Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Diving into HDTV

So on Black Friday we picked up an HDTV. It's an entry level tube TV from Sanyo. You can pick the same model up at Walmart for about $575 or so, but at Schottenstein's (Value City) we nabbed a refurbished one for $299. A bit of a risk to get a refurb, but for $299 for a 32" HDTV with an ATSC tuner, the risk is worth it. Besides, the set had gotten rave reviews at the $775 price point in late 2004 over at AVSForum.

I am enjoying it very much so far. I'm able to pull in all sorts of HDTV over the air with an antenna and nothing else. I can pull it in over my cable box as well, but it requires switching the TV into letterbox mode and is fairly annoying to make the switch. There must be some way to get the TV to automagically do this for you, but I haven't figured that out yet.

The only complaint was how the overscan was set and I needed to do some service menu type things to get that back in shape, but once that was settled it is working quite nicely.

XMas Photo over at Family Blog

The Cornell Family: Christmas 2005

Finally starting to post some things on the Family blog. Unfortunately, we still need to pretty it up a bit.

Monday, December 05, 2005


As you can tell, been quite busy around here considering I haven't posted in over a month. Evan's been keeping us very very busy.
Here's some of the fun things I have not yet done that I should have done:
  • Posted more of Evan's pix online.
  • Actually pulled the video off of the camcorder to my PC and begin to play with the DVD authoring software.
Why is that?
Evan's a wee bit colicy. There are some tough times with little sleep. Some days you wonder how you actually function. I've learned the "Shhh!" trick, the swaddle trick, the side trick. It all works...sometimes. And sometimes it's very frustrating.
But you know what, it's all worth it. It doesn't bother me that I haven't flooded my friends with pictures or videos yet. I'll get the time eventually and it will get done.
Fatherhood is better than advertised. It will only get better as he grows up and is able to interact with us even more. As we get to read books, build things, learn to play games and sports it will get even better. And there will come that day when he will curse my name...but it's OK. It's all part of being a father.
Anyway, just thought I should post something after being quiet. I'll get to posting more stuff soon enough. I've got a lot of thoughts swirling around that I'll be getting to soon.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Welcome Evan Matthew

Evan Matthew was born in the wee hours of October 27th. He's 7lbs 6oz and is unbelieveable. Mom and baby are doing great! More pix and stuff later. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Freaking Out

I have not publicly talked about this, so it is now time.

I originally thought I'd have another 18-20 hours or so before I would be freaking out. Lori was to be induced at 2pm tomorrow. We have been waiting for this for a long time and it is very exciting and nerve wracking.

However, now it's happening at 9pm tonight.

So I'm freaking out. In a good way. Anyway, that's about all I have to say. I will put more on here with all the goo goo ga ga stuff tomorrow, although I'll likely be less coherant after being up for 24 hours straight. It's just I feel like I've lost some time for composure, and it's all happening quite quick, although if it were natural, it probably would be even more freaky.

Anyway, I have the drive home now. Talk sometime soon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Starting to get BlogSpam, so I've turned on word verification and require a Blogger User ID. At least that way Google can track down the culprits.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Ken Blackwell Annoying Already

So, the politics are in full swing in Ohio this week. Republican Guvnah Wannabe Ken Blackwell decided to leave a nice taped phone call on my answering machine on Wednesday. That call tied up what seemed like 3 or 4 minutes of message time.

Let me provide a clue, I stopped listening when I heard it was Blackwell and proceeded to use the facilities. When I finished up, he was still talking. I decided that I needed to wash my face. When I finished...still talking.

Who the !(*? is going to listen for that long...Period. Never mind that it's so early in the campaign that no one even cares.

He's already pissed me off. It's bad enough that Taft is a complete imbecile. Now the Republicans are going out and pissing off people in their "base" by sending annoying as all hell phone calls to people on the "W" election tour invite list.

According to this quiz I tend Libretarian anyway. Generally they have no chance of winning, but this year, the candidate is the former head of the Economics department at Case, and well, since I'm an alumnus and have an Economics minor, I tend to think he knows what he's doing.

Not sure he has a chance of winning, but messages need to be sent, and the Libretarians are the only ones who currently believe in small government (mostly because they aren't in power yet). It doesn't matter...Blackwell's a lump of crap for hogging up my phone and right now he's got a lot of ass kissing to even think of getting my vote. And if he even thinks of going the "holy roller" route he'll have lost my vote.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Guatemalan Towns Abandoned

As reported by the AP.

Normally, I wouldn't think twice about horrible events like this. It's in a far away land, there's not much you can do, except to offer support by donating money or supplies.

This one hits home a bit, since we are still going through the adoption steps and are not yet able to go to Guatemala City to pick her up and bring her home.

What's surreal about it is the flooding and mudslides occuring near the Lake Atalan area which is where Savannah's birth mother is from. I have not heard anything in particular about San Lucas Toliman, so I am hopeful that she is safe. In additon to the mudslides and flooding in Guatemala City itself, where I am hopeful that Savannah herself is safe.

It's tough as all I can do is wait, hopefully soon I will be able to travel down and get her.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Hockey Opening Night (OLN and Jackets)

So instead of watching Invasion after Lost (more on that later), I decided to check out the post game on OLN.

I really enjoyed it, great background fodder to playing NHL 06 on the puter last night. It reminded me of College Game Night on ESPN. Look ins at games in progress, actual strategy, tactical analysis. Very good first effort.

The downside was that the production values looked like something out of ESPN circa 1979. The set looked like it might have been made out of an erector set.

