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The voice of practicality

Its taken me a while to get here, but I have something to admit.  It saddens me to say this, and I can’t believe I’m actually thinking about this.  Its like the voice of reason or practicality has broken thorugh my mentality about owning a 2 seater sports car in a family of 5.  Yes, you got it, I am thinking of selling my Miata and getting a more “family” oriented car.  I am NOT selling my Miata because I don’t like it, or I think there is anything bad about owning one, even in my family situation.  I just think it would be much more practical and convenient to have a 4 door family car.  I am definately going to miss the fun “zoom zoom” my Miata brought into my life.  Liz and I will both miss driving it, going on dates together in it, and all the other fun things we experienced with it. 

A few people who know me, know that I’ve had over 15 different vehicles in the last 12 years.  So I have a bit of a record of not sticking with something for long.  I assure you its not one of those “get a different car” itches.  The plan right now is to get something more comfortable for the family, something we can all fit in and go on a short trip without having to take the van.  It will be more economical, more practical, and will simply fit our family circumstances better than owning a 2 seater convertible. 

One day, when the kids are older, I will definately get another Miata, its just too much fun not to.  And for the people who scorn the Miata or men who drive them, all I can say is you must have never driven one.  Or at least never ridden in one with a driver who can handle the abilities of the car.  As for me, I’m sadly parting with my Miata, but will one day be driving one again. 

**UPDATE**

I was talking to my wife about cars and options for replacing the Miata.  My youngest daughter Abby said “Why does he want to get rid of it…I like the Miata”.  It breaks the heart!

Open Source Anti-Spam for Exchange

I have been a long time user of GFI software, relevant to this post is their Mail Essentials for Exchange package.  I find it to be a very powerful and easily setup anti-spam system for Exchange.  I have had very little trouble with it, and it is packed with useful features.  However, recently I had some configuration issues with my spam setup, with rollernet really, not even an issue with Mail Essentials, but it got me thinking about my spam filtration system. 

I am now on a quest to find an open source anti-spam solution for Exchange.  I’m open to Linux based solutions as a gateway of sorts, but would prefer something that resides on the Exchange server running under Windows.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a great respect for SpamAssassin and other gateway type spam fitlers, but it gives the end user a much better experience if the anti-spam software can interact with the user, especially if it integrates with Outlook. 

Surely there must be some kind of solution out there I could try.  At the very least I might install a few different packages under Linux and route incoming mail through them, and from there go to Exchange for evaluation.  I can use server virtualization to allow for an easy evaluation of various types of configurations.  ASSP I hear is very good and there was one other package that I found last night that sounds promising.  I think it could be beneficial to have an additional layer of spam protection at the gateway level before GFI gets the messages and does its thing.  My only concern is false positives.  Lots of services and companies on the internet today do NOT have the proper DNS/MX confiugration and even at a more basic level don’t have their network setup right.  All these network issues can have a major impact on e-mail deliverability.  Its always a risk then when dealing with spam filters that you may block legitimate messages.  I am always watching spam logs to ensure that I keep an eye on how the system is doing.  If web services and companies would do a little work to get their sytems in compliance with RFS’s for SMTP and DNS, and setup the proper network configuration and mail server options, it would be a much better world for mail delivery without false positives. 

Windows Vista Upgrade failed

Last night I was trying to upgrade to Windows Vista on my main XP computer.  I was 3/4 of the way through the installer when the install screen vanished and dropped me back to the XP desktop.  XP still seemed to work, and no matter what I tried, I could not get the installer to resume.  I had no choice but to reboot, but what I didn’t know was that Vista had already copied over its boot files and screwed with the MBR on my hard drive.  So upon reboot, I get a Vista boot loader, which goes to the setup screen, but promptly throws up an error saying (not exactly sure of wording) “Windows could not initialize the installer”.  So XP was dead at this point, sure there are some ways I could have gotten it back, but I really wanted Vista to install. 

I ended up using a Knoppix 4 bootable CD and using the file managers in linux to backup my data on my XP parition to a file share on a server in my network.  After the backup was done, I wiped the partition and loaded the full install of Vista and installed fresh on the clean XP partition.  I am not sure if I am going to go with Vista or not, so I’m installing from the media with no CD key, just to use it in eval mode.  If Liz likes it and can get used to it, we might go ahead and buy the Ultimate edition upgrade.  But for now we’ll give it a try and see how it goes.  So far its running great on my hardware, but I’m a little disappointed with the performance rating of 3.7.  I have a dual core P4 3GHz chip, 2 GB of performance DDR2 RAM, and 256MB ATI X600 PCIe video card running on a nice Abit motherboard.  I was expecting to get a score near or at a 5. 

