Friday, December 30, 2005

The Big Blue Yonder

A coworker pointed me to this article: The Big Blue Yonder (Newsweek: MSNBC). “By giving away hundreds of its patents, IBM has turned a philosophical movement into a tangible business strategy. The company with the most to lose is Microsoft. A close-up look at the software war.

I think one of the things that the article failed to mention (even though it focuses on IBM) is that Microsoft has “given away” it’s products and pieces in the past because they were part of the larger whole: to everybody and everything Microsoft. They (for the most part) “gave away” Windows 3, 3.1, fW with the goal of getting Microsoft controlling the desktop and the foundation for eventual cash cows like Office (and in turn creating a huge side market for alternative desktops, then virus protection, etc.). Internet Explorer was “given away” for free, which eventually took Netscape out of the market. Windows Media player is also “free” and represents a future foothold through digital management (media is huge now, it’s only a matter of time

Those of us in the mainframe world remember having the ability to get source code to at least one of IBM’s operating systems. Redbooks on various topics are still available if you know where to look.

The article presents two sides: Microsoft and the rest of the world. They place SAP and Oracle on the fence in the middle. All points are arguable, but in this day and age anybody can argue a point to validity, so it’s not really worth arguing about.

It mentions Microsoft being on the defensive. Personally, the only thing that can hurt Microsoft is Microsoft at this point. I don’t think open-source, Java, and other non-Microsoft technologies will have an effect on them. It will be interesting to see where they want to take us in 2006 and 2007, which will have a bearing on the rest of the world of software development.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Grouchy's Gripe of the Day - Exploding Yogurt

I know this sounds stupid, but does anybody else take individually portioned yogurt to work for lunch? When you go to open that yogurt does it spit and splatter at you because it was pressure sealed?

This happens to me one too many times and it seems like the times I forget about the explosive contents of the yogurt I’m wearing something that stains easily and open with the pull-tab facing towards me. Before my dull brain realizes the danger it’s too late.

Pooofbthhh.

This doesn’t seem to happen with pudding, or other similarly packaged items.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Grouch versus Nature - the sequel

I’m not sure what I did to piss off Mother Nature, but her minions seem to have been actively working against me here of late. The most recent episode started with an innocent turd inside the garage near the garage door. At first we thought it was the neighbor’s dachshund that got free (as it does frequently) and stuck in our garage. The next night I returned from a hockey game to find some things on the garage floor. When I went into the garage the next morning, Christmas Eve, there were flower pots broken with dirt and crud scattered all over the place. There was something in the garage.

I informed the family not to open the house door until I figured out what was in there. Grabbing my knife and a hockey stick I went into the garage and quickly found a cute ball of fur sleeping in the small trash can we keep leftover bags of soil in. I poked the thing with the hockey stick and the cute ball of fur turned into an ugly ‘possum baring its fangs at me.

To make a long story short, I tried for about fifteen minutes to usher the thing out of the garage. It wouldn’t go. Not wanting to risk injury to myself or my family I took a shovel to it. When the full weight of the shovel on its neck had no effect I chased it around the garage with a steel support beam. After about 25 minutes I got the thing out of the garage and off my property.

The opossum caused about thirty dollars worth of damage to flower pots and aquarium supplies. This was a lot less than the mouse that peed all over my subwoofer enclosure, but annoying nonetheless.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Grouchy's Gripe of the Day - Portioning

Most of us have come to expect that the contents of every bag or box snack chips and cereal is going to be about 2/3 of the size of the box. Every time you open that big box of Cheerios you have to tilt the box so the ambient light extends beyond the cardboard to actual cereal. It has been documented all over the place. Packages and boxes stay the same or get bigger, the price stays the same or increases, and the product inside the box stays the same or decreases. Companies will spin this many different ways; “product research” tells us this is what the customer wants (bullpucky). My personal experience with the phenomenon has been with Morningstar Farms Veggie Breakfast Sausage Links.

I have been enjoying these meatless wonders for breakfast for well over a half a decade. Chuck them in the microwave with a bagel and two minutes later – yum. Morningstar Farms, however, has changed the product and packaging over the years, none of those changes seemingly benefiting the consumer.

  • they originally came ten to a thin box carefully arranged on a white try
  • one day, I opened a box to find the sausages had shrunk by about a centimeter (I had two different boxes, boxes and trays were the same, but the sausages were smaller)
  • they changed the white tray to a clear, flimsier tray
  • they increased the size of the box and started putting them into a sealed plastic bag instead of a tray
  • they decreased the number of sausages per box from ten to nine (which makes no sense – the serving size is two which means an extra sausage at the end or in my case where I eat four per breakfast a lone sausage left over
  • they changed the product made it - “better”, I detected no noticeable change in the product
  • they changed the box, graphically, rotated it 90 degrees, and made the box bigger, same product content
Remember, this entire time the price has been edging upward. The cheapest you can get these things is at Walmart for $2.99, unless you are close to a Trader Joes where you can get them for $2.69 or thereabouts.

My whole gripe is why lead me down this path, nickel and dime’ing me on a product I and my family seems to enjoy? People that like your product, notice the change. The people that are occasional buyers or only buy the product once in a while – won’t notice you are nibbling away at the value of the product as a whole.

I have seen this same thing happen with some cars. I owned and loved my dark blue, 1992 Mitsubishi Eclipse. It is still my favorite car. But to see how they have taken the nice crafted interior and craftsmanship and replaced it with cheap crap you would find on a Kia or Ford Escort. Plus the price has gone up $8,000. Yup - $8,000 more for cheaper parts and labor.

I thought about writing to Morningstar Farms, asking why they torment me so. But I suspect my letter would either go unread or will be answered in form-letter from someone working for pennies in a far away land. So I’ll probably stick to my sausages, taking them out of the oversized box after I purchase them so they actually fit in the freezer.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Armageddon PPV

I'm in somewhat of a funk right now, in mourning, just typing away mindlessly here at work. For giggles I analyzed the reports from the latest WWE pay-per-view and provided a list of what happened and what I think should have happened. I didn't order the pay-per-view; $20-$40 seems like an awful lot to spend on something that really isn't top-notch quality anymore.

JBL vs. Matt Hardy

What happened: JBL quickly squashed Hardy.

What should have happened: It doesn't really matter, neither has an interesting future right now.

MNM vs. Psicosis and Super Crazy

What happened: MNM won.

What should have happened: MNM lost the titles on Friday and Melina supposedly "warmed up" Batista before that match. They should have had the team come out of fewer than half the paparazzi usual part of their entrance, had them eventually lose the match even with Melina's interference and cheating, then have all three sulk back with little fanfare. This sets up multiple lines post and during pap-per-view.

Chris Benoit vs. Booker T

What happened: Benoit won his first to pull 3-1 in the best of seven for the US title in a "best match ever between these two".

What should have happened: Exactly that.

Bobby Lashley vs. William Regal and Paul Birchill

What happened: Lashley quickly won.

What should have happened: Young stars and an old veteran; nothing interesting to promote at this time.

Juventud vs. Kid Kash -- Cruiserweight Title

What happened: Kash gets a clean win.

What should have happened: Don't care.

Kane & Big Show vs. Batista & Rey Mysterio

What happened: Kane choke-slams Rey for the clean win.

What should have happened: Batista and Rey were fresh off the "Friday" win ofthe tag titles but Kane and Show were out for revenge from the previouspay-per-view. I would have put Kane and Show on the verge of a win only to have Melina (from MNM above) come out, fake assistance to Kane and Show but screw them over somehow to give the pin-fall to Batista. (This sets up her dumping MNM to leech onto Batista's fame, then assist with dumping him and the title when the next champion and more famous individual comes along, Randy Orton perhaps?).

Undertaker Vs. Randy Orton -- Hell in a Cell

What happened: Undertaker eventually wins.

What should have happened: The Undertaker formula is dated and needs a change; plus the guy should be retiring or at least diminishing sometime soon. I would have had the Orton's finally "kill off" the Undertaker - maybe not even bothering with the pin-fall; just put some magic dust and a cross on him then leave. The "body" would disappear and the pay-per-view would be over. Then, perhaps, have the Undertaker perform a Gandalf the Grey turning into a white-clad something (angel) that would gradually ascend through humility and shame to perhaps retake the title one last time before retirement (from Orton when he gets the title through Melina's treachery above). Title in hand, the white Undertaker would be called back to his true calling - "retiring" and leaving the title open (for a pay-per-view tournament showdown).

Monday, December 12, 2005

Cold Heat, does it work?

Cold Heat soldering toolI received some of my Christmas presents early this weekend. One of those presents was the Cold Heat battery powered/cordless soldering tool. So, does it work?

I took the device out to the garage with a pair of 12-gauge monster speaker wires. I figured this would be a more than adequate test if I could tin two ends then connect the two ends together. The tool did an adequate job of getting solder into the hair-thin copper strands that were twisted together to form the wire. When I tried to generate enough heat to connect the two wire I wasn’t as successful. Also, unlike the commercial where the guy solders something then immediately touches his finger to the tip to prove it isn’t hot anymore, the tool does stay hot a little while afterwards so don’t be an idiot and try emulating the commercial like I did.

This soldering tool is (was designed) for quick, short bursts of heat. It is battery powered and thus portable, making it a very handy tool for quick repair jobs where an soldering iron with a cord would be a pain in the ass. This tool is not good for heavy duty jobs or for extended use (like product assembly, or a lot of soldering).

