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I forgot to mention earlier that this weekend I went to Safeway and picked up this soda called “Red Twist.” It tastes just like red licorice. That may sound gross to some of you, but I’m sucked in. It’s awesome.


I got my credit report last night because Jenn had received a free one and saw a bunch of stuff that probably shouldn’t be there, so I got concerned. I ordered the 3-in-1 version from Equifax which shows you all of your information from the major three credit reporting agencies. Luckily, everything on mine was pretty much up-to-snuff. There are a couple of discrepancies I have which I will dispute - for example, I had a credit card with a company that ended up going out of business and that credit line still shows as “open.”

Also, I scheduled my next test - MS070-320 Developing XML Web Services and Serviced Components with Visual C# and the .NET Framework - for this coming Monday at 11:30a. It’s scheduled for two and a half hours; let’s hope it doesn’t take that long.


We’re almost done with the first section of the day, which was an overview of ADO.NET. For those in the cheap seats, ADO.NET was the three-day in-depth class I took last week, so I can’t say this wasn’t a bit slow for me. What really got me, though, was the guy in my class who was also in my class last week… I think he was sort of “playing dumb” because he was quiet whenever the teacher asked any question, and I know we went over this stuff.

It got me to thinking that in classrooms everywhere, there are two major roles that get played. There’s the teacher, who will always ask questions of the class and actually expect to get an answer. Then there’s the student, who will never offer an answer regardless of whether the answer is known. I wonder why people do that - sit silent when they can answer the question. I don’t; I’ll answer, but then it seems like I’m the only one ever answering anything, so I start getting quieter and quieter so I can give the other students a chance… and they never take it. How irritating.

My mom emailed me and it seems that the table I thought Fred Meyer carried - a bar-height table to go with some nice bar stools - was ony a figment of my imagination. So I guess I’ll continue looking and will probably end up with the Bordeaux Bistro Set I saw this weekend online.





Looking at the next section, I see that we’ve got another ADO.NET review. Well, I guess my game of Spider Solitaire will just be improving…


We’re finally done with the ADO.NET chapter, and it’s lunch time before the lab. Whew. It’s been pretty slow, and I’m ready to get up and go.


Got the “nacho beef bake” at the store today. For being $8 a pound, this is the best thing I’ve had from there so far. Pretty tasty. I only got half a pound, but I could probably have eaten a whole pound if it hadn’t been so expensive. Maybe I’ll have to get that again tomorrow. I think it’s going to give me heartburn, though.

Something else I forgot to mention: I played the demo for Soul Calibur II on PS2 this weekend. Loved it. It’s a fighting game similar to the DOA series that I like, where you don’t have to remember 30,000 different button combinations to get things done - you have “vertical attack,” “horizontal attack,” “kick,” and “block.” I think I can figure that one out. I may have to pick it up. Folks say it’s one of the best fighthing games ever, and from what I’ve seen I tend to agree.


Done with the lab. Seems that several folks stayed through lunch and finished it up, so I guess I’m about even with them now. That’s okay, maybe we’ll get out early again…

Looks like the next chapter is more ADO.NET. I understand why they have an overview in every class - it’s important stuff - but we seem to be dwelling on it in here WAY more than any other class (other than the dedicated ADO.NET class that I just took).



This looks like a rockin’ game.


We’re a full chapter ahead today. We had the option of leaving early or going through another chapter, so we chose another chapter so we can try for a half-day Friday. I think we’ll still get out pretty early, and that’s just fine.


Oh boy. This chapter starts out with “What Is XML?” The end gets into some good stuff, though.


We’re about halfway through this chapter and we’re starting to get to the good stuff. We’ll probably leave the really good stuff for tomorrow, though.


We’re at the last lab for the day. I guess we’re going to do it tomorrow, so I’m outta here. Which is fine; it should take about 10 minutes to do it.

