Chet Zema Blog

In 2016 I transformed my website from a little-used blog to a resume. I have removed the blog functionality and the database. This single page is a record of all blog entries and comments.

Welcome4/11/2005 1:23:03 PM

Well, after four days of coding I have finally changed the website to a blog format.  I was sad to see the previous layout go (because it was one of the few websites that I have done that I liked).  The new layout gives me a few more options, and it is green... which is nice.

Anyways, now that I have a web-based content editor, I will post more often.  I will share new coding techniques, funny stories, current thoughts, etc.  Feel free to post a comment on the blog entries.  If I don't like your comments I can always delete them. :-)

You are such a good boy, Chet. - Mom @ 4/15/2005 4:22:47 PMThanks Mom - Chet @ 4/15/2005 4:50:49 PMyo chet...i was playin around with my lap top and don't you know i came upon CHETOS....sounds like your keepin bizzy.....keep up the gud work...(don't ya jest h8 fonix) - ken nordheim (spy_der2 at hotmail dot comma) @ 4/17/2005 5:56:40 PM

Mafia4/12/2005 3:48:37 PM

Have you ever played mafia?  Well, I have found a great website that lets you play online.  It provides an interesting variation in that there are no facial expressions, giggles, or other tells.  Everthing is based on what people have said and *how* they said it.

Either way, I figured I would share that.  Go to to play.  For mafia information go to

Trackball Mice4/17/2005 7:32:32 PM

I often times see people using trackball mice, so I thought I should try one.  I loved it.  It took about 2 days to get used to it, but now I can never go back.  I used to get pain in my wrists every few weeks, I haven't gotten any for 9 months.

It is quicker than a normal mouse, more precise, and takes up less room (you don't get to the edge of the mousepad and have to pick the mouse up and move it).

Also, I convinced Wayne to use one and he is hooked.

Still, I have a hard time playing Quake with it, I have to switch to a normal mouse for that.

I now see a new mouse which you use your index finger to move, perhaps I will try that out next.  It looks slightly harder to use though.

Lawnmower Wheel Size4/17/2005 7:37:50 PM

Well I just finished mowing my yard.  I have noticed something that I thought true for years, but now I can prove it: the bigger the wheels the easier it is.

Back when I mowed my parents yard, it wasn't until we got one with bigger wheels that it become easier.  I always attributed it to my age but...

When I bought my house someone gave me a lawnmower in return for some computer work.  It has big wheels.  I had to mow my brother-in-law's yard last weekend because he couldn't (surgery).  His had smaller wheels.  There was a definite different in the amount of work.

So, I can now say for certain that the bigger the wheels the better... so... go out and buy a better lawnmower... now... do it!

Latest Channel 9 Video4/18/2005 9:59:24 AM

Channel 9 is a great website for people interested in the very, very latest Microsoft stuff.  They have interviews with developers, a forum to talk to fellow Channel 9ers, and much more.

The latest video is an interview with members of the Avalon development group.  Included in the article is a demo showing off some features of Avalon.  This stuff is amazing and is going to change the way users interact with the computer.

Unfortunately, I am using VB Express Beta and it does not support any .NET version higher than 2.0.40607.  The November CTP of Avalon went with this version so I was able to play around with it.  However the March CTP (which includes Indigo) installs version 2.0.50110 which I cannot use. So after installing Indigo I and then reinstalling VB, I have to uninstall Indigo and restall VB again. :frown:

Warning on Using MSXML24/19/2005 3:01:25 PM

Whenever I need an ASP file to get the contents of a different website (for various reasons), I use Set objSvrHTTP = Server.CreateObject("MSXML2.ServerXMLHTTP").  I got the code to do it by visiting several help sites that talk about it and putting it all together.

I have a "Mail a Friend" feature on a website which sends a webpage to someone via email.  I use the MSXML component to get the webpage code and send it using Persist's ASPEmail.  Every few days I have to restart the IIS service because it hangs when getting the webpage.

Well I got tired of doing that so I did some research and appearently, even though MSXML version 4.0 is out, calling MSXML2.ServerXMLHTTP defaults to version 2.0.  Rather than chaning it to MSXML4.ServerXMLHTTP, Microsoft decided that people need to use MSXML2.ServerXMLHTTP.4.0

So, if you are using Microsoft's XML parser, be sure to append the 4.0 so you can use the latest version.  Also, make sure you register the dll file that handles that first, it is located in your System32 directory (use "regsvr32 msxml4.dll" to register it).

Worst Website In The World4/20/2005 4:35:19 PM

I was at the mafia message board looking at different members' websites and I saw this one.  This is quite possibly the Worst Website In The World.  Don't bother scrolling down because it is stupid.  Just look at the top.  Ouch!

Edit: Looks like someone saw my writeup here and decided to remove the site.  It is no longer there and I thank whosoever removed it.

Thought Provoking4/21/2005 8:32:20 AM

If you knew a woman who was pregnant, who had 8 kids already, three who were deaf, two who were blind, one mentally retarded, and she had syphilis,would you recommend that she have an abortion?

If you answered yes you just killed Beethoven.  Have a nice day.

Roll over Beethoven, and tell Tchaikovsky the news... - Anonymous @ 4/25/2005 2:29:06 AM

Quake 34/25/2005 8:50:24 AM

I hosted a Quake 3::Urban Terror LAN party at my house on Friday.  It was great.  Stayed up until 5:00 shooting at Wayne and Josh.  Nathan and Joe came over as well, but I didn't shoot them too often (if you know what I mean).

Longhorn Build 50484/25/2005 2:33:54 PM

Well WinHEC is finally over.  The only reason I care is because hundreds of people with the latest version of Longhorn are making it available online now.

I have to reinstall Windows on my laptop, so I figured I would get the latest version of Longhorn and install that instead.  It is still in pre-Beta and only 1/3 of the planned features are implemented, but it is considered largely stable.  I ordered Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2 yesterday (for free) so I hope that if I install it on Longhorn it will take advantage of the new core features.

My biggest concern is the fact that it must be installed off a DVD.  I had Build 4074 on DVD and it wouldn't install on my laptop.  I did go back to some earlier build but it was slow.  I think that since I already have an operating system, I might be able to to a clean install and not have to go off the DVD.  If not I will have to do something (not sure what though).

UPDATE: I was not able to boot the DVD.  It took me forever to even burn the ISO file (and 3 DVDs) but I got it.

I couldn't do a clean install off Windows either.

So either way, I was not able to install Longhorn. - Chet @ 5/6/2005 12:14:09 PM

andthensomemoreandmore.com4/27/2005 3:48:46 PM

This is the longest domain name I have ever seen.  Perhaps the longest in the world.


RSS Feed4/28/2005 4:16:19 PM

I have added a RSS feed to the website.  Just in case you are too lazy to come here and check but are sick enough... I mean interested enough to know what is going on.

You can get the link at  Just add it to your preferred RSS aggregator and you are done.

I use SharpReader and it is pretty nice, but there are tons of them out there.

I also took the time to delve into XSL because I figured if someone just clicks the link to the rss feed they should see something prettier than just plan XML.  It is really cool, I can take a standard XML file and include a command to use a XSL stylesheet, then the browser puts the two files together and displays what is basically HTML.  If you view the source, you will see XML (therefore, RSS readers get what they want).  The XSL file is a mixture of XPath (which I have used quite a bit in the past and is pretty simple) and HTML/CSS.

Who links to my website? - Chet @ 11/20/2007 3:19:24 PM

Chronicles of Narnia: A Horse and His Boy4/29/2005 1:17:37 PM

I finished the second book last night.  Very good.  It is set during the reign of Peter the High King of Narnia (but he is not in the book).  Basically a boy from Archenland (a country between Calormen and Narnia) is kidnapped and taken to Calormen at a very young age.  Many years later he finds a talking horse from Narnia and they venture off together to get back to Narnia (the boy does not realize he is from Archenland, but does know his is from the North).  They eventually find out that a prince from Calormen is going to attack Achenland so they go ahead of him and notify the King.  The King discovers that the boy is his long lost son and they live happily ever after.  The horse goes to Narnia, but visits often.

Joe Got Tiger5/2/2005 4:24:17 PM

Well Joe from Computer Depot got Tiger today (I think, maybe it was yesterday).  He said that there was a plethora of changes, enhancements, and features.  One feature that sounded neat was an RSS driven screensaver (it shows RSS feed data).  And I am glad to announce that he had my rss feed (at as one of the configured sources.

I asked Joe what the top three differences are between the previous version (10.3) and this one (10.4, aka Tiger).  He said (count them)<ol><li>Speed - Not sure what this is, could be actual speed, or a funny name for a new product.<li>Dashboard - Not sure what this is, sounds familiar (like it was in the previous version).  Perhaps it is old but has been improved.<li>Spotlight - This is the next generation of filesystem (and other source) search system.<li>RSS - I guess that the OS has RSS built right into the kernel so you can just post a change and it is compiled in real-time and implemented accordingly... Just kidding.  I think it has a built in RSS reader... which is cool... I guess.</ol>So there you have it, I asked Joe for the top three and he gives me four.  Oh well.

ASP Database Password Protection5/2/2005 4:30:23 PM

If you (for some reason) want to password protect an Access Database but still use it in ASP you have to pass a new parameter to OLE.  I am putting this here for quick reference.

First, set up the database end.  Open the database in Access, make sure you open in "Exclusive Mode."  Click on Tools -> Security -> Set Database Password and enter the desired password.

Next, go into your database access code and add the following to your connection string. Jet OLEDB:Database Password=dbpass

ie, this is how I access the database for this website (when I am in Access Database mode)

oConn.Open "Provider=Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0Data Source=" & Server.MapPath("dbName.mdb") &"Jet OLEDB:Database Password=dbpass"

You are all set.

Hurricanes 20045/4/2005 3:40:14 PM

I thought it would be funny to post this.

All three hurricanes converged on one point.  It just so happened that that point was within 5 miles of my house.


Lets hope that doesn't happen ever again.

I got the map from and overlayed the hurricane track.

Intel 2200BG Wireless Card bug5/5/2005 10:36:21 AM

So I started my laptop up today and it loaded Windows and then gave me a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death).

I have a custom built Centrino notebook with a 1.7Ghz CPU, 1GB RAM, 40GB HD, built-in Intel 2200BG Network Card and a fresh install of WindowsXP Pro SP2.

Now, my computer was set to automatically reboot after a crash so I couldn't tell what it said.  I booted into Safe Mode w/ Network Support (so I could get online) and it crashed.  I finally booted to normal Safe Mode and it worked.

Then I went into the event log to see what was up.  It had the following entry:

The computer has rebooted from a bugcheck.  The bugcheck was: 0x100000d1 (0x10FF03ae, 0x00000002, 0x00000001, 0xf738b8c2).

So 0x100000d1 is DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL and always refers to bad hardware, drivers, or memory.  Well, I was sure it wasn't memory (or, I didn't want to think about that).  And since I just reinstalled Windows I figured it must be a non-updated driver error.

After more poking around I did an analysis of the dump file (located in C:\WINDOWS\MINIDUMP).  The dump file told me that 0x10FF03AE was the memory location for a file called w22nt51.sys (not in so many words, I had to use dumpchk and pstats from the Windows Resource Kit).  I did a google search and found out that w22nt51.sys refers to Intel's wireless card driver.  Eventually I found a website which offers an updated driver.  I got it here

Unfortunately WindowsXP in Safe Mode without Network Support is totally isolated.  I tried copying the file I downloaded to my Jumpdrive, but you cannot access that in safe mode.  I could see it in the device manager and even populate the volumes, but I couldn't access it as a drive.  So I finally had a clever idea... I used the backup utility to backup the file to the harddrive and then restored it to my root directory... I was amazed that it worked.

This story takes a turn for the better at this point.  I installed the drivers with little problem, rebooted the computer, and it worked just fine.

I am posting this for one reason, so people who get a 0x100000d1 stop error can do a google search on w22n51.sys bsod and get a direct link to the updated drivers and a basic method for getting them on the laptop.  This applies to people who have the Intel 2200BG wireless network card and are running non-upgraded (version 8.0) drivers.

I was about to replace the w22n51 file manually when I ran across this... my computer did nothing but BSOD when I booted... I could get into safe mode, but that doesn't help.

Glad I saw this, simply replacing w22n51.sys wouldn't have helped at all. - Allen G @ 6/3/2005 1:30:09 AM
Thanks alot, you broke my computer. - Nathan @ 6/28/2005 10:20:23 PMw22n51.sys is the wireless driver file?  I thought it would be wireless.sys or something.

I cannot believe how hard it is to find drivers on Intel's site! - Anonymous @ 7/2/2005 5:05:46 AM
DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL has nothing to do with drivers. as an IT professional i can say 100% for certain. the BSOD is caused by a memory read/write error it may be memory on an adapter card, or on the system board itself, however this is most likely primary RAM. may only be an intermittant problem, but if you were to try and reinstall windows it would likely fail
- Anonymous @ 8/6/2005 6:27:52 PM
Well, I have to respectfully disagree.  I too am an IT professional and I have a fair amount of experience with this.

DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL is a general error thrown by the kernel any time memory is accessed outside the pageable area.  A device uses an Interrupt Request to gain the attention of the CPU. Newer OSes place several devices on a single IRQ, they use a memory address as a pointer to the drivers for the particular device.

When data is received, the device raises an IRQ and the OS does a lookup to find the particular device's driver location.  At this point one of three things could happen: 1) the memory address containing the pointer is bad, 2) the memory holding the drivers is bad, 3) the driver wasn't configured properly and therefore it specifies a bad memory location.

Reason #1 and #2 are caused by bad memory, in this case changing the RAM will fix it.  Reason #3 is caused by bad drivers, updating the drivers might help.

Also note that it could be caused by a damaged Memory Manager, this would prevent the memory from being paged-in after a page fault occurred.  This is very rarely an issue though--at least, if this was the issue you would be having a whole lot of problems.

I can be pretty sure this was a driver issue and not a memory issue because for one, I wasn't having any issues before I reinstalled Windows, and for two, I have not had the issue for the past 3 months after I updated the driver.

Microsoft Technet
Techspot Troubleshooting
Experts Exchange
A list of BSOD errors and references to known issues - Chet @ 8/11/2005 1:09:45 PM
Perfect, I've been getting this exact BSOD and now I know why. Thank you for posting this!! By the way, the original link is broken and the updated driver can be found here: - marcelebrate @ 1/22/2007 2:07:47 AMThank you, I have updated the link. - Chet @ 11/20/2007 3:31:03 PM

"Bunnie's Adventures Hacking The Xbox"5/5/2005 2:23:29 PM

After I reinstalled Windows last week I went to Asus's website to download the latest software upgrades.  I found an upgrade for the BIOS ROM, so I flashed it.

Then I got to thinking... I hexedited the firmware for my GPS to make it say "Chet Loves Amanda" rather than "Garmin GPS v1.3.2" on boot up.  So I thought that I might be able to do something to my laptop... I really doubt I have the courage to flash my bios with an edited firmware, but it would be fun to mess with.

Either way, I realized the file I downloaded does not have any obvious executable code so I went online to find out what was up.  Well I stumbled across the website of the smartest person alive.

This guy managed to rip the bios assembly off the XBOX even though it is stored in encrypted format and not in the standard location.

You see, most bios code is stored on an EEPROM (Electronically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory).  This means, when you apply power to one of the pins on the chip you can write to it, otherwise it is read only.  The CPU hooks this chip up to its memory controller at address 0000:0000 and begins executing (since the "computer" doesn't know how to read the harddrive on its own, and since there is nothing in memory, it needs a small amount of memory to get it going eg BIOS ROM).  However, the Xbox is tricky.  It has a 1MB EEPROM which stores four copies of 256KB encrypted code... but this is where it gets really tricky... All four copys are fake.  The actual boot code is stored in the southbridge chipset.  The Smartest Person Alive managed to extract the boot code between the southbridge and the CPU.  He posted it on his website, but Microsoft told him to take it off, and he did.

Either way, I would have liked to see the hex dump of that.  I am fascinated by boot code, even though it is in assembly which I am not very good at (but I can make it pretty well).

I highly recommend this website.

WiMax5/5/2005 3:04:56 PM

I was talking to Wayne a few weeks ago and he was telling me that St. Cloud is going to install a wireless network which is based on the landfill mound (don't get me started about local government offering internet access).  I found this interesting because I have never heard of a promenient consumer-class wireless standard that supports long distances (the distance from the landfill to downtown is 2.0 miles and to my house is 2.3 miles).

Well I went looking around and even though I have heard of this I had never really looked at it.  The standard is called WiMax and it is a standards-based wireless technology that provides high-throughput broadband connections over long distances. It stands for "Worldwide Interoperatibility of Microwave Access" and is defined in IEEE 802.16 (as oppose to WiFi which is 802.11a/b/g)

It can reach up to 31 miles away as long as you are in Line of Sight.  You don't have to be in LOS as long as you are closer.  WiMax allows for shared data rates up to 70Mbit/s which is enough to supply 60 businesses with T-1 connectivity.  That is also enought to suppy 140+ homes with DSL class speed (512Kbps).

Either way, if a WiMax tower is placed on the landfill, it should be able to sustain DSL speeds to all residences in city limits as well as mobile devices with a WiMax card.

Unfortunately, WiMax is so new that vendors are competing to get a product out.  Usually what happens at this stage is two "sub-standards" will emerge and half of the people in the world will use one and the other half will use another (like 802.11A and G).  So I am going to wait to get a WiMax card for my laptop until 1) I am sure St. Cloud is going with WiMax and 2) I know what vendor they are going with.

ClearType5/5/2005 3:46:59 PM

I just joined the ClearType fanclub.

Wayne was saying that ClearType was stupid, then I realized that I didn't have it turned on.  Then I realized what is actually is and told Wayne to use it (he was looking at the wrong place to decide if he liked it).

Anyways, I found the fanclub while researching exactly what ClearType is.  Appearantly it is a font-rendering techology that does sub-pixel editing of the red, blue, and green channels to give the text 1) a better look, 2) pseudo-higher resolution.

HackIIS6.com5/5/2005 5:02:20 PM

WindowsITPro Magazine is hosting a contest at  They have put a Windows 2003 Server machine running IIS6, it has all the latest service packs and hotfixes.

I am not even going to attempt to try this, because I have never even pretended to hack.  However, this has rekindled my interest in buffer overflows.  I have now listed that as a Hobby.

A quick explaination of buffer overflows...

When a programmer takes user input, that input is stored in memory.  Each character has a "cell" which is one byte (8 bits).  Lets say the programmer has allocated 4 bytes for a particular string but does not check too make sure the user input is 4 or less (assumes the user will not enter too many letters)

Lets look a the memory for a simple section of code

| 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 |
| # |   |   |   |   | # | # | # |

This is what it looks like before the user inputs text.  The '#' indicates program code.  What happens is at memory location 0 the instruction is to jump to instruction 5 and continue executing.  Since memory is flat (there is no special area for user input) it just jumps over the allocated memory.

Now lets say the user inputs text that is too long...

| 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 |
| # | g | o | o | d | b | y | e |

When the program hits location 0 it is instucted to go to location 5, it then begins executing 'b'.  Since b (in computer terms) is equivalent to 0x62 which is not an instruction the program just crashes.  However, if I was crafty, I could insert 0xB4, 0x02, 0xB0, 0x41, 0xCD, 0x21 into the memory locations starting at 5.  Then the program would would put an 'A' to the screen.  Then the program would probably crash because the next instruction would not have a context. A clever hacker would do some stuff, then put the original instructions back and jump to them.

The hex above translates into:

MOV AH, 02
MOV AL, 41
INT 21

in assembly, it simply tells the computer to put 'A' (0x41) on the screen.

Even though putting an 'A' to the screen doesn't seem like much, the famous MSBlaster worm which infected SQL server a few years ago used this process.  It overwrote SQL's own code with code that would allow it to replicate.

This is why it is extreemely important for programmers to check and verify that there are no open buffer overflows.  Anything from program crashes to hard drive erasure to virus propogation is possible.

Crashed Work Computer5/6/2005 3:06:19 PM

I managed to mess the hard drive up while attempting to resize the primary partition... I wanted to try installing Longhorn on it using a secondary partition.

So Partition Magic managed to crash half way through and mess everything up. (gave BSOD (remember that?) with STOP error 0x00000024)

I am running chkdsk off the XP install CD, hope that works.  I am also compiling a list of stuff I am going to lose if this doesn't work... but hopefully everything will turn out okay.

Everything turned out ok. - Chet @ 5/6/2005 4:35:45 PM

World of Warcraft Arrives5/11/2005 10:37:25 AM

Well I ordered WoW on April 28 and got it May 9.  That was a long time.  I used super-saver shipping which is a big mistake if you actually want it.

Anyways, I installed it yesterday and got to level 8.  That is pretty good because I played for a week during the stress test and got to level 13.  I should be back there by Saturday.

I wrote a massive write-up on what WoW is about a week ago, but it didn't submit properly and I didn't copy it.  I might write another one sometime.

Since I have this new game I probably won't be posting as much in here.  Not that it matters because nobody reads it anyways :-)

war do i get the game world of worcraft. - tanner @ 2/21/2006 5:10:04 PMYou can get it at most large retail stores (Walmart, Target) or any game store (like Gamestop, EB Games, etc).

A new version is about to come out... not sure when though.  I sugguest you wait for it before you buy it.  It is called World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade. - Chet @ 2/22/2006 7:45:43 AM

WOW: Level 15 Finally5/16/2005 4:06:22 PM

Well, I finally got to Level 15.  I have never gotten this far.  I got to Level 13 during the stress test last November, but then it ended.

I am currently in Westfall killing the Defias by Jangolode Mine.  I have a very nice Two-Handed Sword which I paid 40 silver for.  I can deal 50+ HP per attack.

WOW: Level 185/20/2005 8:23:02 AM

I got to level 18 last night.  I was up till 3:00 completing the Deadmines instance with some really nice people.  I kept rolling the dice (on accident) and getting the good items.  I fell bad, but they were higher levels and were used to newbies (me).  However, there were a ton of almost-very-nice items and plenty of them.  I had to get rid of my blacksmithing hammer and some other "common" items so I could pick as much up. (A blacksmith hammer costs about 50c, I could pick up an item worth 10s)

Unfortunatly, I (for some dumb reason) forgot to grab the quest before I entered the mine and therefore did not get a very good XP increase.  I will have to do it again. Probably going to make it to lvl 19 doing it.

WOW: Level 265/31/2005 8:06:58 AM

At level 20 I got that paladin-unique quest "Test of Righteousness" which, when completed, gives me a very nice weapon to use.  The weapon requires four parts to create it, and this quest involves getting them.  This required me to go all over the "world" to get the pieces, including 3 dungeons.  This also enabled me to go to the other contenent (Kalimdor) which is alot like Africa.  It is very cool.

Going to dungeons gives huge XP bonuses, therefore I was able to level up fairly quickly.

Last night I got the third part for the weapon, it just so happened that this was the hardest to get (the Kor Gem in Blackfathom Deeps) then next one I have to do is get the hammer from Strongsomething Keep.  I have heard that it is easier than Blackfathom.

The next dungeon is Shadowfang Keep.  It is in the southern section of Silverpine forest (Horde controlled.)  If you go to there is an interactive map that will show you the location.  There is an alliance NPC village right next to SFK - not sure if you can shop etc there.

Good luck to you - and if I see you in Silverpine I will kill you! :P - Broeken @ 12/8/2005 11:35:06 AM

WOW: Level 306/7/2005 1:53:09 PM

I am now officially half way though the game.  I finally got Vergan's Fist (powerful weapon for Paladins).

I cleared out the rest of the quests based in Duskwood but still needed about 1000XP to get to lvl30 so I walked around killing monsters (at 200XP each) and got there in about an hour.

I also went exploring the Badlands and participated in a raid on The Crossroads.  I just found out that I needed 25 "contribution points" to get an PVP lvl and I only got 15 (I think).

Do not visit6/16/2005 8:16:41 AM

Do not go to

Just letting you know, just in case you wanted to.

Funny Article -or- Gas Tanker Capacity6/22/2005 1:02:15 PM

While doing some research on the capacity of the big gasoline tankers, I came across this article about a smaller gas station going to a competitor with a tanker and attempting to fill up.  They were eventually forced to leave, but not after getting 300+ gallons.

BTW, it looks like a standard gas tanker truck hold 9000 gallons... I wonder how much water a standard swimming pool holds.  Probably about that, I will find out.

Swimming Pool Capacity6/22/2005 1:19:39 PM

Ok, here we go...

I found some numbers for different swimming pools.  Also, I estimate that I pay *no more* than $3.50 per 1000 gallons.  That is a guess, I think I used 4TGALs and paid nearly $14, so it is around $3-$4.

(all numbers are approximate)
An olympic swimming pool (82x164ft at 6ft deep) holds 660,000 gallons that is $2,200 to fill it up!
A wave pool which can accomadate 300 people holds 450,000 gallons that is $1,600
A "regular" pool is 20ftx40ft at 5ft deep which holds 30,000 which would cost me $105 to fill.

Who cares about Norway anyways?6/27/2005 3:32:25 PM

The Norwegian Minister of Modernization has announced that starting in 2006 proprietary formats will not be acceptable in communication with the government.  He does not specifically mention Microsoft, but refers to "the spreadsheet almost everyone (except Norwegians) uses."

Obviously this is just the latest attack by members of the EU on Microsoft.  If they want to continue using abacuses and roller states then fine, but don't act like you are helping the world.

Personally, I hope that MS just ignores these people.  If Norway wants to alienate "the spreadsheet almost everyone uses" then let them be alienated.

WOW: Level 366/28/2005 4:05:59 PM

I finally made it to level 36.  I spent a long time in the Arathi Highlands and Azeroth Valley to get there.  I found out that I was suppose to go to Stranglethorn Vale when I reached level 30 (appearantly that is the place you go when you are at that stage).  Either way, now I am at SV and it is really boring.  It took me about an hour to even find some quests.  I am really tempted to switch to a rogue now, but I think that once I reach lvl 40 things will start to pick up again.

Another thing that stink at this level is that there are so few people at this level.  It makes finding partners difficult.  Either everyone is lvl 50+ hanging out or lvl 30- who are just exploring (like I did back then).

Also, I joined a new guild, "Blessed Warriors."  It was a paladin-only guild when I joined, but they decided to let other classes in... fine with me. They have a website up but I cannot remember the URL.  It is some where in  I offered them web space, but someone there already got that.

It takes 70,000+ experience points to get to the next level.  I only have 20,000 now, so I will be here for a while.  Fortunately Stranglethorn Vale has a lot of quests available so by the time I am done I could easily be lvl 40+ (I have heard you can get to lvl 42 in the zone).

One more thing, you get a quest called Find Agmond which leads you to a quest in the same area.  This quest allows you to get a Rock Pulverizer which will be very nice to have.  However, I cannot find anyone to help me beat it and it is surrounded by lvl 39 mobs and a lvl 40 boss.  Even if I could kill all the mobs, I wouldn't have enough health/mana to beat the boss.

Oh, one more thing... I am at lvl 154 mining... if I can find one more iron vein I can make it to 155 and start mining gold in the badlands.

Computer = Dead6/28/2005 4:17:38 PM

I had a power surge or something at my house last weekend.  It was actually quite funny... I was playing Warcraft on my laptop when the game started freezing up and the house got quiet.  It took me a few seconds to realize that something was up, so I went into the kitchen and noticed the clock was off.  Obviously when the power went out, my desktop computer turned off (which I use as a router and wireless access point :-) ) and my laptop went to battery mode, this caused the game to act funny (no Internet and slower CPU)

Either way, after about 3 hours the power came back on.  I went upstairs and turned the computer on and it just started beeping.   I have a little book which lets you decode the beeps, but I couldn't find it and I know that a steady beep-beep-beep is not good anyway.  Well I turned it off and reseated all the cards and turned it back on and there were no beeps (which is a bad thing).  I also noticed that neither of the fans on my video cards were spinning, they appearantly seized up (they might have seized a long time ago, I don't really know).

Well, that indicates that the motherboard had a serious issue.  All I know is that computer has been on its last leg for at least 2 years and I was fortunate to have it this long.  I used to have a box fan blowing into it because the southbridge chipset fan stopped working and I couldn't play any games without it overheating.  I am giving my 512MB ram to my wife's cousin's husband.  Hopefully it will fit in their computer and they can play some awesome old-school racecar games.

Wow, I have been a prolific writer today.

Good Article on Bus Cycles7/1/2005 12:04:46 PM

This webpage has a very good explaination on what happens during a simple CPU bus cycle.

WOW: Level 387/5/2005 2:09:53 PM

I finally got that Rock Pulverizer I wanted.  I am also going along quite well in Stranglethorn Vale.  Just chugging along getting those quests.

I spent a ton of money on Bronze bars for blacksmithing.  I think I am at lvl 170 (maybe 171).  I also did some more mining and am up to 170, I can almost do mithril.  I will probably have to go to the badlands and get some gold to get those last 5 points.

I spent three hours saturday trying to do the Bloodsail Buccaneer's quest.  It had a bunch of lvl 38 guys surrounding the goal.  Sure, I could take a 38 or two... but not 3 of them each with a pet.  After about an hour it was looking good.  I had the help of a lvl 43 guy.  But he died (which isn't a big deal) and the power went out while I was trying to resurrect him.  :-(.  I spent the next two hours (after I spent an hour with the power out) trying to find someone else to help me.

Either way, I finally got it.

Got that bootloader itch again!!!7/5/2005 4:54:05 PM

Every 6 months I think it might be fun to write a bootloader... actually I think it might be fun to write a very simple kernel, but I start the bootloader first and never finish.  It is just too hard.  However, I get closer everytime I try.

I know that you are not suppose to start with the bootloader (because you get discouraged like I do), but I cannot stand not knowing why I am in protected mode and that I cannot directly control the kernel loading process... it just annoys me and I won't stop till I figure it out.

Anyways, I am going to include some interesting links here that have helped me.

Assembly language opcodes for Pentium II processors this document will help decode any opcodes you may run across.
DOS and BIOS Interrupt list this is one of my favorite lists, it shows each INT you can throw for the BIOS and DOS as well as the AH value for the function.  Just find the service on the list and click it for its parameters and return values.
Systematic analysis of the Windows 2000 boot loader this pages goes over each step/line in the Win2k MBR (which contains the bootloader).  This gives some very good information on reading disks into memory.
General Assembly Information you gotta know assembly to write a bootloader... Like most languages I "know" I can read them better than I can write them.  Ie, I can determine how a boot loader is working better than I can make one work myself.

Either way, I am just using this post to store these links for myself.  Please post a comment if you click on just one of those links (so I can laugh).

Email Change7/6/2005 10:25:49 AM

My former employer has moved to a new mail server... I am not going to add my old email (czema@compu to it because it is unnecessary. I could, because I am setting the accounts up for him, but I won't.

Therefore, if you have my email down as czema@c don't use it anymore... you can email me at chet$ch etos,net (I don't want spam, replace $ and , with the appropriate characters and remove the space).

While you are changing you're records, how about you go to and buy something!

Nobody has website!?7/6/2005 12:00:18 PM

So yesterday was my old buddy David's birthday (22<sup>nd</sup>, so for almost two months we are the same age).  I was wondering if he had a website so I did a google search and found nothing... kinda suprising, but not really.

Then I wondered out loud, "I wonder if any other people I know have websites, blogs, anything."

I searched for old high school acquaintances, former co-workers, people from church... nothing, nothing, nothing.  Then I started searching for extended family members.... nothing!!!

What kind of world do I live in?  Nobody has a website.  Sure, Yahoo! has a website, but they have to.  Why doesn't Zac Boyles have a website?  I mean, he builds websites and he doesn't have one.

I hereby extend this offering: if the only thing holding you back is a web hosting provider, I will give you server space for free.  I run a webserver, it would not be any problem to give you some space on it.  I am having trouble with the email, but I will resolve that soon.

So if you know me and want some space, send me a message using my contact form and I will set you up.

Shortcut to Bugfix7/6/2005 12:16:24 PM

I have noticed from my website stats that there are three main search querys that people use to find my website.

1) chetos (1,371)
2) 0x100000d1 (133)
3) bugcheck 0x100000d1 (22)

Well, "chetos" is my nickname and also the slang spanish word for "cheats" (it seems).

And the 0x100000d1 is in regards to my post on how to fix the 2200BG wireless card for Intel Centrino computers.  Just to help those people find the page easier I will include a link now:  Please post a comment if you find the links in that post helpful, I would appreciate it.

Thanks for the links, I spent two hours trying to get this thing working.  It kept rebooting my computer as soon as I would get in. - Mark @ 7/6/2005 12:23:36 PMYou're lucky, I just posted that refresh link. - Chet @ 7/6/2005 12:28:22 PM

Tools of the Trade7/6/2005 4:42:26 PM

When you go to a webpage or check your email have you ever wondered what is actually being communicated over the network?  I have.

Have you ever desired to view the source of a webpage (such as this page) and had it tell you that you cannot view the source?

Have you ever had a problem sending email with Outlook and had a sneeky suspision that the username you typed in is not the username being told to the server?

Have you ever needed to enable Outlook to communicate with the Exchange server from the outside, and needed that communication to travel through a firewall, and needed to know which ports to open, and not want to use RCP over HTTP because that would require a dramatic reconfiguration of the IIS server?

Have you ever written a P2P self-aware overlay network client and server?

If you have needed to do any of this you're best friend would have been a packet sniffer.  My favorite one is AnalogX's PacketMon.

I have used this thing for years, it is fast, convenient, doesn't require you to install a special packet driver on your NIC, and is contained in just one file.

This thing will tell you the destination and source IP and which ports are involved.  You can then click on the entry and view the packet contents...  need to find out what username is being transmitted for that SMTP connection?  Just fire this puppy up and look for an outbound connection to port 25... then you just have to find the Base64 encoded username and decode it using this webpage.

One of my favorite uses for this is to listen to streaming content with windows media player instead of the website popup window... rather than having to listen to 540WFLA in it's own annoying window with ads and refreshes and junk, you just look at the packet stream and see that it loads from  Then you put that address in WM Player and listen to it without care.

One more thing that makes this program worth every cent (although it is free) is its robust filtering.  It can become very tedious to look for a single HTTP packet when there are hundreds of SMB packets flying by.  So, you can tell it to only capture packets that originate from port 80.  I have recently figure out (but not very well) how to get it to do IP filtering... but you would rarely need that on a switched network (if you used a hub you would need this a lot more).

There is one limitation that I have found though, you cannot sniff packets off a wireless network.  I am not sure what is up with that, but I have other programs that can do that.

NOTE: I am thinking about adding another 200px to the width of this site so my longer posts aren't so long.

Drop and lower taxes. support lower taxes  at

Also, a florida specific site about lowering taxes and getting rid of Property Tax entirely.  Check it out.

So, both lower taxes in general ad-driven site and a real site about lower taxes. - Chet @ 10/1/2007 3:19:45 PM

Application Locking Methods in ASP7/7/2005 4:16:57 PM

I am about to write a web-based contact management system for an overseas call center (in India).  The system is extreemely simple, the person logs in and is presented with a contact.  At the bottom of the screen there are two options: Scrub (bad lead) or Send DD Package (send more information).

The problem is that there are 5 people at this facility (currently) and they are "professional" callers, therefore they will be going though a lot of leads.  This presents some concurrency issues because if India #1 completes a call at the same time as India #3 they might get the same contact (which would be extreemely bad).

This could be thought of as a mutlithreaded application, in that there are several instances doing the same thing that need access to the same resources.  Unfortunately, ASP does not have a very robust locking mechanism... in fact it has only one: the Application.Lock() method.

I have used it before as a "best practice" when creating smaller sites, technically if you modify an application-level variables you have to lock it first or else someone might modify it at the same time and cause inconsistency, eg:

Application("numVisitors")=Application("numVisitors") + 1

Response.Write Application("numVisitors")

Now, this code locks the Application scope, get the current numVisitors, adds one, and saves it.  Then it shows it.  Now, this is what would happen if we didn't use Application.Lock.  Visitor #1 would check Application("numVisitors") and get (zero).  He would then add (one) and save it (as one).  However, if Visitor #2 comes at the exact same time then he checks Application("numVisitors") and gets (zero), he adds (one) and saves it (as one).  We now have a serious problem because we had two visitors but the value for Application("numVisitors") is only (one).

Using Application.Lock causes Visitor #2 to wait until the lock is released (using Application.Unlock) before 1) Obtaining the lock and 2) Reading and writing the value.

Now, I have two important questions before I can use this to fix my problem.
1) Will everything in Application.Lock/Unlock be protected or only Application level stuff?
2) Does the person who does not have the lock just skip it or does he wait for the lock to be released?

I found the answer to #2 at Microsoft's IIS reference website.  The "second" visitor does in fact wait for the lock to be released... this is good.

I can intuit the answer to the first question, but I cannot be sure... I would assume that ASP does not actually check what is inside the lock and just assumes that whatever is in it needs to be locked.  This is how I would want it.

I will work on this some more and post when I figure it out.

Scroll Lock and SysRQ Keys7/8/2005 9:33:21 AM

I have found two uses for the ill-used Scroll Lock Key.

First, open Excel and press Scroll Lock.  Now you can move through the document using the arrows rather than the scroll bars.  This is the original intent for the key and Excel is probably the only application that still implements it.

Second, open Regedit.  Navigate to HKEY_Local_Machine\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\i8042prt\Parameters
Add a DWORD value called CrashOnCtrlScroll and set the value to 1.

i8042 is the keyboard control chip, adding this registry entry will allow you to throw a BSOD when you hold down RCtrl and press Scroll Lock twice.

You might have to reboot after adding the registry key before it will work.

Anyways, just thought I would share the only uses for the Scroll Lock key.

Also, just in case you care, the never used SysRQ key was added by the original IBM designers as a way for the user to gain the attention of the system (System Request).  This was before multitasking environments and was to be used to pause the currently running application so the user could do something.  It was never implemented.  You can recompile the Linux kernel with CONFIG_MAGIC_SYSRQ=1 and then pressing Alt+SysRQ, (x) will do special things like force reboot or resync the mounted disks.

Chronicles of Narnia7/11/2005 10:10:40 AM


If I could use any interjection to describe this book that would be it.  I finished "The Last Battle" over the weekend and I have to say that, in conjunction with the other five books, has got to be the best book I have ever read.  It was extreemely though-provoking.

Starting off with the founding of Narnia and its first King, the Chronicles of Narnia detail the events leading up to the appearances of Aslan.  The final book shows the destruction of Narnia and the existance of a more-perfect Narnia.

There are a few theological issues I have with this chronicle.  The most glaring occurs in the final book.  There is one man who is a Calormen (neighbors to the south, the worship a god called "Tash" and offer human sacrifice to him).  This man is allowed to enter the new Narnia because he is loyal to Tash.  The reasoning went that since all goodness, all loyalty, all kindness are properties of the true God, Aslan, that anyone who protrays these aspects are in fact following Aslan--albeit inadvertently.  I find this to be patently false because he did not accept Aslan as his Lord (in fact, he hated him) and simply having the property *loyal* does not mean you have the same characteristics as Aslan.

For example: I am a Satan worshipper, I am ferverently loyal to the devil and do anything I think he wants.  I die and God says that since I was loyal to Satan, and since loyalty is a aspect of God, I was in fact worshipping God by being loyal to Satan.  Somehow this isn't right.  Perhaps I am misunderstanding CS Lewis, but I doubt it.

I think he is trying to make a case that people who never hear of Jesus can still follow him by doing what is good and holding on to the truth, but this doesn't hold up because the Calormen knew of Aslan, but rejected him for Tash (the opposite of Aslan, read: the devil).

Overall this is a great book, it is funny, though-provoking, and very good at imaging (yes, imaging, not imagining) spiritual aspects.  As much as the Lord of the Rings is not allegorical, this is.  I recommend this book for anyone over 13, I first read this when I was 10 or 11, but don't remember it.  Since this is allegory, I think you need to have a 1) idea of what "the abstract" is and 2) knowledge of certain Christian ideals which are protrayed in the book.

Real Life Tron7/12/2005 9:48:56 AM

This looks fun:

Hook a GPS up to a laptop with a wireless connection and have  a server track your movements.  Turn these tracks into a perimeter which encompasses your opponent and you win.

If you were to take away the fancy input/output devices this would be extreemely easy to construct however, why construct it if you cannot tell where your opponent is and where his track is?

United Kingdom, Great Britain, and England7/14/2005 2:47:39 PM

I have always wondered what the actual different between the UK, Great Britain, and England is.  Each name encompasses a smaller area, here is the scoup:

United Kingdom of Great Britian and Northern Ireland (UK) - This is a state which consists of all the countries on those islands up there.  However, in 1922, Ireland broke into the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland.  Therefore, the UK is not all the land on all the islands.

Great Britian - This is the geographical area which is the largest island of the British Isles.  This island contains Scotland, Wales, and England.  Great Britain is not the same thing as the UK.  The UK consists of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

England - England is the largest and most populous country of the UK.  It is part of Great Britain.  It has Scotland to the north and Wales to the west.  There is no such thing as English citizenship, nor is there Great Britian citizenship.  The UK is the state.

The capital of UK, Great Britain, and England is London.

Also, it should be noted that "the British" as a group are descentants of the "Britons" which were largely Celtic tribes from France.  The German-based Saxons and Anglos invaded in the 6th century and they are more closely "English".  This also explains why the English language is more akin to German in sentence structure and not Latin (although it borrows tons of words).  Middle English is a blending of German with French which started when England's administration starting using French as it's official language.

Finished Pulling Those Trees Up7/18/2005 11:44:36 AM

I bought my house in December of last year.  The hurricanes in early fall had done quite a bit of damage to the house and the previous owners had it all repaired.  However, there were two very nice palm trees in the backyard that have been leaning... a lot.  We're not talking about a simple 70° angle, like the pine tree.  This is like 30° (assuming an upright tree is 90 degrees).  I had one pine tree cut down because it was almost leaning on the house and would rub up on it during bad storms (which we get daily).  I didn't want to cut the palm trees down because they are very nice.

So I have spent parts of several Saturdays throughout the past months digging out the trees.  A few weeks ago I accidently bought a ratcheting tie-down strap instead of a come-along (Amanda pointed out it should be called a paraklesis).  Well that wasn't the right tool so I spent hours and got no where.

I borrowed my wife's cousin's come-along and it took me literally minutes to pull the trees up.  Then I spent over an hour putting the dirt back in the hole and tying up the trees.

I have the palm trees tied up to a leaning (70°) pine tree.  I meant to take a picture before I pulled the trees up because it looked like the palm trees were causing the pine tree to lean.

WOW: Level 407/18/2005 11:56:22 AM

I finally made it, level 40 in World of Warcraft.  This means I am 2/3 from the maximum level.

Now that I am level 40 I can ride a horse and wear plate mail.  Not to mention the status of walking around and seeing "the little people."

I spent most of my time lately in Desolace which is a very dark desolate area.  I think it is a dried up lakebed.  Lots of copper and tin and some mithril.  The funny thing is that this area is mostly lvl 30-38.  I haven't seen a single lvl 40+.  That probably means I should not technically be here.  There must be another region where I belong.  But I will continue here until I finish the quests.  I am already halfway to lvl 41.

I also exchanged my nice two-handed mace for a nicer polearm.  Unfortunatly I have zero "skill" with it and have to walk around killing stuff to increase it.  However, I think it is worth it.  I paid 6g for it, so it had better be.

WOW: Found new "unreachable" spot7/20/2005 4:35:05 PM

There is a place in Dun Morogh that you can see when flying from Ironforge to Menethil Harbor.  This place is known as the "airstrip" and is technically unreachable.  Well I did some digging and appearantly there is a way to get there.  I followed the instructions at  It is very straighforward and not terribly difficult.  There is nothing up there but some Ironforge Guards.  There are also Stormpike Guards or something.  I related this info with someone and they said that Stormpike guards are a sure sign of a upcoming Battleground... that would be really cool.

On a side note, I made it to level 41.  I also unlearned my talents so I could reorganize them.  I decided to go completely Retribution route and get Blessing of Kings.  It is not too impressive, but I haven't actually used it for fighting.  It was better than holy shock I guess and much better than repentance.  I picked up Concecration and that is very nice.

I am off to finish some quests in Desolace.  I wanted to play in the Warsong Gulch BG when I was lvl 39 (so I would be the highest player in the 30-39 range) but now I am the lowest in the 40-49 range and that wouldn't be too fun.

Predictability7/21/2005 8:32:17 AM

L. Wayne has posted a short writeup on why being predictable is an important property of leadership.  It is also an important property of parenthood.

I will sum up:
Being predictable is important because it gives your subordinates a sense of security.  When they know what your reaction will be (good or bad) to different circumstances they will be prepared to handle it.  If you act differently each time they will not know what to expect and it can throw them through a loop.

Reacting unusually a few times may shake your "people" up, but being different every time will wear them out.  On the other hand, is it possible to be predictably unpredictable?  That is kind of like being consistently inconsistent.

I hate multithreading7/21/2005 4:13:52 PM

I am/was writing a class library for UDP networking.  It is suppose to be very simple... it has support for listening, sending, and broadcasting.  Sending and broadcasting are fine, you just parse the data and send it throught UDPClient class.  Listening is a little more tricky.  In order to keep your UI thread from blocking (pausing) you have to use a seperate thread for the listener service.  This in and of itself is not bad, creating a thread is easy.

The hard part comes when data is received.  You see, each thread has its own context (stack, memory allocation, the whole bit) so you cannot simply edit a variable that is in use on another thread (it doesn't truely exist as far as the editing thread is concerned)... this brings up an interesting question: When data is received on the network listener thread how to do you get into the UI thread so you can do meaningful work on it?  The simple answer is by using an invoke method to marshall the data accross the thread.  This is called Cross-Thread Communciation.  The .NET Framework handles all the for you (but you have to know to do it).

Form1.Invoke(handleData, new Object() {receivedData})

But this is not truely the problem, I have used the invoke method many times.  However, now I want to turn my UDP networking code into a .dll file so I can use it without having to modify it.  The Form1 has to be hard-coded into the UDP classes.  This is a deal-breaker if you want to turn it into a dll (not all people call their main GUI class "Form1").  So I made it so that you can pass the Form object you are using into it when you initialize the class.  Therefore you get this:

Dim m_CallBackThread as Windows.Forms.Form
Dim m_CallBackMethod as incomingDataDelegate

m_CallBackThread.Invoke(m_CallBackMethod, new Object() {receivedData})

This way you just tell UDPNetworking that m_CallBackThread is "Me" and the m_CallBackMethod is "handleData(data)" and when new network data is received the UDP listener thread will ask "Me" to run "handleData(data)" under it's context.

If anyone wants this .NET 2.0 DLL (specifically tested with VS Express Beta 2) then please use the contact form and ask for it.

Internet Explorer 7 Beta 17/28/2005 9:05:46 AM

I have a copy of IE7 now, it is nice.  Tabbed browsing, phishing blocker, general UI change.

I was really hoping for alpha transparency in PNG files and full CSS compliancy.  I haven't checked for those yet.

Overall it is rather unimpressive, I thought the UI for IE6 was great and I could care less about tabbed browsing.  It looks like MS ripped the interface off Firefox (which I don't use).  Hopefully it will support plug-ins better than IE6 and somepeople will actually start using them.

6970 page requests7/28/2005 11:04:29 AM

In commemoration of's 6970th page request I have redesigned that three thing at the top.  I am not sure what the effect is called, something like a translucent highlight.  I also removed the word "" from the image and put it in there with HTML.

I was also looking at the website stats and noticed that most people come here by looking for "chetos", however, I also noticed that most people who search for chetos do so at  So mostly spanish gamers looking for cheats (and not finding any) come here.  I think I will write a redirect page so if someone comes here using that site they will go to an actual cheat page. Nine people came here after searching for Don ChetOS.  I am the Don ChetOS, so this is not a bad thing :-)

I currently get an average of 67 page views per day and 464/week and 1740/month.

IE7 is killing me so I am going to uninstall it.  The built in search (google search) does not open in a new window/tab so it does me almost no good.  Also, I keep looking down at the taskbar to open a different window and that is driving me crazy.  Hopefully uninstalling IE7 will properly reinstall IE6.

Firefox Support7/29/2005 10:15:39 AM

I finally fixed my website so it renders correctly in Firefox.  I did it because I am doing the same for and I figured this would be good practice.

There appear to be three main issues:
1) I use width and padding to make things look nice.  I set the width to the actual width that I want and I use the padding to keep the text off the border.  With Firefox, the width is set first and then the padding is added to it.  So if I use width:100px;padding-left:10px; then I would get a box that is 110px wide.  Why this is the case, I don't know.

2) I use the height property to keep areas from getting too small (if there is not enough text to fill it).  In this case IE gets it terribly wrong and FF gets it right.  IE is not technically bad, but it messes me up.  There should be a min-height to keep the box from getting too small.  FF supports this, however if I use "height" then FF uses this as an absolute height and makes the text go outside if it is too long (rather than growing with the text).  So I do min-height:300px;_height:300px; by putting an underscore in front of "height" it makes it so FF ignores it and IE reads it.

3) No one pixel table heights.  Sometimes I will use a 1px table height in IE to create a small line.  It looks nice.  But FF does not support 1px tables.  This is bad.  I have not resolved this issue yet.

So either way, now when you come to in Firefox it will look nice.  And I am working on getting to look nice as well.  Since is a *much* bigger site.  I have opted to load a seperate stylesheet when FF is detected.  This is not what I wanted to do, but that is how it is going to be.

Current Hobby: None7/29/2005 10:27:44 AM

I have removed "Bootloaders, again" from my current hobby list because I don't care about them anymore.  That means that I officially have no current hobby.

Ajax8/1/2005 10:03:05 AM

There is a new web application technology called Ajax (short for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML).  This technology is not a language, framework, or anything like that... it is a method of communicating with a web browser without refreshing the page.  Basically you have a Javascript "listener" which receives information from a webserver (that data is transferred in XML).  When the listener receives the data it dynamically changes stuff (form variables, images, calculated fields, pretty much anything).

This is considered the Next Big Thing.

The funny part is that I have been using this for, literally, years.  I built a Java-less Instant Messenger and Chat program that runs natively in the web browser, does not refresh, and uses async calls to the webserver via Javascript and XML (it is mentioned on my Projects page but I don't think the link works).  Also, the current website uses this method to dynamically verify the validity of a stock symbol.

Also, if memory serves me I got the idea from the methodology.  I don't know *how* they did it, but if you choose an item from a drop down list the page sends the information to the server and the page is reloaded with another drop down list pre-polulated with new values (this is just an example, it is like when you choose a state from a list and the city list is populated with cities in that state)... however, now that I think about it, they used the old ASP postback technique but made it transparent for the developer and web user.

Either way, Ajax is another technology that I invented :-) but is just now catching on (like wildfire).

Exchange in Recovery Mode8/1/2005 3:04:35 PM

If you turn on Outlook and get an error saying "Exchange is currently in Recovery Mode" and have the options to Connect, Work Offline, or Cancel fix it using the following method:
Click Cancel
Go to Control Panel -> Mail
Click on Profiles
Remove the Outlook profile
Click Add and follow the steps in the wizard.

You can just click Connect and use Outlook just fine (I did for several weeks).  However, that will get annoying so just fix it.

No more visitors from Google.es8/2/2005 10:52:00 AM

I have added code to display a notice if someone comes here from (because ChetOS is being confused with the spanish word for Cheats).

Just thought I would let you know.

Fun at Grandma's8/8/2005 9:52:24 AM

Background: My wife's grandma lives in backwoods Florida.  She lives in a house built (literally) around 1910.  The house was moved about 100ft during a tornado years and years ago, they had a company move the house close to the original position a long time ago.  It is a two story house, the second story is basically a tall "finished" attic.  My wife's grandma is taking care of my wife's 99.5 year old great, great aunt.

Now, when I say backwoods, I mean backwoods.  She lives on a lake (Lake Tohopekaliga [Lake Toho or West Lake]) and is surrounded by orange, cyprus, oak, pine, and palm trees.  It is a 15 minute drive into town and there is only one set of power lines running out there (which means the power goes out often during the summer t-storms).  Grandma doesn't kill the spiders in her house becuase they eat the bugs.  She eats local wildlife (I think I have too).

The Way I Remember It: So, this weekend a bunch of family decided they wanted to do some work in the attic.  The ceiling was falling in because it is so old (and I don't think the hurricane helped much).  And it was used for storing stuff (old, old stuff).  So they wanted to rip out the ceiling and the paneling on the walls and put up drywall.

Bud (my father-in-law), Wayne (my brother-in-law), and myself showed up at 8:30, Uncle Michael was already there.  Our first job was to tear out what was left of the ceiling and throw it out the window (which meant throwing it onto the first floor roof).  Now, remember this is a 90 year old house, the ceiling had [stuff] on it and it fell on us and it wasn't pretty. After that we pulled the paneling off the walls and threw that out the window.

Then some more cousins and uncles showed up.  We put the drywall up on the ceiling.  Here is why it was important for me to relate the house being moved... the rafters were not straight.  When they screwed the drywall up they would often miss the stud and that was a mess.  Also, we wanted to put insulation on top of the drywall.... so guess who's job that was.  Mine, since I was the smallest.  So as if it wasn't bad enough having the [stuff] fall on me during the ceiling removal process, I now had to climb up in there (on the shaky 90 year old rafters) and get my whole body in it.  The attic is actually one 10x10 core area with four areas that come out from it.  We insulated 3 of the outer areas as we did the drywall, but when we did the core area I had to go up there for about 10 minutes and rearrange the insulation on all the other areas (we didn't use enough, actually we did, but we were being stingy because we weren't sure how much we had).  It was about 110° because there was finally insulation keeping the heat up there, so I got cooked.  While up there I crushed a old wasp nest with my back and it went down my pants; I was shaking wasp nest out of my pants for the next two hours.