Friday, December 09, 2005

Sharpening my C

Looks like I get to add C# to the list of computer languages that I either know or are fluent in. Our department is being prodded off other languages and development platforms onto the Microsoft world. A couple hours and about 6 gigabytes of storage later I have Visual Studio 2005 installed and ready to use on a freshly re-imaged workstation. When I look back at my life both professionally and personally I have dealt with my share of languages:
  • Assembler (6502 and 8088 micro, 370 and HLASM mainframe)
  • BASIC (DOS, VIC-20, Commodore 64, Apple ][)
  • C (DOS)
  • CL (AS/400)
  • CMS
  • COBOL (Microfocus Unix/Windows, MVS, VSE, AS/400)
  • Cold Fusion
  • Envision BASIC (UniBASIC)
  • HTML (if you consider it a language)
  • JCL (MVS/VSE includes JES and POWER)
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • PHP
  • PL/SQL
  • Perl
  • REXX (mainframe and AS/400)
  • SQL (Oracle, DB2)
  • UniData UniQuery
  • Unix BASH shell scripting
  • VBScript
  • Visual BASIC
  • Windows Scripting Host
  • XML/XSLT

Out of all the languages I like COBOL the best. COBOL has stayed consistently the same for decades and then some. It’s always been there, dependable and able to get work done in both a transactional and batch environment. COBOL has no real API; it is simply verbs and nouns in sentences. But for all the power COBOL has it sucks at many modern tasks like string editing and handling, flexible storage areas, and inter-program sharing of storage (especially with separately compiled run-units). For decades people have been trying to kill COBOL. It lives today running on mainframe and mini computer systems processing your bank accounts and credit reports, but the drive is to Java or .NET (C++, VB or C#).

Wish me luck as I embark on yet another learning experience. I wish it would be the last one but as with everything, it probably will not be.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

RIP Dime

It's hard to believe Dimebag Darrell was gunned down here in central Ohio one year ago to this day.

Lord (bored) of the Rings

I received the Lord of the Rings Extended Box Set in the middle of this week. I have already seen the theatrical versions of “The Fellowship of the Ring” and “The Two Towers” so I viewed “Return of the King” on Wednesday. About four and a half hours later (or so), it was over and I have to admit through the splendor and grandeur that is Peter Jackson’s trilogy I was glad it was over. It seemed like forever. I’m not sure if the first two entries will be as extended as the last was but it would be easy to sink into a sofa surrounded by munchies and just disappear for a day – just to watch the movies. There are still six DVD’s of extras and “Appendixes” to go through.

I did notice one problem when viewing “Return of the King” on my big screen using progressive video component output. The output freaked into white lines for a couple of scenes.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Attack on Pearl Harbor

Occurred on the morning of December 7th, 1941 at 7:53 am.

I studied the World War II Pacific theater quite heavily in high school. At one point I could name each ship at it's location in the harbor from memory. I have forgotten some of that knowledge but still remember where the Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma and Ward were docked or anchored.

I have Pearl Harbor on DVD but the attack and later raid on Japan were the only pieces that interested me in an otherwise boring movie.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Death or unga-bunga?

Did you ever have one of those days at work where you feel like you are one of the individuals given the choice of death or unga-bunga?

For those that do not know the joke:

Two men are captured by a tribe of savages. The chief walks up to the two frightened me and states “you have two choices: death or unga-bunga”, points to the first man and says “choose.”

The first man thinks about his choices then replies. “Well I don’t want to die. I choose unga-bunga.”

The chief raises his staff in the air and yells “unga-bunga”. All the savages yell “unga-bunga” and start dancing.

The first man is taken into the center of the village and the vilest of acts are performed upon him, over and over again for hours and hours until the man is simply a mere shell of what he once was. He is alive, but scarred for life.

The chief returns to the second man: “choose – death or unga-bunga.”

After witnessing the horrific treatment of his colleague the second man proudly replies “No human being should ever endure what that man did; I choose death!”

The chief raises his staff in the air and yells “Death, death, death by unga-bunga”.

It’s just like that at work sometimes. You have witnessed or been down a long and painful path and when given the alternative don’t see how it could possibly be worse; but it is. So you embark upon that long painful path again hoping that death comes quickly or salvation arrives.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tired of bleeding

It must be the weather drying up my nasal cavity, but for some reason about a week or so ago my nose starts bleeding out my right nostril if I blow my nose. I’m not terribly congested and all the boogers have dried out. I thought today my luck had changed or the thing finally healed up because I haven’t had a good bleed since Saturday. But, after lunch a nose blow led to a nose bleed.

I hope this isn’t serious. I doubt it is but Thanksgiving was a bitch walking around with tissue jammed up my nose three times.

More life in the 55-gallon tank

I can’t remember which site I read this on but it stated that the secret to breeding platies and other live bearers is that there is no secret; the female platy is almost always pregnant. I’m beginning to believe that.

When I turned on the lights on my 55 gallon aquarium I noticed one of my pearl gouramis poking it’s snout up and down repeatedly into the massive growth of green cabomba at the top of the water. Upon closer examination I barely noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. When I looked under a hood there were about a dozen and a half fry cowering in the thick growth of plants. I got about eight of them into a protective plastic breeding container, the rest will have to try to survive as the previous three did.

I’m fairly certain the live breeders, i.e. the platies, were the proud parents. The pearl and opaline gouramis are bubble nest builders and I would assume that any eggs laid amongst the bubbles at the water surface equaled food for the platies, other gouramis, flame tetras and/or Siamese algae eaters. The flame tetras are egg scatterers and I guarantee if their eggs were not food for the previous fish then dozen catfish or two plecos in the tank would have taken care of them. There are a pair of ottos and the two plecos in the tank but breeding them is next to impossible. So I think it’s safe to say one of the two female platies birthed dem babies.

Monday, November 28, 2005

War of the Worlds

This weekend I watched the updated Steven Spielberg version of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. The DVD was a Netflix rental, I did not see it on the big screen. I felt the same way about this movie that I did about Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith: I wasn’t terribly impressed. Unlike Sith, however, I’m not sure if a theater viewing would have helped with the experience.

“War of the Worlds” is about a dock worker named Ray (Tom Cruise) who is called upon by his ex-wife to watch over their kids; a slacker son (Justin Chatwin) and a modernized but typical allergy and affliction filled, “where’s mommy”, “I gotta pee” daughter (Dakota Fanning). Before Ray can awkwardly bond with anybody, a lightning storm causes a tall, mechanized, death-ray wielding camera tripod from hell to burst forth from the ground and just start frying everything in sight. The rest of the movie takes Ray and family across New York running from destruction, other people, death-ray blasting alien camera tripods, human grabbing and “processing” alien camera tripods, and strange mental cases planning attacks in deserted cellars (Tim Robbins). Then it’s over. Everybody is reunited and alive and relatively clean in mostly untouched Boston.

There are a number of ways I could review this movie. I could let it stand on it’s own as entertainment, I could compare it to “The War of the Worlds” (1953), or I could compare it to the H.G. Wells book The War of the Worlds (1898).

Standing on it’s own, War of the Worlds is almost a good movie. The movie is pure spectacle. It could have been a special effects “spooge-fest” but it isn’t; which is a good thing or a bad thing depending upon your viewpoint. The alien tripods were one-hundred percent believable. The aliens themselves were somewhat hokey looking. The plot was well sequenced but the cellar sequence was far too long and the ending was blatantly abrupt and disgustingly “happy”. The acting is above par, although most seem to hate Cruise’s mono-faced performances and Dakota Fanning’s constant screaming.

When compared to the “The War of the Worlds” of 1953 I would rate it slightly worse. It’s shocking when you realize that half a century separates these two films. The 1953 version was much better in most aspects, from the adaptation to the acting. Fifty two years of special effect evolution makes a massive difference but when compared to each other on equal ground the 1953 version still holds the edge on application and usage. I like their aliens better, too. I also liked the inclusion of faith in the 1953 version. The finale in/outside the church, the last sanctuary of humanity with all hell breaking loose outside, seems wholesomely realistic.

It has been about 28 years since I read the book and the black and white comic book that I obtained with it. I would have to re-read the book to make a comparison. Spielberg changed his version to have the alien machines hidden beneath the earth’s surface for what is presumed to be millions of years or at least before the genesis of man. Spielberg also kept the origin of the marauders hidden.

Most reviews of War of the Worlds attack it on the basis of sloppy science and use of political correctness. I think if you are one of those people, you are entitled to your opinion but I’ll consider you somewhat (or maybe entirely) an idiot. I program computers. I know there is no way in bloody hell that a nerd with a laptop could interface with, let alone write enough program code to be a destructive virus on a massive, planet-sized alien mother ship. My brother is a genetic chemist and knows dinosaurs cannot be grown from DNA in the belly of skeeter encased in amber. That didn’t prevent either of us from enjoying Independence Day or Jurassic Park. Frankly I don’t care if an EMP would prevent a camcorder from working, or if death-rays are the most inefficient ways of exterminating humanity, or if bacteria should have killed the aliens when they buried their machines millions of years ago. I also don’t care if this movie was sickeningly politically correct by not identifying the aliens as Martians, or having the pathetic single-dad, or that joining the Army is a worthless cause, or that occupations never work, or that human nature is really pathetic when you get to it, or that every impossibly grave situation will have a clean, happy ending in Boston. I felt the same way when I reviewed Land of the Dead.  If you can’t enjoy a movie because of social commentary or can’t accept the impossible in the name of entertainment they you have no business reviewing a movie or really discussing it openly. I think War of the Worlds would have been much better off without that social commentary but it wasn’t a deciding factor. I think Tom Cruise is a total whack-job outside of Hollywood, but on film he usually delivers acceptable to good performances.

