Sunday, October 22, 2006

Who me? Bitter?

My second-latest homebrew was enjoyed far more than I'd have guessed yesterday at our annual local homebrew competition, bringing me a win for the third year running.  The surprise comes from it being a very hoppy beer.  This crowd has traditionally seemed to enjoy lighter styles, though with my Porter winning last year and now this aggressive pale this year, perhaps there is a change in tastes going on.

This beer marked another change - I have always brewed in the kitchen, which is convenient but slow, and frequently unpopular with other family members (ahem).  For this beer I hauled out my big camp stove, which turned out to be very nice for bringing large batches to boil quickly.  I liked this so much I think I'll brew them all this way in future.

Anyway, here's the brew:

Who me? Bitter?
  • 2 lbs 2-row malt
  • 1 lb flaked wheat
  • 1 lb crystal 75L
  • 1/2 lb rye
  • 1/2 lb munich
Mash in at 170 F with 1.5 gallons. Insulate (I used a cooler and a couple of sleeping bags) for about 50 minutes. Sparged carefully with 2 gallons or so at about 175 F. Brought to a boil, turned off heat
  • add 7 lb light liquid malt extract
brought to a boil. Added
  • 1 oz Magnum hops for 60 minutes
  • Whirfloc for 20 minutes
  • 2 oz Centennial hops for 5 minutes
removed from heat, let cool, splashed into primary fermeter and added water to make up 5.5 gallons.
  • Pitched White labs California Ale yeast (WLP001) at 68 F
Fermentation started in about 18 hours (at 68 F), proceeded for approx 1 week. When bubbling had decreased enough to suggest secondary fermentation was underway, I added directly to primary fermenter:
  • dry hopped with 2 oz Columbus
  • 1 oz french oak chips (steamed for 15 minutes)
After another couple of days, the rate of bubbles dropped to roughly zero.  after 1 more day I racked to a 5 gal carboy, then crash cooled to 36 F in a cold freezer (took perhaps 12 hours).  Let stand for 5 days for yeast and other debris to settle out, then kegged and carbonated.

After aging for 10 days in the keg, this beer is medium bodied and a pale amber color, with strong hop characteristic and huge floral nose from the dry-hops. And yet it isn't so bitter as to rip the back of your throat off.

Friday, October 6, 2006

A9 and Google

I've been trying other search engines lately.

'Other' is an interesting word, isn't it?  As if there is such a strong expectation that I'd use Google that I need to make a point of using anything else.  Not that I'm completely happy with the Google search experience.

As it turns out, though, Google seems to meet my needs better than does A9, and the reason why appears to be a real-world example of the Innovator's Dilemma.

Both Google and A9 use ads to pay the bills.  Google has sponsored links that follow the model of the competitive coupons that you get at the supermarket  checkout - the till sees what you're buying, and prints coupons for competing brands. Google sees what you're searching, and companies have bought presentment in response to specific keywords and combinations.  I just searched in google for "water heaters" and got a handful of sponsored links from companies that sell water heaters, such as sears, findaplumber, that sort of thing. It is a short list, small font, occupying a small portion of the page. I read a fair number of the ads, and frequently click of a few.

Over at A9, the same query "water heaters" results in two columns of output, one is a series of web links such as that from Google, and the other is a list of books and publications you can buy about water heaters, conveniently linked to the purchase page at Amazon (who, of course, own A9). And that column of sponsored links is very large, occupying a pile of screen real estate.

Now with a general query like "water heaters", which sponsored link do you imagine I'd more likely want to look at?
  1. "The World Market for Instantaneous Gas Water Heaters: A 2004 Global Trade Perspective (Spiral-bound)"  $795.00 at
  2. a page of tankless water heaters for sale at Ira Wood and Sons ?
What I don't know here is whether most queries at Google or A9 are by folks looking to buy, or to learn (and willing to pay for the book). But I imagine buy. That's why I frequently click on a few of those links - because
I am looking for a vendor who sells what I was searching for.

This seems a good example of the innovator's dilemma, which talks about companies with an entrenched business and customer base being unable or unwilling to brings new products to market to serve different customers. In this case, Amazon is so focused on books and book buyers that of course the sponsored links are to books they sell. Even if that makes little or no sense for the query.

