Thursday, May 31, 2007

Everything I Need to Know I Learned in College

Okay, probably not but it makes for a good headline.

Someone dugg a blog post by Leah Culver titled "A Computer Science Degree Doesn't Hurt (Much)". The site seems to be having issues right now but basically she talks about many of the things that I can remember thinking in college. Some of the classes I took were about as enjoyable as watching someone drive a car in a circle. Yes NASCAR fans, I'm talking to you.

I found it interesting that not only did someone else have almost the exact same thoughts as I did but even a specific experience was the same. The author mentioned how knowledge of Scheme had helped but she had thought that it was worthless. I took an AI class that involved using LISP, which Scheme is a derivative of. I remember thinking that I would never use that language again. Turns out I was wrong. The program that I help support here at work uses Scheme for all the customization.

This has gotten me to thinking about how college doesn't only help you learn the specifics of whatever field you are studying but also the broad ideas around that field. College for me was never about partying or making a ton of friends but rather about getting that degree so I could get a job. Plus, I love to learn. I'm sure many of you probably feel the same way. For me, the learning was the fun part and the degree was really just to show to the employers.

I remember hearing someone say that college wasn't just to teach you subject matter but to teach you how to learn. I can really get behind that kind of thinking.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Lack of Updates

Just wanted to let everyone know why I haven't updated the last couple days.

I got sick yesterday and have been running a fever of around 101 the whole time.

Hope everyone else is well.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

This Weeks Neat Stuff (aka Week in Review)

Here are some links to some neat stuff I saw or read this week.

Fix a Dent - MacGyver style - from LifeHacker

Johnny Five Alive! - Lego

Mac Ad Spoof - there are three o f these but I love this one.

Potential new technology to help fight spam

Friday, May 25, 2007

RSS Feeds and Joo!

Couple quick notes.

I've setup a new feedburner feed instead of the default RSS feed that blogger provides. If you can, please use that one instead of the old one so I get all the fancy stats.

Also, Scott had mentioned how he reads most blogger blogs through RSS so he misses out on the comments. There is a comments feed for my site if you care to subscribe to it.

I may also be moving some items around on the blog so don't get too attached to anything.

Oh yeah, I've added a Recommended Reading section that contain my shared RSS feed items. Check it out and leave a comment.

My Grandpa, the Hero

No, I'm not joking. My grandpa is a hero. Last night I received this email from him:

I heard a soft voice say, "Dwight come here."
I had heard that voice before and knew something was not right.
I was by her side -- real fast -- saw the snake and knew it was time to play HERO.
I followed the thing downstairs and shot it with my pellet gun.

INSTANT HERO Feels good ( the hero thing )

Oh --the picture of Colleen with the snake was taken after it was dead.
Things are back to normal now-- I will wear the HERO HAT for a few days and then back to normal until the next time she needs me to play HERO.
Y'all have a nice day

Now you may be thinking, 'Big deal, he killed a snake.' Not me. I don't do snakes. Sure I might be okay if I was at the zoo and got to touch one being held by a trainer but i'm a firm believer that snakes should either be a) in the wild b) dead. I'm sure I should be more pragmatic about it and while I realize that snakes aren't evil, they still scare the *expletive deleted* out of me.

My grandpa is going to turn 80 in August. This means that not only did he manage to be a hero but at 80 he is doing things that would give me pause. I'd probably be on the phone to the pest control or grabbing my neighbor (who is a cop) to borrow his gun (not that he would let me). I sure as heck wouldn't try to kill it myself with a pellet gun.

I've seen my grandpa do some pretty amazing things. He took two old bikes and a lawnmower handle, welded them together so that my brother and I had a super tall bike. I need to find a picture to really show you what that looked like. We even took it through the parade around town that year.

I can remember as little kid thinking that grandpa could fix anything. Seems like he was always building or fixing something. He even managed to survive almost falling through our porch roof back in Callao. He cut down a tree in that yard too.

