A web site with everything you can get.

I was tuning around my scanner the other night when I picked up an amateur radio broadcast with two ham operators engaged in a friendly chat. One operator had just updated her web site with a section devoted to ham radio and decided to do a plug for it on the air. The web site is called Everything You Can Get, and it has some useful stuff such as sports news, advice from the site’s author and a countdown timer that actively counts down the days until the start of the new school year.

Where the wild things heal.

Just down the street from where I work is the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, where injured and orphaned wildlife are brought in for some tender loving care from the staff there. It’s almost like a zoo with various specimens of wildlife living in luxury in their large, well-furnished cages with plenty of room to roam. It’s the perfect place to take the kids to have a little fun learning about nature and our place in it.

Moving offline files offline.

One of my first tasks at work was to create home folders on the server for the users to store their data. This data would then be backed up every night to the server’s tape drive.
My boss had tons of data to move to his new home folder but ran into a problem. His computer was set to use offline synchronization to allow access to his data should the network be down. The files were stored in a cache that was eating up his hard disk space and left him with only 24MB of free space. His computer has a second hard drive that has way more free space available for storing the cache. He wanted me to move the offline file cache to the second drive but Windows has no options for moving the cache there.
I did a quick search online and found a program called Cachemov, which is part of Microsoft’s resource kit, but can be downloaded from all over the web. It’s a very small program but it handled the task of moving the cache very nicely. As a result, my boss now has 37 gigabytes free on his hard disk, which pleased him greatly. That alone made for some serious job security.

Computer problems and sewage.

I work at a sewer treatment plant where I work in the operations department as a computer coordinator. I will be in charge of maintaining the computer systems there as well as fixing any problems that arise. This promises to be some seriously cool work ahead.
I spent the first few weeks hanging out with the staff and got to see what they do. I even got a grand tour of the plant, which utilizes state-of-the-art equipment to treat the sewage. This equipment is monitored by a computer in the operations building, where operators can monitor everything that goes in in the plant and remotely make adjustments to the machinery to improve their efficiency.
Needless to say, I got to visit the building where the raw sewage enters the plant and it smells absolutely sickening in there. But it’s the start of a fascinating process that eventually strips the water clean and ready for re-use. At the back of the plant are some huge ponds where the recycled water ends up, ready for irrigation into some of the nearby golf courses. It’s so rewarding to work for an establishment that’s helping the environment.
I will post solutions to whatever computer problems I will encounter at work. Hopefully they will help you too, provided that no raw sewage comes pouring out of your computer.

Scuba diving at night.

During my scuba trip to the Turks and Caicos Islands some 10 years ago, I got a taste of night diving. It is totally different from day diving. When you dive during the day, you take the sun for granted as it illuminates the reef, preventing you from becoming disoriented. However, at night, it feels like entering a dark void with no respect for your senses. If it weren’t for your trusty compass and your flashlight, you can easily get confused and get separated from your dive group.
The sun was still setting when my dive group boarded the boat, but when it reached the dive site, it was dark. That did enough to set the mood. Just what would be lurking down there?
We all turned on our flashlights and dove in. Once we reached the bottom, the sight of some 12 beams of light moving in random directions was a sight in itself. We all stayed together and explored the nearby reef.
The dive was eerie but fascinating. As I swam close to the reef, I saw some tiny fish lurking near the coral that were attracted to the light. These fish were everywhere, staying close to the coral. I also saw a large grouper, a fish with a reputation for being extremely friendly. However, this particular grouper was anything but friendly. It darted away from me when I touched it.
We continued diving along the darkness, exploring the wall of coral. The only light we had was where the flashlight beams were concentrated, and since there were about 12 of us on this dive, we had adequate lighting to get a sense of the area. I cannot imagine how it would be if there were two people on a night dive, let alone one. I’m glad I didn’t go alone. Going alone is never a good idea anyway.
As the dive progressed on, I got the sensation of being on a hill on a foggy night watching a group of villagers with flashlights pass by. No wonder it is easy to get disoriented during a night dive. Still, I stuck with the dive group as we slowly made our way back to the dive boat.
That was the one and only time so far I’ve tried night diving. It was eerie but a very rewarding experience. I would definitely go again.

… and a small web browser.

Speaking of small programs, you ought to check out the Off By One web browser, quite possibly the smallest web browser ever. It’s only 1MB zipped. It uses your computer’s memory for caching, so it’s also very fast. When you’re done surfing, exit the program and your surfing tracks disappear without a trace.
One thing to keep in mind is that Off By One does not support Flash or javascript, which is a good thing. Without these two annoyances, you won’t get any annoying Flash ads or pop-ups. Needless to say, Off By One still comes in handy for some quick and dirty web surfing. As if there weren’t enough dirty sites out there.

