Using the the wireless network at the Concord Public Library

Today was my first experience using the wireless network since the library has reopened. I didn't ask anyone for instructions and just assumed I'd figure it out knowing that at least Windows XP would scan for available SSID network ids. Using my little WiFi Finder I discovered that the Periodical Room had the strongest signal at full strength, and the study in the corner beyond the Emerson statue had good reception but less than the periodical room. In the remainder of the library I could not detect a signal at all, including the Thoreau Room and the Rotunda. I chose to read in the study since I was looking for the quietest area and there are several walled desks lined up across the wall to limit visual distractions.

I'll spare you the detailed description with getting on the wireless network, but here's a few hightlights:


Bad Review for SmartDisk FireLite portable external hard drives

Last year I purchased a very portable external hard drive, the SmartDisk FireLite 40 GB USB model. Over the course of the year I used it somewhat regularly, perhaps maybe a couple dozen times. Up until this past fall I was satisified with it, so much so that I ordered another one for my wife, but an 80 GB model.

Just about that time I noticed my Firelite started giving me a few fits... It has an LED light that turns purple if it can connect at USB 2 speed such as when connected to a Windows XP workstation, or green if it can connect as USB 1.1 speed when connected to a Windows 2000 machine. If it has a connection the light is steady, and if it has trouble where Windows won't show the drive for the Firelite device then the light blinks rapidly.

Well, more times than not the light was blinking on mine just about the time I ordered the one for my wife. I thought it was just me. I tried Linux as well to mount it as /dev/sda1, for example, and even under linux it sometimes blinked and couldn't connect.

While using Windows, I'd plug into the USB port and Windows would give me an error:


TalkingTree Blog joins up with GalaxyGoo Blog

I've recently had the honor to be invited as a guest blogger on GalaxyGoo which emphasizes the unique nexus of web technology and science. Today I've made my first introductory post to GalaxyGoo Blog. Since I've never had an "About Me" section on, I'm reposting my GalaxyGoo blog entry here to serve just that purpose.

About Me
Hello, my name is Steven Erat and I'm the new kid on the GalaxyGoo block, er..., blog. I've been invited by Kristin Henry of GalaxyGoo to contribute blog entries based on my experience in both scientific research and software development. You might even know me already from my blog on or through my employer Macromedia.


No more data available to read

The following is a reply I made to the CFGURU mailing list describing my experience with the "No more data available to read" error in CFMX server.

At least as of Macromedia drivers bundle version 3.3, the "No more data available to read" error is generated in SQL Server datasources when an existing connection in the connection pool isn't valid anymore. A request checks out an existing connection and attempts to use it, but if the connection isn't good anymore then this error is thrown and the connection is removed from the connection pool.


Concord Free Public Library -- Renovation Completed

The Concord Free Public Library has reopened again after nearly a year of renovations. The Concord Journal published a preview article summarizing changes to the interior, exterior, and infrastructure. A huge perk for me will be the vast number of beautifully furnished reading areas as well as wireless access for times when I want to just work off my laptop rather than use one of the numerous workstations available throughout the library.

Here's a photo gallery of the new library on opening day's night.

On the topic of Concord in general, if you'd like to get a survey of photos of the town of Concord during the autumn then check out this photo gallery, too.

See you there!

Linksys Wireless-G PrintServer WPS54G

I just finished setting up the wireless Linksys printserver (model WPS54G) at home. Finally, I can effortlessly use my Compaq Inkjet IJ650 printer from every Windows computer on the home network. Yay!

The printserver attaches to your 802.11g network and to your USB 1.1 or USB 2.0 printer. Previously, I had always attached the printer to one of my Windows workstations, but then that computer either always had to be on or it had to be booted up in order to print. Further, if I changed the printer from one USB hub to another, then I had to first deal with driver issues on the local workstation, and then I had to share it out again, and finally change all the remote workstation shares. The Linksys printserver is a breeze.


Concord Bookshop: A reading from local author Alan Lightman

A Sense of the Mysterious: Science and the Human Spirit

Ten years have passed since I first met Alan Lightman when I heard him read from his second novel Good Benito at the Concord Public Library in 1995. I particularly enjoyed how Alan used highpitched, nasal tone when he read the part of Arnold Scalapino, a cantankerous old physicist that fell into recluse while living in Fells Point, in east Baltimore. I recall a shiver ran up my spine when Alan delineated familiar places in Fells Point like Aliceanna Street, The Horse You Came In On or the Cat's Eye Pub, as these places I knew very well since I had grown up in east Baltimore.

Once again, I had the pleasure of hearing him read, this time from his current book, A Sense of the Mysterious: Science and the Human Spirit. A crowd had drawn this afternoon in the Concord Bookshop to listen to Alan read the first in a in this collection of essays.


BlogCFC -- CSS for RSS

Following up on Pete Freitag's blog post on adding CSS to your RSS feed, here's a quick tip on how to do this with BlogCFC. Very simply, just create a css stylesheet and then add a style directive to the generateRSS method in blog.cfc just below the XML declaration. As Pete points out, the RSS feed looks much more friendly while maintaing its XML practicality.

"1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1"?>
"text/css" href="includes/rss_simple_style.css" ?>

Don't toss your cookies, trace them instead!

The Ethereal Network Analyzer, or packet sniffer, is a marvelous tool for working with the web. A particular example of its usefulness is to watch the HTTP Requests and Responses go back and forth to observe cookies being set (or not) from the server and cookies being sent back with subsequent requests from the client (or not). If you're fighting with your code and with browser settings while trying to figure out if cookies are being set or not, then just follow the packets and you'll know with certainty exactly what's going on.

Assuming the application hosted on the server is intending to set cookies, then you should see an initial absense of cookies in the HTTP Request from the client followed by one or more Set-Cookie headers in the server's HTTP Response.

Note that Ethereal captures data between two endpoints, a client and a server for example. It can't be used to capture communications made to localhost/


OT: Freaky Friday Flash Video, The Numa Numa Dance

Way, way off track for a technology blog, check out this awesome video of some teenager lip syncing to Romanian techno. Better than coffee, this'll get you pumped to crank out all those klocs today!

Watch the movie at Newgrounds which aired on the NBC Today show yesterday, or this alternate cut which I prefer for shock value.

More Entries