Yearly Archives: 2011

Down With the Sickness

This is a two part post.

Part 1:
First and foremost, the band “Disturbed” is apparently going on an indefinite hiatus after they conclude the Rockstar Energy Mayhem festival.  I’ll be seeing them play in Detroit with mixed emotions.

On one hand, this is a band that has produced alot of very good music.  On the other, they’ve also been the source of jokes and laughs at cheezy sounding grunts/rahs/suack.  It’s like their debut album was catchy, but we also made fun of it.  Their song “Prayer” changed everything.  It was epic and profound.  No longer the brunt of satire, they carried this respect through Ten Thousand Fists, and through some of Indestructible.  However, my unconditional love and respect for this band certainly ceased with the latest album Asylum.

Somehow Disturbed has come full circle in a bad way.  Back to their laughable and comedic roots, the video for “Animal” sealed their fate in my opinion.  It was cheesy and literally laughable to me.  I don’t really fault Disturbed for this; as I’m sure writing music and lyrics over a decade has it’s ups and downs.  I guess I am a little surprised at how far up they were; vs. how low they have come and gone to be.

As Vanlandw honestly and correctly put – “Maybe it’s for the better”.  I think I agree, but it does still effect me to know that I’m seeing Disturbed on what may very well be their very last tour.

Part 2:
I’m pretty sure I had viral meningitis last week.

The HP Discover Experience

Earlier this month, I attended the HP Discover tech forum held in Las Vegas.  With about 10,000 attendees, this is one of the larger technical conventions in the industry.  It covered new products, industry trends, and sprinkled in some top notch entertainment.  I thought I’d take some time to document my thoughts on the experience.

The Entertainment
Leading into several of the keynotes was comedian Jake Johannsen.  Jake did awesome, plain and simple.  He adapted his comedy to the techie crowd amazingly well.  I had never heard of him before HP Discover, but he was a total hit.  He’s apparently been on the David Letterman show more times than any other stand up comic.  I recommend queuing up his special “Jake Johannsen: I Love You” immediately.

In the closing keynote, the comedy kept rolling via Dana Carvey.  The chance to see comedy legend Dana Carvey in a private keynote ceremony do an hour of stand up is something I’m grateful to have been a part of.  While I would say he did not adapt to the techie crowd nearly as well as Jake did, he certainly did comedy justice.  He mixed his impressions (Hanz/Franz, George Bush(s), Church lady, etc.) well while focusing on current news and topics, and he did well to get the crowd involved.  Between Dana Carvey and Jake Johannsen, I laughed a lot more than I had expected to at such a techie conference.  Kudos to HP for booking these two!

Finally the entertainment festivities were capped off with a private concert by Paul McCartney at the MGM Grand.  Now, I’ve not previously been a big fan of Paul or the Beatles (I know, right?) – but the chance to see him in a private showing in Vegas is an opportunity I had to capitalize on.  While some others may have skipped due to early flights or [other Vegas activities] I made sure to take in his entire show.  Paul certainly didn’t disappoint – he played for 2 solid hours with plenty of energy.  The pinnacle of the show was “Live and Let Die” – It got the place jamming and embodied a full rock and roll spirit.  Paul certainly gained a new fan here.

The Conference
Moving on to the techie side of the trip…

HP used this conference to announce new products, new strategies, and new ways of thinking about I.T.  Most of the keynotes focused on having adaptive and scalable systems (read: cloud / private cloud) and using some cool new infrastructure enhancements to achieve that goal.  I learned about some new areas such as the benefits of 3PAR storage, HP’s Cloud Matrix management suite, and the basis of HP’s converged infrastructure.

Equally as interesting as the main keynotes were the breakout sessions.  There were hundreds of sessions to choose from.  From hands on labs, to deep dive keynotes, and new product announcements.  With my job, I focused on sessions related to storage, VMware, and HP Blade systems when scheduling.  Some of the sessions were refreshers while others enforced best practices that our team has already designed systems around.

