Interesting discoveries #02

It’s been a busy week at work; I never thought I had the time to write this. So here’s what I gathered the past week or so.

1. Read: The Art of Racing in the Rain

A sweet book about a racer from a dog’s perspective. It’s not a book I would have picked up if not for Amazon’s offer and reviews. It’s a good book but I shan’t delve into what Amazon has already decide to be anyway.

The fact that I bought a book on mere offer must have meant something. My spending methods have changed. I use to despise the idea of going to the supermarket and purchasing goods simply because the item is on offer. I now found myself succumbing to that temptation and a half-an-hour introspection was to follow.

Story! Yes, the book is good and this is coming from a reader neither a racing enthusiast nor a dog owner. I do like dogs though.

2. Gun fires in Sandy Hook Elementary School

The most heart-wrenching story of the week is to be the case (CNN) where a gunman killed 26 people at the school, including 20 children, before taking his own life on Friday. I was watching the video reports of this online.

It’s leading to gun control debates, even the National Rifle Association has pretty much shut up in their Twitter account. Moving on from the tragedy, it’s a good opportunity to discuss on the issues with gun ownership and I believe America will reach a rightful conclusion in the months to come. It does irk me a little that the discussion got distracted by people who are calling for more god in schools. Focus on the gun policies first, we’ll talk about morals later.

3. The Walking Dead

Kevin recommended me The Walking Dead and I have been pretty much glued to it. The Walking Dead is an American television drama series developed by Frank Darabont. It is based on the comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. The series stars Andrew Lincoln as sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes, who awakens from a coma to find the world dominated by flesh-eating “walkers”, resembling the zombies of George A. Romero’s horror movies. He sets out to find his family and encounters many other survivors along the way.

I am not why the drama distance themselves from the “zombie” association. I found that hard to accept. Given the whole setting was made to resemble reality — i.e. having places like the CDC, Fort Benning and Atlanta — I feel a little “betrayed” that no one seems to know about “zombies.” Why is that even so? This is not the reality I live in. Of all the efforts that place in creating this familiar environment, I found myself constantly awaken at each mention of the word “zombie.”

The Walking Dead has good story arcs but falls shorts in their lines. I love the visuals too.

4. Apache Maven

I never came across Apache Maven until this week where my new job requires me to. Maven is a build automation tool typically used for Java projects. Maven serves a similar purpose to the Apache Ant tool, but it is based on different concepts and works in a profoundly different manner. It can also be used to build and manage projects written in C#, Ruby, Scala, and other languages.

I don’t have much of comment on this accept that it is one of the most complicated build management tool I have seen. Or maybe I’m just unfamiliar with these things.

5. SimCity, released on March

What got me excited this week most is the upcoming SimCity.

I leave you the video to watch.

6. Upgrading/buying a new computer

I never learnt so much about computers until I have intentions to buy on. My new work place is at Sunshine Plaza and that is a 5 minute walk away from nerd heaven Sim Lim Square. So I was there doing a bit of cost research. I don’t plan to spend a lot on a computer since I’m just going to play SimCity on it when it is released.

If possible I am going to just stick with an integrated graphic card. I saw that the upcoming Intel Haswell micro-architecture has a significant improvement on their Intel HD offerings and I am looking forward to it although I might not have the patience to wait for it. Making a decision when SimCity is out is definitely not too late so, I’ll do that!

For those self-professed hardware idiots, like me, the update is they are now on DDR3 RAM, and the graphic cards are less a necessity more an option. Also the CPU casings are getting more beautiful. And also Intel i5 3330 (Ivy Bridge) seems to suffice. MSI is cheaper than Asus and it’s okay to get cheaper motherboards, they aren’t as bad as the cheaper motherboards of the past. Okay I know nerd language now. Moving on.

7. Sunshine Plaza

How little they did for Christmas decorations:

Sunshine Plaza

Sunshine Plaza has a mall, a residential and office building. It’s across Fortune Center. Good location, I’m happy it’s near all the tiny food places. Will update on that.

8. Google Maps for iOS

Google Maps for iOS is just pure joy to use after the 4 month deprivation of it. Currently the Google Maps application is top in Apple’s App Store and has a 5 out of 5 average rating. Google really deserves this and Apple has help educate the public how hard it is to get mapping right. Google has triumphed this time and Apple is probably a bit thankful for that. It’s time to put Apple Maps in the folder where I place all the crap I can’t uninstall.

