Thursday, September 29, 2011
I may come back to the blog, but for now it just doesn't make sense to use both.
I should note that I will be keeping the blog up for as long as Google/Blogger allows, there is a lot of history on this blog and I'd hate to just throw it away.
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
I had written a query in Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 2008 to create a data file to be imported via a custom app. The reason for this is that the new data repository requires the data to be input using it's specific tools. There are a number of apps like this.
Prior to working in MS SQL I had begun the project in Access. The project was simpler then and there was a chance that some of my coworkers, who didn't have SQL Server, might need to access it. When exporting my data from Access the NULL values exported as blanks in my spreadsheet. This is exactly what I needed.
After migrating to MS SQL though the NULLs show up as NULL in the spreadsheet. This caused a lot of havoc to the import program. I could have had the programmer change the program to deal with the NULLs, and I may for the next version, we are too far along in the testing phase to change that now.
So, here is the part you have been waiting for, how do you get rid of the NULL values in a SQL export?
Your needs may vary but, use:
Where column_name is the name of the data column you are checking and replacement_value is what you want in the field instead of "NULL"In my case my replacement_value was simply: '' (two single quotes) I didn't want any value in the field, not a space, not a "NULL", nothing. While NULL IS nothing to MS SQL, to a CSV file, NULL and '' are the same. Since I am exporting to CSV, I need the '' rather than the NULL.
This may be elementary for some SQL query writers out there, it was important for me to find and use. Unfortunately there was little to point me in the right direction. My hope is that this post will save others who are running into this issue some time.
If you are a SQL guru and there is an even better way to address this problem, please leave a comment below and I'll edit as necessary.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Blogger is another question mark. Google+ is setup to protect your posts if you wish, so I could write something for family only and they would be the only ones able to see it. That's pretty cool. On the other hand many of my blog posts are written for the world to see. Google+ allows for this as well, but is it as easy?
Additionally Blogger has additional formatting options that Google+ doesnt have (yet).
I already know one person who has given up everything for Google+. I commend his commitment. I suspect that for the time being that I'll continue to use all three services, but Twitter and Blogger could be in trouble. It just depends on where Google+ goes in the future.
Here is my Google+ profile: https://plus.google.com/109926173332943888466/posts
Monday, August 08, 2011
This weekend we bought a Samsung BD-D5700 Blu-ray player. So far I've been pretty happy with it. The online reviews are kinda mixed though. It seems like most that are rating it poorly have defective units though. No issues of that sort with ours but it's only been a couple days.
Our TV is only 720p, but I still see a good improvement in image quality. I only had one movie to test with though. We have the TRON Legacy combo pack so I could try each movie and see the differences. It was a bit subtle, but there.
The load times of the BR vs the DVD were noticeably longer, but not terrible. It was something I was expecting too. Though without a reference point I can't say if those BR load times are slower, faster, or normal.
I've not tried any of the streaming video options (Hulu+, Netflix, Blockbuster) just because we are not members of any of those services. That's partly due to me being a A/V quality snob, but mostly because there has been so much shake-up in availability that you pretty much can't stick to just one for everything and even with all of them there is still a lot of content that isn't available streaming. That said, now that we have the interfaces, we now have the opportunity to try them.
So far the biggest feature we've used is the digital media streaming (DLNA) from my PC and USB thumb drive. They both use the same interface and it's pretty straight forward. The image quality was really nice. Part of that is the source material but I think it's doing it's best to upconvert the lower resolution videos too. It supported all but some MOV files. I can live with that.
The one weird thing was that occasionally the DLNA video stream would get slightly out of sync. We thought it was my computer going to sleep or something but that didnt appear to be the problem. The first time it happened was about 12 minutes into a video. The next time it was 14 minutes...but we'd been watching nearly 3 hours of video from the same source. Both times I switched to the thumb drive and it worked fine from there.
I had copied the media to the thumb drive first because I didn't know about the DLNA option. Even when I did I was worried that the WiFi connection might not be strong enough. It was a backup.
