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Current Posts
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
LibBeImba 0.1 beta released
Posted: 4:18:00 PM 0 comments
With everything nearly back to normal in Houston, I'm back to working on my guild's website.

In the course of doing so, I recently added the ability to pull scores from the BeImba website for use on my website. The admin over there just recently opened up a SOAP API, which took me a matter of an hour or so to create something to interface with it.

Well, I took things a step further. I took out the portion of the code from the website and made it its own project called LibBeImba. After playing around and tweaking things, I got to the point where I thought the library should be available to the public.

The result? A CodePlex project for LibBeImba. It was pretty straightforward for me to create the project, upload the source via SVN, and create its first release.

Currently, I use it to capture all of my level 70 guild members' scores once a day and store the information in a database. Then the website can query that information and display it in any number of ways. I hope to get a graph up on individual users' pages, but that might be a while before I can get around to that.

In any case, if you're a .NET coder interested in getting BeImba scores for your World of Warcraft guild, this is the library you need. Check it out.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008
All's well
Posted: 4:16:00 PM 0 comments
Kathy and I are home after spending a relaxing night and morning in San Antonio, TX. The ride home was a bit rough, lots of traffic, and some getting off at rare exits along the way.

When we got home, we were excited to see the electricity in the Galleria area on, when it had been off in practically every other area we saw. Sure enough, we get home and electricity's up, and I fired up the computers to find working Internet as well. Can you believe that?

It sucks for the rest of the city, and especially Galveston, for they aren't so lucky, and may have up to three weeks without power. Kathy and I are very fortunate.

So now it's business as usual for us, safe and sound. I still don't know if I have work tomorrow, as the power may still be out and the servers there are down. I'm sure I'll find out soon enough, though.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008
Sleepful in San Antonio
Posted: 10:55:00 PM 1 comments
We just got into our hotel in San Antonio, away from the mess that is Houston. They're estimating over 4 million people without power in the Houston area, and some may not have power again for possibly a week to a month. If that's the case, this next week has the potential to be full of suck.

In any case, Kathy and I are going to get some much needed sleep. When we get home, I'll report on how Houston is doing.

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San Antonio
Posted: 6:12:00 PM 0 comments
So 90% of the Houston area is without power. Kathy is getting off work a day and a half sooner than expected, and does not want to deal with the apartment as it stands.

So we're spending the night in San Antonio to get a clean room, A/C, and a good night's sleep away from it all. We'll hopefully be leaving in an hour or so.

Posted with LifeCast

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Battery? What Battery?
Posted: 6:07:00 PM 0 comments
So apparently I forgot that cell phones require a charged battery to operate.

No worries though, I've got a car charger, and the battery's good now.

Posted with LifeCast

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Ike Blows Over
Posted: 1:16:00 PM 1 comments
Well, the worst of Ike has passed, and it's clearly left behind a mess. I'm without power, although it did turn on an off over the course of the morning.

I woke up around 9 to find that the water seeping actually became fully flooded, about 1/3 the way into the apartment. There was no water left on the tiled floor, but cardboard boxes on the floor showed signs of water damage, and a floor mat by the couch was soaked. Fortunately, no appreciable damage.

Speaking of damage, after breakfast I'm gonna try to snap some photos of the damage around here. Should be quite a mess.

Posted with LifeCast

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Power Out
Posted: 5:28:00 AM 0 comments
About 5 minutes ago, power went out again. This time it appears to be for good.

Sleep for me, catch ya in 12 hours or so.

Posted with LifeCast

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Power Fluctuating Rapidly
Posted: 4:09:00 AM 0 comments
Over the past hour or so, transformers have been loudly blowing up all over the place. Just moments ago as I started typing this up, two transformers blew up within a second of each other. Power was out for 20 seconds or so.

4 am update is in, and although I can't bring you any images, I can tell you that Ike remains the strongest of category 2 hurricanes at 110 mph. It's tracking just east of me, bringing very heavy wind and rain to the Galleria area. We won't get an eye, just lots of nasty stuff.

