Sunday, September 30, 2007

Gift for the Parents - eStarling Digital Frame

We recently picked up an eStarling frame for my parents. It's a digital frame like you've no doubt seen, but with a twist.

The frame establishes a WiFi connection to a central server. The result? My brothers and I can now e-mail pictures directly to the frame. How cool is that? I love it when objects get e-mail addresses.

The server side software also allows you to hook up the frame to arbitrary RSS feeds (how slick is that?) and to upload files directly to the frame.

The remote maintenance would be especially handy if my dad wasn't so tech savvy. I love the idea of being able to just fix the frame without them having to do anything.

Come to think of it, why can't we setup computers this same way? I don't want access to the parents/grandparents/friends desktop, I want total *control* over it, and as a side effect have it show up on a monitor in my their house? Oh well, another idea for another time.

The eStarling frame was painless to setup, though it couldn't see the network initially, which was disappointing. It's also dropped the network connection at least once, which was also a serious issue. Though maybe it was a temporary glitch, as things seem stable now.

The only other issue I have is that the frame size is pretty tiny. The screen sizes appears to be like 5 1/2" wide or something like that - I'd love it if were closer to say 8x10".

All in all, the device is quite cool and just works. Now I've got to load it up with some pictures...

--Ben

Got a sample at Dole Pineapple!

Shira getting a taste at the Dole Pineapple plantation. Yum!

MySQL Tip List

Previously, I mentioned an impressive Postgres Tip list. Today I stumbled across a comparable set of tips for MySQL.

Specifically, I was looking for a way to customize the prompt of the mysql command. Here's the tip:

Changing the Mysql client prompt: (Mysql 4.0.2 and higher)

(from http://dev.mysql.com/doc/mysql/en/mysql_Commands.html)

e.g. "prompt \d\R\m>" will show the current database + millitary hour + minutes

Put in my.cnf

[mysql]
prompt="\\d\\R\\m>"

I ended up adding the following to ~/.my.cnf:

 [mysql]
 prompt="\\u [\\d]> "

There's plenty of other useful tips, so if you are a MySQL user, check them out.

A Good Cause

There's nothing I can add to this story. Just read it, and then take a few minutes and make donation.

I'm almost certain this will be among the hardest and most rewarding things you do all day.

Review: Guerrilla Data Analysis using Microsoft Excel

Credit for this nice find of a book goes to my Dad. He introduced me to Bill Jelen, aka Mr. Excel, the author of Guerrilla Data Analysis using Microsoft Excel.

First off, the book is ideal simply because of its weight and tone. Instead of being a 3 inch thick "bible" it's more like a readable workbook. And instead of being a dry text, it's quite motivational.

The true value of the book lies in the fact that it gets back to the basics of manipulating Excel formulas. What seem like antiquated functions, like vlookup, or index, turn out to be quite useful. And any reasonable programmer should see some valuable patterns here that can be quickly put to use.

There's also a collection of random'ish tips which are quite useful (example - the paste special function has way more uses than I imagined).

If you are a geek and use Excel, this is an ideal book. The reality is that you can leverage your programming experience at the cell formula level, without dipping into VB, or falling back on manual tweaks. This book will at the very least inspire you to this end, if not get you there.

I give the book an 8.4/10 because it was on the right track, but needed just a bit more. If the book could keep the same flavor and double it's size it would be just about perfect.

--Ben

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Might Bit Chilly

Forget about walk in refrigeration - my mom provides live in refrigeration. 59 degrees in my parent's house, yikes!

It wouldn't be so bad, except I'm finally used to living at 80+ degrees. Getting up in the morning feels like waking up on a camp out.

I shouldn't joke too much - my mom provides terrific hospitality and lots of warm blankets.

--Ben

Paradise With A Smile

Apparently, paradise agrees with my wife.

A Simon At Heart

Here's Grandma and David from a few day ago gambling. Yes, she's remarkably sick. But, she's a Simon at heart - she's got to have a good time.

I'm 100% sure her doctors wouldn't want her eating chopped liver and kishke either, but, what the heck.

She's one heck of a trooper. She continues to confuse the doctors, as she's sick but not giving up. We are just enjoying every minute we get with her and continue to learn from her example.

