The Hudson River

Today was our first kayak outing of the year, timed very nicely with the first greater-than-90-degree day of the year. We hit the water at about 2, and got off at 6, stopping twice along the way (including once to visit with my friend Nick who was working on his sailboat). 6 miles in all, about 2 of which was pushing against the current.

The Hudson River is the defining geographic element around these parts. They don't call it the Mid-Hudson Valley for nothing. 😉 Given that it is pretty amazing how few people really use the river for much. As we were kayaking along there were a bunch of things I realized that people who don't spend time on the river don't realize, so I decided I'd write them down for river neophytes out there:

  1. The River is Tidal, with Tidal delta about 3.5 in Poughkeepsie. Tidal affects occur all the way to Albany, where the river is dammed.
  2. From this, it follows that the River has saline content. Once you get a far North as Poughkeepsie, it is pretty dilute, though the area is still considered estuary, as it isn't pure fresh water.
  3. The 3.5 foot tides also mean the river changes direction 4 times a day. The river runs almost as fast upstream as downstream (over 2 mph), as anyone who's spent much time on a boat on it will tell you. The first time you realize the river is going backwards, it is definitely a shock, but as you understand it a bit more it makes sense.
  4. Whenever the river direction changes there is a very violent wave period for 30 - 60 minutes. I'm assuming the reason has to to with part of the water still making it downstream, while another part forces up. I've experienced it enough times that it is something very real, and becomes and interesting period of time to be in a kayak. 😉 I've tended to call this "the river fighting itself", but I'm sure there is a better term for it.
  5. There are a bloody lot of giant Carp in the Hudson. I'm not sure where they come from, if they winter over, or what. But they are there, and this time of the year they are breading, so are seen quite a bit.
  6. The river flushes every year. From March -> June there is a ton of debris in the river (it seems to mostly flush out come late June). The debris is mostly water logged wood, which doesn't do any harm to a kayak, but can do some nice damage to motor boat engines.
  7. There are Bald Eagles on the River. I've seen two now (one on July 4th last year), and they are pretty spectacular.

I'm sure there are other fun facts that I should add, but all of those seem to be bits that even people around here don't know. If I think of anything else good, I'll post it in future. If you've got anything else good, please stick it in comments.

Spam scoring

Every once in a while I love to look through my spam folder just to see what makes spamassassin mark something really high. Here is one that got 49 points:

A few of these I've cranked up, like MIME_HTML_ONLY, as I don't get any useful mail that is only text/html formatted. I still like that SA detects things like MIME_BOUND_DD_DIGITS. 🙂

Mercurial fun bits

I'm catching up on the mailing list for mercurial from the past couple of months. A couple really neat things in there:
* Mercurial Quick Reference Cards. These are really awesome. I've got to print out copies for all my interns on Monday, as they are just wonderfully done.
* Distributed Bug Tracking in Hg. This is based on the Bugs Everywhere concept. This looks really handy as a way of keeping todos in a source tree itself.

Ah, I love hg. 🙂

End of uptime

Well, it finally happened, the wireless driver got wedged on my laptop meaning I was done with wireless and suspend until a reboot. Final uptime was:

before I had to reboot. It did mean I could take all the kernel updates I need to, as well as update wireless drivers.

Build To Order Servers... buy from these people

We got a donation to MHVLUG a year ago, which was a stack of 2U PIII servers that were being decommissioned from a company that one of our members worked at. We sold about 1/2 of them (at really nominal price) to get machines into eager members hands, and raise a little cash for MHVLUG events (like equipment for install fests). The servers had one flaw though, the power supplies liked to commit suicide if you unplugged them. You know this has happened if you plug the box in, and just hear a clicking sound from the power supply, and the machine won't power on. 🙁 The power supplies are an odd proprietary connector (though it breaks out to standard connectors after that) so direct replacement didn't seem like an option. We swapped out PSU for those LUG members that got ones that broke, until we ran out. At which point everyone was on their own.

This hits home a bit, because I've got 2 of these boxes. 1 is serenity, which runs my wiki, but more importantly, my wedding site. That machine is fine. However, my xen test box did the suicide dive this weekend. Ominously, we are out of power supplies, and the site that we've got the wedding info on no longer has anything I could steal a supply from. This is not a good place to be in.

So over the weekend I began searching for power supplies again. While we'll never find the crazy card interface that the current PSUs have, a little further research showed that any long 2U supply should fit in the case. After much time with google I came across Build to Order Servers. It appears that they had a 2U supply that would fit in the box, output 300W (the current one is 275W), and only cost $68. So between me, and the rest of nycccp.net, we ordered 4 of those units. That was Sunday.

Monday rolls around, and I get an email from the Vendor (and, as I found out later, a phone call at home). They are out of the supply I ordered, and won't get more until July 17th. He does ask me where I'm going to be running the systems, because if it is in the US (where the power is reasonably conditioned), they've got an equivalent model which is $10 cheaper. He also asks about what my server board pins are, because the power supply is 20 + 4 pins, and most people order a 20 -> 24 pin converter with them. I respond back to him with output of dmidecode from my server board, plus the fact that it looks like I've actually got 24 + 6 pins. A couple hours later he sends me an image of a similar mother board ("is this what yours looks like?"), offering to custom mod the power supply pin outs for 24 + 6 for a small fee, and still being able to ship by Thursday if I'm ok with all of this.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is service. We're talking about a total sum of about $250 worth of equipment here, and the folks at Build to Order Servers spent a lot of time making sure that I actually got equipment that is exactly what I needed. It's rare that you see that now adays with all the crazy big box stores, so I am always astounded when someone really does give that much care for their customers.

Anyway, if you are in the market for anything Build to Order Servers has to offer, you should consider them. They went the extra mile for me on a small order, so I can't imagine they'd do any different for you.

AMD price break coming

It appears that there is an AMD price breaking coming.

This is great news, as I had almost decided on getting another bare bones system over the weekend to use as a home media server, but now will hold off until after the price break. Hopefully by then the 500 GB drives will be a little lower as well, as I'm really digging the idea of 1.5 TB storage array on GigE at home. 🙂

47 days

Ok, I'm at a month and a half on my laptop now. I'm torn between trying to get leap working again with wireless, and seeing how long this streak with last.

I think streak wins for now.

Linux on Magnia SG20


After months of false starts due to a faulty DIMM in my old desktop machine, I finally got succeeded in installing Mandriva Linux 2006 on a Magnia SG20. I can now ssh to the box, and do all the basic things one would expect to do with a Linux box. I've put together a page on my wiki with all the latest bits on this project, and how one could duplicate it. Once I start doing more useful project bits with it, I'll add those to the wiki as well.

Successed!

House Toys

Last weekend Susan and I were in Home Despot, getting a new sink for our bathroom that is being remodelled. As Susan was off considering fixtures, I roamed through the appliances section and my eye was caught by a Cobalt Blue LG Washing machine:

Really cool features about this washing machine:

• Direct Drive Motor for the Ultimate in Durability and Reliability
• SteamWash™ System for Better Washing Performance and Higher Water and Energy Efficiency
• SenseClean™ System for Intelligent Fabric Care
• Stackable with Matching Dryer

And the last one is what really caught my eye. You see, we have a rather cramped laundry room, for those who have never been to our house. A set of stackable units would let us spin them around against the back wall, and get all kinds of space back in the room. Plus, the washer and dryer are just gadgetriffic, including a little musical tune when they boot up. 🙂

I think I've resigned myself that we're getting these this year. It's definitely a little overkill, but hey, I'm a geek, and "appliance" means a whole different thing to me than the average person.