Eric D. Schabell: 2006

Friday, December 29, 2006

Year in review 2006!

I like to take a quick look back at some of the major events in my life over the last year, not only in the private sphere but including my software and sporting milestones too.

This year started with a trip to the states for me, visiting family and my best friend that was just back from Iraq. It was a very nice trip with a surprise phone call from my wife telling me that we were expecting our second child!

I was able to finish up all the major project on our house that were in the planning, such as a new brick path in the backyard, finishing off the loft and fixing up the second room for my daughter in expectation of our second child.

In the summer vacation we were on the route of the 3rd stage of the Tour de France, which was very exciting to see! I had pretty much just started cycling myself at the end of last year so it was nice to be in Limburg and to climb many of the better known hills in the Netherlands.

Unfortunately a month later I crashed on my bike and broke my left hand, pretty much ending my cycling for the year (did ride a bit since then, but the weather has turned bad so that was that for this year). My total for the year was a single flat tire and over 2700 km’s (and around 1300 km’s on my bike I ride to work)!

Just before the World Series started my wife arranged for digital television here which gives me the NASN and all the live USA sports one could wish for! I was in heaven and finally saw a World Series game live!

For Halloween I arranged for my daughter to be able to trick or treat in the neighborhood. This was greeted with such enthusiasm by everyone that we ended up with a rather large group going door to door and many new faces that want to be part of the event next year!

I was also surprised with the naming of my best friends baby boy to include my name! An honor and a treat to see ones name being passed on: Matej Eric Roth, my little buddy!

On the software front, AbTLinux has taken off with another student group providing the requirements for our configManager. I have started working on the design and implementation of our package manager and much more, see the site!

My Publication Management System (PMS) was adopted by the entire Computer Science institute after being used at our departmental level for over a year. This was good news as it gives me a larger user base and more feedback to improve on this software.

Of course, the biggest event of the year is only a few weeks old and lying next to me on the couch as I write this… my son, Max Orson Marius Jody Schabell! We have been truely blessed this year!

From my family to yours, we wish you a happy new year!

Monday, December 11, 2006

A baby boy!

This one is a bit of a personal posting, to mark the birth of my baby boy! He arrived in this world today, big (4885 grams and 55cm) and very hungry!

I will be taking off the rest of the year to relax (all you fathers out there know that ‘relax’ is a relative term here in this context with a two year old and a new baby in the house) and enjoy the family addition. ;-)

Thursday, December 7, 2006

How Google ranks our pages?

I read a very interesting article at the American Mathimatical Society about how Google works the Internet and comes up with an quantitative value for the relevance of your page(s):

How Google Finds Your Needle in the Web’s Haystack

I wanted to post this as a follow up to my previous entry, “Google page ranking tools”, so now we have a better idea what these tools are reporting! ;-)

Divide by zero solved?

I read this morning that Dr. James Anderson, from the University of Reading’s computer science department has solved the divide by zero problem… can you believe it!

You can read about it in the bbc article here and more about Dr. James Anderson here.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Mutt mailer index overview!

I have been getting tired of having to look up the various Mutt flags that show up only once in awhile on the index view. 

I decided to put them here for myself and maybe for you out there who need only this information and not a complete Mutt tutorial to plow through. 


Status Flags 

In addition to who sent the message and the subject, a short summary of the disposition of each message is printed beside the message number. Zero or more of the following “flags” may appear, which mean: 
  • D message is deleted (is marked for deletion) 
  • d message have attachments marked for deletion 
  • K contains a PGP public key 
  • N message is new 
  • O message is old 
  • P message is PGP encrypted 
  • r message has been replied to 
  • S message is PGP signed, and the signature is succesfully verified 
  • s message is PGP signed 
  • ! message is flagged 
  • * message is tagged 
Furthermore, the following flags reflect who the message is addressed to. They can be customized with the $to_chars variable. 
  • + message is to you and you only 
  • T message is to you, but also to or cc’ed to others 
  • C message is cc’ed to you 
  • F message is from you 
  • L message is sent to a subscribed mailing list

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ubuntu java, moving from 1.4 to 1.5 using java alternatives

Today I migrated my box at home to Ubuntu Edgy (6.10), went pretty smooth but borked out my locales (I can deal with that) and removed Perl for some reason. After straightening that out I wanted to move on to java 1.5 for my Java projects. This is when I hit the 'java alternatives' setup in Ubuntu for the first time.

The problem is I don't want to remove java 1.4 so I had to figure out how to reset the links in the alternatives system to point to java 1.5 and not java 1.4 anymore. Here is what I did:

# first install java 1.5. 
$ sudo aptitude install sun-java5-jre

# After the install finished I still had java 1.4 linked via the alternative system.
$ java -version

java version "1.4.2-02" 
Java(TM) 2 Runtime Environment, Standard Edition (build Blackdown-1.4.2-02) 
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (build Blackdown-1.4.2-02, mixed mode)

# here we can look at the current settings in the alternatives system. 
$ sudo update-java-alternatives --list

java-1.5.0-sun 53 /usr/lib/jvm/java-1.5.0-sun

# we want the 1.5 version so need to set that. 
$ sudo update-java-alternatives --set java-1.5.0-sun

# results are clearly that we are on java 1.5 now! 
$ java -version

java version "1.5.0_06" 
Java(TM) 2 Runtime Environment, Standard Edition (build 1.5.0_06-b05) 
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (build 1.5.0_06-b05, mixed mode) 

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Setting up eruby with apache2

I was trying to get my AbTLinux project trac site to display the ruby files in the browser today and thought it might save someone a bit of work by placing my solution here.
# 1)  installed eruby which gives you /usr/bin/eruby.

