People Photography Places

After the Flood

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I’m working on a very long essay on the recent dam break here in Missouri, the hurricane effects in New Orleans and other topics, and am out taking photos as annotation. The writing may be a long time in coming, but I thought I would post photos as I go along.

Monday I went to the Johnson Shut-Ins to see the effect of the Taum Sauk Reservoir dam break. It was…extraordinary. The trees and much of the scrub in the area where the campground and picnic areas are almost all gone, or damaged beyond salvaging.

There were several of us about, most local to the area. We were gathered in a group trying to figure out where the water came from, when one man mentioned that the water came from a direction in back and to our left. How can this be, I asked, because the trees were lying down towards the left. According to another man local to the area, the water had come down with such force that it hit the mountain to the right and bounced back. It was this bounced water that took out the ranger’s home, pushed the semi off the road, and knocked down the trees by the road.

The campground and shut-ins got the water directly. So much so that rebar from the dam was twisted in and around the granite pillars of the shut-ins. In the summer, during the day, all 57 campground spaces are filled, as well as the space for 110 day use cars, with vehicles lined up to get in for miles. During a peak time in the summer, an estimated 1000 or so people could have been in the impact zone of the flood–a probable 250 in the direct path of the water.

I’ve also added some Google map images to the photos, to demonstrate the water flow and where items I photographed were found.

As the following Google maps snapshot demonstrates, the water flowed down between mountains, and came out pointed directly at Johnson Shut-Ins. It flowed down Black river, in both directions at first, and bounced back from the mountain bordering the Shut-Ins across from the water path.

Keep Out

Path of Water down Mountain

Black River

Unusual color in Black River


It hit the mountain, bouncing back and taking the Ranger’s home. The following photo encompasses both the path of the flood and the home. The light colored foundation in the right side of the following photo is what’s left of the home.

Flood Path in Relation to Park Ranger Home


Knocking three cars and a semi carrying zinc into an empty field across from Highway N.

Location of Truck pushed off road

Debris, both from the dam (rebar and plastic liner) as well as from the ranger’s home was still scattered about in and among uprooted trees and the inches of mud and silt over everything. The following map shows a circle where the Ranger’s house was, and Xs marking where debris in the photos was located.


The front wheel from a child's bike

Lining from Reservoir was littered everywhere

Sign by Park Ranger's House

A Baby's Socks

Programming Languages

Chu chu code

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I can’t believe how easy it is to set up Ruby on Rails on the Mac with Locomotive. I went from two downloads to my first application in less than 1/2 hour. Great stuff.

I’m in the process of making vast changes here abouts. The first change is I’m moving my Tinfoil Project domain to a new development server that is upgraded to all the latest, breaking edge PHP, MySQL, Ruby on Rails, and so on. Tinfoil is being re-focused from photos to high-tech, and the new server will provide examples of code how-tos and tutorials I hope to work on this next year.

I’m looking at a virtual private server at A2 Hosting or OCS Solutions at this time, but wouldn’t mind hearing about other hosts–with a few caveats.

I’m looking for a service that goes month to month, since my income is uncertain from month to month. I need enough RAM to run my examples, and enough bandwidth not to have to pay overage. I wouldn’t mind a control panel, and some assistance (paid or otherwise) if things go wonky. I’d also like a system that has some of what I want already installed, so I don’t have to start from scratch. These are things I want. What don’t want is a service that’s heavily connected with weblogging.

You all may jump on the Cluetrain, but I’m finding I’d be just as happy, thank you, in not having a close, intimate connection with vendors. I want to be able to deal at a professional level with companies, and not have Sarah or Sam ‘offended’ by what I write in my weblog.

I want a clear means of communication detailed at the company site; I don’t want representatives in my comments whenever I mention their product. I don’t want to have to use my weblog as a form of extortion to get a company’s attention; or as a backdoor way of doing business.

I don’t care if they see me for who I really am, as long as they see me as ‘customer’ and act accordingly. I don’t want input into the company workings other than “what you’re selling me is working, here’s my money”.

