January 13, 2006

Taking Notes podcast, and working too hard. posted by Jess

An episode of the Taking Notes podcasts with Bruce and Julian has our overseas Mini-driving Notes guy Bill Buchan talking about large-scale Notes deployments. Good stuff!

And, it also has a one-minute blurb from me talking about End User Power Tools. I've already gotten great feedback from people who have been looking for a mailing label solution. One suggestion was to add a feature to be able to save templates and configurations.

I've been hard at work practicing my Lotusphere presentation, and frantically getting ready for big changes with Solace. In fact, with all these "goings on", I'm fighting a nasty cold. Gotta be healthy for Lotusphere, so I can come home with the REAL illness. Actually, I just don't want to be blamed as the one to start it this year (cough Duffbert cough).

Matt has access to my iNotes web calendar, I showed him how so he'd always have a way to find out where I am (since I visit other people, this is a safety thing). Of course, I also gave him rights to ADD to my calendar. Forgetting I also sync with my PDA, it was kind of hard not to take the hint when the other day, my PDA alarm went off with the following appointment that I mysteriously don't remember setting:

5:45PM - Relax!
Location: Couch

He's too good to me.

December 23, 2005

Google Video (beta) posted by Jess

This is fantastic! Google Video Search (beta) works just like Google Image search, and web search, except it finds video (duh).

The great thing is that it loads in it's own player right when you click on the link, telling you where the source is. Again, just like Google Image.

December 19, 2005

Found another use for my Axim handheld - a TV remote posted by Jess

Awhile back, I bought myself a Dell Axim X50v handheld.

I've been thrilled with it, and still use it on a daily basis. It plays music, goes wireless anywhere to get my Lotus Notes mail, and helps me do all sorts of things.

I found another use for it two days ago when Matt and I lost our remote to the DVD player. I think we threw it out, or the ferrets took it. It's just gone. And our house isn't that big. Now, we can use basic functions like Stop and Play from the cable remote. But, we can't get into settings like 5.1 surround or DTS, or special features, etc. Most importantly, we can't play AtmosFEAR. Something had to be done!

Enter my handheld to the rescue. All it took was PDAWin's TV Remote Controller program, and a quick search on Remote Central for my device file, this case a Pioneer DV525.

Problem solved. Now it's time to teach the program all my other remotes BEFORE they get lost. It's just a matter of time...


November 02, 2005

Book Review - Computer Privacy Annoyances posted by Jess

Computer Privacy Annoyances

By Dan Tynan
ISBN 0596007752

As someone who gets asked questions about Internet use and safety all the time, a book I had been itching to read was "Computer Privacy Annoyances", by Dan Tynan. According to the cover, the book covers "How to avoid the most annoying invasions of your personal and online privacy."

The quick and dirty? The book gives very practical, real-world examples of how your data can be used, yet the author manages to avoid sounding like a doomsayer... even some of the more scary scenarios don't come off sounding like sensationalism, just honest (and sometimes even apologetic) examples of what could very realistically happen. (I thank you, Mr. Tynan.)

I'll take bets on anyone that doesnít learn at least ten new things they didn't know about their privacy rights. Mr. Tynan has taken the proverbial "They" and reduced it to the very organizations that "they" really are. Did you know you can request a copy of your FBI files? Do you know who has the power view it? Do you know who is collecting data on you at this very moment and what they are doing with it?

The book's format allows for a surprisingly fast read. Well organized sections such as privacy at home, on the Internet, in public, at work, and even on a federal level allow for quick chapter absorption. In each chapter, the author states the annoyance, and then the fix. This allows for quick skipping over an 'annoyance' that might not annoy you that much.

I did notice that the author made no mention of the everyday information users give out about themselves without even realizing it, such as usernames that contain birthdates and such. But the Internet privacy chapter is only a small portion of the topics covered in this book. In fact, if I had to find one fault with this book, however, I'd say they lost a much larger audience that could have easily benefited from the book by calling it *Computer* Privacy Annoyances.

As a tech professional, if I could get all my clients, users, friends, family and complete strangers to read this book, I strongly believe identify theft could become a thing of the past. And it might even reduce global blood pressure, too. Bonus!

July 12, 2005

A mobile office: Think of the solution, not the problem. posted by Jess

Me and Matt's favorite book series is the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind.

In it, the eccentric Zedd constantly admonishes his neighbor, Richard, to "think of the solution, not the problem" when solving issues.

I've been having a hard time keeping up with my business contacts and such during the day, mostly because I'm on the road so much and away from my computer. I have my Nextel, and I get my Lotus Notes email and calendar on it, but it's a bit kludgy.

So, I figured I needed a more streamlined way to get to my calendar so I can make appointments on the road. It's difficult to return calls, only to say "I'll call you when I'm back in the office to set something up". Then I still have to call home to leave a voice mail message to call my client back when I get home. Now THAT'S kludgy.

I looked into various smartphones, my favorite being the Treo 650, and seriously considered switching to Cingular or some service that supported it (the Treo 650 doesn't run on the IDEN network).

Finally one day, I must have had my V8 that morning, because it hit me: I was going about this all wrong.

How can I make appointments with a calendar that resides on the phone if I'm ON the phone?

I was too busy thinking about the problem, not the solution. The solution? I needed two seperate devices, and there's nothing I can do about it. That's really OK, I just need to be able to work the way I want and have to work.

I researched, and I went to ZDNet and CNet.com and all those great tech review sites. Their pick for one of the top handhelds was the Dell Axim X30.

Upon going to Dell's site, they had since come out with the Axim X50v, which is among the first handhelds to have a VGA display.

That and a fantastic sale from Dell led me to purchase my device, complete with a 1G secure digital card.

Well, I've had it since Wednesday, and I can't believe it took me this long to get here. The display is beautiful. Truly gorgeous. The Axim X50v has built-in 802.11b wireless, so no cables needed to sync, and I can hop on any wireless network and surf and do anything online. It comes with Windows Mobile 2003. It also comes with Windows Media Player 10, so I can use it in the car as an MP3 player.

But, the really cool bit is that thanks to visiting our friend Rob at dominounplugged.com and hearing Susan's recommendation during her Admin2005 calendaring session, I got Commontime's mNotes to sync my Lotus Notes mail, calendar, contacts and tasks.

In fact, to my delight, not only does it sync mail, but when I replicate to my Axim, I get the lovely unread count next to the folder structure. It's true. Sometimes it's the little things that makes you really, really happy.

I've already been more productive in a few ways. I can return all voice mails and set appointments easily in between appointments. But I can also relax and breathe easier now that I'm streamlined.

Here's to taking my business to a whole new level.



May 31, 2005

Teaching children to use the Internet posted by Jess

I meant to write about this awhile ago, but for some reason it kept getting pushed back. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to teach children in grades 3-5 as part of an after-school program in my community.

The course was 6 weeks long, with just one hour a week, and I titled it "Surfing the Internet". My main goal, and this was included in the class description, was to teach children how to safely have fun on the Internet. This included learning email, fun sites to visit, how to use a browser, and safety.

I decided I really wanted to go in with an effective curriculum, as a teacher had pointed out to me that someone had tried this with the children previously, and it was nothing short of a disaster. The only way to do this effectively seemed like building on each lesson as the weeks progressed.

The class was such a huge success that the children were sad to see it end, and the teacher told me that I had done a great job and she had never seen it done so methodically. Most importantly, by the end of the class, those kids were nothing short of savvy. They understood what an ad banner was. They understood why they weren't allowed to click on a pop-up. They asked permission before signing up for something, and they certainly didn't use their real name when putting in their high-score on a game site. They sent me e-cards saying goodbye at the end of the class.

In case someone can benefit from this, here is my curriculum of the first three weeks (the foundation skills) and the tools I used.

1. Email accounts for the students. I chose "safe2read.com". For one low price per year, Safe2read allows one primary master account. After that, you can add up to 10 email accounts and monitor all incoming and outgoing email. You can also safely add allowed emails. So I set up 10 generic accounts such as "[email protected]", "school2", "school3", etc. Generic names allows for no compromise of the student's privacy. I also set all these accounts so the students could email each other without approval needed.

2. Letter to parents.
The first week, the students were sent home with a letter explaining the curriculum, and the generic email accounts. They were also assured that the child's privacy and security would not be compromised by the email account, and were reassured the accounts would be deleted once the class was over.

WEEK 1 - Learn to browse, and what's the Internet, anyway?
A foundation in knowing what the Internet really is becomes crucial to the students learning to respect it. Children were given rope, and each child had a worksheet. Half the sheets were about frogs, the other half were about kangaroos. Each child was told they were a page on the Internet. All the frogs then joined ropes with each other, and were told they became a web site, and were now a great site to learn about frogs! The kangaroos did the same. One child from the frogs then joined a rope to one child from the kangaroos, "linking" their sites to each other. Now, anyone could first learn about frogs, then click the link to go on to the site about kangaroos via those two linked children.

After this, students were then sat at their computers and shown an excellent site to learn navigation - www.disneychannel.com. The site is busy, yet there is lots to click on, drag, highlight, etc. And, to get there, the students have to type in the URL in the address bar.

