Home Network Upgraded

This past week I upgraded my home network hardware for the first time since about 1997. I had been using a Linksys 5-port Workgroup Hub all this time, but I finally got tired of the near-constant red “collision” light activity, so I bought a Netgear 8-port Gigabit switch. I also bought a Netgear router to replace the Windows XP connection sharing, which freed up one entire computer on the network. These simple changes have resulted in a noticeable increase in my home network’s performance. (Sadly, only one of my computers actually has a Gigabit NIC — more opportunity for upgrading later. 🙂

SQL Server 2005 Migration

We recently completed a migration from SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2005 at work. Here are some of the issues I’ve had to deal with from an application perspective.

Apparently the locking scheme is different in 2005. We have had to pepper our SQL select and update queries with the locking hints “WITH(NOLOCK)” and “WITH(ROWLOCK)” to achieve any level of concurrent activity. As a programmer who likes cross-platform standards, it’s kind of annoying to have to Microsoftize what should be pretty standard SQL queries. It’s also annoying because SQL is supposed to be a declarative language, and adding locking hints specifies not what data to retrieve but how to retrieve it. I feel like the “how” should be more in the territory of the database administrator than the application programmer. (Although in my case, my team has limited database administration experience, so I’m happy to tackle locking issues myself.)

In SSIS packages, Fast Loading into a view no longer worked using the OLE DB data destination component. I’m not sure if it’s a driver issue or a database issue or what. SSIS returned an inexplicable “fatal error 606” and SQL Server reported some kind of metadata error. Disabling Fast Load took care of the problem. (It also loaded slower.)

Again in SSIS, the IsolationLevel seems to be much more important with SQL Server 2005 than it was with 2000. All my packages had been built with the default Serializable level, which now turns out to be the most aggressive locking and also happens to be the slowest and least concurrency-friendly in 2005. With 2000, it didn’t seem to be a hindrance.

I think the bottom line is that you could get away with a lot more laziness in 2000 than you can in 2005, especially in the areas of concurrency and blocking. For example, a transformation task that used to take 5 minutes in SQL Server 2000 without any special locking hints or indexes suddenly took about 5+ hours after migrating to SQL Server 2005, during which time it bogged down everyone else using the database. (This was an SSIS transformation.) Adding locking hints and table indexes sped up the process to a much more pleasing 30 seconds.

Name Change

I’m officially changing the name of this blog to “Krehbiel Commentary.” I’ve long disliked “Krehbiel Strikes Back” because 1) I’ve been trying to evolve away from needless sniping, and 2) it was pretty nerdy-sounding.

Immigration Frenzy

I’m late on this, but I guess the big national story is the dreaded immigration bill living to fight yet another day. Here in Virginia, where the conservative blogosphere has been pleading on a daily basis for people to call their senators and oppose the bill, the initial response seems to be stunned disbelief. (Both Virginia senators voted for cloture the other day.)

I caught a little bit of Glenn Beck yesterday; he seems to think there is a worldwide conspiracy by the power elite to “usurp” (his exact word) national governments and replace them with a global government, and this immigration bill is part of the plan. Or something like that. It’s the first time I’ve heard that theory, and I admit I didn’t follow his reasoning very well.

I still don’t understand all the vehemence of the opposition to this bill. I don’t think it’s a particularly great or effective bill but I don’t see how it’s any worse than any other bill Congress passes. I listen to conservative arguments (mainly “no amnesty” and “enforce the laws we already have” and “build a fence first”), but they all seem to boil down to literally arresting and deporting 12 million illegal immigrants, a task which I can’t imagine any conservative thinks is realistically achievable without some major, major blowback, if it can be done at all.

Anyway, there is another cloture vote on the bill probably happening even as I post this. (I don’t know why there is another cloture vote when they already had one, but the mechanics of crafting legislation often makes little sense to me.)

UPDATE: Immigration reform is dead in the Senate (again).

Are illegal immigrants safe from civil remedial fees?

