Monday, November 28, 2005
Inspired by Marc Hedlund's Wishlist Wishlist, I started thinking about my disappointment with Amazon's Recommendations feature. I was going to leave a comment, but I realized that it was going to be too long and just enough off-topic that I should write my own entry.
I really want to like the Recommendations on Amazon. I continue to add ratings and data to the system in hopes that one day it will provide me valuable recommendations that I can use. But so far, it seems to be getting worse.
How do they recommend "Titanic (Special Collector's Edition)" because I rated "Airplane - The 'Don't Call Me Shirley' Edition"? Why on Earth would this be considered legitimate? And "Vanishing Point" because I rated "Boiling Point"? Is this based on both having the word 'point' in the title? It would seem.
And Amazon, because I like some TV shows doesn't mean I like all TV shows. You don't have to 'recommend' every television series that makes it to DVD to me now. Oh, and here is a great one: my wife is interested in picking up "Seven Faces of Dr. Lao" (a wonderfully weird movie with Tony Randall and Barbara Eden... check it out) so we added it to the Wishlist. Now what do they recommend? "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T," a Dr. Seuss adventure.
I suppose I'll keep updating information on occasion in hopes that when they do eventually fix it, it will have been worth it. But my patience wears thin.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
[UPDATE: Jim's got this game posted now at http://sudoku-koubou.com/. He's doing fairly regular updates, too.]
First, I hear about this thing a month ago from Scott's blog entry. Then, a few weeks ago, Jesann mentions the game. Finally, I notice over my coworker Jim's (Meyer) shoulder (after hours, of course) a Sudoku board on his screen. I had to ask... and of course, he was writing it.
I asked when he was going to post it up for the world to enjoy, but it was not his intention. After a bit of chiding, though, he was willing to let me post it for him. The .zip file includes source code and the binary result along with a short description of what led to this. It begins as such:
Well, as a Goof one sunday afternoon my sweetheart and I flipped through a puzzle book and (finally) caught the SuDoku bug. After trying a few games - the first being quite a time waster - I began to itch for a hueristic to solve them. We compared thoughts on how each of us were solving them, and formulated an idea. We applied it to all the puzzles we could find and although it was slow to do by hand, it worked.
Then - perhaps backwards - we read the flood of web pages on the subject. We learned the buzzwords, algorithms, postings on what makes a computer generated board and human-generated boards appear different, etc. It was great fun. Oh yeah, and we played lots and lots of online versions of the game. Some were very pretty, and others were simply focused on the game and minimally anything else.
Finally, we thought a fun project might be to employ both our skills (designer/programmer) on a project of our own. Our idea was to make a windows Sudoku game to give to our family as a holiday gift. We will be putting in visuals and sounds for a full game, but for now we started with a meager board, no alpha support in the drawing, no sound, and other gaps.
This should allow you to waste several hours. Oh, and just in case you don't already know it, the rules from Web Sudoku:
The rules of Sudoku are simple. Enter digits from 1 to 9 into the blank spaces. Every row must contain one of each digit. So must every column, as must every 3x3 square.
[UPDATE: Jim's got this game posted now at http://sudoku-koubou.com/. He's doing fairly regular updates, too.]
Wednesday, November 9, 2005
Why would I post that?
As a Public Service Announcement, of course. I was looking at my logs today and noticed that someone(s) had visited my blog site after searching for "Hillsboro Store Opening Costco.com" on MSN Search. Not the strangest thing I've seen, but I must say, I am looking forward to this new store.
Finally, we'll have a Costco within a reasonable drive from home that sells gasoline. In addition, it's slated to be
one of the largest Costco in the world* larger (largest?) of their stores in Oregon. This means even more goodies to tempt oneself with.
Now, for anyone else that wanders this way looking for the store, it will be opening on November 17 and will have treats being served early (~8:30, as I recall). It's at the corner of Northeast 48th and Cornell (1255 NE 48th Ave, Hillsboro, Oregon 97124) in Hillsboro, just a tad east of the airport. If you follow the link to the Google map, you'll note that the property was already clear when the picture was taken - that's a McDonald's right at the corner.
Hope you enjoy!
[*Oops! I didn't realize how big this store really is! It's HUGE!]