To summarize, I’m glad I rented War of the Worlds. I probably would have been mildly disappointed if I had viewed in a theater or purchased the DVD outright. There weren’t enough special effects to make this a must have in collection and I don’t see it as a classic I watch over and over again.

IMDB
Rotten Tomatoes
Mr.Cranky

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Star Wars (trilogy and III)

I received my fairly sizable order from Deep Discount DVD yesterday (all except for Lord of the Rings Trilogy Extended Boxed Set; extreme plus three special Hobbit feet vorpal bunny edition). I am now current with Simpsons DVD collections and picked up the Star Wars trilogy (IV through VI) and Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith.

I was a little surprised at the cheapness of the Star Wars boxed set. The flimsy cardboard “clip” or end-piece covers a somewhat weak box structure. You would figure the magnificence of Star Wars would feature something more than a cheap package. I haven’t watched the discs yet but I expect my kid, GrouchyTeen will be one with the DVD player today. I’ll expect a report when I get home.

I watched Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith last night on the widescreen. I wasn’t terribly impressed. It was a good movie, probably one that deserves a massive THX approved cinema experience complete with screaming children, psycho fans, and people barking orders at on-screen characters that have not hope in God’s green earth hearing the warning that a mean wookie is going to bean them with a giant, purple, electric cotton swab.

Spoilers ahe… ah, who cares.

The movie is mostly about Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi trying to end the Clone Wars between the Republic and the Separatist forces while Padme walks around pregnant and Supreme Chancellor Palpatine makes a massive power grab for the Sith at the expense of the Jedi. During this time, Palpatine is mind-goozling Anakin over to the “dark side” of “the force” to replace the old, but still bouncy and spry Count Dooku. The droid army is led by chain-smoking droid, General Grievous. At the end, all but two Jedi are dead, Palpatine is in control, and a dismembered, disfigured, horribly burned Anakin is transformed into the ominous, jet black, light-saber wielding vacuum-cleaner we have know for years as Darth Vader.

Uouououohhhhhf, paaaaaaaaah. Uouououohhhhhf, paaaaaaaaah.

The special effects are magnificent, breathtaking and in some sequences just mind numbingly confusing. Had I seen this at a theater I probably would have had a couple of seizures. The simple but perfect opening sequence of Star Wars (the looming star destroyer) has been replaced with about a thousand ships and camera sequences that would make roller coaster designers green with envy. The story itself is good, fairly well told, and didn’t have me wondering when it was going to be over (unlike the previous two movies; I and II which had me clock watching). Most performances were exceptional, except for Hayden Christensen (Anakin) and Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine) which I found more annoying than inspiring. The talking droids are annoying. Why would a droid say “Excuse me” (both polite and Steve Martin dialects)? Why bring character to objects that shouldn’t have character? The DVD technical specifications have more letters than the Greek alphabet, so they must be good.

To summarize: Jedi good, Sith bad. The DVD was worth the money paid for it but honestly won’t be watched much in the future: something for the collection but not viewed over and over again.

IMDB
Rotten Tomatoes
Mr.Cranky

Getting old

Getting older is painful

Yesterday I practiced soccer for about 20 minutes during lunch hour at work. I’m still fairly flexible, which is good and bad. Good because I still feel young and muscular. Bad because some of that flexibility means I’m more prone to injury, especially in my hands and feet. As the foot doctor said once: “See how I’m twisting your ankle this way? You shouldn’t be able to do that.” He recommended that any time I play soccer I wear ankle braces. I can understand that given the uneven and bumpy playing surfaces in the central Ohio area. The hardwood floor of our gymnasium, although flat, isn’t the most forgiving surface. Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night to take a leak I cannot put weight on that heel because it hurts so badly.

Should have, could have, didn’t

Sometimes I wish I knew more about investing. Well, maybe not more about investing but I wish I had the instincts others have when it comes to investing. I can stuff my brain full of knowledge but I can’t apply that knowledge at the right time then that knowledge is just taking up space in my brain that could be used for a song or vivid image. My 401K is diversified, which keeps things balanced. Index funds have traditionally been the best performers but whenever I consider consolidating around them they dip while other markets do well. Stock purchases and stock options from my former employer are crap. Both options packages have strike prices well above current value of the stock, with a break even point higher than that (unless you are the CEO, thanks asswipe). Every time I think about re-entering the stock market I remember a line overheard at a dinner conversation “the market can’t be all winners, we need those losers too”. That for the most part is true. Someone has to buy stocks before they tank, someone has to cover the shorts, what goes up will come down. Most smart investors are in it for the long haul while making obvious short term gains to improve position. For all my technical expertise my brain cannot efficiently manage beyond safe liquid investments. Hopefully that will change as I get older and spend less time on career and more time on the future.

Career?

As I get older it will be increasingly harder to compete with the college graduate and foreign person willing to work for a portion of my salary. These fresh lumps of clay haven’t been twisted, obscenely shaped and hardened in the fiery kiln of business like I have. They haven’t experienced the politics and sometimes sheer idiocy of the common job experience. This makes them exploitable, where I’ve seen it all before. Instead of questioning why proven technology and years of experience are being thrown out the window in favor of something different, these lumps of clay will rush into the fight and code and code and code. They’ll make mistakes along the way and code and code and code around them. When all is said and done a new system that does a little bit more than the old system at a slightly cheaper up-front cost while most folks that will use the new system will suddenly realize the old system really wasn’t that bad.

I’ve considered a career in management, although that prospect is less appetizing than fighting the kids and foreigners. Not only will I still have to deal with managerial idiocy above me, I will have to enforce and disseminate it to those beneath me who probably think (and perhaps do) they know more than I. Maybe if I stay for the long haul I’ll gradually go insane; then ascend to upper management where everything will suddenly make sense. Then I’ll be too old, have to retire and will spend my remaining days on the xNet2 arguing politics and wondering why our hockey and soccer teams still suck.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Bad documentation and examples

If there is one thing that drives computer programmers crazy it’s ineffective product documentation and examples that are either poor or simply don’t work. My latest beef is with Oracle 9i database documentation.

The first problem was last week and to be honest I don’t remember the exact details. When the weekend comes I purge by brain of everything so I restart fresh as a daisy on Monday. I’m fairly certain it had something to do with index only tables and the example copied verbatim from the book did not work. Using deductive reasoning I figured out what I was doing wrong, tried something and fixed the problem. The other problem dealt with bind variables on EXECUTE IMMEDIATE statements in PL/SQL code.

I have two functions that will select from different tables depending upon what fiscal year is requested. Don’t ask, it’s an ERP; we had no input on table design. It was simple SQL so nothing extraordinary was required. EXECUTE IMMEDIATE seemed like the logical choice. Using bind variables instead of text substitution in the query string is supposed to be a better performer (one copy in the SGA, techno-babble, yada yada). I modeled my SQL after the most realistic example in the book. When I executed I got a bind variable not defined error.

I tried replacing “:1” with the bind variable names like “:i_lo_id”; same problem. I knew they worked because a function above it was working perfectly. Maybe it was because I was using more than one? I looked at the Oracle example again after giving up on my code. All of their bind variables were numeric. There were no examples for VARCHAR2 or DATE types. I wish my brain would have regressed back to my embedded SQL in COBOL days, then I would have realized you do not need quotes on a character field when binding it to an elementary item; simply use something like :WS-CHAR-VALUE. My mind locked into the examples in the manual and it took the weekend (where I forget everything I did the week before) to reset my brain and find an excerpt from an O’Reilly book that pointed out type conversions on bound variables.

Duh, stupid.

Long story short: I wasted a good couple of hours on my virgin experience with bind variables in EXECUTE IMMEDIATE PL/SQL statements. All it would have taken was a good example showing the most common data types: VARCHAR2, NUMBER and DATE. Thank goodness for the Internet and others who have documented things better.

I figure I’ve seen crummy, unrealistic examples in over twelve computer languages and half dozen APIs. I’ve had friends who suffered long hours with Borland, Microsoft and IBM support trying to figure out why something straight out of the book that should be working wasn’t. Microsoft’s Windows Scripting documentation is chock full of examples that simply don’t work.

It gets tiring after a while and it doesn’t get any easier.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Politics as usual... Iraq

Although I probably shouldn't, I'd like to weigh in on the recent discussions over the "War in Iraq". Things have become somewhat nasty inside the nation's capitol recently mostly due to democratic leadership vocally arguing their points to the President's policy (or lack thereof) in Iraq. Some items will vary but one common point seems to be the need for a time table for troop deployment and return.

What is wrong with a time-table?

Defining a time-table for events in Iraq would give terrorists one of the most powerful weapons in any conflict; a weapon forgotten by most – time. Is it any coincidence violence escalates around specific points in time like elections, global conferences, etc? Is there better time to drive home your point than just before something that will affect your cause occurs? Also, if terrorists know that troops will be reduced on a specified date they have two advantages. Terrorists could simply wait it out for reduced numbers then escalate violence and plan around that date; focus attention elsewhere. Giving milestones to U.S. troops also gives milestones to terrorists. The only positive I see coming from that would be the slight increase in the margin for error leading to the capture or killing of terrorists as they too now have pressure from deadlines to accomplish goals.

The current administration line "we are staying until the Iraqi government no longer needs us" is acceptable. It sets us in for the long haul and that we aren't going away until our job is done.

Personally, I would like to know a plan with milestones exists. I wouldn't want those details made public, but it would be nice to know that a strategic plan exists. It probably does exist in some shape or form.