Another oddity that I never did figure out. The video via the network wouldn't allow me to fast forward. Via the USB it wasn't a problem. Is this something in the way DLNA streams the video? It was kinda a pain.
So, thus far I'm pleased with the purchase. It's a nice machine, especially for the money.
Monday, August 01, 2011
|2010 US Spending: http://michaelrslade.com/blogs/2011-state-of-the-union/|
So we want the government to do all kinds of things for us. All kinds of great services. And there isn't anything wrong with that, but how are they going to be paid for? The middle and lower classes are paying a lot and keep paying more due to raising food and fuel prices. Additional taxes keep being tacked on by local/state governments to help pay for their deficits.
Pretty soon we simple wont have the money left to pay for anything. Who pays then? Businesses? The Wealthy? Every time someone suggests they should pay more we hear, "Why are you wanting to punish their success?" and "If you tax us we can't create more jobs" or "They'll just pass the costs to the consumers"
So again I ask...who is going to pay for our government?
We can reduce spending on the military and social security sure. Both those take a huge chunk of our tax dollars but who has the guts to try to do that? Career politicians sure aren't going to do that. They'd lose too many votes!
I fear we are in a downward spiral...and I'm an optimist normally.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
|The Amazing Spider-Man. I wonder if he got tired hanging around for four days.|
The movies they were teasing were:
- The Adventures of Tin-Tin
- Underworld 4
- Fright Night
- Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
- Amazing Spider-Man
- Total Recall
- 30 Mins. or Less
Lucas Films was heavily promoting both the Clone Wars season 4 and the upcoming release of the Star Wars movies on Blu-Ray. Lucas even partnered up with Volkswagen to create an Imperial Jetta. I still don't like the new Jetta design but adding Star Wars helps a bit.
|Total Recall robot (?) and car.|
|Another robot (maybe it's a suit), a bit more close-up.|
|Almost thought they gave up on Ghost Rider until we saw this.|
- Artist's Alley - where you can see artists drawing and selling artwork.
- Independent Publishers - Not all comics are created by the big boys. There were a lot of smaller publishers or independents that were hocking their wares.
- T-Shirts - The selection wasn't quite as grand as I'd hoped but there were a lot of geeky t-shirts and sweat-shirts to be found, reasonably priced. I think there were only a couple vendors, if that though. It would have been nice to see more variety.
- High quality collectibles - These aren't cheaply made novelties, these are often movie quality replicas. There were masks, busts, jackets, from famous movies/TV like Star Wars and Star Trek. Many high quality sculptures as well. These aren't toys but premium collectibles for the super-fan.
- Toys - The toy companies came out in force. LEGO and Hasbro were definitely in the fore-front. If you were interested in comic book based action figures, this was the place to be.
- Comics - Well of course there are going to be comics for sale at a comic book convention (though it could be argued that it's really not a comic book convention any more). The comic book vendors were all at one end of the show floor. It really seemed like a lesser part of the conference though. Not sure if that is due to the evolution of Comic-Con to more of a Pop Culture-Con or if it's indicative of the changes in comics in general. Most of the comics available for sale were pre-90's or the graphic novel/collections. I have to wonder if the digital comic is dooming the printed comic.
- Misc. Vendors - There were vendors of all types scattered here and there selling a little bit of everything. Some were very specific, others not so much. Deals can be made, but don't expect a steal.
- A Star Wars cook book - it's made for kids, but still pretty awesome
- The Doctor Who Christmas Adventure set - includes a Matt Smith (11th) Doctor and Amy Pond action figure as well as a light-up Tardis with opening doors.
- An exclusive LEGO item (for a friend)
- And various swag, including
- Yoda face fans/masks
- Hellboy mask
- American Dad/Family Guy pins
|Marvel Action Figures|
|Lara Croft collectible|
|Captain Jack Sparrow - life size made of LEGO|
Saturday, July 30, 2011
This was my first year. I've been hearing for years how cool it was and I thought I needed to do it at least once in my life. So that bucket list item is now complete.
