Life Changes (Part 2)

Posted in General on December 15th, 2008 by p14nd4

In case you’re just joining us, this post is a continuation of my first attempt to bring my blog up to date since my previous update left off in September, 2006 (about two years ago). I had to give up around 3 AM, and that only brought me through February, 2007 (five months), so I’ve still got a way to go. To pick up where I left off last night, I was explaining at the end of my post:

And at the very end of the month [Feb ’07], I apparently bit the bullet and bought the airplane tickets and hotel reservation for the vacation to Los Angeles, CA we planned for March.

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Life Changes

Posted in General on October 16th, 2008 by p14nd4

Wow … so I guess a lot has happened since the last time I wrote a personal entry in here. I could only begin to describe how daunting the task of trying to cover everything that’s happened since then is, and more than likely, I’m going to end up writing pages and pages of mundane details, while still managing to overlook major events. Such is the life of an infrequent blogger, though. As always, I feel somehow compelled to give a disclaimer at the beginning of my post: this is boring. You don’t want to read it. I write way too much, and you really don’t care enough to waste the next 15 (?) minutes of your life reading about my uninteresting one. Get out now, while you’re still ahead.

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VMware Server Hangs on ‘Mount ISO’ Browsing smbmount

Posted in Technical on March 24th, 2008 by p14nd4

Hahaha. So I’ll try to keep this brief, but I just wanted to post the problem I recently found with VMware Server (1.0.4, 1.0.5) on linux (perhaps others), and what I eventually found to be the cause and workaround.

Problem

Running VMware server on linux, I edit virtual machine settings, open the CD-ROM device, select Use ISO image, and Browse. I navigate to my smbmount (actually a cifs mount line in my /etc/fstab), and VMware hangs for about three or four minutes before displaying the contents of the directory. The following lines are written to /var/log/syslog:

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Ridiculous Account Requirements on SprintPCS.com

Posted in General, Technical on March 5th, 2008 by p14nd4

This is a break from my regular vein of [not] posting, but I’m livid enough that I need to write this. I’ve had SprintPCS cell phone service since 2003, and have been generally pleased with the service. It’s all subjective, of course, but I haven’t had real issues with dropped calls, and their data services (1xrtt, evdo) have been quite good to me. I log in to their web site regularly to check my account, pay bills etc, and it’s worked perfectly for the past several years. Apparently that was unsatisfactory for Sprint.

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Affiliate Summit West 2008 (part 1)

Posted in General, TechwareLabs, Travel on March 4th, 2008 by p14nd4

I got back less than 24 hours ago from the 2008 Affiliate Summit (West) in Las Vegas, NV, which I attended for the company I co-founded in 2001, TechwareLabs.com. Aside from being very tired every night after much more walking and standing than I’m used to, I was very pleased with the conference overall, and am optimistic about the upcoming months for my site. (I also happen to be pretty exhausted today, since my flight landed around 0030, which meant I got baggage around 0100, got home around 0140, got to bed around 0230, and then got up for my real job around 0730, since I decided to ‘sleep in’ an extra hour … but I want to try to get this down on paper the Internet while it’s still kind of fresh in my mind.)

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Ubuntu Feisty (7.04) + Compiz + Thinkpad T41

Posted in Technical on May 23rd, 2007 by p14nd4

Introduction

As some of you may know, I bought a refurbished IBM ThinkPad T41 (2373-5U2, iirc) during fall 2005, and have been dual booting it with Windows XP Professional and Ubuntu Linux. The hard drive is only 40 GB, which I partitioned as:

  • 26.5 GB Windows (NTFS)
  • 5 GB Ubuntu / (ext3)
  • 1 GB swap
  • 4 GB /home (ext3)
  • 3.5 GB unusable/recovery partition

Windows and Visual Studio 2005 Professional managed to eat up about 8 GB, plus another 1.2 GB for the installers I left on the hard drive, and miscellaneous other crap put the Windows partition near its capacity, and I had nearly 1 GB free on the Ubuntu / partition, but when it came time to upgrade to Feisty, I was informed that I needed over 1.1 GiB free. Even after some housecleaning, I still came up short, so I decided to wipe / and perform a fresh Feisty (Ubuntu 7.04) install. I figured I was probably about due anyway, since I’d been dist-upgrading since at least Breezy. The installation went fine (I did it during a meeting here at work), but when I went to enable “Desktop Effects” (compiz), I got some odd results. Actually, immediately after enabling it, the right section of the screen was displaying odd banded/corrupt artifacts (leftovers, I presume, from switching video modes, etc). I disabled the effects for the time being, and went about my life.

