Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Windows XP = Windows Christ Savior?

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Now that I have your attention… 


When I hear XP I typically think Windows XP, and then there is also Extreme Programming. But I never knew that XP means “Christ Savior”. According to Grammar Girl’s quick and dirty tips:


Retailers have long been accused of secularizing Christmas by using “Xmas” in signs and advertisements; therefore, I suspect many of you will be surprised to learn that “Xmas” has a religious origin.


In Greek, the letter “chi” is written as an X, and chi is the first letter of the Greek word for “Christ.” Greeks sometimes abbreviated “Christ” as “X.” For example, they abbreviated “Christ savior” as “XP.” (“P” is the symbol for the Greek letter “rho,” which is the first letter of the word “savior” in Greek.) The Oxford English Dictionary shows the first known English use of “Xmas” in 1551.
As for appropriateness, “Xmas” may have a religious origin and fit better on signs, but many people — both those who use “Xmas” and those who complain about its use — are unaware of the religious origin. If you choose you use “Xmas,” you should know that some people will be infuriated.

Wow, now that’s really got me thinking… Generation X = The generation of Christ? Whoa! Deep. Now I’m sorry I talked so much smack about ’em. 🙂

Improve your grammar and learn little bits of info like this from Grammar Girl yourself, sign up for the Tip of the day here.


I’m Thankful For… CHEAP GAS

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The last few months we’ve heard sooo much about the declining economy… On the flip side, I’m really liking the plummeting gas prices! Aren’t you? I paid $1.88 a gallon today! It’s been years since I’ve seen prices like this.


When gas was over $3.00 the complaints were loud and often. Between the people that surround me (don’t get me wrong, me too) and the media, it was obvious that we were not happy. Now that gas prices are down, the complaints stop but we don’t seem to be talking too much about how happy we are about it. Even worse on NPR, yesterday, they were talking about the negative impact of it.


That’s sad.


Join me in the positive celebration of cheap gas!


This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for cheap gas (and a WHOLE LOT more, but I won’t get into that here).


 


CheapGas


Follow the Leader

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A couple years ago my grandpa Alfred Olsen passed away and I wrote the following eulogy entitled “Follow the Leader” that was read at his funeral. He was a truly remarkable man, I miss him a lot, and the man he was, is what I strive to be. I was perusing the hard drive this evening looking for something QA related and rediscovered this. I thought I’d share since some of these lessons are applicable in the business world too:

 
Follow the Leader

Written by Brent Strange in memory of Grandpa Olsen

It’s funny, I always have fleeting thoughts of how I appreciate the little things about a person or the different things I love about them but I’m always hard pressed to put it into words or too chicken to tell that person about those things. “I Love You” says a lot, but doesn’t say much for why. Putting the “Why” behind “I Love You” is something I’ve thought about for a long time with my Grandpa Olsen but I never did sit down to tell him. Now it’s too late to tell him in person, so here I am settling down and am writing it out. I hope and pray that he is listening now…

My Grandpa is the most respectable person I’ve ever met. Let’s cut to the chase: Grandpa was honorable, funny, kind, loving, giving, non-judgmental, and a man of God. He is everything I want to and struggle to be. Over the years Grandpa has been a silent leader for me. Follow the leader!

Follow the leader: give somebody some “bugs”!
My first memories of Grandpa date back to when I was less than two years old. Back then Grandpa preached at the Assembly of God in Naselle where he and Grandma lived in the connecting house. I remember in the evenings we would sit in his vinyl, burnt-orange chair together. Grandpa would bounce me on his knee helping me pretend I was a cowboy riding his horse. The orange chair was where I first remember getting “bugs”. Yeah bugs…Grandpa’s way of tickling was giving you little tickling pinches under your legs and arms saying “You got bugs, BUGS, BUGS!” each bug bite made you squirm and laugh trying to wriggle out of his reach to get rid of those darn bugs. When the horse rides and bug bites died down I would sit on his lap, leaning against him listening to him talk to others in the room. His voice was comforting to me.

Follow the leader: sit on the edge!
Grandpa and I did a lot of fishing. My first remembered fishing trip was frightening! Grandpa took me to the dock at the Chinook cannery where we sat on the edge to fish for Perch. I remember sitting on that edge, feet hanging over, and looking down at the water below scared to death since it was so far down (seemed to be about 20 feet down to this day, probably was 10…). Grandpa didn’t seem too concerned and my fear soon went away after we caught the first Perch.

