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HOW TO: Upgrade to LibreOffice 4 on Ubuntu 12.10

Okay – time to ditch LibreOffice 3.6 on one of my Ubuntu machines and install version 4.0.  This is intended as just a quick Down and Dirty post on the steps I took.  If you have any questions just leave a comment and I’d be happy to expound.

Step 1: Download the latest stable version of LibreOffice: 32-bit -or- 64-bit.  (English version)

NOTE: If you aren’t sure which version of Ubuntu you are running click the [Dash] button (top-left Ubuntu logo) and type “system monitor” and press [Enter].  Press the “System” tab at the top.  The displayed screen will specify 32 or 64 bit:

Determining Ubuntu version

Determining 32-bit or 64-bit Ubuntu install

Command Line (CLI) method:

NOTE: To open a terminal window click the [Dash] button (top-left Ubuntu logo) and type “terminal” and press [Enter].

uname -m

and if the output says i686 then it is 32-bit.  If it says x86_64 then you have 64 bit Ubuntu OS installed.

Step 2: Remove the 3.6 version that came with Ubuntu 12.10

sudo apt-get purge libreoffice*

Step 3: Expand the download gzipped archive.  You can use Natualis to navigate to it and expand it via the GUI.  Or just use the command line (easier in my book):

cd ~/Downloads

  (or wherever your Download directory is)

tar zxvf LibreOffice_4.*_Linux_*_deb.tar.gz

Step 4: Install core components:

cd LibreOffice_*_Linux_*_deb/DEBS
sudo dpkg -i *.deb

Step 5: Install desktop integration packages:

cd desktop-integration
sudo dpkg -i *.deb
libre-office-4

LibreOffice 4 installed on Ubuntu 12.10

DONE!  Let me know if anyone has any questions or input.

Cheers,
Mike

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Automatically sync your Docs to Google Drive

driveDo you ever ask yourself “Why was I making this so difficult?

Well, I found myself asking that very question last week.  I had setup RSYNC on my Mac OS X desktop to sync items from my Documents folder over to my Google Drive at regular intervals.  Ummmmmm . . . symbolic link anyone?  (duh)  So here’s my quick solution for OS X users:

1) Open Terminal (search for it in Spotlight if needed)

2) Type (cut and paste if you like): cd ~/Google\ Drive

3) Next, type: ln -s ~/Documents Mac\ Documents

This will essentially link everything in your Mac’s Documents folder into the Google Drive folder and name it “Mac Documents”   . . .   and thus back them up to the cloud.  If you have more than one Mac then you could use MacBook\ Documents or some other label in order to keep the separated.

Of course this assumes Google Drive on OS X will follow symbolic links   . . .    I’ll let you know how it works!

Now for Windows Users:

1)  Right-click your My Documents folder and select properties.

2) Select “Include a folder…” and locate your Google Drive folder. Then highlight Google Drive in the list above, and select “Set save location.”

3) Click Apply and you should be good to go!

Now they just need a good Linux client (not a fan of insync due to their Privacy Policy – Google needs to create a native client).

UPDATE:  Well apparently Google Drive doesn’t follow sym(bolic) links when syncing.  Got a “plan B” to create the link the other direction   . . .   will update soon.

Solaris Tape Drive Commands

Sun StorageTek SCSI Tape Drive

Sun StorageTek SCSI Tape Drive

Another Solaris “F1” call (we use the term F1 for help-desk calls)

This time a user needed a file stored on the Solaris SPARC server from over a month ago.  That long ago requires archive tape (although on our newer ZFS installs we try to do file-level snapshots – sure wish this was the case here!)

So let’s just do a quick review of our Solaris tape drive commands (su to root first):

Rewinding a tape:

mt –f /dev/rmt/0 rewind

Retensioning a tape:

mt –f /dev/rmt/0 retension

Display the status of a tape drive:

mt –f /dev/rmt/0 status

It returns information about the tape, if it is loaded, offline, file count, blocks etc.

Good luck!
Mike

Why you should know BOTH business and I.T.

Why You Should Know Both Business and IT

A great guest post by Benjamin Weiss

My firm has been in the IT staffing business for more than a decade now. And while I could spend all day talking about the folks we’ve seen grow out of dead-end careers to become titans of their respective industries, one that stands out in particular is an IT pro I’ll call “Drew,” who comes out of the finance world.

One IT Guy’s Path to the Top

When we first encountered Drew years ago, he was as stuck as a cog in a wheel, forced to work with outdated technology and with few opportunities to advance. To his credit, though, after we helped him move to another company at which he had more responsibility, he independently began to dig into the nitty-gritty of finance instead of focusing solely on the development of trading systems.

That made all the difference. Soon, he was promoted to a senior role. He’d shown himself able to bridge the gap between the firm’s IT department and financial analysts, which led to him having meaningful face time with the company’s C-level executives. Then, once he’d impressed them with his plain-English strategies to build a truly symbiotic relationship between the firm’s business and IT arms, Drew was made head of IT and is now a serious candidate to become CTO.

Now, why relate this particular story? Simple. It highlights an extremely important aspect of technical career development, where IT specialists who regularly intertwine business and technology in their jobs have a far easier time illustrating value to their organizations and advancing to high-level positions. Let’s take a closer look at what can be learned from Drew’s example, shall we?

