Archive for November, 2009

November 25th, 2009

Being a single parent for a day

Sanna is now on a business trip to the Netherlands, and I’m trying to be a single dad for two nights and one day. The first evening is now over, and boys are sleeping. Everything went better than I thought (or feared…), and hopefully everyone is able to enjoy a good night’s sleep.

It is surprisingly hard job to do parenting only by yourself. I’ve usually handled the morning routines from bed to kindergarten, and Sanna takes care of afternoons and evening meal. There is surprisingly many things to do when you fetch kids from a kindergarten; clothes must be checked for stains and tears, everything need to be cleaned, kids must be fed and entertained, and so on.

Fortunately they went to bed without too much trouble, and I am able to focus on some things of my own. Early bed time has a flipside of early waking up time, so I need to get some sleep before midnight…

Hip hotel with small rooms

The hotel selection in Amsterdam is quite polarized; there are really good and expensive hotels, and really bad and inexpensive hotels. Trying to find a hotel that does not cost a fortune, and has good rooms, decent breakfast, and nice location can be hard.

Hotel V somewhat fits the bill. It is a design hotel, in other words, a lot of time and energy has been put to the surroundings, rooms, and generic atmosphere. Despite being in a crummy neighbourhood, Hotel V has been able to execute this pretty well.

Our room was small, as most hotel rooms tend to be in Amsterdam — there are huge ones, too, I’ve even slept in such a room. The room looked way bigger in the pictures, so be warned. The breakfast was excellent, and service in general was nice. Free WLAN is always a good perk.

The hotel location is not the best, it is a bit out of the city centre, though near the museum sector. Tram is a good option, and it takes about fifteen minutes to reach the central station. We had booked a bike special, and rode around the town for a day — excellent way to see the city, and also get to the places.

www.hotelv.nl, Victorieplein 42, Amsterdam, Netherlands

November 14th, 2009

Mac troubles, part two

Issues with my Mac continued, and the backup failed several times — I checked the problematic file, deleted it, and then tried again. No avail.

On Tuesday, I made a full copy of my working files to a server in the network. Then I continued to rescue my hard disk, finally getting into situation in which my Mac would not boot — except into single mode. Apple’s disk “repair” program “repaired” my disk into an unusable state. It was readable in single user mode, but OS X’s graphical front-end was broken on the disk, due to a bad block.

I had to purchase a new hard drive, that fortunately was available in 24 hours, and install the whole system again. This took most part of Wednesday afternoon and evening. I got the system up and running just before midnight, when the Time Machine backup was restored.

I installed OS X first from scratch, and then restored the backup. This resulted a situation that some of the settings, such as contents of /etc directory were not restored. Some settings, like my custom keyboard was restored with no issues. I copied the old contents of /etc to my desktop, and I have since then copied stuff to the current /etc when something is not working as expected.

I would probably have avoided this issue by running restore while installing the OS. When everything was done, it was too late to start from scratch.

My computer is now faster than earlier, so probably the disk has been somewhat broken for some time.

This is now third or fourth disk trouble that we’ve experienced in the company during this autumn. Either we have had really bad luck, or Apple’s quality is deteriorating. I suspect the latter, as some of my friends have experienced similar issues with their laptops.

Further, HFS+ sucks as a file system. It cannot recover itself from a bad block, and the tools to fix disk issues are really bad. They cannot do much and then they don’t tell you anything informative. Time Machine is extremely bad in the latter sense. There’s never any reasons why the backup failed. Is it so hard to make a couple of informative error messages.

It’s sad that ZFS project went bust, as Apple needs to have a better filesystem. And they should also invest a bit more money to have better quality hard drives. These issues — along other hardware issues that we’ve experienced in the past — should not occur with hardware priced like Apple’s.

Good Chinese

P.F. Chang’s is a good choice for a restaurant when you are tired or lazy to think about the portions, and just want something tasty. The selection itself is huge, as usual in Chinese restaurants, and everything is tasty, as again usual in Chinese restaurants. Nothing is spectacular, though.

The restaurant itself is large, and as most chain restaurants, lacking personal touch. The service is once again excellent, and the food comes pretty swiftly. Price is not bad either. Somehow I see having take away a better choice than hanging in the restaurant, maybe it is the non-personality of the dining hall combined with the mall surroundings.

P.F. Chang’s, 900 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, CA, USA, +1 650 330 1782

Hearty American-Italian

Despite Babbo’s not so welcoming entrance in Stanford shopping center, the restaurant is worth a visit to have a lunch while shopping. I would not go there as a sole destination, but it works more than well in a casual lunch or dinner joint.

Babbo’s at Stanford Shopping Mall, Palo Alto, CA, USA

The food is Italian with some American influence. Surprisingly enough, the portions are not huge, but sized right for average people. You don’t feel bloated after leaving the restaurant.

We ate pastas and salads during lunch time. Pastas were great, but I cannot recommend the salads to anyone. I’ve never seen so weird version of Caesar salad. It was nowhere close to the normal delicious salad, but more of a new way (that didn’t work) of putting the salad together from the same ingredients.

Babbo’s, 717 Stanford Shopping Court, Palo Alto, CA, USA, +1 650 321 1488

November 8th, 2009

Mac troubles

I’ve been a happy Mac user for more than three years now. During that time, there has been seldom any issues with the computers, and compared to the Windows experience, using computers has been a bliss.

Until yesterday evening. When I woke up my MacBook Air from sleep, it was extremely slow, like it was running in 10% of the power available. Finally, I had to do a hard boot on the laptop. It was still slow, so I had to boot it again with the power button. Then it got itself in order and was its responsive self.

This kind of incidents, of course, make me worrysome for the data. I’ve been backing up my laptop with Time Machine, and I plugged in the portable hard drive as soon as possible. The backup took ages. I finally left the computer to do its magic and went to sleep. Only to find out that the backup had failed.

I’ve continued my sage today, running Time Machine almost constantly — it is still running, and it is almost midnight. The computer slows down now and then, but the backup seems not to go anywhere. And being an Apple OS, there is not that much of helpful information on the Time Machine dialogs. It is either “preparing backup”, “backing up” or failed.

I need to dig up some more data, and try to pinpoint the failure. Until then, I probably left the system to run the backup every night until the problem is found, or the backup succeeds.

A bit towards luxury

Calvin Klein clothes are in the verge of luxury brands, but not quite yet there. The brand is more than normal premium (that would include Banana Republic), but for me none of the US brands have been able to grow into a real luxury brand such as Prada, Gucci or Louis Vuitton.

Despite or due to that, their outlet store has a number of interesting items. The clothing has better tailoring, especially from European perspective, compared to the “normal” US brands — that somehow make too wide or otherwise not fitting clothes.

The outlet prices are already quite low, and sale periods can effectively halve them. So expect good deals.

www.calvinklein.com, Outlet #019, Central Valley, NY, USA, +1 845 928 6550