March 29, 2005


My blog got reviewed!
Posted by Jess in Geek Humor

A new blog in RI consists of marketing tips. I’m still not really sure who runs it, but it’s not really that important to the story here. As one of his blogs (I do know it’s a 'he', but it will all make sense later!), he reviewed the advertising potential of the blogs.

As a starting point to find some local blogs, he headed to SNEBloggers.com, (Southern New England bloggers) and picked five blogs to review, mine included.

As my favorite comedian Mitch Hedberg did on his site when he released his first CD, I would now like to review his review.

"Briefly, I'll review the premise: these reviews examine area blogs to determine what value they might have to advertisers, and what types of businesses might use them."

I don’t think I'd be keen on advertising on this site. While I'm not going to rule it out, at the moment I've got no desire at all for that.

Each of this edition's five entries will include the blog's pluses, minuses, what types of businesses might want to advertise with them, and an overall "ad-worthiness" ranking of 1 to 5. I can't emphasize enough that I'm not judging these blogs on innate quality, just on their advertising potential. The randomly chosen blogs might not have any desire to include advertisements, and if so, they can feel free to denounce me to the blogosphere.

With a statement that like sir, I would never denounce you to the blogosphere, rather I will now profess my respect to you. Nicely done!

After going through a bunch of blogs that aren't mine...

An interesting personal blog with a good dose of computer talk mixed in, the site is ostensibly co-written by a husband and wife team.

Geez. In one sentence, he managed to say what I've been trying to figure out the best way to put it for years.

However, it took me ten minutes to find an article written by Matt, leaving me to figure that Jess, much like my wife, is firmly in charge. (Something about us whipped Rhode Island husbands...)

Yeah, it takes us about ten minutes, too. At least he gave us a couple articles a few weeks ago. Here's hoping they continue! And, as we like to laugh, (or at least I do, now that I think of it), Matt's not whipped because I say he's not. Got it?

Pluses: The site has a lot of content, whether you just like a humorous look at women and sci-fi or something more technical. The writing is good, the formatting is good, and the use of pictures breaks up the text nicely. The gaming section has good advertising potential.

Wow, those are a lot of pluses. Again, nixing the advertising potential, at least he found the gaming section.

Minuses: It's a personal blog, which has its drawbacks, and a lot of the technical content will only have a limited appeal.

Well, the technical content will have a limited appeal to technical people. Um, I'm pretty sure that's the point.

Will Appeal to: Technies, gamers, whipped husbands. Local computer and video game stores would be the most likely advertisers.

Yup, see, I was right! Though I said technical people, not "technies". He makes it sound like a derogatory word. And it will appeal to whipped husbands if they are allowed to read it, remember.

Overall Advertising Potential: 3 out of 5. This is pretty good for a personal blog...just goes to show you that good writing and a specific focus counts for a lot.

Again with the "good writing" bit. This guy's OK in my book! Er, blog.

Overall Reviewing Potential: 4 out of 5. This is pretty good for a personal blog review. It just goes to show that telling the author they write well counts for a lot.

March 14, 2005


Gretchen Wilson's High-Tech Woman. Er, what?
Posted by Jess in Geek Humor

I warned you I spent a lot of time in the car. I was listening to Gretchen Wilson's "Redneck Woman" the other day while cruising down the highway. In honor of all the gender discussions lately, I thought it would be fun to celebrate us techy ladies for once...

Remember, you've been warned!

Sung to the tune of Gretchen Wilson's Redneck Woman: Click for original lyrics

Well I ain't never been the baby doll type
No, I can't bear to be called vain, I'd rather type code all night.
In a chat room, or in on a message board, or fragging you while playing Quake,
I've got posters on my wall of an old sci-fi remake.
Some people look down on me, but I don't give a rip.
I'll stand Doc Martened right by my PC with a big hoop in my lip!

'cause I'm a high-tech woman
I run on high-speed baud
I create products from my source code
And I'll use Firefox and Opera
And I keep my old Atari on
My TV all year long
Just so I can keep on playing old school games like Pong!
So here's to all my sisters out there keeping it geeky,
Let me get a big "woot, yeah" from the high-tech girls like me, woot, yeah!

