I was working late the other night with a client who was doing a web site switchover, and managed to come up with a clever solution to his problem. He sent me an e-mail:

Nice one. Thanks Jeff.

I bet you know how to solve a Rubik’s cube too.

And of course I had to admit that yes, in fact I do know how to solve one. Then he threw down the gauntlet.

When I was a kid, I could get about 2/3 of the way through one of the algorithms, but then I would just get lost.  So when I stumbled on the cube on someone’s desk a few weeks back, my determination was reignited.  I’m no speed demon, but I’ve got the sequence down.  Takes me about 4 minutes right now.

Complete with photo!

So I dug around my closet a bit and unearthed the Cube that I had when I was a teenager (junior high, maybe?). I scrambled it a bit:

And then I went to work. It took a few practice runs to remember all of the moves, and then I had Laralee time me as I went for speed.

1:30. Oh yeah, the old man still has it.


Mmm…. spam.

These must be the happiest people I’ve ever seen to find out they owe more than ten grand on their taxes.


Ha, new logos from our favorite financial institutions…


It looks like banking and financial CEO’s really took a hit on their bonuses in 2008. Apparently they dropped 44% from 2007, to a paltry $18.4 billion. It sure must be rough to be a bank CEO.


As someone who’s never missed a mortgage payment, it infuriates me to read about how the Gov is bending over backward (with my tax dollars!) to help homeowners who got in over their heads. From an article I read today:

The Fed said it would consider reducing the interest rate paid on mortgages at risk of default, extending the term of the loan, and accepting a deferral or reduction of the outstanding principal balance of the loan.

So if you don’t (or can’t) pay your mortgage, don’t worry! The Fed will step in and drop your interest rate, extend the loan, and even pay off some of the principal for you. Whee!

I realize that people fall on hard times, and I realize losing your house is a big deal. But at the same time, it’s a travesty that people can’t take responsibility for their own finances. Today we just took one more step toward Socialist America.


From an article about programming by Jeff Atwood:

Unlike applications, web applications are not released in one to three year cycles. They are updated every day, sometimes every hour. Rather than being finished paintings, they are sketches, continually being redrawn in response to new data.

I compare web applications to Von Kempelen’s famous hoax, the mechanical Turk, a 1770 mechanical chess playing machine with a man hidden inside. Web applications aren’t a hoax, but like the mechanical Turk, they do have a programmer inside. And that programmer is sketching away madly.

I like this because it’s so very true. The web sites I build change weekly, daily, sometimes hourly as customers ask for new features, minor tweaks, and other random changes. It’s fast-paced and exciting to watch a site evolve, but at the same time it’s dangerous territory for a programmer because a mistake instantly affects all kinds of users immediately. Whoops.

Many moons ago I did application programming and loved it, but I think I like web programming because it’s fast and dirty and just plain fun to slam out a new feature only hours after someone asks for it.


Snow day!

It’s coming down pretty hard today, so the guys and I are all going to work at home. Sometimes it’s sure nice to have a home office…


“Opportunity is a haughty goddess who wastes no time with those who are unprepared.”

— George Clason


Yay for Obama, who signed an executive order today ordering the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. The abuses conducted there are a national embarrassment and a sad legacy of the misguided Bush administration tactics against suspected terrorists.

It remains to be seen how the details will play out, but at least we’re heading in the right direction.



Today I was driving to a meeting and for some inexplicable reason I started thinking about inertia.

Inertia is, of course, the tendency for an object in motion to stay in motion (or at rest) barring any external force. And I think all of us tend to have inertia in our lives. We do the same things (or don’t do things) not necessarily because they’re the “right” things or the “best” things, but rather because they’re the things we’ve been doing for so long that it’s just easier to keep doing them than to change and do something different.

Since my business is a big part of my everyday life, I tend to think about ways to improve it or expand it or just generally be more successful. And I wonder if I have too much inertia in the way I do business. I’ve been doing it more or less the same way for almost nine years now, and although I’m happy with my progress and proud of where I am, at the same time I can’t help but wonder if changing this or that would take me in new directions that would be even more rewarding.

The hard thing about inertia is overcoming it. I guess one of my New Year’s resolutions should be to do just that. And not just in business, but in my life in general. How many of my daily activities are nothing more than inertia? How many more great things might I be able to do if I overcome that inertia and move in a different direction?


Geeky thoughts from Slashdot:

Why can’t computers boot in a second or less?

Imagine a visionary like Steve Jobs. He goes to his team and says “I don’t care what it takes, build me a computer which boots in one second”.

