Friday, August 05, 2005

Jared is dead; Long live Jared!

Well, the return to Blogger didn't last long. I opted instead to buy my own domain name and found some absurbly low 'net hosting ($10/year). So without further adue, I ask you kindly to visit my new blogging home at:

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Return to Blogger

Since things with Chris' hosting for kylar.org seem to have died, I've reverted back to the Blogger/Blogspot site. It'll be difficult for awhile as I transition - hell, I might even just get my own domain name and find a suitable host for it (aside from Chris' host, regardless of Goon discounts or not). I'm not entirely sure. We'll see how this goes.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

The End is the Beginning

Welp, that's it for Blogger. For now anyway.

New WordPress-based blog at jared.kylar.org/blog, with all thanks for the sub-domain going to Chris. I'll have a real website up as I get it put together.

I'll be keeping this here, in it's current state.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Power Ballot

U.S. Election 2004[WP | CNN] is quickly on it's way, so I've decided to get political and figure out how in the world I'm supposed to vote while over here. This'll be the 2nd Presidential election that I can vote in and damnit, I'm not going to let screw-ups keep me out of this one.

In the 2000 Presidential Election, I got screwed over because Maryland and Virginia screwed up my registration - Virginia refused mine because they claimed I still lived in Maryland (with my Virginia license in hand) and Maryland had it right with me having moved to Virginia. Virginia would not take me as a walk in. This will NOT happen again.

So, thanks to a Washington Post article (Free Registration or BugMeNot required), I found everything I need to fill out to get registered.

It was off to TellAnAmericanToVote (more or less a simplified interface to FVAP), a couple clicks and I had the forms I need to fill and and get to the US Embassy so I can get a voting ballot.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

The Weekend Update

Slight changes on the blog look. Went to something that was easier on my eyes. Hope it works out for you. Cleaned up the sidebar. Added some pretty Mozilla buttons too!

Started working on the desktop again this weekend. Got some more software updates for it, including Firefox 0.9.2. Wonderful peice of software with some awesome Extension writers out there. I'm working on a real linky blog kinda deal, with some of the goodies I use.

I'm waiting for a response from Vodafone on a way to reliably share the modem with it's Connect Me software - since I haven't found a reliable way to not use it. Once they get back with good news (I hope), then I can just leave the phone plugged into Marti's laptop and I can have my profile and settings and she can have hers without having to play the Switch User game all the time (which drops the connection every time you switch).

Other than that, not much of a weekend here. I actually touched the computers for a good amount of time, so I didn't feel totally out of touch with my normal self. I need to find a real schedule. I didn't play Civ III at all this weekend because the days were spent working on stuff and ripping + burning more DVDs to Region 2-playable discs, but I should be able to find some time this week... I hope.

It was bloody hot this weekend; no matter the cost, we will be buying an A/C unit this week(end) and having it installed that day. I'm not dealing with this 40C weather with no fans or A/C or even enough openable windows (the skylights lack screens, so can't open due to bugs). So the problem will be solved. Yay! *computers rejoice from sound of normal operating temperatures*

Talked to Chris a good bit this weekend - which was cool since I'm not usually online during the week right now. Heard from Dave today too! He lives! *cheer*

Off to sweaty bed I go. Need to try to get some form of rest for work tomorrow.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Marti the Graduate

Today, shortly after 12.15pm, Marti graduated with her degree in Communications. The ceremony was nice and short - a graduate read a short piece, the dean spoke, the choir sang 2 songs and then there was the diploma ceremony. I have pictures - I might be able to post them later on.

This is Marti's 2nd degree, her first being in Spanish. Now she needs to figure out what she's going to do with these degrees ;)

For a graduation present to herself, Marti decided to buy a Satin Silver PlayStation2 and GranTurismo 3 A-SPEC! It's "pretty", Region 2, and hers. And of course, she's already addicted to GranTurismo and she hasn't even gotten into the GT Mode - only the Arcade Mode!

She also got a Sony DSC-P71 digital camera (inherited from her parents), a Sony alarm clock that she fell in love with (it has a 3" diameter snooze button), 2 shirts, a skirt (Yay for summer weather!) and a powered TV antenna so she can clearly watch the local channels that aren't available on the UPC Satellite box.

I am very proud of her achievements. She's worked her ass off for both of her degrees! Yay Marti!

Thursday, June 24, 2004

I'm lonely. So lonely.

So here I am sitting in the hotel room, getting ready for my last full day in the UK. I can’t sleep anymore. I’ve got so many things on my mind that I can never settle to get any rest. I have slept less than 8 hours in the last 3 days, and the entirety of the last 2 weeks has been this way. I guess everything has just been building up.

Being here, pretty much on my own, has led to me missing everything in my life even more now than ever. Yes, I’m here with 3 others, but there is no level that I can connect with them. 3 Hungarian girls, between 25-28, and I swear that on so many levels I am stuck with 15 year old high school girls. I’m finding more and more just how naive they really are. They are people that have never lived on their own; in 2 cases, never had a fulltime job and the responsibilities that come with it. I look at myself and those around me – and it just completely blows my mind away. True, Marti has never lived on her own, but she’s experienced living in the US for 3 months out of a year for over 10 years; an experience that, regardless of country, is life changing and opens your eyes. These girls have neither this experience nor, it seems, the ambition to find it. From what I’ve seen, the girls treat this the same way that most teenagers would treat class: with a half-hearted effort and a half-hearted care.

It’s impossible to strike up a serious conversation with any of them. Politics, economics, art, computers and geeky/nerdy stuff, news… hell, even the weather! Getting 1 sentence out of them is easy. Getting 2 or more is like pulling teeth.

They are just entering life. At 15 I had more experience with “the real world”, or at least had a clue, then they do now. I knew how to build things, how to take care of a garden, how to cook some things – how to take care of myself (except washing clothes – I’m still learning that one). I may not have wanted to do it then, and I may even act like a tard now and not want to do things, but I know how to do them and in some cases enjoy it – or at least knew enough to have a semi-decent conversation.

The simple idea of finding a level with people has gone by the wayside. The 4 of us could be in the IBM cafeteria, and after trying to strike up conversations on ANYTHING, they just go off into their own Hungarian, chitchat, gossipy world. It’s maddening and its driven me to be off on my own, knowing that, while I have to play the team part at work, it will only be a forced thing and it will be me fending for myself whilst the others fend for each other.

And this leads me to where I’m feeling now. I feel lost. I feel lonely. Above all, I miss everyone even more than I ever could have imagined.

I miss Marti. I miss being in Hungary with her. Even with all the things I want to bitch about and think or horrible or ass-backwards, I still miss it. Marti is my life and I can say that it hurts. It’s a different hurt than when I was home in the States because my family existed.

I miss mom and Jess. While the living arrangements were odd at times, I miss being able to hang out with them, just crash on the couch and watch a movie or have dinner together or go out and chill at Champions. We’ve all been through the whole “leaving the nest” thing, but we never moved that far away – and I’m really glad about that because mom and Jess are more than just family, they’re friends and I can actually talk to them about anything. I seriously never thought that would be possible after my asshole teenaged years, but life shocked the hell out of me.

I miss the rest of my family too – all of my friends. Just as mom and Jess are now friends and family, you guys are more family than anything to me. I miss having LAN parties when we could; playing darts with Jason, Dave; the unemployed 2 hour+ phone discussions with Jason about anything-goes geek and then some or the trips to the Apple Store in Tysons Corner because we wanted to oogle what the store had to offer; hanging out at Niso’s; sitting on the hatch of Chris’s truck in the Wal-Mart parking lot at 2:00am; the days/nights of hanging out with Rob and Brad for Trek and South Park or just for the helluva it; the tag-team play through of video games with Brad; Taco Nights with the house filled with a gazillion people, all friends; computer shows every weekend with whoever was game or needed computer parts or fixin’s – and adventure day in itself. It’s not often that you have so many friends that you truly know – I couldn’t count on two hands – and that just helps make life that much enjoyable and easier to go through.

And now I’m realizing that without any of the people that are in my life, without any contact with them since the net and phone situation has been nothing but crap, I am so alone.

The friendships I have, family and pseudo-family alike, are something that could never be replaced. Even being in Hungary and attempting to make friends there, it will never be the same. I’ve known everyone for years. Hell, Chris and I met in 7th grade; I’ve known most of the crew since ’93-’95 from ADS/KIS.Net. I’ve known Niso the shortest and even she’s the greatest old woman friend a 23 year old could have! (sorry Niso – had to =^_^= ).

I can dream about having friends in Hungary. I can dream and it seems that it will stay that way for the time being. Having a “curfew” of 9:30pm to catch the last bus to Fot makes it hard to even go out on “team activities” with work, let alone hanging out with people outside of work. Marti’s friends are exactly that, Marti’s friends. I get along well with them, but I don’t have those ties with them – not to mention a few of them are afraid to talk to me in English for more than 1 sentence or so because OMG It’s my native language!

