Archive for August, 2004

Dogs and gators in Florida

Julia Lerman points to a CNN article about a man who saved his dog from an alligator. I recall that Golf Digest wrote a similar human-interest story. I found a link to the Golf Digest article.


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More on the shooting

The newspaper today had a more extensive article about the shooting that occurred in front of our house Tuesday night. In some neighborhoods, they might see this kind of event several times a year. This is very unusual for our neighborhood.

When we were chatting with the neighbors, we were told about a drunk driver who ran off the road at a high rate of speed, flew through our yard, jumped across our driveway, and nearly ran into the nieghbor’s house. This happened serveral years ago, before we had bought the house.

Here’s the text from the newspaper article.

Akron man in jail on shooting charges

21-year-old man hospitalized with gunshot wounds to chest and stomach was able to describe attacker

By Craig Webb
Beacon Journal staff writer

A 24-year-old Akron man is in the Summit County Jail, accused of shooting another Akron resident in Cuyahoga Falls on Tuesday night and then stealing his car.

Vincent Tyrone Davis, of the 100 block of West Tallmadge Avenue, was charged Wednesday with one count of attempted aggravated murder, one count of aggravated robbery and one count of receiving stolen property.

Cuyahoga Falls Municipal Judge Kim R. Hoover set Davis’ bond at $1 million cash.

Cuyahoga Falls Police Chief John Conley said his department received several 911 calls about shots fired in the area of Chestnut Boulevard shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday.

This was followed, Conley said, by a second wave of calls about a wounded man lying in the tree lawn in the 2300 block of Chestnut.

Officers found Luvelt Tucker Jr., 21, of Bertha Avenue, with multiple gunshot wounds to his chest and stomach.

Tucker, who was able to provide investigators with a description of his assailant, remains in Akron City Hospital.

Conley said Tucker told investigators that he had been at a party in Akron and offered another partygoer a ride home.

While riding along Chestnut, Conley said, the man — later identified as Davis — pulled out a .32-caliber handgun and shot Tucker multiple times in the chest and stomach.

Conley said Davis then drove off in Tucker’s Lincoln Continental.

An hour or so after the shooting, Falls officers discovered Tucker’s car crashed in a ditch on Quick Road just north of State Road.

About the same time, Conley said, police received a call from a resident concerned about a person prowling around the Cascade Auto Group on State Road.

Conley said officers apprehended Davis as he was attempting to climb over a fence. He was carrying a loaded .32-caliber handgun that later was determined to have been reported stolen in Akron, Conley said.

Police records show Davis, who has served time in prison, has a lengthy criminal record for offenses ranging from domestic violence to carrying a concealed weapon to selling drugs.

Davis is scheduled to appear in Cuyahoga Falls Municipal Court on Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.

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Senior moment

I’m reading the Channel 9 forums this morning, and I run across this post. Here’s a screen shot showing the problem:


The post also contains a link to a site that has documented this as a bug in IE. I went to that site. I played around with the page for a minute, and I couldn’t see the problem. Then I realized….

I’m using Firefox.

Probably added some more gray hairs to my head.

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Shooting shooting

While playing a quick game of Tiger Woods 2003 last night, my wife called down the basement steps. She said I had to come upstairs and check out what was going on outside.

Here’s what the paper had to say about it:
Suspect in custody after Falls shooting
CUYAHOGA FALLS: A 22-year-old man was taken to Akron City Hospital on Tuesday night after a shooting in the 2300 block of Chestnut Boulevard.

Witnesses heard at least two gunshots, Cuyahoga Falls Police Chief John Conley said. Police were unable to confirm the victim’s name and city of residence.

A 24-year-old suspect was apprehended early today after a vehicle seen leaving the shooting crashed at Norton Heights Drive and Quick Road, Conley said. The suspect was apprehended nearby at a self-storage site in the 4000 block of State Road.

Police have not determined if the vehicle belonged to the victim.

A weapon was also seized. A .32-caliber semiautomatic gun was believed used in the shooting, which occurred around 11 p.m.

No further details were available.

Even at 11:30 at night, this kind of event brings out the neighborhood. At the time, none of us really knew what had happened. Some people told me they heard a rumbling noise, like trash cans being banged around. But none of them thought it was a gun. My wife didn’t hear any of it, and I didn’t hear any of it, even though it happened right in front of our house. Neighbors from the next street over heard it, though.

After the detectives showed up and started taking pictures, I decided to try and snap a couple night shots. I didn’t want to interfere with the police, so I set up the camera on the front stoop. I took one shot with the flash by accident. For the others, I tried using the night mode of the camera. After a little cleanup in Paint Shop Pro, I have these shots to post. I didn’t shrink these down, so I’ve posted them to open in a new window.

