January 29, 2006

My Apologies, WordPress

Filed under: Technology — Cory @ 3:25 am

Recently I made the remark that if I were to choose new blogging software, that I would probably go with Typo. I’d like to retract that statement.

Over the past week I’ve been using Typo for an internal blog at work. I’ve only had to make a few changes to the code, and while that was much less painful than digging through the WordPress source, the credit there goes to Rails, not Typo.

My problem with Typo isn’t with the code, its with the admin interface. The page to post an article in Typo is years behind WordPress’s sleek UI, and suffers from several obvious design mistakes. For example, the textarea for composing an article is hardcoded to 40 columns. That means adding a link to just about any page on the Internet causes the textbox to wrap around and then things get ugly. I changed the number of columns to 100 on my installation, but that broke something else. Typo updates a preview div with your content as you type, and this div is normally located to the right of the 40 column textarea. When I expanded the textarea the preview div began pushing down the textarea as the article grew. Very, very annoying.

Another issue I had was that by default articles are posted as soon as they are saved. No, stop that! I normally write a few drafts before publishing an article. To change this with Typo you have to click on a link that exposes a div, then uncheck a box each time you edit the article. Adding insult to injury is the fact that the link to expose the div is at the very bottom of the page and you must scroll down to find it.

And with all the awesome admin interfaces that were introduced with WordPress 2.0, I really have no real reason to switch at this point.

• • •

An Advocating Inventor

Filed under: General — Cory @ 3:03 am

I am normally not a fan of the memes that everyone likes to do, but when I saw the Personal DNA test on Brett’s site I thought it looked interesting so I gave it a shot. Besides, its not really a meme anyway. The results are in: I am an Advocating Inventor, at least according to their formulas.

One problem with these types of tests is that it measures a persons perception of themselves, which isn’t always the reality of things. The Strengths Finder questionnaire also has this problem. In the past one coworker who took the Strengths Finder test ended up with one of the strengths related to being a good communicator, or working well with others. The only problem was that he was an awful communicator, but he thought he was great at it.

When I answer these questions I try to be as honest as possible, because even though I may like to think I have certain attributes, characteristics, or skills, that doesn’t necessarily mean I do. The only statement on my Personal DNA page that I might disagree with is “you are good at meeting new people.” While I enjoy meeting new people, I don’t think I am particularly good at it. I tend to wait for others to approach me before introducing myself, although this is something that I try to work on from time to time. Other than that, most of the statements under “you are an inventor” and “you are advocating” are right on, but one in particular stood out:

One of the reasons you enjoy conversation as much as you do is that you often learn about yourself while talking things out with a friend; you realize things about your own beliefs while discussing them with others.

Now, I realize that statements like these are probably written by the first-cousins of people who write horoscopes, and that they are generic enough that they apply to as many people as possible, but the above statement hit the nail on the head for me. I really enjoy talking to friends about ideas, philosophy, life, and the society we live in. Often these discussions force me to think about things that I would not have otherwise thought about, and in the process I continue to learn what is important to me. Some of my favorite memories involve sitting on a porch, smoking a cigar and talking with a friend about these very things.

• • •

January 25, 2006

Fun with Alternate Tunings

Filed under: Music — Cory @ 1:05 am

For the past few days I have been trying to figure out how to play the lead to Eleven Hundred Spring‘s “Long Haired, Tattoed, Hippie Freaks,” specifically the acoustic version from the “A Straighter Line” album. Chris Claridy, the lead guitarist on the album, plays a “dropped D” tuning in the song and the lead is one of my all-time favorites. It’s pretty fast too, but I think I’ve got it worked out.

So tonight while the guitar was tuned down I began playing around and I came up with some interesting sounds. Then I remembered learning Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and “Friends” when I was back in high school, and that each of those songs used an alternate tuning. I googled around and came up with the tunings: D, A, D, G, A, D for Kashmir and E, G, C, G, C, E for Friends. After re-learning Kashmir I tried to come up with something else, but wasn’t much happening. DADGAD is a pretty difficult tuning.

