Monthly Archives: December 2011

2011 Resolution List

For 2011 I had three reading goals:

Complete unfinished novel series.

    1. DONE – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4) – Rowling, J.K.
    2. DONE – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5) – Rowling, J.K.
    3. DONE – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6) – Rowling, J.K.
    4. DONE – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7) – Rowling, J.K.
    5. DONE – Chainfire (Sword of Truth, #9) – Terry Goodkind
    6. DONE – Phantom (Sword of Truth, #10) – Terry Goodkind
    7. DONE – Confessor (Sword of Truth, #11) – Terry Goodkind
    8. DONE – Children of the Mind (Ender’s Saga, #4) – Orson Scott Card
    9. DONE – A War of Gifts (Ender’s Saga, #5) – Orson Scott Card
    10. DONE – Ender in Exile (Ender’s Saga, #6) – Orson Scott Card
    11. DONE – Shadow of the Hegemon (Shadow Series, #2) – Orson Scott Card
    12. DONE – Shadow Puppets (Shadow Series, #3) – Orson Scott Card
    13. DONE – Shadow of the Giant (Shadow Series, #4) – Orson Scott Card
    14. DONE – The Harsh Cry of the Heron (Tales of the Otori, #4) – Hearn, Lian
    15. DONE – Heaven’s Net is Wide (Tales of the Otori, #5 Prequel) – Hearn, Lian
    16. DONE – Prelude to Foundation (Foundation: Prequel, #1) – Asimov, Isaac
    17. DONE – Forward the Foundation (Foundation: Prequel, #2) – Asimov, Isaac
    18. DONE – Foundation and Empire (Foundation, #2) – Asimov, Isaac
    19. DONE – Second Foundation (Foundation, #3)  – Asimov, Isaac
    20. DONE – Foundation’s Edge (Foundation, #4) – Asimov, Isaac
    21. DONE – Foundation and Earth (Foundation, #5) – Asimov, Isaac
    22. DONE – The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Hitchhiker’s Guide, #2) – Douglas Adams
    23. DONE – Life, the Universe and Everything (Hitchhiker’s Guide, #3) – Douglas Adams
    24. DONE – So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (Hitchhiker’s Guide, #4) – Douglas Adams
    25. DONE – Mostly Harmless (Hitchhiker’s Guide, #5) – Douglas Adams

Complete the first 25 of the BBC The Big Read Top 100.

    1. DONE – Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
    2. DONE – Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
    3. DONE – Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
    4. DONE – Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
    5. DONE – Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
    6. DONE – Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
    7. DONE – The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
    8. DONE – The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
    9. DONE – Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
    10. DONE – Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
    11. DONE – Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernières
    12. GAVE UP – War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
    13. DONE – Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

Goodreads 2011 Reading Challenge: Read 52 books (Raised from 50 to 52 on Oct 21) Read 56.

Not Your Oprah’s Book Club (FacebookGoodreads) selections:
(Facebook page for Athens book club)

    1. DONE January- True Grit – Charles Portis
    2. DONE February – As She Climbed Across the Table – Jonathan Lethem
    3. DONE March – Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret – Judy Blume
    4. DONE March – Then Again, Maybe I Won’t – Judy Blume
    5. DONE April – No One Belongs Here More Than You – Miranda July
    6. DONE May – Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story – Isabel Gillies
    7. July also in BBC list above Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
    8. DONE August – And Then There Were None – Christie, Agatha
    9. DONE September – The Floatplane Notebooks – Clyde Edgerton
    10. DONE November – The Book of Lost Things – John Connolly


    1. A Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
    2. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
    3. Steppenwolf – Hermann Hesse
    4. DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education – Anya Kamenetz
    5. Being Geek – Michael Lopp
    6. The Next Fifty Years – Brockman, John
    7. The Road – McCarthy, Cormac
    8. Native Son – Richard Wright
    9. Gardens of the Moon – Steven Erikson
    10. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Resolutions 2011 DONE

Today is the 365th day of the year, so at the end, here is an update on my resolution progress.

