Friday, March 31, 2006

Day 3

Third day of classes was boring! It was the same classes that I had on Monday, but I submitted my homework electronically for Programming & Design II so that I could skip the open lab. However, Network Concepts II just about put me to sleep. I don't know why Dr. Zhang puts me to sleep every time he teaches. He has a very good grasp of English, and one of my best friends is Chinese (OK. Indonesian. But of Chinese heritage) so the accent isn't even something I notice. I don't even think it's his teaching style. I think that, because it's still a fairly intro-level course, I am just plain bored with it. I've already covered the material through the Cisco Academy program. Plus I've been doing networking from the time two of my friends brought and I crammed all of our PCs into my tiny bedroom and hooked 'em up to play a little Doom when it first came out. I've actually been doing networking in one form or other even longer than that, but you get the idea. It's old hat to me. When we get into the hands-on stuff, it might not be quite as bad. It's still mostly stuff I've been doing for years, but it looks like we'll be doing a couple of group projects, so I'll at least get to interact with my classmates.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Day 2

Yesterday was the second day of class. The only class I had was on Visual Basic. The class actually looks like it might be useful in getting a grip on some OO concepts that I've struggled a bit with when trying to learn them on my own. We're going to go behind the visual environment and actually code, which is as it should be. However, I'm not so sure it should be in BASIC ;)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

First Day

Yesterday was the first day of Spring Quarter 2006, and it doesn't look like it's going to be quite as bad as I thought it was going to be. All of my classes are smaller than they were last quarter, with only a handful of people in each. Two of my classes are the second part of classes from last quarter, and are required for the CTCH degree. Makes me wonder - did a ton of people do that poorly in those classes? I could see it, because it was mostly theory. This quarter is mostly application.

At any rate, my first class is Network Concepts II, which looks like it's going to be a very abbreviated version of the Cisco CCNA classes, but without IOS. The text is "Network+ Guide to Networks," if that tells you anything. There's no homework in the class other than reading (I'm not even wasting money on the text) and a class project. I must have impressed someone last quarter by winging my class presentation, because I've already got a partner for the project even though it won't be assigned for a couple of weeks. It also looks like we're going to have a field trip to my server room. Should be interesting.

My second class is Programming & Design II, which basically covers ANSI C. We spent last quarter learning the language. This quarter looks a lot more fun. After all, I knew the language already. Plus, a different instructor took this portion of the class. Dr. Zhang is a pretty brilliant guy, but there's something lacking in his teaching style. He does better teaching the networking classes than the programming ones.

Finally, tonight I have a class called Visual Programming. Yup. Visual Basic. IMHO, anything with "Visual" in the title isn't a real programming language. Same goes for anything with "Basic" in the title. Visual Basic is the double-whammy. If it weren't for the instructor being the same as the ANSI C class - and the fact that it's a required course for CTCH - I would probably drop it.

Both of my programming classes are 5:10 - 7:45. One is Monday & Wednesday, while the other is Tuesday & Thursday. The good thing is, in the C class at least, that we don't have to attend lab sessions if we understand the material and do our homework at home. The instructor is either going to do half sessions with the second half being lab, or make Wednesdays lab nights. I hope the latter, because that puts me in class one less night a week. I hope she does the Visual class the same way. Guess I'll find out tonight.

Friday, March 24, 2006

On Writing

I absolutely love to write. My biggest problem - the one that's kept me from starting on that novel that's been floating around my head for over 15 years now - is that I sometimes lack confidence in my writing ability. In order to overcome this issue, I continuously collect tips on writing from various sources. Some of these tips come from books on writing. Others come from different websites that I have come across over the years. In this series of posts, I plan to pass on some of the tips I have learned while trying to make myself a better writer. Hopefully this series of posts helps me as much as it helps you.

The first tip that I would like to share, probably the most important, comes from a post over at Just do it. Yes, it does seem to be a bit cheesy, but it is the most important tip I've seen. If you are going to write, you have to begin somewhere. The best place that I've found to begin is to just start writing. If you don't like how it turns out, you can always edit it when you're finished. Or you can scrap it and start completely over (which is rare for me).

Now that you're (hopefully) writing, I'll follow up in a future post with other tips that I've discovered along the way. I'm by no means an expert on the subject, but I hope these tips help.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


After a long quarter at school of not really trying, I finally got my grades. 4.0 for the term, 3.970 accumulative. That's what happens when they're intro courses (but required) on a subject that you've been making a living at for over a decade. That little piece of paper will look really good on the resume, though.

