Friday, July 29, 2005

KU Construction Hazards and Dashed Techie Hopes

A Dilemma
I actually watched a guy fall up the stairs on the way to Bailey Hall. Yep, it was ugly. The kind of fall that sends notebooks flying in the bushes and scrapes knees against the concrete.

I was walking far enough behind that by the time I reached him, he was standing again, braced against the hand-support. That's when I saw blood. And he was no longer making an effort to get up the stairs.

What does a person do in this situation? Do I offer to help him the rest of the way? Or walk past under the pretense that I hadn't seen the incident?

The question is this: Which hurts more: trying to limp up the stairs on an injured knee or the scathed pride at having fallen *badly* in front of a person of the opposite sex?

Internet Explorer with Tabs?
That's a nice feature, but I would *much* rather have a browser that is standards compliant like just about EVERY OTHER browser on the market.

Here's a review of IE 7.0 I pulled from Slashdot.

A Subtle Note to Gates:
CSS-Support! Just *do* it! The most-used browser on the planet is stuck in the Ice Age. I'm going to bomb Microsoft if I have to include *one* more hack specific to fixing YOUR STUPID BROWSER in my code again...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Ubuntu is so Cool, It's too Bad their Colors Suck

Jeremy and I found a deal at Best Buy we couldn't pass up: 80G Hardrive, Sempron 3000 E-Machine. So we whipped out the credit card and did the "college thing," making purchases we can't afford.

The Service Rep
Fending this guy off proved a feat. He was going through his top-sellers-list, "offering" us: a firewall, anti-virus (which all KU students can get for *free*), etc.

When my polite attempts to quickly get out of the store failed, Jeremy stepped in, "Dude, we're gonna put linux on this thing as soon as we get it back."

The rep paled and silenced. Best Buy should maybe train their reps better, so they know a little about competitor products and not just the memorized, stock answers Best Buy wants them to shove down people's throats.

Installing Ubuntu
This is my favorite linux distro. that I've tried so far. The Ubuntu community offers a plethera of solid faqs for *every* question you could ever want answered unlike any distribution I've seen. The GUI is intuitive and friendly... but well, unfortunately kind of ugly.

What's with the diarrhea-brown everywhere? C'mon, you guys are *this* close to perfect.

Anyway, we don't have to look at it since we're running it console only.

A $300 toy
So, using it as a secure shell/web server sounded like a great idea for us in the store... Fast-foward to today: the thing is set up (on the floor since neither of us have an extra desk), ready to go and we don't have any files we want to put on the thing. Maybe we didn't plan this through very responsibly.

...At least it's fun to play with. :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Kansas Freshmen

I was following a girl today who had a $10 bill falling out of her right back pocket.

When I finally caught up to her, she was venting to a boy by the Chick-Fil-A stand. She told him she was furious; she had just come downstairs after having to pay an outrageous $3 overdue fee to avoid getting in trouble with the Bursar's Office.

I cut in, "Sorry. I don't mean to eavesdrop."

I made them aware, in case they didn't already know, that I was pretty sure students could renew their videos upstairs as many times as they wanted for free. I told them that although checking out videos are free, the libraries on campus tend to use steep late fees since instructors often need the videos for classes.

I said that I hoped what I said may help for next time.

Both stared blankly at me for a moment and I felt really stupid.

It was the girl who finally spoke.

"Thanks anyway," she said. "Next time, I think I'll just go to Blockbuster and avoid getting screwed by KU's bull***."

So, does Blockbuster not charge late fees?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Bowling Blows

I hate this stupid this game and don't want to play anymore.

Why Impatient People Should Pick Another Sport
How much more counterproductive can a game get than launching a urethane projectile at set of plastic rods flipping you the birdie from 60 feet away?

Best case scenerio: you nail 'em all. But don't get too excited because 15 seconds after hearing the satisfactory crack of exploding pins richocheting off the backboard, your crowning achievement is cleared away by a heartless mechanization replacing your conquered pins with a fresh set, white and new and flipping you the birdie.
  1. No one wins... *ever:* The purpose of this spectacle is to raise your average. It's not as simple as slaughtering more headpins than your neighbor. This is intended to facilitate the opportunity for newcomers to compete with the advanced. What it actually *does* is create an extremely frustrating game-setting, where the only way to win is to kick your own butt.

