Friday, May 29, 2009

The Family Ancestory Project Continues!

So, today I got an email from my uncle Bob with some information that my uncle Garth collected about the Courtois family Ancestory. With that information I was able to find about 650 new ancestors of mine that are either directly linked to my ancestory, or are closely related to my ancestors.

On the Courtois side of my family I was able to go back as far as 14 generations, and I don't think my error rate was too far off based on the results I got previously that matched what my uncle found.

I really haven't figured out what to do with this new info yet, but between and GRAMPS I am able to collect some neat statistics. like people with the last name of Courtois make up 8% of my ancestry database and there are over 200 unique last names in my database.

anyway, just wanted to post a little update.

-- UPDATE --
here are the stats for my family tree project so far:
Number of individuals: 890
Males: 464
Females: 424
Individuals with unknown gender: 2
Individuals with incomplete names: 13
Individuals missing birth dates: 112
Disconnected individuals: 3

Family Information
Number of families: 237
Unique surnames: 236

Top Surnames
1. Courtois, 6% (61)
2. Moreau, 5% (45)
3. Gagnon, 3% (32)
4. Drouin, 3% (30)
5. Vezina, 3% (28)
6. Hebert, 3% (28)
7. Lepelle, 2% (19)
8. Cloutier, 2% (18)
9. Limousin, 1% (17)
10. Fontaine, 1% (17)




P.S. My sinus infection, which I don't think I've posted about, is just about gone!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Jet City Wifi... the state of CROWN

Well, I guess the topic of this post is heavily geared toward those of us who have had the pleasure of using CROWN City of Renton Outdoor Wireless Network... or the free wifi in Renton.  I've had plenty of fun trying to use this network... from when I lived on Burnett (both sides of the transit center) and when I lived on Wells, but I seem to try to use it more now that I don't actually live in Renton.  Let me tell you, try I do... and with a suprisingly low success rate. 

I have had times when it worked great near the transit center, and it always seems to work when you are in the library.  However, it never seems to work in the places that people actually try to use it.  Like the bleachers of the baseball diamond in Liberty park, Jet City Espresso, Liberty Cafe, or any of the public parking lots... Remember, it's only hazardous if I am looking at the computer while War Driving!  Plus, most of the time I just pick a random parking lot and stop... anyway.

Plus, another thing just dawned on me.  Marymoor Park and Kirkland's wifi networks both work awesome!  What is the difference between the Marymoor, Kirkland, and Renton wifi networks? 

So, I went over to this W2i Wireless Government Report where I didn't find my answer, but discovered that CROWN was originally a Washington Crime Information Center (WACIC) network that is supposed to cover 80% of the city, and the city of Renton has discussed the possibility of charging a city wide access fee as part of the City Utilities.  A little bit of a side track, however it lead me to understand that CROWN simply used surplus equipment that that state was not using th piece together the network.  They then only offer surplus bandwidth to the community.  Plus, when I look at the service area map, it implies that city employees (for whom the network is intended) apparently have special hardware in their vehicles that extend their network reception.  This is probably nothing more than an amplified antenna connected to either an external antenna port for their machines, or an access point in bridge mode that they can use to connect via their own private hot spot or Ethernet cable. 

As far as the kirkland network goes, The coverage is focused on two parks strategically placed on either end of down town.  I guess this makes sense considering more of the businesses in Kirkland offer their own Wifi networks.  Meaning that while you don't get a seamless connection covering the entire downtown area, you have a series of networks that offer access to those who are willing to stay in one place while they surf the web.  It gets the job done, it's cheaper for the city, and it gets the job done; however it externalizes the cost of the network to the local businesses, and does not allow a user to move across town while using a single Internet connection.  While this doesn't matter for most uses, many secure connections will close when the user disconnects from one wireless network and connects to the next network, and it creates small periods of time where the user has "no connection" because they are establishing a new connection.

