February 28, 2007

Death Valley Delayed

Timber and I were supposed to go to Death Valley this past weekend but something happened along the way to prevent us from going. On Thursday my truck battery got drained, most likely by me leaving my lights on, and afterward I wasn't sure if that was the cause, if it was an alternator problem, of if there was some other short in my electrical system. So we decided to play it safe and not go to Death Valley this weekend and give my truck time to run reliably for a few weeks before heading out to one of the most remote places in the lower 48. Thus far it looks like leaving my lights on was the culprit. But this way we get to refine our itenerary and finish reading a good book about the geology of Death Valley.

Posted by troutm8 at 01:03 PM

TOC Over

The TOC (Tour of California) ended on Sunday in Long Beach. Levi Leipheimer won the overall, Juan Jose Haedo won the Sprint Leader, Robert Gesink won Best Young Rider, and Christophe Laurent won King of the Mountains. Overall attendance of the race from start to finish is estimated to be 1.6 million people. I wonder if I'll be counted twice since I watched the race ride by in two spots? It was a cool experience to get out there and see in person the amount of effort the riders and teams have to go through to compete. I think next year Timber and I will volunteer for the San Jose part (assuming they have one) and take the whole day off. I think as the years go on this race will get more and more popular, and for good reason. It seemed to be very well planned out and executed.

Posted by troutm8 at 12:55 PM

February 22, 2007

Tour Of California Links

Here are some links that I'm using to stay up to date on the Amgen Tour of California and I thought I would share them with everyone out there:
Official Race Website
Tour Tracker -> A nicely done page for tracking the race as it is happening.
News -> Google News rss feed for TOC (Tour of California) news.
Blog Updates -> A Google blogs search rss feed for TOC blog updates.
Play-by-Play -> Official Play by play action while the race is going on.
Video Updates -> Google Video search rss feed for TOC videos.

Posted by troutm8 at 01:01 PM

San Jose Leg Photos Posted

I posted the photos that Timber and I took (actually the best photos) yesterday while we watched the San Jose leg of the Amgen Tour of California. In most scenarios when I take pictures I use the shotgun method which is to take lots of shots and not worry so much at the time and you are bound to get a few good shots out of the batch. For yesterday's photos of the riders coming by us fast I would say we used the lode mining method. Lode mining is basically taking lots of rock out of a mountain and then processing it to find gold. I don't remember the exact payout but a decent gold mine can get 1 ounce of gold out of every 1 to 2 tons of rock it processes. Just like out photos yesterday. :-) We took somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 photos and ended up with 31 that we felt were good enough for public consumption. Apple's Aperture played a critical role because it was fast and easy to import the photos, rate them, add captions and credits, and upload them to smugmug. Do I get some advertising dollars for this?

Posted by troutm8 at 10:57 AM

February 21, 2007

Tour of CA: San Jose

Timber and I got to check out the Tour of California today in two spots! One of the spots was on Sierra Road, which was the last big hill. The other spot was on Piedmont Road right in front of the high school that she went to. The hill spot was awesome because the riders went by us significantly slower and we got an unfettered view of all the riders as they went by. They were literally a foot away from us and Timber almost got spit on by a rider! After the last of the riders rode by we walked down the hill to Piedmont Road and set up camp for our second viewing. It didn't take long for the leader to fly by at 30 mph. The crowd was awesome, very supportive, friendly, and enthusiastic as the riders went by. After the last of the riders rode by we walked back up the hill to Timber's car and then drove the hill route the riders took. I can't believe how steep the road was and how long the uphill part was. These guys are really good.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:05 PM

February 19, 2007

Tour Of California is Is Back

I took a few hours off and checked out the Amgen Tour of California last year when the time trial went right by my work. This year, on Wednesday, the race is going through San Jose and ending for the day in downtown San Jose. I'll most likely take a few hours off to go check it out. I'll either take light rail to downtown or the Vespa depending on the weather. It should be fun and hopefully I can get some good pictures.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:03 AM

