Archive for June, 2009

No More Vegan Diet

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

I lasted from Monday through Friday last week on my vegan diet. ¬†I don’t know how vegans do it–I really missed the taste, texture, and flavor of animal products. ¬†My reward was a juicy filet mignon from Houstons, and a loaded baked potato, complete with butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon. ¬†Delicious.

The Vegan Experiment

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Well, because I had nothing else to experiment about, I decided to try a little something… ¬†I’m going to “go Vegan” for a week or two.

My null hypothesis is that I’ll have more energy and feel more balanced. ¬†I’ll keep you posted as to how it’s going.

I started today–should be interesting!

RAID Rocks

Friday, June 12th, 2009

A RAID is an abbreviation for “Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks” or “Redundant Array of Independent Disks”. ¬†They come in a few different configurations, and can be extremely useful, depending on your use. ¬†I’m blogging about it today because a RAID saved my dad a ton of work, and a RAID could save you, too.

Most desktop computers have only one hard disk drive, or HDD. ¬†(Don’t confuse the hard disk drive with the CPU, or the computer case itself.) ¬†An HDD is about 4″ wide, 1″ tall, and 5.75″ long, and is generally inside the computer case. ¬†This is where everything on your computer is stored, from the operating system (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, etc), your programs (Microsoft Office, Photoshop, your internet browser), and your documents. ¬†Generally speaking, HDDs, especially in desktops, are pretty reliable. ¬†Every once in a while, though, one fails. ¬†If you only have one hard drive, and you haven’t made backups, you are up a creek. ¬†You might lose your data.

So RAIDs give you a way to prevent total failure if you lose a hard drive. ¬†There are seven types of RAIDs, the most common being RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 5. ¬†RAID 0 is actually NOT technically a RAID because it distributes your information across two drives. ¬†If you lose one drive, you lose half your data, and you’re screwed.

RAID 1 is a mirrored configuration; all the hard drives in the array have the same information.  If you lose a drive, you simply replace it while the other one(s) contain your information.  The problem is, you have two hard drives with the space of one.

RAID 5 is pretty neat; you only lose one hard drive of space across your configuration. ¬†(If you have 3 drives, you have the space of 2. ¬†4 drives, the space of 3. ¬†5 drives, the space of 4, etc). ¬†If you lose a drive, the RAID rebuilds your information based on parity data it stores on the other drives. ¬†(Just hope you don’t lose more than one drive at a time!!)

My dad had a RAID 1. ¬†So when he told me he was getting the “drive failed” message, we just put a new drive in, and it reconstituted itself from the other drive. ¬†The swapping process took 2 minutes, the interacting with the software took another minute or so, and rebuilding took about 40 minutes. ¬†Not bad.

Make sure you use a backup, or have a RAID, or both.  It could save you.

Goodbye, Bank of America

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

I’m sorry, Bank of America, but you’ve worn out your welcome. ¬†When you make changes to account policy without telling me, fee me based upon that change based upon an event that proceeded the policy change, then claim you notified me and refuse to refund the fee, you’re toast. ¬†I can’t trust you anymore.

More importantly, BofA, if I may call you that, you’ve made a poor decision. ¬†In an economic downturn, which we are obviously experiencing, you shouldn’t be raising the minimum account balance 50%, and increasing the fee when a balance falls below that. ¬†It’s just not right. ¬†I remind myself that I as a taxpayer have given you $15 billion dollars to help you with your poor decisions, and yet you’re not giving out more loans, you’re charging your customers more, and you’re letting your customer service slip.

I’m sorry, BofA, it’s just not working out. ¬†I’ve found someone else, and they’re happy to have my account no matter how much I give them.

SEO: Search Engine Optimization

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, has jumped considerably in popularity over the last year or so.  Many more people have websites that do the same thing as others, and as a result, when someone searches for a keyword, tons of results are returned, many of which are not necessarily applicable, or not YOUR company.

Enter SEO. ¬†It tries to increase your site’s spot on the web so that more people see you faster. ¬†If you Google search for “sourcejockey”, this site shows up at the top of the list. ¬†In fact, the name Sourcejockey is so unique, that most of the search results are me. ¬†Pretty cool. ¬†But if I search for “Adam Weiss Blog”, I’m not visible until the fourth page, and it’s not even this web site, it’s my Friendster profile.