--Ben

Thanks to Aunt Marilyn for snapping the photo!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A View Of Paradise

If you thought my view was impressive today, check out Shira's.

No that's not a mural, that's the real deal. How's that for a snapshot of paradise?

Little Thrills

Call me a hospital rookie, but I still stand and gape like an 8 year old when the chopper lands on the roof at the hospital. That's just too cool.

Grandma and I had a chance to talk this morning, in between her resting and my working. She taught me about Rachel Ray, and we kvetched in general.

No question about it, my grandma is one tough lady. I can only hope I got a healthy dose of her genes.

--Ben

Ben's Next Must Have (or Test?) Gadget

Thanks to Nick for pointing me to the Endgadget article announcing the new Sidekick.

Oh man, do I want to get play with one of these. If they could nail the camera and battery life this time, I'd be such a happy camper. From a look around Sidekick.com, it seems as though the basics of the device have stayed the same. Why didn't they add WiFi? And what's up with this MySpace app. I thought MySpace was so last year. Still, the recipe of the Sidekick is pretty good, so I'm not too concerned they haven't added to it.

Nick also mentioned that T-mobile is now offering the Blackberry Curve. The Curve looks like it has it all - WiFi, GPS, Qwerty keyboard, etc. - so I'm going to have to play with it thoroughly before I settle on the Sidekick.

My mantra for this next cell purchase will be: Test, Test, Test. If I keep saying that enough, maybe I'll actually do it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Real Medicine

Sure, antibiotics and other modern medical offerings are nice and all. But really, what medical issue can't be solved with a shot of whiskey among family?

--Ben

Star Wars Meets Family Guy

If you are even a remotely a Star Wars wars fan, the Family Guy episode is an absolute must see.

One day we'll have to explain to our kids that back in the dark ages, if you wanted to watch something impressive on TV, you had to actually watch the show, on, uh, TV. Our kids will just be getting the best parts from YouTube.

Also: part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5.

Resting and (Sorta) Working

Here we all are - hanging out in Grandma's hospital room. We are all pretending to work, though really we are just schmoozing.

Note Grandpa is only pretending to sleep - really he's contemplating the problems of the universe.

--Ben

Monday, September 24, 2007

Mission Not Quite Accomplished

I was all ready to get in my flight suit and find an aircraft carrier to
declare - Mission Accomplished - I've completed my first 2 Star Sudoku
puzzle.

Except, on the last box I realized that the numbers didn't fit and
somewhere along the lines I totally hosed up the puzzle.

Any chance I can hire Carl Rove and the rest of the Bush team to spin
this for me?

Thankfully, I stayed the course and didn't cut and run.

--Ben

Obligatory Photo

Whoops, posted my heading to Rochester without a photo. Here's some
proof that I'm really on a plane heading to Rochester.

One day I'm going to rig up an Edit Post facility for moblogging with
Blogger.

I think I'd do it by sending e-mail with a particular ID/keyword to swap
posts.

This append only approach only works so well...

--Ben

Rochester Bound

I'm moving up my timetable - I was planning to head to Rochester for
Sukkot. Unfortunately, my grandma is still not well, and her health may
actually be failing.

Oy.

It's off to go be with family during this difficult time.

--Ben

Dog Is My Co-pilot

Well not mine, but the guy parked next to me.

Sorry, as a dyslexic, I coudn't resist.

--Ben

Field Testing My ER-6 Headphones

I've been enjoying the pair of Etymotic Research ER-6 headphones
(http://tinyurl.com/2owz3f) my parents bought me a while back. They are
both noise canceling and earbud style, which at first seemed a
contradiction to me.

Yesterday was the first time I tried using them while mowing the lawn.
Surprisingly, the podcast I was listening came through loud and clear.
I could still hear the law mower and other ambient noise, which I think
was a good thing. In the past when I've tried mowing the lawn with a
pair of earbud headphones on, all I've heard was engine noise.

The ER-6's have a form factor which is basically that of ear plugs.
This makes them a bit invasive, as you cram them deep into your ears.
However, they are effective, and once you get used to their fit, are
comfortable (considering they are earbuds and all).

Today's podcast was a recording of a talk by Barry Flicker on the topic
of project managment
(http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/shows/detail1721.html). Hearing
him try to convince agile tech companies that project managment
formalization isn't evil was impressive. Though I'm not done yet with
the presentation, so I'm not sure if it has a happy ending.