February 18, 2007

Sunol Regional Wilderness

On Saturday Timber got the crazy idea of going for a hike in the Sunol Regional Wilderness. You can get there by taking 680 north until you hit Calavaras Blvd heading south. The Sunol Regional Wilderness is tucked away in the hills and it surprisingly quiet and isolated. We did a 5 mile loop that took us to the top of several hills. Since it was a really nice and clear day we were able to see across the bay and all the way up to San Francisco. We also saw a few golden eagles and red tailed hawks. Wookie really enjoyed seeing the cows, but the cows didn't really appreciate out presence. We almost got charged twice. There is even an area of the wilderness known as "little Yosemite valley" because of a stream with waterfalls that looks like it was transplanted from the sierras. Overall it was a very nice hike and we got a few nice photos out of it.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:00 PM

Happy V-Day From Chicago

We weren't really in Chicago, but for V-day Timber got me a deep dish Chicago style pizza and cheesecake shipped from Chicago via Lou Malnati's. We ended up having that for dinner and it was very good. At some point in the near future I think we'll go to Chicago and have the pizza there. I wonder if we can watch the taping of an Oprah show. I bet I would really feel out of place there.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:56 PM

February 16, 2007

Lazy Ramadi

OK, so I'm probably hearing about this a bit late but I don't care. I saw a clip of this video on a news show last night and I had to find it and link to it. If you've seen the SNL video "Lazy Sunday" then you'll appreciate the humor in Lazy Ramadi. It is good to see at least some of our boys are having some fun over there. Enjoy!

Posted by troutm8 at 10:01 AM

February 14, 2007

36 Billion Friends?

One of my friends is in a band called Sim Sala Bim and they are playing on March 9th in Sunnyvale at a place called the Quarter Note Bar & Grill. They have some of their music on their myspace page. The funny thing is that when you look at their page it says they have 36 billion friends. All I can say is wow, that's by far the most friends I've seen anyone have on myspace or any other networking sites. It makes me wonder if every person on earth (roughly 6 Billion people) each have 6 profiles on myspace and they are all linked to Sim Sala Bim. Or maybe they are friends with aliens, or bacteria, or all other life forms on earth. You never know because this is Califonria. :-)

Posted by troutm8 at 10:21 AM

February 13, 2007

Going Back Home

On Sunday Timber and I checked out of the hotel and then checked out a few downtown shops before heading to the Widmer Gasthaus for lunch. We tried 3 different beers here and had a very good artichoke brie dip and chicken schnitzel. I would definitely recommend this place. Since we were running out of time we decided to hit the International Rose Test Garden but found that there were no roses blooming right now. So it was a quick trip and then we were off to the airport to return the rental car and catch our flight. The flight went by quickly and before we knew it we were home. Overall it was a pretty good weekend and I think Timber enjoyed her v-day present.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:14 PM

The Land Of Trees, Cheese, & Ocean Breeze

On Saturday Timber wanted to drive out to Tillamook and take a tour of the cheese factory. So we got up early, grabbed a small snack at Haven Cafe, and drove roughly 70 miles west to Tillamook, Oregon take the tour. The drive out was surprisingly dry and we drove through forests and farmlands. Once we got there we went inside and had breakfast at the Farmhouse Cafe. You can find their menu here. We got food that had Tillamook cheese in it, and it was pretty good. After breakfast we started the self guided tour. We read lots of information about the local area and how they make the cheese and other products (butter, yogurt, ice cream, etc...) and then watched the cheese making process. In the end 40 lb blocks of cheese came down the conveyor belts where guys would put them in plastic bags and vacuum sealed them. Then they were boxed and off to their wharehouse, where they can store 50 Million pounds of cheese for aging. After our tour we sampled the different cheeses, bought some goodies, got some Tillamook ice cream, and went on our way. Before heading back to Portland we did a quick drive to the coast and checked out a light house while the rain came down in buckets. This was the Oregon that I'm used to. After we got back to Portland we had dinner at McMenamin's Kennedy School, a unique or bizzare (depending on your preference) establishment. It was a elementary school that was closed and bought by McMenamin's who then turned it into a hotel, restaraunt, brewery, bar, movie theater, etc... We tried 6 different beers here. Some were pretty good while others were not, but it is definitely a place I recommend checking out. After dinner we went to the Alphabet District and quenched any chocolate cravings at Moonstruck Chocolate. I got a Mayan chocolate drink while Timber got a chai chocolate shake and we shared a chocolate mousse dish. I definitely overdosed on the chocolate. :-)

