Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Apparently "E" means "Empty"

I'm gonna come right out right now and admit that this was totally and completely my fault.

Let me set the stage here. Rick and I were driving from Portland to Seattle. We also had my coworker Katie in the RV with us. I noticed that the fuel guage was at about 1/4 before we left, so I made the mental note that we needed to fuel up before getting too far out of Portland. Why the mental note? Because the fuel guage in the RV is small and completely blocked by the steering wheel when I'm sitting in the driver's seat. I'd like to add that the low fuel dummy light and is also blocked. I guess I'll also add that the low fuel dummy light in this particular recreational vehicle does NOT have a companion audible warning chime.

Long story short, I forgot about the fuel thing about 10 seconds after I made the mental note. I re-remembered the fuel thing about an hour later when I noticed that the engine wasn't running. (We were on the Interstate at this point, in case you're wondering.)

My exact expression was "**** me! We're out of gas!"

Katie was riding shotgun. As she tells it, she looked over at the dash and saw that the fuel guage needle was so far below "E" that it was resting on the peg that supports it when the engine is off. (I kind of wondered why, if she could see the guage so well from her seat, she didn't mention something about a gallon earlier, but i digress.)

A large semi behind us with a blaring horn reminded me that we should not be coasting on the Interstate, so I threw it in neutral (to maximize coasting distance), hit the flashers, and pulled over.

Once we slowed to a stop, I shifted back into gear, crossed my fingers, and turned the key. Success! I floored it back onto the highway and got us another few hundred yards before the engine quit again. (I should mention that we were lucky enough to be about a 1/2 mile from an exit with fuel when this happened.)

Anyway, I coasted to a stop on the shoulder again and fired up the engine. Again, success! I floored it to get us another few hundred yards closer to the exit.

At this point I did what I now consider to be one of the most absolutely stupdiest things I've ever done in my life. (We're talking Darwin Awards quality stupid here.)

I had just hit the gas and was accelerating on the shoulder. There was a semi truck in the right lane (to my left), but instead of slowing down to let it pass I decided that I wanted to make the most of the fuel fumes so I keep accelerating. We were essentially running full highway speed down the shoulder, right next to this truck. The problem was that there was a bridge around a corner at which point the shoulder (i.e. our lane) completely disappeared! I slammed on the brakes. The semi truck that was next to us started to gain some ground as we got squeezed between it and the guardrail. At the very last second I swerved batman-style into the lane behind the truck just as the engine quit again.

(I get nervous just thinking about this.)

Just how stupid was this move? Consider some alternate endings:
  • We hit the bridge guardrail and go flying over the edge to our death.
  • We hit the semi truck and go careening out of control to our death.
  • We hit the semi truck and it goes careening out of control.
  • There's a vehicle behind the semi truck that we cream as we're swerving to avoid the bridge death thing.
Seriously, this was really stupid of me. I've never been in a car accident, but this one at best would have delayed us for our Seattle user group meeting and at worst would've wiped out 50% of The Brian Madden Company plus a few bystanders.

On a lighter note, the RV coasted most of the way around the exit ramp, and the three of us walked to the gas station to buy a gas can and a gallon of gas.

The photo below is perhaps my favorite one of the whole trip.

This is like the automobile walk of shame. Lots of people honked as they drove by.

One final tip: After we got the gallon of gas into the RV, we drove to the gas station to fill it up. Rick and I were kind of joking about what to do with the gas can we just bought. Try to return it? Throw it away? Then Katie piped in, "uhhhh.. how about filling it up and sticking in the RV?"

Oh. Right.

That mosh pit totally ruined my pedicure

Hi Everyone,

Katie here writing from Drive 2006! I took the train down yesterday from Seattle to join Brian and Rick at their Portland user group event and hang out for the evening. The user group event was fun. It was great to meet some technologists surrounding the Pacific Northwest area and hear their input on the Drive 2006 mission.

