BPuhl’s Blog

A little bit of everything without actually being much of anything

Archive for the ‘Babbling and Blabbering’ Category

Overheard in a meeting (paraphrased)…

Posted by BPuhl on October 14, 2010

…the problem is, that instead of trying to make what we have work.  Every software architect believes that that their <widget> will be the solution that everyone adopts…

 

Typing this, reminded me of something else that I heard recently, which was along those same lines…

Of course my idea on the whiteboard is better than all the code that you’ve written!

Posted in Babbling and Blabbering, cloud, Quotes, Random Tecnical Stuff, Randomness, Rants | Leave a Comment »

Facebook is going to allow user names on June 12th

Posted by BPuhl on June 10, 2009

If you use Facebook, you might notice a box when you log in that says beginning June 12th, Facebook will allow registration of user names.  If you “click here” to have them send more info, you’ll receive this in your registered email inbox:

Starting on Friday, June 12th, at 9:01pm, you’ll be able to choose a username for your Facebook account to easily direct friends, family, and coworkers to your profile.

To select your username, visit the link below after 9:01pm on June 12th:

http://www.facebook.com/username/

To learn more about usernames, visit the Help Center:

http://www.facebook.com/help.php?page=896

Thanks,

The Facebook Team

 

So what does this mean?  Well, for one thing, it means that if you’ve got a common name – or – if your like me, and you KNOW that there’s someone else on Facebook with the same name (since he and I are actually friends on Facebook), then it means that you want to “claim” your user name as soon as the application opens.

I did seen an interesting article here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-handel/trademark-protection-and_b_213756.html about trademark registrations and how Facebook intends to handle squatters.  So don’t bother trying to register facebook.com/McDonalds, you won’t have it for long if you do. 

I like the very last part of that article though.  There is already a recommendation for what to do, if somebody maliciously claims not only your trademark, but also fills out the forms sufficiently such that you (the legitimate owner of the trademark) actually can’t use the automation to claim it back.

Oh how much fun Identity Management can be :)

Posted in Babbling and Blabbering, Digital Identity, Friends and family, Identity and Access, Random Tecnical Stuff, Randomness | Leave a Comment »

Law of Cosines in Life

Posted by BPuhl on March 3, 2009

I’m a pilot.  I’m fascinated by airplanes, helicopters, gliders, blimps, and anything else that flies.  When I’m not actually flying (which is too often), then I’m reading books or magazines about it.  It’s fun, and it’s my distraction from everything else.  In fact, I should be working on something else at this very moment, but flying is more interesting…and blogging is more interesting…and it’s 3am anyway, so what the heck right?

I remember reading an article in a magazine a few years ago, that I’ll credit it to Barry Schiff in AOPA Pilot magazine, though I’m not 100% sure that’s accurate.  The article was about the law of cosines (oh yeah, did I mention that I like math almost as much as flying?), and how when it comes to planning a flight, the best distance between 2 points may not be a straight line.

For example:

Let’s take someone who wants to fly from point A to point B.  Pilots know that it’s generally safer to have someplace to land at all times during the flight (just in case).  So it may be “better” to fly straight, how much would it cost to take a minor detour in your course to fly near an alternate airport?  Graphically, it would look something like this:

flightpath

The question he posed is, just how inefficient is it to take a detour? Even without doing any math, it’s pretty easy draw a couple of things from the picture:
     1)  If the angle that you deviate from the straight line course is little, then the distances shouldn’t be much
     2)  If the angle that you deviate from the straight line course is large, then the total distance you fly will be larger

(everybody say “duh” now) :)

Just for examples though, let’s look at some real numbers.  Let’s take this typical small plane flight distance of 300 miles at an average speed of 120mph.  And let’s figure out just how much further you’d have to go, and how long it would take, if you flew out at 10, 15, 20, and 30 degrees off course.  We’ll also do the baseline, of 0 degrees, or going straight from A to B.

