Robert Aitchison

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The state (and future) of my home page
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Fri 03 of Feb., 2012 10:58 PST  (974 Reads)

As unlikely as it seems, here's an update for the site. For anyone coming across this page it's pretty obvious that it's been all but abandoned. It's been over 5 years since the site was seeing consistent updates and no updates at all in more than 2 years.

Social media sites have become the place where I put things I want to talk about, for a while I was active on Twitter and I still "tweet" from time to time. Mostly I've moved my content to Google+. I'm still active on Foursquare.

Which brings me back to my own home page, what's the point of it? What I'm going to do is move to a simple "landing page" which will have basic info about me plus links to the social media sites I'm active on. Right now the main reason to keep this page around is the Mazda3 D.I.Y Oil Change Guide which after almost 8 years still gets visited regularly. I'll need to find a new home for that before I take this site down.

In the mean time, as you imagine I've got quite a bit of new stuff to talk about which I'll briefly discuss below. For future updates I'd recommend my Google+ page.

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Disabling comments due to spam (why we can't have nice things)
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Fri 28 of Aug., 2009 12:50 PDT  (2282 Reads)

Sorry for the half dozen actual people who have left comments in the history of my site (including the guy who thinks I'm an asshole) but I had to disable comments.

Apparently since I blew the dust of the site the spammers have been having a field day, leaving almost 4500 spam comments in the past 30 days, I had to use MySQL queries to clear them all out and then I just disabled the feature to prevent a reoccurrence.

How much do I suck?
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Fri 31 of July, 2009 10:57 PDT  (2430 Reads)

Let me count the ways, well as near as I can figure I have 3 years and 14 days worth of suck because that's how long since I updated this site.

I could make excuses but there wouldn't much point now. In any case I recently updated the software that runs this site, I'd like to say I'm going to start regularly updating again but I've said that before and not followed through.

Needless to say, there have been many changes since the last update, I have a new job working for a small division of a super-huge company. New hobbies are getting more time as old ones see less, changes around the house, new pets and more. I figure talking about that stuff will give me plenty to talk about if/when I start updating.

Only an hour a week
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Tue 23 of May, 2006 22:13 PDT  (7406 Reads)

Like many assholes, I'm a volunteer leader in my sons Cub Scout Pack, specifically I'm the Cubmaster.

There's a running joke among scout leaders, or scouters that to volunteer takes a commitment of "only an hour a week", the joke of course is that it's a way bigger time commitment than that.

This past weekend the pack went on our annual spring campout (one of two campouts a year), today was one of the final den meetings of the scout year. I was putting together a list of our remaining events through then end of the scout year and this is what I came up with:

Yeah, I got your hour a week right here :-)

This just in, apparently I'm an asshole
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Mon 22 of May, 2006 21:25 PDT  (12780 Reads)

One of the limitations of this software is that it doesn't notify me when there are new comments to one of my articles. This means I need to browse the main page periodically to see if there are any. Sometimes it can be a while before I notice.

I happened to notice one posted just today in the article talking about my car getting broken into. The comment may not be sweet but it sure is short, consisting of two sentences:

Looks like karmas a bitch. Maybe in the future you should strive to not be an asshole.

Interesting, now I'm well aware that I'm opinionated, stubborn, temperamental, extremely politically incorrect, a tad arrogant and possess a number of other arguably negative qualities (and I'm modest too) but I don't really see how the label "Asshole" applies to me.

Now I don't know who wrote the comment (anonymously), if it's someone who I've met (and angered) or if it's some random surfer who maybe doesn't like something I've written here. Honestly I don't care nearly enough to start looking at my server logs to try to find out.

Now I'm a believer in karma, and endeavor to treat pople like I feel they deserve to be treated, I guess at least one person disagrees.

So for Mr./Mrs. anonymous commenter (or anyone else) please enlighten this asshole on how exactly I am an asshole. If you don't want to come out of anonymity please give specific examples. If being not an asshole is something I'm supposed to strive for it would be immensely helpful to identify my assholeness.

I done been robbed!!
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Thu 20 of April, 2006 22:34 PDT  (16917 Reads)

Yesterday was NOT a very good day. As I was getting ready to leave for work Tove (who left just a minute before) came back to tell me that my car had been broken into and trashed.

