East of the Sun, West of the Moon


Mac Mini Migration Madness

Filed under: Family,OS X,Technology — Erwin @ 5:23 pm

Not so much madness actually because aside from one hiccup things went pretty smoothly.

First some comparisons:

Original Mini, first generation model from January 2005:

  • 512MB RAM PC-2700 DDR SDRAM
  • 40GB disk
  • 1.25 GHz PowerPC G4
  • ATI Radeon 9200 GPU with 32MB VRAM
  • Two USB ports
  • Firewire 400 port
  • 10/100 Mbit ethernet
  • 1 modem (remember those?) port
  • Hard disk and CD/DVD drive both (P)ATA

FA6AD992-6BB8-4AED-AE86-607747829C2C.jpgThen in comes the new version, released three days ago (March 3, 2009):

  • 2GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM
  • 320GB disk
  • 2GHz Core 2 Duo
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9400 with 256MB VRAM
  • Five USB ports
  • Firewire 800 port
  • 1 Gbit ethernet
  • Hard disk and CD/DVD drive both SATA

Hello mister Moore, nice to meet you again!

The migration was very smooth. We swapped keyboard/mouse/monitor a few times while we had both Minis running for this, which was almost the trickiest part. Unfortunately I didn’t have the right kind of firewire cable to connect the old and new machine or I would’ve used that, but fortunately OS X supports migrating machine via ethernet and wifi as well now, which only required installing a bit of software on the old one and setting up wifi on the new one (because of encryption) and then sit back and wait while a few GB of data is transferred between the two.

As far as I can tell almost all settings are included in this migration process, except for a few things (and if I notice more I’ll update this entry):

  1. The parental controls preference pane would cause system preferences to crash. I blame this on going from PPC to Intel. Nuking the contents of /Library/Application Support/Apple/ParentalControls/ and then restarting the machine appears to have taken care of that.
  2. The Sharing – Remote Login setting wasn’t included, so I had to re-enable it.
  3. I had to reenter the wifi password.

Now I wait for the kids to get home and actually put it to work with general browsing, flash games, photo booth experiments, etc. Any bets on how many days/weeks until they complain it’s too slow?


What’s that say?

Filed under: Family,Humo(u)r,News — Erwin @ 9:21 pm

This Zits episode sounds far too familiar… The kids’ handwriting is bad enough that we occasionally wonder how the teachers can read their handed in homework at all, but nothing seems to be done about it.

A few articles that confirm that this is not limited to the local school district:

Having brought this up with the teachers once or twice, the general feeling is that yes, we’d like it to be better as well but there simply isn’t enough time in a day.

Aside from braving the glares and asking our boys to rewrite parts of their finished homework or things that were written in their planners, what can you do? I really don’t want to bring school-like activities into their spare time but I do wonder how this is going to affect them with their school and careers in the long run.



Has it really been that long? (continued)

Filed under: Family — Erwin @ 6:55 pm

And now we’re back. Unpacked. And resting. πŸ˜‰ More later, or at least that’s my intention.


Has it really been that long?

Filed under: Family — Erwin @ 6:38 pm

The last time I visited the Netherlands was when I went back to clean out my apartment, cancelled the rent, and stuffed all the important things like clothes, CDs, books and computers into a few suitcases to take with me to the US. So that would’ve been, oh, Fall of 2002.


In the years since then my parents have visited us here twice but because I kept postponing a visit back home because I really wanted to do that with all 4 of us. That wasn’t as easy as it could be, with no time of the year really being very convenient to go except the summer, and several summers in a row other events took the time needed either because they were more important or were planned before there was a chance to do otherwise.

This year my parents celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary and for the past 12 months we’ve basically been telling everybody, friends and family, not to try and plan anything for us or the boys until we bloody well had our tickets and we would know when we would leave and return.

That seems to have worked, although now the summer vacation feels extra double packed with activities for the boys and we’ll have to fight to make sure they get some down-time in it as well.

So tomorrow we drive to a hotel near the airport, Saturday we fly, with only one layover (I thought the extra money was worth it) to Amsterdam where we’ll arrive on Sunday morning. Three and a half weeks later we do the same in reverse order, so to speak.

I’ve made myself a promise not to wait another (almost) 6 years until the next return visit, even if that means that (for financial or practical reasons) I’ll be making that visit by myself or only with M.

Wish us luck, we’re going to need it. πŸ˜‰



Filed under: Family,OS X,Technology — Erwin @ 6:50 pm

A bit embarrassing that the first update of the year is in February, but so be it.

Since the last post I’ve had my share of fun. Aside from the usual social obligations around the holidays we were also kept busy for a week in early December by the fall-out after an ice storm that caused power outages and broke the cable used for the television signal and internet connectivity. The chopped up bits of broken off branches are still at the side of street in most of the city because they held off actually dealing with it until they had funding (from state and federal resources) which meant that people had to come in and inspect how much damage was done, etc.

