Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Monday 11 February 2013

I always prefer heading west for business trips and east for fun trips because the time shifts work better that way. Sometimes I go to London for a long weekend and stay on Chicago time, meaning I go to sleep at 4am (10pm in Chicago) and sleep until noon (6am). (On any trip longer than 3 days I shift to local time.) Similarly, coming to the West Coast—I'm in Vancouver at the moment—lets me sleep in a bit (5:30 here is 7:30 at home) and get adequate caffeine before starting my business meetings.

Today I've encountered two complications. First, British Columbia and a few other provinces have declared today a provincial holiday, so nothing opened before 7am. Nothing, as in "coffee shops." Second, this early in February and this far west, the sun doesn't rise until 7:28.

Oh, and it's raining. Not a lot. Just enough.

Of course, here in Canada, everything is clean, efficient, and polite. It's not the Canadians' faults that it's cold, dark, and decaffeinated.

Monday 11 February 2013 07:19:46 PST (UTC-08:00)  |  | Geography | Travel#

The Pope has announced his resignation:

Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he would resign on Feb. 28 because he was simply too infirm to carry on — the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March.

"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," he told the cardinals. "I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only by words and deeds but no less with prayer and suffering.

Ratzinger is the person most directly responsible for the office accused of covering up priests abusing children for decades. I cannot wait to read Sullivan...

Update: I was not wrong about Sullivan.

Monday 11 February 2013 06:02:39 PST (UTC-08:00)  |  | World | Religion#
Sunday 10 February 2013

Did you know that Los Angeles is on the way from Chicago to Vancouver? I didn't either. I forgot that, when you have hubs in Chicago and Los Angeles, and no flights at all into the actual destination airport, layovers happen.

Good view from the Admirals Club though:

As much as I like flying, I'm not wild about the seven flight segments in 10 days—none of them less than 3 hours. (Next week, apparently, Dallas is on the way from Chicago to San Francisco. Same hub-and-spoke problem.) I also don't like having to scrunch my laptop between the seat to my front and my lap just to get some work done. Waah, waah, waah.

Next report from the Land Above.

Sunday 10 February 2013 12:38:19 PST (UTC-08:00)  |  | Aviation#

Last night I made the mistake of testing a deployment to Azure right before going to bed. Everything had worked beautifully in development, I'd fixed all the bugs, and I had a virgin Windows Azure affinity group complete with a pre-populated test database ready for the Weather Now worker role's first trip up to the Big Time.

People interested in those sorts of things can continue to read some helpful Azure debugging tips. Otherwise, stay tuned for a whinge about trying to do work on an airplane.

Sunday 10 February 2013 10:27:27 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Software | Cloud | Windows Azure#
Saturday 9 February 2013

Looking at Poynter's roundup of storm front pages, I'm struck that the New York Post called the storm "Nemo." Two things:

1. Winter storm names are an invention of The Weather Channel, a move the National Weather Service has explicitly repudiated.

2. Nemo is Latin for "nobody." So the Post's headline yesterday, "Nemo Bites"—i.e., "no one bites"—just reinforces the stupidity..

Anyway, I know my friends out east have unprecedented disastrous a bit of snow to survive endure inconvenience them today. Enjoy the digging.

Saturday 9 February 2013 13:50:32 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Weather#
Friday 8 February 2013

Taking a brief rest from my temporary insanity, I read Sullivan:

Someone in the GOP needs to take Bush-Cheney apart, to show how they created the debt crisis we are in, by throwing away a surplus on unaffordable tax cuts, launching two unfunded wars, and one new unfunded entitlement. They need to take on the war crimes that has deeply undermined the soul of the United States. They need to note the catastrophic negligence that gave us the worst national security lapse since Pearl Harbor (9/11) despite being warned explicitly in advance, accept weak and false intelligence to launch a war they were too incompetent to fight or win, sat back as one of the worst hurricanes all but took out a major city, and was so negligent in bank regulation that we ended up with Lehman and all that subsequently took place.

These were not minor errors. They were catastrophic misjudgments which took an era of peace, surplus and prosperity and replaced it with a dystopia of massive debt, a lawless executive branch, two unwinnable wars, and a record of war crimes that had their source in the very Oval Office.

That seems about right to me.

Friday 8 February 2013 17:50:35 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US#

Unfortunately, that's not going to happen for a while. I'm going to spend a lot of time in airplanes over the next 11 days, including a long weekend with the folks. Good thing wifi is ubiquitous, even on airplanes, because it also looks like I'm going to burn at over 120% of utilization again this month. (Last month I was 118% billable, but if you add non-billable time I actually worked 134% of full time.)

The madness ends soon. We're hiring, projects are gelling, other projects are winding down, and at some point I'll just get on a plane for four days without taking my laptop.

I did take three hours yesterday to play pub trivia with my droogs, owing to the start of a four-week trivia tournament. We're in second place—by one point. I sincerely hope to make the next three Thursdays.