Monday, November 7, 2005
Sunday, November 6, 2005
To celebrate Jason's return, we're going to have a great big Nerd Dinner this week! Looks like Mr. Sells will be joining us, too, to hear some thoughts on Model-Driven Development. To top it off, we'll do everything we can to get Scott out one more time before he enters the world of Parenthood.
My gosh it's been too long. I'm not even sure if I know where the malls are any longer.
In celebration of Mahku's return from the Skywall Realm, We need to have some serious make-up mall food, sooo...
What: Portland Nerd Dinner
Where: Squaremall Realm (a.k.a. Washington Square Mall food court)
When: Thursday, November 10, starting around 6:30 PM
Why: To Celebrate Mahku's Sabbatical!
Be There and Be Square!
This should be fabulous!
Wednesday, November 2, 2005
I know many of you know Scott from his very popular blog. What you may not realize is that he is a, "self-declared "Energy Star" person." Hey... I know Scott and he's a likable guy and provides a wealth of knowledge for the local .NET community. I never knew what a risk he was taking until reading The Raw Feed this evening:
Hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius are great for saving money on gas. But when you drive one into a tree and need to be extracted with emergency "Jaws of Life," your car can fry a fireman with its 500-volt electrical system. So Hale Products has come up with a special "Jaws of Life" that protect rescuers from being BARBECUED.
I'm sure glad Scott hasn't parked his Prius into a tree yet or he may have already had his funeral pyre.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Thanks to Mr. Sells' Entry*:
|You Passed 8th Grade Math |
Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct! |
*Don't worry Chris, I'll tutor you.
Friday, October 14, 2005
The Nigerian government and Microsoft Corp. signed an agreement Friday calling for the software company to help law enforcement break up crime rings that use the Internet for fraud and theft. 
Not well publicized is how this came to be. Unknown to most, Microsoft's Chief Software Architect, Bill Gates, received the following (condensed) email from the government of Nigeria soliciting his and his company's assistance.
FIRST, I MUST SOLICIT YOUR STRICTEST CONFIDENCE IN THIS TRANSACTION. THIS IS BY VIRTUE OF ITS NATURE AS BEING UTTERLY CONFIDENTIAL AND 'TOP SECRET'. I AM SURE AND HAVE CONFIDENCE OF YOUR ABILITY AND RELIABILITY TO PROSECUTE A TRANSACTION OF THIS GREAT MAGNITUDE INVOLVING A PENDING TRANSACTION REQUIRING MAXIIMUM CONFIDENCE.
WE ARE TOP OFFICIAL OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTRACT REVIEW PANEL WHO ARE INTERESTED IN CRACK DOWN OF SCAMS INTO YOUR COUNTRY WITH FUNDS WHICH ARE PRESENTLY TRAPPED IN NIGERIA. IN ORDER TO COMMENCE THIS BUSINESS WE SOLICIT YOUR ASSISTANCE TO ENABLE US TRANSFER INTO YOUR ACCOUNT THE SAID TRAPPED FUNDS IN EXCHANGE FOR YOUR CRACK DOWN.
WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO DOING THIS BUSINESS WITH YOU AND SOLICIT YOUR CONFIDENTIALITY IN THIS TRANSATION. PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE THE RECEIPT OF THIS LETTER USING THE ABOVE TEL/FAX NUMBERS. I WILL SEND YOU DETAILED INFORMATION OF THIS PENDING PROJECT WHEN I HAVE HEARD FROM YOU.
DR CLEMENT OKON
The rest will be history!
 Computerworld, October 14, 2005 (link)
Wednesday, September 7, 2005
I've been using the 'natural' keyboards for several years now and find them absolutely wonderful. One thing that has disappointed me, though, is the lack of 'reverse slope' on the most recent versions of these keyboards. That problem has been solved!
I'm hoping that Costco will have this soon. Heck, maybe they already do. I knew I needed to go over there for something this week.
Tuesday, September 6, 2005
I had an incredible nerd week last week.
Tuesday, we had the monthly Portland Nerd Dinner. Turn out was great and the conversation just kept going until the Mall was closing. Chris wasn't able to join us as one of the Sells Brothers was celebrating his birthday, but those that were there couldn't get enough.
Oh, and Portland finally has a LEGO store ! I got my souvenier block!
Wednesday brought the PADNUG meeting. I was looking forward to seeing Ted present again after Code Camp, but it ended up being particularly fun. Scott made an appearance and the banter between he, Ted, ChrisT[avares], and Rick was fabulous.
