In my element

January 29, 2003

2AM Taco Bell runs. All-nighters. Mom jokes. The semester is in full swing.

Good night/morning.

What's going on?

January 28, 2003

So, I'm sitting in my apartment, working on my digital design project when I hear a knock on the door. I'm thinking that it's a friend of mine who was coming up today. No, it was one of the girls that lives below me. I actually ran into this girl last week and exchanged words. We talked for no more than 45 seconds and about nothing of importance. Anyways, so, she is standing at my door and asking to come in. She hands me a CO-ED form and tells me that she is moving in during the summer.

Moving into my apartment! I'm just like "What? You're moving into this apartment? You've known me for all of three seconds, what are you talking about?" It was weird to say the least. We talked for the next 10 minutes or so and she was explaining the situtation, which frankly, sounded like nothing more than her wanting to get away from her rooommates or something (her roommates knew nothing about this — I found that out when I went downstairs to give this girl a telephone number and was greeted by her roommates). The story she told me was that she wanted to procure my apartment for the fall, but that kind of fell through when I just asked her to ask the leasing office to let her specify which apartment she wanted when she signed a new lease for the fall. She danced around that by saying that she wasn't 100% sure that she would sign for the fall and that if she did she would wait until there were some 'deals.'

So, I call "Matt," the person she says she spoke to in the front office. Matt proceeds to tell me that this girl said that her and I were friends and that was the whole reason he was even entertaining the idea of her switching to my apartment (assuming I said it was OK and signed the CO-ED form). Well, we aren't friends, and like I said, I only knew this girl for 45 seconds prior to this incident. Matt didn't like the fact that she lied to him.

I called her and let her know that I really liked living by myself in the four-bedroom apartment and that I'd like to continue that as long as possible. I told her to call Matt and ask him to put her at the front of the line of possible move-ins (if, in fact, they were planning to move someone into my apartment over the summer). She was upset and even let out a final, sad, "Are you sure?"

Dave Barry

January 27, 2003

Dave Barry, the prolific humor columnist, started his own blog a few days ago. He even talks a little about RSS in today's entry:

People have been asking for something called an "RSS feed." I have no idea what that is, and neither does my Technical Support Department, Judi Smith.

Surprised

January 27, 2003

After a 1.5 hour wait with D-Link's return office (have to love the speakerphone built into the handset), they are in the process of shipping me a new wireless router. Save the wait, there was no fuss or hastle, as it should be.

Path To War

January 26, 2003

Yesterday I watched HBO's much-hyped Path To War. Not only was it incredibly engaging and entertaining, it really enlightened me on Lyndon Johnson and the climate of mid-60's America.

What I enjoyed most was the painting of Lyndon Johnson as a horribly conflicted man who couldn't make a decision of his own. He came across as being genuinely concerned for the betterment of America, but let himself be coerced by his cabinet to go against "every bone in [his] body."

After watching the film, I read the following timeline about the Vietnam War. Quick, informative, and to the point.

Strike this movie and The Gathering Storm up as two more entries into HBO's incredible film library.

Wired

January 25, 2003

To complement the POS network currently running through my apartment complex, my wireless router decided to die last night. That's right, it simply stopped advertising its signal. I was browsing around and then my signal suddenly dropped to ZERO. After trying everything I could I sucked it up and called D-Link. It was a very short call. I told the tech that I had no signal and that the "WLAN" light on the router was off and he said, quite matter-of-factly, "It's broken." He also told me that they would send me a new one without much hassle. Of course the office he pointed me to was closed and won't be open again until Monday. Either way, I'm assuming they will be sending me a new one next week. In the meantime, I'm running a 25-ft Cat-5 cable from my ex-roommates room (it's closer than mine) to my notebook in the living room.

RDF feed

January 23, 2003

I added an RDF (RSS 1.0) feed to the site today. The link is under the 'syndicate' heading in the menu to the left.