Winning the war

I don't think this war can be "won" outright. The world can win battles against terrorism but it will never "win" the war. The "war" is ongoing and will always be ongoing until we are all dead. As long as there is religion and people willing to pervert it and die for it there will be terrorism. Terrorists fight the way they do not because they are cowards but because they have to. How else can a small number of radicals fight a massive, well-equipped, technologically advanced army? They can't go head-to-head, that would be a quick and easy massacre. The only means to their cause is random acts of terror; the car bombs, the improvised explosive devices, etc. They will always be there just like drugs, both equally addictive and appealing to a minority of extremes.

When I see the administration speak of "winning the war" on terror I just cringe.

Political motivations

Here is another thing that just makes my stomach do somersaults: recent accusations and arguments are politically motivated.

Well, DUH!

Every damn thing in Washington is politically motivated. Am I supposed to think that a democrat spouting off about Iraq is not politically navigating public opinion in favor of his/her party? They are just as bad as republicans who highlight successes in Iraq while angling public perception of the entire situation to make it appear their party is doing a good job. One side is just as bad as the other. Lost in the mess are the leaders from both republican and democratic that are working together for long term goals and common ground while the more radical knuckleheads with loose lips on both sides get the majority of the press.

It makes me ill just discussing it.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

OSU vs. Michigan - hype and passion

Well it is finally over at the Ohio State Buckeyes have prevailed over the Michigan Wolverines. I have to admit, I watched the entire game this year because I wanted to. This is a change of pace from previous seasons where I simply didn’t care because of the massive amounts of hype surrounding the game.

Hype?

Maybe it has always been there and I just haven’t noticed it but to me it seems like the local media hype surrounding Buckeye football has increased to the point of being overpowering. Some local radio stations kiss so much Buckeye ass year round I’m surprised coach Jim Tressel has time to wear pants. Every year is saturated with coverage.

Local radio has plenty of “Buckeye Football Reports” even when nothing is happening. My favorites are the player interviews during the off-days between practices before the season starts.

“So what are you doing with your days off?”
“Umm, I’m going to relax a little and catch up on school work.”
“How about you, what are you doing with your time off?”
“Umm, relax and catch up on some things.”
“We asked defensive tight-end so-and-so what he will be doing.”
“Relax. Study.”

Well, duh. The week leading up to the Michigan game is usually the worst. It seems like every news story revolves around Buckeye football somehow. “A plane crashed in the city of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia killing all aboard and dozens on the ground. No Buckeye football players were on that plane.” This year, the Columbus Blue Jackets acquired one of the more recognizable names in ice hockey and easily the most recognizable player in team history when they traded big fan favorite Tyler Wright and Francois Beauchemin to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim for superstar center Sergei Fedorov. That news was second and even third fiddle to preparations leading up to “the big game”. Local news television sets take on a noticeable Buckeye motif. Scarlet and grey dress codes are probably enforced.

It has all been too much for me. I think about four years ago I just shut it down mentally whenever this week came around. I ask my parents about it and they are sick of it as well. It’s just too much.

My girlfriend is from Michigan and up there the main rivalry is between Michigan and Michigan State. Travel north of the Ohio border and you will see the maize and blue “M” flags flying most places but there are prominent pockets of Spartan flags flying as well. The whole “rivalry” seems to take place solely in Ohio. You will find significantly more Michigan flags flying down here amongst the numerous and varying Ohio State flags. Up in Michigan, however, the only sign of Ohio can be found on vehicle license plates. If I were a scientician or something I might infer that people go to Michigan to get educated then move to Ohio for employment.

Hype justified?

I typically get upset when I get saturated with Buckeye football coverage, especially when something a practice or an off-season interview with the coach takes priority over things like results from a game or game day discussion of a non-Buckeye football sport; namely Crew soccer and Blue Jacket hockey. I’m sure some Clippers baseball fans feel the same way. Heck, sometimes these sports take a back seat to non-playoff local high school football. Yes, coverage of a high school football game gets priority over a sport that can regularly put 12,000 or more butts in seats. Is all this hype and coverage justified?

To put all this hype and coverage in perspective I look at how my favorite sport, soccer, is covered outside of the United States. Soccer, or football as it’s known outside North America, is considered to be a world sport and is probably the “world” sport. In some nations there will be other sports that are equally if not more popular. Rugby is popular. Cricket is also a big sport in places. Baseball is also a popular sport in a few countries. Mostly though, it is soccer. Entire countries are shut down in preparation for an important soccer match and shut down in celebration of a win. Trinidad and Tobago recently proclaimed a holiday just for qualifying for the World Cup. Some fans of soccer are so passionate about their sport and their team they will turn to violence to support it. Watch any German or French game and note the colorful and energetic support found at each game. I would love this type of celebratory attitude here in the United States, but is not going to happen.

Football (i.e. pointy ball or grid-iron football) is the big sport in the United States even surpassing baseball. We have our coverage. We have our celebrations. We have our violence as well. Ice hockey and soccer are not going to replace football (or baseball) in my lifetime. Although I would love to see a fairer amount of coverage for soccer and ice hockey here in Columbus, I now understand and accept why things are the way they are. I accept the parties, tailgating and celebration surrounding Buckeye football. I will also learn to be more receptive to Buckeye football in the future. It’s not because it’s fair or not fair, or because frankly the Crew and Blue Jackets have done little to warrant otherwise. It’s because the majority of pride in Ohio here in Columbus is behind the Buckeye football program. The Crew and Blue Jackets will still get my support and I will still wear their colors, but the Buckeyes now have a place here as well.

By the way, it was a great football game. Early excitement, suspense, the feeling of defeat, then last second jubilation. In those last forty seconds I was feeling the same pride I feel when I watch the men’s US National soccer team play.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Cleaning up the Inbox - part one

Cleaning out the Inbox at work...

Andy Rooney said on "60 Minutes" a few weeks back:

I don't think being a minority makes you a victim of anything except numbers. The only things I can think of that are truly discriminatory are things like the United Negro College Fund, Jet Magazine, Black Entertainment Television, and Miss Black America. Try to have things like the United Caucasian College Fund, Cloud Magazine, White Entertainment Television, or Miss White America; and see what happens... Jesse Jackson will be knocking down your door.

Guns do not make you a killer. I think killing makes you a killer. You can kill someone with a baseball bat or a car, but no one is trying to ban you from driving to the ball game.

I believe they are called the Boy Scouts for a reason, that is why there are no girls allowed. Girls belong in the Girl Scouts! ARE YOU LISTENING MARTHA BURKE?

I think that if you feel homosexuality is wrong, it is not a phobia, it is an opinion.

I have the right "NOT" to be tolerant of others because they are different, weird, or tick me off

When 70% of the people who get arrested are black, in cities where 70% of the population is black, that is not racial profiling, it is the Law of Probability.

I believe that if you are selling me a milkshake, a pack of cigarettes, a newspaper or a hotel room, you must do it in English! As a matter of fact, if you want to be an American citizen, you should have to speak English!

My father and grandfather didn't die in vain so you can leave the countries you were born in to come over and disrespect ours. I think the police should have every right to shoot your sorry ass if you threaten them after they tell you to stop. If you can't understand the word "freeze" or "stop" in English, see the above paragraph.

I don't think just because you were not born in this country, you are qualified for any special loan programs, government sponsored bank loans or tax breaks, etc., so you can open a hotel, coffee shop, trinket store, or any other business.

We did not go to the aid of certain foreign countries and risk our lives in wars to defend their freedoms, so that decades later they could come over here and tell us our constitution is a living document; and open to their interpretations.

I don't hate the rich. I don't pity the poor

I know pro wrestling is fake, but so are movies and television. That doesn't stop you from watching them.

I think Bill Gates has every right to keep every penny he made and continue to make more. If it ticks you off, go and invent the next operating system that's better, and put your name on the building.

It doesn't take a whole village to raise a child right, but it does take a parent to stand up to the kid; and smack their little behinds when necessary, and say "NO!"

I think tattoos and piercing are fine if you want them, but please don't pretend they are a political statement. And, please, stay home until that new lip ring heals. I don't want to look at your ugly infected mouth as you serve me French fries!

I am sick of "Political Correctness." I know a lot of black people, and not a single one of them was born in Africa; so how can they be "African-Americans"? Besides, Africa is a continent. I don't go around saying I am a European-American because my great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather was from Europe. I am proud to be from America and nowhere else.

And if you don't like my point of view, tough...

For those who don't have time to keep up with the medical journals

In Pharmacology, all drugs have two names, a trade name and generic name. For example, the trade name of Tylenol also has a generic name of Acetaminophen. Aleve is also called Naproxen. Amoxil is also called Amoxicillin and Advil is also called Ibuprofen.

The FDA has been looking for a generic name for VIAGRA. After careful consideration by a team of government experts, it recently announced that it has settled on the generic name of Mycoxafloppin.

Also considered were Mycoxafailin, Mydixadrupin, Mydixarizin, Dixafix, and of course, Ibepokin.

Pfizer Corp. announced today that VIAGRA will soon be available in liquid form, and will be marketed by Pepsi Cola as a power beverage suitable for use as a mixer. It will now be possible for a man to literally pour himself a stiff one. Obviously we can no longer call this a soft drink, and it gives new meaning to the names of "cocktails", "highballs" and just a good old-fashioned "stiff drink." Pepsi will market the new concoction by the name of: "MOUNT & DO."

What is a committee?

A group of the unwilling, picked from the unfit, to do the unnecessary.

Good, better, best...

