Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween at the movies

Last week, I went to the Bengies, even though I wasn't too keen on the first 2 movies, and had seen the third movie and didn't need to see it again. But what the heck.

The week, the same first 2 movies are running, and the third movie is new. It's not on my short list, but again, it's a blast to see the big screen, particularly cartoons, trailers, and Three Stooges shorts.

So I'm going tonight, at the reduced admission entry time of 10:30, assuming my energy levels permit me to drive there. I wonder how many people will be dressed up? Looks like a beautiful starry night in store.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A month of a new (but old) dog

We've had our new greyhound for nearly a month, although he was four years old already. It's been an adjustment for all of us. Our previous 2 greys never learned or liked to climb stairs, though they could head down after a bath. This one (Cadillac) bounded up the stairs nearly on the first day, and has no trouble going up or down. He chowed down on the cat food, forcing us to feed the cats in isolation.

The cats aren't quite sure what to make of him. At first they were freaked out, but now they ignore him unless he tries to play with them. He doesn't understand they are not interested and barks at them. Hopefully he won't irritate any of them, as they have both claws and teeth. And vice versa, as I've seen him carry pillows and stuffed animals in his jaws, none too gently.

Pictures are online:

This is one of my faves:

He also figured out it was safe to climb onto the LazyBoy rocker:

I'm starting to teach him a few commands. One that greyhounds don't typically handle well is "sit" as it isn't part of their training regimen for racing. He's very strong, so pushing his back down has been a workout for me.

From spath pets

Oh, and he has a twitter identity - cadillac_dog, earning him 15 followers already (counting me).


Sunday, October 19, 2008

On the train from Dortmund to Frankfurt

Caterer up all night, going home, sits down and starts talking to me. Alcohol on his breath, but coherent even though English is not his native language. He's got a father from Iran (thought he said Paris, but he meant Persia), mother from Italy, born in Germany.

"Mein lieber Scholli!"

I got him to say Hi to Kathy (he kept asking about my "housewife") and, upon viewing, he said his hair looked bad.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Breakfast in Dortmund Germany (and lunch, and dinner)

After a personal weekend visiting southwest Germany and then a packed 4 days in Berlin, not to mention the SAP TechEd Cluetrain, I spent a few hours yesterday on the ICE (intercity express train) to Dortmund.

I just learned the train station here is one of the busiest in Germany and I believe it. It seemed more crowded and faster paced than any of the other (5?) stations I've been through.

There was also a lively crowd outside, such as food vendors, flower carts, and more than a few teen-aged citizens in black punk uniforms.

After a tasty dinner last night I was able to get online, joining Craig Cmehil and a few others for a time-lapsed Friday morning report (got the heads up on twitter). Even learned that Gregor had passed through Dormund Friday, as had Craig.

I walked the 'ring' streets going anti-clockwise from Konigswall to Hoher Wall to Hiltropwall to Sudwall to Ostwall, then Schwanenwall and finally on Burgwall to the hotel. Today I plan to explore the ring center with museums and churches and end up outside it in Kreuzviertel.

American hotels take note - this is just part of a Continental breakfast!

(update - lunch and dinner photos)

A turkey kabob omelet:

Salad with fried potatoes and fried eggs, with house red.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Water use in SAP TechEd

Someone mentioned there weren't giveaway reusable water bottles in Berlin, as there were for SAP TechEd 2008 in Las Vegas, and Tom Raftery noted the use of imported French bottled water to brew coffee in Berlin. Not to mention the vow to not print daily hand-outs that seemed to have been bypassed somewhere in the management chain.

There were conflicting water sources.

"Every Picture Tells A Story Don't It?"

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Steve Winwood's Keyboards

Here's me standing in front of the stage at SAP TechEd 08 before Steve Winwood and his band went onstage.

Thanks to the anonymous photographer who shot me.

Two more days in Berlin...

Link to Gregor's photo of me trying to whistle.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Drinking water at SAP TechEd EMEA 08

Unlike the SAP TechEd 08 Las Vegas and the ASUG Operations Optimization conference in Nashville where individual water bottles were not given away for free, the TechEd 08
Berlin conference has soda and water coolers. Needless to say, I'm not drinking their water - I filled up my water bottle at the hotel.

