Monday, July 30, 2007

Tickets for Wizard World 2007 in Chicago

Just got my tickets for me and the nephews to go to Wizard World 2007 in Chicago on August 9th-12th.

We went last year and had a blast. The best part is the costumes. Behold some of last year's greats:
Supergirl (with Streaky!) and Wonder GirlPikachuElle Driver from Kill Bill (maybe), (?), Mega Man and Marvel Girl
Supergirl (with Streaky!) and Wonder GirlPikachuElle Driver from Kill Bill (maybe), (?), Mega Man and Marvel Girl
Boba FettCaptain Jack SparrowRogue
Boba FettCaptain Jack SparrowRogue
Fire alchemist and full metal alchemistCobra CommanderImperial Stormtrooper, Darth Vader and Hermione
Fire alchemist and full metal alchemistCobra CommanderImperial Stormtrooper, Darth Vader and Hermione
MystiqueSpider-Man frontSpider-Man back
MystiqueSpider-Man frontSpider-Man back
Marvel GirlSuperman and Wonder WomanPredator v Chronicles of Riddick
Marvel GirlSuperman and Wonder WomanPredator v Chronicles of Riddick
Gretel, Shin-chan and GoldilocksSupergirl and Spider-Man 
Gretel, Shin-chan and GoldilocksSupergirl and Spider-Man 

Update: Thanks to LordApophis for correctly identifying characters from the Chronicles of Riddick, Full Metal Alchemist and Mega Man.

Update #2: When I attended the 2007 convention I met and was able to identify the two woman posing with Shin-chan: Gretel and Goldilocks from Zenescope's "Grimm Fairy Tales".

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Banjo blogging

Things I learned at banjo lesson numbah two:
  • I need to relax my left hand; I'm holding it like a claw.
  • I don't have enough motion in my right hand.
  • I should play slowly in order to keep the flow going. Otherwise, I'm likely to rush through, then pause, then find the chord, then rush... Rush-pause-chord-rush-pause-chord is bad.
  • Three new chords: G7, A7 and Em. That's six!
  • I've been tuning my banjo by ear and it's in excellent tune! I must have a good ear. (Thanks, Dad!)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bully can't sleep

Bully's latest series on falling asleep in anticipation of HP&tDH is yet another reason to love that little stuffed bull:
John has looked up from watching Flight of the Conchords and said to me "I thought you were going to bed early tonight, Bully." I fixed him with my very stern stare and said "I am already in bed but simply taking a short break from sleeping," and then trotted back quickly with my laptop under my arm, just in case there is some breaking HP-early release news.

I am now going to totally go to sleep. When I wake up it will be morning and time to go to get Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Goodnight, everyone! Sweet dreams! I shall be dreaming of Quidditch and Cho Chang myself.

Goto considered harmful, the comic

considered has a comic strip update to Edsger Dijkstra's 1968 classic "Go To Statement Considered Harmful".

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter release party at Women & Children First

The Women & Children First bookstore put on a great release party for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Some pix:

Added bonus: Pix from the 2005 party for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bugling banjos

I just stumbled upon a realization: I can do bugle calls on my banjo.

At my first banjo lesson on Wednesday, my banjo instructor tuned my 5-string banjo to the most common tuning: open G tuning (gDGBd). At the end of the lesson he gave me some homework to do, including some finger work.

As I was doing some random fingering this morning I discovered that I could play Reveille with just my right hand. Then I tried a couple of other bugle calls and found that I could do them, too.

Makes sense, really. An open G banjo has the same harmonics as the military bugle, which is pitched to G. I'm not the first person to figure this out, of course -- witness Bugle Call Rag, written by Pettis and Meyers in 1922. But I'm still pleased that I figured it out on my own.

So here are some of my new fingering exercises from Wikipedia's bugle call page:



First Call


Mess Call


P-meter, day 19

Thursday, July 19, 2007

P-meter, day 18

Whew. That was a lot of fun. The first six Harry Potter books in 18 days. OK, except for the last chapter, which I'm going to leave until the morning because that feels like the right way to read it.

