Wednesday, June 15, 2011


In my Christmas video I announced plans to move to Los Angeles in January 2012. After visiting again in February/March, I hoped to move even sooner, perhaps even this summer. I purchased moving boxes, and proceeded to box up much of my life. My parents have continued to be extremely supportive, more than I could ever ask. Though I had not decided an exact date, my departure seemed sooner rather than later.

Two months ago some financial “stuff” came up (an unexpected $1300 car bill being among that), and I forced myself to look at the reality of moving soon. Credit card debt + no tangible savings = not possible. Not if I wanted to give myself a chance at success.

Therefore, while I do still plan to move, I know I cannot responsibly do so for at least another year.

At first I was in denial. Once I reached acceptance, I went a step further, to what my boss and I call the 6th stage of grief: empowerment. Acceptance is passive, empowerment is active. I have the gift of an extra year; what am I going to do with it?

For one, it means I can fully commit to AWAKEN for the next season. I can visit close friends in Chicago in September. I can visit LA again over Halloween (somewhat fulfilling my promise to myself that I would be in LA by that date). I can continue Bad Movie Night with my friends. I can continue making movies with Roo and John and Erin. I can keep spending time with my friends and family in Minneapolis. I might be given the opportunity to attend WWDC12.

In short, I can take full advantage of this gift of extra time. It wasn’t my original plan - I think it will be even better. I have faith. I’m not used to waiting for things - I’m accustomed to the American culture of instant gratification. My forced delay will serve as much needed exercise in patience.

I want to close by reassuring you, my friends, my family, that I do not have regrets. Plans change, realities change, and I’m okay with that. I’m looking forward to this year. Because, when I look back at who I was and where I was one year ago now, wow, what an adventure it’s been. The next year will be no different.

Let’s go.

2011 48 Hour Film Project: "Lilies and Lullabies"

No typo, "lilies" is spelled sans double-L.

I flew back from San Francisco Friday night, landed at 8:30, my parents dropped me off at home, and I called in to Erin, my co-1AD on our 48 team. We had our genre: horror. Draft 1 was written, she ran me through the story, and confirmed call time for the next morning: 4 a.m. Ugh! I unpacked, went to bed, took a couple hours to finally fall asleep, and then nabbed a 3 hour nap before waking up to meet the day.

For anyone unfamiliar with the 48, brief synopsis: 7 p.m. Friday night is the kickoff - team leaders draw a genre, and are given a character name/occupation, a line of dialogue, and a prop. Teams then have 48 hours to write, shoot, edit, and turn in a 4-7 minute movie.

Saturday morning, woke up at 3, packed the car and got to the producer's house around 4:30/5:00 (I had permission to show up a little late :) Cast was already in costume - victorian dresses and corsets. Poor girls. Crew loaded up equipment into our cars and took off for the location: a beautiful house absolutely full to the brim of antiques, it's as if the entire house came straight from the year 1900. The owners are good friends of Erin, so we were able to tour the house two weeks ago and just fell in love with it.

Around noon we did our first dump of footage from the camera so the editors could start editing. That's right, we had a team of editors trading off throughout the weekend. Well played on our part.

Our crew was phenomenal. Very few interpersonal issues. And a couple people that I for sure want on every single movie shoot I ever do from now on, because they were that awesome. Really, overall, everything in the entire production went very smoothly. It probably helped that our core crew had just shot The Vacationers movie not too long ago, and for sure all our pre-production planning meetings helped us hit the ground running.

Our cast was also phenomenal. Scott, the house owner, stepped into acting at the last minute when another actor bailed. And he blew us away with his performance - he's completely a natural. Best part: we didn't even have to costume him, he just pulled something out of his closet, spats and all. And he whipped up a magic trick that we needed in the script. Our other actors were also exceptional. Considering how uncomfortable those dresses must be for long periods of time, no one complained at all.