My first paragraph may sound a bit snarky, but that's because it is. I wouldn't say I hated Comic-Con but it's not the Nerdvana that I thought it would be. I read the blogs and 'how to survive Comic-Con' guides, but they simply cannot prepare you.
That said, here are my tips for anyone thinking about going in the future:
|This wasn't even the half way point. There were about 2500 people ahead of us at this point.|
- Be prepared to stand in line. Lots of guides will tell you that but you stand in line for everything! You stand in line to get your badges. If you don't stay right next to the conference center, you will stand in line to get on the shuttle to get to the conference (and to get back on to go to your hotel later). You'll stand in line, often for hours, to see ANY panel. During the panels you may get 'swag' tickets; you have to stand in line to redeem those tickets. You'll stand in line to buy most of the items on the show floor. You'll stand in line for food. You'll stand in line for the bathroom. These are not exaggerations. If you hate standing in line, you will hate Comic-Con.
If I ever go again I will bring a folding stool. Even then you will still be on your feet a lot. The lines move, but slowly, so you need to be able to move quickly. You will not be able to sit on the floor. In many cases you may not be allowed, be it by security or simply because the line keeps inching forward.
- Have a good bag. You will get large swag bags when you pick up your badge but they are large and unwieldy. You'll notice that veteran attendees will have nice multi-use back packs. That said, there are posters, art, comics, toys, clothes and other items that you'll want to be able to carry around safely. Back packs are good for some but not all of these things. Most vendors will only have plastic bags (the grocery type). These not only get tiresome to carry after awhile, but pointy cornered boxes and comics will start to work their way through the bags. If you buy posters or art you'll want a protective tube. Some vendors will sell these but the artists probably wont have anything like that so be prepared.
You'll also want to carry provisions; water & snacks. Water is expensive at events like these. Why spend $4-6 for a bottle of water when you can find a store and buy a whole case of water bottles for half that. Same goes for snacks. Standing in line for hours you may need a pick me up. Sure you can buy pretzels and nachos or cookies, but unless you have a line buddy you may be stuck.
- Hulk Hogan
- Lou Ferrigno
- Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca)
- Adam Sessler (G4 TV host)
- Seth Green
- Allison Scagliotti (Claudia, Warehouse 13, Syfy Channel)
- The cast of Fringe
- The cast of American Dad
- The cast of Family Guy
- Doc Hammer, Jackson Publick, and James Urbaniak from the Venture Brothers
- LL Cool J
- The hosts of the Totally Rad Show (Alex, Jeff, & Dan)
|Alex Albrecht and Dan Trachtenberg of the Totally Rad Show|
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I'm a heavy Google user. I use many of their products. I like the integration and I like how their tools work for the most part (Google Docs is still a bit clunky). So I'd be a prime candidate for Google+, their new social network, right?
Well the problem is that I don't have that many friends/associates that are using Google products that much. A few sure, but it makes me wonder how is Google going to get people to migrate from Facebook and/or Twitter? I don't use Facebook but I know only a few of the people I know who use Facebook will check out Google+, much less put any serious thought into switching. I say switch because, how many people are going to maintain both? Twitter and Facebook are different enough that they can have some cross over customers, but will Google+ have that? Would people put up with three social networks?
It's way too early to say but Google will have to pull out some big guns to draw users away from Facebook and Twitter, or have some really awesome technology that allows it to live side by side with them. I'm not saying it can't be done or won't happen, but I'm not holding my breath.
In the meantime I anxiously await my invite so I can evaluate it for myself.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
If a sphere is seen from only two dimensions we see a circle. It's size dependent on where the slice is taken. If we couldn't perceive the third dimension there would be a great deal of information about that sphere we'd completely miss out on.
So imagine for a moment how much we may be missing out on if there are 10 or more dimensions. We ponder life and death. What our role in the world is. Is there more? Is there a greater purpose. Is there a God? What if by exploring those other dimensions we could answer those questions?
