White Mage - Drawn by Mahrkale

Friday Five!

From thefridayfive:

1. What is your favorite section of the newspaper?

News... paper? Is that like an analog blog?

Um, I guess local events are the most interesting to me, because I'm not likely to find local events on CNN or Huffington Post.

2. Sunday comics or weekday strips? Which comic is your favorite?

I've been known to read comics from time to time, mostly when I'm visiting the parents. I guess my favorite would be Dilbert.

3. Do you read your daily horoscope? Do you believe in it?

Haha, no and no. Just like CSI and cheetahs, horoscopes are for entertainment purposes, and not to be taken seriously.

4. Does the paper become bird cage lining, do you recycle, or does it get thrown in the trash?

For the occasional circular that I get sent at home, I keep those around for purposes of setting wet shoes on, setting food on if I'm eating in the living room, etc. That's very rare, though.

5. Where do you read the paper? At home, at work, or elsewhere?

Once again, I don't read paper. :-P I check news sites from home, work, and on my iPhone on the train. CNN has a very nice mobile site.

Is there anyone out there who actually reads a physical newspaper?
White Mage - Drawn by Mahrkale

Anthrocon 2011 site performance this morning

At 9 AM this morning, we opened up the hotel registrations for Anthrocon 2011. Here are the performance graphs, with annotations:

Network traffic graph (Annotated) Memory usage graph (Annotated)

Netstat (Annotated) CPU usage graph (Annotated)

The arrows point to the spikes at 9 AM when I made the changes to the site live. Here's a breakdown of those stats in more detail:
  • Bandwidth went from a weekly average of 326 kilobits/sec to just over 5 megabits/sec.

  • # of concurrent network connections went from ~41 to 350

  • CPU usage went from 45% of 1 core to roughly 200% of one core (we have 4 cores)

  • Memory usage was largely unaffected. Yay for an async I/O webserver!
So the site held up just fine to the onslaught of users.

One thing I could have done better was the deployment. At about 8:30 AM, I replaced www.anthrocon.org with a static HTML page with the status, and pointed another DNS name at our Drupal installation. Unfortunately, Drupal is a bit finicky with its $base_url variable, and I had to tweak that by hand, as well as tweak the webserver config by hand. I then went to our temporary URL, published the hotel pages, made sure everything was okay, and undid all of those changes to re-deploy the website. Unfortunately, I forgot to clear out the cache in Drupal, which meant some people did not see the new hotel page until as late as 9:02 AM. Okay, so it's only 2 minutes, but I felt that it was a silly mistake that shouldn't have happened.

Next year, I think I'll look into an "auto-publishing" system of some sort to automagically make the pages in question live at 9 AM. That should simplify things for me quite a bit, and maybe not even require me to actively do anything.

Other than these minor issues, the whole hotel thing went over pretty well this morning. I monitored Twitter for the next hour or so, and was able to Tweet status updates to everyone as things happened.

As of this writing, the Courtyard is completely sold out, and Doubles in the Westin are sold out. (but Kings are available) Rooms at the Doubletree are still available (along with suites!), as well at The Omni William Penn.

(X-posted to anthrocon)
White Mage - Drawn by Mahrkale

Delaware Furbowl 23 report and pictures

Last night, I went down to Delaware for the Delaware Furbowl, run by kitt3ns. It was my first one ever, and I rather enjoyed it!

Group Shot Kitt3ns speaks Jaga

What some folks might not know is that I spent a good deal of time in league bowling when I was younger. 17 years, in fact! So naturally, I was happy at the chance to be able to bowl again, as well as hang out with other furries! One thing that was very cool about this event was that there were a few lanes set aside for "serious bowlers". I camped out on those lanes, along with whitefeet, Greywolf, Delray(?), and a couple of other folks.

<-- Casual Bowlers | Serious Bowlers --> Kojac Racer in his white Crux fursuit Strike!

I bowled 3 games in total, and shot: 118, 158, 187.

The lanes were really dry, which caused our balls to hook rather sharply in the last 5 feet of the lane. Once I got used to this, I was able to start making more strikes and spares, and did better in each subsequent game. I could have broken 200 in the last game had I not choked in the 10th frame. :-P

Protocollie Taquoe Fursuiter bowling

I remember after the event, some of us went to Wawa for sandwiches. I was still wearing my tail, and a couple of non-furries pointed to me and yelled, "Hey! Chester Cheetah!" Man, everyone thinks I'm a cheetah.

Vega bowls An otter bowling Fursuiter bowling

I very much would like to attend future Furbowls, the big challenge for me is just securing transportation down there and back, since I do not currently own a car. Trains are less viable for me for this event, since having to lug a 16 pound bowling ball around on the train is not fun.

The rest of my photos can be found here, but I'll leave you all with this final group shot:

Group Shot
White Mage - Drawn by Mahrkale

Belated Midwest FurFest 2010 pictures and con report

I don't think I wrote about MidWest FurFest in too much detail yet, so I'll do that here.

I got to work in the Art Show for aureth this year. My responsibilities this time were mostly technical. I got to setup MySQL on their new server, and ended up dragging my laptop down to the art show so I could write code to generate reports on the Art Show sales. That was rather fun.

Fursuit Parade Wag Cheetah's Party

Otherwise, I spent a fair bit of time socializing and having fun with a number of folks at the con. The new hotel with its indoor atrium and nice big lobby lent itself well to that. I stopped by a some room parties that were generously hosted by seven001, justincheetah, Kasi Frost, and others.

