Zing bowling

At Zing we’re always on the lookout for an activity to do as a company. We’ve gone skiing, whitewater rafting, go-karting, and even enjoyed dinner in the Pope Room. So when Josh suggested we go bowling, it seemed like a great idea.

This afternoon five of us left the office a little early. We headed over to Centennial Lanes and played a few games.

Brent had the most consistency of anyone. Unfortunately he consistently put the ball in the right gutter.


Josh looks sad after this shot.


After the first game, Brent decided it was time to get serious. He started surfing bowling sites on the web and found some tips that really improved his game. The tips included things like “do not bowl if you have an arm injury”.


We all agreed that Nick had the best form, including the professional-looking “put your right leg behind your left after release”.


We also agreed that the shoes really made the outfit. Where else does thirteen bucks get you five pairs of hot-pink-and-fluorescent-yellow shoes?


I should point out that, despite not having bowled in well over a decade, I was the champ of the first game with a very impressive score of 140. Honestly I was surprised to break 100.


All in all, I’d consider this another successful Zing outing.


Butt text

So everyone’s heard of “butt-dialing” where you get a phone call and hear nothing but strange rustling noises. The caller has their phone in their back pocket and accidentally hit speed dial or redial or whatever to call you.

Until the other day, I’d never received a “butt text” before. My friend, who shall remain nameless, started sending me a bunch of cryptic messages.


Until he sent the final one, I was wondering if it was (1) a photo or something that hadn’t been encoded properly, or (2) a secret code that I was supposed to decipher to find a prize. I was a little disappointed to discover it was neither.

Shaken, not stirred

When we go to thrift stores, we often look for unusual glasses. We have a set of standard 8oz glasses we bought at Walmart however long ago, but over time they tend to crack and break. Since we’ll never match them anyway, we’ve decided it’s more fun to have a bunch of random completely unmatched glasses. We have shot glasses, tall skinny ones, short fat ones, curvy ones, and on and on.

While in Utah a few weeks ago, we went to a thrift store and Alex, Zack, and I all chose glasses for ourselves. I found a sweet martini glass. We didn’t have any of those, so it seemed like a good fit.

It’s fun to drink my orange juice from a martini glass…


Shaken, not stirred, please.


Kyra’s been struggling a bit with chemistry of late, so we sat down this evening to work together on some problems for her upcoming test.

It’s been a long time since I did any serious chemistry, but I remember being quite fond of it. Balancing chemical reactions is very much like algebra, where you solve for unknowns and figure out ratios and so forth. Plus it’s called “stoichiometry” which is an awesome name.

So we looked at a lot of reactions like this:


We talked about molecular weights, limiting and excess reagents, theoretical yields, carbonates and oxides, moles and grams, and on and on. Fun stuff.

She wasn’t nearly as excited about it as me. I think I was just happy that I remembered how to do it. And hopefully I explained it well enough that she’ll ace the test now…

Ahh, LinkedIn, how I love to hate thee

Does anyone actually like LinkedIn? It seemed like a good idea a decade ago… well, maybe not a good idea, but not the most terrible idea in all of history. But over time it’s morphed into a monstrous network of spammy resumes and irritating invitation emails.

I created a profile years ago because I own a business and, well, people expect business owners to have LinkedIn profiles. But I’ve never really done anything with it, so it’s pretty void of meaningful content. My only real interactions with LinkedIn are the occasional invitations I accept from people I haven’t heard from in years.

This evening, as I clicked to accept another such invitation, I couldn’t help but notice the incredibly useful list of potential contacts that LinkedIn presented to me.


Let’s summarize this stellar group of businesspeople who will certainly help me to grow my “network”:

A health coach… from somewhere in the Denver area.

The outsourcing director of a company in India.

Someone who works at a credit union.

Someone… who lives somewhere in the United States and does non-descript work. This is perhaps the most puzzling of all.

A postdoc in South Africa.

A creative director at a company I’ve actually heard of. This is, by far, the most promising lead of the group… and it’s still horrible.

I must admit, with these pickin’s, maybe I should just roll the dice and hook up with “United States” guy. Or gal? This could be my ticket!


Software development is a tough business when clients want to know how much something will cost. It’s certainly reasonable for our clients to want to understand how much budget they need to allocate for a project, and I always do my best to provide them with estimates to the best of what we know.

However, sometimes it’s hard to convey to them that (1) an estimate is almost never right, and (2) there are certain things where it’s actually impossible to estimate what it’ll take to accomplish their goal. Sometimes this is because we’ve never used the technology; other times it’s because they just don’t know quite what they want.

Just now I got hit with the latter. Here’s part of an actual client email:

At high level I see you will have to perform following tasks (and probably much more)…

[bullet list of three things]
For budget purpose, can you please give me a high-level cost estimate to make these changes (as well as other changes)?

This happens to be a fairly major project that will affect an entire product line. My client has managed to collapse the entire thing down to three bullet points, and “probably much more”. And I’m supposed to estimate this…?

Perhaps I should give my standard reply:

One million dollars will certainly cover it.

Ye Olde Rice

We have a tin can of rice in our pantry. It’s fifteen years old.

Every now and then I break it out and cook some rice, either plain steamed rice or stir-fried with vegetables. It always seems fine, even though the rice is older than at least one of my children. Honestly, I can’t imagine that rice actually “goes bad”… I envision archaeologists uncovering an ancient Buddhist temple in Japan and finding a container of rice, then throwing it into the wok for dinner.

Laralee, on the other hand, thinks it’s ridiculous that I eat food that old. Every time she sees me pull out the can, she reminds me that she buys rice now and then at the store (which she uses). And every time I shrug and use the old stuff.

Anyway, today I had a hankerin’ for rice so I opened the can to find…


Ha! Well played, Laralee.

I used it anyway.


Well, it’s been one of those weeks.

On Monday, internet security researchers reported a flaw in the OpenSSL software that underlies almost every open-source security package in the world. Any web server or login account that relies on the software was vulnerable to an attack that would allow the bad guys to steal user credentials, decrypt financial data in browser sessions, impersonate secure sites, and so forth. It was generally agreed this was a Bad Thing– Bruce Schneier himself remarked, “On a scale of one to ten, this is an eleven”.

It was dubbed “Heartbleed”, and it’s such a big deal that it even has it’s own… logo?


So, starting on Tuesday, I went to work patching the software on all of my servers. I currently own 115 of them at my hosting facility, and I manage about 20 more for various clients. Although the patch itself wasn’t all that complicated, it required manually updating every server, rebooting it, and confirming that it came back online okay and all of the services were running normally. Yeesh.

Every night this week I went down to my basement office after dinner and camped out there until about 1:30 in the morning. After three days of that, I was pretty beat. Then, today, I updated the login keys my team and I use to access all of our servers. This was more a precautionary measure than a necessity, but we all agreed it was prudent. That took most of my afternoon. The next step– which will wait until next week– is to revoke and re-issue the security certificates we’re using on various web sites.

Of course I’m not alone: I suspect almost every system administrator in the world was putting in extra hours this week to mitigate Heartbleed. Since this was completely unexpected, all of the projects I’d planned to do were sidelined, and next week will be a game of catch-up. Hoo boy.

At the end of the day, though, I feel pretty good about updating over a hundred servers, communicating with my clients about it, answering their questions, and keeping everything running. This afternoon I commented to Laralee:


Her response (because she’s awesome) was “That doesn’t sound too hard.”