    Doesn't sound like a night out of fun to me. Hmm, a game where the harder I practice, the harder it will be for me to beat *myself.* Maybe, I'll stay home and clip my toenails instead. At least then I'd have some kind of notion of accomplishment.

  2. Everyone's an Expert: Nevermind that their averages are only 20 pins or so above yours. With stale-beer breath, freinds of friends of your father's bowling teammate from '72 that remember you from when you were "this big" will happily volunteer their successful (and often conflicting) bowling tips, leaving you dangerously tempted to test the structural sanctity of the plastic bowling pins against your thrashing foot.

  3. Bowling is Monotonous: This game's idea of variety is switching to another lane three feet away that is identical to the one you just played on. Then you get to switch back. And switch again.

In Short
Without divulging too many details, I think it's fair to say bowling could have gone better this week.

An upside is that Jaybowl lets KU students bowl for $1/game all summer long in the basement of the Kansas Union. Hurray for gluttons for punishment.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

Mind of Monotony with Carlos Mencia

Last night I tried out the new Comedy Central show, Mind of Mencia... again. Since it's debut July 6th, I've subjected myself three times to the same watered-down laughs reminiscent of a hispanic Chappelle's Show without the wit. I think it's fair to say I've given the guy a shot.

Not for the Easily Offended
This title of his comedy DVD released a couple of years ago is also the gimmick of the show. You'll know this because he will tell you *every five minutes* just before he moves on to broadcasting another tired stereotype to the audience they've long-since grown sick of hearing.

Feigning Indifference
Adding insult to injury, Mencia's in-your-face flavor comes across as a desperate attempt to convince his audience that he doesn't care who he offends. Maybe he's trying too hard...

His politically-correct style of alotting nearly equal time to bashing each cultural identity appears to suspiciously reminiscent of a ploy of an entertainer afraid of losing his fan base. The action screams, "You can't get mad at me because I make fun of everyone, so you can't be mad because at least I'm being fair!" This has two problems:
  1. It doesn't work.
    Some stereotypes are funnier than others. Why sacrifice the quality of his show for a strained montage of tag team culture-ribbing?

    If it comes down to offensiveness, Dave Chappelle's "The Niggars" skit of a 1950s white suburban family with the commons surname, "Niggar" is far more eyebrow-raising as Chappelle tests the limits of how often his audience can hear the word "Niggar" in casual conversation without cringing. It's gutsy, and hilarious.

    But then, Chappelle doesn't feel the need to p the Hindus, Arabs, Blacks, Mexicans, Jews and Homosexuals in every show.

  2. It leaves no time to develop a joke.
    Mencia's show is 23 minutes long (taking comercials into account). With as many topics as Mencia hopes to cover, he's successful in getting across punchlines suggesting that Arabs are racially profiled as terrorists and Mexicans stigmatized as illegal aliens. Gee, thanks.

On a (Somewhat) Positive Note
I'm being too harsh. It's not as if I never laughed. Mencia has a great deal of charisma that is extremely entertaining to watch. Hopefully, he explores his material a bit to find something fresh to present to his audience. As is, Dave did it first, Dave did it better.


Friday, July 22, 2005

So Long-horn...

Microsoft officially anounced the new name of the Longhorn operating system superceding XP today as Window's Vista. Reported additional features give us home users much to be excited about.

For the Developers and Home Users
"Click Once" application technology is purported to beef up Visual Studio and ease application installation securely.

Also, the new addition of "Aero," a dynamic side-bar holding relevant applications to add power to the standard Windows Task Bar. Possibly borrowing from the Apple dock?

For the Gamers
Vista implements the new Avalon (API) graphical subsystem for better rendering of 3D graphics based on Direct3D technologies.

If anyone has tried the beta version of this OS and has any feedback, feel free to post your impressions. I'd be interested to know.

Tangent Links
Here's some additional readings I found interesting today. If you have a few extra minutes to kill, you may be mildly amused...
  • Technology: A friend at work was drooling today over gaming possibilities with the Nvidia GeForce 7 Series. Admitedly, the new video cards look impressive.