Grandpa Patterson is always good for a laugh or joke. He can even do magic. He cut our hair, used a saw to cut out wooden figures and always has some neat little toy or gadget to show off.

He also taught my how to 'be an Indian'. I miss sitting on the floor, doing my best to not move or laugh because if I did that imaginary snake would bite me. Funny thing, I can still use that to make it through pain.

Edit My mom left a comment that I had somehow forgotten:

Your grandpa has also performed CPR on his neighbor more than once and probably saved his life both times.

I don't believe the grandparents are reading my blog but I know some family members have. I feel like I've probably taken having such an awesome set of grandparents for granted. This is my shout out to them.

We love and miss you.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

First Loser

I've been using Google Analytics to keep track of the amount and type of traffic my blog has been getting. Joe and I have set each other up with account on our analytics accounts so that we can see each others traffic info.

I'm the first loser. Joe is getting more traffic, more comments and more page views per visitor. Not that it is a competition but when I was looking over the yesterday's stats this morning, I couldn't help but feel like I was losing. What would make me feel like that I'm wondering? I don't really consider myself an overly competitive person. Sure, if we had made a wager or had decided to see who could get more traffic I would understand but nothing of that sort was done.

Either I'm more competitive about silly little things like this or ... I'm not sure what the or would be.

My challenge to you is this: leave a comment on this post about when you have found yourself feeling competitive about something that surprised you.

Also as a reminder, I need your comments and feedback! Let me know what you like about the blog. Is the design okay? Do you like the color scheme? Do you use any of the widgets on the sidebar to the right? Let me know.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

See How Nice I Was!?!?

Joe's post about small talk which has gotten quite a few comments. I've read some of the comments and because this morning I'm in an antisocial mood here is my Top Ten list of things to remember for work.

1) Don't act like you know me. A name is not a person.
2) I (probably) don't remember your name. No insult really, I don't remember the name of most people that I talk to once a month.
3) If you need my help on something, just tell me what it is. I don't need a background story about how something funny happened that made you realize you had messed it up.
4) See that look I just gave you? That isn't my, 'Oh let us chat it up, old friend' look.
5) When I go to get more coffee, it isn't a chance for you to waste more of my (and your) time. Fill your cup, we'll exchange nods and then get on with our day.
6) We have an email if you need something. Don't come over into my cube and bother me. Unless you have spontaneously combusted, then it might be okay.
7) Regarding that look in number 4, I probably didn't mean to melt your face with it. Sorry about that.
8) My job is technical and detailed. It requires actual thought and time. Trying to rush me will get your task pushed to the back of the line. Whoops.
9) I like to help people. I don't like to help people that stand over my shoulder when I'm working. I also don't like to help people that never learned to say thanks.
10) If I don't spend 20 minutes of my day chatting with you, it probably means that I hate you. Okay, not really but if that will make you leave me alone I'm all for it.

There is my attempt at humor for the day.

I'm not comfortable in social situations. It isn't other peoples' fault but I do tend to take it out on them. I often find myself walking around scowling just because I've found that I'm less likely to get 'chatted up' if I do that. I've tried to stop doing it but so far catch myself after the fact.

Like many people, I don't have these same problems when I'm on The Information Super Highway. I've made several friends over the web that I chat with on message boards or in games. While I would consider them friends, I'm not sure if we had met in person that it would have been the same.

I like to think that I'm a friendly person. Which is odd considering how I feel about social interaction. That initial 'chatting up' period is the part I really hate. What if after that first time I'm friendly and then everyday you come over and try to talk to me? Chances are you'll want to talk about stuff that makes me want to pull my hair out. Or you will be completely boring. I'm not willing to take that risk.

One final note to explain the title of this post. A few months ago we were going through the drive-thru and after we paid we could hear the trainer say those exact words to a trainee. It came out like this, "See how NICE I WAS?!!!?". I wish we had a recording of it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Supplemental is Bad

Apparently the reason I no longer rank for my name in Google is because this blog got moved to the supplemental index of Google.

