Geek Hideout
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What's New

22-Sep-2017

03-Mar-2017

RIP Gordon the cat. Also known as Gordylocks, G-locks, Gordito Crunch, G-Spot, and G Gordon Kitty. Your unique personality will never be forgotton.

01-Nov-2016

If I have a disease and die and make people sad, am I at fault?

What if the disease is treatable but it goes untreated?

What if it is treatable but it's the disease itself that prevents you from gettting treatment?

Very much feeling betrayed by life and judged wrongly by others.

11-Feb-2015

RIP Whirlpool. Your blue betta fishy goodness will be remembered always.

06-Oct-2014

Took a big hit on GT Advanced Technologies Inc. today.

13-Aug-2014

Orson Welles penned my favorite quote. I have always found it to be true:

We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.

27-Feb-2013

I cannot get enough of snow. Keep it coming, my shovel is ready.

23-Aug-2012

What's up with people who don't attempt to think anything through and instead hop on the internet to solve a problem?

20-Aug-2012

Lightning caught by one of my security cameras on August 10 at 2:03 am.

17-Jul-2012

It's 100 degrees out there. They tell me it's hot. I laugh and tell them about last summer in Texas.

15-Jun-2012

Camping in Bastrop!

10-Jun-2012

Yeah, that craigslist job ad you're thinking about replying to was actually created specifically for you and your peers to catch potential defectors and prepare accordingly.

12-Apr-2012

The lives I have lived. How many is it now?

17-Apr-2012

They say that Austin is going to have another summer of non-stop heat. My theory is that it's actively turning into desert.

11-Apr-2012

Just got back from Chuy's. It seems to me that their shrimp and cheese chile rellenos are just not as good as they used to be. I think I have been subtley aware of this for some time now, it's just that the change has been so gradual over the period of years that it the reality of it hit me today.

In other news, I was offered a very large sum of money for the geekhideout.com domain name. But don't worry, it'll take more than money (even an obscene amount of it) to make me part with my home of the past 13 years.

10-Apr-2012

Dang, I'm tired of the Austin weather. It needs to make up its mind.

16-Mar-2012

There are whiners in this world. Things are never right. Their job isn't right, their home life isn't right, the world isn't right.

There are also non-whiners in this world. Things aren't right with them either. After all, who has a perfect life? There's always something that could be changed to make things better.

So the whiners and the non-whiners both have imperfect lives.

But the whiners spend their days whining about it. They let you and others know just how bad their situation is. They keep telling themselves that if only such-and-such changed how things would get better.

The non-whiners don't whine about their problems. They improve what they can and take real steps towards other improvements.

Whiners are day dreamers. They think of how things could be and hope that somehow, magically, everything will work out all right.

Non-whiners are realists. They also think of how things could be but change it or act on it. There's no time for whining.

Whiners are often unsucessful in life. When presented with a new or undesirable change, they don't address it or adapt to it. They spend their time whining about it.

Non-whiners are often very sucessful. And by success, I don't necessarily mean wealth. Happiness and contentment and all that good stuff. They adapt to what's in front of them and learn new skills to overcome hurdles.

When someone tells me just how much their life sucks, I always wonder to myself, "OK, what are you doing about it?" If I should vocalize my question the answer is invariably about their dreams and wishes and not about what they're actually doing (because most often they're doing nothing).

I don't have time for whiners and really don't want to associate with them any more than I have to. But whiners like to whine and so frequently they like to whine at me, so I often forced to do something about it. Sometimes I'm forward about it, which never goes well. Sometimes I make myself an undesirable target for their whining. This can work shockingly well if you're able to make yourself one of the things they whine about.

I did the latter recently and haven't been whined at by that person in months. Which is good, because this is a no-whine zone. Now that person whines at others about me, which I suppose is bad.

Now lest you think I'm whining about whining, I'm not. It's a behavior that I don't care for but I don't fret over it or spend far too much time thinking about it. I was just recently whined at by a chap who thinks his job sucks but isn't doing anything about it. Instead he is content to whine to anyone who will listen.

