Monthly Archives: November 2005 - Page 2

Displaying a MySQL Table in PHP

If you’re getting started writing a PHP/MySQL program it’s pretty common to want to dump a MySQL table (as generated by a specific query) to the screen. One of the sites with instructions for doing just that is WebClass.

C6H12O6 -> Cookies

Let’s face it some engineers can cook (some even quite well) but a lot of them are great at hacking code, working differentials or load testing a beam but are completely lost in the kitchen. Those are the folks targeted by the Cooking For Engineers website. It’s a little unconventional, but so are engineers. The site has kitchen equipment reviews along with recipes and instructions. The recipes use photographs liberally along with a unique recipe layout that is supposed to be easier to understand.

The times, they are a-changing

Regular readers might have seen my open letter to ABC affiliates in the wake of the ABC/Apple video distribution deal. It seems that a few of the local affiliates have wised up with their own plans to distribute local programming via the internet. While I doubt local executives read my letter it seems to show that at least some local stations are planning for the future when more and more people become interested in timeshifting via digital downloads.

In further support of my original hypothesis about the decline of appointment viewing and the paradigm shift to digital downloads as a video distribution mechanism AOL has announced a deal with Warner Brothers to distribute classic tv from the WB archives via a peer-to-peer download method.

I can’t say yet specifically what the replacement for broadcast appointment viewing will look like, but it is coming. The WB/AOL annoucement requires custom p2p software and relies on advertising and a yet unknown codec. The ABC deals allow mobile viewing via the iPod’s video capabilities. Podcasters and online only shows such as DigitalLife TV have embraced BitTorrent and H.264 amongst other standard codecs. One thing all these services have in common is that they are a “direct to the viewers” approach that is generally favored by media creators and leaves the old affiliate system of broadcast appointment viewing out in the cold. The genie is out of the bottle.

One thing leads to another

Just to demonstrate how I can end up spending a lot of time on a fairly simple web inquiry, while I was researching that last blurb about Google Games I ended up on some sites with open source versions of more familiar games.

FreeCiv is one that I’ve seen before. It’s obviously a F/OSS implementation of “Sid Meir’s Civilization” game.

In a similar thread, Stratagus is a F/OSS clone of WarCraft, it was formally called FreeCraft.

The board game Risk has been recreated in software several times over the years but two F/OSS projects attempting this are Jrisk and JavaRisk.

Google Games

There are a lot of interesting games people have come up with for Google. Early on people were entering keywords to try and come up with the shortest string that would return only one result. Later people started posting lists of keywords and you would have to guess what site would come up. Now with the advent of Google Maps and the associated API people have re-created a “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” type spy-hunt geography-learning game called Brewster Jennings Protects America. Others have re-created the board game Risk. These are popping up so quickly that someone has already created a Wiki page for Google Maps games.

MSP and nothing to do?

There’s always something going on at the University of Minnesota. Two of the calendars that will help you find events including concerts, plays, lectures, movies, workshops, meetings and more are the Campus Events calendar and the TCSU & SAO calendar. There’s usually more listed on the campus events calendar which is farily comprehensive but the Student Activities Office calendar might be a little more student friendly for those just looking for something fun to do after class.

Web Resources for TechEd Instructors

The Minnesota Technology Education Association may not have the best looking webpage around but it’s full of useful information for TechEd teachers and not just those in Minnesota. With sample lab safety manuals, curriculum resources, funding suggestions and more it’s a great first stop when looking for something TechEd related.

Telephone Collecting

I’ve got a couple of old thephones with real bells in them that I keep for nostalgic purposes but nothing like some of the folks at Telephone Collectors International do. One of the more recent projects a group of them has been working on is linking old electromechanical switching gear together via the Asterisk PBX software. The group calls itself CNET but I can imagine some trademark names with that. In any event they have a website up with some details about it, but be paitent the site loads quite slowly.

There’s also a Telephone Pioneers Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska.

a life…or something like one

One of the comments I occasionally get from readers is “why don’t you ever post about your life anymore?” You see, once upon a time, ok it was about two years ago, I posted on a very regular basis about what was going on in my life. In fact you can still dig in the archives and find out what I was doing. Truth be told it takes a lot of time to do so and time is one thing I don’t seem to have much of, but we’ll get to that later on, I also got a bit burned out talking about myself so much. Luckily for those readers I do occasionally get a hankering to write something once in a while and today is one of those days. For those readers who come for the Tech content now is a good time to either expand your horizons or use the nifty category feature on the side to filter out this mushy/philosophic stuff…without further ado on to the main event.

