Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Business Trip Postponed

So, my business trip has been postponed. We are now looking at March tentatively. $wife is a bit disappointed, for all the reasons she was excited to be going. Now we are going about canceling our tickets, and trying to figure out what to do with the winter clothes we bought for the trip. At least my company is being more than decent about it, and is offering to reimburse the fees we incur for $wife's ticket (in addition to mine, which they are paying for in the first place), since we had no control over the changing of the trip. I'd love to say, "We'll just take a vacation week and go anyway", but we couldn't afford the hotel or rental car, and it isn't that great of a vacation destination anyway Well, guess that means I go back to plotting where to take $wife out-of-state to first. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Black Dogs, Electric Sheep, & Dysphoric Humans

So, I'm feeling quite dysphoric today. I can't concentrate at all, and I'm tired. I had a hard time trying to figure out exactly what I was experiencing. At first I thought I was just tired and not feeling well from sinus (cedar season just began) and getting over a cold. Then I thought, maybe I'm restless from it almost being the holiday weekend, and still needing to go shopping for a gift. However, I also just want to curl up and go to sleep, although I'm not sure I could. (If you don't know, ask your local geek what electric sheep have to do with sleeping (and more specifically, dreaming) And, even if I wasn't at work, I don't know what I'd be doing. Nothing sounds like I'd enjoy it.

I hate this feeling. I almost find myself wishing I was depressed instead, because that's a little easier to deal with. Of course, I wouldn't agree while being depressed. I was diagnosed as having bi-polar disorder several years ago. The symptoms used to be out of control, now they are just really annoying for a couple of days at a time, and pretty much forgotten about the rest of the time. Of course, it'd be nice for them to just go away altogether, but I'm pretty happy that they aren't running my life, or dictating what I do on a daily basis anymore.

I'm not presently on medicine. I used to be, and honestly, it was just as bad, in a way all it's own. It lessened the duration of my depression phases, but heightened the sensation of mixed states and dysphoria. The dysphoric states it created basically left me feeling as though my body was depressed, but my mind couldn't be because of the medicine, or the other way around. Things just never were in sync.

I'm doing much better now, and the majority of my days are just normal, which is quite nice. As for today, it's almost over anyway (the work portion that is), and usually by the time I've figured out what is bothering me, its only a day or two from going away. So, Happy Holidays to everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Movie Review: King Kong

I saw King Kong with my wife last night. She loved it, except for the parts with giant insects. I'd never seen any of the original films, so it was an all new story to me. I didn't know how much I'd like it, as creature flicks are not my normal fare, but I can say I really enjoyed it. It's definitely one to see in the theater, both for scale of what you see on screen, and for the awesome sound work. I only saw through the CGI at one point, and that was only a matter of seconds. Everything else looked very good, although I didn't spend a lot of time trying to "pick at the seams". It's a little long, but not too bad, and it doesn't feel drawn out. Any shorter, and you'd start feeling it in the story line. It did have a nice epic feel to it. While it wasn't too gory, it's not a kid's film, both for the violence, and the sad ending. Overall, definitely worth seeing at full movie price, and even braving opening weekend crowds for. 8.5 out of 10

Friday, December 02, 2005

Christmas Time Tackiness

So, it's coming up on the Christmas time of year. Of course, here at work, it's been around for several weeks already. We've already been hit up by our customers for prizes to give away at their office parties. A few even go so far as to inform us they will be taking a large discount off their next invoice if we do not provide a gift. However, today topped all. One customer called up to find out where the gift we were supposed to send them was, because it hadn't arrived yet, so we were expected to drop everything to get them a tracking number on it. Of course, it had been delivered yesterday, but it still struck us as being very tacky! Maybe I'm just too sensitive though, would you conisder it as being beyond the boundaries of good taste??

