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January 31, 2006

QuickTime

If you need to upgrade QuickTime since 7.0.4 just came out for Windows, but don't want to also download iTunes, go to the standalone player page.

Outage

I forgot about one of the joys of hosting from home, having to deal with outages. It seems the router/firewall went south around 1:15am EST and was down until 7:45am EST this morning when I rebooted it. Time to setup some monitoring.

January 30, 2006

Introspection (was Reading)

I've started reading The High Price of Materialism by Tim Kasser after John highly recommended it. This book along with watching the recent Lincoln documentary on the History Channel has got me thinking about my life and what matters in it. The relationship between those two topics may not be obvious and it doesn't all make sense in my head yet either. The linking factor seems to be depression.

I don't know if this feeling stems from some mild hypochondria I always seem to get when this aren't quite right. Maybe my atheistic views are having a negative impact on my well being. Or maybe my introversive tendencies are depriving me of rich interactions. I know that periods of brooding and sulking have hurt past relationships, yet I'm tormented by that invisible shell I project making it hard to break through. This is only complicated by the fact that I'd rather be an ostrich then confront the problem.

I'm sure this doesn't present well to those reading this blog, but then again I sometimes wonder why I even started this blog.

January 29, 2006

Look Now, Pay Later

I recently ranted about television, with the argument that it's not the medium but the message. Today I saw Good Night, and Good Luck, which reminded me of that rant. The film is bookended with a speech Edward R. Murrow made to the Radio-Television News Directors Association in 1958. I highly recommend reading the entire speech. He was a great orator. A lost art in today's world of sound bites.

This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful.

January 28, 2006

NeoPhi has Moved

If you are reading this then everything worked! This morning I moved NeoPhi (well the server is actually called WhiteRabbit) from Basespace.net (a local micro data center) where it had been living for the past two years to Gilman Manor. Where I've been living for the past two months. Now that I have a basement I have a place to put a very noisy server without disturbing anyone or making John go deaf.

I bought a small desktop rack and a new UPS to mount and power my server. I had to cut a little hole in a closet floor to run power and ethernet to the basement but that wasn't too bad. A few configuration changes later it all seems to be up and running. Now to make sure my RAID array is still doing the right thing...

January 27, 2006

Nothing

This entry is about a different kind of nothing. Work this past week was slow. I mean really slow. The kind of slow that makes a turtle look fast. I'd estimate that out of the entire week I did three and a half hours worth of work. Otherwise I was doing nothing. It's hard to do that much nothing. I have a very strong Puritan work ethic and as a result I have a hard time doing nothing. In fact that much nothing is very depressing to me. Why then would I do nothing?

As I vaguely mentioned recently, the company I'm working for is between funding and the future is very uncertain. I'm in a wait and see mode that kind of precludes getting into anything major that I wouldn't be able to finish. The down side to all of this is that it is kind of driving me batty. I think next week I'll bring in a book to read or something...

January 26, 2006

Tradesmen

I don't understand tradesmen. I want to give you money. I want you to come do a job and yet you don't return phone calls, you don't do what you said you would do, WHY?! I can only assume that it is supply and demand. There are just not enough tradesmen out there for the amount of work that needs to be done and since most of it requires a license to do, it's not easy to just fill the void. Blah!

January 25, 2006

Making the Date

I recently ran across an article about some of the problems with how management views a development team and how that can lead to problems. The article goes on to talk about the tradeoffs between time, resources, and features that usually result in a failed project. The crux is that management needs to manage the development team with the understanding that only so much can ever get done and that good management will realize this and adjust the project goals along the way to ensure that it succeeds.

January 24, 2006

ACLU TV

The American Civil Liberties Union and Robert Greenwald (Outfoxed, Unconstitutional) present The ACLU Freedom Files, a revolutionary, 10-part series that tells the stories of real people in America whose civil liberties have been threatened, and how they fought back.

January 23, 2006

Ouch

Friends and I went to East Coast Grill's Hell Night for supper tonight. I left last time not having found anything that really overpowered me so this time I decided to try the Pasta From Hell. I have met my match. The pasta tastes great. However about 20 minutes after starting to eat it I got cramps in my stomach. I ate some more but then decided it was time to stop. The cramps got worse. My vision got funky. My main course came. I couldn't eat much of any of it, even the non spicy bits. I got the shakes. It took me a good ten minutes to eat a slice of corn bread. The shakes lasted for most of the rest of the evening.

This is one of those strange experiences. I'm glad I did it, because hell I can say I ate a bowl of the Pasta from Hell. It's also good to test your limits every now and again in a safe way. Given the cramps I don't know how safe it was but I doubt there will be any permanent damage (Penn & Teller motto). Wow, what a dish. And I didn't even have to sign the waiver form you the menu said I would. I'm still too wired to go to bed now. I think I'll watch some M*A*S*H drink some more flat ginger ale and hope that the Pepto Bismol does the trick.

January 22, 2006

Bananas Foster

At John's birthday on Friday night Brian and Clara attempted Bananas Foster. I tried to capture it as best as I could along with some other pictures from the party.

DC

This weekend ended up being a good and bad weekend for DC. The good part was my weekend visit to the capitol to visit and celebrate David's 30th birthday. I'd not seen David that much since he started his PhD program so it was great to catch up with him and his fiancee Sharon. A great party Saturday with some exploring of the city in between. Just before getting on plane back to Boston this afternoon we walked around Georgetown in the wonderful weather that DC is having (along with the rest of the east coast it seems).

The bad DC news only deals with the fictional. NBC has announced that they are ending the series this year. The ratings drop is the past few years was the primary reason cited for canceling the show. Like M*A*S*H I think some of the best years of the series are in the past so as much as I would love for the show to continue I'd rather have them go out while the series quality is still good. The one good piece is that "NBC plans to precede the series farewell with a one-hour retrospective of the show, including a tribute to Spencer."

January 21, 2006

Doh

Doh! Had our first issue at Gilman Manor this morning. Seems water decided to leak from the ceiling into one of the second floor bedrooms. Blah!

January 20, 2006

LiveJournal

This is mostly a rant about how LiveJournal sucks for syndicated accounts. First it looks like LiveJournal kind of hacked syndicated accounts onto the system. You can't do anything with one once it is created. So if you have to send an email that's a PITA but manageable. The part that really irks me is the fact that LiveJournal has comment links on syndicated entries. Those comments however are LiveJournal specific and don't tie back to the original entry at all. The best part is that once old entries have rotated off of the syndicated accounts, bye-bye comments. So not only does the original entry poster not get the comments, they soon become lost in the ether!

January 19, 2006

M*A*S*H

I recently picked up the DVDs for season nine of M*A*S*H. When I was growing up my father had a half dozen tapes of M*A*S*H episodes that he had recorded. Whenever I got sick I used to watch them. I was working on the adage that humor helps heal. I've always liked the humor of M*A*S*H and over the years the show dealt with many meaningful topics. The ninth season is full of more puns than I remember from previous seasons. I also feel that the over quality of the seasons is declining from some of the earlier ones. I can't quite place my finger on anything in specific but some of the episodes seem more formulaic then in previous seasons. Part of that may also be that I've not seen many if any of the episodes past season seven.

I think part of it maybe that set of memories you created as a kid that makes certain things have great nostalgic value. The problem is that if you try to relive some of them the magic has gone away. I don't know if it is the fact that I'm getting closer to one of those threshold ages or that what matters to me is changing. It has happened to me a couple of times in the past week.

First was playing the game Rummikub last night. I loved that game growing up as a kid and have played it a few times over the last couple of years. However, last night the mechanics of the game seemed trite. I have a bad feeling it may get added to the pile of other nostalgic games that I boxed up and just stored in the basement.

