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"Murphy was an optimist!"

Christmas Eve Is Upon Us – Really? December 24, 2006 9:50 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Christmas, Daily Life, Holiday
, 2comments

It’s going to be a comfortable 13°C today. The sun is shining and there is no chance of a white Christmas this year. We will have rain! So perhaps if we can get this global warming thing under control we can return to having white Christmases!

Do you have the spirit? Seeing Santa last night was great! The children certainly are ready. I am excited and we have been blessed this year.

Our tree is a bit barren in comparison to years past at this time. We have only a few packages under the tree for fear of Evan opening them prematurely. So far, only one present has been opened. That was Molly’s doing. She was unhappy that we left her alone last night. The item isn’t damaged and the package was rewrapped unawares to the children.

Time to do some last minute tiddying up!


Santa Lives in Westmoreland December 23, 2006 9:51 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Christmas, Daily Life, Holiday
, 3comments

So being a dad, I had the sudden urge to torment the children with a long drive home so that we could look at lights. I turn into Westmoreland and suddenly see Santa running up his driveway with candy canes in hand for each of the children! As he opened the door to the van Evan puckered up but quickly became contented as a candy cane was presented to him. I think Evan figures Santa is alright.

This guy was great! I look forward to one day being as creative and taking time to bring such magic to people’s lives. Thanks Santa!


unlawful photography December 22, 2006 10:01 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Gadgets, Technology, Touchy Subjects
, 4comments

In Tennessee, you can end up with a Class A misdemeanor for taking a photograph. Now if you disseminated to others it becomes a Class E felony. So, if you take someone’s picture in TN and put it on Flickr you could end up spending one to six years in prison and be fined up to $3000.

Class E felony
Not less than one (1) year nor more than six (6) years in prison. In addition, the jury may assess a fine not to exceed three thousand dollars ($3,000), unless otherwise provided by statute
Class A misdemeanor
not greater than eleven (11) months twenty-nine (29) days in jail or a fine not to exceed two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or both, unless otherwise provided by statute


According to of the Tennessee Code Title 39, Chapter 13, Part 6 "It is an offense for a person to knowingly photograph, or cause to be photographed an individual, when the individual is in a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, without the prior effective consent of the individual…" This law seems ripe for abuse. I am no lawyer but I find it difficult to accept language like "Would offend or embarrass an ordinary person if such person appeared in the photograph" as definitive. Some people are so shy you could take a picture of the back of their head and they would be embarassed. You could photograph me losing my swimsuit on a dive at the pool and I would not take offense. Two extremes and the law should apply to neither.

What happens if this law is enacted on a person?

(c) All photographs taken in violation of this section shall be confiscated and, after their use as evidence, destroyed. [Source]

I suppose if you were an elected official, or crooked law enforcement agent, and someone snapped a less than complimentary picture of you in a public place, you could enact the law and have the evidence destroyed.

I also suppose that if my daughter didn’t like her picture on Flickr, she could have her mother arrested and the picture would be destroyed.

Now, we are on camera all the time! Your bank ATM has a camera that films you picking your nose. Certainly you could expect privacy in your monetary transactions but often this camera is clearly broadcast to a television visible to patrons inside the bank. Retail store security cameras abound. I bet you are unknowingly on hundreds of cameras just walking through the mall. Our lives will become even more filmed as time goes on.

Allow me to share a not too distance future. Eventually cameras will become so small and cheap that we will have them available as "dots" on a strip of paper not unlike candy buttons. Once peeled from the paper strip the camera’s adhesive backing could be stuck anywhere..a tree, a lightpost, a backpack. The camera will seek out a nearby wireless network at communicate its network ip address to your home server from which you can start monitoring the camera. Children will be able to go to a friend’s house to play and the parents will be able to check in on their child. Video art will change. Privacy will be limited to wireless proof, privacy rooms where signals are blocked, negated, or otherwise cannot get out. Yes, the abuse potential will be huge but the opportunities such technology will create will far outweight the abuse.

Our paradigm of privacy needs to change. We should not give up our right to privacy but we should not be uptight about having our picture made when we are in public. Instead of trying to create privacy in public or define public spaces as "not really public" we should change our attitudes and accept that when we leave our houses, we will be on film like it or not. We should change ourselves and make sure we are behaving as we should in public instead of crying foul and declaring that your inappropiate behavior should not have been able to be seen on film.