At the event I met some cool people, one being Julian Wilcoxon, a Citrix compadre and good friend of Rick D’s. Last night I tagged along with Rick and Julian for a night out while Brian went back to the hotel to get some work done. We were headed to an all ages concert of a hip hop band Rick and Julian know of. We stopped at a local pub for an adult beverage or two.. assuming that the ‘all ages’ description of the concert meant that we would likely be hipping and hopping with a younger crowd. Sure enough we arrived and quickly learned we represented the geriatric following of this band’s fans. Despite any blazing age difference amongst our fellow concert goers the concert was a total blast and the band totally rocked (although I don’t think they’ll every receive sponsorship from the American Lung Association.) It was an awesome time hanging with Rick and Julian and watching Rick D ‘get his groove on’. (‘Go Rick…it’s your birthday…). All in all it was an awesome time, hanging with the youth of Portland, kickin’ with Rick and Julian--but that mosh pit totally ruined my pedicure.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Video: Is California the future of Citrix?

One thing that's occurred to me since I've been on the west coast is that it seems that Citrix is becoming more of a "California" company instead of a "Florida" company. Rick and I decided to share our thoughts via video while we were killing time on the Santa Cruz boardwalk.

View the video of Brian & Rick discussing the Californication of Citrix (Quicktime, 1 min 22 sec, 7.6MB)

Did I really buy a Mac? I made this video in about 10 minutes, but I'll never reveal whether it was done on a Mac or a PC.

P.S. This video is in Quicktime format.

P.P.S. Rick is the one with the weird hat.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Big Mountain in your Face!

After our linner in Bend, OR, we beat feet for Government Camp, OR and our rendezvous with my long time friend Julian Wilcoxon. The blast up highway 97 was uneventful, except for one turn along the way. The picture below is what hit us in the face as we rounded a bend in the road...

The mountain in the picture is Mt, Hood, one of the volcanos in the Cascade Mountain range. One real cool thing about Hood - it's got a glacier on it, and the Timberline Lodge resort does a decent chunk of ski/snowboard business during the summer season. In the close-up below you can see the lanes they cut for the ski camps, and the half-pipes and hits in the snowboard parks they build for the campers who flock into town for the summer session.

While we were stopped on the side of the highway, it seemed like a great opportunity to check out the local flora, fauna, and animal life. Here Brian experiments with the local variety of fire ants. Maybe he was trying to compare their sting with the variety they have in Maryland? Maybe you should ask him about it next time you see him!

Embarrasing Moments - Straight from the Source

Since our trip north had taken an unexpected swing through Central Oregon, we decided to stop for a quick bite in Bend. Being a thoughtful son/son-in-law, I rang up some of the fam to join us. We had a bunch of, um, ‘interesting’ conversation with my dad, step mom, and father in law over some of the best Chinese food anywhere. The only problem with the experience is that now Brian’s got more dirt on me than any publicly visible person should reasonably have. Not that it’s going to stop me from tossing jabs at him, but I’ll think twice about what he may respond with! Here’s me getting goofy with my father and father in law.

Beware the Easy Button!

On our way out of Jack’s house he gave us one of the Staples Easy Button gizmo’s. He made us promise we’d include it in the blog somewhere along the line. While this picture is clearly not too creative of a use for the Easy Button, it gave me a great placeholder to discuss the big plans we’ve got for it!

Brian’s current car is a 1976 Alfa Romeo Jiulia, and it’s got one ‘surprising’ addition that isn’t stock: an air horn from a fire truck (thank you eBay!) backed by a compressor and a 1 gallon air tank. Currently, it’s wired up to the horn buttons in the car, enabling it’s owner to shake things up as the situation warrants. Can you imagine being a jay-walker and getting a fire-truck horn blown at you from a 47 pound car? Ouish! Here’s Brian and his little darling, circa BriForum 2006 (picture from a 700W).

So the plan of record is to wire up one of the channels of Brian’s $14 remote-start capable alarm system up to the air-horn. This will allow one of the key-fobs for the alarm to be embedded in the Easy Button, allowing the air horn to be activated wirelessly by tapping the big red button.

Will that work for you Jack? ;-)

Crazy Cool Camera

Once we got back on the road, I let Brian drive and started playing around with the camera I picked up for the trip. It’s a Cannon PowerShot S2 IS, and we’ve both been amazed at the pictures it’s captured. In the name of geeky illustration, here’s a couple of the experimental shots I snagged.