I'm really glad that I've been charting my progress. I was able to make slow and steady progress without feeling unduly rushed. Also, I knew to kick it up a notch when I was falling behind. Now I'm ready for tomorrow's midnight run to Women & Children First for our copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Good idea for conference evaluation forms

My business partner Don writes to tell me about a good use for SharePoint:
Now here’s a cool feature Microsoft implemented in their conference SharePoint communication site. Instead of passing out paper evaluation forms, your badge (a proximity card) is scanned when you enter a session. When you get back to your hotel and log onto the conference site, there is a list of online evaluation forms just for the sessions you attended and have not yet filled out an evaluation form.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

P-meter, day 17

Almost there.

Banjo blogging

I had my first banjo lesson today at Flatts & Sharpe. Things I learned:
  • Easy tablature.
  • Seeger's boom-titty-boom. (Wikipedia says: "Pete Seeger popularised a folk style by combining clawhammer with 'up picking' without the use of fingerpicks.")
  • Three chords: G, C and D7. More to come!

No Deathly Hallows spoilers

I created a handy sign that you can post on your office door to let people know they've entered a Deathly-Hallows-spoiler-free zone.

Cliff's Notes for a Team System Install

One of AgileTek's tech leads just pointed me to Cliff's Notes for a Team System Install. He describes it as a "short and sweet" alternative to Microsoft's full-blown installation instructions and says, "I wish I had had them before I started the install."

Using Subversion clients with Team Foundation Server

Brian Harry tells us about SvnBridge, a server bridge that allows Subversion clients to connect to TFS.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

P-meter, day 14

I had to take some painful shocks to get here, but I've managed to get 178 pages ahead of schedule. Yea!


Ow!Ow!Ow!Ow!Ow! A dispatch from the world of unexpected pain.

I was listening to an audio book (yes, Order of the Phoenix) on my personal CD player while doing household chores. As I yanked the sheets off the bed I felt a painful, crackling, stabbing sensation in both ears at once.

Apparently the sheets' discharge of static electricity decided to fork its way up the cords, through both earpieces and into my ears to conclude its journey in the center of my brain.

Friday, July 13, 2007

P-meter, day 12

Project sluts getting all the attention

The Business of Software interview with Tim Lister is getting lots of attention because of Lister's provocative term "project sluts." That's one of many project patterns that Lister and friends will be describing in their upcoming book, tentatively titled Project Patterns: From Adrenalin Junkies to Template Zombies.

Project sluts are teams that can't say no; the Ado Annie of software.

But I think several of his other project patterns are noteworthy, like seasons for change and -- surely to be one of my favorites -- testing before testing.

P-meter, day 11 at the doctor

The plus side of waiting in a doctor's office is that you can catch up on reading.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

P-meter, day 10

It's the mid-point of the P-meter, nine days from the beginning of this exercise and nine days from the end. I've reread 1,382 of the 3,341 pages that make up the first six Harry Potter books: 41%.

At this pace I'll have finished book 5 by the time book 7 comes out on the 21st.

Better kick it up a notch.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

P-meter, day 9

Almost halfway through the time and somewhat-less-almost halfway through the pages.

Monday, July 9, 2007

P-meter, day 8

BARcamp, juggling and Java

It's been two busy weeks, but I'm finally organizing my notes from BARcamp Chicago.

I met Erik Costlow because he saw me juggling and, after we did a couple of partner juggling tricks (he's much better than I am), we got to talking and discovered that we were both alumni of Gamma Phi Circus.

Erik recommended several Eclipse plug-ins that sound pretty good:

Format On Saveautoupdate
Groovy IDEautoupdate
Spring IDEautoupdate
Subclipse 1.2.x (Eclipse 3.2+)autoupdate
Eclipse WTP (the eclipse plugin manager will resolve your dependencies)???
Ivy - Java dependency manager - resolved the jars in your project through ibiblioinfo
Eclipse IvyDEautoupdate
JodaTime jarsinfo

Erik also recommends the Java Posse podcast and the Crypto-Gram Security Podcast.


I almost hate to point this out to people because it looks like a great product with a shoddy website, but I really like the looks of OpenMoko.

Perhaps the site is just getting hammered because of the OpenMoko's mentions on Boing Boing and on Slashdot.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Saturday, July 7, 2007

P-meter slips!

Time is gaining ground on my reading.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

P-meter, day 4

10 pages ahead of schedule. Wooo!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

P-meter, day 3

Happy 4th of July, all. Spent the day doing household things and advancing the P-meter.

Only 62 pages behind schedule.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

P-meter, day 2

I've decided to reread the first six Harry Potter books before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows comes out on July 21st.

Charting my progress:

I've got a lot of reading to do.