Month: August 2007

NASA’s ‘frozen smoke’ named lightest solid

Cooked up in a NASA laboratory, a gel that is 99.8 percent air has been designated the least dense solid in the world by Guinness World Records. Aerogel, one of the world’s lightest solids, can withstand a direct blast of 1kg of dynamite and protect against heat from a blowtorch at more than 1,300C. The substance, described as “frozen smoke” for its hazy blue appearance, is a new variety of a silicon-based material designed to collect particles in deep space....

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Barbeque: Smoked Pork

This weekend I smoked a 7 pound pork shoulder.  This to me is just about the most perfect lazy daddy meal for the weekend barbeque.  It was good, it was fairly easy, and best of all, we have left overs so I’ve got my lunch all set for the next couple of days. The equipment: I use an electric water smoker.  I know that BBQ purists would be horrified as all the cooking shows I’ve seen talk about how the best smoking is done with charcoal.  But let me tell you, my electric smoker plus a handful of hardwood hickory chunks gets the job done, and I can pretty much set it and forget about it for several hours on end (This is especially important for us dads with 3 year olds where we’d rather spend time tending our daughters than a hunk of meat). This weekend, we couldn’t find the hickory chunks, so my wife bought several hickory logs from the local butcher’s market where she got the meat and I used the electric chop saw to cut up my own chunks. The last piece of equipment that I highly recommend would be heavy duty tinfoil.  This should be used after the meat has been smoked for about 6-8 hours.  At that point, you’re pretty much going to get all the smokey flavor you want into the cooked meat and the...

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Sub-Prime Mortgage Market

I’ve been involved with the sub-prime mortgage industry for about 10 years, and recently got out of the industry right before the big fall.  With all the press that has been going on recently, how could I not chime in with my 2 cents. There was a recent article on Yahoo talking about GreenPoint mortgage closing its doors and in it they said: As the nation’s housing market has cooled, the mortgage lending industry has struggled with a dramatic rise in mortgage defaults and foreclosures. Many homebuyers have been forced into default or foreclosure because they haven’t been able to sell their homes or end up owing more than their home is worth. I wasn’t a broker or an underwriter or an agent; I was and continue to be a computer programmer.  Which means I was responsible for building the systems and programs that helped fund the millions of mortgages that are now defaulting.  What has been truly amazing is just how quickly things are falling down around everyone’s ears. During my employment at various mortgage companies, I was in a unique position of not only building the various systems, but since we had to know the entire life cycle of a loan because we were often building these system and modifying them on the fly, I actually took time to study and understand how mortgages work from origination to...

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Raising Chickens

I recently purchased chickens as a project for my daughter and I to raise as a way of teaching her a bit about how food goes from the farm to the dinner table. We’re not planning on using them for meat, but the thought of having fresh eggs was intriguing enough to at least start a small flock and see how it goes. The first thing I did was contact the city and see what kind of regulations they had for backyard farm animals. The city office was very helpful and sent me the 3 pages of regulations – assuming I’ve read them correctly, I can have up to 14 chickens but no roosters. So the next step was then to get some chickens. I went down to the Pomona Feed Store and they had a great selection and the staff was very helpful. Which was great because I had only done the basic research on what it would take to raise a chicken from a couple of websites that i found from googling the subject. We ended up getting 4 types of chickens, and we are starting off with one of each to see how we like the various breeds.   Plymouth Barred Rock Americana They also had several coops for sale for between $200-$400, but being somewhat handy with a saw and a hammer, I ended up...

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OpenCourseWare Initiative

I recently learned about this initiative from a co-worker. As a constant advocate of continuous learning, I am always looking for new avenues of learning that i can do in my spare time. I have really been on the lookout for not only myself, but my daughter as well. Even though she is only three, my wife and I have decided to homeschool her. What this means to me personally is that I get to have an active hand in helping my daughter not only as a father and a mentor, but also share in the joy of learning as she discovers the world around her. What this also means is that I need to learn this stuff too so that I can one day teach it to her. I am a college graduate, but as they say, if you don’t use it, you lose it. The OpenCourseware Consortium web page lists several colleges in the US that participate in this program, including the following: Defense Acquisition University Harvard Law School, Berkman Center for Internet and Society Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Schoolof Public Health Massachusetts Institute of Technology Michigan State University Tufts University University of California, Irvine University of Michigan School of Information University of Massachusetts Boston University of Notre Dame Utah State University Utah Valley State College Wheelock College Now, being a Southern California local, I was especially interested...

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Camping with Kids

I just got back from camping last week with my wife and daughter.  It was great except for the bears, coyotes and southern California wildfires. Not that I’m complaining at all, but it was probably not the best camping trip ever.  It did however have some very valuable lessons learned which I thought I would pass along here based on my personal experience and some of the web sites I’ve read after the fact… Don’t camp alone Contrary to what we’d like to believe, our child does not want to spend days on end with us in the wilderness.  We went up a day early, and all my daughter could talk about was when her friends would get there.  I was probably asked about 50 times, “When are my friends going to be here?” Having other children (and adults) at the campsite definitely helps with keeping all the kids busy and allows us a little down time to sit, relax, and enjoy nature. Take the necessary equipment Extra clothing and shoes, because dirt accumulates rapidly. Warm clothing–it may get chilly especially in the evening so dress in layers. Insect repellent–consider time-release formulas . Sunscreen–they’ll be outside all day. First aid kit–for those little accidents. Familiar bedtime items–pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, dolls etc Flashlight so they have something to help relieve nighttime fears. Glow sticks — they are fun and they...

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Book Review: The Millionaire Next Door

The Millionaire Next Doorby Thomas J. Stanley, William D. Danko Read more about this title… I thought I would start this blog with a book review. One of the best books I ever read was called The Millionaire Next Door. It was an eye opening experience to say the least and I still remember one of the best phrases in the whole book, “Big hat, no cattle.” It gave me the insight I needed to see that not all millionaires wear Rolex watches, drive fancy cars, or dress in flashy suits. In fact, what it does show you is that with a little planning, a bit of discipline, and living below your means, you can grow rich over time and retire a...

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SharePoint 2007–SPS3 protocol

When setting up search content sites, sometimes you’ll see in the default content source (Local SharePoint) that there is a sps3://servername already in the list. The SPS3 protocol handler uses a web services call (using HTTP/SOAP) to enumerate the content and then uses regular HTTP GET requests to get to the actual items. Crawling using the SPS3 protocol handler requires no RPC calls or direct database access to the target farm. That’s the main reason why this type of crawling is supported over WAN links and has a good tolerance to latency. One the first things the crawler will do is use the "Portal Crawl" web service at http://servername/_vti_bin/spscrawl.asmx. The methods in this web service are EnumerateBucket, EnumerateFolder, GetBucket, GetItem and GetSite. It is interesting to see how both "Enumerate" methods will basically return just an "ID" and a "LastModified" datetime, hinting at how SharePoint can do incremental content crawls via this protocol handler… If you just point your browser to that URL yourself, you can find the additional information about the web service, including sample SOAP calls and the WSDL (as you get with any .NET web service). At this point, I could not find much detail on this web service beyond the actual class definition for Microsoft.Office.Server.Search.Internal.Protocols.SPSCrawl. Some good articles for further reading: There is an overview of this way content sources and protocol handlers work at...

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