PermaLink Lots of stuff to catch up on!11/27/2006 02:29 PM

I've been off living my life rather than writing about it, but now I'm back, sated with poultry products, and it's time to catch up on everything.
Well, here we are!

First, let me say thanks to the Lotus events team for rejecting my session abstract, because in retrospect, I really didn't want to have to get all wired up to do a show at Lotusphere, I just wanted to relax.  And so, I shall, at least within the reasonable limits set by my usual hyperactivity at the Sphere.  I was lying awake thinking late last night and realized that every year since 2000, I have had a harder and harder time to get worked up about Lotusphere, and the curve starts peaking later and later.  Last year, I wasn't fully wired up until halfway down Interstate 95.  Hopefully, the juice will kick in earlier this year and I'll have all sorts of wonderful things to talk about.

Second, I realized I have got to get out my synth and start practicing.  I admit that I am quite disappointed that JamFest apparently will take place only one night this year (as opposed to two nights last year) so here's hoping it reall cranks.  To that end, I will have to actually practice.  The last time I played much keyboard was... last year at JamFest.  Hhhhhhhhh.

I have a stupid technical question for y'all:  what's the best way to get around the fact that the Domino XML classes (I'm dealing with Lotuscript, but I assume the situation applies to Java as well) are completely unable to deal with HTML content contained in an XML document?  I mean, ever try to parse a bunch of XML documents into Domino where the body field contains HTML?  The NotesDOMParser class vomits the moment it sees an "unterminated" <P> tag.  What the hell?  I mean, I'd love a method that says, "parse this node literally, do NOT attempt to identify and parse child nodes within it, just take whatever's there and put it in an object until you see the closing tag for that node."  No such thing appears to exist.    I thought briefly of doing a global search-and-replace and replacing the angle-brackets around the HTML tags with "&lt;" and "&gt;" but then realized that that would also fuck up the angle brackets around the XML tags, and if I could figure a way to tell the search-and-replace what was XML and what was HTML.... I'd have written a very nice parser.

Suzanne and I had an interesting trip to Kansas City the weekend before Thanksgiving, where among other things, I met her parents, saw their house, had lots of good food, and heard a terrific stride pianist named Bram Widjnans.  If you ever get to Kansas City, he plays at the Majestic Steakhouse at 9th and Broadway every Friday and Saturday.  Go early and have dinner, or go late and have drinks.  But go.

Airport security on the way out and back was amusing but not particularly onerous.  Somehow Suzanne had forgotten a cigarette lighter in her purse, though she could not find it and the TSA guy spent nearly ten minutes trying to find it after he saw it on the radar scope.  It does seem stupid that lighters aren't permitted, but matches are.  I applaud BWI airport and the Kansas City airport for offering no-hassle free wi-fi (Sacramento also does this).  A big, wet, smelly middle finger goes up to Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, which offers four or five different overpriced paid wi-fi carriers, but not T-Mobile, the biggest national operator (and an operator through which I get free hotspot service).  I ended up dialing up through my T-Mobile EDGE phone to get my football fantasy league picks in that weekend.  And a nod goes to AirTran, who now offers XM satellite radio on its planes and gives away free cheapie earbuds.  I scored about five pairs.  I was a little annoyed I couldn't hear the Maryland/Boston College game, though.  On the trip from Atlanta to Baltimore on the way back, we were in the newest, cleanest Boeing jet I have ever seen.  The rental shitbox in Kansas City was brand new, too... 255 miles on it.  It was some ugly thing called a Dodge Caliber, and it looked like a truck that had been mashed into the shape of a Pontiac Aztec.  It was cheap, though, and had lit cup-holders.

On the actual day of Thanksgiving, Suzanne had to work, so I stayed home, watched television all day and then went out to an all-you-can-eat buffet.  The turkey was pretty bad... it had that salty, chemical-ish taste of the white meat in one of those Swanson turkey dinners, or maybe that "turkey roll" that comes in the deep aluminum baking pan with gravy already on it.   Coupled with that, I had to witness some 20-something sow getting a takeout container and simultaneously ignoring her hyperactive brat, who was running all over the buffet and trying to taste every spoon and ladle his little fat fingers could reach.  The restaurant staff eventually had to physically stop him from doing so, since his sow was blissfully ignoring him as she chose just the perfect olive.   I want to beat some people with a large board with small nails in the end until they agree never to reproduce again.

This immediate past weekend, Suzanne and I did Thanksgiving on a delayed basis, roasting a large turkey breast on Saturday and making pie, stuffing, potatoes and all that other stuff.  It was quite enormous, all in all.  We lounged around on Saturday night in a sort of stupor.  The rabbits largely ignored all the great vegetable treats we offered them.

