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Randsco News

It takes time to create blog entries and not everything that happens, merits an entry. So, we've created this 'news' section, to keep readers up-to-date with our misadventures and accomplishments. Read about it here FIRST, before it makes it into a blog entry.

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Tagging Photo Kinders

September 2nd, 2008  · stk

NewsBrief: [Tagging Along] Alex gets a new "Trail-a-Bike"!     • [AstonishMe! Photo Gallery] ¥åßßå whips up some spiffy jQuery code     • [A Garden of Kinders] Alex officially starts school tomorrow.

Tagging Along

Hutton House, Vancouver Island - For years, Scott and Rachel have been towing 'the Oop' on bicycle adventures, using a two-wheeled trailer.

Yesterday, for the first time, the Oop towed herself!

Because Alex has outgrown her trailer buggy, Scott and Rachel recently purchased a "Trail-a-long" bicycle attachment. The new-fangled device, purchased used in Vancouver, attaches to the seatpost of either Scott's or Rachel's bicycle. The Oop sits on it like a regular bicycle and pedals (or not).

The manufacturer (Adams Trail-a-Bike) makes several models. Alex's is an older 5-Shifter model - having a Shimano 5-speed gearing system, which she can grow into. The add-on folds in half, for easy transport and storage. It includes a proven steel hitch, which attaches to nearly any seatpost. It also has a bash-chainguard, which protects the chainring.

Alex can use this till she's 85 pounds (she's now just a smidge above 40 pounds).

AstonishMe! Photo Gallery

Smoke-filled Room in Blackpool, U.K. - While Scott and Rachel have been paddling and hosting Belgians, the other member of the AstonishMe! team has been hard at work play, making an elegant "Simple Gallery".

A gallery preview can be seen on the Bowron Lakes Adventure.

The elegant javascript photo gallery is easy to use, degrades gracefully if javascript is disabled, highly configurable, intuitive to use and even works in Internet Explorer version 6 (the bane of many a web-standards designers)

Three cheers for ¥åßßå! Hip-hip, horray! Hip-hip, horray! Hip-hic, slurp ... chug! (Um ... nice tasting beer!)

A Garden of Kinders

Cedar, B.C. - Tomorrow is "a big day" for the Oop - she begins, what will hopefully be a long career, of schooling! Summer has drawn to a premature close and Alex will be starting Kindergarten!

"Where did the time go?" asks Scott, Randsco's chief.

Of course, Alex is excited to be attending school, but she's taking in in stride.

"Yeah," she says, "I'm a big girl now."

We don't know if readers remember their first day at school, but Alex's looks like it will be quite a different experience. In the "new style", Alex will be transitioning into kindergarten!

First, she'll attend a "meeting" on Wednesday. Both her parents will be there, along with only a few of her other kindergarten classmates. (The goal will be to familiarize her with the classroom and a few other kids - rather than overwhelm her, all at once).

Then, starting next week, she'll gradually enter kindergarten (attending for half the alloted time, with half the allotted students).

It won't be till Wednesday, September 10th, 2008, that Alex will actually be attending "kindergarten" (as we know it).

Even then, the afternoon session of kindergarten is scheduled for (11:40 AM to 2:14 PM). On Fridays, it's even less, ending at 1:20 PM.

Geez, so much for child labor, eh? :p

Oh ... in other news, Alex has to bring her own supplies :| (Remember getting pencils, crayons, erasers, paste and such when YOU went to kindergarten?) No more!

(A list of supplies is supposed to be provided in a separate letter). Oh joy.

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Updated: 14-Sep-2008
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Belgian Retreat Hacked

August 21st, 2008  · stk

NewsBrief: [Hacked Off] Randsco was hacked for five days • [Randsco Retreat] Scott & Rachel canoe 110 kilometers for a vacation • [Hosting Belgian Visitors] Topanga (and hubby) are coming to visit!