Posted by troutm8 at 10:07 PM

Greetings From Portland

Greetings from Portland! This was the surprise destination for Timber for a few reasons:
1. It is a short flight so it is easy to do a weekend flight there and back.
2. We both like Portland and have talked about doing a weekend trip here before.
3. Why bring her roses on V-day when I can bring her to the city of Roses.
The trip to Portland was fairly uneventful. We were running a little bit late, but luckily the flight out of San Jose was delayed a little while, so we were able to get to the airport, eat our dinner (a Chipotle burrito), work our way through security and get onto the plane. The flight was a hair over 1 hour, 20 minutes. Once we got to Portland we went straight to our car since we didn't have any luggage to pick up and the guy at the rental car counter talked me in to upgrading from a Dodge Neon to a Subaru Outback. I was OK with that because it was roomier, more powerful (turbo), would blend in better (Subaru's are everywhere in the Pacific Northwest), and I would actually consider buying one at some point in the future (what's better than a 2 day test drive?). After we got our car we headed to our downtown hotel, the Vintage Plaza and called it a night.

Posted by troutm8 at 09:15 PM

Pistol Brings A Sense Of Calm

Yesterday I read this article about two hunters that were attacked by a bear while moose hunting (actually cleaning a moose that they killed). Here is the money quote -> "As I pulled the revolver out, a sudden calm came over me, and I knew everything would be fine." Needless to say, Doug White got one lucky shot with his .44 into the chest of the bear when it was 10 feet away and charging at him. It dropped three feet away from his feet. If it were me I probably would have missed badly, but I think the sense of calm helped him pull off the shot when he needed to. So if a bear is charging you and you only get one shot visualize a game winning basketball shot, or a birdie put or better yet your shot hitting its mark. :-)

Posted by troutm8 at 11:23 AM

February 08, 2007

Weekend With Dick Cheney

Timber and I are going to spend the weekend with Dick Cheney in an undisclosed location. Just kidding of course. But for Timber's V-day present we are going to jet away to an undisclosed location on Friday night and come back on Sunday. The cool thing is that she does not know where we are going. She won't find out until I hand her the boarding pass at the airport. So until that time comes she just has to trust that we are going somewhere she will like, and pack according to my recommendations. And all I can say is that I hope she likes the place I've chosen. More to come later...

Posted by troutm8 at 03:23 PM

February 07, 2007

What Is Scrum?

We had a great release of OYE in December, and going forward we have a lot planned for this year. While we have a lot of cool stuff planned we are changing the way we develop and test our products. We are moving toward Scrum/Agile/(insert buzzword here). When I hear the word scrum I think of the picture associated with this blog posting. Am I crazy? According to the Scrum web site, "Scrum is an agile, lightweight process that can be used to manage and control software and product development using iterative, incremental practices." From my experience in software development thus far here is a more accurate definition -> "A disordered or confused situation involving a number of people." Moving to a more iterative development and testing process requires a change in thinking (from the waterfall method) and few things, namely:
1. Flexibility and adaptability by the developers and testers.
2. Good communication between each member of the team.
3. Good project management.
4, High quality developers and testers.
5. Tools and metholdologies that will help get the work done.
For my project we definitely have items #4 and #3. We definitely don't have item #5 right now but we're working on it. And the rest (#1 and #2) remain to be seen. In practice it means that we will be developing and testing in iterations (sprints), and we'll have several iterations before we have a major release. I won't get into any more detail than that for now, but it is going to be a learning process for the entire team.