The other slightly more disheartening event was renting some of the Looney Tunes collections. I picked up the discs that focused on Bugs Bunny since he was always one of my favorites. Alas, even though I thought I'd have a chance to catch the other levels of humor I missed as a kid, I didn't find myself laughing like I thought I would. Classics like "What's Opera Doc?" were amusing but not as I remember them. I hate to think that all that I once loved can only be left as memories and never enjoyed again.

January 18, 2006

Changes?

I don't know what is in the air this year but the topic of life changes, life altering, and meaning of life discussions seem to be happening frequently this year. I know I'm in a state of flux with uncertainty at work. One friend is looking to move out of New England to see what it's like living somewhere else. My old flatmate is also looking to move elsewhere in the country. My co-owner is getting married. Her future husband is due to graduate this year. My flatmate keeps talking about really cutting his hair this time. Other people I've been talking to are exploring the question about how to find or make meaning in life.

Oh how I just want to be wading in the velvet sea.

January 17, 2006

Why Software Fails

Digging through old email I ran across an article a former coworker recommended to me. The article
Why Software Fails is a great read. To me it speaks of hubris on a scale I find hard to match in almost any other profession. As the article points out we mostly know what is wrong and how to fix it, yet the advice is continually ignored and projects continue to fail.

Being a professional software developer I struggle with this dilemma. I've ignored best practices, I've been asked to cut corners, I've made buggy code that could have been avoided had I used best practices or not cut corners. The fact that software has not suffered the litigation onslaught found in other industries or professions I believe only perpetuates the current state of affairs. However, like the article points out there is rarely if ever a single cause of problems and the list of twelve mentioned is only the tip of the iceberg.

The article does point out that software is a beast onto itself and may play by different rules:

Even a small 100-line program with some nested paths and a single loop executing less than twenty times may require 10 to the power of 14 possible paths to be executed.
(...)
In a large brick building, you'd have to remove hundreds of strategically placed bricks to make a wall collapse. But in a 100,000-line software program, it takes only one or two bad lines to produce major problems.

As a professional I want to produce the best possible product. When I find myself wavering from the tried and true, I wonder what hope there is for our profession.

January 16, 2006

Pictures!

I have today off. I finally got around to sorting through a bunch of pictures. I've decided to complicate matters and have uploaded them all into my new gallery. The list includes adding a 4th wall to a cube, Christmas 2005, decorating a cube for a birthday, a couple of random photos, moving into Gilman Manor, random stuff done to my cube, the Ruckus holiday party, the big snow storm, a collection of old t-shirts, and a freaky van. Enjoy!

I have a bad feeling about this

The problem with knowing your body is that you also know when things don't feel quite right. I woke up this morning with most of the telltale signs that I'll be getting a cold this week. It's the kind of thing that I don't feel like crap yet but that I've got that not so great feeling in the back of my throat. I really hate getting colds. I know a simple cold shouldn't bother me that much but I always get very moody and unhappy when I get one. Let's hope I'm wrong this time.

January 15, 2006

24

The new season of 24 started tonight. The problem is 24 runs at the same time as West Wing. The solution is the awesome dual tuner DVR that RCN offers as an option. I got addicted to TiVo since my last flatmate had it. The problem with TiVo is that they don't currently offer a stand-alone unit that supports HDTV. The solution is the awesome dual tuner DVR that offers as an option. I feel like I'm repeating myself. It's the Motorola DCT6412 III model. It has quirks, isn't as user friendly as TiVo, and doesn't offer the same feature set as TiVo. It does handle HDTV and it can record two programs at once which to me makes it much better than TiVo. I never used TiVo's recommend feature and the RCN DVR supports series recording, which makes me happy. I like set and forget.

Back to 24. I've been entranced with the series since the first season. I'm liking this new season too. My only complaint with 24 is that it does require a large suspension of disbelief. Besides that the acting is still good, the continuation of the story line is cool with the returning characters and it mostly just feels like an hour of adrenaline packed action. This two day four hour start is strange but Fox has always done strange things with the format of the show. The fact that I'm now able to take advantage of the HD broadcast is awesome. Technology is cool.

