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December 2004

Installing Oracle 9i on a Windows 2000 machine and ODBC isn't working?

Check out this article: How To Troubleshoot an ASP-to-Oracle Connectivity Problem.

My application wasn't an ASP app, but it does require the use of the Microsoft Oracle Driver's.  However whenever I tried to access the Oracle DB using said drivers I would get this message on the server:

The Oracle(tm) client and networking   components were not found. These components are supplied by Oracle Corporation   and are part of the Oracle Version 7.3 (or greater) client software   installation.

You will be unable to use this driver until these   components have been installed.


Most irksome, but the tips in the article cleared the problem up, and now I get to leave the office!  Hurrah!


The Best Four Days After Christmas Ever!

Last week Dave asked me if I had any plans for Wednesday, and since I didn't I told him no. He responded, 'You do now.' I enjoy Dave's company so it sounded good to me, so being a fairly normal person I inquired as to what said plans were. He wouldn't tell me.

Odd.

After grilling him for awhile he still wouldn't tell me, so I let it go (OK, I didn't let it go, I kept asking him every-time I spoke with him).

Julie emailed me and mentioned something about my Amazon wishlist and people purchasing things from it for me. I told her I didn't think that was going to happen; I had put it on the blog because it is a new feature and I thought the graphics it produces were pretty cool. She responded, 'Stranger things have happened.'

Odd.

Tuesday Julie said to me, 'So, I hear you have plans with David.' I replied in the affirmative and she, being a fairly normal person, inquired as to what said plans were. I said, 'Oh it is some sort of secret, but I am sure it will be mildly disappointing.' Julie wondered why in the world I would say such a thing. I espoused my feeling that many times I have been told there is a surprise so I get all worked up and it turns out to be something fairly mundane. Hence, mildly disappointing.

Odd.

Some people may have put these occurrences together, but I didn't. I am a little oblivious to things.

Fast forward to today (well, technically yesterday). Dave calls me and tells me he is on his way, but we need to stop at Julie's house because she left her cell phone in his car after they had an afternoon interlude. OK, says I.

Dave gets to my apartment and I hop into his car. Off to Julie's we go, and Dave still won't tell me where our final destination is.

I am nominated to run the phone into Julie's since Dave says we are running late and he gets caught up chatting with Julie whenever he stops by her house. This sounds about right to me, so I agree to run the phone in (I tend to enjoy avoiding all kinds of running).

I ring the bell, Julie answers (wearing a Pixies t-shirt by the way). She invites me in to see Owen's (her son) train table, which I had expressed an interest in seeing earlier. I almost told her that Dave and I didn't have time for me to stop in, but I didn't (which turned out was a good thing, but it would have been pretty funny if I had).

I walk into Julie's house and I see Hilary, and Maura. I look at Julie and she says, 'It is a surprise Christmas for you!' Then everyone says surprise, and I was, in fact, completely surprised (and not disappointed in the least).

Julie asked me if I was excited, which I was, but unfortunately I tend not to be outwardly excited so I don't know if Julie believed me (but I really was excited, Julie! Honest.).

There was all kinds of cheese and snacks to be had, and Julie and Hilary provided copious amounts of champagne (Hilary had no idea that champagne is the only alcohol I will drink, she just wanted to being champagne with her. It was quite tasty). Dinner and dessert were to be had as soon as Owen went to bed.

I was impressed and touched by the fact that they had all gathered to merrymake with me, since my Christmas wasn't all that fantastic (I couldn't go see my mother since she had to work, and it was up in the air if my bro would be able to come down, but he did so that was fun). I thought the surprise was over and we would just chat and eat for a little while, however, little did I know there were presents (hence the whole wishlist comment).

I didn't know what to say, and I still don't, but I did utter 'Thanks' fairly often, so I hope that conveyed my thanks sufficiently.

