Archive for 2012

Morrow Mountain State Park Photos

Published on November 17, 2012

Back in October, my girlfriend and I visited Morrow Mountain state park, located near Albemarle, NC. I just finished posting a small photo album of our visit. As usual, I recommend the park if you’ve never been; it offers some great scenic, hiking, and boating opportunities.

Zoo Pictures

Published on November 5, 2012

Last month, I visited the North Carolina zoo. I took along a new 50mm prime lens with me, and took a few photos. This small photo series is the result. I still have a great deal to learn about using the 50mm lens, so bear with me as I learn.

Fixing Location Services in Android

Published on November 5, 2012

I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus running the Ice Cream Sandwich version (4.0.4) of Android. For some unexplained reason, the location services feature stopped working a few months ago, but only for what seemed like a few applications. Google Plus no longer knew my location, Radar Now no longer knew it, and the stock web browser was also clueless. Google Maps, on the other hand, knew right where I was. Since I use the tablet in the house, GPS isn’t much help. I frustratingly was unable to fix things, until today, when I stumbled on a solution. Here’s how I did it:

  1. I opened up Settings » Location services and unchecked the Location and Google search option
  2. I rebooted my device
  3. Back in Settings » Location services, I rechecked the Location and Google search option
  4. I then toggled the Use wireless networks option, and answered a prompt that appeared about using my network location in third-party apps (or something similar; I don’t have the exact message in front of me).
  5. Success!

Using GPS to lock in on my position worked outside, but that alone didn’t seem to set things right. Disabling the above option, rebooting, and then re-enabling it seemed to do the trick. Hopefully this will help anyone else who might have a similar problem.

Installing iTunes Without the Bloat

Published on October 25, 2012

I went looking for how to install iTunes recently without the bloat (because I remember seeing an article about doing just that a while back), and though I found the article, it had apparently moved from its original location. As such, I’m going to note down the steps here in case said article ever disappears. The following is intended for use on a Windows 7 64-bit system, but I think these steps should work in general. It’s also intended for using an iPod classic, which is the only Apple device I care to use (though these instructions also work with the nano, mini, and shuffle variants).

  1. Download the iTunes installer
  2. Unpack the installer using something like IZArc
  3. Run the installers, using the given commands, in the following order:
    • AppleApplicationSupport.msi /passive
    • Quicktime.msi /passive (if this installer is present)
    • iTunes64.msi /passive

Torchlight 2 Review

Published on October 9, 2012

Back in 2009, I reviewed the original Torchlight. Now that the sequel is out, I thought I’d post a few brief thoughts on it as well. Note that I’ve only played the single-player aspect of this game so far (oddly enough, that’s the kind of gaming I prefer). In short, not only does this game blow the original out of the water, it comes close (in my opinion) to doing the same to Diablo 2, which is my favorite action-RPG of all time.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fort Macon Photos

Published on October 8, 2012

At the end of last month, my girlfriend and I traveled to Fort Macon state park, one of the oldest parks in the state. Located on the Atlantic coast, it’s also one of the most visited parks in North Carolina. As usual, I took my camera along on the visit. If you’re in the Beaufort or Morehead City areas, I highly recommend visiting this historic site. Also, make sure to take a guided tour; you will learn a lot about life at this fort during the Civil War.

On the Importance of Documentation Updates

Published on September 20, 2012

Even though the site aggravated me at first, I still occasionally troll Stack Overflow. One of the leading problems I see in questions pertaining to PHP & MySQL, is people’s use of the MySQL extension in PHP. This extension, it turns out, is being deprecated. But does the documentation reflect this fact? Yes and no.

Certain function pages, such as mysql_real_escape_string, have big red boxes at the top indicating that the extension is being deprecated. “Don’t use this”, they seem to shout. Other function pages, however, such as the mysql_result page, don’t have these warnings. Likewise, the top-level MySQL Drivers and Plugins page lists the MySQL extension first, with no indication whatsoever that the extension is being deprecated.