After we finished with the ceilings we put the rest of the drywall up on the walls.  One area that needed drywall was over the stairs so we were balancing trying to get that up... also cousin kept measuring the walls wrong and we cut the drywall funny.

Finally I climbed out the window onto the roof and started throwing the debris into the yard so we could call it to someplace, I am not sure where that place was because I didn't help with that.  Even though I drank a lot of Propel (10x better than water) I got bad heat exhaustion (lets put it this way, I stopped sweating for over an hour, that is very bad).  At 2:30 I went home.

All in all it wasn't that bad, it was an great learning experience.  I have watched/helped my dad do drywall a long time ago, but I didn't really pay attention.  Here I measured, cut, mudded, etc, so that knowledge should go a long way.  My arms were itching from handling the insulation, so I took some benedril and that knocked me out.

Also, Wayne chickened out... I mean had an appointment at 10:30, so he jetted.

Bicycles8/8/2005 10:03:43 AM

Amanda and I went for a walk the other day, we decided to walk down the road and through a subdivision that is behind our house.  It was very nice, nice houses, appearantly nice people, etc.  We discovered that it actually looped around and came out up the road from our house... that makes a nice loop.

So we went to Wal-Mart and bought some bikes.  Amanda got a Roadmaster, and I got a Schwinn.  I really hated to buy the most expensive bike there, however there was a world of difference in the quality between the bikes.  I figure that it would be better to pay more for a bike that will last 15 years (and it had better last that long).  I am sure with oil and stuff it will.   It has one of those new-fangled suspensions on the head tube.  I am not sure what that is actually for, but I have noticed that if I slam on the back brake the bike heaves forward and is absorbed by the springs.

Either way, we have been extreemely busy this weekend so we haven't gotten to use them :-(

Family and Birthday8/8/2005 10:26:08 AM

This is a two part entry, the first is about family relationships and the second is the thought that started it all, my wife's cousin's husband's birthday.

Yesterday we celebrated my wife's cousin's husband's 30th birthday.  I think that I am considered his cousin, but I am not sure.  I know that my wife's cousin is my cousin, but I am not sure if that transfers across marriage boundaries.  I think that from now on I am going to just refer to these people as my cousin, aunt, grandma, etc, because I have very little contact with my actual extended family.  Not to mean any disrespect to my family, but it is a lot easier to refer to Keith as my cousin rather than my wife's cousin's husband.

I found a chart that might help some.  Appearently Keith's son is actually the illusive first cousin once removed.  I just thought that was interesting... not that it matters, because I refer to my wife's cousin as my aunt, just for fun.

Anyways, we had an "over the hill" party for Keith.  I guess they decided to do that theme because he is planing an over the hill party for my aunt and she wanted to beat him to the punch.

We had pizza and very good home-made ice cream cake.  Then we unloaded on each other with several games of mafia (which has become the go-to game for family functions).  I got to be the doctor several times (which I like because I am pretty good at doctor).  My cousin Zack and I usually talk amoungst ourselves and he played me twice when he was mafia.  And when I say played, I mean PLAYED.  Oh well.  Keith called mafia out very well one game.  Also Aunt Bonnie has become quite the mafioso, I think she was it three times and nearly won every time.  I went gung-hoe on "aunt" Tammy in the last game, but she wasn't mafia.  I was the doctor and managed to save KGB twice.  I should have saved myself the last round, but I didn't.

WOW: Level 448/8/2005 10:30:13 AM

I made it to level 44 over the weekend.  I am finally doing quests in Tanaris.  I have to go to Zul' Moth which is a dungeon.  I have like 6 quests to do in there and I will need a group to do it.  It will take about 2 hours I suspect, so I will need at least a 4 hour block of time to get a group together and execute the quests.

I have been spending a load of money getting my blacksmithing skill up.  I have decided to become a weaponsmith (as opposed to an armorsmith), so I have to make a lot of stuff for free to go down that path.

So, I finished off the quests in STV, and most of them in the Hinterlands.

XHTML 1.0 Strict Compliance8/11/2005 12:38:09 PM

This website is now fully XHTML 1.0 Strict compliant!

Not sure that it matters, I know for sure that I don't care... but it was fun to do it.  XHTML standardization is the "new" thing.

Also, the CSS for this website is compliant as well.  That was easy.

My biggest complaint on Strict vs Transitional is the lack of font tags and the inability to use target="" in an anchor.  How am I suppose to open a new window without target??? Use Javascript? That would be even worse.

I got around the font issue by using divs with a display:inline; set.

I also rewrote the blog tag parser (like when you use [b or [code) so that it is more flexible (the bold, underline, italics, and code tags are all parsed using the same function, urls are parsed differently).

Busch Gardens8/15/2005 12:31:46 PM

Mandy and I went to Busch Gardens last Friday... that was very fun.  Amazingly have lived in Florida for 15 years and I have never been there.

The roller coasters were great, the first one I went on was 'Gwazi'.  It was a wooden roller coaster and it was very intense.  I have been on several wooden coasters before (the Hurler at Paramount's Carowinds and Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags among others) and this was the best.  Amanda hates wooden roller coasters (understandably) so she sat that one out.

We went on the new SreiKra, that was great.  They take you up 200 feet, hold you there for 5 seconds (while you just hang by the restraining harnass) and then drop you.  You figure that you accelerate at 10m/s<sup>2</sup> you will reach a top speed of 30m/s by the time you reach the bottom (which will take about 3 seconds).  That is nearly 70 miles per hour.  That is assuming you are actually in freefall, and you are not because there is friction on the rails, etc.  You probabably hit 65mph and zoom along for a while on that speed.  It is not nearly as *intense* as the wooden one, but it is extreemely fun.  It is intense in a different way.

We also went on Kumba, was a lot like the wooden coaster but metal.  Lots of loops (though there were no loops on the wooden one :) and turns.  This coaster is like a tightly wound spring, if feels like you are holding on to the back of a snake that is trying to get your off.

On top of all that we took the train through the African tundra (which looks amazingly like Florida pine scrub :) and went to all the animal exibits.  I was there for the roller coasters, Amanda was there for the animals.  We spent about 45 minutes at the chimpanzee exhibit.  The baby was very funny and you could tell it liked having attention.  He tried (nearly sucessfully) to walk upright, backwards on a rope.

Also, there is a aquarium where you can look both above the water and below it through a glass window.  There was a hippo in the water, it looks like a big cow.  It is amazing that from above the water you cannot tell, at all.

We got to see the tigers get fed, that was neat.  Our cat Adira looks just like a tiger, and I am not exaggerating.  She looks like a mix between raccoon and tiger.

Although this park doesn't really offer what I call the "Disney Experience" (ie, *everything* is kept perfectly neat and the enviroment is totally controlled), Amanda tells me it is better than Animal Kingdom (appearently all the animals were hiding when she went there).  If I have the chance I would defininately go to this park again... when it is cooler.  Florida residents get two days for the price of one, which is nice.

OSI Model Lane8/17/2005 12:13:08 PM

I took a stroll down OSI Model lane today.  I took a class that covered this stuff in high school, I have also read a lot about it in the past, because that is what I do, but I needed to brush up on it.  Here is a synopsis.

OSI Model provides an abstract description of network communications, it breaks down each process as a layer and describes the layer.  Each layer passes information up (or down) to the next.  The layers are unconcerned about the processes of other layers, they just take data the way they need it, modify it, and send it along the chain.  There are seven layers identified by the OSI model: Applications, Presentation, Session, Transport, Network, Data Link, and Physcial.  Each layer has its own data encapsulation method, as the data is moved from layer to layer they encapsulate/decapsulate their specific information.


Application - The application layer is simply the program that acts on the final data, it also sends data to the network.  This is often a user-interactive application but does not have to be.  Eg.  A web-browser is an application layer network device that interacts with the user, a web server does not interact with the user.  Examples of this layer: AIM, Internet Explorer, VFS, HTTP, SMTP.

Presentation - The presentation layer organizes the data into a format that is usable for the Application layer.  If I send a email through the mail to an Apple user, the presentation layer will convert the "enters" from Cartridge Return/Line Feed to plain Cartridge Return.  Also, encryption is usually done on this layer, SSL will be implemented here rather than the application layer so that the final program will not have to deal with it (ie, the Application layer program will tell the Presentation layer to encrypt/decrypt the data, it will not do it itself).  Examples of this layer: SSL, TLS, XML, other archaic stuff.

Session - This is a rarely used layer, it manages sessions.  Lets say you have a video, it will have an audio component and a video component.  In order to have these line up, you would encapsulate them before they hit the transport layer, the session layer would see them as individual components and combine them.  All the layers below see them as a single data stream.  Examples: NetBIOS, SIP, SDP.

Transport - This is where we get into "real" networking.  The transport layer controls reliability, connections, states, and ports.  It is responsible for making sure packets arrive and if they don't resending them (if the transport protocol used supports this, some don't).  This is the "TCP" of "TCP/IP" there is also UDP which is a connectionless, stateless, non-error-checking protocol (it is used when the data is not critical because it is faster than TCP).  This layer has nothing to do with actual network topography, it just makes sure that all the packets arrive. Also, this layer will put out-of-order packets in order for the higher levels.  Examples: TCP, UDP, NetBEUI, SPX (Novell).

Network - The network layer is the first layer to actually see the network, it handles routing and topography.  At this stage the packet will have the information to find the destination.  Also, it determines if packets received are intended for the user and pass them along if so (it drops them if not).  IP is the most common protocol for the network layer, this is where we get IP Address.  IP stands for Internet Protocol and along with TCP/IP was invented for UNIX networks.  This layer also does the work of cutting the packets up (and putting them back together).  Note that the transport layer also deals with "packets" but they are called segments and deal more with end-to-end communcation rather than routing.  Each packet can arrive by taking a different route, there are protocols in place to detect when a network segment is down and using a different route automatically.  Routers work at the network layer, they are the smartest of traffic routing devices.  Examples of network layer: IP, IPX (Novell), ICMP (ping), and router protocols like RIP, OSPF, BGP.

Data Link - The data link layer is concerned with access to the media, it is the hardware side of the network.  It breaks packets down into frames with are fixed length.  Also, the data link layer makes sure the media is open before sending and if a collision was detected it waits and retries.  Switches are the routing devices that operate on this layer, they will only route the impulses if the data link address is on the appropriate wire. Most of the popular terms for networking refer to technologies on this layer, Ethernet is by far the most popular.  Examples: Ethernet, Token Ring (old), FDDI, PPP (dial-up), Frame Relay (T-1), ATM.

Physcial - This layer is the actual medium which the data travels through.  This can be copper wire, fiber optic, wireless (the "Ether" :), or anything else that can be used to convey information (ultrasound *could* be used).  A physical layer specification would determine the substance (copper wire), method (electricity), and physcial properties (100ft, 60Hz, +5v).  Hubs are the networking devices that operate on this level, they simply route the electrical impulses to all the connected wire.  Some of the most cryptic acronyms are in this layer.  The most common physical layer specification is 10BASE-T and 100BASE-T which uses twisted pair copper wire.  Some examples of this layer are: RS-232 (serial), V.35, T-1, ISDN, SONET, DSL, and the Ethernet specific 10BASE-T, 100BASE-T (Fast Ethernet), and 100BASE-FX (Fiber Optic).

These layers form a stack where each layer passes data to the higher layer and requests information from the next lower layer.  Each layer is technically self-contained whereby it knows nothing about the lower layers.  As long as the lower layer interfaces properly it is acceptable.  This means that the TCP protocol doesn't care if it is running on a copper wire, or a wireless radio, or ultrasound.  And in the same way, the data link layer doesn't care if you are running an HTTP server.  Each layer takes the data, processes it its own special way, and hands it off.

I found a great picture that graphically explains the OSI model in standard communication terms here.

8 piece8/18/2005 11:04:16 AM

So we stopped by Chick-Fil-A (or as Mark calls it, Fillet-Of-Chick or Chickah-Fillet) yesterday to get some breakfast.  Wayne asked for an "8 piece," and the lady was like, "8 piece of what?"  So Wayne said "chicken nuggets".

What is up with that?  Its not like they sell anything other than chicken.  You cannot order an 8 piece chicken sandwich or something like that... they only have one product that comes in 8 piece.

Even people at McDonald's know this, up until they started with their most excellent Select strips you could say 6 piece and they automatically knew chicken nuggets... and they even sell more than just chicken.

Anyways I just though I would share that.

Also, I was thinking (but that has nothing to do with the person at Chick-Fil-A) that they could get some very cheap labor teaching monkeys to get the food.  I mean, they could teach the monkey that if someone says "chicken sandwich" they grab it from the proper bin.

Reversing: Secrets of Reverse Engineering8/18/2005 11:07:24 AM

I finished Reversing: Secrets of Reverse Engineering, but I cannot talk about it... sufice to say it is good.

This is probably the first computer book that I have read that I will need to read again to get... am I defeated? No.  But I don't know assembly language that well and he expects people to understand what programs do by looking at it... go figure.

Birthday (23)8/26/2005 11:24:01 AM

I celebrated my 23rd birthday last weekend.  We went to Alexander Springs in the Ocala National Forest.  I got the inflatable boat out and we messed around.  Wayne and I swam down a ways into the boil.  We used a 40 foot rope to estimate the depth, we swam over 30 feet down.

The spring was pretty nice.  There are three things that are important to me for a spring: depth, a run, a shallow place for kids to swim.  This had two of them, it had a deep enough boil so that it wasn't easy to reach the bottom, it also had a nice beach.  It doesn't have a swimmer-accessable run, you can take canoes.  My favorite spring it Blue Springs in Volusia county.  It has a deep boil, and a very nice run; however, it does not have a shallow swimming area (that isn't important to me personally, but I go with my brother-in-law and he has kids).

Anyways, I also went out to NSB to see my parents.  We ate at a "nice" mexican restaurant.  They gave me a Fender guitar (learning to playing the guitar is something I have been meaning to do for a while).  My sister gave me a cool fiber-optic light thing, Nick gave me a Duncan yoyo.

Amanda got me exactly what I wanted: a nice lighter for camping (it is a "torch" lighter that is wind-resistant), she also got me some very nice books and a foam camping mat.

Mark got me a Pink Floyd CD.

Server Migration8/26/2005 11:31:54 AM

I finally finished migrating everything from one server to another.  I had to recreate everything: Active Directory, DNS, IIS, Exchange, User data, etc.  And I had to do it without the specialists knowing about it (not a secret, just seamless).

This was not a copy, this was a total reconstruction on a different server, I then copied the pieces from the old server to the new one (like the "shared" drives and the "users'" drives).  I came in at 6AM yesterday and got half the computers on the new domain (I had to stop working on that at 8:30 when everyone arrived).  Then Wayne and I came in today at 6 and copied Exchange over.  It went pretty seamless, except we have an employee that needs to access Exchange from outside the firewall, I had a solution on the old server, but it involves registry editing and I didn't document... shock!  we don't have time to document anything here :(

All of this because Exchange would not except a new domain.  We bought a company and needed to accept email for it.  It is a very straightforward process to add a new domain, just add a Recipient Policy and make sure you have AD set up.  Well, I added the recipient policy and Exchange pretended like it didn't know what I was doing... so my solution was to just make our backup server a full fledge DC and migrate everything.

Alexa Rating8/26/2005 11:32:25 AM

The Alexa rating of my company's website (which I designed, wrote, and maintain) just broke the 200,000 mark.  The lower the better.  Technically this means that out of all the websites in the world ranks 197,349 in hits.  This is actually very good.  We have been chasing our competitor for a few months and we beat their score a two weeks ago, now we are just increasing the gap.

Anyways, 200,000 was a milestone, just thought I would share that.

Weeks in Review9/9/2005 9:43:44 AM

I haven't posted in two weeks, I have been busy.

Aurelius bought a company and they sent their servers to us, there were 5 of them.  These things are *real* servers, hot swapable hard drives and power supplies, 6 fans in each, RAID-0 disk arrays.  Dual or quad processors... too bad they are a bit 1) old 2) overkill for us.  Besides, having those fans going in my ears would prevent me from thinking straight.  Also, we couldn't get a hold of the company to get the Administrator password, so I had to hack them, that wasn't pretty.

Also, we are in full swing on doing a website redesign for the new company.  I finally got the layout (provided to me by our graphic designer) converted to HTML.

I got to level 46 in World of Warcraft, I am about 50% though that.  I decided to go to the Searing Gorge, which I think was a good idea.  Lots of smaller quests to get me to level 48-50.

I started reading How Should We Then Live again.  I started in the middle.

Amanda and I spent all last weekend working on the outside of the house.  She pressure washed the back patio while I mowed the lawn.  I also bought an edger/trimmer so the yard looks really sharp.  We also planted some flowers in front... that is phase 1.  Phase 2 is planting some flowers in front of our window, we are doing that tomorrow.

We went to Grandma's for Labor day, had some hamburgers and hot dogs, watched Clear and Present Danger on the TV.  It was pretty fun.

I found out that Joe started as youth minister at First Christian Church of Titusville.

Thats all.

Lets start it up - Zac @ 9/20/2005 8:48:30 AMChet??? How in the world have you been? - Joanne @ 9/21/2005 8:11:28 PMSuper, I'll have to go visit your blog. - Chet @ 9/22/2005 8:49:16 AM

Update: Alexa Rating9/22/2005 9:29:20 AM


Our Alexa Rating is now 144,363.  We are now officially beating all of our competitors!

I expect it to get exponentially harder to gain rank from this point because we are going to be competing with businesses that exist only online (and therefore pour huge amounts of money into their websites).

Update: Amazingly our rating dropped even more last weekend, we are now at 135,789.  When will it end? The world may never know.

Update 2: Again our rating went to 124,564.

Adobe Acrobat Error9/26/2005 8:46:19 AM

Well I have been trying to fix my boss' computer for the past few days.  Every time he starts Acrobat reader (version 6.0 or 7.0+) the application freezes at the splash screen. Looking at the performance monitor I see that AcroRd32.exe CPU usage spikes at 95%. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling both versions and also removing unneeded plugins.

Well, I finally found a solution... it is quite simple and should be listed on Adobe's website as this would seem to me to be a critical error.  Apparently Acrobat Reader creates a temporary file with 0 size each time it starts up; however, it does not delete it when it closes.  It uses the format AcrXXXX.tmp where XXXX is a hexadecimal number from 0000-FFFF.  Well as you know FFFF is 65,535.  So after you open the program that many times the program freezes while enumerating the temp files -- I guess so it can find the last one and increment it.

So the solution? Go to C:\DOCUMENTS AND SETTINGS\username\LOCAL SETTINGS\TEMP and delete all the files with the format Acr*.tmp.  It took over five minutes to delete them on my boss' computer.

After futher examination on my own computer I found that I don't have any Acr*.tmp files.  I am running Acrobat 7.0.  The lack of temp file deletion may be an Acrobat 6.0 only problem, but since Acrobat 7.0 still enumerates the files it will hang too.

Os Guinness: Time for Truth9/26/2005 9:01:41 AM

I finished Time for Truth by Os Guinness. It definitely goes on my list of Top 10 books... perhaps I should compile a list of Top 10 books.

Defining the distinction between Premodernism, Modernism, and Postmodernism, this book shows how the lack of truth undercuts our society.  It also gives a case for truth as the basis for freedom.

I would write more about it if I had time, but I don't.

I find your web site most interesting. - Joy @ 10/19/2005 1:27:48 PM

Sprint10/12/2005 9:47:28 AM

In January I ordered plain old telephone service with no frills.  It is 11.05 for the service and 14.33 in tax.  I wanted to add DSL without having to get all the junk like call waiting, call forwarding, etc.  I asked the Sprint rep exactly how much my bill would be, the person said $52 somthing.  I get my bill and it is for $75 something.  So I call back and after arguing for about 30 minutes I got them to apply a discount for $25 so it would be the original price.  They said the discount would last one year (the term of the contract).  End of story.

Fast forward to yesterday... I get my bill and the discount is gone.  It has been 9 months.  So I call them up.  First I wait 5 minutes for a rep.  They confirm my account and I proceed to ask them why my bill is different.  The rep says that the promotions have expired and they there is no way I am going to get my $25 back.  She transfers me to a "tech desk" which apperantly is customer service but not called that.  I wait for an additional 2 minutes.  Talked to "Jim" now. I explained it again.  He said he will try to get my price back in line. However he can only offer a promo for services that they offer and they no longer off 512kbps they offer 1.5mbps.  Then the guy stops talking for a second and then amazingly got it all solved.  I keep my 512kbps service and they reapply the $25 discount.  He also puts a credit on my account for the missing $25 for last month.

Incredibly it was not much of a fight, and on top of that I only talked to two people.  Usually I talk to a nice person, then a mean person, and then a person who can help me.  Still, they often just stop talking and give no indication as to what they are doing… minutes go by with no talking.  Then you say something and they are like "just one moment."  How about just telling me up front, "Give me a minute to check my email and send a few IMs, also I am doing something to your account which may or may not be good, you will know when you get your bill."  That would be much better.

Website Stuff10/12/2005 10:48:47 AM

I have nothing to say, but I want to post.

We finally launched Phase One of  This will be the first real website where all I did was code.  Someone else wrote the content and another person did the actual design (which I translated into HTML).

Phase One has basic content and subscriber login system.  The current registration model is one whereby visitors fill in a form (or gives us a call) and we call them and verbally set them up.  I also virtually copied and pasted my personal blog code (this website) into RedChip so they could have a blog.

Phase Two has us taking online credit card subscriptions, but it has been a long time since I worked with payment processing servers and will probably take a while to write.

In other news,'s Alexa rating got even better over the weekend and is now an amazing 112,711.  This is better than all websites in our industry.  Not only is it better, it is significantly better.

Until next time.

Hi chet tell amanda hey for me. This is Nikki - Nikki @ 10/17/2005 10:03:19 PMHey Nikki !!!

I sure will!

I hope you are doing well.  If you send me an email (though the Contact page) I will give it to Amanda. - Chet @ 10/18/2005 5:05:06 PM
The current registration model is one whereby visitors fill in a form (or gives us a call) and we call them and verbally set them up. - rolex replikate in deutschland @ 11/9/2010 8:27:50 PM

WOW: Level 4911/3/2005 8:05:34 AM

I finally made it to level 49.  I haven't played in so long that I nearly forgot how to move :)

Anyways, I finally got a group together for Zul'Furak and we completed about 3 quests in there before we all died.  Also, I finished off some of the harder quests in the Searing Gorge.

I Won A Game11/3/2005 1:44:48 PM

I was at Ebaum's World during my lunch break.  There was a puzzle game that I heard was hard to beat.  There is a guy who holds out 18 pearls in a pseudo-pyramid.


The object is to leave the opponent with only one pearl to choose.  The catch is that you can only take from one row at a time... you can take as many as you want, but only from one row.  You can choose who goes first.

Well, he beat me a bunch of times so I decided to make him beat himself.  First I let him go first, he took the first three from the third row.  Then I restarted the game and *I* took the first three from the third row.  I recorded his next move and then restarted the game.  I then let him take the first three and did the same thing he did to me, I then recorded his response.

I did this several times until I had mapped out his response to each of *his* moves.  Then I restarted the game, let him go first and just played like we would have played me.

The trick is that he has several opening moves... you could map them all out, but I just kept restarting until he started with the first three on the third row.  I am able to beat him in 10 moves.

Here is the pattern I used:
Let him go first, if he takes the first three on the third row then follow these instructions, if not just play or restart.
For your first move take all three from the first row.
He will take the fourth one on the third row.
You then take the first one from the fourth row.
He will take the second and third from the fourth row.
You take the first and second from the second row.
He will take the third from the fourth row.
You take the fourth and fifth of the fourth row.
He will take the fourth from the second row.
At this point it should be obvious how to beat him, just choose a piece and take it.

Anyways, that is an example.

I noticed that if you go to the creator's website there is an updated version that has different starting combinations, but you can still use this method to beat it.

Blogosphere11/3/2005 3:52:41 PM

Both of my brothers-in-law now have blogs!

Wayne's is at
Josh's is at

Josh doesn't actually blog, he just uses it as a place for people to find him (or themselves...?!)

Wayne doesn't post often, but he does post very good business type things.

Also, my friend Joe Schneider finally got his blog up... he posts the kind of things I wish I had time to post.

If you have a blog let me know and I will go look at it.

What word is always pronounced wrong?11/6/2005 4:58:28 PM

The answer is "'Wrong', but probably also toile."

Amanda made that joke, the word toile is pronouced twal

Wee Doggy11/11/2005 10:46:35 AM

I have two things to report.

First, I made it to lvl 50 in WoW last night... "grinding" in Un'Goro Crater.  I also completed several quests so I am about 25% though lvl 50 (I have to get something insane like 150K exp points).

Second,  I changed the standard application background color from pure white to #FFFBF0 which is sort of off-white -- you can tell by the number that I took more blue out than green, and in hex colors, red and green make yellow... so it is slightly yellow, but not really. It is barely noticable but it is much easier on the eyes.  I also increased the font size in notepad (my web development IDE) to 11pt.  That also makes it much easier to code... I wish I had thought of it years ago.

And I have more to report:

I made a ton of revisions to the AIMSender program we use here, I switched it from the TOC protocol to Oscar because I was having major problems.  In addition, I replaced the UDP networking code with the library that I wrote a few months ago... I also fixed a bug in it which was causing CPU usage to spike.

My wife is addicted to Woot!.  She wants a "Bag o' Crap" which has three miscellaneous items in it for $1 (plus $5 for shipping)... there is often some very nice stuff (like laptop bags and mp3 players).  Sometimes it is just junk.

The sad thing is that it always sells out by 1:30AM (Woot! has a new item every day starting at 12:00AM) and she is never awake to check it (oddly enough, haha).  So, I am going to write a quick program which checks Woot! everyday and alerts me by sending a message to my cell phone (which may or may not wake me up).

Until next time.

There was a dog in the road.11/14/2005 10:00:29 AM

I got to work late today.  The reason: there was a rottweiler walking down the middle of the lanes on I-4 on the bridge over John Young Parkway.  He had traffic backed up for miles.

There are two reasons why nobody stopped and got the dog out of the road: 1) they are late for work; 2) it is a rottweiler.  The latter was my reason.  The dog was probably already scared and I didn't want to get attacked... better leave that to the professionals.

It was odd, however, that animal control wasn't there.  I hope the owner gets his dog back because he looked relatively nice.

Not many Chets Out There11/16/2005 3:37:17 PM

According to the Social Security Administration website, only 603 people were named "Chet" during the entire decade from 1980-1989.  That ranks 980 of the top 1000 most popular names.  Only .0031% of the population (born in the 80s), that is like 1/3 of 1%.

Since Chet is in the middle of a lot of other names I have never heard of (Kyler, Jerel, Vito, Errol, Uriel) I have to assume that most people have never even heard the name Chet, that is ridiculous and must change.

My brother Andy comes in at 13 with 284,634; Nick comes in at 6 with 275,518 (for the 90's); and Kelly comes in at 60.

So my siblings have very popular names and I am stuck near Kyler and Jerel... interesting.

Oh, my wife beats my siblings though: Number 3 with 369,460 other people named Amanda during the '80s.  I guess she was right about everyone having her name.

My first though: how does he have the time to research such things.  Well Since I am not doing much right now, i decided to take a look at where I am in the list: 10th for boys.

You should not feel so bad about being towards the ned of the list.  Just think, you are truly special, not just because you rode the short bus but because no one has your name. - Joe Schneider @ 11/17/2005 9:18:38 AM
HAHA, short bus!  That is great. - Chet @ 11/17/2005 2:41:10 PMHey Chet,
         What about your mother. Mom feels left out. - Kelly @ 12/4/2005 3:19:59 PM
Ok Kelly.

I left Mom and Dad out because they were born in the 60's and I didn't want to trudge all a the way "back there".

As it turns out, "Chet" was much more popular back then coming in at #689 with 1,234 people.  Now, if you are like Amanda, and think that Dad's name is actually "Chester" then he comes in at a much better #300.  Out of curiosity I looked up grandpa (assuming 1930's), his name is Chester.  He comes in at a very respectable 123.  Out of the 20 million people issued Social Security Cards this decade, neither the name Chet nor Chester was given... actually, the list stops at 483 names; so I know that no more than 483 people were named Chet or Chester.

Nancy is #26 with 142,697.

So there you have it. - Chet @ 12/6/2005 3:13:44 PM
Thank you for that, sweetie :-) - Mom @ 12/9/2005 12:56:06 PM

MySpace.com11/18/2005 11:10:48 AM

I set up a "myspace" the other day... I don't plan on putting stuff there.  I just wanted to provide a way for old HS people to find me (for some odd reason).

Anyway, you can check it out at

que anda  don cheto  aqui nomas quiero quemar aun camarada quesela pasa guevoniando todos los dias en el trabajo ledisen el animal porque no entiende de rasones`la compania sellama DHCinterpreses - Anonymous @ 6/24/2006 4:07:26 PMDon't speak Spanish around me. - Chet @ 6/26/2006 8:22:43 AMu know what i "THINK"!!!. .....that u need to "not" put another e-mail address!!!!!!!!!!!!! like da 1 of comcast! bcuz som people dnt noe how to do dizzz stuff nd dey get confused!!! much!!!

sooo u have to stop u dnt noe how many people get in trp]ouble!! sooo please change somtin! - ilana @ 7/17/2006 4:09:20 PM
Thanks, I'll log that away...

I cannot even being to make out what you were trying to say. - Chet @ 8/7/2006 1:50:03 PM

New Job11/23/2005 1:48:25 PM

I quit my job... and got a new one.

I actually had two very good job offers, I picked Software Techniques, Inc because I felt it was more in line with my skills and because I felt I had more to offer them.

I got everything squared away at Aurelius, I am sad to let go of because it did so well.  I built it to survive, so it should do fine.  I left Wayne do to all the easy stuff.

Well, I started my new job on Monday.  It is much better here.

I am a Web Application Developer for a small software development company in Winter Park.  We build custom "CAMA" tools (CAMA stands for Computer Aided Mass Appraisal) for county property appraisers -- you know -- like the tax reports and land usage.

They hired me because they handle the websites for their clients and because they want to build out more web-based applications.

The drive is pretty much just as bad, I am only one exit closer (which shaves about 10 minutes off the commute).

Anyways, I am busy.

WOW: Level 52 & Thanksgiving11/23/2005 1:52:15 PM

I made it to level 52 in Warcraft over the weekend.  I still have not finished all the quests in Zul'Farrak... we just cannot get past the waves of trolls... there has got to be some trick that we are missing.

Anyways, I am about 40% through to level 53, I might be able to get there over this next weekend (maybe).  Also, this week marks the one year anniversary of the game.

Since my wife's aunt and uncle are moving away (and we always have Thanksgiving at their house), we are having it at my sister-in-laws house.  I am also going to visit my parents on Friday.

Everyone have a safe time.

Discovery: Pragmatic Ajax11/23/2005 2:24:22 PM

It is very rare for me to see a computer book that I want... Usually I go to the computer books section at Barnes and Noble and grab a few, look them over, and put them back.  I think the last book I bought was Reversing: Secrets of Reverse Engineering, and it was very good.

You see, usually I discover a topic/technology online, play with it, decide what I think about it, etc., then I might go get a book on it so I can see what other people think.

Anyways, I was reading a /. article on AJAX (previously discussed here) and I saw this book: Pragmatic Ajax.  It goes over several aspects of AJAX that I have thought about and want to know more about.  Things like when to use it, popular debugging methods, layering, stuff like that... so this looks like a good book.

Unfortunately, it has not been published yet.  You can buy the "beta" version of it in PDF format for $20, or you can buy it later for probably $40.  I am not paying for PDFs, so I guess I will wait for it to come out.  I suggest you get it too, even if you don't know what the Web is.  You can jump on this "Web 2.0" bandwagon... I don't even know what that is yet!

Interesting Quote11/28/2005 8:08:00 AM

Mark Twain once said, "I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn't know."

Website Changes11/29/2005 4:20:08 PM

I just realized that when I dramatically changed the stylesheet for this website I forgot to go though the pages and change the tags (I was concentrating on the blog code, I didn't check the About, Projects, etc pages).

I went though and changed the tags to be more standards compliant, it should also look nicer too.

Funny Ditty12/2/2005 8:51:25 AM

So, Adobe is actually going to buy Marcomedia; in fact, it will happen tomorrow.

I saw a funny "song" on Slashdot today:

""To the tune of Yankee Doodle Went to London...

Big Adobe went to town
Riding with great worry
"Microsoft might buy our foes
Goodness let us hurry"

Big Adobe, buy them out
Big Adobe dandy
Mind the lawsuits and the FUD
And with your cash be handy

Macromedia went to the web
With great Flash and vigour
Then Adobe said to them:
"We pwnz you, start to quiver"

Big Adobe, buy them out
Get yourself a trophy
Buy a business out of fear
And call it Macradobe

All you geeks and all you nerds
Reading this here story
Remember what the Parent said
And call it Macradobe""

Also, I found a new great blog called flow|state.  It is a UI theory and design site and it is very interesting.  There is a good article called Letting a user specify a preference using an example which talks about a excellent way of having users natually give their preference.

I'm quite surprised you don't get any comments.  I for one enjoy the idea behind ChetOS and consider it a masterpiece. - Anonymous @ 12/5/2005 4:01:08 PMI don't know who you are Mr/Mrs/Ms. Anonymous... but I don't get any comments because nobody reads my blog. - Chet @ 12/6/2005 1:07:44 PM

Finding the number of digits in a number12/6/2005 2:28:14 PM

I was trying to figure out if there is a mathematical way to count the number of digits in a number.  Sure, I could convert the number to a string and then get the length... then figure out if there is a decimal in there and subtract one, and then figure out if it is a negative and subtract one more... but I thought there might be a way to figure it out using math.

I searched the Internet and all I came up with is:

Private Function GetDigitCount(inValue As Double) As Double
      GetDigitCount = Int(Log(inValue) / Log(10)) + 1
End Function

The author of this function uses the power of the logarithm to do the work.  A logarithm returns the number by which you must raise a base to return the input.  The log() function is, by default, base 10.  Therefore saying log(23) is asking, "What do I need to raise 10 by to get 23."  So if I run it I get the answer 1.36172... which means I can do 10^1.36172... and get 23.  Pretty cool.

Let us do a few quick checks on this function.

      Log(23) = 1.36172...
      Log(10) = 1
      1.36172/1 = 1.36172
      Convert number to an whole number = 1
      1 + 1 = 2

That gives us the correct answer: 2.

Let us try this again using a number with a decimal:

      Log(23.3) = 1.36735...
      Log(10) = 1
      1.36735/1 = 1.36735
      Convert this number to an integer = 1
      1 + 1 = 2

Ut oh, the anwser given is: 2.  It should be three.

One more thing, a negative number... well I am not even going to bother.  The logarithm of a negative number results in an imaginary number which most programming languages do not support.

Also, lets break this function down some... The logarithm of 10 is always 1 (in a base 10 numbering system) because we are asking what do I have to raise 10 by to get 10... 10^1=10.  I am not sure why he put that in rather than simply dividing by one, so "fix" that:

Private Function GetDigitCount(inValue As Double) As Double
      GetDigitCount = Int(Log(inValue) / 1) + 1
End Function

But then you have to ask why divide by one at all?

Private Function GetDigitCount(inValue As Double) As Double
      GetDigitCount = Int(Log(inValue)) + 1
End Function

So basically all this function is saying is take the whole number part of the logarithm of a number, add one, and that is the number of digits... interesting way to look it it, and it works for positive whole numbers.  I feel justified in assuming that the author intended to use this with numbers with decimals because he made the input parameter a 'double' which accepts very long decimal numbers... it is odd though that the function returns a 'double' as you would not have parts of a number being returned.

In the end, it appears the only reliable way to get the number of digits in a number is to convert the number to a string, remove the (-) sign and the decimal, and count the number of characters.

Private Function GetDigitCount(inValue as Double) as Integer
      dim strNumber as String = inValue.toString()
      dim numberOfDigits as Integer = strNumber.length()
      if strNumber.Contains(".") then numberOfDigits = numberOfDigits - 1
      if strNumber.Contains("-") then numberOfDigits = numberOfDigits - 1
      return numberOfDigits
end function

Let us try this new function on the hardest number I can think of.

      strNumber = "-23.456"
      numberOfDigits = 7
      strNumber does contain "." so numberOfDigits = 6
      strNumber does contain "-" so numberOfDigits = 5
      return 5

So we get the answer: 5.

That is correct.

Microsoft vs. South Korea12/7/2005 8:35:31 AM

I don't know if you have heard yet, but South Korea is fining Microsoft $32 million dollars... probably for some anti-competitive practice.  They are also requiring them to ship a version of Windows that does not include Messenger (IM Client) or Windows Media Player AND a version that has links to competitior products (I guess like Firefox, Eudora, AIM, BackupEXEC, iTunes).

There is an interesting conversation here on Slashdot.  Astonishingly most people on this anti-M$ website are actually siding with Microsoft.

However, here is a comment that strikes me as... I don't know.  There are words for it, like 'socialist' and 'mindless', but I am not going to say them.

Quote: Concerning RealPlayer, when it was suggested that Microsoft should add it to Windows, Microsoft said that people could easily download it, so bundling it with Windows was unnecessary and out of the question.

Now that WMP and Messenger are to be removed, suddenly downloading a media player is such a terrible handicap!

When it was suggested that Sun's JRE should be bundled with Windows, Microsoft asked why Sun should get a free ride on Windows, and was against adding third-party software to Windows.

The 'free ride' of bundling obviously does make a big difference. Just because Microsoft owns the operating system, this doesn't mean that it should be allowed to bundle whatever it likes.

What company is going to suffer as Microsoft has to bundle another product with Windows to entice people to upgrade? Maybe a PhotoShop clone is to be bundled with Vista's successor?

My personal favorite is "Just because Microsoft owns the operating system, this doesn't mean that it should be allowed to bundle whatever it likes."

Why not! What kind of comment is that?!  I would ask him who he thinks should determine what software is bundled... If he says other software companies then I will ask that my software be included with his software.  If he says the government then... oh well, he is beyond help.  The market perhaps?  I think the market has spoken because nobody is complaining except for liberals and foreign governments.

He doesn't get that bundled Microsoft products are not getting a "free ride", they are the ride.  People don't buy the operating system just because (otherwise Apple would have succeeded).  They buy it for 1) bundled software, 2) supported software.  Linux has a lot of bundled software (none linked to Microsoft mind you), but it does not have much popular supported software (although that is changing rapidly).

Also, I guess he has not heard of Acrylic which is a Photoship clone.

If I don't want to use MS Messenger (and I don't), I install something else.  If I don't know what I want then Microsoft says, "Hey, use ours!" and I am none the wiser... not Microsoft's fault, my fault.

Hey, I turned this article into my first ever Slashdot comment, check it out at

Der Scratchpad12/7/2005 9:06:21 AM

I have added a new feature to the website called "Scratchpad".  Sort of a publically available clipboard.  I haven't seen anything like it before so maybe it isn't such a good idea.

Anyway, its purpose is to allow me to paste something there and get to it from anywhere... like if I upload a file to the server but I don't want to remember the link, I just paste the link and I can get it from home.  When I am done with it I just delete it from the edit box.

It is very lightweight, no versioning or access controls.  The page simply presents the contents of the scratchpad (run through the blog formatter so the links are parsed correctly) and also an edit box.

Since they are not seperate entries, if you delete everything from the box and click "Update" you will remove everything... so... if you want to use it feel free, but don't mess with stuff you didn't write.  Also, please delete it when you are finished (because I might delete it if it hangs around too long).

DOCTYPES That Work12/8/2005 1:34:22 PM

I am tired of having to search for a valid (X)HTML DOCTYPE when I build a site so I am putting them up here so I can get them quickly.  I took a few out that I will never need (like Frameset).

HTML 4.01 Strict, Transitional, Frameset

This is a good one, but it does not support the "target" attribute on links... that is just stupid.  I suggest using this DOCTYPE even if you page uses the target attribute.
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "">

I don't exhaustively know the difference between Transistional and Strict.  I know some of the differences, the ability to use the target attribute is one.

XHTML 1.0 Strict and Transitional
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "">

Use this if you are going to use XML for some reason.  I made my site XHTML Strict compliant for fun, but as far as I can tell there is no reason to use it unless you are imbeding XML data.  Like HTML Strict, this does not support the "target" attribute on links, which is stupid... I think I said that already.

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "">

This is also for XML, but it is not so strict.

These are pulled from

Update: In doing research for this entry I have been converted in two ways... first, I am going to remove the target attribute from the links.  It seems as though people with Firefox (which I don't use) would rather open the window as a tab rather than be forced to open it as a window.  I feel bad for the people who don't know to Shift+Click to get a new window.

Also, it appears that in order for XHTML to actually be of some use (and not a hinderance to the browser) certain odd things need to happen.  For one, the MIME type must be set to "application/xhtml" which requires a change on the server (and although I could change this, I am not because it would probably break other websites).  Also, the document needs a special header to be rendered as XHTML, it looks like the browser just reverts to HTML 4.01 when these things are not in place.

SQL Code12/15/2005 3:18:44 PM

Here is some extremely useful SQL code I came across.  If you ever need a list of all the tables in a database use this:

SELECT Table_Name FROM Information_Schema.Tables WHERE Table_Type='BASE TABLE' and Table_Name <> 'dtProperties';

These can save you if you don't have access to the schema (and amazingly sometimes you won't).

New Books12/23/2005 10:45:16 AM

I got a gift certificate for Borders during my company's Christmas party.  The next day I went to Borders to pick something out.

As usual, I went to the computer book section, and as usual I found absolutely nothing that looked even remotely interesting.

Then I looked through the math and science section, I found a few cool books in there... but they were too expensive.

So finally I decided to drop that paradigm and look for Michael Savage's book Border, Languages, People or Savage Nation.  Well, the system said they had it so I went looking in the Political section.  I couldn't find it, but I did see a bunch of books I never want to see again (like, Bush Dynasty and The Lies of George W. Bush).  Anyways I picked up a copy of the "founding documents" for $1 and also a book called Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism by William Bennett.

The $1 book is quite a bargain, it had even more than I expected.  It starts off with a timeline of events leading up to the American Revolution and continues on past the signing of the Constitution and motivation and history of the Bill of Rights.  It then gives the complete text of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.  There were two interesting things I learned from this book.  The first is that the common conception that the Bill of Rights was added as an afterthought because the founders were not terribly concerned about individual rights.  In fact the opposite was true, they initially assumed that since the Constitution layed out the bounds for government individual rights would be assumed.  James Madison from Virginia insisted that a bill of rights be added to the Constititution and they were (based on Virgiania's Declaration of Rights).

Another thing that I though was interesting is something that pertains to today's patent debate: the rational.  I hear people saying that patents stifle invention because once someone gets one they stop inventing; that if we remove (some say reform) the patent system people would have to continue inventing to stay ahead.  From what I read about true inventors, they don't stop inventing.  Now, the Constitution states that "Congress may promote the progress of science and useful arts by granting copyrights and patents;" so the founders assummed that patents were a good thing and promoted (not stifled) innovation.  The fact is that patents reward inventors by providing a way for them to profit on their invention.  They do not have to worry about someone seeing their product in the store and making a copy and selling it.

I find it interesting that most of the people who support patent reform are are also anti-capitalists.  They think it is evil for someone to profit on their invention--after all, it is their "duty" to share it with others to make the world a better place.

One thing I find interesting is Microsoft's incessent patenting.  They claim that they only patent things because if they don't someone else will and then sue them.  I have to believe this.  I have yet to hear of a case where Microsoft sued someone for patent infringment; I am constantly hearing about people suing Microsoft.  Then you get people on Slashdot celebrating that the little guy is sticking it to "the man".  Well, usually the patent that is being enforced should never have received a patent.  The case I just linked to is about remote software patching methods and content versioning systems... both of which have been in use for decades.

If Microsoft had received a patent on this first simply to protect themselves people would be outraged; even though Microsoft would not have enforced it.

I am all for patent reform, how about we get people knowledgable in the history of the industry who know that certain things have prior art and reject the patent... somethings in the computing industry need to be patented, others have been freely given to the community years ago and should not be patented.

Anyway, that is my rant on patents spurred on by the Constitution.

The other book I got was Why We Fight, I picked it up because when I flipped though it I saw a chapter on Israel which I want to know more about.  I also got it because it is by William Bennett who I have found to be very meticulous.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Christmas12/27/2005 4:10:27 PM

I hope everyone had a great Christmas.  This year my wife and I hosted her family, usually we gather at Aunt Teresa's house, but they are moving.

My wife suprised me with Star Trek:TNG Season Six on DVD... I was very happy about that.  She also got me A Reader's Greek New Testament which one of my professors said would help me.  My parents got me a 10-person tent and some nice cast iron camping stuff (dutch oven, pan, griddle).

My brother-in-law Wayne got me a book I really wanted In Search Of Certainty.

I spent all day yesterday watching Star Trek and movies and eating candy... it was great.

Happy New Year1/1/2006 6:44:49 PM

Hope you all had a great year last year.  Let's look forward to another one!

WOW: Level 54 & Phone Lines1/2/2006 2:00:27 PM

I played Warcraft for several hours on Saturday and made it to level 54.  I am about 25% through it now, and I have enough quests to get me to 55 easily.

I spent all afternoon Sunday in my attic running phone lines and network cable, of course I would choose the hottest day in the last two weeks to do it.

Anyway, now my grandma has a phone in her room.  My office has a phone jack so I no longer have to run a cord from the hallway to the room (why there is a jack in the upstairs hallway and not the former bedroom is beyond me).  When I removed the faceplate from the wall I saw two cables coming into it.  One from below (which was live and runs to the box on the west side of my house) and other one from above (which was dead).  I traced that line through the attic and down the east exterior wall... I found the end outside my house coming out a hole in the wall... it was clipped off.  I am not sure what its purpose was, probably was the original POP for the phone system.

Cable Internet1/3/2006 12:59:23 PM

Ohh I cannot wait!  Sprint wants to raise my DSL+Phone bill by $25/month.  Little do they know that I just ordered cable Internet and it will be installed Thursday.

Amanda's grandma is living with us for a few months while her house is being built out in Texas.  She wants cable tv (the basic channels) so I figured now would be a good time to drop Sprint and get fast Internet.  My Sprint bill will be going up to $77.00/month next month, that includes the lowest phone service and DSL... that is all.  No call waiting, long distance or anything.  I will be getting cable tv and Internet for 47.00/month.  So if you take 47.00 and add 20.00 (for basic phone service) you get 67.00/month, so I am basically getting TV for $10 less... it is amazing.  And my DSL speed is pathetic, something like 128Kbps (I am paying for 512).  Roadrunner Lite is suppose to be something like 1Mbps, that is 8x faster than what I have.

Now, if I can find reliable VoIP service that is less than $20 I would drop Sprint altogether!

Google Video1/5/2006 1:11:43 PM

I was visiting Google Lab's website when I saw a new beta service that they have; Google Video.

This looks like a very cool website, has nice video searching capabilities as well as a good built-in video player.  I was looking at their list of popular videos (on the homepage) and saw this movie which shows a AMD duron processor exploding.  Not only does it fragment the processor itself, it blows a hole in the motherboard *and* the table... ouch!

So, check out this website, but don't remove the heatsink from your processor.

Brighthouse... You got me this time!1/11/2006 1:08:07 PM

Well, looks I jumped from the pot into another, cheaper, pot.

Brighthouse Networks advertises their Roadrunner Lite service as "less that 1Mbps, 5x faster than dialup."  Well, I get my service the other day and do a speed check... 256Kbps.  I thought to my self, "That is one quarter the speed I thought I would get."

So I call them up to inquire.  They admit that it is a bit misleading.  You see 56Kbps times 5 is in fact around 256Kbps (a little higher actually).  So when they say it is less then 1Mbps they are correct.  But they could have said "less than 192Gbps" too because it is just as skewed.  Yes, 256Kbps is less than 1Mbps, but when someone says "less than X" you figure it is going to be around X... not 1/4th X.

Well, at least unlike Sprint they were nice about it.  Nothing I can do about it.  I can still play Warcraft which is all that matters.

I am also getting comparible speed for $10 less.

Also, about Sprint.  I called up to cancel before my 1 year DSL contract ran out.  They said that there would be a $99 early termination fee... I said that my year has not expired.  They then informed me that when I called before because they messed up my bill it was renewed.  So I told him that it makes no sense that they would renew a contract just because I called up about a mistake THEY made.  Well, the "customer service" rep was quiet for literally 30 seconds... so I am like "hello?" and he said "one minute please"... then about 20 seconds later he says it has been taken care of... yeah right, we will see.

I tell you, I am convinced that every single "customer support" rep there is incompetent.  I have dealt with probably 9 of them which is probably a large enough sample.  I won't know if the person that "helped" me the other day is incompetent until I get my bill... chances are it will still have the early termination fee on it so I will have to call again.  Then they are going to have me pay it and credit my account.  I don't think I am going to let them get away with it again... I will tell them to send me a new bill.  No reason why I should have my cash flow messed up due to their incompetence.

It probably won't work, but it is definatly worth hassling them.

Sprint is awful, they did the same thing to me. I was also advised to get a new phone because my service was bad (and of course that was my "phone's" fault). I am now on my 3rd phone and my contract has been renewed each time. Still bad service. Yet my roommate has verizon and his service is fine. He even has the same phone I originally had!! So yeah, it was my phone, yeah right. So now I have to wait until Aug of 2008 to cancel without the $200 fee due to their incompetence AND pay for service I am not even getting. ( I have to go outside and practically leave my complex to get service).  My coworker lives in the same complex and has sprint and he can't get service either. Yet it is not their fault, hmmm. But Verizon gets service, why?!?! - Anonymous @ 10/12/2007 11:34:40 AM

CSS replacement for Table Cellspacing and Cellpadding1/13/2006 3:03:33 PM

It is a bit clunky and "technically" inappropriate to use <table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" /> because those are presentation level attributes and HTML is suppose to be strictly content level... it is splitting hairs, I know.  However, this is the current push.

So, after years of using those attributes knowing it was incorrect, I decided to find the proper CSS way.  It is actually very simple and it works on all modern browsers.

In your CSS declaration for the table include {border-collapse:collapse;} and for the TD use {padding:3px;margin:0px;}.

If you are using the width or height attributes in your CSS including the padding will mess it up... just be sure to subtract (Padding X 2) from the width and height.

Hope that helps.

I used "table{border-spacing:..}" as a replacement for "cellspacing" and "td{padding:...}" for "cellpadding". - ... @ 2/5/2006 12:37:31 PMtest - Anonymous @ 7/24/2008 9:14:54 AMUsed table{border-spacing:..}" as a replacement for "cellspacing" and "td{padding:...}" for "cellpadding"...
works on firefox 3.6.8, IE 8 and Chrome
- SDT @ 8/13/2010 10:38:13 AM

Future Reference #11/16/2006 9:18:40 AM

I saw this on Slashdot today and I figured I would save it.  Some day, many years from now, I will look around and see that oil hasn't skyrocketed, that "gee dubya" wasn't nuts, and things aren't unimaginably worse than they are now... not that things are that bad now.

This is a child topic about Bush having his finger on the GPS "off button".

watch it happen, it won't be long (Score:1) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 15, @11:55PM (#14479555)

You see what happens when the US and Israel attack Iran and screws over a huge amount of oil going to Europe and China and Japan elsewhere. You'll see who's an ally or not. NATO will half collapse overnight and become irreparably broken. hint: the US is increasingly becoming ostracized around the world. People do *not* like what our so called leaders have been doing lately. Plus, they righteously can see that gee dubya is *nuts* and has surrounded himself with people even nuttier. You are going to see oil skyrocket on the world market and investors dumping dollars as fast as they can. Then it will get worse from there. Bad worse, unimaginable worse. We haven't even approached the amount of global mistrust and ill will that the neocon crazies are capable of producing. And the neolibs are such wimps at the top and have so many of their own scandals yet to surface that they will let it happen, just like they let the iraq war happen.

WOW: Level 56 & 571/16/2006 10:26:26 AM

Since my wife was at a youth convention all weekend I played a lot of Warcraft.

I got to level 56 on Friday night... played all day Saturday and got to level 57 very early sunday morning.

Actually, I didn't play all day Saturday.  I rented Tron.

So, I managed to gain a full level in 24 hours... that is very impressive for the higher levels.  It usually takes several weeks for me.

I almost finished Attunement to the Core which would have been nice because my guild is doing end-game content and I could have participated if I had managed to finish that quest.

I also spend some time reading over computer processor design websites.  And I went ahead and bought Computer Organization and Design: Second Edition which goes over the basics of binary math as well as creating a ALU (which is the heart of the CPU).  I think it also goes over the Control Unit (which decodes instuctions into microcode).

me|Church2/8/2006 8:22:56 AM

"They" played a funny video in church last Sunday.

The preacher used it to constrast between the me church and the "the church".

Danny2/13/2006 4:32:22 PM

After years on not looking but rather waiting I stumbled upon Lincon's web site... it might not be his active one because he isn't that good.  It has been over one hundred fortnights and as many days and too little comes to much.

But enough talk, here it is

His profile says that he is in Starke, so he must be doing hard time in state prison... that is not entirely unexpected.  And when I say "is" I mean that it probably is not somewhat expected but when it is not it becomes the lavish is so and so it is, but not so.

I have been to Starke a few times... good pig country.

ASP.NET 2.02/15/2006 12:20:48 PM

Turning on Option Explicit and Option Strict can increase the performance of your web applications.  ASP.NET 2.0 by default enables Option Explicit -- which means you are suppose to explicitly declare your variables (as opposed to simply using them).  This is nice and all but how about Option Strict (which means you are suppose to "manually" perform type conversions).  Well, you could add strict="on" to the page directive of every single page... but this is a bit of a hassle, especially after you have already created your pages (or forgot to put them on some because there is no way to specify it by default).

