Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Straight-Through-In-Alpha-Order-Music-Listening Experiment Update, Volume 2

Well here we are almost another month later already. Christmas is around the corner. Time for another update on the music experiment.

Frankly, I'm starting to wonder if I can stick to it. I've only made it part way through the C's so far, having listened to about 1150 songs of now nearly 7800. I still have a lot of C's to go - about 200 left still.

The C's hasn't been all bad. Of course, some of my wife's Celine Dion sneaked into my list somehow. I had to expunge it with extreme prejudice. But Collective Soul - ah, Collective Soul, one of the best bands ever. That has been a highlight of this experience so far. And don't forget Coldplay, Counting Crows, Creed, The Cult, The Cars, and Christina Aguilera - that naughty little tart with the incredible singing voice. Go ahead - make fun. I really do listen because of the voice. Although I had to suffer through a lot of her early bubble-gum pop garbage.

Anyway, like I said, there's a lot to like in the C's and it has been a pretty good ride. But at the current rate I'm not going to be done for over a year. Do I have the commitment to stick to this? And for what exactly?

No. No. I am going to stick to it. If I do well, I should be through Def Leppard in a month - and if I do really well, maybe through all the D's. Dream Theater is in there though, and that's like 200 songs, along with Dokken. D's are also looking pretty good, but I can I finish the D's in one month? Doubtful.

(Image credit: wireshark.com via imdb.com)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Essential Albums: Queensryche "Operation: Mindcrime"

Artist: Queensryche
Album: Operation: Mindcrime
Year: 1988
Best Song You've Probably Heard: Eyes of a Stranger
Best Song You Might Not Have Heard: Suite Sister Mary

Wow. Operation: Mindcrime. If they ever put a heavy metal album in the Louvre, this will be it without question.

There's a lot of superlatives that apply to Operation: Mindcrime, and it might take a while to get around to them all, but here's a few:
  • Best Concept Album Ever
  • Best Rock Opera Ever
  • Most Artistic Heavy Metal Album Ever
  • Most Artistic Mainstream Album of the past 30 years
Of course, that's just my opinion, but my opinion is the only one that really matters here.

I'm not going to go into the back story of Operation: Mindcrime as it is amply documented in many places all over the Internet. Suffice it to say, the story is incredibly dramatic, insightful and even introspective. Without intending to leave out the other incredible Rychers, Geoff Tate is absolutely stunning in his heartfelt vocals, and the indispensable Chris DeGarmo sets the mood of every song with his incredible guitar work. Sometime when you have an hour alone at home or on a roadtrip, just crank Operation: Mindcrime and listen to it good and loud, uninterrupted, all the way through from start to finish. Listen to the story and put yourself in the place of Nikki. Then see if you can keep tears from your eyes as Nikki laments what has become of his life in "Eyes of a Stranger." Good luck with that.

By the way I forgot at least one superlative:
  • Best Rock Concert Ever
And on that note, I'm going to cheat a bit here and include Operation: LIVEcrime, the live recording of Operation: Mindcrime in concert, in its entirety, during the "Empire" tour. Queensryche in concert is simply amazing - one of the best live acts I've ever seen, and that's some pretty lofty company.

This album was originally released in 1991 and was incredibly exclusive and hard to find just a few years later. Fortunately Queensryche re-released it in about 2001. The live album is incredible, possibly better than the studio version. Just thinking of the incredible ovation at the end of "Eyes of a Stranger" gives me chills.

With the inclusion of this album, I have to add another best song, "Roads to Madness." The live version of this song is just raw power, and it is almost as though that song was meant to be on Mindcrime anyway - it fits right in to the story.

(Image Credits: amazon.com)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Who Will Win The Bowl Games

So, it is time for the predictions as to who will win the bowl games. At least the ones that matter. Not all bowl games matter. For example, bowl games like the Sugar, Orange, and Toilet matter. Bowl games like the EagleBank and Super do not. So here we go:

  • Las Vegas Bowl - Whichever team Max Hall plays for. Yes, I know he attends BYU. But he sometimes plays for another team, like Utah.

  • Poinsettia Bowl - TCU. Has Boise State really played anybody good this year?

  • Car Care Bowl - West Virginia.

  • Citrus Bowl - Florida State. Wisconsin was an also-ran in the Big 10, which is really not much of a compliment at all.

  • Emerald Bowl - Cal. Home field advantage makes the difference.

  • Alamo Bowl - Missouri. The Big 12 is to the Big 10 as Mozy is to Wal-Mart. Awesome vs. not awesome. Moving along.

  • Holiday Bowl - Oklahoma State. The fourth-best team in the Big 12 South could be the conference champion in almost any other conference.

  • Sun Bowl - Pitt. Oregon State continues to lament what could have been and loses again.

  • Chick-Fil-A Bowl - Georgia Tech. This game is a tale of two teams going different directions. GT has the momentum.

  • Citrus Bowl - Georgia. SEC vs. Big 10? Please.
  • Rose Bowl - Penn State. Eh. Who knows if they will actually win. Maybe karma makes a difference in this one, in favor of good ol' Joe.

  • Orange Bowl - Cincinnati.

  • Cotton Bowl - Texas Tech. Not taking anything away from Ole Miss, but them beating Florida took a bit of luck. They wouldn't do it today. And they won't beat Texas Tech either.

  • Liberty Bowl - Kentucky. C'mon. East Carolina isn't even a real state.

  • Sugar Bowl - Alabama. Most Utah fans think the Utes will win. They have two reasons for believing this. One is that they are completely delusional. The other is that they haven't watched any other college teams besides Utah this year. Hey, I'd love Utah to win. I'd also like to win the lottery. But, like winning the lottery, it just ain't gonna happen.

  • Fiesta Bowl - Texas. Texas beat Oklahoma this year. Ohio State beat, uh, Michigan.

  • National Championship - Florida. This is a close, close game. Two really awesome teams. Florida's raw speed makes the difference.

  • Toilet Bowl - In this marquis matchup between Western Kentucky and North Dakota Culinary & Drama College, ND C&D wins in a landslide for the third consecutive year. It's a bit sad, really - Utah State did so well this year that they did not get to go to this game again. Perhaps that is why they fired their head coach.
What do you think? Do you have a different opinion on these games? I'd really love* to hear about it. E-mail your opinions to i.am.a.doofus@i.disagree.with.the.halfbadboy.com and let me know if you hear back.

* not really

Friday, December 05, 2008

We Are Jerks. Or, How the Confrontation Went, in Alternate-Reality-Land

Ah, MLMs. Golden opportunities for average joes like you and me to work like crazy to make other people rich. But other than that, not much at all like a legitimate business.

The curse of Mozy is to rent office space next door to an MLM company. Granted, this is not too difficult in Utah County, MLM capital of the world. Still, it makes one wonder what evil the founder may have done for Mozy to be cursed so.

Us on the bottom floor of the new Mozy building have the distinct privilege of sharing the floor with an MLM company, whose name will be withheld here synergistically to protect them, where "privilege" is like unto the privilege that Braveheart experienced to be disemboweled in public as penitence for his sin of wanting to be left alone, much like us.

MLMs are built upon the premise of getting rich without having to do anything. Everything is about appearance and affluence with MLMs. As I type we've got people pulling up in their rented black Mercedes or BMW to come in to yet another open house and try to impress each other. These guys act like they own the whole building, because that is part of the image they are trying to put forth. They are right this moment holding yet another open house which consumes the entire main entrance and main entrance foyer. This is done without any announcement, let alone request for permission, to the other tenants in the building - certainly not those of us on the main floor who share the foyer, entryway, elevators and bathroom. In fact, they are the smallest tenant in the building, but they act like they own the whole thing.

So it is really no surprise, especially to those familiar with Mozy culture, that someone finally had enough the other day and posted a little 8 1/2 x 11 picture comparing regular MLM-style magic juice with "Mozy juice" in such manner that the people across the hall could read it, if they walked up close enough. It is true that the sign made reference to magic juice, special berries picked by monk children high in the mountains in the early morning, and pyramid schemes in general. It did not mention our neighbors by name or necessarily even imply that they were related at all.
Actually the sign is pretty funny.

