Still broken

January 12, 2003

After the checking of my e-mail did its expected multiple timeouts this morning, I decided it was time to make my now semi-daily call to the front desk to bitch. This time I got a jovial young man ready and willing to fire off BS excuses as to why the network was completely broken. Today I was told that not only has new bandwidth been ordered and would be here within two weeks, but he acted as if it would arrive at the door from FedEx or something. Seriously, he made it sound like they were expecting a package within two weeks and this would solve all of the problems — how ignorant. I realize you can't expect too much of a technical explanation from these people as their job isn't computer networking, but rather manning the front desk of an apartment complex. Either way, I would like a REAL explanation and feel that I deserve one as does everyone else that lives here. I was very close to pointing out to this guy that whatever he is talking about isn't going to solve anything, something a very simple traceroute from here to ANYWHERE will easily show (that is, when you can do a traceroute, because half the time you can't resolve the target anyways), but I knew that it was pointless to even bring it up. The network is just wacked out and it's my assumption that somewhere along the line an agreement fell through and and now we, the end users, are paying for it. At least this time the guy didn't tell me to go to the page of the people that supposedly handle our network, Paetec. Good thing too, because for the last few months there has been no site configured at that address. No surprise there. I guess in two weeks all will be fixed. I'm NOT holding my breath.


January 09, 2003

For those not already familiar with Opera, I strongly suggest you check it out. Not only has it been my favorite browser for years, but there is really nothing comparable out there. Period. Linux or Windows, Opera is what I use. Mozilla is its closest competitor, but it still has a ways to go.

The main reason I've stuck with Opera for so long is, if for no other reason, because it remembers all the sites that you had open before something went awry or you shut the system down. Let's assume that you, like myself, always have at least 20 browser windows open. Now, let's also assume that the browser crashes, your computer craps on itself, or something else happens that causes the browser to die. With Opera, when you bring the browser back up, you are exactly where you left off (there is an option to disable this). I think the importance and usefulness of this feature is self-evident and so I won't elaborate further.

I said that was the main reason, there are many more. Opera is extremely fast. I regularly have 50+ windows open and it never misses a beat. It's infinitely configurable which is ALWAYS good (you really can't understand this until you start playing around with all of the options). You have the ability to completely turn off pop-up windows. This has been a feature of Opera for a while. Ok, I have to stop praising everything, but only because I have a lot of schoolwork and really need to get back to it.

I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything; Opera will do that on its own if you give it a chance. If you are thinking about trying it out, be sure to get Opera 7 (beta) as it was completely re-written from scratch and is much faster and obviously more standards-compliant than its predecessors.

I can't stop drooling

January 07, 2003

Apple has done it again. Look at this new PowerBook — 17-in (1440x900) screen, all the previous PowerBook goodies plus Bluetooth, FireWire 800, and 802.11g (backwards-compatible with b). Ugh, I don't know what to say. All I know is that these better be IN STOCK when I look to buy one. I've been talking about these forever and absolutely cannot wait to own one. The beauty of Apple plus the brilliance of UNIX — what more could anyone want?

10 credits left

January 06, 2003

My last semester of computer engineering at the University of Florida officially begins today. I'm taking three courses: Digital Design (hardest course in my curriculum), Senior Design, and Legal and Social Issues in Computing.

Myself and three of my good engineering friends (Jorge Power, Ty Fiebig, and Sean Reilly) plan to make a voice-controlled IR TV remote for our Senior Design project. It's going to be a very long semester.

One more thing, if anyone out there is aware of a news aggregator that can check RSS feeds every 30 minutes or so and alert me of new entries, please speak up.


January 05, 2003

The search feature has been implemented. It will let you search through all of the blog entries. The link can also be found in the menu.