Just when I thought the surprises were over there was one last special guest left. The doorbell rang, and who should walk in by my old college chum, and frequent roomie in college, Owen (not Julie's Owen, but rather Big Owen)! Talk about unexpected! And he even had a gift for me, which was unnecessary since he did have to make the trek from Allentown to Philly, but much appreciated.

After little Owen settled in for the night dinner was had and I was informed that the food choices were complicated by my particular tastes; I still don't think I am all that picky. The dinner was delicious (except for the green beans, which I despise, but I won't mention that for fear of seeming petty). Dessert was served after some chatting, and it was equally delicious. Everyone, other than me, ate some fruit cobbler, but since I don't like fruit I was provided with a Boston Cream Pie which was very good.

After dessert we played a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit (my favorite board game of all time), and Julie and I were defeated by the combined forces of Dave, Owen, and Hilary. Maura was filled to the gills, as well as tired, so she passed out on the couch while we pursued trivia.

I should mention that frequent commenter, and old college chum, Thad was invited but due to the fact that he is in Boston he couldn't make it. Becky, of Good Grief! fame, was invited as well, but she was spending time chillin with the Amish, and couldn't make it (however she did mail a gift, which was very nice. Thanks, Becky!).

I can't think of a better way of spending an evening than with those fine people. It wasn't about the food, the presents, or the champagne; all of which were very nice in their own right, but about the people.

Thanks again folks, it meant a lot to me.

Oh, and I suppose this answers the question that was asked of me several times tonight, 'Are you going to blog about this?'

No, no I am not.


Days are now shorter

The large earthquake that caused so much destruction in Asia has also caused the planted to be slightly more 'compact,' and has the net result of quickening the Earth's spin.    More here:

The deadly Asian earthquake may have permanently accelerated the Earth's rotation -- shortening days by a fraction of a second -- and caused the planet to wobble on its axis, U.S. scientists said on Tuesday.


How to fix Mom's computer (if she is using a PC)

Scribbling gives us a good guide on fixing Mom's computer (or anyone else's for that matter).

Eleven steps!

And none of them are something that I would expect my mother to know how to do.

The one thing she doesn't mention in this guide is turning on automatic updates (though she is dealing with Win98 and I don't know if that was a feature back then, it has luckily been a long time since I have dealt with that particular OS).

My one step way to avoid most of these problems? I gave my mother an iMac.


The Pioneer Anomaly

pioneer.jpgHere is another Scott tidbit for you to consider, when I first started college I was sure I was going to major in physics and work for NASA. I still love physics, and science in general, but as I soon found out calculus sucks. So I became an english major and haven't looked back since.

It looks like there is some evidence that gravity may not be so constant:

One possibility is that invisible, so-called dark matter is holding the spacecraft back. Some cosmologists believe that dark matter exists because only 10% of the expected mass of the universe has been found. If 90% of the universe's mass and energy is invisible, maybe it could exert gravitational pull on spacecraft.

Another possibility, even more fanciful, is that invisible dimensions of space are tugging at the Pioneers. This idea has its origin in string theory, an idea that suggests we are surrounded by far more than the three dimensions we know about. Some versions of string theory suggest there may be as many as 11 dimensions, most of which are curled up and hidden from us.

As with dark matter, no hard evidence has been found proving the existence of vibrating strings far tinier than the smallest known particles.

Brings me back to 4th grade when we had to stand in front of the class and give a speech; we got to choose our topic. My topic of choice? Gravity waves.


Apple all growed up?

Hey, Eugene Munster, what is the deal? In this article about Apple suing some people for distributing a developers' preview of OS X Munster says:

"Before, they didn't have enough market share to care about things like this," said Eugene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray & Company in Minneapolis. Mr. Munster, who rates the stock as outperform, said Apple computers represent 2 percent of the global personal computer market, and that share is increasing. "With a growing market share, they're going to have to start acting like a grown-up company."

Apple was incorporated on Jan. 3rd, 1977 (source), and since I was born a little over a month later, and people consider me an adult I think Apple is all grown up.