# 2) copy or symlink eruby to the apache2 cgi-bin direcotry. 
{cp | link -s} /usr/bin/eruby  apache2/cgi-bin/eruby

# 3) add the following code to your apache2 httpd.conf file.

AddType application/x-httpd-eruby .rhtml 
Action application/x-httpd-eruby /cgi-bin/eruby

# 4) add ruby file extensions to the DirectoryIndex 
#    directive, so it looks something like this. 

DirectoryIndex index.html index.shtml index.rhtml 
Just restart apache2 and you are ready to go, see the AbTLinux trac browser for the results! ;-)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Google page ranking tools

Today I checked out my sites Google Page Ranking and was surprised to see my ranking numbers. I guess I am getting some traffic after all! ;-)

There are a few sites and tools you can use to check any sites page ranking. They almost all include an option to generate some code to include a reporting counter on your site, some of them are pretty nice. I have added some to all my sites just to be able to keep an eye on this value. Here is a list of some of the nicer sites providing this sort of tooling:
  • CheckPageRank
  • BlogFlux
  • MyGooglePageRank
  • PR Checker
My favorite counter is the one on CheckPageRank, here is their code to add the counter to your site:
<!-- PageRank script -->
<a href="" title="Check Page Rank">
  <img src="" 
    alt="Check Page Rank" border="0" />
<br />
<script type="text/javascript">
     checkpagerank_url = '%domain%';
     checkpagerank_display_icon = true;
     checkpagerank_display_text = true;
     checkpagerank_new_window = false;
<script type="text/javascript"
For a counter with simplicity I love the one from BlogFlux, here is their code to add the counter to your site:
<a href="">
  <img src="" 
    alt="Google PageRank Checker - Page Rank Calculator" 
      width="80" height="15" border="0">
Good luck with your page rankings!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

AbTLinux package manager progress

This last week I got some time free in the evenings to work a bit on the abt package manager, part of AbTLinux distribution. I am working on it this weekend still but have implemented the following functionality based on a test package (fortune):
  • abt -h | –help
  • abt [ -n | news ]
  • abt show-details fortune
  • abt show-journal
  • abt [ -d | download ] fortune
  • abt [ -i | install ] fortune
I have all of the above functionality working and the install function is up to and including queuing the package for install. For more information you can see the project site and check the mailing lists or code repository (SVN on sourceforge) for progress reports.
I have been digging into Ruby as a programming language on the way and received my Ruby book (The Ruby Way, second edition, by Hal Fulton) order this weekend. That has sped up my work considerably! I am expecting to make some good progress over the coming month, so stay tuned! ;-)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Trying out a new technology:

After helping some people at work set this up, I thought I might try it for a bit myself. It is called Meebo and is a chat service that you can run from your browser (ajax based). It includes all major chat services, AIM, YAHOO, MSN, JABBER and ICQ.

One of the more interesting features is the chat widget that you can include in your website. I have added it to the bottom right corner of my site and if I am logged into my chat account, anyone can see that I am online and reach me by putting a message into the chat window there. This is a neat idea from the Meebo people, but I am not too sure how functional it is on the open Internet, so I am going to run a bit of a test for awhile and see if my family and friends overseas find this useful.

Hope to chat with you soon! ;-)

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Signed up for Basic Teaching Qualification (University level)

This week I became aware of the possibility at work to take a course, IOWO: LBK, that provides me with a basic university teaching diploma. Since I have been teaching from time to time at the Radboud University Nijmegen I decided to get together with my boss and discuss the possibilities. It seems to be funded by the University if you are teaching there and my boss thought it would be good for me too.

It involves 6 courses over a total of 260 hours, taking anywhere between one and two years to complete depending on how you plan it. Pretty interesting and would be a good refresher on the various courses I have had on teaching in the past.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Published my LogManager to PHP Classes

You can find my LogManager class on PHP Classes.

Published my BiBTeXManager to PHP Classes

I have wanted to do this for some time, but have now finally gotten some free time to submit some of my work to PHP Classes. I have started by uploading my BiBTeXManager. I plan to post more classes I have made soon as this seems like a nice central place to post my personal PHP library of classes. ;-)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween with my baby girl!

Being as this was the first Halloween that my daughter could go Trick-or-Treating, I wanted to make it fun. I started a few months ago by checking with the various neighborhood families here if they would be interested (in the Netherlands it is not really a known holiday) and many seemed up for it. We have several families with small kids around the age of my daughter and they thought it would be fun.

So I proceeded to put together some basic Halloween information (see below) for the Dutch people to get an idea of what it is all about. This flyer I passed out a few days before Halloween and asked them to put it in the window if you wanted to have us stop by.

We ended up with 5 kids, 2 baby’s in their strollers and 6 parents. We hit about 10 houses, some that didn’t even have the flyer in the window as it was just too much fun! The kids had a great time and scored enough candy to keep them sick for weeks. Next year we are going to include the surrounding streets and make this a bigger event!

Halloween in the USA
(An bit of extra information for those wondering what it is all about...)

