Monthly Archives: August 2010

Ubuntu 10.04 SSD Tweaks

Reduce “swappiness” to 0

This prevents the swap file from being used unless it is actually needed, preventing unnecessary write cycles on the drive.


Edit /etc/sysctl.conf by using your favorite editor :
$sudo gedit /etc/sysctl.conf

If the line doesn’t exist, you will need to create it.

After reboot vm.swappiness is 0

Enable TRIM (if applicable)

Uninstall proprietary (ie, video card) drivers first. The 10.6 cats included didn’t like the newer kernel and it really garbled up the video driver install process.

Update to a newer kernel. 2.6.33+

Edit your /etc/fstab file so your SSD line looks like this:

UUID=of your SSD here / ext4 noatime,discard,errors=remount-ro 0 1

After reboot TRIM should function.

Links I found useful:…1&postcount=43 (swapiness syntax) (fstab discussion) (link to Kernel versions and an explanation of how to update) (incredibly informative forum posting about SSD drives in general)



Tasty Chicken Pasta

What You Need:

2 Cups mulit-grain rotini pasta, uncooked
1 lb. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
1 & 1/4 cups tomatillo salsa
1 (10 oz.) frozen corn
1 Large Green Pepper, cut into strips, then cut in half
1 Cup KRAFT (guess where the recipe came from!) Mexican Style 2% Milk Four Cheese

Make it!

  • Cook Pasta as directed on Package
  • Meanwhile, heat large non-stick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium-high heat.
    Add chicken, cook & stir for 4 minutes. Stir in salsa, corn and green pepper, simmer on medium-low for 10 minutes or until chicken is done, stirring occassionally.
  • Drain Pasta. Add to chicken mixture, stir slightly. Top with cheese. Remove from heat, cover, and let rest for 1 minute or until cheese is melted.

Nutrition (Per Serving – 4 servings):

460 Calories
9g total fat
4g saturated fat
1020 mg sodium (!)
54g carbohydrates
42g protein


Kristin and I simply used four chicken breasts, which I cut into chunks. We added about 10 mushrooms and used three ears of fresh corn that we cooked and then cut off – this resulted in a lot of corn in the mix. For “salsa” we substituted 1.5 cups of Chi-Chi’s medium salsa.  Next time, we’d like to make some fresh salsa to make this a completely “from scratch” type recipe and hopefully further reduce that horrendous sodium content.  We also substituted in a whole box of Penne Rigata because it is what we hand in the cupboard, pasta is pasta 🙂

Kraft claims this is four servings, but we are looking at more like 7 to 8.

Final Thoughts

It was pretty good. I would suggest adding in some pepper for flavor and not to be scared of using spicy salsa. The medium Chi-Chis is decently spicy but it was completely mild in this dish. The fresh and slightly crunchy corn was delicious.

You’ll want to use a *large* saucepan for this. Ours was overwhelmed before even adding the pasta, so we served it up Spaghetti style by putting the chicken sauce over the pasta right on the plate.

If you might be looking for a way to use some corn, green pepper and salsa this would be an excellent and potentially quite healthy experiment. We wouldn’t post it here if we weren’t planning on making it again!


The drive home…

Sometimes, coming home from work can be complicated.  For instance, last night on the radio we heard about massive delays on 35W by Roseville, so we decdided, somewhat on the fly, that we would take some back roads to clear it and then get back on north of the issue holding up traffic.

As backed up as 280 was, I thought this was the case.  So, we tried to get back on at County Road D and I am glad we had the ability to see the interstate before we turned – evidently this is where the stop and go really started.  The helpful lady on the radio said it would take at least and extra twenty minutes to get by the accident area.  So we crossed over 35W meandered by an awesome looking park on Lake Johanna, got on Snelling, went north a ways, and then crossed back over.  Kristin picked up her CR-V and I took back roads the rest of the way home.

From leaving work (~20 minute walk to the car) to walking into the house, it took about an hour and twenty minutes to go what should have been ~25 miles.  Sheesh!  At least it gave me an opportunity to try embedding a Google Maps thing into the blog…

View Larger Map


Mt. Denali

Mt. Denali (still officially Mt. McKinley because of a cranky old Ohio Senator) is the tallest mountain in North America and is stunning in its height compared to those mountains that surround it.  When you first catch a glimpse of it, coming up from anchorage on the Denali highway, you might not think it is very impressive.  The key is that you are still some sixty miles away from it.  Even when you are closer, it is hard to fathom that the mountain in front of you and Mt. Denali peeking over it are some thirty miles apart.

