Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Marijuana & Legalizing Zombies

An article was published today on CNN that revealed that the man who chewed off 70% of a homeless man's face was high on Marijuana , and not the previously assumed "bath salts". Like any good citizen, i immediately start looking through the comments to see what the masses had to say about the topic at hand, and how CNN presented the article. 

Courtesy of

I found an overwhelmingly disproportional amount of people who were up in arms about how this article was intended to slander "weed's good name", and hinder any progress that's been made towards gaining a more widespread acceptance of marijuana.

When Time published an article on "smoking pot", they found that
42% of those surveyed admitted to having ever smoked marijuana in their lifetime. Now they didn't state who were active daily/weekly/monthly users, just had ever tried. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt that the they omitted that information because of short-sighted  journalism and not because the author had a political agenda.

On NIDA's website for drug abuse, they state that about 8% people they surveyed used marijuana on a daily basis.

If you do a quick google inquiring as to How many Americans smoke marijuana, instead of finding an answer, you'll find numerous results with headlines saying that 45% to 60% of people are in favor of  legalizing marijuana.

However, I once took a survey on my stance for legalizing marijuana, and i was presented with multiple choice. An example of what they had for answers was:
  • A) Yes, legalize it. 
  • B) Legalize it, but only for medical use
  • C) Let the states decide 
  • D) Don't legalize it 
  • E) Don't legalize it and increase the penalty for those caught smoking it. 

I chose answer B (it's okay if you disagree with me, it's not really relevant to the "point" i'm trying to make), but my answer was counted as part of the percentage of people who are "For Legalizing Marijuana". Now of course that percentage is now being used as a statistic showing that i'm part of a group of people in favor of something that i'm not really in favor of. 

Now of all these stats, depending upon their political agenda, i assume that there's going to be some sort of fudging of the numbers in one way or another. But even if it was split right down the middle 50/50, i would dare say that 90% of the comments on CNN's article were the group of people up in arms trying to defend Lady Pottery and her "right to get high". So you can understand my confusion as to why there was such a large discrepancy in how one-sided the comment conversation seemed. 

Then it hit me....

Although there may have been a few people reading that article who were like me and had a job with access the computer and can browse the internet and news sites on their breaks (or whenever i feel like really, i hit my deadlines)....the rest could be accounted for as part of one identifiable group!

All the potheads were at home sitting on their couch with their laptops, obviously having lost their jobs to a failed drug test, holding a handful of munches in one hand, and googling "weed" with the other hand! Of COURSE they're going see the headline, read the article and think: 
"What? Weed not bad, weed good! Tell them weed good...". 

It all started to make sense, all is right in the world again! I think i will now work on getting myself a pet zombie.

Even you potheads should be able to laugh at that. And if you can't....light one up and read it again :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Database Programmer - The Importance of History Tables

Any programmer who has taken over where another programmer left off can easily compile a list of things they wish the previous programmer did or didn't do. Some people are anal about naming convention, some people are unhappy about the choice of language, choice of environment, or too large of a dependency on third party libraries.

Truth be told, when i took this job, I've complained to myself about ALL of these (my girlfriend can tell you all about it!) All those complains aside, the problem that seems to come up the most often and ends up consuming the largest amount of time fixing, is bad database architecture.

With that bad architecture, there was also a gaping lack of audit logs or any trail to follow when trying to find out how certain data in the database got to the current state it's in. As time has progressed, I've added history tables to some of our most important & and active tables, but as any database programmer knows...doing it right AFTER the fact can take up a considerable amount of time.

If my only job were to pose as the database administrator, this would not be a issue, it would just be my job. But since this is still considered a "start-up company" and our workforce is very small, i have the opportunity of filling all the roles that a programming team normally gets to divide and conquer in their specialized roles. That leaves me with little time, and a lot of frustration towards a database that wasn't done right in the first place.

If you are designing tables for a company, here's my plead to you: PLEASE, do it right the first time!

Here's why:
  • Change in Vision:  Once data is modified or, ultimately, lost....there is no getting it back. With history tables, if requirements change (we all know that the "visionaries" we code for are never done with their idea) on how the data should be structured, you can't recreate the data that was lost because of it.
  • Security: If you have programmers on your team, or who work on your project in the future who aren't that well verse in best programmer practices for security, they may leave an open invitation for hackers, who may happen to target you, to find some way to exploit it and possible alter or remove data. With proper structure, and more importantly audit/history tables, you'll be able to recreate data that was changed after the last backup of the database.
  • Reports: Nothing makes the boss more happy than being able to see data aggregated into some form of report. The more data, the better. I'm not one who is skilled in looking at a years worth of data and graphs and being able to change parts of our business model to make for a more productive upcoming year, but i know that some of the people we code for are!
  • Coding Mistakes: I know WE are all perfect and never make a mistake (right?), but it's always that dumb programmer who doesn't really know how to code, but thought it would be cool pretend to know how who makes a mistake that accidentally updates your entire customer database instead of just the one intended record.

I'll tell you a story:
When i was a young programmer (Hell, i'm still young), i was working in PL/SQL Developer and i wrote out a query to fix the price of certain people's orders who had gotten placed wrong due to a coding issue in a new part of the system (albeit a problem created by one of my coworkers), had it all formatted pretty so it was easy to read, highlighted it to execute it, but didn't scroll down far enough to include all of my WHERE clause. Ooops?  I changed the price of tens of thousands of orders instead of just the ~10 or so that fit my intended criteria. I about crapped my pants right there.
Fortunately, through my hyperventilating about the possibility of losing my job over a simple mistake,  i remembered that i had the forthought to create a history tables for the table i was updating back when i first created it. I immediately had all automated processes that work on that table temporarily suspended and after a couple of energy drinks, and a lot of sweating, I was able to restore the data.

Now i'm sure this would never happen to any of you, but what if young me comes into do some programming work for you and, because of my obvious excess of charm, manages to find a way past the screening process? Yeah, it will happen, and when it does, you'll be thankful you took the time to design your database properly.

Today, i write this to vent my frustrations about a situation that i'm having to clean up after regarding just a few of our orders: 
We have a partnership with a company that handles financing on some of our orders. We have a product that's tier'd to give additional access to the system depending upon the size of the product the customer chooses. Unfortunately, said finance company chose to originally accept, and then later deny financing on said order resulting in an order going through the completion process and then later needing to be reversed.
Due to poor site & database design, the access to the system is not based off of what data is in the database, but rather access values are inserted into a particular table based off of customer input (that is never stored in it's raw format) received at the completion of the order. Since there were never any history tables attached to this particular table, access was overwritten, and original access from the customer's original input was lost entirely. 

Are you pulling out your hair yet? Stressed out? 

If you're not, then congratulations, you've mastered the art of "not caring" :)

Please adjust the time expectations of the people you program for, to allow yourself enough time to Do Things Right the first time!

Here's a good write-up of how to design and what should be included in your history tables:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

XBOX 360 Credit Card Vulnerability False?

Microsoft disputes the claim that Xbox 360 can put your credit card information at risk stating that 
"Xbox is not designed to store credit card data locally on the console, and as such seems unlikely credit card data was recovered by the method described"

I'm more interested in the choice of words used by this author over at

Monday, March 12, 2012

Did you look with your hands?

When i was growing up, i was taught the proper way to look for something that i was trying to find. If i didn't search thoroughly enough, and went to my mother for help she would simply reply "Did you look with your hands?". The question implying that i went into my room, glanced around at the walls, and then went to her satisfied that i had given it my all in my search...rather than moving stuff around, looking in drawers, leaving no rock unturned. 

The concept of actually putting effort into something you attempt to do wasn't unique to just trying to find an object. My father also would tell me "Anything worth doing, is worth doing right." along with "Putting the extra work to get something done right now, will save you a lot of time in the long run"

 So fast forward to now, where i have to interact with coworkers, and contacts from 3rd party companies we do business with. I get frustrated enough when i don't feel like my co-workers are using their brain, pulling their weight in a project, or if i feel they're doing just enough to check something off their list. But when i have to deal with that kind of stuff from people in other companies, where i can't speak my mind about it, i just...well...i write a blog about it! 

I work for a recent start-up that just got through it's first year of business with all sails still catching wind, my main responsibility is programming. A company that we work with, i won't say which one (but if you work for that company, please take what i say to heart...and fix it.), is constantly pushing my buttons. Since i was their first contact, when i programmed our system to work with their API, word got around that i was the man to contact for any an ALL questions even if it has nothing to do with making sure the system is working, or programming. 

