Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tough week.

I have been devoting almost all of my time on either finals (today and tomorrow) or my new job. I got a really thick book on PL/SQL. I have read up through chapter seven.
Kim has been amazing. While I am stuck reading and doing homework, she has been singlehandedly been taking care of the kids and the house. She is completely stressed out, but come Friday it should be mostly over. I got her flowers, chocolates, and sushi yesterday. I got a card too, but my pen ran out of ink after the first sentance.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I don't understand some people.

Working at a help desk you talk to all sorts of people. Often, I don't really know how to appropriately respond. I had an incident today that highlights a repeating scenerio that I don't know the best way to handle.
A lady was trying to log in to her computer. She didn't know what her username isso I told her what her username is. She responds, "Oh, that's my username" and then bursts out laughing. How do you respond to that? Her username was not funny, and there was certainly nothing funny about me providing that information. I usually just ignore the laughter as it is the most polite response I can think of.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Got the job!

I got a call last night that I now have the job. I have an offer letter and all the paperwork. I start May 5th. I will be starting out working with Oracle SQL. I have been reading over my Java book, but will bring out the Oracle book now. Apparently the job will be using Oracle pretty heavily.
Anyhow, assuming no hiccups, this rocks hard. Woot!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Awesome product

From the department of awesome products I present edible shoe cream:

Po-Zu launched a totally unique product; coconut oil edible shoe cream! The cream is made with 100% organic virgin coconut oil and can be used in multiple ways; from cleaning your shoes, moisturising your face to eating it on toast and conditioning your hair. Its versatility makes it a great product to travel with; meet the Swiss Army Knife of cosmetics!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Successful Ubuntu migrant

Nick contacted me a few months ago about getting a new PC for cheap. I kept my eyes out for a cheap system, and found a barebones Shuttle open box for cheap. I called him and he ordered it with some RAM and a few other parts. For under $300 he had himself a new machine. I shipped him an Ubuntu CD for the OS. His previous computer was Windows 95 on some old hardware and complete with a virus.
There was an initial problem where he put too much gunk on the processor and it wouldn't start. Our cousin, Mike, discovered and fixed the problem.
Next came the install. It didn't go so easy either. The Ubuntu disc would not boot in to the graphical installer. If he chose the low graphics option it was worse. From the normal install option we could get to a command line by pressing ctrl+alt+F3. I thought for sure there was a command line installer, but apparently it is only available by downloading and burning the alternate install CD, which wasn't a very good option. Finally I found that by running /etc/init.d/gdm start we could get the graphical installation up. From there the installation was painless.
Once it was fully installed I helped him setup a few things like get Firefox extensions setup and install GCompris and Child Play for the kids to play.
Ashley is not quite sold on it yet. All she really does is go to MySpace and YouTube, so I'm not sure why she should care that much, as these two functions work really well in Linux. I imagine it is just the jump to using something new and unfamiliar.
Nick said she did have one problem where she was trying to change her MySpace background and got a message that it was only available in Windows. I'm not exactly sure what she was doing, but there are some programs that you can put in your username and password, and then configure your MySpace page with a GUI tool that is more simple than using MySpace's configuration options. One problem is that many of these programs either have virii or hijack your account and randomly post SPAM on the bulletins. So in a way they are probably better off that she was unable to do that.
I got Nick started with setting up VirtualBox so that he could create a Windows 98 virtual machine, but I haven't heard back from him on that. The good thing about virtual machines is that it is easy to create a restore point so that if it got infected you could just revert back to the restore point. VMs are endless fun.
Apparently one of Nick's work buddies is a Linux enthusiast and was excited to see he was running Ubuntu. It is nice to see that when you mention Ubuntu people kind of come out of the woodwork to show their excitement. I did warn Nick that he is likely to run in to people with all sorts of attitudes, Linux is stupid, Windows id stupid, Mac OS is stupid, whatever. I told him he should just use whatever works for him and ignore anyone who disagrees. I told him if he decided he didn't like it it wouldn't hurt my feelings if he bought a copy of Windows.
The good news here is that aside from the installation problem, everything else has been pleasent. Hardware support, ease of use, stability, all have made Nick very happy with his new computer. I am going to advise him against upgrading to the new version that comes out this week. I don't think it is going to offer him anything extra that he will find useful.

