archive for February, 2005

Comment Deletion

I’ve finally gotten around to adding a feature so that I can easily delete comments. This will help out if I ever get hammered with comment spam, or if someone accidentally posts twice (which is easy to do). I really need to package up my code and release a new version. It has been over a year since the last release, and I’ve added a lot of features since then.

Waiting for Movies

There haven’t been any movies worth seeing in theaters lately. I can’t even remember the last movie I saw that wasn’t brought to me by Netflix, but I’m sure it’s been at least a few months. Usually we go out at least once a month, so for us this has been an exceptionally long wait.

Lately I have been noticing some up coming films that look theater-worthy. Here’s my list:
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
A Scanner Darkly
Star Wars Episode 3
War of the Worlds

What’s on your list?

Ground School: Week 1

I’m taking a private pilot ground school class with a friend from work, so that should give me something to write about every week. Today is my first post, but hopefully not my last.

Before we could attend class, first we had to drive there. With all of the rain we’ve been getting, several roads were closed. Normally to get to Santa Monica, we’d just zoom along the Pacific Coast Highway, hop on I-10, and drop onto surface streets. On a normal day, I’d guess it would take about 25 min.

Today was not a normal day. PCH was closed between our office and Santa Monica, so we had to drive around. Unfortunately, Malibu Canyon was also closed, so we had to drive west up PCH to Kanan-Dume. Kanan was backed up for miles because the 101 was slowed to a crawl, and nobody could get on the freeway. We know a bit of a shortcut through the hills, so we exited at Troutdale and took that over to Mulholland. We took Mulholland to Las Virgenes, and it wasn’t until we got to the 101 that we realized how bad it was. To avoid the mess, we took surface streets all of the way east to Topanga Canyon.

Our other option was to get on 101, and take that down to the 405 south. We could see that the freeway was just inching along and what couldn’t be more than 10 mph. Even with all of the added traffic from people avoiding the freeways, it seemed like Topanga couldn’t be worse. We were doing fine. We made it almost all of the way back down to PCH before we saw the break lights. We’d heard that there was a lane closed on Topanga, and they were alternating the traffic between north bound and south. What we didn’t expect is that the south bound would be closed for nearly half an hour at a time. We actually sat there for at least 20 min. (I didn’t look at the clock when we stopped, so it could have been more like 30.) I was starting to wonder if they were ever going to let us go, or if they were going to start turning people around. Eventually they opened up the road and within a few minutes we were back on PCH. It turns out that half of the road through Topanga Canyon is washed out. It’s going to take some time for them to get that fixed.

The drive from Topanga to Santa Monica Airport was pleasant. What should have taken less than half an hour ended up taking more than two hours. Luckily we had planned for it, so we arrived in time for class. I really hope they get PCH opened again. I don’t want to have to repeat that trek next week.

Before class really got started, we had a little time to walk around the building and get something to eat. It’s amazing how many memories of college were brought back to the surface. Back when I went to Cal Poly Pomona, I used to buy coffee and cookies out of the vending machines. I swear, they have the exact same vending machines at the airport. It was nice to be able to have a quick drink and a bite to eat before sitting down. I’m thinking about making it a habit, at least the coffee. The classroom also brought me back in time. I don’t know how long it’s been since I sat in a chair with a desk attached, but somehow it felt normal. The instructor wheeled in a big TV on a cart before class started. The only thing different from this cart, and the ones we had in high school and college is that this one also came with a DVD player. Of course, the added piece of equipment added one more remote. For some reason, they never label those things, and teachers are always trying to figure out what controls what. Today was no different.

The class itself was a little less interesting, but a lot more fun than the drive there. We started out by watching a video that covered the basics of the parts of an airplane and what makes it fly. Most if it I already knew from flight simulators, but it was a good little refresher. The instructor spent another two hours or so talking about the history of flying, and of the airport. Several people asked questions which was cool, and we all introduced ourselves.

I need to buy the text book and read chapter one by next week. I should probably order it tonight, but I’m going to go to bed instead. It’ll probably get here in time if I order it tomorrow.

Link Roundup: Feb. 23, 2005

MP3Tunes
A new MP3 store that lets you buy music that you can actually play (no DRM). The drawback: not much in the way of selection. In other music news, AllOfMP3.com may be going the way of the dodo.

NewsBurst
Cnet released an online news aggregator. I still prefer Thunderbird for my feeds, but I’m sure someone will find it useful.

Overqualified
From the people at A Softer World: resume cover letters. Don’t bother unless you like really funny, really dark, humor.

A parent’s primer to computer slang
Have you ever been baffled by the gibberish kids use online? Well, wonder no longer. Microsoft has taken the time to explain it all. In short, your kids are hackers spending all of their time downloading software illegally.

RoboMonkey
Scientists have done it again. They managed to connect a robotic arm up to a monkey’s brain. The monkey could then control the arm just by thinking about it. Also, scientists have connected a video camera up to a person’s brain to allow them to see. Watch out for huge advances in the brain-computer interface. It won’t be long before non-disabled people will be plugging in.