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Fasting

So, I'm fasting today & (hopefully) tomorrow. I don't think today will be a big problem, I'll just be somewhat hungry tonight. Tomorrow, I don't have a clue about. I only recall fasting once before, back when I was in high school, and that was a mis-guided dieting attempt. No, I wasn't trying to starve myself, it was just a recommendation from someone to fast one day per week. I made it most of a day. This time, it's spiritual, as in fasting & prayer. I'm praying for an answer to our prayers for a good job for my wife, and for financial guidance. We managed to get squeezed really tight this month. We had a few surprise expenses come up, as well as a few discretionary spending choices we should have avoided making. So, at this moment, I'm not even sure if I can afford to pay the rent tomorrow, and if we can, how I can buy gas for the cars next week. On top of that, I know that we are supposed to be tithing off every paycheck. I stopped doing this back when I was single, and it always bugged me a little, but I wasn't going to church, so I didn't have anywhere to tithe. (Great excuse huh?) However, my wife and I have started trying to tithe since we started going to church where we live. It's been pretty tough. We have managed off and on for several months now, but not consistently. Either we get sick, and miss church for several weekends in a row, or get pinched financially, and try to convince ourselves that we'll just put it in next week out of the next check. Also, we have heard several messages regarding (and I've been impressed by) the statement that tithes are supposed to be firstfruits. In other words, they come out before anything else; and not in the end, if I have something left over after the bills. Yet, we won't have enough for the bills alone, much less tithe & bills. So, we need financial intervention from the Lord. However, I also am seeking financial wisdom to prevent this from happening again. We have been living paycheck to paycheck for a while now, never tracking our money. We've tried to implement a budget countless times, but never with any success. Like with most other things in my personal life, it's a frustrating failure. There's never enough time, and I never have any energy left over after work. These are some of the reasons why I'm fasting. I don't expect a quick fix, however I do want to demonstrate that I am serious about wanting to change. I had thought about fasting a couple times before, and then it got mentioned in the sermon on Sunday. I thought about it again yesterday, once I realised the situation we were in financially, and decided it was the right choice for me. I don't know if it is right for everyone, nor do I know a lot about it (as I don't with most things spiritually), but I believe it is right for me, at this moment. Well, I'll tell you how things go tomorrow, until then, blessings.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Happy Belated Thanksgiving Day

Just wanted to say Hi, and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Our family traveled to San Antonio, to be with the rest of our family. We had a great time, and got to see the river parade, and the lighting of the riverwalk. I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday, and got to enjoy a little quality time with family and/or friends! I've got a now post topic in mind, but it is far too late at the moment, so it will have to wait.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Interesting Quote Today

This was one of my quotes for the day, courtesy of my Google homepage:

I believe that every human has a finite number of heart-beats. I don't intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercises. Neil Armstrong US astronaut (1930 - )

Now, it's an interesting quote, until you look at who said it. Then is just becomes a bit odd. This is an Apollo astronaut. I don't think he got their without exercising. Perhaps he was referring to exercising just for the sake of exercise, not when it is part of accomplishing a larger goal. Of course, there is no context available, such as when he said it, to whom, and what the immediate preceding bit of conversation was. Still, it caught my interest for a moment.

-- Madasi

Monday, November 14, 2005

Update Overdue

Well, I made, and immediately broke, my decision on weekly posting frequencies. It's just been one of those two week periods!

The whole family is sick. My wife is getting over it, but still feels it. Our kids are somewhere in the middle of it, and I'm just starting the cycle. It's some kind of cold/flu crud. I couldn't ever tell the difference between the two. Lots of congestion, and runny noses in the kids, sore throats, itchy ears, sore muscles all over, and a general lack of sleep. Fun for the whole family!

Looking down the road, I have a business trip coming up next year. A trip to Buffalo, NY, in January! People keep telling me I'm crazy, and that I'll hate it as soon as I step outside into a real winter. I've got mixed emotions about the trip. I'm pretty excited, because it'll be my first real business trip anywhere. I also enjoy flying a lot, and relish any excuse to do so. However, I'm not looking forward to going through the current hassle they call airport security these days.

My wife may get to come with me, maybe. I'm excited about that! I think she will have a blast. Unfortunately, I'm not sure she will get to come. We can't afford the ticket (my company will cover the room, car rental, and my plane ticket. My wife is permitted to come, but we pay for her ticket), so we were going to use some frequent flyer miles to get one. Or so we thought. I've cycled back and forth countless times now, between getting excited because she can go, and being bummed out because I found out she can't. If she gets to come, I'm gonna be ecstatic. She's never flown, never seen snow, and never been to another state before. The idea of getting to share all those firsts with her, and to have her along for some of my own (first business trip, first time to NY, first time driving in snow!) gets me all warm and cuddly inside. I think we'll have to bring some of her special hot chocolate along.

Well, I mentioned in my last post about looking for a traffic stat service for here, and guess what Google rolls out! They call it Google Analytics. It (optionally) ties in with the their Adwords program, so you may see a small one popping up here in the future. Maybe. I might decide that even a small one is too corporate for this website. Not that I've figured out my voice, or my audience yet. Just thinking aloud.

Well, that covers it for the moment.

-- Madasi

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Maintenance Issues

Ok, My previous post was entered using the aforementioned e-mail posting system provided by Blogger. It works well enough that I will continue using, however the formatting comes out all screwy. I redid the previous post, but it came out with hard line breaks in weird places the first time.
I (finally) kept my promise, and removed the Haloscan commenting system, reverting to the built-in Blogger system instead. Anyone can post, you just have to pass a CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Program to Tell Computers and Humans Apart, in case you were curious), to help fight blog spam.
Speaking of blog spam, it was in the news the other day, being called splog. Come on, splog? I thought spam was a bad name. Personally I would have gone with blam! But, I'm afraid my wife is right, it sounds too cool.
At the moment, the website stats service I was using has been down for many, many months. It was really good, and I keep hoping it'll re-open soon, and be better than ever! However, I may have to begin the search for a replacement. The point being, for the moment, I have no way of knowing how many visitors are stopping by. (Or if visitors are stopping by.)
Well, the weather is chilly, which doesn't happen too often here in Texas, so I'm off to bed to snuggle with my wife. G'Night!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Posting Frequencies: Revisited

So, I've decided to revisit the issue of posting frequencies. I think I need some more stability in scheduling my life. Instead of the current, get up & go to work, work, get off work, do stuff until I go to bed in time to get up in the morning for work.