I often ponder where I’m at in life and why exactly I’m there. For someone who’s only 22 why is my life such a mess? Maybe a better question is why do I even care? Heck, I’ve got friends who are older than me, have good jobs, and still only think about where the party is at on Friday. As I sit here in my office/bedroom (which is it really? that should tell you enough about my life to know I’m nuts) amongst all the piles of stuff (real and virtual) to do (real and virtual) I wonder how I could let life get so complicated so quickly.

While friends go out or partake in some other social activity I’m writing articles about blogging software, scheduling a state elecrician’s exam, sorting through quotes for theater ticket printing, preping a computer from my vintage Macintosh collection (that does it, am I 22 or 62?) for shipping to another collector, editing lectures from a EdPsych class (not for myself, but for future posterity in the Internet Archive project), networking with other technologists, learning about VoIP PBXs, wondering how I’m going to get recertified as a Cisco Network and Design Professional, setting up new virtual hosts on a friend’s server and worrying about my class schedule for next semester.

It’s not that I don’t have any fun or am a total recluse. Last night I saw my ninth grade sister in a school play, next weekend I am going to a high school play and a work banquet and I often watch movies with friends on Friday nights. It just seems that I have an inordinate amount of other stuff going on and an overwhelming backlog of it. To top it off I’m a full-time plus grad student and I’m also working. I must be completely bonkers! Sometimes I wish my life could be so much simpler, even if I were just doing grad school and working that would probably be ok. So why do I have all this other stuff going on?

I think it’s because God gave me three gifts: intelligence (or so I’m told), good foresight and a strong desire to help others. Each in turn is a wonderful thing but the three together are conspiring to drive me nuts. I see so many opportunities to help, I even stay away from lots of them, and I still find myself with a million things I’ve either said I would help with, am in the midst of working on or feel some responsibility for helping with. If I neglected some of these projects it’s not just me but groups and organizations I care about who would suffer the consequences. Maybe most 22 year olds can’t say they’ve contributed to society (online and off) as much as I have but at what cost do I contribute?

Somewhere deep inside I know that this is good for me too. I know the contacts I make this early in life are likely to serve me well in the future. Those with whom I share goodwill may one day return a favor and God certainly shines down on my life. At the same time, will I be that much further ahead? Is it worth the sacrifice? the mental anguish? These are the questions I ponder late at night as I sit perched on the brink. Either I will be the better for it, or it will get the better of me. It’s an odd and lonely place.

Lonely, yet another problem. For all the friends I have and all the people I know I still feel alone. Usually it’s at night when I start feeling utterly alone and think wouldn’t it be great if I could just pick up the phone and have someone there who I could spend some time with and talk to. The need seems to consume me, and yet I feel that I would be imposing on all of the things everyone else has to do if I actually made a call. I hate imposing on others. Instead I sit alone. Perhaps filling the time working on one of my projects, once in a while loosing myself in a movie. It’s a quick fix, but it’s not real. I know people care about me, yet I’m still alone.

By now you must think I’m pretty depressed. Surprisingly, I don’t think I am. On the contrary I have a bright outlook on life, I love the things I do and the people I know, I just get so overwhelmed. I need to find some sort of release. I keep looking but I haven’t found it yet, sure lots of temporary relief, but then I come back to the real world where I have stacks of things to do. Who knows if they’ll ever shrink, of course if they did I may ahve stopped having ideas which is an even scarier thought.

Ideas, there’s another one. Do you know I’ve taken to carrying around a piece of paper and have a computer file (actually) several full of things to ponder, articles to write and projects to take on. I think I’ve already collected a lifetime’s worth and I’ve still got a long way to go.

I’m so many things to so many people: a technology educator, a graduate student, a telephone central office technician, a php developer, a system administrator, a guy you call on the phone to ask computer questions, a network engineer, a volunteer, a sound engineer, a singer, a writer, a photographer, a videographer, an archivest, a librarian, a scholar, a friend, a resource, a musician, a theater tech, a farmhand, a mechanic, an electrician, a plumber, a carpenter, a researcher, a collector, a watchdog, an activist, a baker, a chef, a technologist, a ham radio operator, a lighting designer and a servant of God. What am I to you? How can I stay on top of all of it? All I’m left with is questions. Take a walk with me and answer some.

a year later: an overview of multiblog software options

Those who’ve been around for a while may remember my article on blogging software from last year. Actually I got (and continue to get) quite a bit of attention from that article including syndication from Lockergnome. The past year has been an interesting one in the blogosphere. As I predicted there was a lot of outrage about MovableType “going commercial” but at the same time the company has continued to grow including the purchase of LiveJournal. How can this be explained? What has happened since then? What’s going on with blogging software now?
Read more »