Small PDF readers…

Whenever you see a link to view a PDF file residing on a web site, there’s a very good chance you’re going to see a link to download the Adobe Reader, that bloated piece of software that takes too long to download and just as long to run.
It’s too bad that not everyone’s aware of some additional PDF readers that are way smaller and run much faster.
Cool PDF Reader holds the title of the smallest PDF reader ever. It’s only 655KB installed and runs extremely fast. This is pretty good for basic PDF viewing.
As cool as Cool PDF Reader is, I prefer the slightly larger Foxit Reader. It has more features than Cool PDF Reader, including the handy form filler. At 1.5MB, it’s still a small download and runs in a flash.

Hurricane season is underway.

Today is the first day of hurricane season and it’s already off to a fast start. We’ve got Tropical Storm Barry which is currently soaking Florida with some badly needed rainfall. It’s been raining nonstop all day, which is quite a pleasant way to end the drought here.
This has been the worst drought I have ever been through. It’s nerve-wracking to see how low the water level has reached at the canals near where I live. I can’t even stand to read the paper about the drought’s effects on Lake Okeechobee, let alone see the horrifying photos of mud puddles in areas that once had enough water to accommodate boaters. I am happy that Nature has finally started the healing process on our fragile ecosystem.

TROPICAL STORM BARRY ADVISORY NUMBER 1

WTNT32 KNHC 012035
TCPAT2
BULLETIN
TROPICAL STORM BARRY ADVISORY NUMBER 1
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL022007
500 PM EDT FRI JUN 01 2007

…TROPICAL STORM BARRY FORMS IN THE GULF OF MEXICO…

AT 5 PM EDT…2100 UTC… A TROPICAL STORM WARNING HAS BEEN ISSUED
FOR THE WEST COAST OF FLORIDA FROM BONITA BEACH NORTHWARD TO KEATON
BEACH…AND A TROPICAL STORM WATCH HAS BEEN ISSUED FROM NORTH OF
KEATON BEACH TO ST. MARKS. A TROPICAL STORM WARNING MEANS THAT
TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED WITHIN THE WARNING AREA
WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS AND A TROPICAL STORM WATCH MEANS THAT
TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE WITHIN THE WATCH
AREA…GENERALLY WITHIN 36 HOURS.

FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA…INCLUDING POSSIBLE
INLAND WATCHES AND WARNINGS…PLEASE MONITOR PRODUCTS ISSUED
BY YOUR LOCAL WEATHER OFFICE.

AT 500 PM EDT…2100Z…THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM BARRY WAS
LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 24.2 NORTH…LONGITUDE 85.5 WEST OR ABOUT 320
MILES…520 KM…SOUTHWEST OF TAMPA FLORIDA AND ABOUT 235 MILES…
375 KM…WEST OF KEY WEST FLORIDA.

BARRY IS MOVING TOWARD THE NORTH NEAR 12 MPH…19 KM/HR. A GRADUAL
TURN TO THE NORTH-NORTHEAST WITH AN INCREASE IN FORWARD SPEED IS
EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 24 HOURS.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 45 MPH…75 KM/HR…WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN STRENGTH IS ANTICIPATED BEFORE
BARRY REACHES THE COAST.

TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 90 MILES…150 KM
MAINLY TO THE NORTH AND EAST OF THE CENTER.

MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE REPORTED BY A RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT WAS
1000 MB…29.53 INCHES.

COASTAL STORM SURGE FLOODING OF UP TO 3 TO 5 FEET ABOVE NORMAL TIDE
LEVELS…ALONG WITH LARGE AND DANGEROUS BATTERING WAVES…ARE
POSSIBLE IN THE WARNING AREA NEAR AND TO THE RIGHT OF WHERE THE
CENTER OF BARRY MAKES LANDFALL.

BARRY IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE TOTAL RAINFALL ACCUMULATIONS OF 3 TO 6
INCHES OVER THE FLORIDA KEYS AND PENINSULA INTO SOUTHEASTERN
GEORGIA WITH POSSIBLE ISOLATED MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF 10 INCHES.

REPEATING THE 500 PM EDT POSITION…24.2 N…85.5 W. MOVEMENT
TOWARD…NORTH NEAR 12 MPH. MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…45 MPH.
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…1000 MB.

AN INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY WILL BE ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL HURRICANE
CENTER AT 800 PM EDT FOLLOWED BY THE NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY AT 1100
PM EDT.

$$
FORECASTER AVILA
WWWW