ChetOS.net

We are at the hospital.  Amanda is being induced because her amniotic fluid level was low.  She is 41 week anyway (past due) so that is what the doctor wanted.

It isn't what we wanted, so much for a "birth plan".  Oh well.

Please pray that the weaker drugs do the trick.  If not, she will go on Pitocin tomorrow morning, and that will really get her contractions going.

We are updating Facebook primarily for status updates.
Posted by Chet at 11:37 PM2 Comments

Since my son might be born in the range of possible Thankgiving Days (that is, Thanksgiving might fall on his birthday).  I decided to look at the rate which Thanksgiving falls on a particular day.

I am having a hard time describing this so here is a chart.

Day     # of Times in 100 Years
21      0
22      15
23      13
24      15
25      15
26      15
27      14
28      14
29      0


So, according to this, if his birthday falls between 22 and 28, then he will definitely have his birthday on a Thanksgiving day. If he is born on the 26th, he will share Thankgiving every five years (or so).  If he is born on the 27th, then he will have a ten year gap between 2014 and 2025.

If he is born on the 28th, then his birthday will be on Thanksgiving in 2013, and then every six years (or so).  There will be a ten year gap between 2030 and 2041.

So, if he waits until Sunday, he will never share a birthday with Thanksgiving.  However, it will still be close.  Personally, I rather he wait until the 1st of December at this point.  Nobody likes having their birthday close to a holiday.

On a related note.  It feels to me that Thanksgiving usually comes on the 27th (at least, in my conscious lifetime).  Turns out that it isn't true.  In the last 26 years it has fallen on each possible day 4 times.  However in my defense, 27, 25, and 23 have been more concentrated in my adolescent and adult life.

I have posted the Excel Spreadsheet.
Posted by Chet at 3:15 PM0 Comments

The first Thankgiving was not the Pilgrims giving thanks to the Indians for helping them through the winter.  It was the Pilgrims giving thanks to God for helping them though the winter and giving them a plentiful bounty that year.  The Indians helped them definitely, but the thanks was to God.

The former was taught to me in school.
Posted by Chet at 10:46 AM1 Comment

Amanda was using our computer today and discovered that she could not log into any site that uses SSL.  Internet Explorer just kept saying that there was a certificate error (you know, when the red shield comes up and asks if you really want to enter the site).

Turns out, the computer's date was wrong, set to 11/19/2068.  This meant that all of the publisher's certificates had expired.  Therefore, the site's certificates could not be verified.

Moral: If you get repeated certificate warnings/errors, make sure your date is set correctly.

As for how this happened in the first place, I do not know.  This was on Vista, and it might affect Windows 7 as well.
Posted by Chet at 11:47 AM0 Comments

I finished War of the Worlds this weekend.  Excellent book, it is amazing that it was written in 1898.

It is set in southern England, so the place names are real, but since I didn't have a map, it was somewhat confusing.  I just went to Google Maps and found several of the locations, so I now have a better understanding of how things went.

One thing that I particularly liked was its use of then-cutting-edge science.  It gives a glimps of what was thought about Mars and human evolution and military tactices back then.  H.G. Wells essentially described the concept of "total war" decades before we saw it during World War 2.

I recommend this book.  I didn't read it, I listened to it, as I have been doing a lot lately.  I got it from http://www.librivox.org/.  The reader was good, I'd give him a 7.
Posted by Chet at 10:48 AM0 Comments

I have been using Windows 7 for over a week now.  It is ok, mostly visual upgrades.  I think they polished the interface since Vista, keeping a lot, but just making it easier to use.  Since I have two monitors (hopefully three soon), the new keyboard shortcuts are nice (for example: Shift+Windows+Arrow will move the window to the next monitor).

I also like that it comes with IIS7, which I have had very little experience administrating.

I completely disabled User Account Controls.  I do not appreciate being asked if I really want to preform the action that I just requested.  For example, if I open the Registry Editor, that should be confirmation enough that I want to use the Registry Editor!  I hear that there are fewer notifications than Vista, but since I haven't spent much time on Vista I wouldn't know.
Posted by Chet at 8:52 AM0 Comments

I finished reading Frank Viola's Pagan Christianity for the second time the other day.  

Forget for a minute that he is biased towards house churches and "organic Christianity" (whatever that actually means).  The questions he raises in his book are perfectly valid.  And I believe that many (but not all) of his conclusions are correct.

The Restoration Movement has always been about returning us to the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible.  As we have introduced worldly thinking into Christianity, it has been diminished.

I fail to see how we can be upset when modern Christianity is diluted with neo-paganism but get mad a Frank for pointing out that our whole history has been one of dilution with occasional factions that attempt restoration (Protestantism, Reformation, Restoration).  None of these movements get it perfect, just closer.  I think Frank's book provides an impetus for us to move even closer.