So I walk out the door for the purpose of conducting natural personal waste removal, and I'm accosted by a representative of said neighbor, demanding in polite tone that I take the sign down. So from here on, I'm going to describe the confrontation, which proves that we are jerks, although I do freely admit that I may be making some of this up.

Neighbor Enraged, Requiring Discipline: Hey, I'd like you to please take that sign down, it is offensive.
Me: What sign?
NERD: (pointing to the sign) That sign you guys posted attacking our company. It is disrespectful and offensive. I don't know why you would put something like that up, and I would like you to take it down.
Me: Well, I wasn't even aware that the sign was there until just now. I don't even know what it says.
NERD: It is offensive to our company. I would take it down myself, but I can't because it is taped on the other side of a window and the door is locked.
Me: So, if the door wasn't locked, you would just walk into our part of the building and take it down? You believe that if the sign is offensive that gives you the right to walk into our part of the building, where we are creating and discussing trade secrets and intellectual property, and take the sign down because you don't like it?
NERD: Well, I would just like you to take it down.
Me: You have a pretty big display of stuff inside your office doors. Some of those displays might be offensive to me. Should I just walk in there and take down whatever offends me also?
NERD: No. Alright. I wouldn't just walk into your part of the building. Will you take the sign down please?
Me: Well, I didn't put the sign up. It would be presumptuous of me to assume I can just take it down without consulting with whomever put it up in the first place.
NERD: You mean you can't just take it down?
Me: No. I can communicate your temper tantrum within the company and see if whomever put it up wants to remove it.
NERD: I don't see why you can't just remove it. It's disrespectful.
Me: You know what is disrespectful? You guys, holding your big open houses in the foyer of the building all the time. You invite people in, you take over the entryway and the entire lobby, which are all public areas of the building, but you treat them like they belong only to you. You make it so we don't feel comfortable even using our own restroom or walking out our own front door.
NERD: Well, I'm really sorry we do that.
Me: No offense, but you are apologizing as a part of trying to get me to do you a favor. I have no way of knowing whether you really mean it or not.
NERD: I still don't understand why you won't just take the sign down.
Me: For reasons that I cannot explain and are really none of your business anyway, I'm not at liberty to just take down a sign that I didn't put up.
NERD: But that sign is offensive!
Me: That's an opinion. What about the sign exactly is offensive to you?
NERD: Well, it is making fun of our product.
Me: (reading briefly) It says here it is talking about "magic juice."
NERD: Yes, exactly.
Me: Do you sell magic juice?
NERD: No! Calling it "magic" is derogatory. We sell fruit-juice for health-conscious individuals that conveys special healing powers.
Me: How much is this juice?
NERD: $42.25 per bottle.
Me: So, your juice is not magic juice?
Me: Okay. So it sounds to me like you charge over $40 for regular fruit juice, and that this sign doesn't apply to you. This sign is talking about magic juice. But you just sell atrociously expensive regular juice.
NERD: Um..
Me: Right?
NERD: Well, there's a phrase in that sign that talks about pyramid schemes designed to prey upon the naive and greedy.
Me: So?
NERD: That offends me.
Me: Is your business a pyramid scheme that preys upon the naive and greedy?
NERD: That's beside the point.
Me: No, it is the point. Either that phrase describes your business factually, or it doesn't describe you at all. Either way, you should not be offended.
NERD: Well, it IS offensive!
Me: Look, a statement saying that pyramid schemes prey upon the naive and greedy is a fact. it is like someone telling me, "Matt, your hair is going gray." That is a fact. There's no reason to be offended by that. If someone were to tell me, "Matt, your hair is turning pink," that also is not offensive, because it is not true. Either way, it's not offensive.
NERD: But...
Me: I think what you find "offensive" is not really offensive, but disconcerting. You're afraid the naive and greedy people that come in here to do business with you will find out the truth about your business. You're afraid they will find out they have been deceived, and that in fact the whole business model is based upon deceiving people.
NERD: (threatening) Now look here. You'd better get in there and take down that sign, or...

Just then, as he started vigorously towards me, I snapped my fingers. Around the corner walked a half-dozen large, smelly, long-haired guys dressed in black slacks, black shoes, white socks, and black Apple t-shirts. Yes - the Black Ponytails. Mice and keyboards started flailing about as the severe beatings began.

Suffice it to say, I thought we had an understanding. The broken tiles in the foyer were replaced this morning. Yet, today another open-house was held in the foyer. I may need to call those friends of mine again...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Quarterbacks Are Football Players Too, I Maintain

So far this weekend I've seen at least two different occasions I've seen this happen:  Quarterback drops back to pass - defensive lineman breaks free and closes in on the quarterback for the sack - quarterback executes a pump-fake - as the defensive lineman is wrapping up he notices the pump-fake and releases, thinking the quarterback has passed the ball - quarterback actually keeps the ball and completes a play for positive yardage, having avoided a sack - defensive lineman is left in the backfield shaking his head for the sack he almost had.

In fact, in one case this weekend, the lineman had the sack in the opponent's endzone - a certain safety imminent.  But he released the quarterback, who ended up making a play for positive yardage.  I am almost 100% sure that in both of these situations, the defensive lineman released because he was afraid of getting a personal foul for roughing the passer.

This is football we're talking about here.  Last I heard, it was a contact sport.  People get blocked, hit, and tackled.  It's a rough sport for tough guys.  This whole protecting the quarterback thing has gotten way out of hand.

Even Troy Aikman agrees with me.  He expressed this opinion recently during a game broadcast - that the rules to protect the quarterback are being too strictly enforced.  Now I like Troy Aikman, but that dude was a pretty-boy quarterback if there ever was one.  If he thinks the rule is too strict, then it is really too strict.

When it is having an affect on the game, like in the cases I mentioned this past weekend, it is way too much.  I know that pretty much all the decision-makers in both the NFL and in NCAA football read this blog all the time, looking for advice.  So here it is:  Let's set the expectation that quarterbacks have to be football players.  They have to be able to take a hit.  Let's keep protecting them, like other players, from unnecessary roughness, but let's stop taking special extremes to protect these guys, for the sake of a decent game.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Essential Albums: Alice in Chains "Jar of Flies"

Artist: Alice in Chains
Album: Jar of Flies
Year: 1994
Best Song You've Probably Heard: I Stay Away
Best Song You Might Not Have Heard: Rotten Apple

One day, years ago when I was living in Colorado, my old roommate Curtis called me from Atlanta to tell me that I needed to go and buy this album right away. For some odd reason I had strongly resisted the grunge movement during college so I never really had that collegiate-exploring-music time, a fact that I rather lament today. So I didn't already have any Alice in Chains music prior to Curtis's phone call. However, I took Curtis's advice and bought "Jar of Flies" soon thereafter. After all, Curtis also recommended that I read "Starship Troopers," so his advice carries merit to be sure.

"Jar of Flies" is what you get when great musicians cut loose to see what they are really, truly capable of, without restricting themselves to a genre. It is a true masterpiece. I took a stab at the song you might have heard, but the truth of it is, probably you've either heard the whole thing, because you own it already, or you haven't heard any of it.

The moods Jerry Cantrell can create with guitar are really incredible, but what Alice in Chains does best is harmony. They are able to come up with the most amazing harmony patterns that sound both unexpected and logical at the same time. Witness "Rotten Apple" or "No Excuses" to see what I mean.

Alice in Chains is a grunge band, but "Jar of Flies" is not really a grunge album - just seven songs worth of great music, and one I consider a definite must-have.

(Image credit: Amazon.com)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Straight-Through-In-Alpha-Order-Music-Listening Experiment Update

So about a month ago I blogged about managing my MP3 collection, and at that same time I decided I should embark upon a journey wherein I would listen to my entire collection straight through, sorted in alphabetical order by band name and then album name. I've tweeted my status every so often, but probably most of you don't read my tweets, because your life is not completely lame.

