Happy Towel Day

Hooray, it's Towel Day…oh, you don't know? May 25th celebrates Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. But why a towel, you may ask? From the "official" Towel Day site:

To quote from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough. More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

So bring your towel with you today. It is in your best interests.

nil

Some Thoughts on Sports

It has now been several months since the basketball season ended for my JV team. In that time I have reflected a lot on how the season went, how I performed as a coach, the ups, the downs, and the middles. I have a sheet of ideas that were written for the challenges I was facing during the season, but reading over them today, I find they are applicable to any sports scenario and thought I'd share them in a more public setting. Punctual: exact, precise, accurate, scientific, prompt, on time, well-timed, instantaneous, constant, steady, systematic, meticulous, detailed, instant, thorough, immediate, direct, precise in observing time, appointments, promises, duties. Patient: calm endurance of hardships, enduring or waiting without complaining (acknowledging what is right and waiting), perservering, diligent, single in purpose, persistent, even-tempered, peaceful, constant, poised, quiet, still calm, unflappable, submission to the divine will, composed, not impetuous, not discontented, expectant. Diligent: Constant, careful effort, perserveringm meticulous, steadfast. Keeping pace with highest purpose. Nothing is conclusive about a wrong picture. You are never safer than you are right now in Christian Science. Mortal mind would try to take you off-guard. Be alert to God's goodness. You are always in the court of Spirit. There's only one outcome - good. Every moment is the moment (staying in the now). Principle: The foundation from which an action or series of actions spring; a rule by which one directs one's life and actions. That from which a thing proceeds. Procedure: That which springs forth from fundamental principles; Exact in purpose. Skill: The familiar knowledge of any art or science, united with readiness and dexterity in execution or performance, or in the application of the art or science to practical purposes. Technique: A means or method of achieving one's purpose, especially skillfully. A manner of artistic exectution of relation to formal details. You are there to witness uninterrupted harmony.

Congrats Mr. and Mrs. Fendon!

Another friend is married. Pictures can be found on my Flickr account. The wedding was absolutely gorgeous, completely harmonious, and, best of all, had great food! Pretty much you are guaranteed a beautiful wedding when it takes place on a mountain like Mammoth, at sunset, and with a beautiful bride. The pictures on the mountain top were not easy to take. 11,000 feet and wind chill dropping temperatures well below freezing do not facilitate comfortable picture taking, but they certainly look great afterwards. I wish the new Fendon family well in their endeavors, and I will be taking them up on staying at their place in Mammoth Lakes!

Green Driving Litmus Test

Great article highlighting the success of introducing hybrid SUVs into San Francisco and New York's cab fleets. From the article:

Fuel savings between $20 and $31 over the traditional, full-size sedan cabs per 150- to 300-mile shifts. Air conditioning cost on hot days: $5 a shift, about half the sedan-version cost. Brakes are lasting twice as long. The reason: The electric engine acts as a second braking system, taking much of the load off the conventional friction brakes, says Tom Watson, Ford Hybrid Electric Vehicle Propulsion System engineering manager, Sustainable Mobility Technologies and Hybrid Programs. Several water pumps blew at the 50,000-mile mark, a situation that's been rectified, say Watson and San Francisco cab company owners. No legroom complaints from customers, who seem delighted by the novelty of the hybrid and by doing the right thing for the planet.

Cool. I hope that this kind of performace continues well past the 100,000 mile mark. Can't wait to be able to afford one myself.

Kewl

As the summer heat approaches, I wonder how our little townhome is going to fare with regards to the internal temperature. We discovered early on in the winter that the central heating unit, while maintaining a comfortable temperature, also wore a nice little hole in the bank account with the energy it consumed. Now that mild temperatures are the norm, the electric bill has dropped $80 on account of the unit being off. This is obviously a good situation for all involved and I would like to continue minimizing my consumption of power. So how does one stay cool? I want to add one of these to my place but I don't think the property owners would be too happy. I also think I would regret the decision when temperatures dropped below 50 or so. Still, the next time I'm living in a desert-like ecosystem, I will be adding a windcatcher to the homestead.