Hacked Off

Randsco Headquarters - The thieves didn't use a crowbar to break in and they didn't steal any physical objects. Instead, they stole something more valuable. They hacked into the main Randsco web server and stole Randsco site traffic, redirecting them to a sticky, spammy anti-virus/malware software website.

The break-in occurred on August 8th, but the thieves waited till the 14th to begin stealing traffic.

During this time, Randsco staff were away on a corporate retreat in the wilderness of British Columbia (see accompanying article).

The break-in wasn't discovered until the 19th, but when it was, it was quickly reversed.

"Several of our more web-savvy readers contacted us," reported Scott Kimler, editor-in chief, "They told us that randsco.com had been hacked. We sent each a 'thank you' message and an explanation of events."

For five days - August 14th till the 19th - visitors trying to get to randsco.com via the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, AOL, etc.), were automatically redirected away from randsco, to a spammy website.

"The security department is investigating this break-in," said Scott, at a press conference held at the Randsco campus, "While they have reversed the redirection and tightened overall server security, they're conducting a detailed postmortem on the event."

Randsco executives indicated that there would be full disclosure of the relevant details, which will help to expose the criminals and alert other website owners.

"We apologize to any of our visitors about the redirection," said Scott, "It's very frustrating to be searching for relevant data and be directed away from that information, to another website. At best, that website is a 'hard sell' of marginal software. At the very worse, it could pose a security risk to our visitor's personal computers, if they downloaded the executable EXE file."

"The only bit of good news," said Scott, "is that our regular readers - those navigating to randsco.com directly - wouldn't be affected. We know that this isn't much solace for the thousands of people attempting to find information at Randsco via a search engine, but you can rest assured that we've taken measures to prevent this kind of theft again."

Randsco Retreat

Bowron Lakes - Last week, everyone at Randsco.com disappeared into the wilderness. The corporate retreat took place at British Columbia's "Bowron Lake Provincial Park", which is located deep in the Cariboo Mountain range.

The annual retreat was a huge success, focusing on building relationships through teamwork and physical exercise. Randsco staff left their children behind and embarked on a 110-kilometer wilderness canoe trip, where they paddled amongst snow-capped mountains, saw plenty of wildlife and struggled with physical adversity.

"It was great fun," said Rachel, co-editor and human relations director, "we enjoyed fine weather, had some thrilling white water rides and met lots of other adventurers."

The canoe trip lasted 6 days, included just over 100-kilometers of lakes, rivers and streams, and about 10-kilometers of portaging.

The suntanned director of Randsco, Scott Kimler, said during the press conference that readers could expect a photo-filled journal of the trip, in the near future.

"Here's a taste of the marvelous scenery of the Bowron Lakes," said Scott, showing journalists a projected image of one of the photographs, taken during the Randsco retreat.

Hosting Belgian Visitors

Yellow Point, B.C. Anne and Peter are from Antwerp and they'll be arriving at the Hutton House sometime tomorrow afternoon.

"We've never met Anne or Peter," said Scott, "but know them from their online work."

Anne is involved in maintaining the b2evolution forums, where Scott is a moderator.

"Anne has several websites," said Scott, "Tender Feelings and Hungry Feelings among them."

Rachel and Scott plan on treating their Belgian visitors to some Canadian wilderness scenery, heading by boat to the floating cabin in the Barkley Sound.

Anne and Peter are visiting the Pacific Northwest and you can read about their trip at their TravelPod website.

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Updated: 2-Sep-2008
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Domino Relief

July 26th, 2008  · stk

NewsBrief: [Cord of Dominoes] A stack of logs falls in the night, making a huge crash and scaring Scott & Rachel • [Relief at the Pump] The Hutton House water well gets a pricey, but needed, make-over.

Cord of Dominoes

Yellow Point, B.C. - If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?

Hutton House owners Scott and Rachel discovered that if that tree is already cut into fireplace-sized logs, that it makes a very loud sound.