There may well be a place for both search engines, if I am willing to tune my own behaviour. When I search, sometimes I am looking to buy, sometimes I am looking to learn. If I can remember to change search engines I may optimize my results in any instance. But that is a fair amount of work. And if I search from the address bar (which I don't, but I think others do), that won't happen.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Hardware RAID is a really bad idea

A year or so ago I built a computer for my father in law, intended for video and graphics processing, so I wanted to use RAID (to get a performance boost from striping). I picked up what seemed a quality motherboard, from a very name-brand manufacturer whose motherboards I'd been using for several years with no trouble ever. Built the machine, it worked, sent it off. And it worked well.

Then he wanted some help finidng some new software, so he brought the machine back, and it hasn't booted since. Seems that particular motherboard model has had some problems (hard-disconnect from the mains, and it may not start again). Who'd have thought?

The problem is, I can't get that motherboard any more, and the specific RAID chip isn't available in a contemporary board. So I'm hosed ('hosed' is a highly technical Canadian IT term).

I've now bought a few other boards with closely related RAID chips to see whether one would recognize the striped array, no luck.  This is turning out to be rather an expensive (in time and hardware) service call in my IT-to-relatives hobby.

The right answer, of course, is to ensure you have backups, but that doesn't always happen.  The other thing that would have helped would have been to use software RAID and not been at the mercy of a transient hardware vendor.

I've since built a couple of big servers for my home use, around 3TB combined, using lvm and software raid and they work great.  I've even moved an array from one system to another without a hiccup, and recabled within a system to replace some drives, and the raid system figured out the changed drives and reassembled without a hitch.

I'll use software RAID exclusively in the future. And avoid mobos with RAID chips like the plague.

[Comments from my previous blog]

1. Mikael Gueck left...
Friday, 27 October 2006 8:47 am
One acronym: ZFS.

2. Behi left...
Friday, 27 October 2006 1:51 pm ::
That's so sad... Have you searched ebay? You might find a compatible motherboard there...

3. Yo left...
Saturday, 28 October 2006 6:39 pm
Suggestion, as I have had the same thing happen to me on more than one computer... hardware raid PCI card. They aren't too expensive, and unless the card craps, you can move it to another m/b and all should be fine. I too am worried as I set up 2 120GB drives in raid for video and what not. I usually reinstall Windows every so often and more than once forgot the dang drivers for the raid. One time I ended up scrapping what was on them due to a m/b failure and not able to get them working with a different m/b that I ended up buying to replace the bad one. 240GB, gone. And that's nothing compared to today's cheap drives.

Saturday, July 1, 2006

a Modest Proposal for child care

I've heard that bringing two problems together can sometimes create a solution. Let's test that.

Here in California, two industries are going gangbusters - housing and childcare. Housing because despite economic slowdown there remains a good deal of pent-up demand, so new developments are still going in on the outskirts of the large cities. This has become so bad that migrant farm laborers are switching to construction in the Central Valley bcause it pays better. Plus, aging homes in termite-infested areas means a lot of renovations and repairs. Put the two together and it becomes very hard to find contractors to work on ones home. Anyone with a positive reputation is booked over a year in advance.

Only quality childcare is harder to come by. Waiting lists are the norm. In fact, if you don't get on a waiting list when the child is one or so, it'll be hard to get into a quality preschool before the child goes on to kindergarten.

The solution is obvious: "Bob the Builder(tm) Preschool".

"Bob the Builder Preschool prepares children for life by building their self-confidence in performance of useful and lucrative home maintenance and construction skills. Your child will experience real job sites and and benefit from quality instruction delivered by professional builders and fore(wo)men. Attendees develop skills with a wide variety of hand and power tools, as well as gain teamwork and language skills. Projects include basic carpentry, drywall, electrical and plumbing. Projects in the final year include abatement of hazardous compounds such as asbestos and molds."


"Bob the Builder" is a trademark or registered trademark of someone else.

[Comments from my previous blog]

1. Mother of your children left...
Wednesday, 5 July 2006 6:19 am
I cannot wait to see what *Language skills* the children develop. I still prefer the name "Camp Glen" to "Bob the Builder Preschool". Makes it sound like the kids have a chance of having some fun. I can just see the curriculum "Trench Making for the Energetic", "The Art of Pouring Beer", and "How to walk the dog up really big hills".

Glen responds:  Just pouring? Our local microbrewer-run preschool program is teaching kids to brew beer ... never mind. Yes, dear.