Sure enough it was true, overnight my car rear passenger window had been broken & ripped out, my negative battery leads had been cut and my year old Pioneer AVIC-N1 had been stolen.

Piecing together what I believe to be the sequnece of events, it seems they broke the window, several people have volunteered they probably used a spark plug to do this. Once the window was shattered they were able to rip the entire window.out of the car (held together by tint) and dump it on the curb lawn. Then they crawled inside the car to pop the hood, once they had the hood open they cut (hacked) the leads for the negative battery terminal, presumably to disable my non-existant alarm. Then they opened the car and removed the system.

On the bright side, they were trying to be quiet so they didn't do as much smashing as they could have, they appear to have used a screwdriver to take apart the dash leaving it almost intact.

More info and pictures of the horror below.

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Yes more wire hangers!
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Mon 10 of April, 2006 18:48 PDT  (3329 Reads)

So our addition is still not completely done, though it is without a doubt mostly done. This past weekend we were working on, among other things hanging up pictures, clocks and such to try to restore a sense of normalcy.

One of the things we were hanging was Davids Cub Scout Shadow Box. Now this thing is huge and weighs at least 5 pounds (a lot for something you hang on the wall) The question is how do you hang it.

We used a heavy duty picture hanging hook nailed into a stud, as far as how to secure it to the box, I improvised (rigged) a unque solution. I unspooled about 12 feet of .0020" stainless steel lockwire, put both ends in the chuck of a drill and the loop at the halfway point around a screwdriver. A few seconds of running the drill and I have created a double strand piece of stainless steel cable. Repeat the process to double it again and I created a decent length of MacGyverised? picture hanging wire.

I figure the wire has over 400,000 PSI of tensile strength, not sure how that converts into pounds but it's probably sufficient to hold up the shadow box. Originally I tried a double strand, but I found that it stretched too much and also was very painful if you were trying to lift the box by the wire. In general I was surprised by how much stretch the stainless steel wire had in it. I guess when you are working with shorter lengths you don't notice these things.

I learned to lockwire in the Navy and it's an interesting skill, I even use it occasionally more than 10 years after my EAOS, one of the few that I can make that statment about.

Ghostrider requesting flyby
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Thu 16 of March, 2006 01:14 PDT  (3360 Reads)

Another end to an era. This week the last squadrons of the venerable F-14 Tomcat fighter aircraft returned from their last deployment.

On a related, more personal note, nothing makes you feel old like learning that both ships you served on in the Navy have been decommissioned. The first ship I served on was the USS Valley Forge (CG-50) and the second was the USS Paul F Foster (DD-964). The Foster was pretty long in the tooth but the Forge wasn't that old, less than 20 years old when decommissioned. I figure it must have been cost prohibitive to retrofit her for VLS and she wasn't as versatile without it.

In the highly improbable case that a former Valley Forge sailor reads this, ple join me and pout out a bootle of spray-n-wipe for the Valley Forge

Does that product come in Samsung?
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Thu 09 of March, 2006 18:09 PST  (4079 Reads)

Brand loyalty is an interesting thing, people, myself included tend to develop a bias towards or against a certain brand in my case at least, this exerts significant influence over everyday decisions.

Lately this has manifested itself in my newfound affection for the Samsung brand. Just a couple of months ago I was indifferent towards Samsung, I didn't really own any Samsung devices, David uses Tove's old Samsung X105 but that is a decidedly unexciting device.

This all changed when we recently bought a new Samsung HDTV. Overall I'm pretty happy with the unit, the picture & sound are great, it has lots of inputs, hell it won't even be obsolete once the MPAA shoves HDCP down our throats. It also emits a friendly "do do doodee" tone when it starts up and a "de de dedoo" when it shuts down, these are the kind of tunes that will harken you back to the days when you wasted hours in front of an NES and is strangely endearing considering it's utter pointlessness.

Continued below

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Happy Birthday to ME!
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Sat 25 of Feb., 2006 22:13 PST  (3105 Reads)

Whelp, today was my birthday, not content at being over 30 I'm now officially over 35.

Being how my master plan has me dying suddenly of a heart attack in my 50s I figure I'm more than halfway through.