As of this post Google only has two pages indexed for I'm still not really sure why or that it matters to anyone but me. I'm not even really sure why it matters to me.

I'm a sad panda. :(

Save the World

Last night was the season finale for Heroes. I'm not going to post any spoilers but wanted to say that while not 'OMG AWESOME', the season finale was very good and left me wanting more. They actually did wrap up several dangling story threads while leaving enough for next season.

For a comic book geek like myself this show combines some of the greatest parts of comics into a great night time drama. I usually hate dramas but by adding in the comic book element, I'm a fan. Call me a hypocrite, I don't mind.

NBC has all the full episodes of Heroes available on their site.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Joe just stopped by my desk to say that his blog - Fetal Minds is no longer showing up in a google search.

Being the curious person that I am I decided to check mine. I shouldn't be surprised but I no longer rank number 6 for Jeremiah Mitchell. I'm also not number one for Jeremiah J. Mitchell either. I'm not sure if this is just a Google update that is messing with the SERPs or if it is permanent.

Oh well, I enjoyed it while it lasted. Maybe eventually I'll be back up there.

Link It and They Will Come

As I've mentioned before, I'm doing some SEO/SEM research for my company. Specifically for their national mortgage lending site.

In my reading I've came across Search Engine Land. They provide some very nice articles and have a ton of links to other SEO/SEM related sites. On Friday I spent some time reading through the blogs linked to see what kind of SEO blogs there are out there. While some were outdated or more geared toward the marketing side, Stuntdubl has a very nice article about Search Engine Optimization Warfare. While that may sound a bit dramatic something that I'm coming to quickly realize is just how competitive the SEO market is. Especially given this comment from the blog:

Organic search results ARE NOT "free traffic". It is paid for in a much different way, with calculated risks and rewards. You WILL NEVER rank for the single term "mortgages". In fact, I give you very poor odds for every ranking for "Ohio mortgages" unless you are quite proficient at understanding competitive analysis and the playbook for SEO, and executing on the important elements of top rankings.

Yeah that is encouraging for someone like us who is trying to rank higher for certain mortgage terms. I'm sure we won't be trying to rank for just the word "mortgages" but even the fact that they used that as an example gives you an indication of how competitive the mortgage industry SEO market is.

Something else that I've read over and over again is how important having good in bound links are. Currently is only showing 12 links according to google. Although it ranks a few more from Yahoo and MSN, google gives in bound links more weight so this concerns me a bit. Getting the quality links is something that I'm not sure how to do for out site either.

Which brings up something I've thought about some. What industries are closely related to mortgages? I have a few ideas but unlike other products, we don't really provide a lasting relationship for our customers. We are more of a one trick pony in that we help people get their mortgage but after it closes we may not speak with that customer for a year or so. Not that we are the only mortgage company with this problem though.

Something else that we are going to be working on is providing content on our site that customers will want to use before, during and after the mortgage process. We (and many other companies I'm sure) are wanting to offer services that are related to the mortgage business so that even before someone fills out and application, they use our site.

Here is where you can help. If you have any ideas about services that a mortgage company might provide that you would want to use let me know. Leave a comment or shoot me an email. If you read an interesting article, link to it here or send me an email. I really am looking for all kinds of input.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Weekend Update

We went up to Macon for Taylor's birthday. He got more stuff than we know what to do with. We had a great time.

Yes, this was a boring post. I'll update it later if I think of something. I'm ready for this coming weekend, having a couple extra days off is going to be very nice.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Autobots and Decepticons

Penny Arcade just mentioned the new Transformers Trailer.

Holy. Crap.

I'm completely geeking out here. I'm no Transformers guru but this movie looks awesome. Seeing a few of the more recognizable characters on the big screen is something I was originally very skeptical about but this looks not only well done but better than I thought they could manage.

Check out the trailer. DO IT.


Just a quick note to let my wonderful readers know that I've added a favicon for the blog using the four way stop from Google Maps. Yes that was another plug for Google.

