Too Much Going On Can’t Think

Woah! While it may seem like I haven’t posted in forever so therefore nothing must have been happening, quite the opposite is true. There has been so much going on in the past week-and-a-half I’m going nuts.

Woah! While it may seem like I haven’t posted in forever so therefore nothing must have been happening, quite the opposite is true. There has been so much going on in the past week-and-a-half I’m going nuts. I want to blog about all of these things, but I do not have any time right now to do so. I am looking forward to this weekend so bad… Okay, here’s a short list in only somewhat of an order:

  • Angela and I went to Paris, France! They speak French over there and it’s awesome. It is an incredible city and so much fun to just walk around, which we did lots of. I have roughly 1,000 photos, and I am going to have put some of them up on Flickr as soon as I get the chance.
  • Angela and I celebrated three incredible years of marriage yesterday. Of course, we only got to see one another for a few hours at dinner due to having to get our buts back to work. Still, making some time for one another is how we make the whole thing work.
  • I went to a Tim Kaine 2005 rally for the kick-off of his campaign for Governor of Virginia last night as well. This was not a let down, but I had to leave a little early to make it to dinner with Angela.
  • I have had a shit-storm of work to do lately, on top of trying to study for my SE exam next month. I love my job and I hate my job at the same time.
  • Today is my dog, Harry‘s, fourth birthday. I’m Angela is going to pick him up some doggy ice-cream on the way home from work.
  • Trey has updated both Synthetic Rabbit and Gridge’s web sites. This on top of retooling Megan’s site last month. I’m sure he’s sleeping well at last.
  • Star Wars Episode III trailer. So Badass. The best part, what we don’t see means there is so much more: Jimmy Smits & Natalie Portman, for starters (just short flashes)

And even more that I can’t think of right now. Many posts coming soon, and I hope to write a long article on our trip to Paris. Does anybody know how to get 26 hours in a day, because I need it?

Wil Wheaton’s Not Dead

I happened accross Wil Wheaton’s site today and I can tell already, he and I are going to be good friends.

I happened across Wil Wheaton‘s site today and I can tell already, he and I are going to be good friends. No, Wil, I’m not going to be stalking you. Plane tickets to L.A. are too expensive right now. However, Wil has a cool site that is all his own. Yep, that’s right. A Hollywood type that does his own web site (down to the code). I suppose many people already knew all about his site, but hey, I can’t read the whole interenet. If you go to the site, you don’t have to read too many posts to learn that Wil is quite the good geek, and not just about coding. He’s a fan of the dark beers, a good liberal, and actually gives a crap what people have to say. Oh, sure you can chock that up to the typical vain, left-coast Hollywood stereotypes, but I did mention he likes dark beers. Explain that away easily. Also, he’s hosted a couple of episodes of "The Screen Savers," which is pretty silver-back for geekdom.

The reason I came across Wil’s site in the first place was reading Garrick Van Buren‘s "Wish List", which credits Wil for. This is a great idea. I’m one who has on many occasions set out personal life-long goals. Many of which were over a beer with friends, and have long since been forgotten. Here’s a list of such goals, out there for the world to see, that can easily be re-visited from time to time to (in Wil’s words) "see if you’re living your life, or just existing." Not a bad idea from some flaky L.A. guy. Okay, I hope you realize that I’m being facetious now.

Anyway, Wil’s getting added to my "Elsewhere On The Web" section of links. I don’t know most of these people and they sure aren’t getting most of their traffic from me (if so, Kottke’s going to starve). However, they’ve all got good sites with something to say. So, if you get bored reading my site, you really should click through to them. I know they’d appreciate you spending some time on their sites as well. Angela will be happy at least. She can easily go check up to see what Wesley Crusher’s been doing since TNG. Oh, and I knew Wil wasn’t dead; that was just a joke. I know, it’s not funny to joke about that sort of thing.

A Byrd In Hand Is Better Than Two In The Bush

Senator Robert Byrd (D- WV) got a lot of flack in the news this week about some statements he made speaking out against the so-called "nuclear" option in the senate. I find the Senator to be far more rational-minded than many give him credit for.

I am all too aware of Senator Robert Byrd‘s (D-WV) former affiliation with the KKK. I chalk it up to the stupidity of youth. Lord knows our current and former presidents did a lot of dumb things in their youth. (They’ve done some very questionable things even much more recently.) Is it fair to use this man’s past as a lens by which to view him? I think that’s at least understandable, if not entirely fair. However, since the man is 88 years old and he was allegedly a member of the KKK in the 40’s, let’s assume he’s learned something since then and forgive the man that. He’s done a lot more good than harm since, particularly if you live in West Virginia.