Simply Soulful

There is a restaurant on Tennessee St named Simply Soulful. It is part of the Bethel Church next door. I had never been there, but always wanted to. So we took the family there yesterday. When we walked in we where met by a group of people who just broke out in to song. It was simply amazing. I just stood there at the front and smiled. The quality of the singers and the awesomeness of the song was just amazing. After the song they simply shuffled out and left.
I didn't really know what to make of it. It is a soul food restaurant, and it is connected to a church. Do they sing gospel on a regular basis? We got our food and sat down. I asked the waitress about the singers. Apparently they are a gospel group from down south who just stopped by for a bite.
Hearing such wonderful music really just made my day. I couldn't get it off my mind for the rest of the day. It's too bad they don't have something like that on a regular basis.
The food was great too. I got a chicken breast with corn souflee, rice and gravy, and a roll. It was all very delicious. I wish I had more money to make more regular visits. I'm definitely adding it to places to go out to eat.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Giant in the Playground
I've spent the last week devoting most of my time to reading the comics and stories on this site. It is rare that I find something that is this good. Most geek stuff I find out there is complete pooh. The content on this site is awesome.
The two comics are based around a similar theme. A world that is nothing more than a D&D style role playing game. The characters actively talk about combat in the same way a person playing an RPG would. The characters discuss turns, hit points, spot checks, etc., as if it where a normal way to discuss battle.
The feel of each is very different. Order of the Sticks is drawn using stick figures. The humor is slapstick and sarcastic. The mood and tone is silly. I prefer this cartoon over the other.
Erfworld is a much more serious cartoon. It follows a character named Parson Gotti who is the author of the real life webcomic
Parson views himself as a loser who is only good at one thing in life, role playing games. One day while starting a game that he has planned for the last five months he finds himself warped in to the game. He is responsible for fighting against the odds on the losing team.
This comic relies on dry humor. Many things in the RPG world are puns off of real life. The evil ruler rules with a crocket mallet. A lead character flies a peep. Many characters are given names replacing 'r's with 'w's, such as dwagons.
One cool thing about both of these comics is that the authors are not afraid to let everything just fall flat on its face. Main characters die and genius plans hashed up for several strips don't work.
There is a third story, which is not a comic, that is four chapters long. It recalls the tale of a quiet Inn keeper who finds herself going from apathetic busines woman, to radical revolutionist in a matter of hours. The story itself is good, but the story telling is what captures the reader. You can really see everything that is going on in the story.
Rock it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


The job I had applied for, got the position, and then the state wouldn't fund has contacted me. I went in for another interview yesterday. Apparently there is one other applicant they are looking at.
Some of the Tybrin employees where there, but it was for me to be interviewed by the client. I think it went well enough. He wanted to see my personality, work ethic, and ideals. He asked two of those open ended questions, which I always find kind of silly.
The first was how I defined progress. I talked a lot about reorganizing priorities to make bearucracies run smoother.
The second one was more or less designed to throw you off. He said, "A white rabit runs up a tree, falls, and then turns red. Why?" My response was because he died. Not exactly a PC answer, or probably the best one to give in an interview, but it's what came to mind. He said I was only the second to answer the question, with the other being, "How could a rabit climb a tree?" I guess that's good that I'm only the second to answer it. ...
I spent a lot of time discussing my personal opinions on work style, education, and personal experience with computers. I think I did well on each of these.
The interview was very layed back, and I think I did good at giving the impression that I am smart, layed back, and easy to work with. I think these are accurate impressions to give, and my current co-employees and employer would agree.
I really look forward to landing this job, first off because it will mean I'll be making real money finally. Second because it is the exact kind of work I really want to be doing. It is a mixture of different kinds of programming work, database, coding in multiple languages, and web design. They said the current push would be SQL querries, which is also good as I've been doing a fair amount of work personally in SQL and just took two classes in it. I feel that currently SQL is my strong point in the different things I would be doing at Tybrin.
So Kim and I are being cautiously optimistic.

Sick People

Arianna has been sick the last number of days, but is feeling much better today. Kim stayed home with her on Monday, and we both stayed home with her yesterday. About 3 o'clock Kim started feeling terrible. I was at a job interview, but picked up Aurora after that and came home. Kim layed in bed most of the rest of the day, but came out from time to time when she was feeling better.
Kim was feeling better, but not completely well, this morning and went to work. She had some very important things planned for today.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Arianna takes a few steps!