Why is it that whiners are always excited when it's Friday? Non-whiners seem get something from every day. Let's do the math. Let's say you live to 70 and don't have a job for 20 of those. If you're a non-whiner you get to live the full 70 years. If, on the other hand, you're one of those whiners, well, you get to live only 34 years. You could very well be dead right now.

04-Jan-2012

Imagine, if you will, skiing downhill, non-stop, for one hundred miles. You're going to need some chapstick when you're finished. I'm sure of it.

14-Dec-2011

And now I have tennis elbow. Not that I play tennis, mind you.

29-Nov-2011

Huh, plotters (pen plotters, that is) have become obsolete.

07-Nov-2011

Things that are important to you are important to virtually no one else.

For example, I wish I had brought extra pants with me today. Important to me, but not so much to you.

Though, you might be curious.

04-Nov-2011

I crackle with electricity today.

03-Nov-2011

Apparently I fractured a metacarpal bone and have a so-called bar room fracture. My finger now has this lovely popping sensation when I open and close it.

----

When I was a wee lad, I used to take apart my toys to see how they worked. When I was a slightly older lad, I discovered that even more fascinating than the inner-workings of toys were the inner-workings of how people interact with other people. The study of these interactions is called social psychology and it has been a long-time hobby of mine.

As such, I can highly recommend The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us. This recently published book is a fascinating read that reveals how words that are used to join and fill parts of a sentence, but are not crucial to the content of that sentence, can reveal much about the speaker. The reason being is that when it comes time for the brain to select a function word (as the book calls these joiners and fillers) there are typically multiple words that can work. The selection of the exact function word chosen is typically not left at the discression of the speaker, but rather is chosen automatically at a subconscious level.

The book's author studied the frequency of function word usage and how it relates to the psychological state and demographic of the speaker. Strong correlations appeared, which in turn allows startingly accurate predictions to be made about any speaker.

Much like trying to control body language, the choice of function words is hard to fake. These words fly out of us without thought, and indeed, our brains are too busy assembling the content of our sentences to linger at any length on the words that join the content.

Having said that, however, I've been experimenting some with controlling my function words. Given that on-the-fly-out-of-my-mouth would invariably fail, I've been confining my experiments to the written word in the form of emails and instant messages. I do hope though, with sufficient written practice, to take my experiments to the next level.

02-Nov-2011

They say that pain is just weakness leaving the body. If true, I have a heck of a lot of weakness leaving my body right now.

Feel the burn, baby.

01-Nov-2011

I love it when I am read a word and hear it from a completely unrelated source at the same time. I completely love it when this happens to a phrase or sentence.

----

October 2011 is gone. Gone forever. Think about that for a moment. That is a month of your life that you will never ever see again. Did you make good use of October? Did you do things that you've never done before? Learn something new? Go to a place you've never been? Talk to someone new? Discover something about yourself that you never knew?

Or was it just another month in the autopilot of your life?

Remember, that October is now part of who you are for the rest of your life.

For me, the month of October tasted like Wild Strawberries. And it's a taste that lingers into this month.

But yeah, October 2011 was a memorable part of my life.

My November promises to be more memorable. How about yours?

31-Oct-2011

Make it up as you go along. Sometimes you'll be right and it will become a truth. Sometimes you'll be wrong and it won't become known at all. Only the truths will be remembered.

I had a point to make here, but I've lost it.

31-Oct-2011

I just persuaded a random MSN dude (who was posing as a lady and trying to make me visit questionable links, of course) to break character. He's quite nice and his life story is fascinating.

30-Oct-2011

As I approached the shore of the lake, hundreds of cranes looked at me, the stranger in their home. Hello, cranes, I said. And all was then well.

29-Oct-2011

The trout aren't biting.
Pointless fishing.

The ceiling is collapsing.
Hard hats working.

