Entries for January, 2006

I've hated on Flash for a very long time, but I will say this:

Streaming video through Flash is awesome.

But please, provide hardlinks so we can download the videos, too :o)

Posted by roy on January 1, 2006 at 04:10 PM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

The first big task of '06 for Tabulas is to get the support network working more smoothly. I've started rewriting the functionality of the administrator's control panel so I can automate upgrading/downgrading/deletions/etc. I spent yesterday and today writing the account deletion functionality, which was a bit nerveracking (one poorly constructed SQL query could wipe oute verything!)... I just tested it and implemented it... and I finally cleared the deletion queue from the last few months. The first step!

Right now, I'm running a program that is deleting all the unverified accounts (~15K) so the usernames will no longer be taken.

In any case, I've really been busting my butt (finally) on Tabulas. Things are starting to look pretty good for me, and I hope to have many news on that Tabulas front for you guys shortly!

For now, I'm going to let this program run so I can go to sleep. Tomorrow, more stuff!

Posted by roy on January 2, 2006 at 04:31 AM in Tabulas | 4 Comments

Google's homepage has this image:

Until I clicked it, I thought they were celebrating those little candies that come on the sheet that look EXACTLY LIKE THOSE THINGS. (anyone know what they're called?)

Update: I'm aware that Google is celebrating Braille's birthdate; when I was asking "anyone know what they're called," I was talking about the candy. Luckily, exodus found them for me: they are CANDY BUTTONS!. Those suckas were gooooooddd.

I crave candies now.

Currently listening to: Tupac Shakur - Runnin' (Produced By Eminem)
Posted by roy on January 4, 2006 at 01:10 AM in Ramblings | 10 Comments

If you're running Windows XP, please install this patch from Microsoft: microsoft path. There is a security hole that allows code to execute JUST from viewing an image... very severe security issue.

Save yourself the future headache ... who knows what kind of nasty worms appear from this security flaw.

Currently listening to: The All American Rejects - Change Your Mind
Posted by roy on January 5, 2006 at 05:56 PM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

I've been working hard at my job and in my spare time as well, trying to bring Tabulas up to where I want it; I'd have to say the first 5 days of 2006 have been awfully productive :)

This week I've mostly spent setting up the automated billing system at Tabulas and integrating it with PayPal. Prior to this week, all PayPal subscriptions were manually handled by me - when PayPal notified me that someone had created an account, I would change this in the database manually. If someone's subscription renewed, I was usually too lazy to update the database.

This, of course, is problematic. It also meant that almost no accounts were ever downgraded. NO NO NO! Bad ROY!

So now everything is handled automatically - renewals, cancellations, new subscriptions ... AND Tabulas will automatically upgrade/downgrade/send notifications for future renewals by itself... so this is a HUGE step for me. Any spare minutes I can scrounge up seem to go a long way lately (especially since my hours at my job have been increasing due to some deadlines coming up ).

And you know what's cool? THREE people signed up for Tabulas patron accounts today (I think it's the most in one day in a LONG time)... and all three were smoothly handled by the new system! Talk about karma :)

There was some time spent after work today getting all the old paid PayPal subscriptions into the system... boy was that a wreck. Luckily PayPal created a single .xls file for all subscriptions ... and I actually finally got to see how much Tabulas has made total. And guess what? Since it's inception, Tabulas has been nearly break-even (a smidgen of a profit!) given the high server costs I pay! And here I thought I was losing a BUNCH of money!

In any case, I'm hoping to launch all the work I did over winter break and so far in the new year onto Tabulas either this weekend or sometime next week.

Not only have I updated the automated billing system, but I've also created a very simple support ticket center (very very basic). Having all the help requests in one place (plus anybody can respond to any ticket!) will hopefully allow me to quickly answer questions and help resolve issues.

This will launch shortly, as well as the minorly revamped documentation section. No big changes there really (mostly aesthetic). I'm also trying to move items away from their own subdomains (help.tabulas.com) because it's a maintenance nightmare.

The new launch will also include the new home page, a new user directory (which will be a stripped down version of the existing one), the revival of the statistics page, and hopefully an extended "what's happening on Tabulas" page (this may actually wait though until I get the new control panel in place).

Basically in my mind, the next launch of Tabulas is partitioned into three components: display engine (shows your site), control panel, and "everything else." "Everything else" is a rather broad and vague category which encompasses both miscellaneous components (like the help center) as well as critical "network-friendly" features (like the API and Tabulets). This first pass will get all the really important "everything else" sites up - help, home, accounts, and support. Then I'll begin work (once again) on the display engine/control panel.

So I guess this post is my official announcement that I'm spending all my free time on the next version of Tabulas. I'll mostly likely do a review of all the existing work I've done on 2.1 and then take what i can from it.

So those of you with patron accounts, please stick with Tabulas for just a LITTLE while longer. I have some REALLY exciting plans and features that will make the existing version of Tabulas seem like crap (remember how big of a change Tabulas 1.0 was from 2.0? Well, I hope to have an even BIGGER change than that!)

Currently listening to: Lifehouse - Sick Cycle Carousel
Posted by roy on January 6, 2006 at 04:06 AM in Tabulas | 6 Comments

This past weekend, Yush, Han and I drove down to Atlanta to celebrate Nasty Nate's belated birthday. We went to Dave and Buster's, which is a huge sports bar/gaming/pool hall. There was a game called "Super Trivia" which allowed up to 6 players to play a 5-question trivia game.

There were such questions like: "The following quote can be attribute to which US President: 'If men were angels, no government would be necessary.' (a) Madison (b) Jefferson (c) Washington

After about five seconds, our answers were input into the game, and it turned out that only one of us got it right (meaning a monkey throwing darts could have done a better job than our group).

Of course, only a few minutes later, this following question came up:

"The hit 'All I Have to Give' is by which artist:"

I don't remember the choices, but I do remember that our answers all light up almost instantaneously, and all of us got it right.

So I guess the moral here is that although we Americans tend to be a dumb bunch of morons, we are quite cultured. (I wish there was a way I could indicate sarcasm textually, because I would probably abuse it here).

Here is a picture of Nasty Nate wearing the booty we got him with all the tickets we earned:

Currently listening to: Kanye West - Home (feat. Jay-Z)
Posted by roy on January 8, 2006 at 10:43 PM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

Tabulas account #80,000 was registered over the weekend.

According to Google, Tabulas is 1/10 the size of Xanga. Sure doesn't feel like it.

The above statistical measurement is a rough metric and probably has a deviation of + 1000%.

My prediction for the 2006: Year of the Tabulas

Currently listening to: Eric Prydz - Call on Me (Radio Edit)
Posted by roy on January 9, 2006 at 02:27 PM in Tabulas | 17 Comments

Ok, no more computer for me until work tomorrow. My vision has started going blurry (just my right eye).

Currently listening to: Madonna - Like A Prayer
Posted by roy on January 11, 2006 at 09:04 PM in Tabulas | 5 Comments

I thought I'd share my current AIM profile with you... I feel that on a humorous level, it is one of my strongest "funny" profiles.

Currently listening to: The All-American Rejects - 11:11 PM
Posted by roy on January 15, 2006 at 12:19 AM in Foolishness | Add a comment

To me, hearing the phrase "he/she is out of my league" seems ludicrous. It's buying into the idea that true love (which exists) is contingent on social hierarchies or a caste system. True happiness and success in any relationship is dependent on the goodness of two people, not what the two people do for a living or what type of background they have. That's not to say that certain factors can help (two people who are both working double shifts would have a hard time maintaining a relationship), but to think that the fact that one person is physically more attractive, or has accomplished more professionally or academically in life dooming a relationship seems laughable to me. The goodness of your partner is going to fundamentally determine the success of your relationship, not the pedigree of you and your partner.

Currently listening to: The All-American Rejects - Dance Inside
Posted by roy on January 15, 2006 at 12:40 AM in Ramblings | 9 Comments

I was going to update Tabulas' home page with the new design after I was done with my job work today. When I was testing stuff on the new server, I noticed that the current server only had PHP 4.2, which is incredibly outdated. Unfortunately, I'm also running Ensim 3.1.x which is finicky with its packages... so after trying to get PHP 4.4 installed, I gave up.

This led to me reviewing the current main server; currently the only sites on there are two sites I host (which could be offloaded onto more recent servers), tabulas.com, and a crapload of DNS entries. Generally speaking, I'm paying roughly $110/month for a poorly managed DNS solution.

So I've been looking around for a centralized DNS solution, and I found DNSPark. They sound pretty cool - I'm going to sign up and try them out for a random domain name; if they're good, I'll shift audiomatch and Tabulas over to them since DNS is pretty "mission-critical" stuff that I wouldn't trust with an untrained monkey (me) on any *nix system.

I've also been starting to shift stuff off of this server (jaymee.org, etc.) so I can shut down this old server. Hopefully by end of February I can phase this server out.

Now that I've gone around on this four-hour loop, it's time I get back to the immediate task at hand - updating the Tabulas home page.


Currently listening to: Metric - Dead Disco
Posted by roy on January 17, 2006 at 09:31 PM in Tabulas | 4 Comments

Edit: Sorry I'm posting this twice, but like a moron I accidentally deleted this entry. Luckily I had it crossposted to Xanga.

Sorry for any gramatical errors or rambling ahead. I have just finished a marathon all-nighter programming session to tie in what I've been busting my butt on the past two weeks after work and launching it and testing it and writing about it... so I'm a bit burnt. Plus I got work in two hours. Lovely.

I'm always at odds with myself because I fear change so much.

I think the toughest decision for any project is when it's moderately successful (as Tabulas has been) ... and risking it all for something completely new. By all means, I could walk away from Tabulas right now and be generally happy with how well it went - Tabulas runs well, people (generally) love the site, and it has a lot of features.

But I want to risk all of that. There's a huge fear that something I do may drive people away from the site - what if I introduce a huge bug that destroys everything? It's really scary. I think once you reach this moderate level of success, you'll do anything to protect it ... but I think this can become more of a drawback, so I'm making an effort not to worry so much about the consequences or trying to preserve the current stability.

I realized that I had passively been resisting attempts at changing Tabulas for quite some time now - I wrote my original Tabulas 2.1 manifesto in June of last year. I spent the following few months really busting my ass on the new version ... but the whole effort fell flat on its face (for various reasons I'll write about later).

The truth was I was really scared of releasing something and finding out it broke existing functionality, or people didn't like it, or blah blah.

But I took the first step today when I finally got to release the past months worth of work (it's taking it's toll on me with the additional pressure from my job lately) with the brand spankin' new Tabulas home page.

The reasons I had to change:

  • Building the new home page gave me the opportunity to start writing the tools that'll "bridge" between the old Tabulas architecture so I can slowly phase in a new backend (trying to rewrite the whole thing from scratch was a huge failure)
  • The new front page is much more consistent with what the rest of Tabulas will look like, plus I think it's MUCH cleaner
  • Subsections that were getting difficult to manage (like the old account management center and the old help center) have been combined with the front page which should simplify the number of "places" you have to go to get something done
  • There is now a support ticket system; this creates a "proper' channel for problems to go through.
  • There is also now a way to track what quotas your account has, plus information on past payments and when your current subscription will expire. One of my early tasks for 2006 was to get PayPal's IPN integrated with Tabulas - this means that when somebody pays through PayPal, Tabulas automagically accepts the payment, upgrades the user, and starts tracking the user. I used to have to manually handle all payments in the past, and it was a HUGE pain in the arse

This is only the first step - I am going to radically revamp Tabulas over the upcoming months - the user interface, features, everything. I have a feeling it's going to test the physical limits of my fatigue and test the emotional stresses from solitude, but I'm really excited from the hopes that I can realize my vision for an integrated publishing platform.

Time for a nap.

