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Friday, September 30, 2005
Taking the Good with the Bad
Posted: 1:25:00 PM 0 comments
I finally got my hands on a decent 4-port KVM switch for my workstation and three servers. I hooked it all up last night, and it was very slick. The problem is my NAT server won't pick up the USB keyboard, so I've got some playing to do when I get home. Not too bad.

I also decided to upgrade ModPlug's web server last night. Big mistake. After installing, I rebooted and found no hard drive. After much attempting to recover the data, I gave up and just formatted it. I hope Mr.X & LPChip got a decent back up.

All in all, I was up till 4 am getting things mostly settled, which will make for a rather long day today.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Network problem solved
Posted: 10:36:00 AM 0 comments
Now playing: DRAX - Burning Bridges (3:00)

Well, patched at least.

I learned yesterday that if I right click my network connection and hit "repair", it fixes the problem with the network not being accessable to the outside world. So I went out and got a script that does the connection repairing for me, put it in a batch file, and scheduled it to run every four hours.

Whether or not this actually works is yet to be seen, but I have a good feeling about this one. If I have to run it more frequently, I can if need be. It's touch and go right now.

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Monday, September 26, 2005
Blog back home
Posted: 7:01:00 PM 0 comments
Just an update, I've taken the blog back to blog.roncli.com, discontinuing roncli.blogspot.com. Enjoy!

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When did my typing get so bad?
Posted: 5:37:00 PM 0 comments
One thing I have been struggling with over the past five years or so is my accuracy when it comes to typing. I mean really, when did it get so bad?

In late 2000, the date of my last official typing test, I timed at 81 WPM with no errors. Granted, I'm much faster today, going anywhere between 100 and 120 WPM, but the errors have just gotten huge.

All it takes is going through the blog to find out how bad it's gotten. "definiately" instead of "definitely", "now" instead of "no", "cat" instead of "cat 5". It's to the point I don't trust my own typing anymore, and double check everything... which still isn't enough.

I can't imagine my typing going much faster, and I'm really comfortable with where I'm at now. But typos just annoy me. They make things read like they were written by someone a third of my age. There's not too much I can do to improve other than slow down, but I'm typically a very impatient person when it comes to the computer. My time is worth more than the mistakes I make, I suppose. I just hope those mistakes don't get to the point where I need to slow down.

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And the stories pour in
Posted: 5:18:00 PM 0 comments
I've talked to a bunch of people here at work, and many of them have different experiences.

One was supposed to stay at his parent's house. However, the house was under heavy construction, and the danger of flying degree multiplied. He went to Austin.

One boarded up his house and his parent's house and rode out the storm at his place.

One girl was too lazy to do anything, and just stayed home Friday and Saturday, letting whatever happen.

One traveled south on US-59 for 9 1/2 hours, then got frustrated with traffic and turned around. He was back home in 20 minutes.

A second also traveled south on US-59 with a similar experience. She was trying to get her sister out of town, and simply gave up.

Then there was the one who stayed up on the 40th floor of the Williams Tower. I have yet to talk to him, but I doubt it was very interesting with the way the hurricane tracked.

Of course, the conspiracy theories poured in. Some believe that the media really intentionally pumped up this hurricane as a result of Katrina, causing everyone to panic so that they would have more to cover. Some believe that the weather services did a poor job of noticing the eye wall's collapse about 12-24 hours before landfall, making everything think this was still going to be a cat 5 at landfall. Some still think that Houston's smog cloud deflected the hurricane, but the jury's still out on that one.

Definiately an experience for Houston to remember. I'm just glad it is a positive memory for me. Many people went through hell to try to get out.

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You've got to be kidding me...
Posted: 2:47:00 AM 0 comments
While I was gone... 170 emails. Unbe-frickin-lievable. I'll be here for a while...

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Return to semi-normalcy
Posted: 2:43:00 AM 0 comments
This evening, Kathy and I woke up around 7 pm and headed out to eat. We ended up at Dave and Busters, because I was lusting for one of their incredible chicken cheesesteaks. Well, Kathy and I ended up on the midway, where I blew away all the Rush 2049 top scores, while Kathy made enough tickets to buy a lovable red dragon stuffed doll. It was just what each of us needed to fully unwind.