The dog is sniffing.
Shirt needs changing.

The doorbell is ringing.
No one knocking.

Biting, collapsing, sniffing, and ringing.
All of these things caught in my head.


The room is blaring.
Failed sleeping.

The teacher is watching.
Diligent learning.

The leaves are falling.
Forest flooring.

Eyes are crying.
Onion chopping.

Blaring, watching, falling, and crying.
All of these things caught in my head.


The cheese is blossoming.
Tangy frosting.

The house is growing.
Builders building.

The snow is missing.
Winter detecting.

My mind is resting.
Wakeful sleeping.

Blossoming, growing, missing, and resting.
All of these things caught in my head.


Have a good laugh.
And empty my thoughts.
Close my eyes.
And fall asleep in my bed.

---

Actually, my mind has been working overtime on something. I don't like problems I can't solve readily. Especially when I created the problem. But, it does make me creative. And, somehow, someway, it seems that with very few exceptions things always work out as desired. I like to think it's my super power.

28-Oct-2011

OK, two important things:

Thing number 1: I cannot stand the sound of a vacuum.
Thing number 2: I have My Favorite Things from the Sound of Music stuck in my head. Watch out world, I be singing.

27-Oct-2011

Those of you with Sherlockian ability may be able to deduce several things from this lovely photo (clickable for maximum gore):
  • I landed a jab incorrectly several days ago.
  • The jab tore open a hole in my skin.
  • I've not given the injury time to heal properly.
  • My toilet paper and band-aid patch (seen to the left side of the gaping wound and dangling between pinky and ring fingers) didn't really work.
  • My finger nails need to be trimmed.
  • My big toe in the lower right.

Now cuts and scrapes don't really bother me in general. They come, they heal, and they go. And life goes on its merry way. This thing is hard to ignore though. Partially because I'm not clever enough to let it rest and heal. And partially because hand sanitizer finds it every single time, no matter how careful I think I'm being with it.

This weekend I will heal though. In the salt air and in a hammock.


21-Oct-2011

Geekhideout.com has been around in its current form since October 13th, 1999. This means that it's now 12 years old!

In other news, my phone keeps powering itself on to tell me its battery is low.

20-Oct-2011

I frequently forget what day of the week it is. But it doesn't matter what day it is today. It's a crisp day with the sun shining down, the sky is that certain blue and the trees are that certain green. The sort of day where you can appreciate life. A good day to listen to Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, which I am currently doing. Perhaps the Pastoral is more suited for a lovely spring day than a lovely autumn day, but it is suited to my mood right now, and really, that's all that matters.

Astute observers might notice that I am jovial. Yes indeed. Don't worry, it will wear off soon enough.

17-Oct-2011

Cold and dark, no moon, no artificial lights, our destination still far away. At my suggestion, we hoisted our heavy loads high and entered the chill of the swamp's black water. Each footstep sunk deep into the muck, requiring effort to break the suction for the next step, and concentration to not have that next step be one without a shoe. Sweating, tired, and mindful of the leeches that called this place home, we trudged slowly onward.

It was more than an hour until we finally saw the lights of the city, a sight that renewed our energy and morale. And another hour until we finally reached those lights. We were muddied, soaken from both the stagnent swamp water and our own sweat, scratched up, and covered with mosquito bites.

My friend lowered his bicycle and told me that was the worst shortcut ever.

16-Oct-2011

Check your receipts, it's about to rain.

15-Oct-2011

There was once a little bird who was afraid to fly.

13-Oct-2011

A personal hero of mine, Dennis Ritchie, has passed away.

07-Oct-2011

Seriously?

04-Oct-2011

My memories are tainted by the past.

31-Aug-2011

Go here and look at how the file sizes increase over time. Small linear increase are expected as features are added, but what we're seeing here are huge exponential leaps! And, in case you think I'm picking on Paint Shop Pro (or whatever the heck it is called now), I'm not. Such exponential size increments are common with with practically all software, in all categories. I am inclined to think this is not progress.