Wikinews is Getting Better
While it’s not quite ready for keeping up with today’s news, it’s a great resource for older news stories. I really like their new site layout. It’ll probably take another year before this is ready for the general public, but go ahead and take some time to check it out while it’s still new.

Walkability leads to Walking
It’s not really that surprising, but cities that are designed to be pedestrian friendly really do get people to walk more. America loves its cars, but I don’t think we realize how much car-centric cities are hurting us. It’s no wonder most of us are overweight.

Myers-Briggs

Personality tests can be fun. I’ve been taking online versions of the Myers-Briggs personality sorter every year or two for a while now. I just took it again tonight, and apparently I haven’t changed.

I’m still INTJ (100%, 56%, 78%, 22%). Here are a couple of descriptions of what that means: 1, 2. From what I understand, I’m a bit of an oddball. My personality type is one of the smallest groups taking up only a couple percent of the general population. I wonder if my personality will change as I age.

If you’d like to find out how your personality sorts out, humanmetrics offers an easy test. It’s only takes a few minutes, and can be fun and interesting. No really, it can. If you take the test, please post a comment with your personality type.

Real Estate Busyness

Jesse and I have been really busy on our real estate hunt. Sorry if my posts are coming a little less frequently than normal. I should have at least one big post to show for it when all of this is over.

Flickr: Day 1

Yesterday, I talked a little about Flickr. Today I created and started working on my account. I’ve only uploaded 11 photos so far; be sure to check for more later. You’ll also notice that I don’t have any contacts. If you have a Flickr account, or if you get one, be sure to let me know so that we can link up.

Since I’ve signed up, I’ve learned quite a bit more about how the system work. It’s super easy to upload photos. You can download and install a little tool that makes uploading as simple as a drag-and-drop. You can tag your pictures with words that describe what’s in them. This makes it easier to find them later. Like other FOAF systems, you can join groups based on a common interest.

I’ve updated the home page of my blog so that it shows my latest Flickr upload on the right (you may need to scroll down to see it). Hopefully I’ll update it at least once a week, but since I only have the free version of Flickr, there are limits to how much I can upload.

There are a lot of really good photographers out there. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked, but it really makes me wonder why so many people are buying pictures from Target and hanging them on their walls. We can do better than that.

Flickr's First Birthday

According to BoingBoing, Flickr is one year old. I’ve been meaning to, but I still haven’t signed up for an account yet. For those not in the know, Flickr is a photo sharing and searching site (and a whole lot more).

Anybody with a digital camera should go ahead and sign up for an account, and post some pictures. If you have a camera phone, then you’d be crazy to not sign up. I’d love to have a camera phone, but I don’t think I can replace my blackberry. Sorry, got a little off topic there.

If you’d like to learn more about Flickr, take this tour, or read this interview. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Flickr is going to change not just how we view pictures, but the idea of photography itself.

Link Roundup: Feb. 9, 2005

Plugging in hybrids
The idea is simple. Give gasoline-electric hybrids the option to run in electric-only mode. You could plug in and charge up your car if you want to, and you wouldn’t burn any gas on those quick trips to the grocery store or to work and back (assuming you don’t live very far from work). Toyota doesn’t want to admit that customers would love a plug-in hybrid. It’s probably because their marketing team has been so focused on the idea that “you never need to plug-in for recharging“. This idea is too good to pass up, even if it takes a few years for the auto industry to admit it.

Blogging over hyped?
Jack Shafer of Slate makes a decent argument that blogs are over hyped. By comparing blogs to the personal video camera and other new technologies, he says that the existing media industries will adapt and not be overrun by blogs. I’m pretty sure he’s halfway right. True, radio didn’t go away when TV hit the scene, but people don’t exactly turn on the radio and plop down in the recliner when they get home either. Blogs aren’t going to kill TV and the newspapers, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to change the world either.

One Bag
If you’re looking for tips on how to pack lighter when traveling, this site is a great start. Jesse and I lived out of one duffel bag each on our trip to Europe. We only stayed for nine days, but with what we had in those bags would could have stayed for a month. Packing light makes it so much easier to get around and actually travel.

Solar Cell for the Blind
Doctors are testing a new procedure to restore sight to the blind. By inserting a chip with thousands of tiny solar cells, they are able to replace the functionality of a diseased retina. The procedure is still in early testing, and they’ll need to drastically increase the number of light sensors to give people anything near normal sight. It’s still cool to watch the progress of science and technology.

Bottle of Wine, +1 Insightful

Today on Slashdot, someone asked What Do You Charge for Tech Support?. A commenter had the great idea to just ask for a bottle of wine in return. “That way, people can spend as much on the bottle of wine as they think my service was worth.” It’s such a great idea, I’m surprised that this isn’t a common method of payment. Keep it in mind.

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