New Blog up!

Yeah, it probably doesn’t look any different to you, but the new blog is up. Comments are still off, and I’m sure there will be tweaking to do, but it’s working. I was previously using an old version of b2, and have just moved to WordPress.

Yes, like you really care. SuperGroovy.

Seriously, I hope to actually write alot more, and have even implemented the categories (although I’m not convinced they are actually working at the moment).

I’m sick

It has been a long time since I’ve posted, and probably wouldn’t even be posting today, except that I’m not feeling well and really don’t feel like doing anything else at the moment.

I got up this morning and felt lousy. I managed to get myself to work, but left within about a 1/2 hour. I had this incredible pressure on my head, as if I was wearing a helmet that was way too tight. Despite the temperature, I was FREEZING and actually had a cup of hot chocolate when I got to work. No good – still felt lousy, so I headed home. Really not the time for me to be sick, but some things just can’t be helped.

So, what’s new with me? Plenty. My friends PJ and Janise just left, as they were staying with us for the weekend. I really enjoy their company, and it is always good to see them. They’re both doing well, which is great, and they always provide alot of laughs when they are here. I bet they are sitting in the car right now on their way back to Michigan. They’re also taking PJ’s father’s cat, so I bet that ride is quite interesting about now….

The house is still standing, as I always say. We got a new garage door, which is cool, but unfortunately, I messed up the lawn with too much/too little fertilizer (who knew). Next year, I think we’ll get a landscaping service – I don’t really know what I’m doing, and really don’t have the time to correct my dumb mistakes, you know?

Last week was the LISTnet Linux event which I had personally done alot of planning for. It has been well received by the business community, and I’m really happy that I’ve been a part of it. Bringing Linux to organizations is paramount to its growth as a truly reliable, mission-critical platform, and organizations are using the SIG to find out more about Linux for themselves, which is the absolute goal. We also “keep it real” by securing high-level executives from major companies to speak, which lets the business community know that this is not a sales pitch, but an informative session. The next meeting will be sometime in the Fall, I imagine.

LIPHP is going well too, with our last talk on AJAX. We’re getting good turnout, and more importantly, deeper technical discussions, which shows a larger adoption for the technology. Although many disagree with the term, I believe the AJAX technology is going to be a big boone for web applications, as it brings them one step closer to conventional applications. It amazes me almost daily how much the web has touched our lives in terms of information disemination and productivity, and with technologies like AJAX changing the usual Submit->Redraw paradigm, web technology will only flourish. Admittedly, being a social person, ultimately, technology only interests me in terms of connectivity between HUMANS, so I likely to believe that this will all happen.

I’ve started a project on Sourceforge for my db_2_pdo class (no files uploaded yet) for those of us who want to use PEAR classes and the PDO extension. I think we are the only ones that have hit this problem, but it is a big one. I won’t say that this class will solve all of your problems, but it makes everything work. As soon as I get off my butt and upload it, you can have a peek.

I just finished up a summer course at LIU in Robotics. It was alot of fun, and I consider myself a better person for taking it, as it addressed physical design (something I don’t get to look at often) as well as software design. It was a smart move academically to take the summer course too, as it is one less course I need to take later. I graduate May 2006, and I can’t wait. I enjoy school and learning, but I have other things that have been neglected because of it, so I’m looking forward to picking those up again. Either way, I have a two month break from it, and I’ll enjoy every minute of it!

I’ve created a Flickr account and put a bunch of pictures on it. They are digital photos that were either taken by me or a friend – they are mostly of my wedding. If you haven’t checked out flickr, please do, it is quite cool. Thanks to the MDHuman for introducing it to me.

So, I’ve already shared the news with many of you that my wife is pregnant. It’s our first child, we’re both very excited about it. I’m also scared as heck about it. Being responsible for something that is completely helpless is unfathomable to me. I’m spending alot of time these days thinking about what I want to convey to my child for personal growth. I want to give them the world, but don’t want to spoil them, either. Get this – the due date? December 25th. Merry Xmas to me!

This week is going to be crazy for me. We have an upcoming release at the end of the month, so we’re all trying to get it all done. I do my share of complaining, but late-night coding sessions are fun occassionally. As I said earlier, technology interests me in terms of people, and there are few greater feelings than to know that you’ve created something that others use daily, AND a, ctually enjoy using. That is a big reward, and one I’m looking forward to collecting come launchtime.

