30 January, 2007

An interesting perspective

I just found this article on the brand new Windows Vista, and although the article has a lot of words without saying a whole lot, I like how this guy put it into perspective. It seems similar to how I might evaluate it.

I'm a bit anxious myself to get a look at Vista... but I don't know that I really want to make the switch yet. I'm also not sure I want to fork over that kind of cash right now, when I can still be perfectly happy on a free Fedora Core installation.

23 January, 2007

New website!

Yes, I've finally made my new website design live! Yay!

It's all new content, very much trimmed down from what I had before. I've removed my "news" page, as I just post here on my blog now. The programming section isn't up yet, as I'm working on some fancy new ways of displaying the code... but everything else was ready, so I decided to go ahead and turn it on!

Oh and I have a much better URL now, too: http://www.tarken.net/

Let me know what you think!

21 January, 2007

Happiness is...

...warm, freshly washed sheets, straight out of the dryer. I could just lay here smelling them all night. Mmmmm :)

19 January, 2007

Concert ticket bullshit

I'm rather annoyed right now.

I just went online to buy tickets for a Flogging Molly concert. That, in itself, is totally awesome. I'm Irish. They're Irish. It's on St. Patty's day. All good! Or, well, so it would seem.

So I go to the concert ticket page and proceed to order tickets for myself and my good buddy Don. $29 per ticket. Not too bad, considering it's Flogging Molly on St. Patty's day. Okay, I'm cool with that.

Then I get to the checkout page, and the charges begin to add up. Here is a breakdown of the costs, PER TICKET.
Ticket price: $29.00
Building Facility Charge: $3.00
Convenience Charge: $5.00
(What the HELL is so "convenient" about that?)
That adds up to $37.00 per ticket. A bit more ouch.

Then on top of all THAT, I have to pay an additional $2.50 to have the tickets delivered via "TicketFast". What is TicketFast, you might ask? Well, let me explain. It emails the tickets to you. So that you can print them out. It's an AUTOMATED SYSTEM to email the tickets to you. It costs them nothing to do. And yet, it costs $2.50.

Hahaha, and get this. As if all of that weren't enough, I get to the final page where I put in my credit card info, and there's a $3.35 "Order Processing Charge".

This all adds up to a grand total of $79.85, for 2 tickets to a concert. Tickets which started out at $29.00 each. That's $58.00 total. What the hell is this crap about?

The final crowning achievement of this horrible website is that they have time limits on each page. You find the tickets you want, you have 2 minutes to claim them. Creating an account on the site so that you can buy the tickets, you've got 1 minutes. Putting in all of your credit card information, you've got 3 minutes. What about people who type slow? What if you have to get up and take a piss? What if you get distracted in the middle of the order process? You have to start all over. From the beginning. That's what I call a piss poor user experience.

I definitely won't be using TicketMaster again.

Piercing... so far

As a few people have mentioned, and as I've come to agree with myself, I've become a monster. See, let me explain that a bit.

On December 2nd, I got my ears pierced at 10 gauge.
On December 24th, I stretched my ears to 8 gauge.
On January 13th, I stretched them again to 6 gauge.
Now it's January 19th, and I want to stretch them to 4.
I don't know if my ears are ready for it yet, but dammit, I want them stretched more.
I would say I should get another piercing to take my attention off of these, but I think that might backfire. I would then just have more piercings to obsess over. sigh. What a vicious cycle. Well, not to say that I won't get other piercings. There are a few others I want to get. Most likely the next will be a septum piercing.

I've gone from being scared to death of needles, to being obsessed with piercings. How weird is that.

...I can only imagine how bad I'm going to be once I start getting tattoos...

15 January, 2007

Free stuff

I never thought I would have so much difficulty giving things away... for free.

I put up a post on Craigslist yesterday for an extra bed that I've got sitting around at home, that I just need to get rid of. Sure it's used but it would be great for a starving college student or something along those lines. It's not a bad bed or anything like that. It's full size... matress, box spring, frame... all free.

But so far, I've had 2 people back out and a third not responding. What's the deal!? It should NOT be THIS difficult to give things away... seriously!

UPDATE: I forgot to mention, somebody finally came and got the bed that night! Yay! I got an email asking me, "Do you still have it? I can come get it right now!" ... and suddenly, it was gone!

10 January, 2007


Anybody who knows me knows that I've got this issue with needles. I can't stand the sight, or even thought, of needles. I just freak out. And it pisses me off every time that I do. I really want to get past this, because it's absolutely ridiculous and unfounded. It's not the pain that bothers me; the needles don't hurt. It's not the blood that bothers me; I've certainly seen worse. It's just something about the needle itself.

Well, I decided to do a bit of research on it finally... and I found that I'm far from alone. This article on Wikipedia was extremely informative. According to this, I'm even on the right path to getting past it. What I've been working on is a form of desensitization... although I didn't know the fancy word for it. On December 2, I got my ears pierced. I nearly passed out as soon as the first needle passed through. I wasn't freaking out or breathing abnormally. The piercing didn't hurt. My body just reacted instantly and went into its own state of shock. Pissed me right off. I had to lay down and recoup for a while to let my body calm down. Then came the second piercing. But lo and behold, I didn't react nearly as bad to this one! I remained sitting up... I shook a bit... I probably went a bit pale again... but I felt better. Obviously an improvement.

This was definitely not enough though. I'm still having quite a reaction, which is simply not acceptable. So on the evening of December 24, I decided to stretch my ears. Granted, I wasn't using a needle, but it was something at least similar. I was using something like this to stretch them:
Not too friendly looking... but not a needle. And not creating a new hole in my skin, so it shouldn't cause any problems... right? Wrong. I hooked these things into my ears, and almost instantly started to feel slightly light headed. I didn't react nearly as bad as I did to either of the piercings, but it was certainly not good. So I laid down for a while, drank some water... and got over it. Not an entirely pleasant experience, and a very odd one.

So I want to try this again. See if I still get the same results. These talons go up to a 6 gauge piercing, and I only stretched up to 8 so far. Out of curiosity, tonight, I pushed one of the talons into my right ear, just to see how easily it would take to the wider end of the talon. Surprisingly, it pushed about 2/3 - 3/4 of the way through before I started to feel a slight pinching. I didn't get light headed though.... which is a big win. I felt almost like I had gotten a small jolt of adrenaline, but that may have been just from excitement. This is the first time I haven't reacted adversely to things piercing my skin. Then again, I've also been removing and replacing my piercings daily now to clean them. Perhaps this is helping in some way. I certainly hope so. I guess I'll see how I do when I actually stretch them up to 6 gauge. Unfortunately, I have to wait a little bit... I need to let my ears heal up some, build up at least a little scar tissue, before I go torturing them more.

Next test: Tattoos.

09 January, 2007

Strength of Character(s)

When did it come to be that you need a degree in cryptography and computer science in order to build a simple form on a webpage?

I'm running into some issues lately upgrading our web software so that it can be used on international sites, and hence with international languages and character sets. It sounds easy enough, really. Translate the sites and they should be good, right? Well, not quite. As it turns out, there are some major conflicts with the character sets that get thrown around on the web. By default, things use the "latin-1" or "ISO-8859-1" character encoding. It uses one byte per character, giving you a possibility of 256 different characters. This is all well and good, for languages based on latin characters. This isn't so good, however, when you get into other language with special characters... like, say, accented characters.

"But wait!" you might say, "Spanish uses accented characters!" Yes, that is correct. That's actually what got me started on this whole train of research today. A Spanish speaking user input an accented character on a form, which apparently we weren't set up to expect, it got put into an XML document as an "unknown character", the XML ended up failing validation because of this one little accent and things blew up.

So I start reading a bit. I know that there are a number of different character sets that can be used... and I know that "UTF-8" is the one that should be used for things of this nature... it uses multiple bytes per character, allowing for a much wider range of characters to be displayed. Perfect. Surely PHP will support this natively, right? PHP is matured enough that strings should just automagically be UTF-8 and it should just work. Right? Wrong. To quote PHP's strings page:

In PHP, a character is the same as a byte, that is, there are exactly 256 different characters possible. This also implies that PHP has no native support of Unicode. See utf8_encode() and utf8_decode() for some Unicode support.

Lovely. Apparently this isn't so easy. Now I'm stuck reading an entire treatise on character sets in web forms. What the hell? What makes this all so ridiculously difficult? It's obviously something that every web developer is going to have to deal with. My not just make it WORK, out of the box, no effort? What is so bloody difficult about that? Well apparently this document I've found is the one that should help me figure all of it out, from what I've been reading. Then I'll need to read up on the UTF-8 support in PHP, as well as their multibyte string functions... at least I think I'll need those.

This is just stupid.

03 January, 2007


I guess complaining can sometimes do some good, after all! This just appeared in our office:


I swear, taking a dose of tussin is like taking a shot... you pour it, plug your nose, toss it down as quickly as possible and hope it doesn't even touch your tongue.

Come to think of it, "Tussin" might be a good name for a shot in a bar... one of those that just makes you shudder after you take it... like the 3 Wisemen and 4 Horsemen.

02 January, 2007

Last straw

I just got asked to make a basic mundane tech support call. The kind of thing that would be handled by level 1 support, if we had such things. These are things that used to be handled by our admin, who is no longer with the company. This makes me a not happy boy.

Update: sigh. I think I was talking to a level 1 support monkey. He had no idea what he was talking about.