Follow the leader: cast through the brush, the fish are just past it!
Summer visits to Grandpa and Grandma always meant a trip Martin Wirkkalla’s place to fish in his private lakes. I remember walking behind Grandpa as he led me through the trees and brush to find those hidden lakes. Fishing would usually start out with me casting into the weeds and trees but after a couple hours of untangling weeds from lures, and carefully finessing lures from tree branches Grandpa and I came back with a few nice trout. Those times were always special to me because we were fishing in lakes that nobody else could, and we ALWAYS caught fish!

Follow the leader: take time out of your busy day for your loved ones!
The last time I fished with Grandpa was on his 62nd birthday. I remember the day pretty well. Grandpa was pretty busy for some reason but we headed to the Naselle River off of South Valley Road to get a few quick casts in. What I remember most about that day was walking down to the river with him and asking him how old he was. He told me he was 62 and I remember thinking that 62 was REALLY OLD and that he would die soon. My eyes welled up with tears with the thought. I managed to get the tears dried up before they fell so he didn’t see. I spent the rest of that fishing trip appreciating EVERY little thing about him (by the way, this was the ONLY trip together that we didn’t catch anything).

Follow the leader: make people laugh!
Grandpa was a prankster. If you didn’t know this, you didn’t know Grandpa! Every time I visited he had a new trick up his sleeve. Even in his 80’s! The last prank he played on me was his exploding pen cap. I think over the course of 2 years I actually fell for that prank twice.

Follow the leader: confirm those answers?
When Grandpa would ask a question and someone would reply he would always follow up a reply with a “Huh?” I thought that was pretty funny because I knew he heard the reply but he still always said “Huh?”. I remember listening to Grandma replying to Grandpa, Grandpa then saying “Huh?” and then Grandma replying louder, firmer and a bit annoyed. I always smiled to myself when I heard that word “Huh?”, it was a funny habit of his.

Follow the leader: Give!
Grandpa was so giving. With every visit I ended up with some sort of odd, hand-me-down gift that meant a lot. Grandpa had a way of showing you all his cool things throughout the house and shop and waiting for your eyes to sparkle about one of those things. That THING usually was gifted to you by the end of your visit. Over the years I obtained some pretty special gifts: stuffed baby alligator, pocket electronic golf game, Skil-Saw, fishing lures, wood pens.

Thank you for your love and leadership Grandpa. I respect and honor your life and am committed to providing the leadership to my family and friends as you have done for yours.

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You and the Internet are "The End of the World"

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3D Map of the World Wide WebWay back in the day we only knew people from personal recognition after seeing that person.

There was a time when an event could only be experienced by witnessing it. If you missed the event you were left with little to go by.

There once was a generation that spread knowledge and commodities by foot.

Those days are long gone, time has passed and we have evolved:

Seeing a person, turned into a description of a person, descriptions turned into drawings of a person, drawings turned into pictures, and pictures turned into computer bytes.

Experienced events turned into word of mouth, word of mouth turned to hieroglyphics, hieroglyphics turned to scrolls, scrolls turned to books, and then books turned to computer bytes.

Traveling by foot on a weak path turned into traveling by animals on a beaten path, animals turned to engines on paved roads, and engines turned into computer bytes via the Internet (in some cases).

You, my digital friend, have become a digital signature in this world. LIKE IT OR NOT. Much of what you see, say and do is digitized and stored. Storage creates historical record, historical records can be analyzed for events, paths, and patterns. YOU ARE MAKING HISTORY. Consider yourself a star! Paul Revere and the midnight ride? BAH! You are the new history.

Just for the record “you” digitally is: 101110010110101 (rough estimate… geeks don’t correct me, I don’t care). Yeah, doesn’t make much sense to me either, but somehow or other this fabulous computer brought that definition to you (101110010110101).

