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  • May 31, 2006

RSS Feeds

While enjoying the Memorial Day weekend on the Oregon coast, I came across this scene and just started laughing.

Aside from the work that I have to do for a living, which most would say is considerable, I’ve been buried in too many cool things to do. So to bring you (notice singular, I don’t expect I have a huge following) up to speed here is what I’ve been upto.

First, I’ve installed Office 2007 beta2 and have been trying to use it as my RSS reader. I’m sure with all the eye-candy the new version of Outlook will appeal to many, but I was looking for something that would make my life easier. I originally sought out the beta after hearing it mentioned on an episode of The TabletPC Show podcast. The feature mentioned that sounded so cool was that the new Outlook would not only scan your RSS feeds, but download the actual webpage as an attachment so you could read it offline. I thought if that was possible, I could consider taking public transportation to work. The reason I don’t now is that it takes me 15 minutes to drive to work, but for some reason our public transportation system require 45-75 minutes and two bus changes to accomplish this feet. If I could use that time to read my feeds then I wouldn’t be wasting the time. Anyway after days to wrestling, the beta version of Outlook will indeed download the webpage and save it as an attachment, but there is no way to display that attachment in Outlook. It’s just like Microsoft to go 95% of the way to an awesome solution and leave the last 5% hanging. I guess if I was an entrepreneur I could get rich doing the last 5%, I just don’t have the time.

Within all this, one of my favorite little companies goes and acquires the US portion of a company that owns a graphics program I’ve been dying to try out. DAZ Productions is one of the few purely internet companies that I have ever been a repeat and delighted customer of. I’ve been a Poser user since version 3, back when DAZ was part of Zygote and Poser was made by MetaCreations. Anyway, MetaCreations imploded after Kai Krause (an awesome software architect, best remembered for Kai’s Power Tools) left in 1999 and his legacy of fine graphics packages were scattered to the four corners of the internet. But that is a matter worthy of a much larger post altogether. Since then I have continued to use Poser as it passed from hand to hand and along the way became a loyal and repeat customer of DAZ Productions. I have an Outlook reminder that fires every Monday morning to remind me to go out and download the weekly free model there and in the past I have joined the Platinum Club for a year so I could buy a bunch of models at fantastic discounts. Anyway, the first thing DAZ did after acquiring Eovia was to celebrate by selling Hexagon for $1.99 to all existing Platinum Club members. After downloading the trial version. I reinstated my Platinum Club membership for another year ($99.95) and got my copy of Hexagon. For those used to doing surface modeling ala Wings3D, Hexagon rocks! Then DAZ announced that they were selling Carrara for $99 (after Platinum Club discount), I was in heaven. Now, with Hexagon, Poser and Carrara, I have an arsenal of 3D Modeling tools, not to mention a slew of free models that DAZ gave me for renewing my membership, plus more that I bought with their $35 voucher.

To top that all off, I’m becoming a Second Life addict. I read a blog from my favorite Co-host of my favorite podcast where he said he had bought land in SecondLife. So I have been hanging out at his place, building and scripting. At one point I started working on a skyscraper, but I quickly hit his prim limit and was stopped at the first floor, I don’t yet understand what that is, but I’m learning. Anyway, I left him an orb with a greeting card, but as near as I can figure he hasn’t seen it yet. It’s still there, so he hasn’t deleted it. I don’t want to make it so big that you can see from space or anything so I guess I’ll just have to be patient. Aside from that I’ve been wondering around (you can cover a lot of ground with a teleporter) like a Pack Rat collecting virtual copies of every free model, texture and animation there is and then spending hours organizing and sorting and culling duplicates. I’m sure this behavior is OCAR related but I can’t help it.

So this turned out longer than I thought, but there you go. That’s why I haven’t been blogging recently.

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  • May 19, 2006

Dads @ Microsoft organized their first movie night. We all gathered in a larger meeting room, ate pizza and watched Chicken Little. A good time was had by all.

Micah, Abigail and Hannah

Lydia

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  • May 11, 2006

Welcome to the new digs. Stretching myself to learn new things, I’ve changed over from managing my website with my own custom written ASP code against an Access MDB backend to using WordPress’ solution written in PHP against a MySQL backend. So far so good.

On installing IE 7.0 beta, I noticed that all my website’s RSS feeds were broken. Not being one to shy away from desperate measures, I’ve blew away my WordPress installation, killed my databases and started fresh. Unfortunately this didn’t fix the problem. Turns out the RSS feeds were failing because I had an extra carriage return in my wp-config.php file. Apparently this makes the RSS feed unparsable for Microsoft. I have fixed the problem and I am contacting them about it as well.

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  • May 6, 2006

While Mommy was away at a Ladies Conference, the kids and I blew the dust off the motorhome and took it for a trip.Abigail, Micah, Hannah and Lydia

The kids enjoyed stepping out of the motorhome into a forrest.

Micah

Micah climbed anything that didn’t move. 

Slug

Abigail found all sorts of interesting creatures. 

Lydia and Micah

And everyone enjoyed throwing rocks into Puget Sound.

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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.