This one I figured would be a bomb – shooting at close range, inside a moving vehicle, with very bright sunlight outside. We were amazed at how it drew the light out of the dark interior and didn’t allow the bright/moving roadside overwhelm the picture. Brian’s got his ‘I’m a very good driver’ face on.

The next shot that impressed me was taken out the window of the RV in motion. The scene was the valley of the Upper Klamath Basin, with some of the low-lying yet still snow covered hills in the background. I expected it smear like mad, but it actually came out pretty clean.

Finally, I was dinking around and scrambled to take a picture of a monstrous funky dinosaur cow sort of thing as we drove past it. My framing and timing sucked, but the less than perfect results showed me it could have been a clean picture if I’d been on it. Did I mention that I’m far from a skilled photographer?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Cabin crash, Take One

Our last minute call to spend the night at the cabin was an awesome one! It’s a great little cabin on the water in Lake of the Woods, OR. We spun up about a million fabulous ideas over a peaceful bonfire off the deck, and wrapped up a late evening with a first rate star gazing session from the lounge chairs on the dock. What an insane view! Something about 5000’ of elevation and no light pollution really brings all the stars out to play. For the third time in one trip, Brian experienced more stars than he’s seen in his life – score one for the West! We toyed with the idea of trying to capture the star blanket on camera, but neither of us had the juice so we called it a (late) night.

To protect the innocent I won’t reveal our wakeup time, however suffice it to say we got a fabulous nights’ sleep. We both took an hour or so to catch up on voicemail and phone calls (from the front porch and dock, of course!) and I managed to snap this shot of Brian hard at work.

The funny thing about this shot is that Brian didn’t realize he’d been setup. I sifted through the cabinet to find a coffee mug that came close to matching his personality. I don’t know how close I came, but it was the best I could do with the tools I had.

Roadside Hangout - Northern CA

After our startling experience with the high tension power lines, we jumped back in the chariot and rolled up the street and down another, finally settling in on a spot between a sunflower field and an alfalfa field.

Once we stopped, we immediately grabbed the lawn chairs and a gin and tonic, then continued our conversation under the numerous stars in the NorCal sky (the most Brian’d seen to date, but he got a pleasant surprise later on in the trip!).

At some point in the conversation the question of ‘you see any reason why we should move this thing?’ came up. The answer was a resounding ‘no’, so we continued our brain bending discussions until we both dropped.

I awoke the next morning to Brian wandering around the aarr vee whispering into the video camera. I still haven’t watched the vid to see what he was murmuring to himself, but if my waking moments show up on his site I’m going to post the picture with the fire ants. Remember the ‘circle of trust’ Mr… ;-)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Bizarre Elecrical Phenomeon - WIERD!

So we got out of Santa Cruz around 7, after making a good shopping run at Safeway. Our motor up California (through San Jose, Hayward, Dublin, and Vacaville) was uneventful, except for a ton of killer conversation. Sometime around 9:30 we picked a random exit along the 505 and pulled off to stop and rest for a bit. The first ‘spot’ we found turned into a bizarre experience with electricity.

It turns out we parked our big metal box underneath a bunch of high tension power lines. As I got out and wandered off to water the daisies, Brian started whining something about getting shocked by his door. I responded by telling him to pull his skirt down and get the lawn chairs out, but at his insistence I tried to re-create his experience. Sure enough, if I rolled my flip-flop insulated foot over so it grounded on the tall grass, I could touch the chassis on the aarr vee and get a pretty startling shock.

What gives? We’re far from electricians, but the answer doesn’t seem to far from reach. If any technoids out there can help shed a clue on what we experienced, please speak up! Here’s what the lines and position of the aarrr veee looked like, taken as a still snap from a re-creation vid we shot. With any luck, I’ll get Brian to post it so you can see/hear some more details.


Working session with Shakespeare

Now you have to keep in mind that we’re traveling during a massive heat wave in the West. Just about the time we were starting to feel sorry for ourselves (forcast: Redding, CA – 112F, Medford, OR – 107) Brian got a call from Emily (their event planner extraordinaire) and learned about the misfortunes of Washington DC/Maryland – 13 inches of rain in 24 hours, and still storming strong! We took comfort in the fact that we weren’t navigating a flood, then beat feet to a place where we could take a break from the sun. Our destination? Lake Shasta, CA.

