America West Redeems Itself

After a rather annoying flight delay caused by America West in Las Vegas I wrote in to their customer support department outlining my issues. My main issue was that I was delayed about nine hours and the America West representative didn’t even offer to buy me dinner. The delay was only part of my problems, which included being thoroughly searched after having to exit the secure area.

I honestly didn’t think I would ever hear back from them. A few days later I got an email saying that a customer service representative was looking into my complaint and would followup with me shortly. Much to my surprise Lauren told me that I had received a letter from America West.

Enclosed with a letter saying how sorry they were that their customer representatives had failed to provide adequate care was a voucher for $100 off my next America West flight. While this only amounts to about $10 per hour for my delay, I consider it fair retribution for my troubles. Just wanted to let everyone know that, while the delay sucked really bad, America West made amends and did so quickly I might add (voucher and letter of apology in less than two weeks).

Hi, I'm a Sheep

I saw the following quote via the A Whole Lotta Nothing and I must say it’s pretty hilarious.

I saw it first yesterday and thought it was kind of dumb, but in the past 24 hours I’ve found dozens more from folks I read and admire, and I’ve changed my tune — it’s turned out to be kind of cool.

So, let me rephrase this into what Matt is really saying.

I saw it first yesterday and thought it was kind of dumb, but in the past 24 hours I’ve found dozens more from folks I read and admire, and, as a result, I’ve decided that in order to keep my edge as one of the “cool” bloggers I should do the right thing and follow the pack.

Dude, if you think it’s dumb then just say it. It’s OK to think that some of the things the folks you read and admire do is dumb. Don’t follow the herd just because everyone else is.

Tyranny of Majority Rule

I have to say that as I look around the current political climate of the United States I see more things that I don’t like than I do like. The current attitude in most of the US is that “you’re either with us or your with the terrorists”. Any thoughts that deviate from the agenda are seen as unpatriotic and evil. Thomas Jefferson famously wrote about the tyranny of majority rule (the thought that 51% of the people could rule 49% of the people). It’s happening right now and I’m getting pretty depressed about it. People think that if 51% of the population doesn’t care about civil liberties then the rest of us should blindly follow. I guess those people have forgotten that the Constitution applies to people in singularity and not “the majority”. After all the great document starts with “We the people” and not “We the majority”.

Last time I checked it’s my right and, some would say, my obligation to question the government and the decisions it makes if I don’t agree with them. So, the next time you tell someone that what they’re doing is “unpatriotic” or “not right” or “against God’s will” think about this: who are you to decide what is right for that person? If what they are doing isn’t personally affecting you then why the hell do you care? And, for everyone else’s sake, please don’t envoke the “our Founding Fathers are rolling over in their graves” defense.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Let’s destruct this famous quote by Thomas Jefferson. First off he says “their Creator”, which oddly enough, isn’t “God”. Even over 200 years ago Jefferson was intelligent enough to recognize that not everone believed in a single creator. Also, note those two crazy words at the end of the quote: “Liberty” and “Happiness”. I really like those words. I particularily like “Happiness”. Jefferson, I think, is recognizing the fact that the world is full of all sorts of different people and that each one defines that word differently. Some people define happiness as a day at the park, others define it as hating a specific race and dressing up in white sheets. The point is that, no matter what makes you happy, you have a right to be happy, though I think we all understand that you can’t tread on other peoples’ “self-evident” and “unalienable” Rights.

My point? My point is, that if you don’t like my point you are free to click the Back button or close your browser window, or simply browse to google.com and look for something that defines happiness for you.

SAT Prep Online

I’ve been working on a new SAT Prep Course for enotes.com. We are the only place on the internet that offers the entire SAT Prep book online. I’m extremely proud of this pariticular application because of the fact that I think students will be better prepared after taking it. Below are some of the features that I like about the product.

