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Below are the 12 most recent journal entries recorded in rax262's LiveJournal:

    Tuesday, September 4th, 2007
    4:24 pm
    Mommy's Little Meltdown

    How to not "go critical"

    File this one under random observations. Monday we were returning from the beach and decided to stop for lunch. Things were hectic at the fast food place we found but we soldiered through it because everyone was hungry, including the child. The place was packed with other parents and their children, most of whom were behaving themselves.

    That's of course with the exception of the family sitting directly behind us. There were three little girls along with mom and dad all obviously weary from their long weekend together. Two of the girls were squabbling about something when the mother came over to the table. She immediately snapped at one of the girls and who was complaining at essentially told her to be quite and eat her food.

    A moment later there was a murmur of protest and the mother absolutely lost it. She took on a tone that would raise the hackles of a dead dog and thundered "I'm tired of looking at you and I'm tired of hearing your mouth.." You could hear a pin drop through out the restaurant. The mom's face turned bright red because she obviously knew everyone in the restaurant was looking at her. She raged on, despite the indignant stares. She lashed out a few more times at the child before storming off.

    After a few minutes of silence the dad asked the little girl in a soft tone if she was OK. By this point I was walking around to get a beverage refill and could see tears welling in the girls eyes. I then looked up and saw rage mom stampeding straight for me. She had a look in her eye like a rabid bull so I just stepped aside and she walked past me without acknowledgment. We slipped back into the car and headed down the road.

    I pondered the scene that I had witnessed. I have no idea the kind of stress or situation in this family but it was obvious that mom couldn't handle it anymore. We all get this way, but when you are a parent you have to choose your words (and your tone) carefully. Little ones are incredibly impressionable and any time you raise your voice you should have a good reason.

    I'm not going to pass judgment on the family but I do believe the situation could have only been worse had the mom physically assaulted her child. Words can be very powerful especially when the kid doesn't know what they did wrong. Deep down inside they are probably wondering if mommy or daddy really loves them anymore. It might sound insecure but children really to wonder about these things.

    Look, I've been that angry before.. heck it's why I noticed the signs and just stepped out of the way rather than risk a confrontation. It's dangerous to confront a stranger who is that full of rage unless they present a real threat to your safety. You simply have no idea what they will do.

    If you find yourself in this situation then I recommend that you remove yourself from that location for a while, if possible. Hand the kid off to your spouse or someone who can watch them for five or ten minutes. Don't just sit there because your anger will only grow. I know it sounds cheesy but think happy thoughts if you can. Anything to get your mind out of the self-reinforcing rage.

    Anyway, after talking about the situation for a few minutes I made my wife promise me something. That if I ever blew a gasket in public like that I wanted her to stand up, slap me in the face and tell me that I'm making an ass of myself. I have no idea if she'd go through with, but I'm sure it would force me to simmer down. Face it, there is no sense in acting like that in public, and there is certainly no reason to speak to your child that way.

    Originally posted at: InfoMountain.Org

    Thursday, August 30th, 2007
    6:21 pm
    Monkey Jobbing at the Startup

    This one has been brewing for a while. Recently I read something posted by Glenn Kelman called "On the Other Hand: The Flip Side of Entrepreneurship". It details ten ways that startups can feel "screwed" when that is absolutely not the case. Some of these I can identify with, others aren't as relevant simply due to our company's size. Here they are:


    1. True believers go nuts at the slightest provocation.

    The best people at a start-up care too much. Yup, and they are the ones feeling screwed when it doesn't work out. IMO if you are one of these people you need to realize while a belly flop means a lost investment of time and effort for you, for the rest of the investors it also means a significant financial loss as well. So in truth you are not nearly as screwed as they are. Take a vacation and then find a new job.


    2. Big projects attract good people.

    Idea being that if you are working on something worthwhile you'll have no problem finding people to work on it. Conversely if you are working on a pure stinker of a project everyone will avoid it. This is an absolute lie. Many people will work on a project even if they think it will fail if the money is right. Not everyone is a pure mercenary, but you can rest assured that there will be some around when you need them. Just don't expect to get off cheap.


    3. Start-ups are freak-catchers.

    I agree with this one. "You have to be fundamentally unhappy with the way things are to leave Microsoft, and yet unrealistic enough to believe the world can change to join a start-up." That or you are incredibly desperate for work and the idea of sitting in a cubicle beside someone dressed in a batman costume at 4:30 in the morning appeals to you.

    4. Good code takes time.

    If Murphy were around he'd also add that "Bad code takes even longer". I've seen first hand the spaghetti code that results from an overzealous night's work over the course of about four years. If the code base you are relying upon was derived by several years of caffeine driven late-night coding sessions do yourself a favor and throw it away!


    5. Everybody has to re-build.

    I've heard that this is a tenet of Agile development. In practice it is often the result of someone breaking something, blowing it up, or the fact that it never worked quite right to start with. Just fix the damn thing and quit bellyaching.


    6. Fearless leaders are often terrified.

    Yes, but their pansy-assed subordinates are usually peeing in their pants. Face it, we all have a mortgage to pay and if this thing doesn't work out we are all going to be out on the streets next to so many miscellaneous computer parts and eating Raman noodles 3 meals a day. I lived that way in college and I'm terrified to go back there!

    7. It'll always be hard work.

    I agree, few have earned their way in this world without it. I don't, however, agree with the insecure part. Simply put you have to know that your working on the best thing since sliced bread, otherwise you'll just give up and throw in the towel.


    8. It isn't going to get better--it already is.

    What a relief.. I can't wait until I tell my wife and kids that they've got many a welfare Christmas to look forward to! Face it, startups are flat broke most of the time and that means few creature comforts and usually no bonuses unless you are making wheelbarrow loads of money. Building a business from the ground up is expensive.

    As far as technology and the like goes, usually you don't have the funds for an uber expensive site license for the latest package or enough moula to install that much desired app on every single workstation. It sucks but it's the reality of the startup.


    9. Truth is our only currency.

    True, because the last thing we are going to respect is a bunch of the sun will come out tomorrow BS. It worked for Annie because she was a cute little red-headed orphan kid during the depression. It doesn't work for over forty, slightly bald and greasy managers who wear ivory cuff links and carry the perpetual cup of coffee. Look man, cute ain't your thang, and it makes you no less believable.


    10. Competition starts at $100 million.

    I don't really get this one. If you are doing something worthwhile and at least possibly lucrative, chances are someone else will do it also. If you are alone in the wilderness then you might want to rethink that business plan. Occasionally lone wolf innovators succeed, but must often then wind up in little shacks out in Colorado desperate trying to fend off the ATF with a 4-10 shotgun and a tinfoil hat.

    I exaggerate a bit yes, but hey.. it's time for a least a sliver of honesty in this world. Working for a startup isn't all foozball tables and afternoon lattes. It's hard, backbreaking and somewhat thankless work. That is, if you are in a company that actually wants to succeed.

    I joke about the job because they are the fools that lead you to believe that it can be an easy life and that success is imminent. It's never imminent, and can fleet from even the strongest Fortune 500 outfits. The best thing you can do is to cover your ass and make sure your packing a parachute and not the Coyote's backpack full of pots and pans.


    Originally posted at: InfoMountain.Org

    Monday, July 9th, 2007
    5:00 pm
    Coffee Wars: Quest for the perfect cup
    Coffee seems to be a big part of the routine for your average programmer. Only recently did I re-realize that most people don't drink coffee in the afternoon, let alone late into the evening. Oh well, for better or worse we love our caffeine and some of us couldn't live without it.

    I'm thinking about this for two reasons. First, I believe that I've finally mastered the art of making java in the French press. My buddy Listerman gave me one a few years ago but it was only recently that I began using it. Long story short we were dearly in need of caffeine while at Petit Le Mans last year and the Listerman used the press to make what at the time seemed to be the best cup of coffee ever.

    I've found that the trick is to grind you own beans, but only in so much as they are still pretty "chunky". If the coffee is too fine it will clog the wire mesh filter. The other trick is to get the water to the near boiling point. Typically this means boiling it and then allowing it to cool slightly before pouring it in. Five minutes later viola! The perfect cup of coffee.