Currently listening to: Jason Forrest - War Photographer
Posted by roy on January 18, 2006 at 04:09 PM in Tabulas | 9 Comments

I thought one could only get sick from being in contact with people. Seeing as to how I've been locked in my room for the past few weeks, I wonder how I got sick! I've had a sore throat the past few days, and yesterday evening I just felt like total crap.

So I took today off - boy was it nice to sleep in, wake up, make some breakfast, and watch a DVD ("Love and Basketball"). And boy, did it feel good (although my body still feels crappy).

Posted by roy on January 19, 2006 at 12:35 PM in Ramblings | 7 Comments

Congrats to my baby sister for getting into UNC-CH! Just like her dear ol' brother, she got in one year early ... what an accomplishment given how hard it's getting to get in there.

Congrats, Anna, I'm so proud of you! :)

Currently listening to: Queen - we will rock you
Posted by roy on January 20, 2006 at 02:38 PM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

This is just too c*** to not share (I don't use the c-word).

From my new favorite website: c***overload.com.

Currently listening to: Britney Spears - Lucky
Posted by roy on January 22, 2006 at 01:33 AM in Ramblings | 9 Comments

I am a guy. Guys' wardrobes are relatively straightforward - polo shirts, button down dress shirts, t-shirts, and jeans. The hardest part of our day is determining whether a particular piece of clothing smells a bit too much.

Two of my friends (girls) recently join the YOPpies (young, old people [because we're not really old, but we're out of college, so we're not really "young" (yes, this is tongue-in-cheek)]) by getting their first "real" 9-5 jobs.

What I found amusing was that both of these girls weren't too worried about the job or moving ... they both expressed concerns regarding their wardrobe being too "small."

Now, when I went to Korea, Korean Airlines left my luggage in America... having exactly one change of clothes ... that is a wardrobe problem.

Naturally I inquired how much clothes defined a "wardrobe problem." Two weeks.

Two weeks?! 

I'm lucky if I can wear different clothes for a week straight ... much less two weeks. And these two girls aren't what I classify as the type who are overly concerned with looks ... which means there are girls who probably think that having one outfit a day for a month is not enough. 

I simply had NO clue how prevalent this phenomena was ... and how much work it is being a girl.

So you professional ladies, much props to you. 

(This obviously begs the question, "How does a girl keep track of all the outfits she's worn?" Is there some sort of sorting mechanism for clothes (like "clothes you wear end up on the right side?"). I've asked a few girls about this but have received no satisfactory answers - they all have said, "I just know if I've worn it."

While I'm on a clothes-related entry, I have fallen in love with wearing bathrobes. I bought my first one at Gap three weeks ago ... I then bought an identical one online so I can wear one while I'm washing the other.

I have literally worn that the past three weeks; my mom has started complaining that I am being rude to houseguests when I come down with my hair all mussled, wearing a bathrobe.

But boy is it comfortable.  

Currently listening to: Foo Fighters - Best of You
Posted by roy on January 23, 2006 at 06:55 PM in Ramblings | 9 Comments

Korean high school girls cannot defeat me.

There is a Korean girl that's been staying with us for about the past year and a half now; she's here in the States studying at an American high school (presumably to increase her chances of getting into into college here).

In any case, I don't really like her much. She's got this "me-first" attitude that totally pisses me off all the time. In any case, the past few weeks, she's been eating up our Internet bandwidth, which is incredibly annoying to me (since my job depends on having a nice Internet connection).

Last year, the Internet at our house was incredibly slow - I thought it was RR until I figured out she was running some P2P client. I told her last year that she could run the P2P client once in a while as long as she capped the upstream. She acquiesced, and I thought that was the end of that.

Until last week. The Internet became unbearably slow. So I asked her if she was doing any P2P stuff again - I could hear the hesitation in her voice (as if she could lie to me) before she admitted that, yes, she was sharing files. I told her to cap the upstream, and she agreed. The Internet got better for a little while... and then a few hours later the Internet became unbearably slow.

This is the type of behaviour I'm talking about. She thinks she can get away with pulling off these little stunts, and it absolutely irks me. If I ever have kids, and they try pulling stunts like this, they will get a ass-whooping.