--Ben

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Uncanny Resemblance

Here's Greg at the Torpedo Factory with a paper giraffe. The resemblance is uncanny, no?

Shira, Greg and I had a fun time hanging out in Old Town Alexandria. The weather was beyond perfect.

--Ben

Gates and Security

Before

After

Just because there's a big gate standing in the way, doesn't mean there's much security.

Case in point - by turning the handle with a bit more force than usual, I was able to get through this gate.

There's a security lesson here somewhere.

--Ben

currentTimeMillis() in PHP

Tonight I really wished I had the PHP equivalent of Java's System.getCurrentTimeMillis() or JavaScript's getTime(). I didn't have one, so I whipped one up using microtime. Here it is:

// return our current unix time in millis
function current_millis() {
    list($usec, $sec) = explode(" ", microtime());
    return round(((float)$usec + (float)$sec) * 1000);
}

Here's the classic usage:

  $started = current_millis();
  someQuestiontionableOperation();
  echo "We took: " . (current_millis() - $started) . " millis to run";

Enjoy!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bimah eye view

Update: Here's a camera phone shot of the sanctuary before Yom Kippur started. It's taken from the Bimah. It's hard to tell, but that's about 400ish seats in our little shul - all of which were reserved ahead of time (go us!).

It's not kosher to take photos on Yom Kippur (or Shabbat for that matter), so I could only snap this one because I got to the temple a tad bit (OK, quite a bit) on the early side.

If you celebrated Yom Kippur, I hope you had an easy fast and a meaningful day.

It's amazing - I can't go 4 hours between meals at work, yet I found it fairly easy to go 25 hours without food or water today. Strange.

Prepping for Yom Kippur

OK Ladies and Gentlemen, it's time for the big one - Yom Kippur. That's 25 hours of no food or water, not to mention focusing on sin and personal shortcomings. Yeah, it's fun.

Check out this interesting series on one Woman's search to figure out if she should fast or not. Careful - I've only read the first few installments, so I'm not sure it's completely appropriate. Though I've been both entertained and educated by what she has to say.

Whatever your reason for fasting, I wish you an easy and meaningful one.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Technology Insights From Cod

So I'm listening to a book about cod (yes, an entire book about a type of fish). Specifically, I'm in the section which discusses early predictions that overfishing was both a myth and impossible. Yes, impossible. Scientists were clear: humans couldn't catch enough fish to wipe out a species, even if they tried.

Of course, the predictions were wrong - we can easily over fish, not to mention exterminate pretty much anything we put our minds to. Even cod.

What's interesting to me is how the scientists of the past missed the fact that technology could be such a game changer. It allows for a fundamental change in the scale of the problem.

This chapter reminds me of a conversation I heard from the guys that designed TCP/IP. When they specified the original addressing scheme, try as they could, they couldn't imagine having more than 1,000 computer networks in the world. It just wasn't possible.

Fast forward to today, and every household and business in America is on its way to having at least one network in it.

How could they have missed this? These were smart guys.

Of course, they didn't really miss it - it was just not there.

My advice: never use the world never to describe a phenomena.

--Ben

Review: Dune

18 CDs later, and I'm done with Frank Herbert 's Dune. Overall, I have to say I'm impressed.

As I mentioned earlier, I was highly skeptical of the book (well, the genre really) - but I quickly took to it. It managed to keep my interest , though I have to admit some of the parts seem to drag a bit. Though with a story arc that's really long, the slow parts were more than reasonable.

The whole desert world, with its invented technology and challenges turned out to be especially fun to read about. Also, surprisingly, I enjoyed the whole description of the character's super natural / prophetic abilities. Unlike most books, it tried to explain these traits in surprising detail.

I keep hearing from those I've mention my enjoyment of this book to, that the sequels don't match the original. I'm not ready for a let down, so I think I'll pass on the additional books for now. Not to mention, at 18 CDs, who has the time for books like this?

I give Dune a 9.2/10 - it was an excellent way to dig into Sci-Fi / Fantasy.

--Ben

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Caption Me

I'll start...

>> Looks like our batch of Tech Company Fuel is in...

--Ben

Update: Make sure to check out Dave's comment, it's hilarious. I guess fake press releases fit well with my fake news obsession.