Angle From Straight Total Distance (miles) Total Time (min) % Increase
0 300 150 0%
10 305 152 2%
15 311 155 4%
20 319 160 6%
30 346 173 15%
 
Huh…  not nearly as big as what you might have thought?

For those that are really curious, remember that Cosine is the adjacent side (in this case 150 miles), divided by hypotenuse (which we want to find).  Since we’re simplifying things by having the two halves be equal, we can just use:  300 / Cos(a) to get the total distance flown.  Take the total distance flown, divided by 120 mph, to get the total hours (times 60 for minutes).

 
Well holy cow!  That was sure a lot of work to get to a point which doesn’t actually involve either math, or flying.
 
What I realized, and try to occasionally remind myself, is that there are times in life when you have a goal, and you can see the straight path to get where you want to be.  And then, “life happens”…  Or as some people may describe, you have to “take an unexpected detour”.  These unexpected detours can seem frustrating, and make you feel like you’re completely “off track”, or “spinning your wheels”, or generally way off course from where you want to be going.
 
When that happens, I try to stop and remember…  that just because you’re off track…even if you’re off track by what seems like a huge amount (30 degrees is a huge course change!) – It doesn’t necessarily cause a huge change in how far you need to go to achieve your goals (or in our pilots case, how long it takes to get there)
 
One last random note:  When you’re at the furthest distance “off course”, just before you get to turn back towards your goals…  If this were the plane that took a detour of 30 degrees (the max), how far away from his straight line path would he get (the distance from the peak of the triangle back down to the straight line course)?  86 miles!  When you look at it that way, he’s nearly 90 miles “off course” when he only should have gone 150 miles total.  That’s one heck of a detour, but when he turns back towards his objective, by the time he gets there it only added about 15%… 
 
Maybe those detours in life aren’t that bad after all?

Posted in Babbling and Blabbering, Randomness, Travel | 3 Comments »

Ghetto Turtles

Posted by BPuhl on February 21, 2009

It’s the “turtles” candy snack thing-ey’s, but ghetto style. 

Ingredients:
- Bag of pretzels
- Bag of Rolo’s candy
- Small bag of Pecan halves

 

Pre-heat the oven to 350
Line a cookie sheet with wax paper
Lay out individual pretzels with a little bit of space between them
Place one Rolo on top of each pretzel

Place the cookie sheet in the oven for 2-3 minutes, until the Rolo’s start to melt

Remove from the oven, and take one pecan halve, and press it firmly into the top of the Rolo, squishing it in with your finger

Serve warm

Last night when the cookie sheet came out, I had every intention of taking a picture to post alongside this blog…  but that would have required me stepping away from the turtles to get the camera, and there was no way that anyone else was going to wait on the chocolatey, caramely, salty, crunchy, nutty goodness that had appeared before them.  So maybe next time.  :)

Posted in Babbling and Blabbering, Food, Randomness | 3 Comments »

Zune Warranty Coolness

Posted by BPuhl on September 25, 2008

Second Zune post in as many days – Wasn’t intentional, but the FedEx guy just stopped by and I thought this was too cool not to blog about!

 

For Christmas 2007, I got Sammi an 8GB, hot pink Zune from http://zuneoriginals.net with the “Love 2″ (butterfly’s and hearts) engraved on the back and “Sammi Puhl, Christmas 2007, Love Mom and Dad” on the back.  Not a bad right? 

Bad news:  This past spring, it was stolen by some kids at school. 
Good news: She knew who did it, and it didn’t take long for me to arrange with the other parent to get it back. 
Bad news:  In the meantime, “someone” had taken a screwdriver/knife/something and scratched the text off the back

So for the past many months, there has been a small piece of tape on the back of her Zune, covering the scratches, and she used/abused the thing like crazy.  Loves it.

