April 29, 2003

District of Cars (D.C.)

Due to trouble I've been having getting to my site, I've not been able to do a blog entry in a while. So let me fill you in. I'm on travel to Washington D.C. to take some classes on various areas that my company deals in. For those of you who don't know, I work for the Naval Surface Warfare Center. Specifically, I work for NAVSEA Carderock Division Naval Surface Warfare Center Detachment Bremerton. Don't you love government agencies and their need for naming and abbreviating?

Anyways, the classes are interesting, but of course I have to do some site seeing while I'm here. Last night, my brother-in-law and I tried to go visit some of the memorials that are open later. He works for the same agency I do and they sent us both on this trip. It is unbelievable how difficult it is to maneuver in D.C. Cars everywhere, roads that don't make sense, and about every 15 minutes or so, an ambulance comes up behind you with his lights going and there's no where for you to go due to all the traffic and no place to pull off.

I think my brother-in-law was nervous with the traffic because he wanted to go back to the hotel, so we didn't really get to see anything. Tonight, I went by myself. After circling D.C. twice and trying to figure out how the roads work, I managed to park near the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. I also visited the Roosevelt, Vietnam, and Lincoln Memorials. And of course I took lots of pictures. When I get home, I will post some online. When I finally decided to leave, I got lost again, and then finally found my way back to the interstate I needed to get to my hotel. Of course I saw no less than three more ambulances and heard at least a few more nearby.

On Friday, I'm planning on taking the Metroliner (train/subway) into D.C. since I have all day and visit some of the Smithsonian Museums, the Washington Monument, and maybe a few other things if there's time. I'll be sure to blog on it.

Posted by queue at 07:02 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Punditry

April 26, 2003

Metal Mouth

Well, it has begun. I had my braces put on yesterday. For those of you who have not had it done, let me tell you, it's an experience. They don't really hurt (yet), but they have their discomforts, and it makes eating a lot harder. I get a little pain when I bite down with my front teeth, so for now, I'm sticking to things that I can fit in my mouth and chew with my back teeth. Basically, sandwiches are out. But that's ok, I'm told it will get better.

Either way, I feel 2 years is a small commitment to have straight teeth. And even though I'll have the retainer for pretty much as long as I can stand using it over the years, at least that is something I can take out when I feel like I need a break. I'm considering having some fun the next time I get adjustments done. They've got a whole array of colors for the bands and since July will be approaching, I was thinking of going Red, White, and Blue. I think it'd be great. Probably not original, but certainly fun. And if I don't like it, it's only for six weeks, then I can get them changed to something else. If I do something like that, I'll certainly take pictures for posting here.

Posted by queue at 11:21 AM | Comments (0) | Category: Information

April 23, 2003

Hating Microsoft Dept.

I'm getting so sick of Microsoft Visual C++ and their bug laden libraries and components. It amazes me how often I will follow help files to the letter even copying samples directly out of the help and the code flat out won't work. Other times, the help won't even mention dependancies or setup functions that must be initialized before using the function or component you're reading about.

Unfortunately, I know exactly why Microsoft is doing this. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that people at Microsoft sit around figuring out ways to screw their users. Rather, I believe they don't dedicate enough resources to making some products work properly and keep the documentation up to date. Microsoft is not interested in making their C++ products top notch. If they did, it would be competing directly with Visual Basic and/or Visual C#.

Microsoft has invested a lot of money in getting people to use languages they can control. That's why when they got sued over their modifying Java, they began dumping all Java support and gearing toward C#. Honestly, this makes a lot of sense business wise, but it's exclusionary and monopolistic. I still feel the best thing a court could do to even the odds is to force Microsoft to keep their documentation complete and up to date. If they did this, any developer could compete with Microsoft on any level.

Posted by queue at 09:08 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Rant

April 21, 2003

Polly Want A Hacker?

Why can't the mainstream media get it straight? There's a huge difference between a true hacker and the little known term, cracker. Here is an excerpt I found that really nails down what the term means. If you want to see more definitions or the links to some of the other terms, check out the source here.

hacker

n. [originally, someone who makes furniture with an
axe] 1. A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable
systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most
users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary. 2. One who
programs enthusiastically (even obsessively) or who enjoys
programming rather than just theorizing about programming. 3. A
person capable of appreciating hack value. 4. A person who is
good at programming quickly. 5. An expert at a particular program,
or one who frequently does work using it or on it; as in `a Unix
hacker'. (Definitions 1 through 5 are correlated, and people who
fit them congregate.) 6. An expert or enthusiast of any kind. One
might be an astronomy hacker, for example. 7. One who enjoys the
intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing
limitations. 8. [deprecated] A malicious meddler who tries to
discover sensitive information by poking around. Hence `password
hacker', `network hacker'. The correct term for this sense is
cracker.