However, the open C tuning used in Friends is actually really easy to play around with. After re-learning Friends I grabbed my glass slide and came up with some pretty cool sounding blues riffs. Dobro’s are normally tuned to open chords and I used to pick on my dad’s dobro when I was younger, so this was somewhat familiar. Then I began just playing around and I was surprised at how easy it was to play in the open C tuning. I ended up with a few really good sounding blues/country leads that I can’t wait to work into a song.

On the subject of music, I am considering getting a Taylor 412ce in the next few months, so if anyone is interested in buying my Taylor 414 please let me know. I bought it new in the summer of 2004 and its still in great shape, and comes with a nice hardshell Taylor case. I’ll give you a great deal. :)

• • •

January 24, 2006

For the Love of Javascript

Filed under: Technology — Cory @ 12:45 am

I’ll admit it: I really enjoy writing Javascript.

I’ve recently had to write some Javascript for one of my projects and it reminded me how much I like working with the language. Browser compatibility issues aside, writing Javascript can be a lot of fun. I have been using it for about 6 years now, and over the course of time I have written some seriously complicated JS, but it always seems to be enjoyable. Oh, and my favorite? Dynamically generated Javascript, ohhhh yeaaahh….

There, I said it.

• • •

January 21, 2006

President Churchill

Filed under: Idiots — Cory @ 7:35 pm

My morning drive to work is only about 15 minutes, and during the drive I normally flip between KSYM, KNBT and KSTX (TPR/NPR).

Yesterday morning I happened to be listening to the KNBT morning show during the trivia segment. Each day during the KNBT morning show the hosts (Wayne and Tiffany) ask some sort of trivia question and the first person to call in with the correct answer wins a prize. Yesterdays prize was a pair of tickets to see Pat Green, and the question was: who was the last U.S. president to serve without a college degree? I thought it was a pretty good question so instead of switching to another station like I usually do, I waited to hear the answer.

A few people called in with good guesses (Reagan, LBJ, Hoover), while Wayne kept giving more hints. Then a woman called in and gave her answer: “Churchill, Winston Churchill.” At first Wayne just said “no” and then when he realized what she said and told her “he wasn’t even a president!” She just said “oh” and hung up.

But just when I thought that was weird, the next caller took the opportunity to confuse Wayne again. She answered correctly: “It was Harry Truman.” He congratulated her and asked her if she was ready to go see Pat Green, to which she replied “no.” Wayne said “uh, uhm, ok well thanks for calling.” About 4 or 5 calls later someone finally got it right (after Wayne kept saying “someone just called in with the correct answer”) and accepted the prize.

People are so weird. And stupid.

• • •

January 19, 2006

The Weary Boys at Gruene Hall

Filed under: Music — Cory @ 11:27 pm

Last month Chris asked me if I had ever heard of The Weary Boys, which I had not. So when I saw that they were playing at Gruene Hall on Sunday evening I had to go check it out.

When I arrived the fiddle player was tearing it up, in the good way. I watched him play for a while because I had never seen anyone play the fiddle quite the way that he was. He seemed to just prop the fiddle up against his body and lazily slide the bow across it. For the first few minutes I watched him, I couldn’t figure out if the sounds I was hearing were actually coming from his fiddle, something just didn’t seem right. But sure enough, he was playing it and it sounded great. After that they played a song titled “Big Red Fella,” which was a lot of fun.

Normally when I go see musician perform I expect there to be a few songs I’d rather they skip. Musicians like to experiment and try different things, and sometimes the result isn’t always appealing. This show was an exception, I really enjoyed every song they played and I stayed through the encore. The music was part bluegrass, part blues, part gospel, part rock and part cajun. I was able to get video of three songs, the first of which I have not yet identified so if you recognize it please let me know:

They were selling CD’s for $10 each, and when I picked up 2 the girl offered to sell all 4 to me for $30, so I agreed and grabbed a t-shirt as well.

The Weary Boys will be performing at The White Rabbit in San Antonio next Friday night.