    The other reason I've got coffee on my mind is because of an email I received via the ISN mailing list. According to the email this will be the eighth annual "Coffee Wars" challenge at the Black Hat USA conference in Las Vegas. Black Hat is one of those uber elite hacker conventions and the authors of the "War" acknowledge its importance in the technology field. The rules of the challenge:

    1: ONLY WHOLE BEANS. (No pre-ground, no crystals)
    2: BEANS MUST BE UNFLAVORED. (No hazelnut-blueberry-acetone- whatever)
    3: WE ONLY DO COFFEEWARS. (We know nothing about hacking)
    4: NO DECAF. (By all that is sacred. Please.)
    5: YOUR ENTRY WILL BECOME OURS (duh!)
    6. ONLY ONE ENTRY PER CONTESTANT. (Lead with your
    best)

    I'm nowhere ready for the challenge nor do I possess the "skillz" to warrant a visit to Black Hat. Still I think it's pretty cool that a few of the fringe geeks have taken an otherwise side effect of the culture and turn it into somewhat of a competition. At any rate I think I'll just stick to my practice rounds in prepare for Road Atlanta. Because as we all know the another sub-culture gang that loves coffee is the 24-hour endurance-racing crowd. Hey, you do what it takes to stay up all night.

    Originally posted on InfoMountain.Org
    Sunday, June 17th, 2007
    4:56 pm
    24 Heures du Mans
    The 24 Hours of Le Mans has come to a close and once again Audi has taken top honors. It was anything but easy and the winning R10 was the lone survivor of the event. The Peugeot camp fought hard but ultimately the long hours and occasional off track excursions would take their toll. An American team Binnie Motorsports, which competes in the Le Mans Series in Europe, won in LMP2 with ALMS driver Fernandez following in second. The battle royale in GT1 came down to the factory Aston Martins and the Corvettes as everyone expected. A lone Corvette was at the finish after its sister car broke a drive shaft leaving the path open for the 009 Aston Martin DBR9 to take its first win at Le Mans. In GT2 the victory went to French team IMSA Matmut and American driver Patrick Long who simply outlasted everyone else. Other honorable mentions include the Henri Pescarola squad who finished third on the podium in LMP1 in spite of all the odds and the Saleen teams who managed to find reliability and survive until the end.

    On the Le Mans party front I'd have to say that it was a huge success. This year we ran both a time trials competition as well as a head to head match race. After resolving some network trouble the gang was able to gather round the gaming setup and listen to Radio Le Mans during the early afternoon Speed TV coverage blackout. As the night rolled on and the drink flowed there were several pitched battles between drivers including an all out banzai 3 lap race at Le Mans in the Audi R8.

    Needless to say the day after I was a bit tired. About 35 hours of racing and being awake with a short 3 hour nap. I'll gather the statistics and make an official post of record over on the ERS site along with a few pictures as they come in. Anyway, till then it's back to work with only a long look toward the 2007 Petit Le Mans this fall.

    Originally posted on Infomountain.Org
    Sunday, April 29th, 2007
    8:31 pm
    This Modern House
    The Ball fan is a clear expression of The Modern Fan Co.'s roots, derived from a minimalist approach to ceiling fan design. A perfect sphere provides visual simplicity while housing all the components required for exceptional air movement.

    A busy weekend overall. Saturday began with my obligatory rounds through the yard with mower followed by a trip to Lighting & Bulbs Unlimited in Matthews. We've been looking for a modern looking fan for the living room and Friday the wife found one by Modern Fan Company in Dwell (an interior design magazine). She did a little legwork and found that a lighting store close by could order the fan and have it to us in about ten days.

    Afterwards we hit Blockbuster to redeem a few free movie rentals. People often ask me why we never go out to the movies. There are several reasons but usually I just mention the fact that over the past four years we haven't once paid for a movie rental. That's because we earn freebies through Discover Card or more recently pampers, or are given gift cards by family, friends and employers. So at any rate we rented Casino Royale and some chick flick, which wasn't very good. Casino was great and possibly the best James Bond flick in a long time.