Last Monday I was playing with Arianna and she was standing. I let go of her hands and beckoned her to attempt to come to me. She took two steps forward and on the third she fell in to my arms. I was very proud of her and it was obvious that she was just as proud. She laughed and squealed and hugged me. In her own excitement she was unable to compose herself to enough to try again. She crawled around in a sense of accomplishment.

When Kim came home I told her all about it and she remarked that she got Arianna to walk last Wednesday and had forgotten to tell me. My heart sank, but in her defense, I am rarely home because of school and work.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Programming in Ubuntu

I have started a wiki for learning how to program. It will eventually cover the specifics of programming in Ubuntu, but for not it is pretty agnostic and very little of what is covered has anything to do with what OS you are running.
It turns out that writing a guide on how to program is pretty difficult. Deciding what to introduce, in what order, and how in depth to cover each topic is not easy. A large part of the time it has taken to write this is just me sitting and working out in my head how to proceed. Once I have come up with what I think is best, writing it is usually pretty easy.
The link is

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ralph Nader

I saw Ralph Nader speak last night at FSU. I have never had the opportunity to see him speak before, so I was eager to take advantage of the situation. He was brought by CPE, and this speech was not part of promoting his presidential bid.
He spoke about things that you would expect him to speak on. He talked about how he became interested in consumer advocacy, starting with DDT killing off the birds in the area and how he worked to force auto manufacturers to improve safety in motor vehicles. He talked about how technological stagnation and lack of interest from the "experts" was institutionalized into society in a way to intentional make sure the situation would not improve.
He then went on to discuss how our political and economic system is rigged to ensure that only big businesses and multi-millionaires had their interests being looked after on the backs of the average citizen. He went on about how our duopoly of Democrats and Republicans where looking to make sure that nothing changed in this regard, as their seats where not funded by, but actually seated by the big business interests.
I thoroughly enjoyed his speech, but I thought that many times he would lose focus of the topic at hand and go of on a tangent for a while. He also didn't spend much time articulating his points, other than just stating that it was a problem and giving trivial evidence to back it up. That is fine with me, as I'm really just listening to someone tell me something I already know. For the audience of young college students who are just beginning to explore complex political issues, I think it is a little disingenuous. It is also not teaching the kids what they really need to learn, which is how to look at the facts behind the issues.
One example is where he talked about how we in fact do not live in a sue happy society. This is a well known fact that anyone who has looked beyond the rhetoric and at the figures could tell you. The fact is that we sue less-and-less than we used to. Ralph pointed out that in the late 1800s we sued twice as much per capita as we do now. I don't remember the real number, but it was something like that. What I would have actually liked to see is a graph that showed how much Americans sued per capita since the 1800s, and graph that shows how much the world has sued for during this time frame. This would have provided a good look at the raw numbers over a long period of time so that the people, mostly young students, would have come away with is a real understanding of how litigious we have been over a long period of time.
After he was done with his talk, he took questions from the audience. I found few of the questions interesting. Most of them highlighted the fact that most people in the audience where young and idealistic. I could have probably guessed with pretty good accuracy what Ralph's opinions where on these issues. He did have interested anecdotes to the situation that comes from someone who doesn't follow the same old Democratic thinking, but is a more "outside the box" thinker with many years of experience. Still the questions where only self serving to have the person reinforce his or her view on the subject. I would have been more interested in hearing about issues that aren't so clear, such as when is government regulation appropriate and when is it inappropriate. I wanted to ask a question about how he felt about making crimes, such as knowingly selling products that end up hurting and killing people prosecutable as manslaughter or third degree murder instead of just fining companies that can afford to absorb the cost.
After he was done taking questions he allowed a line to form behind a table to do book signing. I waited my turn, even though I didn't have a book and wasn't planning on buying one. When I got up there I shook his hand and asked him if he was familiar with Free and Open Source Software, Linux, and the Creative Commons license. He seemed glad to answer. He told me that he has been providing logistic support for the movement since the beginning. His aid showed me a chapter in one of his books where he wrote about the problems that Microsoft and proprietary software cause technological stagnation. The chapter was only one page front and back. Ralph said that he does not have a computer, so I guess this is an issue he believes him, but is not very important to him on a personal level.
Overall I was very happy to get to meet Ralph Nader and listen to him talk. If he comes by again I will definitely make a point to see him again. I will not be voting for him this time, as I will either be voting for Obama, because I actually like him, or I will be voting for Hillary, but only as an affirmative action vote.