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07/18/09

Permalink 12:15:05 pm, by B. Donovan Email , 90 words   English (US)
Categories: Misc

Call Me Jethro

If you knew Steve Herrick '74, then you knew about Jethro Tull. Steve was and is a big fan of Jethro Tull and their music. We kept in touch occasionally since the advent of email, and I saw this photo several years ago, I think it was posted on Steve's personal website. I asked him if he would send me a copy. Not many people ever meet one of their idols.

Steve Herrick and Ian Anderson
Steve and Ian Anderson

Ian Anderson is of course the leader of Jethro Tull and legendary rare rock flutist.

04/30/09

Permalink 05:08:33 pm, by B. Donovan Email , 271 words   English (US)
Categories: News, Personal

Connor Burns

I was shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Connor Burns. I probably only spoke with him once, when he helped me load a riding lawn mower on to my trailer at Home Depot in Penfield a few years ago. I knew of him through the Wayne Basketball program in the early 00's. We mostly made small talk about what he was doing since high school, but he seemed like a fine young man.

I had observed him play basketball for a few years, as I was maintaining a website for the Wayne teams, and my son was playing a year behind Connor's class, so I saw most all of their games from 8th grade on. You probably can learn a lot about someones character by watching how they play and compete in sports. Connor was a small guy in a big guys sport, but he wasn't afraid to challenge anyone. He was a hard nosed scrappy player, who played defense as hard as he did offense. He was an excellent point guard, and but if for a severely broken ankle after his freshman season might have had even more success on the court. Even as a senior, he would be literally limping towards the end of the game. I knew little about his injury, but there was no question it had a long lasting effect on what he could do on the court, but he didn't seem to let it deter him.

But he always gave 100 percent, there was no question. He played with a lot of heart.

And my heart goes out to his family and friends.

03/19/09

Permalink 08:14:25 am, by B. Donovan Email , 90 words   English (US)
Categories: Announcements [A], Folklore, Alumni News

It Was 40 Years Ago Today

Link: http://itwas40yearsago.blogspot.com/

This may be interesting to some people, so I'd thought I would highlight it here. My brother Alan has been writing a Blog about the year 1969, and I just found it last night. It combines news and events of the year with some personal recollections. I'm especially looking forward to what he might say about Woodstock, as I've really never heard much about his experience there.

I would be happy to highlight and link to others who might be writing a Blog. Just send me an email with the info.

03/08/09

Permalink 08:23:55 pm, by B. Donovan Email , 404 words   English (US)
Categories: Website News

Weather Page is Back

Link: http://weather.waynealumni.org

Again, assuming someone out there looks at the weather site besides me, the site is back up and it has a new look.

The Gory Details

As luck would have it, a few days after I replaced a failed hard drive, the computer which interfaces my weather station to the internet died. Completely. Long story short, some electrolytic capacitors on the motherboard failed, and it wouldn't even power on. I looked at getting a replacement motherboard, and even repairing the board myself, but since it was an early Pentium 4 style, I initially decided to get a new motherboard with an Intel Atom processor and some RAM. Upon further reflection, I decided to get a new case, hard drive, and DVD drive along with it. Since my old hard drive was IDE and I got a new one that was SATA, I decided to keep the IDE drive for another system (along with the Windows XP license). Thanks for the people at J&N Computers who gave me a good deal and got it together quickly.

So I loaded Ubuntu Linux 8.10 on the new computer. That all went fine, I was up and running in 30 minutes. But all the software I got with my weather station was Windows based, and I wasn't particularly impressed with it. So I ended up loading Wview. Now WView is free and has some nice features, but it has no graphical interface. All command line Unix type stuff. There also were many prerequisites for various software that needed to be installed. Ubuntu has a nice interface for obtaining software and various library files, but still a few I needed to load manually, and the same with WView itself. I had a few problems, but was able to get it up and running in a day or two.

I still need to see if I can get some of the old data imported into the new file formats, but maybe later this week. I also am just using the default website templates, and I'll probably make some modifications there too.