15-Aug-2011

Due to social expectations, I find that I frequently have to restrain myself from calling an idiot an idiot.

13-Aug-2011

Happy birthday to me!

09-Aug-2011

If call yourself a programmer but you spend more time with the mouse than the keyboard, then perhaps you need to think about calling yourself something else.

05-Aug-2011

Allergies, man. Finally under control with three different meds.

08-Jul-2011

I'm so bad at remembering names.

04-Jul-2011

The peak of a mountain implies the entire mountain.

14-Jun-2011

Ever meet someone who claims to have first met you in Mexico City and knows so much about you that it seems like it has to be true? But, you've never been to Mexico City, and although the person seems somehow familiar, can't quite be placed?

03-May-2011

Got a memory foam bed a while back. Good, deep, sleeps. I cannot recall ever sleeping so well. Highly recommended!

22-Apr-2011

Linus Torvalds doesn't like programming by trial-and-error any more than I do. When I code, I think a problem out. Really think it out. I get the what-ifs out of the way so I don't code myself into a corner that would result in painful refactoring, or worse, kludges to maintain compatibility with already depolyed code.

Trial-and-error programming is the mark of either a lazy programmer or one who just isn't capable of thinking something out to its conclusion. Programming isn't rolling dice, it's an intellectual activity and craft and its practitioners should respect it as such.

21-Feb-2011

The desert is calling.

03-Feb-2011

A while back I wrote a Chebyshev polynomial curve fitting algorithm in C for a PIC microcontroller. It was pretty fast, but I needed to squeak a bit more performance out of it to reduce the time spent in an interrupt handler.

So I rewrote the thing in assembly and got a two-fold increase. Normally you don't see this sort of thing these days--C compilers are pretty good at optimizing, often better than humans. However, I was able improve the algorithm because I understood it. I knew that certain calculations wouldn't suffer if internal values were limited in precision, that I could approximate certain divisions with some shifts and additions, and that I could save a heap of time by not calling the compiler's library for various other math operations.

Yes, I could have done these same optimizations in C, but highly optimized C tends to look out of place and overly verbose compared to its assembler counterpart.

It makes me sad, really. Twenty years ago, this is how we actually worked. We wrote code in a genuinely compiled language like C or Pascal or even Quick Basic. If part of that code was too slow, we rewrote it by hand in assembly. Sometimes, we even wrote an entire program in assembly, if it needed to be fast and small, like a TSR (remember those)?

Now we have Java and Python and C#, and optimizations have taken a backseat. These are languages that hold your hand and do things for you, behind your back, and make a heck of a lot of assumptions on the way. When something needs to be faster you throw a more powerful computer at the problem, or if need be, several computers. Computing power is indeed cheap, but there's no real satisfaction in purposefully deciding to not be a good programmer and instead relying upon technology as a crutch.

02-Jan-2011

I apparently have a problem when it comes to my pants and remembering what's in my pockets. This weekend resulted in two tales of forgetfulness.

I don't carry around paper money as a rule. This weekend I had a fifty in my pocket and threw it away as I purged the other miscellaneous paper items that resided therein. I do this without looking and without thinking about what I'm doing. It's typically just receipts. After digging through nasty food garbage I found the fifty.

I forgot my iPod Touch in my back pocket. It went through the washer and briefly in the dryer. The clunk-clunk-clunk alerted me that something was up. Damaged beyond saving with a cracked screen and dislodged internal components.

I somehow need to train myself to be more mindful of what I'm carrying, but I have no idea how to do this.

22-Nov-2010

Don't come to me looking for fun. There's none to be had here.

31-Oct-2010

Ahh. That is an ahh of relief. Working smarter rather than harder. Amazing what can be achieved.

31-Aug-2010

I really don't care for icons in applications. I never know what they mean and it requires too much thought and effort to figure it out. A picture is worth a thousand words--so which of one thousand things does clicking on an icon accomplish? A word is worth one word (sometimes more, but certainly less than a thousand) and gets to the point.