Now you’d expect that a couple tech happy travelers such as ourselves would have the foresight to take a picture or two of a place as cool as Shasta, but I guess the heat got to us. Or perhaps the Pacifico, but I only drank one… We scoped out the variety of-boats at Holiday Harbor, took a few swims, and headed back North towards Oregon.

After a little mental math, we decided it would make sense to continue up I-5, stopping in Ashland (home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival - for some wifi, a cup of cold java, and a work session. We landed at a funky cool little hippie coffee shop called Evo’s, worked until they kicked us out (then until they kicked us off the deck) and headed for the hills. Can you find the woman hiding her face with her hat? She got a bit twitchy about me running around with a camera. Maybe she's in a witness relo program or something... ;-)

As we rolled out of Ashland, a new goal strongly appeared: reach the family cabin on Lake of the Woods, OR in time to experience the sunset in all it’s glory. Did we make it? You be the judge.

Wanderin' Santa Cruz

Our marvelous host Jack suggested we couldn't leave Santa Cruz without sampling some of the Boardwalk. After a fabulous breakfast and coffee (thank you Glenna!) we borrowed Jack's wireless and got a few of the blog items up and the requisite e-mail done. At Jack's urging, we rolled for the beach around 1ish before the fog rolled in. Boy were we glad we took his advice!

The Santa Cruz boardwalk was awesome! It was similar to something like Ocean City with it's amusement park, or perhaps a bit like Coney Island - a cool amusement park on the beach, surrounded by beachfront eateries and shops. The shot here was taken from the railroad trestle we crossed as we walked to the Boardwalk from Jack’s house.

We had a blast wandering around taking in the sights, smells, and sounds of Santa Cruz. Along the way we had time for a few shenanigans just to make sure everyone knew we don't take ourselves too seriously.

BriForum 2006 attendees may recall the beginning of the session Brian, Benny Trische, and I did to wrap up BriForum. Long story short – I offered a warm 16oz Monster energy drink to the attendees, and Brian responded to the crickets with a heroic guzzling effort. Well, on the Boardwalk we ran across a pickup all pimped out with the Monster brand, staffed with people handing out free drinks to all comers. This sparked a laugh about the BriForum fiasco (Brian almost chuked multiple times during our session!) which turned into a fun little video session. I don’t want to steal our new video editor’s thunder, but here’s a sneak peak (snapshot from the AVI he’s working on).

Also in the name of ‘thunder stealer avoidance’, I won’t share too much about some of the other goofiness that ensued. When he’s ready, we should get some cool mini-videos out of Brian. One in particular that was a complete blast to do – the Californication of Citrix. You can see the results of this fun little ditty in his blog post:

During this trip I’ve been having fun teasing Brian about being a (sometimes) shy single guy. While Brian was hunting sunglasses, Jack and I hatched this plan to stage an interesting ‘event’ for Brian and capture his reaction on film. Our plans managed to leak out, but Brian was still game. We went for a wander along the beach to see if we could find some willing participants among the people enjoying a nice day on the beach in Santa Cruz. After I struck out miserably, Jack turned on the charm and talked a handful of beach-goers into participating.

After the plan for the shoot was shared with our co-conspirators (wow! I sound like a producer!), we gave the video camera to Jack and started rolling. In our little video, Brian and I walked towards Jack, babbling something about the relative coefficient of friction between fiberglass and foam surfboards, then this group of girls comes running up all ‘ga ga’ over BRIAN MADDEN! While he’s graciously receiving their adoration, I was bouncing around outside the throng trying to call attention to myself: ‘Hey! I’m Rick Dehlinger, you know, the geeky techie guy?’ ‘Hello! Over here!’ One of the girls turns around and pushes me back saying ‘go away married guy!’

We thought we were tricky, and that we had just pulled off something very funny, but we found out shortly there after that we had a ‘camera malfunction’ and missed the whole thing! Poor Jack – he was worried that the girls would think we were some weirdo’s if the video didn’t show up as we’d told them it would. I promised Jack I’d post a picture of them, along with a ‘sorry’ for our little boo boo.

Whiskey, Scotch, or Bourbon?

