Dave Noderer's Blog

September 2008 Entries

Report #16 – Final Report!

We are here! Made it past Canadian customs and headed to downtown Langley to get a hotel room, shower, decent meal and nap…

Total Time 57 hours. Can’t do it much quicker, we had the one 3 hour car repair in Sioux Falls, SD.

Marc was amazing driving, he just did not get tired. Out of the 57 hours i drove only 5-6 hours, just enough to keep us going when  Marc needed a nap.

Signing off and 73’s (as they say in ham land) thanks for following our trip!

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Report #15 – Approaching Seattle

We cleared Montana and ~ 70 miles of Idaho (way up there at the top). Marc did get a speeding ticket in Idaho 4 miles from the WA border. We both had  to give up our ID’s for a check.

it is 8:51 EDT (5:51  Seattle Time). I can only deive~ 100 mi at a time at this point. We have been on the road almost 52 hours. It’s not that I'm really tired but my eyes glaze over, especially in the dark.

Had a little incident getting gas a few minutes ago. American Express decided to trigger a security alert so i had to call, answer secret questions but the woman  gas pump computer was still waiting on authorization and was locked up. I finally just left her cash and let her figure it out.

My shirt was filthy from 3000 miles of spilled coffee so i changed all my cloths and put on some deoderant.  Marc is holding out until  we get to Vancouver which should only be a few hours away at this point.

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Report #14 – Continental Divide

Too cold to get out and pee (7C) but we just passed the continental divide,  At that point, one side flows into  the Atlantic Ocean and the other into the Pacific. Elevation 6393 Ft.

Dark but going up and down mountains and the view of Butte Montana as we cam down out of the mountains was spectacular.

573.8 mi to Exit 10 on I90  in Bellevue WA. At that  point we are almost there, just another couple hours up to Langley, BC (a suburb of Vancouver).

 

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Report #13 – The Route From Hell…

Streets and trips threw us for a 200 mile loop off of I90 West.

The good news is that the route on 59, 212 was ~ 70 mi shorter the bad news was:

  • Almost all of it was 2 lane with LOTs of big trucks  lumbering along making it difficult and dangerous to pass.
  • Something like 10 miles was total  construction after the sign “Road Ends” where a construction truck with yellow flashing lights took “convoy's” of cars and trucks through the worst and active part of construction. Luckly we went through this during daylight.
  • It went through a couple of small towns with 30 mph speed limits and suspiciously  modern looking court houses.
  • If it had been winter, the “Chain Up” designated area at the bottom of each hill would have had me very worried in our two wheel drive Blazer.
  • Even Verizon service failed 100 miles from civilization.

I sent Microsoft feedback through the feature in streets and trips!!

On the other hand it was an adventure and lots of very nice scenery and animals. We saw lots of deer, sheep, a Bentonite (is an absorbent aluminium phyllosilicate generally impure clay consisting mostly of montmorillonite.) mine and of course cows. It went by Custer National Forest and LIttle Big Horn, site of Custers Last Stand I  believe.

Some pictures of the landscape from the moving car:

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And the route from hell itself:

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Report #12 – Tip of Wyoming and into Montana

Marc is still driving since Sioux Falls, I’ll take over at the Wyoming border coming up in 163 miles. Long straight roads, very nice today 25C, sunny and Eric Clapton blasting from the Zune / car stereo, but i can only imagine what it must be like in the dead of winter with arctic storms blasting in from the north across the plains. There is some clue in this with all the road construction. For dozens of miles at a stretch they are totally replacing the lanes or removing and replacing concrete sections damaged by what I’m guessing is frost heaves. It sucks to type bouncing up and down on them.

Very pleased with Verizon service, both phone and internet connection have been pretty much solid the entire way so far.

Stopped for gas and lunch in Merdo, SD in the middle of South Dakota. It is a  small town with a bunch of houses  and businesses, what do they all do? Probably a dozen at each of the exits’ gas station/diner. Here is Marc cleaning the windshield with Lindsey at one of them:

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Oh crap, between the picture above and below (~ 20 min) i managed to break the lcd screen on my Nikon S210.I fixed an L10 before i can probably do this and know where to get the parts now!

i’m  sure they all farm, we are driving through hundreds and hundreds of miles of fame land like this:

 

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There is also a lot of “tourist” traps like the “1890 Town” where you can take pictures but all that is seasonal and not active now.

