Blog

Movie Curiosity: Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Posted on: 2008-08-02 10:45:49

This morning, I finally managed to finish <a type="amzn">No Country For Old Men. It was great. One of those genre overlapping movies that doesn't fit into any one particular category. You might say it was basically a "chase" movie (as the Coen brothers called it).

The bad guy in that movie is "Javier Bardem":http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000849/. He's so good at it. Really great. As it turns out, he is going to be in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona":http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0497465/ as well.

It's a little deja vù with what "Gerard Butler":http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0124930/ did with "300":http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0416449/ and "P.S. I Love You":http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0431308/. One minute, the guy is a total ultimate badass putting fear and animosity into the hearts of any intelligent soul, the next he's the reason all the lady's are wishfully sighing and getting all teary-eyed.

His performance in this movie will be a very interesting contrast to what we've seen of him in NCFOM[1].

fn1. Considering that I've only seen him in one other thing, my scope is limited. You might already know he's a great actor.

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Back From Vacation!

Posted on: 2008-08-02 09:46:11

The cruise to Cozumel was amazing. Probably one of the best parts was turning my phone off for 5 days. At first I wasn't sure if I could do it... but we got through it and it was such an amazing experience that I would love to do again.

While I was on vacation, I read <a type="amzn" asin="0441012035">Neuromancer and started reading <a type="amzn" asin="1585426393">The Dumbest Generation. Neuromancer was a great book. It was way ahead of it's time, and if you have seen the Matrix and never read this book, you should. This book was written by the guy who brought into existence the words "cyberspace" and "matrix." Totally worth the read.

The Dumbest Generation is about the death of reading in America's youth. So far it's been very eye-opening. I'm only about 1/3 of the way through it, but I'm going to try to get through it over the course of the next week.

Turning my phone back on after getting home only yielded 3 voicemails (2 about one thing, and 1 that wasn't for me), 100 e-mails (already gone through and finished), and 1 txt message. Not bad.

I've still got some time this weekend to get re-acclimated to life outside of vacation. That's great because my brain is still in vacation mode! Got more stuff going trying to get my business in a better state. We'll see where it is in 5 months!<SCRIPT charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="http://ws.amazon.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=US&ID=V20070822/US/nickvaha-20/8005/e443cb55-0a37-444a-9a42-e111f6a2e840"> </SCRIPT>

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So Much For a Post Every Day

Posted on: 2008-07-25 02:02:38

I've been really busy the past week or so. Leaving on a cruise to Cozumel on Saturday. Woohoo! So everything I've been doing is getting ready for this. I've still got to pack tomorrow and do a bunch of errands.

So I finally redid my office since my roommate moved out and I've been using it more. The old was was... well... see for yourself.

p=. !sites/nickvahalik.com/files/old_office1.jpg!

The desk was there when I moved in. It was falling apart. The black drawers I've had since my college days. There was pretty much no organization, no room to spread out, and very little room to move around.

p=. Old & Busted. Pleh.

p=. !sites/nickvahalik.com/files/old_office2.jpg!

No shelves. Just big, ugly, empty walls. Gag.

p=. New hotness! Woot!

p=. !sites/nickvahalik.com/files/new_office.jpg!

All-in-all I spent less than $800 and the improvement is already having a great effect. I'm way more organized and I actually enjoy working in my office now!

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Rsync Backups Using ExaVault

Posted on: 2008-07-21 13:29:48

When I started "Netoteric":http://netoteric.com/, I wanted to do everything "my way" (aka better than everyone else). As altruistic as it sounds, it's much tougher to do in practice. One of the big things I've had an issue with is handling backups. For over a year, we've been doing disk-to-disk backups inside our servers. This is great for restoring an accidently deleted file, but if something else crazy happens, we're SOL. Enter "ExaVault":http://www.exavault.com/.

I found ExaVault while looking for rsync providers online. They do a lot of FTP stuff but they've added "rsync/Linux Backup with ssh, rsync, and sftp support":http://www.exavault.com/rsync-remote-backup.php. Not shabby. All plans come with unlimited bandwidth (with a note that you are required to do incremental backups after the initial first backup). I'm on the 25 GB plan for $15/mo. The sign-up is not instant, but I got my information within a few hours.

Their setup information was a little hard to find. After going through there site though, I was able to find the "rsync setup page":http://www.exavault.com/support-rsync-setup-unix-linux-bsd.php after going to the Support page. It walks you through creating the SSH keys for public-key authentication and a few simple rsync commands.

So far, they seem fast, and the price is better than other rsync providers as well. I'm going to give them a shot for a while and will post a follow-up later on.

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Nifty Tool: PC Tools Password Generator

Posted on: 2008-07-18 09:23:43

PC Tool's "Secure Password Generator":http://www.pctools.com/guides/password/ is a nifty little online password generator. It lets you generate passwords that:

  • Are between 4 - 64 characters long.
  • Have letters, mixed case letters, numbers, and punctation (off by default)
  • No similar letters

It can generate up to 50 passwords at once and can generate phonetic output so you can read it out to someone over the phone. Some uses i've found: generating database, service account, and forgettable passwords (like ssh accounts that use keyed authentication). Pretty nifty. And by nifty, I mean frackin' awesome.

Also, if you're one of those Windows people, you can even download an executable that has some additional functionality.

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Just a few of my favorite Things...

Posted on: 2008-07-17 08:46:04

!>sites/nickvahalik.com/files/Things.png! I'm horrible on keeping track of stuff. I've lost more crap and misplaced more stuff than anyone I know. For a while, "pulling a Nick" involved having something in your hand one minute, and forgetting where you put it the next. Ladies and gentlemen, yours truly is a changed man. Enter "Things from Cultured Code":http://www.culturedcode.com/things/.

Things is, by far, the most used program on my Mac aside from "Textmate":http://macromates.com/. If you are a busy person, are just plain forgetful and need a way to manage everything you've got going on, then you really have to try it. Give it a couple of weeks. I had to use it for about 3 weeks before it really started to kick in. Combined with "Inbox Zero":http://www.43folders.com/izero, Things has allowed me to become extremely productive. So productive, in fact, that I find myself visiting "Facebook":http://facebook.com/ less and having more time. In fact, my office is much cleaner than it has been in the past few months.

My boss has even stopped by to ask me what has happened that has made me so much more efficient. I can't brag about Things enough!

Try the beta now for free! If you "sign up now, you'll get a discount when the release it this summer":http://www.culturedcode.com/things/#subscription_form. There is also a "client out for the iPhone":http://www.culturedcode.com/things/iphone/. It's only "$9.99 right now in the App Store":http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=284971781&mt=8, and doesn't support syncing (although it's "coming soon":http://www.culturedcode.com/things/iphone/faq.html).

You definitely won't regret it. Really. No, really.

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Druplified Netoteric Site Now Live

Posted on: 2008-07-15 15:18:22

As a side note, the new, druplified "Netoteric site is now live":http://netoteric.com/. The intention was to do a 1-to-1 conversion of the old site (which was just hand-coded... yes I know, tsk tsk). The result was almost a complete pixel-for-pixel duplication of the site. There were some changes made on the newer site: links removed, text changed... but other than that, it's almost a perfect replication.

Just in case you were wondering, "Netoteric":http://netoteric.com/ is a company I started in January 2007 that builds and hosts websites and software. Now you know... the rest of the story.

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Alternating Alignments On Full Node Views With Contemplate

Posted on: 2008-07-14 23:43:59

While converting my "Netoteric":http://netoteric.com/ site to "Drupal":http://drupal.org/, there was a small problem with the "portfolio":http://netoteric.com/portfolio page. The items in it alternate between left and right. Views Theme Wizard didn't work. It was time for more desperate measures.

I added a function in my custom template file, which created an index number and assigned it to a node member.

<code type="php">/**

  • Display the nodes of a view as plain nodes. */ function theme_views_view_nodes_portfolio($view, $nodes, $type, $teasers = false, $links = true) { $i=0; foreach ($nodes as $n) { $node = node_load($n->nid); $node->__views_index_number = $i++; $output .= node_view($node, $teasers, false, $links); } return $output; }

theme_views_view_nodes_portfolio overrides the "Views":http://drupal.org/project/views default theme function, but only for the portfolio view.

Then inside the contemplate body template I just added a modulo function to alternate between left and right:

<code type="php"><div class="thumbnail __views_index_number % 2 ? 'right':'left')?>">

And voila! Now the images alternate between left and right...

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Fixing a Quiet Volume Problem on the iPhone Speakerphone

Posted on: 2008-07-14 14:14:48

Yet another design flaw in the iPhone. The speakerphone worked great for a long time. Then one day, it got so quiet I couldn't use it anymore. I tried a volume hack when it was jail-broken but to no success. My problem wasn't a bad speaker, it was the iPhone equivalent of ear-wax.

While pocket lint is nothing more than a nuisance for you and me, to the iPhone, it's kryptonite. The phone has little holes on the bottom so sounds can go through. And you know what? Those little holes eat pocket lint for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

!sites/nickvahalik.com/files/iphone_bottom.jpg! The little holes in question.

Only the holes on the left (if you are holding the phone during regular usage) are utilized when playing music or using the speakerphone. Take a peek down there. Do you see any white, gray, or anything in those holes? If yes, please read on. If not, then I can't help you. Move along.

Now, I have to warn you that if you do this too hard you can damage your phone and/or void your warranty. But, you probably don't care, do you? I didn't think so. So go grab your handy-dandy iPhone speaker-hole cleaner. Don't have one? Just use a bulletin board stick-pin.

!sites/nickvahalik.com/files/the_mighty_iphone_fixer.jpg! It's hard to see, but it's slightly bent at the end. Perfect!

Just gently fish it around in each hole. It should come out with a little time. Be patient. Push too hard and you could damage your speaker. That would suck. I blew a little in mine and a bunch of junk came out. A couple minutes later, the speakerphone was working great again. Hope this helps you!

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New Snail Mail SPAM Tactic: Seek & Destroy

Posted on: 2008-07-12 15:38:26

So in my weekly ritual of going through mail and shredding everything not of interest... my shredder choked pretty badly. Reverse. Forward. Still stuck. Pulled gently. Wouldn't budge. Pulled harder. Used two hands. Finally it came out. Turned shredder back on. Still stuck.

What the hell?

After 5 minutes, a screwdriver, and some needle-nose pliers, I finally found the culprit:

!sites/nickvahalik.com/files/wtf_a_key.jpg!

One of the auto dealerships had put a key in an envelope. My guess is that in an effort to stop the spamicide of their mailing, they tried to take my shredder out ninja style.

Luckily, my shredder-fu is much greater than their spam-fu. After removal, the shredder kept devouring without a hitch.

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