FeedReader

January 23, 2003

For those who found Syndirella helpful, be sure to check out FeedReader, a news aggregator I came across today. Though it is lacking some key features that Syndirella had, it offers the ability to open up links in browsers other than IE (as long as some other browser is set as your default browser and you only open the link from the list of entries, not from the link supplied with the summary). That feature alone is enough for me to start using it instead of Syndirella. FeedReader isn't completely problem-free though. The main thing I don't like about it is the inability to specify the number of articles it keeps current; Syndirella can be set to delete entries after it reaches a user-specified threshold for a particular channel. Another major problem is the display of dates. It seems to have trouble parsing certain RSS dates (i.e., on my computer, the dates next to all of the entries are off by a day). They are aware of this problem and are working to fix it.

Lots of Robots

January 21, 2003

Andy Murdock's Lots of Robots is one of the most impressive things I've ever seen. As you watch the video, stay cognizant of the fact that this guy did everything himself — the story, the writing, the music, and all of the animation. Wow.

New counter

January 21, 2003

As you might have noticed, I made the counter visible about a week ago (below the menu). For the past few years I've been using a Perl script called Count to keep track of the number of visitors to the site. My major beef with Count is that it will only report back an image of the counter value, not plain-text. Though it offers quite a few options regarding the look of the image, I wanted plain-text so as to keep with the overall layout of the site. To make a long story short, I wrote a very simple (six lines) PHP script to do the counting and now I have a plain-text count value.  :)

Preliminary proposal

January 21, 2003

The preliminary proposal for our senior design project was due today. It's available here if anyone's interested.

I have a dream

January 20, 2003

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

If man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Syndirella

January 18, 2003

As most of you know, I'm a news junkie and for a while now I've been searching for a GOOD news aggregator. After an exhaustive search, I believe I've stumbled upon the best one out there. Just a few days ago I was praising the greatness of fyuze, a web-based aggretator. A web-based program was the last thing I was looking for, but it turned out to be the best of those that I tried/read about — until now. Though the new client that I've found takes nothing away from fyuze, I prefer it because 1.) it is more configurable, 2.) it isn't web-based, and 3.) the 3-panel layout (not unlike GOOD usenet readers).

Syndirella is truly brilliant. Not only does it accept most RSS feeds, but it also allows you to define 'web feeds' from sites that don't actually have any form of syndication. To do this, you tell it the site, it pulls down the source and you sift through it and tell it the format of the title, description, and date... given this information it can parse through the source each time you update and will return the latest entries. Very neat.

Whether you are doing an RSS or 'web feed,' you are offered the ability to specify how many past entries to store — this can be controlled by the number of entries or days (or unlimited). You can also specify how often it should check for updates. This is great for two reasons. The first is that everything is completely automated; all you have to do is click and read. The second is that it gets around some of the limitations imposed by sites that will only let you update once every hour and even then will only allow you to retrieve the last five entries. By setting your update interval to an hour, you bypass this completely and are able to get all of the news, assuming there weren't more than five posts (or whatever their threshold is) within the hour.

I've had no real trouble with it so far. I really enjoy the fact that it displays clicked-links within the client itself. The only caveat is that it uses Internet Explorer to do this, which can't be changed. Given that I loathe IE, this doesn't sit too well with me. As it stands, when something interesting comes along, I just copy the link and open it in Opera. I have a feeling the authors will offer the ability to choose the rendering engine in the future (e.g., Opera, Gecko, etc), because who doesn't feel WIDE OPEN when they use IE? I mean, really people. Either way, I'll be using NetNewsWire on Mac OS X in a few months anyways.

I realize that this news aggregation thing isn't for everyone, but if you are half as bad as I am with requiring yourself to stay informed about everything you can, then I'm sure this will be of great help to you. If this interests you at all and you need help finding a syndication channel for your favorite site, don't hesitate to ask.