 

And current location near the “Badlands'”!

 

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Report #11 – On the road again… dah dah dah da On the road again!

After a little over 3 hours and $887.86 we are back on the road again after some breakfast and a  nap in the waiting room of Chevrolet of Sioux Falls.

We are just a few miles from I90 West then it is a  straight shot to Seattle.

 

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Report #10 – Sioux Falls South Dakota

i missed the entering South Dakota report because I’ve been driving for the past couple of hours. Some beef jerky, peanut butter crackers and a bit of a nap revived me while Marc actually started to get tired!

About 600 or 700 miles ago we started to hear some funny noises from the front left tire / wheel and by Sioux City decided we needed to stop and have it looked at.

Sioux Falls South Dakota is at the intersection of I29 on which we have been comming north since Kansas City (I think) and I90 that we are going to head west on for a long long ways.

Timing was great, it was 7:30 local time and we were the first car in the Chevy of Sioux Falls dealership,  just a block off of I29 (thanks internet!).

They are checking it out, if it will be a short repair (like an hour) we will just wait and keep driving. If it is going to be a day long repair (hopefully no longer), we will get a room in the Ramada Inn across the street and take a nap for a few hours and a shower and meal.

 

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Report #9 – Yea Ho Iowa

Marc is driving again but we are stopping more frequently. Lindsey is always happy to jump out and see how many friends she can make. I like the  20’ extendable leash that Marc has, it works  very well for letting her run around a bit.

Any times you see are EDT. 4:52 am by our  clocks but on the cell it is an hour earlier. According to Kansas City weather, sunrise is around 7am at this latitude which we are still on.

Elevation ~ 920 feet. Nice clear moon and skies, 21C (yes Marc is practicing to be Canadian).

At the last truck stop (that's what's open here in the middle of the night), we  both felt distinctly out of place with shorts and short sleeve shirts in the cool, almost cold night. Definitely nobody else is in shorts. At least i wore my Tweener shirt instead of full Hawaiian.

 

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Report #8 – Passing Kansas City

Passing Kanss City but not actually going into Kansas, looks like the highway may nip a piece of Kansas later, othewise it will be Missouri to Nebraska.

We started out with 200-250 mi chunks, then 150, then 100, i just gave up after 70 mi but Marc got a good 1/2 or more of sleep so he is good to go now.

Rolling Stones blasting!!

 

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Report #7 – Hello St Louis, MO!

We are still going but Marc is finally going to let me take a turn driving after he has driven over 17 hours.

Sunrise in Kansas City in less than 10 hours.

I think we have started planning for a Second Life Code Camp…

Less to look at now because it is dark. Light traffic, in central time zone now but we are not changing anything except the cell phones which adjust automatically.

Verizon Service both phone and internet have been working no problem all the way so far.

 

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Report #6 – Paducah, KY and into IL

Marc’s still driving although i think we will start stopping every 150 mi instead of 200, if for nothing else just to make sure we keep filled up.

Lindsey sleeping more now and i’ve tried to take a few naps.

Kentucky was pretty, mostly as you might expect in this area of the western part of the state, rolling farmland, not too many hills. The sun went down a little while ago but it is still not totally dark.

Crossing the Ohio River, going to stop in Metropolis! Marc took his contacts out and Lindsey made a few new friends (as always!).

 

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Report #5 – Kentucky Blue Grass!!

We’re still rolling, got a nice view of Nashville as we drove through at 6:15, lots of traffic and jams going south, more people live that way maybe? No problem going north on I24, a bit heavy traffic but not bad.

Cruise control just started working… We are in a 1999 Blazer that was originally belonged to wife Bobbi but went to Marc in 2002, his 2nd year of college. We were out looking for a car for him and i thought this is not right… give him the old car and buy Bobbi a new one!!

Marc is still driving, now at 13.5 hours.

Lindsey being good, now sleeping in back. She pokes her nose up front sometimes and sometimes we have to push her back but she has not been a problem.

Just passed Clarkesville (Last Train to Clarksville fame? if you remember that Monkeys’ song?), TN and into Kentucky.

