Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Persistence 2

We returned from our annual week at Lair of the Golden Bear to reliable coastal June Gloom. A true child of San Francisco, I feel at home in fog.

We had fun during our three trips this month, but it's good to be home. Coincidentally, each trip was a reunion (of sorts) for alum of three universities: MIT, University of Colorado, Boulder and University of California, Berkeley. There is some truth to stereotypes. The three schools draw similar, though subtly different personality types.

There was knitting. There was outdoor fun. Photos will follow. Right now, I am fighting off another infection and resting.

Related post:
I wrote about persistence almost exactly one year ago. Viva la June Gloom!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stinky Lives!

When it bloomed at The Huntington in 1999, the gigantic Amorphophallus titanum (a.k.a. the Corpse Flower) created international headlines. A second flowering in 2002 was equally sensational. Now, one of the famous Corpse Flower’s offspring is getting ready to make its debut. Propagated from seed produced by the 1999 bloom, one could call it a genuine “son of Stinky.”
A Titan Arum in bloom is as rare as it is spectacular. A plant can go for many years without flowering, and when it does the bloom lasts only one or two days. Some people travel around the world hoping to see a Titan at the moment it flowers. For botanists and the public, being “in the right place at the right time” to see one of these magnificent plants in bloom can be a once-in-a-lifetime treat. This is the third time a Titan Arum has bloomed at The Huntington. In 1999, The Huntington was the site of the first known bloom in California; the same plant bloomed again in 2002. The plant blooming now is an offset of one of the seedlings produced from the successful self-pollination of the 1999 bloom.
Visit the Huntington website to learn more about the flower and when you can view it. Do it soon because the bloom doesn't last long!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How to change the default Lotus Notes display font size on a Mac

Aug 5, 2009 Lotus Notes 8.5 Update:
My company upgraded my computer to Lotus Notes 8.5 for the Mac. I am happy to report that changing the font size is much easier in 8.5 than in 7.0.

Look under the Lotus Notes Tab at the top of the screen and select Preferences and then Font.
Lotus Notes -> Preferences -> Font
Use the drop down menu to select "Normal", "Large Fonts" and "Extra Large Fonts". The default font size is "normal", but my eyes prefer "Extra Large". YMMV.

I still can't figure out how to change the icon sizes.
BTW, if you want to add a sender to your address book, you can no longer select "add sender to address book" from the actions menu. That option is now hidden under "more".
Actions -> More -> Add Sender to Contacts...
For Lotus Notes versions 6.X and 7.X, read on.
The last set of software patches for OS X 10.4 killed my IDL application, which I desperately need to complete a report due yesterday. A user forum where I lurk said the only stable fix is to upgrade to OS X 10.5 running XQuartz. All this should make your eyes glaze over.

Anyway, short story is that my computer was re-imaged; the slate--hard drive--was wiped clean and I started over. This means that I am using the latest versions of MS Office and Lotus Notes and IDL. I will have to write notes about all the bits and pieces that I had to change. Right now, I just want to write down how to change the Lotus Notes display font size for Notes 7.0 running on a Mac.

It shouldn't be so difficult to make such a simple change. But it is, and they have not fixed it. They've had years to get it right, but they failed. I am posting the instructions here so you won't have to go through the hassle I went through.

Search terms initially failed me because they sent me to obsolete pages dealing with Notes 6.5.

(There's an interesting story about how the Notes 6.5 preferences file for Mac is a binary file and IBM did not provide a way for users to edit the file. We had to download third party software to do that. I totally share this guy's pain. The link he provided is defunct. IBM released their own Mac preferences binary file editor for Notes 6.5 and you can find it here.)

Other web pages dealing with font sizes and Mac told users to edit the Notes.ini, a file which exists only on Windows machines. Even the IBM help pages were very unclear. They tell you exactly how to edit the Notes.ini files and what line to change. Then they also tell you that the Mac version does not use a Notes.ini file. Grrr!

Some say to look at the user's Library/Preferences directory for the Notes Preferences file and change to font size there. Well, there is no line in that file to change. You have to add the line and get the syntax exactly right.

This is what the IBM Lotus Notes forum has to say about this in response to a user's query:
From the client help db here are the instructions to change the fonts for people with bad eye-sight. This is a setting in the local notes.ini file that needs to be set. Best to play around with the number, to see what font size would be appropriate. Just remember that if you ever do a reinstall, or clear the notes.ini you'll have to re-add that line.

NOTES.INI is a configuration file, located in your Notes directory, which stores information about your personal Notes installation. If you need to use larger fonts at all times, close Notes, open your NOTES.INI file, and add the following setting as a new line anywhere in the file:

Here, n is the number of points added to the default size and is a number between 0 and 25. For example, if you want to increase the font size to 5, you would type:


Save your NOTES.INI file after you add the new font line, and then re-open Notes.
To which the user replies:
Unfortunately, I do not have that file on the mac. Is there an alternative way around this?
Follow the thread here.

The whole exchange makes my blood boil. Who are the people giving answers? Are they IBM employees or other users? If they are IBM employees, they need some serious training in customer service, tact and their own products. If they are not IBM employees, that doesn't make them look any better. Why don't they support their own product? Why do they leave customers to the slings and arrows of a volunteer user support group?

BTW, bad vision is not the sole reason you want to do this. The default font setting for Lotus Notes on a Mac is illegibly tiny for most monitors in use today. If you are displaying more than 800 pixels across and are not a fighter pilot, you will need to change the font size.