2. ms. L left...
Wednesday, 17 January 2007 3:10 pm
This would be perfect for the Montessori minded parents. "Practical Life" skills gone wild!

Sunday, 6 July 2008 3:19 pm :: <link deleted>
I write the diary of the child care. It is daily life being nice, a pleasant thing, a serious thing, surprising continuation. Please link this site.

4. Shazia left...
Thursday, 22 January 2009 6:11 am :: <link deleted>
Nice article. This article is provide useful and importnat information. These information is very workable.

5. careprovider left...
Wednesday, 3 June 2009 3:43 am :: <link deleted>
My child went there and it's a great pre-school. Feel free and trustful to take your children there!

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Blogs again, and frequency

Yesterday I attacked a blogging 'rule' I'd been flogged with, and then I was thinking about it a bit more and realized I'd been flogged (or at least gently castigated) with another: how often one blogs.  A while back there was a survey of blogging by folks productizing open source, and it was noted that while I have a blog (true), I hadn't posted since November (at that time, true).  The implication being that this is bad.

While infrequency is no doubt bad for my Google ranking, I have to relate this back to my post yesterday, that, for me, blogging is about advancing an idea or discourse.

Have you ever been in a meeting, to hear a comment afterwards that the meeting took so long because we needed to give everyone a chance to say the same thing?  I have, once or twice.  It is one of those wry-giggle sorts of moments.

If posts are to advance an argument or carry on a discourse, then they probably should be infrequent.  Or at least, they should probably only be as frequent as one has something useful to say. Or at least, that seems useful to the one saying.

Anything more is probably blog-spam, flooding our aggregators with an equal measure of things found by roadside and dead-cat posts.

Dang, this is probably my shortest post ever.

[Comments from my previous blog]

1. Bill left...
Tuesday, 28 March 2006 11:21 am
No comment. 8-)

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Rules about what goes in a blog?

First a disclaimer: blogs can no doubt be whatever you want them to be.
Now a recant: my disclaimer is actually my point.

From time to time I've wanted to create a communication channel at my work that would let me dig in and chew on a topic, or invite a guest writer to do so, but in a more colloquial way than in a paper or presentation or "standard" corporate sort of piece.  Something like a blog. Text. Long or short as it needs to be to make and defend a point. Relatively unedited - certainly no magazine-editorial-staff, but really edited only as much as the writer needs to self-edit for his own comfort.

But whenever I've tried to do this (and it has been 3 or 4 times over the past year or so), I get these blank looks.  I keep hearing "But, a blog is a diary, not a magazine."  The latest expression of this is within an email newsletter I read from time to time. Amy Wohl said [ed: not available online any more]:
I’d also be breaking a blog rule.  Sometimes I write at some length and blog pieces are usually pretty short.  I could write a summary paragraph up front when I’m going to do that.  That would break yet another rule – or maybe invent something new.

So, sticking my head in the lion's jaws: this diary notion ...does it make any sense at all?


A diary is something I write for myself, not for others.  When I write for myself, I write in my own shorthand, something that will remind me of a state of mind or a thought process I'm going through.  I skip steps. Skip letters. Hell, skip whole words or even sentences. I flit around from point to point. I jot in the margin in a stream-of-conciousness sort of way.  And this works because I know sorta how my brain parses information.

And even more, all my diary need do is remind me - it doesn't need to convince me, or even explain to me.
I joke about my handwriting: it is so bad that even I can't read it, but that is ok because as soon as I see it I can remember what I wrote. Those who know me or my handwriting personally will probably agree.

Can I do the same thing in a blog? I don't think so. Even if I accept the 'short quip' sort of blog style that many bloggers use, what I would write *for myself* in such a quip is rather different than what I would write for others. What others would get from what I write for myself is an odd thing to think about.

So I think 'diary' is pretty nonsensical.

Some use blogs fire off more rapid notes. And that is ok.  Though personally I see the mini-postings descend into a sort of glorified bookmarks page, comprised of links and no especialy added value. It winds up looking like little blocks, each comprised of a phrase or sentence or two, and a link. Not always, but surely a good deal of the time. 

Frankly, that sort of thing isn't really blogging for me because it doesn't contain any or enough of *me* - that's the one bit of the 'diary' concept that works for me, that my blog reflects me, not others. My thoughts. Not just semi-mechanical mention of things found at the roadside.