You have to feel for me

January 18, 2003

Just when I thought it couldn't get worse than this, we have the following traceroute to google.com:

$ traceroute -d google.com

1 3 ms 2 ms 3 ms 192.168.0.1
2 * 3012 ms * 64.80.126.1
3 * * 3077 ms 64.80.19.73
4 * 3189 ms 3069 ms 157.238.179.1
5 3365 ms * * 129.250.26.206
6 * * * Request timed out.
7 3343 ms * * 129.250.5.14
8 * * * Request timed out.
9 * * * Request timed out.
10 * * * Request timed out.
11 * * * Request timed out.
12 * * * Request timed out.
13 * 3302 ms * 208.172.156.13
14 * * * Request timed out.
15 * * * Request timed out.
16 3174 ms * * 206.79.9.205
17 * 3351 ms * 216.33.153.68
18 3341 ms * 3181 ms 216.33.153.197
19 * * * Request timed out.
20 * * * Request timed out.
21 * * * Request timed out.
22 * * * Request timed out.
23 * * * Request timed out.
24 * * * Request timed out.
25 * * 3335 ms 216.239.35.100

Nothing but 3000+ ping times! At least it's consistent, right? Bleh.

Adding insult to injury

January 17, 2003

So, my senior design group and myself stroll up to Dr. Gugel's office today (our senior design advisor/sponsor) to discuss some specifics of the project and what does he have in his hands — a PowerBook G4! Apparently he just got it and was in the process of setting it up. I told him that for the rest of the semester when I walked into his office he would have to hide it so that my attention wouldn't be pulled away from our project.

One step closer

January 16, 2003

I've secured 'bids' from two friends on my Dell Inspiron 8200 notebook, putting me one step closer to being able to get a PowerBook G4. As I've said before, I plan to get one as soon as I graduate from engineering. It was so annoying throughout college to have to stop running Linux just so I could use some Windows-only software for a class I was taking. I'm moving to Mac OS X as soon as possible and don't think I'll ever look back.

Secrets of the Tomb

January 16, 2003

I've finally finished the Secrets of the Tomb book by Alexandra Robbins. I realize I started it over break and that it isn't very long, but after arriving back in Gainesville I read it only while I was on the bus to and from school. I found it to be really interesting (if, like myself, that kind of thing interests you :P) and have already convinced a few friends to read it.

Unbelievable

January 14, 2003

The network is getting worse. Yah, I didn't think it was possible either. To let you guys get a feel for how bad it is, check out this traceroute to news.com. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read these previous posts: here and here.

$ traceroute -d news.com

1 2 ms 3 ms 3 ms 192.168.0.1
2 245 ms 167 ms 32 ms 64.80.126.1
3 380 ms 215 ms 467 ms 64.80.19.73
4 241 ms 265 ms * 157.238.179.1
5 * 461 ms 263 ms 129.250.26.206
6 * * 392 ms 129.250.2.109
7 * * * Request timed out.
8 * * * Request timed out.
9 * * * Request timed out.
10 352 ms 308 ms * 192.205.32.209
11 370 ms * 473 ms 12.122.11.233
12 305 ms 305 ms * 12.122.10.30
13 391 ms * * 12.122.10.42
14 * 354 ms 347 ms 12.123.13.174
15 316 ms * 370 ms 12.122.255.222
16 472 ms * * 216.148.209.66
17 348 ms 353 ms 360 ms 63.241.72.150
18 570 ms 395 ms 375 ms 206.16.0.136

Not fun.

If Bush comes to shove

January 13, 2003

I was informed yesterday that a really good friend of mine and my roommate have been 'called' to duty by the military. My friend Adam is going to be guarding an air base in Panama City, Florida. Apparently, he will be gone for at least a year. Carlos, currently my only roommate (they didn't move anyone else in, woohoo), is headed for Iraq. He leaves tomorrow for North Carolina and then to Iraq soon after that. Needless to say, it's pretty scary.

View your checks

January 13, 2003

I've been doing all of my banking online for years now, but I just stumbled across a very neat feature today. I use Wachovia (not sure if the following feature was there when it was First Union or not), and when I go to one of my accounts it lists the transactions for the last month or whatever. Today I noticed that next to the checks I had written there was a link called "view." This link brings up a scanned image of the actual check — front and back. I don't know, I just thought that was really neat.