Well technically I leased it, but its still freakin awesome. For a long, long time I wanted a manual transmission 4 seater convertible. Of course, living in Ohio it's kinda pointless, but that's one of the great things about living down here now. I had been looking at the Chrysler Sebring Convertible for a while, but the only manual transmission they had was on a GTC version for like 2002-2004. Needless to say they are rare and rarer in good condition. But enter the Volkswagen Eos! Basically a replacement to the VW Cabrio, its essentially a hardtop convertible version of the Jetta. It's a 4 cyl, 200 hp turbocharged engine 6 speed manual and it looks really classy in black. I got both black exterior and interior. It's basically a two-seater but it's not terrible in the back.
So why get rid of the mighty Saturn? I didn't really want to, but I have to get Texas plates before the Ohio ones expired. To do that, I had to get the equivalent of an e-check so I took it to a shop and they told me it would cost more to fix than it was worth. Bummer. But as a last gift to me, the VW place gave me $3000 for it, far more than I was expecting. You just can't help but love the old saturns (pre-2001).
So today I'm supposed to pick it up at noon so we go and they don't have it yet. Also the 2 salesmen I worked with aren't there. Come back in an hour they say. So Alison and I go shopping and do some errands. We come back at 2. Oh it'll be done in a few moments! 40 minutes later...Oh it's just getting gassed up! 20 minutes later I'm mad and they let me go back to see it and finally send me to another guy to do the paperwork and get the keys. By the time I actually get behind the wheel it's rush hour and raining a lot, so I don't really get to have fun with it like I want. And hence the pics below aren't the greatest... It's T-storms all week here but Friday morning I should get the chance to take it out and have some fun and get some good pics.
Anyways, I really like the car so far. With the top up it's quiet and there's no leaks and it has a huge sunroof. Enough to make you forget the top is still up. The sound system sounds great. (I have an aux in instead of my ipod line-in but it still sounds good) The engine is way stronger than my old saturns, the clutch feels great, leather seats and steering wheel... I really like it so far.
It's about time for an overhaul of my blog site. I've had this domain for a few months since this is an update I've wanted to do for a while, but just like my actual posts I tend to put it off. I do feel bad since I enjoy writing on this site, so I've spent the last week making updates to make this site more enjoyable. So what's new at DarkMercury.net and why should you care?
Obviously the new design header at the top of the page, brings the site into the new century at least. (big thanks to jo for the transparent logo .gif)
Removal of the giant eclipse in the background.
The text area of the entries are allowed to extend much further to the right, making the site easier to read (since it doesnt overlap the picture anymore).
A lot of old entries lost their formatting and ended up as one huge paragraph. I had to manually go through and add br tags.
No more Dates at the top of each entry. Time and date are smaller at the bottom.
No more "Posted by Eclipse" since you know it's me.
Updated the top links. The DarkMercury.net logo is clickable to go back to the homepage.
I've joined twitter and have a feed from it on the left.
Updated the Meh and Featured pages.
The white links on the left remain there when looking at single entries and the news page.
Wider comment entry form.
Blue multiple entry seperators.
Some other smaller things like formatting that you can't see.
What is still left to do?
iPhone friendly links page (possibly iphone friendly blog site).
Gallery is semi-broken again since the move to the new site. Mostly the new albums.
Actually posting entries!
One of the best iphone features is the notepad so I can jot down ideas for writing and come back to them later. I think that combined with the twitter for quick updates will make it a little more interesting around here. Don't forget to update your links and RSS too.
Quakecon came and went quickly this year. The usual group had grown a bit. Tim brought down 8 people from Ohio to stay at my apartment. Luckily it was only for the first and last nights. They reserved a room at the Hilton Anatole for the majority of the event. It was nice to see Tim and we had fun driving in my car, but as always I wish more of my friends would come down.
This was the first year that I volunteered with Tim, Adam, March, and Matt. The day that is typically wasted standing in line I spent helping lay down cat5 cabling, crimping network cables (I suck at it) and doing check-in. It was a long day but it felt good to give back to the event a little. My main motivation however was the fact that I had no one to stand in line with this year.
Overall the convention was pretty good but it seems to be stalling a little bit. 2005 was a huge year that saw us kicked out of the Gaylord Texan for being rowdy. 2006 was "almost a year without Quakecon". With only a month or so advance notice and a significantly smaller BYOC, QC kind of returned to its roots so to speak. A lot of the big sponsors and shows such as hard ocp were missing, and to this day it is still hurting. 2007 and 2008 have grown since then, learning to maximize the hilton anatole's arena for maximum BYOC and sponsor area. 07 was fun because Will came down. 08 was a year by myself again.
Featuring Quake Live as the main event this year, I was disappointed at the lack of Quakewars! There were about 6 main servers, but it was hard to keep enough players in one. Hell this game was still beta during the last Quakecon! The problem in my opinion was bots in the servers. It's something that may turn into a rant in itself one day. Bots should not count as players in game servers! You would be playing the game like normal and all of a sudden you notice you are on a team of bots versus a team of humans. Umm...wonder who's gonna win that one? Of course no one wants to join your team to help because its full of stupid bots and you're going to lose. I played a little quakelive and it's fun and it's everything quake4 is supposed to be, but I spent most of my time in Quake 3 Arena servers. I played some really great players, even got into a 1v1 match which tied at one match each before he had to leave. The BYOC was its normal self, and is always great.
Quakecon's problem now is how stale the events are becoming. Yes there's the quickdraw tournaments. But this year you have to be present at the stage to play. No more "Price is Right" style announcements to the BYOC with a happy gamer running down the aisle. There's the "what would you do for a geforce" or whatever where they are shaving people's heads for video cards. Seen that, didn't think too much of it to begin with. There was more Guitar Hero/Rock Band than Quake featured at the closing ceremony. Todd Hollingshead didn't even know the quakelive player's handles in the finals. ATI's swag shirts were embarrassing. Ventrillo had a corvette they were giving away, but not everyone who attended got a chance to win it. Raffle tickets for the vette were given away as prizes for other shit. Of course I won nothing like every year but if I was to win anything in the world it would be a losing ticket for a vette. Congratulations you didn't actually win anything! Think about how many people could have gone home with a video card and a new love for ventrillo instead of the one guy who now gets raped by taxes on a new car that will cost so much to insure. People shaved their heads, legs, and did all sorts of crazy things just for a chance at that corvette and the person who ended up winning got the very last raffle ticket given away. They threw it in a shirt during the closing ceremony. How's that for randomness? I suppose it's technically no different than any other ticket but you have to think they didn't shuffle very well. And a sinus show by another other name...well i still wouldn't go.
