Monthly Archives: March 2005

Random flickr photos

I wrote up a bit of code for Sooz|http://www.sooz.com/ so that she could display random flickr|http://flickr.com/ photos on her page. I thought other folks might be interested in this, so here’s the link to the source:

random flickr photos|http://prwdot.org/random_flickr_photos.phps

The script uses MagpieRSS|http://magpierss.sourceforge.net/ and some PHP functions to grab a flickr feed, randomly select some photos, and display them. It should be fairly straightforward if you want to customize it for your site.

About Jonas

Inspired by Will|http://pulchersentio.prwdot.org/002461.html and the general meme that’s been going around|http://www.livejournal.com/users/qwantz/28155.html, I’ve taken a song and rendered it into outline form. Source lyrics: Sing365.com|http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/My-Name-Is-Jonas-lyrics-Weezer/.

  • About Jonas:
    • carrying the wheel
    • thankful for all you’ve shown us
  • Jonas’ requests:
    • sit next to me
    • pour yourself some tea
  • Jonas’ grandmother:
    • at one point made tea just like the tea Jonas is offering
    • made tea for when Jonas couldn’t find sleep
    • lived during a better time
    • was located in a den
  • The den:
    • Has been vacated
    • Story of vacating the den to be told
  • Choo-choo train:
    • Departure: on time
    • Cost of ticket: your mind
    • Length of trip, according to driver: all the way
    • Willing to pay said cost: yes
  • About Weepel:
    • has box full of your toys
    • toys are out of batteries
    • toys are able to make noise without batteries
  • Tell me what to do:
    • Now the tank is dry.
    • Now this wheel is flat.
    • And you know what else?
  • Mail received today:
    • Words of deep concern
    • From my little brother.
  • News from little brother:
    • The building’s not goin’ as he planned.
    • The foreman has injured his hand.
    • The dozer will not clear a path.
    • The driver swears he learned his math.
    • The workers are goin’ home.
  • Other notes:
    • Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Boston Weblogger Meetup Tonight

The Boston Weblogger Meetup|http://blog.meetup.com/3/events/4246334/ is tonight at 7 p.m., Christopher’s, Porter Square, Cambridge. I’ll be there.

Notes on the evening In convenient, easy to write, easy to parse bulleted form.

Getting to the meeting:

  • Left home at around 6:05 p.m.
  • Lots of rain and poor visibility made driving slow. Route 128 South was packed. I-93 South was better. Route 16 to Alewife was fine. Tractor trailers throw lots of water up from the road.
  • Alewife station is very leaky. I spotted at least 12 buckets on the floor to catch water dripping from the ceiling. On the upside, at least the buckets give you some idea of where water is dripping from, so that you don’t have to get wet.
  • Just missed an inbound train at Alewife, so I had to wait about 10 minutes to catch the next one.
  • Arrived at Porter Square at about 7:15 p.m.

In attendance:

  • ***Brad|http://www.bradsearles.com/***
  • ***Steve G.|http://www.stevegarfield.com/***
  • Clair Degutis
  • Donna
  • ***Sooz|http://www.sooz.com/***
  • ***Steve W.|http://www.tiac.net/~sw/***
  • ***Jack|http://www.jackhodgson.com/***
  • Guy who wasn’t on the RSVP List, and therefore I don’t have a reference for his name.

My table mates and their food:

  • Me: English Burgah (bacon cheeseburger on an English muffin), pub fries, water with lime. Delicious.
  • Sooz: Roquefort Burgah, pub fries, can’t recall the drink
  • Steve: Fettucini with Salmon, glass of red wine
  • Brad (for a bit): can’t recall the drink
  • Mr. No RSVP (after Brad left): Newcastle Ale (Note to self: remembered name of drink, but didn’t remember name? Try harder next time!)

Conversation Topics:

  • Omega-3 Fatty acids and animal testing (Re: Steve’s choice of salmon)
  • ***WhizSpark|http://www.whizspark.com/*** – event planning and interaction
  • ***Peter Caputa|http://worcester.typepad.com/pc4media/*** (creator of WhizSpark) and the far-too-large graphic on the top of his TypePad blog.
  • Sooz’s ***new office space|http://www.sooz.com/archives/2005/01/office_space.php*** in Somerville.
  • Use of content management systems for non-blogging purposes (i.e., for actual content management). Recommended ***WordPress|http://wordpress.org/*** for its ease of installation, small size, “Pages” feature. Use of CMS’s as a place to keep track of ‘stuff.’
  • Blogging has created a new standard for website design and development. Similar to when word processing made typeface printing accessible to home users, systems like Blogger and TypePad have made it possible to create a quasi-professional looking site with a minimum of technical expertise. Those who want to excel must work harder to find ways to differentiate themselves from the standard-template crowd.