"It was like the roar of a jet engine," explained Rachel, "only very short-lived."

The duo were laying in bed, just settling in for the night, when they both heard an 'unusual' sound. At first, they thought a tree had fallen onto the house somewhere.

Scott grabbed a flashlight and walked around the home.

"Nothing here," he reported.

It was the cat that clued them into the true source of the noise, because he was sitting at the edge of the patio, looking toward the woodshed.

Upon closer inspection, Scott realized that about a cord of wood, which had been chopped and stacked to dry, had toppled over. The single row of logs was about 20 feet long and stacked between two tree trunks. Although it was over six-feet tall at dinnertime, it had now been reduced to a pile of rubble.

The logs had toppled and fallen as one, landing on the ground in a rush. In the eerie light, it looked as if someone had toppled over a giant field of log 'dominoes'.

Scott groaned from the joy of having to restack the logs, but at least the mystery noise had been solved.

The next day, it took Scott less than an hour to restack the logs. This time though, he made one tall row and supported it with a shorter row.

Relief at the Pump

Hutton House - It's morning and the editor-in-chief of the Randsco rag is showering, happily singing away. Suddenly, the water dries up at the shower head.

"Crap," says Scott, half lathered up. He hops out of the shower, tries to dry off and wraps a towel around his waist (no need to startle the deer by seeing a naked man).

He hurries down the flight of stairs, out the front door and runs across the lawn and down into the pasture, to the pump house.

Inside, the pump is spinning wildly, trying suck water from a dry cistern, into the water pressure tank. It doesn't "know" the cistern is dry and will burn up, if Scott doesn't unplug it from the wall outlet and mechanically trip the relay that tells the down-hole pump to pump water into the cistern.

Scott waits 5 minutes, for the water level in the cistern to cover the foot valve, then he plugs the pump back into the socket. It immediately kicks in and (fortunately, has kept its prime) fills the pressure tank.

This scenario has been playing out for about a year. Scott has cleaned the relay contacts and the problem goes away for a while, only to return, at some inconvenient time. Once, he didn't realize the house was out of water for quite a while. The pump was so hot that when he went to prime it, the priming nut shot into the air, from all the steam.

The Hutton House water woes are now (hopefully) history, as a well company revamped the old water well system. In addition to replacing the faulty relay and mechanical float arm, they also capped the water well, improved the aeration system and added shut-off protection for both the up-hole and down-hole pumps.

The final bill isn't in yet, but they're hopeful that the $600 or so investment will keep a dripping wet, half-naked Scott from scaring the wildlife to death.

Now all we need, is relief at the GAS pump. ;)

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Updated: 20-Aug-2008
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1000 Camera Tub Fires

June 29th, 2008  · stk

NewsBrief: [Land of 1000 Fires] Scott & "the Oop" drive to northern California for 10 days • [New Camera] Fiasco ordering a new Panasonic Lumix TZ5 digital camera in the U.S. • [Tub 'O Summer] An unexpected summer hot tub project.

Land of 1000 Fires

Red Bluff, California - Scott and "the Oop" took a 10-day road-trip down to California, to visit relatives. The trip was short-notice and Rachel couldn't go, because she had to work. It was Scott and Oop's Big Adventure!

They left early, bound for Victoria, took the Black Ball Ferry across to Port Angeles and drove down the Hood Canal. They made it as far as Cottage Grove, Oregon, where they camped at Schwartz Park. (The Oop was very excited to be tenting!)

They made it to Red Bluff by noon the day after and spent about 10 days there. Highlights include: daily swimming (worthy of a blog entry), dinner out at Kitty and Bill's house (which included 5-holes of "off-road golf"), Alex catching her first fish (rainbow trout caught at Nora Lake), Alex playing with Cammie and Hershey (6-month old yellow and brown Labrador retrievers), feeding geese, letting Alex drive through the walnut grove in an electric golf cart and relaxing with grandma and grandpa Kimler.

