Tag Archives: nerd

Notice anything different?

Well, besides the sporadic outages over the past week.

I changed hosting companies, and one of the side effects was that the database that powers this blog was having locking issues.  So, I upgraded to a better database engine, and, man, this site is now SNAPPY.  Pages and posts load very quickly compared to when it was running on the old box.  As cool as a self-contained, fully-managed, filesystem-based database is, it can’t match the performance of a server-based database.

Anyway, enough geeking.  Back to your regularly scheduled lack-of-blogging-from-yours-truly.  🙂

Starbucks + AT&T = Teh Rad

This is good news.  Whenever I'm traveling and I need to check my email, I'll generally head to Starbucks for a cup of joe and to tap into the T-Mobile wireless hotspot.  However, at $9.99/day, the access fee always ticked me off (though never enough to prevent me from paying for it).  I have never needed 24-hour Internet access at a Starbucks.  Why the heck couldn't they offer a smaller time period for less money?

Well, now they do.  Except "they" is no longer comprised of Starbucks + T-Mobile; "they" is now Starbucks + AT&T:

At Starbucks, T-Mobile is out and AT&T is in, at least when it comes to WiFi. AT&T and Starbucks announced their new partnership this morning, saying that the carrier plans to offer a variety of service offerings at 7,000 Starbucks locations in the US. Best of all, many customers will be able to access the service for free (as in beer), with paid offerings as low as $3.99 for two hours of use.

Ah, sanity momentarily returns to the land of overpriced breakfast sandwiches and macchiatos. 

I'm not an AT&T broadband subscriber (monopolies are a bitch (SureWest does provide excellent service, though)), so I don't get to surf for free, but $3.99/two hours is still a welcome change.

Good move, Starbucks!


In case you hadn't heard, Microsoft has offered to buy Yahoo! for a few pesos.

If this deal goes through, my only hope is that they continue to fully support Flickr, Yahoo! Mail, and del.icio.us, as I use those three applications at least once per day (and in the case of YMail, about every 15 minutes).

Sheesh.  $44.6 billion?  That's ridonculous.

Big Brother is watching you

When I was a wide-eyed freshman EE student, I had a great idea for a senior project.  I was going to devise a patrol car-mounted system that would automatically detect the speed of an oncoming car and, if it was traveling above the speed limit, my system would snap a picture of the license plate and automatically generate a ticket for the owner of the car.  Obviously, I didn't think this through very far, but it was a fascinating idea to me at the time. 

Then, around the end of my sophomore year, I got bitten by the programming bug.

Bye-bye vehicle-mounted automated ticketing sytem, hello Web apps.

Well, it looks like parts of my idea are coming to fruition*:

The Sacramento Police Department will receive an award Wednesday for its high-tech license plate reader system during a ceremony recognizing outstanding accomplishments within the public sector's information technology community. […]

The system allows a computer to read license plates in real time and compares it with information on stolen and wanted vehicles in a police database, Young said.

Patrol cars outfitted with the license plate reader are equipped with three external camera systems, which constantly scan license plate images during routine patrols. The images are then transmitted to a computer database and processed. The system notifies the officer if a match is made.

That's pretty sweet… and pretty gnarly, too. 

I suspect that it's only a matter of time before they're able to tie in GPS, radar, and video, and make each patrol car an automated hammer of justice.  Drivers, beware.

* To be clear, I had nothing to do with the design or implementation of Sac PD's new system.

Click-to-activate going the way of Clippy

If you've used Internet Explorer in the past ~1.5 years, you've no doubt been inconvenienced by the fact that you have to click on Flash animations/Java applets/etc. to get them to work.  Well, no more.  Great news from the Internet Explorer team today:

Back in April 2006, we made a change to how Internet Explorer handled embedded controls used on some webpages.  Some sites required users to “click to activate” before they could interact with the control.  Microsoft has now licensed the technologies from Eolas, removing  the “click to activate” requirement in Internet Explorer.  Because of this, we're removing the “click to activate” behavior from Internet Explorer!

This isn't an earth-shattering announcement by any means, but I'm still very happy about it.  Just one less annoyance I have to put up with in my daily life.

The only downside?  You likely won't get this update until April 2008 or beyond.

Latest Google Ninja Feature: Weather

Well, I doubt it's new, but it's new to me.

You can get a weather forecast for your ZIP code just by typing "weather <your ZIP code>" into Google.  So, if you lived in Rocklin, you'd type in "weather 95765", and you'd get this.

So rad.

Google, taking over the world, one little convenience at a time.

I am such a nerd

So I preordered Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows back in … February?  *clickety-clickety-amazon.com-click-click*  Yep, back in February.  It was supposed to show up today, the day of the release. 

Previously, when we preordered Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, it showed up a day early, so when HPDH didn't show up yesterday, I wasn't too concerned.  I figured, Hey, Saturday delivery, sweet!  UPS and Amazon are on the ball!  There's no way they're going to deprive hardcore HP fans of the 7th and final book on the day of its release, especially when they preordered it the day it was announced!

10am rolls around.  No UPS guy.  No big deal.  The day is young!

12pm:  No book.  I'm getting antsy.  Blood sugar levels are getting low, and I'm getting cranky.  Better feed myself to take my mind off of the book.  Going to Mr. Pickles for a hot pastrami sandwich.

3pm:  Still no book.  My nerves are frayed.  I have developed an eye twitch, and that pastrami sandwich is really weighing me down.  I should take a dump.

3:02pm:  Bathroom break.

4:32pm:  Bathroom break over.  Time to resume my vigil by the front door.  When the UPS guy comes up the walkway, I'm going to pounce!

5pm:  I decide that there's no way in HELL that the UPS guy is coming today.  I just KNOW he is maniacally laughing his ass off at this virtual wedgy he has bestowed upon the HP nerds all over the greater Sacramento area.

At this point, I take matters into my own hands.  I have to have this book, and I have to have it today, so I jump into the car and high-tail it over to Target.

I pull into the parking lot and jump out of the car.  I run straight toward the book section, body checking a 10-year-old and his grandmother along the way.  I locate the Harry Potter DH display.  It's empty!  No, wait – there are two left!  *Tiger Woods fist pump*  CRISIS AVERTED.

So come Monday, I will have two copies of the latest Harry Potter tome, and assuming I stay coherent for the next 30+ hours subsisting on nothing but speed Red Bull and gummy worms, I will have found out what happens to Harry and Voldemort before it gets plastered all over the Internets.


7:22pm:  As I write this, Homer decides to unload the contents of his stomach all over the floor, right in front of the TV.  That is a special dog, I tell you what.

Update 2007-07-22: 

Evidently, UPS decided to ship the book to our local post office, who then stuck it in our mailbox.  It arrived yesterday, the day it was due to arrive.  D'oh.

Dream Job

Other than being a full-time dad, this is pretty much the closest thing to a dream job in my line of work that I have seen in my 8-ish years as a working adult:

We are now looking to hire a talented web Development Engineer to join our growing team at dpreview.

You will be passionate about digital photography and possess a strong understanding of dpreview, our principles and our community. Being a self starter with good design and user interface skills, you have at least two years demonstrable experience of web development; we will expect you to be able to have extensive experience in ASP.NET 2.0 as well as fully integrated client-side Javascript and hand-coded HTML (reliance on WSIWYG editors will be seen as a negative).  We will also expect you to have experience of SQL databases, specifically Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and 2005.

That's totally the job for me. 

And it's totally in London, with no telecommuting option.