TIL: Music Festivals

September 22nd, 2013 No comments

This weekend I attended Music Midtown 2013. The music was good, the sound quality and video work was excellent, but there were some downsides that I’m going to enumerate for myself so maybe, possibly, I’ll come back to this before buying tickets to another music festival.

  1. It’s cool to go with a group of people, but don’t insist on hanging with them for every single show, especially when there are multiple stages. Not everyone has the same taste in music.
  2. If there is just a chance of rain, be sure to already have panchos/other rain gear. Man was that field muddy!
  3. It’s nice to hear the music, but you don’t get the vibe of the band if you aren’t near the stage. When there’s an artist you like, get there early and camp it.
  4. If someone forgets their ticket, don’t let them hold up the group who’s made plans to be there on time/early. They can cab down and ride back with you.
  5. If one of your goals is to be drunk throughout the majority of the festival (assuming you have transportation of course), getting drunk beforehand can work quite nicely to be maintained via the overpriced light beers at the festival.
  6. Since there is no need to constantly be with your group every second of the festival, setup regrouping places and times so there’s no worries of “no cell service and can’t find people, now what?”

I’ll add more if I think of more, but those seem to be the big takeaways.

Follow Up With Tom Graves

May 13th, 2013 No comments

Back at the end of April, I contacted Tom Graves (my representative) about how much I disagreed with his CISPA vote. I got a nice long (formulaic) email response from him at the start of May, and have been trying to decide what to do with it until today.

I was first pointed at a Guardian article about how our government has decided to just gather ALL communications by the people in this country. Welcome to the party general media!

I then read through Tom Graves’ response to me more thoroughly and came up with a response I felt needed to be sent (there was an “issue type” selection box that I’m referring to in the first paragraph):

Really this should be under the topic of “Information Security”, but “Telecommunications” will have to do as the issue type. At the end of April, I contacted you regarding your vote in favor of CISPA. While I still disagree with you about what points of that act were concerning to the people you’re supposed to be protecting, you make the following claim in your response to me:

“Like you, I believe each American’s privacy protections should be upheld. As well, I have serious concerns that legislation enabling the federal government to block websites dangerously encroaches upon individuals’ privacy and freedom of speech.”

Should that be the case, you should definitely be fighting against the current data policies that the NSA, FBI, and other security related departments of our government. As highlighted in this Guardian story from earlier this month, the battle to maintain our individual privacy has already been lost: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/04/telephone-calls-recorded-fbi-boston Even though signing petitions and sending emails typically does nothing for we the people, I implore you to help us regain our innate privacy. Just because it exists in a previously unimagined medium by our forefathers doesn’t mean that the government is exempt from upholding the fourth amendment.

— Update —

Just saw a rather related article to the above privacy concerns: http://www.thoughtcrime.org/blog/saudi-surveillance/

Disgust & Rust

April 20th, 2013 1 comment

Am I actually returning to blogging after over a year from doing it? We’ll see.

Why am I riled up? CISPA passing the House.

What did I do “about” it/in response? Wrote them an angry letter (thinking of this).

So how was my angry letter to my representative (Tom Graves)? Enjoy!

I would like to state my great distaste in your decision to support CISPA today. CISPA is an affront to the human right to privacy as well as a slap in the face to anyone who still believed that this country cared about them at all.

In my eyes, CISPA is an obvious violation of the 4th amendment, but also puts power into the governments’ hands to ignore the 1st, 5th, 6th, and 7th amendments. Just because the internet is “new” doesn’t mean that our constitution can be ignored.

In the wild (or rather, likely) event that you don’t know what CISPA actually does, please read posts like http://thoughtsonliberty.com/its-time-to-unplug-the-house-votes-on-cispa-today to see how you’ve managed to fail this country.

Thanks and enjoy the rest of your last term representing this constituency.

Catching Up & Hackintosh

September 3rd, 2011 2 comments

So, as usual, I fell behind with blog posts. On the bright side though, I finally have some things WORTH talking about! Developments since my last post include:

  • My new job
  • Adopting kittens
  • Building a hackintosh machine

Since I am going to refrain from posting too much about my job (the people I work with are pretty cool and the development I do is a lot of fun), that leaves kitties and hackintosh machine. They have both happened around the same time (the last few weeks), but while the kittens have only given me scratches and continued to be ridiculously adorable (and obnoxious little brats), my hackintosh build has consumed a LOT of my free time for the last 2 weeks.

In this post, I’ll go over the specs and how I decided on them. In the next post I’ll go over HOW I went about installing everything and the ridiculous number of headaches I ran into in the process.

