Archive for May, 2006

Touch Tongues

My friend, Mandy, described her five year old daughter sharing "tongue shakes" with one of her friends at daycare.  It reminded me of a childhood memory!

When my sister and I were little we would play a game I would later learn to be a variation of "Chicken". We used to both stick out our tongues and slowly, slowly, slowly draw closer to each other to touch tongues. Invariably, one of us would back off and, as can be expected, that person would be deemed the loser.

Well one day we were playing "Touch Tongues" in the back of the car when it went over a speed bump. With the commotion of the sudden movement—- we….actually…touched…tongues.

That was the last time we ever played *that* game!

May 8, 2006 at 10:43 pm 1 comment

Journal Excerpt/Dad Story: The Color of Mommy’s Hair

Found this brief little tale in my 8/8/2005 Journal Entry:

Carolyn recently told me a cute story about Dad.  When she was a little girl she asked, "Daddy, what color will my hair be when I grow up?"

"The same color as your mother's," Dad replied, "…DYED!"

To young Carolyn that was a disgusting notion.  "Ewwwww!  I'll never dye my hair!" she proclaimed. 

But, nearly 30 years later– here she is dying her hair!

May 8, 2006 at 10:22 pm 1 comment

ASP.NET – Native Upload

To faciliate uploading in regular ASP, one used to be reliant on a third-party control such as SAFileUpload, ASPUpload or aspSmartUpload.  Those controls can certainly still be utilized in ASP.NET.  In addition, .NET includes its own upload mechanism.  Here is a quick overview on Adding an Upload Page, Security Considerations and File Size Considerations in Internet Information Services 6.0.

Adding Your Upload Page

  1. In your toolbox, you want to select the File Field under the HTML section.
    File Field
    (more…)

May 8, 2006 at 10:07 pm 3 comments

Journal Excerpt: An Evening with Talib Kweli

Below are excerpts my April 6, 2006 and April 8, 2006 journal entries.  This entries were written in a hotel room in Washington, Pennsylvania at the beginning of my six-day travel frenzy.  Earlier that week, Sean, Nate and I attended "An Evening with Talib Kweli" on the Virginia Tech campus.

Large Attendence

On Tuesday night Sean and I went to see his favorite artist – Talib Kweli – speak for free at Virginia Tech.

Although I was not personally vested in it, I was somewhat worried for our guest.  I was afraid the turnout would be low.  Nate [Howe] indicated advertising was low.

Well Nate's speculations and my concerns were unfounded…to say the least!  When we first arrived there were only 5 rows of chairs set up.  About 150 chairs total.

As the event time neared, more people arrived.  The event staff furiously set up chairs to keep up with the demand.  Before they knew it- they had run out of chairs!  They had to fetch some from another ballroom.  By the time Kweli arrived– there must have been 1000 chairs set up and yet some people still needed to stand!

The turnout was amazing and heart warming.  It was a very solid mixture of all demographics.

Q&A

Kweli's prepared speech was fairly short – maybe a half an hour to forty five minutes.  He said he preferred to use the time for questions and answers.

"You get to hear what I think from my albums," he explained, "But I don't get to hear from you."

So he wanted to use the time for discussion and discourse.

He really fielded the questions well.  He was very articulate and had good examples to support his opinions.  I was impressed.

I can't say I was always impressed by the questions America's future, the college students, asked.  Sometimes I literally hung my head in shame as they asked silly questions.  But even the worst questions, Kweli would turn to gold as he articulated his opinion.

He did take a moment to gently point out [an oversight] of one of the inquirers.  She made some generalities about Africa.  He responded, "Africa is a very big place."

Some of the question askers you could tell coveted the same audience and tried to exercise their own leadership in mistimed tirades.

One guy even got up there and actually put Kweli on hold saying, "First I want to ask a question to the audience."  He turned to us, "Raise your hand if you respect your right to feel!  Raise your hand if you respect your right to think!"

Everyone was so dumbfounded, very few raised their hands.  His plan backfired, but he continued on.

"Well today's government doesn't respect your right to feel and your ability to think…"

I think his heart was in the right place.  It just wasn't a good forum for a no name student to try to "rally the troops."