I'm sure some of you have already noticed that the banner at the top and the small image on the right are from Google Maps also. When I originally started the blog I wanted a theme or something to make it more interesting than just my name. Once I realized that the Four Way Stop sounded pretty good, I got to thinking of how could I make that work. A quick Google maps search later, I found not only the location of the four way stop in Callao but was able to find our house in Callao which is where the banner comes from.

I used Paint.NET to make the favicon and resize the small image on the right. I've used GIMP for awhile but I'm really liking Paint.NET better. It loads faster and while not as feature heavy as GIMP it does everything I could need.

I'm really impressed that the banner includes the railroad tracks which anyone who has stayed in that house is intimately familiar with.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mr. G

I've realized that I'm prejudiced. Very in fact.
It isn't as bad as it originally sounds, but I don't use any search engine but Google.

Joe (or Joseph for those of you who haven't known him since college), has already made a post about google but I felt the need to mention a few other tools I've stumbled across while doing my SEO research for work.

First up, Joe showed me Google Notebook. I can't explain how great this tool can be. I've been using it for only a day or so but love the fact that when something occurs to me I can just note it and that note will be on any PC that I sign into Google on. For instance, while writing this post it occurred to me when I linked to WikiPedia that I could make a whole blog entry on it sometime. Then, I made a typo on a word and Firefox let me know by underlining the word in red. I'm not sure if IE offers something like that or not but a note about doing a Firefox vs IE is now in my notebook.

Next, I must mention Google Reader. I'm sure some of you aren't familiar with RSS feeds but it is something that is easy to setup and of great use. I figure it actually saves me time doing research for work. They have a nice tour that explains some of the great features of Reader but I'll sum it up as best as I can. Do you have a website that you check every day? Chances are that the site has some sort of feed if it is professionally done. The feed allows you to only check Google Reader instead of each site. This may not sound like that great of a benefit until you add in all the sites that you might check over a day or even a week. I currently have 20 feeds that I'm subscribed to in Google Reader. Some of those are blogs, some are gaming sites and others are sites like Digg that let me see up to date news on different subjects from one location.

One last thing that I just found via the Lifehacker feed is Google's new Beta Shortcuts. By adding "&esrch=BetaShortcuts" to the end of any google search results, you can use the keyboard shortcuts to navigate. I'm a keyboard kind of person so to me this is huge. I'll be playing with this throughout the day I'm sure. I also found a few other experimental Google search versions.

I'm sorry Mr. Y and Mr. M, but Mr. G is my guy. Maybe it is because my name googles well thanks to this blog.

P.S.: You can subscribe to this blog via Google reader or email.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

It is Never Easy

Got home last night. Ate supper. Julie signs up for WoW. I create a new character, she is still trying to create hers. Her PC is acting all crazy. Jittery video on any input, either mouse or keyboard.

Now being a tech head I figure it might be her video driver since WoW has updated their game version since we last played. I install the latest video drivers. Reboot. Same thing. (I should mention while I'm messing around on her PC Julie is leveling up happily on mine.) Next, I remove all unneeded files on the HD where WoW is installed and defrag the drive. No improvement at all.

I've got it narrowed down now. It is the thing I was hoping it wasn't. (Cue dramatic music.)


Yep, after 4 plus years the video card in Julie's PC has decided to die. Actually it was mine originally but it wasn't supported under Oblivion, so I swapped it into Julie's PC since we had just bought her a new video card for WoW.

I open up her PC and the video card is hot. It smells hot and is too hot for me to mess with for 5 minutes or so. Not good. We then proceed to spend over an hour looking for either cheap canned air or a cheap video card. We end up with cheap canned air and after cleaning the video card and PC up a bit she was able to play for a bit before the card overheated.

Hold the phone! I just realized that we have the old video card in a box somewhere. I was all prepared to rant how a new video card was going to cost me $90, while a new PC (built) would cost me $600 after shipping.