Where was I? Oh yeah…

Here you were worrying and waiting for the mark of the beast to be forced on you:

“He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead.” Revelation 13:16″

Hehe… You fool! The mark is your forehead and right hand, and now it’s digitized and posted on the Internet (remember that picture you took with Grandma last Christmas that clearly showed your forehead and right hand, and then posted to your MySpace?). Yes, you’ve been marked, and oddly enough, you are the one that published your mark to the world. Sucks for you. Dang… Me too.

Scary huh? Oh, don’t be afraid. Everybody is in the same boat as you. The wonderful part is that when the boat sinks we’ll all be going down together.

YOU and the INTERNET are the end of the world. The Internet is the fast track to spreading the digital blasphemy we’ve created.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Internet. It puts food on my table.

I just wanted to let you know. I hope I didn’t ruin your day, it wasn’t my intent. I just wanted to make you aware. I’m going to go check my email now.


Success From the Trenches

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I ran into this quote from Albert Einstein today:

In order to be an immaculate member of a flock of sheep, one must above all be a sheep oneself.


I have personally lived this many times over the years in my various careers. I’m going to venture out and say that I’ve been pretty successful at working my way up to an immaculate member in few cases. I chalk my success up to what I call “working in, and reporting from the trenches”, and also, not to ever remove myself from the trenches. I believe that your success amongst your sheep/peers is highly dependant on staying extremely in tune with the trenches, and most importantly the people in the trenches. Once you remove yourself from those trenches, you are not eating the same sheep food, and I consider you a shepherd. Don’t get me wrong, shepherds are a good thing, and  shepherds do tune in to the trenches. But they don’t always spend 8 hours a day in them because they have shepherd things to do! I try my best to walk the fine line between sheep and shepherd. Am I shepherd in sheep’s clothing?


Shepherd, how do you stay in tune with your trenches to gain or maintain an immaculate sheep status?


Father-Son Christmas Pictures (in Halo 3)

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My oldest son Jake and I often spend our weekend nights playing Halo 3 online. We have a great time playing together and truly enjoy laying down some whoop-ass on others as a father son team. This weekend we spent a little time playing with the video and screen-shot features that are available in Halo 3 and came up with the following Father-Son Xmas Pictures. I tried to talk the wife into putting one of these bonding moments as the front of this year’s Christmas card but it was a no go.




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[Say cheese! (Jake is red, I’m blue)]


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[Jake and I lighting Xmas candles with the rocket launcher and flame thrower!]


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[Red and blue are our favorite Xmas colors!]


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[Jake and I enjoying a casual cruise through the Xmas snow on our Ghosts]


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[Sometimes we have little disagreements which end up in a sword battle. This disagreement was about if Santa is real]


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[You win some, you lose some. Santa is real.]


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[Jake and I flying like Xmas angels. Aren’t we cute?]


If you play Halo 3 online look us up, we’d like to punish you. Jake’s gamer tag is iSpartan710 and mine is Major Strange. Oh, and Merry Christmas from iSpartan710 and Major Strange!


Hosting a Web site from home with Cox, Comcast or Verizon

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Since its creation QAInsight.net has been hosted from an underpowered pizza box lying on the floor, under my desk, in my office at home. The recent move to Arizona has caused some moving around and downtime. It’s been down this last week while I putzed around with getting it to work from the new office closet with my new Internet provider Cox Cable. Cox blocks incoming ports (and so does Verizon Fios) which makes hosting a Web site a little challenging, but not impossible. The providers say that it’s for security reasons, and there is some truth to that, but for those of us who understand those security reasons…well, port blocking is just a huge pain in the ass. If you don’t understand the security issues stop reading and go pay a professional to host your site. Perhaps somebody like GoDaddy.com.

If you’re still reading… My research on the Internet regarding this subject led to many forums and articles with people having the problem of not being able to host a site at home but no specific directions on how to make it happen. Today, I hope to help you make it happen. Beat the system..You know… stick it the man. Keep in mind your Internet provider, modem, router, Web server may not be the same as mine but I’ll try to keep things as generic as possible so that you can try to apply it so your situation. Forgive me for the things that are wrong that I am about to divulge, for I suck at networking. Proceed at your own risk.

WARNING: You could screw things up! WARNING: The traffic to your site could cause your ISP to cancel your service.

And awaaaay we go:

Things needed

1. An Internet provider. Cable, DSL, or FIber. Dial-up isn’t going to work.
2. A router. You’ll need one that is capable of IP forwarding and Web Forwards. I use the NetGear RangeMax Next -WNR854T (mostly because my internal wired network is Gigabit).
3. A domain name. GoDaddy.com is the best place to get one of these. I recommend you get something cool like MyPimpNutz.com or MyPrettyPony.tv to establish your presence on the dub dub dub.

For simplicity let’s start with the 10,000 foot view:

  1. You Domain Name talks to a Dynamic DNS service.
  2. The Dynamic DNS service points to the IP on your modem, and if your ISP blocks ports it will also forward the request to the modem using a different port #.
  3. Your modem forwards to your router and your router forwards to your internal web server.
  4. Your web server receives the request at the port with the specified header and processes it.

Simple enough from that point of view eh? Okay, here’s the detail (not so simple):

  1. Go find out what ports your Internet provider blocks. You’ll probably get lost in their maze of a website so just Google it, e.g. “List of blocked ports for Verizon Fios”. Write them down. In my experience Cox Cable and Verizon Fios block port 80 (the one we care about for the purpose of this post) Comcast does not. If your ISP doesn’t block ports then you won’t need to worry about the “Web Forward” instructions in this post.
  2. On your Router
    1. Logon to your router
    2. Make sure your router has DHCP turned on, if not, turn it on.
    3. Make sure the option to get the Internet IP Address is set to “Get Dynamically from ISP”
    4. If you can, setup the LAN TCP/IP IP address and IP Subnet Mask. Make these 192.168.1.1 and 255.255.255.0
    5. Find the feature for “Port forwarding”. Add a new port forwarding rule, if your ISP does not block port 80 then make the start and end port 80 and the server IP address 192.168.1.10 (you will specify this in the Web Server portion of this article). If you provider does block port 80 then do the same thing but use 8080 (or any port that they do not block).
    6. Find a page with the router status. Write down the IP address of the router (LAN port, 192.168.1.1), the IP Subnet Mask (LAN port, 255.255.255.0), the IP address of the modem (Internet port) , and the Domain Name Server (Internet port)
      Things should look kind of like this when you’re done:
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  3. On your Web Server: Logon to your web server.
    Setup the TCP/IP properties on the local area connection:
    1. Logon to your Web server
    2. Setup the TCP/IP properties on the local area connection:
      1. Enable “Use the following IP Address”
      2. Give it a static IP Address 192.16.1.10 (or something other than your router IP address)
      3. Give it a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0 (the same subnet mask you gave your router)
      4. Give it a default gateway of 192.168.1.1 (this is the IP Address you gave your router)
      5. Enable “Use the following DNS server address” and for the “Preferred DNS Server” input the IP address of the “Domain Name Server” that you wrote down from the router
        All said and done it should look something like this:
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  4. Dynamic DNS
    1. Go sign up for dynamic DNS (free) at ZoneEdit.com
    2. Log in to your account and click “Add zones” 
    3. Enter the domain name that you want DNS services for and click “add”
    4. A pair of name servers will be assigned to you
    5. Contact your registrar (people that sold you the domain name, GoDaddy.com in my case) and tell them to change the name servers for your domain or logon to your account at your registrar and change them yourself.
    6. Wait approximately 1 day for this change to take place. But in the meantime…
    7. If you determined that your ISP IS NOT blocking port 80 then proceed (otherwise skip to sub-step 6):
      1. Click on the link  “IP Addresses (A)”
      2. For the “name” textbox type in *.yourDomain.com (type in your domain name). Using *. will cover the case where people come in with and without the www.
      3. Input the IP Address that was specified in the router as your “Internet Port” (in other words the IP address assigned to your modem from you ISP)
      4. Click the “Change” button.
      5. Click the “View” link at the top of the page and make sure the IP Addresses section contains the entry you just input
        It should look something like this:
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        If you determined that your ISP IS blocking port 80 (and you skipped sub-step 1-5) then:

