Archive for June, 2006

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An interesting trip to say the least

Friday, June 30th, 2006

I had no idea how interesting my trip would be when I left my house shortly after noon today to head home to Walla Walla and see the family. Being the proud new owner of a 12,000 BTU air conditioner for my condo made the irony of my car’s air conditioner dying all the more piquant – particularly since it died in 100+ degree weather over by Yakima.

Sadly my story gets a bit more serious here. I drove to the VW dealership in Yakima and asked them to take a look at it. Given that my lights and blinkers were not working either I assumed it was a simple fuse. No such luck: the ignition switch in my steering column broke, and melted several wires.

Please everyone, don’t point out the irony of a VW with an electrical problem. I’m well aware at this point.

Unfortunately given the holiday weekend the parts they need to fix it won’t be delivered to Yakima until Wednesday, and I need to be back at work before then. Thankfully VW’s legendary service stepped in and got me a loaner car for a week. I drove my loaner home to Walla Walla, and then on Monday will drive it back to Seattle. Sometime next weekend (most likely Saturday) I’ll have to drive it back to Yakima to trade it in for my precious GLI.

The Yakima VW dealership is rather low rent and also specializes in Suzuki’s, and being just before the big holiday weekend were out of proper loaners. They managed to outfit me with an elderly used Suzuki, but I can’t really complain given that its a working car with air conditioning and I’m not really paying for it.

My final torture? The POS stereo in the Suzuki has no CD or aux input, and a weak antenna so the only listening options from Yakima to Walla Walla were either fire and brimstone christian talk radio, or the hispanic channel I can’t understand.

Oh the suffering! At least I’m here, and can spend a few days hiding from the world and enjoying my vacation. It could be worse – I could be this guy.

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Holy sweet visitors (or fun with MySQL analytics)

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

So not only am I getting some search engine love but I’ve just discovered that I actually have viewers! I installed Counterize on Futurist Now a few months back, and then promptly forgot about it entirely. I was just checking out my admin panel to do some maintenance (I don’t get there often thanks to the glory of Ecto) and happened upon my stats.

Counterize does a great job of giving some high level stats, and as well puts a row into a MySQL table for each visitor with some basic information about what is being requested and such for statistical analysis. I broke out the PHP and had some fun.

Now up until now I had assumed I had about 10 readers. Some close friends, perhaps a few random strangers, and of course my mom. I guess I was wrong – I have had over 11,000 page views in three months from 1,827 unique visitors (not including known bots). These figures do not include viewers who view my site entirely via RSS and never visit the blog directly. Given my sometimes blathering rantings I’m actually rather surprised.

Now for the statporn: The highest pageview days are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday by a good margin. Tuesday’s on average get about 23% of the page views of a Friday. The last week in any month has about 10% more page views than any other week. About half of my page-views come either between 8-9am PST or between 2-4pm PST.

I have no idea why this would be, but for some reason I have visitors who only seem to visit me during certain parts of the month. I can see later in the week being more popular because some people are looking for minute little escapes from their jobs on Friday’s, and weekends being popular because people have a chance to “catch up” on their web browsing.

My most popular two entries are about my encounter with Ambien, the saga I went through to get my sweet Oblivion, and an example of my hatred/fear of company parties.

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A few steps forward and one step back

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Skype is almost two years old and I’ve been very proud of the maturing that he’s been doing recently. I’ve been leaving him out in my condo more and more and locking him in the kitchen area while I’m gone less and less.

This week I decided to do the big experiment and tried leaving him out in the “big house” while I was gone at work on Monday. I was ecstatic when I got home to discover nothing destroyed and a very proud puppy waiting for me on the couch.

Sadly today we backtracked again when I repeated the experiment. I got home to discover he had eaten (well chewed to 2,431 pieces) one of my phone chargers. Luckily I only have Windows Mobile 5.0 devices these days and they all charge over standard USB so I have… uhmm… five of them, but still.

Oh well, we can try that experiment again in a few weeks I guess…

Some SEO love has come my way

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Aside from having a great couple of days at work I’m very pleased to announce that my campaign to raise my search engine vanity rankings has gone well. Thanks to all the people who have linked to Futurist now using the word Sparky I’m finally on the first page of results for my own name!

That’s all for now folks! Keep up the linky love that I might keep my own name in cyberspace! Remember: a vote for Sparky is a vote for progress!

Oh the pride

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

Today was Seattle’s Gay Pride Parade. I could have gone downtown to see the screaming gay masses but instead decided that a far more fitting way to celebrate my burgeoning homosexuality would be to watch the Silence of the Lambs trilogy today. After all: what better way to celebrate than to watch a series dedicated to eating the fleshy bits of men…

I figure I actually celebrated Pride plenty this year. I had forgotten it was this weekend and went out to the bars on Friday night. The horrors of gayness at it’s worst can be found at the Cuff and the Eagle on Pride weekend, and boy do I love it.

Aside from the horrors of pride I’ve been in radio silence for a short while. At Tres suggestion I picked up a copy of “Sword of Mana” and have been getting rather addicted. Sadly it’s meant juggling classic RPG goodness with my love of my Xbox 360 (now with more horrific storytelling) and the Oblivion it provides.

