December 22, 2008

[Shift] Web

[Warning: this is another, hopefully less boring, technical post!]

While Google Docs will likely never beat out Word or Pages in terms of functionality, there is an obvious industry shift towards web apps from desktop apps (why else would Google Chrome exist). I also see some desktop programs beginning to have their own built-in web interfaces so that they can be controlled across the expanse of the net (it's like running an application-specific mini-server).

This leads me to wonder - will someday all applications have their own web interfaces? (damn, that's a lot of open web ports), will OSes have their own web interfaces?, and will someday we see a trend towards web-only interfaces? Since you can always see a web interface locally, perhaps one day we won't even have traditional GUIs, just site-specific browsers distributed with background daemons.

This could, of course, have some very interesting results. For one, people would be using their computers more like servers - and any machine with internet becomes a thin-client. This could lead to more people buying a desktop machine, and then something like a netbook to go with it. From a development perspective, cross-platform UI design would be over (and cross-bowser issues could be minimized as well, if say an app-specific version of WebKit was included). Also, think of the ability to easily place ads into a program from someplace like Google AdSense.
There ore obviously things that just wouldn't work well with a web interface, like real games. And I would be very wary of the load placed on the associated technologies (even now, Google Docs loves to pound me with slow script warnings).

Just something to think about. And maybe I'll be able to say "I told you so" someday ;) !
Oh yeah, and for the record; I love over any day.

December 18, 2008

Functional Filesystems

[Warning: this post is technical and possibly boring!]

There is this idea I've been playing with for quite some time. In IS I often see this tendency to create big, obnoxious databases for storing information. But sometimes we don't need to do this. I have this idea where you simply store information in a predetermined file structure. Then, the code navigates, reads, and interprets this file structure.

For example, I currently have a project where I'm generating a set of html files via local command line php script (I have no server-side scripting). In order to create a new page all I have to do is place a content snippet in a certain folder. The php then knows knows to generate it, and add it to the navigation sidebar in a sub-level navigation section based upon the sub-level directory the file is in. Take a look at

Pinch of Salt also uses a form of this concept. When uploading pictures to a recipe, the picture is stored in a folder based on the recipe's id, which is inside a folder based on the user's id. While Pinch of Salt does use a database to store the location of pictures (it needs to store other things too, unfortunately), the idea is that it may be useful the be able to simply query a folder for it's contents. Or perhaps recursively delete a user's folder if an account needs to be destroyed.

I'm sure this is not original, but that doesn't make it any less interesting.


Despite having been home for a while, I haven't actually been done with all my assignments (hooray for digital delivery!). Well I just completed those, and now that other people are trickling back (and I've gotten some sleep), my break can officially begin (barring outstanding contracts, etc of course).

December 8, 2008

Home Again

I have had the incredible fortune this semester of having no finals. So not only will I have an insanely long break, but I made it home in time to see my visiting newborn cousin. Of course I still have schoolwork to hand in electronically, and it's not going to be very exciting here with no one else around - but I'm going to love the rest.

December 5, 2008

Pinch of Salt Updates

Hey all. I recently redid the stylesheets for It looks better now, but it's still very orange. I'm using orange on purpose, but I may break down and change it at some point.
I've also added an awesome picture feature - very slick if I say so myself. See an example at my page for Chris' Vinaigrette. Not the most amazing recipe to premier on, but it was certainly easy.

November 21, 2008

Hint Up

One of my favorite sites is Mac OS X Hints - the runner of which actually works for MacWorld now. The basic idea of the site is to collect the best user submitted tips and tricks for people using Macs.
Well, one of my submissions got accepted. Check it out:

November 19, 2008

Expert in the Field

So I was having a debate about web browsers with some CS students here at CMU (yeah, we're nerds). And at some point someone was disagreeing with me, and someone else jumped in and said something like, "[Chris] is an IS major; he probably knows what he's talking about." (because IS majors do a lot of web development).
Now I know I'm not an expert quite yet, but sometimes it's nice to win an argument just on the merit of my experience.

November 13, 2008


Spelling and grammar correction can be quite a hoot when the suggestions made are completely off. But I just found out that the grammar check in is even more sophisticated than I could have imagined. Not only does it look for normal grammatical errors, but it seems to check for political correctness too. For example, when I typed in "stewardesses", it suggested I change it to "flight attendants". Youch!

November 12, 2008


I love babies. They're just so precious. And now I am once-more a cousin as my aunt recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. It times like these where I realize just how old I am; I mean, I'm two decades older than this child.
Well, welcome to the world Piper.

November 10, 2008

Down for the Count [Not for the Squeamish]

My god. For the first time in forever I'm sick. Really sick. I'm almost never sick - and I can't remember the last time I vomited. God!

November 9, 2008

Capture the Flag with Stuff

One of the groups here on campus runs a bi-annual game of Capture the Flag with Stuff. The rules are pretty complicated, but basically it's CTF with "magical" items to make things more interesting. It's played in two of the buildings here on campus (which are connected at many points). And it is a great deal of fun (and exhausting). Nothing is quite so fun as silently infiltrating the computer science building.
Speaking of which, while playing I rediscovered a wall plaque that I last saw two years ago as a prospective student. I remember almost losing the our group as I read a select portion of Alan Perlis' epigrams (though, of course, I forgot what they were or who wrote them so I couldn't Google them. Well, running through the halls playing CTF (likely trying to save my life) I found them again!

October 30, 2008

Neon Boombox

aSTARick is now included in Neon Boombox - an application to run on embedded Mac systems in cars.

October 29, 2008

First Snow

Today was Pittsburgh's first snow of the season. I don't care how old I get, I will always like the first snow. Even whipping along on my bicycle it was beautiful (and charmingly cold).
Of course, in typical Pittsburgh fashion, once it stopped snowing, it all melted and became dark, wet, and dreary.

Television Rules the Nation

For the first time ever, I want to thank the TV industry. I greatly appreciate the new trend in keeping intro sequences to a bare minimum. Shows like Heroes, of The Mentalist show just the show's name and creator before throwing you right back into the action. It's beautiful.
Of course we can still enjoy the heinously long intro of shows like Dexter - over a minute and 30 seconds! Bah!

October 25, 2008

No Longer a Teenager

It's official, I'm 20. And other than some excellent presents (thanks all!) that's pretty much all there is to say.

October 16, 2008

Coding Nirvana

You may not be able to relate in terms of programming, but just think about the following in the frame of whatever you love doing...
Have you ever been working hard, enjoying yourself, for hours on end - till the point where you are just exhausted, but at the same time you don't want to stop? Well, I discovered something recently. I reached that point where I just couldn't think straight anymore while programming something one night/morning. I had been just screaming my way through this project, but I could feel my mind slowing down - and I had to deal with the complex logics of time! When it finally got to that point where I couldn't process things in my head anymore, I still didn't want to stop. So I didn't. But as I couldn't think straight I decided to just code from the hip (so to speak). Amazingly, everything just worked! Things which should have needed deliberate contemplation didn't. So was it luck? or was it a state of coding nirvana? This requires further study...
In other news, I got my MacBook back all nice and shiny on Tuesday!

October 13, 2008

:) :(

It's been a busy time. Mid semester break and all. Lot's of deep breathing has been done.
But things seem to be clearing up. I had time to play soccer yesterday - a game. Despite my still-injured ankle I had a lot of fun. Feels good to run around, steal some balls, scrape my knees...
In other news my MacBook took a bit of a spill on Friday. Seems there's no cataclysmic damage, but the top case got warped. And since the top case is connected to the keyboard, well, the price is steeper than I was hoping (but it could have been worse). Plus my MacBook is away for a few days so I'm left without portable computing!
If you would like to contribute to the fix-Chris's laptop fund, donations are welcome.
Also, please buy a shirt - it will get me a good grade in my Entrepreneurial class! I just dropped the prices, so dig in.

October 6, 2008

Mmm, Ouch, Ooh-La-La

Added to my repertoire of really easy things to cook that aren't that expensive: Panino (which you probably know in its true plural form, Panini [thanks Wikipedia]). Anyway, it's good.
Other news; I had my first soccer practice with my IM team on Saturday. And I sprained my ankle about an hour in. Badly - usually I don't hear a cracking sound when I sprain something. I should be better soon enough though.
And last but not least, help me get a good grade in one of my classes by buying a shirt from No really, the more you buy the better my grade will be.