Marymoor park has the best setup.  170 acres of one continuous wifi access point!  (and a dog park for Jaani!)  both of us win with this one.  I guess the only bad part is that Marymoor is such a beautiful park it is nearly impossible to justify connecting to the network.  However the lack of trees in most of the park creates an optimum environment for an outdoor network (allowing close to 700 feet between access points.) 

I guess the downfall is that while Renton has a very ambitious plan for their wireless network, the scale of the network makes it very difficult and expensive to provide seamless coverage.  Renton's network has large amounts of interference trees and buildings, and the city employees require special equipment to get access throughout the city; even then, to get the 80% coverage claim line of sight to the access point is required even with the special equipment.

FYI. As far as downtown Renton is concerned, the three Wifi access points are at City Hall, the Library, and the Transit Center.  for the most part, if you are not at one of those locations, the city will only guarantee access with "laptop in equipped car & laptop only if they have line-of-site."

The city of Renton has a coverage map that shows the coverage area, and while they were able color in most of the city, the most prominent color represents areas that provide "coverage for laptop in equipped car is they have line-of-site."

So... most people in downtown Renton can get coverage from the wifi network if they have line of site to the transit center, the city hall, or the library.  Which leaves a lot of people out of the loop.

So... that's a really long post, and I will leave with that.



Thursday, May 21, 2009

Onion News Network... how wonderful it can be!

So, I was watching this video on and I decided to post it up here.  It makes fun of how everyone has a camera, and they all take the same pictures and videos at parties...  The best part is when they get to the point when they talk about the fire and everyone calls the fire department, tweets that they are fleeing a burning video, and posted pictures of themselves running down the stair ways.

Anyway... check it out, it's awesome!



TED Talks Rock!

So, if you still haven't heard of The TED Conference then it's time you go to, which is the home page for the Technology, Entertainment, and Design Conference.  The site has all sorts of talks from all kinds of leading authorities in economics, technology, philanthropy, medicine... I can't even think of how many categories the TED talks cover.  However, I do recognize that this site is an awesome source of information on the direction that many people are trying to steer the world.

Anyway, go over to and check out some of the videos that are up on the site.  Sign up for a free account, and rate some of the videos.  You might be inspired.



Monday, May 18, 2009

About this Wolfram Alpha thing.

So, have you ever wondered where the Google GeoEye 1 satellite is?  I have... and now, Wolfram Alpha can tell me th real time position!  Click here to see. I think this Wolfram Alfa thing is pretty cool if you happen to want to know a bunch of statistical data about a data set, or you want to quickly graph a fractal, or you just want something about the stuff listed on this page. I think it's really neat.

Wolfram Alpha isn't a search engine.  It's a computational knowledge engine.  I don't see it replacing Google for everything, however it is supplement to Google.  The main reason is because it has a strict syntax... you can't just type in whatever is on your mind, but if you want to know the median wage of a Software Engineer... well, it can give you a quick answer, and it even gives you an option to save the results as a PDF.

So, if there is something you want to know, head on over to Wolfram Alpha and just try typing it in.  You may just be surprised what you can find.



google squared has a limit...

So, just in case anyone cares... if you go over to, it lets you square any number with an absolute value that is less than or equal to 13,407,807,929,942,596,355,291,171,319,504,390,204,971,786,543,275,750,199,594,808,099,908,070,301,827,583,015,827,243,270,047,429,941,670,395,927,292,594,916,632,931,757,995,380,366,007,001,581,304,676,351 

this is also about 13 quinquagintillion... 13 followed by 153 zeros...

that's a pretty big number... however, when you square that number you get
1.7976931348623155 X 10308... which is 1 followed by 308 zeros... or 179,769 centillion... I'm not exactly sure what comes after centillion... but it's also very big.

So, that is the kind of number google can calculate.  and I have to say that is one hell of a calculator...


Saturday, May 16, 2009

A new and... well, not so exciting web cam!

