Friday, March 30, 2007

Chocoholic Muslims celebrate the life and times of Naked, Chocolate Jesus


From Yahoo! News:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A life-size sculpture of a naked Jesus made out of chocolate has angered Roman Catholic leaders, and a Manhattan art gallery is reconsidering whether to exhibit it during the Easter season.
ADVERTISEMENT

The sculpture "My Sweet Lord" by Cosimo Cavallaro was to be exhibited for two hours each day next week in a street-level window of the Roger Smith Lab Gallery in Midtown Manhattan. It was set to open on Monday, days ahead of Good Friday when Christians mark the crucifixion of Jesus.


The Catholic League wants it gone.

Opie and Anthony wonder why he isn't made of white chocolate? Then called for their fans to steal his delicious, chocolate penis.



What irks me is that all the photos are of his chocolate backside. I want some full-frontal chocolate nudity, like I'm watching Oz.

Thanks to Virginia for sending the story.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Twin Chimeras Discovered

Nature has an article this week about the discovery of semi-identical twins:

Researchers have discovered a pair of twins who are identical through their mother's side, but share only half their genes on their father's side.

The 'semi-identical' twins are the result of two sperm cells fusing with a single egg — a previously unreported way for twins to come about, say the team that made the finding. The twins are chimaeras, meaning that their cells are not genetically uniform. Each sperm has contributed genes to each child.


Apparently this was discovered because of a genital anomaly in one of the twins:

Souter and her colleagues investigated the twins' genetic makeup because one was born with ambiguous genitalia. This twin turned out to be a 'true hermaphrodite', with both ovarian and testicular tissue. The other twin is anatomically male.

Genetic tests revealed that each twin contained some 'female' cells with two X chromosomes, and some 'male' cells with an X and a Y. The proportion of each type varies from tissue to tissue in each twin, the researchers report in Human Genetics1.

The babies, now toddlers, were conceived and born normally, and each twin's growth and mental abilities appear normal.


Mother Nature has quite a sense of humor.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The 2008 Subaru WRX



Pictures of the new WRX were leaked last night ahead of the embargo.

Maybe it will grow on me, but I can't say I love it.

Monday, March 26, 2007

"Did you win big in Atlantic City?"

Overall, it was a good trip to Atlantic City. Saturday night it was packed, and I ended up down $300. Sunday I put in another $200 (I was playing off Andrew's marker) and played that up for $1400. I payed Andrew back the $500 I borrowed and then managed to turn $900 back into $0.

Which is when I officially declared gambling activities were over.

Hotel was nice, food was spectacular, the people were fucking mental patients.

Overall: excellent trip.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Weekend of Comps in Atlantic City

Andrew and I are heading up to the Borgata tonight to play a little Blackjack; we're planning to come home Monday morning.

The food was amazing the last time we were there, and I'm curious to see what kind of suite Andrew's Black Label card gets us.

Let's hope I leave with more money than I came with.

Friday, March 23, 2007

All I really need to know about ColdFusion I had to fucking teach myself

Let's start with what we know:
  • The content management system that we purchased is written in ColdFusion. CMS runs on Windows, Linux, and Solaris and it can use Oracle, SQL Server, or mySQL for its database.

  • ColdFusion was a Macromedia product until they were purchased by Adobe. While there is a free developer/trail edition you can download, ColdFusion needs to be licensed for use, and that only covers installation support. You need to buy a support plan for any further assistance.

  • ColdFusion has its own built-in web server that is unsupported for production deployments.

  • ColdFusion is now a J2EE server application, and needs to run inside a full J2EE server (it's deployed as either an EAR or a WAR.

  • SunOne is a full J2EE server, but is only supported as a web server and not an application server (which makes no sense). To deploy ColdFusion with SunOne, it needs to be run inside Adobe's JRun.

  • The latest and greatest version of JRun uses Java 1.4.2_09, which is not compliant with the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

  • ColdFusion connects to the database via JDBC. ColdFusion and JRun use Data Direct's JDBC Drivers to provide that connectivity.