I don’t want to be ‘bad’ or ‘good’ for being critical. I don’t want legions of supporters converging in my space, protecting that nice woman, hip young man, or crusty, but with a heart of gold, legend in his own mind . I don’t want what I say to show up on the I don’t care if what I write shows up on Google — I just want it to work.

I want a service; I’m willing to pay. This is not the beginning of a personal relationship. I don’t want it treated that way. The only train I want to be on around here, is Locomotive.


It’s cool to be evil

I think Dave’s got the right of it: kicking Google, like kicking Wikipedia, is the new cool. Oh, I have my doubts about both; but then, I’ve always had my doubts about both. Even when the lemmings flocked on the side of do no evil.

I do want to point out, though that my Practical RDF book is in Google’s book search. As is Unix Power ToolsEssential Blogging, and Developing ASP Components, 2nd Edition. That’s a lot of online content when you consider this is in addition to the millions of words, code how-tos and examples, and photos I’ve published online: here in my weblog, at several online magazines, and up on Flickr.

Luckily there aren’t more people cheap like Steve Rubel, or I wouldn’t be able to afford to continue posting to this weblog, publishing my photos online, creating and giving away code, as well as answering questions and helping folks when I can.

I wonder, then, who it is that is supposed to change? Google for publishing the bits from the books? Or Ruebel for not spending a dime on content that helps make people like him famous?

Programming Languages

Mystery solved

A month or so ago, I wrote that I couldn’t access my weblog because when I tried, nothing showed. My host had upgraded to PHP 4.4.1 and it broke something in the application, but what we couldn’t tell. My host said they could find nothing in the logs to explain the problem. In the meantime, they backed out 4.4.1 on my machine, and haven’t upgraded it back.

Yesterday, I heard from a weblogger who is using the semantic web plugins I created for WordPress: all of a sudden, he couldn’t access his administration pages. However, in his case he was able to find the problem in his error log:

PHP Fatal error: Maximum execution time of 30 seconds exceeded in
…/wp-content/plugins/delSetup.php on line 31

I didn’t see this error message in my error logs, but his email gave me a key to the problem. The line number indicated pointed to the following lines in the plugin:

reset( $del_menu_items );
while( $arr = current( $del_menu_items ))
while( $submenu[’metadata.php’][$index] ) $index++;
$submenu[’metadata.php’][$index++] = array(__($arr[’title’]), 5, $arr[’script’]);

The culprit is the code traversing the submenu and testing to see if it exists. Seeing this tiggered my memory about one of the first bugs issued for PHP 4.4.1 that had to do with next and current array functions, and other array problems introduced with the security fix. These have since been fixed in the CVS source, but not issued as a new release.

The code used in the plugin is a copy of code that others have used to add administrative menu extensions to WordPress. Further checking showed that WordPress now has functions to manage menu additions starting in WordPress 1.51 and 1.52. Examining the function code, there shouldn’t be any problems with PHP 4.4.1, so I’m changing my plugins to use the new functions.

Note, though, to other WordPress users: if you’re using a plug-in that’s extended the administrative menus, check with the creator to see if they’re using the old hack or the new admin menu functions. If they’re using the old hack, disable the extension until new plugins are released. If you don’t and your ISP upgrades to 4.4.1, you’ll be dead in the water.


My precious

I wasn’t expecting any Christmas presents, as we had all agreed we wouldn’t exchange any this year. It was both a surprise and delight, then, to get a box of chocolate covered cherries (a favorite) in a pretty Christmas bag with a card containing a check to be used for an iPod.

My finances are such that I would not have bought an iPod for myself, but I have been lusting for one. There are other music players that cost less and probably have wider functionality, but I’m fond of iTunes (yes for all its evil copyright ways) and I loved the integration between the two. Besides, Dave Winer’s had such troubles with his–I wanted to be helpful; to be able to tell him what he can do with his iPod.

One problem to work around is the new, fifth generation iPods ‘recommend’ USB 2.0 and all I have on my laptops (PC and Mac) is USB 1.1. After considerable research, I found this thread at the Apple forum that talks about USB 2.0 cards, and decided on the Belkin USB 2.0 notebook card. I bought it at the local CompUSA and tried it out last night with my Nikon D70 (sort of a USB 2.0 device), and it seemed to work fine. Time, and a *first synch between computer and iPod will tell.