Why Both?

Obviously, the idea of combining your IT and business knowledge may not be for everyone. For example, if you just want to code, get a paycheck and go home to watch SportsCenter without having to manage or interact with clients and colleagues, this approach probably doesn’t apply to you.

But assuming that you aspire to lead and have an impact on your company’s long-term vision, there are good reasons why riding the line between business and technology is a righteous idea.

You’re Less Expendable

While even the best IT pros out there could find themselves out of a job under extreme circumstances, attacking a technical role from both the business and technical angles minimizes the likelihood that your employer will give you the boot.

In an era when leaders are constantly assessing how to trim the fat, employees that aren’t seen as business-critical are usually the first to go. Consequently, when budgets tighten, those IT staffers who stay purely in the technical realm are more likely to have their duties outsourced to someone who can execute with similar precision at cheaper rates.

Juxtapose those professionals with others who speak the business language as well — the kind of people who understand market saturation in media, derivatives and equity in finance, tech packs in fashion and precedent in law.

These people are highly valued assets for their ability to maximize efficiency and streamline communication between different departments. Pair that with the ability to interact with clients directly and you have a complex skill set that’s far more difficult for hiring managers to replicate. And, when you occupy a space that’s cumbersome and expensive to hire for, it’s exponentially more difficult for employers to rationalize letting you go because, well, they really can’t afford to.

You Can Make More Money

There are lots of sharp business analysts and rock star developers on the market, but there simply aren’t as many folks who can seamlessly connect the two worlds. If you refine your skill set so that you can clearly explain the business value of IT processes (for example, telling the CFO exactly how much time and money will be saved by investing in SharePoint), you’ll develop a unique position within your company.

On top of that, when you have a unique position in your firm you have the wiggle room to ask for a larger salary, better benefits or whatever other compensation revs your engine. More often than not, employers will have to play ball because, again, they can’t afford not to.

You’ll Have More Options If You Leave

Even people with lots of responsibility and hefty paychecks sometimes fall out of love with their jobs. When this happens to average technology specialists, they may have trouble once they start their job hunt. Their skills may be rusty, or worse, irrelevant. Besides, there’s always competition in the job market, so other people with similar skills and will be vying for the same openings.

By contrast, if you’re a technical expert who understands the ins and outs of a specific industry, your marketability skyrockets. Your ramp-up time will be shorter because you already understand the jargon and have an idea of how technology can be deployed to meet the sector’s specific needs.

To position yourself as an IT pro who also knows the business, follow these core strategies:

  1. Attend non-technical conferences: There are few better ways to familiarize yourself with what’s trending in your industry than immersing yourself in a trade-specific conference. These events are fantastic outlets to learn about the issues that affect your community as a whole, and how your peers are strategically addressing them. As a result, not only will you be better informed — and consequently better prepared to go toe-to-toe with your firm’s executives — you’ll find yourself in the midst of a vast network of people who can share ideas about how technology can be used to troubleshoot the issues of the day. Furthermore, these conferences are fantastic networking opportunities. Later on, should you feel compelled to look for a new job, you’ll have built up a roster of contacts who’ll know exactly how much value you can bring to their organization.
  2. Keep up with non-technical industry publications: Technical professionals are well known for hungrily consuming information, scouring the pages of technical news outlets and blogs for tips, tricks and best practices. But if you want to communicate with executives, attend client meetings and manage projects or teams at a high level, you should stay abreast of the latest news coming out of non-technical industry publications as well. For example, The American Bar Association Journal provides information on what motions companies are filing in the the courtroom, while Bloomberg Markets has stories on how economic reform trends may impact finance, and in turn, technology. Consequently, your knowledge base will be more rounded, enabling you to better connect and strategize with colleagues outside IT.
  3. Spend as much time as possible with higher-ups: As valuable as it is to learn about your industry, connecting directly with executives will show you how sector trends affect the strategic vision of your company. With that in mind, take as many opportunities as possible to speak with executives and learn what goals are most important to them. With those in mind, you can tap the knowledge you accumulated through independent research and industry events to suggest what IT processes or investments could drive realizing the firm’s vision. And once you begin to take on the role of trusted advisor, you become a likely prospect for the CTO’s or CIO’s spot.

The Bottom Line

As I said, this route may not be for everyone. But for those who aspire to become a project manager, an IT leader or corporate executive, these strategies will demonstrate that you’ve got the quasi-entrepreneurial mindset that employers look for in management prospects.

So if you fit the profile, onstantly sharpen both your business and technical acumen and become the kind of technologist that your employer and its competitors will drool over.

Ben Weiss, Infusive SolutionsBen Weiss is the digital marketing strategist at Infusive Solutions, an IT staffing firm in the Microsoft Partner Network located in New York City. Infusive specializes in the efficient placement of Microsoft technical professionals and provides clients and candidates with the resources to take their careers to the next level. Its white paper titled “Microsoft Technologies Booming in the Big Apple” can be downloaded here. Follow them on Twitter @InfusiveInc.
Dice News in Tech (http://s.tt/1A4vI)

The Four Keys to Identity and Access Management

The Four Keys to Identity and Access Management (via slashdot)

IT departments are facing wave after wave of security challenges. This isn’t just a series of little breakers, such as constant attacks and changing threat landscapes. They have tsunamis rising as the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), cloud and social waves come their way. There is no way to build a…

Ironman Louisville Race Report 2012

Author’s Note: I’ve never published a Race Report publicly before.  I’m doing it now for two main reasons:  1) I searched for and read as many of these as I could get my hands on leading up to race day, so I’ve included as much detail as possible to help any future Ironman Louisville participants  -and-   2) I wanted something to look back on years from now to remember the details of what turned out to be an amazing weekend.