Once we got home, I un-boarded the windows, putting them in the bedroom for future use. Then I started the long and tedius task of putting our network back together. I made a few improvements, including running the servers through an old hub for the local network, and patched up the apartment's connections so that we could run the laptop from the bedroom if we wanted. I doubt we'll ever use it, but the possibility is now there.

I also moved myself several feet away from Kathy's computer to give her more room, along with moving about a foot from the wall so that I could go back there when needed. I basically moved things around so that everything was within arm's reach, except the second monitor, which is further back so I can place more junk on my desk when needed.

Let me tell you, I am sore all over and completely exhausted. I cannot for the life of me remember a week as hectic or tiring as this one. I pray that'll never happen again.

As for this blog, I'll be enabling the style sheet soon, seeing as roncli.com and friends are back up. In about a day or so, I'll return it to the usual blog.roncli.com location so that I don't get those annoying adver-comments that really ticked me off, so if you're using the roncli.blogspot.com address, just know there'll be a change.

Of course, normalcy may mean updates every other week, but oh well. I'm just glad to be back to it.

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Sunday, September 25, 2005
Home
Posted: 7:44:00 AM 3 comments
Well, we made it. Apartment is in perfect order. All I have to do now is put it all back together.

After I've slept for a looong time.

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Sleep beckons
Posted: 3:41:00 AM 0 comments
We stopped a bit short in Palestine, TX for a bit of a nap. They have gas here, so we should be able to make it all the way in to Houston on the last leg. Kathy called in to check on traffic, and it's fairly normal which is extremely good news, we may be home by daylight.

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Ft. Worth and beyond
Posted: 1:22:00 AM 0 comments
I've decided to try something a little crazy, namely hit I45 to Centerville. If anything goes wrong, I've got MapPoint to get us out of a jam. A bite to eat first, then more road.

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Saturday, September 24, 2005
Need a traffic report
Posted: 10:35:00 PM 2 comments
Blog readers, I need your help.

I'm curious as to the status of I45 South into Houston. While I am headed to Ft. Worth, would one or more intrepid readers mind finding out how bad or good traffic into Houston is? Just write a comment here to report your findings. I appreciate any help we can get!

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One leg down
Posted: 10:32:00 PM 0 comments
Made it to Albeline with 2 incidents, both cat related. Poor Crystal has to be scared out of her mind, the last few days being ridiculouly stressful.

On to Ft. Worth.

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Headed home
Posted: 6:38:00 PM 0 comments
Because of the little damage to my apartment complex and the fact the lights are on, we're going to head home. We'll be using a similar route going back, with the exception of avoiding I-45 altogether.

ETA of departure is 7:30 PM. It's supposed to be a 12 hour drive. Assuming there will be traffic, I'll put our arrival at noon tomorrow. I'll be posting all the way home on our progress.

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Whoops
Posted: 3:53:00 PM 0 comments
I lost my style sheet, so my blog looks like crap now. That's cause my server is down, I didn't have the presence of mind to move it. I'll try to look for a backup.

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Good news
Posted: 3:42:00 PM 2 comments
I've heard the electricity was off for only 6 1/2 hours overnight, that was more than enough to kill my servers. But once I get home, I should be able to have everything back up and running. Right now, that's looking like Sunday night. Hopefully not too late Sunday night, I want time to put things back together.

Rita destroyed the coast at the Texas/Louisiana border. NHC did a rather poor job in forecasting Rita's position, but hurricane tracking is a poor technology at the moment, so I can understand that.

The latest on Rita shows her losing strength over east Texas. She'll continue to weaken, and it looks like the models have her pushing off to the east within a few days.

