Month: July 2004

Pittsburgh and PNC Park

This week we took a trip out to Pittsburgh. While there, we took a tour of PNC Park, where the Pittsburgh Pirates play. I was even lucky enough to catch a game there with a couple of friends of mine from college.

Overall, I thought Pittsburgh was a really interesting city. There were many aspect of the town that I liked including the new stadiums they have for the Pirates and the Steelers. The houses in certain areas of the city were amazing. I could also tell that it was a city that had seen its better days and is now having a sort of resurgance. I hope it continues and I look forward to visiting the area again soon.

Northren Virginia Was Full

This week marks my last week working at America Online and living in Northern Virginia. I leave with very mixed emotions. For starters, I am very proud of the fact that I was hired on to work on their market leading Instant Messenger product. In many ways, I feel as though I am leaving unfinished business on the table because there were so many ideas and neat initiatives that I wanted to move forward with. Sometimes when you get so involved in a project or a product of such a scale, you fail take a step back and think about what it is that you are working on. Maybe that’s a good thing. :-) The scope of influence that the AIM product has, and the absolutely insane number of people that it touches, is just mind-boggling. AIM has over 35 million active users…thirty-five million…and vastly more accounts that are inactive.

The people at AOL are absolutely fantastic. Everyone I met was supremely nice, professional and just a pleasure to work with. I always felt comfortable. In my short time here, I made some friends that I hope to keep in touch with in the future (probably via AIM!) and I re-connected with some old friends (old in that I have known them for a while, not that they are actually old in years ;-) who I had not seen in a long time. And as a company, I thought AOL offered a lot of great perks to its employees, and it offered a wonderful work environment. I think there were 2, maybe 3, days in total where I did not want to go into the office. That says a lot.

But, life is not all work. And the reality of the situation is that this was just not the right fit for me and my family from a personal perspective. I thought it would be. I thought that it would be an easier transition down to Virginia than it really was. When we were looking for places to live, something just did not feel right. Maybe it was the high prices for cookie cutter townhouses, maybe it was the traffic, maybe it was the “robo towns” or just being away from Lisa and the kids…whatever it was, it was just not right. My wife and I had always intended to live in the NYC area and be close to our many relatives in that area. Its something that is important to us and for our kids. And in the end, that was a key factor in the decision.

I leave Northern VA with few regrets and enthusiastically return to New Jersey and the New York metro area. I will be working in Lower Manhattan starting in early August and I am thrilled to be back working in Manhattan. The commute will be something I will have to adjust to, but I have my iPod to keep me rockin’ and my wonderful wife and kids to go home to.

Rotten Apple

So all of two weeks ago, I proudly noted that I was a new owner of an Apple iPod. And what does Apple do? They go and release a new version of their iPod with a more robust battery, some software enhancements, a new navigation wheel, and a thinner body (barely). And to top it all off, the cost of their 20GB version was $100 less than what I paid for the same storage capacity, and their 40GB version was the same price as what I paid for 20GB!! So if I had known, I would have obviously waited, and then would have almost definitely purchased the 40GB version for the same $399 price. Needless to say, I am not happy about what has transpired. After multiple calls to American Express and Apple, Apple was able to issue me a $100 credit for my purchase to reflect the new price of the 20GB unit, and I do appreciate that. The price difference really irked me but I think the bigger frustration is that if I had waited two measly weeks, I could have purchased the newer model. I am still trying to figure out how I can get the new one, but if not, I am more than happy with what I have and getting the price break definitely makes me feel better about the situation. But I just knew something like this would happen. Its just my luck!!

Alternate Style Sheets

I have created some alternate style sheets for my site. The various flavors can be chosen by clicking on any of the four square icons on the top of the right hand column on each page. I have a few more flavors that I would like to add to the mix, however they are a work in progress at present.

The Blue style sheet is the primiary style sheet for the site and it also holds the core page structure and page presentation of the site together, including the navigation, the header the main body and the right hand column of each of the pages. To enable the alternate style sheets (the Orange, Purple and Earth tone one), it was really a pretty simple adjustment. I simply pulled out of the main stylesheet the elements that needed to be changed, placed them in their own CSS file, and switched out the specific images/icons and settings to reflect the color scheme I wanted to employ. I then used Paul Sowden’s Style Sheet switcher javascript to enable this functionality. So when the style sheet switcher calls one of the alternate style sheets, it essentially only switches the elements that I changed but leaves all the other attributes from the primary style sheet intact.

I will highlight the other new flavors I am working on in a future post, but my goal is to go one step further with these style sheets and develop a different page structure and interface similar to the way CSS Zen Garden does it.