The Selfishness and Entitlement of Today's Youth

Another thing I was embarassed about was the students' behavior near the end of the question/answer session.

The Black Student Union (BSU) only had the ballroom for a limited time.  When that cut-off time was nearing a poor member went up to mark the end of the questions that could be taken.  She apologized to all the people who were in line past that point and explained the situation.  Most of the people scattered and returned to their seats.  But a group of 5-7 people refused.  They stood there with indignant looks and crossed arms.  They griped, complained and even whined.

Another BSU member got up and explained, "We're under a contract.  I'm sorry, we are just out of time."

And still- not everyone conceded!  At one point they got all but one to leave.  That last guy backed up enough for the BSU representatives to think their point was taken– so they returned to their seats.

No sooner did they do that, then that one last lingerer returned to line and the BSU students had to get back up.

The BSU students held their ground and I was proud of [the resolve of these young adults] to not crack under the pressure of their peers.

In the end, the last guy yelled to Kweli to take one more question.  That opened a can of worms and the other indignants quickly returned to line.

Finally Kweli said, "Can I say one thing?  Whoever is here right now– that's it."

Of course– some of the people most annoying about the question cut off really wanted to get up and speak in front of the audience and remind us tripe like:

"You're the government!"

They wanted to hear themselves speak.

So here is what really struck me.  I just can't get over how entitled people feel.

This was a free event.  The hours were listed on the poster.  The BSU paid for everything including a buffet!!!  And here these ungrateful attendees expect to be able to ask their trivial questions.  I just had trouble swallowing how self-obsessed they were to expect that and to not accept the cut-off time.  It was selfish.

Kweli's Varied Cadence

Kweli's speaking speeds varied throughout the night.  During the prepared monologue– he spoke very slowly.  He was choosing his words wisely– pausing between phrases and thoughts.  He was speaking from the heart.  During the Q&A he spoke in a normal conversational pace.  At the very end, he did a freestyle rap — it was at a face pace as he improvised the words quickly and on the fly.  It was amazing to see a man who could speak words so quickly period — not to mention make them rhyme.  Listening to that quick-paced section at the end, made me appreciate the words at the beginning even more so.  It really demonstrated how carefully he was trying to articulate himself.

Travel as a Learning Tool

For the most part, Kweli talked about the importance of learning, the values taught at home, an individual's responsibility [towards their own education] and the importance of activism.

It wasn't a main part of his message – but one of his recommendations for learning was to travel.  (He did say the Internet could supplement travel because of all the information you can get).  The connotations of his travel recommendation were so that you can see with you own eyes– other cultures, other peoples, other activities, other perspectives.

I may not always enjoy travel– but I do believe he is correct.  One learns quite a bit– especially abroad.  But there is another reason I think travel is important to education– regardless of mode — be  it air, train, boat or car, one has a great deal of time to be introspective.  One can more fully absorb the sites and sounds they've seen.  They can put it in perspective.

In everyday life– we often neglect reflection.  We get swept up in the routines of life.  We work, we do chores, we cook meals, we sleep, we cram event after event into our busy schedules– but never really stop to think.

When you are waiting at an airport gate or sitting on a train watching the country side pass or even driving yourself through West Virginia– you have that time.

I knew that last example well– I had just driven five hours to my hotel– a bulk of the travel through West Virginia.

I think you can see many sites all over the world– but without that personal time– your observations wouldn't be fully processed.

I think the most beneficial part of the traveling is the downtime.

Case in point– I'm quite behind in my journals– been busy with birthdays and obligations.  Now that I'm on a trip, I'll have the time to catch up! 🙂

"Every music has its place"

In his speech last Tuesday, Talib Kweli was asked a lot of leading questions.

Students would point out songs or artists that lacked conscious content.  They wanted Kweli to denounce it.

BUT- he never did.  He maintained he could appreciate all types of music.  Even a song about getting wasted at a strip bar.

"Maybe I'm in a bar getting drunk and I want to hear a song about that," he said.

"Every music has its place," he'd say later.

Other recaps on the Virginia Tech "An Evening with Talib Kweli":
Kendra Brigg's Recap for Planet Blacksburg
SpeakEasy Thread with Sean's Recap (Login required)

May 7, 2006 at 10:59 am 1 comment

Right Shoes for the Job

Earlier this week, my friend Phillip had a post on The Right Tool for the Job where he discussed struggling with a task and teaching himself once again the value of using the correct tool.