But yet many folks seem to like icons, oftentimes simply because they are pretty and make things more attractive. They can have their pretty. Give me something that is plain and boring but yet succinct and I will be one elated user.

03-Dec-2009

Is there any reputable news source out there at all that doesn't mention Tiger Woods?

31-July-2009

Bad grammar that drive me crazy:

  • It's not "for free", it's "free."
  • It's not "alot" it's "a lot."
  • And it's not "<person's name> and I" when used as an object, it's <person's name> and me." *
* This one occurs surprisingly frequently in business environments.

29-July-2009

The eternal question is Should You Eat Bacon?

12-July-2009

There are various sensitive facilities where cell phones with cameras just aren't permitted. I was hunting for phone that met this and other requirements and discovered that it's much more daunting task than one would think in this age of smart phones. I did, however, find one--a Motorola V197. No camera, clamshell, very long standby and talk time, and reasonably rugged. Much recommended.

18-June-2009

A real man knows how to work with his hands. And I don't mean typing.

20-February-2009

My dog's lymphoma progressed to the stage where her life was uncomfortable and she was unable to keep any food down. She was put down today after seven happy years.

01-January-2009

Added my flashlights.

09-January-2009

Cynthia, my pet prairie dog, has died today after nine long years of life.

22-December-2008

Remember kids, don't believe your own hype. You'll end up starting to make ridiculous claims in the process.

01-November-2008

Yesterday my dog was diagnosed with lymphoma and given up to six months to live.

10-October-2008

The more you use vi and the better you become at it, the better your real-life problem-solving skills become.

22-September-2008

I remember trying to sleep in the van by the river. Woodticks were crawling all over my body, eventually latching on and feasting. In the morning I removed them from my body and from the body of my dog. I missed one on my dog's paw and the woodtick managed to find a home there, visible only as a large furry bump.

I also remember that on the same trip we stopped at store. It was the kind of small store that you used to find by any river where fishermen gathered. The kind that sold bait, bagged ice, and Jiffy Pop. I bought a bottle of root beer. Later when I took a drink I was instantly repulsed. It was diet root beer. Now, this was the late-seventies where diet sodas were experimental. The artificial sweetners had a robust taste that couldn't be washed out of your mouth but had to wear out, like paint off of your hands. I was thirsty and drank the whole thing.

Upon reflection, I would rather be covered with ticks than drink that soda again.

22-August-2008

Interesting and surprisingly detailed imagery from this short quote: "A german shepherd bit me in the face".

11-August-2008

"You see this here?"

"Yeah, what is it?"

"Let me tell you what it is. It is the best thing ever and there's nothing like it anywhere else."

"What is it?"

"It's a cheese grater!"

"Doesn't look like one..."

"It's different than any you've ever seen. It's automatic! That means no more scraped knuckles and sliced fingers. You put the cheese in and it does all the work."

"Is it hard to clean?"

"Hell yeah! Cheese gets everywhere. In every nook and cranny. Downright nasty to clean."

"I'll take one!"

8-August-2008

A poem about the joys of VS2003:

Visual Studio
Visual Studio!
Visual Studio 2003!
Why, oh why, do you hate me?

You are so unwieldly
And a burdon to use
Whenever you crash
I blow a fuse

All my settings erased
And project changes lost
I loathe the day
That our paths crossed

But let's not forget
The reason you're here
The company I work for
Is stuck in yesteryear!

7-August-2008

"This is the best soup I ever had!"

Joe slurped several spoonfuls before looking up again.

"What's in it?"

"Radishes," I said. "And turtle eggs. And cinnamon."

"Oh."

Joe stared at the crimson liquid in his spoon and lowered it back down into the bowl.

1-August-2008

Back in the day, when I wasn't quite as sophisticated and much more innocent than I am now, I used to think the song Nights in White Satin was Knights in White Satin. I used to picture these tall knights, on top of their horses, wearing capes of white satin.