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Servers down
Posted: 12:07:00 AM 3 comments
I just pulled myself away from the Weather Channel to find that roncli.com, modplug.com, osmusic.net, and all the other sites I run are down. I did a traceroute, however, to find that the problem is simply the internet connection at the complex is not working right, the router's sending me to random routers throughout the complex. That usually means that they just need to reboot it, but I doubt anyone's going to be there to do it. Assume these sites are down until at least Monday.

Landfall is looking like Louisiana as a cat 3 with 120 MPH winds. Houston will get a glancing blow no worse than what we took with Allison or Fae. Chances are, I will be leaving here Sunday early morning for the long haul back. Using side roads, of course!

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Friday, September 23, 2005
Rita Weakening
Posted: 1:57:00 PM 0 comments
Rita's looking a lot better this afternoon. For one, the models are no longer predicting the "Allison" effect, namely the storm sits on top of us for days a time. For two, she has weakened to a category 3 storm with 125 MPH winds. For three, she's tracking further and further to the east, the models are almost putting it right at the border.

So the trip to Lubbock might prove to be useless. But as everyone says when I bring that up, better safe than sorry.

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Rita continues tracking eastward
Posted: 10:00:00 AM 0 comments
The latest NHC update is out, Rita's down to 135 MPH, still a cat 4 though. She's slowly tracking further and further eastward, now looking about 50 miles west of the Texas/Louisiana border. Good news for us, but bad news for New Orleans, as one of the repaired levies is flooding over as we speak. Could it possibly get any worse for them?

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The Evacuation
Posted: 9:11:00 AM 1 comments
Surely you've seen and heard all of the news about traffic coming out of Houston gridlocked, people going 24 miles in 24 hours, and the nightmare of having now gas. I consider ourselves fortunate to beat it, but then again, we used a little trickiness, too.

To understand how we got out so fast (Ft. Worth in 10 hours), first understand the nature of I-45 north out of Houston. It starts off, including the HOV lane, not including the contraflow, as 8 lanes northbound. 50 miles north, that is reduced to 2. Traffic normally comes to a standstill on that freeway at times. Put half a million people on it, and you can clearly see the problem.

So, as we were leaving and saw the people that were taking 1 hour to get from US-59 to I-10 taking west I-610 north, I figured that, since I had the laptop and MapPoint with me, it would be easier to just use side roads.

And that's exactly what I did. From the I-610 feeder road, we took Post Oak north to Hempstead, and then took Antoine north to Kuykendahl. We took that into the Woodlands, and after snaking around the village, we crossed the highway on TX-242 and took FM-1314 into Conroe. We then hopped on US-75 in Conroe, taking it to New Waverly for our first stop.

After leaving New Waverly, we hit some real traffic for the first time going into Huntsville. We got on I-45 there, and made it to Centerville at 9 am, completing 6 hours of our trip. At that point, we decided to ditch I-45, taking TX-7 towards Waco.

We met up with Highway 6, figuring that would be a quick way into Waco. However, I had forgotten that was an evacuation route out of Houston and hit some more traffic. We got on I-35, hitting more traffic in Waco due to stupid drivers playing bumper cars, but after that it was smooth sailing. From I-35W after about 12 hours, we took I-20 west through Abeline. We finally got on US-84, taking it straight into Lubbock, finishing the 16 1/2 hour marathon.

Absolutely crazy. I've never seen more disabled cars than I did on I-45 going north. Gas stations were completely empty as far north as Huntsville. The Dairy Queen at TX-7 and TX-6 was out of CASH because they were giving out so much change. An SUV had "Houston, we have a problem" written on cardboard hanging from the back of it. And US-84 is the most boring drive, ever.

The important thing is that we made it out, and have other things to consider. Like what to get for breakfast.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005
Lubbock
Posted: 9:49:00 PM 0 comments
After 16 1/2 hours of, well, lots of traffic and driving, we have arrived no worse for the journey at Jesse's place in Lubbock.

I've been up since 8:30 am Wednesday, biked two miles, sawed four pieces of plywood-ish type stuff, operated power tools (the true sign of masculinity!), lifted many heavy things up and down stairs, and otherwise worked myself into complete exhaustion. I'm taking a nap.