Today, I learned a similiar lesson– "The Right Shoes for the Job"

It was such a pretty day, I took the the dogs (three of them– I'm watching Meredith Webber's dog Lily this weekend) out for a quick hike.  We went from VA-635 to Pine Swamp Shelter and back.  It was a total of 4.8 miles and relatively flat– a hike I could do in my sleep! 

 Tall Dogwood

Instead of wearing my regular Asolo hiking boots, I wore some outdoor sandals.  It was not my best decision.

These sandals aren't new and they are well broken in.  They were with me in Pennsylvania and Kentucky last July.  They were with me in Delaware in August.  They were with me in Las Vegas in November.  They've been on walks and kayaking outings.  In warm weather, I wear them to work.  So it is a footwear my feet are well accustomed to. 

Nonetheless, over the course of a 4.8 rocky trail, they did not treat my feet too well.  I got three blisters.  I slipped more often.  And finally, I didn't anticipate "the stick factor".  The open toes and heels left more opportunity for little sticks and rocks to get stuck under my feet.

So let's compare this week's hike to last week's hike:

  Last Week This Week
Footwear Hiking Boots Outdoor Sandals
Mileage 13.1 4.8
Altitude Climb ~1500-1800 feet Negligible
Blisters 0 3
Foot Discomfort None Moderate

I think the metrics tell a clear message!

My website contains other pictures of my Pine Swamp Hike.  Also, I only have 11.5 miles until my RATC patch. 🙂

May 6, 2006 at 8:35 pm 2 comments

Dad Story (Sort of): Ali G and Laughter

Ran across this in my journal today.  It is from my July 18, 2005 entry.  Although it really isn't a Dad story, I'm fond of the memory:

Then I exposed Dad to the Ali G Show!  I had the 1st Season Disc 1 DVD with me.  I wasn't sure if Dad would find the show as amusing as us.  Sean and I actually discussed it on the way up and we concluded it wouldn't be Dad's cup of tea.

I took a stab at it anyway last night.  I put it in, queued up Borat's Guide to Dating and held my breath.  Within a minute or so, I heard a chuckle which quickly escalated into full blown Lowell-laughter — the best laughter I've encounted on this good Earth.

Although I've seen those sketches numerous times– even twice the night before — and none of the jokes were new to me I found myself cracking up as well.

Comedies are meant to be watched with Dad — period.  There is nothing equivalent.

May 6, 2006 at 10:55 am 1 comment

ISO: Best Trees in Virginia

Clint's Cousin-in-Law, Eric Mens, sent me a copy of this article.

Looking for the top 100 trees in Virginia

The College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech is ultimately compiling a book of the most remarkable trees in Virginia.  If you go to their website at http://www.cnr.vt.edu/4h/remarkabletree/, you can nominate a tree for consideration.

I nominated Keffer Oak!  It's the largest blazed tree on the Appalachian Trail.  It's over 300 years old and is 18 feet and 3 inches in girth.  To give you an idea of the tree's size, below is a picture of the tree and Henry the beagle.  If you think Henry looks small there, you should see how small he looked when I sent this picture to Sean's cellphone!

Big Tree Little Beagle

 There are additional Keffer Oak pictures on my website.  If you long for a different unit of measurement other than "beagle", you have "lurcher", "four year old boy" and "lurcher and four year old boy" to choose from.

May 4, 2006 at 10:41 pm 2 comments

Update: Letter to Lansing City Council about Malcolm X

Some letters, packages and even emails, you really don't have a good means to know they were really received.  Actually, letters to Carolyn and Clint have been particularly susceptible to delivery problems.  For example, here is an email from Carolyn noting that she received a letter from me 10 months after it was sent!  The email also shows that Sean isn't the only one who can accurately anticipate.  🙂

From: Carolyn
Sent: Tue 10/29/2002 6:16 PM
To: Vicky
Subject: ha ha hahahah

i got your letter and the returned card today.  The first line in the thank-you card dated 12/27/01 is "Not sure when you are going to get this as your sporadic support of postal mail…" (not proper grammar :P) Hilarious!

