Browse Month: August 2008

08/31/2008

With nothing really earth-shattering to do tonight, I decided to hack together some programming to allow me to send an e-mail to my server and have it drop right into this blog. So this is an e-mail– we’ll see if it ends up in the right place…

08/28/2008

Wow, these spammers are getting nasty. Today I have a message entitled “We have hijacked your baby”. I’m not sure how one hijacks a person, but certainly that sounds like bad news. I guess the message is supposed to be some kind of ransom note.

Of course the zip file containing a photo of my “fume” (?) contains an executable that, on a Windows machine, would probably install a nasty piece of software.

Stupid, stupid spammers.

08/27/2008

“Bite off more than you can chew, then chew it.”

— Ella Williams

08/26/2008

So Tom abandoned his blog after using it for years, moving over to Blogspot with the masses. I find that an interesting side effect of being a web developer is the subconscious need to “eat your own dog food”, meaning I feel like since I know how to write my own blog software, I should do that instead of falling back to some third-party toolset.

Of course I wrote this four or more years ago, when things like Blogspot didn’t even exist, and I’ve put so much stuff into it that it’s not really worth the effort to move everything to another (perhaps more capable) system. Ah well.

Mmm, dog food.

08/26/2008

So the web development world is abuzz with news of Mozilla’s new Ubiquity plug-in. Apparently it allows you to type things like “define ubiquity”, which will open a web page on dictionary.com or something and display the definition. Or “map 653 Elm St. Hoboken NJ” and hop over to Google Maps.

What’s funny is Konqueror (my browser of choice) has been doing this for years. It has “web shortcuts” built in when you install it, and you can customize it with anything you want. As such I have all kinds of shortcuts– and in fact “define” and “map” are amongst them. Just tonight I typed “wp:transcendental number” to pull open the Wikipedia article about transcendental numbers.

I tell you, it’s hard being so far ahead of the curve.

08/26/2008

It’s official. Cows generally point north.

A group of researchers who apparently had nothing better to do examined thousands of satellite images from Google Maps, looking at fields where cows were pictured. They found that most of the time, the cows are aligned along north-south magnetic field lines.

Just another factoid to add to my armory of party conversation starters.

08/24/2008

“The Bush administration… has made fear the main driver of our foreign policy. It has turned a deadly serious but manageable threat– a small number of radical groups that hate America– into a ten-foot tall existential monster that dictates nearly every move we make.”

— Senator Joe Biden, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee

Although I’m no fan of Obama, and Biden has a bit of a checkered past, his stance against the War on Terror is admirable and I’m hopeful that if he’s elected, we’ll see some changes in American policy– both at home and abroad.

08/22/2008

Seen on Slashdot:

We need the old USSR back. As odd as this seems, there was actually a sense of competition going on back then– competition for goodness. I remember mocking the USSR for having secret courts, secret laws, secret prisons. Now WE have those things. I think that at least in part it’s because we no longer have competition to compare and contrast our government’s behavior to, so people are less apt to associate this kind of totalitarian behavior with The Evil Empire. As a result, we have become The Evil Empire.

08/22/2008

My friend Paul is on the docket for a security clearance, and he mentioned my name as someone who can vouch for his character. That means the Defense Investigative Service (or something like that) sends a guy over to my house to ask probing questions about Paul.

“Does Paul have any problems with drug or alcohol abuse?”

“Does Paul exhibit any signs of mental instability?”

“Did anything happen in Paul’s past that could potentially be used to blackmail him?”

And my favorite:

“Does Paul associate with any subversive organizations, terrorist groups, or people who want to do harm to the United States?”

My answer to that one was, “You mean like the Republicans?”

Of course these investigators have their sense of humor surgically removed when they first start their jobs, so he wasn’t amused by my answer. He sort of sat there waiting for me to give him a real answer, and after a moment I admitted that no, Paul probably doesn’t hang out with terrorist cells.

Boy, I don’t miss those days of having a security clearance.

08/18/2008

“Both candidates in this election pledge to end this war and bring our troops home. The great difference, the great difference, is that I intend to win it first.”

— Senator John McCain

Wow, it must be kind of fun to live in the fantasy world inhabited by McCain. He’s going to win the war in Iraq! Win it! I suppose he’ll use elves riding magical flying unicorns powered by rainbow juice to do it or something, because I don’t know how else victory could be accomplished in the midst of that disaster.

08/18/2008

Woo hoo, more free schwag from clients! Today’s loot came from Sweet Leaf Tea down in Texas, who sent me an obnoxious green shirt and a cool gang-member bandanna.

08/17/2008

There was a block party in the neighborhood today, complete with catered food, a huge inflatable bouncy castle, and of course…

… face painting. Kyra makes a good tiger. (Or is the proper term “tigress”?)

