Peace For All

June 30, 2006

Treating Your Acne: Part 0 – My Personal History

Filed under: acne, health — Devlin Bentley @ 11:46 am

Welcome to the prequel in my series on how to treat your acne. I am writting this so as the break up the initial article, which I gathered is a bit too long.

I have had acne since I was 13. It was not the worst acne, but it was pretty bad, eventually spreading to the point that I had white heads going down my back. I had tried a number of products over the years, including prescription products. I am going to talk about topical and prescription treatments in a separate post, but suffice to say, even with a combination of pills and topical treatments, I was still having sporadic breakouts.

Eventually, I found a reliable treatment in the form of Proactive Solution, which works for many people. I had tried various prescription formulas to not success, and I had also tried a pill treatment, minocycline.

Even after I had found a reliable topical treatment, I would still have seemingly random breakouts. One time I had been free of acne for almost 4 months, then I had a serious breakout. No increase in my stress level had occured to cause these breakouts, and the breakouts were rather surprising to my friends and to myself. How I went about discovering the final treatment that was needed for my Acne is the topic of Part 1.

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June 29, 2006

Myspace.com makes a person 10x less interesting

Filed under: Life in general — Devlin Bentley @ 9:22 am

At the Intern meet and greet there was this cute girl from Western, so I go and acquire some info about her online.

She ends up being 1/10th as interesting now.

Anybody who calls them self an “evil genius” but lists “body surfing” amongst their favorite hobbies does not know what an “evil genius” truly is.

A real evil genius would surf on top of bodies.

Oh that and she lists “The DaVinci Code” as her favorite book, and all new popular movies under her favorite movies category.

Ick!  Read something besides what pop culture tells you to folks, though I should be thankful that people read at all anymore.  😦

Her other favorite activities are washing her car and driving around in her car listening to music.

Anyone who has a myspace page is instantly 10x less interesting than someone who has a real blog.  Why?  Myspace.com shows that a person focuses more on the social aspects than on actual usefulness, value, or presentation of information.  Myspace.com pages are horribly designed, down right ugly, violate every rule about web page design that have ever been written, and the entire site is basically the reincarnation of geocities.

Compare any myspace.com page to a real blog.  Such as this one, picked completely at random
🙂

June 23, 2006

All of a sudden, it makes sense

Filed under: technology — Devlin Bentley @ 1:28 pm

What is the number one thing that adds to the cost of running an airplane?

Weight

Why go and reinvent the wheel in regards to ethernet and Cat5?

Weight

Cat5 is wasteful.  Ethernet needs 2 pairs of wires, or four cords total.  Cat5 has six.  Why? Corporate convenience.    You are wiring an office building, for most corporate wiring jobs, your costs are in labor and time.  Weight (below a sane threshold) has zero bearing on cost, except maybe for shipment.  It is nice to have some overhead to run future services over, such as digital telephone systems or Power over Ethernet (PoE).

Airlines are the exact opposite.  You install the wiring once, and you pay for it each and every time the plane takes off.

Painful.

So companies come up with various standards for reducing this weight.  When you have literally tens of thousands of miles of cable in an airplane, reducing the wire weight by 1/3rd can make a big difference!

Then they start fighting over whose standard is better.  Boeing used to prefer a way that was a single pair put together.  Almost no cross talk, interference is dropped to nill, really cool advantages.  It can do some really long wire runs.  The disadvantage is that you need to use 2 of these for each ethernet drop, since as said above, ethernet needs 2 pair.

Airbus pushed a standard that uses 4 pairs.  It also has some cool electrical specs on it, though not quite as good as the Boeing stuff.

Both standards blow the pants off of CAT5 though, in every respect possible.

Of course the standard RJ45 connector is no longer any good, not to mention that it never held up to (nor was it designed to!) vibration and stress requirements.  So you have these connectors that cost $5 or more apiece, and are huge and made out of steel.  I couldn’t figure it out at first, until the first time a tech document mentioned vibration, then it hit me.  Having your plane’s computers vibrate themselves off of your LAN is not a good thing!

These end connectors are so well measured and defined, that the increase in signal loss that will occur each time you plug and unplug the connector is well defined.