More recently, though, Byrd got hammered for loosely comparing the conservative’s all-out takeover of U.S. government to that of the Nazi party after WWI. However, today Senator Byrd wrote an op-ed piece for the Washington Post that shows he is a man or reason and consideration; exactly the kind of individual the Senate deserves. He is known among senators as having vast knowledge of the rules of the senate and it’s place in history. Furthermore, long speeches ranting about the over-extension of the Executive bringing back memories of Nazi Germany aren’t exactly new, aren’t limited to Senator Byrd, and aren’t common to just the Democrats. They’re seems to be a few blow-hard Republican Senators who have been down this path before, as Wonkette points out (well, in a round about way). However, this is no different than the Republicans complaining about the left’s lack of stand-by-your-man support of the President in a time of war, even though they trashed Clinton when we had soldiers dying in the Balkans and in Somalia.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

However, just because he is the Senate’s most vocal opponent of doing away with the Senate filibuster, he’s getting some special attention. This may be well onto it’s way of becoming the conservative blog’s next trophy head on the mantle wall. I truly hope not, as West Virginia needs all the fiery populists in the federal government it can find.

Now, to the real story here: why the hell does anybody want to do away with the filibuster? I know it’s a thorn in everyone’s side at some time or another. However, don’t we all know that our time to benefit from this eventually swings back around? This is just another example of extreme short-sightedness, of which both parties are so often guilty of. This is a very dangerous road to go down just to get some judge nominees approved by the Senate. Go watch Mr. Smith Goes To Washington if you need to feel the importance of the filibuster and why it’s an important element of the American government. It allows deliberation. It requires consensus on very heated matters. It helps to prevent tyranny of the government. Oh yeah, it makes sure that America doesn’t end up like Nazi Germany, no matter which party is in the White House or controls Congress.

Tech Support For Real

Sometimes, toll-free tech support does exactly what it should: help the customer solve their problem.

[UPDATE 3/16/05: I finally sent my Garmin off and they returned it, repaired, within about 4 days. Not bad.]

Garmin Forerunner 201 - Courtesy of Garmin.com

Garmin Forerunner 201 – Image courtesy of Garmin.com

I mentioned on my running page that I have been having trouble getting my Garmin Forerunner 201 to talk to my PC via the supplied serial cable. (First of all, I’m not real crazy that Garmin is using that 1980’s-crap technology for their cool little device.) For some unexplainable reason, the Garmin just doesn’t get detected on the port. I’ve tried it on several PC’s and no luck. I even asked Philip Torrone, the gadget masta, if he knew of any problems. Other than his was sometimes finicky, he didn’t say that he’d ever had one that just refused to play at all.

I got around to calling Garmin’s toll-free tech support number today to see if I could get the device checked out. Well, just like you no doubt, anytime time I call a tech support number I dial with my teeth grinding. I am just waiting for them to tell me it’s a windows problem or PC hardware problem. Of course, that’ll be after I wait on hold for 20-30 minutes, occasionally being reminded of the importance of my call and how FIFO works.

Sometimes, toll-free tech support does exactly what it should: help the customer solve their problem. Linksys used to be great about getting you right to the people who could help you with your products. Their routers got pretty damn popular and then they got bought by Cisco. Now, you have to wait a while and they might tell you that it’s a Windows or ISP problem when you’re connection is bad. Plextor has absolutely incredible service. The last time I called about my new DVD burner, the guy I talked to explained the conflict with some pre-loaded software on my pc and walked me through the problems. He even game tips on making sure hyperthreading was turned on for my P4. I thought he was going to give me tax or child rearing advice next.

I’d have to put Garmin up there in the category of "tech support that actually helps." The first time I called, they sent out a brand new serial cable, AC adapter, & cable bracket. No run around about warranty or pawning me off to Microsoft (not everything is their fault). Unfortunately, the new cable didn’t work either. Today, they went back over the usual suspects, determined I’d done everything I could, and gave me an authorization number to send back the GPS unit. No trouble. Sure, I’ll pay some shipping costs, but that’s no real issue. (The thing weighs 4oz., with packaging.) With any luck, they’ll fix it and send it back to me (including all the data I’ve logged into it… the reason I need the serial connection to work). Worst case, they replace the unit altogether. Either way, Garmin is a good company to do business with.

I mentioned Philip Torrone above, and I wanted to include a link to a photo of his dog. Just click and you’ll see why.

The Coal Men On The Web

Talk about Cool. The Coal Men have four videos of songs from an accoustic set for a CMT show of up-and-coming country artists. I don’t regularly watch CMT, but it’s great they have stuff like this.

Talk about Cool. The Coal Men have four videos of songs (Windows Media) from an acoustic set for a CMT show of up-and-coming country artists. I don’t regularly watch CMT, but it’s great they have stuff like this. I honestly had no idea. I just happened to follow a link from The Coal Men‘s home page, and there they have it. The CMT series is call New Voices No Cover, and it actually seems like a pretty cool idea. It’s nice that someone down in Nashville is pushing stuff other than Top 40 crud.

