<CharlieDigital/> Programming, Politics, and uhh…pineapples

31Jan/07Off

Sandra In The News!

Posted by Charles Chen

How could I have forgotten to post about this?

My wife was recently featured in the Home News and Tribune; not once, but twice!

To begin with, gosh, could they have used worse pictures of her?

But to be honest, it's an extremely proud moment for our entire family (my mom was really going off the walls over this).

My wife is kind of a dynamic person in this respect: you would never guess, just talking to her, that she has a fairly high level grasp of mathematics (not to mention that in person, she looks like she's 18 (especially when she goes with the curly hair)).  I was quite suprised to see some of her coursework in psychology and education which had her in classes similar to mid-high level computer science math courses (probability and statistics).

As a teacher, she's one of those increasingly rare ones that won't take any crap from the students or the parents...she's very straight up to the parents about her expectations of them and how their role in the development of their child (at least while they're in her class) is crucial to the child's success.  She has a whole crazy system in place to make parents and their kids accountable.

So if your school district is intereted in this Singapore math business, do take a look at her SDE profile ;-)

Filed under: Life No Comments
26Jan/07Off

Utah – Day 3, 4, 5

Posted by Charles Chen

Programmathon was fairly successful. While I enjoy the freedom of working offsite, it's definitely good to get together once in a while and get face to face with everyone (although my gastrointestinal tract begs to differ).

But of course, no trip with Jim is complete without a trip to Hooters :-P

Zorch @ Hooters

Me @ Hooters

Check David's Spiffy Hat

In the Salt Lake City vicinity, the mountains are omnipresent. It's very beautiful out here (but dry as a desert (I started to bleed under my fingernails due to the dryness)).

Mountains Are Omnipresent.

Of course, we had to visit the Standard Supply company nearby the office where they had a giant toilet (for the obese I assume). Brady labeled this portrait: Stinking Man.

The Stinking Man

Being Monday, everyone had to go watch 24 (except me as I don't really watch TV) so we didn't go out to dinner, which saved my body from yet another caloric bombardment. I was too tired anyways, so I plopped down and went to bed early.

On day 4, we went up to "Snow Bird" to have lunch at a lodge there. It was absolutely beautiful. Some of those runs looked incredible...but yeah, I'm too much of a pansy to ski :-P Basketball for me, thanks.

Up On SnowBird For Lunch

SnowBird

Leaving SnowBird

As beautiful as the scenery is out there and as nice a place as Utah seems to be, I'm glad to be back home in New Jersey. My skin and fingers are doing better in just a day back home (be sure to bring some moisturizer with urea if you go out there) as the air out there is just so incredibly arid. It's also kind of weird being in a social setting where 98% of the population is so homogeneous.

One thing that I've learned on this trip is that mini-vans actually aren't that bad. The Sienna was quite peppy for such a large vehicle and rode very well. It even made it through 3-4 inches of snow without issue.

21Jan/07Off

Utah – Day 1, 2

Posted by Charles Chen

It was rough getting out of Newark.  A freak snowstorm delayed the landing of the plane that I was supposed to board and the subsequent snow buildup necessitated de-icing.  I touched down about three and a half hours behind schedule.  To make matters worse, the Hertz counter where my car was reserved was manned by perhaps some of the most incompetent people.  Ever.  There were probably 6 groups in front of me and it took me at least an hour and fifteen minutes just to get my car >:-[ There's something weird about driving a mini-van when you're not expecting it.  While I was supposed to have a Corolla reserved, the only thing they had in the same price class was a Toyota Sienna.  This is actually the first time that I've driven a mini-van...it's kind of weird since I'm used to smaller cars.

We had lunch at Rubio's, a Mexi-Cali place that specialized in fish tacos.  I had a grilled salmon taco, which was delicious (out east, we only have the kinda shitty Baja Fresh).

Dinner was at Joe's Crab Shack, a great seafood place where Jim (our CTO) finally found a satisfactory martini in Utah.  Unfortunately, they also pulled the birthday-boy schtick on me and I had to dance around on a broomstick horse and cowboy hat (I have pictures, but it's just too embarassing)...

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This morning, I woke up to find 3 inches of snow on the ground.  But by that time, I was already dressed and ready to go to the gym.  I wasn't too excited by the prospect of trying to drive in the dark to a gym which I only had rough directions to in 3 inches of snow in a mini-van with California plates...