The week before

I kept a chalkboard on the wall with a count-down to Ironman. LOVED that Sherpa wrote motivational notes on it regularly. By race day it was covered with dozens of them.

In the days leading up to Ironman (a.k.a. “taper week”) it felt strange not to be working so hard at the three events.  Things were tapering fast.  115 mile bike rides had become 30 miles.  4,000 meter swims had gone down to 2,000.  18 mile runs were now 3 miles.  The work was done, the deposits in the bank, time was drawing near.

Sherpa started her official duties.  🙂  Being my sounding board, my best friend, my nutritionist, chef, masseur and generally putting up with me.

I spent a lot of time making check lists, shopping for last-minute items like Body Glide, sunscreen, chapstick, chamois cream and then re-checking the check lists.  The guest bed in the house quickly became Ironman Staging Area where everything lived that wasn’t being used in daily training.

I was starting to twitch.  I felt like a Thoroughbred standing at the line, pawing at the dirt, waiting for someone to throw the switch and the gate to open in front of me.  I could hardly wait  . . .

Friday | t-minus 48 hours

Car packed and ready to go

After about a six-hour drive up from the Atlanta Area Sherpa and I finally arrived in Louisville, checked into the Galt House hotel (great choice!), and met up with Kenny (my teammate and training buddy).  We all headed over to registration in the ballroom.  Registration went FAST, filled out some waivers that said when we died our families would not sue the organizers, presented driver’s license, USAT card and then exited through the gift shop   . . .  literally.

Looking at all the amazing vendors and M-Dot items was pretty exciting.  I elected not to purchase anything until after the race, thinking it would be bad karma to buy M-Dot stuff before crossing that finish line.  Although that was a slight mistake because by the next day a lot of items were already sold out.

I would (hopefully) be passing through here in a couple of days

But what was really cool was my Ironman athlete bracelet.  Bright blue and attached to my wrist and it was going to stay there for the next few days announcing to everyone that I would be suffering through 140.6 miles pretty soon.  I was official.

Kenny and I got in a quick brick workout – just flipping through the gears with a spin down River Road, stopping at the public boat ramp on the Ohio River for a quick, unplanned dip to test the temperature – the water felt good!  At 85 degrees I expected it to feel “hot” – but it felt just about perfect!  Yes!  After a quick 2 mile run off the bike it was time to get showered and ready for the athlete dinner and meeting.

The dinner and then meeting were really one event in the same location, just a few blocks away at the convention center.  There was a crazy-long line for the dinner but once the doors opened it moved fast and we were inside and with food in front of us pretty quickly.  It was a pretty simple dinner – pasta, baked chicken, salad and rolls.  There were cookie platters out for something sweet too.  After we all ate and socialized with our table-mates for about an hour they started playing motivational videos on the big screen(s).  This led into various forms of motivational-ish speakers about Ironman.  The evening was capped off with details about how race-day would flow and a Q&A session.  It was a nice evening and very glad I went, but nothing overly spectacular; I guess about what I expected.

Went straight to bed after the dinner.  My coach warned me (and Sherpa) that Friday night sleep was almost more important that Saturday night since it was going to be tough to sleep on Saturday from all the adrenaline and excitement.  Sherpa was always so sweet and thoughtful; a nice back rub to help put me to sleep.  It worked.

Saturday | t-minus 24 hours

Woke the next morning to the pre-ordered room service that I had called in the night before.  Two orders of Galt House pancakes, one order of eggs with toast and some coffee.  Holy. Cow. Best. Pancakes. Ever.  And one order would have been plenty – saved the second order for lunch.  YUM!  This was the most important meal – anything consumed 24 hours before the race is what my body would be using for fuel.  And what great fuel it was.

After stuffing my pie-hole with pancakes I headed straight down to the practice swim with Kenny.  Timing chips were required so they could make sure we all got out of the water and nobody went missing.  The water felt great and I floated for a bit looking back at the Louisville skyline.  Amazing.  In 24 hours I would be back here swimming 2.4 (errrrr . . . 2.8 when you can’t swim straight) miles in an Ironman race!

Ride Blue!

After the swim another quick spin on the bike to flip through the gears and keep the legs moving.  Decided to skip the pre-race run because we had a lot of walking to do and wanted to save the legs as much as possible.  Bike, Bike Bag (helmet, shoes, glasses, etc.), and the Run Bag (shoes, hat, sunscreen, etc.) got dropped off in transition and we all went over to watch the Ironkids 1 mile run.  Fun stuff – so cute to watch the little ones go as fast as they can!

After Ironkids we all looked around the downtown area for good spots for the Sherpas to hang out and cheer near transition and on the run course.  We picked a few key corners to all look for each other.  Then walked to the hotel to put the legs up and maybe even sneak in a nap after inhaling the rest of the pancakes.  Not much left to do but wait for dinner at this point.

