30 December 2008

The slabs are done!

While we were out of town for the holidays, the concrete was poured for our new addition and our new storage building.

Here is the slab for the addition on the back of the house:

And here you can see the slab for the storage building in the back.

21 December 2008

Home improvement project under way

This is from a few days ago. This is the preparation to pour concrete for a new addition on the back of our house. They actually finished the rebar yesterday, so it is more complete than this picture shows. We should be getting the concrete poured tomorrow.

18 December 2008

Giant ball o' bags

This is why I like working downtown. You sometimes see weird stuff like this. I took this at 7th and Congress on my lunch break today. Some guy was pushing around this giant ball o' bags. Taken from my cell phone (which is not an iPhone).

17 December 2008

Hey, who is that guy?

Last weekend, D's woodwind quintet played at the Lutheran Social Services annual Christmas party. Every year Santa is there, so J got a few pics of BabyBoy with Santa. Although, BabyBoy is not so sure about this guy with the big beard and hat.

15 December 2008

Shopping with BabyBoy

It's been a while since I've blogged, due to illness. Here is a photo I took with D's new iPhone yesterday afternoon outside of the Super Target. And it was a super big Target, by the way.

30 November 2008

Finally playing with my new MacBook Pro!

I spoiled myself with a new early Christmas present: a new MacBook Pro. I decided it was time to upgrade since my old laptop is about 3 or 4 years old and is having a hard time keeping up. I want to do more with the videos I have been recording of BabyBoy, and want to learn iMovie. And now that I have an Intel Mac, I can also use VMWare Fusion and run Windows. I got it on Friday (yes on Black Friday...doing my part for the economy!) but I am just now this evening playing with it and getting things set up and installed the way I like it.

27 November 2008

On the road to Grandparents' house

We coincided nap time with travel time on purpose.

25 November 2008

The Third Eye

This is part of a mural near my work. The third eye is freaky, but I like it.

24 November 2008

Banana Bread

The last few days have been plenty busy here. And we are just starting to gear up for the Thanksgiving holidays. I got the cooking bug this weekend, and one of the things I tried out was this banana bread recipe. I had bought a bunch of bananas a week ago, and then got a stomach bug (daycare is good at providing me with various germs), so I couldn't eat them all. They were getting very ripe, so I had to do something to salvage them. This recipe was so simple that I simply cannot ever waste bananas again! Maybe next time I will add nuts or orange juice like one of the commenters suggested. Sorry I don't have any photos of it. We've already eaten some of it, so I didn't think to take a picture.

20 November 2008

Book Review: E is for Evidence

Okay, I'm definitely behind in my book reviews here. I think I finished E is for Evidence when I was on vacation. It was, like, eh, compared to the others, especially since I read it after "G" and "H", which I loved. This is a story where Kinsey is being framed for being in on an industrial arson case's insurance claim. Her second ex-husband shows up in this book to add more to the drama. Kinsey is her typical wise-cracking self, but I felt the resolution of the story was rather bland. Usually, Kinsey is the one to figure it all out. But in the end of this book, Kinsey is told by the villain how it was all laid out, which disappointed me. I rate this book a 7 out of 10. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't my favorite of the series.

17 November 2008

Introducing the BabyBoy Fall collection

It finally got cool enough here in Austin to dress BabyBoy in long sleeves and sweaterwear.

13 November 2008

The Saxidentals on MySpace (will you be our friend?)

It's nothing too fancy yet, but I started a MySpace page for The Saxidentals. I uploaded some recordings from our November 2 gig at the Congregational Church of Austin. (Thanks Andy for recording us!) Hope you like them. And if you are a member of MySpace, send an add request and we can be friends!

12 November 2008

Book review: H is for Homicide

The next Kinsey Millhone book I read on vacation was "H" is for Homicide. I know I said before that "G" was my favorite. Well, now "H" is my favorite. In this installment Kinsey does some undercover work in a L.A. gang to help break up an auto insurance fraud ring. For much of the book, Kinsey is actually held captive by the gang leader. We also meet a friend from Kinsey's school days who has since become a crooked cop. This was a real page turner for me. I rate this book 9 out of 10.

11 November 2008

New Orleans 2008

On our way home from Mississippi, we took a quick detour to the French Quarter in New Orleans. I just had to have beignets and cafe au lait from Cafe Du Monde, and D indulged my whim. (BabyBoy had a much healthier snack of spaghetti with meat sauce.)