Heading Home

  • Left the meetup at around 8:50 p.m.
  • Walked past the commuter rail train at the Porter Square station while heading down to the subway. That train is really, really loud in the small, enclosed tunnel that it pulls through. Deafening, really.
  • Drive home was much easier than the drive down, but no less rainy.
  • Arrived home at around 9:50 p.m.

Easter Weekend

Easter weekend saw Becky and I traveling separately, but ultimately ending up in the same place.

Becky left during the day on Friday to visit Gramma Q, and then headed out to Townsend for the night. I stayed at home and had some bachelor time, in which I attempted to write a PHP|http://www.php.net/ flickr|http://www.flickr.com/ photo uploader as an excercise. I never quite got it working, but it was certainly an educational experience. Thus far nobody on the flickr developers’ mailing list can figure out why it’s not working. If anyone wants to take a look, the source is available here|http://prwdot.org/flickr_upload.phps.

On Saturday, I took the train in to Boston and did a bit of photography|http://gallery.prwdot.org/boston_20050326?page=1. Primarily I took photos in and around the Boston Public Library|http://www.bpl.org/ – a beautiful, old building in Copley Square. I also had lunch at Taco Bell|http://www.tacobell.com/ with my cousin Mark, and got to check out the iZotope|http://www.izotope.com/ offices in Kendall Square. Very cool. In the afternoon, I took a train from Boston out to Ayer (about a one-hour ride). Ken picked me up there (it’s 15-20 minutes from there to Townsend) and we headed to the Lowe house.

The rest of the weekend I spent with the Lowes. We had dinner Saturday night at Panda Wok in Townsend, and on Sunday we went to Easter services at Townsend Congregational, and then had a delicious Easter dinner at the Lowe house, prepared by Dianne. Becky and I left late in the afternoon, but not before we discovered that the horn on her Golf wasn’t working – a sure-fire way to fail the state inspection that she has to get this week. I had the idea to salvage the horn from the old VW Cabriolet sitting in their lot, and Ken did the actual grunt work of hooking up the wires and, er, bungee-ing the assembly into place. This is just a temporary fix until we can scavenge an actual replacement Golf horn. Thank goodness for the stockpile of old car stuff at the Lowes’!

Now it’s yet another busy week at work, and just four weeks to go until our Russia departure date! Our visa applications are still at the Russian Consulate – they take “no less than 8-10 business days to process”. Since the Consulate received them on Friday the 18th, that means the earliest possible date they would send them out is this Wednesday the 30th – if everything goes at top speed. I’m guessing we’ll probably get them back by the middle of next week, but we’ll see.

Consolidation for Compact Craftiness and Computeryness

When Peter and I moved in together we filled the second bedroom in our apartment with computer equipment. His Mac, my PC and all of their accessories. At the time that was the necessary thing to do. He needed his computer to program on and I used my PC to handle the piles of gradschool homework I had then.

Since I finished school, however, our need for the PC has waned. I still like having it around because I like the Word Processor and it has all of my “stuff” on it, but I really haven’t used it much lately. I much prefer the laptop in front of the tv 🙂

So, after a while of trying to figure out a good solution to this problem we finally came up with one. In my words, “wouldn’t it be nice if there was an easy way to hook up both our computers to one moniter/keyboard/mouse?”

In Peter’s words,”You can do that. You just need a KVM.” Okay, then! Let’s do it.

This afternoon our new KVM was delivered and Peter set to work setting it all up. Now we have two computer towers connected to one monitor and keyboard; all combined on one desk. Very neat, clean and compact. It is easy to switch from the Mac desktop to the PC and back again. So if I need to get info from or use the PC it is just a few keystrokes away. Nice.

Another added benefit to the new situation is that we now have a completely empty desk. My greedy little eyes quickly recognized that this space would a perfect new home for my sewing machine. I’ve longed for a permanent home for my trusty 1950’s Singer for a while now and it seems to be pretty cozy in its new home. I know that I’ll use it much more now that I don’t have to heft it up and down off the kitchen table every time I have a project.

Peter took some photos of the new setup|http://gallery.prwdot.org/kvm.

AT LAST!

Sorry for the title in all caps, but that’s how I feel about this:

ppp|ZERO|ppp

This is the snapshot of our MBNA credit card account, our last remaining high-interest revolving debt. Yep, that’s right… after almost three years of hard work, we’ve finally got that high-interest debt monkey off of our backs.

I was pretty irresponsible with credit during my college years… I had two major credit cards, two store credit cards, and an Apple Loan from MBNA (which I had used to buy my PowerBook, Airport Base Station, and a bunch of other stuff when I realized I could access the credit line using checks). All of my cards and lines of credit were racked up to the max. I would just use them to buy whatever I wanted, without any clear plan on how to pay for everything. I think I realized that I had a problem, but wasn’t willing to deal with it, and I liked all of the stuff that I got with the credit. I just kept paying the minimum payments, and the debt just sat around and accrued interest. It wasn’t until I married Becky that things started to change. Having a financial responsibility to another person was a big wake-up call. With Becky’s help, and some careful planning, we started an aggressive plan for paying off the high interest debt I had accrued. We paid off the highest interest cards first, throwing as much money into the balances every month as we could possibly afford. Becky helped by teaching me to curb my spending habits, taking charge of food and grocery planning, watching for bargains, coupons, and cheap things, and helping enforce a savings plan.