It’s 1:00am, so I should try to get some sleep or fool myself into thinking I can sleep. I just miss everything and everyone that I have had in my life that are suddenly not there, even though they still are.

To all of you, I miss you and love you.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

US Grand Prix

Holy crap!

That about sums up my reaction to the start of this race! What in bloody hell is going on down there on the track!? First Klien backs off, probably from a slow Da Matta (gearbox issues were picked up over the radio - fixed in pit), but that knocked out 4 racers before turn 2 on lap 1.

Then we've got Alonso, possibly from a tire puncture cause from debris from the first accident. He hit and slid on the wall just before turn 1 - at an estimated 200 mph.

Now we've got Ralf Schumacher possibly unconscious after a massive wreck going in backwards into the wall at the end of turn 13 at 190+ mph. The announcers are speculating it was caused by a tire puncture as well from small bits of the carbonfibre left from either the first crash or from Alonso. They've confirmed that Ralf is alright, but holy crap!

Now Button goes into the garage?! What is up with this race?! Announcers are guessing that Button's engine was getting ready to go. I gotta feel for the guy - he so desperately wants that win. Sato is doing quite well to move up the field after BAR Honda's in-race pit-stops. Sato is one spunky little Japanese racer - lots of power with an angression that could rival Montoya (though not as wreckless)! He's now the only hope that BAR Honda has to bypass Renault in the Constructors - and with him holding the fastest laptime at the moment, he's got a good chance to just that.

Panis is incredibly up there in the top 6 - fighting it out with Sato, so Toyota is holding it's own in this race!

20 Laps Left
Ralf update that he's fine. He's at the Memorial Hospital to get a catscan, has back brusing and a concussion. The race is getting REAL interesting... Schumi leads with Sato in 5th, being only 15 seconds behind - so the top being competitive in the end! w00t w00t!

15 Laps Left
Montoya is black flagged - someone want to explain to me what that is other than the end of Montoya's race? Bad day for them - but at least Ralf is confirmed to be stable.

10 Laps Left
19 seconds back in 3rd place, Sato is looking great! w00t w00t w00t! Truli is close behind and Panis is right up there! Toyota is pulling up for some desperately needed points - man this race is weird! And yes - I'm DAMNED EXCITED ABOUT THIS!

5 Laps Left
More and more interesting - we're down to 8 racers, which means Zsolt Baumgartner IS GOING TO GET A POINT! All of the Hungarian guys are going to go ape shit at the end of this race! According the announcers, it's been 41 Grand Prixs since Minardi has seen a single point, so as long as Zsolt can hold it - he'll be the first Hungarian to earn a point in Formula 1! WTG!

Checkerd Flag
Guess who - Schumi takes the checkerd flag with Rubens right behind him, but Sato snags the 3rd podium position!!! Rock on Sato! Rock on BAR Honda!

American Grand Prix Driver

I'm just moments away from settling down to watch the US Grand Prix on ITV1!

This morning, the Speed Sunday crew were talking with Mario Andretti - the last American Formula 1 racer. After the interview with the lengend I always knew for his Indy career, the group were discussing about the possibility of an American racer, an American team, or even a new track in the US.

On the possibility of the racer, they were discussing that there's a few racers that are in an educational-type program to try to get 1 or 2 American racers into the typically different racing of Formula 1 from the ring-racing we're used to in the States. It would be great to see an American racer, since Andretti stopped racing after the 1979 Formula 1 season.

It'd be even more mind boggling to see an American company jump in - Jordan/Ford doesn't much count as Jordan is the frontline company there and it's European Ford. No one has supporting information that it might happen, but I would love to see Chevy kick into Formula 1 development and racing - or maybe Pontiac, as they have a larger presence in Europe (from what I've seen) than Chevy. Regardless, it could be great PR for the US and a great pickup for possibly getting more Americans into the sport - even in the crowded world of American racing.

On that topic - the CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was interviewed and stated that he would love to see Formula 1 stay there for more time. The reason it's come up is this is the last year of Formula 1's contract with Indianapolis. Both sides wanted to see how much Formula 1 could be picked up in the US, and it seems to have garnered a good response. It took me coming to Hungary to really get into the sport and to appreciate it more and I've just kind of gobbled it up from there. Now, the CEO of Formula 1, in an interview afterward, mentioned that he's commited to 2-5 years more at Indianapolis, but he's also in talks with Manhattan about adding a 2nd circuit in the US. With the schedule crowded already, he said someone would have to go, but there's definitely interest in adding more US courses. I'm sure this has to do with the anti-tobacco laws going in place in Europe, but it should also attract more fans to the sport in the US.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

US Grand Prix, Qualifier

Just finished watching the qualifiers for the US Grand Prix at Inndianapolis. While it's not uncommon to find Ferrari holding Pole (Rubens, 1st Pole of the season) and P2 (Schumi), I gotta jump and screan - Sato has P3! Rock on! Button holds P4, giving BAR Honda the 2nd row, so great work for the BAR Honda boys! w00t w00t! It's interesting to see teams hold rows. Ferrari has the 1st row, BAR Honda holds the 2nd, and the Williams BMW hold 3rd row. I can't wait to see tomorrow's race.

The announcers were talking about some upcoming announcements that I found interesting to now know. Williams BMW has announced they are looking for drives. I'm not sure where Montoya is going, but Ralf is to be inducted to Toyota. Toyota will be dropping Da Matta, so next season is going to be Ralf and Oliver Panis.

McLaren gets their new cars this coming week, hoping to eek an extra 0.5 seconds out of their team. Williams BMW is introducing a slew of updates to their cars next week as well.

It's looking to be a fun race tomorrow - we'll see!

Introducing the New and Improved Marti:
now with more Computing Interest

There's something inherently different and life changing about living with a geek, at least from a woman's point of view. Or so I've been told anyway - on many occasions. Marti has been a very good example of this. From my perspective, in the past, she used the computer when she had to but not for much more. She knew how to use it, how to use what she needed and that was it. She dealt with whatever she was given and used it, whether she liked it or not, and just accepted it as what there was. This has changed drastically in the past 4-5 years that I've been with her.

GUI
I managed to hit up NetCafe again and got to chat with her for awhile. Part of the discussion led into her talking about one of the things she loves most about Lotus Notes: the tabbed interface. For those who do not know what Lotus Notes is, it is a mail client interface to Lotus Notes/Lotus CC:Mail as well as a database interface, portal interface, and a whole slew of other things. And it works using tabs for everything - a concept not heavily used in most software. She's come to use and love having a tabbed interface!

This love of tabs initally comes from her use of Mozilla Browser and Mozilla Firefox. In the past she didn't much care about the browser - just that it worked. Not having broadband, downloading a 15-20MB file for Netscape Navigator or Mozilla didn't much interest her. When I built her desktop machine 3 years ago, I dumped Netscape Navigator 7 on there - it went unused. When I came over this past September, I had already become a full convert of the "less is more" concept provided by Firefox and after a nasty IE-based attack, I dumped her onto fulltime use of Firefox whether she liked it or not - she picked it up quickly and soon found the tabbed interface. It all changed after that. Now she is intolerable to IE and it's "taskbar hell" caused by multiple pages being open! And it's not just Firefox; if I could get GAIM for Windows to be more stable and usable than Trillian, we might have another winner here - because again - she loves the tabbed interface it has!

Now, that may not seem very geeky or elite in itself, but that shows that she is starting to take an interest in exactly how she is interfacing with her computer rather than just dealing with whatever is there. She's converted away from IE because of the lack of tabs and the no-popups. Yes, IE's up-and-coming update will include the urgently needed popup blocker - but as far as I'm aware, a tabbed interface is not quite there in Microsoft's sight.

I/O
Those of us who prefer I/O (input/output) that differ from the typical are sometimes looked upon as freaks or weirdos. I myself prefer small-width/short-depression-distance keyboards similar to those found on laptops or Macintosh keyboards of the Apple IIgs type for ADC or the Apple Pro Keyboard for USB/BlueTooth. I prefer finger-driven trackballs - my trusty MS Explorers have served me well, not to mention cutting down on the pain from CTS.

My buds Jason and Brad love their 101-key spring-loaded tactile-feedback keyboards, circa 1982 from IBM - you know - those clickity keyboards that weigh 40lbs. Brad's a 2-button/scrollwheel kinda guy (though he did kind of like the Logitech finger-driven trackball I used at CellularONE); Jason finds comfort with his thumb-driven MS Trackball and the Apple Pro Mouse.

Jason- if you Google enough, you'll find some Mac users who've gotten their AT Keyboards fully functional on a Mac including a software driven Apple key (using 2 combined keys), though it was for MacOS 8.6 on a PMac 8600 - don't know about OS X - wish I still had the link.