    Today was dubbed day of the grill as I made French toast in the morning and grilled ham & cheese for lunch. The evening meal was of the non-grill variety but was an equally good homemade pizza R&D session, which resulted in quite possibly the most "pizzeria style" pie to date.

    Aside from all of the home life activities I also sat down for an hour or two and finished two how-to articles for From the Scratch. The first was the amalgamation of two different timing belt changes and the second was a how-to / FYI guide for changing your air filters. I learned some valuable things during both of those projects and I hope others find them as useful.

    The articles:

    Timing belt replacement
    Changing the air conditioner filter

    Originally posted on InfoMountain.Org
    Wednesday, April 25th, 2007
    8:30 pm
    A disaster of a different kind

    Mid-week disaster: nothing to report. I'm trying to figure out why emails from our website are being flagged as spam by some recipients as well as attempting to reinstall Windows Update Server (WSUS) on one of the networks. It comes as a surprise that no fires have broken out yet, I look cautiously toward the rest of the week fearing that some great conflagration awaits me.

    Yesterday I cleaned a very dirty fish tank which had needed my attention for sometime. While I was cleaning I managed to cut my hand which aside from being a completely predictable outcome and relative non-event has done little to slow my rate of button pressing. It did have a detrimental effect on my password entering abilities which are widely regarded as "piss poor" anyway.

    Over on the non-technical side of the house: today I noticed a poll from the Business Journal which was an obvious reference to last week's violence in Virginia. They asked "What are your thoughts on gun laws?" Three choices were presented "greater restriction on handguns", "more concealed carry privileges" or "guns and gun laws aren't the problem here". I figured the poll would swing wildly into the gun control category but managed to gather only 39%. 18% of folks said that concealed carry was the answer. Surprisingly 43% of the respondents can tell their head from an ass in the ground and realized that the guns and the gun owners aren't the problem.

    I don't mean to go off on a rant here but frankly owning a handgun wasn't Timothy McVeigh's problem. It wasn't what allowed the 9-11 hijackers to crash planes into buildings and guns aren't the ones beating their wives and children every night. Guns are an answer to an age old question called "how do I kill people". It has nothing to do with neither the intent nor malice of the individual that wields one. If a gun isn't handy or available what's to stop a person from using a switchblade or a baseball bat to get even? Nothing and no amount of gun control will change that.

    Now there are those who say that if the criminal had not owned a firearm then it could have lessened the body count. Sheer numbers aside, history has shown us a bit of Sarin gas in a subway or piloting your vehicle through a crowded outdoor market place can be just as devastating to the family and loved ones not to mention the public psyche as any handgun related attack. In my opinion guns get a bad name because they have but a single purpose which is to kill things and they do it very well.

    People who are quick to blame guns for violence are in denial about the dark, malicious nature of the human animal. They would do well to remember that the only difference between the instigator of a massacre and a mass murder is the means and opportunity by which they ply their vengeance. Those that seek a quick fix by banning firearms will be sourly disappointed when the next massacre happens.

    The only way to solve the violence problem is to figure out why violence happens and what are its contributing factors. It's also necessary to learn to anticipate such attacks and to at the very least institute policies that will help to minimize the casualties when violence erupts.


    Originally posted on InfoMountain.Org
    Monday, April 23rd, 2007
    4:13 pm
    Don't drive angry

    Today I had one of those days that didn't go right. But it was in fact the fault not of myself or other people but of the technology that has become a key part of my life. It all started with a rather unexciting upgrade message from both Winamp and ml_pod, the software I use to put music on my iPod Nano. I'd ignored the upgrade message for several weeks because while I'm usually eager to try new stuff I abhor breaking the old stuff. I figured that I'd give the new code a few weeks to mellow in the hopes that any major flaws in the upgrade would be dealt with. So I waited until this past Friday to try the upgrade and sure enough as soon as I installed it things started to go awry.