Up from semi-nap at about 3:30 and my buddy Tom called – he was 30 minutes out from Louisville, on his way up to watch the race and take in the atmosphere.  I wanted to have dinner at 4pm so my body had a good 12 hours to digest it before the next morning and Tom said he could suffer through an EARLY dinner.  Once Tom arrived we walked downtown checking out Urban Spoon on the iPad trying to find a light dinner that would be easily digested (not a lot of fat or fiber mostly simple carbs).  I kinda thought Asian . . . white rice, flaky white fish maybe, some simple veggies.  but finding a place to server dinner at 4pm was tough.  We finally sat down at Gordon Biersch and they had a shrimp stir-fry on the menu with white rice.  It was a bit heavy on the sauce but seemed to be okay.  Eating at 5:30 wasn’t exactly the plan but didn’t prove to be an issue the next day.

After dinner we strolled back to the hotel.  I felt amazingly calm considering what I was about to attempt the next day.  Feet were up on the bed around 7pm, watching TV and just trying to chill.  Finally just before 9pm I decided to try to sleep    . . .

Race Morning | t-minus 210 minutes

Slept better than I thought (long back rub from my AMAZING Sherpa helped a ton) and up at 3:50am. Ate exactly as I did on all big training Saturdays: Powerbar Performance washed down with some BSN energy drink (creatine, caffeine and B-vitamins), cup of coffee to sip on afterwards. Kenny, Sherpa and I walked down to transition at 4:30 and stood in line for it to open at 4:45. We dropped off our special needs bags with the volunteers before heading to the bikes. I quickly got my bottles of Infinit in place and borrowed a pump from a neighbor to top off the tires (I had been asked by the volunteers the day before to let some air out of the tires just to be safe in the hot afternoon sun – not sure if this was really needed, but certainly couldn’t hurt anything). Was out in a flash and we walked the mile down the road to the swim start and body-marking.

Body-marking was easy.  Dozens of volunteers stood around with Sharpie markers to write race numbers on our arms and age on our left calf. We got marked in all of 30 seconds and walked down the sidewalk to the end of the swim start line. I was shocked at how many athletes were already there considering how quickly we had moved that morning. Although it felt like we were at the very end of the line, we were in the water about 13 minutes after the first swimmer so it must have really been closer to the front half. Waiting in line for about 90 minutes wasn’t easy but we got to talk to a lot of nice folks and our Sherpas were sitting on the other side of the sidewalk (no Sherpas in line with the athletes, so they had to be on the opposite side of the sidewalk).  Sherpa was constantly giving me sign language reminders to drink so I slowly sipped my half-strength Infinit and then switched to water once that was gone.  I also inhaled a banana to top off the tank (also practiced during big weekends).  Shortly before the start I handed my Morning Clothes bag to Sherpa and put on my swim cap and goggles – I was ready to go!

The Swim (http://connect.garmin.com/activity/215827294)

The Pros started at 6:50am and then the rest of the field at 7am with what sounded like a canon shot (it was). The Time Trial start line moved fast and we were trotting quickly towards the docks. I started my Garmin watch about 20 yards before jumping in and then took the plunge.

I jumped off the edge of the dock and went underwater much farther than I expected. When I came up my goggles were full of water but I felt compelled to swim quickly away as folks behind me were basically jumping in on top of me. As I went to swim and take my first stroke the guy in front of me took a big kick and hit me square in the face with his heel. All of a sudden a wave of anxiety swept over me – I hadn’t felt this in months in the open water – but here it came. It felt as though my heart rate was at 110% and about to explode out of my chest. I flipped over on my back to clear my goggles and catch my breath. My panic must have been obvious to the safety kayaker who scooted over next to me and watched closely. This didn’t help.

I cleared my goggles, told myself it was time to HTFU, flipped back over and started swimming. After a few minutes my heart rate calmed down and I found my rhythm. Swimming up the channel there was no perceptible current. The water temperature was in the mid-eighties and felt very comfortable – just about the perfect temperature.

As I neared the end of the channel and ready to enter the main part of the Ohio River, I noticed what looked like swimmers walking on water ahead of me. I turned to a kayaker near me and asked what was going on; she replied with a quick “sand bar”. As I swam ahead my own hands dug into the sand and I stood up, walked about 10 feet across the sand bar until it got deep enough to resume my swim. What was really odd is that as I swam along one person passed me walking – such a weird sight! Turns out the water was only about two to three feet deep at the end of the channel.

I made it a point not to look at my watch at all throughout the swim.  Time always passes so slowly for me in the water.  During open water swims anytime I look at my watch thinking ten minutes had passed it would always be only two minutes.  I didn’t want to spend my day looking at my watch every two minutes so I just decided to not think about the time and just swim.  Swim and enjoy the water.

Once I turned at the outer buoy it was amazing to see the sunlit downtown skyline. I let out a big “Wow!” and a nearby kayaker said “do you need to hang on for a minute?” I replied “No. It’s going to be a good day!”

Approaching mile 2, I paused to check out the fire boat with all hands on deck idling near me watching the swimmers. I heard a female swimmer yell “Hey Buddy! Hey Buddy!” and turned to look at her. It took me a minute to realize she was yelling at me. I looked quickly around for a safety kayak but there were none within yelling distance. I foolishly swam over to see what she needed. She instantly started climbing on my back saying “I have to pee and I can’t while I’m swimming.” and “Just hold me up for a second.” As I tried my best to keep my head above water with this stranger on my back pushing down on my shoulders all I heard was “don’t worry I’m not crapping or anything”. Really?! I finally peeled her off my shoulders and got swimming again.