• • •

January 10, 2006

“Straightening the curves, flattening the hills…”

Filed under: Weekest Link — Cory @ 12:05 am

“Someday the mountain might get them, but the law never will.”

• • •

January 5, 2006

Increased Market Share for Apple and Firefox

Filed under: Technology — Cory @ 7:35 pm

I realize that this is pretty geeky, but whenever I hear news like this it just makes me happy.

Market share for Apple’s Mac OS X continued to grow again last month and is now up to 4.35%. While this is no huge number, its the trend that I am happy about. Windows XP also gained, but it looks like as people retire their Windows 95/98/Me/2000 machines that a portion are dropping Windows altogether. Mac OS gained every month except February last year, and it will be interesting to see what next months statistics look like after all those people who got iMacs for Christmas get online.

With more people using Apple computers, the more demand there will be for software for Mac OS X. The more software there is for Mac OS X, the more people who will be able to switch over. And that means fewer tech support calls from that family/friend/pet who reminds you every so often that his computer is running slow and he thinks he has a virus.

In other news, Firefox also closed out the year strong with almost 1 in 10 people using it to browse the web. Firefox gained almost 4 percentage points over the course of the year, and Safari rose from 1.66% to 3.07%. Internet Explorer usage is now down to around 85% from 90% at the beginning of the year.

Unlike many people, I’m not in the camp that hopes Microsoft goes bankrupt. I want web developers to be forced to recognize that Internet Explorer is not the only web browser. Its extremely frustrating to visit a site that won’t work on anything except the latest version of Windows and the latest version of Internet Explorer.

For an online store, this sort of thing is just plain bad business. This is like Wal-Mart refusing to let a customer into the store if he was born in January or February (about 16% of a year). By creating a site that 15% of the people on the Internet can’t even go to (the non-Internet Explorer crowd), online vendors who choose these technologies are basically doing just that and blocking potential customers. Find an owner of a brick-and-mortar store and ask them to close their doors for two months each year, and then see if they understand the analogy.

Web Developers: One of the major (only?) benefits to writing a web application is that you start off with a universal platform. If you want to write something that only works on Windows, then why not just write a freakin Windows application to begin with? You might as well save yourself the trouble of dealing with HTTP, sessions, cookies and all the other crap that comes with the bag-o-glass that is web development.

Whew, I feel better.

• • •

January 3, 2006

A New Low

Filed under: Idiots — Cory @ 1:40 am

So I am flying home today and for the first time in years I end up in a seat on the exit row. Sounds great to me, I get a little extra space around my feet for my backpack.

The 40ish flight attendant was making her rounds and when she got to my row she looked at me with this silly face and said “now, are you okay to sit in the exit row?” I am little confused by her tone, but I assure her that it is not a problem. Apparently she was not convinced because she then asked “well, how old are you?” I couldn’t believe she was actually asking me this, but I answered “26″ anyway.

This seemed pretty stupid to me, but then it got worse when the other flight attendent read her part over the intercom: “Children under the age of 15 are not allowed to sit in an exit row.” So apparently the flight attendant who first spoke to me thought that I might be 14 or younger. Come on, tell me that I don’t look 14!

And before you say it, yes, I have heard it a thousand times before: “you’ll appreciate that when you are older.” Wonderful.

• • •

January 1, 2006

New Years Fatsolution

Filed under: General — Cory @ 8:47 pm

I’ve never made a “New Year’s Resolution” before, mainly because I think they are pointless. How many people actually remember their resolution on February 1? Well, this year I am finally going to make an effort to change something. I am going to try to gain some weight this year.

Most people think that sounds rediculous, but it isn’t. I hate eating. It is a chore to me, and that is reflected in my near-anorexic appearance. If the food is excellent, I usually have no problem eating it, but when it comes to average, every-day meals I just have no desire to finish. In fact, I normally feel sick to my stomache after a few bites, and then I don’t want to eat any more. This sometimes leads to headaches, and physical weakness, and then I don’t want to do much of anything, which really sucks.

So this year my goal is to put on a few pounds. Bring on the fat!

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