As such, I'm beginning here, on my blog. And I'm doing it with this commitment: I will do everything in my power to make a minimum of one post every week, if at all feasible. (In other words, barring emergencies, or family tragedies.)

So, you heard it hear first, I'm going to try to be less of a perfectionist, and post more often, even if it's not quite "finished". One method of facilitating this, is that I'm trying out the ability to post by e-mailing a special address. This should make posting as simple as firing off an e-mail during my day. My logic is that if I make it easier to do, I'll be able to make myself when I have to, and it won't limit me if I want to, but am short on time.

So, until next time, Madasi

-- "I reject your reality, and substitute my own!" - Adam Savage, Mythbusters

Friday, September 09, 2005

Slow Down and Hear the Windchimes

As I came in late tonight, I heard our windchimes. We have three sets near our front door, and I realized that I hadn't actually heard them in probably months. My wife and I used to just sit outside, and listen to them. Nowadays, I can apparently not notice them for months on end. So, I took this realization as my personal, time to slow down notice. Of course, slowing down is hard! I work full time, my wife is working contract work now, and is looking for a permanent job as well. We have two children, who are less than 2 years apart in age, and both less than 2 years old at the moment, so sleep at night is still not a guarantee around here. Plus, I'm pursuing a hobby, and doing some tech work for a theatre group. And we are currently house searching. And thinking about throwing a party for our friends. And ... you get the picture. I honestly don't remember when life became so hectic that my wife and I barely see each other during the day. But, I missed the windchimes, even if I didn't realize it at the time. So, I'll be trying to slow down occasionally, to savor being alive in general. After all, we only get one go around, so we better enjoy it while we can, right!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Rated PH for Parental Humor Only

This one will be short. I was playing Cranium with my wife and her family, and we came upon a Gnilleps (spell a relatively easy word backwards in one try without writing it down first). The word was diaper. It's spelled repaid! I dunno exactly what the meaning in there is, but it cracked me up for quite a while. :)

Saturday, July 30, 2005

B-Day

So, yesterday was my birthday. And NASA's. And Sysadmin Appreciation Day. Which is cool because I like one, and I am the other. So happy days to everyone!

Monday, July 25, 2005

This discovery was part of work today. No wonder the computer wouldn't wake up! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

As Seen on /.

A nice, refrigerant free air conditioning system intended for cars. Utilizes the Peltier effect. Sounds nifty, and while some people were doubting that it would save energy due to it's relative efficiency, remember that while it will increase the electrical demand, it will lower the other demand on the motor from the compressor. An even trade? I'm not qualified to say. But, it'd be nice not to have to go through another refrigerant recharge!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Stupidest Lawsuit Since the World Began

The Stupidest Lawsuit Since the World Began as declared by Groklaw, may very well be that. It's taking place in France, but there are no shortage of absurd examples taking place here in the United States of America. Look up almost anything involving the DMCA for starters.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Salon.com Books | "Shut up and act"

Salon just posted an amusing interview with Bruce Campbell. (Sitting through ads required to read article.)

I'm not going to bother explaining who Bruce is, if you don't already know, go get a little culture in your life! I'll just say, I'm a fan! The article discusses, among other things, his new book and mentions some upcoming movies he is involved in. (Including an Evil Dead remake!)

Go. Read it. Now.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Optimus keyboard

Now here is a keyboard that has me drooling. And hardware peripherals aren't exactly something that gets me started usually.
But the idea of a re-programmable keyboard, who's keys display exactly what they control in realtime sounds pretty cool! Now, I'm sure you'd have to do some work getting the proper pictures set up if you were creating a new key mapping for a program, but the reward might be worthwhile!
But, conversely, I can see this getting hijacked as well. One moment you are browsing the web normally, and the next your keyboard is displaying all kinds of NSFW images all over it! Very not cool! But, in the end, I'd buy one if it was available today. (Assuming infinite resources!)

Friday, July 08, 2005

My new son and I in the rocking chair at the hospital. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Wehaddababyit'saboy!

Welcome to the world, Ethan Lynn Silence. Born at 15:05 on 07/05/05, weighing in at 9lbs 1oz (0.8 oz technically) and measuring 20 inches.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Filler_ninja's Xanga Site

So, someone I know just started up a blog of his very own, so I had to go support him! Check it out if you get a chance. He's young, and will make a name for himself as a game designer someday, so if you hurry, you can say you heard of him before he was big!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

X days to go!

