Moving to Ohio

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Mar 242013
 

If you haven’t heard by now, I’m leaving Oregon State University.  After 13 years at the Oregon State University Libraries, my family and I are pulling up stakes and heading to Columbus, Ohio to take the position of Head, Digital Initiatives at The Ohio State University Libraries. 

It has been a fantastic 13 years, filled with great friends, interesting stories and lots of opportunities.  These last few days have been hard saying my goodbyes and cleaning my office for the last time. 

But I am moving on.  As of April 1st, I’ll be in Columbus for my first day at The Ohio State University.  Its a big move, a little scary move – but an exciting move.  And more importantly, it’s probably the right time to make this move.  So if you try and contact me and it takes me a little longer to get back to you – I apologize as things are a bit hectic right now.

–tr

Apr 252012
 

One of the hats I wear is as a member of the Independence Library Board.  I love it because I don’t work with public libraries as often as I’d like to in my real job, and honestly, the Independence Public Library is the center of the community.  The Library is a center for adults looking for education opportunities, kids looking for resources, and home to a number of talented librarians that are dedicated to encouraging a love of reading to our community.  It’s one of the few libraries I’ve ever known to have both a children’s and adult reading programs and takes advantage of that in the summer – by having the adults and kids compete against each other to see who logs the most pages (the kids always win). 

Each board meeting is interesting, because as the economy became more difficult for people, more people turned to the library.  Every month, the library sees more circulations, more bodies in the building, more kids, more adults – just more.  And they do it on a budget that doesn’t accurately reflect the impact that they have on the community. 

Anyway, one of the things that the Library has going for it is a very active friends program – and through that group (and some grant funds), the library was able to purchase a number of Laptop computers for circulation within the Library.  The Library currently has some, 8-10 terminals that are always being used and the laptops would provide additional seats, and allow people to work anywhere within the library using the wifi.

The Library setup the laptops using the usual software – DeepFreeze, etc. to provide a fairly locked down environment.  However, what was missing was a customizable timer on the machines.  Essentially, the staff was looking for a way to make it easier for patrons checking out the laptops to avoid fines.  The Laptops circulate for a finite period of time within the building.  Once that time is over, the clock starts ticking for fines.  To avoid confusion, and help make it easier for patrons to know when the clock was running out – I’d offered to work on building a simplified timer/kiosk program. 

The impetus for this work comes from Access 2007 I think.  I had attended the hackfest before the conference and one of the project ideas was an open source timing program.  I had worked on and developed a proof of concept that I passed on.  And while I never worked on the code since – I kept a copy myself.  When we were talking about things that would be helpful, I was reminded of this work. 

Now, unfortunately, I couldn’t use much of the old project at all.  The needs were slightly different – but it helped me have a place to start so that I wasn’t just looking at a blank screen.  So, with idea in hand, I decided to see how much time it would take to whip together an application that could meet the needs. 

I’ll admit, nights like tonight make me happy that I still do more than write code in scripting languages like python and ruby.  Taking about 3 hours, I put together a feature complete application that meets our specific needs.  I’ll be at the Oregon Library Association meeting this week, and if folks find this kind of work interesting, I’ll make it a bit more generic and post the source for anyone that wants to tinker with it.

So what does it do?  It’s pretty simple.  Basically, it’s an application that keeps time for the user and provides some built-in kiosk functionality to prevent the application was being disabled. 

Here are a few of the screen shots:

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When the program is running, you see the clock situated in the task tray

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Click on the icon, and see the program menu

Preferences – password protected

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Because we have a large Hispanic population, all the strings will need be able to be translated.  This was essentially is just the locked message.  I’ll ensure the others are customizable as well – maybe with an option to just use Google Translate (even though it far, far from perfect) if a need to just get the gist across is the most important.

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Run an action (both functions require a password)

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Place your cursor over the icon to get the minutes

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Information box letting you know you are running out of time

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Sample lockout screen

In order to run any of the functions, you must authenticate yourself.  In order to disable the lockout screen, you must authenticate yourself.  What’s more, while the program is running, it creates a low-level keyboard hook to capture and pre-process all keystrokes, disabling things like escape keys, the windows key, ctrl+alt+del so that once this screen comes up – a user can not break out of it without shutting off the computer (which would result in needing to log in).  Coupled with DeepFreeze and some group policy settings, my guess is that this will suffice.

The source code itself is a few thousand lines of code, with maybe a 1000 or 1500 lines of actual business logic and the remainder around the UI/threading components.  Short and simple.

Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to do a little testing and get some feedback later this week – but for now – I’m just happy that maybe I can give a little bit back to the community library that gives so much to my family.  And if I hear from anyone that this might be of interest outside my library – I’ll certainly post the code up to github.

–TR

 Posted by at 12:48 am
Oct 252011
 

For those of you that don’t have kids dragging you to most cartoons released in the theatre, this is a picture of Toothless, from the movie How to train your dragon.  Toothless is what they call, a NightFury.  Anyway – here’s a picture of the dragon from the movie:

 

And here is our recreation on the pumpkin:

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So, that’s two pumpkins down – three to go.  Though, the last three get really complicated, so I likely won’t be carving them until Friday or Saturday so that they will last till Halloween.

 

–TR

 Posted by at 9:07 pm

2011 Jack-o-lantern #1

 Family  Comments Off
Oct 242011
 

Around Halloween, the pumpkin carving usually begins in earnest.  Today, I completed the first of our 5 pumpkins.  This one is mine – and I decided to go with the OSU Beaver in honor of the whooping the football team put on Washington State this last weekend.  Hopefully it will display proudly through next weekend when we play Utah.

–TR

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 Posted by at 11:28 pm

Civil War hair

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Dec 042010
 

While my team didn’t win the civil war, I’ve had a good time this year dyeing my hair various shades of orange.  For the civil war, I decided to go with more of an ‘80’s style.  This was after the game with the family.

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 Posted by at 10:25 pm
Oct 302010
 

As usual, I set aside 4-5 hours to work on the family pumpkins.  This year, I think that we came up with a good crop.  Nathan and Kenny decided they wanted Mario characters, I decided to take Puss from Shrek 2 and Alyce picked David Tennant, our favorite Dr. from the new Dr. Who series.  So here were go:

Nathan’s pumpkin (Bowser from Super Mario):

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Kenny’s pumpkin (Boo from Super Mario): 

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Here’s My pumpkin, Puss from Shrek 2:

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And my wife’s pumpkin, Dr. Who and the Tardis.  I’m really proud of this one.  The picture really doesn’t do it justice. 

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As you might be able to tell, we love the Halloween festivities here at my house.  But I guess that’s because at heart, I’m just a big kid.  Smile

 

–TR

What I did this week

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Aug 262010
 

So, with the summer winding down, I decided to take the family for a bit of a vacation – and then took a vacation day on my own with my dad.  Here’s a few pictures of the adventures.

Travelling with the family

Because of my injury this summer, my wife and I have been taking the kids all over Oregon to do a little hiking and exploring some of the real treasures in the state.  This week, we decided to go an look at a few things that you cannot find anywhere but in Oregon – the John Day Fossil Beds and the Painted Hills. 

The John Day Fossil Beds are an incredible treasure in the state.  Its is one of the few places in the world (maybe the only place in the world) that contains fossils from 4 continues eras from around 65 MA – 5 MA.  Because of this, the research done at John Day is often used to check and correlate research done elsewhere in the world.  Aside from being unique – it is incredibly beautiful.  The layers in the rocks represent different eras of lava flow or ash flows.  This creates incredible blues, reds, yellows and greens.  What’s more, fossils basically are just laying on the ground.  Scratch the surface of the ground and you’ll find fossils of plants that haven’t existed in Oregon for millions of years. 

Within the Fossil beds are what are called the painted hills.  These represent some of the oldest geographic layers and are simply brilliant.   Here’s a few pictures:

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Picture in the Blue Basin

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Research office in the Visitors Center where you can watch them studying collected fossils.

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Painted Hills

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Painted Hills

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Clarno Unit Palisades (Petrified Forest)

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Boys finding fossils in Fossil, OR

My mini Vacation – Climbing South Sister

After driving all over eastern Oregon, my wife dropped me off in Bend, Oregon, so I could hitch a ride with my dad to South Sister.  The South Sister is the 3rd highest peak in Oregon at 10,300+ ft.  The trail to the top is non-technical, but difficult.  From the trail head, climbers gain nearly 6000 ft climbing up sharp, and loose volcanic rock.  

Leaving at a little after 7 am this morning, my Dad and I managed to grind our way up the hill in about 4-4 1/2 hours.  And our reward for all the work – nearly 60 mph winds at the top of the mountain that literately nearly blew me off the peak.  So, we decided not to spend much time at the top of the mountain, but did manage to get some great pictures before retreating to a safer area. 

The way down the hill was tricky.  While we were climbing, we didn’t think anything of the loose rocks.  But on the way down, they made coming down a bit more difficult.  Even more so for me since my right arm isn’t anywhere close to 100%.  Fortunately, we made it through the loose stuff, then ran down the rest of the hill.  So coming off the mountain only took about 2 hours, jogging at a brisk pace.  Here are a few of the pictures from the top:

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Looking south

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Devils Lake (I think)

We were actually really fortunate that we got up and down the mountain when we did.  After getting to the bottom of the trail, we looked up and the top of the mountain was completely covered with clouds.  On Sisters, that’s not a good thing.  Even though the freezing level was likely around 14,000 ft today, it was very likely that anyone still on the mountain had to deal with higher winds, freezing rain and some real nasty weather.  So we really lucked out.

–TR

 Posted by at 9:11 pm
Oct 262009
 

As the habit here at my house, the boys and I finally got our jack-o-lanterns finished for this year.  Well, mostly finished.  I still need to make one for work – but I got the important ones finished. 

