Archive for November, 2007

Butterfly Etude 0

While my children were perusing the pre-recorded music selection on my digital piano (I swear they know how to operate the thing better than I do, and I could hardly be described as technically challenged), I decided that I was going to learn Chopin’s Etude 25-9. To help get it in my head, I looked around for some recordings (other than the one on the piano) — I found a brilliant jazz rendition. You owe it a listen.

Wireless Statistics 2

My brother’s out visiting for Thanksgiving, and his Vista-powered (or was it ready?) notebook is having an incredibly difficult time connecting to our wireless network (for whatever reason). I was, of course, quick to place the blame on Vista — and not just because I’m being bigoted; this isn’t the first time I’ve heard someone complaining about Wifi problems under Microsoft’s “best” OS.

Anyways, I began searching Google for problems specifically related to his PC/chipset, but, in the process, stumbled across a completely scientific method of proving which operating system — Vista or XP — was better.

First, I searched for “Vista wireless problems”: 15,400,00 results.

Then I searched for “XP wireless problems”: 13,700,00 results.

Not quite as overwhelming a victory as I’d hoped for, but it’s pretty clear who the top contender is.

(As a purely academic exercise, I then typed in “Linux wireless problems”. A scant 46,200,000 results. Maybe this method isn’t really as accurate as I was hoping for. Or, more likely, people are posting lots of comments about how Linux fixed their wireless problems. Yeah.)

The PDT (Or: I Don’t Like Zend) 1

My animosity towards Zend has really increased lately, due to a number of factors (the recent ZendCon, their character when dealing with open-source projects, etc.), so much so that I’ve sworn off Zend products. Which doesn’t really sound like a difficult task at first glance, since I only use one Zend product — but that one product just happens to be one of the only good PHP IDEs out there: Zend Studio.

Fortunately (and if you follow the PHP world, you’ve probably heard about this), Studio is receiving competent competition in the open-source world from the Eclipse platform in the guise of the PHP Developer Tools, or PDT. (And that’s competition in a very liberal sense of the word, since Zend is actually backing PDT — so they can rip it of– base future versions of Zend Studio on it.)

Anyways, the real goal here was just to talk about a quick PDT tip (now that I’ve switched), not rant and rave about how Zend seems to have a knack for positioning themselves in the middle of hugely conflicting interests.

The tip: Most people know that you can Ctrl+Click “into” a function call. What I didn’t know is that you can also Ctrl+Hover to get a tooltip containing the first ~10 lines of the function.


This can be immensely useful when you’re just trying to figure out what a piece of code does, without completely losing your train of thought and switching contexts.

Run ’em up! 1

This past Sunday (the 11th) was the Aviation Nation air-show at Nellis Air Force Base. According to my wife, I’d been looking forward to this year’s show ever since, well, last year’s. I was hoping to have a new camera and/or a teleconverter to spice up my photography a bit, but, unfortunately, that was not to be (and is a sad, sad tale for another time). Instead, I visited with my (now nearly 7 years old!.. recent photography conscripts don’t even know this thing existed) Canon D30 and (primarily) EF 200mm/2.8L (~320mm effective).
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T9 is the awesome 1

Only T9 can completely obscure the meaning of simple words. Today, my team lead fired off a quick text message wondering whether a specific employee would be coming into work. The coworker was on his way in, and attempted to send the following message:

In the car.

But he was driving, which means he couldn’t really check what he was typing. What the lead received was:

Go the bar.

Slightly concerning.

The Easiest Installation 1

If you’re like me, you loathe installing software. Then again, maybe there aren’t many people like me. In fact, maybe my personality is a statistically improbable occurrence. So improbable that it’s more than likely that I don’t exist.

In other news, here’s a list of extremely useful software that you don’t have to install — they all have single executable downloads that require no additional files. This alone makes these applications great for stashing on a thumb drive or downloading for a single-time emergency use on your friend’s machine.

  • uTorrent – great for those rare moments when you need to download a quick, uh, VMWare image
  • SciTE – a lightweight and competent editor that includes syntax definitions for, *gasp*, PHP (and other lovely languages)
  • The pervasive PuTTY – quite possibly the best Windows SSH client ever
  • WinSCP – when you get sick of the Windows command line (which you no doubt will, because it’s not really good at all), try joining the 21st century and using a GUI

Instant Expert 3

Apparently my recent post on password-protected bittorrent downloads struck a chord with someone — a few people have left comments (currently awaiting moderation) requesting passwords for random things. Let’s just get this out of the way: I don’t know the password to [insert random downloaded file here]. Oh, and by the way, if you ask for one, I’ll delete your comment. 😉

Personal Wiki 1

Lots of us run personal wikis that we use to store random information. But not everybody has a personal server they can just throw the de-jour wiki software onto. Now StikiPad gives you a personal wiki starting at $0/month with file uploads, Google Maps integration, task lists, RSS feeds — their features page is an ocean of buzz words.

Miss Manners 0

I just discovered why Windows has the largest slice of the market share: it’s so darn helpful.

A few minutes ago, a little popup window appeared near my tray with a nice little message about updates that were ready. I clicked, scanned the list of updates and deselected “Internet Explorer 7.0 for Microsoft Windows”, as any self-respecting computer user should.

Another dialog appeared: “Updates that are not selected will not be installed.”

No duh… That’s why I deselected it. Thank you, Windows!

Social Engineering 9

So I just recently downloaded something via bittorrent. We won’t go into exactly what, but let’s just say that Firefox’s JavaScript brilliance caused it randomly consume ~100% CPU for long periods of time, which then caused my scheduled recordings to become corrupt (not really sure why, because all they have to do is write a compressed MPEG stream to disk, but it happened). The download consisted of a single .rar file, which I unrared. It expanded into two files: another rar and a “read me first.txt”. Like any good member of the male gender, I opened the documentation before continuing.

Thanks for downloading the torrent file file
To get the pw to extract the file is simple
1)go to 
2)input any email address it doesnt have to be yours and click submit
3) You will see green writing on the next page.
The first word in green with the exclamation point is the password
you have to use it with the exclaimation point
Simple huh
Enjoy the file

My first instinct was to search for a new version that didn’t require me to help someone win a free XBox (or whatever — I didn’t look). But then I began to think… What would a site like display after you’d given them your email address? Knowing that it was a one word phrase that ended in an exclamation point narrowed my choices immensely. Congratulations! You guessed the password.

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