But as I once read, it's all about the content. Make sure you have the content, and then work on improving the package. The NHL has tried package before and failed. This is much better because the content is there.

I didn't get to watch much of the Jackets loss to the Caps. I've always been high on Fritche, and I was very happy to see those goals. Hopefully Brule will remain around for a long while. The Jackets problem is that they're going to need to really improve on special teams. Too many penalties and not a good enough Power Play. I was fine with the kill, but they're going to need to adjust and do it quickly. Hopefully Nash will be healed up and good to go next week. I'm thinking he'll be held out against the Flames on Friday.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Still Around...Been Busy

As always, when things get busy, Blogging tends to die off. At least for me anyway .

Its not that there's nothing to say, it's that there's not enough time to put it into a coherant format.

I've got things to say about:
  • Savannah (Got a kick ass video of her, but no idea how to post it out here)
  • Netbeans 5 Beta (Slow, but love the new Struts/JSF integration)
  • Crew (Didn't think the level of suck could get much higher, until the loss to Chivas)
  • Jackets (If this team plans on being good, the young guys are going to have to get good very quickly)
  • Supreme Court (no sorry, I'm so far out of the poli-loop to even make a coherant statement on that...I'll leave it to the pundits)
But as you can see...all I've time for is one liners. And that'll have to do...for now.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Dr. Claw in Prison Break

So is it just me, or is the Evil woman in Montana essentially the Dr. Claw character from Inspector Gadget (the cartoon, not the movie) yet just missing the cat?

You never see her face, always something blocking the face. It's not the same as Ernst Sarno Blofeld, because it's more like Dr. Claw.

I thought of it in the shower this morning and verified it while watching the show tonight. Nicely done.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Doesn't Bill Know that CGI is Slow?

Har Har, geek humor.

Ring my friend I said you’d call Doctor Robert

So, after a very slow period of blogging, mostly due to hectic home AND work life, I got my StatCounter email regarding hits to the site.

Much to my surprise I saw a spike in activity, and I was able to track it back to this blog entry by one Robert Collins. So in pure InstaPundit fashion:

Welcome Advogato readers!

Anyway, back to Robert's comments on my "rant" about testing frameworks and my struggle with JUnit.

I think the overall point I was trying to make was a bit different than what Robert conveyed. And perhaps that's because I didn't explain it very well. Myself, and many others, work in places where JUnit is considered the "Standard" testing tool...not just for unit tests, but for all tests.

It kind of flows like this. Folks start using JUnit. JUnit gets integrated to builds. Pretty reports come out of it. Managers like pretty reports. Manager talks to other manager, shows reports. Other manager says "We need to use JUnit for all tests and I want pretty reports".

If you haven't seen that in your IT shop, you're pretty lucky.

My point was more along the lines of, stop trying to force JUnit to do things it doesn't. The key for using something like TestNG is that it produces "pretty reports" as well. You can make it do things that JUnit doesn't allow you to do without overriding the entire framework.

Part of the issue is that these tests are not unit tests. They're integration tests or limit tests to test valid input from a client. Unforutnately I can't dive deeper into specifics due to my own personal restrictions on actual stuff going on at work. However, let's just say that the way we are reverse engineering the input stream back into its core data components presents challenges that most folks are not likely to encounter in their daily development life unless they are doing systems integration type work.

Probably the best example would be if you were writing a program to screen scrape a 3270 session and you wanted to be sure you captured all of the data into the appropriate objects properly. You've got 100,000 permutations of the same screen to test. You think you've got 99.99% correct, but that still leaves 10 problem instances. How do you know if you make your adjustment to those 10, that you don't create 10 new problems.

That's the sort of think we're talking about testing. You have to automate it, JUnit is a good way to do that...but it is not the right tool for this job. TestNG was because it was developed in a way that made it very simple.

Hopefully that example explains a little more about the problems that exist and why I went with a testing framework rather than a unit testing framework.

Rejected Sun Ads


My favorite, however, was:

Monday, September 05, 2005


Just in case you haven't seen stupidity in it's rarest form. Nothing like a horrible natural disaster to bring out the morons.

US 2-0 Mexico: Crappy Cellphone Pix

Here's some crappy cellphone pix that I took while at the US-Mexico match this past Saturday in Columbus.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Surprise! Kids Talk about Roids!

This is a completly asinine viewpoint that I've seen bandied about during this whole 'roid baseball scandal. That somehow the kids will now be thinking about steroids and talking about it.

Here's a newsflash. They already have been. For years.

When I was in the 6th grade, we took the Drugs quarter in Health. We learned all about every drug under the sun and how it was categorized (depressants, amphetamines, etc.) and what these things would do to your body in terms of screwing it up. Steroids always got a big groan out of the kids when they learned it would shrivel up your manhood and might prevent you from having children.

Oh yeah, we learned that in the 6th grade...we were, what? 11, 12...oh wait, we were Little League age!

When my brother was playing on select teams, Jose Canseco was doing thr 40/40 thing and Mark McGwire was just beginning to bulk up.

Guess what...they talked then about who might be on Roids. They all thought Canseco had to be on them. And no one was surprised to learn years later that he was. In 1996 when Brady Anderson hit 50 in a pre-contract year...everyone thought he was on the juice. No question whatsoever. He was guilty in the court of public opinion.

Which is why the attention this is getting some 15-20 years later is crazy. It was going on then, and we all knew it. We grew up with kids who started going to the Gold's Gym in town and came back over the summer with a receding hairline.