Letterman

I am watching Letterman and he has Hillary Duff as his guest. She has to be one of the most annoying people I have ever watched on television. It just amazes me that people like this become famous and that there are others out there who actually pay to waste two hours of their life watching this bimbo on the big screen. And even scarier, there are executives and movie studios paying her. Hollywood never ceases to amaze me.

Fahrenheit 9/11

Last weekend I went to see Michael Moore’s movie Fahrenheit 9/11. I have to give Mr. Moore credit for his relentless drive to make these sorts of documentary movies. He has always been quite outspoken and passionate towards certain causes such as gun cotrol, stupid politicians, and the fiasco that is the Iraq war.

In regards to this movie, I was very interested in the early part of the movie where he depicted the scary and intertwined way that the Bush family (Daddy Bush and Baby Bush) have hoodwinked the entire population of the USA in order for them to tap into Middle Eastern oil fields. Haven’t the American people figured it out that father and son Bush’s agenda has always been to tap into the Middle Eastern oil money? Obviously, Mr. Moore has figured this out and has depicted it in a very effective manner. Was all that information true? Who knows. I am sure there are some stretches here and there. But I bet most of it is on the mark. For me, the movie faded at the end as they got into those stories about the woman from Michigan and the troops in Iraq. I suppose it was somewhat interesting to hear their perspectives and to see first hand what they were experiencing during this strange time in our history. However, to me, the more facinating aspect of the movie was how he was able to directly tie both Bush administrations to the Saudi oil fields and further corroberate the fact that the only motivation the Bush administration had to declair war on Iraq was to gain control of their oil.

Big Brother 5

I am embarrassed to report that, for some reason, I have become hooked on the show Big Brother on CBS. Its actually something I have been suffering from for the past few years. The root of this evil started back a few years ago when we were on a family vacation in Maine and on an uneventful evening, we watched an episode of the show. And it just went downhill from there. Now the past few years have been entertaining enough for me to keep watching. The people on the show were somewhat interesting and made for decent television. But this year, I may cut my ties with the show. They have these two jackasses Jase and Scott, who walk around with bandanas on their heads and no shirts, thinking they own the CBS network not to mention everyone in the house. I am not sure if I will continue watching this year, but if I do, it will be only to pull for someone in the house to evict both of these fools. At least the women on this year’s show are easy to look at.

Yahoo! Search Shortcuts

Check out these Yahoo! Search Shortcuts recently released by Yahoo! Search. They are just some amazing tools for people to use to find most anything you may need. And I think the most impressive and lucrative aspect of this is how it can drill down to specific towns and regions. This is going to open up a huge amount of revenue opportunities for them.

iPod

So I ordered an Apple iPod this weekend. Looking forward to loading it up and using it!! I ordered the 20GB size basically because I could not justify spending $500 for it. They were running a promotion where I could get it engraved for free, which I gladly took advantage of. I put this url and my email address on it figuring that if I ever lost it, maybe some kind soul would email me and return it. Also, I figure 20GB is more than enough space for most of my current CD collection plus other songs that I will eventually acquire from iTunes. My wife was even nice enough to purchase a $15 Gift Certificate for me to get started on iTunes. I would have preferred the BMW for my iPod but beggars can’t be choosers. Rock on.

Update – The iPod was delivered by FedEx ahead of schedule at 10:18AM on Friday July 9th! Yay! Can’t wait to use it.

Flight From Hell

So I took my second flight on Independence Air within the month, and similar to the first one, this one was also an adventure. For some reason, whenever I have flown out of Dulles Airport to NJ, the weather has been very unstable and there is no doubt that contributed to my adventure.

So to start, we boarded and left the terminal for the runway after some weather delays. We are on line for takeoff and then the Captain comes on the PA to say we need to return to the terminal because there has been an additional delay and that we need to pick up more passengers. We return to the terminal and are greeted at the front of the airline by Police security. It turns out that there were two convicted felons on the plane that passed security without being stopped. Yeah, that makes me feel safe. So, by this time, the weather has deteriorated further and we are now delayed at the terminal. Many passengers were complaining and the jovial spirit of the last adventure was no where to be found (probably because the weather was far worse then).

In addition to the felony situation, there were two parents and their ~18 month old son sitting in front of me. And of course, the son was screaming at the top of his lungs for the majority of the flight. Sitting next to me was a very nice Indian man who had apparently not showered in quite a long time, because his B.O. permiated the immeidate space. He also had a bag that he chose not to check, and was also too big to put in the overhead compartments. He jockeyed and positioned himself in every way with his bag at his feet, and the bag overflowed into my foot space, which on a plane I value immensely since I am 6’3″. He eventually shifted to another seat prior to takeoff which I was thankful for but he did not go far so the aroma still permiated.

And just to cap it off, there was an Italian guy flying up to Newark who had to catch a connecting flight to Rome, IT and of course, it was the only flight to Rome that evening.

My adventures in flying…as I mutter to myself.