Fixing Compiz Display

As I noted above, I had problems getting Compiz working from Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty on my ThinkPad T41 with an ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 (01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc Radeon Mobility M7 LW [Radeon Mobility 7500]). One or two Ubuntu version ago, I had some OpenGL performance issues with xmoto (a game), which I kind of resolved by changing my xorg.conf file to explicitly use the ‘radeon’ driver instead of ‘ati’ and forcing AGPMode 2 (and maybe something else, I don’t remember for sure). I hoped that would solve my current problem, but alas, it did not. Perhaps resulting from my inability to accurately describe the results I was seeing, I was unable to immediately find any quick fixes to my problem. I guess that’s why it’s still beta, huh?

Update! I reinstalled Feisty (fresh) on my new laptop hard drive, and spent some time isolating the line that fixed the display rendering. It wasn’t the original line I thought, but rather:

Option "AGPSize" "32"

Fixing Compiz Performance

After getting compiz working, I was still getting weird performance hits, where I could hear my hard drive click, whirr, and see CPU spikes during really any display updates (even scrolling a man page in a gnome terminal window would spike the CPU). I thought this was somehow related to the new IDE device handling by the SCSI subsystem, and possibly not having the drive using DMA. I followed that hunch for a while, since it seemed that other people were indeed reporting issues of that nature in Feisty. The information I could glean from dmesg suggested that the drive was in fact in DMA mode, but during the course of the investigation, I noticed some questionable SMART values, so I decided that maybe my hard drive was just dying, and bought a replacement. However, I wasn’t entirely convinced that was the problem, so I kept poking around. I tried many combinations of options, but eventually found a winner. Again, I’m not 100% sure which line was the actual solution, but I think it may have been the following line in my Device section of xorg.conf:

Option "RenderAccel" "true"
Along the way I also modified my dric (/etc/dric or ~/.dric) to enable hyperz as follows (alternatively accomplished with the package driconf):

dric file »

Full xorg.conf Devicesection:

Full xorg.conf Device section »

Fall 2006 Update

Posted in General on January 25th, 2007 by p14nd4

Introduction

Yes, I realize that’s pretty much the most creative title ever to grace the internet. I’ll give you a minute to let it sink in.

Anyway … a fair amount of substantial, major life change sort of things have happened since my last post, so it’s probably kind of important for me to update this (well, as important as writing on this blog can be). As you probably know, I completed my BS in Computer Science in June, which made it fairly clear what I had to do for the rest of the summer: waste time by playing through Quake 2 again, eat frozen pizza, sleep until 3 PM every day, and then at the last minute get a job and find an apartment. If you’d like the executive summary: mission accomplished. Feel free to stop reading now.

Still here? Fiiiiine. I guess I can keep writing.

July

My first week of July is covered in fairly excruciating detail in the previous post, so I’ll summarize by saying that I went out to Wisconsin to visit Keefe and see Summerfest. I actually had one or two phone interviews while I was out there, too, so it wasn’t entirely unproductive (despite my best efforts). Unfortunately I wasn’t clever enough to try to schedule an in-person interview with the company from Madison that was courting me at the time; oh well. I had another phone interview with that Wisconsin company the week after returning from Wisconsin, which went well. I was speaking with one of the other software engineers there (similar position to that for which I was applying), who asked me A. what my favorite language was, and B. what my favorite type/aspect of programming was (C/networking/sockets/etc), and he randomly happened to have the same favorites/interests, which I felt was a lucky coincidence and connection. For better of for worse, that became kind of a moot point late the following week.

On Tuesday, July 18, at 15:18 CDT, I received a call from the Minnesota director of software engineering at Electronics for Imaging (EFI) informing me that he had been authorized to extend a job offer to me. We discussed some of the terms/benefits of the offer over the phone, but had the formal offer package FedEx’d to me overnight. The biggest caveat was that if I wanted to accept the job, my response (signed acceptance letter) needed to be faxed to their HR department by COB Monday. It doesn’t seem like about six full days should be a huge deal to make this decision, but I was still in the interview phase with at least three other companies at that point … AND I was leaving around 0600 that Friday for the BWCA, not to return until late Monday. That meant that I actually had to complete everything before I went to bed Thursday night … one day after actually receiving the offer package, employment contract, etc.

Within about 20 minutes of hanging up the phone about my job offer, though, I was already apartment hunting. I knew there was about a 90% chance I would be accepting the offer, which meant I would be able to afford an apartment after all. I probably looked at dozens of apartments online (HousingMaps.com is a very cool site) that evening, and scheduled three apartment showings over the next two days. Only shortly before this, I had learned that my friend Matt, whom I had met in Physics 1302 in the fall of 2004, was interested in rooming with me for the upcoming year. While this obviously meant my search should be restricted to two-bedroom apartments, it had the added side-effect of requiring me to extensively photograph any place I toured, in order to be able to get some degree of approval from Matt, who was gallivanting around Asia and the middle-east for the summer. Other considerations included: proximity to light rail (my transportation method to my potential job), proximity to campus (Matt is still attending), cost, and perhaps most importantly, ability to move in ASAP. The job would start on Monday, July 31, and I needed to be out of my current apartment by Monday, July 31 at 8 PM, and I took my first tour on July 18, so … you get the idea. Expeditiousness ftw.

