Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Drought relief

Looks like we are finally getting some relief from the drought that has plagued Colorado for the last several years. It also rained out my oldest son's Tee-Ball game last night...

I've been participating in the Community Collaborative Rain and Hail Study (CoCoRaHS) for the last year or so.It has a terrific benefit for the public, scientists and the National Weather Service. It's also hosted at my Alma Mater: Colorado State University!

Here's my data for June 2004:

CoCo RaHS Summary of Precipitation

Station  BO87   Erie 3.1 SW     40.0193   105.2911

DATE                         PRECIPITATION
                Station         Station         Station
  6/1  /2004
  6/2  /2004
  6/3  /2004
  6/4  /2004
  6/5  /2004
  6/6  /2004
  6/7  /2004
  6/8  /2004
  6/9  /2004      0.25
  6/10 /2004
  6/11 /2004
  6/12 /2004
  6/13 /2004
  6/14 /2004
  6/15 /2004
  6/16 /2004
  6/17 /2004      0.35
  6/18 /2004      0.81
  6/19 /2004      0.30
  6/20 /2004
  6/21 /2004      0.05
  6/22 /2004      0.34
  6/23 /2004
  6/24 /2004
  6/25 /2004
  6/26 /2004      0.10
  6/27 /2004
  6/28 /2004      0.36
  6/29 /2004
  6/30 /2004      0.28
Total             2.84            0            0

* indicates multi-day accumulation data

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Monday, June 28, 2004

Web Services for Weather!

Some of you may have heard of WxML in the past. This is a different approach.

The National Weather Service is providing weather data now as an XML-based web service! Check it out:

The service provides the data using the National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD)'s Digital Weather Markup Language (DWML)

NDFD XML contains forecasts for any combination of the following meteorological parameters:

  • Maximum Temperature
  • Minimum Temperature
  • 3 hourly Temperature
  • Dewpoint Temperature
  • 12 hour Probability of Precipitation
  • Liquid Precipitation Amounts (Quantitative Precipitation Forecast)
  • Snowfall Amounts
  • Cloud Cover Amounts
  • Wind Direction
  • Wind Speed
  • Sensible Weather
  • Wave Heights

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Jango Fett arrives!

​ ​​​​A few weeks ago, I got YACCO (yet another credit card offer). This one, however, offered a Master Card with your choice of Darth Vader or Yoda, in addition to a free collector's bust of Jango Fett from Gentle Giant Studios.

You may not know, but I'm a HUGE fan of both Jango Fett and Boba Fett! This was a no brainer. I got the Darth Vader card, and this weekend, I got the Jango Fett bust (number 1687/5000)! I was surprised at the quality of it. Most credit card gifts are pretty cheesy, but this bust is substantial!

Here's some more info on the bust:

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Simplified DocBook for D.C.

Norm Walsh mentioned in his blog that the folks at Idealliance will be using a subset of Full Docbook, that will be very similar to Simplified Docbook, for the XML 2004 papers this year.

That's great news! I've driven the adoption of a variant of Simplified Docbook for our support documentation on SunSolve. As Bill Joy has said in a Fortune Magazine interview,

"The hardest part isn't inventing the solution, but figuring out how to get people to adopt it."

With the fathers of XML and DocBook, and the members of various XML committees all working here at Sun, I am really surprised that we don't have more everyday folks in the business adopting XML. Imagine the power of data/content reuse and exchange if XML was mandated for use across Sun! Add to that the ebXML Registry and Repository...

Lauren Wood, conference chair, has more about the new conference DTD in her blog.

I can't seem to get travel approval these days, but I'm going to XML 2004, even if I have to pay my own way. It's too important to miss. Hopefully a number of folks from the DocBook TC will be there, so we can have a face-to-face meeting. I also understand that Jirka Kosek will be presenting a paper on Indexing in Docbook, and Norm will be presenting a paper on Extreme Docbook!

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Friday, June 25, 2004

Firefox Web Developer extension rocks!

After installing the new Firefox 0.9 for Solaris, I thought I'd mess around with adding some of the extensions that are available.

Boy, am I glad I did! For anyone that works on web pages, the Web Developer extension is a MUST! For those still on Firefox 0.8, the extension is also available.

Extension features include:

  • Disable - cookies, images, javascript, styles and more!
  • CSS - add, edit, view,etc.
  • Forms - convert GET to POST and vice versa
  • Images - show paths, alt, etc.
  • Information - view cookies, headers, etc.
  • Miscellaneous - show comments, clear auth, etc.
  • Outline - display block level elements, deprecated elements, tables, etc.
  • Resize - change display size
  • View Source - um, view source. :-)
  • Options - set validators, hot keys, etc.

