Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It makes me sad...

First, the job is going awesomely well! I have really settled back in quite well and am loving what I am doing. Things on that side are just great!

What is saddening me is Google. I have to say that I have been a Googlephile since Google's inception. I have always loved it and sworn by it and a number of its products. Lately though, I have started to feel like they are concentrating too much on all of their pet products and not the product that started them on their road to greatness..... their search engine.

I have been searching for an article on a particular topic and know what I was looking for as far as the information in the article. I searched Google several different ways and it always came up with the same results. Consistent, yes, but still not producing exactly what I wanted.

I was on my cell phone and in its browser I did a search for what I was looking for and VOILA!!, the result I was looking for. Now, the sad part is that the phones search engine is powered by BING. That is the sad part. That a Micro$oft search engine gave me what I wanted as the first result while Google didn't give it to me at all.

I went back and searched for the exactly same phrasing I did in BING and went through several pages of information, but that result was not there. I guess my question to Google is Why? How is it that a Micro$oft search engine gave me what I needed, but Google couldn't? It couldn't even produce the link in the first several pages of results.

Don't get me wrong, I am not switching to BING. I still have a hatred for Micro$oft and its search engine repulses me, but I am still a bit dumbfounded that my go to couldn't produce the results. I think Google really needs to sit down and rethink how much effort it is putting into its search results processing, otherwise BING is going to steal more of its market away. I hate to say it, but it is inevitably true.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Employment and Some Info

Hello everyone!  I know that it has been a while since I have posted, but my state of mind caused by my lack of employment and almost losing our house played quite the part in my lack of posting.  Until recently, I didn't have anything new to post about and the last thing that I wanted to do was to write and complain about being unemployed and unable to find a job.  That would just bore everyone and drive you away. 

So, without further ado, I AM EMPLOYED AGAIN!!!   After seven months of daily job searching every single job site that I could get my browser to display, I am finally working again and earning $$$.   The best part is that I have been re-hired by and am happily working again at JP Morgan Chase.  I was originally there from December 2000 to May of 2007, when I left to break into the world of being a developer.  While that venture afforded me a world of experience in 2 1/2 years, I found over the last two months that far too many employers are now valuing a degree over actual experience, regardless of whether the person with the degree is completely inexperienced and needs a ton of hand holding.

Well, I say their loss!!!  I am back at a place that I can and do consider home.  I know most of the people at the site where I am, not to mention a plethora of people around the world.  This time though, instead of implementing clients on the system that I helped build up, I am supporting them in a Production support role.  To tell you the truth, I don't at all mind being in a support role.  I know the products and am picking up quickly what is new since I left.  Plus, I just simply love being there.  I am so very thankful that they took me back.  Must say thought that re-instating me as a bank officer again AND re-instating all of my previous accrued time is also a HUGE bonus. 

On another note, I am still continuing my developer self, but for myself, at home this time.  In my first week at work, I have already come across a few different things that I can work on development wise to help those I work with and am hoping that I can have something working in each instance soon. 

I also dug out a book that I have called Pro Perl Parsing and have started thumbing through it.  At first glance, I wish I had picked this hard covered beauty up earlier as it is enlightening me into solutions for some issues I have encountered recently and also in the past.

Once I really start playing around with its contents I am sure I will be posting more here.  But, in case I don't (probably due to being engrossed in the book), do feel free to get a copy for yourself.  I am already seeing it as a valuable addition to my geek library. 

Any who, that's all for this episode.  Till next time....

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Catching up

I must say that this business of being unemployed (about 4 1/2 months now), has certainly taken a toll on my mental state. I am one of those people who likes working and being I work in a field I love, I generally love my job.

Unfortunately, being unemployed and in a job market that is not exactly condusive to becoming employed again does not do well for ones level of depression. Its not like I haven't had interviews, I have. One of the first interviews I had after becoming unemployed (I think it WAS the first one), was a wonderful experience. I was comfortable in the interview, which is unusual for me as I am not a good interviewee. I tend to get nervous and even though I know my stuff, I tend to freeze because I really want the job. Yes, I did slip up a question, but I got a good vibe from the interviewer. That person, by the way, was the reason for my bit of comfort. He wasn't overly intimidating and that was a relief, plus we had similar backgrounds on some things. Unfortunately that job fell through when the company pulled all Contractor funding. I still have hopes that that will change in the near future and that they will hire on new people as I am still interested.

I had another interview down in Boston at a company that did a lot with SMS. One of their large clients that they run the sms voting application for happens to be American Idol. Well, I went to the interview and all seemed to go ok. I did not get any vibe from either of my interviewers though, so I wasn't sure what to think. A couple of days later I heard that they decided to go with another candidate that had more years experience. Again, back to the job hunting grindstone.

Now I sit here and am going through a butt load of CBT's, learning some new topics. In particular, I am going through CBT's to pick up C#. No, I have never been a .Net coder as I made that decision back in college. It isn't because of my Pro-Linux side either, its valid reason(s). If you want to know, ask me some time, but believe me, it was valid.

Anywho, I am currently going through that training. Also in the CBT's that I have access to is a bunch of Java as well, which I will try and get through to boot. Training is good and it certainly can't hurt.

I just hope that something happens soon. The school year is about to start and we have cars needing work. One of them runs fine (mine), but needs inspection next month and also a minor fix. My wife's, well that is another story. Hopefully the new battery we just bought will fix things. If not, it could get ugly as we'll have to sideline it till I am employed again.

Oh, I know, this is my geek blog and what am I doing venting about life? Well, right now, this is what I have going on. Sorry! I promise a return to the geekiness, but had to get this out of my system. Don't be surprised if this venting stuff happens again. :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Wireless Printing - SUCCESS!!!

Up until today, the only printer we have is attached to my wife's Windows XP machine via its USB cable. If I wanted to print a document, which isn't all that often of a need here at home, I would just email the file to her and print it after saving it on her machine. That was a bit tedious, especially when she is on the computer and doing her thing. I don't really like to be a bother and disturb her.

Both of our machines are on the home wireless network and being a network, I wondered how difficult it would be to set up to print, wireless, to the printer attached to her machine. After doing a quick search on Google and a short bit or reading I did the following:

1. Set up file and printer sharing on the Windows XP machine. This was quite easy and walking through their wizard is recommended. Make sure that you have set up the following pieces of information:

Machine Name
Workgroup (I changed this from the default)

2. After setting up the sharing, I went to the specific printers settings and turned on its sharing. Make sure that you give the printer a name as you will need it.

3. I am using Ubuntu 9.04 so I went to System->Printing. Click on New. Once you do that, it will try and find machines. In the next box, I clicked on the Network Printer drop down and selected "Windows Printer via SAMBA".

In the options that appear to the right, you will need to enter the smb address in the following format:


After that, if you have authentication setup, you will need to enter it. I didn't, so I just hit verify and it said it found the printer and it was shared. Jackpot, so far so good. Next, click Forward.

4. Now is the search for drivers. You can do this blindly or be smart about it and do what I did. I have a Brother printer and the options you are provided at the top for selecting your printer are:

a. Select printer from database
b. Provide PPD file
c. Search for a printer driver to download

I figured I would search Google for a ppd file, so I entered the following into a Google search: brother dcp-7020 ppd file

Low and behold, the first link in the search was for the OpenPrinting Database. They basically told me all they knew about my printer and notes it had on it. The best piece though, was it told me which driver was recommended. So, I went to the Choose Driver screen, chose Brother and then Forward and on the next page selected the driver it recommended.

Wouldn't you know but it worked PERFECTLY!!! Isn't Linux just beautiful? :) I think (and know) so.

I hope this helps you setup your printer, wireless, on your own home network. I definitely see the value in print servers and network based printers, don't get me wrong, but when you are unemployed as I am and have no $$$, its awesome to be able to do what you need to, for free.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Chrome for Linux released...... finally!

I was browsing around when I noticed that a friend of mine posted a link in his Facebook status. I was happily pleased to find that it was a link to a story that said a version of Google Chrome was now available for Linux (and Mac as well, but I am working on the later).

I did some link following and eventually found the page where you can download the software. I now have it installed and am starting to again use it.

Its true that Google Chrome does lack the plug-ins that Firefox does, but the speed of it and its clean nature tend to be a bit inviting. Plus, I love typing a search in the URL bar and having it search Google without having to go there. I know that Firefox has a search bar, but its just another plus in my book.

So, enjoy. I am.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Converting the chm files

While I am sure that chm files have their use in the Windows world (as help files), I do not find them all that useful on the Linux side.  That said, I decided to go about converting some chm files that I have acquired into pdf files, which is a more acceptable format if you ask me.

To do that, you are going to have to install "chm2pdf".  I am working on Ubuntu 8.10 and it is a pretty simple install.  As root, execute the following:

apt-get install chm2pdf

After that finishes, you will now be able to convert the files you have.  It took me a little playing with the program to learn how to use it, but it wasn't all that bad.  The manual page gives the options, but you have to run it once to see what is really required.

Here is the command that I used to convert my chm files to pdf:

chm2pdf --webpage -f file.pdf file.chm

The "-f" option allows you to supply the output name.  Feel free to play with the command, but this is what worked for me.  Happy converting!

Friday, April 17, 2009

A twitter a day...

I don't know about the rest of you, but I have really become a bit addicted to twitter.  I have found a bunch of interesting people to follow with posts that usually pretty good. 

With all of the people that I am following, the posts that come in get scrolled off the screen on the twitter site pretty fast. I did some looking around for a twitter client that would allow me more flexibility in my twitting.  Well, I found one and it is called TweetDeck.

TweetDeck, by default contains three colums:

  • All Friends  ->  This column contains the normal feeds you would see when visiting your twitter home page.  The difference is that there is a scroll bar and it is configurable as to how many posts you can see back at one time.  That bode well with me. 
  • Replies  ->  When you make a post specifically at someone, and they reply to you, this is where the reply will show up so that you don't have to worry about trying to find it in the "All Friends" feed. 
  • Direct Messages  ->  When someone messages you directly, this is the column you will see it in.
At the top of the interface is where you will see the box you can type your status messages and replies into.  Right under there though, is a "shorten url" line.  This is very nice so you don't have to go to an external site, like tinyurl or any others, in order to get a shorter link to the site you are referencing.