Dell and HP, well their stuff's real nice.
Oh, but I can build the same damn thing from my spare parts for half price
And it still looks sexy, just as sexy, as those models on TV
No I don't need no designer brand to overclock my PC!
Well you might think I'm dainty, just part of the décor,
But in the room where we play Doom, I just beat your high score!

'cause I'm a high-tech woman
I run on high-speed baud
I create products from my source code
And I'll use Firefox and Opera
And I keep my old Atari on
My TV all year long
And I know all the words to every Monty Python song!
So here's to all my sisters out there keeping it geeky,
Let me get a big "woot, yeah" from the high-tech girls like me, woot, yeah!

Well I'm a high-tech woman
I run on high-speed baud
I create products from my source code
And I'll use Firefox and Opera
And I keep my old Atari on
My TV all year long
And I can watch my movies in DTS mode all night long!
So here's to all my sisters out there keeping it geeky,
Let me get a big "woot, yeah" from the high-tech girls like me, woot, yeah!

March 11, 2005


The power of macros
Posted by Matt in Tech Talk

Wow, another blog from me within two days of each other. I have been working at increasing the efficiency of our software and in the process and as a little reward to myself, I have taken today off and possibly Monday. It is a welcomed break from the pre-show hustle and bustle and the post show modifications. Lately we have been focusing on increasing the efficiency of our software and I needed an easy way to time how long it took for a function to execute. A timer is the best way to do it but in C++, the best I could find were the CTime and CTimeSpan objects. We have used those in the past but they are only accurate to seconds. I needed something a bit better that was easy, or easier to use. Ya see, it all relates back to my previous post about saving key strokes. I could write up a class to handle all this for me or just a global function but in the end, everywhere I used the timer, the number of keystrokes in comparison to the macro would be exponential. That’s the purpose of a macro anyway, to save time, or in this case, to tell it.

In C++, there are a lot of practices that are frowned upon but they exist. And they exist for a reason. The problem is, most people abuse them because they are lazy. In my case, yes there is a bit of laziness, but the macros I have developed are only used in debug versions of the software. Once the software is ready for release, the macros redefine themselves to nothing. In this situation, I see no problems using them. Below is the macro

KEY:
Comment Color
String Color
Object Type Color
Code Color
If you can't guess it, i am a big fan of using color in code to provide easier readablity. Most development environments provide customizable options to allow for this. I higly suggest looking into it as it makes reading code 10 times easier.


#ifdef _DEBUG
#define BEGIN_TIMER(x,y,z) \
DWORD x ## y = ::GetTickCount(); \
CString x ## y ## z(#x); \
TRACE(_T("Timer %s Started...\n"),x ## y ## z)
#define START_TIMER(x) BEGIN_TIMER(x,Begin,End)
#define FINISH_TIMER(x,y,z) \
DWORD x ## z = ::GetTickCount(); \
TRACE(_T("Timer %s finished in %f seconds\n"), x ## y ## z, ((x ## z) - (x ## y))/1000.0)
#define END_TIMER(x) FINISH_TIMER(x,Begin,End)
#else
#define START_TIMER(x)
#define END_TIMER(x)
#endif

Here is an example of its use

START_TIMER(timeUntilNextBlog);
... // do normal everyday stuff
END_TIMER(timeUntilNextBlog);

This basically expands to

DWORD timeUntilNextBlogBegin = ::GetTickCount();
CString timeUntilNextBlogBeginEnd(“timeUntilNextBlog”);
TRACE(_T(“Timer %s Started…\n”), timeUntilNextBlogBeginEnd);

// do normal everday stuff

DWORD timeUntilNextBlogEnd = ::GetTickCount();
TRACE(_T(“Timer %s finished in %f seconds\n”), timeUntilNextBlogBeginEnd, ((timeUntilNextBlogEnd) – (timeUntilNextBlogBegin))/1000.0);

And the output would be

Timer timeUntilNextBlog started…
Timer timeUntilNextBlog finished in 172000.000000 seconds