I picked up a few housing applications on the tours I took, and then had to head to my parents’ house Thursday evening, since we would be leaving for the Boundary Waters very early Friday morning. I packed my small bag of gear for my four days in the wilderness in approximately 8 minutes, which probably wasn’t the best idea considering the degree of isolation, but whatever. (It turned out that the only thing I was really lacking was a long-sleeve shirt to wear around dusk (mosquitoes suck), but I survived.) I spent much of the rest of that evening pouring over pages and pages of the employment contract I was given, and then finally around 3 AM (I think?) signed and faxed my job offer acceptance and my housing application to the apartment I had decided was the best option. I understandably slept a fair amount on the ride up, but we arrived, got canoes, and hit the water. Friday was the only day I recall being able to even faintly smell smoke from the sizable forest fire going on at the time, but it really wasn’t bad at all. We were supposed to have a ~10-rod portage followed by a little canoing and then a ~40-rod portage, but it turned out that someone had decided that canoing was stupid, so the poor excuse for a trail on the 10-rod portage just bypassed the small lake and connected directly to the 40-rod portage … probably making something like a 100-rod portage (and very hilly). The campsites on the next lake weren’t spectacular, but we finally put in on the second or third one we passed, and set up our three tents in very close proximity to one another (due to space constraints). Dinner was brats and beans (over the stove of course … they’re not too keen on campfires when there’s a forest fire already going), though unfortunately we didn’t get everything finished before sunset, and the bugs got pretty bad.

Saturday was good. Canoed, portaged, had lunch (summer sausage, cheese, pitas), canoed, portaged. Our final portage of the day was quite long, and I was sweating considerably by the end, so I went for a quick swim, which was very refreshing. We made camp (and even had a sandy beach … a rarity up there), had chili, and slept. Sadly, Sunday was not nearly as sunny as self-described. It rained nearly all day, and we had a lot of portaging, including some very poor conditions. We went through a chain of lakes and portages that didn’t really connect to anything and had only one path through, so it would seem they were infrequently utilized (which leads to poor trail/entry/exit conditions). The added bonus was the low water level, making a few entries/exits particularly troublesome. At one point I was up to my thighs in swamp/mud (with a huge pack on, obviously), and I guess my uncle had the same pleasure at another location that same day. We didn’t take a lunch break that day either, so the jambalaya we had for dinner tasted pretty fantastic.

Monday was sunny and calm when we woke up, and had clouded over for a while during breakfast and such, but got sunny (and windy, unfortunately) by the time we hit the water. We didn’t have any portaging that day, but were on a pretty large lake (Homer), so were on the water for a while. I got slightly sun burned that day, but it wasn’t too bad. On the drive back, we passed through some severe weather, but the canoe stayed strapped onto the car :). I took a shower moments after getting home, and probably made a point of eating something delicious, and not prepared over a small camp stove (though I don’t recall specifically what it was).

I toured another couple apartments the next day. One of them looked great on paper, but wasn’t going to work out, and the other had a very friendly building manager, good value, good space, and good convenience for me, but not great convenience for Matt, and the biggest problem was that I couldn’t move in until September (if I wanted a 2-bedroom unit). I signed a lease on Wednesday, July 26 at the place for which I had faxed in the application before leaving for the BWCA, and started to move things in that evening. I had another couple phone interviews with other places that week (despite having signed a job offer acceptance letter), and continued to make about one car trip a day with friends to my new apartment to move things in. I was out of my old apartment by Sunday night, and started work Monday morning, July 31.

August

August was my first full month in my new apartment, and I spent most of it sleeping on a pad on the floor, as I did not own a bed. While my back may have been a little stiff in the mornings after waking up, it really wasn’t as awful as it sounds. Waking up at 0630 M-F for work, on the other hand, was a bigger issue for me. Remember, I was waking up around 3 PM most of the summer, so this is nearly half a day earlier. Anyway, my first week of work was … interesting. I spent a lot of time reading documentation, and generally just trying to figure out wtf was going on, and what I would be working on. Occasionally I could contribute in the capacity of general technical knowledge, such as re-ghosting machines, or reinstalling Windows, etc. to make a few new base ghost images, but I didn’t get much opportunity to touch any code. At the end of that week, I went up north to Upper Gull Lake near Nisswa, MN, USA to the cabin of my friend Nick Jacobs[‘s parents], with whom I attended Kindergarten through High School. Nick, his girlfriend Courtney, his parents (including Jeff Jacobs, the mayor of Saint Louis Park), his two younger siblings, and Adrianne. It was nice to relax, swim a little, hang out, get some sun, etc. I don’t really remember anything else that happened in August, other than getting paid, and probably buying some furnishings from Ikea. After getting my first paycheck (er, direct deposit), I immediately went to Banana Republic to start my ridiculous spending habits.