    Long story short this morning I found that new playlists I'd loaded were totally fubar. In one case I had several Oldies songs masquerading as tracks from the Red Hot Chili Peppers' album Californication. Needless to say Mike Love sounds nothing like Anthony Kiedis and I'm sure that if he had 409 of any kind it would be some kind of malt liquor.

    Needless to say that sorta messed with my head this morning but nothing could prepare me for the wrath of the Mac users who were trying to violate the company website. I'm referring of course to our graphics design personnel who send us proofs via the workflow website that I've coded. At some point Microsoft decided to clamp down on web security and in the process they sort of hacked off a few bits. For whatever reason Safari seems to aggravate ASP.Net and I have no reason why. I tried like hell to fix the problem this morning and managed to get the files arriving on time. The only problem is that it still tells the Safari users that the file transfer failed. Frankly I don't give a damn as long as we get what we need.

    And then, of course, there was the Canon, which thoroughly pissed me off today. Seems that the mighty machine will print PDF reports just fine but try to send it a standard Microsoft Power Point presentation and all hell breaks loose. In between the courier mission and child's doctor visit I managed to track down most of the problem but needless to say it was still frustrating.

    Anyway so you're probably wondering about the driving angry part. I'm getting to that, for Pete's sakes please hold your horses. I come home, grill some dinner and deal with a fussy child who's just received a number of vaccination shots. When all of that is done I try to watch an episode of "Drive" only to be hacked off by the extreme campy nature of the plot. Anyway, I pop a tape in to record Heroes and slip off to Mr. Rax's den of speed otherwise known as the office with steering wheel in the down and locked position. I boot up GTR2 and take a few practice laps at Donnington when who should appear but "the wife".

    The wife is a nice and agreeable person who sometimes comes to notify me when "shit done gone wrong" which are not her words but seem to sum up the situation quite nicely. It appears as if my antiquated VCR has gone amnesiatic and stopped recording. I initiate an emergency "REC" key and keep the tape rolling. Then I return to my race, which is part of the FIA GT season that I'm faithfully trying to complete. Turns out the beautiful setup that I've perfected over several sessions is WORTHLESS.. the race conditions were monsoon rains and my setup was for clear and dry. I spend the first half of the race trying to keep my car on the track followed by a serious banzai shunt into the tire barrier once my no-grippin' car slides all the way back to last place. Needless to say it was spectacular and luckily it didn't hurt me in the points that baddly.

    After that little episode I decided that I should try a quick race using the "easy" settings so I could gleefully trounce the competition. Not to be apparently. My rev limiter was set too high and my airflow the radiator was too low because about three laps from the end of both races the engine let go. I managed a 21 out of 40 as my best result. I swear sometimes you can't win for losing. Tomorrow has to be better, right? Oh please tell me that it's so!

    Originally posted on InfoMountain.Org
    Friday, November 17th, 2006
    3:19 pm
    Holiday Survival Tips
    Saddam Claus

    Christmas time is crazy time... crazy for shopping that is. I have many a memory of crowded malls during the holiday season, and honestly I don't miss them a bit. I realize that others have their traditions and enjoy the "togetherness time", but for me it's one less pain that I have to endure.

    This year more than ever I've decided to rely upon my online vendors for a great deal of stuff. Amazon started the pre-season with free shipping as well as deals for the vigilant shopper. EBay merchants are also great for those hard to find items like collectibles. All in all the online hunting is pretty good this year.

    Of course there are always items that you either can't order online or afford to pay shipping on. For these items you may have to venture into the world of the holiday crazed shopper, so I suggest you prepare yourself appropriately. Market Watch has a list of 15 tips to make your holiday shopping pay off which is fairly useful for the casual shopper. Instead I have compiled a few tips for eXtreme holiday shopping (The "X" makes it so much cooler!):