College Habits

I forgot to put the pizza I ordered for the team last night in the
fridge. In fact, the extra slices sat in the conference room all
night.

When I came in this morning did we chuck the pizza? Heck no! Everyone
knows that critical college rule: pizza can remain edible for days
outside the fridge.

And so we applied this logic to our find this morning, and had cold
(well, room temperature) pizza for breakfast.

If folks come down with food poisoning today, I'm sure its a pure
coincidence.

--Ben

Twitter for the Organization

I think this goes into the clever department - apparently the book publisher Wrox has a Twitter stream. I've been following it for a day now, and it seems like the real deal.

Why on Earth would a publisher want a Twitter stream? Here are some examples from their stream:

A PR streamAll Wrox e-books 50% off! Visit http://tinyurl.com/3284sh and use promo code EWRXN at checkout
A way to solicit ideasThinking Ajax book topics: Publishers have already done their first books - what's needed now? What are the 2nd tier Ajax topics you need?
A way to advertise jobsSeeking JavaScript ninja with experience using a variety of frameworks/libraries
A way to have a dialog with its followers @CalebJenkins Lets talk about you mad JavaScript skilz. Email me and lets set up a time to talk on the phone. cwebb@wrox.com

What a sweet marketing hack. Naturally, the universe of people who follow Twitter streams is pretty small - but still, look at what you can do with them? At the moment, Wrox is having a fairly intimate conversation with 48 other people, and it's costing them next to nothing.

If a book publisher can leverage Twitter, chances are, so can your organization.

Free Design Templates

Steve Rubel pointed me to dotemplate.com - a collection of free web page templates you can download and use. I like nearly everything about the site:

  • It provides a quick way to get a well designed layout for a site going (well, duh, that's what it's for)
  • The HTML / CSS appears to be really clean, so it serves as a nice example of design/coding separation of concerns
  • The templates can serve as both design and coding inspiration
  • The purpose of the site is to advertise the freelance services of the developer. What a terrific example of showing, not telling about your skills.

Bottom line: it's a handy site, and a great example of guerrilla marketing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Clinton on Health Care

While I happen to be learning about the topic Hillary Clinton announced her Universal Health Care Plan.

It's interesting, a few days ago this would have been meaningless news to me. Now I'm actually quite curious about it.

Given my very limited (and one sided, and probably wrong) source of information, I have to say I think I agree with Edward's perspective on the topic:

Former senator John Edwards (D-N.C.), who proposed a universal health-care plan earlier this year, said Clinton's plan failed to take on the insurance industry strongly enough. "The lesson Senator Clinton seems to have learned from her experience with health care is, 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.' I learned a very different lesson from decades of fighting powerful interests - you can never join 'em, you just have to beat 'em," he said.

This of course assumes that the health care system really is as broken as I think it is. It does indeed seem like Clinton is suggesting an important step, but isn't going far enough.

And check out Obama's comments:

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) issued a statement lauding Clinton's effort but suggesting that he would be better suited to accomplishing a healthcare overhaul because of his ability to achieve consensus. "I commend Senator Clinton for her health care proposal," Obama said. "It's similar to the one I put forth last spring, though my universal health-care plan would go further in reducing the punishing cost of health care than any other proposal that's been offered in this campaign. But the real key to passing any health-care reform is the ability to bring people together in an open, transparent process that builds a broad consensus for change."

He's coming off as a bit too smug and confident for my liking. I suppose he can argue that his plan is better, but I don't get this whole "I can build consensus where you can't" attitude. I guess that's a coded phrase meant to mean something to someone (like, say family values). But it doesn't mean anything to me.

C'mon Obama - you can do so much better. Don't make me vote for Edwards.

Accidental Book Recommendations

Whether Dave or George know it or not, they've made some really good book recommendations over the last few days. So good, I've decided to share them with the rest of the world.

I haven't read either of these books, but they are definitely on my Wish List.

Dave, George, I hope you don't mind me spreading around your wisdom.


Somehow Dave, our Marketing Guru at work, and I got on the topic of selling and he highly recommended the book The New Strategic Selling: The Unique Sales System Proven Successful by the World's Best Companies. I know, what a mouthful. He suggests that this is the ideal text to read if you are in the business of making enterprise level sales.