The swim exit was awesome. Hearing the crowd cheering, seeing the big tents. I was done! As I ran up the path toward transition I saw my faithful Sherpa cheering and waving – I had to stop for a quick kiss. 🙂

T1 (http://connect.garmin.com/activity/215827307)

The volunteers were awesome.  I ran toward transition and a volunteer with a megaphone yelled out my race number. As I approached the bag area another volunteer had my bike bag ready  to hand off. I walked towards the men’s changing tent and noticed the guy in front of me took a detour and sat outside in the grass with his bag. Deciding he knew something I didn’t I followed suit and found a grassy area off to the side and sat down (bonus for not needing to change shorts!). I dumped everything out of my bag and touched each item one at a time to make sure I didn’t forget anything in my excitement. Once done, all my swim stuff was in the bag and my bike stuff was on me including sunscreen and arm coolers.

I walked through the changing tent and was really glad I sat outside. Inside the tent was nothing but heat, crowds and chaos. I was surprised to later learn what felt like 5 minutes really took me 13, but I wasn’t in a hurry (what’s a few minutes in something that’s going to take me all day?). Off and onto . . .

The Bike (http://connect.garmin.com/activity/215827368)

Leaving Transition I was surprised to see my Heart Rate in zone 3. Ummmm . . . I hadn’t even started pedaling yet, what’s the deal?! I slowly and easily pedaled down the flat River Road away from the city. I took deep breaths, went easy and reminded myself I had a long ride ahead of me to calm my HR down. Adrenaline and excitement I’m guessing.  I love the bike so it certainly wasn’t anxiety like my wonderous swim start.

I pedaled slowly away at about 17 mph average. Really easy effort on that flat part even though a ton of folks went zooming past me. If it were not for the words of my coaches Tony Hammett and Dan Arnett echoing in my ears “don’t worry when people fly by you out of transition. When you finish at the same pace you started you’ll see them all again as you pass them.” I would have gotten caught up in the excitement.  I resisted the desire to scream out of there at 20+ mph only to regret it later. Good coaching and a ton of 100+ mile practice sessions really helped me know what pace to be riding.

I tried to just enjoy the bike start, took it easy but steady, knowing that “it shouldn’t feel like work until about mile 80” (Coach Tony). Everything I have read, practiced, heard, etc. is that at IM distances you should focus on about 60 to 70% effort on the bike. Unfortunately, far too many athletes make the mistake of treating it like a bike race only to crash and burn later on the run. The last thing I wanted to do was walk 26.2 miles. The plan was to run (slowly mind you) between each aid station and I knew I had to budget for aid station #25.

The out and back section – the hilliest part of the course – was a ton of fun thanks to the spectators. This more remote area drew the folks in costume, speedos, capes, with bull-horns and sirens. My only real gripe was having to ride the brakes downhill due to the congestion of the course. There were way too many inexperienced cyclists, or folks not familiar with the road, riding slowly downhill two abreast. I saw one just as she bit it into the guard rail going down hill. I didn’t exactly see what happened, just saw a bunch of commotion up ahead as she went down; others quickly stopped to tend to her. As I came back around on the out and back an ambulance was pulling up.  Thankfully she was alert and conscious. I also got a quick glance of Kenny on the out and back section. He saw me first and yelled my name as we passed. I think I barely got out a “Hey!” as we went screaming in opposite directions. He looked strong and like he was having a good time, too.

The two loops through LaGrange were awesome with its beautiful horse country and rolling hills. Pushing the pedals hard through their town, with all the crowds cheering, sent chills up my spine. So exciting. There was even an announcer who called out your name as you rode past. It started to feel hotter. I knew it was going to be in the 90’s that day, but dang it felt hot really early. It was only 11am and I was sweating bullets even at 60% effort. This is when I love Infinit – nothing to think about. One bottle per hour and I have my turn-key nutrition. From electrolytes and glucose to aminos and protein; I made sure I stuck with my nutrition knowing I would need every drop.

On the second loop things felt a bit harder. Around mile 40 to 50 I grabbed cold water as I rode by the aid stations to squirt over my head and down my back. If felt cold . . . and good! In addition to Inifint I drank probably a half bottle of water per hour as the temperatures rose.

I stopped at the Bike Special Needs, my only stop on the bike, at mile 70. The volunteer who helped me was awesome. She had my bag ready to go as someone stationed up the road had called in my number ahead of me. I pulled up and she offered to hold my bike as I discarded my empty bottles for full ones. It was hard to “discard” $40 worth of Camel Back water bottles, never to be seen again, but as anyone doing an Ironman quickly learns this is a minor expense compared to all the others! As I started to wheel my bike toward the porta-potties for a quick relief the volunteer said she’d hold it until I got back. How awesome! Stop was under five minutes – great!

When I approached the higher miles of the day I saw so many folks on the side of the road. Broken chains, heat exhaustion, and tons of flats. Apparently the flat issue was caused by some idiot throwing a box of tacks all over one section of roadway – why? I understand that cars and bikes don’t always get along but this is only one day a year – and a Sunday morning to boot. Why be so evil?! The sight of so many mechanical and nutrition / heat issues with other athletes really started to mess with my mind.

