Quick Update...

Sorry this blog has been inactive for so long but I've been really, really busy with work, and my move to Puerto Nuevo, Mexico in northern BC. I am thinking about putting together a series of posts that detail how to set-up a data-processing stack, in PHP, for mongodb that allows you to dynamically generate all CRUD queries via the class stack.

The front-end interface, to this stack, is through RabbitMQ -- also written in PHP -- which eliminates Apache from the  LAMP stack, and no longer requires a REST interface for transferring data requests to-and-from store.

The stack includes services such as auditing, registration for public-facing requests, memcached and membase support, error-logging, and internal checks on requests that prevent things like query generation that result in full-table scans or any searches on un-indexed columns within either mongodb or mysql. (I think I still remember how to code for mysql... :) )

Anyway, this project has been all-consuming for me for the past year and the concept of generalizing the stack for instructional purposes has been rattling around in my can now, looking for a way out, for quite some time.  It's not like there's a plethora of PHP-based RabbitMQ tutorials out there either.

So, that's the happs.  Now that things are settling down a bit, I'll try to get more information out.

Thank you for checking-in!

Einstein has his own Twitter account...

I got Einstein, my Siberian Husky, my best friend for over 10-years, his own twitter account through the neatest little gizmo called: Puppy Tweets.

Puppy Tweets is a Mattel product which consists of a collar widget for your dog, which connects wirelessly to a USB dongle on either your PC or Mac. The marketing (as opposed to the reality) of Puppy Tweets is simply - when your dog initiates some sort of physical activity - moving around, barking, etc., the device fires off a tweet to the dongle which is then sent to the twitter account you created for your dog.

  • Ever wonder what your pet is doing while your away? Whenever your dog moves or barks, the Puppy Tweets™ tag detects it and sends a Tweet via Twitter. You can follow your dog's Twitter feed on your computer or smart phone all day. Puppy Tweets™ is a great way to brighten any pet owner's day!

The "Follow Me" graphic, above, is the link to my dog's twitter account: woof_einstein.  After a couple weeks of tweeting, I'm happy, and somewhat concerned, to report that he has several followers and, yesterday, his first re-tweet.

Anyway, Puppy Tweet is currently offered by Think Geek, on-sale, for $9.99.  At this price, I couldn't pass it up.  When the item arrived, I hooked the device to my windows vista box.  Configuration has the potential for being a huge pain.  To initialize the device, which ships with the battery de-installed, you have to remove the back case/cover which requires a really tiny phillips screw driver.  The reset button for the device is hidden behind this cover so, potentially, any time you need to reset the device, you're going to find yourself digging through the crap and clutter of your desk drawer looking for that little screwdriver.

(Hint:  get your Dremel out and drill a paperclip-sized hole into the back of the case over the reset-button.  The device won't be "technically" water-proof anymore, but I didn't really see a whole lot of gasketing going on anyway when I had the back cover off so, meh.  If you have a water dog, you'll want to take the device off before you send the dog into the lake, you know?)

Following the set-up instructions on the website made installation and configuration easy.  Within minutes, the device was enable, configured and tweeting!

Ok - now the reality of the device.

  • On a windows box, it was nothing but trouble.  For some reason, I kept losing the signal from the device to the dongle.  And, everytime I lost the signal, I had to reset the device.  Which means rooting around for the little phillips screwdriver again.  Which became a real pain in the ass real quick.  So, after a day of this, I deinstalled from the windows box, and installed the software on my iMac under Leopard.  Since then, there's not been a single problem with the connection.
  • The tweets are random and have nothing to do with what's happening with your dog.  Puppy Tweets says the device has a sound and motion detector, but as far as I can tell, the tweets appear to be pretty random.
  • There's no tweet that tells me when the dongle has lost-contact with the device.  This was what I had perceived as being really value-add for the device.  If the dog escaped from the back-yard, breaking the connection by range to the dongle, I was hoping the dongle would be smart enough to tweet that contact would be lost.
    • (This doesn't happen.)
    • What does happen is that you get a little dialog that pops on your desktop telling you the dongle is no longer communicating with the device.
  • The tweets are original and entertaining.  You can set-up the tweet frequency of the device to one of three settings - Einstein uses the medium tweet frequency.
    • I did notice that when I break connection to the dongle, it resets the device and I see tweetpeats (tm).

This device is fun and, for $10, is good entertainment.  My sister recently got into the tweetsphere and I loved trolling her by telling her that Einstein has 5x the followers that she has...


Dumping Me-Dot-Com...

I've been using Apple machines as my primary and preferred desktop since my cherry iMac in the early 2000's.  I then bought a cube, the 12" aluminum iBook, followed by a mac mini, then a white iMac and, today, I work off an iMac 24" I7.  I've had a iPod and iPhone since generation 1 and I acquired the first iPad when it was available. While I'm not a slavering fanboi of Apple - I still maintain that they're generally overpriced - I use Apple and their products because, well, simply, they work.  They do what you want, when you want it, and they don't interrupt your daily work flow with lots of silly, unnecessary questions or confirmations.

Well, let me revise that.  Apple, as a generality, mostly works.

One of the other things I was an early-adopter for was the .mac account, now known as the .me (or dot-me) account.  This account, for only $99/year, allows you to keep your personal data in-sync across all Apple hardware (and some PC) products.  This is the part that mostly works.

What annoys me the most about the whole .me experience is that you're paying for something which is freely offered elsewhere.  That, and the address book part of sync really doesn't work.  (If it did, there wouldn't be apps in the AppStore dedicated to cleaning out your address book.  Yes, I've bought and tried those.  They mostly work in that they manage to eradicate about 90% of the problems in my address book.  One release even went so far as to introduce new problems - but that's another story.

And the address book glitches always seem to pop-up at the worst possible time: I need to call the IT-liaison because my production server went down and address-book is now showing me the last 10-years of his phone numbers (apparently, it's really hard to get stuff perma-deleted...) displayed in a bewildering array of information.

Plus, it's really aggravating to have to part with a hundred bucks a year.  I mean, a hundred bucks a year isn't a lot, but at one time, it's pretty significant.  And, if you don't think so, let me ship you the two teenagers that are living with me right now and you can feed them for a few months, and then you can tell me what you think.

So, despite my inner-paranoia over google's predilection towards harvesting, storing and re-selling my data, I got a daily-use (as opposed to my throw-away) email account and went over to my dot-me account and set-up mail forwarding and vacation mail notices.  Which means, that if you've emailed me in the last month or so, you received an auto-response from me stating that me email address has changed - please make a note.

Snicker.  Update your address book.

This move was prompted by my new company's heavy usage of google tools.  Having tasted the kool-aid, I had no other choice but to submit, slurping down the sugary mixture by the ubergallon.

How-to's on converting your Mac-life over to Google have been done to death and won't  be repeated here.  The point is that Google mail works (and, if you've not looked at mailplane, and you're using gmail, you should!), the associated tools work - everything works.  When you combine all that with a Dropbox account, you've got the complete me-dot-com feature set.

For free.

Other than giving-up the .me domain, which I don't view as that much of a status symbol - not compared to .mac - I really don't understand the value-add prop of a dot-me account that you can't get elsewhere....


I gave up vegetarianism today after almost 10-years of not eating *any* meat, except for shellfish and fish.  No beef, chicken, pork, ostrich, yak, quail, squirrel, or even marmoset.  For a decade. So, in a nutshell, you'll probably ask: why?  (I know the step-kids are freaking-out -- they've only known me as a veggie...)

The reason is two-fold.  One, I'm going on the Modified-Atkins-Diet (and, yes, I know I can do the diet as a veggie -- the point is, I didn't want to.  And Two, the list of things in my life that I don't do is now longer than the list of things I do do.  And that, my friends and family, is bullshit.

Aristotle said it best: everything in moderation.  The key is not to go berserk over what you do, or what you choose to not do.  So, today, I started eating meat again.  (I have sausage for breakfast, fajita beef for lunch, and a steak for dinner.

Imagine - not eating a steak in 10 years and sitting down to a sirloin cooked with garlic, onions, and mushrooms. Recollecting the taste is making my mouth water now.

I'm getting to the age where I don't smoke because it's bad for my health and brain cells.  I don't drink because it's too expensive and people are, for the most part, assholes when they drink and I don't like being around assholes.  For a while, I even gave up caffeine in all forms, including coffee and soda.

I was miserable and my bloodwork looked like shyte.

I've tried the Atkins diet before and it worked really well.   The modified Atkins looks better.  I've got all the warning signs they talk about and warn against - including being on the border of having type-2 diabetes.

And then, it hit me.   If my health is getting so screwed up where I can actually be classified as "morbidly obese", where my blood-work causes me to spend nearly $100/month in pharmaceutical supplements, and my diet is not only expensive, but is bland, an inconvenience to my entire family, and has become stale and boring, then what the hell is the point spending the last 20-30 years of my life like this?

Bring on the rib-eye!   Bacon and eggs for breakfast!  W00t!  Time to live a little and get my blood-chem back into check, drop some lbs, and have some fun.  Who knows, I may even smoke a stogie every now and then....