It was already going on. It just took you all too long to realize it.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

RockStar Morphs into American Idol

And it was surprisingly good. I say American Idol, because it was pretty much all ballads or soft rock, with the notable exception of the evil acoustic version of Hit Me Baby, One More Time. It was a good change up.

Actually, I'd like to see more Britany Spears covers. That was a brilliant cover, makes you see how good the song actually was. Perhaps next week they should just cover all Britany and Madonna songs. Perhaps we could hear Toxic and Like a Virgin.

is very clear as to who will make the final four contestants. The three people who I've said for weeks have the talent the band is looking for + JD. JD will hang around, even though he really doesn't want to be in a band...he wants to be the band. That's why he's not right for INXS. INXS is looking for a front man, not looking for JD with INXS.

Anyway, the three who have a chance at winning are Jordis, Mig, and Marty. Originally, after the 2nd week, I had it as Ty, Mig and Marty, simply because I felt the chances of a woman winning were quite slim. I still feel that they are, but Jordis is the exception. She's only had one bad performance, and followed that up well last night. Marty has always been strong, and continued with the brilliantly evil Britany cover. That was the best performance of the evening until Mig was so brilliant. Mig was by far the weakest of the three, I had him equal with Ty, but he had been getting extra points for being an Aussie. Well, tonight he proved he had more talent hidden under there.

JD proved tonight he is just a stage show who really can't sing very well. He trys to act like Ed Kowalczyk from Live but fails because he doesn't have the voice. His act is really growing tired, as he has the rock star ego down pat, but not the talent for INXS. Another band, yes, but not this one.

The others...just aren't right for the band..................................................................INXS.

Demon Drop For Sale

Cedar Point has put Demon Drop up for sale. Thanks to ScreamScape for the tip.

This is truly sad...even if expected. I had some fond memories of that ride. Especially from my senior year in college. There were five of us who went to the Point after our finals were over...well for most of us anyway. We ended up riding demon drop over and over with these doll heads that we won playing skeeball.

Yes, I said doll heads. These were heads of stuffed animals. No bodies...just heads. Clearly manufacturer defects being offered as skeeball prizes.

Anyway, we would take these on the ride. Sit em on the floor or our laps...and watch them float away with us as we fell down the vertical slide.

Must have amused us for a good hour. There was no one at the park, it was a high of like 65, during a partial solar eclipse in May of 1996...I'm sure someone with a very geeky astronomy fetish could tell me what the actual date was.

Anyway, a sad day...not unexpected...but sad.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Alaska Really Hot

If it was only this warm when we were at Mendenhall Glacier in 2002! That water still has to be very very cold though.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

"Survivor: Guatemala" Cast Revealed - Yahoo! News

"Survivor: Guatemala" Cast Revealed - Yahoo! News

Yes I watch Survivor.

But that's not why I'm blogging about this. In fact, I could care less about who is going to be on the show. 90% of the people who play are forgettable. It's not their's short term memory.

Anyway, what I find so interesting is that it's set in a Guatemalan National Park. But that's not really what's interesting....I find it very interesting because Lori and I are going through the process of adopting a little girl from Guatemala.

It's interesting because we'll get to go there and pick her up and experience a little bit of the country for myself. Granted I'll mostly be in Guatemala City. I doubt we'll get the oppurtunity to travel even to Antigua, but it will be quite interesting. It's one of those things to see that makes me really want to check out this year's show.

It will be interesting that they are inland for this. They are quite remote as well. The province they are in got it's first paved road about 12-13 years ago.

But for me it'll give me something to look for as we fly over the area, while we look at the volcanos and tropics and ruins. But most of all it'll give me some perspective on the country that my daughter is from. She is of Mayan decent and the "natives" they encounter will clearly be Mayan.

I know I haven't talked about the adoption. I think Lori and I are a little gunshy after what we went through with Lily. It has been quite an exciting summer in that perspective, but Lily is still on our minds when we think of everything. We just are very hopeful that nothing goes wrong.

Right now we've got a Family court date in Guatemala tomorrow, Friday the 12th. We then go through PGN and some other areas before we get the "pink slip". Yes it's the only time in your life where a pink slip is a good thing. We think we should be able to travel sometime in the middle of November to the middle of December.

Anyway, I'll start talking more about our daughter as time moves on. I'll post some pictures and things soon as well, but I think I'm going to start using a service to post those that's a little bit better at handling those sorts of things.

But yes...finally a Survivor that isn't just a silly game for once. At least to me it won't be.

Keeping it Vague

It's quite challenging these days to talk about anything in this space that has to do with work. We've had a lot of change recently (I think mostly for good), but I feel constrained to speak about it due to the trouble one can get into when they say the wrong thing.

Therefore a new hobby of mine has been to search Technorati for blogs that mention my company's name. I've found a few folks out there who do work here, in other offices, that are blogging and occassionally mention the workplace. Mostly it is vauge, dealing with interoffice moves, or travelling to cities for work, or perhaps a programming challenge they encountered.

Probably the closest I've gotten to is dealing with programming challenges, or any neat tools I've encountered to deal with techy problems. I suppose if you're a consultant, or CTO of your own company, or blogging on a company sponsored blog site, it's not a big deal. But when it's your own space, I think you need to keep it as vauge as possible. Otherwise you run the risk of blogging yourself to the unemployment line.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Free Iraq, More Sex For Sale

Iraq's porn dealers risk wrath of religious right

This article just goes to show that you can't stop porn, you can only hope to contain it.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Why the Bile is a great Blog

The Bile Blog is great. As long as you get past the language....or you're like me and finds the language part of the fun.