  • The latest and greatest version of ColdFusion, version 7.02, ships with version 3.3 of the Data Direct Drivers, which do not support Oracle 10gR2 (the latest and greatest version of Oracle). We had to update to Data Direct 3.5 to get ColdFusion working with Oracle 10gR2.

So far, not worth its own blog post, is it? Update the drivers and move on.

My last three weeks of problems have centered around this Adobe technote about updating the JDBC drivers.

To install the new DataDirect database drivers, follow the instructions in the appropriate section below.

[...]

JRun 4

1. Stop JRun 4.
2. Backup your existing macromedia_drivers.jar file.
3. Unzip macromedia_drivers.zip into the same directory, overwriting the previous macromedia_drivers.jar.
A new file, DDJDBCAuth03.dll, which is required for Windows Authentication, is also included in the zip file replacing the older DDJDBCAuth.DLL.

Note: java.library.path must be modified (either in the jvm.config file or through the JMC) to include {application.home}/lib so that DDJDBCAuth03.DLL loads correctly.
4. Restart JRun 4.

JRun uses the JDBC drivers in macromedia_drivers.jar in /jrun4/lib. For example, with JRun 4 on Windows installed on drive C:, this would be C:\JRun4\lib\macromedia_drivers.jar.

This looks pretty straight forward, and only took me five minutes to complete. I toiled with the same performance problem I was having for another week or so until the CMS vendor provided a piece of test code that showed we were still running Data Direct 3.3.

::scratches head::

Remember up above where I said that ColdFusion is deployed as either an EAR or a WAR file? It turns out that the driver is actually in two places:

cmsadmin@zetes2$ find . -name macromedia_drivers.jar -print
./lib/macromedia_drivers.jar
./servers/cfusion/cfusion-ear/cfusion-war/WEB-INF/cfusion/lib/macromedia_drivers.jar

To really update the drivers, and not just hope the Java class loader picks the right one, I had to:
  • Start JRun and ColdFusion, which explodes the archive and deploys the application.

  • Find the compiled driver file inside the archive and replace it with the updated version.

  • Shutdown and restart JRun and CF.

Lo and behold, suddenly my test code shows my data sources are running Data Direct 3.5; good start.

The actual problem that started this was installing the CMS demo site. Since this product is repository-independent (like every other chicken-shit vendors), the demo site is created by a bunch of CFQUERY tags inside the page you install from: You browse to page, point it to the database, push a button, and it makes with the CREATE TABLE...INSERT INTO TABLE...BEEP BEEP...BLINK BLINK...for a couple minutes until viola!

Only when I tried, it blew up. I reset and tried again, and it blew up. I turned on debugging, reset, tried again, and it blew up. The first day I had this problem, my install abended eleven times. Over the course of several weeks, no less than forty times: setup, go, explode.

The problem? After inserting about 1800 records, the database server would run to a point and then stop to wait for the web server to say "ready for more? let's go". While the database server waited for an ack from the web server, the web server sat there waiting for the database server to tell it "I finished inserting those records, what now?". Which, if you care, looks something like this:


He's watching football, she's doing Sudoku; neither one is really listening to the other.

The CMS vendor has no idea what the problem is, and in fairness they probably shouldn't. The problem is three layers of middleware down in the JDBC drivers that Macromedia (who is now owned by Adobe) licensed from Data Direct to bundle with JRun and ColdFusion.

Does your head hurt yet?

To further troubleshoot this, I had our DBAs do SQL traces on their side (which is where that screen shot came from) while I did JDBC traces on the web server side. Here's where the second problem in that technote bites me in the ass:

JDBCSpy built into the driver

Spy passes calls issued by a running application to an underlying DataDirect Connect for JDBC driver and logs detailed information about those calls, information you can use for troubleshooting problems. Configuration requires addingSpyAttributes to the JDBC URL through the "Connection String" field. [My emphasis] Unfortunately, due to bug 60098, the "Connection String" field doesn't work for Oracle, SQL Server, Sybase or Informix built-in drivers.