WEEK 2 - Internet Safety
It must be said that for this week, I was better prepared to learn how to say "hands off the keyboard and mouse and eyes should be looking at me!" This also becomes crucial for the next lession, especially now that the students know how to find the Disney Channel online. :-)

Out of all weeks taught, this was the most important. It's equivalent to showing a child a circus across the street, but not teaching them to look both ways before crossing first.

The children were sent to NetSmartzKids.org, a wonderful site to teach children all about safety. The site has six 1-3 minute animated films for the children to watch. Watching them in order is crucial. The children watched them all in row together.


They involve humorous personification of all the dangers of the Internet called "Wizzywigs", such as characters like the Numbut, who spends too much time on the computer and not enough time playing outside. The Spamazoid sends the same email to everyone on their email list all the time. Then there is Follow-You-Fiona, who likes to listen to what you say, and loves it when you tell her too much information.

There's also games such as "Who Is Your Friend on the Internet?" These games had the kids laughing AND learning.

Once the movies were over, I handed out a printout of a sample online profile of a child. We went over all the bits of personal information in there and the children told me which bits were OK to have in there, and which were stating too much information. They even picked up on the subtle clues in the profile, such as stating the first name of the child's dad in a classified ad. Between that and knowing the last name of the child, the students correctly figured out that someone could put two-and-two together and could call information based on the father's full name.

After the safety lesson, we moved on to banner-ads and more privacy lessons. I explained how toy stores have fun toys spread out for kids to play with to keep them in the store. I then explained how websites contained fun games, but many of them, like toy stores, were trying to sell something at the same time. Most websites have a primary focus, and the first step is to discover what that focus is. Lastly, I explained how banner-ads were usually rectangular, but were almost always animated and were definately trying to sell something.

We went back to the kids' favorite site, disneychannel.com. I asked the kids to tell me the primary function of this site. Without hesitation, they all answered "to tell us what shows are on the Disney channel!" They were then able to correctly point out all the ad-banners on the site.

WEEK 3 - Email
This week each child was given their "school" email account and shown how to log in. Before the class, I sent each child about 5 different emails, with a task to do in each email.

The tasks consisted of "Send me a reply to this email! To do that, hold your mouse button over each icon until you see the one that says "Reply", and then send me a message!"

More tasks, such as "forward this email", "delete this email", "send a brand new email to the person sitting to your left", etc. taught each aspect of emailing in a manageable format. Children didn't move on to the next email until they had completed the task.

At this point, classes became easy as I could simply group email the children what sites I wanted them to go to and their assignments.

The last step of this class was about FUN! This should always be the most important element of each class, and should *never* be forgotten. Always end each class with some element of fun if possible.

The children were sent a link to Hallmark's free E-Cards. They could take their time and go through and pick out a card, and send it to someone in the class, or myself. Once they found a card they liked (Hoops and Yoyo were *really* popular!), I showed them how to fill out the bit (safely) to send it to someone in the class.

Now that you have established a strong Internet foundation, the rest is up to you. We did scavenger hunts online through Yahooligans!, using the Internet as a reference tool, and more. Ask Jeeves for Kids is excellent. Give each child a "why" question (why is the sky blue? Why do we sleep?), or have them come up with one on their own and find the answer.

Happy teaching!

May 24, 2005

Back from Boston! posted by Jess

Back from Admin2005, and relaxing. And of course, catching up with the piles of voice mails and email!
Here's the quick and dirty rundown:

1. I had a wonderful time hanging out with everyone, and this time, Matt was with me, so it was even better. I got to find all my "usual suspects" and meet some new people. Matt will definately be at Lotusphere with me next year.

2. Everyone be sure to say Happy Birthday to Susan Bulloch on Wednesday! Susan was wonderful and even made sure to be up with bells on to support me at my Friday 8:30AM session. Thank you Susan, you rock!

3. Admin2005 was fun! Although, I was really nervous this year, and I think it was because I did three sessions versus the one I did last year. However, I was really happy with the take-home code (including displaying code elements such as field names, form names, agent names, view names, and view column titles from databases whose design is hidden. Also a plug-in local database that will allow any user to design and print out mailing labels from ANY database that has contact information, with no changing the design and no needing to pre-configure the label).

4. Saw Revenge of the Sith. I personally loved it. To me, I could have skipped the first two movies entirely, and went right to this one. This had the feel of the original three movies we know, love, and hold so dear to our hearts. Bad acting, even worse dialog, campy humor, a personality-filled spunky R2D2, lots of wookies, answers to questions, a really REALLY cool Vader moment when his mask gets put on for the first time, and a nice scene on Tatooine with the original score from the 80's.

It definately it not for kids, however, be gentle when you tell them they can't go. As my parents pointed out, it's gotta be hard to be a kid now, especially when Burger King is making Happy Meal toys for a movie they aren't allowed to see.

March 11, 2005

The power of macros posted by Matt

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. Thatís 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

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)
#define START_TIMER(x)
#define END_TIMER(x)

Here is an example of its use

... // do normal everyday stuff

This basically expands to

DWORD timeUntilNextBlogBegin = ::GetTickCount();
CString timeUntilNextBlogBeginEnd(ďtimeUntilNextBlogĒ);
TRACE(_T(ďTimer %s StartedÖ\nĒ), timeUntilNextBlogBeginEnd);

Ö // do normal everday stuff

DWORD timeUntilNextBlogEnd = ::GetTickCount();
TRACE(_T(ďTimer %s finished in %f seconds\nĒ), timeUntilNextBlogBeginEnd, ((timeUntilNextBlogEnd) Ė (timeUntilNextBlogBegin))/1000.0);

And the output would be

Timer timeUntilNextBlog startedÖ
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 05, 2005

TIME Magazine - The Math Myth posted by Jess

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.

February 02, 2005

Movie Scores posted by Jess

While I (and everyone else) recovers from what Volker named Morbus Lotuspheris, I've been trying to take it easy and stay on the couch as much as I can. This consists of watching movies in the background while I try not to stress over how far behind I am having been away all last week.

I have an extensive collection of movie soundtracks, and probably over half of them are the scores themselves. I do read and enjoy fiction, but I tend to have a problem overlooking certain things. This causes a problem in that with a novel, even missing one key word, adjective or phrase can change everything (sarcastically, sadly, gleefully, etc.). So when it comes to movies, I think this is why I'm particularly sensitive to noticing the background instrumental scores themselves, and what they actually add to the overall tone of the movie.

Take the sound clip linked below, for example. This is by Thomas Newman, and it's called Possibility, from the soundtrack of the movie Pay It Forward.

The title is so appropriate, upon listening to it, it almost makes you feel like you could do anything. But what I find most interesting about this track (aside from the fact that I love piano with agressive, disjointed chord changes) is that it also invokes a sense of mischief also. I can't listen to this an NOT think of the scene in Real Genius when the gang is plotting to take apart Kent's car and rebuild it in his room.

What does this clip say to you?

"Why, I could do anything!"
"Let's go do some Van Dammage."
"Jess really needs to get out more."

Anything else?


Click the icon to listen. (MP3 410k, 26 seconds)

(ps. If the clip sounds familiar, it should. It's so striking that it's been used in many movie trailers, also trying to set a similar tone. It is also remarkeably similar to that of the American Beauty score, also by Thomas Newman.)

January 31, 2005

Lotusphere - The Sessions posted by Jess

- I went to the Advanced Web Development Techniques session by Scott Good, and I canít WAIT to go home and start playing around. This was the perfect session for those (such as myself) who needed a good place to start learning how to get going in webifying a Notes app (at least to a point where youíd not be embarrassed by the way it looks to put it live), but didnít really know how to start.

- I also went to Bill Buchan's Best Practices using Object Oriented Lotuscript, and again, I canít wait to change some of my existing code around. It definitely will be hard to see these skills from all the sessions (web, Java, Lotuscript) duking it out which one I play with first when I get home. Oh, and what a great speaker! Entertaining and engaging. Aside from being a lot of fun, when the sessions are fun, it makes it so much easier for what you are learning to actually sink in. This is another reason why I remembered everything from Joe and Duffbert's Java session also.

- I was bummed out about the Developing Applications Using the C API Toolkit session, which had a really misleading title, and I let them know in the evaluation. This is was the session that I was the most excited about going in. However, it should have been called "What's new in R7 in the C API Toolkit." Basically the entire session was the speaker reading out loud the new functions, and what they did. But the speaker, Judy Ash, was just so genuinely exited to be there, and dearly loved her toolkit, so I thought it was worth it just to see that. It made me happy to see her happy. But I'm usually happy all the time anyway, so I'm not sure what thatís telling youÖ

- I did have a bit of a laugh with myself, there were definitely two types of languages of people speaking to each other over the course of the week. I heard words like momentum, clarity, decisiveness, strategy, value, etc. And then I'd hear the person on my left talking and I'd hear words like release date, upgrade, platform, SPR, standards, etc. Maybe this is why I have so much trouble understanding how things fit together, because I have to lean a little towards both sides to do my job, and yet there is a very obvious language barrier.