September 29, 2008

AAPL Again

So I'm sure none of you care about my stock market woes - but I'm deep into Apple at this point so I'm going to share anyway:
Can someone tell me why a couple of people on Wall Street have the ability to throw Apple's stock into free-fall? I'm not kidding. Some analysts decided that Apple wasn't going to make much money in the coming quarter - which is absolute hooey (it's the Christmas season for crying out loud). - and AAPL dropped like a rock.
One also said that Apple needs to drop products above $1500. This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Why is a Wall Streeter giving advice to Steve Jobs? Yeah, I would love a cheaper Mac, but as my Daddy always said, "You get what you pay for." (I'm sure you said it at some point, Dad). ASUS et al can drop a hundred cheapo netbooks* - and stupid consumers will buy them up for the next year or so. But when their netbooks break, or can't handle the load of modern computing, then everyone is going to realize their mistake and jump back to quality, modern machines (like Apple's).
Oh yeah, want my guess on who's buying AAPL right now? Those same analysts that's who! Seriously, haven't you guys screwed up the economy enough already?

* For those of you who don't know, a netbook is like a 5 year old laptop that got hit by a shrink ray.

September 22, 2008

$120 + 4 Weeks

This is what makes college great. I'm in this course called Technology Based Entrepreneurship and we just got a new project. The professor broke us into groups, gave each group $120 of her own money, and told us we had four weeks to make as much money as possible with that $120 seed.
The group that makes the most money gets all the money (minus the professor's investment) and the highest grade.
Game on!

September 20, 2008

Not a Day Goes By

Oh wait - it just did. I completely forgot to post yesterday - thus ending my purely awesome streak. Probably a good thing too; I think I've been posting more often then you guys are reading. So with the streak over I think I'll take this time to usher in a new era of less frequent posting.

September 18, 2008


Today was the Technical Opportunities Conference at CMU - aka the job fair for geeks. Despite having some very interesting things going on already, I decided to take a look around. Plus, most of my classes canceled for the event.
It's actually a lot of fun if you do it right. Some people just go because everyone is giving out free stuff, but that's such a waste. Other people are really intense about the whole thing, and I think that just ruins it. And some people end up standing in line forever just to talk to some big name companies (and I really hate lines of any kind).
What I did today (for the first time, and it ended up really great) was to search for the companies without big lines, but who also had very interesting booths. Usually I didn't know who they were, and sometimes I couldn't even tell what they did. But if you just start talking to some of the people manning the booths you can have a lot of fun. So often I found myself having really interesting conversations (sometimes about them, sometimes about me, and sometimes about something completely different). These are the people who are doing things that are going to be really big tomorrow, and you can learn a lot from them. And since there is no line behind you, there is no pressure to keep things moving. Sometimes I got so interested in what was being said I then decided to drop my resume on them.
Once again, I have found that the key to life is to be cool, confident, and relaxed.

September 16, 2008


All of you people who keep insisting Gmail is out of beta - shut up! You are beginning to piss me off. Gmail is still in beta. Before you ever say something like that again, look at the Gmail website. See the word under "Gmail" in the logo (see above for example)? Yes, that is the word "beta". It's not that hard for someone to figure out - and you look like an idiot when someone proves you wrong.

September 15, 2008

When The Lights Go Down In The City

It's scary.
So Pittsburgh seems to always have problems. Last year it was the water pipes. This year high winds have screwed with the entire power grid. One of the busier intersections near where I live (and on my way to campus) happens to be effected - so it has no traffic lights. Which is even scarier since I take risks just by riding a bike. And then it gets even worse at night a good distance of the street is unlit.
This are has been dark now for more than 24 hours. And we don't have emergency lighting. Or cops controlling traffic. Can someone please call the National Guard - it may be too easy for them, but the city of Pittsburgh obviously can't handle it.

September 14, 2008

Pinch of Salt - Beta!

OK everybody - I've put some massive coding time into, and it's time for you to go crash it! That's right, head on over to - where the only recipes so far are my mother's (which were mainly imported from her previous cookbook app).
Let me know what you think. Remember, this is a beta (actually more of an alpha), so some things are still not done. Notably: user based search, help docs, and testing in anything other then Safari and Firefox.

September 13, 2008

Intellectual Argument

I could survive on pure intellectual argument for about a month (or until I dehydrated). Being back in that academic community means that there is always someone ready to duke it out with you on any topic you could imagine. It's pure awesome.
And then I go home and make pancakes.

September 12, 2008

A Shipping Story

On April 9, 2008 at a little after 1:00 in in the afternoon an individual purchased a pink iPod Shuffle from a reputable eBay seller. Six days later he realized that he had entered the wrong shipping address - but alas! - it was too late. The package had already shipped, and had reached its destination. It seemed the poor pink iPod would be lost forever.
On August 22, 2008 (over four months later), by some miracle of the US Postal Service, his package wandered back to its origin point in Pittsburgh, PA. Luckily, this was just one day after the seller returned from summer vacation. The seller immediately contacted the buyer and informed him of the good news.
Due to some logistic issues, the buyer had the seller put the iPod on ice until things could be worked out.
However, today, that pink iPod is going to embark once more on a journey. And hopefully this time it will be its last!

September 11, 2008

I Take It back

I take it back. Apple definitely put out some awesome stuff on Tuesday. As Engadget noted, Apple is now gunning for the handheld gaming market - just see the latest ad if you don't believe me (and yes, this is BIG, CRAZY NEWS). The new iTunes 8 is also very nice. Although it took Genius forever to catalogue all my music (understandably) - it was worth it. The Genius playlist is totally awesome. And I really like the new (albeit acquired) visualizer.

September 10, 2008


I had a veritable feast last night (OK, a relative feast). I was starving, and I am never starving. You'll laugh, but salad (with my homemade dressing) and pizza rolls, followed by a variety of cookies, is really satisfying. It could have something to do with the fact that on Tuesday and Thursday, dinner is my first meal of the day (I don't eat breakfast, and my day is pack with classes). :)

September 9, 2008


So I was right, and I was wrong. There was a bit more from Apple today than a simple product refresh. But I was still expecting a tad more. Seems the stock market thought so too. Shame.
Anyway, if you're interested, check out this Engadget post for a pretty good play-by-play.

September 8, 2008


Tomorrow is Apple's "Let's Rock" event. Considering the time of year, a holiday season iPod refresh is expected by everyone. There are, of course, rumors of all sorts of other things too. But we'll get back to that.
Taking a look at Apple's stock (AAPL) today, we see a considerable drop in value. This is strange considering tomorrow's event. Historically, we see an uptick before an Apple event as anticipation mounts, with a sharp drop right after as people cash in and/or are disappointed. Why the down tick then? Well, I've heard it suggested that some big players are fiddling with the market, that the whole market is down (which is kinda true), and that there just isn't much expected from this event.
That last one is what certain analysts are saying of tomorrow; that it will disappoint. I disagree. Apple itself is unusually vocal about the importance of this event - which it would never do without justification. So I'm saying we're going to see more than just your average iPod refresh. Also notable, expectations aren't that high in the first place - so I don't think anyone is actually going to be disappointed. So, putting my money where my mouth is, I have picked up more Apple shares while the fruit is ripe (ha ha).
Oh, Microsoft is also pegged to release new Zunes tomorrow. Which is hilarious. Not only does no one care about the Zune - they especially won't notice because of the Apple event.

September 7, 2008

Spore Day

So the highly anticipated game of Spore comes out today. It is truly an awesome looking game (and unfortunately i don't think my computers' specs are up to par). I could try to explain it - but you should just watch this awesome trailer for the game:

September 6, 2008

Two Tours

I missed it last year, but last night I went on the KGB Underground Tour. The KGB is easiest-ly described as an anarchy group (but not dangerous), so this tour is the things-the-admissions-tour-would-never-include tour. It was very entertaining - but that wasn't all.
After the tour I broke off, but ended up back where a few remaining people from the tour were. I soon caught wind that there was shortly going to be a second, better, tour. See, during the first tour KGB was kind enough to point out certain places on campus that "don't exist". Well, this second tour certainly did not go to any of those "non-existent" places. He he.

September 5, 2008

Bill Gates Traumatizes Millions

I hate to just echo the Blogosphere* - but I can't pass this one up. In an attempt to rejuvenated their public image, Microsoft has begun airing a series of ads with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld, the latter who has apparently been paid $10 million (and is actually a Mac user). One wonders how the aging crypt-keeper of technology and the has-been comedian could help anyone's image, but we'll see. Most terrify is the end of this first ad, where Bill Gates booty-shakes. To see for yourself (and wind up scratching your head):

*I apologize in advance - I am not going to cite any sources because this is just all over the place.

September 4, 2008

Bon Anniversaire!

So yesterday was actually the one year anniversary of this blog's first post.
Birthday gifts for the blog can be sent to:

Chris J. Shull, the Blog
c/o Chris J. Shull...
The Blog likes extension cables, Twizzlers, and iPod Touches - among other things.