January 14, 2006

Tools

Check out Stumble Upon. Cool idea and a great way to kill a couple of minutes, hours, days, etc. If you want to see what I'm up to, swing by danielr.stumbleupon.com.

January 13, 2006

Naps

I like naps. I once made a comment about naps that has actually been used multiple times since which was "It's always nap time." After I came home today I exercised some and when I was doing my post exercise stretching at one point I was on the floor at realized I was starting to get very sleepy. I finished my stretching and proceeded to take a 30 minute nap. It was one of those naps that when you wake up you feel phenomenal. I love those kinds of naps. I don't always get to take them when I want which is why I think I love them so much when I do.

January 12, 2006

Books

For the past couple of months I've been on a book buying spree. I'm not quite sure why. I don't dedicate enough time to reading to read more than I buy. I seem to remember there being a vague quote about buy good books even if you never get to read them. I tried searching for that quote, didn't find it, but did run across another one that amused me.

Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. ~P.J. O'Rourke

The source has many other good quotes about books. Search for the one about Braille.

January 11, 2006

Path of Neo

For Christmas one of my friends gave me the PS2 version of Path of Neo the next Matrix based game. I had previously played Enter the Matrix so I was curious what they would do with the new game. One of my primary reason for playing Enter the Matrix was to view all of the side story from the three main movies. I'd also watched all of Animatrix and most of the bonus material that had been released. It had been awhile since I'd really sat down and played a game which made Enter the Matrix enjoyable.

Since Path of Neo is mostly a play through of the movie, this time as Neo, I was kind of curious what they could do. Unfortunately, they didn't do much. The entire game play is going around and killing or avoiding bad guys in various ways. Hand-to-hand combat, melee weapons, and guns, lots and lots of guns. The in game cinematics are amazing. When you are doing certain combos particularly when focused you get amazing fight angles and sequences. The problem is that's pretty much all there is to the game.

First you go through some training to learn the various skills and then it's off to the races beating up bad guys. About the only level that was really novel was the Merovingian's house which ends up being a 3D maze that you have to work your way through. There are also little things like a slightly odd UI for when it is safe to quit playing that got annoying after awhile.

The best in game movie was the red chair explanation from the Wachowski brothers about how they had to change the ending since Neo dying at the end doesn't make for good game play. That's all I'll say. You should watch it. Overall I'll give Path of Neo 5 out of 10.

January 10, 2006

3312 Part 2

I should so be in bed right now. I sillily didn't bring my laptop home with me when I promised that I would get the latest adoption numbers to my boss for this 8am meeting. I guess that means an early morning trip into the office. But instead of going into bed I'm up trying to get Gallery 2 installed and running. I've tried this once before and had some issues. I think this time I might not try the Gallery 1 import and see if maybe that makes things better. Although I have a lot of data in Gallery 1 so I'd hate to have to manually move it over. I guess I'll figure that out later.

Why this all matters? I'm trying to upload all of the photos and videos from the 3312 event. I'm not sure if this is all working yet, sleepy editing named.conf files is probably not the best thing. Head on over to photos.neophi.com and that will give you Gallery 2 and hopefully the pictures and videos from 3312.

January 9, 2006

3312

The subtitle for this entry is "Or how I spent part of Sunday". There have been a few harmless cube decorations happening at work over the past couple of months. Some of this has been a result of stress (layoffs and uncertainty about funding), holiday giddiness, and just good natured fun. It started one Friday with a cube getting adorned with Ruckus posters and other promotional material. A week later Santa visited my cube in the form of a bean bag chair hung from the ceiling above it. In between there was also some innocent tape placed over a LED mouse sensor. Then a cube was boxed in by filling in the missing wall with a borrowed cube segment. Another cube was decorated in celebration of a coworker's birthday. Just before NYE a cube was decorated with tons of junk collected from the office. This included a hundred business cards, a half dozen empty wine bottles, an old laser printer, about 50 CDs, 30 floppy disks, and other random crap.

