Sunday, October 24, 2010

Awesome Ted talks

(plus some David Byrne worship, because he rocks)
(and Seth Godin at GEL, who also rocks)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fun music videos, mostly 80s

Some videos that are cool. No reason.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

JavaScript Roman numeral calculator

Yesterday I saw a homework question on a coding forum I frequent regarding turning Arabic numbers into Roman numerals. Homework questions are a strange breed. Most of the time the posters are blatantly cheating, some times they are up front that the question is for an assignment and they just want a push in the right direction. Responses range from helpful, following the Wikipedia "assume good faith" mantra, to cynical, to pretty damned rude. Forum admins enjoy flexing their dictatorial muscles in these cases, posting warnings, flames, and deleting posts.

My mantra in these cases is simple: If the question is interesting, I try to answer it. If the poster isn't cut out for a programming career, getting my answer isn't going to change that. If he is, he's going to be asking his peers a lot of questions over his career, as no one is born with an innate gift at coding; it's a learned skill like anything else. The young "super hacker" is generally the geek equivalent of a bully - not as skilled/tough as he pretends.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Korn shell hack of the day

or, "Scope creep and you, a typical example of the modern IT project"

Sometimes I find myself knee deep in a complicated shell script that probably would have been better off written in perl or Java. Today was one of those days. What started as a simple script I wrote for managing sftp traffic to a couple vendors has been transmogrified to handle calling Glub to do an ftps transfer (the "other" secure FTP) from a vendor, then delivering the files to an internal Windows share drive. So far so good, but feature bloat ended up straining my creativity to tackle each new problem, and ultimately saddled me with a workable solution that, while interesting, is sort of a stinker.

The connection to the Windows share was supposed to be via a mounted drive. I would copy the files to a Unix directory, and Unix would manage the SMB transfer transparently. This turned out to be unsupported by our data services group unless the Windows server in question was virtual. It was not. So suddenly I'm on the hook for adding SMB support to the process.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Picnic with the missus

Liberty got this cool wicker picnic basket on eBay a while ago, and we decided to take it out for a spin yesterday. One of the better side effects of "bill week" (when your bills all come due at once, and your budget spreadsheet looks a little scary) is that you can find fun money savers that double as relationship builders.

Instead of spending $20 on a movie and snacks just to sit in the dark and be quiet, let's go out for a walk in the sunshine and talk to each other... for free. Instead of stopping for greasy fast food somewhere, or spending more at a better restaurant, let's cook up some food for lunch, and take it with us somewhere. In this case, "some food" was steak cut into strips and fried up with pepper, sweet Italian mini bread, cheddar cheese cut into slices, some green onion, and a refreshing carbonated beverage (the basket has a cool separate area for bottles), and "somewhere" was Highbanks park.

When we got there, we found a long trail that didn't seem to have a lot of people on it, and proceeded to hike around looking for unofficial exit points: Good places to hang out that are accessible, hidden from the trail, but without signs saying not to go there. What we found was here: