I am playing around with the look of the blog. The layout is fine. But I want to do some things with the colors, and the title bar. If it starts to look rough, that is what is going on.

High Mileage Skills

I was asked to change my travel plans so that I would be available to work in Iowa this week on something that has been giving my colleagues there a lot of problems. I was happy to help them out and be home for a change.

Several times in the last few years, I have thought to myself that I was fortunate to develop a few skills that I have gotten an incredible amount of mileage out of. While I was taking care of a few things here this week, this thought came up again. If you are a new engineer, or a student in engineering, the following are sklls that have been very useful for me:

  1. Scripting Languages – I have done more programming than I care to. I never had a goal of becoming a programmer, but it just sort of happened. Scripting (Dynamic) languages such as Perl/Python/Ruby provide a means to develop/integrate things in a hurry. My preference is for Ruby. My advice would be to spend time learning regular expression syntax, and network programming.
  2. Basic Networking – You would think that everyone knows this stuff now, but it is not the case. My experience has been that nobody really needs someone capable of lecturing on the 7 layer OSI model, or on how DNS works. But, being able to understand the basic components of a network, and how they work together seems to be critical.
  3. Analog Circuit Analysis – I don’t know how many people would ever actually get an opportunity to do this. I was fortunate enough to go to a University (NIU) that still teaches circuit analysis and power electronics. I didn’t plan to get into this field, it just sort of happened, and this is probably the part of my job that I enjoy the most. There is most certainly, without a doubt, a huge shortage of people with this skill.

I am probably forgetting some things, and I should do a better job on writing this up sometime in the future, but I am in a hurry right now.


I own an iRiver H320. It is a great multi-codec jukebox. With the travel that I have been doing, I have been using it quite a bit on the plane. One thing that I have not been able to figure out was how to access the menu’s that use the id3 tags in the various files. The reason that I was having difficulty with this is that the H320 requires a DB file for this feature. The DB file needs to be created by iRiver’s application that they provide, which runs on windows of course. I use Linux.

I found a nice java app called iFish that can create this file. Usually, I get concerned with Java apps, because they always seem to be distributed as jar files, and the authors always seem to mess up something on the build of the jar that prevents you from running it. iFish runs great. If you need an app to build a tag database for your iRiver, I recommend it.

Now, I just need to figure out how to get the H320 to play random files within a genre. That would be great.

Google Analytics

Quite a while ago I registered for a google analytics account. I received a number to use this service a few months ago, and just got around to putting this into the weblog. So far, I don’t think that this provides anything more than awstats with the exception of the geo-map, which is pretty cool. But, all you have to do to set it up is paste some javascript code into the page, whereas with awstats, you have to do some configuration of apache and the application, which isn’t too big of a deal, unless you don’t have control of the server.

When I get some more hits on the blog, I will post some shots of what google analytics provides.

Windows Sucks

I wanted to watch a DVD on my windoze laptop. I put it in, and some 3rd party piece of shit player opened up, and then choked and died. It gave a bullshit generic error message and that was it.

I tried to watch it with Windoze media player also. MediaPlayer can’t play DVD’s I guess. It claimed that there was nothing in the drive.

Very Gay. I really don’t have the time to fix it. Also, if I were going to take the time to work on it, I would make it work on one of the Linux boxes via DeCSS.

European Phone

I was changing the ringer on my cell phone the other day and I found that it has a ringer that sounds like the way a German phone rings (or at least used to when I was there). I consider it to be a more pleasant, less annoying ring than the standard bells, or electronically synthesized annoyances that are prevalent today in the US. So, I thought that it would be nice to by new land-line phones for the house (I don’t like ours) that are the Euro variety. I searched on Google, Froogle and e-bay, but no luck. I remember that the ring voltages are slightly different, but compatible. It looks like I am going to be going back to Germany in October, so I may end up having to pick up a phone then and bring it back.

Anyone know where I can buy a Europhone?

Rublog Info

I figured out that Rublog does not update the sidebar, or much else for that matter until you drop a new post into its directory. So, without looking at the code much, I think what is going on is that someplace, there is a last update time for the blog, and when someone requests the page, the blog looks at the mod times on all of the files in the post directory and then compares those to the last blog update time. If there is a new post, it updates the page.

I am trying to figure out how to add simple text to the sidebar, and also, how to add something to the bottom of the page.

Rublog Weirdness

I made some updates to my sidebar stuff on this blog. But, it does not seem to be updating the sidebar correctly. I’m not sure what the deal is. If you click on the Top Level link, I think everything seems to show up then.

New Cell Phone

I have been working with some German guys all week. They have these nice PDA cell phones from Germany. They are Tmobile MDA’s, which is basically equivalent to a Verizon xv6700. I need to get one of these. I do not want to get e-mail on my phone. If someone wants to get in touch with me, call the phone. I can’t understand getting e-mail on a phone. But, I almost always have my laptop with me. The part of the phone that I really want is the calendar. It would make life easier for me. Coordinating things is starting to get difficult.

I have a 2 year contract with Verizon, so I need to stick with them. I have actually had really good luck with Verizon, and I am pretty happy with them.