---

I love the used book store. There are so many things to be found, from rare and collectible to so deeply discounted that it's hard to convince yourself to say no. And, of course, everything in between; books that are as popular now as they were then. Today I had found one of each and was waiting to pay.

A fellow, who I smelled first because of the body odor that clung to his navy polo shirt, excused himself and proceeded past the head of the line to the cashier who was just finishing up with a customer. My eyes narrowed and that indignant feeling started to grow. When the customer had finished, the man in the navy shirt asked if a certain employee was in today. And the line waited.

The question turned into a small conversation. How weekends were less structured than weekdays and if someone worked depended on if someone couldn't or wouldn't work. How this employee should be in. How it was unusual that he wasn't.

This man, perhaps 45, perhaps more, aside from the stink, seemed to be a typical member of society, so I had to wonder how he could justify rude behavior such as this. Did he come from some pocket of civilization where the conventions of standing in line were slightly different than everywhere else? Where questions clearly outranked purchases, regardless of the length of the question and the brevity of the purchase?

I wanted to call him out on this. To let him know that his behavior wasn't acceptable and ideally, shame him into proper behavior the next time. I was periously close to doing so too. I turned it over in my head. There were three others in front of me, their faces grayed over, uncaring, unaware, waiting automatically for the line to move. There were two cashiers, one who was occupied with a different customer, and the one who was talking to the man. They all seemed unaware--the man, obviously--that any wrong-doing was being commited. The lack of outrage from all of these people could very well backfire. They didn't care about the man, but they might care about someone who calls attention to someone else. And all eyes would be on me and my rudeness.

I didn't do it. I stood in line and waited. The man eventually left and the line moved on. But I should have done something. I know I should have. Corner him and explain his social blunder to him quietly? No, without an audience, he'd probably get angry and miss the whole point. I think to have been effective I would have had to call him out in front of the others, despite the small risk to myself. He would've got the message and perhaps, just perhaps, would have been a slightly better human being because of it.

31-July-2008

Three quick knocks sounded.

I looked up from the screen and paused in the quiet office hum.

Three more knocks, faster and louder.

Behind the cubicle wall there was sudden movement and soft footsteps.

The door opened and closed, a friendly exchange inbetween.

And I thought: go around to the front, you lazy bastard.

25-July-2008

Yesterday I received an interesting email from some folks at webmatchers.net who said they'd like to buy some ad space here at the old Geek Hideout. As you may have noticed, I'm not opposed to pocketing some change to promote quality goods and services, so I replied back to them, asking what they were interested in.

Their response was that all they wanted me to do was mark up some of the text on three of my pages IO.DLL, Ant Story, and iPod Shuffle Woes. If I did that and promised to keep the pages up for a year, $125 would be mine. From the context of the words they wanted linked, it seemed that they were looking to direct people to sites that related to laptops, personal loans, and credit cards, respectively.

It was the sort of thing that felt harmless and straightforward and almost had a pre-1995 charm to it. But, this isn't 1995 and there is almost always an ulterior motive for this sort of thing. Checking out the company, I saw that the webmatchers website was registered on July 8th, 2008, not even 20 days ago. I found it to be a contradiction that their FAQ mentions that they were founded in 2005. Asking about it, I was told that, yes, their website had just gone online but they've been around for much longer than that. They run their internet business by repeat business and word of mouth, apparently.

Google also failed to provide any meaningful information about the company. No glowing reviews, no scathing reviews, no reviews whatsoever. The names of the owner and the employees are rather generic, making searches for them difficult as well.

Browsing the websites that webmatchers wanted me to link to, I noticed that many of them had contact information. I figured that I would drop some of these owners a note and ask if they could say anything good or bad about the webmatchers. One fellow got back to me immediately and said that he never heard of them. This was the author of the page in question. If anyone was going to be promoting it, it would surely be him.