  • Mindless Entertainment: This is really old, but entertained me for a while today: I thought I'd give a shout out Burger King's Subservient Chicken. Enjoy watching your free video slave "dance like John Travolta."

  • In the News: Whoopdie-do for 10 more years of the Patriot Act, signed into Congress today. The justification being, since there were no "atual record(s) of abuse," it *makes sense* to extend legislation.
Stay Cool Today
At the risk of sounding completely random, make sure you stay cool today. In Lawrence, the heat index is remarked to peak at 115 today. Absolutely dreadful.

Stay techie ;)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

New Banners on this Site?

So, advertisments can be annoying, I know. But, I've decided to syndicate out a piece of this blog to Google's Adsense program to hopefully help me earn a little extra cash and help support my Flickr account. So, if you want to support me and see something of interest in my side-bar, go ahead and follow my advertiser links and make a purchase. I'll be rewarded for it.

How to Block my Banners
It may be slightly counter-productive to instruct you on how to make my means of revenue disappear from the screen, but if they're as annoying to you as they are to me, it won't hurt my feelings in the slightest to browse free of them. Follow these steps and you won't see them anymore.
  1. Get Firefox

  2. Install Adblock. Read more.

  3. Restart Firefox.

  4. Tools -> Adblock -> Preferences

  5. Type: *show_ads.js*

  6. Hit Enter and you're done. No more ads on this blog.

For those holding out on Adblock for this page, I want to say thanks for your support.


Monday, July 18, 2005

On Bowling

It's one of my goals this summer to become a better bowler. So, I joined a league with Jeremy, my Dad and his girlfriend, Peggy.

Setting Expectations High
Week 1: it proved a feat to convince my father, a veteran bowler of 25+ years that I was a *terrible* bowler... Not just kind of bad. As if my task wasn't difficult enough, I ended my debut by nailing a 110 average by some outlandish string of luck. Looking into the eyes of my father swelling with pride at having donated genes to a potential "natural" bowler, I cringed. Nothing good can come from this.

Leaving the alley, I gulped down rising stomach-acid overhearing Dad's murmuring in Peggy's ear his delight at their new "secret weapon" on the team... me.

A Steady Decline
Luckily, any misconceptions of my bowling aptitude were shattered the following week when midway-ish through the first game of the series I landed my 7th gutter-ball. For those that may not know how league bowling works, the steady increase of one's average does volumes to a team's chances. Conversely, it's *really* bad to lower your average... and mine had a ways to fall.

Fast-Forward to Week 8
I've been kicking my butt, pulling extra practices and Jeremy, holding a steadily rising 193 average, has been helping me on my approach. My average is a more reasonable 97. This Sunday, I nailed *confidently* a 97, 104, and 115.

*Plus* The last tie-breaking game was won by 7 pins, which Dad says my strong 10th frame won for the team. It's nice to help the team for a change. I'll keep you updated on my progress.

Hurray for Oatmeal Cookies! That's our team name; sounds fiesty, huh?


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Ubuntu-izing Fedora Core 4

I'm on week two of Fedora Core 4, switching from an install of Ubuntu (Hoary) after I completely botched my Ubuntu install... nevermind the details ;). So, I gave Red Hat a go... and so far, I'm impressed. A *huge* reason for Red Hat's success with me is the Unofficial Fedora Guide.

The Guide
Let me start off by saying that I found Ubuntu to be very nice, by far the easiest install and user-friendly distribution I've tried so far. It makes *perfect* sense then, for other distros pursuing more shallow learning curves for your average home-user to borrow what's working from the Ubuntu knowledge base.

Hats off to Seb Payne, an Evolution Colt developer that did just that, borrowing from the intuitive style of the Ubuntu Starter Guide to create an easy to navigate, user-friendly FAQ for linux/Red Hat beginners.

Enter The Resistance
Sounds like a happy ending, right? I thought so, too. But this solution makes too much sense for Fedora developers who refuse to collaborate with Payne's guide, donate content or even establish a link for users to decide which FAQ suits them the best.