What if all humans are connected in those dimensions? An invisible thread that ties us all together as one being. What if all life if is tied together like that? What if all we are, are the arm hairs of a multi-dimensional being. We are just too primitive to see beyond our limits. But we glimpse the greater. This is telepathy, magic, and God. It's the greater part of us that we have faith is there but have no way of knowing.
I have no proof of any of this, but science is opening doors that we didn't even know existed that long ago. Ignorance may be bliss but knowledge is awesome.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Internet Explorer (IE) is easily the defacto web browser in the business and likely will be for some time. Microsoft owns that space pretty handily. Yes, there are those small companies that have migrated successfully to Firefox or Chrome or others, but they are the exception, not the rule. We are talking Enterprise. These are the companies with thousands of employees with many custom or customized internal applications. These applications don't get updated quickly. It can take months or even years to upgrade to new versions. Even patches have to be rigorously tested and QAed before being rolled out. Especially if those apps are mission critical.
For Mozilla to say that Firefox isn't designed with the Enterprise in mind gives them the ability to remain flexible and aggressive with their development strategies. Enterprise's need and are large enough typically to demand long term development cycles, so they can plan accordingly. Sometimes Enterprise-time and Internet-time are not compatible. For Mozilla to focus on Internet-time is probably wise from their development strategy, but I think it can be easily argued that perhaps they shouldn't have made the statement they did.
Enterprise IT not only wants to keep things standardized but often NEEDS to. When you are supporting thousands of PCs, supporting multiple web browsers, with multiple versions, with different plug-ins would be a nightmare. Supporting IE, especially a single version, simplifies support. Errors and bugs can be managed. Application customizations can be handled. From the IT perspective, the more everyone's PCs are the same, the easier it is to support them and deploy fixes/patches equally throughout the enterprise.
Even IE isn't immune from being rolled out slowly. My company is currently on IE8, which is probably better than some companies, but IE9 just came out and we are not compatible with it yet. Patches are coming to fix that, but this is something that Enterprises have to deal with. When it's one browser, it can be managed. When it's multiple browsers, it becomes a lot less manageable, especially when they have radically different release time frames.
Mozilla just began a more aggressive release schedule. Chrome has always been very aggressive. Enterprise IT departments can't keep up, so they standardize on one (normally IE).
Standardization is a word that could change this, in time. For a long time Internet Explorer, because of it's market dominance, included a lot of Microsoft-only code that rendered websites a very particular way or included scripting/tools that were unique to Internet Explorer. Because of the dominance of IE Enterprise software companies and the Enterprises themselves coded their applications for Internet Explorer. A lot of that code still exists. Enterprises don't just change things because the Internet says it's obsolete. There has to be a business case for making the change. In the case of our company, the software we use has an external customer component. IT can dictate what we use internally, but they cannot control the customer, so we have to keep on top of these changes as best we can. IE isn't always the browser of choice any more.
IE has lost the dominance it once had in the market, as a whole. It's still very important, but it no longer commands 90% of the market. Microsoft has since started making Internet Explorer much more standards (web standards) compliant. As has it's competition, Mozilla and Google. They are all trying to one-up one another in becoming the most HTML5 compliant as possible. The HTML rendering engines, for the most part, are what make the various browsers behave differently when rendering a web page.
With all the web browsers moving towards HTML5, could we finally get to a point where it wouldn't matter which web browser you used? I think we are a few years, at best, for that happening. Outside the Enterprise I believe this reality is much closer, but in the Enterprise it simply takes businesses a lot longer to migrate to the cutting edge technology. Their focus is on their customers, not on their internal staff. There are still lots of companies running Windows XP. Internet Explorer 9 won't run on Windows XP, so those companies will have to do major, and expensive, upgrades before they can change their web browsers. Most will wait until they absolutely HAVE to. It's just the nature of the Enterprise.