The return trip via Seattle, included a one-night stay with Kim Easthouse, Alex's "fairy" God-mother (what Alex calls her).

The day before Scott left California, a thunderstorm blew through northern California, sparking off fires - about 1000 - some of which are still burning. The morning Scott and Alex left, the sky was thick with acrid smoke and the sun rose red, there was so much smoke in the area. (Like last fall, a Martin Mars Water Bomber, from Sproat Lake, not far from where we live on Vancouver Island, has been deployed to help fight the fires).

It was a good trip, but meant that Scott was away from the computer for most of the month (hence the lack of blog entries). Rachel enjoyed her 'alone time', catching up with homework, relaxing and visiting with friends.

New Camera

The Amazon - Scott ordered his new Panasonic Lumix TZ5 camera from no less than three U.S. suppliers. One summarily canceled his order, another couldn't get it back-ordered till the end of June and the third, lost the shipment in Oakland, California.

Mail ordering the Lumix TZ5 camera was a fiasco and worthy of a blog post!

Eventually, Amazon dot com came through, rushing an overnight delivery to replace AWOL Oakland camera and earning Scott's respect for having good customer service.

Purchasing the camera in the U.S. saved Scott about $150 ($425 in Canada, $279 in the U.S.) The disparity in consumer pricing between Canada and the U.S. continues to boggle the mind.

Tub 'O Summer

Hutton House - With temperatures approaching 90°F (32°C) yesterday and today, summer has arrived in Yellow Point! (Here Scott thought he was heading back to the 'land of cool', after suffering through multiple 90°F+ days in northern California). :p

No sooner had Scott returned to Vancouver Island than he found himself smack dab in the middle of a big, unplanned project. (Note again, the lack of posts on Randsco? ... herein lies part of the recent reason. Mind you, an Internet outage for most of Friday didn't help either.)

This project was initiated with an email from Travis, Scott's fire-hall buddy. Last autumn, they had made a tentative arrangement to do a bit of a work-trade. Scott was going to help Travis revamp his sun deck (Scott has some experience in deck-building, as he was co-owners of a deck company in Dallas in the late 80's). In return for his expertise and labor, Travis was going to give Scott the 6-person hot tub that they wanted to remove from the deck.

Well, apparently Travis couldn't wait, as he hired the work to be done. What was going to be a work trade ended up being a modest purchase. The hot tub was removed from the deck on Monday (the day Scott and the Oop drove to Seattle) and needed to be moved by the weekend.

Immediately upon his return, Scott scrambled, trying to get ready for moving and placing this new addition to the Hutton House. He cut down a few trees, moved some large rocks and tried to level out a 16-foot by 25-foot area, in which he'll be building a deck and gazebo (with hot tub).

The land is now cleared and a preliminary deck design (which has already been modified) is committed to paper. A new 240 Volt circuit will need to be added to the existing main panel, trenched and run to the new tub. The hot tub itself, was moved Friday night, with the help of Travis and Patrick (another fire-hall friend). The 3-kilometer move went without a hitch and "the beast" handled the load without slippage or a groan! The "new" tub is now the centerpiece of our gravel patio, waiting to be moved and wired into position.

We'll probably use the tub (sans deck) for a bit, just to make sure it works properly, is positioned where we want it and we've had a chance to make sure it's something we actually will use and want (Charlie, our neighbor, claims that it costs him about $70 a month, just to keep his hot tub heated. NOT something we're keen on, if indeed, this is the case for us too.)

If there's a lack of posts on Randsco, you can blame summer vacation, high heat and unplanned construction projects! (Oh ... and web clients whose work continues on ... despite everything else!)

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Updated: 31-Mar-2009
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Cat Buzz Response

June 3rd, 2008  · stk

NewsBrief: [Buzz & Chop] Scott spent the weekend cutting and splitting a cord and a third of wood. • [Cat Fud & Dog Fud] We've been dog-sitters for a week and the cat discovers that he prefers dog food, to cat food. [Lot 7 Owner's Response] The people who own lot 7 (and cut down Park trees) found Randsco.com.

