Sunday, January 29, 2012

Borgund Stave Church, Norway

I saw this on Reddit today. Pretty incredible building.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Wonder of PHP

One of the sites that I manage is for the Civil Engineering Student Advisory Council, CESAC. I didn't design the site, but I have done improvements over the last couple years. None recently though. I lost motivation to do more, because A, I wasn't getting paid, and B, it seemed like no one was using the site anyway.

Fast forward to several days ago. I was showing one of the new CESAC members the site, since he'll be taking over when I leave in a year. And to put it frankly, he embarrassed me into starting work on it again. So I pulled out my list of things that needed work, and with a couple things that he added, began in on it yesterday and today.

One big thing was the footer. Every page has a footer, with copyright info, and a Page Last Update timestamp. But when the site was designed, the designer decided that it would be a good idea to have future webmasters scroll to the bottom of the webpage every time it was updated, and manually write in the time and date.

When one has to update multiple pages, that gets quite tedious. So first I created an iframe with the footer in it. I then opened every page, deleted the footer, and placed in it the iframe. Took a while, but simple enough. However, that left me with a problem. Unless I wanted it to be a Site Last Updated timestamp instead of page specific, it wouldn't work.

So I pulled out my PHP knowledge. I figured, there has to be a way that PHP can check the date that the current page was last updated. All files, html included, have Date Created and Date Modified information attached. And I was right, PHP can do that. Enter the second problem. I wanted the full page that users were viewing, not the iframe. So the PHP had to find the date modified of the parent document. Not possible.

I started looking for ways around, and finally checked what the referrer is on an iframe. Lo and behold, it's the parent document, every time. So all I had to do was put it together. PHP grabs the full URL of the parent page. Then it cuts off the top part down to just that file name, as well as any folder it's in, then grabs the date modified, and displays it. It won't have to ever be touched again, it's accurate for every page, and if I need to change it, I change one file, and it's fixed for the entire website.

PHP is wonderful.

Friday, January 27, 2012

GOP Primary Status

I called my dad on Wednesday, and told him that he needed to watch the Thursday GOP debate, because it was the last one before the Florida primary. I told him he needed to watch it, because of how significant it would be for the race.

Throughout most of the race, Romney has been the assumed front runner. He's had a default advantage in money and support because of it.

Gingrich on the other hand made his mark with incredible debate performances. Their impact first manifested itself in November as he started rising in the polls. However, it was such a long time before the first Caucus that Romney had plenty of time to use his huge war chest. He spent millions in Iowa and for all practical purposes destroyed Gingrich.

Granted, it was still Iowa, hotbed of religious conservatism, so Santorum tied Romney. But Romney then went on to win New Hampshire, and suddenly things looked inevitable. Then two things happened.

Gingrich got a large donation and had money to fight back in South Carolina. The ads started flying both ways instead of all one, which removed Romney's huge advantage. Second, there were two debates within a week before the SC primary. In both of them, Gingrich dominated, drawing the first and second standing ovation of the campaign debates. Not only did he make himself look great, he made Romney look like a fumbling idiot.

The debates were so close to the primary that Romney didn't have a chance to recover, and suddenly Gingrich won SC in a landslide, and the race isn't over.

Fast forward to Florida. It's a large state, and it's the first Winner Take All, so there's no second place. If Gingrich wins is, then he's truely broken the back of the Romney inevitability, and we're in for the long haul. If Romney wins though, especially if he wins be a large margin, he reestablishes himself. SC was a blip, an anomaly, he'll be able to say.

That's why the debate yesterday was so significant. There were two debates scheduled between South Carolina and Florida. At the first, Gingrich didn't really do poorly, pe say. He just didn't do incredibly well. And Romney did better. Boiled down, it meant Romney won, because he didn't Have to win, he had to tie.

So, Thursday's debate was the last chance Gingrich had to come out swinging. To pound Romney, or hell anyone. And ... it didn't happen. Wolf Blitzer smartly avoided becoming a target, and Romney actually came out swinging harder then anyone. Gingrich responded in kind, they went back and forth, and then Santorum had a great moment where he told them both to shut the fuck up and talk about real issues. (He actually had a pretty great performance in general, as did Ron Paul, but neither of them matter anymore).

And so, Romney has a cleared path to win Florida. And the latest polls are certainly supporting him. He's got a 9 point lead over Gingrich as of yesterday.

I'm going to call the Florida primary for Romney, with Gingrich second, Santorum 3rd, and Ron Paul 4th. Depending on how well Gingrich and Santorum do, one or both will probably drop out at that point. Paul will remain in it for quite a while though.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Good Music!

Yesterday I went through my phone's song ID application, looking each one up on YouTube. Ever since I got a phone with SongID, I use it frequently. Any time I hear a good song on the radio, out comes the phone to save it for later. Not to say that all of them end of being songs I love.

Of this batch, there were quite a few decent songs, but really only one that I really loved. I haven't been much of an Adele fan, but I do love this song.


Dear King George

Your Argument Is Invalid

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gingrich's Mad Debating Skills

I've long been impressed with Newt Gingrich's debating skills. He might have baggage and problems politically, but on a debate stage he's the king. This was demonstrated yet again in Thursday's debate, the last before the South Carolina primary.

In the day or two leading up to the debate, a story had broken regarding Gingrich. According to it, he'd offered his wife the choice of an open marriage or a divorce when she'd discovered he'd been cheating. The moderator for the debate decided that that would be a good topic to open the the debate with.

Not only did Gingrich wipe the floor with the question, he used it to wipe the floor with the moderator as well as the media in general, and really put down the whole topic, rather than letting it fester. Embedded below, it should start at the right time. (8:30 approx).

My question though, is what it set up. As much as he slams the moderator, the question certainly ended up helping him, so in all actuality, he should be thanking them.

I enjoy skill; watching people do things skillfully, no matter what the topic. I posted a video a while back about a guy dancing to dubstep, because he was possibly the best dancer I've ever seen, and just watching someone operating at that level .... I'd never be able to reach it myself, but I can certainly appreciate it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012

McDonalds Going Creative

I dislike advertising in general. The idea of cable TV was that you'd pay for it, and so there would be no commercials. Look how long that lasted. That said though, I do think that sometimes people put enough effort into commercials that they are entertainment in their own right. This has reached a height in the commercials during the Superbowl, but occasionally you'll see a really great one during the rest of the year.

I saw this the other day, and thought it was really interesting. I'm digging the animation style, and the subtlety that is uses. The McDonalds logo isn't shown until the very end, and really the only specific thing they are advertising is apple juice. Yet you get 30 seconds of really cool animation for it. And of course it's in HD on Youtube, which makes it that much better.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

4K, 8K, The Future of TV?

Last fall, I was reading predictions for Black Friday sales, and many were saying that HDTVs would be a big sale item, because they were finally reaching market saturation. Prices have fallen to the several hundred-dollar range, and most people who want one, can get one.

And indeed, Black Friday rolled around, and arguable the biggest sale item was Best Buy’s 42″ 1080p HDTV, for $200. That was the best deal, but there were over 50 over great ones, all below $400.

Read my full article at

Lackluster Posting And Life In General

So I haven't been posting much in the past few weeks. As I mentioned before, I burned my main typing hand, but in all honestu that hasn't big much of an impediment for at least the last week or so. I've also just been very busy, combined with not having much to say.

The semester is starting, I've got new classes. There's been some personal unpleasantness that isn't really blog worthy. I put up more Christmas lights, I bought textbooks, sold textbooks. Reorganized my room and took the big side. ... Not much really. I almost have a full 1000 points in Halo Anniversary, which has involved some really crappy grinding. Makes me realize how much better games have gotten, moving from Halo 1 to Halo Reach.

My new roommate seems pretty cool. Laid back, but really into the stock market, reading, and making his own music. Not terribly social, we haven't talked much yet, but I'll try more before giving up.

Romney won New Hampshire, as expected. Ron Paul was second, as also expected. Huntsman though, was third. Which means, he failed. He tried to do what Santorum did in Iowa, but couldn't get past Ron Paul. Now everyone is turning to South Carolina, which is a more mainstream GOP state. It's almost pretty much over, but if Romney does take SC, then I'll call the race as a Romney victory.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Welcome to The New Year

We're a week in to 2012, and this is my first post. There is a reason for that though. My parents were gifted with a coffee/tea mug that for some reason had metallic glaze on the handle. Not microwavable. However, they forgot about that fact and had it sitting with all their other mugs in a cabinet, and I used it to make tea. I put it in for 40 seconds. 40 seconds, hardly a long time. When it finished, I grabbed the handle to be safe, instead of the main hot glass part. In the time it took me to let go, I burned my hand badly enough that blisters were rising all over it within seconds.

Let me tell you, ice cannot be over rated. I kept the blisters on the inside of my hand on ice for a good 6 hours straight after it happened. Somehow one happened to be on the side of my finger, possibly from when I pulled my hand away. That one didn't get as much ice, and over the past days since it's happened it is distinctly worse. More painful, and just more nasty looking.

But the reason I haven't been blogging is that one of the bigger blisters was on the inside tip of my index finger, making typing difficult. At this point it's still interfering, but not enough to stop me. And there's been so much I missed! The Iowa Caucus! Bachmann dropped out, Perry would have if he didn't have so much money. If he and Gingrich don't have a showing on super Tuesday, it's over for them. And Santorum has to keep up the momentum or he's out.

Damn, I never thought Santorum would be a front runner. One of the candidates who would cause me to vote for Obama...