Entries for January, 2008

For 2008, Seductive Roy hopes you have some good resolutions:

Come back tomorrow for yet another picture!

. . .

Ok, so I was going to try not to be so negative about this, but this post on why PHP should never be taught in schools irks me to no end.

Fortunately, somebody in the thread already commented on why this post is pretty ill-informed ('I assume that the "equality" you are referring to is the mathematical interpretation of "equality", but to the best of my knowledge that interpretation does not cover comparing numbers to food.'), while this comment shows the scripting with the correct operator being used (=== vs. ==).

I also enjoyed this comment by an anonymous user: (not me)

I don't understand something, so it shouldn't exist! Waaah!

If you're just starting in computer science you're in for a lifetime of disappointment son.

I'm living the disappointment, baby!

. . .

It had to happen: (cached screenshot)

Bilawal Bhutto, thrust into the political spotlight by the assassination of his mother in Pakistan, can count on support from at least one source -- female Facebook fans who describe him as "hot".

"Oh My God he's cute," said one contributor to "Let's not assassinate Bilawal Bhutto because he's hot, ok?," a new group on the social networking site after the 19-year-old was named last week to succeed his mother as leader of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

"Oh God, I totally agree. He's so sexy," added another member of the group, which so far had 48 members.

Technological evolution at its finest.

Posted by roy on January 1, 2008 at 04:09 PM in Foolishness | 1 Comments
muse - starlight
far away
this ship is taking me far away
far away from the memories
of the people who care if I live or die

i will be chasing a starlight
until the end of my life
i don't know if it's worth it anymore

hold you in my arms
i just wanted to
hold you in my arms

my life
you electrify my life
let's conspire to ignite
all the souls that would die just to feel alive

i'll never let you go
if you promise not to fade away
never fade away

our hopes and expectations
black holes and revelations

Posted by roy on January 2, 2008 at 01:55 PM in Music | Add a comment


Peeping Roy knows if you've been naughty...

Posted by roy on January 3, 2008 at 03:35 AM in Foolishness | 3 Comments

This 3 line piece of code has saved my server TONS of cpu cycles (my load went down from an average of 5-6 to 1!):

if (strpos($_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'], 'MJ12bot/v1.0.8') !== false) {

Unfortunately, legit users of the MJbot will suffer ... but such is life.

Posted by roy on January 3, 2008 at 06:52 PM in Web Development | Add a comment

I gotta say, I've been listening to Kanye West's Graduation for a solid four months now ... and it still sounds fresh. I love it!

(Minus "Barry Bonds" and "Drunk and Hot Girls", those two tracks are bleeeeccchh)

Posted by roy on January 5, 2008 at 02:12 AM in Music | Add a comment

Whatever happened to all those anti-globalization activists? I remember reading about anarchists running amuck at WTO meetings ... haven't heard from them in a while...

Posted by roy on January 8, 2008 at 12:42 AM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

Wow, the coolest thing just happened. I was listening to Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight," and just as the beats kicked in at the 3:36 mark, police sirens went off outside my window. In perfect harmony.

That was pretty f'ing badass.

Posted by roy on January 8, 2008 at 12:59 AM in Music | 1 Comments

"Religion has convinced people that there's an invisible man…living in the sky, who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn't want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer and burn and scream until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you and he needs money." - George Carlin

P.S. I hear Han's thai restaurant in Fayetteville is really nice, you should give it a try if you're close by!

Posted by roy on January 8, 2008 at 08:17 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

I really like this quote by Pete: "It wasn't perfect but it could have been worse." Sounds like the opening line of an emo {song, movie, or book}.

Surprisingly, it returns only two hits on Google. (This post, in a Heisenberg uncertainty principle-esque way, will soon contribute a third hit to Google).

Posted by roy on January 9, 2008 at 02:27 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

I woke up at 1pm to raucous cheering and honking coming up from some of the bars in the Gaslamp. This could only mean one thing: the Chargers were faring well against the Colts. Sure 'nuff, the Chargers look like they're pulling up a massive upset against the Colts!

(Not that I really care about the Chargers in any way, shape, or form. I just enjoy the happiness that follows it).

Posted by roy on January 13, 2008 at 02:18 PM in Sports | Add a comment

Was reading TC (which is absolute garbage; I mostly scroll past it in my RSS reader, except today!), when I saw this snippet:

You know a company's trying hard to promote a new version of its software when it puts together an acronym to describe it. [Company named snipped] has opted for ULTRA: User Delight, Leading-Edge Innovation, Technology Agnostic, Results-Focused Capabilities, and Advanced Integration.

I totally laughed out loud, as this reminded me of Dwight Shrute's (from The Office) poster, when he tried to explain why he deserved a promotion:

Dwight K Schrute: Determined. Worker. Intense. Good Worker. Hard Worker. Terrific.

Posted by roy on January 14, 2008 at 08:27 PM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

One thing I find terribly amusing about this HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray nonsense: why does every single review between the two have so many words?

It's seems really simple for these review sites to quantify which one is better: Take a f'ing picture.

I recommend you get hardware for both formats, then get a copy of Planet Earth for all three formats (the third being DVD + upconverter). Sit your ass down in front of a 42" HDTV and compare the best scene from episode 1 of Planet Earth:

Post said screenshot online. Done and done. What's with these 3,000 word reviews? Christ, just post a picture. I know a picture is only worth a 1,000 words, but I'll easily stretch that one picture's worth to 3,000 words after reading some drivel-filled reviews online. Okthnx.

. . .

A related HDTV rant:

There's an interesting post (that comes with a pretty graph!) on the resolutions offered by 720, 1080 HDTVs ... basically the conclusion is such:

What the chart shows is that, for a 50-inch screen, the benefits of 720p vs. 480p start to become apparent at viewing distances closer than 14.6 feet and become fully apparent at 9.8 feet. For the same screen size, the benefits of 1080p vs. 720p start to become apparent when closer than 9.8 feet and become full apparent at 6.5 feet.

Basically, if you own anything between 42" - 50" (which most people I know own), you better put your couch riiiiiggghht next to the TV if you want to emphasize your 1080p resolution. (Assuming you even find something to broadcast at 1080p.)

So don't buy 1080p just cause the number's bigger. Make sure it's actually going to be useful.

. . .

Back to my BR vs. HD-DVD rant:

You want to know your format winner? It's called DVD. Seriously, just buy an upconverting DVD player, which'll take your 720x480 movie and fill in the 1280x720 resolution nicely. At least this way you're not paying a 20% premium on the same movies and buying something that's protected with evil, evil DRM.

If I had an extra $1,000 bucks burning a hole in my pocket, I would go out, buy a HD-DVD and Blu-Ray player and run this test myself on my set-up at home (I'm about 8 ft. away from the TV on a 42"). Oh well.

. . .

Of course, while there's a war raging between the two formats, somebody will figure out how to stream HD online cheaply and beat both of them.

. . .

And while I'm at it, another interesting quote from an awesome article which puts all this in perspective:

Toshiba's DVD-Audio format, along with Sony’s Super Audio CD, both fought to be the evolutionary high-definition standard from the now ubiquitous CD. Sporting support for higher resolution audio quality, surround sound, and a wealth of features that would make any audiophile woozy, they were both fitting contenders for the next great audio format.

But don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of them.
Posted by roy on January 15, 2008 at 12:05 AM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

More updates on the performance side have been made for the new link dialog feature for Deki Wiki. This is strikingly similar to an earlier video I posted, but this one is a *lot* speedier and and has very subtle changes to it to improve usability. This video was made live from http://wiki.opengarden.org; you can register a free account at that wiki and edit any page to try it yourself.

Some things to note:

  • Initial link population does a search - the great benefit of MediaWiki is the ability to link any word just by doing [[this]]. In a hierarchical system, this functionality fails; you might end up doing something like: I like eating [[Fruits/Apple|apples]] while sitting in front of my [[Computers/Apple|Apple]] computer. We've attempted to inject a little smartness by doing an initial search against the keyword. There's some work left to do on that UI view (the paths only populate when I clicked them; if you had 20 results, it would really suck to have to discover the paths, especially if they all share the same title!).
  • Each search result has a blue icon to the right - this triggers you into the hierarchy mode. From this view, you can navigate up and down the whole hierarchy and find whatever page you need. Notice how fast it is!
  • Icons on the left correspond to "Back up the hierarchy tree", "Root node", and "My page". After I clicked "My page," you'll notice there was some lag as I hit "up." This was because that top level had over 1,300 pages. I still think it handled that pretty well!

The dual mode should be good for finding information on a large system pretty effectively through computer and human searches.

Of course, the only real test for success will be whether or not people actually like using it - I'm sure I'll make more use of it over the next few weeks and see how I feel about it.

P.S. There's an easter egg in this dialog that'll let you link to files on your local network share as well, but I'll leave that discovery up to somebody else :)

Some improvements we talked about:

  • Adding an autocomplete to the search form while in navigation mode. Not only that, but typing while in navigation mode would walk you up/down the hierarchy. Not entirely useful, but would be a very nice WOW factor
  • Adding an icon to differentiate search/navigation mode - I agree the initial view is very jarring if you're not familiar with it (what just happened?!)
  • Do something better than the "return to search / return to navigation" mode text

Thoughts, suggestions?

Posted by roy on January 16, 2008 at 01:52 AM in MindTouch | 1 Comments

"there's spit and spite, all through my blood." - jimmy eat world

i really need to get back to north carolina.

Posted by roy on January 16, 2008 at 11:38 PM in Personal | Add a comment

.ASPX considered harmful: I always thought it would be f'ing hilarious to use mod_rewrite to change my .php extensions in one of my many projects to .aspx or .cfm.

Account login mistakes. Here is the summarized list:

  • Mistake #1: Having a Sign-in In The First Place
  • Mistake #2: Requiring Sign-in Too Soon
  • Mistake #3: Not Stating the Benefits to Registering
  • Mistake #4: Hiding the Sign-In Button
  • Mistake #5: Not Making "Create New Account" or "Forgot Your Password" a Button or Link
  • Mistake #6: Not Providing Sign-in Opportunities at Key Locations
  • Mistake #7: Asking for Too Much Information When Registering
  • Mistake #8: Not Telling Users How You'll Use Their Information
  • Mistake #9: Not Telling Users the Requirements for Username and Password Up Front
  • Mistake #10: Requiring Stricter Password Requirements Than The NSA
  • Mistake #11: Using Challenge Questions They Won't Remember In A Year
  • Mistake #12: Not Returning Users to Their Desired Objective
  • Mistake #13: Not Explaining If It’s The Username or Password They Got Wrong
  • Mistake #14: Not Putting A Register Link When The Sign-In Is An Error
  • Mistake #15: Not Giving the User A Non-email Solution To Recover Their Password
  • Mistake #16: Requiring More Than One Element When Recovering Password
Posted by roy on January 17, 2008 at 12:29 PM in Web Development | Add a comment

my life: bo-ring.

Posted by roy on January 17, 2008 at 11:38 PM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

I wish San Diego played more (away) pro games of more import. Normally, when I run errands on the weekend, I have to deal with traffic downtown and in the surrounding areas. But today? Nothing. The roads were clear, Mission Valley (the main shopping area) was uncongested (for ONCE!), and I was able to run all my errands with great efficiency. It's a shame that the Chargers lost, but still... while they were playing the game ... I made the most of it :)

I'm totally bummed about the Maryland-Carolina game yesterday. It was about time we lost one, the way we kept the games so close ...

Posted by roy on January 20, 2008 at 04:19 PM in Sports, San Diego | Add a comment

... is from Wikipedia (duh).

The Great Depression was not a sudden total collapse. The stock market turned upward in early 1930, returning to early 1929 levels by April, though still almost 30 percent below of peak in September 1929. Together government and business actually spent more in the first half of 1930 than in the corresponding period of the previous year. But consumers, many of whom had suffered severe losses in the stock market the prior year, cut back their expenditures by ten percent, and a severe drought ravaged the agricultural heartland of the USA beginning in the northern summer of 1930.

And from the related entry:

The crash followed a speculative boom that had taken hold in the late 1920s, which had led hundred of thousands of Americans to invest heavily in the stock market, a significant number even borrowing money to buy more stock. By August 1929, brokers were routinely lending small investors more than 2/3 of the face value of the stocks they were buying. Over $8.5 billion was out on loan, more than the entire amount of currency circulating in the U.S. The rising share prices encouraged more people to invest; people hoped the share prices would rise further. Speculation thus fueled further rises and created an economic bubble. The average P/E (price to earnings) ratio of S&P Composite stocks was 32.6 in September 1929, clearly above historical norms. Most economists view this event as the most dramatic in modern economic history.


Posted by roy on January 21, 2008 at 01:52 AM in Finances | Add a comment

I thought the story of Heath Ledger's death was a hoax. Didn't think it actually happened. What tragedy.

This sounds lame, but I was more hung up over the passing of Heath Ledger than Benazir Bhutto. Not really sure what that says about me.

RIP to both.

Posted by roy on January 22, 2008 at 09:43 PM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

Unrelated thought of the day: for all this talk about the decline of America in the world today, I find the world looking to the US' Federal Bank and markets for guidance amusing. It was only after the rate cut did the European markets recover. Even mighty Asia, which was supposedly less dependent on the US economy, rolled over this week (The Hang Seng index lost ~12% just this week!) The Hang Seng seems to be responding well this morning with a 5% gain ... good for them.