10 November 2008

Mississippi 2008

Book Review: "G" is for Gumshoe

This is book number 7 in the Kinsey Millhone series by Sue Grafton. So far, having read A - D, and F, I liked "G" is for Gumshoe best. (I just got "E" in the mail, so that is now in the queue, after I finish "H" is for Homicide.) This story was a bit different in that, even though Kinsey has a missing persons case to work on, she is also the target of a hit man. So, she has to hire her own P.I./bodyguard. There is a lot of hide and seek, with a little bit of romance thrown in. It is not until about two-thirds of the way into the book that I thought, hooray, we are finally going to the library to do research! Sue Grafton keeps the novel exciting, and keeps Kinsey as wise cracking an investigator as always. I give this book an 8.5 out of 10.

09 November 2008

BabyBoy taking a snooze

Before The Saxidentals' rehearsal on 10/25, BabyBoy decided to take a snooze on J.

Cafe du Monde, New Orleans

Beignets and cafe au lait in the French Quarter on the way home to Austin.

08 November 2008

I love my iPod shuffle

Recently, at work, the development team received iPod shuffles for delivering our latest major release. I have been listening to mine a lot now, and I love it. I let iTunes autofill the iPod shuffle, and then I can rediscover old music in my library.

07 November 2008

Saxidentals dress rehearsal

The Saxidentals did our dress rehearsal on Saturday (1 November 2008) at Jaime's church. Since it was a new place for BabyBoy to listen to us, we decided to ask our friend to babysit while we rehearsed. It actually didn't go well for him. He had a total meltdown. And then he took a nap.

06 November 2008

05 November 2008

Halloween/pajama party at daycare

At BabyBoy's daycare, they had a pajama party instead of a costume party. Of course lots of people dressed in costume anyways. And yes, BabyBoy started the day at school with his pajamas, but must have had a messy lunch, and was changed into his second set of clothes by the time I came to pick him up.

04 November 2008

Mr. Woodrum - The Truck Man

Guest blog by D:

We met Mr. Woodrum at the Sun Harvest Market when we stopped there on our way home to pick up something for dinner. We had never met him before and suddenly he was in front of us caught by BabyBoy's gaze. He took off his engineers hat and showed BabyBoy his lack of hair. He said he was 83 years old and his birthday is January 28 (or 20? I am pretty sure he said 28th). He is a great-grandfather. Right off the bat he asked if BabyBoy was a "Truck Man". BabyBoy was totally in awe. He just stared and stared, not quite knowing what to make of all of the to-do over him. I told him that BabyBoy was 9 months old and had not really discovered cars and trucks yet. But, this was about to change. Mr. Woodrum said that he made wooden toy trucks for kids. He said that he could not remember what it was he came to the store looking for, but that he had a truck in the car for BabyBoy - it was blue and he would be right back. While we filled our cart with baby food jars. In just a minute or two he came back bearing an awesome, hand made wooden dump truck with a hinged bucket and real rolling wheels - painted blue. He gave it to BabyBoy and he did not want to let go of it. Just as Mr. Woodrum had predicted. What a kind hearted man. He would only accept our thanks and then he headed off with a big grin as BabyBoy started to cry when we tried to get him to let go of it.

03 November 2008

Downtown Austin Segway Tour

Downtown Austin, on Congress, at lunch today. Those Segways look like fun.

02 November 2008

We are okay!

I took a pause from blogging as both BabyBoy and I have been recovering from various respiratory ailments. But I have a lot of blog postings forthcoming this week. We will actually be on vacation, but through the magic of Blogger, there will be posts during the week. And if I can, I'll mobile blog from the road. Have a great week!

25 October 2008

BabyBoy as Dragon...or not!

I've had this costume for BabyBoy for quite a few weeks now, but we thought we should try it out this afternoon, since Halloween is next weekend. Here J and D are getting started, and BabyBoy is not too sure what he is getting into.

Now he has the costume on, but not happy about it.

Definitely not happy!

23 October 2008

Pumpkins at Whole Foods

5th and Lamar, Austin, Texas.

21 October 2008

You can see Alaska from here

6th and Nueces Streets, Austin, Texas.

19 October 2008

BabyBoy's new teeth

I'm in love with his gap teeth.

We took this picture of his three new top teeth this evening. He has been sick all weekend and we finally got him in a good mood to snap a quick photo. This is right before I put eye drops in his eyes and got him all cranky again.

17 October 2008

Crochet your own Obama and McCain finger puppets!

