GRE study thingy

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I've got one of those GRE study guide prep book things and they have a wordlist of 3500 words that I should know. The breakdown is something like this:

  • 50% are words I already know and use in my daily hooplah
  • 10% are words I already know but I don't use them
  • 10% are words I recognize, but couldn't tell you the definition if you asked

That leaves 30% of the words to learn. Course, that's like 1000 words so I decided to put all the ones I didn't know in a wordlist file and wrote a quick application to pull up a random word from a random wordlist (the 3500 words are broken down into 50 or so wordlists) and give me the word and definition. I figure I'll start using them in emails and other digital correspondence and that way I'll cycle them into my vocabulary.

Feel free to join along in this little game of mine. It's a game I like to call, "I don't want to be studying--I want to be programming".

Signed up to take the GRE

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Over the last 4 or 5 years I've been telling people that I'm looking to get my masters--but I never really found a good break-point in life stuff to actually go get my masters. Thus it is with some excitement that I've now gone and completed the first step: I've signed up to take the GRE General exam.

Where this will go--only time will tell.

On a complete irrelevant side note, it's interesting to note that I can type paragraph tags ( <p> ... </p> ) with my right hand while my left hand aimlessly scratches my back.

PyBlosxom analysis

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There are a few people doing analysis on the tools.Walk chain with the hope of slimming it down because it's one of the corner issues with PyBlosxom scaling up to thousands of entries. I don't really have time today to look at them (I'm at work right now), but I will (hopefully) soon and hopefully this spawns a discussion that results in better PyBlosxom code.

pyblosxom progress

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There's been a flurry of email on the PyBlosxom mailing lists over the last month. I'm totally buried at the moment, so I haven't had time to go through them and figure out what it all means in the grand scheme of things.

I updated the todo list with everything in my head right now (though I'm sure there's other things floating around that aren't on that page).

Robert Wall is working on doing analysis on PyBlosxom and coming up with some code to fix issues he's uncovering.

Hopefully, his work and the work of others will result in some big fixes to PyBlosxom that will (hopefully) simplify the architecture, reduce the number of performance issues, and open up more possibilities.

I also finished up work on Planet PyBlosxom which I had been threatening to do for a while now.

Lots of progress, though. I wish I had more free time to help grease the skids a bit.

More munging of style and templates

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I did some minor munging of my stylesheet and templates to remove some of the accumulated, but not used, stuff. It reduces the size of my front page a bit as well.

Decorators and Python

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It's really neat to watch skilled project managers step up to the podium and in a few paragraphs walk through what's happened, what the options are, why he/she is choosing a specific option, and then examine the process through which they arrived at that option and suggest ways of fixing the process itself. I've always loved to work for project managers that are highly aware of the immediate problems as well as the processes and machinery we're using to solve those problems and can actively tweak both.

Anyhow, Guido has written up his thoughts on the J2 proposal and seems like they're sticking with the <at> proposal. I honestly don't even know what decorators do--so I don't really know enough to care one way or another. I really hope some day soon I get some time to Dive into Python and catch up on some of the language features I'm really missing out on. It'd help my projects out a _bunch_.

Sprint PCS

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I have a cell phone that I bought 3 years ago when I switched over to Sprint PCS. I signed a 2 year contract and when that ran out, they offered be a better plan if I signed another year contract--so I did. Right now my plan is 300 minutes with nights starting at 8pm for $30.00.

There are a couple of problems:

First, my phone's battery is really flakey. I have a Samsung Uproar which weren't particularly popular, so finding a new battery is difficult and I'm not sure it's worth the money.

Second, I'll be having a nice conversation and getting a great signal, then suddenly the signal disappears for 10 seconds causing me to drop the call and then comes back again at full strength. I talked to a guy at Radio Shack the other day and he said this is because my phone uses the old cellular service stuff and when I'm in a dense area and the cell tower needs more bandwidth for a G3 phone, it'll dump all the CDMA phones. I don't really know anything about cellular stuff, so I don't know enough to guess the veracity of his explanation. (Can anyone shed some light on this?)

Third, the Samsung Uproar has an exposed face. Since I've dropped it on parking lots and other gravelly surfaces, I've really scratched up the display making it harder to read. So it'd be nice to get a new phone that I can read.

On Friday, I went to talk to the Sprint PCS folks in Burlington, MA. After standing around in an empty store for 15 minutes someone finally "became available" and walked me through their "great upgrade plan". Turns out I have to get a plan that's $35 or more (my current plan is $30) in order to qualify for the $150 mail-in rebate on a new phone. The problem is that the $35 plans they showed me were $5 more than my current plan (which is obvious), had the same number of minutes (300), but nights start at 9:00pm so it's inferior to the current plan I have.

