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Archived Entries from October 2009


Forty Percent

Yikes. I had a "timed" quiz in my e-commerce class on Monday. Five questions, one-half hour to take the quiz. I read the article that was the subject for the quiz and even took notes on it. The thing I failed to do was look through the powerpoint slides. I felt mostly-confident when I submitted the quiz--I thought at worst I'd get 4/5, mostly because there was a math question that wasn't really explained in the article (but was in the slides--oops).

Turns out I got three of the five questions wrong. Whoops. So much for my 104% overall grade. But it's grad school. It's all good. I just need to get a B. Not thrilled about the 40% score on that quiz though.

I'm going to just keep chugging along. I read an article today about civilian jobs with the military. I want so bad to work for the University for the future, at least until the kids are done with college, but I often wonder what will happen then. And I'm of course nervous about the tenuous financial situation for both the University and the state of Illinois as a whole.

I'm safely (which is almost ironic) on soft money for at least the next few years. I'll finish grad school before then. I don't know. We'll see. After I finish grad school I might take classes in Japanese or Mandarin. Who knows. Piano lessons too.

While the money source of the University, which used to be a rock-solid answer for people that wanted security for the rest of their lives (at perhaps the expense of not having a fantastic-ly wealthy salary) is starting to whither away, the U.S. Government is still at the top of the mountain that is quickly sinking into the sea. The military is the tip. So maybe angle to get a career there and not make millions, but have a good salary and not have to look over the shoulder money-wise for the rest of my years.

I have enough stuff to keep me occupied otherwise for the time being, both at work and at home, so I'll just chug along and maybe do a re-check once grad school finishes. Assuming I finish. Heh.

Posted: Thursday, October 29, 2009, 2:05 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Nerdriumblog, Take Three

I've spent some time the past few evenings making the cascading style sheet version of the Nerdriumblog a reality. I wanted it to be wider than the old version (even though now I think it is too wide). Campus has told us that we can design pages for 1024 monitors now (and should be) so I took the same thinking into the blog "redesign." I realize that it isn't that much different, but under the hood we've gone from a clunky old inline six-cylinder to one of them fancy hydrogen car things. Okay, not really.

There's still some javascript involved with the year/month thing in the left navigation bar, but that's actually okay, because what it does is change the CSS hide/show state and when you turn off CSS none of that works anyway so it just displays all of the the months of all of the years, which is what one would need to navigate everything anyway. I'm not thrilled that it lists all those months in a huge long list before any of the blog posts, but oh well. Maybe I'll put a normally-hidden "navigation" header (should probably have it anyway) and maybe a hidden anchor to skip down to the posts or something. We'll see.

I'm just happy to have moved to CSS. I also did a lot of streamlining of the PHP code while I was at it to make it not only more efficient but much easier to understand. Yeah, I had a lot of "what the..." moments when trying to follow the logic of what I tried to do way back when. In my defense, part of the problem was that I made code that did something, then modified it to deal with a certain scenario, then modified it to accept a different scenario, whereas if I were to deal with all the (so far) scenarios to begin with I would have ordered them out better like, well, like I did today.

Well, I checked the design on multiple browsers on multiple platforms and it seems to look okay on all of them (IE 7 on Windows XP is not liking the top padding for the links on the left, but I can deal with that--people should be using Firefox to begin with...). You know, I used to think that by developing with Safari as my primary browser that if a web page would "work" in Safari I was pretty safe with it working everywhere else. Now it seems like we've flipped 180 degrees and need to be developing with IE and assuming it works on all the other browsers? Seriously?

Posted: Friday, October 23, 2009, 2:27 am
Mood: Excited | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


CSS

I think it's time to redo the Nerdrium (for the third time). I've spent so much time at work learning and dealing with cascading style sheets and I think it's time to put my money where my mouth is and redo this site using CSS. It shouldn't be too tough. My demands are much more simple than those of my employer(s).

I hit the ground running this morning and did a bunch of PHP programming for a project at work. I broke Scott Badman's rule very, very badly today (he was my C++ instructor at Parkland Community College way, way back when I decided to do this whole full-out computer science thing). He was an "add two or three lines of code and then recompile" sort of guy. I was editing four or five files at the same time today and rewriting huge sections of code and, well, trying to keep it all straight in my head. The best part--it pretty much worked when I was done. No blank pages, no big PHP errors. I had a couple goofs. But a couple goofs out of hundreds of revised lines of code was okay to deal with.

Sometimes server management and plain web page stuff gets tiring. It's always good to have a programming project or two to deal with.

Oh my goodness. I'm having a Facebook conversation with my wife who is downstairs right now. This Internet thing is such fun.