September 3, 2008


What's better than pancakes for breakfast? Fresh, home-made pancakes for breakfast, that's what! My Bisquick got, ummm, mothball flavored while in storage (yeah, that was bad). So I got more yesterday.
Some of you may be surprised that I'm eating breakfast at all. Luckily my sleep schedule is crazy, so I've been waking up really early (so your breakfast is my lunch) - early enough to be hungry for food before I leave. Thus, I had pancakes today.
I love those moments where life is just gooooooood.

September 2, 2008

Google Chrome

Announced yesterday, the beta of Google's new Google Chrome web browser will be released today. Based on WebKit (yes, just like Safari!), Chrome looks to be like an OS-in-a-browser - if it works as described. Seeing as Google's bread and butter these days is web apps, I'm guessing they got frustrated with current browser limitations and decided to make their own. The question is, will it be adopted? The sad truth is that most users still use IE The Terrible, despite the offerings of Firefox, Safari, etc. I'm curious how Google plans to change this.
Also, check out the informative and entertaining Google Chrome comic book.
As of writing, the Google Chrome website is still unavailable.

September 1, 2008

On the Hand

Anyone who has spent any time around me has likely noticed that I often take quick notes on the back of my hand. I've always said that it is much easier to lose a piece of paper then it is to lose my hand - and if I lose my hand I have bigger problems anyway.
Well, I finally found a good reason why this practice may not be so great. Last night I slept with my hand pressed against my face. Low and behold, I awoke to find that which was on my hand had transfered over to my cheek! (A picture is not forthcoming.)

August 31, 2008

I Love Whiteboards

Going back to Thursday, running a lab was ... interesting. I certainly know a few things I have to improve. But I think the main thing was it was the first time these people had coded in a while, so things should become easier.
I also gave one on one help to someone a couple of days ago - much more fun. And I discovered that sometimes the best way to teach code is not on a computer. Whiteboards are so much easier, and faster.
Today I have extra help hours. Hopefully people will show up so I'm not bored silly (ironically, I never went to extra help).
In other news, I am thirsty (though I'm sure most of you know this already). Since arriving in Pittsburgh 7-8 days ago I have downed eight 2L sodas and a jug of grapefruit juice. And that's just in my dorm.

August 30, 2008

What's in a Name?

The newest CMU-built dorm has been renamed. For the past couple of years it has been called "New House" (yes, very creative). However, at some point over the summer it became "Stever House" - and since this was poorly advertised, it is throwing everyone but the freshmen through a loop (until I saw the new signage I thought it was a joke). That aside, this is what I really want to know:

  1. How much money does it take to rename a dorm?
  2. Who (other than this mysterious "Stever") has that kind of money?
  3. Why hasn't my cost of tuition or housing dropped?
Cause really, wouldn't it be nice if the university passed the generosity of Stever on to the students?

August 29, 2008


So my family has gotten a new puppy - an australian shepherd. I haven't seen it, but I'm told I should imagine "a black puppy" like one of these "with white paws and chest".

August 28, 2008

Me Update

So today's just going to be real quick.
My classes aren't that bad (but, you know, they're classes). Today is also going to be my first time actually doing CA stuff for that programming class. I'll be leading my section in lab work. I'm looking forward to it. It's kind of strange though, cause the people in my class are actually people I know, who are the same year as me (some are even IS).

August 27, 2008

Party Tricks

Everyone needs a party trick or two. You know, when you want to draw attention to yourself, or you need to do something to un-bore everything. Easy example: magic tricks. My father likes hanging a spoonfrom his nose (apparently this is hard for people who haven't broken their noses).
What do I do? I've got a few - but I always like to whip out old student IDs from when I had a different haircut. Also fun: I can hack into a Mac in less than five minutes* (and no, no damage is done, and I don't take it apart).
*Before you say that this is a massive security problem, it isn't (I'll spare you the whole discussion, but trust me, I'm an expert).

August 26, 2008

Surprise Maintenance

I really like the maintenance guys for CMU housing. They usually get right on top of problems (esp. if it's important). But sometimes it's also a bit startling.
I've only been around once when maintenance actually showed up (and I was in the shower nonetheless), but they have this habit of fixing things - without telling you. For example, I requested a mildew-free shower curtain last night. I get back to the apartment today and walk into the bathroom, and something is different. Low and behold; new shower curtain. But they didn't leave a note or any other indicator that they were there. This is fine, easily noticed - but that's not always the case.
Some of our lights require special bulb replacement when they burn out. So after requesting a new bulb you just have to flick the switch every one and a while to see if maintenance has been by to fix it yet.
I don't know, I just find it odd considering we've had paper for millennia, and email for decades.

August 25, 2008

Year Two, Day One

Today is the first day of classes. My schedule is from 9:30AM to 9:30PM, but the three classes are dispersed throughout hat time. Yes, my Monday is wretched.
Luckily, the first one is actually my new job. I'll be CAing (Course Assistant) for a programming class (15-111). Simply put, a CA is like a TA, but not as intense. It's going to be a lot of fun!

August 24, 2008


I just played a totally wicked game of Risk, which I won (and I never win). For Risk players out there - this will be fun:
I started my turn with 8 + 15 armies from cards. In an all-or-nothing effort, I fought another player down to the wire, and beat him. I then took his 4 risk cards, in addition to my remaining 2. Due to some fun bits of game rules I had to immediately cash in cards, and luckily I now had 2 whole sets. So I had 20 + 25 armies to place in the middle of my turn. At this point the 2 remaining players forfeit.

August 23, 2008


Here at I keep three sets of traffic logs (plus download logs); one master list of my own, as well as two third party ones (Google Analyics and StatCounter).
Right now this data isn't really important, but it's still really fun. For example, I can see who is linking to my site (I was able to understand the German blogger - but not the Japanese one). I can also see where people are (for some reason the Germans have always given me a lot of attention - second only to the USA). And thankfully there are more hits from Mac users than Windows users!
If you haven't already, be sure to check out the visitor map (based off my own logs) to see a piece of this in action.

August 22, 2008


Late today I'll finally be able to get into storage. You know you don't really notice things like cups - until someone lock all yours up in a closet and won't let you have them when you need 'em. Other things I'd like to have:

  • Other Tableware
  • Cooking Stuff
  • Towels
  • Real Shampoo
  • Other things that are in storage, and I forget are there - but will want. 

August 21, 2008

This Blog Now Written in Pittsburgh [Updated]

Time to unpack!
But first - apologies to my sister who I neglected to say goodbye to. Love ya!
Update: It's also via an 802.11n Wi-Fi connection!

August 20, 2008

Love Chicken

Have you ever played love chicken?
Seen how close two people can get
Before one of them starts kissin'?
But tell me this; who wins the bet?
Oh how many times have I lost this game?
I was tempted to just let this one sit without a word (though obviously I'm not). I just like the idea of two people hurtling towards each other; not necessarily toward their own destruction, but toward something infinitely better.
I wrote this down the shore one day - and unlike many of my other poems, I wrote it in a state of utter happiness.

August 19, 2008

Last Days

So I've entered that bittersweet timeframe before heading back to Pittsburgh where everything seems to be a last time. For example, yesterday was my last official day as Manager of the Barclay Farm Snack Bar. And while not having to go to work is nice, I will miss the experience. I've never had a job quite like it before (and depending on how things work out, may never again).
Then again, I'm already lining up some awesome future employment ... but more on that later.

August 18, 2008

Speedy Voicemail

You ever get sick and tired of listen to those obnoxiously long voicemail messages? Sometimes it feels like forever before the beep. Not only are some people's recordings long, but the automated machine just keeps talking and talking (no, I do not want to page this person - I don't even know what that does).
Well, I've* discovered a way around all that. Usually you can skip right to the beep by press a just one button - but it changes depending on the carrier of the person you are calling. This results in one tiny, little problem - you can't just randomly hit the jump keys because some carriers have other carrier's jump keys assigned to other functions. For example, "*" is Verizon's jump-to-voicemail key, but is also AT&T/Cingular's key to check voicemail. So what do you do?
Well, in my experience, trying the jump keys in the following order has resulted in no problems:

1 - * - #
Just be sure to check between tries - you don't want to accidentally record key tones in your message.
In case you're curious, these are the carriers I know (if you know any others - comment!):
  • AT&T/Cingular: 1
  • Verizon: * or #
Now I just need a way to block peoples' ghetto-rap ringback tones.
*Special thanks to E. N. D. for his help.

August 17, 2008

One Month Streak Celebration!