I will freely admit to helping with the cube wall placement, especially since it was part of my cube that was commissioned for the event. I also decked out the cube with all of the business cards and helped move some of the others items like the laser printer. Besides that my involvement in all of this was mostly passive. That is until I had an idea, well a variation on an idea. The idea of filling a cube with stuff like balloons or ping pong balls is commonly mentioned. The problem I've always found with either of those ideas is that takes many more balloons and balloon blowing then people realize or that ping pong balls are very small and expensive. A quick back of the envelope calculation says that a typical cube is 8' x 6' x 6' (apx. 497,000 cubic inches). If you figure a ping pong ball takes up 1 cubic inch, that's about half a million ping pong balls. Balloons on the other hand do blow up nicely to fill a lot of space given their initial size, but you need either a machine to help blow them up, or many volunteers. I had neither.

On my way to get my morning cup of tea I spotted the plastic 16 oz. cups next to the water cooler. Those don't take up that much space when packed tightly, but if stacked just right can consume a bunch of volume. Another quick back of the envelope calculation put a 2 x 2 lattice of cups at about 8" x 8" x 5". That means you would only need a little more than 5000 cups to fill a cube. This of course assumes a complete fill. When stacking you will have some wasted cups since you can't stack in a straight vertical line. Additionally, for the space that you can't see (ala under the desk) you probably don't need to fill it to get the same effect. A revised estimate put it around 4300 cups. Not completely out of the question.

I ran the idea by some friends and figuring if it took about 15 seconds for every 4 cups (working off of the original 2 x 2 lattice structure) it would take just under 5 hours. Again, not completely out of the question. The big issue was stability. Cups don't weigh enough to be resilient to taps and jarring. The simple thought was to use tape to secure each 2 x 2 lattice and have that be the basic building block. 2" sections of tape and 4 pieces of tape per 2 x 2 lattice would require about 716' of tape. Still not out of the question.

The victim was the last critical problem. Actually my choice was pretty easy. Given that the primary cube wall culprit was found out, I thought it plausible that I could use that to cover my tracks. Timing then was the last variable. We are moving out of the office by the end of the month and if that's the case things get really crazy starting in another week or two. My victim was scheduled for vacation next week so it was this past weekend or not at all. It was basically going to come down to how hung-over I felt on Sunday morning. Turns out I felt pretty good.

Where to easily acquire 4000 cups and 700' of tape? Well BJ's of course! The weather gave me a little scare with the snow, since my car in its current configuration can't handle more than an inch. Thankfully the roads were clear enough and I was feeling determined enough to risk a little tank slapper driving. Once at BJ's I had my first change of plans. They didn't have the good cheap 16 oz plastic cups. They only had the more expensive cups with grips. All the paper cups were for hot liquids and also way over priced. Thankfully they did have wax cold drinks cups. A little narrower at the top then the originally planned for cups but they made up for that by being a little taller (still holding 16oz). I figured I could make it work. Sold in bags of 144 made the math easy. I only needed 30 bags.

After stacking 30 bags of cups into the cart I proceeded to look for tape. A package deal of tape included 10 rolls at 36 yards each. More than enough for my purposes. The problem with stacking a cart with 30 bags of cups is cashiers, even at a place like BJ's look at you funny. "Big party!" became the excuse to use. Thankfully people didn't do the quick math to figure out that I'm carting out 4,320 cups. 15 bags in the trunk of my car and 15 more in the passengers seat and I was ready to head into work.