Halloween did not become a holiday in America until the 19th century. The transatlantic migration of nearly two million Irish following the Irish Potato Famine (1845–1849) brought the holiday and its customs to America. When the holiday was observed in 19th­century America, it was generally in three ways. Scottish­American and Irish ­American societies held dinners and balls that celebrated their heritages, with perhaps a recitation of Robert Burns' poem "Halloween" or a telling of Irish
legends. Home parties would center around children's activities, such as bobbing for apples and various divination games, particularly about future romance. And finally, pranks and mischief were common on Halloween.

There is little documentation of masking or costuming on Halloween in America, or elsewhere, before 1900. Mass­produced Halloween costumes did not appear in stores until the 1950s, when trick­ or treating became a fixture of the holiday, although commercially made masks were available earlier.

In the United States, Halloween has become one of the most profitable holidays, next to Christmas, for retailers. In the 1990s many manufacturers began producing a larger variety of Halloween yard decorations; prior to this a majority of decorations were homemade. Some of the most popular yard decorations are jack­o'­lanterns, scarecrows, witches, orange and purple string lights, inflatable decorations such as spiders, pumpkins, mummies, vampires and other monstrous creatures, and window and door decorations. Other popular decoration are foam tombstones and gargoyles. The sale of candy and costumes are also extremely important during this time period. Halloween is marketed not just to children but also to adults. The most popular Halloween costumes for adults are, in order: witch, pirate, vampire, cat, and clown. On many college campuses, Halloween is a major celebration, with the Friday and Saturday nearest October 31 hosting many costume parties.

In 2005, 80 percent of adults planned to give out candy to trick­or­treaters, and 93 percent of children planned to go trick­or­treating. In many towns and cities, trick­or­treaters are welcomed by lighted porch lights. In some large or crime­ridden cities, however, trick­ or treating is discouraged, forbidden, or restricted to staged trick­or­treating events within one or more of the cities' shopping malls, in order
to prevent potential acts of violence against trick­or­treaters.

Those living in the country may hold Halloween parties, often with a bonfire or, in some years, the older Irish custom of building two bonfires, with the celebrants passing between them. These parties usually involve games (often traditional games like bobbing for apples, searching for candy in a similar manner to Easter egg hunting), a hayrack ride (often accompanied by a scary story and one or more
masked and costumed people hiding in the dark to jump out and scare the riders), and treats (usually a bag of candy and/or homemade treats).

The Legend of Jack­O'­Lantern

The Irish brought Jack­O'­Lantern to America. Jack was a legendary, stingy drunkard. He tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree for a juicy apple and then quickly cut the sign of the cross into the tree trunk, preventing the Devil from coming down. Jack made the Devil swear that he wouldn't come after his soul in any way. The Devil promised. However, this did not prevent Jack from dying. When he arrived at the gates of heaven, he was turned away because he was a stingy, mean drunk.
Desperate for a resting place, he went to the Devil. The Devil, true to his word, turned him away. "But where can I go?" pleaded Jack. "Back where you come from," spoke the Devil. The night was dark and the way was long, and the Devil tossed him a lighted coal from the fire of Hell. Jack, who was eating a turnip at the time, placed the coal inside and used it to light his way. Since that day, he has traveled the world over with his Jack­O'­Lantern in search of a place to rest.

Irish children carved out turnips and potatoes to light the night on Halloween. When the Irish came to America in great numbers in the 1840s, they found that a pumpkin made an even better lantern, and so this "American" tradition came to be.

Trick­or­Treat How To

  1. Kids dress up as a 'trickster' (pirate, ghost, witch, cowboy, princess, etc).
  2. Kids bring bag to hold treats.
  3. Look for house with front porch light on.
  4. Knock on door / ring door bell.
  5. When door opens, say/yell “Trick – or – Treat!”
  6. The person should give you something nice (preferably candy!).

I don't get what does ''trick or treat'' mean?

Question: When you say ''trick or treat'':
  • what do you do when they tell you ''trick''?
  • what do you do when they tell you ''treat''?
Answer: It comes from the fact that Halloween is honoring the spirits that are believed to roam the earth, and are tricksters.

Trick: are you going to play a prank on me?
Treat: Not if you give me a treat.

Friday, October 20, 2006

World Series Game 1 party!

Since my buddy Bas and I spent a night watching playoff baseball at his house, we have decided to catch a live World Series game together at my house too.

Tomorrow night, live at 0100 hours our time we will be tucking into some hotdogs and beers while cheering on the Detroit Tigers in Game 1. Go Tigers! ;-)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Jabber connection for GTalk

I have been having to search the Internet each time I want to setup a client to use GTalk, so have decided to post here the general information I need to setup any jabber client:
  • Add a new jabber account.
  • Enter your screenname, everything before
  • You need to login to the server
  • If supported by client, try to use TLS
  • Connection server is
  • Login with GMail password and you are set!

Nice joke

Since i have not had much to report on the Mini front (it runs, and keeps on running without problems for quite some time now), I thought I would post this joke I saw on our local mini mailinglist:

A boss walked into the office one morning not knowing that his zipper was down, and his fly wide open. His secretary walked up to him and said, “Boss this morning when you left your house, did you close your garage door?” This was not a phrase that her boss understood, so he went into his office looking a bit puzzled.

When he was about done with his paper work, he suddenly noticed that his zipper was not zipped up. He zipped up and remembering what his secretary had told him, finally understood. He then intentionally went out to ask for a cup of coffee from his secretary.

