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Christmas Cheer

Journal: And Merry Christmas to me...

Journal by blazin

So leading into Christmas, I was definitely having my faith in humanity restored. In process of finding preemie diapers for some friends of our who happened to have a little tiny baby right before Colorado was hit with the first blizzard (we may be starting the second, and the snow from the first is mostly still here), I witnessed the following things:

The first day I was able to get the car out of the driveway and out into the road, we got stuck coming back into the neighborhood. At least 3 people stopped and helped and we were able to get unstuck and get the car back into the garage. I put some boots on and went back out to that corner to help other people who would get stuck. We were able to help one lady out. The guy running the plow (I think of his own volition) got stuck a few times but kept saying he didn't need help. I think he was having fun gunning it and going sideways through the snow.

While in line to buy the diapers (at the second store we tried, as the first was out), the person in front of me had part of his grocery bill paid for by the person in front of him.

When we first tried to deliver the diapers, we went to the wrong house. There was a guy in a bronco who was stuck. The shovel I packed came in handy and I was able to help dig/push him out. He pulled into a flatter area and made sure we were able to get going again.

The second time we got stuck, it was because we had to make an emergency turn down a road due to a raod grater coming up the road we needed. We got stuck again. This time a group of teenagers walked by. Fortunately we were able to dig and push out, where we were able to make it about 2 blocks more before getting stuck in a snow rut.

This time were also assisted by a mailman making his rounds. He helped push us out one time. When we got near the house we actually wanted, we decided to park on the (plowed) street and walk in a few blocks. From the looks of the road there, it was good that that's what we did.

All this restoration of faith in humanity leads me to last night.

In preparation for the impending (and currently occurring) blizzard we decided to head out to Sam's and the grocery store and pick up food and TP and other necessities in case we got trapped in the house again. Less than two miles from my house, in the car with my wife and two daughters, some jackass parked on the side of the road decided that the perfect time to pull a u-turn to head the opposite direction would be when we were going about 45MPH and about 35-50 feet from passing him. I slammed on the brakes as hard and quickly as I could, but we still smashed into the back driver's side of the other car. I quickly pulled off the road and checked if my wife and kids were ok. I was about to get out and see if the other guys were ok when my wife starts yelling about how they were leaving.

So the other driver just took off. And fast. So I called 911, we waited for about 15 minutes and the cop shows up, takes down some information and basically says "I'm sorry this happened to you.". My left headlight is broken completely, the bumper is scraped up with a few holes in it and the hood is bent. But fortunately the car was still drivable. So I took everyone back home and my wife left to go to the store. When I had the girls 95% ready to go to bed, I heard banging on the door. I figured it was my wife, or her family or something so I head downstairs with my youngest and open the door.

Really long story slightly shorter, it was a vacuum salesman and somehow he made his way inside. His "short opinion" question took over 2.5 hours and lasted until after my wife had gotten home. So the girls got to bed late and I wasn't able to get my insurance calls done for awhile due to the vacuum guy using my phone to do the old "use car salesman talk to my manager" routine. Needless to say, I didn't buy the $1800 vacuum cleaner.

So, yeah, merry Christmas to me.

PHP

Journal: [Ask subset of /.] 8

Journal by blazin

I've recently been informed that we have a little more budget left so we're trying to spend it on stuff to make things better here. I've been asked to look at info and pricing for Zend Optimizer, the Zend Load Balancer and some other Zend stuff.

Is there anything else you can think of I should have them consider for a PHP shop? This could be tools or software or something. It doesn't have to be 100% PHP focused, but it should be useful with PHP or with website design and programming (ala Photoshop, but we have that already).

Thank you much.

Google

Journal: [Ask a subset of /.] Mod_rewrite and google indexing 9

Journal by blazin

I am working on some code to rewrite some urls on our website which are currently something like:

http://www.domain.com/phones/phoneDetails.php?id=39

to

http://www.domain.com/phones/details/39/Motorola%20RAZR.html

I think that something like

http://www.domain.com/phones/details/39/Motorola_RAZR.html

is more easily human readable but I've been told that google will index the one with the %20 with keywords for both Motorola and RAZR, while the second one will be indexed with Motorola_RAZR and people searching for just RAZR will not be able to find it as easily.

I am not a big fan of spaces in URLs, and I have a hard time believing that the braniacs at google would have any trouble extracting Motorola and RAZR from the url with an underscore. Does anyone know for sure which way google prefers, or have any resources about what sorts of things google looks for in the URL that help page ranking?