Free patterns for these are available at the Lion Brand Yarn website. Stage your own debate! Make them thumb wrestle! Have fun!

16 October 2008

My new technical blog: Geeky Thought Bubbles

I just started another blog focused on my more technical, geekier interests. Actually, I've just copied over the tech stuff from this blog over to the new one. But all new geeky posts will go there. Check out Geeky Thought Bubbles.

BabyBoy at daycare this morning

He was a little cranky this morning. But so handsome in his 'big boy' clothes.

15 October 2008

Emerging brick after a good rain

San Antonio and 6th streets, Austin, Texas.

12 October 2008

A beautiful October weekend

This was a beautiful weekend here in Austin, TX. The weather has been great. Finally a little bit of relief from the Texas summer heat. My weekend actually started early on Friday. As it turned out, BabyBoy had his flu shot on Wednesday. At 5 p.m. on Thursday, the day care called and said that he had a fever, and needed to be fever-free for 24 hours before he could come back to school. When I picked him up, he was sleeping, and slept for about hour more when we got home. Then after he awoke, I took his temperature three times just to be certain, but he had no fever. Anyways, we had our own day together on Friday. We went on a 5 mile walk (well, BabyBoy slept in the jogging stroller as I walked), we went to eat lunch with D, and then did a little bit of shopping. Saturday and Sunday were also beautiful days, with beautiful weather. We caught up a little bit with house chores. BabyBoy had a great time at the grocery store today. He was all giggles. Then he got to play with grandparents this afternoon, and had a great time. The photo above was taken today, just before grandparents drove back to San Antonio.

09 October 2008

Some thoughts on designing a test framework with Ruby

Here are some of my thoughts after actively working on a test framework in Ruby and scripting and running test scripts for the last couple of months.

Start writing tests first, and then grow your framework. I tried to design a framework before I had a solid idea of what the testing needs were. I had just joined the company, and didn't really understand the use cases and test procedures very well. So, I just made assumptions of what I thought would be good common code and what should be in a "good" test framework. These assumptions came from other test frameworks I had used or designed in the past. I felt like my experience would make up for my lack of product knowledge. In a lot of cases that was true, but I could have delved more into the testing side, instead of just the framework. Sometimes to test something, you just need a very simple script, and a sophisticated framework can just get in the way.

Don't overdesign features before you really need them. For example, I'm thinking of ripping out the logging stuff I implemented, because now it is annoying me. I had designed the test framework so that when you include the test harness class in the test class, a log will be made for any test run. Well, I found out I wasn't really reading the logs too much, I was just relying on the output from Ruby's Test::Unit class. And I hadn't implemented a cleanup mechanism to clear the logs after a certain age was reached. So, I'm constantly typing "rm -f *.log". I think it is wiser to not force the logging in a test class, and have the test developer decide what logging is necessary and the mechanism to do that.

The DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself) concept is great, but don't get too fancy, though, with code reuse and that magical metaprogramming (if you are using a dynamic language like Ruby, as I am). It probably doesn't matter much when you need to quickly crank out tests, since this is just testware, not shippable code. In most cases, I think repeating yourself a couple of times is okay, especially when you are trying to automate as much of your tests by the end of a sprint. But once you get to the magical number of 3, then you should think about your modularity and move your repeated code to a common library.

Don't get hung up about trying to implement tests in only one language. This is probably a good reason to not spend too much time working on a framework, because, you might need a different language or tool to perform a subset of your tests. For example, there are some things that Java is better at than Ruby and vice versa. When it comes to manipulating large amounts of XML, performance-wise, Java would be my choice over Ruby.

08 October 2008

Look who is 9 months old today!

Just after our checkup with the doctor. We all got flu shots and BabyBoy got a blood test.

07 October 2008

Using Ruby and ERB to dynamically create XML files from templates

Here is a simple way to dynamically create XML files from templates. Actually, it could be any type of file. I chose XML format, because I work with plenty of XML at work. And I use this technique in a test setup.

For our example template, here is a very basic XML file, called ERB_example.xml.

<to><%= $name %></to>
<from><%= $me %></from>
<date><%= Time.now %></date>
<subject><%= $hello %></subject>
On your way home, please pick up the following from the store:
% $list.each do |thing|
* <%= thing %>
% end
<%= $signoff %>

As you can see, it has the basic elements of an email message, I have tags surrounded by <%= and %>. Anything inside these tags are treated like a Ruby expression and are evaluated. I also have two occurrences of just %. These are treated as the other tags if they are at the start of the line. (Note that I did not indent those lines!) This is useful for us because we cannot nest the <%= and %> tags. (Try it!)