Marti initally was, again, using what she had: your typical 104-key keyboard and a 2-button mouse (with or without scrollwheel, I don't remember) and just stuck with it, not wanting to take the time or money to venture outside of the norm. After 1 summer of using my computer, she fell in love with the MS Natural Keyboard Pro and MS Trackball Explorer. So much to the point that, after recieving those as part of her new computer Christmas/birthday present package, she never wants to give up her trackball and can no longer tolerate using a mouse at work! I'm not 100% sure on the keyboard scenario at work, but for home use she wants to retain her Natural Keyboard no matter the cost. Thankfully when we have the money to go Mac, there are non-Apple USB, RF and BlueTooth solutions out there as Apple shows no interest at this time to produce another natural keyboard (though I can say in their defense, even when my CTS would flare up often, an Apple Pro Keyboard did not cause me any pain whatsoever, so the design might be well off enough for not needing to produce one).


So again, Marti has started to care about her computing experience. She's no longer willing to accept just the norm, but has taken to things that make her more comfortable with her computing time. Not to be punny, but she's finally decided to put the personal back into personal computing - between the software she uses and the way she interacts with the computer. She's come to expect certain things and if something is lacking, drops it like a bad habbit. As her life has come to circle more and more around computing, she's learned that she does actually have choices and she's made choices that help her. For that, I can say that I'm very proud of her.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Tall Man Walking

Sitting here in the hotel and watching ITV1 as they show The Tallest People in Britan. I can say that it's actually comforting to hear the stories of these people. It's reassuring in a way to know that I'm not the only one who got picked on the way I did in school for being the tall, gangly one; who have the same problems with everyday things that people take for granted if they fit into the norm and the same issues that I face.

It's not all that often you meet up with people that are 6'7" (200cm) or taller or wear a size 16US shoe. In high school, there was Terrance (the UMD Terps basketball star) and there was "Feet" (his name escapes me right now) with his size 20US+ shoe, but we were the oddities for the most part. It's interesting to see how others in the world have gotten on with their lives.

I've actually been making an effort to fix some of the problems I've had in the past few years, the biggest being slouching - something touched on by one of the women, at 6'5",and 2 of the fellas on the show, one being 7'6"; the other being closer to my height at 6'8". It takes conscious effort and a good deal of shoulder pain, but I'm working on actually walking straight after being hunched over all those years in school and elsewhere. It's amazing the difference of how you feel of actually standing straight. And for once my knees don't hurt with all the walking I've been doing! I know the 2 are probably linked, but I'm truly blown away by it.

The show also helped touch on another point and that was how they handled everyday things. like furniture, clothing, cramped spaces and vehicles. The 6'8" guy actually drives a SMART! Google it to find out more, but it's a car developed by Swatch (yes, the watch company) and Mercedes (I think) - but it's TINY! And this guy that's taller than me by an inch can drive this wonder of wonders! Nice to know ;)

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Post race

Well, that was an interesting race. Kind of. I must say, the Canadian GP is awesome because of the straight-aways the it has, allowing for some massive speed.

I'll give props to Michael Schumacher for being the first ever to win a Grand Prix 7 times, but damnit someone else needs to win! Renault showed lots of promise, but Truli was out even before Turn 1! I won't ask about the massive pileup on Turn 3, as ITV1 did a shoddy job of covering it, but it looks like it was rather painful for Webber.

Kimi did amazingly well consindering all the problems he had. Between 5 pits, 3 steering wheel changes and a slew of other problems he still managed 2 points out of this race! He certainly seems to have picked up some motivation to get back into the game, especially with the new chassis from McLaren on it's way.

BAR Honda had their ups-and-downs again, just like the qualifiers. What in the bloody hell is up with Sato's engines?! This is, what, the 3rd (4th?) engine blow in a row? The ITV1 announcers mentioned something about development parts being used in Sato's engine - can anyone provide more details? I just don't get how Sato's car is blowing all the time and Button's doesn't. Yes, their driving styles are different and Sato is still learning to handle all the power he's been given this season, but Button has been pushing his car to some seriously competitive limits without these problems. Button did have a good day today. He did finish at P4, back from his P2 start, but he still had the pride of keeping ahead of Montoya. It might've been a different story if both Renault cars finished, but Button has proven that even that won't stop him from earning a 1st place finish.

I am happy to see Williams get a podium position with Ralf, taking 2nd. He deserves some non-negative lime-lite, as he does seem to be a very competent driver. Hopefully things between him and Montoya calm down.

We'll see how things go at Indianapolis next weekend as the US GP takes place. I'm still getting familiar with the track layouts, but hopefully there's some excitement to be had. I would love to see Button and Sato both have a good race and maybe Toyota eek into the top 8. Da Matta has been improving greatly of late.

Do I sound like an announcer? Heh. Maybe. I guess I just enjoy that there's something I can actually keep pace with - not like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, tennis, golf, yadda, yadda.

On a show called TopGear this evening (on ITV1 I think), they showed another alternatively powered car: Methane. Putting it into a slightly modified natural-gas powered vehicle, they ran a car off human methane and cow methane! Guys - Taco Bell might actually help us save fuel costs in the future! =^_^=

Weekend of Racing and Sport

It's been a big weekend for racing, football and sport in general. We saw the kickoff of the Le Mans 24 hour, which has just ended as I write this. We also had the kickoff of the UEFA Euro 2004 with Portugaul v. Greece (1-2) and Spain v. Russia (1-0). Today we've got the Canadian GP and then England v. France almost immediately afterwards. Then there's the England v. New Zealand test cricket match 4 going on at the moment. I understand NOTHING of this game other than you have to break the "wicket" with the ball - I have a morning taxi driver to thank for this information. There is also a tennis championship going on somewhere. Now, between the Le Mans and the Canadian GP, ITV1 is showing a motorcyle race. Jim would be happy to see all the Ducatti 998 and 999 series bikes racing (too bad a Honda is leading the race atm [update: and won]). So it's pretty busy in the sport world.

The Le Mans is a VERY interesting race. It's 24 hours, obviously, with 48 cars coming to about 377 laps of an 8.6 mile track - but it's based on time not laps, which is very different from typical racing. To be qualified for a position in the end, you need to complete a certain amount of laps and the driver must complete at least 70% of the time driving. Stressful, I'm sure, is an understatement.

There are 3 classes of cars racing at the same time: Prototype, GTS (modified sports car) and GS. There were 2 odd-ball cars in the race: 1 being powered by diesel (was pulled out over a gearbox problem) and a Ethenol Bio (vegitable oil derivitive) powered car which managed to finish. It's pretty cool to see some alternative fuel sources being competitive. Kinda gives that whole idea that it CAN be done. If a prototype car can maintain speeds of up to 200mph for over 3,000 miles in a 24 hour period, it should be completley possible to do it fulltime in a commercially available vehicle.

Audi took all 3 podium positions, the winner being Team Goh Audi R8, an all Japanese team (the announcers kept putting emphesis on this). In the GTS class, Corvettes lead the pack [GO CHEVY!], taking 1st (Oliver Gavon) and 2nd. It's also worth mentioning that Rally racer Colin McRae was amongst the drivers. I don't know very much of racing outside of NASCAR and Formula 1, but this was one impressive race.

Today's Formula 1 Canadian GP is looking to be one hell of a race. I watched the qualifiers last night, and Ferrari was dominated with Shumi and Rubens sitting in P6 and P7. The Williams BMW team is still bickering amongst eachother over Montoya's crash into Ralf Schumacher in the first turn of the first lap at Nurbering, but now they've got more bickering as Ralf has taken the Pole while Montoya sits in P3.

BAR Honda had good and bad: Button had pole until Ralf (last driver) took it away by 0.066 seconds and now sits in P2. Button's lap was executed perfectly, bypassing Shumi by a whole second (Schumi had pole at the time). Later, Sato was 2 turns away from possibly being able to overtake Button as the 2nd time position had him being faster than Button, but spun out just shy of the line. He was able to recover from the 360 and still pulled in P17, ahead of the Minardi club, but it's going to be a miracle to see him pull up into the top 8 if his engine doesn't blow on him. I'm pretty much a fulltime supporter of BAR Honda now, though I'm still rooting for Toyota as well, so all I can say right now is "GO BUTTON!.

I won't go into heavy deatil with the other sports events because 1) this is getting long, 2) I don't understand the sports (Soccer, a little, but Cricket?!) and 3) I don't have that much interest in those sports. Enough to watch, but not enough to make comments on them ;)

Take care folks! I'll be back with more later this week as things progress.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Overview of Portsmouth, UK

This has been a tough week. With Peggy, Ronald Reagan and now Ray Charles passing on there hasn't exactly been a lot of joy. It makes you take a step back and think about what you are actually doing with your life. That's very depressing at the moment. I swear I just had this last month!

Things here in the UK are a tad different than the US, but it's probably the closest to the US that you'll get in Europe - for those curious. I guess in a way, we're not all that different afterall, no matter how much people want to think that Americans are evil people who started a war (right now anyway). I could honestly see this as a "home away from home" place. It's weird because Portsmouth actually gives me a feeling of Endicott and Frederick mixed with a little of the Inner Harbor in Baltimore.

You've got Gunwarf Quays and Southsea where things are built up, wealthier, waterfront properties similar to the way the piers have shot up around Inner Harbor of late.