The stress of “what if” rolled through my mind as I saw so many others with various issues. While I like the bike best of all, I was ready to be off it. Not ready to run a marathon, mind you, but ready to put these thoughts behind me. The last thirty miles seemed to take forever . . . But then, finally, River Road again and the last dozen miles home to T2! Yes!

T2 (http://connect.garmin.com/activity/215827380)

T2 was uneventful. Grabbed my bag just like before and sat outside the changing tent. Refreshed the sunscreen, changed gear and was off on the run. Again, what felt like only a few minutes turned out to be more than ten. I guess time flies when you’re having fun.

The Marathon (http://connect.garmin.com/activity/215827395)

Run start out of T2. Sherpa running next to me on right in pink shirt as we “check-in” with each other.

Coming out of T2 I instantly saw my Sherpa on the sidelines cheering. I ran over and stole another kiss and she started walking swiftly next to me and then we jogged together for a minute as we checked in with each other. Great treat and motivator which lifted my spirits even more!

When I ran up the bridge I realized that I could almost crawl the marathon and finish before midnight.  Of course that wasn’t the plan. The plan was to run each mile, walk through the aid stations and then run to the next one. What I did NOT want was to run out of energy and end up walking between the aid stations. I took it slow, held back a bit and kept my HR in high zone 2. I knew if I ran into zone 3 I’d be walking at the end and, just like on the bike, folks ran past me.  But, just like on the bike, I saw them again – this time only sooner. It looked like folks that tore out of T2 past me ended up walking almost the last half of the marathon.

Just past mile 1 my stomach cramped – not GI issues, more like muscle cramps. It felt like I was doing crunches while running. I thought about stopping and walking to see if they would go away, but decided to HTFU and just run through it. I skipped the GU Roctane Gel at mile 2 (plan was one gel at every even-numbered mile) and decided to push on to mile 4 for my first gel. It was a good decision because whatever was causing the cramping was gone by mile 3 and I hit the first gel at mile 4 with a water chaser. Every aid station was about a tenth of a mile long. I would walk when they handed me sponges, grabbing two waters – one for my head and one to drink, and then dumped ice down my back. At the end of the aid station was a trash can with a sign that read “Last Trash”, this is where I had to start running again.

I almost drank too much water at several aid stations and felt it slosh around in my stomach for a good quarter-mile. I was sweating profusely and the sun beat down in the low 90’s. It was hot and I didn’t want to suffer dehydration. The run hurt early on – way too early – but I just kept thinking about what Sherpa’s brother and sister-in-law had said, “pain is weakness leaving the body”. It became my mantra for the day. Just one foot in front of the other. Don’t think about the pain. Ignore it. Shut up legs!

As I approached the end of the first loop (half marathon) the course took me over to Fourth Street within a hundred yards of the finish line before starting the second loop. I had two people tell me they thought this was cruel; to get so close and see the finish only to know you have HOURS of running left to do. Not me! It was a huge motivator! I got to see, smell and taste what would be the finish line in just 13.1 miles. I couldn’t wait!

Running out and back twice I had four opportunities to see how far behind me my buddy Kenny was; but as runners passed going the opposite direction, I never did spot him. After a while I started to worry. Where was he? Did I really miss him all four times our paths should have crossed? Or was he one of those (many) unfortunate souls on the bike?

The sun started to go down on the second loop and I started to actually feel better. I hit my Run Special Needs bag at mile 14 and inhaled the salt tablets I had stashed in there and took a few Advil (I know – not always a good idea) for my sore lower back and my hernia that had started to flare up. Salt tablets were not a part of the plan – more of a safety net – but I feared that with all the water going through my system I may need the extra electrolytes that the Roctane wouldn’t be able to keep up with. What had become a 13 minute mile pace with walking the aid stations was now creeping back into the 12’s! Sweet! I might actually make it without walking between any of the aid stations. Mind you that is a dang slow “run” but one that I was happy with at the end of a hot, long day. Not to mention this was my first ever marathon!

Other athletes didn’t find the second loop quite as enjoyable as I did as I began to see dozens of people sitting on the side of the road either cooling off under a tree or worse, passed out in need of medical. Scary stuff.

At mile 20 I tried to pick up the pace a bit, excited that I only had a 10k left to run, but as I did my right hamstring quickly cramped, then released as I slowed it back down. I didn’t want to start walking due to muscle cramps (I saw SOOOO many people walking). Mile 22. Only 4 to go. I decided to run the last four without walking the aid stations. I approached the next station at mile 23, was handed sponges and my legs screamed for their break so I walked it as I did the last one. At each station my mind told me to keep running but my legs wouldn’t listen. So I continued walking the aid stations and running in between as planned. My hamstring got worse, but I ignored it as best I could and put the pain out of my mind.

