Sunday, August 09, 2015

Adobe Conference

Recently I attended a conference from Adobe about Creative Cloud and marketing. Although there were more presentations, I found the first three most interesting. Here are my notes with some photos of the presentation.

1. Debbie Millman

Branding = deliberate differentiation 

Human beings metabolize everything quickly. We see this literally with food, but metaphorically with love and with the delight from new products. Being the first on the block with the newest product is temporary and equally fleeting is the joy that aspect brings.

The inward isolation of the iPod has been replaced by the virtual connectedness of social media and this represents a complete change in marketing.

The next wave of product management and advertising is in managing the anxiety of measuring ourselves and our connections.

In today's world if you want to succeed focus on giving the consumer these three things: connection, purpose, fulfillment

Limbic branding - brands as connectors

Have a focused message and don't completely change it for multiple audiences or locals. Do not be ambiguous. We always perceive ambiguity negatively.

2. Ashley Still - Creative cloud

Connected assets allow assets to sync and remix across apps

Experience manager assets - central content storage - connects design with marketing

3. Scott Belsky 

This is both a good thing and a bad thing. We need time to concentrate on the ideas that should happen.

Organization with a bias to action. Write with verbs. If nothing actionable comes out of a meeting then you didn't need it. There should be follow ups. Leaders often write reminders to themselves of "ensure this" and "ensure that". Prioritize projects visually -- use an energy line. Compromise and put some things at low energy -- if everything is at high there's no point in having a line.

Work with what's working and keep optimizing. Never say "if it ain't broke don't fix it".

Share ideas liberally and don't worry about them being taken away. You'll receive far more necessary input than stealing of ideas. For instance share ideas in a blog and then take of with the ones that seem to have an impact on readers.

Seek competition - drive comes from seeing another doing the same thin, which makes you want to do it better.

Great creative teams fight a lot.

Fight apathy as well. Don't let people check out and give up the fight.

Leaders talk last. If you start a meeting with "Here's what I think, what do you think?" then that won't engage others. Don't make them try to find an idea that's similar to yours. First allow for input from others

Value the immune system of the team. The doers will fight off something new. Once in a while suppress it for the dreamers to bring in a new idea. Be the bureaucracy breaker - try to keep moving even if it is inch by inch.

Make people (even your bosses) make decisions.

Gain confidence from doubt.

Monday, August 03, 2015

How to discover a server's mail relay

On Solaris 10 run the following command as a regular user:

grep rhmailer /etc/mail/

On RedHat/Centos 5 and 6, first discover the OS release level:

cat /etc/redhat-release 

For redhat or centos 5 run the following command:

grep rhmail /etc/mail/

For redhat or centos 6 run the following command:

grep rhmailer /etc/postfix/

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Opening large files with Oracle SQL Developer

Oracle SQL Developer is my go to SQL tool. It is powerful, easy to use, and free. The only issue is that it can easily produce SQL files that are larger than it can open. For instance if you want to quickly back up a table, you can just run an export in "insert" format and it builds all the insert statements for you. Trouble is if that file's over around 30 MB you can't open it. The issue is that this is a Java program and the space allocated to the JVM at startup isn't large enough for big files. The way to handle this is to increase the memory available to the JVM. Keep in mind when doing this that your OS may limit how much actually gets allocated and of course you could hit a hardware ceiling. So just because you can type a huge number in the configuration file, doesn't necessarily mean you'll get that much memory. Otherwise though this is a simple change that works well.

What you need to do is find the sqldeveloper.conf file. You can just do a search on your system, though keep in mind that some systems (like Mac OS) consider this a system file and don't expose it in the GUI. You may need to use a command line to run your search.

On a Mac you'll likely find the file here: /Applications/

Just open a terminal, use your regular UNIX editor and open the file. Add this line to the file:

AddVMOption  -Xmx2048M

If you find you still can't open your file and that you have more resources available, increase that number until the file opens. Do pay attention to system resources though and leave some memory available for the OS and other apps.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Our Home Made Sukkah

We've always lived in apartments and until this year didn't have private outdoor space where we could build a sukkah. Our current apartment though has a balcony and even before we were sure we wanted to rent the apartment, we were sure that if we did, we would build a sukkah on the balcony.

So a few weeks back I started. I have never built a sukkah and only been in a handful of them. As I sometimes do though I got a few ideas in my head.

One was that the walls should be canvas (because regardless of the truth that seems authentic to me). Another was that the frame should be metal (because it should be strong). And the other notion was that I should build it on my own outside.

My wife did a little research online and found one or two useful articles. The first one sounded good, but it lacked details, so in some ways this is my adding that detail. Also please take note that if you are strict about things, this is NOT a Kosher sukkah.

Also very important: I have no idea what I'm doing.