Posted by troutm8 at 02:40 PM

February 06, 2007

Mount Madonna County Park

Over the weekend Wookie and I went for a 5 mile hike at Mount Madonna County Park. It is on highway 152 between Gilroy and Watsonville and is part of the Santa Cruz Mountains. It was a fairly short drive to get there and the hike was good exercise because there was a lot of uphill hiking involved. We saw lots of redwoods and the ruins of a cattle baron's late 1800's/early 1900's summer home. It was very interesting to see how far a house could deteriorate in 100 years of no maintenance. :-) The ruins reminded me of buildings that were much older. Overall the hike was uneventful and there were no wildflowers out yet, so it was mostly checking out the redwoods and getting some exercise. There were a lot of trail junctions and without a map and compass I might have ended up like the couple that got lost at Castle Rock State Park a few months ago. If I had gotten to a point where I didn't know which turn to take I might have had to GO BACK THE WAY I CAME. But since I know how to use a map and compass (gps doesn't do much good in dense forest) I was good to go. After the hike I got the crazy idea of going into Watsonville and finding an authentic (no English spoken) taqueria. My hypothesis was that the worse the spoken English was the better the food would be. I found a place called Trejos Carnitas, which as you would expect specialized in carnitas. And as I generally do when I go to a new taqueria I got a carnitas burrito (common denominator). The only problem here was that my Spanish is not very good and the lady that took my order spoke no English (a very good indicator of authenticity). But luckily it is not too hard to order a carnitas burrito and a coca cola. I would have had a hard time ordering a double decaf half caf with a twist of lemon. They brought the burrito out to me along with lime, homemade hot sauce, and whole hot peppers to add to it. The food was fantastic and I didn't hear a word of English my whole time there Hypothesis correct!

Posted by troutm8 at 11:35 PM

The Orton Effect

Ever since I got a pretty good camera I've been working on learning more about photography and taking better photos. I've also been working on being better with photoshop (and other tools) so I can do more with the photos that I take. One site that I like keep up on is photojojo. They frequently post tutorials on some of the cool things you can do with photoshop (and other tools). Take the Orton Effect for example. It is pretty easy to do and it gives your photos a softer sort of surreal effect (see the example of the attached picture). So if you want to learn new photo editing skills over time check out photojojo.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:01 PM

February 01, 2007

Fun With Small Dogs

While Timber and her parents are out of town I'm taking care of her parents' two dogs, Toby and Fuzzy. Toby is nearly a perfect dog. He's getting old now, nearly 15 years old, so his hearing isn't so good, he has cataracts, and he walks kind of like those little toy store robotic dogs. But he doesn't get into trouble and he does the things you want him to do before you even have to say it. If there were a dog to clone it would be Toby. Fuzzy on the other hand, well, he means well. But he is a strange character, nothing like Toby. You can't trust Fuzzy to run free for a single moment. I've tried several times to let him run free in the house while watching him. I inevitably have to turn my attention to something else for a few seconds and when I focus my attention back to Fuzzy I find a pee pee spot. It is quite astonishing. Because of that I have to leash him to something at all times. He also barks incessently. When I get up in the morning and go downstairs with the dogs he barks to go outside. I let him, Toby, and Wookie out onto the patio while I get their food ready, and before I can even bring the food to them Fuzzy starts to bark. I'm not sure if it is because he wants to come inside or because he wants his food. At any rate I let them eat while I get ready for work, and before I can get back downstairs to walk them Fuzzy starts barking again. I think he doesnt' like being left alone or being bored and that is why he barks. But after I bring them inside and leash him up to something he barks even more. I know at some point soon my neighbors are going to show up with torches and pitch forks because that little dog barks so much. All I can really do is hold out until Timber and her parents' return. Timber if you're reading this come back soon!

Posted by troutm8 at 06:15 PM