May 2007 Archives

Links for 22 May 2007 []

I've got Gas

Natural gas, that is. Because of this fact, Nicor (my gas provider) needs to inspect the meter--some requirement from the federal government as part of the "Federal Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act." They are nice enough to send me a letter that states they would like to set "up an appointment at a time convenient for [me]" (emphasis mine).

So I call them up. It takes her forever (ok, probably about 3 minutes) to bring up the appointments "screen"--mental noite, they need a new computer system if it takes that long. The conversation proceeds something like this:

CS: Are mornings or evenings better for you?
ME: What are the definitions of morning and evening?
CS: We have appointment windows from 8a-noon, 8a-5p, and noon-5p.
At this point I'm thinking, well a 4 hour window isn't all that convenient, and noon-5p doesn't really seem like evenings to me...
ME: It depends on the day.

The screen finally comes up...

CS: Our first available morning appointment is Thursday, May 31.
ME: How about a weekend?
CS: Oh, we don't do weekends, it's Monday through Friday only.
ME: I guess we have a problem then--I'm not really available during the week.

The conversation pretty much finishes up at this point. They need me to be around so that they can be in compliance, but they aren't willing to do a better job about getting here when it is truly convenient for me? I'm not planning on taking a half day off of work so that they can inspect my meter...

I guess when I get another reminder I'll have to try again to get a weekend appointment.

And Back

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Did you miss me?

The drive was longer than the flight would have been, the weather was better than predicted, and the fun was just as great as expected. We made it back from Cedar Point late this afternoon/early evening. Right in the middle of the tiny storm that went through Chicago. Yeah, that big one they were predicting on Friday that caused me not to fly. I'm not bitter...

Anywho, for those that haven't been, Cedar Point is the best amusement park that I have been to. Ever. In our weekend there we rode 13/17 roller coasters, some of them twice. We had an interesting drive around Sandusky in search of non-chain food (and ended up at Outback--go figure). If you do go there, here are some thoughts about the area and the park itself...

Drat... foiled again.

It's been five years that I've been married to my wonderful wife, and each year gets better. In the past, we've planned a little mini vacation to celebrate the event. Usually a long weekend either before or after our anniversary--this year our anniversary is today, so this weekend is the weekend. Usually we plan for me to fly us to wherever we want to go. Usually the trip gets canceled due to illness or weather.

Perhaps I should change that usually to always, as today, in year number five, we are again not flying. Although I am excited that this time we are both healthy! I woke up this morning to a beautiful sunrise and a beautiful day for flying. All excited, I go and verify the forecast for today and for our return trip on Sunday. Uh-oh. Sunday doesn't look that great. Now that I've cancelled the flight, I'm sure Sunday will be beautiful.

At least this year's trip is close enough to drive, so we're still going.

T-80 minutes.

Links for 16 May 2007 []

Links for 09 May 2007 []

Links for 07 May 2007 []

  • Math For Programmers - "Schools are teaching us the wrong math, and they're teaching it the wrong way."
  • ext3cow - Ext3cow is an open-source, versioning file system based on ext3. It provides a time-shifting interface that allows a real-time and continuous view of the past.

My new favorite number


Just thought I'd share it with you....


I leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out why that's my new favorite number...

Web Search Tips: Synonyms

The web is a big place, full of natural resources--well, ok they're all man-made--and chances are very good that you can find something about most anything you are looking for. If you can't, it's either super obscure, and nothing has been written on the topic--unlikely, but possible--or you just aren't looking for it in the right way. This will be the first in a series of posts to help you better find what you are looking for. I make no guarantees on the frequency of these posts, but I will put stuff up as I think of it. All of these posts will be in the "Web Search" category so you can view them all there.

My first tip is to search on synonyms of a word. If you aren't getting the results you want, fire up the thesaurus and look for other words. Search engines are getting better at figuring out spelling errors, but they aren't always great about suggesting alternate words--especially when they can produce some results for your original search terms.

Let's try an example. In this "hypothetical" situation (the statue of limitations is past, and I'm not telling who this was...), I have a friend that has a Sony Vaio laptop. Somehow the monitor on it gets cracked, and I am asked to help fix it. I know that there are replacement parts available out there, so I do a quick search for "Sony Vaio replacement monitor" [Google] [Yahoo!]. For this example, we are going to ignore the ads; we'll talk about that another time...

Notice that on the first page of results, we get some links to Sony, but not their parts division (do they have one?), Amazon trying to sell us a new Vaio, reviews on, but not a whole lot of answers for replacing the monitor. Let's think for a few moments about how we can make this better... We know that we have a Sony Vaio, and there aren't too many other things that a Vaio is called. We can try putting in the specific model number, but that may not help too much. What are we trying to do? We're trying to get a replacement part. We can search for "Sony Vaio replacement parts" but that may or may not be specific enough. What part are we looking for? The monitor. Hmm... What else can we call it? LCD? Display? Screen? Let's try searching for "Sony vaio replacement display" [Google] [Yahoo!]. The first few results on both Google and Yahoo! get us to some replacement parts vendors.

Phew. Crisis averted. Now we can order up a new LCD, fix the laptop, and make our friend happy. It was as simple as changing a word or two, and we get a completely different set of search results.

Unbreak Mouse Gestures?

Dear LazyWeb,

I am sick of sites that trap the right mouse click using javascript so that they can "protect" their source code. I have two problems with this

1. I have news for the proverbial you--if I want your web page, there are ways to get the source. If my browser can display it, I can get it. Don't be lame.
2. It breaks mouse gestures.

That being said, does anyone know of a greasemonkey script (or similar) that will allow me to undo the lameness that is capturing the right click? Don't make me write my own--it'll be ugly.


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This page is an archive of entries from May 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

April 2007 is the previous archive.

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