I did some rough math (which stunned the guy I was talking to for reasons I'm not entirely sure of) and figured that if I have the new phone for three years, then $5 * 12 (months in a year) * 3 (years to have the phone) is $180. That makes getting a new phone with their mail-in rebate and forced plan change $30 more than just buying a new phone outright. After I pointed this out, the guy didn't want to deal with me anymore which really surprised me.

I think I'm going to call Sprint PCS customer care and see what they say. I want to upgrade my phone but not downgrade my plan and pay more money in the process--that's a scam. If they're not interested in helping, I'll just wait out my contract and investigate my options. Maybe I'll switch carriers. Maybe I'll just wait until I've accrued enough Amazon.com coupons (I have an Amazon.com credit card) to buy a phone from them--though I'm not sure how switching from one phone to the next works.

Any thoughts?

06/01/2005: I don't understand why people find this entry and feel the need to comment on their sordid Sprint PCS stories. Anyhow, the update and conclusion to this entry is here. Read that before posting your sordid story. Also, cell phone carrier coverage is very area specific. It's fine in my area. If it's not fine in your area and you go sign another Sprint contract, I suggest you do better research first.

Long weekend of errands and bed frames

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I took Friday off to finish moving out of my old place, renew my resident parking sticker, register my change of address with the post office, talk to the Sprint guys (that's detailed in the next post), pick up a new mattress, and then pick up all the building materials we needed to build the bed frame. My roommate had to save us at Home Depot because the plywood (which was cut into small sections) was too big to fit in my car. It was a long day and I was pretty tired.

Then on Saturday, we started assembling the bed frame from the plans I had drawn up a few days beforehand. We discovered we'd need another beam down the center of the bed and that I had miscalculated the number of board feet required for the legs of the bed (I forgot beds have four legs and not two). Then due to a lack of mitre saw or other right-angle-maker (in retrospect, I should have bought one), I spent some time trying to make right angles out of the cuts I had made. We did a trip to Home Depot to pick up another board and some joist pieces to afix the board to the head and foot pieces. Even with the delays and minor issues, we got one of the sides assembled and we were pretty happy with it. After a full day of working in 90 degree 150% humidity in the sun trying to overcome our minor issues, I was pretty tired.

On Sunday, I woke up and finished putting together the second side. Then I attached the head and foot pieces and had a completely assembled bed. My girlfriend came home from church and we ate some food and then did a round of staining with a 2-in-1 poly-urethane/stain. After staining, we discovered our hands and brushes were really sticky and we didn't have any mineral spirits (which is a solvent). I rushed over to Home Depot driving with my elbows and picked some up.

Now we have a lovely bed frame that I designed with lots of insight from my girlfriend and her dad and that we built together. Right angles on the bed are pretty short in number--but we can fix some of that later on if it becomes an issue.

Now I'm just super tired. Not to mention that my allergies went beserk this weekend whilst all this other stuff was happening.

So that brings me to the interesting part. Here's my list of things to keep in mind on building projects:

  • beds have four legs--not two
  • get a mitre saw to do right angle cuts (or alternatively you could get a table saw or even just build a guide for a circular saw)
  • ratchet sets make dealing with bolts and nuts a lot easier
  • it's all about a great set of clamps
  • measure, measure, cut
  • you can approximate right angle cuts after the fact by sanding the end of the board while making sure to flip the board over every 15-20 seconds of sanding--I find I must be putting more pressure on my right side than my left because that's the part that gets more sanding
  • know where your nearest hardware stores are and the times that they are open just in case you find yourself in a "predicament"

Craig of Craigslist interview

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There's a great interview with Craig of Craigslist here at Wired Magazine. I have to say that after reading the interview, I'm really psyched the guy exists. From a selfish perspective, Craigslist is the glue that binds huge parts of my life and makes certain things infinitely easier to do. Through it I've met other people (like, for example, my current girlfriend who used Craigslist to find the room my brother used to live in); I've bought and sold stuff; I've done research on stuff; friends have bought furniture and advertised venues; ... He has single-handedly affected my life in great positive ways.

Anyhow, so I really like Craigslist and really appreciate that it's there. It provides community for us folks who move around a lot and don't have contacts and friends everywhere. It's a great service to people.

Having said all that, I'm filled with trepidation. I'm afraid that even though he's said all these wonderful things and I've never seen evidence that the things he's said in this interview are false, I can't bring myself to believe the statements. I half expect him to sell the shares anyhow. If everything Craig said is true--both today and tomorrow--then he is definitely the exception and not the rule.

wbgarchives 1.1

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Fixed a bug where categories with four letter names were getting picked up even if the name wasn't all digits. Thanks Ludvig Omholt!

Pick up the new plugin here: my pyblosxom plugins.