Come on, Dodgers.

Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2009, 3:35 am
Mood: Relaxed | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


The Telephone

It is the 21st Century. And even back in the "last" century, I have always hated the phone. I don't like talking on the phone. Don't like calling people on the phone (drat, and I got a response to my golf cart ad on CL and have to call the person, ugh), and I hate more than anything when the phone rings.

We have e-mail now, people.

But so now we can get our phone through our cable company, or our television through our phone company, with all sorts of free features--voicemail, caller ID, etc., etc., etc.

The only feature I want is an /etc/hosts/ file for incoming phone numbers.

Sorry, too geeky.

I want to be able to add unlimited numbers to a list that disallows them from calling me. I don't care if it plays them a message. I don't care if it just disconnects them. I want to be able to get one annoying automated call, enter that number into a list, and NEVER get a call from that number again.

Sure, I'll have to adjust when they start calling from other numbers. I'm fine with that.

Let's get that cell tower built over on pain-in-the-ass Aunt Janis' property so that we get perfect Verizon service and then yes, no matter what the redhead says, or how cool the number is of our landline (7007, FTW), I'm canceling the hell out of our home phone number.

Call me the "Psycho" from Stripes of phone calls. I don't want to call any of you, and I don't want any of you calling me. You call me? (I won't fill in the rest, but you should all get what I'm joking about...)

I hate telephones. I've never trusted them. And I never will. I'll never forgive them for the death of Captain Kirk's son.

Owlex just said that he thinks Vonage has a number block deal. Hmm... If anyone knows about electronics, it's him.

Posted: Friday, October 16, 2009, 2:14 am
Mood: Aggravated | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Conferences and Laziness?

Yay! I get to come home tomorrow. Of course, it is tomorrow at home. So I guess I'm already 40.

I had high hopes for the sessions today and they were more of the ho-hum sort.

However, I had a great time with my friend and old fraternity pal Hector tonight.

I have lots to think about more from that discussion than from the conference itself. Like *I* should consider giving a talk at a conference sometime? Me? Really?

I need most right now to not be lazy. Yes, my the University is in the pooper, and even though we have funding, the rest of the place is crashing to the ground, but rather than just being bitter about not having a raise, maybe (other than grad school, of course) I should do my best to become an expert, or just an outspoken person who is maybe full of baloney, about something. I gave a talk once when I only sort of knew what I was talking about.

I know infinitely more now. I could easily give a basic talk on all sorts of things. Stuff that people could use.

Don't tell me that you're going to give a talk on Ajax and then claim that the Asynchronous part and the XML part have nothing to do with it anymore and it is just Javascript. THEN IT ISN'T AJAX, IT'S JUST JAVASCRIPT.

A primer on Javascript is NOT a talk on "beginning" Ajax.

At least when I gave my maybe ill-advised/suggested talk on PHP/MySQL however-many years ago, the information I gave was about PHP and MySQL. It wasn't "Well, nobody uses databases now so we can just eliminate the MySQL part of the talk..."

Yeah, because XML is dead. O-Kay.

Anyway.

I had a great time with Hector tonight. That truly was the best part of this week. Seriously. The more I looked forward to a session, the more I was disappointed. Oh well.

I get to go home tomorrow. Sleep tonight. Get up, go to the airport, deal with my name misspelling, and get the hell home.

And I was going to stay home on Friday, but after having awful Mexican food here this week might go to work if for no other reason than to have Bamba on Friday with the pals. My pal Hector, who is hispanic, even admitted to me that the Mexican food in L.A. sucks. It did! And I don't want to get into a childish Craigslist-ish argument with people about what is "authentic," but Bamba rocks and the stuff here in L.A. sucked.

Okay, I should finish up this rambling idiotic poorly-grammaticized post (Yes, Safari, I realize you don't like grammaticized--too bad. I have a poetic license and you don't...)

I'm going to be happy to get on that plan tomorrow. I'll skip the southern slam tomorrow morning and get to the airport to deal with the misspelling and get into full flight mode before the three hours to Dallas.

Posted: Thursday, October 08, 2009, 6:32 am
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Tuesday

Wide awake at 6:00 a.m. Of course, that's because it's 8:00 a.m. back in the midwest and I'd be on my way to work right now with the redhead.

Not only is it so early, but my first session starts today at 9:00. Seriously? Why not like 7:30 or something?

There's another keynote that I won't go to along with a session that is a duplicate from tomorrow (more "xml has nothing to do with Ajax" sillyness).

Everything is going somewhat well so far, all things considered. It's expensive as hell out here but I'm not out of money yet, so that's good.