Now, I don’t really care that this site, my personal blog, doesn’t show up on Google immediately. ¬†There’s no need for it to. ¬†But companies out there DO want their pages to be visible. ¬†An attorney practicing immigration law wants to show up near the top.

So SEO is designed to “hack” the search system, to make the result show up higher. ¬†Here’s how it’s supposed to work–and why it doesn’t. ¬†I’ll take the focus of Google, the company with the largest search volume. ¬†Mind you, their algorithm is proprietary, but this is pretty much the system as I’ve come to understand it:

Back when Google started, it was simply a spider–it would roam the web, looking for links. ¬†It would then follow these links, storing the words from the pages it came across. ¬†When you searched for “attorney”, it would find pages with the word “attorney” on it, including the meta-tags–keywords hidden within the web site to help search engines categorize content. ¬†Well, something interesting happened. ¬†People would start to add irrelevant keywords to their web sites to bring in more traffic. ¬†As a response, Google began to focus more on content. ¬†But people began to add more irrelevant words there. ¬†So they counted the number of times a word was present on the page. ¬†The SEO guys figured that out, and simply added keywords multiple times.

So Google took a different approach–they increased the weight of a website based on how many pages link to it, the idea being that the more people link to a site, the more relevant it must be. ¬†Well, as cool as an idea this is, more and more sites accept comments from anonymous users–and nefarious users began adding spam comments that link to their own sites. ¬†Google geniuses got that, and began a system of figuring out what web sites are legit and which ones aren’t.

Where we are right now is that¬†SEO firms now charge an arm and a leg to produce “real” content that link to their client’s web sites. ¬†It’s more difficult to determine who’s legit! ¬†Either way, the method will probably not last. ¬†Google and the other search engines will catch up, then SEO will figure something else out. ¬†Really, this is a great opportunity for the search engines to just go nuts and charge people to have higher organic listings.

The Art of Shaving

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Yes, the art of shaving is a store, however that’s not what I’m talking about here. ¬†I’ve gone through several methods of shaving, each of which has had its advantages and disadvantages. ¬†When I was in high school, with the need to shave once a week, I had a cool Norelco electric razor that did the job pretty well. ¬†As I had to shave more often, and then went to college, I switched to the more manly (and far better marketed) Mach 3. ¬†I used this for years, with occasional tries of other “better” electrics, but always returning to the good-ol’ blades. ¬†The problem was that the Mach 3 left me looking like I didn’t really shave completely. ¬†So I tried out a straight razor–you know, the kind that looks like if you slip, you’ll slice your throat. ¬†Fortunately, I didn’t ever get more than a few minor cuts, but as I used the blade, for some reason (no, it wasn’t dull), it started to nick me–badly. ¬†I’d end up with multiple cuts all over my face, and I didn’t want to deal with that. ¬†So back to the Mach 3.

Well, this weekend, I bought an old-school disposable razor. ¬†The kind that has a handle, but disposable blades (not cartridges). ¬†So far, so good–I’m getting that close shave without the cuts. ¬†That, and a pack of 10 blades costs $7; as opposed to a pack of 4¬†cartridges¬†costing $8. ¬†Woohoo!

Goodbye, General Motors.

Monday, June 1st, 2009

General Motors has finally declared Bankruptcy, and quite frankly, it’s about time.

While I may be talking about GM here, the same goes for all American car manufacturers: when you focus on ego, you’re not going to come up a winner.

According to the Washington Post, executives at GM spent most of their time attempting to get market share, then focus on its BIG money-maker, auto finance.

It shows.  Or showed.

I’ve seen my fair share of classic General Motors vehicles; Buicks, Chevrolets, and¬†Cadillacs, for the most part, and it’s amazing to see how much a company can change. ¬†Sure, automotive design cannot reproduce the classics, given aerodynamics and weight, but it would be nice to see some kind of dedication to something new and inspiring.

Just the overall quality on the American cars is just atrocious. ¬†Sure, it might last a while (or not), but it doesn’t even look good. ¬†I really want to know what the GM executives will drive after they leave GM. ¬†I’ll bet they won’t be American made.

I hope that in the wake of all these closings, we see newer, younger car companies that reflect the optimism of car companies from the 1900-1950 era. ¬†Companies that didn’t know what couldn’t be done–and got it done anyway.

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