XKCD Injection

Rising from the dead…

Like a phoenix rising from its own ashes, or maybe more like a corpse walking the streets again as a zombie, this blog is given new life.

A lot has happened since my last post here about 3 years ago and one of these is I’ve finally decided to start working on my graduate degree and I got in to the Master of Internet Technology program at the University of Georgia. As part of one of our courses, we have to set-up and maintain a blog. I thought, rather than making a new one, I’ll just re-purpose this one!

So it begins. This blog will be about almost the same things, technology, gadgets, life, as well as my experiences (a.k.a. ‘assignments’) working my way through the program. Hopefully, I can sustain blogging even after I complete the courses.

Programmer Comic Strips

SandwichSo funny, I just had to post it.

Click below for more:

XKCD

OpenFire and Webhuddle

MouseJust tested out some open source applications that will help me be able to work remotely effectively. I used one of the Linux boxes we have here in the office to host the applications.

OpenFire
OpenFire is an open source IM server written in Java. It uses the XMPP protocol which is more popularly know as Jabber. It was one of the easiest to install and well documented open source applications I’ve ever encountered. The backend admin I believe is where OpenFire excels. It is very user friendly and has a myriad of logging options, an interface for installing plugins and all the usual stuff like user administration, server administration, etc.

With OpenFire, you can also use Spark which is a cross-platform IM client created by the same folks at Ignite Realtime. I was very happy with this combination, and now we have a secure IM system all located in our very own data center.

Web Huddle
Another open source application I installed recently is Web Huddle. If you’re familiar with GotoMeeting or Webex then Web Huddle does most of what these applications were meant for, the only difference is Web Huddle is open source and is free to install and use.

Documentation is not one of Web Huddle’s strong points and I had some difficulty installing the application. Web Huddle was created also in Java but as a deployment for a JBoss server. Currently, it only supports JBoss 3.2. After, I got over the installation difficulties, Web Huddle turned out to be a really nifty tool. The web meetings that I initiated with 2-3 persons were all smooth and the attendees were all able to connect in smoothly (provided they have Java installed). I wasn’t able to test out the voice functionality as I’ll save that for a later date.

I really was amazed once again at the quality and usability of open source applications out there. Thanks to the people who make the open source community what it is today.

Pirate Bay Trial:Guilty

PirateAnd so the the verdict on Pirate Bay case was handed down by the Swedish courts and they were found to be guilty of ‘assisting in making copyright content available’. All 4 defendants were to be jailed for a year and pay $905,000.

At this point I’m not sure what to make of the case because there is still an appeals process, but I am just hoping that this does not affect the fight for net neutrality. Don’t get me wrong, those distributing ‘pirated’ materials should really be addressed because there’s are a lot of people who worked hard on producing them. What I am worried about is that this seems like a point that big corporations will use to advance their desires of having ‘censorship’ over the Internet.

The Internet is what it is because of the freedom of information. I know there’s viruses, spam, hacking, etc. but these are things that needs to be dealt with, the same as there is crime, scams, cons, etc. in the physical world. If these big corporations get a firm hold of the Internet and do as they wish, then the days of the World Wide Web as being a tool for research, networking and exchanging ideas might be in jeopardy.

Airline Travel Tools

AirplaneIt’s that time of the year again for us to buy tickets for our trip back home to visit Manila. Its especially stressful because there is so much variation on what you would pay and what service you would get based on the time and the method you use in booking your tickets. So its especially important to reasearch so you can get the best deals possible.

I’ve been using these websites to help me decide on what to do when booking flights:

Flyertalk
This is the best place to get advice and figure out what’s going on with your preferred airline or with the industry in particular. People post their experiences booking, flying, dealing with agents, etc. so it really helps for you to make that informed decision. The main part of the forum is divided into the different airlines so you can just pick which one you are a frequent flier of and let that be your starting point.

The forums will also allow you to be up-to-date on the different deals and promotions going around. Most airline deals require registration prior to booking the flight, so if you did not know about the promotions, you can potentially miss out on savings or perks.

Expertflyer
This is a paid site so the usefulness and the value is dependent really on your flying needs. This site lets you search information on the availability of seats, awards, fares, etc. This is especially useful if you are trying to get that hard to find award seat on an airline. One of its best functions is the ability to create alerts based on what you are looking for. If a seat or an award opens up, Expertflyer can send you an email so you can act quickly.

Expertflyer was useful to us this time around because we were trying to use some certificates to upgrade our class of service on our flight home. We needed a certain fare class to open up which will allow us to use the upgrade certificate on a particular flight. After receiving the alert, we immediately booked the ticket and used the certificates.