Radiator install complete

On the way home Friday evening, I stopped by the local Advance Auto store and picked up some anti-freeze fluid for my new radiator.  I was also going to get new radiator hoses, but they don’t carry the hoses I would need for my Miata.  So I just got some shop towels and the anti-freeze.  Then I ran to sweetbay and picked up some distilled water to mix with the anti-freeze. 

When I got home, I got started right away on my task of replacing my radiator.  It took me a while to get started, as I was trying to figure out how to get access to everything I needed to get to.  At one point I thought I’d have to take off the cover under the engine compartment to get to the bottom of the radiator, but fortunatly I managed to give up on that and was able to do my job without having to remove the cover.  Getting the old radiator out took me the longest time, as I had some trouble with the lower hose which seemed stuck.  I finally got all the hoses and bolts and connections off the old radiator and pulled it out.  I installed the fans on the new radiator and then dropped it in fairly easily.  Then re-connecting a few hoses and wires and I was off and running.  I ended up doing a 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water, but only by accident.  I read online that the miata radiator takes 6.7L of liquid, so I got three gallons of distilled water and a single gallon of anti-freeze.  I got way too much fluid and ended up not even using a whole gallon of each type of liquid. 

I took the car out for a spin and made sure there were no flow problems or overheating issues.  Everything works great and it was a much easier job than I thought it would be. 

My Miata is home sick today

Last night my Miata came down with a fever and a runny nose.  I pulled into the garage to find my temperature gauge all the way to the H and white steam was starting to roll out from the engine compartment.  I immediately checked it out and found a crack in the top of my Radiator.  It was spraying out white steam from the top of the radiator. 

Since my baby was sick, I had to take Sarah to school in the van and then drive the van to work right from her school.  I was only a little late for work which wasn’t too bad. 

I checked around online for some prices for a replacement radiator and found a website radiator.com which I used to contact them about a radiator for my Miata.  They are a direct to consumer distributor, and have price matching and guaranteed lowest prices which was good.  I ended up getting a new radiator, with a lifetime warranty for my Miata for $169 with free same day delivery to my home. 

The miata.net forums have a good garage section with a guide showing step by step how to replace the radiator on your own.  So I will save a little money by doing the replacement myself.  On the way home I have to stop by an auto parts store and pickup some radiator fluid and hoses, but most likely I’ll have it all done tonight or at the latest sometime tomorrow.  I really hope I can get it fixed tonight, because Liz and I are going on a date tomorrow night to celebrate our 9th anniversary.

Microsoft SharedView

I recently stumbled across this awesome free beta of Microsoft Shared View.  This reminds me a lot of the Windows Live Meeting client, it has the same basic look to it, same type of toolbar at the top of the screen, but its a more cut down version that seems easier to use.  It does NOT have as many advanced features, but would be very handy for a variety of uses.  Right now its in a free beta stage, and hopefully it will remain a free service. 

My wife does digitial photograpgy, so this could be extremely useful for her when doing photo demo’s for clients.  With this application she could share a folder of pictures or her graphics programs and let customers see real time what she is doing.  This opens up a whole range of options for her for allowing clients to see what she is working on for them, and to interact more with them in deciding in exactly what they might want without having a need for a physical presence.

Movie update

Liz and I watched a few movies we’d never seen before this weekend. Included are:

Poseidon (2006) – was an ok movie, but Liz and I can’t take much of the mass death and disaster type stories…

Catch and release – didn’t really care for this movie, thought it would be good from the description, but it didn’t hold our interest for long. Actually watched this the previous weekend (I think).

Evan Almighty – Thought this was funny, not a terrific movie, but interesting and humorous with a fairly good sory.

I’ve been trying to find a newer romantic comedy that is something good, not some of the sleezy stuff thats been coming out. But after watching that Poseidon movie with all the death and danger, I think we are ready for a musical! 🙂

Coming up!

There are a few things I’m working on that I will hopefully be able to release on both my blog and family website soon. Here is a brief list of things I’m trying to get setup…

1. Method for web visitors to send me messages or info, perhaps post back information to my site, maybe a public category where friends and family can post messages.

2. Podcasts – We have a lot of fun doing podcasts. I hope to get the girls and Liz and I back into a somewhat regular podcast series. It would be audio only at first, probably short (under 5 minutes) and of course make you laugh.

3. Way down the road, I’d love to start doing video podcasts. This is going to take a little more thought and planning, and we don’t have the video equipment to take on this job yet.