- Alan Bell made a great point in the Ask the Developers session to plead to please allow us to exclude databases from debugging. The example he gave was when he had code that involves the mail file, but when the debugger is on, he doesnít want to debug the mail file! His line, which I (and Lotus) loved: "My code doesn't work. The mail file works. I don't want to debug the mail file!"

- The Birds of a Feather Blogging session was great. Everyone in one room talking about why they blog, what they get out of reading blogs, and helping new bloggers get started. Even Chris Toohey (aka Domino Procrastinator) and Derik managed to skip away from the Product Showcase for a bit to attend. I do wish it was a bit longer, though. In a discussion-like setting, it's easy for things to run long, and it was really engaging.

- I also wished I had enough sense to ask for a group picture of all of us that attended the Blogger BOF. I can see it now, the long black-and-white shot of us all standing there, similar to those nostalgia pictures you see of baseball teams while "this used to be my playground" softly plays in the background. Maybe we could have put a little flash thing together with that, and next year send it to the Radicati Group, with a big "NOT!" at the end of it. But, at the end of the closing session, Greyhawk did manage to get a nice group shot, which is posted in the Lotusphere 2005 Flickr site.

- The closing session had a "Disney moment". After the revelation of the "Here's Pluto" anagram from John Cleese, it was announced that in the spirit of Lotusphere, here's Pluto! And up on stage he walked. Richard Schwartz posted about who was secretly wondering if Ambuj was going to pop out of the Pluto suit. I recall hearing a few comments like that myself. I think Disney has this policy about never allowing the line to be crossed between people and the charactersÖ something about permanently scarring children for life, I think.

- I definitely would have liked to have seen some more info for us smaller shops, ie. "Other Alternatives When You Don't Have a $70k Budget For Websphere". I understand there is something called Services Express thatís targeted for small business, but that's about all I heard of it. Nothing concrete, no "here's how you buy it", "here's how much it costs", and "here's what you can't do if you don't get the regular version". I did speak up about it on the evaluation, but I will take responsibility and say that it might have been discussed in detail in a session that I didn't go to. If anyone has any further iformation, or can at least point me to a link, I would appreciate it very much.

- It was definitely tough trying to get to everything I wanted to get to. I was equally as interested in the Business Development sessions, the Administration sessions AND the App Dev sessions. In the end, I forced myself to stick to my policy of choosing the session that I had the biggest weakness in, and it seemed to work out. At least I have the slides, which I'm downloading now.

- I would have liked to evaluate the evaluation form, actually. Some of the questions should have allowed for multiple selections (ie. Are you an admin or a developer? Choose ONE. Sorry, can't do that). Also, they allowed room to free-text comment on all the sessions and product showcase questions, but no comments on the Birds-of-a-feather, of which I wanted to write that they should have been longer.

- The Product Showcase was great, except on the evaluations I also wrote that it was a little confusing (regardless of the fact that I'm well aware that sometimes I live in a solid state of confusion), as I did not realize quickly that each side of the pedestal had *different* vendors on each side. So I realized I had missed quite a bit of vendors and had to start all over again, walking up and down each isle twice, each time facing a different way. And what was up with Gayle not being nominated as one of the best booth babes on the Gonzo Lotusphere site, if I say so myself? I demand a recount!

- I finally understand. For years, it always seemed like everyone was so *informed* about things like release dates, what's in new versions, what was fixed, how products work, etc., and I never knew how everyone seemed to know all this. Now I do. You have to be at Lotusphere. I feel so much better about the year to come now. I still can't believe I missed it all these years.

January 30, 2005

Quick post - This site finally renders in Firefox posted by Jess

Finally! I'm so excited to be using Mozilla Firefox (it's SO fast!), and then nearly fainted when I saw how my site looked with it.

It wasn't as bad as I thought, it was just that my CSS stylesheet was being ignored. A quick Google search led to the solution, which will fix your site if you run on Unix Shared/Apache.

In your .htaccess in the root of your site, just add this:

AddType text/css .css

Whew! Oh, and while I'm at it, I'm getting rid of the "comments must be approved" bit. Now that I have another plug-in to close off the comments completely after one month (because no one but spammers adds
comments later anyway), the spam situation is manageable now, in fact just about gone.

January 29, 2005

Lotusphere - The Pictures posted by Jess

I've posted all my pictures with the Flickr Group Lotusphere 2005 pool... you don't have to sign up for Flickr to be able to view them.

See everyone's pics! Currently 196+ including mine and counting...

Click here to see my pics only... Currently 18.

January 28, 2005

Lotusphere - The Silliness posted by Jess

I have a whole bunch of stuff written up on the sessions, but first - the silliness!

- First of all, it must be mentioned that Matt is the best. I had a beautiful bouquet of flowers waiting for me in the car at the airport.

- Wednesday night was the Lotusphere party at Universal Islands of Adventure. While I was putting my cell phone in my pocket to get on Dueling Dragons, I accidentally called Bruce's cell phone. Nextel has this "feature" where if you hit the top button, it calls the last number you dialed on speakerphone. I didn't know I had hit the button. We're in the front row, sitting down to begin the ride, and Bruce says, "who's calling me now?" Once we got off the ride, he checked his phone. "Jess Stratton?" As I was right next to him, and sort of surprised at this point, I took my phone out of my pocket. It said I still had a connection with Bruce! He had put my call into voice mail, and it recorded (muffled) the entire ride! So funny. Oh, by the way, it's not Dueling Dragons, we all sort of decided that "Julian's Dragons" has a much nicer ring to it.

- After awhile, I realized how much I was geeking out telling everyone about the engineering feats of the park, such as the coaster technology and the fact that NASA's Jet Propulsion department designed the launch sequence for The Hulk. Which has it's own generator, by the way, lest it takes out power in the entire city of Orlando. The ride doesn't need its own generator. Just the launch. So if you ever need a guided tour of the park, I'm your girl. However, ss much fun as I had with the gang, Matt, it was really hard being there without you, and a little surreal, in fact.

- I had many enjoyable nights at Kimono's, and got up and sung karaoke, man that's fun (and addicting). I sung my favorites, Jefferson Airplane - Somebody to Love, Heart Ė Magic Man, Nelly Furtado Ė Turn Off the Lights. Youíll get no ballads from me, I much prefer singing loud, aggressive songs I can rock out to. Oh yeah, Evanescence - Bring Me To Life with Greyhawk! Although, they didn't have his words, so he had to wing it. We had fun, though. I hope someone got some pics of us up there together. If you have one, please send it to me.

- Tuesday I went on Mission Space at Epcot for the Salesplace "launch" party. Yes, Andrew, I didnít believe you that they had barf bags in the cockpit of the ride, but you were right. I have a cast-iron stomach, and it was almost a little wild for me. The attendant had said that no matter how you queasy you feel, keep your eyes open and facing forward, otherwise it will just get worse. I'm glad she said that. Didnít stop us from going on again, though! Everyone else went to go get drinks, and the group I was with (Devin, Alan, Greyhawk, Andrew and Efa) decided to do it again. We went after dinner, and nothing was funnier than Devin Olson in the middle of the line for the ride yelling, "Okay everyone, listen up. I just want you all to know that I just had meatloaf and dessert, followed by a pint of Guinness."

- At the conference, some people were mentioning again about the hastiness of the crew to pull the coffee away quickly, sometimes in mid-stir. It should be available all the time. After all, wasn't the whole focus of Lotusphere? On-Demand? Doesn't that include Java? Har... sorry. But c'mon, that was a gimme!

- Steven Wright at the closing session! Bruce, Gayle and I got a great picture with him. I'll post it... And I've talked to several people who also ran into him, and they agreed with me. His face genuinely lit up when we told him how much we enjoyed the show. We told him how great the surprise was when they introduced him, and he said, almost incredulously, "You mean you didn't know I was going to be there until that moment that I came up on stage?" We said nope, and it was a great surprise. His eyes lit up.

- There's something about this week. As the Disney staff says at the end of every phone call, "Have a magical dayÖ." Well, this place IS magic, at least for me. For one week I got to be around people who love Lotus, administration, development, and obscure geek movie quotes as much as I do. It just doesn't get any better than this. A week among kindred spirits. This would explain why I'm running on steam right now. From 7AM till about 1:30AM every day, it was go, go, go. And I loved every second of it. Thanks guys. See you next year, that's for sure.

January 25, 2005

Lotusphere - Holy Cow! posted by Jess

Wow! I finally get a chance to catch up. First off, Matt, I miss you and people here are asking about you. I'm getting a tad homesick, but that's what happens when the longest you've ever been away from your loved one is when they take off for Japan for two weeks. And I've never been away from Reboot by myself (and we spend all week together, her and I), who apparently is having difficulty coping alsoÖ Matt reports she's not eating. Though he threw some edamame into her dish and she ate some, so apparently treats DO overcome missing me. There's a surprise. Not!