I would have but cannot get rid of the following applications:

  • Reminders
  • Notes
  • Weather
  • Compass
  • Voice Memos
  • Stocks
  • Passbook
  • Maps

Google Maps team definitely deserve a good vacation.

End notes

This week has been busy and my sore throats gotten worse. I met my new colleagues that I haven’t been as able to be chatty as I could have been. I spend more time reading this week, mainly on Maven, Backbone.js and Handlebars.js. It’s going to an exciting next week.

Porn broadcasted in Indonesia parliament

It turns out that pornography images has invaded the Indonesian parliament. The images were displayed for 15 minutes before officials switched off the screens. I guess 15 minutes is just in time for a quick one.

JAKARTA: Computer screens at the Indonesian parliament broadcast porn images in an incident that caused a shock among journalists and legislators, reports said on Tuesday.

The images were displayed for 15 minutes before officials switched off the screens.

“It’s not a funny incident,” Roy Suryo, a Democratic Party lawmaker, was quoted by the Globe as saying. “Someone must be held responsible for it.” (Source: Times of India)

Oh yes it’s funny. Just laugh it off. It’s no big deal Mr lawmaker. By the way, Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

Google explains why all sites may harm your computer

This is Google’s response for informing all their users that every site on this world wide web is harmful to their computer. “Very simply, human error,” they confessed. It’s a huge mistake and definitely shaken people’s confidence a little. But by being truthful about the whole incident without using the word “whoops” (like Dreamhost) is good PR still.

“This site may harm your computer” on every search result?!?!

What happened? Very simply, human error. Google flags search results with the message “This site may harm your computer” if the site is known to install malicious software in the background or otherwise surreptitiously. We do this to protect our users against visiting sites that could harm their computers. We maintain a list of such sites through both manual and automated methods. We work with a non-profit called StopBadware.org to come up with criteria for maintaining this list, and to provide simple processes for webmasters to remove their site from the list.

We periodically update that list and released one such update to the site this morning. Unfortunately (and here’s the human error), the URL of ‘/’ was mistakenly checked in as a value to the file and ‘/’ expands to all URLs. Fortunately, our on-call site reliability team found the problem quickly and reverted the file. Since we push these updates in a staggered and rolling fashion, the errors began appearing between 6:27 a.m. and 6:40 a.m. and began disappearing between 7:10 and 7:25 a.m., so the duration of the problem for any particular user was approximately 40 minutes. (Source: Google Blog)

I was a little troubled yesterday and had to use Yahoo for searches but I wasn’t too concern. Here’s StopBadware’s side of the story.

Did you know what does CAPTCHA stand for?

Back in the days of the army – actually that was just 2 years old but I like to make it sound real long ago – we always had different courses to attend, different software systems to use. And they always have these crazy contrived acronyms that would sound nice (some failed). I always imagine a bunch of people brainstorming a name for the product, then subsequently spend 5 times longer to figure how to have the long form fit the acronym. And one would go, “how about COURAGE?” Then a bunch of people start writing down what can COURAGE possibly stand for only to get rejected one by one and move on to try PRIDEST or something. The whole procedure is iterative.

So much time spent on a contrived acronym. And everyone chipped in. I give the silliest acronym as much of my interest lies in finishing my program, my book, my whatever, just anything but the acronym. I can’t be bothered. I think Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express Edition Service Pack 1 is fine. And I think calling (EDIT: I fell asleep here.)

Oh I digressed too much. Anyway, CAPTCHA actually stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”.

Ubuntu destroys college dream

Ubuntu destroys someone’s college dream:

US woman says Ubuntu can’t access internet

According to WKOW TV, Abbie Schubert recently ordered a Dell laptop, expecting “your classic bread-and-butter computer.” But when she unboxed the $1,100 machine that arrived, she didn’t find bread and butter. She found Ubuntu.

WKOW TV called Ubuntu “an operating system for your computer similar to Windows that runs off the Linux system.”

“It’s been a mess,” Schubert said. “I regret ordering the computer.”

She had never heard of Ubuntu. So she called Dell. Dell said there was still time to replace her Ubuntu. Then Dell told her not to. “The person I was talking to said Ubuntu was great, college students loved it, it was compatible with everything I needed,” she explained.

So she kept Ubuntu, then decided that Ubuntu doesn’t always work like Windows. Her Verizon internet wouldn’t load. She couldn’t install Microsoft Word. And she said without Word and the internet, she couldn’t take online classes at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

So she dropped out of the college’s fall and spring semesters. (Source: The Register)

She’s quite unresourceful it appears. First time I heard someone accidentally buying Linux. Never purchase a computer without knowing what you’re buying. Get a friend who at least know something.

Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start

Want to know the story behind Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start? It’s sometimes referred to as Konami code and is implemented in many games, even those not from Konami.

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A

First executed on an NES game (not Contra!) developed by Konami in 1986, the Konami code (and slight variances of it) can now be inputted in more than 125 different computer, video, and arcade games—some of which aren’t even developed by Konami, the company that created the code in the first place!

Because Contra was one of the more popular NES titles in the day and basically required the Konami code for the average player to complete (the code granted 30 lives from the start, instead of three), most people associate the code’s existence with it. In reality though, the Konami code first appeared in Gradius in 1986, two years before Contra.

In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty on PS2, entering the sequence at the end of the game has the main character, Snake, barking, “STOP FOOLIN’ AROUND KID!” At the end of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater for PS2, Snake confirms “One More to Go…” referring to the fourth and final installment in the series on PS3.

There are a number more of hilarious consequences for using the code, like it causing your main character to self destruct in Contra 4 if you use the code more than once per level to power-up your guns or in the Dog-developed NES title 3-D World Runner, a message pops up that exclaims, “I AM NOT KONAMI.” The code can even be used in Google Reader of all things, enabling a different background color for the left-hand navigation and updating all unread counts to 30 (a homage, no doubt, to Contra’s 30 lives). You know the code has reached pop culture when Google starts using it. (Source: Game Informer)

There you have it, this is what happen in Google Reader, you get a ninja and your unread count becomes 30. Refreshing will return your unread count to the original value. Pretty cool I say.

Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Google Reader

(Press Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A in Google Reader and get Ninja!)

The code is even in a song by The Moldy Peaches – Anyone Else But You (of Juno fame).

Oh my, there’s an RFC to choosing computer names

RFC 1178 is Choosing a Name for Your Computer. RFC stands for Request For Comment.

If you so believe a computer name ought to be perfect (or maybe even standardized within your organization), consider reading the document:

Read RFC 1178.

Status of this Memo

This FYI RFC is a republication of a Communications of the ACM article on guidelines on what to do and what not to do when naming your computer. This memo provides information for the Internet community. It does not specify any standard.

Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Abstract

In order to easily distinguish between multiple computers, we give them names. Experience has taught us that it is as easy to choose bad names as it is to choose good ones. This essay presents guidelines for deciding what makes a name good or bad.

Keywords: domain name system, naming conventions, computer administration, computer network management

Choosing names of computers are quite important. My netbook used to be called AspireOne and every time I use the school network, there’s someone with the same name. Then there’ll be this annoying pop up box informing me someone is already using that name.

Today, my netbook’s name is “IMTHE1ANDONLY”. Don’t copy cat.

I hate wires but I have tons of it

Take a look at all the wires around my computer. I have wires for the modem, the router, the computer, the netbook, the external hard disk, the iPod, the cable television thingy and all my other computer peripherals:

All the wires around my computer

At one point of time I actually wanted to wireless most of my computer set up. I started with the keyboard and mouse set up. I bought one of those wireless desktop set from Microsoft. It worked but not all the time.

There was this slight lag when typing, probably a 0.1 second lag but it’s there and I feel it. It’s enough to make to prefer wires. I talked to Uzyn that time he encountered a similar problem too. Once in a while, the mouse wouldn’t really response and that ticks me off greatly (when I couldn’t click and hold to select my units on the screen successfully).

As you can see much of my computer table is made of metal and that probably affected the wireless to some extend. Today I live with the wires. Things are really messy but at least they work. Wireless? No thanks.

[By the way, the elongated cylindric thing is a CD holder and does not contain beer.]