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February already?

Rudy Park
Squeezed this one before February hit with just a few hours to spare!

It seems like just yesterday I was making my last journal entry, but I mean WHOA! It's already February. My last entry was on Dec 11, the day that my internet provider left and I haven't had internet at home in.....wow, almost 2 full months. That's, like, forever in Internet-land. It's really a strain when you have a lot of work to do ON the "internets" and when your clients are breathing down your neck to get stuff done, but you can't get anything done because your only stable internet connection is 30 minutes away (I'm speaking of the Office, here) and you're snowed in so much you can't even leave the parking lot! Yeah, it's been a hard 2 months.

I won't go into any fine details, so I'll just cover the basics in 60 seconds or less (I hope). *big breath* Here I go: Keat and I went across the state (twice) for Xmas, had fun with my sisters and their signifiant others (and accompanying children), got a few gifts for Xmas, spent New Year's at Keat's parents' and met Thomas' new girlfriend, shucked oysters (fun), came back to Raleigh, found out that I mixed up my Secret Santa person (oh well), came back to Asheville, got snowed in for 2 weeks (not fun), got Chi fixed before Xmas (semi-tragedy; almost lost her (temporily misplaced, not due to surgery)), finally got into work and have been working for 2 weeks straight, Keat is back in school and it's kicking her butt, doing well with the Shadow Dev Newsletter (yay - committment!), got 2 new Ratchet & Clank games (spent many wee morning hours playing those), signed up for FourSquare over the holiday, got tired of it, stopped doing it, attended many, many seminars over the past few weeks, started a new service Receipt Rescue (which seems to be progressing well), worked on client stuff (did I say that yet?), trying to shrink my to-do list, worked on Neko Sentou and 50% through Vol 12 (YAY! Check our story progress at Lunar Productions), participated in my first PiLam Omega Zeta initiation after 2 years, and we are moving to Waynesville in the summer since Keat's transfering (hoping) to Western in the fall.

Was that 60 seconds? Probably not, but that's a lot easier than filling x number of pages with finer details.

Over the past few weeks, I've been working on NSMT's request system. After a (literal) system overhaul with some finer tweaking, the system is finally finished (99.9%). Technically, it's done, but I'm revamping a record modification system with jQuery and it's taking me longer than expected.

I've been working closely with QR codes on the Shadow Dev site for today (take a look at the QR Page I created - I think it's pretty cool), and replacing the images with image sprites (to reduce the server hit response; in laymen's terms: 10 images produces 10 hits, meanwhile 1 image sprite with 10 images used 10 times produces 1 hit - smaller server response time, faster loading, and more accurate analytics). I'm also working on NSMT's Shuttle Service, which is a new service they want. May take me a few more days to get that finished.

Just saw Inception, and that was pretty good. It took a while to get into it, but once you got into it, it's like a roller coaster ride (same goes with The Men Who Stare at Goats).

Oh yeah, I have been receiving a butt-load of spam-bot comments on the blog. I finally revamped the comment system to strip out a lot of what the spam-bots were sending in. I used to receive 1 email every 30 minutes saying "New Comment" with the content of (but not limited to): free poker online, certain underage adult actions, enlargements of a certain male body part, getting 1000 Facebook fans (tons with that), "I like your site and visit it daily" (if they really submitted that, they would realize that the blog hadn't been updated in 2 months), and various other spam-bot-like material. They're getting really desprate and/or creative. I like to think the first. Anyway, since I revamped the comment posting system and implemented some new filters, I get maybe 1 spam-bot a month now. Nice to have those multi-level filters in place.

One last thing: finally met Janet at the Specialty Sauce place down the hall. Turns out that she and her husband(?) owned the Sushi restaurant down the street for 16 years. They had to leave since a nail salon moved in next door and the toxic fumes were getting into the restaurant - not a good experience. However, it turns out that she's a semi-expert sushi and nigiri maker, and she's making/selling sauces since her restaurant is kinda downhill right now. She also said that people from all over the area went to her specifically to have sushi (even people in Sylva, Asheville, and even Robinsville (where the heck is that?)). Can't wait to try some of her sushi!

I'll try to keep up with the postings as much as I can. Till later.


Tags:#inception #xmas #rudypark #qr #hits #sprite #nekosentou #receiptrescue #chi #asheville #snow #shadowdev

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Snow Day? Snow Way!

xkcd
(Snow comic for the Snow day)


Sorry for the bad pun, but that's the way it seemed today. We saw that it was snowing last night, so Keat got up a little early and found out that classes were on a 2-hour delayed schedule. So what did we do: we slept for 2 more hours. We finally got up at around 9:30 and got our things together to leave. I didn't want to get out of the comfy, thick, warm covers. I thought "the world can end before I'll get out," but Keat had to get to class.

There was snow on the ground, and more falling every minute. My hands were about to freeze off. After working up the courage to brave the cold, we went to my car only to find out that my doors were frozen shut. What luck. I went inside and got a pitcher of water to pour on the ice. I went back outside, and Keat had the passenger doors open. I guess that side was facing the sun. I focused back on the pitcher, and poured it on the driver-side windows and doors. After some wiggling, the doors finally opened and I started up the car. It was a little squeaky due to the cold, but we made it to HCC.