I've met so many people and have had such a great time so far. I finally get a chance to put "faces to URLs", and scored my first CULT shirt ever.

There's really nothing I could say that no one else in the blogsphere has already said better, so hereís some quick highlights of my week thus far:

1. John Cleese was the guest speaker at the Opening Session, and in addition to being incredibly funny and a truly wonderful speaker, he also made this great point: He could find no more fitting place for Lotusphere than Disney, because the best anagram for "Lotusphere" is "Here's Pluto". He's one of the few people who could remain totally classy while insulting everyone, and STILL manage to elegantly and eloquently tie-in the overall themes of Lotusphere.

2. Lotus people are a really fun bunch of people with really great hearts. But we knew that.

3. I finally get it! IBM Workplace is not a tangible product, it's a concept! Oh wait, there's a Workplace client. Wait a sec, there's also Lotus Workplace?!

4. After the opening session, I donít care if I still don't know the difference between IBM Workplace Technology and Lotus Workplace Client. I think the drag and drop content is the coolest thing I've ever seen.

5. While I've been to great sessions, the ones I wanted to go to the most didn't happen. Rob Novak was giving some awesome sessions on business development, including how to get press attention, and how to write proposals. Turns out that these were only for Business Partners. In addition, Matt's been telling me for years to figure out the C API in Notes so he can start teaching me some REALLY cool stuff. Finally, thereís a session on it. However, it's postponed until Wednesday when the speaker can get down here. I can't be selfish and complain too much, I can only imagine how he's feeling right now.

6. Rob was kind enough to explain to me that there is no cost to become a Business Partner. I tried signing up when I first went into business, and somehow ended up getting the impression that it was $1300/year to be a business partner. Not so. Seeing as it took me coming to LS to learn this, technically the first year DID cost me that much, but it was worth it. I know what Iím doing when I get home. Sign me up! I also met some great folks at the Penumbra Group, I'll be looking into that when I get home also.

7. I was really, REALLY overwhelmed with Lotusphere until I saw how easy it was to get around by following the Pocket Agenda Lotus gives us in our badges. Ahhhhhhhh. Breathe.

8. I saw Maureen Leland's session on the Workplace Designer. All I have to say is that she's endearingly sweet. And please oh please oh please oh please put some of those features in the Domino Designer!

9. Joe and Duffbert'ssession on Java for the Lotuscript person was great, along with some unintentional phallic moments in the demo. Iíll let him explain that one. The two have a great speaking dynamic, and were fun to watch. Most importantly, they explained it all in a way that was easy to understand. Iím excited to go home and try to do some tasks in Java rather than LotusScript to see what happens. I sat in the front row, along with Greyhawk68, who said "Nice shirt!" Turns out we were both wearing our "I'm blogging this" t-shirts. I knew I was in great company!

10. It's tough to make it to all the sessions I want to go to. When there are multiple sessions I want to go to in the same time slot and no repeats for any of them, it becomes a matter of deciding which one is going to benefit me the most immediately? It became easy to choose once I made a personal policy that I'd go to the session that would help my biggest weakness.

That's it for now, I'm sure I'll have more later!

January 12, 2005

Netflix "Friends" posted by Jess

Netflix (online DVD rental) now has a great feature: friends. (No, you cannot rent friends online. You'd only be able to have three at a time regardless of the fact that you can keep them for as long as you want, and they might get mad if you gave them a low rating. )

You can add your friend's email addresses to your "friends" list, and you can click a button to send them a recommendation. On their side, they'll get sent an email, and can click to add it to their queue.

We've been doing it the hard way all this time. This consists of sending emails, "you gotta add this to your queue!". And then after deleting the email, promptly forgetting the title. And sending another email asking what it was again... And by that time, the original person couldn't remember what movie they were trying to recommend in the first place, so they get "recommendation anxiety" and pop out the first movie that comes into their minds, so the other person is sitting there one night wondering, "why the hell am I watching The Natural History of the Chicken?"

December 30, 2004

Apple Pi posted by Jess

Notwithstanding the fact that I can't even do basic addition to save my life, math has always been a passion of mine. Though my lack of understanding may be the enticement, however, as I love a good enigma.

Mathematical algorithms are behind every aspect of life and nature, from being able to calculate the largest package that will fit in your mailbox, right down to the reduction of a recipe from four to two people instead.

I have just stumbled upon one answer of which the question had been driving me nuts for ages:

Which came first Ė the mathematical principles themselves, or our counting system, in which 1+1=2, which enables all the mathematical principles to actually work?

The answer I found here, in a paper called The Magnificent Perfect Square, by Roger Logan:

'Over the centuries, mathematicians have expanded the number system four times. Each new expansion was required because the then existing number system was not sufficient to solve certain problems.'

So it would seem the first problem is that my original question was not correct at allÖ 1+1=2 is not complex enough to enable all the principles to work in the first place.

Apparently, mathematics has four number systems in addition to the natural system (1, 2, 3, 4 etc.):

1. Integers (the natural system, but expanded to include 0 and -1, -2, -3 etc.)

The introduction of integers allowed many more algebraic equations to be solved, which would have been impossible to solve previously.

2. Rational (the introduction of fractions)

3. Real (which accounts for infinite decimal point ability)

4. Complex (an ordered pair of real numbers, imaginary)

I was a little disappointed in this learningÖ my first thought was almost a letdown, that maybe the natural system I love so much wasnít so natural after all. But then I read this paragraph in the same paper:

'The age old question is, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" This simplistic summary regarding the expansion of the number system makes it appear that the mathematicians' main concern was to expand the number system so as to solve the then current number problems. However, solving the number problems is what caused the creation, discovery or invention of new numbers, thereby forcing the expansion.'

After my reading, I now have a new question.

Are the expansions considered a discovery, or an invention? And would the answer be fact, or a debatable opinion?

If I tally the facts, I'm sure I'm oversimplifying everything. But I warned you I couldn't do basic addition to save my life.

November 11, 2004

Matt's name in the credits of Game Boy Advance - The Incredibles posted by Jess

Matt's C++ Unicode page on this site gets a good number of hits, mostly from Google searches, and also Unicode.org's "Resources" links to us here.

About six months ago, Matt got an email from somebody who needed help with some code. Matt worked with him for awhile, and the problem was solved. The very next day, Matt got an email saying that the gentleman had been stuck on that doozy for awhile, thank you very much, you're a lifesaver, oh, and by the way, it's for The Incredibles for GameBoy Advance and your name is going to be in the credits.


This was months and months ago, and we have been eagerly awaiting the game, which is now available along with the movie. Sure enough, in a "Helixe Special Thanks" section, all by himself, there's my Matt!

So thanks Jeff, you were true to your word. And congrats Matt, I'm proud of you!



September 28, 2004

Fun with Remote Assistance posted by Jess

So, it only took me about 50 million trial-and-errors, but finally I got Remote Assistance via email to work successfully between two WinXP users who are both behind routers/firewalls.

Just in case anyone needs it (because once you can get it working, it's REALLY neat, mind-bogglingly useful, and surprisingly fast), here are the required steps.

1. Fat-fingering of some sort occurs.*

*: Now, this isn't *totally* required, of course. You may be the type of person that just enjoys having people come and play with your computer, but for the most part, usually some sort of breakage happens before someone else feels the need to come in and fix it for you.

2. The end-user MUST make sure the following two buttons have check marks next to them:
Right-click My Computer and scroll to Properties.
Click the Remote tab.
Make sure "Allow Remote Assistance Invitations to be sent from this computer" is checked.
Click Advanced.
Make sure "Allow this computer to be controlled remotely" is checked.

3. The end user, if using a router, must set up port forwarding.
The end user must log into their router's web-based administration panel* and enable Port forwarding for the Remote Assistance request:

Port 3389 should be routed to the internal IP address of the end users system, ie. 192.168.x.x.
The end user can perform the following steps to find out what their internal IP address is if they don't know:
Go to Start->Run
At the command prompt, type cmd.
Type ipconfig and hit enter.
Write down what is written on the IP Address line.

*: most router models have online instructions on their respective manufacturer's website as how to login via browser and find the Port Fowarding section. I mean, who keeps instruction manuals after the initial setup? Okay, guilty as charged. But it's still quicker to go online and get it anyway.

4. The end-user must send a Remote Assistance invitation via email.
Go to Start->Help and Support.
Click on Remote Assistance.
Click Invite someone to help you.
Type the Invitee's email address, and click Invite this person.
Send a message if necessary* and click Continue.
Enter a password if necessary, and communicate that password with the invitee.
Click Send Invitation.
The email will pop open in the default email program (such as Lotus Notes), and the end user still needs to hit the Send button.

*: Since you are, in fact, asking someone to help you, it might be nice to take this time to ask them how they are? If they've read any good books lately? Have they done anything fun lately? If they are the geek type like I am, the answer will most likely still be no, but hey, it was nice that someone thought to ask anyway.