Ignore the past, the legacy of tens of years of layer after layer of OS software. Can it be done?

A 3 GHz dual-core processor can process 6 billion instructions in that first second. I know the disk is a problem. I’m not asking for all possible OS services to be up in a second… But I’m sure this could be improved greatly. It’s all out there in the open. People want this.

Good question. Back in The Day, my trusty old Apple IIe booted in maybe 20 seconds, and most of that was spinning up the five-and-a-quarter disk drive. Now it takes ten times that long for my Linux system to present me with my KDE desktop. Yet the hardware is literally millions of times faster than it was back in the 1980’s.



I just got an awesome piece of spam titled Claim your share of Government BAILOUT!

Apparently it’s that easy! Get this little blue box (shown in the lower left corner) called the “Government Grant Kit” and you’ll soon be riding a yacht through an ocean of money. And your wallet will literally be spewing one-dollar bills.

Wait, one-dollar bills? Couldn’t they even get twenties for their hokey ad?


Snippets of a conversation between me and a designer friend of mine:


I built a one-page form for a client yesterday because she told me it would probably take their agency until February to get it done.  So I sat down for about 30 minutes and did what was needed.


Yeah, it’s like the agencies are playing hard to get. The clients say, “They can’t design my site until 2011? I MUST work with them!”

It’s funny only because it’s true. If it took me ten times longer (and I charged ten times as much) then I’d be just like the big agencies in New York and Los Angeles.


Today at lunch Tony posed a teaser question:

Today the phase of the moon is waning gibbous (meaning it was full just a few days ago, so it’s nearly full now but getting smaller each day). What’s the phase of the Earth as seen from the moon?

We debated it for a few minutes and basically decided it would be opposite. In other words, the Earth would currently be waxing crescent (small and getting bigger).

Tony joked that I’d have to look up the answer tonight to make sure, so indeed I did. Here’s what I found:

The phases of the Earth and moon are always the reverse of each other. When we see the moon as nearly full, any moon people would see a slim crescent Earth. When we see a completely full moon, the moon, Earth and sun are in a line– with Earth in the middle. Then people on the moon wouldn’t see Earth at all because it would be hidden in the sun’s glare.

Props to Tony for a puzzler.


The other day I was down at the co-location facility where I lease space for my web hosting servers. I’ve been continually growing for the past few years, adding servers and other hardware to keep things running smoothly as the need for more capacity increases. I decided to take a few pictures of the servers so I can track everything for maintenance (and insurance) purposes.

When I looked at the photos I realized this whole setup looks like quite a mess.

And that’s only about half of the refrigerator-sized rack that I have: there are more servers (and wires) above the top of this photo, and a few below as well.

Amazing that things work as well as they do…


My friend Rick took a surprise trip to the hospital this weekend, and I texted him today to see if I could come over and visit. His response was awesome.

Hot nurses! A nice reclining bed! Jell-o for every meal! What’s not to like about the hospital?


A hilarious de-motivational poster that caught my eye:


Every now and then God looks down on His creation and decides that it’s time for a good ultimate game.

So yesterday, in His infinite wisdom, he graced us with an absolutely gorgeous day: sunny, 60 degrees, and a slight breeze (hey, He has to challenge us just a little bit). And fourteen of us headed out to the fields and had a great time.

Disclaimer– this photo wasn’t taken yesterday.

Of course it made me realize how out of shape I am; it’s been a few months since I went running around for a solid hour. But hey, at least I wasn’t the only one huffing and puffing on the field.

Now today it’s chilly, windy, and they’re predicting snow. So it goes. Hopefully the Almighty will give us another nice day next week.


Well, it’s that fun time of year again: the part where I have to send an estimated tax payment to the IRS. Since 2008 is over, I owe personal taxes against the profits of my corporation. And if I don’t pay them by January 15th the IRS gets all huffy and demands interest and other fees.

I always hate writing checks to the IRS, but these days it feels particularly hard because I know that my money is just going to get channelled to some big corporation who happens to have persistent lobbyists. So I decided that I might as well suck it up, face reality, and encourage the government to do what they’re going to do anyway.

I wonder if smart-aleck comments on your tax checks flag you for an audit…


After a grueling recount, it looks like Al Franken’s friends will have to start addressing him as “Senator Franken”. It appears he’s beat out the Minnesota incumbent by just over 200 votes.

How awesome that a former Saturday Night Live star can rise to such an… err… auspicious office.