    1. Complete unfinished novel series. At the previous update, I reported finishing the all the series on the list and adding a few more series. These additions are also done.
    2. Complete the first 25 of the BBC The Big Read Top 100 (from 2003). Pride & Prejudice, Great Expectations, Jane Eyre, Wind in the WillowsCatch-22, Gone With the Wind, Catcher in the Rye, Little WomenCorelli’s Mandolin, Birdsong, Wuthering Heights, and Rebecca are all done. War and Peace is the only one on which I gave up finishing.
    3. Attend more social events when invited. While I did not attend everything, I did attend more.
    4. Goodreads: Read 50 books. Done with 55.

These were pretty much abandoned:

    1. No more complaining about Blackboard, Inc. Because my employer entered a process to pick between Blackboard and its competitors, I really had to go quiet. It was not me the individual as me the serf.
    2. Go away more. Early in the year, I just got in car and started driving. I ended up in the next state. There were a few more trips like this. Then there was the wedding of friends and a work trip. It was not specific enough, maybe? Perhaps I needed a list of places to go?

I still need to figure out what I will do for 2012.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Quotes That Make You Think: Collected for Second Half 2011

More quotes for Quotes to Make You Think collected over the past year.

Treat everyone as a gentleman. Not because they are, but because you are. — Ed Sabol.

I don’t know what they are called, the spaces between seconds– but I think of you always in those intervals. — Salvador Plascencia

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand. — Woodrow Wilson

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. — Beverly Sills

Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome. — Isaac Asimov

Nothing travels faster than light, with the possible exception of bad news, which follows its own rules. — Douglas Adams

It is remarkable how similar the pattern of love is to the pattern of insanity. — Merovingian, The Matrix Revolutions

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. — Steve Jobs, passed Oct 5, 2011

Tina Fey did for glasses what J.Lo did for asses. — Jon Stewart

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. — Mark Twain

We’re at our best when we’re placing important parts of ourselves into what we build. — rands, aka Michael Lopp

A mind dedicated to compassion is like an overflowing reservoir: it is a constant source of energy, determination, and goodness. You could compare compassion to a seed. If you cultivate it, it makes an abundance of other excellent qualities blossom, such as forgiveness, tolerance, inner strength, and confidence, allowing us to conquer fear and anxiety. The compassionate mind is like an elixir: it has the strength to turn adverse situations into beneficial circumstances. — The Dalai Lama

Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation. — Walter Cronkite

The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible. — Arthur C. Clarke

How glorious it is – and also how painful – to be an exception. — Alfred De Musset

Thanks to AlinaAll Great Quotes, Heather, Marisa, Michael Lopp, Ramona, Goodreads Quotes

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Book: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I understand the Swedish title translates into the The Men Who Hate Women. That is a more appropriate title. Though, I would imagine such a title would hurt sales in England and the USA. Each part has a statistic regarding violence against women in Sweden. I was not quite prepared for this. A very faithful to the book movie would be NC-17.

Reading the graphic violence made me feel sad. Also difficult is the intertwining of attraction and love with hurt and anger. The hero and heroine are tragic-ish. The villains are sadistic. No character has an easy to understand relationship with another. Everything is complicated by something. Well, okay not Vanger and his right hand man Frode. That was only simple boss and employee.

Salander is a goth, hacker, perceived sociopath. (She acts more sociopath than she is.) My adolescent reading was perhaps too much TSR novels about D&D settings. Women were strong. Salander evokes a toughness she would rip those other women apart.

I am glad to have read the book. Now. Can I take the movie?

View all my reviews

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Big Bad Blip

I was at lunch last week when I saw pages about a failed monitoring checks on one of our sites. My coworkers were working on CE/Vista SP6 upgrades. Though it was one upgraded yesterday. When I returned to the office, I asked about it. Exactly 24 hours to the second after checking the license in yesterday’s final start, the JMS node failed a license check four times about a minute apart. On the fourth failure, it started a shutdown of the node. Others in the cluster did as well.

