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Welcome to AWS January 10, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Today I moved my “highly used” blog over to an AWS EC2 server. Much of the content was originally created using the now dead “live spaces”. Because this site receives such a large volume of visitors (ha!) I am not going to bother scrubbing ALL of the image links. Many of them still work, but a significant number have been broken.

I’ve been experimenting with a Chrome browser extension over the last week. I want to do a write-up of it. It is kinda cool in some ways. The way Chrome handles the OOB communication is fairly easy to work with and I created mine using Lua. I expect that doing it with Java would be even easier. For “fun” I tried a bash script too. It is “do-able” but wow, you have to really be a glutton for punishment to do anything substantial.


Life, the Universe and Nothing? June 1, 2013 at 2:02 pm

I really haven’t spent much time with my web servers or domains over the last few years. I haven’t really had the time.

I’ve written a lot, but not things that I am ready to publicly share at the moment. Facebook has more of my recent musings, but nothing overly long, just a little history.

None of the systems I have worked on in the last few years have had any real “web-ness” to them. I approach a crossroads in my career and I have been looking into the Amazon Web Services, Redis, 0MQ, and “a bunch of other stuff.” The thing that strikes me as annoying is all the “cute” names like Hadoop.

I am certain that I could not come up with better names, but the learning curve for the technology is stymied by the lack of “good” names. Things like AMPQ are “bland,” but descriptive. MapReduce at least describes the pattern but you have to KNOW that Hadoop is an implementation. mongoDB? Mongrel2? These names are as bad as Silverlight (IMO). Talking about a technology requires a short cut name. The idea behind a “code name” is to obfuscate a technology. Keeping the “code name” as a product name is just as bad.

Which do you remember? HMOM / WBEM / WMI / MOF / CIM

I kinda “like” the acronym soup over a “cutesy” name.

To me the name Hadoop or ZeroMQ doesn’t mean much to me. Certainly doesn’t imply the power behind the abstraction and model. The only way to really undertand what the technology brings to the table is to delve into it.

It is easy to complain, but a solution is not something I can come up with. I’d stick with acronym soup. Mmmm

Just Saying… March 3, 2011 at 8:56 am


4 Kindles in one year? December 25, 2010 at 2:33 am

I am a reader. I like to read books. Mostly fiction and a large part of that is of the SciFi variety.  When I first saw the Sony reader I was tempted, but due to a lack of reading material I didn’t bite.  Later the first edition Kindle came out and again I was tempted, but I held out longer because a large number of the books I wanted still weren’t available.

By 2010 I was noticing over and over that most of the books I was buying on Amazon had a Kindle edition.  That and a long overdue trip out of the country presented the perfect opportunity to give it a go.

By the end of that 3 week trip I was completely hooked on E-Ink and more specifically Kindle.  I had tried the PC version of the reader on my laptop, but it is not the optimal reading platform.  I like to really read for marathon sessions (sometimes 4-5 hours) and sitting at a laptop is not overly fun.

When the iPhone 4 came out I got mine on the first day.  One of the first apps I downloaded was the Kindle Reader for iPhone.  Pretty cool.  I considered using only the iPhone for reading, but after a reading a few books while I was out I noticed a few things that made the experience sub-optimal.  Battery life is not really there for those marathon sessions and the screen is pretty small.  Without the tap to advance feature I would surely get exceedingly tired of flicking.  And reading with the device in my left hand is just not going to happen.

Then comes the K3 reader.  Just enough smaller and lighter to make single handed reading not a chore for me (either hand).  I was sold the day it arrived.  Then my first trip out the country happened.  On the flight back, the device was in a pocket and it got crushed making the screen unusable.  I had just enough time to log into the barely readable WiFi signal and download the book I was reading onto the iPhone.  That was convenient because it would have sucked having only 5 chapters left in a book for a 24+ hour travel day.

When I got home I ordered my 3rd Kindle for 2010.

I am currently traveling again and of course I would take my favorite reader platform!  Guess what happened?  Yes, nearly the exact same thing.  Sigh.  The Kindle 3 is just too fragile for me.  I have murdered 2 of them now.  The second time I was even more cautious, but obviously not enough.

Why after all of this am I likely to buy another one when I return home? I am a reader and the Kindle reader is the best current platform for me to read a book.

What I like about the Kindle 3:

  • Light Weight
  • Battery that seemingly lasts forever
  • Easy to hold in either hand and read
  • Reading in daylight is a snap
  • Adjustable font size and page layout options
  • Ability to have lots of books in one package.

What I really dislike about the K3:

  • Fragile as all get out without the leather cover and I am not a fan of reading with the cover on.

What is awesome about the Kindle “universe of apps:”

  • I almost always have a phone with me and my books are right there with me if I find I have to wait in a long line or whatever.
  • Syncing books between devices is very handy so I can read a chapter on one device and switch over to another when it is around.

Kindle for the long run?