      6. Click the link “WebForward”
      7. In the “New Domain” textbox type in your domain name, without the www. (e.g. qainsight.net)
      8. In the “Destination” textbox type the following: http://www1.yourDomainName.com:8080
      9. Do not enable “Cloaked”
      10. Click the “Add New” button
      11. Click on the link  “IP Addresses (A)”
      12. For the “name” textbox type in *.yourDomain.com (type in your domain name)
      13. Input the IP Address that was specified in the router as your “Internet Port” (in other words the IP address assigned to your modem from you ISP)
      14. Click the “Change” button.
      15. Click the “View” link at the top of the page and make sure the WebForward and  IP Addresses section contains the entries you just input
        It should look something like this:
        image
  5. Okay! We’re close to being done. Now go logon to your Web server
    1. Open up Internet Information Server (IIS Manager)
    2. Expand the server name node
    3. Expand the “Web Sites” node
    4. Right mouse click your web site (assuming you’ve set this up already)
    5. Under the “Web Site” tab click Advanced
    6. Click the “Add” button
    7. Select the IP Address for server (192.168.1.10 is mine)
    8. Enter the “TCP Port” of 8080
    9. Enter the “Host Header Value” of: www1.yourDomainName.com (yourDomainName is your domain name!)
    10. That’s it. Other things need to properly get a site to display I’ll leave to you (default pages, application pools, etc)

There you have it. Don’t forget it will take a minimum of 24 hours before the name servers are set and propagated, so you’re not going to see instant results if you did this all in one day. If it doesn’t work, double and triple check all your settings to make sure they stuck. Watch for the redirect from www to www1 in the browser. If you get an error and no redirect  to www1, look at your name server and Dynamic DNS settings. If you get the redirect to www1 but the page doesn’t display then look at the web page, application, or IIS settings.

What to do if your IP changes…Change the IP entries at ZoneEdit.com. There are tools that detect the changes and update this automatically for you but I’ve never had to do that since my IP typically updates about once a year which hasn’t warranted me investigating the tool.

Last but not least…Enjoy the convenience and availability of your Web site hosted from home!


What can be worse than a pile of credit card offers?

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Every one of us are annoyed by daily credit card offers in the mail.


What can be worse?


When you open the credit card offer, to break it down to a palatable chunk for your shredder, and you get a paper cut.


This happened to me this evening…


Let’s try this again.


What can be worse?


I already have a credit card with the company (Bank of America) because they acquired my old/original credit card company.


Arghhhh… You’re killin’ me, Smalls!


These people steal my time nearly every day, wouldn’t it be fun if:



  • You saved all the credit card offers for one year, shredded them and sent them back to the bank in a giant box labeled “URGENT, OPEN IMMEDIATELY”
  • You saved all the credit card offers for 5 years, shredded them, and dumped the pile (5 feet high) in front of the entrance to your local, offending branch
  • Saved the offers for one month, drove to the local, offending branch’s drive-through, insert them into the vacuum tube, press the button and drive away
  • You shred the offer, put it back in the business reply envelope (no cost to you), and send it back
  • Shred the offer, lick the envelope, and send only the envelope back
  • Don’t open the offer, mark it “return to sender” and  put it back in the mail
  • Open the offer, use a permanent marker to hide all your personal information, and send it back
  • Create a chain email convincing people of the world to do one of the above mentioned “fun things” on a specified date and time (much like the gas strike email chains)


Beck Akiane, a faith refresher

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I have to admit, my faith in God these days is pretty..how can I say it… lacking. I’ll spare you the gory details of my frustrations, but in a nutshell I’m just kind of frustrated with humanity, how we treat each other, and the feeling like we’re hard wired to fail.


My loving Grandma, who has served nearly her whole life to the lord,  and holds her own the Internet (go Grandma!) emailed me a video URL the other day that reminded me that there is something up there/out there that is driving us. The video is about the child prodigy Beck Akiane who has had an astonishing talent for art (starting at age 6), poetry, and music. Simply amazing. A faith refresher. Check out Beck’s site.


2008 Ford F150 will get 60MPG!?

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Rumor has it that the 2008 Ford F150 to be released in August is going to get 60 Miles Per Gallon using their Hydraulic Hybrid technology.


A while back the wife and I decided that our next vehicle purchase was going to be an F150 SuperCab. We need a truck bed for hauling things around and we also need the optional 6 seats. Add 60 MPG to that and I’m sold. 60 MPG in a truck ? Crazy! I hope it’s true. We’ll see come August.


Read a few more details at newstechspy.com


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