September

I bought a bike from the Minneapolis police bike auction. It was more expensive than my bike that was stolen, but as Patrice (a former Trek Bike store employee) immediately pointed out [something along the lines of] well duh, it is a Trek. I did my best to get my money’s worth out of it yet that summer by riding to and from work (here is the route I take), which is over 11 miles each way. Fortunately, there’s a shower and [small] locker room at work, so I was able to just wake up, pack a bag, bike in, and shower and change clothes there, so I wasn’t sweaty and smelly all day. I loved the exercise, and also just generally like biking, so I think it was money well spent. I continued to get paid, and spend lots of money on my credit card at Ikea, H&M, and Banana Republic (and probably other places).

 

I’d say that pretty much wraps up my Fall 2006 update, considering I started writing this when it still was fall. Ooops. I have another couple updates in line (in my head), so there might be a little more activity in the upcoming month, too. I’m sure you’re all just dying with anticipation. Please … do hold your breath. (Let me know how that works out.)

Wisconsin 2006

Posted in General, Music on July 10th, 2006 by p14nd4

Summerfest

Depending on how long you’ve known me (or whether or not you know me at all, I suppose), you may recall that I have a tradition of heading out to Wisconsin every summer, around the 4th of July, to visit a friend and business partner (Keefe) and see some concerts at Summerfest. I believe this was my fifth summer to head out there, and I hope to go back again next year. I left Minneapolis with a friend from school (Matt) around 4 PM on Friday, June 30 after having to get up at 0630 to make it out to Eagan for an 0830, 2.5-hour series of interviews with four different people, and we were lucky enough to hit absolutely awful traffic between Minneapolis and Saint Paul. When all was said and done, I think we made it past Saint Paul about 90 minutes after leaving Minneapolis … a trip that should take only about 15-20. Despite that somewhat sub-optimal start, we made pretty good time the rest of the way, and I think we made it to Milwaukee around 2230 (10:30 PM, for those of you unfamiliar with 24-hour time formats).

Although a few good bands were playing Summerfest that evening, the headliners usually start at 2200, so Keefe and I decided that less than an hour of a concert probably wasn’t worth $15 each, and walked around an office building in downtown Milwaukee for a while instead. The Wells Building, as I believe it was called, used to house the Techware Labs server, so Keefe had a key for after-hours entry. Among other things, we were able to get out onto the roof, which presented a good opportunity to take a few pictures, only a couple of which turned out well. (Sadly, I didn’t make any other good use of my camera during the trip, though maybe I’ll grab a few other pictures that Keefe took and put ’em up later.) I generally enjoy going onto roofs of tall buildings, so that was a pretty decent way to pass the time for free, in lieu of half of a $15 concert. Later, Keefe’s girlfriend (Jenny) ended up calling from Summerfest for us to pick her up, which is no small feat, to navigate dozens of half-blocked one-way roads with thousands of people roaming around to find their cars. Among other things, we passed the same intersection no fewer than four times, and unnecessarily (unintentionally) drove ourselves to the back of a huge line of cars trying to exit a major parking lot. We never did end up finding Jenny near Summerfest, and instead ended up picking her up from a bar about 15 minutes away from downtown Milwaukee. It was somewhat unclear how she got there.

I don’t really remember everything I did for the rest of the week (until leaving the evening of Sunday, July 09), nor do I believe it would necessarily interest anyone to read it (much less me to write it), so I’ll just try to cover a few highlights.