Bad news:  It started to break.  I tried all of the firmware/software resets, including e-mailing back and forth with Zune support, but it looks like a hardware issue.
Good news:  Under Warranty still!  – Went to http://service.zune.net, filled out the form online, and printed out the confirmation sheet

This is where it got interesting, because the support site didn’t include any address to send the Zune to.  Instead, a few days later, a pre-paid FedEx package designed and built to protect the Zune in transit showed up.  Off on it’s way it went…

Fast forward about 2 1/2 weeks…

Last night, Sammi asked me whether I had heard anything about here Zune.  “Nope, I can go online and check tomorrow though.”  Then I went to set her expectations appropriately, and explained what “refurbished” means – since that’s what I was expecting to show up.

This morning:  FedEx shows up with a box from Zune Originals.  In the box was a brand new Zune, with the original design, AND THE ORIGINAL TEXT!  Woo hoo!!!!

This may have been what some of you would have assumed, but having worked in customer service for way too many years, I tend to set my expectations pretty low, and am usually just pleased when everything works.

This is awesome!  I’m ecstatic with the flawless way that this worked out and that they sent us back a brand new one with all the text! I don’t think this could have been any better or gone any smoother.

Thanks!

 

 

(Same note as last time: 
To the iPod folks:  Comments are appreciated, especially the ones describing your awesome experiences.  As a general rule I don’t delete/edit comments, but any comments of, “You should have bought an iPod”, aren’t going to make it because that’s just lame)

Posted in Babbling and Blabbering, Friends and family, Randomness, Sammi | 2 Comments »

Homeowners Insurance

Posted by BPuhl on September 21, 2008

I’ve been dealing with some plumbing problems recently.  Specifically, a drain line from the kitchen which runs under the concrete slab to connect to the other drain lines on their way out to the sewer – failed.  Since I have a split level house, the plumbers came out, and tore up the ceiling downstairs to run a new drain line from the kitchen into the garage.  I started ripping out moldy walls, replacing studs, etc…  Altogether, about a $4500 adventure.  (which is relatively cheap for this kind of an issue – fortunately we didn’t have to dig up the slab)

So where was my home owners insurance through all of this? 

Remembering back to when I bought my house, there was something like a 4 inch stack of paperwork that required about 150 signatures.  Ok, ok, ok – I’ll admit it here – No, I did not actually read and fully understand every single word of every one of those documents that I signed.  (really, did you?) 

Well, one of those pieces of paper was my home owners insurance policy, and I really should have read it more thoroughly.  Growing up, I’ve always seen various types of insurance have $250, $500, or $1000 deductibles – something like that.  Ah, turns out that State Farm gave me a policy with a “One Percent” deductible – which put’s it at…oh…about $4500 or so.  DOH!!!  (And I’m not blaming them, because I would actually bet that they TOLD me about it as well.  This is all my fault, State Farm has actually been pretty good)

What’s worse, is that when I called to ask about filing the claim, the nice lady offered that just by saying the word, I could change my deductible to $1000 and it would take effect immediately (unfortunately not retroactively), and it would cost an additional $140 per year.  Now – quick math says that there are about 25 “hundred-forty-dollars” inside the $3500 difference between my 1% deductible and $1000 (not to mention, hopefully, the value of the house goes up over time).  Was I stupid!?!  Of course, change that stuff immediately! 

(and those of you diving for the comment button – that was a rhetorical question)

So I’m doing most of the repair work myself now (Home Depot shareholders can thank me later).  Lesson learned, the hard way for me, but sharing this with you on the off chance that just possibly, you might not have read all that paperwork either.

Posted in Babbling and Blabbering, Randomness, Rants | 2 Comments »

Blast from the past

Posted by BPuhl on July 29, 2008

Listening to the radio this morning, there was a commercial which included the sound of a modem dialing up and connecting.  Wow, haven’t heard one of those in a while.  In fact, that commercial or the occasional rerun of Wargames are the only times that I can remember recently hearing the familar Beeeeeeppp bbeeeeepppp ssssshhhhhhhhhhh click – and these were just recordings of it.