An interesting note that the walkway to my apartment is flooded a couple inches, and due to a crappy door jam, water is seeping into the apartment. Whee.

Posted with LifeCast

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Net Down
Posted: 3:20:00 AM 0 comments
Within the past hour, my Internet access died. With all of the transformers blowing up outside, I'm amazed I still have power,

The Weather Channel continues to entertain me, and..

...woah, that was loud, a nearby transformer just blew. Very loud.

Anyway, I am still in contact with Kathy, who is working her first 7p-7a shift. Nothing going on at the PD.

I've been outside a few times, and conditions aren't improving. It'll be a while before things calm down.

Another transformer blew loudly, almost took the power with it. Won't be long I imagine.

Posted with LifeCast

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Ike coming ashore right now
Posted: 2:11:00 AM 0 comments
2 AM NHC update is in, and Galveston is now in the eye of the storm. Conditions outside here in the Galleria area have gotten crazy. I'm honestly amazed I still have power and am online. Last I was outside about 20 minutes ago, it was popping, and the sky was lighting up some shades of green, as transformers around me went out. Category 2 is going to be what the storm landfalls as, 110 mph winds.

Here's my latest images.

ike20.jpg: Latest track.

ike21.jpg: Radar image.

ike22.jpg: Landfall.

75 mph winds in town now. Fires in Galveston. 6 feet of flooding in downtown Galveston. Fun.

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Midnight Ike images
Posted: 12:20:00 AM 0 comments
Well, NHC doesn't agree that it's straightening out... so it may miss Galveston to the east some. The beginning of the eye wall will start hitting Galveston within the hour.

ike18.jpg: The track as of midnight, a bit off from the forecast from 2 hours ago.

ike19.jpg: Radar. 'Nuff said.

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Transformers blowing everywhere
Posted: 12:08:00 AM 0 comments
Wind has picked up considerably, 30 mph nearby with gusts to 65 mph at a location a few miles from here (CW 39 station). It's starting to get heavy. Local news is reporting nothing but "transformers are blowing everywhere!" Fortunately, I haven't been cut out of power yet, but the power fluctuations are increasing rapidly.

The Weather Channel has some excellent coverage right now. We're a couple hours away from landfall, and it's straightened back out. I'll post some images of the track in a moment... assuming the power doesn't knock out my computer again.

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Friday, September 12, 2008
More Ike images
Posted: 11:23:00 PM 0 comments
Ike moves closer to shore, and actually took a jog to the north over the last 2 hours. This may spare Galveston from the worst of the hurricane.

It is still the strongest of category 2 hurricanes at 110 miles per hour, and it's slowed down a bit. Landfall is now predicted to be just before sunrise.

I actually got a chance to play some World of Warcraft, a much needed stress reliever for me. Power flashed off and on twice over the past three hours, but nothing too disruptive that I couldn't handle. The rain has started, although the winds haven't picked up too noticeably over the last few hours. I'm sure that's all about to change.

Here are some more images.

ike15.jpg: Ike's track and cloud cover. Note the track's been adjusted to the east somewhat.

ike16.jpg: A radar shot out of Galveston, different than the one I posted previously. Scary stuff.

ike17.jpg: A false color image of Ike... very, very impressive looking. We should be in for one helluva ride.

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Ike strengthens, just short of category 3
Posted: 6:03:00 PM 0 comments
The 6 pm advisery is out, and the NHC is now issuing adviseries every 2 hours as opposed to every 3. Ike is the strongest of category 2 hurricanes, with wind speeds of 110 miles per hour. Ike's outer bands have already started to come ashore on Galveston, but it's still quiet here in the Galleria area of Houston, although the winds have picked up a notch.

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ISS view of Ike
Posted: 4:44:00 PM 0 comments
Just wanted to link to this spectacular image of Ike.

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Ike closing in
Posted: 4:34:00 PM 0 comments
The 4 pm update is out. No real change, still aiming for Galveston, still 105 mph winds as a category 2 hurricane. Landfall seems as though it's going to be well past midnight, so the morning should bring the fury of the storm into Houston.

Local radar suggests that the rain should be on its way soon. I just went outside a second ago, and the wind is picking up, though it's well short of tropical storm winds (39+ mph) at the moment.

Some more Google Earth imagery for you to enjoy.

ike11.jpg: The latest track for Hurricane Ike. The models are not showing up properly in Google Earth (they went back to models from a day ago), so they are excluded from this picture. But the models aren't important anyway, they are all tightly clustered around Galveston island.

ike12.jpg: Color image of Ike. Looks somewhat more impressive than 3 hours ago, but still not nearly as impressive as that Gulf-filling monster that it was yesterday.

ike13.jpg: Visible satellite. You can kind of see a huge eye forming in the middle of it all... if the overlay is accurate, this could mean that Ike is tracking somewhat north of what was expected, which, if that's true, may miss Galveston with the worst of the storm surge as a result.

ike14.jpg: Radar image. Like I said, huge eye.

Hmm. I *think* I just heard thunder. On with the show.

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Blog moved
Posted: 2:34:00 PM 0 comments
Thanks to the fine folks at StudioKraft, I've moved my blog off of roncli.com for the duration of the storm, and onto blogger.com, with StudioKraft doing the image hosting. Thanks Kim for setting this up on short notice!

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Ike still on track
Posted: 1:50:00 PM 0 comments
Overnight, NHC changed their forcast, and called for the hurricane to move somewhat east. It wasn't a major difference, only a few dozen miles if that. But, since the 10 am report, Ike has wobbled to the west a bit. This means there's still a high chance that the hurricane will track right over me, or to my left, both bad situations.

The hurricane's max winds have increased to 105 mph, and some minor strengthening is anticipated before landfall, although they've been saying that for the last 48 hours and nothing happened. The hurricane looks a bit less organized than it did yesterday, but that's because the inner eye wall finally collapsed, and it might have a chance to build a new one in the next few hours.

Nothing to report here yet, weather-wise. Things should start getting nasty in a few hours, though. Here's Ike's vitals:

Category 2 hurricane, 105 mph
27.4 N, 93.1 W, moving WNW at 11 mph
957 mb pressure

ike8.jpg: This image shows the wobble I referred to, as a fork off of that green line to the left.

ike9.jpg: The Houston area image, now with hurricane Ike nearby.

ike10.jpg: I don't know. It just doesn't have the impressive, "look, I'm kicking everyone's ass" look it did yesterday.

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No significant change in Ike
Posted: 12:50:00 AM 0 comments
Ike's still on course for a Galveston landfall in about 24 hours. The weather should start picking up here in a few hours, but hopefully I should be asleep for that.

I am going to work on moving my blog to blogger.com to ensure that it's still up and running. You'll find it there shortly. And this time I'll remember to backup the CSS file.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008
Bellaire PD called in
Posted: 5:38:00 PM 0 comments
Kathy got the notification today that she, along with all officers and dispatchers, will be required to be at the police department starting tomorrow at noon. They are looking at staying there for 3 days, working in 12 hour shifts.

That's gotta suck.

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Dr. Jeffrey Masters blog
Posted: 5:29:00 PM 0 comments
For those that are interested in gritty, nerd-like details about hurricanes, like I am, definitely take the time to check out Dr. Jeffrey Masters blog over at Weather Underground. He goes into great detail, and offers his insight and analysis about tropical weather, such as Ike.

In other news, the NWS in Galveston had this to say about Ike:

All neighborhoods... and possibly entire coastal communities... will be inundated during high tide. Persons not heeding evacuation orders in single family one or two story homes will face certain death. Many residences of average construction directly on the coast will be destroyed. Widespread and devastating personal property damage is likely elsewhere. Vehicles left behind will likely be swept away. Numerous roads will be swamped... some may be washed away by the water. Entire flood prone coastal communities will be cutoff. Water levels may exceed 9 feet for more than a mile inland. Coastal residents in multi-story facilities risk being cutoff. Conditions will be worsened by battering waves. Such waves will exacerbate property damage... with massive destruction of homes... including those of block construction. Damage from beach erosion could take years to repair.