I had to lookup "unlawful photography" after reading about a peeping tom arrested in TN who "hid a camera inside a binder and targeted women." When I was a teenager, I had this really cool camera lense that took picture at a 90 degree angle to the actual camera. I could be on a balcony and look like I was taking a picture of the ocean while I was really taking a picture of the bikini babe sunning at the pool below. (Yes, I thought it but never had the guts to try it. I was certain they would see the mirror.) I suppose my lense could have landed me in prison! I was too embarassed to photograph people so all my pictures before the age of 20 or so are of buildings and scenes with no people. Maybe our peeping tom was took embarassed to openingly point a camera at people in a public place but really wanted to capture a sample of life at the mall, er, but only the pretty women. Yes, I doubt his innocence. See some interesting comments at the Nashville Scene.


Person struck by car at Bearden Middle School December 22, 2006 7:38 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : News, Of Interest
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News status: Unconfirmed. Ambiguous. Second-hand.

I just received a phone call saying someone (non-specific…may or may not be a student) was struck by a car at Bearden Middle School.

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One hour and still going December 21, 2006 7:50 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life
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So yesterday I delivered the client’s machine expecting to quickly pull in the old data. I was hoping for 1 hour and alloted 3; it took all day. We had to get a child to an appointment at 4:30 and at 4:00 I was still downtown watching the progress bar on a data file conversion slowly tick away. The client called at 6pm to say it was still going. Just to add to the fun, their network quit pulling up websites for a machine as I was trying to leave. Guess where I’ll be today!

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Quote of the Day December 20, 2006 10:51 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life
, 2comments

Meter reader: "Wow! Your electricity usage is high. I mean like, this is what a mansion uses!"


Bad customer service begets bad service December 20, 2006 9:39 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Technology
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So one of my clients call Friday, "Doug, our network is down!" So I drop everything and rush over there as quickly as possible to spend the afternoon tracing through knotted cables resembling a plate of spaghetti and a cluster of switches and routers with extra routers thrown in as leftovers from the previous technician’s troubleshooting attempts. See, everyone always wants to pull in the lowest dollar solution first because any upstart techie is going to say, "sure, I can do that." which has this rippling effect of rising costs and client doubts. When the lowest dollar solution fails, they call in the next higher yet lowest dollar solution who now has to not only solve the original problem but fix any problems created by the previous low dollar solution. The result is that the higher lower dollar solution has to bill more than if they were the first on the job. If that person fails and another person has to be called in, the costs only escalate.

I still have moments when I will tell a client "I’m not the right person for the job." My father-in-law cringed recently as he overheard a phone call in which I did just that. That said, I also subscribe to the philosophy of "never turn away a sale." The two statements are in obvious conflict. The way to keep the sale and do the right thing for the client is to say "I’m not the right developer but let me run project through someone I trust." That is not always plausible but gives you a billable while knowing that your client will be taken care correctly since you will be managing the work.

After resolving Friday’s network issues, the client sent their company’s financial computer with me to get a new version of Peachtree installed. After spending the better part of the weekend removing spyware, malware, and viruses, I proceeded with the upgrade only to find it consistently failing. My first round with Peachtree technical support sent me retracing my steps through possible solutions already researched via Blingo. Slowly I began to think I had a bad compact disc.

I have visited one of the plants that mass produces cds. A cd is created much the same way an LP record is produced. A mold is created. Little plastic pellets are melted into gooey platter. And the data is pressed into the plastic. Yes. I said, "the data is pressed into the plastic." That sounds weird and inconsistent with the cd burners you have in your home computer. A cd writer uses a chemical process. Mass produced cds use a physical process which includes creating pits and lands that reflect the light from the laser differently. When the cd reader detects a change from pit to land or land to pit it tells the computer that a 1 was read. If there is no change, say pit to pit or land to land, it tells the computer a 0 was read. Your cd burner at home removes some the dye in the cd and causes light to reflect or not reflect thus emulating a pit or land. This chemical is prone age which is why a "burned" cd has a shelf life.

You’ll note the reflective metal (aluminum or gold) of the CD is on the top, under a thin layer of acrylic which is just under the label. The bottom of the cd has 1.2mm of polycarbonate plastic. This is why I cringe when I see someone lay a CD down upside down to "protect it from scratches." The laser focuses beyond the surface of the bottom of the CD and minor scratches on the bottom have no effect while a minor scratch on the top can destroy the reflective surface. Scratches on the bottom can be buffed out while scratches on the top cannot be repaired.

