11 January 2009

Weekly Reflections 2009 - Week 1

"Weekly Reflections" is my small journal of events that have gone on throughout the week that I've decided to keep. New updates to this will (hopefully) be posted every Sunday.
Week 1 (1/1 - 1/10)
Okay, I understand that it has been a little longer than a week, but due to the fact that the first official week of 2009 did not squarely land on a Sunday and the first Sunday of 2009 seemed a little too short to really say it was a "week."
Well, obviously we had gone through the New Year without a hitch, although this year it was not as exciting as it had been in previous years. Its probably because of the fact that even this past Christmas didn't really feel like Christmas and financial worries and other stresses probably contributed to the feeling like it wasn't the holidays. I did notice that while watching Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve, Dick Clark appeared again in the how, but after an apparent stroke, his speech and control of his facial muscles have severely degraded. It was a very saddening sight to see, especially since I've grown up watching Dick Clark every New Years, and his cheerful voice had been limited as a result of the stroke. I wish him and his wife well and pray for him.
In the past week I've also been diligently working on my Twobile project, adding and fixing things, occasionally getting frustrated that I can't seem to find a simple design or solution to a problem. I've thought about dropping the project because its become so complex, but I keep reminding myself that I've had hundreds of users and some actually really enjoy using it, and that I can start the project over again once I finish the next update. There are a lot of things that I want to accomplish with a new rewrite of the project, but I know that it will take a really long time to design, code, and test everything. Oh well, that's part of the joys of programming, and it always feels so rewarding when its finished and people speak words of praise for it.
Since the beginning of 2009, I've also begun working on organizing my blog. Beginning with the posts for this year, I've been tagging the posts so that access to similar articles is easier. I will also be tagging my previous blog entries, but that may take a longer period of time. Well, at least this helps with my whole "organization" New Year's Resolution.
Well, January 5th was the first Monday of 2009, and for some it was also the first day back to work (like myself). For some of those people, it was also the most stressful day, apparently due to the fact that it was a few days since they've been in the office, there was a lot to catch up on. Luckily, that wasn't the case for me - I was just really tired.
Monday was also the first day back to the gym for me since October. And since it was the first Monday since New Years, there was a TON of people there, probably all trying to get a start on their New Year's Resolutions. I, for one, was one of them, but also because I really should have been going a while ago. Needless to say, it felt good to be back, but I've been increasingly paranoid about my stuff since my wallet was stolen from my locker last year.
I've also had another first for 2009, and unfortunately it wasn't something to be proud of. Ashley & I had our first argument of the New Year, and it was about moving out either this year or toward the beginning of next year. It was an argument that lasted 2 days, but we both came to understand each other's position and intentions in the argument, so things worked out alright.
In preparation for what will hopefully be the last semester of college, I logged into the bookstore at CSUSM on the 6th to look up the books that I will need, and was astounded by the amount of moola that they would cost me (~350, not counting a math book that I would need that they didn't have listed yet). Fortunately, on the 8th, I found all the books that I would need on Half.Ebay.com, including the math one, for almost the same price as what I would have had to pay for all used books at the bookstore (which more than likely I wouldn't get all used books just because they usually don't have any). Even today I'm nursing the wound to my wallet as it sucked over $440, making it one of the most semesters for just books I've had to pay. I'm still cringing on the parking pass, but I may skip it this year in leu of a month pass for the Sprinter, where I'd park at work and take the train to school, where I'd subsequently use my bike to ride from the station to the building I go to. Thankfully, though, I was smart and started a savings account about 2 years ago for school that automatically deposited funds, which helped pay for the books, and, if necessary, a parking pass should I need one.
