Resolution Progress 2012: End

Today is the last day of the year, so where am I with those 2012 goals?

  1. Reading goals should be at 100%:
    1. Complete unfinished novel series. 23.1 of 28 done or 82.5%. So I missed.
    2. American History and Decision Making. 10 of 10 done or 100%. So done.
    3. Science. 13 of 13 done or 100%. So done.
    4. Read 50 books. I have read 54 of 50 or 108%. So done.
  2. Publish an average of four blog posts a week. This post makes 143 of 208. That is 69%. So I missed by a long shot.

I guess three of four on the reading goals is not bad. The Book of the Malazan series page-wise is about a long as Harry Potter twice over and only counts as 9 books. Over the year I only got through five of them. The Wicked series was so terrible, I just could not bring myself to finish.

Back in the first quarter on blogging, I was a bit ahead. Then life happened. A death in family was the first interruption. Then my brain became overwhelmed with work. Organizing my thoughts enough to blog became difficult.

Looking at the blog’s stats, I was getting way more traffic in the beginning of the year with three 600+ pageview pages in January. Here in December, none peaked over 150 pageviews. Maybe if I post more and comment more on others, then I can boost traffic?

Collected Quotes November/December 2012

My main page on quotes is Quotes to Make You Think. Additional ones can be found under the Quotes tag.

If you can’t be seven feet tall, be seven feet smart. — Lois McMaster Bujold

A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition. — Henry Miller

Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying. — Arthur C. Clarke

None of us really changes over time. We only become more fully what we are. ― Anne RiceThe Vampire Lestat

Inconsistent Experiences

Lately I have been thinking about getting a new TV. An important vacuum I would like to fill is accessing content on the Internet through it. The want is mostly filled by my Wii, but the device is in a physical location that makes playing games inconvenient because of the limited space. So my idea is to move it to another room on the TV there and get another device just for watching content.

One option is a Roku or equivalent. A friend has a Roku I have used, but I found it cludgy to use compared to my Wii. It required frequent pauses and a reset to correctly behave. Overall, I was underwhelmed by the Roku. Another friend insisted these devices were the way to go, so I bought Netgear’s neoTV. It was cheap and reflects that price. More on it later.

The friend with a Roku Bought a TV with Internet apps. My experience with it has been very positive, so until I was talked ought of it, the way I thought I should go. I may be back to thinking that way.

At Mom’s house for Christmas, I played with her Bluray player which also has Internet apps.

The common app between all five devices (Wii, Roku, neoTV, smart TV, Bluray) and even my tablet Is Netflix. Somewhat surprising is the lack of consistency between these. The user interfaces look like using different services.

For the uninitiated, Netflix has a Watch Instantly feature that allows for the playing of movies and television shows over the Internet. The basic functionality is consistent. A queue of the shows I want to watch are presented to me. Suggestion categories are peer to the queue. Hit play to see the show. Pause, fast forward, rewind.

Each has quirks to their navigation. Like the Bluray goes to the queue and getting to suggestions requires up button to a tab and side arrow to find the category. Others are vertical scroll.

Some group all actions for a show in a list. Others have items off to the side or way above where not intuitive.

The neoTV has a neat feature when a show ends, it automatically plays the next after a 20 second delay. That was exciting and something I hope shows up on other devices. The others at least queue up the next episode. Though, when can be variable. On the Wii, neoTV, smart TV, and tablet I can stop around the credits and the next episode shows up ready to play. With the Bluray, that only happens if the show ends.

It surprises me there is not better user experience design so all of these approach behave the same way. Having two and soon three devices that navigate differently will get quickly very annoying.

Log In With Facebook

High Traffic Area Lately I have come to appreciate web sites that let me visit without connecting to Facebook. The sites asking me to connect use the same technology for the extremely annoying advertisements that disable doing anything on the web site until I figure out how to close it. Or lately, this technology is used to make me download the app. Maybe if they were more subtle?

The places I want my friends to follow my online activity outside of Facebook are Flickr and Goodreads. I enjoy talking about books and photography, so those drifting into Facebook has been a positive thing.

I really do not want other people knowing what political news I am reading. I tend to read both conservative and liberal viewpoints. Back in college, I definitely would have appreciated people challenging my views so that I could turn their arguments against them. Now days, I just want to consume in peace and make up my own mind. Well, there are a few people I don’t mind the discussions, but I know them well enough to almost anticipate what they are going write before they do so.

Maybe if a science news site asked, then I would not mind. That is something I would not mind giving more exposure by posting on my behalf that I intended to read.

Automated Testing

On a call today, our new vendor asked that we verify every web site works before having them apply service packs. Our analyst said, “We can do that.” I pointed out the problem causing the present concern happened one in ten times on one site on one server of the instance. Therefore to catch it, they would need 10 views of the login page for 30 servers for each of 18 sites. That is 5,400 page views.

The conundrum came up because when the service pack was applied to test, some sites on one server failed this check. Over time they cleared and returned. We have monitoring in place to check a single site on each server works with a login and logout. This check is super-sensitive to changes. Originally this check was on a functional evaluation site, but it broke every other week because someone changed a color, icon, etc. That was with 7. With 111, we would go mad.

Clearly, I am going to have to develop automated testing to verify sites on each of their servers before and after server pack application. Too bad the vendor does not make sure everything works after they make changes to our systems.

Collected Quotes September/October 2012

My main page on quotes is Quotes to Make You Think. Additional ones can be found under the Quotes tag.

I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I have read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I have loved; all the cities I have visited. — Jorge Luis Borges

“All people are insane. They will do anything at any time, and God help anybody who looks for reasons.” — Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another. — Toni Morrison

If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure. — James Madison (attributed), The Federalist No. 51

Weird behavior is natural in smart children, like curiosity is to a kitten. ― Hunter S. Thompson, Kingdom of Fear

Thanks to people who posted quotes like Ben.

Sneaky Search Engine

I use Google search from my Chrome omnibox quite a bit. One of my favorite searches is “define <term>”.

Somehow my “define” got hijacked so that when I typed it, Chrome switched to a search of Fortunately, I knew this probably would be Chrome’s settings for Search Engines (top right wrench or three horizontal lines > Settings > Show advanced link > Manage Search Engines).

Scroll down to the bottom of the search engine list and click the X next to This removes it as a search option.

Basically, Chrome collects search engines from the sites I visit. If you enter the keyword for the search engine, then the omnibox searches that site instead of Google. So sneaky.