Rain and Music

Yesterday afternoon there was a huge thunderstorm that brought along quite a bit of hail. I decided to hang around the office to make sure all the servers made it through the storm. We took to a couple of small power hits, neither outage lasted over 5 minutes, and the UPS’ saved the day again. (732 days uptime on our main server and counting…)

Susan left early in an attempt to get home before the storm hit but didn’t make it. Her car took a pounding from the hail but suprisingly there was no visible damage this morning. On the other hand, she inadvertently hit some pretty high water on one of the roads and this morning her car was acting like it had water in the gas tank. We dropped it off at the Acura dealer and are waiting for news. Luckily for me, my RSX was safely tucked away in the covered parking at our office the whole time. :-)

Meanwhile, I’ve been plugging away in my spare time on the mod_virgule merging project. Gary has a done a great job of getting things rolling again and I look forward to the day when my own version of the code is completely merged back in and I can run robots.net on the main codebase.

The only other event of interest that’s happened lately is that Susan and I went to see a performance of the Dallas Symphony on the 13th. The guest performers were violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and cellist Lynn Harrell. We also went to hear a couple of smaller works performed by just the two guest artists and Andrew Litton on piano on the 14th.

Where do they get those Dr. Evil Suits?

Susan and I attended the Symphony this weekend. Nothing really amazing to report. Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1 in D major, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor (I loathe piano concertos…), and Haydn’s Symphony No. 101 in D major. Jesús López-Cobos was guest conductor. Like many conductors he dressed like a James Bond villain. Where do they get those cool Dr. Evil suits? I want one of those.

We seem to be staying busy at the office so far this month. We’ve picked up a few new hosting customers. One of our new sites was previously hosted on an IIS box so I enjoyed reporting the URL to Netcraft – that’s one less IIS site and one more Apache site on next months survey.

Chickens, Kittens, and an Opossum

We spent a fairly quite weekend doing some work on the lawn. Susan did some weeding and I trimmed some dead branches from one of the trees. Saturday night we went to the Dallas Symphony. This week it was Wagner’s Overture to the Flying Dutchman, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, and a work for Orchestra and Percussion by Christopher Rouse called Der gerettete Alberich. The Rouse piece featured Colin Currie as the Percussionist

Sunday night, while grilling some chickens in the back yard, we had two visitors. The first was a small kitten that wandered into the yard and spent a fair amount of time chasing moths around before wandering off again. The second visitor was a medium-size Opossum. (For those not familiar with Texas wildlife, an Opossum is a common marsupial with a prehensile tail.) It had been investigating something under our hedge and got spooked when it realized we were watching it. It ran for the nearest tree, which was a small Cherry Laurel that didn’t offer it much of an escape route. So it ended up perched on a branch about at eye level, where it just sat around watching us grill our chickens.

Life Slowly Returns to Normal

Saturday the DPRG held Roborama 01.b as planned. There were a few interesting new robots competing as well as a couple of records broken but, overall, I think attendance was down a bit due to the terrorist attacks. The events for walking robots were delayed a few weeks and may evolve into a seperate contest.

On Sunday evening, Susan and I attended the opening performance of the season at the Dallas Symphony. The original program called for Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso, Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in D Major. In recognition of recent events, however, the Ravel work was replaced by Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings.

We also spent some time this weekend trying to buy a flag. They’re virtually unobtainable though. Apparently over 500,000 have been sold this week and even places like Walmart have long since sold out of them. Fabric stores seem to be selling out of red, white, and blue ribbon as well.

Last night robots.net got slashdotted for the first time. Mod_virgule held up just fine – in fact, I was pleasantly suprised at how well it performed considering the amount of file I/O being done.

And today it’s back to work churning out more Perl code.

Deep Ellum Arts Festival 2001

Last week was another busy week. Lots of Perl and a smaller amount of C programming. More progress on robots.net. The robomenu is now working. The robomenu is a database of robots with photos and descriptions. I’ve only managed to get about half the records into the database (they were originally static pages) but it is online and seems to be holding up okay so far. I’m using PostgreSQL as the database and a Perl DBI program to generate a set of static pages every night. I’m still working on the interface that will allow users to submit new robots but that should online within a week or so.

On Saturday Susan and I got to see Dmitry Sitkovetsky as guest conductor of the Dallas Symphony. He conducted the DSO in four pieces of Chamber music by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Shostakovich. The Shostakovich piece was a transcription for Chamber Orchestra of the String Quartet No. 8, Op. 110 and was particularly good. We tried unsuccessfully to find a CD of the piece Sunday. We’ll probably have to order it on Amazon or catch a used one on eBay sometime.

We spent a while at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival on Sunday. Lots of live music including a group from Central America playing some sort of traditional folk music with lots of curious instruments. There were some Celtic bands, some Jazz groups, and quite a selection of local rock groups – like Baby Jane Hudson and Eden Automatic. The weather was great for a day outside and most of the people had brought their dogs. I think we saw at least one of every possible kind of dog while we were there. It was an Art festival so there was quite a bit to see in the Arts and Crafts department as well, though the weirdest aspect of the whole thing was a collection of Art Cars from all over. There was a Van covered in bright orange stucko, a car decked out to look like the yellow submarine, and several cars that I guess you’d call debris cars. One was covered with plastic toys like Godzillas, Boba Fetts, and Mr T dolls. Another was completely covered by sea shells with a variety of rubber octopi and other sea creatures attached. One had a back seat uplostered in one and five dollar bills and an outside covered with quarters, nickels, dimes, and an assortment of jewlery. Weird stuff.

Music and Robots

I had a nice quiet weekend for change. Nothing really interesting to report other than a DSO concert on Saturday. Two Prokofiev pieces – first the Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Opus 19 and second the music used in the Russian films, Ivan the Terrible parts 1 and 2. Interestingly, they had decided to enhance the experience by putting a big screen up in the performance hall and showing a collection of excerpts from the films as the music was played. While not exactly a Robert Wilson production, it was still quite interesting. And an excellent performance of both Prokofiev pieces as well.

This week I’m trying to split my time between work that pays the bills and continued work on robots.net which is a bit more interesting. Things are picking up quickly with the site and we’re getting an impressive number of hits already. Actual registered users are accumulating fairly slowly so there’s not much discussion going on yet but I guess it takes a while for these things to reach critical mass. If you’re interested in robotics, feel free to stop by and check things out.