Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Parental definition for Recursion

Recursion: noun- The process of defining a function or calculating a number by the repeated application of an algorithm.

After dinner last night my kids decided to have a game of Serpents et Echelles (it's a spin on Chutes and Ladders). My eldest missed the first game, and waited for the second game. This was the start of the second game;

"I want to go first!" Kassie said. "
I didn't play the last game."

"Kyle won the last game," my wife replied. "He should go first."

"I want to go first!" Kyle stated as if it was part of the Constitution.

"But I didn't play in the last game," commented Kassie breaking out her acting lessons and selecting the patented Kim Possible puppy-dog pout. You know, the one that works on anyone that doesn't live in the house and see it hourly.

"I want to go first!" Kyle restates with enough emphasis to ensure the entire NATO assembly could hear him without any amplification.

"Alright!" My wife's tone reminds me of Bill Cosby's skit with the wife wielding the yard stick. "You each roll the die and the one with the highest roll goes first."

"Ok," agreed Kassie. "But I roll first."

"No I do!" said Kyle.

At which point I started laughing my @$$ off. So much for the diplomatic solution.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Make Firefox work for you....


I love to tinker but unlike most folks I end up tinkering with software. Could be off programming something or just exploring what I can do with an application. Although I have been using Firefox since before v1.0 I hadn't played with too many extensions that changed the UI any more than the tabs.

That's changed.

It started by changing how the Navigation and Button toolbars looked and has resulted in the browser you see. No menu bars, just a button. No navigation toolbar, just the pieces I need. Simple, for me - and simple for you too if you have some time to tweak. All it takes is one extension, one theme and a some simple changes.


Yes, that little button to the far left is all of my menus - sorta. This is the Personal Menu Extension. When you click on that button it opens up the menus I have configured it to show (you also configure which menus you want shown when you right click anywhere on your button toolbar) Mine opens up and looks like the image to the right.

The extension allows you to hide all or some of your menus and configure how you want them displayed. How often do you use all of your menus? I hardly use most of them, so this gave me back a lot of space.

The theme I use is Noia 2.0 (eXtreme). This changes the buttons, colors, etc. of the browser. Nothing huge, except that it makes the scroll bars and tabs much more compact giving you back more space.

Finally we have the pre v1.0 Firefox trick; merging the Navigation toolbar into the Menu toolbar. If you look closely you'll notice that I have all my icons, search bars, etc. on one line, not two (or more) as you would expect. I merged the things I use and removed those I don't.

I wish I could find the original tutorial, but I'm having no luck with Google. Here are the basic steps, if your curious ping me and I'll write them more comprehensively.
  1. Right click on your tool bar and go to Customize
  2. Drag the URL and Search boxes up "one line" and park them next to your printer icon
  3. Click Ok
  4. Rick click on your Tool bar and clear the check mark next to Navigation Toolbar
That's it. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Final impressions of TaskSwitchXP

I had written about trying the TaskSwitchXP product from NTWind previously (see here). The product is pretty cool, and works as advertised. It has a lot of neat features and integrated nicely with my XP2 system. And it still got uninstalled. Finally, one quirk brought it down; the delay after switching applications.

Every time I'd switch programs there would be this 2 to 3 second delay before I could use the application I switched too. It was annoying as I switch applications and start working immediately. Having that delay was slowing me down too much, so it had to go.

If someone knows how to work around that, let me know. Everything else in that app was pretty cool and non-obtrusive.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pandora shoots! Scores!

Oh no, next it'll be a buyout. Still, this is very cool for Pandora!

Microsoft's MSN has turned to music-upstart Pandora to recycle and rev up its free online radio service.

In the last week, MSN quietly re-launched its online radio service powered by Pandora, a music recommendation engine that lets people create custom radio stations and discover new music related to their favorite artists or songs.

Come again?

Well Bill O'reilly is being himself. This quote comes from one of his discussions of gamers and seemed to be spurred by his version of getting on the PS3 bandwagon. I doubt he made may friends outside of his own circles.

