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Rate This Content Screen Shot\ Scott Mitchell writes about a neat feature he created for .TEXT in this article and this follow up article. Basically, it adds a “Rate This Content” control to each blog entry much like MSDN has for each of its articles. This allows you to let the author know just how much you love or hate the article, and hopefully provides some constructive (or if not constructive, at least humorous) criticism.

I’d love to take this one step further. Currently, when a blog supports one the CommentAPI, RSS Bandit allows you to comment on a post via a “Post Reply” context menu item. It’d be neat to create a “Rate This Item” API so that aggregators can allow users to rate a blog entry if the blog supports a ratings system. What do you think?

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BurningManUnfortunately, my plans for going to Burning Man this year are not to be. However, it looks like Mr. Sells and his wife are going.

For my non-geek friends out there, Chris is a popular Windows expert who has written several books and countless articles on programming for Windows in its many incarnations. He recently joined Microsoft and is now a Content Strategist for the next version of Windows.

I went to Burning Man for the first time two years ago. Trying to describe what it is in words is very difficult. The experience is different for everyone. For me, it felt like being at a circus carnival refugee camp on the planet of Tatooine. Sort of.

In the picture attached to this post, you can see me and my wife hanging around the Mad Max inspired Terror Dome. Every night, this dome would be covered in people while two combatants attached to cords would swing around inside whacking each other with foam padded sticks.

Marquee de Sells: Chris’s insight outlet

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After reading up on the CommentAPI, if I were to write the RatingAPI, I’d pretty much plagiarize the CommentAPI but only make the following changes:

Remove the title and link elements (they are unnecessary).

Change the html discovery to:

<link rel=”service.rating” type=”text/xml” href=”url goes here” title=”Rating Interface” min=”0” max=”5”/>

Change the new comment element to a rating element:

<wfw:rating xmlns:wfw=””>\

    <wfw:endpoint></wfw:endpoint>\     <wfw:min>1</wfw:min>\     <wfw:max>5</wfw:max>\ </wfw:rating>\

What do you think?

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C64I was fooling around with building a custom stylesheet for formatting RSS items within RSS Bandit and I created one that tries to emulate the Commodore 64 look and feel. While it is possible to download the exact font used by the 64, I chose not to require a font download and instead chose Terminal. It is close enough and exists on most machines. If you want this style for yourself, download the template here and save it to the following directory (assuming a default installation):

C:\Program Files\RssBandit\templates

If you’re designing your own templates, I have a little tip for you.

  • Grab the XML for an RSS from your cache located at C:\Documents and Settings\PHaack\Application Data\RssBandit\Cache on my computer.
  • Drop it in your templates directory.
  • Open it up in a text editor (such as Notepad) and add the following line just underneath the XML declaration
  • <?xml:stylesheet type="text/xsl" href="PathToYourFormatter.xslt"?>

    Now when you open the XML file in Internet Explorer, it automatically applies the stylesheet to the XML allowing you to quickly test changes to your formatter stylesheet. Note that this will not work if you are using the AppStartupPath or AppUserDataPath variables as these will not be in context.

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XEarth For you grizzled Unix hacks out there, this might be old news, but I just learned of a really neat tool that I’m sure will appeal to the geophysicist in each of us (or at least Erik).

XEarth for Windows is a neat little application that acts as your desktop image. It displays either a globe, or a flattened representation of earth with the areas that are currently bathed in sunlight lit up, while the areas that are in the midst night are darkened. Not only that, any earthquake of magnitude 4.0 or above is also displayed as a yellow circle. The larger the circle, the larger the earthquake. Check it out.

UPDATE: Los Angeles doesn’t exist in the list of cities - its location is 33.56, -118.24 and you can add that manually.

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TweekendPulled this classic CD out of the crate for a little funky listening today. It starts off with a robotic funky track in “PHD” and progresses through some ragin’ rock in “Name of the Game” before settling down into a lush soundscape with “Blowout”, my favorite track on the CD.

Though it lacks the commercial appeal of their earlier hit “Vegas”, I tend to favor Tweekend probably because of its lack of overexposure.

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A friend of mine told me about a deal his company is working on in which an dot com internet company which was valued at around a couple million dollars a few years ago has now reached an agreement to be sold for a couple hundred million. He’s not at liberty to discuss which company (so we can buy up its stock), but the company does not deal with rocket science.

