about something of your choosing. The article will be unique and interesting to read. In return, I ask that I be able to subtly include a link to my site ____ within the article.

If you are able to put a permanent link to the article in a prominent place on your website, I may be able to make a one time Paypal donation as well.

Sure. Just a couple of things. First, the article you submit will have your byline. Second, the article will clearly state the financial relationship you have to the website you're "subtly" promoting. Third, the post containing the article will note that the article is "paid advertising." Finally, the article will end with a link to this post, to ensure that readers don't confuse your paid advertising content with anything I've ever written. If these conditions are acceptable, the fee for publishing your article will be $2,500.

Thanks for the offer, guys.

Monday 31 October 2011 11:19:58 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Blogs | Business#
Wednesday 26 October 2011

I'm at a client site today and tomorrow, jamming on database optimization. Expect regular posts to resume Friday.

Wednesday 26 October 2011 18:51:23 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Blogs#
Saturday 15 October 2011

The Daily Parker uses the mostly-open-source dasBlog engine. The software has always offered two choices for how it creates permanent links (permalinks): titles and GUIDs. As you can see, we use GUIDs, so permalinks look like this: http://www.thedailyparker.com/PermaLink,guid,05976d99-b3cb-4391-9052-509832cbf5cf.aspx instead of like this: http://www.thedailyparker.com/About-This-Blog.

I've been thinking that GUIDs, while always unique, are kind of ugly. This morning I tried changing the blog's configuration settings to use titles instead. Sadly, dasBlog generates permalinks on the fly, but doesn't change permalinks within entries.

Therefore, in order to switch to title-based permalinks, I'd need to root around in all of the individual entries and change them. I could write a script to do this, I suppose, but with 2,715 entries spanning almost six years, it's still an undertaking.

So GUIDs will stay, as they have for the life of the blog. If I ever start another blog, or if I ever want to spend a day making the switch for this one, I'll use titles.

Saturday 15 October 2011 10:48:44 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Blogs#
Saturday 8 October 2011

Apparently a lot of people are interested in time zones. Here's The Daily Parker's traffic this week:

Sat 2011-10-014,239
Sun 2011-10-02 3,727
Mon 2011-10-03 4,206
Tue 2011-10-04 5,497
Wed 2011-10-05 4,049
Thu 2011-10-0677,558
Fri 2011-10-07127,023

Fortunately my server seems to be keeping up. I expect that my ISP is unhappy with me, though.

Saturday 8 October 2011 10:33:35 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Blogs#
Friday 16 September 2011

ParkerI'm David Braverman, this is my blog, and Parker is my 5-year-old mutt. I last updated this About... page in February, but some things have changed. In the interest of enlightened laziness I'm starting with the most powerful keystroke combination in the universe: Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V.

Twice. Thus, the "point one" in the title.

The Daily Parker is about:

  • Parker, my dog, whom I adopted on 1 September 2006.
  • Politics. I'm a moderate-lefty by international standards, which makes me a radical left-winger in today's United States.
  • Photography. I took tens of thousands of photos as a kid, then drifted away from making art until a few months ago when I got the first digital camera I've ever had that rivals a film camera. That got me reading more, practicing more, and throwing more photos on the blog. In my initial burst of enthusiasm I posted a photo every day. I've pulled back from that a bit—it takes about 30 minutes to prep and post one of those puppies—but I'm still shooting and still learning.
  • The weather. I've operated a weather website for more than ten years. That site deals with raw data and objective observations. Many weather posts also touch politics, given the political implications of addressing climate change, though happily we no longer have to do so under a president beholden to the oil industry.
  • Chicago, the greatest city in North America, and the other ones I visit whenever I can.

I've deprecated the Software category, but only because I don't post much about it here. That said, I write a lot of software. I work for 10th Magnitude, a startup software consultancy in Chicago, I've got about 20 years experience writing the stuff, and I continue to own a micro-sized software company. (I have an online resume, if you're curious.) I see a lot of code, and since I often get called in to projects in crisis, I see a lot of bad code, some of which may appear here.