As I got closer to the finish line the streets were more and more crowded with spectators cheering. It was motivating, awesome, inspiring. I was almost home! Back on Fourth Street I could see the finish line. The bright lights. The crowds cheering loudly. Chills resonated up and down my entire body. This was the ONE moment I had been waiting for; the one moment I had worked so many hours for. All the blood, sweat and tears were about to pay off in spades.
I tried for a moment to find my Sherpa in the crowd but quickly gave up. Between the bright lights, the loud music and the hundreds of people packing each side of the street there was no spotting anyone. I crossed the line never hearing them call my name. It was sensory overload – a rush like none other. As a catcher grabbed me to make sure I was going to stay vertical, I spotted my Sherpa just on the other side of the finish line waving. The catcher was kind enough to escort me to her open arms.  Another great hug and a kiss – I was an Ironman!

The catcher walked me though several steps asking how I felt along the way. Medal, T-shirt, Finisher hat, picture, chocolate milk, thermal blanket and eventually handed me off to my Sherpa and pointed us in the direction of pizza and other food.

My first question was “where’s Kenny?” still worried about why I hadn’t seen him. My Sherpa wanted to talk about my condition, about my race – about anything to distract me from my question. Not good. All she would tell me was he was “okay”. Then I spotted him with one arm in a sling. Really not good. My heart sank for him. He was one of those unfortunate souls who fell victim to problems on the bike, crashing at mile 106 (!) and shattering his collarbone. And we’re talking SHATTERED –  to the point that one of the bones was about to poke through his skin. Ugh!  Kenny is such a sportsman, such a teammate that he had rushed out of the ER earlier in the evening so he could make the finish line and cheer me across. Wow. What can I say about that? Inspiring. What an amazing guy!

The walk back to the hotel was tough. Every step hurt; curbs were almost impossible to navigate. Once in the room, clothing still on, I lowered myself into a cold bath and Sherpa made trips to the ice machine with buckets of ice to dump on my legs. I sat there for a good twenty minutes then rinsed off. Still wearing the same Tri shorts I put on at 4am but with some fresh socks, shoes, hat and a cool new “Finisher” t-shirt.  I was eager to hobble back down to the finish line.  What a privilege to cheer for the folks still coming in.

Monday morning

Didn’t sleep to well but I didn’t care.  Adrenaline.  Excitement.  Pride.  Mission accomplished.  Sherpa and I packed up and hit the road pretty quick I seem to recall.  Coming down to the car in the hotel parking garage was a real treat!  Sherpa had gotten my bike and gear out of transition the day before while I was out on the run (during athlete check-in you are given two claim tickets to give to your Sherpa to claim your bike and gear out of transition after 6:30pm), the car was all packed and ready to go.

Sherpa was so sweet to decorate the car for the ride home!

Things I would do differently (a.k.a. things I did wrong):

  • Practice dock starts in open water.
  • Infinit has a good number of electrolytes in it (my formula has like 500mg) but I needed extra on the run in the 90+ degree heat.
  • Instead of driving up Friday morning and feeling a bit of stress in the day’s schedule we should have driven up Thursday night instead.
  • Dinner Saturday night before the race ended up being at 5:30pm, I would have preferred 4pm.  I like 12 hours between dinner and wake-up on race day.

Things I would do again (a.k.a. things I did right):

  • Great coaching from Endurance Concepts!
  • Swimming topless since the water was in the mid-eighties
  • Three words: Saturday Morning Pancakes! (Galt House room service pancakes ROCK!)
  • Using Infinit on the bike
  • Using an all liquid nutrition during the event (Infinit on the bike and Gu Roctane+water on the run)
  • Wearing Tri shorts for all three events thus no trips to the hot and crowded changing tent
  • Don’t bring a pump to transition – borrow one from a neighbor
  • Bring your own sunscreen aerosol and spray it on outside the changing tent
  • Use the run course nutrition so you don’t have to carry your own (find out ahead of time what they have on course and practice with it)
  • Taking time at key and memorable moments to take “Mental Pictures” (Thanks so much for this suggestion Tony!).  I will never forget making that turn in the swim and seeing downtown Louisville and the bridges at sunrise.  What an amazing sight.
  • Remembering to “Have Fun” as reminded by both Coach Tony and my Sherpa.
  • Going back down to the finish line as a spectator and cheering until midnight.
  • Getting out of the car every 90 minutes on the way home and going for a 5 minute walk and stretching.
  • 90 minute Sports Massage with stretching the next day.  HUGE difference.

Official Results:

T. MICHAEL CORNELIA

Rank: 254
Overall Rank: 1517
BIB: 2169
Division: M40-44
Age: 42
State: Cartersville GA
Country: USA
 
Swim: 1:45:18
Bike: 6:52:33
Run: 5:35:19
Overall: 14:37:16

CONGRATULATIONS, T. MICHAEL, ON YOUR FINISH!