January 05, 2003

The network here at the apartment complex keeps going in and out. For those of you that know me personally you know that it's MAKING ME CRAZY. There is absolutely no excuse for the checking of my e-mail to time out 90% of the time (I'm actually checking it through GPRS on my mobile phone as I type). This went on for the last two weeks of last semester and after repeated calls to the front office I was assured that it would be fixed by the time we got back from break. The best part is that when I initially called to complain, the poor little girl working the front desk was all like "Hold, let me check on that... [five minutes later] Ok, sir, apparently we're now allowing access to a website that we previously blocked." BWAHAHAHA. Riiiight. Idiots. Either way, this shit better be fixed pronto else I'm droppin' elbows.

Back in Gainesville

January 04, 2003

Just arrived back in Gainesville. Looking to spend the next few hours cleaning up/organizing my room because it is COMPLETELY disheveled at the moment. I'm also thinking about putting some search functionality into the site so that might go live tonight, though I doubt it — too much other stuff to get done.

Not looking forward to getting back into the fast-food routine again. While on break I was spoiled by great food from my dad, grandma, and friend's parents. *shrug* Whaddya gonna do?

Much to my liking, it doesn't look as if anyone will be moving in this semester, leaving the four-bedroom apartment to myself and Carlos. Two of my best friends moved out over break as they graduated last semester and so I was slightly worried about them putting in two complete strangers. I guess there is still time for them to move in but it seems unlikely. If I talk about some people moving in later then someone please remind me to edit this entry so as to not let the new guys see what I wrote. :P


January 04, 2003

Well, I think we can all agree that Miami was robbed of the National Championship last night. What a jackass call — are you kidding me? I'm not really a Miami fan, but as the Gators didn't make it to the Fiesta Bowl this year, I thought I should at least cheer for the Florida team. It was actually a GREAT game, save the TERRIBLE pass interference call against Miami which gave the Buckeyes 1st and goal in OT. If I were a Miami fan, I'd be pretty livid.

So, let's see, the Gators, the Seminoles, and the Hurricanes all lost their respective bowl games. Go Florida.

I'm headed back up to Gainesville early this afternoon. Classes start on Monday. Joy.

Fiesta Bowl!

January 03, 2003

If you aren't watching the game tonight you should be shot. It's gonna be a great game. Well, maybe not (can anyone beat the 'canes?), but it's going to be fun to watch regardless. If it's half as exciting as the FSU-UM game earlier this season, we are in for a good show. Though the Gators should be playing this game instead of Miami (BWAHAHAHA), they aren't, and so I'm left to cheer for the Hurricanes. Go Florida.

I've come across what are probably the most interesting chapters of the Secrets of the Tomb book today — Chapter 5: The Secrets of Skull and Bones and Chapter 6: The Network. These chapters delve deep into the stuff I am most curious about: the twice-yearly meetings for all of the patriarchs, the "Life History" sessions, the Bush [and other promiment family] affiliations, etc. Not only were a lot of the rumors I had previoulsy read about debunked by this book, but many things I was unaware of had light shed on them. It's been a very entertaining book.

Chugging along

January 02, 2003

I finished the fourth DVD in the New York documentary I spoke of earlier. Only 6 more hours (3 DVDs) to go and then I can start the one on Napoleon.

I'm not sure there are too many things I enjoy more than sitting outside under the shade and listening to music (yes, I know it's January 2nd, but I'm in Florida and it's currently 73 degrees). I Just queue up the iPod and drift away. It's rare that I have time do that and even now, when I'm on break from school, I feel guilty just sitting out there, but dammit, it was only for a couple of hours. I recently aquired a pair of Bose TriPort headphones and can't put them down. I've gone through a lot of headphones and can genuinely say that these are the best I've owned. With that said, I have a really nice pair of Sennheisers begging for new ears if anyone wants to buy 'em. :P

My brother asked me to help him install his new TV screen in his truck today. Yes, TV screen. He's all about wasting money on that truck. I guess the whole idea is to eventually connect his PS2 to it — so he can play while he's driving? Don't ask me, because I don't know.