Plus they earn billions in profits each year (as of late), produce on of the most popular electronic devices on the planet, ignited the personal computer revolution, and they have a boring Investor Relations page. Sounds like grown up stuff to me.


Nerds are unpopular?

scottinhat.jpgLast month's issue of Wired included an essay by Paul Graham entitled  Why Nerds Are Unpopular which is an expert from his book "Hackers & Painters" published by my favorite technical book outfit, O'Reilly.

Here is a little taste of what he has to say:



And that, I think, is the root of the problem. Nerds serve two masters. They want to be popular, certainly, but they want even more to be smart. And popularity is not something you can do in your spare time, not in the fiercely competitive environment of an American secondary school.

Leon Battista Alberti, arguably the archetype of the Renaissance man, writes that "no art, however minor, demands less than total dedication if you want to excel in it." I wonder if anyone in the world works harder at anything than American school kids work at popularity. Navy SEALs and neurosurgery residents seem like slackers by comparison. They occasionally take vacations; some even have hobbies. A teenager may work at being popular every waking hour, 365 days a year.

The main reason nerds are unpopular is that they have other things to think about. Their attention is drawn to books or the natural world, not fashions and parties. They're like someone trying to play soccer while balancing a glass of water on his head. Other players who can focus their whole attention on the game beat them effortlessly and wonder why they seem so incapable.

It is unquestionable that I was a nerd during most of my time in school (ok, during all of it), and I remain to this day a nerd (though I think I am more of a geek than a nerd, however for most people the terms are interchangeable).  Was I unpopular in school?

Nope.  Mind you, I wasn't the most popular kid in school, but I also wasn't mocked mercilessly by anyone; keep in mind that not only was I a nerd in school but I was the tormentors best friend, a fat nerd.

It is true that this lack of mocking might have something to do with the fact that I went to a highschool that was Nerd Mecca; our debate team was better funded than any of our sports teams (and we didn't even have a football team). I like to think there was more to it than that.

Even though I went to a nerdy highschool I was still near the top of the nerd scale, even amongst other nerds.  I love Star Trek, I was President of the Simulated Games club, and once during gym class Mr. Donodeo yelled at me, 'We're not playing the game in slow motion, McNulty!' 

That is a good thumbnail of my highschool experience, yet I wasn't unpopular, and I didn't care about how popular I may or may not have been (a trait I still have).

Does this mean I am not a nerd?  Nope, it just means that you have to be careful when you generalize.  A nerd is not a nerd is not a nerd.


The Princess Diaries

princessdiaries.jpgContinuing my anthropological study of movies of which I am not the intended audience, I just watched The Princess Diaries. I had seen the last 10 minutes of this movie somewhere in my travels, but tonight was the first time that I had seen the whole thing.

Overall, it was a cute little powder-puff of a movie. I must admit that my feelings about this movie might be clouded by my feelings for Julie Andrews. She is one of those people who I could watch eat pudding for an hour and feel entertained. Plus, I thought she was kinda hot in the Sound of Music (and I still do. Come on, a renegade singing nun? Mama mia!).

There is a cat by the name of Fat Louie in this movie, and by the end of the movie the kitty is wearing a tiny kitty crown. It doesn't get much better than that.

I need to get some hobbies or something.


Buy me a Trebuchet

hcwDown.jpgEver since I went to the Punkin Chunkin I have wanted a trebuchet of my very own.

It looks like an Eccentric Genius, with the catch phrase 'I build strange things, you buy them from me. Simple, innit?' is selling high quality, hand made trebuchets.

If there is one thing I have learned during my short stay on this little blue planet it is that I am a klutz. I like the idea of working with my hands, but every time I try to do it I mess something up. It is far more appealing to support someone else who is actually talented and doing something they seem to enjoy.

Everybody wins!