Just to make things easier for this example, I am using global variables for most of these tokens. I also have an expression Time.now which will substitute the date and time. Now to our Ruby script, ERB_example.rb.

require 'rubygems'
require 'erb'

# set up some variables that we want to replace in the template
$hello = "Hola"
$me = "Tu mama"
$name = "Mi'jito"
$list = [ "milk", "eggs", "bread"]
$signoff = "Te quiero mucho."

# method update_tokens takes template_file, expecting globals
# to be set, and will return an updated string with tokens replaced.
# you can either save to a new file, or output to the user some
# other way.
def update_tokens(template_file)
template = ""
open(template_file) {|f|
template = f.to_a.join
updated = ERB.new(template, 0, "%<>").result

return updated

puts new_xml

Note that in our third argument to ERB.new, we are telling ERB two things. First, the % says to process any % at the beginning of a line. Second, the <> says to omit any newline for lines beginning with <% and ending with %>.

So, our final output when we run this little script is as follows:

<from>Tu mama</from>
<date>Tue Oct 07 14:22:10 -0500 2008</date>
On your way home, please pick up the following from the store:
* milk
* eggs
* bread
Te quiero mucho.

You can find out more about ERB at the Ruby Standard Library Documentation.

06 October 2008

How to compile and install Ruby on RHEL 4

This is one of those posts where I'm mostly writing this so I can remember how to do it in the future. But maybe it will help someone else, too. I'm not a Unix sysadmin, by any means, but here is what I did to get, compile, and install Ruby on a RHEL 4 system at work. I realized later that I could have found and installed an RPM, but after I started down this path, I wanted to finish it.

First of all, this may seem backwards, but I set these environment variables first. This is because I messed up the first time I tried to install Ruby, so these were left hanging around.

export RUBYLIB=/opt/ruby/lib:/usr/lib/site_ruby
export PATH=$PATH:/opt/ruby:/opt/ruby/bin

Next I downloaded the Ruby source code:

wget ftp://ftp.ruby-lang.org/pub/ruby/ruby-1.8.6.tar.gz

I unarchived it:

tar -zxvf ruby-1.8.6.tar.gz

I made a symbolic link which will match the paths in the RUBYLIB and PATH environment variables I set up previously. Also, it's just a lot easier to type /opt/ruby instead of /opt/ruby-1.8.6-p287:

ln -s ruby-1.8.6-p287 ruby

Now, we build and install:

cd ruby
make install

I next installed RubyGems. First we download the archive and unpack:

wget http://rubyforge.org/frs/download.php/43985/rubygems-1.3.0.tgz
tar -zxvf rubygems-1.3.0.tgz

Then we run the setup:

cd rubygems-1.3.0
ruby setup.rb

And that is it!

05 October 2008

A fun Sunday at home

D and BabyBoy chill out this afternoon and watch the Phillies beat the Brewers.

BabyBoy later in the evening, just before bath time.

04 October 2008

Cinnamon rolls

D is on a roll....making home made cinnamon rolls this morning!


And BabyBoy is all grins after eating his cereal for breakfast.

03 October 2008

Pizza night

D made pizza from scratch for dinner.


01 October 2008

How to print to PDF on Windows for free

One of the nice things that Mac OS X has out of the box is support for PDF. You can easily print to PDF without any other software. Unfortunately, with Windows, that is not the case. There are commercial products available that allow you to print to PDF. But there is another way, a free way to do it. I set this up on my computer at work using the following tutorial: Creating a free PDFWriter using Ghostscript. The only thing that I did differently was to download and use HP's Universal Print Driver.

30 September 2008

Interesting poster

I saw this on my lunch time downtown walk.

28 September 2008

Dazel Dead 5/2008

Me and D at the Gingerman for Dazel Dead, May 2008. Taken by Bill.

25 September 2008

More about MS Office 2007 files

Just a while back, I blogged about how to open MS Office 2007 files on a Windows machine even if you don't have MS Office installed. I've just stumbled upon a website that will convert the files for you. I haven't tried it out, but it appears that Zamzar converts MS Office 2007 files as well as does many other types of conversions. This might be useful to keep in mind if you are on a different operating system, like Mac OS X.

24 September 2008

Downtown Austin

D took this picture a few days ago somewhere around San Antonio and 8th Streets.

23 September 2008

Yee haw!

BabyBoy is in charge!