Thanks in advance.

User Journal

Journal: My wife is jealous of Sam and Richard... 2

Journal by blazin

There's a lot more people out there who read Sam's JE's and a lot more that read Richard's JEs than my JEs. As some of you may remember I met Sam a few weeks ago. I didn't write a JE about it as I've been super busy lately, and didn't know what to say anyway. Everything Richard said about Sam really rings true. I'm sorry I didn't write anything about it, but I did have a great time with Sam.

As for the reason of the jealousy. Let's see. A museum, a long scenic drive in the mountains, dinner and drinks... It sounds like the makings of a good date. Forgetting the fact that it's two hetero guys, but regardless, it sounds like fun. I read Richard's JE to my wife since I'd told her about my meeting with Sam and am trying to convince her that there are people that you can meet on the Interwebs that aren't psychos or want to have sex with you.

Sam had told me about the upcoming meeting with Richard. I'm sorry I missed it or wasn't able to meet him as well. I'm behind on JEs and it wouldn't have worked this weekend anyway.

I guess the bottom line is I need to figure out how to get a babysitter and get my wife and I up in the mountains and out to dinner and drinks soon.

Censorship

Journal: [FSoF] Crappity crap crap dang!

Journal by blazin

So as I've written in a previous journal, I've started a new job, about 4 weeks ago (March 15). Two weeks ago, I got my first paycheck, covering one week's worth of pay. I was supposed to get it on Friday, but I got it on Saturday. It was a paper check with all subsequent checks supposed to be direct deposited.

So we grabbed the check and headed off to the bank to make a deposit before we headed off to the mall.

This past Saturday I checked my account balance online to see if the direct deposit thing had started and noticed that my account showed a mere $7 more than my whole paycheck. I looked further and saw a couple of overdrafts with $10 charges to automatically move money from savings into checking. Further investigation showed that they had no record of my deposit two weeks ago in the ATM.

So I looked all over for the receipt so I could call the bank up and make them fix it and reverse the charges. Except I couldn't find a receipt. Anywhere. I went down to the basement and found my paycheck envelope with my paystub inside. Attached to the pay stub was my check.

So since both my wife and I remember going to the bank and depositing my check, but since my check didn't get deposited, I have no freaking clue what did end up in the bank. I guess the good news is I have my check to get in the bank, but it means the $20 in charges aren't coming off...

Communications

Journal: Today is the first day of the rest of my career 14

Journal by blazin

Or at least that is to say, as of right now, or rather about 7 hours ago, I am unemployed. No longer (well almost no longer) will Mr. Lawrence Ellison be (electronically) signing my paychecks. Leaving today was quite hard. The hardest part was leaving behind the people I've met and worked with there.

Leaving the work behind wasn't that hard. I haven't really enjoyed my job that much in quite a few years, through multiple rounds of layoffs, two acquisitions, and doing the same things in the same chair in the same cube for six years. Leaving that for something wasn't hard, but leaving the people there was the really hard part. The people I worked with were great. People that I have worked with there that have moved on were great. I cannot think of anyone there who I worked with who was not very talented or funny or great to work with in some way.

In one hour and 7 minutes, my family and I will not be covered with medical, vision or dental insurance for the next 45 days. Fortunately, we don't have any appointments coming up and the doctors are working with us to give us 45 days or so of samples so we won't have to fill any prescriptions.

On Monday morning, I'll be flying out of Denver to San Diego to start work for Cricket Communications. I'll be back later in the week when they'll hopefully have an office or a cube available for me by then. I'll be doing PHP work and converting stuff from ASP.NET, Java, perl and ColdFusion to PHP for both internal and external stuff. Honestly, I am a little freaked out about it, but I am excited and it's the right time for me to take an opportunity like this. I think there's room for advancement, which I definitely didn't feel there was while working for Mr. E.

So I guess, W00T!

iMac

Journal: I broke it. 14

Journal by blazin

On Saturday, my wonderful wife bought me a 60GB iPod video (black) for our upcoming anniversary. Ok, I bought it, but it was her gift to me. So I take it home, plug it into the computer to get it all charged, etc. and it loads some podcasts I had previously grabbed.

