Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

As we come up on two years…

December 17, 2009

Next month will be the two-year anniversary of the beginning of this blog.  It’s been a good run.  We have consistent hits on some of our most popular posts, with total hits in five figures.  Mark set the record for most hits in one day, landing us on the list of fastest-growing blogs, and I had a paid article offer from The Daily Yonder.  Yet, for both of us, it’s time to take a break from publishing in this particular venue.

The upside is, we’ve accomplished the goals of this particular blog, which were 1) to chronicle a journey through the information technology world, and 2) to provide  resources to help accomplish the tasks fellow travelers encounter.  As of now, there are several topics we have covered that are visited quite frequently (see the links above), along with two years’ worth of collected news, opinion, and fixes.

I’ll now be turning my focus toward completing my capstone project in software development, followed by a transition into the software development field.  Mark is busy with graduate studies in computer science and other independent software projects.  On top of those things, we both have family and work…

So if you’ve been following long-term, thank you – we’ve enjoyed it, and we hope you have too.

You can still find us on the Web:


Ben: (currently parked as of December 09 – should be up by January)


Big news for me…

August 14, 2009

I’m officially a member of Mensa!  I’ve been wanting to join for some time, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized I unwittingly qualified over 12 years ago.  Apparently, when I took the OLSAT exam in high school, I scored high enough to qualify for Mensa membership.  So I sent in the score report and an attesting letter from the school, and they approved me.  It’s a big thing for me, so help me celebrate. =)

If you’re not familiar with Mensa, you’re missing out on a good thing in the world of geekhood.  Mensa is, according to the stuff they sent me, “an organization for anyone who scores in the top 2 percent of the general population on one of more than 200 standardized intelligence tests.”  It’s arguably one of the best known high-IQ societies.

I would add that 1 of 50 people is not that selective – you should try out.  Some local groups (if you don’t live in the sticks like I do) test as often as once a month for about $40 (US).  The test is not a scored IQ test – it’s simply a test for Mensa membership.  You must earn a score in the 98th percentile of the general population.  Alternatively, you can see a psychologist or your school counselor to take any of a large number of IQ tests.  Some older versions of standard educational exams (older ACT, GRE, and SAT) can possibly qualify as well.  See this link for details on which tests qualify.

Keeping alert at work

June 23, 2009

For IT support staff, sometimes it’s drought, and sometimes it’s flooding.  For me at least, it’s rarely much in between.  And since our hiring freeze, incidents that are within my scope are scarce.  I read this article today on Tech Republic regarding night shift boredom on the help desk.  Now, I don’t do “help desk” per se, and I don’t do night shift, but I do have the same essential issue – my quality of work depends on my alertness of mind.

I like Jeff’s ideas.  He’s pretty much hit the nail on the head.  I would add a few ideas, though.  Here’s my comment I posted on the thread:

First thing (which you alluded to) is physically keeping the body alert. Walking, running, even having a treadmill or bike in the office (depending on your corporate culture) could be a help. Proper ergonomics (especially neck and back) are a must.

Mental stimulation is key as well. I love designing things, so designing a woodworking project or a guitar or a computer program will keep me rolling at all but the most sleepy of times. If you like to hack (in the old-school non-destructive sense), and you have the authority to set up an old ‘retired’ asset, set up a dev box and write code. Save all of it, too. That kind of analytical thinking will not only keep you awake, but will also sharpen your analytical skills and broaden your knowledge.

Eating right is a big factor. While a Coke can provide a short buzz, it also makes you crash afterwards. Eat plenty of fruits/veggies, and take a multivitamin. Stay away from fast food, etc… all the things we already knew but don’t practice. =D

So what are your secrets for ensuring that, when the next phone call or meeting comes, that you are at the top of your game?

Google Android Magic

June 2, 2009

HTC has released another Google Android phone. This one is smaller and sleeker than the G1 and looses the hard keyboard.

I think it looks pretty good and can be compelling. We’ll see. Again this is why I went ahead with the iPhone. Currently I still think it is the best phone, but more and more are coming out. The Palm Pre looks good and soon there may be a plethora of Android phones out.

A few changes

April 23, 2009

I made a few changes today to the widgets on the blog.  For Mark and me, I added the Admin widget, and for you, I added several, including a tag cloud and recent comments.  Have a look on the sidebar and try something new today!


iLife 09

March 16, 2009

Ars reviews iLife 09. I haven’t had a chance to test it for myself, but Ars always does a good and thorough job.

Apple by the numbers (and Linux browser share)

February 24, 2009

Ars is reporting about how to determine what Apple market share actually is. The article does a good job talking about positives and negatives or accuracy vs. inaccuracy. The skinny is that Apple share is certainly going up and it looks like a continuing trend.

The one section I thought was interesting was in browser share. Apple is going up, but they mentioned that Linux numbers are quite low. The metric works by tracking browser statistics of particular sites (NY Times being one). The article did a good job showing why these statistics can be false:

The discrepancy in Linux numbers makes it easier to explain why Net Applications’ data isn’t necessarily a precise picture of the market. The company tracks OS and browser use among “member sites” that use Net Applications’ tracking services, which the company says encompasses data from some 160 million users per month. This means that the only OS and browser numbers being tracked are those from users who specifically visit those member sites, which include the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and InformationWeek. If specific demographics of users—like, say, Linux users—don’t tend to read those types of sites, they are going to be underrepresented, and similarly, other demographics may be overrepresented.

There are two things that I want to mention about this. First Ars is right that perhaps Linux users don’t read these sites…I’d venture a guess that computer websites would show Linux numbers far higher. Second, though, is where do a lot of people read these sites? That is an important factor, I mean I am an avid Linux user, but at work I use Mac and in previous jobs had to use Windows. So if the majority of my reading were done at work than it is an unfair metric (perhaps for both Linux and Mac). Recently Lifehacker mentioned that Linux stories do extremely well on their site, but that they get more Apple and Windows traffic. I used the same argument for them. Most of my Lifehacker is done at work on my Mac, but that doesn’t mean I am not a Linux user. So don’t let the numbers discourage you Linux users.

As far as Apple share is concerned I like it. I don’t necessarily want to see Windows dissolved, but I do want to see the balance of power shifted more evenly. I would love to see Windows overall market share closer or below 50% and right now the best competitor to do that is Apple. So keep it up. May the best OS win 🙂