Such a handy tool, I wish this had been a default preference for all browsers back during the browser wars! It would have made my life easier on a number of occasions...

I'll have to see what it can do with XML content, and also look for XML specific extensions.

Get Firefox

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Thursday, June 24, 2004

Fun with XMerge

A year or so ago, I worked with Aidan Butler on the project to improve the conversion of Star Office documents to DocBook.

My group had a requirement to use a "WYSIWYG" editor to create support content, and I have been (and probably always will be) insistent on using validated, structured markup (specifically Simplified DocBook) to describe the support content.

Star Office was our best chance, at meeting both of these requirements, because it stored the data in XML. The XMerge plugin is a set of XSL transformations that does a "best effort" conversion of Star Office to Docbook.

The problem, is that Star Office is not a validating XML editor. It does store content and presentation information in XML, but cannot force the content to conform to a specific schema or DTD.

There are a few tricks you can do with locking sections in Star Office templates to force some desired structure before the content is converted, but it may still result in invalid DocBook markup. Personally, I still prefer Arbortext Epic for working with DocBook markup.

I think WYSIWYG and semantic markup are diametrically opposed. One concentrates on "look and feel" the other on what the content means. To me, it's like the Cheaper, Better, Faster argument: Pick two. You can't have them all. Writing for semantic markup requires a paradigm shift from traditional desktop publishing that most people have been trained in. More on this in a future post...

Hopefully, the StarOffice/OpenOffice teams can introduce XML validation in future versions of the product. That may prove to be quite a challenge, though!

Thanks to bondolo for his interesting post that stirred this commentary...

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RAID on Sun Hardware

Do you know of the best way of performing RAID with Sun hardware?

I've got a buddy who is looking for a way to have duplicated data for his workstations, possibly using RAID 1 for mirroring so that each drive is standalone and able to be bootable without all the other drives attached that may use parity.

For Hardware solutions, I pointed him to:
A PCI RAID card for e250's and e450's (part number X6542A).
The A3500 which is a separate unit with a RAID controller built in.
The A1000 is an all in one disk and RAID controller solution.

On the software side:
Disksuite (included w/solaris)
Veritas / Sun Enterprise Volume Manager

Sun Hardware RAID Storage Systems Administration

As always, for system specific information, I'd check out:

and if all else fails,

Any experts with RAID using Sun Hardware have any tips?

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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

new freebXML Registry releases!

Farrukh Najmi and the freebXML Registry team (formerly ebxmlrr team) have released version 3.0-alpha2 of their royalty-free open source implementation of the ebXML Registry standard.

The new version provides most of the new features of the ebXML Registry 3.0 specifications, though the ebXML Registry 3.0 specifications are not yet final.

This is exciting because the 3.0 specs provide a lot of content management capabilities, which includes pluggable support for content-specific validation and cataloging services as well as content-based query support.

ebXML Registry v3.0 has all of the capabilities of a robust content management system, including validation, workflow, query, metadata, and even delivery for content. Also, being aware of other registries is extremely powerful, both for replication and re-use!

Given the variety of CMS systems deployed at Sun, it would sure be nice if we could standardize on this.

Check it out at:

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Monday, June 21, 2004

Trinchera, Colorado

I grew up on a ranch in southeastern Colorado. Not many people know or have heard about Trinchera, but it looks like the weather service does!

308 PM MDT MON JUN 21 2004




  AT 15 MPH.



In case you would like to visit, there is a post office (zip=81081), and about 12 residents. I used to have to ride a bus 18 miles to Kindergarten in Branson, Colorado (Go Bearcats!)

Truth be told, I was born in Raton, New Mexico, as it was a shorter drive from the ranch than going to Trinidad! I only spent those first two days in Raton, so I still consider myself a Colorado native.

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Congratulations, SpaceShipOne!

SpaceShipOne and Mike Melvill completed their historic Private Manned Spaceflight today. Congratulations! Now they just need to launch three passengers into sub-orbital space, return them safely home, then repeat the launch within two weeks with the same vehicle.

If you guys still need that third passenger, please let me know...

I can't wait for the space tourism industry to blossom. I certainly plan to be onboard when the price is right!

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Star Wars Trilogy DVD expected to sell out

Looks like the original Star Wars Trilogy is expected to sell out on DVD, so you better get your pre-orders in now!

