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Archived Entries from August 2004


Comments, anyone?

When I started this whole blogging project I believe that I said that I didn't want to deal with allowing people to post comments because this wasn't meant to become a discussion forum (or something to that effect). Well, I wasn't going to add emoticons and I broke down on that subject.

As of today comments can be posted regarding any entries here in my blog. I did it more to see if I could do the programming part of it than anything. And I think it will work okay.

Since I'm not worried about a deluge of postings, I do have it set so that posts go up right away, and I simply am sent an e-mail that a post has been made. That way, I can delete it if I see fit, but don't have to actively moderate what goes on, if anything.

I suppose I should grab an IP address as well. Hmm..

Posted: Tuesday, August 31, 2004, 6:18 pm
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Beginning to a Long Week

Well, it's Monday. And this week is going to suck. I have so many things on my plate. Between work, school, consulting, and home improvement, I'm going to be one tired son-of-a-bitch by next weekend. I think I rather enjoy long drawn-out projects than short "need it now" types, if that makes sense.

So I noticed this morning (okay, I've noticed this many times before, I just thought to talk about it today) that people that work here at this University are assholes. I mean, really. The most unfriendliest bunch of turds I've ever been around in my life. I should clarify that, which will make this observation even more bizarre. I truly enjoy just about everyone I actually work with. None of them seem like jerks--but from people driving on campus, to interacting with other units on campus, and down to dealing with people in the parking garage, the majority of them come off as arrogant assholes. They drive fast. Well, they are just plain inconsiderate drivers period. Why the hurry? We work for a University--it's like a government job. Nobody keeps track of when I get to work or when I leave, and I'd guess that much of campus is that way as well. So what's the rush? Why cut people off with your car? Why go everywhere with a bitter sourpuss look on your face? I just don't get it.

There's a bitter woman who lives in our town that works at the school's health center, and she must drive 80 mph to work every day. Leave five minutes earlier! I have gotten to the point where I drive through the country in the morning and take my time because I can't deal with all of the idiots on the two-lane highway that makes up most of the route from oblivion to civilization. I'm sure it doesn't help that most of them are NASCAR fans and like to pretend they are Rusty Wallace, or whoever else.

Oh well. Only five more days and the weekend will be here. Sheesh

Posted: Monday, August 30, 2004, 1:38 pm
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Biking all over town

The kidders were bored and I was tired of scraping off tile glue from the basement floor so I suggested a bike ride to see one of their friends. After a short visit we stopped at Super Pantry and got slushees and sat in the park and drank them. When we were almost home, one of the kids decided that continuing on and going to see Grandma would be a good idea. And Grandma lives out in the country. But we kept going.

We just now got back home after our visit, and I'm absolutely worn out.

Uh oh. The mood keeper forgot the last mood already. Hmm...

Posted: Saturday, August 28, 2004, 9:49 pm
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New Blog Functionality

Well I decided that I might like to have emoticons on my blog, as well as a place to list what kind of mood I'm in (yeah, I know, I'm kinda ripping off some of the commercial blogs, but oh well). However, I didn't want to use any of the cheesy-ass bouncy animated gif smilies that are free all over the internet. I was going to just use the ones from MSN Messenger, but while I'm a small enough fish in this vast internet ocean, methinks ripping off emoticons from Mr. Gates wouldn't be the wisest choice I've ever made. So, being the total loser dork that I am, I created my own emoticons.

I started by using an empty toilet paper roll and drew circles on a piece of paper using a Sharpie. Then, well, then I drew a selection of smiley faces, scanned them in (so 20th century, I know), colored them yellow (except the "mad" one...), shrunk them down to 20 pix wide, and saved them as GIFs. Whoops, I need to go fix the insert statement--I almost forgot! Okay, that's better.

Anyway, they look silly, but they are mine. Let's see if this works...

Posted: Saturday, August 28, 2004, 2:30 pm
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First day of school for the K-Farts

Well I had another day off from work today because it was the first day of school for the kids, but it was only a partial day (from 8:00 to 10:15 or so). They both seem happy to be in school again.