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I got a lot done last night! I mean, mods to Greymatter, the Toxic Waste shirts… stuff I’d been meaning to do for a long time, and it finally got completed. I think it’s amazing how much more energy you have when a) you’re not working four peoples’ jobs at the same time; and b) you aren’t spending an hour each way commuting to that four-in-one job. Got home yesterday and felt… like I could still accomplish something at home besides getting ready to pass out on the couch in front of the TV. It was good.

I did forget to schedule my next test for next week, but I can do that tonight after my haircut when I get home.


My hair stylist called and moved my appointment to Thursday, so I guess I’m going home right after class. Fine by me.


There are grounds floating in my coffee. Mmmmm.


I’m going to try to merge my mods from last night (Greymatter) into the latest version of Greymatter (1.21d) since I’m not on it right now (I’m at 1.21c). However, the proxy server here doesn’t seem to allow FTP through, and my HTTP-based file manager didn’t get set up right in the transition, so I guess I’ll wait until I get home. Bah.


Break time. We’re working on “events” in ASP.NET, which are pretty straightforward, especially now that I’ve already taken the Windows Applications programming course. Pretty much the same thing, actually, which is good - standardization appeals to me. It seems that it’s a hard concept for some folks in here, though, but I suppose never having written anything web-related will do that to you.


Thank goodness for WWW2FTP. Fileman is up and running.


Got the first lab of the day done, and we’re starting to get into some stuff I’m interested in. That’s good.

I’m going to go through (if I can) and see what’s different in the different versions of Greymatter. I think it’ll be minor stuff, but we’ll see.


Well, I just went through the Greymatter source and compared my modified version of 1.21c to the latest version, 1.21d, and merged all the changes into one primary version, which I’d like to think of as 1.21e.

I noticed while going through the code that whoever put together 1.21d actually removed a bunch of security-related code (the encryption of passwords, etc.). I left that in my build, though I can see how it might stop it from being used on Windows-based servers that don’t have the “crypt” command available.

The 1.21d primary change was a small security fix where folks on using a PHP exploit could somehow corrupt your Greymatter site. Not sure what that exploit is, but I left the security fix in place.

So my version, the unofficial 1.21e, has:

  • All of the features of Greymatter 1.21c
  • The PHP security fix from 1.21d
  • An updated comments posting routine such that when a user posts a comment (and you choose to be notified by email), the email will actually come FROM the user (if they provide an address) so you can potentially reply to the comment directly (the email layout is a little nicer, too)
  • Updated configuration so you can specify your Amazon Associate ID
  • Updated add/edit entry screens so you can use CTRL-SHIFT-E to add an Amazon Associate link, just by entering the item ASIN
  • Updated the CTRL-SHIFT-A link hotkey (when adding/editing an entry) to automatically add a **clause (more often than not, I want that)

I am considering modifying it slightly so it will write an RSS file when you add/edit entries, but I’m not sure if I want to do too much more work with this if I’m just going to migrate to Movable Type anyway.


Lunch. I’m not sure what I’m going to get yet, but I’m thinking I may chance Zupan’s (the market) again and see what sort of funky stuff they have that might NOT taste like Chef Boyardee.


Back from lunch. Went to the market again, but this time looked around a bit more before I settled on their deli fettuccine alfredo. That was pretty good, actually, so if they have it tomorrow, I may get that. Also picked up a Tazo Lemon Ginger iced tea, which is tasty.

While I was there I saw a couple of interesting things. First, I saw a four-or-five ounce bottle of balsamic vinegar that costs $130. I’m not sure how you can justify paying that much for vinegar, but some people have money to burn. Second, I saw Natural Cheetos - Cheetos with supposedly no preservatives, artificial flavors, or artifical colors, flavored with white cheddar. They looked sort of like little cheesy larvae in the bag, sort of white and poofy. How can you have Cheetos without the orange fingers?


Just finished an interesting lab involving tracing the execution of ASP.NET pages. A few things clearer there, and learned a couple of things I didn’t realize you could do.