What made this year good was that I got to spend quite a bit more time there and seeing my bro and adam and maybe even matt. I'm just surprised that I got so much time off work to be able to go. With '08 done, QC's 3 year deal with the anatole is expired and I hope they renew the deal because it's a nice location. As always, I would like to see more of my friends go next year. I think next year I'll spend a little more time on the suggestions forum too!
Hmm well I guess it's been a year so time for a PC post.
My desktop computer is being more picky than an old car these days...Before Quakecon 08 it needed a speed boost. Hmmm Athlon 64 3500+, 2gb ram, 256mb geforce 6800gts, aah probably need a new video card. It's great living close to both a micro center and fry's electronics. Micro Center is having a deal on Geforce 8800GT 512's so I pick one up and when I get home it looks like everything is great. Quakewars and Flight Sim X look great! Lots of detail in flight sim and...what's that sound? My airplane's propeller sound should be constant but it's stuttering like it's going to quit... But it's not the game. My entire computer seems to come to a halt for just an instant, but it's constant. Every single second, exactly once a second there is a little stutter. It's most noticeable in games where smoothness is key, but it's happening in windows too. The mouse stutters, music is interrupted, and by a few days I'm paralyzed with rage at this little tick my computer has developed. It's unusable! In safe mode without drivers it works fine, so I'm thinking it must be a software problem i.e. driver or resource conflict. I would remove everything but the barebones components of a computer (Proc, 1gb ram, vid card, mobo, 1 hard drive w/windows) and it would work! The stuttering was gone! I would begin to add things back into the computer to see where the conflict was and the stuttering would come back randomly.
Sometimes I would start it up, it would work and when I rebooted it stuttered again! And removing whatever it was wouldn't stop it until I took away everything. Other people online had reported similar problems with driver fixes. I tried new drivers, beta drivers, 3rd party drivers... And I was so sure it was a software problem since it worked in a barebone config and safe mode. Not having another desktop system (Alison has an iMac) I was finally to the point of shelling out another 200 bucks for a new video card to see if it was really a hardware problem. So I got a new one and it worked perfectly... I had a bad card all along. I returned the old one disguised as the new one and got my money back. Woohoo.
But that's not all! Just about a week ago my windows hard drive, the 200gb maxtor PATA drive (same drive) started clicking itself to death after a power outage so I went and bought a 350gb Western Digital SATA drive on the cheap to replace it. My computer wouldn't auto detect it and after a few hours of painful testing I decided that drive was bad too. A quick exchange at Fry's got me a Seagate 500gb for about 15 dollars more. Quality control is not up to par these days. Chinese products, gotta get rid of them. Anyways new drive works fine but reinstalling everything is a pain and there's some stuff on my old c: that I need to figure out how to access without it booting off that drive. I'll probably bring it to CLE in Oct and have Jo extract it to a flashdrive or something.
Also my Razer Copperhead laser mouse seems to be quitting on me. It will suddenly stop for a few moments. You'll hear windows drop it and redetect it. Sometimes it'll drop and that's all you get until a reboot. Why can't I just play my games? :( :(
On a more upbeat note, 50 bucks bought me a row of LEDs from ikea with some neat features and different colors. I laid them out behind my desk and they complement the blue light inside my computer pretty nicely. I can change the color depending on my desktop background or have them rotate colors automatically. Some pics and the one on the right is a 20mb video of it auto changing colors:
Changing topics away from my desktop, Alison and I were recently trying to get a nice flatscreen HDTV. And well...sorry schultz don't mean to steal your thunder but I know you know your stuff. So we ended up getting the same one, the Samsung LN40A550. It looks great, and well..you can't just get an HDTV and not get an HD player. Enter....the PS3
That's right, I have a console.
I got a Ps3 because it has blu ray. I guess I would have preferred the xbox360 since I could pay money to play online with friends despite being able to play with them for free on the computer. The fact that it plays games and acts as a decent media client is extra. I got gran turismo 5 and alison got harry potter. GT5 looks pretty good with the high res. There really aren't many good games for ps3. About half of them are sports games and the other half are GTA IV and Guitar Hero. Might get GH3 later though. Don't really have the money to grab a few games yet after the tv and ps3... I also don't want any games I'd rather play on the computer like FPS.
The unit itself is pretty nice. I got it used on craigslist with 2 wireless controllers, a bluetooth remote and hdmi cable. It's a 60gb model so it plays most ps2 games also, a big plus. I like the black and silver and it complements the TV nicely. It sits inside the TV stand we have and when it has been on for a while it will get hot and the fans turn on and it's pretty loud. We had to rearrange the living room to put the couch a lttle further away from the screen cause it would give us headaches, so the wireless is nice.
To get the media client stuff working, BobOmega pointed me to a program called tversity which is a streaming and transcoding service that runs on your PC and will stream video, music and photos over a LAN and even the internet. It also can connect my ps3 to steaming video such as Skynews and NASA TV. The best part is that it will reencode your divx, xvid etc files into a DLNA compatible format on the fly. So I don't have to reencode everything to get it to work. There are some downsides to it, such as the service can't run as an admin, only a local user. That means I have to log into my computer for tversity to start. I want to just be able to hit the power button, walk away and have the service run like file sharing. This way I could keep a password on my computer but people could still access media. The other downside is that tversity takes an itunes approach to content and builds a database of all videos and music. Now you can have a folder view only - and no streaming content, or you can use metadata to arrange everything and frankly who has the time for a beta program such as this. That's what you get for free I suppose. Ok some pics and then this post is finally over..
Today's rant is about MSNBC's Christopher Elliott.
Christopher Elliott, you have no idea how the airline business works. You need to sit down, shut up, and be happy your country has a transportation system as unregulated as ours is. Spreading your fear, uncertainty, and doubt will only further confuse our revenue passengers and ultimately leave them more confused and unhappy than they were before.
Unfortunately for us, someone even stupider than Christopher Elliott gave Christopher Elliott a job as a FUD writer and now we have to deal with shit like Dump This! 7 things airlines should jettison (Local Backup). In his article, which I shudder to call an article, he explains how the airlines are so stupid and if they only followed his advice, we could all be profitable and happy. Now in the aviation industry I am just a lowly pilot and nowhere near management, but I do have an inside look at what goes on and can easily tear through everything he has to say. Especially his bullshit headline: Why not remove the pilots to cut weight? That's hitting a little close to home there Christopher Elliott, but that's a bad idea no matter who you are.
