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About once a week, I work in the office of my client, for better communication and to access some computer stuff that's a pain to do remotely. Today, I went in and they had a maintenance and cleaning man in for the day doing an assortment of non-urgent loud things in the office. This including him talking loudly on his cell phone about a problem with another job he was doing. He had been told it was OK to do this work all day today. I got about half of what I had intended to do done due to the noise level. At first I was irritated, but then I thought "what the heck, I am not going to bill any less my for my time". This contrasts with many salaried jobs where you end up making up lost productivity due to a poor work environment with unpaid overtime.
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Since upgrading Firefox to version 7.0.1 on my Mac, I have had all kinds of problems including crashes and long delays when clicking on links or my Bookmark toolbar. I was doing "force quit" many times each day. Some Google searching showed that lots of people were having issues with 7.0.1, and not just on the Mac. After some more Google, I found his link which has two work arounds in it for the issues in question. After doing both suggestions, all seems to be well now, although I think Firefox is going downhill on reliability.
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Am slowly but surely moving more and more stuff from PC to Mac. This was accelerated by my old Dell PC buying the farm as mentioned in my last post. Things that do not go easy from PC to Mac include MS Access mdb files. While I still have a way to run Access, its a pain and I want to move to better portability. I found the cool freeware MDB Tools which read and extract data from mdb files. It is simple command line tool that runs pretty much on any Unix type system (for Mac, you can get it from Mac Ports). Its doc is not the greatest, but it is worth the effort.
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One of my computers died over the last week: the motherboard failed. Although I had backups for almost everything that mattered, I wanted to go through the still AOK disk on the dead machine (a Serial ATA disk). My remaining computers are laptops and I did not have a box around that would accept such a drive. I did some searching on Amazon and found Cables To Go 30504 USB 2.0 to IDE or Serial ATA Drive Adapter which had good reviews. I bought one and it came today. Awesome! I had my old Serial ATA disk accessible via USB in minutes. It worked fine with both my MacBook and a PC Laptop. Highly recommended, especially for the price. I got back my saved games for DOOM which I did not have backed up.
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I missed it at the theaters and have it on order from Amazon, but I recently found a mediocre video quality torrent bootleg of Let Me In the American remake of the excellent Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In. I know there were good reviews, but I was amazed at how good the US remake is.

Usually these remakes are awful (e.g. the American remake of the Vanishing). The tone and mood of the original are well preserved in the remake. I was afraid they would try to turn it into a Twilight clone. I still give the original a slight edge, but the remake is pretty close. IMHO the actress playing the lead in the original is a little better and she conveys a slightly creepier feeling which is important for a horror flick.

The only other good American remake of a foreign film I have seen is the Ring. In that case, I actually prefer the American version.
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I have been doing a lot of PHP work, and a little JavaScript. When dealing with odd characters in parameter strings, etc. there are assorted and somewhat confusing functions in both languages for escaping and unescaping strings. This tool lets you see the results of putting a string through the various PHP and JavaScript escape functions. Very handy.
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I've been doing some parsing using regular expressions in a PHP project. Yesterday, I found the Regular Expression Test Tool which allows you to try a regex and a test string with the various PHP Regex functions and their flags. Much quicker than writing a test program. Big time saver.
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For the last couple of weeks I have been listening two CDs from Lindsay Mac. I saw
this article about her in the Boston Globe, checked out her website and listened to a couple of cuts on MySpace, which led me to order the CDs. They are great.

She is a singer-songwriter who accompanies herself on the Cello (often plucking it and holding it like a guitar). The sound is very different, and I like her songwriting a lot.
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As a person with a mainframe and mini-computer background, I like command lines and command prompt windows. This tool creates an "Open Terminal Here" button in the Mac Finder. You can use finder to navigate the folder structure and then pop open a terminal window that has its current directory positioned at that folder. I had tried a couple of other similar tools on the Mac but this is the best one I have seen. Very handy.
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If you need to see hex unicode representations in UTF16 or UTF8 this is a nice tool. The text accumulator is nice if you need to create literals or to check string building code to make sure it is doing the right thing.
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As part of some web mastering I do, I often need to convert simple plain text (from emails) to basic HTML mark up. Text Fixer has a simple "Text to HTML" tool, which is handy. They have some other neat tools as well.
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I have always liked The Muppets Music videos (Bohemian Rhapsody is great also), I ran across this one: "Ode To Joy" the other day. I do not recall if I had seen it before, but it is great. Also, reminds me of "Die Hard".
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I have had pretty good luck with Amazon's recommendations over the years and have found several great books and CDs that way. However, I am puzzling over this one. A couple of months ago, I bought a Linksys wireless router via Amazon to replace a broken router in my home network. Yesterday, my Amazon recommendations said I should buy a box of Band-Aids, and it says this was recommended because I bought the router. Odd. Maybe it thought I might cut myself installing the router?
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For the first time in years, I got a cold call from a headhunter (W&W) for a senior SW engineer position. I think I still like contracting too much, and the job is not a great fit, but it is nice to see jobs out there again. He also said they now have several positions they are trying to fill and have gotten busy.

It also reminded me why I do not much like headhunters. He was nice enough, but so non-technical he could only parrot words from the job description and clearly did not understand the position he was trying to fill.

A first!

Oct. 14th, 2009 03:51 pm
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Today I picked up a new Honda Civic which will be the fourth new car I have gotten over the years. However, it is my first experience with a dealer that was positive; all my other car purchases have been at dealers that ranged from simply bad to terrible and dishonest.

I'm delighted with the dealer I used this time:
Prime Honda in West Roxbury (they have a Toyota dealership too). They were honest, not pushy, and the paperwork agreed with everything I had been told verbally. When I picked up the car, the sales person spent a good chunk of time going over it with me. Usually once you have paid, they will not even give you the time of day.

I found them via various rating and review sites on the net.
Dealer Rater was very helpful.
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Just did an upgrade install of the Snow Leopard upgrade on my Mac. So far things seem to be working. Expose is improved, and unscientifically it seems faster. PHP, MySQL, Apache, etc. for web development seem AOK.

I did have to install the latest "Plants vs Zombies" since it started crashing much more often than before. The POPCAP site did not mention anything but the download is a different size than when I installed in May and things got a lot more stable after I installed it.

VMWare Fusion works fine as long as you are up to date on their maintenance. My XP Virtual machine seems happy.

Oops

Jul. 26th, 2009 04:13 pm
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I guess I need to lose some weight. I stepped on my bathroom scale today, and it made a sad metal breaking noise from inside, and that was it for my scale: I killed it. You see this kind of thing in movies or jokes, but it really happened to me.
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