08/17/2008

Yesterday we had a little adventure with a mouse. I was down in my basement office clacking away at the computer and noticed something on the screen of the window beside my desk. I thought it was a bird, but upon closer inspection it turned out to be a mouse. The little guy was about the size of a half-dollar, and he had somehow fallen into the window well and was apparently trying to figure out a way back up to solid ground.

Of course the screen wouldn’t get him there, nor was there really any way for him to climb the window well itself, so I figured we’d have to rescue him. I called Alex downstairs (he was the only kid home at the time) and he immediately insisted that we catch the bugger. We opened the window, popped the screen, and I grabbed the mouse as he scurried around the rocks outside.

As I was about to drop him into the handy CD-R spindle container, he made a mighty leap and jumped down to the floor. And let me tell you, that little sucker was fast. He ran for cover underneath the printer, and we prodded him with a hiking pole (yes, I have lots of interesting things in my office) until he ran across the carpet for the door. Luckily Laralee slammed the door in time, or he would’ve had free reign of the house. After a few minutes of chasing him and cornering him with ingenious combinations of foam board and camping equipment, we managed to get him into the spindle case.

Then it was amazing to see him jump. Had we not put the little phone directory atop the container, he would’ve leaped right out of there. He kept hopping up and down, slapping the book at the top, until I guess he finally figured it that wasn’t going to work. Then, with nothing else to do, he pooped in the container.

Alex trotted him around the neighborhood, showing Kyra and Zack (who were at different friends’ houses), and eventually released him back into The Wild down by the creek.

We thought briefly about how fun it would’ve been to put the mouse in the cage with Pumpkin (Kyra’s gerbil) but considering his teeny size, I suspect Pumpkin would’ve just eaten him. Or maybe just accidentally sat on him, who knows.

08/09/2008

Today was the summer ultimate league tournament. The sky was a gorgeous blue, the temperature was a nice 80ish, and there was only a light breeze. Beautiful weather for a day on the grass.

We were pretty much in the middle of the pack in the regular-season standings, so we were seeded against a team with a slightly better record. After a rough start we found ourselves down 5-9 but rallied for four straight points to tie it at 9-9 going into the final point. That last point went back and forth for a while, with everyone playing hard. All of us on the field were exhausted (and it was barely 11am!) and those on the sidelines were cheering and shouting… it was crazy. But the other guys scored the winning goal on a great diving catch by one of their women, so they advanced to the next round of the championship.

We, on the other hand, had the distinct privilege of playing in the consolation (“beer”) bracket, where we met up with a team who had a bunch of fun players. We put together a strong defensive showing, stopping them again and again as we continued to score, and found ourselves with a comfortable 8-1 lead. At that point we decided we should just have some fun, so we pulled out a secret somersault play:

A few points later we played an upside-down point, where everyone had to throw the disc upside down (hammer, scoober, dish, or just a straight upside-down pass). That was a blast, and we finally pulled it off after an (if I may be so modest) amazing fingernail catch by me:

(That’s me in the background– Josh is coming up the sideline and completely blocking the camera!)

So we beat them to advance to the beer bracket championship game– truly the pinnacle of any ultimate team’s season. Unfortunately the opposing team had all but disintegrated; several of their players had been injured in prior weeks or just couldn’t make it today, so they didn’t have enough to field a full team. The team we’d just beat asked if they could play, so a few of their players joined, and a third team jumped in as well. So we essentially played against three other teams at once.

Again we got off to a rough start and found ourselves down 3-7, but a rally tied the game at 7’s. They scored again to take the 8-7 lead, and then for reasons I still don’t understand about half of them decided to leave. As in, leave the field and go home. It was completely weird, but it meant we no longer had an opponent! The game was supposed to go to 15 but we had to stop. So in my heart I count it as a win by forfeit (although surely we would’ve won anyway– we were playing a strong game).

So there you have it: the beer bracket champions of the Boulder summer ultimate league.

It was a great season and a lot of fun. What a fantastic group of friends.

08/07/2008

Air travel sucks in so many ways it’s hard to describe. But every now and then I find myself in need of a quick flight somewhere, so I heave a sigh and gird my loins and make my plans.

For my latest escapade I’m flying from Denver to St. Louis and back, and was amused (or perhaps horrified) by one of the options United offers.

So I could fly direct from St. Louis to Denver in a jump a little over two hours long, or I could first go out to Pittsburgh before turning around and basically crossing right back over St. Louis on my way to Denver in a lovely six-and-a-half-hour tour of the country. What the heck…?

Oh, and the price is the same either way. Decisions, decisions…

08/03/2008

It looks like the Stargate, but it’s not…

It’s the heart of the Compact Muon Solenoid detector at CERN’s new Large Hadron Collider, the biggest and most powerful particle accelerator in history. This puppy is going to be used to dig into the very depths of subatomic physics, and could produce some real eye-opening data for physicists.

For now it’s producing some sweet pictures as the final components are put into place.