It got me thinking that it’s time I start throwing ideas around with some of my brightest friends and come up with a business idea that will be easy to implement, and if not make us millionaires, provide us with a steady income and nice place to work. Here’s what we came up with…

business plan

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Soccer Ball I once scored even faster than this… oh wait, we’re talking soccer here.

This must have been a nice shot off the kickoff. In college we once had a friendly scrimmage with the women’s team. To help even things up, our coach (who played professionally) played on the women’s side. In order to humble our loudmouth goalie during after we had scored, took a tap off the kickoff and sailed it into the net over his head. I didn’t time it, but I imagine it was close to 2.5 seconds.

AP - An amateur soccer player who scored 2 1/2 seconds into a game earlier this month was credited with the world’s fastest goal by the England Football Association on Tuesday.

[Via Yahoo! News - Oddly Enough]

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Back in the day, amidst all the stupidity prevalent on the web, there was one site that dared to raise the banner and take the stupidity one step higher. That site was, my friends,

LostYouth is now defunct due to a corporate scandal involving its founder who cooked the books like a ragin’ cajun and squandered the money snorting blow of the backs of midget strippers.

However, rising from the ashes like a city in Arizona, lost youth is back! (Though now it is hosted at a free hosting site. This makes sense if you were paying attention because the guy squandered all his money.) Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, the return of LostYouth.

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“Unfortunately, the regular expression language is no different from any other in that it has various dialects and accents” – Masting Regular Expressions, Jeffrey E. F. Friedl

So I know this is basically the geek equivalent to those cheesy email surveys that go around asking you to answer a bunch of questions about yourself and then send the questionnaire and your answers to all your friends, but I have to participate anyways. I found this meme going in a blog entry that asks you to do the following:

Grab the nearest book. Open the book to page 23. Find the fifth sentence. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

So there you go. I admit, I don’t have every arcane rule of regular expressions in my head. I often refer to the \^(1+)$ times a day. It is truly the [A-Za-z] of regular expressions.

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In an earlier blog entry, I asked the question if it made sense to add code in a debug version of the TimedLock class (written by Ian Griffiths in this post and commented on by Eric Gunnerson in this post) to store the stack trace when acquiring a lock on an object so that if another thread blocks an attempt to acquire a TimedLock, we can discover the StackTrace of the blocking thread.

Well I stopped asking questions and started writing answers. I update the TimedLock class with stack trace tracking and also wrote an NUnit test that demonstrates the fact that we can identify the stack trace. Check out the source code in the TimedLock repository.

Please keep in mind, this is meant to be a DEBUG version. In order to store the stack trace, I place it and the object being locked into a static hash table. In doing so, I acquire a lock on the hash table which can hinder overall concurrency as it is a static member. Hopefully, this will still be useful for tracking a pesky deadlock issue. I haven’t done any serious analysis or testing yet, so I welcome your comments if I’m way off base.

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I’ve spent the last 3 days trying to get an installation of Windows Server 2003 Enterprise edition onto a Virtual PC machine. I couldn’t understand why it took so long until I realized I had accidentally selected the ISO image for the checked debug version. Arggggg!!! How stupid is that!?

Thankfully, the normal release version is installing much faster.

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Code Complete 2Code Complete by Steve McConnell was the first programming book that had me glued to its pages as one would read a page turner thrilling novel. I couldn’t put it down. I still have several scars from the many obstacles I would walk into as I read the book and attempted to carry on my normal business. It’s that good!

Simply, Code Complete is the Bible of code construction, i.e. the craft of writing code. Now on the horizon, Code Complete 2 is on pre-sale at Amazon. I can’t wait to get my hands on this.

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Tyson the skateboarding
bulldog You’ve got to see this to believe it.

Tyson the skateboarding bulldog lays down some gnarly moves on the asphalt on his little skateboard.

And we had so much trouble teaching Ozzie (our dog in Alaska) how to take care of his business in the yard, and this dog is about to pull some ollies.

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In a previous post I mentioned that I bought an LCD monitor from some unknow Yahoo store. Well I recieved it yesterday and I can’t tell you how happy I am with it. I’ve never seen such a nice, well built, sharp LCD. It took my eyes a few minutes to adjust as I think they’ve grown accustomed to blurry text. In any case, the store sells it for $399.00 (includes shipping) which is a steal. Here’s the URL

I liked it so much, I am going to purchase another one. However, I need a graphics card (not too expensive) that supports a dual monitor set up. Any suggestions? Something around the $120 range.