Today marks one whole month of straight posting. Starting July 17th I've posted once a day, every day.
In celebration I am going to let you all see the totally wicked (I think) visitor map as plotted on Google Maps:

Go to Visitor Map
It's always been there - you just didn't know it. It shows the approximate location of the last 100 unique visitors. (So do your part and keep your marker on the map.)
Here's looking to another great month!

August 16, 2008


You know those scenes in movies where they start with focus on a particular thing and then "zoom-out" until you can see the entire Universe? Well you should try that. Only don't think about the scene (as I usually do), but focus on yourself.

Start by picturing just yourself. Then Jump back until you can see the building you are in, then the city you are in, and then the country you are in. Remember to focus on where you are. Now imagine where you are in the Solar System, and then the Milky Way, and then the Universe.
Trust me, if you do it right it's an interesting experience.

Meditation Imagination

Every once and a while I like to challenge my mind. While imagining something can be fairly easy - it is far harder to simultaneously conceptualize something in it's entirety.

Start easy. Relax, close your eyes, and block everything else out. Now begin imagining a wooden pencil. Build it up. Start with the graphite core. Hold that in you mind as you add the wood, and the yellow paint, and the eraser, and the metal bit that holds the eraser on. When you have the entire pencil, every part of it together, in your mind, just hold it there a long as you can. Your mind may be tempted to focus on just one part at a time - but you must focus on every part at the same time.
Once you've got that, work your way up to more complex things. If you want a challenge try skipping to something really complicated - it's exhausting.
If you're wondering where I got this one, I got it out of the Ender's Game series by Orson Scott Card. Near the end of that series the (totally sci-fi) theory is posed that if a being could hold the entirety of an object in their mind, then they could essentially teleport that object anywhere in the universe. This was, of course, impossible for any human mind to do. But just for fun I like to try to try anyway.

August 15, 2008

Tech on TV

Never believe the things you see on TV - especially when it comes to technology. First off, when you see the screen of a device on TV - realize that is not the real screen. It has been added in in post-processing CGI. The easiest way to tell this is when an idiot actor holds a device, like the iPhone, upside down - but the screen is magically right-side-up.
But what really gets me foaming at the mouth is the bullshit technology they use on some detective shows. If Numb3rs can hire mathematicians to verify math, then why can't CSI: NY put a geek on staff? Surely a geek is cheaper. Sometimes it just seems like writers got hold of a list of hacker terms and figured they could pull the wool over the viewers' eyes; the terms are all real, but they aren't used in the right way. It's absolutely ridiculous.

August 14, 2008

Free Energy by Meditation

Sometimes when I'm feeling tired, this exercise really helps me out. It's especially good when just waking up.

Find a comfy chair, or perhaps your bed. Relax. Look around you.
Now close your eyes and steady your breathing. Make sure all your muscles are relaxed. Imagine the room your are in - visualize that which is around you.
Now focus on you body; your skin, your fingertips, where your body comes in contact with something else. Keep focusing on that.
Now begin to draw energy from the world around you. Feel your body and mind draw strength straight from the air around you. Feel it gather on your skin, absorb through your pores, and energize your body.
When you have had your fill, open your eyes and enjoy your rejuvenated spirit.
Granted, this doesn't always work. But if you can manage to suspend your disbelief, you should give it a try.

August 13, 2008

Something Meditative

I wouldn't necessarily say I meditate, though I do tend to do a lot of contemplation. There are so many reasons to just think (other than when you need to, of course). For example, I like to be aware of my own self; to evaluate my life, and my actions; and to contemplate that which is around me. And these pondering can result in any number of interesting consequences.
I'm sure you all have you own little mental exercises. And for those of you sitting there thinking, "Goodness gracious, I don't." I have good news; I'm going to start sharing my mental rituals with you. And I encourage everyone to try them - like I said, they have interesting consequences.

August 12, 2008


So I love RadioShack - seriously, how can any geek not? But sometimes they just get under my skin. Not only do they sell things they shouldn't, but I always want to spell it "RadioSchack" (like it's German!). Oh, and their latest ad campaign has a funny flaw.
The ad suggests that RadioShack and technology equals peace. In fact they use a graphic similar to the following:

+ + + =

But let's take a second and apply some algebra:
- = + +

Does that mean that if we had peace, and had no RadioShack then we'd all have technology? Sometimes over thinking is just plain fun!

August 11, 2008

A Rhyme Thing

Another one pulled out of cold storage:

They all want to hold her hand,
But she claims they do demand.
So she runs from ev'ry suitor-
Even those that would suit her.
Sometimes rhymes help the flow of a poem. But sometimes I just enjoy the essence of a rhyme. This one fits so nicely, but it is also kind of ... unexpected.

August 10, 2008

Back Up!

I have recently become painfully aware of the importance of backing up computers. I myself experienced hard drive failure during the end of last semester, and a close friend of mine just lost everything this weekend.
Don't think that it'll "never happen to you", because it probably will. Despite the fact that modern technology works marvels to prevent data loss, bad things still happen to good people. Your drives may be old, they may be poor quality, or you may have jostled your laptop just a tad too much - it doesn't matter why, it's just plain devastating when it happens.
And it's preventable. There are so many products out there that can save your digital life. Apple's Mac OS X Leopard even has automatic backup software, called Time Machine, built right in. All you need is an extra hard drive to back up to. Best of all, if you look in the right places, hard drives are dirt cheap these days (i.e. a 500GB drive for $60, or these others).
It's really easy to set up, you don't need to have it plugged in all the time, and you can still use the backup drive to store other things.
So don't let me say, "I told you so!".

August 9, 2008

She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain When She Comes

I am now the proud owner of ... (drumroll please) ...! This was my favorite, and I'm glad you all agreed.
It may not look like anything right now - but I'll be sure to let you all know when things get cooking (I'm sorry - I had to, just once).

August 8, 2008

Hello World!

If all has gone according to plan you are now accessing this blog on the new and improved, out of beta, website. Those of you with old bookmarks may have gotten 404 errors when trying to get your fix today - so update your bookmarks accordingly.
Please be sure to let me know if you are experiencing any growing pains. I know that there may be some issues with browser compatibility - but I'll continue working on it. However, all seems to be working on the latest versions of Safari and Firefox, and the Blog can be accessed safely via the archives if need be. Browser compatibility is currently an issue do to Ajax on some of the pages. For example, the Closet Poetry page always fetches the latest version of a poem from GDocs, and the Blog exercises some server-side caching and automagic page updating (that's right - you never have to reload the Blog page!). Also improved are certain pages' load speed (though this could also still use some tweaking).

August 7, 2008

Square #5

What do I want,
Or I believe?
I've got two lives;
Now which to lead?
Have you ever been at a crossroads of you life - and been able to tell?

August 6, 2008

Carmen Sandiego

As you get older, you realize just how foolish you've been in the past. Take, for instance, Carmen Sandiego. I used to love playing those games. But I never really questioned the things which she stole; like, the Eiffel Tower.
To start off, why would anyone want to steal the Eiffel Tower? Second, how would you be able to steal the Eiffel Tower? It's huge and it's surrounded by people constantly. But let's just say you felt like stealing it and actually pulled it off; Where would you hide the Eiffel Tower?

August 5, 2008

Sound Off!

I'm making a new cookbook web app. Mainly because I want to access my mother's recipes from wherever I am. But I'm thinking of hosting on its own domain. The problem is finding a good one that is available. Which of these sounds better:,,,,, or
Sound off in the comments!

August 4, 2008

Release Your Inhibitions (Feel the rain on your skin)*

I haven't challenged you in a long time, so here we go:
All of you with portable music players (iPod, CD - cassette if you must), I want you to take it with you everywhere. Make sure you've got some music that really moves you - physically that is. Cause here's the challenge;

Next time you find yourself in a public area where no one knows you,
just start dancing to your music.
That's right; break it down, pop it, pump it, grind it, boogie oogie oogie till you just can't boogie no more**.
Yeah, no one will no what you are dancing to (they won't even be able to hear it). They will likely give you funny looks. Forget them. They do not know you, you do not know them, and you will likely never see each other again. Do it in the supermarket, parking lots, or where-ever (my favorite place is BJs). Enjoy the dance and revel in your freedom!
Want extra bonus points (on top of the ones you get for completing this challenge)? Record yourself dancing and send it to me!

*from Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
**from Boogie Oogie Oogie by A Taste Of Honey

August 3, 2008

More From the Archives

The archives are huge. But frankly, it's becoming hard to find the stuff worth sharing anymore. Here's something I think makes it though:

The thoughts inside my mind are gib'rish,
With poems of love and dreams of kisses.
I'd wish for you with all three wishes;
You are the one which my heart misses.
No analysis; I think you get the idea.

August 2, 2008


I got a visit from the health inspector yesterday. And guess what, the BFSC Snack Bar passed! We had a couple of minor problems - but nothing serious, and it was certainly better than years before. And of course, this is the first time that passing was actually my responsibility. But the whole thing was lightning fast (maybe 15 minutes), so I couldn't be happier.

August 1, 2008

Riddle Me Poetry

How would you know what up feels like
If you had never felt so down?
And could you ever just stand still
If you'd never spun round and round?
The idea is that you need to feel the whole range of emotion before you can understand your self at any given time. More simply put; it's all relative.
I actually tried really hard to expand this thought, but it was just too strained. So here it is now in its petite glory.

July 31, 2008

Something Serious

When becoming an atheist there are many things that must be rejected and other things which must be accepted. One of the scariest of those is accepting your own mortality. Once you realize that there is no life after death - all that's left is death. No one, of course, wants to die - but at least the religious have something to look foreword to (science fiction actually has an answer to atheistic life-after-death called "ascension", but I don't buy into it).
Which makes me think; I have already used up a quarter of my life. Just how long am I going to have to struggle to obtain complete happiness? When I finally get everything I want in life - how long am I going to have to enjoy it? Factor in probable senility in my later years and it really gets me questioning things. Maybe I should be putting my full efforts into getting thing I want now, so that I can enjoy them for as long as possible.
And maybe that's morbid, or maybe it has forced me to understand exactly what I want in life. I know I want worldly success - and I have a general plan on how to get there. I know I want the love of my future wife - so I don't fool around when it comes to women (and maybe that's a scary idea - but it just means that I don't go for anyone who I don't think is worth it). I even know I want kids at some point.
How many people (guys?) my age can say these things? Maybe I'm just crazy - but I'd like to think that knowing what I want in life makes me a better person. And if you never set goals for yourself, how can you ever expect to get what you want?

July 30, 2008


I dedicate the following mythic passage to a similar woman in the present, who should certainly keep the lesson in mind:

The first woman was named Pandora. She was made in heaven, every god contributing something to perfect her. Venus gave her beauty, Mercury persuasion, Apollo music, etc. Thus equipped, she was conveyed to earth, and presented to Epimetheus, who gladly accepted her, though cautioned by his brother to beware of Jupiter and his gifts. Epimetheus had in his house a jar, in which were kept certain noxious articles, for which, in fitting man for his new abode, he had had no occasion. Pandora was seized with an eager curiosity to know what this jar contained; and one day she slipped off the cover and looked in. Forthwith there escaped a multitude of plagues for hapless man,--such as gout, rheumatism, and colic for his body, and envy, spite, and revenge for his mind,--and scattered themselves far and wide. Pandora hastened to replace the lid! but, alas! the whole contents of the jar had escaped, one thing only excepted, which lay at the bottom, and that was HOPE. So we see at this day, whatever evils are abroad, hope never entirely leaves us; and while we have THAT, no amount of other ills can make us completely wretched.
(from The Age of Fable by Thomas Bulfinch)

July 29, 2008

Someone Else for a Change

I always share my poetry with you all, but this time I'd like you to take a look at someone else's work. Take a look at the lyrics to Bleeding Love. (performed by Leona Lewis; written by Ryan Tedder and Jesse McCartney - source).
Other than the fact that Leona Lewis sings this song incredibly - I have to give real props to the writers. Maybe they wrote it so anyone could identify with it, or maybe I'm just keen on identifying with it - but the story told here feels very familiar.

July 28, 2008

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You!

Whew! Almost missed posting today.
Anyway, I have nothing else to write so I'm going to let you know about some of the things I'm working on.
Bored out of my mind, I have begun a Spreadshirt store that I am slowly adding t-shirt designs to. Nothing fancy; just simple geek garb. It will be featured on my new website. And I don't expect to sell a thing.
My much anticipated ballad is nearing first draft state - just one stanza left to go. I forget when I actually started it - but it's been something like a year in the making.
Speaking of which - I have already begun companion piece to that ballad. I may decide that they should be released simultaneously, or not.
And hopefully I'll have something better to blog tomorrow.

July 27, 2008

More Drivel from the Poet

Pressed to find something to blog today I dug through the archives and elevated this to "sweet nothing" status:

Thirteenth Sweet Nothing
by Chris J. Shull

Long ago in a lonesome time
Appeared a girl who was like none.
And when her hand held tight to mine
We danced all day upon the sun.

And I'm no more the lonesome knight;
Now blessed by her perfect design.
She makes makes me sing and dance all night
So long to being left behind.

July 26, 2008

Restoring the Linearity

Long time readers may remember that I jumped from Sweet Nothing Nine to Eleven. Here is the missing link:

Tenth Sweet Nothing
by Chris J. Shull

Every day you taunt me
With that smile on your face.
Whenever I reach out
I am put in my place.
I just want to stop you
Where you stand - in your tracks;
So to take time to prove
That it's me that you lack.
And this won't change a thing
But I wanted to say
You're the girl of my dreams-
Now go push me away.
Again, another one that's just been sitting around forever but never made it out into the wild. I guess it was a mixture of not being content with the middle (I still don't think it's great - but it's the best I've got), and just wanting to put other things out for consumption. That said, I really just like the way the end sounds. Eat it up!

July 25, 2008

Square #4

Along I walk
Past mourning doves.
My thoughts with you;
My one true love.
This one is one of my very earliest (the first?) squares. It's a bit corny - but I like it anyway.
Also, mourning doves are kind of a thing of mine, though this is the only piece I have which references them (oddly enough, I only found out that it was "mourning" and not "morning" when doing this post). When I used to ride the bus to school (ages ago it seems), the only sound in the morning, before the sun even came out, would be their lovely song (listen). Despite their not-so-magnificent coloring this dove is still beautiful. I love that I can find them everywhere - even around my Pittsburgh apartment. And when the mourning dove takes flight it displays a hidden radiance; the tips of its tail are pure white - it really took my breath away the first time I saw it (picture sources: 1, 2):

July 24, 2008

Nugget of Wisdom

Life is a series of moments in which the answer to any given moment does not even match the question of the next.

July 23, 2008

Fair Warning

I've been working on redoing the entirety of in my own code (it's actually quite cool, for any of you geeks out there). But this post isn't about that. This post is fair warning that if you watch my blog via - then it will be changing URLs in the near future (the RSS feed will remain the same). If for some reason your daily fix isn't coming up, just point your browser to and navigate to the new blog page. Then bookmark.
For now - take a look around the beta site. It's a work in process, so improvements will be made (and fun features added). The snazzy parts are in the poetry section and the home page. The crazy backend fun is in the blog and the app pages.

July 22, 2008

Square #3

Inside my dreams
It felt so right:
The holding tight,
The kisses light.
Ahh, so true. This is such a perfect capturing of myself.
I'm not too fond of the rhyme scheme though ("ABBB") - kind of feels like a list of "-ight"s.

July 21, 2008

Ethics & Morality

I can't believe I haven't written about this before, but here goes:
I usually consider myself someone with very well defined morals (and I do my best to live by them). But when my iPod reselling extravaganza was in full swing I realized that, in terms of the business world, I sometimes couldn't figure out what was right and and what was wrong (i.e. Is it right to sell something to someone at markup when they could get a better price at a public website?). I had always thought the idea of a course on ethics was ridiculous, but I now want to take one of these classes just so I can see where other people stand (and then draw my own conclusions).
And I've been questioning myself again as manager of the BFSC snack bar. From what I understand, my sole reason for employment is to turn around a foundering enterprise. But just how far can I go? It a classic question of ends, means, and justification. If I don't care about customer satisfaction and disregard the happiness of my employees I could probably generate a fortune. But how far can I push those limits and still like who I am? For now I'm going with, as in so many things, happy mediums.

July 20, 2008


Have you ever watched the movie Accepted (imdb synopsis)? It's a surprisingly enjoyable watch. Anyway, while I was watching that I couldn't help but think, "Make up my own classes? That idea might actually have merit.". Then I realized that CMU has just that: student taught courses (in fact, I took one last Spring). While courses do need approval, I've heard the only real requirement is people willing to take your course. Please take a look at the Fall '08 StuCo course list to see what I mean:

July 19, 2008

Square #2

Another poetry square:

You me, I'll see.
I ask - but gasp;
Me choke (dumb bloke).
"Run hide!", mind cried.

This is a fun one for a number of reasons (disregarding the actual subject matter, of course). First off, I hope that you know exactly what I'm talking about despite the brevity of the work. Who hasn't felt this way at some point? (OK, don't answer that - it might make me feel bad.) The fact that it's all been boiled down to a handful of words amuses me. Secondly, the rhyming is actually done within each line, as opposed to my normal habit of rhyming of the lines themselves.