Well, the quick way is to put <compilation explicit="true" strict="true" /> in your web.config file.  You might already have the <compliation debug="true" /> line in there, so just add the attributes.  If not, it is located at

        <compliation />

Don't worry if you see about 100 error messages come up.  Just go through and explicitly state the type of each variable (ie, if you say dim thisVariable = 10 then you would need to change it to something like dim thisVariable as Integer = 10.  Likewise, if you do a lot of type conversions you will need to explicitly state them, so rather than doing someInteger = 10 / 3 (which would results in a "double" type) you need to either redeclare someInteger as someDouble or do someInteger = Convert.ToInt32(10 / 3)

It ain't pretty, but it is what needs to be done.

Abortion subterfuge2/27/2006 8:10:44 AM

I was perusing the blogs I subscribe to and found a good writeup about a certain inconsistency among abortionists.

The main point, which was said well, is that there is no difference between a child conceived by consenting adults versus a child conceived by a non-concenting person (ie, rape and incest).

If your only problem is with the legal consequences regarding this act (like the rapist having full parental rights) then change the law, don't take the easy way out and kill the child.

You my friend, are a freaking idiot. "Easy way out and kill the child." First when is getting raped, or having your father conceive your child "easy". It wrong, and it's wrong to punish the child with a lifetime of mental, physical, and emotional difficulties of being a victim of incest. Scientifically, and physically speaking children conceived in incest are genetically flawed -- meaning that they will be susceptible to all kinds of deformaties and abnormalities. Is it morally right to punish someone for a crime it did not commit, that you are so keen to ask. There is no need to change the law, it already exist! - Anonymous @ 3/1/2006 2:10:32 PMFirst, I never said anything about being raped being easy... that is not even the point.  The point is that people find it easier to kill the child rather than change the law that makes parental responsiblity complicated (eg, should a rapist have parental rights to the child?)

By your reasoning we should abort any child that has any genetic abnormality because there is a chance of deformaties and abnormalities (this may suprise you, but not all children of incestual relationships end up having problems).

Therefore, we can now abort anyone with signs of Down's Syndrome, Turner's Syndrome, sickle cell anemia, diabetes (in some cases), cystic fibrosis, color blindness, thalasemia, etc.  We don't even to wait and find out if the mutated gene will manifest itself... it is entirely possible that the person will only be a carrier of a defective gene.

I am not even going to talk about the mother's choice issue as you are bringing up purely medical "reasons".

Now, in what way is allowing a child to live with physical, mental, and emotional difficulties a punishment for a crime?  Is not killing someone who was beaten badly punishment?  If someone maliciously throws acid in my face should I be killed so I am not punished with a disfigured face? According to your reasoning, I should be.

Now lets take it a step further, lets say someone accidentally throws acid in my face... should I be killed?

Your arguments make no sense, and you take the worst-case senario and act as if it is the norm.

Also, am I really your friend?  Or are you just being rhetorical? - Chet @ 3/1/2006 2:36:17 PM

Usability2/28/2006 4:18:52 PM

I was reading an article today.  It was nothing special, just telling us why normal people cannot/will not program (which I disagree with).  However, it did have a quote that I found insightful:

In Don Norman's wonderful book "The Psychology of Everyday Things" (now called "The Design of Everyday Things" in paperback) he provides these "principles of good design" (at the end of Chapter 2):

Visibility. By looking, the user can tell the state of the device and the alternatives for action.
A good conceptual model. The designer provides a good conceptual model for the user, with consistency in the presentation of operations and results and a coherent, consistent system image.
Good mappings. It is possible to determine the relationships between actions and results, between controls and their effects, and between the system state and what is visible.
Feedback. The user receives full and continuous feedback about the results of actions.

I haven't read the book, but let me give some quick examples about what these mean.

Visiblilty - The user doesn't have to perform any action to determine what is going on currently.  It is obvious that a page is loading, or a file is being downloaded, or database record is being processed.  Also, if the user is able to do something besides said action, those actions are present on the same "layer" as the current action (ie, not hidden beneath a menu).

Good mapping - This is extreemely important for web development.  The user needs to know exactly what is going to happen if he clicks a link or submits a form.  In some ways it is more important for a web-app than a normal application because the modified data is stored on a server which the user doesn't have access to.

Also, making sure that all the green buttons with an arrow do the same thing.  Consistency is the key for usability.  If I have a menu on the left side, I cannot just put it at the top for some pages if I run out of room.

Feedback - I am sure this is important for websites, but I cannot think of a good example right now (I can think of some, but they are too obvious).  It is important for standalone applications, a great example is the mouse cursor changing to an hourglass when a process is executing.

Anyway, I am always looking for ways to make my applications (usually web-based) more user friendly.  I have come a long way--mostly due to the fact that Infinity Technologies' applications were for very computer-illerate people.  But even still, I often find myself taking a path that is obvious for a computer-person but convoluted (or confusing) for most people.  A good example is a newletter signup form.  *I* am inclined to just put a textbox up with a submit button (maybe say "Email:" next to it).  I do this because if I were to go to a website asking to sign me up, I would know what to expect.

However, lots of people won't do it because it isn't obvious enough (not to their discredit).  Having something like "Enter your email address in the box below to receive email updates." is much better.  Then have the input box have large type and enough room to fit a standard address.  Also, make sure the submit button is clear (eg, have it say "Subscribe" or "Register" rather than an image with a circle in it).

Paying some attention to the way a visitor sees your site makes all the difference.  Don't assume that everyone intuitively knows what to do next.

There is a website that I like that discusses usablility issues, it is called flow|state.  I have mentioned it before.

Website Change2/28/2006 4:38:05 PM

As you may recall, I recently changed the background color of my applications to a off-white.  It is #FFFCF7 in hex.

I also changed my font to Bitstream Vera Sans Mono.  It is suppose to be a programmer friendly font, and it is very nice.  I forget where I downloaded it at, but just do a google search and you will find it (free).

Since I like the softer background color I decided to change the website background color to it (not quite as yellow because it looked bad).  Wow!  It makes quite a difference in the readability.

Abortion subterfuge :: Redux3/1/2006 2:46:40 PM

Anonymous posted a comment to abortion subterfuge.

You my friend, are a freaking idiot. "Easy way out and kill the child." First when is getting raped, or having your father conceive your child "easy". It wrong, and it's wrong to punish the child with a lifetime of mental, physical, and emotional difficulties of being a victim of incest. Scientifically, and physically speaking children conceived in incest are genetically flawed -- meaning that they will be susceptible to all kinds of deformaties and abnormalities. Is it morally right to punish someone for a crime it did not commit, that you are so keen to ask. There is no need to change the law, it already exist!
Posted by Anonymous at 2:10 PM

I "liked" it so much that I responded to it.  I think it is important enough to put as a main post.

First, I never said anything about being raped being easy... that is not even the point.  The point is that people find it easier to kill the child rather than change the law that makes parental responsiblity complicated (eg, should a rapist have parental rights to the child?)

By your reasoning we should abort any child that has any genetic abnormality because there is a chance of deformaties and abnormalities (this may suprise you, but not all children of incestual relationships end up having problems).

Therefore, we can now abort anyone with signs of Down's Syndrome, Turner's Syndrome, sickle cell anemia, diabetes (in some cases), cystic fibrosis, color blindness, thalasemia, etc.  We don't even to wait and find out if the mutated gene will manifest itself... it is entirely possible that the person will only be a carrier of a defective gene.

I am not even going to talk about the mother's choice issue as you are bringing up purely medical "reasons".

Now, in what way is allowing a child to live with physical, mental, and emotional difficulties a punishment for a crime?  Is not killing someone who was beaten badly punishment?  If someone maliciously throws acid in my face should I be killed so I am not punished with a disfigured face? According to your reasoning, I should be.

Now lets take it a step further, lets say someone accidentally throws acid in my face... should I be killed?

Your arguments make no sense, and you take the worst-case senario and act as if it is the norm.

Also, am I really your friend?  Or are you just being rhetorical?

First of all, I was being rhetorical -- obviously you're a genius <sarcasm> so you figured that one out on your own.

Second, you are opening another can of worms by asking,

"Is not killing someone who was beaten badly punishment? If someone maliciously throws acid in my face should I be killed so I am not punished with a disfigured face?"

The answer to your question is, obviously no -- UNLESS the person wants to be euthanized. Obviously this brings up a whole other set of issues, the Terri Schiavo case rings a bell. If someone wants to do die, why not allow it? It's not your choice, nor mine, only the person who's making the decision.

Getting back to the topic you seemed to have digressed from,

"Therefore, we can now abort anyone with signs of Down's Syndrome, Turner's Syndrome, sickle cell anemia, diabetes (in some cases), cystic fibrosis, color blindness, thalasemia, etc.  We don't even to wait and find out if the mutated gene will manifest itself... it is entirely possible that the person will only be a carrier of a defective gene."

I believe that was your quote. You're are speaking generality now, also known as ignorance. You have insinuated that the parents will not have a choice when it comes to the deciding upon the quality of life their child may have. Should a child, we know will have any of the diseases you have mentioned be forced to live a life that a minimal quality of life? If the parent deems this not to, I believe the parent is doing what is best for the child.

If you want to talk about pregnancy as a result of a violent crime, obviously rape, then you must realize the correlation between the number of aborted fetuses conceived from rape and the drop in crime. You're a smart guy so I know you won't stoop to the Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson argument of how hard facts and black and white statistics are liberal lies. - Anonymous @ 3/2/2006 2:55:51 PM
Terri Schiavo is irrelavent to this topic because she was not a victim of a violent crime (unless you admit that Michael's beating her put her in a coma (which I am not willing to admit)).

I am not sure how speaking in generality is speaking in ignorance.
You said that is was wrong to force a child to live with a lifetime of mental, physical, and emotional difficulties -- difficulties steming from genetic desease.  I am simply pointing out that if it is wrong to allow a undesired child to live with these problems, it would be wrong for a desired child to live like this.

I believe it was you who insinuated that the parents will not have a choice.  Your statement, "Scientifically, and physically speaking children conceived in incest are genetically flawed -- meaning that they will be susceptible to all kinds of deformaties and abnormalities." Implies that the child will, in fact, be messed up.  When the common case is the child will be fine.

Why would I want to talk about the correlation between the increase in abortion and the decrease in crime?  That would get us even further off topic.

I would be curious to see how many pregnancies are a result of rape, and of those how many have been aborted. - Chet @ 3/2/2006 3:22:19 PM

XML problem3/6/2006 5:11:59 PM

You cannot use html entities like &nbsp; in XML because they don't exist.  If you need a non-breaking space (like I did) use the unicode value, which is &#x160;


JavaScript tidbit3/16/2006 2:36:39 PM

Lets say you want to execute a function, but you don't want to determine which function to call until runtime.  The appropriate method is to do this:

var methodName = prompt('Enter a JavaScript function name.');

Would get a popup box with the "Enter some JavaScript" text and an input box.  He could then type in alert('Hello World'); and it would be executed.

Lets take this a bit further.  What if you wanted the server to be able to tell the browser what to do using JavaScript at runtime?  Well you could use the new fangled AJAX to ask the server what to do, and then have the server reply with a function.  It would work exactly the same way, only it would be the server rather than the user supplying the methodName.

This brings up a interesting thing though... the server cannot know for certain if the function exists.  Assume the server returns response_populateSelectList(), if the client didn't implement it for some reason (or if it was misspelled) then it would "throw an error".  I say it like that because throwing an error in Internet Explorer is nothing like it is in a normal environment.  All you get is a notification that an error occurred on some line.  That line number can be (and usually is on very large projects) wrong.  Futhermore, it won't tell if you which source file it was in.

There are two methods for determining if a method exists.

if (alert) {

if ((typeof alert == 'function') || (typeof alert == 'object')) {

The first method works for most built-in objects.  The second works for user-defined functions as well.

However, going back to our origional example.
var methodName = prompt('Enter a JavaScript function name.');

The variable methodName is a string, it is not a function, so doing typeof methodName will return string not function.  You have to use the eval() method to your advantage and have it check for you.  Also, chances are your function is a sub-set of the window object so you have to prefix it with the declaration.  Hence:
if (!('function' == eval('typeof window.' + methodName))) {
      alert('Invalid function call: ' + methodName);
      return false;

Now, when you pass an invalid function it will tell you, rather than just having to guess exactly what went wrong.

Oh, while we are on the subject.  If you ever want to pass parameters to your method:

var methodName = 'alert';
var parameterList = 'Hello World';
eval(methodName + '(parameterList);');

New Nephew4/3/2006 8:00:45 AM

April 1st, 2006, at 12:02AM, Levi Wayne Johnson was born.  How is that for luck!  Everyone (except me I guess) was hoping he would come a few minutes sooner.  I think that every single year I will pull an April Fools Day prank on him by telling him I didn't get him any gifts this year.  That will probably get old after about 5 years, but that is what uncles are for.

He is health an happy appearently.  Weighted in at 7lbs 4oz, a little less than a gallon of water.

Photos available:

AJAX: Is your application secure enough?4/5/2006 10:55:06 AM

This blog post is a pretty good sumation of commonly seen AJAX vulnerabilities.  It doesn't really share any methods for fixing them, but at least it will get your mind thinking about them.

Saving custom classes to the Application/Session object4/11/2006 1:47:36 PM

ASP.NET offers several data objects that persist across website visits.  There is a session object for each user (the server maintains status using cookies), an application object for the entire server, and a new (to ASP.NET 2.0) cache object which is basically a data holder that can expire based on several events.

Now, lets say you create a custom class/object and want to save it.  First you would create your class:

Public Class MyClass
     Public Sub New()
     End Sub
End Class

Then you call

Dim classInstance As New MyClass()
Application.Add("ClassIdentifier", classInstance)

Well, you go and try to retrieve it later on using

Dim mySavedClass As MyClass() = Application.Item("ClassIdentifier")

Alas! it fails saying "Unable to cast object of type MyClass to MyClass" which doesn't make any sense.  Obviously it knows the type in the Application object (MyClass) and it knows the type you want it to become (MyClass) and they are the same.

The secret it not out there.  I am writing this so it might become so.

The answer is you cannot save "normal" classes to those ASP objects because they are serialized and saved to memory.  In order to make your custom class work you have to mark it as Serializable.  It is easy and takes just one partial line of code.

<Serializable()> Public Class MyClass

Just prefix you class declaration with the serializable attribute.

Why this information is not out there I don't know.

P.S. I could be wrong as to exactly why it needs Serializable, but it fixes the problem.  Also, I cannot say if there are any performance issues with its use.

Visual Studio Express: Free forever4/20/2006 11:39:32 AM

I have had beta editions of Visual Studio Express for about a year now.  When I started my new job I went to Microsoft's site to download the non-beta version.  I was suprised to see that they decided to release it for free until December, 2006.

Well, thankfully, they have decided to release it for free forever.

The Express edition of Visual Studio products are more lightweight and are missing some advanced functionality.  However, they are fully licensed for commercial use... even SQL Server 2005 Express is free.  Sure, there are some things you cannot do with it, but it is still a solid DB server.

Microsoft is doing a good thing here.  They sell a platform.  People use platforms because there are applications that they like that run on it (which is why Mac did not do so well for many years).  By giving out the tools to allow developers to work on the platform they dramatically increase their user "buy-in".

Anyway, I am happy about it.

I have been meaning to post several blog entries the last few days but I am way to busy when I get home.  Maybe Ill write some over the weekend.

Regular Expressions5/8/2006 1:45:28 PM

I need to do some heavy-duty user input validation in Javascript.  The best way to do this is through something called Regular Expressions.  They have been around for decades and are designed for pattern matching in strings.  Here is an example of a USA currency validation pattern: /^\$?\d{1,3}(\,?\d{3})*(\.?\d{2,})?$/  That will match any string with or without a dollar sign ($) with or without commas (but if there are commas they have to have three digits between them).  The first group of digits can be 1-3 digits long.  Also, it checks for a decimal, if there is one then you have to have at least two digits after it (you can have more though).

That would have taken many lines of string-manipulation code to handle it.  But I can do; and it will return true if it is valid.

Let me break it down some. The entire thing is enclosed in forward slashes:

The caret (^) in this context means "find starting at the beginning":

The dollar sign has special meaning so to use it normally you have to "escape" it.  That just means putting a backslash in front of it.  Also, we want to find the dollar sign 0 or 1 times (i.e., it is not required, but it can only be there once).

After the dollar sign we want to find the first group of digits.  It can be 1 to 3 digits long.  The \d (lowercase d) means any digit [0-9].  A curly brace with two numbers means at least the first and at most the second.

So far we have /^\$?\d{1,3}/ which by itself would match an optional dollar sign and one, two, or three digits (ie, $1; $123; 12; 000; would match).

Now we have the tricky part.  We want three digits seperated by a comma... however, the comma is not required.  Also, the comma is a special character (like the dollar sign) so we have to "escape" it as well.  We follow the comma by a question mark to indicate 0 or 1 times.  We put a \d after it to indicate that it should be followed by digits only (no letters, spaces, etc).  And follow the \d with a {3} with means three digits must follow it (no more, and no less).
We put all of that inside of parenthesis because it is a group: (\,?\d{3})*  We put an asterisk (*) after it to say that this group can repeat 0 or more times (so we can have multiple groups).

And the last part is for the decimal point.  A period is special so we have to escape it (\.) and we want it to match either no times or one time.  We must follow a decimal with two or more digits \d{2,}.  We put all of that in parenthesis to group it.  We follow the group with a question mark to indicate that this (eg: .000) can either happen once or never (not more that once).  If we wanted to require the decimal (and some numbers after it) we could replace the question mark with {1}.

The final part is a dollar sign (not escaped) which is the opposite of the caret at the beginning.  It means that that must be the end of the string.  Ie, without the ^ and $ we could correctly match "abcd$123,344.30efgh" because the number is properly formatted inside the string.  The ^ and $ just make sure there is nothing before the actual dollar sign and after the decimal digits.


It is pretty complicated once you get into more difficult stuff.  Of course, this was just digit matching, there is a plethura of special characters for letter, whitespace, words, lines.  There are also concepts that I have not used such as backtracking.

You can find an extensive review or a good Javascript-specific article.  For a list of different codes and for a tester/parser go here.

One thing that was somewhat counterintuitive (in Javascript) is that you don't assign the regex to a "string" per se, you just say var myRegEx = /.*/g; (which would match anything).

This is not meant to be a guide really, just to break down a common pattern without having to wade though ten pages of explanation.  Also, they always start with a /abc/ will match "abc" anywhere in a string... And they talk about that for a while, which is nice to know but entirely devoid of usefulness.  This is more pragmatic than instructional.  Also, it is here to provide a bookmark to RegEx references.

A year in blogging5/10/2006 2:11:12 PM

I should have written something last month.  For some reason I thought I started in May.

One year ago I had just ordered World of Warcraft and I was waiting for it to arrive (which took way too long).  I don't play it anymore because... well, for many reasons.  Lack of time is the biggest.

What has happened list last year, let me peruse the blog and see.
I played WoW a lot.

My home computer died; but I got a new one.

I got that bootloader itch and it went nowhere.  However, I did get further than I usually do (and when I get it again I will go futher again).

I read the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time in my adult life.

Straightened the palm trees in my back yard.  They are doing very well.  We also had a pine tree cut down.

I made a bunch of code changes to so it works properly in Firefox.

I Hung drywall in Grandma's attic in August and hung ceiling fans (a few months ago).  My wife and I also got bikes (which we don't ride often enough).

Went to Busch Gardens for the first time.

I started a great new job.

My wife's grandma came to live with us while her house is being built (in Texas).  She is getting ready to leave in about a month.

My wife and I became small group leaders with our church's youth group.  She has 9th and 10th grade girls and I have 9th and 10th grade boys.

I gained a solid knowledge in and true object oriented programming (I worked so long in VBScript I wasn't used to it).

Also, for some reason, my site gets about 1000 hits per week. And about 150-200 per day.  I don't know who these people are.  Also, I am pretty sure they are not from mexico looking for game cheats because I am not counting hits from spanish language search engines.

Scratchpad Erased :-(5/11/2006 12:22:02 PM

Looks like I am going to have to start taking snapshots of the Scratchpad.  Looks like some blog spammer figured he would just wipe it out and put a broken link it it...  I don't even remember what was in there (and I shouldn't have to remember, that is the point of the scratchpad).

But, it is my own fault for opening it up.  Now, whenever the content is changed it will create a new entry, not just overwrite the old one.

UPDATE: I was hit again.  However, last night I wrote a simple CAPTCHA which should help.  Right now it just asks a question (I think it is better to ask a question rather than show an image).  The question is static, and I will leave it that way until I get more spam.

CAPTCHA works5/12/2006 7:58:48 AM

Well, it works.  I have the website set to IM me whenever an invalid one comes in and it happened four times last night.

I think I will put up for comment posting as well; not that it matters, nobody comments anyway.

Also, I am going to make it so if the "person" fails the test three times he will be banned for a few days.

What is up with Maine?5/15/2006 11:50:00 AM

My brother is in Maine right now, he doesn't like it: too cold.  So, I got curious about the state.

Look at this picture of Maine...

What is up with the north-west side???  Less than 1 person per square mile!  I think we need to let Canada have that land because... we ain't usin' it.

Corporate Bingo5/22/2006 1:44:48 PM

This is pretty funny.  I pulled from

Do you keep falling asleep in meetings and seminars? What about those long and boring conference calls? Here's a way to change all of that.

1. Before (or during) your next meeting, seminar, or conference call, prepare yourself by drawing a square. I find that 5" x 5" is a good size. Divide the card into columns-five across and five down. That will give you 25 one-inch blocks.

2. Write one of the following words/phrases in each block:

* synergy
* strategic fit
* core competencies
* best practice
* bottom line
* revisit
* expeditious
* to tell you the truth (or "the truth is")
* 24/7
* out of the loop
* benchmark
* value-added
* proactive
* win-win
* think outside the box
* fast track
* result-driven
* empower (or empowerment)
* knowledge base
* at the end of the day
* touch base
* mindset
* client focus(ed)
* paradigm
* game plan
* leverage

3. Check off the appropriate block when you hear one of those words/phrases.

4. When you get five blocks horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, you win.

Paul Harvey Quote5/26/2006 9:35:08 AM

I was reading the Wikipedia entry for Paul Harvey.  If you have never heard of him don't feel bad; I stumbled across his radio "show" on accident.  His "Rest of the Story" segment lasts about 5 minutes and it comes on at 6:03 on AM580 WDBO.  It is usually very good (he is old, and he is catering to older audiences so I often don't know the famous person he is talking about).

Anyway, towards the bottom is a section titled "Controversial Quotes".  It contains one of the most thoughtful quotes I have ever read, it is in response to our response to the World Trade Center attacks:

"Winston Churchill was not here to remind us that we didn't come this far because we're made of sugar candy. So, following the New York disaster, we mustered our humanity. We gave old pals a pass, even though men and money from Saudi Arabia were largely responsible for the devastation of New York and Pennsylvania and our Pentagon. We called Saudi Arabians our partners against terrorism and we sent men with rifles into Afghanistan and Iraq, and we kept our best weapons in our silos. Even now we're standing there dying, daring to do nothing decisive, because we've declared ourselves to be better than our terrorist enemies -- more moral, more civilized. Our image is at stake, we insist. But we didn't come this far because we're made of sugar candy. Once upon a time, we elbowed our way onto and into this continent by giving smallpox infected blankets to native Americans. Yes, that was biological warfare! And we used every other weapon we could get our hands on to grab this land from whomever. And we grew prosperous. And, yes, we greased the skids with the sweat of slaves. So it goes with most great nation-states, which--feeling guilty about their savage pasts--eventually civilize themselves out of business and wind up invaded and ultimately dominated by the lean, hungry up-and-coming who are not made of sugar candy."


Remember, before the Romans fell to the attacks of oursiders, they fell to the attacks of insiders.

Chet, You are a hoot. Love mom - Mom @ 6/8/2006 7:58:06 PM

Press 1 for English6/5/2006 8:35:15 AM

I called up Orlando Utilities Commission because our power was out.  I get "Press 1 for English; Para Espanol marche dos."

What is up with that?  I live in an English speaking country; it should be assumed that I speak English.

If this was a private company I would not only understand, but I would fight for their right to use whatever language they want... but it isn't.  It is the public utilities service.

Since I am on the topic of language, let me point something out.  When God wanted to disintegrate the people at Babel he confused their language.  The language barrier is one of the most fragmenting aspects of humans--moreso than color and religion.  Before we start embrasing multiple, coexisting languages, we need to think about the effects that it *will* have.

I am not against Spanish-speaking people or anything... I am not saying that they are worth more or less to God or our society.  I am just saying that God knew that fragmenting language would provide an adequate barrier so the barrier must truely exist.

Driving in India6/6/2006 10:38:43 AM

I don't even know how this is possible.  No road lines, no traffic signals, no stop signs.  Just go, go, go!!!  Go fast if you can, also.

Notice that at around a minute and thirty seconds there is a car at the top-center of the screen going against traffic for a bit.

Get it while it's hot.6/8/2006 9:08:17 AM

Microsoft Windows Vista Beta 2 is now available for public consumption.  It was released about 3 weeks ago for MSDN subscribers.

I am downloading the 3.12GB file right now, I am at -6% completed (thats right, negative).

I don't have anywhere to install it... nor do I have time.  But it doesn't expire until June 1, 2007 so I want to get it for when I am ready.

It was funny, I signed in to download it and it gives me my CD key.  It says on the page to print it out for future reference, but when I printed it the CD key didn't show up... odd.

YTMND6/8/2006 2:17:33 PM

This is just weird.  Appearently there are a ton of websites modeled after website which has a photo of Sean Connery in Finding Forrester.  Along with the tiled photo is a looping soundtrack that consists soley of him saying "You're the man now, dog!"

While reading the Wikipedia entry for YTMND phenomenon I found this:  What is wrong with some people?  It is funny though.

Here is how I found out about this out:

Slashdot article called "Verified: Record-breaking Pitfall! Run"

While perusing the comments I saw this one by eldavojohn which talks about M.C. Hammer buying a large mansion.

While reading I saw a phrase that I have heard before but never understood, so I clicked on it (the phrase is "Internet meme", what is a meme?)

I still don't know what a meme is, but I noticed a list of People.  One is Sean Connery (of Time Lock fame), and it mentions that someone has a website of him repeating, "You're the man now, dog!", in a loop.

That is pretty strange, so I click the link.  As I am reading I notice that the original site had a list of other sites like it, it is now located at

The YTMND that really gained popularity for YTMND is

Talk about stream of consciousness. . .

SQL DTS Problems with ActiveX6/9/2006 10:47:35 AM

I was creating a VBScript transformation for a date in SQL DTS.  I had to track down a bug, after I finally fixed it I kept getting this error:

"Active X Scripting Transform 'DTSTransformation__X' was not able to initialize the script execution engine."

I tried other scripts, they didn't work either.  I created a new script with the default (very simple) code and it failed.

Well, I did a Google search and came up with a bunch of websites that essentially point to

I followed the instructions to re-register the various DLL files (especially axscphst.dll), rebooted several times, and it didn't work.

I noticed one message board mentioned that completely reinstalling MSSQL Server might help.  I only have the client tools so it isn't a big deal to reinstall.  So I uninstall, reboot, and then reinstall.  Still doesn't work.

I remembered seeing something about reinstalling Internet Explorer... that is no small undertakings since it is pretty much attached to the Operating System.  Microsoft's KB article on the topic suggests running sfc /scannow to repair the installation.  It takes about 10 minutes to run and requires the Windows XP CD.  So, I run that.

While running that, a website said I could run rundll32.exe setupapi,InstallHinfSection DefaultInstall 132 %windir%\Inf\ie.inf to do an in-place reinstall of IE6.  That asks me for my Windows XP CD and Windows XP SP2 CD.  Luckily I have access to both so I do that.  It doesn't help either (and it probably made this worse, but I cannot prove that).

I decided to just create a new package and see if it had the same problem.  It did not.  It worked!  Very odd, appearently the package was corrupt.  I had all the code saved to a notepad file that I keep for all projects so I just recreated the package.  It all worked fine.

Extrodinarily annoying.  Took nearly an hour from the error message to resolution.  I don't even know why it happened... it truely came out of the blue.  One moment I was running the script, I clicked the Execute button a second time and it failed.

Anyway, I am posting this because most people have the issue resolved by running regsvr32 axscphst.dll from their MSSQL installation directory, but that didn't work for me.

So It Begins6/11/2006 3:47:32 PM

Batten the hatches and hunker down, Tropical Storm Alberto makes the first move.

Well, we are getting the first rain for what is suppose to be a very active hurricane season.

I spent the last hour cleaning my 18" chain saw very good... hopefully I won't have to use it.

Too bad I don't have a chainsaw to clean!!!!  All we have to do is get our hurricane kit up to date and maybe get some renters insurance. - Joe @ 6/11/2006 4:11:51 PM

Scratchpad Renamed6/13/2006 7:47:14 AM

I am getting a TON of comment spam on the scratchpad.  I have it set to IM me whenever invalid text is posted, and I get about 10 per day.

So, even though none of the spam is being successfully posted, I have renamed the page to Notepad to throw the bots off (they will have to reindex my site to get the page).

Not that it really matters, but that is what happened to Der Scratchpad.

North American Union?6/16/2006 8:45:00 AM

I am sure you all know about the European Union (the political and economic "super-state").  Although it does not technically have jurisdiction to override a member nation sovereignty, many times its policies are the effect of binding law.  It purpose is primarily to promote free trade throughout the region and provide security to its members.

However, in practice, things are different.  The EU grew out of a desire to be unified after World War II, but its main proponents used it to disparage national unity.  The EU states have no true borders, people can come and go as they please.  The EU attempts (through policy) to make the living standards (read, "civil rights") equal among all states.  Also, most of the member states have transisitioned to the euro.  Sure, there are still distinct nations, like France, Germany, etc., but how far do you think they are from just reorganizing those into Administrative Districts and making the EU the actual nation?

Not far.

What does a political conservative look to the national government to do?  Technically, it is quite simple: standard for currency and interstate trade, protection of the borders, limited state assistance during crisis.  The United States Constitution added on a few more responsiblities, primarily to make sure all the states were on the same page as far as individual rights go (ie, Bill of Rights).

The European Union provides all of those services (and more).

So, how would you like to have this with America?  We could bring Canada, Mexico, and the United States, into supra-national body that governs (but does not have absolute power) trade? It could later be expanded to include border protection, and then currency, civil liberties (how would you like to have Canada's wacko social standards voted through?), and assistance spending to bail Mexico out.

Now, how would you like it if it was already in the works?

I am no conspiracy adherent, but there are some governmental and non-governmental agencies that appear to be working on this.  The first step, of course, is trade:  You can see a map of the road they intend--and will be starting on next year--to build here:

I don't know much about it; I just heard it on the radio and had a friend email me more information.  I will say that is isn't a bunch of liberals saying it (nor would they, anything to lessen American (that is, United States) sovergnity is good).  One of the biggest things is that Congress has not, let's say, openly approved of this.  Nor do they really have to.  If Bush can get the Department of Transportation the money, they can start on projects throughout the country.  Congress would only need to get involved at the end.  This assumes that Congress doesn't know about it yet, which I find absurd.

If I get more information I will post it.  I am just doing my small part to get the word out.

Now, the EU started by combining pre-existing trade and labor organizations, it wouldn't be hard to combine NAFTA, CAFTA, and NATO together.

Can we do anything to stop it?  I am a bit of a pessimist when it comes to the little people doing anything.  All I can say is, "American Union, here we come!"

This is really crazy.  One thing that you may need to clarify is where you talked about Congress having no clue about this.  I am sure if you go through NAFTA and CAFTA which they would have voted on and passed, you should find clauses about inter-national roads, intra-nation ports, and open access to all member nations through a major transportation system.  

Also you need to clarify the progress of the road construction.  Google NAFTA corridor and you will find many results where jurisdictions in Texas and the midwest has already begun.  The northeast leg of the NAFTA corridor is Interstate 69, which construction is in progress.  The southern leg starting in Texas (Interstate 35) is in the planning phase but some construction in some areas have commenced.  Also the major mid-continent trade port (actually a Mexican customs stop) in Kansas city has begun.  All of these things I found within the first 10 results of my "nafta corridor" search.  

It has begun!!! - Joe Schneider @ 6/17/2006 12:02:56 AM

North Korea6/19/2006 1:20:54 PM

So, North Korea is going to test-launch a missle... over Japan.  Japan is worried, the United States is worried.  Pretty much everyone in range is worried.  And what do we do about it?  Threaten sanctions!  How about this: you cancel your launch and we won't bomb you into last century.

What is wrong with people... if the launch is successful, they will feel emboldened.  All they have to do is attach a nuke (which they claim to have) and we have a stand-off.

I see a launch of a missle over another nation as an act of war (they did it in 1998).  Simply threatening it is bad enough to take pre-emptive action.

And, technically, we would not even need to send troops.  We can bomb them from right here.

Not that I *want* to bomb them, but do you seriously want to wait until they are a genuine threat to us and our allies?

Office Automation.  Or, Excel won't close automatically.6/20/2006 10:46:20 AM

When using Microsoft's automation COM objects for Office (to programatically get at Word or Excel) you have to remember that you are dealing with unmanaged code.

The COM object is being wrapped by .NET code which keeps track of reference counts and such.  Until all references are closed and the garbage collector runs (which happens at an indeterminate time in the future) the Office application will not close.  Therefore, just calling

MSExcel = Nothing

Will not cut it.  You have to release the COM object when you are done.  I went to Microsoft's website to get the appropriate code.

Basically, you have to execute


To actually finish the process and close the app (if you don't do this you will have dozens of Excel applications open).

WOW: Level 586/21/2006 6:50:03 AM

Amanda is out of town all week at a Christ in Youth Conference.  I am extreemely bored.  I was looking for something to do on Saturday and I remembered that I own SimCity 3000, so I decided to install that and play it--reverting to where I was before I met Mandy.  However, I could not find the CD.  So, in one of those rare legal downloads (not by me, but in general), I found it a torrent for it and downloaded it.  It didn't finish until Sunday morning.  I got home from church and found that it is... in polish. AHH.  Well, I deleted it and then found a patch that will convert it to English.  Wow.  I re-downloaded it (8 hours).  However, I knew I could not go a whole other day with nothing to do.

So, I reactivated my World of Warcraft account.  I cancelled my account earier because I was bored with it and I didn't want to pay $15/month for something I don't use.

I get to playing and realized that it is still boring.  You see, I am in Western/Eastern Plaguelands, it is nothing but instance quests and grinding.  I don't want to do instance quests because you need a group and I don't feel like wasting time getting one together.  Grinding takes forever, mobs that are my level and lower were just taking forever to kill.  And forget taking on two at a time.  I died constantly.

I started off as a low 57 and made it to 58 by Monday night.  Then I went to the auction house to get some more gear when I finally figured out what was going wrong... I was *way* underpowered.  There was gear there for lvl 56/57 and it was much better than what I had.

Using the large store of gold (18 pieces), I upgraded several pieces of armor.  Now I am having no trouble.  I wish I would have realized that before.

Anyway.  Now comes the extreemely annoying part.  Yesterday they released a new patch.  But I guess it caused realm issues.  After mowing the lawn, making dinner, and installing the 50MB patch, it was about 9:00.  I go to log in and I cannot.  For two hours I wait (and play SimCity), nothing.  Talk about lame... I am probably only going to be playing this game while Amanda is gone and I lose 1/7th of my time right there (sure, it wasn't down all day, but it was as far as I was concerned).

On the SimCity front: I downloaded it and successfully installed the new language files.  I started a very nice city and I have $2,000,000 in the bank (which is good).

i have that game right here... behind me. i just turned my head around and looked at it.

;-) - Nick Zema @ 11/6/2008 12:41:58 PM

Usability6/21/2006 9:04:12 AM

While I am not terribly good at it; designing websites with user's in mind is something I strive to do.

During some research I found this website.  It has some pages on usability by a guy who cares.

One page really caught my attention.  I had seen the "illusion" before, but not in a usability context.

IsNot Operator6/21/2006 12:29:50 PM

I don't know how I missed it.  Perhaps it is new to .NET 2.0 or something.

I always do If Not(thisObject is Nothing) Then ...

Sure, it works.  But I always forget to type Not() and have to press the back arrow (I don't know why, I just forget).

Well, in, there is a better way: If thisObject IsNot Nothing Then ...

This is useful when you want to make sure a form element exists before accessing it (Classic ASP would return null, throws a null exception error).

If Request.Form("myElement") IsNot Nothing Then Response.Write(Request.Form("myElement"))

VSWD Bug Workaround6/23/2006 11:15:25 AM

There has been an annoying "bug" in Visual Studio Web Developer (not in regarding inline code, <% %>.  If you do a combination of inline code with if... then statements it occurs.  It doesn't cause problems at runtime, but boy it sure is annoying to see dozens of them in the Error List.

So, every few months I look through the forums to see if a solution has been posted... and finally it has.

Here is an example of the problem:

<% If (True) Then %>
      <%=1 %>
<% End If %>
<%=2 %>

From the post, "In order to provide intellisense in <%= %> blocks at design time, ASP.NET generates assignment to a temporary __o variable and language (VB or C#) then provide the intellisense for the variable. That is done when page compiler sees the first <%= ... %> block.  But here, the block is inside the if, so after the if closes, the variable goes out of scope.  We end up generating something like this:
If (True) Then
      dim @__o as Object
      @__o = 1
End If
@__o = 2

So obivously the @__o cannot be used after the block closes, but it is, so it throws an error.

He says that the workaround is to put <%=""%> at the top... and it works beautifully.

Wow. I have no clue what any of that means. I bow to your wisdom.
Well, I found your site and it's pretty cool.
Talk to you later. - Zack @ 6/26/2006 8:58:48 AM

iloveegg.com6/27/2006 11:59:57 AM

My wife starts singing "Come into my tummy, oh so very yummy."

And to make a short story even shorter, check out this video:

At CIY they started off every morning by playing that "intro" video and then playing one of the episodes from (that is the English version).

The eggs can turn into anything they want, the episodes get better as you get further along.

It is weird, but very funny.  And the song gets stuck in your head.  Ask Joe, he knows.

The website is down right now.  But the intro is the funniest part. - Chet @ 6/27/2006 11:06:08 AM

Automobile Shredder6/30/2006 12:12:01 PM

Just in case you ever need to shread a van, you will know where to turn.

Slashbuster makes a whole tree shredder.  They decided to test out the teeth of the grinder by using it on a Dodge Caravan.

You can see the results.

I have got to get me one of those. - Zack @ 7/17/2006 10:22:28 AM

Too bad for them6/30/2006 12:19:12 PM

I was going to post a video called "The Easter Bunny Hates You."  It is hilarious... until the very last frame where they decide to use an expletive.

Enterprise Rent-a-Car7/17/2006 12:22:50 PM

My wife's vehicle is in the shop because we were rear-ended a few weeks ago (don't get me started on why it is still in the shop).  Some kids in our church youth group went to a mission trip in South Carolina and the person that said we could use his/her van backed out at the last moment.

Amanda is one of the sponsors; therefore, we had to rent a car to get up there.  The insurance will pay back the standard rental rate up until the time that our SUV is released, we have to pay the rest (any additional days as well as the $10/day addition for out-of-state driving).

We get a very small car to save money (a Ford Focus) on Saturday at 12:00, right as Enterprise is closing.  My wife gets in and we drive to Wal-mart.  When we get there she gets out and tells me the car absolutely stinks of cigarette smoke!

Aside: I do not have the sense of smell (I make up for it with a keen sense of humor), so I have to take her word for it.

Well, I call Enterprise and they have already gone for the day... and they are closed Sunday.  Amanda needed to leave by at 5:00AM the next morning, so that pretty much removes our ability to get a different car.

It is a ten hour drive up to SC.  Can you imagine being stuck in a car that reeks of smoke for 10 hours?  Hard to breath, burning the back of your throat.  Its way to hot to roll the window down.

Anyway, I call Enterprise today to complain.  I am not looking for a discount or for a replacement car (Amanda already told me that she does not want to deal with it up there), but I would expect them to offer both.  All they tell me is sorry (very sorry).  I am thinking you have got to be kidding me.  I would think they would insist on calling an Enterprise Rent-a-car up there and having a replacement brought straight to her... that would have been the right thing to do.

No, nothing, all I get is a sorry and maybe we can work something out when she gets back.

How in the world can a customer service rep rent out a car in that condition?!  It is absolutely outrageous (which is why I am outraged).  I am thinking about calling their national offices... they would probably just tell me to call the local branch though.

And its not like this is a day or two rental... this for nine days!  We are paying beaucoup bucks for this.

WOW: Level 60!!!!!117/17/2006 12:32:18 PM

So, I finally made to to level 60.  The final level in World of Warcraft.  It was a beautiful thing.

Level 60 may be the highest level, but it is far from the end of the game... most things don't even start until you hit that level.  Special armor is available now.  Also, since you are not worrying about leveling you can work on increasing your reputation with different factions.  Battlegrounds are great and you can work on your PvP rank (I am on a PvP server, so you really need to do battlegrounds to get PvP rank).  I am a corporal now.

Also, my fishing level is way down, I need to work on that... it is a lot like retirement.  I spent so much time just existing that i didn't have time to do other stuff.  Now I can concentrate on "hobbies" like blacksmithing, fishing, speculative investing in the Auction House (buy stuff that is cheap (so it sells quick) and put it back on for a reasonable price). I recently learned that fish are hot items in the AH and a great way to make money.

I also made it to level 300 in mining which is the maximum amount.  I don't think there is any need for increasing after 275, but it is nice to have it maxed out.

I can also get all my weapon classes up to the maximum so I can use any available weapon (maces are way down).

Oh, yeah, and the best part (I think) is I can get my "epic mount" which is an extreemely fast horse.  It is going to cost me hundreds of gold, but it looks worth it.

Anyway, I will be spending a lot of time in the Battlegrounds this week since Amanda is gone.

Do you help players with what they need help with like how some poeple charge like 9 gold to run you throught DM(deadmines).
If  you do smithing or fishing or whatever , do you offer the fish or make some poeple some stuff.
Becuase if so i would like some help on my stuff.
my WoW name is gervimel my 10 rouge and my level 15 warrior is gervemel.
Oh and congrats reaching 60 - gervimel @ 8/19/2006 2:24:11 AM
With my last thing that i said if you do help poeple now that you reached 60 could you help me?
- gervimel @ 8/19/2006 2:26:35 AM
I usually am not on it long enough to help people.  Also, I am trying to finish off the last of my Blackrock Depths quests.

If I get bored and I am in the area I help people, but not for gold.

So, if I get bored and I have lots of time (and you are on the Killrog realm) then I will look you up. - Chet @ 8/21/2006 9:21:05 AM

WOW: Quests7/17/2006 12:36:54 PM

Another thing about being level 60 is many of the large raid groups only accept level 60 players.

Now, about quests.

Yesterday I played two instances.  The first one is Attunement to the Core (yes, I still haven't finished it).  I have attempted this quest five times, every single time we get to the "bar" and someone does something stupid and we all die... every. single. time.  It is ridicilious (sp!)

Also, I decided to try my hande in Scholomance.  It was nice, I was with a very competent group.  We had two priests to heal, a warrior, and two pallies (me being one of them).  The priests kept everyone alive with me doing backup if they run out of mana.  We got through about half way and someone gets disconnected (Comcast internet was being stupid for them).  So, we hang around hoping he would come back, but he didn't (someone in our group knew him personally and called him, his internet wasn't coming back on).

So that was pretty dumb, because next time we will have to do all that over again... and that took about an hour (not to mention the time it takes to get a group together and get everyone to the instance entrance).

I joined a new guild... I cannot remember the name though.  They said they might do that instance, so hopefully they will when I log in tonight.

Car Rental Followup7/26/2006 10:13:06 AM

I never did call corporate.  I just didn't have it in me.

When we went to return the car I complained again.  They decided to refund me two days.  That is acceptable.

It is still unacceptable that they rented it out.  They said they cannot keep people from smoking in them, but they sure can charge a hefty fine for doing so.  And then they can flag the car and warn people.  Perhaps they will never be able to rent the car again... that is between them and the offending smoker.

Anyway, it was resolved to my satisfaction.  This is just a warning to smell the car before you pull out.

We still don't have our car back from the shop... the insurance company of the guy that hit me will not accept liability until 1) they can get ahold of the guy; 2) they receive the "long" form of the police report.  It has been over three weeks now and is quite ridiculous.

I am going to call FHP to see if they can fax it to me... they probably won't though... probably going to make me come in and get it.

Welcome to August8/1/2006 7:31:36 AM

It is here... are you?

Shoot, the evil month of August. Bringer of school, major hurricanes, and limited free time.   - Zack @ 8/3/2006 7:10:07 PMlol - Chet @ 8/7/2006 1:49:22 PM

AIDS and Abortion8/14/2006 5:41:50 PM

I heard a commercial for which claims that AIDS claims the lives of 1600 children every day.  That translates to (365 * 1600) a little more than half million a year.

While I am concerned about the AIDS epidemic, its not like we don't know exactly how to stop it.  It is amazing how the website pretty much glosses over sex (and they have counseling for "safer sex").  How about this... you have a disease which is spread through sex, stop it.  There are diseases that spread through touch, and those people abstain from touching.  We have diseases that are spread through the air, and those people contain themselves (usually).  Why cannot people who spread a desease through sex contain themselves?!

Now that I have solved the AIDS problem, here is a number that I am more concerned about: over 1,000,000.

That is the estimate for the number of abortions per year (taken from the Guttmacher Institute which is used by both pro-choice and pro-abortion groups).  It has been as high as 1.5 million (in 1990) and as low as 900,000 (the first year it was legalized, 1974).  Either way, it has not been below 1 million in many, many years.  We have killed off at least 47 million people since abortion was legalized.  24% of all pregnancies end in abortion.

I will state with absolute certainty that we have already killed off the next Einstein, the next Hemingway, and the next Beethoven.  We have probably already killed off the next Hitler and Stalin, but I will take the bad with the good.  Actually, since black women are four times more likely to have an abortion, we probably killed the next George Washington Carver.

But there is good news.  It looks like the rate is dropping... not by much though, 0.8% in 2002.  There is also an increasing number of people who think abortion should only be allowed in cases of rape and incest (I still cannot figure out why a "wanted" baby has more of a right to live than an "unwanted" baby).  They don't even report how many people think it should be wrong in all cases (like I do), it must be a very small number.

Podcast?8/21/2006 7:22:39 AM

I have been thinking about doing a podcast.  I have over 2 hours of dead time while I am in the car... With the windows rolled up I could record some stuff.

But I am not even going to bother unless people are interested.  So, leave a comment here if you think it is a good idea.

I not sure if it's a "good" idea, but I might just check it out every once in a while. Happy Belated Birthday by the way. - Zack @ 8/21/2006 11:21:45 PMThanks - Chet @ 8/22/2006 8:49:36 AMI think it's a good idea! - Anonymous @ 8/26/2006 4:09:42 PM

Eight Planets8/24/2006 7:00:16 AM

Well, forget what you learned in elementry school.  The latest list of planets is as follows (in no particular order):

So long Pluto, it was nice while it lasted.

I am at least happy they didn't add planets... nine was a nice round number.  I didn't know that Pluto is actually smaller than our moon.  Perhaps this is for the best.

Impending Doom8/29/2006 7:54:57 AM

Ernesto is coming.  I want to know what This Administration is going to do about it.  I haven't seen anything; I haven't even heard if he (because The Administration consists solely of the president, you know) is going to visit the destruction.

I hope he learned from his mistakes during Katrina.  He should already be in the air so that he can land as soon as the eye passes over the airport... it is a pretty small window, but he can probably maneuver the plane safely.

Also, I think he should start mailing out those $2000 debit cards.  Just go ahead and send them now so they are here by the time the stores open back up.  I could really use a new TV.  I bet his tounge will be swollen from licking all those envelopes.  I guess he could have his minions (read: cronies) do it, but I think he needs to take a leading role and personally seal most of them.

In fact, he should get his scientists to divert the tropical event away from us (they aimed it right at New Orleans (because Bush hates them), I am sure they can move it away from us).  In addition, he should hurry up and sign the Kyoto Protocol (which Clinton failed to sign as well).

While I am on it, I want free medicine and health coverage.  That is all I ask!

I would like to add one more thing that Bush should give every American.  Free gas, isn't it our right?  Who do the gas people think they are trying to make a profit? - Anonymous @ 9/1/2006 12:01:55 PMYou are right... Those jerks! - Chet @ 9/1/2006 12:02:49 PM

Bring it, Ernesto8/29/2006 1:30:06 PM

It is funny... each hurricane in the Trifecta of 2004 went almost directly over us (actually, a little to the west or south).  Well, Ernesto is the same.  I guess Lake Tohopeklega is a magnet or something.  Have a look at this picture.  My house is on the west edge of the yellow band.

I think I just coined "Trifecta of 2004"... nevermind, a few others said it.  Oh well.

IE78/29/2006 5:44:40 PM

I figured the time has come.  I installed IE7 Release Candidate 1.  Release Candidates are very different from Beta version even though they both are pre-release versions.  RC's are "feature complete", all that is left are bug fixes.

Anyway, the single reason that I stopped using Beta 3 minutes after I started using it is that using the built-in (and unremovable) search bar would always open in the current tab.  That is absolutely annoying, especially since I have Google Toolbar open a new window (rather than overwrite my current page).

So, I installed this latest version and noticed that it has the same problem.  There is no preference to control this.  I was disappointed.

However, I continue using it because I have got to make sure all my sites will render properly after it is forced upon the masses.  Lately I have been building all sites to be completely Firefox compatible; so I am happily suprised to see that there are no rendering issues at all.

This search box issue is a deal breaker for me.  However, I just found a work around.  Alt+Enter will open it in a new tab.  Problem solved!  I just wish they had included a default action when the user presses Enter.

Sorry that this post is so disjointed.  I am not in a communicative mood, my brain is fried from working on the Polk County PA website.

Comment CAPTCHA9/8/2006 7:20:43 AM

I woke up this morning to about 30 spam comments on my website.  This is terrible.  So, I have copied the CAPTCHA system I am using to protect my Contact form and Notepad (which great success by the way).

So now, if you want to post a comment (for some reason).  Make sure you type "red" in for the CAPTCHA.  For small websites like mine you can use a static word like that.  Nobody is going to go through the work to make a bot hit mine automatically.

But, if they do, I will move to more colorful systems.  I have a few ideas.

Sorry to hear about the craziness. At least your site is popular enough that it draws the hatred of blog spammers.  You should log the ip of anyone who posts and any other identifiable information that could help you track down the offenders.  Then you could hire a hacker to teach them a lesson. - Joe Schneider @ 9/9/2006 10:01:48 PMHaha, I should.  I did set it up to log the IP address now. - Chet @ 9/10/2006 2:47:54 PM

Farse9/8/2006 5:17:10 PM

As you may remember, back in 2003, it was leaked that Valerie Plame was a CIA operative.  Liberals assumed that the White House had illegally leaked this information in order to get back at her husband.  Patrick Fitzgerald was assigned the case to determine who leaked that information to Robert Novak.

Well on July 11, 2006, three years after it happened, we come to find out something very interesting.  Robert Novak said, "For nearly the entire time of his investigation, Fitzgerald knew--independent of me--the identity of the sources I used in my column of July 14, 2003. A federal investigation was triggered when I reported that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, was employed by the CIA and helped initiate his 2002 mission to Niger. That Fitzgerald did not indict any of these sources may indicate his conclusion that none of them violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act."

The source/leaker that he speaks of is Richard Armitage.  However, even though he knew who leaked this information, Fitzgerald told Mr Armitage to keep quiet about it while he continued to investigation.  This, my friends, is the farse.  Fitzgerald did not press charges against Armitage, appearently because no law was broken... but he kept pretending to look for the leaker.  From what I remember, Scooter Libby's spoken testimony did not match up with something he had written.  They nailed him on that.  So here we are with a case where no law was broken, and someone who wasn't involved in the matter at all was indicted for obstruction of justice.  How can he be obstructing something that he had nothing to do with.

This case should have been dropped days after it began... as soon as the leaker was determined.  Armitage says he didn't come forward because "the special counsel, once he was appointed, asked me not to discuss this and I honored his request." Source

After news reports began to name Mr Armitage as the source, a lawyer working for Ms Plame and Mr Wilson said they still planned to go ahead with a lawsuit against close associates of President George W Bush.

The couple filed a suit in July against Vice-President Dick Cheney; his former chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby; and Karl Rove, George W Bush's top political adviser, accusing them of intentionally revealing Ms Plame's identity to discredit Mr Wilson.  This doesn't make any sense.  Why aren't they going after the leaker?

I'll tell you why: this entire thing was drawn out specifically destroy a sitting president during a time of war.  This is an successful political hit.  It seems that no crime was committed in the leak (otherwise charges would have been pressed).  The only purpose is to distract the nation and make it look like Bush and his cronies are picking on his opponents in the most dirty of fashion.  It is clear to me that it is the Socialist party that is doing the dirty picking.

Radical Christianity9/15/2006 6:08:06 PM

"Radical Christianity is just as threatening"
- Rosie O'Donnell - [source]

Christian Terrorism is terrorism that the perpetrator claims is performed in furtherance of Christian goals or teachings.  Not to be confused with terrorists who happen to be Christians (if it is even possible to be a Christian and a terrorist).

The most common example of Christian terrorists are abortion clinic bombers and gay clubs.  It is interesting to note that none of the terrorists thus far have been a part of a Christian church at the time of the attack.  They usually say that they were members when they were younger but haven't attended in years.

Timothy McVeigh is always held up as The Christian Terrorist, the type of person that exemplifies the type of person who would commit such acts of domestic terrorism.  Unfortunately for people who say this, he didn't attack the federal building to further Christian goals or teaching.  He was plain old anti-American.  He happened to be a Christian years before the attack.