So I thought I should let everyone know that after a month of listening to music at work, I've managed to make it through the A's and B's. Some people have asked, "Matt, how long do you think this is going to take?" And I've blindly answered, "Probably six or seven months." But so far it is looking a bit more like ten months, since I'm at about 700 songs of about 7150, give or take.

But, make no mistake, I simply cannot capture in words how much tremendous fun this experience is! WHOOOO-HOOOOOOO!!

Some other faithful readers have also asked me the following question: "Whoa, Matt. You are freaking awesome." To which I reply, "Thank you. However, I must point out that that is not a question."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

EMC Forms Decho

EMC has created a new subsidiary company, named Decho. The new company was created from Mozy and Pi, so I'm a part of this new company. The name "decho" is derived from "digital echo," referring to your cloud-stored data as "your digital echo" in the cloud. Decho is a cloud-computing company.

So, Matt. What do you think of the new name?

Decho should be a really fun new venture. The competition is formidable - Google, Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, Apple - in fact, formidable is a bit of an understatement. But I do really believe that there is a market for a platform-neutral cloud computing solution that makes its money by keeping your data safe, secure, available, and private, and not by mining your data for other profit ventures.
I'm on the Decho train. I've done this ride before, and I have no reason to think anything other than that this will be at least as successful as the last fully-owned-subsidiary-spinout company I was a part of before in my career, named Volera.

Yes. What about the name?

Well, Mozy is already a very successful product. We have over 1 million customers, as I understand it, and we're continuing to grow.

Alright, but let's talk about Decho. What about the new name?

Yes, Mozy is a great place to work. We're in a brand new building, there are many very cool people there, and even Alen Peacock works there. We have our own Rock Band setup on a high-definition TV in the breakroom, which is generally stocked with a variety of snacks. And it is great to work on a product that you know is being used by people all over the world - and should be used by pretty much everyone.

The name! What about the name?

Mozy's technology is truly incredible. The backups happen pretty much automatically. The data is stored in a very safe and very secure fashion. You get unlimited backup for only $4.95 a month. What's not to like?

I'm asking about the name. What do you think of the name?

I really like the name. Mozy is a nice, short word, that means nothing, is hard to pronounce wrong, and just eminates the awesome. I'm totally on board the Decho train.

Not the Mozy name. The Decho name. What is your opinion of the name?

Err, what? What was that? Uh ... ok, sorry, I have to go now.

Programmers are Typists - And More

After reading Jeff Atwood's blog post "We Are Typists First, Programmers Second" on Coding Horror, I thought I'd better go see what my typing speed was.

I took the same online typing test that Jeff Atwood took, and managed to beat him:

We'd kinda hope that someone who writes software for a living could type with a reasonable speed. I'm curious to know if my mom, who types as part of her profession but is a non-programmer, could beat me.

Even more, I'm curious to know what my typing speed is when writing code. If you were to do a test like that, "mistakes" could be calculated by the number of syntax errors your code generates if you try to compile/run it. However, I'm not sure what a "word" would be, in calculating words per minute.

Surely your familiarity with the language would make a difference in your "speed." What I find a bit interesting about this discussion is that your typing speed in this case does not necessarily equate to your delivery speed.

For example, if you, like much of the computing world, are a Javahead, in my opinion you have a bit of baggage to overcome in order to attain a reasonable delivery speed. Java's mantra seems to be, "Why do something in one step when it can be done in two - or five?" Thus if you are a Java programmer, you've got some verbosity to overcome in order to attain productivity. Fast typing speed matters for you.

On the other hand, if you are a bit more sane and prefer a language like Python, the language is actually helping you out here. It is so easy to arrive at functional code in Python that perhaps the language makes up for typing shortcomings that a programmer might have.

What about a language like C? C is admittedly terse, but it doesn't do a lot for you because it is comparatively low-level. If you don't have libraries in hand to do what you need, writing them yourself kinda removes any advantage you may have gained because of the terseness of the language. Of course C is excellent based on other factors.

I do agree with the post though - typing is important to programmers. It is important for an additional reason - and that is because good software engineers should be expected to generate documentation - design documents, API documents, test cases, and SDK documents like tutorials and explanations of sample code. In short, there's a lot more typing to be done in a software engineer's job than just the typing of code.

Now, many of you are asking, so what does it mean if you type nearly 90 words per minute AND are not handicapped by a blind adoration for Java? What if you are a fast typist AND you prefer Python?
Well! That describes me quite clearly! And apparently, it means little. Sorry.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

You Too Can Be A Formula One Steward!

In Formula One, it is apparently a requirement to change the rules every single year, in a substantial fashion, and also to provide levity and general entertainment for those of us who follow Formula One in spite of the silly governing body. I can't find any actual rule that supports this assertion; I only am claiming that it is a requirement by observation over time.

2009 is no exception, and the FIA has already released some of the new rules. One of my favorites has to do with the qualifications for stewards - effectively the equivalent of referees or officials. It says:
Any national steward participating who is officiating for the first time will be required to ‘observe’ a minimum of one Grand Prix prior to their event.

Wow. I would have thought it would require a little bit more familiarity with the sport than that. But apparently, if you have watched a Grand Prix race before in your lifetime, you qualify to be a Formula One steward. Excellent! This should help matters significantly.

I can imagine a similar rule in the NFL rulebook:
Any referee who is officiating for the first time will be required to 'observe' a minimum of one football game prior to their event.
That's right! We've had it with these referees who have never seen a football game before! From now on, we will only let people be referees if they have seen an actual football game before, at least one football game, sometime in their life!

New MacBook Pro - Mozy Loves Me

Mozy loves me. She bought me a present. I anxiously opened it, and when I looked inside the first thing I saw was "Designed by Apple in California."

Yes, Mozy bought me a new MacBook Pro. Like I said, Mozy loves me. It is obvious that she wants my body, totally.

So I'm setting up the new MacBook as I speak - er, type. I'm borrowing another MacBook to do this blog posting, because I cannot bear the thought of sitting here waiting without being able to use either my new MacBook Pro or my Mac Pro workstation while the Migration Assistant is transferring files:

As you can see, I still have over an hour to wait. Anyone who knows me knows I get bored so easily that there is no way I can wait that long. So I'm borrowing this other laptop in the meantime.

By the way, did you know that the new MacBook Pro bodies are made with a single piece of aluminum? It's true. These are naturally occurring chunks of aluminum mined straight out of the ground in the shape of a laptop. They are very rare; it is no wonder Apple had to wait so long to produce laptops this way. Anyway, each should be considered a treasure, because who knows how many naturally-occurring laptop-shaped pieces of aluminum there are in the world - certainly the supply is limited.

However, the truly best part about this gift is that I should be able to avoid run-ins with the Black Ponytails next year at WWDC, since in reality I just borrowed that other MacBook long enough to get those guys off my back and spare my own life.

Yes, it is obvious, Mozy is totally in love with me. I'm holding out, though. I've got hand in this relationship. I'm holding out for an iPhone. I'm not ready to commit to a steady relationship, but if she really and truly loves me, she'll buy me an iPhone, and then it might be time to start "going steady," if you know what I mean.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Mozy Commercials

The new Mozy commercials are on YouTube now, and I think they are pretty great. Nicely done iJustine.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Mozy's New Office

Here at Mozy we just moved to a new office location, about one mile south of where we used to be, which is closer to home. So every day I drive about two minutes less than I used to - hooray!

Actually we moved a few weeks ago. The last time this happened to me was when I worked at Volera, when we moved from Novell Provo campus to a new Volera building right about spin-off time. Then a week after Volera moved, they laid off 10% of the workforce. So I thought maybe I should wait to blog about the move. Then I remembered, "Wait a minute! Volera sucked! Mozy doesn't suck - Mozy is awesome!" Fear abated.*

Anyway, the new digs are great, and I was committed to not be so superficial as to allow the nicer new building to affect my morale, but I failed. I believe it now - a nicer environment really can help make your employees happier.