The good side of this story is the availability of recycling containers, particularly one as evident as this one.

(Part 2)

Here's a shot in my hotel room, with the 7 Euro water bottle (it's a glass container), and my cheapo plastic reusable one.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

In Germany, on the road to Berlin, day 2

Went to Freiburg Germany today.

Started in Baden-Baden, where I could have rented a bike. I think

Stopped a "Peace" table after getting off the train and walking around a bit. "NEIN Zum Krieg" says the sticker from

Hiked up a hill. Took this on the way back:

Lunch - some kind of broccoli thing and a coffee to go.

[okay, found this one partly written then abandoned, so turning it loose as is and moving on]

In Germany, on the road to Berlin, day 1

Arrived early, train to Bühl was 20 minutes late. Had a little sleep on the plane. The train ride was nice, but windows were dirty and I was looking into the dawn so no sharp images of Germany country-side other than sharp contrasts between city and farmland. Very creative graffiti as you would see on East Coast rail corridors. I guess Berlin would be more intense.

Saw this young lady on my several hour walk through the town of Bühl. Despite the crack in her head she seems to be enjoying the weather(ing). With a plate of cookies.

This statue is near the town center park (Stadigarten). Babelfish suggests "the homeland our victims" for "der heimat unser opfer." But a better translation might be "only the good die young."

Doesn't work(?):

The town had a jazz festival on my trip weekend, so I made an effort to find a little music. The show last night was held in a old school building converted to apartments. The band played some Louis Armstrong and Ray Charles type jazz. It was quite like being home, but for the crowd speaking German. I hung out in the alley, as the admission was 24 Euros, and I was too tired to spend several hours, much as I might have liked.

On the way back to where I'm staying I spotted a battery carcass in the space between the gutter and the cobblestone street. I didn't have my camera for an in situ photo, so here's one after retrieval.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Packed up for the road and rails

Here's the final result of my planning and packing. The checked expedition pack weighed 28 pounds at the airine counter. But, I didn't think about weighing my day pack, which is probably half that.

Everything fit into 1 unit, including 2 empty water bottles. We shall see how heavy it gets after the conference check-in is over. I know I don't need another daypack but expect those will be given out.

Sent from my Windows Mobile® phone.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A different kind of router

This shows my current hardware project, making signs as thank you notes for participants in one of our Scouts' Eagle project.

Not the Cisco kind of router, this one is made at Black & Decker, where I work.

I don't know what the inscription is supposed to say as my email account is down.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

New clue train on track 5

SAP's blogs only allow 500x700 maximum size, so even though this image is but a mere 14KB, I can't use it on their site. It only allowed up to only 400x600 earlier this year, I think.

Get it, Clue Train?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Printer CPR

Our printer has been on the waiting list for service or the junk yard for several months. It broke before June when our son got home from, and then went back to college in September, taking his working printer with him. We've had the Canon Pixma ip4200 only a year or so, after having an earlier inkjet Canon printer before that. Decent print quality, decent speed, just the usual gripes about ink costing too much and not lasting long enough.

The ip4200 has the ability to print double-sided without the traditional take-out-and-flip-over style. Not intended for huge volumes, which Kathy seems to generate at times.

The problem was "Error code 6A00" which pops up with 2 choices - turn off/on, or send out for service. The first choice didn't work, and the latter was unpalatable.

Searching the internet showed 2 threads: - "Canon PIXMA MP800 Error 6A00"

and - "canon Pixma ip4000 error - 6A00"

And a photo series:

Both go back 2 years, with plenty of wailing, gnashing of teeth and occasional victory W00Ts.

Our model is the iP4200, but the internal print head and ink handling seem identical to the other stories.

Photo 1 is the location of 2 the 4 tabs I eventually found to remove the top cover. Some folks have managed to repair theirs without doing this (but not me).

After taking it off and putting it back on a few times, I was getting better at it. First, push in the tabs along the back side, prying up that edge of the case. Then, push in each side, pulling upwards on the opening crack shown. I never found an easy way to remove the front edge, so I have no useful advice there.

One poster said to remove the small front corner covers first. I think that's the right way to go, as you will see below.