Last night Rick and I met up with our friend Jack Cain in Santa Cruz. He likes Flavor Ice (or Otter Pops as they call them here in Santa Cruz). Rick was nice enough to help Jack bring the Otter P's into the house.

Jack lives in Santa Cruz and he and his wife were gracious enough to take us out to dinner on the boardwalk. The highlight of the evening was after dinner. We went back to Jack's house where he set up a tasting of several whiskeys.

I didn't have much experience with whiskey, but Rick and Jack taught me how to sip without taking the fumes up the nose, so that helped. Jack gave us samples all the way up to a Johnnie Walker Blue.

I'm amazed at the range of flavors of various whiskeys. I really enjoyed the Caol Ila, which had a smokey, almost mesquite after taste.

Both Rick and I definitely have a much better appreciation of good whiskey! Thanks Jack! (That's "Jack" as in "Cain," not "Jack" as in "Daniels.")

Friday, June 23, 2006

Could have been 'has Madden gone MAC?'

I mentioned the mall run in a previous post - it was all about the MacBook. Brian's been planning to purchase a Mac for some time, so it didn't take much urging to talk him into picking it up on the trip. From the moment we walked into the Mac Store, the 'experience' started. Clean, open, hip retail space. No cash register in site. The whole transaction tripped out both us and the store clerk. We were tripping on the store and the location independent POS (clerks carried wireless handheld devices with card readers, barcode scanners, and a receipt printer built in. Not surprisingly, it wasn't running Windows) and she was tripping on the hooligan walking in, making a purchase decision in about 2.5 seconds, and handing over a Corporate AMEX for payment. Do you think she checked for ID?

Believe it or not, we actually had a bunch of cool pictures taken to spin a scandalous story about Brian going MAC, but an unidentified (user?) error caused us to come up empty handed. Electronic gizmos, +1. Brian and Rick, -1.

I'm going to push Brian to write up a longer post on first impressions of life on the Mac. Let's just say that, even with one Mac/BSOD, the first 25 minutes with the MacBook were overwhelmingly positive! The fit and finish - unparalleled. It makes my Toshiba Portege and Brian's Thinkpad look like third rate clones! The thing just oozes style, clear down to the bottom of the notebook even! Long story short, inside of 15 minutes (including recovering from the first, apparently fluke OS crash) we had the thing booted, personalized with a picture from the built-in webcam, the camcorder connected, and the first DVD movie project ready to burn! Granted it took quite a while to pull the rest of the scenes from the camera (we've got a decent chunk of video!) and the DVD menus, titles, audio, etc. were very basic, but we could have literally popped in a blank DVD and had player ready output inside the time it takes to burn at 8 or 16x.

Since we didn't get to have fun with our original pictures, I snapped a slightly suspecting one of Brian working on the MacBook just to prove it wasn't a hoax. Consider this the booby prize!

NetScaler play in San-Jozay

After a fabulous evening out with a host of amazingly cool people and a comfy night in a suite Gustav and Richski lined up for us, we were a bit slow moving the next morning. We did make it to San Jose without too much drama, but landed a bit late and somewhat sideways. The Citrix security officer was kind enough to capture our, um, 'off center' landing for prosperity. Appropriate, wouldn't you say?

We were in San Jose to catch a Netscaler hands-on training session at Citrix ANG's HQ office in San Jose. The honorable Miss Jennifer Enfinger was presiding over the low key hands-on session. Believe it or not, she was nice enough to take a picture with us hooligans!

The session was pretty cool - it's amazing how much cool things a geek can do with these things! Now if they'd just offer a hella discount so 'normal' peeps have more opps to to play with them... ;-)

We where joined in the session by some of the local hell-raising talent from MTM. They were hesitant to let us take their picture (perhaps there's some outstanding warrants with the local constabulary? Just kidding gents!) but we snapped a group mug shot anyway... the other two cats slipped out while we were discussing the where/when/how DNS resolution comes into play with GSLB. Jennifer summoned 'the Angel' and we got our questions answered and then some. Thanks Angel!