Hope some of you can use this. It was a big help to us for increasing the efficiency of our software. For those of you not using Microsoft's DevStudio or .Net compiler, the TRACE portion may need to be removed. It is a macro defined by Microsoft make outputting to the debug window easier. Go figure :-P

March 09, 2005


Bloggification Proclamation
Posted by Matt in Geek Humor

Well, I never really blog so along with my thoughts of renaming this site to www.jessAndWhereTheHellIsMatt.net, I would like to bring in a few thoughts. There are so many I don’t know where to begin. I guess I should start by explaining why the posts from me are as frequent as Haley's comet. It is not that I lack the ideas for blogs, on the contrary, I have had many ideas but they come to me late at night or while lying in bed. I know they are good because Jess and I can’t stop laughing about them or just being amazed at the epiphanies. Come sunrise, however, the effect is gone and so is some of the context.

So why the sudden change in my bloggification? Well, I guess I am still in a bit of a semi-vacation mode. Jess and I were in Orlando for the past few days for the American College of Cardiology convention (sorry Joe, Shirley and Julian for not getting in touch but we had no time). Not really a vacation for either of us but a nice get-away from the cold up here. For those who don’t know, I am the lead engineer on a software product called the Encompass Review Station (ERS). In simple terms, it is a piece of software that cardiologists can use to review and diagnose images of patients.

With that said, there are 2 things I would like to bring up. One is the ability for just about everyone to read the “jessAndWhereTheHellIsMatt” mentioned above. This was a topic that came up in Florida. Since most of us are programmers or have seen some sort of code, you can (hopefully) easily break it out into “Jess and where the hell is Matt”. ifNotPleaseSkipToTheNextParagraphAsThisOneIsOverYourHead. So the topic of conversation was “why is it that programmers don’t capitalize the first word?” The short and long of it (Get it??? that’s my bad programmer joke of the day people) is, in my opinion, is we got tired of pressing the shift key. Hell it is one more key press! It's funny to put it in perspective with ERS because doctors don’t use variable names but instead want the most direct route to reviewing a patient. This means to analyze and diagnose in the shortest amount of mouse clicks while interacting with our software. In efforts to accommodate this, we have provided a lot of automation for the doctors in our software. It sounds kind of silly that one more mouse click is the make it or break it of this type of software but I heard it a lot at the convention. Just like one more key press for us programmers. Of course there are the acronym or obscure variable names following the philosophy of “if the code was hard to write, it should be hard to read”. Any veteran programmer will tell you that adopting that mentality, though perfectly fine in the beginning, bites you in the butt 3 years later when you need to fix a bug in the code.

The real impetus for this blog however was an email I received when I sat down in my cubicle today. It was from Nigel Deed. No, I don’t expect you to know him, I don’t either. My finger was inches from the delete key when I realized, why should I waste my energy with an extra key stroke :-P Actually, I thought it was part of my regular inundation of spam in the morning until I saw first that it was properly formatted, addressed to me and had a link to www.mattandjess.net (or is that www.mattAndJess.net???) In it he pointed out a very interesting fact. Not to ruin the surprise, I instead request that you go to Google and search on “hamlet soliloquoy” without the quotes. (or just click this link and I will save you a few key strokes)

With that, I'm off. I blog ya in another year and a half, or less, check back to find out :-)

Jess here - clickTheExtendedEntryToSeeTheAnswer.

Jess here!
I figured out the answer, and I didn't realize how funny that was until Nigel was kind enough to point it out, and then Matt pointed it out to me.

Here's the screenshot:

badspellersuntie.gif

We went into Google and typed in "Hamlet Soliloquoy" (without the quotes). The first result was my site. The excerpt from my site is text saying "You go to a search engine such as Google. In the search query box, you type in "Hamlet Soliloquoy" without the quotes. It's a home run!"

There's gotta be a rhetoric term for that somewhere... basically I just explained exactly what someone had to do to read what I wrote.

Anyway, back to the original topic, these are the epiphanies that Matt and I have on a nightly basis. Something interesting that makes us look at each other and crack up. When we finally stop laughing, we say "that is REALLY cool!"