Funny think about your birthday, you get bunches of "Happy Birthday" E-Mails? from web sites you forgot you even egistered for. Though this year I did not get the expected E-Mail? from the Klingon Language Institute as I have in years past wishing me a qoSlIj DatIvjaj.

Oh and the picture of me used on this page is now officially more than 5 years old (actually more than 6, having been taken in December of 99) and despite the fact that it's quite possibly the only good picture that's ever been taken of me I think I'll have to find a different, more up to date one that more accurately represents my older, fatter and balder current self.

Happy freaking Valentines Day!
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Tue 14 of Feb., 2006 22:00 PST  (3160 Reads)

Ahh, today is Valentines Day, the day that comes every year whether we like it or not.

Luckily I made my annual trek to See's last week so I only had to wait in line half an hour.

Next month is the much less known and much less observed Steak and a Blowjob day, good luck with that guys.

In the same vein, here are some alternative valentines for you that Hallmark mysteriously omitted (not for viewing at work)

Still here
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Sun 29 of Jan., 2006 22:25 PST  (6825 Reads)

Sorry I've been quiet for a few days, we have been moving into the new office, I didn't have my computer up and on the net until today.

Next weeks hould be busy as well, as we are moving into our new bedroom!!!111oneoneone Sleeping in the living room is getting real old.

Sorry I don't have anything interesting today eithr, for now, here's some semi-random links. Consider this entry the moral equivalent of a clip show

New site feature: EFF Action Alerts RSS Feed
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Tue 24 of Jan., 2006 18:40 PST  (2674 Reads)

As you know I'm a big advocate of the EFF, this is pretty much the only organization out there that is standing up for our digital rights against the likes of the MPAA, RIAA & other organizations that would see our fair use rights destroyed.

From time to time the EFF pulishes an Action Alert, usually when there is a new piece of legislation. The goal is to let everybody know so we can contact our elected representatives and let our voice be heard.

In the typical scenario the **AA uses one of their bought and paid for members of congress to introduce some legislation that is deigned to do things like prevent you from recording television shows to watch later, often this is done by attaching an amendment to an unrelated bill with broad support (for example the "puppies for kids with cancer" act).

What they are hoping is that they can sneak the bill past the people, once the bill becomes law it's much harder to reverse than it is to stop it from becoming law. The EFF keeps an eye out for such tactics and alerts people when it happens.

What I've added on the right is an RSS feed for the EFFs action alerts, whenever a new alert is issued it will show up there, clicking on the headline will take you to the EFF Action Center where you can easily contact your representative and let them know what you think.

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Back from the dead
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Tue 17 of Jan., 2006 17:13 PST  (2461 Reads)

Or so it seems. First I'd like to apologize, it's been more than a month since my last entry, as I've alluded to before I've been way busy and updating my web site is one of the things that tends to suffer when I'm dealing with family & work issues. ( Autocross is another it's been like 3 months since I've been racing).

Believe it or not I would like to get back to daily postings, though honestly I doubt that's going to happen anytime soon. Though it should geta bit better. I've just completed a very major project at work, and the remodel on the house is in the home stretch. I'm hoping that this will result in more time for more frequent & high quality updates.

While I was "gone" my web site (in it's current form) turned one year old. Of course I've maintained a personal home page for almost 10 years now. One feature of TikiWiki? is publishing dates, when I submit an article I can set it so the article isn't available before a certian date, and by default artciled expire one year after they are posted. What that means is that the earliest posts here are starting to go away, if you ever come here and there are NO articles it's been WAY too long since I've updated.

What good is TiVo if you have no time for TV
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Wed 30 of Nov., 2005 20:41 PST  (2917 Reads)

So my TiVo is chock full of shows I don't have time to watch. I guess it would be worse if not for the construction crew which is regularly either unplugging the TiVo or messing with the satellite connection.

Though I guess I did have some time last weekend but I spent it playing Gran Turismo 4, though in my defense it was the first time I've spent any time playing video games in months.

BTW, unrelated to TV or Video Games, Firefox 1.5 has been released. I've been using it for a day and it seems pretty good, I think it's a little faster that 1.0, which was already WAY faster than Internet Explorer.