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Hello Bloglines, goodbye SharpReader

I have switched from SharpReader to Bloglines to read my RSS feeds. I liked SharpReader. The interface was very familiar to me and it provided a simple way to lazily browse through my RSS subscriptions. I could lay back in my chair and page through everything by resting a finger over the space bar. When I was ready to move forward, a simple flick of the finger took me to the next page. It was a lot easier than reading the newspaper.

However, there were two things about SharpReader that had always bothered me.

I have always wanted to be able to read my RSS feeds at work and at home. I could do that by installing SharpReader at home and at work. But the two installations weren’t aware of what had been read by the other. I would have to manually wade through stuff. I would have preferred a solution that could keep track through the web of what has been read.

My second concern was how SharpReader affected my computer’s performance. With 256 MB of RAM, using SharpReader in conjunction with my development tools was quite a strain on the system. This is a solveable problem by upgrading my hardware, but that doesn’t change the fact that it has been a frustration to this point.

Bloglines solves both of these problems. Bloglines has been around for a while. Because it is web based, It has always solved the issue of coordinating between reading at home and reading at work (or while on vacation). I checked out Bloglines when it first started out, but I didn’t switch then because it didn’t really solve my performance problem. It did reduce the strain on my computer, but its performance over the web was too slow for me.

I was recently reminded of the service, and I checked it out again. After seven days of using both, I have decided that the performance of Bloglines is very good. Not only does it reduce the amount of RAM being used on my system, it’s data retrieval spped was frequently better than SharpReader.

One of the problems with hosting a blog is that your bandwidth usage increases dramatically if your weblog becomes popular. That’s not been a problem for me, so far. 🙂 Using traditional tools, every one of your subscribers polls your site directly. SharpReader was slow to retrieve some of the feeds I am subscribed to because the provider’s bandwidth was somehwat overwhelmed.

Using a retail analogy, this would be like having one Ford store for the entire world. If you want to buy a Ford, you have to go to the store. Ford would be overwhelmed if they had to deal with every customer individually, That’s why we have dealerships.

Bloglines is like a Ford dealership. If 100 people read a feed through Bloglines, that saves bandwidth for the feed provider, since they deal with one request instead of 100 requests. If blogs continue to proliferate, I could envision a day when feed providers only provide feeds to a limited number of blog aggregrators like Bloglines.

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I’m not going to talk about software construction. I want to mention old-fashioned, get-your-fingernails-dirty, hammer-and-nails construction. In March, I mentioned that we were starting the kitchen remodel process. Construction started this week, which has made some for some interesting material (to me at least). It also partially explains why my blogging activity has been practically nonexistent.

Check out the kitchen blog for yourself.

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How do you organize programming teams?

Martin Fowler writes that he prefers functional organization over a technical organization with regard to development teams. I think Martin’s perspective comes from internal development teams within a single company.

If you read his description of technical organization, he lists several negatives about a technical organization, all of which I consider valid points. It becomes clear that he considers functional organization to have a single major drawback. To quote Martin, “Functional teams tend to do things their own way and not communicate with each other much, which leads to this kind of wasteful duplication.” Emphasis is mine.

I added emphasis to the “tends to” statement because tendencies can be managed. If you have teams that are large enough to need structure, I would argue that you should have an ad-hoc staff organization. By an ad-hoc staff organization, I propose that the development staff have specialists. But I would not have permanent teams. I would ask developers to be flexible to work on any functional project, and allow them to apply their expertise.

I know that meetings are often considered a bad thing, but I would have two types of regular meetings. I would have functional meetings where all the developers of a particular project gather to discuss the functional issues they encountering. I would also have some regular meetings for technical discussions. All the DBAs get together, for example, to discuss the tehcnical issues they are dealing with on their current functional project. The technical meetings would probably not occur as frequently as the functional meetings.

The technical meetings could also be handled informally through discussion through a discussion forum, a blog, or a wiki. They don’t usually need as much interaction as a functional discussion, so these communication methods can be quite useful.

For each new project, I would not assign the same people all the time. I would mix the teams up. When maintenance issues arise on a particular project, I would not always assign Joe to work on it just because he was the one who wrote the code in the first place. Because this method has no fixed structure, I call this an “ad-hoc” structure.

I realize that this kind of structure requires active management. It also requires that there be certain domain experts who are available as resources. I also realize that there may be a little productivity lost while developers peform maintenance on functional projects for the first time.

I admit that I haven’t worked in this kind of environment, so I may be proposing a socialst-style structure that won’t work. It sure seems to make sense to me, right now, though.

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