Meet the Neighbors

I don't know about you, but I don't really talk to my neighbors all that much. Maybe it is because I am from New York, and we just don't do that kinda thing, however, most of my neighbors don't go out of their way to talk to me. Could be the scowl that is permanently etched upon my face. Either way, if you aren't having luck meeting your neighbors in 'meat space,' cyber space may be your best bet. At least that is what the folks at Meet the Neighbors hope:

You are about to meet the other people who live in your building. Meet The Neighbors gives you and your building mates the tools to communicate, meetup, organize, get important local stuff done and just hang out! Meet The Neighbors lets YOU take action right where you live (anywhere in the world) to build personal, real life friendships & community with your actual neighbors. No, we're not crazy!

My building isn't listed, and I am not going to register it.


Choral Gems for 15 bucks

choralgems.gifIn an effort to diversifty my iTunes music library, and help keep Apple profitable, I just purchased the iTunes Essentials Album 'Choral Gems' (that link will open in iTunes, or just not work if you don't have iTunes).

I was going to listen to the whole thing tonight, but the Mythbusters is (are?) on, and I really like that show, so the music will have to wait.

If you have any music suggestions for me, feel free to leave them in the comments. I am on a choral kick at the moment, but you can suggest anything.


Philadelphia City Hall Tours

If there is one thing I love above everything else it is tours of historic places. I had no idea that one could tour Philadelphia's City Hall for free! Details here via philadelphia weekly online:

City Hall may just seem like a dingy monolith that's very gradually sprucing up--minus, that is, the pervasive smell of urine. Or it may just seem like just a huge annoying rock to drive around. But hear this: Philadelphia City Hall is the largest functioning municipal building in the country. On the 10-year-old free tour program, tourists, elementary school students and even some bored Philadelphians have enjoyed breathtaking views of the city. Thanks to good old government cutbacks, the last tour was scheduled to take place on Dec. 31, but recent funding relief has ensured tours will continue at least through June. From the observation deck you may feel like you're about to be peed on by William Penn (maybe that's the origin of that smell?), but with the exception of some suits who work in Liberty Place, you'll be the highest person in Philadelphia (pun probably not intended). And it'll feel good. This might be one of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of an often underappreciated metropolis, and certainly should be penciled in on the to-do-immediately list before our great city completely runs out of money and John Street starts selling his clothes to Buffalo Exchange. (Kate Clifford)

And here is the word from the official site:

Tours inside City Hall are given Monday through Friday at 12:30 pm and begin at the Tour Information Center. The tours last approximately 1.5 hrs to 2 hrs.

Tower Tours are given from 9:30 am to 4:15 pm, however until noon (12 pm) the tours are reserved specifically for school groups. Timed tickets are available at the Tour Information Center.

Plus you can take a virtual tour, but seeing as how I live a few blocks from this imposing edifice I think I will take the real tour.

The only thing I have to decide is if I want to take a day off of work to do it, or just go in early one day this week, and then leave early (since no one will be in anyway).

Either way, I will take plenty of pictures, and post them for your viewing pleasure.


There is no telling what technical evangelists will like (or link)

I don't blog for the money, the women, or the looks of envy that I get from fellow Philadelphians as they recognize that they are standing next to Philadelphia's Most Influential Blogger™.

I don't really know why I blog, but I do. And occasionally I get linked to by an A List blogger. Yesterday Robert Scoble, Microsoft Geek Blogger, one of the most influential tech bloggers linked to my movie review of Holes (I didn't like it, and I still don't. It sucked).

I have no idea why he chose that post (I do think it was entertaining), however that is neither here nor there. What is interesting are the comments that people posted on Scobie's post about my post (confused yet?).

Here is a sampling:

Yeah Robert, that makes sense, just believe whatever you believe in blogs. They're soooooo reliable. In short, "Blankbaby" is nuts. You can read overall opinion here (Ebert's is very good, if you're looking for one): http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1121821-holes/)

and

Besides, this movie is two years old, some ‘johnny-come-lately’, souring graping on a blog (when he is not even the target market), is not exactly my definition of “public service”.

