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Brew Pub

Brew Pub

As seen in Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania.

 

Always There

HPIM1862

Dad is a man of few words, but his integrity speaks throughout his life. His work life is above reproach and his financial skills are trusted by many leading men in his industry. His work ethic is astounding; I could never imagine him taking the easy path when the project requires otherwise. When remodeling the house, he always fits everything correctly and uses the proper tool for the job. If it will take more time, so be it–it has to be done right.

One summer, a college friend and I spent a few days helping Dad rebuild the back fence. Dad was very careful to guide us in building the fence properly–using screws instead of nails, lining up the posts precisely, and using foot boards to make the fence last longer. We could have built the fence cheaper or more quickly, but Dad’s deep commitment to quality and craftsmanship overruled.

Finished Fence

Dad’s main priority, for as long as I can remember, has been to secure the future for his children. He’s enabled each of us to pursue high quality education and careers fitting to our personalities, skills, and interests. He’s worked many long hours to make sure that, as long as we were under his care, we would not have to worry about food or shelter. Our home was always safe and comfortable.

In college, I was certainly not a model student and my grades rarely met up with anyone’s expectations. But, I still graduated and had a career lined up for after college. At the end of the commencement ceremony, I vividly remember his words: “I’m proud of you.”

Graduation

As an adult, we’ve had various success at connecting on a personal level. When I got into bicycling, that was a great shared experience that we both tremendously enjoyed. Battling against heat, wind, and even torrential rain helped us bond in new ways.

Wild Ride

Whether it be job seeking, car shopping, house buying, financial planning, home repairs, career decisions, or any number of other topics, Dad has counseled me with advice and suggestions.  Before and after every job interview I’ve ever had, I’ve called Dad for clarity and wisdom on how to proceed. He has always been just a phone call away.

Thinking about it now, I have never had the slightest doubt that Dad wouldn’t be there when I need help or advice. It’s almost an unspoken guarantee that he’ll do whatever it takes to help when any of our family is in need.

Happy New Rear Ride

Dad’s influence in my character has been subtle, but significant: he has incrementally shaped who I am. I strive for the same integrity and work ethic that he has exemplified. And someday I hope that I can always be there for my kids like Dad has been for me.

Dad

I love you, Dad.

Rusty Programmer

My secret admission: I’m a rusty programmer.

In high school, I compiled my own kernels in Linux, bundled & contributed packages for Debian, wrote extensive documentation for Jabber, and hung out with some brilliant programmers. On the side I learned the basics of PHP and MySQL to build my own little sites and help maintain jabber.org.

Microcomputer In Action!

Microcomputer In Action!

In college, I enjoyed and did well in Data Structures class. We delved into C++ structures, objects, and pointers. I found I was good at thinking like a programmer and solving programmer problems. But, for various reasons I decided to switch over to Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering to pursue circuit design and embedded processors.

After college, I found an interesting niche that fit my skills well: manufacturing automation. But the tools are way different than the rest of the programming world. At the lowest level is PLC programming with ladder logic and PID loops (which I learned about in mechatronics class). Higher up, is HMI design with light scripting. Even higher in the food chain is various Microsoft-related platforms (Reporting Services, custom .NET controls) and business connectivity (think SAP).

Making Liquor

Making Liquor

At this point in my career, I’m pretty adept at technologies that are only known in manufacturing such as Rockwell RSLogix ControlLogix, Wonderware ArchestrA, Wonderware InBatch, and, of course, Wonderware InTouch. I can put together pretty much any application a factory might need to run their machinery, monitor equipment, and evaluate line performance.

A few rungs of PLC logic

A few rungs of PLC logic

Over the last decade while I’ve been building factories, I’ve been reading all the web development and iOS/Mac blogs. Ruby on Rails has sprung up, MVC-style platforms are abundant, and everyone has learned Objective-C.