At the very least, every single documentation page that deals with the MySQL extension in any form or fashion, needs to include information about its intended deprecation. Otherwise, thousands upon thousands of programmers will write code using a plugin that is quickly nearing it’s end-of-life. Which, based on what I see at Stack Overflow, already seems to be the case.

Target Weight Acheived!

Published on July 16, 2012

Back in June of 2010, I began tracking my weight using the Libra app for Android. For those who don’t recall, this app uses some of the tracking ideas presented in The Hacker’s Diet, a fantastic (and free!) weight loss book.

Over the weekend, I finally got the trend line to dip below my target weight for the first time! Here’s a snapshot of the latest chart:

New Weight Chart

This new goal line is slightly modified from my original goal, which can be seen in the old chart:

Old Weight Chart

As you can see, I used to be up in the “overweight” section for someone my height; now I’m down into the “normal” range! I cannot recommend this app highly enough. Simply tracking my weight has been a useful tool in helping me to get a little healthier. Hopefully it can help others out there as well!

Year of the Code Monkey Closed

Published on June 30, 2012

After a great deal of preparation, I have finally closed the doors on Year of the Code Monkey, my former blog URL. All of the old URLs should redirect to this site instead, including the RSS feed. If you have a subscription to the old Year of the Code Monkey RSS feed, please update the URL to point to the Born Geek feed instead. At some point in the future, I will remove the redirection rule for that feed.

As always, let me know if you spot some sort of problem with this migration.

Site Migration Underway

Published on June 30, 2012

I’m in the process of moving my blog posts here to Born Geek. Lots of links, photos, and styles are broken at the moment, so please bear with me as I move all of this data.

Update: The migration has been completed.

Code Articles Moved

Published on June 21, 2012

In further preparation for merging my blog with Born Geek, the “Code” section of this website has been relocated. You will now find all of the old Visual-C++ articles filed as back-dated posts beneath the Visual-C++ tag. If you spot a problem with any of them, let me know by leaving a comment here. Below is a master list of the articles, for convenience:

General Articles

Dialog Based Applications

Window Placement and Sizing

Site Design Tweaks

Published on June 14, 2012

Over the next few days, as I have available time, I will be tweaking the design of this site. My ultimate goal is to merge my blog with this site, closing the former down once that’s complete. The style changes I’ll be making are in anticipation of that move.

If you spot something broken, let me know by leaving a comment here, but just be warned that things will be in a state of flux as I make updates.

Dismal Swamp Photos and a New Site

Published on June 11, 2012

I have just posted new photos from Dismal Swamp State Park. This album also introduces my new photos-only sub-domain: The site utilizes a brand new design, larger album previews, and, beginning with this photo album, larger photos. There are a still a few items I have not yet implemented:

  1. I want a better way to browse through favorite images Fixed!
  2. Images should ideally not wrap off of the page (i.e. they should fit the viewport) This has been fixed, at least in the horizontal case
  3. There should be some sort of “About” page since the site now stands alone Fixed!

None of these features seemed important enough to hold back opening it up to visitors, so that’s why I’m unveiling it today. I will be going back through my posts here and updating all the various links to point to the new URL (old URLs should hopefully redirect correctly). If you spot any bugs with the new site, please let me know. I tested with the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome, as well as Internet Explorer 8. I’d also love to hear your comments on the new site.

Online Single Player Gaming

Published on May 15, 2012

At midnight Pacific time last night, the highly anticipated Diablo 3 was released. Judging by all the negative tweets I woke up to this morning, I’m glad I didn’t buy in to the hype. It seems as though virtually everyone failed to connect to the Blizzard servers last night, something you’re required to do even for single player games.

This point really gnaws at me. On one hand, I’m disgusted that you have to connect to a remote server to enjoy a single-player experience. I’ve seen some claims that this was done to prevent cheating, but we all know that this policy is about software piracy. Who really cares if I cheat while playing by myself? No one, that’s who.

On the other hand, I use Steam all the time, which is an (albeit loose) analogy to Blizzard’s Diablo 3 strategy. I typically connect to the Steam servers before I play, though for virtually all of the games I own, it’s not a requirement. Perhaps it’s the fact that you’re required to connect that bothers me. It’s one more online account that I’d rather not deal with.