Okay, it's not really the original Trilogy, they are the Special Edition versions, but that's all you can expect to get from LucasFilm now. I actually liked the Special Editions, as they included some details from the original books that didn't make the cut. They also rounded out some of the scenes. Empire Strikes Back had some great additions, specifically in the Wampa Cave and Cloud City.

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Friday, June 18, 2004

Java-enable THIS!

Forget what Scott McNealy said about putting a Java chip in every lightbulb. I have found a much more pressing need: Smoke Alarms.

I don't know what law in the universe requires the batteries in smoke alarms to run out just as you are just falling asleep, or when you are in a dead sleep, but it is a universal constant.

Manufacturers "helpfully" designed some of the alarms to chirp every 10 minutes until you change the battery and some they designed to fully sound off for 2 seconds and then stop before you can figure out which one needs help. All very annoying when you are sleeping blissfully.

What we need are Java-enabled smoke alarms that detect low battery levels, and then send you an email and their location or ID number. Optionally, they could place an order for their replacement, just as Scott envisioned with the light bulbs.

If there is an actual fire, er sorry "thermal event", the Java-enabled alarms could detect the smoke, and temperature increase, turn on Java-enabled emergency lighting and notify the local fire department!

All you Java evangelists and Smoke-alarm companies take note, and please make this happen soon. I'm a little short on sleep this week...

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Thursday, June 17, 2004

My second favorite type of weather

A brisk 50 degrees F, and a lovely, misting fog envelopes the Denver metro area today. As a storm chaser, I love the big lightning storms, but the mist and fog we tend to get during spring and fall in Colorado have to be my second favorite weather type.

The mist and fog makes me feel contemplative, not depressed. It also prompts me to visit Scotland all the more. Hopefully for my 10th anniversary!

I have experienced Thundersnow here in Colorado, and I wonder if there isn't such a thing as Thunderfog?

I'm glad God likes variety, too.

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DME knows the Handbook!

ongoing has already mentioned David Edmundson's project, but I must say this is the most interesting use of an E450 I have ever seen!

Glad to see he's using the Sun System Handbook E450 page if he runs into any problems, though we don't describe this particular type of environment or use.

Next, perhaps David should look at building a shock-absorbing rack mount, and a Sun Fire B1600 Blade System Chassis for expandability, hot-swapping, and more cargo space!

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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

E2900, E20K, E25K Handbook pages now available

As boston pointed out, the E2900 midrange server, and E20K and E25K high end server Handbook pages have now been released on the Sun System Handbook!

Pretty amazing that all of this information is painstakingly gathered and published by a team of three (overworked, underpaid and underacknowledged) knowledge engineers...

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Tornadoes in Colorado

Yesterday was quite the active weather day. I couldn't break away to go chasing though, because of meetings and my son's tee-ball game.

Here's a few links to tornado pics from yesterday's storms:

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Fighting with Firefox

I noticed the new binaries for Firefox 0.9 have been contributed to for Solaris, so I jumped at the chance to try it out. Unfortunately, it hasn't been as smooth as the Firefox 0.8 upgrade. When I tried to launch the browser, I got:

Error opening no such file or directory

Since I used pkg-get to install gimp earlier today, I was able to put a symlink in to point to the correct lib. I still get a Killed message in the command line, but at least it runs now!

You can switch to an alternate stylesheet on the fly in Firefox 0.9, by clicking on the artist pallette icon in the lower left corner of the browser! Very cool.

I haven't noticed a huge performance increase with 0.9, but haven't had a chance to poke around (yet). I am hoping that the binaries for Thunderbird 0.7 get contributed soon. There are supposed to be major performance increases there. Thunderbird 0.6 is great, though. The Weather plugin is a very nice feature.

The new versions for both are out for Win and Mac, so I'll have to install them on my iMac and Win boxen @ home.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Easy as pkg-get

Holy Cow this is cool! Many thanks to mabbott for this very helpful post: Some People Are Less Lazy than I

One of the easiest pkg installs I've done in a while. I didn't have to worry about any of the dependent pkgs either. It found them all, grabbed them, and installed in about a minute.

Software patches for Solaris should be this easy, and I know they are working on it, but it's still not this easy.

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From the Cool Things Norm Creates Dept: DocBot!

Norm Walsh never ceases to amaze me. Not only has he created a very useful content model in a variety of flavors, plus stylesheets to do useful things with that content, he has now brought us DocBot!