Now I know you will say "Well Mike he's obviously using a little observational humor to deflate a source of copious amounts of stress" but there are people out there who believe this....trash, this...vomit from MSNBC Christopher Elliott. These people buy the cheapest tickets available from expedia.com or some shit, expect to be treated like gods, give themselves 15 min to connect to a different freaking airline on the other side of the airport, and even if they make it complain about how their bag didn't! No shit! A bag can't make it from through the baggage system at a hub in 15 minutes! Then they cry foul for years about a certain airline, turning all their friends away from it. I bet everyone reading this has that one airline that you just hate because something happened one time. Hell even I do, it's Lufthansa after they stranded us in Finland with no refunds. But you know what? It was because we bought a nonrefundable ticket off expedia.com and couldn't get back into russia to make the flight. You've got to listen people...listen to what the airlines are telling you and if you want options like refunds and transferability, you've got to pay. That's Capitalism. That's Deregulation for you. Your congress which you voted for made it this way in 1978. And the customer got much lower airfares while employees in the industry took a 66% paycut. Thanks a lot guys. But I'm going to approach the rest of this rant as if I were a paying customer. Like Christopher Elliott but with the common sense an infant would approach this subject with.
MSNBC's Christopher Elliott assumes that airlines are trying to ditch everything on an airplane in an effort to save weight. A lighter airplane requires less lift to fly, and reduces the thrust (fuel) required. Simple to understand I suppose. So why not just just get rid of the whole plane! Think about all the profit you could make selling tickets and then not actually having to take people anywhere! No flight crew, fuel, catering, ATC and landing fees to pay for.. The real answer is that if it's still on the plane, it's 1) making money or 2) required for safety. There is nothing on that plane not required for safety that doesn't make money, with one exception: the bathroom. Come on Christopher Elliott, I think you're kidding when you mention getting rid of anything more than one bathroom, but with your other suggestions I'm not so sure. People can't even make it from the terminal to the aircraft on the jetbridge without having to go. For what little is decent in humanity, let us keep our bathrooms. You mention getting rid of inflight magazines probably because they are poetry compared to your drivel. Truth is, American Way magazine has to sell enough advertising to make up its cost in fuel. It has to earn its way onboard. Maybe it even makes a small profit. Imagine that. Something onboard the aircraft yet still making money. Same goes for your "duty free" carts, or the alcohol. Just because you don't pay for anything above the minimalist fare doesn't mean first class shouldn't get what they pay for. And I've heard what they all say: "Well I would gladly pay more for better service" - BULLSHIT - EOS Airlines, all business class with that idea in mind and BANKRUPT. You had better service for more money in the 70's and you all bought the cheap tickets. And here we are. Pay for first class or don't complain.
Christopher Elliott doesn't understand safety either. To a passenger, safety is a given. All airlines are equally safe, right? The FAA makes it that way, right? What if we truely deregulated the airlines and took away the FAA? Bet you'd have your wish. I bet you 1000% that airlines would be flying around with one pilot and no other flight crew for that very reason. You'd have more issues like GoJets pilots falling asleep in the front. Or the Comair Lexington Crash taking off from the wrong runway. Two pilots up there is what keeps our system as safe as it is. We've already have our salaries slashed 50% at every bankruptcy crisis so that Christopher Elliott can fly for 99 dollars. And those airplanes are so sophisticated that they fly themselves...sure... The airplane I fly is older than I am, doesn't have GPS or a flight management system and has an autopilot with a minimum wage attitude, that is to say it doesn't like to work a lot. And some commercial airplanes still don't even have autopilots! Those that do can bring the airplane down to 100 feet above the ground. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want my pilot to let go at 100 feet. And even worse what happens when something goes wrong? An engine shreds itself or there's an electrical short and your precious autopilot stops flying? Just how much are those pilots up there worth now?
Christopher Elliott also thinks very highly of flight attendants. Obviously their only reason for being aboard is to serve you drinks. Of course the FAA requires one FA per 50 seats so it doesn't take too long to get your drink, right? The real reason is that they are there for your safety, to regulate the cabin so that the pilots don't have to. They assist in emergencies and undergo a lot of training. Most of their training you never have to see but I am glad to fly with them for everyone's sake.
It is hard to get people to pay more when inevitably the coach passengers arrive at the destination at the same time as first class does, so as long as there is even one company out there willing to give you a cheap ticket with no frills, the others have to match it or fly empty. It's like Rick's rant about cable. There is intense competition between companies, but the individual doesn't get a whole lot of say in the matter. When people buy their ticket based solely on the price of the ticket and nothing else, this is what you get. It's your free market. Put your money where your mouth is.
I've tried to stay with a weekly update similar to Rick's, but with my long posts these days I've exhausted a lot of the tech posts I've had in mind. Less than a month until aphelionsites.net expires, so I've got to get all the sites moved over. Obviously this is my new blog site, the dgs is backed up here at /dgs/ and my flight instructor wiki got moved over to ksuflightteam.net/cfi. The index page of merkur.aphelionsites.net now redirects to this site. Instead of making entries, I find it an acceptable alternative to work and improve different features of this site. Some updates are small, such as new icons for the apple and flying posts. Another little update inspired by my longer entries is clicking "comments" at the bottom takes you down the page directly to comments posted and the entry form.
Little cosmetic changes are nice and all, but where's the beef? Well for the major update made last week, click features at the top of the page. What you'll see is the original idea behind having a features page. Before it was just a few links w/entry titles. I didn't like this for many reasons. It was way too plain with no creativity. The only good thing about it, I could edit the entries and switch it from "weblog" to "featured" and it would automatically move itself over. Problem is when you went back through the history of the weblog, those posts were now missing. It interrupted the history and now has a much better integration with the site. The idea is, if you were coming to the website for the first time, and wanted to know what it's all about, you go to "Featured".
The second big update I did today, and involves the "Friends" page. From version 1.3 to 1.4.1, the friends page can now detect how long it's been since you posted via RSS. Now the friends page will color code people based on how long it's been since you posted. If it's been longer than 2 weeks, your name turns purple and the entry is hidden. There shouldn't be any time where I go longer than 2 weeks without checking it, so it's not like I'm not seeing your post, but I can only look at that guitar you're planning on buying for so long. Jo suggested a grey color if it's been longer than a year, which sadly, I may need. You get a light blue color if you posted today, dark blue up to two weeks after that, and purple for longer. Red means RSS error. Your site could be down or the script timed out, etc... I like it organized by name, but someday might change it to order of entry.
RSS is tricky to program around, because it's very flexible. For example, Livejournal doesn't require you to title your post so that field is sometimes missing. I use the title as a link to the post on its home site. So I have to have a backup idea which is to use the link itself as the title. The content:encoded tag which I discovered on schultz's site gives me problems too. Which do I use? Content:encoded or description? What if there is no date? What should the script output? What color does it use? All these things have to be thought of and still make the script small and fast. I'm pretty proud of the script. It uses magpie RSS to actually grab the entries, but the output and design is all mine. I don't think any other people actually use the page, but who knows.
So now all that's left to do is make entries....but that seems to be getting done too!