Yes, how unfortunate for me and everyone else in the world. What the fuck database isn't on that list? Access?

Now I need to fist the enchanted goat in order to get any useful debugging information. Here's where it gets better:

For these drivers, users need to create an "Other" type data source and fill in all the data source parameters manually.

For ODBC Socket and DB2 (7.0.1):

Add the following parameters to the data source Connection String field: [...]

Seems helpful enough, until you realize that the parameters they've laid out for you aren't actually all the parameters that you need to fill in. I had to play trial-and-error for 25 minutes to guess what the correct parameters were. It gets even better because here is their example of an Oracle connect string:

For Oracle, SQL Server, Sybase and Informix:
JDBCSpy URL for "other" type data sources:

jdbc:macromedia:oracle://Server1:1521;serviceName=ORCL;SpyAttributes=(log=(file)C:\\temp\\spy.log;logTName=yes;timestamp=yes)


Wait for it...

The fucking syntax is wrong!

Barry found Data Direct's Manual for their JDBC drivers on March 8th, so I dug through that to find that the parameter is NOT serviceName=[] it's SID=[].


How hard would it be to add a screen shot so you know NOT to fill in the "Driver Name" with "Oracle"? If you do, it's no longer type "OTHER" and JDBCSpy won't log your transactions.

The log files it generated were as worthless as they were voluminous, except to show it stopped at exactly the same insert statement every single time:

spy(jrpp-3)(2007/03/21 17:48:10.004)>> Statement[1435].execute(String sql)
spy(jrpp-3)(2007/03/21 17:48:10.004)>> sql = INSERT INTO ControlInstance
(CONTROLID,CONTROLTYPE,CREATIONDATE,INHERITED,OWNERID,PAGEID,PARENTCONTROLID,PARENTCONTROLTYPE)
VALUES
(1541,26,'2004-06-15 10:43:34',0,1000002,857,1185,1)

spy(Finalizer)(2007/03/21 17:49:54.043)>> Connection[3].setAutoCommit(boolean autoCommit)
spy(Finalizer)(2007/03/21 17:49:54.043)>> autoCommit = true
spy(Finalizer)(2007/03/21 17:49:54.043)>> java.sql.SQLException: [Macromedia][Oracle JDBC Driver]Object has been closed. ErrorCode=0 SQLState=HY000
java.sql.SQLException: [Macromedia][Oracle JDBC Driver]Object has been closed.
at macromedia.jdbc.base.BaseExceptions.createException(Unknown Source)
at macromedia.jdbc.base.BaseExceptions.getException(Unknown Source)
at macromedia.jdbc.base.BaseConnection.setAutoCommit(Unknown Source)
at macromedia.jdbcspy.SpyConnection.setAutoCommit(Unknown Source)
at coldfusion.server.j2ee.sql.JRunConnection.setAutoCommit(JRunConnection.java:394)
at coldfusion.server.j2ee.sql.JRunConnection.clean(JRunConnection.java:223)
at coldfusion.server.j2ee.sql.JRunConnection.close(JRunConnection.java:433)
at coldfusion.server.j2ee.sql.pool.JDBCPool.expire(JDBCPool.java:695)
at coldfusion.server.j2ee.pool.ObjectPool.closeAllResources(ObjectPool.java:292)
at coldfusion.server.j2ee.sql.pool.JDBCPool.closeAllResources(JDBCPool.java:884)
at coldfusion.server.j2ee.pool.ObjectPool.finalize(ObjectPool.java:312)
at java.lang.ref.Finalizer.invokeFinalizeMethod(Native Method)
at java.lang.ref.Finalizer.runFinalizer(Finalizer.java:83)
at java.lang.ref.Finalizer.access$100(Finalizer.java:14)
at java.lang.ref.Finalizer$FinalizerThread.run(Finalizer.java:160)

Somewhere, somehow, some resource on the database server is being exhausted by a fairly small number of inserts and we don't know what resource or why because both servers eventually stare off into space waiting for the other to make the next move.

