Catmas picture…

Michelle and I decided that it might be nice to have a picture of us, our 35(!) year old Christmas tree and the two cats.

Yeah, I we probably need some practice working with posed cat pictures. But I thought it looked funny, so I made an animated GIF of most of the attempts so you can see and have a laugh.

If you hold out to the end (only 52 pictures) you’ll see Maverick reappear for a single frame…

Click Here to see the picture
Read More…

Posted under Amusing, Photos

This post was written by Marc
on December 11, 2008 at 11:53 pm

The Christmas Season

John Snider over at “American Freethought“, source of a podcast I very much enjoy, posted a message asking how folks deal with the holidays. i.e. do we avoid all things “Christmas” or go with the flow…

Here is my response:

Hi John,

I enjoy the whole of the winter holiday season. There seems so little left of religiosity by the time both the religions and the merchandisers get through with it that there isn’t very much to take exception to.

The Christmas music is pleasant, I enjoy gift giving (and receiving), I love seeing my family and having an excuse to see my friends even more often than usual under festive circumstances.

My friends know me as an avowed atheist and we are all respectful of each other as there are some quite religious folks numbered among them. We have occasional spirited debates but they aren’t at all stressful for me and, I earnestly believe, they are informative for my sparring partner(s).

It’s hard to get upset over the quaint rituals of outdated 2000 year old bronze-age sky god ramblings or with their reinvention as marketing tools that, as a byproduct, give this time of year it’s uniqueness…


Posted under Opinions

This post was written by Marc
on December 9, 2008 at 12:28 pm

Quotes – 01

“It is easier to have a strong opinion when you lack information.”

– Michael Crichton

I was listening to a 2003 interview with Mr. Crichton on the “Tech Nation” podcast and he was describing a time shortly after he had written the book “Rising Sun”. There were several members on a board on which he served who were threatening to quit the board if he did not resign since Michael was obviously a racist. On being asked, none of the objecting board members had actually read the book, they had just heard that it was a racist tome.

It’s pretty obvious that, far from making decisions and issues simpler, more knowledge, more information can tease out even more issues that take you from an apparently black and white situation of an idealised fantasy world to the omnipresent gray that represents the real world.

So beware of people who tell you with confidence that their pat, simple answer is the only right way to go. They either do not know what they are talking about, they are ignoring large aspects of the situation or they are lying to you.

It is OK to have an informed opinion, but there is no opinion that is valid out of context. Be sure you understand that context.

Posted under Opinions, Skepticism

This post was written by Marc
on December 8, 2008 at 9:43 am

Winmail.dat file issue in Lotus Notes workaround (finally)

Lotus Notes LogoFrom the timestamps I see that this gem has been available since June of 2006 but I certainly had not heard about it.

Microsoft (M$), always there with useful products, also always manages to make things *just* different enough from standard that you can’t really seem to call them on it but they make it impossible to cleanly interface with their products as a competitor.

Case in point is Outlook and Exchange. If you create a message using M$’s email client and send it out the door using their Rich Text Format which seems to be of a proprietary nature, the message that arrives at the other end will be wrapped up in a file called “Winmail.Dat”.

For Lotus Notes this has always been a problem since the Domino server does not have the ability to unravel this proprietary formatting and so the recipient ends up with a useless (winmail.dat )attachment.

I know that there have been some fairly sophisticated attempts at providing solutions but the recipients of these messages are often business users with better things to do than try to master the arcane world of command line utilities with multistep processes.

Until now all we could really tell our users was to contact the sender and have them re-send the message but ensuring that they send with “Plain Text” instead of “RTF”. This is understandably awkward for a business user trying to look professional and it wasn’t doing my ego any wonders either.

The only really practical solution, besides Lotus actually dealing with the issue and including it in their SMTP router is this one presented to me by a co-worker (thanks Anton!). Created by Julian Robichaux (as far as I can tell as his name is all over the database) it is a simple mail-in database that you set up in your Domino environment. Your internal (and external if you wish to help out the rest of the world) Users then forward these nuisance messages to it and it replies back with the “unraveled” files.

So again the link is to Project WinmailExtractor. I had it set up and running in about 15 minutes including inspecting the code for any weirdness.

Posted under Lotus Domino, Utils / Tools, Work Portfolio

This post was written by Marc
on December 5, 2008 at 7:18 pm

TCP APN for Verizon Blackberry 8830’s

It took me a while to figure this out so I’m documenting this mostly for myself but if it helps anybody else then that’s icing on the cake!

In a few words, don’t touch, save, change or in any way alter the contents of these fields!  Ever.

The following applies if you have a Blackberry communicating with a BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server). I cannot say if this will work for folks outside the corporate sphere but I see no reason why not.

Verizon support is clueless about TCP APN settings. Basically, if someone is using an application that doesn’t work and the solution is to update the APN, what you *really* need to do is:

  • Use desktop manager to backup the device
  • Wipe the device (you should be able to retain 3rd party apps if it asks)
  • Restore the device and turn on the radio <– it should automatically Activate itself – no need for Enterprise Activation.

Excerpt from the Crackberry forums posted by CrackBerry Genius:


If you messed with your APN settings on a VZW8830 by putting something in, even if you clear it out and save it’s still messed up. If you’ve done this programs like BBWeather and Opera Mini WILL NOT WORK.

You must do an OS reload or possibly just a Wipe on the handheld to get this fixed. I personally did an OS reload to fix it, but never tried to do just a Wipe from the Security/General menu to see if that was sufficient.

I performed the above operation and got BBWeather to work just fine. I was having a similar problem with Jott for Blackberry but since then they’ve made that app a paid-only service and the price is much steeper than the value that I feel I’d get from it (but I’d love to try it again to see if it works at all).

Posted under Blackberry, Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on December 2, 2008 at 8:04 pm