Friday, November 23, 2007


This was a week for reconnecting. First, Lorraine and I went to sheva brachot for my stepfather's grandson Ariel. It was in Queens, so we got to see a lot of Queens people we haven't seen in awhile. Usually, I get to say hello around the Yomim Noraim, when I go to my Mom's for Rosh HaShanah, but this year we went to my in-law's instead. It was especially nice for me because I think the world of the families that I know from Queens. In addition to being sterling individuals, all, they were there for myself and my family during some dark times after my father's passing.

Moving on To Thanksgiving. I got to spend time with my only Aunt and only set of first cousins. I also have not seen them for quite some time and it was nice to watch all the kids -second cousins- play together. Did I mention that the turkey with all the trimmings and mulled wine were superb? Well, they were. After dinner, we watched home movies DVD's and had dessert. Then it was time to stroll down the block (from my aunt) to one of my closest friend's to say hello and see his baby boy. We haven't seen baby Daniel since his bris, so that was a special treat too. He's a real cutie. The only disappointing note was not being able to spend time with the Millers and Bodeks as originally planned back home in Passaic. Overall, this was a Thanksgiving week for the books. Good family, good friends, good food...


Monday, November 19, 2007


Find out our neighborhood's "Walk Score" with (Hat Tip: Joel)

An Army engineer radically improves IED detection using drones by gaming the system in virtual worlds. (Hat Tip: Blackfive)

Just finished watching Orange County on Netflix on-demand. Great movie. Starring the progeny of two great actors: Colin Hanks (Tom Hanks' son) and Schuyler Fisk (Sissy Spacek's daughter.) Recommended

Sunday, November 18, 2007


If you grew up schooled on Ernie's classic Rubber Ducky song (Rubber Ducky, you're the one! Squeak! Squeak!) Be forewarned that there's a new Rubber Duck song for the next generation. Yes, Ernie has a new Rubber Ducky standard, the Reggae-ish Do De Rubber Duck. It's catchy.

Tracy Jordan's (30 Rock character) Werewolf Bar Mitzvah is one of those sitcom songs that should inspire a real, full-length video.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Saturday Night Live this season has been lackluster, to say the least. Every time I'm about to give up on the show, though, they manage to pull a rabbit out of a hat. Last season, Peyton Manning hosted a great show, including this gem of a sketch. His "PSA" was also talked about quite a bit. This weekend, Brian Williams unexpectadly hosted a great show. From the opening sketch of Hillary's Halloween party with a cameo by the real Barack Obama, to a strong monologue and some real good understated performances by Mr. Williams as a firefighter on Bronx Beat" and a somnolent Publisher's Clearinghouse winner, this one's a keeper. I don't know why, but it's always the guests you least expect to have a funny bone that end up raising the bar on that show. Sadly, SNL still remains on life support.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Robert Duvall played Boo Radley in the 1962 Gregory Peck, Harper Lee classic To Kill A Mockingbird. It was Duvall's first role on the silver screen. I loved that movie for many reasons, my favorite being Peck's Atticus' use of the word "temerity" in one of his court tirades. Try sneaking a word like that into today's mass-market cinematic fare and just watch the ensuing glassy-eyed, blank stares.

Until the next time my fancy is struck...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


I feel like the alma mater scene at the end of Dirty Dancing, when staff and guests of Kellerman's sing the hotel's farewell song. Summer's over folks, it's been great. Ready or not. Here comes the chagim, school, jackets and real life. Where to begin:

  1. We MOVED! My sister and brother in law and family decided to live in Israel on a trial basis, so we're housesitting the manse until they decide where to live. This could take awhile.
  2. My back went out and suddenly I felt every inch my thirty-five years. Thankfully, it seems to be recovering rapidly and with some preemptive stretching exercises should be fine.
  3. My oldest had her first day of school. Playgroup, really, but it was a momentous occasion for Mother and Father. Said daughter took it all in stride and enjoyed every minute of her first day. (Sniff, how soon they grow!)
  4. I assisted in launching my synagogue's online lecture and study website. Users can click in to listen or download lectures on various Torah topics. I'm hoping for some major heavenly brownie points for this one.
  5. I (re)wrote the bulk of a major bank's retail money wire application.  When it goes live, it will be the most highly trafficked application I've written in at least ten years.
  6. My good friend Kat got engaged!
  7. THIS JUST IN TO THE WTF DEPARTMENT: German terror plotters were collecting unemployment benefits while their main occupation was the (terror) plot.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007