I am not a trained professional sukkah builder. This may not be a safe sukkah. This may not be legal in your town to have it on a balcony. Also you may be overrun with ushpizin because it's such an amazing sukkah. In short: follow my example/instructions at your own risk. I make no claims as to the safety of this process or sukkah.


1 package of 50 to 100 safety pins
10' to 15' #600 galvanized 18 ga wire
2  12' x 15' canvas drop cloth (actual dimensions are a bit smaller)
0 to 4  1" gas pipe floor flange (optional depending on location)
16  3/4" xclose gas pipe nipple (it's like a piece of 2" pipe that's fully threaded)
4  3/4" galvanized gas pipe tee
4  3/4" galvanized gas pipe 90 degree elbow
8  1" x 10' galvanized electrical conduit pipe
10' nylon string
10 - 12 screws
8 to 16 zip ties (3/16" or larger)
2  10/5' long 2x4s (I didn't use these, but should have had something like them)
suchach (sized to be larger than the top of the sukkah)

( ' = feet; " = inches)

Some of the needed materials:
conduit, floor flange, tees, elbows, and nipples


Pipe wrench
Vice (I used a #4, but anywhere around that size will do and you could make do with 2 pipe wrenches instead)
Drill w/ various bits
Pipe cutter capable of cutting 1" pipe
1 or 2 old rags
Rotary tool with grinding stone (I used a Dremel)
Wire brush
Center punch (optional)
Oil paint marker (optional)
Scissors (for cutting canvas)


The first thing to do is cut the pipe. Our balcony has a metal railing which I wanted to tether as much of the sukkah to the railing as possible. Since the balcony is 80" by 140" and the pipe is 120" long I decided to make the sukkah about 80" x 120" which seats 6 comfortably or 8 snuggly.

For the height I decided on around 6.5' since the drop cloth was 15' on its longest side. Half that and allow for a little bit of extra to wrap around the poles and the maximum you can do is around 6.5'.

So I cut 6 of the 8 pipes to those sizes (2 of them were already properly sized at 10'). Keep a bit of the scrap pipe handy as you'll need it in the next step.

the four corners
The next thing to do is build the corners. Take the tees and elbows and put them together using the nipples. The nipples are slightly cone shaped, so as you tighten them they become even more tight. I did the basic assembly, then used a vice to tighten them up all the way. I put some old tee shirts around the galvanized parts to protect them in the vice (see picture below). Also, in the vice I put the pipe wrench on the elbow and the scrap pipe on the wrench for some extra leverage because you really want to be sure these connections are tight. I made sure I had two sets of corners that would work for the left and right side as shown below. It's important that the elbows are 90 degrees spun from the bottom of the tee as this will keep your frame square.

Once you have four corners like the ones above take the remaining nipples and put them into all of the ends. You can put a pipe wrench directly on the threads without worry of damaging them because we'll be removing those threads later.

adding the first exterior nipple
(the vice is wrapped in an old tee shirt)
tightening the second exterior nipple
completed corners

grinding the threads off the nipples
The next step is to grind the nipples down so the pipe fits on to them. Somehow I thought I'd picked the perfect size that the pipe would just screw on to the nipples, but I must have gotten confused in the hardware store as that didn't work at home, so I pulled out my dremel and a grinding stone and removed the tops of the threads (and smoothed out any marring from the pipe wrench). Basically I ground the nipples down until they fit nicely in the pipes. The whole process used up one new grinding stone.

Once the nipples were done I removed the burs and hanging bits of metal from the threads with a wire brush.
cleaning up the nipple with a wire brush

fitting the pipe onto the nipple

The next step is to drill holes into the pipes and corner pieces, so you can secure them. A punch always helps drilling (especially with a curved surface like a pipe). Be sure that you drill so that the screw goes into the middle of the exposed part of the nipple. I used metal screws with hex tops because I figured they may rust and be difficult to get out (the nipples aren't galvanized). Do this for the full rectangular shape of the top of the sukkah. Disassemble after building the full frame though because unless you have help you'll want to build this in a set order.

above secure screw in place
below drilled hole ready for the screw

To be sure everything would fit together easily, I used an oil paint marker to put numbers on all of the connections between pipe and nipple so I could always match pipe 1 to nipple 1 and 2 to 2. Unless you're perfect with the grinding and drilling you'll likely end up with parts that aren't fully interchangeable, so this keeps that from being a problem.