These days it's getting hard to tell the days that I work from the days I don't. I'm enjoying being on reserve, or "On Call" for an airplane Eagle doesn't fly anymore. I've gotten called into the airport once out of 6 or 7 days and it doesn't look probable for many more days. The way to tell my days off from my days on are that I can travel on my days off. I did just that on Saturday, traveling back to Cleveland for a LAN Party hosted by one of Jo's coworkers, Caleb (Not sure exactly what his handle is, ma shtie or something).
It was a fun time, a great minilan. Caleb provided bawls, hamburgers, and good amish sweet bread or something. It was pretty much pure sugar. The network had some small hiccups, but I got to play some good Quake 3, and UT2k4. I have to say I am not a UT fan when playing with all those mods. I think it was an RTS mod where you get experience points which can be traded in for powerups. The whole reason I play FPS instead of RTS is to avoid that. It's no fun to jump in a game and be pummeled by someone with a ton of points. Most FPS set everyone pretty much the same so it's a game of skill. The highlight of the day though was definitely ET:Quakewars. Finally! This game has been out for a while but no one wanted to play it with me, due to WoW and xboxes. It really doesn't take too much to run, I was playing decently on my macbook pro. Being the only person who really knew the maps and gameplay, I took the role of the leader as a medic. I didn't think it would be fun for everyone else if I just ran through the levels completing the objectives myself. I shouted out what needed to be done, what classes were needed and where, revived teammates, and showed how all the different classes worked. I think everyone enjoyed that. We ended up playing pretty late into the night. I want to keep it up, but no one else has actually bought the game, so we can't play online. It was good to see Jo and Tim, and wish Dan would have stopped by. The party broke up about 1am eastern.
Crashed for about 4 hours on Jo's couch, before waking back up to jumpseat back to Dallas. Big thanks to Jo for picking me up, dropping me off, and letting me stay at his place even with work in the morning. The flight out of CLE was delayed by a flap issue or something. The captain boarded and we sat on the plane for 90 minutes before finally departing. I don't think there's been a cloud in the sky since Ike rolled through, but it was raining monday. I had planned to go to the "Big Tex" Texas State Fair with Alison, but it was looking like we couldn't go. By the time I got home though, the rain was clearing up, and although there were some short showers, we did go to the fair and had a pretty good time. The fair was pretty much a game of "how much $ can we take from you before you start to notice". After paying $14 for admission and $10 for parking, you had to buy a bunch of tickets to do anything. We walked around the free stuff, shops, and the auto show was pretty nice (one of few free things there). The food is always really popular there, even though it's not good for you at all! I got a turkey leg and a fried snickers bar. We walked everywhere to find that one place with the fried snickers bar, and it was something else, that's for sure! Very hard to describe, and it was good..but not really $4 good.. Alison and I both agreed just a normal snickers would have been better and cheaper. But by all means you should try one if you get the chance. It's not bad. We didn't want to ride a lot of the spinny fair rides since that's where you hear about people getting killed on in the news, but we rode on the big ferris wheel and the carousel. The wheel was $6 each and the carousel was $3, and most of the rides were 2-4 bucks. I didn't really like that approach, although I guess we saved money compared to an amusement park. I don't want it so seem like I didn't have fun either because I had a lot of fun and it's great to hang out with Alison. We have our routines and stuff we do together a lot, but this was special :D
Tuesday I spent working on my website again on the friends page. From 1.4.2 to 1.5, this is a very big change, although it doesn't look like anything changed from the initial look. It's largely a backend change where instead of copying the code several times and editing it for each person, I created a multidimensional array of friends and their website data, and I run a loop of the same code until it runs out of people. This means one day I should be able to sort by post date instead of person if I choose, and it's far easier to edit overall. Also, and this is a big one: You can now control the image on the friends page yourself! RSS feeds can contain a link to an image if you set one, and my page will use whatever you select. If none is set in the feed, it defaults to an image saved on my site. LJ uses your default pic I believe.. Anyways if you're not sure if the image is yours or mine, click "History" and see if it displays a pic in the title. If it does, that's the pic I'm also using on the friends page. So now if you don't like the pic there you have nothing to complain about. The last thing is that "Tweets for Today" doesn't light up, you actually have to write something constructive.
I promise this will be the end since there isn't much else I can do to the friends page. But I finally achieved what I set out to do in 2005 when I created the friends page. Starting from a set of rss links, the friends page achieves what Livejournal does by listing posts made by your friends in the order in which they were posted. LJ accomplishes this by storing posts on its server which it can read in order, but it's a bit of a feat to do it from nothing but a few rss links. I give you unlimited entries up until a week. If you haven't posted in more than a week, your last entry is truncated at the bottom in purple. It's all displayed in order by post date and it's awesome.
The page works through with the basic logic:
Define friends array with rss links, names, homepage
For each friend in the array, find all the posts in the last week -> each post is added to separate "posts" array
Sort that array of posts by date
Print the sorted array of posts
Sorting the array was the big problem solved today. Starting with the initial friends array in version 1.5 really did make this possible after all. It's easy to add/remove friends and the script handles everything! Of course there is a lot of error handling there too since RSS feeds are very flexible. Since you've probably already read about everything already I'll stop posting about it now. If anyone cares to to see the different versions of the site as it evolved:
0.9 - 1st edition, loading of first RSS post from each user 1.0 - Error handling if RSS feed not found, page went live, cosmetic changes 1.1 - Added History feature 1.2 - First Color support = red table if rss error, title moved to blue area of table 1.3 - Support for ['Content']['Encoded'] in place of description 1.4.2 - Script detects post age, homepage link changed to username, script assigns table color based on age, hides 2 week old entries, removed table border, changed default charset to UTF-8 to fix '?' issue, added leftmenu 1.5 - Friends Array added, rss image support w/failsafe 2.0 - Friends Sort by post date 2.1 - Multiple posts by one author, 4 posts by friends up to two weeks
It feels good to be home now! I've actually been busy since my last update. I went to Ohio from the 13-15th to see people since I haven't been working a lot. I got in later than I wanted on Monday but no one could give me a ride earlier. Had dinner with my mom that night and later went to Jo's. I spent Tuesday out at the KSU airport. It was Kent's turn to host the regional flight competition. I hoped to help judge but they had enough already so I mostly just talked to people I hadn't seen in a while. It was great to see the planes and everyone since I spent just about every day from 2004 to 2007 at that airport it's kind of weird to be away from it now. Had dinner with Tim and my dad and then went to Tim's apartment to play some Quakewars.