Sometimes it's not quite there, but the latest post hits the nail on the head about some of the Open Source initiatives. In fact it reminded me of a post I made just over a year ago which touched on similar topics.

The problem with the Java community is that they have a hard time getting over themselves. They're out of touch with reality in many cases. Sure there's been quite a few open source projects that have taken off, but these projects can mostly be categorized into two areas:
  • Projects that have the backing of a large company or (even better) consortiom of companies. Prime examples, Eclipse, Netbeans, JBoss.
  • Projects that were initiated by consultant(s). These are usually fairly good, and I prefer a consultant who has written/contributes to a project like this. Why? Because they have a vested interest in seeing the project succeed. As well, they aren't selling you a proprietary bag of goods (I've been on that side before...bleah). You're buying expertise. Good examples: Tapestry, JUnit.
Sure there are other projects out there that have been successful...but anymore the best OS projects are backed by someone who thinks they can make money with it. It's not about a hippie love fest anymore, which is why great ideas (like Scarab) seem to be half dead on a vine out there while others flourish.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Jackets add Foote

So today, the Blue Jackets pulled off the signing of Adam Foote.

That was nice.

Good to see that McLean is sticking to his word (and I always felt he did...he earned a lot of respect from me when he called me to try to get me to renew my season tickets).

Regardless, Adam Foote is a very interesting signing, a huge upgrade on the defense. They still need another, however, as the blue line has been quite weak. Rumors have them on the trail of one Brian Berard. He's much younger (28) and appears to have come back quite well from his eye injury.

It may be quite an interesting season with some real signings in Columbus to go along with the young guns on offense.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

OpinionJournal on AFL-CIO Split

In OpinionJournal today, the article on the Big Labor split of the AFL-CIO that happened on Monday.

Although I agree with the article, we all know it's not going to happen. Labor is stuck in a "make the big companies pay" rather than looking at ways to become more competitive globally.

And for that, I see a completely different tact. The unions need to spend money globally. They need to be working in countries where this practice is going on. Why not figure out how to unionize Mexico, China, India, whatever? Big Labor's founding priciples are alive and well in these countries. Instead of whining about NAFTA and CAFTA, figure out what's required to assist those people and help improve their wages. Make it more expensive to do business in Mexico or India.

It reminds me of the story I read a while back about a company that was founded in appalachia, where much of the coal mining work had dried up. What did they open up? Call Centers. To compete with whom? Indian call centers? Was it cheaper? No, it was still a bit more expensive than outsourcing to India. But, their service scores were higher than an Indian call center. Is it worth it to spend the additional bucks for better customer service? For many companies the answer is yes.

Unions need to be rethinking things globally. It's not enough to do the reeducation suggested in the OpinionJournal article. It's about bringing the union movement to the people who need it. And they have to pick and choose their places. They need to avoid places that just opened a new plant, and come back in 5-10 years when they have a fighting chance of success.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Java Testing Hissy Fits, or How I Learned to Test Without JUnit

I recently ended up in a flame war about JUnit, TestNG, and JTiger on The Server Side. Check the link on the title to see the exact thread.

The downside is, I allowed myself to get drug into the flames. The upside is, I believe I was able to make my point that JUnit is not the be all end all of Test Frameworks.

JUnit is a wonderfully well supported tool. Is it the best thing? No. Is it pretty damn good? Yes....for authoring and executing unit tests.

Part of the issue I have with JUnit is that it seems that if you're trying to do something other than unit testing, you end up with a solution that is more about hacking the JUnit framework so you can run in a pretty GUI than actually authoring tests.

Let me outline an example. I will warn you that I am going to make every effort to obfuscate he actual innards of the software package I'm using such that I don't violate secret corporate type things.

In this scenario, I am testing HTML pages that are constructed using, for lack of a better term, flexible container objects. (If you know what pattern this is, please comment about it and I'll correct.) The main container contains some beans containing text to display on the page. Think of it as a bunch of beans with getText() type methods. Some beans can be named as keys differentiate the container it from another customer's page. Each bean can be organized into smaller sub-containers that further describe the text within them. Each bean gets a name that describes what the text inside it is. It's a loose format and can be used for many different clients very quickly because you don't have to develop custom beans. You just tie them together.

Each container object is constructed by parsing a binary image file. The object is then loaded to a database for access via JSP.

So what am I testing? I'm testing that no links that have been parsed are broken. That no images are missing. That the HTML is valid.

Pretty simple tests? Can be done via a spider? Probably, once you find a way to generate all of the encoded URLs. What about just mocking a container up with limits?

Ahhh, there's the difficulty. Because I'm reverse engineering these objects from a binary file, we might make a mistake. Instead of grabbing 4 "line" beans in my address area, I've grabbed 3! What caused this? Is it a problem? How will I catch this?

So you say, unit test your parsing. Can't do that, how do I mock binary data? How do I know what the limits are? I have a client that one day sent in 5 lines of address, and we handled it fine, because I didn't enforce an artificial limit that the client claimed to be true.


Well, it's not that I don't trust them. It's just that their systems are legacy and the business rules are generally so old that no one can remember them all. So I expect any limits provided to break within 6 months of production. Hence, we code loosly to try to prevent any breakage. It's an art form. Too loose, major problems. Too tight, missing data.

So in essence, I test the object AFTER I parse it. I create my own acceptance test that says, I expect to have say 4 lines in my address or whatever.