I was just expressing my opinion about a silly kid's movie that I watched because I had nothing else to do and it was on. Imagine if I ever post about something worthy of discussion?

Ahh, the people on the Internets are a wacky bunch, and that is why I fit in so well.

God bless us, everyone.


Google Doodle

googleburn.jpgHave you ever wondered about those little cartoons that appear on Google every once and awhile? Well, they are called 'Google Doodles' and the image you see here is the first one ever posted to Google (the founders put it up because they were attending Burning Man).

If you would like to find out more about them Google Blog has the lowdown on them:

My name is Dennis, and I'm the guy who draws the Google doodles. But the doodle tradition started here before I did. The first doodle was produced by (who else?) Larry and Sergey, who, when they attended the Burning Man festival in summer 1999, put a little stick figure on the home page logo in case the site crashed and someone wanted to know why nobody was answering the phone. By the time I began an internship here in the summer of 2000, the company was producing doodles on a regular basis. At the time I was a Stanford undergrad majoring in art and computer science, and, although I hadn't been hired to do anything remotely related to logo design, I eventually stumbled into my first doodle gig (Bastille Day, July 2000, for which I did a fairly boring flag motif).

And if you aren't that interested in the story behind the Google Doodles, but you would like to see them all, check out this page.


Indeed.com one search. all jobs.

I'm not looking for a job (or am I? No, I'm not). If I were looking for a job I would use this cool new job search engine Indeed.com.

You enter a job title, keyword, or company and the city, state or zip and then hit 'Find Jobs.' Simple as that.

The cool thing is that you can subscribe to the search results via RSS, and get the latest updates in your news reader of choice (I like NetNewsWire).

And they even have a blog. In this day and age, I find it odd if a new, small company DOESN'T have a blog. It is just common sense, us geeks expect it.

Found via Scobie.


Holes

holes.jpgI just spent 2 hours of my life watching Holes, that time would have been better spent in a deep, dark hole in the middle of the desert.

Under no circumstances should anyone watch this 'movie.' The acting is bad, the premise is silly, and it just isn't interesting.

Appropriately enough one of the characters in the movie is named 'barfbag,' which is what you will need if you sit though this horrifically bad movie.


Collateral

collateral.jpgYesterday was just a day full of movies! I also watched Collateral starring Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise. Let me just start off by saying I am not a fan of little Tommy Cruise, I find him annoying and often cast in roles where he is supposed to be uber-cool.

This is one of those kinds of movies. Cruise is a hit-man who hijacks Jamie Foxx's cab and forces him to drive him from hit to hit, much to Jamie's consternation.

The script was originally set in New York, but the director decided to move it to LA, so there are a few things about the script that make little sense (there is a big emphasis on LA's subway, which while it does exist it isn't as vast or well used as the movie suggests).

The final chase scene is fairly exciting, but the movie peters out and finally disappoints.

I'd pass on this one.


Shi mian mai fu (or, 'House of Flying Daggers')

housedaggers.jpgAs I mentioned before, I had a short day at work yesterday, and I got it in my mind to go see a movie, specifically 'House of Flying Daggers.' Having recently seen Hero, it made sense to see another Chinese movie.

After work, it was off to the Ritz for my movie. This is the first movie I have ever gone to alone, and it probably won't be the last. I am not sure why I have avoided lone movie going; if you think about it movie going is a perfect activity to do alone. You go to a big dark room and sit quietly for a few hours. Why do that in a group? So you can enjoy not talking to each other?

Anyway, I purchased some popcorn and a Sprite (thought I should have gotten a Dr. Pepper), and settled in for some movie watching. I was early so I read a little and watched as people trickled in.

There were quiet a few people there by themselves, further proving my theory about movies.