We shot all day, wrapped at about 9 p.m. that night. We were all very tired. I went home, slept, and came back early Sunday morning after getting the wake-up call saying we had picture-lock. I brought my computer and did sound balancing, someone else did color, the composer worked on music, and another guy worked on foley. Then we brought it all together late afternoon and burned DVDs to turn in. The non-color-corrected DVD finished burning about 6 p.m., so John and Erin took that and went to the turn-in spot while Andrew and I waited for the color-corrected version to finish burning. It finished at 6:48, I literally ran out the door, Andrew started driving before I was even in the car, then we made it a block away from the turn-in and it was 6:59 - I got out of the car and RAN. I made it. Then we found out the deadline wasn't until 7:30. Which was great, except that my phone jumped out of its holster while I was running, and shattered on impact. Had we known the deadline was later, I wouldn't have been running. Lame.

I'm proud of our movie this year. Even the non-color-corrected version was good, so the fact that we had a good movie ready to hand in even if Andrew and I hadn't made it in time, that was a great feeling. I don't think it'll win the audience award - that almost always goes to a comedy, but our little Victorian ghost/horror story is not too shabby. And I'm usually a hard one to impress.

Sunday night after turning in the movie, our executive team went back to Andrew's house (base camp) and debriefed: a post-mortem analysis of what went well, and what didn't, and what can we do better next time. We did a lot of things well, and learned plenty to work on. I can't wait to shoot the next movie.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

WWDC11 - Thursday - Is it over already?

Tomorrow's the last day. My flight leaves at 15:00. I'll need to skid-addle before the lunchtime speaker is even done. Which is a shame, because I'm pretty sure he's going to be awesome. Not sure I can say his name, but... he was the second human ever to walk on the moon.

Each year a WWDC becomes more valuable to me. Since I actually wrote an app last summer, and with all the scripting I've done on my servers at work, the lessons-to-be-learned here become more and more applicable, and lab times to meet with Apple Engineers more useful. Got a bunch of questions answered yesterday about deploying Lion in my school and what that'll look like. And today, just for fun, got to shake the hand of one of the guys on the Speech team - the folks who make OS X's "Alex" one of, if not the, best computer voice out there. It was an honor.

I’m learning so much. About OS X, iOS, web apps, and even learning about WWDC and how to get the most out of it. Met some good people. Even another guy from MN!

Started re-working my app with the new Xcode beta seeded Monday. Put iOS 5 on my iPad - there are a couple noticeably very-awesome features. Which are NDA so I can’t talk about them. But they’re awesome.

Had a great evening hanging out with my friend Lisa yesterday, and she issued me a standing invitation to crash at their house anytime I'm in SF. I plan on taking her up on that.

Tonight was the annual Beer Bash. Michael Franti & Spearhead performed. They were good, I enjoyed the concert. Food was good, too. (can't comment on the beer - I hate beer)

Tomorrow it ends. Sigh. Not ready. I'm never ready. Why am I never ready to leave anything? Maybe it's a good thing - maybe I love every minute of my life. Maybe it means I'm scared of change. Maybe it means I lack trust.

Maybe I'm busy living in the present.

I found a bug near my code :)

Only at WWDC. The line for the men's bathroom. (while the women walk right on in)

Apple logo.

Monday, June 06, 2011

WWDC11 - Monday

Quick rundown of the day:

Went to bed at 8:30 last night, slept light (unfortunately) and woke up a little after 4 this morning, before my alarm. Thinking "surely the line can't be that long", I found my first ever use for Twitter: I searched for WWDC to see if anyone had tweeted from in the line. Sure enough, people had, and sure enough, there was already video of the line, wrapped around the block. Dang. I got dressed, ate my breakfast I'd bought to-go last night, and hurried down there. I arrived in line at 5:10, and was physically at almost the exact same spot as last year... when I'd gotten there at 6:20. Bunch of crazies, I tell you! And I was happy to be one of them. The first guy in line apparently camped out since before 7 p.m. last night. I'm glad I wasn't him.

As someone nearby me said, "you [Apple] can't buy this kind of publicity".

About 6 o'clock, the line started compressing, so we moved forward an entire city block, from halfway along the 3rd side of the building past the halfway mark on the 2nd side. My line-mates were very friendly, we all got along well.

AT&T's wireless became slower and slower as the morning progressed, to the point of being near unusable. Not that it's very useable to begin with, but it's even worse when hundreds of other people within a one-block radius are using the same connection.

It was cold, and a lot of standing.

A 8, they opened the building, by 8:12 I was inside. We got to second floor, and had time to eat, drink, and potty. At 9:35 they let us ascend to the Presidio (the giant room for the Stevenote). Photos of that in my other post.