    • When searching for children's toys you must be prepared for anything. Quick moves and quick wits can often win the day when there is a toy shortage. Put on a few moves like an NFL running back and you'll surely end up with TMX Elmo or whatever the hot item is this year.
    • It's never too early for the little one to take up stick-and-ball sports. As you may know baseball bats make excellent weapons against unruly children and parents alike. Plus by the time the kids are ready for little league and you inevitably get roped into coaching; you'll have a closet full of gear.
    • If you run out of gift ideas remember you can always give the gift of wine. Many wine stores run great specials and most importantly don't mark prices directly on the bottle. Since most wine snobs can't identify a vintage by taste they'll assume it's a good one, especially if it has a cool looking label.
    • NEVER give electronics to your parents unless the gift comes with free 24-hour tech support. That is unless you want to BE tech support and don't mind your mom or dad calling you after half a bottle of wine wanting to know how the iPod works.
    • For that special jerk in your life consider the traditional gift of the holidays: COAL. I admit it's become harder to find, but fortunately it's sitll very cheap! Just wander a mile or so of railroad track and you'll inevitably find some of the stuff lying around. For an added insult buy yourself something cool like a DVD Player or PlayStation and then wrap up the coal inside the box. You'll love the surprise on Mr. Asshole's face when he rips open the box only to find a pile of chunky, dusty fossil fuel.
    • Finally, though it is better to give than receive you should practice caution with gifts from others. Never open a box that is ticking, smoking or otherwise oozing a strange substance. Also boxes with holes and an accompanying "hissing" sound are not good and should be immediately dumped in the river. They usually contain pissed off snakes, rabid house cats or an angry badger and worst of all never come with a gift receipt.

    Hopefully you've found my holiday tips to be either helpful or mildly entertaining. I also hope that everyone on my list realizes that you've all been naughty, and I'm not joking when I say: "Leave your boxes of snakes at home, otherwise I'll whip up on you with the Nerf bat!". Happy Holiday hunting and shop on!

    Originally posted on InfoMountain.Org

    Tuesday, November 7th, 2006
    5:17 pm
    Oh Christmas Branch...

    Originaly posted at InfoMountain.Org

    Last night I was reading the latest Life as it is.... entry and started to wonder exactly how soon is too early to put up your Christmas decorations? Seems like last year our neighborhood started putting stuff out around Thanksgiving, which isn't too early in my opinion. I'd say most people start decking the halls anytime between Thanksgiving and the first week of Advent. If you're a particular cheap ass you may decide to wait until the week before Christmas to start hitting the tree lots hoping for a discount.

    Christmas always initiates the annual fake vs. real tree debate at our house. When I lived in the Raleigh area I was able to find a decent looking tree for a fair price. However since we've moved to the ritzy side of town in Charlotte it seems like everyone is trying to rip you off for a piece of evergreen. It's utterly disgusting and every year I swear we are going to buy a plastic tree. Of course the wife always insists, and usually wins, the battle and before you know it a sappy, foresty fresh branch has taken up residence in my living room.

    The risk of squirrels and other vermin aside, the natural tree does have a nice look too it. And it ought to, considering you can't get one for less than $40. If you manage to find one any cheaper it will usually look like something out of a Charlie Brown Christmas special only the two planks holding it up will cost extra. The other thing that really ticks me about a live Christmas tree is that inevitably the trunk will either be too large or to misshapen to fit in the tree stand. Sap gets everywhere; I usually resort to the largest blunt instrument available.. generally it is not a good sight.

    But I'm not completely against the live tree either. Having dealt with fake plastic trees my entire life I can honestly say that some of these are no better. It used to be that plastic trees consisted of a large central pole that you would stick "branches" apparently made from coat hangers and crinkly plastic leaves into the pole. I suppose someone decided this was too dangerous or perhaps there were a string of unfortunately holiday eye gouging experiences, at any rate those trees have since been replaced.

    A more common type now is the "umbrella tree" which for the life of me I can't seem to operate. The idea is to fold the branches of the tree up, but in my experience they only go 1/3 of the way. I think the idea is to save space, but given this tree's girth I don't see how that is possible. Another type that I've come into contact with is the sectional Christmas tree. This one usually has two or three detachable pieces that will fit in a box. Not a bad idea in theory, though I think overall it's about as stable as a Jenga tower.

