Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Server Upgrade Status

12 June 2005

Yesterday, I migrated my server to a larger hard drive. Mostly.

Despite having done a lot of Linux installs, this one took me 15 hours, in part because there were two bad hard drives involved. The second one actually got an install onto it, but rsync took it to a high load average, implying a high error rate. So I decided to do another install onto a third drive.
During this rather frustrating experience, I remembered why I switched back to MacOS for my desktop machine. Gah.
Everything but the web part of mailman, WebObjects, and mysql is up (and mysql is needed for WebObjects anyway).
Today was a long meeting about a WeaselWare project and its requirements and a bit about its timeline. After that, I fell over for an hour and a half and slept.

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I Heard a Yowl

10 June 2005

…from the back yard tonight, but it didn’t sound like a cat. Nevertheless, it was a cat, as Rick found out when he went out there — our neighbor’s older orange-and-white cat, who was yelling out for rescue. A cat that wasn’t otherwise moving. Rick thought it had just died after he first saw it, but the silly city boy didn’t think to check for breathing.

Neighbors weren’t home.

Seeing no obvious injury, illness, or disease and noting that the cat appeared paralyzed, I checked one of its hind legs, which was cold. Not good. After checking it out, I decided that we should move the cat, so I got an appropriately-sized box and an old towel I didn’t care about, and we put him in the box. So far, so good.

Once he got in the kitchen (I know, but the old guy is paralyzed, so it’s not like it’s not a contained threat), his feet warmed up and his breathing improved. Over time his breath got more raspy and sporadic.

Rick and Cheryl went over to see where the neighbor’s daughter works. We also called where the neighbor works. So far, it’s been an hour, but we haven’t heard a peep out of anyone.

But at least the poor guy has some company.

Update: about a half hour after his breathing became sporadic and raspy, his whole body shook, then he died. About fifteen minutes after that, one of the neighbors came over and took the box with their kitty.

No one had seen him at all yesterday, and the day before he’d been refusing food and water, so my initial guess of renal failure may have been correct. My friend Elisa thought he was dying from a series of strokes (the yowling and the paralysis), but it could just as easily have been a series of strokes brought on by the end stages of renal failure, too.

Rest well, old lad.

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Rails and Stylesheet Links

10 June 2005

RoR has quite a nice little stylesheet link helper, stylesheetlinktag, which generates a stylesheet link if invoked like so:

<%= stylesheet_link_tag ‘style’ %>

I just checked out the rails trunk and, sure enough it’s only a choice of screen or all, rather a problem for those of us who also like to generate print stylesheets (traditionally, I haven’t bothered, but it’s become one of my grumpy points lately). It also really annoys a friend of mine who uses a braille reader.

So I made a little print media thingy for my site (stuck it in helpers/application_helper.rb), and it works, but what I’d rather do is figure out what I need to do in order to submit a patch to rails so that other types can be supported by the framework. This will mean understanding unit testing in rails, which I haven’t quite gotten to yet.

Catch is, there is no canonical list, so it’s not like you can have a unit test double-check against a specific list of types; someone can go and define a media type of “beelzebub” and you’ve gotta be able to generate that.

I’ll probably be able to do this tomorrow.

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More About FM

10 June 2005

There’s a lot of misinformation about fibromyalgia, in part because it’s more a collection of symptoms than a disease per se.

However, largely, there seem to be three things I think are worth noting:

  1. Most people with fibromyalgia get too little stage 3 and stage 4 (restorative) sleep. Fixing this lessens symptoms. In my case, 5-HTP (a form of L-tryptophan) helps immensely. A lot of people with FM may also have undiagnosed apnea.
  2. There’s a generalized misperception of pain. Things that shouldn’t hurt, do. There’s no easy fix for this one, except to keep track of one’s pain and do what one can to lessen it. High-quality sleep helps. There are some drugs, including some antidepressants, that help fix the perception of pain for some people.
  3. Pain signals act as a priority interrupt, so managing pain is essential to mental acuity.

Most people I know with fibromyalgia have it far worse than I do, so I feel fortunate that it only really bites me every once in a while. My current long-term plan is to get on a better exercise program.

One of the better articles I’ve read about FM can be found here. Personally, I’ve never been able to bring myself to acupuncture, but I find acupressure quite helpful.

As for something that starts the entire FM process, I’ve been suspicious about zonulin ever since I read about it.

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Fibromyalgia

09 June 2005

You know what it’s like when one dog in the neighborhood starts barking, then all the dogs bark and you can’t get any peace?

That’s what having fibromyalgia’s like. You have some specific ache, then every other part of you that hurts (and there’s several) starts aching, and it goes into some feedback loop from hell.

It doesn’t happen to me very often, but I lost a lot of Thursday to it. Woke up feeling like I was going to toss my cookies (had I eaten any, which I hadn’t). All because I strained my back a bit over the weekend and it had started hurting. So I came home from work early, took a bath with some epsom salts, then went to bed.

Finally woke up, woozy, about 10 p.m. I did have some really excellent dreams about trekking in Greenland, though. I have no idea what that was all about, other than I’m probably not going to actually get to go there this summer.

Later, about 1 a.m., got the tiniest bit of work done on Submissions, but I’ll save the info on that until my next post, because there’s something I want to check out.

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Rails Day

07 June 2005

On Friday night, I decided to finally drop in on #rubyonrails on irc.freenode.net. It turns out that I couldn’t have arrived at a better time, chronologically, as Ruby on Rails day was about to start. The room (yeah, I know it’s technically a “channel,” get over it) was full of enthusiasm about the impending start.