Newsiness

Oh snap! No posts in over a month. What could I possibly have been doing? For starters, I have been coding the last week and a half at an average of 13 hours a day. We have a pretty significant project due in a little over a week which coincides with a major refactoring effort of the codebase. The refactoring took me a week an a half while Gabriel, Ben, and Steve worked on new features and infrastructure enhancements. The next couple of days should see the melding of those efforts into the refactored codebase. The other consumer of my time has been the girlfriend. The day off I take each week is devoted entirely to her and nary a bit is processed or email read during that day. It's not that she's a Luddite or anything, but she definitely helps me reconnect with my non-geek side. Like Saturday, we are having a barbeque at my place then going to a professional soccer game. It's a no-computer day in the midst of coding insanity, and I, for one, am all for it. As May approaches, I find myself gearing up for wedding season. No, no crashing; I'm actually invited to these. Three are to take place in the next two months while a fourth occurs in November. I think I am fine with the weddings; its when the friends start popping out kids that I'll have some adjusting to do. On a geekier note, I found a site today that I think has some potential for being quite helpful in making me a better programmer. Developing Programmers is a site that dedicates itself to giving resourse, articles, tools, etc, that help a budding programmer make the transition from being a coder to being a professional programmer. I realize that I am being paid to code right now, and in a loose sense that makes me a professional. I am, however, not on par with the creme de la creme of programmers, and I want to be. I know its not an overnight process, and this site seems to be a resource that will help with that journey. The cool thing about the journey - it never really ends. No programmer knows it all, has done it all, seen it all; there's always more to learn and more to experience. That's why coding is so fun. It takes you places, rather than being a destination itself. Take, for example, my very limited experience. I've worked for a college, a "secret shopper" business, a multi-national publisher, and an association of realtors. Those are some pretty disparate fields and yet all needed code written. I am not claiming to have grokked all there is to know about how each realm operates, but my jobs have exposed me to the fields and I am more conscious of how those fields affect various aspects of life. What keeps it fresh is not knowing where the next job will come from, what industry it will be in. That is exciting. Anyway, progress and change are constants, and when you realize that, it's not so scary…

Dropping off the Grid

Make no mistake, the time, energy, and resources needed to ween the United States off its dependance on oil are somewhat prohibitive to that occurance happening anytime soon. However, it is heartening to see other countries figuring it out. Case in point, Brazil.

What Won't I Do For Sushi

I had sushi for lunch a couple days ago with Ben and Mark. Now, I love sushi, and pretty much do what I can to eat it whenever possible. Not having had breakfast, I was particularly hungry. I finished my roll in record time and, having not silenced my tummy, began eyeing one of the last two pieces left on Ben's plate. Surely a deal can be struck where I could partake of at least one of those morsels. There was.

The Bet

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The Prize

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I'll take that bet

[[113750709_9c64250e5a_s.jpg]]]] Once the wasabi entered my mouth, I broke it into three more managable sub-blobs. Each one, on spreading out over my tongue and hitting my throat, felt like a kick in the crotch by an NFL placekicker. The upside was that the discomfort lasted only moments. The downside was that it still felt like getting kicked in the crotch. After much coughing, reddening of the face, and assuring a fellow patron that I was okay, the wasabi was down, the previously eaten sushi remained internal, and I began to eye my prize. Not fazed by what I had just done, I promptly dipped the morsel into my soy-wasabi mixture, thereby eliciting another kick-to-the-crotch sensation, though this time only with the power of a 1st grader. I must say, it was well worth it.

SSH In Without A Password

Want to connect to a remote server without having to type in those annoying passwords? Have you generated your public and private keys? That is a must my friend.

$ ssh-keygen -t dsa -f filename

This will create two files: 'filename', your private key, and 'filename.pub', your public key. Store the private key away (probably $HOME/.ssh) and put your public key on the remote server. Assuming you put the private key in the $HOME/.ssh directory, you need to run

$ ssh-add $HOME/.ssh/filename

and this will put your new key into ssh's knowledge.

IMPORTANT When prompted, do not enter a passphrase, or else you will need this passphrase to use the key, thus negating the purpose of the key for password-less connection. Do not use this key pairing when you need the added security of a passphrase. You have been warned. **

Now we need to setup the remote machine. This is fairly trivial using the ssh-copy-id command.

$ ssh-copy-id -i $HOME/.ssh/filename.pub user@remotemachine.com

The command should return with a success message and an ssh command to try your new key out with. If this doesn't work, RTFM!

Minesweeper

With all the to-do and hub-bub with regards to World Pi Day (see post below), I have been on a math kick. Now, back in my youth…hmm…back in my college days (not too long ago) I got pretty fanatic about Minesweeper. I quickly found that Beginner and Intermediate were for n00bs like Boink and moved on to Expert. Having solved Expert countless times, I found myself recognizing patterns faster and found the increase in pattern recognition to correlate positively with lower completion times. Alas, I burned out prior to breaking the 100 second threshold. However, I recently (read: minutes ago) came across a website that showed me that my Minesweeper foray could have developed into a $1,000,000 pursuit, had I realized that Minesweeper is NP-complete. It was at this point in the article (a good two headings in) that things went really over my head, but the guy claims Minesweeper to be the key one of the most important proofs (or disproofs (a word???)) in the current mathematical world!!! Oh snap! Is he right? Who knows…read it for yourself and find out.