It is also going to be lonely in the house, as my wife is going to LA for the week for training. I’m a little nervous about her being on the plane, but the doctor says its OK. I’m sure my diet will be going to hell this week!

So, that’s about it for me right now. Still not feeling the best, but at least I accomplished something today….

The latest (long)

So, its been a while since I last wrote, and I know you are all waiting for an update (Yeah, right). Here’s the lastest.

As many of you already know, my truck is no more. I was in an accident in February, and the truck was totaled. In my last post, I mentioned that I was about to purchase a Honda from a friend. Well, I did, and it rocks. It is in great shape, and gets excellent gas mileage. Being the cheap fellow that I am (my wife hates when I say that!), I was also quite happy when I realized that I would break even on the deal with the money that I received from the “other guy’s” insurance company. I’d still rather have the truck – it would have ran forever – but the saving on gas mileage is more than a fair tradeoff.

In other “interesting” news, I nearly sliced my finger off at work yesterday. I was using a knife in the kitchen, being an idiot, and sliced my left pinky finger. I tried unsuccessfully to get it to stop bleeding, but ultimately needed to go to the hospital to get stiches. I was pretty worried about the tetnus shot, as my wife told me that it was a HUGE needle that HURT, but it turns out it barely hurts at all, and the needle is quite small. What really did hurt was the injection of the local right into the slice in my finger….

So, does anything good happen to you, Tom? Well, yes. I’m on train right now heading into NYC, destination, Philadelphia. Let me just say that it is a glorious morning. Sunny and warm, it gives me a new appreciation for getting up early (5am!). Up until about a year ago, I was pretty diligent about getting up a 5:30, and getting things done before work. I’ve slacked off, but I am now again inspired, and with the warm weather (hopefully) approaching, it will be a great opportunity to get things done.

Ok, back to some ranting. Taxes stink. I understand that we need to pay taxes. Fine. But when you look at how much you pay, you come to the realization that you basically live to pay taxes. Here’s a thought: we’re so concerned about the state of Social Security, and the amount of debt the country has racked up, why not let me keep more of my money for those two issues. I know, I know, exploitation of tax laws is rampant, but something really needs to be done. I would also like to see money earmarked for economic growth and innovation via small business startups. I’m sorry, but The Country doesn’t need more politians and government employees. We have too many as it is. Enough. What we need is innovation, new ideas and production of goods (moreso than services) that will contribute to the GDP. Hey, guess what? YOu can tax the heck out of it once it goes big! Until then, let it grow. Here’s what I propose:

Get the “young” saving for retirement early. Why? Buy-in. If we all believe in the system, we won’t let it fail. I can’t say the particulars, but those a few years out of college should be given strong tax incentives to save up to 20% per year of their income for retirement. This will create good habits and a strong nest egg for them going forward. It will also involve the young in finance, which will help all of us police fraud alot better – those young folk, they’re a fiesty bunch!

Small business incentives: You’re paying taxes and fees before you even start the company. Ridiculous. Now, yes, a business can “write off” plenty, but we need to take this to the next level. People are either too scare or too lazy to start their own businesses. Ask any college student today, and they will most likely tell you that a government job is the fastest and easiest way to get rich. In a capitalist society, this is the absolute WRONG message to send. We need everyone trying to innovate and create, not sit around and wait for their next union-sanctioned break.

Reduce debt: It is no secret that we Americans carry too much debt. Now debt makes the world go ’round, I understand. But consumer credit card debt is expensive, and as a society we need to do something about it. Why? Because credit card debt can “ruin” a person, without them having a fighting chance. This is not as easy a problem to solve, as debt is accumulated by choice, unlike taxes. But, we need to do something. Focusing on the young, we could do something like the following:

Training in school. Teach people what it means to have a credit card, and what the implications are. We may not need an entire class on it, but a few weeks of study will go a long way.

Some extra tax break for people who carry low balances. Again, the particulars need to be worked out, but a tax incentive for those who have a low balance could inspire some to cut back on spending. This one would never go through – no way the credit card companies would allow it.

An alternative to this may be to go the complete opposite direction and encourage CC spending, and then just mandate how high the interest rates can get. I don’t really care for this idea though, as it is really a bandaid, and doesn’t distribute responsibility properly. But, it is possible.

The national debt troubles me, and I’m sure that I don’t even understand the full ramifications of it. I do understand, however, that it is a debt nonetheless, and eventually our creditors are going to want their money back, especially as the global economy really kicks in, and the American economy isn’t as fruitful of an investment as it used to be. What exactly all of this means to us, I’m not sure. But I doubt it is good.