Top ten of 2002

December 28, 2002

In a very non-surprising move, I've come up with my top ten albums and movies of 2002. The music list was actually pretty easy to build — I know I'll be listening to most of these for years to come. In fact, the Coldplay album could, over time, squeeze its way into my top ten of all time. I'm in love with it. So tragic and beautiful, so good.

  • Coldplay - A Rush Of Blood To The Head
  • Norah Jones - Come Away With Me
  • Beth Orton - Daybreaker
  • Counting Crows - Hard Candy
  • The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
  • Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
  • Beck - Sea Change
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - By The Way
  • John Coltrane - Ballads (remastered)
  • Dave Matthews Band - Busted Stuff

The movie list was a bit more difficult to create. There just wasn't too much "great" stuff this year. Keep in mind that I haven't seen Gangs of New York, Pinocchio, The Hours, About Schmidt, Adaptation, or The Pianist yet. I'm sure some of those would have probably made their way onto the list.

  • Amelie
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • Spiderman
  • Minority Report
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Road to Perdition
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • About A Boy
  • 8 Mile
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding


December 28, 2002

It was brought to my attention that Lake County, the county I moved to in fourth grade and where I 'grew up,' is the THIRD OLDEST county in the nation! That's right, as far as old people go, the average age of this county's citizens is the third oldest in the country. Unbelievable.

Like a sponge

December 26, 2002

Though I'm currently on a short break from school, I can't help but to read/watch all that I can. I'm currently reading Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power by Alexandra Robbins, herself a Yale secret society member. So far, the book has been quite engaging, spending the first ~50 pages to give sufficient background on the history, traditions, and customs of Yale so as to be able to understand the secret societies' purposes and roles.

There are a couple of DVD sets I'm watching as well. The first of these is a 7 DVD behemoth, simply titled, New York: A Documentary Film. It's a 14-hour PBS documentary that exhaustively runs the gamut from New York's initial founding by the Dutch in 1609 all the way up to present day. I actually started watching this last xmas break, but only got about four hours into it. I plan to finish it this year.

Another DVD I plan to watch before heading back to school is Napoleon, another PBS documentary. I can't wait to start this one. Time permitting, I'll get all of this done, but something tells me that friends will keep me from it! :)

Be sure to check out the video I just got of my brother's truck bouncing on its bags. There are also a few new pics of the truck up there.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

December 24, 2002

Couple of things going on today. I've obviously redesigned the site somewhat. Mostly just CSS changes (and of course, everything still validates). It all works how it should in all of the 6.x/7.x browsers. I'm not quite sure about 5.x browsers as I can't test them here. Let me know what you think and keep me aware of any problems encountered.

Been playing around with the Tivo quite a bit today. We just set it up this morning at my dad's place. Pretty awesome little device. Hope he doesn't miss it too much when I bring it up to Gainesville with me after the break. Perhaps if it was mine I could get away with that but seeing as it is his, he'll probably notice. ;(.

He bought a 512MB DIMM of 168-pin PC-133 SDRAM which doesn't fit his computer (surprise surprise) — I'll give it to the first person who lets me know that they want it (make sure you know what type of RAM your computer uses) as long as I don't have to ship it somewhere.

Well, tomorrow's xmas and I'll be heading up to Lake City for the day to see the rest of my family that I seldom have time to see. Hope everyone has a great holiday.

Nokia 7210

December 20, 2002

Well... as I noted a few days ago, my new mobile phone has arrived. Great phone. Period. I can't help but to compare it to my *dead* Sony Ericsson T68i. The phones offer many of the same features; in fact, the only real difference is that the T68i had Bluetooth, but that is really a nonissue as I don't have Bluetooth on the notebook (I sync using IR).