The cable outage took longer to fix because the cable repair crew didn’t want to touch it while it was hanging near the electricity cable and the electricity company repair crew was waiting for us to deal with the tree that was snapped in two. Naturally the electricity company did not share this fact with us, which was a bit frustrating.

CFBBFB00-DBD6-4D5B-80ED-5BD1E871A62F.jpgThe past few weeks had also been unusual, with my MacBook Pro being shipped to the nearest Apple repair location twice within two weeks. First it was shipped there and the repair was put on hold because of a part that they needed. When it returned they had only replaced the hard drive so I assume that was the part. I received the repaired notebook on Tuesday, and on Friday evening, when I had slowly but surely gotten settled on it and I was doing the initial Time Machine run, it stopped working. The next morning I got on the phone with Apple, spent an hour talking and being on hold and another repair was initiated. While I thought the guy on the phone had told me I should receive the empty box on Monday (in which to ship the MBP to them), I didn’t get it until Tuesday, and the tracking indicated that it hadn’t even left its origin until Monday. Hrm. Then after it was repaired on Wednesday, this apparently didn’t happen in time for it to be picked up by DHL that same day. Fine, if that at least meant that it would arrive on Friday, but after a day of checking the tracking site and seeing that the box was still somewhere in or near Ohio, it didn’t arrive until Saturday!

In those three weeks I worked on M‘s MacBook and were both happy to no longer have to share it after I had (again) moved and reinstalled everything on the repaired machine.

Crossing my fingers, I think the machine (and yet another new hard drive, and also new cables this time) is in better shape. This was the third and fourth repair so far, I think it’s starting to get in Apple’s own interest to just get me a new machine and get it over with. I paid for the extended AppleCare so it is covered by warranty for another year and a half at least. I’m afraid to think about how many more repairs that is going to be, all on their dime (and my time). The price you pay for using a first-generation product, eh?



Filed under: Family,Humo(u)r — Erwin @ 4:20 pm


That is all.

Carry on. πŸ™‚



Filed under: Family — Erwin @ 1:04 am

When you do a subtraction like 13 – 7, you probably don’t even think about it anymore, you just spit out the answer, right? And just to be sure, that should be 6.

A surprised me this evening with a trick that he apparently figured out by himself. Instead of trying to do 13 – 7 in his head, he first subtracts 7 from 10, getting 3, and then adds that to 3, with final result being 6 (one hopes). So more generally speaking he uses the transformation (10 + x) – y == (10 – y) + x to turn a trickier subtraction into an easy subtraction and an addition!

I think that’s pretty cool for a fourth grader (a nine year old), but maybe I’m biased? πŸ™‚


New gadget

Filed under: Family,OS X,Software,Technology — Erwin @ 1:41 am

Panasonic PV-GS80 MiniDV Camcorder with 32x Optical Image Stabilized  ZoomIt’s for M‘s birthday, but of course something that’ll be used for the entire family. We got her a Panasonic GS80, a handy camcorder. It’s a bit of a starter model, as we’ve never owned one before and I didn’t want to buy something entirely too complex or overpriced.

So far she’s done some recording with it, had some fun feedback loops while recording straight through firewire into her MacBook, etc. Once it’s been on the initial 24 hour of charging for the internal battery she’ll no doubt test to see how long the rechargeable detachable one will last, and do some recording around the house and such.

The kids are of course enthusiastically planning videos of the rats to be posted on YouTube, but I hope to stop them from that for a little while longer. πŸ™‚

Update: I almost forgot to list that I also, while I was ordering from Amazon anyway, picked up the Snakes on a Plane album. Ladies and gentleman, snakes are slithering… carry on!


Baby bun!

Filed under: Family — Erwin @ 4:47 pm

My dad breeds rabbits, has done so since he was a kid in fact. This is of course an interesting concept for the boys and during my parents’ most recent visit they promised some pictures of a soon to be born baby bunny, so the kids could see how fast they grow up. Four weeks and five pictures later, I thought I would put them together on a page somewhere so that I can share it with other interested parties, so here they are, along with the original comments that my parents provided (typos fixed here and there):