Eric Rudolph would be closer to a Christian terrorist than McVeigh, he actually attacked places because of his beliefs.  However, he was not a part of any Christian organization and "prefers Nietzsche to the Bible." [source]

For some reason Rosie thinks that us bombing people in other countries is an example of Christian terrorism.  Not sure how that is, just because we happen to have a huge Christian population? What a moron.

Rosie on New Orleans9/15/2006 6:09:42 PM

I was only using this website so I could actually hear what Rosie was saying.  But I started reading and realized she isn't the only moron.

Later in her tirad she said that if 1/3 of the money we used on the war ($300 billion) was used in New Orleans then America would be a better place.  Whitlock responded that we have designated $110 billion (not that necissarily thing that American tax payers should be bailing this city out), which is over 1/3.

The person who wrote the news column said the following in response to Whitlock:

A.) I'd like to see Whitlock's face as he survives 13 months without a house on "designated" funds B.) The relief has been so mismanaged that even the money going there isn't being put to good use (due to failed core administration belief in the "free market") and C.) The point is: this government is such a failure, it can't even keep its own citizens safe and warm.

I will start with the last point, since when is it the government's job to keep its citizens safe and warm?  Safe, yes, comfortable, no.  And even though it isn't its job, it does it anyway.  Many of the displaced in Houston are still pulling welfare checks, we are keeping people safe and warm.  The author acts as if people are sleeping inside their dilapidated houses.  I doubt it, they would have been condemned making it illegal to even enter them.

Point B is not unique to the Bush administration.  This is simply an issue of bureaucracy. (However, he says that it is due to the failed belief in "free market", so what is the answer for this author?  He complains that the government failed to do it right, and free market failed, so give it back to the government again?  Sounds like we need more accountabilily/oversite, not more bureaucracy).

Point A, again, it is not the government's job to provide a house if you have a catashrophe.  If my house gets flooded will the government get me a new house?  No, I will pay to stay in a hotel, insurance will probably pick up the tab.  Why is it any different just because 50,000 houses were flooded (sure, there is an economic and crime issue, but we are talking about principle).

Amazing Laser Keyboard9/27/2006 7:34:15 AM

This device projects a keyboard on the desk using lasers.  Then you can "press" but buttons.  It even makes a clicking sound.  Truely amazing.

Beating the Average9/29/2006 6:21:40 PM

This week my site will only receive around 800 hits.  It is way down from when I had 1,400 hits in the last week of August, but it is still above the average of 700.  Actually, the site has beaten the average every week for the last 33 weeks (that was the week of February 5th when I only got 501 hits).

This week will be the lowest week this month.

I don't count hits to the rss.asp or googlees.asp pages, nor do I count hits from me.

I don't know who is coming to my site since nobody leaves comments.  Also, it is odd, but if I look at the hourly dispersion of hits, they are all pretty much equal.  That is very strange, the dead of night should have very few hits.  With my luck it is nothing but bots hitting my site.  I will look at the log files and filter out any entries from bots.

I would love to get an average of 1000 hits/week.  I bet that if I posted more it would happen.

Internet Explorer 7 Available10/19/2006 8:10:08 AM

It's here, you can get it at  You can be lazy though, it will be deployed via Automatic Updates on November 1st.

I have been using IE7 for a little over a month now.  It has taken some getting used to, but it is actually quite nice.  I used to have Google Toolbar, and I got used to simply pressing enter to open a new window (turning off that setting caused it to open in the same window).  IE7 has a multi-provider search tool built in, and Google is one of them... however there isn't a setting to make it open in a new window/tab.  That drove me nuts, until I found out that you can press Alt+Enter to accomplish the same thing.  Nice save.

Anyway, get IE7.  Also, Firefox has the DOM Inspector plug-in.  IE7 has a "Dev Tool Bar" which includes a DOM Inspector (and a bunch of other tools which are very helpful).  You can get it here.

So, I am running RC1, I am off to install the complete version now.

Evangelicals Uniting to Stop Genocide in Darfur10/25/2006 10:47:48 AM

"And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'" - Matthew 25:40

Evangelical Christians are uniting in an urgent effort to bring an immediate end to the genocide in Darfur.

In recent weeks, evangelical leaders have discovered profound unity on this crisis. Believing that God was calling them to act, a number of those leaders began talking about how evangelical Christians could respond together to this call.
Those conversations led to the creation of Evangelicals for Darfur, a campaign that brings together media, web, and grassroots advocacy to call for an end to the senseless suffering in Darfur.

A broad and diverse group of evangelical leaders were eager to participate in this project. The leaders signed onto ads that are currently running in the nation's major newspapers calling on our nation's political leaders to boldly lead the effort to stop the suffering. As evangelical Christians, we now have the chance to add our voices to this important message.

I hope you'll visit and decide to join in this urgent effort. I am deeply encouraged by the broad spectrum of Christians who are speaking out together on this issue. For in matters of life and death, there is no left or right, there is only right and wrong. Together we can help make a life-saving difference for our brothers and sisters in Darfur.

Click here to learn more and to add your voice to this campaign:

I received this in a email from Joe.

I will visit your site, thanks for the information! I will also pass the site along onto my friends! - dirt fill florida @ 3/1/2012 11:00:42 AM

Human life discussion1/8/2007 8:00:00 PM

I got into a small argument with someone on Slashdot today.

He took issue with someone saying that it is a scientific fact that an embryo is a living human organism.

I pointed out why I didn't think so, and he said he took issue with the use of the words "scientific fact". Not sure why. If evolutionists can say that evolution is a scientific fact without being able to use the scientific method to prove it (since most events took place long ago), then something that can be experiementally proven should rise to at least that same level.

Anyway, the thread is here.

New Hosting Provider1/10/2007 6:01:06 PM

My web hosting provider suddenly went offline and I was not able to retrieve my files.  I have lost everything since I went to the new host (back in November).  So much for my Greek parser or my last 5 (or so) blog entries.

I also made some tweaks to the coloring, that is gone.

I also think I lost the "post-date" feature.

Failure Installing WinFX Runtime Components 3.0 Beta 21/17/2007 9:18:43 AM

I wanted to install the latest runtime so that I would be up with the times.  I installed .NET version 3.0 just fine, but when I went to install the WinFX runtime it would fail.

It would start downloading files, and immediately throw an error: "Setup could not download the necessary files."  It would also crash (throw an Watson error message).

I dug into the setup log file (Temp\dd_winfxinstall30.txt) and noticed towards the end that there were a bunch of "***ERRORLOG EVENT***" entries.  I followed them up until they stopped.

There was the problem.  It was trying to install the MSXML6.0 parser and failing because the file it was downloading was not signed by Microsoft (for some reason).  The installer deleted the newly downloaded file and crashed.

So, I figured that if the installer wouldn't handle it for me, I would do it myself.  The link it was using for the parser is  Just download that file and run it yourself.

After I did that, I was able to run the WinFX Runtime installer just fine.

There is also a dd_winfxerror30.txt file which says that it failed because the MSXML 6.0 Parser wasn't installed... but it didn't make sense when I first looked at it.  It didn't make sense until I saw that log saying that it couldn't install it.

WinFX Install Still Failed1/17/2007 6:00:24 PM

I spoke too soon when I implied that WinFX installed just fine (actually, I said the installer ran just fine, which was true).

Even after manually installing MSXML6.0, it still failed later in the process.  During the background installation of Windows Communications Foundation Beta 2.  I never did figure out what was going on.  I did a lot of research, and tried installing it manually (which worked) but I still couldn't get WinFX installed.

So, good luck to everyone else... I won't be joining you.

Bill to Treat Bloggers as Lobbyists Defeated...1/19/2007 5:01:01 AM

By the Republicans, who, I thought, hate free speech.

More information can be found on Slashdot.

Google Ads1/19/2007 10:05:41 PM

I have added some Google ads just because.

Click on one if you are so inclined, they are in the menu and at the bottom of the page.

Greek Parser Back Online1/29/2007 7:01:00 PM

When my website went down after Christmas, I lost the Greek parser that I had written only a few days before.  Well, I have re-written it, and it is better.  Not only does the new one use a (slightly) better algorithm, it also supports accents on the vowels.

It still supports the terminal sigma, just as before.  And upper and lower case letters.


Isn't that cool.  I had to remap a few letters.  J is Θ (theta), Q is Ξ (Xi).  F is Φ (Phi), both C and X are Χ (Chi).

I originally wrote it so I could talk about how Xmas isn't taking Christ out... it is right there... in the front.  Don't you see it? Χρίτος is the word for Christ, and the first letter is the greek letter Χ.

Anyway, it is nice having it back.  Although I don't know Hebrew too well, I think I am going to go ahead and add a rudimentary Hebrew parser.  It will be a few weeks until I have it finished though.

Good to see that you fixed it. - Joe @ 1/29/2007 7:34:52 PM

U2-charist -- U2 Brings Rock to Religion1/30/2007 8:26:18 PM

Arron Chambers wrote on his blog that the Church of England will be using songs from U2 in an effort to boost congregations.  I cannot tell if Arron thinks it is a good thing, he is simply reporting it.

Also, I cannot tell if it is for the church service, or just for the Millennium Development Goals event (UN group seeking to cut world poverty in half).  Either way, the Bishop of Grantham said, "It is also very important that we continue to try and find ways of worshipping that are suprising, challenging, and fun."

Really, is that very important?  Who is the focus of worship?  Me?  It must be if it is important that worship be fun and suprising.  I am not saying that it cannot be fun to worship, it should be, but not because of what you are doing but rather because of who you are doing it for.  (Sorry for ending that sentence with a preposition).

Does it need to be suprising?  Who are you trying to suprise.  I'll give you a hint, whoever you are trying to suprise is the focus of what you are doing...  If I throw a suprise party for my wife, she is the focus.

God isn't suprised.

Anyway, Bono has stated clearly that the point for music (for him) is to glorify creation, not the Creator.

"We really [censored] that up, though. We really [censored] up our corner of the Christian market. I think carrying moral baggage is very dangerous for an artist. If you have a duty, it's to be true and not cover up the cracks. I love hymns and gospel music, but the idea of turning your music into a tool for evangelism is missing the point... Music is the language of the spirit anyway. Its first function is praise to creation." (Interview with Anthony Curtis first in Beliefnet 02/2001).  I agree that music isn't a tool of evangelism.  At least, I never see it used that way in the Bible.  However, I never see it used to praise creation, it always points back to the Creator.

Jesus' Return and Birth Pains2/1/2007 7:00:13 AM

What do birth pains have to do with Jesus's return?  Nothing really.

Every day I hear Brian Wright give a devotional on the radio.  It changes weekly.

I usually find his comments insightful, but this week's is about the return of Christ.  You can listen to it here.

He says, "Jesus told his disciples that the sign of his coming would be like birth pains."

He said that Jesus gave three signs:
      Many claiming to be the Messiah
      Wars and rumors of wars
      Increase of natural disasters

These are taken from Matthew 24.  I don't know why so many people get this verse wrong.  Reading the entire chapter and understanding the context (which is given to us) make it absolutely clear that he is not referring to his return.

Jesus says, "Do you see these things [referring to the temple]?  I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another..."

Later, the disciples ask him, "When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?"

Then Jesus tells them about the previous three signs and how some of them will die and others will need to flee Judea quickly.

Obviously he is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem, which happened... in AD70.  And it was just as he said, the temple was completely destroyed by the Romans.

Then he goes on to say that noone knows when he will return.

That is a far cry from Brian Wright's teaching, those signs are not about the return of Christ, they are about the destruction of Jerusalem.  The context makes it clear.  I have to wonder if he has even read the entire chapter.

Either way, this is a common misunderstanding.  I guess people just have a preoccupation with the end times and will take anything out of context in order to guess when it will happen.

Brian was right that we need to be always on guard... Jesus said that in this chapter.  So, don't look for wars or natural disasters, look at the next second.  "For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man."

Good observations.  People far too often destroy chapter 24 by cutting it into pieces and assigning some verses to the destruction of the temple and some to Jesus return.  Most of the chapter (at least up to verse 35) talks about the destruction of Jerusalem.  Admittedly the hookup verse is 30 which says, "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory." (NASB)  This appears to be a phrase suggestive of Jesus' return.  However, you must look at the phrase in verse 34 which says, "this generation will not pass away until all these things take place."  Some stretch "this generation" to be the Church age, or the age of Satan's reign over the earth, but that is stretching very far.  Really you have only two options, the physical generation that was listening to Jesus, or the end of the age where the physical nation of Israel is God's chosen race.  I suspect the latter since the destruction of Jerusalem would in essence would destroy the nation's ability to offer sacrifices that would make them appealing to God (I know that I have stretched that a little to far theologically, but it is to prove my point).  Jesus' death put the end to the sacrificial system rendering the temple (consider the fact that the veil to the holy of holies was torn at his death) and Jerusalem as the religious center for his people.

Another point to consider is how the reference to Jesus (messiah) coming on the clouds with great power is used throughout scripture.  The first and best example that I would consider happens during Jesus' trial when he is questioned by the high priest if he was the Christ, the son of God.  He responded in verse, "You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."  Jesus was from then on (his death and impending resurrection) coming on the clouds of heaven.  I guess one would have to say Jesus would be perpetually coming back (sarcasm). - Joe @ 2/1/2007 10:53:41 AM

Minimum Wage Increase2/1/2007 8:08:41 PM

The current minimum wage is $5.15.  They want to increase it to $7.25.  That is a 40% increase.

I wish I could vote myself a 40% increase in pay, which is to say, I wish I could vote myself into being 40% more valuable to my employer.

Also, while only 2% of all labors actually make minimum wage, when it is increased, it is going to scoop up everyone who makes up to 7.25.

How is this fair?  I don't know.  Consider this scenario:
Employee A starts working at Acme Hair Products 4 years ago at minimum wage, he is making 5.15.
He gets a promotion and a 10% raise every year, that is $.51, thus:
      Year 1: $5.66
      Year 2: $6.17
      Year 3: $6.68
      Year 4: $7.19
At the same moment that he reaches $7.19, two things happen.  1) Minimum wage goes up, 2) Employee B starts working at the same job that Employee A started at originally.

They both make $7.25, minimum wage.

Automatically, Employee A, with all his experience, is worth exactly the same as Employee B.

As employer, what do you do?  Do you give Employee A a 40% increase so that his "value" to the company increases at the same rate at which it was decreased (it was automatically cut by 40%).

If so, he now makes $10.15.

Or, do you "reset" his base to 7.25 and give him four $.51 raises?  That would give him only $9.29.

Now, 10.15 is only $.86 off from 9.29.  But what about all the other employees in the company... they should also have their relative "value" increased at the same rate.

Take an employee who makes $50,000/year.  That is $24.04/hour.  Increase that by 40% and you get $33.65/hour which is $70,000/year, $20,000 increase.

That is a pretty penny for the employer just because the government isn't happy with highschool students and unskilled labors making so little that they cannot buy iPods.

Maybe I am just too critical because I have never made minimum wage, nor do I know anyone who has.  Even Winn-Dixie (where I have worked) started their 15 year old baggers off at $.10 over minimum wage.  And all they did was goof around out in the parking lot.

My first job, doing Internet technical support, paid $7.15.  If this had happened while I worked there, I would have gotten moved up to $7.25, and I would have been paid the same as a bagger (not that there is anything wrong with bagging, I am just saying).

I have to throw in some Γρεεκ because it is φυν and I haven't had a chance to yet.

Superbowl Flush2/1/2007 8:16:49 PM

I have never thought about it.  I heard it on the radio today.

During half-time, millions of people are flushing the toilet at the exact same time.  Can you imagine the strain that must put on the sewers and water mains?

Local governments around the country are making sure their systems are ready for Sunday.

According to my research on Google, this is considered a myth... but I don't see how.  It makes sense to me.  Lot of people out there drinking soda and eating chicken wings.  Lot of people out there who don't want to get up until half-time.  That means a whole lot of water going into the system at the same time.

Groundhog Day2/2/2007

Hooray!  It is Groundhog Day.

Not that it matters for people in Florida; it never gets too cold for long.

Anyway, if they see their shadow it is a clear day, which means winter is still hither.

If they don't see their shadow, then it means that it is cloudy, which signals moderate weather and the end of winter.

It isn't scientific, but that is how it works.

Groundhogs are suprisingly large.

Mailbox3/13/2007 7:00:45 AM

So, I finally replaced my old mailbox.  It was an eye sore.  Nathaniel (son of previous owner) told me on Sunday that he had hit it with the car several times.  I guess that explains why it was leaning at a 70° angle.

Mandy has wanted to replace it since me moved in, and we finally had the money, so we bought a new one.  It took me 20 minutes to dive the 3-foot stake into the ground, then, when we went to install the post, we realized that it was facing the wrong way.  Therefore, I had to dig it up and do it all over again.

It is installed now and is standing perfectly straight.  Probably one of the straightest mailboxes on our street (except for the brick one).  However, it is rotated on the Y-axis about 5 degrees.

Also, the door on the new mailbox stays shut, which is nice.  Our old one would open sometimes, and then rain would get in.  Moreover, since it was angled away from the street, the water would pool in it.

Bush sings U2 Song3/13/2007 8:56:38 AM

I heard a few seconds of it on the radio today, and found this funny video of President George W. Bush singing Sunday, Bloody Sunday (the U2 song about Bloody Sunday)

That is a great clip!  The only thing that bothers me artistically is that there is an awful lot of black frames (glitches) that makes it very distracting.  I am curious though, do the words that dubya "sings" match the original lyrics to the song? - Joe @ 3/14/2007 12:15:45 PMYes, they match, I included a link to the lyrics here. - Chet @ 3/16/2007 2:06:31 PM

Polk County Website Live3/16/2007 2:01:31 PM

Well the Polk County Property Appraiser website is finally up.  I didn't do the design work, I built the "Property Search" and "Map Search" sections.

Take a look, let me know if you have any problems (especially those of you with exotic browsers).  The main site is an 2.0 application, and the GIS site (map search) is a Javascript/AJAX application running against and ArcIMS.

They host it on a 64-bit machine, which is nice.  Now that this is off my plate I can move on to the other five projects I have going.

iClip Website Review3/23/2007 7:13:20 AM

Go to this website in IE6+:

The people who run this site are absolute morons. I cannot access it in IE7, rather they insult me.

I hope they don't intend to sell any of their software. I wouldn't buy it simply because they treat me like a idiot.  They could be gracious like most of their kind and say, "You are using Internet Explorer, and are therefore stupid.  You are too stupid to know that there is a better browser at  However, if you want to wallow in your stupidity, click here to see the site anyway."  But no, they just leave you out.

I bet this site is run by a bunch of leftists (and I am serious). They are all for "openness" and "equal access" but don't you dare go there unless you pander to their counter-culture viewpoint (ie, you must use a browser other than IE, because IE is made by Micro$oft and is therefore evil... forget that they could make the website render properly in IE7 with little work, I know this from experience (

Free Copy of iClip43/26/2007 12:58:24 PM

My previous review of iClip4's website has enabled me to aquire a free copy of the iClip4 software product.

However, I don't have a Mac.

Unfortunately, I was not selected to be a winner overrall, which is very suprising, especially since my review was largely (wholly?) negative.

Error: An established connection was aborted by the software in your host machine.3/30/2007 12:30:03 PM

If you receive this error using the System.Net.Mail.SmtpClient class, it is almost always a firewall issue.

It is easy to check if Windows Firewall is blocking it, just turn it off and try it.  However, there is often an overlooked issue.  Modern virus scanners will block network traffic.  So, if you get this, please make sure that your server's virus scanner isn't blocking outgoing traffic on port 25.

Thanks for this.  The antivirus was indeed blocking port 25 for me.  Your post was very helpful. - Brian Milliron @ 9/5/2007 10:33:43 AM

Crucifixion Timeline #14/5/2007 6:00:00 PM

Around 1,980 years ago the Last Supper started about now. 6:00pm

He will go to the Garden of Gethsemane sometime in the next few hours.

Crucifixion Timeline #24/6/2007

Jesus was arrested during the night, he went through three illegal trials before the break of dawn.

Annas (former high priest, father-in-law of current one).
Caiaphas (current high priest) and the Sanhedrin
(Aside: Peter denies him around now.)

They tear their garments and want to kill him, but cannot due to Roman law.

Crucifixion Timeline #34/6/2007 6:00:00 AM

Jesus stands trial before Pilate, he finds nothing wrong with him.  He sends him to Herod upon hearing that he is Galilean.

Crucifixion Timeline #44/6/2007 7:00:00 AM

Jesus returned to Pilate, he is beaten, then he is sentenced to death. 7:00 am

Crucifixion Timeline #54/6/2007 8:00:00 AM

Jesus is lead to Golgotha.  Crown of thorns is placed on his head, and his garments are divided. 8:00 am

Crucifixion Timeline #64/6/2007 9:00:00 AM

The third hour is 9:00am, Jesus is crucified at this time (Mark 15:25).

Crucifixion Timeline #74/6/2007 11:00:00 AM

Jesus talks to the criminals.

Jesus hands responsibility for Mary over to John.  Jesus' brothers are not believers at this time, so it would have been inappropriate for him to entrust her to them.  John is the youngest apostle (he lives past AD70).

Crucifixion Timeline #84/6/2007 12:00:00 PM

The sixth hour is 12:00pm.  At this time darkness covers the whole land until "the ninth hour" which is 3:00pm

Crucifixion Timeline #94/6/2007 2:45:00 PM

Around 3:00pm (the ninth hour): Jesus cries out to the father, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?"

"Jesus knew that everything was now finished, and to fulfull the Scriptures he said, 'I am thirsty.'  A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips."

When he had tasted it, he said, "It is finished!" (John 19:30).

Luke 23:46: "Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.'  When he had said this, he breathed his last."

Thus, the Lord took upon himself my sin.  I was doomed to live an eternity separated from God, but God himself, because he loved me, died so that I might live.

Immediately, there was an earthquake, and the temple curtain was torn in two.  Matthew reports that the tombs were opened.

The centurion was impressed not only by the earthquakes and following events, but also that Jesus cried in a loud voice.  People who were crucified died from exhaustion and asphyxiation (the soldiers would know this), just before Jesus gave up his Spirit he cried out.  It is obvious that his life was not taken from him.

Crucifixion Timeline #104/6/2007 3:00:00 PM

Sometime after 3:00pm, but before 6:00pm, the condemned's legs were to be broken.  This was commonly used to speed up the process, it makes it much harder for the person to lift himself up for breath.  Jesus was already dead, so his legs were not broken (this is a fulfullment of scripture in Psalm 34:20).

Jesus' side is pierced and it brings forth a flow of blood and water.  Apparently, this is what happens.  It is hard to explain medically, but it is a documented occurence.

Registering .NET created COM objects for ASP4/6/2007 5:00:00 PM

You cannot use regsvr32.exe to register a COM object that was created using .NET (It is possible to create COM objects in .NET, btw).

I do not know what happens if you try; I skipped that blunder.

You use the regasm.exe program, which mimics certain required COM functionality and registers the dll file.  However, if you just run regasm.exe ASPemail.dll it will say that it worked, but when you try and actually instantiate it in ASP, it will fail:

Server object error 'ASP 0177:80070002'
Server.CreateObject Failed
/<path>/<aspfile.asp><line #>

The call to Server.CreateObject failed.

You are missing a critical switch, codebase.  I don't know exactly what it does, but it fixes the problem.  Just run: regasm.exe ASPemail.dll /codebase and try it again.

This assumes that you are calling the correct ProgID, you can set that as an attribute on your class, or you can just let the compiler set it for you (it will be Namespace.AssemblyName).

Register on GAC
gacutil /if AssemblyName.dll

Register as COM Server
regasm AssemblyName.dll

hope this helps
André Luiz Sobreiro
- André Luiz Sobreiro @ 10/1/2007 11:07:13 AM

Crucifixion Timeline #114/6/2007 5:30:00 PM

Friday night, just before 6:00pm.

In order to remain ritually clean, Joseph and Nichodemus request Jesus' body.  They are granted it and they take it away.  It is important to note that a "certificate of death" was required for all executed people.  This would have been no different.  It would cost a soldier his life to sign the certificate if the person was not dead.  This also seriously brings into question the swoon theory.  Romans weren't stupid, they knew when someone was dead.

It was a hasty burial; they had to be finished by 6:00.  This is why the women were returning on Sunday morning... to finish the process.

Crucifixion Timeline #124/6/2007 6:00:00 PM

Sometime after 6:00pm the Jews go to Pilate and ask for a guard.  (Matthew 27:65).

While the English word "guard" here is vague (is it Jewish Temple Guard, or Roman Guard), the Greek is extraordinarily clear, and wonderful.  The word is κουστωδιαν, this is a Roman Guard.  However, it isn't just any Roman guard.  They were the guard unit of the Roman Legion, this unit is considered the greatest offensive and defensive fighting machine ever conceived.  There were several of these guard units throughout the Roman empire, governors has one, the emperor had one, and anything that the emperor wanted protected (or brought to him safely) was assigned one.

A military historian, Flavius Vegitius Renatus, wrote a manual to the Roman Emperor Valentinian, telling him to instill the methods of warfare used by the Romans during the time of Christ.  You might have heard of the book, it is called The Military Institutes of the Romans and is a classic.

The Roman guard unit was a 16-man security force.  Each man was trained to protect six feet of ground.  They formed a square, and were able to defend the ground they stood on against an entire battalion (that is about 800-1200 men).  Four men were placed immediately in front of what they were to protect, the other 12 did whatever (slept, ate, played cards) in a semi-circle in front of them, but they were still battle ready.  Every four hours another unit of 4 was awakened to take their place.  They did this around the clock.  If anyone approached, all 16 stood up and killed anything in range, no questions asked.

They were to guard with their life anything owned by Cesear.  Since a seal was placed on the tomb, this is what they were to protect.  It is a death penalty to break the seal.

In all of recorded history, the custodian has never been defeated, save once.  Come back Sunday for... the rest of the story.

Quake Party4/6/2007 7:00:00 PM

There is a Quake III Arena LAN party at my house tonight... sorry Joe.

Hope to play until the wee hours of the morning.  Last time Amanda watched Gone with the Wind and played Mario Lost Levels on the SNES... not sure what she will do this time.  Maybe I can get her to play some Quake.

I trust you'll be shot to pieces playing Quake, but have fun anyway. - Mr. P @ 4/7/2007 12:38:05 AM

Crucifixion Timeline #134/8/2007 6:00:00 AM

Sunday, during the early morning, Jesus defeated death and was resurrected.

Matthew 28:2: "And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.  And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.  The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men."

Did Jesus arise during the earthquake?  Perhaps, earthquakes often signify divine interaction.  However, the purpose of the angel rolling away the stone was not to free Jesus, it was to let witnesses see the (mostly) empty tomb.  Note that the tomb was not technically empty, and this is important.  The cloth that Jesus was wrapped in was still there, as was the head napkin (it was folded up).  Grave robbers would not have taken the time to remove the cloth, nor fold the napkin.

It is interesting that the greek word for "rolled back" is αποκυλιο which implies moving something "far" away from its original location.

The guards fled, they probably thought that the angel (coming down like lightning and clothing white as snow) was their god Zeus.  They watched him lift/roll a several ton stone a distance and get on it.  I would have fled too.

For these guards to flee, it would be a death sentence.  They went to the Jewish leaders because they held sway with the Roman government, the leaders told the guards to say that they were asleep and that they would take care of it.

Sorry if this post seems disjointed, I ate lunch between revisions...

Two Years in Blogging4/11/2007

Today marks two years since my first post in April 2005.

What has happened in the last year?

My nephew Levy was born.

Made it to Level 60 in World of Warcraft, which I don't play anymore.

I turned 24.

I started using Internet Explorer 7 about 8 months ago; I am happy with it.

I went to Texas after Christmas.  I posted several Christmas-related things, but the server went offline and I lost them.  I also lost my Greek parser, but it is back online.  So I can write Χρίστος in Greek.

The Polk County Property Appraiser's website finally went live.  I am especially proud of the GIS site.

Last year, I posted A Year in Blogging.  Here are a few updates:

Palm trees are looking great; I have to get out there and clip the brown fronds though.

My wife's grandma moved to Texas in July last year.

The students in my small group moved up.  I am with the same people, but they are in 10th and 11th grade now.

Visual Studio Codenamed Orcas4/20/2007 9:42:06 AM

This is Visual Studio 2008.  The beta is out today, and I am very excited.  I am most interested in the JScript Intellisense support.  I have been playing around with in using March 2007 CTP on a virual machine, but it is a pain.

The express editions are out already, which surprises me, you can get them here.  Also, for the VSTS edition, you can download the VPC image here.  Have fun with that one though, you have to download a base image which is like 11 gigs.

Anyway, I am off to try it.

Using Orcas4/24/2007 6:06:00 PM

I have been using the new Visual Studio 2008 Beta 1 for a few days now.  I like it a lot.  The JScript intellisense is a great addition.  Also, new language features such as anonymous types have already come in handy.  I tried the LINQ stuff, but I couldn't get it to do what I wanted it to do, so I gave up.  I will come back to it next time I see a use for it.

I have gotten many tips on the new features from Daniel Moth's blog.  Today he posted a feature that I would never have discovered but it going to be a great help: Transparent Intellisense.  Typically, when the intellisense window comes up, it covers everything under it (obviously).  This can be very annoying when you need to reference something on the lines below.  However, in the new version you can press the CTRL key and it will become transparent, very nice.

One annoying thing about the JScript intellisense is its very limited support for XML documentation.  It only supports the summary tag and a limited amount of the param tag.  Hopefully this will be extended in future versions.

The Banned Church Planting Video4/30/2007 6:00:00 PM

This video was shown at 2008 National New Church Conference.  I don't know anything about the conference; I found this info on a blog post by Arron Chambers.

The video is about men getting rabidly involved in church planting, and it includes some pretty sobering statistics on the state of the church and church plants.  Appearently, it was supposed to be shown and then DVDs were to be distributed.  However, after it was shown, some guy named Bill Hybel critized it for not speaking of women church planters.  The DVDs were not distributed.

You can see it here.  His call is for men to be good soldiers, and it is androcentric because he is relating it to Paul's admonition to Timothy.

But, it concerns me, what kind of person immediately notices that it doesn't speak of women, and then jumps to the conclusion that is is misogynistic?  I wonder what kind of theology he is selling?  Probably some form of high-tolerance garbage.  It is simply a fact that men are leaders in the church.  Women have a (huge) place in church planting, as a function of male leadership.  Why would he create a video calling women to effective church planting, when their best role can be supporting their husbands?  Towards the end of the video he lists several of the hardships that men face, many of which can be remedied by having a strong wife.

Zach Graduated5/5/2007 10:00:00 PM

Zachary Moye, my wife's cousin, graduated from Valencia College on May 5, 2007.  He received his high school diploma and an Associate of Arts degree at the same time.  He graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA.  He intends on going to UCF next semester and studying microbiology.

During his graduation party, I was given the great honor of being one of three people chosen to deliver a speech.  I wanted to keep it simple as new graduates are bombarded with speeches, most of which he will not remember.  My point was this: make God your best friend, and, as with all friendships, you have to talk and listen.  Do not forsake the study of the scriptures, and make time for prayer (1 Thess 5:17).  Also, cultivate relationships with strong Christian friends as they will keep him accountable.

Of course, I didn't say it that succiently, but I did my best.

Here's to you Zach, and remember, if you are mafia, kill me first!

Josh Graduated5/7/2007

Josh Van Tassel (brother-in-law and friend) graduated from Florida Christian College on Friday, May 4, 2007.  Congratulations!  He was also hired as full time youth minister at Southside Christian Church.

Both speakers, David Peters (new apologetics professor) and Josh McGrew (class orator), did an excellent job, probably the best I have heard at a graduation ceremony.  Hearing Dr. Peters speak made me wish I could take some classes with him--although nobody could replace Professor Chambers.

Josh's mom and Amanda hosted a graduation party at our house Sunday night.  Josh invited everybody that he knew, so it was packed.  We originally figured that people would just spill out into the backyard, and they did, until the torrential downpour started.  So we had over 50 people crammed into our house.  Luckily it let up and people went back outside.

We estimate that we had over 85 people come.

It is amazing that Josh finally got his diploma.  6 years really is not that long, considering that a lot of people go 4.5 - 5 years anyway, plus he took some time off.  Good job Josh!!!

85 people?  That sure is a lot.  Hope they did not ruin your carpet. - Joe @ 5/8/2007 12:41:55 PM
Yeah, he took time off and was overcommitted with youth ministry.  Once he got his act together he did fine, he was even on the Dean's list his first semester back.  Also, he took 26 credit hours this last semester. - Chet @ 5/8/2007 12:45:12 PM

Microsoft Surface5/30/2007 8:33:08 AM

You have got to check this out

I don't remember what the middle video was titled, but it is amazing.  Someday (soon?) we will be doing this.

Surface is a pretty neat idea ... hopefully it is in actual development and not just another of Microsoft's concept videos.

At the Vista Launch I went to, they showed a pretty amazing web/technology integration video, that showcased advanced tablet PCs running presentations from remote locations and video conferencing of amazing quality and functionality ... but it was really less than a proof of concept and more of just an ad of what the future may bring. - Oscar Cortez @ 5/30/2007 2:24:04 PM
Yeah, this is an actual product and it appearantly works as advertised.  There is an article in Popular Mechanics which talks about the author's actual usage of it. - Chet @ 5/30/2007 2:25:49 PMYou are right ... I just spotted a video on Digg of Bill demo-ing the unit. Really awesome! - Oscar Cortez @ 5/30/2007 7:45:06 PM

Microsoft Silverlight5/30/2007 10:35:15 AM

Silverlight is Microsoft's flash killer.

They are not off to a good start as far as I am concerned.  I ran the installer from the website and got an error message.  This is bad enough, but look at their instructions for fixing it:  Wow, command prompt!

I know it is only beta, but they should get the installer right.  I hope they don't expect me to manually uninstall this when the full version comes out.

It is only as much of a Flash killer as Adobe's Apollo and JavaFX are. Here is a fun little RIA comparison chart I found. - Oscar Cortez @ 5/30/2007 2:16:36 PM

Lets help Raymond out here (shopautodotca seocontest)6/8/2007 10:42:31 AM

A Canadian website is running a content to see who can get their web site to rank heighest for the terms "shopautodotca seocontest".

Raymond Chen doesn't like the spam he is getting.

So, he wants to win the contest.  In order to help, I will post a link to his site with the title shopautodotca seocontest.

That should do the trick (increase his PageRank a bit).

While you are at it, if you see anything interesting in the ad bar, click on it.

Safari available for Windows6/11/2007 4:00:00 PM

Apple has released a version of Safari that runs on Windows.  You can get it on Apple's website.

This is especially good for me for web development.  Typically I have been using Swift, which is terrible.  The UI doesn't work properly and it doesn't support any Javascript debugging, but it was the best I could get.

Now that the real version of Safari is out, I will be able to test my sites better.  I just hope that they work the same on Mac and Windows, so I can be sure that if it works propertly on my computer that it will work properly on all.

You can be sure that it will work the same on both.  It uses the same html/javascript engine for both.  The only main difference is the codebase for the application itself.  Though I am sure that most of the original app code is intact.  It is just like what they did with iTunes and it works the same on both platforms.

Just let met know how it works. - Anonymous @ 6/11/2007 11:11:04 PM
One thing that I like about Safari 3, is that form elements are css controlled, rather than using Aqua controls.  I can now see submit buttons like I have never seen them before.  Hey, I wonder what mine look like? - who else @ 6/13/2007 6:15:35 PM

AJAX or Ajax?6/12/2007 6:00:00 PM

Apparently there is some debate over how the acronym for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML is capitialized.

I was always taught, and this website agrees, that acronyms should be all uppercase.

This site takes issue with that because the site that coined the name uses "Ajax".

Now, according to Microsoft's website on capitialization of acronyms states that HTML is the correct way to write HyperText Markup Language, but then says that in code you would write it HtmlWriter or htmlWriter (based on if you are using Pascal case or Camel case).

Oh well, I think I will stick with AJAX. Master on Experts Exchange6/13/2007 6:00:00 PM

I have been participating on Experts Exchange for a little while now.  I have finally achived the rank of Master in Programming.  That is the lowest named level, so it isn't amazing or anything, but I had to answer a lot of questions to get to the required 50,000 points.

Next step: Guru (150,000 points).

I have 30,000 in JavaScript, so I will be getting Master there too soon.

You can see my profile page too.

I also get to ask unlimited questions now as long as I get at least 3,000 points per month (which is the equivilant of nailing two "hard" questions).

Congrats on this achievement.  BTW your username is very creative. - who else @ 6/13/2007 6:12:15 PM

Flag Day6/14/2007

Today is Flag Day, which commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on this day in 1777.

The president is requested to make a proclaimation each year, but he doesn't have to.

New Nephew6/15/2007 7:45:00 AM

Joshua Lenard Johnson was born on June 15, 2007 around 7:45AM.  He joins his three sisters and a brother.

Amanda and I babysat all the other kids while his parents were in the hospital.  It was fun.  Played Life a few times, went to St. Cloud's mini-water park.

Recrocket.com6/28/2007 8:58:25 AM

I am doing work for  A site that lets you create recommendations for books, professional services, restaurants, and much more.

You should check it out, http://www.recrocket/.

It is Fast Access to a World of Recommendations.

4th of July7/4/2007 9:00:00 AM

I hope everyone has a fun, safe 4th of July.

We are bucking America, in general, and having tacos... mmm.

Don't blow up your hand with a firecracker, especially if you make your livelyhood by typing.

I am celebrating by changing the oil in my car.

Sheikra (floorless) (front row)7/9/2007 7:00:00 AM

Amanda and I went to Busch Gardens on Saturday.  We specifically wanted to ride Sheikra, which is now floorless and has no bar on the front.

This ride, as I have said before, takes you up 200 feet, puts you at a 90° angle, and holds you there for about 5 seconds before dropping you.

Sitting on the front is amazing (especially with no floor or bar), you just see the ground in front of you. debugger7/13/2007 10:24:33 AM

Is it just me, or is's design-time debugger much better than C#'s?

I don't get much debugging info at all until I rebuild the assembly.  Kinda stinks because I am used to getting error information immediately.

Harry Potter7/16/2007 12:15:00 PM

My blood boils whenever I hear someone say, "I read Harry Potter and I am not a witch. Haha (hehe)."

It makes me sad when I hear a Christian say, "It is just fanasty."  Even sadder when they add, "Just like Lord of the Rings or Chronicles of Narnia."

Have I read it? No.

As Prof. Chambers says, "I don't need to swim in a cesspool to know that it stinks."

In the Sunday newspaper there was an article comparing Harry Potter to Star Wars or Star Trek, saying that if you think HP is harmful then you must think Star Wars or Star Trek is harmful... however, last time I checked, it isn't possible to build a photon torpedo or go into hyperspace.

However, it is possible to study and become heavily involved in the dark side of the spiritual realm.  Star Wars demonizes it, HP glorifies it.  Star Trek has no room for it.

St. Cloud City Limits7/18/2007 12:00:00 PM

In case you are ever curious, here is amap of St. Cloud city limits.

It is interesting to note the "Possible Ultimate City Limits."  Looks like St. Cloud intends to triple in size in the future.  All that area considers itself St. Cloud anyway, so I guess it isn't a big deal.

Shirt Arrived7/20/2007 1:51:51 PM

As I previously posted, I am getting a Master rank shirt from Experts Exchange.  Well, it finally arrived.  It is pretty neat.  Says "MASTER" on the back and has the Master logo on the sleeve.

Unfortunately, it is EE's colors, which happen to be Gator colors: blue and orange.

I am at around 100K, so I need another 50K to become Guru.  Also, I expected to be a JavaScript master by now, but I have only earned another 7K points in the last few weeks.

CobraLight7/20/2007 6:00:00 PM

My old employeer has a client that has a product that is pretty neat.  It is a large, rugged LED flashlight with a built in pepper spray "gun".  By pressing a button, it blasts a stream of pepper spray 20ft.

You can see a infomercial here.  I know it is an infomercial, but if it works even half way as protrayed, it is a great idea.  It costs $250 though.

But this makes me wonder... why not buy or make a bunch of pepper spray and load a super soaker.  I have seen an expensive one accurately hit (blast) someone from over 50ft away.  And it is a lot cheaper than $250.

Back from CIY8/1/2007

I went as an adult sponsor with Southside Christian Church to the Tennessee 6 Christ In Youth conference at Lee University.

It was great.  The theme was "Ones: Because we were never meant to be alone." and it was incredible.

I will try to post more about it.

For extended rec, we did a service project at the local Boys and Girls Club.  Washing windows, cleaning up trash on the grounds, and just hanging out with the kids.

We went whitewater rafting on Friday.  We were supposed to go to a high-ropes course on Saturday, but it was rained out... so we went to a waterfall in the middle of nowhere.

There are photos of us rafting at  Not all of those are our group.  I think #10-20 are not us, all the rest are.

Welcome to August8/1/2007

It is here... are you?

Recrocket Link8/2/2007 7:00:00 AM

Go To My Rec Page

Bourne Ultimatum8/6/2007 7:00:00 AM

We went and saw the Bourne Ultimatum on Saturday night.  It was a good movie.  Almost completely clean of sex/nudity and bad language, goes to show that a big time action movie does not need them.

I was very happen with the end, and we get a lot of answers.  I highly recommend it.

I could do without all the camera shaking though, but it is a cinematic element, so I guess it is important.

Hurricane Charley: T+3 years8/13/2007 8:00:00 PM

I cannot believe it has been 3 years since Hurricane Charley.  My distinct memory is of moving tree branches from one big pile (where we initally put them after cutting them off my house) to another bigger pile so that they could be burned.  The pile is still there (so is the other pile that was created when we first moved into that house).

It was about 100 degrees, and I just walked from one pile to the other over and over until I thought I would pass out.

I also remember driving down Kissimmee Park road at midnight and driving over powerlines and going around whole trees in the road.  When we finally got within 1 mile of our house, there was a tree trunk across the road, so we had to walk the rest of the way.

The huge pecan tree next to our house didn't fall (gratefully, if the roots had been uplifted, that alone would have knocked the house off the foundation), but all of its branches were twisted and had been blown down onto the house.

I walked in, saw that all the windows were intact and the ceiling was still up, and walked out.

What amazed me most though, was how little destruction there was compared to what could have happened... there were so many houses with trees down *between* them.  That tree could have easily fallen right on the house, but instead it fell where there was nothing at.  I saw that many, many times.  I was actually shocked at how well most places fared.

Also, there were only 10 deaths overall.

I thank God for keeping my family safe though that.  When I was young I wanted to experience a bad hurricane (be out of school for a week, stuff like that).  Now, I never want to do that again.

M-80s, "M-80s", and "M-1000s"8/15/2007 7:00:00 PM

When we went to Georgia to escape Hurricane Frances (and ended up coming back just before the storm hit), Wayne and I purchased a box of "M-80" firecrackers.  These are your run-of-the-mill firecracker which are red, about one inch long, and have a fuse coming out the end.  They were loud and I liked them.

I always figured that they were the legal limit, because I had never seen anything larger (and we had to buy them in Georgia).

On the way back from CIY, in Florida, I saw a place selling "M-1000s".  I just had to buy them... if an M-80 was so great, surely an M-1000 would be amazing.  I actually have not set one off yet, because I was afraid that doing so in a residential area would cause alarm.

Well, the joke is on me I guess.

There is a such thing as an M-80.  They were popular in the 60's and 70's, and contain 3 grams of explosive power.  They are extreemely powerful, easily taking off a few fingers (they were used to simulate gunfire in the military).

They are also very illegal, have been for decades.  Federal law states that an explosive device for general consumer use cannot exceed 50 milligrams of pyrotechnic powder.

So, the "M-80s" that I bought are not M-80s at all.  And the "M-1000s" are probably exactly the same as the "M-80s" I used to have.  Perfectly legal, and quite powerless (although, they will blow a small hole in a plastic bottle).

CD-ROM turns 258/17/2007 12:56:13 PM

Just beat me to it.  On Aug 17, 1982, Philips released the first CD.  Back when the largest consumer harddrive were tens of megs, and most computers barely had 512KB of RAM, this disc could hold an incredible 640MB... that was probably enough to hold all the data on all the floppy discs of everyone you knew.

I wasn't alive when they were first released, but do remember when they started using them for computers.  The librarian showed us one of these new fangled things that held the Encarta Encyclopedia when I was in 4th grade.

Also, a few of my rich classmates had portable CD players that they took with them on field trips.

From cassette to CD to solid state storage (which could hold hundreds of CDs), we sure have come a long way in reliably storage large amounts of information.

Levy County Property Appraiser8/17/2007 3:10:50 PM

I am happy to announce that Levy County's Property Appraiser website went live last Monday (August 13th, 2007) without any problems whatsoever.  Unlike the Polk PA's website, which I simply wrote the code for, this site was designed by me.

Their GIS site will be coming online soon as well.

This is only my second website deployment since starting here, but I have several more in the hopper that should go live in the next months.

Purpose of the Church8/18/2007 7:00:00 AM

It is amazing how complicated some topics are.  It is also amazing how little we actually know about the role and history of the church.

My wife and I are fortunate to have a bible college education, it enables us to answer these questions more thoroughly than others, but I still feel like I don't know enough.

Here are some questions we asked students during group time on Wednesday night:

1. What is the church?

2. In what ways are we like the early church?

3. What are some things the church does today that would confuse the first Christians?

4. How would you guess the American church is different from churches in other countries?

5. Why did Jesus make the church?

How would you answer these questions?

One of my big "crusades" is getting people to understand the role and purpose of the church.  I define the church as the gathering of believers.  Some people feel that it is "the church"'s job to evangelize.  They feel that our Sunday morning service needs to focus on getting people to Christ.

I feel that this desire is misplaced...  the church's job is to edify, equip, and strength believers.  It is believer's job to evangelize.

I think that if our churches focused more on discipleship, Christian education, and benevolence, it would go a long way to helping Christians (not "the church") reach our communities.

(The importance of Christian education is another one of my big things, I am sad to hear that many churches are doing away with Sunday School [and not replacing it with another form of education].)

Birthday (0x19)8/20/2007 5:00:00 AM

Today is the 25th anniversary of my birth day.  My brother-in-law, Wayne, and I have a party on the same day (because we are less than a week apart).

I got cash from Amanda's Grandma.
I "got" The Count of Monte Cristo from Amanda's parents.
I got a big (4 D cells) MagLite from the Johnsons.
So far, Amanda got me a 3.75lb bag of Jolly Ranchers.

I don't know what else Amanda got me yet.

Birthday Update8/21/2007 12:15:00 PM

Amanda got me a set of rare-earth magnets and a 11 hour DVD documentary on the space program (though, the real gift is having to watch them with me).  Both are things I really wanted.

Also, we went to Red Lobster and she endured me eating crab legs in front of her.

On the way home, we stopped by Barnes and Noble and I used some gift cards I got for Christmas to buy "Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics".  Hopefully that will help me with my latest big project: building a CPU.

Excel Conditional Formatting8/22/2007 7:30:00 AM

Ever need Excel to alternate colors for each row to make it easier to distingush rows?  I often do, I usually just click every other row and change the background.  But... shouldn't Excel do this for me?

Excel doesn't make it obvious on how to do this, but there is a pretty easy way.

It is detailed at  The key is to select the rows you want to color, then choose Format -> Conditional Formatting.  In the box, choose "Formula" and enter the following:


Then click the "Format" button and choose the format for the alternate cells.

Also, lets say you only want to apply the banding if the row has data (so blank rows don't get a color).


The $A1 in there will make it always check the Column A for the current row.

EE: JavaScript - Master8/23/2007 6:00:00 PM

I have finally achieved the rank of Master in JavaScript on Expert's Exchange.  My shirt is in the mail.

It took me nearly a month just to get the last 10K points.

Profile Page.

EE: JavaScript - Master8/23/2007 6:00:00 PM

I have finally achieved the rank of Master in JavaScript on Expert's Exchange.  My shirt is in the mail.

It took me nearly a month just to get the last 10K points.

[]Profile Page[/url].

Poor Debugging Performance in VS20088/24/2007 12:30:41 PM

I was adding a new feature to one of our websites with Visual Web Developer 2008.  I noticed (and have noticed this for a long time) that there were two requests coming though, so when I stepped though the code it would jump (because I am essentially debugging two threads).  This probably has something to do with the AutoEventWireup attribute.

Anyway, I figured I would load it up in the bigger Visual Studio 2008 IDE.  It has a better debugger, and lets you debug native code as well.

I got nowhere with it (and didn't really have time to deal with it), so I closed it out and started VWD back up.  Suddenly, everything went wrong.  It took the site multiple tens of seconds to compile (it usually takes about 1), and when it hit a breakpoint it would take about 5 seconds to single step.

Needless to say, it was annoying.  To make matters worse, I couldn't find anything online to help me out.

I have had trouble before with loading a project in VS and then trying to load it in VWD (refer to my EE post: Unable to Debug), VS2008 adds settings that aren't supported in the lighter version.

So, I thought that was the problem.  But to confound the issue, I had used Task Manager eariler to forcibly close a process that is used by .NET for ClickOnce, so I couldn't really be sure exactly what I did to break my website.

I closed the IDE and restarted my computer, no change.
I deleted the website compiled code from the C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.5727\Temporary ASP.NET Files directory.
I deleted the solution directory from My Documents.
I took the drastic step of running devenv /resetSettings, which I hate doing because then I have to set my environment up again.

Other sites that are based on the same codebase ran fine, just this one site.

After a few hours of trying stuff (and researching the problem), I noticed that it sat at the "Validating Web Site" message for a while (while the IDE was hung).  I got the bright idea of running ProcMon, and Lo and Behold, it was enumerating every file in the website's subdirectories.

Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but a few days ago I happened to load building image data for this county... that was several pictures of every single property in that county, several GB worth.  So, needless to say it was taking a while to check all that (for compilable files no doubt).

I moved that directory out of the website directory, restarted the IDE, and it ran fine and fast.

I can *understand* why it would take a while to compile... but I don't know why it would take several seconds to single step the code.

Labor Day: Bok Tower9/4/2007 5:30:00 PM

Mandy and I went to Historic Bok Gardens down in Lake Wales for Labor Day.  It was cool.  Lots of flowers and green stuff... oh, there is a tower there too.

It is actually built on the highest point in peninsular Florida (as opposed to Britton Hill in the panhandle which is 50ft higher).  The tower is about 200 feet tall and has a carillon bell set which is neat.  Not only can you not go to the top of the tower and see the countryside, you cannot even go into it (unless you are a "member").  Members can go inside the main floor, which is a library, and see the keyboard which operates the bells.  The keyboard is actually a set of paddles that you strike with your fist (and stomp down on with your feet).

Also, there is a 20-room mansion on the grounds which was not originally part of the property but was purchased in the 70's to add to the attraction.  It is a neat place, built by a wealthy industrialist in the 1930's.  One of the funniest things is that the main room has a set of high double-doors leading off from it.  They look like they lead to a big important room (one guy on the tour guessed the library, Amanda and I figured it was the living room).  When you open them, you see that they go to two rooms.  The doorways themselves are standard height (only the doors were tall, they covered the wall over the doorway), one leads to the bathroom, and the other goes to the butler's pantry (basically an ante-room to the kitchen which contains dishes and sinks).

Amanda and I walked around for a few hours, but it was just too hot to hang out.  During Christmas they decorate the place (and the mansion), and the bells are played live (rather than having a machine play them automatically).  I think we will go there then.

Also, I love water fountains, so my favorite part was the entryway to the grounds.  It is a long fountain with a pool at the head, and two flumes that run about 50 ft down to another pool.  Inside this square area are flowers and plants.  And the entire thing was tiled.  Very pretty.

It is only an hour and a half from the Orlando area, and it is $10 per person.  They have a cafe there with decently priced items, so you could have lunch there.  I highly recommend it.

C# doesn't support parameterized properties9/6/2007 8:49:51 AM

In, there is this useful construct:

Public Property DbDictionary(key As String) as String
          Return _internalDictionary(key)
     End Get
     Set (ByVal value As String)
          _internalDictionary(key) = value
     End Set
End Property

Which will allow you set the index (or key) for a Dictionary object.  This is just one example, but it is very useful.

In C#, this is not available.  It appears that the only workaround is thus:

public string this[string key] {
     get {
          return _internalDictionary(key);
     set {
          _internalDictionary(key) = value;

However, notice the this variable.  This method actually sets what calls a Default Property, so you can only have one of them per class (or multiple if you vary the signature).

This is dumb.

I agree! - Anonymous @ 4/20/2011 5:22:39 PM

Typing Speed9/14/2007 5:16:28 PM

I tested my typing speed today at  I typed 230 words for a speed on 76.6 wpm with an accuracy of 96.5%.

It says that if you type over 45 wpm, you are doing well.

I think that if I took the average of three tries it would be a little lower, but who knows.

I tried it a second time and I thought I did much worse, but I actually did better: 82.8 wpm with an accuracy of 98.8%.

So my average over two is 79.7 wpm @ 97.7 accuracy.

Old school type testers would dock you every time you press the backspace key.  This only appears to doc you if you leave the word wrong and continue.  As long as you correct it before the time runs out, it counts it as accurate (but your overall wpm goes down because you didn't spend the time working on other words).

Number of words typed: 225
Test duration: 3 min
Speed: 75.1 words/min. (375 keystrokes/min.)
Error penalty: 2
Accuracy: 99.1%

I had to scroll down manually, and then the popup started scrolling down automatically, so I had to scroll up, write, and then scroll up again (it didn't stop to scroll down automatically) so I think I did a good job considering I am not English native (i am Spanish) and that was my first try

PS: I discovered this website because I started a little website called (spanish word for cheaters) . It's a website about videogames (of course it isn't about cheats or cheaters, it just a catchy name...).

