happy halloween


growl for windows updated

Version contains a few minor but often requested features:

  • Growl now starts up in the system tray only (doesn't initially show the control form)

  • Most displays now support a simple stacking routine so multiple notifications dont show up on top of each other (all Webkit-based displays as well as the Simple display)

  • The Simple display's visual style has been updated (hopefully improved)

Download the new version here:



the back deck isnt quite finished, but it is close. click through the slideshow below to see the transformation.

here are some close-ups of the progress:

footings poured

because the septic tank is close to the house, we had to frame around the openings so we could cut out some access covers

here is the lower portion with the decking in process

decking all finished on the lower portion

the upper portion is all framed in

the decking going down on the upper portion

we have to finish the decking on the upper portion, and then tackle the steps and railings, but at least it is semi-functional at this point.


tractor work

a couple of weeks back, we decided to start our landscaping in earnest. the first step was to get the 7-foot tall weeds mowed down so we could see what we were dealing with. We rented a tractor from the local rental place to do the job quickly: (you can only see a bit of it sticking up, but there is also several thousand pounds of broken up concrete in the back of my truck that came from removing the back steps so we could build the deck). after getting the tractor unstuck from the ditch, the mowing went pretty quickly. so quickly that we decided to do a little more 'tractoring'. i cleared the area across the ravine (including cutting down some trees that had fallen during previous windstorms). in the backyard, i was able to scrape back the edges of the yard up to theedge of the ravine and it added quite a bit of room for the yard. in the farthest north corner, i was also able to clear quite a large area that had been previously overgrown with brush and thistles. now that the areas are cleared, now it is time to have some one (professional) come in and level everything out so we can get started putting in the grass, plantings, walls, walkways, etc.


whistler trip

new pictures from my trip up to Whister are up in the outdoors section.



a couple of weeks ago, michaleen was going to wisconsin for a family get-together and eden was down in phoenix, so i had a week to kill. i decided to head up to Whistler to do some mountain biking. since i was going to be there for almost a week, i wanted to try to get in some other activities as well. after dropping michaleen off for the airport, i headed north to Canada.

after a little trouble getting across the border (apparently not having any hotel reservations or knowing anyone in canada made me seem suspicious), it was a nice drive up through Vancouver and along the Sea-to-Sky highway. they are doing a ton of road construction to prepare for the 2010 Olympics, but it went smoothly and i didnt get held up at all.

i had a list of three or four potential campsites near Whistler, and the first one i decided to try was the Cal-Cheak Provincial Park. it was almost deserted and i practically had the whole place to myself. i pitched camp and took a short hike around the area to check things out. there was a river running along the edge of the campsite with a cool suspension bridge that was real close to the water.

on wednesday morning, i woke up early and had a breakfast of scrambled eggs, mushrooms, and jalapenos, all rolled up in a tortilla. i set out for Whistler, which was only about 10 kilometers away. today i was going rafting, so i met up with the outfitters and we hopped on the old school bus for the drive to the put-in. we were rafting the Elaho river down to Squamish. shortly after we put in, we came to a spot where we could do some cliff jumping. the water was super cold (about 40 degrees) and you could see the waterfalls coming off of the glacier, carrying the melted snow and dumping right into the river. but, it sounded like fun anyway, so i took the plunge.

in what would become a common theme for this trip, i didnt get too many other photos because we were in the thick of the action most of the time. i did borrow one photo from the website of the place that was doing photography, and i got one picture of some of the scenery while we had a short lunch break.

although it wasnt the longest trip, it was fun and i really enjoyed seeing the area from the river's perspecitve. i headed back to my camp and had some beef filet grilled up on my coleman stove.

thursday morning i didnt get up quite so early, so my breakfast consisted of two granola bars instead. today i was doing the ziplines with a company called ZipTrek. they have two 'courses', the Bear and the Eagle, so i decided to do them both.

here we are, in all of our tourist glory, getting all roped up

the ziplines are up on Whistler mountain and cross back and forth over Fitzsimmons creek. there is an intricate maze of wooden platforms and walkways that zigzap through the old-growth trees.

it was a really fun experience, and it was fun to see how different people reacted. some people were definitely freaked out and one lady even asked if she could back out after we got up to the first big zip line (although she did end up sticking it out and finishing the course). there were lots of screams and death-grips on the harness, but i thought it was really fun and relaxing to whiz through the air.