So, I’m now on Amtrak cruising off to Philly. I took the recommendation of my boss and am riding the Accela Express – nice train indeed! Big, comfy seats, lots of leg room, conference tables, relatively quiet and even power outlets so I can charge my phone. Very sweet. There is even a snack card. WooHoo!

So, the show was good. I really got a good sense about the direction of the company, and what needs to be done to get us there. Some people operate well in the “I do my job and that’s it” space – I’m not one of of them. My background (like it is really that deep) is really in bootstrapping, so I need to understand everything. I don’t necessarily need to be involved in it, but as a self-proclaimed information junkie, I need to know about it. When I understand the entire picture, I perform better. I guess it is also the competitive streak in me – I really enjoy beating the other guy where it counts – in his wallet. I guess it is all a big game, and I’m not a gamer, but I REALLY like winning at this one.

New Car Day (I hope)

So, my post is overdue, and a few things have happened since then. I probably wouldn’t be posting, except that I’m not feeling too great today (I think I’m getting a cold), and don’t feel like doing much of anything at the moment.

First off, my truck is no more. I was in an accident on the way to class, and the truck was declared totaled. An older man slammed right into the front driver’s side, and that was it. Everyone is OK, but I am now carless. I am really pretty bummed about the whole thing, as I had a vehicle that may not have been the prettiest, but was very mechanically sound, and now I have nothing. His insurance company did cut me a check pretty quick, but since the car was 19 years old, they hardly gave me anything for it. I really feel like something was stolen from me. I invested alot of time and effort into maintaining that truck because I knew (or thought I knew) that I could keep it for 5 to 10 more years without issue. It had low miles, and was running great. Oh well, such is life. It could have been worse, thank goodness it wasn’t.

The good news is that it looks like (fingers crossed) that I am getting another car today. A friend is selling a Honda with low miles at a good price, and I will most likely buy it. At this point in my life, with the house and general Long Island living, I really don’t want a car payment. I guess I don’t look at it the way others do. It is not a status symbol to me, especially since with the leasing options today, nearly anyone can drive a Mercedes or BMW. Elissa’s car is still going strong, but we’ll probably replace that with a “new” (or newer) car once it goes. As long as we have one “nice” car in the family, I’m Ok with that. Plus, I have my Z, which needs tons of work, but man, is that a ride!

In other news, Elissa and I took the plunge into furniture. She found a really great set at a reasonable price (can you tell that I’m cheap?) and it got delivered way sooner than expected. I tried to FreeCycle the Futon, but it ultimately went my co-worker/buddy Mark, who needed it. Hopefully it works out for him.

The PHP class at Farmingdale has been going well. I find that a good number of the students are at least attempted (and mostly completing) the extra credit assignments that I’m handing out. That’s really great, because I purposely try to give assignments that reflect what I’ve encountered in the real world. One of my goals with this course is to ensure that the students have something in their toolkit (read: resume) that is marketable. I’m all for academics, and I personally enjoy them myself. But I think the gap between college and the real world got very wide in the last decade or so, and is only recently starting to retract. I believe the Farmingdale staff is on top of this though, as they are often investigating new and different technologies specifically to address this problem. If it wasn’t for the folks there, this PHP course never would have gotten off the ground.

My classes at Post are going fine. I’m anxious to graduate though, as I have other things on my mind which I’d like to focus more on. I really like what we’re accomplishing at Bascom, the system is so vast, it really is technological playground for the geeks. There’s always new and fun things to try, and our bi-monthly wing nights are a big hit, too.

LIPHP will be having its 24 meeting on Monday. I can’t believe it has been two years. We have a hearty mailing list of over 100 strong, and decent attendance at most meetings. I’d like to find the time this year to do some promotion of it, as it is a great group with great topics, and I often encounter people who are actively developing in PHP who have never heard of it.

Well, that’s it for now, I think I’m going to grab a quick nap.

First Day of PHP class

So, today was the first day of PHP class. I think it went well. We’re a small group, but this is good as we can move at our own pace, which I suspect may be faster than normal. It will be fun for all!

Life has been OK, although I really don’t appreciate the snow and all of the heating problems we’ve been having. But, the furnace has been (practically) rebuild, so I hope nothing else will go wrong with it now….