Nothing like serious blunt truth to brighten the day. Thank goodness I'm nowhere near that... The Galleria area is well inland to avoid such inundation, and we're also 60 feet up off of sea level.

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Ike 4 PM CDT images
Posted: 4:39:00 PM 0 comments
Courtesy of Google Earth!

ike4.jpg: This shows the projected path (the multi-colored one with the hurricane icons on them), along with the leading models that say, we're pretty much screwed.

ike5.jpg: Same data, but a detail of the Houston and surrounding area. Again, screwed.

ike6.jpg: This image is almost unbelievable. Look at the size of this thing! It's a beast, bigger than Katrina was. It's still spreading rain across Cuba, Florida's just now getting left alone but still has some rogue bands affecting it, Yucatan's got some incoming bands, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi will all feel something if this goes much more north, and of course Texas... yah, screwed.

ike7.jpg: This piece of spaghetti is... well... spaghetti. That's why it's called the spaghetti models, a whole bunch of hurricane position forecasting programs, all on one map. No surprise, Houston is a tangled mess.

I just noticed that between the 1 pm advisery and the 4 pm advisery that the storm is actually now back on a WNW track, which, unlike what I said in my last post, means that the storm's models are actually working as intended. But with my experience with Rita, nothing's certain yet.

Be back at 7, after I've boarded up the windows. I'll be checking email all day, so if you have any questions, let me know.

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Ike takes aim at Galveston
Posted: 4:16:00 PM 0 comments
The 4 PM CDT forecast is in, and it's not pretty.

The storm is now forecast to come ashore ON Galveston island, 15 miles WSW of the city's dot on the map. This is also just 48 miles SSE of me in the Galleria area. This forecast path should take the eye almost right over me. Yikes.

Ike is still "only" a category 2 hurricane, with winds topping out at 100 mph. They are still forecasting strengthening to major hurricane status, but there are a lot of factors against this, such as dry air, cooler water temperatures, and a bit of wind sheer. But some of these factors are forecast to go away.

Again I must focus on NHC's inability to provide a reliable track. They keep moving the hurricane east, east, east. I don't understand why the models are predicting an immediate turn to the WNW when the hurricane is chugging along to the NW the whole time. If the models don't kick in as suggested, the hurricane may make it all the way to Beaumont, and we'll be on the better side of the hurricane.

However, with hurricane force winds spreading out over 115 miles from the center, there is no doubt that wherever this things strikes, this weekend's going to be a wet and windy one.

I'll post some more images and some vital stats on Ike in a moment. Google Earth is being a pain and crashing all the time lately. What the hell did they do with their app that it's so unstable these days?

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Ike 1 PM update
Posted: 1:55:00 PM 0 comments
As of 1 PM CDT, here's Ike is still a Category 2 hurricane, 454 miles from its projected landfall in Freeport, TX.

During lunch, I loaded up on cash, and then got an extension cord. I'm going to need that tonight for the fun task of boarding up the windows, whee.

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We don't like Ike
Posted: 11:01:00 AM 0 comments
Hurricane Ike is swirling around out in the Gulf of Mexico, and this time it has taken aim at the Houston area. Here are some pics, and be warned, they are rather large.

Ike 1: This picture shows just how well Ike is taking aim at the area. The pink dot at the top is where I live.

Ike 2: This picture shows the Houston area, as well as the models that are predicting that Ike will run over it.

Ike 3: The final picture shows the official NHC track along with a nice infrared view of just how freaking large this thing is. It's bigger than Katrina, even though it's still only a category 2 with 100 mile per hour winds. They're expecting a category 3, which would be 115 MPH winds, by landfall. Hurricane winds will extend well inland.