I strive to write about these and other things with fluency and concision. "Fast, good, cheap: pick two" applies to writing as much as to any other creative process (cf: software). I hope to find an appropriate balance between the three, as streams of consciousness and literacy have always struggled against each other since the first blog twenty years ago.

If you like what you see here, you'll probably also like Andrew Sullivan, James Fallows, Josh Marshall, and Bruce Schneier. Even if you don't like my politics, you probably agree that everyone ought to read Strunk and White, and you probably have an opinion about the Oxford comma—punctuation de rigeur in my opinion.

Another, non-trivial point. Facebook reads the blog's RSS feed, so many people reading this may think I'm just posting notes on Facebook. Facebook's lawyers would like you to believe this, too. Now, I've reconnected with tons of old friends and classmates through Facebook, I play Scrabble on Facebook, and I eagerly read every advertisement that appears next to its relevant content. But Facebook's terms of use assert ownership of everything that appears on their site, regardless of prior claims, which contravenes four centuries of law.

Everything that shows up on my Facebook profile gets published on The Daily Paker first, and I own the copyrights to all of it (unless otherwise disclosed). I publish the blog's text under a Creative Commons attribution-nonderivative-noncommercial license; republication is usually OK for non-commercial purposes, as long as you don't change what I write and you attribute it to me. My photos, however, are published under strict copyright, with no republication license, even if I upload them to other public websites. If you want to republish one of my photos, just let me know and we'll work something out.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy The Daily Parker.

Friday 16 September 2011 18:36:32 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Baseball | Biking | Chicago | Cubs | Duke | Geography | Jokes | Kitchen Sink | Parker | Daily | Photography | Politics | US | World | Raleigh | Religion | San Francisco | Software | Blogs | Business | Cool links | Security | Weather | Astronomy | Work#
Tuesday 13 September 2011

For the last three years running—including, it seems this one—my ability to find passably-interesting topics to write about plummets in September and picks up again mid-October. Any hypotheses about why? I haven't got any, except maybe that the shortening days do something.

Which is all just a longer way of saying, chirp...chirp...chirp...

Tuesday 13 September 2011 17:30:50 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Blogs#
Sunday 7 August 2011

From the New Yorker:

UPDATE: Pretty pleased with what I’ve come up with in just six days. Going to take tomorrow off. Feel free to check out what I’ve done so far. Suggestions and criticism (constructive, please!) more than welcome. God out.

COMMENTS (24)

Beta version was better. I thought the Adam-Steve dynamic was much more compelling than the Adam-Eve work-around You finally settled on.

Adam was obviously created somewhere else and then just put here. So, until I see some paperwork proving otherwise, I question the legitimacy of his dominion over any of this.

Heh.

Sunday 7 August 2011 13:04:00 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Jokes | Religion | Blogs#
Tuesday 14 June 2011

The UK Independent's Jon Rantoul won't be using clichés any time soon:

Normally, though, politicians are the worst offenders. It is not clear how much they themselves are to blame, or how much they are simply overwhelmed by the substandard drafting of civil servants and speech writers. Perhaps they lack the time to put a pen through it and rewrite it themselves. It is a national scandal that the Civil Service provides such ghastly drafting of official documents, full of turgid abstractions that are intended, perhaps unconsciously, to conceal the thinness of the content. As for speeches, what do politicians pay their speech writers for?

The Prime Minister's speech on NHS reform last week was a shocker for clichés: "pillar to post; in the driving seat; frontline; level playing field; cherry picking; one-size-fits-all; reinvent the wheel; let me be absolutely clear; no ifs or buts". If each of those were not on the List [of banned clichés] before, they are now.

The Daily Parker has adopted the list, effective immediately.

Tuesday 14 June 2011 10:05:17 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Blogs#
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Where does my creativity go in September?
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is a software developer in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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