I don't agree with everything in the book, particularly his view of the Lord's Supper and the role of Christian Education (or lack thereof), I think we need to "test everything and hold on to the good."

Excellent read: Restoring Movement to the Restoration Movement by Dr. Roger Chambers
Posted by Chet at 5:47 PM0 Comments

Abdul Kalam, former President of India, is giving a speech at UCF today about his World Space 2050 vision.  Basically we need to build an international body to explore space.  He is also pushing for no militarization of space so that it will be owned by everyone, rather than individual countries.

If outer space provides anything of value, then it will be fought over and militarized.  In the short term, if the moon has any valuable resources (minerals, colonial expansion opportunities, strategic/tactical advantages, even astrographic benefits, etc) then there will be people/countries that want access and will want to prevent access.  This is the recipe for battle.

Space also provides a "high ground" for Earth, so above and beyond extra-terrestial colonization (which is a good enough reason to fight on its own), control of it means potential control and reconnaisse of all earth-based activies.  This is something that our enemies will want to prevent, therefore battle.

It's politically sensitive, but it's going to happen. Some people don't want to hear this, and it sure isn't in vogue but -- absolutely -- we're going to fight in space. We're going to fight from space and we're going to fight into space...
General Joseph W. Ashy
Former Commander-in-Chief U.S. Space Command (1994 - 1996)


Even though there is a lot of it (space, that is), any place of value that we can reach will be fought over.  Anyone who thinks that we could live in a universe where we will not fight over a resource is ignoring history.

If we have learned anything from history, it is that men haven't learned anything from history.
Posted by Chet at 3:49 PM0 Comments

Sometimes people skirt debate and disagreement by beating you with a club engraved with the word "Unity".

Not allowing people to disagree and thoughtfully working out issues causes isolation and despondence.  If we want openness and honesty in church, and society, we must be allowed to express our thoughts, feelings, and opinions.

Disagreement is not an anathema to unity.  True unity only comes through resolution, not simple insistence that we be unified.
Posted by Chet at 9:12 AM1 Comment

Today is my last day at Manatron, Inc. (which purchased Software Techniques at the beginning of the year).

I go to a better place, but I leave many friends behind.

Monday I start as a software engineer at Clear Village, a company that specializes in automating government processes.
Posted by Chet at 6:00 PM0 Comments

I cannot stand The Message Bible.  People use it as their primary Bible, and it can completely skew the actual meaning.

The preface of The Message plainly says that the author's purpose was to provide a Bible written at a low reading level for people who would not otherwise read the Bible at all.  It isn't intended to "give a new perspective" or anything like that.

"I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready." ~ 1 Cor 3:2

Graduate already!
Posted by Chet at 12:29 PM4 Comments

Windows Forms does not allow any thread to access its controls, except for the thread that created them.  If you do, you get an InvalidOperationException stating "Control control name accessed from a thread other than the thread it was created on."

If you want to build a robust application that doesn't freeze when you have a long running task, you have to use threads.  This "limitation" makes that a little more difficult.

After a lot of research, I found that you can use lambda expressions to cleanly access another thread's controls:

string textboxValue = String.Empty;
txtBox.Invoke((Action)(() => textboxValue = txtBox.Text));


The txtBox is a Textbox control on the main thread.  The textboxValue is the variable that will hold the result, this variable can be accessed from the current thread.  Invoke has always been the way of getting the value, but you used to need a lot of infrastructure to do this (things like, additional "GetText" method, delegate to provide the interface for this method).  By using a lambda expression (cast as an Action), you can have your simply code called from the main thread (Invoked) and have it return the value you need.

Very useful.
Posted by Chet at 2:05 PM2 Comments

I bought a gas mask today.  You can see what it looks like at http://www.getmask.com/.  Why, you may ask?  Because it was only $10 at Skycraft Surplus, and because I'll think of something interesting.

Of course, now I will be prepared when The Revolution comes.
Posted by Chet at 3:11 PM0 Comments

I replaced the power brake booster in my wife's Mazda Tribute.  Probably the most complicated car repair I have ever done.  I was most concerned about needing to bleed the master cylinder, but it turned out to be easy.

We registered for baby gifts at Target and Babies'R'us.

I reverse engineered a bunch of carnival games (like those kind where you throw a ball though a hole in a piece of plywood).  Our church might build rather than rent because we use them every year.  In order to buy the parts, you have to know how to build them.

I installed a ceiling fan in the nursery.  And I don't mean that I just hung the fan in an existing box, I have done that many times.  No, this was the full deal.  In my house, the "light" switches actually control a power socket on the wall, which is really annoying.  In order to do this right, I had to re-wire the power socket to always be on, and run the wires from the switch to the fan mounting box.  I had to cut a hole in the ceiling and install the mounting box.  And then hang the fan.