Can't We All Get Along?
If we discuss waging an Operating System war, undoubtedly Microsoft wins. With a powerhouse like Windows XP dominating easily 80% of the market, it would seem that Linux distributions would be working together and sharing ideas to have a better chance of carving out a slice of Gate's monster pie. Unfortunately, this is not the case, at least with Fedora developers seem intent on shooting themselves in the foot, letting ideas that show a good deal of promise go to waste.

Thanks Seb
So, Payne, this post is for you. Hopefully, a frustrated Fedora user or two will stumble onto this post and give your guide a shot before starting anew with Mandrake or switching back to XP. It's unfortunate you have to coallate a renegade FAQ on your own, but many of us are grateful for the work you're doing; I want to do my part, sending a few more visitors in your direction to show my support.


Visit the Fedora Guide

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Burton's Chocolate Factory a Treat

Could we expect anything less? The director that brought us The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach has outdone himself again with an extremely creative rendition of the 1971 classic. Though, he didn't accomplish this feat alone.

Inside the Movie...
For better or worse, you *will* see the following in this movie:
  • Deep Roy in yellow spandex involved in a display of 70s-style interpretive dance
    Remember this vertically-challenged actor from The Neverending Story?

  • Disneyesque-Dancing-Figurine pyrotechics
    This is the only way I could think of to describe it... you'll know exactly what I'm talking about if you've seen the movie.

  • A young boy *attempting* to eat chocolate wearing orthodonic braces that resemble a small-scale torture device.
    Maybe I'm morbid, but I was laughing my socks off.

What Works
Director, Tim Burton, stimulates intellectually, creatively and aesthetically in this comic production that is so visually involved, the audience can almost taste the toothache from the screen. Not only should this film be advertised as color-stimulant gluttony, but Burton puts forward additional sensory overloads such as shiny objects and juicy candy dripping from a woman's open-mouthed grin that work delightfully.

Johnny Depp demonstrates his artistic versatility through his portrayal of the eccentric, hopelessly naive, reclusive and quirky Willa Wonka himself. Having high expectations going into the movie, I was pleasantly surprised with how tangibly Depp could present this completely unrealistic, fairytale-like character.

What Doesn't
Listening to accent discrepancies proved annoying. While evident that Burton cast actors that undoubtedly fit the bill, its difficult to avoid feeling insulted at buying into a family of three generations living in the same house as a cohesive unit speaking English in dialects native to three different countries.

Yes, talents such as Freddie Highmore, Noah Taylor and David Kelly carry out the magnetic performances of little Charlie, father and grandfather Bucket. The unfortunate breakdown from this conglomeration is that these actors are collectively from: Great Britain, Australia and Ireland. In my opinion, Burton unnecessarily reminds us that these talents are just that: good actors and have no feasible means of existing in the Bucket family as Burton presents it... blech.

I'm not going to reveal anymore... Hopefully you're adequately enticed to see the film and judge for yourself.


Friday, July 15, 2005

Firefox Woes

1.0.5 Under Fire
Since its release July 12th, the open-sourced browser has come under fire and received some undue flack. I thought I would address a couple of concerns to hopefully help make Firefox more satisfying.
  1. Massive Processor Usage:
    Tabbed-browsing, for its speed and organizational aesthetic benefits can have a downfall if used to excess. Having 20 tabs open in firefox, while not the only cause of inefficient processor use, can easily bring your computer productivity to a crawl.

    Solution #1: Try Adblock.
    This solution has many benefits. This free extension blocks pesky advertiser banners from appearing while you browse, whose attention-nabbing images act like leeches on your memory. Also, adblock *will* prevent Spyware from being downloaded to your machine. Read more.

    Solution #2: Buy more memory
    It's that simple. If you must have 100 webpages open at a time, your computer is going to need some help.

  2. No Update Feature:
    At this point, Firefox is pushing out updates seemingly left and right. To stay up to date, a home user has to be conscientious enough to keep up on software news and download the newer version from Mozilla's website. Admitedly, this is a valid gripe.

    Solution: Suck it up.
    I don't mean to be quite so harsh, but we are talking about a *free* browser that is safer, faster and far more powerful than its Microsoft equivalent. At least the program is "smart" enough to save all preferences, bookmarks, extensions, etc.