Date: Picture: Comments:
July 4 As we promised we have taken a picture of a just born rabbit. This one is 3 days old, born on Sunday evening, the day we came home from the U.S.A.
July 8 The second time that we take a picture of the same young rabbit, you can see the colours a little better now. The body is less pink, the eyes are still closed. He was sleepy. The rabbit is now one week old.
July 15 The rabbit is two weeks old now. The eyes are open and he likes to look in the world around him. The skin is white and you can see the spots and stripe very well.
July 24 The rabbit is three weeks old now. He still drinks mother’s milk, but he started to eat a little hay, and together with his sisters take some dry food now. He plays and runs with his sisters and mother through the hutch.
July 31 He is four weeks old now. He still drinks mother’s milk, but eats more of the hay and dry food and drinks water too. He doesn’t sleep anymore in the nest that the mother made before he was born, but together with his sisters makes his own warm place in the hay.
August 6 This is a picture of our young rabbit together with his sisters. The sisters are the ones in the middle (entirely brown) and on the right side (different colour than her brother has). They are five weeks old now and from now on they stay in their hutch without the mother. The mother will visit her children once a day so they can still drink some mother’s milk.
August 24 Our rabbit is 7 and a half weeks old and he has his own hutch now. His weight is about 1.5 kg (3.3 pounds) while at birth his weight was about 30 gram (1 ounce). By now you can see his spots very well, because he lost his baby hair. He is very quiet, he likes to be a model.

Disclaimer: These pictures were taken with an aging webcam. The hands holding it belong to my dad. πŸ™‚

Update: Added picture #6 and #7 (the latter with a 2 month delay, as I nearly forgot).


Nebraska, Wyoming and South Dakota

Filed under: Family — Erwin @ 5:27 pm

A week ago all four of us headed to Kansas City to meet up with M‘s dad and step-mother. After a night at a hotel there we began our road-trip.

First stop was Omaha, Nebraska, where we visited M‘s dad’s aunt. She’s 90 years old and still quite talkative. πŸ˜‰ This is a good thing, because I wanted to fill in some blanks in the family-tree I’m maintaining. I got most if not all of the answers, and some more, so I hope this will give me enough leads to extend it a generation or two in various directions.

After a two hour visit — longer than we expected, hopefully she didn’t overextend herself — we moved on, westward. We had hoped to find a hotel for the night in Kearney, Nebraska, but we hadn’t counted on a basketball tournament that was taking place that week which had all the hotels booked! While eating dinner at a local restaurant I checked for hotels in nearby places on the iPhone and we made a reservation as well. Score 1 for the iPhone, I guess.

The next day we continued west, visiting the Courthouse and Jail Rocks and Chimney Rock. After that we carried on to our actual destination for the day, the city of Scottsbluff, Nebraska. There was a bit of confusion because both Google Maps and AAA TripTiks show the street where the Holiday Inn Express is on the wrong side of the bypass, so when we saw the hotel on the other side of the road upon entering the city we thought it was the wrong one and kept on looking. A few minutes and a bit of driving around later we decided to check anyway (at the very least one Holiday Inn would be able to give us directions to another Holiday Inn, right?) and it turned out to be the one!

On Saturday we attended and participated in the naming ceremony of N, who is part Lakota, in Fort Laramie, Wyoming. He was named in a group of 5, after a group of 3, and before a huge group of over 60. That last group was a lot less ceremonial and after the first dozen or so the names given to the inviduals began to sound somewhat clichΓ©, which was unfortunate. There was also a ceremony honouring army veterans, where they made a point of inviting all veterans to participate (which they did), not just the native American ones. A refreshing approach, I think, although I of course don’t have a lot of experience with such things.

All together we were there from approximately 10 in the morning until around 8 in the evening (I think, with the timezone change I lost my sense of time a bit). It was of course an outdoors event, set up near/under some trees but with it taking that long the shade was a moving target and with it being 90-95 Fahrenheit, we drank a lot of water.

On Sunday we drove north, through Wyoming, to Devils Tower. We got there just before 7, just in time to get cancellation stamps for our passports, after which we walked around it. We then stayed the night in Sundance, Wyoming.

On Monday we traveled east, and south, through the Spearfish Canyon, and visited two sites: Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. Both were well worth the visit. At the latter I picked up a Lakota-English/English-Lakota dictionary and we verified N‘s name’s translation. πŸ™‚ That evening we got settled in our hotel rooms at the Best Western in Custer, South Dakota and reorganized the minivan so that it contained anything and everything that could go home, while M and the boys put their stuff in her dad’s rented minivan, in which they’ll be driving around for another 5-6 days.

Then yesterday I drove home in one big 14 hour drive. I started at 7:15 in the morning with a full tank and had to refill twice, plus took 5-10 minute breaks at a few rest-stops along the way, of course. I managed to get past Kansas City and into familiar territory before it got dark, and parked into our driveway shortly after 10 PM. I emptied one 32 ounce bottle of water, 6-7 cans of Dr Pepper, and two 9.5 ounce bottles of Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccino. This kept me awake and avoided dehydration… I think.

Now I’m catching up on emails and finding out what needs fixing, at home and at work. Oh, and aside from the three states in the title, I also drove through Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa. That’s enough states for one road trip, I think. πŸ™‚

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