I had one gem of a session that hit me out of the blue:  “Get hands on with Intel, mobile devices, and social networking”.  This was a session that I simply used as filler where I couldn’t find anything else relevant in my time slot.  It ended up really being my favorite breakout session of the trip.  I blogged about it in further detail here: if interested in an in-depth.  Short version:  A lab session focusing on remote access, P2P administrative meshing, and social network integration.  Very very cool.

Overall, HP Discover for me was a fantastic experience.  I had never been to Vegas, so it was fun to take in a little bit of Sin-City.  As far as Vegas was concerned, I got to check out the Hoover dam, walk the strip a couple times, and have some awesome food!  And overall, I met some great people and had a really great time…

An Awesome Tool:

I learned about this site: while attending the HP Discover tech conference in Las Vegas.  As an R & D developer with Intel, Ylian Saint-Hilaire has created a very unique and powerful toolset (and made much of it open-source)

With, users can do all kinds of very impressive things remotely from almost any web-connected device.

  • Create an administrative P2P mesh between all your computers/devices
  • Access your computers remotely (via KB/mouse/desktop or just the command prompt)
  • Access your files remotely from any computer
  • Synchronize files between computers
  • Power on/off, sleep, hibernate, or simply reboot computers remotely
  • Send messages to the screen remotely
  • Connect with your twitter account to allow for twitter based commands! (for example:  Tweet “@MeshCentral reboot computer computername” would restart my computer.  Still can’t get over how awesome that is.
  • Various mobile device inter-operabilities.

Here’s a screenshot of me accessing my home server via the website.  It’s amazingly functional.

If you have a web-enabled smartphone, your options even get better.  I was able to do a fair amount even just using Opera Mini on my blackberry.  I restarted my computer using my blackberry several times just because “I could”…  But you can even do a lot more if you’ve got an Android device (sync your photos, etc)

Using MeshCentral did feel a bit daunting at first because of how powerful it is – but it’s actually quite the opposite.  You visit the site, create an account, skim the tutorial quickly which will walk you through creating your first “Mesh”, and finally you download the Meshing agent (Available on Windows, Mac OS, Linux, even DD-WRT for routers) and you’re ready to go!

It’s an innovative framework, and it was one of the coolest things I took away from my trip to Vegas for HP Discover.

Certainly worth checking out if you’re a techie who wants to access his/her things remotely, or even help out family/friends with computer issues.  It certainly gets my seal of approval

Site Overhaul

I have taken it upon myself to make some dramatic changes to

Unordered list of changes:

  • Uninstalled Gallery photo publishing software (I never update it, photos go on FB etc)
  • Uninstalled all unused plugins
  • Cleaned out the mysql database. (dropped ~60 tables of g2_*, and also ALOT of tables created by past plugins. If you’re a wordpress dev, don’t ever have your plugin create tables. Store an entry in the options table GOSH.
  • Upgraded lean/cleaned WordPress to 3.2 Beta 1
  • Upgraded immediately to 3.2 Beta 2 which was just released (svn sw ftw)
  • Decide on the new default theme called “twentyeleven”
  • Learn about creating a child theme; which is way more awesome than directly editing theme files – which, I’ve always done in the past.
  • Used my child theme to re-add sidebars to single posts and pages, put in Google analytics code, make various css tweaks

Overall, I like the look of the twentyeleven theme. But there are a couple things that I really do not understand. First:I dont really understand why they remove the sidebar on pages and on single-post permalinks – so it took me some work to figure out how to get that back in there and make it look normal (set pages to use the sidebar template; customized css for all .singular content entries).

Secondly: I cannot stand the header image size. The header in the WordPress 3.0 default theme “twentyten” was 940 x 188. This was too large for my taste, but I rolled with it and grew to be OK with it vs re-writing css to skinny it down. Now, in the 3.2 default theme of twnetyeleven, the header even larger. 1000 x 288. Seriously. TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY EIGHT pixels tall. That is nearly a third of your screen resolution before you can even see any content. It’s literally nothing but ridiculous. Therefore, I have disabled the header image completely. If any person responsible for the header image size in the theme “twentyeleven”: I hope your car dies on you tomorrow in gridlock traffic seriously.

