July 27, 2007

Go Watch The Simpsons

The Simpsons Movie is out in theaters now, so go out and watch it. Look for me in the background of one of the scenes. My character is attached. :-)

Posted by troutm8 at 03:21 PM

And The Beatings Continue

I'm starting to wonder why I signed up for softball this year. :-) After starting out with a win my team has lost the rest of our games, and they have not even been close. For my part I've made plenty of fielding mistakes, I've mostly played third base, but my play has gotten steadily better over the past few weeks. I noticed the other day that everyone on my team bats right handed. I wonder how difficult it would be for me to learn how to bat left handed and become a switch hitter? I think I'll work on that and maybe pull it out for our last game of the season. :-)

Posted by troutm8 at 03:13 PM

Well Balanced iPhone Article

Thanks to Patricia for sending me a link to this article. I think it is a well balanced article that covers the good things and areas for improvement in a decent amount of detail. It seems like the author has experience with smartphones and actually knows what he is talking about when it comes to tech stuff. But the money quote from this article is:

"No, the iPhone doesn't make you taller, stronger, better looking, or able to fly. It's not the perfect device for every human being on the planet, nor is it perfect for every situation. In fact, it's not perfect at all. However, it is the best phone I've used, or even played with, and with the sole exception of Exchange/Domino-style connectivity, it is the best smartphone I've ever used. I've been using it heavily since it came out, and it's done everything it's supposed to do better than anything else I can think of. It's not the cheapest smartphone I've ever had, but it is, by far, the best value in a smartphone I've ever had, and I'll take value over low price any day. Well worth every penny."

I would second that opinion.

Posted by troutm8 at 03:09 PM

July 25, 2007

FMT Is My Friend

How many times have you been looking for an obscure shell command to do something, haven't found it, and then use perl or python do work around that problem? It has happened to me several times, but this time my search for an obscure shell command that did exactly what I wanted was successful. That command was fmt. One of my tests consists of starting up a product, waiting for it to get into a steady state, then killing one of the supporting processes, and then running tests to see how it handles the requests that I send it. Pretty simple right? For non-software people out there it is kind of like taking a table (with 4 legs), sawing off one of the legs, and then load testing it to see when and where it fails, kind of. The only interesting and non product specific line of code from the shell script that I can print here is this:

kill -9 `ps -ef | grep SomeProcess | awk '{print $2}' | fmt`

This line basically does a ps command, filters out the term SomeProcess, then filters out the process ID (I usually get 3 process IDs as output), and then puts them all as one string with white space in between them using fmt. Then the kill command kills off all of those processes. So in a nutshell it kills off all the processes that I want killed. I guess it is debatable as to whether or not -9 is needed, but I'm putting it in there just to be safe. But it was fairly random that I found it and was able to apply the fmt command. Officially fmt does the following:

fmt is a simple text formatter that fills and joins lines to produce output lines of (up to) the number of characters specified in the -w width option. The default width is 72. fmt concatenates the inputfiles listed as arguments. If none are given, fmt formats text from the standard input.

In my case it takes my three process IDs output by the `ps -ef | grep SomeProcess | awk `{print $2]`` command:


and slaps them together -> 20309 21417 87362 so that you can kill them all with one kill command. So the final command looks like this:

kill -9 20309 21417 87362

wam bam thank you mam. Simple shell scripting kept simple and effective. I learned today that fmt is my friend.

Posted by troutm8 at 02:54 PM

Harry Potter Unleashed

On Saturday I was at Target with Timber and I remembered vaguely that the last Harry Potter book was supposed to come out that day (July 21st). I didn't think Target would have any, and if they did they would probably be more expensive than Costco or Amazon. But when I walked by the book section they had tons of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" books, and for only $17.99. I couldn't believe it, so, since I've read all the previous books and they are still fairly fresh in my mind, I decided to pick it up. I noticed something rather odd about the price tag on that section. I took a picture of it and attached it to this blog post. Can you tell what is wrong here? At any rate I've heard about people getting the book right when it came out at 12:01 AM and going home and blazing through it until they were done. I'm going to take my time and enjoy it since it is the last Harry Potter book. Anyone want to borrow it from me after I'm done? Just send me an email...

Posted by troutm8 at 02:12 PM

July 23, 2007

Tour De France Videos

You wouldn't believe what cool stuff you can find on YouTube. Take this video for instance. I bet the riders were freaked out when a horse decided to join them on the race. :-)

Posted by troutm8 at 04:04 PM


This is a pretty cool site (really just one page). I'm tired of the iPhone now, time to move on to one of these. Just kidding. The Apple Kool-Aid has made it into my bloodstream and I'm infected.