  • The Sunday before the 4th, Keefe and I headed over to John Chaillet‘s house for a huge barbecue/grill/cookout extravaganza. I guess that many hours were spent preparing food before the hours of cooking could even commence, including making a few dozen hamburger patties with onions and peppers mixed into the meat. Needless to say, it was quite delicious. It was also cool to meet havoc (John) and chillywilly of irc.havoc.org #havoc in person, with whom I’ve been conversing on the internet for nearly half a decade. I played volleyball there, too, probably for the first time since 10th grade gym class. I dominated everyone :P.
  • Monday, Keefe and I went to a client’s business to install a wireless internet subscriber module and wire it up to their network. This was a somewhat daunting task, as the antenna needed to be on top of the 2-story office building (with only ladder access to the roof), then have the cabling run to two wiring closets on the two floors, and then to nearly the opposite end of the building to reach the client’s router. It took several hours, involved a lot of time on ladders and awkward places in ceilings, etc, but we got the job done, and now Keefe gets to make some more money. I’m still unemployed :P.
  • On Tuesday, I spent the day with Adrianne (my girlfriend) at Summerfest, and saw Punchline, Lucky Boys Confusion, and Bowling for Soup. Despite the fact that the bands weren’t necessarily a perfect match for my main musical tastes, the shows were very fun, the bands had good stage presence and high energy, and that was reflected by the atmosphere in the audience. It was also really nice to get to see Adrianne for the first time in a week, though it’s been almost another week again, which may not sound bad, but it feels like a long time (I guess that’s a good thing, hey?). We later met up with Matt at a coffee shop, and again the next day for lunch at the SafeHouse, which was a decently cool experience in and of itself.
  • I had a job interview with Google (over the phone) on Thursday afternoon. It was somewhat brief, but they had already emailed me and I completed ~4 pages of problems/programs/etc. they had sent me the preceding week. The position is located in Mountain View, CA at their headquarters, so if they offered that to me and I took it, that would mean moving out to California.
  • Keefe, Jenny and I went down to Summerfest on Friday and saw about half a dozen songs from Yellowcard, a little Cheap Trick, Train and Big Wu, and maybe another half dozen songs from Styx.
  • We went to Jenny’s birthday party on Saturday, and then Keefe and I departed for Summerfest, only for his alternator (presumably) to fail along the way. We barely made it off the freeway, and with a little help of my pushing, we got Keefe’s truck onto a side street. After about a $150 tow back to Hartford, and much disappointment about not getting to see Panic! At the Disco (and my added disappointment for missing my friend Brian (of Savin Hill fame) and 30 Seconds to Mars), we headed to a local bar. Having turned 21 only the month before, this was my first time in a bar, and the Mike’s Ice Hard Lemonade I consumed was only the third alcoholic beverage of my life. I’m not an individual of particularly large build, and have no prior tolerance built, so the single bottle containing ~5.2% alcohol did affect me somewhat, but having no desire to actually get drunk, insistently refused Keefe’s attempts to buy me more drinks. Sorry Keefe, you don’t get any embarrassing stories to tell about me doing stupid drunk stuff. (No one shall have such an opportunity so far as I’m concerned.)
  • I headed back home with Matt on Sunday evening. Aside from the massive storms around Milwaukee around the time of departure (of which I saw only a few minutes of a torrential downpour and a few pieces of hail slightly larger than peas), the trip went quite smoothly, and I think we got back to Minneapolis in about five hours (not counting the one stop we made).

Music

Among other things, one aspect of this yearly trip I make that sticks in my mind is the music I hear while out there. I don’t necessarily even mean the concerts I hear at Summerfest (although yes, those are typically very good), but rather just the music I hear on the radio while riding around rural Wisconsin. While this experience probably doesn’t translate well for others, I almost never listen to the radio throughout the rest of the year, so when I’m out in Wisconsin with Keefe for a week, and we do a fair amount of driving, I’m exposed to exponentially more radio than I am otherwise. Over the course of the week, there are, of course, various songs that receive a considerable amount of air-time, consequently impressing themselves in my memory in association with that week. While some years/songs leave a stronger impression than others, I figured that since I went to the effort of making a Music category for my posts, I might as well include some mention of some of these songs. If you’re not a radio-hermit like myself, have some other decent exposure to new music, or have convinced yourself that you’re too cool to like popular music, then the following brief list will be of no interest to you. It will basically just be a snapshot of some songs off the top-40 list for July 2006, but it might be fun [for myself?] to look back at this in a few years to remember what was happenin’ back then … er … now.

So, without further adieu, the list of songs (in no particular order) that I will henceforth associate with my trip to Wisconsin, 2006:

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dani California. I actually started listening to this a few weeks before heading out there, having already picked up the album at Keefe’s recommendation, but I enjoy the song, and it got its share of radio play. There are some sections of the song reminiscent of Tom Petty – Mary Jane’s Last Dance, which I also like.
  • Angels And Airwaves – The Adventure. Apparently this band features the vocalist from Blink 182 (easily identifiable, to me, anyhow). It’s not the highest on my list of songs, but it’s worth remembering anyway.
  • Raconteurs – Steady, As She Goes. I’ll admit this song is fairly repetitive, but that probably makes it all the more catchy (kind of like another song we know). I may have heard it once prior to the trip, but I probably heard it at least half a dozen times over the course of the week, and it stuck.
  • Fall Out Boy – Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down. This song will mainly stick in my head as a result of Keefe’s repeated attempts to sing the song as performed by someone with a severe speech impediment. Apparently there’s some parody on the internet to that effect, which I haven’t seen, but shall forever remember regardless. Thanks.
  • Gnarls Barkley – Crazy. No, this isn’t like Britney Spears – Crazy (though I haven’t seen the video for this one yet, so you never know…). It has a little bit of an oldies feel to the vocal style, which I think maybe gives this song a unique appeal to a wider age range than most of these other songs. Also, with the name Gnarls, how can you go wrong?
  • Panic! At The Disco – I Write Sins Not Tragedies. I’d never even heard of this band, much less this song, prior to heading out to WI, but I liked it enough to want to see them in concert by Friday. I’m particularly conflicted about liking this, though, as they’re listed under the emo genre, which I tend to despise on principle. Also, the radio edit of the song censors god out of the refrain’s phrase shutting the god damn door, which is where I originally heard the song. I actually kind of like the sense of syncopation / off-beat emphasis the gap in the lyrics provides, but will manage somehow with the studio/uncensored version. This will probably stick in my memory more than the rest.
  • She Wants Revenge – These Things. The vocals in this song remind me somewhat of Depeche Mode, but to be honest, this song will just stick in my head because I heard the line from the song She’s in the bathroom; she pleasures herself. What more can I say?
  • All American Rejects – Move Along
  • Top 32 Songs @ 102.1 FM Milwaukee – July 2006 »

Some Updates

Posted in General on June 17th, 2006 by p14nd4

Updates

If you’re really masochistic and check my blog every few days hoping for an update, you may have already noticed a few subtle changes to the right navigation bar on here. I hope that’s not the case, though, so I get to entertain you with a brief walk-through of these changes, and how they relate to my recent life.

The first, and most obvious change, is the addition of a little blurb about myself near the top right. Although I still did kind of like the setup over at p14nd4.blogspot.com a bit better, there isn’t a good interface in WordPress (the software that powers my blog) to show this information, so it’s just kind of hacked in there at the moment. I think I’ve heard of a plugin to do something similar, but again, sort of a hack anyway. Most of you probably already know the info I took about a minute to put up there, but I might be getting a few otherwise unfamiliar visitors in here soon (more on that later, if I have time), so I thought it might be nice. Yes? No? Feel free to comment.

Moving down the list, there’s a new section heading … Pages, which contains a new … er … page, Projects. As the page itself also explains, I wanted somewhere to put some of the things I’ve worked on over the past year (at least, I think that’s as far back as any of the projects go so far). I hope to expand this a bit at some point to possibly include some other projects that, while less interesting for the general reader, could be immensely helpful to a few select googlers in the future. Admittedly, this section is virtually useless right now to anyone who isn’t at least slightly interested in computer science / programming. Sorry.

Continuing on, I’ve added one more link to My Stuff: TheLittleMan.net. A very select few of you may remember back to late 1999 when Chris Bates registered this domain for his freelance web design service, which I joined for a period as well. More importantly, though, this was the home of what immediately became my primary email address, so when Chris dropped his web design service and didn’t care to keep the domain name, I quickly offered to pick it up. Since about 2003(?), I’ve owned the domain for the sole purpose of keeping my email address, which I host on my own server, but had no web page there. I finally decided to change that late one night this spring, by making it a nice-looking portal of sorts, and a good place to hold my résumé. In addition to a .doc and .pdf copy of the résumé, I coded up an xhtml+css version, was actually pretty fun to make, too. I doubt many of you are as into xhtml/css/standards as I am, but I’m pretty proud of the results of both of these pages. Particularly with the résumé, I organized pretty much everything just as unordered lists (<ul>), and did fun formatting with css — this is my understanding of how xhtml and css are supposed to be used … organize content using the semantic meaning of various elements/hierarchy, and do all display/rendering configuration only through css. P.S. using a <ul> for an inline, comma-separated list is awesome :). (And yes, I know I’m a dork.)

Last on the list (literally and figuratively) is a new option to choose between different site themes. To be honest, I mainly added this because the syntax highlighting on some terms in the projects section isn’t optimized for a black background. The Classic theme seems to be the best for reading the code, but you’re now welcome to use whatever theme you’d like — for the entire site. (It remembers your setting in a cookie.)

My Life

As you should know by now (having read my info at the top right), I have graduated. <Monty Python>yay…</Monty Python> I ended up really surprising myself by having the best grades of all of college during my last, and most intensive semester (I’m rather proud of myself … please excuse me while I commence a little bragging). I was taking 20 credits (6 classes) of all upper division computer science (well, and inet, which is part of the computer science and engineering associate program), including a graduate-level course in Data Mining (csci5523 … the co-professors of which also happened to be co-authors of the textbook) and three different internet / networking / programming courses, and I pulled off a 3.75, which put me on the Dean’s List =D. (I also took engc3029w during May term … a three week, three-credit course that met four days a week for about four hours … and got a very solid A in there.) It was a good way to go out.