 

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Report #4 Entering Tennessee

We  had a close call in Georgia, NO GAS!!! At two exits, we stopped at 6 gas stations, none of them had gas. I finally asked at BP and the manager said they had not had gas for a week. Helpfully he directed us to a Shell station on the other side of I75 that did have regular and diesel, no mid grade or high test, regular is fine for us but we were both getting worried!

Country side definitely different now with our first “mountain”. Really just a little hill but bigger than the highest rise in South Florida (the  trash  dumps).

 

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Report #2 – In Georgia

Stopping every 200 miles just to  make sure we don’t run out of gas, the gauge is broken. Lindsey the golden retriever still wondering when we are going to get to the dog park!

Each stop the dog and us get to use the bathroom and a short walk.

We have two Zune’s  full  of music and podcasts although Marc does not seem  very excited about me catching up on 50  episodes of AstonomyCast.

Marc points out we are in the bible belt with billboard advertisements featuring the fish symbol indicating that they do not persecute Christians at those  establishments!

 

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Road Trip FL to Vancouver - Report #1

Well, we are on the road, left ~ 5:30 am from Deerfield Beach, FL. Marc, Lindsey the golden retriever and I. Lindsey is very excited but has no idea that we have something like 60 hours of driving to go!

Here we are about to go!

 

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Downloaded the latest streets and trips and will keep a gps trail gong much of the time:

 

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FlaDotNet Arc Sig Virtual Meeting Report!

We held our 2nd Architecture / Agile virtual meeting last night with Adrian Wible of Thoughtworks presenting.

This was the first time I had actually been at the controls of the Live Meeting. We only decided to do this on Saturday so there was not much time for promotion and only a few showed up.

The good news is that we got to experiment with all the features I could make work including web audio, video, desktop sharing, tie in of a phone conference, recording, Q&A, shared whiteboard and chat.

Things I learned this week:

  • As a presenter, when I switch the video I'm looking at it switches it for everyone on the meeting!
  • Need to figure out the panoramic camera? I guess it is a device, I was hoping it  would stitch the individual  videos together!
  • Before trying to tie in the phone conference make sure the phone conference leader (ie me) is actually in the call or the  strings to connect will not work.
  • The web audio is delayed by quite a bit from the phone, one thought was to tie in the web audio to the phone call just for recording purposes although people would still be able to listen.
  • If on the web audio, the presenter has a lot more control over muting and audio control than on the phone call where you can only mute all or not vs being able to mute one person at time.
  • Either the presenter or the attendee can mute an attendee's audio but only the attendee can un-mute (unless I missed something there).
  • The meeting start time was strange, it correctly said the proper time but I did not catch that the daylight savings was turned off so it was GMT-5 instead of GMT-4 so that people could not get in until I reset it at just about the meeting time. Normally attendees can join 1/2 prior to the meeting.
  • Need to prepare and utilize a few generic slides with phone info, user group info, upcoming meetings, etc as a default screen until the presentation begins.
  • Apparently there is no real public chat built in but this is probably just that I don't know how to use it. We did have the Q&A session I was monitoring.

The main concern I had was how to make it much more interactive. I think it is hard for the presenter to just keep talking without the nice live feedback that an in-person meeting provides. Adrian did stop at various points to have people ask questions. Perhaps this should be much more often when on-line.

The video helps but needs to be two way, I rotated the picture a number of times and if you are using web audio, it will supposedly point to the current speaker. Not too interesting if it is a presentation.

We need a video colage!

Anyway, those are my thoughts from last nights meeting. Bottom line is I need to learn Live Meeting better.

Thanks to the MVP program for making the live meeting available and to Jeff Barnes for his phone conference line!

Road Trip... Deerfield Beach, FL -> Vancouver, BC Canada

My son, "Dr Marc" as he likes to be called now, a newly minted dentist, is headed to Vancouver, BC for his first job.

If all goes well, Marc, his golden retriever Linsey and I will take off in his 1999 Chevy Blazer for the 3500 mile drive to Canada.

Planning the trip, this looks like the fastest route:

FLtoBC_Plan

 

If all goes well we will leave very early on Monday, September 22, 2008.

I'm going to try and gps track it with Streets and Trips all the way and post our progress. I'll find out how much of the way is covered by Verizon broadband.

Give my daughter a job!

My 22 year old daughter just graduated from University of Florida with a BA in English with minor in Film Studies!

 

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Anybody have a job for her?