Tim (Alkali) and I are pretty good at Quakewars together, and it would be awesome if more people would play with us. We stick together, usually with me as an Engineer and Tim a medic. I sometimes change my class depending on the objective, but typically it's my job to complete the mission and tim's job to revive me when I get shot. I prefer offense and Tim likes defense, but we usually just play on the Strogg (Alien) side. We played for about 2 hours. In one mission we were on the human team and it was our job to construct a generator underground. It's a good map that requires teamwork by the GDF (humans) to get into the highly defended area. If people just rush in randomly you will get mowed down or set off a mine. The strogg side was putting up a strong fight and we were getting pissed off so I came up with a strategy. I waited for some teammates to run in before me to take the fire, then I jumped in onto the generator, setting off the mines and dying. Then tim jumps in behind me to revive me and we got the generator built. After that we were able to rush the map before they could get a solid defense up. I had a good airstrike at a critical time to finish the map too, but it was our classic revive strategy that won the map. I always wish more people would get the game before like Wolf:ET, some people are just too good.
I've got enough website news to warrant its own post I think. I'll talk about this stuff first so the post will sink to the bottom.
Well the big news is aphelionsites.net, my former webdomain expired, as planned. Not too big of a deal since I don't use it much. What this means is some hotlinked images might not show up. I tried to look through my history and correct these errors, but some may still exist. The DGS site was the only website still using the domain, so that's been moved to http://www.darkmercury.net/dgs. If you can't or don't want to remember that you can find the link in my featured section. While I was messing with that I also embedded the quakecon video into the related DGS and DarkMercury pages, so it can be watched without downloading the whole thing.
Next up is the "Categories" selection at the top left of the site. You can click there or on the category image to a page showing all my website categories. From there, click on any you want to read about.. say Flying posts.. and voila! You're now seeing only Flying related website entries. That's pretty neat. A simple feature but long missing.
And the Friends page update...Every time I post I say it's the last time I'm gonna change it. It's kind of ended up full circle. The old versions showed only one post, but you got to see what was going on in all my friend's lives at a glance. If someone posted multiple times quickly, I wouldn't see any but the latest post. I was overjoyed to prove the concept of creating a Livejournal emulation from just RSS links, but that led to a lot of posts from one or two people at the top and everyone else lost at the bottom. I changed it to unlimited posts for 24 hours (so I wont miss any) and after that it just shows your latest entry. All sorted by date of post and I think I like it this way. It's kinda come back to where it was before. I also chopped the time off the post, leaving just the date. It looks cleaner. Anyways I'll see how I like it this way. I still have my LJ style proof of concept at http://www.darkmercury.net/friendsunlimited.php.
News Page opens links in a new window by default now...I removed the comment word bubbles that I was experimenting with this morning. I think that's it.
The subject of today's rant is my old D-Link DSL-2320B modem/router. It's hard to hate something that you bought for only $10 off craigslist, but this thing drove me crazy for months. It wasn't broken equipment, DLink just made sure to cripple it for who knows why. Oh sure, on the outside it looks like a very standard piece of equipment. It's got a port for the phone line, an ethernet port, usb, reset switch etc... But to be honest this piece of junk would have worked better if it was an empty box.
I run a very standard internet setup in my apartment. There is no cable internet service, so we have DSL through Grande Communications in Texas. Despite charging us for premium service and only providing basic internet bandwith since January (now resolved), I've been pretty satisfied with their service. So I need a DSL modem which plugs into my apple airport extreme router (I know, apple what a surprise, right? Well it has a USB port I can plug our printer into so I dont need a print server). My desktop plugs into the router via cat5, all other computers/ps3 are wireless N. Giggity. What I look for in a DSL modem is simplicity. Like UNIX, do one thing and do it well. Seems like DLink's strategy is to attempt to do many things, but utterly fail at everything. Come on D-Link! It's not a complex mission I bought you for:
1:) Connect router to Grande network
Because I'm a hacker like yash, I decompiled the source code to the modem which is ironically written in basic:
10 Assign 192.168.1.1 to self
20 Connect to grande
30 Assign WAN IP to everything
40 COMPLETELY FUCK UP DHCP
50 Disconnect from Grande
60 Goto 10
This modem refuses to play nice with the most standard router setups. My old modem before it broke had a DHCP server - that's fine with me, I put the router in bridge mode and the dsl modem gives my computers IP addresses and interwebs. Not my preferred way, but it works. It croaked, hence me getting DLINK SPAWN OF SATAN off craigslist. DLINK also assigns itself 192.168.1.1 but won't give connected computers internal LAN IPs. It tries to give every computer connected the WAN IP and it fucks up. The only way I got it to work was basically double NAT, the router assigning DHCP fighting with DLINK on another subnet. Ugh squared.
But that's not even the worst part! The absolutely useless web interface gave me no info other than WAN IP and the fact that itself was 1.1. After installing the modem for the first time Alison and I found we couldn't reach certain websites like yahoo and my work website. A little google digging revealed that the MTU, or Max Transmission Unit was to blame. Basically when you transfer info over the internet the info is broken into little pieces called packets and the MTU is the largest size in bytes each packet can be. For ethernet/cable internet the MTU is 1500 bytes, which computers use standard. For DSL connections, depending on your provider, it is 1492 bytes. Normally your DSL modem will tell your computer you're connected with an MTU of 1492, but not DLINK, no way... That's way too helpful. You would think a DSL Modem would connect at a DSL MTU. There's no setting, nowhere on the unit where you can connect at an MTU of 1492. DLINK thinks it's easier and more obvious to dig through the registry to change it on your computer itself. Windows is nicer about it, and stores the registry key, but on OSX (3 out of 4 computers in my apt.) you have to change the MTU manually, via the console, every single time you reboot. Good riddance...goodbye DLINK I won't miss you.
Jo gave me his old Motorola Netopia 2210 DSL modem when I was last in OH and yesterday I replaced Satanlink with it. It's more of a dumb modem where I can have the router store the connection info and just use the box to dial out over PPPoE. Exactly what I was looking for. Easy, fast, stable. Do one thing and do it well. Thank you Jo.
Okay, I will never pick up on WoW no matter how often everyone else posts about it. But everyone has such a good time playing and talking about Guitar Hero / Rock Band, I figured it was worth a look. After all, I did enjoy DDR a lot, and I was good at it without taking too long to get good at it. With the recent release of Guitar Hero 4, I was able to pick up the game and two Les Paul Controllers for about $75. GH3 is a welcome addition to my PS3 game collection which is growing very slowly on account of available moneys and lack of games.
God what a hopeless idiot I am for not knowing GH3 and Rock Band are not the same companies anymore, right? I guess there is a lot of drama between red octane and harmonix and activision, but oh well. This game was cheap, I have two guitars for it so I can play with Alison, and I'm enjoying the game. A recent update to the PS3 will allow my controllers to work with rock band should I decide to get it anyways. After about a week I am around the hard-medium-to-easy-hard stage. I can beat the normal tracks in medium with about 95% notes hit, and I can play one or two hard songs, but difficult songs mess me up on medium and I'm trying to play the harder songs to get my note recognition faster before really moving on. Overall I like the game and how it is similar to DDR, but what annoyed me is the career mode. I don't really care to battle guitars. I don't care about winning money or custom characters. I don't want to fight to unlock songs. And I want to play co-op with Alison which forced us through another career mode but oh well. I just want to play a guitar, play any of the songs I want to, and be a rock hero wooo! Pretty much immediately I was putting in the cheat code to unlock all songs, and much prefer it this way. I don't know a lot of the songs but they are fun to play. Has anyone played the new one? What tips are there for stepping up from medium to hard?
Doh! Forgot to mention my favorite song: Paint It, Black by The Rolling Stones in 1966. I can't believe it's that old of a song.
Found this on the KSU newspaper website, a nice video about KSU’s first place finish in october. The first guy interviewed was my student for about 6 months who I helped get his commercial certificate. The second is a student I flew some multi time with too. Both great guys and current instructors themselves now.
Lately I've been going to Los Angeles for work, but recently Alison and I decided to go for fun and to visit my grandma on the 11th-14th. We took advantage of benefits from both our jobs, tried to keep the cost down, and still have a lot of fun.
If you have benefits, use them! It's part of your salary and if you are not using them it's almost as if you're agreeing to work for them for less. We started our trip using my travel benefits, of course. Alison and I can travel together almost anywhere in the world for almost free. Starting 2009 I can get other people reduced fares but you will have to travel low-priority standby. Anyways we were lucky enough to score two first class tickets for the 3 hour flight to LAX. This was the first time I had ever gone first class, and it was quite impressive! The seats were very comfortable and reclined fully. We had breakfast served, drinks served in an actual glass, pillows, blankets, great service, etc.. It was amazing. I felt very out of place as the only one there without a Wall Street Journal newspaper.
Once we got to LA, it was Alison's turn. She works here in Dallas at the Hyatt Regency as a cook if you didn't know. She booked the Hyatt Century Plaza using her benefits, and they bumped us up to....the penthouse floor! They were so nice and courteous there, I couldn't believe it. I go to a lot of hotels when flying and this was a super nice place. They gave us free room and 50% off the restaurant. So we enjoyed a very nice fillet dinner there. We are trying to save money for a sofa bed in the living room, but it's been a while since we dressed up and went to a fancy restaurant. And for 50% off you just can't beat it.
The free hotel was great, but it wasn't terribly close to Arcadia, CA; an LA suburb. So we had to take a bus to go to the metro station and ride to the end of the line where we could get picked up by my grandma. All in all the trip to Arcadia took about 2 hours each way. It was great to see my grandma and I know she can't drive all the way out to where we were staying, but 4 hours commuting a day really took it out on us. We tried to take a taxi instead of the bus one way, but it didn't save more than 10 min and cost us three times as much to get there (then having to pay metro fare anyways for the train).
The day before we left, the 13th we had to ourselves. We contemplated going to disneyland and universal studios but they are soo expensive. We ended up sightseeing and visiting a cool farmer's market with some really great food. We got cheesecake and eclairs for treats and it was awesome to have something more homemade and not mass produced. Walked around downtown after that, and we visited Hollywood too. It is not the glamorous place it seems. We spent the last evening in Santa Monica at the beach watching the sunset and just being together. It was the best part of the trip for me.
When travelling standby you need to give yourself as many chances to get home as possible, since you only get a seat if there are any left over. So we got to LAX for the first flight out, at 6:00am. Luckily for us we got on the plane, even first class again for the flight home! Now I'm going to be spoiled forever... All in all, a great time.
Welcome to the 4th edition of my website. This version is based on my twitter page and powered by Expression Engine. EE is the successor to PMachine, which powered my old site. I know I just did an update to my site in August so you’re probably thinking, why another major update so soon? Well, the short answer is that I have plenty of time these days. I’ve been running the same old pmachine website for over 5 years and had the color scheme for a year before that. So sometimes you just feel like a refresh is in order. While the August update was an evolution, this update is a revolution. It is hopefully the answer to many problems I have come across in the last 5 years with the old site. Rick was talking about drupal limitations when I offered up Expression Engine as an alternative CMS to both Drupal and Wordpress. I think at one point EE cost money for all but a demo, but these days you can download the core version of the site for free as long as you don’t use it for commercial use. I had a default installation on my site but hadn’t touched it in months. Well about a week ago I went back and reinstalled with the latest version and set out to see what the successor to pmachine could do for me.
Importing my posts from Pmachine was the most important and also the easiest thing to do. While I’m sure tools exist to import wordpress, moveable type, ets blogs, the pmachine convert utility was built right in and easy. From there I had to modify a template for a good design and usability. Thanks go out to Jo, Rick, and Alison for design feedback, ideas, and tips.
A severe limitation of my pmachine site was that each post could only be put in one category. EE allows me to put posts in multiple categories and is one of the biggest reasons I stuck with the upgrade. EE seems a lot more flexible than pmachine too. On the old site the menu on the left kept getting shorter and shorter. I liked the collapsible sections on the side, but to keep them across all the other pages I had to use a function that prevented me from showing posts by months and other tasty features, so the new install gives me that capability.
I’m pleased with how well my friends and news pages integrated with the new site as well. I stopped using colors for consistency. Each entry on the friends page looks very similar to a post if I made it, except it will have your RSS image in place of my categories, the title is clickable, and a link to your site is at the bottom. Once again if you don’t set your RSS icon, it will default to one I pick for you. If you want help changing it ask me, its quite easy. Last time I’m talking about that.
My pages that load in an iframe, such as my calendar and gallery are a little quirky but usable. There was some sort of permission error with my old gallery so I reinstalled from scratch. Pics will go up as I have time.
If you want, the old site is available at http://www.darkmercury.net/3.0/
I’m looking at getting even older backups of my site archived with the help of Jo sometime. Guess that’s all for now
In one of his latest epic travesties as a columnist, Christopher Elliot (yes the same guy as before) has the nerve to tell me (by definition part of the air travel industry) that I am un-American. I’m glad the first word he wrote, in all caps in red text is OPINION. Well here’s my opinion, Christopher Elliot: You are not a columnist, you are a script kiddie who takes cheap shots at the airline industry because it’s the cool and hip thing to do. Is your next column going to feature “What’s the deal with airline food? Have you heard this one?”. So when you call me a flying traitor, forgive me if I don’t think you have much credibility. Obviously by the points you make, you don’t try to learn any history about air travel; just keep insisting that we should give you royalty status for free and maybe someday it’ll happen.