Sword of Mana manages to combine the best of the storytelling from the earlier Final Fantasy games, while bringing the action gameplay style from Zelda into the mix. I’m only about 8 hours in, but I’m hooked already.

Rolling with the big dogs

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

As much as I normally hate 8am meetings this morning’s project kickoff meeting was great. The project I’ve been helping to scope and plan for at work got budget approval and I got to go over to the far reaches of the campus for the big kickoff meeting. It was mostly sitting in a giant conference room listening to big-wigs talk about budget and scheduling but it was fascinating to see what happens on the back end to approve projects and work to get them planned and budgeted within a giant organization like Microsoft.

It’s funny how this entire side of the software development process is so opaque to developers. I remember back in my dev days being handed a spec and really not knowing where it came from or what the process was to create it. Heck – it never even occurred to me that there was a process, I guess I just sort of assumed it magically appeared. Now that I’m on the other side of the house I’m getting my eyes opened to the how and why of the software development lifecycle and the reasons for strong methodologies and planning. Now it seems obvious that a multi-million dollar project can’t just be run by a bunch of teenage developers, but at the time that seemed like the best plan.

Ahh the things one learns as one gets older and wiser. With my quarter century mark looming ever closer I have to stop focusing on the older and start focusing on the wiser though – older happens regardless of intent, wiser takes effort and experiences to draw on.

A new look

Monday, June 19th, 2006

A quick update from a rather event filled few days. Last Thursday it was hot outside – so hot (to my body that was adjusted to the cold and rain) that it pushed me over the edge on going for a new look. As any viewer will be able to tell this new look involves significantly less hair! I shaved off most of my head, and then trimmed up my facial hair quite significantly.

After the fact Brien accused me of stealing his look, which I decry, but regardless he’s taking it as a point of flattery. To be honest it is kind of similar, but I didn’t even think of it when I was doing my whole hair modification process.

On the topic of Brien he celebrated his 26th birthday on Saturday. There was much eating of sushi and drinking of fine beverages. I unfortunately got a but sick to my stomach so I ended up leaving shortly before midnight, but he had a good time and given that it was his birthday that’s pretty much all that mattered.

Aside from Oblivion and working on a few web projects I did rather little over the weekend. It was a lot of relaxation and just catching up on quality time with Skype and my couch.

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My brief but torrid affair with a Q

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

What can I say – I’m a sucker for a good sexy form factor. Luckily I’m not that much of a sucker and I won’t be keeping it for long. Recently Motorola announced their “Blackberry killer”, the Q. The Q shares a lot of the Blackberries features (nicely implemented scroll wheel, similar form factors) and according to their marketing is being aimed clearly at RIM’s sagging market. Being the true technology wh0re that I am (with a particular weakness for cell phones and their ilk) I had to rush out and buy one – but I’ll be returning it shortly now that I’ve had a chance to see it’s short list pros and rather extensive collection of cons.

Motorola has managed to capture a rather attractive RAZR like form factor in a QWERTY phone device. I have to say that as far as the hardware goes I wouldn’t mind keeping this one slid discreetly into my pocket – except for the fact that it’s sexy form factor is pretty much the only selling point the Q has.

The UI is simply bad – they chose to restrict Windows Mobile 5.0 to a horribly large font (for readability?) and thus sacrifice precious screen real estate that could be used to display more information to the user. The scroll wheel makes it a bit more tolerable due to the ease at which one can scroll through a mail, but it’s still cumbersome and takes at least twice as many “screen-fulls” of information to see the same email on the Q as it would take on my HTC Wizard.

The mail client has some strange restrictions on it which make it almost completely unusable for me. It won’t support automatic syncing of IMAP folders other than the root inbox folder, and won’t let me use IMAP IDLE, or set a polling frequency of less than 15 minutes. In this modern day and age of “now now NOW!” it’s strange to see a company trying to push a phone with an artificial limit on how quickly you can check your mail in it.

Next up is the lack of recent OS updates. Verizon and Motorola decided to ship with the base Windows Mobile 5.0 OS – not the newly released AKU2 with MSFP. AKU2 is the second service pack for the Windows Mobile operating system, and made some astonishing improvements including true push mail (and the Q lacking this really will prevent it from going toe to toe with the Blackberry) and significantly better memory management.

For being pushed as a “All in Wonder” data-centric device the Q manages to completely disappoint. With it’s difficult to navigate UI, and non-poweruser centric mentality it’s most likely not going to end up in the hands of tomorrow burgeoning enterprise customers who will instead be lured away from the HTC Hermes or Palm’s Treo 700w (also made by HTC)

Lastly I was hoping to be blown away with EVDO having come from Cingular’s aging EDGE network. I think the term underwhelmed comes to mind – it’s faster than EDGE, but not by much. For my money I would rather pay half as much for data service through Cingular and get 85% of the throughput.

The moral of this story? Never betray HTC! HTC makes the best Windows Mobile devices on the market (Wizard, Apache, Hermes, and Treo 700w) and knows how to create a truly positive user experience.

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Oooh! Ahh!

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

I am proud to announce that the other day I bought socks. I’m even prouder to announce that the socks I bought are cushioned for comfort. In fact they are soo cushioned that the manufacturer feels a need to describe it as “Oooh! Ahh! Cushioned Comfort“.

Talk about a value add! My feet moan with delight!

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