Just wanted to say Hi, because I haven't been around for a while. We are waiting on my son to be born. His due date is July 6, but according to the doctor and the latest ultrasound, he'll be 9 - 10 lbs. if he is born then. My wife isn't exactly thrilled at the thought of giving birth to a whopping 10 pound baby! She is scheduled to be induced at 6AM on Tuesday the 5th, if she doesn't go into labor first. Which she is trying very hard to do. So, we are waiting, and hoping, and bugging her with "Are you having contractions now?". :)

Friday, April 01, 2005

Google Gulp

Google's April Fool's joke was Google Gulp! Funny, clever, and geeky, in my opinion. But, my favorite part was the FAQ where Google pokes a little fun at itself, and it's critics, regarding such topics as the invite only G-mail scheme, and never taking things out of Beta. A nice look at how they think. Even if Google's search engine didn't obliterate the competition, I'd like them because of their corporate attitude towards things. I mean, who else has 20% projects?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A Note on Comments

Not as if anyone ever comments (or reads, other than family), but I wanted to say something about comments. Early on, I switched over to a Haloscan commenting system. This was done primarily for the trackback features. Well, I find I don't use the trackback. It's a pain to use when posting, and I don't get linked to, so it's no value to me. And I prefer the look of Blogger's comment system anyway. And, Haloscan's last news update having been over a year ago doesn't help confidence much either. So, someday, when I have the spare time, I'll dig up my saved template, and modify things back to using the built-in commenting system. So, you know it's coming, just not exactly when. Note: Normally I'd link to Haloscan's website (link to the right somewhere), and to the post where I switched over in the first place, but it's late, I can barely type, this is my third post tonight, and I need to be in bed 30 minutes ago, so Good Night!

Markl's Thoughts: Shipping Software

I was directed towards an interesting (to me) read the other day, Markl's Thoughts: Shipping Software. I especially like his thoughts on what shipping software means. As software evolves away from "the disks in the shrink wrapped box at (Best Buy/Fry's/Wal-mart)" and more to "just something I don't remember exactly where/how I got", the lines of shipping and delivery are rapidly blurred. As are others, such as what exactly the product you are paying for is. Many Linux distros are based on you paying for support, and access to their central database of software updates. Updates which, like the OS itself, can be freely gotten elsewhere, but which they neatly gather and package for you. You are paying for the convenience of one stop downloading, and integration into their installation tool, and often a little QC testing, or package customizing. Try quantifying a price on the value of that. I've often wondered how businesses will make money with Open Source Software. In my opinion, it is clearly superior to proprietary closed-source offering on many levels, but from a business plan perspective, it has many challenges to be faced. But, even business models and economic theories change over time, just ask Adam Smith!

On Posting Frequencies

Well, when I started, I hoped to post every week minimum. However, as my track record shows, I'm doing good to hit once a month. Explanation: I'm not on my home computer much. Short Version: I suck at time management, and have so much to do when I get home from work (and do so little), that play on the computer is lucky to happen once a month. (I'm actually finding myself completely un-interested in computer projects that 2 years ago I would have pulled an all-nighter just to play with. I'm de-geeking.)I haven't played a computer game in months, and even then I couldn't make an hour of playtime in a sitting without becoming utterly bored. Long Version: Work keeps me swamped from clock-in to clock-out. And I stress out about it, because I always feel I should be getting things done faster then I am, and worry my bosses feel the same way. Home keeps me stressed for a million reasons, and I keep me stressed because I always just want to relax form work when I get home, eat and watch a movie with my wife, and then it's late and time to go to bed to get up late in the morning, still tired. I never do much around home. And a little wouldn't cut it, when I have a daughter who actively undoes things around home! :) So, I'm stressed all the time, even when I shouldn't be. And things I enjoy fall by the wayside, like reading e-mail & blogging, even getting on the computer. Not that long ago, I probably spent over 70% of my waking hours at a computer. A few years before that, and I'd bet over 90% of my waking free-time was spent at one. Now, I use one for work, and get on my home computer sometimes once a week for 70 minutes, if that. Not even enough to keep current with e-mail, much less begin to catch up on news, or anything else. Heck, I don't even answer my cell phone anymore (and it's the only phone I have, no home phone.) So, I'm still here, plodding away, and I'll try to keep writing, but it'll always be a lot less than I want, and more than I can spare time.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Movie Thoughts & I Weigh 321 lbs.

