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Craftsmen vs. Engineers

Last night, I attended the Software Craftsmanship McHenry County user group meeting talk given by Andy Maleh of Groupon: Software Craftsmanship vs. Software Engineering1. It was a very good talk that got me thinking about the true distinction between the two disciplines.

Software as a tradeCollapse )

  1. Here is video from last night. Sadly, the slides aren't very visible. However, here's a previous, shortened version of the talk: video and slides. (return)
  2. More footnotesCollapse )


Two new LJ features, and a caution

LJ's Release 90 is out, bringing along three changes - two useful, one that could wind up being a surprise:
Sticky Posts: Easy - No work-around needed!
For those communities and journals that have wanted a post to remain permanently in place without it being pushed down by a new entry – like a ‘Welcome” post – sitcky posts make it easy. On the Update page, you’ll find the option "Make sticky post.” When you select this option, the entry you chose will now appear as the top entry to anyone who views your journal or community. You can only have one sticky entry per journal or community. Note that if you post a new entry with sticky post enabled, it will become the new top entry and the previous sticky post will revert to being a normal entry. If an entry is a sticky post, this icon will appear in the same location as the entry security level icon appears.

Delayed entries: Changing the date & time of your entry to a time in the future will now cause the entry to be posted at the date & time you have entered rather than immediately posting it. You can view & manage the delayed entries you have scheduled to post at http://www.livejournal.com/manage/scheduled_posts.bml.

lj-spoiler tags: You can now add spoilers to an entry through use of the <lj-spoiler> tag. This is similar to an <lj-cut> in that it will hide all content inside of it, but it does not require a new page to load when clicked, and it works in both entries and comments. You can customize the text by using the format <lj-spoiler text="Custom text goes here">. There is also this new button in the Rich Text Editor: which will cause all highlighted text to be placed inside an lj-spoiler tag.
The key one here is the "delayed entries" - if you've created a placeholder for the top of your journal and dated it far in the future (like eicnan has), you should probably change it to a sticky post now, so it doesn't get lost in the shuffle.


Private to kateshort and aardy

I thought we had a deal?

I mean, when one of our competitors entered the ring, the other would hide nearby with a folding chair at the ready.

How can you suggest that Omar Little would kill the Road Runner? I mean, seriously - if Wile E. couldn't shoot him, how can Omar?

(Everyone else: go sign up and vote for the Road Runner!)

10 years later... man, I'm getting old.

I missed it by a week: October 18th was the 10th anniversary of me having this LJ. My first post was on October 18th, 2001 at 1:51:13 PM. That first post went like this:
now, once upon a time i had a blog on my website and that was for non personal information. (it's still up too if you click on my webpage link) anyway, it's not like this'll be too much different; this is more for commenting on my friends than it is for me to ramble on. so fyi, there you go.
The first non-placeholder entry was on October 26th trying to organize a trip to see my friends in Urbana.

Ten years, 544 posts (I deleted everything pre-2004), 2487 comments and one LJ-connect later, I'm still here, although basically in read-only mode: I've become tired of the spam and such, and whatever I used to post here goes on FB and Twitter instead. Besides, with RSS, communities like this just don't come along much anymore, and people spend their time with other social media.

I've met a lot of friends along the way, lost others, and learned a lot. I hope you have, too.

Here's looking forward to the next ten years.


TV remote firmware update

Yet another in the series of posts I occasionally write to be indexed by Google...

rachelk121 and I received an Element ELDFT421 television as a gift back in September. We could not get it to work with our Comcast remote, and a promised update on their web site wouldn't work with the TV either. Their tech support was basically worthless - "Sorry, it's a free update, we don't warranty it, go away."

Today, after getting a new Comcast box, I went back to the page, and I found a new instruction #2:
The file will download as a .zip. For the update to function correctly, you must unzip the file and rename the file inside:


The file name must be named exactly the same as above. Once renamed save the .pkg file to a FAT formatted USB Jump Drive. The file must be the only file on the drive in the root folder.
Lo and behold, if you rename the file as above - the update works! (Previously, they just told you to put the file on the jump drive.)

I tried this with a 2 GB USB drive with no other connections (besides power) made, recently reformatted the drive. It appears the standard Mac files that start with a dot (the .Trashes directory, for example) can be on the drive without affecting the update.

It would have been nice if someone could have explained this two months ago...

Quest for the Cup (banner)

One of the things I've been looking to buy this summer was a replica of the Chicago Blackhawks' Stanley Cup banner for 2010 - the one they're going to raise October 9th. (For reference, the previous 3 can be seen here.) Last week, I found the company that makes these flags, and they sent me to a reseller website to buy them. The site doesn't look like much - http://bestnhlflags.com/ - but I placed my order for 4; they came Saturday, shipped from Canada - and they look great. I was extremely happy with the fast response and quick shipping that I got from the company. In eBay parlance, "A+++ WOULD BUY AGAIN!"

I bring this up, because had I not been referred to this website by the manufacturer, I probably wouldn't have bought from them. I know there are tons of "homegrown" sites out there like this, which sell a good product at a good price, but don't "look" modern - so I usually shy away. I know there are plenty of sites out there that look good, but hide something nefarious - so I always do my research before buying. And I'm always hesitant to buy from a company that I can't find any information about.