The most annoying part was that I planned on using the wire coming into the power socket to fish a new wire up the wall.  But then I discovered (while dying in the attic) that the wire was stapled to the wall.  So I just cut it and fed a wire down the wall instead.  Which meant that I had to rip the box out of the wall to feed it though.  Not fun.  Luckily (or unluckily) the box was very loose because it had not been installed right.

We also went to Sea World for the evening and saw the night-time sea lion show, which is a parody of the other shows, it is great.

I also played some Zelda in between projects.  I have found all bugs and heart containers, and only need to find 2 more Poe Souls.
Posted by Chet at 12:21 PM1 Comment

Perhaps these people wouldn't be able to pledge if we didn't prop them up by paying them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqcPA1ysSbw
Posted by Chet at 7:41 PM0 Comments

We had a small issue, so the doctor wanted to have a third ultrasound done.  This is a rare thing, our insurance covers two "fun" ones, which I hear is more than usual.  Since this one was medically necessary, it should also be covered.

Anyway, a third trimester ultrasound is cool because it actually looks like a baby.  And, the technician has to move the device around to actually see all of him.  We could see his femur bone, and his brain.  Also, she confirmed that he is still a boy.  But, she was 99% sure last time, so it wasn't necessary.  We didn't get a very good picture of his face since he decided to face her back.  It was funny because he was moving like crazy while the technician did the routine work, but when she went to see his face he just turned around and stayed their.

Turns out, everything is great.  The doctor said he is a little on the petite side, but that is simply based on charts and schedules.

I believe that Amanda posted the scan image on Facebook.
Posted by Chet at 9:55 AM0 Comments

Our new laptop has been having trouble connecting to our home wireless network since we got it.  Once it finally connects, it usually stays connected.  Sometimes it can take several minutes before it connects.  Very annoying.

No other wireless device has any trouble with our network, including the Wii.  I just had some friends over, and nobody reported any wireless issues.

Over the weekend, we had a Quake party, and I turned the laptop up to High Performance mode, and accidentially left it on.  Amanda noticed that the laptop was connecting almost immediately to the network whenever she turned it on.

Well, the laptop has Vista, and it turns out that in Power Saving mode, it greatly reduces the wireless performance.  We leave it in Power Saving mode even when it is plugged in to reduce the heat it produces.  99% of the time it is only being used for the internet, so we have no need to leave it in High Performance mode.  Tonight, when I get home, I am going to customize the power policy so that wireless performance is always at maximum.

Nice to have this little annoyance solved.
Posted by Chet at 5:16 PM1 Comment

Glenn Beck informs us about the background of Van Jones, the green jobs czar.

This self-described radical is a top advisor to President Obama.
Posted by Chet at 12:15 PM1 Comment

I was reading the Wikipedia entry for Mafia (party game).  Under optional roles I added a new one: ninja.

If the ninja is selected by mafia during the night, he is woken up (just like doctor or KGB) and he totally flips out kills someone.

Obviously, the ninja can only be killed by townsfolk.
Posted by Chet at 2:12 PM0 Comments

Yesterday was my birthday.  Yea me!  It turned 27.  Oh well, it happens.

I got a mini helicopter that I have wanted for a while.  I also got Oceans 11/12 DVD, and a Barnes 'n Noble gift card.  Amanda made me Swedish Meatballs, my favorite, and German Chocolate Cake, my favorite.

Oh, she also got me a big bag of peanut M&Ms, my favorite.

So, overall, pretty great.

I haven't seen my family yet.  I'll probably get some good swag from them too.
Posted by Chet at 8:17 AM4 Comments

We bought the crib for Robbie last week.  Picked it up Friday.

So, we spent a large part of the weekend "cleaning up" the office, converting it to a guest bedroom.  When I say cleaning up, I mean getting rid of a ton of books that we will never read, removing a lot of my miscellaneous decorations, and rearranging everything so we could fit a bed.  Luckily, we were able to keep the table in there, so not much has actually changed.

We realized that that room had the highest density of stuff than any other room in our house.  I don't think that the garage has as much stuff.

This is because the current guest bedroom is going to be the nursery.  We put the crib together last night, and it is so nice.  Got a great deal on it.  I have to admit that I was sticker-shocked when I saw that most nice cribs go for at least $300.  This one was well less than that.

Next step is decorating, which Amanda has already started.  She plans on painting some cute animals on several square canvases and hang them over the crib.

The next major step will be moving our bedroom upstairs.  It shouldn't be anywhere near the pain that cleaning the office was, but it will be a process.  What is funny is that just before Amanda got pregnant her grandma gave us a nice (very old) dresser and bed.  So we moved our stuff to one of the upstairs rooms.  Our "new" set is way to heavy to move upstairs, so we are just going to leave it, but we are going to be reunited with our original bedroom set upstairs.
Posted by Chet at 11:20 AM2 Comments

There are 24 billion chickens in the world.  That means they out number us 3 to 1.  If they figure this out, we are done for.
Posted by Chet at 9:32 AM0 Comments

I just finished "reading" The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on audiotape (not really tape) for the second time.  This book is so funny, and its humor matches mine closely.

