Tuesday, September 05, 2006
One more update about my Dad and then some catching up from the old "stuff to blog" file. My Dad has an inoperable lump. Visually the surgeon says it is cancer, but two biopsies have been negative. This lump was blocking bile ducts, blocking the bowel, and doing various things that cause terrible pain and can kill you within days. His late August surgery moved things out of the way of the lump, leaving him to recover from the surgery (and subsequent abscess) and the weight loss and muscle loss that comes from going over 6 weeks without really eating. He has done an amazing job of that, returning within days to regular bike riding, sailing the 26 foot wooden boat he took around the world, and putting weight back on. He is also figuring out how to balance his pain meds so that he can stay as active as he wants to be.
How long does he have? We don't know. He could have died back in August in that dingy hospital room, wearing just that stupid backless gown and with no comforts of home. Now he is home, with ocean views from every room, his own clothes, his own shower, his bike, his boat, music, his laptop, and family. I hope he has another year or more... but we are all prepared for less. And we are all living as though he has more, much more.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
I have reached Halifax and seen my dad. He's thin but still Dad. Tomorrow he will be going home because at the moment he doesn't particularly need to be in the hospital. We will take it one day at a time.
Also, I found an online story about our neighbours' fire. It's kind of inaccurate because the number of people is wrong (the front tenant wasn't just one person living alone I don't think) and it leaves out my friends' dog and hamster both (the hamster was apparently mentioned in the TV report) but it has some details for those who are interested: http://www.mykawartha.com/article/3964. An earlier draft at http://www.mykawartha.com/ka/article/3930 has less details but I'll include the link for completeness. You might want to poke around mykawartha.com to see how exciting my life normally gets: a parking lot near our Peterborough office is to be shut down for a while, City of Kawartha Lakes council is trying to fund the renovations needed at the Janetville community centre (where my boy takes martial arts lessons), and somebody (other than me) wrote a book.
My mother is still in Winnipeg so we don't know what was decomposing in one of those row houses yet.
Tuesday afternoon my mother called me with a gross and slight horrific story which I am going to share with you now. She lives in a row of 8 little houses in Toronto all connected to each other, 110 years old. For some days or even a week, some of the neighbours have been troubled by a nasty smell, and they were worried that a squirrel or a raccoon had died in their shared attic. Then suddenly on Tuesday two of the houses were infested -- upstairs! -- by worms. And not pink round worms like you would find in your garden. Flat white worms. Eeeeew, right? They called the police. I don't even know the end of the story because she had to leave on a trip (she's teaching a course in Winnipeg) but you know what? It isn't making much on an impact on my life right now.
That's partly because I was headed home to a much fuller house than usual. That same afternoon some neighbours of ours, whose kids are good friends with our kids in that in-and-out-of-each-other's-houses way, took a hard knock. They have rented a tiny shared house to stay while building a new home on land near us, and they lost that rented space in a fire. They also lost, or so it seemed that first afternoon, everything they owned that was not in storage, including all the back-to-school shopping (over $1000) they had just completed. They had no insurance since they were just renting for a few months. Their two children and cat came to our house that day, and have since been joined by a dog and the second cat, who took a while to find. I therefore have four children, two dogs, three cats and a hamster in a 1500 square foot house, and many of the animals can't be in the same room as each other. I spent three hours Tuesday, and Brian spent more like five hours Wednesday, doing things like driving the kids back to the house to look for the cat or to retrieve things, helping the kids run laundry or spray Febreze on things that can't go in the washer, that sort of thing. Now many people have told me that this must be a total disruption and must be driving me to drink. But if anything I am finding it a needed and welcome distraction, and I am actually sleeping better than I have for a week.
And that's because what's really on my mind is my father, in hospital in Halifax.He had major surgery in December, some setbacks in the winter and early spring, but by June was pretty much himself again. However since then he's had some bigger setbacks and has been in and out of the hospital all summer. It's now at the point where the whole family is flying in. My Dad has five kids and we haven't all been in the same room this century so the whole thing is bittersweet. One sister is bringing her infant, another is pregnant. It just doesn't bear thinking about.
And yes, I still have a business. I have clients with mentoring needs, projects going live, new projects starting, Request for Response/Proposal/Services pouring in as the bosses get back from vacation, some very sweet C++ and Vista stuff that I can't wait to tell you about (but will have to) and so much more. I am emailing a lot of those people telling them my sorry tale and that I will talk to them after Labour Day. To my delight they have all said "sure, of course, let's talk then!"
It really is going to be OK, but it's going to be hard work on the way,
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Blogging is usually a way I talk to people I don't otherwise talk to. Not that friends, family, clients, and staff don't read it -- I know you're there! But there is another group of people I know are reading who I don't normally email, IM, call, see, or send pieces of paper to. And in my life, as in so many lives, things come up, stresses rise, deadlines loom, project work eats all available hours, and the blog starts to suffer.
It starts with missing a few days, then catching up. The "stuff to blog" file is handy here, so when you catch up you clean out the file. Then the number of days you're behind exceeds the number of entries in the file, and besides most of them are just a link and you don't have time to write the three sentences that go with it. So then you don't blog for a while.
When are you likely to start again? When the blog becomes the more efficient way to talk to the people you usually talk to, but don't have time to. Expect the blog to get a little more personal for a while (though there's some technical stuff to clear out of "stuff to blog" as well, or to go dark again. I'll do what I can.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Here's a fun demo of facial recognition software. Using the picture of myself I have on MSN messenger, I tried out (http://www.myheritage.com/FP/Company/tryFaceRecognition.php) the My Heritage facial recognition software. It says I look like
Common thread seems to be cheekbones. I don't see them on me but I sure do on those folks.
Want to try?
PS: I tried another picture of me and Kate Winslet, Rose McGowan, and (damn) Andrew Lloyd Webber came up again.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
So if you want your app to behave well on Vista and have no clue where to start, here's a helpful post from Jeremy Mazner that links to a number of screencasts to get you started. How to tell Vista you need admin privs. How not to need admin privs so much. How to use the power APIs (that's volts and amperes power, not only for smart developers power). How to hook into Vista search.
Download them, watch them, make better Vista apps.
Monday, July 10, 2006
Jesper Johansson is a world-reknowned security guy. His talks are always highly rated and people love to hear him tell them how to be safer than they are now. So when he says "please don't turn off UAC", will you listen?
Yes, it's annoying to be constantly authorizing things, especially when you just clicked the button to do whatever it is that needs to be authorized. Some of that is an artifact: it shows up far more often in the early days of a new install because you're busy configuring and administering the system. Some of that is because permission sets may still need tweaking. Changing the time zone was moved into "doesn't need admin privs" while changing the time was not, for example, and there may be actions that are triggering a UAC prompt that shouldn't be. This is what betas are all about, testing developer choices against the behaviour of real users.
The other reason for a lot of UAC prompting is apps that demand privs they shouldn't need, because their developers can't be bothered to use per-user stores, for example. If that's your app, and you're testing it on Vista, you need to change it so it works well on Vista. Not leave it as is so it works fine on Vista-with-UAC-turned-off. That's just "it works on my machine", and my developers aren't allowed to say that.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Long long ago, I posted a neat drag and drop trick. Here's another. I regularly find myself in a Windows Explorer window, looking at the files it contains, and wanting a command prompt so I can type some command or another. Today it was regsvr32, but it varies. So what I usually do is open a command prompt, Alt-Tab to the explorer window, highlight the path, Ctrl-C, Alt-Tab back to the command prompt, and then leap through all the command prompt nonsense to paste. Bleah.
Here's something quicker. In the command prompt, type "cd ". Then with your mouse click on the symbol before the path in the explorer window:
Drag it into the command prompt and let go. Nice.
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