Swim DetailsDivision Rank: 332
Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Div. Rank Overall Rank Gender Rank
Total 2.4 mi 1:45:18 1:45:18 2:43/100m 332 2200 1674
Bike DetailsDivision Rank: 290
Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Div. Rank Overall Rank Gender Rank
23 mi 23 mi 1:21:20 3:19:27 16.97 mi/h
40 mi 17 mi 1:00:01 4:19:28 17.00 mi/h
70.5 mi 30.5 mi 1:55:35 6:15:03 15.83 mi/h
112 mi 41.5 mi 2:35:37 8:50:40 16.00 mi/h
Total 112 mi 6:52:33 8:50:40 16.29 mi/h 290 1754 1388
Run DetailsDivision Rank: 254
Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Div. Rank Overall Rank Gender Rank
3.4 mi 3.4 mi 38:51 9:40:48 11:27/mi
8.2 mi 4.8 mi 1:01:56 10:42:44 12:52/mi
13.1 mi 4.9 mi 1:03:28 11:46:12 12:57/mi
15.3 mi 2.2 mi 28:50 12:15:02 12:55/mi
20.1 mi 4.8 mi 1:04:31 13:19:33 13:31/mi
25 mi 4.9 mi 1:03:04 14:22:37 12:45/mi
26.2 mi 1.2 mi 14:39 14:37:16 12:37/mi
Total 26.2 mi 5:35:19 14:37:16 12:47/mi 254 1517 1184
Transition
T1: SWIM-TO-BIKE 12:49
T2: BIKE-TO-RUN 11:17

By the numbers to get to Ironman Louisville
from January 1st, 2012 to race day – August 26, 2012:

345 Hours total training time
(NOT including extra showers, driving, prepping, nutrition, bike maintenance, extra loads of laundry, etc.)  😉
93 miles swimming
196 hours in the saddle consisting of:
2,613 miles on the Road or Time Trial bike
85 miles on the Mountain Bike
34 hours on the bike-trainer / spin-bike
499 Miles running (mile 500 was in Louisville!)
227,980 Calories burned

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Firefox 6.0 Highlights

A colleague just asked “What’s new with Firefox 6?  I mean, what’s changed in just two months?”  (he almost sounded miffed)

So I thought I’d list  and link some of the highlights from the release notes – and yes, I DO agree it is worthy of the major point release:

  1. Tremendous “under the hood” enhancements increasing speed by an average of 20%
  2. Improved the discoverability of Firefox Sync
  3. Reduced browser startup time when using Panorama
  4. Added support for the latest draft version of WebSockets with a prefixed API
  5. Added support for EventSource / server-sent events
  6. Added support for window.matchMedia
  7. Added Scratchpad, an interactive JavaScript prototyping environment
  8. Fixed or enhanced several security issues, including:
    • The address bar now highlights the domain of the website you’re visiting
    • Streamlined the look of the site identity block
  9. Resolved many stability issues
  10. Improved usability of the Web Console
  11. Added a new Web Developer menu item and moved development-related items into it
A full list of all the fixes and improvements are here.

Firefox 6 Now Available (and 20% faster!)

Firefox 6 is due to be officially released in two days, on the 16th – but you can download it now via Mozilla’s FTP servers here: ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/releases/6.0/

It uses the same front-end as Firefox 5 but with some “under the hood” enhancements that claim a 20% increase in speed and support for more web tools.  Mozilla’s release notes go into greater detail here.

And if you need to install this new version on Solaris or OpenSolaris you can check out my “How To” notes here.

Cheers,
Mike

Is Your Password As Simple As “12345″ ?

Then time for an upgrade!  As password cracks get easier and easier there’s even more reason to “upgrade” your password to a minimum of 12 characters.  Check out what this team from Georgia Institute of Technology found:

http://www.gtri.gatech.edu/casestudy/Teraflop-Troubles-Power-Graphics-Processing-Units-GPUs-Password-Security-System

Whole Grain Oatmeal Cookies {to die for}

Yield: 24 large cookies

I adapted this recipe from a similar cookie made at Great Harvest Bread Company. I’ve created three variations below: a) Dark Chocolate Toffee b) Cinnamon Raisin -and- c) Low-fat, Low-sugar. Careful not to eat too many!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill Organic)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons organic molasses
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups rolled oats, divided (Bob’s Red Mill Extra Thick)
  • 1/3 cup ground flax seed (optional)


    Option 1:
  • 12 oz Jumbo mixed raisins
  • Cinnamon to taste (about 2 tablespoons)


    Option 2:
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 8 oz toffee pieces



Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.
  3. Cream together the brown sugar and butter until well combined.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
  5. Mix in the molasses, milk and vanilla.
  6. Take one cup of the rolled oats and grind them in a blender or food processor until it is the consistency of coarse flour.
  7. Add the ground oats and the remaining two cups of rolled oats to the butter mixture and mix well.
  8. Add the ground flax seed and mix until combined.
  9. Now add the flour mixture and mix until combined.
  10. Stir in the optional ingredients (chocolate chips, raisins, etc) until evenly distributed throughout the dough.
  11. Using a ¼ measuring cup, scoop the dough onto un-greased cookie sheets 3 inches apart. (Plug for Silpat: http://silpat.com/)
  12. Bake for 15 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown.
  13. Remove from oven and cool 5 – 10 minutes on cookie sheets.
  14. Remove from cookie sheets to cool completely on racks.
  15. Pour a glass of milk and inhale a couple of warm cookies.

Substitutions that can eliminate 50% of the fat and about 60% of the sugar:

  • Use 1 cup of Splenda brand brown sugar in place of the regular brown sugar.
  • Use Smart Balance butter sticks in place of the full cream butter.(NOTE: if making the substitutions above do not scoop the dough onto the cookie sheets, instead form into semi-flat cookie shapes before placing onto baking sheet. With less fat & sugar they don’t “melt” into cookie shapes as well.)

I always try to use grass-fed milk, free range vegetarian-fed eggs, organic ingredients and buy local whenever possible.

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