Things are certainly still a work in progress… but I am having fun re-tooling my web presence.

Signs is Better Than Blade II

Signs is better...

“Reaction to Blade II among critics has been mixed”
“Signs garnered generally positive reviews from movie critics.”

Blade II Rating: 6.6
Signs Rating: 6.9

Blade II Score: 52
Signs Critic Score: 59

Rotten Tomatoes
Blade II Score: 59%
Signs Critic Score: 74%

Make no mistake about it. Any widely used movie ratings system or service will tell you that Signs is a better film than Blade II.

It’s not like Blade 2 wins on one or more of these areas. The critics and users alike universally agree by administering a higher rating than Signs on seemingly every possible system. The fact that Russ says Blade 2 is better should alone be enough for any other man to disagree.

That is without mentioning that Signs is a innovative, creative, and attempts to create a level of depth whether or not you agree with the story. Blade II makes itself a cheesy action whore distancing itself completely from the aspects that made the first Blade movie an interesting film. I continue to give solid backing to my stance, where as critics of Signs can seemingly only cite the ending and the water aspects.

I’ll let vanbergs address that via an email:

“I really don’t understand why some people hate Signs so much. Saying it’s stupid because aliens come to our planet full of water, when water can hurt them, is in itself stupid. Humans drown in water. Maybe we should fucking move too. The sun burns our skin. We should fire a thousand arrows in the sky at all times of the day to blot out its rays. As for “swing away” and the whole concept of fate…you may not have agreed with its religious tones or method of execution, but it at least added *some* amount of depth to the story and characters.

Blade II was so bad and awful, it was a truly remarkable achievement in atrocity.”

And finally I’ll close with my own synopsis written some time ago:

While I don’t share the same undying love for Signs that I did upon first seeing it… It at least makes an attempt to tell an original story. Meaning, it’s not just an “alien movie”. The validity and execution of the preacher’s loss and reclamation of faith can be debated on and on… I feel it was done “ok” and I was able to relate to the story fairly well even though I am not religious.

Blade II is a different kind of movie all together. It is all about CGI’d action sequences, blood, vampire slaying, and sheer Wesley Snipes. But even in that, for what it is, it was cheesy BS. Nowhere near as good or innovative as the first Blade movie. It’s not a deep movie, it doesn’t go into a new level or tell an original story. On that alone, Signs is better.

Some may not like the story of Signs. Some may have wanted it to just be an alien movie. But, the point was that it shot for something greater and I don’t think it was a total failure in doing so. It’s an innnovative and creative story – I think that is un-deniable whether or not you like the film. To tell the truth, I actually think the acting in Signs was pretty good as well. From the Culkin kid, to Joaquin Phoenix, and good ol’ Mel G.

I am clearly not alone in my opinion, and clearly I am not wrong.

Everyone’s problem with Signs is whether or not they like the ending. If you don’t like the ending, then it seems for most people that ruins the entirety of the film across the board. Whether or not you liked the ending, watch the films in an attempt to appreciate the originalality of the story.

With that;
Signs is better.

The Best Possible RickRoll Method

The phenomenon known as “RickRolling” is certainly nothing new. Millions have been duped into watching Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”. And many, like myself, have had it done multiple times.

Some strategies to Rickrolling a would be victim might include

  • Non-specific Youtube link
  • Use of URL shorteners like or
  • URL re-direction

I’d like to take the URL re-direction bullet, make it a bit overly technical, and unleash what I am convinced is an undetectable rick roll method. Prerequisites include an apache web server with mod rewrite (probably do-able with IIS as well, but I am unaware of rewriting URLs in IIS).

  • Create a folder in the root of your web directory. Name the folder something like “index.html”.
  • Inside that folder, create a file named .htaccess (note the leading dot. Required in the name)
  • Put the following text inside that .htaccess file:

    Options +FollowSymLinks
    RewriteEngine on
    RewriteRule (.*) "" [R=301,L]

  • Now, you can link somebody to and they will immediately be forwarded to Rick Astley.

I went ahead and implimented this for display purposes here: