Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Friday 31 January 2014

Three weeks back we had the coldest weather in 19 years. Forecasters predicted this week would be worse, but fortunately, they got it wrong:

We had a very fast chill-down Sunday night, then a good two and a half days of miserably cold weather, but yesterday afternoon the temperature peeked its nose above freezing for a couple of hours. And wow, does "above freezing" feel good right now.

For comparison, here's the week of January 6th:

So it really could be worse.

Friday 31 January 2014 16:18:57 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

I'm not going complain about how the 33 consecutive days of snow cover makes entering or leaving my house a complete pain in the ass (complete with Parker automatically flopping over when we get back inside so I can wipe off his paws*).

No, I'm going to post today about chicken wings:

[Bill Roenigk, chief economist at the National Chicken Council,] says the magical pairing of humongous athletes and itty-bitty chicken parts got its start with the rise of sports bars a few decades ago. Sports-watching demands cheap munchies, and wings were both convenient and cheap. "Ribs and pizza were the competition," says Roenigk. But ribs cost more money, and pizza — well, pizza tends to lose its charm if it sits on a table for too long.

In an odd twist, the once-cheap wing has become the most desirable and expensive part of the chicken. Per pound, chicken wings are now pricier than bone-in chicken breasts, perhaps inspiring this epic wing heist.

"People say, 'You ought to produce more wings,'" says Roemigk. This year's Wing Report lays out the crucial obstacle: "A chicken has two wings, and chicken companies are not able to produce wings without the rest of the chicken."

This leads to a huge question for me: how long will my remote office continue to have a 50c wing special on Thursdays? (They have the best wings in Chicago, by the way. After some discussion, the staff and I determined that they make them with orphan tears and unicorn sweat.)

As for this coming Sunday, I may in fact be eating wings at the Duke of Perth around game-time. But since they have no televisions there, I might have to wait to see the ads on YouTube later on. Now, if only the Bears, Giants, or 49ers had made it...

* The ritual paw-wiping concludes with a vigorous belly-rubbing, so he seems to enjoy the whole thing.

Friday 31 January 2014 13:19:28 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Thursday 30 January 2014

Via my co-worker Matt Stratton, a frustrating example of how companies that should have known better allowed a social-engineering attack against a single-letter Twitter handle:

I had a rare Twitter username, @N. Yep, just one letter. I’ve been offered as much as $50,000 for it. People have tried to steal it. Password reset instructions are a regular sight in my email inbox. As of today, I no longer control @N. I was extorted into giving it up.

It’s hard to decide what’s more shocking, the fact that PayPal gave the attacker the last four digits of my credit card number over the phone, or that GoDaddy accepted it as verification.

My [ownership] claim was refused because I am not the “current registrant.” GoDaddy asked the attacker if it was ok to change account information, while they didn’t bother asking me if it was ok when the attacker did it. I was infuriated that GoDaddy had put the burden on the true owner.

The thing is, GoDaddy allowed [the attacker] to keep trying until he nailed it. Insane. Sounds like I was dealing with a wannabe Kevin Mitnick—it’s as though companies have yet to learn from Mitnick’s exploits circa 1995.

The author has some concrete suggestions. Here are his mixed with some of mine:

  • Use GMail for your login email address. The attack described above worked through suborning the author's email accounts at the DNS level. No one's going to do that to Google.
  • Use a very long TTL for MX record expiration. (If you don't know what that means, that's OK; this is for administrators.)
  • Use two-factor authentication wherever possible. I've got two-factor authentication on just about everything, including GMail, my Microsoft ID, my DNS provider...everything that can use it. If I lose the authenticators, I'm in trouble. But not as much trouble as I'd be in if someone else logged into any of these accounts.
  • Use unique strong passwords and a password safe. In fact, use a different, strong password for every account that matters. Does the website have a credit card on file? Does it host your email, DNS, or something else vital? Strengthen the passwords.

I hope nothing like this ever happens to me or you.

Thursday 30 January 2014 14:03:07 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | #

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#

Yesterday the world watched in horror as Atlanta shut down completely because of a little snow. Atlanta's politicians promptly blamed everyone else, even though they were elected to take responsibility for these kinds of things. Today, professional meteorologists fired back:

"The mayor and the governor got on TV yesterday and said all this wasn't expected, and that's not true," [meteorologist Al] Roker said Wednesday on [NBC's] TODAY [Show].

Roker and other meteorologists pointed out that the weather service issued its warning for metro Atlanta at 3:38 a.m. Tuesday — meaning "they were warned about it, and they should have been prepared for it," Roker said. "It's a shame. It really is."

"It absolutely breaks my heart," said Jim Cantore, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.

"There are certainly chances that you take with this inexact science of forecasting a winter storm warning," Cantore said Wednesday. But this time, "the National Weather Service was absolutely spot-on with this."

In other words, Georgian politicians tried the Bilandic Defense and failed. (So did Bilandic, if you recall.)

Note to the South: this is one of those occasions when government could have helped, if you'd funded it.

Thursday 30 January 2014 12:49:37 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US | Weather#
Wednesday 29 January 2014

Pity the South. They really can't deal with winter weather:

In Atlanta, however, at 7 a.m. on Wednesday morning (well after the snowfall had stopped), [Mayor Kasim] Reed was talking about people still needing to get home.

Many of these people wound up passing the night at a grocery store or a stranger's home because the alternative was spending it on the highway, stuck in traffic that was barely moving, if at all. And people who didn't leave work soon enough – or schools that may not have sent children home early enough – quickly got stuck where they were. In Atlanta, schools didn't dismiss classes until after the snow started falling.

In the Northeast and Midwest, we regularly drive through this window: the first few hours of flurries. The great advantage of having snow plows (and salt trucks) is not just that they help clean up once a storm has passed, but also that they give us time to head home once it's already begun. If you don't have plenty of this equipment poised to hit streets before the first snowfall, chaos can set in immediately. That means that a region that isn't prepared ahead of time doesn't get much of a grace period to make up for that mistake.

Meanwhile, up here in Siberia, the next few weeks will be grim:

Chicagoans shiver[ed] through a 16th morning of sub-zero [Fahrenheit] temperatures Wednesday. But a measure of relief is on the way—albeit limited in scope and of shorter duration than many would prefer in the midst of a tough winter ranked 10th coldest and 5th snowiest to date.

While peak daytime temperatures are to surge 9°C Wednesday to a high of -7°C—and another 6°C to -3°C Thursday, snow chances are to increase in coming days as well.

A spell of snow is possible Thursday afternoon and evening with a more significant snowy period due Friday night into Saturday.

So what now? Only another 100-150 mm of snow. And then it will cool off again.

At this writing I'm 6 days and 19 hours from skipping town, though. I can cope for a few more days.

Wednesday 29 January 2014 16:47:57 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

"Mister Speaker, the President of the United States."

My live-blogging of the State of the Union this year turned out to be NSFW. Click through for the result.

Tuesday 28 January 2014 20:00:45 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US | World#
Tuesday 28 January 2014

Via Sullivan, Washington Post staffer Max Fisher explains how Ukraine's divisions are about more than one politician:

Ukrainian is the majority and official language of Ukraine. But, as a legacy of of the country's subjugation by Russia, many Ukrainians speak Russian, which is the native language for about one-third of the population. The Russian speakers are clustered in the south and east. A significant chunk of them are ethnic Russian, as well. In some regions, more than three-quarters of the population speaks Russian as their primary language.

Heavily Russian-speaking regions can tend to be more sympathetic (or at least less hostile) to policies that bring their country closer to Russia, as Yanukovych has been doing. But the Ukrainian-speaking regions have historically sought a Ukrainian national identity that is less Russia-facing and more European. So this is about politics, yes, but it's also about identity, about the question of what it means to be Ukrainian.

I visited Kyiv (Kiev) in 2009, a few months before Yanukovich's return to power. My host and I didn't talk about politics much, but she did show me where the protests that unseated him in 2004 had happened.

Kyiv has roughly equal populations of Ukrainian and Russian speakers, being the capital and all, though it's pretty firmly within the Ukrainian-speaking part of the country. I got the sense, from the few people I talked to, that Russia made everyone a little nervous. But it was spring, the weather was perfect, and I was really only there to see things like this:

My Ukrainian friends here and in Europe are scared for their country. Remember, it's only been independent for 23 years, after centuries of subjugation by others. (Sound familiar?) We'll see. There are a lot of angry people there right now.

Tuesday 28 January 2014 11:37:33 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | World#
Monday 27 January 2014

My day became a non-stop parade of context shifts and meetings, so now that the temperature has dropped to -20°C (with a wind chill of -31°C), I'm wondering just how important having cream in my coffee will be tomorrow morning.

Two other thoughts:

First, I lived through the winters of 1983-84 and 1984-85, the first notable for giving us 100 hours of sub--18°C temperatures ending Christmas morning, the second for giving us the all-time-lowest temperature in Chicago (-33°C). I didn't go to school on that day (20 January 1985), only because that day was a Sunday. We went to school the next day, though. We all survived.

Second, despite having had that experience as a child, I don't want to have it again. No. Forget it. We're having the coldest winter in a generation, and I'm tired of it.

You know, before this winter, I don't think I ever complained about winter weather on this blog. Sure, I posted about getting my car buried, and walking along a surreal Lake Shore Drive, but until the past few days I don't think I ever went negative.

Fuck that. This sucks. Five days in the Caribbean isn't long enough.

Monday 27 January 2014 17:29:20 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

The temperature tumble that began yesterday evening seems to have leveled off. From 6pm yesterday to 6am today we had the steepest decline (17°C) with an abrupt plateau at sunrise this morning, now holding at -19°C.

I might have to leave the house this afternoon to pick up a couple of necessities, like cream. (Yes, it's worth braving the Arctic to get cream for my coffee tomorrow.) Otherwise, my office is closed for two days, and Parker's at day camp, so until his 9pm walk tonight I really have no reason to leave.

This is how I came to explain the phrase "stir-crazy" to a native Russian speaker over Skype this morning. I think we'll have some excellent examples of when our office re-opens Wednesday.

Monday 27 January 2014 10:30:30 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

I'm torn.

Or I'm a dinosaur. Or I'm a Perceiver. Or I'm a senior software development manager who's sick of changing technologies.

My current drama is between continuing to use Mercurial on one hand, and switching to Git on the other. Both are distributed version control systems, so both enable a load of flexibility in single- or multi-developer workflows. I know that sounds like jargon, so let me explain.

No, there is too much; let me sum up: If you don't have to share every little change you make to a software project, everyone is better off.

The cold war between these two products has created two problems that appear to have nothing to do with each other:

  • We have multiple software projects that we have to continue to support in production while we build entirely new hunks of them (which will take months); and
  • All of the cool tools for integration and deployment work with Git, while not all of them work with Mercurial.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. I chose Betamax and Laserdisc as well. I have a real weakness for the best technical solution, even while the popular solution takes the lead. (Both Betamax and LaserDisc had superior audio and slightly better video than the products that defeated them. At least I held off choosing between HD DVD and Blu-Ray until one of them was cold and dead in the ground.)

I digress.

I'm annoyed that Git is moving so far ahead of Mercurial that it's becoming an argument to use Mercurial. I assert this is an argument to popularity, not to logic. But I also get really tired of swimming upstream, and if Microsoft, Bitbucket, and a bunch of other companies are pushing a technology, who am I to blow against the wind?

A conclusion, to the extent possible, will follow shortly.

Sunday 26 January 2014 21:37:45 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Software#
Sunday 26 January 2014

Yesterday I wrote that I'd spend this morning setting up the Inner Drive Website as a continuous-delivery application running in Windows Azure cloud services. Well, that was a bit optimistic. Here's what I did instead:

  • Shook my head sadly that the last time I published the site at all was last March. That's a little dis-continuous, I think.
  • Upgraded the application to .NET 4.51, the Azure SDK 2.2, Azure Storage 3.0, and the latest Inner Drive Extensible Architecture build.
  • Moved the master code repository to my real provider.
  • Upgraded an administration feature to a new database schema.
  • Created an entirely new copy of the site's database to accommodate this, because other applications are using the old database schema.
  • Beat Web deploy into submission to avoid the 30-minute Azure publish time. (Why 30 minutes? Because I have a slow DSL and because the site has about 30 MB of SDK files (register!).
  • Corrected an idiotic mistake that prevented people from resetting their forgotten passwords.

The total time for this mishigos: 5 hours, including 6 minutes for the last bullet point.

So I haven't actually converted the repository to Git, let alone set up a CI server or anything like that. And now, I will go walk the dog, and work on this no more.

Sunday 26 January 2014 15:54:23 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Business | Cloud | Windows Azure#

The worst winter in 30 years continues in Chicago. This morning we woke up to another 50 mm of snow on the ground (fortunately light and fluffy) and -12°C cold. The good news: today the forecast calls for a seasonable -3°C. Then, starting around 3pm, this happens (click to expand):

If you compare that forecast to the one on January 4th, you will see that today's has a lower bottom.

Yes, not content to give us the coldest temperatures recorded in Chicago since 1995 already, this winter is about to give us, quite possibly, the coldest temperatures recorded in Chicago since 1983. (In fairness, January 1994 sucked.)

I have lived through the coldest day ever in Chicago, 20 January 1985, when the ambient air temperature bottomed out at -33°C, but the howling winds gave us a flesh-stripping -51°C. Tomorrow won't be like that. But it won't be like mid-June, either.

Sunday 26 January 2014 08:53:35 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Saturday 25 January 2014

This is just a note to myself, really. Last weekend I spent an hour setting up continuous deployment of an Azure website using Git.

At work, we're moving towards doing the same thing with Azure cloud services, which has a different set of problems to solve.

I'll have more to say about this once we've done it. Meanwhile, here are a few of the resources we're reading to get started:

This weekend I may move Inner-Drive.com to CI/CD as well. It'll be my Sunday Morning project, possibly.

Saturday 25 January 2014 14:24:39 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Business | Cloud | Windows Azure#

Briefly, overnight, the temperature at O'Hare hit

1°C before beginning its slow slide to -9°C just now. And it's getting colder, with a forecast -18°C tonight, then a spurt up to -2°C tomorrow afternoon, then an inexorable slide all day Monday to the depths of hell. Between dawn Monday and noon Wednesday—60 straight hours—we'll have temperatures below -18°C just like two weeks ago.

Of course, two weeks ago, it got a little bit warmer on Tuesday. Not this time. And yet, it still won't be as bad as Christmas 1983, when we spent 100 hours below zero Fahrenheit.

We're creeping toward another awful record, too. The greatest number of days we've ever had in one month below zero Fahrenheit was January 1977, when we had 17. Tonight's will be 12. Monday, Tuesday, then possibly Wednesday and Thursday...that will be 16. Can we do it Friday, the 31st, and tie the record? I hope to dog not.

For some reason, we're unusually sick of winter this year.

Saturday 25 January 2014 14:12:40 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Friday 24 January 2014

I've said it before: In Chicago, you're not allowed to complain about the cold until it's below 0°F. If you're too cold, you're just dressed incorrectly.

Well, we've now had 16 days that cold this season (including 4 in December), tying the horrible 1978-79 and 1976-77 winters for third place. Only two winters, one of them in the 19th century, had more days this cold.

To add insult, yesterday Anchorage, Alaska, had record-high warmth (9°C), and most of the state was warmer than Chicago. The dome of hot, high-pressure air over the North Pacific, probably caused by anthropogenic climate change, has been driving this.

So, when we have the coldest winter in 30 years, and when it's 28°C warmer in flippin' Alaska than in Chicago, we get to complain. And next week they're forecasting even colder weather for us.

Twelve days until I'm on a small island...twelve long, cold days...

Edited to clarify the record period.

Friday 24 January 2014 09:17:34 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Thursday 23 January 2014

Why? Because as the value of currency goes down, it becomes easier to pay off fixed debts. As a compensation, interest rates tend to rise with inflation, because the cost of money—if I give you a dollar today, I want more tomorrow—goes up with it.

The flipside is that creditors hate inflation. Raising interest rates kills inflation dead. In fact, raise interest rates at the wrong time, and you get deflation, which makes it harder to pay off debts.

This tells you everything to know about why the very, very rich want to raise interest rates right now, even though we have the lowest inflation rate in history. Paul Krugman fills in the lines:

Keynes describes...a condition of secular stagnation — of persistently low returns on investment, in which there is a chronic oversupply of saving. He believed, in 1936, that this would be the state of affairs in the decades ahead, and was of course wrong in that belief. But he wasn’t wrong about the possibility of such a state of affairs, and since Larry Summers came out as a secular stagnationist, the view that we may well be there now has gone mainstream.

[L]ow rates of interest, he suggested, "would mean the euthanasia of the rentier, and, consequently, the euthanasia of the cumulative oppressive power of the capitalist to exploit the scarcity-value of capital."

What Keynes didn’t say, but now seems obvious, is that the rentiers are unlikely to accept their euthanasia gracefully. And therein, I’d argue, lies the ultimate explanation of the persistent clamor for monetary tightening despite weak economies and low inflation. I’ve described on a number of occasions how tight-money advocates are constantly shifting their arguments — it’s about inflation; no, it’s about sound market functioning; no, it’s about financial stability — but always with the same bottom line: rates must rise now now now.

This is why don't we have higher employment, more growth, and rising standards of living right now. And yet mortgage rates are going up—in a housing slump. At some point, the bottom 99% are going to notice, don't you think?

Wednesday 22 January 2014 19:07:57 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US#
Wednesday 22 January 2014

Today we might get up to -10°C, but even though this part of January is normally the coldest bit of the year, it might continue to cool down over the next couple of weeks. The 8-14 day look-ahead suggests below-normal temperatures through the beginning of February. This winter is already 2°C below normal on average.

Plus, with the 150 mm of snow we got last night, we've now tied the winter of 1977-78 for third-snowiest-ever with a seasonal total of 1138 mm. It could be worse; parts of Michigan have gotten over 2540 mm of snow this year.

More snow is forecast for this week, too.

Two weeks to a little Caribbean island...two weeks...I can make it...

Wednesday 22 January 2014 12:36:53 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

Cranky Flier explains:

You might think that airlines hate when they have to bump people, but that’s not really true. They hate when they have to involuntarily bump people.

These are bad. If the airlines can’t get enough people to volunteer to take a later flight, they are forced to bump people against their will. Naturally, that means that there are going to be some angry people who don’t get on that airplane.

[T]he penalties for involuntarily bumping someone have gone up a lot.

Not only can the penalty now be 4 times the value of the ticket, but the cap has been raised to over $1,000 (and rising). With the potential cost going up, airlines have had to get more conservative on how much they overbook.

He lays out some more details about how airlines work it out.

Wednesday 22 January 2014 12:09:06 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation#
Tuesday 21 January 2014

As feared, Montreal-based Bixi, who supply many cities including Chicago with bike-share systems, has filed for bankruptcy protection:

The development was announced Monday by Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Company and the Montreal Gazette.

Three years ago, the Montreal City Council rode to the rescue of Public Bike System, also known as Bixi, by approving a $108 million bailout package.

It included a $37 million loan to cover the company’s operating deficit and $71 million in loan guarantees Bixi hoped to use to expand into other cities.

On Monday, the CBC quoted Coderre as saying his city would seize control of the troubled company’s $11 million in local assets, rather than sink even more money into it.

Peter Scales, spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation, said in the statement: “Divvy, Chicago’s bike share system, continues to operate as normal, and current operations will not be impacted by the announcement that Public Bike System (PBSC) has filed for bankruptcy.

The Divvy Bikes website has no information yet.

Oh, don't die, Divvy. Don't die.

Tuesday 21 January 2014 14:11:58 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Travel#
Monday 20 January 2014

I've got outside meetings every day this week, and those tend to compress my days. So there might be more link lists like this one coming up:

Back to the mines.

Monday 20 January 2014 13:51:07 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | US | World#
Sunday 19 January 2014

The Chicago Forestry Department removed a tree near my house back in October but left the stump. No one could figure out why—until they tried to remove it a few days ago:

I'm not an arbologist, but it seems to me that the tree had bionic parts. Actually, it looks like it grew through a steel grating in the parkway and then absorbed the grating. In any event, I hope no one got hurt when they tried sawing through the stump.

Sunday 19 January 2014 17:55:16 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink#
Saturday 18 January 2014

I recently had a routine checkup, and my doctor suggested revisiting the allergy tests I had way back in 1988. Only now, they have a blood test for most allergies, obviating the uncomfortable patch test I had to go through way back when.

Nothing has really changed except my sensitivity to cats, which has gone down. When I was a kid they made me sneeze; now, they just make my eyes water if I forget myself and forget to wash my hands after patting a cat.

That's all a long setup for this bit of doggerel that I came up with when I got the test results. They really tested for nearly all of these things.

Ahem.

I'm not one bit allergic to peanuts,
Nor scallops, nor soybeans, nor clams,
Nor hickory trees, nor cedars, nor bees,
Nor elms, ashes, mushrooms, or yams.
Not cats, not dogs, not milk, not snogs,
Not pigweed, not elder, not thistles,
Not mold fumigatus (of gens aspergillus),
Not elder, not pecan, not whistles.
It's only the poop that's too tiny to scoop
From vermin we know of as dust mites
Making me sneeze and spray lots of Febreeze.
Yes, I'm allergic to gross little mite shites.

Yes, The Daily Parker ever strives to raise literary standards on the Internets.

Saturday 18 January 2014 17:00:05 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#

A co-worker sent around this post from Iris Classon explaining how to set up continuous deployment in Azure. She used Visual Studio Online and Team Foundation Server. I spent about two hours this morning doing it with Visual Studio 2013 and Bitbucket. There are a couple of gotchas the way I did it:

  • First, I made a mistake, and started with the Visual Studio 2012 MVC template. There's actually a VS2013 MVC template that has better authentication features, but, well, sometimes you miss things, right?
  • Because of this, I had to add the ASP.NET Universal Providers 2.0 package from NuGet.
  • Jumping to the end, it also means I had to copy WebMatrix.Data.dll directly into the deployed Web site by FTP. It didn't get deployed through Git.
  • When I created a new Web database using the Azure portal quick-create, no amount of convincing could persuade the portal to create the database in the North Central U.S. data center just outside Chicago. Instead, it created the thing in Southeast Asia. Since the Web site was in Chicago, this was inconvenient. I wound up just adding a new database to an existing Azure server.
  • The ASP.NET universal providers required create table permissions when the application started, to create the app's membership tables. Since I had created the database on an existing server, this required me to add the application user account to the database owners role for a moment, which I don't like doing. Oh, and because it was a new database, I had to grant select, insert, update, and delete permissions to the application user account manually.

The app is pretty simple, and may not last long in its current incarnation. If you're really curious you can see it here.

The app, however, isn't the point; continuous deployment is. And I found, once I got it running, that pushing changes to the site's repository in Bitbucket updated the site transparently.

I'll play with this a little more when I have time.

Saturday 18 January 2014 13:36:32 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Cloud#
Friday 17 January 2014

In two and a half weeks, I'll be on a beach doing nothing of value to anyone but myself. Meanwhile, here are all the things I won't have time to read until someday in the future:

Now my long day continues...

Friday 17 January 2014 14:11:27 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Geography | US | Weather#

Just getting a server rack out of one's apartment is only half the battle. Disposal takes a little effort, too.

Fortunately there's Craigslist. Unfortunately, people are flaky. So on the second attempt, the former Inner Drive Technology International Data Center found a new home in a small Loop family law firm.

I actually felt a little twinge. The rack, the servers, the peripherals...they're actually gone. But: Inner Drive Technology is now 100% Cloud.

Thursday 16 January 2014 20:13:31 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Cloud#
Thursday 16 January 2014

This is a big deal for shops like 10th Magnitude, my employer, especially given that we developed the API for Arrow Payments. PCI compliance means banks—who have skin in the game—have certified Azure is secure enough for credit-card processing:

The PCI DSS is the global standard that any organization of any size must adhere to in order to accept payment cards, and to store, process, and/or transmit cardholder data. By providing PCI DSS validated infrastructure and platform services, Windows Azure delivers a compliant platform for you to run your own secure and compliant applications. You can now achieve PCI DSS certification for those applications using Windows Azure.

To assist customers in achieving PCI DSS certification, Microsoft is making the Windows Azure PCI Attestation of Compliance and Windows Azure Customer PCI Guide available for immediate download.

The latest Azure release also has a bunch of other great features for developers, including monitoring tools and Web site improvements, but PCI is the big one.

Thursday 16 January 2014 15:01:35 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Cloud | Windows Azure#

Andrew Sullivan tops my reading list every day. He and his staff post sometimes 100 items a day on The Daily Dish, and even if I only read a tenth or them, my day is better. He's infuriating, fascinating, informative, conservative, Catholic, gay, mercurial, level. I don't agree with him about a third of the time, but one of his best characteristics is his willingness to listen to arguments and change his mind.

So last February, when he jettisoned a paid gig with The Atlantic to become a professional blogger, I supported him. By "supported" I mean "gave him money." And now I'm up for renewal, about which he says:

What have we created together? Every now and again over the years, I've tried to figure it out. A blog? A magazine? A blogazine? A website? But every year, it changes again, as the new media shift, and as the world turns and as small experiments - like the Window Views or the Reader Threads - become ramparts of the whole thing. Do we, the staffers, write this blog? Sure, we do. But so do you, every day, with emails and testimonies and anecdotes that bring dry news stories to vivid personal life. Do we curate the web? Sure. Every day, we scour the vast Internet for the smart or the funny, the deep and the shallow, the insightful and the abhorrent. But you send us so many links and ideas every day that the creators of the Dish are better understood as a collective of all of us, you and us, correcting, enlightening, harshing and moving each other.

It's journalism, in its original meaning. It's a conversation. It's how I start to get information—but only how I start, because he always posts multiple viewpoints even while making it clear what he believes. And I'm proud to give him money to keep writing.

(By the way, if you want to give me money, just let me know.)

Wednesday 15 January 2014 21:22:19 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Business#
Wednesday 15 January 2014

Tomorrow will be quieter than today, I hope, or I might not get time to think until next week. I didn't miss these meanwhile:

Next meeting...

Wednesday 15 January 2014 14:28:48 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | US | Weather#
Tuesday 14 January 2014

A century ago, engineers cut the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, connecting the Great Lakes with the Mississippi Basin. It might be time to close the canal:

Over the last decade or so, a huge range of interests — from environmental groups to fishermen to shipping experts to politicians — have raised the alarm over just how much this artificial connection has created an opening for invasive species such as the Asian carp to make their way through North America’s waterways. And the costs associated with the damage caused by these species have been high enough to prompt serious consideration of closing off the link between the Mississippi and the Great Lakes.

How high? First, consider the figure $18 billion. That’s the estimate the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released last week to re-insert a physical separation between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi system.

The proposal would dam the Chicago and Calumet Rivers' connections to the Canal, requiring changes to the Deep Tunnel reservoir system and the flood-control systems in the Western suburbs. Meanwhile, Asian carp have gotten within a few kilometers of Lake Michigan. Twenty of those fish in the lake is all it would take to create a permanent population all the way to the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Reversing the Chicago River made a lot of sense in 1900, and probably saved thousands of lives from cholera and other diseases. Times change, though. We have new threats today.

Tuesday 14 January 2014 14:11:17 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography#

CNN national-security analyst Peter Bergen argues that the NSA, CIA, and FBI had all the information they needed to prevent 9/11, but the Bush Administration failed to follow through. Providing more tools to the NSA would do nothing except give them more power:

The government missed multiple opportunities to catch al Qaeda hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar when he was living in San Diego for a year and a half in the run up to 9/11, not because it lacked access to all Americans phone records but because it didn't share the information it already possessed about the soon-to-be hijacker within other branches of the government.

The CIA also did not alert the FBI about the identities of the suspected terrorists so that the bureau could look for them once they were inside the United States.

These multiple missed opportunities challenge the administration's claims that the NSA's bulk phone data surveillance program could have prevented the 9/11 attacks. The key problem was one of information sharing, not the lack of information.

Since we can't run history backward, all we can say with certainty is that it is an indisputable fact that the proper sharing of intelligence by the CIA with other agencies about al-Mihdhar may well have derailed the 9/11 plot. And it is merely an untestable hypothesis that if the NSA bulk phone collection program had been in place at the time that it might have helped to find the soon-to-be-hijackers in San Diego.

Indeed, the overall problem for U.S. counterterrorism officials is not that they don't gather enough information from the bulk surveillance of American phone data but that they don't sufficiently understand or widely share the information they already possess that is derived from conventional law enforcement and intelligence techniques.

The blanket Hoovering up of data by the NSA threatens everyone's liberties. But that cost isn't worth the results by any measure, since the NSA isn't actually making us safer. Their arguments to fear don't change the existing evidence.

Tuesday 14 January 2014 11:23:03 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US | Security#
Monday 13 January 2014

Bruce Schneier makes the case:

We have no evidence that any of this surveillance makes us safer. NSA Director General Keith Alexander responded to these stories in June by claiming that he disrupted 54 terrorist plots. In October, he revised that number downward to 13, and then to "one or two." At this point, the only "plot" prevented was that of a San Diego man sending $8,500 to support a Somali militant group. We have been repeatedly told that these surveillance programs would have been able to stop 9/11, yet the NSA didn't detect the Boston bombings -- even though one of the two terrorists was on the watch list and the other had a sloppy social media trail. Bulk collection of data and metadata is an ineffective counterterrorism tool.

Not only is ubiquitous surveillance ineffective, it is extraordinarily costly. I don't mean just the budgets, which will continue to skyrocket. Or the diplomatic costs, as country after country learns of our surveillance programs against their citizens. I'm also talking about the cost to our society. It breaks so much of what our society has built. It breaks our political systems, as Congress is unable to provide any meaningful oversight and citizens are kept in the dark about what government does. It breaks our legal systems, as laws are ignored or reinterpreted, and people are unable to challenge government actions in court. It breaks our commercial systems, as US computer products and services are no longer trusted worldwide. It breaks our technical systems, as the very protocols of the Internet become untrusted. And it breaks our social systems; the loss of privacy, freedom, and liberty is much more damaging to our society than the occasional act of random violence.

It's all stuff he's said before, but it needs saying again.

Monday 13 January 2014 13:18:42 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US | Security#
Sunday 12 January 2014

Krugman outlines how the state of North Carolina cutting unemployment benefits has completely failed to encourage people back into the workforce:

The idea behind cutting benefits is that we are “paying people to be unemployed”, and that tough love will force them to go out and create jobs. It’s never explained exactly how greater desperation on the part of the unemployed will, in fact, lead to higher overall employment. Still, you could imagine that an individual state might gain some competitive advantage against other states by cutting wages. What you actually see in North Carolina, however, is nothing....

The unemployment rate did fall — but this was due to a large drop in the labor force, as the number of people looking for work fell. Why? Well, a likely explanation is that some of the unemployed continued to search for work, and were therefore counted in the labor force, despite low prospects of finding a job in a depressed economy, because such search is a requirement for those collecting benefits. Take away the benefits, and they drop out.

[I]f there were anything to the theory that cutting unemployment benefits encourages job search and somehow translates into higher employment even in a slump, harsh policies should work better at the state than at the national level. But there is no sign at all that North Carolina’s harshness has done anything except make the lives of the unemployed even more miserable.

I've asked some friends in Raleigh and Charlotte for comment.

Sunday 12 January 2014 10:15:47 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US | Raleigh#
Friday 10 January 2014

The Washington Post is reporting that the Obama Administration has dumped CGI Federal and hired...oh sweet baby dills, Accenture:

Federal health officials are preparing to sign a 12-month contract worth roughly $90 million, probably early next week, with a different company, Accenture, after concluding that CGI has not been effective enough in fixing the intricate computer system underpinning the federal Web site, HealthCare.gov, the individual said.

Accenture, which is one of the world’s largest consulting firms, has extensive experience with computer systems on the state level, and it built California’s new health insurance exchange. But it has not done substantial work on any federal health-care program.

This contract is worth billions to Accenture, who deserves it about as much as Bashar Assad deserves a Nobel peace prize.

Let me tell you a story about Accenture. A few years ago I worked for one of its subsidiaries. I was on a project I really enjoyed, traveling 100% outside of Chicago. Then I got a new job and gave 30 days' notice so that we would have sufficient time to staff someone else in my role and transfer what I knew to him.

That was Friday. On Monday, when I showed up at the job site, I couldn't log into my accounts on the client's systems. So I went to the client and said, "Hey, I'm having trouble logging in."

He said, "What the f@&! are you doing here?"

It turned out, the Accenture partner on the project had told this guy that I just up and quit, walked off the project, and didn't give any notice. Unfortunately, the Accenture partner did not communicate this fable to me, or to my boss at the subsidiary, so I flew to the project location Sunday night as planned.

I neither know nor care what the client said to the Accenture partner who lied to him and tried to destroy my reputation, but the client assured me it would not be a happy or polite conversation. I never met the Accenture partner personally, which is good, because I might have said something rude as well.

This wasn't the first or last time that Accenture did something Machiavellian at my expense, but it was one of the few that had so many impartial witnesses that I can relay it without fear of contradiction.

So: these are the folks that my President's government has decided to hire.

I'm also chuckling that the contract will begin on March First. Google that phrase and you'll see why it's funny to us in the industry.

Friday 10 January 2014 11:37:54 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US | Business#

Just 120 hours ago, a polar vortex wandered into the center of North America and froze us solid. Less than an hour ago, at 8:39am CST, the official temperature at O'Hare hit 0°C27°C warmer than 9am Monday morning. It's also the first time the temperature has gotten up to freezing since December 29th.

I've lived in Chicago for a long time, so I can say this graph is extraordinary (data from my demo at Weather Now:

Of course, with 250 mm of heavy, wet snow on the ground, rain in the forecast, and temperatures rising to 4°C today, we have new problems:

Patchy drizzle is to fall from the saturated atmosphere into a sub-freezing air mass Friday morning and early afternoon. This could produce slippery spots. But, the main event—a round of rain, likely to be heavy at times—arrives later Friday and continues into Friday night.

With the ground snow-covered and the soil below it frozen, the prospect of rain falling on a 250 mm snowpack at the same time temps surge above freezing is ominous. Moisture has nowhere to go in such a situation but to sit in pools or exit the area as run-off, a development which could produce some flooding.

But we're still glad to be shot of those incredibly cold temperatures. We've had 12 days below -18°C this year, a feat achieved in only three other winters since we started keeping score in 1871. Which brings up an interesting graph from Minnesota:

So even this year's bitter cold temperatures in the Midwest fit into a trend showing gradual moderating of Minneapolis weather. I would wager we could produce a similar chart for Chicago. Our -27°C reading Tuesday morning, after all, was still warmer than the record -33°C temperature I experienced (briefly) on 20 January 1985.

Wow did it seem warm this morning. I hope this week was the last of our super-frigid temperatures. Now we've just got to get through a few more months of snow.

Friday 10 January 2014 09:35:55 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Thursday 9 January 2014

Here's the semi-annual Chicago sunrise chart . (You can get one for your own location at http://www.wx-now.com/Sunrise/SunriseChart.aspx .)

Sunrises are just starting to get earlier, but today's (7:18 CST) is only a few seconds earlier than the latest sunrise of the year on January 3rd. Even though the sunrise times creep earlier by seconds every day, sunsets start to get noticeably later: 16:39 today, 7 minutes later in a week, 25 minutes later in three weeks. January is cold and dark, but (on average) a few degrees warmer and 48 minutes longer when it ends than when it begins.

Click through to see a full chart of Chicago sunrise and sunset times.

Thursday 9 January 2014 08:38:32 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Astronomy#

Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel has his annual review of the state's weather for last year. Some highlights:

Based on the latest data, the statewide average temperature for 2013 in Illinois was 10.6°C (0.8°C below the 1981-2010 average). That is much cooler than 2012 when the statewide average temperature was 13.1°C.

The statewide average precipitation for 2013 in Illinois was 1112 mm (91 mm above the 1981-2010 average). The precipitation for the two halves of 2013 were very different. The precipitation for the first 6 months of 2013 totaled 736 mm and was 232 mm above average and the wettest January-June on record. The precipitation in the following 6 months of 2013 totaled 376 mm and was 141 mm below average and the 19th driest July-December on record.

By the way, the 2013 annual statewide average precipitation of 1112 mm was 329 mm wetter than 2012 when we received only 783 mm across the state.

Of course, there's art:

Thursday 9 January 2014 08:20:30 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Wednesday 8 January 2014

Earlier today, "smoking gun" emails between New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's staffers showed pretty clearly that Christie's office engineered a three-day traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge just to punish Democratic Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich. The infraction? Not endorsing the governor in last year's election. Josh Marshall explains why this is bad for Christie's presidential hopes:

[A]ll the Watergate villainy was really needless. He was already winning and on track to win big. For Nixon that went to some of the tragic elements of the man. Because for Nixon is was the deep paranoia which drove him.

That last part isn't like Christie. But the essential dynamic is pretty similar. All year last year it was clear that Christie was set for a massive win. So just think how needless this was. Whether he did it or his aides did, this was an effort to get a Democratic mayor to endorse him. A Democratic mayor. No one expects members of the opposite party to endorse you, though many did.

With Christie, I doubt it's paranoia. In fact, I'm almost sure of it. I don't think the man has the sort of insecurities and self-doubt that drove Nixon to greatness and infamy. It seems more like some tough guy ambition and need to get everybody to fall into line - a crazy ambition to run the table.

Becoming the caricature of a Jersey tough guy won't really play outside the Northeast. Hell, I'm not even sure it will play inside the New York metro area. The guy's a thug, and he keeps screwing New York for minor political gains, after all. (Remember the Hudson tunnel?) New Jersey is stuck with him for a few years. The rest of us don't really want him.

Wednesday 8 January 2014 13:23:48 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US#
Tuesday 7 January 2014

The temperature at O'Hare just reached -18°C for the first time since 11pm Sunday, 39 hours ago:

This was pretty much as forecast. The updated forecast predicts continued warming through the weekend (click for full size):

Perhaps by tomorrow, walking to the bus stop won't cause my eyelashes to freeze.

Tuesday 7 January 2014 13:20:00 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Monday 6 January 2014

The temperature outside has gone up a whopping 0.9°C (to the tropical -23.6°C) since this morning. At O'Hare, it looks like the temperature bottomed out around 8am:

Let's hope it continues to rise. I'm really curious what this graph will look like in three days.

Monday 6 January 2014 13:17:20 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

Just now, at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters:

(Compare with four years ago, when I bought the thermometer while sojourning in North Carolina.)

The official temperature at O'Hare is -27°C, breaking the previous record of -25°C set in 1988. We might even break the record low maximum temperature—the coldest high temperature ever on this date—of -18°C set in 1912.

I have not gone outside today, and until I take Parker out after he gets back from day care, I have not plans to do so.

At least the cold snap will be brief; they're forecasting above-freezing temperatures by Friday.

Monday 6 January 2014 08:30:08 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Sunday 5 January 2014

I've gone to my remote office to do some work. Unfortunately, they wouldn't let me sit in the beer garden:

Fortunately, I found an acceptable seat inside:

My real office is closed tomorrow because no one wants to commute on the coldest day since 1995. I hope something is open. Or at least, I hope someone delivers.

Sunday 5 January 2014 16:07:15 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Best Bars | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Weather#

The snow has fallen for about 20 hours straight. We're still enjoying it, mostly, because it's Sunday morning and not everyone has put pants on yet. (Parker insists I put pants on every morning by 8. He still hasn't learned how to put on his own leash.)

So it's still kind of pretty:

As I sit in my (eerily quiet) apartment Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters, watching the snow swirling around out there, I am very glad I replaced my windows and have a washer and dryer inside. I'm not pleased that my favorite boots have started to leak. And I'm not looking forward to tomorrow's weather.

Sunday 5 January 2014 10:59:46 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

Right before Christmas I removed the four dormant servers from the Inner Drive Technology International Data Center (IDTIDC), vowing to complete the job posthaste. Well, haste was Wednesday, so now, post that, I've finally finished.

There are no more servers in my apartment. The only computers running right now are my laptop and the new NAS. (The old switch, hidden under a chair, still has a whirring fan. I may replace it with a smaller, non-fanned switch at some point.)

Here's before:

And here's the after:

Notice that Parker doesn't seem too freaked out by the change, though he did seem uncomfortable while things were actually changing. He's resilient, though.

Fully 18 months ago I started moving all my stuff to Microsoft Azure. Today, the project is completely done. My apartment is oddly quiet, and seems oddly larger. I can get used to this.

Saturday 4 January 2014 18:18:07 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Business | Cloud | Windows Azure#
Saturday 4 January 2014

We proudly welcome the oncoming polar vortex tomorrow evening:

The polar vortex is an area of cold low pressure that typically circulates around the Arctic during the winter, spreading tentacles of cold southward into Europe, Asia, and North America at times. Except this time, it’s not a small section of the vortex, but what one forecaster, Ryan Maue of WeatherBELL Analytics, called “more like the whole enchilada” [that's visiting the eastern U.S.]

The Chicago Weather Center predicts starting Sunday night “a non-stop 60 hour stretch of temperatures which fail to break above 0-degrees” – the longest such period of the past 18 years.

The core of the cold reaches the Ohio Valley and East Coast Monday night into Tuesday, when temperatures drop 20 to 40+ degrees below normal.

The cold air will slowly begin retreating Wednesday.

Here are the temperature, wind, and precipitation probability graphs for the next 48 hours (click for full size):

The next 48 hours look almost as bleak, with the temperature line staying below -18°C until around midnight Wednesday. Strangely enough, it just keeps going up from there, hitting the freezing mark on Friday morning.

So: two days of the coldest air anyone has experienced in Chicago since the 66 hour stretch we had in February 1996.

Can't wait.

Saturday 4 January 2014 17:21:27 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Friday 3 January 2014

Via Sullivan, writer Josh Barro responded to someone upset by his Duck Dynasty comments. It's worth reading in full:

"Do you dislike women because of your mother or some other woman?"

I like women just fine; I just don't want to have sex with them. I don't think my lack of sexual attraction to women has anything to do with my mother or any woman in particular.

"Have you ever had sex with a woman?"

No. I am not at all sexually attracted to women but I'd like to have sex with a woman someday, out of pure curiosity.

It's about as clear and straightforward a set of responses to these kinds of questions as one can read, with an amusing conclusion.

Friday 3 January 2014 10:33:20 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US#

At least, it's sunny and warm in my office. Outside it's sunny and -18°C. I experienced what may be characterized as a "brisk" walk from the bus this morning.

This, believe it or not, will lead to a brief respite from the winter we didn't really expect. The Tribune reports this morning that the 50 hours of snowfall we had earlier this week put down more snow than any other storm since February 2011. It gets better:

There’s plenty of snow to blow around. The 620 mm on the books to date for the 2013-14 Chicago snow season is the heaviest tally this early in 13 years. What’s more, the 50 hours of “on and off” snowfall, which began Tuesday (New Year’s Eve) afternoon, had by late Thursday produced the biggest accumulation of snow here since the February Ground Hog’s Day Blizzard in 2011.

Midway Airport was home to a 312 mm storm total the past 3 days while O’Hare checked in with 277 mm. Amounts were even more impressive north and west of the city. There, as much as 450 mm fell at Arlington Heights and Gurnee....

Oh, but wait for it:

Bitterly cold air is to come crashing southward into the Lower 48 over the weekend, producing wind chills as low as -60°C in northern Minnesota by Sunday morning. That level of chill is occurring as a brutally cold air mass proceeds south from Canada, breaking a host of temp record records on the way, and producing a non-stop 60 hour stretch of temperatures which fail to break above 0-degrees. That would be the longest sub-zero [Fahrenheit] period of the past 18 years.

Monday's forecast calls for a high around -22°C and a low around -27°C outside the city and -24°C overnight.

For some reason, the Climate Prediction Center believes we'll have above-normal temperatures shortly after that. One can dream...

Friday 3 January 2014 09:21:42 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Thursday 2 January 2014

Andrew Sullivan, commenting on evidence that requiring visas keeps tourists away, explains why arriving in America generally sucks for most people:

This may seem trivial, but it isn’t with respect to American soft power. Most [of my readers] are American citizens, so they don’t fully see what it is like to enter the US as a non-citizen. It’s a grueling, off-putting, frightening, and often brutal process. Compared with entering a European country, it’s like entering a police state. When you add the sheer difficulty of getting a visa, the brusque, rude and contemptuous treatment you routinely get from immigration officials at the border, the sense that all visitors are criminals and potential terrorists unless proven otherwise, the US remains one of the most unpleasant places for anyone in the world to try and get access to.

And this, of course, is a function not only of a vast and all-powerful bureaucracy. It’s a function of this country’s paranoia and increasing insularity. It’s a thoroughly democratic decision to keep foreigners out as much as possible. And it’s getting worse and worse.

Even for returning U.S. citizens, our border can be a pain in the ass. This is why I am overjoyed to have a Global Entry endorsement. But even though I've seen the lines, I've never experienced coming here as a foreigner. My experiences in most other countries—Russia being the most memorable exception—have been completely benign. Plus, only a dozen or so countries require me to get a visa before arriving. Only Norwegians can visit more countries visa-free than we can.

Has anyone out there had a negative experience at our border?

Thursday 2 January 2014 13:59:17 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US | World | Travel#

My walk to the bus this morning, through a park path that I forgot they don't shovel:

I could have taken a Divvy bike but...well, for some reason they're closed today:

The good news is, it's stopped snowing for now. The bad news is, we're heading down to -17°C tonight.

I texted some friends in Atlanta and Houston with the top photo. For some reason they don't want to visit Chicago just now.

Thursday 2 January 2014 13:08:05 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Biking | Chicago | Weather#
Wednesday 1 January 2014

Right before Christmas I removed all the long-dormant servers from the Inner Drive Technology Worldwide Data Center. Today I'd planned to shut off the last two live devices, my domain controller and my TeraStation network attached storage (NAS) appliance, replacing the first with nothing and the second with a new NAS.

(The NAS is the little black box on the floor to the right; the domain controller is the thin rack-mounted server at the top.)

It turns out, today was a good day to shut down the old NAS. When I logged into its UI, I discovered that one of its disks had failed, cutting its capacity by a third. Fortunately, I configured the device with 4 x 256 GB drives in RAID 5. This meant that when one of the drives failed, the other three kept the data alive just fine, but the array lost 128 GB of space and a whole lot of speed.

The new NAS cost $200 and has 4 TB of space—almost 6 times more than the old, ailing NAS. I'll have a photo of it when I put it in its permanent home next weekend. (Right now there's a server rack in the way, and right now it's busy getting completely loaded.)

For perspective: the TeraStation cost $900 in May 2006. It's run nearly continuously since then, which means three of the drives lasted about 67,000 hours, with an amortized cost of 32c per day.

I'll discuss how much damage to a network killing the domain causes once I'm done cleaning up the debris.

Wednesday 1 January 2014 15:23:27 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Business | Cloud#

Welcome to your new year.

Last year I totted up a bunch of numbers from 2012; here's the update. In 2013:

  • I took only 9 trips, visiting 4½ countries (Canada, England, Scotland, South Korea, and North Korea—the last one for only 4 minutes) and 4 states (New York, California, Washington, and Texas). I probably visited Indiana and Wisconsin in there too, but only incidentally.
  • I flew 77,610 km and drove only about 3,000 km. This is why I love living in a city.
  • As I mentioned yesterday, I wrote 537 Daily Parker posts, only 2 more than in 2012, keeping up the average of 1.48 per day for the second straight year.
  • I changed timekeeping systems in August, moving from Fogbugz to JIRA, so it's too much of a bother to calculate how much time I spent doing what. I can say, however, that I had 2,197 chargeable* hours at work, but I can't say (in public) how many were billable.
  • I took more photos than last year: 4,197. This was still fewer than 2011, 2010, or 2009.
  • For some reason, I only started 28 books in 2013, but I finished 30.
  • The really sad number, though, is that I only went to movie theaters 3 times, once to see a TV show (Doctor Who's 50th anniversary special) and once to see a movie I'd already seen (High Fidelity). So, really, I only saw one movie in a theater. On the other hand, I went to 13 baseball games and 5 concerts, and I did manage to watch 50 movies at home. Still, I need to go to more theater, clearly.

A mixed review, then. In 2014, travel will probably go up; so will seeing movies in theaters; so will reading books and taking photos. I'm looking forward to finding out.

* All time doing anything for my employer, not including vacation, PTO, or holidays.

Wednesday 1 January 2014 12:00:11 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
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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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