I constantly get emails from people in one of their departments claiming that they have been unsuccessful in getting in contact with a customer of ours, and have exhausted all their resources. When we first started doing business together, i was more than happy to oblige them and see what i could do to help (my intent was to cement a good rapport in our business relationship). However, as time went on, i began to notice that rarely did they ever fit what i would consider "exhausting their resources". I could see that our system sent them a contract just a few hours before i would get an email from them pleading for my help. So after a few hours of trying (my assumption is a single attempt was made on all available phone numbers supplied), they had resolved that their resources were exhausted

Imagine any programmer you know (we, in general, are very impatient with the general public), and please imagine a vein bulging out of his\her forehead. 
 I started ignoring these emails until i would get a second one from the same person for the same person, at which point i'd forward it on to our customer service team, and reply back stating that we were going to attempt to reach out to the customer on their behalf. Today, however, i decided to be nice. I had already accomplished a lot today and was feeling extremely generous, so within a few minutes of receiving their email, on good faith (assuming sufficient time had elapsed to justify their "exhausted" claim), i stopped the work i was doing and forwarded it to our customer service team, then replied back stating we were going to help. A few minutes later, i get a reply back stating that they were able to get in contact with the customer, and everything is good to go! i look at the order and see they received just under an hour ago. At what point, during that hour, did they decide that they had "exhausted" all their resources? Do they have lead handsets on their phone? Are their keypads backed by 10 pound springs making it incredibly hard to push down the buttons to dial someone's number? Maybe they're forced to do push-ups while their manager sits on their back whenever they make an outbound call...who knows? 

What i DO know, however, is that in the future...i'm far less likely to be generous with those individuals, no matter how chipper my mood is.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Survey Says... Windows Phone Not Boring

Windows Phones

Joe Wilcox of betanews asked readers “Are You Bored with
Your Windows Phone?”
in an article last week. The readers responded with a
resounding “No.”
Joe explains that he had heard a few comments about Windows
Phone users getting bored and since the UI is very similar to what will be
coming out in Windows 8, he wanted to know what to anticipate; would he end up
bored with his computer running Windows 8?

A week later and after over a hundred reader comments, Joe
Wilcox reports that no, Windows Phone is not boring. Many users came out of the
woodworks to let him know that they are not bored with their phone.

As a user of Windows Phone (HTC Radar) I can join my voice
to theirs and say, I am not bored of my Windows Phone. The fluid, easy to use
UI feels natural and amazing to use. The look and feel of it says new and
sleek, something that I crave in my technology. My old Android phone, as much
as I loved it was cluttered and slow to perform, I would spend hours setting up
an app or feature that was designed to save me a few seconds of a process that
was unreasonably convoluted. I can’t say much about iOS as I’ve never used it,
other than to fix my bosses phone, but Windows Simply put is still, after
several months of use, not boring, it is exciting and fun and keeps me wanting

Source: Zunited

Windows Phone Marketplace Expands to 23 new Countries

World Map

Microsoft announced today, at Mobile World Congress that it will be expanding availability of the marketplace to 23 new countries. The 23 new markets expands the current marketplace availability from 40 countries to 63.

Recently the Marketplace had been made available in Argentina, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru and the Philippines and with the new update, support will be coming to: Bahrain, Bulgaria, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Estonia, Iceland, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, Ukraine, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Let us know if you live in one of these newly supported countries or if you are still waiting for the marketplace to come to your country in the comments below.

Source: Zunited

Nokia Pure View 808 Not Windows Phone… Yet

As we speculated a few days ago, Nokia announced their Pure View 808 today, a cell phone with a stunning 41 megapixel camera sensor. The camera will allow users to take crystal clear 5 and 8 megapixel shots while still having the power to take up to 41 megapixel shots that can be cropped and edited later as needed. The phone will be able to record 1080 HD video and due to the 41 megapixel sensor will allow a digital zoom of 4x without compromising quality.

