26 April 2009

Bi-weekly Reflections 2009 - Week 14 & 15

"Bi-Weekly Reflections" is my small journal of events that have gone on throughout the last 2 weeks that I've decided to keep. New updates to this will (hopefully) be posted as soon as possible.
Sunday (4/12/2009) was Easter and I went to Church for the first time in quite a while. I feel guilty that I haven't been able to go in quite some time and have not been able to go to Confession like my Catholic obligations tell me too. Nevertheless, the guilt did not prevent me from having a good time with my family when I went to my grandparent's house and met with the rest of my family. Unfortunately, I was still dealing with what appeared to be allergies, which kind of ruined some things.
I ended up having to call out sick on Monday (4/13/2009) when, on my way to class, I was having a really hard time with what I thought was allergies. Come to find out, I probably was sick and it had appeared to be allergies because I was sneezing so much, had a runny nose, and was just having a horrible time dealing with it. Nevertheless, I somehow managed to make it to class, but found myself not able to think the whole time I was there and by the time I returned back home, I took a nap (since I was dog tired thanks to the Zyrtec that I had taken the night before that had somehow kept me awake and thus did not allow me to sleep right) and began working on a backlog of homework that I had. I felt guilty having to call out sick at such short notice, but I couldn't think and logging in for work would have been a horrible waste of the company's time and money.
Tuesday (4/14/2009) ended up being a pretty busy day for me as I went to school, worked from school, did some more classes, returned home, and proceeded to work on homework for the rest of the night.
Wednesday (4/15/2009) was similar to Tuesday, except that I skipped class to continue working on my homework (although I actually logged into work and worked for a while so that I could have more consecutive time to work on my homework that evening). I worked on my OpenGL project that was due on 4/16/2009 till about 12:15 that night, when I called it quits (although it was far from finished). There was just too much stuff to implement and because I've been so busy in the last few weeks, I ran out of time to work on it. Fortunately the major bits are there, but hopefully I can work on a little bit of it (and the report for it) so that I can turn in a little more complete project on Thursday.
Thursday (4/16/2009) started off a little horribly. I, of course, woke up really tired, and I'll admit I got a Starbucks (though I wasn't too horribly tired at the time) thinking that the extra caffine would help me think a little clearer as it has done on occassion in the past. The first thing on the agenda for the day was a Discrete Math test, which turned out to be quite difficult. It was a test which had a few induction-based proofs that I had to do, and knowing that induction is definitely not my strong suit, I did what I could. A few of the problems I even tried answering using methods that we didn't even really cover. For instance, one question asked about many combinations of 6 people (10 male, 13 female) could you make if 2 were male and 2 were female. Forgetting the proper procedures, I reasoned it out into 3 cases: the number of combinations if the last 2 people were both male, both female, or one of each. Then I added those three cases together for my answer, but I'm not really sure that it was the proper answer. My teacher really couldn't mark me down for approaching the problem in a different manner, could he? Well, a lot of problems were done in a different manner like this, particularly the first problem which was quite difficult (like, how many items are in the set S of binary strings of length 10 such that x and y are related in a way such that the sum of every digit in x equals the sum of every digit in y). For that question, I said 2^10, since every number can be related to itself (and a number of other things). One question was really easy that was related to that, though, and that was the number of equivalence classes there were, which I said was 11, since the range of sums is between 0 and 10 inclusive, and each string has a unique sum. Simple.
Friday (4/17/09) was somewhat strange at work. Although I got quite a bit of work done that was sitting on my to-do list, the highlight of the day was when I got a woman to get a ticket. During my lunch break, I walked to the Subway that was across the street and down the block from the office. I walked to a crosswalk, waited for the light to allow me to cross, and made it to Subway without a hitch (I would've J-walked across, but seeing as how there were quite a few police officers around, I figured it would serve me best to do it the right way rather than get a pedestrian ticket). The craziness happened on my way back, though, when I took the same crosswalk. However, as I walked, traffic that needed to make a right or left turn (there was no straight) had a green, but of course, by the rules, you must yield for pedestrians. This woman was attempting to make a left turn, which would cross my path. She saw me crossing, hesitated more than once, then decided, as I was already in the middle of the street, that she would complete her turn and I had to stop in my tracks as she passed by feet from where I stood. I was so incredulous that I just stared at her, making eye contact the entire time she completed the turn. A police officer on a motorcycle that was a car behind her, passed the individual in front of her, turned on his signal and passed behind me as I finished crossing the street. Needless to say, I walked by where he had stopped her but continued on, not wanting to get involved.
