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Now until August

Wahhh wahh, it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to – this is my way to keep sane. All of this is aside from the normal wear and tear of life/work/school.
  • Haircut this week
  • Tuxedo Fitting 4/25
  • One research paper due 4/28
  • Buy Murray City Sticker before 5/1
  • Book  a Honeymoon by 5/1
  • Mail Wedding Invitations by 5/1
  • One group project due 5/5
  • Start moving 5/15
  • Convince three remaining groomsmen to be fitted 5/15
  • Take VCP (VMware Certified Professional) Exam week of 5/19-5/23
  • Complete moving into new apartment by 6/1
  • Change Car Insurance, Health Insurance, Life Insurance, Rental Insurance before or immediately after 6/19. BTW, State Farm totally killed Progressive on the last quote I got.
  • New cell phones
  • Get marriage certificate
  • Wedding 6/19
  • CIS695 graduate school capstone project, complete by end of July – 20 extra hours a week
  • Honeymoon early August

Other news:

Essentials 2010 Edition

See previous:

Inspired by Tim’s 5 open source apps I spend the most time using, here’s my 2010 Essentials. In no particular order:

  1. [School/Home/Work] Chrome – w/ AdBlock Plus, Greasemonkey and Google Mail Checker
  2. [School/Home/Work] Google Docs/Calendar/Reader – several Google Labs extensions
  3. [Work/School] Microsoft Office with OffiSync, Data mining addins for Excel
  4. [Work/Home] PuTTY
  5. [Home] Twitter/TweetDeck
  6. mIRC
  7. [Work] SQL Management Studio
  8. [Work] vSphere Client
  9. [Work/Home/School] Pidgin
  10. [Work/Home/School] iTunes w/ AudioScrobbler plugin
  11. [Work] Microsoft Sharepoint
  12. [Home]
  13. [Work] OpenVPN
  14. [Work] VMware Workstation
  15. [Work/Home/School] Notepad++
  16. [Work] FireGPG/Firefox
  17. [Home] Google Analytics
  18. [Home/Work/School] Facebook
  19. [Home/Work/School] Hacker News
  20. [Home/Work/School] FoxIt Reader

It’s interesting to see the changes to the list over the years. Jobs have changed but so have the tools, now all of the basic collaboration is done over the web.

Great Moments in (my) Car History

For as long as I’ve been able to drive, cars have been my nemesis. It’s not that I’ve had many problems with them, but they’re just a mystery to me.  No clue how they work, no clue how to fix them, no clue on what to buy. This is how a lot of people feel about computers.

Due to my complete lack of understanding, I get an insanely good feeling when I have any success with repairing a car.

Hammer Time

Months ago my car wouldn’t start.

I could put my key in, but not turn it at all. The lock cylinder needed to be replaced.

During the ride home, my lovely fiance told me to get it towed. I said something to the effect of “we’ll see”. I poked around on the Internet reading about this problem.

Google. “2004 Ford Focus key won’t turn in the ignition”. Result 1.  Hmm, it looks like I can start it by hitting the key with a hammer.

I got a ride to the car with my trusty hammer, bump the key and turn. It starts. HUZZAH! I had to have the lock cylinder replaced (~$100 locally) but I didn’t have to have it towed.  I felt invincible.  I conquered the car.

Lights Out

I was in Kansas City during August of 2006 and my old car’s driver side headlight went out.

For my Kentucky readers, this is a fairly big deal. Many other states are much more strict about driving with one headlight. I heard about this from some co-workers and I knew that I needed to fix the light myself, and soon. Two options: take it to the shop or be a man and fix it your damn self. I didn’t have any time to take it to a shop, so I stopped by an O’Reilly Auto Parts store on the way to DMac’s place and got the right part. Then I began to RTFM. The replacement was easy, but I felt like I was again, unstoppable. I conquered the car yet again.


This has all led to this week. Now my car’s driver side tail light is out.  I haven’t changed a tail light, but I need some good mojo to conquer this beast.

The game plan is on Wednesday to again RTFM. I’ll also have my trusty fiance by my side to help out, and she knows more about cars than I ever will.

I’ve also watched two videos on the subject. Any other advice?

Time Lapse

It’s been 9 years since I started blogging.