When he reached her desk, he said, “When you saw the garage door open did you see my jaguar parked in there?” The secretary smiled for a moment and said, “No, Boss, I didn’t. All I saw was a Mini with 2 flat tires.”


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Winter storage solution for my bike!

I found a nice hang up system for about 6 euros to put my racing bike up out of the way. Very nice, don’t you think? ;-)

Working Skype on Ubuntu / Kubuntu amd64

After migrating over to the Kubuntu KDE desktop, I still wanted very much to be able to use Skype, so having previously installed the ‘linux32′ environment I just downloaded the static tarball with QT included for i386:


I unpacked this in my users home directory and it and fired it up, bingo! We have Skype!

But wait a minute, the mic works over my speakers but a call to the Skype Test Call showed that nothing was working. A small change in the preferences from ALSA sound over to OSS with the /dev/dsp device and I have the mic working! Easy as pie.

Ubuntu to Kubuntu puts me back in KDE heaven!

I have been a long time Linux user, starting with SuSE and moving onwards to sourcebased distro’s. At work I pretty much don’t need the hassle of tyring to keep my sourcebased distro running smoothly while developing software against deadlines, so I jumped back onto the SuSE bandwagon.

As previously posted here, I moved off of SuSE and gave Ubuntu a try. I am rather happy with the move, even on my amd64 it is running rather well. I did hit a few problems with flash and such not being available for the 64 bit environment, but was able to solve these problems by making use of the ‘linux32′ environment (just google a bit and you will find how to install flash and such for amd64’s on Ubuntu).

Having conquered that hurdle, I desperately wanted to move over to KDE for my desktop (sorry, I am a KDE fan), so this is what I did instead of reinstalling with KUbuntu:

  • sudo bash
  • aptitude search kubuntu
  • aptitude install kubuntu-artwork-usplash kubuntu-default-settings kubuntu-desktop kubuntu-docs kubuntu-grub-splashimages kubuntu-konqueror-shortcuts
  • reboot and watch the pretty KDE stuff run!
Now I know it is all not necessary but I like the various splash screens too. As of today I am back into KDE land!

Winter storage solution for my bike!

I found a nice hang up system for about 6 euros to put my racing bike up out of the way. Very nice, don’t you think? ;-)

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Bit of a sprint to Uden today.

Today the weather was nice enough to take the bike over to Uden for a grandma visit for Isabel. So Mommy and Isabel took the car and Daddy hopped on the bike. A bit more than 35 km’s, but did it like a time trial (as fast as I safely could). With the towns and a few traffic lights in there that I need to stop for I was still able to get an average speed of 30.4 from door to door!

Matej Eric Roth, my little buddy is here!

My best friend Jody in North Carolina has had a little baby boy, Matej Eric Roth. Something special about seeing your name being passed on, hard to put into words but a very big honor for me.

He is a cute little bugger (little, the guy was over 9lbs!), don’t you think?

Matej Eric Roth

Thursday, October 5, 2006

IRIS PMS promoted to ICIS PMS!

As previously stated in ‘Publication Management System is being adopted at RU!’, my publication management software has been bumped up for service at an institute level.

Yesterday I released version 1.2.0 for usage by the complete computer science institute at the Radboud University Nijmegen. After a few weeks of hard work to get the submission process ready for cross-departmental usage and import over 450 legacy publication entries from the previous FileMakerPro database, it has finally been released to the masses!

You can see the results of ICIS research work via the publications listing found on our site, just follow the Research link.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

First big ride since my broken hand.

Off with my buddy Marcel and we did a 60 km ride today around Waalwijk and Heusden. My hand was fine but my wrist started to bother me on the bouncy brick roads in the villages towards the end of the ride. Good to hurt again, pain is good, means I am still alive! ;-)

Top loves baseball too!

My best buddy is a bit of a baseball nut too! ;-)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I have Major League Baseball!!!

After 13 years I have finally got the perfect and affordable solution in house, Digital TV from @Home. They have a package that provides many channels, most of which are nice enough, but one that is awe inspiring! It is the North American Sports Network.

This is a satellite sender that has the rights to MLB, NFL and more. They show the games live and then replay them later in our timezone at decent hours without many commercials. Most of it is from ESPN and it includes the original announcers from the USA, just like when I was growing up in Oregon! This all comes at the perfect moment, just as the season is winding down and the playoffs are starting. Bring on the World Series!

It was as easy to arrange too, just the slight problem that the digital decoder and starters kit I needed was sold out in the local shops. I wanted the Philips DCR 2020/03, but that was unavailable. I searched a bit online and bought it from (see below). Ordered it at 2100 hrs one night and had it in house by 1200 hrs the next day. Setup and running in about 10 minutes, with registration of the decoder card online!

I am so looking forward to the games while relaxing on my couch, just like in my youth! ;-)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Another short ride today

Was not too bad, only did 16 km, but my hand was not bothering me and my wrist was OK too. I had to keep it short as I left around 1900 hrs and it is starting to get dark here earlier and I don’t like to bike in the dark.

I am going to wait another week before trying to get the cycle-gang (Marcel and Robert) back together for a weekend tour. Hang in there guys, I am almost back!