What’s so fair about flying? EVERYTHING. As you yourself say, “Everyone on a commercial air carrier — from the triple-titanium elite flier to the prisoner shackled to the back row of economy class — shares a plane”. And as you’ve probably pointed out before in another post, all those people have paid a different amount to be there. You can buy a Lexus or a Pinto and both will get you from A to B, but you pay more for the comfort. So if you think it’s not fair that you’re squished in the back, put up the money and you’ll be riding in style up front just like the real media journalists. You say you don’t have a problem with the pay-more-get-more model, but then completely reverse yourself with your next statement, “It’s the idea that the good people sitting in steerage class asked for less — or even deserve less ” Of course you deserve less! You didn’t pay for first class! Your options are: More money for more service, or Less money for less service. And throughout the years customers have always demonstrated that they would rather have less service and pay less. They show this by buying the cheap tickets. It’s why Southwest and RyanAir are doing so well. People ask for that level of service by choosing that airline, by using their dollars. If you want service to change, you’re going to have to ask people to pay for it. But you’re not going to be able to do that, are you?
“This is how I see it: On the one hand, airlines have added perks for their best customers. For example, American Airlines earlier this fall introduced priority check-in, priority screening lanes and special boarding lanes for its best passengers, following the lead of several other big airlines. Maybe you’d expect that from a legacy carrier like American. But when Southwest Airlines followed suit a few days later and added priority security lanes for its frequent fliers, it prompted my colleague Janice Hough to invoke George Orwell’s classic “Animal Farm” and conclude that some passengers were more equal than others on a one-class airline like Southwest. I’m inclined to agree”
Some people are willing to pay more. They get the service they pay for. That is the essence of capitalism, the American Free Market, and you call us traitors and un-American? You’d prefer a system where everyone is treated the same for the same price? COMMUNIST
“Many travelers use highly addictive frequent flier miles to pay for upgrades. Airline loyalty programs, as everyone who reads this column already knows, is the greatest fraud perpetrated on the traveling public. Ever.”
Plz explain. You must have evidence for this claim. Should people not be rewarded for loyalty? They’ve paid more into the airline through their loyalty and I have no problem rewarding those who do.
“There’s good news for these coddled airline passengers who disagree with my perfectly reasonable arguments. There is no shortage of bloggers, journalists and airline experts who sincerely believe it’s your right to be treated like royalty when you fly while the masses behind the curtain suffer unspeakable indignities. Why not read their puff pieces instead of my column?”
Believe me I wish I could. But someone must stand for truth.
Oh Christopher Elliot you should have stopped while you were ahe- well while you were less behind. Let’s take a look at the three “violations” of your rights. First you lead with: “You have the right to sit down and shut up “, explaining that there’s no freedom of press in the air. Well after your article I wish there was no freedom of press down here too! Put you behind bars for your baseless drivel you call an article. Anyways, in many cases it has been shown that while you have rights to assemble, freedom of speech and press, you can’t do it on my property without my permission. That’s right! An airplane isn’t public property! You don’t own it! You don’t pay for it with your taxes! It’s private property and therefore buy purchasing the ticket, by boarding the airplane, you are agreeing to that airline’s contract of carriage which may state that you can’t film on board the plane. If you don’t like it, fly another airline. No one has forced you to fly on this plane! You boarded of your own free will!
Your laptop — and the data on it — is ours
Oh rip on the TSA for bonus points, as much as everyone hates the airlines, we all hate security even more, right? Score some more points with your target audience: idiots. But here’s the kicker: the TSA is a government agency (separate from a commercial airline by the way), which means that you (through your elected officials) made it this way! So if you want something done about it, have your elected officials do something about it. Or vote them out. Also, “Airlines want to block certain Web sites that contain objectionable material.” I assume you’re talking about wireless internet service starting to appear on airlines. Of course they have to put a filter on the internet or people will spend the flight looking at pr0n! So on the one hand the airlines have Christopher Elliot saying “Oh I should be allowed to use your private network as I see fit” and on the other hand they have whiny mothers saying “Wont someone PLEASE think of the children”. As always, no way out for airlines. But the fact that your blog was blocked means something is working right.
“It’s only a matter of time before airports start barring access sites with content they disagree with”
YOU’VE GOT A LOT TO WORRY ABOUT HERE CHRISTOPHER ELLIOT!!! Always fighting against that liberal hippie airport agenda!
And the last abomination you spout out is that “They wouldn’t even treat animals like this” and how “prisoners of war are often treated better than airline passengers.” Yeah right. Give someone who’s been in Guantanamo Bay for 7 years the jump at a commercial flight. Maybe you can take his place in jail without being accused of a crime. You’d both be happy, and I would be happy. Everyone wins! “The Federal Aviation Administration has strict guidelines about the transportation of live animals but is strangely quiet when it comes to the comfort of human passengers.” Christopher Elliot, I’d be happy to let you ride in the cargo compartment if the FAA said I could! I’d even let you smoke back there but don’t set off the fire alarm or I’ll fire those halon bottles and force all the oxygen out! Or maybe you’d like to be crammed under the seat instead of sitting on it. I think you’d be happy for the room coach gives you when that happens.
“But there ought to be minimum standards set by the government that require air carriers to treat their customers better than cargo.”
Christopher Elliot, I know you think ripping on the airlines is a great way for you to cheat your way into becoming a legitimate columnist. You can spread all the lies and deception you want with no responsibility because you wrote “Opinion” at the top! But I stand for something: The truth! And I won’t let your horrible words go by unnoticed.
This was originally going to be a reply to Adam’s post titled The sky is falling and Congress doesn’t see it., but it grew way too big. Before the election he was on board with the socialism buzz word and I asked him if he really thought people were going to just stop working and mooch off the system. I asked if we had the moral responsibility to protect people. No one likes seeing people live for free while others struggle.
Adam says the United Auto Workers of America must be to blame for ongoing talks of auto industry bailouts. That everyone just wants them to go bankrupt, “reduce cost” by lowering wages and wipe the slate clean. Obviously the union is fighting it - that’s what unions do. Remember that no unionized company/industry was created that way.
You can’t speak so callously of union workers refusing to give up their wages for the good of the company! These workers are the ones who go into work every day and on weekends. They don’t get to chose the cars they make, SUV or hybrid, etc.. But they will be the ones to bear the failures of their management. They will be the ones not able to pay their mortgages, loans, and living on unemployment and welfare. The very people Adam himself said we have a responsibility to help.
Take a lesson from the airline industry. In September of 2001 all of a sudden people stopped flying. Airlines had to pay salary without any income. Pretty similar situation to today. All the legacies went into bankruptcy except American. Thanks to our lovely bankruptcy laws, airlines were able to throw pilot contracts into the garbage. American pilots gave up 1.6 billion in salary, benefits, and pensions…so same thing, put 2000 of their own pilots on the street. Pilots are skilled workers just like the UAW, and it wasn’t the pilots that made people stop flying. But the pilots and the other “lower class” employees took the brunt.