My Internet has been getting slow again tonight. So I did what anybody in my position would do - I logged into my router and banned her MAC address so her Internet would stop working. The moment I did this, my Internet became blazing fast again. It was so nice.

After five minutes, I unbanned her (see? I'm a nice guy. Really!). Ten minutes later, Internet slow again.

So I banned her again. I've banned her at least four times tonight for five minute intervals.

I feel like I'm running one of those psychological experiments with rats where the scientists shock the rodents if they do something wrong. Except this girl is not learning. Everytime you start upstreaming files, little girl, your Internet will stop working.

Let's see how long this experiment has to last.

"What? Your Internet stopped working? Yeah, mine too. It's probably our Internet provider!" (As I quickly alt+tab out of the flashing IM screens).

Tomorrow: My exciting eBay tale on how, after 106 unique transactions, I finally got my first negative feedback :(

Currently listening to: Yellowcard - Believe
Posted by roy on January 26, 2006 at 12:54 AM in Ramblings | 18 Comments

Because 512MB RAM and a 12" display (my current Motion M1400 Tablet PC) just isn't cutting it for me anymore, I bought a new computer from Dell (they are having WICKED deals this weekend).

And guess what? It comes with six months FREE of AOL!!! OMG OMGO MGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOM GOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

. . .

Oh yeah, the system:

  • Intel Pentium 4, 3.0Ghz 800FSB
  • 4GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz (4x1GB)
  • 20 inch UltraSharp™ 2005FPW Widescreen Digital Flat Panel
  • 256MB PCI Express™ x16 (DVI/VGA/TV-out) ATI Radeon X600 SE HyperMemory
  • DataSafe 250GB (Includes main hard drive plus a hidden reserve hard drive) [This is, AFAIK, an "advanced" RAID-1 set-up with software backups to prevent stupidity.]
  • 6 Months of America Online Membership Included (OMG THE DEALBREAKER!!!!!
Currently listening to: 311 - I'll Be here a while
Posted by roy on January 28, 2006 at 01:40 AM in Ramblings | 8 Comments

I think I just *got* what Dave Winer's been talking about with OPML. It's a very subtle shift in the idea that certain types of people do not like the rigid anti-chronological, title, and long entry format of most journaling software. For example, when posting shorter snippets of a longer entry (like I'm doing), it might be beneficial to use an OPML-type outliner (although for this case, the topics are completely unrelated).

This is a fascinating idea, although I'm not sure how well current blogging software could be adopted for this. Although there's a big change in the backend (RSS to OPML), I think the hardest shift will be along the UI front.

. . .


There's been a lot of talk about Google's recent decision to "censor" results. Basically if you go to http://www.google.cn/ and compare results from the main google.com, you get different results. (try 'tianamen square' and do an image search to see the differences).

Now, MSN and Yahoo! have both done this in the past (MSN Spaces [the MS version of Tabulas (LOL)] has recently even censored a chinese blogger. Why wasn't there any backlash when they did that?

A LOT of people have been sipping the Google Kool-Aid, thinking that they wouldn't sell out their values for the sake of business. I mean, look at their old FAQ on censoring results (which has now been taken down):

They even stated in their IPO filing that they will "Do no evil."

People bought into that idea and believed it. And now that Google has sold their values out for the sake of expanding to China, people feel betrayed. Yucks.

In any case, I personally believe Google was in between a rock and a hard place. I think they did the right thing (this covers some of the reasons) - I never sipped that Google idealist kool-aid to start with anyways ;)

In regards to the link to calacanis above, I really don't buy into that "spread of democracy' argument. Democracy is simply an ends to a mean - the ends being the right for people to live their lives at an accetpable standard of living. There's no reason why this can't be accomplished with some hybrid of Socialism with free-market principles (it does seem to contrast, but I think China's been demonstrating a willingness to combine the two, and they've been pretty successful).