I naively thought it being just after noon on Sunday I'd be able to find a spot right in front of work. No dice. Instead I joined the half dozen other cars double parked on the street. I grabbed my book bag and two bags of cups and headed into the building. After signing in I let the security guard know I had some more stuff to bring in and wanted to prop the doors open. Not a problem, in fact she even held the outside door open since I didn't have a door prop for that one. 4 trips of 7 bags and I had all of my supplies inside the office. I now need to voice my first pang of regret. My camera's battery is flaky and hadn't been charged in awhile. As a result I didn't get pictures of the 30 bags of cups in my car or the pile on the floor before I started construction.

After parking on a side street I grabbed some lunch and headed back in. Time check 1pm. Not too bad, only and hour to find, buy, transport, and drop off all the cups. Worst case I'd be done by 6pm, still time to grab dinner and get some of the stuff I really should have been doing on Sunday done. Problem number two. A 2 x 2 lattice was too small to work with. I ended up making a couple of 2 x 7 lattices instead. Problem number three. Unlike the original plan of plastic cups I now had wax coated cups instead. Tape doesn't stick to wax that well. Also, the cups weren't made to the most exacting standards and small variations made getting the lattice flat and stable very hard. After about 10 minutes (so much for my 15 seconds per 2 x 2 lattice) I decided that free stacking the cups was going to be my best bet.

I started with the most difficult space first which was the area in front of and around the chair. I figured burying the chair amongst the cups would be cool (it was). At this point I was still honing my cup stacking chops and had a small collapse on the left side of the chair. Nothing too serious and after a few minutes it was repaired. Listening to tunes on my mp3 player and stacking cups turned out to be a mostly soothing experience, especially once I got out from under the desk. After about an hour the entire chair area had been done and I took a break to eat the lunch I had bought.

Since the minor variations of the cups height when trying to tape them together proved very unstable I thought it best to clear off the desk as much as possible before filling in the main area. Once that was done, building out the desk stacks went very quickly. A couple more hours and both the left and right sides were completely done. That left the last bit which was to fill in the front entry way. By this point I was getting a little tired and almost lost parts of the stacks a couple of times, but overall managed to keep my hands steady enough to complete the process with only one more accident. Total cup building time about 3h 15m.

I finished off by taking a few pictures and filling in some other areas with cups from the last bag I opened. I over estimated quite a bit and ended up only using 23 bags or 3,312 cups. Overall, I'm very happy with how it all turned out. I've already got some ideas for what to do next time, should such an occasion present itself. This story took a little longer to type up than I thought, so I'll have to save the aftermath for another day along with posting what pictures I do have.

P.S. Please excuse all the messed up tenses, I'm still trying to get better with that.

January 8, 2006

Christmas

Alas, Christmas is finally over. I had to take down my tree today. It had stopped absorbing water and was starting to shed like crazy. Since I only put it up one week before Christmas I don't mind leaving it up this long. I've also kind of gotten used to having the tree around for my birthday. I mean Christmas trees just ooze presents!

The neat thing is with the tree gone I actually have all of the space free in the main room now. This is the first time that's been the case since moving in. First there were boxes, then the tree. I'm planning on hanging my signed Matrix poster on the wall and haven't quite decided what if anything else will go there. Having the additional space opening up into the main room is nice, but possibly getting another bookcase would be cool.

The other thing I'm thinking is that it might just be time to weed through my book collection. There are some books that I'm not really sure why I'm holding onto them. I mean I enjoyed reading them and all, but I doubt I would read them again. Some of them I'm sure others would enjoy reading, but in most cases I've already passed those books on. I'm trying to put some thought into this since these past few days I've been very impulsive and really need to take a step back and stop being so rash.

January 7, 2006

Spam

While this isn't an official total since I only started tracking manually filtered spam since Feb of 2005 the averages are still pretty horrible. The totals for 2005 are as follows:

83K messages were delivered to me in 2005
Spam Assassin (SA) helped automatically flag 50K as spam (60%)
I manually flagged 17K as spam (20%)

This means that 80% of the email delivered to me was spam. YUCK!