Fortunately, a coworker caught it soon enough to start them again so not enough were shut down the load balancer would stop sending us traffic. Also, this was between terms so we did not have a normal work load.

Still, JMS migrated. That made Weblogic edit the config.xml and probably left the cluster in a weird state. So I set cron to shutdown the cluster at 4am, copy a known good config.xml into place, check the config with our monitor script (pages if bad), and start the cluster. That was a disaster. Various nodes failed their early The startup started the admin node, but the JMS failed to start. So I was paged about it still being down when it ought to have been running.

My 6:30 am starts failed for the same reason: bad encrypted password in My only idea how to fix this was a coworker had mentioned having to re-install an admin node for a security error. So I called the coworker. I explained the problem and the solution I really did not want to take. She looked at the error and thought about it some. She decided it might work to replace the with an unencrypted version because Weblogic would encrypted it when discovered. She also suggested removing the servers directory and placing a REFRESH file which would prompt the node to download a new copy of the files it needs from the admin node.

That worked to getting the nodes to start correctly. It was fine during the normal maintenance on Friday. Looks like we are in the clear.

That afternoon I brought it up on our normal check-in call with Blackboard. An unable to find license file issue was why Blackboard pulled CE/Vista SP4. It also was a Weblogic upgrade.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Back Door Restore

Humans make mistakes. Our clients’ administrators some times do very bad things without malicious intent. The “Deny Access” button is too close to the “Delete” one. About 160 student accounts were deleted.

The hypothesis came to me that sections keep data when a student is removed. Maybe it keeps the data when a student’s account is deleted. If I can trick the system into thinking the same student came back, then maybe it will relink the data. Everyone is happy.

To test this hypothesis, I…

  • Exported a copy of the grade book for my test student account in a test CE/Vista 8.0.6 system. Should the test go bad, then I could at least restore the grades.
  • Copied the account’s profile to a text file for the user name, sourcedid.source, and
  • Created a new account, gave it  the same user name, sourcedid.source, and (and first, last, password).
  • Enrolled the account into the original class as a student.

The grades were missing. Clearly my hypothesis was wrong. Data is not kept around for deleted students like it for unenrolled students. Which sucks.

In my retest, I…

  • Unrolled the same account. The grade book showed the student’s data in red, meaning the account was unenrolled but the data still there.
  • Deleted the same account. The grade book still showed the student’s data in red.
  • Created a new account with a 2 in the user name and added it to the section. The grade book showed the new account not the one I deleted.

I hope this means I still saw the data post-delete because of the cache services. Changing the enrollment changed what was stored in the cache so the old account disappeared at that point. A couple more tries confirms the behavior of the student appearing in the grade book post-delete.

Still disconcerting deleted users appear in the grade book.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Buyer’s Remorse

Maybe this is why I do not work in sales. Maybe this is why I should never go into management.

Bragging about a potential customer selecting my product or service over another seems like a really stupid thing to do. The potential customer announcing the selection of something over another is okay to me. The provider smacks of arrogance. You were the least worst option. The fewest number of people hated your software. That is not something to brag about to everyone. It sounds bad to openly say the product was the least worst and plenty of users hate it, so it gets couched in terms that make it sound like the customer will work with the providers to improve it. Everyone should understand nothing is going to really improve. This is just empty platitudes so screwed people feel not so bad about it.

Maybe I need to stop following some corporate lackeys on social media so this kind of thing stops annoying me. Oh, wait, we do it too.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Alternative to Blowing Up Schools

Bror Saxberg is a thought leader in the field of learning science, cognitive science and artificial intelligence. As the Chief Learning Officer at Kaplan, Inc., Bror is responsible for the research and development of innovative learning strategies, technologies and products across the Company’s full range of educational services offerings. He also oversees future developments and adoptions of innovative learning technologies and maintains consistent academic standards for Kaplan’s products and courses.