The area surrounding IBM North Harbour mixes that whole feeling of IBM Endicott with one of the parks that we used to go riding our bikes in Endicott. There's a lake on the property with a walking/bike path around it.

Downtown Portsmouth has that downtown Frederick homely feel to it, with English architecture. Lots of little storelets, family-owned pubs, 2-story rowhouses and slightly thinner roads complete the area.

Northside is a little less attractive, being like some areas of Baltimore or the area around Krugs in Frederick, but it's still a busy place lined with pubs, clubs, and family restaurant/pubs complete with Guiness signs (the UK is the highest consumer of alcohol in the world - everything is a pub around here)!

It's a quaint area, Portsmouth is. But definitely need a scooter, motorcycle or car to get around. Walking no less than a mile to get to Commercial Rd. everyday is a pain. It's at least 0.75 miles up the road to get to the Northside strip where the pubs and other food joints are. A pain to say the least. Yes, it's exercise, but with all the walking I've done in the last 2 weeks, I've got blisters on my feet (wearing both my Nike boots and Vans). Oh well. =^_^=

War Walking

Not to take no for an answer for free Internet access today, I did my first actual WarWalk today. Using the IBM ThinkPad T23 running Windows 2000 SP4 I've been supplied with for the machine, my trusty NetGear MA401 802.11B PCMCIA NIC and Network Stumbler 0.40 I managed to find 24 APs in the area - 12 insecure, 12 secure via WEP.

I was actually shocked to see one from BTOpenzone, a commercial hotspot WISP run by British Telecom. They don't accept AmEx, otherwise I would have probably hopped on while waiting in a Burger King for the rain to stop. But it's nice to know that WISPs actually exist and run, even if they are run by the bigtime telecoms. Good to know there's a market for them.

This WarWalk actually gave an interesting look at things for me. 4 of the 24 APs I hit were using the default SSID (1 D-Link, 1 Belkin, 2 2Wire) - 2 were secured using WEP.

That lone insecure Belkin was found walking along the sidewalk of a residential building near a bench, so if it's not raining, I might have some good luck with snagging an IP address. The signal/noise was -67dBm, which should be plenty good enough to maintain a 2Mbps connection.

There is a rather large area WLAN at the square near the Universiry of Portsmouth and the library that carries the SSID of mycloud. I ended up bouncing off of 4 of their APs in a 3 minute time frame. From what I could tell from walking around the University is that it is not run by them, so it might be another WISP like BTOpenzone or one of the gazillion businesses there, but whatever it is, it's BIG. All of them connected with signal/noise greater than -80dBm the instant I picked them up, so I should be able to at least get an IP from them and sustain 2-6Mbps as they were not encrypted.

Overall, today was an interesting day that I wish I could've gotten some pictures in, but it was a very dreary and rainy day for the most part. It's cleared up now, but I'm just too damned sore right now to go out. Also the pubs were getting quite busy as the Portugal v. Greece game stars soon to kickoff the UEFA Euro 2004 Football [Soccer] Championship, with Spain v. Russia at 19.25 tonight. Tomorrow will be interesting with the England v. France game. I do plan on more War Walking, and I will be snapping pictures of the area - as long as the weather will cooperate.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Farewell Reagan

So here I am in the hotel. And I've been watching BBC. I watched former President Ronald Reagan's funeral. I watched the eulogies given by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former President George Bush and President "dubya". And I can't help but feel an absolute sense of home sickness.

I was born during the final months of the Carter presidency, thus spending my first 8 years under the Reagan administration. I can't say that I knew much, or anything, about politics, but I can say that I admired the country that he shaped for me to grow up in. As I grew older and started understanding politics more, I could say that I thought, and still do think, that he is and probably will be the greatest president that will be in office in my lifetime. There's something about growing up in the Reagan era that has given me a sort of optimistic outlook on things in the world. Maybe it's because I was too young to know the harsh realities of life that I do now, but it seemed back then that everything was, well, happier. The economy was good, so everyone was a tad bit better off than the previous generation. People, it seemed, were motivated in that they could truly do what they put their minds to. The people were who the Executive Branch turned to for answers. The whole concept of less government, more commercial helped make the United States a top contender in many areas, including the economic and scientific arenas.

Growing up, there was always this visual that in some sort of weird way, Reagan and Gorbachov were more friends than enemies. I'll put that to childish innocence, but that ideal was given nonetheless. And in the end, Reagan succeeded in doing what he thought was right with helping to bring about the fall of the U.S.S.R. I look at it now with the mind that he helped create the opporunities that lead to Marti and I meeting. Directly and indirectly, he helped the two of us meet. For that I have to to be thankful.

When I was young, I was an astronomy nut. I remember vividly the day Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. I was 5. I also remember Reagan giving his address to the public. It wasn't exactly something I could entirely grasp but it was something to try to make those who felt saddness, feel better. Something that I know now was one of his greatest strengths. He had that charisma that so many politicians today try to mimic with, usually, complete and utter failure.

I heard it on BBC2 that Congress is now suggesting that Reagan's face be added to Mount Rushmore. I fully support this idea. He was a man who helped not only the United States, but the world, take a step in the right direction.

It is because of Reagan that I started liking the Republican side of politics. I've sinced re-nig'd on that view, but on afterthought, had I been old enough, I would have voted for him.

I'm sorry for the incomprehensible rambling here folks, but I was deeply saddened by his death, watching the motorcade on Wednesday, the viewings on Thursday, and now the funeral today.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Farewell Peggy

A dear friend of Marti's passed away today. She's heartbroken on so many levels. I wish I could be there for her, but alas I'm not able to which is heartwretching to me.

Peggy had been battling cancer for awhile, always being a strong goer, doing what she could to fight it and overcome it.

Rest well Peggy. You will be missed.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Jared goes to England

Sorry for the very long delay in posts. Never ment for it to happen.

tl;dr:
May 22 - May 30:
- working. a lot. so much that I rarely got on the net when I got home (actually, I don't think I did at all). Mostly work, go home, sleep; repeat.
- Confirmed word on May 28th that I would indeed be going to the UK for not 2 weeks but 4 with a return in June 25th. Marti wasn't/isn't happy.

May 31 - June 4:
- Fly Malev Airlines from Hungary to London-Heathrow then catch taxi to Portsmouth, UK.
- Begin Procurement training for the Maritime GSP group.

So far the weather has been wonderful. Small bit of rain when we landed at Heathrow (if I'm spelling it wrong, sorry), but nonetheless it's been in the low 20C temps with partly cloudy to clear days. Wonderful.

The hotel, the Travelodge Portsmouth in North End (aka North Harbor) is alright. the bed is comfortable, but that's about it. 4 channels of TV, of which 2 of them are BBC News and a BBC rotating channel that plays CBBC, ITVC, BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, and like 4 other channels. It changes the channel at the end of every program, but some programs are an hour, then off-air for 2 hours, and then back on - so you miss the finale. There's no phoneline and I've now been informed that there isn't much hope in the way of the phone being connected during my stay. No phone means no calls to Marti, no dial-up at the hotel, nothing at all in the way of communication. OK, so it kinda sucks. I really don't think I've been a hotel THIS bad in a good long while and that includes the 5 billion hotels I stayed in while working for I\Tech.

Training has been going well. SAP is a MASSIVE system and I'm starting to get over my fears of submitting Purchase Orders. I've done 3 so far this week, more or less on my own - I've had a few questions, but the proceedure is coming along nicely I think. I'm happy that the training is at a fast/intensive pace.

As for the people around here, they're all generally nice. The IBMers are cool people. I plan on hanging out with Cassie (she was in Budapest training Marti's group) and Therese (my trainer) tomorrow after Cassie buys a car. She wants to do a pub crawl around Gunwarf Quays (it's pronounced Keys, I have no idea why) - and I'm in. For £2/pint of Guisness (or cheaper) - it's not all that bad.

So now we're here for today. I'm currently at Netc@fé Portsmouth at £3/hour (£5.50/2hours). And by the way it's looking, I'll be here for a good few more times too. I hate the British layout keyboards, but I do have to give credit to them:

the keyboards, mice, and monitors are all digital

I will have pictures posted as I can. I forgot to bring the USB cable, so yes, I do suck. I promise though, I will have pictures and I will have more posts. Especially now that I know where some net access is.

Just on a side note: I'm stumbling for hotspots but haven't found any I can use in the vacinity of the hotel. I've found a few out and about, but nowhere near a place I can easily sit and borrow net access on open access points. Hopefully I'll find something somewhere.

Mood: Relieved
Tune: cars driving by outside on Market Way

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Employment r00lz

..to an extent. This is a big deal and I'm glad to be working. I've never had experience in Procurement, SAP, or anything else related to this side of the contracting table. At the same time, there are a lot of things I fear or am worried about or downright dislike. It may be IBM or it could be the German and Hungarian management or the US government, but whatever it is, I don't like it. So here it is, in the best I can give:

The Good
I'm completely happy to be employed again. I'm thrilled to be IBM employed. It's also a very interesting job, even if it is recieving a Req from an internal IBMer and creating a Purchase Order (PO) out of it and then pretty much tracking the PO and future invoice from the supplier and working any issues out with the supplier, requestor, Accounts Payable, etc. But I'm still in training, so it may not be all that glorious in the future; it might just be being a newbie.

The people I'll be working with all seem to be pretty nice. Some might be brown-nosers or pretentious, but generally nice none the less.

I seem to be hitting it off with upper management. One, a Britan, is exceptionally happy to have an ex-techie working in procurement - finding that I might be extremely useful in the UK Products team since I'd actually be familiar with the things we'd be resposible for (hardware, software, etc). Very friendly guy and one of the smoothest talkers I've ever met. In general, I think I'm the only American in the office, so standing out is pretty easy.

Also, after SAP training this coming week, I will be spending 2 weeks in North Harbor, UK for additional training for the UK Maritime Ops group.


The Bad
English is the offical internal language of the company. Yet, as seen in my Lotus Notes "training" (Notes 6 is more-or-less the same from Notes 4, which I have run) on Thursday, classes are run entirely in Hungarian. Now, with the aforementioned Notes, this isn't an issue since I'm already familiar with the software. The one running the training was the lead IT person for IBM Hungary - quite proficient in English (as are everyone that works at IBM Hungary), yet the lesson was in Hungarian and the instrctor refused to change to English. However, upon finding out (more in a passing comment - I wasn't really complaining by this time), my manager had quite an issue with it. I don't know how far it'll go, but seriously, standards need to be adhered to. Everyone is capable of speaking English. Non-Hungarian speakers are present within the location (I'm not the only one!), yet these people refuse to speak it.

No one seems to know what is going on. Looking at the training schedule, I don't think we've followed it once. Hell, if it weren't for 5 of the 7 memebers of the incoming group going to France on Monday, we would have been let go 2 minutes after returning from the unscheduled 1.5 hour lunch we had on Friday. This seems to be the norm for everything in the office (not knowing what's going on, not following schedules).. at least from the first impressions.


The Ugly

edited for stupidity


That's it for now. I'll write more later. We picked up an 80GB Maxtor drive (5400rpm, 2MB cache for 16000HUF), so I get to start working on her desktop machine again! w00t!

Mood: Exhausted
Tune: CNN : Late Edition

Friday, May 14, 2004

Have I Matured?

Something has been bothering me the past couple of months in reguards to my computing. Maybe it's because I don't have the unlimited access that I used to have. Maybe it is something to do with maturing that all computer geeks go through. I don't know.

After today's events with bendy and all of the tweaking issues with rika over the past 5 months, I think I've come to conclusion that doing tweaking is no longer... fun. I find myself looking more and more at pre-built machines, at software that Just WorksTM and solutions that are there for work to get done; to encourage productivity.

Does this mean that as I find myself increasingly interested in design and graphics that I will become less of a geek in the eyes of my peers simply because I don't want to dick around with things anymore? I still like to tinker, only on a machine that isn't an everyday machine (something I don't have and won't for awhile). I just don't have the desire to sit down and work my way through getting an OS or software to work with hardware or play around and swap hardware around all the time.

Maybe it's because I "tasted the Apple" (punny?) and it's been slowly infecting me like a virus. Mac people generally aren't tinkerers. They just want it to work and for the most part, if not always, it does. There's a lot to be said for that, especially for a platform that has a smaller footprint than Linux according to recent analysts.

But today has just made me realise that hardware and OS tinkering just isn't something I want to do anymore. I want to be productive. I want to be able to just do whatever it is that I want to do without having to worry about the platform I'm working on outside of the inevitable hardware failure.

Could this be a continuation of when I dropped from 5 functional workstations, 1 laptop and 1 PDA to what now amounts to 1 workstation in the US and a laptop-turned-server-until-she-dies? Was the consolidation more maturity than it was just a want to have some spare cash?

I'm rambling, but really.. have I matured in my way of thinking or am I just becoming less of a geek? I'm at a loss of what to think and since it's difficult to look at one's self to figure this out, I pose the question to you (whoever is reading this).

Mood: Confused
Tune: Madonna : Die Another Day

This just in

I begin working on Monday!

May 17th is when the final group of procurement employees start. IBM just got back to me; they want me to start with the rest of the group - work permit or no. PriceWaterhouseCoopers hasn't been able to secure a permit yet, but they are hoping to Any Day NowTM. So for me, this is a Good ThingTM.

Beyond that right now, I have no clue about anything else. I'll find the rest out as I go I guess. Marti is going to try to get some information before she leaves work today, such as

- When do I sign a contract?
- What do I have to do when arriving on Monday?

Otherwise, I think I'm all set for this. Kiss broadband goodbye. Rob, I still haven't had a chance to look at those pictures you sent me because I never got to broadband since then. I have no idea when I'll be able to get to them. Thankfully Gmail gives that 1,000MB of storage otherwise I'd be screwed, right?

More as it comes. Yay!

Mood: Exceited
Tune: Utah Saints : What Can you Do For Me

Some guys have all the luck

I, it seems, am not one of them. With Rika passing on to become more serverish in her final days, Marti's desktop, bendy, has fallen to a case of Dead Western Digital 30GB Drive syndrome. Anyone who has bought a 30GB or 80GB Western Digital hard drive in the last 2 years knows, after the fact, that there were a LARGE batch of drives with issues. In some cases, we're talking 5-6 drives a month going south. I guess deep down, I knew this would happened eventually to bendy. After being a die-hard WD fan for a good number of years, the experience with failing hard drives left me no choice but to abandon WD in the future. Maxtor ($ per GB) and Seagate (near silent @14 decibels) are my hard drive friends now.

The drive is not totally dead yet, but the boot sector is completely fubar and I'm now getting errors about uncorrectable sectors (most likely physical damage to the drive platter). Thankfully I have a Knoppix disc so I can dump 20GB or so of files to Marti's laptop and to Rika.

UPDATE: It seems the drive is corrupt beyond all repair. All backed up data is confirmed corrupt. The drive itself started the "Click of Death" in mid-taring. At this point, data loss is now 100% for the drive.

My only issue is that I have to tar everything up because Konqueror doesn't know how to handle the added Latin characters in filenames thus fubaring the network copy. Why can't we just standardize on UTF-8 or UTF-16?! Nautilus handles this just fine, but that's a GNOME app, which isn't part of the KDE-based Knoppix.

Tomorrow the plan is to go shopping. I'm looking at snagging an 80GB-120GB Maxtor (so I can quiet down bendy) and a 256MB stick of PC-133 to try to speed him up a tad, as 256MB is just not enough to run XP. The larger hard drive should be the end-all of "Where can I park my data, since Rika's days are numbered?" issues and space arguments concerning the mp3 collection and it's 22GB of data mass (and growing as I find more CDs around the house to rip).

Today is the backup day where I can finalize cleaning off the dying 30GB drive.

Mood: Irritated
Tune: The Black Mages : Clash on the Big Bridge

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Changes

So I adopted one of the pre-made templates that Blogger currently has to offer. And from none other than Douglas Bowman to boot! I made slight changes to the CSS (font sizes), and more changes will come in the future, since templates are now XML 1.0 strict compliant so there's some more things I need to learn, not to mention an entire new CSS layout and new BlogTags.

w00t! This is gunna be FUN!

Edit: After playing around enough, I got the sidebar re-established and updated, so everyone is linked.

Blogger goes Modern; I'm a Google Fanboi

The Great Blogger Relaunch occured and WOW! I'm totally digging this. Lots of new features, including Blogger commenting! I'm looking into it right now, and I might be disabling my backBlog account if this works out the way I'm hoping it does. Template madifications to come soon.

This is the year of Google, for me at least. I've been addicted to the search engine more or less since it's launch. Then there are the Image Search, Groups Search (USENET/Newsgroups), Calculator and many other features that I've been using heavily. Froogle launched and it's better than Pricewatch to find computer stuff and is excellent for finding ANYTHING for sale on the net.

When looking for almost ANYTHING, it's now up to Google to give me my answers; I'm waiting for a BabelFish like translator. Google does have Language Tools, however they are not up to the power of the 3rd-party powered BabelFish. Actually, I'm looking for a Firefox Extension that will do this on the fly.

Then there came Orkut, a social networking service that is available by invitation only. I'm now a member, so look me up! There are a good number of exciting people on Orkut and I'm starting to make my rounds in meeting people after lurking for a few weeks.

Now there's Gmail, Google's answer to e-mail with 1,000MB of storage space and a rather cool interface, though it is a tad slow on the GPRS for all the JavaScript to load up. Still, I can get to my Inbox faster than through Yahoo! or Hotmail/MSN. The Adelphia webmail interface is still by far the fastest for loading. Yet none of them come close to the online storage capacity or the Googlely search capabilities.

If I weren't broke, I might actually try to get into the upcoming Google IPO. I don't know a damned thing about the stock market (something I would like to change) but I haven't desired pre-IPO stock like this since RedHat applied for it's IPO. It was depressing for those of us who spent all day at work watching the real-time tickers as RedHat climbed and climbed and climbed. A lot of market analysts see this as being a "Bubble Era"-styled IPO, seeing as how Google is now more than a tech company - it's a social phenomenon - not even in the sense of a fad, but more so in the sense that it's here to stay and continues to innovate and renovate the way that we experience the Interweb.

Note: To those waiting for a picture of the smile, you'll have to wait until I get back to broadband. Hopefully that is this week, but I don't know.

Current Mood: Happy
Currently listening to: Kylie Minogue :: Red Blooded Woman :: Body Landuage, Track 6

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Say CHEESE!

Well, it happened. It took who knows how many years for it to finally happen, but it did!

As of yesterday afternoon, as the pain was still settling down, I had all 6 crowns cemented into place! I have a smile again! In addition to the crowns, the metal brace that has been on the bottom of my mouth for the past 5-7 years (I don't remember when it was put it) was also removed. After everything was said and done and I got to look into the mirror, I was giddy like a school girl! The dentist and nurse were thoroughly entertained by my giggling and inability to not act like an 8 year old on Christmas Day. ^.^

Photo(s) soon, I promise. I have to take them and PNG-ize the image.

All in all the cost for everything over the last month was 161,000HUF ($785.37). Not being insurred, that's a helluva good price!

As per dentists orders, I cannot eat solid foods until this afternoon, so as to give the cement time to set all good and proper. Also, per orders, I am to wait until the Fall to continue dental work. This will give my gums time to rest, heal and set in with the new crowns.

Yay!

Current Mood: Happy/Giddy
Currently listening to: 103.9FM RádioEgy (Radio 1)

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Goodbye fair Rika . . .

Note: I take my computers my seriously and become (sometimes overly) protective of them. I am not mentally unstable or crazy.
WARNING: Lots of whining.


My laptop, Rika, who would have been 5 years of age this coming June, passed away on the operating table today while this technician tried to revive her. She had been having some serious issues lately as I shortly mentioned in January, again in February and last noted in March. Then this morning, after not being opened for the past week or so (remotely accessed), when opening the lid the left hinge cover and left hinge SNAPPED. Metal and plastic snapping sounds coming from a laptop are NOT HEALTHY. The display fired up, showed me my gdm login screen and about 30 seconds later went FIZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz... POP!. LCD died.

Hard booted. LCD came back for maybe 5 seconds and then died, albeit this time without noise this time. I decided to see if I could find out what that pop noise was, and began removing the display bezel and the rear bezel. Low and behold, with the bezels off and things "floating" freely, the display worked for about a minute... then died. Removing the LCD panel from the bezel showed one of the first problems - the display ribbon cable shows signs of heat damage. Then I found the pop noise. The non-ground wire for the power to the LCD (the pink wire) had it's insulation brunt off and was literally dangling by a thread. Taking the bezel off had moved it back to enough of a connection to power it, but breathing on it wrong caused it to loose it's connection again. I have declared Rika dead at 12:48 CET (GMT +1).

However, all is not TOTALLY lost. I can still ping her IP after waiting for the hard drive to stop on bootup. Luckily I have sshd startup, so I can still remotely connect to her, but as for functioning as a laptop or even usable desktop or workstation, she is lost to me. After 5 hard years in the service of Adam, then Wes, then me, then Bobbo, then back to me for the last 2.5 years, I think it is time to finally let her rest.

But I have now lost my computer. True, there are Marti's desktop (which I'm on right now) and Marti's laptop - but convincing her to load even Starcraft (let alone Baldur's Gate) on her desktop is like convincing Richard Stallman that Microsoft is a good guy. It's even more difficult when it comes to her laptop.

Alis is 5,000 miles away on the other side of the ocean and would involve me going back to get her over here [ie. it's not going to happen]. Upon realizing I just said that, it's hard to imagine that I went from running 6-8 computers at any given time (PDAs and laptops not included in that total) to now being at a singular. Wow. Just... wow.

I know I will get over this, but it still is depressing.

Current Mood: Depressed/Teary Eyed
Currently listening to: Ailsean :: Terra in Black :: OverClocked ReMix, Final Fantasy 6

Monday, May 03, 2004

Aftermath, Round 04

Another to the visit to the dentist (this is getting repetative, isn't it?) and another root canal and tooth shaving. This time though, the dentist made 2 teeth molds, making 3 molds all together. The crowns are to start coming on Wednesday - WEEEEeeeee!

Normal I hurt, bloody, drilled gums, yadda yadda. I swear, aside from the needles, my tolerance for pain has gone up 10-fold already.

Work done so far:
- 6 crowns
- 6 teeth drilled down for crown secure points

Work to be done Wednesday:
- begin fittings for crowns

Current Mood: worn out
Currently Listening to: Theatre of Tragedy :: And When He Falleth :: Velvet Darkness They Fear, Track 5

Saturday, May 01, 2004

And thus the EU expands once again

...this time to 25 nations. Hungary is now one of those wonderful nations in what some people have dubbed the United States of Europe.

Last night, from the house, Marti and I watched the fireworks show that went on at Hero Square (Budapest) last night from here. It's pretty wild being able to see 3 fireworks shows going on in 3 cities when you'reup on this hill - and hear them all too ;)

I have no idea how long before some serious changes are seen, but I welcome the changes to this still-torn-from-Communist-Russia country. One big change will be the duty-free zone that is created in the EU. Maybe now my 16oz peanut butter from Tesco won't cost about $5. *g* But seriously, that will help bring in a lot more to help Hungary regain some of the prestige it held during the pre-World War era.

This also means the eradication of the 25% VAT on all-things electronic from EU nations (though it might be totally eradicated, I'm not sure) - so computers will finally come down in price. I'm actually looking at being able to get my replacement laptop from Europe now (rather than play the funky shipping game with Customs and the US), since I could bring it in from Germany or the UK or even get it HERE (if shops modify their prices to be competitive). Hopefully this helps in the adoption of more electronics and technology in the country.

It was pretty interesting being here for the joining of the EU. I hope to see more history-making events happen while I am here.

Aftermath, Round 3

Work done so far:
- 5 root canals
- 5 front teeth (top) drilled down to 1/8" wide shafts for porcelain crown secure points

Work to be done on Monday:
- another tooth treatment (root canal and drill-shaving)
- possible crown fitting

Round 03 was less painful than Round 02, as only 1 tooth was worked on. This might have to deal with the fact that he had to drill so much of the tooth and did some serious damage to the gum in the process. It hurts like nothing else, but this is my payback for my dental stupidity.

I will have to make the first payment on Monday, coming to HUF80,000 (about $400), so the doctor can pay whoever is actually making the crowns. Another HUF81,000 will be due on Friday (May 7) when all 6 crowns are supposed to be fitted and secured. I will have 6 shiny new teeth in less than a week! Yay!

Upon request from others, I will not be posting a picture of the smile from the Lord of the Rings, even via link. Sorry to those who wanted to see it.

More Dental Chair from Hell news on Monday.

Friday, April 30, 2004

Lessons Learned the Hard Way

There is currently a thread running in SA's GBS forum about lessons people have learned going about it the hard way. Here's some of the more humerous or realistic responses so far that I've found. Unfortunately, I've learned some of these. YMMV.

TLA
"We need to talk" means "You need to listen"

Ysa
Don't live on credit cards when you're out of work
That was about 7 years ago, and I'm still dealing with the debt.

qirex
If all of your friends are telling you your girlfriend is crazy, they're right.

Robot Hobo
Unless you have no other choice, don't ever take a job you know you will hate, just because it pays better than one you'd like.
If you do, not only are you in a job that you hate, ever leaving to take another one may be a step down pay-wise. Leaving a better-paying job that you hate is much harder than just taking the job you wouldn't have hated in the first place.

Pyaemia
Don't get caught naked on two seperate occassions with a differant girl each time, by their mother
Sure they were sisters, but really, parents are a lot less tolerant when they know you've fooled around with both their daughters (let alone one)

Pren
DO:
...notice the warning signs for bi-polar and serious fucking self-esteem/mental issues.

DO NOT:
...fail to run the fuck away when said signs are displayed Batsignalesquely in 500,000 point neon text emanating from that chick you're interested in.

...feel obligated to respond "I love you."

...let your penis think for you.

SimHuman
STRETCH OFTEN. Take hourly breaks from the computer/video game.
I'm 17 and I have debilitating tendinitis and minor carpel tunnel syndrome because I discovered a hereditary connective tissue weakness by doing those things for ten hours a day, virtually nonstop. Get up and walk around every hour or so. Shake out your hands, stretch tall, stretch your forearms. This message was entered with a voice recognition program because I STILL CAN'T TYPE WITHOUT PAIN AFTER ALMOST A YEAR OF THERAPY. The GameCube will still be there when you get back.

Don't collect expensive things.
Learned this at 11 from Beanie Babies, and again at 15 from NES games. Paying $150 for a plush fox because its belly is brown, unlike the $5 white-belly version, is a bad investment. So is $100 for a video game famous for being rare and terrible.

If you know someone is an idiot, don't let their opinion dictate the world.
Still learning this about my father and his rage-tirades. He'll suddenly spend an hour telling me how stupid and worthless I am, and because I'm an idiot, I'll be a total wreck for hours even though everyone else is well aware that he's an angry dumbass. Likewise, just because someone is older than you, or related to you, doesn't mean they're right.

foxxtrot
When a girl comes to you crying, saying that she feels like such a slut. Never agree.

Mr. Ficticious
Stop being so fucking insecure, douchebag. I went through my high school years without ever having a girlfriend, and there's no good goddamned reason for that. But this doesn't just apply to the opposite sex, it applies to everything. Don't be timid just to please people - there are billions of them in the world, so what if a few think you're a goober? In the words of a wise songwriter, "The meek shall inherit absolutely nothing at all / If you stopped being so feeble you could have so much more."

FrozenCat
Get it in writing.
Get it in writing.
Get it in writing.


The (phone/credit card, etc.)company will say whatever they want on the phone to you. They will not honor it. Get it in writing.

4/20 NEVER FORGET
Dont drive like a fucking idiot. - Back when I was younger I was into cars and drove like a maniac, and I paid for it big, actually Im still paying for it. I was in a couple of wrecks that where my fault, and got two "speed race contest" tickets and a multitude of speeding and other tickets. I was paying 350$ a month for full coverage with 1000$ deductibles on a fucking 1993 Honda Civic. (ricer lol) Its been awhile since, all of my shit has dropped off my insurance record except for 2 speeding tickets and 1 speed race ticket, the speed race ticket drops off in June and will save me nearly 75$ per month on full coverage insurance.

keiran_helcyan
College isn't harder than high school. The only difficulty is in motivating yourself to not write that paper at the last possible minute. College makes you a phenominally lazy, ADD ridden, procrastinating bastard. Also go to your lectures, your profs will drop exam info that's not found in your book.

Ramen, while tasty and quick to make, will transform you into Jabba the Hutt's second cousin in three months flat.

While Dance Dance Revolution is both fun and useful for dropping Ramen pounds, it will make you look like a fag in front of your friends.

If your friends consistantly treat you like shit, talk down on you etc. find new friends. You get enough shit from the world, don't take it from your buddies.

Judging by the time you spend on SA, you're probably a nerd. Accept it and find nerd friends. Better yet find a nerd girlfriend. Being able to discuss Star Wars and RPGs with your significant other is super cool.

Standard line about not dating crazy women, not falling in love with crazy women, and learning to let them go when "it's over". Also, if her parents are batshit insane, she's just waiting to loose her craziness on you at the worst possible instant.

hack writer
Working out and eating well can snap you out of your depression.

Cut all contact with Ex-girlfreinds who dumped you.

usurper
Do not fish from the company pool
Yeah, you work a lot. Yeah, the women you meet at work are probably the women you know the most about and spend the most time with. No, do not date them. Dating at work looks easy, it's sometimes fun to "keep a secret" together, but when the secret finally comes out (and it always does), you usually end up looking like a jackass. Some people won't care, some will lose respect for you, some think that it's just bizarre. And if the relationship goes bad, hooo-boy, what a fucking nightmare.*
This rule is magnified by 1000 if you are a manager or executive within your company.*

Do not trust Ortho-Evra as the single line of birth control defense
Need I say more? Girlfriend (from work, LOL!) switched from the pill to the patch. "I hate pills!" she said. "The pill sticks in my throat, I can't swallow it!" she said. Well, guess what, friends?

* Yes, I'm guilty of both of these rules - multiple times.

Well, that's it for now. It's all good advice :)

Time to get ready to leave. I'll write more when I'm feeling up to it.

Current Mood: Nervous
Currently Listening to: Metallica :: Don't Tread On Me :: Metallica, Track 6

Aftermath, Round 02

I'm a little late on this one, but figured I'd put it up anyway.


Round 02 of your journey with me through the pains of the dental chair.

Work done so far:
- 4 root canals
- 4 front teeth (top) drilled down to 1/8" wide shafts for porcelain crown secure points

Work to be finished by 6:00pm CET today:
- 6 root canals
- 6 front teeth (top) drilled to about an eigth of an inch wide shafts for porcelain crown secure points

The work done on Wednesday was horribly bloody. 5 shots of novacaine, 5-10 minutes of waiting for it to kick in hardcore, and off to the Dental Chair from Hell I went. This time, he did the root canals first, which I am thankful for as the novacaine was still quite fresh and all numby. 3 more shots of novacaine and it was time to grind the next 2 teeth down to little tiny shafts. This time I knew it was going to hurt like a bitch when the novacaine wore off, as the dentist had to drill away some of my gums.

Since then, the novacaine gone, I've been feeling my heartbeat in my mouth for over a day. I have now taken to exclusively eating mashed potatoes. If someone wants to airmail me some Jell-O, I'd be grateful - Hungary does not stock this wonder of wonders that every near-liquid-diet patient enjoys (it's similar to the lack of peanut butter - there just isn't a market for it here). Swallowing spit hurts - eating and drinking are difficult and a pain in the best of situations.

Today, I'm leaving the house at 3pm to walk to the dentist (the 40 minute walk will help me cool myself and de-tense - it did on Wednesday anyway - plus it's like 20°C out, so it's nice). Wish me luck.

If only I could go back in time to not be a stupid moron. It would've been a lot less painful ^.^

Oh yeah - I'll have a picture of my current smile up when I get back to feeling like a human again. It will be linked, so you don't have to look if you don't want to. While I'm normally embarrassed by this whole situation, I'm not anymore since I'm sharing it on the Interweb and because I'm actually doing what I said I was going to do over a year ago during a Geek Night: quit smoking and get my smile back. So I guess you could say I'm actually proud of myself for following through on things that needed to be done.

Current Mood: Nervous
Currently Listening to: Tori Amos :: Crazy :: Scarlet's Walk, Track 6

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Ayuchan

About two years ago, while reading an article on Macslash about the musical tastes of the readers, someone mentioned Ayumi Hamasaki and my curiosity peaked. I was already listening to Megumi Hayashibara and Utada Hikaru (Kingdom Hearts fans - if you didn't already know - this is who sings the opening theme), so I was interested in enlightening my ears to more Japanese music.

I quickly became obsessed, finding any Ayu I could - videos, movies, CMs (commercials) - literally anything I could. It's been quite some time since I've been this taken by an artist or band - the last being The Cranberries. Her music ranges from slow paced piano/strings tunes such as LOVE ~Destiny~ to high-paced and fun songs like Independant+.

Needless to say, Ayumi might be that key that actually started to define a genre of music that I prefer: Japanese (aka JPop/JRock/J[insert genre here]). As Brad, Rob, Jason and others have stated, I have no musical taste. I think, after all this time, that is changing - since Japanese is classified (in the US sense) as JPop for genre - just like Hip-Hop, R&B and Rap genres are in the Black Music genre in Europe. Either that or my entire outlook on music is changing - from caring about the lyrics to enjoying the actual music for what it is - music. I can't understand Ayumi (yet - give me 10 years and we'll see how different that is) - but the sound of her voice and the sound of her music is so captivating for me.

Since being introduced to Ayumi, I've expanded to Baby VOX, BoA, The Pillows, Do As Infinity, Gackt, L'Arc-en-Ciel and many many many more... however I still find an obsession in Ayumi's voice and music. I can listen to her for hours on end without ever getting bored with it - ala The Cranberries back in my mid- and late-teens.

The purpose for this post? I was able to snag a copy of her Rainbow album! It's the simple things that make me happy. ^.^

Note: also felt like posting something happy before going to the dentist again for Round 2

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Aftermath, Round 01

Well, I'm still alive after yesterday. My gums hurt like crazy, but it's not AS painful as I thought it would be. I think the most painful point was the 6 shots of novacaine - I hate needles to begin with, and having the novacaine rammed up into your gums and the roof of your mouth is painful.

Work done so far:
- 2 root canals
- 2 front teeth ground down to about an eigth of an inch wide shafts for porcelain crown secure points

Work to be finished by Friday:
- 4 root canals
- same grinding down treatment in preperation for porcelain crowns

The most disturbing part when the work is being done is, of course, being AWAKE to hear all the nasty things he's doing with wires and that damning drill. Also, the smell of teeth being ground up with a drill smells something nasty and the smell turns to taste once the novacaine wears off.

I just keep thinking - this will be over eventually and I will have a newfound fear of the dentist. At least the dentist and his nurse are nice - even though it's VERY difficult to communicate (if at all), they are both light-hearted and the nurse is comforting when I'm in "The Chair" tensing to all hell.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Teeth

Teeth suck. Dentist. Pain, Myself only.

I'm going to the dentist. We'll see how much pain I'm in AFTERWARDS. Oh boy. *sigh*

Gmail comes of age...

to beta anyway! I've started using it already, and i must say I absolutely love it already! Very straight forward, nested-thread style organization with a simple Google interface and awesome DHTML and JavaScript dynamism.

Yes, there is the normal Google "content-based" ad on the right side that you find when you do a Google or Froogle, but it is usually only 2 or 3 ads versus the added number you have in a search. It is indeed based off the content of the e-mail - one e-mail I recieved dealt with a hiking trip to Cunningham Falls, and there were ads for hiking equipment and hiking oriented websites. I find the idea very cool, along with the content-based Google ad that is here (not shown atm, thanks to CSS, as I want banner free on the blog until I can figure out how to place it - if it's possible), even if people out there are screaming privacy. The 1,000MB of storage space is a major plus as well, as I can use this mail account to store large files and download then when I get the change versus having to pull huge files on my seriously limited bandwidth at home.

In all, after day 1 of using Gmail, I am already addicted to the service. I am eagerly awaiting the full offical launch!

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Goons around the world UNITE!

So I'm diggin' around Something Awful's Forums and get the wild idea to go check to see if there are any goons near me. Low-and-behold... no. None that have registered on the Something Awful Goon World Map anyway.

So I get thinking - it'd be nice to know where some goons are. Chris: There are 3 registered World Map goons IN Pensacola, with another one 11 miles away. There's 1 registered back home in Frederick - as far as I know, we don't know him.

It's kinda cool to see where goons are and how they're geographically spread out.

So, if you're a goon and have not registered, please go to FatCow's thread about the World Map.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Oh the pain!

So I decided that it's time to fix my teeth. Partitally because of the massive amount of sharp pain one of my wisdom teeth was causing. So, as of today, I've now had 2 wisdom teeth pulled, will have 1 more pulled Friday and then begin the extensive work required to fix my other teeth.

Starting next week, I'll be at the dentist every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until mid-May. Work will include scraping and whatever else is necessary for caps. When all is said and done, I'll have 14-16 teeth capped in porcelain. It'll cost $100-$150 per tooth. Considering I'm without dental coverage, the price is phenominal. The value of doing it: priceless; I'll be able to smile again!

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Where do you want to go today?

Anywhere but backwards -- something I can achieve!

In all seriousness though, I'm at that point of figuring out where I want to go or more specifically, where I want to be. So I'm just throwing my thoughts out there. While not someone else's decision it's always helpful to get feedback on ideas. Someone who knows me would be able to see me from a different perspective than I can and would be able to critique from that angle.

Life
Marti and I still have no confirmed date for our wedding. This is going to change, we just don't know yet. It will be here in Hungary and and in 2004; I have no doubt of this. Beyond that, everything is up in the air. There won't be any fancy-schmancy wedding, since a courthouse wedding is the only ceremony that would be recognized by the world governments, but there's the needed months-ahead planning for plane tickets for family to be here. For those who are impatiently waiting for a date, trust me, we're going to have a date soon. I promise.

As for where the living of this life is to occur, well, it will be in Hungary for the time being. Specifically, at least until June or July of 2005. When I finally get around to being hired by IBM, I will be contractually bound for 1 year of employment. I have been given the recommendation that, if I should choose to attempt to relocate back to the US, I should stay on-board for at least 2 years in that position to "prove myself". Marti is in the same situation, however her 1 year period will be up at the end of April 2005 and transfers for her would be roughly the same although there would have to be an employer change from Adecco to IBM. We've been assured that this would be a non-issue if all parties involved were accepting.

Another factor will be education. Marti is a test and an oral exam away from finishing her second degree at ELTE University. I'm getting ready to start both of mine. I'd like to at least start some courses here so that I'm heading in the right direction. While I have no intention at this time to persue a full-length university career in Hungary, there is the option at both EU universities as well as US universities. Is Stanford or Carnegie Mellon out of my reach? Likely, but there is always a possibility. What about Helsinki University of Technology, Institute Ivrea, or University of Glasgow? I have not a clue. Reguardless, I have to try and put forth effort in an establishment that I feel would be a worthwhile investment for the large sum of money. The overall deciding factor will be Marti however. She's up for London and I know she'd be keen on Spain as well and the US is always the choice of wonder.

Language: Hungarian
I know that I need to learn Hungarian - now that Marti's 2nd thesis is complete, she can work with me on learning the language. I intend to be able to watch the Formula One races by the time the Grand Prix gets to Hungary on 15 August 2004. While I don't ever plan to be completely fluent in the language, something that is unattainable for the non-native from what I understand, I do intend to be able to hold conversations in most situations, be they talking to Marti's non-English speaking friends or in a business meeting.

There is not only the personal issues with needing to learn the language, but with the plans of going into a human-computer interface [HCI] based field, it could be an invaluable tool in the business world. There are a good number of Hungarian programmers out there. Three open-source projects off the top of my head include MPlayer, GPRS Easy Connect and UHU Linux. I reluctantly list UHU Linux, as I disagree with their bastardization of GNU/Debian Linux, however they are an ever-present open-sourced project in Hungary.

Language: Japanese
Almost everyone that I have thusfar talked to about a degree path in Japanese has either been fully supportive or completely shocked. Be that as it may, I am still pushing forward with the idea that I wish to have one of my majors at University be in Japanese. For one, it fits with my interests in Japanese culture. Second, it is one of the most important languages to know in business and -- besides English and German. In an e-mail I got from Scott Berkun, he said

"As far as fluency - it's always a plus. Japanese is probably the most valuable second language to know in the tech sector. ... It certainly won't hurt you - and i bet you think about the world in a deeper and broader way, and your ideas reflect it, compared to mono-lingual folks like me :)"

That's definitely some inspiration if I've ever seen it! In the end, I see it as an opportunity to learn something that I have been intrigued by since I first learned what Japan and Japanese was.

Interaction Design
Interaction Design is the newly branded name for the profession of designing human-computer interfaces. Bruce Tognazzini, founder of the Apple Human Interface Group, put forth a challenge to those in the industry to finally name and brand themselves as Usability Professionals did a few years ago. Those in the industry responded, branding themselves Interaction Designers. Anyway, these are the people that helped, when utilized, design the layout of the software you're using to read this right now. They're the ones who decided the order of "Yes/No" boxes on dialog boxes should be. They also researched the overall user interaction experience with using a computer. Any way that an individual might act in interfacing with a device, program, or operating system -- these professionals have played key roles. And, after much ado, this is what I want to do with my future. I have been drawn to all aspects of Interaction Design. Methods, philosophies, executions. Part of redesigning the CSS for this blog was part of that want inside me screaming to do something. It's been awhile since I've had that feeling.

Software Engineering - Coding
I'm scrapping the whole idea of learning PHP right now. I'm going to go to the basis of almost all programming languages and start from there: C. I want to get a decent base in C before branching out to PHP or C#/Mono or some other language. This is something I plan on putting in with the aforementioned Interaction Design, as I'd like to be able to design interfaces and code them.

Overall, I hope you get an idea of what I'm thinking. I'm not asking for whether you think this is a good way to go or not; for the educational goals as the life part is without the need of opinions. But I'm looking for honest critique. Do some of you out there have suggestions for schools that offer HCI or Interface Design courses while also offering at least a Minor in Japanese? Does anyone have any suggestions for teaching oneself C? Books? Websites? I'm open to plenty of suggestions.

But at least I have a better idea of where I'm going than I did during this time last year.

On a side note, anyone find it ironic that End Credits from Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace [Disc 2, Track 32] started playing as soon as I finished writing this?

Saturday, April 03, 2004

So much to code, so little time.

I have a T-shirt that says this. After today's misadventures into CSS coding, I've learned that this is all so true -- there just aren't enough waking hours to do everything you want to do! But it's fun as all get out. I completely enjoyed myself learning how to throw together CSS code. I also learned how to layout DIVs in a 2 column layout, which isn't as simple as it sounds.

After 6 hours of reading, hacking, reading some more, hacking some more, and finally being happy with the end result, I present you with the new jupitercore.blogspot.com CSS. It's cleaner and more streamlined than ever before.

I would like to state for the record that I did borrow some CSS code. The A tag CSS is actually from StopDesign, authored by the talented Douglas Bowman. I have given him credit in the code, as seen below:

/* Hyperlink Code
*
* stopdesign base screen style
* author: douglas bowman
* version: 19 Mar 2004
*
* http://www.stopdesign.com/
*
---------------------------------------------- */
a:link, a:visited {
border-bottom:1px dotted #69f;
color:#36c;
text-decoration:none;
}
a:visited {
border-bottom-color:#969;
color:#9966CC;
}
/* wiki class added by Jared Schmidt */
a.wiki {
border-bottom: 1px dotted #393;
color: #393;
title: "Wiki it!";
}
a:hover {
border-bottom:1px solid #f00;
color:#f00;
}

If there is an issue with this and he feels it is classified as CSS Theft, then I will remedy the situation in future code edits. His code is very elegant; his site design also falls under such pleasantries.

I'm still editing the side menu, adding some things that were there and are now gone. The next step will be to rewrite the backBlog template to match the new template.

If anyone has recommendations, please feel free to contact me.