This article in BusinessWeek about unsafe tires made in China is sobering. In the wake of storiesW about unsafe foodstuffs and chemicals sourced from the Chinese mainland, this tire story indicates a trend. So my advice is: Know the country of origin of consumables you buy that may impact the safety or well being of you and yours. It appears that the basics of quality control and civic responsibility are severely lacking in China and you should factor this into account when shopping on price for your purchases.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


If you're a programming nerd, this essay on abject-oriented programming is hilarious. (Hat tip: Ned.) Joel's review of some management tomes, has me seriously considering going out and buying some.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I just noticed that you can make your tagged categories available as a feed from Google Reader. I'm so happy I switched to Reader from Sage awhile back as my primary RSS experience. Google constantly adds interesting new features that enhance the recombinant nature of feed consumption in ways that are useful to me. I just discovered a new aerospace related blog that I added to the feed this morning: Jetwhine. Oh yeah, here's the link to my auto--aero tagged feeds.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I love airplanes. This scoop on the soon-to-be-revealed very first Boeing 787 Dreamliner -mark the calendar, July 8, 2007 (7-8-7, get it?)- has me pretty excited. The 787 is the first commercial jet who's primary structure is composite (read: plastic) which, due to its of its being stronger and lighter than the alloys mostly used until now, will result in increased cabin pressure and comfort and larger windows. Yay!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


In the course of my current work, I stumbled upon Drupal. I've heard of Drupal in the past -it's the open source content management system (CMS, for short) that powers thousands of web sites. Some of the biggies use it, like slashdot. The beauty of a CMS is that it takes the drudgery of building a website out of your hands. Content creation, categorization and relationships are baked into the product. Additionally, and most importantly Drupal has a large and vibrant ecosystem of users and developers that contribute to the project and user community. Drupal is written on top of the so-called AMP stack (Apache webserver, MySQL relational database, PHP programming language) -commonly referred to as LAMP (Add Linux at the front.) Its architecture is one of the reasons that historically I've not paid much attention to it. I've only recently caved and started to develop in PHP in response to some new clients' needs. While my gripes about the encapsulation and interoperability of this development toolset remain, I can't help but be impressed by the massive amount of "plain 'ole it just works" products out there that have been developed with this stuff. It's not an exaggeration to say that possibly the largest single chunk of web faff out there is deployed using LAMP.

But I digress. Drupal is what has me jizzed at the moment. All three new clients I've taken on have unique requirements that can be relatively easily met with Drupal and some additional modules. My favorite module  so far has been the Audio module, which snapped in to a Drupal installation like a dream and provided instant podcasting support for my local synagogue. The most powerful and far-reaching modules I've encountered so far are the view module, which provides custom and themeable views and the CCK module, which is a powerful extension for adding custom fields to Drupal content types, or nodes, in Drupal parlance. Yes, they have a parlance. The user community is rabid in its devotion to this. I've been immersed in Drupal for almost two weeks now and have learned a lot from two podcasts in particular. The Geeks & God podcast on Podcasting with Drupal pointed me to the solution I'm using at one site. The Lullabot podcast is pretty much the bees knees on Drupal podcasting, AFAIK. It seems that the Lullabot crew are also quite definitive in all their Drupal work. I've been having trouble setting up a proper Drupal development including remote debugging, but this tutorial on the IBM website (of all places!) may address that problem. To paraphrase the Sony exec interviewed in Lullabot podcast 39: "It seemed like the Drupal community was a cult. My experience has been that with technology cults are a good thing." So there you have it, I've joined a cult! Feel the Love. Peace Out.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Apparently my early childhood penchant for trudging out the door with a suitcase or briefcase and "going to Florida" has been inherited by my oldest. Yesterday morning, she insisted on taking her suitcase with her on our walk. So cute. So genetic memory isn't just a plot point on Stargate SG-1 (geek alert.)

NOTES KILLER? Is Google Gears a potential competitor to Lotus Notes in the offline space? Probably not, at least in the near term, although it could be if used properly by savvy developers. I'm reminded of DOLS, a Lotus offering that provides a similar functionality. DOLS has more industrial-grade support for security and application development than Gears probably has -at least at this point in time. DOLS is a huge, hairy download, though. Gears seems to be elegantly simple and lightweight, like most Google ideas

STIIL TRUCKIN' I'm writing this post using Windows Live Writer. WLW is he first rich client app I've been comfortable using tor blogging since the late, great Sauce Reader. Blogger's Blogger for Word add-in is unacceptable to me as it keeps Word's proprietary style information in the uploaded HTML, which I hate strongly dislike.