We’re looking at validating input, which is all well and good, but my brain has checked out. I’m remembering why I was never a fan of school; I can’t concentrate on any individual thing for this long. Plus, lecture/classroom learning, while better than just reading the book, isn’t the best way for me to learn.

I don’t know what the best way for me to learn is. Maybe I should avoid it altogether.


Another lab down. Learned a bit about some of the functionality of the validation controls you can use. Don’t get me wrong, it’s neat stuff, but man… it’s programming. Ugh.


Last lab of the day…


Done. Yeah, boyeeee.


There must be some stupid email thing going around again, because I’m getting spammed with all of these virus-laden mails with the subject lines “Re: Approved,” “Re: Thank You!,” and “Re: Re: My details.” To all the morons out there: Stop opening up attachments from people you don’t know.


I guess that’s it for the day. I’m outta here. YAY, ME!

blog comments edit

So I just did a little hacking on the Greymatter source code so now I have some additional functionality:

  • In the configuration, there’s a spot where you can specify your Amazon Affiliate ID (for link creation)
  • When you add or edit an entry, you can hit CTRL-SHIFT-E to create a link to an Amazon product by entering the ASIN for the product
  • Links that you add to other sites, etc., all open in a new window by default

I’m pretty pleased. This makes it much more usable, especially for the way I blog.

net, aspnet comments edit


We’re partway through the first module and I’m kinda bored. It’s the same “overview” module they have in every single other class I’ve been in and I can almost recite it along with the teacher.

It’s amazing, though, how few folks in here have really done any web development. In a class of six, only two of us really have done anything. Some folks don’t know HTML even, which could be an issue considering that’s a prereq.

This guy Albert is in my class, and he’s been in two other classes. It’s cool to see him again; he’s a nice guy and it’s good to see a familiar face when you come to these things. Sort of “small world”-ish. He’s on a certification track, too.


We just finished the first module, and so far, so good.

Let me quickly go through the weekend. Actually, there’s not much to go over. Um… oh! I found the dinette set I want, but now I’ve got to find a couple of different places that carry it so I can get the best price. It’s called the Bordeaux Bistro Set by Hillsdale House, Ltd. Jenn digs it, too, so I think that’s what we’ll end up with. It’s free shipping right now, so maybe I’ll just go for it.

Went to a barbecue at my friends Dmitri and Holly’s house on Saturday. It was good to see them (and some other friends) there, and met a couple of new friends. They have a poker night at their house every couple of weeks. I suck at poker, but it might be fun to get together with them anyway and lose a couple of bucks.

Oh, and remember the meager drink selection we had in class last week? This week there’s no drinks. You get to pay $0.35 for a $0.25 can of Diet Pepsi if you so choose. I’m not a big coffee drinker, but it’s free, sooooo…

My friend Aaron has started a blog. That’s pretty cool; I’ll have to stop by regularly so I can keep up with him. I’ve found that I don’t keep in touch with people very well, so it’s hard to catch up with folks. I’m telling you people, this is the best way to go if you want to make sure folks know what you’ve been up to. Centralized, easy maintenance. Plus, from a time perspective, you can put a LOT more thought into your entries online than you can into 30 different “hey, what’s up?” email responses.


We’re going through the “how to start Visual Stidio.NET” section. Yawn. I guess that’s good for some of these folks, but I’m surfing.


I’m pricing computers at various online places and I’m finding that any computer with the stuff on it that I want will run around the $2000 range. Sigh. More than I really want to spend for a machine that won’t get too much use, but then, when I do use it, I want it to be good.


Looks like I can get a decent machine from HP for about $1700. Better than $2000, but with a few less features than the Dell $2000 machine I was looking at.


Lunchtime! I think I’ll head over to the local supermarket and get some lunch on the cheap.


I went to the supermarket down the street which is supposedly some sort of gourmet place (you know the type - they cater to the well-to-do so they charge too much for everything and offer weird products you don’t want) and ordered a half-pound of their lasagna.

It’s Chef Boyardee if I’ve ever tasted it. Seriously. And that’s not complimentary.