Saxberg goes through various myths about expert minds.

    1. You are the voice in your head. Most of “you” cannot talk–but it is very busy.
    2. Experts just know more “stuff”. Experts become pre-wired to process “stuff” fast.
    3. Talent drives success. Work drives “talent”; work drives success.

Experts subconsciously process vast amounts of data and quickly throw away the chaff. Only people incredibly passionate willing the spend the tedious amount of time to become an expert. “The question you have to ask is: why do you not have the passion to devote 10,000 hours to this?”

Building a better learning environment:

What if we did it better?

Better system characteristics:

    • Competency-based, not time based
    • One level’s success drives the next
    • Flexible schedules match complex lives
    • On-line and off-line tools in synch
    • At-home and in-school matching work
    • Practice and assessments merged
    • Data analytics and reports in place
    • Ties from researchers  to practitioners

I was really impressed he said practice is more important than assessment. Practice is how one refines skills.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4


Working with our clients on LDAP configuration almost invariable starts with SSL certificates. Self-signed, intermediate, and take up a while. The two tools, openSSL and keytool have become my friends. Working with a network admin for the client, I finally saw the legitimate certificate correctly signed by the intermediate certificate not the self-signed. This means I finally saw this new I error I have never before seen.

javax.naming.AuthenticationException: [LDAP: error code 49 – 80090308: LdapErr: DSID-0C090334, comment: AcceptSecurityContext error, data 525, user@host.domain.tld:    at com.sun.jndi.ldap.LdapCtx.mapErrorCode(

Research on the error code DSID-0C090334 led to indications the LDAP search username was incorrect. The Blackboard CE/Vista LDAP client lacks capabilities many clients have to make it easier to use such as searching deeper into a tree or across branches. In this case our clients configured the user as “cn=account”. We looked at other clients who had something like “cn=account,ou=group,dc=domain,dc=edu”. When presented with this discrepancy as likely a problem, the client suggested a path for us to try like the latter. I entered it, tried our test user.

It worked. They also confirmed it worked. Something to add to the wiki, I guess.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Invented Peoples

Apparently former House Speaker and current President candidate Newt Gingrich, made an offensive statement that Palestinians are an invented people.

Remember, there was no Palestine as a state — (it was) part of the Ottoman Empire. I think we have an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs and historically part of the Arab community and they had the chance to go many places.

His point is that Palestine as a state was created in the aftermath of the First World War by the British and French carving up the remains of the Ottoman Empire. Modern Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia mostly exist today where the British Arab Mandates established them. Lebanon and Syria were the French Mandates though more highly re-arranged. If Mr. Gingrich questions the legitimacy of the former state of Palestine, why not Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Syria? Also, maybe he forgot Israel as a state was created in the aftermath of the Second World War also by the British? The creation was just as artificial or invented, if you will.

Americans, as we in the United States call ourselves, are also an invented people. If Palestinians should give up their claim on the land because Israelis have a stronger historical claim despite modern treaties, then it seems to me as President Newt Gingrich should push through Congress giving up United States territory to Native American tribes who claim those lands despite modern treaties. (Yes, I know this is a Straw Man.)

There is one other thing. The Palestine Mandate established protections specifically for the Jewish people to give them a home. So it is not like Palestine was created in opposition to Jewish interests. Further, Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike were all called Palestinians. The same as Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike in Israel are called Israelis. The modern anger stems from expansionist policies by force of arms.

Mr. Gingrich had another point that it is difficult to negotiate when being attacked. The United States government would have a hard time being nice to Mexico if rockets were lobbed at our cities. The example would be more accurate to say the rockets were lobbed at our cities in response to U.S. bombs dropped and tanks invading.

These are complicated issues for which simple analogies are apt to offend someone.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4