Category Archives: general

General catch-all category

What annoys me most about Flash…

Is that it doesn’t pass Alt-D (or any other hotkey for that matter) to the browser. Like most developers, I use hot-keys as much as possible. It slows me down if I have to reach for the mouse all the time. And when I’m browsing I hit Alt-D a lot to get to the address bar. It’s faster for me to start typing a domain name and have Firefox autofill it rather than getting into my bookmarks.

This is just yet another way that Flash breaks the browser experience (back button anyone?).

Back From Mexico

I know it’s been a while since I posted so this will be the first of many about our recent trip to Disneyland and the Mexican Riviera. Some of you that know me will be shocked but I literally did not even log into the work VPN since I left on vacation. It was tempting at times but I knew I’d felt compelled to answer e-mails and that’s not exactly a vacation if I did that. I also went the 7 days of the cruise without checking the Internet at all. On the last night I relented and used up my sister-in-law’s satellite minutes in the Internet center and caught up on my g-mail. Only 255 e-mail threads in 7 days. Whew.

A quick overview of the trip:

If you’re going to Disneyland, just pony up and pay for hotels at Disneyland. It’s easier. Staybridge was nice but using and trying to schedule things based on the shuttle system there is a definite let down after staying at Paradise Pier (next to the Disneyland hotel) the first time we went.

It’s cold the first two days of a Mexican Riviera cruise. Seriously. You don’t expect 60 degree weather and 60 degree water (which they use to fill up the ship pools) when you’re on your way from LA to Mexico. Who would have thought?

Mexico = LOTS of street vendors.

Zip Line Canopy Tours at Chico’s Paradise = LOTS of fun.

If you take a cruise tour to Mexico avoid the cruise ship ports if at all possible. The street vendors really come out of the woodwork there. Either just take the cruise ship tours or plan ahead to do something away from where the cruise ship dumps you.

7 days on ship = 3 lbs gained.

Ukrainian waiters named Stanislav are amazing dancers. Who would have known?

The dolphin encounter in Puerto Vallarta was pretty cool. Allie was totally fearless with them and let one of them kiss her and then shake her hands with its fins. The facilities at Cabo are pretty sweet, though. I would do it there next time probably.

I will probably not go back to the Mexican Riviera anytime soon unless I am going with folks that know how to avoid all the street vendors. I was going to scream if I had to say no gracias to another person offering me a water taxi to the beaches.

Seeing old world Mexico was actually the most interesting to me.

Seeing Home Depots and Wal-Marts in both Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta was a little strange to be honest. The fact they looked nicer than the ones by my house were even stranger.

Seeing my daughter go up on stage and dance with the Mariachi band was one of the highlights of the trip for me.

Carnival’s going out of their way to tell you that only one of their ships in the fleet (and not ours) has their kick-ass waterworks attraction is shitty. Shame on you Carnival.

Things are not dirt cheap in Mexico. I knew that going in but seriously, don’t go there expecting bargains.

Interesting fact I learned: Mexico exports oil but imports gas. They have no refineries. Hence, their gas is expensive.

Carnival claims to like the environment by trying to get you to re-use towels (which I do anyways) but then they go out of their way to print every friggin’ photo in the world in the hopes that you’ll buy them. Why don’t they just have a system where they scan your ship card (your ID while on the ship) and assign the photos to them and let you look at your photos via computer kiosk and then just order whatever size you want them in? On top of that they could do a deal with ShutterFly or some other online vendor so you could order them after the cruise was over if you missed one. Then they’d only print what people actually bought and not every friggin’ photo. Seriously. Yeah, I believe you Carnival that you care about the environment.
*wink wink* The accountants at Carnival realized photos are their biggest profit center so they have gone overboard on photos. It was just stupid crazy overboard.

Carnival’s kid care program, Camp Carnival, is actually quite good.  I was pretty impressed with it.  The fact that Allie couldn’t wait to go there was also a plus in my book.  The 90 minute formal dinners were too long for her and the kids program has a kids dinner so she wanted to eat there most nights.  They’ll take the kids until 10pm with no extra fees other than what you paid for the cruise and then only $6/hour after that.  They seemed to have plenty of counselors for the number of kids I saw and they give you a pager or cell phone if they need to get in touch with you.  Thumbs up.

Yokway Coming Soon

Some of my friends, Stephan and Cyril, from my days at Vignette (Epicentric before the acquisition) have been building this site, Yokway, and they sent me an invite today. I gave it a try and it’s pretty cool. Louis Gray posted about it a while back and has a really great write up. The basic idea is that you trust your friends a lot more and are probably more interested in what they have to say other than people like, say, Robert Scoble.

