Mmm-mandoline

We bought a man­do­line yes­ter­day. I was plan­ning on going to Williams-Sono­ma, since we have a gift cer­tifi­cate, but I got a wild hair while I was at the gro­cery store, and I bought one (next door, at Linens-n-Things). It’s the Oxo one.

We used it last night to thin­ly slice a cucum­ber and an onion. It was heav­en. Plus, the whole thing is dish­wash­er safe! But watch those blades, they just might be the sharpest thing we have in the house, and we just got our knives sharp­ened.

I hope to make crin­kle-cut pota­to chips just as soon as I am able.

Honest Tea

Okay, so I was all set to relate the won­ders of Hon­est Tea, a tea drink in a bot­tle ($1.35 here in the mid­dle of the Mid­west) that was billed to me as delight­ful and only slight­ly sweet. I have a sweet tooth when it comes to drinks, and it would do me good to kick that par­tic­u­lar habit. So today I got three bot­tles when the boy and I gave Mom­my some alone time with a trip to the gro­cery store:

  • Gold Rush Cin­na­mon — This stuff smells great, sweet, with a lot of cin­na­mon. It tastes pret­ty good, too, but here is the trick for tea: it smells much stronger than it tastes. In the case of this one, that’s not bad. I would drink this again, and might even go out of my way to look for it.
  • Lori’s Lemon Tea — Pret­ty plain, bor­ing tea. If you can’t be both­ered to make it your­self, you could spend some mon­ey to buy this. I was hop­ing, from the name, that it would be more like a lemon­ade tea, but it’s more like a tea, with lemon wedge.
  • Moroc­can Mint Tea — Not so impres­sive. Smells like mint, has an after­taste of mint, but the mint tea we used to brew at home from the pep­per­mint leaves we got at the New Pio­neer Coop was much bet­ter.

That said, I am look­ing for­ward to find­ing some of their oth­er fla­vors. From their web site, I can see being inter­est­ed in Vanil­la Mint White Tea and Kash­miri Chai. They also have a new line of fruit juices com­ing out, but they might defeat the pur­pose (reduc­ing my depen­dence on sweet drinks).

The wife is of the opin­ion, and right­ly so, that we could make much of this at home. If I could get Hon­est Tea at work, or the fla­vors I like, it would be great. But buy­ing it at the store and bring­ing it home (where I could be mak­ing my own tea) does seem sil­ly. I do like their phi­los­o­phy though, and who can resist the whim­sy of their nam­ing?

So, I guess I’m a programmer

Yes­ter­day, I spent six (6) hours chas­ing down one (1) bug in a web-based pro­gram I am writ­ing for work.

Oy.

This is going to get a bit geeky.

I have a form that pulls data for a select box from a MySQL data­base. Based on what the user choos­es in that select (a drop-down box for you non-geeks), a sec­ond select needs to be pop­u­lat­ed from the data­base. I could pull all the data the first time, and just parse out the appro­pri­ate mate­r­i­al when the user makes their choice, but it is a lot of data, and it seems like that is not the right way.

Instead, when the user choos­es from the first select box, it trig­gers a javascript func­tion with onChange, and that func­tion actu­al­ly sub­mits the form using sub­mit(), but not until chang­ing a vari­able in a hid­den field that indi­cates to the page that the data should not actu­al­ly be INSERT­ed into the data­base. Instead, it uses this sec­ond reload of the page to pull the data for the sec­ond select.

Only, it wasn’t work­ing. The javascript sub­mit() just wouldn’t go. I spent six hours try­ing to debug it, includ­ing writ­ing the page over, find­ing anoth­er page online that did much the same thing, and com­par­ing it, strip­ping out all the extra­ne­ous mate­r­i­al from my form until it looked like that work­ing form… and then, yes­ter­day at 4:05 pm, I found it.

My form has a sub­mit but­ton. It was cod­ed like this:

    <code>&lt;input type="submit" name="submit" value="Add this Client"/&gt;</code>

The form I found that worked, was cod­ed like this:

    <code>&lt;input type="submit" name="Submit" value="Add this Client"/&gt;</code>

And this, ladies and gen­tle­men, is why I don’t want to be a pro­gram­mer.

Why Globat? Here’s why not Globat.

I have an ISP, Globat.com. I am going to be rid of them soon, per­haps soon­er than I thought, if I have my way. I used to park my Inter­net pres­ence with Earth­link, but they cost a lot, and I had been shown this lit­tle com­pa­ny called Glo­bat that offered a ton of space for your web site for just a very lit­tle mon­ey. Earth­link had giv­en me no trou­ble, real­ly, but they were expen­sive, and I was greedy for disk space. So I made the switch.

Glo­bat was fine for a while, until my web site start­ed to choke a lit­tle. And when I had ques­tions about installing Mov­able Type, they were unable/unwilling to help. Each time my web site was inac­ces­si­ble, or if it took sev­er­al min­utes to load my home page, I would duti­ful­ly send off a mes­sage to tech sup­port, let­ting them know of my prob­lems. Once it last­ed a day and a half, but most times it was sev­er­al hours of not-quite-out­age. In one or two of these cas­es (and there were a dozen of them) I received a reply indi­cat­ing that the prob­lem might be oth­er peo­ple on my same serv­er, oth­er cus­tomers, who were tak­ing up too much of the server’s resources.

But most of the time, I’d get a reply from Glo­bat say­ing that they had checked, and every­thing seemed fine with my site, and they were clos­ing the tick­et. Of course, this was 24 to 36 hours lat­er, and the prob­lem had been gone for some time.

Final­ly, I felt they had strung me along enough. I was get­ting two-and-a-half GB of space, sure, but for all the cus­tomer ser­vice I was receiv­ing, I might as well have been beat­ing on the box myself.

I decid­ed to leave. Pick­ing anoth­er ISP was easy, but Glo­bat was no help. I deter­mined to move my sites slow­ly, leav­ing Glo­bat up until it was time to renew, then let­ting it lapse. After all, I paid for a full year in advance.

Well, the jig is up. Tonight, I received a receipt from Glo­bat, let­ting me know that I had been charged for anoth­er full year. I received no notice that my renew­al was com­ing up. I received no indi­ca­tion that I should check my cred­it card on file to make sure my infor­ma­tion was still valid. I just got a receipt.

And so, I asked them to rescind the charge and to can­cel my account imme­di­ate­ly. That they have done, and with an alacrity that belies my pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ences with them.

So… if you want cheap host­ing, Glo­bat is good. If you want cus­tomer ser­vice, try some­one else.

Law-breaking flag supporter now?

Just a quick update on Randy “Duke” Cun­ning­ham (R-CA), spon­sor of the Flag Amend­ment cur­rent­ly work­ing its way through the Sen­ate (it seems it may pass?). It turns out, accord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post in this arti­cle, that he may be a lit­tle too patri­ot­ic, to the tune of $700,000 from a defense con­trac­tor.

If it quacks like a bribe…

Nutty Flag Amendment supporters get nuttier

So, yes­ter­day was appar­ent­ly Flag Day. What­ev­er. USA Today ran an Edi­to­r­i­al about how a Flag Amend­ment (you know, the oft defeat­ed attempt to crim­i­nal­ize the burn­ing of the US flag) was mis­guid­ed, etc. But they also ran an “oppos­ing” edi­to­r­i­al, by Randy “Duke” Cun­ning­ham (R-CA), the spon­sor of the lat­est Flag Amend­ment leg­is­la­tion.

You can read it here.

But let me point out the funniest/scariest part of his argu­ment:

[Our Found­ing Fathers] rec­og­nized, as most Amer­i­cans do, that the free-speech rights of indi­vid­u­als must be con­sid­ered in rela­tion to the rights of all peo­ple, most of whom sup­port pro­tect­ing our nation­al sym­bol.”

So, wait. So, indi­vid­ual free-speech rights must, in some cas­es, be abro­gat­ed in favor of the “rights of all peo­ple?” So, if the major­i­ty of “all peo­ple” dis­agree with me about, say, who should be Pres­i­dent (need I remind us all that 51% is, in fact, a major­i­ty, just not much of one), I should not nec­es­sar­i­ly be allowed to point out that I think their choice is an evil mon­key? You know, because my point­ing that out impinges on their right to… feel good about win­ning?

Let me just point out, for those that think Mr. Cun­ning­ham makes a good case, that there is no room for argu­ment on this: the free-speech rights of indi­vid­u­als must be con­sid­ered more impor­tant than the free-speech rights of a major­i­ty, by sim­ple def­i­n­i­tion. If I can­not speak my mind (or burn the flag) because more peo­ple dis­agree with me than agree with me, then I do not have the right to free-speech. Instead, I have a total­i­tar­i­an cen­sor­ship thrust upon me. Mr. Cunningham’s argu­ment is, by far, the most idi­ot­ic and spe­cious peice of illog­i­cal gran­stand­ing I have heard in a long time. And this year has been impres­sive­ly full of that.

How did the nutjobs get so bold?