My favorite from GamePolitics.com's coverage was this gem;
I don’t own an iPod. I would never wear an iPod… If this is your primary focus in life - the machines… it’s going to have a staggeringly negative effect, all of this, for America… did you ever talk to these computer geeks? I mean, can you carry on a conversation with them? …I really fear for the United States because, believe me, the jihadists? They’re not playing the video games. They’re killing real people over there.
I guess if your going to attack gamers you might as well hit geeks as well. Clearly he doesn't realize how many geeks keep his show, his car, his local ATM, his credit card, etc. running. Also, he's forgotten facts. The jihadists do use video games; wasn't in MS Flight Sim that some of them used to work on their pre 9-11 skills?

And here I thought you could only find this kind of rant on the internet. *evil grin*

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Irony?

I'm still curious as to why the FBI put, someone described as, a polygamist on the top 10 most wanted list. I'm pretty sure it's not due to what the press is grasping onto. Whatever the reason Warren Jeffs has been in custody since his capture in August. I'm guessing this is like catching Al Capone on tax evasion, we'll see.

Still, it does have some interesting comedic value. In this FoxNews article you can read a bit about the current goings on for his trial, and the part that cracked me up;

The leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is being held in a jail in the town of...
... Purgatory

Monday, November 20, 2006

Some more info on the e-Voting stuff....

Slashdot has a nice Q&A with Herbert H. Thompson, PhD. (Google search). It was a good read. Mr Thompson believes that the bigger problems aren't the muppets creating the software (tell me why someone would use an unsigned value in a voting system?) but in the people purchasing and using the systems not understanding the risks that are being allowed.

For example....
One glaring example of bad procedure is 'sleepovers', a practice where voting machines are sent home with poll workers before an election to make the process of transporting them to polling places on election day easier (see http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9002204 for some info on this). If one were dealing with a box to hold ballots, 'sleepovers' wouldn't be a problem because the morning of the election a group of poll workers could inspect the box and verify that it was empty (including the old false bottom trick; see 'Stuffer's ballot box' at http://americanhistory.si.edu/vote/paperballots.html). If election officials knew the risks of tampering with some of these electronic voting machines (just search Slashdot for 'e-voting' for examples) then a voting machine sleepover suddenly seems like a pretty bad idea.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

QotD

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.

- Buddha

(From the Buddhist QotD site)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Testing your connection speed.

From time to time I mess around with sites that allow you to check your upload and download speeds. It's a good debugging tool, and a good verification that your service provider is giving you "close enough" levels to what your paying for.

Check out SpeedTest.net - I was even able to check the difference in speed from my work (London based server) to here. No wonder my DLs have been slow lately.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Where is Reality?

A friend had me check out the Google Freedom to Fascism (can also hit the website). It was very thought provoking and has me curious about a number of things. Like any video of this type, it's left to the person watching to find reality. I don't present it here as a fact, truth, or my personal belief -- but as a challenge to your own beliefs.

It's a 2 hour watch, and may be in your local theaters, and worth sitting through just to have yourself left with that "If half of this is true, it's frightening" feeling.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Who needs horror movies....

This Google video is an HBO special entitled "Hacking Democracy".

Scariest thing I've ever seen. Walk into a warehouse, hack a few memory cards, and walk away with no audit log. Man I hope they fixed that...

... but how would we know if they did?

Monday, November 06, 2006

The more things change....

Standing amongst the smoke from the fires all you could see were tents, fires, food and conversation all the way back to the road that lead into the area. Fires would occasionally flare up from cooking to bonfire status and the whole area had a haze about it showing how long the various camps had their fires going. Smells of different food came from all over.

With a little rework I could really make that sound like the Medieval scene I wanted it to, but my head is too lagged out after last nights Colts @ Pats game. This was my first live NFL game. A very cool experience. We were out tailgating before the game, then did the mini-tour of Gillette. Finally we settled in to wonder where both teams left their defense and whether the officiating crew forgot a layer of clothing and were throwing flags to warm up.

Next time, though, I'm taking the morning after off. Took me half an hour to realize that my Dilbert calendar was on the wrong day; "Is that why the date on the email doesn't look right?!"

