5 minutes a day

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    Howdy. This is Bob. The Bob of Bob Blog. This blog contains about five minutes of my thoughts each day. A record. A history. And occasionally worth reading.

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    Friday, May 31, 2002  

    NBA vs NHL again

    The Avalance lost 7-0. No, it wasn't a touchdown. Horrible hockey. The game was over in about 10 minutes with the RedWinds up by 4 goals.

    That game however was more interesting than the Laker-King Wrestling Match. The series goes to game seven in Sacramento. What a horrible sport.

    I missed the opening World Cup game this morning. Who was awake at 4:30am? I have TiVo set to record the next matches. It is really a beautiful game compared to the NBA. And over in 2 hours. And...

    At work I'm looking into an automated test system (grow our own because it costs too much to buy). I think it will be my own scripting language. I really don't want to write a parser -- work really is crazy and scattered. I hope Russ is in on Monday so I can have my chat with him. We need focus. We need attention to details. We need someone who cares about billing. And what does Bob want? Time off to hike. Time to travel. Time to program.

    And finally, the US has asked all its civilians in India and Pakistan to leave due to the threat of war. I hope it is just more threats and not real. It has been awhile since the Earth has seen weapons of mass destruction used. I feel for Blair -- as she is (was) planning on going to India in September. And me to visit in December? Pray for peace.

    10:08 PM  0 comments



    The power went out here last night around 11pm. I don't know how long it stayed off because I went to bed.

    My computer is still not here. I waited at home yesterday morning hoping. I haven't reorganized the computer desk yet because that is very impatient.

    Cecil had hairballs this morning. Time to work the carpet cleaner magic. The horrors of white carpets and cats -- especially if the owner isn't very good at grooming them.

    Finally, I watched "The 13th Floor" yesterday. It was pretty good -- I saw it in the theaters in 1999. Very relevant for those in the MMOG business.

    7:33 AM  0 comments

    Thursday, May 30, 2002  

    I am working on moving this Blog to its real home. http://members.cox.net/bobmitchell.

    Archives are not working automatically yet. I have to modify the link. But that is ok.

    And it looks like there should be a way to do this all in Flash. Blogger will export as XML.

    7:26 AM  0 comments

    Wednesday, May 29, 2002  

    On the way!

    There was a box in the carport when I got home tonight. I thought... my computer! No, something for Sophia. But I was just as excited moments later when I noticed I got a letter from Austria -- and Sophia. Then just moments ago, the confirmation arrived that my computer is sitting at the local post office. I suspect that I will have to wait until the mail courier brings it tomorrow morning (afternoon?) I haven't really paid attention to the delivery schedule except to note that he tends to drop packages off first. What a great excuse...

    11:51 PM  0 comments

    Tuesday, May 28, 2002  

    Basketball vs Hockey

    After tonight's Laker - Kings game and yesterday's Avalanche - Redwings game, I am confident that NBA is not nearly as interesting as the NHL.. Talent, skill, energy, drama, and lots more tend to make me enjoy watching hockey over basketball. The good news -- the Lakers may finally lose a series. The Kings however are almost as annoying. Perhaps that is it -- during a hockey game, I am watching the sport. But during a basketball game I am watching overpaid kids argue about calls by the refs which never seem to be that consistent.

    I woke up to the purple wall. I like it. But the best was the painted locker. It turned out great.

    No Rich at work today -- they were in San Francisco late Monday. Still fighting with robots until the final. They took 2nd place in their category. Great job! I am very happy for their success and want to take zero credit even though I helped with some math once or twice. The SOE battlebat team has spent a lot of hours and hard work to make a very solid bot. And it sounds like there was lots of great adventure. Can't wait to hear the full story.

    10:13 PM  0 comments

    Monday, May 27, 2002  

    Paint and Sophia

    Sophia called me from Vienna tonight. Her dad must have been nearby and so the call was short. She sounds like she is having fun. I imagine there will be lots of stories to tell when she returns.

    I painted today. One wall in our bedroom is now purple. Perhaps the first time ever in my life. Rollers are amazing. I splattered a bit. The most fun was afterwards, I painted one of the lockers the old man left behind. It will become a paint shed. And I may just have to paint the second locker orange like the hall. Painting was lots of work and I'll probably leave the rest to Sophia as she enjoys it.

    There was something else. But I forgot. Oh well.

    Avalanche won in overtime. Rosanne Barr was on "Inside the Actors Studio". She said she had multiple personalities.

    Lots of chores still left for tomorrow morning. But I went grocery shopping today. She I can eat again.

    Remind me to write about battlebots...

    11:43 PM  0 comments


    World Cup

    The US team plays on Jun 5 (2am), Jun 10 (11:30pm), and Jun 14 (4:30am). Thank God for TiVo.

    Official Site

    9:15 AM  0 comments


    Sewer and Water Work

    No parking from 7:30 to 4:30 every day on Del Mar until Aug 7 because they will be replacing the water and sewer lines. The hotline number is 858-573-5081 (Christina). We don't have a particular problem but I'm glad to see them trying to improve the infrastructure.

    8:27 AM  0 comments

    Sunday, May 26, 2002  

    Two trips to the beach

    Ocean Beach is near the beach. Just in case you couldn't tell from the name.

    This morning I walked along Sunset Cliffs and the ocean to the south. Really this is Point Loma. The houses are big. And even on the way back, when I went up the hill a couple of blocks from the beach, the houses are big and well kept. There was one for sale -- it had nice wood floors -- for 900K. 3 bedrooms. Crazy. I talked to a few people in their yards and walking their dogs. People of my neighborhood. I feel like I fit in.

    And then a walked to the Ocean Beach pier to watch the sunset. Different crowd completely. I don't have any tattoos or piercings. Yet I feel like I fit into the young and carefree crowd too. My neighbors. I'm happy here.

    Can you believe I left the house twice. On purpose...

    The Lakers won this afternoon on a last minute shot. I didn't think they would be able to come back from the 24 point deficit they generated in the first half. I still think they will win the series. But they will have to play much better to get one of the games in Sacramento (as required to win the series...)

    I put up a couple of web pages: Oregon PCT Journal and a hidden page for the Trivial Pursuit Online foyer. Tomorrow I hope to get MountAbbey.com up. Not done. Just a reasonable version. But more importantly, I got the API for NCSoft really started. I just need a few hours. Tomorrow afternoon. The morning is for fun.

    11:50 PM  0 comments

    Saturday, May 25, 2002  

    Thomas in Love

    There is a theme: of me not going outside. I think it is nice to just stay inside and not interact with people. And then I think it is great fun to go outside and hike and NOT interact with people... Hopefully I will go outside at least once this three day weekend. For groceries at least...

    Today was spent coding. Work. An API that is more tedious than I expected. I forgot a bit at the office and may have to go in to finish. And I need a way to test it at home so I have to write another server to test it. Rather be working on about a dozen different things. But I managed to finish Crash Bandicoot Warped today. The last zone that I managed to beat was the "Dive Bombers". Two weeks of entertainment...

    Blogger has a pretty short timeout. If I get distracted while writing. the blog is gone. Not tonight. I have to many things to do to be distracted. Like thinking about Sophia...

    10:56 PM  0 comments


    Navy Seals and TV and motivation

    Lakers lost horribly tonight. Lack of effort?

    Discovery had a show on Navy Seal training in Coronado. Amazing what someone motivated can accomplish versus someone who isn't. See a trend? There is something important there. Something I need to get back. The answer at work is: I need a team I can trust. I need a project that I care about. But first I must find my motivation. And then the decision about what I am ready to commit.

    Midnight. Still haven't played any Crash Bandicoot. But I haven't. And tomorrow I have chores that I should do first. And 8 or more hours of work that I didn't find the energy to do this week. Time has been my hurdle at work -- get through the 8-9 hours. Now, it has to be progress. Pound through the boring things. Pounce on the things that matter.

    And tomorrow around the house... pretend not to miss Sophia.

    12:13 AM  0 comments

    Friday, May 24, 2002  


    Netscape found a bug in Confetti with their new browser. It has been several weeks. I haven't put much time or energy into it. I thought it must be a browser bug. I didn't really investigate. Netscape crew did. They found they could reproduce the problem under a variety of platforms and scenarios. I took the clue and looked at the code. Sure enough, a possible hole : bytesLoaded == bytesTotal at the end AND if both are 0. Sure enough. The problem had bytesTotal = 0. Bug was mine. And not easy to reproduce locally. But fairly easy even with IE to reproduce on the network (if the puzzle was not in the cache.)