I think my favorite scene is when the whale is free falling towards Magrathea.  There might be another, but I cannot remember it.

I also like when the time when the effects of the Infinite Improbability Drive are wearing off.  Arthur says that there are an infinite number of monkeys outside the door and they want to discuss a copy of Hamlet that they have been working on.

My absolute favorite line comes from the dolphins, who are the second-most intelliegent species on Earth (after mice).  It turns out that all their jumping though hoops and splashing water, are really attempts to communicate with us humans.  The last thing they "said" was a double backflip though a hoop while squeaking.  It translates to "So long... and thanks for all the fish."
Posted by Chet at 2:11 PM0 Comments

Someone said "crabwalking" the other day.  I don't think we crabwalk enough anymore.  We need to do this more or else this mode of transportation will become a lost art.  What ever happened to crabwalking in gym class?  Do they even do that any more?

Think of the children!
Posted by Chet at 2:57 PM0 Comments

I am working on a XNA version of Descent.  If anyone owns a copy of Descent (because you need the HOG and PIG files) and wants to try what I have so far, let me know.

This requires Windows.

Also, you can buy Descent 1 and 2 for like $6.00 here.

The version you download would be for DOS.  You can get a Windows/Mac/Linux port of the executable at DXX-Rebirth.  Either way, you have to buy it to get the game's data.

I hope that next time I have a Quake party at my house (soon) we can play this as well.
Posted by Chet at 11:48 AM0 Comments

Or what man, having ten Bibles, if he loses one, does not turn on the light and do a visual sweep of the room and seek diligently until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he calls his wife, saying, "Rejoice with me, for I have found the Bible which I had lost."

-- Adapted from Luke 15

I left my favorite Bible at a meeting just before CIY (a month ago).  I called the church and the lady said that I should ask the person who led the meeting.  I asked him yesterday and he said he had not picked it up, but that there is a stack of Bibles in the room.

So, I go to the room, turn on the light, and see the Bibles.  Mine is not among them.  On my way out, I decided to check some cabinets, and voila, there it is under some papers!  I am so happy.

This is my NASB Bible.  I have many NIV's, but I prefer to memorize from the NASB since it is more literal.  I have been really upset that I could not find it.  On top of that, it was the one year anniversary gift from my wife.

Rejoice with me, for I have found the Bible which I had lost!
Posted by Chet at 6:36 AM2 Comments

I have been working for the past month on bringing the Hillsborough Property Appraiser's website from Perl/Informix to ASP.NET/SQL.  It finally went live today without a hitch.  And it is screaming fast!

Also, we did a major cleanup effort to make the site standard compliant.  The only validation errors I have seen are the use of the "embed" tag to support flash animation.  A necessary evil in as much as it must support Firefox browsers.

here is a link
Posted by Chet at 8:59 PM1 Comment

That's right, we went for the ultrasound today and discovered what was true all along: we are having a boy!

It is what we were hoping for, and it was against most of the predictions.

I honor of this new information, I have reskinned my website (temporarily).
Posted by Chet at 9:00 PM1 Comment

I separated the foreground and background.  Using Flash, I am able to move them independently.

Using the parallax effect, the zoom-out is more realistic.  Amanda changes faster than the door changes because she is closer to the camera.




      
Posted by Chet at 4:03 PM0 Comments

I downloaded Beta 1 of Visual Studio 2010.  The editor is WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) based, rather than the typical WinForms based.  This means that is has a more polished interface and is able to do fancy graphic transformations.  To be completely honest, I don't get the point.  I guess it is because Microsoft wants to phase out the WinForms model eventually.  The performance is good though, so there isn't much to compain about.

From what I have read, 2010 is supposed to be much better behind the scenes.  I haven't seen any differences yet though.  The .NET Framework v4.0 is supposed to have most of the magik.
Posted by Chet at 5:00 PM1 Comment

We just got back from Move (CIY) yesterday.  We went to Anderson, IN, making stops in Atlanda and Louisville on the way there, and Cincinatti and Alpharetta on the way back.  It was amazing.  The topic was Exodus and we went through most of the book.

The biggest thing for me is the realization that our life is the accumulation of "crossings".  We take dozens of small ones a day, and occasionally a large one.  God can trust us with large ones when we are faithful in the small ones.  Joseph is a good example of someone who took those crossings repeatedly.

There is way too much to talk about in a blog post.  The spiritual highlights are complicated.