Buzz & Chop

In the Hills Behind Chase River - Saturday morning was another early wake-up call for the Oop and Dad, who got up at 5:30 AM. The Oop was dropped off at Miki's house, while Dad and Travis headed into the hills, determined to be the first at the Island Timberlands U-Cut site.

They got there at 6:45 AM and were the second group of cutters admitted into the clear-cut area. They set up shop and worked like little beavers, cutting, hauling and splitting the rounds that were too large to lift. The cutting went well, but was hot work under a cloudless sky. The only snag came when Scott went to change a dull chainsaw blade, discovering that he was given the wrong sharpened chain at the store. (He was given one for a different saw, as it didn't fit). It took a half hour to field-sharpen the dull chain. Even with that, they finished by 11:30 AM, with two pickup trucks of wood.

Scott picked up the Oop and returned home, ate lunch and had a couple of well-deserved beers, then it was time to unload the truck (calculated to be about a cord and a third of good Douglas Fir, Maple and Hemlock wood). It made quite a pile and when Rachel awoke (she had worked a 12-hour shift at the hospital, the night before) she was quite impressed.

Sunday was spent mowing the lawn and then Scott set about the task of splitting all the wood, into fire-place-sized pieces (so that the wood would dry faster, over the summer months). It took all day, wielding an 8-pound maul and wedge, to move the round log pile about 10 feet, making it a pile of mostly pie-shaped logs. Some of the largest rounds created about 24 individual pieces, they were that large. ;)

Two days of hot, sweaty work! It just needs to be stacked for the warm, dry summer breezes to cure and about a 1/3 of our winter wood needs, will have been met. (Mind you, there remains the other pile of rounds to split and there's even a rumor that the clear-cut might be opened one more time. Hard to pass up a cord and a bit of wood for $30, even if it requires two full days of work to get it.) :|

Cat Fud & Dog Fud

Hutton House - Readers know that we've been taking care of Rachel's parent's dog - "Sasha" - whilst they're away on a cruise up the Inside Passage of Alaska.

Nothing against Sasha, who is a very nice dog, but having her for a week, has confirmed that we're not ready to own a dog. Alex didn't play with her as much as we thought she would. Sasha required a lot of trips outside and fitting time for a dog walk with Rachel's shift work, was difficult. Then there's the messes on the lawn (and in the pasture) and "surprise!" some other place you don't expect to step into. LOL ... we have 5 acres of woods, you'd think Sasha could find a quiet spot to do her business, but noooo ... right in the middle of the path is her preferred spot!

On the plus side, our cat, Tuxedo, hasn't been too bent out of shape over the new canine guest. In fact, it's been rather humorous to watch, as each animal seems infinitely more interested in each other's food bowl, than their own. I guess if you eat the same dry/wet food every day, anything else is considered a luxury! Sasha's bowl is often commandeered by Tuxedo and Tuxedo's bowl is coveted and cleaned by Sasha. Tuxedo is a bit perturbed by the fact that Sasha is fed twice a day, whilst he has to writhe in misery, waiting for the 5 o'clock hour, till he gets his meager bit of food. :|

"No worries," he says, "I'll just eat dog fud in the morning and cat fud in the evening!"

Even the chickens don't mind the dog and it's interesting to see the dog, cat, chickens and Alex all in the yard, playing, pecking, lounging ... all within yards of each other!

 

Lot 7 Owner's Response

Randsco Email - Lot 7 owners (the lot where trees were cleared, some inside of designated Park land) stumbled upon Randsco while looking to see if any other lots were sold.

They emailed, to tell their side of the story, which has been posted as a comment, to reach a wider audience. They feel horrible about the damage and have offered to replant or do whatever the Parks Department feels is fair.

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Updated: 29-Jun-2008
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