The term `hacker' also tends to connote membership in the global
community defined by the net (see the network and Internet
address). For discussion of some of the basics of this culture,
see the How To Become A Hacker
(http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html) FAQ. It also
implies that the person described is seen to subscribe to some
version of the hacker ethic (see hacker ethic).

It is better to be described as a hacker by others than to describe
oneself that way. Hackers consider themselves something of an
elite (a meritocracy based on ability), though one to which new
members are gladly welcome. There is thus a certain ego
satisfaction to be had in identifying yourself as a hacker (but if
you claim to be one and are not, you'll quickly be labeled bogus).
See also wannabee.

This term seems to have been first adopted as a badge in the 1960s
by the hacker culture surrounding TMRC and the MIT AI Lab. We have
a report that it was used in a sense close to this entry's by teenage
radio hams and electronics tinkerers in the mid-1950s.

Source: Jargon File 4.2.0

Posted by queue at 09:01 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Rant

April 20, 2003

No Fantasy Of Mine

I know it has been a few days, but I've been really busy getting things done around the house so that I could take a day to go to Norwescon. I had a terrific time. I got to meet Terry Brooks and sit in on a workshop with him on how to become a professional writer. This guy is not only an excellent writer, he's very humorous and interesting to talk to.

I also saw tons of sci-fi and fantasy artwork, sit in on numerous science and fantasy panels, see part of a Kendo demonstration, and look at vendors' wares. Oh how I would love to purchase some of the swords I saw.

My brother-in-law ran into one of his friends. This guy is 6'8" tall and was dressed as a hobbit the first day of the convention. It was a pretty hilarious sight, although I only saw it from his pictures. The day we were there, he was dressed as some Star Wars person that I didn't really know anything about. All visible parts of his body were dyed blue and he wore a completely white uniform. Needless to say, he stood out in the crowd, despite the fact that about half the people there were dressed up.

I would love to dress up and attend one of these conventions for the entire time, but alas, I have a family life to attend to. I may be able to sneak away for a day once in a while, but I have little time to live in a fantasy world.

Posted by queue at 08:59 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Information

April 17, 2003

Why Didn't I Take The Blue Pill?

I am SO looking forward to the new Matrix movie, Matrix: Reloaded. I may try to go see it the day it comes out. I may be on travel that day and not able to get there, but as soon as I get back, I'm there! The first movie is one of my favorite movies of all time, and although I never expect second or third movies to be as good, I'm sure this one will at least make a good effort. Unfortunately, the whole newness element will be gone, making it much more dependant on a good storyline. I guess we'll see.

Posted by queue at 08:05 PM | Comments (2) | Category: Information

April 16, 2003

Hanging With The Sci-Fi Crowd

My brother-in-law talked me into going with him to Norwescon, a sci-fi convention held in Seatac, Washington. I've never actually been to one of these conventions, but I've heard enough about them to know it should be a lot of fun. It's a few days over this upcoming weekend, so I'll no doubt have something to talk about after the weekend.

Posted by queue at 08:45 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Information

April 15, 2003

You've Got Something In Your Teeth

I went in to get x-rays and impressions done on my teeth to prepare for getting my braces put on. They put these spacers between my molars as well. This is supposed to make space for the anchors that go around the back teeth. It doesn't really hurt, but it feels like there's something stuck in my teeth. Oh wait, there is! I have noticed mild headaches on and off today. I'm expecting by the end of next week when I get the braces put on, my gums and teeth are probably going to be pretty sore. However, I'm really looking forward to getting this done and having nice, straight teeth.

Posted by queue at 08:19 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Information

Cleaning Bug

I guess I'm not the only one with the cleaning bug. My group got together today to clean out our basement area. And I thought my garage was bad. We found stuff that's been sitting down there for 10 to 15 years collecting dust. And let me tell you, there's a lot of dust to collect. The ventilation is really bad there, so every bit of dust that makes it into the room pretty much stays in the room. Every time I have to do something down their, I feel like my hands get caked in dirt. But it will be really nice to have it cleaned up. We use it as our development area, so we're getting new furniture so that we won't kill ourselves in the old broken chairs. What fun!