The stupid woman that lives in the house behind ours griped my emptying water off of the pool again today. Groan. It has rained for three days straight and the pool is over-full. If the water level is too high, the automatic skimmer doesn't work because the water level is higher than the top of the skimmer. So, I needed to backwash the filter anyway, so I ran it a while to get the water level down. And a few minutes later I heard her scratchy old smoker-voice bitching "he's dumping water everywhere again..." The pool has been here for 20 years or so, through three homeowners. The house she lives in has had even more owners during that time and NOBODY has ever had a problem with the water situation. And she even has a pool (albeit a trashy above-ground one). Where does she empty her water?

Not to mention the fact that the ground that has standing water on it (for all of 15 minutes before it soaks in) is actually the easement between our properties--it isn't her yard to begin with.

Morons. The world we be so much nicer without them.

Well, my wife has had a long day at work today because both of her bosses are out of the office for today. I've got an hour before she gets home, so I think I'll try to get the house picked up and some laundry folded so that that's one less thing she needs to deal with when she gets here.

Besides, I can drink beer and fold laundry at the same time. :)

Posted: Thursday, August 26, 2004, 9:21 pm
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PHP is fun

Especially when it does what you want it to but think it isn't doing what you want it to. Or something. Case in point. I built this blogging stuff myself, and have been adding more functionality as I go along (mostly behind-the-scenes stuff). One of the things that has irritated me is that when I wanted to use quote marks I would have to type out the actual html code for the quote marks ("). If I would forget to do that and just quote something "like this," my entry would get cut off right after "something" because of the closing quotes.

So I turned to PHP. Surely they will have something to turn quotes into html code. And they do, as a matter of fact. $text = htmlspecialchars($text). Perfect! So I whipped up a test page to see if it worked, typed "This is a test" into a form and expected to get "This is a test". And didn't.

I got "This is a test". I tried all sorts of stuff to figure out what the problem was.

There was no problem. It had converted it to "This is a test". But duh, when you display that in a web browser it turns it into quote marks on the screen. Aargh.

Hopefully this should work now. And my avatars are all lined up nice and neatly as well now. Yay!

Posted: Tuesday, August 24, 2004, 7:11 pm
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Busy week

And it is only Tuesday. I got the abstract submission form and database up and running yesterday. I had to create it for the regional grant management program that is run by two of the folks I work for. Anyway....

I think maybe I'll see about adding a "mood" thing to my blog, like LiveJournal does. Maybe I'll get some corny smiles too. (Groan...)

So I got a quick mention in Eric Zorn's weblog today. He was having an issue with Yahoo! Toolbar and I did a quick Google search and sent him a link, figuring that someone had already done the same thing. Apparently not... Scroll down to Monday, August 23rd and look under "Help!" at the bottom of those entries. How funny. (And the wife pointed out last night that you can just right-click on the toolbar and select "uninstall"...)

Oh well. Not much else is new with me today. Back to the old grindstone...

Posted: Tuesday, August 24, 2004, 1:54 pm
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Students are back

Groan. Campus is swarming with students again. And it wouldn't be so bad if they weren't allowed to have cars. I never brought a car to college. I walked everywhere. Campus isn't that big.

So.... I sort of told myself that I wouldn't use this blog to talk about my political ideologies, but this whole swift boat thing cracks me up. John Kerry, who served for how many years in the Senate instead campaigns on the fact that he was in Vietnam for five minutes. He got three medals, then threw them away at a protest but wait! He didn't really throw them away. How sneaky. Now he calls on Bush to condemn those ads, so Bush takes the high road and condemns all advertisements by not-for-profit groups that get federal money to place ads bashing either of the two candidates. Bush goes so far as to say that Kerry served admirably in Vietnam.

As usual, the Republicans, when faced with a fork in the road, take the high road.

Unfortunately for me, I have to use a bathroom that has "Fire Bush!" and "Impeach Bush!" written on the walls. Golly, I guess I will vote for Kerry because meathead wrote on the bathroom wall. Nice. And I am even more impressed with the folks that carved "Bush = International Terrorist" in the wet cement a few blocks from the building in which I work. Pretty classy people. You do not agree with Bush, so you do the smart thing and deface some public property. Lots of class. As usual, those on the left take the low road.

Posted: Monday, August 23, 2004, 9:54 pm
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Long weekend

I woke up on a total mission yesterday afternoon. I cleared out the laundry room and completely finished up wallpaper removal. What a pain in the neck. I got all the wallpaper down and washed down all the walls with glue remover. Then I fixed some small nail holes and painted. It looks a million times better.