More data found on PFC Henry L. Hooper

A family friend back in the United States has been digging in the archives she can access (thanks a bunch Imogene!) and has come up with some new information on PFC Henry L. Hooper:

  • Service Number - 39206277
  • Awards:
    • Bronze star
    • Purple Heart
    • European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
    • World War II Victory Medal
    • World War II Service Lapel Button

I will continue to dig, trying to find out more about his time between enlistment and up to his passing. If you have any information, please leave a comment.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Migrated to Ubuntu for amd64

So, finally had enough of my opensuse boxes (both amd64’s) failing to work correctly with the new Mono update software that Novell has decided to introduce. I have dropped it in favor of Ubuntu. I am not a big fan of Gnome but have just installed the various KDE tools I enjoy and it all works OK. Currently the only down side I can find is that FireFox does not have a flash plugin for x86_64, thus watching is out of the question. Other than that, nice stuff.

Publication Management System is being adopted at RU!

I am currently working on a new release that will provide support for the entire Computer Science faculty, allowing for technical report submissions and reporting of departmental publications. I am not sure if all the departments will be using it as extensively as IRIS does, but it is a broader user base which should put it to the test!

I am about 50% finished with the changes needed to allow all departments to submit new technical reports, view them, edit them and generate overviews of their publications. Will announce the new version release soon I hope!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Back on the bike today!

My buddy Marcel and I took to the road again after 5 1/2 weeks, my broken hand has reached the point of testing it on a short ride. I only went about 20 km as the wrist and hand is still a bit weak so the bumpy cobble stone roads were a bit painful, but all in all not a bad start. Rehabilitation has begun!

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

For all my military buddies…

Here is one I could not help posting this one, it is not far off on my personal experiences from transitioning from the USMC to commercial ICT work. (I have linked the comic to the original site, hoping to provide enough credit where credit is due to prevent any infringement problems, this strip is copyrighted and property of United Media)


Friday, September 1, 2006

Cast off after three and half weeks

So, yesterday morning I was off to the hospital to get my cast off and check the progress of my broken hand. They removed the cast and it was not a very pretty sight due to the scratches I had obtained in my original fall, but it was nice to have the thing off!

The doctor checked me out and said that the cast had been a bit tight on my outer three fingers causing some rubbing blisters between the knuckles and some bruising (see the pics), but other than that I would have to take it easy for a week. The normal time is four weeks in a cast, so he made me promise to wait a week before I start working the hand to get strength back.

I spent the better part of an hour in a hot shower once I got home to loosen up the stiffness, remove some of the garbage from being in a cast and just because it was wonderful to have my hand back. After drying it off it was still pretty painful, from the blood starting to properly circulate through the fingers again. My knuckles swelled up a bit and I decided to wrap the hand up in a soft bandage for the day.

This morning I woke up and have kept the hand out of the bandage all morning. It is slowly getting better but you can see in the pictures that there is some serious swelling and bruising that needs to be a bit more healed before I start to work on mobility. But I am free!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

More one my hand…

Last week Tuesday I headed back to the hospital for what I was told would be a new fiberglass light weight cast. I get there, am sent straight to the cast room without seeing the doctor and the lady there wants to cut off my old cast without even looking at my file. I asked her what the hell she was doing because I was pretty sure that my broken hand was not set in 8 days and I was not planning on going thru the 4-doctor procedure of resetting my hand because she cuts my cast off without thinking…

After stopping to look at my file and calling up a few x-rays on the computer she thought it would be a better idea to leave the cast as it was. Doh! I guess to make it look like my trip to the hospital was not for nothing, which basically it was, they removed the top layer (pink) and gave me a new purple one. I was then told it would all be removed at the end of the month (only in cast for 3 1/2 weeks by then).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Crash and burn…

Last Sunday I was out riding with my buddy Marcel, a nice sunny day to cycle to his parents and back. We left around 0830 and as it was quite cool out I had decided to wear long legged tights until it warmed up later. We arrived without incident at Marcel’s parents house 45 km later, enjoyed a few coffees and I removed the long trousers to continue in my shorts which I had on under them. I balled up the long trousers and stuffed them under the back of my shirt, something I have done often.

Departing at around 1100 hrs we headed back for home, stopping at 1145 hrs to call home to let the ladies know we would be a bit later than we had planned. We were at 71km’s distance for the day, just about to leave Drunen when the long trousers decided to drop out of my shirt, into my back wheel… I was standing up and the bike just stopped under me… needless to say, I went head over heals onto the rather rough pavement and slid onto the grass next to the bike path we were on. Marcel was in front of me and was rather shocked at the noise I made hitting the ground and of my bike flying around. He rushes back to me while I am spitting out grass and taking assessment of the damage. I have various bruises, scraped a good deal of skin off my arms, legs, elbows and knees. The worst was my left hand, broken for sure as I can’t see my last knuckle anymore or feel my last two fingers.

Marcel’s girlfriend Diana was nice enough to pick me up and take me to the emergency room. 3,5 hours later I have the cast and sore body that is the grand total at the 1700 km mark of my cycling summer. I am out of biking and off the road for 5-6 weeks I am told.

The knuckle is broken off the top end of the bone in my hand just under the pinkie. It took four doctors two tries to set it and a grand total of 7 x-rays before I was allowed to go home. Man did this hurt, more than my other injuries in the past (broken collar-bone, both wrists, right hand and blown out knee). The pictures are of me heading to the hospital the day after the accident as they though it might need an operation to set it right. Luckily not!