Posted by queue at 08:07 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Information

April 14, 2003

Blame Game

Here we go again. My boss gets an e-mail today blaming our software for their system not working. This time, we were ready for them. Our response included 4 points.

1) They've been reporting hardware problems with their system for months. These problems have already been proven to be hardware, not software.

2) Our guy upgraded their software a couple of weeks ago and went through a full test with them to verify the system was working properly.

3) This exact software used on another customer's system worked perfectly for one of their trials.

4) I got a call last week from the customer with a "software problem" which I was able to solve in about 30 minutes on the phone. The customer had simply made a mistake in setting up the system.

It will be interesting to watch them back-peddle and attempt to "clarify" their statements. I'm finding that the more this happens, the funnier it seems each time it happens. Thus, I'll just laugh the whole thing off and watch them squirm when their boss sees it's their fault, not ours.

Posted by queue at 05:21 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Rant

April 12, 2003

Cleaning Out The Closet, Or The Garage

I spent nearly two days cleaning up my garage. It is amazing how messy a garage can get in just a couple of years. But it's very satisfying to finally have it clean again. What is really interesting to me is the amount of stuff that I kept at one point, and upon seeing it now, am baffled as to why I wanted to keep it.

Posted by queue at 07:36 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Information

Premium Music, Premium Price

I had a few interesting comments about my little rant on music. First of all, let's address this whole downloading of music that some of these new services are planning to offer. I'm not convinced these will be all that great for three reasons. First, I've been hearing prices well exceeding what I would think would be reasonable. That remains to be seen. Second, most services are not going to be offering a full selection. You will only be able to choose from artists that are recorded by one or two publishers depending on the service you choose. And third, it appears that the music you will be able to download will be coded so that it can only be played on the computer you download it on. Therefore, if I want to burn it to a CD for my car, it won't be easy without some sort of hack or work around. And getting it onto an MP3 player may be just as difficult given the issues I've heard about with "checking out" music to another device.

Now, to address the price I pay for music. I've done a lot of shopping around to find the best CD prices. Wal-Mart is almost always the cheapest, even over online companies. You may be able to find the same music online at a discount, but it's either because they're used CDs, overstocked CDs, or they gouge you on shipping. Granted, Amazon has lately been doing a nice free shipping deal, but I've yet to see the music I typically buy on Amazon for less than what I pay for it at Wal-Mart. I'm sure there are exceptions; this has just been my personal experience.

Posted by queue at 07:17 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Punditry

April 11, 2003

Compact Wallet

My wife and I went out and purchased a few new CDs today. Her choices were the two most recent Celine Dion albums. I have to admit, they're both very good, but then I've always liked her music. My choice was the latest 3 Doors Down CD. I haven't decided if I like it more or less than their last album. Either way, it's good stuff.

The only downside to all this is the price of CDs. We're talking nearly $50 for 3 CDs. And the music industry wonders why so many people are copying music? I've found the best way for me to save money is to download the whole CD of a particular artist and see if I like it. If I like a significant number of the songs, I buy the CD. I bet the music industry would make a lot more money of they sold music online by the song. Especially if they only charged like $1 or $1.50 per song then discounted for buying the whole CD, like giving a savings of $1 to $3. I know I'd certainly buy more music. Yeah, fat chance of that ever happening!

Posted by queue at 08:45 PM | Comments (2) | Category: Information

April 10, 2003

Trip To The Danger City (D.C.)

In a couple weeks, I'll be taking a trip to Washington D.C. This should be a very interesting trip because I haven't been there since I was a kid. My work is sending me to take some classes at our headquarters. The classes go pretty much the whole work day, but I'll have the evenings and one whole day at the end of the trip to spend sight-seeing.

So I went online to check on Smithsonian times of operation. Turns out all the various museums close around 5:30pm. Unfortunately, I'll only have one day to visit whatever museums I can fit in. I'll have to plan carefully.

Posted by queue at 08:30 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Information

April 08, 2003

Ripoff Air, The Only Way To Fly

I've been looking at ticket prices the past few days trying to find a good time to take a vacation. Today, I was able to determine several interesting things about how to operate an airline.

