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  • April 23, 2006

SecondLife EvolutionI’ve been spending a lot of my free time these last few week playing in Second Life. Micah has been teasing me whenever he sees me just checking email or browsing the web he says, “Dad, why aren’t you living?”Anyway, while wandering around Second Life looking around and copying everything that wasn’t tied down (i’m a pack rat, digital or otherwise), I came across this evolution display in The Forest of Kahruvel, Cowell (182, 73, 26). And it struck me that this illustrates perfectly the pointlessness I see in the Evolution/Creation debate. Both sides are trying to explain the world in terms of what they know, arrogantly asserting that what they know is indeed correct. And therefore over confident that they can build on it to create theories about things they know nothing (or very little) about.

It’s just as silly as someone in Second Life asserting that the Second Life world is built out of geometric primitives and that the Avatars share these same characteristics and therefore must have “evolved” from these simple primatives into complex sets of geomteric primatives. That’s just silly. Any graphic developer would tell you that this would be very ineffecient and that the Avatars are more likely spline based freeform surface models. Anyway, my hat goes off to whoever created the display, it made me think and reflect. That’s what good art does!

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  • April 20, 2006

I almost never use my homepage, in fact for the longest time I always set it to about:blank. I typically launch my browser by pressing the Windows-R key and typing the url in the run box. I am now trying to change that habit because I have finally found a great homepage. POPURLS.COM is the one stop shop for what is happening in the world. This is the newspaper of the 21st century. Breaking news stories are ranked by my peers and mashed up together in one place. While Flickr and Google Video become the new comics section. Coupons, Crosswords, Sudoku and so forth are readily available elsewhere on the internet. It’s awesome, I’ve never been this statisfied after reading a newspaper.

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  • April 19, 2006

Beagle Bros SoftwareI’ve been waiting a long time for this. Microsoft has annouced that Visual Studio 2005 Express Edition will be free permanently. Finally I have a chance to proclaim that Microsoft has done something very very good. Not since I owned an Apple //e was I able to write programs at the same quality as professional programmers (remember the Beagle Bros). For the last couple of years I have used #Develop for all my C# development. The biggest reason was because it was free and if anyone asked me how they could write programs like mine, I could point them down a successful path. Before that I was a big fan of HTML Applications for the simple reason that they were free to develop. I’m convinced that free access drives innovation.When I was in high school, I worked for a contractor who had taught himself Basic and had written a program to help him bid jobs more quickly and accurately. Next thing you know he’s running a business and hiring programmers (me and my friends) to rewrite his app in C. Later, in college, I worked for Price Club and was surprised (then) to learn that when they had first started out, they had a position in the warehouse called the EDP operator. This person would run the evening reports on the cash register system which usually printed out on cash register receipt tape and then they would enter it, by hand, into and AS400 terminal. One of the early EDP operators taught himself Basic and started writing all kinds of apps to speed up the process as well as enable him to do more in his position. Eventually, his programs were adopted across the company and he was promoted up to corporate headquarters where he designed new system that professional programmers (me and my coworkers) would implement and deploy.

I firmly believe this is a big reason that Linux has really taken off. It’s not that its particularly better (I’m a geek remember, I understand the religious arguments on both sides), but rather the fact that its particularly accessible to students and hobbiests without deep pockets. I know people running ISPs that spend tons of time running their business on Linux boxes. They’d love to run Windows Server 2003, get regular updates on Windows Update rather than scour the internet for patches that they then have to recompile. But the fact is they can’t afford to do it any other way. Frankly, it boggles my mind how my webhost can do it and make money.

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  • April 12, 2006

Darpan Gogia has an article on .NET Decompilation and Source Code Protection. I’ve used ildasm a few times before to look into the details of other peoples programs, but it never occured to me to use it to aid porting a project from one managed language to another.

I was kind of disappointed that he mentioned a rather poor product in the last section of his article that proports to provide protection for .Net assemblies by merely precompiling your IL to native code, thus losing any optimizations you might gain from JITing it on it’s intended platform. I’m hoping Darpan was just trying to be thorough in his article and doesn’t seriously endorse this stuff.

My webhosting company is very good, but for some reason they have this one nickel and dime feature. I can have as many domains as I want pointed to the root directory of my account. However, if I want to point a domain to a subdirectory of my account, they want to charge an additional $15/year. Since I have 4 different domains (soon to be five) pointed to my account and being OCAR (obsessive compulsive anal retentive) I was driven to find another way to do this and save myself the annual $60 tax for being lazy and stupid. So what did I do? I start hacking. Most of my techie friends and I use the term hacking to discribe the process of trying to jury-rig a solution together to work around the limits of a technology.

I had seperately decided to use WordPress on each of my sites to make updating quick and easy. During the installation I read in the online documentation (Real men may not read directions, but real geeks at least scan them) that you could share the same database with multiple installs by merely changing the table prefix in the wp-config.php file. So I was thinking if I could just hack the wp-config.php to change the table prefix based on which domain I came in on, I’d have me 5 websites all running on one hacked installation of WordPress. The first thing I needed to do was learn some PHP. It took me less than a second to google extensive documention on PHP including a few samples that I could cut and paste into an index.php and upload and run on my site. In under an hour I had pieced together the code and had everything up and running. The reason I call this hacking is because before this, I knew nothing about PHP and now I still know almost nothing, but it works. 🙂