Hmm…  when was that last time that you heard an “actual modem” dialing up?  Does anyone even use those things anymore?

Posted in Babbling and Blabbering, Random Tecnical Stuff, Randomness | 4 Comments »

Pi Day

Posted by BPuhl on March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day to you, happy Pi Day to you, happy Pi day to….ummm…

Posted in Babbling and Blabbering, Nuggets, Randomness | Leave a Comment »

Photo’s in AD?

Posted by BPuhl on January 24, 2008

I love the fact that there is a lot of mythology floating around about AD.  Much of it is completely bogus, but hey, at least people are thinking about a problem or scenario, and if they are thinking, then that’s much easier to correct than someone who isn’t thinking at all.

One of the more entertaining things I’ve heard, is that you should never (ever) allow users to store photo’s in AD.  Aww heck, there’s even an attribute in AD, called thumbnailPhoto, so what are you talking about?  Sure, it’s going to be a “large” attribute, meaning you need to make sure that you have enough disk space for your database, but then again, so are certificates and nobody hops up on their soapbox when someone wants to deploy PKI!

Many months ago at Microsoft, we finished an internal project which published everyone’s photo into AD, and an add-on for Microsoft Outlook which allows user to “show pictures” of each person who is on the to line.  This has turned out to be incredibly helpful, when you are going to walk into a meeting and don’t recognize anybody else that’s on the invite.

So what’s all the FUD about putting pictures in AD?  Well…like anything else with AD, it’s not something which you should just go about willy-nilly, how about we stop and put some thought into it?  For example, whatever process you use, shouldn’t allow users to add arbitrarily large images into the directory.  We use a Sharepoint application, to scale down the images to an appropriate size.  You should have some form of life cycle management for the pictures, so that you can make sure that they are updated/maintained with all of the other aspects of the user account. 

You know, in short – You should manage this bit of data in the directory just like every other bit of data in the directory which you manage.  Wrap appropriate controls around it, ensure it’s validity/integrity as necessary, etc…

Actually, the biggest problems with putting images into the directory, are not around the technology of doing so.  There were many (many, many) discussions around whether you wanted to allow people to explicitly “opt-in” to publishing their picture, “opt-out” of publishing it, or “require” them to do so.  After many discussions with our internal legal department, we found that for users in North America, we could publish their pictures without their consent, however the complex privacy laws in other parts of the world led us to providing an opt-in model for those users.  Yeah, this actually did upset some of the North America users, but not too many and not that vocally.

Interesting bit of trivia though – one of the things we decided to do with our deployment, was to allow users to maintain their own pictures, via the Sharepoint application I talked about.  This immediately led to a few different ideas about compromising the quality of this service.  One team, considered having everybody on the team change their images to that of a single person.  Others decided that changing their images to something that was more representative of their personalities, such as them snowboarding or their family. 

Personally, my “corporate avatar” is:

bpuhl

Yes, that’s right – it’s a giant half-chicken half-squirrel.  And if you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, then you don’t watch enough South Park (which is probably much healthier for you anyway)

random note:  Picture cache, for those of you who have played with this, is located at:  C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\PictureCache

(BTW – For all the techy people out here who are looking for some useful nugget of information in all of this blathering – With the deployment of credential roaming in Windows Server 2008, which stores many more certificates, plus these pictures for all of our users, our typical database size has gone from about 13GB to about 22GB.  We still build our typical server with 16GB of RAM though…)

Posted in Active Directory, Babbling and Blabbering, Nuggets, Random Tecnical Stuff | 2 Comments »

Upgrade Complete

Posted by BPuhl on January 19, 2008

As of about 7:00pm Eastern Time, Mark Arnold and Laura Hunter were married in Philadelphia, PA.

Congratulations Mark and Laura!!!!

Posted in Active Directory, Babbling and Blabbering, Nuggets, Randomness | Leave a Comment »

 
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