So, I admit that it isn't the most exciting thing to have a webcam pointing at, but I recently set up a webcam to point at my kill-a-watt and take hourly pictures of it, as well as a daily snapshot for me to use in keeping my daily power usage chart current.  Which by the way, all the charts that I put on my blog do change over time as I put more info into my spreadsheets... FYI.

So, now you can watch my power usage go up over time!  (refreshing the page every minute will refresh this picture to the most current... but only when my webcam is actually up...) 

So, that being said.  I have a sunburn... not a bad one, but my arms and part of my face are red... and just mildly soar... which means I won't sleep well tonight because I got too much sun.

The other thing I did this weekend is I went over to Norm's, and had the pieces for the backrest on my couch made... which means my couch will actually be comfortable now!  who would have thought that actually having all the supports in you couch would make such a difference.

Ok... that's all for now.  I just wanted to have a quick weekend update on what I'm up to...



Friday, May 15, 2009

Even more on my daily power usage data...

So, I've been combining my daily power data with the readings from my kill-a-watt to determine how much of an effect my entertainment center has on my total power bill.  So, as you can see from this chart, the My Meter entry, which is measuring power used by my entertainment center is consistent at about 2.8 Kilo-Watt Hours per day, however, you can see that yesterday on Wednesday there was a spike in my power consumption.  This may be related to a drop in temperature that caused me to turn my thermostat up a little, however I still seem to be well below my average for last month.

I'm not exactly sure what caused the spike in power usage, but what ever it was, I'm working on a way to figure it out soon.



Monday, May 11, 2009

More about my power usage data.

Here is a chart of my April power usage data, at least as much of it as I could get from PSE.  For some reason they don't have any data for me before April 7th, even though they started billing me on March 28th.


I was trying to figure out why my power usage on Sunday was so much higher than the rest of my power usage, and then after looking at the data from just Sundays, it turns out my power usage isn't actually up on ALL Sundays, but it was just one Sunday that I was using over twice the amount of Electricity that I normally use.

So, I thought I would check out my webcam footage (because I make time-lapse videos of everything on my webcam... and I found out that on that particular Sunday (April 12th...)  My webcam was down.  In fact, with the exception of April 2nd, my webcam was down from March 27th - April 15th.  So, I don't have any videos to review concerning what I was doing to use all that power... but I did go back and read my blog entry, and it jogged my memory (even though the blog has nothing to do with what I think I was doing), but I think that on that particular Sunday, I was using my soldering iron in my office working on my Tweet-A-watt.

This seems kind of ironic, because the the process of making a device to meter my electricity, was actually causing my power usage to double!  Anyway.  I think that of all the things I do to use electricity, this means that soldering is the most resource intensive.

So, that's what was on my mind right now.



Friday, May 8, 2009

Daily power usage statistics!

So, in my never ending quest to figure out how much power I am using, I came up with this graph... thanks to the kind web developers at Puget Sound Energy (PSE) for creating an online page for analyzing my power usage!  Now all they need is to install smart meters and put that data up!  However, I will live with what I've got.

Anyway... the idea here is that I can get data based on which days I use the most power!  And the plus side is that I can put my daily power usage into a spreadsheet on Google Documents, and then publish this nice little chart (so when the data changes, the chart changes too!)

What I found out right away is that I use WAY more power on Sundays than any other day of the week.  Which to me makes a lot of sense because I am usually home for at least most of the day on Sundays.

BTW, that spike on Wednesday is because one day I was sick on a Wednesday, so I stayed home and cranked up the heater to get better, and I believe the Monday and Tuesday before that were extra cold, and I hadn't fixed my door wall yet (which a screw came out of the sheet metal around the glass part of the door, so there was this  2" gap letting cold air in... I fixed it while I was home sick on Wednesday of that week...)  so my electricity usage was up that day.  Other than that, this data really only tracks my total power usage for April of this year, which isn't really too useful to me yet.  Once I start combining data from my Tweet-A-Watt with this data, then I'll be able to accurately determine exactly how much power my Entertainment system uses per day, compared to the total power used by my entire apartment.  Once I track down what I can measure, then I can estimate the things that I can't (like my water heater, refrigerator, oven/stove, dish washer,  washing machine, dryer, and heaters.