Actually, here's what REALLY made us laugh. Yes, I spelled 'soliloquy' wrong, and that's what made my site number 1. (the Internet for Beginners links get a lot of hits). But please note the quick links at the top, most notably, "Dictionary" and "Google".

Sigh.

Bad spellers of the world, untie.

March 07, 2005


Beck's new song
Posted by Jess in Geek Humor

The extremely talented and severely underrated artist Beck has a new song out. It's rough, it's edgy, it's going to be released on March 29, and it's called.... drumroll...

"E-Pro."

So Libby, if your E-Pro referrer logs show a lot of young people searching for "E-Pro" and "downloads", unfortunately, they may not be the aspiring Lotus Professionals we hope for. :-D

March 05, 2005


TIME Magazine - The Math Myth
Posted by Jess in Tech Talk

This month's issue of TIME Magazine strikes home. The cover story? The Math Myth - The real truth behind women's brains and science. I just found out about it this morning, so I have not had time to buy the magazine, but I did have access to a sub-article online on the same topic, "Bad Idea: You'll Flunk Out".

The author, Pat Galloway, states that she had trouble in college and beyond by being told she was in the wrong field (engineering). She was in college in the late seventies, So I definately went later. But she and I had similar experiences.

Pat was told time and time again by her college guidance counselors that engineering was not for her. This is not unlike the time I had gone to ask for help after I had done poorly on a test. My professor took out his grade book. "Let's see.. as it stands right now, there are only two other people who are doing worse than you in this class." squinting at the book "Oh - wait. They dropped out. You're at the bottom of the class. It's time to come to the realization that computer science is not for you."

I can look back on that and wonder, though. Is the perceived "gender gap" sometimes just an emotional gap?

Could men shake it off and keep going, while women take it to a much deeper personal level? Maybe it has nothing to do with skill. It's interesting, because this point never comes up in articles like these. How do we, as women, know we're being treated differently? How do we know it's not just us reacting differently?

There's the science behind our brains, and the emotional decisions our brain makes for us. It's been called into play time and time again, but to me, there's no question that there are differences. It's what makes us men and women!

You do have to take this blog entry with a grain of salt... after all, what do I know? I can't read a gender-biased article and pretend to be an expert on a subject that's been under close scrutiny since the first caveman hit a woman over the head and dragged her into his cave. This is something that I can't oversimplify. But I can word-vomit... and I may even surprise myself by what I end up typing.

I'm finding that when I'm facing gender pressure about something I'm GOOD at, the more I'm razzed about my gender, the more I enjoy sticking it to them. I think I've mentioned this a few times about playing pool. I don't know how many times I've had a good run getting shots in, to hear the jokes, "You're huslting us, aren't you?" Uh, nope, I'm not. If I was hustling you, that would mean that at some point, I had previously indicated to you that I couldn't play. But you came up with that judgement all on your own! But I'll crumble when it's an issue over something that I'm not good at, as if I was expected to fail, and did.

I'd prefer to stay as objective as possible, which I suppose is kind of an oxymoron as I'm simultaneously typing how I also take things personally. I don't quite know how to explain that one. See, the only big issue I have with the article is that it didn't cover the other end of the spectrum, such as the fact that I'm sure men face the same pressures when entering fields that were traditionally held by women. However, given the headline of the magazine, it seems that would be out of the scope. Well, a future issue, maybe?

I'm ten years older now, and ready to battle my demons. But this logic also holds true; I'm ten years older emotionally, also. If I went back to school for C programming, I would not be so quick to be bullied out of my first love, nor would I hesitate to stop the class if I did not understand. Nobody but me is responsible for my actions and decisions.

Of course, as far as this guy is concerned, apparently I'm lucky I can figure out how to tie my shoes every morning...

For clarification, "this guy" is NOT Stan. I'm talking about the other commenter that kept making me feel like I had gotten a big slap in the face every time he posted. But I guess that comes with the territory of having a blog, eh? I'll take the bad with the good any day.


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