After a long discussion about wether or not Netscaler appliances really existed, we managed to talk an unsuspecting Citrite into taking us on a wander. Much to our excitement, we stumbled upon a test lab with - get this - a bunch of Netscaler's in it! I should have taken a picture of a pair we saw in an old display room. They had some bitchin' blue and red lights behind the logos, and looked really cool behind glass in a dark room. Personally, I like the old school colors/device branding on the boxes I circled...

After struggling all morning against the urge to take the podium, we finally gave in and got busy. Here's Brian in the middle a faux 'Windows printing' diatribe, and I'm, well, taking the podium! Fortunately for us, the room was empty so we didn't embarrass ourselves too badly.

Brian, arms loaded with chachki, sandwiches, and libations, stumbles for the door on our way to the mall (I know, I know - the mall was Brian's idea. You'll see why I went along with it soon!)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A sake and sashimi dinner

After the user group meeting, Rick and I and some other folks grabbed dinner at a Japanese restaurant in the city. (L to R, me, Rich Crusco, Thad Morrow, and Rick D.)

This place was known for their chilled sake, which was a new concept to me. (I have only previously had warm sake.) We had several bottles of chilled sake which tasted much more like wine than the sake that I'm used to. The server was great and helped us select some wonderful bottles.

Some bottles were more wonderful than others. (L to R, half of Gus Pinto, Mike Strohl, and me)

Apparently Mike didn't like one of the sake drinks, so he decided to empty his glass on my shorts before throwing it on the ground.

San Francisco user group meeting

We're now at the Gordon Biersch brewery in downtown San Francisco. A local Citrix partner called Entisys put this meeting together along with the Bay Area Application Deployment Technologist Alliance. Having a work meeting in a brewery is definitely a good idea.

The rockstar spoke first.

Since Rick and I are both geeks, we have a lot of hardware with us. Someone shot a photo of our table at the brewery.. Hmm.. Maybe we did go a little overboard with the gear?

We're off! First stop, San Francisco

After a few days of packing and relaxing, we're ready to head out to our first event in San Francisco.

We drove the chariot from Rick's house to Sacramento to pick up his buddy Paul Ardoin (formerly with Secure Computing). Paul hitched a ride with us SF and tried to get me to switch to a Mac. (I think he might be successful!)

Once we grabbed Paul and some Mickey D's, I drove the chariot Mario Andretti-style into SF. It wasn't burning or shaking, so we figured out would be a good day.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Relaxing at Rick's House with no Internet connection

We don't leave for our road trip until Thursday morning, so now we're hanging out at Rick's house getting ready for the drive. This includes packing, buying food and supplies, testing the podcasting equipment, and keeping Rick's kids happy.

Tomorrow is wakeboarding day, and then we leave for SF on Thursday.

Brian Madden, NorCal Country Boy

I must admit, I had a blast introducing Brian to life in the sticks. Now Brian is a pretty cosmopolitan kind of guy (and a core geek who glows when he has an Internet connection) and we wanted to break him into the slower pace of BFE the right way. How'd I do it? Put him up in a bed and breakfast in Coloma the first evening ( complete with home a cooked breakfast and no Internet or mobile phone connections. I figured I'd find him the next morning having withdrawal spasms on the porch, but found him chillin' in the kitchen with some new friends he'd met over breakfast.

After some Starbucks enabled wi-fi time, we picked up the aaaarrr - veeee and headed to Rancho Dehlinger for some more slow pace break-in activities. My darling wife doesn't quite understand it, but guys feel a certain draw to tractors, and Brian was no exception. I tossed him in the driver seat of the Kubota, showed him how to control it, and turned him loose. His first act as a tractor pilot? Dropping off a little ledge onto the driveway. You wouldn't expect this to be too dramatic, but tractors don't exactly have supple suspension - the ensuing clatter and the look on his face were priceless! Note the look of intensity/joy on his face as he was recovering from the shock of the drop...

Brian got to experience quite a few new things while entertaining our girls. We introduced him to bonfires on the front deck, a gazillion stars with a visible stripe of the milky way running through, a hard core man room we've got setup in the barn, and our two heelers with their happy tongues. Besides the big screen TV, couches, and full size fridge stocked full of man beverages, the hilight of the man room was his introduction to Maggie, the one woman (black widow spider, to be specific) with a permanent place in the man room. He also met the White Widow, but that's another story all together!