So when you walk into Mozy's front door, this is what you see.
We rent office space in this building along with a couple of other tenants. The Mozy lobby is actually on the second floor. Take the elevators ahead at the right to get there. But my office is just through those doors on the left. Mozy rents about 1/3 of the building.
What is to the right? I'm sorry but I cannot say. It isn't because it is a secret - it is because I refuse to promote them out of principle. The Mozy curse is that we must always rent office space next door to an MLM company, which is not that hard to do in Utah county. Anyway, I don't really want to talk about it, it is a bit annoying and embarrassing.

Here is the Mozy lobby, upstairs on the second floor. Walk through that door to get to the receptionist's desk. She knows everything.

Conference rooms at Mozy are named after famous superheroes, like Gambit, whoever that is. Also notice the world's longest whiteboard. That's right - here at Mozy we are the current world record holders for "world's longest whiteboard." If I remember correctly, it is somewhere around 787,500 feet long.

One thing you may not have known before - the world famous Alen Peacock works for Mozy. That alone should convince you to sign up. As proof I present this photo of Alen Peacock in action:

Finally, a snapshot of my office. I mean, cubicle.
These, we are told, are some of the nicest cubicles money can buy. To which I say, "Yes, but they are still cubicles." But I do have a hard time complaining about the 8-core Mac Pro, 24" widescreen monitor, or the Herman Miller Celle chair. Likewise, it is hard to complain about the three Ferraris to the left or the awesome Skullcandy Skullcrusher headphones. Of course, all that stuff belongs to me anyway.

*I wasn't really worried about Mozy, I was just kidding around. I don't speak on behalf of Mozy, I just think it is a great place to work. All that stuff was just a joke. Except the part about Volera.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trying To Convice Myself That Ferrari != Happiness

It is said that possessions alone do not make you happy. This is true; sometimes you find the happiness through other people's possessions instead.

Another common belief about money is that the love of money is the root of all evil. This is also true - you should not love your money.

What you should do is give your money to Ferrari, in exchange for an F430. Or, make friends with someone who has a Ferrari, so their possessions can make you happy instead.

If you are like me, and you just can't find anyone with a Ferrari to be friends with (or, can't hide the superficiality of pretending to want to be friends with someone who has one already), the next best thing is to make friends with someone like Kyle who has a friend that will loan him his Ferrari F430 for the day in order to help Kyle complete his Halloween costume of "a successful person."

And then, of course, you have to be selected for a ride. Gratefully Kyle stopped by my cube first thing after he got to work this morning and asked if I wanted to go for a ride. When I looked at him, he showed the Ferrari key, completing the thought. A ride in a Ferrari? Is there really any other answer to that question than an emphatic "Of course!"?

When I walked outside this is what I found - a beautiful silver-gray Ferrari F430 Spider:

We got in, carefully, and gingerly - getting in is a bit of a feat, especially if you are 6'2". Kyle inserted the key, then pressed the starter button and that wonderful 480hp Ferrari V8 roared to life. We slowly pulled out of the parking lot here at Mozy and then onto the freeway.

If I had one of these, I might just drive it onto the freeway all day long, just pulling off so I could pull back on again.

This car is incredible. I must have said that ten times during the drive. The seats were incredibly comfortable; the side bolsters securely hold you in place, so much so that when going through corners you don't even feel the lateral g forces. The car is firmly planted on the road with no body roll through corners. And hearing that Ferrari V8 climb through the gears as you click them off with the paddle shifter - wow.

We cruised along the freeway at what felt like a crawl but was actually around 80 mph.

If you look closely you can see that we are well below the 8500 rpm redline, but at near redline for most normal cars. The engine sounds so nice you just can't think of shifting to a lower gear.

Oh, that black rectangle in the dash, pictured in the lower right corner? Yeah, that is the stereo. You don't really use that thing in a Ferrari - it muffles the sound system in back, pictured here:

You can see the cool air ducts in this rear view mirror shot at speed, and even some of the jealous people around us on the freeway. When you are in a Ferrari, everyone else on the road is jealous.

We're doing about 90 here, hoping to not find any cops. If I had this car, I don't know how I would possibly avoid getting a ticket. It is so easy to take it up over 90; this car gets there before you know it, without even thinking about it. And it doesn't even feel like you are going fast, other than the fact that you are blowing by everyone else on the road.

After leaving the freeway we went down into town to return to work via this nice curvy road called Pleasant Grove Boulevard. Speed limit on Pleasant Grove Boulevard is 40. We were taking those curves at 80 without even thinking about it. It didn't even feel like we were pushing it at all. Simply amazing.

Um, yeah. That plaque says "28 Formula 1 World Titles."

I didn't get to drive this car myself. Oh, I wanted to. But it wasn't loaned to me, it was loaned to Kyle. There's no way I'd even ask. Besides, even just getting to ride in it was awesome, and enough.
Still, here's a picture of me wearing a Ferrari. I think it looks pretty good on me.

That does it. Someday, someday...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

No More Caden Hadleys?

Racer X (the magazine, not the shred metal band) ran a press release from KTM that sadly announces the demise of the KTM Junior Supercross Challenge. I think this is too bad; I personally have quite enjoyed watching these little kids race the tracks that would kill me if I tried to ride them. I even quickly forgave them for deluding me into thinking that I, too, could jump a double. The logic went, "Sheesh, if a 9 year old can do this on a KTM 50, I should be able to do this on my KX 250 no problem!" And seconds later, my collarbone was broken.

But those guys were nothing compared to Caden Hadley (pictured), the guy I was reminded of when I read the press release. Back in 2003, Caden Hadley from Bountiful, UT, raced in the KJSC at the Salt Lake Supercross. I was there when Caden doubled the first part of one of the triple jumps, every single lap. That's about 35 feet in the air. That may not seem like much, unless you actually get out there and give it a shot yourself, especially on one of those little 50cc motorcycles. It sure impressed Steve Bruhn (photo source - motonews.com) and Jamie Little. I'll never forget that - it was awesome.

Friday, October 24, 2008

2008 US Open

Greg and I took our boys to the 2008 Rockstar US Open of Supercross at the MGM Grand a couple of weeks ago. Of course, I could not blog much about it then, because I would spoil the fun for the one person who reads this blog and also watches the races on TV, and of course it takes an entire week to edit the show, so we had to wait. Then I forgot.

Anyway, the US Open is a great time, there really isn't a bad seat and you can see two nights of racing for about $30/night which is not bad at all. Since Rockstar sponsors it they also bring their Rockstar Girls, which I don't personally care about, but some might, and if it gets you supporting the sport, then hey.

We stayed at the Travelodge on Koval street.
It has the advantage of being within easy walking distance of MGM Grand. But other than that, it was a complete dive. I would also say it had the advantage of being cheap, but they actually hit me with $40 of hidden "additional occupancy" charges that they didn't tell me about beforehand, making it so it wasn't even a better value than some other more upscale places. Avoid.
Also you'll note the Badda Bing girl on the billboard in the background, pixelated. Yes, they really have a new gentleman's club in Vegas called Badda Bing, of all the dumb names. The girl on the billboard has clothes on, but she is not wearing them, if that makes any sense.

At the start of the race the Rockstar girl (lower right) would hold up the 30-second board and do the requisite booty-shake. You might not be able to tell in this picture, but trust me, she's shaking that thing.

Here's a shot of the start of a race. Yes, there are actually guys racing in this photo. See that blur in the first corner? That's them. I realize now that my camera phone is just not cut out for this kind of stuff.

On the way home, in compliance with custom, we stopped at Applebee's to eat, in Cedar City, near the lighthouse. Because of the extensive rocky coastline and high sea traffic around Cedar City, it is a good thing they have this lighthouse.