So Sunday evening I was using the iPod (I had copied over about 4 hour long DJ mixes onto the ipod [more on this later]) as a stopwatch to time how long it took to level my Oblivion character's sneak ability. After I finished and then got my ass killed after leveling 29 times without saving (ARG!!!) I decided to see how long it took to level something else, like blade (I don't remember). Then I realized it was pointless so I wanted to delete the timer for the second one. So I get to the screen where I can delete it or cancel and the iPod stopped responding to anything. I tried to go through the reset procedure, the update procedure, everything, but nothing would work. So I left it sitting on the shelf, with the backlight on, hoping that the batteries would completely run out and I would be able to try again.

Backing up just a bit, I was using the iPod (with my 4 songs) earlier that day while I mowed, sprayed weeds and turned on the sprinklers (more on this later).

So I got all that done and everything was happy, and IIRC, I started ripping my CD collection into iTunes so I would have some stuff to listen to on my pretty new toy.

Back to the present, where my iPod is happily displaying a bright white screen with two options and the backlight on. So I figure I am screwed for the evening as far as the iPod goes, so I went back to Oblivion. Around 1am I decided that was enough Oblivion for then, plus I was ticked at not saving (and I did it again that evening where I lost 2 hours by not saving and then trying something stupid that resulted in a critical character to a quest going bugnuts and attacking everyone in site and eventually getting killed by town guards (more on that later too [*]).

So I get an email that someone has sent me a TV show I missed to my ReplayTV in the basement (unfortunately you have to accept shows on the actual Replay and not through the network), so I go to the basement to accept the transfer. That's when I notice my socks had become totally soaking wet. Each step I took resulted in wetter and wetter socks. This is not a good thing I said to myself in my brain. So I look over where the little stop-cock drain thingy on the sprinkler system lives, and it is dripping water. Like 4 or 5 drops a second, maybe a little more. Not a stream, but definitely enough to cause problems in the 13 hours it had been leaking. So I crank the hell out of it with my fingers and the dripping stops. So I did close it, but apparently not enough.

So upstairs I go to tell my wife that the basement is flooded (no standing water, but whereever I step, water would come up through the carpet). So we move half the furniture in the basement to the other half of the basement and I get the carpet pulled back. There's a whole bunch of padding that is quite wet. So I decide that first thing in the morning I'll be heading out to rent some air mover fans to dry stuff out.

I head upstairs, plug in the ipod to charge (it was already really low) and go to bed. Next morning (Monday) I call into work to let them know I'll be late cuz I have to get some fans going to dry out my basement. The first Home Depot I go to though, doesn't rent anything. Fortunately the second does. So I head back, set up the fans and my mom shows up with a wet-dry vac. I end up spending the rest of the day vacuuming water out of the padding and carpet (and several calls to work to say I'd be later, I'd be even later, I wasn't going to make it in). Eventually I called a place that does this stuff professionally and got them to tell me what they would do if they would come do the job, which turned out I was doing most stuff correctly, but would probably just need to replace the padding instead of dry it out.

So I disconnected my computers, monitors, etc. and move more furniture to get it out of the way so pull the carpet back even more and then sclepped a large back of very heavy and wet carpet padding upstairs to lay in the back yard to dry out.

Really long story slightly shorter, I ended up getting stuff dried out well (as best I can tell anyway) and we left the fans going all night to dry out the carpet without the wet carpet underneath. I left the ipod connected to the computer to charge again.

In the morning I woke up and the ipod was dead. It had a little picture saying that it needed to be charged and it wouldn't even turn the backlighting on. Then it completely went dead.

Keep in mind it is only a 2.5 day old ipod at this point. I am trying to decided if I got a bum ipod and need to return it for a new one.

[*] This isn't the first time some dumb NPC I needed to do a quest went insane. On my previous game (about 70 hour in, level 30 etc), I was doing the Mazoga the Orc quest where some orc shows up at the castle and claims she is a knight, etc, and I am supposed to investigate. I talked to her and she demanded I bring some dude to see her. I blew her off for a few weeks (months? who knows, I had a lot of active quests). So when I finally got around to finding the guy she wanted I return to the castle and she's going nuts and attacking the guards. I tried several ways of helping her, incuding leaving her alone (she killed a couple of guards and then got killed), helping her fight the guards (she survived, I could talk to her, but then I am wanted). When I did this I got my bounty up high enough that it wouldn't let me pay it so I ended up going to jail, where I broke out, and went back upstairs to see Mazoga going nuts and eventually getting the crap kicked out of her by the gaurds, some mages and the count(?!). Eventually I gave her up as a lost cause and figured I'd have to try that quest on another character, but it just wasn't going to work.