Since we were in Alaska in July it was highly unlikely we would see the mountain.  It is so tall that the warm air hits it and consistently shrouds it in snow storms.  We lucked out and took a couple hundred pictures to prove it 😉

We were about 25 miles away at this point.

The foreground mountain was about a mile away, Denali ~35.

Towering above the plains, it climbs ~18,000 feet from base to peak.

The mountain is really quite awesome, in the truest sense of the word, to behold.  It would be incredible to see it free of clouds as you can during the winter.


Animals in Denali

Kristin and I spent two days in Denali National Park and together I think we took ~1,500 pictures there.  You can therefore appreciate that the following is a small subset of that 🙂

Also, these photos have already been cropped in some cases.  Because of how you view the wildlife in the park, the animals are usually hundreds to thousands of feet away.  Good thing I had a long lens!  Too bad it was soft at full zoom…

Any animals in particular you’d like to see more of?


Camping in IL – Pictures

A few pictures from lovely Illinois where we camped with Blake and Kaela Bemis. At least the weather wasn’t too hot…

I need to take a longer zoom lens out on these walks…


Youtube Management Fodder

Reading an Ars Technica article about how researchers have turned protein mapping into a game where humans can quickly overcome difficult challenges that baffle computers, I found a reference to this video in the comments.  Basically, it analyzes how rewards motivate workers.

Based on similar discussions in my classes at St. Thomas, this is actually quite a problem.  Paying people money is easy, offering them autonomy is hugely challenging and takes great managers.  I don’t want to sound like a whiner, but I find myself wanting more than a paycheck, too.


HHR – The Rental – Alaska

After leaving the rather hostile Hostel we went and picked up our rental car which was an interesting experience as always.

Enterprise Rent-a-car

We were picked up by Enterprise, which honestly was one of the big reasons we chose Enterprise as it saved a us a cab fare and some transit time.  When we dropped the car off it was handy to have transportation as well, they took me to the central bus station so I was able to get on the route that headed to the airport with a minimum of fuss.   The drivers were personable and professional each way.

The car we were picked up in, which was supposed to be our car for the trip, was a Dodge Avenger.  I am not a huge fan of Chrysler/Dodge so I wasn’t too excited about it in general but was willing to give it a shot.  Turns out that it was a moot point as its tires were worn to the tread indicators and so we refused to drive that out into the Alaskan countryside where travel books advise taking two full size spares.

Saturdays are a crazy day to rent cars in Anchorage in the summer, I had tried to rent a car in Fairbanks so that we could have flown into Fairbanks and out of Anchorage and in April they were all rented already.  Point being, there wasn’t anything really cleaned up and ready to go – but there was an  Chevrolet HHR that had just been returned.  Brad W. had told me to avoid this car at all costs, but hey, we wanted to get going and it had to be better than an Avenger, right?

Edmunds is OK on the HHR and we found it to be OK too.


  • A ~20 Gallon tank and 30+ MPG was exactly what you would want in Alaska where you can see signs posted that say “no gas stations next 85 miles.”
  • Passing power was sufficient at 55-60 MPH.
  • It does look pretty nice.
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System independently displayed each tires pressure and this is all viewable.  Due to past experience we are paranoid about wheels and tires on rental cars and this provided some great piece of mind.
  • Visibility was great out of the windshield when navigating rough terrain, etc.


  • Cup holders that managed to be as bad as what the old ’99 Mustang had.  They were hard to use, adequate to get to and there were only three.  We are used to the Honda CR-V or Passat where we have about 10+.  Having room for empties so they aren’t just rolling around in the car is something we are just used to.
  • Stock stereo was weak despite its plethora of input options.
  • More stiffness in corners would have been great.  Taking many long, blind sweeping curves on Alaskan ridge lines at ~70MPH was a little nerve racking.
  • Passing power with the small engine at 65-70 MPH took a little longer than was comfortable.
  • Abysmal storage space.  We had to keep putting things in the back seat as there weren’t good places for books, cameras etc in the front seat.  Again, our larger personal cars have likely spoiled us.
  • Use the side mirrors as the view out the back is constrained.
  • You have to look down at the center console shifter to see what gear you are in.  Since you are frequently using Low gear etc. when descending mountains, this was striking as pretty ridiculous.


Everything you want in a rental car (thrifty, easy to drive) with some traits that might make it an excellent commuter/secondary vehicle.  The HHR SS might be an interesting little ride with improved handling, performance and interior features with barely reduced fuel efficiency.