July 18, 2008

Data Mining!

An important part of IS is data mining - or taking raw data and getting information out of it. I always thought it sounded dull - but that was before I could data mine the sales at the Barclay Farm Snack Bar (which I manage). I use the sales data from the point-of-sale computer (which I designed, and wrote the software), and determine pricing, staffing, promotions, etc. I won't bore you all with too much information, but I can see things like how many times someone has purchased a small water ice with french fries (54 times).
I can also make pretty graphs (axis values have been stripped intentionally):

July 17, 2008


I have a certain set of poetry which I like to refer to as "squares". These poems have the same number of syllables per line as they have lines (typically four lines of four syllables). I enjoy them because it is a challenge to be coherent in such little space. They are also right to the point. And they are fun.
I realized that I have quite a few of these, so I thought I'd run a series of them. So here is number one (they'll actually be numbered as I publish them, not as I wrote them):

Amazed I am
That one like you
Took such as me-
Beast from the zoo.

This is one of my earliest squares, and I just enjoy the thought of the last line. It also reminds me of Beauty and the Beast, which I enjoyed doing a great deal.
Oh, and I decided this one should go out first because it is one of the more humorous, and I didn't feel like anything heavier right now.

July 14, 2008

"Your Timing Sucks"

I just wrote this one, and I like how it turned out:

Twelfth Sweet Nothing
(Time, Space, Love Continuous)
by Chris J. Shull

A thousand years do I foresee
To find a-one that's fair as she.
But sail I will from sea to sea
With hopes that I may get lucky.

A thousand miles from here to there
With fears that I will get nowhere.
But I can stand the wear and tear
To find someone for which to care.

A thousand heartbreaks in between
Could cause a mighty oak to lean.
But even as my eyes do stream
I'll hold on to my lovely dreams.

As the subtitle would suggest, I like the play of adding love to space-time. I also like the way the meter here is (or nearly is) dead on iambic tetrameter.

July 11, 2008

$ummer Rant

Before I start this rant let me say that I love my friends. But sometimes they drive me crazy. Mainly it's the general consensus that the more money spent, the more fun an activity is. This is absurd (despite the supply/demand implications). Personally I have much more fun when I am just sitting around at someone's house - and it's not just because the penny-pincher in me is liking the weight of my wallet.
At college, people understand this. Fun is everyone spending very little money - but doing it together. Why is the summer different? It's like, since we have summer jobs, we should spend our paychecks. Me - I prefer to save money money at all times, and spend small amounts of money on year-round fun. Seriously, I have college expenses to think about.
Don't misunderstand. I like to go through some cash every once and a while, just for the sake of fun. But the endless flow from my wallet gets me down.
So here is a couple of terrible things to do with friends:

  1. Go to a movie - You spend money to be in the same location as your friends, but not actually do anything with them. You could all go at separate times and talk about it later, and it would be exactly the same.

  2. Go mini-golfing - You spend money to compete with your friends. The only thing that everyone enjoys is the conversation - which you can do free anywhere.

  3. Road trip - While it may be a lot of fun, I usually end up wanting to kill someone by the end of it. Plus (esp. with the cost of gas these days), you can literally calculate the amount you are spending hourly to be with your friends (not that I have).

And some great things to do with friends:

  1. Hang out - 'Nough said. And it's such a versatile activity. You can do it almost anywhere.

  2. Watch a movie - No, not at a theater. Watching at home is so much better. It's more relaxed; you can pause, eat, drink, talk during the boring parts, and hold someone close when things get tense.

  3. Go out to eat - Even though money is involved, you can make it an occasion. Everyone has to eat anyway, and people can eat and talk forever.

The best part - because I do save my money, I can never use the excuse everyone else has; "I don't have enough money."

July 10, 2008

Something Else from the Archives

I don't really know why I originally wrote this one - but it is a poetic response to Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 (link).

Shakespeare thought that to woo the ladies,
He'd insult them - but that was crazy.
For if you want to get attention,
You must give your sincere affection.

This doesn't really have of the devices I really like, but I agree with the sentiment.

July 9, 2008

Wisdom Teeth

Well, for anyone who doesn't know what's going on in my life - I just got all four wisdom teeth out. It is quite unpleasant, but my surgeon was great - and I think I got off a lot better then a lot of people. Little swelling, little pain. I should be on my feet in no time.

Current Events

I'll probably get this on the poetry page at some point - but for now:

Eleventh Sweet Nothing
(The Circus)
by Chris J. Shull

Hello. I am the master of ceremonies
And I will be conducting today's catastrophe.
Are there any takers on who will go first?
You there - the boy with the heart set to burst.
Come up to the stage and I'll fix you up right.
And you there - with the curls way out of sight.
I'll tell you a secret this boy's locked away -
I'll tell you a secret and ruin his day.
For this lad's got thoughts that'll make his head rush.
Oh yes! Look at him now, oh look at him blush!
This boy thinks that you're a remarkable girl;
If it meant he could have you, he'd buy the whole world.
So what do you think, so what'll you do?
Now that it's out in the open it's all up to you.
Sweet girl, if you want him, then come up to the stage,
Or if the very thought scares you - then just run away.
But you gotta decide - so that no one will miss
If you choose to run, or if you choose to kiss.

You either know it or you don't. I just like the voice I used because it's something I haven't done before. It's this upbeat, first-person, third-party voice (kind of reminds me of Dr. Seuss actually). I actually had a lot of fun writing this one, because it pretty much just popped out.

July 7, 2008

Another from the archives

I've been going through a lot of my old poetry (including typing a bunch of the handwritten stuff). Here's another one I pulled up:

All across my mind she taunts,
Stifling my ev'ry want.
With great ease has she destroyed
Simple things which I enjoyed.

I like this one because the meter and rhyme seem to have worked out well. While it could be read in a negative light, I like to read it in an upbeat voice.

July 5, 2008

From the Archives

I wrote this one a while ago, but felt I could expand it. I guess I was wrong - so here it is now:

The story goes that Zeus's might
Was in itself a force so bright
That any mortal towards it glanced,
Would catch their death from radiance.

And that is how you make me feel;
A-drowning in a light unreal.
Because of you I fall apart;
Your very presence stops my heart.

This uses one of my favorite devices: mythology. I haven't done many of these lately 1) because they haven't come to me, and 2) because I've written so many I've exhausted them. Overall I really like the myth this is based on (read it on Wikipedia), and that I bring it back to my favorite subject, love.

While I'm on it - let's give a shout out to the Bohemian ideas proclaimed by Moulin Rouge!: "freedom, beauty, truth and love"!

July 3, 2008

So, without further ado...

As I explained in the catch-up post right below this, I will now be posting more poetry. So here goes:

I want to ... give a kiss with my fingertips,
Show you how much I love you with just my lips.

OK, first things first; It is impossible to convey the way this sounds in my head. But I do my best with creative punctuation. Second; I just love the concept of the first line. If these two lines don't spark your imagination, then you are just dead inside.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I'm back! I'm sure no one hits this blog anymore - but I'll get my faithfuls back.
Since college let out (in which I had a lot of fun and did very well) I've been working as the Snack Bar Manager for the Barclay Farm Swim Club. It's not exactly in line with what you might expect from someone in IS - but it's a lot of fun. And I - of course - bring my own style to the whole affair.

Anyway - I'm tired of only having current events to say so I'm going to start posting more poetry directly into the blog. Why have I not done this in the past? Well, the vast majority of my poetry is only a few lines long (which I used to hope would grow). Unfortunately, after the fist few lines most of my poems just die. The image becomes stained, the rhyming becomes strained, or the clever play cannot be sustained. Thus, I will now give you these lines (which are often my favorites) - but which have not yet become larger works. And since the larger work usually helps convey the idea of the poem, I'll provide a little insight to my writing.

May 13, 2008

Must Do...

So I'm back in Cherry Hill after my first year of college. And I am not liking it. Of course there's things like hanging with old friends, not doing any work, and better food. And yeah, I definitely need some down-time because of finals. But college life if so much better (and I'm not even that kind of crazy).
I miss my apartment: the food was my own, I had it all to myself, and I could do as I wanted. I miss being able to walk just a couple of feet in order to hang out (instead of having to drive somewhere), and the fact that there were so many bright people all around me. I miss the intellectual challenges (well, the fun ones anyway).
Hopefully this feeling will subside when summer really kicks into gear. Like when I start work (though that will leave just that much time less for friends - all of whom have their own jobs).

