Watercolor Portraits

watercolor portrait of my nieces

This is a painting of my nieces, Liori and Ariela, at about 3 years old. I love painting people portraits.

Tashi the hunter

Tashi the hunter A very nice lady hired me to paint Tashi for her daughter who lives in San Diego with Tashi. The mother was thrilled when she saw the finished portrait. They call him, Tashi the hunter and he is a handsome cat.

Connecting to a Crashplan instance in the Cloud

Crashplan is a great "free" utility to automate the backing up of all your systems. I have been using it for almost a year to backup all my computers including my cloud instances.

I had to perform some maintenance on one of my cloud computers and forgot how to connect the admin tool to it. Below I'm outlining the steps so I won't forget again.

* Create a ssh tunnel to the machine

ssh -L 4200:localhost:4243 host

* Updated local CrashPlanDesktop to use port 4200

vi /usr/local/crashplan/conf/ui.properties (change port to 4200)

* Run CrashPlanDesktop

/usr/local/bin/CrashPlanDesktop

* Don't forget to revert the changes to the configuration file

vi /usr/local/crashplan/conf/ui.properties (change port back to 4243)

Empty Postfix Mail Queue

Had an issue today where a bug sent over 20,000 messages into my postfix mail queue. Google then started "rate" limiting me as this issue was basically a DOS attack on my mail box. After some research, I found a couple ways to empty the postfix mail queue.

If you only want to purge the queue of email from use user, as root try:

mailq | tail +2 | grep -v '^ *(' | awk 'BEGIN { RS = "" } { if ($8 == "user@example.com" && $9 == "") print $1 } ' | tr -d '*!' | postsuper -d -

To purge the entire queue:

postsuper -d ALL

Keeping An Artist Journal

I am looking forward to teaching a fun art class through Leisure Learning in Houston.

Keeping An Artist Journal — An Introduction

If you have the desire to draw, this may be the perfect place to start. Keeping an artist journal can be a fun and relaxing way for novices and experienced artists to record the world. Using different mediums, draw things you see (sleeping pets, travel scenes, trees and plants, people, food, architecture, etc.). All you need is a pencil and paper. Basic drawing exercises will get you past the fear of the white paper. The class is 2 hours and is offered on 2 separate days.
location: 2990 Richmond Avenue

$35(all supplies included)

T1225A: 1 Tues 7-9pm Jul 20

T1225B: 1 Sat 2-4pm Sep 25

My class is listed under the Drawing & Painting section of the current Leisure Learning magazine and you can also register online at www.llu.com under the Drawing and Painting section.

Zeke, the beloved dog

Zeke Zeke is an absolutely beautiful dog. I recently completed this for a client in Philadelphia. I hope she loves this as much as I enjoyed painting Zeke. Zeke passed away from cancer and he will always be very loved.

Two Feet Of Snow


Looks like we got two feet of snow this week.

Bulletproof Web Design

Bulletproof Web Design -- Improving flexibility and protecting against worst-case scenarios with XHTML and CSS by Dan Cederholm

Let me start off by saying I'm a programmer, not a designer. Before reading Bulletproof Web Design, I had a basic understanding of just enough CSS structure and concepts to get by. This approach lead to very inefficient markup that was hard to read and maintain. What I was missing was a deeper understanding as to when to use the different constructs and why. I found this and much more in this book.

Dan Cederholm used a brilliant format in Bulletproof Web Design. Each chapter takes a single concept illustrated by an example site that employees a traditional "unbulletproof" approach and explains the pitfalls of the traditional methods. He then deconstructs the page and rebuilds it step-by-step using semantic XHTML and CSS. The books step-by-step approach of modifying only a couple lines of CSS and explaining the results make the book a quick, yet informative read.

The book starts by explaining why and how to design your site for flexible text sizes. He uses this as the driving point for the rest of the book. How to make your navigation, tables, tabs, lists, widget boxes, rounded corners, and layouts flexible. How to design your site to be valuable to users who either can not or choose not to use images and / or style sheets. The book ends with the step-by-step approach of creating a page that ties every concept together.

Reading the book has made me feel much more confident in my CSS usage. I have already seen the payoff as I have used the methodologies in the book to both design new widgets and to refactor existing code. I feel lucky to have stumbled upon it and am looking forward to reading his sequel book, Handcrafted CSS -- More Bulletproof Web Design.

ActiveRecord object caching in Ruby on Rails

Yesterday I started playing with basic caching for PriceChirp and tried what I thought would be easy. Boy was I wrong. It turns out what I was attempting to do is not supported by :memory_store in the development environment. Before moving to :mem_cache_store, I was able to find a work around. The work around is outlined below for those who do not have the option of using memcached. However, if you can use memcached, it is by far the better route to take.

My goal was to cut down on the number of database hit by caching the resultant ActiveRecord object in :memory_store.

A Peaceful Pet Grand Opening


A Peaceful Pet is a new concept in the art of animal love. Owner, Sandy Stutz, is a visual artist, National Certified Master Groomer, and a meditation teacher. She brings all of this under one roof. A unique concept in business, a grooming salon for cats and small dogs combined with a boutique, also featuring a gallery of original, environmentally friendly artwork related to animals. Please join me as well as the artists, Deborah Bright and STUTZ, during our reception and grand opening. Refreshments will be served.

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