One of the struggles was that nearly everyone got sick at some point.  We decided that there were three distinct sicknesses going around, some people got one, two, or three of them.  Personally, I got the sinus infection.  Luckily, it didn't hit me until Friday.  Unluckily, I spent most of the three-day trip home sick.

Some of the non-CIY stuff ("auxiliary events", I call them):

We went to King's Island on Friday.  It had a lot of cool rollercoasters.  It also had a 315ft tower which drops you.  I have to say, it was terrifying.  It just seemed to keep going up and up and up.  Just when you thought it would stop climbing, it would just keep going.  There are two other very high things in the park: Delierium (137ft swing) and a 275ft Effil Tower replica, and this thing absolutely dwarved them.

We used our extended rec time to volunteer at the Boys 'n Girls Club in Muncie, IN.  I got to play a little "street ball" with like 20 fourth and fifth graders.  No fouls, no out of bounds.  I am not going to lie, as Kyle Funk would say, it was pretty awesome.

We went to a satellite of North Point Community Church (Browns Bridge edition).  This instance of the church had around 500 people (this is a rough estimate).  One thing that was really neat is that, while we are praying before the sermon, they lowered a projection screen that is the width of the stage, and when you look up you are seeing a video feed from the motherchurch.  The stage there is set up the same way, so it really looks like someone is standing there.  It rocked my face off.

We also found a river in northern Georgia on Sunday and spent a few hours there.  It had mini-waterfalls that you could actually slide down.  I find that if the waterfalls are too small, then they are really just slippery rocks, and if they are too high, you fall to your death.  Truth bomb.

All the kids did very well.  They took the lessons seriously and we didn't have any disciplinary issues.

Out of the four locations that I have been to for CIY/MOVE, this was my least favorite.  No inspiring mountains, and oddly enough the weather was exactly like Florida, hot and humid.  It was like 96° out there, just too hot.  Also, the food was ho-hum, and the facility was spread out.  And, our room was on the fourth floor.  There were no elevators, so we had to schlep ourselves up and down several times a day.  The girls were on the third floor (different building) and had to do the same thing.  Oh yeah, and communal showers.

One other thing, there were only about 500 people at this event, yet it seemed like it packed (except the auditorium, which was practically empty).  Full capacity for the week was over 2,000.  I cannot imagine the nightmare the cafeteria would have been had the event been at full capacity.

I am not complaining, just wanted to get the facts out.
Posted by Chet at 3:44 PM0 Comments

I have had a Twitter account for a while now.  I signed up because it is a possible way of communicating with gadgets, like my Arduino (pronounced: Are D'wii Know).

Anyway, I wrote a program a little while ago called the Random Twitter.  At varying intervals, it generates a random sentence and posts it.  Check out the posts: http://www.twitter.com/chetos82/.  Sometimes they are totally nonsensical.  Other times they are very insightful.  One recent example is, "A picture is mechanically alerting me of the bad linen."  Wow, I learn something new every day.

My random number generator isn't doing so well, but it puts the word "linen" in a lot.  Perhaps it is cold.
Posted by Chet at 9:20 AM1 Comment

Amanda and I went to Savannah for our sixth anniversary.  We stayed at an inexpensive hotel which turned out to be very nice.  They even served contentnial breakfast (a nice one with eggs and sausage).

On Friday night, we didn't want to start roaming, so we went and saw Terminator Salvation.  An excellent movie.

It rained most of the three days we were there, starting around 10:30 and stopping around 4:00.  We did manage to do some sightseeing when the rain let up.  On Saturday, after driving though the city while it rained for a few hours, we went to the Davenport House, which is just a nice example of Federal architecture.  We spent over two hours in the Bonaventure Cemetery, and actually got locked in after hours.  Luckily a guy came by and let us out (apparently they lock the gate to keep people from coming in, but we thought we were in trouble).

On Sunday, the rain started even earlier, but we decided to keep on moving though to Tybee Island, and it wasn't raining there.  So, we spent a few hours at Fort Pulaski.  This fort is more interesting than Castillo de San Marcos.  It even has a small system of underground hallways and storage (it isn't really underground, they just piled mounds of dirt on it).

We love lighthouses, so after the fort, we went to Tybee Island Lighthouse.  It is 154 feet tall, and has 179 steps.  It also provides a great view of the Savannah River and Atlantic Ocean.  It isn't as tall as Ponce de Leon lighthouse (at 175 feet) or Anastasia Island lighthouse (at 165 feet), but it is close enough.  We saw a huge cargo ship enter the ocean.

That night, we ate the most expensive dinner we had ever had.  It was at the "17 hundred 90", which is a very fancy restaurant in the basement of an old house.

Monday morning we beat the rain and walked River Street (a bunch of tourist shops right on the riverfront).  We left just as the rain started coming down.

