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After a wonderful time with my family in Anchorage, we flew back to Los Angeles for a day, dropped Twiggy off at a doggy day care, and flew into Tokyo. Below is a picture of Anchorage from our airplane as we were leaving.

Anchorage at night from an airplane

The transition from 2004 to 2005 was quite uneventful this year. I think I was asleep when we crossed the international date line. Unfortunately we didn’t have a countdown or bubbly. Well there’s always next year. New Years Eve is a special day for my wife and I as that is the day we met in 2001/2002.

In any case, to my pleasant surprise, my mother-in-law’s building has been outfitted with wi-fi internet access! I was expecting a severe case of internet withdrawal, but my RSS Bandit installation is humming along nicely and I’m able to post a blog post or two while here.

But even nicer was the exquisite meal that awaited us when we arrived. Here’s a pic of a small plate of sashimi we had. Along with the sashimi we had some onigiri and tempura. Akumi’s mom is a phenomenal cook.


Well I better be off to bed and let the fight with jet lag begin. I wish you all a happy new year and hope we all can make some exciting things happen in 2005.

Technorati Tags: japan,tokyo

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Ok, the title is a mouthful, but it addresses a concern with the new alpha version of RSS Bandit. As of the current build, the feature to view the raw XML before it is rendered by the stylesheet is no longer there.

However, here is an identity transformation you may use. Just copy this to the templates sub folder of your RSS Bandit installation. You can then go to the Display menu (via Tools | Options) and select the Identity.fdxsl for your stylesheet. Afterwards, view any feed and then view source to see the raw XML.

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In case you’re wondering (and I know at least one of you is), my blog is hosted at WebHost4Life and is running .Text version 0.95 (or is it .96?). I chose it over DasBlog because of its SQL Server support, but I’m not sure that’s such a compelling reason given that configuration is such a pain. I’m hoping that Community Server will address many of the issues I have with .Text.

From reading the .Text newsgroups, it appears I’m one of 25 people on the planet to get it working. Ok, perhaps that is an exaggeration.

I created a custom skin for my blog a few months ago, but the logo was created by a talented coworker. I also use w.bloggar to post to my blog.

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It’s been said that native Alaskans have 40 or so words for snow. Roughly translated, they all mean “Fuck! Get the shovel!”. It was a winter wonderland for my wife until I handed her a shovel and led her to the driveway.

Akumi Shoveling The Driveway \ The driveway’s full of snow and my husband is full of …

We both spent the next hour or so working on the driveway, making sure to take the occasional break.

Phil taking a break \ The only thing missing is a beer in my hand.

And in the end we could enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.

A well shoveled driveway \ This is his idea of vacation?

Afterwards we decided to go moose hunting under a dramatic sky.

A dramatic sky \ You can shovel it yourself fool!

We decided to have a look in the woods near by.

A walk in the woods

Phil in the woods

This is my idea of a great Alaskan vacation. Shoveling snow and a walk through the woods jumping into snow drifts.

Akumi in the woods

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This is the road out of Anchorage towards Turnagain arm. It’s around 10 AM and the sun is just about to rouse its lazy butt above the horizon.

The Drive To Alyeska

Turnagain arm provides spectacular scenery. During the summer, this inlet hosts some of the best wind surfing in the world along with Beluga whales.

Still Driving

It was too cold to take too many pictures, but here’s one from the top of the quad. In the background you can see Cook Inlet where we drove in from.

Akumi at the top of the Quad

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We went snowboarding this morning after finally getting in and to bed at around 3 AM last night. At the top of the quad, it was -1 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the coldest weather my wife has ever snowboarded in. She’s such a trooper. We won’t be going outside the rest of this vacation. ;)

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As with many blogs right now, my blog has been graced by the quiet sounds of tumbleweeds rolling by due to a long period of lack of use. The primary reason for my absence is an end of year push to get several projects completed before I head off to vacation.

For my day job, I’ve been working on exposing our platform to cell phones. I’ve built a series of ASP.NET controls that render a proprietary markup for a browser like app that will run on the phones.

On the side, I’ve been writing a Windows service (not as hyped as Web Services these days) to obtain market data via a socket server API. What I like about this project is that the API provided an XSD so I was able to generate objects to represent all the messages (Requests and Responses) and used XML Serialization to send the messages over the socket.

Also on the side, I’ve worked on an app to post data from a SQL database over to a perl script via XML over HTTP.

Finally, I updated the unit tests for RSS Bandit not to require Cassini.dll to be registered in the GAC. They are now truly self contained. At the same time I also checked in my changes to the Shortcut management. Torsten discovered some improvements I should make which I hope to get to in the new year.

In any case, Akumi and I are flying to Alaska tonight to stay with my family. It’ll be a balmy -2 degrees when we arrive, so wish us well.

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‘Tis the time of year to find a new job for many. Among many pieces of advice I could give you, I leave you with this one. When you go to an interview, please please please bring several copies of your resume. For your own sake!

Out of every technical interview I’ve conducted this year, not one person brought a copy of their resume.

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Not to just join the chorus, but I am blown away by Google Suggest. It’s a simple idea, but well executed - it guesses what you are searching for as you type it and presents the options as a list. If you’ve used the auto-complete feature in IE, you’ll get the picture.