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But I'm glad I did.  I ended up at the new Lifetime Fitness gym here.  DAAAAAAAAAAYUM.  This is the nicest gym I've ever seen.  It's bigger than the Costco back home.  The indoor pool had two huge, twisty water slides like the ones you find at amusement parks.  The basketball court was full size, well lit, and they actually had good basketballs, too.  And the workout floor: at least 100 weight machines and wall to wall plasma TVs.  It was kind of weird being the only person in such a huge building...I think I would move out here just for this gym :-P

I ended up at the office earlier than anyone else (or so I thought) so I killed some time by writing my name in the snow...

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So begins day two of Programmathon II...

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It turns out that Jim had already arrived at the office. He saw my snow writing and walked downstairs and let me in :-P

We had lunch on day two at some Chinese place in the food court at a nearby mall. Damn that gave me gas (actually, I think eating out anywhere give's me gas).

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After a long day of programming, we ended up having dinner at Johnny Carrino's. I checked the score on the Colts-Pats game and it looked like the Pats were gonna blow the Colts out.

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As you can see, it was my birthday again. Forced against my will, I finished the free chocolate cake and ice-cream.

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19Jan/07Off

Well I’ll Be Damned…

Posted by Charles Chen

Just a few days ago, I was praising Microsoft hardware and support after calling to get my broken IntelliMouse replaced.

So today when I got back from lunch, to my surprise, I found a huge package sitting on my front steps.

new-keyboard.jpg

Awesome!  They sent a whole new set.  Now I have an extra wireless keyboard.

I'm heading out to Utah in 5 hours, so I'll leave this week on a random note:

quincy-log.jpg

For those of you who have been following along, this is my lizard Quincy, who just a few months ago, was the size of my pinky.

17Jan/07Off

Forgive And Forget

Posted by Charles Chen

I really think that one of the big keys to success and happiness in life is to be able to forgive and forget.  With some people, it just comes naturally and easily; they can move on and mend relationships without regards to whatever transpired.

Of course, for many people, this is an acquired life skill that comes with maturity.  Take my mother, for example.  In her younger days, she was probably too unwilling to compromise and too headstrong.  She held her grudges against my father for the longest time, but as the years have passed, she has come to understand how she erred in not being more flexible.  Nowadays, she's pretty much always happy-go-lucky when you bump into her.  Even when we have disagreements or we have a small fight, she never holds it against me.  It's not just me, she's the same way with everyone she meets.

I'm still working on it.  I am kind of egotisctical and unerring in my presumption that I'm always right :-P (just ask my sister).  On top of that, it takes me a long time to forgive and a longer time still to forget.  I hope that I can correct this over time...life's truly too short to hold grudges.  It's just that for some, like me, it takes a really long time for that to set in.

I started thinking about this after reading an article on Jeff McInnis, who was basically banished from the Nets team for a whole year and whose career was put in limbo - especially so considering his age.  But of course, one of the things that comes with age is maturity:

McInnis has refused to criticize New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank, who was apparently upset with McInnis' work ethic following knee surgery last January.

"If that was the case, I'd hold a grudge against every team I've played for," said McInnis, who has played for eight teams. "I can't think of it like that. They gave me $7 million to better my family. I can't be mad at Jersey. They made a decision last summer not to bring me back, but I'm here now. I want to focus on the Bobcats."

"When I was younger I probably wouldn't understand it, but I'm older, I know what's going on. I don't have anything personal against Jersey."

To be honest, with all the trash and rumors I had heard about McInnis and how the Nets treated him (not the classiest ways of doing business), this is a surprisingly mature response.  I hope that I can develop that same outlook on life and learn to be more optimistic and forgiving.

16Jan/07Off

I <3 Microsoft Hardware

Posted by Charles Chen

I know I'll probably come across like a "fanboi", but I really, really like Microsoft's keyboards and mice.  I'm currently using the Natural Ergo 4000 keyboard and it's awesome (you can read my review of it at Amazon).  It's the most comfortable "mainstream" (as in anyone can pick it up in Staples or Office Max) keyboard out there for extended typing usage.  I haven't had cramps or pain in my pinkies for months (CamelCase will do that to you...)!  Months!  And I'm in front of the computer for a good 8-10 hours a day!