It is not that RJ45 is unreliable per say, but we have all had RJ45 cables where the little plastic snap thingy falls off and the cord subsequently tends to fall out.  For consumer stuff, this is not a problem.  Unplug the cord, cut off the current RJ45 connector, and crimp on another one.  If you don’t know how, you can learn in just a few minutes, it very easy unless you are color blind.  (Not a joke CAT5 cords are color coded, each ethernet cord has 12 small wires inside of it, each in a colored plastic cover.)

On an airplane, it can be significantly harder to do this given that:

    1. You have many magnitudes more wires with a far simplier wiring layout, so isolating the fault is not as simple.

 

  • You are flying in an airplane!

 

 

Doing network debugging and troubleshooting at 10k feet does not seem like a good idea to me.

Oh, and of course, everything in airplanes is redundent.  Redundant nics, redundant wires, the entire network is redundant.

You want to know how paranoid the airline industry is?

They looked at ethernet, went “Hey, that is a good idea.  But, umm, we’re going to have two plugs on each device, and each device will be hooked in to two different routers.  Ah, that’s better.”

That is paranoid folks.

Not unfairly so, everyone working around networks has also likely encountered a switch or a hub that for some weird reason, has dead ports on it.

I also figured out why the MTBF[1] listed for a given part electronic part on a plane tends to be 2/3rds the industry standard for that part.

Once again, vibration.

Pick up the monitor in front of you.  Now shake the living crud out of it.  Keep doing that for a bit.  Good.  Now repeat it every four or five hours.  I am sure you can imagine that if you keep it up, you are going to reduce the lifespan of your monitor.  🙂

[1] Mean Time Between Failure.  A measure in hours of how long until a part, on average, will die.   Given because you want to know how long an investment in a given part will last so you can amortize it over time, and also so you can give a best guess estimate as to when to replace the part before it does fail, in the case of mission critical applications.

June 21, 2006

The occasional disadvantages of OCD

Filed under: ADD/ADHD, health, Life in general — Devlin Bentley @ 10:21 am

OCD is annoying at times.  Sure it can help keep a desktop neat and tidy, or a folder hierarchy well organized, but it does have its down sides.

I ate most of my lunch before 9:30, and my carrots (which I feel guilty for eating in a cubical environment already) by 10. 

ARG!

Need to find some sort of silent gum to chew on.

June 20, 2006

I hate it when web forms strip newlines

Filed under: Boeing, Programming, technology — Devlin Bentley @ 10:24 am

As a professional author (at least I was for a small part of my life), I know the value of proper white space. Paragraphs are not only a technical aspect of English; they are also part of the art of writing.

(Bleck, the last sentence in that paragraph is not good at all.)

When I submit comments or help requests, I put effort into it to make sure that who ever is on the receiving end can read my question or comment easily.  I break up paragraphs by topic, and I even have a closing line.

Thusly (my word of the day), I am irritated when a webform goes and strips newlines from my comment.  I also feel sorry for whoever has to read my 4 or so paragraph question, now all strung together into one large and ugly paragraph.

Yes, I realize that stripping newlines is done because it is the trivial solution to a problem.  A lot of storage formats consider newlines to be syntaxically significant, and apparently the 50 or so characters in ASCII that are unused are not good candidates for some reason.  Mostly newlines are used as a delimiter to make reading a plaintext dump of the data easier, which can make debugging (and other activities) go a bit more smoothly, but this still doesn’t excuse the fact that the result is software that was programmed for the programmer and not for the end users!

June 19, 2006

Yah a better mouse!

Filed under: Boeing, Work — Devlin Bentley @ 2:24 pm

I have a better mouse now, yah!

I still miss my mouse from home through. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 buttons of goodness.

Work

Filed under: Boeing, Work — Devlin Bentley @ 11:57 am

I need to make a new category for Boeing.

Much different environment that at MS, way to many people for everyone to have their own office. Actually my cubical is rather large, but the chair sucks (cannot scoot in with it, who thins that making arms on chairs so high that the chair cannot be scooted in is a good idea?) and I need to requisition a new mouse.

Boeing recently switched over to giving employees limited accounts rather than admin privileges, spyware and government secrets do not mix well.

Some things are very organized here, amazingly so. Other things are kind of weird. Like trash cans. There was no trash can at my desk, the office manager kindly was able to get me one, someone had ordered some and forgotten to pick them up.