1) Good

An Erie, PA policeman had a perfect spot to watch for speeders, but wasn't getting many. Then he discovered the problem. A twelve year old boy was standing up the road with a hand painted sign, which read "RADAR TRAP AHEAD". The officer then found a young accomplice down the road with a sign reading "TIPS" and a bucket full of money. (And we used to just sell lemonade!)

2) Better

A motorist was mailed a picture of his car speeding through an automated radar post in Pittsburgh, PA. A $40 speeding ticket was included. Being cute, he sent the police department a picture of $40. The police responded with another mailed photo of handcuffs.

3) Absolute Best

A young woman was pulled over for speeding. As the Pennsylvania State Trooper walked to her car window, flipping open his ticket book, she said "I bet you are going to sell me a ticket to the State Troopers Ball". He replied, "Pennsylvania State Troopers don't have balls". There was a moment of silence while she smiled, and he realized what he'd just said. He then closed his book, got back in his patrol car and left. She was laughing too hard to start her car.

Kinfolk talking???

Bubba and Homer were sitting in back of their trailers, shooting the breeze. Bubba asked Homer, "If I snuck ovah to yore house while you wuz out fishin' an' I made love to yore wife, an' she got pregnant, would that make us kin?"

Homer scratched his head for a bit then said, "I don't think so, but it shore would make us even."

Monday, November 07, 2005

Grouch versus Nature

There were two other encounters with nature this week in addition to the deer that humped my car last week.

I was up on my roof this weekend, which is not a good thing for someone with a mild fear of heights. The part where the builders screwed up and didn’t have the trim on the highest roof matching the lower roof was invaded by birds. I cleared out a rather sizable nest before shimming up all cracks and holes, nailing the shingles down tight, then foaming up every remaining hole no matter how small.

It was also a nice weekend to work on the garage so I cleaned that out. While cleaning I found we had at least one little visitor; a little grey field mouse. As cute and innocent as they are, this one did some damage. The little bugger used the subwoofer box from my old car as a toilet. Out of all the cardboard boxes you could have called home you decided to climb up the carpeted box, make a nest, a pee-pee all over it. That box stank. Once thing I will say, the person who made that ported enclosure for me ten years or so ago put some quality workmanship into it. That thing was solid as a rock. Unfortunately the rodent urine penetrated into the particle board. At least the 10” Orion sub-woofers are still intact and the 50+ wood screws, four PVC pipe ports, and the poly-filling are still usable. The rest of the box is in the trash.

I’m beginning to wonder what I did to deserve such back karma from Mother Nature. I keep fish, is that it? Maybe it was not taking in and giving a home to the stray cat and her five kittens that roamed free in my area for a couple of days? Maybe I’m being too much of a push-over, heck I’ll catch spiders and turn them free outside before the girlfriend steps on them in a panic.

Oh well, all I know is a deer, a mouse and some birds are digging into the holiday money and knowing my luck I soon be hospitalized for a poisonous spider bite while trying to rescue the neighbor’s wiener-dog from a tangled bush.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Dear deer

Would the deer that humped the front passenger side of my vehicle last night please have the decency to die on my doorstep?

Thanks...

This was just a crappy end to a crappy day. Thankfully it was in a 25mph zone in Pickerington (one of the speed traps, so I was going 25mph) and in dense fog at night. The paper thin steel on the hood bent ever so slightly and the busted headlight is a modular unit; I'm guessing $120 for that piece alone. Hood is around $120. The total for repair will probably be just over the deductible. I am guessing with labor it will be over the deductible by just $60...

#*%$@*!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Bored?

Are you bored? No games installed on your corporate workstation or laptop. Stuck in a meeting with that computer? Still bored? Well here is a neat little time waster. All you need is a:
  • scrolling wheel mouse
  • access to a web pages with a large table of contents (Google Oracle SQL Reference and find an available site)
To play:
  1. Load the page and go to the bottom of that page
  2. Place the mouse just below dead center
  3. Click the center scroll wheel once; the cursor will turn into dot with four directional triangles
  4. Move the mouse up and the cursor will become an up arrow and the screen will scroll down, the farther away from center the faster it will scroll
  5. The goal of the game is to get as far left as possible without touching text while "flying" as fast as possible
  6. Repeat until you get caught or you are no longer bored
Neat huh?

Yeah I was pretty bored.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

How much SPAM do you get?

Main Yahoo! account
Created in 1998 and still my primary mail account. Used exclusively before anti-SPAM measures used.

  • 7 to 15 SPAM messages each day
  • 120 to 300 messages delivered to Bulk Mail each day
  • Most SPAMs contain previous mailing addresses, usually in reference to mortgage rates

Alternative Yahoo! account
Created in late 2000 and used heavily from 2000 through 2002, rarely used anymore.

  • 3 to 7 SPAM's each clean out
  • roughly 800 messages delivered to Bulk Mail when I clean it out each week.

Work account
Used rarely externally, anti-spam protection used.

  • Occasional SPAM.

Spam account
From Spam Gourmet. Used heavily for all external mail.

  • Your message stats: 664 forwarded, 306 eaten. You have 87 disposable address(es).
  • The most SPAM to this account comes from online newspapers, SBC, the SPAM address, and the "gaming" account I set up for my kid.

GMail account
Rarely used. Publicly available on one message board.

  • No SPAM yet.

Insight Road Runner
Never used.

  • Occasional SPAM.
  • One account somehow got onto a mailing list for a bunch of religous wackos (mistaken identity, they thought I was somebody else); still get occasional mail from them.

This blog

  • Five SPAM.
  • No SPAM since message validation was turned on.

I've had to clean up my girlfriend's computer once due to eMail viruses (keylogger and phisher). I've been saved at least three times from viruses that work in Explorer but do not work in or are neutralized by the Opera browser.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

"2 Fast 2 Furious" 2 annoying

I watched a DVD the other day with the missus, "2 Fast 2 Furious", a rental the kid selected. Wow, DVD's are starting to become annoying. The "2 Fast 2 Furious" DVD was by far the most annoying of the all. This DVD forces you to sit through three or four previews (I was too furious to remember) before you get to the copyright warning, which sits for the mandatory 15-30 seconds. Then you have to pick your car color from a menu before you get to the next menu. To play the actual movie you have to sit through another ten to fifteen seconds of unnecessary cut scenes and fancy menu transitions.

What is this? Why, why, why

I want to watch a movie, not be forced to sit through previews for movies I'll never watch. That's why I got the DVD, so I don't have to sit through six to eight previews at the damned theater. I'm just glad this wasn't a DVD that I have purchased

Regarding DVD content:

  1. if a DVD is going to have previews either a) if you are going to jam them in front of the movie then allow the viewer to fast forward or go directly to the menu; b) place the previews on the menu and allow the viewer to select them if he or she wishes to.
  2. keep the animation on the menus to a minimum; go from element to element instead of forcing the viewer to sit through six to ten seconds of animated transitions
  3. make the menus fairly easy to view, navigate and read – I hate having to go down, down, down, down, down, right to get to the next menu page; can't we simply have a linear up-and-down menu, or how about numbers?
  4. how about bypassing the menu altogether – assume that if the viewer puts a DVD in the player they want to watch the movie and if they want the menu to view extras take them there after the movie or let them press the menu button.

One thing I am curious about; what to people think about putting the full screen version on the flip side of the wide-screen version. I like this idea for two reasons:

  1. it eliminates the confusion and innocent ignorance for gift givers; some who might not know the difference between the two
  2. I have a wide screen projection television in my room and picture-in-picture on my LCD monitor (so I can watch stuff while programming or writing in my blog) which looks much better with full-screen movies

By the way, the movie was average – not worth a rental but not so painful that it required therapy afterwards.

Friday, October 21, 2005

My first PHP "framework"

I just wrote my first "framework" in PHP5. Granted it is very, very bare but it marks a radical change from the way I used to develop in PHP (just after the dinosaurs died off and everything still had a .PHP3 extension on it). Now before I get skewered for not doing this in .NET or not using an existing framework or not embracing Java (Java server pages and EJB's) or really following object oriented programming and the MVC methodology strictly to the letter let me just state that I am part systems programmer, part application developer, part database programmer, etc. There is just too much for my brain to process and I like to do things that to me make straight-forward sense.

I started with the controller; which is simply index.php with defines and requires. The required includes are:

  • Init
  • Common functions and classes
  • Templates
  • Actions
  • Done

The init code sets globals and not much else.

The common code will define common functions and classes used by all other nuggets of code.

The template code defines a parent class for common template properties (like title), methods for handling caching generated body output, methods for raw text input, and methods for common manipulation of buffered data.

The actions code handles the requests, dispatching them to separate included files. Some includes will be sub-structured depending upon common requirements. Some actions are ID based, like "show" and "wiki" and "test". Each included module will create one of the child template objects (defined above).

The "done" code will clean up any common messes, which isn't much.

One of the things I do not like about most frameworks written for PHP is they always define classes and variables even if they will never be used during the GET. For example, if no database access is performed then why include the database code to define the classes and variables, or worse yet – make a database connection. The only time this should happen is if every single page generated by the framework has some database element.

One reason why I'm attempting to keep things straight forward and simple is because eventually my host will force me to be limited and simple. Having Apache2 and PHP5 running on my workstation with full access to our Oracle system and SQL servers and mySQL locally (if I want) is wonderful. If I copy this to my own domain, however, I might not have the luxury of even mySQL being available.

The important thing is I learned something and it works for me (so far). All I need to do is "pretty" it up with some CSS and fill in the setHead and setAss methods of the XHTML child class and I'll be happy. Oh well, it's late on a Friday - I should be going home now. Have a nice weekend everybody!