The boys really look forward to our pumpkin carving nights.  We spend a good deal of time planning and picking out just the right pumpkins.  This year, we picked our pumpkins from a local Pumpkin Patch – a wheelbarrel full.  Kenny picked the biggest, a 45 lb beast of a pumpkin, while Nathan picked 3 white pumpkins.  We had one more at home – so that’s what we were carving tonight.

At the pumpkin patch, they had a lot of the fun stuff.  A corn maze, hay rides, some hay pyramids, etc.  When we were in the corn maze, I tried to convince them that we had to hurry because of the corn zombies – but I don’t think anyone believed me.  They were too cool for that.  Of course, there are some scary corn mazes around our area that I’ve taken people too while in college that reduced many a man to tears (which is funny) – but I doubt the boys are ready for that (or me ready for spending time up because of the nightmares.)

Anyway, our new pumpkins.  We carved 3 from 5 pumpkins.  One is the Jolly Rogers, one Aang, from Avatar the Last Air Bender and 3 to make up our jack-o-lantern pumpkin (this was what Nathan wanted).  So here they are:

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This one is Aang, the Last Air Bender

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This is the glowing Aang

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–TR

 Posted by at 11:39 pm

Kenny’s 8th Birthday

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Aug 012009
 

On Aug. 1st, 2001 at 11:29 pm, my wife and I welcomed Kenneth Terry Reese to the world,

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and from that day forward, he’s added nothing but joy to our lives.  And from the moment I saw him, I fell in love with him. 

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The funny thing about kids, especially your first child, is that they open up an entire new world to you.  We go through life at such a fast pace, living life and missing many of the little things that are going on around us.  However, with kids, that can all change.  Kenny has brought a number of things into our lives, but the thing that I am always surprised by is the excitement that comes from seeing the world through the eyes of a child.

From a first trip to the beach to play in the surf (this is one of my favorite pictures)

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having his first birthday cake

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or riding your first bike

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the world is full of amazing things happening around us all the time – but as we get older, they lose their luster.  When people tell you that having children will make you young again, this is what they mean.  Having Kenny come into our lives brought with it a number of changes – some expected, some unexpected.  Suddenly, you go from being a young married couple with no responsibilities but to those of your spouse to having a tiny little person who depends on you for everything.  Everything changes…your marriage changes, relationships with friends change, how I drove certainly changed and if you are lucky, how you see the world changes.  It’s both an amazing and terrifying experience all at the same time.  And to those that would ask, I wouldn’t change a thing. 

 

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(He still has his black kitty)

I have had the extraordinary privilege to watch my baby growing into a young boy

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and have seen him become more confident, adventurous and outgoing every year.  He flourishes in school, is naturally curious and has always accepted that Nathan (his younger brother) idolizes him, and that there is a responsibility that comes with that. 

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It’s been an amazing eight years…eight years that have come and gone way too quickly.  But no matter how big he gets, I’ll always be able to remember him as my little boy.

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Happy birthday Kenny,

Your Daddy

 Posted by at 11:29 pm
Jul 262009
 

Wed., the boys had their last track meet of the season.  Well, officially, Kenny had his last track meet of the season.   Nathan isn’t technically in track, but they have an open 4 and under division that we let him pick 3 events to participate in.  Of course, that means that Alyce and I get as much exercise as the boys since we have to shuttle them from event to event.

Nathan decided to do the same events as Kenny, so a lot of times, they got to watch each other do their specific events, which were the 50m, the long jump and the Frisbee throw (I guess, that would be like the discus in real track).  I have to admit, I enjoy watching the boys participate in track because I remember what it was like to do many of these events myself.  When I was in high school, I would have participated in the decathlon if they would have had it – but they didn’t in our area – so I often did a wide variety of events.  But the one’s that I had the most success in were the sprints (100 and 200) and the jumps (Long Jump and Triple Jump).  The triple jump was always my favorite, but I was a fair long jumper (over 20 ft) – so I’ve been having a good time working with Kenny this year trying to teach him some simple techniques to help him move from simple stepping into the pit to actually jumping into the pit.

So how did they do?  Well, they came home with a cornucopia of ribbons.  Kenny finished first in the Frisbee throw, 3rd in the 50 m and 6th in the long jump.  However, in the long jump, Kenny really made a lot of progress.  He PR’d during the meet (7’ 8?) and seems to be getting a much better grasp of how you jump into the pit.  Over the last two meets, he’s made a lot of progress – so I’m excited to see how he does next year. 

Nathan on the other hand, finished 6th (which he as really happy about because it was a yellow ribbon) in the Frisbee throw, 2nd in the 50 m and a participants ribbon in the long jump. 

The best part was that they both had a really good time at the meet and unlike the weather predictions, the temperature stayed in the low 80’s (rather than near 100 like advertised) so we all didn’t swelter in the heat. 

The meet also gave me a chance to try out the YouTube integration on my Google Phone.  I uploaded short snippets of each of the boys doing each of their events on my phone and was able to upload them directly to YouTube.  They turned out ok…I’ve posted them below:

Kenny’s Events:

Frisbee Throw

Long Jump

50 m

Nathan’s Events:

Frisbee Throw

Long Jump

50 m

 

–TR

 Posted by at 6:22 pm