Guus Bosman

software engineering director

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New starfish

When we lived in Haarlem, the Netherlands we had a beautiful cactus; a present from my grandmother. The full name is Stapelia Grandiflora, or Starfish for short.

Several years ago I found a starfish at a local store but it was sick. I bought it for $1 and tried to revive it for several weeks, but all the cuttings were infected.

I'm going to the Netherlands in a few weeks and when making my list of things I'd like to bring back to the States I regretted once again that I couldn't bring the starfish. I searched for starfish on-line and found it at the Tucson Gardener, a store in Arizona.

The plants arrived yesterday, with a very nice letter from Dave, the owner, and the plants are healthy and strong. I've put them in water for the roots to develop.

Work NC

Study day: HTML 5

Today is a study day, and I'm reading up on HTML5. We do a lot of user interface development for my product, and I've always had a strong preference for industry standards above proprietary products such as Flex and SilverLight.

HTML5 has some cool features but the transition to the full spec in the industry will take a while. However, many aspects are already supported by major browsers. Incidentally Secha, a Javascript library we chose for my product at work two years ago, is making a major push into HTML 5/CSS3 and today released a new product to support their vision.

I'm reading "HTML5 for Web Designers" by Jeremy Keith, a great introduction. I'm at the car dealership today to get some major maintenance done. They're fixing the breaks, battery, the engine cooling system... a big job.


Dutch-Danish-German bread

I like to joke: "how can a country that put a man on the moon be so incapable of producing good bread?" An exaggeration, of course; there is plenty of good bread available if you know where to look, but in general Dutch bread is much better than American bread.

My yardstick is the bakery in Middenmeer: a small village bakery which creates amazing breads daily, like bakeries throughout the Netherlands.

This weekend I found a bread that is as good as the bread in Middenmeer: an honest whole-grain bread with seeds. Sure enough, it is produced in a German bakery (Guglehupf) and is called "Copenhagen multigrain".

I finished my French book today and in the afternoon visited Belen and Esteban. We went for a long walk in the late afternoon, just like yesterday.


Drupal 7 on OpenBSD: PDO extension required

I installed the second beta release of Drupal 7 on my OpenBSD server. Over-all, the beta looks very solid. This morning I spent some time testing and porting modules from version 6 to 7.

One thing I ran into is that Drupal 7 now requires PDO extension to be installed on your server. During the installation I saw this error message (I'm running OpenBSD 4.5):

"Your web server does not appear to support any common PDO database extensions. Check with your hosting provider to see if they support PDO (PHP Data Objects) and offer any databases that Drupal supports."

Here are the steps I took to install these PDO database extensions on my OpenBSD server:

As root, run this:


To complete the installation add the following two extension to your php.ini (for me, /var/www/conf/php.ini).

Restart Apache and you're good to go.


Lego building robot

Wired had a fun video today about a machine, made from Lego, that can build Lego objects.

"Here’s how the MakerLegoBot works: A feed system that’s about two-and-a-half feet tall and can hold about 35 bricks connects to the LegoBot. The object that the MakerLegoBot is to assemble is designed in MLCad, a modeling program. A Java app that runs on a PC takes the file from the MLCad software, determines a set of print instructions and sends those instructions over USB to the LegoBot.

The machine retrieves a brick from the feed system and places it in the exact location where it should be. It uses an axle-based release mechanism to leave the brick in place."


Cannonball Half Marathon, Greensboro, NC

This morning I ran the Cannonball Half Marathon in Greensboro, NC. It was my first half marathon in 18 months, and given my lack of training while we were traveling earlier this year, I wasn't sure how this would go.

I'm so happy with the result! My time was 2:06, only a few minutes short of my P.R. and I felt great. I really should do this more often.

In fact, I only decided on Thursday to sign up for this race. I hadn't ran since last weekend -- lots of obligations this week made running in the evening impossible -- and I decided to take advantage of this unplanned tapering.

Early in Greensboro

Greensboro is an hour driving due west of Durham, and I got up at 5.00 am to make it to the start line. The race was well organized, and I liked the fact that they had mile markers on every mile. It was great weather for a run -- at the start it was 45 degrees, two hours later about 58 degrees. After the race there was a band playing Blues Brothers music.

Negative splits

I really tried to control my pacing this race. Usually, I start a little too fast in the first two miles, for which I'd pay the price later on. I set myself the goal to finish within 2:15, which is pretty much a 10 minutes per mile, but with the understanding that if I felt strong half-way the race I could speed up. It has been 18 months since my last race, so I didn't want to start too fast.


Le Passe-Muraille

Statue in honor Le Passe-Muraille at Montmartre, Paris.Today I was at a French literature group in Chapel Hill. I found the group through, and a few weeks ago we received "Le Passe-Muraille" as a homework assignment. It's a short story by Parisian author Marcel Aymé about a man who can walk through walls.

We met at a coffee shop this afternoon and sat outside in a garden with beautiful weather and great coffee. There were 7 people and we spoke French for a full hour. It was great exercise and a lot of fun.

We walked the Al Buehler trail and had gyuveche for dinner.


Failed experiment

Chervil plants.Almost all my chervil plants died this week when I forgot to water them.

It is safe to say that growing herbs has been unsuccessful for me, and for the herbs.

Perhaps I'll find chervil soup when I'm in the Netherlands for a week at the end of November.


Beautiful fall weekend

The weather is wonderful this weekend; it's sunny and 82 degrees today.

After I went for a haircut I read my French book in the Eno River Park. My hair is short again, I enjoyed having it longer for about a year but it's been enough.

The book that I'm reading is L'Étranger by Albert Camus. It's the right level of difficulty but I can only read a few pages at the time because it's still tiring to read in French.

We're going for a walk soon.


Walking in hunting season

We had a good and productive weekend. Yesterday we went for a walk near Falls Lake, a little north of Durham. We had never been there before and it was beautiful, but we stopped early because of a sign that warned that we were now entering a hunting area. "Reflecting clothes are recommended." Hunting season has recently started. Until October 1st hunting was limited to the use of bow-and-arrow, now other weapons may be used as well.

We left and walked the safe and enjoyable Al Buehler trail instead.

Today I visited the International Festival in Raleigh to take pictures for the other website. In the afternoon we went for a walk together, the Al Buehler trail again. We also reorganized the 2nd bedroom/office and finally put away the luggage and boxes from New Jersey and Washington, DC. Now we have a usable office again.

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