It was a great time. I got to meet Supercross Lites and Motocross champion Grant Langston, and he is really cool. Chad Reed sported Grant's number 8 for the weekend. We saw Reed on his new Suzuki and Stewart on his new Yamaha. Stewart mostly dominated the weekend, but Reed holeshot the main event on Saturday, spoiling Stewart's run at the trifecta in awesome fashion. Then those two ran an awesome race for 16 laps before Reed made a mistake and crashed. It bodes well for the upcoming Supercross season, and I can hardly wait.

By the way, Greg said I should mention that, other than spending money on gasoline, tickets, hotel, and food, we gave a lot of money to Charity while we were down there. Faith and Hope were also options, but Charity is the greatest of them all and never faileth. So we gave loads of money to Charity. Besides, she was the hottest by far.

Just kidding. Her name wasn't Charity.

A Surly Ad

Coolness is seeing an ad you created on Google (highlighted):

Here's a close-up of the ad:

We did this one also:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

MP3 Management and Tidbits

I've just finished going through my MP3 collection, trying to make sure everything is tagged with an appropriate genre, correct album release dates, cover art, etc. It seems like this is much harder than it should be. Is it really so hard to create a decent MP3 library management tool that doesn't make things worse once it is done?

I guess if I think it isn't so hard, I ought to write it myself.

Anyway, there's some interesting tidbits at this point, worth noting:
  • There is not a single MP3 in my collection that was illegally downloaded, RIAA dorks.
  • There's about 250 artists and about 650 albums. That averages out to about 2 1/2 albums per band, an even more curious statistic considering I have 11 Def Leppard albums, 15 Dream Theater albums, 12 Megadeth albums, 12 Motley Crue albums, 12 Ozzy albums, 13 Pink Floyd albums, and 15 Van Halen albums. Of course some of these are multi-album compilations that sometimes show up as multiple albums in the filesystem. Hmm.
  • There's a pretty wide range - alphabetically (A-Ha to ZZ Top), chronologically (The Bee Gees to Saving Abel), and stylistically (Cacophony (shred) and Megadeth (thrash) to Enya (new age) and Seal (soft rock)). However, not much country - and what is there is Amber's. I still don't like country.
  • The bulk of my music is probably centered around my high school years, and that is still the stuff I like most. This is odd though, because I don't listen to the same stuff from that period as much as I used to, but instead listen to different stuff from that period. It is also odd because I like that music a lot, but I pretty much think high school sucked significantly in nearly every possible way.
  • I have a lot of 80's pop but I don't listen to it. In fact I hardly dare even admit it, especially on the Half Bad Boy blog. I take it back, I do not have any 80's pop at all.
Another thing I just thought of. Back in high school, when I wasn't half bad or even 1/10th bad, I was in a show choir; I sang and danced in this show choir. I thought I was pretty good at it too. I'm older now, and married, so I'm obviously half bad now (nice guys can't even get a girlfriend, let alone get married). I realize now that I wasn't any good at that show choir thing. I realize now that I sucked. I also just now realized that a lot of what I listened to back then had to do with that. I listen to a lot more interesting musical composition and guitar work now. Also now, instead of singing, I play electric guitar. I still suck, but you can suck at electric guitar and still be a half bad boy.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What's Kimi Thinking??

One of the most entertaining things about Formula One is the rules. There are many really dumb rules; new rules can be made up in the middle of a race, meaning that at any time a new stupid rule might crop up; rule enforcement is selective, meaning that depending on the driver or the team, the rule may or may not be enforced; and you never know what the penalty might be for breaking a rule. Every day is a new adventure in Formula One!

One of the dumb rules in Formula One is the prohibition of team orders affecting the outcome of the race (see the Formula One Sporting Regulations, article 39.1). How you prove this is another question, but there is no question that it happens, especially in obvious situations like last Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix, where Kimi Raikkonen allowed teammate and title contender Felipe Massa to pass him in the closing laps, trading second and third place. Since Felipe is in contention for the championship, and Kimi is not, obviously Ferrari would want the two to exchange places and allow Felipe to take second place, earning more points in his quest for the world driving championship.

The pass was admittedly a bit dubious. Massa, who was several seconds behind Raikkonen in third place entering the final stint, suddenly was making up several tenths per lap on his teammate, and passed him with ease on the back straight with just a few laps remaining. I suspect nobody watching had any doubt that Raikkonen slowed up and allowed Massa by intentionally. Although this appears to be against the rules, it is only actually against the rules if the team ordered Raikkonen to let Massa past (perhaps he did it out of the goodness of his heart?), and it is only enforceable if it can be proven, i.e. the FIA would need evidence that Raikkonen was ordered by the team to do so.

So, all of that seems pretty hard to come by, and it seems that Ferrari should be in the clear. Which is why it was pretty surprising to me to hear Kimi's post-race press conference comments, wherein he pretty much openly admitted that he was following Ferrari team orders to let Massa take second place.

Whatever Kimi is, he's no dummy. He knows the rules; and even if he didn't, Peter Windsor very clearly, if indirectly, reminded him in a follow-up question. So the conspiracy theorist in me started thinking: Did Kimi actually do that on purpose? Did he intentionally "accidentally" let it slip out that Ferrari gave team orders in this case?

Consider: Kimi is the reigning world champion. Yet he's basically been shown up this year by Massa. Kimi has driven fairly well, but had a couple of off months mid-season, which were enough to convince Ferrari to put all of their weight behind Massa as the championship candidate. Perhaps Kimi is a bit upset about the way he's been treated; perhaps he feels a world champion deserves a bit more respect than he's received. I can't help but wonder if, during the press conference, he put on his nonchalant, innocent Finnish face and then delivered on-the-record the information that the FIA would need to enforce this rule against Ferrari.

The only real questions remaining now are, first, whether the FIA will actually enforce the rule, and second, what the penalty might be. It might be an interesting week.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

SUPERDELL for Utah Governor

I wish to express, for the record, my statement of support for Dell "Superdell" Schanze for governor of Utah. He is the most righteous and responsible choice.


Seriously, Superdell. Quit embarrassing us. No wonder the rest of the country thinks Utahns are wackos.

Don't forget to read his blog. And don't hesitate to comment, this should be greatly entertaining.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Esssential Albums: Def Leppard "Pyromania"

Artist: Def Leppard
Album: Pyromania
Year: 1983
Best Song You've Probably Heard: Photograph
Best Song You Might Not Have Heard: Die Hard the Hunter

"Pyromania" came out when I was, uh, I mean, about 25 years ago. I still remember hearing "Rock of Ages" on the radio. It sounded awesome then and sounds awesome now, especially live. But I didn't really get into Def Leppard until a few years later, around "Hysteria" time. I really like both albums, but over the past 20+ years, I think Pyromania has weathered the best. Whereas "Hysteria" has a few pop-80's-sounding tunes, "Pyromania" has a timeless sound that doesn't feel like it will get old anytime soon, and yet already is starting to sound like classic rock.

Even though "Rock of Ages" was my first exposure to Def Leppard, I think "Photograph" is the best song on this album, and truthfully a much better tribute to Marilyn Monroe than that lame old "Candle in the Wind" boringness. "Foolin'," "Too Late For Love," "Action! (Not Words)," and even the cheesily-named "Rock! Rock! ('Til You Drop)" are some other great songs on here.

Some of you may feel like dissing on Def Leppard, which is your right. But do realize that they have two 10x-platinum albums in the United States. Can your favorite band say that? Not likely - there are few who can.

By the way, Def Leppard is also a great band to play along with when you are learning to play electric guitar.

(Image credit: Amazon.com)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Motocross Guys Are Awesome

This guy is a stud.  No, not the old, gray, wrinkly fellow on the right; the guy on the left, wearing the Team Yamaha shirt.  That is none other than 2007 AMA Motocross champion Grant Langston, who I ran into at the US Open of Supercross last night.

Without attempting to spread rumors about Grant, as I understand he's found that the vision problem he's been experiencing this year is a melanoma in his eye and has been trying to get that taken care of.  It was pretty awesome to hear the crowd applauding in support of Grant when he explained the situation at the opening ceremonies last night.

I wanted to get a picture of him with my son, but he's so camera shy that he refused to take the picture before I could explain who would be in it with him.  So I snapped it myself instead.  Sorry to bring you down Grant.

Here's wishing you the best of luck.  I've missed seeing you out racing this year; you are a great competitor and a great ambassador to the sport, a true half-bad-boy of the type this blog espouses.  I hope you're able to overcome this scary eye problem and get back in the saddle soon.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Favorite Albums Per Year Since Birth

So apparently a popular thing these days is to make a list of your favorite album of every year since your birth. Well, at least Matt Rosoff is doing it, and he is more popular than me, so from my vantage point it is a popular thing to do.

Anyway, I thought I'd give it a shot. The rules are:
  • Only one album per year.
  • You can only use an album from any artist one time.
  • Use the year of original release (not re-release years).
  • "Best-Of" collections are discouraged but ok.
It ended up being a lot harder than I thought. I found that some years have a lot of really awesome stuff to choose from, and some years just basically suck. I also found that I am not nearly the connoisseur of music that I thought I was. I couldn't start with the year I was born, or even for several years afterwards. And I got nothing from the past couple of years, not yet.
I'm trying to remedy this. But here's the list so far, subject to change:

  • 1978 - Van Halen: Van Halen

  • 1979 - Pink Floyd: The Wall

  • 1980 - AC/DC: Back In Black

  • 1981 - Journey: Escape

  • 1982 - RATT: RATT EP

  • 1983 - Def Leppard: Pyromania

  • 1984 - Y & T: In Rock We Trust

  • 1985 - Mötley Crüe: Theater of Pain

  • 1986 - Metallica: Master of Puppets

  • 1987 - U2: The Joshua Tree

  • 1988 - Queensrÿche: Operation: Mindcrime

  • 1989 - Enya: Watermark

  • 1990 - Scorpions: Crazy World

  • 1991 - Guns N' Roses: Use Your Illusion

  • 1992 - Stone Temple Pilots: Core

  • 1993 - Nirvana: In Utero

  • 1994 - Alice In Chains: Jar of Flies

  • 1995 - Collective Soul: Collective Soul

  • 1996 - Men At Work: Contraband

  • 1997 - Creed: My Own Prison

  • 1998 - Goo Goo Dolls: Dizzy Up the Girl

  • 1999 - Dream Theater: Scenes from a Memory

  • 2000 - The Beatles: 1

  • 2001 - Tool: Lateralus

  • 2002 - New Order: International

  • 2003 - Joe Satriani: Electric Joe Satriani

  • 2004 - Judas Priest: Metalogy

  • 2005 - Nickelback: All the Right Reasons

  • 2006 - The Killers: Sam's Town

Like I said, some surprises (Enya? Really??) and some compilations when pickings get slim. I really haven't gotten much into recent stuff. I'll try harder.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Moral Obligations of the Socially Superior

I am obviously the smartest and most socially competent person I know, but that is not nearly so easy as one might think.  I'm constantly concerned about making sure that I am fulfilling my responsibility to society - giving back by helping people to realize how ignorant they are, pointing out their flaws and foolishness to motivate them to become somewhat normal.  Problem is, despite my towering intellect, I'm not always sure of the best course of action in certain situations.

Take, for example, the situation that occured to me today.  I was at the grocery store, ready to leave and selecting a checkout aisle.  As I'm approaching an aisle, I notice another guy walking toward me doing the same thing - looking for a checkout aisle.  As I'm eyeing the nearest aisle, he sees me considering it, and immediately launches into a jog so he can beat me to the checkout lane.  As he trots into the lane he looks at me with a look on his face that says, "And what are you going to do about it?"

So I acted like it didn't bother me, because it didn't.  In fact, the only thing I really felt was a great deal of sympathy for someone who is apparently not too bright.  I walked down to the next lane - one this fellow passed up so he could run in front of me into the lane he chose, keep in mind - and purchased my goods.  I gathered my bags and started walking out.  And as I was leaving, I walked past the other checkout lane, and saw said mentally disadvantaged fellow still standing in the checkout lane he had worked so hard to obtain.

So what is my societal and moral obligation here?  I'm not sure what I should be expected to do.  And this has really been bothering me ever since because I'm not sure I left that situation the way I should have, the way I am obligated to because of my superiority.  What I actually did was to grin a bit smugly at him as I strutted by, but I'm not sure that was enough.  Should I have laughed out loud?  Should I have pointed at him and told others around him what a dork he was?  Should I have asked him what his problem was, or taunted him mercilessly?  Will my actions be enough for him to realize his foolishness, or should I have done more to help him realize his lameness?

About Half Bad Boys

See, it isn't just me that thinks this way.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

An E-Commerce Experiment

Some of you know that I am the President of Vice of SR Investment Group, a company that so far specializes in not making money. Not content with the current rate at which we are not making money, we decided to try to find a different way to not make money.

So we are starting a new e-commerce website, Surly Jack's Outpost, at http://www.surlyjacks.com. It will sell outdoor stuff. I was going to describe it better, but hey, I don't care enough.

Surly Jack is a fictional character we made up as the fake owner of the store, by the way. Don't let him offend you, he's actually not that bad a guy, really.

Surly Jack's was going to open today, but there were just too many things that needed to be done to make it by today. It should be opening up within the next few days. But the real evolution will come later, as we continue to revise the look of the site and make it look, uh, non-cookie-cutter. Yeah.

Anyway, check it out. You can follow Surly Jack's blog and/or twitter to stay informed on the status of the web store. Or go to MySpace and become Surly Jack's friend. Believe me, he can use all the friends he can get.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Essential Albums: Journey "Escape"

Artist: Journey
Album: Escape
Year: 1981
Best Song You've Probably Heard: Don't Stop Believing
Best Song You Might Not Have Heard: Escape

Journey was my first ever "favorite" band and is still one of my favorite bands of all time. We all owe Journey a great debt, as they are one of those select few bands who saved the world from disco. And that is saying something. Grunge failed to save us from country, unfortunately, and disco, like country, had a lot of social appeal in spite of being lame. So for bands like Styx, Journey, and Van Halen to salvage us from the depths of disco lameness is something we can all be thankful for.

Anyway, choosing "Escape" over "Frontiers" as the first Journey "Essential Album" was not an easy pick. Ultimately, "Escape" is more significant as it was probably the most important Journey album to launch them into the upper echelons of all-time musicdom. "Escape" established them as a known, mainstream arena rock band, solidified and embodied their classic sound, and at the same time stood them above the crowd as one of the best ever. Who among us has not been inspired by "Don't Stop Believing" or has not had the opportunity to make fun of someone singing, "So now I come to you with broken arms?"

Actually, the title song "Escape" might be the best song on the entire album, and probably even the most inspirational. "Mother, Father" is a beautiful ballad, the best on the album, and Dead or Alive is a great live song. In fact, any Journey concert would be incomplete without playing at least half of this album - and in my opinion, they should play more of it at each show.

If you don't have it yet, pick it up, or download it from Amazon.com. You may find that you know more songs from this album than you thought, and that you wonder how you ever made it this far without having owned it.

(Image credit: amazon.com)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fuel Mileage Experiment, Week 2

Week two of the fuel mileage experiment has ended. Here are the results of week two:
Mileage: 273.1 miles
Gasoline Used: 9.862 G
Miles per gallon: 27.69

So this week, with the same assumed $4/gallon, it cost me $39.45 to drive those 273.1 miles, for a cost of 14.44 cents per mile. As expected, this is higher, but only slightly higher, than the 13.77 cents per mile cost of driving at the speed limit. Also, as expected, I'm getting slightly lower fuel mileage, 27.69 mpg compared to 29.05, a difference of 1.36 mpg.