CORRECTION. My sister Bena says I would go to California, not Florida. I was too young to remember the details myself.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Apple announced today that their Safari web browser is now available for Windows. I downloaded and played with it and it is shiny, new, cool and slick. I like the font rendering better than Firefox and by enjoyed using it -which is more than I could ever say from similar five minute test drives of several versions of the Opera web browser. The overriding question I have though, is why? Unless there's a content play in the future that's tied to Safari -which would arouse the ire of the standards-loving web development community that adores Apple- I don't quite see the point. Verdict: stick to Firefox for Windows unless and until a compelling reason for Safari emerges.

CREATURE COMFORTS. If you're not familiar with Nick Park's classic claymation series that ran in England in the '80's called Creature Comforts, today's your lucky day. An updated version of the series, which interviews people all across America on slice of life issues and sets the sesions to claymation animals is now running on CBS. Watch the episode for free online from or look up classic sketches (set in the London Zoo) on Youtube or AtomFilms for a truly hilarious diversion.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


It occurred to me over this weekend that all Apple needs to do to assure the continued success of its MacOS operating system is to stay one step ahead of Linux. That's all. This strategy assures Apple the undying affection of the geek crowd while making its own roadmap amazingly simple: Just build and improve upon the current system and keep the *NIX core (in Apple's case, open-source BSD) current. This keeps a lid on the core OS investment Apple needs to make as opposed to, say, Microsoft, which needs a veritable army of developers to maintain the monolithic Windows code-base. The added advantage of Apple's strategy is that the core OS decisions have already been vetted by the community keepers of the *NIX/BSD flame. Simple!

I have another post in the works on the shadow that Steve Jobs casts over any industry tangentially connected to high technology and how much of his aura may actually be riding on the upcoming Apple iPhone release. This ties in to my old ideas regarding Religion 2.0 that were dredged up during a conversation Friday night with Mennu. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Lorraine & I watched Fun with Dick and Jane last night. The recent Jim Carrey Tea Leoni one. At first I found Tea annoying, but -as she often does- she gets under your skin as the movie progresses and it soon became apparent how good of a pairing Ms. Leoni is with Jim Carrey. I remember when I first came across Tea Leoni as Alicia on Flying Blind, an early, short lived, Fox Sitcom that I liked. Incidentally, Clea Lewis, who just resurfaced on my radar on Andy Barker, PI, was a hilarious player in that show as well. There is a funny scene in the DVD's gag reel of Jim Carrey putting some flour on his moustache area and pretending to ask partygoers in his (empty) kitchen if he can get anything for them. Also, Tea Leoni makes up a name of Mrs. Vegetabooth while engaging in a heist at the end of the movie that struck me as the best made-up-on-the-spot name I can recall ever hearing.

WRITTEN WITH Windows Live Writer. A blog posting tool compatible with most poupar blogging services. This is my first post with WLV, it seems promising, but a bit sluggish. The plugin possibilities seem intriguing, though.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


All right, we get it already! Star Wars blends a lot of mythological elements into its narrative tapestry. How many times does the Flanneled One need to bang this over our heads?

Monday, May 28, 2007


This morning I brought my big brother to the in-laws to get some casting in on the lake near their house. So big bro finally landed the big one. After many years of casting about in the Catskills trying to land a Bass he finally got one. A whopper. Hemingway-esque. Click here and bask in the glory.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


At the recommendation of a local Petco employee who claimed to have worked at a shelter, I gave the bunny I took in (see prev. post) some Pedialyte to get hydrated (he was quite moribund when I first took him) and puppy formula (instead of the recommended KMR.) I fed him through an eyedropper and he perked up and became more animated throughout the day. Friday evening, though, I noticed what was presumably the mother hanging around the remains of the burrow, so I put the little guy back. It's been two days and still no sign of him -which I'm taking to be a good thing. The mother was back again in the area last evening as well, so I'm assuming that the little guy is hiding somewhere in the tall grass around my house. I have a slight dilemma as I'm debating whether to ask my landlord to get the overdue gardener to mow the lawn for Memorial Day or to just let what very well may be my erstwhile charge's hideout continue to provide him shelter.