Tomorrow I think I’ll try something different, or maybe just buy ingredients to make something myself.

So I thought of a few projects that I need to get on, and maybe will work a bit on one of them tonight.

First, we need a really cool home page at the MildPeril top level and I have a cool idea, so I’ll see if I can get something together for that.

Next, I use Greymatter right now for blogging, and while eventually I want to move to Movable Type, I need to do a little customization on Greymatter to hold me over. For example, when you add a link to a site while you’re editing your blog entry, you can type CTRL-SHIFT-A and it will automatically insert the link. I need the link to be inserted with a **attribute, though, so links will open a new window instead of taking you out of my site. Also, I add links to stuff I buy (a la Amazon) and I want to add a hotkey combination to automatically generate those links so I don’t have to. That’s probably like 10 minutes of work, but it’ll save me some time in the long run.

Also, I have a couple of t-shirt designs in mind that I want to do. One is the “I (Heart) Toxic Waste” shirt like the one you see Val Kilmer wear in Real Genius. Another is the Turd Ferguson shirt I’ve spoken of previously.

Finally, I have a really cool idea I’ve been toying with for a configuration file editor in .NET. I think that if I could get it to work, it’d be really, really handy, but I am lazy. I won’t lie to you. It will probably never see the light of day, but it’d be pretty cool.

I’ve been studying for my next test and while it felt very complicated at first, now that I’ve been through the questions on the practice tests a couple of times, it’s feeling much more familiar. I think I will schedule the next test for sometime next week so I can get it out of the way and move on with life.


I just went looking at some different Flash animation products out there and…

You know, I used to be totally into Flash and front-end technology. I was pretty decent at it, and getting better all the time. That was, like, two years and two versions of Flash ago. Now I look at this stuff and all the things it can do and feel completely overrun. Which really feels bad because when I got into web development in the first place, it was specifically to do the front-end development. Now I spend so much time coding and doing the back-end stuff, I can’t remember how to do the fancy front-end stuff anymore.

Further and further away from where I wanted to be when this started out…

And now I don’t see that there’s really any way to go back. I’ve got too much experience programming and not enough practical design experience to get a job doing anything but programming. I’d do it at home for my own benefit, but I’m so wiped out when I’m done with the day at work (programming well and truly takes all of my energy) that I don’t even really turn on the computer at home.

I wonder how many people this sort of thing happens to - trying desperately to go down one career path but being dragged by your ankles down a totally separate path.


I went to this La Femme Nikita web site and it looks like (as of July 27) they may or may not put out season two on DVD. I really hope they do; I love that show. Right up there with Alias in the “suck-me-in” factor. I can’t not watch.


I found a shirt for Jenn.

And one for me.


I just got some more web site stats from Marty and it seems my average visits count just keeps going up. Who are all you people?!


Well, that 30 minute lab just took about eight minutes.

People might ask, “If you already know this stuff, why are you in the class?” I have an answer for that.

This beginning stuff - the first, say, five or six modules out of 17 - are definitely review. The rest, though, are going to be complementary to my existing knowledge: reinforcing the stuff I already know and filling in the gaps for the stuff I don’t.

Plus, it’s very validating to see that I’m so familiar with this stuff

  • it shows that I have, in fact, learned the stuff I’ve set out to learn. That’s a good feeling.

Besides, not being at work is almost the same as being on vacation. Isn’t it?


We just started the next module, and I just finished with the lab for it. Maybe I’ll get out really early…?


I just wrote a really cool VBScript that I can use in these classes to quickly set up a machine’s environment for use. It automatically adds the “Command Prompt Here” functionality (like the Windows Power Toy), updates the registry so the command prompt will automatically set up the environment for Visual Studio.NET when you run it (rather than having to use the “Visual Studio Command Prompt” all the time - what a pain!), adds a shortcut to Notepad to your SendTo folder (so you can right-click on things and send them to Notepad), and sets the path completion character to TAB. I’m stoked.

Looks like we’re way ahead today, so we’re outta here. Rock on, man.