Although I'm pretty sure once the weather starts getting better, I'll be able to get a base line for my heater's cost and power usage.
One final note, according to PSE, my annual costs are about 1/3 of the average home of similar size in my area.  Which I think means I'm doing something right... considering I currently have 4 computers that I use all the time (one of which is on 24/7.)

anyway... there's an update for now.



Thursday, May 7, 2009

A little perspective as to where I live.

So, I found this picture here on Panorama , and though man, that's a beautiful picture... and then I though, hey, I spend the majority of my time in that picture!

So, I located about where my house was... and the exact building I work in (the building kind of stand out when you know what you're looking for...) and then I figured that big field has to be Marrymoor park (location of a dog park, amphitheater, velodrome, climbing wall, many sports fields, remote-controlled airplane area, miscellaneous empty fields, trails, and wildlife preserve... I think there is more too that I'm forgetting)  However, the area between those three arrows is not much larger than 7 or 8 square miles, and it includes everything I need (including the best brewery in Washington!)

And on a clear day, you can see Mt Rainier and Mt Baker from on top of the hill where my house is at... which I admit in this picture makes it look like a pretty small hill, but it is still considerable in size when you're riding your bike.

So, there you have it, now you can see the general area around my home, and you can see the entire trip that I make to work and to the dog park.  Another kind of neat thing is that the building that we will be moving to one day is off along the right side of the picture just next to Marrymoor park.

There you have it folks!  That is Redmond Washington for you.

That is all.



You mean someone still has a land line?

Why do we even still have land lines?  I understand that once upon a time that was the only way to go, but come on now.  With personal cellular networks, you can use internet access to improve cell phone reception in areas that get poor reception from your primary service provider... but I think it's about time to start getting rid of the old fashion land lines.  I mean, I haven't had a land line in 3 years... and I don't think I've used a home land line in 5 years... anyway... food for thought.

FYI: I am part of the 41% statistic!  Take that other age groups!



Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Energy Auditing Video!

So, I found this video over on the Make Magazine blog (read the original article on Energy Audits) , and it is pretty cool.  Did you know that you probably already pay for the utility companies to come and perform an energy audit of your home?  That's right, a small portion of the bills you already pay every month is set aside for you to have an energy audit.  Look at your bill and ask for an energy audit.  They will put this blower over your door that will suck air out of the home.  Then you can go around and feel where the drafty areas are.

FYI, has information about DIY audits!

The first step to being more efficient is knowing where energy is wasted!



Here is another video I found... which is actually a BASF advertisement... but still.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jaani was put away...

So, after my little experiment to see if Jaani would be ok by himself in the house, I found out that he failed.

So, he will remain in the cage.

On the other hand, I know Jaani likes to do his business at about 10:22AM if given the choice... about 2 hours after breakfast.

anyway, that's all for now.



Release Jaani!

So, Jaani has been so good around the house, that I decided I would release him while I was at work today, but it seems that I have spoke too soon.  As I just watched Jaani poop in the middle of my living room.


I guess Jaani failed, and I have to go home at lunch to clean it up.  I guess Jaani doesn't get to roam the house.  too bad, I thought he was enjoying himself too.

Oh well... until next time.



Monday, May 4, 2009

my webcam is sort of up...

So, silly me, I rebooted my computer remotely, and my home router must have changed the IP address... in other words, I can't connect remotely to start my webcam server.  I guess I forgot to set a static IP address for my laptop.  Anyway, I'll fix it when I get home... but for the time being, you can just look at a picture from my apartment from about 9:30AM this morning.