In the end, I gave up and had the vendor walk me through cloning the demo site from our production system and hand-jamming it into test.

Oh, did I forget to mention that this ran flawlessly on our production system? That's right, I didn't because I found another bug in CMS. We installed the demo site into /opt/SUNWwbsvr/docs but when the installer ran (and blew up) it had created /opt/sunwwbsvr/docs. Solaris is case sensitive, and a developer had jammed in an lcase() function that non-narcissistic applications like Apache forgive. Sun has to make their name CAPS in all their products.

What a fucking waste of time. Adobe's documentation staff need to bathe in napalm.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Monday, March 19, 2007

Podcast #2

Is current percolating in my head. Stay tuned.

You will be horrified.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Listen to my shitty podcast!



I've been playing with Ableton's Live for a couple days, and I managed to throw together this totally awesome three song set:

1.) Paris Hilton - Nothing In This World [Exacta Remix Edit]
2.) Seamus Haji feat. Kay Jay - Last Night a Dj Saved My Life (Haji and Emmanuel)
3.) Pink - U + Ur Hand (Bimbo Jones Remix)

In the process of spinning this disaster, I realized what I needed just as much as a blog was my very own podcast!!! You can subscribe using iTunes, or diddle the embedded player below:


Click here to get your own player.



Not sure if there will be an episode two, but I can check a couple small items off my list of New Years resolutions.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hi! My name is....goofy douchebag.



While listening to The Slim Shady LP on my way home from New York City, I realized how much I miss the old Eminem. A goofy, young Marshal Mathers used to crack me up; I guess two marriages and two divorces to the same Detroit trailer trash will ruin you like that.

I have to think that Dre and Snoop fans feel the same way. What happened to the guys from Up in Smoke that we all knew and loved?

::sigh::

Mystery Referral

I saw my nutritionist this morning, and she thanked me for the referral.

...

Apparently one of my male friends is seeing her now, but she wasn't comfortable telling me who if I didn't already know.

So which one of you fools is it?

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Soap Box Soliloquy on Information Cost and Credit Scoring

As I mentioned previously, I have this new (albeit passing) interest in Prosper.com after a discussion we had in Economics.

While researching Prosper, I found Rateladder.com, a blog that Kevin keeps about his Prosper.com investing activities. Though we're pretty much done with Microcredit in class, and I'm not interested in investing through Prosper at this time, I added Rateladder to Google Reader because I find the research that Kevin does interesting.

This post about 3 sigma loans caught my attention:

The data is a little old (2am last night.) But here are listings that at that time where in the 3rd standard deviation. The list of 2nd and 1st standard deviations were much longer, but probably more attainable…

Would you be interested in have this list emailed to you every morning? How about just the auto funding loans were the lender rate is a known quantity? Send me an email (kevin (at) rateladder [dot] com to find out more.

A Credit, $12,800 @ 21%, 23% DTI: https://www.prosper.com/public/lend/listing.aspx?listingID=107232

A Credit, $25,000 @ 20%, 26% DTI: https://www.prosper.com/public/lend/listing.aspx?listingID=107976

A Credit, $7,100 @ 23%, 22.5% DTI: https://www.prosper.com/public/lend/listing.aspx?listingID=108172


I looked through the listings, and was curious why Kevin wouldn't invest in any of these. He has standing orders set in Prosper to only find loans with 0 current delinquencies, 10 or less delinquencies in the last 7 years, and 2 or less public records in the last 10.

I decided to email him and ask:

Kevin,

As you can tell from my blog, I’ve been following yours for a couple weeks. I’m at IT guy by trade (was a DBA for several years) and I’m in school now part time to finish my undergrad in business. I’ve taken some econ and stats classes, and I’m fascinated by your take on prosper listing (where I think most people probably bid based on emotion or gut, you have quite the eye for the statistics).