It seemed clear to me that traditional internet investigation methods were not going to provide any answers to this puzzle. I decided to step back and try to fit the pieces of the puzzle together using my head instead.

What I knew was that webmatchers wanted me to put several links on three different pages. The links were such that they highlighted laptops, credit cards, and personal loans, even though the pages themselves did not pertain to these subjects whatsoever and mentioned them only in passing. It seemed unlikely that a person doing a search for one of the topics would land on my page and, if for some reason they did, that they would linger long enough to click on a link on the off chance that it would be what they were looking for. It was becoming obvious that these links were not meant for human consumption.

If not human than surely search engine. We've all seen sites, mostly long forgotten message boards and abused guest books that are loaded with links for various enhancers and whatnot. It's link after link to the same sort of sites with cheesy names and unsavory products. But, looking at the links that I was provided, this was not the case here. The links were on the up and up. I looked at several of them and even contacted people from them. They weren't deceitful or selling anything questionable. They were largely helpful, offering advice on what to look for in a laptop and how to responsibly manage your personal finances. They were mostly government and educational sites... Hang on a moment, government and education sites don't advertise like this!

Looking more carefully at the links that were provided for each of the three categories, there were two clean divisions: The bulk of the sites for a category were either a .gov or a .edu. For each category there was one site that stood out--a true commercial interest that was selling something and dearly wanted people to buy it.

The sites that I mentioned, the ones where its link after link of unsavory goods, the idea is to feed keywords to the search engines which raises the rank of the site as well as all of the sites it links to. But the combination of human intervention and clever search engine algorithms causes such sites to quickly drop off the search engine radar, thereby nullifying the very effect that was desired in the first place.

The trick to sucessful search engine placement is to be mentioned on a lot of useful and upstanding sites (or you can buy good placement, but that's a different discussion). But the site has to be mentioned in proper context. The search engines examine a page's text and the links in that text when they assign a ranking to a site. If the context isn't there, the relationship will a poor one.

I believe that including all of the .edu and .gov links in my web page, webmatchers was trying to achieve legitimacy for the commercial link that was also included. I also suspect that .edu and .gov links are scored a little higher by the search engines. If you were to search for laptops, credit cards, or personal loans, my site would be ever so higher in the search engines. As I pointed out, my site isn't going to attract people looking for these things, so there must have been something else to be gained by increasing my ranking.

It turns out that if the rank of what the search engines deem to be a useful page increases, so, in turn, do all of the pages it links to that are of the same topic. It's a scenario that makes me think of a dog chasing its tail: Site A links to Site B and Site B's rank increases. This, in turn, increases Site A's rank. And repeat

So this was it, the core of the matter. By linking to reputable sites, I was increasing the search engine ranking of webmatcher's customer's site. If you have enough people doing this, it undoubtedly will produce a more-than-tangible effect.

It's legal to do this, of course, but it's deviously manipulative and designed solely to fool search engines. It definitely gets a shaking head of disapproval from me.

July 17, 2008

I smell books.

Back in the 70s and 80s library books used to smell like vomit. I'm not sure why this was. Perhaps it was the glue that was used to bind in the card holder. Nowadays, while some do indeed smell like vomit but only because they've been vomited upon, they don't really have any smell at all.

Of course, to me, the best smelling book is one that smells of age and through that smell attains some additional character.

r

December 12, 2007

Last night my dog barked at the UPS man with such vigor that she pulled her back muscles and required a trip to the emergency room.

May 15, 2007

It's coming...

May 7, 2007

I had three teeth pulled today!

April 1, 2007

A couple of years back I replaced the battery in my first generation iPod. I didn't throw the original battery away, but instead I placed it in a drawer and promptly forgot about it. While digging through that drawer yesterday, I rediscovered the battery, as shown here. It used to less thick than a pencil, but over time it has swollen into the beast that you see.

