June 2007


Greetings from the iLine Las Vegas version. We'll soon see what the iPhone is like.

Meeting people

Thursday evening I wrote from on-board a Southwest Airlines flight. I thought I'd spend the flight reading the excellent Pro Drupal Development book that I'd picked up earlier in the week. Instead I spent the flight talking with Paul Engemann, Larry King's brother-in-law, and the wife of a pilot on the way to support her husband's run in the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. The wide-ranging discussion covered everything from raising kids to traveling the globe and even multi-level marketing. While not as productive in the work-a-day-world sense the conversation was an enjoyable break.

Blogging on board

Tonight a quick trip back to Reno. The pilot just announced a delay while we wait for a connecting flight. We'll be sitting at the gate for 15 minutes. Since we didn't push back, however, I still have McCarran's wonderful free wireless connection right here in 11A. Nice.

A vote for sensibility

In a rare turn of events I'm actually going to recommend that people goto PETA's GoVeg.com website and vote in their poll. One of the contestants in their sexiest vegetarian celebrity poll is Carrie Underwood. Unlike many of the blogger-vegetarians who try to convince others at every turn that they have some great reason that everyone should convert to their views Underwood has a more reasonable approach. This is what she recently said:

"People think it's such a hard thing," she said, "but it's really not. It's just about substitution. I don't go preaching to people that 'Oh, you don't need to be eating meat' because I don't like people preaching to me, so I'm not gonna preach to them. Everybody else can eat whatever they feel like eating if that makes them happy, but there's several lines of food. I'm not gonna go through them all but it is a process, and I love my Whole Foods and I love my Wild Oats. I'm good with the things that I eat."

Undoubtedly she'll be kicked out of the vegetarian movement by an angry vegan who knows best. While we're on the topic of PETA and other hypocritical groups it is time to take a look at those who suggest vegetarianism is environmentally more sound than a traditional diet. The reality is that a balanced locally produced diet is far more environmentally sound than pumping carbon-dioxide into the air to move lettuce, rice and other foods around the globe.

Drupal login/cookie issue

I've been battling a pesky problem with Drupal where when a user logs in they get no error message but get a login page again. The short version is that the user's session from their "anonymous" browsing isn't cleared so they continue to get the login form again. The solution, or at least the workaround for a quick fix, seems to be adding this line to the settings.php file for the site: 

ini_set('session.cookie_domain', '.example.com');

This may well be related to a previous issue.

Study on water grab available for comment

A report to Congress titled "Water Resources of the Basin and Range Carbonate-Rock Aquifer System, White Pine County, Nevada, and Adjacent Areas in Nevada and Utah — Draft Report" released last weekend has some in Utah worried. Deseret News reports that the report raises concerns from Utah residents far from the Utah-Nevada state line about whether their area may be dried up by the thirst for uncontrolled growth in Las Vegas.

The report is available on the USGS Website as is a form for submitting public comment in the 60-day comment window starting June 1.

Costs of water grab pipeline mount

Marc Jensen, director of engineering for Southern Nevada Water Authority, told the Las Vegas Business Press this week that the costs of the pipeline are likely to be substantially higher than the agency has been telling the public.

[The pipeline's] $2 billion price-tag, meanwhile, is likely to be much higher once it breaks ground, Jensen admits, which could be as soon as 2010. "That was a figure first announced during a 2005 advisory planning meeting, but we've seen significant increases in concrete and steel and labor," Jensen added.

Jensen's comments come in an article about the agency's efforts to cut costs by using a design-build process for contracts in order to speed the construction of projects.

SOHO Organizer gets a paid update

Chronos the makers of SOHO Organizer have posted a paid upgrade to version 6. I spent time troubleshooting the last paid beta the company released over a year ago. Presently while I am not in the market I have to wonder at the fact that the Chronos technical support forums have been "discontinued". On January 26, 2006 Chronos had posted a policy that helped make the forums ineffective when customers, tired of delays, broken software and broken promises, took to posting comments that revealed the incomplete and broken nature of the software. Evidently sometime between January 2006 and mid-2007 the forums were taken down. One wonders if the reason for this was to help prevent would-be purchasers from discovering what past buyers thought of the money they'd spent.

The non-fixed APR

Credit card companies frequently are coming up with new ways to sucker customers. The beleaguered industry is certainly not without its benefits but the methods used by many companies are outright slimy. Consider the advertisement in the mail from Bank of America. The ad for Zero Balance tells how I can get an unsecured loan of "up to $50,000* at competitive non-variable rates."

There is not even one little footnote symbol next to the "non-variable rates" portion that is highlighted in yellow for would-be borrowers. What does a non-variable rate mean? Is it the fixed rate that many would commonly think it might be? Well, no. While there is no footnote indicator there is an explanation in the fine light gray print on the back it explains:

By "non-variable rates" we mean that the APR will not automatically vary with an index, such as the Prime Rate. We reserve the right to change your APR, fees, or other credit terms at our discretion.

So it turns out that "non-variable" means they aren't tied to a somewhat predictable index, the economy or any of the normal things that most outrageously priced credit cards are tied to. Instead Bank of America can decide, at their discretion, to increase your rate to the maximum the day after you sign up. In fact if you sign up with a 10% maximum APR the next day they can change it (changing the credit terms) to a low 33% APR.

Simplify with Dashalytics

It was a weekend for cleanup and getting data sorted. One tool which I'd let fall behind in updates is the excellent Dashboard widget Dashalytics. The widget makes it easy to keep an eye on one or several sites being tracked by Google Analytics.

In good news it looks like a cooler spell is coming. Breaking the 100-degree mark early in June is certainly not the norm, but by the end of the week Southern Nevada should be back in the double digits and Reno will be downright cool with its sub-70 degree highs.