The phone is not running Windows Phone but that should not detour our hopes and dreams as Nokia announced that this technology will be coming to phones in their other product lines, hinting at Windows Phone. having a 41 MP sensor on a Windows Phone would make for an unrivaled camera experience on a mobile phone. With the dedicated camera button, pocket to picture to post and all of that with crystal clear shots, the Windows Phone would be second to none when it comes to taking pictures.

How would you use a 41 MegaPixel camera on your phone? Let us know below.

Source: Zunited

HBO Go App Coming to XBOX on April 1st

HBO has announced that they plan on releasing HBO GO for XBOX on April 1st. HBO Go will be one of a long line of content providers working with Microsoft to provide digital media content on the XBOX.

XBOX has been redefining connected media on box top systems over the last few months with their onslaught of simultaneous media content provider releases. With each media content provider, it becomes more and more possible to leave the traditional TV service providers and use voice and gesture commands with the Kinect to quickly access all your favorite TV shows.

HBO GO is joining the likes of, Hulu, Netflix, Syfy, ESPN, YouTube, and many others to provide a wide variety of options for online streaming of TV shows via the XBOX.

The benefit to online streaming is that you can watch the shows whenever you have time and wherever you happen to be. No longer do you have to make sure you are on the couch in the front room at exactly 8:00 PST to watch your show. DVR and Tivo devices allow you to record shows and watch them at your convenience. However, recordings do take up space and you can only store so many, so once you fill up your hard drive, you must delete some shows which you will no longer have access to unless you manage to record some re-runs of that show. With online streaming, you get access to entire series of shows, without the necessity to record the shows first, and the access almost never goes away (as long as you keep paying for the service that is.) You can also access shows from almost anywhere; Hulu and Netflix are available on most internet TV devices, smart phones, and tablets.

Personally I only have one TV in my house and it has no antennas, cable lines, or satellites hooked up to it. The only thing it has connected is my XBOX. Between the XBOX and Netflix and Hulu on my laptop we can watch all our favorite shows whenever we want.

Is it possible for online TV streaming to replace traditional TV service providers? Do you watch more TV shows on your TV or do you use online services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus? Tell us below!

Source: Zunited

Viewsonic Reveals Business Class Windows 8 Tablet at MWC

Viewsonic revealed a business class tablet running Windows 8 that they plan to release in Q2 of 212. The Viewsonic P100 comes in at 10” with an IPS 1280x800 display and a 1.6 GHz Intel N2600 dual-core processor. Viewsonic also released several Ice Cream Sandwich tablets today with stats that are minimal compared to the version they have planned for Windows.

The Wi-Fi only version of the tablet will go for a cool $799.00 and the 3G version will run for $999.00. The stats for the price aren’t completely impressive but it is a sample of things to come in the tablet world.

Are you planning on getting a Windows 8 tablet when they become available? How much are you looking to spend? Will a tablet be able to replace a laptop or desktop or will you still use both? Let us know your answers in the comments below.


New All White Special XBOX 360

Microsoft has announced a new special edition XBOX 360 Kinect Combo Package, what’s so special about it, it has no pigment. XBOX is no stranger to special editions with the star wars edition, the halo edition and many others to match specific games. For those who want something a little classier but still want something special, now you have the Special Edition White version. The 4GB version is available for $300.00.

Which special edition XBOX is your favorite so far?

Source: Zunited

Windows Phone, Only Smartphone OS Not Affected by Webkit Malware Vulnerability

George Kurtz, CEO of CrowdStrike, revealed monday a significant vulnerability that could allow someone to take complete control over your phone that affects all Android, iOS, and Blackberry phones.

Phones running Windows Phone 7 are not affected by this vulnerability. 

This announcement comes while device manufacturers, technology providers, and vendors are revealing all their latest and upcoming additions to the mobile market at the ongoing Mobile World Congress 2012. 

The vulnerability affects any phone that is running a Webkit mobile browser, which for Android, iOS, and Blackberry, is the default mobile browser. Microsoft chose to continue using their own Internet Explorer web browser, and is subsequently unaffected by this vulnerability.

For those affected by this vulnerability, the only thing you can do until a patch comes out, is avoid clicking on links whether it be through your browser, or from an SMS sent to your phone. And for those iPhone users who previously thought that Apple products were "un-hackable", i suspect there you will be specialized counselors coming soon to a "genius bar" near you that can help you come to terms with this earth-shattering realization.

Read more at: