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::Gordon J. Wallace:: - Web Programming


Updating database... back in a bit..

Hey a blog!



Posted by Gordon J. Wallace on Wed December 31st, 1969 @ 19:00


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Testing

Been a while since I've "blogged" but I'm bored so I'm updating the backend files to look at the new database..

Posted by Gordon J. Wallace on Mon November 11th, 2013 @ 14:26


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Blogging

I've been meaning to write something for a while, but honestly when you get home after being on the internet all day, it's a little hard. Today I'm going to talk about numbers, thinking (which as you remember is my hobby), smoking meat and anything else that crosses my mind in the next hour or so it'll take me to write what I have planned.

First, numbers and thinking. So I was in L.A. two weeks ago or so, come to think of it, I have a story about that to tell first. So the two co-workers I was out there with a day earlier had never been to L.A. before so we went to have dinner at a restaurant in Malibu, which I really wish I could remember the name of. Anyway, that was all lovely, and so after dinner, Co-Worker #1 suggested we go put our feet in the ocean as a touristy thing to do, we all agreed. To make a long story short, the water started to recede, I made a comment about the next wave being large, and then one of the co-workers and I got knocked on our butts to the restaurants amusement.

So now I'll get back to numbers and thinking. While in Los Angeles, my room number was 1639 and before I tell my story, just think to your self: "If that was my room number, how would I remember it?"

Well on the Saturday that we checked in I turned to my co-worker, who asked what my room number was, and said "thirteen plus three.. then thirteen times three." To my mind, it's clear what my room number is.

Anyway, the next day when my father checks in, his room isn't ready and he needs to use mine. On our way back down to the conference floor, I just casually ask him, already knowing the answer, how he would remember my room number. Guess what he said?

The purpose of that particular story was to highlight the need to recognize patterns, which is what most of number recognition is. The fact that 13 is close to 16 and a multiple of 39 may not seem like a big deal, however even in situations where the numbers aren't as even as in this scenario the ability to recognize that there *may* be a slight correlation is helpful. I am just particularly proud this case ended up so nerdily pleasing.

Alright, so now for a lighter side to this post. The smoked meat woes that I had earlier were rectified over the past few weeks. In fact I can blame that on the fact I haven't blogged sooner, I was too busy eating deliciousness!

I have more things to talk about, however I do not have time tonight, it's been a crazy couple of weeks. I hope you all are well and hopefully it's not this long until my next post.

Posted by Gordon J. Wallace on Mon August 29th, 2011 @ 21:50


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Smoked Meat & The Internet

Sorry, these are actually going to be separate topics.

First, smoked meat. My father bought my a smoker for my birthday, I was planning on using it two weekends ago on my actual birthday, but as things go I got busy and never got around to buying the proper Traeger brand approved smoking pellets. Yes, you heard me, Traeger pulled an Apple-esque move and limited me to only their brand of product. I wouldn't be so mad at them if the darn things ignited, but all is not lost, as they appear to be engulfed in flames now and I should be eating dinner sometime between 11:30 and midnight.

On a side note, I bought a delicious looking inside round to cook, I'm sorry smoke, and I wish I could find my camera's battery charger so I could document this whole process, but what do you know, Sony also pulled an Apple-esque move by making me purchase my micro-sd memory cards, batteries, and subsequently battery chargers only of their particular make/model/brand. So thanks to Traeger and Sony for making the same jerk moves that Apple made in the early 1980's. It only cost them market share and their position in as tech juggernaut for roughly 20 years.

Greg and I are now in an argument about what Apple's biggest mistake was (he's a MAC fan-boy, but I'd doubt he'd admit it). I do have to admit that he makes a good point and as long as you regard Apple as a hardware company and not a software company, I guess I can't have beef (oh wait, it's the Traeger brand pellets that are keeping me from my beef)!

The meat is now in the smoker, it is 10:40pm based on the size of meat, I'm estimating 45-60 minutes for a nice medium-rare-ish.

Now to talk about the internet, specifically Google Plus. I got invited to Google plus a couple of weeks ago, it took me a while to actually log into gmail and click on the invite, thanks to Richard for that by the way. Anyway, I plan to write another blog post about how I find it so much superior to all the other social networks but I haven't finished clicking on everything yet.

I did want to write a little bit about how it has reinvigorated why I love the internet in the first place, but first a little background story to set the mood. As many of my dozen readers know, my friend Richard got married last September for which I was 'best man'. I don't like that term by the way. Anyway I met Richard, on the internet (scary, I know), about 11-12 years ago through an organization called HomeLAN. That was back in the days where I would spend 12+ hours on the internet and actually knew 90% of what could be found on it. But I digress. I've made many good friends, even some of my best friends, though the internet. Whether they were from my time at HomeLAN, though the forums over at XKCD or just back in the good old days when us kids would be left unsupervised online. Come to think of it, I had a good friend, Robin, who I haven't talked to in many many years and the last time we did speak she had married her boyfriend and moved from .. somewhere remote .. to California. I want to say she lived in Oklahoma .. but that doesn't sound right.. anyway I couldn't find her through Google just now and I won't post her full name here so I guess it really doesn't matter.

Back in those days I used to love just clicking through websites and following links, it was a time when requesting link exchanges with random websites was actually encouraged, not for SEO value, which really hadn't been too popular a theme at that point, but for the pure joy of sharing things you liked with other people. It was also a time that I programmed my first blog, before that was even really a term, mostly because I wanted Tim, my partner in our web-comic at the time, to update his portion of the website. That's when I moved from a free web host to my first real domain hosting, but annoyingly our first domain got lost in the then much more complicated transfer process, and we kind of killed the website. If I ever find some of the old comics I'll post them, a couple were actually really good.

I have never been a big fan of Facebook, I originally joined when I was in University and instead of people exchanging phone numbers it was considered weird if I wasn't willing to look them up on Facebook, I cancelled that account pretty quick and then I rejoined a number of years later after much request by my older sister and I probably log into that thing like once a month if that. I honestly try to use twitter but feel weird updating at work - despite that is why I joined - and when I get home I usually don't spend all that much time online anymore.

I think Google Plus may be on the way to changing that habit, which is convenient since I've made a mental commitment to myself to actually update this blog consistently. I've had a rule with social networks that I only accept, or follow, or whatever they want to call it, people I actually know in real life. However, with twitter I find it necessary to follow certain people/groups that I don't imagine will ever follow me, and today, I added one Mr. Wil Wheathon to my Google Plus account. I couldn't help it, he posted or re-posted a picture of a bag of almonds, of which the listed ingredients read: "Ingredients: Almonds." and had the warning "Allergen Warning: Contains Almonds".

I hope to have an actual 'review' of Google Plus and a comparison done by the weekend. One of the webinars I hold is on Social Media, or more correctly, Social Networking, and explain the difference, few that they are, between actual real live networking and need to add this one to it. I could also talk about Foursquare, Google Latitude and a plethora of other networks and tools and widgets and you can probably see why I used to prefer when one could actually know about the 90% of what is on the internet.

The biggest thing I like about Google Plus is how they are handling sharing, being shared with and the privacy settings. Now Wil did have a thing or two to say about the privacy settings, for which half of the people leaving comments were legitimately trying to help and the other half were flaming him in true internet fashion (I also have not personally been flamed online since I was called a "hacker" in Starcraft.. a game I wasn't overly good at). I'll take some screen shots and write my opinions later, time to go check on the meat!

Posted by Gordon J. Wallace on Thu July 14th, 2011 @ 23:23


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Thinking outside the box

So I'm often brought a variety of challenges by friends and colleagues, mainly for my ability to what they refer to as 'thinking outside the box. I'm never really thought that my way of thinking is special or unique, it's just what makes sense.

I also spend a lot of time thinking about people who have OCD, are autistic or are considered a savant - and try to see what similarities I have with any or all of those three types of personalities. I don't mean to flatter myself or say that the three are in any way related. Although I am sure that there are people who overlap two or all of above mentioned , and others who probably have many more facets to their personalities, essentially no matter what type of person I meet or see I generally try to find some way in which I can feel connected.

I've distracted myself a little bit from the story I was hoping to tell today, which has to do with bookmarks. I know that I'm often overly exciting, so I hope everyone is OK with this seeming mundane topic.

If this post hasn't elaborated enough on my personality, I spend an inordinate amount of time just thinking, usually about nothing in particular, but thinking is my favorite past time.

Anyway, bookmarks! I've been re-reading some of my favorite books, as another hobby of mine is to sit on my desk in the warm sun with a cold beer reading (it's hard to work on a laptop with the sun's glare). I started thinking the other day, about something that I've also done instinctively, which is how I place my bookmark when I put the book down. My father reads a lot of books, so I'm curious to have this conversation with him (I seriously doubt he reads this, actually I'm often surprised that people read this). He and I have a lot in common, most of which, our way of approaching situations and the little nuances of our personalities. ANYWAY. One of my favorite classes in University was called 'Theoretical Methods in the Physical Sciences'. It was probably the most mentally intensive class I had ever taken, but none the less, my favorite of all time. One of the units in the class was on dimensional analysis, in which you basically break an idea, challenge, system, etc down into it's most basic parts (the dimensions in which it exists) and then start dissecting what that means to whatever particular situation you are investigating.

Time for a new paragraph, I hate reading long paragraphs so I can't imagine that it'd be very polite of me to write one. Go get a soda.

Welcome back. The point of me making mention of dimension analysis is that the course really taught me a new way of thinking about things and to really break things down to as primary a level as possible. So I think the vast majority of book readers, probably read in sections. They get to the end of a chapter, stop, put the book mark in and that way they know where to pick up. In this case, progression through the book is linear, and so, placing an object or ear marking the page of the chapter you are on is sufficient. Chapters flow in chronological order, so as long as you aren't reading a choose your own adventure novel, this method is perfectly suitable.

For those of you keeping score at home, we are currently at one (1) dimension.

Let's say that you have to stop half way through a chapter, what on earth do you do? Most people probably just throw the bookmark in and then do their best to scan the pages upon their return to refresh their memory as to where the left off. Well, if you have a bookmark that has unique sides, you can do what I do, and choose a 'marker' side, so that whatever page of the book faces that 'marker' side, is the page that you left off on.

This is our second dimension.

Now, we've doubled the dimensions that we are working in, and effectively cut our work in half - that's a very good improvement by the way - but there's much further to go. I personally started by using the top or bottom edge of the bookmark, in the usual way you would think of a bookmark having a top and bottom, to mark the line that I was on on the page. I soon came across the problem of books being taller than my bookmark and therefore being unsure of whether I used the top portion or the bottom portion of the bookmark as my place marker. One simple way around this would be to mark the top or bottom of the bookmark with some sort of symbol and flip the bookmark based on whether I need to mark a place near the top or bottom of a page, but that's a lot of work (and I am fairly lazy, most science folk are, although many will try to convince you otherwise).

Oh, by the way, we are now at our third dimension, on the brink of contemplating our fourth.

So now you've got the progression through the book, the decision on which page in the book you are on, as well as the line of the page you left off on.. maybe.

I decided that a smarter way to put bookmarks into my book, would be sideways, as my bookmark is, to date, always wider than the book I am reading. This is the fourth dimension that I would like to consider. Not everyone will agree with this particular point, and frankly I don't care. If you're still reading this you're probably more bored than I was before deciding to write it. I consider this to be an additional dimension in this particular situation because it is another way of arranging your information source, the bookmark. There could possibly be some absolutely fantastic reason for turning the bookmark upright or sideways that I have not considered. I always assume that I do not know everything, even if I come across like I think I do, so if you have another idea as to why this is critical than feel free to let me know.

The biggest advantage I have for turning the bookmark sideways, is that the bookmarks width is ALWAYS going to less than the height of the book, so I can always use the "bottom" edge as my line marker. I use the bottom edge because the bookmark sticking out the top of the book is expected, where as a bookmark sticking out the bottom is likely to get shoved in accidentally while placing the book down on a surface.

So we're at four dimensions now and we immediately know so much more about the position we left off at in our book than the strictly linear method that most people use because, well, who the heck cares this much.

What would be really obsessive compulsive (see how I tie in the beginning of the blog post) would be to bend your bookmark into a wedge shape, with a length equal to the position in the line that you have left off at. That would bring in a fifth dimension and is probably as precise as you can get while using a traditional book and bookmark. The reason I mention using a wedge shape is because the wedge shape allows you to, get this, wedge the bookmark in to the spine of the book, so the action of opening and closing the book doesn't make the pages rub the shard of a bookmark further in or out in relation to the pages.

Well this is probably enough nonsensical rambling for one night.. or month and a half or whatever it has been since I last blogged. Thank you to those of you who made it all the way through this post.. and happy thinking!

Posted by Gordon J. Wallace on Wed June 29th, 2011 @ 23:06


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Site is mostly coded in PHP with hints of Python. HTML and CSS for the layout, MySQL for the database. Graphics and Flash just to jazz things up.
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