5. The Invitee gets the external IP address/hostname from the end-user.
The end user can visit the following sites and easily tell you that information:

6. The Invitee receives the email invitation, and tweaks the contents.
Once the invitee gets the email, save the attachment to the desktop.
Open it with Notepad.
There will be two entries one after another of the end user's internal IP address followed by the port, ie:

<UPLOADDATA USERNAME="Jess" RCTICKET="65538,1,;;D40S4F21:3389,*,etc.

The first entry needs to be changed to the external IP address, and the second entry needs to be changed to the hostname of the end user, leaving you with this:

%LTUPLOADDATA USERNAME="Jess" RCTICKET="65538,1,;my.hostname.isp.com:3389;D40S4F21:3389,*,etc.

7. Save the invitation, and NOW you are ready to click it*.

*If it hasn't expired already from all this preparation.

After that, the Port Forwarding can be disabled/re-enabled as fat-fingering occurs. Or unless you like that sort of thing (see 1).

PS. That site does not belong to me. Don't know what I'm talking about? You'll figure it out eventually.

June 03, 2004

InternetGetConnectedState posted by Jess

One of the neatest things that Matt pointed out to me was that even in Notes, I have the ability to use *any* WinAPI call, provided I include the .dll if it's not already part of my OS. It's just a matter of tweaking the code, parameters and data types so that LotusScript can translate it correctly.

One of the more useful calls I found was InternetGetConnectedState, which simply returns a boolean value if the code executor is online or not. Previously, I had racked my brains to come up with kludgy methods like a ping that outputs the results to a text file, and checking the text file for "reply."

Why would you even want this? The obvious example is to give to a user before clicking button code that requires them to be online, but I found other uses for it, including:

- testing toggling between wired and wireless connections
- including in additional software packages as safeguards before other code will work successfully

To test, simply put this code in a button. Run the code, then unplug yourself and try it again.

I did find that there is a delay in re-plugging in and trying the code. For a few seconds it will still say you are offline. And, on Matt's machine, it didn't work at all. However, I called Matt's machine tainted and called it a day. Experimental workstation, is not the word for it. Mad Scientist playground is more like it. He's got more SDK's, runtime environments, compilers, etc. etc. than I've ever seen. So he doesn't count. :-D

Declare Function InternetGetConnectedState Lib "wininet.dll" (lpdwFlags As Long, Byval dwReserved As Long) As Long

Sub Click(Source As Button)
If InternetGetConnectedState(Clng(0),0&) Then
Msgbox "You passed the Internet connectivity test! You may proceed."
Msgbox "You are not online. Please connect to the Internet and then proceed."
End If
End Sub

After that, it's just a matter of heading over to msdn.microsoft.com and typing in what you want to do in the search box. If it's there, you'll find it.

May 17, 2004

Back from Admin2004 posted by Jess

Back from Boston, and words can't say how floored I am about how it was. The sessions, the people, it was just great.

Ed Brill and I attended Mike Rhodin's keynote together about Lotus Workplace, and it looked great, but I had one question that I forgot to ask Ed. I was happy because I had heard so much about it, but it's hard to visualize through the extensive feature adjective list without actually *seeing* it. I finally got to do that. But here's the question:
one of the focal points was about using push-technology to bring client apps to users. But was that LOTUS client apps, or any client apps? It's a big difference, and one I'm not sure of.

I attended so many great sessions, and had a long time to wait, as I wasn't presenting until Friday.

However, I did my session, Best Practices for Maintaining a User's Environment, and it went great, considering it was my first time presenting. Well, the microphone fell, which was embarrassing, but I just said "uh-oh, mike down!" and everyone laughed, and then it was back to normal.

But, the demo's went great. I had set my laptop up for Domino with Virtual PC, and then just to be safe, I linked it to the Notes client via the Microsoft Loopback Adapter.

The good news is that all my demo take-home materials ended up on the CD after all. Due to some FTP issues, I was told originally that my stuff didn't make it on time, and so I had to put them up for download on my website. However, I double checked, and there they were.

However, I haven't taken them off my site yet, so you can see what I had for take home here.

Once I was done presenting, I had already gone to so many sessions during the week, and the stress of presenting myself did me in... I was so tired, by late Friday we left on our way home. I had wanted to stay Friday night and hang out, but by that time, my brain was a big mushy mess (sure sign of a great conference!).

My session got great reviews, and I even got an email from an attendee that enjoyed it, so hopefully they have me back next year.

Huge thanks to Susan Bulloch and Kathleen McGivney, who sat right in the front row for support. It was more appreciated than they'll ever know, really!!

Time to go through the rest of the presentations I wanted to go to but didn't get a chance to...

April 27, 2004

Help is just an IM and a forum away... posted by Jess

So here I was. Tired from being up until the wee hours of the morning working on the error message. Matt had been up until the wee hours of the morning with me, working on the error message. And he's not even a Lotus guy! He's just good like that.

I was really, really sick and tired of the error message.

My blood pressure was really, really rising because of the error message.

My deadline had come and gone, but there was that error message.

What was it? "Attempt to execute nested events" when I clicked a button. Now I know that this is usually caused by calling doc.Save in the QuerySave event, or something similar, such as calling uidoc.Refresh in PostRecalc. I had none of these (or so I thought).

Here was my button code:
Dim ws As New NotesUIWorkspace
Set uidoc = ws.currentdocument
uidoc.EditMode = True
Call uidoc.FieldSetText("SetFlag", "1")
Call uidoc.Refresh
uidoc.EditMode = False

The error occurred between the following lines:
uidoc.EditMode = True
Call uidoc.FieldSetText("SetFlag", "1")

I also had the following PostRecalc code:
If source.Document.SetFlag(0) = "1" Then
Call RunMe
End If

I figured it was a timing issue as the error went away if I ran it through the debugger. It also went away if I put a 'msgbox "Hi!"' in between also.

I tried everything. I tried putting a sleep command, a Yield, etc. I converted it to use the backend doc instead of uidoc. I saved the doc and had the code run in the QuerySave. No luck.

(the reason for the code being done this way is to run the function RunMe, which was out of scope for the button and there was no way to use an agent. I'm just waiting for someone to ask!)

I got up early after going to bed late working on it. It's very lonely when your code won't work and no one's online in IM. :-) Finally, around 9:30 AM I threw in the white towel and posted on the forum.

All of a sudden, the help rang out. Joe answered my post with a great suggestion (which wasn't the solution, but thanks anyway!). Bruce, being the first online, got the panicky chat alert first. Bruce then kindly put out an All-Points Bulletin for me, and more help started rolling in. Rob McDonagh came up with another fantastic suggestion (that I was in the middle of trying once a fix came in on the forum by John Lanham). In the meantime, Chris Toohey was jumping on the help bandwagon, and even recruited one of his coworkers to drop me a line about it.

What was the problem? It wasn't an entire timing issue, as I thought. It was the Form property "Automatically refresh fields" being checked. So I really *was* attempting to execute nested form field events! Who knew? Apparently John did. I was calling a refresh within a refresh. Or at least a split second before a refresh. Which, apparently, is close enough.

This post has two purposes, the first one is to show the world the painful Gotcha that I was just exposed to (so they don't spend as long on it as I did!), and secondly, to once again point out that Dominoids are the coolest people on earth. :-D

April 10, 2004

Giving my Spam and Virus seminar everywhere I can... posted by Jess

One thing I love doing is giving seminars... it used to be just for fun, but now I have to make a living as a small business owner, so it's sort of a necessity. That, and I have learned that there is nothing wrong with shameless self-promotion to get business. If it came down to keeping my pride or keeping my house, well, you get the idea.

So I came up with a seminar that I've been wanting to do for a long time, and contacted the town recreation department (continuing adult education). Sure enough, I was added to the program.

It was a two-parter - week 1 was two hours on viruses, while week 2 was two hours on everything spam. It was designed to list the topics as common questions, and then I'd answer them. I think I covered it pretty well, usually there was only one question left at the end if at all.

While attendance wasn't as good as I would have liked, it was success, everyone who was there said that it was very, very good. And, they all called needing work on their computers.

So, I've also signed up to do the same at the Adult programs for continuing education in the next town over this summer.

I was also able to give just the Spam seminar at the Providence Business Expo 2004 last Thursday, which was fantastic. The nice thing about it, is that I can pace it to fit whatever time constraints I have. I can go through the entire thing in about 45 minutes, or I can tell andecdotes and spread it for two hours. It's very flexible, and very fun. :-)

But, the main goal is that now some more people are educated and ready to be Internet responsible. That's the MAIN goal. Roomful of people down, world to go.

It's a Powerpoint presentation, so maybe I'll just put it up for download and let Google searchers get it who are trying to do something about the spam they get!

February 20, 2004

Bandwith leeching.. anyone speak German? posted by Jess

Someone at this site is leeching off an image Matt posted on his blog entry of Golden Boy:

The problem is that he is using it as a forum avatar, and is wreaking havoc on my bandwith limitations.

However, not being able to speak German, I can't write to this person and ask him politely to put the image on his own server. I can translate it with AltaVista, but there's no contact information for the guy (at least that I could figure out), and I can't post in the forum.

