Archive for January, 2009

Working from Home Today

Posted in Uncategorized on January 28, 2009 by Mike Procario

icy_car

That’s ice not snow. I hate freezing rain.

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Well Said

Posted in Uncategorized on January 24, 2009 by Mike Procario

Andrew Sullivan

It seems to me that dignity and training and expertise and humaneness are the values of our society at its best. All of them are self-evidently superior to the values of vainglory, amateurism, impulsiveness and cruelty that bedevil our enemies. If these are the grounds on which we fight this war – and they are ours to choose – then we will win. And we will deserve to.

Read the original to see the context. I wish I could write like this.

Welcome to the Federal Government

Posted in Technology and Software on January 22, 2009 by Mike Procario

The Washington Post reported today that new White House staff was quite disappointed by the quality of the IT equipment and the restrictive rules on the use of IT. As a federal employee all I can say is welcome to the federal government. The poor quality of the tools provided to me is my number one complaint about working for the government. 

When I joined the Department of Energy in 2000 the department was still running Windows 95. We have reached Windows XP after several years of Windows 2000, but we are still running Internet Explorer 6.

People working in jobs with similar responsibilities in the private sector have a laptop that can be docked when they are at their desk. Laptops in my department are only used for travel and are never connected to the internal local area network. We do not have wireless in the building since we do not use laptops. I cannot count the number of times I have been meetings arguing over some fact or budget information that could be looked up in two minutes if we had access to the LAN from a laptop taken to a meeting.

We are limited to a basic suite of office software. It is one size fits all. Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, and that’s about it. If you can’t do it with those programs, you probably can’t do it at all. When I wanted to get some data off the website of one our labs on a weekly basis, I wrote a small python script to scrape the pages and calcualte some totals. Once the script was written a weekly 15 minute task became a 1 minute task. I could write the script at home, but I could not run it at work. Python is not on the approved software list.

Perhaps the new President can get us some decent tools to allow us to do our jobs better.

Now Running Wireless N

Posted in Technology and Software on January 20, 2009 by Mike Procario

I installed a new wireless N router. It is dual band, and this is being transmitted from my MacBook Pro over the 5.0 GHz band using WPA2-PSK.  Now I have to see if I can get the older computers in the house running on G over the 2.4 Ghz band.

UPDATE: I had to update the driver for the Dell wireless 1450 miniPCI card in the Dell INSPIRON that my daughter uses.  The installed driver did not support WPA. I still had a Linksys USB adapter for one of the desktops. It was only 802.11b, but I has a very similar Linksys USB adapter that supported G lying around, so I switched to that one. Now I have two Windows XP computers running 802.11g and two Macs running 802.11n.

The Christmas Beard

Posted in personal on January 8, 2009 by Mike Procario

I last shaved on Christmas Eve, so I would look respectableDSC_0130 at church. I tend to let me beard grow over the holidays, and I usually keep for a few days after I go back to work. I thought I would get a photo this year before I shaved.

Blogging the "Origin of the Species"

Posted in biology, physics, Science on January 8, 2009 by Mike Procario

I read on Pharyngula about an evolutionary biologist who was planning to read the Origin of the Species for the first time. He had managed to get a Ph.D. without doing so.  This did not surprise me.

I am a physicist, but I have never read Newton’s Principia. Of course the fact that it is written in Latin is an obstacle for me. From what I have heard of it, it would be quite hard for me to follow. Even though Newton invented calculus, he did many of the proofs geometrically. Newton got the physics right, but many people have figured out better ways of explaining it.

I find evolutionary biology interesting, especially evo-devo. So much has been learned about evolution since Darwin and I think I would want the much more complete view that is available now, than you would get from the Origin of the Species.