Once a vendor comes out with a device similar in nature to the iPad, but with the weight, readability in sunlight, and battery life as the Kindle I am certain that my Kindle will fall into disuse.  Until then the Kindle is definitely my preferred reading platform.  The nice thing about that day is that Amazon should “have an app for that.” 

There are a few things I don’t like about the Kindle and Amazon’s platform but I think those are mostly just because I have made a large investment in dead trees.  I am used to owning the books I read.  The reality for me is that I rarely ever read a book twice.  (It happens, but not often.)  Will I be sad if Amazon goes belly up and all my content is lost?  Yeah.  Will it be the end of my world?  Unlikely.  To me the benefits of the convenience outweigh any risks (including killing a third device).   

I’ll be ordering another when I return home.  Know anyone that wants two Kindles with dead screens?

Amazon replaced my second device that failed.  After I described the exact scenario that caused the second failure they decided it should be replaced.  If you notice on one the TV commercials a user slips the device into a back pocket.  Given my experience with side pockets (cargo pants) I don’t think placing the device in any pant pocket is a wise idea.

Holidays December 24, 2010 at 5:09 am

Working in an industry that tends to have a large number of people from various countries around the world, I am not overly surprised by the fact that different groups of people assign meaning to different parts of the year.

December in my household growing up was always a family time even if we didn’t assign special meaning to a specific day. Yeah, we participated in the capitalistic gift giving and we generally had a tree, but we never went to any Christmas mass or spent any time thinking about the Christian meaning behind Christmas.

I am in Thailand for the holiday season. Given my personal background it is interesting to contrast how at least one area of the kingdom celebrates the December holidays.

I lived in Arizona for a number of years, so the weather isn’t the only difference. Palm trees, sandals, and reading on the beach are a little different but nothing you couldn’t experience in Hawaii. It is late Christmas Eve here at the moment and if I was in the US there would be a high likelihood that going out would be almost a pointless endeavor. Many stores and restaurants would be closed. Here I will be dining out just like I have most nights and probably even go to a bar or two. Tomorrow the cleaning service will be around to clean my rented condo and I wasn’t the only customer on the list. Try that in the US. I happened to be in Miami on Christmas Eve after a Caribbean Cruise and had to eat at my hotel.   Only a few places will be closed.

Every time I go into the mall I hear western Christmas music. I find this amusing on multiple fronts. From a tourist perspective it seems to me that Eastern Europeans and Indians outnumber those of us from the West/UK/AU/Etc. I perceive it to be out of place in a country where Christianity is a minority. Seeing the tree’s and lights are also nice touches, but I really find the snow men exceedingly incongruous. Most locals probably have only seen snow in photos. I haven’t asked, but I also wonder how those from the east (think Russian) feel about hearing only English Christmas music. Yup good old Bing signing Rudolph has been “enjoyed” numerous mornings while in Starbucks.

I am certain that having another reason to encourage shopping isn’t a bad thing from an economic standpoint. Isn’t that what Valentine’s Day in the US does? It would be interesting to see a little more Asian flare put on the Holiday IMO. At least maybe some Thai lyrics to Rudolph or Sleigh ride would be an interesting touch! That makes me chuckle too. A sleigh in Thailand would be quite the site.

I also wonder how merchants handle this in Phuket. There is a much larger Muslim population in the Southern part of the county.

Anyway, I am off to watch the fireworks that someone is setting off. I am sure the “Gregorian New Year” fireworks will be much larger but I just have to see what they have for Dec 25th Eve.

Software December 3, 2010 at 10:59 pm

I am feeling nostalgic tonight and thought I would write a little about my history as a person that “makes computers go.”

I’ve been a developer of software for most of my life.  With the exception of failing miserably to run a business for a few years in starting in 2002, I’ve been programming computers from the age of ten.

It all started when my mom suggested I take a computer programming class one summer.  The computers they had were those Apple II machines.  The editor left a lot to be desired and the screen the school had was challenging to look at for extended periods of time, but that one summer class was the genesis of my career.

Later, I saved all my money from my paper route to purchase a Commodore 64.  (Yeah, back when I was that age “they” actually allowed kids to ride around throwing newspapers at doors early in the morning.)  I delved into Basic and wrote programs for my Junior High School.  It got to the point that my programs started taking up too much memory so I learned how to program 6502 assembly and completely rewrote a simple grade book program in assembly so I could use the extra 8k of memory “under” the basic interpreter.

It wasn’t until High School that I ever touched a PC.  Our school had a lab of PC Jr machines.   High School introduced me to Pascal on the mainframe we had. I didn’t do much with those.

In college I was introduced to C in 1989.  K&R was all the rage and I wrote my first C program on a AT&T 3b2.  When the school library offered Turbo C 1.5 and later 2.0 for a really good student discount I built my first PC computer.  A super fast 386sx 16 with a whopping 1mb of memory, a floppy drive and CGA card.  I was styling!  That puppy could boot DOS, create a RAM disk and copy Turbo C onto a RAM drive!  That was awesome!