When someone posts that you have subscribed to you see it in your feed along with their comments about the link. You also see comments and ratings by other people that have subscribed to their link. It will be interesting to see how this works if you subscribe to someone that is very popular and the comments get huge. The way the interface is now it’s hard to see if it has tools to help deal with that. Scrolling through 100 comments on a post would start to get a little daunting.

Along with seeing the link you can also add it to your “memory” which seems to be the same as starring something in Google-speak.

Overall I think it’s pretty slick and is an interesting take on social bookmarking and knowledge sharing. It’s very mature looking for a closed beta. I’m looking forward to it when they get more users behind it. I’ll let you know when it’s open for public use.

An Odd Side Effect of the Google Calendar Sync module

I installed the Google calendar sync tool when it came out recently and I have it working pretty good. The one side effect is that I had to login in to my work e-mail address Google account and then give my normal Google account permission to change/manage that Google calendar and then put the work calendar into my normal account’s Calendar view. It works pretty slick now but it definitely could be documented better. Non-geeks are not going to do well figuring this out.

The strange side effect that I noticed however is that each time it runs it adds like 60 calendar entries into my deleted items folder. They are all set with a start time of 12/31/1979 and a meeting time of 4:00pm to 4:30pm. So after running this for a while I have 17000+ items in my deleted folder. It’s a good thing I noticed this. I’m guessing that each entry corresponds to an entry in my calendar and that it’s used as some sort of temporary calendar object used during the sync but it’s really just a wild guess.

This is probably something that needs to be fixed. 🙂

Update: They have fixed this!

Run From This Job Posting (FAST)

I know bad job postings are a favorite topic of mine and I stumbled across another one that made me laugh today. Here’s the link but I’ll also copy the relevant sections below. Job posting.

This position is scheduled to start in August once we go through the rigorous hiring process. At that time you will be a full time contractor and we will retain you for a minimum of 5 months. Beyond that and through the successful launch of the product we will be transitioning all team members to full time employment positions. Equity will be granted for those that join our team but only after we have gone through the trial period. Compensation for this particular position will be $4,000.00 per month. Yes it is the Bay Area and we are all used to making more, but startups require risk and the willingness to take chances and we are looking for those candidates because they are the ones that will make it through the good and bad times with us.

Okay, why is this bad? First off, they’re hiring you for 5 months at $4,000 a month. Contracting with no benefits should pay at least that a week in the SF Bay Area. There is no equity for 5 months. They have no obligation to hire you. They could just drop you at the end and walk away without even blinking. If you’re going to work for that little amount of money for the skills they’re asking for you should be getting guaranteed equity (if that’s even a good deal).

There are other reasons to be suspicious of the people doing the job search because of the following skill set they want:

• Extensive experience in J2EE technologies, with a strong understanding of the common design frameworks like Struts & Spring.
• Deep understanding of query Tuning concepts, Web Security concepts like Man in Middle attacks, cross site scripting, sql injection, phishing etc.
• Extensive experience in configuring and deploying applications on JBoss, clustering
• Extensive experience with Apache
• db admin tasks like db clustering, db configuration etc (mysql)
• Experience in working with build utilities like Ant & Maven
• Automated build systems like cruise control
• ability to write db components like Stored procs, Functions, Triggers etc for MySQL
• basic Understanding of networking, and ability to work with SANs

First off, how many people with killer database skills also understand cross site scripting attacks? I can tell you that list will be pretty damn short. On top of that they’re not really even looking for a Java developer based on these skills but more an operations and system engineer that has some Java coding. They have one line dedicated to Java and it only mentions Spring and Struts.

Run, don’t walk, from this job posting. Seriously.

Holy Comment Spam, Batman!

It’s insane how bad comment spam has gotten on blogs.  My blog is not high traffic by any stretch of the imagination.  I get anywhere from 10-20 uniques a day.  Sometimes it will spike if I post something interesting but lately I’ve been pretty quiet.  Even being quiet I am getting almost 100 spam attempts per day.  I can only imagine what popular sites go through.

I recently added an additional tool called Bad Behavior that blocks the spam before the attempt is made.  In its first 24 hours it has already blocked 48 attempts and Akismet caught another 40 or so that made it through Bad Behavior’s first screen.

I also plugged in the dofollow plugin since I’ve read how the rel=”nofollow” attribute can actually cause more spam to come at your blog rather than less.  I figure it can’t hurt.

I wonder how much spam attempts bog down some of the larger blog sites.  It really has to be nuts.   My current employer will most likely face a spam onslaught at some point when we start to ramp up traffic.  I’m not looking forward to that.