Then lunch, then afternoon sessions (which I can't talk about), then I visited one of the labs and talked to an engineer to get pointed in the right direction on porting my iPhone app over to iPad.

Went to dinner at a nice Italian restaurant I discovered last year (and by discovered, I mean a homeless man actually recommended it to me, and I gotta say, he had good taste). Then meandered to an after-hours unofficial party - there are quite the handful of these all week. Got there early enough to get a free drink ticket, and a cool cup that lights up. But I boogied pretty soon after I finished my alcohol, because it was ridiculously crowded and that's just not my scene. And I didn't feel like waiting awkwardly for another hour and a half before the live music started.

Now I'm back in my room, settling in to watch a WWDC session from last year (on the recommendation of the engineer).

Photos from WWDC11

Registration (Sunday)

Golden Gate Park (Sunday)

Line outside Moscone West

2nd floor in Moscone, waiting to be let upstairs

Presidio! (before the Stevenote)

Lots of smart people.

Lots and lots and lots of smart people.

Sunday, June 05, 2011


It all began back in March at an Apple Education event: I jokingly asked Corey and Pete when dates for WWDC would be announced, and Corey mentioned that they (Apple) were expecting to sell out within 1 day.

That afternoon I went back to work and wrote a script to monitor the WWDC home page and text my phone if there were any changes. Literally the next week, my phone woke me up, and within an hour I was registered. Less than 11 hours later, the conference was sold out.

Now I'm here! I flew in to San Fran early this morning. I was lucky to have had a seat - when I booked my flight I'm pretty sure I was one of those "overbooked" passengers, since I wasn't allowed to choose a seat assignment; fortunately when I checked in yesterday (all from my iPhone, while on a walk, in nature) I had a seat number, so yay.

Had a wonderful flight. The people sitting next to me were really friendly, we talked more than half the flight, and the conversation didn’t seem forced. This is new for me - usually when I get on a plane my neighbor and I exchange pleasantries, maybe talk for a few minutes into the flight, and then that’s it, end of conversation until we land. Today, nice change of pace there.

Flight was shorter than expected and landed over half an hour early, I got a shuttle right away, no waiting, and was at my hotel before noon. Sporting my WWDC10 jacket, I hurried over to Moscone, snapped a photo, and checked in. Favorite moment: the Apple staff member saw my jacket and said "Welcome back". It's good to be back. Ever since they [finally] announced the sessions and labs on Thursday, I've been giddy. The official app is pretty sweet, too. In a nerdy I-can't-believe-I-get-to-be-here-I'm-so-freaking-lucky-and-happy-and-excited sort of way.

Got back to my hotel, dropped off my new WWDC11 fleece, then Google Mapped a path to Golden Gate Park. Walk two blocks, catch some form of public transportation. Ummm. Is it a bus? A train? A trolley? Uhh. I'll figure it out when I get there, I guess.

Or rather, I stopped in a gift shop and asked the cashier what she thought Google was trying to tell me; she said I could take that bus (ha! it was a bus! figured one thing out...) but it'd be faster to take the train - walk a block, go to underground station, take N train outbound. She even drew me a map, complete with hippies smoking weed in Golden Gate Park.

I don't take public transportation often. Or ever. So this was going to be an adventure. I found some stairs that went into the ground, and, assuming they'd eventually lead me to some trains, I descended. I found a ticketing area, where people were buying tickets. Maybe I should buy a ticket. Oh no. What ticket should I buy? There's a "Muni" ticket and a "BART" ticket. Umm... Oh, look, a sign that has the letter N in a circle, next to some other letters. I bet those are the trains. Okay, buy a roundtrip ticket, charge my credit card, check. Now there are cattle stalls with automatic doors in my way. Wave ticket by logo. This logo? No, not that logo. Not that one either. People going by on either side, I'm standing there waving my ticket all around and the doors aren't opening. Ohh, THIS logo! Wheee!