Posted by troutm8 at 04:00 PM

July 20, 2007

What I Learned From Kenny Rogers

Liking country music may have no obvious connection to iPhones, but for me it has a connection. I just ran across this article about a guy that had the same plan as me: buy an iPhone or two and then make a profit by selling them on eBay. The only difference between us is that I know the music of Kenny Rogers and took the lessons to heart while he did not. To save you the time of reading that article he bought an iPhone, put it on eBay and sold it at a $40 loss. I, on the other hand saw that there was too much supply and not enough demand and walked away. I did as Kenny Rogers recommends:
"You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when youre sittin at the table.
Therell be time enough for countin when the dealins done."

So next time you aren't sure what to do, dig into your collection of country music for advice. Or just use common sense and find some arbitrary connection between two disparate objects. :-)

Posted by troutm8 at 09:22 AM

July 19, 2007

Tour De France Observations

The Tour De France has been going for over a week now, and Timber and I have watched nearly all of it while losing out on a lot of sleep. Having a DVR can be both a blessing and a curse. The first week has been marked by some injuries and a few new faces getting their names out there. It has been pretty entertaining, and as any good red blooded American I'm looking for the Americans to make a good showing and not embarass us. With that being said most of the Americans are doing alright, except for David Zabriscke. I don't know what happened to him. He is now out of the race because he finished outside the time limit. I know he's not the leader of the team, but I didn't see him get injured or anything. Maybe he just had a really rough time and the pain of the long rides finally got to him. These guys are amazing. It is like running a marathon every single day for roughly 3 weeks. I also haven't seen all that much out of Levi Leipheimer. I'm looking for him to show himself, but he has deliberately kept a low profile and not attacked much yet. I hope he is just waiting for the right oppurtunity and isn't just barely holding on. He's not out of it, but if Rasmussen keeps riding like a madman in the mountains he will win KOM and the overall.

Posted by troutm8 at 06:06 PM

July 17, 2007

Nice Try Google

According to this article, Google has announced a new custom search solution for small businesses. Also, according to the article (the reporters usually make lots of mistakes when covering tech) this new Google custom search has the following features/specs:
1. The search page can be customized, including the company logo, changing the background and fonts, etc...
2. Allows key phrases to be suggested in search results.
3. Results are delivered via an XML API which means you can customize your search page and search results page any way you want.
4. Upper limit of 5k pages.
5. Costs $100 per year.
6. Hosted by Google (You don't have to download anything or dedicate any hardware to it).

This competes directly with the product I work on (OYE). By the way, the views expressed here are strictly my own. I am NOT representing IBM or Yahoo! in this post. Here is how OYE compares on all of these points:
1. Our search and results pages can also be customized the same way (they probably took the idea from us).
2. We allow key phrases as well as featured links and synonyms which I think are more useful.
3. You can do this with ours but it seems like it is a bit more work than with the Google Custom Search.
4. Upper limit of 500k pages.
5. Costs $0 (FREE).
6. You have to put it on your own server (which can be good or bad depending on your perspective).

It can be good that you host it on your own server if you don't want the outside world to access your company's intranet. It can be bad if you don't want to have complete and total control over your search engine. There is at least one other thing that we do that it looks like the Google Custom Search does not or cannot do. Filecrawl search. Obviously because they have to tunnel into your company's network they cannot easily crawl your local and shared filesystems (nor would you want them to). At the end of the day I would like to play with the Google Custom Search to see exactly what it can and can't do instead of depending on one article which probably isn't all that accurate any way. But I applaud them for coming out with something to answer our shot across their bow. Competition is a good thing. It will make us and them better and the customers in the marketplace with benefit from it.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:08 AM

July 16, 2007

Surfing on Saturday

Dude, Saturday was so totally righteous. Timber and I caught some huge waves at Cowell Beach while learning how to surf. It so totally rocked. OK, enough of the California surfer dude writing sytle. On Saturday Timber and I went to Santa Cruz to take surfing lessions from the Santa Cruz Surf School. There were a total of 4 of us in the class, and we got our wetsuits and surfboards and walked down to Cowell Beach and learned how to surf. The waves were pretty small but by the time we were done each of us had correctly caught a few waves. We also learned about surfing etiquitte and how to read waves. Our instructor didn't talk all that much but he shared information freely when you asked him questions. Toward the end of our lesson we paddled over to the wharf. While under the wharf a sea lion thought I was interesting and swam around and under me. It didn't touch me but it came within a foot of me. By the time we were done my arms were tired from all the paddling and we walked back to the surf shop to return our gear. Overall it was a fun experience and I will definitely go surfing again. After surfing Timber and I used Yelp via my iPhone to find Vasili's Greek Restaurant which ended up being pretty good.

Posted by troutm8 at 01:51 PM

Bocce Ball

On Friday my group took a little bit of time off to go play Bocce Ball at Campo do Bocce in Los Gatos. I've played bocce before, but never on a court this nice. The balls just seemed to carry on forever as if we were sliding them on ice. But overall it was a fun and relaxing time, and the food and bocce were good, so I'd recommend checking it out sometime. And since it was an Italian themed activity I had to ride the Vespa there. :-) After we finished, we took the rest of the afternoon off. It was kind of like having a 3 day weekend. It is nice to do team activities every now and then.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:21 AM

July 13, 2007

iPhone Terrorism Commercial

This is an iPhone commercial I did about how terrorists could use the iPhone to plan attacks. Luckily they would probably be stymied by the crappy AT&T network. :-) It is kind of long an drawn out but hold on to the end and see me get a call from Osama Bin Laden!

Posted by troutm8 at 09:49 AM

Soup Kitchen iPhone Commercial

This is an iPhone commercial I did about what you do if you spent all your food money on the iPhone. You can then use you iPhone to find all the soup kitchens in your area and call them to see what is on the menu today. :-)

Posted by troutm8 at 09:46 AM

Thrift Store iPhone Commercial

Here is the first iPhone commercial that I have put on YouTube. It is a commercial about how if you spend all your clothing budget money on your iPhone you can then use your iPhone to find thrift stores.

Posted by troutm8 at 09:30 AM

July 12, 2007


I came across this page as part of some search relevancy testing that I'm doing and I couldn't help but laugh and be scared at the same time. I laughed because this page supposedly scanned my computer and told me that I had several windows viruses but I'm using Ubuntu Linux and I know it is a hoax anyway. But it is scary because they have done a pretty good job of making the screen look like the Windows OS which will probably throw off plenty of people that don't know any better. And what's worse is that they ask you to install some software from their site. It kind of reminds me of when I was playing around with similar pop ups in college I once put a pop up on my web site saying that I had detected a virus and that the user should immediately formate their hard drive to get rid of it. Needless to say one person actually did that and then sent me a nasty email later. :-) Never understimate the ability of people to believe everything they see. Be careful out there kids.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:02 AM

July 11, 2007

What A Waste

Thanks to Rob for sending this to me. I was horrified when I saw this video. Just think about all the research and development, patents, engineering, testing, marketing, etc... that went into getting this product out to the public and then some people just want to destroy it. These are probably the same people that make these the top 10 searches on Yahoo! today:
1. Transformers
2. Katie Couric
3. Harry Potter
4. WWE
5. Beyonce Knowles
6. Limewire
7. Jessica Alba
8. Megan Fox
9. Hi-5
10. RuneScape
When I see this I think it is such a waste.

Posted by troutm8 at 05:02 PM

July 10, 2007

Gross Cakes

I went to Albertson's the other day and ran across these cakes in the bakery section. Which one would you try first? Personally I can't think of any reason to ever try any of them. It is just gross.

Posted by troutm8 at 09:46 PM

The T-Mobile Girl Wants An iPhone

I was at the Oakridge Mall (San Jose) yesterday and as I walked past the T-Mobile kiosk near the Apple Store the girl working at the kiosk asked me what phone I had. I told her that I had an iPhone and she seemed really intrigued and asked to see it. So I whipped it out and did a demo for her. To make a long story short it sounded like she wanted to get one. I think Apple should pay me some sort of helper fee when people that I do demos for go and buy an iPhone. How's 10 % sound?

Posted by troutm8 at 09:12 PM

July 09, 2007

iPhone Videos

Ah the joys of the internet. Here's a video by David Pogue, host of the TV show "It's All Geek to Me!". He demonstrates his experience with the iPhone.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:05 PM

Anchorage Coffee Stands

A few years ago while we were visiting my family in Anchorage Timber got the idea to drive around Anchorage and take pictures of the different drive through coffee stands. While I was killing some time the other day I slapped them together and posted them on smugmug. As you can see the people of Anchorage like their coffee, and they also like not having to get out of their cars to get it. Call them lazy if you want, but I'd call them practical. If it is cold, dark, and snowing, would you get out of your car to get your coffee if you didn't have to?

Posted by troutm8 at 10:50 PM

July 05, 2007

Kenny Chesney Concert

On Monday Timber and I went to a Kenny Chesney concert at Shoreline Ampitheater in Mountain View, CA. The show was originally supposed to have Pat Green, Sugarland, and Kenny Chesney but one of the members of Sugarland was not able to perform (we heard they got sick) and thus the show was shrunk down from three acts to two. Pat Green was alright but I don't know if I'd buy any of his music. The Kenny Chesney part was fantastic. He's a great performer that brings a lot of energy to his shows and he really interacts with the crowd. Add that to the fact that he has some really good songs and you have a concert where everyone stood almost the entire time. There's something really special about live performances where you can sing the song along with the artist and 20 thousand other fans at the same time. I don't know of any other feeling quite like it. But as you can see in the attached picture both Timber and I got cowboy hats for the occasion and had a really good time.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:54 AM

July 03, 2007

New iPhone Apps

Check out these new iPhone apps. Cool!