The Build

My initial choices were to build a computer from scratch by purchasing the pieces from Newegg.com and other computer part sellers, buy a prebuilt machine (for much more money) from someone like HP, Dell, or your choice of a typical gaming rig builder. Fortunately (and unfortunately) I found the site cyberpowerpc.com who allows you to customize a build’s parts with Newegg prices. As an added bonus, I was able to catch their back to school special (which I’ve learned this weekend is not QUITE as good as the Labor Day Weekend discounts, but oh well), knocking off 5% with a bunch of mail-in-rebates (which I will be sending in this week now that the machine is working). I knew that I didn’t want to deal with the hassles of a water cooling setup (accidentally melting your CPU because you have an air bubble in the lines doesn’t sound like fun to me), so I started by finding cyberpower’s lowest priced package so I could get my hands on their heat sink cooled machines. Now, be aware that cyberpower caters to the gamer market, so all the builds were slated for the latest in processors and graphics cards. After doing a lot of research (though apparently not QUITE enough, as will be discussed in that later post), I decided on the following build that would be hackintosh + windows (dual boot) compatible.

  • Gigabyte X58A-UD3R motherboard
  • Intel i7-960 (3.2 GHz, LGA 1366) processor
  • Nvidia GTX 560 (1 GB) video card
  • 750 GB Western Digital hard drive
  • 6 GB of memory
  • Coolermaster 700W power supply
  • Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 full tower gaming case
Additional packaged items:
  • Thermaltake headset
  • Thermaltake mouse
  • Thermaltake keyboard
  • Surge protector
  • A couple game coupons
Suggested add-ons:
  • Normal shipping
  • Professional wiring
  • Enhanced packaging solution (foam inside the machine to better secure the components during shipping)
Additional purchases from Newegg:
  • Kingston 96 GB SSD
  • 6 GB of memory (totaling at 12 GB of memory in the machine)

Yes, this did not come out to any cheap shopping list. It’s a good thing I was buying this as a birthday gift for myself!!!

Categories: Computer, Inspired Tags:

Here we go again

March 9th, 2011 No comments

So apparently I suck at keeping up with my blog posts. I even have recurring reminder tasks on my calendar. The problem of course is me getting into the habit of deleting the backlog of tasks that I haven’t done. And this fact actually brings me to write a blog post.

Workflow is something that many people struggle with creating, and then sticking to it. I know that while I have my system, I am not perfect with it and still typically end up doing only the tasks that I remember off the top of my head, failing to check my task list thoroughly first. I TRY to follow the Get Things Done model, and even use a GTD app called The Hit List, which is pretty solid even though it is STILL in beta (has been the entire time I’ve been using it since the Macheist sale I picked it up in). I also use a program called BusyCal for my calendar because it syncs with Google Calendar natively (which is awesome!). Independently, both of these applications are great, but I think my main difficulty with checking them each day is the issue of having to check BOTH of them each day.

What I would LOVE to do is sync the apps to each other with some Applescript! The unfortunate part is that while The Hit List has some Applescript support, BusyCal has VERY little. If BusyCal had the correct interface, then I could easily force THL to record tasks in BusyCal, making it so that I can see things in a calendar view for my todo items. The alternative would be for THL to allow a calendar view (weekly or monthly or next 7 days or whatever) that just shows the tasks for that period of time, and I would be happy. I would move everything over and be done with it! Unfortunately, BusyCal is not building out Applescript support, and THL isn’t going to add a calendar view any time soon, so I’m just stuck in limbo trying to remember to check my task list every day…

Opening Pandora’s Box

February 13th, 2011 2 comments

Yes, after going multiple days planning to update, but no desire to update because of the dismal Super Bowl last weekend (I’m glad I didn’t make a prediction a week ago), I found a story that actually inspired me enough to throw up a post about it. Before doing that though, to quickly touch on the Super Bowl:

  • In December, I said the one team that would be difficult in the NFC for the Steelers to beat would be the Green Bay Packers… and unfortunately I was right.
  • The Steelers were outplayed (sorry family, they were). Regardless if you can move the ball up and down the field, you just can’t make that many mistakes and expect to win a ball game. Oh yeah, and the Packers didn’t really make any mistakes… game over!
  • The commercials were pretty bad this year. Only a few funny ones at all, course those were punctuated by my grandmother exclaiming that they were disgusting for some reason or another.
  • Christina Aguilera should have practiced before the Super Bowl… enough said.
  • They need to just remove the half-time show. Yes, it is a draw for many viewers, but it’s not worth airing in my opinion, especially when the sound crew sucks THAT bad!

Alright, now to what truly interested me enough to post! Many of us use the Pandora Radio service. I knew that they were relatively ubiquitous amongst people who listen to online radio, but didn’t realize that they had a claim to 50% of the internet radio market share! That’s huge! I’m impressed in all honesty, and am really happy with Pandora as a whole. Well, now that Pandora has SUCH a big market share, they figure they might as well go for an IPO. The hopes? Raise around $100 million. Apparently, according to a Slashdot posting (and my sole source here), Pandora has sent their IPO request forms to the SEC, so I’m sure it will make bigger news in the coming weeks.

TSA Tries Again

February 2nd, 2011 No comments

So it looks like the TSA caught on that virtual strip searches are appreciated as little as pat-downs (the invasive kind) and have tried to make the resulting images more PC. Throw in an auto-detector on top of using an image of a fake humanoid (it looks like a cartoon person) and you have a patch. My only question is why does this cost another $2.7 million to update all these machines and remove the private viewing booths?