House of Flying Daggers was visually stunning, if a bit slow in parts (I admit that I nodded off for a few moments during the film). The fights were, of course, well worth the price of admission. They really are more liking dance routines than fights, but they are a lot of fun to watch.

Unlike Hero this movie suffered from a pretty lame script (which Julie warned me about before I went), and some of the acting was over the top.

The climactic fight at the end of the movie is well worth waiting for. Overall, I would say that House of Flying Daggers is a fine matinee movie.


This is why I love to blog

Patricia Storms of BookLust, frequent commenter  and Friend of Blankbaby (or FoB as it is known in the trades), is an extermely talented cartoonist.   When she offered to draw something for me, free of charge mind you, I jumped at the offer.

It is true what they say, 'You get what you pay for,' since this drawing is truly priceless:

Webblankbaby

It is humorous and slighty creepy all at the same time, in other words perfect for this blog.

Thanks, Patricia, you are now officialy my favorite Canadian, sorry former Prime Minister of Canada The Right Hon. Martin Brian Mulroney P.C., C.C., B.A., LL.L, but you are now second on the list.


Do I have Asperger Syndrome?

Let's look at some of the symptoms of Asperger Syndrome:

  1. difficulties with transitions or changes and prefer sameness
  2. They often have obsessive routines and may be preoccupied with a particular subject of interest.
  3. They have a great deal of difficulty reading nonverbal cues (body language) and very often the individual with AS has difficulty determining proper body space.
  4. Because of their high degree of functionality and their naiveté, those with AS are often viewed as eccentric or odd and can easily become victims of teasing and bullying.

Let's take each one by one (and these are just 4 points I pulled from the website, this is not meant to be a 'Do it yourself Asperger Syndrome Diagnostic,' even though that is exactly what I am doing with it).

1. I do enjoy sameness, perhaps more than I should.  I pretty much have chinese food every Thursday and have for years.  And since I moved to Philly I have ordered it from the same place every time.  When I walk in they know exactly what I want (which I find charming, but other may take it as a sign that I have entered a rut).  I also enjoy eating pretty much the same rotation of things for lunch (which Julie once commented upon and got the patented 'Scott Glare of Dread,' but I was having a bad day).

However, I had chinese food on Wednesday night, and it was from a different restaurant, where they didn't know me from Adam.

So I would say, a resounding yes for the first one.

2. I do tend to get quickly obsessive about very strange things, but the obsessions do change, so I suppose that is good. We can also see from my thoughts on 1 that I like routines.

A yes for the second one.

3. I have great difficulty reading most people.  I get the obvious things, but it is the nuances that I don't notice.  I often feel as if I have a significantly different world view than most people (but I imagine everyone feels that way).  I have no problem with proper body spaces though, in fact I may over compensate for my lack of being able to read signs by avoiding physical contact (i.e. random hugging of people).

Sheesh, have I got problems, or what?  I would say borderline yes to number three.

4. Bullying has never been a problem for me, even in grade school.  You might imagine that I was a fat kid growing up, and you would be correct.  Aren't children mean to fat kids?  Not to me, but it might have something to do with the fact that I am very adept at mocking people, when I need to be.  My rapier like wit is feared by many, and worshiped by some tribes in the Amazon.

Now, I don't know if people think I am odd or eccentric, but I suppose they do, so this is another borderline yes, but very close to no.

So do I have Asperger Syndrome?

I'm not a doctor, but it seems to me that Asperger Syndrome is rather vague, sort of like ADD but be that as it may, if I do in fact 'suffer' from it, it is very mild.  Does it really matter?  Am I going to go to my Primary Care Doc and ask for a battery of tests?  Nope, I just thought it would make a fun blog post.

If you would like more information about Asperger Syndrome check out the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

UPDATE:  Several people are wondering if I seriously think I suffer from Asperger's; I don't.  I just thought it would be an interesting topic to post about because a lot of geeks exhibit some of the symptoms, of course not at the level where it is a problem (for the most part).