in between the two courses, i had lunch at the Garibaldi Lift Company, which sits right next to the lower portion of the bike park. it was fun to watch the bikers come down off the mountain and get pumped up for the biking i would be doing the next few days.

originally i planned to do some alpine hiking on friday, but the Whistler gondola was not opening up for the season until the next day. there were a lot of options since Whistler in the summer is like an outdoor-adventure mecca, but i really came to ride so i decided to get in an extra day. it was nice to be able to ride the lifts up and bomb all the way back down with barely a pedal stroke. i hadnt ridden my downhill bike in quite awhile, so it was fun to get back in the groove and get more comfortable on it again.

one of the neat things about Whistler is that there are bears everywhere, and they are totally indifferent to people. from the lift, i would see bears on almost every other ride up. usually they were just eating some grass and minding their own business. one one run down, we came around the corner for a stop and there were two bear cubs about 20 feet off the trail, playing on a log and totally ignoring us.

we never did see mama bear, but since we were sure she was not far away, we moved on and left the little bears to play.

saturday and sunday were filled with more biking. i had signed up for the Richie Schley Freeride Camp, so i got to ride with some professional mountain bikers including Schley and Wade Simmons. we practiced cornering and jumping and drops, but mostly just rode tons of trails - some of which i wouldnt have dreamed i would have ridden normally. it was an incredible experience - the weather was awesome, the trails were perfect, and it was the best riding i had ever done. unfortunately, there was so much riding that it didnt leave any time for picture-taking. all i got was a shot of the lower bike park and the sign up at the start of A-Line (probably the signature trail at Whistler).

sunday night, i broke camp and headed home. this time the border crossing was a breeze - took about 15 seconds total. the trip was great and even with the rafting and ziplining and biking, i felt like there was so much more to do and i cant wait to go back!


Growl for Windows open-sourced

after writing the NetGrowl component to send Growl-formatted notifications from within .NET code, i decided that i would try my hand at writing an entire Growl port for windows. i had seen Snarl and even written some code for the lead developer Chris so he could send & receive Growl-compatible notifications from his app. but what i wanted was not a 'Growl-like' app, but *Growl* on Windows.

anyway, i went through a couple of early revisions and released some alpha code. several people tried it out and said it really worked great for them. i made a few more changes to support receiving notifications from websites, but after that, development pretty much came to a stop as i got busy with other stuff. i received some emails from people asking how they could help continue the development, so i finally decided to put the code up on Google Code for anyone to contribute to.

The project and source code can be found here: http://code.google.com/p/growl-for-windows/ - it is BSD licensed, so feel free to use/modify/steal/do whatever you want with it

although this is alpha code, it has most of the original Growl features implemented, including:

  • Fully compatible with original Growl for Mac

  • API for local and network applications

  • Notification forwarding to Mac or Windows

  • Experimental support for WebKit-based display styles

  • Interface for creating custom display styles

  • Ability to receive notifications from web sites

or, for anybody that just wants to try it out, you can download the latest version from here: http://growl-for-windows.googlecode.com/files/GrowlForWindows_1_2_1.zip


mt. hood

pictures from the mt. hood climb are up in the outdoors section.


mt. hood

last weekend i went down to oregon to climb mt. hood. sunday night we started at 3am and got to ride the snowcat up to the top of the ski lift (since the lifts dont run at 3am in the morning). from there, we climbed from about 8,500ft up to the summit at just over 11,200ft. we summitted around 6:45am or so, too late too see the sunrise, but still got treated to some beautiful views. the weather was unseasonably warm (read: super hot), but the climb was fun and i had a great time. not too many pictures since we only stopped a couple of times for quick breaks and only spent 5 or 10 minutes on top, but you can see the sunny weather and other cascade mountains (adams, rainier, and st. helens to the north, jefferson and three sisters to the south). all in all, a great day (minus the sunburnt lips and neck).


new house

well, it is finally official - we bought a new house. we dont have to be out of this one until the end of may, so we are hoping to move a little at a time instead of everything all at once.


trip to canada, eh

trip length: 3 days
cities visited: 2 (Victoria, Vancouver)
modes of transportation used: 7 (float plane, walking, bus, helicopter, train, seabus, ferry)


skagit river kayak

click on the picture below to read the full report.


skagit river kayak

this past weekend i took a nice kayak trip down the lower Skagit river. between December and February, the middle portion of this trip is a very popular place to view bald eagles, but i was about a month late for that. the weather forecast was calling for snow showers all weekend, and on the drive to the put-in, it was a snowy, slushy mess. i was thinking this trip was off to a bad start, but as i got closer to the starting point, the weather cleared up a bit and things started looking up.

i started near the confulence of Copper Creek, about six miles or so above Marblemount. here i am, ready to get going...