Bumper stickers

from work

Bumper stickers we would like to see...

  • The proctologist called ... They found your head.
  • Everyone has a photographic memory ... Some just don't have any film.
  • Save your breath... You'll need it to blow up your date.
  • Your ridiculous little opinion has been noted.
  • Impotence... Nature's way of saying "No hard feelings!"
  • I Used to have a handle on life... But it broke off.
  • WANTED: Meaningful overnight relationship.
  • Guys ... just because you have one, Doesn't mean you have to be one.
  • Some people just don't know how to drive... I call these people "Everybody But Me,"
  • Heart Attacks...God's revenge for eating His animal friends
  • Don't like my driving? Then quit watching me.
  • Jesus loves you... But everyone else thinks you are an ass.
  • If you can read this... Then I can slam on my brakes and sue you!
  • Some people are only alive because it is illegal to shoot them.
  • Try not to let your mind wander... It is too small and fragile to be out by itself.
  • Hang up and drive!!!
  • Welcome to America... Now speak English!!!

Ubuntu "Breezy Badger"

I received a copy of Ubuntu Linux "Breezy Badger" (must suppress Holy Grail jokes) to play around with an install on a spare IBM ThinkCentre Model 8183-36U here at work. The live CD booted fine and the distribution appeared "human" enough to use so I decided to install it.

The GRUB boot loader does not seem to want to work off the hard drive, apparently others are having some problems as well (just with AMD64 machines). The loader stalls dead at the GRUB loadings stage1.5 text. To get around this you have to <Go Back> after it ejects the CD when the first stage of installation is complete, choose "Install the LILO boot loader on a hard disk" (the CD will remount), eject the CD then reboot. The install does work with LILO.

During the second stage of installation there were a couple ACPI error messages (hmmm) and some Bluetooth informational messages. This is being picky but personally I don't want to see those messages on the same screen location as the installation status windows; it looks poor and you lose information when the windows update.

Total installation time on a Pentium 2.8 GHz computer was about sixty minutes or so.

Other notes:

  • The root account is disabled by install, the user created during the installation has administrative rights on the system and can run programs as root with sudo using only their normal user password.
  • The software update manager is pretty nice.
  • I don't personally have a preference between Gnome and KDE desktops, In fact I've always thought the whole fight between the two is just as stupid as some Linux vs. Microsoft and Mac vs. the World arguments. The earth tones on the desktop are pleasing to the eye if not a tad small even for me on the 19" LCD
  • The Starter Guide is a good place to start (well, duh).

I'll post more as I play with it more. One of the bad things about all of these Linux distributions is that it takes a good amount of time to play with them all to see which one works best. I wish the FreeBSD support would have been better in some areas because I felt at home compiling kernels and installing software by making it.

Quick shout out

Just a quick shout-out to the leather repair guy at Bigdog Motorcycles of Columbus (611 E. Broad Street Columbus, Ohio 43215) for fixing my leather jacket in 14 minutes instead of the 14 days and at half the cost of everybody else.

It's good people and services that make this country great a better place to live in.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Why the WWE sucks nowadays

My pro-wrasslin' viewing has gone from religious (i.e. every week) to occasional and I don't seem to care anymore. So I decided to list the top five reasons why I think my viewing habits have changed (it definitely isn't because I have matured).

1. They split brands (and didn't use them)

The "brand" split was desperately needed to adequately promote and make money off of a saturated roster. Unfortunately, the rosters for the tag-team division, cruiser-weight and the women's divisions suffered because they were smaller than the singles roster. Raw got the women's division, which did well at first but eventually fell to diva-ism. The cruisers went to Smackdown and were too few in numbers to make an impact and rarely were given a chance. The tag teams stayed in both brands, which meant one or two real "teams" plus whatever leftover singles wrasslers needed time getting paired with one another. Only with a few pay-per-view events do the two ever meet and I personally think they are missing out on a great opportunity to promote competition (and in turn material that spawns off and keeps the viewer interested).

2. They decimated the women's division

Remember about a year or two ago when the women's division was the best as far as overall wrestling? You had Molly Holly, Trish Stratus, Victoria, Gail Kim, Jackie and a couple others I'm forgetting. At that point in time they could have realistically been the main-event on Raw (I think they did, once). The point is: back in those days there was enough trust placed in the women to actually wrassle instead of valet. Lita bled, Victoria and Trish went hardcore. Then, without warning most of them were gone, replaced by a glorified bimbo contest. What's worse is that the WWE lucked on to a genuine talent in Christy Hemme; simply put the woman is nuts. An (arguably) attractive red-head willing to do anything (as an appearance on Howard Stern proved), with the persona to got nuts on everybody providing hours of story material and they literally do nothing with her.

3. There is little or no aspiration

Every wrassler should be aspiring to win gold at the highest level; a championship. The only exceptions to this rule would be the psychotic monster role (happy when hurting people, thus no need for gold) and the nemesis role keeping others from achieving success. Wrasslers nowadays get stuck in temporary storylines to get them to the next pay-per-view at which point that storyline will be forgotten altogether to build another feud for the next pay-per-view with little or no continuity. Only a few wrasslers are allowed to be part of title aspirations, most of the time to get to the next pay-per-view. This whole building of temporary feuds with no background to get to the next pay-per-view is ridiculous.

4. They decimated the tag team division

Tag-team wrasslin' has been an integral part of wrasslin' for years. From the Minnesota Wrecking Crew to the Road Warriors to the Dudley boys there have always been marketable icons in the tag-team realm. There are no viable tags teams left in the WWE. The only thing close is the "new" Legion of Doom with Heidenreich replacing the late "Hawk" and Christy in Paul's place. It's hard to build legendary tag teams when the talent for each is scrambled across two brands. It was just as hard back in the days when the The Hardys, The Dudleys and Edge and Christian were the central figures for years, buy they made it work.

5. New talent hasn't cut it (or been given the chance)

Week after week the people cutting the best promos and wrasslin the best matches are the veterans that have been in the business forever. Last week the 100 year old Rick Flair came out, bled to death twice over a suit, then went hunting Hunter with a baseball bat. He came across a legitimate whacko. Austin delivered another classic Austin promo. Kurt Angle is on the rampage. What is everybody else doing? People, myself included, are tuning out because we don't want to stay up on a Monday or watch TV on a Friday to watch Flair or Hogan carry a load because the rest of the roster cannot.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

My new house, five years later

Back in the year 2000 I went with one of the big name builders to build new house. It is now five years later and I can be fair commenting on it.

I know for a fact (from a former foreman) that there is a distinct difference in the services you get depending upon what class of housing you build; class meaning $90,000 to $160,00 or over $200,000. The houses are mostly the same parts just but the lower class houses do not get as much attention and they also do not get the better contractors. You are "nickel-and-dimed" at this level as well.

During construction:

  • the framers did an adequate job
  • they lost the plans, causing a four week delay
  • the pipes in the cement in the lower bathroom that travel upstairs were sealed in cement two feet outside the location they were supposed to be at.
  • the folks putting up the wood sides smoked and discarded the butts in piles of sawdust
  • the plumbers screwed up two of the four faucets
  • the low-voltage wiring guy was a complete asshole
  • the drywall people covered up two electrical outlets and one handing lamp box
  • the painters did the entire house in roughly 80 minutes
  • the house was not completed at wallk-though
  • the main support beam for the ground floor was leveled with a plywood shim
  • people urinated in the sump pump
  • the painters were called back twice to paint tops of exposed closets and areas underneath vaults, both plainly visible to anybody upstairs
  • the painters were called back three times to fix their numerous mistakes and omissions
  • the downstairs toilet never worked and once the papers were signed the agent stated I would have to fix it myself or wait for the 90-day.
  • the water people left giant muddy footprints in my basement
At the 90-day walk through:
  • the gutter was never fixed
  • they refused to fix the carpet because it would cost too much
  • they "fixed" the wood shim with a piece of cinder block
Five years later (and within that time):
  • the highest roof was not centered over point of the lower one, providing three locations for bird to enter my attic
  • there are four unique spots on my floors that creak when you step on them
  • the nails used on the drywall are popping in most rooms
  • there is a crack in the basement cinder block wall next to the support beam that was "shimmed"
  • the linoleum in the bathroom (not complete at time of walk-though) is now curling
  • the cement under that linoleum (that has to be dug up when they misplaced the pipes) is chipping
  • the basement floor has separated from the cinder block walls in most places
  • the upstairs master shower had to be resealed, they cheaped out on the caulk which allowed water to get outside the unit.
  • the upstairs shower pipes "thump" occasionally
  • the wood mailbox became infested with hornets (as have others in the area)
  • there is a small leak that lets water trickle from the roof, down an exhaust pipe, to a bathroom fan
  • there is a board in the roof that thumps when the wind blows really hard

Would I recommend one of these builders? Almost a resounding "Hell no!" They do offer better interest rates than you could get on a pre-owner home, they pay all the points and take care of a lot of fees. You can watch them like hawks but even a season construction professionals like my cousin and a friend managed to get screwed some way.

This speaks volumes about the quality of workmanship in everything nowadays. We have technology to make our jobs better but we don’t seem to be doing a better job. If I were to guess I would say it was a combination of the company trying to cut costs and increase labor output at the expense of quality. If a guy is getting paid a certain amount to do four electrical "kits" per day, then they want five, then six per day – quality suffers. Also, some people just don’t care anymore – especially if you aren’t paying them adequately. Compare the one guy that painted my friend’s house to the two guys that did mine (first pass). It took the one guy about six hours to paint the entire house; his house looks good. My two painters waltzed in with their bucket, blasted "Village People" music on a boom-box with one working speaker, literally slopped the paint on, went to their truck for a smoke, finished up then drove away.