Prior to this, I was rocking a Wireless Desktop Pro keyboard/mouse set (which I also reviewed at Amazon).  While quite comfortable in its own right, cannot compare to my current setup of the aforementioned 4000 and Logitech MX Revolution (along with UberOptions).

But anyways, I replaced the mouse included with the WDP set a few months back as the scroll wheel started to gum up and would not scroll or click anymore (damn cats >.<).  So I finally decided to call Microsoft today and see if I could get a replacement since the receiver and keyboard are both still fine.  Fully ready to pay for the replacement and the shipping cost, to my surprise,

  1. The service rep. that answered my phone call was American and spoke "normal" English,
  2. The service rep. was polite and friendly,
  3. The service rep. hooked it up with a replacement mouse, no questions asked (well, except for the standard ones) with no charge at all to me...no shipping, no replacement fee,
  4. The confirmation was sent to me in under an hour...

Yes indeed.  I <3 Microsoft hardware :-D (and great support to boot).

15Jan/07Off

In Memory of MLK…

Posted by Charles Chen

In celebration of this day, I think it's worth the time to listen to a recording of his historic speech.

Could the civil rights movement have had a better, more visionary, and stronger leader than MLK?  It's hard to believe so.  Let's hope that his message doesn't die and lose it's power with today's generation.

I often find myself wondering whom in our time can even be compared to the great people of years past.  Who will we remember as "great" in the decades to come?  It often seems that such people are increasingly rare these days...

I leave you with a passage from his speech which resonates with me:

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

 

Filed under: Life, QOTD No Comments
14Jan/07Off

Updated Site Layout

Posted by Charles Chen

I'm just too lazy to update the blogging engine :P

But at least now, the site renders correctly in FF and IE.

Now what to do about those other link items...

Filed under: Awesome No Comments
13Jan/07Off

Adding Users To A Document Workspace

Posted by Charles Chen

In WSS3, the process of adding users to a document workspace (or any sub-web) has changed from WSS2. The following snippet will allow you to add a user (I've only tested with users mapped to domain accounts) to the workspace:

using(SPSite site = new SPSite("http://ashelia:2345")) {
    using(SPWeb workspace = site.OpenWeb()) {
        string resourceLogin = "ASHELIA\\cchen";
 
        // Ensure that the user exists and conveniently, get
        // an SPUser reference.
        SPUser user = workspace.EnsureUser(resourceLogin);

        // Create a new SPRoleAssignment for the user.
        SPRoleAssignment assignment =
            new SPRoleAssignment(
                user.LoginName, user.LoginName,
                user.Name, user.Notes
            );

        // Add the "Contribute" role definition to the role
        // assignment.
        assignment.RoleDefinitionBindings.Add(
            workspace.RoleDefinitions["Contribute"]
        );

        // Add the assignment to the web.
        workspace.RoleAssignments.Add(assignment);

        // Update the web.
        workspace.Update();
    }
}

Note that when you create a new sub-web, by default, there are 5 role definitions defined for you already. These are:

  1. Full Control
  2. Design
  3. Contribute
  4. Read
  5. Limited Access
Filed under: Dev, SharePoint No Comments
11Jan/07Off

Final Fantasy 12 – The Movie

Posted by Charles Chen

 

Or rather, the cut scenes (in game and pre-rendered) from the game.

If you're like me, you really don't have the time to spend plunking down in front of your TV to play 40-60 hour games anymore.  Most of my gaming time these days is spent with the DS (the greatest gaming platform of this generation?).

But I can't shake my adoration for the Final Fantasy series, even though sometimes it seems like it's been milked to death.  The game always features some of the most creative character, architectural, landscape, and creature designs.  In this respect, Final Fantasy XII does not disappoint...some of the bosses and their specials are just jaw dropping.  It blows my mind that they were able to create this world with such detail, creativity, richness, and beauty.

In any case, if you want to skip to the good stuff, then hop on over to videogamesheaven.net and check out the FFXII cutscenes.  It's worth watching through the whole thing.  I actually think it's fairly well written and the voice acting isn't terrible (Vaan is possibly the worst one but Fran, Balthier, Basch, and Penelo are all great).

On some level, the main theme relates to one of the central themes of the Blade of the Immortal series: how does one come to grips with the desire for revenge and the reality of bloodshed that such a path would entail and the cycle of hatred that is driven by such actions?