And for me, at least, reflecting me means that it is a mini-article, or mini-essay, and that is states a problem, describes a thought, appears at least sometimes thoughtful and hopefully from time to time is a little thought-provoking.

I don't know. It seems to me that a blog is a tool, not a product. The tool is about lightweight publishing process, not about the shape of the finished product. You can use it for a diary if you really want, and you can use it for glorified bookmarks too. Or you can use it to advance a discourse or promote a point of view. And it is about the feed, not what is fed.

But the point is that you just do it.

[Comments from my previous blog]

1. Knowledge Process Outsourcing left...
Monday, 22 February 2010 12:35 am ::
Thanks for sharing this very inspiring post. Even if you don't think so, I think it is relevant for a blogger to be able to express herself to his ideas.

2. glen martin left...
Saturday, 24 April 2010 6:25 am ::
I think that was my point ... a blog is about expressing ideas to others. Key words here being 'expressing' and 'others'.

Link blogs don't fit for me because they don't express your ideas, they're just bookmarks.
Saying blogs are like a diary doesn't fit for me because diaries aren't for others, they are for yourself. And then having said it is a diary, one can make up all sorts of rules about what belongs in a blog, as to how diary-like that would seem.

No, my whole point is that a blog isn't like a diary at all, it is really a tool for self-publishing, and there are as many kinds of content as there are bloggers.

And that's ok. Just do it.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Phishing with integrity

Sometimes it is possible to find humour in tedium. Phish attempts rank up there in plain unadulterated tedium for me. But check this out:
To take an advantages of current updrade (sic) you should login your account by using CitiBusiness® Online application. For the purpose please follow the reference:
<bogus URL removed>
Please note that changes in security system will be effective immediately after relogin.
Oh, I dare say.  I have to respect truth in advertising.


Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Traffic Jams

Have you ever done the courteous thing when crossing an intersection, and waited back at your stop line because the lane opposite was backed up?  Have you ever had someone making a right turn slip in while you were going out of your way to not block the intersection?
As Silicon Valley grew, people started moving into cities farther afield (indeed, they used to be fields), and commute in.  The local city into which they move charges developers for extension of local infrastructure like water, sewer, roads, but there is no model to share that revenue with cities through which the new residents will drive to get to work. So the roads in the middle aren't expanded, and commute times for those who live nearer the jobs go as distant commuters clog the highways.
If I could construct cars for free, gas was free, and I had an infinitely large parking lot at my house, I could push cars out my driveway in a steady stream. Where would they go? And why should I not to this? After all, I've paid real estate taxes for my driveway.

There's been a fair amount of tearing-out-of-hair lately over the desire of BellSouth et al to create a throttling mechanism for the internet, in essence, to charge for bandwidth based on quality of service (QoS) metrics.

I frankly think that tiering only makes sense.

First, it closely models the real world.  In the real world, I can choose between a free road which may be congested, and a turnpike which may get me to my desitnation faster.  There are toll booths on the turnpike to both encourage the quality difference, and to charge me for the privilege.  Similarly, there are car pool lanes, and fastpass lanes, all rewarding drivers who contribute some (arguable) value to the system with shorter wait times.

Second, much more than in the real world. traffic generation is very very inexpensive in the electronic. If all the T1s to all the content providers were saturated, the trunks would need to be much  much much bigger, as would the switches that route between the trunks and access lines. Some might argue that the content generators already pay for their content to get onto the highway, but like me with my driveway, the physical limits of the driveway permit far more traffic than the system can accept in aggregate.

Now we might argue that this implies a massive increase of scale is necessary for the central infrastructure of the net. Probably so.  But until this the scale is increased there will be those who take advantage of the current system and inject more traffic than their share, like the friendly gent who cut me off by making a right turn on red yesterday while I was waiting for traffic to clear.  And the folks who run the roads will try to find ways (like "no turn on red" signs) to penalize that gent.

In the physical world, the different QoS metrics that exist for physical delivery of envelopes has led to a two-tier system of the government post office and private couriers.  In fact it is multi-tier, as the couriers and post office eash have multiple levels of service at different price points.  So my letter than absolutely must be received by tomorrow, will be received by tomorrow, for a premium carriage fee. Any amount of bulk mail can be pushed into the system by advertisers and not impact my letter at all.

What is so wrong about a tiered approach to net traffic?  Don't we want content we've purchased to arrive faster than spam?