Okay, off to Denny's. Yay southern slam!

Posted: Tuesday, October 06, 2009, 1:11 pm
Mood: Fair | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Grouchipants

Actually, I was okay until I checked e-mail from work. Long, stupid story. Hard to believe that people that are that old are so childish.

Anyway.

The MAX conference started today. I didn't go to the keynote. Too many people. My neurosis checked in with the five or six huge lines that weren't clearly marked and I sat well in the background for a half hour before realizing that I wasn't going to calm down around all those people and I went back to the hotel.

Which was fine--I watched the keynote on-line on the computer. And it wasn't anything to write home about (or write on-line about, heh).

OMG. Flash 10.1 for phones. Yawn. I'm not a Flash-for-phones developer. Good for the rest of you.

My first session, "Ajax for Designers," was lame as well. Call it "Minor Intro to Javascript" if that's what it is going to be. It hardly touched what I envisioned as "Ajax."

Got to watch Monday Night Football in the ESPN Zone bar at least. Met a few cool people. Came back to the hotel and had a drink at the hotel bar and went outside and was met with an "I-L-L" and ended up at a table with six or seven people who had just sort of mashed together. We talked Adobe. We talked ColdFusion. We talked servers, web, Photoshop, speakers, sessions, racism--everything. It was awesome.

I'm back upstairs and have opened the bottle of wine that I got this afternoon. I didn't spend the $11 at the grocery store down the street to get a bottle opener (that I can't take back on the plane) so I opted for the "push the cork in" method. A word of advice--don't try that maneuver next to a laptop. I was fortunate to get out unscathed.

I'll still be happy to get back home.

Posted: Tuesday, October 06, 2009, 7:12 am
Mood: Eh | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Traveling

So the last time I tried heading to the west coast the stupid person at the travel agency spelled my last name wrong. I never made it to the airport to find out whether or not that was a big deal.

Well, I go to Los Angeles tomorrow, and yes, my name is again misspelled. "Oh, it won't matter." That's what the travel agent said.

Of course, I just now tried to "check in" on-line, and I can't. The first problem was that, even though I used the incorrect spelling, the form wouldn't let me submit it without entering a frequent flyer number. Apparently I could click the "skip and continue" (or whatever) button to NOT enter an AAdvantage number. Except there was no "skip and continue" button. So trying to submit it without the AAdvantage number gave me an error message. So, I thought I'd try my current AAdvantage number, and as I suspected, it bonged that because the last name on my AAdvantage number didn't match the last name on my reservation. See, people, computers don't care if the other 9 letters match and that two of them are transposed and it "looks" like my correct last name.

So fine, I signed up for a new AAdvantage number with the incorrect spelling.

But like a pain in the neck bank, I'm now locked out for too many bad attempts. Like the bad attempts are *my* fault. Grr. Why can't stuff just work like it is supposed to? So now I have to check in with the ticket agent at the airport.

Not that big of a deal--it is Willard after all. But still, why bother even having a web check-in system if you can't use it?

Hopefully this will be the only hiccup with this trip and not a taste of things to come.

I'm trying to stay positive.

I may not blog much from L.A. but I do expect to be twittering, so if you have nothing better to do, you can keep up with me at my twitter page: twitter.com/nerdrium.

Posted: Saturday, October 03, 2009, 7:01 pm
Mood: Irritated | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Neurosis

Three days to L.A. and it's starting.

And the plane part isn't the problem. Odd. L.A. is so far away from central Illinois that I may as well be going to Sidney, Australia. And it's not for two days. Five days. My funds are limited. My hotel room is going to be like a thousand dollars (literally) that I have to pay up front and then get reimbursed for. How do I eat out there? How do I sleep? How do I get from the airport to the hotel?

What if something happens?

And that's just it. What's "something?" What could happen? I need only to get to Willard on Sunday morning. I'll figure the rest out on the way.

My wife gives me grief about "being from Chicago" since I never actually lived in the City proper. There are times that I agree with that and times that I think that determination is unfair. Chicago is like the planet Coruscant in Star Wars. It doesn't end (well, for a while).

It changes counties, and the cities change names, but as far as I'm concerned the "greater metropolitan area" of Chicago, is, truly, Chicago. Downtown? Downtown is downtown. The "city" is downtown. But Chicago is something bigger than just "downtown."

My point? (Groan). I'm familiar with "Chicago." Drop me off somewhere. I'll get to where I need to go. I can find/take a train/bus/cab/whatever.

Los Angeles may as well be Mars.

Posted: Friday, October 02, 2009, 3:37 am
Mood: Hanging On | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


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