I'm passing on this recommendation not because I'm interested in leaping into sales (gosh, no), but because I think it would be handy for developers to understand what the sales forces do. Besides, when Dave recommends a book, it's got to be good.


George had The Principles of Beautiful Web Design sitting on his bookshelf, and I couldn't help but notice it. It's a colorful slim little volume that seems to be answering that age old question, how can geeks produce good looking web pages.

From the review on Slashdot, I get the sense that the book delivers on its promise. The book's microsite alone is impressive, and worth checking out.

If you are interested in sharpening your graphics skills, you should also check out the Non-Designers Design Book.

Thanks for tips guys. Anyone else out there who have a must read? Definitely let me know about it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ideas Are Easy

Here's a brilliant bit of wisdom from Seth Godin:

Padmanabhan wrote me a nice note today, asking why I so freely give away ideas. (It was nice because he thought some of the ideas were actually good ones). I responded that ideas are easy, doing stuff is hard.

Read the whole post here.

This sentiment is really a pithy summary of one of Seth's latest books, The Dip. More and more, I find myself using this philosophy of ideas vs. thinking / The Dip to explain just about all the projects I'm involved in. As a side note, The Dip is an absolute must read, and is a quick read no less.

I find this lesson about doing to be especially true for development. There are two rules I've taken away from this:

  • Everyone loves to talk about how to develop great software. Few will actually do it.
  • It's good that developing software is hard because it makes it harder for your competitors to catch up to the work you are doing. The very fact that you are doing puts you ahead of the competition, which is still focusing on all the great ideas they have.

Those rules above seem to come across as a bit too cynical. Am I being too hard on my craft?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Form Saver - Where have you been all my life?

I was just testing out a web app, which of course required me to fill out the same form over and over. Annoying, to say the least.

Then it hit me, I bet there's a Firefox Add-On that will do this for me. And sure enough, there is (well, probably many). The one that found and have taking an instant liking to is Form Saver.

The concept is really simple. Fill out a form with the test values, then click on Tools >> Form Saver. The result is a bookmarklet, that when clicked, it will instantly fill out the form.

Simple, and a huge time saver. Love it.

I've also been dabbling with Fire Bug - which is a really feature rich web page debugger. I can already tell it's worth taking a bit of extra time to read up on.

As Abe Lincoln said::

Give me eight hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first six sharpening the axe.

What a difference sharp tools can make.

Sicko: A thought provoking documentary

Yesterday, we saw Sicko, the Michael Moore documentary about the health-care and insurance situation in the United States. In typical Michael Moore fashion, whether you love him or hate him, and you go in there knowing that he is going to present a very one-sided picture, he does open your eyes to what seems to be a very serious situation in America.

There are many uninsured Americans, those with insurance seem to be constantly fighting with their insurance companies to cover procedures when it is not in the insurance companies best interests to cover expensive procedures and the overall state of health care clearly seems to have some problems.

But, as far as entertainment, he did include a fair bit of humor. Come on, gathering people on a boat and heading to Guantanamo Bay because the detainees get free medical care? The guy has chutzpah!

The only problem is, there doesn't seem to be an easy solution and the problem won't go away overnight. And, just today in the Washington Post, there was an article on the candidates' positions on the topic of health coverage. So, I guess we'll just have to stay tuned...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

More New Year's Wishes

Last Year I got to share one of my favorite stories that relate to Rosh Hashanah. It's still a gem, so give it a read.

Rosh Hashanah, it turns out, isn't just the Jewish New Year. According to Jewish tradition, it's the day that Man was created (and basically the anniversary of the world). I know, deep stuff.

So, along this whole mankind theme, I thought I would share one of my favorite quotes from the Mishnah. Think of it as more New Year's PMA.

[85] Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4: 5

For this reason, man [i.e. the first human being] was created alone to teach that whoever destroys a single life is as though he had destroyed an entire universe, and whoever saves a single life is as if he had saved an entire universe. Furthermore [the first man was created alone] for the sake of peace among men, so that no one could say to another, “My ancestor was greater than yours” . . . [Yet another reason] was to proclaim the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He, for when a human being strikes many coins from one mould, they all resemble one another, but the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, fashioned every man in the stamp of the first man, and yet not one of them resembles his fellow.