The odds of getting bad pressed CD are pretty slim. The Peachtree installation disc was just that. Because the odds are so slim, technical support is alway hesistant to send replacement CDs. It took some doing but they finally gave in. There was only 1 file I could not copy from the CD. They would not give in and put that file online for download. That I consider bad customer service. My client understands what has happened but it does not negate the fact that I told them they would have their machine before business opened Monday morning and I still have it on Wednesday.

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Nice December 19, 2006 5:11 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Family
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A niece

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Squirrels in the Attic December 19, 2006 4:57 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life
, 8comments

Last year we had some unwelcome guests, two squirrels in the attic. I ran us out of the house by converting our home into the sweet smell of my grandmother’s closet. By the end of the summer, the moth ball smell had final dissipated and the critters had not returned. When this year’s cold came, so did our boarders. Eventually I will get them out of the attic.

All day today I’ve heard scampering in the bedroom. I finally figured it out! We have squirrels in the woodstove! My solution? I grabbed a string of firecrackers, lit it and threw it in. Unfortunately, I have to come realise that my woodstove is more of a crab trap for squirrels than a home. Now I have a trapped and very frightened squirrel. It is Christmas. Maybe I’ll name him Ches and simply light a fire…

Update for clarity’s sake: For the record, a Fisher wood stove will comfortably house two crazy squirrels and contains a fist full of fireworks very well but will not keep the smell of gun powder from permeating throughout the house.


I hurt my wife December 19, 2006 4:49 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Cathy, Daily Life, Family
, 1 comment so far

but I got the splinter out.

So, like, she has been glaring at me most of the day and once barked at me, "are you blogging?!" Obviously something was wrong. So I turned on my super mind reading powers and got nothing. I inquired. I got nothing. I reviewed the day. I got nothing. Finally, I found the instant messenger window that was hidden away that had a message from an hour and a half ago, "would you get a splitter out please?" Note to self: Check that more often.

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I need just 1 file from Peachtree 2005 December 19, 2006 2:21 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Software, Technology
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Anyone have Peachtree Complete Accounting 2005? Tech support has declared my disc bad and are mailing a new one but won’t make the one cab I need available for download. If you have \\peachw\install\Data1.cab handy, please me know. (and no, it’s not piracy when you’ve purchased a defect product..)

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What happened to The Blue Sloth? December 19, 2006 12:40 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Of Interest
, 6comments

Reading in an RSS Reader is wonderful. You can absorb so much more content than through regular browsing. Browsers still have their place and I use browsers probably as much as I use my news reader. One of the things I like to do is use a browser to periodically check in on a site that I normally read in feed because you miss out on the design elements in a page using only RSS.

So today, I check in on Philip and is design is radically changed that I had to question if I was on the right site. His history seems gone (only one post on the site). Links to other sites and interests vanished. Anyone have the story? Is Philip ok?


It’s that time of the day December 18, 2006 4:18 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Of Being Dad
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Explain it to me again. Exactly, why do they have to eat?

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How long can you hold stress? December 18, 2006 9:52 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Health, Mental
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I was thinking about stress while driving around today…btw, for the Knoxvillians, the James White Parkway ramp from I-40E is closed until September of next year…anyhow, I think I have been chronically stressed since 1992. Yup. That’s it.

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The errors in my life December 18, 2006 6:16 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Software, Technology
, 6comments

Errors I have been fighting all weekend

Rid machines of viruses and malware can be very difficult and time consuming. Plus it demands just enough attention that you can’t really focus on something serious so multitasking for productivity is kind of out of the question. So, what gets sacrificed? Estimates and sales.

Some references:

Update: I have cleared all temp areas on the harddrive, have checked for bad sectors on the harddisk, have uninstalled the old remenants of the program being upgraded, have uninstalled and reinstalled the InstallShield engine, and jumped through many suggestions found on Google, and still at 37-40% of the way into the installation, it fails. So I tried on another computer and at 40% it failed with "Error 1305.Error reading from file C:\Program File\Peachtree\Pchapp32.dll. Verify that the file exists and that you can access it." So I wised up and decided to try to eliminate the cdrom from the equation. I can copy every file from the CD except d:\peachw\install\Data1.cab. When I try to copy that file I get "Cannot copy Data1:Data error (cyclic redundancy check)" from any machine.

Update: Peachtree agrees the disc is bad but won’t let me download Data1.cab. They are sending a new disc in the mail.