Last night our friends Tod and Margaret came over with their three kids. We had a couple of bottles of really good wine, along with a bunch of beers, of course. I think we are approaching the last hurrah of the pool for the year. It was pretty darn cold last night (um, and I think I actually went for a swim...). The pool light has been a problem for the last two years--I thought water was leaking into the chamber of the light and causing the ground fault circuit to flip. This year I tore it all apart and caulked the hell out of it but it still flips itself off after a certain period of time. After 20 minutes or so last night, it flipped off, the kids got out of the pool, I kept talking and drinking beer, and a few minutes later the light came back on again! Now I'm totally confused as to what the problem is. Bad switch? All this water/electricity stuff makes me nervous...

Today I started putting in the new floor in the laundry room. Of course, it is taking forever because I'm being anal retentive and scraping up every tiny little piece of glue that is stuck to the floor from the tiles that were there previously. Logic tells me that if the stuff stuck to the floor is really, really stuck, then there shouldn't be much difference between a tile stuck to the old glue and a tile stuck to the concrete. But I'm weird, so I scraped glue anyway and my hands are now killing me. I'd say I am 30% of the way finished with the floor. I'm very much looking forward to having a new floor in there.

Work is really starting to pick up. This week I'm going to be quite busy, compounded by the fact that I'm taking two days off to watch the kidders because of teacher's institutes at school. I can't believe the summer is over already!

College started up for me again last week. What the heck am I getting myself into?

Posted: Monday, August 23, 2004, 2:32 am
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Thank goodness it's Friday.

During the whole migration to the new server that hosts The Nerdrium, the last two entries were lost. (Basically the site was backed up, then I made two entries, and those entries didn't get transferred--no big deal). I have my configuration back up and going so I was able to return the two entries and adjust the time to match when I actually posted them.

Very blah at work today. I think I'm finally coming down off the caffeine high that I had yesterday. Plus it has been raining all day. So I'm about ready for a nap...

I'm starving.

Posted: Friday, August 20, 2004, 3:31 pm
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Apparently we're on our new server...

The site was down for a wee bit today as the hosting company moved to a new server. I'm sure nobody noticed but me. :)

I bit the bullet and am having the house re-appraised and am going to (hopefully) refinance and tie up some loose ends. Now I just have a hurried two weeks of finishing up all of my half-started home projects so that everything is in order for the appraiser. The biggest thing is going to be replacing the floor in the laundry room. I purchased tiles today and also went back and continued removing the last remnants of wallpaper so that I can paint (a lovely antique white!).

I need to get a more anonymous blog so that I can bitch about work and stuff and not worry that someone might stumble across it and realize it is me. :\

Posted: Wednesday, August 18, 2004, 1:28 am
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SQL Queries

This blog is finally getting big enough that I should start thinking about dividing it into smaller chunks.

The first thing I thought of was dividing it up by months, but as of now, all entries are in August, so there's no point.

Here is how I was going to get a unique list of total months:

SELECT DISTINCT DATE_FORMAT(FROM_UNIXTIME(unixstamp),'%M') AS time FROM ......

Once I get more than one month, I think I'll use that query so that I can make a list of non-current months with links that pass the month name to a follow-up php page and then use the month name inside another nasty query to get all data that matches that month. I need to think about that for a few days--I think that might not be the most efficient way to do it.

The next thing I have to do is make it so that the first page of each month shows ten entries at a time, with links to show another ten entries, etc., etc. I think I have an idea how to go about doing that.

In other news... I have a bunch of freelance work to get to today, but it sure seems like it is going to be a nice day out. I think I'd much rather play outside than sit in front of a computer. This whole freelance business will be much easier once the weather gets crummier. C'mon, snow, I need to get serious and make some money. :)

Posted: Sunday, August 15, 2004, 3:18 pm
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A shiver in my bones just thinking...

Interesting that it is the middle of August and the temperature here in the lovely midwest has been topping out at 70 degrees. The lows have been in the 40s. Absolutely unheard of in these parts. It has been wonderful not having the A/C cranked in the house. The only unfortunate drawback is that the pool is not getting much use. Either way, if the air is turned off, I'm happy.

I set the tent up for the kids yesterday. We had a fire last night and roasted weenies. We really need to go camping before the summer is over.