What can happen, and has happened, is I find I've gotten 10 lines! Uh oh! So now, I can go back, look at the specific input stream and figure out what needs to be changed, on my end to make it work...the client isn't going to change.

In the flame war, a great comment was made:
Testing is a trade-off because the time is limited and the tests are endless.
This is exactly why this had to be automated. And exactly why JUnit could not work. You see, I had a test suite running in an ultra-hacked JUnit. I overrode about half of the relection methods in TestCase! Not ideal because I shouldn't be spending all of this time working on a framework. I should be writing tests!

It's also not ideal because of how JUnit handles memory. Once I start generating dynamic tests, the memory usage is incredible. I essentially could test two thousand objects. But it's not uncommon to have fifty or one hundred thousand to test. I need to leave for the day, set up a script and start testing on today's runs. It's not continuous integration, but it's the best I can do with the environment.

Unfortnately it's not as simple as just calling getters. It's generating the testcases dynamically. TestNG allowed me to replace the hacked TestCase with a @Factory annotated method:

@Factory( parameters = { "testClass",
"voucherString"} )
public Object[] factory(String testClass,
String runID,
String limit,
String DBUser,
String DBPassword,
String URLPrefix,
String URLSuffix,
String cipherAlgorithm,
String cipherKey,
String voucherString) {
List fixtureList = new ArrayList();
List objList = getObjList(runID,
int intLimit = 0;
try {
intLimit = Integer.parseInt(limit);
} catch (Exception e) {
intLimit = 100;
try {
Class theTestClass = Class.forName(testClass);
Class[] args= { String.class, String.class };
Constructor theTestConstructor = theTestClass.getConstructor(args);
Utils.log("TestFactory2", 2, "Adding test instances");
for (int j=0; j < objList.size() && j < intLimit; j++) {
new Object[] {(String) objList.get(j),
(String) objIDs.get(j)}));
} catch (Exception e) {
"Returning " +
fixtureList.size() +
" test objects from factory method and beginning tests.");
return fixtureList.toArray(new Object[fixtureList.size()]);

I hope that's readable. I know that blogger is having trouble dealing with the Java 5 object reference on the list.

Each test object takes a URL and an ID. They then use a setUp with @Configuration(beforeTestMethod=true) to resolve the issue of OutOfMemoryError that JUnit provided. TestNG requires a few extra hits to the J2EE container because of the setUp grabbing the webpage, but that's not a big concern. Then each @Test() method just uses the webpage object to test whatever it needs to test!

The other advantage of this, is that it can also be used to troubleshoot production issues without having to pull data down to an alpha environment. For example, if a problem occurs, with a specific type of end user, I can quickly setup a test to determine how many customers are impacted by the actual data in the database, rather than (yet again) have the client overstate the problem as the end of the world.

In essence, the flexibility of TestNG solves my unique problems. I'm not writing unit tests. If I was I'd probably use JUnit. It's a really nice thing to have a "standard" like JUnit. But it's nicer to have something like TestNG in my toolbox for the situations where JUnit just isn't the correct solution.

That said, I will be interested to see if JUnit 4 provides the flexibility I require. I would be quite surprised if it is, but I welcome that surprise.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Rockstar Boo!

Well, it appears RockStar has essentially shifted from being closer to the Apprentice to closer to American Idol.

FWIW, I found it to be much more entertaining with INXS playing Donald Trump than Dave Navarro playing Paula Abdul. I guess it'll shift back and forth, but I was really more entertained by the Apprectice like format of the first episode than the second.

If the Carolina boy doesn't go from the voting, INXS should boot him in the next cycle.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Andrulis Gone

And pandemonium ensues at the Big Soccer Crew Forum and Crew Fans everywhere celebrate.

This season is toast, I don't even care. It's just good to have Greg out. A nice enough guy, but it's pro sports and that just doesn't cut it.

IT Investment Keeping Mortgage Rates Low?

This is a theroy that's been tumbling about in my head, but stay with me for a little while. And please forgive me for using terms that aren't quite correct (but feel free to add comments to correct me, I'd appreciate the lessons).

What if, the real reason mortgage rates are staying low is that lenders have found ways to reduce their overall costs of originating those loans.

The reason I think about it from this different perspective is that I don't really understand why the talking heads have been wrong about the rates. Too often I've heard...rates are going up...and they, well, don't. I mean not enough to be concerned about.

What if the real reason is competition and the drive of these companies to find ways to reduce costs. Costs of selling the loan, costs of originating, etc. Today you don't have to talk to a person to get a loan.

But that's not the whole story.

Backend systems, the ones that process payments, or do background checks are being moved off of hardware that is more costly to run. Not just from a programming/support resource standpoint, but from energy standpoints. They're being moved into Linux or Windows farms, which are easier to find cheaper resources to maintain.

Every one of the companies involved looks for ways to reduce costs. Why? Because then they can offer a better loan rate. They can offer something that their competition can't, and make a better profit. This competition helps to keep rates down. They're not "artificially low" by any means, investment in IT solutions to reduce overall costs is allowing products to be produced that couldn't exist 20 years ago, when the costs to run the back office were much higher as an overall percentage of operations.

Then again, maybe this is just a small zit on the rear of the mortgage industry. But for some reason, I think there's a little more to it than that.

Monday, July 11, 2005

INXS RockStar

Interesting, this RockStar show.

At first I was a bit wary that we were looking at American Idol, but it's not.