Unfortunately, spring break has been way too short. Classes start back up on Monday, and while the course load is roughly the same, none of the classes are online. This means I've gotta spend two additional evenings a week in class. All the classes are again computer-related, so it will not interfere with anything else in my life.

What I really can't wait for is summer, because I'll only have work and home to deal with, not school. This will leave me time to hopefully take care of a few of the projects that I've got on the back burner (some for awhile now). I also have to get ready to renew my CCNA, which expires in September.

All that said, I plan to continue blogging as regularly as I can. I absolutely love writing, and I have too many good ideas to let fall by the wayside. Look for all of my plans to come to fruition over the summer :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

War Pigs

Yesterday, I posted a rant about the oppressive regime that has power in the US. Many may have labeled me as a raving conspiracy nut as a result, but such is life. That post was prompted, in part by a bill which could restrict freedom of the press.

As an aside, look at the original lyrics to War Pigs, and you'll see why I chose that as the title of my post.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

War Pigs

I feel oppressed. I feel like we are living in pre-WWII Germany, where a fascist regime has taken power. Yes, I just called George W Bush a fascist. I'll go one better and call him a war criminal, too.

Everyone remembers Abu Ghraib, right? How about the lack of due process afforded to those at Guantanamo Bay? As President, Bush is also Command-in-Chief. As such, he is responsible for these war crimes.

Now let's looks at my other charge: fascism. We'll start with a dictionary definition of the word. From
A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism. (emphasis mine)

Anyone who says that the current administration hasn't used fear of another terrorist attack to push their own agenda is living in an alternate reality. What else is the "War on Terror" for? We're certainly no safer for it.

Benjamin Franklin said it best when he said "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." I guess we, as a society, deserve neither. And because we have given up so much already, the terrorists have won.

Monday, March 20, 2006

It's not that kind of blog...

My wife recently asked me why I don't have any entries about her on the blog. I replied that it's not that kind of blog. What I meant by that wasn't just that I intended this to be a technology blog - which it's been slowly evolving away from - but that I like to keep some aspects of my life private.

But then I thought, why the hell isn't it that kind of blog? It's supposed to be "A day in the life of a computer geek." My day always includes my wife. Always. By not including her here, I am not being true to the goal of this blog. Not only that, but I'm also setting up artificial limitations to my creativity. That's not something I intend to let happen, because I am feeling more creative than I have in awhile.

Look for more entries about me, my life (including my wife), technology, and random ramblings. I'm still working on launching several topic-specific blogs that I will restrict to just the topics they cover, but this little corner of cyberspace was set up for me. The fact that others might read it (and hopefully enjoy it) is just a side-effect of blogging.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Feedback (Please)

I find it a little strange. I mean, I know that by writing a blog, people are going to read it. After all, that's kinda the point. But recently, I've had people I know telling me that they read my blog, and I don't know how to react. I suppose I should start by asking for a little constructive criticism.

The comments I've gotten so far have been positive. My wife, of course, enjoys my writing. My sister says that it gives her insight into her little brother. A classmate from my programming class finds it "interesting."

Now that you know what these three think, what's your opinion? Am I good enough to start additional, topic-specific, blog(s)? Or should I stop while I'm ahead? Please leave your feedback and let me know!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Starting Multiple Blogs

Talk about timely! A day after I do a bit of name-dropping, Darren Rowse has an article up on Problogger about starting multiple blogs. Yesterday, I posed some of the very question that Darren covers in his most recent entry in his blogging for beginners series.

The question remains: subdomain or separate domain (or hosted solution)? My thinking is maybe a subdomain of Why? Because Nitemare Cafe was my BBS, which had many "subs" (or sub-boards) covering different topics. How fitting is it that should develop many "subs" (in this case, sub-domains) covering many topics?

Many of Darren's points against using subdomains are related to SEO, AdSense, and selling the domains later. First, I could care less about SEO or AdSense revenue (yes, I use AdSense advertising on the site; but it's more of an experiment than a revenue stream). Second, Nitemare Cafe is such an inherent part of me that I do not think I could ever part with any piece of it. And should I ever spin a blog off and sell it to someone else, it is trivial to point a subdomain to a different machine on a different network.

The moral of the story? Look for to open soon. When it does, I will post a message here. It will also be all new content - I may link back to some of my original posts, but I don't want to duplicate content across multiple blogs.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Finding the niche

Ask any "expert" on blogging, especially professionally, and they will always tell you the same thing: find your niche. Darren Rowes has said it many times over at Problogger, and I've seen it repeated many times in many other places. This is something I have struggled to find, as my interests are pretty varied, even if most of them are pretty geeky.