Speaking of IE, there a new pretty critical vulnerability (actually, to be specific, the vulnerability has been known for months but they didn't realize how critical it was until recently) that came out last week just before thanksgiving that basically allows an attacker to take complete control of your PC if you merely visit a web page. I'm told that hundreds of thousands of Internet users have already been infected as a result of this vulnerability. Sounds like a perfect time to switch to Firefox.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Thu 24 of Nov., 2005 09:11 PST  (2844 Reads)

So today is Thanksgiving and we're in San Diego to celebrate with Tove's mother. This has been our family tradition since we got married. Of course last Thanksgiving I was at work performing a domain migration but that's neither here nor there.

I'd like to provide a big thank you for all the people with unsecured wireless access points, especially the guy apparently across the street from Tove's mother. Without your generosity (or was it cluelessness) this entry would not be possible. :-)

Here's to everyone, have a happy thanksgiving and a great holiday season.

Oh, it's also Tove's birthday, which means I'm married to an older woman until February 25th. I even already got her birthday presents (yesterday)

Went camping with the Pack this weekend
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Tue 22 of Nov., 2005 20:15 PST  (2863 Reads)

So this past weekend was the Pack 246 annual Fall campout. I must have gone camping with the Pack 8 or 9 times at this point and we haven't gone to the same place twice. This time we went to Leo Carillo State Park.

Every place you camp has its good and bad points, this place had one very significant good point, it was less than an hour away.

Tove had some teacher training going on on Saturday so she wasn't able to come, so it was just me and the boys for the weekend. That also means I got to squeeze all the camping gear in my car instead of her cavernous minivan. You know I have a pretty roomy station wagon and I still had to plan to get it all to fit. There wouldn't have been any hope if I had a sedan or something.

The weather was outstanding though, not too hot and not too cold. There were a few periods of gusty winds and it did get a little chilly at night but nothing that the sleeping bag couldn't keep at bay.

Goodbye Infone
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Fri 11 of Nov., 2005 22:03 PST  (2964 Reads)

You probably have never heard of Infone, or maybe you remember some commercials a couple of years ago that talked about it. I have been an infrequent Infone customer for more than a year. This week I got an E-Mail? informing me that they will be discontinuing their service after December 31.

Infone was an interesting concept, for $0.89 per call you could get more than directory assistance, you get a concierge of sorts. With a call to Infone you could get driving directions (this is mostly what I used it for), make dinner reservations, look up people in your address book/contact list and call them, check your calendar, find out movie show times and buy tickets.

Honestly I only used the service a dozen times or so and never used any of the concierge services beyond driving directions. I guess that's why they are shutting it down, too few customers (less than 200,000 according to this article) and I'm guessing that a lot of them are like me and didn't spend much money on them.

A few years ago when I as travelling all the time and always going to strange cities I probably would have used it a lot more.

In any case It's sad to see you go Infone, yet another great idea that just didn't make it.

Lots to talk about, no time to talk
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Wed 19 of Oct., 2005 08:32 PDT  (3426 Reads)

So I know the frequency of updates has been absolutely dismal lately, I've been super busy on all fronts of my life. The ironic thing is that the more I have to talk about the less time I have to talk about it.

Some things to give you an idea of what I'm behind on:

  1. Movie Review for Serenity (maybe I'll get the review done before it's out of theaters)
  2. New TV Show reviews: My Name is Earl (liked) it, Commander in Chief (Liked it a surprising amount), Criminal Minds (liked it), The War at Home (liked it) & Threshold (didn't like it)
  3. Construction News - Why I hate the rain
  4. Cub & Boy Scout News
  5. Traffic Ticket News (not looking good)

So hopefully I will be able to catch up soon, the good part is that if I can manage to write a new article every day it will be a while before I run out of subjects.

By: Robert Aitchison  on: Thu 29 of Sept., 2005 18:43 PDT  (3956 Reads)

So the flames are probably about a mile from my house at this point. When I picked up Jordan from school I could actually see the line of flames in the hills (and about 6 helicopters attacking it)

I've lived here for the better part of my 35 years and have seen dozens of fires, but never have I seen anything like this.

We are getting lots and lots of ash falling on everything out here, one bit of ash fell on my arm and it was still warm!

More pics below.

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