I was also concerned about cramming 15 performances into an hour show...unimportant, at least at this stage.

Some acts they thought were good, I found to be weak. I believe they eliminated the right person. She was just not the right fit. And probably about 4 or 5 actually look like they could fit at this point.

It would be interesting to see the winner be a woman, but I think they have the largest challenge.

Interesting to see them not even mention Dave Navarro's Jane's Addiction membership. Then again, Perry's probably got some sort of lawsuit to prevent that. Why? Who knows?

Should be interesting to check out tomorrow's show where they had to fight over 14 songs and figure out who would sing what.

Links to essays in Best Software Writing I

Brevity.Org Has published a list of essays that exist in the book "Best Software Writing I". These are definitely fun to read, and actually are good columns about real issues.

I have just read a few, but Larry Ostermans' column on metrics is especially insightful. For those of you who are working in shops that have taken on corporate wide quality initiatives, like Six Sigma or CMM, you might find the simple example of a QA team as a microcosm of some issues you may see in your own shop.

Likewise, Starbucks does not use Two Phase Commit is also quite interesting in looking at how a "web services" (asynchronous communication) problem is handled in a coffee shop.

These articles aren't Java, .Net, or OSS fanboys whining about various assorted crap. They actually deal with issues, the types of things you hope your management is trying to understand. It's good to see.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Roller Coster Tycoon 3: Soaked --- Too Easy!

So I picked up Soaked the other day.

This after spending some good gaming hours over a month finally completing all of the scenarios on the original RCT3.

Soaked, is really pretty and sweet...but there's one small problem. The scenarios are cake.

I've had the expansion for a little over a week, and have completed 4 of the 9 scenarios, while spending perhaps 2 hours of gaming time on each....Max.

Hopefully they get more challenging. The problem is the new "challenge" items that appear. They tend to be extremely simple, which can instantly gain you $5000 in cash, which eliminates debt problems.

In RCT3 I found myself having to restart a scenario after making poor judgement calls. In Soaked, I've made poor calls, and been able to dig myself out. In RCT3, I found some scenarios taking 4 to 5 Soaked, I've finished them in 6 months.

Beautiful game, but where's the challenge?

Final Patio Pix

Very long delay in getting pics up, but here they are.

The steps are filled with decorative rock, and the new rock garden area next to the steps is now completed.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

KDF-E42A10 Also Too Wide

I found the following link to Sony's documentation to find the width of the new 42" Grand Wega A10.

Alas, the same issue here as with the Samsung 42". They're both about 1" too wide. The 42" A10 is 39 3/8" wide, which means it's either a "really expensive" 37" panel TV or a heavy tube TV that will fit in the 38.5" wide cabinet (where 38" is truly ideal).

Maybe the 2006 models will have something that will truly work out for me. It's sad as these models are said to "fit in the same space as a 36 inch tube", when in reality, 36" tubes shouldn't take up 39+ inches of width.

It's very frustrating and unfortunate. I'm sure Sony and Samsung make a lot more off of their rear projection units than their tubes.

Russian Astrologer Sues NASA Over Comet

My only question on this story is, what took them so long? And now, how long before the American astrologists start to sue.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

What's the deal with Hybrid Irons?

So I've been looking at hybrid irons (kinda strange considering how little I've actually played golf this year), and I'm trying to really figure out what the big deal is.

Are they somehow more "manly" than the 5 wood or 7 wood?

You see, I still have my 5 wood from my initial full set of clubs from when I was 15. And I'm looking at it, and the head size on it is tiny...much like these hybrid irons. The curvature on the head is different, of course...but I get the feeling someone figured out that a 5 wood is a great club, but it just needed some dressing up.

When I was in high school, the 5 wood was the "go-to" club for me. I could hit it about 200 yards and was very consistant with it. Now, go out and find a 5 wood and it's head is 4 times the size of the old Square Two club. It doesn't cut through rough as well either. It gets the ball up much much quicker, but it's not as versitile.

At one point I was thinking about replacing the 5 wood I currently have with another...but now I'm thinking of ditching the 5 wood all together and going with some sort of 2 iron hybrid, which in essense, gives me back the old utility club that I used to love. Too bad they're so pricey now because they're the "in thing".

Yeah Yeah, Patio Pix soon

Eventually I'll get around to taking the final pix. Hopefully this weekend after I paint the back door frame. It's definately in need of some touching up! I've been busy with fixing some drywall in the garage. One day I guess I pulled in a little too far.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Google Earth

Be very very geeky.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Patio Project Nearing the End!

This weekend was a long one. I spent about 4 hours heading to Home Depot for wall parts on Saturday, and built 3 of the 5 courses of the wall and glued down quite a bit of the steps. I also began digging and settling in a drain pipe into the new flowerbed.

Hauling fifty fourty-one pound stones is a lot of work, even over two days. Not only did the fifty that make up the sitting wall get moved once onto a cart in Home Depot...they were hauled into the Escape...then onto a pallet at home...then around back and set temporarily on the wall...then taken down...then glued on. So that's, what...conservatively 300, 41 pound dead lifts? Nope, don't need to go to the gym this weekend. In addition, I moved 12 of the other wall type to create another edge to the flower bed and 12 other stones that make up the sides of the steps. A lot of lifting!

The steps are great. On Thursday Scot and Ryan came over and helped to build the foundation out of cinder block and mortar. It was good as I had never used mortar before. Good to have someone show me how not to screw it up. It's not that it's hard or rocket science, but it's good to see it done.