Seven's Party At Duncan's Party Roadkill Hyena

Something unexpected happened at the con: I fursuited again! While foxlord was on the phone, I thought I would be silly and put on his fursuit paws. When he returned from his phonecall, he suggested I put on the head as well. And then this happened:

Grand Theft Fursuit

I ended up wearing the partial (named "Patch") a few nights at the con, and am very grateful to Foxlord for the loaner. I'm not sure if I'm up to wearing a full fursuit yet, but I think it's definitely worth putting on my list of "things to do".

Midwest FurFest Board Meeting Ford Shephard Fizz's mowhawk, now with LEDs

Other things of note that happened at the con was my involvement with the Fursuit Parade. I was milling around in con space waiting for it to start when takaza ran up to me and asked, "Are you working right now?" I replied in the negative, and he stated, "You are now! Come with me!" I ended up being stationed next to a set of double doors, and counted fursuits with a counting device as they came through. It was a great idea, because only 1-2 fursuiters could make it through the doorway at a time, and only in one direction. The total number of fursuiters was 413, by the way. Quite a turnout!

Fursuit Parade Fursuit Parade Single Speed Cheetah

Somewhere in there I ended up giving an interview for a video called Furries - An Inside Look. Since it's over half an hour long, I have yet to sit down and watch it. I'm hoping I didn't come off looking too dorky, since I don't have much experience speaking on camera. (Any tips would be appreciated!)

The Interviewers Seven bartends Uncle Kage gets interviewed

If there's one thing I'd do differently at next year's MWFF, I would try to attend more convention programming. I didn't get to do that much this year, between working and socializing with people.

Overall, MidWest FurFest was another successful convention. I have many good memories from that con, and can't wait to go back next year.

(The full set of my pictures are over here)
White Mage - Drawn by Mahrkale

New Year's Furry Ball 2010 report

Last night was the first time I attended the New Year's Furry Ball. And I had a blast!

Origami Gryphon and ??? Furry dance Kojac

Things that separated this from a typical New Year's Eve party:

- A dinner that was catered by the hotel, for all attendees
- A dance DJed by protocollie
- A lovely atrium that served as a great hangout spot, with a game of Rockband going on in one corner.
- Getting to see some friends from the region that I had not seen in awhile
- Hearing the song Shots ft. Lil Jon for the first time. Great party song! :-)

Clementine Finnish looks pissed Got salad?

Even though it was more of a party and less of a con, we did end up having to have small registration table, which is where I got to work. I was the guy with the shaved head checking IDs and taking money. The total turnout was somewhere around 150, and from the IDs I saw, we had people from places like Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and at least one person from Massachusetts!

Clementine and Vega Kale DJs Kale announces the winning ticket

While working at registration, several people asked me, "What does a sponsorship get?" My answer was: "Our undying gratitude".

5 people bought sponsorships on the spot for this reason alone. A 6th came back later and gave us another $15 to upgrade.

Loki and Nito Furry dance Kellogg Collie and ???

So, what was the takeaway from last night? protocollie and kitt3ns know how to throw one hell of a party!

For the eBay crowd, this translates to: "Excellent seller - I would totally back this person up in a knife fight"

(Want to see the rest of the pics? They're at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmuth/sets/72157625599053775/with/5314593510/)

X-Posted to nyfb and Pennsylvania Furries.
White Mage - Drawn by Mahrkale

Big Life Update: Work and Health

I've been kinda quiet here for the last month or so, and that's because, after my workplace got a visit from the FBI(!!) a few months back, I decided that was a sign it was time to move on. I had been there for 5 years (an eternity for a software engineer) and really felt like I was outgrowing the position. I wanted to move up in my career and into a position with more responsibility. So I spent a few weeks in November quietly doing job interviews, eventually found an employer that was a good fit, received an offer, and started work for them 2 weeks ago.

The new position has me working as the senior most engineer with a startup in Center City Philadelphia. In addition to actual programming, I also play the part of the sysadmin and get to be a one-man NOC. It's a big step up in responsibility, and with the corresponding pay raise I got at the new job, it's like a promotion of sorts. The company is still small, and only a month old, so I also have the chance to build something really cool as the company grows. It's the kind of challenge that attracted me to computer programming in the first place.

Yes, they're a Drupal shop, why do you ask? :-) Seriously, Drupal is a big piece of software, and I've learned even more about it in the last 2 weeks. This in turn means I do more neat things with the Drupal sites that I run. Everybody wins!

In health-related news, I finally got over to the Rothman Institute (which is like the Anthrocon of sports medicine) and got a diagnosis on my knee issues. And the diagnosis is: patellar tendinopathy, also known as chronic tendinitis. Here's my MRI:



It turns out that this wasn't brought on by exercise, but rather because the length of my patellar tendons are a few millimeters shorter than is normal. This predisposes me to issues with that tendon, and normally affects people when they get to be around my age. The rest of the knees are "perfectly healthy" according to my knee doctor, and this particular injury is treated with physical therapy. This would be different from the physical therapy I had in the spring, in terms of what muscles are exercised.

I asked the doctor if chondromalacia had anything to do with this. He explained to me that my problems were never chondromalacia. The previous issues I had were just warning signs of this. So I see more physical therapy in my future, and hopefully I can get the knees back to normal.