(This was inspired by a bit of information in a blog post or perhaps a comment I saw somewhere in the Virginia blogosphere recently, but unfortunately I can’t find it anymore to give that person credit. Sorry.)

Virginia’s HB 3202 transportation bill has been widely criticized within the Virginia blogosphere for, starting July 1, charging “civil remedial fees” above and beyond the normal court fees for traffic violations. More recently, many bloggers, led by Black Velvet Bruce Li and Not Larry Sabato, have uncritically repeated the idea that the extra fines only apply to motorists with valid Virginia driver’s licenses, therefore exempting illegal immigrants.  This has prompted widespread concerns that “our government treats illegal aliens better than it does it’s own citizens,” in the words of Greg L at BVBL.

While the penalties do specifically target only Virginia “residents,” the text of HB 3202 quite clearly includes “persons operating motor vehicles without licenses or whose license has been revoked or suspended” (see references below). Therefore it stands to reason that illegal immigrants residing in Virginia without a valid driver’s license would be charged the same ”civil remedial fee.”

It is left as an exercise for the reader to determine the precise definition of a ”resident.”  (This writer has no idea.)

(It should also be noted that the widely cited $1050 civil remedial fee is only one of many. The fees actually range from $750 to $3000, depending on the severity of the offense.  The fee may be paid in three installments over 26 months.)

Quotes

– Greg L, An HB 3202 Disaster, June 23, 2007:

“If an illegal alien, driving without a license is convicted of reckless driving, will they be subjected to these penalties? Nope. Not only is the maximum fine for them ($1,500) lower than it would be for a citizen being cited for driving on a suspended license ($2,500), but because they don’t have a Virginia driver’s license, they’re exempt from the penalties.” (emphasis added)

– Not Larry Sabato, Illegal Aliens and HB3202, June 24, 2007:

“What Bob is talking about is the $1,050 part of the new fines that exempts anyone who is not from Virginia. While that is outrageous on its own- it hadn’t occurred to me until Bob left this comment that would also exclude people here illegally and still residents of other countries. So for the same crime, an illegal alien who lives on my street gets fined $1,050 less than I would” (emphasis added)

– Loudon Insider, Illegal Immigrants and Our “Representatives”, June 26, 2007:

“We Virginians get the pleasure of paying these fines, WHILE OUT OF STATERS DO NOT! And illegal immigrants – same thing. Isn’t it great what privledges you have as a citizen of Virginia?” (emphasis added)

References

– Exerpt from the PDF document prepared by the Virginia court system entitled “House Bill 3202/Chapter 896. Civil Remedial Fees,” widely cited by Virginia bloggers (an HTML Google cache is also available):

(5) Virginia residents only. The civil remedial fee is applicable to Virginia “residents” convicted of these crimes. The law provides that “The civil remedial fees established by this section shall be assessed on any resident of Virginia operating a motor vehicle on the highways of Virginia, including persons to whom Virginia driver’s licenses, commercial driver’s licenses, or learner’s permits have been issued pursuant to this title; and persons operating motor vehicles without licenses or whose license has been revoked or suspended.” (emphasis added)

– Excerpt from the full text of HB 3202 from the Virginia Legislative Information System: 

B. The civil remedial fees established by this section shall be assessed on any resident of Virginia operating a motor vehicle on the highways of Virginia, including persons to whom Virginia driver’s licenses, commercial driver’s licenses, or learner’s permits have been issued pursuant to this title; and persons operating motor vehicles without licenses or whose license has been revoked or suspended. (emphasis added)

Cynthia’s Mom’s Knee Replacement Successful

Cynthia’s mom underwent knee replacement surgery this morning (on both knees) and is now recuperating. The technology is pretty amazing — they literally replace all the cartilage and junk with some kind of synthetic stuff that bonds to the ends of the bone thingys. (As you can see, I am an expert on this subject.) Anyway, once she finishes healing, her previously always-on-the-go lifestyle will be but a snail’s walk compared to the terrifying speed-runner pace she will now be able to maintain.

Brace For More Negative Ads

I see that the Supreme Court has allowed political “issue ads” again. Personally I don’t see how those sorts of ads are helpful to society, but I guess it’s free speech (assuming you’ve got enough money to buy the ad time, that is). I suppose we’ll be bombarded by even more negative advertising from the big money lobbyists now.

Is negative advertising really effective anymore? I don’t know about anyone else, but whenever I hear the generic “scary candidate music” in a political ad I automatically assume I’m being manipulated by the candidate’s shady campaign consultants, and it’s hard not to laugh at the blatant transparency of it. Come to think of it, it’s hard not to laugh at any political ads anymore.

Has Jim Webb flopped?

Summary

In a June 22 post on the blog Sic Semper Tyrannis, The Mason Conservative claimed that Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va) has “flopped badly” because of the 44% approval rating he received in a recently released Survey USA poll. The verb “flop” implies that his approval rating has dropped, and it has in fact fallen from a peak of 54% in May, but, overall, Webb’s approval rating is 2 points higher — and his disapproval rating 6 points lower — than it was in January. Tracking the Survey USA poll results from January through June, Webb’s approval rating has fluctuated up and down, but largely within the poll’s 4.1% margin of error (see Survey USA track for Jim Webb below).

References

The Mason Conservative, “Virginia’s Great Mistake“, June 22, 2007:

Sen. “Yosemite Jim” Webb, who pundits claimed to be the next Andrew Jackson, a man who would redefine politics in America–has flopped. And flopped badly. … Jim Webb has an approval rating of 44%

Survey USA approval ratings for Virginia senators, January 15, 2007. Webb had an approval rating of 42% at that time.

Survey USA track of Jim Webb’s approval rating from January to June, 2007.

Matrix

This past week we signed a paper and made a deposit on a 2008 Toyota Matrix, which should be available in the Fall. This will replace Cynthia’s aging 1992 Corolla. We had to order a 2008 model because there weren’t any 5-speed 2007 models within 300 miles. Why is it so hard to find manual transmissions anymore?

Easy As Pi To Refute

Here’s something I’ve never seen before: I saw a link on Waldo’s blog to a post showing that the Bible says Pi is 3.0.

I typically don’t believe the hysteria that Christianity is “under attack,” but I have to admit this looks like a pretty clear attempt to agitate Christians for no particular reason. (Not by Waldo, that is; by whoever came up with this Pi thing.) I’m not a believer in the inerrancy or infallibility of the Bible, but even so, I can still poke a lot of holes in this Pi logic.

Here’s the “controversy:” We know Pi as the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, or 3.14159. However, I Kings 7:23 reads:

He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim [diameter] and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it [circumference].

To a person looking for ways to make fun of Christians, this indicates that God meant for Pi to be thirty cubits divided by 10 cubits, or 3.0. However, if you go back a little bit in the text, you find that the “He” referenced in the passage is a bronze-worker named Huram, who I guess is King Solomon’s engineer. So right off the bat we’ve wiped out the idea that “the Word of God” says Pi = 3.0. Even if you believe in the literal word of the Bible, the literal words are just a description of an object that Huram built. Huram is clearly not God, so he probably goofed up and made a slightly oval-shaped Sea (whatever a “Sea” is). The literal words do not say that the “circular shape” is supposed to be a perfect mathematical circle, either. And it certainly doesn’t say anything about Pi or ratios or division of any kind. It doesn’t say, for example, “And lo God said unto Huram, all perfect circles shall have a circumference of 30 cubits and a diameter of 10 cubits and that ratio shall be known unto you as Pi, go forth and build your temple decorations thusly.”

I like science and all*, but this is one of the lamest pro-science (or anti-Christian) arguments I’ve ever seen. If this were the only evidence against Biblical inerrancy, I’d have to score it for the faithful.

* I’m one of those weirdos who does not think science and religion are mutually exclusive.