Tuesday, April 26, 2005

My Hero

I was eating lunch at Papa Del's today with a couple of friends. At some point, a small family came in with a toddler. The toddler had a Happy Meal from McDonald's. Their waiter informed them that no outside food was allowed in the restaurant. The family protested, "It's just a kid; he can't eat anything from here; give me a break; that's ridiculous," and so on.

After a minute or two of this, some random guy on the other side of the dining room shouts, "That's bullshit!" He stood up and marched across the dining room, chest puffed up, and inserted his opinion into the conflict. "That's bullshit," he reasserted. "You can tell your manager that I'm never going to eat here again. And I'll tell all of my friends that are parents to never eat here, too."

Ahh, my hero, sweeping in to save the fair maiden. I will be eating there again (or maybe not, since I'm moving). Restaurants (and their lawyers) have to cover their asses; no outside food is standard policy at most establishments. Plus they have awesome deep dish pizza.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

New Job!

I've accepted a job with Avanade in Chicago and have officially tendered my resignation here at the U of I. My last day will be Friday, May 6th; my first day will be Wednesday, May 11th. I'll post more about the job search at another time. I'm going up to Chicago tonight for the Cubs game tomorrow (my birthday), and then lunch with my family on Saturday. This should be a good weekend: I have reason to celebrate!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Save our Bluths!

If you watch Arrested Development, no doubt you're aware that the number of episodes this season was cut from 22 to 18, a sign that the show may not be renewed for next year. Enter SaveOurBluths.com, a website devoted to keeping the show on the air.

Via simplegeek.com.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Offshore development

Reposted from Boing Boing:

Three San Diego entrepreneurs plan to start a cut-rate outsourcing plant for software development three miles off the coast of Los Angeles aboard a used cruise ship moored in international waters.

Wired with a fat T3 pipe fed by microwave, SeaCode would employ 600 developers - the bulk of them non-U.S. citizens - who could crank out code around the clock at a lower cost and higher rate of efficiency than their American counterparts. The beauty part (at least according to the proponents) is that business would be booming, the headquarters could change sail wherever business took it, and RnR would be just a half-hour water-taxi ride away. In your neighborhood.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Wal-Mart doesn't like unions

A Wal-Mart in Quebec is closing after workers voted to unionize. Sounds like everyone lost. Wal-Mart closed a store. Workers lost jobs. Wal-Mart gets to maintain its zero-union track record. Maybe this will inspire other Wal-Mart employees to attempt to unionize (and maybe even succeed), leading to a more friendly (if slightly more expensive) Wal-Mart.

Via somedotorg.org.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Firefox about:config

This is a post mainly for my future reference. I may edit it as I learn new things. Feel free to ignore.

  • Full list
  • browser.startup.page - Page to open on browser startup. 0: Blank, 1 (default) Home (a.k.a. browser.startup.homepage), 2: Last (probably does not work)
  • browser.block.target_new_window - True: Links with target set to _blank will open in the current tab instead of a new window. False: Links with target set to _blank will open in a new window. Note: No longer in use. Use browser.link.open_newwindow instead.
  • browser.link.open_newwindow.restriction - 0 (default): Force all new windows opened by Javascript into tabs. 1: Let all windows opened by Javascript open in new windows. (Default behavior in IE.) 2: Catch new windows opened by Javascript that do not have window attribute values set; otherwise allow them to open a new window.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Absurd Restrictions

Warning: Rant Alert.

I have a Fleet credit card that has recently become a Bank of America credit card due to their merger. I logged into the new site with my existing username and password. I was immediately redirected to a screen where I was told to change my username and password.

The username must be ten to twenty numbers. No letters are permitted. They suggest using my social security number. Aren't we (as a society) supposed to be moving away from SSNs? I don't want to use my drivers license number since it's based on a deterministic algorithm. I don't want to use my SSN because I keep hearing that I need to protect that number. So what am I to do? Use a random number that I can't remember? Maybe the credit card number itself?

The password must be four to seven number and/or letters. No symbols are allowed. So my favorite eight character password that is mixed-case and includes numbers, letters and symbols is off limits—despite the fact that it's actually a more secure password.

I'm so peeved about these restrictions I'm tempted to cancel the card. I cancelled another card (Capital One) recently because they kept sending me SPAM about how I should transfer my balances, even after I "removed" myself multiple times, and even exchanged emails with real live humans! Stupid jackasses who make arbitrary, insecure decisions that interfere with my life.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


I read Jay Bazuzi's personal blog. In his professional life he's a Microsoft employee working on the Visual Studio C# IDE. He's been talking about eating live (fermented) food recently, and I've found myself intrigued. When I went to Africa last summer, I took a probiotic supplement. Good bacteria in your intestines helps your body fend off potential unpleasantness, so I'm comfortable with the idea. So last night I ordered some kefir grains from a seller in Chicago. Kefir is a fermented milk drink. You put the grains (starter culture) in milk and let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours. The bacteria in the kefir breaks down the lactose. The bacteria also has the benefit of being able to colonize your intestines. That sounds good to me: a bacteria living in my intestines that can help my body break down lactose. I'm looking forward to this experiment!


I saw this on The NewsHour last night (emphasis added):

Speaking at a Geneva conference two weeks ago, Jan Egeland said: "Measured in human lives lost, I think that Congo is the number one problem in the world today." Egeland added that the number of casualties amounts to: "...a tsunami every month, year in and year out, for the last six years..."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Buffalo Tofu?

I bought some Frank's Red Hot sauce so that I could make some Buffalo wings (Frank's and butter is the original sauce, created at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York in the 1960s). I decided to try pan fried tofu coated in the sauce instead of chicken. It was good. It turns out that chicken is just a vehicle for the delicious sauce.

A town in mourning

It was sad driving around Champaign today, seeing all the windows that were still soaped with, "GO ILLINI," feeling the somber mood, seeing the flags at half staff. (Okay, maybe that was for the Pope.) It was an amazing season. Too bad it didn't end up the way we all hoped it would.

I got a parking ticket while I was watching the game. I was parked in a lot that required a permit until 5:00. At 4:41 I was issued a $20 ticket. Sheesh. $20 for 19 minutes.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Improving Internet search: an idea

Kent and I were talking about Google results and the idea of customizing them. The result of our discussion ended up being sent to suggestions-at-google-dot-com. I think it's a really cool idea. It's such a big idea, though, that it would take a company like Google to pull it off. Do you think it would work? The suggestion:

I would like to be able to add weight to certain domains/sites such that they bubble higher up in my search results. For example, I like Wikipedia results. I would like to customize my search results such that pages from en.wikipedia.org get an extra "bonus" in their PageRank.

Building on that idea, it would be cool if I could add people that I know to a network of my friends. I could weight my friends so that their search preferences (preferred sites) also reflect in my search results. The further away a person is in the chain of people, the less their preferences effect my results.

This might be implemented as a star system on the results page. If I was satisfied, I can click back and score that result with 5 stars. If it did not answer my query, or if it was some search engine spam, I can give it 1 star.

The idea of bringing human feedback and social networks to Internet search could really make results better.