So I decided to go back to the main quest where I am supposed to escort two guys to a city way up north. I'd previously told them to sit and wait while I did some stuff for the Thieve's guild and the Dark Brotherhood. I guess both the guys had problems with me stealing stuff and killing people and they'd run around yelling and screaming that "There's been a murder! The body's still warm!" or "Stop! Thief!", etc. It makes it tough to be all sneaky and covert. So I activate the escort quest and find the icons that indicate they are way the hell up north, probably by or in the city I am supposed to take them to. I figured they must have walked there themselves and I needed to go talk to them and move the quest forward. When I get to the city I discovered they were in fact inside the city and the only way in the door is with a key which I didn't have. So my main quest was essentially over. That's when I started a new character.

Good gravy, this is a long one. If you get to this point, please let me know.

User Journal

Journal: geekPoints++

Journal by blazin

So I finally got around to requesting that two more network ports in my cube get turned on. Today they came around and turned them on, meaning that the extra laptop and the mac laptop I have had sitting around, now have network access and are useful. Since my desktop got replaced last week by a laptop, I've been running it with two screens (laptop and monitor) since then. Now that I got network access for all the computers, I set up synergy on all three and I am now running three computers, three OSs and 4 screens all from one keyboard and mouse.

And I can copy and paste proxy settings from one machine to another, so I didn't even have to type that stuff in. So far I don't know what I'm going to do with this setup, except perhaps get some kind of a tan from all of it, but it's pretty cool and people have been impressed so far, especially with the copy paste abilities across computers and across disparate operating systems.

w00t!

It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal: That was embarassing... 3

Journal by blazin

So this evening, my wife and I decided to go out to dinner. We don't get to do this a whole lot since we've got two little girls. We decided to go to T.G.I. Friday's since they've got the three course dinner for $12.99. My wife got the fired mozarella for the appetizer, bacon cheeseburger and vanilla bean cheesecake for dessert. I got the chargrilled Jack Daniel's salmon. My oldest daughter got the chicken fingers.

So anyway, my dinner was ok. The salmon by itself actually wasn't that great. It tasted a bit too much like the char and not enough like the salmon. They did have some dipping sauce which I assume was some sort of Jack Daniel's BBQ sauce or something which completely made the burnt taste disappear and it was quite sweet and tasty. Overall with the sauce it wasn't too bad. My wife said her meal was pretty good too. Joey decided she'd rather eat all of my wife's fries than any of her chicken, which normally would not be something we'd let her get away with, but she's not been feeling well so we were glad she was eating anything.

So the meal's over, the waiter comes over and offers to get the check and we remind him we haven't received my wife's cheesecake yet. So he grabs that (in a box which we asked for) and comes back with the check. I grab my wallet... and crap... No wallet. None. I find eye drops and chapstick, and car keys. But no wallet. I look around in the crumb gutter behind the seat. Nothing. On the floor. Nothing.

Crap.

I ask my wife if she has her wallet. Nope. So between the two of us there's a total of maybe $2.00 of change in my pocket. (I didn't realize that then, I just looked now).

The our waiter shows up to pick up the check. I tell him I've got a problem in that I cannot find my wallet. He pulls a literal David Copperfield and disappears. I had no idea where he went or how he got where he went so fast, but he was gone. In about 15 seconds, his manager appears and leans over asking that he's heard we've had trouble with the bill. I tell him as well that I cannot find my wallet. He asks if we have any cash. No. I keep that in my wallet. Any other credit cards. Um. No. Those are in the wallet. How about a check? Nope. Don't carry the check book ever.

So he asks how far it is to home. We tell him it's a little more than 20 minutes one way. My wife offers to stay while I run home, but at this point we're already pretty much past the girl's bedtime and adding another hour to it won't be that good. So he gives me his business card and tells he'll be here until 2am and I can just come back later. I tell him I can give him my card number since I have it memorized, but they need to swipe it or crunch it or whatever, so that's a no-go.

So I run out to the car to see if maybe it somehow fell out of my pocket. I search all around my seat, all around the car. Nothing. So on the way back in, I even asked the hostess on the way back if anyone had found a wallet. Nope... So we've got no choice but to go home and then I will get to come back with the wallet (assuming it can be found) to pay the bill.

On the way home I'm trying to think of what's in the wallet in case I did lose it and didn't somehow forget it at home. Credit cards, ATM card, well over $150 in cash (which is rare, since I don't usually keep more than $40 and some emergency money which is hidden). Blockbuster card, insurance, Sam's, etc. Oh crap, and then gift cards for Christmas and birthdays and what-not that I haven't used. I figure there's probably more than $700 worth of cards and cash, not counting the credit cards and ATM. Crap crap crap. I hope it's at home.