So now the only thing left is to purchase rock and some sort of edger or more wall to build a rock garden on the edge of the patio on the other side of the stairs. That's it. Rock garden and put stone in the other step area.

So the end is in sight!

Wall and Steps

A look down the top of the wall and steps.Posted by Hello

Patio Furniture

New furniture from Sears Posted by Hello

Wall, Steps and New Chair

Completed Wall and Steps with a new lounge chair. Posted by Hello

Monday, June 06, 2005

Huge Patio Weekend

It was an immense weekend for the patio. An enormous 12 hour day on Saturday completed the laying of the stones.

And we thought it would take 6 hours...ha!

It was very good that Scot was there to help me, or it would have taken me 24 hours. It was even better that Neil offered his time around 10:30 am, or we would have been there until midnight laying stones.

It was a long day.

The heat had a lot to do with it, as it was the first truly hot day of the year. The temperature hit about 88 here, which is 10 degress above normal (it hit 90 on Sunday). That, along with the humidity near 90% brought unusual weather for Central Ohio.

And yet, here we were moving 142 patio stones that weighed 35 lbs each, and over 1 ton of sand to the back yard.

First, we piled up the sand, and began to scree it. At that point we realized that there we measured wrong and that the patio stones were actually 1.5 inches in height and not 2 inches.

That was annoying. We needed more sand than we thought at that point.

The other annoying part was dealing with how the paver base settled. The heavy rains didn't cause it to settle as flat as we originally left it, which is ok, since it settled, but annoying since it often caused us to dig a little channel through the base in order to fit the 1" PVC pipe used to scree the sand. It always looks simpler in those do it yourself guides, doesn't it?

Regardless of the pain, I am estatic to have this done. Scot and Neil were a huge help and I can't thank them enough for donating their time and energy. I definately got in my reps on the 35 lb dead lift Saturday.

On Sunday, Lori decided that we needed to clean up and plant we went and picked up some flowers and a set of solar night lights from Home Depot. The lights look really cool and were a good deal, 6 for $50. The flowers have really taken to the top soil, which I am very happy to see. Some have already begun to sprout even while only planted for 24 hours!

Next step is, the steps. Once that's done, I can take my time and build up the sitting wall as well as the side egress/dog "facility" area. But huge progress was made, only a few good days away now.

Soft touch of flowers

Flowers add a nice soft touch between the wall and the patio. Posted by Hello

Patio up close

Used too much sand to fill in the gaps between stones. A lesson learned. Posted by Hello

Retaining Wall Adds to the Look

The wall adds a really nice look, blends very well. Posted by Hello

Patio Pavers Laid

Patio area almost completed. All that remains are steps and a sitting wall. Once the steps are in, the patio will be "useable". Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Arrested Development?

No not the show..

So it wasn't the TV audience with no clue, it's the studio audience.

Maybe it's because they have all of their music piped in,or played by studio musicians, but they still suck.

If anything, freaking Tiffany was actually pretty good. Loverboy was better at doing Hero than they were their own song! Same for Flock of Seagulls, who apparently is pretty much doing metal.
Very interesting.

At least the other acts seem to be trying something new, while well, Arrested Development still sucks.

Overall the show overall sucked. Mostly because the acts were poor in the first 15 minutes.

All of the old hits were worse than the covers....go figure. Probably because we expect too much out of the old hit, especially live.

The production budget seemed to be the equivelant of a BBC broadcast, and they went total cheese, which was correct.

But because the first acts were so painful, and the fact that the viewers dont get to vote...the show sucked...there is no inbetween.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Hit Me Baby One More Time

"It will either be brilliant, or it will suck, there is no inbetween" - Unknown

Oh this looks funny.

I'm a sucker for funny/cheesy reality shows, especially in the summertime when tv is pretty much throwaway in any case. As long as they keep the cheese factor up, it will at least make me laugh.

What's scary is the little poll they've got going on. Almost 60% of the polled think more highly of Tiffany or CeCe Peniston than the others. The downside for those artists is that they actually have to perform. They did get one thing right...Arrested Development is polling at the bottom. They suck, and were overhyped by someone at MTV. The fact that they actually have to perform will hurt them anyway. They were horrid at Lollapalooza and no one that I've talked to who was at that tour thought otherwise.

I don't see how A Flock of Seagulls or Loverboy doesn't blow everyone else all rights Loverboy seems to have the most talent out of this bunch. But knowing the American TV auidence, Tiffany will end up winning.

PatioBlogging Memorial Day Update

Difficult weekend.

Accomplished a lot on Friday and Saturday. Got the base truly level and sloping appropriately for drainage. Got top soil and have the sides of the wall filled in. Built the step for the egress area.

Obviously have the entire wall built..although that occured on Thursday night.

Was getting ready to lay the patio on Saturday, when it decided to thunderstorm around 2pm. So fortunately, we had not gathered up the sand. Sunday was spent cleaning up the backyard, and getting rid of excess sod and wood. And Monday just isn't good for rounding up some assistance in completing it.

So perhaps the patio will be laid down today, otherwise it will be waiting until the weekend. Until then there is plenty to do with chopping up clay soil and keeping some of the excess sod alive in case it needs to be placed somewhere. I'm a little concerned that it's too far gone, but we'll see.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Alias Cliffhanger Better than Lost's

And Lost had a damn good cliffhanger. I'm certain no one expected "The Others" too look how they did. The items they possessed, as well as their method of transport were not what one would have initially expected.