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

First flat tire yesterday

I rode to work yesterday with Robert along for the ride. Was nice to chat on the way to Nijmegen and he dropped in for coffee before heading home again.

I left work a bit early as the weather was not too nice with severe rain showers expected later in the afternoon. Keeping an eye on I picked the best time I could to head for home. On the way there I had to stop twice, once under an overpass and once under a tree for about 15 minutes to let the rain showers pass.

Just outside of s-Hertogenbosch I got a flat back tire, checked the km count and I was at 1700 km in total without a puncture. Luckily, I had a spare tube with me. I proceeded to removed the old one, find the piece of glass (actually two pieces) that caused the puncture, removed these and inserted the new tube. Took me about 20 minutes in all as I have never done it before, but luckily I was in a patch of sun so not working in the rain! ;-)

Total ride was 111 km’s and took about 5 hours (due to bad weather and wind on the way back home). My legs were pretty toasted yesterday evening! :-)

Monday, July 31, 2006

Weekend ride around s-Hertogenbosch

This weekend I rode again with our tour group of Marcel and Robert around s-Hertogenbosch. Robert had to catch a train at 1000 hrs so we met at my house and did a ride around Vught and back to his house in the center of town. We stopped there and had a bit to drink before Marcel and I continued on for a bit more touring. It covered eventually 57 km’s and we go in just before the rain started so was a good day! ;-)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Fixing up the house a bit

This weekend has been devoted to finishing up the various little tasks that needed to be done on our house. I have several projects that I wanted to finish before we start on getting the my daughters room ready for the baby. We want to move her from the baby room and give her her very own room. This will need cleaning out (was a storage area), painting and the addition of new furniture.

Before we begin on that I wanted to replace our old shower screen, a glass sliding thing that has been in the house for about 10 years. We now have a very nice folding one that I put in, including fresh sealing along most of the tub.

Also needed to finish up the top floor of our house which I had remodelled myself, adding a loft and splitting the large single area into two rooms. We only needed to finish the painting of the laundry area (two walls and the ceiling) one last time. I also want to put up some decorative things in the corners where the walls meet the ceiling to hide any gaps between these walls. They are there to allow the room which is built on the top floor of our house to work in the heat and cold. Once the paint dries I can hang pictures and mark this done!

Next step is to clean out my daughters new room and get it done before the end of August.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Flying to Nijmegen today!

Total ride of 109,6 km. Average speed on the way there was 29,7 km/hr and I was able to hold long stretches of road at 32 km/hr. No rest stops on the way or back home (normally I stop at least once each way to give my bottom a rest). Total average speed was 28,6 km/hr for the total ride.

I was flying, I guess our vacation for three weeks in the Dutch mountains paid off!

Weekend ride through Vught

Took a short 44 km ride last Saturday together with Robert and he led me through the very nice village of Vught. We spent most of the time riding in wooded areas and past very large houses. Nice area, I plan to tour more on that side of s-Hertogenbosh in the future.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sunday tour ride

Today I went with two friends, Marcel and Robert, for a ride of 49 km’s from here in s-Hertogenbosch in the direction of Heusden and Waalwijk. Was early enough to be cool when we started and a bit warm as we returned but all in all a nice ride! We have decided to make this a standard thing on Sundays for as much as the vacations and weekend appointments allow.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Climbing the Keutenberg!

On July 11th, 2006 I got the chance to take some pictures of me climbing the Keutenberg, one of the most famous of the Dutch ‘mountains’ in Limburg. What makes this one special is that it has a grade of 22%! For a more complete pictorial you can see the link to Climbing the Keutenberg.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Limburg vacation week three results!

The final week (July 12) on vacation in Limburg and I have finished my mountain ’stage’!

  • 11/07 - 2x Keutenberg and swing by Margraten in a 35 km ride (will post pictures of this soon)

Grand total of 35 km and 3 climbs!

Limburg vacation week two results!

The second week (July 08) on vacation in Limburg and I have takes a bit longer trips to include Belgium.

  • 2/07 - Gulperberg + 4 km climb to Margraten + 4e cat. climb by Eckelrade + long climb to Cadier en Keer + Cauberg in a 42 km ride
  • 06/07 - followed part of the course from the 3rd stage of Tour de France: 3 km 4e cat. climb from Eijs to Trintelen + Cauberg + 4e cat. climb from Wijlte to Elkenrade in a 33 km ride
  • 08/07 - Vaals + 3 landenpunt 4e cat climb + Belgium via Sippenaeken - Teuven - Slenaken which included 3x long 4e cat. climbs + 4e cat. climb from Tour de France stage by Slenaken in a 50 km ride

Grand total of 125 km and 13 climbs!

Limburg vacation week one results!

The first week (June 29) on vacation in Limburg and I have checked out the three most famous ‘mountains’ they have here.

  • 24/06 - Keuterberg in a 27 km ride
  • 25/06 - Gulperberg in a 37 km ride
  • 27/06 - 2x The Cauberg in a 40 km ride
  • 29/06 - 4 km climb by Epen in a 33 km ride

Grand total of 137 km and 5 climbs!

Tour de France 2006 - 3rd stage!

A few pictures of my day at the Tour de France on July 04, 2006:

Visit to PFC Henry L. Hooper with my daughter

I visited Margraten on the 3rd of July with my daughter to place some flowers and pass on a bit of the story to her. Was a nice thing to start sharing with her, I hope to do this often in the future together.