April 30, 2008


In my everlasting struggle to spend no money, I have come across a money saving tip for the cash-strapped college student. The post office will give you free folders. OK, that's a lie. Let's just say you don't have to pay for Priority or Express envelopes until you actually send them...

April 11, 2008

Tip: Save on Ink

Ink is one of the big expenses of the computer industry, and is tightly controlled by printer manufactures. He are some tips for saving money in this area:
You can save a lot of ink by fine-tuning your print settings. Only print with the quality you actually need. For example, my printer has the following options: "Quality: Fast draft", "Color: Grayscale", "Black Print Cartridge Only", and "Light" ink volume. Personally, I see little difference between enabling all of those and the default settings. However, it saves ink, uses only black ink (cheaper on many different levels), and prints very fast (almost violently so).
Also, I recently had to get new ink for my printer - and, as I said, ink can be really expensive. So I started looking around and found I could save a ton if I went with "recycled" ink cartridges (listed on Amazon Used and eBay). Truthfully, I thought the concept to be a bit absurd. But it seemed no one had any complaints (in fact, there was a lot of praise). So I took a chance and got some. It works great. There are a few quirks - I had to tell the printer to disregard the fact I was putting in a non-new cartridge, and it thinks the cartridge is low all the time (but since I usually disregard that warning until I notice quality loss, it doesn't really matter). Considering the next-lowest cost was manufacturer direct (due to free shipping), 20% savings is pretty good.
They're you go - tip served! (I'll expect a check for 10% of the value saved as projected across the rest of your life.)

April 3, 2008


No, it's not just you - my site is missing navigation and is full of banner ads. Blame GoDaddy - they figured out I was blocking their ads, and were going to suspend my account, have me upgrade to a non-free plan, or keel-haul me (OK, I made that last one up).
I'm going to have to figure out a new approach soon...

April 2, 2008

Take a Break - Play a Game

In one of my classes I was told to "make a game". So my partner and I did Rush Hour. Check it out.

March 30, 2008

You now when you've been coding too much when

you instinctively end your sentences with semicolons;

March 29, 2008


The title says it all. Not only has my schoolwork increased as of late - but I've been testing the barriers of my iPod selling capacity. I realized I could increase efficiency for the entire future by dedicating more now - so I bought a barcode scanner and went on a mad coding spree to design a rudimentary online order status system. It is now at the point where the hardest thing is creating the listings.
I am especially happy with my order processing workflow:

  1. Activate order print script, loading appropriate printer media as directed.
  2. Print all packing slips.
  3. Print all shipping labels (with internal barcode schema).
  4. Print all delivery confirmation slips.
  5. Put packing slip in appropriate box.
  6. Affix shipping label and delivery confirmation.
  7. Barcode scan each package.
  8. Seal packages.
Not only is this easier for me - I expect my already high customer satisfaction to go through the roof.

March 20, 2008

Dancing on the Ceiling

Boy am I glad to be back in Pittsburgh. I love you family, but I like my shower's water pressure, and my bed - and what I do here.
Oooh, if all goes according to plan, I'll become an eBay PowerSeller at the end of the month. This will be around the same time I upgrade to a new system (designed by yours truly) with nice online order status and barcode scanning fun!
And congrats again, Aunt Caro and Uncle Gordon Linn! Your wedding was awesome - can someone send me pictures?
Last off, I have a new initiative for you all to start. I have this pet peeve where I want to cross the street at an intersection to which I have a green. Looking around, I see none of the queued cars going in my direction will be turning. But, low and behold, when I am crossing, one of said queued cars decides to turn through my crosswalk sans turn signal - wanting to running me over. So here is what I've been doing about it, and what I want all of you to do:

  1. Stop in the crosswalk.
  2. Face driver of offending vehicle.
  3. Wear animated expression of annoyance and righteous indignation.
  4. Hold hands in fists approximately waist height, one foot in front of you, and shoulder's width apart.
  5. Open and close the approppriate hand in a "blinking" motion.
  6. FOR BONUS POINTS*: Don't move until the approppriate turn signal is activated.
  7. Go along your merry way, delighting in the fact you have educated another person as to the use of a turn signal (or at least obtained retribution).
* Points awarded are only redeemable in the Game of Life (not the board game, but the real one).

March 6, 2008


I've been feeling hoity-toity of late. My CMU mean plan includes a breakfast. And on that breakfast I can get (and it's just soooo good) a mocha latte (or hot cocoa if I'm awake already), a croissant, and an orange sanpellegrino. Things I would never shell out to get but for a mandatory meal plan.
I also take naps on hundreds of dollars worth of iPods. Because I am the only operator of my iPod business, I find I have to courier iPods with me whenever I go home so that I can fulfill orders. I don't trust the TSA, so they end up packed in a small carry-on bag (you should see the faces of the scanning people when it goes through). I have used this bag as a pillow at least once - it's a bit boxy, but it does the trick.
In other news, I went skiing Tuesday. It was a bit slushy in places, but the mountain was empty - very nice indeed. I took the time to get proficient at skiing backwards. w00t!

March 5, 2008

Quick Pics

Here's to never needing to buy chocolate again! MMMMMmmmmmm.....
In other news, I got more poster tack, so I have covered another bit of my walls with poetry.

March 1, 2008


So you know the Chance cards in Monopoly? How about the one that says a bank error in your favor earns you money? Well I kinda feel like that. I checked the formulas I was using to calculate fees when selling on eBay. Turns out the formula was resulting in higher than actual numbers, so there was an extra bunch of dough I didn't know about! It's not like I actually have any more money, but I do like the numbers more. (That's what I get for trusting formulas I find online!)
What else? The Piano Lesson is in its last show as I type this. I've grown a tad fond of it (but still will be glad to get my life back).
I had this truly immense craving for chocolate this past week, so I went on Amazon and found a great deal. But I had to buy quite a bit to take advantage of it. How long do you think 199oz of assorted chocolate will last?
I've also been offered a great position at my swim club this summer - Snack Shack Manager!

February 27, 2008

To My Parents...

This post goes out to my parents. I always thought you were strict, and I'm sure I made your lives a living hell because of it.
But now, seeing the terrible things the parents of my peers have done, I thank you. Thank you for:

  • Not imbuing me with racist ideals.

  • Letting me choose my career without worry about extortion.

  • Letting me stop going to church (albeit disappointedly) when it became apparent that doing so was belief based and not boredom based.

  • And much, much, more (for three easy payments of just 6 years).

February 25, 2008

Bandaid Bread, Eye of Zeus, CMU Computer Services

So I was tempted to shop at the more convenient supermarket near me again, even though they don't have the bread I like. So I got my groceries, came home, and decided to snack on some bread. By the way, I love bread. So I was really, really angry because this particular loaf had an extra ingredient - Bandaid.
I also pitched The Eye of Zeus to the Variety Hour (a once a semester variety show with live and prerecorded elements). I just gave a synopsis - but I think they liked it.
In other news, CMU Computer Services has once again disappointed me by allowing a wireless network outage on a Sunday night. This is a crime and I think the student body needs to hold them accountable, as an ISP, for network uptime every hour of every day. I want a network downtime refund!

February 21, 2008

Great Deals

I'moften asked to help someone buy certain tech related gear. And since I keep myself tuned to the pulse of the tech market I can usually save people a lot of money. So I'm starting a new thing here on my blog. When I see deals that are really good I'm just going to quick post them with easy, generalized names. And no - I have no way of making money off this. So...


February 17, 2008

Rants: Piano Lesson, Bill Gates

I had a 12 hour rehearsal session last Saturday for Piano Lesson. And I'm working under this woman who is an utter hag. She doesn't know a damn thing about managing people. Things have to be done her way, even if my way is faster for me - and more organized. And when I wondered if there were batteries lying around somewhere for my dying flashlight she snippily responded that they couldn't provide me with batteries (even though they'll provide me with an inferior flashlight). A simple, "Sorry, no." would have sufficed. Not to mention, for some reason she thinks that she wants to leave at the end of the day more than me. That's just silly - I'm not even getting paid like she is.
Moving along - Bill Gates was at CMU today to give a lecture. And, luckily for me, all I had to do on campus was a 9:30 exam and crew call at night. So I made it a point of getting off campus. I didn't realize it before, but I really hate this guy. There were massive amounts of people waiting for him to show up, and it just made me really angry. Not only is Microsoft evil, they haven't released anything good in ages - it is an insult to my intended profession. And just because Gates is now into philanthropy doesn't mean he should be forgiven for is tactics when starting M$ (the Devil does not do refunds). If I had stuck around I don't know what I'd do. And because I'm with cmuTV, I could have gotten easy access and everything (I can't chose between incessant heckling, or classic pie-in-the-face). I am such an Apple fan-boy...