In short, I’m not really looking to get into investing through prosper, but the whole notion intrigues me. If I did start investing it would just be to say I did it.

I’m curious about your latest post regarding 3 sigma listings. The first one for example (house flip/A paper/21% rate) — why wouldn’t *you* bid on a loan like that.

Your blog is the most interesting feed I have in Google Reader right now — keep up the good work. =)

Thanks,
John


Look kids, a blog circle-jerk.

In all seriousness, what has kept me reading is his attention to detail. Prosper allows you to download their entire database every night, and people like Kevin are using this to build models around their data. He's even gone so far as to build a suite of tools for power lenders to analyze the data and take the emotion out of lending (which is what the borrowers want by posting pictures of premature babies and puppies with their leg in a cast).

More important than Prosper itself or Rateladder's tools or Microcredit as a concept, what I think is the real story is Prosper's open access to data. Information asymmetry talks about the inequality between borrower and lender: the borrower only knows what the lender tells them (or is required to tell them to make the loan). On a level playing field, this can lead to adverse selection (bad credit risks are most likely to seek out loans) and moral hazard (once the loan is made, the borrower might engage in activities that are not in the best interest of repaying the loan). Lenders figured this out years ago, which is why Equifax, Experian, and Transunion now collect borrowing and repayment activities for all of your trade lines.

To make heads or tails of that information, your credit history is fed into a model that scores your credit-worthiness. Based on this number, lenders decide if to give you credit, how much, and at what rate. If you ask Andrew, who spends his work days lending people money, these guidelines are sometimes more flexible than others. Many lenders will discard outliers or jack up the rate; what makes Andrew so good at his job is validating and challenging the number a model spits back at him, not being a slave to it.

While Prosper runs the credit history of lenders and assigns them a score, their model is subject to interpretation. Kevin from Rateladder is using both the credit information and the data he gets on all Prosper lenders on a nightly basis to build his own scoring model for those borrowers. He is, in essence, trying to reduce the information asymmetry between Prosper borrowers and lenders to relieve moral hazard and adverse selection.

The big three credit bureaus aren't letting just anyone have access to their information, which in this case can be to your detriment. Your beacon score goes up or down based on what zip code you live in, even though you're the same borrower you were before you moved. In the Prosper model, not only does the Invisible Hand decide what you're interest rate is going to be, but lenders have the ability to make better decisions about what risk you are by popping the hood and looking at all the data available, not just a number that comes out of the hopper.

In my book, that's pretty fucking cool.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Old friends, big plans, fat ass, new haunts, huge hangover



In the way back machine (circa 1989), Margaret [photo far right] and I made up the entire lower-brass section in band. We had a strange connection growing up (besides the time she made me do push ups in Jazz Band as a token of my undying affection). Our parent's phone numbers were identical (except the last two numbers transposed). Her mother and my aunt were roommates in college. Her dad was my gym coach in 5th and 6th grade, then again (through a fluke) in 9th and 10th grades.

I got a Facebook invitation from Margaret that her band (TV/TV) was playing Saturday (3/10/2007) Fat Baby, just a block from Teany. I already had plans for a long weekend in New York after spring break, so I decided to switch my trip to see her show.

Mike H., another friend from high school, also lives in New York. I visited him one weekend during DJ school in December 2005, and we stay in touch. I planned to give him a heads-up about this trip, but ended up switching the dates and forgot. I sent him a text message from Ellis Island Saturday afternoon that I was going to Margaret's party at 9:00pm (EST). I found out from Margaret during the day that her parents would be there also (my aunt's college roommate and my junior high and high school gym coach).

Mike met me in front, and we caught the end of TV/TV's set. For me, the highlight of the evening was talking to Margaret's dad, Coach L. Mike was talking to him when I walked over, and Mike re-introduced me. He was like, "You're Amy's brother, right?" [Yeah] "Hey you used to be a fat-ass. You must have lost what? A hundred pounds?" Coach and I had a really good conversation, and Mike's comment (to paraphrase) was that Coach L. always was the self-proclaimed expert on all fitness-related matters.