Kayak
There are a lot of travel search engine sites out there but Kayak is the most reliable and the easiest to use. There are a lot of sorting functions which you can use when searching for a flight that makes it easy to pick an airline or a destination. It even allows you to search alternative airports close to your location or destination which might have cheaper airfare.

Safe travels!

Happy April Fools, fools…

TPBI have to say, the Internet is funnier on April 1. I fired up my laptop this morning and logged into Gmail, and I have to say, Google gets better at this every year. They had me thinking about CADIE until I saw the sample responses, haha.

My other favorites for this year include: Warner Bros acquires Piratebay (what a hoot!), Youtube videos are upside down if you add ‘&flip=1’ to the URL, and Slickdeals is renamed Celerydeals.net.

Here’s a link to a list of jokes all over the web.

Happy April Fools!

Tax Thoughts

CalculatorThe April 15 deadline for filing tax returns is fast approaching and I’m not happy to say that we are still working with the accountant on completing our forms. I have been researching on a lot of tax hoop-la and here are some useful links I’ve come across:

Here is a good calculator for figuring out what tax bracket you are in based on your ‘taxable income’. It also shows what your federal tax liability will be including what percentage of your income is that number.

We had a unique case tax-wise this year because my wife was just transferred internationally and started US local work last May. The IRS has what it calls as the Substantial Presence Test which basically helps you figure out if you are a resident or a non-resident for tax purposes.

HR Block has this tax calculator which will help you get a ballpark figure of what your federal tax refund will be. I like their calculator a lot because you do not need to enter in personal information, just numbers.

Here is a list of overlooked deductions which is useful if you are itemizing deductions.

Random Thoughts 03-18-09

ThoughtsI have been very busy these past few days trying to get ready the web modules I’ve been working on for the internal testing slated for next week, so here are some random thoughts:

Saw this relatively new TV service from AT&T called U-verse and I got very interested on it. It features a bunch of other channels we couldn’t get from our current cable provider and something that they call Total Home DVR which basically allows you to record on just one DVR box and have the data accessible on any other U-verse enabled TV in your home. I believe they use fiber optic technology so the availability as of the moment is very limited. Here’s one guy’s review on the whole installation process. I will be looking at this and on the Verizon FIOS services in the future.

Been watching a lot of Bleach lately instead of the usual Naruto. So I have a lot of Naruto episodes waiting and I will have that pile up for a while so I can take full advantage of my free trial on Crunchyroll.

The pH on my nano-reef has been low at 7.6. I’m not sure when this started because I just noticed it when Tin and I calibrated the pH meter yesterday. I began dosing DT’s 3-part to see if it helps so I need to monitor that in the next few days.

There are some decisions to make in the next few weeks so I’m praying everything turns out well…

Image Annotation on Lotus Domino

CodeI found this very nifty script using JQuery to annotate images on the web ala Flickr and Facebook. On my end, the challenge was to implement it on a Lotus Domino web application.

One of the first things I needed to do was to submit the data and to convert it to JSON format:

notes = [{“x1″:”10″,”y1″:”10″,”height”:”150″,”width”: “50”,”note”:”This is note one”}, {“x1″:”25″,”y1″:”25″,”height”:”70″,”width”: “80”,”note”:”<strong>This</strong> is a new note This is another note This is a new note”}];

In order to do this in domino I needed to use two Computed fields, of text type and computed after validation. Also, I would need the fields for the data that would set the height and width of the annotation box, and the note that goes with the box. (NoteHeight, NoteWidth, NoteNote). Field 1 will have the following value:

@If(@IsNewDoc=1; “{\”x1\”:\””+ X1+ “\”,\”y1\”:\””+ Y1+ “\”,\”height\”:\””+ NoteHeight+”\”,\”width\”:\”” + NoteWidth + “\”,\”note\”:\””+NoteNote+”\”}”;notesdata + “, ” + “{\”x1\”:\””+ X1+ “\”,\”y1\”:\””+ Y1+ “\”,\”height\”:\””+ NoteHeight+”\”,\”width\”:\”” + NoteWidth + “\”,\”note\”:\””+NoteNote+”\”}” )

Field 2 will take this value in JSON format and add succesive annotation data that will be handled by the jquery plugin:

@If(@IsDocBeingSaved=0;”[]”;”[” + notesdata +”]”)

After that, we just need to run  Evaluate() on the text string to create the JSON objects:

notes = eval(‘(‘ +     document.forms[0].field2.value + ‘)’);

You should then have the plugin working on your domino web application. It should be similar to the plugin demo.