The next photo shows the inside of the printer. The printhead/ink trolley has been pushed to the far left side. The problem area is on the opposite side from that trolley -- follow down the black ribbed area to 2 small gray rectangles. They are the pads/sponges/wipes that, if not functional, seem to cause the 6A00 error codes. Anything else in the path of that trolley will also cause a fault, from what I've read.

I know that our printer seemed to take longer and longer to start over the weeks and months prior to the startup fault, but there is no helpful early warning diagnostic (like an oil change light).

You probably can't see it very well, but I caused a problem in the right front panel getting the thing off, probably on the first try. Be cautious with that module, as the ribbon cable looks like cellophane tape, and the 2 protruding micro-switches are similarly on the thin side.

The next photo shows the "wiper blade" being depressed. I was getting a mite frustrated at that point, myself, but I pressed on (so to speak). Directly below the ball-point pen, on a slight angle to the left, is a black line. That's ink on the wiper blade. I thought the white dot at the end of that black line was a small piece of paper stuck inside, but that is the actual color of the blade.

I took paper towels moistened with window cleaner (advice from the above lists) and blotted all the ink off the wiper. I also re-positioned the left pad (the pads are between the pen and the spring).

After more re-tries than I'd like to admit, the yellow blinking light with the 6A00 code pop-up window finally went away! Wahoo! ... Almost.

After trying to get a sample page to print, I got a new error pop-up window that said, "Open the paper tray door." Uh-oh. It was open. This led me to realize I had either not reassembled the printer correctly, or more likely, I broke a tab and/or switch disassembling it.

The next photo shows the control panel, with 2 switches circled. The left switch is broken; the right one is whole. I never did find where that tiny piece of plastic toggle went, but its absence was signaling that the barn door was closed.

Here's my fix. After thinking that the switch could be replaced, I realized it's pretty easy to see if the door is open or not, and open it before printing. So I grabbed a piece of wire (left over from my grandfather's days with Western Electric, probably circa 1960), and shorted the switch.

Success, at least for a test print.

The volume test will be Kathy's next writing assignment.

Maybe I can order a micro-switch in the meantime.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Door fixer

The folks at Hodges Tru-Value Hardware on Middle River Road are always helpful, (literally) bailing me out of a variety of home-owner situations. The most recent was today, when I needed to replace our storm door handle. I've needed to replace it for a while, but a new dog in the house finally motivated me.

I picked up what I thought would fit, but they gave me 2 other door handles, one brass, and one plain black, that would drop into the holes. The old handle just kind of fell apart, with the tongue dropping on the ground one day.

I dragged out a few



The top left shot shows the temporary handle - a short piece of rope.
The other top row shots are the basic tools. I almost got away with just a screwdriver, but the new shaft was larger than the old one, so I drilled out the hole.
The aluminum in door left a few rough edges, so I filed them down.
The middle left picture shows the larger hole, although the metal shards are not visible.
Middle picture is the new handle, not quite tightened down.

Middle right picture shows the new handle in place, though the odd curvature to the door is an artifact of the inadequate cell phone camera lens.

The bottom shot is a bit farther back, so the foreshortening is gone.


SharePoint? - give me a break!

What is going on here?

At work we are moving to SharePoint, rather than innumerable other possible enterprise portal and collaboration/knowledge management tools. So I'm trying to learn by doing. Not reading the manual or listening to someone who's been using it for a few weeks linger than I. After all, my software motto is "it should just work."

Here's what the bog editor screen looks like. The HTML link editor is nearly as bad, not allowing you to write plain HTML. Gee, even FrontPage let you pick your own editor (ahem, Emacs on NT).

Size of the above image screen shot of my desktop is 1024x718. Big screen, tiny workspace where I can actually get things done.

Here's the screen shot with the actual working space cropped. This image is an astoundingly tiny 393x220 pixels. I think my phone screen is bigger than that. Who does quality control or user experience on this stuff?

If there's a zoom button, I haven't found it yet. This is like writing wearing handcuffs. I will keep looking for a way to just drop plain text from my Emacs sessions into the repository with the least amount of clicking, zooming, and dragging. Yeeesh, what a drag.