February 13, 2008

Communication, Pins and Needles

I hate SMS (that's text messaging to you Americans). Not only is it inordinately expensive (without grounds, I'd claim it is the most expensive form of communication ever), it is difficult, slow, and terrible at conveying actual meaning. It only beats out one other form of communication: telepathy.
I also started run crew for The Piano Lesson of Monday. But I'm on costumes, which means I'm sewing until they start using the costumes. So I've been attaching labels, hemming pants, and the like. It's painful, and not my ideal theatre experience, but at least I have nicer supervisors, and better hours. Anyway, dress rehearsal starts Saturday!

February 11, 2008

Poet's Preface

This will make it to the Closet Poet page eventually. But I wanted to respond to the Anonymous [Coward] who commented on my most previous poetry related posting.

Poet's Preface

When shoulders can take no more,
With ink on paper it all goes.
As greater demons want to play,
The more my simple writing flows.

Sometimes it seems quite the blessing,
Other times it's more of a curse.
But I find it keeps me going,
The lines and lines that become verse.

Because whenever emotion,
Is enough to make me explode,
I can enjoy taking comfort,
In that my quick rhymes will be heard.

And when I am stuck in a mood,
I try to keep the facts in key.
But sometimes I can't help myself,
And add in some hyperbole.

So as I retreat into thought,
My soul splayed out upon the page,
I hope you will enjoy the fruit;
The writings of my love and rage.

February 8, 2008

A Shot of Poetry

The Eighth and Ninth Sweet Nothings are on the Closet Poet page. Comment below.

February 5, 2008

Who's got a job?

I've got a job! It's long term web work on Gelfand Center. I'm so happy I can barely type (this may also be from lack of sleep, no breakfast, and coffee).

February 3, 2008

Long Time, No Read. Now Time, Long Read

Your fix is back after a brief hiatus. I've been busy with work, being burglarized, the job hunt, and much much more.
First things first, several portions of my site will no longer be linked to soon (mainly old picture albums), so take a look while you can.
Next up - what is this a picture of? Well, I decided a while back I could write better if my incomplete poetry were all in front of me. Thus was born an ever-expanding wall of poetry. I was just contemplating last night that while poetry may be fun, being an OCD poet is not. Cause when inspiration hits while I'm trying to fall asleep I have no choice but to get up and write it down. I actually had to actively concentrate on not writing in order to fall asleep last night.
What else is new? Well I'm in the middle of a new product release. aSTARick is an iTunes visualizer (for the Mac) crafted by yours truly. Get it here. (If you got a pre-release version from me, you should download the latest.)
OK, as an iPod reseller I have some pet peeves which, for the sake of customer support, I refrain from telling my buyers. First, it is "iPod". That is how you spell it. Not "Ipod" or "IPod" (though I'll take "ipod" if you are writing in all lowercase). Also, to the best of my knowledge, no package shipper has managed to break and/or distort the space-time continuum. Thus, shipments will take real time to travel to their destinations. Some people don't understand this.
Next, for those of you unsatisfied with your current financial institutions DO NOT USE from the following blacklist:

  • USAA
  • PayPal Plus Credit Card via GE Money
  • Citizen's Bank in Oakland, Pittsburgh, PA
The first two have terrible online interfaces (and as an IS major, this appalls me). And Citizen's Bank had me waiting half an hour just to ask some questions. Plus, I knew where their customer service reps were. One was doing nothing in the office next to where I was waiting, and the other was outside smoking. I got fed up and left.
There's your fix. Enjoy!

January 23, 2008


Before I get into the heart of this (long) post, I want to deliver this teaser: the current portions of my ballad are essentially done. Unfortunately, it's not complete because it ends wretchedly. (More torture available upon request). But on the the real news.
As some of you may be able to attest, I love finding loopholes in legalese. Which made things even more fun as I plugged them for my eBay return policy (as follows). It's not perfect, but the last clause is a catch-all, so everything is good (feel free to skip past it):

Returns for a refund can be made if the item is not as advertised, and the warranty provided does not cover the issue. In such a case, an exchange may be available.
If the item is as advertised, and has not been unsealed, then a $10 restocking fee applies to returns.
Any other return is subject to seller approval.
If the item has already shipped, then shipping and handling fees will not be refunded.
Returns being shipped backed to the seller are the responsibility of the buyer. This includes, but is not limited to, any fees involved with shipping and shipping reliability. Final return conditions will be neither analyzed, determined, nor applied until the seller has the item in question. If a return is rejected after the return process begins, additional fees (i.e. shipping and handling fees) may apply for the buyer to receive the item.
Other conditions may apply (please contact for specifics).

I've already made $20 off of some idiot who bought something, paid for it, canceled it, bought another item, paid for it, and then canceled it. And talking on the phone, the guy reminded me of my old roommate who didn't have the mental capacity to think (you know, with a brain) - so I was glad to take free money from him (ok, it's an ebay-listing/fix-a-spreadsheet/unpack-a-box charge).
Think me great, or think me evil, you know you wish you could swim the capitalist waters in your free time like I do. Speaking of which, with one investor already on board I am looking to expand. If you're a friend of mine looking for some unearned income better than any bank will offer, drop me a line (I'm not even kidding).
On the subject of investing, Apple shares (AAPL) have dropped ~$70 (to ~$130) in the last few weeks. And despite our impending economic doom, AAPL predictions still maintain themselves at ~$210. Now is the time!

January 15, 2008

Pompous Post & MLK-Day

So I am good. Not as good as the IS freshman who deferred CMU several years to actually work in the field, but pretty good. And I am constantly running into computer science (CS) majors who know diddly-squat. Which amazes me (considering I was rejected by them). But hey - at least I discovered IS because of it, and I wouldn't change majors for the world.
Oh, I was trying to explain to Quinn W. why I loved programming. And this was my analogy: Programming is like Jello, and the programmer is the mold. You take the ingredients and mix 'em up. Then you have a scrumptious morsel that is practically alive.
Speaking of programming, I was talking Java (for the uninitiated- that's a programming language) with a CS student when someone else (one of the uninitiated) walks into the room and sits down. After a few moments listening in, she asks, "Is that a riddle?". Ha!
I've also been in the iPod resell biz for almost two months now (it's had it's ups and downs). And I've been caught by Apple a couple of times (apparently what I'm doing violates their sales TOS). Yay for aliases! And I don't want to give myself too much importance. But it seems like I am changing Apple methods. For the first time ever I got an automated message letting me know I had been red-flagged as a reseller (they used to call me when they figured it out).
Oh, and since it is MLK day I have this to say:
Equality is not equality. Only when it stops being equality, and it just is.
Yeah I know it isn't a complete sentence - but that's how it is.

January 14, 2008

First Day of Spring Classes

And it is snowing. I've only had one class so far (my German professor even speaks the language differently than I've heard before), and I am still glad to be back in the thick of things (though I'm sure that will fade).
So I got this amusing email from CMU Alumni Relations. Apparently because I've survived a semester, I am technically a CMU Alum.
SItting here, I have also come to the informal conclusion (which I have also read about before), that batteries get better with age. I know, it doesn't make any sense, but my battery life is at least an hour longer than it was when I first got it.

January 11, 2008

What's that Smell?

This road-trip I've been on has been extremely illuminating. For example, did you know GM owns a small town in Ohio called Lordstown? And it has no food and no gas, and two whole exits off of I-90. (We accidentally pulled off there on the way up.)
I've also been off of the poetic beat for a while. But stay tuned - I must have been storing inspiration, cause some of the stuff I've been penning would make Apollo proud. And since it has been leaked anyway, I may as well let everyone know I am writing a ballad (loosely based on reality) - but it is far from completion.
Oh, here is an amusing anecdote. So I've been hanging with my CH friends over break. And at some point we were trying to remember who the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were. We got Famine and Death, but that's it (we also mistook Conquest to be Pestilence). So someone decided the other would be Stench. So just remember - next time you smell something funny, it may be then end of the world!
Also, never eat at Buffalo Wild Wings. Not only are they really spicy - they don't even taste good. What's the point?

January 7, 2008

i be crazy - w00t (Updated)

So I'm up here in Michigan (wow - ten hour drive), and maybe I've been away from women too long (winter break taking me away from my normal life) - but if you know and love ASCII, you have a good chance of being dead sexy in my book (though of course other things factor in).
UPDATE: Ok, ok, I originally spelled "here" as "hear". My apologies to the world. I'd also like to point out I got a hint accepted by (the guy writes actually for MacWorld). Check it out (but please don't bash to old alias I posted under):