Well, I'm going back to bed. It's too cold to be up and moving around this morning.

Posted: Saturday, August 14, 2004, 1:15 pm
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Finally Friday

Yesterday I got to take the day off to hang out with the kidders. My mother-in-law had to drive her sister to the airport in Indy so she obviously couldn't watch the kids. Well, and any excuse the play hookie is a good one in my book.

Actually, I was "working from home." After all, I did get the Bulletin posted to the web. Uh oh. PHP "stripslashes" is going to yank the slashes out of the tags I just tried to put around Bulletin. Hmm. Interesting to see how this will work out. (If nothing else I'll cheat and add them directly to the database after this is posted. Or something.)

The kids and I sat up and watched the first half of "The Empire Strikes Back" last night. I can't wait until the trilogy comes out on DVD, even if it does have all the stupid CGI crap that Lucas added later.

Well, I suppose I should get started on the web form and database table that our grant applicants will use to submit their research abstracts on-line. It shouldn't take too long, I hope.

Posted: Friday, August 13, 2004, 1:02 pm
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Mmm. Fajitas...

We just had my wife's parents over, along with two of her aunts, for dinner. We made steak and chicken fajitas with three different salsas and a pica de gallo (sp?). It was pretty durn good, if I must say so myself.

And I'm loving these margaritas... :)

Apparently I'm all set for my tuition waiver for the fall semester. Assuming that the silly new computer all-inclusive system that the University implemented last year manages to start working.

Sheesh. It's not like the U of I is known for being a leader in the field of computers or anything. :P

Again, as long as I don't have to pay that tuition bill, I'm happy.

Not much else to report. I think I have the openssl thing figured out. Well, I got it to compile on the test server, at any rate. I probably, to the dismay of my wife, will spend some time this weekend doing the re-compile on the production server.

Although, I guess I don't have to reboot the machine, so theoretically I can do it all from home.

Unless something goes tragically wrong.... Hmmm.

Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2004, 1:59 am
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Bad news, and great news

At work I need to get a hold of an SSL security certificate so that we can take conference registration information using our web server. I gathered up the contact information for the folks that I need to make the request to at the University level, and then started reading their list of requirements.

And I realized that I don't know squat about security certificates and what is needed. Well, as it turns out, I needed to already have the secure web server software installed. No big deal, I think. Apache should have all of that built into it already. Nope.

(I went to make sure the "LoadModule ssl_module modules/libmodssl.s" line was uncommented in my httpd.conf file, and found that the ssl_module is not even installed. Wonderful.)

No problem. I went to my test web server and recompiled Apache with "--enable-ssl". The configuration went fine, but the make blew up completely. Apparently a problem with the header files for openssl. Again, not yet a total problem. I went to openssl.org, downloaded binaries, compiled them, and tried again with the Apache configure, giving it the path to the newly-installed openssl.

And it still blew up. Grrr... I love having to reinvent the wheel for stupid silly stuff like this. I know, I know--I should have just used the RedHat rpm packages from the beginning. Back to the old drawing board.

Oh, the good news. :)

I got a raise! And a pretty good one, at that--almost 10%. (And at a University where the average is 3%, I made out pretty well...)

While I'm quite happy and excited, I can't get over this ssl stuff. I guess I could weasel out of it and have them use one of the college servers that is already able to handle ssl (which would mean we would have to give the college some money in return--something we don't really like to do....).

I guess I'll just keep plugging along. :\

Posted: Wednesday, August 11, 2004, 1:47 pm
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Tuesday Blues

I'm totally still dragging today. I've been getting enough sleep, I thought, but I'm still having a hard time staying awake. I'm sure the Benadryl doesn't help much either.

Maybe I just need a good dose of capsaicin. Mmm. I'll have to fry up some jalapenos when I get home.

I think I've made this blog long enough now that I need to either truncate it into sections, which should be easy, or find a way to do the calendar thing. I think I can figure out what day of the week each month starts on using PHP. It shouldn't be too hard from there. I might just break this into a few pages for the time being, however.

Posted: Tuesday, August 10, 2004, 6:23 pm
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Back to School. Again...

I just registered for classes for the fall. I am taking an object-oriented design class, and a foundations of CS class. I'm kinda excited, but a bit nervous as well.