Since then (well, and somewhat before that), it has been my sole purpose in life to find a real job. Of all the programming I’ve done, I think I’ve decided that I like network/socket/client-server programming best, and my language of choice is C. If I were to use those two criteria to limit my job search, though, my options would be pretty severely limited, but a man can dream… I’ve probably sent out nearly a dozen résumés and cover letters so far, including my Opera application (eeeee!), and while I’d love to take a break and just wait for a dozen high-paying job offers to come rolling in, I’m not sure that’s the most appropriate course of action. (My lack of income is starting to hurt, as my [newish] bike was recently stolen, my desktop computer died and needs some replacement parts, I had a dentist appointment without dental insurance, and I still have to pay rent through the rest of my lease (July 31) … not to mention a new apartment after this lease expires.) Regardless, I’m confident that something will pan out … even if it means taking some underpaid support position for which I’m well qualified, but doesn’t utilize my expensive education. Bottom line, though, I can’t move back to my parents’ house once my lease is up … so it’s anything vs. joining the ranks of the homeless =P.

Anyway, that about wraps up what’s been going on with my blog and the last month or two of my life, and I have to shower and be ready to go about five minutes ago, so for all of you anxious blog-checking fans out there … until next time, enjoy.

Music of the Moment

Posted in Music on March 27th, 2006 by p14nd4

I’m not going to claim to have great musical taste, or very much exposure to new music, or exposure to many bands outside of mainstream music (so all you zomg indie music! freaks can just stop reading now :-P), but I’m going to try something new in my blog, and it relates to music. It’s possible this is even more for my own benefit than yours (so I can go read my blog in a few years to remember what I was listening to back then), but I’m going to try to post [a list of] some music that I’m digging at the moment. I’d really love to post mp3s of some of this music too, since I think that’s really what music is really about, but the RIAA disagrees, and since they have more money than me, they’re obviously right (who am I to argue?). (Actually, I love arguing, but I don’t have the time or money to get into a [legal] argument with the RIAA at the moment, so I’ll play the safe side and stick with links to the artists’ sites, some of which post the songs or samples.) It should also be noted that I’m not necessarily posting these in any particular order of how much I like them, or how similar they are to the song above or below it in the list, or how likely you are to enjoy the songs … they’re just in whatever order I think of them.

I know, I know … I’ll get on to the list soon (or you can skip this, obviously) … but I just feel like since this is my first post in the newly created Music category that I should probably talk a little bit about my general musical background, taste, feelings, experience, etc. I don’t think I’m a musical elitist, musical snob, or a hardcore audiophile (while I do rip my CDs using strict quality guidelines and encode with lossless codecs such as flac or Monkey’s Audio / ape, I listen on average Altec Lansing computer speakers or $25 Sony supra-aural closed headphones). While I’d like to say that I try to put aside my general distaste for the stereotypical target audiences of certain types of music, I’m pretty sure that when ever a ‘generic emo song,’ for instance, starts playing, I typically just roll my eyes and think stupid emo kids. I’d say that I tend to stay away from: country (duh?), emo, screamo (does this deserve a separate listing), punk, and really hardcore/heavy stuff, or whatever the musical category for that stuff is, though, probably have some exceptions to these things; it’s not a strict rule, but a general guideline. For things I do tend to like, the range is somewhat wide: classical, techo/trance/electronic, classic rock, alternative, jam band, acoustic, piano, and I tend to get particularly excited about music that effectively combines classical and electronic components. Some highlights of my music collection include music from the following artists:

  • AC/DC
  • Aerosmith
  • Beastie Boys
  • Beatles, The
  • Beck
  • Ben Folds [Five]
  • Better than Ezra
  • Big Wu, The
  • Black Crows
  • Blink 182
  • Blues Traveler
  • Bond
  • Brad Mehldau
  • Bush
  • Cake
  • Chemical Brothers, The
  • Coldplay
  • Counting Crows
  • Crystal Method, The
  • Daft Punk
  • Dave Matthews Band
  • Depeche Mode
  • die Fantastischen Vier
  • die Prinzen
  • Dispatch
  • DJ Tiesto
  • Doves
  • Echt
  • Eels
  • Eminem
  • Evanescence
  • Eve 6
  • Everclear
  • Fatboy Slim
  • Foo Fighters
  • Frank Sinatra
  • G. Love and Special Sauce
  • Garbage
  • Gavin DeGraw
  • Goo Goo Dolls
  • Gorillaz
  • Grateful Dead
  • Green Day
  • Guess Who, The
  • Guns N’ Roses
  • Incubus
  • Jack Johnson
  • James Brown
  • James Taylor
  • Jimi Jendrix
  • Keane
  • Killers, The
  • Lasgo
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Linkin Park
  • Live
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Madonna
  • Matchbox 20
  • Metallica
  • Michael Andrews
  • Moby
  • Muse
  • Nelly
  • Nine Inch Nails
  • Nirvana
  • OAR
  • Oasis
  • Outkast
  • Ozzy Osbourne
  • Panjabi MC
  • Paul Oakenfold
  • Phish
  • Pink Floyd
  • Polyphonic Spree, The
  • Prodigy
  • Queens
  • Queens of the Stone Age
  • REM
  • Radiohead
  • Rage Against the Machine
  • Red Delicious
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Robert Randolph and The Family Band
  • Rolling Stones, The
  • Semisonic
  • Smashing Pumpkins
  • Submlime
  • Third Eye Blind
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • U2
  • Wallflowers, The
  • Who, The
  • Within Temptation