Assuming my average times to work are accurate, here are the raw costs of driving back and forth to work for one week, and going nowhere else:
Total miles, one way: 23.3
Total number of one-way trips: 10
Total miles per week: 233
Slow driving time, per trip: 25 minutes
Slow driving time, per week: 250 minutes
Fast driving time, per trip: 22 minutes
Fast driving time, per week: 220 minutes
Time savings for fast driving: 30 minutes/week
Slow driving fuel costs, per week: $32.08
Fast driving fuel costs, per week: $33.66
Cost savings for slow driving: $1.58
Per hour compensation for slow driving: $3.16

Wow. $3.16 per hour. That is how much I am compensated for driving slowly.

Now, I'm sure some of you are thinking, "Yes, but if you drive the speed limit, you won't get a speeding ticket, whereas if you are speeding you run the risk of getting a speeding ticket." True. That will throw off the calculations.

For fun, let's figure out how often I would have to get a speeding ticket in order to compensate myself at minimum wage for driving the speed limit.
Minimum wage: $6.55
Less current slow-driving compensation: $3.39
Per-week difference: $1.70
Assumed cost of a speeding ticket: $100

Using these numbers, if you got a $100 speeding ticket more frequently than once every 59 weeks, it would make up the difference. That's not quite one speeding ticket per year.

Of course, you don't have to stay within the speed limit to avoid getting a ticket; you just have to stay under the "real" speed limit, whatever that is. For the record, I've never had a speeding ticket yet, knock on wood.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Rainbow

Is this too soft for this website? Can we just allow it to be here because it is scientifically interesting? How's that?

Anyway, a full rainbow, even a faint double if you really look hard enough. Ok, maybe not, but trust me, it was there. I know, it required three pictures. I guess apparently I need a wide-angle lens.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Since When Is A Correct Call A Controversy??

BYU eked out a win on the road against Washington last Saturday, 28-27. Lest we get confused, I would not wish to tarnish my half-badness in any way by conveying any semblance of support for BYU. So let's be clear about this: THIS IS NOT A PRO-BYU POST.

Now that we've cleared that up, I've simply got to talk a bit about how stupid the sports analysts are, pretty much universally, everywhere, even on other planets. Lest we forget, they make a point of reminding us every so often, when some type of controversy like this arises. It would be easier if they just said, "I can't actually think for myself, so let's just assume that my opinion lies completely contrary to common sense." That would be much quicker.

If you do not watch college football and are therefore not a half-badboy, I assume you are reading this blog because you are trying to repent. So for you folk, I will give you the basic rundown of the controversy:
  • BYU played Washington at Washington on Sept. 6.
  • Sports analysts are required to hate BYU, because they are not from a BCS conference and are therefore less of everything.
    • Note - I do not have to like BYU. But seriously, how long do we have to put up with this BCS superiority garbage? Haven't we learned anything yet? Anyway.
  • With time expiring in the fourth quarter, and BYU leading 28-21, Washington put together a heroic drive culminating in a touchdown with 0:02 left.
  • After scoring, the Washington player threw the football up into the air. On TV it appeared to go some 20 feet or more into the air.
  • Said throwing of the football into the air was clearly and without question an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty according to the rules (2008 NCAA Football Rules and Interpretations, Rule 9, Section 2, Article 1, Number 2), which state that
    • After any play the player in possession must immediately return the ball to an official or leave the ball near the downed spot
    • Among other acts, throwing the ball high into the air is prohibited (item c of said rule)
  • As a result, the official flagged and penalized Washington 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, as he is required to do by the rules.
  • The ensuing 35-yard PAT try was blocked by BYU.
  • Thus BYU ended up winning the game, 28-27.
Literally billions of sports analysts weighed in over the weekend, all of them blaming BYU and officials for the controversy. Well, maybe not blaming BYU per se, but definitely expressing disdain and disagreement for the fact that an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called at that point in the game. Anyway, the essence of the argument was threefold:
  • The player was clearly overcome by exuberance, and was not in control of himself, as could be expected.
  • No harm was done or intended by the player, who was only celebrating the great play made, and not attempting to be unsportsmanlike.
  • A penalty or other call by an official should never determine the outcome of a game.
Let's attack these in reverse order.

First of all, it is the job of the officials to attempt to enforce the rules of the game in a fair and unbiased format. They do not weigh the gravity of each individual play and take that into consideration as to whether or not a rule was violated. If a rule is violated, it is their responsibility to enforce the rule. In this case, the ruling was clear. The rulebook clearly describes the inappropriate behavior, which obviously matches the actual behavior in this case. It is the responsibility of the official to enforce the penalty in this case.
At any rate, the plays at the end of the game are not the only ones that can determine the outcome of the game. If not so, then please let me know at what point in the game do the plays become relevant to the outcome? I'd say, potentially all plays are relevant from the opening kickoff onward. Officials should not be expected to guess or determine whether a play will be a determining factor in deciding the outcome, let alone allow this to factor into any decision regarding rule enforcement.
Furthermore, this is all based on the assumption that the ruling actually affected the play. Are you trying to convince me that a college-level placekicker in the PAC-10 does not have sufficient strength to reliably kick a 35-yard field goal with sufficient altitude to avoid a block? Or that BYU (am I actually saying this) is not capable of blocking a field goal except under extreme conditions?

Next point. What exactly was the player's intention is unknown and irrelevant. Intent is not a factor in determining whether to enforce a rule, at least not in NCAA football. If you are tackling someone, and you grab the face mask and turn the head while tackling them, that is a 15-yard personal foul penalty. Whether you meant to do it is not relevant. The same is true in this case. Whether the player intended to taunt the other team or otherwise exhibit unsportsmanlike conduct is not the issue. The issue is that the player did violate the rule, regardless of intent, and it is the job of the officials to enforce the rule.

Finally, the issue with the significance of the play and the resulting excitement meaning that the player obviously was overcome with emotion and could not control himself. Man, how I love that phrase: "Could not control himself." "Yes, Bob, the player is literally not in control of his own self! He cannot make responsible choices! His freedom to choose has been revoked due to extreme excitement!"
Give me a break. Let's suppose the penalty was more harsh. Suppose that he is told, "Look, go out there and score a touchdown. But if you do not hand the ball to the official after the play is over, I am going to cut your index finger off with this here old rusty wood rasp." Do you really think he would score, forget that his finger was in jeopardy, and throw the ball into the air anyway? And then come back and say, "Sorry! Please don't cut my finger off with that there old rusty wood rasp! I was excited and lost control! I literally could not choose otherwise!"

This last one actually gets me more than any of the others. This is not the first time I've heard sports analysts defending the players because they lost control. This is probably because a lot of them used to be players also, which also probably means they don't have much education, and also think they are better than everyone else. Well, in this little place I call "Realworldia," we are expected to maintain control of ourselves and make correct choices, even when it is hard.

In case you were wondering, this is a non-rusty wood rasp. Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Fuel Mileage Experiment, Week 1

I'm conducting a fuel mileage experiment for the next couple of weeks; in fact, I just finished the first week. Here is the experiment: At the start of week one, I will fill up the gas tank, then drive conservatively everywhere I go. No speeding, and no jackrabbit starts. Then I'll record the mileage, refill the tank, and drive like I normally do.

So week one is over. Here's the results:
Mileage: 262.8 miles
Gasoline Used: 9.046 G
Miles per gallon: 29.05

Assuming a price of $4/gallon for gas (which is a bit low but pretty close), that means it cost me $36.18 to drive those 262.8 miles, for a cost of 13.77 cents per mile.

Also, the average time to work (23.3 miles) is about 25 minutes, versus about 22 normally. So I'm saving about 1/2 hour of time per week driving my normal way. How much am I paying for that 1/2 hour? We'll find out next week.




Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On openSUSE, sorta

Some time ago I had a Linux server set up at home and it was working pretty well, other than the wireless NIC. It had a Belkin 54g Wireless Network Card F5D7000 in it with the RT2500 chipset. I had been able to get it working on my wireless network, sort of, sometimes. But it was flaky enough that it wasn't good enough to consider my server usable, so I abandoned it.