I'm always curious what kind of impression I might have left on people a decade or so ago; I used to be even more sarcastic than I am today, if you can imagine that.

Mike and I wrapped up at Fat Baby and moved on to Banc to meet his sister. Several of his friends joined us, including two guys named Justin. I was told that one was "white Justin" and one was "black Justin", though I preferred "bald Justin" and "follicular Justin". One of Mike's friends fancies himself quite the player, except he was working the ugliest girl in the room. When the Justins pointed it out to me, the first thing out of my mouth was, "Wow...if she blew me in my car I'd be at DMV the next morning getting new license plates. I'd want no way for her to track me down." Gross.

We closed out our tabs and ventured to Brass Monkey in the Meat Packing district. I didn't realize that we were in the Meat Packing district, but as soon as we walked in the door I realized that we were in a meat market.

Sometime around 3:00am (EDT) I called it quits and went back to my hotel. I made sure my clocks were adjusted for DST, set my alarm, and passed out. I woke up three minutes before the alarm at 9:42am in a panic that I had somehow overslept. When I realized that I was fine for time, and the adrenaline dissipated, my hangover smacked me upside the head. Holy pounding head.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Bodies: The Exhibition



I didn't make it to Bodies: The Exhibition on my last trip to New York, so I made it a point to check it out this trip. I think the Wikipedia entry best describes it:

"BODIES... The Exhibition" is a controversial exhibit currently showing in Orlando, New York City, Las Vegas, Miami, Amsterdam, and Seattle (with previous showings in Tampa and other cities) showcasing preserved human bodies dissected to display bodily systems.

The museum is set up so that one starts at the skeletal system, and more layers (muscular, nervous, circulatory, digestive, respiratory, urinary, and reproductive systems; as well as fetal development and the treated body) are added in succesive rooms. Containing about twenty bodies in total, each exhibition uses real human bodies that have been preserved permanently by a process called "polymer preservation" so that they will not decay. This exhibition is organized by the publicly traded corporation, Premier Exhibitions Incorporated.

Some of the specimens are arranged so that they are performing activities such as playing basketball or conducting an orchestra. Along the way are other displays showing a human intestine stretched out, the polluted lung of a smoker, and all of the arteries and veins without the body itself. One section includes several fetuses in various stages of development. All of the fetuses died due to miscarriages.

All of the bodies were either unclaimed, unidentified, or donated to science, and obtained through the Dalian Medical University Plastination Laboratories in China.




Mary saw it with her boyfriend in Las Vegas, and I learned that there was an exhibition in New York City while listening to Opie & Anthony a few weeks ago.

I already knew most of the biology that the you're taught as you walk through the exhibition. What was amazing were the cross sectional exhibits: there is a man whose cut down the middle across his body, and his front skin is separate from his front skeleton, then his organs, then his rear skeleton and his rear skin. Another shows a woman who is cut in half down the middle, and what organs are on the right versus on the left.

Amazing also were the plastinations of blood vessles: in a case were all the arteries and veins of the lungs, liver, arms, legs, kidneys, and entire body. There were all kinds of diseased lungs, hearts, etc. I really liked the preservation of all the fetuses, including those with birth defects. There was one of the abdomen of a woman with the fetus inside. An Arab man and his girlfriend chose to skip that exhibit (as the sign on the wall suggests you consider before moving in that room). The plastinized vaginas looked too much like a pocket pussy.

There is this controversy about where the bodies came from, and how the owner of the exhibition is a for-profit company. The offset to that, which I didn't like, was the preachy way it tries to get you to live better and not be shocked on your own. Next to the diseased lungs is a box where you can throw your cigarettes into. There is a full sized preservation of a big fat woman in cross sections so you can see all her fatty-fatty and think to your fat self "shit, I need to go on a diet". People don't need to be prompted, we know you're a bunch of whores.