TOPIC CHANGE: This NYTimes magazine article on Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen is amusing. I'm always fascinated by comedians (or comedic writers) and their art. I wonder what Seth's career arc will look like ten years from know. It seems to me that he's pretty much Judd's alter-ego at the moment -much the way George Costanza was Larry David's. Seth is much younger that Jason Alexander was when he took on that famous persona, though. Will he morph into a screen presence in his own right? Will he transition more towards a writing/behind the scenes career? (much the way Harold Ramis -Ghostbusters' Spangler- developed? Only time will tell.

Friday, May 25, 2007


A wild rabbit had a litter on my neighbor's lawn sometime in the past week. I checked up on the little fuzzballs this morning and only one little guy is alive, the rest seemed to have passed in the night. So now I have a teeny tiny little rabbit snuggling in an old towel in my office waiting for me to get some Kitten Milk Replacement from the local Petco as soon as it opens. He probably won't live through the day, though. If he had a Hebrew name to pray for I guess it would be "Chayim Bugs ben/ (bas?) Plonis."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I finally got the baby Panda Oranda I've been searching for all those years. He's from a local Petco, and he looks a little beat-up, but he swims fine. I've got the little guy in quarantine for the next week or two. You can't be too safe with new fishies -especially ones from chains stores like Petco. I've bought Typhoid Marys before that have killed of entire tanks and I'm not getting burned again. So here's to hoping that the new dude sticks around for awhile!


I‘ve always been interested in Aerospace. The X-Prize -a contest for being the first private entity to get into space repeatedly has been won awhile back and has spawned -among others- Virgin Galactic, a spacefaring airline, scheduled to start service soon. The real player to watch these days, though, is Elon Musk and his SpaceX. Elon made his fortune on the internetby cofounding eBay, among other things. SpaceX is set to achieve real orbital space service for man and machine within the next two years at a fraction of the cost of what Uncle Sam pays. According to Elon, the revolution needed for affordable space transport isn't technological, rather it's in the management and cost control of the spacefaring entity. (NASA's chasing the myth of the next great technological leap into low-cost access for the last quarter-century or so having been a collossal wast of money, read: Space Shuttle and the aborted VentureStar spaceplane.) NASA is -finally- starting to understand this, and awarded some contractors funds for its COTS (Commercial Orbital Transportational Services) initiative -SpaceX among them. NASA is , however, hedging its bets by developing the Ares family of low(er) cost vehicles to take over for the Space Shuttle when it’s retired in 2010. My money is on the development process for the Ares to be so drawn out by budget issues, however, that COTS-like services supplied by companies such as SpaceX, Armadillo, and Blue Origin should be the operating norm by the time the first Ares vehicles begin service sometime in the middle of the next decade. I keep updated on the new field of low cost commercial aerospace through (in no particular order):

Monday, May 21, 2007


If you're a developer, this performance benchmark is sobering. I know I'm way behind on the curve, what with my 1.6 GhZ Pentium M and 2 Gigs of RAM.


I used to switch templates quite frequently but abandoned the practice awhile back. I figure those in the know "get me" through RSS anyways. Anyways, I switched to "Tequila" by Bright Creative (a standard offering on I figure it's appropriate for the season. Waddya think?

Sunday, May 20, 2007


A long while back, I wrote about buying the components for making a homebrew Personal Video Recorder (PVR.) I subsequently decided that I no longer required such a device and went with a PVR that my cable company offered. This practice continued in my new abode with my new provider, Cablevision. Late last year, though, I realized that my viewing habits rarely entailed surfing channels above the standard cable spectrum. Aside from the Channel Formerly Known as Discovery Wings (the Military Channel) and some cooking and grilling shows on Discovery Home, basic cable provided for all my viewing needs. Of course, dumbing down to basic meant no PVR service (digital only.) So I returned the company PVR, went with basic (at an aggregate $29/mo. savings) and revived my old PVR project. I boutht a Hauppauge Tuner card/w remote and finally got the EPIA machine working with Ubuntu Linux and MythTV (excellent HowTo's here) All was well for several months. Some caveats that would later come back to haunt me: The EPIA wasn't 100% stable and would freeze up every now and then. Also, the nifty case was extremely compact and had cooling issues. I no doubt compounded the problem by shoving the noisy little beastie in an enclosed cabinet (all that needed to poke out was the remote's IR receiver, which I velcroed to the TV.) Eventually, the machine died, and I was stuck without any way to serve up Barney videos to the kiddies. (This is a BIG issue.) Luckily, the 80 gig hard drive was fine and I was able to hook it up to a discarded 350 MhZ Dell my brother-in-law graciously donated to my cause and retrieve a bunch of Barney shows -especially the critical "It's Your Birthday Barney!" episode. You have no idea how important that one is to my oldest. Once I rescued some important files, I rebuilt the PVR system on the Dell. It went much quicker the second time around once I was familiar with Ubuntu and MythTV. The trickiest parts are the remote configuration and getting the tuner to display the menus on the TV (not just the TV-out.) Once that was set I have a much quieter and more stable system that the EPIA ever was. Ironically, the Dell is -on paper at least- less powerful than the EPIA, but most of the heavy computing tasks (MPEG encoding and decoding for watching TV) are handled in hardware by the tuner card anyways. So now the Barney Machine is back in business and we have a seemingly inexhaustible supply of shiny happy episodes to feed my kids. Happy days are here again.