First, always offer good deals on the weekend, and then raise prices first thing on Monday. That way, when a person sees a good deal, then asks their boss for the time off, they go back to buy the tickets and have little choice but to buy them at the higher price for fear the prices will continue to go up.

Second, offer different prices to each travel agency, including your own website. What this accomplishes is you keep a person guessing about where they should go for the best price. Inevitably, they stick with one or two sites and end up paying a higher average price for their tickets over time.

Third, overbook all your flights, and then offer 1/3 of the cost of the ticket as compensation for getting bumped. This compensation is only good towards purchasing a new ticket, must be used by a certain time, and has limitations that force you into higher priced tickets. Book the bumped passengers onto the very next flight, and then bump different passengers from that flight, repeating the cycle. By doing this, you don't have to offer overnight compensation and thus keep shifting the problem without really losing any money.

Forth, never feed the passengers. Schedule flights to fall between meal times. If the flight is long enough that it must include a meal time, justify not having food by having "snacks". Snacks should never include more than a bag of pretzels and two drinks. Flights with no food service give only one drink, and the can should never be given to the passenger.

Fifth, lower the weight limit of "standard" baggage so that a fairly large percentage of your business travelers will have to pay an additional cargo fee. Also, lower the number of bags allowed as carry-on items so that more baggage will have to be checked, and thus, generate extra baggage fees.

Sixth, claim that you can't afford to operate your airline and thus you must raise ticket prices even though ticket income on most of your flights is less than cargo income. This allows you to receive monetary assistance from the government and get an extra boost in income from the passengers. You won't have to worry about competition from other airlines because all other airlines will follow your lead. If the public complains too much, all airlines can lower their ticket prices and receive additional funds from the government.

Seventh, make all airline miles expire in an unreasonable amount of time. This way, your award payouts are at a minimum except for the heavily traveling business persons. Business travelers are great source of income if you keep them always using your airline. The best way to do this is offer them an obscene amount of benefits through air miles so that they would be fools to not fly with you.

Eighth, if all else fails, claim bankruptcy. You can then either receive a bailout from the government, or your chain will be bought by some larger chain. Either way, you and all your high level employees will have been receiving large incomes, bonuses, and benefits which can be carried over to some other airline where you can start the process all over again.

But hey, we don't have to fly right? Let's see, there's always car, train, or bus.

Posted by queue at 09:41 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Rant

April 07, 2003

Take Me To Your Leader

This opinion article is just too good to not pass on. We all know that the French have a huge stake in keeping Saddam in power, but this article really blows the lid off and puts things in perspective. Will we not remember those who would let Saddam have his way?

Posted by queue at 07:34 AM | Comments (0) | Category: Political

Bush And The Pope

The Pope is visiting DC and President Bush takes him out for an afternoon on the Potomac...sailing on the presidential yacht, the Sequoia. They're admiring the sights when, all of a sudden, the Pope's hat (zucchetto) blows off his head and out into the water. Secret service guys start to launch a boat, but Bush waves them off, saying "Wait, wait. I'll take care of this. Don't worry."

Bush then steps off the yacht onto the surface of the water and walks out to the Holy Father's little hat, bends over, picks it out of the water, then walks back to the yacht and climbs aboard. He hands the hat to the Pope amid stunned silence.

The next morning, the Washington Post, New York Times and the Los Angeles Times carry a story, with front page photos, of the event. The banner headline is:

"Bush Can't Swim!"

Posted by queue at 07:20 AM | Comments (0) | Category: Humor

Got Root?

This weekend, I was asked by a guy at the store what "I Am Root" meant, (the license plate frame on my car). My first thought was, "How do I explain root to a guy who asks what root is?" My reply? "It's a computer term." Duh, I suppose I could have said, "In computer terms, it's the guy with all the power." Now I feel undeserving of the frame. Oh well, at least I've got my answer straight for the next person that asks.

Posted by queue at 07:15 AM | Comments (0) | Category: Humor

April 04, 2003

Legislating Morality

It just floors me that there are people out there willing to keep laws on the books that have no basis in reality. Take for instance this story coming from no other than Bismarck, North Dakota. How can people justify this abuse of our justice system?

It's like these "blue laws" that are so popular in the south. One of my biggest pet peeves with living in Tennessee for a while was that from Midnight to Noon on Sunday, the only stores that were open were some gas stations and about 5% of the restaurants. As if I'm going to go to a Sunday church service just because the stores are closed.