I dropped Keat off at class and I went to the Mill Pond to take some pictures of a snow-covered mill house on a pristine lake. What a picturesque moment! Too bad my phone doesn't take very good long-distance photos. I was driving to the office when Keat called me saying her class was over. Apparently, the teacher was just collecting papers. I went back to her and dropped some more stuff off. Then, I went to the office again.

I caught up on my email, RSS feeder, and other related interests. A few main things I wanted to take care of were the Uptime status report on the ShadowDev.com site, "Latest Comments" on the blog, and a few other items.

According to Pingdom, the new server has a surprisingly decreased downtime as compared to the old server. The report said that the old server had a 99% uptime ratings, and so far, the new server has a 74% uptime. So much for the guarantee...

I found out that there were a few things that didn't transfer from the old server to the new server, including some of the recent changes I made to the blog. I played "code catchup" for a few things (including re-referencing the format_link alrorithym from the old server to the new; apparently, the new server couldn't find the right file and couldn't parse the functions, so the Twitterfeed fetcher and RSS maker wouldn't work), then worked on the "Latest Comments" section, which took the most time. I put in the following code to retrieve the title of the responded entry the comment was left for:
$sql="select `title` from `journal` where id=$id";
 
list($title)=mysql_query($sql) or die("Error 30: ".mysql_error());
 
echo $title;

and ran the code. It didn't turn up what I expected. As a matter of fact, it didn't turn up anything! The source code, the output buffer, the error reporting...all were blank. I spent the next hour trying different things to figure out the issue. I finally gave up and referenced the PHP online documentation. What I found made me felt stupid. I had to add one line to the above code for it to work properly:
$sql="select `title` from `journal` where id=$id";
 
$result=mysql_query($sql) or die("Error 30: ".mysql_error());
 
list($title) = mysql_fetch_array($result);
 
echo $title;

Wow, did I feel stupid. I put that in, and it worked like a charm. Only then did I find out that there were 4 spam-based comments that I had to moderate.

Keat got out of class, we had lunch, then back to the office. We also found out that the next time our neighbors' dog starts being mistreated, we can call the Asheville Police and file a complaint, which allows the landlords to file a violation as well. This is great because now we have a plan of action instead of wildly guessing our next step.

Anyway, while she worked and took a nap, I watch Danny Phantom, Season 3 (which I have not seen before) and worked on the Expo report (which is due tonight) and the VIM coloration issue. On the old server, the VIM editor would automatically add colors to the proper code segments while editing. The new server didn't support this, and it was getting very confusing when I would edit files. After searching Google for about 10 minutes, nothing turned up. Apparently, I was calling it by the wrong name and should have been searching for "Syntax Highlighting." Long story short: the VIM version I had (7.0) was compiled with the TINY option, which is basically a minimalized installiation. I tried to re-compile it, but the configure file was missing. So, I tried to update it via yum, but yum said it was up-to-date. The latest version was 7.3, so I knew something was off. I downloaded and compiled VIM 7.3 and compiled it with everything under the sun. Therefore, I was guarenteed to get the Syntax higlighting I so wanted. After some initial testing, I also found out that the command vi was defaulted as a minimalistic editor (7.0), while vim is the full-fledge editor (7.3) with syntax highlighting included. So I fixed a few bugs and have the most up-to-date version for editing, along with a backup for emergency fixing. No harm done.

I then decided to check Facebook (for the heck of it), and while trying to get used to their new profile layout, saw that a friend of ours was having some trouble on the snowy roads in Asheville. I asked her to keep us updated, becasue we still have to come home. We had a small discussion and she posted photos of the snowy roads. After I saw the photos, all I thought was "Aw crap." Based on her reports, the roads were snowy and icy, and people were sliding all over the place. And me without my current car insurance card (it's in the mail and should be here within the next few days). Keat and I decided to try to find her teacher so she could possibly miss class if need be. We frantically searched the traffic reports and saw that I-40W was slow and I-40E was clear. However, that didn't say how the road conditions were. I was thinking back to last year when Keat and I had to walk to the nearest working grocery store, and how I didn't want to drive through that.

We drove to her school and tried to find her teacher. The roads weren't that bad (although that was a 5 mintue drive). After searching and waiting for about 45 minutes, the teacher finally arrived and wasn't too sure about class. We then decided to gain the courage and drive home. Keat didn't want to stay the night at the office.

We got on the highway and I followed a truck for about 10 miles. Thinking the roads got worse the further we got near the city, I was mentally prepared to face the icy roads. We finally passed the truck I was following since the roads weren't that bad (just a little snow dusting), and kicked it up the rest of the way home. Turns out the roads in West Asheville weren't bad at all, just had a little dusting. The roads in South Asheville had the brute of the storm and had icy roads. Luckily, we weren't in that area.

We got home, took care of the kitties, and Keat worked on a presentation and paper she had due. My laptop was used to catch up on our shows, and I played PS2 while I waited.

Chi's still in heat and it's driving us nuts! We are going to call the spaying service and get an appointment asap!

The temperature is in the mid-teens (with a wind chill of 3!) and there is a light flurry outside. This isn't right for NC! I just wonder how things will be different tomorrow with the class schedule. I still have to get the Expo report done and send it in before the SMDC meeting on the 8th. Wish me luck!


Tags:#xkcd #snow #class #pingdom #downtime #mysql #php #yum #vim