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Showing posts from 2006

Best Ramen...

Americans are idiots. There are so many good things around the world but we choose to import stuff that simply doesn't taste good and then American companies make cheap imitations of the real thing.

Take ramen, for instance. You walk into your local grocery store and almost anymore there is 1/4 of an aisle dedicated to pre-packaged ramen. People, particularly students, buy the stuff because it is a cheap, quick, and easy meal. What those same people don't realize is that a Malaysian company named "Mamee-Double Decker" makes, IMO, the best pre-packaged ramen on the planet. Well, it is "Mi Goreng" (fried noodle product), but the first time you have it, you realize that the American idea of ramen is the worst stuff ever (i.e. tastes like cardboard).

http://www.mamee.com/

(I'm sure real ramen tastes way better than the pre-packaged stuff, but this stuff is pretty awesome.)

I think this sort of food product isn't imported because the foreign stuff inclu…

GYEEEEEEEAAAAA!

That is the word of the day that means "I want to strangle the nearest idiot."

Spam seems to abound. There's e-mail spam. Snail mail spam. Fax spam. Television spam. And now the most annoying type of spam of all: Phone spam.

And this isn't ordinary phone spam involving your average telemarketer. These are political ads. On automation. Basically someone feeds in a list of phone numbers to a computer program and the computer then goes out and dials every number on that list and plays the same message over and over again. If you don't hear the message in its entirety one time it will keep calling you until you do. And with the so-called national "do not call list" granting immunity to politicians, they can phone spam you a half-dozen times per day with the same (or different) message without any legal repercussions.

It takes 20 minutes of silence and focus for a programmer to get back into "the zone" after an interruption such as a phone …

Making a web browser

After a recent run around with a whole bunch of JavaScript code, I now have new names for all the popular web browsers out there:

Internet Explorer = Internet Exposer
Netscape = Netscrape
FireFox = Flaming Fart
Safari = Roy Horn
Opera = It's Over!

Opera doesn't really need a name change. The name itself implies that "the fat lady" will sing or has already sung. Images of a large woman in a viking outfit singing really high notes, cracked glasses, chandeliers shattering, and general disaster ensuing is a sufficient enough association. The "it's over" is a reference to homestarrunner.com's various "issues" of "Teen Girl Squad" where everyone is usually killed off in fairly grotesque manners.

Safari reminds me of Roy Horn. A Las Vegas magician with no brain cells - stick your head in a tiger's mouth, you'll get it lopped off for you. Tiger is also the name of the latest Mac OS. Hmm...

A search for "Flaming Fart" on G…

I learned something new!

I learned something new today. It is extremely rare for me to learn something that I either don't completely know already or have a general idea about. Today I received a HP LaserJet 1020 black&white laser printer. I did my homework on this printer in advance of getting it and so far it is everything I've read about. I've generally been dismayed with printers, mostly because they are inkjets and modern inkjets take forever and a day to warm up the ink to print the first page. My favorite inkjet was the HP DeskJet 500. If you ever wanted a rock-solid printer, that thing simply refused to die. A good, solid piece of engineering. The only reason we got rid of it was because no one carried ink cartridges for it 10 years after HP stopped making them.

Until today, I've never actually owned a printer. Fixed plenty of other people's printer problems and used their printers to print stuff off. You'd be surprised what people will let you mooch :) I'm probably the …

esnips.com: We ruin Google search results!

First, visit here:

http://www.esnips.com/web/MyCPrograms

And view the source code to the two programs that were uploaded by the creator Parul Goyal - or is it Goyal Parul? Whoever it is, they clearly don't know how to write code. Everyone who doesn't know how to write code should not be allowed to post their source code to any place but private, unsearchable forums until they get halfway decent. That way, people like me aren't annoyed. I suspect that websites such as these are the reason MSDN Library search results are dropping off the map.