Interesting gadgets

I finally completely gave up on using the Datel WiFi Max PSP I bought a couple of months ago.  In theory, it's simple:  you plug it into a USB socket on a PC that has a broadband connection, and you can then share the connection with whatever portable 802.11x-capable stuff might be in the area.  In practice, it was a frustrating piece of shit that had to be fiddled with every time I used it.  My idea was, I wanted to be able to use Suzanne's cable modem connection when I was at her house, since I always have one or another of the Apples with me.  The installation was garbage, requiring numerous restarts and requiring that I kill a bunch of software she had running.  Further, once I had it installed, far from becoming a WAP as intended, Windows tried to use the thing to join her neighbor's WAP-protected wireless network!  It brightly announced all the other networks in the vicinity and tried to join them, rather than creating a network and letting me join it.  Further, once it finally cooperated and started working mostly as intended, I found it only supported one wireless device at a time.  Those of you interested in gaming with more than one PSP, this ain't gonna do it.  Worst of all, I'd go away, come back a week later, and find that the Datel dingus which had worked fairly well when I left on Monday decided to stop working for NFR (no fucking reason) by Friday.  There was no time I could get it to revive without a minimum of fifteen minutes of swearing, restarts, and plugging and unplugging the thing.  It was $40, and I finally said scruit and went and got a perfectly reliable Linksys WRT54G this weekend for $60, plugged it in and in minutes, the PSP, my phone, and both Apples were talking happily among themselves.

The most popular gadget of the weekend was definitely the apple peeler and corer I bought a couple of months ago but only now used (for apple pie).  Hey, quit laughin!  This son of a bitch works!  You clamp it to the counter with this big suction cup, stick a whole apple on the end, crank for ten seconds, and you end up with a perfectly-peeled appled, sliced like a spiral-cut ham, and no seeds!  Plus, the long string of apple peel (we called it "apple spaghetti") that resulted was an enormous hit with the rabbits.  The last time I cored and peeled apples at Suzanne's house, I had to dick with them for about three or four minutes each, and this thing produced much better results in less than three minutes for the entire pile.  Run out and get yourself one.  It's cast metal, not plastic.  Nancy and I used to have one of these, but she of course took it with her when she left.

I also picked up a set of really pleasant little Logitech portable speakers.  Sure, there are lots of speakers out there, but I wanted a good-sounding set that ran entirely on USB.  Plug them in, and they work.  The Logitech V20 speakers I found at CompUSA were really surprisingly good.  They come in a semi-hardshell case and have exactly two cords:  one between the speakers, and one USB line to your computer.  I plugged them in, and the sound was excellent.  We got to listen to all sorts of music at a decent kitchen-filling volume while preparing turkey and such.  There are actually buttons on top of the right-channel speaker which will actually control the volume of your laptop and mute it... apparently the play/pause, stop and forward/reverse buttons work with some applications to allow you to control your tunes from the speaker, but for some reason they don't work with iTunes, though the volume control does.  My guess is, they work only with Windows Media Shit or some other such inferior stuff.  I'll check around and see if I can find a hack to allow them to work with iTunes.

In other gadget news, if you are getting an "HD-ready" set from Santa this Christmas, but don't yet have digital cable or just want to use over-the-air and now realize your "HD-ready" set lacks an HD tuner, , I have a Samsung HDTV tuner and an amplified indoor HD antenna I'm selling.  The set set me back about $300 altogether, but since it's useless at my house due to the mountains and the distance from any HD stations, and superfluous at Suzanne's house now that she gave away her old HD-capable projection TV, I'll take $200 for the lot of it.  I can verify it does work quite remarkably well if you're in an area with HD stations.  I was able to pick up both New York and Philadelphia HD and DTV stations and the tuner has a nice signal-strength function you can use to tune the directional HD antenna.  Send me an email if you can use it, otherwise it's goin' up on eBay.

Other stuff

I forgot to call my parents on Thanksgiving.  What made that somewhat odd is that later, I didn't feel particularly bad about it.  Part of that might have been that I know they were up at my brother's house for dinner -- they don't do dinner at their house any more -- and I don't have that number.  Another part might have been that I wasn't prepared to answer the questions I knew would come about whether I'd be up there for Christmas.  I'm pretty sure I will not be.

I didn't shop anywhere on Friday last.  The day after Thanksgiving, I went to work and then went to Suzanne's.  I buy stuff online now.

Did anyone else think the NFL Network's coverage of the Denver/Kansas City game on Thanksgiving night blew ass?   Friends tell me that the camera work was bad, the production crappy, and bryant Gumbel was doing the play-by-play.  I thought his brother Greg was the sporto, where Bryant has spent the last few decades on the Today Show interviewing novelists and Britney Spears.
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44. Turtle11/28/2006 05:12:44 PM


Fark. Yes, I should have remembered that from days of doing my podcast... RSS podcasts depend almost entirely on the CDATA operator! Then again, since I haven't updated my podcast in almost ten months, I guess I forget this stuff. You have saved my ass, and I owe you a beer at Lotusphere. Thanks.




45. Steve Castledine11/28/2006 11:28:24 AM
Homepage: http://www.stevecastledine.com


Ae you able to wrap your html with <![CDATA[ etc so that the parser will ignore it on the way in?

http://www.w3schools.com/xml/xml_cdata.asp




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