A small list of some of the best features:

  • GPRS
  • IR
  • FM Tuner
  • 12-bit color screen (128x128)
  • J2ME (downloadable java applications/games)
  • speakerphone
  • MMS
  • shared memory

This phone is the first Nokia phone to use the new Series 40 operating system instead of the well-known and quite ubiquitous Simplex UI found in all of their other phones. In all honesty, I can't say that I've found anything glaringly 'wrong' with the phone in the last few days. The response time on the menus is incredible. This was especially noticeable when sending SMS messages (*much* better than the T68i in this area).

The loudspeaker is one of my favorite features. I've become quite accustomed to not having to hold the phone up to my ear as my land line phone has a speakerphone built into it as well.

The shared memory feature is really awesome, especially for someone like me. For those not familiar with this concept, it is just the idea that all of the programs within the phone share the same memory pool. If one program gives up some memory, then that memory is available for other programs. So, for instance, since I *never* use non-vibrating rings, I have NO use for all of the new-fangled polyphonic ring tones. I just delete them and automagically open up more space for images, java games, e-mails, etc.

The thing that really won me over was the initial sync that I did with my notebook through IR. To make the point here, with the T68i, the initial sync took close to 30 minutes. I moved over 6 months of future schedule entries and ~200 contacts. All subsequent syncs moved as slow but since there wasn't as much information to move over, it wasn't as bad. Regardless, it was simply unacceptable to sit there and literally have to watch each entry go by like it was racing the ketchup out of the bottle. The worst part is when it would just 'die' mid-sync and you'd have to start over again (which sometimes required a reboot of the phone). Anyways, enough of that. On to the EXCELLENT sync time with the 7210. The initial sync took, I kid you not, no more than 1 minute. It was insane. Actually, I thought it screwed up and so I checked it out. It moved everything over just fine. All syncs since the first one have taken ~10 seconds. Amazing and how it SHOULD be.

I could go on talking forever about all kinds of other small little features that make my day but I don't have the time. I'm VERY impressed with the phone and plan to have it for quite a while (Don't laugh! I had the T68i for ~6 months, I can do it again).

In other news today... LORD OF THE FRIGGIN' RINGS tonight!

New Topten

December 16, 2002

Today, between grueling study sessions, I put together a list of my top ten 'best-of' albums. You can find the list on the lists page.

One more final on Thursday and I'm done for the semester. One more semester and I'm done with computer engineering.

New mobile phone *should* arrive tomorrow, else I'm bustin' some heads. I'll obviously elaborate on the phone once I've had a few days to play with it. Back to studying I go...

You can't hit me on the hip

December 11, 2002

Well, my beloved Sony Ericsson T68i mobile phone was murdered yesterday. It was a tragic drowning for which I am to blame. I was in in a rush and it was put into the wash (along with my wallet).

Not sure what path I'm going to take. I'm kind of in a conundrum because, as most of you know, I have to have a phone on me at all times, but, as it is the middle of the month (and December no less), I'm hurting for money. As I noted in a previous post, I've kept the T68i longer than any other phone I've had (and I've owned them all, well, almost), and I think I might go back to it. The problem with that is that I ordered it from overseas (unlocked) as it wasn't yet available in the US. It is now available here, but not through T-Mobile, which means I'd have to order from some other place (again). This is expensive.

We'll see. I'm obviously gonna do that research thing that I do so well and see if I can come up with anything. The fact is, there's just nothing else out there that has all of the things I want, but that has always been the case and probably won't change anytime soon, if ever.

If only I was born later

December 08, 2002

If only my parents could have had me later than they did. I have to think that every generation thinks the same thing at some point — "if only I was born a little later." I've always thought about this, but for changing reasons. I used to wish that I would have been born later so that I could have had all of these 'computerized' toys that are rife with kids these days. I remember when mobile phones first started to become commonplace and wishing I had one when I was like eight. Forget walkie-talkies.