While on the subject of expensive expenditures, on the 6th, my heart stopped for a minute and I began to panic when my tablet - the laptop I use the most for school - could not boot, blue screening just after showing the Windows XP loading screen, displaying the message "Unmountable boot volume". It then rebooted, but then displayed the same message again, and repeated. Seeing this as a sign that the hard drive was beginning to die, something that I knew was happening, I tried to figure out the next troubleshooting task and shut down the computer for a few mintues. After restarting it again, it booted fine, but was a flag to me that I needed to get my butt in gear and buy myself a new hard drive for it. For most, this would be a realitively simple task, as notebook drives are quite abundant, but for me, its a bit of a pain. My tablet is the IBM/Lenovo X41 Tablet, and because of its smaller size, it requires a smaller hard drive. Now, normal hard drives are 2.5-in drives, but not mine - its a 1.8-in. This, though a bit more difficult, was still realtively easy to find. However, because my drive requires the connectors to be on the longer side rather than the shorter side, made the search for a replacement incredibly difficult. In fact, so difficult, that only 1 manufacturer of hard drives (Hitachi) made the drives. To make matters even worse...they discontinued them. I'm still looking to get hold of one, so we'll have to see how it works out.
After almost 4 to 5 days at work trying to restructure some code for the project that I'm working on, on the 7th I finally revealed the advantages of refactoring and adhering to a more object-oriented approach to programming when further code was easier to implement and debug. I've always been a proponent for OOP, but because of time constraints and my "just get it working, then optimize" approach to programming, I've found myself frequently with inefficient, repeated code. One of my goals this year is to utilize the OOP concepts more than I have in the past to try to optimize, minimize, and strengthen the code that I write, and may be invaluable to the success of the rewrite of Twobile and the projects at work.
On the 8th, I decided to add FriendFeed as yet another social network, although I am not very happy with it. I thought that FriendFeed was a site that would allow me to aggregate the timelines from all the social networks that I have, so I don't have to open every site in a seperate tab in Firefox and see them all in one place, but unfortunately it only aggregated your social networks with your updates, and required you to have friends who have done the same with their "feeds", at which point you would then be able to see them all in one timeline after you add them as a friend. Kind of disappointing, really.
On the 8th, I also tuned into the trance channel on DI.FM, where they were playing back Armin van Buuren's "A State of Trance Episode 386", where he also broadcasted an hour recording from his New Year's Celebration in Los Angeles this year. From the sounds of it, it must've been incredible and probably really fun to be at, with over 35,000 people attending, but fortunately and unfortunately I decided against going. I say fortunately and unfortunately since the unfortunate part was that I was not a part of the fun, but I was fortuante because there were so many people. Can you imagine leaving that party? It would be the first major LA traffic jam of 2009! I'm sorry, but I don't like traffic and spend enough time driving in my car, so I guess it was alright that I didn't go.
Yet another awesome thing happened during the evening of the 8th, when I was on the phone with Ashley and my brother in the other room yelled "Earthquake!" at which point I began to feel the house shake fairly well. At the same time I told Ashley and she herself felt it also. Initially, the USGS rated it as a 5.0, but later the next day I found out that it had been changed to be a 4.5 instead.
Finally, I stayed up until midnight on the 8th (technically, midnight the 9th), waiting for a link to download the Windows 7 beta, but unfortunately at midnight I realized that the site said to come back "the afternoon of January the 9th." Upset that I had wasted my time, I went to bed, woke up later and went work. Around noon, I tried again, but the Microsoft servers were slammed and getting it was nearly impossible. I got to the form to enter the beta, but after filling it out and pressing submit, I repeatedly ran into the "Server Too Busy" error message and was forced to try again. After about 30 minutes of wrestling with their site, they took down the site, and I read a report saying that they "needed to add infrastructure." Wait, you guys make server products and your servers couldn't handle the load? Poor planning dudes. Well, on Saturday, when I found tweets that they had brought the pages back online, I managed to sweep in and grab myself a key. Fortunately for other people they removed the 2.5 million product key download limit, but only until January 24th. I hope to get a new hard drive soon for my tablet so that I can begin working with Windows 7 before my semester starts and through it (although the beta does expire on the 1st of August).

Here is a small list of crazy news articles that I stumbled on throughout the week that I wanted to share (more can be found on my Digg profile):
  1. Yes, its snowing in hell: Bush protects environmental gems
  2. What a horrible way to start the New Year: 1UP acquired by UGO; EGM cancelled; layoffs
  3. Rare condition causes woman to have gigantic legs, feet
  4. Meet the boy too big for his mom's SUV
  5. Wow, a little bit of Harry Potter in real life: Microsoft Research - Whereabouts Clock
  6. Straight out of the WTF files: 'Mantyhose'

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