I had hoped the old computer (I got in 2002) would last longer, but apparently many computers were built with faulty electrolytic capacitors earlier in the decade, so at least it lasted almost 7 years. I have other plans for that computer. I will attempt to get another motherboard real cheap and try to get a few more years out of it.

03/04/09

Permalink 10:46:00 pm, by B. Donovan Email , 189 words   English (US)
Categories: Website News

Still Under the Weather

The continuing saga of my weather computer -

After repairing a failed hard drive and reloading Windows and all the service packs, security updates, and all the weather stuff, the computer runs fine for a few days and dies again. This time, I think I have diagnosed it to a bad motherboard. The computer runs 24/7 and I noticed my weather info hadn't updated since yesterday. So I went upstairs and its dead. No power, no nothing. So I checked everything I could think of, even swapped in another power supply. It just won't come on.

So its off to Google. Found some interesting information about defective electrolytic capacitors that were built on to many PC motherboards around 2002. They can be spotted by bulging tops or leaking electrolytic fluid. Sure enough, I have some that are showing tell-tale signs of failure. Question is, did they damage the motherboard?

So I need to investigate possible repair or replacement. I would do the repair myself, if I can get the parts, but it could all be for naught if the MB is fried. So ETA for Ontario Weather updates is still unknown.

02/24/09

Permalink 08:56:13 pm, by B. Donovan Email , 99 words   English (US)
Categories: Website News

How's the Weather Up There?

Link: http://weather.waynealumni.org

I may be talking to myself here, but if anyone looks at the Ontario Weather link and the small current weather box I have on this site page, you may have noticed it hasn't been updated in a few days. Well, the computer I was using to upload all the data has been dying slowly the last few weeks, and it it is currently in intensive care. I think it needs a hard drive transplant, but I'm not ready to give up yet. So it may be down for a few days more as I try to resuscitate it.

11/11/08

Permalink 09:29:12 am, by B. Donovan Email , 613 words   English (US)
Categories: Folklore

Shattered

When I was in Ontario Elementary, around 1965 or so, new windows were installed. Not exactly a big event, but I remember distinctly it being mentioned that these new windows were "shatterproof". Since these windows were something like 8 feet high, flying glass raining down on school children is not a good thing. Maybe it was a selling point at the time, one of the reasons they were replaced. Well, that selling point was eventually tested.

I used to ride my bike uptown from my North Slocum Road home quite often in the summer. I often brought my baseball glove and a bat, just in case. One day in the summer of 1967, or maybe 1968, we got enough kids together (like eleven) and were playing a pick-up game on the ball field that was right across from the dairy, on the east side of the school. The field there at the time had a backstop and bases laid out such that the school was out in right/center field. We used that field during gym class, and had played games there many times before.

I wish I could remember everybody who was playing. The only one I'm 100% sure about was Bill Burnett. I'm pretty sure Jim Kelly, Glen Cone, Bob Hetu, and maybe Clint Kleisley were there too. I remember it being a pretty competitive game. In those days, we always played hardball. With the school out in right field, and those big windows, and kids who were maybe 11-14 years old, I remember being a little concerned about those windows. Since most or all of us were right-handed, we usually pulled the ball to left field. I'm sure that we had probably bounced some balls off the school at some point, but what the heck, those windows are "shatterproof", which I actually thought meant they wouldn't break.

Unfortunately I found out that they do break. During one of my at bats, I hit a deep fly to right field, and as I rounded first base I heard the glass break. I instantly froze, as did everybody else. We looked at each other for a few seconds, and we all started to run. We wanted to get as far away as fast as we could. Then reality set in. Big trouble, but likely bigger trouble if we take off and THEN get caught. I think Bill Burnett was the oldest one there, and we kind of looked to him "what do we do?". Bill was wise even at 14 years old. He said we should try and find someone at the school and tell them what happened. And the key point for me, was that we ALL should take responsibility, not just the guy who hit that amazing powerful deep likely home run ball.

For some reason I think it was a Saturday, and I don't know why but there was a custodian in the building. He didn't hear it, but we (mostly Bill) showed him the room with the broken window. There was glass all over the place. So much for "shatterproof".