    So, yes. It is somewhat annoying to have to visit a website to download a newer version of Firefox, but for all the benefits they provide, I can cut Mozilla a little slack and invest 30 seconds of my day.
Spread-Firefox Trouble
Unfortunately, Spread Firefox has been breached. If you have an account, you should have already received an E-mail about this. Check your mail and follow instruction. The Mozilla Foundation has issued a statement that this security issue is isolated to the Spread Firefox website and does not affect any part of Read more on John Hoke's Blog.

Happy Browsing!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Rehnquist Stays...

He's 80 and suffering from thyroid cancer... and more importantly arguably the most conservative Justice on the bench. Now with a chance to retire under a Republican administration, William Rehnquist is turning the opportunity down says CNN.

Is this for real?

I'm laughing my socks off at the thought that Bush may be so Conservative Right that even our conservative Justices are weary of entrusting the future of the bench to his discretion. I mean, the man is 80, I don't think anyone can demand any more tenure from him.

Politics Rehnquist Style

Though he's most well-known (infamous) for his possible involvement in the Nixon Watergate scandal, his stances against the desegregation of public schools during Brown vs. the Board of Education, support of school vouchers, and favor pardoned to the dampening of the division between church and state should probably be equally discussed... if not discussed more. Shouldn't retiring under Bush be this guy's wet dream? *sigh* Politics are sure getting interesting.

If you're Christian...

And sick of the Conservative Right, this website might be of interest to you. An affiliated blog was featured on The Daily Show.
The Christian Alliance for Progress

Well, I'm off my rant for the day.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005


So the photo galleries demonstrating the progress to the apartment are up!

All pics come compliments of Flickr

So what do you guys think of the blue?


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I Made Some Science...

Take the MIT Weblog SurveyI helped MIT today by taking this online survey. If you have a blog, you can, too.

We're painting the Apartment
Jeremy's brother, Jason came into town and is helping with the effort. The white walls are through. Here are the decided colors for the apt:

  1. Living Room: Autumn Arrival (Orange)

  2. Computer Room: Coral Expression (Red-Pink)

  3. Master Bedroom: Dublin (Green)

  4. Guest Bedroom: Seven Seas (Blue)

  5. Guest Bathroom: Ocean View (Lighter Blue)

  6. Master Bathroom: Saffron Thread (Yellow-Orange)

I'll post a gallery of before/after pics soon, so you can check on our progress. Cool, huh?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Thank you, Sebelius

I'm not sure how morons like Doug Mays ever attain the position of power and responsibility they do, but leave it to Kansas (the state I've been raised in and love) to always surprise me. So Mays, House Speaker, is under high fire in Kansas over trying to defend why Kansas Legislature has not met their deadline to increase state funding of public schools to the tune of $143 million as promised months ago. Instead of intelligently responding to the arguments at hand, or even better, putting pens to paper and fixing the problem, Mays resorts to immature hissy throwing.

Mays *refused* to convene early with Legislature to come up with an economic plan for school finance before Sebelius' special session on June 22. Why? Anyone's guess.

Worse, he compared the Kansas Supreme Court to Saddam Hussein and is apparently tired of being "puppetted" by the judicial branch. I wish I were joking. Read more

So, we can expect him to be advocating more legislative admendments to the State Constitution to sidestep the jurisdiction of the Kansas Supreme Court. Who cares about the system of checks and balances. We don't need them in Kansas, because we have Doug Mays. And Doug Mays is always always right. Because... well, he's a republican. And he doesn't like Hussein.

Meanwhile, the House is deadlocked in an extended *two-week* session without any plan to show for it. The Court is threatening to close public schools in Kansas, calling school finance unconstitutionally low.

On a Serious Note
Thank you, Sebelius, for working so hard for the best interest of a state that kicks and screams against your every move. Thank you for standing firm in your belief that the education of our children is top priority and necessary. Your humanitarian efforts are probably sinking your career as a politician in Kansas, but some people here are *very* grateful for your incredible service.

Regardless of Your Agreement with this Post...
I realize the issues are too complicated to discuss adequately in this short post. Please get informed and involved:
E-mail Doug Mays
Contact Governor Sebelius