My grandparents have a solid house they have lived in for decades. It stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It doesn’t sound like it’s going to come apart when it storms. It was also built by contractors and engineers that had the time, knowledge, and pride to do things right. Sadly I see very little of that nowadays from houses to cars to computer systems.

As a computer programmer (software engineer?) I try to take pride in my work and do things right. A lot of the time I am forced not to by management. Every time that happens I get that little sickness in my belly that feels similar to eating too much Taco Bell. I feel the same way about my house sometimes. If you spend six figures on something you damned well better get some pride out of it and not get nickel-and-dimed. If I spend $150,000 or your product would it hurt to spend $5 more on screws instead of nails or $2 for a damned furnace filter?

F--- that company that built my home who shall remain nameless for legality sakes; although you can probably figure out the words of their name down to the letter with two hints.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

"Dead" the television series

This is an extension of the "Land of the Dead" post below, more specifically the idea of an ongoing television series. I would simply call it "Dead".

Premise

"Dead" the series would blend elements of the four George Romero zombie horror films into an ongoing series. "Night of the Living Dead" was set in a rural atmosphere. "Dawn of the Dead" started in the media then progressed to a shopping mall. "Day of the Dead" covered the military and scientific side in an isolated environment. Finally, "Land of the Dead" takes place in the future assuming all aspects of military and government have been destroyed, leaving two distinct social classes in a claustrophobic fortified setting. The series would start in urban settings but include characters from a rural setting. Running parallel would be a government and/or military environment that would eventually include a scientific aspect. The urban settings would fall quickly into chaos leaving small pockets of humanity in the story. Rural settings would hold their own against the outbreak due to even victim to attacker ratio and a less dense population (does not spread as fast). Various urban (the mall), military (secret base) and rural (various terrain) sub-plots would emerge and hold for a while. The rural settings would maintain humanity until they are undermined by humanity, i.e. their eventual downfall would be at the hands of man, not zombie. As the rural and urban settings fall, the isolated military settings would take stage until they collapsed upon themselves. The series from that point forward would stay in the fortified pockets of humanity building and evolving themselves until a logical end of the series could be reached.

Characters

The "zombies" would be the main characters but never the "stars" so to speak. To bring a more scientifically believable aspect to a scientifically impossible situation would require some alteration to the zombie profile. Zombies would start out as what is referred to as "rage" zombies like "28 Days Later" and the "Dawn of the Dead" remake; fast and horrifically violent. Days later the zombies would denigrate as they fight off the things that make zombies impossible: rigor mortis, muscle loss due to energy expended without metabolic replacement, etc. The final result would be the grotesque "shambler" present in Romero's movies.

Protagonists:

  • the rural character(s), surviving but ending up in the fortified urban setting
  • the news media personality, urban
  • the mall security guard
  • the scientist(s)
  • the crooked individual turned good by the outbreak, urban, leadership
  • the urban refugees: a nurse, a strip-club owner, a dancer, etc.

Villians:

  • military leaders poor in their leadership roles
  • a Hollywood mogul (eventual leader of a fortress city)
  • the cowardly bigot
  • the independent know-it all
  • the bigot

Timeline

The timeline would start in an urban setting, mostly to get the rapid escalation within a believable context. That was one thing that I didn't like about "Night of the Living Dead", for a mostly rural setting the disease (just calling it disease for simplicity, who knows what really causes this) spread quickly. The DVD extras for the "Dawn of the Dead" remake had some good ideas that involved media hysteria and racial tensions that let the outbreak evolve quickly before anyone understood what was going on. The rural and military settings would integrate themselves. Eventually the three settings would have to fall leading to the fortress cities.

Pilot (urban)

  • Starts in rural settings where first death returns to the living: drug deal gone bad?
  • Race riots covered by news
  • Individual situations introduce some urban characters
  • Descent into chaos

Season one:

  1. Escape from news, end up at mall – new characters, let other's in?
  2. Common cause, uniting somewhat amongst the chaos
  3. Survivors; bus spots news chopper – eventually let it adding to group
  4. Television dies/pullback to Beverly Hills defensive perimeter (rich mogul)
  5. Doubts about leadership, each other, motives
  6. More survivors want in, debated over, zombie gets inside
  7. A hero dies (amongst others)
  8. Choices, more people = more supplies, less space, greater risk
  9. Leadership overthrown, citizens in control
  10. Use copter, strip club rescue – two more survivors, more food and supplies
  11. Cancer man dies, reanimates, people die; realization of what's going on
  12. The world is gone now/escape from LA (rich mogul)

Season two:

  1. Isolation
  2. Maybe it's not so bad after all
  3. Too many chiefs?
  4. Separation in small places
  5. Boredom
  6. Contact over the radio
  7. Contact lost
  8. More survivors, don't let them in, moral dilemma
  9. Invaded part one
  10. Invaded part two
  11. Then there were four, isolated, escape plans made
  12. Fall of the mall

Pilot (rural setting)

  • Characters meet in farm house
  • News and tension
  • Attempted escape, failure
  • Rescued but what of the rest of the world?

Season one:

  1. Hunting and killing
  2. Wandering
  3. Small town, eventually ruined
  4. Survival
  5. Supplies? The group thins.
  6. Tension builds, the fight for leadership
  7. Go to the city? Head for the hills?
  8. The split, group thins
  9. Safe haven in a small town
  10. Return of the city's influence
  11. City pollution
  12. Fall of the small town

Season two:

  1. Scattered
  2. Hunger
  3. Return to the farm house
  4. Uncertain future
  5. Back to basics
  6. Finally normal
  7. Attack of the posse
  8. Prisoners
  9. Escape
  10. Prisoners again, this time alone in the farm house
  11. And then there was one
  12. To the city, no place else to go

Pilot (government/scientific/military)

  • Introduce some characters
  • Military delegates to local law enforcement (who wish to handle situation)
  • National Guard involved

Season one:

  1. What to do? We don't know
  2. Deny everything/scientists start asking questions
  3. Rest of world starts to suffer, third worlds fall
  4. Use of military force, martial law, curfew that nobody can enforce
  5. Local law enforcement falls, overseas presence disappears
  6. Desperate realization that threat cannot be stopped
  7. Realization of what is going on, go public/scientific community tapped
  8. Rounding up the brains, not many survive
  9. Escape from Fort Pastor?
  10. Regroup at the capitol, leadership is failing
  11. Team assembles, President makes radio speech
  12. Escape from the capitol as zombies overwhelm government in a blood bath

Season two:

  1. Into the bunker
  2. Watching as the world crumbles around them
  3. Searching for answers, major has ideas (STUN satellite radiation)
  4. Where are the answers? Is it God's work?
  5. More answers than questions
  6. Need more specimens; tension between military, scientists and "mad" scientist grows
  7. The major dies, leaving the colonel in charge
  8. The colonel asserts himself demanding results, scientists in fear
  9. Contact lost with other scientists, sense of gloom deepens
  10. The president is dead (government ceases to exist)
  11. The colonel oppresses more
  12. Scientist killed, soldier commits suicide, zombies attack, few escape

Just some ideas.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Wiki software

One of my side projects at work is to get a wiki running for our department, and if all goes well to suggest it for the entire organization so it can be shot down in favor of something more expensive that isn’t my idea. I tried to get Mediawiki to run on my FreeBSD box but gave up. I was also unable to get it to work on my local machine running MySQL and Apache. The next wiki software I chose I ended up keeping:  Dokuwiki

The Dokuwiki software is perfect for what I am doing. It runs like a champ on my local machine, and it does not require MySQL; it’s uses the local file system and stores content in plain text files. The wikitext format is perfect for people that simply want to get content into a location without having to worry about coding HTML or saving to PDF or worrying about reliance upon Word. Content first, formatting later. I also like the fact that I do not need a database to back-end everything; this means a small footprint both on disk and in memory. The Dokuwiki software does “cache” the generated XHTML for topics. For Windows folks, NTFS compression on the data\cache and data\pages folders will further decrease the disk footprint (note: turn compression off on data\cache\*.idx and data\cache\purgefile).

I also found a neat little macro for Open Office at the Iannz OpenOffice.org page. The macro will convert a writer document to Dokuwiki compatible text. The object also contains a subroutine to convert all .html files in a directory to Dokuwiki .txt files. Sweet! Note for Windows users: edit the Folder macro to change the hard-coded directory name to the directory containing your .html source (a simple copy from Explorer then paste).

Thursday, October 13, 2005

New 40 gallon aquarium pictures

You can see in most pictures that the red-finned shark has just torn away at the foliage around its lair, the delicate leaves of the wisteria plants come off easily. The tiger barbs are active fish and very hard to photograph, the danios even harder as they are constantly on the move.

The tiger barbs would probably be the main attraction of this tank. The algae eater stays hidden most of the time, the shark is always in it's dark lair under the driftwood, and the danios are too small and fast to be noticed.

I am considering the addition of three tinfoil barbs to make things interesting but I run the risk of reaching the stocking limits of this aquarium (i.e. 1" of fish per gallon of water).

Yes, that is the shark that killed the pleco.

Land of the Dead

I should preface this by saying I love horror movies. Unfortunately I did not make it to the theaters to see the latest from Romero, "Land of the Dead." I did, however, get a hold of a copy before it came out on DVD (yes, MPAA lawyers, I will be buying it).