Guess we're still at the center of the world. This bodes well for my backup plan in case I fail to woo a girl here in the States: travel around Korea with my passport around my neck. There's gotta be some takers over there.

Posted by roy on January 22, 2008 at 10:55 PM in Finances | 2 Comments

An interesting take on home foreclosure crisis:

A homeowner who can't sell his house tells the L.A.Times, "Foreclose me. ... I'll live in the house for free for 12 months, and I'll save my money and I'll move on."

... Wachovia, in a conference call yesterday, warned investors that increasing numbers of homeowners are walking away from their homes by choice: "... people that have otherwise had the capacity to pay, but have basically just decided not to because they feel like they've lost equity, value in their properties..."

And more:

A commenter on L.A. Land this morning writes:

"I realize I agreed to the deal when I signed the mortgage papers, but I am within my rights to walk away from a bad deal and suffer the consequences, just as many corporations write down billions of dollars of debt, lose money for their shareholders, and lay off people as a result of their bad decisions.

"I don't really understand why people view a business decision by a homeowner as a terrible moral lapse. However, when large lending institutions, with access to more sophisticated information than any consumer could imagine, make mistakes affecting thousands of people worldwide, they are not excoriated and vilified with the same righteous zeal."

Interesting perspective.

Maybe it's just me, but does the knee jerk reactions from the Fed and the Pres/Congress seem a little overdone? I mean, the whole reason we got into this mess is 'cause of bad loans. And now, the solution is to loan banks even more money?

And the tax rebate thing ... I'm all for free money ... but now? How long 'till we get our money? June? July? Isn't 8 months a little long to have any impact on the economy? And why do I get the sense that the people who most need this money aren't going to get it?

Posted by roy on January 25, 2008 at 01:24 AM in Ramblings, Finances | 1 Comments

In the absence of writing original content, I bring you two hi-larious videos I stumbled across the net:

The first video is a true translation of what animal's say on Planet Earth (which I'm currently watching ... how awesome!). It's NSFW:

I wonder if I'll still find this video funny when I'm 34 (answer: probably).

The second video is an awesome infomercial about this "Internet" thing I've been hearing about lately:

3 easy payments of $69.99? I'm in.

Posted by roy on January 27, 2008 at 11:48 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

I found a new metric for quantifying anti-socialness: the hoarseness of your voice after speaking on the phone.

I'm quiet at work, and I certainly don't talk to myself at home. Thus, my vocal chords were ill-equipped to handle five measly phone interviews today. Seriously. After the last one, my throat hurt. The phone interviews were no longer than a half-an-hour each. This means I have the ability to speak, at a maximum, two and a half hours each day.

Sad panda time.

Posted by roy on January 28, 2008 at 09:07 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

For all this talk of a single rogue French trader losing €4.9 billion ... how did this guy bypass all the security checks (I make the assumption that there *are* security checks on how much you can trade) to create such large positions? Every report I read said this guy is nothing remarkable ... and yet he pulled this off? By hacking the system? By figuring out how to bypass a complex system? And without personal gain? I'm not one to believe in conspiracy theories, but it's hard for me to think that one man did this all by himself.

. . .

I find the gyrations of the market fascinating. I was following up with some tech companies tonight when I noticed that VMware got reamed in after-hours trading. They beat expectations, but still they got hammered down for a 25% loss to $60/share (which is pretty much what they IPOed at). Ah, the pains of owning growth stocks with high P/E ratios crash to the earth... I remember watching my holdings in Akamai crumble when they didn't announce stellar earnings...

Posted by roy on January 28, 2008 at 10:41 PM in Finances | 2 Comments

eva green!

New "danger smells like clean socks" policy: Technical entries get pictures of beautiful women, like my new celebrity crush, Eva Green. I realized that my entries are boring; I hope pictures of beautiful women can somehow save this awful turd of a journal. I figure this helps you, the reader, in two ways: it will be an immediate prompt to stop wasting time by skipping the entry, and it gives you a chance to admire beautiful women. Who says I don't care about you?!?

. . .

I love human-friendly dates like "two hours ago" or "four weeks ago." It just makes so much more sense than plastering "January 24th, 2008 at 8:45PM." 8:45PM where? Russia? Chapel Hill? San Diego? And when was January 24th? Maybe it's just me, but I can barely remember dates. Human friendly dates provide so much more context ...