\ Suuure… This is what you were *really* searching for.

So in the above screenshot, I’ve typed in “good clean f” and Google has presented it’s best guess in the text box as well as other options below.

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My neighbor Chris blogs about the harrowing “commute” from the Baghdad airport to the Green Zone.

In just a few minutes, we clear the gate and our driver floors the accelerator. The convoy blows onto Route Irish at 70mph, bumper to bumper, with local Iraqi traffic parting like the Red Sea before us. You can see that the locals are used to these mini-tanks and dive to the side of the road. We seem to be making good progress when, to my shock and horror, I see cars driving the wrong way on a 4-lane expressway and coming straight towards us. The PSDs don’t seem to panic and, as I learn later, flow of traffic and lane right-of-ways do not really translate in this country. Apparently, it’s quite common to drive “kamikaze” against oncoming traffic if you’re side of the highway is blocked.

You should read the entire account.

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Server on fire

In case you’re wondering how important those fans are inside your computer, we received an email from a tech at our data center informing us that smoke was coming from one of our web servers. And we’re not even serving porn.

We don’t need no water let the motherfucker burn! Burn Motherfucker. Burn!

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Fox Sports World is undertaking strategic initiatives regarding the branding, on-air look, and marketing of the channels. As a soccer fan (and a friend of an FSW exec) I’ve been invited to participate in a focus group to evaluate their projects tonight. My main suggestion will be start a new channel devoted to soccer. FSS (Fox Sports Soccer).

UPDATE: Well my main suggestion was unnecessary. Fox is planning to change “Fox Sports World” to “Fox Soccer Channel”. We evaluated some logos and slogans and talked about the identity of Fox Sports World. Received some nice swag too including a pen that lights up like a blue glowstick. Great for taking notes at your next rave.

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TabI chuckled to myself when I read this “public service message brought to you by the Terminally Picky Developers Association for Readable Code” on Craig Andera’s blog.

I admit it, I’m guilty of using Tabs, but I have (at least in my mind) a good reason. Besides the fact that the code looks fine to me, I like navigating my code using the arrow keys. With tabs, when your cursor is at the beginning of the line and you hit the right arrow key, the cursor jumps to each tab position. If you convert tabs to spaces, you have to hit the arrow key two to four times (depending on your setting) for each tab. Unlike the “most discerning developers”, my tabs are set to 4 spaces so that wolud be quite annoying.

However, if a coworker was to raise a big fuss (or if I ever work with Craig), I’ll consider changing my evil ways.

And to my non-tech friends, yes, programmers are this anal.

UPDATE: Aaron Robinson notes in my comments that I could navigate with CTRL and the arrow keys. A good suggestion, and I often do that, but it requires two keys at a time instead of one. Also, in the case of moving text back, if I want to move a line back a tab, I like that I can just hit the backspace key rather than SHIFT+TAB. Once again, it’s one key verse two. When typing is painful, I like to reduce the number of keystrokes as much as possible. But maybe I’m just being lazy.

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This is great! Rather than wait for all the RSS Aggregators to properly use the If-Modified-Since header, implement it on the server instead via an IP address and User Agent combination. Now your first thought is probably “Wait, that’s not perfect. What about users of internet providers such as AOL which uses a shared pool of IP Addresses?”

True, theoretically there could be an instance where you don’t receive a blog entry because your IP and User Agent string just happened to match someone else. But really, how many AOLers are subscribing to RSS feeds in the first place? RSS is still mostly in the domain of the more technically sophisticated. Secondly (unfair cracks on AOL aside), the chances that two users with the same IP and User Agent requesting your pathetic little blog close enough together in time is probably very slight.

UPDATE: A commenter lamented that users behind a corporate firewall will lose out. This is a more likely scenario as your coworker is likely to subscribe to the same blogs that you do. My solution is to only throttle aggregators that misbehave (you know who you are). Or conversely, don’t throttle well behaved aggregators. This provides incentives for the misbehaving aggregator developers to fix their aggregators. RSS Bandit is well behaved in this regard.

Xeni Jardin: Last month, Cory posted an item about Glenn Fleishman’s analysis of the impact of RSS aggregators on his blogs’ bandwidth use. (Link to previous BoingBoing post). Now, Glenn updates us with this news:

I’ve run the latest statistics on RSS usage after adding a simple throttling program that uses a database to track the last access by an RSS aggregator (or anyone trying to retrieve a syndication file). One retrieval per file update is now the limit. I’ve seen my bandwidth use on RSS drop almost in half with no commensurate drop in actual users, and only a single note describing a problem in retrieving my feed (from a very old aggregator).


[Via Boing Boing]

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Robert Hensing, a senior member of Microsoft’s PSS Security Response Team, writes this enlightening post why passwords are so 5 minutes ago.

For you non-techies, the short answer is that you should be using pass phrases instead. For example, you might use a pass-phrase such as “my computer is secure!” or “just a cheeseburger in paradise”. The basic premise is that short passwords are easily hacked even when using non-standard symbols such as “p@$$w0rd”. Hacking tools are now sophisticated enough to deal with these type of passwords.