    11:17 PM  0 comments

    Wednesday, May 22, 2002  

    Dell and my computer

    I finally decided to get a computer. It is a Pentium 4 (1.7 GHz), GeForce3, 512 MB memory, 80 MB harddrive, 17" flat panel display, and comes with a Palm. I considered getting components and could have gotten the price a little lower if I had made the effort. However, it was below the price point I wanted ($2000) and is everthing I needed in a machine.

    Is my current machine too slow? Not really. Did I need it? Not really. Will I need to spend more money? Yes. There are always more things to add to the system...

    Next time I'll build it from components...

    8:05 PM  0 comments



    Tomorrow I am going to E3. It is the center of the commercial aspect of games. It is hype beyond hype. Wish me luck.

    Sophia sent me a letter today.

    Eric and Vivian and a few other friends think I am getting married. I tried to convince them that me asking for a mailing address does not mean I'm sending out invites...

    7:57 PM  0 comments

    Tuesday, May 21, 2002  

    Pete Yorn and a quote

    Just got the free monthly CD for working at Sony Online. This month I chose Pete Yorn. Nice choice. Not sure I'd ever heard any of the songs before but I really liked it. Sometimes the free CD goes onto the shelf and never back into the player. He he... it has a couple of extra tracks on the end. Good thing I was too busy typing to hit eject.

    Barbara Walter once sent me a photocopy that had the "10 commandments for work" on it. The number one item said something like "be willing to lose your job everyday." For sometime now, I have been afraid of losing my job. Perhaps it has been since the layoffs in Platform. Perhaps longer. I'm tired. I'm bored. I keep waiting for the perfect opportunity to ask for change. There won't be the perfect chance. I haven't been ready to lose my job, my little office with a couch and a window over the parking lot, the comfort of people you know and already trust your instincts, and lots more. However, I'm ready to accept that first commandment. I am ready to lose everything. I'm ready to go home and have to find another team another challenge. I'm ready. I don't think it will come to that. But I am ready.

    1:17 PM  0 comments

    Monday, May 20, 2002  


    I got up early (6:30am) today to take out the trash and walk. Delightful. I put a load of laundry in and it wash clean while I was out watching the waves. I need to find the time to do this more often.

    7:46 AM  0 comments

    Sunday, May 19, 2002  

    Another post? Sure.

    I am thinking about buying a new computer. Dell are the obvious choices. I can get a very nice machine for around $2000, monitor extra. But now I am consider building my own small footprint machine. The Soyo P4 Dragon, the Shuttle Spacewalker, and the Pandora are the options. I was thinking a wireless keyboard/mouse/networking and putting the machine in the entertainment center to play MP3s. But then I want the pricetag to be cheap (<$1000). I don't know which way to go.

    2:57 PM  0 comments



    May has been a little bit of a tree month. Mt Abbey needed a tree removed. And there was lots of enthusiasm by the neighbor about that. And today I took out the dead fruit tree in our back yard. Sophia wants to use the dried branches for an arbor. I sawed off three or four large branches to leave basically one stalk. I got the last one to fall properly, not taking out the existing metal arbor. That left the stump. I had left it high for leverage but expected to have to dig down quite for and hack at the roots before it would fall. A foot ring around the base was all it took. Now all I have to do is decide what type of tree should replace it. A big oak? Something that will grow faster?

    I had to use Dictionary.com in order to figure out what I meant: not armour. not properly arbour. etc.

    And finally I have my Sun Blade server back up and running. Unfortunately I have forgotten the root password.

    2:47 PM  0 comments



    Yes. The premise of the blog is that one writes daily. What is my excuse? Excuses? ... Since you asked...

    Friday I went to watch MicroCosmos at Tish and Tom's. This fill features bugs. And not animated like Bugs' Life, etc. There were some great scenes. It worked as a movie that we could talk through. And so much has happened in both our lives since the last time we talked, almost a month ago. Tish is getting close to finishing another semester on her MBA. Her second child must be getting close. And the two (four?) of them are thinking about getting into the rental business. I consider my rental house as an adventure. They see it as a way to diversify, to retire, to be happy.

    And then I came home and watched Max Headroom. And being on TechTV, I watched a clip about Star Wars Galaxies and some cool computer animation. Max was a little less than I remember. Then again I consider it one of the best TV shows... EVER. The best animation was one that had little balls flying out of machines, hitting stuff, and making music. The music and the inventiveness of the animation was brilliant. I clapped at the end. Animusic: Pipe Dreams

    Saturday... well... I was on the machine most of the day trying to write Flash. I often got distracted, mostly by Crash Bandicoot Warped. Yes, the game is several years old. Sophia sent me an e-card from Austria. I was a little depressed at the end of the day because I accomplished less than I hoped (who doesn't think the world can be coded in just 8 hours), I missed both the hockey game AND the Laker-Kings game (which I thought was on Sunday), and I meant to do chores and little projects around the house and didn't get to a single one.

