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Archive for March, 2010

Assignment Design Fail

March 16th, 2010 2 comments

The weekend was definitely a busy one. Between having/attending a party at a friends’ place and then spending the rest of the weekend doing homework (had an assignment for my Algorithms class and a group paper for my Ethics class to finish), it was a very busy, but productive weekend. I got all the work done (eventually), and had a great time Friday night! I’d rant a bit about my Ethics assignments not being clear enough, but I don’t think that’s really necessary when I have better fodder to write about in the form of my Marketing online homework submissions.

So the system is called Management by the Numbers and the site/product is completely new. At the beginning of the semester, they provided us with accounts according to the school we are in and the number we were on the roster (I assume that’s how the number was generated at least). So, the format would be gtxxx, and they initially gave EVERYONE in these classes the EXACT SAME PASSWORD! I noticed this immediately in the email that they sent out to us regarding what our login credentials were. As someone who wants to professionally doing information security for a living post undergrad, I just cringed when I saw this. To make matters worse, I did the first assignment on the WRONG username because ALL the passwords were the same. Of course, I didn’t realize that was the issue when I saw a 0 for the grade, but only after contacting the professor and TA about the issue did it become apparent “Aaron, your username is gtxxx.” “OH MY GOODNESS, I did the homework on the wrong username, I did it on gtxxy.”

After further discussion, I discovered that the company was “working on” a password change “feature,” which I consider standard in ANY login system. I almost asked for a contract to write the code to do it in PHP out of frustration, but thankfully I didn’t because I have had a bunch on my plate this semester. Overall, it was really disappointing. The funny part, that’s not even what I wanted to show with this blog post.

When I was doing the assignment that was originally due tomorrow, I found a few interesting bugs in it (causing the due date change). The first one had to do with an algorithm that was used to obtain the answer for a problem. It was supposed to be:

(($23.90 – 10) / (.71 * $23.90 – 10)) – 1 = 0.99

Instead of:

(($23.90 – 10) / (.75 * $23.90 – 10)) – 1 = 0.75

You see, the .71 in the correct answer was because it was supposed to have a 29% decrease (in this problem, since that number is dynamic) in price for the comparison, but the algorithm had been setup for a static 25% decrease in price instead. This caused correct answers to be completely wrong.

The more interesting bug, pictured to the right, had to do with precision. They were taking the number out to multiple decimal places, and requiring precision according to that, but the dollar amounts were automatically rounding as we expect cents to do. The end result was that a correct answer was STILL wrong. Of course, this was extremely frustrating for me at first, until I thought to myself “I wonder if it will accept the decimal written ALL the way out (I think I did 6 places just to be over accurate). It worked of course, since the issue had to do with their accuracy, but displaying it as a whole cent was extremely confusing. Regardless, I have finished the assignment and the due date has been pushed back to this Thursday now.

DNS Changes

March 12th, 2010 No comments

So, I’ve switched hosting over at this point to windfirehosting.com, a hosting reseller account that some of my friends and I setup a while back. My hosting account was going to expire on the 14th of the month and I felt like it was time to move it over. So the last 10 days or so have been spent waiting for DNS registries to reflect the changes I have made to them, getting the DBs moved over, and uploading all the files. I ran into a few interesting snags while doing the migration, but also learned quite a bit in the process of doing it.

First, I used to be hosted at Startlogic. They did a more than adequate job of hosting my sites over the last 6 years along with keeping their 99.whatever% uptime. There was only one snag that I was aware of that caused a loss of access to my sites, though that one lasted about 24 hours. Regardless, they did a good job of hosting me, but their prices increased in one of the previous 2 payment cycles to $6 per month from $5 per month. Not a huge price hike, but noticeable, especially when my friends and I have already setup this reseller hosting account for a cost of $5 per month. The solution, to me, was pretty obvious: just move my sites over to it.

There was one downside to this, Startlogic had all the domain names registered through them. This meant that I had NO idea what was involved in this process or how to modify it. So, after calling Startlogic’s support, I found out that I could downgrade my account instead of moving registrars too so that I could just manage my domains through them, and that I just had to change the domains to point to the new name servers. Of course, that’s skipping about 20 steps in the process of getting there, both with their tech support and with DB issues, cpanel access issues, and FTP access failures, but you don’t want or need the full story there. Once I knew how to change the name server information, I was all set… minus the fact that it takes 24-48 hours for registries to reflect the changes. So literally 6 or so times a day, I would ping the domain names to see if they were pointing to the correct IP yet. Took a while, but they finally were pointing to the right place, then I was able to solve the DB issues, then things became much smoother for the second domain (I chose to move one domain at a time so that at least mostperfect.net would be up and running while I made changes to rachelburger.com).

So, assuming that all goes according to plan and Startlogic doesn’t just decide to close my domains (which are renewed), or change where they are pointing, this should be the new home of the websites that I run (for personal use, not including the other websites that I manage). Overall, it wasn’t too painless, but I didn’t want to post to a database that was just going to be migrated shortly thereafter, so I postponed posts till now. I should have content for the next few posts, so till next time.

Wasted Snow and Apartment Hunts

March 2nd, 2010 3 comments

The weather outside is positively… frightful! It’s basically a tease of “here’s some snow… but there’s no reason it should be cold enough for any of it to stick to the ground and roads so just keep dreaming of that snow day that you should have had students!” What a waste! Regardless, it is extremely wet and just plain not fun outside right now. Hopefully the rest of this week will be nicer, considering that I think it’s supposed to get back up into the 50’s and 60’s again.

So I am SICK of GT Housing. They really did not do a very good job of taking care of us during the course of the past year, and enough is enough. I’m now looking for an off-campus apartment to share with my roommate for the Fall and Spring semesters. The plan is for a 2-man apartment that is near Tech and hopefully relatively well furnished. We should be able to get our hands on a deal that is relatively cheap, and are aiming at about 700-775 per month per person including utilities. A more complete list of what we want in an apartment presently:

  • Furnishings: we are college students and hence don’t have to desire to go out and get furnishings only to move it in the next 12 months from the signing of the lease.
  • Washer and Dryer: we aren’t going to a laundromat under any circumstance, if the washer and dryer isn’t at least in the apartment complex then you can forget it, but most of the floor plans that we’ve seen so far include washer and dryer in most 2-man apartments.
  • Parking: if we can’t park at the apartment, what’s the point?
  • Safety: being able to safely take a walk outside is a no-brainer.
  • A kitchen with dishwasher, stove, oven, and fridge: without these we wouldn’t eat, end of story!
  • Bathroom per bedroom in the apartment: we have no problem with sharing a bathroom at present, but boy would having one to ourselves be nice!
  • A balcony that we can sit on: 2 reasons for this, we would be ensured not to be on the first floor, the most commonly broken into floor in most apartment complexes, and we would not have to walk out of the building to enjoy some fresh air.

Some bonuses

  • Being able to have pets: I would love to be able to have a pet in my apartment, my girlfriend wants to get me a kitty for my birthday (which I would LOVE), but if we find a sweet deal on a nice place with the only stipulation being no pets, we might just have to take it.
  • Having a shuttle/bus to and from Tech would be great!
  • Being within a shorter driving distance is preferred.
  • Being to the east of Tech would put us closer to Agnes Scott, which would be a big bonus for both of us since we are both dating Agnes women.

This week we are going to do some apartment shopping and will be making some calls. We are also going to try a site called promove.com. It looks pretty cool, but we don’t have all the details about how to actually utilize their services. Should this list change, I’ll post accordingly.