Nothing would make me happier than to see the Supreme Court rule that all these blue laws have to be removed. It would have to save tons of money in the long run by not having to legislate that crap.

Posted by queue at 07:02 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Rant

Who's The Fool Now?

In light of the April Fool's jokes I mentioned, I thought this April Fool's story would be interesting. Just shows that you have to think before you fool.

Posted by queue at 06:46 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Humor

Time Of The Bark

What is it with people who don't take care of their animals? Last night, like most nights, I woke up several times to the sound of my neighbor’s dog barking. As far as I can tell, this dog starts barking when the sun goes down and doesn't stop until the sun comes up, every night! Luckily, I live on enough land and the neighbor is far enough away that the dog barking doesn't really wake me up. I just usually hear him when I do wake up.

Then there's another neighbor who lets their dogs roam. These dogs love to come over to my house and take a dump in the driveway. And these are large dogs. One is some sort of German Shephard mix. Let me tell you, he leaves a very large pile. This same neighbor has a dog that we suspect killed one of our chickens. We never found the remains, but there were enough feathers and other bits to know what happened and we know their dogs come over and bug our chickens. We have a pen for them, but apparently, one got so scared, she was able to fly over the 6 foot fence.

Then there are the neighborhood cats. They like our yard because we're "bird friendly", meaning we put out lots of feeders, plants, bird houses, etc. to attract birds to our yard. Luckily, we only have a problem with the cats ever few months and only for a few days at a time, but it's rather annoying. I can't tell you how many times I've seen these poor cats lying dead on the road after a car hits them.

Please people; take care of your animals!

Posted by queue at 06:50 AM | Comments (0) | Category: Rant

April 03, 2003

I Am Root

After I bought my new car, I mentioned to my wife that I wanted to get new license plate frames that didn't advertise the name of the car dealership. She decided to get me the frame you see below, one for the front, one for the back. Pretty funny. :)


Posted by queue at 07:57 PM | Comments (1) | Category: Humor

Unmasking Evil

Someone posted a copy of A Shield's Story in our office. Forget for the moment that I agree 100% with what this guy is saying. I'd like to point out what I like about how this article was put together. This isn't just a bunch of hype with unsubstantiated "facts". This article has links to the articles written where he got the information. If someone is going to protest or support the war around me, they better darn well be able to back up their position.

As far as the article goes, it's nice to see that when these anti-war protestors see what's really going on, their eyes are opened and they know good from evil.

Posted by queue at 07:24 AM | Comments (0) | Category: Political

April 02, 2003

How To Bilk Your Readers

If you read PC Magazine, you may be accustomed to going to their online library to download utilities. These utilities are written by various people, some who work for PC Magazine, some who are just readers who submit a tool. Recently, PC Magazine has decided to charge a subscription fee to access their online library. Where the hell do they get off charging for that? It's ridiculous. I pay a magazine subscription which should cover most, if not all of their expenses. Advertising is supposed to cover the rest. This is pure out bilking. If I didn't enjoy the magazine so much, and if there were actually any other real choice for providing the information they provide, I'd boycott them. But alas, like the rest of the sheep in this world, I will just go elsewhere for my downloads and utilities.

Posted by queue at 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Rant

April 01, 2003

A Fool By Any Other Name

My wife is a tremendous prankster. Needless to say, she lives for today. Every year, I spend the day trying to avoid her tricks. So far, she filled my car with balloons, and switched my shoe inserts with hers. I wondered why my feet were hurting this morning. And it's only 7:45 am! I'm just glad I'm at work. At least I won't have to deal with more pranks until I get home this evening. One of these years I'm going to out-prank her.

Posted by queue at 07:45 AM | Comments (0) | Category: Humor

A Demonstration Worth A Thousand Words

I witnessed an amazing sight a couple days ago and only last night realized the implications. I'm sure most of you have seen the occasional anti-war protests with a smattering of people. Around here, nearly every day, a group of about 10 or 15 protestors gather by the mall with their signs for people to honk if they are anti-war. You have to realize, this is a huge military town. This weekend, the pro-war people came out in masses. I heard estimates in the thousands. And drivers were equally supportive with enough honking to wake the dead.

What I realized is that there are indeed a large number of pro-war supporters, probably significantly more than anti-war people. It's incredible how often the minority is the most vocal, except last weekend.

Posted by queue at 07:39 AM | Comments (1) | Category: Political