This was our first vacation together outside Florida (we went to Texas before, but that was to visit family).
Posted by Chet at 2:50 PM0 Comments

I just read that Nintendo is going to release a new version of Metroid for the Wii.  This makes me so happy because I am a huge fan of Metroid.  The reason we bought the Wii for for Metroid and Zelda (Amanda loves Zelda).

I read about a year ago that Nintendo was going to discontinue the Metroid franchise (for a while at least), which was disappointing.  Hopefully this Metroid will be the best yet.
Posted by Chet at 8:11 AM0 Comments

Yesterday was our 6th anniversary (or 72nd monthiversary).  Six years ago today we were traveling to Sanibel Island for the bulk of our honeymoon.

Amanda got me a digital multimeter and peanut M&Ms, and I got her some earrings and roses.
Posted by Chet at 8:46 AM0 Comments

Amanda got to celebrate her first Mother's Day yesterday.  We are so happy.

Also, happy Mother's Day to my mom, and mother-in-law!
Posted by Chet at 11:30 AM0 Comments

Check out http://cameochemicals.noaa.gov/.  You can put in various chemicals and see what you get when they are combined.

It was designed for environmental disaster mitigation (think industrial spill).
Posted by Chet at 9:59 AM0 Comments

Great news!  Amanda is pregnant.  We had our first ultrasound today, and the baby is right at 7 weeks.

We waited to tell most people until after the first sonogram.  Thank you to those who knew for your prayers.

I will post a scanned copy of the image on Facebook later today.

images/babysonogram4072009.jpg
Posted by Chet at 2:39 AM0 Comments

Well, I broke down and used my Christmas money to buy an Arduino Duemilanove.  This is an ATmega328 microprocessor on a board with all the support circuitry.  The entire unit is called an Arduino, "Smart Projects" builds the boards and wrote the bootloader firmware, which allows it to communicate via USB.  The model name "Duemilanove" is Italian for 2009 (the year of this model's production).

You can read a whole lot more on Arduino's website, or you could look at the Arduino wikipedia entry.

To expand it, you hook up "shields", which are just printed circuit boards that send data on some of the Arduino's I/O ports.  The three that most excite me are:

* Ethernet Sheild (for network access)
* XBee (enables 100ft wireless communication between Arduinos)
* Touchshield (touchscreen interface).

The Ethernet shield is *relatively* cheap at about $40.  The XBee shield is $65 (and you would need at least two).  The Touchscreen is about $175.  I guess I'll be saving my birthday and Christmas money for a few years :-).

But, you only need one Ethernet shield to get it to communicate with the outside world.  And I am thinking I can inject 5V in the unused wires to power it.

I don't know what I am going to do with it, but a few cool ideas:

* Home Automation (turn on lights and stuff remotely)
* Data Logging (temperature, humidity, etc)
* Drawing or simple cutting (like a CNC machine)
* Various LED effects (think Knight Rider)
* High speed photography

That is all I can come up with right now.

The ATmega328 is an 8-bit processor running at 16MHz, it has 2K of RAM and 1KB of non-volatile EEPROM.  It has 32KB of flash memory, which is used to hold programs.

The Arduino folks have written an IDE used to program it, the language looks like C.

Oh, and you have to watch out for "kits", which are cheaper.  They are unassembled, they provide the board and components and you have to solder them and junk.  I am no good at it, so it is worth the extra $15 dollars to have them built.

Also, there are three different models of the XBee, but only one XBee shield (they all fit), so a lot of companies sell the shield alone.  This means it looks like you are getting a great deal, but you actually have to by the XBee chip separately (which is the bulk of the price).  The best XBee chip can broadcast about 1 mile if you have line of sight.
Posted by Chet at 11:51 PM2 Comments

I downloaded the Ocean's Twelve soundtrack, and I have to say, it is really fun to program while listening to Jazz Fusion and slightly-Psychedelic Rock.
Posted by Chet at 12:28 PM0 Comments

I just downloaded the final version of Internet Explorer 8.  This is a great improvement over IE7, and worlds away from IE6.  It is nearly as standards compliant as Firefox, and even passes the Acid2 test.

Hopefully some of the strange rendering bugs that I have seen in Beta 2 are completely gone (such as the text being cut off in mid-page, actually through words).  I don't think I saw any of that in RC2.

Also, I am glad my GIS sites (like Levy PA's) work without modification.
Posted by Chet at 1:09 PM0 Comments

AIG paid out something like $165 million in bonuses.  They received $85 billion loan.  I think the $165 million is small change compared to the whole package.

And... the government gave AIG that money so they could carry out their business.  Guess what, paying its employees is part of carrying out their business.

On top of that, they specifically added text to the stimulus package saying that any contracts in place before Feb 20, 2009, were to be upheld.  Although, I did the research and found out it wasn't Dodd who put it there (on page S1609-S1610).