1st South West Florida Code Camp was great!

Great job done by John Dunagan and his team. You would never guess that it was their first code camp. Got to hang out and meet some great new people who helped with the code camp:

  • Amy Hatfield
  • Eric Sarjeant and Denise Ramirez-Sarjeant
  • Kevin Barnhill
  • Frank Salinas
  • Brooke Joseph
  • Adam Broadbent and Rachel Ribbeck-Broadbent

Of course I have to thank John his name at our South (East) Florida code camp is the "ICE MAN" because he always come over and does the run for 20 or 30 bags of ice for us.

Bob Suess (Joe Healy's boss's boss) gave a good talk about some existing and upcoming initiatives from Microsoft all related to encouraging more young people in the US to consider careers in software development, IT and related technical disciplines.

Brook Joseph was running the Open Space and the first session we had was an Open Space on Open Spaces. The notes I took are below. I'm hoping to have a good open space organization by the time our code camp roles around in February.

  • Brooke Joseph, Dave Noderer, Adam Broadbent
  • Before
    • Announcements ahead of time
    • Is it good to pre-reserve space?
    • Interactive, passionate about subjects
    • Present or discuss
    • Let speakers know that the space is available, use it a session followup?
      • Extended Q&A
    • No Speaker room
      • Get everyone to hang out in the main
      • Provide very small room if someone really needs to prepare
  • During
    • Signage in hall ways, dynamic display, update frequently, invite everyone
    • Easels with current open space activity
      • Requires a volunteer
    • Run Registration in open space area
    • Record it??
    • Web based live slide
      • Sponsors
      • Open space schedule / reminder
      • Last minute changes
      • Silverlight page driven off of web service
  • Post Event
    • Publish notes?
    • Links to blogs?
  • From 2008 Tweener weekend:
    • Open Space: Make people go to the open space, either have the registration there or force them to go visit in order to get coffee, schedules, etc.
    • Open Space: Organize the open space (assuming a large area) with the vendors, information, user groups, and other organizations in the middle so that people can take a "tour" so it would be clear where to go.
    • Open Space: Make sure there are specific tables for event information and user groups. Or more than one user group table even if someone wants to staff it.
    • We had the corners setup with small seating areas and a large plasma screen for presentations. Make sure you get some things scheduled in advanced and publicized so that there will always be something going on while still leaving open slots for dynamic scheduling.
    • Open Space: Create a dynamic scheduling tool so that when people sign up for it is all automatic (From Nikita who ran the open space).

 

Some pictures I took of the event..

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A few more can be found at: http://cid-e8348157304bce63.skydrive.live.com/browse.aspx/20080913%7C_SWFloridaCodeCamp

Softrock radio kit build progress...

Making progress, probably 60% completed, all tests look ok so far.

 

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Also building  up my equipment. I purchased a used Tektronix 465 Oscilloscope on eBay for $100. For many years I used this in the  lab but have not really touched hardware for 18 years now. A 465 use to be my right hand when I spent time daily in the lab. As I remember when we purchased them new, they were a few thousand dollars in the mid 80's. It is definitely aging but will work  fine for the frequencies into 10's of megahertz I'm going to be using for now. There are a  number of oscilloscope "heads"  with USB interfaces and software that will run on  Windows but the cheap ones have no bandwidth and the good ones start at $1000 and go up, definitely not in line with my budget for this hobby!

 

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One thing I'm a bit uncomfortable with is winding the coils and transformers. They are the  little copper colored items on the band pass filter you can see above.  You have to just make sure you wind exactly to specification because measuring inductance into the 10's of nano henries is basically impossible with the type of equipment I have.... Well not quite, there are meters for fairly cheap which go into the micro henry range and beyond that you really have to build a tuned circuit with a known capacitance and measure the frequency after doing the math.

The  state of "hobbyist" software defined radio seems to be stuck on pure C libraries and  Linux OS. Starting to look at some of the windows embedded as a possible driver for future endeavors.

Another discovery, and no surprise, is that working under 50 Mhz is one thing and I can do that fairly easily but to get up into the 2-100 ghz range, it is a whole different ball game. At that point I think the thing will be to purchase sub-assemblies and figure how to glue  them together with software. At that point you can't even have wires, everything is on carefully calculated PC boards and integrated circuits.

That's all for now.