I believe most people were hoping for a pure sci-fi type of explaination, or new sci-fi question. But instead we had something quite low tech. A kidnapping, two big explosions, and a broken ladder leading somewhere very very deep. A very strong two hours, with an excellent final hour

Alias on the other hand, had a very throwaway first 50 minutes. There was little doubt what was going to happen in the end. However, the cliffhanger was very good for long time viewers. The 1 minute it took to setup the cliffhanger creates questions that make you debate any action that Vaughn took over the past four years.

The simple words, "My name is not Michael Vaughn" followed by a truck slamming into the side of the car (did it kill Vaughn?) sets up a cliffhanger that amazed me. I thought Lost's was excellent, but I thought more about the Alias cliffhanger this morning. So what do we have? We have a Alias cliffhanger that is exceptional.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

More Wall Progress

Third course of the wall and finished step area. Posted by Hello

70 lb Rock Found in Soil

New stone for the front yard landscaping found beneath the wall. Posted by Hello

Gravel Photo Day 9

New smaller gravel pile after Sunday Posted by Hello

PatioBlogging Day 8 Recap

A delayed post on what happened on Sunday.

Sunday was difficult in that I didn't accomplish nearly as much as I originally hoped. We did accomplish a lot, but it just wasn't what I expected. We were successful in finishing the soil level of the wall, and were able to set in the bottom stair area. That was huge. It is fully glued and supporting the base without the need of the stakes in that section.

I also moved a lot of gravel into the backfill area. Unfortunately, I still have a lot of gravel that I will need to move.

At 1 pm, it began to rain, which effectively ended the productive part of the afternoon. I got in another 45 minutes of work around 7 pm before it started raining again. I had hoped to glue in that top layer, but I want to have dry wall stones to do that.

Wall Taking Shape

Wall Begins to Take Shape Posted by Hello

Shrinking Gravel Pile

Much Smaller Gravel Pile on Sunday Morning Posted by Hello

Monday, May 23, 2005

24: Jack to Save Universe Next Day

According to the promos, Jack saved
  • The President on day 1
  • A city on day 2
  • A nation on day 3
  • The world on day 4
By that logic, he must be getting ready to save the Universe from the likes of either the Borg or the Sith on Day 5.

Find out in January if it's Jumped the Shark for certain. It seems pretty close right now, although it was an entertaining season.

Highly @#&*!@! Annoying

ITD CAREERS � Blog Archive � PatioBlogging Day 6

So I discovered today that these !*@(!@ at idtcareers are scraping my blog entries and plunking them down on their own site.

With any luck, this post will end up there. Hello !(&*@)(!@bags!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

PatioBlogging Day 7

Today was a huge day. Worked from about 7 am until 4:30 pm, with a break for lunch and a trip to Lowes in there somewhere.

Scot came over and my boss Neil stopped over for a while too. We made a huge dent into the gravel mound, and there is probably a little over a ton left. That was rolled out over the base and compacted slightly with the old school water weight roller.

We then began the tedious process of digging out the first row of wall stones. This was not really difficult, just time consuming. It takes a lot of time to dig out the area to a good level, and then settle it into a sand/quikcrete mixture. The idea behind the quikcrete is that once it rains and gets moist, the mixture will help the stones to setup. It should give them a little bit of extra strength.

We completed about 70% of the first course. After Scot left around 3:30, I worked around the yard and cleaned things up and also built up the second course of stones at the lowest point of the wall. Definately going to need to purchase more stones. It looks like it could easily end up being another 80 or do. Not certain at this point how many will be required. I believe that the third course will require about 40 stones, which would leave me with around 10 to complete the fourthe course...not gonna happen! In addition, I need to build a four course sitting wall at the top of the patio, which I figure will run around, 40 stones.

We'll see how close I end up.

Pictures to be posted tomorrow, probably after working to get some good before and after shots again.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Outlining the Stone Wall

55 Stones Provide a Perimeter Posted by Hello

Seven Tons of Gravel

Seven Tons of Gravel and Patio Stones Posted by Hello

PatioBlogging Day 6

This morning Home Depot delivered 150 Patio Stones and 144 Retaining Wall stones land Jones Top Soil delivered seven tons of gravel.

It was very efficient this morning. Home Depot showed up around 8:45 am, and Jones showed up a scant half hour later. I was able to get into work quite effectively.

When I got home this evening, I began to move sod around to provide a path for the retaining wall. At this point it is an estimate. It may come a little further away from the patio, or it may come closer to it. We'll a bit more tomorrow.

The main concern I have, is the dampness of the base. We had downpours on Thursday night, with probably about an inch and a half of rain. The base has sunk a little bit, but not too much. I think ultimately this is a good thing. All else fails, the patio drops a half inch, which would be just fine, as I think it may have been a bit on the high side anyway.

More updates tomorrow after gravel moving day. With any luck it will be dry enough to start on the concrete base for the steps in the afternoon. Otherwise, it might not start until next weekend.


Eject! Eject! Eject!: SANCTUARY (part 1)
Eject! Eject! Eject!: SANCTUARY (part 2)

I'm sure at some point, someone will come along and tell us why he's so wrong...but until I actually could believe that person, I'm going to read this and be happy that there are those who see the world in a similar skew to myself.

The world is a much simpler place when you look back to the playground and remember what right and wrong are, and why there are rules about things (like military uniforms).

It's a long read, but well worth the time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Leftover Sod

I have a lot of sod leftover Posted by Hello

Staking the Retaining Wall

More stakes to fix the plywood retaining wall Posted by Hello