Friday 8 February 2013 17:07:13 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Business#
Wednesday 6 February 2013

This is alarming:

A new and worrisome benchmark has been reached with the announcement Tuesday by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that Lakes Michigan and Huron have dipped to new record lows. It’s been a 14 year journey. That’s how long water levels have been below historic averages--the most extended run of below normal water levels in the 95 year record of Great Lakes dating back to 1918.

The numbers are as stunning as they are disturbing with serious implications to shipping interests, all manner of creatures which populate the lakes, plus the millions who enjoy these natural treasures recreationally and depend on them as a source of water.

Water levels have fallen 1.9 m from the record highs established in October 1986 and currently sit at levels 735 mm below the long term average. Lake Michigan's water level is 430 mm lower than a year ago

We're getting more precipitation than we have in a while, but it hasn't been enough to end the drought. And because of dredging near Detroit, the lakes are emptying faster than ever right now.

Wednesday 6 February 2013 13:16:38 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | US#

More things I gotta read later:

Now, back to rewriting an authentication provider...

Wednesday 6 February 2013 12:01:46 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Geography | Security#

The UK's Conservative government has passed a marriage equality bill by 400 to 175:

[UK Prime Minister David] Cameron, who described gay marriage as “an important step forward for our country”, smiled broadly as the result was revealed. [Deputy PM] Nick Clegg called the vote “a landmark for equality in Britain”. [Opposition leader] Ed Miliband said it was “a proud day”.

However, the details of the vote quickly showed that Mr Cameron’s decision to push through the legislation has left him in a minority within his own party over the issue.

The result followed a debate in which several gay MPs made impassioned arguments for the change in the law. Mike Freer, the Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green, appealed directly to his party colleagues over the vote, declaring: “I am not asking for special treatment. I am simply asking for equal treatment.”

The United Kingdom has a state church and a right-leaning government. The U.S. has a constitutional prohibition against a state church and has a left-leaning government. Yet the UK passed marriage equality before most legislatures in the U.S.

I remember fondly when the U.S. was a beacon of freedom and tolerance in the world. Maybe it will be again, someday.

Tuesday 5 February 2013 18:27:01 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US | World#
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#
Monday 4 February 2013

Ho did the accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen LLP miss that Dixon, Ill., comptroller Rita Crundwell embezzled $53 million?

CliftonLarson in 2005 resigned as auditor for Dixon in order to keep other city assignments such as ledger-keeping after an influx of federal funds required the town to hire an independent auditor.

In its lawsuit, however, Dixon contends that CliftonLarson continued to do the annual audit and get paid for it, while hiring a sole-practitioner CPA from nearby Sterling to sign off on the work, thereby preventing competitors from grabbing the business. CliftonLarson says it prepared only a bare-bones “compilation” of financials after 2005 to aid the new auditor, Samuel Card, 56, who also is a defendant.

In depositions in late 2012, Power Rogers attorney Devon Bruce produced CliftonLarson emails after 2005 that referred to the firm's “audit” of Dixon. Also entered into the record were invoices submitted by Ms. Crundwell supposedly from the Illinois Department of Transportation that lacked an IDOT heading or logo and, in one instance, carried a nonexistent date—Nov. 31, 2004.

“Had a two-minute phone call been made by a Clifton employee to the Illinois Department of Transportation regarding any of these false invoices, Rita Crundwell's theft would have been identified at that time,” the lawsuit argues.

Oops.

Monday 4 February 2013 10:18:04 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | US#
Sunday 3 February 2013

This is a more-technical follow up to my most recent post. If you're interested in how the next version of Weather Now will use Microsoft Windows Azure technology to provide real-time weather information, keep reading.

Sunday 3 February 2013 11:44:55 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Cloud | Cool links | Weather | Windows Azure#

Five years ago, on 6 January 2008, I opened a FogBugz case (#528) to "Create NOAA Downloader". The NOAA downloader goes out to the National Weather Service, retrieves raw weather data files, and stores the files and some metadata in Windows Azure storage. Marking this work item "resolved"

Well, I just finished it, and therefore I have finished all of the pieces of the GetWeather application. And with that, I've finished the last significant piece of the Weather Now 4.0 rewrite. Total time to rewrite GetWeather: 42 hours. Total time for the rewrite so far: 66 hours.

Now all I have to do is...let's see...create worker role tasks to run the various pieces of the application (getting the weather, parsing the weather, storing the weather, and cleaning up the database), upgrading the Web site to a full Cloud Services application, deploy it to Azure, and deploy its gazetteer. That should be about 5 hours more work. Then, after a couple of weeks of mostly-passive testing, I can finally turn off the Inner Drive Technology Worldwide Data Center.

Sunday 3 February 2013 11:10:40 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Business | Weather#
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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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