Thursday, August 20, 2009

Motivational/Demotivational Poster

1st draft of a motivational poster thought up by the Alabamian when we were getting ice cream from an automated vending machine one day. When we use this particular machine (not pictured below unfortunately), there's always an inherent fear that sucker tube that picks up the ice cream out of the freezer will drop the ice cream. At the same time it feels like you're using the force to get the ice cream. Hence the poster.

Credit: Alan

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Free Online Backup Review - Mozy MozyHome

A while back in my Ultimate Backup Solution post I mentioned that cloud (online) backups services were notorious for being too slow for any appreciable amount of data and, due to the service fees, too expensive relative to other backup alternatives.

A friend of mine soon after referred me to a service called Mozy Backup. Strange enough name, but hold on, they're advertising 2GB backups for FREE? Sounds too good to be true. 2GB isn't that much space, but if you were to distill all of your digital files, removing pictures and movies, leaving just the bare essentials like financial documents, it will definitely be under 2GB. Sure enough, mine weighed in at about 1.3GB. More than most I'm sure, but I'm a digital pack rat.


1. Visit Mozy and create a free account.
2. Download and install MozyHome
3. Select what folders you want to back up and configure other settings like frequency, what happens if a file is deleted etc.
4. Do nothing

The MozyHome desktop program makes it completely effortless to do backups as frequent as you want. If you only take advantage of the free 2GBs, it becomes a perfect application for backing up your temporary work/project directory where critical, in-progress things are stored that have yet to be archived because they're currently being worked on. Accidentally delete a file, find it corrupt, have a drive die... Mozy to the rescue!

The initial manual backup that I conducted, where all of my files had to be transfered, took a decent amount of time, but relatively short by industry standards. I was particularly impressed with the fact that I didn't notice performance glitches in other programs while Mozy was doing its thing. After the initial backup, when few or no files changed the checkup process was extremely quick sometimes less than a minute. Just for curiosity sake I added a few PDF files to my folder and observed the slight increase in backup time. Below are some raw numbers for you to crunch.

Test Data
8/8/09 Manual Backup 1.3GB 01:33:22 935 files transferred
8/9/09 Automatic Backup 00:00:35 0 files transferred
8/10/09 Automatic Backup 00:02:30 0 files transferred
8/15/09 Automatic Backup 3.3MB 00:02:11 12 files transferred
8/16/09 Automatic Backup 00:00:40 0 files transferred
Overall I think Mozy turned out to be a great find. I was unimpressed with online backup services in past but Mozy seems promising. I think one of the most attractive things about the service beyond the 2GB is the very simple and cheap pricing of $4.95/month!!! That's not a lot of pocket change for peace of mind with your digital life. I think my 68GB of pictures is a perfect candidate to start with!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Funny Saying from an Alabamian - Take 2

Alabamian: "are you still there?"
Chad: "yes, i'm trying to comprehend what you are saying"
Alabamian: "or are you simply enjoying my ramblings"
Chad: "it's not working"
Alabamian: "it never does or will"
Alabamian: "it's like watching a dog take a poop"
Chad: "..."

"btw what the crap is section modulus!?!"

"tell the excel add-in to kiss my butt
I just wrote an m file to do it for me."

"so Adam will implode under this rule?"

6/27/08 to 3/23/09

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Funny Sayings from an Alabamian

"Jedi may come and go, but R2D2 will last forever"

Comic Strip:
Scene 1: Donkey recieves gifts/investments/loans from a China figure
Scene 2: Donkey distributes said gifts to poor, children, women etc
Scene 3: China taps Donkey on the shoulder wanting return on gifts but Donkey points to people he has given it to.

"Automation - Simply every engineer's dream to know the force"

"Periodic cycling adventures could occur. Meet in the Adirondacks, and kill each other type of things. God loves epic days."

"Just wanted to let you know that I've been aloting 8% of my paycheck into an investment that will give me a -100% return. It's called Social Security and Medicare."

"I don't enjoy the precense of other people who want me do to thier work for them."

Chad: "you realize how many of our conversations are probably overflow from your own convo with yourself?"

Through 3/23/09

DIY: Build Your Own Fire Pit

Last year my grandma (Meme) finally took the plunge and decided she wanted a fire pit. I offered to do all of the research and planning and my brother volunteered to help dig because that involved him driving the 4x4 to haul dirt. Whatever works right? There weren't many examples or resources to go off of so we used our neighbors as a example and winged it. I think it turned out pretty well so I'm documenting it in the hopes of helping someone else.

4-6 man hours
Wheel barrow (optional)
Rake (optional)
Sand ~3-5 50lb bags of sand depending on the fire pit size
Decorative rocks for the outer ring
Piping for stoking the fire (optional)

1. Location

Arguably the most important step in the fire pit creation process is choosing the perfect spot. This was pretty easy for us because we have had cookouts my entire life in the same location. Before the fire pit we used a cutoff bottom of a 55 gallon drum to contain the fire. We ended up moving the center of the pit by about 6 feet in from the shore so that we could put chairs around the full 360 degrees of the fire. This was important to get the maximum number of people around the fire.

2. Sizing
To correctly size and locate the fire pit we placed rocks out in a circle to simulate the edge of the fire pit. We then lined the circle with lawn chairs and anything else to complete the ensemble. We ended up increasing the diameter of our fire pit by 2' to allow plenty of separation from the fire to the edge of the pit and the rocks and grass. This ended up being a wise decision because we can actually pull our chairs up close and put our feet in the warm sand.

3. Dig
Take a spade and inscribe a circle in the placeholder rocks. Remove the top layer of sod from your circle and take it somewhere that needs it (I'm sure you have a spot). Then start digging a bowl shaped hole. We ended up making the center around 2.5' deep and then gradually coming up to ground level at the edge of the circle. Remember there's going to be a layer of sand on top of this so keep the edge of the circle vertical for a few inches.

We also had a little helper name Riley!

4. Piping
We chose to incorporate a ventilation idea that my brother came up with. We have some old 2' sections of 6" diameter ceramic tile laying around that were used for septic laterals back in the day. They've been out of the ground for years and are assumed to be sterile :). After we finished digging the main pit we dug a channel for the pipe to fit in. We put one section of it basically horizontal with the end about 6" offset from the center of the fire pit and slightly protruding from the sand. We then cut angles on the end of that and the beginning of the next piece. This allowed us to place the second at an angle so it protruded out from the ground about 6" outside of the fire pit. Using this we can blow or use a billows to stoke the fire from a distance.

5. Sand
Make sure to pack the dirt by stepping on it or using a shovel so that it doesn't mix easily with the sand. We then put a 3-4" layer of sand in the fire pit. We used a rake to even it out and make it nice and smooth.

6. Rocks
For the finishing touch add some decent sized rocks to cover fire pit circle where it transitions from sand to dirt/grass. We didn't have large enough rocks so we ended up using a couple layers to get the effect we wanted. If you can, make sure to choose rocks that haven't been in the water. The rocks can absorb water that can flash boil when exposed to enough heat, causing the rock to explode.

7. Enjoy

Silly Form Questions - Pistol License

I'm trying to apply for a license for a pistol. The catch is in New York State, unlike other God fearing states, you need to have a permit to even purchase the pistol!

One of the questions on the form reads: "A license is required for the following reason:" This doesn't really make sense to me. I would think the reasons are implied for puchasing a handgun.
  1. Protection - I want to shoot some person who is attacking me
  2. Fun - I want to shoot some animal to eat or stuff

Case closed. Either, don't ask dumb questions or put check boxes for above choices.