The first program (reversing a string) simply doesn't work. Well, it displays a string in reverse, but it doesn't actually reverse it. If he gets hired by Cisco, be afraid...very afraid. Here's how I would reverse a string:

1) Not use C. C is such a weak language. I would use C++ instead.
2) Not use C++'s basic stuff. ANSI Standard C++ is such a weak language. I would use Safe C++ instead.
3) To reverse a string,…

You wouldn't believe

How difficult it is to find a list of all the compile-time variables available from the Visual Studio IDE. I had to dig around and search for something like 4 of them among the various projects I have to put in Google and even then I had to scroll down to the bottom of the first page of links.

http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/c02as0cs.aspx

Microsoft seems to be intentionally messing up Google search results. Then again, their own search engine can't find that page. This doesn't make sense. They obviously want people to use their search engine, but if it can't find stuff, let Google find stuff for you and don't pull dumb tricks to stop them from scanning the site.

Unfortunately, I don't see anything there that will help me a lot. So frustrating.

Those pictures ARE coming. I haven't taken them yet because I'm trying out multiple ideas for working copy mobilization of a subversion repository. One method definitely works (SVNCopy - a tool I wrote) bu…

Lexmark Printer Driver Removal is a...

Really large pain in the neck. When I purchased my main PC, it came with one of those "free" Lexmark printers that chew ink for breakfast and force you to clean the cartridges every two minutes.

A couple days ago, I decided to do my "let's analyze Task Manager and see if there is anything I can clean up" mid-year cleaning. I discovered a few applications that had managed to sneak back into the startup sequence either through updates or simply running them (I hate Apple QuickTime with a vengance). And I noticed a number of SYSTEM processes running. After uninstalling the Lexmark drivers and applications about a year ago, I noticed that Lexmark had kindly left stuff installed. I also noticed that I couldn't shut down and disable the Lexmark printer service without also eliminating the printer spooler. I realized it was going to be more effort than it was worth, so I left it alone.

Which brings me to today. Today I finally eliminated the last remnants of …

The Ultimate Chair (Part III)...

Today I put the finishing touches on the Ultimate Chair. I first went to Meijer and bought some supplies. A digital egg timer, some velcro with sticky backing, and a nice fluffy black pillow.

As I said in Part II, the lumbar support poked into my back and made sitting in the chair very uncomfortable. The first step to making a chair comfortable is to determine how to eliminate the uncomfortable components. I solved the majority of the problems by flipping the lumbar support over its support mechanisms and made it hang down the back of the chair. Detaching the unit entirely is possible but is rather difficult. Besides, it still looks "okay".

With the lumbar out of the way, I started experimenting and figured out the dimensions of a pillow that would make it possible to sit comfortably in the chair. I found a really great poly fill pillow that matches the black in the chair. I would have liked it to have an olive drab green in the center and black on the edge to better m…

The Ultimate Chair (Part II)...

Today I went out to the store and bought a number of supplies for the Ultimate Chair. As I was driving away I noticed a large'ish package at the front door.

First I went to OfficeMax and picked up a mouse pad and surge protector with a 6 foot extension cable. I figure that is long enough. It has safety plugs which should help reduce overall risk in case of a sudden thunderstorm. On my way to the checkout I helped an elderly'ish lady figure out what button battery went with her key locater device.

Then I wandered over to Best Buy because it was raining and the two stores are right next to each other. While I was there I wandered around. I had no intentions of buying anything but by pure coincidence I wandered into the cordless phones section of the store just as someone was pointing out that a $24.99 phone was $9.99 after rebate. I determined I needed this for two reasons: To be able to handle technical support calls outside and to see if this phone fixed a major issue I always h…

The Ultimate Chair (Part I)...

Continuing from my tirade yesterday, I think I've found a base to form the ultimate chair for software developers who want to work outside:

http://www.hammacher.com/publish/72852.asp?promo=xsells

See my previous post for some basic comments on the chair, but after some additional thought, I am fairly certain that I can put together several modifications to the chair to create the ultimate outdoor office space. The first step I see is to obtain one of the aforementioned chairs and set it up to get a better idea of what supplies I will need.