Whiteboards are a scarce resource. People keep stealing them, so now they are also special order. Ick.

Boeing recently upgraded to Dell D600 laptops, kind of weird. Where did they GET D600s from? The D600 is an incredibly common (and rather good) model of laptop, in fact Microsoft has 20 or 30 of them just laying in a pile in the lab I frequented, but umm, heh, the D600 is kind of old. 2+ years old. Mind you CPU speed increases have been somewhat minimalistic in that time frame (Hey look, lets shove more cores on the die, alright!), and a 1.6Ghz Pentium M is nothing to sneeze at, the Pentium M (or D, depending on when you talk to Intel 😉 is a darn good processor.

I am just wondering where they got the stock from!

Edit:  Catagories added

June 10, 2006

What a good test of your browser’s rendering speed?

Filed under: C#, Programming, technology — Devlin Bentley @ 9:24 pm

Load any MSDN page dealing with .NET 2.0.

Who the heck decided that it was a good idea to preload thousands upon thousands of items, before loading the article?

Oh and this is one place where frames might be a GOOD thing.  Having to load that same data each time I visit a site (IE7 and Firefox) is annoying.

I do think that IE7 has a slight speed edge, but, umm, after the first 3 seconds, who really cares?  Especially since I have to do this for each and every method in a class.

June 4, 2006

Why Checked Exceptions are a Good Thing(tm)

Filed under: C#, Programming, technology — Devlin Bentley @ 2:13 am

I am playing around with C#.  Win32/C# class and all that.

I am opening a Graphics file.   A dialog pops up, the user selects a file.  If the user hits OK, I construct a new Bitmap using the file.

That latter bit is copied straight from the MSDN article on the same topic.

Now I <i>now</i> that this is wrong.  All the user has to do is select an invalid file type and exceptions will get thrown all to heck.  They won't be CRITICAL exceptions mind you, not for this simple application, but the application will keep on functioning, assuming that a valid file has been opened.

This is stupid.  Why the hell can't the compiler say "Hey, Devlin, by the way, that constructor there can throw an exception."

I know it can.  Do I want to go and dig through MSDN finding the exact exception name?  Not really.  For whatever reason, IntelliSense is not popping up a list of exceptions that can be thrown by the Bitmap constructor.

What do i want to happen?  I want to hit a hot key, have basic exception handling code thrown up for me, and then go in there and customize the handling.

Yah, sure, I just turned in 30 pages of Java code for class on Friday, and yah, sure, I would estimate that about 8 to 10 pages of that (at least!) is exception handling.  This is because I went about and handled my exceptions <i>properly</i> (informing the user which of their actions is causing a problem and how to remedy the problem, for instance), and got some good information pushed out for myself, the developer, as well at the same time.

And yes, a lot fo that execption handling code is for situations that I <i>personally</i> know will never happen.  Invalid IO exceptions in case arguments passed into a constructor are invalid, in cases where I had just created the object that was being passed in, so I <i>knew</i> that it was valid.

Yah well, I still feel more comfortable handling <b>extra</b> exceptions than not handling <b>enough</b> exceptions.  Requiring the programmer to explicitly break their stride and go in too add every single exception that could happen is just ludicrius.  Especially when the IDE can do it for me!

I am sure that there is some button in Visual Studio to do exactly this, but why shouldn't the compiler bug me if I haven't hit it yet?  Worst case worst, I hit compile and ship the software out the door, and <i>it breaks with ease</i>

The cost benefit trade off of checked exceptions is minimal.  Visual annoyance in return for more stable code.

Finally, I must say this.  It requires discipline to properly catch checked exceptions.  But I believe that it requires even more discipline to catch unchecked exceptions.

June 3, 2006

What I had for breakfast today

Filed under: Life in general — Devlin Bentley @ 5:50 pm

Home made potato pancakes with added sausage.  I was all out of white onion so I had to use purple onion instead.  I just finished off the last one, they actually tasted a lot better a few hours after I made them, as the onion's flavor had time to spread out a bit.

Either way, delicious and simple.  They would be even simplier to make, but my cooking skills are so bad that it took me 10 or so minutes to get all the ingrediates out and ready, 20 minutes to dice the onions, and another 20 or so to mix up the flour and eggs.

Oh well, tasted good at least!  🙂 

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