The first picture is of us laying the flowers that my daughter picked herself on PFC Henry L. Hoopers grave. The second is of us selecting a single flower to be placed on a Medal of Honor winner who lays a few rows away (I always do this when I visit). The final picture shows us talking a bit about what happened to PFC Henry L. Hooper. Even though I know she will not understand most of it I feel one can begin small with these stories.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A guided tour of Limburg by Marcel

Here are a few shots of me and my friend Marcel before we take off to cycle though the Dutch mountains in Limburg on the 25th of June. This was our first weekend on vacation and I had never been cycling in Limburg. When Marcel and his girlfriend dropped in for a visit over the weekend he offered to show around.

We ended up taking a 37 km ride and climbing the Gulperberg. He tells me he remembers a not too steep climb, but turned out to be a pretty vicious one that I almost did not make… thanks Marcel for kicking our butts! ;-)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Over the 1000km cycling!

I passed the 1000km distance on my bike yesterday. I had taken a few short 20-25 km rides over the last week due to the heat and lack of time for a longer ride.

Yesterday I whipped by the Van Tuyl bike shop to have my bike checked before I try climbing the Dutch mountains (Limburg). The plan is to try out the famous hills that one sees in the Amstel race here in the Netherlands each year. I am very curious as to how hard or easy I will find climbing mountains! ;-)

CJ moves out…

For awhile now we have been contemplating an offer by my brother-in-law to allow CJ to come and live with him and his girlfriend permanently. They have just moved in together, have their own place with enough room for a cat or two so decided it was a good idea. We are expecting our second child and CJ is a very intensive cat in that she loves attention. As anyone with kids can tell you, that attention that CJ used to have sole right to is now divided between kids and her.

She is getting the short end of the stick and we are absolutely sure that she will be getting mega attention from Robby and Tessa. As you can see from the pictures she is right at home within 24 hours!

The nice part is that we can visit her anytime we feel the need for a cat cuddle! ;-)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Morning ride Tuesday

Tuesday morning I cycled to work. It was lovely with 18 degrees at the start and climbing up to 23 degrees by the time I got to Nijmegen. I knew it would be too warm in the afternoon to bike home so took the train. Good thing too as it was 34,5 degrees when I left for home! I am not too sure if cycling home would have been much hotter than the train ride was…. horrible!

Total ride was 65 km’s.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Opensuse 10.1 upgrade woes, SMART to the rescue!

This last week I spent some time updating my AMD64 box from Opensuse 10.0 to 10.1. All seemed to go smoothly until one tries to use the package manager…

First off you expect to use YOU and YAST, the eternal SUSE tools that have always worked exceptionally well for me in the past. I was rather surprised to find that there was something called Zen on my machine and an .EXE file running in my process list! It seems that Opensuse 10.1 is in a transition to a new package manager and update system based on MONO code, for more details please see these sites for their detailed explanations: Desktoplinux, SuseDiary.

The only problem with these explanations is that for me they do not work. The YAST package manager seems to be partially working as if some components are no longer available or supported? The YOU updater is just gone. The Zen updater and Rug package manager are running but seem to have problems finishing any sort of update whether run by a user with superuser privileges or root itself. Rather a problem for me.

I did some research last night and stumbled on a new solution called Smart which seems to take care of all the problems everyone has been having. I spent some time reading about it and followed the great installation guide at Dev-Loki and I am once again updating my Opensuse 10.1 box without any problems. For this I am really grateful, as in the meantime I had almost abandoned Opensuse for some other distro. Thanks to the authors for saving my Opensuse box! ;-)

Short ride Saturday in the heat!

I took a short ride midday on Saturday when the temperature was hitting around 30 decrees Celsius. Boy was that a bit too much, therefore I kept the ride short (21 km’s). I just did a swing around ’s-Hertogenbosch and back home via Empel which takes me along the Mass river which is always a nice view. Even with the short length I drank two bottles of water, so next time I think I will only bike in the morning when it is still cool! ;-)

Friday, June 9, 2006

Finished up the new path in the backyard

Last week I finally got delivery on the 170 stones I thought would be enough to finish up the stone path in our backyard. As you can see in the first picture I calculated wrong. I used up way too much on the small filler pieces on the corner and ends. I ended up with about 50 more being needed as you can see in the second picture.

I jumped on the Internet and found 50 more available in a small village near by. I could pick them up for free! Last Saturday I did that and you see the final results in the last photo after I filled the groves with sand. You will notice the last 50 stones are a red color which differs from the rest of the pattern. I decided to take that for what it is worth and wait until the first winter hits to color them all with moss. Then you can’t see what the colors are of the stones anyway. Was good to get this finished, we have wanted to do this for some time now!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Cycling physical passed!

Yesterday I spent a few hours at the local hospital together with a sports doctor to evaluate my current condition with regards to cycling longer distances. The tests included a heart EKG, blood work, body fat measurements, general health check and lung potential measurements.

What was funny was the doctor was someone I knew from sight as I have season tickets to the local first division football club FC Den Bosch. She was their physio doctor for about three years and used to sit behind me with the other doctors during the games! We also chatted about her other team she takes care of now, the Den Bosch pro basketball team.

Anyhow, the results where fine. To put it in her words, “Bike as hard as you want to push yourself, you know what pain is OK.” ;-)
Some of the resulting data was pretty interesting as I used to be measured for some of this stuff in my previous military life, so I was interested in comparing a normal persons values to what my top condition was back then.