The plot of this movie is fairly simple. Zombies control the majority of the planet save for the few cities that have fortified themselves from the outside world. Most residents are very poor and simply exist outside the lone, iconic tower of wealth. The city raids nearby small towns for supplies. The leader pisses off one of the workers, who steals the city's armored Winnebago to extort money from that leader. The main characters must retrieve the vehicle as a group of pissed off but evolving zombies advance on the city.

High Points
The gore effects were pretty good, very similar to "Day of the Dead" but mostly shrouded in shadow. Assuming all scientific fact has been thrown out the window, the vision of a post-human, zombie-controlled world was believable and acceptable including the return of some basic skills like communication and improvisation to the dead and the continuation of familiarity concepts from "Dawn of the Dead". Even the idea of cities fortifying themselves around the rich then doing their "dirty" work was believable, with most concepts of life covered (like defense systems, waste disposal, "raiding" nearby towns for supplies, etc.)

The Good
The acting was generally good. The zombie acting was exceptional as I think the Romero version of a zombie has been solidified down to behavior, uniform mobility and attack (i.e. more of a spill forth and overwhelm).

The Okay
The plot seemed just okay to me. Basically it was an event wrapped around concept. The idea of vehicle recovery seemed a little forced as all it really did was provide filler for the progress of zombies from a raided town to the "luxury" of the city. Some of the one-on-one sequences were unrealistic.

The Bad
Personally, I thought the ending sucked. It wasn't uplifting nor catastrophic, it just ended and the characters rode off in the night. I guess I was expecting some sort of finality but this could easily translate into another film with similar situations but different characters. Actually, with the original "Night of the Living Dead" being the exception, the other two films ended this way as well.

I read some of the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes. Some of them were pathetic. If you're not going to try to like the film why bother going to see it and review it? It's like going to a steak joint to write a review for a vegetarian magazine. A lot of reviewers were liking or disliking this movie based upon Romero's "social commentary" and I don't think this is fair. George gets his statements in regarding wealth classes and the "we don't deal with terrorists" line but to judge an entire movie by it seems wrong. I agreed with Roger Ebert in that it would be interesting to just have a movie based on life in the city. Actually wouldn't it be great if the whole "Dead" concept was turned into a television series?

If I were to rank the "Dead" movies and their remakes I would probably go with:

  • "Dawn of the Dead" remake
  • "Night of the Living Dead"
  • "Dawn of the Dead"
  • "Land of the Dead"
  • "Day of the Dead"
  • "Night of the Living Dead" remake

Little Beefs (Biffs)

These are little things I really shouldn't worry my pretty little self over but tick me off anyways.

Excessive use of Macromedia Flash on web pages

I really only notice this on my laptop, still a formidable 1Ghz Duron running XP on 256MB of memory, but whenever I hit a page with flash I always get a nice six to eight second delay while all that extra flash crap loads. Flash is good for interactive movies and games but do we really need flash to do menus or to rotate news images or to slow down my web surfing experience to display an advertisement? It's just unnecessary.

Hands Free Cell Phone Zombies

A "hands free cell phone zombie" is a person who walks around aimlessly while talking on their cell phones using the "hands-free" ear-bud and clip microphone.

This actually happened to me. I was exiting my office and I walked past some chick who blurted out "what the f* are you doin'?" I stopped, aghast, looked her in the eyes and said, "Excuse me?" She looked at me like I was naked or blowing my nose in my hand. I didn't notice the hands-free equipment because of her long frizzy hair (wouldn't that interfere with her cellular signal?). She replied, "I'm talking to my friend, not you" then realizing the other party on the line probably heard that said, "not you, some guy here – I'm on the phone".

If these folks were dressed in tattered clothes walking around seemingly talking to themselves I'd call them derelict homeless.

Ring Tones

There is nothing I enjoy more than concentrating on my work at work only to have the relative silence broken by a loud, annoying, seizure-inducing ring-tone. I hate them with a passion, but would love to be the guy that invented them. Who knew people would pay money for a watered down version of some songs or random beeps.

Government

I've already opened up enough cans of worms at home and work, so I'll just say "it seems like our priorities are out of whack and we appear to be heading towards a society that short of being an empire with the majority of people undervalued and overworked or mooching off everybody else."

Microsoft

Anybody remember the old days when you could get the operating system for less than $100 and BASIC came with it? Personally, I think XP and 2000 were the best products put forth by Redmond with 2003 having its merits.

It should be obvious even to the uneducated that Microsoft software locks you into a constant cycle of upgrade – both hardware and software. You know what, I can still publish documents in a WYSIWYG graphical user interface on a Pentium 166MMX with 16MB of memory just and I can on XP running on a 2Ghz Athlon system with 2GB of memory.

Lately however, with Genuine Advantage and Longhorn/Vista's new DRM systems I have to wonder if this is the moment in history when businesses and home users say enough is enough. Windows XP running on this system right now is powerful enough to do just about anything I can ask of it short of being a production server. Why on earth would I want to chuck the whole thing out the window in a year or two?

Is technology leasing the new wave on the horizon; lead by Microsoft and its hardware requirements? Would a home user be willing to spend $20 a month or so just to get new hardware every year or two?

A Big Beef - Fiscal Responsibility

I could really get in trouble for posting this because current, past and future employers could use this against me but I just have to get this off my chest. I am appalled at the fiscal irresponsibility in management.

I have worked in the Information Technology (computer programming, systems programming, etc.) for fifteen years and the last five to six years have been the worst. I have seen multi-million dollar projects driven slowly into the ground to provide little or no benefit to the people who should benefit from them. I have sat shaking my head in disbelief as large balance differences get written off as acceptable losses. I have watched years, even decades of knowledge and working technology literally get thrown out the window for something different.  I have seen programming languages come and go while offering no real benefit to the languages and technology they intended to replace. So much wasted money has passed before or around these eyes and the eyes of my friends that I almost literally broke down at the horror of it all last night.

What makes this even more sickening is that these managers who consistently do not do their jobs and manage are promoted and compensated on a grander scale. One CEO presiding over a company that has lost over 76% of it's value netted a six-figure bonus and salary increase (that's before all the other perks like vehicles, subsidies for side businesses, options, etc.).

Fiscal irresponsibility is not limited to management at big corporations. I'm disappointed that most youth nowadays simply have no concept of savings vs. spending. They will receive government assistance while strutting around with an iPod and flip-phone (with expensive plan) driving a "pimped" car and cable at home. How about the single mom who can't afford to fix a car but can afford televisions and personal-use cell phones for herself and both of her kids; oh and everybody smokes packs of cigarettes as well. I fully comprehend that these are bad examples of a system that is designed to (as does) help people that need help. Still, I see examples of poor financial skills almost every day as people rack up credit card and other debts without regard for living within their means. If you have a cell phone, DVD players, portables, cable TV with movie channels while getting assistance then you aren't poor.

Here in central Ohio there are numerous (if not all) school districts in dire financial predicaments. I grew up in a school district that took six figures worth of loyal taxpayer dollars for strictly cosmetic changes. My child goes to a school district that collects hundreds of dollars in fees in addition to one of the highest tax rates but seems to have a levy on the ballot every year. When I go to these schools, most of them are like palaces on the inside with lots of wasted space – what happened to a good traditional, functional school? This school system also made numerous cosmetic and technology upgrades alongside the necessary upgrades. Again, isn't this a recent thing? What are we paying for? Doesn't anybody in management understand the concept of good planning and forecasting; instead of building and building then begging for money to build more schools, then begging for money to operate these schools, then asking for money to continue operating these schools without having to cut sports and extra-curricular activities?

I have to admit that I'm guilty of some of this myself. I tend to keep mostly current computer technology in my house and I don't invest as diversely as I should (maybe I've been stung too many times by the markets in the past?). I also eat reasonably, drive an economical vehicle, save for special occasions, keep my credit cards paid off, keep cell phone usage to a minimum and keep myself protected.

For the rest of the world, maybe I just don't understand it. Maybe I just don't grasp the concept of upper management or running a school system or being a kid in a media-centric world that places value on possession instead of personality and purpose.

Maybe I'm just getting too old?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Testing BloggerForWord

I just downloaded BloggerforWord to give it a spin and see how things work. My blogging now starts with Front Page before going to UltraEdit for markup cleanup then into the post as HTML. I rarely use their editor.
Let’s try some styles and fonts: bold and underline and italics then colors like red and green then fonts like Verdana and Courier.
Numbered list
  1. one

  2. two

  3. three
Bullet list

  • look mom

  • I’m using blogger
How about a hyper link to Google just for fun?
Does it like justified text?
Or Centered?
Is this big enough?
Well that is enough for now, let’s see what things look like after I publish.


Well, that looks interesting doesn't it? It supports basic formatting but does not support colors or justification. The ordered and unordered lists look stupid because the Blogger adds a <br /> after each line item if there is a carriage return. They way I get around this when publishing is to not have carriage returns anywhere and simply stream in pure HTML code understanding my template adds the <p> and </p> paragraph tags (like most Blogger templates do).

BloggerForWord looks good for getting in text without the need for formatting. Formatting can be done later to clean things up.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Health questions and answers

1. Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?
A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it ... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

2. Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

3. Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!

4. Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

5. Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain .. ..Good!

6. Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A: Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

7. Q: Will sit-ups prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

8. Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: Are you crazy? HELLO ...... Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!

9. Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me ........

10. Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

(P.S. If you take this seriously, you really need to see doctor or a psychiatrist or both - lighten up!)