Rita, cat 4, 145 MPH, but it's tracking more north. NHC'll update in 15 minutes, I'll probably be asleep in 10. In the meantime, have at the current models. Sorry for the low res, I'm on a crappy monitor for the weekend.

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One last leg
Posted: 5:30:00 PM 1 comments
We're just about ready for the three hour final leg into Lubbock. Wish us luck.

I've heard the track of Rita has changed significantly, but haven't been able to verify... Latest is cat 4, 145 MPH winds, and a pressure of 912 millibars.

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Silly kitty
Posted: 2:23:00 PM 0 comments
So with Crystal locked up in the truck and scared out of her mind, she doesn't... "Go" very easily.

We found a Petsmart, and Kathy thought it wise to take her in there, get somethin disposable, and do her thing.

That was 20 minutes ago.

I can't imagine what's going through Crystal's mind at the moment, other than "TAKE ME HOME *NOW*!!". Poor kitty, if only she understood.

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Ft. Worth
Posted: 2:00:00 PM 0 comments
Well, we've finally made it to Ft. Worth after taking a bit of a detour through Waco to avoid the craziness of I45.

I35 wasn't much better, but thankfully for different reasons. ie: idiot drivers.

Rita's down to a cat 4, 150 MPH winds, and 908 millibars of pressure. Still scary, I ain't gonna be near it.

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Rita
Posted: 10:06:00 AM 1 comments
Keeping an ear on Rita, she's still a scary cat 5, with 165 MPH winds. The wind radius is at 85 miles for hurricane force, and 185 for tropical storm force winds. Scary stuff.

Enough from me, onward to Dallas. Check in again there.

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Slow going
Posted: 6:43:00 AM 0 comments
First off, blogging via Blackberry sucks.

A late start, plus bad traffic, equals New Waverly, TX... Not very far at all. But the I45 traffic is all but gone this far out, and we'll probably hop back on in Huntsville.

Next update, Centerville! My favorite stop on the way to Dallas.

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Destination: Lubbock
Posted: 1:03:00 AM 2 comments
Tons of thanks to my friend Jesse for allowing us to stay at his place in Lubbock. ETA of departure is 3 AM. I'll try and Blackberry a post from Dallas/Ft. Worth, and then once I get to Lubbock I'll check in again.

NHC 1 AM intermediate update says no change in Rita. She's still on track, 175 MPH sustained winds, 898 millibar pressure.

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Latest models
Posted: 12:06:00 AM 0 comments
These are the latest models as of 8 pm. I don't think the blue line is realistic. The NHC track from 10 pm is in the middle of the other three. Obviously, this is much worse than the last update, and would absolutely kill Houston.

Speaking of kill, Rita is a killer with 175 MPH winds and a staggering pressure of 897 millibars.

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Running Late
Posted: 12:02:00 AM 0 comments
So we got to Home Depot at 9:30 pm to find that the lumber that was there three hours earlier was gone. Completely gone. We found some strips of birch, and used two to plaster the windows with. By the time were done with that, it was 11:30 pm.

That said, we're probably not leaving till 2 am at this point, although it doesn't look like we'll be hitting Oklahoma City anymore. We're still weighing our options, and with a cat to consider that's not easy.

More to come soon.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Hitting the Road
Posted: 8:12:00 PM 2 comments
As you no doubt can tell if you're a regular visitor, this ain't the regular site for my blog. The reason is we're hitting the road, and I wanted a place to be able to post information about me and Kathy while we are away.

Yes, we're getting the hell away from Rita. This map should explain fairly sufficiently why. We're dealing with the third strongest storm (by barometric pressure, currently 898 millibars or 26.52 inches) in recorded history.

I decided today to hit the road at midnight to minimize the time we're going to be in traffic in daylight. That said, we're probably going to hit quite a bit of it in the morning, I anticipate 12 hours to wherever we decide on going. I'll post that location before or as we leave.