-Carolyn

In the case of my Letter to the Lansing City Council about MalcolmX, however, I have the benefit of feedback via the Lansing City Council's website.  My letter was mentioned in the March 20, 2005 City Council Meeting Agenda and subsequently the March 20, 2005 City Council Meeting Notes.

It doesn't mean any action would be taken.  Still… it is pretty neat to see the letter was a line item in a meeting.

May 4, 2006 at 10:19 pm 1 comment

MS06-013 – Click to activate and use this control

In April, Microsoft released a cumulative security update, MS06-013, which effected Internet Explorer's handling of objects such as ActiveX controls and Flash.  Basically, before a user can interact with these items, they would have to click on it first to "Activate" the control.  Until then, when you hover over the control it reminds you, "Click to activate and use this control"

 Example of MS06-013 prompt

Items that don't require user interaction (such as a Flash introductory movie that runs on your homepage) aren't affected and run as normal.  But items that do require the user to type in, click on, hover over or otherwise interface with the item would be affected.  So for example, if you have a navigation bar at the top of your page done in Flash the user would now have to click twice– once to activate the control and once to click on the desired destination.

On the client-side Microsoft has released a "Compatiability Patch" to undo this particular behavior to Internet Explorer, but this reprieve is not permanent (They intend of making the activation behavior official in June).  There are also options one can do to the actual code.  It turns out, if you load the options externally (via JavaScript), they are automatically activated and the extra clicks are avoided.    

So far, I have been involved in the update of two web applications to handle this change (one for an ActiveX control and one for Flash) and have found the workaround extremely easy and quick to implement.  This evening I timed myself– it took just four minutes to move the appropriate Flash references to an external JavaScript file and subsequently bypass the activation need. 

The MSDN article on Activating ActiveX Controls will describe additional options, but I'm going to walk you through the solution we've been using.

  1. Open up the source code of your web page in the editor of your choice.
  2. Highlight and cut the source code of your ActiveX/Flash controlCopy Source
  3. Open up a brand new text file (in Notepad or your editor of choice) and paste in the cut text.
  4. Surround each line of text with document.write(' and '); Document.Write
  5. Save your new text file as a .js file in a directory that is appropriate.  (Perhaps an includes directory or maybe a javascript directory)
  6. Return to the original source code and where we cut the code out, you want to insert <SCRIPT Language="JavaScript" SRC="path/filename.js"></SCRIPT>, making sure to fill in the appropriate path and filename of your new .js file.Pasted Script
  7. Save your changes to your original source file.

Once those changes are applied, when a user loads the page, they will be able to interact with the control immediately.  No need for Compatiability Patches or extra clicks here.

May 2, 2006 at 8:47 pm 28 comments

Word 2003 – The Find What text contains a Pattern Match expression which is not valid.

Today I was trying to clean up a Word document and I had a lot of items that were in the following format:

{Number:Number:Number}

So for example– {1:25:89} or {6:12:1}. 

At first I was just doing a search for a left curly brace, then I would take my cursor, highlight all of the offending text and hit delete.  It didn't take long before I determined that was going to be too tedious. 

Luckily, I noticed in the Find and Replace dialog, if I hit More>>> there was a Use wildcards option.  So I did a search on:

{%:%:%}

But I got an error:
The Find What text contains a Pattern Match expression which is not valid.

"Whoops," I thought and assumed it was ADO getting the best of me.  ADO's wildcard character is %.  So I revised my search:

{*:*:*}

Still, I was greeted with the same error.  The same with questions marks as my wildcard character and the same with just searching on {.

It turns out, Word's wildcard search is pretty much a regular expression search (it does appear to be missing some support like \d, \w, etc).  And just like regular expressions, Word uses the curly braces to define repeating patterns.  As a result my search was using a reserved character.  In the end, I just had to escape the braces with a backslash:

\{*:*:*\}

From there, I left the Replace with field blank and was able to use the Replace All button to purge all those items in one swoop.  Even with the initial confusion, it was well worth it!

Here's another article detailing some common search scenarios and their syntax:
http://www.bcentral.co.uk/technology/software/microsoft-word-search-replace-find-tutorial-clipboard.mspx

May 2, 2006 at 6:59 pm 9 comments

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