Much later in 1990 I was able to afford a HUGE 40mb MFM hard disk.  Wow!!!!  It was with that setup and later a VGA card and monitor that I started learning this “new thing” called C++. Borland had released a compiler for this new revolutionary (too many) way of programming .  I figured this new language would be all the rage.  Ha!  It wasn’t until 1994 that I wrote my first chunk of code professionally in C++.  C++ took a number of years to gain momentum and become the power house it is today.

Even Windows took many years to become something useful.  I got Windows 3.0 for a Christmas present from my Mom later that year.  I was one of the lucky ones.  I had the “huge” hard drive and a VGA monitor.  Was I styling or what?  I went with AMI Pro as my word processor of choice.  I had used Word 5.0 for DOS (my college thought that Word was better than Word Perfect) but choose AMI pro in the Windows world.

It wasn’t until 1993 that I started working with Windows.  The president of the company I worked for actually said that Windows was a waste of time in 1992 and I started looking for a job.  He found out, and let me go.  I went to work for the “competition.”  They were doing Windows stuff!

I still wrote code in C because it was easier to work in C with most Windows programs at the time.  (This little thing called documentation was all written for C guys and OWL was still “new.”)

In 1994 I wrote my last true C program.  That was also the year this new fangled thing called the STL was introduced and I fell “in love.”  The original documentation was challenging at best, and even though Borland had one of the best implementations around at the time, it still took me a while to get it working.  For the first time I didn’t have to code the logic of a list or worry about vector allocations.  Life was good for a few years.  (At least from a professional stand point.) I’ll write more about this time later.

And then I started working for Microsoft in 1996.  Winking smile It was one of the best moves I ever made, but it wasn’t without challenges!  The group I came to work for had this “fear” of the STL.  I didn’t listen and used it anyway.  Surprised smile That and templates were my “hero’s.”

I am going to have to continue this later.  My journey through MS has even more “intrigue” and  I even skipped over the machine I built for running this “New Technology” thing.


Why Marijuana should be legal… October 14, 2010 at 6:19 am

Have you ever played Angry Birds?  Have you ever played Cut The Rope?

The only way that I can think of how some one came up with either of these ideas was sitting around smoking a joint.  Dude, lets chuck birds at cannibalistic pigs.  Imagine a world where there is this monster in a box, and you have to feed it candy, but the boxes contain obstacles that would prevent the lazy monster from getting the candy and the delivery mechanism is dynamic strings and bubbles.  Really?

When I look at either of these (extremely fun, very creative, and addictive) iPhone games, I can’t imagine the thinking behind them.  LSD would be too dangerous and folks on Alcohol wouldn’t have the same minds set, so the only thing I can imagine is a joint.

Over a year later August 31, 2010 at 4:37 pm

My car is in the shop, it is raining and I had to take a bus home.  :O  What does that have to do with anything?  Nothing really.

I put off buying a Kindle or other E-Reader for a while because not enough content was available.  Back in March I purchased a Kindle so I wouldn’t have to haul a number of books with me on a trip I was taking and now I don’t want to read on anything else.  Why am I writing about this?  No reason except I hadn’t touched this blog in a while and I am a little “miffed” at the number of publishers that don’t yet publish on the Kindle.  It is fewer and fewer, but there are a number of books that I would have purchased had they been available.   I’ll still likely get them eventually (when the publishers wake up).  The only problem is that with the demise of the “local” (like B&N or Borders is local. ha) it is not as likely that I will catch a title and remember that the book sounded interesting.  This means that a few publishers have lost revenue from a sale that they would have made otherwise.  I wonder how long it will take.

I purchased my first digital camera in 1999 and now film is all but extinct.  Will book publishers embrace the inevitable or do what the Music and Movie industries have done to hobble progress?  Books painstakingly hand copied –> printing press –> “e-books.”  With the final technological hurdle finally viable the end of mass printed books is near.  I wonder how long it will take?

What happened to your local Block Buster Video?  I remember when video rental stores still had Beta!  Changes are a foot…

Anyway, I don’t have anything salient to write about so I rambled a bit.  Enjoy.

Sun-o-rama? June 7, 2009 at 7:01 pm

The last week was full of glorious warm sunshine.  This weekend proved to be more Seattle like for this time of year.  Not so much rainy as cloudy.

I’ve been writing long documents at work lately so I guess I am all "written out." I thought I would have more to say, but I guess not!

Longest in a while! April 19, 2009 at 2:43 pm

I haven’t been doing longer miles on the bike for a while.  Today’s ride was (by MY standards) a fairly short ride, but a good start for me getting back to being able to ride longer distances. 

I feel decent, but it was a challenge after about mile 35.  :) 


Mr. Symanski and I at the start of the ride.