Overreacting? There's a saying that you cannot overreact to a category 5 hurricane. Oklahoma City may get some of the storm, probably as a tropical storm, so I'm aiming for Amarillo. We'll see, and I'll be sure to keep you updated along the way.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Full Hurricane Mode
Posted: 4:34:00 PM 0 comments
Since I've moved to Houston in the beginning of 1999, we've gotten a couple of close calls, and one not-so-close call from tropical weather. Tropical Storm Allison, which by the way came ashore on my 24th birthday, laid waste to much of Houston, putting it under water. I was fortunate enough to be spared from the worst of the flooding.

It might be post-Katrina nerves, but I have a feeling that we're not going to be quite as lucky this time with Rita. Rita is travelling south along a ridge of high pressure that is steering it to the west at a relative good pace. Once it hits the western Gulf of Mexico, it's anyone's guess as to what direction it can take. Models range from one border to the other, but all say the same thing: Texas.

For the second consecutive day, NHC is forecasting Rita to take the northerly turn and plow into Houston and its suburbs. It's still too early to say where it will go, as the average error of forecast at three days is 250 miles. However, the computer models they use are fairly confident that Galveston and Houston will be Rita's target of choice. Whether this actually happens, we won't know until probably Thursday, if not Friday.

To complicate matters, Rita is a moderate category 2 hurricane, which equates to 100 MPH winds. They are forecasting a category 3, and the leading computer model puts winds at 143 MPH, a very scary category 4, the same brand that sunk New Orleans just last month.

While we don't have the levy problem that New Orleans has, we still flash flood rather easily around. Add the possibility of 100+ MPH winds inland, and it's easy to see why Kathy and I will be high-tailing it out of Houston if the storm track doesn't change fast. In the event we do evacuate, I'll likely be taking my servers with me, so that I don't lose the data that I don't have backed up off-site.

That said, there's still a long time to landfall, and anything can happen. It's that bit of uncertainty, though, that forces me to err on the side of caution.

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Monday, September 19, 2005
Weekend Update
Posted: 1:58:00 AM 0 comments
Not too much going on lately, just been enjoying work and playing games and stuff at home. I did manage to find time to add nearly 3,000 lines of repetative code to Cent, a part of the program I hadn't been looking forward to writing. The good news is that I have most of the logic wrapped up in my head, whereas before I hadn't a clue how to start. This means that it is likely I will be picking up the programming again, and may have more to report soon, and maybe even some new screenshots. Don't get too excited, I'm not ready to start with the 3D portion of the game yet. My goal is to get a solid foundation in the settings screen so that I can concentrate solely on the 3D portion of the game.

Of course, this application may be entirely unnecessary, it looks like Core Decision is starting to kick into high gear. Their goal is for October of 2006... given the amount of time I've worked on Cent, my offering may come much later. They're also quite a bit ahead of me in terms of development, which is no surprise. The advantage I have is that Cent is based off of Crystal Space, so I don't have to worry about coding the engine, I just have to make it work. Having played around with it plenty, I have no doubt I can do that much.

In other news... well, I really can't give away what I'm doing next weekend just yet. With my luck, I'd post it, and then the subject of next weekend's events logs on to read the blog for the first time and... well, that's about all I have to say about that.

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Monday, September 05, 2005
More Katrina
Posted: 4:12:00 PM 0 comments
Now playing: DRAX - Zarathustra - (3:27)

This before and after is Biloxi, MS. Of note is the building on the coast in the upper left which is entirely gone. The building in the lower left, however, had a somewhat better fate. It just blew across the street into a parking lot. Images are about 350 KB each.

Before
After

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Sunday, September 04, 2005
Google Earth + NOAA + Katrina
Posted: 5:47:00 PM 0 comments
I did a before and after comparison of an image I was able to download from NOAA using Google Earth. In this shot, you will see the northern end of the city, along the shore of the lake there. The images are pretty huge, but the detail is worth it.

Before
After

Coincidentally, my brother was in New Orleans Sunday morning, but thankfully he got out. He sure is a lot luckier than the tens of thousands who didn't.

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