    Sunday. No excuses. I already have the task list. I have already watered the plants. And now I've been here way too long. Go away...

    8:59 AM  0 comments

    Thursday, May 16, 2002  

    Star Wars: Episode 2

    We went for work today. The film should make Lucas lots of money. It was good but not great. If you hadn't seen the others, it would have been less good. Lots of good scenes though, as it runs almost 2 1/2 hours. I had fun.

    Sophia has access to email and so I won't get to see her but I will get to talk to her while she is gone. I hope she is having fun.

    Lots to do around the house. Go Bob...

    10:56 PM  0 comments



    12:59 AM  0 comments



    I cannot believe it. I may have finally found the FreeCell board that I cannot solve: 25450. I hope it is just because I am sleepy.

    12:49 AM  0 comments

    Tuesday, May 14, 2002  


    Tonight when I got home there were a couple of skunks playing near our front walkway. I stopped the car to watch them. At least one was quite young. And cute. It appears that they might be living in the big shrub out front. I'll have to go pay attention to it and look for signs that they are living there. Otherwise they might be trying to live underneath the house -- which wouldn't be good.

    7:56 PM  0 comments


    Console Wars?

    Blogger lost my first blog. Demerit for them. That will force me to edit my text someplace else. Probably a wise idea anyway.

    Sony announced that the PS2 has dropped in price to $199 from $299. Nintendo has announced there modem for the GameCube. The console wars are heating up again just in time for E3. I expect to see some great games next Friday.

    However, I need to finish Final Fantasy X.

    7:38 AM  0 comments

    Monday, May 13, 2002  


    I deserve a demerit for not writing yesterday. My excuse is that it was my last day with Sophia before she left for Austria. She'll be gone for three weeks. I'm not sure how I am going to respond to this. I have lots of things to do. I have lots of distractions. But I am going to miss her. The house will seem empty. But I promise not to be mopy...

    I won't admit to getting caught up in the NBA playoffs but I have. Go Lakers. The game last night against the Spurs had me on the edge of my seat much longer than the normal last five minutes of the game. TiVo is great that I can fast forward through the 3 hour game in an hour. But yesterday, I watched most of it at normal speed.

    The photo Flash project is coming along great. I hope to get a couple of my albums put together for it. And then I'll start adding the really cool features like index, thumbnails, interactive map, ...
    Look for mountabbey.com to actually go live next weekend. Maybe.

    8:21 AM  0 comments

    Saturday, May 11, 2002  

    Guests and travel.

    Sophia leaves on Monday for Austria. Her list of things to do is rather long. But if that wasn't enough, we have two sets of house guests, one couple has their one year old. That makes for a lively house. And I feel like I'm the only one not going someplace.

    The web effort is starting to pay off. The menu system is working. Now I have to actually start providing content.

    The first bit will be the Flash photo album. OK, so I should finish up the poll. I should get the Bob Blog onto the Mount Abbey pages. I should... One thing at a time.

    One a different note: last night I woke up to my heart racing. I think the Nyquil was causing my body some confusion. Sitting at home, watching the ocean, lazily coding, sipping tea and eating cookies has done a lot for my health. I still need another day or two of the same.

    Lakers beat San Antonio last night to lead the series 2-1. I haven't previously enjoyed the NBA. I don't see the sport really. But I felt the excitement yesterday and look forward to the next game. And I haven't watched many hockey playoff games.

    Note to self: add the bracket code to the web site. Focus...

    5:03 PM  0 comments

    Friday, May 10, 2002  

    Flash Navigation and Web Layout

    I want a menu along the right side of all the Mount Abbey pages. I was thinking the menu would be the same for each subsection of the site. And then I went to implement the site. Yikes. There was lots of HTML code, the same HTML code, on every page that would have to be maintained. Yuck. It was clear that I didn't have the right solution.

    I decided to make a Flash menu. One SWF and an XML file for each subsection. The HTML code is clean. Maintenance is easy. Adding a page is easy. Changing the menu is easy. Or should I say "will be easy." The sample menu that comes with Flash left a little bit to be desired. Something to do this weekend...