I remember us all giving him our names. And then I remember getting "the letter". The parents of all of the kids who were playing had to pitch in to pay for the repair of the window. The reason I knew how many of us were playing that day is because of the bill. It cost $110 to fix the window, and our parents had to pay $10 each, which at the time, was not an insignificant amount of money. It would probably be over $1000 today.

That was the last time we played hardball on that field.

Next time I see Bill, I'd better thank him.

10/23/08

Permalink 03:37:55 pm, by B. Donovan Email , 296 words   English (US)
Categories: Website News

Do What I Mean, Not What I Say

Have you ever said that to your kids? I don't think I have, yet. That's one thing about computers, they do exactly what you tell them to do. I'm not sure I ever believed that before, as things always seem to get fouled up.

One of my co-workers has a sign on his desk, "To err is human, to really screw up you need a computer". In most cases, I think it's really because there was a human involved somehow.

Maybe you have noticed that the little NEW icons have been showing up either en masse or not at all lately. I had to disable the section that shows the new registrations in the last three weeks. It certainly might appear that something is really screwed up, and it was/is. But the computer is doing exactly what it is being told. Safe to say, I screwed up, kind of.

All registrations are kept in a database, which has an automatic timestamp field whenever the entry is added or updated. Which works fine most of the time. But I was working on a new feature that required a new field in the database, and I populated them, which essentially means every record has changed. Thus the little NEW icons all over the place. I disabled most of them for now. So for the next couple of weeks, I'll probably be slowly adding that capability back, until those changes are a few weeks in the past.

The real answer is to rewrite the "script" that makes all this work so that it is smarter. Given enough time and functioning brain cells I should be able to do it. The good news is, the more mistakes I make, the less mistakes I'll make in the future. Make sense?

05/02/08

Permalink 02:57:48 pm, by B. Donovan Email , 350 words   English (US)
Categories: Website News

Host Monster

If you've visited the site the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed various problems. It started with the website being shutdown again. This time it appeared someone was trying to use our contact form to spam us. About one or two emails were being sent every minute and this triggered a violation of the email policy of the hosting provider.

This is one of the facts of life of having a website. Though there our several components to help protect this from happening, it appeared someone had figured out a way around it. Ok, that is something we'll have to deal with, but our wonderful low budget hosting providers failed to inform me about what was going on for over 12 hours. All I knew is the site was disabled. Since I had had numerous issues with them already and had decided to move the site within a few weeks, this was reason enough to move it immediately.

Shortly thereafter I did get the email about why it was shut down, but it was too little too late. They just make it too hard to get help when you need it.

The new host is "Host Monster". I did some research and they have one of the highest ratings, if any of that can be believed. At least they have a phone number, which is a step up. And they don't seem to be in Canada, which has been bad luck for me.

Moving the site was not as bad as I thought. With several databases, including one completely integrated with the main page, I was a little concerned it might take a while. Other than a minor mistake I made when I inserted some temporary HTML (that caused the huge text problem), it wasn't a total disaster.

With the hosting provider, I hope some annoying problems will be resolved. One already looks fixed, a work-around I made to fix a problem ended up causing another problem for MAC users. So I'm looking forward to spending less time dealing with these issues and more time improving the website content.

01/14/08

Permalink 06:48:24 pm, by B. Donovan Email , 154 words   English (US)
Categories: Website News

Last Comments

There is a link on the right side of some of the pages (Home Page and any pages with Weblogs) called Last Comments. This hasn't been working correctly since these pages were integrated into the main site format. It seems to be working correctly now (how's that for confidence) since I made a fix. So if you have tried to read the comments using that link before, try again, it might work!

There are still some occasional issues popping up related to the "new security settings" on the web server. Another long story, which I won't bore you with, but I am fixing them as I find them. If you do have any issues, don't hesitate to send me an email. I may not know about yet.

I also want to thank Diana Mattuzzi '80 for helping out by improving one of the site scripts to completely eliminate email addresses from any viewable html source.

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