I've been toying with the idea of using a whitelist only system to receive mail. The problem with that is then random people can't send me email and I've gotten some random email that I would want to get. If you then add on some kind of autoresponse with manual authenticate then those people could send you email, but I'm sure most wouldn't. In researching solutions since my hit rate for SA was so low I stumbled upon the simple idea of "why not use multiple different filters".

If spam can be constructed to defeat a certain class of program its likelihood of also being able to defeat other programs is not as good. The simple extraction from this then is that if you use multiple programs and use a combined weighted score to determine if a piece of email is spam or not you are much more likely to find spam and much less likely to have false positives.

Implementing and maintaining such an approach is much harder, but the idea is that once you have it setup you should be able to easily maintain it. I just need to find some free time to sit down and do that.

January 6, 2006

Conversation

I've come to realize that certain topics of conversation I find easier to have with people that I've just met versus people that I've known for a long time. I suspect that this stems from the fact that I've grown and changed since I met and started interacting with my long term friends. It's as if with my long term friends certain expectations were setup when the friendship was created and to change them now would be a big leap forward. More likely is that the image I want to project to my close friends is different from the one that I might project to someone that I may only see one or two times. Why those should be different is probably the crux of the issue.

I'm reminded of a quote from the His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

I don't think a person should have two sides-a private and a public side. There should be no gap, that is not honest.

If I can't be honest with those closest to me, can I ever really be honest with anyone. I've heard it claimed that that is part of the New England way-of-life, but I must admit it feels kind of daft. I'm reminded (and might have mentioned this before) of a conversation I had with the father of a friend of mine from Thailand. He was aghast at the fact that I only had rough ideas about the college aspirations of my friends. He could still tell me what each of his close friends had wanted to do and where they wanted to go. I don't think I was unique among my high school friends in that regard. It just never seemed to be something we talked about.

This is all something that should change, but I'm still searching for a way that I feel makes it right. I doubt that this forum is the best way, but it's a start.

January 5, 2006

Food

I love the Boston area. Others will lobby for other places that they feel are better than Boston. For me right now Boston is wonderful. One reason I really like Boston is that I've been eating out frequently and really enjoying food. This is a random selection of places that I've eaten recently and recommend all of them:

  • Ma soba (well not recently, but I will this Saturday) Sushi and asian-fusion
  • Tu Y Yo Authenticate mexican food. Things like cuitlacoche (corn’s black mushroom) and cactus paddles
  • Parish Cafe Great sandwiches and during the summer a great outdoor patio
  • Sol Azteca Spanish cuisine and a great atmosphere
  • Fugakyu Wonderful sushi and sake (very busy though)
  • 9 Tastes Great thai food and good dinner box specials
  • Shabu-Zen Japanese "Shabu-Shabu" (cook your food in a big community pot)
  • Yoshi's Inexpensive good quality sushi
  • Lucy's Great brunch
  • Orleans Upscale atmosphere great for drinks
  • Khao Sarn Another great Thai restaurant (Their website is on the fritz)
  • Grasshopper Yummy vegetarian (Can't find their website)
  • Sushi Island Sushi and jazz

That's all that comes to mind right now. Go out, eat enjoy!

January 4, 2006

Transition

Today I ended a part of my nomadic life. I didn't renew my post office box and instead closed it and setup mail forwarding. Not much of importance has been arriving at my post office box since I moved into Gilman Manor, but it is still kind of monumental. I got the post office back in July of 1999. At that point I was moving at least once a year if not more. I got tired of having to switch addresses each time I moved so I just sent everything to my post office box.

In July of 1999 I had been at my sixth place in Boston for about six months. The Mail Boxes Etc. in the student center was forced to switch their mail boxes to some nasty PMB (personal mail box) format as per the US Postal service. (As an aside Jan 8th rates go up to 39 cents). Instead of having to change my address to accommodate the new PMB format I instead got a post office box at the location a few blocks away on Mass Ave.