Seeing this thing sitting in the drawer freaked me out a bit. I carefully picked it up by its connector and brought it outside to the trash can. Right before I was about to dispose of it, I thought that I should take some pictures first. I (stupidly, perhaps) brought it inside and snapped some pics. It was only then that I disposed of the battery.

And no, despite the date, this is not an April fool's joke.


Mar 15th, 2007

Hey, St. Joseph Health System guy, did you get that job you interviewed for?

Sept 9th, 2006

I went to the central branch of the Austin library today. While I was in the elevator and riding my way up the third floor, I took note of the transparent panels on the ceiling that difuse the light. I decided to push on one to see what was in there. The moment I did that, the elevator stopped dead and an alarm started sounding.

Aug 30th, 2006

Dear Fox 7 News,

I'm watching your report on the San Marcos shooting right now. It raises a question that has come to my mind several times while watching the news (and listening to the news on the radio). Why are reporters sent on location after the news-worthy event has passed? It seems a bit silly and doesn't add to the credibility of the story.

Feb 21st, 2006

Compound interest is a powerful thing. If you are 15 and you save a buck a day, investing it at 12%, by the time you are 65 you will have nearly 1.2 million dollars

If you want to retire at 40 with just a hair less than 1 million dollars, put away $300 at 15% for the next 25 years and you're set.

Explore the power of compound interest using my new Compound Interest Calculator

December 7th, 2005

I got an amusing note earlier this morning from the owner of GeeksHideout.com. Note the similarity in that site's name to this site's name. It seems that he gets an occasional prod of discontent from those who eagerly add the letter "S" when doing a search for this site and end up at his.

November 1st, 2005

Yorkie Bars are tasty. They're from the UK, but readily available here in Austin at Central Market and World Market. They're marketed as not being for girls, which apparently makes some people get a bit uppity.

October 9th, 2005

Sharp and shiny, it's the Benchmade 670

October 6th, 2005

And the answer is: Panama!

September 30th, 2005

Q: How did the turtle with no legs cross the freeway?
A: Take the "F" out of Free and the "F" out of Way.

September 23rd, 2005

Calvin Coolidge said this:

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
This came to mind because I was just thinking about how so many people seem to believe the world owes them something for nothing in return.

September 21st, 2005

Hey, a hurricane is coming!

July 27th, 2005

I strapped on a heart monitor today while doing my speed bag workout and I was shocked to see that my heart rate was averaging about 85% of max. What's odd about this is that hard running and cycling puts me in the same range, but these activities feel considerably more difficult than using the speed bag.

July 23rd, 2005

It would seem that I'm not the only person with a fear of drains.

July 19th, 2005

Dream come true: Tour of the LCRA Power Plant

July 5, 2005

My tale of woe regarding my iPod Shuffle.

June 24, 2005

I take elaborate steps to remain a private individual. I like to be in absolute control of what personal information is in the public domain. For this reason, it drives me bonkers when other people talk about me--I view it an invasion of the privacy and a removal of the control that I try so hard to maintain. This is particularly true if sensitive information is shared. We often tell someone who we trust something in absolute confidence only to later learn that it was shared with others.

For example, someone wished me a happy birthday the other day. I never shared my birthdate with this person and so I can only assume it was gathered through some other means. I'm aware this doesn't bother most others in the slightest, but it's just the way I'm wired.

Since I can't control conversations that take place when I'm not around (nor would I wish to do such a thing), I sometimes employ my spam technique.

Spam technique, you ask? What does spam have to do with people? A lot, actually. When I provide an email address to a company, I will make it unique for that company, for example sears(a)geekhideout.com if I am dealing with Sears. If I start receiving spam at that address, I know that Sears provided my email address to a spammer.

In a similar vein, when dealing with someone whom I suspect might not be discrete with information that I provide, I will plant unique or slightly inaccurate information. If this is returned to me from a different source, I know exactly who was responsible for the leak.

June 20, 2005

Feels like a good day to archive the old What's New stuff and empty out the main page.

And now, go ahead, Tell Me a Secret.


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