Part of my concern is that until I actually get a bill with a big fat zero in the "amount due" column, I'm nervous about what, if anything, this will cost. It took me forever to find anything about a tuition waiver on the University website. I don't know if that is because they don't think people need the information that badly because nobody uses it, or that they don't want people to realize they can go to school for free so they don't advertise that fact in big flashing letters. There are also, apparently, about $551 in fees that go along with the classes I signed up for. I sure hope that money is covered as well...

Oh I'm so glad to be back home, and now back at work. Carbondale was fun, but it is always good to get back into the routine of things.

I suppose I should get some work done today on the database-driven "Trap Network" that I was working on before last week.

Posted: Monday, August 09, 2004, 12:51 pm
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Home Sweet Home

We made it back home this afternoon. Thank goodness. I am totally worn out. We partied way, way, way too hard last night. I met some neat people, which was fun, and drank a lot, which was fun as well. Then almost got into a fight with one of the brothers of the bride back outside the hotel. How silly. I am glad that people calmed him down--it was not in any sort of mood for fighting with anyone (besides, I am a responsible adult now, and that would have been stupid).

The drive home did not seem too bad. I am just glad we are here. I think I will be going to bed around 8:00 or so. Did I mention that I am tired? Until tomorrow...

Posted: Monday, August 09, 2004, 12:26 am
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They're Married

Well Billy (my brother-in-law) and Jen are now married. We are back in the hotel room watching "Drake and Josh," whatever the heck that is (I thought it was "Saved by the Bell"). I've had a glass of Maker's Mark and a couple of bottles of Old Style.

The wedding was okay--there were not very many people there. I was an usher. Lots more work than getting married (we just celebrated ten years a few weeks ago...). We are leaving in about two minutes to go to the reception.

My children were *awesome*. My son was the ring-bearer and my daughter was the flower girl (well, one of two--the other one should not have been in the wedding...). They looked so cute, and behaved perfectly. I am quite proud. And I'm not one that brags about the kidders. I sure do love them, though.

My son just asked what we had to do before leaving for the reception and the redhead told him that he had to put his tux back on (which he hated wearing) and the look on his face was absolutely priceless. How funny. Dang boy.

Oh, so the other usher works at (get this) Microsoft. Yep, in Redmond. And my mother-in-law starts in today with "Oh, did you know that he works at Microsoft? You guys can argue the whole Apple vs. Microsoft thing." Thanks, mom. The last thing I want to do is talk computers. And I'm not a 13-year old kid in an internet forum arguing Mac vs. M$. Sheesh.

Okay, we're out the door. I can't wait to get back home.

Posted: Saturday, August 07, 2004, 11:16 pm
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At the Hotel

We're here. The kids are so excited--it's hilarious. Well my son went with the in-laws to pick up their tuxes (I'm an usher, and I'm just wearing a sport jacket and dress pants and a tie, which is nice).

I think we may actually go swim in the hotel pool. I told the kidders that it would be small--smaller than their pool at home--and they didn't believe me. But yeah, it's smaller. And no deep end or diving board.

Now we just need to find a liquor store. :)

Posted: Friday, August 06, 2004, 7:11 pm
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Off to Carbondale

We're about 30 minutes away from our departure for Carbondale and Billy's wedding. We're all packed up, the car is washed and gassed, and I think everyone has taken the token pre-trip turn in the bathroom.

My wife asked what I was going to do without having a computer for two days. "What do you mean?" I replied. Duh. I'm bringing my PowerBook. ;)

I hope the hotel we're staying at has internet access (I doubt it though...).

Posted: Friday, August 06, 2004, 2:00 pm
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Thank goodness it's Thursday

And Billy's wedding is almost here--which means that it is also almost over with. Sheesh.

I helped a friend today with a revision A/B iMac that she bought from someone. It had OS X installed, and she didn't have a password to get into the machine. What a pain in the neck. (And it was running some flavor of OS X yet only has 64 megs of RAM installed....).

Needless to say, I zeroed the drive, replaced the upper 32 chip with a 128 chip, and installed something that this machine was more likely to handle--OS 8.6. Ahh. Much happier now.

We leave tomorrow for Carbondale and my brother-in-law's wedding. It will be the first time the kids have been in a hotel. They're excited that it has a pool. Um, dorks, YOU ALREADY have a pool! :D

I'm bringing the laptop. I hope this hotel has internet access...