What really impressed me is that Ryan Williams blogged his notes on the meeting. The next best thing to being there!
If you missed out, don't forget to watch for future meeting of both Nerd Dinners and .NET User Group here or on their respective sites. This next month, the Indigo Roadshow will be visiting Portland at the Intel Jones Farm Auditorium. Registration is required for this one, so sign up now.
It seems like just yesterday that we were called upon to help our fellow persons in South Asia. Well folks, it's time to help out here at home.
Our southern states are in dire need. Especially the good folks in New Orleans and the surrounding area. All hell broke on them and it's well worth the time to do something to help them out.
If you have a preferred target for donations of time, goods, or money, please go to them. Otherwise, you might just want to click this link and give a little bit (or a lot) to the Red Cross. You know they are there helping out.
If you are looking for updates on the situtation down that way, you may want to check out this blog or Sara's for more information. As Greg mentions, TextAmerica and NBC have teamed up to bring a site dedicated to reconnecting people in the aftermath called MissingKatrina.com.
Heck, even Rory has jumped in and done his part... in his way, of course.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
From the local CBS station's website:
What were the chances?
[via Aaron Hockley]
Friday, August 19, 2005
I recently had a problem with my copy of Microsoft Money 2005. Somehow, it was completely uninstalled from my PC - probably because of a strange incident on the MSN Money pages, but that's not what this story is about.
It worried me a bit at first. I was connected to a call center that appeared to be offshore. I don't get so worked up about the 'where' support happens, but please, make sure the people speak clear and understandable english if they are supposed to be helping english speakers. It was a painful 45 minutes - and that was just to get directed to the actual support person.
But, once I got there, Nicole in Nova Scotia did a fabulous job of getting me up and running again. It turned out that I simply needed to do an upgrade, but the process took two hours! She stuck it out and was a pleasure to deal with. It turned out that she even had to stay an hour over her shift to complete this call. Big Kudos!
Of course, I worry about her not knowing about Second City TV, but that's another story - she's probably just a bit too young .
One thing I've noted over the years on the rare occasion that I've called MS Support: they must not beat their reps up over call time. I've always found that they are very willing to stick it out to make sure that the issue is resolved. Thanks for that and thanks to Nicole!
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
I know that I've seen this somewhere before, but I was reminded again this evening. I like being able to have a visual cue when I'm approaching the (likely arbitrary) right edge of my coding page. Sure, you can keep one of your eyes on the column number along the bottom status bar, but then, who watches the code?
Well, thanks to Roy Osherove, I now have the tip and the time at the same moment and have added the vertical rules to my Visual Studio sessions at 80 and 120 columns.
It looks something like this:
If you want to save some time, just click here to get the .reg file (download and check it first to be safe and backup the registry! ).
This isn't a high traffic site by any stretch of the imagination so you can guess how crazy it was to see 15 times the traffic that I might normally expect today on this blog. It was all based on the MSN Search bot: "+http://search.msn.com/msnbot.htm".
Sure enough, I chatted Greg up and his seeing the same kind of crazy activity!
Is it a rogue Bot? Or is MSN getting ready for some new bit of technology?
Thursday, August 11, 2005
I can now combine my favorite Third Place with my love of technology and a good, stiff drink .
Nonna Emilia Ristoranté now has WiFi! Congratulations to my friends at Nonna's for the great new toy! As if I needed another reason to go there.
Monday, August 8, 2005
As mentioned several days ago, we had our Dish Network DVR Dish 508 break down again. I suspected that I would give it one more try and contact the so-called 'Executive Office' to see if there was some flexibility possible.
As I had been told by 'Joan', I didn't have a chance.
Not only am I unimpressed and disappointed with their service on this issue, I think I've realized an other point: They don't seem to have a clue about their market!
Harsh, I know, but I got that impression when the representative said that I should, "...be sure of the deal I was getting." There was an implication that I was getting some 'special' deal from DIRECTV that I was trying to get Dish to compete with. I pointed out to him that this is the deal ($99 for the DVR and a $50 rebate) that is posted on the DIRECTV website; he seemed surprised.
Mind you, it didn't get me anywhere. Plus, DIRECTV is now offering a $100 rebate - the DVR is now free!
I happened on a good article that relates on CPR tonight. I'm sure that there were employees at Dish that wanted to make things right with me. But, instead, the company policies have given the competition a new customer.
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