Last week I started school again. I really wasn’t ready to go back – could have used another week. The courses seem good, and the professors knowledgable. Not too much homework either, which is always nice! Seriously, at this stage of my education I’m not looking for “busywork”, but for tips, tricks and techniques that are going to benefit me in my craft. So I appreciate the approach my profs are taking.

Happy New Year

Ok, I’m six days late, and way overdue for a post, but I just thought I’d say Happy New Year to all you happenin’ folks.

Things have been going well. Holidays were fun, albeit a little hectic, but so it goes, right?

More later.

Saturday morning

Well, it has been a while, so I thought I would post.

Thanksgiving went well – went to my grandfathers for dinner, and then met Elissa at her Aunt’s for dessert. I like seeing everyone, but I spend the whole day in the car, and without my wife. We did inform everyone that we wanted to do Thanksgiving next year, but they weren’t too receptive. I guess we’ll see what happens then.

I went to Albany last weekend for the day. Very interesting up there. Only three or four hours away, but it seems to be a different life. Slower paced, and people seemed happy to talk to you. Of course, you have to bare the “endless” winters, and the lack of beaches and “culture”, but very interesting nonetheless. I didn’t think it was bad at all, and I look forward to returning to learn more about the area.

Elissa is out with her friends tonight, and I’m home (by choice) doing computer work. A labor of love….

School is done for the semester next week. Thank Goodness! I’m tired, and these classes were alot of work, and alot of group work in particular. It was definitely worth it though, as I met some people I never would have otherwise, and they turned out to be a really great group of guys.

The season is upon us – have you finished your shopping yet? I haven’t….

Tom vs. the Telemarketer

They’ve been calling lately. And my number is on the do-not-call list, so you we must have done business with them…. They always ask for my wife.

Since I’m home this week, I got pretty excited to hear the phone ring. It was about 3 in the afternoon, so my bets were high that it would be them. Besides, no one ever calls us. I really don’t know why we have a phone.

I answer the phone and say hello. I hear nothing. I wait, and a female connects. I now move into stealth mode.

“Hello?”, I reply in the impersonation of a women’s voice that I can possibly do.
“Is this Elissa?”, she asks.
“Yes”, I reply, this time my voice accidently going a little higher.
The woman on the other end pauses for a moment, probably suggesting it was a gag (my impression is not that good).
“How are you doing today?”, she asks, trying to get me to say something else.
“Fine”, I reply.
She continues on:
“This is your account manager from the credit card company, and we’d like to offer you some new….” (product or service that I didn’t catch)
“No thank you”, I quickly blurt out, still in my high voice, and then hang up the phone.

Hopefully, she’ll just take us off of her list, but if not, my Apu (convenience store clerk from the Simpsons) or Mr. T impersonations should take care of it.

Update: mouse #2 caught, but there is a 3rd. I need to figure out where they are coming in. I also need to feed my cats less, maybe they will become more motivated.

MoMA on Saturday

Went to the grand opening of the MoMA on Saturday with a bunch of Elissa’s friends. It was a zoo. A two hour wait outside in the rain (I HATE WAITING) wasn’t worth it, I would have gladly paid $20 to eliminate that. The place is tremendous, though, and some of the new art was pretty neat.

Afterwards we headed to a Mexican restaurant on 49th and 9th. They had a $10 brunch special, which is pretty amazing for Manhattan – you can’t eat at McDonald’s for that much.

Just hanging out today, catching up on the (tons of) work that I need to do. Mom’s coming over for dinner and to nag me a bit.

I got an email from my Dad from his laptop in his truck. How ironic, that I live in a major metropolitian area, work in the tech field and HE has wireless access anywhere in the country. Go figure.

I’m on vacation all this week, so I hope to get plenty done, but I already feel like I’m pressed for time.

The latest

Had an interesting weekend. We found a mouse in the house!

Elissa was on the phone with her friend when she saw the cat scratching at the base of kitchen counter. She stood there for a moment, and then saw a mouse run out and back under the counter again. So, it was off to supermarket for me to get some mouse traps.

Got home, and realized that we didn’t have any peanut butter, so we had to use cheese. Well, the cheese didn’t work the first night. The next night, I got some peanut butter, set the trap and had the mouse in a couple of hours.

On Sunday we got dining room set which we found on Craigslist. GREAT condition, and cheap too! We had tacos for our first meal in our dining room, which was empty up until then.

Update: another mouse has been spotted. I had already called the exterminator, and now I’m on the hunt for our newest visitor….