At the same time, I went through the whole exhibition in 40 minutes. At $27.50 for adults, I thought it was a little pricey. For a few bucks more, an Asian massage parlor could have given my body an oily exhibition.

Playing Tourist: Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island


DSC01684.JPG, originally uploaded by jweisen.

I was able to tour Ellis Island this trip, unlike in 2004 when my sister wanted to get right back to Battery Park ("I didn't realize we'd be gone this long!" she said after the 30 minute ferry ride to the island).

I learned quite a bit: that the island was originally a fort, that most of its landmass is artificial fill, and that it exemplifies a true government effort: underestimated need, invested huge amounts of money to make it bigger, then it wasn't needed anymore.

Anyway, my pictures are here. Enjoy.

Friday, March 09, 2007

What you see is what you get

On the drive up to NYC, I was passed by a NYC Yellow Cab with Jersey plates. Odd. I also noticed the medallion number on the top and the side was X'ed out with black electrical tape.

As traffic ebbed and flowed, I ended up getting next to this cab and saw the driver was a 60's white/Jewey looking woman with crazy hair and her dachshund in the back of the cab.

...

So you wonder: is this a real cab driver taking a dog someplace? Is this a woman who bought a cab from a NYC cab company after its life as a cab was over? If so, why is she shuttling her tiny little dog around in the back of it like the dog is a passenger?

Science needs to find this woman, and study her.

NYC for the Weekend



I'm off to play tourist.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

My coworkers add their bickering to the Google body of knowledge

A (relatively new) coworker of mine decided to setup a Google notebook to "foster collaboration" on a project we're working on. I had only been to it once when another coworker on the project told me to check in again:



If you click on the image, you can read the...discussion...that is taking place about templates.

When the human race is gone one day, and the aliens scour the Google for the sum of human experience, I hope they choose this exchange to exemplify our entire culture.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

iTunes 7.1 includes new Cover Flow

A handful of point releases ago, Apple added the ability for iTunes to retrieve your album artwork from their servers if it wasn't already embedded in your MP3 (which, chances were, it wasn't). It would seem the point of this is to make a feature like Cover Flow, which is how you actually look for CDs in real life, much more valuable:




For these screen shots, I used my purchased music because most of the music I ripped from my own CDs look like this in Cover Flow:




Cool new feature? Yes.

Life altering experience? Not so much.

I suspect the next generation of iPods will probably have a Cover Flow interface though.

"How I File This Nonsense"


Much like I see inside of Blogger, now you can see all the label categories and number of posts in each by scrolling down on the right hand side.

I'm sure you can rest easy now...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

How Many Frequent Flier Miles Does That Upgrade Cost?



From Consumerist via WCCO:
An off-duty Northwest Airlines employee was arrested after a woman on a flight from Seattle complained that the man had ejaculated on her.


And all this time, my preferred airline has been British Air. While this particular perk doesn't appeal to me, if I were an infertile couple looking to get pregnant, this seems like an inexpensive and hassle-free way to acquire some Grade-D sperm; kid will at least grow up to be a baggage handler.

Monday, March 05, 2007

This Odd Brunch


Fitness and food go hand-in-hand. Meredith and I swim, then we eat. Mike and I work out, then we eat.

I asked for an Entertainment Book for Christmas to try and get over my irrational phobia of coupons. After working out on Sunday, Mike and I consulted the book and decided to try lunch at T.T. Reynolds; the only problem being that T.T. Reynolds isn't open for lunch on the weekend.

We decided that we'd try The Firehouse Grill since they were open and had "grill" in the name. The service was excellent, and the food was very good, but it turned out that Mike and I were the only two people who didn't know everybody else in the place, and on stage Carol Gaylor and Bruce Katsu were performing popular songs.

::scratches head::

The whole experience was surreal, and I do plan to do it again, but there should be some kind of warning on the outside: "You meal may include a Sheryl Crow cover".