So we get home, and it's there. Awesome. I trace my steps and realize I know exactly how/why I forgot it. We get the girls in bed and I get ready to head back to the restaurant. I took my wife's car this time since she needed some gas so I figured I'd fill up on the way. I get to the restaurant with no problem. I found the manager and he seemed surprised that I came back to pay. I asked him if he expected that I wouldn't and it really seemed like he was back-pedaling. I really don't think he expected I'd be back. So he tells me that there should be more honest people in the world like me. That was nice. So I paid the bill (with probably 25% tip which was actually quite a bit more than was deserved, but whatever).

So that was my night. How was yours?

Update: * I've removed all the stuff between the stars. I wrote this right before I heard about that Frey author guy and decided that fabricating crap was probably not what anyone would like to read. So the story is much shorter and now all true.

User Journal

Journal: BANNED! 16

Journal by blazin

So last night (at home) I tried to read some JE's. I got the lovely pink slashdot "BANNED" page. I've never seen this before. I wrote in to find out why I was banned, and was told that IP has been banned every day since 12/19 for hitting the RSS feed 100s or 1000s of times in an hour. The weird thing is that I am not running any RSS readers on the computer I use the most and the other computers don't have any slashdot rss subscriptions.

Does anyone know how to track this thing down to see what is causing this? I've checked the router logs and the only slashdot hit I can see was when I tried to read the JE, but admittedly it doesn't go back all that far.

Thanks.

Microsoft

Journal: Anyone have a 360? 4

Journal by blazin

Just wondering if anyone in the circle has an XBox 360 yet. Since I have seen no journals about it from anyone, I am assuming that no one else does. If you do happen to have one, add "Codemonkey 1" to your friends list. I only have a few days left on my xbox live gold trial and I have yet to use it at all. I guess even if you have an original xbox you can add me too since a lot of the original xbox games on live work between the two systems.

Thanks.

Dave

Hardware Hacking

Journal: Crap, crap, crap...

Journal by blazin

About three weeks ago, my wife and daughter stopped by my work to go to lunch with me. On the way back to drop me off, the gas pedal dropped to the floor and the car lost power and the engine went to back to idling speeds. I was able to get it to go a little bit (like 4 or 5 feet) by pushing the gas pedal down and then when I let off, I would get a little bit of power. I had to turn a corner and go up a hill and the little power I was getting wasn't enough to get it up the hill, so I had to get out and push the car by myself up the hill into a parking lot.

I called and got the car towed. The next day they said the problem was caused by the mass air flow sensor being screwed up ($470). Towing was $96.50. The car was at 89899 miles, so I told them to go ahead and do the 90,000 mile maintenance ($532.86). They also found that two tie rod ends needed replacing ($390.92) because the wheels could move a little bit without the steering wheel turning. While they were replacing the tie rod ends, they found all the struts were leaking and wanted to replace those (~$600). So with everything they were planning on doing it was looking at about $2400 + tax. When I picked it up they ended up charging just under $2300. It drove like it did about 6 or 7 years ago, lots of power, etc. Very nice.

Cut to Tuesday (2 days ago). My wife goes to the store that night to pick some stuff up and when she comes back tells me that something is wrong with the car. I take it out for a test drive and the car is shaking at idle and low speeds and during my 2-3 mile drive, the check engine light goes on. The smell of gas is very prevalent as well. So she drops me off at work with my car yesterday and I call to make an appointment for the car. At this point the car has 90010.4 miles on it. So we drive it over to the dealer to drop it off last night (it was quite cold) and the gas smell is now combined with exhaust smell and I had to drive there with all the windows down so I didn't pass out or throw up. When I stopped at a light I noticed that everything was foggy looking behind me. When I got there to drop the car off, I asked my wife if the vehicle was smoking and she said it was.

So now the car is there, again, awaiting more work. I really hope this time is something they screwed up on and will be free to fix.

This afternoon (about 30 minutes ago) I got the call from the mechanic. Apparently the car's brains shorted out and it was holding the injector open and just washing the cylinder with fuel. So that explains the smoking, the lack of power, and the smell of gas.

A new computer is going to be $506.51 and take 7-9 days to get here. Yay for me.

"Don't discount flying pigs before you have good air defense." -- jvh@clinet.FI

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