Let's look at the checklist and see what issues will be solved up front by this chair and what I will have to do myself:

1) Is it comfortable? Well, I have sat in these sports chairs before and they are both comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. I have strange sitting habits. I rarely sit in front of a computer screen in a chair the way it was designed. For instance, I am currently in the fetal position (feet on the chair, knees tucked…

Outdoor furniture for Software Developers...

Doesn't exist. Yet. I'm not joking - there really isn't anything out there.

I ran at least 20 searches on Google looking for outdoor furniture designed specifically for software developers to achieve top performance while working outdoors. Including, but not limited to, "lawn chairs", "outdoor furniture for software developers", "outdoor furniture", "how to get software developers outside into the sunshine", "getting software developers into the sunshine", etc.

Edit: Stepping away from the computer for a few hours can do wonders. I found something close to what I want, but not quite. The keywords were a lot simpler than what I had been trying "outdoor chair laptop". Only that combination of keywords will bring up this chair:

http://www.hammacher.com/publish/72852.asp?promo=xsells

It is close, but I've sat in those funky green sports chairs before and they aren't very comfortable (IMO). The so-called lapto…

Corollary...

Today I ran across a news article announcing the demise of Windows 98 and Me:

http://www.informationweek.com/security/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=188703336

I find it slightly humorous that Microsoft is incapable of creating an upgradeable OS. Linux, and to some extent, Mac OSX, are upgradeable. Okay, Microsoft has attempted it in the past and generally failed miserably. What would be nice is if I could buy just the features I need. This would allow Microsoft to develop the software at their leisure and if I bought a feature (say for $5), I'd get that feature and any security updates for it forever. Let's take a few examples:

1) MS Paint. I never use this feature and, frankly, don't want it either. It hasn't changed since Windows 95 and people shouldn't have to pay multiple times for the same application. It is a terrible image editor. However, a lot of children in schools use it because they either are bored or really don't know there are plenty of bette…

How to force users to upgrade OSes...

Internet Explorer holds the primary market share in web browsers. Still. And this week Microsoft made it clear that "IE7+" is not going to be available to WinXP users despite the fact that it probably wouldn't be hard to do. The difference is most likely three #ifdef statements:

http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=188501124

This is a blatant attempt to garner sales for Vista and is a wholly monopolistic tactic. Those are some seriously expensive #ifdef's! Probably worth $1 billion each!

The real reason I'm writing this blog entry is not because IE7+ has features I want or need. I'm writing this because Microsoft is attempting to redefine words and phrases that have predefined meanings. One specific phrase, "protected mode" (or PMode, for short), refers to the flat addressing memory model of all 32- and 64-bit operating systems that the CPU "protects" using multi-layered rings. The Intel CPU has 4 rings where the k…

And now for something completely nostalgic

Remember when video games like Super Mario Bros. were made? I occasionally visit www.CartoonNetwork.com because they usually have decent games made in honor of their television shows. Some of their older games aren't very good but most "my first game ever" games aren't.

That said, I ran across a somewhat Zelda-like nostalgic game (albeit MUCH easier than Zelda) sometime last year and couldn't beat it. The game is called Puffy Treasure Island (in honor of the Puffy Ami Yumi cartoon show):

Puffy Treasure Island Game

Somewhere during the process, I started taking screenshots and started building a map in Photoshop. I eventually ran out of time to work on it and had to get back to doing real work. This weekend I started clearing out my hard drive and doing a bunch of "odds-and-ends" tasks that have accumulated over the past 6 months and ran across the partial map. Last night I set out with determination to finish the game and create a visual map:



Click the foll…

Is it me?

Is it me or are Microsoft Knowledge Base (KB/Q/whatever letters they choose to use) articles just vanishing from existence? I'm looking for a specific article and it no longer exists - anywhere. It is referenced from about 50 or so places on Google and several times in MSDN itself but Microsoft has apparently deleted it and no one bothered to quote the code contained within anywhere.