Anyway, I call this a red herring because while everyone is up in arms about $165 million in bonuses, we are not watching while the other $85 billion gets blown.
Posted by Chet at 12:47 PM1 Comment

You have got to check out a new Google Labs project called "In Quotes".  This lets you search for certain terms that someone said.  For example, I can type "earmarks" into the search box, and that term is added to the list.  I can press the down button to go back and see what he has said.

Here is a good one: Obama saying that there will be no earmarks in the stimulus package, just before his inaugaration.

"The package will set a 'new higher standard of accountability, transparency and oversight. We are going to ban all earmarks, the process by which individual members insert projects without review,' Obama said. 'We're not having earmarks in the recovery package. Period.'"

This is from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/01/06/congress-convenes-confront-economic-crisis-obama-response/

And for those of you who think that they weren't earmarks (call them something else), Obama himself admits that there were earmarks in it at: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2009/03/63934377/1

Anyway, this is a great tool to quickly find what someone has said on a subject.

Oh, you can also filter by year.  So I can see what he said during 2008 only, and here is a good quote: "Earmarks have 'been an issue for a while now,' Obama said in an interview. 'But, obviously, we're entering into a political season, which means that they're going to get amplified. I don't think there's anything wrong with the concept of earmarks if they are transparent and above board.' But, he added, a one-year moratorium to review the earmarking process would generate 'confidence that taxpayer money is being well spent.'" (source: Washington Post in March 2008)
Posted by Chet at 2:18 PM0 Comments

The O'bama administration keeps saying that the Bush administration hid the cost of the Iraq war by not including it in the budget.

For one, if this was such a big deal, Congress could have / should have not voted for the bill.

For two, I think it is hiding the cost by including it in the budget.  By leaving it out of the budget, Congress had to vote for the war effort as a separate measure, which made it a news story on its own.

Remember John Kerry saying, "I actual did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it."  Do you think anyone would have known/cared that we were spending $87 billion if it were just another line item on the total federal budget?  Nope.

This is just like when FCC merged all housing costs into one lump sum.  This let them wiggle around on the actual cost of the constituent elements (like electric and cable bills), but leave the price the same.  If the price of energy went down, it didn't cause the price of housing to go down, because you just paid a "housing fee".  Now, Obama can quietly lower the budget for the war, and nobody will notice, because it is part of a larger bill.
Posted by Chet at 12:16 AM2 Comments

The news keeps saying that Obama will cut spending by increasing taxes on the "wealthiest Americans".

You don't cut spending by increasing taxes... you increase revenue by increasing taxes.

This is like saying that I will cut spending by working extra hours at work, the sentence just doesn't make sense.

It is just a marketing tactic so that Obama doesn't have to say he is raising taxes: "I am not raising taxes, I am just cutting spending."  He isn't cutting spending by 1 trillion (as he claims), he is increasing taxes by 1 trillion.

Because, for liberals, letting you keep more of your money is them
spending less ☺
Posted by Chet at 2:07 PM0 Comments

It drives me nuts when people draw conclusions about what we should think/do during the "breaking of bread" by analyzing the word "communion".

Things like:
1) Communion and community share the same root, therefore we are demonstrating that we are a community by taking communion together.

2) We are communing with Christ, or some other mystic nonsense.

The greek word that refers to "the Lord's supper" is eucharistia (εύχαριστία), and means "thankgiving".  If we are going to be analyzing any words, this is the word we should be analyzing.

I also see no evidence that the Lord's supper and "agape feasts" are one and the same.  In fact, if I read 1 Corithians 11:19ff correctly, it seems that the εύχαριστία was not supposed to be a meal!
Posted by Chet at 6:38 PM0 Comments

I lost my website and email for a few days because I let my domain expire.  Oops.  I knew the time was coming, but I forgot to do it on Friday.

Luckily, gone are the days where, if you let your domain expire, it was bought by a squatter the next day.  Now registrars do a "temporary hold" for about a week, and then there is a Internic imposed 45 day hold.

Still, it takes a while for all the DNS servers to refresh their caches, especially on an active site.
Posted by Chet at 9:07 AM2 Comments

Is Windows Vista going to be a Windows ME?  Remember Windows ME?  Windows 2000 was released in 1999 and swept the business market.  Windows 98 was still used by home users.  Home users who were more advanced (like me) just put Windows 2000 on their home computers.  Everything was great... except that Microsoft had spent 4+ years creating a NT operating system for home users, and it still wasn't finished.

Well, Microsoft released Windows ME in late 2000 with great fanfare, it was supposed to be the next great home operating system.  It turns out though, that it was just Windows 98 with a better interface.  It was still a 16-bit DOS based operating system running with a 32-bit GUI.

Microsoft released Windows XP just over a year later.  People who had upgraded their computers to use ME were very upset.  They didn't know that they had bought an intermediate product, which was probably released simply to keep Microsoft on everyone's minds (and to make a few extra bucks on upgrade paths).  XP was the real "next big thing", Microsoft had just released an temporary product to keep the line going.