I feel like I missed the bandwagon. Off over here in the strange sideshow of manufacturing. Sure, every factory in America runs Wonderware or Rockwell software…but there’s no StackExchange for manufacturing software, and there’s barely any mention of these technologies on Twitter or ADN. In short, there’s not really any public community.

I have urges to design and create things that the world can see…but I’m rusty. I don’t know how to make an iOS app, or even install Ruby on Rails. I don’t fully grok git (but my coworkers are finally adopting Subversion!).

I’m not complaining. I have a solid career that is very valuable and useful. But, I’ve let my “real” programming skills get rusty. And programming seems to have changed a lot in the past 10 years. There’s a lot of new concepts I am not familiar with and a lot of terminology I have to look up. Scripting in Wonderware products is basic and simplistic. My latest achievement was to write a function to parse a string that looks like an array (because InTouch–a 20+ year old product–doesn’t have array capabilities).

6-9-2013 11-46-36 PM

At the moment, I’m often baffled by JavaScript and I never got very far in my iPhone 3.0 (!!) programming book (gosh it’s hard to not skip boring bits).

But… when I tear apart WordPress themes and plugins, my old PHP knowledge starts to resurface. (I’m still amazed at how quick and dirty you can make things with PHP.) I’ve been running WordPress sites for a long time, and have become very familiar with modern themes and how to manage these sites. And recently I’ve realized that this might be the very outlet that I can create things that I own…even if they are small at first.

Setting up this site was an important little step–it’s nice to be able to have my own space to play and write and create. I’ve been connecting with some WordPress developers in real life and on ADN, and it’s nice to start plotting an alternate course.

Here’s to the future.

A Lake Walk

Spring makes a surprise appearance

Spring makes a surprise appearance

Twice a day I take Drake the Dog for a walk or jog. Most of the week I just do some loops around my neighborhood. White Rock Lake is just a few miles away, though, so I’ll often shake things up and take him for a walk there.

Morning Mist

Morning Mist

Rarely can I visit the east side of the lake without taking a photo. Whether it’s early in the morning when the mist is still in the air, or in the late evening when the sun sets over downtown.

Good evening

Good evening

I can hardly resist that gorgeous sky.

A slick shave

Straight Edge

Straight Edge

I’ve been a safety razor guy for almost 5 years now. I love it. The blades are insanely cheap ($5.50 for a 10 pack) and last a month (at least). I love the old-school use of a brush and soap. I also love that it takes time to perfect the technique. The whole process feels like a lost art that feels good to learn and work on…a little ritual that gets the day started right.

When I first started learning to “wet shave”, the Shave Tutor on YouTube was a huge help. Just reading how to use a safety razor doesn’t cut it (hah). Watching how he holds the handle and moves across the face was very helpful. Now it’s second nature.

I have come across a few products that I love. The first is a nice shave oil like this one by American Crew. I have happy with pretty much any soap for the foam; they last forever, so I don’t remember where I bought the last one. I still occasionally cut myself, especially after not shaving for a week, so a styptic pencil is critical. Finally, I love to use some old school after shave applied with cotton swabs.

When I can’t use my safety razor (on business trips…TSA doesn’t like those blades), I simply use Jack Black Beard Lube as my shave cream with a 3-blade Shick. Incredible stuff. When I’m in a rush at home and don’t want to do the soap lather, I also use the Beard Lube along with the safety razor.

Pruning

Freshly Pruned

The past few months have been very hectic and stressful for me. I’ve been traveling a lot for work and juggling too many commitments at home.

When I’m out of town for an extended period, I enjoy the forced opportunity to disconnect from the normal stream of life. Sometimes when I come back I’m ready to jump right back into it all. Other times, though, I see that I’ve drifted away from the bigger picture.

I’ve recently picked up Enough by Patrick Rhone, and I’m feeling–to use the Christian cliché–convicted to do some serious pruning in my life.

(photo via the Enough website…a Kindle edition is less photogenic)

I come home to find my days and weeks too fractured, my house full of clutter I don’t actually need, and my money soaring off in a million directions.

Pairs well with coffee

Pairs well with coffee

This weekend as I sat on a porch in Carmel Valley, soaking in the beautiful weather and scenery, and sipping on a fresh cup of coffee, I finally recognized that my life just has too much and I need to do something about it. I’ve let myself drift over the past few years, and have to reel things back closer to the elusive enough line. It’ll probably hurt.

Migrating from Blogger to WordPress

Last week, I helped The Pondering Cyclist migrate from Blogger to WordPress. He uses his own domain name. I learned a few things along the way that existing tutorials didn’t seem to capture correctly.

On a Temporary Local Server

  1. Set up a temporary WordPress on your own computer. This is easy with XAMPP and such.
  2. Run the Blogger import in Tools > Import.
  3. Install SEO Blogger to WordPress
  4. Go to SEO Blogger to WordPress under Tools.
  5. Check Download Interlinked Images? and then click Download.
  6. Depending on the size of your blog and number of images, you may want to go grab a cup of coffee.
  7. If the server times out, go back and hit Download again. It will pick up where it left off.
  8. Repeat previous step until you get the message that says “Download Successful”.
  9. Click “Clear Temporary Settings”
  10. Use the PHP script that this website shows for “Fixing permalinks for imported post”. This is important.
  11. Run the WordPress Export from the temporary system

On the Destination Server

  1. Copy the upload/ directory to your destination server
  2. Set the permalinks structure to be /%year%/ %monthnum%/ %postname%.html
  3. On your destination WordPress site, install the ReadyMade WordPress Importer
  4. Go to Tools > Import > ReadyMade WordPress Importer and upload the Export file. Tick the box to import images.
  5. If the import just ends up on a white screen, you may need to split the XML file into smaller portions. Try splitting up the images and posts. I had to do that & then the Media one had to be re-run several times to get them all. Keep refreshing after the browser stops loading until you get “All done. Have fun!”
  6. I wanted to use the /%year%/ %monthnum%/ %postname%/ style of Permalinks, so I added a Rewrite rule to change the .html calls to the nicer WordPress style. I also added the other Rewrite rules that this post suggests.
    • RewriteRule ^([0-9]{4})/([0-9]{2})/(.*)\.html?$ $1/$2/$3/ [R=301,L]

All done! Shoo!

The key for me was doing the first half on a local machine. I kept running into time-out errors and incomplete data when doing this straight on the destination server.

May Reading List

Little Free Library

Little Free Library

Sites I’m enjoying lately:

Books I’m enjoying:

Articles that I read this month that stood out:

Feel free to share in the comments anything interesting or engaging that you’ve been reading.

Reboot

I have blogged on-and-off since the late 90s when I first got Internet (hello, 10 hours a month!). I migrated around from LiveJournal, Advogato, my own site running Movable Type, and Tumblr. In college it was cathartic to write about my depression and frustrations with life. It was nice to connect with others in that way as well. As I connected with more people in person, my need for open journaling subsided. The rise of Facebook also helped me share things that I wanted my friends to see. 

Taking a break

Taking a break

The past few years, though, I’ve started writing about bicycling on various sites. My most interesting articles have been for Biking in Dallas, where I have free reign to write about anything I want related to bicycling. I’ve enjoyed putting together photo stories of rides and adventures.

Dallas

I have been wanting a place to call my own and establish a public (i.e. non-Facebook) presence again. As I’m looking into getting a real camera again, too, I thought this would be a good time to reboot my long-held domain. I’ll be keeping a current list of writings from elsewhere on my Writings page.

For now, I’m thinking about writing up a post about the 3 weeks I spent in Malaysia.

Hawker

Hawker

Hope you’ll stay tuned.

By the way, I’m enjoying using App.net over Twitter. I’ll likely dump Twitter soon; it’s always just irritated me. If you need an invite, let me know.

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