In one quote, the Rabbis have show that every human life is unique and beyond value. Not bad for a document consolidated in the year 200CE.

May we all take these words to heart in this upcoming year, and all know peace.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sweetness

In just a few minutes the holiday of Rosh Hashanah will be starting. This holiday marks a new year in the Jewish calendar. May it be one of health, happiness and sweetness.

L'shanah Tova!

I'm off to go help Shira with our most traditional RH meal...Hot Dogs. At least it'll be a yummy year.

(See all ya'll on Sunday!)

--Ben

Tivo Hardware Adventure

What a fun time I had tonight! Shira and I decided to move the Tivo into our bedroom. This was easy. The tricky part turned out to be getting a new Ethernet jack in place so we could actually plug it in.

This project involved pulling up cable through the attic and dropping it down another wall, correctly wiring the new Ethernet jack and dealing with the fact that somewhere along the lines our Tivo stopped making use of the Ethernet card I had installed in it.

I'm pretty proud of myself - every time something seemed to be going horrifically wrong, I stayed calm and worked through the problem. There may be hope for me and hardware after all.

I even accounted for every last piece, including this itty bitty plastic cap that goes over the Ethernet jack. There wasn't an extra part in sight.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pentagon Snapshot

I happened to be out and about near the Pentagon tonight, and happened to have my camera with me. This was all very fortunate because the Pentagon was lit up for 9/11. I didn't have a tripod with me, and I wasn't particularly close, so this is about the best I could do.

While not nearly as impressive as my photo last year, at least it serves as a reminder of this remarkable day in history.

Update: Here's another shot that I managed to clean up. Maybe it's better than the one above?

System Recovery Like It's 1999

Last night, I popped in the SD card from our camera into my laptop, and was greeted with a heart stopping "I/O error." The disk, as far as windows was concerned, was broken.

I finally found a work around - I put the SD card (it's actually a miniSD card) into my Sidekick, then connected my Sidekick to the computer as USB device. Thankfully, the Sidekick allowed us to get all the photos off the drive.

Shira dabbled around with the card and learned that we apparently had a corrupt folder on it that was keeping Windows from reading it.

I decided to give fixing the drive a shot, so I tried the only command I know on windows to fix drives - cksdsk.exe. I suppose I first used this command back in the early to mid 90's, when DOS was the order of the day.

After a bit of poking around, not only was chkdsk still available, but it was actually the recommended standard. You can run it in a GUI mode (My Computer >> Right Click on Drive >> Properties >> Tools >> Check Now), but it's more authentic and fun to go old school and run it from the DOS prompt (Start >> Run >> cmd.exe):

  chkdsk /r e:

When I ran the command, I was greeted by error messages like:

The \DCIM\205CANON\IMG_5717.JPG entry contains a nonvalid link.
The \DCIM\205CANON\IMG_5718.JPG entry contains a nonvalid link.
The \DCIM\205CANON\IMG_5720.JPG entry contains a nonvalid link.
\DCIM\205CANON\IMG_5722.JPG is cross-linked on allocation unit 11061.
Cross link resolved by copying.
\DCIM\205CANON\IMG_5724.JPG is cross-linked on allocation unit 11127.
Cross link resolved by copying.
\DCIM\205CANON\IMG_5729.JPG is cross-linked on allocation unit 11121.
Cross link resolved by copying.
\DCIM\205CANON\IMG_5732.JPG is cross-linked on allocation unit 11303.

I don't know what it all means, but it sounds important and makes me feel like chkdsk is doing something.

My current attempt to run chkdsk is actually hanging at the end of the process. Googling around for a solution hasn't turned up anything, but my guess is that I need to run chkdsk from Safe Mode, or some such nonesense.

I was going to include a rant in here about how embarrassed Microsoft should be that after so many years, the same basic command line tool is still in use. But then I realized, I'm still using /sbin/fsck on Linux, and that seems totally reasonable to me.

On the other hand, Windows has basically moved away from command line utilities, whereas Linux hasn't - so maybe the comparison isn't the same.

This just all brought back flashbacks of using a DOS Luggable, with a 4 inch screen and dual floppy drives. Good times, good times.

