Today’s happy news comes from our health care provider, who wrote to tell us our premiums are going up by 25% over last year. This comes after a 45% increase in 2011. Amazing.

We still haven’t used a penny of our health insurance. Once again I find myself wondering whether we should even have health care for our family…


Another Christmas at Casa del Schroeder…

Alex is excited to open an Intel I5 processor. Wow!

But wait, it’s not really a chip. It’s a harmonica! Yep, all of us got harmonicas this Christmas.

Zack’s excited to get a “real” pocketknife. In this case it’s a Swiss one, with all the trimmings including a scissors and one of those detachable toothpicks that you always lose within the first week.

Kyra is thrilled with a new digital camera from grandma and grandpa. Just what she wanted.

Laralee tests her new hair brush. Wow, silky smooth.

Alex uses the hair brush as well, but he pretty much looks like a dork with a bad haircut.

After the presents have all been opened, Kyra and I try out our new harmonicas. The only song included with the instruments was “When the Saints Go Marching in”. We sounded like a couple of drunk monkeys with respiration problems. Obviously we’ll need practice if we’re going to get to Carnegie Hall.

While Laralee tested hers, I realized that I needed to label mine because no one wants to share a harmonica. They get full of spit.

All in all, it was a fun day and a great end to the year. Merry Christmas.


This year’s Christmas card involved afro wigs for the whole family. Ahh, the wonders of Amazon. We put them on, adjusted them for maximum realism, and sat on the couch while Hannah snapped a few pictures for us.

I admit the photo was, in fact, doctored a bit: I changed the background from our living room wall to a nice blue splotchy thing that makes it look more like a professional studio shot. Something you’d get at Sears, perhaps.

The back of the card featured our usual collage of photos from the year. Many moons ago, I’d write a big letter with lots of stories, but over time I realized that people don’t generally want to read that stuff. They want a few pictures and something that will look nice above their fireplace. We aim to please.

I must say the afros turned out splendidly. Many people told us it was our best Christmas card ever. Of course that means we’ve set the bar so high it’s going to be tough to top it next year. But we’re already working on our plans for 2013…


Laralee is world-famous now… she’s on Google.

Well, maybe not world-famous. But if you happen to do a Google Maps search for “Glenarbor Way, Longmont CO” you’ll see her driving our white van away from our friend Megan’s house.


Zing continues to grow, which means we continue to post openings for PHP developers. Today’s award for Most Useless Candidate goes to the guy who wrote this in his cover letter:

I read the job description very well and I know it very well you are looking for PHP geeks and I am NOT PHP guy. I worked in php very very little. I wrote down a php file only. (only One file)

Why? WHY?!!!


As of yesterday, the mainline Linux kernel will no longer support 386-class CPU’s. Here’s the commit note from the kernel source tree:

This tree removes ancient-386-CPUs support and thus zaps quite a bit of complexity:

24 files changed, 56 insertions(+), 425 deletions(-)

… which complexity has plagued us with extra work whenever we wanted to change SMP primitives, for years.

Unfortunately there’s a nostalgic cost: your old original 386 DX33 system from early 1991 won’t be able to boot modern Linux kernels anymore. Sniff.

What’s funny is in early 1991, I actually had an Intel 80386 DX-33 processor in my computer. It was the successor to my trusty Apple IIgs, which was a great machine but ended up being problematic at college. For a little over $2,000 I bought what was known at the time as an “IBM PC”. It had the screaming fast 33Mhz processor with an amazing 4MB of system memory. Sweet!

I remember upgrading my 386 processor to an incredible 486 chip about two years later. I bought the CPU from my friend Chad for a bargain price of $450. I think I may have also upgraded my memory to 8MB for a few hundred dollars more. Then my computer was really humming along.

Of course I’m writing this on a computer that has a quad-core processor roughly 100 times faster with 4,000 times more memory. Ahh, progress.


Ahh, the annual white elephant gift exchange: a time-honored tradition during the Christmas season. The challenge of a good white elephant gift, of course, is to find something that’s obnoxious, but strangely attractive. It should be something that you don’t really want, but can’t really give away either.

After some thought, this year I decided to make a gift of five dollars in cold hard cash.

In pennies.

Taped together.

Zack and I carefully placed 500 pennies on a single strip of packing tape, then placed another strip of tape opposite. This sealed the pennies nicely, making them a real pain to extract. All told, the strip was around thirty feet long. I rolled it into a nice spool and placed it in a box.

Disclaimer: this idea isn’t actually all that new. Back in high school I owed my friend Bech around ten dollars after a bad night at poker, so I took 200 nickels and put them inside a strip of duct tape in the same fashion as this. Not to be outdone by my cleverness, Bech paid off later poker debts by tearing off pieces of the tape: if he owed fifty cents, he’d count off ten nickels’ worth of duct tape and hand over that part. Nice.


I just sent an email to a client’s agency. There was a 1.8MB zip file attached to it, and the woman wrote back to say the message had failed because her mailbox was over quota.

Your mail file exceeds or would exceed the quota size limit specified by the Administrator.  A Non-Delivery Report has been generated for the sender indicating that the router was unable to deliver the message to your mail file.  You should free up space in your mail file by deleting or archiving messages to remedy the over quota situation as soon as possible to allow future deliveries to occur.

Wow, companies still have email quotas? In an age where storage costs 8 cents per gigabyte, it’s hard to believe there are system administrators who limit the mailboxes of employees like this.


Two SAAS systems that I hate: Salesforce and Basecamp. Both of them are wildly popular and seem to be used by people and companies everywhere. Salesforce is so sluggish it makes me feel like I’m wading through molasses as I attempt to do something simple like search for and edit a single contact record. And today I’m reminded again of why Basecamp is on my short list. I’m typing a comment for a client who uses the system, and in the comment box I can’t type the number 6 or the letter X. Seriously.

I’m trying to write about a “1651px JPEG image” and it comes out as “151p JPEG image”. It’s not my keyboard. In the end, I had to write my comment in a text editor and then cut and paste it into the Basecamp widget. Wow.