    My cold is better. Not over but better. The Nyquil really helped. The sunshine over the weekend will too.

    12:27 PM  0 comments

    Thursday, May 09, 2002  

    I write games for a living. I won't go into details right now but people need to see how we are perceived outside our own circle. Salon.com article: Games as Speech

    What impact would I like to make? I want to make worlds, not games... Welcome to Sony Online!

    10:20 AM  0 comments


    Stress and the Flu

    I have no proof that my current cold is due to stress. But I like the theory.

    First, I am now an uncle. Not sure at all if I want to be. Not sure at all if I need to approach the subject.

    Second, work, future, happiness. Enough said.

    Third, Sophia is going away for a month to Austria next Monday. And then the house is my responsibility. My biggest fear is the garden. What if all the plants die? I have to laugh that she thinks I might not go outside or talk to anyone for the entire month. OK, just because that sounds nice doesn't mean that is what I plan on doing.

    Four, my grandfathers. The first I haven't really taken the time to properly mourn. I mentally see the photo of him in his letter sweater and start to cry. And the other is doing a good job fighting off cancer (again.) I suppose he is because that's the only news I've gotten. Of course this makes me wonder more about point two above, my own future and happiness. Even though I passed my most recent physical, I have a paranoid nagging in the back of my mind that my body will fail me. Soon? So much to do first...

    Five, the neighbors and the tree. Done? I still need to go replace the bricks.

    Six, chores and the house to do list. Nothing is pressing. But I feel like something must be. Yes, the smog check. Yes, vaccuumming. Yes...

    And with my eyes feeling like they might explode out of their sockets at any moment, which makes keeping any focus difficult. So I'm home from work again. Hopefully I will sleep and tackle some of those fears. Guess what, that is why I started this blog. Five minutes a day... and maybe I'll get some answers.

    9:47 AM  0 comments

    Wednesday, May 08, 2002  


    I have the start of my own polling system for the web. My target user interface is Flash. My target volume is relatively small. My target audience is not likely going to try to cheat.

    It is a simple perl script that takes a query string to "load" a poll and "save" a vote and "add" a new poll. Flash ActionScript will handle getting the data, displaying the poll and results, and sending the user vote. I will make the source available to others.

    One problem currently is that each poll needs a unique name. Will I eventually resort to using poll_id as the name?
    Another problem is that why reinvent the wheel. Admin tools are tedious to write and others have complex systems. I think the answer is that the UI is all Flash so I need something simple.

    OK. Back to coding.

    8:19 AM  0 comments

    Tuesday, May 07, 2002  

    How did I come to find Blogger?

    My personal site (http://www.mountabbey.com) used to have a news section that I rarely updated. However, I moved and my Sun Blade server has been put out of commission due to being on cox.net now instead of Road Runner (which didn't seem to be as proactive in hunting down servers.) One of the things I have had on my todo list is to get this back up and running. I also am convinced that writing for 5 minutes a day will be benefitial to my sanity. And finally, I wanted a better way to document some of the web research that I have been doing.

    I was going to invest some time to write my own code using Flash MX and ??? on the server side. I may end up trying to parse the files using Flash to make a nifty user interface. Why re-invent the wheel when there are so many of them with more features than I could ever hope to include...

    And today I found blogger...

    Some blog options:
    Blogger - http://www.blogger.com
    LiveJournal - http://www.livejournal.com/
    NewsPro -
    GreyMatter - http://www.noahgrey.com/greysoft
    WikiWikiWeb -

    I am leaning towards just turning back on the service I had been using (NewsPro?). I hope to clean up the templates, see if it can do some cool new features like icons, and maybe some form of user feedback. And then I also expect to continue to use WikiWikiWeb for the things that make sense.

    I really want to also have a calendar system with upcoming events, links back to the photos, etc. eInvite might be good enough but I think this may be where I put the focus of my next Flash project. Or a cool web polling system. Or...

    Expect to see a list of hosting options soon. My target: < $10/month for reasonable space, bandwidth, and service. I will need to find someplace to host my site once I have it working enough to want to move it off my staging server...

    4:54 PM  0 comments


    Hello and welcome. This is the first blog. Will I use blogs and not some other means? Depends...

    The reason why I want to blog is to start writing five minutes a day. Five minutes is plenty. Five minutes will never be enough time. And besides the generic ramblings, I hope to use the blog as a calendar, as a reference document for decisions and cool web things, as a developer journal. Enjoy.

    1:59 PM  0 comments