I always feel weird when I’m in the presence of serious business people. I mean, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some very powerful and very wealthy people, and while I often enjoyed their company, it is sometimes hard for me to relate to the lives they lead.

See, most of my days start with poop.

I live on a horse farm, and the first thing I do when I get up in the morning is go out to take care of the animals. Usually that involves some kind of manure management. Last week one of my wife’s coworkers needed some compost to help with a lawn he was replanting, so I got the added fun of driving the tractor.

I really don’t mind it. I like some physical labor and it gets me outside in the morning.

Plus, I think it helps me do my job better, because not only can I readily recognize horse sh*t, I know what to do with it.


The Dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide

Okay, I know that this was probably federally mandated, but I found this funny example of over-labeling:

This is label is from a spray bottle used for cleaning. DI Water, or Deionized Water, is a purified water product in which the trace minerals have been removed, which makes it nicer to use for cleaning since it won’t leave behind any scale residue.

What I found funny was the warning label, for water:

Yessir, drink enough water and you can suffer from convulsions. I’m a little upset that they don’t include death, since drinking absurd amounts of water can lead to death, not to mention if the product is used in ways contraindicated by the label (i.e. in the lungs). And be sure to wear the appropriate protective gear when working with water, or else your skin might get all pruney. It continues:

Now the key words are in the second picture: MSDS Reference. As a commercial cleaner, even if it is just water, there has to be an entry for it on the Material Safety Data Sheet, and I’ll bet that most of the wording for this label came from that document.

But I still have to ask myself if we, as a culture, haven’t gone a little too far.

Wyndham and Miller Marketing

I am a huge fan of David Thorne’s 27bslash6 website, not the least because he references the movie Brazil.

Fans of his site are aware of his on going feud with office-mate Simon, and he took it to a new level this week by defacing Simon’s page on the the corporate website of Wyndham and Miller, where David works.

David announced in a tweet that the defacement had been up for 26 days without anyone noticing. It’s brilliant, and I was excited because now that I know where David works perhaps I could hire him to do some marketing for OpenNMS, assuming he still worked there.

However, as hours then days went by without the site being corrected, I got suspicious. So I did a search on “Wyndham and Miller” and found no references outside of the website. Odd for a marketing company founded in 1996 to have no web presence. Then I did a “whois” and noticed the domain was registered just this week.


The site is beautiful. Any small marketing firm would be happy to have such a site, and under David’s profile is a very good summary of his abilities.

Too bad they don’t exist. (grin)

Announcing the OpenVND Project

OpenNMS has many uses, from insuring that customers of a billion dollar pizza business get their food on time to maintaining the machines that guard nuclear fuel, but we all know what we really need.

A way to manage our soda machines.

Nothing says “ugly” like a bunch of geeks, and nothing is uglier than when those same geeks are deprived of caffeine.

Thus today, the OpenNMS Project is happy to announce the Open VeNDing Project (OpenVND), leveraging the power of OpenNMS to address this need for the greater good.

Visit www.openvnd.org today for the full details.

Here In My Car, I Feel Safest of All

This week I doubled the number of countries outside of the US in which I’ve driven a car.

Previously, I had driven in Canada and New Zealand. Canada doesn’t really count. Sorry to sound like a bigoted American, but the experience was no different than driving in the US. New Zealand was a much different story, since they drive on the opposite side of the road.

This trip I added Austria and Germany to the list.

As I’ve mentioned, I spent this week working with Antonio. He flew up for Uwe’s wedding and we drove down to Italy to do a Greenlight+ project. His flight back was at 06:00 Saturday morning, so we needed to leave Vipiteno and get him back to Germany Friday night. Considering that it was at least six hours and we were leaving at 16:00, I offered to drive so he could relax and maybe sleep.

Plus, I would get to drive on the autobahn.

Antonio drove for the first hour, getting us out of Italy and halfway through Austria. The weather was grey and wet, and as we climbed into higher elevations it started to snow.