The latest thing causing me to second-guess the timing of my birth is the slew of articles that keep popping up concerning the 'cataloging' of one's entire life. There is a major research project under way to make this a reality. The idea posed by the MyLifeBits project (mentioned in this Wired article) is that everything you say, do, read, write, and experience is saved in some indexed and searchable manner. The reason this idea and wanting to have been born later coincide is because I could have started 'archiving' things earlier. I have all of my e-mail going back to mid-1998 (I didn't get this obsessive, digital-packrat mentality until around that time, else I would have e-mail all the way back to ~93) and take digital pictures (and some video) of just about everything. Anything I've ever created or worked on is saved and dated. The MyLifeBits project extends this idea to cover much more — in fact, there isn't too much that it wouldn't save. Gordon Bell, the leader of the project, says, "I like to think of it as an accurate surrogate brain." I realize this idea won't sit well with those less-eccentric types, but as it happens, I'm all about it. I think it is neat, if for no other reason, than to be able to show your kids your entire life and how you've developed into the person they're now familiar with. I don't know, the whole idea really excites me. There are obviously a lot of pieces missing from the puzzle. Most notably, we need a way to centralize the saving of 'everything' we do and to do it within some database that supports a self-descriptive data format (XML comes to mind) so as to be able to keep up with the technological advancements that will always dictate how we interact with the data (i.e., always being able to convert the data to the 'now' format so that it will be accessible).

I don't think we are too far off from being able to mess around with this. In fact, to a much lesser extent, I feel I've been doing this for years. Currently, I have ~800 CDs of digital information. As far as searchability is concerned, most everything (what's on each cd) is cataloged in a database, but the data itself obviously isn't. I'm certainly not going to attempt this until I have to move all of my cds to some other media (I think I'll wait for the successor of recordable DVD). Even then, you will have to span databases across multiple media, unless, of course, you just wait for multi-TB hard drives to come out as the MyLifeBits project suggests. But this approach is flawed in my opinion as 1.) it doesn't easily lend itself to backups and 2.) you are storing EVERYTHING on one piece of equipment (not too safe). OK, before I get carried away with this, I guess the point I'm trying to make is that this concept, in and of itself, is not necessarily new, but the ability to do what the MyLifeBits project is attempting is certainly new, and in my humble opinion, very exciting. I plan to follow this thing pretty closely. Happy archiving.

The transition is complete!

December 02, 2002

I have switched CMS's and have been hacking the new one up for the past couple of days. After moving my blog entries over from the other CMS, I began dissecting this current one until I was satisfied. As it stands now, the site contains no font or table tags. The positioning of everything is done through the CSS file and what are called 'boxes'. Because I wanted to keep the same layout as my previous design, I knew what I wanted before I began and so it was slightly easier when I started writing the stylesheet. In a nutshell, it's a 640px box which encloses two smaller boxes, one for the menu and one for the 'content.' Each of these smaller boxes is defined as 'absolute,' meaning absolute with respect to their container (the 640px box I spoke of earlier).

The only real snag I had, aside from the initial confusion over being table-less, was that for some browsers it was changing the position of the content block relative to the menu block. I narrowed this down to happening only when the content block was shorter than the menu block (ie, on my photo and contact pages). This occurred in Netscape 7, Phoenix 0.4, Mozilla 1.2, and Opera 7.0 beta. Not surprisingly, all of those but Opera run the same rendering engine — Gecko. Also, Opera 7.0 is brand-new and is surely more standards-conforming than the old Opera 6.05 or IE 6.0, neither of which broke the layout. I did some research and have found that others are having the same problem (it's essentially shifting one of the boxes 1px to the left/right). I currently work around the problem by simply inserting break tags to make the content area on the broken pages as long as the menu. This resolved the problem in all of the problematic browsers. If I weren't using the same stylesheet across all of the pages, then I guess I could just define the content box to be as long as the longest static page, but I am, and so I can't do that as the main index page grows/shrinks dynamically.

All of the XHTML and CSS validate (check links at the bottom of the menu).

This should be it for a while as far as complete, under-the-hood renovations are concerned. Finals are right around the corner. When I get a chance, I'm going to add an archive section and link to it from the menu.