Several years later the airlines are just starting to turn around again, and how has American given back to those employees who gave up their future, their kids futures (everyone loves the little emotional burst you get by mentioning kids), those who gave up their livelihood so management could keep trying? By giving $21 million in bonuses to top level executives! By giving the CEO a $6,600,000 bonus on top of his $581,000 salary for a total of $7,181,000 not including stock. Other airlines are all the same. Pilot salaries are down 66% since 1978 while these executives hand out pat on the backs to themselves. So forgive me for not having any sympathy.
What will happen if we bailout the auto industry? I want to say let them fail but bankruptcy will just do to them what it did to the airlines. The executives responsible will just lower the pay of the workers to cut costs and then it’s business as usual again. What we need is some way to hold those accountable…accountable.
Again a look at history proves this isn’t the first time we’ve bailed out Chrysler anyways. In 1979 we bailed them out for $1.5 billion dollars. There were many strings attached just as there should be many strings attached now. But the point is, they paid it back!
“Under the leadership of Lee Iacocca, Chrysler doubled its corporate average miles-per-gallon (CAFE). In 1978, Chrysler introduced the first domestically produced front-wheel drive small cars: the Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon. In 1983, Chrysler paid off the loans that had been guaranteed by US taxpayers. The Treasury was also $350 million richer. “
I’m not an economist or even that good at money stuff, but I do know that this stuff is all connected. Demand is down because people cant afford to buy things because we’re all scared we are losing our homes. Probably wouldn’t be half as bad without the media telling us how we should feel, but we are officially in a recession, so demand is down. Prices will fall until everything evens out, and then values will grow again. It stands to reason that the government can make interest off the bailouts just as it did with Chrysler.
American cars suck. They all look the same. I just recently bought a German car, after shopping around. American cars, don’t care which brand, are all big, gas guzzling, square-looking bricks. Gas prices have been rising for years and they failed to deliver higher mpg vehicles. It’s management’s fault, not the union. So I say bailout the auto workers, not management. Give the money to the company, but not to the executives.
By “Spreading the wealth”, Obama didn’t mean stealing your money from your bank and giving it to poor people. He meant rebuilding the middle class. Let the CEOs live with their failures, kick them out and let those who actually work get the pay! Congress should be scared shitless! They should get what’s coming to them!
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds, and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless falls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor e’er eagle flew-
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high, untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
Eclipse: you know after 3 months even the internet gets boring krhainos: does the internet include youtube? Eclipse: yes krhainos: you mean ... you've ... you've watched all of youtube? Eclipse: yes Eclipse: ive finished the internet Eclipse: its long krhainos: don't spoil the ending krhainos: i haven't gotten there yet Eclipse: i wont Eclipse: but it is epic krhainos: does gaeta make out with hoshi? Eclipse: like i said, i wont ruin it Eclipse: but thats the start of the last chapter krhainos: OH NO I'M NEAR THE END OF THE INTERNET? krhainos: but it's so good, i don't want it to end Eclipse: they leave it open for a sequel krhainos: what's after the internet? Eclipse: internet2
I made a few changes around the site. If I spent half the time making actual posts that I spend instead worrying about tiny little issues, I would have several epic novels already. Well it’s easier to play with the site now than when I start working again soon. My little change involves the archives. My old site didn’t put much work into the archives, or “history” as it was called. It pretty much generated a huge list of post titles that you could click to take you to the entry. That’s great if I have a good descriptive title, which is maybe 20% of the time. Your other option was to simply keep clicking “Older Entries” at the bottom of each page and read through my life backwards. It’s a little confusing to read everything in reverse, but reverse chronological order is the best and standard way of promoting new content so that’s how it is. You’ll see my new History section on the right of all my pages by year. It takes you to January of each year and reads in chronological order, different than before. Reads a little better this way. Yearly seems to work for now, but I may change it to chapters like: “whiny freshman in college”, “internship”, “flight instructor”, “eagle first officer” if I want. Who knows…
The other change is pretty big and affects, you guessed it, the friends page. Yes, I still mess around with it a lot even though I haven’t made any major changes for a long while. The page was working great, looked great, and I even installed a filter to stop Jo’s Tweets for Today (which he stopped after I mentioned it), but one problem still remained: Without the cache, it took a long time to load. Sometimes over 60 seconds just for the server to generate the page. It had to connect to each friends’ site and download the feed. That’s what takes the longest. It does apply logic and runs through algorithms to generate the final page but that’s milliseconds. My solution involved emailing the folks at site5.com, my service hosts, and getting permission to use wget on the server. I can now run a cron job that downloads my friends page once an hour and stores that page for the user. So now when you click friends you’re grabbing a cached html file instead of running the php script and it loads significantly faster. So even if it still takes 30 seconds for the php script to run its deal, who cares because it’s not the page you’re downloading anymore.
I’m mad because I already had this post typed out and firefox ate it. I guess I didn’t quite have the text box highlighted and I hit backspace which killed the lengthy post. Anyways, Christmas was good this year. I spent it in Dallas with Alison, and my mom and Tim flew down on the 23rd. It was a good year for giving gifts that people didn’t expect. I didn’t ask anyone what they wanted for christmas and did a good job I think. I got Alison a bluetooth mighty mouse for her iMac, and a music stand she had mentioned she needed. I like to listen to her play her flute and anything I can do to get her to play more is good. For my dad, I got him a digital picture frame since he likes electronic toys to play with. My mom was happy with her gift; a USB phonograph that she can use to convert her old vinyl records to mp3 and burn them on CD or put on her ipod. She was very happy with it. I stumbled across it at Macy’s while Alison shopped for something else. Probably would have never thought of it had I done all my shopping online (*nudge rick*). And for Tim, I got him a Fry’s gift card to force him out of my computer room and away from world of warcraft and come hang out with me for the day.
It was a very big year for me in terms of my video and games collection… I got the Die Hard trilogy, Austin Powers Spy who shagged me, Bladerunner, Blades of glory, Star trek 3, Tommy Boy, When we left earth on blurray, and Mirrors Edge and Lego Batman for the PS3. I also got a charging station for my ps3 controllers, a digital pic frame of my own, a Logitech G5 mouse, and a nice watch.
It was nice having them over for the week. It was the first time my mom’s been to Dallas. We went to the JFK museum, and had an okay time braving crowds for shopping. Alison and my mom and even me (but mostly alison) made a great turkey dinner and cookies and pies and we’ll be eating well for a while. I’m glad they came over. Looking forward to starting ATR training on the 5th of January.