  1. We offer our entire vocab word database in a format that you can load onto your iPod so you can study the SAT Vocabulary on your iPod.
  2. We offer 4 complete practice tests that you can take in an online environment. The tests are timed just like the new SAT, allow you to pause your test and come back to it and, after you have finished your test, view the answer key, which is complete with detailed explanations of each question. Additionally, once you have completed your test we score the test just like the real SAT.
  3. Unlike our competitors we offer all of the end-of-chapter practice drills in an online testing environment, which automatically scores your drills after you take them. You can take the drills as many times as you like. We also offer virtual flashcards so you can practice your vocabulary online.
  4. Our unique diagnostic test looks at the questions you got wrong and then refers you to sections in our online book as well as practice drills you can read over and work on to improve your performance on similar questions.

This was a major technical undertaking and is the result of about 3 months of full-time coding. It also represents the first use of many new technologies for me: InnoDB tables, foreign key constraints, heavy JavaScript usage and XMLHttpRequest to name a few. I’m working on finalizing some of the featurs, but for only $49.95 you won’t find a better SAT Prep Course online.

Martinis are a man's drink

Most who know me know that one of my favorite drinks is your standard gin martini. Also, those who know well enough know the following things are true about martinis.

  1. They were always made with gin. Vodka martinis make no sense.
  2. They’re a man’s drink not to be confused with its girly cousin the Cosmopolitan.

Lauren thinks that martinis are girl drinks for some odd reason. I retort, “Double-o-Seven drinks them!” I’m fairly open when it comes to martinis. I like them dry, dirty and in between. Extra olives, of course, are a must. It looks like I’m not alone in my love for the martini as it has been named one of 10 manly drinks.

No drink is more emblematic of manly sophistication than a slick martini. Believe that.

Amen. For those of you wanting to make yourself a nice martini tonight I suggest getting some Bombay Saphire and Martini Rossi Vermouth. A shot of vermouth and two shots of gin shaken in a stainless steel shaker with ice poured over three or four of the largest olives you can find (bleu cheese stuffing optional). Enjoy!

Hosting for Friends

I’m putting this up as a reference for friends who want hosting on my server. This does not mean that anybody on the planet can get hosting from me. I run a personal server of my own colocated in a secure hosting facility that, from time to time, I share with friends who need hosting for their web properties. If you sign up below and do not fit the criteria I outline in this entry I’ll just keep your money as long as you want to pay me, but I won’t be giving you hosting anytime now. My server is more of a commune than a business. If you fit the following criteria and are looking for hosting let me know.

  1. If we talk on a regular basis and these talks don’t include me telling you to go away.
  2. If we’re related or we consider each other mutual friends.
  3. If you don’t care that your site could be down from time to time when I happen to break something while playing with the latest version of PHP or Apache.

Simple Hosting













Advanced Hosting













By clicking on the above PayPal buttons you agree to my Terms of Service, which includes the following terms. Please read these as I’ll enforce them as needed.

  1. You cannot, under any circumstances, call me between the hours of 10:00pm and 10:00am PDT concerning hosting.
  2. I can terminate your account at any time.
  3. I do not guarantee this service, uptime, backups or anything else for that matter with regards to this service.
  4. You will not use your account to spam people nor do anything illegal.
  5. The word “unlimited” is purely subjective and based on what I deem to be resonable use of the server.

If you’re wondering, the Simple Hosting plan includes 1 domain name with unlimited sub-domains and the Advanced Hosting plan includes unlimited domain names. Within reason I will not enforce bandwidth or storage limits. Services included are SSH, SMTP, IMAP, POP and HTTP.

It seems I’m the go-to guy for resumé help. I’ve had a couple friends ask me in the last few days to review and comment on theirs so I decided to collect my thoughts here as most people make the same mistakes.