Cindy, does Nate speak it well enough that he could help me out? :-)

Now I realize that I could just change my image. I've got a great story of such shenanigans, I am just waiting to see if someone can scrape up the last image that was changed. It's just classic, and I can promise that the person will NEVER leech again.

However, I'm sure the user has no idea about images, and web servers, and bandwith, so I'd just like to be friendly and ask them to remove our link.


February 18, 2004

Desktop wallpaper: sometimes it's the little things. posted by Jess

When I work on computers, a lot of times I notice that the desktop wallpaper hasn't been changed (Most noticeably, when it's still the "DELL" background). I guess I tend to assume that they don't know how to change it.

For some reason, I don't know why I do this, but I always change the background for them and based upon what I know about them, pick something I think they would like.

It's easy with XP because there are some good ones that come standard with the OS. I'll pick the dog if I know they have a dog, or I'll pick the field of tulips if their office is small with no windows because it's cheery. If they take an annual trip to somewhere warm, I'll set it to the beach scene.

It's always so fun to see them come back to their computer:
-"Oooh, I love it!"
-"I always wondered how or if I could change that."
-"My friend sent me a picture of my son, can I put that on my desktop?"

It's a quick and easy way to take an extra step while working on a computer... and it breaks the ice for them to ask other questions they didn't want to ask.

At least I can only hope they don't spend the rest of their work days on downloads.com finding new themes. :-D

January 30, 2004

Probably one of the best reasons to post your solution on the forums... posted by Jess

...is so when later on down the road, when you FORGET what you did and need the same solution, you can go back and search the forums for the answer you so thoughtfully provided. :-)

I'm usually pretty good at posting my solution in the forum. Except this one time, I just wrote "thanks!".

Yeah Jess, thanks for NOTHING! LOL....

January 09, 2004

A quick note about @home web servers... posted by Jess

Note to self: Most ISP's block port 80 incoming. So, the next time I set up a web server and configure my router for port forwarding, I don't need to waste hours and hours figuring out why I'm getting "This page cannot be displayed." I've probably set up the port forwarding correctly. I've also correctly created my Internet site in Domino 6.5. I've even set up my login form correctly.

I don't need to spend hours redoing it all, and constantly dumping my cache files.

I can just change the port & URL.

Sigh. Whaddya know?

December 11, 2003

Pulling a zoolander posted by Jess

Ben Stiller, as Zoolander in one of my favorite movie quotes: "They'll be looking for us at Maury's. But they WON'T be looking for... (pause)... not us."

Sigh. I always thought that was such a funny line, how Zoolander couldn't figure out how to make something out of nothing.

But then I realized that it's the same problem that plagues me every time I have to write an IF statement, write it backwards, and then can't for the life of me figure out how to reverse it. Every time, I always want my test to do nothing the majority of the time.


A good example of what gets me every time is when I want the value to do something, except when the value is blank. I stumble over myself. I can't even think of ways to reverse the statement so it makes more sense to me.

If num=""
Do nothing
do stuff because num is something!!

I usually end up 'zoolandering' it as such:
If NOT num=""
do stuff!

However, I have no idea if that's a terrible approach, or a good approach, or the ONLY approach. Or, do I wrap the entire code around a different statement?

I have no idea what sort of childhood trauma induced this "If anxiety". Probably when I was eight and had a 400-line BASIC program written, then realized I needed to insert a line right in the middle and re-number them all.

I think it's because for some reason, even though I always end up at the same point as everyone else, I feel compelled to take the long way around to get there. If I'm standing facing foward, and need to end up facing the left, 9 times out of 10 I will make three rights instead of one left. Don't ask me why.

But at least I get there. Though I usually have to ask Matt for help. At least with the IF statements. ;-)

October 23, 2003

When no search results are a good thing posted by Jess

So many focuses of discussion revolve around web searches, and the quality of results from those searches.

Iíd like to talk about the merits of the quality of information that can come from getting NO results at all from your searches. And yes, there is some true quality information coming back from that big pile of nothing.

If you type in an error message or such and get no results back, what has this told you? Without you realizing it, it has spoke volumes about your issue. It has just you lots of things.

It told you that unless there is some amazing, super-secret-even-Google-doesnít-know-about-it forum out there, then nobody has ever had this problem.


In the history of time, no other user has ever had a situation where in this particular place in a script, this particular error message has come up? No one has ever had this return code from the OS after adding that particular INI parameter?

Apparently so.

It told us that this is not a known bug. It told us that there is no technote available with an easy fix, and it told us that there is no patch or firmware upgrade that will let us get on our merry way.

But most importantly, it told us that because no one else has ever had this problem, then the problem probably doesnít exist. Most likely the error is caused by a simple spelling error on our part in our script/config and it has just told us to go back and double check our typing.

Just thought Iíd pass along some techno-surrealist advice for you on an otherwise uneventful day.

October 18, 2003

DVD/Surround Demo list posted by Jess

Every once in awhile, people come over and want to see for themselves what the surround sound/amp experience is like in a home theatre. They are also pleasantly surprised when we tell them that it's probably not as expensive as they might think it is.

So when they ask, Matt and I pull out our usual suspects of "DVD demo equipment", those select DVDs that we think REALLY put you right in the middle of the action, those which you would never be able to watch to their full potential if you lived in an apartment complex.

Here's some of our favorites movies (and the scenes that shine) that really seem to take full advantage of surround sound:

1. Swordfish
The scene RIGHT in the first five minutes of the movie, where an explosion occurs in 360-degree slow motion, shop windows and all. You'd swear it was your sliding glass door behind you that just broke.

2. The Fifth Element
Scenes to watch for: The march of the guardians to take the key back from the humans, and the scene where Leeloo escapes from the Nucleo lab. This is a good one to demo in combination with bold color visuals and special effects.

3. Terminator 2
'nuff said. Pretty much right from the logo credits you're in for a wild ride.

4. Minority Report
No particular scene, and you get nice visuals to go along with your DTS.

5. Jurassic Park
Honestly, I haven't watched it since we got surround, so I can't say. But after I picked the first four above, I went online and poked around to give you guys some more lists of movies that other people liked. Jurassic Park topped everyone's list again and again. Looks like I know what I'm watching tonight....

These movies are good demo's because they pack a punch, and have scenes that can be shown quickly (and convincingly!) Most people usually end up leaving our house planning their budget for Christmas.

It should go without saying that once you have the system in place, the best movies are usually the ones with surprise sounds, those that make Matt and I pause the movie to make sure it's not something in the house. Or, now that we have a puppy, the ones that make her run round and start barking because she thinks there is a bird in the house.)

Here's a good list of other people's favorite demo movies:

What are YOUR demo movies? The big guns you bring out when it's time for your setup to shine?

October 04, 2003

When cookies are a GOOD thing posted by Jess

MMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm cookies.

It's coming up on me and Matt's two year wedding anniversary, so I'm getting kind of sentimental thinking about what a great day that was.

I thought I'd share a strange twist of fate in which cookies helped me to have one of the most memorable aspects of my wedding.
Consider it a breath of fresh air in the midst of all the other issues that go with them.

As I think I mentioned before, my father plays classical guitar, and used to play in NYC both by himself, and as part of the band of well known acts. He's played in Birdland in the 50's, right at the height of the smoky jazz scene, and also has the honor of being the very first person ever to play classical guitar in the Army band in Washington, D.C. (Steve Lawrence was also in the band, and required a classical guitarist for his arrangements. Since there was none, both Steve and my dad made a trip to the Pentagon to petition for a new spot in the band.)

Anyway, I knew my dad had went on tour with Les Elgart sometime in the 50's. After some inconspicuous questioning, I got a year - 1958. I also knew that he had no idea where any recordings might be. I really wanted to have a song that he was playing on for the father/daughter dance at my wedding, so I went on a mission.

First stop, contacting the Columbia Records archive department, as that was the record label that Les Elgart used, thanks to Amazon.com. The man was very sympathetic and said he would have loved to help, but there was simply too much music and they didn't keep track of individual people on albums.

After that, it was the web to do more research. Nothing.

One year went by and I realized the wedding was coming up soon, and my idea was a bust.

So one day I just happened to stumble on Amazon.com's home page. Remember how I had used Amazon.com to look up Les Elgart's music to find the record label? Right there on the home page was a recommendation for me. "New Release: Les Elgart on Tour".

I did a quick check to find out that someone, for some unknown reason, had randomly decided that it had been far too long since anyone had a new Les Elgart CD. The year of the tour? 1958. My father was on this one.

It did not take me long to pick "Five foot two, eyes of blue" as the song (which I might add, is a very sweet instrumental), and I managed to surprise him by telling the guests the backstory before dancing with him to this song at my wedding.

So, the tide was right, the moon was in the next phase, and my planets were in alignment that day.

I still get chills thinking about it.

September 20, 2003

They DO want to learn! posted by Jess

As IT people, we've often complained how it seems we do our jobs for people who couldn't care less about reading instructional emails we send, ignore virus warnings, and skip training sessions.

As you may or may not know, I used to write a weekly "Internet for Beginners" column years ago for Bellaonline.com. I managed to salvage some of the articles and put them on my site, knowing that most of them were extremely outdated anyway.

So imagine my delight when I received this in my inbox recently:

Subject: Thank you! Your article was very informative!

You are exactly right in your article, "Of Course I Know What Browser I
". I've been using a computer for years for personal and business use and
thought I was fairly computer savvy, in regards to what I need to use
the computer for, but I have to admit, I did not know what a browser was until I read your article today.

I've been asked the question before, but never realized
what they were asking me. Thank you for your wonderful explanation!

But even though I now know what a browser is, I do not know how to find
out what mine is because when I read your article, I have no title bar, just
the red heart to save my favorite places, the minimize button, the maximize
button & the close button. There is nothing else at the top, sides or bottom,
except for the scroll bar. Is it possible that I'm just using an AOL built in
browser or do they even have one? Now you have me puzzled! O:(


July 06, 2003

Checking in... posted by Jess

So itís been a month now that Iíve been on my own, Solace Consulting Services. I canít remember when Iíve been as stress-free, and yet I have enough work to keep most of my days busy. These are good things. And we havenít had to forclose on our house, which is also a good thing. :-)

So, after that first month hereís a few things Iíve learned:

Sometimes being a good consultant is not giving the customer what they want. Sometimes, what they want is not whatís best for them, and itís my job to tell them WHY, and what IS best for them.

Itís OK to speak up when I donít agree with the customer. After all, they brought me in because supposedly I know a little something, and they expect me to speak up when I donít agree.

Just because there is no documented procedure to do a task does not mean Iím necessarily doing it wrong; in fact, whose to say I havenít found a new, amazing way to accomplish it?

I never knew how much it irked me when servers werenít organized, clean and tidy.

Itís incredibly scary when 15 eyes are on you in a meeting expecting you to expound brilliance once your mouth is openedÖ

Öbut thereís also no greater thrill than watching 15 heads nod their heads in agreement when you are doneÖ

Öbut if no brilliance is scheduled to make an appearance that day, itís ok to say, ďIím not sure of the answer to that. Iíll check up on it and have an answer to you tomorrow.Ē

Itís a wonderful support system to have technical friends that can help you in a pinch. And itís an even better feeling when itís reciprocated and you can help them out in a pinch.

Quickbooks is your best friend. If you donít see it now, you WILL see it on tax day.

You should always try to get out of the house at least once per day.

Finally, have confidence, even if you are afraid. It will reflect in your eyes, and it will reflect in your performance, and it will make the client remember why they chose you in the first place.

May 23, 2003

Strange msn.com issue... posted by Jess

I had an interesting browser issue yesterday.

Mattís computer and my own are on the same router. Matt could get to msn.com with no problems.

Me, on the other hand, had not been able to get there for a week. Whenever I did, the following message appeared instead:

Error type 500: Server too busy


Bizarre. At first I just assumed it wasnít working, but then after a few days, it was a little strange that I wasnít reading about it on the other news sites. So finally, yesterday, I started asking around. Everyone else could get to it.

Found the solution... apparently Opera users have difficulty with language settings and MSN.com. They have to go in and change some ini params. So, on a whim I checked out the language settings in Internet Options in IE. For some reason, "English (United States)" was NOT the first choice.

"User Defined" settings were first. So I reordered English to the top, applied the change, tried msn.com again, and it worked.


I can only assume that my computer settings got toaster-caked when Matt installed the Japanese language pack on my machine to show me some cool stuff heís working on. But why it waited all that time to show itself is beyond me. Interestingly enough, there were LOTS of people on Google whose MSN.com mysteriously stopped working last week. I even found a couple of blog entries surrounding it last week.

I guess I made a change on my machine the same day some msn.com engineer made another change on their machine, and then the lunar eclipse happened, which shut off some other solar powered machine whichÖ aww forget it. Can I just blame El Nino like everyone else always does?

April 24, 2003

Reply To All - literally posted by Jess

This happened while ago (and probably doesn't happen with ND6) , but I thought I'd mention it. So here I was, choosing Reply To All in my email to 3 other people. I send it off, and then one of them writes back saying "who's *[email protected]*"?

Good question! Apparently, the email made it to everyone on the list, and one extra person from a NAB I had somewhere on my hard drive (long forgotten it was still in Preferences for addressing). This person had the same last name as someone in the original sender list.

For some reason, my client felt compelled to ADD this 4th recipient to my email when it refreshed.

Here's what I think happened. One person had a "." in his email address. I read that there is a chance that using Reply to All, it might bounce to this person because it can do all sorts of funky stuff depending on how it's formatted. However, it did NOT strip off the domain, but apparently it thought it did. Because it felt compelled to look up the user in my forgotten NAB and add in an entry who had the same last name!

I think it THOUGHT it couldn't resolve the person's name, but it really could. But by that time, it had already looked up a similar name and dropped it in also.

So, needless to say, I had to write a "sorry 'bout that" email to the person who it got sent to by mistake, and now I always refresh first JUST in case.

And I stopped using that darned extra addressbook!

April 10, 2003

Traffic waves posted by Jess

Matt and I both love science, and especially love when science fundamentals show up in everyday life.

(I gasped in amazement one night when Matt showed me how I could bounce the remote control signal off the wall behind me and turn off the TV. We spent the rest of the night creating complex setups with mirrors and such in an effort to turn off the TV from three rooms away.)

William Beaty, over at Science Hobbyist has created a really, really neat site describing Traffic Waves.

He discusses the dynamics of traffic, and what causes it. Have you ever noticed how you can be in a traffic jam, then all of a sudden you get to the end and cars start speeding up, with nary an accident to be seen or found? What caused the jam in the first place?

If you continue to Page 2, he goes on to share traffic experiments you can do in your own commuter boredom. He actually single-handedly slowly got rid of an entire traffic jam one day. As we drive standards, it may be worth trying one of these days!

Such amazing stuff. Kinda makes you want to go out and find random things to try. I bet you'd never guess that when I was a kid I was incredibly fascinated with the ol' thumb-being-cut-off-from-the-finger trick.

April 04, 2003

The crankiness before the coffee? posted by Jess

Imagine bringing this into work one morning?


March 21, 2003

End users are to analogies what... posted by Jess

In past experiences, I can put all prenotions aside, and tell you two truths of end users. These truths have helped me do my job better, so I share them with you this morning.

Truth 1. End users LOVE analogies. It helps form a bridge between the stereotypical barrier of techspeak vs. their limited knowledge. Compare it to something they know and understand, and everyone's happy.

Truth 2. End users LOVE when they can understand what's going on. Contrary to popular belief, end users really do want to learn for themselves how their computer works.

I've noticed that one of the biggest ideas that users really want to grasp but just can't quite get there is how data travels through the Internet. How do people break into computers? What the heck is a firewall?

It's hard to explain how data travels through the Intenet without a detailed explanation of ports, and how they work. My favorite analogy is that of a radio.

Radio waves are always travelling through the air. Now you turn your radio to a certain dial, and it picks up a particular station, let's say classic rock. You move your dial two inches to the right, and you get a new frequency and a new genre of music.

Ports and Internet data work the same way. Except the air is a network cable, the radio is a server, the station is a type of protocol, and it's always listening.

Email travels through port 25. When you set your server up to "listen" on that port, it's just like moving a radio dial to a certain channel. Web traffic travels on port 80. It's categorized just like a radio. One frequency gives you classic rock, and others give you jazz.

Now let's suppose you have a radio that will "lock the dial" so you can't ever change to a music station you don't like. Even though radio waves are still travelling at a certain frequency, you can rest easy knowing that YOUR radio will never, ever pick up those channels because you've instructed your radio not to allow those channels through.

This is a firewall.

I didn't really mean to give a detailed explanation of something that most people who read this already know. I was out to share how powerful analogies can be when trying to explain facts that at a quick glance, may seem ungraspable to an untrained ear.

March 19, 2003

Blogs as Publicity Stunts posted by Jess

Back in October, I stumbled upon 8march2003.com. It was a complicated story of governmental CIA-type secrets, complete with mysterious wording, strange letter-spacing and capitalization among the story. It contained photos of a broken camera, with the promise to post the "world changing photos" on March 8, 2003, once it was "safer."

Once word got out, panic spread in, leading Snopes.com to run a debunking story on it. It was later determined that it WAS indeed a publicity blog, by admittance of the site owner due to the influx of panic-stricken emails.

The site owner then reassured us that it WAS a publicity stunt complete with clues in the wording, posted the original site for anyone to see as a link at the bottom, and then kept going every few weeks adding more to the story.

March 8th came and went, and as promised, the pictures were posted along with a link to a new site (complete with the words "do not believe a word this site tells you...". The new site contained a different version of the story, along with a new date of confession, and this time a contest to see who could guess what was coming (book, movie, etc.)

If you check out the original site , you'll notice the author has posted the feedback he has gotten. While many of them contain disappointment that none of this is real, about 90% of them thank the author for giving them a little excitment to their daily routine, not to mention something to look forward to.