When I first got my Clie, I thought about turning completely to mobile blogging. While I may create a post or two from the Clie itself (or even all posts. Where I post from is irrelevent), I think I have found my niche: the Clie itself.

Sure, while there are several blogs on mobile computing in general, or even Palm/Palm OS more specifically, I do not think I've seen one covering only the Clie. There may be some out there that I haven't stumbled upon yet, and they may be touched on in more general blogs, but after the trouble I've had with audio and multimedia, the idea hit. I'm sure I've got several posts in me about the Palm programs that I find useful on the Clie, so I am going to move more towards Clie-related content.

I'm not sure how exclusive I should be to that subject though. Should I create a new blog for the Clie only? Should I just stop posting non-Clie stuff altogether? Should I build a network of blogs, one of which (this one) is general content, while the others help fill a niche?

If I go the network of blogs route, most individual blogs will probably start their lives here until they are generating enough content on their own to warrant their own blog. For example, I have been meaning to set my BBS back up, at least telnetable (and possibly dialup via VoIP). I'm sure this will inspire a ton of BBS-related content on the blog, which may grow enough to warrant a blog of it's own.

So, what does everyone else think? Going the network route definitely provides the greatest earnings potential, as there are several niches that I can fill via separate blogs. But my posting output will have to increase in both quality and quantity in order to fulfill that potential. As much as I enjoy writing, that's not a bad thing :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Core Pocket Media Player

Yesterday, I posted about my trouble with the Clie audio, but failed to mention the program that I'm using for multimedia playback. I'm a big fan of open source, and have discovered The Core Pocket Media Player. TCPMP is an open-source media player for Palm OS and Windows CE/Windows Mobile devices. It works well on the Clie once you've installed MCA2 to fix the lack of audio playback. I may check out one of the non-free programs, such as MMPlayer to see how it compares, because I'm not 100% satisfied with my frame rates. At 29.97 frames per second, it drops about a third of the frames and causes the audio to skip a little. Since I have to convert video down to fit on the smaller screen anyway (if I don't convert, the video still plays. It just takes up a lot more space on the memory stick) I may play around with the frame rates a little bit to see if I can smooth things out a little bit. Ideally, I'd like to get at least 24fps. I'd imagine anything over 15fps will be watchable, though. Anyone out there have any suggestions? Is adjusting frame-rates the way to go? Or is one of the non-free solutions going to make a huge difference?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Clie Audio

I've been playing around with my Clie a bit, and got a little frustrated because many of my MP3s and none of my videos had any audio on playback. A little bit of searching later, and I've discovered that the NZ (and prior) models had not-so-standard audio components, but audio is standardized in Palm OS 5.2. A little more digging turned up a great little gem called MCA2, or "Modern Clie Audio." This gives the Palm OS 5.0 models most of the functionality of the later Palm OS 5.2 models. A note on the website says that it is only for the NX, NZ, and TG models, so if you have something even older, you're out of luck unless your searching turns up something mine did not. If you have a solution that works better, leave a comment and let me know.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Balancing act

I have been doing a major balancing act between blogging, work, school, and home life, and I have a ton of stuff clipped to my Bloglines clip blog that I've been meaning to add commentary to and post here. But I've always had a poor sense of balance and I haven't gotten to it yet. But many things are coming to a close for me: classes are over for the quarter except for exams. My online application successfully launched on Friday of last week - all that is left is a little bit of tweaking here and there and then working on feature requests (development is never really done). So with all of these things winding down, I should find myself with enough time to dedicate a little bit of it to blogging again. I feel like it's time to start getting serious about blogging. Maybe I should try the 10-minute experiment that Wil Wheaton tried awhile back and see what happens.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

More from the Clie

I have been entirely too busy between work and school to worry about the blog much lately. I've also been trying to find some decent blogging software for PalmOS5. In the future, I hope to do the majority of my blogging from my Sony Clie.

At work I have been busy with a fairly large programing project, the biggest project I've worked on. Granted, the project is in PHP, so it was easy for the number of files to quickly grow out of control. But the project went into production on Friday without any problems, so I'm pretty happy.

At school, the quarter is winding down. This means a bunch of larger assignments are coming due. It also means getting ready for finals! Ugh! But after they are done, Sring Break! Until then, don't expect much blogging from me.

(This entry was completely entered from my Clie using Graffiti mode for input.)