Here it is in full, gory detail. I am running Lotus Notes 7.0 on OS X 10.5.7. YMMV, but it will go something like this:

Unix command line:
Exit out of Lotus Notes
cd to

Notes Preferences

using your favorite text editor (vi, emacs, etc)
Add this line

Start Lotus Notes and check the display font size. Adjust the number up to make the font bigger, and down to make the font smaller. You will need to exit and restart Lotus Notes each time you adjust the font size.

OS X GUI users:
Close Lotus Notes.
Use Finder to go to
User -> Library -> Preferences

(There is another high level Library -> Preferences directory for all users. Do not mess with that right now.)
Double click on
Notes Preferences

The file will open in TextEdit.
Type this line somewhere in the file:

Restart Lotus Notes.
If necessary, repeat, adjusting the number up to make the font bigger and down to make it smaller. 4-5 seem like good settings for both my laptop screen and the Cinema display in my office.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bye Bye Boulder

We spent a three-day weekend in Boulder, Colorado to attend a celebration of 40 Years of Ion Chemistry. It was wonderful to catch up with old friends. The kickoff BBQ at the rocking hbar ranch was like a school and family reunion rolled into one.

Iris attended the CU Wizards show and learned about the Chemistry of Cooking. She was even called up on the stage to assist professor hbar, whom I remember fondly from when I worked as his teaching assistant.

Iris had no patience for the science seminars on Saturday afternoon. Mark stayed for the talks and I took care of Iris. (He is, after all, the Lineberger lab alum.) Iris and I toured the campus, shopped the bookstore, toured the CU museum galleries and hung out at the awesome Boulder public library. If you have a chance, do not miss the Navajo Weaving exhibition at the University of Colorado Museum.

Although it was a short and hectic trip, we manged to eat brunch at the Chautauqua Dining Hall and Lucille's on Friday and Sunday respectively. Sadly, Lucille's did not have bags of old-fashioned grits for sale. Does anyone know where can I buy old-fashioned slow-cooking grits in LA?

Eggs sardou, yum!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Machine Project is throwing a party this weekend.
farewell to analog tv

Friday June 12, 2009
10pm : lecture
midnight : countdown to digital tv

Join us on Friday June 12th at 10pm for a talk by Jason Torchinsky about mechanical televisions, to be followed by a countdown to the demise of analog TV.

At midnight (Friday night/Sat morning) all the old analog television broadcasts will stop, to be replaced by digital signals. That means old TVs without converter boxes won’t work anymore. In memoriam of the TV we all have known and loved/hated, we’ll be gathering a pyramid of old TVs together for a countdown as they go to static, all at once.
In theory, we can save a lot of carbon by getting together with neighbors to pile our tvs in pyramids and BYOB closer to home. We don't need to drive over to hipster neighborhood, Silverlake! It sounds interesting, but I hope to be asleep then.

Read about it at Machine Project for maps, etc.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On the Knitting and Sewing Front

Our hectic travel schedule and computer woes at work have slowed the progress on Manon and the two-piece dress. The skirt pattern, Vogue 7607, is now discontinued.

The fake leather turned out to be a piece of cake to sew. I need to undo the stitching that holds the staytape at the waistline. It looks too shirred. I also haven't cut out or sewn the silk habotai lining.The skirt is tighter on the dressform than on me because I haven't had time for the second dressform fitting (after shell fabric expansion).

Mentally add the two sleeves above to the peplum below. Then add a sweater back that I haven't taken the time to photograph.

What I did over the weekend contains more pictures of the sweater.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Jacaranda Season 2009

We missed the peak jacaranda season in our microclimate. However, before we left for Boston, I took this picture of my favorite neighborhood jacaranda tree.

Isis street in Hawthorne north of Rosecrans and south of 135th.


We saw Up in 3D during our vacation. Bad Dad and the guy sitting on my left cried. I am going to have to see it again because my mind kept drifting. How did they cross the ITCZ (inter-tropic convergence zone) so quickly? Why didn't the rubber balloons ice and burst? I gotta stop thinking and just enjoy the movie.

A friend sent this link to a video to show what he's been up to. Congratulations, Pete!

I just love balloon experiments. Watching an object rise brings back the kid in everyone. I still remember Iris' delight the first time she encountered a balloon (at Onami restaurant in Torrance). Objects fall down, not up! She spent the whole dinner pulling on the string, watching the balloon go up and then laughing.

This vented polyethelene balloon is so large, it requires a tanker truck of helium to fill it. The balloon is carefully laid out on a groundcloth. If it gets dragged along the rough ground, it could easily tear. That would be a $100,000 mistake.

The payload would bounce along the ground and get wrecked before going aloft without the movable crane. At the critical moment, the crane operator reverses direction and pulls away from the balloon to release the payload.

You can watch them fill the balloon through the two "tentacles" (which later vent the balloon if it superheats too much in the stratosphere).

You can read more about the science experiment here.

The literary antecedents of 'Up' gives some food for thought.

Last Week in Pictures

Bon voyage!
Recognize this stabile?
Who are those people in red jackets?

Iris was disappointed at the (finite) length of the "infinite corridor".
They didn't let us handle this particular book, but they let us leaf through other classics of the genre.
Where can I buy a Smootstick for those times when yardsticks and metersticks are too short?
Emulating a student at one of the top 10 party schools in the nation*.
* Playboy's annual survey of party schools, circa Bad Dad's days at Senior House.

She was not taking a swig as I had joked; she was emulating a park ranger who had shown her how to tear open a paper packet of gunpowder with her teeth and load a musket (and then fire the musket at redcoats).