Fearsome Mormon missionaries revealed to be pimply-faced dweebs

So, our “neigh­bor­hood,” sand­wiched as it is between the biggest (and “bestest,” I am told by par­ents of teenagers) mall in Oma­ha and two large apart­ment com­plex­es, gets buzzed by Mor­mon mis­sion­ar­ies on a pret­ty reg­u­lar basis. We think there might be a Mor­mon safe­house ((I swear I’ve seen apple-cheeked young men with name badges and Mor­mon-issued cloth­ing dis­ap­pear into this house. They go up the street (we live in a cul-de-sac) and don’t come back. So I am pret­ty sure this is a house where Mor­mon boys on mis­sion can stay the night. That, or they feed Mor­mons to their car­niv­o­rous plant in the base­ment. Or they sell tasty meat pies. Those would be film ref­er­ences one and two (well, okay, tech­ni­cal­ly num­ber two is a the­ater ref­er­ence).)) up the street, but we’re not sure.

In any case, we live in fear of the uncom­fort­able sit­u­a­tion that might arise should an earnest Mor­mon cou­ple (Ha ha. No, real­ly, I’m just kid­ding. I’m sure they call them part­ners… Ha! I kid again!) ring our door­bell. What would we say, once we calmed our door­bell-fren­zied Poo­dle? Would we be polite? Would we gib­ber and spit and car­ry on about Dun­geons and Drag­ons, hop­ing to scare them away per­ma­nent­ly?

I just don’t know.

Any­way, tonight, we spied two young men, impec­ca­bly dressed, walk­ing up our street. “There are Mor­mons out there,” Sweet­ie offered up. We watched them sur­rep­ti­tious­ly from the upstairs win­dows, as they rang the door­bell of the house across the street. Nobody came to the door, but they stood there like good Sol­diers for a long while. Final­ly they moved on up the way. I took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to leash up the fer­al Poo­dle and go hunt us some Mor­mon boys.

It took me a while to find them (luck­i­ly for us, our lit­tle slice of res­i­den­tial Oma­ha is nes­tled between the afore­men­tioned com­mer­cial prop­er­ties and two large roads (the kind your Moth­er wouldn’t let you cross on your own until you were 25). It is a cul-de-sac heav­en where­in no road leads any­where, and all paths loop back on them­selves. When we final­ly crossed their path, I was a bit tak­en aback. These fear­some mis­sion­ar­ies, were, in fact, two pim­ply dweebs. Not more than four­teen or fif­teen, one was pudgy and crew-cut, the leader, and the oth­er was thin and sal­low, with his back­pack cinched tight over chest and stom­ach. They smiled ner­vous­ly at my tooth­some dog, and man­aged a friend­ly “Hel­lo” as we swept past. Or maybe they were smil­ing ner­vous­ly at me, won­der­ing why I was exam­in­ing them so close­ly.

I said “Hi” in turn and prompt­ly began to stalk them.

You have to under­stand how easy this is in our neigh­bor­hood. All you real­ly have to do is hang out at the nexus inter­sec­tion, and even­tu­al­ly every­one will cross your path. Plus, we have a per­pet­u­al­ly emp­ty field (a year-old sign declares that a cheer­lead­ing acces­sories store will be built there), and an inter­mit­tent­ly occu­pied retail prop­er­ty (for­mer­ly a Gener­ic Chi­nese Buf­fet, for­mer­ly a Godfather’s Lounge, serv­ing alco­hol and piz­za)… clear sight­lines for a half mile or so.

Our boys, walk­ing slow­ly and mak­ing lit­tle eye con­tact, had clear­ly just been doing the min­i­mum required. They’d pound­ed the pave­ment, but appeared to have vis­it­ed only those homes that looked unlike­ly to have ten­ants. But now it seemed they had found a tar­get for their con­vic­tions. A cute, twen­ty-some­thing woman walk­ing her Yorkie. You could see it in the way they sud­den­ly stood up straighter, walked faster, and seemed to have dis­cov­ered some kind of spe­cial pur­pose. ((Film ref­er­ence the third.))

She took her Yorkie to the emp­ty pro­to-cheer­lead­ing field. They saun­tered along the side­walk next to it, hop­ing to dis­cuss Jesus with… the weeds? Some­body whizzing by in a pick­up? Even­tu­al­ly they couldn’t loi­ter any more and still be seem­ly, so they kept on going up to the aban­doned Chi­nese Liquor Bar. Cute-but-prob­a­bly-con­cerned girl took a right turn along the property’s park­ing lot, when lo! The mis­sion boys came back, not exact­ly trot­ting, but clear­ly aware their quar­ry had giv­en them the slip.

Turn­ing the cor­ner into the park­ing lot, they found her Right There, wait­ing in ambush, and they kind of nod­ded and smiled and walked past her. She turned left and start­ed to put some dis­tance between them, when the leader boy turned back and said some­thing (I don’t know what, since my sight­line was clear but I was a long way away) and she stopped. They held some sort of stilt­ed con­ver­sa­tion for thir­ty sec­onds, at which point she hur­ried away. The oth­er boy, the thin, pim­ply, shy one, raised his hand in farewell, as if see­ing the love­ly gov­erness off at the end of a long, Pla­ton­ic, British tele­vi­sion show, her train pulling out of the sta­tion slow­ly, but inex­orably, in a cloud of steam.

Then, slumped and trudg­ing, they went on their way.

I took the fur­ry fury home, think­ing to myself, Why, these Mor­mons are peo­ple too. Hor­mone dri­ven, break-out suf­fer­ing, shy, awk­ward, kids on a mis­sion from God. ((Film ref­er­ence the fourth. Iden­ti­fy your film ref­er­ence picks in the com­ments!)) I sure hope our “Dean for Pres­i­dent” bumper stick­er con­tin­ues to keep them out of our dri­ve­way.

Apple to Intel (updated)

How can I not write about this? You may have heard: Apple will be tran­si­tion­ing all their com­put­ers to Intel chips start­ing one year from today. I just fol­lowed along with the keynote where Steve Jobs announced this (and not much else, but who’s quib­bling).

So. Den­ny point­ed out that this means it’ll be a few years before he buys a new Mac. I think that may be true… but if this results in faster lap­tops, I may not be able to make myself wait. And Xserves… can you imag­ine an Xserve with real com­put­ing pow­er behind it? Or what a Mac mini could turn out at its cur­rent pri­ce­point?

My thoughts on the keynote as report­ed by a few folks who were actu­al­ly there:

  1. Mac OS X has been run­ning on Intel for five years? I think there are some Apple engi­neers today who will see their first day­light in a long time. For no ver­i­fi­able rumor to have sur­faced about this before last week… they must have lived under guard.

  2. The sur­fac­ing of the rumor last week must have been an inten­tion­al leak. If the lev­el of secre­cy that was evinced had been kept until this morn­ing, when he talked about it in front of a huge crowd at Apple’s World­wide Devel­op­ers Con­fer­ence, there would have been pitch­forks and flam­ing torch­es, you can be sure.

  3. Paul Otelli­ni, Intel Pres­i­dent & CEO, took the stage and said “he’d nev­er give up on Apple, like IBM has.” Ouch. Con­sid­er that bridge burned.

  4. That said, IBM appar­ent­ly promised faster chips (Steve’s famous asser­tion of 3.0GHz chips by… last year) and cool­er chips (because real­ly, Power­books are still run­ning G4s) and have not been able to deliv­er.

  5. Will my new Power­book come with an “Intel Inside” label? I fer­vent­ly hope not.

More thoughts added an hour lat­er:

  1. Glad we bought our iBook last fall, and not, say last week. Now I feel nei­ther cheat­ed, nor that the wait for a new one will be too long. Woe to those who were wait­ing until this con­fer­ence to buy a new machine. Shelf life of a new Mac is now 365 days and count­ing.

  2. Apple may have thought that this was the best time to do it, giv­en record iPod sales to keep the com­pa­ny afloat while no Macs are sold. I mean real­ly, who is going to buy a Pow­er­PC-fueled Mac now? Any­one? Maybe Steve Jobs will buy a few mil­lion and donate them to schools/Africa ala Bill Gates.

  3. Does this mean Apple will have noth­ing to show at next January’s Mac­world show? Hm. Methinks I sense some con­sumer prod­ucts in the pipeline that aren’t com­put­ers.

Screensaver bounty claimed

Okay all. Remem­ber this post? I was look­ing for a Mac screen­saver that could show pics pulled dynam­i­cal­ly from a web site/folder. Well, I have it. Gabe at Cel­lar Door Soft­ware was two-thirds of the way there with his Ran­domWeb screen­saver, and he pushed it the rest of the way with my prod­ding.

$100 is wing­ing its way to him via Pay­Pal.

I have, of course, sub­mit­ted a bunch of sug­ges­tions to him for the next ver­sion, but the cur­rent one (v 1.3 as of this writ­ing) does what I need­ed. You’ll want to choose “Loca­tion” as the type, and put in the address:

http://dannytiffanyandfamily.com/screens/

As the loca­tion address. Then it should just work. There are lots of set­tings, and it is a lit­tle com­pli­cat­ed, but it does do the job. Also, the oth­er func­tion­al­i­ty is pret­ty cool, too. You can set Ran­domWeb to scrub pics off a web site (like nasa.gov) or do a Google image search for your search term (like “pup­pies”). You can imple­ment Google’s Safe­Search, too, to lessen the unex­pect­ed sur­pris­es.

It is a neat bit of soft­ware.