- JinRoh @ 9/22/2007 1:46:48 PM
Number of words typed: 250
Test duration: 3 min
Speed: 83.3 words/min. (416 keystrokes/min.)
Error penalty: 31
Accuracy: 87.6%

I had a similar problem with the scrolling, JinRoh ... but for just one test, I did pretty well. And see, I thought it would be better to leave words misspelled and not backspace, but it might have hurt my accuracy level more than it helped my wpm. - Oscar @ 9/24/2007 9:40:41 PM

SSIS Package Failures9/24/2007 9:01:08 AM

I received the error:

Error : AcquireConnection call to the connection manager <dbserver>.<db> failed with error code 0xC0202009

This was mostly relating to my OleDb (OLE DB) connections.  Turns out that the password was wrong for the username that I was using.  Changing the password immediately cleared up the issue.

Keywords: MSSQL OLEDB Ole Db SSIS DTS Visual Studio 2005, 2008 Microsoft Sql Server.

Number of Apostles9/24/2007 7:00:00 PM

How many apostles are there?  First, we need to review what the word apostle means.

"Apostle" comes from the Greek word Άπόστολος.  This comes from "two greek words": απω meaning "out of" and στολος which actually means "fleet".

So, it is someone who is sent out.  It is a messenger, closely akin to angel.

Anyway, there are different types of apostles.  Technically, we are all apostles, sent out into the world to being the message of the Good News.  However, there are obviously special men who are (capital "A") Apostles.  These men are foundational to the church.

So, how many were there?

Standard answer: either 11 or 12, depending on if you count Judas Iscariot.

More thoughtful answer: either 12 or 13, remembering Matthias (13 if you still count Judas).

I should now say that I was on the fence as to whether Judas can currently be considered an apostle, even though he betrayed Christ.  He was one, and he sinned, did he cease to be one?  After reading the Matthias account more closely, it said that they needed a replacement for his office.  Therefore it seems that his office was vacant, the only way it could be vacant is if he no longer fulfilled it.  They didn't replace other Apostles after their deaths, their offices weren't vacant.  So, I am going to assume that Judas does not presently count as an apostle, Matthias is his replacement.

A quite thoughtful answer: 13, discounting Judas, but including Paul and Matthias.

That is where people usually stop.  But the teacher of the Ephesians class on Wednesday night pointed out there are more...

James, the half brother of Jesus and the writer of the book bearing his name, was one.  He is an apostle equated with the others.

Barnabas, Paul's co-missionary, is designated as an apostle equal to Paul in Acts 14:4 and 14.  In verse 4, he and Paul are referred to as "the apostles".

This brings us to 15: Peter (Simon), Andrew (Peter's brother), James and John (sons of Zebedee), Philip, Bartholomew (Nathanael from John?), Thomas (Didymus), James (son of Alphaeus), Matthew (Levi), Simon (the Zealot), Judas (not Iscariot, perhaps "Jude", perhaps "Thaddeus", appearently there is confusion here), Matthias, Paul, James, and Barnabas.

Were Andronicus and Junia apostles?  Romans 16:7 says that they were "of note among the Apostles".  Does this mean that they were Apostles themselves, or that the Apostles noted them?

My feeling on this is that the Apostles noted them (highly).

However, you cannot deny the fact that the word "noted" is επισημοι, which is the same word as "epistle" or "letter".  Epistle seems to have a connotation closer to being noted in a written list, rather than noted by people in a group.  So, it could seem that they were noted on the list of Apostles.  I am not sure about this.

Your thoughts are intriguing.  I had not considered that there were more than the 13 (14) official Apostles.  From the scriptures that you site, this is obvious.  I do have some questions, though.  Who picked the new apostles?  Did they cast lots, or just pick them based on the qualifications that we find in Acts?

For those who may thus conclude that because the office of apostle was not limited to the original 12 plus Matthias and Paul there can still be apostles, remember the qualifications.  The person had to personally witness the ministry of Jesus from the beginning until after his resurrection (citation needed).  If anyone today fit that qualification, he would be very old and so senile that his words could not be trusted. - Joe Schneider @ 9/24/2007 9:17:54 PM
The verse you say you need to cite is towards the end of Acts 1, they state the qualifications before choosing Matthais. - Chet @ 9/25/2007 7:41:50 AM

MSSQL Cursors and Transactions9/28/2007 6:00:00 PM

I rarely use cursors because they are incredibly slow.  SQL Server is designed on set theory, so it works best on a set of data.  Cursors are used like a loop in standard programming.  Rather than telling the server to do X on all of this data Y, cursors tell it to do X over and over again on Y[n].

However, sometimes you just need to use a cursor.  I had to append some text to a field 25,000 times to build up a string.  Because of the way the data was situated, I could not write a SQL statement to update it.

So, using a cursor, I ran the same transformation 25,000 times.  It was quite slow.  However, I noticed that each time it looped, it executed the SQL.  This is bad.  Committing a transaction is expensive.

By prefixing my procedure with "BEGIN TRANSACTION" and suffixing it with "COMMIT TRANSACTION" I told the SQL server to commit all of the changes at once.

Sure, it fills the transaction log, but that is what it is for.  Now, rather than taking 5 minutes to run the process, it takes a several seconds (but still, a few seconds more than it would have if it were just a complex SQL statement without cursors).

Also, it was only 25,000 for this set of data.  This procedure will need to be run over two dozen times on sets much larger than this, so optimizing this now saves a lot of time over the long haul.

TheyKnowICare.com10/1/2007 6:11:17 PM

Be sure to check out  This is a site that a friend and I are going to start.

If you see any ads that interest you, feel free to click on them: anniversary ideas, great gift reminders.

Wayback Machine Saved Me Time10/5/2007 6:00:00 PM

For those of you not familiar with the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, you should check it out.  It is kind of like Google Cache, except that it allows you to access indexes by date going way back.  There are entires from 1996 (at least, that is as far back as I can remember it going).  Here is the first version of Microsoft's website that is recorded: October 20, 1996.

Anyway, Hillsborough PA needed me to "put back" a banner that they had me put up late last year.  I should have just commented it out, but I removed it for some reason.

Rather than have to look stupid by asking where it was *exactly* and what color and size it was, I just went to the wayback machine for March of this year (when the banner was still up), and grabbed the code.

Turns out that we used the banner space for another item between March (when it was removed) and now, which is why it wasn't there anymore.

Building Fire11/2/2007 9:14:22 AM

Wow, it has been too long since I posted last.  I see that there are none up.  That is embarrassing.

Oh well.

On my way into work, one of the new high-rise buildings was on fire.  I guess the top 5 floors were filled with smoke.  I couldn't actually see any flames, but there must have been something massive going on inside.  There was a lot of smoke.

Since I came in from the south, I was able to clearly see the smoke coming out.  I felt bad for people coming in from the north, because all they saw was some smoke and haze coming from the cluster of tall buildings (they would be facing the sun, which made it even harder to really see what was actually going on).  I bet some people thought about 9/11.

Oddly enough, it was like 8:30 when I drove by, and I still have not heard nor seen anything on 540 or any of the news websites... lets go news people!

Update: The name of the building is DynaTech Center.

Update 2: The fire was in the elevator shaft.  I still cannot find a news article about it.  I smell a coverup (even though I cannot smell).

Long-sleeve Shirt11/8/2007 10:20:06 AM

Global warming?!  I had to wear a long-sleeve shirt today.

I don't usually have to put one on until Thanksgiving.  In fact, last year, I didn't buy any long sleeve shirts until the day after.

Thanks for that Dubya.

Federal Law Regarding Employer Discrimation11/8/2007 6:20:18 PM

Bug Heddinger was talking about various hiring issues.  I am posting this because people are always talking about discrimination.  I just wanted to post the actual list.

Under federal law, employers cannot discriminate based the following:

National Origin

So does this mean a muslim could sue a church for not being hired for a position he had applied for? - Joe Schneider @ 11/8/2007 9:27:51 PM

MSSQL Error: The number name '...' contains more than the maximum number of prefixes.11/13/2007 12:20:17 PM

SQL Server uses four part names, for example: server.database.user.table.  Nine times out of ten, you just use the table name, but sometimes you use the database name.  I was just doing something that required using the server name as well.

I was trying to reconcile configuration between a local and remote server.  While I set this up, please keep in mind that you cannot alias a table when using an UPDATE statement.  Here is basically what I was doing:

UPDATE remoteSvr.productDB.dbo.config
SET value = (SELECT value FROM config as local WHERE =

This would throw the following error:

The number name 'remoteSvr.productDB.dbo.config' contains more than the maximum number of prefixes. The maximum is 3.

Which is terribly cryptic -- especially "number name"... what is that?

The problem is that SQL server expects a four-part name (which means only three periods).  Trying to reference the outer table in the sub-select statement is causing the problem:  Notice that including the column name (".name") makes it a five-part name.  However, you must include this otherwise it cannot make a valid reference.

If you could just alias the remote database table, you would be fine.  You can do this in a SELECT statement:

SELECT FROM remoteSvr.productDB.dbo.config as remotedb

But, you cannot do this (in the same way) in the UPDATE statement.  Anyway, there is an easy way around this.  Using a little-known predicate in the UPDATE statement will allow you to alias the table.

UPDATE remotedb
SET value = (SELECT value FROM config AS local WHERE =
FROM remoteSvr.productDB.dbo.config as remotedb

And there you have it.  Using the FROM predicate in the UPDATE statement will allow you to alias the remote table, and therefore, when you reference the column name, you don't exceed the four-part name rule.

Visual Studio 200811/19/2007 2:01:17 PM

Well, it has finally shipped.  I have been using the Beta 2 version for a few months now, and it is great.  Now, I just need to figure out how to get VS 2008 Professional for free.  I got 2005 Pro for free about a year ago (by taking an online class), but I never installed it because VS 2008 Betas started coming out.

Oh well.  The Express version are still free, and they work fine for what I do.

Wii::Boogie11/20/2007 12:49:24 PM

While Josh was out of town, we borrowed the youth group's Wii (which he keeps at his house).  Boy, that was fun.

One game looked pretty dumb, so I didn't bother trying it until Saturday.  The game is Boogie.  You make a character dance based on the movement of the WiiMote.  It is very fun.

It took my sister and I a while to get the hang of it, but then we were tearing it up.  Then Nathaniel came over and started taking smack, so Kelly tore him up.

Anyway, that was fun.

We are taking it to The Condo during Thanksgiving, so I'll be playing that again.

Bad weather coming, but not in Florida11/20/2007 6:00:00 PM

Weather is supposed to be terrible for most of the US starting on Wednesday.

I just checked the 10-day forcast on, looks like it is going to be in the 80s everyday.  It might rain for a bit on Thursday and Friday, but the temp will be high, which means it will probably be just some short showers (completely rainy days only happen during cold fronts).

This is great news!  Except those of you in... you know... the rest of the country.

Dyslexic Clinton Staffer11/21/2007 5:00:00 PM

During a recent townhall meeting, someone on Clinton's staff had an attendee ask a question about global warming.  You can read the story here.

The person who did this was dyslexic, so they say that rather than helping Clinton with answers, he helped attendees with questions.  "He just misunderstood the job description".  Yeah, that sounds like a reasonable mistake.

Anyway, I love this response by Clinton's staff:  Because of this fact, the source said, any political opponents who "pile on" Sen. Clinton over these issues are actually "piling on the handicapped."

That should probably read: Because we were caught, we are going to throw a handicapped person under the bus.

Also, I just heard an ad on the radio which reminds me of this despair poster.  But instead of power, it is speed.  And instead of rocks, it kills.  Actually, that isn't funny.

Happy Thanksgiving11/22/2007 3:44:55 AM

Hope you stuffed your face.

Comment11/22/2007 12:00:00 PM

Comment and Recomment were in a boat.
Recomment fell out, who was left?

Adult Stem Cells11/23/2007 1:02:42 PM

Shock: Adult stem cells work.

It has always amazed me that there is a debate regarding embryonic stem cells.  There has not been a single breakthrough with embyronic stem cells, not one.  Meanwhile, we are making leaps and bounds with adult stem cells.

The only reason it is a debate is because the atheistic humanists want it to be.

Creating blank file from command line11/24/2007 3:46:01 PM

Sometimes I find myself needing to create an empty file from the command line.  There is an easy, unattended, way of doing this:

copy nul filename.ext

That will copy from the "nul" device (vestigial of DOS) into the file.

Condo11/26/2007 12:52:54 AM

Back from the Condo.  The weather was amazing the entire time.  Usually, it is nice on Thanksgiving Day (the day we get there), and then gets cold and rainy until we leave (it starts getting nice as we check-out on Sunday).

This year, it was bright and sunny every day (execpt it rained for a bit on Sunday).

We built a big sand castle too.

99.7%11/28/2007 12:00:00 PM

I just heard on Glenn Beck that a student got a bad grade on a paper because it was against Global Warming.

The teacher wrote on the top, "99.7% of Scientists believe that Global Warming is a fact."

I would have had the teacher site the source for 99.7%.  I thought science was not about making numbers up, but actually having the evidence.  What a moron.

Not to mention that 100% of everyone could *believe* that global warming is a fact, and it could still be completely wrong.  

Concensus is not evidence, facts are.

How many people thought the world was flat?  Hmmm, interesting. - Whatever @ 12/14/2007 10:42:11 AMUm, not many if I understand correctly.  It is a myth, most for the last 3-4 thousand years have known that the earth is spherical. - Chet @ 8/20/2008 5:38:39 AM

Christmas Tree11/30/2007 7:00:00 AM

Well, we put the Christmas tree up.  It is fake, but I am fine with that.  Real trees cost an arm and a leg.  We got our fake 7' tree two years ago for like $60.

When we bought our house I wanted a very tall tree, like 12', because we have a high ceiling.  But they are way to expensive... and I don't even care anymore.  I am happy with my 7 foot tree.

For our first Christmas, we lived in a tiny (450 sqft) house so it was impossible to get a regular sized tree.  We bought a 3 or 4 foot tree and put it on the coffee table.

Moron Trivia11/30/2007 10:43:57 AM

Just heard on Glenn Beck's Moron Trivia:

Q. Name two counties in Europe.
A. Asia, and... umm... England?
R. Sorry, we were looking for England and New Zealand.


As funny as moron trivia is, it is at the same time frightening.  There are many Americans who can't answer questions like that.  They are too busy partying or living in the moment that they don't care about the world at large.  What is even more frightening is that many of these people vote. - Joe @ 11/30/2007 11:25:10 AM

Hurricane Forecast11/30/2007 6:05:08 PM

The news says that people are "pertrurbed" about the lack of hurricances this season.  Here is the reason they gave...  because 2004 and 2005 were so active we have come to expect busy seasons.

That is not correct.  We expected a busy season this year because we were told that.

We aren't stupid... its not like we thing, "oh wow, 2004 and 2005 were busy, so they must be busy from now on."

Now emergency personel are worried that we might become complacent.

Pat Campbell (540 WFLA)12/5/2007 5:07:59 PM

Pat Campbell, the morning show guy on 540 WFLA was let go on Monday.

According to Bud Hedinger, 740 is going spanish (Mexican music).  But they have a highly profitable sports talk show.  So, they cut Pat and replaced him with a sports talk show (Dan Silio).

Also, Mike Gallagher's show (after Bud, at 6:00), is going to be replaced with another local sports talk show.

Well... I guess I have nothing to listen to in the mornings anymore, except for NPR and 580WDBO (which is basically a news loop).

According to Bud, it has nothing to do with Pat personally... it is simply a market move.

More information at Pat's blog.

Their ratings are going to suck.  People listen to them for shows like Pat, not ones dedicated to sports.  One show a day, maybe, but not two - Joe Schneider @ 12/5/2007 5:17:33 PM

SSIS and Uncommitted Transactions12/6/2007 12:17:42 PM

Sometimes, if you are working in SQL Server's Management Studio, a query will not be committed.  I am sure there is a precise reason for this, but I haven't run into it enough times to figure it out.

Since the transaction was not committed, the row (or sometimes the entire table) will be locked.

When SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS, the new version of DTS) tries to validate its tasks, it will make sure that the tables are the same as the task describes (columns and datatypes).  Since it cannot access the table (because it is locked) it will wait for it to be unlocked.

If you caused it to lock, and don't unlock it (by committing the transaction), SSIS will literally freeze.  The status bar will say something like, "Validating my task" (where "my task" is the name you gave it).

You have to go into SSMS and do "COMMIT TRANSACTION" until it throws an error.

Are Mormons Christians or Not?12/10/2007 12:31:38 PM

Glenn Beck asked this question today on his show.  The answer is no.  The Christ of Mormonism is not the same Christ as "biblical" or "traditional" Christianity.

Here is a good paper by Cky Carrigan on the "Christ-test", which Mormonism does not pass.

Web Hosting Change12/11/2007 10:58:00 AM

I moved my website to another server.  Since I am sharing with a friend, my site is a sub-directory on his server.

So, old direct links to my website won't work now.  Also, the rss feed is now at

Submitted Error'd12/11/2007 12:00:27 PM

I often check out a site call Worse Than Failure, which is a site that has stories/code snippets that you never want to experience.

They have a category called Error'd, which is basically screenshots of broken things (badly worded error messages, websites with programming errors).

I submitted a survey which asked how I rate "Microsoft Linux" a few months ago... and last week it appeared on the website

Presumption of Evolution12/12/2007 12:10:08 PM

I was reading this Wikipedia page on Antiviral drugs (out of curiousity because I read this page which talked about mixing up antibotics and antivirals in comics).

Anyway, the article said, "Almost all anti-microbials, including anti-virals, are subject to drug resistance as the pathogens evolve to survive exposure to the treatment."  This is simply not true, I cannot believe that this junk is still making the rounds.

Nothing evolved.  There was already a small population of the virus which was resistant (lets say, 1%).  As the other 99% died off because of the anti-viral, the 1% became a larger proportion of the population (because they continued to reproduce).  The 99% non-resistant bugs did not evolve, that is to say, they did not have offspring which were resistant.

No new genetic information, therefore no evolution.  If anything, it is a loss of genetic information.

That being said, there are two other things to mention:

1) Even after the drug-resistant versions die off, and you are left with the resistant versions, it is still possible for the populate to switch back if the drug is no longer used.  This is because we are rarely able to completely wipe out the virus.  A remnant  can become dominate again over time (there was a reason that the resistant version was only 1%, when the drug is removed natural forces go back into play to balance the population).

2) It is possible for there to be a mutation, but I have yet to hear of a mutation that was purely beneficial.  It may give the virus the ability to resist this particular drug, but it usually results in loss of an ability or function.  Case in point: A person with sickle-cell anemia will be resistant to malaria.  However, this is because the blood cells are messed up and do not function as they should (and can cause death).

Water == Life12/13/2007 12:35:23 PM

I always get a chuckle when I see stories like this: "Mars Rover Investigates Possibility of Ancient Microbial Life".

Really, all this means is that they discovered signs that water might have been available a long time ago.  You see, for evolutionists, water == life.

Isn't it odd though, we see headlines saying that water may have been present... but months go by without any word as to whether or not signs of life were found.  If they were so close to water, and they have labs on board to detect life, shouldn't they have determined at least something by now.

Also, here on Earth we have lots of microscopic fossils... why is it that we are finding nothing on Mars?  I can find a lot of websites (mostly NASA) where scientists say they found things that look like microscopic cells (I was going to cite some of these, but I cannot seem to find them), but I cannot find any sites that say whether that discovery panned out (obviously they didn't, otherwise it would have been headline news).

I think they keep determing that there isn't life (at that location), but that never makes the news.

Where are the follow-up stories!!?

What kind of bean is a baked bean?12/14/2007 12:00:00 PM

I have often wondered this.  There are so many types of beans, and they obviously aren't green beans, or kidney beans... so what are they.  I have never seen a bag of dried "baked beans", ready to be put in a pot and cooked.

Turns out, they are White beans, more commonly known as the Navy bean or haricot.

AProductFinder.com12/15/2007 12:00:54 PM

I had a idea for a site, so I built it.  My wife likes Clearly Canadian water, but it is very hard to find.  So I thought, wouldn't it be nice if there was a website that people could go to, to locate a hard-to-find product.  A site where other people could go in and identify places where they know they can find it, and people can rate those locations.

I don't know if it will work, or if anyone will use it.  It is one of those catch-22's, nobody will use it initially because there aren't many products, but nobody will enter products because nobody goes to it.

Oh well.  Check it out at

The "nice" thing about it is that it is self-maintaining.  If a product is invalid it can be rated down (and eventually out of existance).  If a location is rated down to many times, it is removed from the database.  If someone uploads a bad image of a product, someone else can upload a better one.  The image is only shown a certain percentage of the time as its rating rises or falls.

Quantum Sniffer on CSI:Miami12/17/2007 12:14:47 PM

The company I used to work for handled investor relations for Implant Sciences, Inc., publically traded under IMX.  They make a product that is able to detect trace amounts of bomb material and accuractly detect exactly which explosive it is.  I think they started installing them in airports.  They also make a hand-held version called the Quantum Sniffer, and have been trying to bring it to market for years and years.

Mandy and I were watching CSI:Miami on Saturday, and they were using a bomb detection tool around a cargo container... the Quantum Sniffer.

The episode originally aired on November 20, so I though I would check to see if its stock price had increased since I left.  It hasn't, it is actually quite lower.  It was like $4.50 in November of 2005.  Now it is at $1.08.  So low that it cannot even be shorted.  When I started there it had just come off a $17 high.

The Quantum Sniffer really is a good idea, I don't know why it hasn't been successful.  Imagine having one of these in an airplane.  As people move around, air is moved all over the place.  A QS could detect if someone had even a minute amount of bomb making residue on them.  You don't actually have to wand this over anyone, it just sits there "sniffing" the air.

IE8 passes ACID2 Test12/20/2007 12:38:37 PM

For all you web standards geeks out there.  You should be happy to know that IE8 will pass the Acid2 test (in fact, it already does).  The IE team announced this on their blog yesterday.

They plan on releasing a beta version in early 2008.

You can see the Acid2 test here and then check out what it should look like.

Merry Christmas12/25/2007

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night.

Clinton has no idea about Pakistan1/1/2008 12:39:37 PM

Since Bhutto was killed Hillary Clinton said, "[Musharraf] could be the only person on the ballot. I don't think that's a real election."

Except that Musharraf was actually reelected (president) in October, and the upcoming Pakistani elections are parliamentary, not presidential.

Obviously, this lady has no clue.  Lets see how she gets out of this, probably say that she misunderstood the question.

Source at

Iowa Caucus Results1/4/2008 7:30:25 AM

I had a hard time finding the actual running for the Democrats.  I found them plastered all over for Republicans.

But, just so it is in a convenient place...


Obama: 38%
Edwards: 30%
Clinton: 29%


(93% of precincts reporting)
Huckabee: 34%
Romney: 25%
Thompson: 13%
McCain: 13%

I still don't know who I am going to vote for; I don't like any of them.

Experts Exchange Leader1/4/2008 12:43:52 PM

I am leading everyone in the "Programming for ASP.NET" Zone for the year.  That is cool.


EE: Programming for ASP.NET Guru1/8/2008 12:30:00 PM

I have finally leveled up in the Programming for ASP.NET Zone on Expert's Exchange.  With over 150,000 points, I am now a Guru.  In this zone, I am ranked 74th (out of 2700).

Since each question offers a maximum of 2,000 points, that is at least 75 questions answered (but since many of the questions are worth a lot less, it is closer to 150).

JavaScript is a distant second with only 72,889 points.

Overall, I am Wizard rank, with 308,243 points.  That places me 962 out of all the EE members (out of 84,000).

Presidential Primaries and Mitt Romney1/8/2008 6:00:00 PM

I will not vote for Romney because he is a Mormon.  Mormonism is a cult, and having a Mormon president would go very far in legitimizing the religion.  In the end, I need to think about what would best futher the Kingdom of God, and helping a cult loose its "cult" status wouldn't do that.

I am not a bigot, but I am a thinker.

I don't like Huckabee either, and McCain is right out.  So is Giuliani too... where does that leave me.  I guess I will have to hold my nose and vote for Huckabee (soft on crime and illegal immigration, populist, and mildly socialist on redistribution of wealth).

Clinton "Comeback"?1/9/2008 8:00:00 AM

Oh wow, we are into the second "primary" and she wins and it is labeled a comeback?

There are 48 more to go, its not like she came from behind to win... she lost the first one by a lot, and won the second one marginally.  Where the stink are the numbers!!!  It took me five minutes to find them...  Here they are:

Hillary Clinton with 39% of the vote and an estimated 9 delegates;
Barack Obama with 37% of the vote and an estimated 9 delegates;
John Edwards with 17% of the vote and an estimated 4 delegates.

John McCain with 37% of the vote and an estimated 4 delegates;
Mitt Romney with 32% of the vote and an estimated 3 delegates;
Mike Huckabee with 11% of the vote and an estimated 0 delegates.

So, Clinton won by 8,000 votes, not so much a stunning victory.  Oh well.

Now, I said earlier that I don't like McCain, but his victory is more of a comeback... He way down in the polls (4th or worse) for months leading up to this primary.  For him to win it by 5% (15,000 votes) is a solid victory.  But, I still don't think he is going to win.  He only has 10 delegate votes, as opposed to Romney's 30 and Huckabee's 21. is domain squatting.1/9/2008 12:30:00 PM

Do a domain name search on, and have that domain taken.

I went to (not affiliated) and tried to get  It said it was available.  Here is a screenshot:


I went to ( for short) and did the same search.  It said that it is available:


I go back to to buy the domain, it is now taken.


I have attached the WHOIS information to prove that registered the domain:

This Domain is available at
   13681 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 300
   HERNDON, VA 20171

   Domain Name: SOMERANDOMDOMAIN0123456789.COM

   This Domain is Available - Register it Now!
   600,000 domain names are registered daily!
   Don't delay; there's no guarantee that a domain
   name you see today will still be here tomorrow!
   Register it Now at

   Administrative Contact, Technical Contact:
      Network Solutions, LLC
      13681 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 300
      HERNDON, VA 20171
      1-888-642-9675 fax: 571-434-4620

   Record expires on 08-Jan-2009.
   Record created on 08-Jan-2008.
   Database last updated on 8-Jan-2008 16:04:53 EST.

   Domain servers in listed order:

The domain can still be purchased, but only though  This costs $35/year, rather than $15/year at (and even less at some places).

This is causing an outcry on Slashdot, as it should.

Expression Blend1/11/2008 5:12:25 PM

I am trying to learn Silverlight (to stay on the cutting edge).  I am using Microsoft Expression Blend, which is supposed to be the app you use to build these things...  I don't know what MS was thinking!!!  The UI looks nothing like any of their other development tools (it looks like the rest of the "Expression" tools, but this tool is the only one specifically for developers).  I use Visual Studio every day, and moving to this piece of junk is hard.

It isn't just that it looks different (it is grey, which makes it harder to look at for me).  It acts different tool.  Then panels are more like Adobe products (in look and function).  Undo rarely works (and I use that a lot).  It is also slow (not terrible, but response time is obviously slow).

It looks like they combined Flash, Fireworks, Visual Studio, a black marker, and Notepad, together and then put it in a blender and smeared the contents around on the screen.

I have heard that you can build these things in Visual Studio and only use Blend for the actual XAML creation, I am going to look into that.

Btw, XAML is pronounced like camel, except replace the "c" with a "z"... za-mel.

.NET Framework Source Code Available1/17/2008 7:23:01 AM

It's here!!!  You can now step directly into the framework source code while debugging in Visual Studio 2008.

This is a big help for .NET developers.  I have been using Reflector for years to view framework decompiled code, and it is an amazing tool.  Now, I will be able to step right into the source code just as if it were my own.  Also, reflector doesn't know the variable *names* which makes it a little harder to decipher, but the source code does.

Unfortunately, it is not available in the Express editions, which is what I use.

Wii1/29/2008 11:58:27 AM

Well, I saved my Christmas money to buy a Wii.  I have been calling places since the beginning on January, and we were finally able to get one.  Amanda picked it up on Thursday, but we didn't get games until Friday night.

We bought Metriod Prime 3 (which is amazing) and Zelda (which is even more amazing).  Played most of the day Saturday and Sunday (mixed in the five-hour version of Pride and Prejustice).

I have to say, I am really impressed with Zelda.

We haven't even used the second controller yet since we have been so busy playing single-player games.

NPR "Fact Check"1/29/2008 12:51:54 PM

I was listening to NPR this morning, and they had a State of the Union Fact Check.  They gathered their reporters together to cover the different aspects of the speech: economy, healthcare, war, etc.

Well, it was funny.  Because the primary interviewer would say "Lets talk about what Bush said about the economy..." and then quote something he said.  Then the reporter would say something like "Yes and no."  Basically confirming that what Bush said was right and then going on to explain why he is still a moron.

I kept thinking to myself, "I thought this was suppose to be a fact check."  Appearently there was nothing wrong with his facts, so they decided to aire their opinions about the matter.

Nice job there NPR.

You can read an expanded version of what I heard on the radio at NPR: State of the Union Fact Check.  Notice that the "Analyst" rarely disputes what Bush says, but then goes on to explain why it "isn't enough" or is "too late".

Last time I checked, a fact check checks the facts, and that is all.

Also, I find it *very* interesting that hasn't posted anything regarding the State of the Union speech.  This is the kind of thing they would be all over.

Primary Voting1/29/2008 12:56:42 PM

Well it is primary election day.  As mentioned eariler, I am going to vote for Huckabee.

I also intend on voting for the opponent of Donna Hart for mayor of St. Cloud.

Clinton: Slow down our economy.1/31/2008 1:45:26 PM

First Gentleman-to-be Bill Clinton said the other day that we need to slow down our economy to cut greenhouse gasses.

There's a good one.  Especially as we look down the barrel of recession.

Here is a video clip.

Happy Birthday Mandy2/12/2008 8:16:04 AM

Today is my wife's birthday.

She never reads my blog, but I'll say happy birthday anyway.

Effective Evangelism2/12/2008 12:45:05 PM

How do you get people to come to church, and keep coming?
A) Tell them they will go to Hell if they don't.
B) Have the worship service be experiential, and don't preach about things that make people feel bad.
C) Offer events for the community to come to so they can see that Christianity is fun and rewarding.
D) Care about the hurting people.  Create programs which help people with issues that they are actually facing.  Invest in people for more than an evening "outreach event".  Provide continuing instruction on how to be a disciple.

I would say the answer is D.  I have been saying this for years.  Why would someone come to church if the church provides nothing that cannot be had from the World?  I think most churches are stuck at C.  They provide opportunities for members to invite non-Christians to an event so they can see that it is not scary.  This *might* lead to a conversion.  But even if it does, why would they stay?

They wouldn't.

The church has got to figure this out.  Discipleship... Discipleship... Discipleship...  I want to go in front of the church and do this, but replace "Developers" with "Discipleship" (and not sweat so much).

I was reading an entry on Arron Chamber's blog.  I saw question #3 and it spurred this post.

"We tried to make each program so effective that church members would find it easy to invite others to come and participate. This included the worship service as well as support groups, sports activities, children’s ministry, etc."

I think the operative word is program (which is why I underlined it).  I am not looking for feel good things (like a Christmas Cantata).  I am looking for ways to get the world to connect to the church *on the church's terms*.  I am not contradicting Paul, I am saying that rather than look to the world for ideas and "re-implement" them, do what the church does: love.

And I am not talking about love like providing food to hungry people (even though we should do that), or going around the local neighborhood telling people the good news (and we should do that too).  I am talking about love like: "You are hurting and we can help, but not help for today, but for years to come.  It won't be easy for you or me, but we can work this out together."

I feel that the church is all for the one-off event.  "Lets go down to BASIC tonight and give food to the homeless."  That is all well and good, and I am not knocking it.  But lets actually invest ourselfs.  Let's say, "Let's create a program where the men in our church will invest in for years and years to help the children of single mothers."  This isn't something you can just put on an event one day a month, this is something you actually need to be involved in.

Maybe the church just needs to care more...

Puerto Rico Primary2/14/2008 10:13:55 AM

Did you know the Puerto Rico has a Primary?  They have 14 delegates. Click here for proof.

Also, it looks like a few other American territories do as well.  I don't know why, but this just rubs me the wrong way.

Is there any reason for these places to ever become states?!

Clinton is expecting to win PU's delegates.

Installing a custom SSIS Task2/19/2008 11:25:20 AM

The DLL file needs to be placed in two folders.  The first is:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\90\DTS\Tasks

After it it there, install it in the GAC.  To do so, run this command:

gacutil /i filename.dll

Since it is going into the GAC, it needs to be strongly typed.

You do not need to restart the IDE after moving the file into the correct directory.  Just right click the Toolbox and choose "Choose Items..." and click "SSIS Custom Flow Items".

This is for my future reference.

Cannot drag icons in Windows XP2/21/2008 12:52:19 PM

I have had this problem several times in my life.  I cannot drag and drop icons, especially files.  This is really annoying.

It only seems to happen after a lot of memory is used, the shell just starts acting up.

Anyway, I have found that by modifying the registry, you can get the functionality back.


Before, the value was "PSFactorBuffer".  I changed it and the drag and drop started working immediately (no reboot required).

Cleartype Contrast Settings2/26/2008 7:34:43 AM

I use Cleartype, and I love it.  Not only does it anti-alias the text, it can also make it bolder and much easier to read.

Now, every once in a while I will notice a graphic problem, which, after further research, ends up requiring updated graphic drivers.  When I install the drivers, it looks like Cleartype is disabled... but it isn't.  The text is still anti-aliased, but it is no longer bold.  It is thin and hard to read (for me, because I am used to it being bolder).

It is so hard for me to read that I usually end up uninstalling the drivers and just living with the original graphic problem.

Well, I have been using SSIS (Sql Server Integration Services) for doing my data loads.  Often, the borders around the tasks will disappear, which makes it hard to use.  I could live with it, but it isn't right.  Turns out that I needed to update my graphics.  So I did... and Cleartype went thin on me again.

Since I need to have SSIS working, I was just going to suck it up with Cleartype.  But I searched the web and found out that Cleartype is more than a boolean switch... there are contrast settings which can only be modified in an "advanced mode".  The Microsoft Typography site has a page which allows you to modify those settings.

So, I went there and used the ClearType Tuner, and "voila!", I get my bolded Cleartype back.

For some reason, Cleartype contrast settings get reset if I use the "DisablePagingExecutive" registry setting discussed here.

Richard Dawkins Regurgitates Old Attacks3/7/2008 12:17:54 PM

Richard Dawkins said that most Christians believe that the Earth is only 6000 years old... and that it is from the Bible.

Nobody I know believes this... and I have never read a case for this (other than the original calculation, which was several hundred years ago).

That being said, most people do think it is less than 10,000 years old.  But that is not 6,000, and it isn't from the Bible.

Listen to the interview (which hasn't aired yet, but is online).  It sounds like it is just an interview to get his new book noticed.  Oh well.

Perhaps it isn't the environment for it, but I noticed that he gives very little evidence for what he says.  There are lots of unsupported claims and killing of strawmen.  It is pretty much just an opportunity for him to talk about what he believes rather than why/how.  It would have been better as a debate.

I always love when atheists say that we "invoke" God to explain things that we don't understand... like alchemists in medieval times.  Someone should tell him that there are real scientists who have no problem reconciling this issue, he should at least listen to them.

Internet Explorer 83/7/2008 12:54:43 PM

In case you haven't heard (and it doesn't appear to be a big news event), IE8 Beta 1 has been released.  I am installing it now.

This will be the most standards-compliant version of IE ever, and I look forward to it... as long as it doesn't break my sites :-)

It is also supposed to pass the ACID2 test.

IE8 Impressions3/7/2008 3:48:08 PM

Well, it looks good, and works alright.  There appear to be a few rendering issues on my GIS mapping sites.

Also, accessing the "rows" property on a table object in JavaScript throws an odd "Unexpected call to method or property access."  I have seen this before in IE5.  I don't know the actual problem, nor do I see a way around it.  I hope that this is simply a bug or un-finished aspect of the engine.

All said, it is a step up from IE7, but it isn't a leap.  It is still behind Firefox.  For example, FF has spellchecking inside the textarea boxes, this version of IE doesn't.  Not to say that they cannot add more features, but new features usually don't come in the betas, just bug fixes.

Also, the Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar is not supported... but that is ok because pressing Shift+F12 will bring up an equivilant screen.  They say right out that it doesn't have the same functionality, but it looks like they intend to build a Firebug-like Add-in, that would be amazing.

I am probably going to uninstall this and go back, wait for Beta 2.

Oh, and it does pass the Acid2 test right out of the box.

Shuttle Launch3/11/2008 12:00:58 PM

Mandy and I went to the Cape last night to watch the 2:28 AM launch of Endeavor.  I haven't seen a night launch on the coast in years, but I have seen them, and they are amazing.  The entire sky lights up as if the sun were up.  It is kinda wierd to see one half of the sky completely lit, and turn around to pitch darkness.

It was a great night for it, just a little cold and not much of a breeze (on the beach)... except for the cloud cover.

The shuttle launched right on time, we saw the sky light up, we saw it rise over the buildings, then we saw it enter the cloud and go dark.  So much for the amazing night-launch.

At least we can be grateful that it launched at all.  It is scrubbed so often that we rarely consider going to watch it.

Got back at 4:15 in the morning and went to bed. :-)

Fact: Garfield without Garfield is Funnier3/17/2008 12:37:10 PM

What happens if you take Garfield out of Garfield?

Bible Study Textbook Series3/19/2008 12:27:02 PM

College Press has released this multi-volume set of Bible Studio Textbooks for free.  They don't want to go though the cost of a re-print, so they just released the PDF files.

It is about 1.35GB of PDF files, have fun with that one.  They didn't compress well either, so it is going to be large even if it is zipped up (1.35GB on max compression).

Based on the pages per megabyte, I roughly estimate it at 33,000 pages total.

Obtain it now.

Texas Trip4/14/2008 12:35:06 AM

Mandy and I went to Texas last week to visit some of her family.  It takes about 18 hours to drive it (taking Ι-10).  We stopped at a hotel the first night (which was full of migrant workers who were up honking their horns and breaking beer bottles until after 3:00AM).  We decided to push through on the way home and did it in one day.

Anyway, it was great fun.  They own a cattle ranch and I helped a bit (building a fence and moving equipment).  I got to use an acetylene torch and ride a horse.

We brought the Wii as well, and that was interesting.  Amanda's grandma set the overall high score for bowling the Wii, she throws straight as an arrow.

My wife's cousin opened a Quiznos as few months ago, so we went and ate there.  We also ate at the local BBQ and steak places.

It is funny because the default speed limit outside a municipality is 70MPH.  So, even though the nearest cities are dozens of miles away, it only takes about 30-45 minutes to get to them.

One very fun thing was the "safari" which is like a giant petting zoo.  You drive your truck though it and feed the animals.  There were goats, deer, buffalo, pigs, zebras, llamas, and a whole bunch of other animals.

We also went hunting on their property after dark.  They have to kill the hogs because they tear up the grass (and when your business is feeding cows, you don't want things eating the grass), and coyotes because they kill cows.  There are deer as well, but they don't shoot them because they are not a bother (my cousin will, but my uncle doesn't).  Also, interestingly enough, it is actually illegal to kill a deer after dark.

East Texas is nothing like what you picture when you think of Texas.  It is actually more like Florida, full of pastures and pine forests (but no palm trees), it isn't until you get into west or south Texas that you get tumbleweed and desert.

Phenylephrine vs. Pseudoephedrine4/16/2008 7:39:32 AM

Ever since I started taking phenylephrine instead of pseudoephedrine, I have noticed that it barely works.  I figured that it was just me (medicines don't affect everyone in the same way, my wife is unmoved by Benadryl).  But it looks like UF researches have concluded that phenylephrine may be no more effective than a placebo.

As anecdotal evidence: I had terrible sinus problems a few weeks ago, I kept taking medicine with phenylephrine, but it just wasn't helping.  So, I went to Publix and got a generic nasal decongestant with pseudoephedrine, and I was cleared up within the hour.

For me, it is worth the trouble of asking the pharmacist for pseudoephedrine.

Mandy found a cheap bottle of pseudoephedrine with over 100 pills at Costco, so she got that. It works great; I should be good to go for several years.  However, the pills don't contain acetaminophen (like most nasal decongestants), so I have to take it separately.

Expelled: Exposed Website4/21/2008 12:54:59 PM

I haven't seen the movie yet, am I am not posting to talk about it.

I am posting to shed some light on a website dedicated to countering Expelled's claims.  Some of there rebuttals may be valid (they appear to be mostly ad-homenim attacks), but at least one is a sham.

Rebuttal of Michael Egnor.

From what I gather, MIchael Egnor is a physican who told high schoolers that the study of evolution is not required/important for typical medical practice -- that is to say, your family doctor is not handicapped by not studying it.  This is something that I have figured for a long time, but I am not a doctor.  I have never heard my doctor say explain anything in evolutionary terms, but that is just me.

Anyway, this "rebuttal" is consists of another doctor saying that Michael Egnor was out of line, not because his argument is wrong, but because: evolution is prevailing theory among scientists, and therefore if you disagree you are, ipso facto, wrong.

They defined him as wrong because they defined evolution as correct.  That doesn't sound like science to me.

And to make matters worse, this website posts a bunch of high schooler essays about "why my doctor should know about evolution".  As if their *opinions* matter.

This reference is actually a good thing though, it shows just how much dogma teachers are shoving down the kids throats these days.  The first essay (which was the national winner) was a collection of mis-truths, put downs (talking about creationists hijacking the term "microevolution", I don't think that has a place in a scholarly essay), and unsubstantiated facts.  I particularly liked the opening argument, "Evolution is so ingrained in medicine that every doctor should have studied it."  Wow.  Now that would be a topic worth investigating.  But it is just taken as truth at the beginning of the paper and not supported in the document.

Maybe I am just expecting too much because I was always required to... you know... cite sources, and point to relevant evidence, and all the other stuff they teach at bible college.

Alliance for Science4/21/2008 1:12:29 PM

This is from The Alliance for Science: 2007 National High School Essay Contest.

I just read the second essay.  I thought that, since it is from a 12th grader, it would be better.  It was worse.

I cannot believe this passes for 1) good writing, 2) good science writting.  These papers were specifically for AP Biology, not English, yet the informality of the papers amaze me.

This one cites no sources whatsoever, which should get any science paper thrown out.  On top of that, it talks about why her doctor should know about Darwinian evolution.  I think someone should point out to here that very few people buy into Darwin's specific brand anymore.  He was debunked decades ago.  Now we have neo-Darwinism (Darwinism mixed with genetics (which was discovered and studied by creationists)).

Most of her reasons for the doctor knowing evolution really boil down to reasons why her doctor should understand genetics.  They have nothing to do with evolution -- things like, sickle-cell amenia preventing malaria, and HIV virus "evolving", and studing generational inherited diseases.  None of these things require evolution to explain them... they require genetics.  And I am pretty sure her doctor studies that.

I particularlly liked, "Some creationists argue that each time a mutation occurs information is lost, but this argument does not hold against evidence. The classic example is that of HIV and the “cocktail” drugs used to treat it. When a single drug was used for treatment, the virus would multiply so quickly and mutate that it would become resistant to the new drug very quickly. Information was not ‘lost,’ but rather manipulated by the virus to create an adaptation. The only way to combat the effects of the virus is to use a variety of drugs so that the virus cannot adapt as easily to the numerous drugs attacking it."

Someone should tell her that (as far as I have heard) the virus 1) never changed into a different type of virus, 2) did not become more advanced.

It is not against the Intelligent Design rules for an organism's genetic structure to change... just that changes do not cause the organism to jump to a different kind of organism altogether.  This all presupposes that the genetic structure did, in fact, change.  From what I understand, there was already a smaller sub-population of HIV that had this mutation (allowing it to survive the drugs), and when the non-resistant strains died the ratio of the "mutated" HIV became higher.  The virus did not mutate *in response* to its environment.  The viruses that were resistant did not change, they just became more abundant.

Either way, I think information was lost... namly, the information for how to create itself in the original way.  It is "heady" I know, but I think we can expect our students to understand this.

Rice Futures4/23/2008 8:49:58 AM

Forget oil futures, looks like it is the time to invest in rice.

The cost of rice has doubled last year.  It is near record highs.

You can see the trend.

I am not entirely sure how you invest in rice (I know it is done, I just don't know the process).  But you could probably talk to your stock broker (if you have one).

I have never personally invested in anything.  But I used to work for a stock promotion company, so I know a thing or two.

Busy Weekend4/28/2008 11:56:07 AM

My wife and I worked out how to install shutters on the clubhouse, and went and bought all the hardware we are going to need to finish it.

We also went and saw 10,000 B.C. (which was very clean, but full of mysticism).

We spent Sunday afternoon indoor rock climbing with the youth group.  My arms are sore.

Rock climbing is definitely a sport I could get into.  Jonathan spent 20 minutes getting to the top of a wall that nobody could get even half way up.

Banana Spider4/29/2008 12:37:26 AM

The banana spider is Nephila clavipes (Nephila coming from two greek words: νεν (to spin) and πηιλος (to love), it literally means lover of spinning).  It is mildly venomous to humans, causing only pain and redness at the bite site.

They reform portions of the web daily.  With a tensile strength of 4x109 N/m, each strand of the web exceeds that of steel by a factor of six!

Source: Wikipedia.

Levy County Property Appraiser5/1/2008 1:09:48 PM

Just helping Google along, it needs to associate it with Levy County Property Appraiser.  And the LCPA office.

This is a public service announcement.

Judah Tangshing5/7/2008 9:10:36 AM

I am sure you have heard about the cyclone (hurricane) in Myanmar (formerly Burma).  At least 20,000 dead with another 40,000+ missing.  Our church supports a missionary there.

I just read on Arron Chamber's blog that Judah is safe:

"We are safe by His protection and mercy. At cyclone night, we were frightened alot, it was the worst disaster in histroy in Myanmar. Countless lost their homes and over a thousand lives lost their lives.

After four days, the phone starts ringing and I can email you, but electric does not come yet."

Praise the Lord, too bad they aren't letting international relief in.

Fort Raising5/12/2008 6:21:07 AM

We built the parts of the fort (clubhouse) in my garage over the last few months.  Saturday, we took the floor and walls outside and set them up.  It looks awesome!!!

I just need to build the door and finish the roof (which is made of tarp).

ArtFile.bin5/13/2008 6:31:28 PM

Joe asked me to take a look at the ArtFile.bin file which stores image resources for MacOS X.

I don't have a Mac, so I don't really care, but I figured that I would help "the community".

I have posted my results at  The description and header information were already there.  I cleaned them up and added a bunch more information.

In my opinion, it is harder to describe the header than anything else, so my hat is off to whoever started the Wiki page.

Cyclone5/14/2008 6:24:49 AM

Cyclone is a generic term for a large mass of rotating air.

The storm that hit "Myanmar, also known as Burma" was Cyclone_Nargis which, from what I can tell, was a Category 4 hurricane (based on a 3-minute wind speed reading, one minute readings indicate Cat 2).

I find it strange that when hurricanes hit places we are always told the strength and name.  With this one, it is only "the cyclone" with no more information.  Not even "tropical cyclone".  There are many types of cyclones, even tornados are cyclones.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption5/14/2008 8:30:14 AM

I beat Metroid on the Wii Wednesday night.  Overall, the game is not as hard as I expected.

I am quite disappointed that enhanced weapons does not increase your killing power.  Even at the end of the game, it still takes the same number of shots to kill the creatures that you encounter at the beginning of the game.

New guns enhancements only increase the number of things they can shoot at, not the power of the gun overall.

Also, I was mislead by Hypermode.  My reading indicated that you should use Hypermode sparingly, but in the end I realized that there is no penalty for using it as often as you want.  The only reason not to use it is the insane amount of energy it consumes.

The graphics are amazing, the best I have seen on any game for a Wii (although, Zelda's are amazing too, but in a different way).  This game proves that the Wii is a solid gaming console, and with the Wiimote, can be an incredible platform for first person shooters.

The lack of any kind of multiplayer mode is disappointing... however, since there are so few weapon upgrades, it would probably not be as fun as Halo et al.

It took me ~24 hours to beat it, but it is a lot quicker than Zelda (at ~80 hours).  I could probably beat it again in about 15 hours.

Abstract Class vs. Interface5/23/2008 10:14:50 AM

One of the interview questions I always ask is, "Which do you prefer, abstract base classes or interfaces?  Are there any problems with interfaces?"

Usually, the person goes on to tell me what each is.  But what I am really after is issues that come with interfaces (hence the second part of the question).

For me, abstract classes are the way to go.  They do not suffer from versioning issues.  That is to say, if I simply add a new method to my interface, I am requiring all developers to implement it (even if they don't use it).  This means they cannot use the "latest" version of a dll unless they modify and recompile their source code.

Here is a Microsoft C# designer's take on it:

Ingenuity of Fools5/27/2008 12:44:11 PM

When I was in high school, one of my favorite phrases was, "You can never make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious."

Looks like the actual quote is: "A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof was to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." ~ Douglas Adams

Of course, you only move from fool to expert by breaking a system and reflecting on what you did.

You can substitute "fool" for "a person who doesn't understand the system", or one cup sugar at 17,000 feet.

Generic Parameter Marker5/28/2008 9:14:41 AM

SqlClient uses the "@" symbol to indicate a parameter, OracleClient uses the ":" symbol. will not convert it automatically.

So, how do you do it?  Well, it isn't pretty but here is one method:  It only tells you how to get the marker, it is your job to use it.

I don't like that, but it works.

Price of oil rising?5/28/2008 12:13:51 PM

It is a little known secret that the value of oil IS NOT RISING.  I actually wish it were, that would be better news than the actual news.

The price is rising in US dollars... because the US dollar is loosing value.  Every day when you hear reports that oil has hit a record high, that isn't the story.  Those days, the dollar hits a low... *that* is the story.  The dollar cannot buy as much oil, so the cost of oil goes up relative to the value of the dollar.

The price of oil is not rising much at all when compared to the EURO, this is because oil is not gaining value.  If oil really were becoming more valuable (as a commodity), then it would be more expensive to buy in any currency... but it isn't.

Here is a chart that shows that oil, gold, and the euro, all track at a consistant rate.  The dollar, on the other hand, is almost inversely proportional to all of them:

As far as I can tell, all the reasons you hear on the news for why oil jumps day to day (things like, "Oil prices hit a new high amid worries about Iran/Turkey relations.") are all garbage.  Oil prices are tracking inversely with the dollar and don't appear to be affected by world events.  On the same day, the dollor hits a record low, the euro a record high, and oil a record high, but the news reports some crazy reason why oil rose.

Why is this important?  Because American's are loosing buying power on all goods.  A dollar just doesn't buy as much as it used to in the global economy.  It has lower "value" (value is a technical term). This goes for things you wouldn't even think about, like interest rates.

The fact that we are being mislead into thinking oil is skyrocketing has a few consequences:

1) We think we need to conserve fuel to reduce demand for oil (thereby reducing price, this is economics 101).  However, since it isn't high demand that is causing the high prices, reducing demand won't fix the problem that much.

2) We think that asking OPEC to produce more will help (increase supply, which reduces the price).  However, since it isn't low supply, this won't help much either.

Now, tapping a local supply will help because then there is no monetary conversion, so it really would lower the price.

Why is the dollar loosing value?  I am not an economist, so I don't know.  I have a guess though: the fed lowering interest rates to "help the mortgage crisis".

Lowering the interest rate helps people with variable rate mortgages.  However, since it costs less to borrow money, the value of money is lessened.

This *is* inflation.  The fed needs to raise interest rate.  That makes money harder to borrow, therefore more scarce, therefore higher in value.

But, our economy is not doing that well, so we need to fake it by keeping interest rates low.  We borrow cheap money to "spur the economy" (read: credit cards, etc).  Since spending (in general) helps the economy, it looks like we are doing well.  But at the end of the day, that was borrowed money, and it will need to be repayed -- at which point people stop non-essential spending.  Drasticly lowered spending will result in a "crash" (I don't know the technical term).

As a nation we are doing this with other countries, which is why you hear about a "trade deficit" between us and China.  We buy Chinese goods on credit... and that credit is often from foreign countries.

Sorry for the rant, I probably could have cleaned it up some.

UD Collect Greasemonkey Script5/29/2008 10:26:49 AM

I am working on a Greasemonkey script to collect and aggregate data from the Urban Dead online game.

Currently, all data is manually collected and aggregated on the wiki site.  I hope this script will greatly reduce the amount of work needed to keep people up to date.

I will post a link to it after it is finished beta testing.  I am recruiting people to test it, if you are interested, please contact me via my contact form.

Evangelism is a hate crime in Britian6/4/2008 12:55:57 PM

Police officer told two preachers, who were handing out brochures in a Muslim neighborhood, that they were committing a hate crime by trying to convert people from Islam.  He also said that if they come back and get beat up, that they were warned.

Article in the Telegraph

Do I need to give commentary?  I didn't think so.

What Would MacGuyver Do?6/6/2008 5:46:33 AM

Nuf said.

D-Day Anniversary6/6/2008 10:11:47 AM

I just heard on Rush Limbaugh's show that today is D-Day.  I didn't know that, and it is insane that, as much as I listen to the radio, that I didn't hear it sooner.

425,000 men died during the invasion of Normandy, nearly half were Allied troops.

Compare that to the ~4,000 deaths in Iraq.  Wow, what a loss of life, and that was just one battle!

Now, move over to Japan.  Imaging that we had to invade there rather than drop "the bomb".  Millions of lives would have been lost.  Remember that when someone scorns Americans for dropping them.

Verbage6/9/2008 6:09:44 AM

You keep using that word, I do not thinks it means what you think it means.

Prediction about Oil Prices6/11/2008 5:20:49 AM

If the Federal Reserve increases the interest rate, I predict that the price of oil will fall.  The more they increase it, the more it will fall.

This prediction is based on my hypothesis that the low value of the dollar is causing high oil prices.