As for me, I haven't decided if I'm leaving yet. Kathy can't, as she's got to deal with working at the police station. In the meantime, there's lots of preparation to take care of tonight.

As of 10 AM, here are Ike's vitals:
Category 2 Hurricane
100 mph, gusts to 120 mph
Moving WNW at 10 mph
Pressure 945 mb
Current expected landfall as per NHC's track forecast: Freeport, TX, which is 38 miles SW of Galveston, and 56 miles east of due south of me in the Galleria area of Houston.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008
Google Chrome
Posted: 5:06:00 PM 0 comments
Google has put out a new product called Google Chrome. It is, basically, an IE killer... a next-gen Internet web browser.

Google put a lot of thought into this product, as is evidenced by the elaborate comic strip they put out, describing all the deep, delicious, techie details that only us geeks can understand.

It's quite feature-lacking, however. Google put all their manpower into the V8 engine, the webkit, and the minimalistic design that they've forgotten about simpler things. One person on TiS pointed out that you can't tell Chrome to not remember a password right now. You either remember it forever, or it won't bother you ever again, there's no middle ground. One of the frustrating points for me is the lack of 3rd button scrolling on the mouse. You can't hold down the middle mouse button and scroll the webpage. And the spell checker... did they not think about offering suggestions for misspelled words?

But the speed is phenomenal, you can't deny that. Everything that has run JavaScript has worked with amazing speed and web pages load faster than ever. For that reason I've made it my primary browser for now. Hopefully Google can get their act together and start working on the small details to make a really awesome Internet browsing experience.

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Reporting Services ReportViewer in browsers other than IE
Posted: 4:57:00 PM 0 comments
So I've been working with SQL Reporting Services at work lately, and was annoyed with how slow it was in Internet Explorer. I tried running other browsers, but it just never rendered right. Well, after an hour or two of research, I finally came up with a method to get these browsers to render correctly.

The syndrome that many users experience is that the table becomes squished, as if the table of results wants to be as thin as possible. The reason for this is because someone at Microsoft in all of their brilliance decided to put the results table inside a cell of another table, and in that same row they added a 2nd cell with 0 height (WTF?) and 100% width (WTF!). The 100% width squishes everything in the first cell to as little width as possible.

JavaScript to the rescue:


    <script type="text/javascript">
        function addLoadEvent(func) {
            var oldonload = window.onload;
            if (typeof window.onload != 'function') {
                window.onload = func;
            } else {
                window.onload = function() {
                    if (oldonload) {
                        oldonload();
                    }
                    func();
                }
            }
        }

        function checkEmptyCells() {
            var all = document.getElementById("<%=rvReport.ClientID%>").all ? document.getElementById("<%=rvReport.ClientID%>").all : document.getElementById("<%=rvReport.ClientID%>").getElementsByTagName('*');
            for (var i = 0; i < all.length; i++) {
                if (all[i].tagName == "TD" && all[i].width == "100%" && all[i].height == "0" && all[i].innerHTML == "") {
                    all[i].width = "1px";
                }
            }
        }

        addLoadEvent(checkEmptyCells);
    </script>


The first function is simply a function that updates the window.onload event, so that even if you already have an onload event you don't have to mess with that code.

The second function checks for the offending empty TD, and reduces its width to 1 pixel. Change rvReport to whatever the ID of your ReportViewer control is. Take that, empty cell!

Finally, we call the addLoadEvent with our handy checkEmptyCells function. What will happen is the browser will wait until everything is loaded and then execute the script.

If the checkEmptyCells function looks familiar, it should... I borrowed this from my own code. Remember me getting rid of the red X's on OSMusic.Net? I used the checkImages function for that. The code is very similar, but instead of checking for unloaded images and hiding them, we're checking for bloated empty cells and thinning them.

Leave it to Microsoft to figure out how to screw up nested tables. Leave it to JavaScript to be able to provide a quick, easy fix.

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