...and my trusty Swifty is ready to go as well.

the plan was to kayak about 16 miles or so to Rockport and camp overnight, then continue the next day another 16 miles or so to Rasar State Park. i had my tent and sleeping bag and a dry set of clothes all packed up in dry bags as i set out for my first ever overnight kayak trip.

most of the whitewater on the skagit is above where i put in, so i figured i would have a nice leisurely float ahead of me. for the most part, that was the case, but there were a few bigger riffles here and there to keep me on my toes, and even the flat sections were flowing very rapidly, do i didnt even have to paddle much and still sped down the river.

although the snow had stopped, there was still quite a bit of snow in the area (although you cant really see it in these pictures). there was also a layer of fog up above the river, and the combination of the crystal clear river, crisp air, blanket of snow, and hanging fog made for a very peaceful and beautiful float.

because the water was flowing so quickly, i made very quick time to my camp spot at Rockport. i beached the kayak and set up the tent, happy to find that everything i had packed had stayed nice and dry.

as i fell asleep that night, i could hear the rain and ice falling outside. i wondered what the weather would hold for the second half of the trip, and the next morning, i found out. i awoke to a covering of slushy snow and snow still coming down.

i packed all of my gear and stuffed my soaking-wet tent into a plastic bag and set off. i had never kayaked in the falling snow before, and it was actually very peaceful. i had plenty of clothes on to keep me warm, and my gear was keeping my dry, so other than the occassional snowflake in the eye, it was nice to be out paddling in those conditions.

the river was still moving very quickly, and with the falling snow and glacier-cold water (the water temperature was hovering around 40 degrees), i was cautious to make sure i stayed up right and dry. eventually, the snow stopped, followed by a short spell of rain, and then the sun came out. during the last 8 miles or so, the river widened just a bit and the flow slowed down slightly, making me have to paddle a bit more than before. i passed through some really pretty sections though and was content to keep my slow pace as i made my way down the river.

the last mile or so, the wind came up a bit and slowed my progress a little more. my take-out spot (Rasar State Park) did not have an actual boat launch, just some sandy beaches a few hundred yards from the actual park. that would make spotting the take-out from the river a little tricky, but yesterday before i started out, i had stopped at the park and walked down to the beach to try to get an idea of what the area looked like and committed it to memory. as i floated farther down the river, i kept a watchful eye out for anything that looked familiar, but from the view from my kayak, quite a bit of the shoreline looked the same. i finally saw some sandy beaches that looked extra familiar and made the correct guess that i had reached my destination. after having to carry my kayak and gear about 200 yards up to the park, my trip was complete. even though i was late in the season, i had seen about 5 or 6 eagles, tons of ducks and geese, and even a solitary beaver hanging out on the shore as i floated by.

thanks a ton to michaleen and crew for driving way out of their way to shuttle my truck for me. all in all, it was a very memorable trip and an area that i would like to explore some more.


Growl from Windows/ASP.NET

got a Mac and love getting Growl notifications from your favorite applications? ever wish you could get notifications from your Windows machines or servers as well? now you can! i whipped up a quick little library that can be used from almost any Windows application or Windows-based webserver.

to test it out, just follow these instructions:

1. first, make sure Growl is setup to listen for network notifications, and make sure to allow remote registrations. also, make sure your firewall will allow UDP traffic through port 9887.

2. browse to: http://www.growlforwindows.com/webgrowl

3. enter in your computer's ip address. leave the Port set to 9887. if you have set up a password in Growl for network notifications, enter that value as well.

4. type in your notification title and a short description and hit 'send'. you should receive a notification message on the computer running Growl.


remote Growl notifications are just a specially constructed UDP packet. the WebGrowl component is just a c# class library that abstracts the UDP packet creation and sending, making it as easy to send notifications as:

NetGrowl growl = new NetGrowl(ipAddress, port, applicationName, password);
growl.Notify(notificationType, title, description, priority, sticky);

since WebGrowl is a c# class library, it can be used from ASP.NET or a Windows Forms application. the library was also written to be COM-friendly, so it can also be used from VB6 or other COM-aware languages.

(special thanks to Rui Carmo @ The Tao of Mac (http://the.taoofmac.com/space/Projects/netgrowl) for documenting the the Growl UDP packet format)

[download library]