So this past week I decided it was time to get that thing running. It's good timing because I just built a new PC not too long ago and I kept a lot of the old parts from the old PC that were still potentially salvageable, like the memory and hard drives and case. So I cobbled together a new, better server with the best parts from both old PCs. And now that openSUSE 11 is out, I decided to give it a try.

Well, all I can say is, if only it were as easy to configure wireless on Windows. openSUSE 11 detected the card type and chipset of my wireless card and preinstalled it as a network interface. All I had to do was enter in the access credential and it worked like a charm.

Bottom line: SUSE Linux really is awesome. Remember, I don't work for Novell anymore. I don't own any Novell stock (seriously, what kind of an investor do you think I am???) I have nothing to gain from promoting SUSE Linux really, other than to tell you that it really is a great all-around distribution. Great server. Great desktop. Really.

This is really interesting to me because some guys at work just the other day asked me, almost casually, what Linux desktop I would recommend. I told them it would depend; that for a new user I might recommend Ubuntu, but for me without question it would be openSUSE. The immediate response was, "Well, that's just because you used to work for Novell."

Actually, I've been using Linux for a pretty long time. My first Linux install was dual-booting on a Pentium 100 with Windows 95. I managed to squeeze a Caldera installation onto a portion of that 1 GB hard drive, which was pretty big back almost 13 years ago when I was doing this. I remember many hours spent configuring that video card so X would work.
Since then I've used a lot of Linux in various times. I was a pretty loyal Red Hat guy until Novell bought SUSE back in, ah, whenever that was. I changed from Red Hat to SUSE at that point, and suddenly realized what I was missing.

Novell's problem is leadership, plain and simple. That, and they refuse to admit that their problem is leadership - which is a circular problem. That's not just me talking - Peter Drucker also wrote that if a business is not performing, the management - the leadership - of that business should be held responsible.
Technology has NEVER been Novell's problem. Never in my life have I worked on more talented teams than at Novell. They have excellent technologists and generally excellent products, if management gets out of the way long enough to let the engineers create a quality product (for example, eDirectory, iFolder, or iChain). Of course, SUSE was already a quality software distribution before Novell even showed up, and openSUSE continues to be quality.

It is unfortunate, then, that I find that my career, my experience, is suddenly tarnished because of the fact that I worked at Novell. Novell consistently underperforms, but that isn't because of me or the other individual contributors there. And it doesn't mean that Novell's products are not any good - especially openSUSE, which has primarily just a financial relationship with Novell.

Don't be like that. Don't discount ex-Novell-employees, their experience or capability, or Novell products just because Novell's management isn't being held responsible for better performance standards. Not only is it not the fault of the individual contributors, it simply is not accurate.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

ChaCha Says Fake Twitters Are OK!

I asked ChaCha:

Me: ChaCha, is it dishonest of me to make up fake twitters about my life? My real life is boring, but my fake life could be very interesting.
ChaCha: Twitter is not a diary - and likely shouldn't be - so post whatever you think is fun.

AWESOME! My fake life is going to freaking rule.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

ChaCha Explains Electricity

I asked ChaCha about electricity and power failures:

Me: ChaCha, why does the power go out for just a few seconds, then come back on?
ChaCha: There is an inconsistent amount of power entering your house.

ChaCha never ceases to amaze! So, if I understand this correctly, the power went out because the supply of power to my house is inconsistent. In other words, the power went out because it had previously been supplying power, but then it stopped supplying power, and then it started supplying power again. Genius!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Essential Albums: U2 "The Joshua Tree"

Artist: U2
Album: The Joshua Tree
Best Song You've Probably Heard: Where The Streets Have No Name
Best Song You Might Not Have Heard: Mothers of the Disappeared

This was one of the first albums I purchased from any band, way back when I was a teenager. I must have listened to this hundreds of times growing up. U2 existed before "The Joshua Tree," but not for me. I'm willing to bet "The Joshua Tree" was the first U2 album for thousands, if not millions, of people worldwide.

"With Or Without You" was the first hit single from this album, and I really love that song. But "Where The Streets Have No Name" gets my vote for the best song because of the way it is written. It is art, pure art. "Mothers of the Disappeared" is a beautiful way to end the recording. But there isn't a bad song on the whole CD, not at all. It's a fantastic voyage from one end to the other.

(Image Credit: amazon.com)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech - Lest We Forget

Just listened to this speech, which I probably should have a long time ago. Steve Jobs certainly qualifies as a half bad boy and so I really should link to his speech here.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Chad Reed Changes Bike Colors

Well, let's see here. That is definitely the current AMA and World Supercross champion, Chad Reed, throwing down a pretty sweet whip there. If the red #1 plate and the Thor gear didn't give it away, the word "Reed" across the back of the jersey ought to do it. And that is definitely a bright yellow factory Rockstar Makita Suzuki RM-Z 450 he's riding.

Now I learned to add in first grade, and so it isn't too tough to deduce that Chad Reed has signed a contract to ride for Rockstar Makita Suzuki for the 2009 season. Whether he was going to get a ride really wasn't much of an issue; the question was more about who would he be riding for. At least now my brother has a reason to keep his Suzuki RM 250. He thought he might have to sell it when Ricky Carmichael signed with Suzuki, and having Mike Alessi hasn't helped matters much. But now that Chad Reed's a Suzuki guy life will be good for us, since we are generally Suzuki folk.

Which doesn't explain much why I have a Kawasaki KX 250, although I can assure you most definitely that it isn't because James Stewart rides Team Green.

I do have to say that ChaCha really blew it on this one. Some weeks ago I asked ChaCha who Chad was going to ride for. ChaCha said JGR MX, which seemed reasonable at the time, but ultimately ChaCha was wrong, and quite simply I expect ChaCha to give the the straight dope 100% of the time, or more.

By the way, thanks to VitalMX.com for the photos and hosting the press release.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Three New Things I Learned Today

  1. 14mm BMX axles do not fit in 3/8" dropouts.
  2. Chromoly steel is really hard.
  3. Grinders are freaking awesome.

ChaCha on Footwear

I asked ChaCha to help me understand the different types of footwear:

Me: ChaCha, what is the difference between socks, sox, and stockings?
ChaCha: Sox is just a shortening of socks, and stockings come up to the knee or past it.
Me: Ok, but why the phrase "stocking feet?" Since the only difference is one of length, "sock feet" should also be ok but nobody ever says it that way.
ChaCha: It's the way things evolve. We tend to shorten up a lot of terms, TV for television, cell for cellular phone and so on.

Huh? If we tend to shorten up terms, wouldn't we be saying "sock feet" instead of "stocking feet?" And what about this picture of some Boston Red Sox players? "Sox" is apparently equivalent to "socks," but their "sox" clearly come up to the knee, so by definition they should be called the Boston Red Stockings.

I am definitely going to get to the bottom of this issue. And when I do, you will be the first to know the real truth about this conspiracy.

(Image Credit: Somewhere on photobucket, via touchingallthebases.blogspot.com)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

ChaCha Repairs Our Internet Connection

Just now, our internet connection went out for a bit. I asked ChaCha what was wrong:

Me: "What is wrong with our internet connection?"
ChaCha: "There could be many things wrong. What exactly is the problem with it? Make sure your internet is turned on. Do you have wireless?"

That was a pretty disappointing answer. ChaCha, why are you asking me what is the problem with our internet connection - I just asked you that!

But then suddenly, our internet connection came back! ChaCha fixed it!

Me: "Ah, its working now. You fixed it!"
ChaCha: "Great! Thanks for using ChaCha, we can help you in the future!"

I don't doubt it! What a great friend.

ChaCha Told Me To Skip Pam & Toby's

Today is the Pam & Toby's Lunch & Learn since it is Thursday. I asked ChaCha:

Me: Should i attend the pam & tobys lunch & learn?
ChaCha: What exactly is the Pam Tobys lunch learn? Is it something that you want to do? Will it benefit your education?

The answers to the last two questions are, "Not really" (I would much rather go ride my motorcycle) and "Probably." So, if I translate that, it says to me, I should definitely skip it.