Is Vista just another round of ME-like behavior?  Windows XP is a solid product, Microsoft doesn't want people just sitting on a old version because they don't make money on upgrades, so they create a new version, under much fanfare, that underdelivers... and then turns around a year later with the real "next big thing".

It looks like Windows 7 is what Microsoft has really been working on behind the scenes.  It uses some technology from Vista and XP, but it is really the big step that Vista was supposed to be.  One reason I think this is because the codename is "Blackcomb", which was a codename that has been floating around since "Longhorn" (Vista).  They were both rumors at the same time, and we assumed that "Blackcomb" was simply the server version of "Longhorn".

Since Windows 7 is a consumer OS, and it's codename was rumored at the same time as Vista, I have to assume that development was going on.  Which means the Microsoft knew that it was building two consumer OSes at the same time -- exactly as happened with ME and XP.

Another possibility is that "Blackcomb" was the real product and "Longhorn" was just an snapshot of it that was polished and shipped.  Either way, millions of people got stuck buying the intermediate product.
Posted by Chet at 12:05 PM2 Comments

I installed Windows7 on a virtual machine.  It is pretty nice, looks like a new version of Vista.  The start button has been replaced with a fancy circle, and the taskbar buttons no longer contain the name of the program, until you hover over it.

It was a bit too slow to really try it out in the VM, also hardware acceleration was disabled, so I couldn't check out any fancy graphics.

If you have a spare machine, I definately recommend trying it out.  Clean install is painless.
Posted by Chet at 5:01 PM0 Comments

Every once in a while my computer stops letting me drag icons around.  It is very frustrating.  Sometimes I go so far as to reboot my computer.

Well, it happened again today, and I started searching for a fix.  And it turns out that my ESC button is stuck.  It didn't look stuck, but I saw on a web page that it might be.  So I pressed it, and viola, I can drag again.

Just putting this tip on the web for others to find.
Posted by Chet at 11:59 AM0 Comments

Well, the CTP of VS 2010 is out, along with .NET Framework v4.0.  I downloaded the 24GB Virtual PC image, finally had time to run it... and... it says that it has expired and offers to let me upgrade to VS 2008.  Wow, what a let down.

I am downloading Windows 7 Beta right now, we'll see how that goes.  It isn't designed to run in Virtual PC, but hopefully it will work anyway because I don't have a machine to wipe out.
Posted by Chet at 6:19 PM0 Comments

Does the style of music convey meaning?  Is there meaning in music beyond the words themselves?

This is something I have wondered for a long time.  There just seems to be something dark about heavy metal, forget the words.  Is it simply a style, that can be yolked with "Christian" lyrics at will?  Is music art?  I believe it is.

Art conveys a philosophy, a worldview.  This fact is not really disputed, and is how someone can look at art and try to discern what the artist was communicating.  If it is not possible to discern the meaning in a work of art, then "art appreciation" is meaningless.  Art is considered intellectually enriching.  We get the cliche "A picture is worth a thousand words..." because the work of art is full of information.

What the artist thinks is real (ontology), what the artist thinks is important and, traditionally, beautiful, impact the nature of his work.

Now, does art simply convey meaning in the subject of the work (i.e., is it only the drawn/sculpted object that is important), or does the decision to express it in a particular genre (like still life, pastoral, fantastic, etc), or movement/style (like cubism, expressionism, realism) matter as well?

The styles reflect a set of ideas.  You can determine what those ideas are (to a point), by following the history of a style, and the reasons it evolved (read the Wikipedia article on Futurism for a case study).  I am not an aesthetist, so I don't know exactly how culture influences art, but I know that it does.  Art movements are a product of their culture, for example, with the rise of Postmodernism, we see that art picks up some traits of that philosophy such as chance (randomness), anarchy (no standards), process (uncomplete art), "antiform" (using circles when lines would normally be used).  I am not good at actually critiquing art, but I understand the basic concepts.

A art critic will take the subject matter, the physical material, the genre, and the style, and attempt to figure out what the artist means (I am not considering the deconstructionist critic's methods, because they don't believe the artist's meaning is relevant (which is itself another expression of anarchy in Postmodernism)).

So, if music is art, and the style and genre of art conveys meaning, that means that a musical work's style and genre convey meaning as well.

If music is art, then we have a problem.  If style and genre convey meaning in music, we need to carefully consider what we are conveying when we hook Christian lyrics (the subject of the work) to a particular style and genre.

Can there be "Christian rock", or "Christian death-metal", I don't know; I haven't decided.  What about psychedelic music?  That style of music was specifically designed to disengage the mind, doesn't that matter?

All I am saying is that I no longer buy the argument that only the words matter.
Posted by Chet at 12:57 PM2 Comments

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