  • Weight is currently 84.4 kg (with clothes on), optimal weight would be 81 kg. Interesting as in my top form I was 79 kg.
  • Body fat is currently 21,5%, should be 17% with deviation of +/- 2% allowed. In my top form I had once measured 7% body fat.
  • Some lung values:
    • forced vital capacity (FVC) is 5,52 liters
    • forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) is 4,52 liters
    • pulmonary function (PF) is 13,0 liters/sec.

These seemed pretty interesting to me, basically I can go into ‘Hurt me plenty” mode and enjoy my rides!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A trip in the rain to Nijmegen today

I biked to work today in the rain… that was an experience! The weather was supposed to rain early and then let up later in the morning so I just expected to dry out after the first hour before I got to work. No go, though it did stop raining after about 30km. Just to make sure I didn’t get to work dry, it decided to hose me down as I entered Nijmegen… damn, it is not nice when your shorts are soaked! ;-)

The clothes were laid out over the radiators at work (by the elevators at the end of the hall as they are the only ones working in our building) to dry. I headed home at 1600 hrs and it was nice and dry. The wind was blowing out of the west which is my direction home, I was exhausted by the time I got to s-Hertogenbosh. Most of the way I was only able to keep a speed of 21-24 km/hr, so it took me over 2 and 1/2 hours to get home.

This is again 109.39 km and I feel this one in my legs big time!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Started in on AbTLinux design!

I have gotten some time to work on the AbTLinux design, putting together via Ruby’s rdoc a simple overview of the classes to be used based on our requirements document. It has taken a bit to get the hang of Ruby’s rcod, finding the IDE I might be using (still a toss up between vim and FreeRIDE), template the doc design I like and hammering out the classes in a form that will generate the API docs.

The key here is to stay away from actual coding, so I am just outlining the classes at this point. Based on our requirements I have a pretty good overview and it should slowly start to emerge at Abt API link on the AbTLinux site. Very curious as to how this will end up with my knowledge of Ruby being very limited. It is refreshing to design without being influenced by my knowledge of the language, but I am wondering what this will lead to when I apply OO design elements that are not available in Ruby (for example, it is missing multiple inheritance).

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Implemented ModialParser in Java

As the local bosses here seems to want to implement a Java based ModialParser, I spent the last three days porting my PHP version over to Java (1.4.2). You can find download the jar file modialparser.jar which you can run from a console (Linux/Unix for sure, Microsoft I have no idea about):

java -jar modialparser.jar

This will give you the usage.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Fine weather to finally replace that gravel path!

I have been wanting to replace our white gravel path in the backyard with a brick path. The back of our garden is connected to our patio via this path and since Isabel discovered the stones they have been going all over the backyard. We even find them in her pockets, under chairs and in the car!

Enough is enough, I started by digging out the gravel and removing the existing deteriorated anti-weed blanket that was under the path. I evened it all out, laid down new anti-weed tarp and leveled off that with some left over beach sand from the sandbox.

I started with about 50 stones I had left over in the shed and collected what I could find here in the local hardware / garden shops (about 70 more stones). This only got me a bit less than half way done as you can see. I have ordered another 170 stones (they are 10×10x6cm) which will take a week to get here. Very amazed that they are not just available as they are the most common stone used in local backyards here.

New stone path in backyard

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Another long ride

Today I took a ride on the bike to Nijmegen and back, total distance was just over 109 kms.

The trip over was great, left early with a friend that wanted to only tag along until Oss (about 20kms) but he ended up making the entire trip to Nijmegen. We went much slower than I would normally go as he is just starting out, but it was nice to have someone to chat with and he knows the route really well. He spent time in the Dutch military stationed at an old base on the route to Nijmegen. It took us around 2 hours and 45 mins to get there with a break for breakfast at about the halfway mark.
The trip home was warm but with almost no wind I was able to keep my speed up to 30 km/hr or more most of the way (used my largest outside gear blade most of the way). Made it home in 2 hours and 05 minutes! I was much more carefull of feeding and drinking this time and consumed over the entire day the following:

  • 5 peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches
  • 4 packs of yogurt strawberry drink
  • 1 liter of Gatorade
  • 700 ml of drink mix (water and syurup)
  • 4 slices of ‘pepperkoek’ (sort of dark sweet bread)
  • 2 egg sandwiches and a bowl of soup for lunch
  • 2 snickers
  • several cookies

What amazes me is that I was never full the whole day, just hungry! ;-)
Next week I have a fitness test schedualed at the hospital, something just to make sure I am fit for such exertions and that nothing is wrong with my heart, lungs, etc. The test is the same needed for a Dutch Cycle Racing License, so should be good enough for me!

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Baby girl was helping me work on the Mini!

Working on the Mini as it has been running worse and worse. It is lagging on power and seems to be using too much fuel. I have spent the evening tracing the fault through the contact points and carburetor, but unable to find it. Made an appointment with my garage to bring it by for a look.

Even though we did not find the problem, my baby girl and I had a good time playing with the tools! ;-)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Queens Day 2006 with my baby girl!

We made it to Queens Day celebrations in Den Bosch this morning, got mostly good weather as the forcast is for bad rain and hail in the afternoon. We wandered about, bought some toys for my daughter from the kids selling off their old ones and even danced a bit in front of a DJ’s podium with my baby girl!