Article I found it in: IBTraveler

It’s About Time

January 31st, 2011 No comments

It’s about damn time I posted again. Funny how the semester just disappears… and of all the things that inspire me to write a quick blog post, it’s the fact that Sony has finally done what I have wanted for AGES with the rumor that they are adding cloud storage of game saves!!! Article I found it in is here. And here was my last post about the subject back on 11/9. Hooray!!!

In other news, the semester has been busy between continuing the job application process and keeping up with school. I have had trouble keeping up with including work in that mixture as well! Is really too bad because it affects the amount of money in my bank account…

Also, I have started a diet (read eating healthier and TRYING to do more/some exercise) and am continuing to wish there were 32 hours in a day. Maybe I’ll get around to writing something up about those subjects? All I can say is I’ll try!

Invisible Blogger?

December 25th, 2010 No comments

So I essentially I went AFK from my blog for the last month due to academics. Considering that this semester was supposed to be relatively easy and straightforward with just one course that I was classifying ahead of time as difficult, the projects for the semester ended up being extraordinarily harder than anticipated due to time constraints and the usual predicament of all due dates piling up right around the same dates. With that being said, I worked a lot harder this semester than I have durning many previous semesters, and was able to turn out 3 A’s and a B (the B is in the “harder” of the courses of course). This FINALLY puts me over a 3.5 GPA, something I have strived to achieve for the last few semesters since I found out you can graduate with highest honors if you are above a 3.5… something. Of course, with that being said, I have my work cut out for me to hit that cut-off point since I am at exactly a 3.50, but we shall see how the next semester goes.

First, my classes going forward. I only have 4 classes left (I worked it so I could take the minimum load per semester for the last 2 years of college to graduate), and they are:

  • LCC 3403 – Technical Writing: That boring class that all majors at Tech are supposed to take so that we know “how to write technical content,” but I have never heard good things about the course.
  • LCC 3254 – History of Film: Finishes up my Humanities credits and I get to take it with Professor Navarro who I enjoyed taking Intro to Film from this semester.
  • CS 3220 – Processor Design: Required and I am not particularly thrilled about having to take the course since it looks relatively difficult, but the alternative is just as good/bad.
  • CS 4365 – Intro to Enterprise Computing: I theoretically could replace this with an information security course, but I’ve had trouble getting faculty to teach the follow up to my Intro to Infosec. The alternatives are this course or take a grad level course in Infosec. If this course does not interest me after the first day of it, I will switch to the grad Infosec course. At the moment, I am registered for this one.

My personal projects going forward:
I would really like to build a technical analysis tool utilizing Google Finance, Yahoo! Finance, or some other financial data repository. Some of the initial issues I am finding include the lack of access provided to this data (the APIs don’t seem to provide easy access from what I can tell). I will play with this more, but I may have to dumb down much of what I want to build just to pull the data directly from links like this. Unfortunately the data becomes extremely unwieldy in that format, rendering what I want to build (yes, I am not providing large amounts of details, at least not right now) either extremely slow or impossible to build. We shall see.

My other project for the holiday season and until I secure a job is continuing to apply to job positions. Just a few of the companies I wish to apply to over the course of the break alone include:

Ones that I have interviews scheduled with:

TSA Security Screening News

November 19th, 2010 No comments

So, as most people know, the TSA and their full-body scanners have been in the news a LOT as of late. We can thank John Tyner (blog here) for this sudden public “awareness” of what the TSA is doing these days with his, now infamous/famous “don’t touch my junk” quip to TSA workers. My question though is this: why are there no other alternatives to the technology that they have in place?

I was reading this morning how the reason that the full-body scanners are even in place is because of the underwear bomber from last Christmas (plastic explosives went unnoticed in his underwear and then he tried to ignite it while in the air). Also, apparently they put pilots through the full-body scanners and the extra pat-downs that they have put into place just this week with the groping in the underwear. The latter makes little sense to me thanks to the fact that they are flying the damn plan and have a gun in the cockpit. The only things that you really need to be double checking on these people is are they still mentally stable and are they who they really say they are (double check ID and the like).

Ok, so that solution only reduces the use with pilots, what about all the normal passengers? I’m still unsure about why the only options are becoming a full-body scanner that creates a detailed image of your basically nude body or a pat down that includes a groping of your groin, breast, and basically everything else under the clothes. Of course, there are all the gripes out there that this is an invasion of privacy, and I’m neither belittling or disagreeing with this almost definite fact. My question is where is the supposed technological advancements we have had in recent years? Why are we unable to “read” people differently? Why are the options x-ray or metal detector plus human groping? This just doesn’t make sense to me.

Now, I know I would likely regret doing a full post about my idea for a replacement to these options, but how about a general concept. Why not measure density? More specifically, why not density changes? With those fake beer bellies, they cause a non-uniform density across your stomach area with the presence of some kind of liquid. A synthetic knee has a different density than normal bone. C4, even spread thinly across the skin, would likely have a different density than the rest of your body. I’m not claiming I know what technology could accomplish this, but coupled with a metal detector, it seems relatively benign and effective.