So, yesterday I saw part of Super Size Me. Now, this is a movie that I most likely would not have watched on my own. Documentaries are really not my thing. But, we went to a friend's house, and they were watching it, so I saw about half of it. So, in short, I had a hypochondriac's response. For those who don't know, I'm considerably over-weight, and have been for a long time. So, after seeing part of the 'movie', I had the reaction of, "Hey, maybe that is part of my problem!". No, I'm not going to sue Mc Donald's. Regardless of whether you think they are at fault, simply negligible, or completely responsible, it is still your choice to eat there. What caught my attention specifically was the descriptions of becoming addicted to the food. At one point, he is describing how eating it makes him feel better right away, and one of the doctors (or some professional, I only saw part of it) tells him it sounds like he has become addicted. At another point, a doctor is talking about it, and gives an example using a drug used to detoxify drug overdoses, saying the same drug causes people to lose interest in the food, implying it's more than a hunger satisfaction at play. He also says that the cheese on the burger is like opiates to your body, and when combined with a sugary, caffeinated soda, is a definite recipe for addiction. However, I'd like to see some data to back up some of these claims. I've been addicted to caffeine before, and gone through withdrawals from it. And, if I think about it, I crave a greasy, cheesy hamburger with fries and a coke, far more often than any other type of food, even my favorites. So, I don't think it's a stretch to say I might be addicted. The information from calling the nutritionists was a little more extreme than I personally would have predicted. The vast majority (I don't remember the percentage, watch the movie if you care that much) recommended eating fast food (not just Mc Donald's, but fast food in general) never, or no more than once a month at most. MY wife and I eat fast food very often because it is cheap and fast. We are on a tight budget, but don't always have time to cook, so we choose fast food. Apparently, most nutritionists would tell me that is a huge problem. And, maybe, that is a major thing affecting my health and weight. So, I'm going to try and cut back on fast food and sodas as well. It'll be hard. They still sound good, and I'm not overflowing with willpower. However, they don't ever taste quite as good as I imagine they will beforehand. So, if I can remind myself why I made this decision whenever I start to doubt it, I might make some progress. So, what better way than to make it public? As of today, March 08, 2005 I weigh in at about 321 lbs. on our bathroom scale. Since I'm 6' (about, been even longer since I measured that), according to some sources I should be between 164 lbs. and 188 lbs. Now, I'm not going to be unrealistic about it, and expect to be there within a year. That's around 140 lbs to lose, or another person basically. If I can steadily lose at least 1 - 2 lbs. a month, I'll know I'm at least making some progress. Because, although I don't get weighed often, I do know it wasn't steady, but was still climbing at my last doctor's visit. So, holding steady would be an improvement, and going down, even a tiny bit, every month, will mean progress in the right direction!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Comparisons

I was talking to my mother the other weekend, and decided to ask her some questions about my grandfather. I didn't know him real well, as he died while I was young, but I do have a few memories of him. One of the things I asked her was what different jobs he had held, as I knew it was a long list. She came up with over 21 different occupations he had held at some point while she was growing up. And, the vast majority were entrepreneurial in some manner. A few things struck me, both similarities and differences. For one thing, he hated working for someone else. He would do it for a while, but once he saw a better way to do something, if they didn't listen, it wasn't long until he left. He wasn't arrogant, but he was extremely mechanically inclined, and a natural problem solver. I find I have some of the same tendencies. Once I see a (in my opinion), better way to do something, it bugs me to no end if my suggestion gets ignored. I'm not the mechanical genius he was (he designed, built, and sold his own well drilling rigs for a while, quite successfully), but you don't have to work long before you find someone doing something, who obviously knows less about it than you do. However, the flip side is, he did things on his own. He ran a drive-in movie theater, ran a gas station, was his own boss. Me, I might think about it, but then I'd start wondering what permits I'd need, how much it would cost, how to get started, if it would work, and I'd never act on it. He did things, I think about doing things. And, that's one thing I'd ask him about if I could, how to be more like him. Did he ignore the permits and do it anyway (he did live mostly in really small towns), or did he know something about obtaining them too? Or did he simply set about learning whatever he didn't know that stood between him and his objective? I know it wasn't an education difference, as he didn't get past 5th grade, and well, I did. Or maybe that is part of the difference. Maybe he had to work harder to overcome that (not that it was a huge handicap back then), and that drive is what empowered him. I don't know. But, I do know I admire him, even if I barely knew him.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