Saturday (4/18/09) was my brother's birthday, and my gradparents, my aunt and cousin, my parents, Ashley and I celebrated by taking him out to a new barbecue restaurant called Lucielle's. Boy was it delicious! I had a Hot Link Sandwich, which had BBQ hot links (my favorite types of sausages) and coleslaw in a bun. But, boy, was it a lot of food! Afterwards, my brother, my cousin and I all went to the theater to see Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D, and I have to admit, it was quite enjoyable. I was actually quite impressed with the 3D, being that it was actually the first time that I had ever seen a 3D movie in the theaters (with the exception of those immersive showcases at places like Sea World). The movie too was very enjoyable, and I didn't have a problem watching it.
Sunday (4/19/09) was mainly a homework day for me, although much of it didn't get done. I, instead, relaxed nearly all day and then went to the new Bob's Big Boy that is here in Temecula. Unfortunately, it wasn't something really to rave about, as the food was somewhat plain (maybe it was what I ordered?), but it wasn't really about the food, but rather the time I was able to spend with Ashley. On the way back, though, Ashley & I stopped off at a Shell station off HW-79S and Front Street in Temecula, and as I was pumping gas, a fairly large lizard had crawled up to my car and tried to hide in the wheels of my car. Not wanting to kill the 6-inch lizard, Ashley & I tried to shoo the lizard out of and away from my car (and the other cars). Unfortunately, it had gotten into some crevass of my car and wouldn't come out, so I drove a little bit and luckily it came out of my car. It was a very strange event that both Ashley & I laughed at since it freaked both of us out.
Monday and Tuesday (4/20-21) were not very eventful days, but Wednesday (4/22/09) was pretty nice. After trying to deliver on Tuesday, I finally got my newly ordered AppleTV. Admittedly, I felt kind of dirty seeing the horrid Apple logo sitting inside of the shipping box, feeling as if I had broken some unspoken rule that Apple products would never see the light of day within the confines of my room (my mom briefly had an iPod before they returned it because they couldn't figure out how to use iTunes). However, knowing that I wouldn't use the AppleTV as it is, I felt good knowing that I turned their product into one of my own - hell, I just wanted it for the hardware anyways, which I could've gotten elsewhere and built my own (though it was cheaper to buy it though). After finishing work at home, I promptly opened the box, plugged it in, and began hacking away at it. I probably will write a small blog post on what steps I took and the things that I did to make the AppleTV work to my specifications, but it took quite a few hours to set it up properly (though most of it was pretty easy to do). Why did I get the ATV? Merely because a "media center" that I had built before was getting cumbersome to use and was underpowered, and didn't lend itself well in the "ease-of-use" area since it had to be controlled via keyboard (and that in-and-of-itself was difficult to remember all the different keys). It also allowed me to take the old "media center" and transform it into a new home server, since my other server is starting to show its signs of limitations as my needs have changed. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to try it out much yet, but I feel that it may work fairly well, especially in the "ease-of-use" area so that Ashley could use it without much confusion as well. We'll see.
Thursday (4/23/09) was pretty much a normal day - I hated it. Thursdays are such long days for me, but at least I managed to get a Subway sandwich, so my day was a bit more bearable.