Currently listening to: Billy Joel - Only the Good Die Young
Posted by roy on January 28, 2006 at 08:13 PM in Ramblings | 5 Comments

it's gong xi time, foshizzle. the year of the dog. those of you who are dogs better start busting out the red underwear.

. . .

does anybody else still make shower mohawks? now that my hair is longer, i can actually make an OK shower mohawk. a few more weeks and it'll be truly badass.

Currently listening to: Outkast - Hey Ya!
Posted by roy on January 29, 2006 at 03:31 AM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

I'm not a gamer by any means, but, boy, have I played a lot of Starcraft. Actually, I probably have Starcraft to thank for me being a webdeveloper today - my interest in websites was sparked once I had created a moderately successful Starcraft strategy site (the rest is history).

This past weekend, I vowed to defeat seven computers at once (on the Big Game Hunters map) with all three races. I managed to successfully accomplish this task tonight, and I've saved the replays for anybody who wants to watch.

I started off Friday night with what I thought would be the easiest of all matchups - using the Protoss race against seven computers. It wasn't easy, but I did manage to pull out a win on the first try. The trick was using the cannon lure trick to knock out an opponent early and expanding to their resource center.

The second matchup was with me using the Terrans. This one was a lot easier than I expected - I simply turtled and used tank drops on cliffs to disable two opponents early on.

The hardest matchup was Zerg vs 7 computers. I had to actually restart twice (I got it on the third try, though!). The problem with Zerg is that you basically need to build an assload of sunkens, but you don't get the benefit of turtling like the Terrans do. I got lucky and drew the 4'o clock position, which offers the best turtling chokepoint while also letting me expand. With Zerg on 7vs1, you need to expand to your choke point; after the 12th drone you've got to start building massive amount of sunken colonies. I managed to pull off a turtling of sorts (If you watch when the computer rushes, simply converting the larvaue to an egg blocks any ground units from coming in) and managed to stay afloat while hitting the computers with lurker drops and mutalisk attacks. I think I got really lucky in this game - if I had to repeat with Zerg in that same position (the best possible position to play with besides maybe 7 o'clock, I only think I'd win maybe 1/3 of the time.

Yush, Tony, Spike and I have been playing this Starship Troopers level I made for Brood War with some regularity (well, before this week at least). The map is quite hard - it requires all four players to play at a high level or they lose to the computers. The premise of the map is to survive for twenty minutes against a never-ending attack from the Zerg; you have a hero (I've named "Naomi Watts") who MUST survive. I think the map is very well made because even when we play perfect, our team barely survives - there's been multiple cases when we end up losing at under 30 seconds left to play (I've actually LOST with under a second left!). If you've got a few friends who like to play BroodWar levels, give that Starship Troopers map a try - it's good fun.

Currently listening to: Jet - Look What Youve Done
Posted by roy on January 29, 2006 at 04:56 AM in Ramblings | 10 Comments

I recently professed my love for my new bathrobe. I think, like most things in my life, it's not necessarily this particular bathrobe that I have fallen in love, but the general concept of wearing one piece of comfortable piece of clothing all day that'll keep me warm (no need to wear comfortable pants and a sweatshirt - just bathrobe it!).

In any case, I think my Gap bathrobe is pretty nice - it's made of cotton, isn't overly heavy but still manages to keep me warm. It also has a hood which I can use to keep my head warm. The two pockets provide ample storage for my late-night Wendeez runs (although I am technically on Wendeez ban) when I need to quickly store my wallet, my iPod and my cell phone.

However, there is one glaring problem with this bathrobe:

If you notice, when I tie the bathrobe around my waist, the top part is not fastened very well. That means that precious body heat is leaving, and the whole purpose of the bathrobe is wasted. I always found myself (after nearly four weeks of continual wearing) rewrapping the bathrobe every few minutes - the ideal bathrobe should cover everything up to my neck.

$1.20 from Wal-Mart and a short sewing job later, and we now have:

A button placed between the shoulder and left chest allows the bathrobe to be clasped, and now I have an awesome bathrobe.


Posted by roy on January 30, 2006 at 01:10 PM in Ramblings | 11 Comments
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