So: Russ, Niagara Promotions, and bestnhlflags.com - thank you for the quick delivery. I'm glad I have my banner, so I can properly raise it the night of October 9th, in lieu of being at the stadium (because, let's face it, while it'd be cool to be there - I'm not paying $250 per ticket to go.)

And on that night, I'll post a picture of the banner for everyone to see.

FTC disclaimer: I did receive a small discount and free shipping for my order for buying in bulk. I was not compensated for writing this review.

Hawks Win!

I still can't believe that the Hawks have won the 2010 Stanley Cup.

Back in 2007 (October 6, to be exact), I bought tickets to a game for me, Rachel, my dad and brother, as well as a visitor from Australia. There were 18,768 in attendance, and while the place was packed with a lot of Red Wings fans, there were also a bunch of Blackhawks fans there to do this:

I never would have thought, as I sat in section 310 row 1 that night, that three years later I would see a Hawks team hoist the Stanley Cup.

I have tremendous respect for Rocky Wirtz, who took the necessary and right steps to get the team to fight together through tremendous adversity. I love this organization, its coaches and players. I'm excited that this team is so young and poised to ride this crest for many years to come.

I went to my first Blackhawks game in 1994 - the last year in the old barn called Chicago Stadium. I was more of a Bulls fan until then, but after that, hockey was in my blood. As a long-suffering fan over the last 16 years, it feels great to be here, winning a championship.

In 2008, the Hawks put this video together and put it on the scoreboard before every game:

I'm happy to report, the answer to that question is: Yes, this is the year. And yes, hockey never left Chicago, but it definitely has returned.

My Flash settings

There's been a lot of talk lately about Flash cookies and browser privacy. Recently, I was asked by darkuncle about my Flash settings, and he suggested I make a blog post about them, so here goes:

First of all, in order to change your global Flash settings, you must visit a web page. There is no direct way to manipulate them otherwise. There are 6 pages required to modify the settings. What's more, any settings changes you make in one browser on your machine affect all browsers, so be careful about doing this on your work machine in case you affect applications on your intranet.

By web page, here are the settings I currently use:

  • Global Privacy Settings
    • Always Ask to use my camera and/or microphone
  • Global Storage Settings
    • 0 KB of disk space
    • Checked "Never Ask Again"
    • Checked Allow third-party storage
    • Checked Store common Flash components
  • Global Security Settings
    • Always Ask about using older security
    • For trusted file locations, verify each location as correct (for me, this is empty; I would imagine intranet sites would be OK)
  • Global Notification Settings, aka the hidden panel (because there's no tab)
    • Checked for update notification
    • Every 7 days
  • Website Privacy Settings
    • Delete all sites to clear both cookies and webcam permissions. The list should now be empty.
  • Website Storage Settings
    • This should now be empty; if it's not, Delete all sites to allow your new settings to take effect globally.

Why set to 0 KB of storage, instead of denying? Many online flash applications (such as the Comedy Central video viewer) will refuse to work if your local storage is set to "deny". However, giving them 0KB of storage lets their buffer system work in memory without "storing" anything on your computer. This means the stuff you want to temporarily store (such as video buffering) will still work, while the stuff you don't (cookies) won't be saved.

Why set to "Never Ask Again" on storage? Because when these Flash videos start on your computer, they'll ask to expand how much space they can use from 0 up to whatever they want (ususally 10KB). This gets annoying quickly, so setting to "Never Ask Again" stops this.

What if there's a problem? Well, most of the time you'll never see a problem. One problem area I've seen is related to Facebook, and some applications there. If you open up a web page and don't see a Flash app that you expect, right click on the app, choose "Settings" and change the settings for that site. If that doesn't work, go to the settings page again and temporarily unset the "ask" checkbox. Once the app is running and you give it permission, you can go back and re-check the checkbox. Your permission will be saved for future reference. (For the record, the app was Zynga Poker; the app would never even display a splash screen. Enabling storage allowed the app to work. I've also had this problem browsing "Weekly Ads" at Meijer, with the same fix.)

While I'm not an expert on Flash settings, this is what's worked for me, and I'll try to answer any questions I can. If things happen unexpectedly, I suggest returning your settings to the defaults, which are generally "Always Ask" and 100 KB of storage. Remember to clear any saved settings to let your changes take effect.

Beatles Rock Band DLC... October 20th?

From the fine print at https://www.tbrb-freedlc.com/gamestop/faq.html:
Your free DLC codes will not be available before October 20, 2009, when the first songs (from Abbey Road album) are posted to the respective online system (Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network, Wii Shop Channel). If all or some of your songs you selected are from the Sgt. Pepper's album, those songs will be available sometime in November, 2009.
I'm surprised they're going to keep the extra content for a month and a half. I would have thought that they would have released at least the first album pretty quickly to capitalize on the publicity.

Unless they're planning on getting much more free publicity when it is released.

Separated At Birth

Meet Kevin Gregg, the Cubs 2009 closer.
Kevin Gregg

His performance recently has reminded me of another famous relief pitcher. I think they were separated at birth. The resemblance is uncanny.
Major League: Ricky Vaughn

Or, as Harry Doyle would say...
Vaughn, a juvenile delinquent in the off-season, in his major league debut.
Vaughn, into the windup, and his first offering... just a bit outside. He tried the corner and missed.
Ball four.
Ball eight.
Low, and Vaughn has walked the bases loaded on 12 straight pitches. Boy, how can these guys lay off pitches that close?



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