    I'm sure there are other types of fake plastic trees that suck just as much, but these are the ones I've had an unfortunate run in with. All of this has me thinking, is there an alternative? If my mother-in-law is to be believed there is. What started as a joke quickly became a family tradition. One year we were at the beach for the holidays and a suitable tree could not be found. So my in-laws retrieved an oaken branch, painted it white and deposited it in a vase full of rocks. Instantly the "Christmas branch" was born, and unlike Charlie Brown's tree this one had real structural integrity.

    So anyway, chances are there will be a tree at my house this year but the jury is still out on what kind. Maybe we can just decorate that palm plant that's been growing like crazy, I have no idea. Oh man, don't you just love Christmas?

    Friday, October 20th, 2006
    12:16 am
    Friday Goof-Off: NetVibe

    The following was original posted on my official site InfoMountain.Org


    At the time of this writing it's almost Friday and as usual I've got the perfect Friday goof off site. Ok, so it's not a flash game or a really cool YouTube video, though it is very Web 2.0. Before I let the cat out of the bag though I feel I should explain something. Aside building and hosting sites I also dabble in web code. You may have heard of URGO, the racing game that I wrote several years ago. I've also written a lot of small prototypical types of stuff too. One example is my homebrew RSS feed parsing system I created back in 2003.

    Three years ago RSS was still pretty new and not a lot of sites offered it. Most of the sites that did were either tech sites or very early adopters. The rest of the web was still stuck in "visit our site everyday" mode and as my list of bookmarks and daily sites grew I became frustrated. So I set out to create my own "feeds" and using some of my expertise in web document parsing, used at my former IBM assignment more than you'd expect, I created a rough news feed presentation system. Over the years most of the sites I scraped for news converted to some sort of RSS feed, though many are still clueless to this day. The site is still around incase you are wondering. It's linked from the ERS main page but you can get to it here. </p>

    Anyway, I admit that my interface was pretty crude but it served the purpose. Over the years I dabbled with various RSS readers both local client and web, but I never found one that looked that great. Yahoo did the job but was slow to update. Thunderbird, Firefox's email reader, did an OK job but was pretty spartan. The Firefox browser can read RSS via live bookmarks, but they take up too much real estate along the top of the browser. What was I going to do? Well I kept looking and eventually found what has become the InfoMountain Friday site.

    It's called NetVibes and so far it's the best RSS feed aggregator / daily portal site I've found. I admit it won't 100% replace My.Yahoo or anything, but it is a good central place to plug all of your RSS feeds. What I like about the site is that it takes advantage of AJAX technology and does so in a fairly presentable manner. What that means is that the site preloads all the data for the web page and then just changes the display without reloading the entire page. It's fast as hell once the initial page loads, and best of all it will let you drag and drop the modules in real time as you would on a Windows or MacOS desktop.

    Image
    Click for larger image


    Another nice thing about NetVibes is that it will preview all the links with a JavaScript mouse over. That means that when you move your cursor over the link it gives you a good 3-line synopsis of the post. In a few seconds you can figure out if you want to click the link or not. If you do click you have the choice of either going to the actual site or viewing a reader page that retains most of the original site styling (though no plugins like Picasa pictures, sorry Mommy Librarian).

    The final thing that is kinda cool about NetVibes is that there are a number of cool modules you can add to your homepage. For example mine features a weather feed from TWC, a Flickr friend's image feed, and TV program listings. Like I said, not totally going to replace My.Yahoo, but there are more modules added everyday. Most of the new Web 2.0 sites like Digg, MySpace, del.icio.us, etc and some of the older ones like Ebay, Alexa, Yahoo are in on the act. It's definitely a cool site that you can spend several hours messing around with. That's why it's the Friday goof off site of the day. Enjoy!

    Wednesday, August 16th, 2006
    12:41 pm
    New Website!
    RAX262 once again has a public blog. Visit us at http://InfoMountain.Org/!!


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    Tuesday, August 17th, 2004
    4:34 pm
    Quick update
    Just did a quick update to make this place not-so-tacky. Why don't you stop by and tell me what you think?

    Current Mood: productive
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