Fast forward five years six months and another six moves and you arrive at today's transition moment. Yes, in the ten years and three months that I've lived in Boston I've managed to live in twelve different locations. The shortest time I spent living anywhere (besides two weeks spent sleeping on a friends futon because I had no place to live) was three months. The couch bit was due to the Northeastern housing crunch and a failed international co-op. My record, and where I was living, prior to moving into Gilman Manor was three years.

Given the original intent of hating to change addresses since I moved so frequently I guess turned out to be a good idea. At my latest count I've now interacted with 40 companies and organizations to get addresses changed. Granted some of those were minor, but man it is still more than I thought. Well not really, I originally guessed I'd have to issue 100 change of addresses. Ignoring that I'm glad, barring the unforeseen, it will hopefully be a long time before I need to consider anything like that again.

January 3, 2006

Comments Feed

Thanks to a great entry I've now added a comments post to the site. You can find it at http://life.neophi.com/danielr/comments.rdf. I'm sure I did something wrong so let me know :)

object/embed and Browser Based WYSIWYG HTML Editors

One problem I've run across with browser based WYSIWYG HTML editors is that they don't handle fallback HTML well. This problem is most evident when switching between the WYSIWYG view and the source view for an HTML document. I've primarily seen this issue with Internet Explorer when trying to include an object tag. In typical fallback fashion you include the embed tag within the object tag. The problem is when you then switch from source to WYSIWYG and then back to source, IE's internal DOM throws out the embed. The net result, a document that can only be edited in source view or a document that only works in Internet Explorer.

Granted maybe adding an object/embed tag through a WYSIWYG editor isn't the smartest thing, but the fact that information is being lost along the way doesn't give much credence to Microsoft's push for round-tripping. Maybe someone has solved this, but as best as I've been able to tell both FCKeditor and HTMLArea suffer from this problem.

January 2, 2006

Agile Development and TDD

While trying to clean out my inbox today I ran across an old article from Scott W. Ambler about things he overhead at the Agile 2005 conference. In particular the section on Test Driven Development is worth repeating:

FOUR TEST-DRIVEN DEVELOPMENT COMMANDMENTS 1. When you write tests last, the tests are bigger because they take poor design issues into account. When you write them first, you typically end up with well-designed, loosely coupled code. 2. Maximum safety comes from having zero or one failing tests at a time. 3. With tests in place, you can come back to the project months later and pick it up quickly because you have solid ground to work from. 4. If you write tests afterward, you sometimes discover that your code isn't testable.

Everything about test driven development just makes sense. I really need to get into the habit of doing it more.

January 1, 2006

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

Friends of mine have been recapping the year in their own blogs and I feel like I should do the same. But I won't. At least not right now. I'm not sure how I feel about 2005 yet. Words that come to mind include proud and accomplished, but I know that there is more. It's hard to image that another 31,536,000 seconds have gone by in my life. I can't really think about my life in terms of seconds. Maybe little bits of it here and there, but as I've gotten older and am about to get officially older the chunk of time that matter changes. 8,760 seems a much more manageable number. I could probably if I spend another 1 or 2 come up with that many events, thoughts, feelings, from 2005 that would be worth writing down.

As years go 2005 was a good year for me. I didn't accomplish all that I wanted, but instead I accomplished goals I didn't have at the beginning of the year. Flexibility then is another good word for the year. At a dinner this past week the question of what one word could you use to describe your drive in life was brought up. Others at the table chose words like creativity, privacy, and balance. I chose exploring. I don't think that's quite right though. Instead my word should have been searching. For me exploring connotes a known base that your are expanding your knowledge out from. For some parts of my life I don't feel as there is a base, so I'm searching for that starting point to then explore from.

I can't recall the last time I made a new year resolution and this year won't be any different. Just like my disdain for Valentine's day, you shouldn't need a certain occasion to express love, I don't think you need to wait for a new year to want to change your life. I maybe a little bit of a hypocrite in that I still love Christmas, but I'll ignore that for now. If I did have to pick something for 2006 it would probably be minimalism, but I'm still undecided at this point.

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