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Text Messaging Gods are Concerned by my Absence

That didn't take long.

As previously mentioned, I switched to Verizon last March after breaking a few T-Mobile phones. While I've been pleased with Verizon's service, customer service, and pricing, I fucking hate this phone.

Which isn't a problem anymore, since it shit and died today.

I received a text message from George that I replied to without any trouble, then opened the phone to send a text message and the screen was frozen. I turned the phone off and on, screen still fucked. I took out the battery, screen still fucked.

It lights up, it shows that ugly-ass background I picked, but the screen never updates again.

Since Verizon kindly let me out of my contract, and Cingular/AT&T Wireless updated their list of phones that are eligible for equipment insurance, I ordered a Sony W810i from Amazon. I broke one of my personal rules about signing a 2-year contract, but the cancellation fee is $175 and they're paying me $50 to take the phone. It's cheaper to take the phone and the payoff and give them the finger in a year than to get a 1-year contract.

This also means that Andrew and my parents are no longer free to talk to at any time, but George, Joey, and Mary are. Mike never was, and as long as he's with Sprint he never will be. :p

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Aww...my first CMS Bug

How adorable!



Something tells me if their Q/A didn't test subsite creation, that this won't be my last bug report and bug fix.

Domain resale as arbitrage?

Two weeks ago, I didn't know what arbitrage meant. It's a really fancy word for a simple concept that makes my boy parts go up and down:

When used by academics, an arbitrage is a transaction that involves no negative cash flow at any probabilistic or temporal state and a positive cash flow in at least one state; in simple terms, a risk-free profit.

The classic example of arbitrage is the invention of strips by Merrill Lynch. In the olden days, there were simple treasury securities (like a savings bond, where you held the instrument until maturity then were repaid your principle plus interest), and there were coupon bonds (where a bond had tear-off pieces of paper on it that you turned in periodically to get your interest paid, then at the end your principle was repaid). What ML realized about coupon bonds was that one instrument could be turned into two: zero coupon bonds and strips. They could buy a coupon bond, sell the interest repayments to one type of customer, and sell the future principle repayment to another type of customer. By turning one financial instrument into two, they were able to make a profit with no chance of loss (after all, if nobody buys the bond, you still get the coupon repayments and the principle repayment).

Literally risk free profit.

I was reading an article on Rateladder that referred to this post, where he discusses domain resale:

I read an article in a leading national magazine on buying domains for use as AdSense sites (arbitrage between the cheap misspelled AdWords and the expensive correctly spelled AdSense ads.) As I dug deeper I discovered domain parking and resale. I briefly looked into this business, but decided it was way too much ongoing work and that all the best domains are snapped up by expert resellers with automatic scripts. Still this experiment lasted about 2 weeks and I ended up with some domains (like 10 when you combine with my other inactive domains.)

None of the domains generate a huge amount of traffic or revenue but one or two were better than the rest. Cut to yesterday. My 3rd best domain (by traffic) was purchased for the asking price of $250. Sweet!!! I paid $25 in commission to Sedo where I have my domains parked and suddenly this 2 week experiment was profitable. I just transferred $225 from paypal to my bank and initiated a $225 transfer to prosper. Next week the money will be in play.

I don’t know if I will sell any more domains or make any money from the parking, but it was an interesting experiment.

I think it's an interesting market that many people take advantage of, but is it really risk-free profit? Does it meet the criteria for arbitrage without hind sight being 20-20?

His post doesn't include a reference to the original article, but the only way I see arbitage is if the company redirects the advertising dollars they would otherwise use for misspelled Adsense keywords to the purchase of those domains. But arbitage is about a no risk investment, and my example shifts money away from a marketing expense (Adsense ads) to investment in an asset (and really, does GAAP consider domains an intangible asset or a prepaid, since you have to re-buy those fuckers every 1-10 years?).

I'm glad Rateladder made some money, but I'm sure George could introduce him to someone whose luck hasn't fared so well.