Archive for the 'odd and ends' Category

Google Maps: Superman in Metropolis

Last year, I was visiting my brother and his family in Paducah, KY.  While visiting, I heard that there was a statue of Superman in Metropolis.  Metropolis is just across the river in Illinois, but I decided to check out the Harrah’s Riverboat casino instead of visiting the statue. Thanks to Google Maps, I can see it for the first time.

April Fools Day: Aluminum Foil Cubicle

Well, this year for April Fool’s day, I decided to pull the classic cubicle prank. I (with the help of others) wallpapered a collegue’s cube in aluminum foil.

It’s not like it was an original prank, but I think I wanted to try it once. I honestly do not know how he would react, so I may die tomorrow. At least I’ll die on my terms.


Hey, it's nice and shiny!

Hey, it's nice and shiny!

Personally, it took longer than I expected, too.  It’s hard to get every detail correct without ripping the foil.  The original idea had us wrapping the flat panel monitors, but I thought it may be a fire hazard, so we left them alone. The black on silver provided a good contrast, no?

We are a stickler for detail. Each one of the pens and pencils in that cup are individually wrapped.  Attention to detail is important.  We honestly though that the prank would have sucked if we did not wrap the writing utensils and other items on the desk itself.

Attention to detail is quite important.

Attention to detail is quite important!

Real World Haskell

I received by copy of Real World Haskell yesterday from Amazon.  The book is thicker that I thought, which makes me think that it should have been made a hardcover.  But, I’ll just need to be careful, I guess.  

In the past 24 hours or so, I was able to read up to the fifth chapter on writing a Haskell library.  Even though that I read the draft of the book and seen people make comments, I am surprised that there are a few typographical errors in the few chapters that I read so far.  But, that should not distract anyone.  

It’s not like I have not programmed in Haskell before, but I wanted to see the hype behind this book myself. The book is an interesting read. In fact, I learn something new about the language that I did not know before I seen the book.  Looks like I am going to enjoy this!

News IQ Quiz

Tonight, I took the Pew Research News IQ Quiz. It is a set of 12 questions on current events and people. At the end of the quiz, the site asks you some basic demographic info about you. I was surprised at my results: I apparently had a perfect score.

But what was more interesting was the graphs showing my percentile rank vs. others.

My overall results.

My overall results.

Other than the obvious, my overall results does not show much, in my opinion. There were only 12 questions, so missing one question could prove bring someone down a good percentage. I would think that 50 questions would be better. But given the short attention of the Internet, I think I understand why quiz needed to be short and sweet.

My results by gender.

My results by gender.

The gender results are quite interesting. I am not exactly sure what the percentiles mean relative to my percentile score, but the graph definitely shows that men pay more attention to the news than women. There, I said it. I am sure that there are very smart women in the world, but statistics don’t lie. In America, most women just don’t care about current events.

Take my wife, for example, she buys newspapers for the coupons. She reads comics and the Parade Magazine that is included in the Sunday edition, but that’s about it for the newspaper. On the Internet, she mostly reads are the silly stories that show how stupid people can be (via Digg or Reddit). She is a smart cookie, but I do think she can answer most of the questions on the quiz. I sent her the link to the quiz, so I will see in the next few days,

My results by age group.

My results by age group.

In one aspect, this graph is not surprising. The older you are, the more you know current events. I remember when dad was alive, he read the newspaper a lot. He not only read the newspaper every day, read every single bit of it. Just like my dad, people 50+ like to read the paper or watch the news.

Under the covers, a disturbing fact also shows. The gap between 18-29 and the 30-49 group is huge, which can only mean that people under 30 are living under a rock. With the abundant amount of news available on the Internet, one would think that the most tech savvy group would excel. What can I say? This group is more interested browsing social networking sites that learning current events.

What’s worse? This graph only shows results from people who actually took this test! I think if you were to ask people in the 18-29 group these question on the street, I would imagine most of them will not get half the questions correct. Hey, you can even see evidence of this on The Tonight Show whenever Jay Leno does his Jaywalking segments.

My results by education level.

My results by education level.

The educated reads more than the uneducated, so this graph does not surprise me either. But, like the results by age group, the gap between a high school graduate and a college graduate is huge. What is not clear is why. There are many people who don’t go to the college. Some are educated in a trade skill, which does not count as college by my understanding.

My dad, who I mention earlier, falls into the category. He did not go to any college, but he was a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army and in the radio and television electrician by trade. So, if he were alive today, what would he get on this test? I think that he would have scored well, because of his reading habits. Without that habit, I think he may be close to the 29th percentile.

Taking this test, it occurred to me that key skills to knowledge is the ability to read, the ability to pay attention, and the discipline to care. Without those skills, one become a empty shell of a human with little understanding of the real world. I think it ultimately shapes the personality, the perceptions, the biases, and the fears that make up one self.