The moral of the story though is that nothing is ever easy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Light is Off

Wouldn't you know it after only five posts on the blog I'm having a day where I'm not sure what I want to talk about. Julie suggested I mention, as I did yesterday, that she and I are hoping to play some WoW tonight. That is, if Taylor behaves himself long enough for us to actually be able to sit down together and play.

I should mention that tomorrow Taylor is two. He has definitely been having days where he is acting two.

I just realized I haven't mentioned Scout in the blog. Scout, buddy! Get off the couch! Good boy.

We adopted Scout last October. The lady told us she thought he would get to about 50 lbs or so. Last we weight him he was 72. Yeah, good guess lady.

Monday, May 14, 2007

It's All Fun and Games

Gaming is something that I've always enjoyed. I'm not what I would consider a hard core gamer at all since I tend to have game ADD.

Lets see currently I'm in the middle of FFXII, Disgaea 2 and I've been playing City of Heroes. City of Heroes just recently added a crafting/loot-ish system that I'm loving. Being able to improve you character through crafting AND the auction house they setup is a great improvement.

Julie and I are probably going to re-up our WoW subscription sometime soon too. Playing with someone in the same room is awesome. Last time we played, we made a couple of Tauren's; Jules played a Hunter and I made a Shaman. I've played a few Hunters so I was able to help her out. The Shaman was okay but I think this time we are going to pick our Human characters back up if Blackhand isn't crazy queues still. Having a tank and healer allows us to do pretty much any quest we need to do.

That brings me around to something I've thought about lately which is the social aspect of most games. With the release of the next generation consoles, the ability to get online and play with others that have the same game is pretty much a requirement for a really successful game. Even the new hand held systems allow for some online play.

This was an area that was exclusive to the PC market for years and was used to attract the 'hard core' gamers. Now some of the games, especially for the Wii, are attracting all sorts of players based on the ability to play against and with others over the internet.

I wonder how many people buy a game just because someone they know told them that it would allow them to play online together? How many of these gamers don't even play the single player version of the game?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all you mom's out there. Thanks for everything thing you do and everything you will do.

Love you Jules. I know, two sorta sappy posts in a row. Sue me.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Nine for a Lifetime

Taylor turns two on the 16th. I can't tell you where these last two years have went, other than in hundreds of diapers and tons of food.

I'm not going to get too mushy or anything but I do want to say that having a child is a treat. It is at times frustrating and then the next moment it is better than you can possibly imagine.

Love you Taylor.

Friday, May 11, 2007

First and Ten

I love the NFL. Football is a ... I guess it is a passion. I spent most of the NFL Draft weekend watching the actual draft. Julie was kind enough to not complain more than once on Sunday.

What is it about football and the NFL that gets me so excited? Here are a few of the things that immediatly come to mind:

  • Football is a true team sport.

  • The hits.

  • The big plays.

  • Being a fan.

I realize that a few of those may seem like they could apply to any sport, and they could. However, out of the big three sports (NFL, NBA, MLB) the NFL is the only sport that is truly a team sport on every down. Without every player doing their job correctly it is almost impossible to win.

I am already counting down the time until my fantasy football drafts and preseason. From there it will only be a few weeks until the real football starts. You will find me on the couch, jumping in the air, and yelling (or cheering) at the TV.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

There is only One

Early this year the company I work for changed most of the leadership and my group has now been put in charge of increasing our web traffic and coming up with marketing ideas. As Joe says here neither of us is a marketing person.

Sure we might be creative but taking on this challenge is something that, while exciting, can be very intimidating.

With that said, if you are reading this you are probably wondering why I've started a blog. Basically, I want to get a better feel for what it takes to maintain a blog. I'm going to steal Joe's idea and try to update every weekday and once on the weekend.

As for the name of the blog, I grew up in a tiny little town (the sign listed 332 as the population) called Callao in Missouri. Growing up, the town only had one four way stop. It was the place to meet my friends and also the place where we were most likely to try and get into trouble. I'm sure as the blog continues I'll be making you put up with more Callao, aka good ole days, stories.