Eric D. Schabell: June 2008

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Visited Bastogne memorial to Battle of the Bulge

For those of you who don't know me very well, I have a soft spot for visiting historical battle fields, monuments, and generally historical military points of interest.

While on our vacation I was able to visit Bastogne. This is the sight of one of the more famous battles of World War II in the European theater, the Battle of the Bulge. The Mardasson Memorial marks the spot and is pictured in the top left corner.

My daughter and I climbed to the top of the monument which offers an amazing view of the entire area. There are 10 pillars holding the building up on which the Bulge story unfolds as you are led around the interior.

In the middle of the monument you have the plaque you see pictured on the bottom left. The flowers were still there from the most recent memorial day.

The museum was not much to see, but the monument was worth the ride. I am always in awe when confronted with historical facts while standing on those same hallowed grounds...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

PRIMA project final grades

Today was the final presentation and defence of their thesis at the Fontys School in Eindhoven. As you can see here it went pretty well (on the board is their grade, a 9.0) for the PRIMA project, which explains the big grins. ;-)

Graduation is in July but I am glad to see that Lisa and Ikram received a good grade for their work. Lisa will be starting a new job at DAF as an Information Analyst and Ikram will be starting a Masters at the TU in Delft this fall. They both worked hard for this and the results have been more than we expected throughout the entire project.

I want to wish them all the luck in the world and hope their paths will cross mine again in the future.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Backyard renovation approaching completion

Today the backyard renovation project laid out the new ground and got ready to lay down grass. To shape the boarder they also bricked out the edges of the lawn.

You can see clearly here the new stepping stones that form the path, which include small LED lighting in each second stone. You can also see the flexible hose used to hook up the sprinkler system that will mean I do not have to run around with a hose anymore!

The next step will be to put in manure, plants, and grass, so stay tuned.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Backyard project laying out the brick work

Today the backyard renovation project took a turn from destruction and started on the creation phases of the project. Up to now they have only been removing things from the backyard, today they started putting some of the pieces back together.

They laid out the patio in the back left corner and put in the bricking. The dug out the drainage pipe and sunk it down a few centimeters so that my kids would not trip over it. They also have redone the front patio bricking to make to front edge a straight line. This last task removed some sunken places in the front patio bricking. You can also see in the photo take from above that the 1m x 1m step stone plates are stacked against the left fence. These will be used to create a path between the front patio and the back one. Two will have embedded LED lights in them.

The final photo shows the integrated water system tube coming out of the patio which will provide me with a single turn on point for watering the entire backyard. Little sprinklers just pop up out of the ground, gotta love that! You can also see the thin black wiring that will be attached to a switch in the garage for turning on the complete backyard lighting system that will be installed (including the lights in the stepping stones).

The next step will be putting in fill dirt, manure, and then planing the grass and flowers. I can't wait until next week!

PRIMA project goodbye party

Turn down the music... turn off the lights... the party is over...

The PRIMA project has completed it's tasks at the SNS Bank and are off into the wide world. It started when I met them in the fall of 2007 at an open evening at the SNS Bank and since that time we have put together an amazing tool. From January 2008 to June 2008 the two team members, Lisa and Ikram, worked diligently within a SCRUM project framework to produce the foundations of a project reporting tool that has already caught the imagination of departments outside our Java team. It has been a great ride and I would like to thank them both for making me look good!

The project team not only enlightened the Java team as to what their project was doing, but they also spoiled us with their food. Thanks for the Gado Gado and Indonesian cake that you see us all enjoying in the pictures.

The 46" LCD screen is on the wall, the projects are being reported, and the European Championships have integrated the PRIMA projects display into our Dutch supporting gear as you can see in the photo to the left.

Even though it was their last few hours, Ikram and Lisa kept up the great work ethic they showed during the entire project by pushing out one last deployment. This contained improvements to make a few more members of the Java team happy and the final photo shows Ikram deploying during the final minutes of his internship.