Today’s link to ponder is brought to you by Hacker News, my new Digg/Reddit/News Firehouse substitute:

Curse Of The Gifted

The summary: A smart (and now famous) computer guy wouldn’t work the way everyone else wanted to because it slowed him down.   The guy who wrote the letter is the older, experienced one who has this money quote:

When you were in college, did you ever meet bright kids who graduated top of their class in high-school and then floundered freshman year in college because they had never learned how to study?  It’s a common trap.  A friend of mine calls it “the curse of the gifted” — a tendency to lean on your native ability too much, because you’ve always been rewarded for doing that and self-discipline would take actual work.

Locally, our basketball team is going to the NCAA tournament.  We went to the game last night and visited Shalimar for some quality Indian food.

Funny of the day, via a new awesome website F Yeah, Puns! (could be NSFW):

Honeymoon plans are slow. We’ve decided we don’t want to leave the continental US. Where should we go in August?

When you were in college, did you ever meet bright kids who graduated
top of their class in high-school and then floundered freshman year 
in college because they had never learned how to study?  It's a common
trap.  A friend of mine calls it "the curse of the gifted" -- a tendency
to lean on your native ability too much, because you've always been
rewarded for doing that and self-discipline would take actual work.

Thoughts of the now

I’ll talk about the following today:

  • Academic Honesty
  • Snow Based Hysteria

Academic Honesty

Question of the day:

You’re given an assignment. You’ve got to write an ethics essay. You wrote one two years ago for another class. Is it academically honest to reuse the paper? Why/Why Not?

Snow Based Hysteria

Having spent nearly all of my life south of Mason-Dixon, there’s nothing quite like watching fellow southerners respond to snow. This tweet sums it up pretty well:

Why do you need flour? If the power DOES go out, what r u planning on doing w/ it?

In case you’ve never experienced southern snow based hysteria – it’s amazing. It’s anarchy. Everyone’s preparing for Armageddon. Yes, we had an ice storm last year – many lessons were learned… but I seriously doubt the forecast justifies the wave of shopping that happened a couple of weeks ago. Watch the forecasts, people. Snow Forecasted != snowmygod / New Ice Storm. The big ice storm was pretty easy to see coming, remember:

See that purple and blue stuff? That‘s what you need to be freaking out about.

Today’s Thoughts and Links

Today’s post covers the following:

  • Security
  • iPads
  • Finances



A lot of my time awake lately has been dealing with Information Security. Some ponderings:

Privacy 2.0. You’re only as secure as your friends allow you to be. [link]

Interesting and very scary thought. Especially with what I’m seeing with Google’s Social Search. This is fairly disturbing to me. Friends: Please let me know if you see anything from my account on this and I’ll work on getting it removed.

The more interesting part of this is the derivation attacks that can occur with something like Google Social Search or Facebook.  In the 2008 election, Sarah Palin’s email account was hacked. From a Wired article:

As detailed in the postings, the Palin hack didn’t require any real skill. Instead, the hacker simply reset Palin’s password using her birthdate, ZIP code and information about where she met her spouse — the security question on her Yahoo account, which was answered (Wasilla High) by a simple Google search.

With regards to secret question/secret answer and sharing of gobs of data, according to how “friendly” I am with someone on Facebook, this is worrisome.

  • What was the first school you attended?
  • What’s the name of your first manager?
  • What’s your first born nephew’s name?

With a little bit of elbow grease, some reasonable attempts could be made on almost every one of these answers. The problem is that Social APIs enable programmatic gathering of this data and focused attempts. Solution: Put in complete BS for secret questions & social networking; hope that you remember the BS and still have friends.

Long time readers should know that I was a fan of the tablet form factor six years ago. Pics here. It’s nice in niche environments but doesn’t really fit into everyday use.  The major change is that they’re using a touchscreen UI. All of the other “innovations” are just normal evolutions of software / hardware that happen over time (e.g., screen resolution, usability, better software).
See, in order for a device to be worth something it has to add more value than cost. Not just a status symbol or a cult mentality, but actually make life better without breaking the bank. Just like the already existent Windows based tablet PCs, the iPad is not going to be a value added experience for most people.
Things that a iPad/Kindle/eReader will have to do to REALLY add value:

For about a year, the iPad should bring some good competition to the tablet industry for user experience and price. That’s A Good Thing™.  After the first year, the industry’s competitive reaction will depend if they’re making money.

I wanted to get tax out of the way. What are the readers using for taxes? I’ve been a Turbo Tax customer for many many years, I was wondering if there were any better choices out there.