Beetle vs. Manhole

I had a little run in with a manhole last night. I was turning from Abram street onto Oak street in Arlington when I heard a very bad sound (technical term). The pitch of the engine changed, my dashboard beeped at me and showed the oil warning light. I was only a block from my destination so I drove on and parked. When I got out, my suspicions were confirmed, I was loosing all my oil.

In the morning I called for a tow truck and sent my little bug off to Hiley to get fixed. I got the call later that I was looking at over $800 damage to replace the oil pan and the transmission mount (dog bone). The good news is that I needed an Oil change anyway. My car should be ready later today.

I drove back to the scene. The man hole cover only sticks up about a inch but it is right next to a dip in the road creating the perfect bad situation. I’m going to let the city know but I doubt if they will do anything.

Consumers Digest

The Consumers Digest web site was originally designed by graphic artists in 1998. The original graphic design was implemented as a launch point into an Objective-C WebObjects 3.5 application where each link was a “Direct Action” into a specific category. Users could search through tens of thousands of products store in a huge Oracle database. Products of similar types could be dynamically compared.

The site was hosted by Tensor Information systems. When the site went live an invitation was mailed out to 2 million magazine subscribers so they could log in by just entering the subscription number on the magazine mailing label.

The site was able to handle 1000 SQL transactions per second. In the category of automobiles the comparison SQL became so complicated that a cache file of pointers was loaded up into shared memory to make the site run much faster. The entire application was optimized for the best possible performance.

Less than 18 months later the site was given an updated facelift and the engine was ported to Java and WebObjects 4.0. The website featured 4 databases. The first database stored customer information. Every customer action, search and comparison was logged. The second database contained a real-only customer database that was refreshed from the subscription list. The last two databases contained all the product data. One database was live and one was used for data entry.

The data entry and QA process was so intricate that a weekly migration process was used to move the content onto the live web site. The Website was capable of dynamically switching between the two databases without any downtime. Once the web site had switched over to the new content, the DBAs would refresh the old database and then the content editors to get back to work with their data entry. The result was a near zero downtime site.

The web site ran multiple instances of the application. When a new version of the application became available, a rolling restart of the apps would occur. The apps would get a message to kill themselves. They would change all their current sessions to a shorter timeout window and refuse new sessions in preparation. Once they had completed all their sessions they would shutdown and a new instance would come up using the new version of the software. The whole process was invisible to the end user. The site was shutdown as a result of some very bad reactions to other bursting bubbles and the magazine has not had a presence online since.


The Endyn web site was a graphical update to an existing web site. The new design featured brushed metal in liberal amounts. The site was converted from static HTML to ASP. Articles were moved into a basic article engine. A discussion forum was setup using Snitz with the same theming.


This is a reimagined version of Axel Ohmstede’s personal web site. It is still a work in progress being converted to Drupal.

Williams Trew

This real estate site was designed by an Advertising firm and then implemented using ASP.NET. This was my first project in ASP.NET for SohoPros. It was designed using a web services backend to fetch data out of a Microsoft SQL database. Searches can cross private listing and MLS listings for very unique results. Users can store search criteria to repeat searches on future visits. Images are fetched from a remote server, cached locally, resized dynamically, and displayed on the web site. Javascript is generated dynamically using the list of images. The web site takes advantage of simple mapping technologies. The site has not been updated since 2003. ASP.NET has some weird state problems. As a framework it is very hard to predict how it will write some HTML because it writes different HTML depending on the target web browser.

Wallach Law

Web site for Wallach, Andrews & Stouffer law firm. The web site was originally implemented in 2001 as a way to list information about the medical law practice firm.