My other big "project" has been supplementing my Lotus Notes workflow skillset with Java Server Faces know-how. I have made great progress in this area in the past few weeks. Suffice it to say, a great many tasks that are simple as pie using Lotus Notes are not as trivial -at least at first stab- using other toolkits such as JSF. I have -happily- finally gotten over a critical hump in being able to assemble a basic functional toolkit and establishing a workable mindset to be able to problem solve solution sets using the new (to me, at least) meme. I plan to test the waters with an application I developed using NetBeans Visual Web Pack (data persistence and security provided by MySQL and OpenLDAP respectively) and possibly collecting enough notes and tips to develop a seminar or book title tentatively called "JSF Scenarios." Subtitle: "Giving the groupware developer the tools to provide solutions using the Java Server Faces standard." Sub-sub-title: "JSF for Notes developers."

My friend and "blog sister" Wendy is running for a cause. Help her out!

Friday, May 18, 2007


Lorraine just gave me my Fathers' Day gift a few weeks early. See if you can spot what's so special about them...

My wife rocks.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Wife & I just finished The Departed (De-paah-ted.) When did Alec Baldwin become comic relief? (30 Rock notwithstanding.)

Is Cousin Riff the Barney franchise's Jump-the Shark moment? His introduction was carried out in a textbook Itchy & Scratchy & Pootchie style.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Professor Who Helped Students Escape Among Those Killed. Liviu Librescu, a 76 year old Israeli Holocaust survivor and guest lecturer at Virgina Tech sacrificed himself to save his students. May his memory be a blessing.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Haven't been able to complete a post in over a month. About 4 unfinished blog posts litter my blogger account. One day I'll get my mojo back and start writing again. Meanwhile, this is funny. (hat tip: Jeremy)

Friday, February 02, 2007


New York Times article: An Afghan’s Path From Ally of U.S. to Drug Suspect. I know I watched a Law & Order episode about this a year ago.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


I'm hooked on a soap opera. It's not what you think, though. My daughter (she's 2) and I watch Meerkat Manor on Animal Planet. It's the real story of a family of meerkats living on the edge of the Kalahari in Africa. Meerkats have a matriachical social structure and have family (intra as well as inter) issues worthy of the Sopranos. As an added bonus the show is narrated by Samwise Gamgee.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


This week was the annual Lotusphere confab in Orlando. For those who operate in the IBM/Lotus orbit (as I often do) Lotusphere is the event to go to. It’s hard to believe that the last time I attended was 10 years ago. I had a blast then. By all accounts Lotusphere is a fantastic show. It combines exhibitors with product evangelization and real education. Partly based upon my experiences at Lotus tradeshows, my friend Steve and I came up with the idea for Religion 2.0. It was to be a wholly open-sourced religion with pay to play strategies and certification exams. Religion 2.0 also had a supplemental package, whereby one could subscribe/ascribe to "R2.0" in conjunction with his/her existing religion. Play nice, we always maintained. Additionally, Religion 2.0 would lay its profit motives out for all to see, thus removing the stain of corruption from the narrative (as it exists in other organized religions.) Alas, we got bogged down on the selection of a supreme leader. Candidates included William Shatner (my personal favorite) David Hasselhoff and Steve Jobs. Beers were drunk and plans were laid (Kathleen even signed on to be the certification minister) but more realistic pursuits got in the way.

BURNING QUESTION DEPARTMENT: Who were the players in last week's SNL sketch "The First Person in the History of the World to Dance?"

Monday, January 15, 2007


Demitri Martin = (the late great) Mitch Hedberg + eye contact

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Every now and then a story of a simple individual just doing the right thing restores my faith in humanity, if only for a little while. Here's one of those stories. (And here it is in PDF format if it times out on the NYTimes website.)