Wind Damage

Albion Water Tower

A strong tornado hit Michigan today, tracking from Battle Creek to the north-east. I was close enough that I needed to take shelter from this storm.

Several trees were snapped in half by the force of a strong gust front in Albion, Michigan. Here are the photos I took of a few broken trees for my report to the weather service.

I didn’t have any damage myself, but on the radar it looked like a strong tornado tracked from Battle Creek up to Mason, and the south end of that hook echo packed some wind, I’d say 50 mph!

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Do-It-Yourself Work Bench

Work Bench Side Diagram
Side View Diagram

For the novice carpenter, grabbing supplies from a helpful home improvement store is one thing.  Attempting to build a functional piece of furniture, from scratch, using just spare parts and the most basic tools, is another story altogether.  There is no manual for this, no instruction sheet, no alphabetized parts list.  The how-to articles I was able to find on the Internet helped about as much as one of those cooking shows on TV where the chef uses ingredients I’ve never even heard of.

My recent experience tackling one such tutorial, while successful, might have looked like I was performing a slapstick parody of This Old House to an impartial observer.  I learned a few tricks along the way, including some techniques that really should be considered by tutorial makers everywhere.

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Speaking of Genealogy

Finding Your Ancestors in Michigan, by Robert Chapin, March 2011
My Title Slide

I made a fun little PowerPoint show about the tricks and shortcuts that genealogists can use to find historical records.

Finding Your Ancestors in Michigan

This is for a class where I will demonstrate how to start a family tree and begin researching the names of ancestors and relatives.  My main points include how to use free, general-purpose genealogy databases, and how to balance the focus and relevance of different resources.

Offline Files and Access Errors

Offline Files Folder
The Offline Files detail view shows limited information about permissions.

Another great Windows XP feature with another great set of problems: Offline Files.  If you have a laptop or unreliable inter-site connectivity, then you know of the necessity of keeping a local copy of your shared files to make them available at all times.  The Offline Files feature automatically keeps track of which files need to be synchronized for you, making that offline experience very slick.

Try to do this in a multi-user environment, however, and it will blow up spectacularly.  The most common symptoms appear when double clicking a document icon in offline mode.  Windows loads the program associated with that type of document, and that program instantly crashes or throws a file error.  This happens any time more than one user tries to use the same file offline on the same computer.

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Split Tunnel Virtual Private Network

Detailed overview of a split tunnel VPN system.
Split Tunnel VPN is Faster for Multitasking

Anyone who has attempted a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection in Windows XP has run into this problem:  You want to have access to computers at your home or office, but Windows accomplishes this by routing all of your activity to the home network.  If your work involves transferring files to a server and surfing the Internet, then your Internet activity has to piggyback on the VPN and travel twice within your limited home bandwidth.  This means your slow VPN is even slower when you load a website, and any interruption of the VPN will break all of your connections to FTP sites, IM services, etc.

You may have tried to coerce Windows into routing your traffic to two different gateways, but quickly realized it wasn’t designed to do that.  Adding entries to the local routing table can solve the problem temporarily, but doing so requires administrative privileges and ugly dynamic logic to handle a gateway address that changes every time you connect the VPN.

My solution for this scenario comes in two parts:  1. A static address for the VPN client computer, and 2. A persistent route for the VPN client’s static address.  This is a bit easier said than done, so the following tutorial includes screenshots and details.

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Active Directory Log Disk Lost

Event Viewer excerpt showing atapi and disk errors.
A Disk Kissing Itself Goodbye

At 2:45 this morning, my home office / techie practice server suffered a catastrophic failure of its primary slave disk.  Among other things, that disk was responsible for storing the Active Directory log file for the server’s Windows 2003 domain controller.  The device itself was a Maxtor 20 gig model going on 12 years of age.  It was still in service after the server’s motherboard overhaul because of the Windows 2000 Active Directory Services recommendation: “For best performance, place the database and the log file on separate hard disks.”

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June Joys

EMU, jury duty, JCC, Rob's Relatives, WordPress, Canon Camera x.x, Google Images >:{
My week, in logos

Many exciting things happened here recently.  Last Thursday I volunteered to help staff the airport while the Nascar drivers flew in for their race.  Friday I did my first solo flight at JCC.  Saturday I got a perfect score on the aviation test.  I spent Sunday reading the Aeronautical Information Manual.  Monday I performed a rejected takeoff that I was particularly proud of.  Tuesday I basically had a class from 4pm to 11pm.   But right before that I was congratulated on being admitted to EMU for the fall term, so it was all smiles.  🙂

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Weezer 8-Bit Album Cover
8-bit Album Cover

Weezer – Buddy Holly (nordloef Cover)

Before there was Weezer, there was Weeze, and before that, Elisha Cuthbert had an NES console.  At least, that’s how I’d start the music video for “The 8-bit Album.”

But don’t get your hopes up. This isn’t a Weezer album.  Well, it is, sort of.  It’s more like a this-is-what-Weezer-would-have-sounded-like-on-a-25-year-old-arcade-game album.  It’s experimental.  It’s childish.  It’s adding a happy hardcore remix to two genres that are already too far juxtaposed.

This was my 2nd-favorite track.  You’d never know from listening to it that it was released in 2009.  I was planning to upload the Bit Shifter cover last month instead, but I just didn’t like the choice of (original) lyrics in that one.  8-Bit is Creative Commons licensed.

Website Overhaul

Welcome to the Realm of DJ Miqrogroove
Remember yesterday's front page?

Welcome to the new and very different!  Every five years or so, this website undergoes a major retooling to keep everything in line with my plans and expectations.  Ten years ago, the transition was from GeoCities to a University of Michigan server, where the website experienced a period of rapid growth and change.  That was the golden age of sharing files and sending e-mails through websites.  Within five years after that, had moved to professional hosting and consisted of many thousands of pages in multiple natural languages.  That period included the birth of social networking on the web, and common availability of megabit residential Internet service.

Today I am weighing three undeniable trends in the life cycle of  Most importantly is the fact that past phases of growth added some scrapbook-like features that were never updated.  In a system of static files, it is very bad to do that because the addition of new content always increases the burden of management.  Five years ago, the way to get around that problem on a budget was to design a custom web application from scratch, or even use a hideous pre-packaged web portal system.  On the bright side, there are now mature, free, content management platforms spanning the skill range from sophomore webmaster all the way up to rocket-scientist information modeler.  Setting up a weblog-style page is already second nature to the masses, so the weblog itself has become  appropriately automated for adding and archiving pages of real content.

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