I'm wondering if this is an intentional move in preparation for Vista's release. Silently destroy old KB articles forcing companies to spend lots of money in support calls to get the information again only offered through, say, private channels so repeated cash flow comes in through their technical support call centers.

Anyone else having problems or is it just me?

Symantec injunction against Windows Vista

Symantec Corp. (owner of recently acquired Veritas Corp.) is suing Microsoft Corp. and is attempting to gain an injunction to stop the release of Windows Vista. Or something like that. You can read the details here:

http://www.infoworld.com/article/06/05/18/78482_HNsymantecvista_1.html

In my opinion, Symantec is making a fatal mistake here by suing Microsoft. I have yet to see a company sue Microsoft that actually gets Microsoft's attention and then survives the squishing that follows. Frankly, Symantec, owner of Norton Antivirus, should leave Microsoft well alone. (And if you own a copy of Norton AV, you might want to consider finding another company for your AV needs before you hear a giant squishing sound coming from the Symantec corner). Compared to Microsoft, Symantec is a little tiny bug to be eventually stepped on. Symantec is only rushing to their fate by suing Microsoft.

Historically, companies that sue other companies are usually in the final throes of life as a company. Th…

NoWindow

I figure that I should probably do something productive so I don't appear to always be Mr. Doom-and-Gloom. So, I'm going to review a piece of software I ran across recently. It is called NoWindow:

http://www.adsciengineering.com/tools/nowindow/

This application has almost no Google PageRank and I found it only by pure accident. NoWindow's purpose is to start any application without displaying any windows. It is the perfect tool for system administrators that have long-running scripts that sit on web servers. It relegates console Windows running things like PHP and Perl scripts to run hidden behind the scenes.

I'm actually surprised that there are no similar applications out there. I have actually contacted the author of NoWindow and v1.1 was the result of that contact. The author is quite a nice guy and is very willing to make modifications and accept patches for the application.

The amazing part is that the application is only a couple hundred lines of code. Very …

World's largest database accessed by NSA

AT&T is a fairly well-recognized brand name. And with the recent merger with SBC and the uglification of it's trademark, it is even more recognized...mostly for the ugly-looking trademark. At any rate, there apparently has been some really underhanded stuff going down:

http://www.eff.org/news/archives/2006_04.php#004538
http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/

AT&T apparently stores over 300 terabytes (yes, terabytes!) of information internally at the company and has given access to the NSA to process the data. The NSA, for those who don't know, stands for National Security Agency - a federal agency that answers to the government but still has to abide by the law.

Essentially, the EFF is crying foul (and I agree) because just about everything done on the AT&T network is recorded in that database. One of two things should happen: AT&T should restrict access to just themselves or allow EVERYONE to access it (both the "good guys" and the "bad guys"…

Windows Vista delayed to 2007 and here's why...

People are speculating why Windows Vista is being delayed - yet again. Jim Allchin said in February, "Vista is feature-complete, but the company [Microsoft] still has a lot work to do on it."

Now what do you suppose that means? Well, there are a few things I can think of:

1) Graphics work. The icons still have to be finalized - a lot of them haven't really been modified yet to use the shiny new Vista look-and-feel (i.e. 256x256 PNG icons - which are not compatible with most resource compilers).
2) Textual finalization. Choosing the right words for each dialog and UI element.
3) Documentation additions and changes.
4) Creating a consistent theme throughout every single area, nook, and cranny.
5) Move the Network Identification dialog to yet another obscure location. (Sorry, running joke - each version of Windows seems to move this dialog to a completely new and unexpected location requiring IT admins to play the digital equivalent of hide & seek).

6) Bugs. Zillions of bugs. …

Caught red-handed...

Amazing. My book has only been out for a couple months and someone has the audacity to ask me directly if they can pirate it. Here's the message I received:

-------------------------------------
hi,
i m new to this group...
May i know , from where i can get the following books
for free ?
Is there any site , from where i can download ?