Down stairs, now there are tunnels on either side of me. Look! A train! Wrong letter. Disembodied woman's voice announcing arriving trains. Kind of soothing. And eerie. Mostly soothing. Wait patiently. Try to blend in. "Double train N-N outbound, arriving in 4 minutes". That's mine! Doors open, step on board, take seat, try and figure out how soon I'll to disembark. If only I knew how to read that map on the wall, I bet it would tell me. After some squinting and quick learning, I figured out how to follow the colored line on the map until it said my street names, and then I knew I was only a few stops away.

Anyway, long story short, I made it to Golden Gate Park, walked around the eastern-most part, saw some flowers, trees, a lake, hippies smoking weed (several offered me some, caught me off-guard). Anyway, weird thing about Golden Gate Park is there are giant ROADS cutting through it. Major traffic all around. At first this bothered me - this is supposed to be a relaxing park! Then after walking an hour and only making it one-third into the park, and Google Maps on my phone saying it was another hour's walk to the ocean, suddenly I understood why there were roads. That place is ginormous.

I never made it to the ocean - too tired, and turned around to start walking back. Grabbed a creep for dinner (they're spelled "crepe" but I call them "creeps" because it's funner), and took one to-go for breakfast. Because I'm gonna have to be up at 4 or 5 a.m. tomorrow to go stand in line with all the other crazies who stand in line for the Stevenote that early.

Waited for the train, found out there's a really really slick website where you can watch the trains live on a Google Map and it tells you how long until it gets to your stop. When I got back I stopped over at Moscone again - there's a bug in my WWDC app that's really annoying me, and since it hasn't been fixed in the two updates this weekend, I wanted to find out if anyone else is having the same issue. The info folks were super friendly, I showed them the bug, they told me they haven't heard anyone say anything about it (until now :), and then one of them filed a bug report for me.

Now I'm here, writing this. Almost everything else that happens this week is considered Apple Confidential and under a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), so I might not have many other blog posts this week, at least that are WWDC related.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Archiving/Backing up Snow Leopard Server's Open Directory fails silently

Technical post ahead

Six hours of my life. That's about how much time I spent chasing this solution.

My Goal

Automatically back up my OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Server's Open Directory database weekly, using launchd.

The Problem

I found an excellent script that does exactly what I needed. But when I ran it and looked at the backup folder it created, I noticed the OD archive didn't exist. At first I thought this was a Leopard vs Snow Leopard issue (the directions were a couple years old), but then after I tried archiving through the Server Admin GUI, I found the archive still wasn't created (even though no error gets presented to the user).


Googling somehow lead me to this command line:

sudo slapconfig -backupdb /path/to/backup

which as far as I can tell, is what the Server GUI (and also serveradmin CLI used in the awesome script) call under the hood.

Well that still failed with this error (which also appears in the /Library/Logs/slapconfig.log file)

Error in backing up keychain -25300
Error: Unable to create archive image as keychain could not be read

It was another clue to the puzzle, but not a solution.

I found this page: and tried some of the steps he suggested. My keychain item wasn't missing, though, so instead I tried renaming it, creating a new one with identical settings, no-go.

Found this page, built a test server (twice!) exactly like my production server, tried copying the keychain item over but couldn't get the system keychain unlocked.

Finally went back to Armagon's Isles site and re-read some of the comments, remembering there were other ideas there I hadn't fully tried. A combination of these two solved the problem for me:

MAY 17, 2010 7:39 AM
Anonymous said...
Same issue, finally resolved. In 10.6.3 I got the same problem as listed above. All efforts to use the above directions failed. After much mind bending, I realized that the server was referring to itself as "blankety-blank.local" in the Server Admin and "" in the LDAP reference. Poking into the keychain showed that it was pointed to the$ name in Account Name, not the .local$. I changed the Account Name to point to .local$, allowed all programs access, fired it up, and BAM, worked as expected. Yay.

MAY 18, 2010 1:47 PM
Thomas Orona said...
My server already had the keychain entry and was already set to allow all programs.
I ran hostname and compared entries. In my case the case was wrong in the keychain entry.
Once i changed the keychain to everything worked.

The Solution

In Terminal I ran hostname and confirmed my server is named with a capital letter, so I needed to rename the keychain item's Account from$ to Servername.local$. Then I ran the sudo slapconfig -backupdb /path/to/backup line and IT WORKED!!! Now I'm documenting it all in case this can help anyone else.

Of course, it'll probably all change when Lion lands. Now to go pack for WWDC :)