They have given their final presentation of the PRIMA project to the SNS Bank, handed over copies of their final thesis, and will be making the final school presentation in two weeks at the Fontys school in Eindhoven before receiving their final grades.

I will have to think long and hard about this grade as they both snuck off without washing my car first... ;-)

Friday, June 13, 2008

A fun toy, the Wordle

Check out this little toy:

"Wordle is a toy for generating 'word clouds' from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text."

So what can you do with it, well I have put in my blog front page and this is what you get out (click to view a bigger result).

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Backyard renovation cleans out the greenery

The backyard renovation project has taken off at full speed. They finished cleaning out the stumps, roots, and bricks that were left over from yesterday. They basically came through here yesterday with a big pair of shears and wacked all the plants and trees they could find.

Today they brought in a mini digger through our garage and you can seem them pulling up all the left over stuff. It was amazing to watch them drive that thing through the doorways to get out back...

They used two flatbed trailers to haul away all the greenery they had cut out yesterday. Today it was all put into a big container that was delivered in the morning via a semi truck.

I was off to work at 0900 hours so only saw the start, but when I got home they had filled the container full of roots, old bricks, and lots of earth that they had scraped off. They also left behind a mound of sand and had setup the brick layers that would be coming in the weekend with sand laid out in the patio areas.

These guys have been doing a real nice job and meeting all deadlines so far. What more can you ask for?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

PRIMA project and sushi?

You must be wondering what the PRIMA project has to do with sushi. Well, let me tell you! After finishing up the application (see the screenshots) last week we headed out into town for some sushi. As you can see, we had some trouble catching any sushi on our plates for the photos, but we had a great time!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The backyard renovation project

We have decided to entirely redo our backyard. We moved into this house in March of this year and the backyard is not very child friendly, it has not been maintained over the last three years, and is only filled with non-flowering (mostly trees) plants.

We started by getting a design done by some gardening center here that was advertising for 50 euros. This was the basis from which our backyard will eventually be redone. Call it a baseline, but with a few additions and subtractions to make it just how we want it.

Today they came in to remove the old trees, plants, and overgrown fence that was our backyard. As you can see from the photo, the before is like living in the forest. My daughter (3 years) would be biking around the trees on the path and be thrown into the shrubs by the tree roots pushing up the bricking. My son, 18 months and just walking, would be falling down on each brick that was sticking up.

You can see that there is a lot of wasted space filled only with large bushy plants. What you don't see is the creeping vines from the left hand fence that have grown up through the trees and are sticking out off the top, over 15 meters in the air.

I can't wait to see what it looks like after I get home from work tomorrow and they have cleaned it all out!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

PRIMA project final screen shots

The results are in, the students are working hard to finish up their bachelor thesis and presentation slides while we here at SNS Bank IT enjoy their work on the large LCD screen. For your enjoyment I wanted to provide a few screen shots here.

The first one is of the legend, providing the user with an overview of the used components and what the reporting elements mean. A very important one is the algorithm used to determine the over all project score.

The second one shows a listing of projects that have been put into the PRIMA monitor. They show the results of the previously described project algorithm and visual aids for the number impaired! ;-)

Finally, there is a single project overview page showing this projects status. Some components are not showing any data as they are not used in the metrics gathering for this project.

this week. Even so, you get a real good idea of week, so thereThe PRIMA project will do final delivery next will be a bit of polishing done later the results they have achieved with this project.

Kudo's to the PRIMA team!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Adobe Online Office Suite - an amazing experience

I was playing with this suite after reading the review entitled, Adobe Launches Online Office Suite and New Flash-Enabled Acrobat 9 - ReadWriteWeb.

This is rather amazing to experience, give it a try by registering over at The feeling they create by deviating from the standard porting of a desktop application to the web is one you must try yourself. I plan to give it a try when writing a paper with someone and the meeting software with a friend in the USA.

Hope it continues to provide this for everyone, drawing users into the Adobe world without charge.