Posted by troutm8 at 11:19 PM


I got up early on Saturday and went to Fort Ord (near Monterey) for an airsoft event put on by Roundhouse Productions. Devin let me borrow some gear so that I could take part in the three games. There were somewhere between 200 and 300 people taking part and we were put on teams based on the type of camo we were wearing. This being my first time at airsoft I didn't expect much from myself. But I did improve as the games went on. I started out getting shot more than I shot other people but by the third game I shot more people than had shot me. My overall impressions of airsoft are that it is a lot of fun, good exercise, not a poor man's sport, and kind of like summer camp in that you show up not knowing many people but you have fun and make friends along the way. I can see how people get really into it. Thanks to Devin for letting me borrow his gear and taking this picture.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:15 PM

Got An iPhone

For those of you who know Timber and me, you may wonder which of us is more into Apple stuff (aka drinks the Apple Kool-Aid). At this point I don't know because she uses the stuff all day at work and is immersed in it while I ditch my thinkpad for a macbook and iPhone whenever I can. But that issue aside, when the iPhone came out I had originally planned on buying two, selling them on eBay for a hefty profit, and then buying one later (when they were available again) with the profits. Great plan right? Well, when it got released on Friday (6/29) I watched the news, blogs, and ebay starting at 3 PM PST to see what would happen. My plan would only work if there was much more demand than supply. So as I watched them pop up on eBay and checked the news I couldn't find any information about the iPhones selling out. And then right at 6 PM PST when the Online Apple Store started selling them I snapped up two 8 Gb iPhones, but the shipping estimate was 2 - 4 weeks. That's when I started to have serious doubts about my great business plan. :-) Then Timber came home from work around 9 PM and wanted to head to the Valley Fair Apple Retail Store (they stayed open until midnight) to see the spectacle. I didn't really feel like going because I had to get up early the next day but she eventually talked me into it. We got there at 10:30 PM and the store wasn't packed but it was pretty full. I immediately noticed that there were WAY more Apple employees than normal, probably 4x. I also noticed that there was no line to buy an iPhone. So I bought one because I figured my plans were shot and I'd just get one for myself and call it a day. So I went to the back of the store, walked up to the counter and bought an 8 Gb iPhone without having to wait. I think the people that did wait in line can make themselves feel better by telling themselves that they were part of a spectacle. But it kind of makes me laugh. So after Timber and I got back home we debated my eBay plan a little bit more before deciding to pop the cork and play with the iPhone. The thing that really put us over the top was the fact that there were almost 8k of them for sale on eBay. The packaging was typical for Apple in that it was nicely packaged and attractive. They really pay attention to small details. After taking a few obligatory pictures we hooked it up to the computer and walked through the steps in iTunes to set it up. iTunes then told me that it would take a little bit of time to enable the phone and then I went to bed. The next morning I checked it before I had to leave and it still hadn't been enabled. No biggie. I went to play airsoft with Devin and then when I got back I saw an email saying that I needed to call AT&T because there was a problem. I called them and worked out the issue and then they started the process all over again. To make a long story short it took 48 hours for the iPhone to be enabled. And to further compound my frustration I couldn't do ANYTHING on the iPhone until AT&T enabled it. AT&T sucks and I would have gone with another wireless provider at this point if I had a choice. I wish there was some way for Apple to get out of their 5 year exclusive contract with AT&T because AT&T did not live up to their portion of the agreement. So it was the most high tech pet rock/paperweight I've ever had until it got enabled. Luckily it did eventually get enabled and that pain the ass is slowly fading in my memory. So what it worth it? Does it live up to the hype and cost? Yes (enthusiastically) to both questions. I think it surpasses the hype. What I told my coworkers this week when they came to my office to check it out is that there are plenty of things that the iPhone doesn't do including:
1. GPS
2. You can't buy songs directly off of iTunes from it.
3. It doesn't have any extra memory slots.
4. You can't remove the battery. -> You can, just not easily
5. It only works with AT&T. -> currently being hacked
6. You can't remove the sim card -> you can pretty easily
7. Lots more

But my response to these points was in the form of a question. What other cell phone/music player/movie player/email/internet/etc... device has all that stuff? None. And to top that what the iPhone does (video iPod, email, web browsing, YouTube, stocks, weather, notes, calendar, 2 MegaPixel camera, pictures, phone, etc...) it does exceedingly well. Seriously, as Ferris Bueller says in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), " If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up". Thus far the words that I can think of to describe the iPhone are:
freakin' awesome
frickin' sweet

So if you aren't convinced yet and want to check it out come by my office next week to play with it. :-)

Posted by troutm8 at 10:40 PM