Sure, I do occasionally have those pangs of wanting to go out and buy the latest and greatest gadgets… but I’ve learned that those are pretty irrational, and with some careful planning and budgeting, I have been able to buy some nice stuff without incurring any debt (the new camera, for example). I have also developed a much better ability to be content with what I have. My computers might be 4-5 years old, and they might not be able to run the latest software, but can they do the things I need them to do? Yes, they can.

Now, this doesn’t mean that we’re never going to use our credit card again. A credit card can be useful, as long as it is used responsbily. Don’t carry a balance from month to month. If you do charge something that is more expensive than you can pay within the current billing cycle, pay it off as quickly as possible, and certainly pay more than the minimum payment. Check to see if your card offers any promotional interest rates – for example, if you can get a 0% APR for three months, go ahead and buy that bigger-ticket item, as long as you have a plan to pay it off before the promotional period is over. Otherwise, you are going to be slammed with interest charges.

We do still have a fair amount of student loan debt kicking around. However, the interest rate is pretty low, and we’re on a fixed schedule for paying it off, so it is not as big of a concern. Granted, it is a pretty big chunk of money that we’re paying every month, but the education it helped us attain was well worth it. And of course, now that we’re no longer making huge payments to MBNA, we have the option of sending those funds over into our student loans – or savings accounts or other accounts as desired.

Anyway, this whole thing is really to say a big “Thank You” to Becky, for helping get our spending and debt under control. I don’t know what I’d do without her.

Update I should mention, by way of full disclosure, that we do still have one debt account other than our student loans… this is the credit account that I got through my dentist when I had to get a root canal. But it is 0% interest for a full year, and we do have a solid plan for paying it off, so this won’t cause any problems for us. Besides, it’s good to keep your teeth healthy.

I Heart Bloglines

My “I Heart Bloglines” t-shirt arrived in the mail yesterday, and I proudly wore it to work today. I didn’t get a single comment on it, though. Either everyone already knows about Bloglines|http://www.bloglines.com/, or they don’t care, or they’re too afraid to ask. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I sit facing a computer screen for 90% of the work day, so nobody can see the front of the shirt. Well, here it is:

ggg|grab_bag/P1000608|I Heart Bloglines|ggg

These t-shirts were part of a promotion|http://blog.ask.com/2005/02/welcome_bloglin.html run by Ask Jeeves|http://www.ask.com/, shortly after they acquired Bloglines. Here’s to free stuff!

On Location

Call me a nerd, or whatever you like, but when I’m on a trip somewhere, I make it a point to visit any locations where I know a movie or television show was filmed.

For example, in Spain, we visited the Plaza de Espana|http://gallery.prwdot.org/plaza_de_espana/DSCN1234, a location you might recognize from Star Wars Episode II|http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0121765/. Our San Francisco trip was replete with filming locations, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium|http://gallery.prwdot.org/sfo_day6/DSCN4208, which served as the “Cetacean Institute” in Star Trek IV|http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0092007/, and any number of San Francisco hills, bridges, and other landmarks that were used in Sneakers|http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0105435/.

Russia will be a bonanza for filming locations (departure date is less than five weeks away!). Obviously, we’ll be visiting the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, which was the subject of Russian Ark|http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0318034/. Then there’s The Bourne Supremacy|http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0372183/, which was filmed on location in Moscow. And The Amazing Race, Season 5|http://www.cbs.com/primetime/amazing_race5/ featured a run through Saint Petersburg|http://www.cbs.com/primetime/amazing_race5/show/episode04/destinations.shtml, including locations such as the Hermitage, Battleship Aurora, The Bronze Horseman, and the Anichkov Palace.

Bollywood in Boston

Whatever happened to the good, old fashioned movie-musical? It is alive and well in the latest flick from the creators of “Bend it Like Beckham,” Bride and Prejudice|http://www.brideandprejudicethemovie.com.

Peter and I ventured to the Boston Common Loews theater on Friday night with high hopes. Bride and Prejudice is a remake of sorts of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice with a Bollywood flair to it. All the usual suspects are present and accounted for: well meaning, yet overbearing mom, beautiful sisters, handsome (and free spirited) gentleman, and, of course, Mr. Darcy 🙂

Being a musical, the characters periodically break into song and dance about. (500 points if you can name that paraphrase!) The musical scenes are definately more Bollywood than Broadway. The first song was in Punjabi and it was fabulous. I was hoping that they all would be, but the following songs were in English.

It was a fun, kooky and entertaining movie. Go see it.