It was interesting reading through the thread at the forum. Many loyal Apple customers feel burned by the fact that 5G is USB 2.0 rather than the ubiquitous Apple firewire:

From someone who doesn’t understand any of this: Is the bottom line that even with a newer operating system, my iMac800mhz (no usb 2.0) -a mere 2 years old- is not compatible with the 5th generation video ipod? This is how Apple rewards product loyalty?

Many seem to see it as a form of Steve Jobs megalomania:

Here’s something to make you just a little more angry: I was told that the only reason for the removal of FireWire from the 5G iPod is that the internal connector was the last obstacle to shaving a few extra millimeters off the thickness of the case from the 4G models, and Steve Jobs was adamant about making the “it’s smaller than ever!” claim at his last keynote. Thus, screw us. (Caveat: I can’t prove this accusation is true. It may be apocryphal, but I have to admit it sure sounds like a Steve sort of demand, and I’ve been unable to come up with any other logical reason why FireWire support should have been yanked in the first place. Even USB 2.0 is objectively inferior to FireWire in a whole host of ways.)

> This is how Apple rewards product loyalty?

You probably didn’t see it, but not long ago Saturday Night Live aired a skit where Steve Jobs held a keynote and introduced three new iPods in the span of about a minute and a half. Each of the new iPods made the one introduced seconds earlier an utterly obsolete technological dinosaur, and the last one was was literally invisible, yet somehow managed to hold five million songs and every photo ever taken by mankind.

(Apple’s obsession with minute tolerances extends even to packaging–the box the iPod came in, this morning, was an amazing example of packaging.)

Steve Jobs is just reflecting the behavior we see in other geeks who made it big in the last few decades: so how do I top the miracles I’ve produced in the past? It must be dehumanizing to continually have to pull miracles of technology out of one’s pocket.

Anyway, I’ve never been one to be over loyal to any vendor. I was disconcerted when I realized my new iPod wouldn’t work well with my older Powerbooks, until a friend pointed out about adding a USB 2.0 card (Note: I forgot the card slot even existed). However, I never expected that Apple would adjust all their ancillary gadgets to work with my machines. If the company released a version of the operating system that wouldn’t work, I would be peeved, as my machines are not that old. But I gather there were people with B&W G3’s questioning how to get the iPod to work with their machines–leaving the rest of us asking how they managed to get OS X 10.4.3 working.

But I digress. I went back and forth on color when ordering: black or white. White is traditional, but I’ve been around the block for a while and white didn’t seem to fit me. Besides, there’s something sleek and panther like about the black. iNoir.

I also debated with myself whether to pay the extra 100.00 for another 30GB of space. In the end, needing to purchase a USB 2.0 card and a separate power adapter convinced me to go with the smaller. Still, there was this inner coder in me that had a hard time letting go of the extra 30GB.

I mentioned my dilemma to my roommate. He asked do I really need to carry 60GB of songs around with me.

“Spacesss. Ssshhelleee needsss spacessses!”


“How many songs do you have in your iTunes now?”


“Taking up how much space?”


“Does that include any video? What if you exclude the video?”


“How many songs can the smaller iPod record?”

“About 7500.”

“You don’t have that many songs. How many does the larger iPod record.”


“15,000! You really think you would record 15,000 songs?”

“I might.”


I started to say I could fill the space up with podcasts, but stopped myself before I was completely lost; realizing that I was under the effect of the iPod.

I bought the smaller. However, since Apple provided the option, I did have it engraved. The end goes something like…

…one to bring them in, and in the music bind them.

My holiday treat. My iPod. My preciousssss.

*Update: Just before I posted this, the friendly FedEx man delivered my iPod. It was ordered on Christmas Day, and shipped (for free) from China. I guess it was not a slow boat after all. I plugged it in, it synched in what seemed like seconds, and now I’m listening to “In the Year 2525″. Anyone remember that song?

Dave? Dave? I’m ready to help you now, Dave.