Monday, June 20, 2011
This morning I watched an ABC News report about kids fashion clothes. I found this obscene. Not because the kids were dressed sexually or anything, though it was very bizarre to see such young kids strutting up and down the cat-walk.
No, my issue with this is, that at a time when so many people are struggling to find jobs and put food on the table much less buy clothes for their kids, the wealthy are buying $500+ per item clothes for their kids. Not just expensive, but designer clothes.
I'm sure this has been going on since always, but to put it on the morning news, as if it's really news? It's just rubbing our faces in the fact that we aren't as rich as them. They even had a poor mother on there saying how she had to buy her kids clothes at a thrift store, as I know my parents had to do for my siblings and I when we were kids.
Is ABC trying to incite a riot against the rich? Did they think it was cute? Were they catering to their wealthy viewers? Maybe they are just out of touch with what the rest of the country goes through sitting in NYC?
I don't hold it against the Bourgeoisie for being wealthy. I wish I was wealthy enough to not have to stress about bills, putting food on the table, etc. However, when they gloat or rub it in the faces of the rest of us, it's not just rude, it's obscene.
Friday, June 17, 2011
In all three of those situations there are weaknesses, but lets assume the worst case scenarios.
Microsoft own Xbox. They own Windows. What if a business decision was made to make Windows more of a web based OS, focusing on what a majority of computers are doing these days, email, web, social networking. Microsoft could argue that removing the power to do gaming on the PC would drive more business to the Xbox market because those power gamers would want the better gaming experience. DirectX would still be developed, but just for the Xbox.
One argument is that the Xbox is basically a computer already so why limit the development environment to just Xbox? Because PCs are loosing relevance. Outside the business a PC is mostly used for web related items. Yes, there are power users and there will always be a niche for them, but the average home PC user has limited need. Outside of gaming, I use Chrome and iTunes primarily, occasionally opening up Word, Excel, or Photoshop. Since I don't usually do power image editing, I can say that I could probably do most of my work with HTML5 apps, that in theory would work great on Windows 8. The gaming is what keeps me using a big powerful PC. Microsoft hasn't yet convinced me to buy an Xbox 360 and migrate. So what if they pushed me?
Sure I could stay on Windows 7 for years, just as so many have stuck with Windows XP. But if Microsoft is no longer supporting gaming on Windows, the game publishers would quickly stop developing games for those older platforms. I'd guess within a year most marque gaming titles would be on consoles exclusively. So to play that cool new game I'd have no choice but to buy a console.
Those power users are what could keep things from going this way. Graphics card makers and premium PC makers would certainly have some incentive to keep the PC gaming market going. There are also going to be those users who don't want to give up the power they currently have. Would the market perhaps shift to Linux? Maybe, but we've seen time and time again projects that are in the Windows world not being able to migrate to Linux. I doubt it's technical. Business reasons have to be getting in the way. Those business reasons aren't going to just disappear. Is the power user/PC gamer market large enough to move to a new OS platform?
PC games are still the best looking and most powerful. There are still certain types of games that don't translate well to consoles. But the writing has been on the wall for a long time; PC gaming is dying. That could either mean that it's just like the doom-sayers who keep predicting the world will end and it never does. Or, the end could really just be right around the corner and we are simply in denial.
I for one will keep gaming on the PC until I can't any longer. The current console wiz-bang features still aren't compelling enough to make me fly into their arms. I've right on as the average gamer. So what can Microsoft do to make me move to the Xbox, except kill PC gaming.
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Now that Apple has joined Google and Amazon with it's "cloud" music service, I feel it's time to ask a question that has been bugging me since this all started, "Why?"
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
The three cameras in question are:
Monday, May 30, 2011
Went to Brownsville,NE today on a whim. They were having a flea market. A big one. It pretty much ran the length of the town. Though the town isn't very large.
We parked down near the Missouri river. Of course the river wasn't supposed to be that close. The recent rains had made it swell over it's banks.