In other news, I heard a guy on NPR that I actually agree with.  Then I found out that he is the Financial Editor for the Wall Street Journal (which I hear is mostly conservative).

I would like to hear what that guy said.

On a related note.  You better kiss that dollar / low oil prices if Obama gets elected.  Dem pres + Dem cognress = Nation In the Toilet - Joe @ 6/22/2008 10:27:57 AM

What Recession?6/12/2008 12:29:22 PM

"Resession" is a technical term.  It is defined as: "a recession occurs when real growth is negative for two or more successive quarters of a year".  The US defines it a little more clearly, but it is much more technical.  The main point, though, is that it is a significant decline in economic activity for an extended period of time.  It cannot be a few months, it has to be more like six.

Funny thing is, you *cannot* know you are in a recession until you are in it for months.  They didn't announce the recession that started in March 2001 until late November 2001... at which point we were heading out of it.

NPR has been reporting for the past six months that we were already in a recession, or that one was looming.  That is interesting since we didn't even know about the last one until we were in it seven months!

Sure, NPR is really just a regurgitation of major news outlets.  Many of their stories are from the New York Times.  But I think this is part of a systematic attempt to undermine any hope in the future.  Since we generally peg the blame for a poor economy on the President, this is good for them to do just before the election.

It also helps push massive government spending... like this insane "economic stimulius package".  Give me a break.

Anyway, I ask, where is this recession?  If we had really been in a recession when NPR started saying we were in one, we would probably know it by now.  Rather, unemployement is low (it has risen some, but it is still very low), sales are high (but that is because so much of it is on credit), and the GDP continues to experience growth.

AAA6/30/2008 7:01:25 AM

Mandy and I decided to join AAA this year.  It cost somewhere around $65/year.  We have already used the lockout service twice, which means it has more than paid for itself.

Josh locked himself out of the church van (with it running) on our way up to CIY.  And I just locked myself out this morning.

It would cost at least $70 to have a locksmith come out.  That means I have saved $5 personally, and a bunch for the church (it was on a Sunday, I am sure that would have cost more than $70).

Anyway, I am in the wrong business.  Occasionally, I do computer consultation for $65/70 an hour, and I spend the full hour.  These guys get paid roughly that amount, and it takes them all of 30 seconds.

I would like to get AAA, but the times I have locked myself out, re-entry was achieved by the use of a coat hanger or my spare key.  But I like that you can use it on someone else's car as long as you are there (or something like that).  As for the $70, the locksmith has to go through training, buy a franchise license (or start his own company) and buy all of the equipment.  It is similar to how mechanics operate (who have to buy the special tools and such to work on your foreign car).  In addition, there are fuel and insurance costs as well as the time cost for driving to the location.  All that aside, I am sure the up front costs can be recouped over several months. - Joe @ 6/30/2008 7:58:29 AM

NMSAccessU Removal7/2/2008 10:05:36 AM

I installed CDBurnerXP on my machine, and then I noticed a new program in Task Manager: NMSAccessU.exe.  It was running under SYSTEM, so I know I didn't start it.

Turns out that it is a system service installed by CDBurnerXP, which provides CD/DVD access for any user under NT/XP/2000 regardless of Security Policies.

It is for machines which are locked down by Administrators, but whose Administrators want to allow CD burning (only an Administrator can install it, so it isn't a hack).

Anyway, I have no need for this.  To remove it, simply stop the service (from the Services MMC under Administrative Tools), and then go to the installation directory.  Mine was C:\Program Files\CDBurnerXP\.  Run the following:

NMSAccessU.exe -remove

Finished Three Musketeers7/7/2008 12:09:47 PM

Mandy and I just finished The Three Musketeers by Dumas.  It was very good, and I recommend it.

We are starting on The Man in the Iron Mask, which is actually part three of the Musketeer trilogy (separated by Twenty Years After -- which we haven't read, and don't plan on reading).

Fixed Garage Door Opener7/7/2008 12:36:03 PM

I got home from CIY to find my garage door opener broken.  Pressing the button just resulted in a grinding noise.

I opened up the opener to find that the worm drive had been messed up (the worm chewed up the worm gear).

I called a garage door repair company, and they said it would cost around $175 to fix it.  I decided to look online to see how much the parts cost and if I could do it myself.

Turns out that this is a common problem, and the parts are available.  I cannot remember where, but I bought the kit for $25.

I spent about 5 hours Friday morning tearing apart the opener.  It took about 1 hour to get it all unhooked and apart.  I replaced the worm gear in about 1 hour.  The worm itself is attached to the motor, which was a much more complicated repair process.  I was going to just leave the existing gear (since it was fine), but I read that if you don't change both then they won't meld correctly, and it will just eat the new one.

So, I spent another two to three hours getting that stupid thing out (I don't have a hex wrench set, so I spent around 45 minutes just thinking about how to get around that minor problem.  I ended up asking my neighbor if I could borrow his).  I really need to get a set.

Then I put it all back together, but the chain was all tangled (ever had to untangle 30 feet of chain while standing on a ladder?  Didn't think so.), so that took me another hour.  Just as I was finishing up, we had to leave to see Wall-E (which was very good), so I didn't finish it until Saturday.

So, I saved $150, but it cost be about 6 hours of time.  But, I think that it was worth it.  Now I should use my new talent and start doing garage door opener repair.

Wii: Sonic and the Secret Rings7/8/2008 12:06:43 PM

We bought Sonic and the Secret Rings on Thursday in anticipation of the long weekend.

The game is alright, it isn't great.  It is fun though.  A few complaints: whoever created the menu system UI should be fired.  It is like nobody did a final review of the navigation.  The function of the (1) and (2) buttons changes throughout the game -- usually (2) is "OK" or "Confirm", but there are a few places where (1) becomes confirm and (2) is "Back".  Very annoying.

Also, there is a "party mode", which lets you play with up to four players.  The games are nothing spectacular.  The annoying thing is that if you don't have four players, the computer fills in the spots, some of the games are based on memory... and playing against the computer is not that fun (if you get what I mean).

Also, after looking at the graphics and the menu system, I honestly thought that it was just a port of a older Sega game, just modified for the Wii.  Rather than pointing at the screen to select game options, you have to use the D-pad.  But, according to the Wikipedia page, this game was developed specifically for the Wii.  Someone needs to go talk to the company that developed Metroid Prime 3, or Zelda.

I don't recommend this game.  Rent it for a weekend, but don't buy it.

Florida Christian College Wikipedia Entry7/8/2008 1:09:51 PM

I was checking the revision history of FCC's wiki entry.  Guess what, I am the original creator.  The IP address of the first entry is which is the IP of my old employer.

Anyway, I think I will clean it up some.

I am pretty sure I spelled the greek motto wrong, but is close enough.  Hopefully someone will fix it: Δυνατός ων εν ταις Γραφαις.

My IP address is

Spark Plug Blowout7/9/2008 12:54:07 PM

This must be the month of broken stuff.

Driving home last Thursday, my car starting making a puffing sound.  I pulled off the road and checked out the engine, and couldn't figure it out.  I called my dad, but he was not able to diagnose the sound thought the phone (oddly enough :)).  I hoped it was just related to a pre-existing tear in my air intake hose, but re-applying the duct tape did not fix the problem.  Then I hoped it might be a vacuum leak, but couldn't find any evidence of that.  Then I feared it was an exhaust manifold leak or bad cylinder.

I drove it home (down the Turnpike at 45 MPH).  It sounded like I was driving a lawnmower.  I popped the hood and moved my hand around to feel for air.  There was an emmence amount of air being puffed out of the top (very bad).  I noticed a very clean spot around the 2nd cylinder (where the puffs of air had blown off the grime on the head).

So, I took the coil off and soon found the problem.  The spark plug had been foribly blown out of the head.  All of the threads on the head were gone, and the force of the compressed air had forced the spark plug so far up the coil boot that it tore it.

I have never heard of such a thing, so I started worrying that this would mean a new head or something.  That is hundreds of dollars for the part, and hundreds more for the labor.

Turns out, there is a procedure which involves drilling out the hole and installing a "Helicoil", which essentially snaps into the larger hole and provides threads for the spark plug (I know about the concept of drilling and tapping, but that is not an option for the head because it needs to have the same size spark plug).

The mechanic finished the same day.  Wow.  And it only cost $200, which is way cheaper than a new head.

Video: Positive Concepts7/10/2008 12:57:18 PM

To the tune of "Favorite Things", this is one of the light hearted videos from CIY: MOVE.

No CIY Wikipedia Entry!?7/10/2008 1:01:28 PM

I am shocked!  CIY does not have a page in Wikipedia.  You would think, with tens of thousands of people attending their event *each year*, someone would have posted a page by now.

On top of that, they have many tech-savvy employees/interns.  This is crazy.

Anyway, I don't have time to write the stub for it right now, but I intend on doing something by the end of the week.

Fix Failure: Lawn Mower7/15/2008 11:50:52 AM

The chassis of my lawn mower rusted away.  Therefore, the engine was just sitting on top of it.  Not good.

Amazingly, my neighbor had his lawn mower on the side of the road to throw it away.  I asked him if I could have it, and he said sure.  The main bearing was broken, which means the engine wouldn't start.  But that doesn't matter for me because I have a perfectly fine engine.

I lined up the bolts on his chassis with mine, and it was a perfect fit.  All I needed to do is take the bolts (which weren't holding anything now) off, put my engine on his chassis, and then bolt it all back.

But alas, I could not get the rusted bolts off my engine.  Wrenches, vice-grips, hammer, etc, wouldn't work.  I ended up stripping the bolt.

So, that was a waste of time.  I ended up going and buying a new lawn mower (the mower we had was given to us four years ago, so we are still up on the investment).

From what I can tell, I needed to use a 12mm socket to get them off. But, I only have a standard socket set.  I am usually able to use them anyway as long as the bolts are not already damaged.  Using it on these bolts just made the problem worse.

Why haven't you bought a metric socket set yet?

It would have been a lot cheaper than a new mower and you'd use them again for something else. - John @ 8/4/2009 8:29:25 AM

Thanks for the steak, GW.7/16/2008 12:37:30 PM

Amanda and I went to LongHorn last night, courtesy of the federal government.

Mmmm, mmm, love those ribs.

For me, personally, it is great to get this money back.  But, I have two big problems with it.

1) Everyone who paid more than (x) number of dollars in taxes should get (x) back.  Since it is reduced based on income over $75,000, "the rich" don't get back the full $600.  Even if you made $500,000, you should get back the full $600.  To not do so is unfair.

3) If you didn't even pay $600 in taxes, you should not get one cent back.  That, my friends, is redistribution of wealth.

Getting Windows Prefetch Cache Back7/17/2008 1:50:21 PM

Getting Windows Prefetch Cache Back

I stupidly followed all the articles that said deleting the Windows prefetch folder would speed up my computer.

It does not.  The prefetch cache only contains disk layout information for an application, it does not tell Windows XP to "prefetch" those program into memory.

It is used by the application startup code to efficiently load the file image off the disk and into memory.

I deleted the directory, and then decided it was a bad idea.  Everything I read said it would just come back.. but it didn't.  It didn't for weeks.

I have finally figured out what is wrong.  Oddly enough, I could not find anything by doing Google searches.

Anyway, in my HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Dfrg\BootOptimizeFunction, there is an OptimizeComplete value, and a OptimizeError value.  If OptimizeComplete says "No" then the OptimizeError tells you what is wrong (supposedly).  For me, it was a cryptic error saying "Insufficient Resources".  I figured out that there can be a log file attached to the defragmenter (which helps the prefetcher), I enabled the log file and it said "Initialising BootOptimise. Out of memory" and then "BootOptimise region uninitialised (not boot volume?)".

Neither of these errors are accurate, or made sense.  It turns out that Task Scheduler must be enabled for the Prefetch cache to be re-initialized.  I had it disabled because I never use it.  I started it back up, ran rundll32.exe advapi32.dll,ProcessIdleTasks (which runs defrag c: -b), and my prefetch cache came back immediately.  And, the error in the registry went away as well.

Why do they give such meaningless error messages?  Perhaps it is because they don't expect anyone to actually look where I looked (or enable the defrag log, which I found buried in a MS document).

I tell you what, I sure have noticed a speed increase by having the prefetch cache back!

The author is correct in saying that cleaning the prefetch folder will impair performance. But calling it a cache is very misleading. Contrary to popular opinion, prefetch does NOT preload applications (or any portion of them) at boot time. Prefetch files are used to OPTIMIZE application launch times. They are referenced only after application launch has been initiated. Unused or rarely used entries will have virtually no impact on performance, even if in large numbers. In any event the folder is self cleaning after 128 entries. Manual deletion of these files will deprive Windows of this valuable resource leading to longer application launch times and has NO benefits.


Larry Miller
Microsoft MCSA - Larry Miller @ 8/10/2008 9:25:33 PM

Wisdom Teeth Removed7/22/2008 8:39:41 AM

I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed last Friday.  Amanda is taking great care of me.  Make sure, on your checklist of things to do before having your wisdom teeth removed, that you include "get married".  You should also put "get dental insurance".

I sat in the "operating chair", then injected some stuff into my arm and said "this will make your vision blurry".  About 20 seconds later I noticed that it was getting blurry.  Then they injected something else and said, "this will make the room spin."  It did not.  I rested my head back, and after about 5 seconds I was being walked to another room where Amanda was waiting to take me home.

The procedure took about 45 minutes.  But all I remember is putting my head back and then being led into the recovery room.

Amazingly, the sockets haven't caused much pain at all.  The swelling is uncomfortable, but I take Ibuprofen for it.

The right half of my lip is still numb, probably because they rubbed the nerve with the tooth during extraction.  I have bitten into it three times (totally bit into, not like "ouch, I just bit my lip", but like "stick a fork in my thigh").  Even though the lip is numb, there is some feeling in it... and I felt it.

Try shaving some time when you cannot feel the razor.  You have no idea if you are pushing hard enough.

So, most of the pain from my wisdom tooth extraction has nothing to do with the teeth, but rather my now heavily swollen lip, and my tongue -- which got rubbed raw against the gauze.

Anyway, I don't recommend it.

But, on the bright side, it went much better than Amanda's did.  She was nearly unconscious for a week (due to the pain medicine) and did not recover for about three weeks.  Then she got dry socket.  It just wasn't a fun experience.

Bro, that is rough! I know exactly what you mean about having no memory of the procedure though. They injected me, and I was out like a light. I'll be praying the swelling goes down and that you can soon eat real food!!

Dude, I have built a devise that may rival the spud gun in danger and legality. A friend of mine told me about a creation he called the dry ice bomb, and I used his model to construct a dry ice mortor. I basically placed a large pvc pipe in the ground and burried in so that half of the pipe stuck out of the ground. I then took a 1 liter bottle and filled it with a mixture of dry ice and water. The cap was tightly secured, and I next placed a bottle full of dirt in the pipe. The explosion was louder than a 22 rifle and it shot the dirt filled bottle over 150 feet. I still do not have the fuel mixture quite right and the fuse time is off a bit, but the model I have constructed is working great. I hope you are having equal success with your marshmellow launcher!! - Zachary Moye @ 7/22/2008 2:43:51 PM

Contemporary View of Scripture7/23/2008 7:56:52 AM

Want to see what a bunch of "smart" people think about the Bible.  Read the interesting Slashdot article about the Codex Sinaiticus going online.

From misunderstanding on what "inspired" means (someone said it has to do with translations), to the incorrect summary saying that it makes no mention of the resurrection (the resurrection is mentioned, just the Book of Mark ends before its resurrection narrative).  The summary also gets the date wrong, saying it is from 4th century BCE, rather than 4th century CE.

This is a great window into the thoughts of people who think they have all the answers, but really have no clue.

It is so strange for me to think that I have a four year degree in theology.  Normally, having that kind of education on a subject would give weight to your comments.  If I were to try arguing with a engineering graduate, they wouldn't listen to me.  So why is it, on Slashdot, my comments on this subject are ridiculed?

JetBrains Omea Reader7/25/2008 12:05:03 PM

I stopped using SharpReader for my rss aggregator.  It hasn't been updated it years.  I love it, but it has some quirks which will never get fixed.

I read that the Omea Reader is the reader of choice for people who liked SharpReader.

myCar = null;7/28/2008 12:36:23 PM

I basically called this code on my car.

var me = Person.GetInstance("Chet"); // Circa 1982.
var myCar = Car.Mazda.GetInstance(vin); // Circa 2000.
myCar.Owner = me; // Circa 2002
myCar.InsertSparkPlug(SPI_MODE.INCORRECTLY); // Circa 2008
me.FixCar(myCar, FIX_TYPE.HELICOIL); // Circa 2008
myCar.GiveToJunkYard_Or_Something(); // TBA (very soon)
myCar.Destroy(); // About 3 days after TBA
myCar = null;

I think the above code makes it abundantely clear.  My car is dead, long live my car.

But, it requires a new head to live... and it won't be getting one.  None of the local junkyards carry it, and a new one is $600 (just the part).  Is it really worth putting $600+ into a car with no A/C, 150,000 miles, bad Mass Airflow Sensor, broken air filter box, oil leak, duct taped air intake tube, partially working CD player, sticky upholstery, stratched paint job, gunked up engine from years of poor maintenance?

Anyway.  I am sad.  I loved that car, it was my second car.  When my parents and I went looking for a "new" car, the first car I test drove was a 2002 Mazda Protege, and I loved it.  Too bad it was about $4000 too much.

We test drove more cars all around central Florida.  They were all bad (compared to the Mazda).

On the second day of looking, we stopped by a Nissan dealer who happened to have a 2000 Mazda Protege (only two years old at the time).  I test drove it, and loved it.  And, it was within my price range.

My mom worked them down to $179/month.  And we drove to Ruby Tuesday to celebrate.

I took up three parking spots.  As we ate (at a window looking at the car), I pressed the alarm button the remote keyless entry, and laughed as people jumped.  I had a real car (note, the VW Fox was not really a car, per se).

I took the car up to Tennesee for CIY, and the rear spoiler saved a girl's wallet (she left it on the trunk in Macon, GA, and it got logded in the spoiler, it was stuck all the way to Atlanta).

During Impact, Amanda put a ribbon in her hair.  We tied the ribbon to the rear-view mirror, and it has been there ever since.  That was in like, 2003.

Amanda and I took our honeymoon in it.  My groomsmen decided to put shoe polish on the body, and I scratched the paint big time trying to get it off.

I rear ended someone who was sitting in a long line at a light.  I looked up, and didn't see their brake lights on (because they were slowing rolling), so I didn't slow down.  I looked down to adjust the radio, I looked back up when I was about 5 feet away.  I was going at less than 30 miles per hour.  Even though I slammed my brakes, there just wasn't enough distance.  Their SUV tore up the front end of my car.  Their vehicle was hardly damaged.

A guy from work left a soda can in the back seat.  It exploded (due to the heat), and came back to my car with the inside totally covered in sticky soda.  The reach was amazing.  It wasn't localized to the backseat, it was absolutely everywhere.

The A/C failed about two years ago.  It failed at the end of summer, so there wasn't a pressing need to fix it.  The next summer came, and money was too tight for me to spend the $1000+ to fix it.  I went through summer, got some money, and then (since summer was over again) I decided not to fix it until summer approached.  Well, summer came again this year (right around April), and I said I should fix it.  But I didn't get around to it (I just didn't want to spend the money).  Finally, Amanda and I agreed to stop thinking about fixing it... that is to say, just settle on not fixing it.  I would rather have a new TV than fix the A/C in an 8 year old car.

I am sad to say that I didn't quite reach 150,000 miles.  I was only a few days away.  I put ~70 miles/weekday on it.  I was at a little more than 149,500 miles.  My guess is that I would have had 150,000 at the beginning of this month.

Yes, I lament the loss of my car.  I loved that car.  From the first time I sat in a Protege, I wanted one.  I was proud of it.  No more working around the idiocycracies of the Fox.  This car died before it developed true idiocycracies.  But it was working on them: the mass airflow sensor went out, the spark plug blew, something was wrong with the timing on cylinder #4, the catalytic converter was failing.  It was also leaking oil.

True, this car did not have as much personality as the Fox, but I didn't want personality... or maybe I did.  I am still confused about that.  Whatever it was that I wanted, this car provided it.

They say you slew off about 8 pounds of dead skin cells per year.  I spend about 1/17th of my life in the car (10 hours/week).  I have had the car for 6 years, so that is 48 pounds of dead skin.  Since I spend 1/17th of my time in the car, that means that I have about 3 pounds of my dead skin in the car.  I think that is enough to safely say, "I am a part of that car."  I don't think any of the car is part of me... because that would make me a cyborg, and that is just weird.

Here's to you "2000 Mazda Protege LX w/ 1.6L engine and rear spoiler".  You have served me well these 6 years, even if I didn't service you well.

Batman: The Dark Kniggget7/29/2008 1:47:57 PM

This is not a review.  I exhausted my creative juices writting the ode to my car.  I just wanted to say that we went and saw it over the weekend.  It is creepy.  It is not technically gory; they cut the scene without showing blood or anything... but in some ways that is worse.  You mind has an amazing ability to fill in the gaps (probably in a more detailed way than they could achieve cinematically).

The movie actually feels like two movies.  There is a climax about 1 hour from the end, and they could have wrapped it up there.  But they continued going and so it feels a bit disjointed.

Overall, I guess I like it.  I don't particualary like that I liked it, but I did.

I think it does ask an interesting question.  How do you respond to someone who's only goal is to "watch the world burn"?

The question applies to more than the obvious criminally misanthropic agenda.

New Car7/31/2008 2:16:28 PM

Well, I bought a 2004 Oldsmobile Alero from a private seller.  It is in excellent condition (she had like, every receipt from every oil change and maintenance checkup).  It has 51,000 miles.

I guess it is technically a nicer car than the Protege, but it feels like I am driving a rental car, which makes me uncomfortable in general.  I am sure I'll get over it.

I plan on taking the Mazda to CarMax tonight and selling it for whatever they will offer (remember, bad head and no A/C).

That sounds like a good car.  How much did you pay?  Did you get pictures from the hole that the coil left in the head? - Joe @ 7/31/2008 7:48:18 PMNo pictures.  There isn't much to see, it just looks like the spark plug was removed. - Chet @ 8/4/2008 6:51:36 AM

Precambrian Fossils7/31/2008 6:35:48 PM

Creationists claim that there are no fossils in precambrian rock.  This is not true.  There are some, but not many at all.  Evolutionists like to point out that there are fossils in an attempt to undercut the creationist's attack that species appear to evolve *very* rapidly at the Cambrian boundary.

This does not help them that much.  All it really does is push the timeline that much further back.  It begs several questions, which I have never seen answered satisfactorily (at all really).

1) When did life begin?  It seems like everytime we look, it is getting pushed further and further back.

2) The fossils in the Precambrian rock are not simple (even though people would have you think they are); therefore, why don't we see *any* evolutionary steps in them?

3) Even if there were *some* fossils in the Precambrian period, what caused the "explosion" during such a short period (geologically) called the Cambrian period?

And I am always amused when the creationist says there aren't any transition fossils.  Then the evolutionist trots out Archaeopteryx.  You have got to be kidding me.  Billions of years of evolution, creating creatures as complex as man (and fish), and all you have is one lousy example, which isn't even widely supported?!  There should be more transitional fossils than "fixed" fossils.

Where is the fossil of the half-horse/half-"whatever a horse came from"?  Its not like a "whatever the horse came from" had a baby horse... structures, such as bones, body plans, etc, consist of millions of instructions in the genetic code.  According to evolution, those instructions were randomly mutated to create the differences.  They didn't come about in one generation.  So where are the fossils of the intermediate generations?

So long James Doohan8/4/2008 3:42:26 PM

The third launch of SpaceX (private spacecraft) was a failure.

What you may not know is that the ashes of James Doohan, who played "Scotty" in the original 'Star Trek' series and several movies, were lost when the launch vehicle failed.

Book: Man in the Iron Mask8/10/2008 5:27:27 AM

We finished Dumas' Man in the Iron Mask.  This book is the third in the Musketeers trilogy.

My final review: it is dumb, everyone dies.  Ususally, I don't like to give away the ending, but since the book is like 300 years old I don't feel bad.

It is totally different from the movie, pretty much in every respect.  They do try to replace the king, but in a totally different manner.  However, the replacement fails the next morning and the "new" king (Phillipe) is sent to a prison and we never hear about him again.

Porthos, who is involved in the replacement attempt, but doesn't really know it, dies.  Athos dies because his son dies.  Aramis (who pretty much started the downfall) doesn't die.

D'Argtanian doesn't die, but the book has an epilogue, and he dies in that.

There is no heroic glory, they just die.  It is a stupid book.

Clubhouse8/15/2008 9:01:32 AM

Well, I built a clubhouse/fort for my nieces and nephews.  I made it out of old peices of fence.  Amanda and I built the walls, floor, etc, in the garage as separate components, and then moved them out into the yard and assembled them.  They fit like a glove, or charm, or whatever the cliche is.

It took us like four months to get it together, working a few hours every few weekends.  My hope was that it wouldn't cost me more than $20, but I had to buy miscelleneous metal items like straps, hingles, hooks, as well as the pipe.  So it cost me about $80.  But that is still cheap considering the wood was free.  My goal was to make it entirely out of the fence wood, and I think I pretty much accomlished that.  So we are proud of it.

It has a porch, dutch doors, windows on all the walls.  We built the roof out of pipe and tarp.  It looks so good out in the yard.  The kids like to play in it.  Each of the girls painted the interior walls a different color (orange, purple, teal).  Amanda and I aren't sure if we are going to paint the outside to match the house, or leave it wood colored (which really blends in well amongst the trees).  Our oldest nephew likes to drive his cars on the porch.

Our hope is that as the girls get too old to use it as a clubhouse, the boys will get old enough to use it as a fort.

My biggest concern is what will happen when we have high winds.  During T.S. Fay, I noticed that the seam between the layers of tarp were being blown apart (not like expoded, just a gap being created by the wind).  I can just put duct tape on the seam to prevent that.

But what happens when we get 100MPH winds... does the fort get blown over?  I think I will get a long pole and drive it into the ground, then strap the fort to it.  It might still come apart and send wood shooting at my house, but at least it has a chance of staying on the ground.

Very nice, dutch doors sound like an excellent touch! I think it will be alright with the winds as long as it is secured with a pole..or two - De @ 7/31/2011 5:57:02 PM

Cabining8/18/2008 5:40:28 AM

My wife, and her parents, and I went "cabining" over the weekend.  It is like camping, except you stay in a cabin.  I prefer the real thing, but this is good enough.

We stayed at some amazing cabins at Fanning Springs State Park.  The spring was cool, the Swuannee was cool, and the facility was cool.  The spring was cold actually, but you get the idea.  I took some rope with me, and I estimate the depth to be about 15 feet.  There isn't much of a boil because the water comes out sideways, and there isn't that much flow.  It puts out 54 million gallons a day.  Wekiva, for comparison, puts out about 42 million (out of a smaller hole, so it has a faster current), and Blue Spring puts out 100 million gallons (it has a big hole coming straight up, and has a massive current).

It rained all morning the first day, which was a huge disappointment.  We just sat around reading and playing cards.  I didn't get to cook the eggs over the fire because they would get wet.  If I was really camping, I would have just done it anyway, but it is much easier to simply cook them on the stove :-)

We went canoeing for a bit.  We saw huge Gulf Sturgeon jump out of the water.

Then we went to Manatee Springs, which is larger and much deeper.  It puts out 150 million gallons a day, and it is very fast.  It comes out sideways like Fanning, so I cannot directly compare the pressure to Blue Spring.  I was told that it is 25 feet deep, but I didn't bring my rope, so I don't know.  It took all I had to swim to the bottom and then come back up.

Manatee also has the longest run on the Swuannee, and they have a boardwalk which lets you go along the run (you cannot swim in it).

Anyway, I love springs.  I am glad I got to go at least once during the summer.

0x1A Birthday8/20/2008 7:24:04 AM

Today is my birthday.

I don't know what Amanda has gotten me, but this is what I have gotten so far: Calvin and Hobbes book, Solaworm, gift card to GameStop (so I can get Mario Kart), and Amanda made me some amazing chocolate-peanut butter cookies.

Obama lied. Babies died.8/24/2008 10:05:27 AM

Obama said that it would defy common sense to vote against a federal bill protecting a survior of a botched abortion.  He said that he would have voted for it (he wasn't in the US Sentate at the time, so it is just hypothetical talk, like him saying he wouldn't have voted for the War).

But then it was pointed out that he voted "no" on a state bill that would have explictly provided this protection.  His response was that the state bill was different from the federal bill.

The latest news is that the state bill was essentially identical to the federal bill, and his campain has acknowledge this.

So, I think it is safe to say that he supports infanticide because he had a chance to stop it, and voted no.

Digital TV Conversion8/25/2008 12:13:25 PM

As everyone probably knows, February 19, 2009, will be the end of analog television broadcasts.

Amanda and I have cable because, even with an antenna, we barely get ABC (channel 9), and no others.

Well, we decided to see if we could save money by going digital and cancelling cable.  Turns out, it works.  We get crystal clear television for all the channels we watch (ABC, CW, ION, my65, that is pretty much it).  We also get CBS, and a bunch of public broadcasting channels.  80% of our TV watching is movies anyway, so it isn't a big deal that we get so few.

It isn't that hard, just get a $40 coupon, go to walmart and buy the $50 converter, so you get that for $10.  If you don't have an aerial antenna, pick up an antenna while you are at it.  We got the mid-level $30 antenna, we couldn't get the cheap one because the analog channels don't even come in (and you cannot get snow with digital, either you get a perfect image, or you get nothing).

Hook the antenna to the the converter and the converter to to the DVD/VCR/TV, and scan for the channels.  That is all.

Pro: Perfect image, even if it would normally come in poorly.

Pro: Save money on cable.

Pro: More channels, each station can cut up their bandwidth to broadcast multiple channels, so you might have a newscast on 9.1, but have a continual weather loop on 9.2.  Some channels have totally different programs on the sub-channels.

Pro: Program information is displayed (good when a movie is on and they never tell you what it is).

Con: If you don't have a good enough signal, you won't see anything.

Con: It takes about a second for the video to buffer, so channel surfing is much slower (it's like satellite).

Con: You cannot use your TV remote to change channels (it is always on channel 3), so you have to have yet another remote to control the DTV converter box.

Cancelled Phone Service8/27/2008 5:58:02 AM

In an attempt to save $25/month, we have cancelled our land line.  We have wanted to for years, but never have "just in case".  Well, the only thing we use it for is to receive telemarketing calls from politicians, which we don't want anyway.

So, we are purely mobile now.  It feels great.

Next stop, cancelling the cable now that we have DTV and have used it for about a week.

IE8 Beta 28/28/2008 5:51:45 AM

Since IE8 Beta 1 was so lame, I uninstalled it a few hours after I installed it.  I decided to wait for Beta 2.

Well, it is out now.

Levy County's GIS site still doesn't behave perfectly (no zoom box), but at least it works now.

They added a bunch of things which I don't care about, but I disabled them.  From what I have read, its Javascript interpreter is much faster, but I haven't noticed yet.

The tabs look different, I think they are Vista themed.  I wish they would leave them alone (so they match the rest of XP).

Recession on Hold8/28/2008 8:07:32 AM

Well, the GDP is still growing.  NPR and the mainstream media have been chomping at the bit to get this recession started (actually, they called it early this year).  Well, they will have to wait at least another 6 months.

Remember, a recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth.

So much for the self-fulfilling prophecy (which is essentially what they have been attempting).  Telling us that the economy is garbage and everyone should blame Bush, Cheney, and Haliburton.

It is obvious that they were telling everyone that a recession was coming so they would act as if a recession is coming (save money, etc), which would have caused a recession (the economy slows when people save instead of spend).

Glass Ceiling8/29/2008 9:49:26 AM

I have always said that, for all their talk about equality, the Democratic party would not nominate a VP (or President for that matter) who is a woman.

Well, looks like I was right.  The Republican party will be selecting the female governor of Alaska to be VP.

I think that a woman could make a great VP.  I will say right now though, I don't think a woman should be President.  And for that reason, she shouldn't be VP.  The primary role of the VP is to take over if the President can no longer serve.

Oil Prices8/29/2008 12:24:25 PM

Remember I posted eariler about oil prices?  Remember I said it was due to the falling value of the dollar, not because of speculators, or war, or hurricanes?

Well, the price of oil started dropping in early August.  The analysts give a bunch of reasons about stability in Iran, other contries using less, and so on.

Well, check out the value of the dollar against the euro.  See when the price starts to drop (which is a good thing)?  Yes, right around the beginning of August.

I am telling you, the prices of oil have nothing to do with supply and demand (in this case), it has to do with the loss of value of the US dollar.

We are being anesthetized.  They keep telling us that oil is the problem and we need to 1) drill our way out, 2) use less, or whatever.  They are keeping focus on oil because of political agendas.  It iis not the problem, the weak dollar is, and we are not being told that.

I agree with most of what you are saying but would like to add a little more:

1.  Prices have nothing to do with supply and demand - I would have to disagree with you.  I would rather state that Supply and Demand is not the culprit for the DRASTIC increase in oil prices.  Supply and Demand has always been there and as more and more countries increase their consumption, this will naturally raise the price of oil.  The problem with this is that it is expected.  If a public company can guarantee that they will make 8% every year, that will take effect right then on the market but then really have little affect there after.  What is my point, everyone knows that the demand of oil will increase (think of it as natural inflation) so it has the least affect on oil prices in terms of increasing the price.  So I would not say it has nothing to do with but rather little to do with.

2.  Drilling our way out and use less are answers, but not to solving the problem of gas prices (it will affect it very little do to what I said in point #1)  The purpose of this and the topic of discussion around alternative energy sources and drilling in the US should all center around the strength and defense of this country.  In the last 150 years, this country has really seen tremendous growth through innovations of products which has led to the rise of the US as a powerful nation.  The next 150 years will see a trend (actually it started around 1995 and spurred on with the proliferation of the internet) of providing energy resources.  It is less susceptible to changing economic conditions (for example, every one needs energy, you will cut back on going out to eat, even stop all together, you  will stop going to the movies too but you always need to turn the light on at night, start your car to go to work, turn on the stove to cook your home cooked meal)  If America wants to return to it's glory days, it needs to focus on capitalizing on a resource that is in great demand and controlled by a select few.

Anyways, good thought provoking blog Chet, sorry for my ranting.
- Wayne Johnson @ 9/11/2008 7:59:09 AM

Google Chrome9/3/2008 7:19:03 AM

Google has released its own web browser.  It is called Google Chrome.

This browser is very fast and its UI is sleek.  I like it.  It appears to render websites just like IE, which is nice.  I haven't seen a sight yet that has messed up.  It also renders the Acid2 test properly.

Actually, IE8 messes up more than Chrome does, but to be fair, it is still in beta... then again, Chrome is beta (and always will be).

I like Chrome's look and the tech behind it.  Every tab is its own process, which makes the whole browser not crash if a single tab acts up.  Beyond that, this program scares the crap out of me.  The original EULA, that they since have changed gave the impression that when one uses it to post anything on the web (Blogs, pictures, google, docs, or whatever) Google retains the right to do whatever they want with it while you keep ownership of it.  It is like a free and unlimited license of your intellectual property.  I am glad they changed that.

Though I use Safari, a good webkit based browser, Chrome looks promising, given the tech I cited above. - Joe @ 9/3/2008 7:12:44 PM

VP Candidate9/4/2008 10:52:31 AM

The people who are going to vote for McCain/Palin because Palin is a women are as bad as those who were going to vote for Hilary Clinton because she is a woman.

I am not voting for McCain because he is a man, that would be sexist.  I am voting for him because he is not Obama.

"Anyone but Obama."

Spore9/9/2008 12:05:33 PM

Spore is a game in which you start off as a cell and grow and reproduce to become a civilization.  I haven't played it, but I have read some reviews, and it sounds fun.

One thing that I find funny is the "evolution" component to it.  It has been hyped as using evolutionary processes to bring about the plot.

This evolutionary component goes like this: As you eat other creatures, you gain acess to attributes that can be used to customize the cell.  You have a "DNA budget" which you spend.  Some customizations help you attack, others defend, and others eat more.  They all have pros and cons (you can eat a lot, but are defenseless, so you get eaten).  The environment drives the customizations (if you are in an area with lots of defenseless creatures, develop a bigger mouth to eat more).

This is not evolution at all.  Behind it all, there is a mind, attempting to make intelligent decisions about the design of the creature.

This is what is funny: they call something evolution, but then deliver creation.

Matt Damon vs Sarah Palin9/12/2008 9:25:24 AM

Matt Damon wants to know if Sarah Palin believes that dinosaurs were around 4,000 years ago.  He wants to know because she will have the nuclear codes, and her beliefs scare him.

You might ask, "Why would someone's belief on the timeline of the world have any bearing on being a VP?".

Here is why it is an important to him: he is among the people who think that Christians (the more right, the worse) have a mental disorder.  For him, such beliefs can only be held if there is something wrong with a person, and that person shouldn't have access to the nuclear codes.

For one, nobody believes that dinosaurs were around 4,000 years ago.  That would put them here in recorded history.  This is just a red herring (which you should cut a tree down with, btw).

Second, there really are scientists who believe the Earth is young, on order of a few tens-of-thousands of years.

Third, just because someone believes something that is incredible to you does not mean they are crazy.  I don't think Matt Damon is crazy because he thinks Christians have a mental disorder, I think he is a moron, and there is a difference.

And last, his views are not that common.  Most non-Christians see Christianity (and traditional religion) as an emotion crutch that was historically useful but unnecessary now.

If Matt Damon has such a problem with Sarah Palin's lack of experience, he should look at Obama.

Sql Server Management Studio Express 20089/12/2008 1:49:56 PM

If you install the Express version of Visual Studio, it will install the Express version of Sql Server 2008.  However, it does not come with the Management Studio, which means you have to do your DBA work in Visual Studio... very annoying.

There is a version which has SSMS, but you have to download it separately.  From the size, it looks like the full installation, even more annoying.

Either way, here is the link:

Chinese Officials Foretell History9/25/2008 9:45:54 AM

The Chinese are about to launch a manned spacecraft, and conduct a spacewalk.

They must have known exactly what was going to happen ahead of time because they posted a *detailed* news story two days early.

Not only does it contain a chronology of events, but even included excerpts from the conversation between mission control and the astronauts.  Also, they quote things like: "The firm voice of the controller broke the silence of the whole ship. 'Now, the target is captured 12 seconds ahead of the predicted time ...'"

What in the world are they thinking?  It is pretty clear that this is propaganda written by the Chinese govenment.  This shows that there really is no way for us to know what is actually going on.  The only official news source in China is just making stuff up.  That "12 seconds ahead of predicted time" is really telling.  That is just some made up "fact".

How are the Chinese going to take true pride in their country if they don't even know if what they are proud of is true?  It is going to be a rude awakening when the public sees this stuff often enough.

I bet that even if the rocket didn't launch, they would still have printed this, and kept it up with more news stories about the spacewalk, and the landing... totally made up.

This is like a true version of the Apollo moon landing hoax.

Hockey Mom10/2/2008 9:00:27 AM

I am so sick of hearing people call Sarah Palin a "hockey mom".  

She is the governor of Alaska, its the largest state in the country, maybe you have heard of it?

I heard that you can see Russia from there?  It is funny that people make fun of her for saying that b/c at one point there was a land bridge where the water now separates our two countries.

If any of her kids played hockey, she is a hockey mom.  Though they use it in a pejorative term.  It is similar to all the rich white moms who are in office being soccer moms.  It is the same : the mother of a child who plays sports.  What is wrong with that?  Is it wrong to spend time with your kids?  Is it wrong to take time from work to be a major part of your child's life?  Mass media, get over it!  She is involved in her kids lives and will continue to be so.  Leave her alone for being a good mother.  Perhaps you should start spending time with your kids.  end rant; - Joe @ 10/7/2008 3:27:55 PM

Bailout Plan and Property Taxes10/3/2008 9:42:47 AM

My boss pointed out something very interesting today about the bailout plan.

Lets say that one of the mortgages that the govenment bought goes into foreclosure, the government now owns the property.

Federally owned property is wholly exempt from local property taxes.

Lets say that 5% of all the mortgages that the government buys go into foreclosure, that means that 5% of the land in affected areas automatically goes off the tax roll.  Local governments will not be happy about that significant loss of taxable value.

One of our smaller counties has a total taxable value of nearly 1 billion dollars.  Assume that the millage rate is something like $15 (very low) and you are talking about 15 million dollars in tax revenue, shave 5% off and you lose nearly 1 million dollars.  That is a lot of county jobs.

This is on just one of our smallest counties.  Imagine a larger county which has a taxable value of hundreds of billions.

Wachovia and Wells Fargo10/3/2008 9:54:08 AM

Wachovia is going under, bad mortgages and all.  Wells Fargo decided to buy them.

Do you think that Wells Fargo would be picking up Wachovia (with bad debt) if they think we are on the edge of a financial breakdown/"Great Depression II"?


Delete a table without killing the transaction log10/6/2008 9:45:48 AM

You cannot issue a TRUNCATE TABLE tablename on a table which has foreign key constraints (a parent table).  However, using DELETE causes every record (and child record) to be recorded in the transaction log.

On large databases, this can put your transaction log file into the dozens of GBs.

You can break the delete into a series of delete statements, committing the transaction after each deletion.  The transaction log gets big, but not enormous.

DECLARE @mycount bigint
DECLARE @rowsdeleted bigint

SELECT @mycount = COUNT_BIG(*) FROM tablename
SET @mycount = @mycount - 1000
SET @rowsdeleted = 0
PRINT @mycount
SET ROWCOUNT 1000 -- set deletes batch size

WHILE @rowsdeleted <= @mycount
            DELETE FROM tablename
      SET @rowsdeleted = @rowsdeleted + 1000

This is from a Microsoft forum.

I definitely would have bought it the first time around! It's just beautiful and you can do so many things with it for the different seasons. It looks just beautiful as you have it right this site.

- Susan Graham @ 12/10/2010 8:49:44 PM

Manchurian Candidate10/8/2008 8:57:02 AM

I am not saying that we have problems.

I am not saying that leftists need a empty suit to do their bidding.

I am not saying that Barak Obama is a Manchurian Candidate.

But I am not, not saying it either.

Second Presidential Debate Questions10/8/2008 10:15:51 AM

You mean to tell me that none of the following questions were asked?

Abortion (O'bama is for infanticide)
Gun control
Judicial nominations
Radical connections

These questions asked were screened for the purpose of protecting O'bama.

ABC analysist even said afterward, "Wow, I guess Obama's supposed connections to radicals must not be an issue for Americans because there were no questions about it."

What morons!!!  The questions that were asked were what the moderator wanted asked.  You want to tell me that out of "millions of questions submitted via the Internet", not one asked those above questions?

Basically, the moderator had a list of questions that *he* wanted, and just picked from the huge supply of questions to find one that asked it for him.

They made it sound like the audience got to ask their own questions... and I am sure they did.  But, I know that the moderator knew what their questions were and just cherry picked the person.

I have no idea if Tom Borkaw is biased or not.  But to think that these issues are not important to Americans just because it didn't get past his filter is idiotic.

I think the best question that was asked during the debate was:

"Do you think that health care is a right, a privilege, or a responsibility?"

Hmmm, Listen up America!  This was a critical question, because at the end of the day it was really not about health care at all.  Let me break it is what the answers really mean:

"Health care is a right!" translates to "Yes, I am a socialist."

"Health care is a privilege" translates to "I don't exist" because no one believes that.  That option was planted because the left wing media wants you to think that is what conservatives think.

"Health care is a responsibility" translates to "I believe that people should take responsibility for their decisions."

It is very scary that anyone would think that health care is a right.  That would mean that the government would have to provide it.  Can you say "Welcome comrades to Mother Russia, oh, whoops, I mean Mother America"  Give me a break.

By the way, if you need insurance, Publix offers it to anyone who works for them part time or full time.

Don't get me wrong, health care cost is out of control and needs to be dealt with but is the answer really giving away free health care?  How does that make any sense. - Wayne Johnson @ 10/9/2008 12:56:34 PM

Running Linux Mint in Virtual PC10/13/2008 9:32:33 AM

Running Linux Minut in Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 throws the following error:

An unrecoverable processor error has been encountered.

I did some research, and found this site.  It is discussing Ubuntu, but Linux Minut is based on it, so the fix is the same.

When Linux starts up, it will display a count down.  Press the any key to get a menu.  Press Tab to modify the command line.

Remove the "--" at the end, and add "noreplace-paravirt".

I assume that the problem occurs when initializing the parallel port.

Update.  For PeppermintOS, I also had to add "vga=791" to the command.

Fixing my house10/13/2008 9:43:35 AM

I am replacing the trim around the windows in preparation for painting the outside of my house.

So, I go to my back yard to fix the windows under the second-story bedrooms.  I pull the bottom trim off, and there is nothing behind it.  The chipboard is all rotted out.  I pull some of the siding off, and realize that the entire wall under the window is rotted.

This project is too big for me, so my dad came out on Saturday.  We spent all day pulling half of the siding off, tearing out the plywood, and replacing it all.  I spent a lot of time standing on the ladder with my face pressed agaisnt the wall, trying to nail the siding back in... wow.

Anyway, I now need to check all the windows because I think this damage is in other areas -- pretty much any place where the siding isn't holding on well, there is nothing underneath for the nails to grip to!

And, there is a leak over the master bedroom.  I think the wall under the windows in my office is rotted, and letting water run down.  It only happens when there is wind-driven rain (i.e., during a hurricane), which confirms my theory.

Dollar vs Euro and Oil (again)10/23/2008 9:33:49 AM

Sorry to keep bringing this up.  Oil prices are tanking, and, check out the dollar against the Euro.  Notice that the dollar is getting more valuable at nearly the same rate as the cost of oil is dropping.

I am telling you, oil prices were high because the dollar was weak... not because of some sort of huge global demand.

I predict that if the dollar reaches $1.20 for a Euro, the price of a barrel of crude oil will drop below $60.  That is between $2.30 and $2.50 per gallon.

If the dollar reaches $1.15 for a Euro, the price of a barrel will drop below $50, which is ~2.20/gallon.  However, we haven't been at $1.15 since November of 2005.  But, we are not that far, the current price is $1.285.

This is based on historical analysis that Wayne did.

Government Funding10/23/2008 9:58:24 AM

I just heard Barney Frank (of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is fine fame) on the radio.  We don't need to worry about money, we have plenty of rich people to tax.


Obama helps Kenyan Muslim10/27/2008 9:00:42 AM

I was recently asked to fact-check a rumor that Obama helped get a Kenyan president elected.  This president indicated that if he was elected, he would re-write the constitution to incorporate Sharia law.  I cannot tell if it is totally true or not, but his is what I found:

1) The Kenyan leader's name is Raila Odinga, he claims to be Christian.

2) This leader signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" which says that Islam is the only true religion, and that if elected as president of Kenya, he would re-write the constitution to incorporate Sharia law.  He did this so that Muslim leaders would endorse him.

3) Financial statements indicate that "Friends of Senator BO" donated nearly $1 million to his campaign (note that the numbers are in Kenyan shilings, not dollars).

4) This "Friends of Senator BO" is an organization set up by Obama and certain advisors while Odinga was in the US.

5) Odinga is Obama's cousin: Obama's father is Odinga's maternal uncle.  Some speculate that Obama is helping him because they are technically from the same tribe (the Lou tribe).  Odinga lost the election, and this tribe went on a killing spree, attacking churches and Christians.  It is claimed that zero mosques were attacked.  The attacks ended when the UN/US stepped in and negotiated that he would become Prime Minister, in an attempt to share the office with the man who won. See: (second part, after the ads).

As for Obama actually going over there and campaigning, I am not sure.  He went on a four-country fact-finding trip with a bunch of other people from congress.  That appears legit.

Most of the stuff I find that try to repudiate the claims say that there are no memos (but I linked to them above), or that it is just an attack by a right wing nut (Jerome Corsi of World Net Daily)

Obama's Socialism Joke10/30/2008 9:25:32 AM

Here is Obama's attempt to counter-attack with a joke: "They found out that I shared my peanut butter sandwich with a kid when I was in fourth grade.  That makes me a redistributionist."

Someone sharing something is not socialism, that is philanthropy.  This whole joke is a strawman, but I doubt the public will think about it that closely.  Philanthropy is not what he wants... he doesn't want to share (you don't see him sharing his vast campaign fund).  He wants to take from those who have, and give it to those who have not.

Socialism would be more like him taking another kid's sandwich, cutting it in thirds, then giving 1/3 to the kid without a sandwich, keeping 1/3 for himself (for the trouble), and letting the first kid keep the remaining 1/3.

Sure, it doesn't make such a good joke, but it would be closer to the truth.

Audacity of Hope!?10/30/2008 3:18:12 PM

I am hearing extensive soundbytes of Obama's infomercial.  All the stories with "regular Americans" are sob stories.  Where are the stories about people who are getting out there and making the best of our situation?

No, it is a bunch of people going through tough times, and Obama wants the government to help them.

His extended family is living in slums and huts, and he tries to convince us that *we* are bad for letting people go without arthritis medicine.

Obama should pull his big, fat wallet out and do something... show some leadership!

Also, notice that his tax cut threshold has dropped to $200,000.

Our Long National Nightmare... is just beginning.11/5/2008 7:40:02 AM

I don't even know what to say.

Pray for him, and be faithful to Christ.  Revelation says "To him who overcomes...."  Overcome! - Joe @ 11/21/2008 9:22:17 AM

President-elect?11/15/2008 9:30:55 AM

Why do they keep referring to Obama as President-elect?  He isn't.  I guess the actual meaning of words don't matter any more.  A person doesn't become President-elect until the Electoral College votes for him/her.

It is as simple as that.  They haven't elected Obama, so he isn't the President-elect.  This only matters to people who care about the constitution and our state-based form of government.  The populus does not directly elect a president.  They elect electors in each state.  The states then vote for the president (based on the popular vote).

If, God forbid, Obama were to die before the electoral college met, they could choose anyone they want.  If he dies after, but before his inauguration, then the Vice President-elect becomes the President-elect, and there would never be a "President Obama".

I don't remember the media immediately referring to Bush as President-elect.  They didn't even do so after the Electoral College met because they said it was a sham (because the Supreme Court in Florida called the election).  In fact, they still have a hard time referring to him as "President Bush".  It is usually just "Mr. Bush".

Lets see how often they refer to Obama as simply "Mr. Obama".

Change11/23/2008 9:16:10 AM

So much for "change", and a new way of doing things.  Obama continues to fill his cabinet with ex-Clinton advisors.

How can you change when your closest advisors advocate the same old?  Has he selected any fresh, bright, clean people?  I don't see them.

Change = changing America from representative republic to socialist state. - Joe @ 11/25/2008 1:42:48 PM

Only one president at a time11/26/2008 9:10:52 AM

During Obama's first press release he said that even though we are in tough economic times, he would not push policy because, "the United States only has one President at a time".

Well, I guess the economy is just way to bad, because now he is pushing policy and having the Bush administration run all decisions by his team.  On top of that, he wants Congress to have a bill for him by his inauguration.

I am fine with the presumptive President-elect pushing policy, but don't get up and say that you won't, and the go ahead and do it.

What?  Has our economic situation changed so much in the last two weeks that Obama goes from "one President at a time", to we need to make decisions now?

No, he is just playing with us.  Telling us one thing and then doing something else.  He never intended on keeping his word on this.

Thanksgiving 200812/2/2008 9:11:29 AM

Like most years, Amanda and I went down to Jensen Beach for Thanksgiving.  Her family has a timeshare condo on the beach, and it is great.

Josh bought RockBand for the Wii, and we played that late at night.

On Wednesday (the first day), I was trying to balance myself on the upright support of a chain-link fence.  The poles were all rusty, and when I put my weight on the horizontal pole it broke free from the support leaving a sharp edge.  The outside of my wrist was sliced open on it, creating a gash approximately 1.5 inches long and down to the muscle (I don't think it cut into the muscle).

So, we went to a local urgent care clinic, and they cleaned it out and sewed it up.  It took 6 sutures.  It didn't hurt too much, just a tingling sensation really.  They had to give me a tetanus shot, which hurt after a few days.

Thankgiving Day was great, ate a lot of food.  Went to see "4 Christmases", which, although funny, I don't recommend.

We just hung out on Friday, since my wrist was hurt, I couldn't really play on the beach.  Josh, Amanda, Michelle, and I played Monopoly.  Josh bought every propertly he landed on, and put himself in a very good position.  I was stuck in jail for two rounds (I kept forgetting to just pay the $50 and get out), so I ended up with two properties and had to pay top dollar for some more.  Amanda was first to build houses, and then hotels, but Michelle built hotels on the Green spaces, and wiped us all out.

Saturday we decided to make our traditional sand castle.  I decided to carefully use the shovel, but I couldn't really get into detailing because I wanted to keep my wrist clean and dry.  Still, it turned out amazingly.  We built two castles with a causeway between the two.  Amanda made a very impressive staircase and porch-thing in the front.  I didn't build the usual outer wall because I was too tired, but we did extend the moat.  We got a lot of pictures, the are probably on somebody's Facebook.

We cleaned up the condo on Sunday, and drove home.

Other than hurting my wrist, it was fun, and relatively uneventful.

Posting12/29/2008 9:07:21 AM

I haven't posted much, just don't have the time or the energy.

Visual Studio 2010 CTP is available, it is a Virtual PC image (which is nice in some ways because it doesn't mess your computer up), but it is a few GB download.

Philosophy of Music1/2/2009 10:57:30 AM

Does the style of music convey meaning?  Is there meaning in music beyond the words themselves?

This is something I have wondered for a long time.  There just seems to be something dark about heavy metal, forget the words.  Is it simply a style, that can be yolked with "Christian" lyrics at will?  Is music art?  I believe it is.