Thanks in advance
Manish

>"Accelerated C++" by Koenig and Moo
> "Safe C++ Design Principles" by Thomas Hruska
> "The C++ Standard Library" by Nicolai Josuttis
> "Effective C++" by Scott Meyers
> "More Effective C++" by Scott Meyers
-------------------------------------

Basically, this person stuck their hand in the cookie jar while I was already getting a cookie. Figuratively speaking. I don't think it gets any more blunt than that.

The thing is, I am a fairly lenient person. If someone can't afford my book "Safe C++ Design Principles", then they need to e-mail me and propose a c…

Why scams work...

Seth Godin has a blog worth reading if you like my style of writing. He's opinionated. I'm opinionated. He's right. I'm right. He talks about business. I talk about software development. He gets to the point. I blab like a journalist. Or an idiot. Pick one.

Anyway, a recent article on his blog caught my eye:

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2006/03/
the_return_addr.html

In the article (albeit very short), Seth admits having no clue why mail scams work. Unfortunately, I know exactly why they work. Here's the lowdown:

Once upon a time a relative of mine received some junk mail. Now this relative was the type of person who had to have two of everything. This sort of behavior is also known as the packrat mentality. It is important to note that if someone who has packrat mentality can't immediately locate at least two items, they will buy another one just to be sure.

Now this particular relative was also an elderly person. It is important to note that as a person g…

Food changes

I like to know that when I make food that it will have the same taste and texture 100% of the time. That is how I know something is done right.

I don't know if you have ever experienced this, but I can taste subtle differences in both taste and texture. I am every food company's worst nightmare - from cereal to ice cream to even rice. Don't mess with my choice in rice.

Which is exactly what Uncle Ben's recently did. In fact, there was no warning that it was "New and Improved" - they simply changed it. And for the worse. See, I like their Fast-Cook (5 minute) Long-Grain and Wild Rice with Chicken Kiev (and I'm kind of picky about that too). However, a couple weeks ago I had some and it tasted terrible. Of course I'm not one to judge instantly - I gave them a second chance before deciding to contact the company. The taste was awful. The texture was terrible. And it didn't absorb the butter sauce of the Chicken Kiev like it used to.

Actually,…

Security IS Simple

At the recent RSA conference, Bill Gates said, "Today, we're using password systems, but they simply won't cut it." This was after he presented Windows Vista and its new supposedly-secure architecture.

Uh huh. I don't buy it. For one simple thing was overlooked at the conference: Vista's core graphics engine is based on DirectX (specifically Direct3D). Game developers and programmers have been using DirectX since it practically came out and it STILL is not stable. For example, some of the best minds designed, wrote, and released the Half-Life game engine (a.k.a. "Source") - and it took them all of five years to make ONE game...and it crashes randomly (can even freeze up the PC so that a hard reboot is required)! Microsoft is making claims that it can shift a fairly stable graphics architecture (GDI) over to DirectX in under two years. I don't care how many people Microsoft throw at Vista. The core of DirectX isn't being fundamentally re-writt…

Eliminating web advertisements

I've discovered the perfect solution to removing advertisements from 99% of all websites. Well, I've known about the solution for a long time but only last night found the last piece to the puzzle.

A little known aspect of Windows computers is the 'hosts' file. Linux people use this file all the time for various purposes just because Linux is all about editing configuration files. Gag. Anyway, I've known for some time that I can eliminate advertisements on the web by poisoning my DNS cache via a modified 'hosts' file.

At this point you are wondering about various things like, "What is DNS?" "What is a DNS cache?" "What is DNS cache poisoning?" I'm so glad that you are asking smart questions like those instead of clicking the 'back' button. DNS is short for Domain Name Server. Basically, when you type in www.yahoo.com, a query is made to your ISP's DNS server to obtain an IP address for www.yahoo.com. Usu…