It was hard to look at items for sale, at first. We hadn't yet had lunch so we were focused on finding food first. I was hoping for some good local vendor type stuff, but it was mostly carny vans. The local volunteer fire department was selling corn dogs and pulled pork, among other things. The corn dogs were good (when aren't they?!) but the pork left something to be desired. It was cooked well, but it was completely unseasoned. Maybe the south spoiled me, but would a dry rub have been that difficult?
Walking among the vendors it became apparent that we weren't likely to find anything we'd want to take home. Old glass-wear and rusty old tools seemed most common. As were old romance novels and VHS tapes. Then there were the prerequisite vendors selling cheap toys, marijuana flags, car stickers, and airbrushed t-shirts.
It wasn't a terrible day by any means. It was a nice drive to and from. The walk and the town were nice too. There were some interesting antiques and the like as well. Maybe I should have picked up that Olympia beer glass for my collection.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
Interesting. This doesn't suggest a new download for users or anything. So what WAS the problem or will there be a new version of UberTwitter to come yet?
Friday, February 11, 2011
- OMG! What do I do!?
- Yea right. You are just being paranoid.
- Yea, I know all this already and take steps to be careful.
- Never ever give your password to anyone over the phone (or in person). The only person I give my passwords to is my wife and she only gets a couple weak ones. You've probably been told this many times but it still rings true. It's also applicable to other info that you should keep secure, especially if it has anything to do with your bank or credit cards. Those are prime targets of organized crime these days.
- Change all your passwords. Don't use the same password every where. If one of your passwords is compromised, the damage is isolated. The online media-blog site Gawker had many of their users passwords compromised not long ago. Would you want to be one of the many who had to scramble and quickly change all the passwords of all the other sites where you might have used that same password.
- Use large complicated passwords. While some sites still have short maximum password lengths, take advantage of those who allow more characters. The more characters the longer it takes to brute force an attack. After while the hackers will move on to a different, easier target.
- Get a password manager. There are a number of good password managers out on the market now that can help you create and store all these complex passwords. The downside is that if it's compromised all your passwords are compromised. So make sure you have at least one really strong password that you can use for it. Many can be installed on your mobile device or are online, making them usable when not at your primary computer. A couple good ones are: LastPass and KeePass
- If you don't want to use a password manager use pass phrases instead of passwords. Use the spaces and punctuation. That'll make the password strong but easier for you to remember.
- Use a password card. These are a matrix of random characters that create passwords for you. The basic concept is rather than remembering the actual password you remember a simple one or two character/color combo. It can go in your wallet too so you always have your passwords available.
- Change your passwords often. Why you might ask? I change mine on a regular basis because if my password was compromised and I didn't know it, the hacker could be in my system for weeks/months and I'd have no idea.
- When setting up your password reset questions put in fake information. If your first car was a Chevy Camaro, put in Ford Mustang. Something you can easily remember but someone with information about your past would not figure out. As long as it's clearly not BS the password reset tools won't care. This works for credit cards and the like when you have to call in and give a passkey too.
- DON'T use passwords with words that can be found in the dictionary. They can be cracked quickly, even if you have a number at the end. Most cracking tools have that factored in and it won't slow them down.
- DON'T write down your passwords and especially don't leave them taped or Post-it noted to your monitor or leave them under your keyboard.
- DON'T give your password(s) out to anyone but your most trusted.
- DON'T think you are immune.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
...most people suffer a mild (i.e. non-pathological) epileptic episode regularly (e.g. a hypnagogic jerk, the sudden "jolt" that frequently, but not always, occurs just prior to falling asleep), it is conjectured that a similar (mild) neurological aberration occurs in the experience of déjà vu, resulting in an erroneous sensation of memory.
Friday, January 07, 2011
So it's been awhile since I posted any updates to the bathroom. We had many discussions about what kinda of vanity, what kind of top, what kind of sink we wanted. It's amazing how not having a sink while everything else is basically done will do to help you make decisions.