I personally can't wait until the item is released, knowing that I've been a part of the "backstory" months before anyone knew what it was. That said, I may have to kick a little ass if I find out its for Men In Black breakfast cereal or something like that...

March 07, 2003

There was once a girl from Nantucket... posted by Jess

BBSpot.com s having it's second annual Geek Limerick Contest.

I think I may have to be up for the challenge. After all, I came up with a pretty decent one once years ago, and what makes it worse, it was in context!

This is the winner's page from last year's contest. It's a very funny read.

March 06, 2003

Forum Faux-pas posted by Matt

Anyone who posts in technical forums has seen it, and those of us that usually offer help don't want to deal with it. I am talking about the people who pop in from time to time and either:
   1. Ask homework questions
   2. Ask us to write some code for them
   3. Ask for answers to certification questions
   4. Recruit
   5. Post in "LEET" Speak

I admit, when I first started posting at Tek-Tips, I was eager to help anyone with anything. I wrote up parsers, in-depth algorithms, and various other code related answers. Heck, I even had someone send me their code, which I reviewed and emailed back to them when I fixed it.

Over time, I began to notice patterns... the boards would be moving along at a regular pace and all of a sudden, they are inundated by 15 URGENT posts. The posts are very similar and are asking college or high school quesitons about "How do I create a linked list?", "Can someone write some code to output pre,post and infix expressions?", or very simply "My project is due tomorrow, will someone write it for me if I pay you?". That last one is my favorite... I post some exhorbitant amount of money and never hear back cause it gets RED FLAGGED and deleted before the have a chance to respond. I still look at these posts because sometimes, they actually post their code and ask for help. I have no problem with that as long as it is not a copy and paste of an entire file and you are expected to find the one line that is wrong. I have better things to do then compile your code in my head and say "OH! you didn't initialize a variable".

Well, that pretty much covers topics 1 & 2. As for 3, if you think I am going to answer your questions so you can earn more then me and impress some chick... KEEP DREAMING! And number 4, at least at tek-tips, it specifically states "NO RECRUITING" ( it also says no homework questions as well but I cut those High School kids a break since I was the same way). If you can't read the bold red text below the submit button and you come in to recruit, I will submit your email to porn sites and spam-o-grams galore!

Number 5 has no place in technical forums. For those of you who don't know what "Leet Speak" is, it is basically a language that originated in games like Quake, and Half-Life as well as in BBS and IRC. It was "kewl" to find new ways to type words and there is a time and place for everything. When you play on a quake server, expect someone to "0\/\/z3d" (own) you cause they "r0x0r" (rock). Same in IRC, but KEEP IT THERE. I can understand it, but I am not going to take the time to decipher "YOUR WAY" of typing leet speak when you post in a forum. If I am playing Quake, I have no issues with it. There IS something we can do though for the weiners who try to act cool and post like this... all we need to do is go to one of many online Leet Speak Generators (I chose this site because the guy acutally took time to make a real web page and not some shoddy cheese site ), paste our answer in there and generate the "Leet speak". Let them decipher it back! Just my 2 cents :-)


P.S. That leet speak at the end of my last post was a play off of "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot

Stand Up,
Shout it Out
Even white boys got to shout <--- this was in leet speak
Baby got Back

Dear user... posted by Jess

This is a letter I typed up a few months ago during a move to a new Notes server/domain for 900 users. I was there to get the process started, and moved about 300 users. I just wanted to share this, because it was sent out before any move occurred, and I'd like to think it helped make the move a success by keeping support calls down to a minimum because the end users were informed.

Dear User:

As you may or may not know, the IS department is currently working hard to migrate all 900 employees to a new server. You have been selected as part of a pilot program to move to the new server by 100% automation.

Here are some answers to questions that you need to know!

What does this mean for me?
In a nutshell, better reliability and stability. You will probably notice faster performance as well.

What can I expect during this process?
You can expect no less than four emails from us over the course of the move.
The first email will be letting you know when it's YOUR turn for the move, and to be on the lookout for more instructions. The second and third email will be a button for you to click on to help us configure your workstation without us actually having to be there. And finally, the fourth email will be us letting you know that the move is complete!

How will I know when the process is done?
Once all employees are moved to the new server, we will be sending out an email to all users letting them know the move is complete.

Is there anything I can do to help?
The easiest way to help us out during this move is to read all correspondence we send you and follow any instructions both accordingly and promptly. We will be sending you a button to click on to change your settings and/or username. This is perfectly normal, and it's OK to click the button.

Again, we look forward to making the move to the new server, and with your help, the process will be nothing short of a huge success. Be on the lookout for an email that says it's your turn for the move!

Please do not hesitate to ask any questions.

The IT Department

March 01, 2003

The Unstoppable G.B.E. posted by Jess

Some words of inspiration on an otherwise quiet Saturday.

I remember it quite clearly. My brother and I were both out of college for the summer, and had our individual computers set up and ready to go in our rooms. Windows 95 had only been out for a few months.

My bro showed me something on his screen. It wasn't what was on his screen that amazed me (which, I remember was that neato 3D clock screen saver). It was how nice and sharp and tiny everything was. "How did you do that?" I asked.

It was then that I learned about screen resolution and how to go into desktop properties ("what the heck is 'the desktop'?!"). I ran back to my computer to change it to 800x600, and lo and behold, mine looked different. It was greyed out so it couldn't be moved.

I went back to Jay and told him that I couldn't change it because it wouldn't move. His response?

"Only losers don't change things on their computer just because it's greyed out."

We went back to my computer, and he then proceeded to do stuff (which I now know all I needed to do was change the default monitor), and all of a sudden the button was moveable.

Had I accepted the fact that it simply would not change, I might still to this day be destined to looking at a 640x480 desktop forever.

Chew on that next time you run into the grey-button epiphany (GBE). It's realizing that you have the power to change something as long as you're up for the challenge!

February 26, 2003

Backflipping Blogs...blogflipping? posted by Jess

Have you ever used a product or service for eons, and then all of a sudden realized how "incredibly mind-bogglingly useful" (name that quote!) it is?

Such is what happened with Backflip. I'd used it to post my bookmarks online so I can have them anywhere. Then I remembered that it comes with this mind-bogglingly useful feature called 'My Daily Routine'. (even the title SOUNDS useful).

After logging into Backflip, you can set up your daily routine. Add your links in the order you want to visit them (ie. all these daily blogs we love to read so much), and then every morning, you click the 'My Daily Routine' button (I just added it to my links on my browser), and a little frame appears at the top to let you chronologically go through each blog, and any other sites you would like to see.

The timing of this is really funny, because I just read Chris Miller's recent entry about suggestions for an easier way to navigate through the blogs.

Incidentally, the quote is from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In fact, at the moment, this blog is named 42. Why? Whenever Matt and I can't think of a better word at the moment, or a name for something, what else do you use that covers Life, the Universe and Everything? 42.

February 18, 2003

Everyone's writing about Domino posted by Jess

Everyone's writing about Domino, code in general, and basically just having fun online. More and more I enjoy perusing blogs of those I don't know, but I am getting to know from their writings. I'm putting personalities with names I already knew, mostly from the Notes.net (you can call it LDD, to me, it will *always* be Notes.net) forums.

Let's see, here's some among my favorites to read a few times a week:

The Gutted Geek

Bruce Elgort

I'm enjoying reading this one more and more. Post more pics of Domino, Bruce! ;-)


Ed Brill

Ed always seems to have something interesting to say. I especially liked this one about the BBS being 25 years old. When I was in high school, all us neighborhood kids used to hop onto the local NEC BBS and chat. Everyone realizes the acronyms (brb, rotfl) are convenient, but you have to have been a BBS-er to realize the *necessity* of those acronyms. When someone else was sending a new line feed, you couldn't type anything until the line was done being transmitted. I think it was a screen refresh thing. So at night, when we had 10 people typing, if you weren't a quick typer, you didn't get a word in!

Notes Tips

Jess :-)

September 27, 2002

I love Perl. posted by Jess

I'm a perl addict now. I've always wanted to know how those webots and spiders work. Now I do, and I'm hooked. I've started a little coding experiment to do a project that I think will benefit a lot of people. I'll let everyone know what it is once it's done (hint: a really useful metasearch)... but personally, I'm surprised at how well it's going considering I started with nothing. I didn't script kiddie this, I started from scratch. And, like I said, I'm hooked.

I had *no* idea how powerful perl really is until I got down to the nitty gritty. Though it does get tough. Perl, javascript, lotusscript, C++... each language has it's own coding features, and it does get tough keeping it all straight. Let's just say it took me awhile to figure out how to declare a variable in Perl. Let's put it this way:

int x;
Dim x As Integer;
var x;

Arg! Who can keep it all straight? But, considering it actually worked, I don't really have much to complain about. Except for that one time last week that I spent an hour wondering why my code wouldn't compile until I realized I was passing a variable with quotes around it. D'oh. I just pretend that one never happened.

But, I digress. Back to the wondering capabilities of perl. I'm hooked. Take a chance, write a perl script and watch it work. I think there's no greater thrill.

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