Update: Turns out, chkdsk was hanging because I was attempting to run it in a cygwin rxvt terminal. I ran the same command as above in a regular old DOS box, and it worked like a charm. I now have a clean drive.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Fashion Faux Pas - Been There, Done That

Today, I noticed that Mike was dressed especially smartly - that is to say, we were wearing the same basic outfit (blue pants, white with blue pattern shirt). We differed, however, in shoes, belt and sock combinations. Specifically, we disagreed: should the socks match the pants, or the shoes?

Naturally, I thought I heard somewhere that the socks should match your pants. But did I blog it and have a permalink to this bit of info? Of course not. Mike was pretty sure that the socks should match the shoes.

After a bit of debate on this topic, I learned that basically the rules I had been following to get dressed in the morning are essentially all wrong. Shoes.About.com has what appears to be pretty reliable advice on shoe, pants and socks combinations.

Here's some of what I learned:

The RuleComments
Shoes should match the beltMike suggested this rule too, and is one I've been more or less following. But now I know it's set it stone.
Although it is a safe bet, socks do not need to match your shoes. D'oh - I thought for sure socks needed to match your pants. This is good news: I have two colors of shoes, brown and black, so now I only need two colors of socks.
Shiny shoes = fancy shoesI think I had intuitively known this, but it's still a good rule to know for sure
Black shoes work well with navy, grey or black pantsWhoa - wait just a minute! I thought for sure it was illegal to wear black and navy blue together. And now I find out, it's required? Dang. This is a rule that I thought I absolutely knew the answer to. Perhaps it's only that you can't wear a navy jacket and black pants - thought maybe that's OK?
Brown shoes are best suited to tan, brown, beige, greens, other darker earth tonesFair enough, though I wouldn't have guessed this
Choose a shoe that is the same color or darker than your pantsI suppose this is the general rule. I had no idea this was the strategy you were supposed to use.

I realize that women have their fair share of challenges (high heels, childbirth, putting up with men) - but ladies, give us this one. Getting dressed as a guy is pretty tricky stuff.

Anyone want to add to, or challenge the above rules?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Geek Sex Appeal

Call me what you will, but I have to say - there is nothing sexier than
having a chick pull out, not one, but, two Blackberry's while you are
taxiing to the gate.

Thankfully, that chick is my wife.

--Ben

A Sign You'd Never See In DC

36 Acres for $89,000. In DC, you'd be lucky to get .00036 acres for that much.

--Ben

Homeward Bound

After a terrific (but too short) weekend, we are heading back to DC. I have to say, this First Class status is really spoiling us. We skipped a really long security line and calmly made our way to the gate in San Diego.

All passengers on First Class Air would get to use this perk.

The flight to Phoenix was absolutely painless. We are now waiting out our lay over, seated near an outlet with access to free WiFi. This is pretty much as good as it gets.

Both Phoenix and San Diego had airports with gorgeous views. The photos don't do it justice.

--Ben

Jenna and Justin - They're So Married!

A big Mazel Tov to Jenna and Justin on their wedding! Whoo!

The wedding was held in Jenna's Parent's backyard - which the photos just don't do justice. It was absolutely amazing. And releasing doves at the end of the ceremony? Wow.

We had so much fun. Jenna and Justin put on such an awesome party. Thanks guys!

--Ben

Friday, September 07, 2007

La Jolla - La Neat Place To Hang

If I thought the view from the airport was promising, the one from La Jolla was nothing short of outstanding. Man, this place is gorgeous.

We went to George's for lunch - self described as Modern Californian. This apparently means: "lightly colored mystery veggy material served instead of fries." My fish tacos were delish, and served with a carrot like substance. Shira's portebello sandwich had a big pile of what appeared to be shredded carrots and perhaps beets. Who really knows?

I shouldn't knock the food, it was really good.

Off to the hotel it is...

--Ben

San Diego - a first glimpse

72 degrees, sunny, no humidity and palm trees - I'm liking San Diego already.

And here's a random item to find in an airport: a "First Amendment table." It has a really clear sign that says people sitting at the table aren't providing airport information, but are practicing their First Amendment Rights.

Do people in San Diego sit around and say:

Hey Chuck, let's go down to the airport and sit at the First Amendment Table. We can protest against people who eat avocodoes. It'll be a blast!

I'm tempted to take up a cause and sit at the table. Unfortunately, I didn't bring any pamphlets to hand out. D'oh.

--Ben

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