Anyway, check out these videos. They probably won’t win any cinematography awards this year, but they’re pretty good quality. It’s like getting to watch a concert of Dave and the guys. Now, if only my older brother Stephen would post some video’s online. It’d be like a little tele-reunion.

My Rental

Slushy Road
Originally uploaded by super_structure.

I took my truck in yesterday to have some service done (minor recall crap). The dealership gave me a rental for the day, which turned out to be a Mazda 3. Okay, it’s not Ferrari or anything, but much nicer than the broken down Ford Focus they gave me last time. Anyway, it’s a really nice little car. Very sporty. It even has manu-matic shifting (or whatever Mazda calls it) like my truck. Unlike my truck, it has red & black interior with carbon fiber trim. The dash is all submarine-sytle red lights. Even thought it’s a small car, I thought it was very comfortable. It did feel like large bumps might make it take air pretty easy, though. Unsettling for a guy who usually drives small sport utility vehichle.

Speaking of which, they had to replace the trim-work on the A-pillars of my vehicle. Come to find out they didn’t provide a whole lot of padding in an accident. Of course, isn’t that what seatbelts are for? Anyway, the problem is, on a Freelander, the A pillars are already pretty massive and this didn’t really help. They now have a sort of aerofoil shape to them, which is larger and far more dangerous looking than the origional trim. I didn’t think to ask the dealer if I could keep the old plastic… Oh well.

Firefox Plug-ins And Searchable Markup

Today, I’m working on a Flickr search engine for FireFox. Why hasn’t someone done that already? Well, for one, Flickr isn’t really set up for external searches.

Flickr

Today, I’m working on a Flickr search engine for FireFox. I was really surprised that no one had thought to create one yet, give Flickr’s huge popularity. Okay, maybe I’m more of a fan that your average Joe (or Jane), but it does seem to be pretty hip with the kids. Anyway, these little search plug-ins are really pretty easy to write and they are extremely handy.

That being said, when you look at the code from a search from Google, you’ll notice little remark tags before and after each search result item:

<!--m--><a href=http://www.jasoncoleman.net/>super_structure | <b>Jason</b> <b>Coleman</b></a><br><font size=-1><b>...</b> And The Coal Men — singer Dave <b>Coleman</b> and cohorts Dave Ray and <b>Jason</b> Hitchcock [yada, yada, yada]<!--n-->

As you can imagine, those little remarks containing m & n make for very nice search strings. The set of search results for each page returned are also bound in similar remarks, with a & z (get it? From "a" to "z".). Yeah, anyway, most of your other sites don’t contain such luxuries (like, say, Yahoo). Flickr, sadly, has even less. The results from a tag search at Flickr, such as "cameraphone" don’t contain any deliminators to speak of. Of course, the idea here is that you just use part of the mark-up as a text string in your search for where an item begins and ends, but that doesn’t work so well. Of course, the natural markup would be <li> & </li> (Flickr uses <p>, which is the same for this argument), but alas, that’s no good when you add a class, id, or style which contain " ‘s (quotation marks). The problem is that those " ‘s truncate your text string prematurely. (Also, Firefox doesn’t seem to understand using &quot; in this context).

All this being said, I’ve submitted my little code to the Mycroft people at Mozilla, so maybe it’ll be up there soon. You can download the file right now from me, and just stick it in the \Mozilla Firefox\searchplugins\ directory and restart Firefox. You won’t have an icon just yet for Flickr. They like those to be downloaded from their site, as opposed to just any old place.

I think that Google’s use of the remark tags as deliminators is a pretty nice little feature that 99.9% of users never know about, but can benefit from because of features like the toolbar search in Firefox. If you happen to have installed the sidebar search, and have my Flickr search, then doing a search on a term in both Flickr & Google simultaneously will show you the benefit. Google returns results just like the Google page. My Flickr plug-in only returns the thumbnail (non-hyperlinked) and the creator (also, non-hyperlinked). I had found a way to include the title of the photo, but then the link for the result went to the creator’s "photostream" and not the individual photo. Is there a way around all this? I’m sure, but I’m not a good enough code writer to do it. Plus, I doubt most people even know about the sidebar search, let alone use it.

Up next, a search plug-in for Wired News!

Everything That Was Old Is New Again

I’ve got the site, well, looking exactly like it did a couple of days ago.

Okay, well… I think I’ve taken the 20-lb sledge to most of the look of the site, if only to get exactly back to where I was two days ago (before I upgraded to WP1.5). However, there’s some more power under the hood now, and hopefully I know a little more about what’s going on behind the scenes around here. I have to say, it took me forever to figure out how to tweak the HTML code of the link categories in the sidebar. Man, is that buried in here!

I have a long list of things to get to, and I’m looking forward to hearing from everybody as to what they think. That reminds me, you can cannot leave comments again (I’m so jealous of people who have blogs that work, right now). Let me know if you find anything broken. I hope to get the RSS feeds back again, soon as well. There’s always e-mail, although that’s so 1998.