What was a bit weird though was when visiting the TweetDeck site to download the software, the "Download now, its free" link did not work.  I am running Ubuntu 8.10 and usually don't have that issue, so I was a bit weirded by that.  But, do not fret, under the screenshot on the page is a link titled "version 0.25".  Clicking that link will download the software.  (Yes, that link is the link to the software.)

WARNING:  The software is built with Adobe Air.  So, if you do not have Adobe Air installed, you will need to first obtain and install it.  Then, once Adobe Air is installed, it has its own program for installing the file you downloaded.  One warning though, if you are like me and running Linux, be sure to run Adobe Air program installer as root, or with sudo, otherwise you will not be able to install the software.  Just a bit of info to fend off any hairpulling that might cause. 

So, even though the software is still only in Beta version AND this is still my first 24 hours running it, I must say I am already a fan. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


My last post here was back in January of this year.  I had figured out (with the help of a Google search) how to combine multiple pdf files into one, gigantic file.  That was right around when things started to get insanely busy at the job I was working at.  It may have been insane, but I really liked what i was doing.

Yes, I am talking in the past tense.  On March 10th, the company did its third round of layoffs and my job was one of the positions that was eliminated.  I still remember the day.  I was continuing work on a bug that had been assigned to me through the Bugzilla software that they use.  I had a pretty good idea of what the issue is and how to fix it, and had started to code to fix it.  Then I got an email from my boss around 9:26, saying that he wanted to have a quick status meeting in a conference room in 4 minutse (at 9:30). 

I didn't think much of it since he was always busy with stuff and getting something like a status update out of the way was nothing new.  The room he specified was occupied with a bunch of overwhelmingly loud folks, so I went to the room around the corner.  I dialed in to his conference line and he was waiting for me.  He wasted no time and told me that my job had been eliminated.  He appologized, saying he didn't have much choice as he was pressured to release somone after having everyone survive the previous two layoffs. 

After he had told me the news there was a knock on the door and a lady entered with some stuff in her hands.  It was my separation package and paperwork that I needed to sign.  My boss said goodbye and she took over the meeting.  After signing everything she informed me that I needed to pack up and be out of the building asap.  Granted, they trust their employees enough that they didn't post a guard over me or anything (no like it was needed, I am not stupid and don't burn my bridges), but man was she to the point. 

It took me about 2 1/2 hours to clean out everything and get packed up.  I did my rounds to say goodbye to everyone and an email was even sent out by my colleague to let people know.  That is when they started to come over more frequently to bid their farewells and say they were sorry for the situation.

I worked with a great bunch of very knowledgeable people and I consider myself lucky to have been there, but considering the current job market, I really wish things had gone differently.  Heck, I would have truly considered a pay cut if it meant keeping my job versus being in my unemployed state as I am right now. 

I have been actively looking for a job for just over a month now.  I have my resume out to tons of places, but unfortunately, no bites yet.  While I was at Sonus, I really started working with PHP a lot during the last few months and I started to really like it.  So, after being released, I started really picking it up more.  In addition, I have begun really concentrating on the Drupal CMS (Content Management System) for my web development.  Its a wonderful system and being PHP based, its not too very difficult to extend with your own modules.  

Anywho, that is where things stand, and now you know..... the rest of the story.  (RIP Paul Harvey!  1918-2009)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Easy way to combine pdf files

Don't you just love it when you find a good tutorial on something and instead of having 1 pdf file that contains everything, you find that each chapter has its own pdf file.  Its more of a pain to have several or more files than one big file.  

For instance, I am currently reading "How to think like a computer scientist", which is an excellent introduction into the world of Python programming.  This book, by the way is the textbook used for the MIT open courseware course "A Gentle Introduction to Programming Using Python".  The book is fabulous, but after downloading the material from MIT, I found that it contained PDF files of the books chapters, but not one with everything (which in my opinion would have been a lot more helpful). 

But, not to fret if you are using Linux (which I am, Ubuntu to be precise), as there is a program called Ghostscript which will make combining the files MUCH easier than going out and purchasing Adobe Acrobat (no need, believe me).

I had stumbled across this method on this website, which gave a very good overview of using ghostscript to combine a bunch of pdf files into one big pdf file. 

So, I set about to combine the 13 pdfs into one.  The following command was what I issued:

        gs -dBATCH -dNOPAUSE -q -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=httlacs.pdf ch01.pdf ch02.pdf ... ch13.pdf

In this command the "..." symbolizes all of the files I listed.  Now please know that you have to list the files in the order that you want them combined.  The program will start at the first file on the left (ch01.pdf) and work through the list to the end (ch13.pdf).  When the command is done running (it took a couple of minutes to complete) I had a nice PDF by the name of httlacs.pdf that contained the entirety of the book.  Very nice and very easy if you ask me.

Hope this helps you!
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