Guitar Woes

If you looked at one of my goals at 43 Things, I have been trying to learn to play the guitar again after so many years. I have been weighing some issues that I have been having. I normally label myself as “left-handed”, but people may consider me somewhat ambidextrous. I write, eat and play billiards left-handed, but I throw a ball, bat, golf, and use scissors right-handed. So, when I decided to start playing again, I was not sure whether to buy a left-handed or a right-handed guitar. I was constantly told to use a right-handed guitar because they are common. But when I wrestled the question myself, I went with my instincts. When some tells me to pretend to play, I am always stroking left-handed. So, I bought a left-handed Greg Bennett acoustic.

However, when after practicing for a year or so, I still have problems. I really did not think about it at the time, but my right hand was damaged ten years or so ago. Two of my fingers skimmed into a deli slicer and chunks of my muscle and skin were surgically grafted back on. My fingers are functional and it is noticeably scarred, but I know I can’t do certain things anymore.  I have difficulty forming chords and my fretting seems to be flawed.  It could be a strength or flexibility issue related to injury, but I am not sure what I can do about it.

I am considering switching to a right-handed guitar, but I am afraid to change.  The people at the local Guitar Center suggested that I reverse the strings and play upside-down, but I do not want to damage the guitar by doing it.  So, I want to make sure that this is what I want to do before make such a drastic commitment.

Headhunter Hell

It’s been a long while since I posted anything, so I thought I would write about a topic that’s been itch at my side for a while. Before my holiday break, I was contacted by a recruiter about an opportunity that I may be interested in pursuing. I get maybe two or three emails a week from headhunters, but a call to me at work surprisingly rare. So after about fifteen minutes of general chit-chat, some really basic information about the employer, and touting how he can help me in my pursuit of a better opportunity, he asks me about what I do.

Wait a minute! You want to know what I do? That was a very unusual request. So, I asked him to elaborate. He admitted to me that he did not know what my capabilities and skill sets are. I was quite flabbergasted. The recruiter calls me at work to talk about opportunities, but doesn’t know anything about me.

So, I tell him about my software engineering experience. I started with my present work and move backward in time. All of a sudden, the recruiter interrupts me.

“Have you done any Unix administration?”

“No. I am a software developer. I’ve only done very minimal administration.”, I replied.

“Well, I have this opportunity for a Unix system administrator. Pay in near six-figures.”, he said in a cool, smooth tone.

“But I am not an administrator. I work with software engineering. I create software, not maintain machines.”, I said, rolling my eyes.

“Same difference.”, he exclaimed.

At this point, I determined that this guy has no clue. No matter if I asked if he had software engineering opportunities, he was going to steer me toward the high-paying (and thus high-commission) Unix system administrator position. That’s when I had to tell him that I am not interested in the opportunity.

“Well, I am sorry to hear that. Do you know of any one who may be interested in this position?”

What? You want me to give you a lead to one of my peers after that wonderful display of research and knowledge that you displayed to me? No, thank you. I respectfully declined and ended the phone call.

There were many things so wrong with this conversation. When a recruiter knows nothing about the jobs, nothing about the recruits, and pays attention to his commission rather than finding me the perfect opportunity, that shows utter disrespect to me and the potential employer. I hate to see how many hours are wasted in phone calls, interviews, and paperwork, just to have a series of mismatched recruits get rejected.

So, to all you headhunters out there, I expect you to work for me, too!

Trick or Treat: Here’s A Lollipop!

I Got A Rock!Well, next week is Halloween. This is one of my more favorite days of the year, especially when my son can enjoy trick or treating in the neighborhood this year. I’ve been in my current home for a little over two years now, so I seen a couple of trick or treat nights. One of the most annoying things that bug me about the night is teenagers.

There is a certain age when an adolescent would stop and think that he or she is too old to be going door-to-door for trick or treating, but I am surprised to see that this is not the case. Over the last two years or so, teenagers will come in groups of two or three and expect me to hand them some good candy. Mind you that they are older, stronger, and faster than 4-year old Jenny and her mother, so they swoop in and ask for a boat-load of the good stuff (the chocolate, of course) with greater efficiency. Many of them have no Halloween spirit, do not dress up, or even say a good “trick or treat” to me. Heck, some of them have more facial hair than I do, so that should have been a red flag to me, but I shrugged it off. Last year, by the time the toddlers came by, all I could give them were the Dum-Dum lollipops that were left over. I even tried to control the flow, but it did not happen that way. I sure that the toddlers did not mind the lollipops, but I felt bad that they did not get at least some chocolate!

So, I am going to do something different this year. I will be implementing a simple candy distribution policy. The younger the children, the more chocolate you get. That means if a group of teens comes up, they will get the Dum-Dum lollipops. If they have a good costume, then maybe a little chocolate, but only if they have a good Halloween spirit. Otherwise, here’s your lollipop!