*goes off to find more caffeine*

Friday, November 03, 2006

This is going to be WoW lore heavy, so you've been warned. I just /gquit the guild I've been with since April. Long story. This was my leaving post.



Another day, another dark conspiracy or madman. It had been this way since you were a kid starting out. You had thought that when you were of age and joined one of the Alliance guilds things would change. How naive you were. After finding Onyxia running the human city of Stormwind, and defeating her, you had thought things would finally get easier. No such luck. The Guild was assigned to defeating the Dark Iron Dwarves and things got really dark. Still, you couldn't stand idly by as the world was engulfed in another war, so you walked again into conflict. This time against the mountain stronghold of Black Rock Depths.

You passed the shattered doors without noticing them, the Dark Iron had long since pulled back into their strongholds within the mountain itself. The hall was clean today, it looks like the truce with Horde was holding and the battles to see who would battle the Dark Iron were stopped, at least for today. Alliances come and go, and you have seen this hall littered with the dead and dying many times and expected nothing less.

As you passed into the main ring of the citadel, you could see that the battle still raged. The eerie red glow of the magma made the various races seem surreal. Guilds assigned to fighting the Dark Iron passed you, focused on their own goals. The Injured were being tended to, and dead were being stripped of armor and weapons, before being tossed into the magma far below.

As you walked onward you came upon one of the Alliance IronForge Dwarves, sitting on a rock near the giant chains that act as bridges to the forges below. Although not unusual, you felt drawn to the Alliance Dwarf. As you got close you could see his chain mail alternated between being fused together and covered with blood. His axe lay next to him upon the rock he was sitting on. He seemed lost in thought, but his head snapped up as you approached.

He stood slowly. The sound of his armor grinding together made you wonder how he could move. The battle must have been vicious to fuse the metal like that. In a single movement he was standing, axe in hand, and moving toward you. As he got closer you could see giant slash marks across his chest. They looked like claw marks. He slowly secured his axe, and took his helm off.

It was his eyes that caught your attention. While the rest of him looked scarred, almost charred really, his green eyes showed more sorrow than any creature should have to endure. Even with that sadness was a strength, a resolve, to do something. You could feel it radiating from him as he approached.

When he was close enough, he clasped your hands. His grip was firm, but you knew that he would let you go if you moved away. His hands were wet ��� and you knew that feeling. You shuddered, quickly thinking about how you were going to clean his blood off your hands. His dark red beard was tangled with things you didn't want to know about. His head, shaven, was splattered with blood or rust, you couldn't be sure which. As he turned his head to look into your eyes you could see that his face was dark, not from the dirt that covered it, but from some sadness within, and as he spoke you could only feel the dread of his words.

"In da end friend, it wasn't da steel dat let us down. It wasn't too many enemies, or not enough friends. In the end, we lost faith." As he finished, he looked down at where he held your hands and let go. "I lost faith."

He put his helmet on and moved off into the crowd. You couldn't help but look down at your wet hands, expecting them blood stained from the Dwarf. Instead, you saw a pristine white fabric. Your shock instantly turned to curiosity as you unfurled the perfectly kept item. What could have survived the Dwarf's battle and not be torn or covered in blood? As you held it up, you recognized the shape, it was his Alliance Guild tabard. You quickly turned and looked for him to return it, to ask why, but he was gone. You handed the tabard to one of the many couriers and continued onward to catch up with your Guild to prepare for battle.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bob Barker, Come on Down!

Bob Barker is retiring from hosting the Price is Right. I can't imagine anyone easily filling his shoes.

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Bob Barker is heading toward his last showcase, his final "Come on down."

The silver-haired daytime-TV icon is retiring in June, he told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

"I will be 83 years old on December 12," he said, "and I've decided to retire while I'm still young."

He'll hang up his microphone after 35 years as the host of "The Price Is Right" and 50 years overall in television.

Eerily enough, he's hosted this one show longer than I've been alive. Not sure which aspect of that scares me most. *laughs*