Now it's time to assemble the frame. First build a short side by putting two corners on a pipe. Remember that each tee should have a nipple facing down for one of the vertical pipes to go in. It should look something like this:

pipe with two corners attached
(and all the scrap pipe pilled to the left)
Now attach another side of the top to the parts you just assembled and then put a corner on that pipe. You should have three corners and two pipes all with the securing screws in place. At this point you've assemble a little over half of what will be the roof.
corner with two top pieces of pipe
Grab one of the pipes that will become a vertical part of the wall (a leg) and put it into a tee so that all nipples on one of the corners have pipe in them.

at this point things get a little wobbly

While holding the assembled parts up with one hand, put a leg on the other corner. With both legs in place, you'll have them and the one top pipe on the ground and it won't be so wobble (for now).
putting the second leg in

Grab the top pipe that's resting on the ground and raise it up. Put one of the legs into the tee on the corner that had been on the ground. Although not very stable you have three legs at this point and it should stand. This is where having the railing on the balcony is great because you can use the zip ties to hold the pipes in place. Be sure to move the frame to where you want it to end up before zip tying it. Put at least one zip tie at the top of the rail and one at the bottom. Add more for a little extra stability.
zip tied leg
I don't have pictures for the next couple steps, but hopefully it's intuitive. Attach another top pipe to one of the standing corners. (Always put the securing screws in place the moment you put a pipe on a nipple.)

While holding that pipe with one arm to support it, attach the last corner, and then put the leg on it. Now you have just one more top pipe to put in place. Because there's some give to the frame you should be able to pull it apart a little, place the pipe into the nipple, and then pull it shut. Hopefully you have a frame like this:

For me I was able to secure 3 legs to the railing, but the last one had nothing to be secured to, so I put a 1" floor flange on it. This should just screw into place onto the leg and give it a little more stability, but mainly keep it from digging into the surface of the balcony too much.

leg with floor flange

Now it's time to secure the legs with screws in the same way that the top pipes all have securing screws. Since the one leg was free floating I put a level on it to be sure I was attaching it at a right angle. I chose to only put securing screws on two legs (at opposite corners), but putting a screw on each leg is probably smart.

assembled corner with painted connection points
(A goes to A) and securing screws all in place

Check that all of the securing screws are tight and the frame feels solid. It should give a little, but not much.

Now it's time to make walls. Take the drop cloth and fold it over along the 15' side (hopefully you can clear a space big enough for this). Cut along the fold line and you will end up with two equally sized roughly 7' x 10' pieces of canvas. Repeat this on the second drop cloth and you'll have 4 identically sized pieces.

Hopefully you can find a time with no wind to put the canvas on. Decide where you want the door to start and make that where you start with the canvas. Wrap the canvas around a top part of the frame (not a leg) so that the cut side is parallel to the pipe (and ground). Start securing the canvas with safety pins.

One thing that helps this process is to take the far end of the canvas and drape it over the top of the frame. This makes it so not all of the weight of the canvas is on the section you're trying to secure.

Work your way around the top of the frame securing the canvas. A safety pin every 4" or so seemed to work well. When you have one piece secure, put another piece on, but overlap it by 4' or so which will allow the canvas to flap open some in the wind without exposing the inside of the sukkah except in high wind.

I only needed 3 pieces of canvas as was able to cover 3 sides and most of the other side. The sukkah is positioned such that the part without canvas is right around the door into the apartment, so it feels like the sukkah has 4 walls.

Once the canvas it up, go around and lash the corners with the wire tie. You can punch it through the canvas and wrap around the bit of canvas that is wrapped around the pipe. You may want to get the wire tight by using pliers to twist the wire together (like a wire tie for a trash bag). Just keep in mind that the wire isn't very heavy and you can twist it to snapping. You want it to have just a little give. My theory is bamboo bends and doesn't break so I like the sukkah to have just a little movement in all joints.

Use the wire tie to secure the bottom of the canvas to the railing. This way it won't blow around in the wind. Where you are able tie the nylon string to the top pipe and to the rail. This way if the sukkah gets wind under it and starts to lift, hopefully the nylon string keeps it from sailing off your balcony.

The final step is to put a covering on and secure it. We order special Kosher suchach. There are a few options out there but what we got was cut bamboo held tightly together with interwoven nylon string. I put it on top of the sukkah, unrolled it, put two cross members across the width of the sukkah (technically you should do the length, but I didn't have long enough cross member) and secured it with wire tie. It was certainly the easiest part since we bought that preassembled.

I prefer a less tightly woven roof because you can see the stars and it's easier to hang decor from, but I must say the suchach we had made it easy and looked great.

the completed sukkah (from inside)
notice how the top of the canvas is wrapped around the pipe

Chag sameach!

Sunday, September 28, 2014


It is the rhyme
and of course ... the rhythm
bow down to 'em
break words to make time
to the form we pray
and the meaning within
this too we trim

Sunday, September 14, 2014

London, Wales, and Festival No.6 - a recent vacation - part two of two

And on the seventh day of their trip was the festival...

We spent the next four days in Portmeirion for Festival No. 6. It was an amazing experience and we are already pondering going back next year. Rather than stick to the day-by-day format of my last post, I'll lead you through the festival topic by topic.

"To begin at the beginning..."

The Prisoner

To those of you who are wondering if next year it will be Festival No. 7, you need to know a little about the late 1960's show, The Prisoner. As wikipedia says, "The series follows a British former secret agent who is abducted and held prisoner in a mysterious coastal village resort where his captors try to find out why he abruptly resigned from his job." Everyone in the village had a number rather than a name and this particular secret agent was number 6. Although the interior filming was done on sound-stages, almost all of the exterior shots were filmed in Portmeirion. They did not need to build a surreal location for this ahead-of-its-time show, the location was already there. There's more I would love to tell you, but instead you simply should watch it and then we'll talk.

The Prisoner - Reenactments

A fan group called "6 of One" dressed as characters from the show and reenacted scenes from it. They wandered about the village and turned up here and there.
Human chess game reenactment

Number 2's chair

Mini moke - the taxi cabs in the show

"Be seeing you" salute

I turned around during a concert at one point
and saw this going on in the audience.

The Village

The set of the prisoner and the place where we stayed is known as "the village". It is where most of the buildings in Portmeirion are. The collection of architecture is eclectic, but somehow it works and does feel planned out. The bright pastel colors add to that. Here's some more from wikipedia about the history of the village:
Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion's designer, denied repeated claims that the design was based on the town of Portofino, Italy. He stated only that he wanted to pay tribute to the atmosphere of the Mediterranean. He did, however, draw from a love of the Italian village stating, "How should I not have fallen for Portofino? Indeed its image remained with me as an almost perfect example of the man-made adornment and use of an exquisite site."[1] Williams-Ellis designed and constructed the village between 1925 and 1975. He incorporated fragments of demolished buildings, including works by a number of other architects. Portmeirion's architectural bricolage and deliberately fanciful nostalgia have been noted as an influence on the development of postmodernism in architecture in the late 20th century. -- wikipedia
During the Festival the big stages are out in the fields, but there are a few stages in the village. Also access to the village is only during the day, so as one of those staying in the village we had the privilege of exploring it day and night.

The Woods

Beyond the village are miles of trails in the woods. They would be magical on their own since they are like the US Pacific NorthWest forests that have mossy trees and dense vegetation. It is the perfect setting for a fantasy novel ... and a festival. As you walk upon the trails, you turn a corner, and there you find a DJ, or a stage, or an artist. One of the stages was called "Lost in the Woods" and I certainly would have been happy to have stayed lost in the woods coming upon random wonder after another. Some of those things we came upon are pictured here.

Our favorite oasis in the woods was Hole and Corner (H and C). It is a magazine normally, but in the woods it was a collection of artisans who used ancient and modern techniques to skillfully create wooden bowls, clay pots, clogs, indigo apparel, and always a work of art.

"made you look"

This is a turning tool at H and C that wooden bowls were
being carved on. A foot pedal provides the
power to spin the wood as it is carved.

Paper and natural plant at H and C

Making clogs at H and C. This saw horse had a hook in it on
which many differently shaped blades could be attached.
I think these are Japanese cedar

DJ booth

into the woods

Japanese cedar

There was more than one tree
 decorated with pence as such.

Lost in the Woods stage. Mostly
it was a DJ, but bands played here too.


On Stage

Gavin Turk gave an interesting talk about
authenticity, art, and consumerism.

Gavin Clark (right) has a wonderful voice and some great folk songs.

Not a great picture, but a
great and unique band:
The Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band

John Robins was hilarious
or as he put it, "brilliant,
five stars". Also very funny
 and on stage that day
was Marcel Lucont

I didn't expect to love an entire show by a beatboxer
 (it's impressive, but I'm not always entertained)
but Shlomo is a really great live act.

The Welsh band Yucatan. Really humble and talented.

Gypsies of Bohemia. Humorous and
danceable remakes of songs you know.

Spark! has a great electronic lights show.

Julian Cope spoke about his book
 One Three One and very impressively
dealt with a heckler. Then again
anyone wearing gauntlets probably
feels ready to take on anything.

...and in the streets

These actors were the most talented at pantomime I've seen.
It was live action hangman where the whole audience
guessed at the clue. It was, of course, "The Prisoner"

The Submercycle

The Flycycle

The Mad Hatter Tea Party
a dance performance

This was an immersive shadow puppet show.
You sat in the wheelchair and were moved
 around while listening to head phones
 and seeing shadow puppets through
 windows in the box you wore.

These were the funniest guys at the festival.
They interacted with people on the street as
if they were just coming into contact with
modernity for the first time.


"Back in the village again"
"All together now"
"Can we stay?"