Art conveys a philosophy, a worldview.  This fact is not really disputed, and is how someone can look at art and try to discern what the artist was communicating.  If it is not possible to discern the meaning in a work of art, then "art appreciation" is meaningless.  Art is considered intellectually enriching.  We get the cliche "A picture is worth a thousand words..." because the work of art is full of information.

What the artist thinks is real (ontology), what the artist thinks is important and, traditionally, beautiful, impact the nature of his work.

Now, does art simply convey meaning in the subject of the work (i.e., is it only the drawn/sculpted object that is important), or does the decision to express it in a particular genre (like still life, pastoral, fantastic, etc), or movement/style (like cubism, expressionism, realism) matter as well?

The styles reflect a set of ideas.  You can determine what those ideas are (to a point), by following the history of a style, and the reasons it evolved (read the Wikipedia article on Futurism for a case study).  I am not an aesthetist, so I don't know exactly how culture influences art, but I know that it does.  Art movements are a product of their culture, for example, with the rise of Postmodernism, we see that art picks up some traits of that philosophy such as chance (randomness), anarchy (no standards), process (uncomplete art), "antiform" (using circles when lines would normally be used).  I am not good at actually critiquing art, but I understand the basic concepts.

A art critic will take the subject matter, the physical material, the genre, and the style, and attempt to figure out what the artist means (I am not considering the deconstructionist critic's methods, because they don't believe the artist's meaning is relevant (which is itself another expression of anarchy in Postmodernism)).

So, if music is art, and the style and genre of art conveys meaning, that means that a musical work's style and genre convey meaning as well.

If music is art, then we have a problem.  If style and genre convey meaning in music, we need to carefully consider what we are conveying when we hook Christian lyrics (the subject of the work) to a particular style and genre.

Can there be "Christian rock", or "Christian death-metal", I don't know; I haven't decided.  What about psychedelic music?  That style of music was specifically designed to disengage the mind, doesn't that matter?

All I am saying is that I no longer buy the argument that only the words matter.

The problem with music is that the various genres influence people in particular ways.  A Mozart piece will affect someone differently than a Blindside track.  However, I do not think it appropriate to label something Christian or non Christian based on the style.  The music to our old hymns come from bar tunes, for example, but we would consider them based on their content.

I think the real problem is how music is used, not made.  Having gone to several Christian conferences, it seems that music can be used to manipulate people for good or bad.  Far too often music is used to influence people in a negative way such as causing them to "respond to Christ' when they are only responding to the music and not Jesus.  Of course music can be used to shape the mood, which is ok, as long as it does not cause the hearers to become mindless robots.

As far as rock is concerned, I love the stuff.  It can really energize me in different areas.  However, done wrongly it can make people overly aggressive and violent.  

Since the Bible does not demand that any music style be changed to conform to a standard, it is probably safe to say that the form is rather innocent.  I can say this b/c the Bible covers situations from various cultures and music is no where addressed except to describe what people did.  If people used music to work Mardock or Baal, it was not to be done.  It was the object of the music that made it good or evil. - Joe @ 1/2/2009 12:26:12 PM
You didn't address my fundamental concern.  Does musical form/style/genre express information the same way a work of art's form/style/genre does?  If it does not, then ok.  But I think it does, and the information it expresses definitely needs to be looked at.

It is harder to recognize the information content of the style than it is to recognize the information content of the lyrics, but if the style conveys information, then it is not simply neutral.  It can be as sinful as the lyrics.

You also admit that music styles can alter mental states.  Too me, this is a clear argument that music styles are not neutral.

Where the Bible is silent, I try and keep silent.  However, I think there is a little more to this than mere silence.  The Bible discusses principles, and we can measure ideas against biblical principles even if it doesn't expressly discuss the idea.  I know I am preaching to the choir here, but here is an example: Should I smoke?  Well, the Bible doesn't say that it is wrong to smoke.  Should I simply say, "Where the Bible is silent, I am silent?"  No, I say that there is biblical principle that our body is a temple and should be treated with the utmost care.  There is medical information that smoking causing disease.  From there you can obtain the conclusion that I ought not smoke because I am *purposefully* causing harm to a temple of God.

Likewise, if a musical form is able to put you into a trance (this is just a superficial example), to disengage the mind, then I think it is unbiblical because the Bible is constantly telling us to think (read Proverbs for about 10 second to find an example).

While the Bible does not address music style, 1 Thessalonians 5:21 tells us to examine all things, and keep what is good.  I am simply saying that we need to examine further what affects musical style has on people, and not simply say that only the lyrics matter. - Chet @ 1/5/2009 12:29:59 PM

Visual Studio 20101/15/2009 4:19:41 PM

Well, the CTP of VS 2010 is out, along with .NET Framework v4.0.  I downloaded the 24GB Virtual PC image, finally had time to run it... and... it says that it has expired and offers to let me upgrade to VS 2008.  Wow, what a let down.

I am downloading Windows 7 Beta right now, we'll see how that goes.  It isn't designed to run in Virtual PC, but hopefully it will work anyway because I don't have a machine to wipe out.

Unable to drag and drop icons.1/16/2009 9:59:13 AM

Every once in a while my computer stops letting me drag icons around.  It is very frustrating.  Sometimes I go so far as to reboot my computer.

Well, it happened again today, and I started searching for a fix.  And it turns out that my ESC button is stuck.  It didn't look stuck, but I saw on a web page that it might be.  So I pressed it, and viola, I can drag again.

Just putting this tip on the web for others to find.

Windows71/16/2009 3:01:01 PM

I installed Windows7 on a virtual machine.  It is pretty nice, looks like a new version of Vista.  The start button has been replaced with a fancy circle, and the taskbar buttons no longer contain the name of the program, until you hover over it.

It was a bit too slow to really try it out in the VM, also hardware acceleration was disabled, so I couldn't check out any fancy graphics.

If you have a spare machine, I definately recommend trying it out.  Clean install is painless.

Windows Vista and Windows ME1/26/2009 10:05:40 AM

Is Windows Vista going to be a Windows ME?  Remember Windows ME?  Windows 2000 was released in 1999 and swept the business market.  Windows 98 was still used by home users.  Home users who were more advanced (like me) just put Windows 2000 on their home computers.  Everything was great... except that Microsoft had spent 4+ years creating a NT operating system for home users, and it still wasn't finished.

Well, Microsoft released Windows ME in late 2000 with great fanfare, it was supposed to be the next great home operating system.  It turns out though, that it was just Windows 98 with a better interface.  It was still a 16-bit DOS based operating system running with a 32-bit GUI.

Microsoft released Windows XP just over a year later.  People who had upgraded their computers to use ME were very upset.  They didn't know that they had bought an intermediate product, which was probably released simply to keep Microsoft on everyone's minds (and to make a few extra bucks on upgrade paths).  XP was the real "next big thing", Microsoft had just released an temporary product to keep the line going.

Is Vista just another round of ME-like behavior?  Windows XP is a solid product, Microsoft doesn't want people just sitting on a old version because they don't make money on upgrades, so they create a new version, under much fanfare, that underdelivers... and then turns around a year later with the real "next big thing".

It looks like Windows 7 is what Microsoft has really been working on behind the scenes.  It uses some technology from Vista and XP, but it is really the big step that Vista was supposed to be.  One reason I think this is because the codename is "Blackcomb", which was a codename that has been floating around since "Longhorn" (Vista).  They were both rumors at the same time, and we assumed that "Blackcomb" was simply the server version of "Longhorn".

Since Windows 7 is a consumer OS, and it's codename was rumored at the same time as Vista, I have to assume that development was going on.  Which means the Microsoft knew that it was building two consumer OSes at the same time -- exactly as happened with ME and XP.

Another possibility is that "Blackcomb" was the real product and "Longhorn" was just an snapshot of it that was polished and shipped.  Either way, millions of people got stuck buying the intermediate product.

Vista is one big bug. Last news about microsofts strafes (scandal with sticker) brings me to think that 7 is really big project, which will replace xp in home and other segments, which will really (not like vi) support new hardware and etc.

sorry for my english=) - SoXiE @ 1/29/2009 1:01:22 PM
This sort of reasoning makes a lot of sense.  The only thing I have to say against it is that the differences between Vista and 7 are mainly cosmetic and some tweaking of existing structure.  The major features of Longhorn that were promised and never delivered (such as a new filesystem) still are not delivered.  I do agree though that they seem to have been developing two OSes at the same time.  It was a bad move on their part marketing wise and people will probably trust 7 less because of the Vista flop. - Joe @ 1/31/2009 7:55:20 AM

Domain expired2/17/2009 7:07:26 AM

I lost my website and email for a few days because I let my domain expire.  Oops.  I knew the time was coming, but I forgot to do it on Friday.

Luckily, gone are the days where, if you let your domain expire, it was bought by a squatter the next day.  Now registrars do a "temporary hold" for about a week, and then there is a Internic imposed 45 day hold.

Still, it takes a while for all the DNS servers to refresh their caches, especially on an active site.

well, I am glad you got to it before it got bought out and replaced with link to spanish language game cheat links. - Joe @ 2/17/2009 8:20:39 AMHaha - Chet @ 2/17/2009 12:38:18 PM

"Communion"2/18/2009 4:38:19 PM

It drives me nuts when people draw conclusions about what we should think/do during the "breaking of bread" by analyzing the word "communion".

Things like:
1) Communion and community share the same root, therefore we are demonstrating that we are a community by taking communion together.

2) We are communing with Christ, or some other mystic nonsense.

The greek word that refers to "the Lord's supper" is eucharistia (εύχαριστία), and means "thankgiving".  If we are going to be analyzing any words, this is the word we should be analyzing.

I also see no evidence that the Lord's supper and "agape feasts" are one and the same.  In fact, if I read 1 Corithians 11:19ff correctly, it seems that the εύχαριστία was not supposed to be a meal!

Cut Spending2/27/2009 12:07:48 PM

The news keeps saying that Obama will cut spending by increasing taxes on the "wealthiest Americans".

You don't cut spending by increasing taxes... you increase revenue by increasing taxes.

This is like saying that I will cut spending by working extra hours at work, the sentence just doesn't make sense.

It is just a marketing tactic so that Obama doesn't have to say he is raising taxes: "I am not raising taxes, I am just cutting spending."  He isn't cutting spending by 1 trillion (as he claims), he is increasing taxes by 1 trillion.

Because, for liberals, letting you keep more of your money is them
spending less ☺

War in Budget2/28/2009 10:16:42 PM

The O'bama administration keeps saying that the Bush administration hid the cost of the Iraq war by not including it in the budget.

For one, if this was such a big deal, Congress could have / should have not voted for the bill.

For two, I think it is hiding the cost by including it in the budget.  By leaving it out of the budget, Congress had to vote for the war effort as a separate measure, which made it a news story on its own.

Remember John Kerry saying, "I actual did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it."  Do you think anyone would have known/cared that we were spending $87 billion if it were just another line item on the total federal budget?  Nope.

This is just like when FCC merged all housing costs into one lump sum.  This let them wiggle around on the actual cost of the constituent elements (like electric and cable bills), but leave the price the same.  If the price of energy went down, it didn't cause the price of housing to go down, because you just paid a "housing fee".  Now, Obama can quietly lower the budget for the war, and nobody will notice, because it is part of a larger bill.

I agree to some extent, but I think that all budgetary matters need to be considered at one time so that the budget can be balanced.  Perhaps leave room in the budget for the war money, but pass a separate bill to authorize use of that money, and perhaps more if necessary.

I think that the economy will be broken for a long time because the government does use real world accounting practices, and the ways in which they cook the books would be illegal to private sector people. - Joe @ 3/1/2009 8:10:22 AM
My point is that Bush was not hiding the funding by not putting it in the main budget. - Chet @ 3/3/2009 10:15:13 AM

Google's InQuotes3/11/2009 12:18:42 PM

You have got to check out a new Google Labs project called "In Quotes".  This lets you search for certain terms that someone said.  For example, I can type "earmarks" into the search box, and that term is added to the list.  I can press the down button to go back and see what he has said.

Here is a good one: Obama saying that there will be no earmarks in the stimulus package, just before his inaugaration.

"The package will set a 'new higher standard of accountability, transparency and oversight. We are going to ban all earmarks, the process by which individual members insert projects without review,' Obama said. 'We're not having earmarks in the recovery package. Period.'"

This is from

And for those of you who think that they weren't earmarks (call them something else), Obama himself admits that there were earmarks in it at:

Anyway, this is a great tool to quickly find what someone has said on a subject.

Oh, you can also filter by year.  So I can see what he said during 2008 only, and here is a good quote: "Earmarks have 'been an issue for a while now,' Obama said in an interview. 'But, obviously, we're entering into a political season, which means that they're going to get amplified. I don't think there's anything wrong with the concept of earmarks if they are transparent and above board.' But, he added, a one-year moratorium to review the earmarking process would generate 'confidence that taxpayer money is being well spent.'" (source: Washington Post in March 2008)

AIG Bonuses: A red herring3/18/2009 10:47:23 AM

AIG paid out something like $165 million in bonuses.  They received $85 billion loan.  I think the $165 million is small change compared to the whole package.

And... the government gave AIG that money so they could carry out their business.  Guess what, paying its employees is part of carrying out their business.

On top of that, they specifically added text to the stimulus package saying that any contracts in place before Feb 20, 2009, were to be upheld.  Although, I did the research and found out it wasn't Dodd who put it there (on page S1609-S1610).

Anyway, I call this a red herring because while everyone is up in arms about $165 million in bonuses, we are not watching while the other $85 billion gets blown.

Amen - Joe @ 3/18/2009 11:04:53 AM

IE8 Released3/19/2009 11:09:29 AM

I just downloaded the final version of Internet Explorer 8.  This is a great improvement over IE7, and worlds away from IE6.  It is nearly as standards compliant as Firefox, and even passes the Acid2 test.

Hopefully some of the strange rendering bugs that I have seen in Beta 2 are completely gone (such as the text being cut off in mid-page, actually through words).  I don't think I saw any of that in RC2.

Also, I am glad my GIS sites (like Levy PA's) work without modification.

Ocean's Twelve Soundtrack4/1/2009 10:28:51 AM

I downloaded the Ocean's Twelve soundtrack, and I have to say, it is really fun to program while listening to Jazz Fusion and slightly-Psychedelic Rock.

Arduino4/2/2009 9:51:02 PM

Well, I broke down and used my Christmas money to buy an Arduino Duemilanove.  This is an ATmega328 microprocessor on a board with all the support circuitry.  The entire unit is called an Arduino, "Smart Projects" builds the boards and wrote the bootloader firmware, which allows it to communicate via USB.  The model name "Duemilanove" is Italian for 2009 (the year of this model's production).

You can read a whole lot more on Arduino's website, or you could look at the Arduino wikipedia entry.

To expand it, you hook up "shields", which are just printed circuit boards that send data on some of the Arduino's I/O ports.  The three that most excite me are:

* Ethernet Sheild (for network access)
* XBee (enables 100ft wireless communication between Arduinos)
* Touchshield (touchscreen interface).

The Ethernet shield is *relatively* cheap at about $40.  The XBee shield is $65 (and you would need at least two).  The Touchscreen is about $175.  I guess I'll be saving my birthday and Christmas money for a few years :-).

But, you only need one Ethernet shield to get it to communicate with the outside world.  And I am thinking I can inject 5V in the unused wires to power it.

I don't know what I am going to do with it, but a few cool ideas:

* Home Automation (turn on lights and stuff remotely)
* Data Logging (temperature, humidity, etc)
* Drawing or simple cutting (like a CNC machine)
* Various LED effects (think Knight Rider)
* High speed photography

That is all I can come up with right now.

The ATmega328 is an 8-bit processor running at 16MHz, it has 2K of RAM and 1KB of non-volatile EEPROM.  It has 32KB of flash memory, which is used to hold programs.

The Arduino folks have written an IDE used to program it, the language looks like C.

Oh, and you have to watch out for "kits", which are cheaper.  They are unassembled, they provide the board and components and you have to solder them and junk.  I am no good at it, so it is worth the extra $15 dollars to have them built.

Also, there are three different models of the XBee, but only one XBee shield (they all fit), so a lot of companies sell the shield alone.  This means it looks like you are getting a great deal, but you actually have to by the XBee chip separately (which is the bulk of the price).  The best XBee chip can broadcast about 1 mile if you have line of sight.

This is more geek than I think I will ever get.  It does seem quite fun to tinker with.  Do you need to have some sort of kernel for it? - Joe @ 4/3/2009 7:11:33 AMIt comes with a bootloader already burned into the memory.  The bootloader handles loading a new program into memory.  If you aren't loading a new program, it ends in a call to the "loop" function in the currently loaded program.

So, no, there isn't a kernel per se.  Although, the bootloader does provide some IO helper functions, which support some kernel-like functionality. - Chet @ 4/6/2009 9:42:14 AM

Baby4/7/2009 12:39:08 AM

Great news!  Amanda is pregnant.  We had our first ultrasound today, and the baby is right at 7 weeks.

We waited to tell most people until after the first sonogram.  Thank you to those who knew for your prayers.

I will post a scanned copy of the image on Facebook later today.


Chemical Combination4/30/2009 7:59:33 AM

Check out  You can put in various chemicals and see what you get when they are combined.

It was designed for environmental disaster mitigation (think industrial spill).

Mother's Day5/11/2009 9:30:43 AM

Amanda got to celebrate her first Mother's Day yesterday.  We are so happy.

Also, happy Mother's Day to my mom, and mother-in-law!

Anniversary5/18/2009 6:46:57 AM

Yesterday was our 6th anniversary (or 72nd monthiversary).  Six years ago today we were traveling to Sanibel Island for the bulk of our honeymoon.

Amanda got me a digital multimeter and peanut M&Ms, and I got her some earrings and roses.

New Metroid Announced6/4/2009 6:11:43 AM

I just read that Nintendo is going to release a new version of Metroid for the Wii.  This makes me so happy because I am a huge fan of Metroid.  The reason we bought the Wii for for Metroid and Zelda (Amanda loves Zelda).

I read about a year ago that Nintendo was going to discontinue the Metroid franchise (for a while at least), which was disappointing.  Hopefully this Metroid will be the best yet.

Savannah, GA6/9/2009 12:50:14 PM

Amanda and I went to Savannah for our sixth anniversary.  We stayed at an inexpensive hotel which turned out to be very nice.  They even served contentnial breakfast (a nice one with eggs and sausage).

On Friday night, we didn't want to start roaming, so we went and saw Terminator Salvation.  An excellent movie.

It rained most of the three days we were there, starting around 10:30 and stopping around 4:00.  We did manage to do some sightseeing when the rain let up.  On Saturday, after driving though the city while it rained for a few hours, we went to the Davenport House, which is just a nice example of Federal architecture.  We spent over two hours in the Bonaventure Cemetery, and actually got locked in after hours.  Luckily a guy came by and let us out (apparently they lock the gate to keep people from coming in, but we thought we were in trouble).

On Sunday, the rain started even earlier, but we decided to keep on moving though to Tybee Island, and it wasn't raining there.  So, we spent a few hours at Fort Pulaski.  This fort is more interesting than Castillo de San Marcos.  It even has a small system of underground hallways and storage (it isn't really underground, they just piled mounds of dirt on it).

We love lighthouses, so after the fort, we went to Tybee Island Lighthouse.  It is 154 feet tall, and has 179 steps.  It also provides a great view of the Savannah River and Atlantic Ocean.  It isn't as tall as Ponce de Leon lighthouse (at 175 feet) or Anastasia Island lighthouse (at 165 feet), but it is close enough.  We saw a huge cargo ship enter the ocean.

That night, we ate the most expensive dinner we had ever had.  It was at the "17 hundred 90", which is a very fancy restaurant in the basement of an old house.

Monday morning we beat the rain and walked River Street (a bunch of tourist shops right on the riverfront).  We left just as the rain started coming down.

This was our first vacation together outside Florida (we went to Texas before, but that was to visit family).

Random Twitter6/15/2009 7:20:05 AM

I have had a Twitter account for a while now.  I signed up because it is a possible way of communicating with gadgets, like my Arduino (pronounced: Are D'wii Know).

Anyway, I wrote a program a little while ago called the Random Twitter.  At varying intervals, it generates a random sentence and posts it.  Check out the posts:  Sometimes they are totally nonsensical.  Other times they are very insightful.  One recent example is, "A picture is mechanically alerting me of the bad linen."  Wow, I learn something new every day.

My random number generator isn't doing so well, but it puts the word "linen" in a lot.  Perhaps it is cold.

Wow... xD You crack me up. - Jonathan Sias @ 6/15/2009 7:36:24 AM

MOVE::20096/30/2009 1:44:42 PM

We just got back from Move (CIY) yesterday.  We went to Anderson, IN, making stops in Atlanda and Louisville on the way there, and Cincinatti and Alpharetta on the way back.  It was amazing.  The topic was Exodus and we went through most of the book.

The biggest thing for me is the realization that our life is the accumulation of "crossings".  We take dozens of small ones a day, and occasionally a large one.  God can trust us with large ones when we are faithful in the small ones.  Joseph is a good example of someone who took those crossings repeatedly.

There is way too much to talk about in a blog post.  The spiritual highlights are complicated.

One of the struggles was that nearly everyone got sick at some point.  We decided that there were three distinct sicknesses going around, some people got one, two, or three of them.  Personally, I got the sinus infection.  Luckily, it didn't hit me until Friday.  Unluckily, I spent most of the three-day trip home sick.

Some of the non-CIY stuff ("auxiliary events", I call them):

We went to King's Island on Friday.  It had a lot of cool rollercoasters.  It also had a 315ft tower which drops you.  I have to say, it was terrifying.  It just seemed to keep going up and up and up.  Just when you thought it would stop climbing, it would just keep going.  There are two other very high things in the park: Delierium (137ft swing) and a 275ft Effil Tower replica, and this thing absolutely dwarved them.

We used our extended rec time to volunteer at the Boys 'n Girls Club in Muncie, IN.  I got to play a little "street ball" with like 20 fourth and fifth graders.  No fouls, no out of bounds.  I am not going to lie, as Kyle Funk would say, it was pretty awesome.

We went to a satellite of North Point Community Church (Browns Bridge edition).  This instance of the church had around 500 people (this is a rough estimate).  One thing that was really neat is that, while we are praying before the sermon, they lowered a projection screen that is the width of the stage, and when you look up you are seeing a video feed from the motherchurch.  The stage there is set up the same way, so it really looks like someone is standing there.  It rocked my face off.

We also found a river in northern Georgia on Sunday and spent a few hours there.  It had mini-waterfalls that you could actually slide down.  I find that if the waterfalls are too small, then they are really just slippery rocks, and if they are too high, you fall to your death.  Truth bomb.

All the kids did very well.  They took the lessons seriously and we didn't have any disciplinary issues.

Out of the four locations that I have been to for CIY/MOVE, this was my least favorite.  No inspiring mountains, and oddly enough the weather was exactly like Florida, hot and humid.  It was like 96° out there, just too hot.  Also, the food was ho-hum, and the facility was spread out.  And, our room was on the fourth floor.  There were no elevators, so we had to schlep ourselves up and down several times a day.  The girls were on the third floor (different building) and had to do the same thing.  Oh yeah, and communal showers.

One other thing, there were only about 500 people at this event, yet it seemed like it packed (except the auditorium, which was practically empty).  Full capacity for the week was over 2,000.  I cannot imagine the nightmare the cafeteria would have been had the event been at full capacity.

I am not complaining, just wanted to get the facts out.

Visual Studio 2010 Beta 17/1/2009 3:00:07 PM

I downloaded Beta 1 of Visual Studio 2010.  The editor is WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) based, rather than the typical WinForms based.  This means that is has a more polished interface and is able to do fancy graphic transformations.  To be completely honest, I don't get the point.  I guess it is because Microsoft wants to phase out the WinForms model eventually.  The performance is good though, so there isn't much to compain about.

From what I have read, 2010 is supposed to be much better behind the scenes.  I haven't seen any differences yet though.  The .NET Framework v4.0 is supposed to have most of the magik.

I beta tested Windows 7. It's glorious. - Nick Zema @ 7/7/2009 1:01:55 PM

Baby == Boy7/7/2009 7:00:22 PM

That's right, we went for the ultrasound today and discovered what was true all along: we are having a boy!

It is what we were hoping for, and it was against most of the predictions.

I honor of this new information, I have reskinned my website (temporarily).

Super congrats! - Joe Schneider @ 7/7/2009 6:00:53 PM

Hillsborough PA Website7/13/2009 6:59:24 PM

I have been working for the past month on bringing the Hillsborough Property Appraiser's website from Perl/Informix to ASP.NET/SQL.  It finally went live today without a hitch.  And it is screaming fast!

Also, we did a major cleanup effort to make the site standard compliant.  The only validation errors I have seen are the use of the "embed" tag to support flash animation.  A necessary evil in as much as it must support Firefox browsers.

here is a link

LInk? - Joe Schneider @ 7/13/2009 4:53:30 PM

Found my Favorite Bible7/18/2009 4:36:53 AM

Or what man, having ten Bibles, if he loses one, does not turn on the light and do a visual sweep of the room and seek diligently until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he calls his wife, saying, "Rejoice with me, for I have found the Bible which I had lost."

-- Adapted from Luke 15

I left my favorite Bible at a meeting just before CIY (a month ago).  I called the church and the lady said that I should ask the person who led the meeting.  I asked him yesterday and he said he had not picked it up, but that there is a stack of Bibles in the room.

So, I go to the room, turn on the light, and see the Bibles.  Mine is not among them.  On my way out, I decided to check some cabinets, and voila, there it is under some papers!  I am so happy.

This is my NASB Bible.  I have many NIV's, but I prefer to memorize from the NASB since it is more literal.  I have been really upset that I could not find it.  On top of that, it was the one year anniversary gift from my wife.

Rejoice with me, for I have found the Bible which I had lost!

I'll rejoice with you - I just found the one I like to use for study, not the one loaded with notes and references that I use for school.


Cheers! - Jonathan Sias @ 7/20/2009 1:23:03 PM
Dude, you should check out the ESV.  I have found it to be much better than the NIV, and even renders the greek verb tenses a little more precisely than the NASB.  As with most current translations, there are sometimes some Calvin leaning interpretations, but they are much more rare with ESV than NIV.

Yet, I am glad that you found it.  I think that this story is much like the lady who lost her coin.  She looked hard and eventually found it.  In a way the coin symbolizes the gospel, while your Bible contains four gospels. - Joe Schneider @ 7/29/2009 7:35:50 AM

Descent8/4/2009 9:48:14 AM

I am working on a XNA version of Descent.  If anyone owns a copy of Descent (because you need the HOG and PIG files) and wants to try what I have so far, let me know.

This requires Windows.

Also, you can buy Descent 1 and 2 for like $6.00 here.

The version you download would be for DOS.  You can get a Windows/Mac/Linux port of the executable at DXX-Rebirth.  Either way, you have to buy it to get the game's data.

I hope that next time I have a Quake party at my house (soon) we can play this as well.

Crabwalking8/11/2009 12:57:11 PM

Someone said "crabwalking" the other day.  I don't think we crabwalk enough anymore.  We need to do this more or else this mode of transportation will become a lost art.  What ever happened to crabwalking in gym class?  Do they even do that any more?

Think of the children!

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy8/13/2009 12:11:09 PM

I just finished "reading" The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on audiotape (not really tape) for the second time.  This book is so funny, and its humor matches mine closely.

I think my favorite scene is when the whale is free falling towards Magrathea.  There might be another, but I cannot remember it.

I also like when the time when the effects of the Infinite Improbability Drive are wearing off.  Arthur says that there are an infinite number of monkeys outside the door and they want to discuss a copy of Hamlet that they have been working on.

My absolute favorite line comes from the dolphins, who are the second-most intelliegent species on Earth (after mice).  It turns out that all their jumping though hoops and splashing water, are really attempts to communicate with us humans.  The last thing they "said" was a double backflip though a hoop while squeaking.  It translates to "So long... and thanks for all the fish."

World Domination8/14/2009 7:32:59 AM

There are 24 billion chickens in the world.  That means they out number us 3 to 1.  If they figure this out, we are done for.

First Furniture8/18/2009 9:20:05 AM

We bought the crib for Robbie last week.  Picked it up Friday.

So, we spent a large part of the weekend "cleaning up" the office, converting it to a guest bedroom.  When I say cleaning up, I mean getting rid of a ton of books that we will never read, removing a lot of my miscellaneous decorations, and rearranging everything so we could fit a bed.  Luckily, we were able to keep the table in there, so not much has actually changed.

We realized that that room had the highest density of stuff than any other room in our house.  I don't think that the garage has as much stuff.

This is because the current guest bedroom is going to be the nursery.  We put the crib together last night, and it is so nice.  Got a great deal on it.  I have to admit that I was sticker-shocked when I saw that most nice cribs go for at least $300.  This one was well less than that.

Next step is decorating, which Amanda has already started.  She plans on painting some cute animals on several square canvases and hang them over the crib.

The next major step will be moving our bedroom upstairs.  It shouldn't be anywhere near the pain that cleaning the office was, but it will be a process.  What is funny is that just before Amanda got pregnant her grandma gave us a nice (very old) dresser and bed.  So we moved our stuff to one of the upstairs rooms.  Our "new" set is way to heavy to move upstairs, so we are just going to leave it, but we are going to be reunited with our original bedroom set upstairs.

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Birthday8/21/2009 6:17:41 AM

Yesterday was my birthday.  Yea me!  It turned 27.  Oh well, it happens.

I got a mini helicopter that I have wanted for a while.  I also got Oceans 11/12 DVD, and a Barnes 'n Noble gift card.  Amanda made me Swedish Meatballs, my favorite, and German Chocolate Cake, my favorite.

Oh, she also got me a big bag of peanut M&Ms, my favorite.

So, overall, pretty great.

I haven't seen my family yet.  I'll probably get some good swag from them too.

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Happy Birthda - Joe Schneider @ 8/21/2009 8:14:33 AM
Hey, my comment got truncated!
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Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!! - Joe Schneider @ 8/21/2009 8:15:09 AM
27!, seems like you are getting old. I'll be checking on that "rswag". - mom @ 8/21/2009 3:18:12 PMSorry for the spelling, I was concentrating on getting the 'captcha' right this time. - mom @ 8/21/2009 3:19:39 PM

Mafia Ninja8/24/2009 12:12:47 PM

I was reading the Wikipedia entry for Mafia (party game).  Under optional roles I added a new one: ninja.

If the ninja is selected by mafia during the night, he is woken up (just like doctor or KGB) and he totally flips out kills someone.

Obviously, the ninja can only be killed by townsfolk.

Glenn Beck on Van Jones8/25/2009 10:15:19 AM

Glenn Beck informs us about the background of Van Jones, the green jobs czar.

This self-described radical is a top advisor to President Obama.

Good ol' Glenn Beck... - Joe Schneider @ 8/25/2009 12:01:16 PM

Wireless Performance on Vista8/31/2009 3:16:54 PM

Our new laptop has been having trouble connecting to our home wireless network since we got it.  Once it finally connects, it usually stays connected.  Sometimes it can take several minutes before it connects.  Very annoying.

No other wireless device has any trouble with our network, including the Wii.  I just had some friends over, and nobody reported any wireless issues.

Over the weekend, we had a Quake party, and I turned the laptop up to High Performance mode, and accidentially left it on.  Amanda noticed that the laptop was connecting almost immediately to the network whenever she turned it on.

Well, the laptop has Vista, and it turns out that in Power Saving mode, it greatly reduces the wireless performance.  We leave it in Power Saving mode even when it is plugged in to reduce the heat it produces.  99% of the time it is only being used for the internet, so we have no need to leave it in High Performance mode.  Tonight, when I get home, I am going to customize the power policy so that wireless performance is always at maximum.

Nice to have this little annoyance solved.

I will have to remember this one! - Joe Schneider @ 9/1/2009 2:56:16 PM

Third Sonogram9/2/2009 7:55:32 AM

We had a small issue, so the doctor wanted to have a third ultrasound done.  This is a rare thing, our insurance covers two "fun" ones, which I hear is more than usual.  Since this one was medically necessary, it should also be covered.

Anyway, a third trimester ultrasound is cool because it actually looks like a baby.  And, the technician has to move the device around to actually see all of him.  We could see his femur bone, and his brain.  Also, she confirmed that he is still a boy.  But, she was 99% sure last time, so it wasn't necessary.  We didn't get a very good picture of his face since he decided to face her back.  It was funny because he was moving like crazy while the technician did the routine work, but when she went to see his face he just turned around and stayed their.

Turns out, everything is great.  The doctor said he is a little on the petite side, but that is simply based on charts and schedules.

I believe that Amanda posted the scan image on Facebook.

We pedge to support our opponents!9/3/2009 5:41:32 PM

Perhaps these people wouldn't be able to pledge if we didn't prop them up by paying them.

Busy Weekend9/8/2009 10:21:14 AM

I replaced the power brake booster in my wife's Mazda Tribute.  Probably the most complicated car repair I have ever done.  I was most concerned about needing to bleed the master cylinder, but it turned out to be easy.

We registered for baby gifts at Target and Babies'R'us.

I reverse engineered a bunch of carnival games (like those kind where you throw a ball though a hole in a piece of plywood).  Our church might build rather than rent because we use them every year.  In order to buy the parts, you have to know how to build them.

I installed a ceiling fan in the nursery.  And I don't mean that I just hung the fan in an existing box, I have done that many times.  No, this was the full deal.  In my house, the "light" switches actually control a power socket on the wall, which is really annoying.  In order to do this right, I had to re-wire the power socket to always be on, and run the wires from the switch to the fan mounting box.  I had to cut a hole in the ceiling and install the mounting box.  And then hang the fan.

The most annoying part was that I planned on using the wire coming into the power socket to fish a new wire up the wall.  But then I discovered (while dying in the attic) that the wire was stapled to the wall.  So I just cut it and fed a wire down the wall instead.  Which meant that I had to rip the box out of the wall to feed it though.  Not fun.  Luckily (or unluckily) the box was very loose because it had not been installed right.

We also went to Sea World for the evening and saw the night-time sea lion show, which is a parody of the other shows, it is great.

I also played some Zelda in between projects.  I have found all bugs and heart containers, and only need to find 2 more Poe Souls.

Holly's dad, Todd Coffman, writes the Sea Lion and Otter shows there. He's fun.

Sounds like you've kept busy. :) - Jonathan Sias @ 9/8/2009 2:27:01 PM

Gas Mask9/23/2009 1:11:01 PM

I bought a gas mask today.  You can see what it looks like at  Why, you may ask?  Because it was only $10 at Skycraft Surplus, and because I'll think of something interesting.

Of course, now I will be prepared when The Revolution comes.

Cross-thread Access9/24/2009 12:05:10 PM

Windows Forms does not allow any thread to access its controls, except for the thread that created them.  If you do, you get an InvalidOperationException stating "Control control name accessed from a thread other than the thread it was created on."

If you want to build a robust application that doesn't freeze when you have a long running task, you have to use threads.  This "limitation" makes that a little more difficult.

After a lot of research, I found that you can use lambda expressions to cleanly access another thread's controls:

string textboxValue = String.Empty;
txtBox.Invoke((Action)(() => textboxValue = txtBox.Text));

The txtBox is a Textbox control on the main thread.  The textboxValue is the variable that will hold the result, this variable can be accessed from the current thread.  Invoke has always been the way of getting the value, but you used to need a lot of infrastructure to do this (things like, additional "GetText" method, delegate to provide the interface for this method).  By using a lambda expression (cast as an Action), you can have your simply code called from the main thread (Invoked) and have it return the value you need.

Very useful.

"Windows Forms does not allow any thread to access its controls"

Wrong. You must be new to .net - Anonymous @ 10/6/2009 7:31:24 AM
No, I have been programming .NET for many years.  Windows Forms controls are not thread-safe.  The cross-thread access was allowed in Framework 1.0, and is still available when you compile as "Release".  However, it can cause problems.

The best practice is that you not access Windows Forms control from any thread other than the one that created it.  Doing so is asking for trouble.  And it is prevented completely if you compile in Debug "mode".

If you want to cite a source that says otherwise, I'll read it. - Chet @ 10/9/2009 11:53:50 AM

The Message Bible9/30/2009 10:29:16 AM

I cannot stand The Message Bible.  People use it as their primary Bible, and it can completely skew the actual meaning.

The preface of The Message plainly says that the author's purpose was to provide a Bible written at a low reading level for people who would not otherwise read the Bible at all.  It isn't intended to "give a new perspective" or anything like that.

"I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready." ~ 1 Cor 3:2

Graduate already!

Your last line is priceless!  The Message does have a purpose, not for declaration of Scripture, but for interpreting Scripture.  There are times when it is read at the Church I attend, and it is usually when the interpretation of the text is good and has a desired impact.  I think it is good to read it in a more "literal" translation then to read The Message to hear contemporary application of the Word. - Joe Schneider @ 9/30/2009 11:35:28 AMAgreed. I liken it to having salt and pepper and other condiments with your lunch ... they help bring out the flavor and the goodness of the food, but nobody wants a steady diet of Morton's or Polynesian sauce. - Oscar Cortez @ 9/30/2009 8:20:01 PMHaha.  Mmm, polynesian sauce. - Chet @ 10/6/2009 7:30:09 AMI think I would die.  Now, Chic-Fil-A's honey roasted bbq (or whatever that is) is a different story.  It is a sad one, since we don't have one  that is readily accessible.  The closest one is in the food court at the State Farm corporate HQ and is only available to employees or someone who is a guest of an employee.  I digress.

Oscar's analogy is a good one.  However, people are content living on that diet, even though it is dehydrating their spiritual life. - Joe Schneider @ 10/6/2009 2:15:10 PM

Last Day at Manatron10/9/2009 4:00:21 PM

Today is my last day at Manatron, Inc. (which purchased Software Techniques at the beginning of the year).

I go to a better place, but I leave many friends behind.

Monday I start as a software engineer at Clear Village, a company that specializes in automating government processes.

The Club Called "Unity"10/16/2009 7:12:23 AM

Sometimes people skirt debate and disagreement by beating you with a club engraved with the word "Unity".

Not allowing people to disagree and thoughtfully working out issues causes isolation and despondence.  If we want openness and honesty in church, and society, we must be allowed to express our thoughts, feelings, and opinions.

Disagreement is not an anathema to unity.  True unity only comes through resolution, not simple insistence that we be unified.

Very well said.  I love you. - Mandy @ 10/16/2009 6:51:18 AM

World Space 2050 Vision10/22/2009 1:49:58 PM

Abdul Kalam, former President of India, is giving a speech at UCF today about his World Space 2050 vision.  Basically we need to build an international body to explore space.  He is also pushing for no militarization of space so that it will be owned by everyone, rather than individual countries.

If outer space provides anything of value, then it will be fought over and militarized.  In the short term, if the moon has any valuable resources (minerals, colonial expansion opportunities, strategic/tactical advantages, even astrographic benefits, etc) then there will be people/countries that want access and will want to prevent access.  This is the recipe for battle.

Space also provides a "high ground" for Earth, so above and beyond extra-terrestial colonization (which is a good enough reason to fight on its own), control of it means potential control and reconnaisse of all earth-based activies.  This is something that our enemies will want to prevent, therefore battle.

It's politically sensitive, but it's going to happen. Some people don't want to hear this, and it sure isn't in vogue but -- absolutely -- we're going to fight in space. We're going to fight from space and we're going to fight into space...
General Joseph W. Ashy
Former Commander-in-Chief U.S. Space Command (1994 - 1996)

Even though there is a lot of it (space, that is), any place of value that we can reach will be fought over.  Anyone who thinks that we could live in a universe where we will not fight over a resource is ignoring history.

If we have learned anything from history, it is that men haven't learned anything from history.

Pagan Christianity10/29/2009 3:47:12 PM

I finished reading Frank Viola's Pagan Christianity for the second time the other day.  

Forget for a minute that he is biased towards house churches and "organic Christianity" (whatever that actually means).  The questions he raises in his book are perfectly valid.  And I believe that many (but not all) of his conclusions are correct.

The Restoration Movement has always been about returning us to the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible.  As we have introduced worldly thinking into Christianity, it has been diminished.

I fail to see how we can be upset when modern Christianity is diluted with neo-paganism but get mad a Frank for pointing out that our whole history has been one of dilution with occasional factions that attempt restoration (Protestantism, Reformation, Restoration).  None of these movements get it perfect, just closer.  I think Frank's book provides an impetus for us to move even closer.

I don't agree with everything in the book, particularly his view of the Lord's Supper and the role of Christian Education (or lack thereof), I think we need to "test everything and hold on to the good."

Excellent read: Restoring Movement to the Restoration Movement by Dr. Roger Chambers

Windows 711/16/2009 6:52:52 AM

I have been using Windows 7 for over a week now.  It is ok, mostly visual upgrades.  I think they polished the interface since Vista, keeping a lot, but just making it easier to use.  Since I have two monitors (hopefully three soon), the new keyboard shortcuts are nice (for example: Shift+Windows+Arrow will move the window to the next monitor).

I also like that it comes with IIS7, which I have had very little experience administrating.

I completely disabled User Account Controls.  I do not appreciate being asked if I really want to preform the action that I just requested.  For example, if I open the Registry Editor, that should be confirmation enough that I want to use the Registry Editor!  I hear that there are fewer notifications than Vista, but since I haven't spent much time on Vista I wouldn't know.

War of the Worlds11/18/2009 8:48:45 AM

I finished War of the Worlds this weekend.  Excellent book, it is amazing that it was written in 1898.

It is set in southern England, so the place names are real, but since I didn't have a map, it was somewhat confusing.  I just went to Google Maps and found several of the locations, so I now have a better understanding of how things went.

One thing that I particularly liked was its use of then-cutting-edge science.  It gives a glimps of what was thought about Mars and human evolution and military tactices back then.  H.G. Wells essentially described the concept of "total war" decades before we saw it during World War 2.

I recommend this book.  I didn't read it, I listened to it, as I have been doing a lot lately.  I got it from  The reader was good, I'd give him a 7.

Constant Internet Explorer Certificate Errors11/19/2009 9:47:21 AM

Amanda was using our computer today and discovered that she could not log into any site that uses SSL.  Internet Explorer just kept saying that there was a certificate error (you know, when the red shield comes up and asks if you really want to enter the site).

Turns out, the computer's date was wrong, set to 11/19/2068.  This meant that all of the publisher's certificates had expired.  Therefore, the site's certificates could not be verified.

Moral: If you get repeated certificate warnings/errors, make sure your date is set correctly.

As for how this happened in the first place, I do not know.  This was on Vista, and it might affect Windows 7 as well.

Thankgiving Day11/25/2009 8:46:59 AM

The first Thankgiving was not the Pilgrims giving thanks to the Indians for helping them through the winter.  It was the Pilgrims giving thanks to God for helping them though the winter and giving them a plentiful bounty that year.  The Indians helped them definitely, but the thanks was to God.

The former was taught to me in school.

You did not here this from a preacher did you?  They make stuff like this up all the time.  From what source did you get this info? - Joe Schneider @ 11/25/2009 9:38:45 AM

Thanksgiving Day Occurences11/25/2009 1:15:14 PM

Since my son might be born in the range of possible Thankgiving Days (that is, Thanksgiving might fall on his birthday).  I decided to look at the rate which Thanksgiving falls on a particular day.

I am having a hard time describing this so here is a chart.

Day     # of Times in 100 Years
21      0
22      15
23      13
24      15
25      15
26      15
27      14
28      14
29      0

So, according to this, if his birthday falls between 22 and 28, then he will definitely have his birthday on a Thanksgiving day. If he is born on the 26th, he will share Thankgiving every five years (or so).  If he is born on the 27th, then he will have a ten year gap between 2014 and 2025.

If he is born on the 28th, then his birthday will be on Thanksgiving in 2013, and then every six years (or so).  There will be a ten year gap between 2030 and 2041.

So, if he waits until Sunday, he will never share a birthday with Thanksgiving.  However, it will still be close.  Personally, I rather he wait until the 1st of December at this point.  Nobody likes having their birthday close to a holiday.

On a related note.  It feels to me that Thanksgiving usually comes on the 27th (at least, in my conscious lifetime).  Turns out that it isn't true.  In the last 26 years it has fallen on each possible day 4 times.  However in my defense, 27, 25, and 23 have been more concentrated in my adolescent and adult life.

I have posted the Excel Spreadsheet.

Robbie is coming11/30/2009 9:37:26 PM

We are at the hospital.  Amanda is being induced because her amniotic fluid level was low.  She is 41 week anyway (past due) so that is what the doctor wanted.

It isn't what we wanted, so much for a "birth plan".  Oh well.

Please pray that the weaker drugs do the trick.  If not, she will go on Pitocin tomorrow morning, and that will really get her contractions going.

We are updating Facebook primarily for status updates.

We will certainly be praying.  I am sure it is not fun hanging out in the hospital waiting to see if the drugs will work.  Hopefully you brought some cards or something for entertainment. - Joe Schneider @ 12/1/2009 12:07:43 AMThanks for the update ... we'll be praying too. :) - Oscar Cortez @ 12/1/2009 1:44:40 AM

Progress 112/1/2009 6:40:19 AM

Amanda is progressing slowly.  She decided to get an epidural as soon as possible.

Progress 212/1/2009 9:02:35 AM

Finally got the epidural.  She is doing so much better now.  Actually smiling (and sleeping).  She is about 50% there physiologically.

Cool, the meds are working. - Joe Schneider @ 12/1/2009 9:34:35 AM

Progress 312/1/2009 10:14:41 AM

Water broken, 10 centimeters, the baby is ready to come.  The doctor wanted lunch first, he will deliver as soon as he gets back.

For some reason this sounds silly to me.  "Hold on, don't push.  I've gotta get a bite to eat before the baby comes."  Hopefully he does not eat too much and get lethargic and want to take a nap first.  At least Amanda had an epidural. - Joe Schneider @ 12/1/2009 10:56:25 AM

Progress 412/1/2009 3:31:43 PM

Well, a lot happened in the last 5 hours.  He was born, cleaned up, and taken to the nursery.  I stayed with him at the nursery and watched him take a bath and sleep and warm up.

Robbie is as close to perfect as a baby can get.  Twenty digits equally spread out over all his apendages, etc.

The grandparents hung around for a while and held him at took pictures.

I have posted photos on Amanda's Facebook, and I have made it publically available

Thank you everyone for your prayers, support, and phone calls.

Yay!! :D - Oscar Cortez @ 12/1/2009 3:44:23 PMSuper congratulations.  He is a cute one. - Joe Schneider @ 12/1/2009 3:55:21 PMCongratulations to all three of you! - William Krueger @ 12/2/2009 2:17:05 PM

Robbie T+11 Days12/11/2009 11:31:51 AM

Well, Robbie is 11 days old right now.  He cries a lot, too much I think.  Perhaps he has acid reflux, which I hear is common in newborns.  Other than that, he is cool.  He likes to look around, and he perks up when he hears Amanda talk, or me laugh.

We broke down and gave him his pacifier when he cried at the hospital.  We tried to break ourselves of that habit a few days later, and were doing pretty well, but it is just "easier" to stay awake and hold that thing in his mouth than hear him crying (when we know there is nothing wrong with him).  If he is overly tired, he won't sleep, he just looks around for a while and then cries.

Amanda and I are both suffering from sleep deprivation.  It is hard to think clearly when you are so tired.  It is really hard not to be annoyed when he won't go to sleep at 3:00 in the morning.  He gave us a big break on Wednesday early morning, he slept for nearly five hours straight.  He was back at it Thursday morning doing nothing but cry between feedings.  Last night he did well pretty again... he woke up every three hours, which is fine, but he also went back down to sleep after eating.  I think he is doing a somewhat better job at soothing himself to sleep.

At this point we just keep reminding ourselves that we have prayed for this kid for years, and this is a temporary situation.  In a few weeks he will be better able to cope with his new world.

There is an old saying, be careful what you ask for.  I can understand the frustration of not being able to go to sleep when you are so tired.  I am glad he did well last night. - Joe Schneider @ 12/11/2009 4:03:55 PM

Robbie Two Weeks Old12/15/2009 10:33:19 AM

Robbie is now two weeks old.  He still doesn't sleep much at night (I got three hours of sleep two nights ago).

He is so cute, and likes to look around all the time.

The more I watch him, and read about how he grows, the less I see evolution as a viable explanation for biological processes.  Here is just one example (of thousands that I could probably list): the use of colon bacteria to produce Vitamin K, which is essential to blood clotting.  He isn't born with colon bacteria, it comes from his diet.

Christmas and New Years1/1/2010 10:46:01 AM

Looks like I haven't posted in a while.  Amanda got me four things for Christmas

Two-way radio set ("adult walkie talkies"), ideally for capture the flag.
Gettysburg, The Movie
Star Trek TNG Season One.
Brown t-shirt

She probably also got me some small stuff I cannot remember, and candy.

I got her some jewelry and MacGuyver season six, and some other miscellaneous stuff.

My wife's family and we spent Christmas and News Years Eve at our house to make it easier for us.  I pulled out my "marshmallow launcher" and fired it a few times just after 12:00AM (it actually shoots balls of duct tape since marshmallow is too sticky).

Robbie Five Weeks Old1/5/2010 8:35:46 AM

Today Robbie is five weeks old.  We are in the process of "weaning" him from the pacifier as a sleep prop.  Basically, we let him fall asleep with it, but if it falls out it stays out and he can either fall asleep again, or cry.  We check on him often while he crys to make sure he is ok.  He is able to sleep well during the night well now (not through the night, he isn't old enough for that yet).

It used to be that we would have to hold the pacifier in his mouth, or keep getting up to put it back in.  Now he just wimpers for a bit and then sleeps.

However, at his 7:00PM nap he still crys.  The last two nights he cried though the entire 7:00 sleep session.  But when Amanda and I are ready for bed he does sleep, which means we are finally getting better sleep.

I am glad to hear that things are going better.  Sleep is a blessed thing.  Robbie actually seems to be doing pretty good for five weeks, so keep up the good work. - Joe Schneider @ 1/5/2010 9:21:55 AMNice to see Robbie is respecting your bedtime at least! :) - Brian Johnson @ 1/21/2010 11:39:41 AM and PHP1/5/2010 3:46:24 PM

I did a Google search "php vs speed" just to see what they had to say.  I don't really care since I use exclusively nowadays.  However, the first link had this to say:

" is compiled into memory in binary code. So, when is used for coding, it is evident that it takes much longer time to process since the codes need to be retrieved from memory. However, PHP is not compiled into memory like is. It is interpreted at runtime. That is the reason why PHP coding leads to better speed and even efficiency. However, it must be said that both PHP and can run at supreme speeds and efficiency when they are coded expertly."

This makes no sense at all.  It reminds me of Senator Ted Stevens calling the internet a series of tubes.  Especially "it takes much longer time to process since the codes need to be retrieved from memory".  Where else are the "codes" supposed to come from?  Here is a very short lesson on interpreted languages vs compiled languages:

Interpreted languages store the human-readable "instructions" *as is* in a file.  The interpreter (like the PHP processor) loads the file into memory (it has to), then reads each line.  Each line essentially tells the interpreter to modify its internal state a small bit (create a variable, add one to that variable you just created, write that variable to another memory location which will eventually sent to the client, etc).  The interpreter does this by converting that instruction into a format that the CPU can understand.  It does this on a line-by-line basis.  The process goes like this: read line, determine what that line is asking for, perform the corresponding action, repeat.

A compiled language converts (compiles) the file into a format that the computer can read directly (without interpretation) and this is stored in the file.  When the program is executed, the entire file is loaded into memory (just like an interpreted language), but then it is run directly against the CPU.  There isn't a layer there converting the human-readable instruction into a machine-readable instruction.

Interpreted languages are notoriously and inherently slow.  There is absolutely no debate about this.  However, they provide big advantages in other areas:

There are surely more advantages, but none of them are speed.

Now, (really, any .NET Application) is compiled, but it is done so at runtime.  This is called "just-in-time compliation" or JIT-compilion.  The .NET "compiler" converts the human-readable source code into "bytecode" which is portable.  This bytecode is then compiled to machine-code (not portable) when the executable is loaded.  This load-time compilation causes the application to startup more slowly than a native application.

People often use this as an attack on .NET's speed.  However, they fail to realize that this speed hit only occurs when the application is first loaded. web applications are loaded on the first request to a page, and then stay loaded.  So, on a brute performance basis they are faster than PHP, which has to be read and interpreted line-by-line on every single execution of the page.

So, the quote above is wrong on many accounts. is not compiled to binary in the traditional sense.  It is, however, converted to binary when the application is run.  Also, binary code *always* runs faster than intepreted code.  This notion that "it has to be loaded from memory" makes no sense.  Both PHP and have to be loaded from memory (the CPU can only read from memory).  PHP has the added hurdle of being interpreted. is the clear winner in brute performance, please check a good example of performance benchmarks.  All this to say though, programmers don't determine which language to use based soley on speed.  There is ease of use, how much the language provides "for free", how well it is supported, etc.

According to the cited benchmarks, the only thing faster than is C++/CGI.  This makes perfect sense because that is bare metal.  You also get nothing for free when you run C++/CGI.

That article also says that PHP has very good support for object oriented programming but that "is also very capable".  This must be a joke.  Just look at the PHP reference and you will see that it is driven by function calls.  I am talking about what PHP platform provides, I know that you can develop objects in PHP. is completely object-oriented.  There are no areas that are not.

Gallup Poll Question1/6/2010 1:36:40 PM

I was reading the latest Gallup Poll questions for science.  The second one is: "In fact, Charles Darwin is noted for developing the theory of evolution. Do you, personally, believe in the theory of evolution, do you not believe in evolution, or don't you have an opinion either way?"

This would be more accurate it is said that Charles Darwin is noted for developing a theory of evolution, and that it is a version that nobody (especially scientists) believe today.  