Before you start tearing into me for things like <whiny voice>But p111144nnnd4, you’re such a hypocrite for liking the band ‘blah,’ since you said you didn’t like ‘blah’ type of music!</whiny> or I can’t believe you like such crappy music like the band ‘blah,’ please, just bite your tongue, and lie to me if necessary, and tell me how impressed you are that I took the time to type these all up. I really don’t care if you don’t like any or all of these bands. I’m not going to get into big discussions about the quality or merit of their music, or the people themselves (believe me, I don’t know about any of the actual band members or artists, I’ve just heard their music). These are some of the things I like, and you don’t have to like them, but I wanted to give you a `base reading’ of some stuff I’m into.

Anyway, now that I’ve wasted most of my time with the preparation, the rest of this seems rather insubstantial in comparison :-/. I think I probably could have come up with more good music for these `songs I think are cool right now’ section if I hadn’t just wasted so much time with the first half of this post. Sorry. Hopefully I’ll remember this, and edit it as other songs occur to me.

  • Howie Day – [Stop All the World Now #03] Collide [4:09]
    • Beginning with warm, clean acoustic guitar occasionally accented by light violin accompaniment, the song is soon joined by Howie’s mid-range vocals marked by a very slight/soft rasp (drawn out ‘h’ kind of) kind of characteristic of a ‘west coast’ voice, despite Day hailing from Maine. (I’d actually be kind of interested to hear an acoustic-only version of this song continuing in the style of the intro. That said…) The rest of the backup enters including a simple electric bass line, simple closed hi-hat/snare/bass, smooth mid-range violin moving harmony (and perhaps other elements of the 25-piece orchestra I’ve neglected to pinpoint), and admittedly kind of obnoxious ‘do-do-do-do’ backup vocals during the chorus, around 0:41. While the verses of the song (per normal) feature less intrusive background music, there are moments (such as the transition from a verse to the chorus) with either backup or over-dubbed vocal harmonizing as well as what I think is either harp or maybe steel guitar (1:57 and 2:00 respectively, for example). While the ‘do-do-do-do’ vocal background, a few of the prominent violin phrases, and some of the lyrics do give the song a little bit of a pop/big-studio feel, it remains a very catchy song featuring sections of simple acoustic guitar, full orchestral backing, and offers a sound that a variety of individuals should be able to appreciate.
  • Brent Palmer – [Stabilize #02] Asleep In The Back [3:36]
    • This song also begins with an acoustic guitar intro, though with a slightly ‘rougher’ feel than `Collide,’ with clearly audible fret/chord transition slides on the strings. While I think there’s also a single continuous soft cello note accompanying the first few measures, it does carry a more prominent harmony throughout several other stanzas of the song. That said, these are the only two instruments featured in this song. Brent’s voice is very smooth, and is accented by what is either stereo microphones during recording, re-voicing over the track a second time with very good precision but dividing between left and right channels, or maybe just using a single mono voice channel, but just marginally time-skewing them between the left and right channels for a unique effect. The stereo mixing of this track is particularly good for both the instruments and vocals, in my opinion, adding credit to the song (do yourself a favor and listen on speakers first, then headphones, if you have the means). Overall, I feel this is a very simple, but elegant song that has the potential to appeal to anyone from teens to their parents. Plus, Palmer was kind enough to post the mp3 on his site, so you really have no excuse not to give it a try.
  • Pink Floyd performed by The London Philharmonic Orchestra – [Us and Them: Symphonic Pink Floyd #06] Money [6:46]
    • As you might have guessed by the name, this album consists of several Pink Floyd ‘hits’ being performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. I’m amazed that someone came up with the idea, and took the time to so wonderfully translate these Floyd songs into full orchestral scores. The detail is really quite amazing. As a[n ex-]percussionist, I really appreciate the prominent bells and xylophone featured during the first half of the song, too. Don’t take my short description of this song to mean anything other than it’s 3 AM and I want to go to bed, so I’m cutting this short.