People started getting their emails for their Subversion repositories and their mysql databases.

A few pointers for people doing this next year (there will be a next year, right?):

  1. Make sure you’ve set up rails on your home box (this goes for each of the developers on your team, of course).
  2. Make sure you’ve set up subversion and mysql, too.
  3. Have some idea of what you want to accomplish and how you’ll go about it.
  4. If you’ve never used Subversion before, take it for a spin. It can throw you for a loop if you’re not used to source control.
  5. Pick a project that’s smaller than you think you can do in 24 hours. Each person has to learn (unfortunately, the hard way) what their “guesstimates” are off by, but the rule of thumb that works for me is: Everything takes twice as long as you think, including thinking. In other words, multiply your /dev/ass estimate by four. The project I thought would take an hour, more if I added an extra feature, actually took 3:45 today (with the extra feature) — so, for me, 4x is a good estimate. Of course, I’d quoted 4 hours to management, because I’ve learned my “number” over the years. Your number will differ.

I haven’t seen all the railsday projects, but there’s two I thought stood out: Tally by Technoweenie, dpiddy and caseygollan; the other was Clockwork from Maylo. Clockwork had some really beautiful design on the front page.

More railsday apps are out there, of course, but those were the two that struck me as particularly nifty one-day apps.

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Socks

04 June 2005

So one of my frustrations the last few months has been the discovery that my previous favorite line of socks has been discontinued.

See, when I buy socks, I buy an entire drawer full in the same color. That way, I never have to worry about whether or not they match. Pull two socks out, voila.

My preference in socks is fairly simple: crew length (though not the super-tall crew length currently in favor in men’s socks), navy, thin (dress-sock weight), mostly cotton with some spandex content. Anything else makes my feet sweat, and that makes me unhappy.

My prior batch of socks, well, their spandex has completely lost its mojo. However, I’ve been searching for a couple of months and have found nothing that makes me happy.

Most “girl” socks are “trouser socks,” which is a euphemism for “these won’t last and the nylon content will annoy you.” Ugh.

And why must casual socks be available invariably in black or white? What’s up with that? I think white socks look stupid unless one is wearing all white — and black isn’t a color I choose to wear.

I’ve searched in stores and I’ve searched online. There is simply nothing that fits into that category that fits my feet. I even went to a wide shoe store today, bought their socks — well, they fit my feet, but I have to fold them because they don’t fit above the ankle. Did I mention that they are supposedly non-binding at the top? Yeah, right.

Still, as they met all my other criteria, I bought ten pairs.

Rick says that pockets are a feminist issue. I think he’s going to have to add socks to the list.

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Still Tired, But Moved

03 June 2005

Virtually the only thing I’ve accomplished this week is migrating deirdre.net to Textdrive.com, which offers a bunch of cool things including Ruby on Rails hosting.

Anyhow, the main reason I moved from he.net was simply capacity — my prior account only offered 2mb of space. Since I was looking at upgrading, I thought I’d look for a host that had better features.

I’ll be migrating the non-blog pieces of the site over slowly, so if there’s a page you haven’t found, that’s why. In the meantime, it’s probably mirrored at deirdre.org.

Next up on the list: rewrite rules for the old blog (deirdre.org/blog/) to redirect to the new one (deirdre.net)

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Feeds Fixed

30 May 2005

About the time I’d noted that my feed was broken, it was announced that this was a bug with WordPress 1.5.1. I’ve now had a time to apply the changes, so it’s now fixed.

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BayCon, Saturday

30 May 2005

Around about Saturday of BayCon, I started recovering. While a lot of staff jobs leave one more and more tired as the convention continues, the head of programming is an exception: the position is front-loaded, meaning that one starts the con tired and gradually recovers.

Unfortunately, this front-loading and being tired thing means that one can make mistakes. I counted four preventable mistakes that made it to the final program, quite in addition to the usual more minor stuff.

I managed to clear enough of my schedule to read and critique all the entries for the writer’s workshop section I participated in. If I were doing it over again, I’d put my writer’s workshop section on Sunday to have that one extra day — I prefer to read the entries when I first get them, read them once more, then make my actual critique comments within 24 hours of giving the actual critique. Unfortunately, with Friday being as crazy as it was, I kept having to defer that time and wasn’t able to get uninterrupted time to write my critiques. I’m not saying that this was anyone else’s fault. I certainly could have gone some place and hidden.

Which reminds me…. All weekend, random people were waving at me. Most I recognized, but some I didn’t. When I didn’t recognize the person, it seemed a bit disconcerting, as though someone was starting some sort of “Wave at Deirdre” campaign.

Saturday night, I finally got to see Patricia MacEwen’s famous “Alien Sex” panel, featuring reproductive strategies of various terran species.

After that, Adrienne Gormley and I winged it on the “Writer’s Workshops” panel, which I had to admit that we were unprepared for. That we were unprepared was one of the aforementioned mistakes: I didn’t realize until some time Saturday afternoon that I’d scheduled (and put in the program book and on the program grid) a writer’s workshop panel — but not scheduled anyone for it. Oops. So, I pressed my friend and I into service, though I was unable to find any other fellow victims on such short notice, especially given that it was counter-masquerade programming.

Despite this, we had a full room and had a great deal of interest in the topic, so that was all good. After the panel, I finally managed to get a spot of dinner, hanging out with Adrienne, Margaret Bonham, and, of course, Rick.

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