First, Darwinian evolution did not include genetics as we know it, he was only interested in natural selection.  Darwin didn't know anything about genetics.  Darwin's theory included pangenesis, as the method of transferring traits to offspring, which is no longer taught.  The separation of natural selection with pangenesis and then combining it with Mendelian genetics is called neo-darwinism.  This is what is taught in textbooks.  

Amazingly, many "godfathers" of evolution (Eldredge, Gould, Goldschmidt ) who wrote the textbooks do not believe that neo-darwinism works as a theory of evolution (mostly due to the fossil record).  Punctuated equilibium is the most serious contender, with Hopeful Monster also considered a better theory when looking at the facts.

All this to say, Darwin has become more of a mascot than anyone of substance.  He didn't talk about the origin of species, but the survival of species. That is, he wrote about why certain traits continue and others do not--he did not write about how species came to be in the first place.  Not only was his theory of speciation wrong, but so was the mechanism for trait transfer (genetics).  What he wrote about isn't believed by any scientist today.

So stop raising Darwin up as a hero.  He was totally wrong.  He replaced Lamarck's theory of evolution with something even more unworkable.  You cannot even say that he provided the foundation of modern evolutionary theory, because modern evolutionary theory is punctuated equilibrium, not neo-Darwinism.

If you want a good history of evolution from an anthropoligist, go to and do a search for "evolution".  There is around six (low quality) audio files there.

Metadata conversion in ffmpeg1/7/2010 5:46:18 AM

Ffmpeg is a program that sets you convert various multimedia file formats into other multimedia formats.  For example, you can convert Ogg Vorbis to MP3, or back.  You can convert avi video files into divx files, or back.  There are dozens of supported formats.

The particular ability that I care about is converting m4a files to mp3 files.  This is because iTunes provides m4a files, but my Sansa Fuse doesn't play them.  M4a files are unprotected audio files, so it is pretty simple to convert them.  I use something like this ffmpeg -i "input.m4a" -ab 256000 "output.mp3".  This will convert the m4a input file to a 256Kbit mp3 file.

The problem is that the metadata (title, artist, album, etc) is not converted in the process.  However, I found a command line parameter that will allow it to do this.  Just add -map_meta_data 0:0 to the command line (I usually do it before the output filename).  There is another problem though.  For some reason it maps the m4a "composer" field to the mp3 "artist" field, which isn't right.

The biggest drawback to ffmpeg is that you, for the most part, cannot download the executable.  It is only available as source code.  I compiled the executable a few months ago but didn't have my development environment setup anymore.  So, after much searching to see if there was a fix, I decided to install MinGW, MSYS, and the ffmpeg and mp3lame source code (using as my guide) on my machine and fix it myself.

I don't know the "right" way to fix it, but the method that worked for me involved modifying the libavformat/mov.c file.  In the mov_read_udta_string function is a mapping between the raw data "table of contents" and the human-readable tag name.  In order to get the AAC decoder to give the tags to the MP3 encoder in a way that it would understand, I changed the key name.  I changed "author" to "artist", and "year" to "date", since these are the tag names as MP3 knows them.

I probably could have modified the libavformat/id3v2.c file to change the MP3 names into the AAC/M4A names, but I tried it the first way and it works.

Now, I say that this might not be the right way because other downstream components (that I am not using) might not like the new tag names for the AAC format.  But I don't care because it suits my needs.

Arduino + LCD1/15/2010 2:19:41 PM

I went to Skycraft yesterday and got four things.  A surplus LCD screen along with a "helper" board that I cannot figure out, a missile switch cover, a DC Jack (5.5 x 2.1mm) which fits the Arduino and lets me use a 9V battery, and a mono-multivibrator.

The multivibrator was sort of an accident.  I was looking for a 8-bit shifter with ID# 74HC595, but I couldn't find any.  I saw this chip with 74HC211, and hoped that since the numbers were close that they might be kind of the same thing.  Nope, the 74HC series is a whole bunch of chips, so I pretty much had no chance of randomly finding a shifter.

Anyway, I put the missile switch cover on my "nightplay distraction", AKA a camera flash.

I soldered the DC jack to a 9V battery connector.

Now I have to figure out how to get the LCD to work with the Arduino.  I have read a lot about it, but have yet to build the circuit.  It looks pretty straight forward though.

Factcheck.org1/28/2010 8:07:11 AM

Is not going to report on the State of the Union speech?  Or, was the speech completely accurate?

I went to be about 20 minutes into it.  My blood pressure was getting to high.

Perhaps there is just so much do do that it will take a long time to process it. - Joe Schneider @ 1/28/2010 9:04:22 AM

Resize boot/system partition2/2/2010 9:24:56 AM

At work, we have a server that had a single hard drive.  For some reason only 10GB, out of 60GB, was actually allocated.  I didn't want to make the unallocated space into another drive, that is annoying.  Windows 2003 does not come with the ability to resize the boot/system partition.  There are may programs out there that do it, but they are expensive.

I found a reference to a Dell utility that lets you resize the partition.  I tried it and it works great (and very fast).  The only problem is that you must specify the amount to add, you cannot leave it blank and let it add all of the unallocated space.

This utility fits a very niche (but common) purpose.  A single drive with a partition followed by unallocated space.  It doesn't do all the fancy things that commercial partition managers do (like merge, shrink, split, resize, etc).

That is a handy utility.  Usually, I use some sort of linux based resizing tool to do the job.  Some of such tools support NTFS, but of those I am fearful.  Does this little program have a command line help interface, such as explaining the syntax? - Joe Schneider @ 2/2/2010 12:28:23 PMIt does, but the syntax is very basic.

Keep in mind, this is a remote machine and I only had Remote Desktop Connection access.  If I had physical access, I would have used a live cd with GParted or something. - Chet @ 2/2/2010 2:17:39 PM
No physical access is a problem.  It is good to hear that this tool works when connecting remotely.  I will have to let the technicians at my work know about this tool. - Joe Schneider @ 2/16/2010 5:16:03 PM contains the documentation. - Joe Schneider @ 2/16/2010 5:16:59 PM

Techo Samples3/1/2010 2:03:48 PM

I am trying out Linux Multimedia Studio.  I made some techno samples.  If you want to hear them, go to

Robbie Is Three Months Old3/1/2010 2:05:40 PM

I cannot believe it has been three months since he was born.  He likes to "talk" and look around.  He can watch me walk around the room.  When we open up his swaddling, he "pops" open (he stretches his arms and legs out like an X).

He only has an inch or so left before he is too big for his bassinet.  However, we have been putting him upstairs in his crib for many of his naps, this should make the transition easier.

He pretty much refuses to eat from a bottle.  We can get an ounce in him if we are lucky (he should eat something closer to 5-6oz during a feeding).

He loves "Itsy, Bitsy, Spider", "Bears, Bears, They Got No Cares" (Andrew Peterson), and "Little Bunny Foofoo".

He is pretty much the cutest baby I have ever seen.

httpModules in IIS73/9/2010 8:54:44 AM

In II6, and in II7 "classic mode", httpModules are defined under:


However, in II7 "integrated mode" (the default mode), they are defined under:


Now, remember that Vista, Windows 2008, and Windows 7 come with IIS7, while XP and Windows 2003 come with IIS6.  This means that if you are developing a website on a machine with one version, and you deploy it to a machine with a different version, you will get errors saying that the module was not specified in the web.config file.

Best practice is to always define the module in both places so it will continue to work no matter what version of IIS is being used.

Some modules are nice enough to indicate, in an exception, exactly what you need to specify in the web.config file.  However, the particular module that I was working on was older and didn't remind you to specify the module in the IIS7-specific section.

Inheriting from System.Web.UI.UserControl3/17/2010 10:17:10 AM

Do not bother trying to create a class that inherits from System.Web.UI.UserControl and put it in a class library.  The .NET Framework compile-time generates code to render the child controls.  You don't get this compile-time generation unless your assembly is a website.

You could go though an manually write when would have been generated, but this gets complicated as you add more controls.

A way to avoid this problem is to avoid .NET altogether. - Joe @ 3/18/2010 7:15:18 AMWow - Chet @ 3/22/2010 7:31:55 AMThaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanks
That helps me. - Firas @ 8/18/2011 4:06:12 AM

More Techno Samples3/18/2010 11:16:46 AM

Fourth Try and Fifth Try have been posted to

These are fun.  I am generally a fan of techno / house music.  The usual lack of vocals makes it ideal to listen to while doing homework. - Joe @ 3/18/2010 12:59:04 PM

New Health Insurance Law3/22/2010 7:32:12 AM

Requires every single citizen to have health insurance.  Yeah, that is Constitutional.

What happens when an illegal immigrant needs healthcare?  He will not have been paying into the system, yet will still get full coverage.

Also, taxes start this year, but benefits won't start until 2014.  In addition, unless something big changes in my life, I won't benefit  at all anyway because I already have health insurance.  Just more taxes.

This law opens a whole new set of campaign promises, like: Don't think you are getting enough benefits?  Vote for me and I will increase heathcare spending.

Or, "Congressman John Doe voted against an increase in healthcare spending, he wants you to die."

We have already heard these kinds of statements in relation to Social Security and Medicare.  Now we will hear them for "general" Healthcare.

I would rather have a greedy businessman in charge of my health insurance rather than a greedy/incompetent bureaucrat (who can use the police power of the state to enforce his will... read: IRS).

If the bill actually increases taxes, it is unconstitutional.  I wonder if they altered the language of the bill to "not actually raise taxes."  If so, they their budget predictions are flat out lies.  Either way, they are a bunch of deceptive humanists who cannot be trusted.

P.S. You should modify your captcha to allow the hex value for the answer. - Joe @ 3/22/2010 6:49:46 PM
Haha, I should. - Chet @ 3/24/2010 7:43:58 AM

HDD Acoustic Support3/24/2010 7:44:03 AM

I upgraded the BIOS firmware on my Dell Optiplex 760.  I was trying to get two video cards to work and hoped a firmware upgrade would help.

One of the BIOS options is HDD Acoustic Support, which changes how the drive operates.  There are four modes: Bypass, Quiet, Suggested, Performance.  I had mine on Performance.

I read the changelog for the firmware upgrade, and noticed that one of the "enhancements" is removal of HDD Acoustic Support.  After installing this update, my computer starting making a persistent high-pitch noise.  Not terribily loud, but very annoying.  I figured that I might have messed up the power supply (the usual culprit for high-pitch whines), or unseated the video card.

After a bunch of research I got to thinking that maybe the sound was coming from the hard drive, and that this acoustic support removal was the cause.  So, I reinstalled the A05 version of the BIOS firmware, and the problem went away.  Whew.

I guess the FW folks wanted the drive to run at full RPM all of the time.  That sounds like an invitation for an early drive failure. - Joe @ 3/25/2010 1:58:30 PM

MSSQL on PHP4/2/2010 8:06:55 AM

Enabling the php_mssql.dll extension in php.ini might fail silently.  If you look at the output of phpinfo(), there will be no references to mssql.  A cryptic error message can found in the error log.  It says:

PHP Warning:  PHP Startup: Unable to load dynamic library 'C:\PHP\ext\php_mssql.dll' - The specified module could not be found.

This makes it sound like it couldn't find the php_mssql.dll file.  It is clear that the dll file is in the correct location.  Firing up Process Monitor, you can see that it has a dependency on ntwdblib.dll.  This file is usually located in the PHP base directory... no problem there.  However, this dll has a dependency on msvcr71.dll, which is not provided by PHP install.  You need to locate the file on your harddrive and do one of the following:

Put the location in your PATH, and reboot.
Copy the file to the PHP base directory.

Until you do this, PHP will run fine, but if you look at the output of phpinfo(), you will not see any references to mssql.

PHP and MsSQL should not be used together.  Doing so will rip a hole in the space/time continuum. - Joe @ 4/2/2010 9:33:47 AM

Robbie is a chatterbox4/28/2010 7:31:14 AM

Robbie loves to "talk".  He makes noises all the time.  Sometimes he will wake up early and just talk to himself.

If there are strangers around him and they are being loud, he won't talk.  But if you are quiet he will.

Also, if Amanda or I talk, he will start talking.

It is amazing that he knows that the sounds coming from us are 1) something he can mimic, 2) are something he should mimic.

Times Square Bomb5/4/2010 10:05:53 AM

Mayor Bloomberg was really quick to speculate that the Times Square car bombing was likely “homegrown” and could have been placed by “somebody with a political agenda who doesn't like the health care bill or something.”

The first thing Bloomberg thinks of are those who don't like ObamaCare, presumably conservatives or Tea Party activists.

Turns out it was a Pakistani-American, and that Pakistan's Taliban has claimed responsibility for it.

But that's right, keep trying to make it look like it is rational to think that conservitive activists are just itching to blow up a supermarket.

Your post hits the nail right on the head.  Conservatives are being painted as extremists and will make it easier for the government go take action against them even if they have not done anything wrong. - Joe @ 5/4/2010 11:11:30 AM

Oracle cursors in Toad5/13/2010 1:01:28 PM

We use a lot of stored procedures in our applications. I don't like that, but that is how it is.  One of our applications uses Oracle, and the primary method of returning a dataset is through a cursor.

   cv_1 REFCURSOR;

This is fine, but it makes it very annoying to debug because Toad (essentially a low-quality SQL Server Management Studio for Oracle) doesn't know to output the cursor to the datagrid.

I finally found a way around this.

   type cv_1 is REF CURSOR;

Notice the two changes.  First, cv_1 is now a type, and there is colon before it when it is used as a paramter.  When Toad executes this, it will ask you to bind cv_1 to a variable.  Just choose "cursor" from the drop down list, and press ok.  The output of the stored procedure (which is in cv_1) will be displayed in the datagrid.

Anniversary5/17/2010 1:04:19 PM

Amanda and I have been married for seven years now... wow.  Love you Amanda!

Congrats! - Joe @ 5/19/2010 11:44:42 AM

Robbie sleeps upstairs at night5/18/2010 9:05:08 AM

Robbie has officially moved out of our room.  He has been taking all his daytime naps upstairs in his room for about 2 months now.  Sunday night was his first night in his room.  He did great.  We put him down at 8:00, he made a peep around 10:30, and we woke him up at 7:00 in the morning.  Last night he didn't even peep, he just slept :-).

Amanda and I also moved upstairs.  The downstairs bedroom will become a guest bedroom.

It is sad that Robbie is out, but it makes me happy that he is progressing down the road to independence.  I know there will be many more of these occasions, but this was the first big one.

La Nouba5/24/2010 1:37:06 PM

For our seventh anniversary, Amanda and I went to see Cirque du Soleil's La Noubla at Downtown Disney last Thursday.  The show was excellent and worth every penny.  I particularlly liked the juggler, the silk rope flier guy, and the trampoline finale.

The auditorium (or whatever you call it) was a lot smaller inside than we thought it would be.  The worst seats were still pretty close to the stage.  The show was French based (shock), and had a lot of very cool parts.  All the music is preformed live by musicians partially hidden on the sides of the stage.  The performers do not enter and exit from the sides of the stage, there are large sections in the stage that can be raised about 20 feet and the performers come in by standing on the floor of this section.  These sections can also be lowered deeper than the floor, so a performer can just stand there and be lowered out for his exit.

During each act, there were clowns mimicing the "true" performer.  For example, during the juggler act, a clown was off to the side messing around with the stuff the juggler would need in a minute.

There are four categories of seats: front and center, Category 2, Category 3, and Category 4.  We got Category 2, which is in on the ground floor, but off-center.  It was neat because, for example, when the bicyclist raced to the edge of the stage and stopped, it was right about face level and kinda unnerving.  However, if I were to go again, I would not buy the nice seats again.  I would buy Category 3 seats, which are above the stage and further back.  There was just too much happing on stage to take it all in from as close as we were.  Being further back would allowed us to see more of it without shaking our heads back and forth.

Good luck getting seats though.  I wanted to go during the weekend, but both shows were sold out every night.  Finally settled on a Thursday.

I am glad you had such a good time and I am SO glad you are happy!

PS time to post a new 'captcha' - mom @ 6/3/2010 5:42:36 PM

Lost5/24/2010 4:48:16 PM

I watched about 6 episodes of Lost during season one.  Amanda and I had just gotten married, our antenna didn't pick up the station, so we had friends record it for us.  After about six episodes they stopped recording it, so we stopped watching.

I remember thinking that every episode got us deeper into the plot, and never resolved any loose ends.  Now that the series finale has aired, we discover that they just kept doing that.  I am glad I stopped when I did.

Graph Traversal6/17/2010 1:17:18 PM

If you change a graph traversal algorithm from stack-based to queue-based, you change it from depth-first to breadth-first.

Breadth-first is useful when you want to process siblings before processing their children.  Depth-first traversal processes as deep as it can before backtracking.

Interesting note: although this is clearly a use for recursion, either method can be implemented iteratively to save space on the stack (and sidestep potential stack overflow issues when there are many nodes).

Ronald "Bud" Van Tassel6/29/2010 3:53:16 PM

My father-in-law, Bud Van Tassel, went to be with his Savior, June 27th, 2010, at 6:10pm.  Everyone who knew him loved him.  He will be missed.

In February it was discovered that he had stage four colon cancer.  By May it had spread throughout his body.

I am sorry to hear about your loss.  You and your family are in my prayers. - Joe @ 7/1/2010 3:00:09 PM

CIY Shirt8/3/2010 7:04:13 AM

CIY has a shirt which has a crest with the words "Regnum factum" written in it.  The literal translation is "rule deed".  How that makes sense, I have no idea.

Is that like the rule of faith or spiritual disciples? - Joe @ 8/3/2010 7:22:58 PMKingdom of Heaven is how it is translated in the Latin Vulgate - Chet @ 8/5/2010 6:31:27 AMHere's your answer...
Factum means 'deed, accomplishment, work...'
Regnum means 'rule, dominion, kingdom...'
So if you know anything about what CIY does for people this is what they ask for people to do and be...

Kingdom Worker... - andy @ 8/6/2010 5:51:06 PM
Makes sense, thank you! - Chet @ 8/7/2010 6:21:59 AMFactum is something that is for certain. Regnum is Kingdom, like the Kingdom of Heaven. So you could think, we know heaven is certain. - Anonymous @ 4/7/2015 5:13:48 PM

TargetInvocationException when using BinaryFormatter.Deserialize8/4/2010 2:25:14 PM

When you serialize an object using BinaryFormatter the type information is stored in the output stream.  During deserialization, the type information is used to load the assembly.

Therefore, if you change the assembly name or strongly sign your assembly, the formatter will not be able to find the assembly.  Fusion will look for an assembly with a null PublicToken, but fail because it is only finding one with a non-null PublicToken.

You can look at the FusionLog.  If you see this pattern you are on to the issue.

LOG: DisplayName = MyAssembly, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=null


LOG: Attempting download of new URL file:///C:/inetpub/wwwroot/bin/MyAssembly.DLL.
WRN: Comparing the assembly name resulted in the mismatch: PUBLIC KEY TOKEN
ERR: Failed to complete setup of assembly (hr = 0x80131040). Probing terminated.

As far as I can tell, there is no "fix" for this, your serialized byte array is trashed and cannot be recovered.  I simply deleted them from the database.  If you are in a pinch you can remove the strong name, recompile the assembly, and try to deserialize again.  Also, if you run the byte array through any of the hex-to-ascii utilities online, you can plainly see the data.

I didn't try to alter the byte array to point to the strongly-named assembly.

Laser Tag8/12/2010 3:20:05 PM

Went with the youth group to Wonder Works to play Laser Tag last night.  I totally destroyed.  I played five games and had the high score in all but two (came in second and third).

I love laser tag.  I have a dream of opening a laser tag course.

One day when our debt is paid off and God says go ahead....  :D - Amanda @ 8/17/2010 9:54:07 AM

Turned 0x1c Today8/20/2010 6:44:17 AM

It seems that I have been 27 forever, but I put that year behind me today.  I am now 28.  Yea me!

I get swedish meatballs for dinner, my favorite.  And we are going to Barnes and Noble tonight.

Danosh8/23/2010 11:28:01 AM

My brother-in-law, Josh, and one of his friends invented a ball game several years ago.  It is like four square, but is three rectangles.  I built a website for it, and a Facebook fan page.  Check it out.

Qur'an Book Burning9/8/2010 10:16:38 AM

I will start by saying that I don't agree with what they are planning on doing.  However, we need to expand the context here and see what this is and is not.  This cannot be compared to book burning in Nazi Germany at all.  That was an authority seizing and destroying dissenting views with the expressed intent on keeping the views from propagating.  This church is not an authority; it is not seizing the Qur’an, and the intent is not on keeping the views from propagating.  In fact, I would argue that this isn’t a religious statement at all, but a political one.

Also, there is nothing inherently un-Christian about book burning.  In fact, Acts 19:19 commends those who were practicing sorcery and burned their scrolls.  To apply this to the current event, it would need to be former Muslims bringing their Qur’ans to destroy.  Now I ask, why don’t we see this happening more?  Is it 1) that Christians are not converting Muslims, 2) that former Muslims are keeping their holy book even after being converted, 3) that former Muslims are quietly destroying their copies of the Qur’an?

I’ll tell you what is un-American: death threats against a group exercising their legally protected right to free speech.  And I would say the exact same thing regarding a group destroying copies of the Bible that they legally obtained.

I wonder if there would be the same outcry from Christians (and government officials) if they were to gather up and burn copies of the Satanic Bible.

I’ll tell you what is un-Christian: thinking that we can effectively evangelize people of a different religion by burning their holy book.  This is a superficial attack.  Jesus offended with substance, not style.  We need to show the Muslims that Christians have something more to offer.  Part of that is showing their emptiness (lostness).  Part of that is showing the fullness of Christ (through the example we set when living our lives).

What this church is doing does not show the fullness of Christ being lived out.  “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  Matthew 5:44

As an aside: I will point out that it is interesting that people are worried about violence by the so-called “religion of peace”.

Internet Explorer 99/16/2010 8:06:19 AM

IE9 Beta is out now.  It seems to use ClearType better, and it is very fast.  I like it.

Two things I don't like: They have put the tabs and the address bar on the same line, and the search box has been combined with the address bar (like Chrome does).

Hopefully the final version will *allow* me to put the tabs on their own line.  I have too many tabs open to share the line with the address bar (the tab get smaller).  I think I can get over the address bar/search bar being combined.

Also, IE9 has much better CSS3 support, and HTML5 support.  In fact, two CSS features that I have always wanted are now supported: box-shadow and border-radius.

Invalid UTF-8 Characters9/30/2010 11:47:09 AM

When using the System.Net.WebClient, I sometimes get an error along the lines of, "cannot deserialize <object>, invalid utf8 character."

This happens when someone copies and pastes text from a word processor, it commonly happens with "smart quotes", which are not ASCII characters, but actually Unicode characters in the 8217 - 8221 range.  The .NET Framework's String class uses Unicode (UTF-16) internally anyway, so this isn't a problem typically.

The WebClient has an Encoding property, which defaults to System.Text.Encoding.Default, which is the Windows 1252 code page.  The Unicode characters get converted to Windows 1252 and their values are wrong.

What you need to do is set the WebClient's Encoding property to System.Text.Encoding.UTF8.  Then, if you were to look at a packet analysis, you would see that the 8217 (right single quote) is sent as 0xe2 0x80 0x99.

Cats don't like citrus10/11/2010 2:36:44 PM

We had an orange tree in our back yard when I was a kid, so I learned at a very young age that cats don't like the smell of citrus.

This is why those "cat trainer" sprays contain lemon oil.  Apparently they don't like vinegar either.

I wonder how they fight off scurvy.

USPS DeliveryConfirmationV3 is not a valid API10/20/2010 8:05:03 AM

I was helping someone on Expert's Exchange with a web service call to USPS.  When you create a developer account they give you access to the test servers, when you are done testing you email (!) them to get upgraded to production.

Apparently their test servers just don't work.  Even though their docs indicate how to use the test servers, some of the API calls are not available or the version that is documented is not available on the test server.  For example, you can issue a RateV2 request, but not a RateV3 request.  You cannot issue any DeliveryConfirmation requests at all.  They just don't work.

The solution is to forgo the test server altogether and immediately request that you account be upgraded and start testing on the production server.

The only difference in urls is the "Test" portion, but your user id won't work on the production server until it is upgraded. Wizard on Experts Exchange10/25/2010 8:10:53 AM

I just attained "Wizard" rank on Experts Exchange.  One earns this rank after getting 300,000 points, which means I answered about 200 questions in this category.

Overall, I have "Sage" rank with over 500,000 points in all categories.  I have answered 386 questions so far.

The primary reason I keep my score up is because I get to ask questions for free, which comes in handy because by the time I am deperate enough to actually ask a question I need it done quick.

Disable Script Debugging VS 200811/11/2010 9:51:22 AM

When debugging pages with a lot of JavaScript, Visual Studio can bog down because it sets up/tears down debugging on every single page load.  Also, if you have a lot of anonymous functions it can slow down the page performance in general.

Solution: Disable script debugging in Visual Studio and just use Internet Explorer's F12 Developer Tools to handle JavaScript debugging when you actually need it.

I find Visual Studio's JavaScript debugging to be a pain to work with anyway, althought it does provide some excellent functionality.

To disable it run this from the command line:
reg add HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\VisualStudio\9.0\AD7Metrics\Engine\{F200A7E7-DEA5-11D0-B854-00A0244A1DE2} /v ProgramProvider /d {4FF9DEF4-8922-4D02-9379-3FFA64D1D639} /f

If you ever need to turn it back on, run this:
reg add HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\VisualStudio\9.0\AD7Metrics\Engine\{F200A7E7-DEA5-11D0-B854-00A0244A1DE2} /v ProgramProvider /d {170EC3FC-4E80-40AB-A85A-55900C7C70DE} /f

These instructions taken from

Happy Birthday Robbie12/1/2010 8:20:26 AM

Today is Robbie's first birthday.  I cannot believe it has been a year.

We got him a nice wagon (off Craigslist) and some toys.  His party is this weekend and he will get a lot more then.

Robbie's MRI12/3/2010 12:54:45 PM

We took Robbie for his MRI on Thursday.  They had to sedate him because he is so young, and it took over 5 hours start to finish.

We have a followup with the neurologist in two weeks.  We aren't expecting her to find anything, but the neurologist wanted to cover all the bases.

House Painting12/6/2010 10:58:32 AM

Well, I finally got around to borrowing my dad's scaffolding.  He also had a paint sprayer so I borrowed it too.

The "scaffolding" is actually ladder jacks, and it is pretty scary being on a bouncy piece of wood 20 feet off the ground  Especially since the ladders are also bouncing and swaying.  It is also hard to get that heavy piece of wood up 20 feet by yourself.  It is two 12x2 pieces of cedar straped together, probably 100 pounds.  I eventually worked out a system to hoist it up using ropes.

Overall the paint sprayer was easy to use and saved a ton of time.  The trick is to not spray too much.

It took me about 5 hours to figure everything out and do the painting and then clean up, and that was just for one of the walls.  Next week I have to do the entire back wall, it will probably take me all weekend.

SQL Management Studio 2008 against SQL 2005 Database1/7/2011 11:10:59 AM

When using the table designer in SQL Server Management Studio 2008 SP2 against a SQL Server 2005 database I get the following error: Invalid column name "lock_escalation_desc".

After using the SQL Profiler to see what is being queried by SSMS, I see that the problem is that 2008 expects the sys.tables table to contain a column called lock_escalation_desc.  The problem is that this column wasn't added until SQL 2008.  It doesn't exist in SQL 2005.

Pre-SP2, the SSMS queried the table properly -- that is, it took into account that this is a 2005 database and didn't include that column in the query.  After installing SP2 it stopped working.

Uninstalling Microsoft Sql Server 2008 SP2 resolved the issue.

Robbie2/2/2011 8:22:09 AM

Robbie has been diagnosed with hypotonia.  Basically, it is low muscle tone.  It isn't a strength issue per se, it means that at rest his muscles aren't as "tense" as they should be.

This causes issues because it makes it harder for him to crawl, stand, walk, jump, and run.  It also affects his oral motor abilities and is probably contributing to his lazy eye.  His condition appears to be a relatively mild version.

If left unattended he would develop unhealthy ways to compensate.  Fortunately we have caught it early (very early by some things I have read) and he is now in physical and speech therapy.

The physical therapy has helped enormously.  Whereas a few months ago he wouldn't bear weight on his legs and roll over immediately when placed on his belly, now he is crawling like crazy and standing with support.  We are now working on getting him to cruise (walking with support).  Robbie is actually a very quick study, in less that one week since we started teaching him he is moving the distance of the couch.

The speech therapy is actually feeding therapy and is going to help us deal with his eating issues.  For one, since he has low muscle tone in the mouth muscles, he doesn't work food around in his mouth.  If he can (if the food is soft enough) he just swallows it immediately.  This means that he cannot eat solid foods because he gags on them (because doesn't chew them).  In addition, the epiglottis does not close tight enough when he drinks thin liquids (like water and juice) and so he aspirates.  With time this could cause pneumonia and other respiratory tract infections.  We recently had a swallow study done and they were able to detect this.  Now we are adding xanthan gum to his drinks to thicken them.  This has helped a lot.

In addition, the weak muscles in his mouth make it more difficult for him to practice talking (although he does jabber quite a bit).

Other than these gross motor issues Robbie is doing great.  His doctors and therapists continually comment on how social he is and he seems to be quite intelligent.  His fine motor skills are also good.

.NET Reflector2/16/2011 8:47:04 AM

If you are a .NET programmer be aware that .NET Reflector will no longer be free after this month.  I suggest that you save a copy in case you need it again in the future.

If you are a .NET programmer and you don't know what I am talking about, then go here and get Reflector and try it out.  It is a must have utility.

TFS Transaction Log Backups2/23/2011 10:39:55 AM

You can configure TFS to do backup if you install the TFS Power Tools.  One configuration is to backup the transaction log every 15 minutes.  The problem is that the backup does not truncate the log file and therefore you end up taking a backup of the hundreds of megs of transaction log every 15 minutes.

The SQL that is executed to do a transaction log backup is something like:

BACKUP LOG [Tfs_DefaultCollection] TO DISK = N'\\TFSDB\TFSBackup\Tfs_DefaultCollection_20101202142822L.trn' WITH NO_TRUNCATE , DESCRIPTION = N'Tfs_DefaultCollection database - Log Backup', RETAINDAYS = 7, NOFORMAT, NOINIT, NAME = N'Tfs_DefaultCollection database Backup', NOSKIP, REWIND, NOUNLOAD, STATS = 10

Notice the WITH NO_TRUNCATE predicate.  This needs to be removed in order to backup properly.

I dug into the assemblies with Reflector and ildasm and a slight tweak to the "Microsoft.TeamFoundation.PowerTools.Admin.dll" assembly (version 10.0.30831.0) will let you remove NO_TRUNCATE. The file is located in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2010 Power Tools\Team Foundation Server Backup Plan\

Using a hex editor (like XVI32), goto position 0x9709 from a 17 to an 18.  This has the effect of changing the LogTruncation value from NoTruncate to Truncate, which will remove the "NO_TRUNCATE" part of the SQL command.

In the process, your strongly named assembly will no longer validate properly.  This is fine for the TfsConfigPT executable because the modified assembly is in its AppBase path.  In this case, strong name validation is bypassed automatically.

When you load the TFS Management Console, it will not be able to load the modified assembly and you will no longer be able to administer the backup configuration.  This is not good.  In order to get the management console to bypass the validation, you need to copy the Microsoft.TeamFoundation.PowerTools.Admin.dll file into the C:\Program Files\Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2010\Tools directory.  In addtion, you need to make a small change to the registry to change where the management console looks.  Just modify the path in HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\TeamFoundationServer\10.0\Plugins\Backup\Binary.

This may sound like a lot, but it will only take 5 minutes, and it will save a huge amount of harddrive space.

Robbie's First Haircut3/14/2011 1:45:48 PM

Robbie got his first real haircut on Sunday.  We took him to Hair Cuttery in St. Cloud and he patiently sat while the lady cut his hair.  I am always amazed at how relaxed he is.  The "worst" he did was turn his head to look at her.

His hair is very wavly/curly and he has a bunch of cowlicks.  This means that even his cut hair looks strange.  In some ways he actually looks like his younger self.  In other ways he looks more like a little boy and not a baby.

HttpRuntime.Cache Add vs Insert3/21/2011 2:12:34 PM

Very simple, calling Add will not replace an existing object, it simply returns the object that has the same key.  Calling Insert will replace the object.

I will also point out that when you modify an object retrieved from the cache, you are changing the cache.  You do not need to re-insert it into the cache after you make changes.

i want to make the cache read only . i n my case i am modified the cache item and using it  what are the possibilities? - Ram @ 6/20/2011 5:31:47 PM

Robbie's First Campout4/20/2011 12:16:52 PM

We went to Blue Springs State Park over the weekend.  We rented a cabin and stayed the night.

Robbie did not like the cold water at all.  If he was distracted he was ok, but when we were just standing there he literally climbed up me trying to stay out.

I swam deeper into the boil than I ever have, probably about 25 feet.

We bought Robbie a little camping chair, we have a picture of he and I sitting in our chairs watching the charcoal grill.

There is a burn ban in effect in Volusia County, so we couldn't have a fire, which was too bad.

As a side note, if the park is full you can still get in if you are a camper.  Sweet!

Dell Optiplex 760 PLL Chipset5/5/2011 2:36:35 PM

This might be useful to someone.  SetFSB doesn't seem to support it, but maybe in the future.  My Dell Optiplex 760 uses the SLG8XP519T for its phase lock loop chip.

I've got one, trying to use a software overclocker, thanks for the info - bobby @ 8/2/2015 8:09:44 PMfound out that cv193cpag in setfsb works for optiplex 760 - bobby @ 8/2/2015 8:13:17 PM

Visual Studio F7 shortcut5/25/2011 1:25:33 PM

When in HTML (or Markup) view, pressing F7 will send you to the code behind.  This is very helpful because that is a common need.

However, there is no shortcut to take you from the code behind back to the markup.  This means that you have to find the file in the Solution Explorer and double click it (or find it in the open files bucket at the top).

I recently discovered that there is a command which will allow you to go back: View.ToggleDesigner.

To set it up go to Tools -> Options -> Keyboard.  In "Show commands containing" enter View.ToggleDesigner, and then press F7 in the "Press shortcut keys".

You can remove the existing shortcut for F7 (View.ViewCode) since this does the same thing.

This is going to save me a lot of time in the course of a day.

You are completely wrong... - Anonymous @ 8/11/2011 1:19:46 PMOk so apparently not wrong... the first time it was changed it didn't work. It sent me to the designer file. I reset defaults, tried again, and now it works properly. Weird. - Anonymous @ 8/11/2011 1:32:50 PM

Last Free Version of Reflector6/6/2011 12:09:03 PM

Red-Gate has been warning us that Reflector would become a for-pay product.  Well on May 30th this became true.  Older versions timebombed and you can only get the latest version (7.0) for a $35 fee.

However, they relented somewhat for existing users.  Here you go: if you have an older version you can "update" to version 6.8 for free.  This version will never expire.  However, you need to register it before August 2011.  When you register you get a serial number that can be used on up to 5 machines.

I highly suggest you download this while you still can.  The free version works for most purposes.

Deep Frier7/5/2011 1:03:39 PM

I got a deep frier for Father's Day.  I have always wanted one.

I made some onion petals for Amanda and I other other day to test it, and then I made a big batch of them for Independence Day.  They were a big hit and very easy to make.

My biggest fear is that the machine will be such a pain to clean that I will never use it.

Debt Ceiling8/1/2011 10:22:27 AM

I just heard John McCain say the dumbest thing about the Reid proposal to raise the debt ceiling.  He said the likes it because it cuts spending by more than it raises the debt limit.

Let's break this down:

It raises the debt ceiling by 2 trillion dollars, enough for it to last until the end of 2012 (just after the elections).  This is a year and a half, which means it raises it by about 1 trillion per year.

It cuts spending by 1 trillion dollars initially, over 10 years.  That means it cuts about 100 billion per year.  It has the ability to cut it by another 1.5 trillion if a committee can agree to the cuts.  This is not going to happen, but let's just say that it does.  That is another 150 billion per year.

So, he says it cuts spending my more than it raises the limit.  Not true, it raises the limit by 1 trillion per year and only cuts an absolute maximum of 250 billion per year.

And it 2012 they are going to have to raise the ceiling again, which diminishes the cut-to-limit ratio even more.

Impossible Questions8/17/2011 12:49:50 PM

I was perusing a book at Barnes and Noble over the weekend.  The book was about software development as an occupation (as opposed to the technical aspects).  Once chapter was about interviewing and some of the non-technical questions that people get from organizations like Google.

These are questions that you are not expected to know the answer to, but are intended to show your thought process.

There was only one question that I really looked at, it was "How many gas stations are in the United States?".  The example for how to come to an answer analyzed the question from the aspects of average number of cars served per hour.  He came up with 33,000.  He also said that to be considered correct, you should be within an order of magnitude (so his answer is close enough if the actual answer was closer to 33,000 than it it was to 330,000).

I gave it some thought the other day while I was driving, and I went about it in a different fashion.

Saint Cloud has a population right around 30,000.  After some thought, I determined that there were 12 gas stations in that city.  So, if I take this as an average city I would say that there is one gas station per 2500 people.  There are 300 million people in the United States, so this yields around 120,000 gas stations.  That would have been my answer.

So, I just thought to check my number.  Turns out, this is suprisingly close.  According to the 2007 census (latest data available), there are exactly 118,756.  I would say that I nailed that. :-)

Latest Arduino Project: TwitterSwitch8/19/2011 3:20:47 PM

At Christmas time, my wife is always asking me to turn on the lights on the tree.  This means I have to get up, walk over there, reach behind the tree, and plug them in.  Then I have to do the same thing before we go to bed.

Now this will be a thing of the past.

The YellowJacket is an Arduino + WiFi device which I got for Christmas last year.  This allows the Arduino to connect to the internet.

I wrote a web service which checks the latest status of a particular Twitter user.  It then returns a 1 or 0 depending on the status.  "Turn on" is 1, "Turn off" is 0.

The Arduino checks the value of this web service every 30 seconds.  When the value is 1, it turns on a solid state relay.  I have this relay wired like a switch to a power outlet.  I just plug the lights into this power outlet.  The relay is rated up to 25 amps, so technically I could use this to control almost anything no matter what size.

The YellowJacket was a Christmas gift, but it costs around $55.  I got the solid state relay from Skycraft for around $5.  I also bought an A/C outlet from the Home Depot for a few dollars.  I just need to put it all in a box.

Now, when my wife wants to turn on/off the lights, she can just log into Twitter and post the correct command.

In addition, I have my phone set to post to this Twitter account, so I can just send a text and control the lights.  I am very proud of this project.

I build this project several months ago, but I forgot to post and entry on my blog.

Latest Arduino Project: BankGauge8/30/2011 1:50:05 PM

My latest Arduino project is a device that logs into my bank and displays my checking account balance on an analog gauge (like a gas gauge on a car).

Using the WiFi capabilities of the YellowJacket from Async labs, every five minutes it connects a web service running on my web server.  My web service uses screenscraping to log into my bank account and determine the amount.  It converts this value to a range from 0-255 which is sent back to the Arduino.

The Arduino outputs this value on an analog pin which is connected to the gauge.  If my account has $500, it is "full".  If it is $0, it is "empty.

The YellowJacket was $55.  I got the gauge from Skycraft for around $10.  I also bought a nice enclosure box to put everything in, which was $5.  So, all told, the project cost $70.  That being said, the YellowJacket can be used for other projects (like my TwitterSwitch), so it isn't like I spent $70 just on this.

Descent in HTML59/2/2011 3:36:18 PM

I have started learning HTML5.  As my first project, I have done a first-pass on converting my XNA clone of Descent.  I call it Descent5.

Obviously there is a huge amount of functionality missing, but I think it is impressive.  I am using the Three.js library.  Right now, because I am using features specific to WebGL, you must use Chrome to view this demo.

Please be patient, it has to download a bunch of texture files and process of the vertices in the map.  It could take a minute before it shows anything.  Use your mouse and (A, W, S, D) to move.

Please keep up the work.  This has a good start.

Need to lock in the boundary scope to control movement.

- tangocasa @ 4/9/2012 10:20:59 PM
This is really awesome stuff. I just wish you kept it going. - Johnathan @ 12/31/2012 11:56:16 AMThis is really a game I spent a LOT of hours on in the old days, so it's be amazing having it available in the browser. So like the others, I'd just like to say;  Get working, man! :D - Kasper @ 11/15/2013 7:59:49 AM

Remote Control Lawnmower10/3/2011 12:27:53 PM

My remote control lanwmower project is pretty much done.  All that is left are some nice-to-have features like remote kill-switch, putting larger caster wheels on the front, mouting the electronics.

I have posted two videos on youtube.  They are scenes of my testing when my wife happened to have the camera, so they are not the most impressive demonstrations.

Trial run of just the frame
Lawn mower installed and cutting some grass

I think it goes 10-15 mph, but that is way to fast to cut the grass.

Added OAuth support to our application.10/5/2011 3:59:07 PM

OAuth essentially lets you issue a shared-secret to a client application (even if is written by us).  The shared-secret is tied to a key.  When a request is made, the payload is "signed" by hashing the secret with the payload.  Then the payload, the signature, and the key is sent to the server.

The server looks up the secret in the database using the key.  It then hashs the incoming payload with the secret.  If the signature matches, then you know that the client had the correct secret.

This lets you lock down *what* can access your web services.  Meaning, third party developers can't use are services without our permission, even if they have valid user credentials.

Another aspect is *who* can access the web service.  This is handled by issuing another shared-secret which is dependent on the user AND the client application.  Then the payload is hashed with the user shared-secret and the client shared-secret.

This allows third parties to "log in" as the user, even though the user didn't give the application his password.  We haven't implemented this part yet. CheckBox control10/14/2011 3:23:46 PM

I *hate* that there isn't a "bucket" to store information this control.  Lets say that the CheckBox is associated with a row in a table.  Each row is associated with an entry in the database, and they all have a primary key.

I should be able to stuff this primary key into the CheckBox somehow so that I can retrieve it easily later.

EQATEC Analytics10/20/2011 9:20:39 AM

Analytics software allows you to instrument your code.  This instrumentation can allow you to see what features are being used, generate timing information, monitor exceptions, and send information.  Homegrown instrumentation solutions can be written quickly and do some of the basics, but they lack the functionality of a commercial product.

A commercial product will provide a clean API, have the ability to send the data over the internet (rather than store it in a log which must be retrieved), and have a wide range of reporting capabilities (which homegrown solutions almost never have).

I have been using EQATEC Analytics for the past few weeks and it has all the features you would expect and more.  The dashboard provides excellent reporting capabilities which let you see, over time, how your features are being used and if you have any timing problems.  In addition, it logs all of your exceptions and allows you to track and close them as you fix the underlying issue.

In addition, since it is an enterprise-level solution it allows you to track multiple products and provide all the developers in your organization with their own access credentials.  You can even partition the products so that developers only have access to the products they care about.

Check it out,

Habby Birthday Robbie12/1/2011 8:08:40 AM

My son turns two years old today.  We dumped a dozen ballons in his crib when we got him up in the morning and he had fun playing with them.

We got him a large Curious George monkey doll which he loves.

I built him a chair modeled after one that Amanda's grandpa built for all his grandchildren.

wbr tag12/1/2011 1:02:10 PM

Wbr is a proprietary (non-standard) tag that has been around for years.  It is a rarely used tag, like marquee (which still works in IE9 by the way).

The purpose of this tag is to hint to the browser that it can insert a line break at its discretion.  For example, if you have long words in a table, you could put this tag in the middle of the word. If the browser needs the space, it will break the word, otherwise it just leaves the word together.

Since it is non-standard, it was dropped in IE8 but there is nothing similar provided to replace it.

There have been several hacks proposed to get it working.  The best I have seen is to simply take advantage that all inline-block elements will break optionally.  So add this to your stylesheet:

wbr { display: inline-block; }

Radioshack Contest12/2/2011 4:06:33 PM

I have submitted two of my Arduino projects to a Radioshack contest.  My twitter-controlled switch and my bank monitor.

The switch is currently running my Christmas tree.

Radioshack has started selling Arduinos in most of its stores.  They even sell the Ethernet shield.  Hopefully they will be able to find someone producing a WiFi shield and start selling that.  Async Labs had a great one, but they are out of business.

New Blogs I Follow1/13/2012 1:54:58 PM

I have three new blogs that I follow: - this guy is witty and very conservative.  I find this posts though provoking.  He hasn't written much lately. - This is Gene Veith's blog.  He wrote my second favorite book, "Postmodern Times".  His blog is mostly about current events, he copies and pastes from a site.  I find them insightful.  He also provides some commentary at the end.  He also discusses Lutheranism. - Micheal Behe wrote the book "Darwin's Black Box", which is a biochemist's analysis of the problems of darwinian thought when it comes to biomolecular components.  He is famous for the term "irreducible complexity".

Update1/15/2012 11:00:12 AM

Sorry I haven't written much.  Amanda is less than one month from her due date.  We have a name in mind, but are going to wait until after he comes.

Robbie is doing well.  He is obviously very intelligent, but it is easy for forget because he is so far behind physically.  Right now we are working on chewing and jumping.  He runs like a madman now.  Pretty much his favorite activity is looking at books and poking stuff.  He can sit on the floor and study/poke a stuffed animal for like 10 minutes straight.  He also loves the sand.  I think he would play in the sandbox literally all day if we let him.

Welcome Henry Jay2/20/2012 1:43:00 PM

Henry Jay arrived today at 1:32PM.  He is 8'11" and 20.5 inches long.

He looks a lot like Robbie, except his forehead isn't as pronounced and he doesn't have a strange ridge running along the top of his head.

Amanda is doing well.  Robbie is with his grandma and will meet Henry tomorrow morning.

Update4/6/2012 12:49:56 PM

Not much going on.  Henry is doing well, sleeping during the night and smiling a lot.

Robbie is running around like a maniac and climbing on the couch, something he should have been able to do over a year ago.  His therapy is really paying off.  His feeding/speech therapy isn't going as well.

Robbie doesn't mind Henry unless he is crying, then they are both crying.  It is a feedback loop: Henry's cries cause Robbie to cry (or run away), which in turn causes Henry to cry more.

I replaced the front caster wheels on my remote controllled lawnmower.  This forced to me extend the frame (so they wouldn't hit the lawnmower when they spin), and to raise the back end (so the frame is level).  Since I had to raise the back end, I have to make the chains longer.  I haven't gotten a chance to do this.  It is very time consuming to resize the chains.

There is a class on Udacity taught by a Stanford AI professor about how to build a robotic car.  I am going to try to implement his algorithms and turn my remote control lawnmower into an autonomous lawnmower.  This is way over my head, but it will be fun to try.

Henry Sleeping4/18/2012 4:17:14 PM

Henry started sleeping through the night a few nights ago.  It is so nice.  Woke up at 7:15.

9th Anniversary5/17/2012 9:37:07 AM

Today is our 9th anniversary.

Love you Mandy!

Love you too! - Anonymous @ 8/18/2012 2:59:35 PM

Lawnmower6/22/2012 3:49:27 PM

I have worked out many of the mechanical kinks in the remote controlled lawnmower.  It is working well now, and I am able to mow my entire yard on a single charge.

Having the large caster wheels lets it move through the grass easily so I don't waste power forcing the wheels through the grass.  I also mowed very high grass last weekend.  If the lawn mower can cut the grass, the motors will push the mower through it.

There is one last problem: the chains fall off.  For some reason if I make a sudden stop or turn one of the chains will fall off.  Sometimes it unscrews the nut that holds the gear on the motor in the process and I lose it in the yard (luckily I have replacement nuts, and I haven't lost a gear yet).

I think the problem is with the main sprockets. I had to drill new holes in them to bolt them to the wheels, and I didn't do a good job.  The sprockets sort of wobble making the chain tighter and looser, the chain probably falls off if I do something drastic when the chain is loose.

q coisa é essa pelo amor de deus  no tem nada ''-_-
- rafaela zata pavei @ 7/21/2012 2:15:39 PM
q legal! - rafaela zata pavei @ 7/21/2012 2:16:01 PMamei *_* - rafaela zata pavei @ 7/21/2012 2:16:20 PM

30th Birthday8/21/2012 4:15:43 PM

Amanda and I went to the Orlando Science Center and then to eat, and then to Barnes and Noble.

My sons gave me a canvas with their hand and foot prints.

Amanda gave me a RadioShack gift card so I can buy an Arduino.  She also bought me some candy and made swedish meatballs for dinner, my favorite.

30 seems like a no man's land.  You are no longer starting your career, but you haven't been doing it long enough yet to matter.  We'll see, I'll reevaluate my life in 10 years :-)

0x1d - Chet @ 8/21/2012 4:17:59 PM

HttpWebRequest and NotModified10/18/2012 12:34:40 PM

If you store a request's Entity Tag, and set the IfNoneMatch on the next request, the HTTP Response Status is 304 Not Modified.  The response does not include the payload (the idea being that it is already in your cache and hasn't changed).  This speeds up requests and reduces bandwidth consumption because less data is transferred.

Oddly, in the .NET Framework, any status except 200 OK causes an exception to be thrown.  You can catch the exception and see if the status was 304 Not Modified, and if so continue on.  If the status was 404 Not Found, then you know to return null.  If the status was 500+, then you know there was actually something wrong.

Everyone knows that exceptions are slow.  It is pounded into our heads when we start developing.

I don't know this for sure.  I cannot find any research, and I don't feel like testing it myself, but I suspect that any performance benefit gained from using Entity Tags is lost since a slow exception is thrown and must be handled.

I would have rathered that the ResponseStream be empty and the status be set.  Then a simple if condition could have been used.

Family Update10/18/2012 12:42:26 PM

It has been a while since I posted anything.

Robbie's drinks no longer need to be thickened.  Also, we are no longer heating foods that you normally leave unheated (like fruit and his milk).  He is drinking through the straw very well.

He is starting to answer questions with a "yes" and a head nod.  And shake his head no for a negative answer.  This is actually a big deal because he was freaking out when asked a yes or no question and we'd have to determine if it was an excited freak out, or a "I don't want to" freak out.  Not really a good thing.  So whenever he started freaking out, we would tell him "say yes" or "say no" (honestly, we know the answer when we ask it, so we know what he should be saying, like "want to take a bath" is always a "yes").

Robbie has also moved into a new room, and is sleeping in a toddler bed.  We had a rough start for the first few days.  The usual: getting out of bed, jumping in bed, etc.  A few times we caught him "reading" his books in the dark.  Its cute, but he needs to stay in bed.  However, the last week or two he has stayed in bed all night and stays when he wakes up in the morning.

Henry has been teething and not wanting to drink from the bottle.  He finally broke his second tooth yesterday and is drinking again.

Henry is sitting unsupported with no problem now, and can crawl if he wants to (like if the cat is nearby).  He is able to pull up to a standing position as well, so I think he will be cruising soon.

He loves everything Robbie does, and just smiles all the time when Robbie is around.  One of Robbie's favorite things is to put his face close to Henry so he will touch him.  Robbie definately seeks sensory input.

I should dedicate an entire post to this topic: we have decided once and for all that we won't be celebrating Halloween.  Anything I feel is from the "fall festival" tradition I am fine with, but the aspects of Halloween that are occultic we will leave out.  This means pumpkin carving is in, but dressing up and trick-or-treat are out (to name a few major things).

RC Lawnmower1/25/2013 12:18:08 PM

I get frequent requests for specifications and price for my RC lawnmower.  First, I will say that I got most of the plans from Arduino Robotics, but ironically this does not use an Arduino.  I only made a few modifications (notably: I used aluminum instead of steel, and I used electric scooter motors instead of wheelchair motors).  Aluminum is significantly lighter than steel, but it costs a lot more.  Electric scooter motors are cheaper than the wheelchair motors I saw.

Here are the parts I used:

I can't remember how much the metal cost.  Something like $150 all told.  Of course, this was my first try and I bought too much and messed a lot up.

Now, some notes on the price.  Before you get discouraged at how much this costs, remember that this was built so that it could take a 75lbs lawnmower through high grass and up small hills.  In fact, I weigh around 200 pounds and I can ride it just fine.  I also splurged on the RC controller and the ESC because I may want to do other things in the future.

How can the cost be reduced?

Those three things alone drop the price by at least $150.  In addition, if you are going with a lighter-duty vehicle (as these reductions imply), you could go with smaller wheels and less metal.  I'd say the price of the project could be reduced to around $500.  You just can't get around the fact that ESC, RC, motors, and batteries add up.

Final notes
I used a sawzall with a blade designed for cutting soft metals.  I also used a drill bit designed for drilling soft metal.  These were suprisingly expensive, but you need them.  Do not use a bit designed for wood on aluminum.  Most drill bit sets are for wood.

The chain was, by far, the hardest thing to get working right.  Between mounting the sprocket to the wheel straight, to removing links from the chain to get it the right length.  I spent more time on that than the rest combined.  I highly suggest a chain break tool.  I used a dremel tool to cut the links.

Newest Electronics11/5/2013 4:40:15 PM

Everyone is waiting to see the new Color Box.  This device displays the correct code when the RGB LEDs are the correct color.  You have to find the color key in the room to get the code.

Using the TI5940 for PWM of the RGB LEDs.  Looking for a chip that can handle four 7-segment LEDs without eating all the I/O pins on the Arduino.

I'll provide the schematic when I am finished and you all can build them.  I am going to need to build several of these to complete the room.

Puzzle Box11/7/2013 11:46:03 AM

I have completed the puzzle box.  It uses a set of reed switches, connected serially.  When all switches are active at the same time, a solenoid activates and allows the box to open.

The puzzle pieces themselves have magnets embedded in them, so based on position and orientation, the box will unlock.

Diagnostics2/10/2014 2:26:29 PM

The best way to break something is to give it to a little boy.  Of course, the best way to fix something is to give it to a man who broke things when he was a little boy.