A few journalists in the gaming world have predicted that this is the future of single player gaming. Only time will tell whether or not that’s true. Maybe this launch will sour people’s opinions enough that mandatory online gaming will be deferred for a little longer. As a single-player gaming enthusiast, I certainly hope so.

Photos From Chinqua Penn

Published on April 28, 2012

Way back in August of last year, my family and I visited Chinqua Penn plantation, located in Rockingham county, North Carolina. I forgot to post the pictures from that trip, but I’ve finally gotten around to it. This location was an incredible place to visit. Sadly, the house and grounds are now closed to visitors. This past week, the entire contents of the house and grounds were auctioned due to bankruptcy (netting over $3.4 million). It seems that the owner misappropriated money from the companies he owns, and faces several criminal charges, including unlawful cigarette trafficking charges in Mississippi. He will likely face time in prison, and is expected to plead guilty in May. You can learn more on the background of this unfolding story at the Greensboro News and Record.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Published on March 3, 2012

Last night, I finished reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, by Robert Pirsig. What a thought provoking book! It’s essentially an introduction to philosophy, by way of the story of a motorcycle trip that a father (the author) and his son take across the country. The narrative bounces between events of the actual trip and a series of Chautauquas on the author’s nagging question: “What is Quality?” His explorations of what Quality is and what it means for each of us is very intriguing, and has given me some new insights into what I should be striving for in my life.

That said, this book isn’t the easiest read. It’s clearly a volume that warrants a second (and perhaps, third) reading. So much food for thought is presented to the reader, that it becomes difficult to digest. Approach this work with an open mind and with an eagerness to learn. Anything less and you may find yourself bored from the start. If you’re willing to read through it, however, I can guarantee that this book will leave you pondering the same questions that have haunted philosophers all these years.

One other, similar book that I’d like to mention in passing is The Mind of the Maker, by Dorothy Sayers. I read this particular title before reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and found it equally as intriguing. This title is an even more difficult work to get into, but there are such gems embedded within it that the work is worth the effort. Although Sayers’s work focuses primarily on creativity and the art of creating, it inevitably ends up treading over some of the same territory that Pirsig’s work does. Quality, it turns out, is at the root of everything; very intriguing stuff.

Suggested Improvements for Stack Overflow

Published on February 14, 2012

My last post dealt with a few issues I encountered during my first 30 days of using Stack Overflow. I would now like to propose a few ways I think some of these can be smoothed over. This will be my final post on the Stack Overflow topic; I think I’ve pretty well worn it out.

Hide user scores by default
New users shouldn’t see other people’s reputation scores by default. If the primary goal of scores is to identify the most “helpful” users in the community, use a color-coded or sliding scale graphic instead. Perhaps low-scoring users are on the “cool” end of the spectrum, while high-scoring users are on the “hot” side. Hiding scores by default seems to me to be an easy way to take away some of the competitiveness, while leaving some sort of means for determining a contributor’s “worth” to the community.
Implement a back-off for power-users
The more “powerful” a user (i.e. the higher their score), the longer they should be locked out from answering new questions. A delay of this sort doesn’t need to be giant; a few minutes would suffice. For example, perhaps new users can answer questions immediately, an “average” user can’t answer new questions for three minutes, and power users are locked out for five minutes. This would encourage newer users to answer the newest questions, and would make it harder for power users to snatch up points for simply being the fastest on the block.
Implement a delay for accepting answers
If a back-off delay is implemented, clearly an answer acceptance delay is needed. Let’s say that answers for new questions cannot be accepted for 10 or 15 minutes after they are asked. This would give everyone a chance to form well thought out answers to the questions asked, and would help keep new users from gaming the back-off delay.
Create a better user manual
Hire a competent writer and create a better user manual. This should be self explanatory.

If you have thoughts on these suggestions, I’d enjoy hearing them.

Comments Disabled

Software Section Removed

Published on February 9, 2012

After thinking about it for a while, I’ve decided to remove the Software section of this website. The applications that were posted were all relatively ancient, and saw little (if any) download traffic.

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