4. Add pictures to posts – it would be nice if when I posted an update on the site if I could attach a picture to the post for a visual aid of what I’m talking about. So from now on, I’m going to try to post individual pics of the kids or relevant pictures of what relates to my post so that its not just a bunch of boring text… 🙂

5. Custom theme – at some point down the road, its inevitable that I need to try to create a custom theme for WordPress. I have up to now used freely available themes I found online and modified them for my own use. This has worked out fine so far, but its time I start looking into option to code my own theme. This would open up all kind of opportunity as to how I want the site to look, and it would be a lot of fun designing graphics and CSS for the site.

Catching up

Its been a busy two weeks and I have not posted much to my blog lately. So here is an update starting with the weekend we went to Orlando…

On Saturday October 6th we drove up to Orlando and stayed at the Hilton resort at Disney. My aunt and uncle put us up at the hotel to spend some time with them while they were in town for a conference. We got to the hotel sometime around 4:30 or so. We grabbed some dominos pizza for dinner and Liz’s sister Christina came over to visit for a while. My aunt and uncle arrived later that night and we visited for a while until after midnight.

Sunday we got up and went out to breakfast at a waffle house. Once we were done eating we headed back to the hotel to get ready to go to Downtown Disney. On the way back to the hotel, we saw an IHOP which we would have all preferred, but didn’t know was right there. We got back to the room and got ourselves ready to go and walked over to the Downtown Disney marketplace. We walked around a little and let the kids play at the lego store and checked out some neat things they had setup on the street.

The kids rode a train around a little, and we got some cute pictures of that. They also rode a merry-go-round which they always love. Then we headed over ot the Rain Forrest cafe for lunch. That place is really neat, and has a unique atmosphere and awesome decorations and effects. Every 30 minutes there is a thunderstorm and the animals go wild and they flash lights, etc. Its a lot of fun, the staff are friendly and the food was good.

We walked around a little more and ultimately headed back to the hotel to go swimming. The kids and uncle David beat us all down to the pool, and when I got there, they were already in the water. I tested the water with my toe and found it a little cold for my liking, so I took advantage of the cool breeze and occasional sun to get a little rest on a lounge chair. I had just started to doze while the kids were playing in the pool, when I was awaken by the sensation of rain drop on my face. We got our stuff together and herded the kids under an umbrella and got ourselves ready to go back into the hotel. We got back to the room and changes and visited a little more, and by this time it was after 5pm, so we decided to get ready to go soon. I think we left close to 6 or so, and the rain actually stopped which was good, because traffic would have been slow if it had kept raining. We were home before 7 and got to crash for a bit before getting all the kids off to bed.

Then this past weekend, the 13th and 14th, we actually had a nice productive time at home. Liz and I got a good amount of yard work done and trimmed bushes and cleaned up, which was good. Sunday we spent the bulk of the afternoon at Bonnie Brae park in Temple Terrace, hanging out with friends and letting our kids play. It was a very nice evening and the weather was perfect! The kids played on the playground, and the adults visited and played with their kids. It was very relaxing.

Sunday morning I had a problem with my new phone (the tilt). I set my phone to vibrate in the morning and later it went off so I pulled it out of the holster to check and the screen was all washed out and practically un-usable. I tried to call AT&T about it, but the office I needed to talk to was closed until Monday. So Monday I called and they are sending me a replacement, which I should have by tomorrow (Wednesday). I hope this is not a bad batch of phones and just a strange fluke with the individual unit I received.

Productive weekend

We had a busy but productive weekend! On Friday I had some work to do which took me until about 9:30pm; on and off a little after that or so. We watched a little TV before going to bed. Then on Saturday Liz went to a yard sale while I got the kids breakfast. We got done and loaded into the van and tried to go meet her there, to visit some friends and also for me to give Liz her cell phone which she left at home. We passed her in the Miata on her way home, but I waved her to follow me. We drove to a gas station and got some gas which both of our vehicles needed. Then once we got home we started doing some work, Liz got started on the playroom roof, scraping up the existing cauking and putting down a new layer of roof sealer. We talked to our neighbors a little while working on that project and then headed inside. We got some lunch and then headed off to Wal-Mart to buy Liz’s long overdue birthday present. We went to the New Tampa Wal-Mart and got her a nice new bike. It was pouring down rain while we were in the store, but fortunately, by the time we left it had stopped. We got home and I dropped her off at the curb by our house and she got to ride her new bike back to the house. Later that evening, I decided to start cleaning out the garage, partly beacuse it needed it and partly because we need a place to park her bike! Liz helped me and we got one side almost completely cleaned out. I’m putting out a bunch of trash tonight and we can continue working on the other half of the garage another day. Sunday we got to rest some in the afternoon and just spend time together. Liz is painting the girls room today so last night she broke down the kids bunk beds and hopefully when I get home, I’ll see a nice finished room.