;)

Posted: Friday, August 06, 2004, 2:58 am
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Good eats...

The dozens of jalape?o plants that I helped my mother-in-law plant are starting to fruit like it is going out of style. Sheesh. We've been having stuffed peppers about every other day, and I have become a salsa factory.

I apparently have the okay to register for class next semester. I can't believe I'm going back to school *again*....

I'll hopefully be out of the office the next few days to get things caught up before my brother-in-law's wedding.

Sheesh

Posted: Thursday, August 05, 2004, 2:28 am
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Incorrect timestamp

Hmm. The server hosting this website must be in a different time zone. Once I figure out how far it is off of what time I am actually composing this drivel, I should be able to just add that many seconds to my timestamp result. Or something like that

Posted: Wednesday, August 04, 2004, 6:01 pm
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School starts in two weeks!

I got an e-mail from my new advisor last night. Apparently the summer has ended faster than even I expected--I start my new degree program in two weeks. Sheesh.

I tried registering today, but as luck would have it, the system wouldn't let me. I had to e-mail a department secretary who will then change something to make it so that I am allowed to register. How's that for technology?

I just hope that the two classes I want to take aren't totally overwhelming. This could end up being a rather tricky balancing act with work and school.

Posted: Wednesday, August 04, 2004, 5:40 pm
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Back to work

After having the last two days off to deal with my unhappy automobile, I'm finally back in the office today. Last week I was working on a PHP/MySQL data entry system for something called the Soybean Aphid Suction Trap Network. Previously we let a person (from outside the department, no less) have FTP access to our server and update static html pages with new data. Well, new server, new server admin (me!), and no more accounts for people that don't need them. (Plain, unsecure FTP? Ick!).

Instead they will use a web form to add and delete information. Pretty simple, but kinda cool nonetheless. Now that my static-html-only eyes have been opened somewhat I want to make everything in the world a MySQL database.

Posted: Wednesday, August 04, 2004, 12:59 pm
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Dirty Fuel Injector

Earlier this week my car was acting up. Almost like one of the cylinders wasn't firing. Just what I needed was stupid car trouble. I put a new set of spark plugs in it over the weekend, but that didn't help. Well I took it to the dealer today and as it turns out I had a clogged fuel injector. They managed to get it unstuck and told me that to replace it would be $430! He suggested a bottle of Gumout injector cleaner and some fresh high-octane gasoline, and to quit driving like a grandmother.

I got out of there with only an hour of labor--about seventy bucks. Four dollars for the Gumout stuff, twelve to top off my tank with Amoco Ultimate, and I was on my way. Thank goodness.

My brother-in-law gets married this weekend. My wife took our daughter to get her hair cut today, because she is going to be the flower girl (my daughter, not my wife). My son and I shot some hoops (I accidentally won at HORSE, dang it...) and did some cannonballs in the pool afterwards to cool off.

I feel like grilling tonight but the kids seem set on carryout pizza. I guess pizza it is.

I'm just happy my car is fixed.

Posted: Tuesday, August 03, 2004, 10:10 pm
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Avatars

I told you that I'd be back shortly with more useless information.

I (think) that I've just made it so that I can pick and choose different avatars to use with each entry.

Hmm. This could get out of hand. Theoretically I could have gobs and gobs of avatars. We'll have to see how it goes.

Posted: Monday, August 02, 2004, 9:16 pm
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First Entry

Wow. That's an entertaining title. Sure would make me want to read this.

What you are reading is the culmination of a weekend's worth of (albeit rather light) work using PHP and MySQL. I had messed around with LiveJournal in the past, but the whole "community" part of it was lost on me. I'm not doing this to make friends and I don't necessarily care to read what anyone else has to say. :)

But if by some bizarre reason anyone would want to read what I have to say (stranger things have happened), I figured I'd take the time and make myself some blogging software. Although the term "software" is a stretch. I coded it, yes, but it is very rudimentary.

I hope to add more functionality as I go along. For instance, right now I'm just going to start listing entries as they are entered--at some point I'll have to make it so that only a certain number appear and we can skip from month-to-month, etc. Nothing difficult to do, it is just finding the time.

Well, I'll wrap up this post. I'm anxious to make sure all of this works, so I'll add a few more things throughout the day today.

Posted: Monday, August 02, 2004, 8:18 pm
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