  1. Make sure your name at the top of the resume is HUGE. We’re talking 24 point bold font here folks.
  2. Always list your education at the very top starting with the most prestigious degree and moving down to certifications (ie. Doctor -> Masters -> Bachelor -> Minor/Associates -> Certificates).
  3. If your GPA is around or over a 3.5 for a specific degree then put it on there. If you put it for one degree you should put it for all or not put it at all (ie. 3.3 for Masters and 3.8 for Bachelors). Make sure to put the scale. Most schools are on a 4.0, but not all, so put something like (GPA 3.5/4.0).
  4. If you have a ton of skills or work experience then list a “Skills Summary” at the top of your resumé so that people can quickly look over your qualifications and decide whether to read your entire resumé from there.
  5. Your resumé can be longer than 1 page. However, if your resumé is more than one page be sure to put a footer with your name, page number and number of pages.
  6. Have at least two people read it over and look for spelling and grammar errors.
  7. Don’t embellish titles. “Sr. Engineer of Coffee Brewing” doesn’t make your job at Starbucks sound any better than it actually was.
  8. Don’t simply list “Microsoft Office” if you are a complete wizard at Access or Excel. Specifically mention how good you are with these two applications since every job on the planet uses them.
  9. Only list jobs that are applicable to the job you are looking for, but be sure to list at least three prior jobs.
  10. Include references in your resume if at all possible. This expedites HR‘s ability to get you into an interview.
  11. If you have an Object on your resumé keep it simple. Don’t mention you want to learn new things or advance your career. You wouldn’t be looking for a job if you didn’t want those things. A good example would be “To obtain a job in web programming, which leverages my knowledge of PHP and MySQL”. Make sure to change your Object depending on the job you are applying for.
  12. If you are sending your resume electronically it is a good idea to include more than one format. PDF, Word DOC and plain text are good choices. If you work on the web (ie. designer/programmer) then create an HTML version with links to your previous work or screenshots. If you think your personal views on your personal site might hinder you getting a job then purchase a separate domain for your resumé. In other words, don’t post blog entries about how you want to kill people at work on the same site you host your resumé.

Lots of people send cover letters to. I never have because I think they’re corny. I would consider those optional. And, for Pete’s sake, do NOT write it after you’ve had a few beers one night and then start sending it out (inside joke).

What You'll Wish You'd Known

I ran across a great story that fits in nicely with a conversation I had early this morning about going after your dreams. I was discussing with Rob my recent web endeavors. I mentioned I was trying to build a few small websites large enough to pay the bills. He talked about how he wanted to take his writing more seriously. Today I found an essay titled What You’ll Wish You’d Known about this subject. My favorite quote:

I’m not saying there’s no such thing as genius. But if you’re trying to choose between two theories and one gives you an excuse for being lazy, the other one is probably right.

I’ve started to seriously work on creating a website or two that can sustain my needs and I’m going to either fail trying or succeed. Personally, I’d rather fail trying than not try at all.

Image Hosting Site

I’ve recently spent a little money and quite a bit of time completely rewriting a side project of mine called Picture Corral that does image hosting. I’m pretty proud of the cool features I was able to build into the new system. A few of the image and photo hosting features include:

  1. Unlimited uploads and bandwidth
  2. Email images as attachments into your account
  3. Share images with folders that double as photo albums
  4. Import entire ZIP archives of images (ie. put 10 images in a zip file and upload the single zip file)
  5. Works great for auctions, avatars and bulletin boards

At any rate I’m getting a crash course in internet marketing. Thankfully, I have a few friends who work in the business and they are giving me pointers.

I love slippers

Why aren’t slippers socially acceptable public footware?

I’ve never been much of a slipper man, but since I received a pair for Christmas I’ve become addicted to wearing my slippers. I suppose I get this trait from my father, who is an avid slipper fan (we won’t even start talking about his socks obsession).

Lauren thinks it’s simply abhorrent that I wear slippers outside of the house to do anything but check the mail. I, on the other hand, think it’s perfectly fine to wear them to the local coffee house or down the street to where we sometimes eat dinner. My slippers are extremely comfortable and are not bad looking so I don’t see the problem.

The next step is to strategically put a pair of slippers at the office and other places I frequent.