GMail

Well, looks like Google is expanding Gmail quite a bit more. I just noticed that my number of available invites jumped from 6 to 50. So, if you somehow don't already have a Gmail account, now's the time to ask for one. I'm overflowing with invitations, and I imagine this is true for most, if not all, other Gmail users. And, just in case you don't know what I'm yammering about, Gmail is the free web based e-mail service offered by Google, currently on a "by invitation only" beta test. It offers 1GB (or 1,000MB if you prefer (and yes I know that deep down at heart, it's 1,024MB, let's not confuse people ok?)) of storage for your e-mail and attachments, which at it's launch caused many other providers to scurry and vastly increase the size of their provided storage space as well. (The quickness of which implies that it was a fairly trivial change, there was just no incentive to offer increased storage space to their customers before.) Gmail also offers free POP3 access, so it's useful even if you hate webmail. (Which I previously did, but I find Gmail is far nicer.) And, when using it's webmail interface, Gmail has quite a few innovations which make it very nice indeed. But, the tour explains them far better than I could. Yes, Gmail does have it's detractors. Usually either due to the ads or the longtime storage and search capabilities. The ads are far less annoying than on other services I've used. They are text ads, no flashing banners, they are relevant to the subject of the e-mail conversation that is on screen, and since they are on the side, not the top, I honestly find them to be really subtle. (As in ignorable without any effort.) As for the storage and searching arguments, (sometimes combined with complaints about the e-mails being read to generate the ads), well they don't bother me. Bots read the e-mail, not people. They are suprisingly accurate at choosing corresponding ads (or sometimes just related links. It's like searching without having to tell the search engine what you are looking for.), but not perfect. Once you see some of the same word, different meaning ads you'll quickly realize that there is no human behind them. My biggest question is why pick on Google for this? They are doing minimally invasive automated word recognition on e-mails that aren't exactly encrypted in the first place. There are far scarier, and almost never mentioned, examples of real time data monitoring out there. Primarily, credit card companies, and their fraud prevention. Anyway, my point was, I've got invites just on the rare off chance that you haven't been invited already, and want one.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Hooray!

Just a quick note to say that Bun-Bun is back, and he's a pirate! ARR!!! If you've no idea what I'm talking about, Sluggy Freelance is a web comic that is going on 7 or 8 years now (8 years in August), with great story arcs with plot points being tied up sometimes years later, lots of character development. My wife was afraid of it, thinking it was just another nerd thing until I picked up a few of the "dead tree" editions at Linucon last year. Being bored at the con, she started reading them, and was quickly forced to admit that yes, it's funny, and no, not just to nerds! She is now thouroghly addicted, and plodding her way through the archives to get caught up! (Seven years is a lot of back story!)

Monday, January 31, 2005

Intuit Up to Shadowy Business Practices

Well, I realize this is quite a few BoingBoing links lately. The humor is, I don't read BoingBoing, I've only seen these posts from other sources. In the case of this post regarding Intuit, and their recent tricks (I'm sorry, business practices) involving Quicken, that wildly popular personal finance software program, I originally saw it on Slashdot. Basically, Intuit has disabled the online features, such as downloading your bank statements, and paying your bills, in older version of Quicken. Now, as one poster on Slashdot, very inarticulately put it, these are functions that could/should be possible directly between the software and the bank, without using Intuit as a middleman for any reason. So, it's not like these old version are costing them money each time they use these particular features. (Or if they are, it's only because Intuit wants it that way, since it isn't necessary to achieve the desired functionality.) So, the only reason that comes to mind right away is that they want cash flow from upgrades. Then there's the newly added note about Intuit sticking up the financial institutions for huge fees to support the new software as well. They are doing this, partially by disabling support for their own file format. Sounds like a well planned 1-2 punch. Force the users to use the new software, then force the banks to support the new software, which all their users just recently switched to. And, since Moneydance costs money, I guess it's time to break out my Linux box and start learning GnuCash!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

My Destined Eye Color!

I likes this quiz. And the picture it comes with is pretty cool to. I always wanted to have blue anime hair as well. :) darkblueeyes
Your eye color is dark blue. You rely on your logic
solely, and may have more mature interests than
many of your friends and family your age. You
can sometimes also be interverted and lonely
from a lack of understanding with people, and
can be rather frustrated with some types of
folke. Some may describe you as cold and
distant, and you are honest with how you feel
about things.

What Color Eyes Should You Have? ( With Anime Pictures ^-^ )
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Sysadmin.isSmart == false;

Here's a link to a story that makes me think. Short version: Step 1) Some Guy uses a non-mainstream browser to try and donate to a tsunami relief fund website run by BT (British Telecom). Step 2) Moronic Sysadmin mis-reads the access logs and decides it is a hacking attempt. Step 3) M. Sysadmin denies access to S. Guy, and reports the "attempted hacking" to the police. Step 4) Almost a month later, police bust in (SWAT style according to some sources) and arrest S. Guy! Observation 1) At least America isn't the only place in the world this could happen. That's not really a good thing, just a misery loves company type thing. Observation 2) Some might say the sysadmin was merely under-educated, or shouldn't be expected to know what such an ancient, text-only, browser like Lynx is. My responses follow: 1) He's getting paid for his technical knowledge, so I would expect familiarity with the logs. And, if he's worth his paycheck, I would demand better behavior in response to something he doesn't know. 2) Does he really call the police at every odd log entry? I mean seriously, boy crying wolf, not to mention technical inaptitude here. But, the reasons it makes me think have to do with a previous brush with Moronic Sysadmins. I was in high school, I had a friend majoring in CS at college. I visited him. At this college, the school's IT department and the CS division fought horribly, because the CS division believed (rightly) that IT was inept. Therefore, CS ran their own separate computer network, which ticked IT off greatly. Anyway, the wiring closet in this building was in the CS computer lab, across the hall from IT. One day, while I was visiting, IT left it unlocked. CS majors are more than just curious, they often actively seek out trouble. And knowing that the closet belonged to IT, I can guarantee somebody tried the knob at least once during every day. So, it was found to be unlocked. Someone got bored, and unplugged some cables. Fiber optic wires I believe, probably linking the rest of the campus to this building. IT eventually found out, and immediately decided that the door's lock must have been picked. (It couldn't have been left unlocked of course.) They then proceeded to pull the access log from the CS lab's door's electronic lock, since the event happened after normal hours, so someone with access had to have opened the lab. They also managed to read the logs wrong, decided the event happened about a day before (or after, I'm not sure) it actually did, and thus looked at the wrong time from the access logs, and tried to implicate the wrong student. In the end, CS found out what happened, and told IT, we know be we won't tell you, we will handle it internally. IT forever held a grudge against who they thought did it, and the feud continued. So, why can inept people get and keep jobs when there are plenty of genuinely good computer people out there without a job? (This isn't a personal rant, I've got a good job, and it isn't doing IT or CS type work.) Of course, this question broadens to almost any type of job. Where do PHBs (Pointy Haired Bosses, it's a Dilbert thing!) come from? Oh well, that's enough ranting and reminiscing outta me.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Wall Drug

As if going there wasn't enough, you can now visit Wall Drug online! Explanation: My parents told me about Wall Drug as I was growing up. It's a place, fairly well advertised as you get near it. Apparently it has (or had, don't know if they are still there) teaser signs, telling you how far to Wall Drug, starting hundreds of miles away. And then, once you see a couple signs, you inevitably start seeing bumper stickers proclaiming that they have stopped at Wall Drug. And, eventually, you want to say that you too have been to the great place that must be Wall Drug! After all, it's advertised so far away, and it has famous ice water! And it must be good for so many people to put the bumper sticker on their car! And you begin to get excited as the miles left to Wall Drug start to fall in number! And soon, you can't wait, because it's only a few miles left! And, finally, eventually, thankfully, you arrive at Wall Drug! And you find . . . a store. And not much else. Sure, it's not your everyday gas station or Wal-mart, but it's not exactly a genuine tourist attraction either. And the water, well it's cold, but nothing special. And before you go, you grab a bumper sticker proclaiming that you too have been to Wall Drug. After all, if you got tricked into it, then so should someone else. Right? Seriously, I'm not bashing Wall Drug. It's a great example of creative advertising/marketing, and built up expectations not quite being fulfilled. And, honestly, I'm not really sure if I too have been to Wall Drug. If I have been, I was too young to remember it well. It is however a fond childhood memory, hearing my parents talk about it, and compare other tourist traps we ended up at with it. I enjoyed the trips our family took together when I was younger, and hope to share similar experiences with my family some day. Edit: Well, apparently the signs used to be everywhere in the US and other countries as well. Don't just take my word for it!

Monday, January 17, 2005

Explanations

I took a little heat for mentioning that I was considering getting a second job, specifically for mentioning it along with the fact that my wife didn't know about it yet. So, I figured I'd explain briefly. I wasn't attempting to hide anything from her. After all, she is aware of the existence of this blog, so I must assume she may read anything I write. The only reason I hadn't mentioned it to her was simple, follow-through. I have quite a few ideas. Some of which are even worthy of some serious consideration. However, very very few of them ever live to see the light of day, and even fewer reach completion. So, I learned a long time ago that I tend to get excited about my new idea, and mention it to somebody, and then move on, either abandoning it altogether, or post-poning it indefinitely. Then, at some point they ask me about it, fully expecting me to have finished it, and I have to admit I've basically forgotten about it. And so, through these experiences, I have learned to only speak of my ideas after I've begun implementing them, unless absolutely necessary to get feedback from people beforehand. I still eat my words frequently, but not nearly as often as I almost tell someone, then decide to wait and see what I do first. So, while I don't mind mentioning here that I am considering an idea, I prefer not to mention it to her until I've already written the letter and gotten the addresses to send it to. Besides, we might be able to make it without my getting a second job. My wife did have to quit hers though. So, we are going through some rough times. But, I have faith that we will make it through.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Copyleft Commies

As seen on Boing Boing over a week ago, Bill Gates practically called anyone looking to reform property rights or patents and copyrights, a communist. Yes, the dreaded C word, Communists! Now, I won't go into why this was a slander, or why it's a travesty to reduce this to an insult to be used when name calling. No, I'll talk about what I find funny in the matter, the geek reaction. If you are walking down the street, and suddenly call someone a commie, what do you think they would do? Well, it appears if they are a geek, they would react with, "That's a great idea, let me whip up some graphics. Here, wanna buy a T-shirt with a Commie logo on it?" T-shirts for sell, with copyleft commie logos, here and here.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Bittersweet Moments

Well, an out of date website (blog or otherwise) tends to be an un-interesting website. So, with that in mind, I'll torture you with one of those totally personal entries that not even your family members will want to read.
Finding out we were pregnant again was my bittersweet moment. We have a daughter already, and she is, of course, the light of my life. She brings joy into our household daily, and makes me curse the necessity of going to work, and not seeing her grow up. But then, anybody with children knows what I'm talking about already. However, finding out that another child is on the way made us stop and think. First we wondered if it was too soon. After all, our first daughter will only be 18 months when this baby is born. Family tended to heavily voice their opinion that it was too soon. However, friends were on both sides of the issue, with some advising to have all our children as close together as possible. This, however, is obviously a moot point because the baby is already on the way. (Train ... left ... station ... blah, you get the point!) No, my main cause for concern was money. When our daughter was born,we were both working crap jobs. (For the same company, no less.) And, because of timing and minor pregnancy complications, we had to pay the deductible twice. Or, more accurately, we are still trying to pay off those bills. Shortly after finding out we were pregnant the first time, we were told by a nurse, who helped people fill out government paperwork, that we made too much to qualify for any government assistance, so we never applied. Later, we found out that we would in fact have been eligible for Medicaid, and it would have paid it all, but by then it was too late. As things stand now, we've moved more than 5 times in the last two years. I now have my first good job. My wife has a crappy job, and is actively looking for a better one, with no luck. We now know we make too much for any government assistance, as we just went rounds with a caseworker about this. (If things keep up, there may be a rant coming up about the incompetence we have dealt with there!) So, right now, ends are meeting, barely. We both get paid weekly, and most weeks we have less than $5 in the bank on Friday, before we deposit our paychecks. We make enough to get by, on paper. However, neither of us have any experience at truly budgeting, or living on one. So, now that we have another baby coming up, I need to get insurance coverage for my family through my job. (Didn't have it before because we were on Medicaid through this month, residual from the period we weren't working. We don't want to be taking tax money to live, it's actually rather embarrassing to my pride, however, at the time it was the only way to put food on the table.) So, that's about $300 per month out of my check, plus a $2000 deductible come delivery time. Just the monthly premium will stop the ends from meeting, and I have no idea where the deductible will be coming from. In addition to that, my wife's job has begun cutting back her hours, and will probably keep whittling away at them. And, as you can see from that bank balance I quoted, we need every penny she was making to begin with. So, we are looking at scenarios. She doesn't know it yet, but I'm toying with the idea of a part-time second job. Maybe at a small computer shop, or the local cyber cafe thingy. (Hey, I'm a nerd, it's what I know best.) We are talking about dropping cable, cell phones, and yes, blasphemy, internet access. We don't see many movies these days anyway, because our daughter won't sit through them. And television sucks all our time away without giving anything back. So, that's the bitter in my bittersweet. But, I don't think I'd change it if I could. I've found life throws difficult things your way, but that in the end, if you respond properly, good things can, and will, come out of it. That's how I met my wife. But, that's another long boring (for you) entry.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Alton Brown Goodness!

Alton Brown is coming to Austin on January 30 at 3:00 PM at Book People! Who is Alton Brown? The coolest chef on the Food Network, that's who! He is unconventional in style and tons of fun to watch. And, most importantly, he explains the science behind cooking, thus taking the voodoo out of it. (Don't believe that people consider cooking to be part magic, or at the very least, luck? Ask how to get a souffle or divinity to come out every time and see what type of answers you get!) He also produces the show himself, reportedly even doing all the edits in each episode. Obviously, I'm looking forward to this! Just look at the pictures from the last time he was there. Definitely better than your average booksigning, no? Now, I just gotta grab some copies of his books to get signed, and talk my wife into letting me go!

Monday, January 03, 2005

Dating Games

Fear of this type of situation would be among the reasons that no force on earth could have forced me onto a blind date, back when I was eligible. I'm not sure if it would be better or worse is she meant it. Thankfully, I'm married, and dating is no longer something I have to worry about. (Of course, being a reclusive geek, I never had to worry about it much!)

Gotta Get My Stuff Done

Wow, I've definately had days like this! I kept waiting for him to say, so I drew this drawing to explain why I didn't get my stuff done!
Great little animation, and I'm not sure what the style is, with how you kinda see the hand drawing it, sometimes. Interesting effect, in my opinion. Now, I gotta get my sleeping done, my wife commands it!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Like I'll need it!

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog. I'm new to the blogging world, but I hear having trackback capability is a good thing, and I heard Haloscan was one place to get it for a Blogger/Blogspot site. However, it appears I have to take their comment system to get the trackback functionality. Time, and your feedback, will determine if it stays or goes.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Light!

And thus, un-announced, un-noticed, and largely un-needed, YAUB (Yet Another Useless Blog) is born into this world. This will be the new home for what was previously Project Darlence, which was another never-visited web-site I once created, which is now completely outdated. It will also be the resting place for several ideas which have existed only in my head up until now. And, if I get really bored (and sadistic!), possible photos of my children. [Evil Grin] --Madasi