So Much for Online Math Help

So I’m trying to study for my upcoming math course exams. I was recommended by my instructor to use MathXL, “an online homework, tutorial, and assessment system,” by Pearson Education. This web app sucks because I can’t even use the damn thing. The registration process used SSL and required a “strong” password (it complained about my first choice). However, the system then e-mails you that password back in plaintext! After logging in and finally selecting my course, I am told that the system requires Internet Explorer’s ActiveX. Couldn’t the “I require Microsoft Windows, stop wasting your time” warning be shown before I went into all of this trouble? I’m going to study math the old-fashioned way now.

Where Have I Been?

Things have gotten quiet here again, but this time there is a reason. Earlier last month I was in a car accident that was severe enough to total my 2006 Scion xB. Thankfully, I walked away with only a broken finger. At the same time, I have been getting ready for starting college and keeping up my web development job along with my own projects. Ordering textbooks, switching classes, dealing with insurance, rental cars, finding another car, schedules that change every other hour, and trying to type with one hand and two fingers took up a lot of my time!

Things have settled down a little bit now that I’m finishing my third week of classes. My finger is almost healed and I can type with it now. I also have insurance worked out, and was able to get a 2008 xB! Cost me more than I would have liked, though, but it’s safer and can fit my mountain bike for going from class to class on campus.

My Scion

Yes, I got a bike: a ’07 Diamondback Outlook from The Bike Surgeon. The people there are great. I’ve always loved riding bikes but I haven’t had one since for a long time. I got a great deal, and it’s already paying for itself by getting me to class on-time. The same day I bought it I got to experience a Critical Mass bike ride with over 100 people riding around Carbondale. It’s not something you can do every day!

Bikes

I’m back and ready to resume my blog once-every-whenever schedule… for all of you frequent readers!

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A Look Inside Yahoo!

Yahoo! Building D

The second day I was in California, my friend Dav Glass gave me a tour of the Yahoo! campus in Sunnyvale. The appearance and general vibe I received while I was there took some getting used to: everyone seemed excited to be there. They had good reason to be: they have their own beach volleyball court, live music, restaurant, game room, and I’m just scratching the surface here. Here’s a video of a “virtual tour” of Yahoo! if you’re interested:

The next day, I met up with Matt Hackett and visited “Summer Jam ’07” for web developers, which was really cool: they had live music from Yahoo! (and Lockheed) web devs!

Jamming

There are many more photos from the event on Flickr. I met some really cool people there who were actually interested in web development! (Imagine that.) Plus, the music was very good.

Matt and Reid

I’m really glad I had the opportunity to experience Yahoo! and a big thanks to Matt and Dav for showing me around!

California Day 0: Great Food, Weather, Hotel…

Yesterday my mom and I started our vacation in California. The trip here was very long, taking several hours flying from St. Louis to Orange County and finally to San Jose. But after staying here for only 1 night, all of that was definitely worth it.

Valencia Street View

First of all, the weather difference is night and day. Coming from Southern Illinois where high humidity is the norm, the climate here is great. We are staying at Hotel Valencia Santana Row, an upscale hotel which is jaw-dropping beautiful. We had dinner a block away at The Counter where you are given a clipboard and pencil to literally build your own burger (which tastes amazing). This morning I ate breakfast at Citrus which was just as good as everything else here.

The Counter: B.Y.O.B.

So far, the only negative has been finding a place to park, but what can you expect in California?

Today, I’ll be taking a tour of Yahoo! with some of my friends who work there and then hopefully go see some of the other area attractions.

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My Problem With Facebook Platform

Facebook Overflowing Requests
I’m getting tons of these junk requests every day. I wish Facebook would provide a mechanism to “ignore future invitations” so I wouldn’t have 5 new iLike invitations whenever I login. (Besides, I already use Last.fm.) Otherwise, my requests page is becoming just as bad as my MySpace.

Other than annoyances such as this, Facebook’s Platform is a great concept. I hope that Facebook further refines their Platform to accommodate for situations like this.

Hello MacBook

I have spent a week with my brand new black MacBook now, and it is amazing.

I set it up on Thursday while I was at work. It was extremely simple to set up. I had a external USB hard drive containing a backup of my Mac mini. I just plugged in the drive and the first-run setup assistant asked if I was transferring from another Mac. I selected the “transfer from another partition” and my USB drive came right up. An hour or so later, my user account, files, settings, desktop background… everything was back to normal.

I also bought a DVI to Mini DVI adapter that works great with my external monitor. I now have 2 displays for my Mac… it has made me a lot more productive with everything. Definitely an improvement. Add the 3rd display from my Windows box, throw in Synergy and I have what could be the ultimate computer workstation.

I take it to school a few times a week and carry it around all day. Although the MacBook was heavier than I thought it was initially, it really doesn’t feel very heavy in my backpack. This thing is very useful… it is so convenient to have everything with you all the time: being able to burn a DVD for someone on the spot, school files, music, movies, photos… all available instantly by waking the computer from sleep. It’s great.

As far as usability, the keyboard is great, the key spacing isn’t as bad as I thought. The glossy display also is better than expected: the glare isn’t as bad as some pictures suggested. I have yet to run down the battery but I had 75% or so power remaining after spending an hour in Panera using WiFi last night. I typically keep it plugged in. The included power brick is worthy of praise all by itself: it’s square, with interchangeable “plugs” that allow for using a long cord or a flip-out plug for use on the go. Tangling up the wire never happens thanks to flip-out clips that you can wrap the cord around for easy storage in a bag.

Finally, his thing looks gorgeous. I was initially concerned that the black case would not be as good as white, however, it is still distinctly Apple, gets attention, and after a week of use, is more durable that I expected. (Thanks to everyone at work who helped with the color choice!)

So, these are some of my first impressions with my new notebook… and everything is good so far. I hope it stays that way!