Norm added a bot to #docbook. DocBot will answer a few stylized questions about DocBook, and I think will be a nice online help addition for our internal knowledge engineers, who are creating support articles based on Simplified DocBook.

Take a look at Norm's posting on the subject at:

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Monday, June 14, 2004

Docbook in Czech!

Jirka Kosek, fellow member of the OASIS DocBook Technical Committee, has created a reference website for DocBook written in Czech!

Though I don't understand any of it, it's great to see Docbook encouraged anywhere!

Czech it out! :-)


Happy Birthday to my best friend.

Just a short post to wish my best friend, Don Morgan, a very happy birthday. (yesterday)

Don and I have been best friends since 3rd grade. That's almost 25 years now! It's a rare occurence to be blessed with such a close friendship. (Proverbs 18:24)

From Campus Journal:

How would you define the word friend? One small boy said a friend is "someone who knows all about you and likes you just same."

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the famous American essayist, said, "A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature."

According to an old Arab saying, "A friend is one to whom we may pour out all the contents of our hearts, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and blow the rest away."

Coincidentally, my friend Kent and his wife, welcomed Trevor Jackson Gregg into the world yesterday, too! Congratulations!

Categories: ,

A member of the CAST

I have been a member of CAST for a while, no not a Persona Dramatis on Broadway (though I had a cousin in the original Chorus Line...) or working for the Walt Disney company.

CAST is the Colorado All-season Spotter Team. I've been to several training sessions, and ventured out on several storm chases as part of this team.

I have been a member of SKYWARN since I originally started at Sun back in 1995. SKYWARN performs a similar public service, as far as watching the skies and reporting severe weather back to the National Weather Service offices.

CAST, however, also takes into account our severe winter weather here in Colorado.

My soul reason for getting my HAM license (KC0BAX) was to have a means of reporting severe weather as part of SKYWARN and CAST.

Now that I've lived outside of Boulder for the last 5 years, I have noticed that the Pikes Peak SKYWARN group seemed to be more active than the Denver group. It is really a shame, since there are so many weather experts in the Denver/Boulder area.

Recently on a storm chase out to Sterling, CO, I met storm chaser Tony Laubach (KCØONL). Even though we both struck out on that chase, it was nice to meet another chaser and swap information!


Friday, June 11, 2004

Knowledge is power. Sharing is empowerment.

Got the title quote from a colleague of mine, and have adopted it in my .signature:

Knowledge is power. Sharing is empowerment.

You should really check out the Sun System Handbook, if you've never seen it before. It's THE tool for field engineers, sysadmins, and Sun Hardware geeks.

The team that works on it is really top-notch, and have been working on Sun Hardware for at least 15 years! I am very priviledged to help these guys by trying to automate parts of the Handbook (Full Components List, Service Views, and more).

Historically, there have been only 3 guys creating the content for the Handbook manually in HTML. There are 3 others, including myself, that are bringing XML to the Handbook for automation.

Philosophically, I completely believe that sharing knowledge is a very good thing. That's also why Sun has started! If you know anyone working on Sun hardware, please point them to the Handbook!


Happy Father's Day (early)

My family and I were walking through the Colorado Mills outlet mall, and I begged to stop by the Lego outlet store, and I saw it...

I've been drooling over this set since it was first released. My wife said, "I was going to order this on the Lego site for you anyways for Father's Day, so let's go ahead and get it. This way we don't have to pay shipping!"

Not having to pay shipping is a very good thing. This set weighs as much as a small child!

I was able to show considerable restraint in front of my children by not jumping up and down, but I am an extremely happy man! The set was too big to fit in a bag, so I had to carry it through the mall like a very proud papa.

Interestingly enough, every male in the mall turned their heads to check it out. Most mumbled something about "is that for you, or for your kids?" My silly grin says it all...

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Thursday, June 10, 2004

[*] Jumpgate opens...

I've just taken my first foray into the blogosphere. Feels pretty good.

I've been surfing blogs for quite a while, mostly Norm Walsh's excellent blog, Slashdot, XML.COM, and more recently Wil Wheaton Dot Net.

My professional interests lie primarily in DocBook, XML, XSLT and Storm Chasing , though not necessarily in that order.

My wife always comments that I have too many hobbies, which include: weather photography, aircraft modeling, HO-gauge railroading, 25mm miniature painting, French Horn, Bass guitar, Playstation2, Star Wars Lego.

This in addition to time with my kids, wife and Church.

I'll be categorizing a lot of my posts based on the professional interests, but will throw in some hobby posts from time to time.