Unfortunately, generating human-friendly timestamps on the server side is costly when it comes to caching. Caching (for the non-technically minded) is the act of memorizing data (like webpages) and storing it so that it displays more quickly when requested.

A real-life example of caching, that most of you can relate to, is the multiplication table. What is 12 x 12? Most of you can immediately answer 144, because you memorized it. How many of you got out paper and did it the old-fashioned way? It's the same way with computers: if they can memorize outputs, they can become quicker in processing information. This is especially important when thousands of requests are being sent per hour.

Now, the problem with human-friendly timestamps is that they are dynamic - the computer can never memorize that output. Sure, it can memorize the exact time, but then it must transform that time to a human-friendly format. January 28th, 2008 will always be the same, but it will not be the same relevant to the present (curse the 4th dimension!).

But, a solution appears on the horizon! John Resig, of jQuery fame, wrote up a Javascript library which does it for you! Hooray! This means your server can still cache, and you humans can get your nice human-friendly timestamps. The downside? It's Javascript, so you'll end up with some shifting data onLoad (when it does the content transformation).

I'm also not a huge fan of displaying the ISO time standard, which can look like this: 1997-07-16T19:20:30.45+01:00.

So in implementation, perhaps the best way to approach this is to display a cacheable human-friendly time ("January 8th, 2007 at 8:08 PM") which is surrounded by a span tag which has an overloaded attribute ("title"?) which contains the ISO time. It'd be trivial to hook that pretty.js file onload to loop through, find the span.timestamp and operate on innerHTML based on the overloaded attribute...

Credits to Ajaxian for finally posting something useful

. . .

And today's quote of the day (paraphrased from an interview):

Interviewee: I'm not sure what Web 2.0 is...
Interviewer: Me neither.

Hooray for buzzwords!

Posted by roy on January 29, 2008 at 01:09 AM in Web Development | 3 Comments

I awoke prematurely from my slumber at 7am this morning. Sadly, this has been the norm lately - sleep troubles have been plaguing me since Christmas (so what else is new?)

This time was different. Normally I wake up, check the time, curse myself, and fall back asleep. But on this morning, I woke up with a song in my head.

My dreams tend to fall into one of two categories: ones where I'm flying away from something, and ones which would make really awesome cinematographic movies. Sweeping landscapes are accentuated with light (sometimes I dream of the rising and setting sun, sometimes it's the northern lights ... in every case, it's a friggin' breathtaking view).

Last night was a dream of the latter. Somehow I woke up, and the song that was playing against my grand landscape was in my head as I regained consciousness. And I have to say, it was pretty catchy.

Fortunately, I had the fortune of having paper and pen close to my bed, so I quickly jotted down the lyrics of the 4-stanza song and fell back asleep.

The song's contents are rather inconsequential (the lyrics are embarrassingly bad), but the fact I managed to wake up, scribble down the lyrics (which are cohesive and have lyrical rhythm) was pretty cool. This had never happened before. Finally, my dreams are seeping into reality! Now if I just had the power to turn my lucid dreams into reality ...

Posted by roy on January 30, 2008 at 01:23 AM in Personal, Ramblings, Dreams | 1 Comments

A disturbing comment from my last entry:

(I made it into an image because, frankly, I don't want Google indexing that comment more than once).

Instead of weird dudes comment in my journal, why can't women like Marion Cotillard to leave comments like that??????????

Make fun of me, but I enjoyed "A Good Year"

When it all comes down to it, I guess I should really be flattered. The sexiness of Roy transcends all gender bounds. Yeaaahhh....

Posted by roy on January 30, 2008 at 06:52 PM in Foolishness | Add a comment

Today so far, in list format:

  • Had a DMV appointment to get my license/registration stuff taken care of
  • My passport was misplaced in the move, so I couldn't do the license stuff anyways
  • As it turns out, because I bought my car right before moving here, I owed California sales tax.
  • The number initially quoted was: $1,600. Wha wha wha??? Fortunately, they hadn't calculated what I had already paid in NC ... so after some number fudging, they came out with $1300 (that includes the ~$350 I paid in registration).

Sweet. I get to pay $1,300 to drive my car every Saturday to In-n-Out.

To make matters worse, my parking garage was filled up, so I had to park my car across from the office for $12. Sweet.

Money, money, money. All goes down the drain.

Anyways, the lesson learned today is: lie through your teeth to the DMV. If I had said I just brought over the car last week, I would have avoided the sales tax and saved a hefty chunk of money.

Posted by roy on January 31, 2008 at 01:00 PM in Ramblings, San Diego | Add a comment
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