Friday (4/24/09) wasn't very interesting except that I had gone to work, but there wasn't much that happened there so I don't have much to say about it. Saturday (4/25/09) was similar, except without the whole work part. :D

Links & Articles
  • Good article that I totally agree on why I enjoy programming [link]
  • They are saying that some hackers are bypassing ATM PINs using the decryption keys found by compromised systems that route transactions to the destination servers since the protocol requires that each node along the path decrypts and then re-encrypts the transaction details. Well, duh people, obviously the weakest link here is the nodes, so if the nodes are compromised, a large percentage of people's ATM transactions are compromised (and consequently, their accounts). I could have told you that! [article]
  • Yes, Temecula even had their own "Tea Party" tax protest, and all I can say is this: those of you who went are idiots. I don't understand how people (i.e. Republicans) can think that the expendiatures of the government can be offset without taxes (hence the reason for the quote "You can only be sure of 2 things in life: death and taxes"). People are upset about the expendatures that the government has recently (somewhat) needed to make to ensure that the country continues to function, thinking that the banks should just die out as punishment for their bad business decisions. What if you're a customer of that bank? If its insured by FICA (thus you are insured to $100,000), you will get your money should it fail, but it doesn't mean you will get all of it right that instant. You'd maybe get $100 a month. That wouldn't help anybody with a mortage. Ugh, people are so naive (I admit, myself included). You have to spend money in order to make more - that's how businesses run and the government is just another big corporation. Learn to deal with it. [article]
  • A woman was killed in a car accident, but not because of the other vehicle or the severity of the crash, but because police believe that her laptop had struck her in the back of the head in the accident. Newton's Laws of Physics apply here, and its understandable that, though you can go from 60 to 0 in less than a second and survive, an unrestrained laptop continues in motion until a force stops it. That force: her head. That's why we have seatbelts - because you will fly through the windshield (provided it even breaks allowing you through, otherwise you'll be plastered against the glass and it will tear your face apart) and hit the first object that has enough force to stop you - and kill you. Thankfully my laptop is usually in my bag in the passenger footwell - the only thing (I think) that will cause it to fly and hit me is a collision from my side where it will come flying at me laterally, but won't normally happen but it still could, potentially. [article]
  • This really irks me: a teacher was fired over nude photos of herself that she had since she, at one point, posed nude for Playboy. Please tell me how and why people get upset over people's pasts? She's a damn teacher, doing good for the future, and you're going to fire her because she was probably struggling for money and it was a quick and temporary fix so that she could continue on to become a better person? Its not like she's killing people, or is like other teachers who have been fired for their eyebrow-raising relationships with their students. Besides, it'd probably increase attendance in her classes, and before you know it, it'd be old news and nobody would care anymore. Yeah, it might serve as a distraction, but ultimately, the mere desire to pass the class (because you may not have that same teacher again and don't want to be at that grade level forever) will drive people to continue working. And if it weren't for somebody making a big deal out of it, it probably wouldn't have even been a problem at all! Stupid people. [article]
  • One of the coolest Instructables I've seen in a while! "How to charge your cellphone using wasted heat" [article]
  • "Simple Text Messages Could Be Used To Steal Data" - okay, this is kind of ironic. Just last week I was researching things called OTA messages, which could be used to provision devices and instruct them to do stuff, which naturally I was attempting to force a phone to download, install, and execute an application. Then along comes this video, which I think is quite impressive and makes use of SL WAP Push messages to force the phone to perform a selected activity. This seems pretty cool and actually makes me want to try it (since my entire family has WinMo phones). I'll probably post more information as I uncover it! This stuff is so cool (although in the wrong hands it can be dangerous)! [article]
  • This is sorta funny, but apparently the famous "Four Corners" is, according to recent measurements, actually off by 2.5 miles! Wow, that's a huge difference! [article]
  • It may seem trivial and unimportant at first, but a team of 300 scientists finally sequenced the genome of a cow after 6 years of work. This could have huge implications - and consequences. But the thing that I found interesting in the article was not their findings, but rather who financed the research. Of the group of organizations that had funded the research, New Zealand stood out the most. Not part of it - all of it. At least according to the article. I wonder why? [article]
  • What?! Doctors removed a 40-pound tumor from a woman who, at the time of the surgery, only weighed 82 pounds! She now weighs less than a 10-year-old! [article]

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