Before we left, I asked for a few CDRs to burn some music. For some reason that escapes me, modern car manufacturers are still reluctant to put an AUX jack in their stereos. With so many people carrying portable music devices and being able to play music from a phone, you would think this would be a common practice. The reason I bring this up is that Antonio surprised me several years ago by breaking into song. This isn’t unusual for an Italian, but the song he was singing was “Supper’s Ready” by Genesis. It’s over 23 minutes long.

So that is how I found myself riding through the Austrian Alps in the snow while listening to that prog-rock classic “A Lamb Lies Down on Broadway“. Antonio also had to suffer through me singing along with James Taylor on his “Greatest Hits” album – one that I know every lyric, pause and breath having listened to it endlessly in high school.

Anyway, we were lucky that we left early enough that the temperature was above freezing and nothing was sticking on the roads.

When we crossed into Germany, I was finally driving on the fabled German highway without speed limits. This had almost mythical significance to me, as at one time in my life I was really into cars, so much so that I read Autoweek, and my friend John and I used to race to the mailbox so that we could read the Satch Carlson column.

Note: For those of you who have never heard of Satch Carlson, he is one of the best auto sports writers I’ve ever read. I would literally choke from laughing so hard at his stories. Unfortunately, he was involved in a scandal involving one of his students, and he pretty much disappeared after that. There is still an ancient website that is worth checking out if you want to see what was cool in websites 20 years ago.

Back to the autobahn. The experience did not live up to my expectations.

First, you have to understand that in most places the autobahn is two lanes. The right lane is where the trucks are, and they have a legal top speed of 80 kph. The left lane is where you can pass and go as fast as you want.

Or should a say “as fast as you can”. I wanted to go a lot faster.

Second, I was in a rented Mercedes A160. The car I usually drive is a supercharged C230, which is much faster than this car, so moving from the right lane to the left was not without a little risk.

If you look up the “0 to 60 mph” specification for the A160, Mercedes has written in the word “yes”.

Often I’d move over to pass only to see a set of headlights magically appear in my rearview mirror, prompting me to get back over as quickly as possible to avoid getting squashed. I swear some of those headlights were tinted blue.

Third, around the time we got to Ulm (birthplace of Albert Einstein) the amount of traffic had increased greatly and we were all forced to slow down. By Stuttgart, it was “stop and go”, or should I say “stop and go like hell”. There was a lot of construction, and coupled with the weekend traffic it was pretty high stress.

The way I dealt with it was the way I deal with any unusual situation in which I find myself. I find someone who looks like they know what they are doing and mimic them. So I’d get behind a car and do what they did – speed up when they sped, move over when they moved. Worked pretty well as long as I could keep up.

Finally, once the traffic started to thin, there were these road projects that would cause the entire highway to shift over to the left. Southbound traffic was limited to two lanes, while we took over the shoulder and one of their lanes. Separating our leftmost lane from theirs was a little temporary wall that stood about two feet high and looked like you could push it over with a finger. It was only as wide as the line drawn on the road, which meant that you were always perilously close to the oncoming cars as well as not having much room between that wall and the cars on your right. Seriously, the A160 is not a big car but at times it felt like I was driving a Winnebago. I wouldn’t have felt much more comfortable on a motorcycle.

Anyway, according to the GPS, Antonio had hit a top speed of 169 kph on the way down, so I was determined to top that. After driving for about a mile on a nice, flat stretch of highway with the pedal completely pressed to the floor, I managed a measly 170 kph, or a little over 105 mph. I was hoping to hit at least 200 kph, which is close to the highest speed I’ve ever driven (and that was on a motorcycle), but unless I was going to get a head start coming down a mountain with a decent tail wind, it wasn’t going to happen in an A160.

Groundwork Survey: "Possible Community Edition Revision"

Okay, I know beating a dead horse isn’t going to make it run any faster, but only 19 months after releasing their last “community edition” it looks like the company known as Groundwork Open Source is, at least considering, maybe, possibly, offering another community edition revision. On the table are considerations that it might not be free and it might not be open source (at least in how I read the survey questions) but I doubt they’ll let anything get in the way of “release early, release often”.

Oh, wait …