Monthly Archives: November 2005

Back to the Mac side?

As a part of the project I’m working with right now (the National Lambda Rail Experiment Support Service), I needed to manage a Mac X Server as a collaboration engine for the team. This meant that I needed a Mac to run the fat client administrative tools (sure, you can do it with a command line, but this is much easier). So, the project provided me with a Mac mini to run these tools. I’ve had Macs in the past (and in the mists of time, I was even a Newton user [MP100 and MP130] 😉 ) so I’m not unfamiliar with Apple products. However, this was my first extensive introduction to OS X and current generation Mac technology. I’m enjoying this, and am actually spending significant time using it as my primary email/browser platform right now, accessing the PC with my other stuff via TightVNC. I miss my 2nd mouse button (I have single-button bluetooth mouse), but everything else feels quite natural. There are some things that annoy me — the Apple Mail app has some issues with IMAP expunge and Thunderbird 1.07 has stability problems (crashing), and for some reason, Mac OS X locks up requiring a reboot if I leave it on overnight (still looking into that). But, overall, it’s great. I’m quite interested to see what will happen with the new Mac announcements in January, and the possibility of a “Media Center” Mac mini. I don’t have a DVR, and I think that one thing that Apple does better than anyone else is the user interface. I expect that device to be very usable, and the form factor and quietness would make it easy to put in the living room.


Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy family and slow down from the hectic pace of today’s life. I had a chance to visit my family in Pitt County, and sit down for a nice meal on Thursday evening. My 15-year old son clearly didn’t want his picture taken :-). Got out on Friday and to do some quail hunting, with my dad and oldest son. Didn’t find any quail, but it was a nice walk through the woods and fields. Shot some clay birds later on, and my dad and son both outshot me (but that’s typical). Went through about 5 boxes of shells, until the mainspring in the trap broke. Hmmm…think that’s what I’ll get my dad for Christmas!

Rain, rain…

Finally some rain! I don’t have a rain gauge, but from looking at the fishpond, I think we got about 1.5″ Sunday night & during the day on Monday, and it rained substantially Tuesday overnight, from the pitterpatter on the roof. It’s been a very dry fall here in central NC. Fortunately, Chapel Hill has an adequate water supply, though we sure do need some good rains this winter. I’m on a well at home (for 18 years at this house), and have not had problems in other droughts (going back to 2002, it was even drier for longer). So, I’m crossing my fingers that there’s water in the ground water table, and the winter rains will recharge it.

Weekend at Stone Mountain with Troop 449

Troop 449’s monthly outing was to Stone Mountain State Park. We took a dozen scouts and 5 adults up on Saturday morning. When we got there, our campsite in the group area was still occupied, so we went over to the mountain for some climbing, rappelling, and bouldering. I took a rope up the entrance crack to the main ledge and set up a belay and a rappel. The scouts (and Bubbly!) took turns coming up the top-rope, and then rapelled back down. Loads of fun! Sunday morning, we hiked from the campground up to the top of the mountain, beautiful weather, spectacular views. Check out the slide show (requires Javascript), or just go to a directory with the pictures.

Gas pipeline broadband?

Well, I’ve been scratching my head this week trying to find something useful and interesting to catalog on these pages. It’s been a busy week, so I have not had a chance to digest many of my RSS feeds…however, I just stumbed across this fascinating article. Broadband data service (up to 100Mb, which is really broadband, not the 200Kb that the FCC claims to be broadband) over natural gas pipelines! I am really hopeful that we’ll be able to solve the last mile problem. Cable access is good (and much more available than DSL), WiMax and ethernet over power lines are promising, but the more options we have, the more price pressures to keep data rates high and monthly fees low.

Shooting clay birds!

Got out today to enjoy some of this excellent November weather. Went to Buckhorn Gun Club (off Mt. Willing Road, south of I85) for a couple of rounds of skeet. My first round was only 19/25, as I missed one from station 3 & 5, both from station 4, and a couple of others…my second round was better, 22/25, and should have been 23/25, as I missed one that I usually hit about 98% of the time. I missed the high house birds from station 3 and station 4, and the low house bird on station 8. That’s the one I usually powder. Took my “extra” shot on that one, and promptly pasted the bird.

One thing that I have to keep reminding myself is that it’s very hard to shoot in front of the bird, but quite easy to shoot behind one. Remember that your shot column is about 30 inches long when it gets to the bird. Even if you lead too much, you are likely to hit the bird with the tail of the shot column — but once behind, always behind 😉

Fuel Cell car on the road!

OK, this is highly cool…a real, working fuel cell car…read this article for information about Honda’s “real world” test of this vehicle in California…

Even if we can’t drop in to the local dealer and buy one, it’s appealing to know that the technology to do this is out there now; it’s a matter of tweaking the bugs and making it economically viable.